Search

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

Tag

truth

Fail Better

“Try again, fail again. Fail better.” – Samuel Beckett

I struggle with sleep and have lost a lot of it over the last few years lamenting over the past and worrying about the future. It’s been an issue I’ve talked in great lengths with to professionals, like my therapist and medical doctors. Despite their advice, I’ve still caught myself awake in the middle of the night, in that god-awful place, worn-out and exhausted from staring at the ceiling like it’s a flat screen thats playing life’s reruns as if they are a binge-worthy Netflix series. If this is not the very definition of insanity, I don’t know what is BECAUSE WHO IN THEIR RIGHT MIND LIKES TO LOSE THEIR PRECIOUS ABILITY TO SHUT DOWN THEIR BRAIN FOR HOURS AT A TIME?

Jesus help me.

When it comes to my past, Samuel Beckett’s words have recently entered my brain and are helping me take a deep breath during my bouts with anxiety so I can unclench my fist and get some sleep. The premise: I CANNOT CHANGE PAST THINGS.

As far as the future goes, I’ve been reminding myself that worrying about it is asinine and basically is like praying for my worst fears to happen. That thought instantly makes me feel RIDICULOUS because I know better and helps snaps me back to reality, to the present moment, in which I take a deep breath and remind myself to simply (though it’s not always that simple) take the next step and then the next and so forth and so on.

I often feel alone in this struggle, however again, I know better.

Because here’s the thing: Taking the next step will REQUIRE FAILURE. I will not take the next step perfectly and besides, is perfection the ultimate goal? I’ve had to ask myself that hard question a multitude of times and NO is always my honest answer. So why in the hell am I scared of the future? I’m not. So bring it life.

Deep breath.

The good news is: I’m sleeping better. Welcome to the vicious cycle within my brain. If you are there too, you’re not alone.

Life is made up of a serious of moments. You and I both know this. In any one day, we each have 24 hours made up of 1,440 minutes. Why are we giving them up mulling over things we cannot do all that much about? Instead, let’s use that time being consummate practicers of TRYING AGAIN, FAILING AGAIN. FAILING BETTER.

My past, your past, is what it is. Let it be what it was. Better yet, just let it be.

Learn from it.

Forgive it.

Forgive others.

Forgive YOU.

Move on.

The future will run its jagged, little edges in you and either have its way with you or you’ll have your way with it if you’ve gleaned from the thrashing floor what you could to best navigate your next steps.

Breathe. Sleep and fail better. I am.

Write A New Story

If you take the time to honestly look at your life, you’ll discover that most of the stories you could tell have a similar theme. They sound about the same. You could sit and talk about your different experiences and/or people and they’ll most likely have a familiar undertone attached. A lot of those stories are probably really good and have been incredibly life-giving and impactful and if that’s the case, carry on as you were. Teach others what you know.

But if those stories are centered around a cyclical struggle; ie money, health, relationships…it’s time to change your story. But here’s the thing, change is hard. We get get used to the stories we tell ourselves and others. We have a love/hate relationship with them. We become accustomed to their sound and before we know it, they’ve lulled us to sleep and we become tired and complacent and don’t do the hard work to create a new story for our lives.

Since we are creatures of habit, in order for change to take place, we need to shift the way we think which in turn, shifts the way we act and directs our decisions differently. Maybe we need to learn some new skills or maybe our brains are already filled with an arsenal of information that we are choosing not to use.

Why not?

For me, the root of most of my life theme’s has been a lack of establishing healthy boundaries, which goes back to seeing myself as a person of value, someone worthy enough of creating a healthy guideline for my life. Being honest with that root has been hard, but I’m trying to intentionally shift my thought process to create new habits, and in the end, a new story…one that is inspiring, meaningful and produces the life I know I’m meant to live.

So do yourself a favor today and sit down and have a honest conversation with yourself and then sit down and have that same conversation with someone in your life that you trust, a truth-teller that you KNOW loves you unconditionally and won’t feed you any shit. Ask them what they hear when your life tells it’s story and then go from there. It’s sobering but if you can swallow a bitter pill, it will do you good. I promise.

Tackle one theme at a time and go easy with yourself as you go. But stick with it. Your well-wishes will only go so far and talk is cheap. Only your consistent intentionality will create new habits which in turn, will write a new story for your life. It’s possible. I wouldn’t be encouraging you to pursue this type of undertaking if I wasn’t currently doing it myself.

It’s never ever too late to write a new story for your life and go in another direction. This is your year. I’m cheering you on.

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.

The Power of Presence

The other night I was sick, as in violently ill. I’m pretty confident I had food poisoning, but whatever. I am better now so it doesn’t matter, but what does is this:

Most times when I am sick *read ALL times* I just want to be left alone. I just want my tired and worn body to heave intermittently and sporadically on its own, without an audience. Because who really needs to see all that and really, what can anyone do? If I am going to suffer, I don’t want it being a show.

The ticket booth is closed for business.

But this dog. This dog took a front row seat and actually bought out the house. She held diligent watch over me all night long. Each time I got up from my bed and hightailed it to the bathroom, she quickly paced behind me and laid on the floor with me. The Golden Retriever on the other hand, didn’t move. She was like “Godspeed woman. Get well so you can feed me in the morning.”

Asshole.

The point is, I was shown the power of presence. It’s what I call withness. Just being WITH someone wherever they are at, whatever they are in. It’s the place where you don’t need someone to FIX you or SAY anything magical or fluffy. You just need them to BE, right where you are at.

This dog was God in fur form. It’s an odd likening but it’s what I believe because I know His ways are not mine and I don’t always have to have it or Him all figured out. I just need to accept that is how He works. He shows up in tangible ways I’d understand or accept in the moment and says, “Hey. I’m here. You are not alone. No matter what you are going through right now, I’m present and I am with you.

So if someday you find yourself on the floor withering in pain or in a puddle of your own tears, He will be there for you too. It’s what He does and who He is. He might show up and look like someone you’d least expect, but it is His good nature to always be present.

And if like me, you needed a reminder of His faithfulness, this is it.

Solid Footing

Last night I was talking with a friend about direction. I told them I saw myself in a stream and was trying to make my way in the flow of it. I realized sometimes I feel like I’m being carried by the current and other times, I’m fighting it, but I know the best course of action is to continue along by either swimming or stepping through.

And right now, I need to take a step.

The truth is, taking steps are hard. I’d say almost as hard as going with the currents flow and trusting it’s going to take you where you need to go. Stepping requires intentionality. It involves wisdom laced with cautious and slow moves. One wrong step when you think you’re securing your footing can take you under when you’re preparing yourself to stand.

So I told my friend that my left foot has found something sturdy to stand on, something I know is good and secure, however my right foot is still feeling it’s way along the bottom looking for something to rest itself upon; something that is solid and steady that will help me get where I need to go.

It’s the place in-between one step and the other and if I hurry it along, I’ll sink rather than swim.

And the great and wonderful thing about this process is that I’m learning to rest in the in-between places rather than stepping haphazardly because I want to rush the journey along. It’s a life lesson in building trust, listening to myself and most importantly, listening to what I feel I hear God saying in and around me.

I’m learning to trust His sound, not necessarily my feelings because when God tells me to step, my feet find security that wasn’t necessarily there before when I scoured the depths below in search of it.

So left foot, I’ll place my weight solely on you. You’ll bear the brunt of my incessant wondering when, not if, the right foot will find its next place to land. Timing is everything. Until then, I’m going to rest and trust that you’ll hold me up when the current gets too strong and tries to whisk me away.

And if you lose your footing oh-strong-and-brave-left-foot-of-mine, it’s ok. If you get tired or scared from holding me up and the right foot never finds a solid place to land to help even out the weight or if I’m not even sure which way to do something next, we’ll do it both ways and see which works best.  We can sink or swim or step because I’ve realized for the first time in my life, wherever the stream of life takes me, I’m going to be just fine. We will all be. We can start again tomorrow if we need to.

The Intentional Pause

I’ve been thinking a lot the last few days about motives, about mine, and had been saving talking things through with my counselor today at my appointment, but as counseling appointments go, she found other topics we needed to discuss.

**If you don’t have someone that you pay to see past your bullshit, I highly recommend you find one**

Anyway.

I recognize a lot of my motives have been rooted in fear. Fear of loss. Fear of failure. Fear of making the same mistake another zillion times. That fear has twisted my motives for WHY I do and say what I do into a jumbled ball of knots. What was once so incredibly simple has become utterly complex. Especially when it has come to other people.

Self-protection has been a strong motivator and I have allowed it to strip away at my desire and ability to be vulnerable because experience has taught me that people make bad choices and hurt one another. Protecting myself has seemed like the only viable option because pain and has demotivated me in stepping into new relationships or even maintaining existing ones.

And though we did not talk about my motives today, we talked about the complexity of how I’ve been feeling. The simultaneous process of both healing and hurting at the same time. It made me realize that fear isn’t such a bad thing. There is a reason it is there. It has a purpose. What I need to remember is that it is ok on one hand to be afraid just as it is ok on the other to be courageous.

It is ok to heal.

And it is ok to hurt.

Both at the same time.

So today I’m choosing to replace fear as my motivator with awareness. I’m aware that I’m both healing and hurting and out of that, I just need to remember to ask myself WHY am I doing or saying what I am and WHERE is it it coming from.

I heard a talk on the radio the other day about kids who act out for attention. It made sense until the speaker said that seeking attention is not WHY kids act out. Attention is not what unruly children crave…connection is.

And we are no different.

Connection is a legitimate motive, at least it is for me. Sometimes my actions speak otherwise, especially when I hole myself up in a thin and flimsy shell and tuck myself far, far out of reach, but it doesn’t negate what’s truth: I ultimately crave it. Though many days I feel like a kid acting out and seeking attention, I know it’s because I’m afraid and have equated fear as a negative. Today I remembered that’s its ok to be right where I’m at so hopefully tomorrow, I will intentionally pause and ask myself if I’m going to allow fear of being hurt keep me from something or someone needed and good.

I pray the answer is no.

Talk Is Cheap

The beginning of the school year is always a stressful time for me and I’m going to go ahead and assume it’s that way for most who work in my industry. This year however has proven to be especially rough, which I expected but somehow didn’t. Some things you simply cannot prepare for.

I’ve felt for the last few weeks like I’ve had the center seat in a dunking tank, you know the kind you see at Summer fairs where the target is pelted by worn leather baseballs that hit squarely on the bullseye and then drops the poor unfortunate soul on the seat into the water. Let me tell you this: Whoever is throwing the balls hitting the target not only has my number, but has aim and a strong arm and they’re not allowing me time to come up, grab a seat and catch my breath before the next go.

Damn them.

And through it, I may or may not have handled that stress well. I may have wielded a complaint or two about it, as in screaming not such sweet nothings into the air as I walk the dogs in the field behind my house. And while doing dishes. Talking to a friend. Sitting at my desk. In the end, venue doesn’t matter. Point being, I’ve morphed into a complainer and I know it.

And the thing about complaining is that it disguises itself. It makes you think you are releasing the weight of what you’ve been carrying, like it’s some sort of helper, but in actually reality, it’s not a helper at all. Complaining is a play ground bully and a instigator that tries to make problems seem bigger than solutions and I fell for it. Hook. Line. Sinker. In the end, I’ve become my own worst enemy…at least my continuous bouts of negativity have been.

The critical inner voice is the language of this enemy of mine and it’s universal. It is an internal dialogue that drives rumination, self-blame and self-loathing. It mocks us, shames us, scares us and lures us into self-limiting or self-destructive behavior. It tells us not to trust the people we love. It points fingers and places blame. It influences us to not try to reach a goal. It advises us and subdues us, keeping us seemingly safe inside a miserable, albeit familiar, shell.

As a result, the most important battle we may fight is the one going on inside ourselves – the real us versus our critical inner voice.

And I’ve allowed my critical inner voice to take charge.

How are you doing August?

Oh…let me tell you.”

And one day last week, I met my quota. I woke up and felt heavy and worn, not out but through. I realized I was tired, but not from my circumstances, but FROM how I’ve been responding TO my circumstances. I recognized that I’m a better responder than what I have been and an overall better person than what I’ve presented so I’ve decided to make a shift in my thinking and have *mostly* been keeping my mouth shut because when my mouth is shut during stressful times, the words inside my head lose their audience, get bored and find more constructive things to do.

This is a true story.

If you find yourself in a negative rut, stop digging. Stop whining, complaining and ranting. Stop breathing not so sweet nothings into the air for anyone or anything to hear. Once can be freeing, but doing so on a frequent basis becomes an addictive habit that just buries everyone and everything alive with your dirt.

Take it from me, talk is cheap. Some things aren’t worth being said.

Create Space

Today is the last day of our cruise so needless to say, I woke up at 8:45 AM with a vision of how the day was going to go and in my mind, it was going start with coffee and some breakfast.

My kids, not so much. All the lights may have been turned on and all the words may have been said and for a brief moment in time, visions collided and our togetherness became separateness in a very small cabin on the seventh deck. Sadly, division oozed from the four corners of the room of minutes.

Truth was, I was trying to do what I thought was best. I was up at what I thought was a very reasonable hour and to be honest, could no longer lay in bed in a dark cabin and pretend to be asleep for the sake of three other people. And as their Mother (and yes I began playing the Mother card) I didn’t WANT them to be asleep any longer either. I didn’t want them laying in their beds, thumbing through their phones.

As their Mother, I wanted them to squander their day as I had planned…which was having breakfast together and doing nothing but lay by the pool.

As their Mother…I had an expectation. I was the boss. I was steering the ship of the vacation that I had paid for.

As their Mother, I can be an asshole.

Long story short, I left the cabin agitated but told the kids that I wasn’t when I clearly was and marched off to have breakfast on my own. Looking back now, I needed that hour by myself. I needed to sit in silence and think things through and figure why I was getting all bent out of shape over such non-important things.

The answer of course, was easy to spot. My vision was all good and such and was perfectly perfect but it was MY vision for the day and mine alone. My kids on the other day, though birthed from my body, had their own that were separate that I forgot to consult. As their mother, I often get what I think is best entangled with what is right and what was right on this day, in that moment, was to allow them to have their own day just as I wanted to have mine. We are all so very different.

So I came back to the room and told them what I’d like to do today and let it at that. I listened and was open to suggestion but more so, had extended them each an invitation to do somethings together. The last thing I wanted was to be likened to a tyrant whom told them this was this and that was that when deep down, all I was really wanting was quality time with my children. You can’t really have that when you force a HAVE TO on the people you want to spend time with. Sometimes you just need to put it out there and hope their WANT TO (and not yours) brings them back into the center of life’s hub.

I think if you create room for people to step into that space on their own rather than bullying, guilting or coercing them into what you think is best or right, they will meet you in the middle and your relationship can remain intact and strengthened. And if they choose not to take that step, it’s not you. It is them.

Unless of course you’ve made it about you, just like I was trying to do this morning all about me.

When you take people’s freedom to choose away from them, even if you feel like you have earned the right to pull some special card at the table, you better be prepared to have more than just a choice or two taken away from the mix.

It might cost you the very relationship you say is most important to you.

Be Brave

A couple weeks ago, I was bartending and as bartending goes, I was privy to hearing things. Two friends were talking about a friend they had in common whom had been struggling with depression and had recently been hospitalized for it. I heard “nut house” amongst other not nice things and it made me kind of grumpy as I finished my work. Sometimes you can’t unhear what you’ve heard despite all your best attempts to forget that you had.

Obviously, it wasn’t the kindest conversation. In fact, I felt they were rather brutal in talking about their so-called “friend” who had obviously been struggling and they appeared to have little to no sympathy for him. It broke my heart and made me think on the subject here weeks later. Here’s why.

All of us have probably received the news that someone that we loved, someone that we knew or someone that we knew of committed suicide. In my short forty-five years, I have had several acquaintances succumb to the depths of depression and lost their will to fight. And every time I hear of it, my thoughts are always the same: “I had no idea because they seemed like they had perfectly “normal” life. I wonder if they reached out for help. Did anyone know they were struggling?” Trying to wrap my head around such tragedies always throws me off-kilter, as it should.

And here I was again off-kilter as I listened to these friends make fun of and belittle someone for checking themselves into the hospital. It was taken lightly and ridiculed. I’m sure I would have been privy to a different conversation had their brave friend chosen not to get help. This needs to change.

There’s a stigma attached to reaching out for help, especially when it comes to mental health. No one should struggle. No one should have such thoughts or reach such depths. No one should fall a part and reach that level of vulnerability because when they do, they tend to be looked upon negatively in many different ways.

Weak.

Incompetent.

Crazy.

A danger not only to themselves but to others.

How do I know these things? I’ve been told these things by good and well-meaning people.

Personally.

A year ago today I got up on a Saturday morning and cleaned the house. I did the laundry and folded the towels. I made meals for my family and lined them into neat and tidy rows in the fridge and then I drove myself to the hospital, went straight to the ER and told the check-in nurse I needed to speak to someone in crisis.

Because I was in one.

I hadn’t harmed myself or anyone else but I was severely depressed, had stopped eating the week before and my thought life was a spiraling mess. I kept thinking I would get better on my own but the reality was I was scared that one day, in just one moment, I wouldn’t be able to fight the thoughts I had been having off any longer.

Looking back now, it was, without a doubt, one of the bravest decisions I’ve ever made and it showed me a lot about who I am. In all the right ways.

Since that day a year ago today, I’ve fought a hard battle but have persevered thanks to the love and support of my family and friends, particularly my children. I found a good therapist who helped me understand how and why I got to where I was and a good psychiatrist who did not think I was crazy or needed labeled with a permanent diagnosis, but rather realized how present day circumstances and our environment contributes to one’s mental health state. It’s been a year of hard work, taking ownership, assigning responsibility, establishing boundaries, accepting what is, letting go and looking to the future, but I’ve kicked some major ass and made it through. At the end of this week, I will be released from my doctors care. I did not take the chicken exit and am making it through to the other side. Happy Anniversary to me indeed.

But I have more to do.

God has been faithful and ever-present and for that, I am incredibly thankful. It’s been a humbling journey and I have learned a great deal about God, myself and others. If you ever find yourself sitting with a friend on the other side of the bar at a Beer Stube, remember your words and that everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some sort and sometimes, those battles are incredibly painful and hard. Once more, we need to do better. We have to. The ones that reach out for help are not weak, but brave. They need encouraged and supported. Not dismissed or jeered.

And if you’re like me and ever find yourself in a position where you need help of any kind, don’t go it alone. Don’t wake up day in and day out scared of your thoughts. I don’t care who you are or what you do. I don’t care of the title you hold or your position in the community, get the help you need. Don’t listen to the lies telling you you’ve failed or that’s it’s all your fault or if you were stronger or more this and less that, you would be better. Don’t listen to your Churches stance on medication and mental health. Pay no mind to what other people think or what they might say.

There is never ever shame in being brave and asking for help. Ever. I am with you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑