Sometimes things happen in life that force me to reflect. Reflection isn’t always easy…. just like looking in the mirror and acknowledging the cumulative effects of years in shades of gray and crevices along once-porcelain skin, reflection sheds light on ingrained patterns that led to some of my darkest days.
My weakest moments have shown me that faith is hope, and love is the way. Not romantic love. Instead, the love that is friendship and genuine caring for others; the kind of love that prompts me to do something just to make someone else smile. Because, when I can’t find the strength to smile myself, seeing someone else smile is enough.
Love is the guide.
This weekend, I visited friends that I haven’t seen in a few years. I can think of many excuses reasons, but all of them are selfish. I showed up on their doorstep unannounced, Easter Lily in hand, and they welcomed me without any hard feelings whatsoever. We visited for hours, she shared some chocolate cake and hugs and we will go to lunch next month when I’m in town again.
This last year has shown me that when the passing idea to do something kind happens, don’t ignore it. When the thought turns into an urging that keeps resurfacing, I should definitely do something. With faith giving me strength and love as my guide, I’m ready to embrace the lessons that life has for me.
This one word describes pretty much every aspect of me and my life at the moment. There must be a lesson somewhere in all of this because I like things to be completed. Perhaps I’m supposed to learn patience. Or maybe the state of unfinished is meant to make me look at what’s really important in my life. I don’t expect to fully grasp how “unfinished” has changed me until time has passed and I’m looking over my shoulder.
I moved into my house a month ago. Everywhere I turn, I’m greeted by reminders of what I haven’t gotten done. As a person who likes neatness and order, this is difficult to deal with at times. I have broken towel racks that need to be replaced. I have no artwork hanging on my walls because I need to finish painting first. I have fabric I bought 3 years ago for window valances I never made for a house I no longer own. I would like to make them here. I need more time…
I want to write, but the things I need to do creep into my consciousness and strangle my creativity, like weeds in a vegetable garden. I struggle with darkness more than I would like, but I avoid sharing what I’ve written in this state because it’s depressing. I want to read blogs, but I get overwhelmed by the number of unread emails so I give up (which makes it worse!)
I am unfinished.
Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we’re complete masterpieces until we’ve exhaled our last breath. I’m somewhere in between who I was and who I will be… but I don’t know what that means yet. Uncertainty has allowed me to exist in this state of flux for quite some time. I didn’t live last year. I breathed in and out, even when I didn’t want to, and woke up each day with the single goal of getting through it. It seems I’ve forgotten how to look forward; how to dream.
I hope words will come and allow me to write my way through this.
Another page turned,
365 days of memories
fresh in my mind;
like too-thick paint
on an oil-slicked surface.
I wake to the problems
of so many yesterdays,
yet resolve to remain resolute
in my desire to see hope
where I once saw darkness.
It’s hard to lift my chin
and I search my heart for praise
clutching a half-full glass,
trusting it will never be empty-
rather, overflowing with counted blessings.
As I do with poetry, I’m going to explain the thoughts behind the words I chose. I wrote this poem on the first day of the year. I admire those who approach the new year with such a strong sense of hope and excitement for what the next 365 days might hold. I want to hope- I really do, but if hope was a candle’s flame, reality would be the wind gust gathering the strength to snuff it out.
I woke up on New Year’s Day, hoping my heart would feel giddy anticipation for the promise of a new year; a clean slate of sorts. Instead, my consciousness noted the fact there is no clean slate – my slate is already filled with the stuff that’s happened the last year, and it’s too gunked up to be wiped away. Before the end of the year, I received a confirmed diagnosis of the culprit of my younger son’s pain: juvenile arthritis, specifically, ankylosing spondylitis. (He is an amazing kid who happens to turn 10 this week.) The new year doesn’t change the fact I’m left with choices that don’t feel very much like choices at all. The first seven lines of the poem speak to this.
Even under the weight of reality, I still want to hope and remember the ways I am blessed. I spent most of 2015 in a suffocating darkness where I could see no reason for my next breath. I don’t make resolutions, but I do resolve to do everything I can to not go there again. Praise is a chore at times, but I want to trust with all my heart that under the thorns of my burdens lives a joy I couldn’t fully appreciate without the struggles. The last part of the poem is a pep talk to myself to not let my past hog-tie my future and take away my ability to experience joy.
May you find peace today, tomorrow, and the days following- even during trying times. Have a beautiful Wednesday!
The holiday party at my work is on Wednesday and they are having an ugly sweater contest. When I first read the memo, I thought, “meh.” Then the more the idea settled, the more fun it seemed. I searched through thrift store racks for something so ridiculous no one could argue the ugliness. Then, I began to think of ways I could make it look even worse.
Last night, I finally got around to sewing strings of bells onto my sweater. I finished one sleeve and examined it, convinced it might just be hideous enough to win.
And then my older son walked into the room (he’s thirteen.)
“Why are you sewing bells onto your sweater?” he asked.
“Because I’m making my ugly sweater even uglier.”
“But it’s not ugly, it looks kind of pretty.”
Pretty?! I stopped to look at his expression, certain he was messing with me, like when he convinced me a bee had landed in my hair. (There was no bee, but I hope he enjoyed the show, because I have not forgotten… and I will get him back!)
“It looks fancy,” he said.
Well, fancy wasn’t what I was going for. I decided that ugly was in the eye of the beholder. And then my thoughts led me down the loopy path that became this post…
The gifts under my 4-ft Walmart tree are not adorned with bows or ribbon. I have never lived with a cat who could not resist chewing and ingesting the ribbon. It’s like ribbon is woven with tuna and catnip and is too irresistible to the feline palate. Never mind the intestinal issues that follow… not even that will deter them. This is why I have a strict no ribbon policy and no matter how much the kids beg for the “pretty stuff”, it won’t happen.
Some might see our gifts as not aesthetically pleasing; even ugly. I’m so used to “plain” presents that I see the assorted wrapping papers and think, “pretty!”
Again, ugly is in the eye of the beholder.
Here’s where my thoughts looped again, and I associated this statement with people. I’ve met people who, on the surface, seem ordinary or dull, but once I got to know them, they were quite interesting- whether it be fascinating travels, quirky sense of humor or unique hobbies. What a pleasing surprise that is!
On the other hand, it’s a crushing disappointment to be enamored by the fluff and frills, only to discover that once all that’s gone, there’s nothing of substance. When that happens, it’s hard to remember what I found so beautiful in the first place, because all I could see was the ugliness beneath it all. It’s like even the memories were a fraud; they became fuzzy and disconnected from the reality I learned.
Ugly really is in the eye of the beholder.
Age has taught me a few things. Like, gravity happens, but it matters less and less. And, maybe my parents understood more than I gave them credit for. And, the best friends are those who don’t need to be everybody’s friend.
And finally, real beauty isn’t observed in a glance.
Have a beautiful Tuesday (even if you happen to be donning an ugly sweater!)
Last night I found myself in an unusual position: it was 7pm and neither kid was watching the TV. I decided to nab the opportunity to watch another episode of a series I started a couple weeks ago on Netflix. Apparently, this has the same effect as when I pick up the phone to call a friend, or sit down to balance the checkbook- a few minutes into it, my younger son plopped down on the couch next to me.
“What are you watching?”
“An episode of a TV show I found on Netflix.”
After a few moments of silence. “Is that guy his dad?”
“No, they didn’t meet until just now.”
“Why did he call him Father then?”
“Because he’s a priest and that’s what people call priests.” I glanced over at him. “Did you want to watch one of your shows?”
“No, I want to see what happens.”
So we watched the show, but not in silence. He had lots and lots of questions. I had some answers, but not all. See, I had the benefit of seeing the 19 episodes prior, so I knew the history. History is good, but it doesn’t necessarily give an obvious clue as to the future.
It struck me that this is a lot like life. It would be be nice if life were like Netflix, where I could watch the “good” parts over and over, rate the “bad” parts with one star and remove them from my watch list, and skip ahead when I just can’t wait to see what happens next.
But life isn’t like that. Life is “old school” – I only get to see it real time, as it happens. It seems like the difficulties and struggles linger while the peaceful times are as brief as a single breath…maybe two, if I’m lucky. I know where I’ve been, I know where I’m at, but I have no idea what happens next. I have no choice but to meet one sunrise after another and take it in as it unfolds. I may not like all the “parts,” but with God’s grace, surely I can frame my view so I see each moment as something to cherish.