Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 In Review

onion cutting
I'll be honest.  When I first started thinking of my year in 2011, I thought of a good deal of hurt.  Under the surface, I'm not sure this was the easiest year I've ever had.  There were lots of different "me"s fighting with each other over what was and what should be and what was to come.  A lot of onion-peeling, if you will.  So, when I first started thinking about the year, this is where my mind went... to that hurt. But do you really want to remember a year that way?

So I dug deeper.  And when I did, I found that there was so much more in my year than I initially remembered, and it's made 2011 a year to be proud of living.

I got a dog who has become a much-loved and completely-spoiled part of our family.
I read a bunch of good books.
I learned to linedance.
I took a lot of trips with my best friend and never once saw the sunset. (Here's to 2012!!!)
I saw more concerts (and more varied!) than I've ever seen in one year.
I celebrated my 15th wedding anniversary.
I started writing again.
I watched a LOT of college football.
I discovered a new guilty pleasure in Once Upon A Time (marathon January 1st at 4pm on ABC!!)

I saw my family often, enjoying quality time with my folks, and my two sisters.
I rediscovered old music that I still love but hadn't listened to for a long time.
I made a lot of good memories with my kids.
I lost my grandpa.

I dealt with hurt and disappointment, both new and old.
I was convicted of things I was allowing myself to do
I listened to the people who loved me enough to say No
I found my self-respect
I grew in strength and wisdom

That's more than just hurt...  that's a year full of goodness.

May I be able to say the same of 2012...

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Let it go...

Last week, I took a trip to Wenatchee to pick some things up from my step-grandmother, Pat.  My girls sat in the house watching iCarly and not breaking anything, while I went out to the garage/office/thing to gather the things I'd come to pick up. 

Maybe she's just old and lonely, I don't know.  But as we rifled through things, she was talking about things that happened in the past.  Years and years ago, there had been some sort of legal/money trouble related to some dealings they'd had with my mom's cousin...  20 years ago, maybe?

As I offered the listening ear and the "smile and nod," I just thought about how sad that all was.  It was clearly something that she, and perhaps my grandfather when he was still alive, was still upset over, still went over and over in their heads, drumming up new anguish and indignation over.  I don't know enough about the situation to know who's right and who's wrong, but in the end... I'm not sure it really mattered 20 years later.

In fact... I'm sure it didn't, and it just seemed so unfortunate that it was still something that needed venting so long after it happened.

But don't a lot of us do the same thing? Someone wrongs us, someone's mean to us, someone does something that is so heinous that we don't think we can forgive it... and we don't ever let it go.  Every time the pain or the anger of it starts to fade, we do something, think something, say something that stirs it all back up again.  That kind of thing can eat away at your soul... eat away who you are, erode the good parts of you until you're just left with a shell of bitterness where a person with a good heart used to reside.

Sometimes we just have to let things go.  Otherwise, they will strangle and drown us.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Bravery

I don't remember what the action was, but I remember what was said afterward.  Casey had done something which required stepping outside of her comfort zone.

I took her aside and told her, "I want you to know that I'm really proud of you for what you did.  It was very brave, and that's a big deal."

conquering the dragon
"Mom, I wasn't brave at all," she protested. "I was really scared to do it."

"Baby, being brave isn't about not being afraid. Being brave is about being afraid but doing what you're afraid of, anyway.  The fact that you were scared doesn't make you not-brave.  But the fact that you did it EVEN THOUGH you were afraid?  That makes you brave."

It takes strength of mind and heart and a core of faith to step over what we are afraid of to get to the other side.  It's a lot easier to play over on this side of the fear... fear of the unknown, fear of reaction, fear of the dragon waiting for us.  It's safer.  We know what's over here and it requires nothing from us.

But facing the fear and doing what we fear anyway, despite what COULD happen, that takes bravery and strength.  Even if we cower on the inside while we're doing it, taking the action makes us brave.  It makes us conquerors.

Is it possible that doing the things we fear can come back to bite us?  Yes.  Can they make us hurt?  Yes.  But it's also possible to climb over the fear, to do what we thought would be impossible, and to look back and say "You had no power over me."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

I want to count.

"I just want to do something that counts."

It was a sentiment I heard often when I was a teenager in high school, when the most important thing we ever did was study for today's history test.  Then, it was something I heard when I was in my 20s, and we were all caught up in the quest to fall in love and change the world.  Then, it was something I heard when I was in my 30s and we were all just a bit lost in mothering and wife-ing, and we forgot who we were.  And it won't surprise me much if it's a sentiment I hear from around me as I enter into my 40s...  those many, many, many, many years down the road. *cough*

We want to matter.  We desire to count.  We don't want to get to the end of our lives, or even the end of each phase of our life, just to find out that we just spent the last 10, 20, 50 years not-mattering.

But, I think that somewhere along the way, we get a funny idea of what that means.  We start to buy into the idea that only the big things matter, that the only way to matter is to be the best at whatever you're good at.  The most successful writer, the best actor, the most successful singing career.  The Teacher of the Year, the cover of Forbes magazine, the one that everyone around says "I want to be like her."

We miss something when we go there.

It's an oft-told story of the man throwing back the starfish.  There he is, on a beach full of hundreds and hundreds of starfish, and he walks along the beach throwing them back into the ocean, one by one. Another man comes along and says, "Why are you throwing the starfish back into the ocean?  The tide is coming in and there's no way you'll be able to save them all.  You can't possibly make that much of a difference."  The first man bends down and picks up another starfish.  He looks at it thoughtfully and then throws it into the ocean.  "It made a difference to that one."

Our culture tells us that being the biggest and best is the way to achieve success, the way to matter, the way to count.

My heart tells me that starting small, and touching who I can with what I have matters more... whether that's the harrowed mom at Target, or the little old lady who needs help putting her groceries in her car, or the young husband looking befuddled at the 12 different kinds of flour and which one he's supposed to bring to his wife.

Every one of those counts.  When you live a life where you look to count in the small ways, I think you'll end up counting more than you ever could have if you had only gone for the big ones.

So when your heart cries out that it just wants to do something that counts, look around you and find a starfish.

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Photo Credit: Cielo de la Paz

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Barn For Lease

"BARN FOR LEASE"

In the practically-middle-of-nowhere, halfway between Duvall and Carnation, WA (6500 and 1700 population, respectively), there is a Chevron station.  Sharing the parking lot of said Chevron station, there sits a large red barn with this sign atop its roof.

Not THE barn.
I want it.

The barn.

I want the barn.

I don't know why.

I have no need for a barn.

My largest livestock is a beagle who prefers sleeping under the covers of my bed.

I think, "That would be a cute place for an antique store... or a restaurant... or a hick dance club."

I'm sure it's a completely viable location for a thriving business, sitting there in the middle of nowhere. *cough*

But I want it.

Monday, December 12, 2011

A tug-o-war of thoughts

Something I've been thinking on with absolutely no conclusions...   Today is not a 'complete thought' sort of day, but you can come along while I think.

Sometimes I feel pulled between two seemingly-conflicting mindsets:

1.  "It's not the people that stand by your side when you're at your best, but the ones who stand beside you when you're at your worse that are your true friends."

2.  "Life is too short to spend time with people who suck the happiness out of you. If someone wants you in their life, they'll make room for you. You shouldn't have to fight for a spot. Never, ever insist yourself to someone who continuously overlooks your worth... The most painful thing is losing yourself in the process of loving someone too much, and forgetting that you are special, too."

I believe both of these.  I believe in the kind of love where you stand by your friends and loved ones, even when they're stupid and kinda don't deserve it.  I want to be that kind of friend, and I have friends who are that person to me.  When you have that kind of people in your life, you want to be that kind of people, too.  Though I often fall short of who I want to be and the kind of friend I want to be, I keep trying.

But... I find the flipside, too, to be something to be believed in.  There comes a point in your relationships where you have to take an honest look and accept that the people you love don't also love you.  When you get there, you have to take the hard step and leave it behind.  It hurts to do that.  For so long, you live in a place of "things could be different if only..."  But, you can't live in if-only's, and there is always a place where you have to have more respect for yourself than you've been giving. You have to be able to get to a place where you can assert, "I'm worth more than this" and act on it.

The tug-o-war between these two ties me in knots sometimes.  I suppose the biggest question mark is just knowing when "standing by in love" becomes "being a doormat."  I want the former. I don't want the latter.  But sometimes my desires to be a good friend and my beliefs in respecting yourself just leave me feeling conflicted and confused.

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Photo Credit: Bev Sykes


Friday, December 9, 2011

2-Minute Freewrite: Used

It's a hard thing to feel used.  That moment when you take honest stock of the situation and realize you've been stupid and gullible?  Not a happy one.  Mostly, I think you just feel embarrassed at first.  In retrospect, it seems so clear...

For awhile, the natural response, after the embarrassment fades, is one of anger.  How could they do that to you?  How dare they treat you that way, have so little respect for you and your thoughts and your feelings, so little care for what you were?  You stay there for awhile...  There is a bit of satisfaction and vindication in the anger and the revenge and the retaliation, even if those things never get past the imagination stage.

But, there comes a point where you have to stop allowing yourself to play the part of the victim... because it's not quite honest.  Eventually, the goal will become healing and growth and wisdom learned and moving on.  When that's your goal, the anger cannot be where you stay, and you have to get up and look in the mirror.  You have to take a good hard look at, not just the situation, but yourself.  And you have to admit that you had a choice.  Were things done to you?  Yes... and they weren't right.  But, somewhere along the way, you had a choice and you chose to devalue yourself enough that using you was a possibility.

You have to own that choice.

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Photo Credit: Petr Mika
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