Changing Life’s Metaphors

“Back to the salt mines,” Nathan said as he prepared to take Sarah to her before school math prep and then head off to work.

“What does that mean?” Sarah asked.

“I’ll explain in the car,” Nathan said.

Off they went.

Later, Nathan posted this article on Facebook. “The Salt Mines. Really??” In this article, Natalie Houston discusses the possible origins of the phrase, which includes the fact that convicted prisoners were often forced to labor in salt mines, with the commensurate risks to life and limb. She writes:

“Through metaphor, the language we use both reflects our perceptions and shapes them in a continual feedback loop. Each time you say something like “back to the salt mines” (which is usually accompanied by a shrug, or slumped shoulders) you reinforce your own attitudes about your workplace as being somehow like a dangerous mine where prisoners labor. “

This made me think about the metaphors that guide and/or  influence my own life. Over the past few days I’ve recognized that it is time to change my metaphors, or at least re-envision them. First, however, I must be able  to identify them.

Life as Journey

Walking a path.

Walking a path.

This is by far my favorite metaphor, as anyone who has been reading my blog for a long time might realize. I often talk about life as a journey. If you search for the term journey within my blog, you will find 143 entries that  somehow refer to journeys and the journey of life. Maybe I need to get some new material.

Anyway, this is a metaphor that I do try to live by, however it has its dangers. It all depends on how one perceives the journey. When I think of this journey as having a specific destination–as one with  a path that I’m meant  to follow that gets me to some mysterious endpoint–then I take less pleasure in the journey itself because I’m too worried about not getting to that point. When I can think about the journey as the destination–a meandering path that takes me to the next part of the journey–then I usually can just let my feet lead me wherever I am going.

I want to focus on the second type of journey.

Life as Speeding Train 

This is perhaps one of my least favorite metaphors for life. Do you ever feel like you somehow got trapped on a train that is heading toward an unknown destination without any stops? It keeps going faster and faster, and someone else is driving it. You have no control. No matter how many times you pull the emergency cord, the train will not stop.

Sometimes, for me, the train is a roller coaster car, speeding up and down at speeds that defy thought.

Have  I mentioned that I hate roller coasters? The last time I was on one with my sister, long ago at Knots Berry Farm I felt too short to be held in safely and was convinced I would fly out on one of the crazy loops. I haven’t been on one since, except for  the roller coaster of life.

When I lived in Japan, I loved the idea of riding the Shinkansen, because it allowed me to visit more places in less time. However, the difference between riding a bullet train and being trapped on a speeding life train is crucial to recognize. It’s possible to get off the Shinkansen once in a while, to enjoy the journey.

English: A Shinkansen awaiting passengers in T...

English: A Shinkansen awaiting passengers in Tokyo. Français : Un Shinkansen attendant ses passagers à Tōkyō. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

“Another Day, Another Dollar”

Or in my case a few more pennies.

I thought  of this metaphor this morning after reading Houston’s article.  Too often lately, I’ve focused on the fact that I seem to work hard for very little  financial reward.

I don’t  like thinking like that. If my focus on life is on the journey, and the journey  is the destination, then I want to be working  on projects that fill my life with joy and purpose. I suppose the purpose could be to make money, but I don’t want  the metaphor for my life to be “Life as means to financial gain.”

Of course, I recognize that money does play a role in life, but it doesn’t have to be the focus of life.

It’s time to drop this metaphor from my life.

 

What are  some of the metaphors guiding your life? What are some of the metaphors you want to change? What are some  of the metaphors you would like to embrace?

 

Lessons Learned and the People Who Teach Them

This week has been a challenge. I’m not just talking about writer’s block (which is there) but a darker struggle inside myself, as I question whether or not anything I do has value in this world. I’ve been dealing with:

  • students who seem to think attendance during the last weeks of school is optional
  • students who think that my assignments and the deadlines associated are optional
  • administrators who think that my opinions do not have weight or are not worthy of consideration
  • young students whose lives are so difficult outside of school that its hard to see if anything I am doing is reaching them
  • at least one class where the women in the class refuse to speak up and participate, they defer to the male voices a large percentage of the time. It drives me insane as someone who truly values mentoring young women.
  • a complete lack of faith in myself as director, writer, artist, teacher

But then, Siobhan Curious over at Classroom as Microcosm, posted this prompt as part of her Writing on Learning Exchange Series: she asks this provocative question “Who Taught You?”

That message made me think about what we learn when we least expect it, and who teaches us those important lessons. Sure, hopefully we have teachers throughout our educations that actually teach us something, but I am beginning to think that perhaps true learning comes to us in a different way. This isn’t to say that we have nothing to learn in a classroom environment . . . there’s plenty to learn through those formal methods, but sometimes we learn in unexpected ways, and sometimes we teach without knowing we are  teaching.

In my own life, lessons have come from so many unexpected places and people:

  • the fellow teacher from Australia who didn’t graduate from high school, used less than legal means to get hired to teach English in Japan (you were supposed to have a college degree) and showed me that a love of life and a passion for following your heart is in some ways more important than what you learn  from books. Too bad I didn’t fully absorb that lesson until very recently, despite the fact that she taught me it about 20 years ago.
  • the lessons I learned about prejudice, hate, and racism while working with a group of Roma children in Slovakia.
  • the lessons I’ve learned from the leaders of that Slovakia trip, about caring, sharing, traveling and living life with the understanding that there is more to the world than our small section of it.

    The leaders of Dramatic Adventure Theatre pitching in to make sure we were well fed.

    The leaders of Dramatic Adventure Theatre pitching in to make sure we were well fed.

  • There’s my current student who faces all kinds of challenges including incessant and debilitating migraines, being struck by lightning, and numerous friends dying from suicide or car accidents and things. She’s taken all this sadness, all these challenges, and given herself a goal to help others by becoming a school counselor and learning as much as she can about psychology. She is an inspiration.
  • The lesson I learned this morning from a woman I don’t know. Mia McKenzie’s blog post starts with the words “Hey White Liberals!” and challenges me to reflect on ingrained aspects of racism and injustice that we all need to think about, and somehow change.

This list could go on forever, and my blog is peppered with posts about people of all ages, races, cultures, levels of education who have taught me lessons. The point is that we never know when we will learn something that changes our lives. Nor we will ever truly know when we have taught something that has made a difference.

With that perspective, perhaps my life isn’t as empty as it feels at the moment, because there’s always something new to learn and the possibility that someone actually learns from you.

This is my greatest teacher.

This is my greatest teacher.

 

Carrying Paradise Inside

I have learned some important lessons over the past few weeks.

The lessons began with the horror of Newtown, when I started to question where we’ve gone wrong to create a world that is full of so much cruelty, horror, and unspeakable acts. I learned from a childhood friend, neighbor or a child who was lost, who spent the days protecting his neighbor’s and his town from the predatory journalists, armed only with a video camera and a caring heart.

Who would have thought the little blonde boy I used to babysit would grow up to be such a kind, caring man.

Who would have thought the little blonde boy I used to babysit would grow up to be such a kind, caring man.

The lessons continued with the passing of my father; the first time in my life that I really had to face the reality of our mortality, and let go of somebody I love.

Photo by Steve Kramer

Photo by Steve Kramer

Then I found myself in Hawaii, spending the holiday’s with my husband’s family. Despite the fact that I’ve spent many holidays with them, there’s always a certain amount of awkwardness in my time here. This year, that feeling was multiplied by the sadness I carried in my heart. I found myself trying to hide from:

  • the awkward reactions from people who did not know what to say to someone who just lost her father
  • the even more awkward reactions from people who simply didn’t say anything and avoided the topic all together.
  • Nathan’s father’s sometimes naive (although I believe unintentional) anti-Semitism
  • the overwhelming holiday spirit that I simply did not feel.
  • the somewhat hypocritical attitude of people who claim the virtues of living in paradise, but never really take advantage of the place they live in
  • a constant clash of cultures

As I’ve been experiencing all this, I slowly began to absorb the lessons that surround me. For example, paradise is only paradise if you take the time to appreciate its beauty.

Sunset at the luau.

Sunset at the luau.

You can find paradise on an island, but you can also find it everywhere. If you spend all your time complaining about traffic, or focusing on other things like work and money, it doesn’t matter what the sunset looks like or the weather feels like–because you won’t see it.

I’m learning that paradise is actually something you carry with you.

It can be found in the smiles of children, who learn that new friendships can be formed over the joy of hanging upside down.

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It can be found in the moments when we stop, relax, and simply enjoy the sun.

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It can be found in those moments where we run, dance, and fly.

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It can be found spending time with old friends.

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Paradise is the place where you stop and realize that the small moments, and the inexpensive pleasures filled with love and laughter are the ones that truly matter. My wish for all in the coming year is that you take a moment to stop and celebrate the life you have.

It’s simply too short not to enjoy with all the passion and love you carry inside.

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A palm with holiday lights.

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Dolphins know how to be joyous!

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Sometimes being different just makes life even more special.

Simple joys, like blowing bubbles and swimming through them, are the things that make life worth living.

 

Yesterday I Began a Journey (100 WCGU)

This weeks 100 Word Challenge for Grown Ups asks us to include …. the line was drawn ….. I have combined that with a little personal journey that I am on, as well as a foray into poetry (as I sometimes do). For those of you only interested in the quick read I offer the poem/challenge first, but am following it up with an explanation for anyone who wants to know more.

Yesterday I Began a Journey

Yesterday I began a journey
where the line was drawn between
who I am and who I want to be.

 My butterfly soul
danced a dance of new beginnings
around the strength found in the turtle and the moon

Lessons from people connected to the earth
tightened the bond between
mother and daughter
butterfly and turtle
creativity and hope.

Yesterday I began a journey
which will involve the beating 
of my heart drum
and the sound of thunder
dancing over the waves.

Yesterday I began a journey
with laughter, adventure, love and joy.
Today, the journey continues in words.

Yesterday I began a journey.

 

 The Explanation

Yesterday Sarah and I went on a spontaneous Girls’ Day adventure with my new friend (and I believe spiritual mentor)  Terry to Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Sioux Falls During a Hot Dry Summer

Part of the adventure involved Sarah’s experiencing her first pedicure after watching me get one. It was a silly, fun, mother/daughter bonding experience.

Sarah tried to resist the giggles as her feet got tickled and massaged.

But it was almost impossible to stop laughing.

Especially when your toes are being painted purple while you wear silly shoes.

Lovely mother and daughter feet.

After our feet were fabulous, we went to downtown Sioux Falls to eat lunch. We ended up at Chedd’s, a place for gourmet grilled cheese. Then (once we were able to put real shoes back on) we wandered through some of the fabulous stores on Phillips Street. The first place we wandered into was The Prairie Star Gallery, which has the most beautiful, spiritual and amazing collections of indigenous art I’ve ever seen. The owner shared stories with us of her journey as well as the meaning behind some artifacts. I played and heard the song of a drum so deep and beautiful it still resonates in chest.  She told us about the legends of turtles, who represent (in some traditions) women and birth and the moon . Every turtle shell has 13 sections, which represent the 13 moons of the year. Along the edge of their shell are 28 segments, the time between each moon. Women would use turtle shells to keep track of their menstrual cycles.

I ended up buying a gorgeous children’s book because of the draw of this legend.

I’ve linked the image to the Amazon book description.

As I was thinking about turtles, and the journey, and indigenous legends and everything else, I kept pondering my recent butterfly revelations. I did a little web research and found this lovely legend:

An Indian Butterfly Legend

If anyone desires a wish to come true they must
capture a butterfly and whisper that wish to it.

Since they make no sound, they can’t tell the wish
to anyone but the Great Spirit.

So by making the wish and releasing the butterfly
it will be taken to the heavens and be granted.

Author Unknown

All of these images and ideas are merging together into possibilities for me. Right now my mind is dancing with possibilities like:

  • an art project which will join these powerful images
  • a theatre production that shares some legends, all surrounding the shell of a turtle
  • perhaps a puppet play
  •  . . .

So you see, yesterday I really began a journey into possibility, spirituality and hope.

Today I Declare

Today is my independence day! I am tired of living up to the rules and perceptions of the world around me and losing myself along the way. I am tired of being “good ole’ reliable” Lisa, there to pick up the pieces, lend a hand, give good advice, solve the problem, and be on duty 24-7, while everyone else does whatever they want to do, regardless of anyone else. I am tired of being introduced only as, “someone who helps us out here” or “the wife of our a Technical Director” or “Sarah’s Mom.” I am tired of not having an identity of my own. So today I declare my personal independence. I hold these truths to be self-evident, that I am created equal, that I too am  endowed . . . with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.  What does this mean? It means that from this day forward I will:

  • Give myself permission to write without guilt, even if it means closing my door or escaping to find a place to write on my own.
  • Let my family make their own mistakes without any interference from me.
  • Pursue projects and work that makes me feel fulfilled, even if it means that it cuts into the time I spend with my family.
  • Put myself first for at least one hour each day.
  • Insist that once in a while someone else must make a sacrifice, not just me.

Do I sound selfish? Perhaps, but I cannot continue to live my life feeling like I am only around to help others follow their dreams. I have every right to pursue dreams of my own. I am not doing anyone any favors, least of all my daughter, by allowing myself to be considered as a supporting player in my own life. So today I declare that it is my inalienable right to reach for the stars. If I crash and burn, at least I will look back on my life as one where I tried, I journeyed, and I never gave up on myself.

I intend to make it a life lived to the fullest.  I intend to find joy in every step of the journey. I want to look back and say, “I’m glad I lived the life I lived, and I am proud of who I am.”  If I can do that for myself, I can teach that to my daughter. If I can do that for myself, I will be the person I want to be.

 

 

 

 

Sitting and Writing and Thinking and Dreaming

I’m back at the coffee shop.

I have been doing some writing on the next chapter. I can’t say it is very good, but I’m all about the shitty first drafts, so that’s okay.

I really came here because today is the final day of a webinar I’ve been taking  called “Transform Your Career” so I needed to be someplace with reliable internet. Of course, that excuse also justified the iced chai and decadent cookie purchase I made so that I could sit here for hours. 😉

As I sit here, waiting for the webinar to start, my mind whirls around my purpose, my goals, my dreams, and my hopes. How could it not, I am taking a Webinar aimed at people who want to change their careers. I have also been in the middle of an inconclusive change for years. So I sit and think about possibilities, hoping to find the answers in my words.

But really, I am just full of questions:

  • what do I really want to do with my life?
  • what are my strengths and how can I use them to find/create a fulfilling career?
  • how do I overcome my shyness and take advantage of my networking capabilities?
  • who can help me reinvent myself?
  • what makes me feel the most accomplished and fulfilled?
  • where do I begin when I feel overwhelmed?
  • what do I want to be when I grow up?

I feel change in the air. I know that something big is coming my way, I just need to have the courage and belief in myself to reach out and grab it.

Let the dreams begin.

It All Comes Down to Choice

Choices we make define who we become.
Choices  we don’t make allow others to define us.
It all comes down to choice.

In an age where women daily face
the stripping down of choices
each decision we make
adds fuel to the fire
of our right to make choices.

It all comes down to choice.

I’m not talking about life or death here
I’m not talking about my body
or that of a fertilized egg.
Those choices are important
but they are not the only choices that come
with the package of womanhood.

It ALL comes down to choice.

I’m talking about my core
my being
my self
and how each decision
or non-decision
either opens a door
or slams one shut.

It all comes down to choice.

The path I choose is my own to choose
but I am not travelling alone
so one choice
affects all
choices.

IT ALL COMES DOWN TO CHOICE!

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference." Robert Frost

Dancing Through Life One Tea at a Time

I walked into a lovely home filled with chattering women. The kettle whistled on the stove, and the table in another room practically groaned under the weight of finger sandwiches and decadent pastries.

We were celebrating another generation, Smith College style.

Those were the days. The women of Smith College's Morris House gather for a photo in the room we always had tea. I'm in the front row. Can you find me?

Every year, just before nervous high school seniors need to make their final college decisions, active Smith clubs around the country hold teas for accepted students, inviting alumnae from the area to come and encourage these young women who might still be undecided, or reinforce the “rightness” of their choice.

This is the first Smith alumnae event I have attended in a while, and I found myself in a surreal reality of my own making. I went because I need to meet more people in the area. I went because I need to begin to network better. I went because I believe that my Smith education was indeed a great one (even though there are some things I would change). I went because I yearn to connect (in person) with intelligent women who support each others goals.

I found all that there.

But, I also suddenly faced the fact that I have been out of college for a really long time. Except for two much older women (who I believe graduated in the late 50s or 60s) I was one of the oldest alumnae there. I was also one of the only newbies to the alumnae group, so of course everyone asked for my story. Everyone wanted to know what I do. Everyone was interested in why I had moved to this part of Massachusetts.

Anyone who has been following my blog for any time knows that I cannot answer any of those questions easily.

I found myself floundering. Am I theatre artist? Am I an educator? Am I a writer? Am I a stay at home Mom?

With the accepted students, I was okay, sharing memories of Smith days past or able to makes some suggestions based on my experience teaching first year students. I am a good mentor, I know that.

But, discussing my life with alumnae left me sputtering like a slowly deflating balloon.

I woke up this morning asking myself WHY?

  • Why am I so afraid to say I am a writer, and that I am actually writing books?
  • Why do I only associate success with a paycheck?
  • Why do I dismiss all of the really cool things I’ve done in my life as meaningless because I don’t have a current  title, or the home I expected, or the life I thought I would?
  • Why do I find it so hard to trust myself?
  • Why do I doubt myself so much?
  • Why can’t I accept that I am a talented, intelligent, creative individual that has a lot to offer this world, even if I haven’t figured out the method of that offering yet?

As often happens, subtle messages from the universe began to creep into my consciousness in answer to my questions. Or maybe I began looking for answers and interpreting the world around me in terms of my questions.  I can’t be sure.

Whichever it is, as I sat in my local coffee shop inhaling a late breakfast (after having to do a fasting blood test this morning) and staring at my computer screen, the universe began speaking.

First I noticed a Facebook post from a very spiritual person that I follow of a song that I have always loved. I smiled when I saw it, but being in a public place without earphones, I didn’t click the video. However, as you will see, it plays a role in me even writing this post.

Stay tuned . . .

Some of the messages, as they so often do, came from the wonderful source of inspiration that is found in the blogosphere. Comments made on my recent posts about fighting inner enemies and the line between success and failure made me think about how many supportive people exist in this universe, despite the fact that I have had the dubious joy of meeting with so many truly selfish people in recent years. Those people lie behind some of my why questions. But, the supportive and insightful comments I have received recently made me ask new whys:

  • Why have I given those people so much power over who I am now?
  • Why can’t I move beyond the hurt and prove that I am worthy?

Then, I read  4AMWriter’s post about how being creative, especially writing, helps ground her in this post called “Replenishing is Drinking.” Reading her post made me realize that I thrive in creative projects. The more projects I have that I believe in, the more balls I can keep juggling in the air.  I do not thrive in sameness, in mundane day to day tasks that seem to have no purpose beyond keeping me busy. I work best solving problems, facing challenges, and working on projects that somehow make a difference. Perhaps, I realized, I don’t see my WIPs as making a difference, in a world full of people striving to become writers and striving to publish.

I sat and sipped my tea, thinking about why I want to write these stories, and if they do have purpose. The answer is yes. Both stories share, through fictionalized worlds, my questioning of certain social issues that make me fearful for the future of our world. Whether or not these stories ever get seen in a broader sense, they are the stories I need to write to find my path through these issues that bother me so much.

I began to write.  I began to explore one of the characters that I need to understand in order to move a story forward. I wrote for two hours, that seemed like minutes. I wrote almost 800 words, that seemed like volumes.

Then I started on this post.

Of course, the universe has a sense of humor, and my computer battery began to die. So, I deserted the post and headed into the gray rainy day to return home.

When we all leave the house, we leave the radio on for the dogs, as that helps them (sometimes) from their more mischievous instincts. When the music doesn’t play, chaos reins.

The first song I heard as I got settled at home was the same song I saw on Facebook this morning. A song which always reminded me that life is magical, as long as you remember to dance.

So my friends, I know that my life will always be wonderful, as long as I keep dancing, keep dreaming, and keep having warm cups of tea. I don’t have to have all the answers right now, I just have to keep asking questions.

That’s a pretty good thing to know.

Update:

I barely get this post posted when another message from the blogosphere reaches my mailbox. Please read “How to Build Strong Foundations Underneath Your Dreams”, a post that speaks the truth.

The Line Between Success and Failure

Have you ever had one of those days when the universe speaks and you know you better listen?

I’m having one right now.

I wasn’t planning on posting today. I have kind of reached a stumbling block in terms of blogging. Not writer’s block, as I still seem to still be prolifically pouring out posts on a regular basis, but a block related to purpose. I don’t know why I blog. I am sensing a need for some change, but I don’t know what that means yet. Perhaps it is a re-purposing of this blog. Perhaps I need a new blog completely. Or perhaps it is time to move onto something else.

Only time will tell.

However, three posts caught my attention this morning. Three posts, three messages from the universe, made me sit down (well Iwas already sitting) and begin to write.

Message #1 

The first was a simple announcement from a blogging friend saying that she was closing up shop and starting over in a different blog space. Being the dedicated follower that I am, I wandered over to Deborah’s new blog to read her first post, where she wrote:

“I’ll be honest with you. Change freaks me out. All those moving parts, details to manage, so much upheaval. Things get lost, stuff isn’t where you remember. It gives me palpitations.

But that’s precisely why I like it, too. Great stuff happens when I’m slightly off balance. At least there’s the potential. That’s why I make myself go through the scary parts.”

My life has been all about change in recent years, but at the same time it seems like I am on a bicycle without wheels, peddling as hard as I can but unable to move forward. I don’t want my life to be like that. It’s time to push myself through the scary parts.

Message #2

Whenever I am looking for inspiration or motivation, or simply deep thought, I know I can turn to the fabulous blog Mirth and Motivation. Elizabeth always writes thought-provoking and calming posts. Today, she wrote “Inspiration: Embracing the F Word” (no, not that F-word. Get your mind of the gutter).  In my Morning Pages I have been writing a lot about failure lately, as well as trying to understand how I define success. Because, in reality neither of those terms have any meaning, except the meanings we ascribe to them. Unless, as many of us do, we let society define those words for us. I have done that too often. It is time for me to create my own definition of both failure and success, so that I can look back on my life without judgment. I want to be able to look back on my life and simply say “I lived fully.”

Message #3

The final message came from Terry over at The Incredible Lightness of Seeing. She always speaks to my soul with moving images, quotes, and brief snippets of her life. Today she shared her experiences conquering her own fears at Bandelier National Monument and I found inspiration from her journey. She writes:

“Trying something new and conquering a fear makes one grow as a person. When I began taking boot camp classes last year, I learned how beneficial it is for mind, body, and spirit to challenge oneself. Just because I’m nearing 60 doesn’t mean I can’t try new things. And I’m so thrilled that I did.”

I’m so thrilled that she shared that story, and the pictures that go with it (please visit her blog to see them, it is worth every moment). Perhaps it is time to try something new and for me to grow in a new direction.

The Meaning Behind it All

Yesterday Sarah invited a friend over for a play date, which seemed like a good solution for two people who seem to be constantly battling each other at this moment in time. A buffer of sorts. I watched the girls go exploring up the rocky hill that is my back yard, snapping photos of their journey. They discovered some old bark slabs, that they said “looked like a wooden skirt.” They brought a piece down to show me, and I said,”that would be a great background for a painting.” They went up and grabbed more pieces, and the creation began. They even grabbed a piece for me.

“I used to hate art,” Marissa said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Because I didn’t understand the rules.”

I kept painting, just following my whim and whatever instinct guided me.

“What are you doing?” Marissa asked.

“Just going with the flow,” I said. “To me art is just about going with the flow.”

“Me too,” Sarah said. “I learned that from Miss Jackie.  Just go with the flow, and if you make a mistake try something else.”

The messages are beginning to coalesce into a whole–I need to go with the flow, trust in my ability to change, and stop defining myself in terms of success or failure.

The line between success and failure is myself.

Walking Toward Life’s Lessons

I have been having a difficult week in my own mind. The INNER CRITIC has been screaming loudly, telling me that I am wasting my time.  The GREEN EYED MONSTER has been popping up, as I compare myself to other’s even though I know I shouldn’t.  QUEEN SELF-DOUBT has made loud pronouncements, trying to banish Queen Esther before she could even make her voice heard. LORD LONELINESS laughed at me as he partied with his friends.

I sought solace and solutions away from the written word. I went for walks. On Wednesday, I took myself to the nearby botanical garden, hoping to find inspiration in the flowers of the greenhouse. I was greeted by a woman who said, “You look like you are ready for a day of stress relief and beauty. Enjoy! But first, feel this.” (She hands me a bud that fell from the pussy willows decorating her desk). Her smile and encouraging talk began to break through my shell. Wearing  my “butt shoes” (my sneakers that are supposed to help with getting in shape) instead of boots I found myself crunching through snow to wander paths I thought would be closed. Yesterday, as the temperature soared into the 60s and the snow disappeared, I walked against the brisk winds down my street, listening only to the beat of my feet and the songs of the birds. I didn’t bring my camera. I didn’t bring my music. And in the silence of being alone, I rediscovered something along the way.

The following is what I discovered.

I

Greeted by pussy willows.
Touch a whisper of softness
like a baby’s blanket
floating in air.

II

Being alone does not have to be lonely.
The crunch of my feet in the snow.
Bird song, at least three different types, though the birds remain hidden.
I breathe deeply of the fresh air, the breeze sending a scented message of spring.
It is not cold, despite the snow.
The wind fills me with the potential of life.
I wish I could paint the scents in the air, and fill my words with pictures.

III

The true beauty and power of life can be found in the tiniest of details. It is not about  the grand moments or grand gestures, but finding joy in the finite details and tiny miracles that surround us.

IV

I walk away from the computer and the grading and the pressure to accomplish.
I walk away from the frustration of words, of not finding the ones that work, or having too much to say.
I walk away from the house, and the dishes, and the dogs begging for attention.
I open the door and walk down the steps, without music, or camera or notebook or phone.
I walk and my feet take on the rhythm of the road.
I feel my legs stretch, and I push myself into the joy of the movement.
I walk for my health.
I walk for myself.
The sun feels warm and bright and happy.
The breeze is strong, and pushes against me, but I walk stronger.
The wind howls through the trees, yet I am in a brief space of calm.
I walk by the grandfather and grandson clearing the yard.
“How are you?” he asks.
“I’m great!” I say, and I surprise myself because I mean it.
I walk by the grandmother and granddaughter walking a frisky puppy.
“He’ll jump on you,” she says.
“That’s OK,” I reply, and I smile.
I smile, and I smile, and I smile.
I walk and my smile grows, although nobody is there.
I walk away from the worry and rediscover

 My smile.

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