Friday, August 26, 2011

Ten Crazy Days

My goal was to write a blog post a week and sadly I’m woefully behind. I’ve sat down many times since my last post and composed pages, but it doesn’t flow. I’ve culled through my notes looking for something I can use and nothing feels right. It just hasn’t worked.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now. Everything is shifting. I'm at a point where I just don't know what to do next. I have really struggled, and I have felt alone.

In the past ten days I’ve had a string of interactions that have literally changed who I am. It’s been a series of the exact right person showing up at the exact right time and saying the exact right thing.

It all started with R, who lovingly shared his struggles over the past two years with me and willingly listened to mine. He told me that the biggest lesson he’s learned through all the trials he has been put through is that he has to surrender. To him surrendering means getting out of the way and letting what needs to happen happen. I’ve been learning to let go, but R showed me that surrendering is my next step.

Immediately after talking to R, I ran into my dear friend S. She’s on this amazing journey and I’m so happy for all that she’s been able to accomplish and so excited to see how things will progress for her. It was a series of unfortunate events that put her firmly on the path she’s on and she couldn’t be happier or more successful. She’s inspired me with her honesty and openness and tenacity in the face of adversity. I was so glad to talk to her.

I had lunch with E. We’ve known each other for sixteen years. As we talked, I realized how lucky I am to have her in my life. It is a friendship that easily could have not happened, but has grown in spite of the fact that throughout a majority of it we have not even lived in the same state. She’s intelligent and loving and always has an insight that I hadn’t considered. This lunch was no different and I came away thinking about things from a different perspective.

I went to Nashville to spend the weekend with D, one of my very best friends. We talked and ate and just relaxed together. We had so many amazing conversations that I can’t even begin to document them. Being able to bask in the friendship and love of someone as honest and insightful as she is was a blessing and exactly what I needed.

My friend P is the gift that just keeps on giving. She’s been a source of inspiration to me as she seeks a more authentic life and openly shares her successes and failures. While I don’t aspire to all that she does, I’m inspired by her willingness to forge into uncharted territory over and over again. She shares a lot of herself and has opened me up to new ways of approaching my life. A recent conversation with her introduced me to a person I needed to meet.

Which leads to B, who took one look at me, said you are not doing what you are suppose to be doing, and emphatically encouraged me to be true to myself. I can’t overstate the impact of this conversation. As I sledge through my days, doing all the mundane things that I do, it is easy for me to forget I was once a girl who dreamed. To have someone acknowledge that I am more than the maid/cook/chauffeur and to encourage me to step out was powerful.

J reminded me that he is available and will help me. He’s an old friend and knowing he’s there gives me a level of comfort that I can’t even begin to describe. To be able to rely on him in the future means a lot to me.

K dropped by just to tell me she loves me and is proud of me. She said we are a lot a like and since I just adore her, that is one of the best compliments she could give me.

Unprompted, N, who is blissfully happy and enjoys success in her career, shared her life story as we stood in the street under the hot afternoon sun. She described her former self as hard, scared, and unhappy. She relayed to me the series of life changing events that led her to do work that is fulfilling and meaningful.

Then there is C, who has been the face of grace and kindness and reason. I’ve been beyond impressed by his example and am humbled by his promise of continued friendship.

There were emails. D, who I bump into a few times a year, emailed me out of the blue and just told me about some of the traits that he saw in me that he admires. Who does this? Who just sends someone an email, unprompted and tells you that you are awesome. I was humbled. The next day, C sent me a lovely email about my daughter who he had recently run into and shared how impressed he was with the way she conducted herself. While he gave kudos to me, I have to say she's amazing in spite of me. I appreciated him taking the time.

J sent a text. He and I don’t talk much but I admire him. He’s a loving and supportive influence in my family. We all adore him. He just made a simple acknowledgement and it was appreciated.

S gave me a gift and invited me to share in a family celebration. Neither gesture was expensive or grand but to be thought of and included means a lot to me right now. Over the years, our common interests keep pulling us together. I hope she sticks around.

Yesterday, I spoke to C. When I started hanging out with C, I had no voice but I had an opportunity to be around him just about every week and I listened. He rambles. He shares. It’s not really planned. It’s just whatever he happens to be focused on at the time. I can’t even begin to count the number of ah-ha moments he’s inspired in me.

I won’t be seeing C for awhile but I wanted him to know the impact his musings have had on me. He told me that he just tries to be honest even when it’s unflattering and that he believes he should share what he’s learned with those with whom he comes into contact. He said you never know how your words will impact others, but it’s important to be open and say what is on your heart. He told me that I have to do the same and then he hugged me and in that one hug I felt the love and strength and comfort of everyone who has blessed my life these past ten crazy days.

I’m not sure what will happen next but I am changed. I’m changed by the knowledge that there are people out there who are willing to reach out with love in friendship and support. To each of you, my eternal gratitude and my undying love.

Thank you.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My Heart's Desire

The kids go back to school tomorrow and it’s feeling kind of bittersweet. We did a lot, but SO much is left undone. In May, I made lists and looked for fun things to occupy our time and now in August with the last hours of summer break slipping away, I realize that we didn’t even scratch the surface. The best part of this summer was the unstructured time and just hanging with the kids. We lazed, a lot. I think we all needed it. Sometimes not having to be on a schedule is a gift.

There will be no more sleeping in until 7:00. I’ll be up at 5:30. No more morning drop-offs and pick-ups for cross country practice or taking kids to meet friends at all times. I’ll own the hours from 6:30 until 2:30.

While I’ll miss seeing them during the day, I’m a bit excited by the idea of 8 uninterrupted hours. I’m a morning person and having a block like this when I’m most productive is a bit of a gift. I don’t want to squander it. I’m making plans.

I have a basic idea of how I’ll structure my time. I just need to make a decision on what I'll focus my energy. I’ve spent most of my life looking for the things that will make me feel satisfied and despite all the effort satiation hasn’t occurred. I’ve been a bit like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz looking outside of myself for a place where there isn’t any trouble.

“Someday I'll wish upon a star
And wake up where the clouds are far behind me
Where troubles melt like lemon drops
A way above the chimney tops
That's where you'll find me”

I know...wishful thinking, but that’s been the dream and I’ve spent many years trying to find the right combination of “things” to push all the troubles away. If I give my family my undivided attention, find the right job, have the right career, weigh the correct amount, run a certain time, cook the most nutritious meal, wear the right shoes, buy the softest duvet, be the best daughter, then and only then will I feel that sense of balance and satisfaction that I crave.

Looking outside myself hasn’t worked.

At the end of the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy who has helped her friends realize their dreams is left stranded in Oz by the Wizard who had promised to take her home. In desperation, Dorothy asks Glinda for help.

Like Dorothy there’s no person or thing that can help me find “my hearts desire.” I have to find it for myself. Maybe I should use some of those 8 uninterrupted hours to hang out in “my own backyard” and get to know my own heart a bit better. It couldn’t hurt. I have the power. I just need to make the commitment and take the time.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Holding On Too Long

“We are all looking for well-being and happiness in life. So the purpose of friendship is to support and be supported in our search for well-being and happiness.” - Elizabeth Mattis-Namgyel

I’m good at getting rid of the things I no longer need. I’ve made a recent push to to de-clutter my physical space even more and have hauled out bags and boxes in the effort. But as I’ve freed up my home (oh, it feels good), I became acutely aware that my bigger issue is letting go of people.

So, when do you let go? At what point do you accept that a person just is what he or she is and being around them is not good for you? Not questions I’m good at answering. I could take the noble stance and say that it is my great love and dedication and hope for better that keeps me in the mix long after most people would leave. But if I am being honest, I have to say it’s my need to be liked, included, valued, and respected that causes me to hold on to people a bit too long.

The best case scenario would be to not get involved with people who don't "support...[my] search for well-being and happiness” in the first place. Easier said than done. I’m pretty straight-forward about who I am and how I feel. Even when I’ve voiced my stance up front, I have been blind sided by dynamics that I couldn’t have seen coming and stayed in relationships that I would never wish on anyone else.

It would be nice to come up with a list of questions (I like lists) to help evaluate people so you could choose the best fits (a positive proposition for all parties). As I pondered what these questions might be, I realized that frequently a person's true nature is hidden until you are already heavily invested. People who initially appeared to be great options turn out to be poor choices while people that failed to impress on the first pass end up being keepers and are among some of my closest, most loved, and trusted friends.

Maya Angelou says, “when people tell you who they are, listen.” For me, I think this is key. If I go through my life with walls up and guarded, I will miss potentially amazing people. What I have to do is watch and listen carefully and when the bad starts to out weigh the good, when the negative overshadows the positive, when situations are draining, be strong enough to let go and move on.