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The Mask

9 Oct

mask Stepping onto the scene of the masquerade ball, my mask broadly smiling with dimples in my cheeks, long lashes and painted lips. I dance until my feet tire.  My belly hungry for connection.

With the setting sun, I wrap up the sum of my day and eat it for dinner.  The taste not quite what I desire but I chew it anyway.  Swallowing slowing, drinking between bites, so as not to choke on the pieces.

My mind craving light. I search for it in the history of the hours previous, flipping through the words, the movements, allowing  space for kindness.  But finding myself standing alone on the porch, my offering brought inside, the door closed behind.

I turn and walk home, sadness riding on my shoulders.

The mask that  previously fit like a glove has become a bit lose lately. The elastic stretched and fraying. It is possible that I’ve outgrown the mold from which it was formed. Afraid it will fall off at the most inopportune time, exposing the pink skin beneath, I keep my movements small. Contained.

Working to replace what is worn , I try to fashion the mask into something usable.  My spirit prolonging the effort…mobility slowed. It is conflicted.  Uncertain if it should repair or remove, noting that each presents its own challenges. Undecided as to which is worse….Which it can endure.

The road is quickly disappearing beneath me…. Road

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Put me in coach

3 Oct

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I don’t like sitting on the side lines. I’m an “ALL IN” or “nothing” kind of girl.

I want to be on the team and I want to participate in EVERY game.

….or I want to go home and put on my pajamas.

IN or OUT

Piece by piece, I devour the play book..over and over… I study until I find gaps. Then I work to fill them…My appetite for dissecting strategy never wanes. Every nugget feeding my passion to learn.

I want on the team but my ego isn’t comfortable being center stage. In fact, I’m a bit skittish to be the pitcher. All eyes focused on his windup. A collective gasp from the stands, releasing only when the ball meets the catcher’s glove.  His choice of pitches are constantly questioned by those not wearing a uniform.  Their voice loud as it drifts through the stands and onto the diamond.

In baseball, there is no possible way to win the game with an inadequate pitcher. If they are having an ‘off‘ night, they get pulled. Often in the middle of the inning, forcing a walk of shame back to the dug out. Not before, however, a seemingly supportive one-on-one with the coach.  Backs turned to on lookers, I often wonder what they are saying….How do you publicly tell one of your premiere players it is time to sit down now….. As a player, how do you handle that with grace?

It is a tough position to play.

I would not sign up for the whole world to witness that. In fact, I’ve spent most of my life avoiding the walk of shame… like the plague….

The catcher is required to wear so much protective equipment, he barely can move.  Leg guards, knee savers, a heavily padded leather glove the size of a dinner plate, vision limited by a cage protecting his face. Which is no doubt further limited by the sweat dripping from his brow. They are outfitted for a fight…. Some would say that I rarely back down…they could be right. However, I never go looking for it.  No, this position doesn’t sound appealing to me.

I’m happiest on first base. It calls my name.

First base has a foot hold in the action but also has a bit of distance from the voices in the stands. He doesn’t rest idly waiting for a play. He is in the game, with every swing of the bat.  Multitasking is a must, monitoring all of the bases for movement with each and every hit.  Thinking instantaneously,  maneuvering nimbly and with out hesitation, he eagerly awaits the ball in play.

As my cleats hit the clay, I realize I’m also desperate to not miss my opportunity at bat.

In the batting cages, I’m perfecting my swing, my stance.  Striking out is not an option. I’m simply not patient enough to wait for the bating order to come around to me again….That is a whole lot of sitting and a whole lot of waiting.

I wasn’t made to be a bench warmer.

With diligence and the right amount of preparation, I’ll be ready when the pitch rolls down the plate.  Hearing my bat kiss the face of the ball, splitting the air like the sharpest of knives, I’ll shoot my  hands in the air for the victory lap.

When the inning turns over, I’ll resume my spot on first base.  Scanning the field every few seconds to analyze the players of game, mindful of the ever changing strategy.

When it is quiet, and honesty rises to the surface, I want in the game.

ALL IN.

Put me in coach, I’m ready to play.

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I am… who I say I am

22 Sep

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Guilty. I’m guilty of allowing the heaviness of outside opinions to penetrate who I know myself to be. Sometimes I alter my expression to suit…More often than not, I  permit their words to sink into my spirit, fueling the voice that sets my limitations. Somehow I believe they must see clearer than I do. From their perch, they can detect the real me.

The truth is, everyone judges each other. It is human nature.  It is how we categorize…What we choose to pursue. What we choose to walk away from…. We peer through our own spectacles, tainted by the dusty roads we’ve left behind, to evaluate each situation, opportunity and character trait.

We assess what is ‘good’ and ‘bad’ from the vantage point of our own road, yet we are interpreting your circumstance.

Recently, when faced with the betrayal of unflattering chatter, I tossed this idea around a bit. Juggling each side, inspecting closely for authenticity. Contemplating what I should allow to stay and what  I’ll toss out with last week’s trash.

Conclusion?

Perception is not truth. It is a feeling.

Feelings are finicky and often power hungry.

Perception, without the knowledge and understanding of intention, is dangerous.

This isn’t to say that we should turn our back on feedback. Feedback can be enlightening and helpful, for sure. When accepting feedback, consider the source, the voice and the value it brings to your life. Know that you get to decide where it be housed. Will it find its way to the top shelf of your thoughts? Or will you dismiss it from your arena?

Just because someone says it, it doesn’t always make it true.

Taking off my mirrored shades, the light is blinding. Slipping on a cute, introspective pair, my view is a bit rosier….and free of those thoughts that no longer serve me.

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Dream Weaver

15 Sep

Intricately spun with precision. Moving diligently with perfection and grace as it crosses, then descends.  It is an unequaled masterpiece.  I stop to gaze; amazed by the ability of such a small creature to weave so beautifully.  Elegantly trapping her dinner…the Martha Stewart of nature.  Perched high on my toes, I tilt my head to the left, and then the right, analyzing the design nestled between two trees. All while keeping watch on the moving spider inside.

Twice this week, while walking through trails, I’ve passed two colossal banana spiders. Often painted with brightly colored bodies, stripped leggings, and spanning the width of my palm, they are quite the sight.  Scary because of their size, they command attention. I willingly give it to them, watching with childlike curiosity.

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Both weavers ironically were in the same predicament. Working feverishly, you could see the anticipation as the web bounced with movement.  Wrapping, spinning, scurrying up and down the silk lines they drew the day before. No doubt, salivating over the meal they were so hungry to devour.

As I watched from a distance, a twinge of sorrow swept over me.  For all their effort, they deserved a meal made for a queen. But it wasn’t there. It wasn’t in their web.

No.  A fallen brown leaf, had become tangled. Twisting in the wind, it gave the impression of life.  She worked as if it were true.

Both times I thought, “I wonder if they know they are working on a leaf” Surely not.

Shrugging, realizing I was unable to assist…If I tried, the potential of damaging the web was high. Pulling her farther from her only goal, satisfying hunger. She would have to rebuild, spending even more energy…No, that wasn’t fair. I could only watch with the hope she realized her mistake quickly.

With nothing more for me to do, I continued my walk wondering how many times in our lives,   —-  read here  < In my life > —  , are we working so hard to accomplish the things we think we need? What we think we want?  Putting in long hours, wearing ourselves out, spending time fruitlessly, going into spiritual debt….working….spinning….

Only for someone, with the clarity of distance to say, “I wonder if she knows that is just a ….leaf?” Having the same realization that we must do this alone. Forced to watch as we flounder, expending unnecessary energy in an area that will not serve us. Prayerfully they are hoping we “get” it sooner than later.

Simultaneously I was aware that I’ve felt this way many times watching my children…If only I could make their path straighter, clear of debris…easy…Yet I know…I know… it doesn’t work that way. They are better equipped for their next bump when they muscle through today’s struggle.

I wonder how many times God looks down at our choices and responds the same way?

“It is only a leaf dear girl…move along. I have greater things planned for you.” 

Choose Joy

6 Sep

 

Nehemiah 8:10 for the joy of the Lord is your strength. Love the colors, too!

Rain is always cold to the skin, despite the temperature outside. The two do not run tandem.

I’m not sure when I last played in the rain. Yoga in the rain, well that is simply awesome. Wet yoga on a freshly manicured outfield of baseball stadium…well that leaves me thunderstruck.

Our master yogi was young, humorous, pretty, and blond. She set the intention for this class within the first few moments of turning on her mic. Joy. To find joy on this day, in this place. Despite the chance we may find ourselves in a down pour. Our time, our energy was not lost because of our circumstances. We would find joy within the chaos and hopefully utilize this lesson in our every day life. I chuckled…It seemed a bit

dramatic.

At first the sprinkles were intermittent, barely kissing my skin. The sun, when peering through the billows of gray, was hotter than expected. Way hotter, like sear the skin off the bone hot. I realized, while holding downward dog, that I had not adequately prepared for the day. Rain would be a relief.

Looking up to find our instructor on the jumbo tron, my eyes stop on the lady in front of me wearing white pants and possessing a pillow of white hair atop her head. She was in her late sixties, maybe seventies. Fierce. (You have to be fierce to wear WHITE yoga pants!) While in a wide legged forward bend, with superb control and presision, she popped up into a handstand. Take my word for it. That is talent! Of the crowd of eighty or so, only four made the attempt. She was the only one with solid white hair.

The shower increased, making the easiest of poses, more extreme. My arms slipping off my legs. Eyes blinded by the mascara I applied with care earlier. Yet instead of frustration, or the need to compete with the amazing white pants in front of me, I found laughter. Laughter in the awe of the experience. Laughter because I’m well past the conventionally acceptable age to play in the rain. Yet, that was EXACTLY what I was doing.

Eventually, the sky opened up, claiming the day, causing our class to end ten minutes early. There was no use running to my car. Every inch of my body was already soaked. I tossed my flip flops and walked back barefoot avoiding rocks, openly laughing, squealing loudly as the rain picked up force.

I had no idea upon leaving my house this morning that I would find pure joy in the most obscure way. It wasn’t part of my expectation.

It shows that you can never predict where you will learn your next life lesson. You can only be open to the opportunity.

Mine?

You are never to old to play in the rain…to do yoga…on the outfield of a baseball stadium.

Be unconventional.

Learning to let the world around me to be whatever it needs to be: chaotic, rumbling, boisterous, wet….Somehow finding my inner peace, calmness and humor in the mist of it all. The outside can not influence the inside…unless I allow it.

Liberating.

Listen to me

30 Aug

“Does Anybody Hear Her” –  Lyrics by Casting Crowns

She is running
A hundred miles an hour in the wrong direction ….

So she sets out on another misadventure just to find
She’s another two years older
And she’s three more steps behind

She is yearning
For shelter and affection
That she never found at home
She is searching
For a hero to ride in
To ride in and save the day
And in walks her prince charming
And he knows just what to say
Momentary lapse of reason
And she gives herself away…..

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OEhRucEVzH8 (For the full video)

Every single time I hear those lyrics my heart aches, a punch in the gut, my head falls to my chest. It is all to familiar.

At a luncheon last week, someone asked what advice would I give to my 16 year old self, if I could.

Since I was already pregnant at 16…my first thought was to SCREAM: DON’T DO IT!!! However, while my choice certainly altered my path, the sum of my life is much bigger than that one moment.

When I stand on a cliff, look down and flip back through my days, a theme jumps out of the monotony. Hindsight is always 20/20. . Rush, rush, rush….always in a hurry … to grow up, to hit the next mile stone…to get married…to buy a house.. to get to the next big thing…..

“Running a hundred miles per hour “

Now that I am in the last year of my 30’s I realize how silly that appears. WHAT was/is my hurry? Never satisfied I jumped from one thing to the next, thinking that would bring the satisfaction I hoped for. As a recovering perfectionist, I now know that never allowed myself to savor any accomplishment….Almost instantaneously, my thoughts would turn on me… I could have always done it better, smarter, faster…the list never ends and it was on constant replay. I was my own worst enemy.  Smiling on the outside, waging war on the inside.

So what would I tell my sixteen year old self?

To slow the hell down.

There is plenty of time for you, dear girl. Your focus should be to get it right instead of just getting it done. Enjoy where you are. Keep the negativity at bay and the rest will fall into place. It is easier than it seems.  Life doesn’t have to be so hard for it to be right.

Thankfully, one of the benefits of gray hair and fine lines is that it also comes with wisdom. This discernment is not lost on me. I am abundantly thankful to be able to reflect and review, possessing the ability and desire to refine.

Conscious that my time on this planet is more limited than before, it is my hope that my next thirty-nine years will be slower, more intentional. Don’t get me wrong. I honestly don’t have regrets. I truly love my life.  Even in the chaos, I quite like who I am, realizing it is culmination of all of my experiences. I only plan to use what I’ve learned to create the best possible, most fulfilling, future.

To make the most of ALL my days.

I am not who I was.

I am a work in progress.

I sincerely enjoy the process.

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Values

12 Aug

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Most people would readily say, “Yes, of course, I have values!”

If pressed to explain how you experience those core beliefs, well that is a bit more complicated.

Defining the shape of your values is said to provide harmony between your mind, body, and spirit.  The idea is, the more you align your choices with your moral compass,  the happier and more satisfied you will become.

Happier? More Satisfied?  Yes, Please! Where do I sign up?

 

VALUE – noun

1) the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.

2)a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

 

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I’m very verbal. I communicate with ease. Yet, I found this process extremely laborious….What pained me the most is that I didn’t know why. Presented with a laundry list of key words to  get my juices flowing and construct my top six, I froze.

Deer in the headlights.

 My eyes skimmed over the pages, looking for a word to snag, as if fishing in one of those stocked fish farms. All of the words gasping at the surface for an opportunity to be chosen. If they didn’t leap out at me, why? Shouldn’t they be important too?  Pressure….

I started this assignment…several times…without headway…

Why was this so difficult.  Of course I have morals and ethics, right???

Diving deeper, I wondered what it meant to “experience values”? Was I allowing my moral compass to direct and organize my life?   Or, was it residing in a dusty file cabinet, under the dim flickering lights of a back room  that I only visited when in dire straits?….I knew they were there…but how often was I pulling them out to review? I thought I was living out loud, but maybe I wasn’t….Ah-haaaa….

Abandoning the official list,  I allowed my heart to take the lead to illustrate and craft what this all means to me.

Her voice is ALWAYS the one that speaks the loudest.

The truth is, I realized there were times that I was ALL in and others, that I simply wasn’t.  If the goal is to utilize your core beliefs in every decision, I should consult with her more often.  Investing in this relationship is imperative.  Her voice can’t be submerged by the day to day hustle and bustle, but so engrained that it rolls off my tongue with ease.

She holds the key to more happiness and satisfaction.

She is kind of a big deal.

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At the end of this project my list consisted of :

Balance, Family, Growth, Faith, Happiness, Kindness.

I am a work in progress.

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