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Posts Tagged ‘change’

Dear Superman (or Batman or Awesomeoneman or what ever you go by these days),

Hi.

I wanted to write you a letter and introduce myself. I’ve been following your exploits for a while. Although, I guess being a superhero, it isn’t really called exploits… more like your job. Anyway, I’ve been going through some rough patches in life — nothing too bad… my house didn’t burn down, I haven’t been robbed, I have a good job. But still, life has a way of sometimes sneaking in some bad stuff just to keep us honest I guess. Life had been sneaking some bad stuff in on me lately. Now, I suppose when you get letters like this you are probably waiting for  “the request”, I assume people ask you for things a lot. You’re a little like Santa Claus aren’t you — people contact you when they need you, when they want something, when life gets bad? I guess that makes you feel kind of used. Well, maybe not this time.

You see Batman (or was it Superman or Awesomeoneman?), I’ve been sitting around in my own mess waiting for you to show up. I was under the impression that you could sense trouble, you know, spidey senses. So, I didn’t reach out to anyone… I stayed here, surrounded by my own mess. It kept getting bigger and I kept thinking it would level off or disappear or at least hide away for a bit while I regrouped. It didn’t. So I kept sending out these signals hoping you’d pick up on them, you being a superhero and all. It didn’t work. Maybe your super senses are off these days. I’m sure it’s hard being a superhero, you have a lot of people who need you and look up to you and want to just be near you, so… you didn’t pick up on my signals I was sending. That’s okay. I think my signals were crossed anyway. So, while I was waiting for you, a few things happened.

I panicked. I cried. I screamed. I panicked, again. Then… I paused. I looked around to see there were some things I could do myself — some things that didn’t require a superhero. I made some phone calls and talked to some people and stepped out of my mess for short periods of time — it felt good to be out there, away from the mess. But still, I returned to it because I thought you were coming. I thought if I stayed in the mess long enough you would pick up on those signals. Now, Superman, don’t get me wrong, I’m not questioning your superhero status, but maybe you need to not advertise your superpowers so much if you’re still fine tuning them.

Anyway, I waited some more. I sent out a few more signals. I panicked less and I cried less and I stepped out of the mess more — it kept feeling good. Each time I came back to take my comfortable position in the middle of the mess, it wasn’t quite as comfortable. There was less and less mess for me to sit in the middle of — the mess was disappearing. Then I worried that without my mess, you would never know I needed you. How would you sense my signal if I was cleaning things up for my self?

I’m not saying my mess is completely gone, it’s not been that easy. The mess is still here, but it’s easier for me to look at it and decide how to approach it from out here. It’s easier for me to see that it’s not that big and it’s conquerable… from out here. I don’t cry as much when I’m not sitting in the middle of it.

It’s strange, Awesomeoneguy, when I stopped waiting for you to fix it all for me, when I stopped waiting for you to fly in and protect me from it all… I realized you weren’t coming, I realized it was up to me.

Which brings me to why I wrote you this letter. I wanted to tell you thank you. I know that’s probably strange and sounds completely weird — and to be perfectly honest, I’ve been really mad that you never showed up. But… when you never came, when you ignored all my signals, I had to “do”. And I did. I am. So thank you for that.

I’m still waiting for you, but for a different reason now. My mess is vanquishable. I’m taking the steps to ensure that, now I’m waiting for you to see me… outside of the mess. It looks different out here — I look different out here. I’m hoping one of your superpowers is the ability to open your eyes and see.

Sincerely,

Me (you’re a superhero, you know who I am… right?)

Super Rainbow Dork Girl

… And a song.

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I’ve written it here many times… I’m a planner. I like to know what to expect. I like to know the outcome. I like to know if the effort I’m expending is going to pay-off in the end — I like to know. I don’t think this necessarily makes me a bad person or makes me difficult to be around or makes me less of a friend, I hope not anyway. I’ve been afraid of uncertainty and been sitting on the bleachers instead of dancing in the moment — all because I want to know what others don’t want to reveal. Then a couple of things happened in a very short time — most of which I won’t tell you about (unless I have your phone number). But I will share this quote that recently crossed my path:

Don’t seek, don’t search, don’t ask, don’t knock, don’t demand — relax. If you relax, it comes. If you relax, it is there. ~~ Osho

My inability to follow this quote has made for some troublesome twists in my journey. But, recently I decided to “set myself on fire” and I think, for me, one of the things that means is letting go of my constant need to know, to demand, to knock impatiently. I’ve learned a moment can change everything — if we allow the moment to unfold — unguided, just as it should.

I was waiting in line to pick my daughter and her friend up from high school recently. This is usually a time of solitude (even if only for a few minutes). I was checking email on my phone and singing along to my favorite songs — not paying any attention to the hordes of kids around me… finding their way to their cars and their rides and loading the buses. I was startled by a rapping on my window. I looked up to see a boy standing there speaking to me. “Can I ask you a question?”, he said. I rolled the window down and was even more surprised when he asked if he could get a ride home — of course I said yes, so in he came. I told him my name and he told me his, “Jonathan” we’ll say. He explained to me where he lived and how appreciative of me he was. Then an awkward silence filled my car and I began formulating his story in my head. How sad, I thought, that this kid had to ask a complete stranger waiting in a line at his school for a ride home. How sad, I thought, that he didn’t have friends he could have bummed a ride with. How sad, I thought… he must be so sad.

As I moved up in line and saw my daughter approach the car, we exchanged nervous glances and I gave her a “please don’t make a big deal about this kid in the car” look as I introduced her to “Jonathan”. She and her friend immediately started talking to him and, in fact, knew who he was (score one for self-confident 14 year-old girls). So, off we went.

We all started our normal conversations… I asked my daughter about her lunch account at school, did she have enough money, did she put the money I gave her on her account or in her pocket? I caught “Jonathan’s” gaze in my rear view mirror. He said he wished his parents would give him lunch money — my heart sank. As we got closer to his home, he became agitated and anxious — breathing hard and fumbling for his books. Again, my heart sank. When he exited my car he stopped and asked me if he needed his parents to sign him up for a bank account or could he do it by himself — he recently got a job and would be getting a paycheck. At 17, I told him, I thought he was old enough. And “Jonathan” was gone. I immediately asked for the whole story from my daughter and her friend. The tale they spun made me angry and sad and it made me hurt for a boy I didn’t know.

My father died on a Saturday. Early that morning I found myself alone in his hospital room — just the two of us. For the last 5 days, he had been in that hospice room — it was small and cramped and there were many of us who wanted to be there. We had been asking to be moved to the coveted “big” room directly across the hall so when a nurse came in and said we could finally have the room, I was elated. Everyone would be so proud of me when they returned to see that I had scored the “big” room. The nurse said she would change my father’s position in his bed first then we could wheel him across the hall. She looked at him and then at me and asked how long he had been in that position. I hadn’t thought about it until then, but it had been more than a day since we had changed his position. She looked at me again and said I should decide what to do about rotating him. I didn’t understand. She explained that, often, when people are near the end of their life as my father was, any movement could trigger his body to finally give up.

I told her he was fine.

I told her not to touch him.

I told her he looked very comfortable.

I would have let him stay in that position for many months and years to come — just to have him a bit longer. He passed away about 8 hours later — 8 more hours I had to hold his hand.

I feel sorry for “Jonathan’s” father. He doesn’t understand that he could be the one to tell the nurse to leave him alone. He doesn’t understand that he could be the one who wants just 8 more hours. He doesn’t understand the joys and responsibilities of being “Jonathan’s” father.

I think “Jonathan” is dancing in the moment and not dwelling. I think he’s not worried about searching and demanding and seeking — I think he’s not asking… he’s just doing. I’ll be looking for “Jonathan” the next time I pick my daughter up — I hope he sneaks up and taps on my window, I’d like to talk with him some more… because a moment can change everything.

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I would tell her, I think, standing here in the hallway, as I feel the damp spread of tears across my cheeks, that life is limitless, that fear is conquerable, that if you stay concealed in the shadows, you’ll never be seen. That spending the better part of your days trying to fix people might be admirable; no, in fact, it is admirable, but only when you’re not doing so to avoid fixing yourself.

This is one of may favorite passages from The One That I Want, by Allison Winn Scotch. I could do nothing more than list favorite passages from this book to you here, and you’d be fulfilled by her words, by the way in which she brought these characters to life — to existence. And most likely, listing these passages would undoubtedly make this a mind-blowing blog read for you, but there’s more to it. More to the words of a great writer, more to the way she makes you care about what is happening in the lives of these strangers, more to the story then I could possibly reveal for you here. I would encourage you to follow the link and buy this book — today. But, that’s not why I’m here talking about this book today. I’m here today because this story affected me.

There’s a question that reverberates throughout the story, “…aren’t we all stuck?” It seems like such a simple question, really. Who wants to be stuck? I think we all fall into the habit of doing as “Tilly”, the protagonist in the story does. She envisioned the perfect (for her) life and then set out to attain that life — in fact, avoiding her life, her reality, in the process. It’s so easy for us to fall into the habit of putting blinders on so we avoid derailing the vision at all costs, we avoid change, we avoid reality — we avoid.

I think I felt stuck as well, in a life that really only existed in thoughts and outward appearances — I never wanted to be the one to just “get over” things… things that should never require “getting over.” Marriage is a business, but, that shouldn’t be all it is. And somethings aren’t meant to last forever, somethings don’t fit nicely into the vision of perfection.

I would tell her many things, I think, before I finally steer myself away. Mostly, I’d tell her that it isn’t too late. That the years are long and the road is winding and that dreams float out there to be captured, but only if you’re brave enough to reach up and grasp them.

So, perhaps it’s time to reach up and grasp some new dreams. Perhaps it’s time to move-on. Perhaps, it’s just time. Because being stuck, can change. We’re not all stuck, after all.

I feel very fortunate to have stumbled onto the path of Allison Winn Scotch. She is an extremely talented writer — but, that isn’t what defines her, I think. She’s funny and caring and pretty damn cool and I’m glad she and I are friends (if only virtual for now). So visit her blog, follow her on twitter, join her Facebook fan site. But mostly, purchase this book — you’ll thank me later!

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Big Big Dreams

My youngest daughter just graduated from kindergarten. It was really wonderful — seeing all the kids, hearing them speak into the microphone, watching them react to an auditorium filled with their moms and dads and grandparents and friends. It was nice. I wasn’t sad or overcome with the, “oh my baby is growing up” blues. These type of programs have never turned me into one of those mother’s who needed tissue to stop the crying. I always take tissue with me, just in case. Just in case I suddenly turn into one of those mothers who cries while watching their baby graduate kindergarten. I had tissue with me during her graduation — never needed them.

Watching the graduation made me think about all the life events that we look forward to, all the life events we plan for, all the life events that take us by surprise. It struck me as very humbling to watch these kids with their expectations of themselves — they want to be artists and doctors and firemen and teachers. They have dreams… big big dreams.

I think, sometimes, we, as adults, lose sight of those dreams. I think we become fixated on just a segment of the dream and forget that what we are living is only a portion of what we want — of what we dreamed. We become complacent — perhaps.

Here’s a quote I read today:

Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start now and make a brand new ending. ~~ Carl Bard

I thought this was fairly odd timing that I just happened to read this when I am experiencing a pull to make a brand new start in several areas of my life. When really, I don’t want to start over with friends or careers or life — why should I start over? But I do want to create a brand new ending — that seems more possible, more likely, more honest.

So, we all had big big dreams when we graduated kindergarten. Some of us may have stopped when a small portion was achieved. It’s never too late to continue your dreams, it’s never too late to create a brand new ending to your dreams. Change occurs daily…change is constant. Dreams may change but we should never lose the ability to realize those dreams.

Nothing Gold Can Stay

Nature’s first green is gold
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leafs a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

-Robert Frost

Photo from Kind Over Mattercheck it out.

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I have mentioned before that I work (read am obsessed) with children with autism. There’s a behavior term that we use quite often when talking about how to reduce problematic behaviors — extinction. I love this word. It my professional world, I might encourage a teacher to ignore a behavior such as throwing paper or pencil to the ground. The child might simply be wanting the teacher to talk to him or to look at him and therefore creates a reason for this to happen. Ignore it and the problem might possible resolve itself.

Behaviorally speaking, here’s what extinction means:

Extinction is defined as the withdrawal of the consequent stimulus that previously maintained the problem behavior. In other words, extinction is stopping the positive reinforcement that has been encouraging the inappropriate target behavior to continue.

In simplified terms, it means to ignore.

How many times in our lives have we told someone to “just ignore it”? How many times have we been told to “just ignore it”? It’s really one of the best behavior modification techniques around. It can be hard to “ignore” certain things though — hard to pull off the perfect extinction.

I’ve talked about the girls I work with — they’re a great group who keep me level-headed and laughing (if those two things can exist together). Our running joke to each other when someone is doing their best to infiltrate our good time is to put them on extinction. We put many people on extinction on most days. Try it — (you’ll thank me later.)

But, as with any good behavior technique, the extinction could lead to bigger problems. Sometimes the behavior you are trying to ignore will escalate and become worse than you ever thought possible. It can be scary. It can make you fearful. It can make you re-think the logic of the extinction. Somethings are hard to ignore.

There’s a tricky side to putting a behavior or a person on extinction.

Here’s something I think that if you can pull off, you possess superpowers for sure. Try putting yourself on extinction. This is difficult at best. When you recognize a flaw in your behavior and try to reconcile it yourself — a bit of reverse extinction. By putting your own behavior on extinction, you are recognizing the problematic behavior, recognizing that it affects someone other than yourself, recognizing that you need to just stop.

I have always been under the impression that the ability to recognizing your own faults was quite divine — quite empowering. But then what? Where is the resolution? Really, the resolution comes when you take action. When you consciously work to create a solution and to practice the solution — when you work to just stop.

Of course, there’s the fear involved again. Fear of recognizing a problem. Fear of pinpointing a solution. Fear of taking action to resolve your own faults. To quote a friend, “I think about how futile it is, how fearful, and odd, and fierce… how majestic it is – her rage.” Tackling our own faults can make us fearful. It is what we choose to do with the fear that leads to change, and there are many things worth facing your fear’s for — many things worth creating change for — I get that.

So, back to extinction and my quest to become a superhero — (wait, I didn’t talk about my quest to become a superhero? Ok, next time). Use it freely, but understand the risks. Understand that in change, there is always fear. But in the fear, there can also be a little rage — just enough.

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