Status Single

If I were to be interviewed tonight regarding my thoughts on dating, men and myself, I might be banned from opening my mouth again. Or maybe my words would reverberate a familiar tune to those walking a similar path.

There is a linguistic dance party in my brain and the words all seem to be dancing to a different tune.

I have been officially divorced for about a year and a half. I was legally separated for about a year and a half before that. To clarify, this was a first divorce after an 18 year first marriage (23 years together). I had never planned on a divorce and I am not sure what I think about another marriage. I do know that I never want another divorce. Ever.

The only reason I share this is to say that other than my ex-husband, I really had no experience dating. I had experience partying in college, but I am not of the opinion that this is the same as grown up dating. Furthermore, after an 18 year marriage, I came out knowing (mostly) how to be a wife…not how to date. Vast differences.

I find the quote in my picture quite funny. Although, in all honesty, I sleep on one side of the bed always. My side. It’s been “my side” for over half my life. I guess I’m still saving a spot for someone. I also stand under only one of my two shower heads when I shower, though I turn them both on. Again…Saving a spot. Oh the subtle ways we humans express the unspoken and maybe even unrealized is intriguing. Ironic.

I thought I wanted to date soon after our separation. My first ‘date’ was with a dear, dear long time friend. We had a lovely evening of wine, music and deep conversation. He kissed me…twice. The first time I cried. The second time I laughed uncontrollably. These were not the lips I had kissed for the last 23 years and I felt like a cheater. I have apologized to him a multitude of times.

If I remembered how to contact them, I would apologize to the men that took me out during that 3 or 4 month period of time. I would tell them that I was sorry for talking about nothing but my dissolved marriage and my children and to please not take it personal that I couldn’t wait to dash out the door after dinner. Oh…and that I appreciated them offering to walk me to my car but the thought of them trying to kiss me made me vomit in my mouth (but not to take it personal).

Obviously, I wasn’t ready to date. It just took a few dates to let that solidify.

Fast forward to post official divorce and I was in a different place. I was actually ready to explore the world of men (whom I found terrifying). Online dating was my means of exploration. I started, tentatively, soon after the papers were signed. It was not long before I went out for drinks with a really nice guy. One thing led to another and the date lasted until morning. I woke up, and I wanted him to leave. There was an obligatory kiss goodbye, a few nice little follow up texts and I’ve not spoken to him since. I think of him figuratively as the guy who broke the seal. Nothing less, nothing more.

Initially, overwhelmed with guilt, I immediately went to my best friend’s house and told her all about it. I can’t remember…I think I cried at her house that morning.

I had moved one step further away from my broken marriage and I knew it.

There was such a sense of freedom, even among the sadness. I had no regrets.

Soon after, I met the man with whom I would spend the next 9 months. I thought I loved him. I did love him. We experienced things together that I had never experienced. It was exhilarating, until it wasn’t. Unfortunately, he turned out to be a very wounded soul who would’ve destroyed me had I not gotten out when I did.

I’m thankful for my time with him…it grew me up immensely in a short amount of time. There is a broken piece inside of me that still misses him at times, but I know better than to ever delve back into that world.

I had one other relationship for about 3 months. This one was with a super special gentleman that I wronged in the end. I will always treasure those three months and hope that he finds the love of his life because he is incredibly deserving.

Lesson learned…there are titanic size differences in boys and men and age does not define manhood.

Intermittently, I have dated men that I have met online. There have been some fabulous friends made, many first dates, a few that I dated several weeks, a couple of disappearing acts and yes, one or two ickies.

I’ve listened to more Matthew Hussey and Single Smart podcasts than anyone ever should, really!

I have learned terms I never knew I’d need to know during this process.

I’ve been “breadcrumbed” And “benched”, maybe even “cushioned”. The trouble is, sometimes it takes me longer than I’d like to understand this is the case (games suck). I’ve “ghosted” (only once bc he freaked me out) and I’ve been ghosted. “Micro-cheating” feels macro and isn’t cool. “Love bombing” is real. “FWB” is fun’ish until it’s not. “Hi” is supposed to open the doors to a world of fascinating goodness but never feels sufficient.

Some people are able to convey a much broader range of emotions through emojis than they’d ever express in word and deed. For real. ūüėČūü§ĒūüôĄūüėúūüėáūüėąūüíčūüĒ•‚̧ԳŹ and I won’t even get started on the produce emojis!

Here’s a great little link if you’d rather read than experience the terms. (Or perhaps you’ll choose both. I got ya!ūüėČ) https://bestlifeonline.com/online-dating-terms-older-people-dont-know/

A bit of personal wisdom I’ve collected through my “research”…

  1. The dating culture online is fast moving and it’s not uncommon to get ‘real familiar’ with each other quickly. I think it’s something about the false safety of technology.
  2. Kissing is superfun and men are supercool. Seriously, I like them way more than I ever knew…not so terrifying after all. Also, a kiss can just be a kiss. It is not a covenant. Seriously.
  3. The range of wants is on a spectrum. Imagine one end is raw, uninhibited sex for a couple of hours and the other is deep, intimate connection for a lifetime. EVERYTHING FALLS IN BETWEEN . I must be clear about what I want in any given situation. Even better if the other party is clear you. I am learning all about what I want through an experiential training in my own life. Honestly, it’s often confusing and I don’t know what to do but feel it out and absorb the experience.
  4. Some can be intensely overwhelming the first few interactions…block them. As a matter of fact, block anyone who gives you any sense of the heebie jeebies, without regrets. No fixer uppers needed.
  5. Dating can be fun. It can also be exhausting and feel like being on a continual interview. Take a break when a break is needed and enjoy it fully when that’s what is needed.
  6. Dignity, honesty, respect, safety, boundaries, and a sense of humor…absolute necessities in my world.
  7. It’s lovely to be treated like a lady and it’s just as lovely to enjoy the company of a gentleman. I love my girlfriends but it’s simply not the same. Men smell good (hopefully), they feel good and they are just enjoyable to be around in a different way.
  8. I am a little bit old fashioned in some ways and a little bit ahead of my time in others. That’s okay. Just gotta be me.
  9. Someone does not have to be evil to not be good for me.
  10. I don’t have to be evil not to be good for someone else.

I told my best friend today, I would love to just date one person but I don’t really want a relationship yet. She asked exactly what I meant. I let her know that I wanted one someone to do fun things with; talk deeply with; someone to take me out; someone to kiss and snuggle and all the other stuff. She asked how this was not a relationship. Why? Simply because I said so.

I let another close friend know pretty much the same thing the other day. But I added that I wanted to be seen and appreciated for who I was; I wanted to see and appreciate the other person for who they are and I wanted to really love and cherish each other.

Currently, some part of me still goes toward and connects to those who likely won’t be my long term partner. I seem to unconsciously be drawn to the men that fit lots of my criteria but not the part that includes love and cherish in the intimate, forever sense. It’s tough…commitment is fleeting and vulnerability is rare.

In this arena; A grown up kid enjoying the playground and also knowing she yearns for her own “When Harry Met Sally” kind of everlasting love….that is me.

Until then…The journey is mine to embrace. Me learning to love myself fully is my assignment.

That’s a lot.‚̧ԳŹ

Celebrate

It’s National Heart Health month and Congenital Heart Defect awareness week. I’m thinking about Dr. Loughridge who performed the full correction of my tetrology of fallot 45 years ago, my Dr. Cooper…the cardiologist who ‘grew me up’ and the cardiologists and medical personnel who have helped and do help me stay healthy and strong.
I am thankful for the practice of medicine. I am deeply grateful for those who dedicate themselves to learning the science of healing in all aspects. I am thankful for the God who fills my lungs with air and my spirit with joy.
Whenever these celebratory awareness events occur, I celebrate. But I celebrate always because I have seen first hand that my life is a gift to be treasured. Our moments are precious indeed, and time is truly a gift.
I ask myself and God why in the world I am here and others are not. Scientifically, I did not fit neatly into the statistics. I will never have the answers. I will never think my life is more significant that another’s. I will be grateful, deeply grateful for each breath and I will strive to find the wonder, awe and joy in each living being as long as I am here.
Anyway…HAPPY HEART MONTH! Love a little more!

Trust the Process

I have no idea what I am writing about tonight, or what I am trying to say. Just going to go with pouring out my heart and see what happens; this seems to work well for me in writing.

I’ve been looking for this quote forever. I knew it was Aristotle and I knew I had written it in a journal years ago. I couldn’t find the exact quote, even on Google, lol! I also couldn’t find the journal…until tonight.

I have a friend going through the dying process with his Mom. It was only 2.5 years ago that I lost my Daddy and so many memories have come flooding back. Anyway…he was sharing tons of family pictures which in turn, inspired me to start looking through old photos. I was able to just get through a couple of albums before I felt like I was headed toward emotional overload….because each picture bring a special sentiment with it.

In the mix of the albums I dug out, I found a few old journals. The first page I opened to was the long lost quote. Validation. I didn’t make it up!

“I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is over self.” -Aristotle (written in my journal, June 18, 2010)

I loved this quote years ago, it still fits. I feel it is my constant yearning in life to gain victory over myself..my ugly talk, my self-defeating behavior, the lies I believe about myself, the rules I create, the illusion of control, letting go…all in effort to live truly as who I am made to be. Not in anyone’s shadow, not in the history that is mine; rather by standing tall as who I am…inside out. It’s a journey for sure.

I also found a little piece of my history that I thought was gone forever. My Grandma used to write me letters when she was angry at me. (often). My sweet Momma once destroyed (we thought) all of those letters in order to save me from further hurt. I understood and at the same time was so sad that she did, I didn’t know why.

This post could be a little here, there and everywhere and that also fits. No matter how planned our lives are, there is always a bit of scattering. Personally, I find that beautiful. If I didn’t allow myself to be open to that which is not in my plan, I’d be missing so many opportunities. If you are not a lover of the unplanned, just stay with me anyway…it’s real.

In that little pile of journals, I found three of her letters to me. I don’t know how they survived, but tonight, I am deeply grateful that they did. In these letters, I saw a summary that confirmed that all I had remembered was as it occurred. She loved me so deeply, and she struggled with mental illness, and her behavior was often emotionally abusive.

Reading those letters I was reminded that her love was strangely possessive, as one might be with a jilted romantic partner. (Never did sexual abuse, nor physical occur in my history). It was an incredibly unhealthy enmeshment that began when I was a young child and that I still have to pull away from at times, although she passed away in 1995.

The craziest thing ever…I have written about the relationship I had after my divorce that was extremely unhealthy. I don’t know the diagnosis, but I do know that his words to me in our final communications were nearly identical to the words in the letters from my Grandma. As Pema Chodron says, “Nothing ever goes away until it teaches us what we need to know”. Let’s hope I’m receiving the lesson.

I can hear Grandma’s voice in my head as she scolded me via the letters. “Why are you doing this to me?”, “Why don’t you love me anymore?” “You better ask God for His forgiveness, He’s going to punish you.”, “Who do you think you are little girl (at 21)”, “When did you get so smart?”

With each little thing I read, I still have internal dialogue and have to talk to the little girl/adolescent/young woman inside of me. I do this to remind myself that she was sick and not in control of herself much of the time; that although she loved me it did not make her behavior okay, and that my God is loving beyond what I can fathom and He is not out to get me. When I do this, I approach my history, and my present, from a place of healing, compassion, grace and forgiveness. I know that I am and was immensely loved.

I also recognize how those words sunk into my spirit and they rear their ugly heads still. “When did I get so smart?” Great question! I have just in the last few years begun to enjoy the fact that I am intelligent, and that conversing with intelligent others and not playing dumb is the true me. No more shrinking. (I fight this one often). Shrinking down to make someone else feel better serves no one well.

“Who do I think I am little girl?” I’m figuring that one out still but I’m becoming joyfully aware that I’m not a little girl. I’m a bad ass grown woman with bad ass grown woman desires and thoughts. I’m also a woman who is filled with peace in reflecting on these letters. They mean I was not crazy. Everything happened as I remember.

“Why don’t you love me anymore?” I am still so afraid for anyone to not feel loved by me, whether they deserve that gift or not….see? Still healing.

There is also no blame for anyone else. Growing up with someone who has a mental illness, or substance abuse issue creates countless self-doubts, guilt and shame for all! It does not just affect the afflicted person, it’s a whole family illness. Behaviors that served me well as a young person trying to survive are no longer useful, as a matter of fact, they are damaging.

Here’s the takeaway…I am thankful that I am in a position of healing for myself and others. I am thankful for my history because I believe my compassion is greater for it. I am able to do beautiful things because of this.

I’m grateful that I’ve had the chance to know God as my persecutor and punisher (which He never was) and as my Savior and Rescuer (which he very much is).

I am appreciative of a family I can share memories with; both easy and hard ones. I am pleased that I am living out of my comfort zone in a multitude of ways and I am intrinsically aware that though I have come so far, I have so far yet to go.

I also found something on my phone today. It was a video I had recorded of myself back in 2016, as my ex-husband was preparing to move out and my Daddy was dying. I looked like the walking dead. No glimmer in my eyes, no peace in my heart, puffy faced and teary eyed. I remember… I was a weary warrior and ready for a rest. But, I couldn’t rest, I had way too many responsibilities. Just keep swimming, right?

It pained me to watch the video. I was in someone else’s skin. I was talking to myself as a child in the video (maybe a counselor had given me that assignment). I told ‘me’ that I was going to be okay, that this was all a journey to learn to love myself. That could not have been more accurate. I was literally trembling as I spoke.

I love myself today more than I ever have in my adult life. I still hate myself sometimes. I am so flawed. I always will be. My journey is to love myself because I am. Just because I am. Only because I am.

I anticipate that even if I never fully ‘arrive’, I will stay on course. I think it’s supercool how all of our life experiences prepare and link us to what is now. I find that deeply comforting.

This is my understanding of the journey of trusting the process.

T.H.A.N.K.S.G.I.V.I.N.G

Happiest Thanksgiving everyone! As I was mixing my banana pudding ingredients this morning, one of my beaters broke in half and flew across the room‚Ķno joke. That is such a mirror to my life right now‚Ķthings that aren’t supposed to (according to my plans) are unexpectedly flying apart. I can’t help but continue to giggle at the irony of life. My siblings, Momma and I all shared a Happy Thanksgiving love you text this morning and my Momma added‚Ķ”There’s not an ugly one in the bunch!” My heart smiled so big‚Ķthis is what my Daddy always said. My heart feels his physical absence super strong this particular holiday season. I have a dear friend in the hospital, two parents I read about just lost their son, my own heart is struggling and I just want my Daddy to hold me tight and let me know everything is going to be alright. So‚Ķas I sit in my warm home waiting for the sweet potatoes to be done baking, I sit and write and cry some big ole tears. I contemplate all that I am grateful for. I’m contemplating gratitude not to distract myself from the hurt but to remind myself of the joy in the journey. Again, pain and joy coincide. My God who loves me bigger, wider and deeper than I can comprehend and the faith I have that he is tangible and real in my life, and holds me as I cry. I hurt, but I am certain I am not a Fatherless child in any way. John and Stella and their sweet Daddy, Nathan. They are the hearts that exist outside of my body and within my own heart always. Looking at them consistently reminds me that I’m not in control, even of ‘my’ most prized and cherished treasures. They stretch me in every way, challenge me to be my best and if ever I forget gratitude, I need to do no more than remember I thought a child would never come from my own body. My family. There really isn’t an ugly one in the bunch. I’m talking the inside and the outside. The hearts in this bunch are gloriously beautiful, extravagantly loving and the best shelter a girl could ever have. My friends. We wrap each other in encouragement and love and sometimes we annoy the crap out of each other. Wouldn’t want to do life without them. Healing hearts. The journey of life. Letting go of my attachment to the outcome and learning to just trust the process. Seriously. Christmas music, cooking, warm toes, yummy smelling candles, new experiences, coffee, fur babies, poetry, writing, the ability to contemplate and choose, growth, openness, trust, laughter and tears, prayer, the knowing that despite all of our differences, we are all the same, worship, compassion, tenderness, kissing, kissing, kissing, hugs, kissing, love, snuggles, opportunities, crispy fall leaves (especially heart shaped ones), walking in the sunshine, rainy days, catching snowflakes on my tongue, being a woman and enjoying my feminine self, tolerance, perspective, pennies from Heaven, baby goats, chickens, the bestest cohort ever in the whole wide world, lipstick, perfume, learning that presence is really is the most significant present, connection, conversations, the gift of angels unaware‚Ķ‚ĶI could go on for eons. Strange that my heart is so much more peaceful than it was 20 minutes ago. I am held, always, no matter what. So are you. Somehow, everything is going to be alright. No matter where you are in life right now, I pray that peace , hope, health and joy encompass you in the most unexpected ways. Happiest Thanksgiving dear ones.

Soul Spark

It has been said, “when the student is ready, the master appears”.¬†¬†¬† Could it be that when the soul is open and willing, God¬†brings the lessons (sometimes painful) that take us to a higher level of surrender (closer to Him)?¬† ¬†It all fits like a perfect puzzle in the end, right?¬† The issue is that no earthling is privy to just what the end is.¬† Possibly, even, what we see as the end is truly the beginning.

My precious friend shared a wonderful Taoist¬†parable with me, I was lost in the beauty of the words and awestruck when he asked me to¬†consider that this was only the middle of our story.¬† If we are in the middle (or anywhere but the end), how is it possible to judge life circumstances as good or bad, for¬†we don’t know the end result.¬† The parable goes like this:

Good or Bad; Who Knows?

There once was a poor rice farmer, who had a very small field just large enough to feed his family.

Then one day a herd of wild horses came run­ning through the vil­lage. They ran into the farmer’s rice field and got stuck in the mud, and since they couldn’t get away, they were his.

His neigh¬≠bor came run¬≠ning over and said, ‚ÄúThis is good news! Such good for¬≠tune! You are rich, this is amaz¬≠ing!‚ÄĚ And the rice farmer said, ‚ÄúGood news, bad news, who¬†knows?‚ÄĚ

A few weeks later the farmer‚Äôs 12-year-old son jumped up on one of the wild horses for a ride, only to be thrown off and have his leg bro¬≠ken. The neigh¬≠bor comes run¬≠ning over and says, ‚ÄúOh no, this is such bad news!‚ÄĚ And the farmer said, ‚ÄúGood news, bad news, who¬†knows?‚ÄĚ

A week later a Chi­nese gen­eral is march­ing through the farmer’s village on the way to war. On this march, the army is con­script­ing every healthy boy over 10 years of age. So they took every boy in the vil­lage except the farmer’s son because of his bro­ken leg.

The neigh¬≠bor comes run¬≠ning over and says, ‚ÄúYes! This is won¬≠der¬≠ful news, how lucky are you?!‚ÄĚ And the father replies, ‚ÄúGood news, bad news, who¬†knows?‚ÄĚ

Life is bursting with opportunities to form dichotomies…good news or bad news, who knows?¬† There comes to mind a¬†zillion personal thoughts¬†initially perceived as¬†bad news that turned out to be the best news.¬† The big ole stroke could’ve been the end of this earthly life.¬† Instead, it gave¬†immediate¬†notification of an unknown hole in my heart that was putting my life in imminent danger, that hole is now repaired.¬† My sweet Daddy’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis was horrific.¬† At the same time, there was so much healing in our relationship that occurred as a result of our time together those last years.¬† My divorce…I struggle with the good news in that, yet I fully trust that it’s there even when I only see glimpses.¬† Another¬† consideration; news for one might¬†seem like bad news for another and vice versa.¬† Again, who knows?¬† Additionally, in each moment we choose our path.¬† Is it possible, even when the ‘good’ is¬†concealed in the¬†dark, to live¬†confidently, ¬†truly believing it’s there?¬†¬†It is¬†more than possible, and I seek¬†to live passionately and¬†wholeheartedly while walking in love, hope and integrity.

Am I living congruently?¬† Do the desires of my inner being mesh better with right this minute or¬†also with¬†hope for a bright future?¬† The things I (think) I believe in my core…do I?¬† Why or why not?¬† Where did I learn them?¬† Yes, I’ve been growing healthier spiritually, physically, professionally¬†and emotionally but there is far more growth to come.¬† I don’t have answers.¬† I don’t want to argue…not even with myself.¬† I don’t want to prove anyone right or wrong.¬† I just want to seek the things that spark my soul.

There is this intense desire to live life fully, embracing completely the season I am in.¬†¬†Learning to love and be loved wholeheartedly, to express and receive genuine adoration…these are “worthy wishes” that¬†are new additions to my repertoire.¬† I’ve prayed often recently, wishing to strengthen my relationship with God more than anything and trusting that the rest will follow.¬† I’ve asked God often for heartfelt relationships that are soulful, deeply engaging and bring me closer to¬† Him. It should be no surprise¬†that my eternally inquisitive spirit has recently been exposed to endless¬†discussions that cause me to ponder and question my own belief system in every area.¬† I¬† cherish this journey, for every opportunity to investigate myself grants the opportunity to live a richer life.¬† There could be a blog written on each question, but until the internal chaos settles a bit, I can only name my ponderings.

  1. ¬†Now that I’ve dared to dream the possibility of a future relationship, what would I dream that it looks like?¬† Heart flutters (the good kind), belly butterflies and googly eyes are excellent; but what beyond these precious prizes?
  2. I believe that God loves me and that I am secure in my salvation.¬† I am baffled that there is so much doubt surrounding that for so many that I love.¬† I’m left wondering how to defend my assuredness and my faith or if defend is even the right word.
  3. Conversations about God and spiritual practice make me happy.¬† They also make me think outside of my box.¬† In the end, all I can do is seek wise counsel and trust that I am on the path God has for me.¬† I really cannot fathom that my path is better than anyone else’s or that there’s is better than mine; I can keep an open heart and mind and¬†seek the value.¬† I guess the challenge in this is searching my own soul and trusting that small, still voice.
  4. I am intrigued by the practices of worship, adoration, meditation, contemplation, and in how we all perceive God and our relationship (or lack of) with Him.  There are so many times that I have run from God, still he pursues me.  I wonder how I live out this unconditional kind of love in my own life?
  5. Where in the heck should I intern and how will this (work, family, growth, school, internship, etc) all come together?¬† This feels like another exercise in trust….am I on Candid Camera?
  6. It’s pure loveliness to be respected, doted over, and presented with fun surprises!¬† It’s lovely, novel, different and feels so grown up.¬† It makes me wonder why I have ever been okay with being treated as less than the beloved girl my Father created me to be.
  7. I don’t have a crystal ball or magic wand yet, I’m not sure why God hasn’t made those my spiritual gifts, lol! Hmmm hat I am reflecting on heavily is the joy in the journey and the impact of earnest gratitude. Gratitude is a life changer, Ranger!
  8. When I willingly lay down my burdens at the cross, everything, everything, everything changes.¬† Why do I insist on holding on not only to my hurt at times, but to control?¬† My theory…I had such a chaotic childhood that knowing the ‘what if’s’ and deciding how things should look creates a false sense of safety for me.¬† Time to let that illusion go.¬† Seriously.
  9. Some things build up slowly, other things are immediate.¬† One is not better than the other.¬† I do wonder though…what does it mean when there is an intense draw to one that I barely know and at the same time,¬† a desire to move away from or stay status quo with one I know well?
  10. Every spark (lots of the sparks) does NOT come through comfortable or kind vessels.¬† Don’t discount the spark, Sarah.
  11. We’ve all been hurt in the past. I think it’s just human nature to try and protect or defend ourselves from more hurt. Sometimes it’s covert and unconscious, other times it’s overt and intentional. Perhaps it’s worth it to investigate what fronts and defenses I put into play and to remember that before I know it, my walls become my devastating enemy.
  12. I forge out the what if’s and all the possibilities I foresee, and when others mess up my plans, I have a propensity toward an inner (sometimes outer) freak out. No! Stop. What an excellent opportunity to be reminded to trust God and his timing before my own. Those freak outs are humiliating and embarrassing and I don’t have to weigh it long to discern my own contribution to the ouch factor.
  13. Laughing…especially ay myself…even at my mistakes…it’s absolutely delightful medicine for my soul. Laughter sparks.
  14. There are places that spark my soul, and if they don’t spark my soul and I’m in those places daily…how do I change that trajectory?¬† Additionally, I dream of places I want to go…namely Maine and Vermont in the fall and back to the Cascade waterfalls.¬† Is that going to happen ever?¬† Gosh, I hope so.
  15. God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.  The more I believe this, the more my heart is filled with unwavering joy.

Albert Schweitzer said it beautifully, “In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.¬† It is then burst into flame by and encounter with another human being.¬† We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.”¬† Life can take our flame and drown it in floodwaters until it’s seems like it’s gone; yet if we look closely, there is going to be the tiniest little spark remaining.¬†¬†Much like the¬†faith of a mustard seed that moves mountains is little spark that I feel rising within me.

I’m a ready and willing student and the teachers are coming in droves.¬† The good and the bad seem to cohabitation.

Good news or bad news?¬† Who knows.¬† Maybe that’s not the question.

Hauntings that Heal

On Marriage
 Kahlil Gibran

You were born together, and together you shall be forevermore.

You shall be together when the white wings of death scatter your days.

Ay, you shall be together even in the silent memory of God.

But let there be spaces in your togetherness,

And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another, but make not a bond of love:

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.

And stand together yet not too near together:

For the pillars of the temple stand apart,

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

A friend and I were recently discussing Kahlil Gibran’s book, “The Prophet“, which I remembered I had a copy of in the shed.¬† The above poem was I cherished by me and still is; it was a reading at my wedding so many moons ago. I never would’ve chosen it for a wedding reading for us if I’d known then what I know now.¬† The words spoke of a kept promise and a naive idealism;¬† written by one who had not experienced marriage.¬† I think it might be more appropriate for a second wedding, than a first (which most people probably aren’t hoping for).

In an instant,¬† I am transported to the day I looked into my then husband’s eyes.¬† My feelings of joy and elation took were mellowed by feelings of trepidation and fear.¬† I never was quite sure that I was wholly loved.¬† A portion of this was due to issues between he and I; a bigger part was caused by my own history and doubt.

This transportation is quickly followed by stomach churning waves of grief and anxiety, accompanied by a mind that wanders to the past arrive again, without invitation.  Her weary soul sounds the alarm bells.

“That’s unfortunate, it’s been a really great day”, she thinks to herself.¬† Rather than running from the feelings, she decides to utilize a tool that a dear friend and counselor taught her years ago.¬† Good music; ear buds to drown out the distractions; a pen and paper, this is all that is needed.¬† Oh…and set the alarm for 15 minutes.¬† She begins to write whatever comes, without pause and certainly without thought.¬† Unaware of¬† her tears until they splashed hot water stains onto the paper and the familiar salty taste ran across her lips. She continued to ferociously surrender to this process.¬† ¬†The alarm dings, it is time to stop.¬† Now take a breath and read when ready…then destroy for these are the most private thoughts.¬† They belong only to she and her soul.

In countless ways, she has always been an old soul.  In contradiction, lately, thereare ways that she is more akin to an 18 year old young lady than to the 45 year old woman she truly is.

She attempts to collect herself and ask her heart exactly what it’s feeling right now.¬† She comes up with a list.

Her 10 ponderings:

1)¬† She is incredibly self-aware, perhaps too much so at times.¬† Thus, she knows that she thrives on being needed.¬† As much as she resists it, her validation comes too often from this need to be needed.¬† Recently, there has been a switch in the status quo.¬† The lesson has been that simply because someone ‘needs’ her does not mean that she needs them.

2)¬† She has a long way to go as far as learning to surrender to what is.¬† She has often stated that her favorite game with God is to release her problems to Him, making it tangible by opening her palms and visualizing handing her burden to Him.¬† Just as quickly, she grabs that burden back and squeezes it tight in her fisted hand.¬† She is expert at this.¬† The illusion of control consistently comes back to wound her and she knows that she would benefit from relinquishing this terror.¬† She’s tried handing her problem to the universe, to others, to her journal…she always finds a way to get it back under her jurisdiction.

3)¬† No matter how hard one works, despite the entirety of heart, soul, prayer and effort put into a relationship, it does not always turn out as hoped for.¬† Also, no matter how big one’s faith may be, this is a hard one to field and might test every belief previously held.¬† Finally, it’s perfectly okay for these beliefs and faith to be tested, this is truth.

4)  Joy and pain can and do walk hand in hand.  This too, is okay.  It just is.

5)¬† Be the light, even when it’s dark.¬† When there is no energy left to be the light, seek the light…it’s there, even in the tiniest crack that you have to squint to see.¬† Squint and see darkness only? Reach your hand out, put one foot in front of the other and step.¬† Just keep seeking and for goodness sake, don’t freeze.

6)¬† I believe that nearly always, we do the best we can with what we’ve got. Concurrently, life’s all about choices.¬† Sometimes we make a sucky choice and sometimes others make a sucky choice.¬† Grace, love, forgiveness….and boundaries.¬† ūüôā

7)¬† Being gentle with herself doesn’t come easy.¬† She’s going to learn the art of doing so anyway.¬† This is wisdom.

8)¬† Rainy nights are healing for the soul, so are candles; bubble baths, snuggles (can be with people, a favorite blanket or comfort item or fur babies and I guess blow up dolls, but that’s not her preference).

9) Forgiveness is hugely, ginormously important.  Forgiveness does not mean a person belongs in your life.

10)  Real ghosts are the ones that leave echoing pain in a soul.  In this case, exorcisms (figuratively speaking) are worth serious consideration  If not willing to exorcise, contemplate excavating the heart.  However, if those hauntings are here to heal, let them.

She will leave you with this song that eloquently speaks to the hauntings in her heart…

“Ghosts That We Knew”

Listen here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXiq5ZO-rNE

You saw my pain washed out in the rain
Broken glass, saw the blood run from my veins
But you saw no fault, no cracks in my heart
And you knelt beside my hope torn apart

But the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
We’ll live a long life

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

So lead me back, turn south from that place
And close my eyes to my recent disgrace
‘Cause you know my call
And we’ll share my all
And our children come and they will hear me roar

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold as long as you like
Just promise me we’ll be alright

But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals
But hold me still, bury my heart on the coals¬†[Live and US versions say “And hold me still, bury my heart next to yours”]

So give me hope in the darkness that I will see the light
‘Cause oh that gave me such a fright
But I will hold on as long as you like¬†[Live and US versions say “But I will hold on with all of my might”]
Just promise me we’ll be alright

[Live and US versions’ additional lines:
“But the ghosts that we knew made us black and all blue
But we’ll live a long life”]

And the ghosts that we knew will flicker from view
And we’ll live a long life

Cheers.  Namaste.  Just be.

This Day is a Gift

I was in the laundry aisle of Target tonight when the loud screaming of a young child became audible. It was a pitiful sound that made my Momma heart ache; and I immediately began to search out where the noise was originating. It didn’t take but a moment to locate this maybe two year old because of the scene her own Mom was making in the store.

I’m going to attempt to paint the scene of what happened, in an earnest attempt to get across the deep helplessness I felt. This mom was repeatedly squeezing her child’s legs, hard. She would tower over the child (who was buckled into the cart) and yell, “You don’t EVER tell Mommy no, EVER, when I get home I am going to spank you again and again and again!” This child was literally shrinking back and down as far as she could into the cart as tears and snot ran down her face. Granted, I do realize we all parent different yet I am in the practice of respecting and accepting the cultures, belief systems and lifestyles of all people. However, this woman was bordering on abuse. My heart hurt for that little baby as she shrunk back. Everyone around this woman would look at her, then we’d look at each other. There were shrugs, head shakes, even conversations about what to do, but no one (myself included) knew the answer. It was the epitome of social discomfort.

I kept following the woman, at a safe distance. She continued to scream at her child as she walked up and down aisles, she took time every few minutes to text someone. It felt like she was trying to draw attention to herself. She was very well dressed, extremely loud and seemed to put nothing in her cart. The final straw was when I made a moment of eye contact with the little girl which was broken when her mom said, “You know better than to behave like this, you ought be ashamed!” That whole shame phrase cuts me deep. There was an older woman next to me and we made eye contact. She said, “what can you do, I don’t know what to do?” I replied that I didn’t know either.

I knew that I had to do something, I had no idea what. I felt a little afraid that whatever I did, it wouldn’t fare well for this baby girl. I didn’t want this woman to feel judged but I did want her to stop and think. I was praying super hard. I approached the woman and child from behind…”Mam, Mam” No response so I got a little braver and tapped her gently on the arm with a firm, “excuse me, mam” That got her attention.

Me: “I notice you seem a little bit stressed, I wondered if there is anything I can do to help.”

Her: “No, thank you. She (points at child) knows better than to act like this”.

Me: “Gosh, she sure is beautiful with those big brown eyes. How old is she?”

Her: “She just turned two and she knows better than to cry like this.”

Me: “Ah, two is such a tough age, she’s doing just what is developmentally appropriate, but it’s sure hard. What’s her name?”

Her: “Her name is Lilliana (not her real name).

Me: “I love her name!” (I’m talking to child trying to speak soothingly and hoping mom sees that this gets good results bc screaming has turned into hiccup cries} “Thanks so much for stopping and letting me talk, I can’t ever pass up the opportunity to talk to little ones, I miss that age so much.”

Her: Gets a call and waves at me as she exits the store and Lilliana resumes crying.

I wonder what happened as they left that store. I wonder why it didn’t occur to that Momma to pick up her distraught child and love on her. I wonder who didn’t teach her to do that. I am not judging, please know that. I have had (still have) endless hard days with my kiddos where I have reacted rather than responded and I have behaved ugly on more occasions than I care to mention. Something about this just bothered me, deep into my soul.

I don’t know if it’s because a precious family that I love lost their child to cancer today or if it’s because my own precious children are fighting huge battles of their own right now, this just hurt.

I hadn’t planned on leaving a little piece of my heart at Target, but leave a little piece of my heart I did. I’m praying for that baby girl and her Momma tonight that they can connect and that nurturing, peace and love will override all else. I wish I could share this little image of this day being a gift with them.

Shadow Dance

My internal world has been filled with an abundance of “AHEM” moments today.¬† AHEM moments don’t feel like the progress I like to feel after I’ve done the hard work of processing; they have¬†yet¬†to lead¬†me to any “AHA” moments; and honestly, those are usually my goal.¬† AHEM moments are more like scathing, scary, scolding, self scuffling conversations that go on constantly between my head and my heart.¬† These moments are anxiety provoking…the kind of anxiety where although I continue to be productive and sufficiently distracted with work, there is the constant gnawing in my belly, the lump in my throat and the uptight breathing that accompanies the tense certainty that everything cannot be as okay as it seems.¬† I went¬†through my day, doing the business of living and forgetting to find my place of surrender, my calm center, my joy…I just go and go and go as fast as I can.¬† No matter how much I do or how amazingly efficient I am, the chatter in the background will.not.stop!¬† That’s my day today.

Writing, praying, reflecting and sharing are healing for me, and I know there is something deep inside of me in need of healing as I write this or my heart wouldn’t be so overflowing with trepidation in this moment.¬† Selfishly, I’m ‘getting it out’ in hopes of being rewarded with peace.¬† Altruistically speaking, I hope the reader gleams some sort of self awareness from reading.

  • I made a decision a couple of weeks ago to do something totally out of character for me…I think.¬† As I ponder my actions more, I consider the possibility that this was absolutely something within my character but something I’ve never felt the freedom to do.
  • I had a hard and precious conversation with my ex husband today (I still feel as if I am speaking of someone else when I say those words…I’m working on owning them).¬† We are at a place of peace and we are able to ask questions of one another, this is beautiful but does not make the answers easier to bear.
  • I have had to distance myself from someone precious in my life in order to guard my own heart.¬† Boundary setting sucks.
  • It is less than a month away from the 9th anniversary of the stroke and just a few days away from what would be our 19th wedding anniversary.¬† My soul reverberates the echoes of what my mind wants nothing to do with.
  • I’ve been playing Words with Friends when I need a little break.¬† One of the men I have been playing with invited me to download an app on my phone today so we could ‘talk naughty’ to each other.¬† (I don’t know him, he is a ‘random’ stranger from the game).¬† I don’t really believe in random and after I found out his story, my belief that there are no accidents has been confirmed.¬† He is married and wanted to be honest with me, but felt that ‘talking dirty’ wasn’t a big deal.¬† He asked if I thought it was and I let him know that I guess that depended on where your personal boundaries were and that mine would not permit me to engage in these conversations with a married man.¬† We talked further, I shared with him my heart on the matter and my own story.¬† I encouraged him to find out what was missing within himself or his marriage and not go down this road, no matter how innocent the intentions were.¬† I don’t know what he will do, but I pray that our ‘meeting’ was of value to his heart.
  • We celebrated my¬†beautiful sister Beth’s 60th birthday this weekend.¬† I have no words sufficient to describe the fullness in my heart that the love within my family provides to me.¬† No words.¬† No matter how many years go by, when I am naming my siblings, I always feel like I leave one out.¬† It’s my big brother Brent and he definitely left an empty space.¬† I celebrate his life in partiality by always ‘counting him in’.¬† My Daddy would’ve loved the party thrown for Beth, and he would’ve been immensely proud of all of us.¬† I miss him so.
  • I have haunting background thoughts that tell me I will never be the object of a worthy man’s love, that¬†having extra pounds makes me less than valuable, ¬†that I will get Alzheimers and not have enough money to have good care, that I won’t fulfill my purpose before I die….all of these crappy lies that won’t go away.¬† I don’t actually know if they are truth or lies, I do know that I am living my purpose right here and now, that I will have everything I need when I need it and that God’s plan is much better than my own.¬† I KNOW these things deep down but when the shouting between my head and heart gets louder than my knowing, I forget my truth.

So here I am….dancing with my shadows but the shadows mean that there is light, so I know I am okay.¬† That’s an AHA moment and the only one I really need right now.

 

Be blessed,

Sarah

 

 

 

Compilation

  1. So much going on and it all eventually becomes just another life compilation.   My precious sky blue eyed son turns 16 today.  SIXTEEN!  This means that I will be 45 just a day over a week and my beautiful daughter is 6 months away from being a teenager.  I can barely fathom how fast time truly does fly. 11, 12, 14, 15, 43 and 44  have  been sorta hard on all of us, respectively speaking.

I’m not looking for easy, I’m too much of a realist for that.  I am hopeful that the deep inventory I continue to take of myself is not a futile effort and that there is great goodness in what I find.  I am still searching for freedom from the things that bind my heart…there are many.  I am yearning for the things that make my tummy have the best kinds of butterflies, there are several of those things too.

There was a time that I walked every single day.  My goal was to reach 100 days straight of walking at least 10 minutes a day.  Most days I walked 45 minutes to an hour.  Then, at 91 days of walking…I sprained my ankle and couldn’t bear any weight on my foot.

Looking back, I can’t believe I stuck with a form of exercise that long.  I am a wiggle worm, I have a hard time sitting still.  I normally hate exercise but somehow in that process, I had learned to cherish my daily walk.  I spent the time talking with God and at the end of my walk, I’d lay in the grass and listen to worship music and ask God (again and again and again) to help me surrender everything to him.  This small act made the biggest impact in the way I lived my life and in the peace I had in my heart.  It wasn’t that life was easy, it was that I took time for myself; time to ‘be’ with God and just time to be.

This is definitely missing from my life.  I avoid connecting with myself.  I run from God.  I sure as heck don’t take time to just ‘be’ and care for myself.  I have read countless studies about the effects of long term low stress levels. Weight gain, lack of motivation, trouble sleeping, etc, etc, etc.  Name a side effect and I have experienced it at one time or another.  I am amazed at me.  It’s comparable to my ability to handle 32 crazy kids in a classroom while I struggle with my perfectly imperfect 2.  I can counsel people all day on the significance of self-care.  Preaching to the choir!

I touched on this when I last wrote, I believe that somewhere along the line I quietly decided that I wasn’t worth it.  That’s not fair to me and it’s not fair to my kiddos.  They need to know their Momma is a beautifully confident, capable and compassionate woman who  is doing her best to raise beautifully confident,  capable compassionate kids.

I’m beginning with what I have and where I can. I took a 30 minute walk yesterday.  My phone died immediately after my feet hit the pavement.  That irritated me and I nearly went back to charge it.  I had wanted to make a phone call or listen to something.  I had a dear friend (maybe more than one at times) tell me that I was so stubborn and sometimes needed a figurative smack in the head to listen.

Ouch!  I know why I haven’t been walking and it’s not because I am lazy.  While I might say that I desire that time with God and to care for myself, I truly do not.  I just stated that I’ve been running from God and can’t stand to be alone with my own thoughts.  This is truth.  I would rather read, talk, play candy crush, do dishes, eat, drive….anything that keeps me from being alone with my thoughts.  Sometimes, when I am still, the tears still come.  I’m tired of the tears.  So I run in various ways.  I’m beginning to see what a self destructive pattern this is.

I walked.  I noticed six beautiful geese and I wondered if they were partnered.  (you know…because they mate for life).  They were in close proximity but not right next to one another.  However, when a car drove by or there was a noise, they would immediately pair off with their mate.  It was the coolest sight to observe and I doubt I would’ve taken time to notice God’s intricate design among the geese had I been on the phone.  Ironically, I was able to turn my phone on long enough to snap a few pictures of my feathered friends.  No accidents, ever.

Tonight, I will walk again.  Not because I have to but because I can.  I am on a journey of learning to love myself.  It’s not all bad but I’m honest enough to express that much of it really sucks.  I’m taking some scary steps, pretty consistently stretching out of my comfort zone…because that is where life begins, right?  I’m ready life!  Oh, what’s that?  You say you’ve already begun.  Oh dear!  I better start living!