When Life Is Cruel…

Forgiveness is the final form of love.” ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

How do you deal with disappointment, sadness, cruelty? Mostly, those are foreign feelings to me. Or, at least I don’t let them hang around my neck and pull me down.

I get mad,

I vent,

I cry.

Then I forgive myself…

for being human.

Then I pull up any and all anchors and float away. I go deep into nothingness where no thoughts can reach me. I feel, and feel, and feel some more. By myself, but not alone. While adrift I talk to God. He listens to me and comforts me. I tell Him everything. He doesn’t say much, but He always smiles and loves me. He shows me what others left for Him. Some of these, Betsy, He says, are caused by you. I stare in disbelief. He shows me those things to help me to understand that everyone will hurt and be hurt. But only those who are willing to pull up anchor and go out into the deep will find the truth.

The truth is that the pain has to go somewhere. If it stays in me it’ll search for others to hurt. It’ll grow as it feeds off of the pain it creates in others. However, the whole truth is that I will be its first target.  It’ll turn inward first and do a lot of damage to my well-being with my subconscious permission. It’ll manifest in self-abuse through addictions and behaviors that do anything but heal.

I know through experience that nobody can hurt me more than I can hurt myself.

Knowing that awful truth as well, He begs me to leave my wounds out in the deep before I turn back to face my journey back through the nothingness.

He tells me, in fact, that they were His all along anyways –  that He bought them from me a long time ago. I wonder how that is? But I believe Him and reluctantly let go of a part of me as if it never was. He assures me that I’ll always remember, and that the remembering is a gift to me as well. He wants me to remember the choice I made to let it go – to forgive others and myself for the parts we played, and to move on.

When I return I’m a different person. I’m weak, humbled, and very vulnerable – more aware of what it means to be human in a sometimes cruel world.

And when I look around with dry eyes and patched up heart I see beauty and love.

May you see it, too.

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What If Today… You Were Brave?

“Showing up is eighty percent of life.” ~ Woody Allen
It never changes.

Fear, that is.

I hadn’t planned on doing anything but sitting in the sand and watching James and Kenny swim, but they wouldn’t go in the cold water. I waded in up to my thighs and shivered. It was cold! There was one teenager swimming. Everyone else was sitting and watching, staring out at the water, daydreaming.

I saw the rope swing hanging silently off to the side about 30 yards away, bored as a rope could be.

I imagined we’d leave to go home soon because nothing was happening. We’d been lulled into the Twighlight Zone of the first day of Summer when people feel like they ought to feel something, but don’t.

So they sit and wait for something to wake them up.

I thought about what I’d say to myself at the end of the day –  had it been a good one? Was there anything I regretted? And that conversation with myself made up my mind for me.

“Wanna go off the rope swing?” I’d never swung off it into the water. Never. Not once. The last time I swung on a rope I was about 15 and I broke both of my wrists when it broke in mid-air. I wasn’t scared of falling. That’s not why I never tried the swing.

I was afraid of being exposed. Aren’t we all afraid of that to one degree or another?

do, but I want you to come!” Kenny whined, his voice betraying his lack of confidence in me.

In a matter of seconds we were on the skinny path of the woods, stepping over bared roots, dodging over-grown branches from bordering bushes. My heart started pounding and I began to giggle to myself. I jumped into the water to retrieve the rope and passed it to Kenny as I climbed back up the bank of tree roots.

“Do you want to go first or should I?”

“You go.” So that was it. I’d been chosen.The teenager, seeing some action, came through the woods as Kenny gave me the rope.

“You have to grab the 2nd knot up,” he advised, but I couldn’t reach it, so I backed up, wrapped my hands around the lower knot and jumped. I laughed and clapped as I blew the water out of my nose, and swung the rope up to the boys.

Kenny never took a turn, but the teenager did. He belly-flopped! It was really funny.

Then we were done, headed back to the beach.

The boys started swimming, having fun, and I sat down to watch. I heard a loud splash and some clapping, turned to see the remnants of the ripples made by a man who’d just dropped in off the swing, his wife cheering his success.

The beach had come alive all of a sudden. That made me smile and do some wondering.

I’m good at that you know.

When we’re very young we don’t really watch.

We do and be. 

We have to be learn to be brave as we grow up and become aware of ourselves and other people, our mortality, and the possibility for failure.

Remember and know that…

… while we’re learning to be brave,

…and to forget that anyone cares about what we’re doing,

…we miss out on a lot of fun,

…and the feeling of aliveness,

…and freedom.

Next time someone asks you to do something that makes you uncomfortable.

Think about BRAVE.

Being it.

Doing it.

Have fun!

Why We Need Each Other

Piglet sidled up to Pooh from behind.  “Pooh!” he whispered.  “Yes, Piglet?”  “Nothing,” said Piglet, taking Pooh’s paw.  “I just wanted to be sure of you.”  ~A.A. Milne

I waited, thinking I knew what he was going to say. We’d only been talking for five minutes and knew very little about each other. But as soon as he knew I had children, and that I missed them, he softened.

“I’ve had epiphany,” he started. “Women really do hold it all together.”

I think he was admitting to what he hadn’t known when he was married?

“So many people think they can do it all. But they can’t.”

I waited again. He was on a roll.

“I’m so lonely.” Now I was confused. Was he talking about tasks or emotions? Which ones do women do that “hold it all together”?

I thought about that conversation as I contemplated reverting to my old ways – list-making of tasks to get the things done around the house that I used to do all the time.

I felt a very dangerous (to me) thought creeping up, hoping to be believed:

I know I could do it all.

But where’s the fun, , the friendship, the support and the commraderie / relationship in that?

Some people can ‘do it all’. Maybe I can, too.

But I won’t.

It’s too lonely.

I like having someone have my back for when I lose my mental list of all that needs to get done; when I lose myself and the need to be nurtured, not just helped.

There’s a difference.

I don’t remember exactly how that conversation ended. It was only a few days ago. But I know that I was changed because of his humility and vulnerability with a new friend.

Need-

it’s what connects people.

Thank goodness! That’s all I have to say!

What a Dad Does That Really Matters

A dad who knows God knows himself and introduces Him to his children without even trying.

I’m not talking about church or religion.

I mean teaching your children who they are and how to grow spiritually by:

  • the way you talk to them,
  • remembering them,
  • playing with them,
  • listening to them
  • teaching them by example
  • forgiving them
  • respecting them
  • loving them
  • sacrificing for them
  • leading them to do the same for others
  • etc.

Maybe you”ve taught your child or someone else’s child to talk to God, to wonder and ask questions, and listen for answers. Perhaps you’ve shown him or her all about God with how you live your life. I hope so.

My father taught me to see God. He never even used the name “God”. He lived in a loving way with me.

Because of that I know who I am and that I matter in the Universe.

There’s nothing else that could ever compensate for that.

In the “end”, it’ll be all that matters to me, to you, to everyone; to remember what we already know – the stuff that’s deep inside that gets lost and forgotten.

The stuff that matters.

In the end.

I miss my dad and his simple ways.

Being Present for Presents

“There are No real coincidences in life for those with faith strong enough to recognize coincidences for what they really are: intricate pieces of the providential design God created for each of our lives” ~Delia Parr

 

My mom’s car rolled into a tree and has been in the car shop for over a week.

“You’re not going to like this,” she said on the other end of the phone right after it happened. Maybe she was referring to my new and temporary roll as chaffeur? 

Actually, I like it very much. I’ve had fun. I think she has, too.

Have you ever read the story of Eeyore’s birthday in the Winnie the Pooh book? 

Here’s the story in a nutshell (and here’s the whole story if you’re so inclined to read it. HERE):

Pooh eats the honey that he was going to give Eeyore as a present, but gives him the empty pot nevertheless.

Piglet is running with the balloon he has for Eeyore, trips and pops it, but gives him the popped balloon anyways.

Eeyore, much to their surprise, isn’t dismayed at all, but is delighted to sit in front of the “Useful Pot” from Pooh, sticking the broken balloon from Piglet into it and pulling it out over and over again. 

That is my favorite story for many reasons. The image of Piglet exploding the balloon is one of them. But another image I have in my mind that makes me smile is Eeyore. Pooh and Piglet expect him to be really bummed about his presents. But they turn out to be perfect. And he’s happy.

Pooh just had to tell Eeyore that the empty pot wasn’t just a pot before Eeyore could make the mental shift. 

Eeyore was left with two gifts that fit perfectly together. But both seemed to be random “accidents”:

Pooh’s hungry belly called.

Piglet’s hurrying popped the balloon, leaving the rubber remains.

Those gifts were created by “accidents.” Actually, they were uncovered. They were there all the time, but needed a little tweaking. Pooh, always the one to “go with the flow” was the one to change direction in what could have been seen as a dismal situation.

I’ve done things, met people and shared moments with my mom that I wouldn’t have had if her car hadn’t rolled into the tree. I felt very much “in the flow” this week. Sure, we’re both struggling to match work schedules and to overcome mental and physical fatigue. But the stories that keep showing up are so energizing. 

Who knows what’ll happen today? It’s raining and blowing hard. Again.

Perhaps it’s a day to find the Pooh Within? I hope you do. It’s fun.

 

I’ll leave you with this thought I found from Rhonda Byrne:

“You are receiving thousands of messages from the Universe every single day. Learn to become aware of this communication from the Universe, who is speaking to you and guiding you in every moment. There are no accidents and no coincidences. Every sign you notice, every word you hear spoken, every color, every scent, every sound, every event and situation is the Universe speaking to you, and you are the only one who knows their relevance to you, and what the communication is saying.
Use your eyes to see! Use your ears to listen! Use all of your senses, because you are receiving communication through them all!”
 
 

 

 

What If Today…You Gave Your Heart a Hug?


“The heart has reasons that reason cannot know.” ~Blaise Pascal

“Do your eyes get hot and you have to cry?” James asked. He has asked me that question twice in two weeks. I guess that’s how he feels when he knows that the tears are brimming, and threatening to break through the dam of a stoic heart.

Yesterday we were hurrying to the bus stop to meet Kenny and Madeleine in the rain when I remembered the Chinese Forget-Me-Nots I’d planted 10 days earlier. There they were, sprouting all on their own, no help from me.

That’s how I experience tears from a hurting heart; sprouting from the depths, covered up with thick mulch. pushing themselves to the surface, demanding to be seen. They never need my help, and rarely remind me of their presence lurking below the surface, their source of nourishment being unfinished business and sometimes regrets and sorrows.

Problem for me is that those feelings aren’t who I am, but they end up defining me when I don’t “manage” them or when I unconsciously expect other people to manage them for me. You see, I feel things deeply and tend to over-share with people. And that can overwhelm people unnecessarily. I’m okay with vulnerability. But this is different. This is like walking around naked all the time!

Just yesterday I’d been joyfully going about, spending the morning  with my mom, napping peacefully in the middle of the day, waking refreshed and ready to spend more time with her in the evening. We laughed, talked, solved problems and thoroughly enjoyed each other.

So, the sadness that poked through as I climbed the cellar stairs was not a welcome visitor this morning. Why the randomness? Why today? Memories were flooding in. I’d plug one hole and another would burst open, threatening to overflow and overtake all the good feelings that were struggling for time and space to make new memories today, tomorrow and the next day.

Pushing down the feelings as hard as I could I realized I wasn’t going to win. But I didn’t feel like crying either. Instead I did something new. And remarkably, it felt right.

I finished my ascent of the stairs and mentally took my heart out and gave it a hug.

(I know. Sounds strange. Even to me.)

I’ve been up for a few hours and have had to do a lot of “stuff” already. So far, so good, as they say. My heart is sad, but I’m not. I consider that a minor miracle! Don’t get me wrong. I love a good hug. And I’ll take one any day, for any reason. But I need to live as I’m living. Do you know what I mean? I want to experience joy…even with sadness poking through every now and again.

I’ve learned that  you can’t go around denying your feelings. You can try, but they will make themselves known somehow, just like my Forget-Me-Nots, probably when you least expect it.

May as well acknowledge them when they pop up ’cause the source is easier to identify when they first sprout.

So….give your heart a hug when it needs it.

Just a thought.

What If Today…You Told Someone That They’re Amazing?

“You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection”~ Gautama Buddha 

James giggled, his finger in my back pocket, following me out of the kitchen.

“Stop!” I laughed. “That tickles!”

“Do you want me to take it out?”

I turned to him as he held up the refrigerator magnet he’d slipped in my pant’s pocket without me knowing it. I’d been away for most of the day and had been cleaning up the kitchen with him following behind me. I’d nearly tripped over him a few times, patted him on the head as he hugged my legs, and kissed him a few times when he told me he loved me.

I emptied the refrigerator and cabinets, wiping down shelves and throwing out what was no longer edible. I did an amazing job!

Two days before, I’d stood in the kitchen of the Quissett Harbor House after five hours of cleaning and reorganizing, by myself. I’d walked in and was quickly overwhelmed. Where to start?  But I put my head down and began, erasing months of grime from everything that wasn’t nailed down, moving on to things that were once I was done.

Thankfully, the painter shared his music and repeatedly asked if I could hear it. We sang to ourselves when it was finally loud enough, passing time each in our own world.

“I’m amazing!” I yelled out as I looked at my work.

“Yes, you are,” said Bill. “And you have to tell yourself that because nobody else does!” We both laughed in agreement.

Yesterday pictures were taken of the next kitchen makeover I did to send to the client.

Then the picture-taker asked, “Do you want to keep working or do you want to go pal around?”

I thought about it and decided to go home. Perhaps it was the unseen magnetic pull, the remembering of the little ones waiting for me that won out?

I’d been cleaning and organizing my kitchen for 27 years. Nobody ever took pictures or said I was amazing. The thought of either had never crossed my mind.

Living is what I do.

Well is how I do it.

Every day is when, and I’ll continue ’til the day I die.

Yesterday it crossed my mind for the first time in forever that no matter what we do with our time, we’re amazing. And if nobody else says so, it’s not because they aren’t thinking it.

Yesterday, before dinner, James, Kenny and I ended up at the playground so that they could ride their bikes and hit some baseballs in the field. Kenny can really send it far, but James struggles holding the bat up long enough for a good swing.

“Watch, Mommy,” called Kenny as he readied for another hit. He pitched himself the ball and slammed it high and far.

“Wow, Kenny! That was amazing!” (Yes, I really used that word. I guess it was the word of the day?)

“And I’m really good at riding my bike!” peeped James.

“Yes, you are, James!” He beamed at the praise.

When we acknowledge those closest to us we do a remarkable service. But sometimes we save that praise for others. Sometimes people are too close for us to see who they are and what they need. Sometimes we stop caring or don’t know how to show that we care about what we mean to each other, or what we could mean to each other.

But we really are, you know.

Amazing, you know.

It feels really good to tell someone.

That you’re amazing. You. And me. All of us.

May that thought stick to you like a magnet – in your back pocket.

Go have fun. And tell someone they’re amazing. They just might love hearing that!

P.S. Just for fun, want to know what was on the magnet that James put in my pocket?

“Charity Never Faileth” ~ Charity, the pure love of Christ. Of course. I could have just said that!