Mind Confusion: Good for you?

dance_school-1280x1024 (2)Body confusion sounds bad but is good. As my yoga coach explained, when your exercise routine becomes routine, your muscles get bored and slack off. You can schedule the same exercise routine every week, but after awhile it becomes old hat, and your body does not benefit from the workout. In other words, you have to challenge—shuffle things around; in essence, confuse the body to keep it at its best. Challenges and new moves keep you in healthy grooves!

In this same vein, if the body slacks off, wouldn’t the mind do this also? Not to minimize the impact of a life crisis, but one thing it does do is shake you up and orbit you to unfamiliar places that may feel foreign and scary at the beginning, but later as the journey unfolds, recharges the imagination and ignites the creative problem-solving juices.

For instance, before our family’s personal crisis in 2010, I could have continued to hide under some fifty extra pounds of weight and allow myself to fade into the buttermilk color walls of my house, vaporizing behind my then husband’s emotional tailspins.

Instead, nearly four years later, “mind confusion” has kicked me into over drive. Tons of new challenges undertaken…daunting jobs, grubby courtrooms, and a longtime friend who threw me under the bus just when I was about to get my bearings! With the challenges, new joys have also unfolded…dating again since 1989, the last time I had a date; neighborhood kids who come to the door with shovels during a blizzard and a late-life love who surprises me with a kiss that transplanted me back to feel sixteen again when my high school’s gym class cheered me on as I did a tap dance atop the trampoline.

Thanks to the element of surprise, total mind confusion, I not only shed the pounds, okay, some of them, but I have also had a love affair—with my femininity, my individuality, my sometimes tragic, miserable, highly interesting, amazing life, and I learned that courage doesn’t come to me naturally, but that I have to have faith and work at it…not face danger and freak out and bolt, but face danger, freak out and stare it down—a little bit longer at each new perilous zone.

In the end, I still have “the bad” confusion in my life and I struggle as a single mom. It remains an everyday challenge to be stable and balanced, especially when the mortgage due date draws closer, every month, and my mind becomes a 24-hour melee in which I must battle it out with beasts that can and will flex their muscles to frightening proportions. Then there are those days when my body joints tell me I have been squeezed out of so much youth.

Through it all, I have learned to get my shine on and dance through life as if my experience on this earth has been a skip through a meadow of wildflowers and not a plunge into an abominable pit of hot coals, employing grace and dignity at all times when tears mar the vision, but faith carries me forward through the downpour.

Thank you angels

In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.  Job 12:10

Okay it’s been over a month. We are in the middle of Thanksgiving weekend. I can talk about it now. Our beloved French poodle Crouton who has been my anchor through these crisis-filled years, my number one (ok, number three after my kids) cheerleader, my coach, my shadow, my angel passed away peacefully at home on October 17, 2013.

DoggieCropped

Instead of dwelling on Crouton’s passing, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I have been thinking about a few of the people, angels, who soared into my life and lifted me up at the times I was at my most pancake position. For instance, about a week before his death, I had informed the staff at Waggies, Crouton’s grooming salon at the time, that my doggie had a cancerous tumor. I almost did not call the salon because of his bloody wound, but I wanted my dog to look his astute best during the critical period.

The salon’s owner Ellen told me to come right down with Crouton. The minute we walked throug the door, Ellen and Lisa, my doggie’s groomer, showered us with empathy and consolation. Despite his open bloody tumor, without hesitation, Lisa washed him and clipped him gently and speedily. Two hours later, his spruced up look was just the boost I needed. Like a rite of passage, on his way through the doorway of death, the groomer kissed him on the middle, then the tip of the nose. In a very odd way, the time we spent together was like celebrating sadness.

The week after, feeling glum about Crouton’s deteriorating condition, exiting the supermarket in the middle of a torrential downpour, a man about my age made the mad dash to get his groceries into his car. Following behind, I started to pile my bags into the way back of my SUV when the man’s kindly face came into full view. He positioned the remainder of my groceries into my car, and even took my shopping carriage back to the front of the store. I knew God had sent his messenger to let me know he had not abandoned me.

Meanwhile, through Crouton’s death process, my friends, including Pat, Camille and Michelle, partook in the journey; probably helped prevent a few major falls as I did trip. A couple of weeks after his death, my dear friend Michelle arrived at my door with a homemade meal. It has been one of those days when the house felt particularly empty and big. MsBread

“It’s so quiet without Crouty,” my son had said when he came home from work.MsChickenSoup

The emptiness in our living space was instantly filled with the aroma of the chicken soup and bread that Michelle had walked in with that night. Her entrance and exit was brisk, but her appearance had not only given us the faith we needed at the moment, but had a lifelong effect on us, like so many others that I had encountered through the trying time. In the emptiness of our hearts and our home, God filled the barrenness with His love, manifested through the human touch.

1195425090647322028PeterM_Angel_wings_5_svg_med

Stay tuned!…until next time…faith forward!

Expressing sympathy to a pet lover

10542289-abstraction-a-stain-of-a-paint-ornament

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

Matthew 5:4

I had some disconcerting news about my beloved apricot poodle Crouton a couple of weeks ago. Fast forward to last week, and I found out there is some hope in his stage 3 cancer diagnosis. The operation will tell all. I am not looking forward to the recovery period for my 12-year-old angel either…but one step at a time. At the moment, I am mulling over how I will obtain $1,200—if I go that route—with everything else going on.

Anyway, the first onset (24-48 hours) of news, I had a lot of reactions from people…in my mind, I started penning a letter with well-meaning friends in mind. And here is an open letter to anyone who cares….10217244-stack-old-book-and-candle-education

Dear Friend:

When you find out that your friend/acquaintance/neighbor or whoever is facing the passing of a pet, please do not compare the pet to a child or human being. This is a shocking comparison and one that should be avoided at all costs. It is tasteless to pit a child against a dog or other animal. I know your motives are pure and you are trying to ease the pain, but pain is pain. We are entitled to our own personal pain. Each type of pain is worthy to run its own course the way the griever sees fit. Please make room in your world for my pain. By telling me not to feel the pain, you are deleting something that is natural and normal. Please don’t strip me down because you can’t handle pain; by doing this you will multiply the pain…what you resist persists.

Even if you are not an animal lover, please do not, under any circumstances say, “It is just an animal.” My little “baby” is just that to me. Please don’t try and suffocate my love for something because you cannot empathize. I do not need empathy or even understanding, I just need “to be.” Please, in other words, let me grieve without having to stuff it, or minimize it or tweak it or fake it or…fill in the bank it. I am a mature gal. I have grieved my dad’s passing; my brother’s passing; my son’s best friend’s passing. I have grieved nine friends/people I’ve known who’ve committed suicide. I have grieved my friend Jane’s passing at 17 years old. I do not need a grieving coach. I just need someone who says something like “I hear you.” “You are entitled to your pain.”

Do not ask me if I need anything. I am a big girl. I know how to ask for help. But you can come for a friendly visit with some comfort food we can share. Maybe a phone call to set up a coffee date would be nice. A date where we can just sit and “be” and “be with” and “live” while we are alive, since living, I think, is plum important…living and grieving and feeling…feeling…feeling. I do not want to act like I do not feel. I am at my best when I feel my feelings. I’ve spent thousands of dollars sitting with therapists/coaches identifying my feelings and learning they are okay to have. If you are uncomfortable with that, please don’t come around, that is the best thing you can do for someone who is upset and grieving. In fact, it is far more than “just” grieving about a pet. It is about letting go. That’s a tough hurdle. We live working so hard to accumulate, but even if we never ever have a death to moan or possessions to forfeit, we will at some point have to let go of our last breaths. So, for Pete’s sakes, don’t rattle my journey. I keep the day-tripping adventure real because it is fueled by faith.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sincerely,

Stacy

 9805669-picture-of-a-heart-broken-into-little-pieces--love-concept

Until next time…faith forward!

10-tips to help you cope with crisis

k9153121

Whether you have lost a loved one, a job or you find yourself trying to live through some other sudden unplanned event that has caused major turmoil in your life, here is a tip sheet highlighting 10 points that I hope will help you.

  1. On those days when you think you won’t make it through the day, tell yourself that all you have to do is make it—only for that very second that you have at that moment. Being mindful of the environment around you is helpful when getting through the tough days. For instance, when you are sweeping the floor, tell yourself: “I am now sweeping the floor. I am now grabbing the dustpan. The dustpan is silver.”
  2. Cut yourself slack. Buy yourself flowers or that new lawnmower you have been obsessing for months about. Sleep in…but….
  3. Force yourself to get out of bed and face the day ahead even though sometimes it can feel so unbearable. Don’t overdo unhealthy behavior like hiding in bed or over indulging on sweets and carbs. These kind of things may feel so good momentarily, but are no good in the long run. For example, eating ice cream is permissible, but after you devour the first gallon full, keep the lid on the next gallon and find something healthier to replace your impulse. For instance, get outdoors for a walk. If the weather is too hot or too cold or too rainy, the neighborhood mall is always an option for some strolling, jogging or people-watching, but leave the plastic at home; overspending can be another quick elixir that can nip you in the bud in the long run.
  4. It may be difficult to swallow, but even though you clearly did not create the hapless circumstances, and were not in charge of the circumstances, you ARE in charge of YOU. Referring back to #3, put the ice cream down. Try and keep the temper tantrums at bay. Steer away from the negative thoughts, the stinkin’ thinking.
  5. Surround yourself with positive people. In the darkest of times when you have had a power surge, borrow their light and get a good dose of recommended Vitamin D.
  6. Chart your own course of healing. Whether partaking in therapy, support groups, aromatherapy, attending church services or talking a walk in nature, only you know what will help heal YOUR wounds the best.
  7. Chart your own timeline. Likewise, even though there are documented “stages” of healing, you YOURSELF are the true navigator of your route to recovery—whether it takes days, months or years, don’t compromise your healing timetable for anyone. That would be like squeezing into someone else’s pair of pants. Find your natural and organic North.
  8. You alone are the writer of ACT II in your life, which, after you have experienced a crisis, will obviously be different from ACT I. If you can, try and not label your circumstances as negative occurrences, just as “different” situations. With this in mind, plot your ACT II with an overdose of creativity NOT macabre! Start the brainstorming and come up with a great future plan, whether signing up for classes, embarking on an exotic travel adventure or a simple reunion with an old-time friend for coffee.
  9. Realize no matter how scary it all feels, you are NOT alone! Most people have been through earth-shattering events—no matter how “sane” they may look! Don’t compare your outsides to someone’s insides.
  10. Have faith. Refer back to #5. Bask in someone else’s faith long enough until you risk living and loving again!

Until next time…faith forward!

A break for freedom

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.  Galatians 5:1freedom

In the fall of 1984, I had hit bottom for the final of the final of the final time (but really final!) and unchained myself from all addiction, including, one year later, a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit. I don’t want this post to be about my alcohol/drug past, which reared its ugly head in adolescence.  I want it to be about freedom. Oddly, without a bit of pre-planning, this topic came to me on Independence Day, but to me, every day is Independence Day. The one thing that no one can ever take away from me is how hard I worked—and spent every last dime—to earn my freedom. It took me ten years—my debt paid in 1994—finally to finish paying my rehab center in New Hampshire. I also feel proudest of the fact that no one ever paid a dime towards my years, and I mean, years of therapy. Sad people view therapy as a taboo. (I have discovered that the more someone equates therapy with a dirty word, he or she is the one who needs it the most!) Anyway, much like a recommended yearly physical on the body, I think people should have a regularly scheduled look-see on the mind too. At this point in mid-life, I can say, no one, absolutely no one, knows themselves better than I do. I owe this not only to hours of therapy, but also support groups, retreats, seminars and everything, including the kitchen sink stuff that I have done to peel every stinkin’ layer (ouch!) off me and uncover myself. ME.

As a young child, the real ME never emerged. Like many, I was polluted by adults who tried to carve me in their own image. Their paddles of shame bludgeoned my God-given spirit and left me flat. Thus, I had an instant love affair with anything outside myself that lifted me up and allowed me to be my authentic self–or so I thought. Of course, these outside things ended up, ironically, enslaving me until I broke free.

Freedom comes not from fancy cars and good-smelling perfumes, it comes from being who you are and having at least one good friend who will accept you on the days you look like you rolled around a dumpster!thCAHCR5FDfreedom2

Three years ago I experienced crisis in my life.  I held onto my house with bloody fingernails. I attempted to hold onto my marriage. I held onto everything that I thought defined me, but the truth is, I was holding onto a world that enslaved me. Crisis stripped me of so much again, but, paradoxically, gave me back myself. I am far greater than a house. Far greater than the car I drive or the job I do. Sure, a lot of “friends” who opted out of a stressful situation, dropped me cold, but I have a total of two friends today that have been my glue; a wonderful boyfriend who accepts me as I am. I have been gifted by co-workers who sometimes prove to be my lifeline. I have my children who know me perhaps too well and whose presence has allowed me never to have a bucket list to meet, because the unconditional act of mothering, to me, supersedes everything else in life.

Bondage, whether to money, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, people, places or memories scares me and robs my faith. Lately, with a birthday looming over my head, I’ve had a hard time fighting the bondage of aging too. I’m afraid that my body will fail me.

God willing, if my body does not fail me, I may end up pushing around a shopping cart with my belongings on the streets one day when I am seventy, but I’ll tell you one thing, I’ll be free of mental anguish, which you can have regardless of what you do or where you live. It all started so many years ago in New Hampshire, walking down a very long hospital corridor towards the exit door, fearful of the life I knew I had to go back to and revisit so many demons outside those walls. Of course the official motto in New Hampshire is “Live free or die” and to me that means peeling off the chains, inching forward, breathing, first shallow, then with practice down to your diaphragm in a place where every last tad of you, down to the wart hidden in the nape of your neck, has found a peaceful home.thCAFTUKWWfeedom3

Until next time….Faith forward!

Believe, just believe

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. –Romans 12:2 

HumilitySince my divorce proceedings in 2010, I have been trying to save my house. Down to the wire, my former husband will not cooperate in the process. PERIOD. Finger pointing, to me, is part of politics; a total waste of productive time.

On my end, to work with a bank is like having a second job—one in which you do a lot of overtime! Then the process stalks you all day…deep into your nighttime dreams—or shall I say nightmares.

Wait a minutes. WTF…where’s the faith here? Okay, Lord, thank you for this opportunity. I get to pack up a household and leave the premises, not having the foggiest notion where I am going. Yet another good-bye that I am totally powerless over….Oh, that’s right, this is a temporary setback. So why does it feel like I am about to walk off the face of the moon?…the ride down is one-way, not picturesque and definite.

Oops, there I go again. Not Believing that God is watching out for me. I need to praise Him and thank Him for the memories….

Losing houses, marriages and the like, it’s not just about bare-bone statistics. Statistics are meaningless next to a heartbeat of a person. A house is as good as its people; it evokes the times that made you feel secure, alive and thriving—so removed from just surviving. It’s about baking “Welcome Home” cookies on the first day of nearly every year of grammar school. Remembering the times you stayed up until 2 a.m. preparing for the best Easter egg hunt on the block. Visualizing your six-year-old daughter dancing around the kitchen like a hula dancer in her Brownie uniform. Recalling your seven-year-old son frantically turning his closet upside down trying to find his neckerchief slide so he could properly complete his Cub Scout uniform–for the tenth billionth time! Memories that take you back to painting the bedroom with your now former spouse and your best friend and going beyond the tiredness, knowing the chosen color was perfect and would last for years…years…a stretch of time that felt so comfortably forever. It’s about sitting on the couch in the playroom long after the kids had gone to bed and sitting with your former spouse, crying, saying, “I’m sorry. I love you.”

I suppose beyond wanting stability for the kids, the pets, beyond it all, my house holds a piece of our innocence. Our youth. A hope of tomorrow. A joy knowing that love once existed here—and still does in another, wonderful, but very different way.

Late last night, in my melancholy of telling myself yet again that nothing stays the same (unless we are insane believing so!), I came upon a very healing post…one that tells me He is watching over me…when I have a hard time watching for Him. I thank a very gifted fellow blogger and photographer for writing this post. Let me take the liberty to share a little of it.

thCA9SZ0MM

“I’ve been learning that life is fleeting.  We often realize that as a result of tragedy…allow your sorrow to spur you, not to bitterness, but push through it to the lesson, which will make you stronger. I lived my life as a unbeliever for 33 years and during those years, try as I might, I could never figure out how to do that.  But with the Holy Spirit living inside of us, we can forgive, be healed of the loss, grasp the lesson, and move on. Everyone has pain…it is the privilege of the Believer to reap a great harvest from it. Life is fleeting, don’t miss it!”

90327119_bd17bf7c49As painful as it all has been these last few years, I’ve taken a front seat and haven’t missed out. When people say, “live life fully,” do they really mean to pick and choose? Would that even be possible? To me, I have to remember, life is an experience. Good. Bad. All the gray. To live life fully is to embrace it all. I recall the words, “Nothing absolutely nothing happens in God’s perfect world by mistake.”

At this point I can really say, what a roller coaster…and what a glorious, thrilling ride it has been…and is. I am so grateful that I have had a seat reserved especially for me! I can’t wait to witness what’s around the next bend. I do Believe…divinity will greet me.

Until next time….Faith forward!

Fast-forward “reel” life

Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. I am born of God and I overcome the world. This is the victory that overcomes the world, even my faith. —1 John 5:4

thCAN5LS78computer  Last weekend, there was a glitch in my computer, and I was unable to get the desktop program up on the screen. Typically, I am an obsessive nut when it comes to troubleshooting computers, but by 1 a.m. on Sunday morning, I called it quits on trying to figure out what was wrong with the computer. I shut the office door to the mega pile of computer-related work that layered my desk.

I woke up Sunday and asked myself, “Where’s the faith?”happy-computer-clip-art

Immediately, a peace came over me. I knew it would be okay. As much as I wanted to skip church and, instead, seek a computer expert, I fast-forwarded my reel of life, and I visualized the computer functioning later that day when I needed it to get caught up on paperwork! Then I thought in tactical terms. How much fear did I have? (For me, any struggle—large or small—in my life, boils down to the fear factor.)

I calculated the situation as follows on a one to ten scale. The hard drive on my computer could have crashed; on a one to ten scale, ten being the most fear, this came out a TEN! I doubted, however, that this was the case, because I did see some of my software in place. This lowered the fear factor to a six. Then I thought of possible computer people/companies that could help me solve the problem and get my computer up pronto. That comforting thought wheedled the fear factor down by one. I summed up my fear factor at about a five. Tactically, I had to get a five or higher of faith to buffer and/or override the fear factor. I closed my eyes and visualized again the computer functioning and asked God to guide and direct me.

In church, I noticed a man who was an IT specialist. He had to be the answer. After church, the IT expert basically brushed me off! My fear factor went back up a notch. I countered it with turning the Faith-O-Meter up a notch…”God help me.”

Later, driving home on my road, I saw my neighbor and after chatting with him awhile and sharing my computer woes, he said, “Well, you are in luck. This is my son’s last day here before he moves out of town later today!”

He was referring to his son, another IT specialist, a recent college grad, who had found out-of-town employment in his field. Well, fast-forward to a couple of hours later, and my earlier affirmation had come true to life. My computer was up and running.

Two days later, back to crisis mode. After a rough three-year road, we may lose our house after all. In a nutshell, my –ex won’t sign some papers. That’s it. Fear factor? About a “3” today. Sure, when I initially received the news, the fear factor was about to bullet off the scale, but then, miraculously, I kept thinking about this blog post, which I had been in the process of writing. “Come on WTF? Where’s the Faith-O-Meter?” That’s all I could think of. I’ve had a couple of fantastic friends by my side (you know who you are!) Thank you! Thank you!

Hurt people hurt. That’s all I have to say. I am the victor not the victim.

So, here’s my Fast-forward “reel life.”

Under the watchful, caring eye of the Great One, I am lounging somewhere on one of the Hawaiian Islands with my soul mate…mango juice in hand. My kids are playing sand volleyball with a ball that looks strangely familiar to a pineapple. The rest of the family and friends are doing the hula. “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” followed by White Sandy Beach and then What a Wonderful World by my all-time favorite artist IZ (Israel Kamakawiwo’ole) wafts through the scene. No slice of life can get better than in affirmation time.

Until next time….Faith forward!

stuff--backgroundtropicalislane

My name is Stacy, and I am an Analysis Paralysis Junkie

“Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.

“I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, ‘Go, throw yourself into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him.

Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”Mark 11.22-24

486700646_5a6c7cb706I have another confession. I am an Analysis Paralysis junkie.

It is not so much a defense mechanism I use in order to procrastinate on things as it is to throw myself into a whirling dervish.

Go-to source Wikipedia provides a comprehensive description of the state.

A couple of weeks ago the state threw me into the throes of this zany mindset.

My thoughts fell loosely into the Personal Analysis category in which Wikipedia defines, “Casual analysis paralysis can occur during the process of trying to make personal decisions if the decision-maker overanalyzes the circumstance with which they are faced. When this happens, the sheer volume of analysis overwhelms the decision-maker, weighing him or her down so much they feel overwhelmed with the task and is thus unable to come to a rational conclusion.”

The only difference was that there was no decision to be made. I began over-analyzing a current state of affairs. Before you know it, I was in the “What if my job phases out?” “What if I lose the people I really care about?” stage.

Granted, a part of this obsessive, unhealthy thinking may stem from the fact that I am still teetering from some major setbacks.  Another part is because I am afraid. Afraid to lose what I have worked so hard to get/hold onto. Afraid that I’ll never shift out of crisis mode. You know, that old adage about “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

To make matters dire, someone reminded me that my thoughts manifest into my behavior that creates the reality around me. Although there is a lot of pop psych about this brand of positive thinking, it can be traced back to the bible as quoted above,” Whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”

So, back to a couple of weeks ago: I’m a whirling dervish, over analyzing, feeding on my Analysis Paralysis addiction and making myself and anyone with a listening ear CRAZED. The outcome amounted to nothing—nothing earth shattering happened. I still have a roof over my head. Food. Friends. A pretty nice Jersey Strong to lean on.

The thing I did lose, however, by allowing Analysis Paralysis to overtake my week was my physical and mental well-being. I was tired, drained; thus, I could not accomplish some of my routine chores, and I was by no means present to the ones I love in the manner I like to be. The result was that I had to cancel some pleasure time in order to play weekend catch-up.

The problem with Analysis Paralysis for me is that it kicks me to the abyss of a swampland. There I spend idyll time stuck, going under, sinking while the rest of the world moves on.

To have faith is to trust in the process of the good. Unlike a swamp-like, sinking environment, it is a positive forward movement, which nourishes our needs.

Hebrews 11:1 says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

This is a positive affirmation if I ever heard one. We don’t say things like “have a little faith” and mean that the barrel of a gun awaits!”

Of course when I pick up my Analysis Paralysis addiction, I pick up my imaginary gun; it may not be real, but it is still a hazard.

The best defense for me is a three-P approach:

Prayer…

Positive People

Actually…four, Patience.

I am currently in remission. Things are looking up. I hope.  I’m thinking…oops, that’s one of my downfalls.

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.

138528scenery

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!