Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
My entire life I’ve had a hard time living in the moment. Instead of actually enjoying what was right in front of me, I was always thinking ahead, worrying about what would happen next. Or, sometimes, even simultaneously, I was thinking about something in the past. But never, or rarely, was I in the moment. I think two times I can recall TRULY being right there in the moment with beauty smacking me in the face was when I had my two children. Those are the two most beautiful moments of my life and the kind of thing that demand you be right there in that. Even though my first was an emergency C-section, being right there, having that baby placed in my arms, everything else just fell away. I was THERE in awe, holding this precious life I’d just brought into the world. While that is an extreme example of being in the moment, I wish I could live everything in my life that way. I’m certainly trying to make an effort to do that.
There are many reasons so many of us have a hard time living in the moment. For me, I think it stems back to my childhood and that dark cloud I had living over my head, the one I’ve mentioned before. I always knew my mom was sick and I worried silently, A LOT. I developed anxiety at a very young age. I was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop. That’s nobody’s fault. It was just the way I, being a very feeling creature, interpreted the situation, and I often stored that fear up in my heart instead of expressing it. Now, as an adult, I am trying to break that habit. The one of constantly worrying about the future or thinking about the past, which I cannot change, instead of concentrating on the beautiful possibilities right in front of me. Right. Here. Today. It’s surely not an easy thought process to break. I continue to work on it every single day and some days I do better than others.
One thing I’m trying to use is mindfulness, which I know is a term that has become a bit cliché and is tossed around a lot. Being mindful of my thoughts has helped me immensely already. When I start to worry or want to change something in the past, I start to recite the serenity prayer and remember that some things are beyond my control and I need to let them go. Constant worry about a mistake you made or someone you’ve lost do nothing for you. Thinking about people that have maybe hurt you or wronged you is giving energy to the wrong things. Take the lesson, learn from it, express gratitude for that person and their gift, and move on. Let it make you stronger. I know that’s so much easier said than done and it takes a lot of practice. I get it because that’s what I’m doing now. Practicing. That’s about as far as I’ve gotten with mindfulness so far. I can tell you it’s making me look hard at the present. The right here, right now. It has already helped me immensely on focusing on what I can control. What I can control is me and my perception of the things that are going on in my life. When those thoughts come into my head, I do my best to catch them and change it up. Like I said, I’m still learning, but do see the incredible value in switching up your thought process.
Some use mindfulness in every area of their lives. I tried to use it the other day while washing the dishes, instead of being pissed at the fact that my dishwasher is still broken. Be in the moment, feel the warm water running over your hands, take in the fresh scent of the soap, see the beauty in the bubbles it makes. Okay, so that didn’t work very well. I wasn’t able to entirely switch that one up and, when I was done, while I felt accomplished at getting the dishes done, I was still irritated that my dishwasher has yet to be replaced. Like I said, I’m still practicing. I’ll get there. Just maybe not with the dishwashing.
I don’t do “hurry”. I’m a slow and easy does it girl who definitely does not like to be rushed. So much so that when my kids were little, we had a “jammie day” once a week where the kids and I would stay in our jammies all day and just lounge. I’d like to say this was to teach them something about learning to be still, but I think it may have been selfish on my part because I needed to be still. Or, as still as you can be with two little boys. I always presented it like it was such a treat (because it was a treat for me), clapping and saying, “Yay! Today is jammie day!!!”
Lately, I’ve found myself in a hurry and exhausted at the same time. I’ve been working eleven to twelve hour days at work and still trying to get my workouts in in the morning. I normally get up at 4:30 and to the gym by 5:00 so I can get my exercise in before 6:00 and be at work by 7:00 am. I wake up, run to the coffee machine, slam down two cups of coffee like I’m in a beer chugging contest, quickly get dressed and run out the front door in a damn hurry. And, no, I’m not bragging about how productive I am. I’m not one of those. I’m saying this “hurrying” thing has become a bit of a detriment to me. I’m clumsier, losing my keys and my phone all of the time, and losing my short term memory and my mind. I don’t want to be in hurry anymore.
Yesterday, I went to the gym and noticed people were looking at me in a weird way. Not in a good morning, we’re at the gym at 5 AM kind of way. I shrugged it off and went up to run on the treadmill. I started on one treadmill, but it wasn’t working very well, so I switched to the one next to me. While running I realized that I’d left my phone on the other treadmill and instead of getting off the treadmill I was running on like a smart, sane person would do to get their phone, I tried to reach over to grab mine. I simply was in a hurry and felt rushed. Well, I almost busted and skidded right off the back of my treadmill, thankfully landing on my feet. It was loud and more people stared. When I was done with my workout, I walked back down the stairs while trying to put my phone in my pocket and, to my horror, I realized I’d put my pants on inside out. This wasn’t a good thing because these pants had a built in bright white underwear panel that was very obvious on my navy leggings. I prayed a hole would open up and swallow me. This had been because I was in a hurry again. I got in my car and decided to laugh at the whole ordeal.
It seems everything in my life is done with some sort of urgency in regards to time lately. I was talking with my wellness coach last night who has kindly taken me on as a beta tester for her program. She is helping me learn how to help myself in healing some traumas in my life that I have not really ever dealt with, as well as learning to balance myself with the right foods and coping mechanisms and it has already been a magnificent journey. She suggested some things for me to try to keep me more grounded while in this busy time because I just don’t do “busy” very well. This morning I’m shaving fifteen minutes off my exercise to sit quietly and visualize how my day is going to go, do some breathing exercises and focus on gratitude. Then I’m going to go outside barefoot and stand in the grass and look at the moon. This is in an effort to become more connected with the Earth which is like a huge battery of life, she says. It’s actually called earthing and I can’t wait to do it. I’ve always loved nature and felt more grounded being in it so this makes perfect sense to me. It actually sounds very comforting and peaceful to me and I could use some peace instead of feeling like I’m being chased by a tiger, or better yet, chasing my own tail day after day. I’ll let you know how it’s all going from time to time and what’s working for me because it is such a huge part of the journey and may help someone else along the way. My leggings have been put on correctly and I already visualize a whole day of not losing my keys so we’re off to a good start.
A few years ago, I was seeing a therapist named Samantha, trying to sort out my feelings around my marriage and myself for wanting to wreck my family. It was a decision that was many, many years in the making and I just hadn’t been able to bring myself to do it. Instead, I’d stayed, profoundly unhappy, and continuing to beat myself to a pulp for wanting and needing to leave. I’d been working with Samantha for quite a while and one day she showed me something that really opened my eyes. Every time I’d said I was sorry to her for basically who I was, she’d made a check mark. She’d been doing this for awhile and hadn’t told me. During this particular appointment, I’d said I was sorry to her, literally apologized to her because at the time I didn’t like the beach. She’d had enough and finally said to me as she held up her notepad, “Diane, do you see these tick marks?” I slowly nodded yes as I could see she was exasperated, in a healthy, therapist kind of way. She said, “I’ve taken down these tick marks every single time you have apologized for being YOU.” It was an entire page full of little marks. I looked at it like you might look at a big red F on your term paper. Wow. My entire life, because of circumstances that I believed were out of my control, I’d been shoving myself into a box, wrapping a nice big bow around it, putting it in the back corner of some dark closet where no one would ever find me, and saving myself for some other time. Instead, I’d been playing someone else entirely, telling myself Diane wasn’t good enough, pushing myself away. I’d been lying to myself about who I was, what I wanted and needed for so long, telling myself my wants and needs weren’t valid and I wasn’t good enough just as I was, as God created me to be.
Samantha announced that a theme song was needed stat. This was an emergency situation. I settled on “Girl on Fire” by Alicia Keyes. “She’s got both feet on the ground and she’s burning it down. This girl is on fire. She’s walking on fire.” Years later I’m revisiting that song or perhaps I should say visiting it for the first time. While I’m definitely not on fire yet, I feel like I’m on my way to being on fire, being the best version of ME and not some foreign imposter that I don’t care to know. I’m beginning to embrace myself as I truly am, my flawed heart and soul. I’m learning about what I like and don’t like and I’m not apologizing for it anymore. I’m setting boundaries in my life where they need to be set and I’m absolutely NOT apologizing for them or for taking care of myself. It is not easy, but so necessary. I’m learning to get both feet on the ground. And I’m not sure about the burning it down part. That will come later.
Also, it turns out I love the beach now that I’m out of the company I had been keeping for so long. Actually, I absolutely adore the beach again, just like I had as a child. It hadn’t been the beach at all, it had been the circumstances and the company.
When I was a little girl, I used to read comic books and on the back of the comic there was always an ad for something called Sea Monkeys. It showed these cute little alien monkey looking creatures hanging out and doing human things together and I was totally fascinated. I wanted them so badly that I would relentlessly beg my parents to order them for me. I pictured these little “monkeys” doing all sorts of things together while I watch. Literally, I daydreamed about them playing hide and seek, playing tennis, water skiing, playing all sorts of games and doing anything we humans can do. After all, that was what the ad suggested by the pictures. They were tiny little monkey families, mommy, daddy, baby, all wearing smiles and hanging out, arms around each other, grinning from ear to ear and looking at each other with complete love and contentment. That’s what the picture showed anyway. So, being a little girl with a huge imagination, I took this and created my own little Sea Monkey fairytale.
My parents finally relented and ordered them for me on some special occasion and I was beyond thrilled. I would have my own little sea monkey family and we were going to have so much fun. I was going to teach them all kinds of things, play games with them, and I was so excited to get them I could barely stand it. Like I said, I had a very big imagination. The day came when my perfect little family arrived and I was so excited with anticipation. I couldn’t wait to open the package and wondered if they could even breathe in there. My mom opened the package for me and what I ended up receiving were tiny microscopic shrimp. I was heartbroken. Devastated. Little shrimp? Really? They didn’t have arms and legs and smiles. There had to be some kind of mistake. Of course, there wasn’t. I’d been had. I remember being so sad and mad at the injustice of it all that after I cried with big disappointment, I got mad and wrote the company a letter. I don’t remember what I said, as I was a little girl, but something along the righteous lines of how could you do this? How can you lie to innocent children? I wrote it on behalf children everywhere who’d had their hearts broken over the Sea Monkey fallacy. I doubt my parents ever sent the letter for me, but I felt better giving them a piece of my young, but very determined and pissed off little mind.
Life is like that. You think you’re going to get one thing and then you wake up one day and realize you got something completely different. Often, it’s not a bad thing, just different than what you may have dreamed up for yourself, the story you told yourself. For me, I often wake up and wonder how I got where I am today. Single and working eleven hour days lately to make ends meet. While I have to believe I’m on the right road for me, oftentimes it doesn’t feel that way and I want to write a letter to someone to complain. I want to say to someone, “Fix it, this is not what I was promised.” But who promised me anything? No one. I had dreamed up my perfect little life, my perfect little family, complete with arms, legs and smiles, playing games together, and it hadn’t turned out that way. Because there is no such thing as a perfect life, a perfect family. Because life is full of disappointments. The only person I could write a letter to was myself to debunk the story I’d dreamed up in my heart and in my head. Nothing is perfect and it isn’t supposed to be. You can spend your life focusing on disappointment if you choose. Or you can choose to focus on the good, not perfect things, and find joy there in the real story, the one that’s happening right now.
I wasn’t planning on writing today but it turns out I’ve got a little time to kill so… Lately I’ve made the mistake of praying for patience. This is a lesson I’ve learned before but conveniently forgot, though I’m not sure how exactly I could have. It’s 4:00 AM and I’ve been awake since 2:30 for no good reason. I’m not up saving the world. I’m up trying to have a cup of coffee and my coffee maker just died. Anyone who knows me knows I cannot survive without my coffee. Literally, it is my oxygen mask. Everyone had better get out of the way until I’ve had that first cup. My feet hit the floor in the morning and I beeline with great enthusiasm for the coffee maker. That first sip is the best and I can’t have it. Patience. Oh yes, I prayed for sleep, too, as I’ve been working eleven hour days at work and I’m utterly exhausted. I’m wondering right now how this whole praying thing is supposed to work. Sleep and patience. Should I pray for the opposite? Is this a reverse psychology sort of thing? I already know the answer to this question and I also know God works in mysterious ways. Very mysterious ways. I think He is trying to show me I can do this with or without sleep or a cup of coffee. I’m not sure I believe Him at this moment.
My patience has been tested lately in a lot of ways. An example would be the house I’m renting right now… I took a day off from work last week because my dishwasher and washing machine are broken. My AC isn’t cooling down during the day. My floors are buckling. And my toilet is running. I called my landlord a week in advance to set the day I would take off so she could make all of the appointments and get this stuff taken care of. I’m not in a position where I can just come and go at work. We decided on Tuesday and I arranged it with my boss. Tuesday came and my landlord had not made one single appointment. Patience. I called her and left her a message expressing my frustration in a very kind way and she never returned my call. Patience. I try to remember how fortunate I am to have a roof over my head. And I am, yet I’m still a bit frustrated. It seems the more I pray for patience the more things seem to break down, both literally and figuratively. I think I will try not praying for patience for a little while and see how that goes. I am trying to play reverse psychology with God.
I know God is trying to tell me, “You got this. You can do this no matter what I throw in your way to test you. Keep your gaze focused on me and I’ll get you through. ” Until I fully surrender to him, I will remain frustrated. I know there is so much peace in surrendering. I wish I were better at it being as stubborn as I am. I can’t seem to accept the fact that my coffee maker is broken and have gotten up four times while writing this fifteen minute stream of consciousness to really be sure the coffee maker is indeed broken. I get the same answer every time. It is. What I am hearing is accept what is. And it’s not about the coffee maker. It’s about life. Accepting life as it is right now. Taking His hand and trusting that He knows what He’s doing and He’s got me. I’ll certainly keep trying, but I could really use a cup of coffee right about now. And again the same word comes to mind. Patience.
Let me just start off by saying I’m not doing a victory dance by any means. Also, this is not some sort of lecture to anyone else. All of my friends drink to some degree. More power to them. I had a friend come over for dinner last night and brought a bottle of wine to drink. No judgement here. Enjoy. For me, however, this non drinking stuff is hard. I have a dear friend who is a wellness coach who has graciously taken me on as a beta tester for her wellness program, including the subject of “gray area drinking” and all that comes along with that. Yesterday, we talked for a long while and she asked me what I missed about drinking and what I didn’t miss. I miss drinking period. The spontaneity, the carefree nature I would take on, the confidence, the social butterfly I’d morph into, flitting around talking to anyone and everyone, being COMFORTABLE (I’m so uncomfortable right now). I miss becoming so much bigger on the outside while shrinking on the inside with alcohol always pushing me down, down, down, and letting someone else step in and take my place. A brighter and shinier version of myself. I miss the people…definitely the people. When you decide and declare that you’re not drinking, a peculiar thing happens. Your social circle narrows and the list of social activities shortens drastically. Hmmm…had I really thought this all the way through? Maybe not, but the list of things I don’t miss, while shorter, is far greater and has made me sure I’m doing the right thing for my life right now. Still, I will tell you this, I absolutely do miss having an occasional glass of wine like I used to. I just can’t right now.
I don’t miss the extreme hangover after four glasses of wine. I don’t miss trying to act normal the following day when I really want to curl up and die. I don’t miss the weight gain after drinking and eating whatever I feel like. And I especially don’t miss the anxiety ridden days after drinking and the way I’d get overly emotional about little things that really shouldn’t matter in the grand scheme of life. That’s by far the biggest thing. Still, it’s been incredibly hard and I’m very uncomfortable. That’s part of the reason I turned back to writing.
Writing was to be my catharsis, but I’ve realized that has also made me uncomfortable in a way. I believe it’s because I’m writing about things that have been buried inside for so long and digging them up has made me feel again. I’m not shoving them down anymore and that’s uncomfortable for me. Still, it’s all so very necessary for me at this time in my life. My friend has advised me to sit in that uncomfortableness and experience it. Feel it, work through it, and then change up my location or activity so I can begin to create new meaning in my life as well as new neural pathways in my brain. An example – this morning I went to the grocery to stock up on good, healing food. I was dreading it because I truly hate going to the grocery. Hate might not be a strong enough word. I was putting it off, feeling very apprehensive about it, and decided to switch it up and buy myself some flowers while I was there. It made me enjoy, well maybe enjoy is too strong a word, but it made me appreciate the experience a little bit and the fact that I was doing something to take care of me.
That’s what this whole program is about. Taking care of myself. I thought I was taking care of myself by protecting myself from all the stuff inside, all the stuff that comes up to get us when our walls are down, when we are truly vulnerable. I thought by drinking, numbing, I was protecting myself. The problem is that all of that “stuff” is still there when we choose to come back up for air. It will not go anywhere until I choose to stop anesthetizing myself and move through it. So, although I’m uncomfortable now, I know it’s all necessary to get comfortable again in a whole new light.
Years after my mom died, I still felt such an emptiness. Our house had been sold years before and I yearned to go back inside. I would drive down our sweet little street and slow down in front of our modest house as if trying to capture some glimpse into the past when we lived there and take it with me. I felt utterly and completely empty. Of course, I couldn’t grab a piece of the past and drive away with it neatly tucked into that empty place in my heart, so I’d drive on by, live in the past, and wait for another day.
One day I just couldn’t take it anymore and I decided I was going to have to go inside to get the peace I needed. I was going to have to go in and touch the walls that held so much of my life, had kept it intact, had kept our family of four a family. I needed to stand in that space and take it all in again, one last time, and then I would miraculously be able to take it all with me and be made whole again. I’d never met the family who bought our house, but I’d heard they were such nice people. So maybe, just maybe, they wouldn’t mind having a crazy person come to their door with her story and how she so badly needed to come inside.
One morning, I got dressed in something nicer than normal and drove over to their house with so much anticipation in my heart. Finally, if they let me come in, I was going to be healed from this loss. I was nervous and excited with anticipation. Instead of driving by with an aching longing, I stopped and pulled into their driveway. I took a few deep breaths and got our of the car, wondering if this was totally nuts. I went to their door, rang the doorbell and stood there trying to appear as together and confident as I could. Eventually, someone came to the door. It’s funny, I can’t remember what they looked like or even if it was a man or a woman. I was just so focused on getting inside. I remember telling the person that I’d lived there most of my life and my mom had passed away there. I explained that I just wanted to come inside for a moment. Graciously, the person said that would be fine, let me come in, and told me to feel free to go wherever I needed to go and see whatever it was I needed to see.
After I stepped inside my heart sank. It was completely different. It felt sterile. The kelly green countertops in the kitchen had been replaced with something neutral. The green ivy wallpaper had been stripped away and replaced with neutral paint colors. The built in table where we ate in the kitchen almost every single meal was gone. This was the table where my brother and I would sit for hours, whine about cleaning our plates and dramatically gag on things like brussels sprouts and tomato aspic, basically tomato jello, while our parents grit their teeth. We were not there around the table arguing about finishing our dinner. The table was gone and so were we.
Even though the person had told me I could go wherever I needed to, I still asked if I could go back to my parent’s’ bedroom for just a minute. Very, very kindly they again said yes. I tentatively walked down the hall, past my old bedroom where my mom used to tuck me in at night, where Scott Baio and Shaun Cassidy lived on my wall, and the door was shut. I walked past the bathroom my brother and I used to share and fight over daily, especially when I was taking my three hour bubble baths. Then I reached the place I’d come for. My parent’s bedroom and the place my mother had left for the next world. I took a deep breath and stepped inside. Again, everything was different. Their bed wasn’t there and my mom wasn’t in it. I stood there for a few minutes, silently summoning her and waiting patiently to feel her presence, but she wasn’t coming and I felt nothing. What had I expected? Deep down I think I’d expected to come back HOME, to my home, to my childhood, where we were all there having a family dinner or my mom was still there in her bed and I could hug her and say goodbye one more time. It sounds crazy, but I think that’s what my subconscious had been aching for and searching for. I stood in that room for what seemed like an eternity, waiting. Nothing.
Realizing I’d been there too long, I quickly walked back to the front of the house, thanked the person for letting me in, and left. Oddly, I drove away with a sense of peace I hadn’t felt before, even though I didn’t find what I thought I was looking for in that house. Certainly there was a sadness for me, too, but for me it ended up being a way to let go of the past, get closure. It was exactly what I went there not to see and precisely what I needed to see. We weren’t there anymore and neither was she. It was time to really say goodbye. Life had moved forward and it was time for me to as well.
As I was going through some of my writing a few days ago, I found a draft of an old letter that I wrote. It’s actually to a dear friend’s daughter that I share a very special bond with who was having a very difficult time. As I read through my notes, I realized I may just as well have written it to myself. Both my younger self and myself today.
Dear Sweet Girl,
Sometimes it takes the darkest of nights to see the stars in the sky and grab hold of ours, of that light shining within that makes us who we were meant to be. The beautiful mess is there to teach us that perfection is not real, a beautiful heart is real, compassion is real, love is real, imperfection is real. Embrace the beautiful, imperfect mess that is YOU and makes up your breathtaking heart. That is real and God-given. That very mess is what leads us to who we are meant to be.
Amazing child, let yourself out. Let all those shiny things that make you YOU be seen and heard and felt. You are a child of God. Don’t bury that away deep down as some sort of flaw. It is the most wondrous thing about you and makes you who you are. The world needs you and your gems to sparkle and shine. Those around you need all of you, not a quieted version of what you think you’re supposed to be. Pass your light on like a candle of flickering hope to others so that they may light their own flame. Being imperfect, having holes of uncertainty, is how we find our light, how we learn to shine brightly and how we can show others to do the same.
When I was your age, I thought I would burst and that led me straight back to my writing, to relieve what was inside and I learned that sharing it, instead of keeping it to myself, made me happy and proud. It ended up being the thing that allowed me to share my light. Now as a forty something year old woman, there are plenty of things I wished for a long time I could be better at as I compared myself to other people, but those things didn’t bring me joy. I wasted so much time trying to be something I was never meant to be, while ignoring all of the imperfectness that I was, and I had no one telling me what I’m telling you right now. Life is short. Don’t waste it shoving yourself down into the dark when the light is here waiting for you.
Don’t fight who you are. Let it out! It will be your special something. It will be you in your truest form. People will come to see you for who you are and they will appreciate and love you for bringing your bright gifts out to share. You are a GIFT. Don’t push that down and be ashamed! Let it explode and illuminate this world. Doing that is what has given me the permission to write this to you from the truest place – overflowing with love and compassion for you, beautiful girl. So shine, stand out, with all your flaws and imperfections and be proud of how God made you.
And never, ever be afraid to ask for help…not ever. Because if we were perfect, we wouldn’t need others to lean on – sounds pretty lonely to me – and I know you have a whole bunch of people who love you and adore you just as you are right now, including me. They don’t ever want you to feel alone. And neither do I.
I love ALL of YOU to the moon and back.
I woke up this morning and rolled over to look at my phone, praying it was only 5 AM so I could get my exercise in. Nope, it was after 6 and I silently cursed myself for not setting my alarm. Then I felt grateful that I actually slept through the night which I’ve been doing more of lately. So, I don’t get to exercise today. I could either beat myself up or set an alarm for tomorrow. Today, I am enough just as I am, without exercise. We are all enough just as we are. As cliché as the saying may have become, I still love it and say it to myself all of the time. So many of us don’t feel like we are enough. We feel inadequate in our roles in this life as mother, wife, friend, lover, daughter, sibling. Me included. We think, “If I could have done this or that just a little bit better, everything would be alright.” Everything is alright. You are alright. You are enough.
I always struggled with being a good enough stay at home mom. This is something that deserves an entire post but for the sake of today, let’s just say I was flying by the seat of my pants. I was never a very “house wifey” person, hated cooking and hated the grocery even more. Often, if we’d run out of something at home, instead of dragging myself to the dreaded grocery, I’d run through a place called the Farmstore. It’s a teeny, little hole in the wall drive through store that you can drive up to for things like milk, detergent, bread and a whole list of other things I’m aware they carry that most of you probably aren’t. The best idea ever. Let me just say, unashamedly, that we went through the Farmstore often. I’d go so far as to say I did my “mild” grocery shopping there at times. I never realized how much the Farmstore had become an institution in our lives until the day I took my little boys to Build a Bear for a mommy/son date.
One summer day, we headed off to the mall to beat the heat, have lunch and do the whole Build A Bear thing. I was excited as this is exactly the kind of mushy thing I enjoyed doing with my kids. The boys were probably around 5 and 3. We ate lunch and headed off to get our new friends and I just couldn’t wait to watch them do the whole thing. My oldest chose a cute dog and got what I think was a heart to make a wish on and put it inside him. Then we watched as they stuffed him and stitched him up. And then the big moment. You get to give your new friend a name. With excitement and conviction, my oldest chose the name “Buddy” for his dog and off he went. Now it was time for my little guy to get his new friend.
My younger one chose a cute cow. The cow got stuffed with his heart and stuffing. The youngest did not make a wish because he was barely talking at all, so I made a wish for him, blew him a kiss and then he was sewn up with my wish inside. Then came the big moment. The name. I asked my little one what he wanted to name his cow and he looked at me silently. I asked him again, and he uttered some two syllable word so quietly I couldn’t understand him. This went on several times and finally the lady that had been helping us looked at me, also quizzically, and said, “I think he’s saying Farmstore.” I laughed, a little too hysterically, and said that couldn’t be right. I bent down to my little boy and asked him again, “Sweetie, what do you want to name your cow?” I leaned in so I could be sure I caught the correct name this time. He quietly but very clearly said, “Farmstore.” There was no denying it. The Farmstore sign had a giant cow on it. This sign had become a fixture in my son’s mind, a part of his life and he recognized and chose the cow because of it. For a split second I felt like a total loser of a mom. Then I looked at my little boy and said very loudly, “FARMSTORE the cow! I love it!” I looked at the woman who was helping us, and staring at me with a blank expression, laughed, saying, “Isn’t that place the greatest?” with a huge smile plastered on my face. She forced a smile back and said, “Yes it is. ” For a moment I felt a little judged but then I decided I didn’t care. We took Buddy and Farmstore home to join our family.
I still have Farmstore somewhere and I love and laugh at the memory. Yes, my son had chosen a cow and named him Farmstore. And, for a brief moment, I’d let it get to me instead of seeing the joy and humor in it. I’d let it make me feel like I wasn’t enough. Did I have food on the table every night for my children? Of course I did because I was enough to give them what they needed. Back then I may not have felt like it, but I’m still here, they’re still here, and we laugh hard at the memory of Farmstore the Cow.
Are you still here? Even after all of those times in your life when you felt like you weren’t enough? That’s because you were just enough for whatever life was handing you and you were so enough that you made it through. Just like we will today.
Yesterday I went to church. As always, I got lost and had to use my Google maps on my phone, though I’ve been to this church countless times. This is no surprise to me, but it certainly seems astounding to other people. I’ve always had an utterly terrible sense of direction. North, South, East, West, left, right, up, down. Seriously, I’m that bad. The same can be applied to life. I wish I’d had Google maps. Don’t we all? Take a left here and go to school for this. It’s what you’re meant to do and you will have a fulfilling career. Go East six blocks and the love of your life will be standing on the corner. He’s been waiting for you. Take the second right after the light and you’ll find your forever home. It’s where you’re meant to live out your days in complete contentment. Oh, careful! Here is where you need to yield with extreme caution. STOP here because this is a terrible idea. But, then, what would be the point of this life? How would we learn anything? How would we ever grow?
Oh, to go back and do it all over, knowing what I know now, would be like having a map of sorts. How differently I’d do a lot of it. I’d listen to my truth more and validate it for myself. I’d live louder. I wouldn’t hide. I wouldn’t stay stuck somewhere because it was “comfortable”. These are all things I’m doing now, validating myself, listening to my truth, living, not staying stuck. There is something we would all do differently. But there is no going back and doing it over and there is no physical guide map for life that we can hold in our hands and refer to when we get a bit lost. We all have to start right here, right now, where we are in this moment.
I honestly don’t know how I made it anywhere before technology came along. After my mom passed away and we sold the house I grew up in, my Dad moved. I was driving by this time and I had to drive from his new house to my old house (with written directions) and start there to get to wherever it was I was going. Yes, it’s true. My compass was broken. I’d lived in that town since I was two years old and still couldn’t find my way. I had always been a daydreamer and would just stare out the window, paying no attention to where I was going – always in the passenger seat of my own life.
God wants us to figure life out with His help and guidance, not of our own will, but of HIS. He has a map for each of us. Often, it’s a twisting and turning road paved with mistakes and lessons and growth. It’s a bumpy road, sometimes a dirt road, marked with potholes and speedbumps telling us to slow down. And there are no directions. No stop signs, no yield with caution signs, no signs that say DEAD END. That would have been a good one to have. No one is screaming, “Run, don’t walk, in the opposite direction.” My gut and God often told me what to do, but I didn’t listen. I’ve always been stubborn in that sense, learning my lessons the hard way.
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve been lost (hiding), more than I’ve been found, but that’s not true. God has had me by the hand the whole way through whether I’ve chosen to acknowledge Him or not. He is holding every single one of our hands. I feel Him now gently holding mine in His, guiding me down the path chosen for me. I’m looking out the window now and paying close attention to where I’m headed, seeing all the signs He has planted for me along the way. And while I may not be exactly sure where I’m going, I know I’m going with Him by my side.