“Letting Go...Embracing Change...”
Living the Life I Dream
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?...
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell My oldest is a Marine. He’s been in for three and a half years. His contract is for five. He spent most of the first year training. The next two years he was far...
“What I do know is that if we open fully to these moments, there is something exquisite wrought in the heart.” – Kathleen Prophet Most mornings I wake up long before the sun rises, throw on my Altras, and take my dog, Roxanne,...
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?.” – Marianne Williamson.
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.” – Ananis Nin
To say I despise bucket lists would be an understatement. For years, I refused to even consider making one. Maybe it’s the fact that everyone and their aunt’s mother’s brother has one. Maybe it’s the fact they all contain the same trite items. I don’t know. The whole thing just bothers me, a lot. It feels insincere and inauthentic. It feels wrong.
Does everyone really want to skydive? I know hurling myself out of an perfectly good aircraft has no appeal to me. Then there’s running a marathon which I’d be willing to bet shows up on ninety percent of all bucket lists made. Why bother? Anything over ten miles is more an exercise in proper hydration and fueling.
With all this swirling in my mind, I sat down about two years ago and began making what I decided to call a “dream list.” Yes, I thought I was being clever by giving it another name. Any-who…my intention was to only populate it with things that I really cared about accomplishing. That way it wouldn’t turn into another sucky bucket list.
Occasionally over the past two years, I’ve taken it out and “dreams” were added and deleted. Each time I just felt really uncomfortable with the whole stupid process. For goodness sake, I was raised to eat my feelings and run from my dreams. I was not raised to make lists of super cool stuff I wanted to do, and I definitely wasn’t raised to talk about it.
So, while I resisted the overwhelming urge to dig a big hole in which to bury myself, I had to ask why I was so afraid. After some serious contemplation, I realized I have some firmly held beliefs at my core that are feeding my deep-seated fears.
I realized I believe that nice girls are practical and do what is expected of them and they like it or else. I realized I believe nice girls don’t have dreams; they don’t want things. Wanting things is just plain greedy. Nice girls aren’t greedy.
Mostly, I realized I believe nice girls must remain hidden. We have to stay small. I also realized I just don’t think I really deserve awesome or wonderful or great. Nice girls take average and ordinary and they’re o.k. with that. God forbid I not be a nice girl.
But I also realized that by being a nice girl, I’m allowing my dreams, my life, to slip away.
So, I’m pulling out the old dream list and brushing it off. I’m taking a deep breath, searching my soul, and writing down every single thing I’ve ever wanted to do. To the average and everyday goals, I’m adding every crazy, insane, over the top thing I can conjure. I’m weighing each carefully, editing thoughtfully, and making sure that what’s left is stuff that really resonates with me.
I’m doing this for me and at some point, I will publish it. Laugh if you will. Bottom line, I have the right to be seen and heard. I have the right to succeed. Most of all, I have the right to have awesome and wonderful and great.
I’m also doing this for my kids. I talk to them all the time about living great, big, giant lives. I encourage them to search their souls for what lights them up and to walk to the beat of their own drum. Talk is cheap. The best way to lead is always from the front.
And no, I still have no desire to jump from a plane. I am; however, reconsidering the marathon. It is my list after all.Read More
“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” – Thomas Campbell
My oldest is a Marine. He’s been in for three and a half years. His contract is for five. He spent most of the first year training. The next two years he was far from home on the island of Okinawa. This made me extremely happy. Not that he was so far away, but because if you’re already overseas, you’re probably not going to be deployed.
Zak is a tactical data network specialist. That’s Marine slang for computer nerd. When people hear this, they immediately assume that he will be tucked away safe in some air conditioned office stateside for the duration of his military career. I wish this were true.
What they fail to understand is that every Marine is a rifleman first. What that means is that a Marine, whether he is a grunt on the front lines, a cook, or a computer nerd, is expected to always be ready to fight. Combat readiness for every Marine is serious business. The other thing I think they fail to understand is that Marines use computers to communicate, and all Marines, especially the ones risking their lives on the front lines, depend on the technology Zak has mastered.
As a tech guy he is “attached” to battalion. In Okinawa, he was attached to a battalion whose motto was something along the lines of “we get as close to the enemy as we can and blow it up.” Not really comforting stuff for a mama. Luckily, while he was with them, there wasn’t much that needed blowing up. Now he’s attached to infantry. Those are the men trained to fight face-to-face on the front lines. His battalion operates in some of the most dangerous areas in the world.
Where they go, he goes, and they are going to be deployed.
For the past three and half years, I have worked diligently to block deployment from my mind. I’ve prayed many a prayer that the politicians in Washington would decide it was time to pull all our troops before my son could be sent. No such luck.
Zak and I talk and text from time to time, but he doesn’t say much. He gives me information in small bits and pieces. I could blame the Marines, but it’s always been this way with Zak. What I do get from him is that they are all working crazy long hours training. Zak says he is looking forward to it, but it’s with the focus and the tension of a fighter getting ready to step into the ring. He answers my questions, but his eyes are forward, unblinking, looking towards the job that has to be done.
Where his attention flows, mine follows. I’m his mother. It’s not a choice.
As the deployment looms large, I’ve had no choice but to open my eyes. First, there were the emails from the family readiness officer. Next, there was the task of connecting with private groups for Marine parents. Then, today, there was a post. It was in honor of the Marines of the battalion my son belongs to who died during their last deployment.
Today it got real.
Yes, I know Zak is more likely to be killed in a car wreck or by pulling some crazy stunt that twenty somethings find endlessly amusing. I know that most Marines come home safe and sound and live long, happy and productive lives. I know Zak is more than well-trained to do the job he needs to do. I also know he is walking into this situation willingly with the most bad-ass-well-trained-big-hearted-men who walk the planet.
But as I look at the sweet faces of the ones who gave their lives, as I gaze into their smiling eyes, all I can think about is the lives that will not be lived. And my heart breaks for the moms and dads and brothers and sisters and wives and children left behind. And the only face I really see is the face of my son.
Say what you will, but I carried him in my belly for nine long months, and I’ve loved him with my whole heart for over twenty long years. I don’t want him to go. I don’t want any of them to go.
I don’t have a choice.
Instead I’ll do what I can. I’ll love and support my son. I’ll pray for him and every Marine with him. I’ll hold tight to the belief that they will all remain safe and come home to the love of family and friends to live the lives they dream of living.
Note: I’ve not been given any dates or locations. At this point everything is on a need to know basis. The Marines don’t think I need to know and I’m rolling with that.Read More
“What I do know is that if we open fully to these moments, there is something exquisite wrought in the heart.” – Kathleen Prophet
Most mornings I wake up long before the sun rises, throw on my Altras, and take my dog, Roxanne, on an hour long walk. Sometimes we go longer but never a minute shorter. She needs to burn off the energy. She’s a German Shepherd bred to spend days herding whatever needs to be herded. Being cooped up in suburbia is not to her liking.
We walk in silence my dog and I. Side by side we cut through the predawn chill. In between houses and trees, I search for signs of the lightening sky. Roxanne carefully scours the terrain of our sleeping neighborhood. Alert to every movement, she is ever watchful for any danger that might present itself.
As I move through the darkness, I express my gratitude one item at a time for all the wonderful that fills my life. As the sky begins to gray, I affirm whatever needs affirming. Finally, as the gray turns to light, I pray for those I love and for those who do everything they can to be unlovable. I also ask for a little patience for myself.
Everything, and I do mean everything, is going extremely well. I’m happy, happy in what I would quantify as delirious levels of happiness. The husband and the kids are thriving and making progress in their own pursuits. My j-o-b is good and other projects I’m working on are starting to take form and shape.
In spite of this, I feel extremely raw. I feel invisible and voiceless. I feel pressed. There are so many things stirring deep inside and try as I might I can’t share them. Not because I don’t want to, but because I can’t find the words to adequately express the feelings.
Once again I’m on the edge of an abyss and I know, I KNOW the only way to get to the other side is to go through it. There is no way around. THERE. IS. NO. WAY. AROUND. I always have to option of sitting here, stuck forever in this funk, and pretending that everything is great. That’s not the life I want. Instead, I will step into the unknown, into what I can’t see but can only feel, into the darkness I can’t yet name.
I spent years, too many years, stuck, afraid, and refusing to budge but no more. I will let go of all the crap that will slow me down and hold me back. I will lean forward and move into this unknown with eyes wide open. I will deal with whatever needs to be dealt with. I will go through it.
The first time was the scariest. I thought I was going to die. I learned that not only could they not eat me, they could not kill me either and regardless of the outcome, lessons were learned. I was better for the experience.
The only way to get through it is to go through it. There are no shortcuts.
Part of me feels like I need to hide. I won’t. Part of me wants respite, but there will be none of that until I’m on the otherside. So, I will continue to stand tall and be seen even as I move closer to this darkness, as I drop into the abyss, as I move through the deep darkness to the otherside.
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“Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together.” – Vincent Van Gogh
I may be bucking a recent trend here, but I have no problem with busy. Personally, I like having lots of things to do, and it is a proven fact that busy people get stuff done. I like people who do stuff. People who do stuff are interesting.
I have no problem staying busy. Between the husband/house/kids/job and everything else I have going on, I can keep myself busy 24/7. I am aware; however, that I can easily drop into a mindless vortex of busy for the sake of being busy. That’s a bad busy. Bad busy is not the kind of busy I want.
To combat bad busy, I made a long, long laundry list of goals I wanted to accomplish this year. I wanted to focus my busy on the things that mattered. This culminated in a daily checklist of some thirty-odd plus things I needed to do each and every day to reach these varied goals. It was daunting to say the least. So, as the hours turned into days and the days became weeks, I realized that while having it all may be a possibility, I’m probably not going to be able to make it all happen at the same time.
So, stuff got dumped.
Don’t worry. I didn’t just randomly begin to cross things off the list. I just started asking myself what’s really important to me right now. I started considering what things I can do today that will have the biggest impact on my tomorrow. For now, I eliminated every goal except for the following three:1. Being loving…not just towards others but towards myself as well, 2. Being fit…cause I have stuff to do and this old body has to drag me through another 50 years or so, and 3. Being fully engaged in meaningful work.
Choosing the good busy is not always easy. Honestly, it’s been tough from time to time. Just because I know it’s good for me, just because I know it supports my goals, doesn’t mean that doing it is effortless. I still have to push and prode myself to do the right thing. Can anybody say resistance?
Sometimes, I falter and I choose bad busy. I fill my day with activities that don’t support my goals. I putz around completing meaningless tasks, I eat the candy, I snap at the kid, or I watch some mindless comedy that makes me smile. I’m human and prone to error. It’s what I do next that matters most and what I do is:1. Allow myself to feel bad, for one hot second, 2. Look hard and long at what contributed to my moment of weakness, 3. Make a real plan for doing better, and 4. Then I forgive myself and mean it and let it go and move on.
As Scarlett O’Hara said, “tomorrow is another day.” As Oprah says, “when you know better you do better.”
We all know that in the end it’s just about showing up everyday and doing what needs to be done. It doesn’t matter if it’s cold or hot or if we’re tired or not. When we commit, especially to our dreams, we need to be committed.
I’m asking myself over and over and over again does this thought, this behavior, and this activity support my goals. What I’m finding is I’m becoming more focused on being good busy. Letting go of bad busy is becoming easier.
As the hours turned into days and the days became weeks, I’m starting to see little tiny slivers of progress. As I consistently show up and make right choices, I find making right choices becomes easier.
So, don’t believe them when they say all busy is bad. Busy for the sake of being busy, busy that distracts from a happy life and achieving meaningful goals, is bad busy. It should be avoided. Being busy with things we love, people who matter, and stuff that counts, being busy reaching for goals we’ve set is good busy. It should be embraced.
It’s still true that busy people get stuff done. The world needs people intent on being good busy. The world needs people who are busy being happy and busy reaching for their dreams. So, let’s go get busy filling our days with the good busy.