Category Archives: Setbacks

Packing for War


large-3Once again, the flap on the backpack is ripped open and the packing begins.  The battle has been smoldering; the war just under the surface.  My mind is gearing up with defenses in place and a wall of protection quickly building up around me.  Protective isolation, a fallacy in its own right, offers false sense of security and peace.

My initial instinct is to grab for one of my comfort vices: food, cigarettes, nail-biting, acceptance and love from certain individuals; any of my past vices.  You know, those moments when you can no longer face the moment and you need to bury yourself in someone or something?  When confronted with a challenging obstacle, I seem either to grab the bull by the balls and make things happen, or (more recently) I melt away in fear and self doubt.  When did this happen?  More importantly, how did it happen?i_don__t_know_what_to_do____by_viva011-d4t2b6g

Even if we leave the past in the past…how do I move forward?  How can I grab the situation (or crisis) and tackle it with confidence?  Manipulate the negative into positive flowing energy?  How can I move past a “scary” potential consequence to live for the journey?  Consequences are negatively charged thoughts anyways, because the preparation for a consequence typically means you are planning for something to fail or go wrong.

At the apex, like a sweet cherry on top (yes, facetious roll of the eyes), there awaits admittance of failure and or weakness.  That is always my favorite life lesson to tackle.

I am faced again with a life decision; one that affects me and my son in a relatively big way.  I feel like I am alone, but I know that I am not.  I still want to bury my face in his shoulders, but I know I must put on my big girl panties and face the unknown and unpredictable.

I need to have the courage to stand up to my own mind and thoughts.  I actually successfully did this Saturday to prevent an anxiety meltdown.  I went in to the bathroom and found a song on my ipod.  I didn’t actually know I had the song, but I had heard it before.  Needless to say, the song spoke to my soul and began to help transform my thoughts.  I wrote some of the lyrics on post it notes and stuck them to the mirror (life affirmations).  I felt much better after that.

Listening to that song, I did experience a slight epiphany.

I fell down
…and I tumbled.
But I did not crumble!

“I did not crumble.”  I think back on several times in my life when I did crumble.  I gave up on living because of my fear to just “be.”  But I realize I don’t want to do that right now.  I don’t want to crumble.  I am stronger than that and I think I am at a place in my life where I actually realize that, without needing substantiation from another person.

Still, the doubt creeps back in.  The “what ifs” and fears of the unknown still wield weapons in my mind, demanding action in battle.  I have to find a way to be okay with whatever happens, no matter what happens.  Is that unreasonable?

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Where will I lay my head tonight?


A year in review…I certainly haven’t been blogging this year.  In fact, when I go back and think about all of the “life” I was living this year, it blows my mind.  When I think about all of the events that tried to break me this year, it boggles my mind.  But even more boggling is the fact that 2014, which I have dubbed the worst year of my life, was also the most amazing year!  I have been humbled beyond belief; have learned SO MUCH about myself; have renewed my faith and hope in life.  I have found my inner love again.

I spent a bigger part of the year without a job and homeless.  My son even lived with his father for several months to finish out the school year.  In the meantime, I stayed with a treasure trove of family and friends.  At the hardest single point in my life, God sent me family and friends who opened their doors and hearts to me.  I was able to stay with family members that I had not spent time with in…decades?  I built stronger relationships with them than I could ever have done otherwise.  Friends too…Family is not always blood.  I tend to build my own family…some blood, and some divine.  This year, my family grew exponentially!

As for a job…I was without any form of income for a few months before unemployment kicked in.  I looked and looked for jobs…in a few states, even.  At the time, I just knew God was punishing me.  In hindsight, I realize He was setting the stage for an even bigger lesson.  When my household went from two incomes to one, I learned to do without.  I thought I was big and bad because I was sacrificing my manicures and restaurant meals for my son and I.  For our future.

Pish posh.  I realize how conceited and horrible that was. Because this year…this year I truly learned what sacrifice and going without really means.  I spent a good portion of the year wondering where I would get food for the next day, or where I would lay my head that night, or the next night, or the next.  I finally got on food stamps and Medicaid…very hard for me to do.  I am always the one trying to help people. It was very humbling to be the one asking for help.  I felt degraded and demoralized.  But humbled.   It was with the Medicaid that I was forced to see a new doctor…one who was able to properly diagnose me with Type II Diabetes.  I had spent the prior year so tired all of the time and without energy.  I finally received an answer why, and decided to try and get healthier.

So, in the midst of all of the drama, I began to exercise.  Realize…I had gained back all 80 of the pounds I had lost a few years ago.  I had to start all over again.  Chair exercises and lack of food saw me drop the first 20 pounds.  Throughout the year, I was able to lose a total of 68 pounds!

UsI had an angel, a friend from years past, call me about a job she had heard about.  I was living in Pennsylvania at the time, looking for work in Maryland, and my friend was in Florida (where I used to live).  The job was for a former boss, a dynamo woman whose passion for helping others is incendiary.  I got the job and we decided to move from Maryland (where we lived for the past 10 years) to Florida…”back home.”  The job itself is amazing, a great opportunity, and a chance to help the senior citizens of our local area.  It is an amazing blessing.

This year, we also lost all of our material possessions.  Everything we owned was in storage.  Without a job, and trying to find a way for us, I was not able to pay the storage bill and we lost everything we owned save what was in our van.  Like my mother when I was five, we moved to Florida to start over…with only what we had in our vehicle.  My mother, my lifelong hero, had left her shoes to me.

My son and I stayed with a dear friend from high school and her husband until we could get a place of our own.  We were super blessed to find the cute little townhouse that we live in.

Throughout the year, there were many other CRAZY events (you probably wouldn’t believe me) and each of those events and/or losses created a bond with someone that I will forever cherish.  Again, my family grew and I have found my love in the hearts of those around me.

That is where the new year finds us. We have a roof over our heads, a job, safety, food, health, and happiness.  We still don’t have a couch or TV in the living room and I am still sleeping on an air mattress, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Humbled…


humble-heartHumbled seems to be the word of the year.  In every way, humbled.

I must humble myself to write this now, after taking so long away.  And this entire year has been…well, horrifying and amazing.  No other way to describe it.

But I won’t make this a summary.  I am just humbled to God for his care, guidance and love.  I praise and thank him for his answered prayers; and for the pure love and joy lifting my soul…a sensation only God can provide.  In a year full of uncertainty, hardship, and mental chaos, God did provide.  He provided for me, and for Ashton.  He provided for us in so many ways…even when I had nothing to give back but my heart.

My soul is on fire for the Spirit.  I know I am not worthy, but I also know that God is working through me and for me and for those I love.  It is an amazing place to be…particularly when your world has been turned upside down over and over.  I am so grateful for all of the opportunities this year to come to God and surrender.  Surrender is humbling, but also can be mind blowing.  It is amazing the plans God has for us compared to our own attempts of imagining and dreaming.  Make no mistake: You must be open to the blessings and God’s guidance.  But when you are, it is powerful and life changing…no words to describe.

This is one of those moments of thankfulness.  A privileged moment of insight and clarity.

I have been having troubles with Ashton.  He has hit puberty and turned into a monster almost overnight.  He is making a hobby out of testing boundaries and joyfully expressing defiance.  I literally found myself on my knees two weeks ago.  On my knees to God, praying for some sort of help.  Some sort of guidance.  I am so ill equipped for dealing with a 12 year old son hitting puberty.  I don’t even know what is normal…I prayed fiercely for an answer.

Then in less than two weeks, my prayers are answered in multiple ways by multiple people from across the United States.  Now, I don’t mean that Ashton is fixed, and the problem is gone.  That is not what God is all about.  God is about helping us get through the difficult times in life.  He has sent some Angels to interfere and guide.  Some of the people have been part of my life forever.  Some are brand new popping into our lives like magic…out of thin air.  Some are helping and guiding me.  Some are helping and guiding Ashton.  It is like we are all of a sudden surrounded by God’s Angels.  I know there is no magic potion that will help Ashton, but I do know that God is helping.  If God is helping, I know Ashton is going to be okay, and so will I.  I know our Great Father will provide for us, both directly and indirectly through others.  God’s presence strengthens me in the present and helps me vision tomorrow with peace.

For this, I am completely humbled, amazed, and in awe.

Work in Progress


Work in progressYes, Lord, I am a work in progress…YOUR work in progress.

I don’t believe I have ever claimed to be perfect, but I work every day to be a better person to myself and those around me.

I try to let God’s love shine through me by expressing to others:

  • love
  • patience
  • kindness
  • compassion
  • understanding
  • grace
  • mercy

This is how I believe God works on me each day.  When I am able to focus graciously on the people around me, somehow, God ends up enriching my existence.  I am proud to be a work in progress, because I know that no matter how bad today might seem, I will always be a little better tomorrow.

Praise His name!

This is what I mean about helping others…Dalai Lama has it right!

To be contented human beings we need trust and friendship, which tends to develop much better once we realise that all beings have a right to happiness, just as we do. Taking others’ interests into account not only helps them, it also helps us. Warm-heartedness and concern for others are a part of human nature and are at the core of positive human values.

“Get good at failing”


Wise advice from a dear friend of mine.  And, no, it doesn’t mean “try” to fail.  It is much simpler and much deeper than that.

Getting good at failing – to me – means accepting that I am human and will make mistakes.  If there are consequences, we need to face them bravely and move on.

My definition of mistakes is VERY broad.  Any mistakes, people, we all make them.  From ignoring the truth of those around you to forgetting to get bread at the store.  Anything that “one” deems is a mistake, in their own perception of life, no matter how trivial it might be (as it probably leads to something much deeper).

Mistakes are an opportunity to see how things could have been done differently.  It is a chance to begin again.  How I deal with my own failures, no matter how big or small, must ultimately be acknowledged, accepted and left behind.  I guess in a poetic way, it would be fighting and defending for my own future.

My nephew’s sweet Halloween smile! So full of joy!

If I just pick my head up and move on, without getting caught up emotionally in the concept of failure..just get up and try again.  Deep inside, I know I am not built of failure or I would not be where I am.  I have survived and will continue to do so.

So, why not just get up and try again when I fall on my butt.  Which reminds me of my sweet baby nephew.  He is such a beautiful boy.  He is now running, but he went through a trial of falling and getting back up.  He did not allow the pure awesomeness of opportunites that walking would lead to.  He just knew he didn’t want to keep crawling for the rest of his life.  It is an innate part of us as humans.

Sometimes it can be that simple.

The outcomes in my life are bound to my much different then they have been.  What do you think?

Pros vs. Cons: Am I failing myself?


Here I sit, weighing a list of Pros vs. Cons in my life overall.  What goals am I still focused on and what really is the big overall picture?

I know one thing…I have become an entirely different person from when this blog first began.  That person truly seems like a character from a movie I once saw.  That is how much transformation through suffering and joy has occurred.  It is astounding to look back just a few years.

Astounding.  Perhaps a bit overwhelming too.  Especially given the trials and tribulations within those few years…and the things we keep bottled in – within those few years.  Wow.

Hey, while you are going through those life epiphanies, throw in Masters Level courses in Pastoral Counseling.  It is like God is puppeteering my classes to help me and change me in so many different ways;  I am so “in awe” of its vastness…how can that not be life changing?

I survived my first year of divorce from 15 years of a good marriage (my anniversary was yesterday – Happy Halloween to you all as well).  And I am successfully providing my son with a home, opportunity, life and love.  (Relationships with BOTH sons are works in progress and continually ongoing in nature.)  I have reached a stable point of financial function which brings relief.

Not only do I have a job, but it is truly a good job.  It is a blessing.

Personally, Spiritually, internally, I am growing exponentially.  It is so hard to explain.  I have had open conversations with people that I would once have just bottled up and ultimately imploded over.  That is exponential…for me.

I have stood up for myself.

I have put down my foot and said, “no” when I needed to.

I have faced some of my own deep-running fears.

Again, exponential in the realm of personal growth…not so much in reality.  I am so emotionally overwhelmed with just BEING MYSELF that I lose track of people and events around me.

This is where the Cons are revealed.  I have to drop one of my classes, which has consequences of unknown proportions right now.

I gained more than my previously confessed 18 pounds.  It is more like 35 and I feel every bit of it (though I am unsure of the true number because I have yet to face the scale).  I don’t have any energy…or motivation.

I cannot seem to get to work on time to save my life…to the point that I need to address it and I don’t know how.  I have tried everything I know, including having sleep testing done.  There are other work related issues being addressed.

It truly seems as though whenever I have the focus and drive to succeed in one goal, I turn around and realize that everything else is falling behind.  Is the failure due to me?  Or is there breakdown in the system or framework?  Am I overthinking things?  Or am I becoming self-aware?

All kinds of other things still need to be addressed….yet I feel like a part of me needs to just chill out and relax (relaxing is MUCH different than hiding).

Recent reveations would reveal that I am infact an emotional eater.  So I no longer wonder, “Why am I sitting here eating a Cinnamon Bagel from Panera?”

I can only sigh.  “Ai, what a day I had today.”   ~Barbra Streisand as Fannie Brice in Funny Lady.  (An ironically symbolic comment.)

Train Yourself to Seek Opportunity


Sometimes an opportunity doesn’t seem like much…until you make something of it. ~Sunshine E. Monk

It is so easy to fall into a rut and claim that there are no opportunities.  When in fact, there are times in life when we need to think outside of the box and seek our own opportunities.  (After all, in life, nobody is holding us back but ourselves, right?)  You might think it is hard, but in reality, it just takes a little time and attention.In one of the sessions I attended during a Women’s Wellness Retreat a few years ago, the instructor likened finding pennies on the ground to seeking your own opportunities.  Her story (filtered through my memory) went something like this:

Most of the time when we are walking through public places, and even at home, we unconsciously step over and ignore pennies.  We do it without notice.  Most of the time, if a penny on the ground is actually noticed, we think to ourselves, “oh, its only a penny, not worth the time or effort to pick it up.”  But in reality, if you start to teach yourself to seek out spare change on the ground, you would be surprised how much more you notice.  And after a period of time, say a year, you will notice how many coins or pieces of money you have found on the ground, simply by being open to seeking it out.

Similarly, we pass over so many opportunities each day.  It might be an opportunity as simple as a conversation with someone to encourage them, or as complex as creating a way for your dreams to come true or creating career opportunities.

I have noticed, however, that we keep our eyes closed to the opportunities and keep focused on the task at hand.  Sometimes we might even brush off our instinct for an idea or opportunity because it sounds “over the top” or crazy.  Some of the most profound inventions came from ideas that were over the top.  Apple has reinvented itself with ideas that were over the top.  In our own lives, we need to be aware of our own ideas and opportunities, even if they sound like they are over the top.  Your dreams might not be as unaccessible as you think.

Be open to other people and be open to opportunities that may present themselves, no matter how big or small they might seem.  Live in the opportunities and learn from them.  When we seek them out, we will notice them more.

If you don’t believe me, try it yourself.  Start trying to pay attention to the ground for loose pennies or change.  The first month, you might not even find a cent.  But you will see, the more you try to be aware of the opportunities to seek lost change, the more times you will actually find and notice pennies…and opportunities.

How much can you find over a year?  I will await your responses next year!  🙂  I will report my own seized opportunities through the next year.  Challenge?

Let Go and Let God…


Long ago, at a previous job, I had a friend (one of My Angels) who battled lots of difficult pains and struggles, one of which was addiction.  Now, before you jump the boat and immediately begin defining her addiction, I want you to take a step back and just look at addiction for the sake of what it is: addiction.  Many of us have chemical addictions to caffeine.  Um…hello to all of you who sleep in “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my coffee” jammies!  An addiction is an addiction, whether it is emotional, chemical or whatever.  Period.  Let’s move on.

I watched my friend struggle her addictions, sometimes on a moment by moment basis.  I was able to see within her spirit the desire to continue on.  The fight to keep on fighting.  The defeats that she sometimes crawled through.  From her perspective, she only saw the failures and mistakes she made each day.  From my perspective, How, I didn’t know.  Then one day she shared with me.

Every morning, she would get up early and give her day to God.  She would ask God to carry her burdens for the day and guide her actions and thoughts.  She described to me the sense of peace that would help her through the day.

We are all human beings, and capable of failure, setback and burnout among many other things.  Sometimes it is hard to accept our humanness.  The worries and anxieties of everyone’s expectations (including your own) overwhelm you.  They sure worry me.  Now, in the mornings, I open my morning with prayer and thanksgiving to God.  I pray for strength to get through the day, and for the wisdom to make good decisions and be good help to many.

I challenge you to try the same…Each morning, spend a few minutes and pray.  Give your day to God.

Each and every morning,

I give my concerns to You, God.

I acknowledge my weaknesses.

Please guide my hands,

And my decisions,

And my perspectives,

And my compassion.

I ask that You work through me.

Love and inspire others through me.

I will listen for Your voice.

And I will know,

The richness of Your Love,

And Jesus’ Sacrifice,

And how the Holy Spirit lives within us.

I will listen for your voice.

Amen.

Unreachable


Wow.  I survived.  By the sweet grace of God, I survived Thursday night.  I cannot even begin to explain.

I know that I woke up on Friday morning still grumpy, bags under my eyes, hating life in general.  I felt as if I had survived an exorcism.  I had just faced my life’s issues…my demons, if you will.  All of the parts of me that hide away, as well as how my decisions do effect and have effected my family, everyone around me, and myself.  How I truly feel like I had let everyone down.  Then couple that with a family counseling class that has forced me to look at my family on paper and notice patterns and blah blah blah.

Point is…I came to direct terms with the very real fact: I am broken.  We all are.  We are all victims of the behaviors of others, and we all take turns victimizing one another, whether we know it or not.  It is human nature.  It is inevitable.

God had given me all of these miraculous blessings in my life and I had hurt them all and was not as grateful as I could have been.  I took a lot of true blessings for granted.  I felt such shame and unworthiness.

Then, this song played…

The words spoke everything I was thinking and feeling.  The overwhelming sense of peace began to bring reassurance and comfort, love and protection.  All of my human fears vanished and once again I felt the truest of truth, I felt God within my soul.  I knew we would be okay if I just stayed focused on His guidance.  When I am weak, He will give me strength.

Not only did the blessings continue to pour down on us, but the awareness of God’s great and abundant love became ever so clear again.  I had been missing that sense of fullness and faith.

Yes, Uncle T., I heard your message, Let go and Let God.  It is easier said than done, AND it is necessary.  When you turn your life over to God and allow Him to work through you, He will provide for you.

It is simply amazing.

Broken


ImageAs I sit here, tears are falling down my face.  It seems as though all I have done lately is apologize for not being good enough, quick enough, right enough, smart enough, skinny enough, early enough.  It seems as though I cannot meet any goals or responsibilities or expectations.  I don’t even know if the expectations are my own or not.  All I know is that my head is swimming and I want to go to bed.

But I can’t.

I have to face all of the fears and failures, real or not, but I don’t know how.  I am trying all kinds of methods, but nothing “works fast enough.”

How do I grab all of the pieces of my life and put them together again?  How do I escape the daily dread of letting my family down or letting others down?  Of letting myself down?

I mean, anyone else’s life, and I would have no problem helping them come up with a plan of action and get organized, but when it is my own, I am clueless.  I don’t know where to begin.

How do I successfully mesh together a plan for financial stability and responsibility, for physical health and fitness, for educational growth and future opportunity and security, for successful work habits and development, AND find time to be a good mommy?  I am always letting someone down.  I don’t know what I was thinking when I decided to go back for a Masters degree!  I must have been out of my ever-loving mind to think I could pull it off when I had yet to get in order the current issues of my life.

How do you move past the pain without first having to recognize it for what it is, and either accept it for fix it?  How do I face the hurt about certain situations, knowing there is no immediate solution?  How do I escape the deep sense of longing and loss?.

How do you move past the fear that paralyzes your every move?  Fear of what, you ask?  Just plain fear.  Fear of everything…failure, loss, pain, hurt, unintentionally hurting others, of not being loved, of not loving enough, of being alone, of not being enough.  Fear of actually living life.  Fear of being who I really am.  Fear of judgement.  Fear of being called crazy.  Fear of EVERYTHING!

How do I face the fullness of the consequences for my decisions in life, particularly over the past three years.  No, there is not a lot I would change, but the consequences are killing me!  I know I put myself here, and I know that it is nobody’s fault but my own.  REGARDLESS of how I got here, I am here, and I don’t know how to move forward.

I pray, don’t worry about that.  I do.  And even though I know my God is a kind and loving God, I still feel I don’t deserve the blessings He has graced in my life NOW, what makes me think I am worth more of His mercy and love?  I have messed up everything He has provided.  Over and over.

I am on my knees with tears in my eyes asking for guidance.  God, please fill my brokenness, because I don’t know how…