I hate blogging and other true confessions

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.comAnd you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. John—8:32

As much as I feel like penning these posts can be an intrusion on my life and my privacy, I seem to be motivated to write them each week. A dual dilemma it is for me. On one hand, I am a painfully private individual. Whether from my own choosing or making or not (still not sure about that!), my life has always reeled in front of me like a made-for-TV, sometimes blockbuster movie, and, I suppose, that under the heartbreak, the soil, the sadness, sorrow, and the pure adventure of it, anybody could discover a lot of gossip to skewer. Needless to say, I have fallen victim to the backlash of blabbermouths.100707lostinheaven

On the other hand, I have found that my life stuff has given me an overload of empathy for others. I am willing to tear down my walls, expose my soul, and share my authentic self for the pure motive of helping someone else. I mean, a few folks have done this for me, and because of their generosity of truth, I pass it on. So I feel an obligation with this blog to pass it on, despite what readers think or say.

As I mentioned before, my friend and co-worker Aileen O’Sullivan helped spearhead WTF, Where’s the Faith.

“Do it for me,” she had said at one point, which ended my more than two-year mental debate of whether I should make this blog a reality or not.

So, at least for now, as much as I hate blogging and confessing (especially from a public platform), I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. When I start creeping myself out (thinking too much about the critics around me and inside my mind), I promise I’ll just blog about my feelings and have a little faith in the process. After all, my mission for this blog is to help and inspire you to move through this critical time in your life. As I said previously, “If I can give a wee bit of hope to just one person, my mission is complete.”

What it boils down to is, no matter what I put out there, if I do it with humility, an open heart and soul, and have a little faith then why over think it—or think at all—it is a no-brainer, and my life, whether perceived as good or bad, no doubt supplies an abundance of fodder for a blogger’s think tank.

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Change is the order of the day

“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.”

Malachi 3:6

Change is inevitable. Throw crisis in and you got upheaval. Upheaval adds the blow to change’s slap. Dictionary.com goes so far as to define upheaval as a strong or violent change or disturbance. I look at it this way: crisis takes the choppy waters of change and transforms them into a tsunami.

article-1088342-028B2F8F000005DC-93_634x464And what is the natural response to a tsunami—fleeing!

Fleeing, of course, is a healthy response to a life-threatening condition, such as a tsunami, but is it an appropriate reaction to a crisis in life?

When it comes to living through crisis, I find very few cut and dry solutions. Sometimes a knee-jerk reaction to a catastrophe is escape. In terms of emotional detachment, even denial, this could be very necessary and healthy. When my world first began to unravel, more like disintegrate, denial was the first step in the ladder to reach the platform of acceptance. In a tsunami, individuals are advised to flee and find safe shelter.

Is that not what the human condition aches for? Safe shelter, whether physical, mental or emotional?  Thirteen years ago, when my dad was dying, I broke from the hospital’s ICU unit and fled out of town to a spa for a weekend. When I came back home, I was able to approach the crisis with a renewed spirit and accept the passing of my father.

This go-around, I could not physically leave. My children needed me. Whether a crisis or tsunami, are not children a mama bear’s priority? So, in the denial stage, I broke off from reality and landed in a Twilight Zone of thinking that separated me from the pain of betrayal and loss. This is what I term the sitting-in-front-of-the-TV-watching-reruns-of-Green-Acres-and-eating-Twizzlers stage.

Denial was a lifesaver and softened the blow; after a couple of weeks, the only way for me to move on and forward was to accept that nearly everything that I had found familiar, constant and stable had vanished. So why was it so hard to stop wanting to turn the clock back?

Let me again refer to Russell Bishop, an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, California, and his excellent blog that Huffington posted.

“When your life circumstances change, as they inevitably will, you get a choice — your self-talk and physical eyes will want to cling to what was, which can lead to a form of decay, while your Soul-Talk and Soul-Centered eyes will tend to embrace the change and look for ways to move into another period of growth.”

I like what Mr. Bishop says about how clinging to the past can lead to its own form of decay. Irony is, we creatures of habit are threatened by change. We view it as decay…but, in essence, by not accepting what is, we invite double decay into our worlds—the change itself and our resistance to the actual change.

I’ve always told my writing workshop students, “What you resist persists,” and this is the gist of what my point. Once we “embrace” the change, which means accepting it, we can move into another realm of growth. Perhaps, not better; perhaps, not worst; but certainly different.

Our first mistake is when we think stability is synonymous with safety. Safety, of course, is good. Safety, on the other hand, can be plain stupid. There is safety and then there is the dead mode. It can place blinders on us that make us see only the black and white world in front of us and never allow us to see the entire panoramic scene. Today, after letting go, I have redefined my entire life. I have a new confidence. A sense of freedom that I never knew existed.  In my fifth decade of life, I feel the most carefree and the youngest I’ve ever felt. A couple of friends are still hanging in with me; a lot more have fell off the radar. I have new friends. Most of all, I have unwavering hope.

For me, it is going from the “why?” to the “why not?” stage—from total unacceptance to total surrender.

Mr. Bishop talks about how stability is a myth; how everything is ever changing. To me this means that even my redefined world will change yet again at some future point.

He says, “…if you are busy trying to hold on to what was, you are playing a losing game. In my own experience over the past six months, an entire universe of blessings has opened to me, hidden within the guise of rapidly changing or even deteriorating circumstances.”

“Change is the order of the day.”

That is what Mr. Bishop says and that is my new mantra that I say without resistance and with total bliss and a sense of carefree wonder.

The process of acceptance and letting go is a leap of faith. It’s not for the meek. It’s not for the frightened it’s not for the woman or man who wakes up every morning looking behind their shoulder, worried about when the next shoe will drop. It’s for the man or women who awakens, sees his or her scaredy-cat reflection in the mirror for what it is, flexes his or her perceived muscles and whispers, “I’m vulnerable. I’m afraid,” only to roar, “Bring it on!”

1229122034um6SztFaith without courage is dead. Courageous people, who meet great adversity in the ring eye-to-eye, are strong in their faith.  They embrace the challenges with strong arms that muscle everything because they have their own personal trainer, their own personal God; an anchor that extends beyond the flesh to the soul.

Until next time, faith forward!

Physical, soulful…or lower selves?

Wisdom gives strength to the wise man more than ten rulers who are in a city.

Ecclesiastes 7:19sunshine_through_clouds

“Finding the pony in the crap.”

This was the idea behind a spot-on Huffington Post blog that Russell Bishop, an educational psychologist, author, executive coach and management consultant based in Santa Barbara, California, wrote. In the piece, Mr. Bishop talks about the concept of seeing the dilemmas in our lives through soul-centered eyes versus physical eyes and listening to your soul-talk versus self-talk.

“If you find yourself in a room full of horse poop, your self-talk and physical eyes will correctly identify a pretty crappy experience. However, your soul-talk and soul-centered eyes will start looking for the pony. If all you focus on is the poop, you are unlikely to ever discover the pony.”

He goes on to say, “Obviously, you need your physical eyes when you are navigating your way down whatever path you are traveling. Obstacles do exist, and you will undoubtedly stumble into unforeseen horse poop along the way. Your physical eyes will be of great value in both avoiding some issues and identifying others; however, it is through your soul-centered eyes that you will have the opportunity to discover the most useful pathway forward as well as the hidden blessings along the way. You might want to start with asking yourself, “‘Where’s the pony in all this crap?'”

cloud_silver_liningMr. Bishop’s theme is not only to look for the silver lining in life’s obstacles (using your soul-centered eyes), but also incorporate problem-solving skills (using your physical eyes) to the particular dilemma. Taking it a step further, he says, that we should be open to the problem-solving process. In other words, incorporate some risk-taking and expand our pin-holed attitudes, desires and mindsets. For instance, if you lose a job, perhaps another similar job may not be the answer. Instead, using soul-talk and soul-eyes, starting a new business may be the next page that befits your particular book of life. Of course, getting out of in-the-box thinking and living takes a leap of faith, as he too talks about.

In 2010, for instance, it took a leap of faith for me to end my marriage of 19 years. It took even a bigger leap of faith for me to start “dating.” The last time I had dated was in 1989! That’s scary! It was even scarier with my physical eyes to navigate the modern-day dating scene, which included online endeavors. Plus, I had every naysayer in the world, too, telling me how awful the digital age dating scene was—from serial killers to perverts to monsters that make what we thought of as creeps in my day look like mild-mannered citizens.

In reality, jumping into the single’s scene, some pretty unimpressive things did hit my physical eyes, but my soul-eyes and soul-talk kept prodding me to move forward and ahead, and that is what I did. Through the journey, I have learned that there are great guys out there (one in particular!).

My dating experience has really shown me how sad it was for me to spend 21 years with someone who—well, let’s say—we didn’t mesh. Today, I am in a happy relationship; I don’t walk on eggshells anymore. I laugh without abandon and act silly without someone shaming me.

If someone (male or female) tried to shame me today, I would dump them, plain and simple! I have value today. Through oodles of therapy and a community of tight-knit friends, I am working on not being invisible anymore. Irony is, that during my marriage, I gained fifty pounds. The weight gain, for me, I figured out was a way to hide myself…which is so crazy, you just couldn’t miss me with all that padding; which, sadly, was heavy baggage underneath.

Taking Mr. Bishop’s ideas a step further, beyond the soul and the physical form of thinking, is the lower form of thinking.  As I have taken off the weight, taken care of myself and metamorphosed in every way, it’s amazing how many people find me a threat and want to dim out my light! In a nutshell, those people who allow their dark side to motivate them. This is the fearful, self-center part of ourselves (we, at least I believe, all have a lower and higher self) that screams at us, telling us that another one’s success throws us into doom. That another one’s success will bring us our own personal failure. The seed of our lower self is the sin of jealously, pure and simple.

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A former employer, much older than I am, for instance, felt very threatened by my spirited self.  In the end, she lashed out at me. Among the many dehumanizing things she said, one sticks in my mind the most, “You’re young at heart.”

Then there was the so-called friend who had experienced relationship issues for the core of her life.  Early on during my dating career, I had started chatting with a man by only a few years younger, and my former friend tried to squelch the excitement—that she was starved of, saying, “Oh, why don’t you find someone your own age!”

When people allow the dark side to roar, they utilize shaming tactics. They tear people down to raise their lowly selves up. These sharp-tooth bloodsuckers tell us we are too old. Too young. Too over qualified or too stupid. They will “too” us to death—if we allow them.

As we become in tune with our physical, soul thinking, we must become sensitive to those who are not at the same level and feel threatened enough to attempt to plow into us with their lower selves. You see, there is a price for everything, successes, however small or large, included.

We have to be aware that even though taking a leap of faith may be good for us, it isn’t always good for others—at least in the way their physical eyes see it. Couple this with their soul eyes dead and their lower selves taking the reins and we have a formula for disaster—ours—not theirs.  Again, in their darkened minds, our darkness is like gasoline that fuels their tanks.

Sometimes taking this leap of faith, I have felt guilty at reaping the benefits. What helps me most, is to be very conscientious at not allowing others to put the shade down on my light and to illuminate the roadway for my other fellow travelers who also deserve a sunny patch to bask in during the short, limited journey we are all on.

Until next time, faith forward!

Trampoline of life

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.

Proverbs 18:24

Last week’s blog post brought a bevy of supportive responses from other bloggers, friends and my lovely niece who immediately shot me a text probing the current state of affairs at our household.

So, this week, I really want to say, “Thank you spotters!”

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You see, life to me is a trampoline; up and down, sometimes more up, sometimes really, really down. When things get topsy-turvy, I know I have support. I always visualize my “spotters” as those who stand around my trampoline of life, ready to catch me when I fall.

This metaphor has been a very comforting visual to me through these turbulent years. Along the way, I’ve lost a few spotters, gained others, but most times had someone who would catch me.

Human nature what it is, more times than not, I focus on the grief, struggle and hardship from my out-of-control trampoline and not on my selfless spotters. Likewise, I need to set my attention not on falling, but on being caught.

The most difficult challenge has been letting go of spotters. I have spent hours figuring out why they vanish. Bottom line is, who is meant to spot at that moment, is the one meant to be there. That’s faith in a nutshell.

My spotters are “God behind skin.”  They are my faithful supporters, my guides; they let me know that faith is not always blind, but sometimes is delivered in three-dimensional form. And, here’s another face of faith. During those times when I felt like I was close to taking a final plunge off the trampoline of life, I did not do it.  You see, spotting is a two-way job. I have to be available to exchange roles. Spotting is good for me since it peels me away from my tiny pin-holed view of a trampoline and affords me a more sweeping look at the bigger picture, which makes life feel so much more manageable.

Now in a trailblazing life such as mine, the falls have never and will never be unavoidable. Instead, it is the way in which I fall. When I am confident that at least one pair of strong arms will catch me, I take the leap of faith. I let go. Give up the reins. Lean in and go with the flow. I have traveled both ways—holding on and letting go—and one thing I am certain of: Grace cannot pour forth when hands with an iron grip suffocate it. On the trampoline of life, no matter how high the ups go and low the downs go, a little trust, and I have something to fall into.

Until next time….Faith forward!