Posts Tagged With: challenges

 
 

A List to Remind Me That the Sun Shines

Aspens. My favorites.

Aspens. My favorites.

MSH reminds me when I start ranting about something and threaten to write about it on my blog, that I always intended for this project to lean toward the positive and optimistic.

Then I remind him that I’m also “keeping it real” which might not always come across as roses and sunshine.

Keeping It Real

How real do I feel comfortable with here on the blog? How real am I comfy with in person? All last month I’ve debated this with myself. And I didn’t write much during that debate. Lost my groove, I guess.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

A path of shadow and sunlight.

I felt braver a couple of years ago. Bolder. Speaking my mind came easier. Opening up about my life happened naturally and with less reserve.

This past year, in many ways, I’ve caved in on myself. I’ve tucked in the frayed edges. I keep the strained or raveled seams covered. I’ve inched toward a more hermit-like life. I used to do that during the month of January every year. I saw it as a naturally occurring regrouping and recovery from the two or three-month holiday season.

My January recovery session during the past year stretched into eleven other months. Maybe longer.

An online friend of mine wrote a (somewhat annoying) glowing top ten account of his past year for the following reason:

“Things can get difficult, and you never know when I might need to remind myself that these things happened, and how and what I felt like when they did.” ~ Brad McBride

Good reason to write up a top ten, you gotta admit. Even if it annoys semi-irritable people like me.

I’ve just survived a year (2014) where I needed to remind myself of happier times to get myself through the day or the week.

I’ve also just been through a year (2014, yes, same year) with some amazingly wondrous good things happening. I mean A-MAZ-ING! Happiness like nothing I’ve ever known.

Talk about a paradox.

I’ve felt lost and found, abandoned and loved, forlorn and supported, ready to give up and anticipating greatness, numb and electrified. At times hope eluded me and then there it shone like a stunning sunrise nearly blinding me.

So what would be my top ten good things for 2014?

  1. My oldest daughter’s new baby girl
  2. The volunteer work I get to do
  3. Hanging out with my favorite teenager while driving her to and from tutoring
  4. Spending time with a certain three-year old
  5. Snuggling from a fun-loving one year old
  6. Almost the entire family together for a weekend in November
  7. A Christmas concert extraordinaire
  8. Summer sunrise walks
  9. My family reunion – time with Mom and Dad
  10. Sitting in a high mountain meadow for hours with MSH

See, my life’s filled with wonder and joy. I just forget sometimes. The difficulties can cast such deep long shadows that block out the sunlight in such a way it almost feels like night. I just need to step out of the shade and let the sun warm me from time to time.

Am I Right? Or am I Write?

This blog has been a source of light for me as well. It’s like a conversation I have with myself to sort through things and make sense of the world. So I add a number eleven to my list.

11. This writing thing.

So I’ll keep things real. The good, the ugly, the stunning, the what-the-heck. Life as I see it written down right here just for me.

If you want to follow along, you’re welcome to join me. Just don’t make too much noise. It is morning, after all.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Hope, Mental Health, Sanity, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

Throwing Down the Gauntlet of “I’m Not”

Razor-Jr.-Folding-Kiddie-Kick--pTRU1-5250467dt

I can’t find that picture I took of her riding around when she first got this contraption. So this will have to do.

My favorite three-year old brought her scooter over during her last visit. So of course, we headed outside for a nice walk through the neighborhood. I pushed her sister in the stroller while she zoomed ahead on her scooter. Every once in a while she’d stop, sit down on the scooter and wait for me to catch up to her. As I got closer she’d pop up, put her speedy foot to the ground and rocket away on the sidewalk. Luckily she’d been taught to stop at corners so I don’t have to yell or run ahead.

If I had on skates or was on my own scooter, I’d still have a tough time keeping up with her. I think she’d go a couple of miles before she felt even a little tired. Oh, to have such energy!

When we decide to head down the grassy hill to the playground, she attempts to ride the scooter through the grass, but meets too much resistance in the thick green lawn. So she steps off and drags the scooter behind her.

photo.PNG-2 copy 3

We’re talking thick over-watered winter grass of Phoenix.

Yup! She drags it sideways, with the center of the wheels catching on the long grass and the body of the scooter adding more drag. If I didn’t need to manage the one-year old and the stroller I’d show her how simply pushing it in an upright position, rolling along on the tires requires less effort and more efficiency. I suggested it, with verbal directions. Her reply? “I’m not.”

That’s how she answers most things she’s not interested in doing, eating, working at, giving in on or sharing. “I’m not.”

Just two words and she’s said all she’ll say on the matter.

There’s no reasoning, bribing, cajoling, begging, threatening or consequence that changes her mind once she’s decided “I’m not.” (Her parents have better luck with this, but I’m not the parent. I’m the pushover.)

So when we leave the park with me awkwardly pushing a fully loaded stroller up the grassy hill, she once again, drags the scooter sideways until we reach the sidewalk. I offered to carry the scooter on the stroller and she replied in her two-word manner. “I’m not.”

Independent little thing! Ya gotta admire that!

I wonder sometimes if I’m like her with lifes… stuff. 

I buzz along at a nice clip, enjoying the ride and then I encounter resistance. (I think I deal with the long thick grass or rocky terrain much more often than the smooth sidewalk, but that’s probably a skewed and incorrect viewpoint.)

I could patiently step off and simply push in a slightly different way, with my wheels still rolling forward. But, more than likely, I throw my “scooter” on its side and drag it along, making things harder than necessary.

photo-25 copy 20

Feeling drenched by my bad attitude.

Maybe I’m a bit dramatic about a situation and blow it out of proportion. Or maybe I assume the worst possible outcome. Perhaps I fail to deploy my optimism umbrella and instead get drenched by pessimism.

When life gets hard and stays that way for too long, what do I do? I throw down my own well-worn gauntlet of “I’m not.”

More than likely I’ve forgotten to notice the happy stuff going on around me and I only notice the one or two big negatives. I even get argumentative with people I like, or complain out loud about “how hard my life is.” What a downer. Then I feel worse because I’ve hurt people, relationships and myself.

Funny how a three-year old can teach a lesson without even trying.

I think I need two photographs of Miss Smarty-pants and her scooter; one of her zipping along and one of her dragging the thing behind her. I could use the reminder that I have a choice in how I ride and how I manage the roughs.

It’s time to set my scooter upright and push it through the grass.

I’m sure that before I know it I’ll feel the wind whipping through my hair as I push-off once again on one of life’s smoother paths.

 

 

 

Categories: Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Putting on a Game Face, Going Through the Motions

Have you ever had a preconceived notion blasted out of existence?

I find myself guilty  of making assumptions about people and situations way too often.

And then, the reality I was so certain of gets blown out of the water. Usually, it’s me being small and covetous. Being judgmental is just me wishing the crud in my life wasn’t. It’s me thinking life isn’t fair.

Most of us put on our game face, our fake smile,  and do our best to look perky, energetic and do what needs doing regardless of how crappy we might feel or how heavy the world weighs on us that day.

A few people will see through our façade. But we manage to fool most of them and think our life is great.

You gotta figure everyone else does what you and I do. Everyone else has on a game face for the world to see. At home, the reality could be filled with tears, anger, and worry, much sadder and more desperate than we could even imagine.

That perfect little family down the street might be struggling with someone dying of cancer. The co-worker who seems to have it all together may be losing everything he’s ever worked for. The adorable Barbie-figured woman who jogs past your house every morning may be on her last gasp before running away from it all. The quiet, unassuming kid behind the counter who’s always polite to everyone, might have plans later that end it all.

Ah. You never know. Until it’s too late. Even then, you  may not know.

Poker

Poker (Photo credit: maorix)

The cards we get dealt in life are ours to play however we choose. We can let everyone see what hand we have.
We can hold ’em close to our chest and not divulge a thing. We can have a poker face that discloses nothing.We can bluff our way through and have everyone fooled. Only we know what we’re playing with.

Why I’m using a card metaphor, I’m not sure. I think it’s a big cliché’. And, I’m a lousy poker player. And, I only play for chips, for fun, for the laughter. Hopefully, I play out my life better than I play cards, or write.

I’m reminded today that I can’t guess at what anyone else has in their hands, in their hearts, behind their door. I can only wish them the best, help when I can and be kind to strangers.

What’s that quote? It’s attributed to a few different people. But whoever said it, said it well and was wise.

Be kind. For everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

I, for one, am going to try to be a little less judgmental, a little kinder, a bit more gentle. I want to give others credit for thinking through their circumstances and doing the best they can with what they have.

Maybe you’re the one fighting the hard battle. If so, you can be kind to yourself. Give yourself some slack, do a little something that feeds your heart and mind and soul.

If you’re one of those fighting a hard battle today, know that you are not the only one doing so. I don’t know if that helps or hurts. I do know that I wish you strength, energy, hope, happiness, coping ability, love, recognition of small joys, and the perseverance to keep moving forward.

Crop: I try. I fail. I don't give up

(Photo credit: juliejordanscott)

Don’t give up.

It will get better.

You are not alone.

Categories: Mental Health, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Mud, Potholes, Spinouts, Blowouts, and Other Fun Times

I hit a pothole once that literally tore a hole in the side of my tire. I didn’t think that was possible. That mangled tire made me much more cautious of those seemingly innocuous bumps in the road.

I’ve also been stuck up to the rims on a muddy road in a little Vega. Luckily my husband was up for a hike and found someone with a truck and a rope to pull us out.

And I’ve been in a van with the entire family on a snowy freeway and suddenly found ourselves spinning like a carnival ride. Not sure how the vehicle stayed upright. Half an hour later one of the tires suddenly went flat, so we’d obviously done some damage during the spin.

Why do I tell you this?

Life is a highway, a road, a path, a journey.

I’ve often felt that I’ve had my unfair share of uphills, spinouts, flats, mechanical failures, blowouts, impassable roads, uphill stretches and potholes.

Road blocked by landslide

Road blocked by landslide (Photo credit: wiesmann)

We could all feel that way, rich or poor, blessed or not, third world or first world, ill or well, single or married. Life isn’t easy.

It is easy, however, to tell ourselves that it isn’t fair. It’s easy to look at the road behind us and curse and complain. It’s easy to look at the path ahead and decide to sit down and cry instead of moving forward.

Yup. Too easy to take the pessimistic, sad, sorry for myself stance. I give in some days. I wallow in self-pity sometimes. I allow myself some poor me tears.

Little SRisonS Enters The Old Zone

(Photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS))

But then, I, hopefully, wash my face off, get dressed, and do what needs doing.

With a smile.

That’s the hardest part of all some days. Especially if there are metaphorical storm clouds looming, or a deluge of life’s crud to wade through.

I am not really a fan of Nietzsche’s idea “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” attitude.  I’m more on the side of the “I can’t tell if it’s making me stronger or killing me” team.

*insert rimshot here*

Meaning, I look at things not through rose-colored glasses, idealized and perky, but through the lens of humor or sarcasm. Laughter has gotten me through more rough patches than anything I know. I’m more likely to have a joke memorized and at the ready, than a quote about getting through life’s adversities. Depending on your temperament, one may work better than the other.

If I share a quote on this topic it’s probably because I see something humorous hidden in between the words. Or it resonated somehow with me. These few did.

“I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ” ~Agatha Christie

The words wildly, despairingly and acutely seem melodramatic to me. Reminds me of a toddler’s response to the word “no.” I can see myself throwing a tantrum when life isn’t going my way and that makes me laugh. Not to mention, life really is a grand thing. Keeping my eyes open to the grandness makes a huge impact.

Bob Hope

Bob Hope (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” ~Japanese Proverb

This is the stuff of slapstick comedy. Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Robin Williams. We are constantly falling down, failing, messing up, missing a beat, off kilter and out of sync. Well, I know I am. I do a sort of mental double take and then dust myself off and keep going. At least usually.

Here’s hoping your path today is a smooth one and your road plowed and pothole free. If it isn’t, I hope you’re able to smile, or laugh, or at the very least, have a good cry and then keep moving forward.

Categories: Gratitude, Humor, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

That Way, This Way, My Way, Some Way

English: camino de santiago

camino de santiago (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s more than a movie recommendation for you; “The Way” starring Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen.

I hadn’t heard of this movie until I stumbled on it last week.  Apparently it never got the usual blingy press and advertising.  That’s probably for the best.  Created with care, reverence, and respect, its clarity and thoughtful, natural pacing create a feel for what it must be to experience such a thing. Not a single part of it felt gratuitous or forced. It’s not a movie for the masses.

Here’s a summary quote about it from Netflix:

“When his son dies while hiking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage in the Pyrenees, a grieving father decides to complete the 500-mile trek to Spain.”

The Camino de Santiago is basically “the pilgrimage route to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the  apostle Saint James are buried. “

Fascinated by this depiction of a modern-day pilgrimage, I let myself absorb the beauty of this film.  The scenery was pretty,  the trail looked user-friendly, the characters real. The story line was poignant and sincere. Something about this movie clicked in me and got me thinking.

So what is a pilgrimage and why do people do it? Dictionary.com defines it as

 “any long journey, especially one undertaken as a quest or to pay homage”

Certainly a pilgrimage isn’t something every person needs or wants.  But then, I wondered if life itself isn’t its own kind of pilgrimage for some, for many.

Hiker

(Photo credit: VagabondTravels)

I know some who are on a long journey as a single parent, others who are traveling a difficult path through the daily trial of depression. Still others know their long road is shorter than they’d like and will end early at death’s shore.  Providing long-term care for an ill family member must count as a journey worthy of honor or blessing.

I wonder if joining the military isn’t a kind of pilgrimage, certainly it’s self-sacrificing, serves a higher purpose and surely leads to deep introspection.

Service of a religious or charitable nature can take on the qualities of pilgrimage.

I’ve also wondered, since watching this movie, about my life.  Do I need a pilgrimage? Have I been through any kind of refiner’s fire? Sometimes I think the answer is yes, to both questions.

Then the question becomes; do I want to take on a pilgrimage by choice instead of by default?

There is an ocean and a continent or two between myself and any beginning point on that trail across Spain.  I would need a very substantial reason to walk such a path, to invest that much time and that many resources into such a quest.  I’m not catholic, so a traditional religious reason doesn’t exist for taking this on. I’m sure, at this point in my life, I haven’t got the reason, the time or the resources, or the physical ability to take on something as big as the Camino de Santiago.

Grand Canyon, from South Rim near Visitor Center

Grand Canyon, from South Rim near Visitor Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I set a goal some years back to hike the Grand Canyon. It seemed a reasonable quest, with a realistic time to prepare, to plan, to follow through.  The goal date came and went long ago and I had done nothing to move myself toward it.  Did I not really want to do it?  Was it worthy of my time and attention?  Or did life simply have other paths for me to take?

I feel compelled to find a reason, a justification perhaps, to take on such a quest as the Camino de Santiago. And yet, I find excuses at the ready, and know it’s something that will never happen for me.  To think otherwise is to be a dreamer of the silliest sort.

Maybe all I need to do is treat my life more like the pilgrimage that it is. What’s my quest?  What am I hoping to pay homage to? Where am I going? What am I hoping to achieve on this journey I’m on.  What are the milestones and how will I honor them? All good questions I ought to know the answers to.

Have you been on a pilgrimage? Any experience with something like this? Any desire to do such a thing?

Categories: Outdoors, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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