Posts Tagged ‘friends’

this is that moment,

what are you going to do?

dance around, twirling, swirling,

like the thoughts that won’t leave you alone.

you’re left gasping for air,

but none comes.

you’re breathing through a straw,

don’t you see?

this is that moment,

what are you going to do?

back away from the space between,

see what fills it up,

memories that never happened,

words that never touched your ears,

a warm hug that evaporated from a distant thought,

don’t you see?

this is that moment,

what are you going to do?

let go of that space,

the sand can’t hold you steady,

the water is pulling you away,

just give in and drop your head under,

the silence will comfort you,

don’t you see?

this is that moment,

what are you going to do?

look what you’re already made of,

sugar mixed in with some dirt,

the humanness of caring too much,

the surf spits you back out too,

in that space between,

don’t you see it?

this is that moment,

what are you going to do?









hurl yourself at the space between,

steady yourself on the changing surf,

move forwards,

always move forwards,

don’t you see it?

this is that moment,

what are you going to do?


You could begin to notice whenever you find yourself blaming others or justifying yourself. If you spent the rest of your life just noticing that and letting it be a way to uncover the silliness of the human condition—the tragic yet comic drama that we all continually buy into — you could develop a lot of wisdom and a lot of kindness as well as a great sense of humor.

Pema Chödrön

Quote found here, from Kind Over Matter

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I’ve been sitting on these thoughts for about a year now… a year because I didn’t think I could put my thoughts to paper clear enough to be read and understood. Then I decided, yes… I could. An indication of what a difference a year can make in the evolution of a person.

I recently read a post over at Zebra Sounds and the author made the comment that we are “complicated beings”. I thought to myself, “Right?, Please explain it to me.” I think you really have no idea how complicated we are as humans unless you take the time to try to figure yourself out — to understand your own evolution, as women, as mothers, as daughters, as friends — the friendship of a woman is like no other. I’ve been making a conscious effort to figure a few things out this year. I think to say the last three years of my life have been stressful would be the understatement of the century. I knew where I was emotionally was not where I wanted or needed to be, but, I was stuck… unable to move forward. Stuck is scary.

I had a friend who mentioned therapy, she thought, maybe, I should try it (I was, admittedly, holding her captive in the rabbit hole with me) — I scoffed… not me, never. This friend said she thought I was one of the bravest people she knew and asking for help would just be one more example of my bravery. I didn’t really believe her, I should have. But I was stuck.

My world crashed.

I was not only stuck but lost.

I needed help.

There were a few days last September that completely rattled me, tossed me around like a kite in a tsunami. I was thrashing about, confused, disoriented, struggling to stay afloat when I could feel the tug of the under current dragging me down — but you would never have known, you would never have suspected.

I am a woman.

I am a mother.

I am skilled at the fine art of outward appearances.

When I say there are things I don’t really remember, it rattles me even more. But, thanks to google, I discovered that memory loss or memory confusion is a by-product of stress and anxiety — not an excuse for ill-behavior, just an explanation for a rational being having irrational behavior.

I think to try to describe depression would be too difficult, there aren’t enough words to paint a picture of the truly eery poetic thoughts and feelings that swirl around — it all makes sense, it’s so clear — the storms are beautiful. Then, the sun comes up and you see the illogical process of your thoughts and this continues… over and over, it continues. All the pieces fall into place and then they clang to the floor in a discombobulated mess of utter confusion… then, once again — clear.

All the while, you go to work and you drive the carpool and you pack lunches and you cook dinner and you have lunch with friends and you clean your house and you do the laundry because we are women, we are mothers, we are skilled at the fine art of outward appearances. This “thing” that had me in its grasp could not leave a smudge on my bubble.

I contacted a therapist… eeny meeny miny moe — that one will do, after all… I only wanted to pretend to seek assistance. I still didn’t think I needed help, I thought that if I went to therapy then I could steady myself enough to regain my shiny outward appearance — I, as sometimes happens, didn’t care about the turmoil on the inside. I was the only one privy to that information and I could handle anything. Several sessions went by, I did a lot of “uh huh”ing, a lot of head nods. I thought to myself that my therapist was really pretty and smart and compassionate and caring… she must be good for her clients, not me though. I was only here to get my outward appearance back —

I am a woman,

I am a mother,

I am skilled at the fine art of outward appearances.

A month went by, or two or five. I began to look forward to my sessions with my therapist, I began to trust her, I began to tell her the things I needed to tell her and I listened to what she had to say. I started to feel better. I slept… for the first time in several months, I slept. I started being honest with people, but mainly with myself. I started therapy for all the wrong reasons, because, when you suffer from stress and anxiety and depression, thinking clearly is not one of the benefits. But I continue my work because of the most important reason of all, me.

We are women.

We are mothers.

We are skilled at the fine art of outward appearances.

We are complicated beings. We mess up and we try to fix. We say the wrong things and we try to shove the words back into our mouths. We love and we let go. We laugh and we collapse under the weight of a shattered heart. We dream and we face reality. We hope… we hope that our hearts lead us back to the friends we’ve lost and lead us forward to those we have yet to meet. We hope the cracks let the love in. We believe in each other and we believe in ourselves. We are women. We are mothers. We are complicated beings — reaching out, holding on, surviving, loving, hoping. Hoping that we can guide each other past the murky water and the glass cage hearts, hoping you understand I’m a complicated being, shattering the outward appearance… reaching my hand out, hoping you’ll grasp it… again.

Because we are women,

we are mothers,

we are complicated beings.

Image from Kind Over Matter

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I don’t want to talk to you about it.

I’m not your open book.

I’m not waiting for someone to tell me it’s my turn.

I want to move, be normal, how beautiful would that be?

I want to live, today, forgetting about the rest.

I just want to be okay.

Where do you go to escape yourself?

I want to scream, “girls are mean!”

I want to hold you and whisper, “it’ll be okay.”

I want to stand next to you and repeat, “I’m not drowning, there’s no one here to save.”

I want to nudge you, toward the speeding train.

I want to throw my fist in the air…

I just want to be okay.

Where do you go to escape yourself?

“… you’re in my heart”, I tell her…

loudly, so she can always hear me,

often, so she never doubts,

silently, so she never relies on my voice.

I just want to be okay.

Where do you go to escape yourself?

The train is barreling down,

out of control,

filled with all the love that ever broke you apart.

Stay there, never be afraid.

Stand your ground on those tracks and let the hurt fill you up.

I just want to be okay.

Where do you go to escape yourself?

Have you ever been thrown away?

I just want to be okay.

I am fear and I am flight.

I am but when I’m not.

I am hope.

I am holding on.

I am an open book forgotten on the shelf.

I am waiting for you to rifle through my pages.

I just want to be okay.

I dare you to stay there, in the path of the train.

I dare you to stand up and wave your hands.

I dare you to move toward the people who question you.

I dare you to be silent.

Silence rushes over me,

hoping you can hear it.

I just want to be okay.

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Growth is an erratic forward movement: two steps forward, one step back. Remember that and be very gentle with yourself. ~~~ Julia Cameron

I just started reading, The Creative Life by Julia Cameron. Not because I have dreams of being an artist. Not because I have dreams of being a writer. But, because I have dreams. It seems I’ve written often about friendship and forgiveness and trust and healing. I’ve been searching my heart for some inkling of a coherent thought that isn’t muted by my own inner voice. The question I keep coming back to is this… what do you do if you know you’re worth the effort but tired of trying to convince the rest of the world of this fact? I think, for me, the answer is beginning to form… let go of old thoughts, let go of things I can not control, unsettle my toes and let the sand form a new mound for me to stand. Be gentle with myself.

I had the most wonderful conversation the other night with a few friends. We talked about hugs and the power of human touch and the therapeutic resonance of the human voice… the power of connection. Simple human connection that can propel us all towards a new day. This comment was made about that powerful feeling, “…each wave is just different enough to unsettle my toes”. It took me a while to still my mind after that discussion. I continued to process the information and how I thought about it and how what the others said made sense to me in my life. I fell asleep, finally, smiling… my thoughts lingering on my friends.

As I drifted off to sleep, I felt my dream-self being transported to the beach. I was sitting there with a friend, faceless, both of us… our identities concealed in a foggy dream. We were talking and laughing and crying and digging our toes into the ever-changing sand along the edge of the water. It was just cold enough to need a jacket, the sun was setting — the sky was vivid purple and pink. I’ve had this dream before, it always seems so real. I never remember what we’re talking about, it’s as if our voices are muffled. A hushed conversation that only the dream version of ourselves are allowed to hear — but I distinctly remember turning to my faceless friend and telling her to open her eyes and see me. Then I awoke.

There was a girl I worked with for years who loved reading about dream interpretation. Whenever I had a dream I could remember I would rush to her and tell her the dream and ask, “… so, what do you make of that one?” She always said that the people and places in our dreams are secondary to the feeling you have when you wake up. She told me to write down what I was feeling when I awoke from a dream. Then, you could piece together what the subconscious was trying to tell you.

When I awoke from this picturesque dream of the beach, I felt anger that immediately turned into a sort of heartache which immediately turned into a sense of longing which soon gave way to a wave of warm connection that kept me tucked under my covers for a few more minutes.

It seems it all came full circle back to that conversation from the night before — the power of human connection. The power to lift our friends and carry them when needed. The power to hold a hand when it reaches for you in the dark of a dream. The power to open your eyes and see.

Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths. ~~~ Walt Disney

I think we’re all intended to go down new paths, if we’re evolving. Personal evolution is just that… personal. You think it has occurred or is occurring and maybe those around you are blind to it. I thought, for a while, that this was because perhaps what I thought was evolution was just my wheels spinning. But… I believe that I’m spinning my wheels in hopes that those around me, those I care about, are evolving too. Personal evolution can be measured in the baby steps or the giant bounds we take. It’s scary to un-stick your feet and point them in a forward direction, it’s more scary to be stuck in a moment — a moment that doesn’t exist anymore. A moment filled with words and thoughts and people who don’t exist anymore. Personal evolution.

The death of a loved one is a powerful thing. We miss. We long. We cry. We yell. We wish for an outcome that might have given us just a bit longer to linger in the warmth of their touch. But, in the end, we pick ourselves up and we move on. We continue in our forward progress because there is no point in lingering in the solace of the death of that lost human connection. We don’t search for replacements for our mothers or our fathers or our grandparents or our cousins or our friends who have died. You don’t replace someone with whom you shared such a strong connection. Death took them. It’s easy, no gray areas.

Death can sometimes be the easiest way to lose someone. You recognize the vacant spot because a person use to be there and you’re okay with the emptiness of it because they’re gone, gone from this world. There’s a reason you no longer share the connectivity of a hug or the warmth of their hand to hold. You miss it and you long for it and you cry for its absence but you understand why. You understand that death is the reason… not because you aren’t worth the effort or you aren’t good enough — death then, brings you comfort. I think… I hope, that personal evolution involves knowing we are just enough.

We were made to lift each other up. We were made to cheer each other on. We were made to be angry and loathsome and helpful and kind and connected — we were made to share the simplicity of the human connection… we were made for this complicated ride amongst the breaking waves. The only thing I need to prove is that I am reaching my hand out in the dark of a dream, I am opening my eyes to see, I am connecting. So, with each new wave, I am unsettling my toes just enough to let the sand build up — just enough to recognize the stronghold of a simple connection. My eyes are opening — we are all just enough, with nothing to prove.

A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of Nature ~~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Check out this: Love Letter To The World

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I was reading lately about stress and anxiety and things that go wrong and the effect of things that go wrong and being bogged down and feeling bogged down and… wait, I’m sorry, what were we talking about? Oh, yeah… reading.

Okay, so I was reading an article recently and it called for the reader to do an activity, you know like one of those McCall’s “are you compatible with your mate” type of things but this was more of a “are you compatible with you” sort of thing. The activity was to write down all the events that had caused an excess of stress in your life in recent years. Once you had your list, you were then to take each event separately and try to assess how you differed before the event and after the event.

I reluctantly reached for a piece of paper and a pen and began my inventory, half-way through I started laughing at the events that had taken place… I’m sure this wasn’t the outcome the author was hoping for. But still… there was laughter on my end. I finished my inventory and gazed at the paper that held so many traumatic, un-fun, life-changing, sucky things — the same paper I had just laughed at — and I cried, a little. Then I wadded it up and threw it away. Not out of any life-affirming-zen-moment-metaphoric exercise… just because I didn’t need the reminder of the things that have transpired staring up at me from a piece of paper… I live with them, tucked away in the (not so) far reaches of my mind.

About 6 times a week, I see a car that is an exact replica to my mother’s car and inadvertently there is always an older woman peering over the steering wheel with sunglasses on — I always stare a little too long. About 5 times a week I look at a picture of my father that is perched above my sun-visor in my car — it’s him, looking just the way a memory should be. About 4 times a week, I open up the drawer where I put my dog’s collar after she passed away — she was such a sweet friend. About 3 times a week, I ride down a particular road that holds a sign in remembrance to a policeman who was killed in the line of duty. That same policeman had, just two months before he was killed, wrapped his arms around me and comforted me as I had just unsuccessfully performed CPR on a 9 year-old boy. About twice a week I read blogs and comments written by people I admire and look up to but don’t know at all. Everyday I walk around a house that was to be a dream home that now I can’t get out of fast enough. At least once a week I look back on posts I’ve written and the comments that were left by people who may never return. My “life event inventory” had filled up the last couple of years. So… I threw it away.

And… I didn’t feel better when I did. There was no life-affirming breath of fresh air propelling me to carry-on. Just a crumbled up piece of paper with some really sucky things on it. But… there was this…

I made another list. Things I needed to do the next day — just one day of events I needed to do. Here’s some of that list:

  • help a child with autism
  • help a teacher of a child with autism
  • make dinner with my son
  • cuddle with my daughter
  • wash my car
  • read a book
  • say “I’m sorry”… again
  • call my sister
  • go to dinner with my best friend
  • drink wine (and enjoy it)
  • run

That was my one day list of things I needed to do — and I did them all. That made me take notice of this life — it made me appreciate the events that are yet to come. It made me stop wishing for a different outcome and start working towards a different outcome — it’s never too late for a happy ending, and I’m holding out for a really sappy one.

What about you? Any sappy endings you want to share?

I’ve added something new to the tool bar on the right. It’s called Daily Mile. I log the amount of exercise I’m doing each day and keep you posted on any upcoming races I’m entering and you can send me encouragement for my journey! Click the link and give it a try!

…and of course, some music. I love David Gray and listening to him explain how he came about to write this particular song has intrigued me immensely.

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… making mistakes is part of what we do, it’s how we go about fixing them that matters.

My driving force for a while seems to have been the want of recognition, the want of being special, the want of people to notice. Those wants can quickly turn in to needs… they can quickly control our thoughts and our behaviors and our relationships. Until finally, we realize we have to do for ourselves — because it’s what we need and not because someone will validate our worth based on our actions. So, today… I did something for me. I did it alone. I did it without needing someone at the starting line or at the finish line. I did it knowing that I was enough.

I fell asleep fairly easily last night… that part I can do. I awoke a few short hours later, once again ruminating about the things I can not fix, the words I can not retract, the hurt I can not let go of. I watched the clock go from midnight to 1 to 2 to 3… my alarm was set for 4.  I laid there, thinking of why I needed to stay there… why I couldn’t get out of the bed, why I wanted to hunker down in my self-absorbed pity and remain elusive, out of sight… yet secretly hoping I would be noticed. I got up. I showered. I put on the clothes I had so meticulously picked out to carry me across the finish line and I drove away from my home… is was 5:30am.

I reached downtown and a parking spot I was familiar with by 6am. I thought some more about why I needed to leave… go home… pretend I never thought this was a good idea in the first place. The streets were empty — no one would have noticed if I just ran away.

I stood beside my car hoping for a flood or a tornado or a large fire… instead I turned to see a woman walking towards the starting line as confused and alone as I was. I immediately walked towards her and started a conversation — I do that sometimes, a lot actually. We talked and walked and talked some more. We laughed at how lucky we were to have both parked at such odd places so far from the start of the race… otherwise, we would have missed each other.

We turned a corner and saw thousands of women, over 7000 woman, just like us… alone, together, proving a point, seeking approval, declaring their life’s not a mess, brushing off hurtful words, laughing together, encouraging each other — breathing and leaping and learning and evolving. Women can be so strong for each other — if we just let ourselves.

My new friend and I took a picture together and I realized I didn’t know her name and she didn’t know mine — I knew she was married and had two kids and lost 30 pounds last year and this was her 13th half-marathon and she lived in a town near me and she was a teacher… but I didn’t know her name. Strange, isn’t it? We can learn so much about each other without really knowing each other — it felt good when I learned her name… we were connected. We parted ways and wished each other good luck and made plans to attempt to see each other in the next race. And I was alone again. But, it felt okay to be alone — it felt like something I needed to do alone.

The race started and I was filled with the euphoria of Jo Dee Messina singing the national anthem and the DJ calling for the thumbs up over the PA and the crowd of women who surrounded me and I ran. I ran for the first mile at a slow steady pace — 12.46 minutes. Then, like a bowling ball being tossed at me from a tree high above… it hit me. The lack of sleep, the lack of food, the hurtful words, the stress of life, the anxiety of not being able to say what I know I need to say… the lack of understanding… and I cried. My legs slowed, I could barely keep them moving forward and I walked. I walked most of the second mile — 28.54 minutes total time lapsed.

The last mile… my tears were dried up but I became angry… pissed really. Pissed that so much energy had been wasted seeking approval that would never come, pissed that I allowed hurtful words to penetrate my being, pissed that all I wanted was a chance to fix a mistake but instead I got threats and I ran. I ran hard for about 1/4 mile. Then another wave of emotion crept in… the happy. I passed an older man waiting in the crowd to cheer on a loved one and he called my name and put up his hand for a high-five as I ran passed… I smiled. Then I passed a woman in her 60’s who had suffered a stroke and she was running, determined. I raised my hand to her for a high-five and told her I was proud of her as I ran by… and we smiled at each other. Then I saw a woman approaching in the opposite direction who was struggling. Her weight had clearly gotten away from her over the years and she walked, slowly, determined. I raised my hand and reached across the barrier and gave her a high-five and told her to keep going… no matter what, do not stop. And we smiled at each other.

And there it was… the finish line. Strangers lining the street, calling out the names of the runners as we came down the final stretch, the DJ cheering over the PA, a band playing off to the side — it was all right there. The good in people… it was all right there — and I took a deep breath and filled my lungs with it, and it was over. I cried again, hoping to leave the hurt and the pain out there… on the streets. Maybe I brushed a little off, maybe time and space and distance is necessary to correct some wrongs… maybe I’m sitting here now — just imagining the possibilities.

Not sure who Jo Dee Messina is? A Nashville badass, and here’s one of my favorite songs by her — fitting I’d say.

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When I’m having a sucky day, I stomp my foot on the floor in a dramatic fashion. ~~~ quote from an 11 year-old with autism

I think my world is often confusing and mixed up. I think I struggle to find the time to do what I want and what I need. I think I struggle to say the right words to the right people at the right time. I think I, too often, want to be the “best friend” that says everything perfect and can cook a great dinner while I’m doing it. I know what it means to dream of trips and conversations and walks and talks — I know what it is to say, “I’m just dreaming” and stomp my foot in a dramatic fashion. I think that makes me just about average.

I think I’ve discovered something in an attempt to discover myself… I’m a mystery (and I kind of like that). Not in an undercover-spy-like-seductress way. More like a why-the-heck-are-you-feeling-that-way way. I often think I need to figure things out, to take control, to know what steps to take to lead to the desired outcome. I plan, I think, I evaluate, I re-plan, I proceed… and often, too often, I find the path I’ve taken leads me to a place of aloneness and isolation. I become weary and tired and loathsome and I perseverate on things that I need to let go of… I need to let things actualize in that ever elusive natural flow — uncontrolling, me… just floating along with it. It scares me. To float along, to not know the outcome of this journey we are all on — it scares me. I think, possibly, we become stronger by looking at our fears — becoming unafraid of them. So… I’ll bob and weave and when I need to, I’ll float along the steady current.

I was visiting one of my favorite places, Zebra Sounds, and watched this amazing video that was featured recently. To be honest, I haven’t been able to watch the whole thing. Maybe tonight — when I finish this post… maybe then I’ll have the strength to watch it. It hurt to watch it. The pain of losing a loved one, the pain of letting go, the pain of moving on — and perhaps… the pain of not knowing love. So many things went through my head — my grandparents, my parents… me. I think to feel love as completely and honestly and openly and wholly and painfully as it is felt in the video… as it was in the lives of my grand-parents and my parents — I think that must be a wonderful thing. Love is not elusive — it is within our reach… waiting.

Back to that wonderful quote that my new favorite 11 year-old boy with autism said to me… how full of wisdom is he that he can recognize a need to stomp and hiss and be dramatic when he’s having a sucky day? I was having a sucky day when I sat down to chat with him. I asked him to show me how he did it, how he stomped his foot in a dramatic fashion. Then I asked him to watch me and help me do it the right way (apparently I was very good at it — go figure). Soon we were both stomping dramatically and we were both laughing and our sucky days disappeared — just like that.

When I’m having a sucky day, I want to stomp my foot and scream and curse and mostly… I want to laugh with a friend. Love is all around us. In our partners, in our sisters, in our brothers, in our friends, in the people we make eye contact with for a brief moment on the street — it’s there. It’s ours to take. It’s mine to have — the dream of love.

I love everything about this video!

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I’m dating now. Wow — releasing that from my thoughts and onto this page made me break out in hives and a small pimple has just erupted on my chin. No… this isn’t going to become “Becky’s Dating Blog”. Chances are I’ll never actually write about a date — so, all you potential suitors… relax. Although, I can’t guarantee I won’t call up my best friends late in the evening and gossip like we are 13 year-olds just home from our first school dance. And the reason I would even say that I’m dating has nothing to do with actually going on dates — it’s just the feeling. The feeling that something new is happening. The feeling that butterflies are dancing around in my lungs, preventing me from taking a deep breath. The feeling that newness is wonderful and scary and awkward and amazing.

At this point, it doesn’t seem like too much time has passed since I needed my best friend to make that initial approach to a boy. The one where she asked if he thought I was nice and pretty. I would wait anxiously for her to come back to me with the news — back then it was easy… check yes, no, maybe. If the news was bad, I would send her off to the next cute boy. I think I was much better at being the liaison for my friends then they were for me. I remember coming back to tell them good news much more than they told me (I will say this is because of my cool wit and charm when I was speaking to the boys for them). Having a friend make that initial approach seemed vital then — we were all so awkward and afraid and unaware of what our own feelings meant. Having my best friend do my talking for me was the greatest thing in the world.

I picked my daughter and her best friend up from school recently. They’re freshmen now — a time when everything is new. When my daughter got in the car she asked if I saw “him”.

“Who?”, I said.

“Him”, she said, “my boyfriend — the one I was walking with.”

Well, the boy she was walking with was actually walking about 30 feet away from her, no eye contact, not even a glance in each other’s direction. When she and her best friend got settled in the car, the best friend started receiving texts from “him”, and she would relay the message to my daughter. This made me laugh — and it made me miss my best friend. The thought of doing this alone…

So, now I’m dating… again. I’m talking and meeting and learning and embracing the fun and joy and horror of it all. But… I can’t help but wish my best friend was standing beside me. Helping me with that initial hello. Prodding me to say “hi”. Letting me know which boy is going to laugh when she says, “guess who thinks you’re cute”? Letting me know which boy has a bad reputation and which boy doesn’t do well in school and which boy smarts off to the teacher. Something about going at it alone this time around makes the knots in my stomach swell up even worse.

But, here I go. The newness, the awkward pauses, the nervous dinners. I think I’ll enjoy the talks and the walks and the laughs — but, mostly… I’ll enjoy the late night chat sessions with my best friends to tell them which ones like me back. So, if you promise not to panic… neither will I, and we’ll never have to speak of this dating thing again (unless I have your phone number).

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I spanked my oldest daughter when she was about 2 1/2 years old. She’s 14 now… I remember it well. She was having a terrible fit late at night and wouldn’t stay in her bed. She would not stop crying due to her not getting what she wanted at the time — a pop-tart. I warned her to stop many times. I counted to 3. I walked away. I ignored. I become frustrated at her screams and I spanked her. She stopped screaming but the look of disbelief on her face floored me. The look of distrust sent chills through my body.

I’m not opposed to spanking — you parent your way, I’ll parent mine. But, for me, I began to realize many things that could possibly be going through that 2 1/2 year olds mind. She was angry and I tried to stop her anger with a jolt of pain. She was upset and I tried to stop her from being upset with a jolt of pain. She was sad and I tried to stop her sad with a jolt of pain. It affected me deeply, still to this day. Love is complicated. Love is raw. Love is endearing and breathtaking and overcoming and welcoming and overbearing and needed — love is needed. But, love isn’t a jolt of pain.

I think I’ve been on a journey of self-discovery or on a path of self-evaluation or something that sounds really deep and zen and kumbaya. I’ve had friends tell me about their journey’s to self-evaluation and it truly seemed like they were enlightened and informed and better at life now for taking on such a journey. When I thought that I too could possibly have ventured down this path, I was really excited — really. I thought if I came out just half the person that my friend’s had come out of their journey then I would be complete and whole and loved and even better… liked. I actually think I am all of those things to a certain degree — perhaps not to the degree that I think is enough… in my un-enlightened mind.

I really like love. I’m not sure I love love but it’s safe to say that I really like it. I like the way it looks and I like the way it sounds and I like the way it feels and I like the way it comforts. I’ve always liked love a lot. I’ve loved in my life — I still love. My children, my parents, my brother and sisters and nieces and nephews and aunts and uncles and cousins and… you get the point. I have friends that I love, I know love. I’m not unaware of its allure — I usually opt to stay on the fringes of it though. Until I began this whole journey to self-discovery/self-evaluation — things change when you least expect them to. As of late I’ve loved fast and fierce and hard. A friend of mine left a comment here a few posts ago and she said, “…you love so hard.” I was confused at this statement for a bit. I reread the post and I reread the comment and it dawned on me that this person, who seemingly knows very little about me… knew me very well.

I love so hard because I know how it feels to love and be loved and what a wonderful feeling it is. I love so hard because it lives in me and in my life and in my house and in my children. I love so hard because I want the people I love to feel it, I want it to warm them. I love so hard because if I try to keep it all inside of me, I will burst with its joy. I love so hard because that is what matters — in this life, love matters.

I haven’t spanked my children since that time, so many years ago. I don’t coddle them or make excuses for them… they are often in need of discipline and I am often giving it to them — but, I don’t spank them. For me, it was like saying, “… you’re mad? Here’s some pain to go with that, how are you now?” I’m certain love should never be accompanied by pain… not pain we can avoid. So… I continue on my journey. I continue to figure out this life I lead. I continue to love and I expect love in return — I don’t think that’s too much to ask, because… I do love so hard.

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love — Mother Teresa

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I decided I needed to run away this weekend. I sometimes run away… mentally. I’m sure many of you do this too. When the thinking and the emotions and the feelings start climbing on top of each other to be the first in line to your psyche and you know you’re about to be a Bugs Bunny cartoon character when their head explodes. So, in order to avoid the inner explosion you put up the vacant sign… and you run away. It was like that for me the last week, only I needed to actually physically run away — so I did. I was facing a long weekend without my children and preparing to head back to work after a nice summer break and I needed my head to not explode — running away can sometimes be exactly what is needed.

So, I headed out to a familiar spot for camping and hiking and aloneness and, ultimately, the hope of enlightenment. I packed lightly and secured my askew ponytail and I was off. The area I visited is beautiful and familiar to me, with rock climbing and water falls and peace. I camped here before many times and hiked these trails with friends very often — but never alone. There was something that beckoned me to go alone, right then, alone. To seek the solace and answers to the questions that seemed to be burdening me as of late. I desire to be alone but need to be surrounded by friends, I like to remain silent but can’t stop myself from regurgitating all my thoughts and feelings, I shy away from human contact but can’t stop thinking about the hugs I’ve yet to feel. Enlightenment would surely be found out there, in nature, alone — surely.

It’s been unbearably hot in Tennessee this summer. The temperature has settled around 97* for weeks now — this weekend was no exception. I actually love hot weather. There is something about a good sweat that makes me feel alive. The local weatherman called for a slight chance of scattered showers in the evening, perfect… my first mistake. The scattered showers were actually better described as monstrous storms with thunder and lightning and rain… lots of cold, hard rain. I escaped to my nearby car on several occasions and actually calmed with the thumping of the rain on the roof. The next morning, I felt the weather had calmed enough to go on another hike, so I set out for a short 4 mile hike to a secluded lake and promises of lots of wildflowers… yes, another mistake.

About a mile into my journey, a light rain started to fall. It was pleasant, actually, as the air cooled off 20* almost instantly. I was shielded from the rain by the dense trees that I was walking through and hoped by the time I reached the lake, the rain would be gone. Along the way, I found an area that had been mowed, like an oasis. It was so strange to see this. In the middle of the mowed path was a small bridge placed over an even smaller hole. I decided this must be the place where my enlightenment would come — why else would there be such a peculiar spot out here on my journey? So I sat down and enjoyed a snack of Ritz crackers and water while the rain caressed my face… and I cleared my mind as I so often do now during my morning savasana and I waited. While I waited I saw a rabbit, fitting as I have felt a little like Alice lately — wandering aimlessly around in Wonderland. I heard birds and saw spiders and listened to footsteps that I didn’t care to recognize. I remembered I had my camera and took this picture so I would be able to look back on where my enlightenment finally found me.

Shortly after I took this picture, the gentle rains once again turned into a massive storm. The thunder that had so poetically stayed off in the distance was now clapping directly inside my eardrum. Lightning lit my path as dark clouds covered the sun. I’m sure this is the part, as an enlightened blogger, that I’m supposed to tell you how I achieved peace and calm and a steady breath through the storm. Instead I’ll tell you how I ran completely around the promised lake (that had all but dried up) and sprinted the remaining 2 miles to my awaiting car. I was cold and wet and scared and cursing the storm rather loudly and insulting the enlightenment that never came. No sappy story to tell, no enlightenment waiting to perfect my zen… except for maybe this —

We make our own way in this life — no one can help us. Our emotions, our feelings, our enlightenment must come from our own awareness. We can’t seek others to do this for us — they’ll just be drained and turn away in the end… and what a sad ending that is. So, I remain a solitary person who needs people around, I seek to be emotionally closed off yet my soul sings when you reach out to me, I continue to build the wall around my heart but beg you to chip away at it. The change and the enlightenment must be our own — my own. Soon, hopefully, I’ll stop feeling so fractured from the too often occurring missteps — soon, I won’t be so fractured from the fall.

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