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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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newyear

Wait It Out

I woke up on New Years morning and told my kids this story:

I laid in bed a few hour’s after the ball dropped only to discover that a bat was flying around my room. It was about 2:00 AM and the only thing I could think to do was pull the covers up over top my head because my Golden Retriever laid beside me oblivious and was obviously of no help. As I listened to it fly above my head, hitting the walls with its wings, I thought of what I should do and nothing was all I could think of. Eventually it would settle and find its way somewhere else or it would make a nest in my hair in the middle of the night. Whatever. I was done figuring things out for the day and wasn’t interested in creating a household pandemonium in the early morning hours. I decided to wait it out. After a few minutes, I no longer heard it so I came out of hiding too exhausted to care. Hours later I got up to use the bathroom only to discover the bat had drowned itself in my toilet.

I will forever be scarred and I’m sure you will understand why.

I don’t ever remember having a bat in this old house, but there I was, heading into the New Year with a bat overhead while laying beside the most unaware dog on the planet. I gave up looking for signs and wonders from God a few years ago, but I still pay attention. I listen differently than I used to and am slower and more hesitant for attach His name to random things, but all day, the story I told the kids, the very one I just told you, kept getting whispered back to me from a voice inside myself that was known and familiar and trusted.

2020 is about as big of a year as they come in my book as I’m on the cusp of major transition and change. Most days, I wake up worried and wondering. Fear has become my friend because there is much yet I do not know, more than that that I cannot fix.

The bat experience was a representation of how my year is most likely going to go. It’s going to scare the hell out of me. It’s loud and whipping wings are going to lap vivaciously around my head making feel as if I will be eaten alive, but it’s going to be ok. I don’t need to do much but stay the course and rest. I’ll keep trusting and hiding myself in God and if anything or anyone wants to find me, they’ll have to go through Him to get to me. In the end, everything’s going to come together and my worst fears will end up drowning themselves in the toilet, much like that bat.

I can’t tell you how much I needed that visual, but I can tell you that I didn’t ask for a sign or some supernatural experience. To be honest, I’ve kind of given up on that type of encounter because my belief system is a little shaken. I am thankful I have a God who chooses for see me, even the me who puts her faith on the back burner most days.

He is good.

Make Room 

The perfect morning to me is a cup of coffee, the couch and a book and time void of hustle and rush. Slow. Slow makes it truly, truly perfect and as Chief Hopper says in the very first episode of Stranger Things

“MORNINGS ARE FOR COFFEE AND CONTEMPLATION.”

And this morning I found myself having it all. The coffee, the couch and book…with plenty of time to get lost in some thought or some conversation and they walk right past, stuck in their morning routine, just the same.

“Come sit with me for a bit,” I say and I make room on the couch. I want more than just the normal Sunday Morning. I want their presence.

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about PEOPLE. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do? Isn’t that Christmas? I think of people in particular…their role in my life, my role in theirs and our influence on one another. I’ve been asking a lot of questions, gleaning a few answers and in between doing a lot of soul-searching.

There is more to life then living from here to there. There is a place in between.

In the past few days I’ve sat with people when it wasn’t convenient or easy and through it, I’ve realized once more how important it is to give each other our presence. We all want to be seen and heard and sometimes, most times, I liken all of humanity to the old stainless steel tea-pot that sits on my gas stove: We take time to warm up. We don’t want hurried along like we are an appointment on someone’s calendar or an errand they are running that can eventually be crossed off their list.

But sadly, most times, that is what we get.  Remnants of someone’s leftovers, their seconds, their hurry, their less than best.

Looking back now, I can see where that rush has caused more than a problem or two. Lack of presence places Constance where intact should be forged and before you know it, it’s easy to feel like distrusting strangers.

I think it’s the people in my every day crazy, when things aren’t calm and slow, that I’ve needed to pay closest attention to. The ones I’m most likely to whiz right by or take for granted have needed my solid and sturdy legs to remain strong yet bendy so I could ask simple and basic questions.

**Like**

“How are you?”

How many times do we dig our heels in and wade through the awkward silence for their answer? Their REAL answer.

Not many enough.

Conversely, last night as I was putting on my shoes, a random thought popped into my head. I thought of one person in particular, one I’ve been giving too much time and attention to though they havn’t been anywhere in my travels, no where in my circles but they indeed have been taking up space in the thoughts inside my head. As I laced up my last shoe, I didn’t think but more RESOLVED that they were a common denominator in too many of my here-and-now-life-problems. Too much of what I have rolling on the inside of me has their name attached and just like that… I made the decision to take them out of my equation.

And I realized I can do that.

Just. Like. That.

I’ve been giving them too much space through no fault of their own and in the big picture, it’s been frustrating. I’ve allowed their influence to tip some scale inside my life in a less than life-giving way and I refuse to carry them with me into the New Year.

I choose to no longer give them a seat on the couch that is housed in a room within my head. I stood tall after tying my shoes and within moments, showed them to the door. I don’t need to think about them or talk about them because to do so, places an unhealthy, unbalanced importance where it shouldn’t and afterwards, I’ve wondered WHY I’ve ever given away such a powerful choice.

And the sad but wonderful thing about this moment, in the midst of shoes and laces is this…

My resolve has nothing to do with an actual person as first assumed. Sure there’s a name but in the grand scheme of things, it could be a hundred names. They were merely just a representation of a festering wound and I think I needed someone, essentially anyone, to blame.

And since blaming does no good.

Here’s the door.

Be free.

What they represented to me has to go. I need to make room in my heart for vision and hope and joy and laughter and I don’t want to make time for the incessant chatter things past try to hold me to.

We need to free up space friends for real people. Not for the stupid things people do or our assumptions about them. Not for past hurts that keep replaying like a broken record. Not for our offenses or the sordid scenarios that we play and then rewind again and again in our head. Sometimes it IS as simple as refusing to give those thoughts an audience and if it means for a while that the name that’s attached goes unmentioned so you can quit your bad habit, then let it be so. Go cold turkey. Do whatever you can to think favorably again.

It’s not about cutting our losses. We need to look at the rooms within our homes and examine what is filling them. Sometimes it gets a little crowded with stuff and I don’t know about you, but if I’m going to have a full house, I’d rather have it packed with presence. People presence. Not poor thinking OF people presence because at the end of the day, negative attention is STILL attention and takes up space. An awful lot of it.

Friends I’m short on time and like you, I want to make my time count. I want my presence count. If I have any resolutions this year it is this:

want the person standing in front of me to walk away knowing they were heard and seen **THAT THEY WERE LOVED** and I want my thoughts to count.

I don’t have people to waste. I don’t have thoughts OF people to waste.

Neither do you.

The Gym, Some Paint and a Dog Named Roy.

Several months ago our family joined the local YMCA. An invitation came home from our daughters elementary school to participate in a free, two-week trial with the Y’s swim team. She loves to swim and like most children who are the last ones born and the youngest of FIVE, she has traipsed to enough of her siblings and cousins events without ever having found her own.

That white piece of paper was THE invitation for her to do just that.

Needless to say, she loves it and we felt it was a place for her to thrive in many different ways so we joined. THE GYM. Now I am not a gym person.I have not been in a gym since college when my friend Jen taught some aerobics class when aerobics was even a thing. Pavement is my workout vice, NOT the treadmill. Or the weight machine. Or some, stinky, sweaty rubber mat. B-U-T I have been sick and running outside has not been conducive to healing so the other night, I buckled down and went.

To the gym.

It feels like such a dirty word.

I put on workout clothes that I wouldn’t mind being seen in public in and we gathered around the table as I announced to my entire family, “I can’t believe I am going to THE GYM” because in my mind, this was an event like no other. They could less about my dramatazation but instead talked about how EVERYONE is headed to the gym right now. It’s the beginning of January and New Years resolutions are in full swing and the gym is one places to meet the best intended of all people on this planet and rightly so. They have hopes and dreams and goals and it made me think once more about what I START and what I FINSH.

I’ve started a lot of things over the years. Most of what I’ve started I would say I’ve finished but I do have things that i lost drive and excitement for and I wonder what ever in the world happened to them. Either I was emotionally charged when I embarked or unrealistic in my goals…perhaps both. Who knows and it doesn’t quite matter now but what DOES matter is I have goals in 2017. For the last two months, I have sat and prayed about WHY I want to start and HOW I’m going to finish.

Because finishing IS important. Why haven’t I in the past??

As I prayed, I realized my answer.

All things I’ve started, be it a new relationship or something that I do; a new hobby, new habit or new goal gets hard along the way. It gets complicated or inconvenient. It gets a lot of things and the picture I have in my head and the reality that I have in front of me end up being two totally different things at the end of the day. My enthusiasm to finish deflates and with it, my HOPE, which acts like a ballon. Hope can inflate or deflate not only my confidence but my will to start AND finish.  When I lose HOPE, I lose myself for HOPE is the back bone of everything IN me to ever DO.

HOPE tells me things are POSSIBLE and to KEEP TRYING. 

Brian Johnson said this once at it has stuck with me, “A person who has HOPE knows every decision they make will effect their future. But a person without hope only makes decisions for the moment, can’t see past the immediate, and most time those decisions made are bad and lack follow through.”

Yes, hard gets in the way. Hard comes and pops our ballon full of HOPE and we give up.

I have a hallway upstairs near our bedrooms lined with paint cans. I started painting some of our rooms well over a month ago and before that, well over a YEAR AGO but WHO is keeping track of all that? The holidays hit and kids were home and actually insisted on living in the very rooms I planned to paint and I lost by can-do. I can make a 1,001 excuses why my hallway is half Tan and half Goldenrod but at then end of the day, my motivation needs a good talking to. Like my friend with pug named Roy (and who names their dog Roy? That’s almost worse than naming your baby Burt). Roy likes to chew.

Underwear.

Bed Post.

Shoes.

ALL Shoes.

She WAS correcting him regularly when he was a puppy but after awhile, she gave up. It didn’t seem to be working because he was forever finding her underwear and her ruby red flats. So now, she buys underwear in bulk from Amazon and just hopes she has a fresh pair left come Monday morning.

Moral of the story? Before you start, know in that pretty little head of yours that it is going to get hard and inconvenient and you will lose that good feeling that makes you think you can do all things. Remind yourself ahead of time that you may not be able to do ALL things but you certainly CAN do hard things. So that pretty idealistic picture you have your head, shatter it by replacing it with the SAME imagery but crumble it up a bit. Stain the edges with coffee and then cry yourself some big, ole tears all drippy and wet and drop them on that idealistic picture you have in your head and heart. When you are all said and done, rip an edge or two for good measure and call it perfect and end the day.

Wa-La.

So before you start, know WHY you are starting. This will be the nutrition you need before your feet cross the line and you start the race and then ask yourself HOW you are going to finish. If you don’t ask yourself these two questions, then maybe just don’t offically start yet. Leg work is important. Training takes time so train well BEFORE you begin because once you begin…it all just begins to look DIFFERENT. Knowing your WHY and your HOW will help you dig your heels into THAT relationship or THAT job or your numerous parenting dilemmas, etc.

Most things have an end. It is a natural progression in this life but there is a difference between finishing because your work is completed and quitting because your work got hard and inconvenient.  YOU are a finisher. Remember that. You see things to completion just like I’ll someday soon finish painting my hallway and then move on to the next room. Just like my friend who has the Pug named Roy who  is trying once more to salvage her home, her shoes and her intimates by using Bitter Apple Spray to deter his chewing efforts…Bless.

Getting started is exciting. It is a high all its own but at the end of the day, at the end of this life, finishing is MOST important.

Finish well my friends.

Much Love,

August

P.S. A thought popped in my head about our table. You know, the one I envision us ALL sitting around. I have this idea so here it goes:

Imagine we are sitting around a large ROUND TABLE. You have your coffee and I have something stronger, just because. I say to you, because we are friends and I want to know you past what you had for dinner last night…”So what do YOU want to start in 2017? WHAT is on YOUR heart?”

What would your answer be?

So now this is where YOU are invited to share…and please don’t leave me hanging, having further rejection issues to contend with.

 

 

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