Freedom Is A State Of Mind

It’s almost Independence Day here in the United States, but I thought I’d look at freedom in a different way. Freedom isn’t just about rights that are awarded from sources outside of us; freedom is also what we allow ourselves to make of it.

For a while I’ve been imprisoned by my own thoughts and circumstances. My mind has settled on the impossibility of what life is and I’ve been unable to comprehend a time where things could be different. This has led me into some really dark days. I haven’t written on my blog for nearly a month, mostly because the majority of what I’ve written has been so dark and depressing, I simply cannot share it.

During this time, friends have tried to lift me up because I can’t stand on my own. I know this has been exhausting for them because it’s been tiring for me as well. Waking up each day has been a chore. I’ve been caught in an endless loop of not wanting to do anything, and then feeling down because I don’t find joy in anything.

I know; it’s all in my head.

A glimmer of hope came through in my writing recently, and I thought I would share. It’s the first hint in a long time that maybe I will be right again, someday. This poem was written about a friend who has put a lot of effort into trying to get me to see hope. I’ve not been able to look beyond what I could see for today and tomorrow. But sometimes (I’m told) hope waits over the horizon, just out of sight.

Just because I can’t see it, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

Hope is the light streaming in between clouds
Hope is the light streaming in between clouds

You are…

A seedling sprouting

on the charred forest floor;

the sun rising

bathing desolation in golden light;

fresh rain soaking

into parched desert soil;

the smile spreading

across a tear-streaked face.

You are the today

that makes me want to see tomorrow;

you are a gift-

a reminder of God’s amazing way.

These sentiments also apply to everyone who has offered prayers and well-wishes over the last several months. A big, heart-felt thanks to all of you! There is still so much uncertainty in my life, and most days are emotionally and physically draining, but I’m starting to believe one thing IS a certainty: I will be okay. “Okay” might not turn out to be what I thought it would be… but that’s okay 🙂 I am so far behind in reading blogs but I am finally to the point I think I can set aside a little time most days. I always enjoyed the blog community and I think perhaps taking the step to interact again will bring some normalcy, which I’ve been lacking.

I wish you all a beautiful weekend!  If hope isn’t clearly visible, may a shift in mindset bring it out of the shadows.

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Reflection

03-23 Duck4

I felt the current pulling me under…

but then,

your words provided shelter

from the rain of discontent

pelting my battered body.

I watched life scatter my dreams asunder…

that’s when,

you strived to make me stronger,

infused me with new-found courage

that I could, indeed, grasp for a future unseen.

I mourned the innocence and hope cruelly plundered…

there again,

you offered your ear and shoulder,

and supplied words of comfort (surely, heaven-sent)-

insisting goodness and kindness resided within me.

I absorbed the encouragement, and wondered…

how then,

did my worries become like beads of water

sliding off a duck’s feathered back?

Like a mirror, I must reflect the grace extended to me.               

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Inspiration:  This poem came to mind as I was pondering reflection.  There is the kind of reflection depicted in the photo; and then there is the reflection we do when we look back at where we have been, and those who have helped us through.

On March 28, 2010, I wrote my first timid post here.  I was certain no one would read it… and not many did!  But a strange thing has happened over the years… people have found my small space on the internet.  I appreciate everyone who has taken time to read something I’ve written.

Since I likely won’t post until next week, I just wanted to acknowledge the 5-year mark of this blog and my 773rd post.  It’s happening because of you:  the readers/commenters who make this a fun place to be.  I’ve grown a lot in the last five years and bared much more here than I ever thought I would.  I thought revealing myself would be terrifying, but it’s turned out to be liberating.

For all of you who have had me in your thoughts and prayers over the last couple months – thank you.  Your kind support has truly helped more than you know.  Someday I will provide some explanation, but I simply can’t right now 🙂

Being A Good Friend Is Hard

Sometimes a good friend can see what we don't...
Sometimes a good friend sees what we don’t…

Good friends can often see our blind spots.  It takes courage to tell us stuff we don’t want to hear, but they are there to comfort us when life is rough.

Recently a friend shared an observation which she’d kept to herself for years. What she said kind of hurt, but I wish she’d spoken up sooner. As I thought about obsessed over it more, I cycled through the possible motivations for silence and sharing. It could be a desire to not sway my choices (though decisions made on inaccurate observations are inherently flawed.) It could be that she doubted the strength of our friendship (sometimes when told something we don’t want to acknowledge, we lash out.) Maybe she kept her silence until she thought I could handle the truth. It could be a combination of these, and other factors. I try not to dwell on the reasons I cannot know, and instead, appreciate the fact she finally did speak up.

Sometimes life feels like a corn maze.  The greater design of my life is a mystery to me. I’m so focused on the day-to-day that I can’t see anything beyond the space my feet occupy.  Actually, I tend to see what I want to and rationalize the rest. That’s where a good friend can be invaluable.

Offering superficial approval, passive agreement, and placating compliments is easy. Being a good friend is hard.

My hope is that we can all have a good friend- and be a good friend to someone.

The Emergence (Fiction)

As I sat down to write this post on Thursday night, my motto was, “when gears don’t shift, stay in park.”

In my early-week confidence, I’d been certain I could write a story to post on Friday. Then, work happened. This week has made me wish I were close to retirement age. (Despite what my older son says, sadly, that is not the case.) Hours spent assessing the complications of contractual liability, updating payment plans in underwriting manuals, and testing new reports left me less creative than I like.

I parked myself on the couch to write a post about how I planned to embrace nothingness. I looked through some old photos hoping to find a peaceful one to accompany the short post, and then a funny thing happened- a short story emerged.

09-12 Mogollon Rim View

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Gabriella rolled over and stretched her arms above her head. Each morning as she shook off the grogginess of sleep, she almost forgot she didn’t have a permanent home anymore. The early morning sun peeked through the flap of the cowhide tent, reminding her of reality. They had been nomads since soldiers took over their land three years ago. Her father said they must always stay one step ahead of the sword. She heard her father’s voice outside.

“What do you suppose it means?”

The response came in a crescendo of murmurs.

Curious, she slipped her wool shift over her nightshirt and pushed through the door flap. Her kinsmen clustered on either side of a clearing that looked like someone had shaved a twelve-foot-wide stripe across the landscape, all the way into the horizon. She scanned the faces for her best friend, Daisy.

“It must be a sign,” Gabriella’s father, chief of the Mogollon tribe said as he rubbed his bearded chin.

“Daisy!” Gabriella called as she rushed toward her friend. When her feet hit the edge of the newly-formed clearing, a hand grabbed her shoulder, pulling her backward.

“You mustn’t cross the line.”

“But Father, I want to talk to Daisy!”

He shook his head. “They are another people now.” He turned to address the growing crowd flanking the edges of the dividing stripe. “The spirits have spoken. We must disperse as they have directed.” Everyone residing on this side of the line,” he gestured to his left,” will form one tribe. We will pack and leave by sundown.” He pointed to his right, “everyone on this side will become a second tribe. Today, you must elect your chief. He will determine when you embark on the journey to a new destination.”

“Father, we should stay together.”

The chief turned to his daughter. “This is not a point to be challenged, child. Ignoring the spirit ruler of the land shall have dire consequences.”

“But Daisy- she’s my best friend. We’ve been together since birth. This isn’t fair!”

“The spirit has spoken.” He clapped his hands twice and the people hesitated only a moment before dispersing into their respective camps.

Gabriella stared, incredulous that no one challenged her father. The idea that the stripe dividing the landscape was a divine revelation seemed preposterous. She knelt down and studied the shaved grass, still unsure enough to actually touch it.

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Birdie (Fiction)

Funky tree in our yard... wasn't the initial inspiration for this post, but well, I'll explain that at the end!
Funky tree in our yard… wasn’t the initial inspiration for this post, but  I’ll explain that at the end!

Bernadette Thibodaux stood in front of the house she’d just purchased, key folded in her palm.  “This is it,” she exhaled.  She turned to her best friend, Chris, to read his reaction.

“Well.  It’s a nice place.”

“But?”

“Who said anything about a ‘but’?”

“Come on, after twenty-two years, I can tell.”  She didn’t have to mention their years as high school sweethearts and their failed marriage; that always lingered in the back of her mind.

He shrugged.  “Birdie, don’t you think four acres might be a bit much for you to maintain?”

Birdie.  No one else could get away with calling her that.  “I just bought my first place.  Don’t ruin it for me.”  She grabbed his elbow.  “Let me show you the house!”

He nearly knocked her over when she came to an abrupt stop at the wrap-around porch.  While she fumbled with the key in the lock, he shook the railing.  “Sturdy support,” he mumbled.  “A porch swing would be nice over there.”  He pointed to the right.

She glanced over her shoulder.  “That’s exactly what I thought.”  She pushed on the door but it didn’t budge.  She thrust her hip against the door twice and it popped loose with a creak.  When she entered the foyer a new wave of excitement rippled through her.

Chris opened and closed the door several times and rubbed his fingers along the door jam.  “I think a little sanding right here and a re-paint and it’ll be good as new.”

Thunder rumbled overhead, shaking the windows.  Intermittent rain drops pelted the glass.

He peered at the track of the large window to the left of the entryway.  “Might need some tightening.”

She threw a playful punch at his shoulder.  “Critical much?  You talk like the house is falling apart.”

“I just think the place on Church Street would’ve been better for you.”

“It was sweet of you to look at it for me, but it was a condo.  No privacy at all.”

“But it was in town.”

“This is only twenty minutes away.”

He opened his mouth, but then closed it again.  “May we continue the tour?”

She nodded.  “Follow me, then.”  She led him into the kitchen.  She expected him to comment on the worn finish of the cabinet doors or the discolored laminate counter tops, but he said nothing.  When he saw the guest bathroom, he let the missing drain stopper go without comment.  The smallish guest bedrooms drew not even a murmur of criticism.

“So what do you think?” Bernadette asked when they circled back to the front door.

“It’s perfect for you, Birdie.”

Something in the smile he gave her, or the wistful tone of his voice, made her cheeks color.  “You know I want your honest opinion.”

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