Monthly Archives: July 2013

Before All Else

BeforeAllElse“Faith goes before; understanding follows after.” A great theologian believed this, and so do I. Believing after the fact is simple. Believing before the manifestation has presented itself, is not. And yet, faith requires such.

You are the artist of your own life’s portrait, I believe. I also believe each of us has more power than we know; more power than even Saint Augustine knew 15,000 years ago when he made that statement. To me life is a combination effort. At times I have waited on God. At times God has waited on me. And when I choose not to take an active part in the creation of my life, things become stagnant. I become stagnant. The paint upon my canvas dries, and the picture stays incomplete.

Pick the size of your canvas. Choose the colors. Paint with wild abandon or with careful precision. Just paint. We don’t have to understand the unfolding, just have faith that it will unfold. Don’t give up. Don’t doubt due to a lack of understanding. Faith needs no understanding. Often understanding hinders faith. If we look only to the left, because our understanding knows only that direction, then we will miss what may very well be arriving to the right. The universe utilizes all things, not just those of which we are aware and are familiar.

It isn’t easy painting within yourself an image that lies in bright contrast to one’s reality. And I would be remiss if I did not admit that at times I have had to turn away from my own canvas as it pained me too greatly to see the dissonance between what was wanted and what was. But always, when ready I pick up the brush again, dab it into Cerulean Blue, and move across the canvas with broad strokes. God allows us these moments. And I have faith that during which this benevolent force keeps me afloat.

We must step back from the canvas of our life at times. We owe ourselves as much. Not to scrutinize but to survey. At times we swipe out something that no longer suits us, and start over. Sometimes we add onto what is already in place. Its our canvas, and I believe God is pleased when we do this. My God is not one of dominance. My God is not one of judgment. My God wants to explore this world through the vehicle that is me. No one will experience the world in the same way. And that, in my opinion, is what the soul us up to, what God is up to: Exploration, expression through all of us.

Paint the life for yourself that makes you smile. Don’t sell yourself short. You need not understand how things will come together; just have faith they will. It will not work unless you do. Your job is to keep believing, and to take action when the time is right. Keep the faith. Keep the essence of that which you want held firmly within your mind, your heart, and your inner being. You are energy. And energy fuels the universe. Energy does not require of us to understand its ways. Faith comes first, that’s the mechanics of energy.

Sane

Dwell Well

Life requires of us to perceive and to analyze; we do this with nearly every breath we take. And whether we realize it as such or not, this process is one of the brick-laying methods upon which our reality as a spiritual being is built. Knowing this, perceive and analyze with deliberate consideration. Choose how you go about your daily life. Choose to fear less, and in time you will become fearless. There is no other way.

It sounds trite at first. It’s not. Condition your mind, and it will graciously respond. If it’s hardened into seeing and processing life through the many differing shades and sieves of fear, please know one can not force it into compliance. Instead, go easy. Take baby steps. Smile knowing you are taking back your life through these soft, small movements. They are deliberate. Deliberate thoughts are powerful thoughts. So dwell well.

A hardened, fearful mind can only reflect that to which it has been routinely exposed. Focus on one fearful thing within a plethora of beauty, and fear is all you will see. The reverse is also true. No, you can not remove the ugliness from the world. And sadly, there may be ugliness in your life that simply will not go away. There are times when your hand must touch upon these things. I say then to do so with careful deliberateness, then step away. You’ve done all you can do, now move on until it requires your touch again. But once done – readjust, infuse your being with goodness. Seek out those things that please you. They are your counterweight. You must dwell well if your world is ever to reflect wellness back to you. Dwell well. But dwell softly. Dwell with an easy smile. Do not force the reflection. Such a shift takes time. Fear will tell you it’s not working; and when it does, once again choose to think differently.

Take the time to buoy yourself. Doing so is not frivolity. Doing so is empowerment. Doing so is recognizing that you care enough for your well-being to seek balance, inner-health and inner-wellness. Life’s reflection requires of you to act first. Give this to yourself.

So whether sitting at the end of a long dock or with your back leaned against a tree that has long seen more life than you, take the time to dwell well. Take a break from life. Once you do, even that which once caused you to pulsate with fear will have less of a hold. In time, life will begin to reflect this new perception. Close your eyes. Set fear aside. Allow yourself to smile. Within you – see the life that feels most pleasing. Notice how these thoughts begin to spin to life inside your being. It may seem like just the twirling of fanciful thoughts. But its not. In those moments you are doing much more than you know. Life begins within.

Sane

True North

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Breathe in. Breathe out. Dig deep, and go inward. Feel who you are. There is nothing better. Of this, I can assure you. When you are lost, within rests what will save you; it is your compass, and it belongs to no other. Due to such, if consulted it will guide you to your True North; not in the direction meant for another. That is their journey. Yours is yours.

We try so hard to fit into the molds cast by others; shapes and forms determined by those that surround us: friends, family, the media; all possessing preconceived notions as to what we should and should not be. You are a flexible being, but the boundaries that confine you, the outline that defines you – is for you to determine. Be bold, my friend. Hold fast to your true self. Try not to waver and cave to the ideas and opinions of others. You are not them. And they are not you. Seek no one’s approval but that of your own. And give it to yourself freely.

When teaching children to love who they are, I remind them that it is those who break boundaries held by the norm that also change the world. Nothing new is discovered unless we reach beyond the known. And it is there that new “knowns” and boundaries are established. I say, keep reaching. Never settle. And if you do, may it be with a deep sigh of contentment – knowing you are where you need to be.

My life is one in which I work hand in hand with something that is a bit beyond my understanding. But it is who I am, and every time I try to function differently, I lose my direction. When the crowd walks to the left, often I am meant to walk to the right. But I am not alone when I do, and for that I am most appreciative. Even in some of my hardest moments I have been given numerous signs that the unfolding, happening in this singular way, in this particular direction, is where I need to be. Sometimes we are meant to follow in the footsteps of another, sometimes we are not. Either way, make sure your steps are in harmony with your True North. It doesn’t matter if you are the first or someone has gone before you. It only matters that it be the direction in resonance with your inner compass.

If only we could hold this compass in the palm of our hand. We can not. But it is there. Within all of us, it is there. So sing loud, or sing soft, if it feels right to you. Wear your hair in shades of blue, or chestnut-brown if it suits you. Be only you, and live your days in harmony with the direction meant for you. Now with that in mind, let’s all walk on.

Sane

A Writer’s Exposé

The other day, a friend asked how I want my life situation explained. He wanted to honor my privacy. I smiled. I too am a vault for many people. And I respected that he wanted to clarify exactly what I wanted placed in the vault and what I did not. His question played in my mind repeatedly afterward. Although there are scores of things in my life I will always keep to myself, I choose to speak about this. It is my story. Was I the victim – yes. But by turning around my situation, I empowered myself. By sharing this, and helping others feel less alone, I hope to help empower them.

On November 23, 2009 my, now, ex husband stood on our front lawn, and vowed to destroy our family business. In a steady voice he said that once he did, I would then lose our home. Ten months prior I had asked for a divorce; evidenced by his actions – he was not happy. Not surprising, his words only served to cement the many reasons why I had asked for one. He worked steadily over the course of the next few months to carry out his plan. He succeeded. The business meant nothing to him. And although my passion is writing, the business did mean a great deal to me; not only was it the means by which my children were supported, it was the means that would support my eventual retirement, not to mention the home in which we lived. There is no court order that can thwart the ways of a determined soul. Four days after my ex husband unlawfully diverted funds from FedEx, (the company with whom our business was subcontracted), to a private bank account he set up in his name alone, FedEx legal informed our business attorney that I had two weeks to sell off all equity connected to FedEx or FedEx would acquire it in full. In two weeks time I had to do the near impossible. Did I have a rightful case to sue FedEx – yes. Would I ever sue such a large company – no. Truth be told I didn’t blame FedEx. Tortious interference is nothing they take lightly, nor did I.

During those terrible two weeks I had a psychic say that I would indeed sell, but only in the nick of time. On the night prior to the deadline I faxed a signed purchase agreement to my legal team. The next day, FedEx approved the sale. It’s a surreal experience having one’s life ravaged by another. But it was one of the moments that has pushed me the farthest in my spiritual journey; just as I believe it was meant. Often it seems in life, it is through tragedy that forward movement is fueled. And yet, out of each tragic moment, I have turned toward God, and not away. Please know, there have been many times during which my faith has been pushed to the brink. Along the way my tears have been many. And I have often felt more alone than anyone could fathom. But through these upheaved moments came the raw wisdom that I so often infuse within my writing.

I have failed many times, and I am not yet all that I hope to be. I will forever be a continual work in progress and yet – I have come to fully love who I am. And that is the basis of this blog; the basis of all that I share with you. I hold no hatred for my ex husband. If anything, I feel on a soul-level we had an agreement, and his physical being simply carried out that heinous contract.

On June 19, 2013 the arduous journey, that began three and a half years prior, was put to rest. And here I am now, starting over. One can painstakingly invest, plan and orchestrate their life and through no real fault of their own – those carefully laid plans can be completely upturned. Mine were. As the President and sole Director of the business I had to make many tedious decision along the way; many of which caused me a great deal of heartache; business bankruptcy and foreclosure being the two hardest. As they should be. I never once took those decisions lightly. I still don’t. I have a great deal of life experience packed into these soon to be 44 years of mine. And I would be misleading if I did not admit that I am quite tired. But a new chapter has just started; and I hold the pen. For that I am appreciative.

I feel no shame in having let go of all that I have. Through all I hope I kept my grace. I worked tirelessly providing my children with the consistency and wisdom they needed; poise and an internal honesty that I hope they will one day emulate. Although I can’t say I bandy my life experiences about at dinner parties, I won’t run from owning them either. I have to be true to me. And just as the dysfunctional home life from which I came provided the foundation for my attentiveness to the emotional needs of others; this latest experience gave me the opportunity to test my resolve and further expand my scope of compassion. It wasn’t the plan to start over again at this age; but like many, I am. Throughout it all, a Divine energy has always accompanied me. There have been times when my walls were so high I could not feel it. But that was only because I didn’t let it in. It was there. Not only is it always around me, it is always within me.

My ex husband felt his efforts would destroy me; but they only made me stronger. I am asked at times why it is I share all that I do. The answer is simple: I am a writer and I am a healer. I will never be defined by the actions of others. Nor will I choose to let these moments define who I am. However, how I handle, process and perceive these moments does. And again, upon such a canvas I write.

We all have a story. Never run from yours. Never feel shame in it. You are stronger than you know, and more beautiful than you realize. It’s best not to care so much about the opinions of others. Instead, create the best opinion of yourself you can. See your own beauty. Love who you are. Those around you of value will do the same. But first, it starts with you.

Sane

Celebrate

Celebrate

When I die I hope there’s a celebration – a time when those I love gather to immerse themselves in the joys I found while on this earth, and hopefully the mark I’ve left. I hope this happens whether I die soon and unexpectedly, or once I’ve aged and grown tired of living.

My hope is that I will be with my forever person by then. And if I’m the first between us to take the last breath, it will be for them to orchestrate this little gathering; showing my loved one’s the little things about me that shaped me daily: the cartoons that left me in stitches, my gag gift and vintage t-shirt collection, obscure estate sale finds and so forth.

I hope on the day of this celebration it’s sunny with a light rain. And while my favorite songs play in the background, everyone grabs a glass of Côtes du Rhône, and stands outside. I will be felt in the rain, as much as I will be felt in the sun; so they will find me there.

I hope everyone takes the time to kick off their shoes, and feel the grass under their feet. I like to do that when I can. I like to breathe deep the air that surrounds me when infused with lilacs too; so I hope timing is on my side.

I hope my children gather, and think a moment about how I worked hard to carry out my life’s purpose and desires while honoring my parental obligations; how I tried not to sacrifice myself or them, but instead find balance. They will remember the many times I was at my tipping point. But also I hope they remember the many times I steadied myself again. There was a time when I believed my sole reason for being was to raise them – nothing more – nothing less. In time it was shown to me that by living such a life I was failing them, as they would never learn what makes a healthy life if not first witnessing it from me. I anguished when taking my first steps in that direction. But now they know, life is to be lived. I hope I gave them that example. I hope I lived.

These things can happen unexpectedly. Such is the case that prompts this post tonight. A young woman recently lost her life, as many do. I almost did. I can’t say why such a thing happens to those that are so good and touch so many. Part of me believes that on a soul-level it is to awaken the rest of us; reminding us to make use of each day. We take so for granted the days that sit buried within the calendar; we believe we own them merely because they are in print. We own nothing but the moment we are in, however. And yet the illusion of countless days causes us to put off countless dreams. I have to wonder this evening what dreams, if any, this young lady was hoping to step into one day. Many things in life shouldn’t be rushed but on the same note, we shouldn’t make light of the days we are given either.

If I die tomorrow, I will not have stepped into all of my dreams. Some I have. And for that there is cause for celebration. I haven’t yet stepped into the dream of waking each day to the sight of my life’s love and confidant lying beside me. I haven’t traveled the world over. And I haven’t mastered my French, nor the piano, violin or drums. I have many novels and stories waiting to be written. Many experiences waiting to be felt. But my feet are pointed in the right direction. And again, for that there is cause for celebration. This post isn’t to end on a sad note. No. We should end on a high note. To the best of our ability we should end every day on a high note. Let us rest each night knowing we grabbed hold of these dreams, and made them our own. We must push past our fears and our scars. We must push past the ties that bind. When all is said, regardless of the when, let our life be that celebration.

Sane

Ode to the Familiar

Familiarity is a powerful force. Like a magnet it has the ability to draw us in or keep us held in place; regardless of the healthfulness of the situation. Familiarity off-sets change, and change is one of the most feared circumstances humans face. Change requires of us to break through old scars, break through the glass ceiling and reach into the unknown.

We can’t stop change. At times change brings into our experience an ugliness that nearly destroys us. At other times it is what breathes new life into our being and forces us to grow toward that which we desire. Oddly enough, even knowing that some change is for the best we fear it just the same; or at least most of us do. And so we cling to that which is familiar. It is why some people sit in church. It is why my mother dutifully watched her soap opera each and every day. Familiarity.

Although I can’t give a percentage, suffice it to say a great many sitting in what is called the house of God do not sit there to strengthen their resolve and live a bit more like a benevolent sage or teacher; they do not sit there to be reminded of how to be a better person. They sit there because the routine soothes their mind. Short of a few superficial changes, all things within the confines of those four walls remains the same. Change is nearly non-existent and the familiarity works like a balm to the mind that feels powerless to the upheaval of every day life. It is something they can count on, and I do not fault them for seeking it out. We all need our own singular way of counteracting that which unsteadies us. In a world that constantly rocks like a boat amidst stormy seas, the well-choreographed routines of a church service offers a calm that can be counted upon. Of course, it is for that same reason I feel so many within the church balk adamantly when the church inches toward adjusting its beliefs, approach to living or guidelines. If the very thing in which they count on not to change – changes – then what.

My mother grumbles in the same way when her beloved daytime program, filled with love, lust, turmoil and resurrected-from-the-dead-characters throws in something new. It doesn’t feel right to her, and she doesn’t want any part of it. The familiarity of the scripted lives of the soap opera characters comforts her; even if their lives are full of chaos. It’s a controlled chaos and in that its routine, choreographed and safe.

The boldest amongst us live on the leading edge of change. I can’t say I am one of those, even though I’m currently working through an enormous amount of change in my life. Currently, my only routine-familiarity is the sound of my voice as I write; something about the sound soothes me, even if it is only mine to hear.

I think we need both of these great forces in our life: change and familiarity. Both have their place; one is the force that allows us to grow; the other is like a soft breeze on a stifling day. I think even the great masters found purpose in both. Being on the leading edge, and filled with less fear and insecurity than most, they knew better than to overuse either. So as I start this week, with very little familiarity around me, and great change before me, I will strive to do the same.

Sane

And I Sail On

And so here I am; sitting in this new place; the walls around me 113 years old or more. Perhaps that is why I feel so at home. It isn’t the prettiest house, but it has a soul. I’m writer, or so they say. So I should be able to articulate most anything. And yet here I sit – speechless.

I can never fault anyone for their view on life as it seems to me to be so precarious. Who am I to account for, analyze or scrutinize anyone’s experience. We all seem to be on some sort of personal journey wherein we bump and mingle with others all the while sticking quite to ourselves.

Tonight while sitting on the front porch of this house my daughter decided to tell me what she thought my “forever person” should be like; characteristics, thought processes and the like. I sat and listened. At times my mind wandered onto how beautiful her delicate face was, and how full of life she is. And yet her words sank deep within me, penetrating not only my skin but my heart. Her observations on life, especially that of my own, astound me.

Some of us seem to stray so off course during our lifetime; often for the best of reasons, with the best of intentions. At times I stray too. Whether I am currently on or off course I can not fully say. But I can say this: My rudder has always remained steadfast when it comes to my true self. And for that I am grateful. It isn’t easy honoring oneself. There are times when doing so is the hardest thing brought before us. At times I think my sole reason for experiencing this life of mine is to be put to the challenge of never dishonoring who I am.

I sat in quiet contemplation this evening and thought over a few things that are currently bucking against my rudder. Disappointing currents of life that I surely did not need to float into and yet here I am feeling them crash against all that normally steadies me. When matters come before me that cause me inner turmoil I try not to act impetuously. I try to pray and give it time. I ask for a few signs along the way. At times I am appeased of this request. At times it feels as though my request has gone ignored.

The turbulence of life most difficult for me has always been and will always be that which is brought on by others. I find those waters the hardest to navigate. And yet here I am tonight, sitting in this our new home, boxes piled to my left and to my right, exhaustion coursing through my bones, my mind still overwhelmed from a treacherous cerebral journey, hitting hard against rough seas. I don’t need these waters right now, but it seems there is so much in life I don’t control. I can, however, control my reaction. I can decide how I lay hold to the wheel and steer my vessel. At all times, I can decide whether to hoist the sails or bound them tight and go within for protection.  As I sit here right now, in this very moment, I am surveying the waters and mapping my journey. Whether I need to pull hard on the wheel or sit and float is the one thing I do not know at this moment. Tomorrow is a new day though and often with it brings new answers. Perhaps the clouds will clear and I will be able to make sense of things. But if not, I can always turn the wheel in search of calmer waters.

In my own abstract way I have articulated exactly how I feel in this moment. I would like to believe in a place where my ship could dock; a place where the water is like glass and I am not presented with unexpected hard winds. I know its out there. Maybe it will find me or I will find it or its here and just gone off course – I can’t say. But I won’t stop believing. We mustn’t stop wishing. We mustn’t stop hoping. Those things, those seemingly insignificant simple things – wishes – I believe, are the very things that moves us along. Love to you. I’m back.

Sane