Saturday, June 30, 2012

The Desert and the Monster




September 2003

I'm lost. I can't find home if I ever had one. I feel like I've been on this journey for months and months with no end in sight. It's late, but I'm hungry. So hungry. Looking for something to eat, just a nibble, to hold me over until the next time my stomach's needs threaten to overtake me with wrenching pain. I come to a black strip of desert. How I hate these. There are evil creatures that frequent these deserts. Monsters that come upon you when you least expect it. Loud, obnoxious, life-stealing. Sometimes you could beat them at their own game. Escape them. But, I'd heard tales of how they could best you. Easily. I'd seen the devastation that they caused. Yes, I hate the deserts. And I hate the monsters more. But, they are everywhere and you have to trust your luck.

My eyes peer through the darkness, looking ahead, right and left. Checking behind me. But, for now, all I see is the dark and the lights beckon me forward. I take a breath and make a break for it. Oh please, let me make it! A quarter of the way. A third of the way. I'm almost halfway there. I can hear? feel? my heart beat in my head with a frantic tribal beat. Halfway there, oh, I'm HOMEFREE!!!!!

I take another step and my worst fears come to light. One of the creatures whips around a corner that I didn't see. He was probably lying in wait for me, just daring me to come out of hiding and brave his domain. What do I do? Oh what do I do? I never understood the panic, the confusion, the horror and terror that would rush over you at this moment when every step could be your last. When you are so frightened, you don't know which way is up or down or sideways. I don't even know what direction I WAS going, much less what direction I should go now! I spin around and make a dash back toward safety.

The wrong way. CRUNCH. There is darkness. Total darkness.

--written by the cat I accidentally ran over on Thursday



Friday, June 29, 2012

A Simple Thought

I come to you with a simple thought today... brought to you through the words of a friend, shared with me during a time that my heart was really hurting.
There are people in this world who just feel good when they are hurting others. We can't be like that. Sometimes the best thing we can do when we are hurt, or when those we love are being attacked, is to hold our heads high and exert as much kindness as we can find.

A simple thought.
Sometimes hard to live out.
But one of the best lessons I've learned.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Thursday Tales: June 17th



Dalia sat in the middle of her bed, wrapped in a fluffy white bathrobe, and stared at the dress across the room.  The fabric was a creamy white with champagne-colored flowers sewn around the bodice and down the skirt.  She loved the way it skimmed her hips when she walked.  It wasn't the full poufy princess dress that she saw in the bridal magazines, but it was what she had picked for her wedding.

June 17th.  This was the day that she and Landon had selected for their wedding date, and June 17th was today.

Dalia thought back to the day she had first met Landon. The sun had shone that day, but a spring rain had fallen. She sat in a crowded coffeeshop, her college books strewn around her as she studied, when a handsome young man with brown hair that curled just so over his forehead asked if he could sit with her.  That had been the beginning.  He had smiled down at her, and her heart had been lost.

She stood now and let the robe fall from her shoulders.  Stepping naked to the dress, she shimmied into it, once more revelling in the way the fabric slid over her skin.  She stepped into the matching shoes.  Then, she sat on the bed and waited.

A knock on the door sounded, and her sister's voice asked, "Dally?  Are you ready?"

"I'm ready," she answered. "Come in."

The door cracked, and her sister Kelly peeked in.  "Oh Dally," her eyes widened.  "You can't wear that. You just... you can't."

Dalia stepped to the mirror, placed a black veil atop her head, and answered quietly. "I bought it for today. I will wear it for today."  She stepped past her sister without a glance and left the room.

June 17th was also the day of Landon's funeral.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Things I'm Grateful For: Second Chances

The chance to say "Well, we managed to kinda screw that up, didn't we?  Can we start again?"

And for them to say "Yes, we did... and I'd like that."

I'm grateful for that.  And in lots of different places.

It's comforting to know that sometimes when we mess up, it doesn't always have to mean the end.  There is grace. And there is forgiveness.

And there are new beginnings.




Thursday, June 21, 2012

Thursday Tales: The Porch Swing



"Morning, Sleepyhead," the deep voice came from above me.  I opened my eyes and peered up from where my head rested in Kyle's lap.  He was my best friend. He had been ever since we were six years old and I pushed him down at the sandbox.

"Morning."  The porch swing creaked in the morning quiet.  "How did I get here and why didn't you wake me up?"

"When I got home after everything last night, you were curled up here." He brushed a hair away from my cheek and tucked it behind my ear. "But, you looked so peaceful and angelic, it seemed cruel to wake you."

"Angelic?" I wasn't sure if he was making fun of me or not.  Sometimes it was hard to tell, even with as well as I knew him. But Kyle just looked off across the fields. He was still dressed in the dress shirt he'd been wearing the night before, his tie undone and resting around his neck. "What happened after I...?" I struggled into a sitting position and leaned against him.

"Ran off? Not much.  I hit Alex."

I started. "You hit him?  You did not."  Kyle held out his hands so I could see the scrapes on his knuckles. "Oh.  Well, did you hit him hard?" 


He let his arm fall around my shoulder and his fingers rested against the skin of my arm. "He hurt you, Kat. Damn straight I hit him hard."


I grinned at that. "You always do have my back."


"Always will."


I sighed.  My mom was going to be out for blood if I didn't show up at the breakfast table. "I have to get back."


"I know."  He helped me up from the swing and walked me down the stairs, snagging a flower from his folks' prized garden. "For you. As bright as your own heart." Before I could blink, he turned and kissed me.

An alarm and a voice in my head started going off. "He's your best friend! Warning!  Do not pass Go!"  But, all the other voices were just as insistent.  "Kissing.  Now, that's nice.  Just stay right here and don't say a word."

It wasn't a passionate kiss.  Not the kind you see in movies where they're knocking things off the wall and breaking furniture. But it was so full of tenderness and I found myself wanting him to wrap me in his arms and not ever let go.

"Kyle," I whispered.

He smiled.  "Go on home. And no tears for Alex.  He so isn't worth it."

Walking across the fields back to my house, I stopped and watched Kyle put the porch back in order before his folks came out.  He waved, and I thought... "Well, maybe."

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Worst Case Scenario



Do you ever worry about things that might happen? Not things that ARE going to happen or even PROBABLY are going to happen.  But just things that MIGHT happen.

A possible action comes into your head and your brain starts analyzing the possible results.  It could turn out really good... or it could be mediocre.  Or, there's that outside chance that taking that action would result in some catastrophic thing.  As you think about it and think about it, that possible minute-chance catastrophe becomes your mind's only possible outcome. You chicken out.  And all because of what MIGHT happen.

The worst-case scenario becomes the reason for inaction.

Why do we focus on that? I'll concede that there is a time and a place and a practicality to maintaining a realistic view of possible outcomes in life, and we'll talk about that on another day.

But, there is so much more out there in life than the worst-case scenario.  So many more possibilities... and truthfully?  Most of them are more likely than the worst-cases that we spend SO MUCH TIME worrying about.

Do you think we could let that go?  Spend less time worrying about the bad things that COULD happen, and more time planning for the good things that are likely to happen?  Embrace life's grand possibilities?

"What if this happens?"

Yes...  but what if it doesn't?

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

I'm Glad I... Learned to Cry


...Learned to Cry...

I used to hate to cry.

I can remember having fights with my dad as a teenager, and fighting so hard not to cry.  But, I would always fail... and then he would win the power struggle or the debate or the whatever-it-was.  My emotions would always betray me and I felt weak.

I would watch movies with my friends, and invariably I would find tears streaming down my face.  Sure, that made sense at the romantic climax, but then sometimes I'd find a particular line that struck me straight through the heart, and I'd find myself crying at that, too.  It became a "thing," you know, and something I was embarrassed about.  Why couldn't I control my tears?  I just got made fun of, and I hated them.

And then I grew up.


Years later, I still can't control my tears.  A book, a movie, a song. A TV show, a commercial. The older couple at the next table at the mall. The thought of losing someone I love, and the thought of getting them back. They all end in tears.  Not tears of sadness necessarily, just tears of emotion. I've cried at The Simpsons, for heavens sake.

I can't control them, but I've learned to embrace them.  Even as my children peer at me through the darkened movie theater at every barely-poignant moment and then whisper "Mom's crying again," I've learned to embrace the quickness to tears as a part of me.

I've accepted that I just feel deeply, that my emotions are easily triggered.  I will never be a great debater, my heart falls into it all much too easily.  But I am who you want if you have a book to sell, a movie to produce, or music to hawk.

I don't mind crying now.  Granted, it means I go through a lot of mascara and a lot of kleenex. But it is a small price to pay for knowing my heart is still alive and kicking.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Things I'm Grateful For: My Husband

One day, a young high school aged boy went to homecoming with his girlfriend.


And then they went to prom



And then they got married.



And then they made all these things


And then one day in June, when the girl had had a particularly stressful week, the boy took the day off from work, just to spend the day with her.  Cause he's awesome.





Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thursday Tales: Poison



The forest was thick. The sky was fading to dark.  The wall in front of me was smooth and high.  Very very high, and it seemed to stretch as far as the eye could see in both directions.  It would take me days to walk around it, and I didn't have days. My best friend, Reese, rested two miles back on the forest path, an arrow through his stomach, and the only medicine in this forest was on the other side of the wall.

"Caitlin, no," he'd protested.  But I couldn't just let the only friend I've ever known perish, could I?

I'd never been on the other side of the wall. I don't think I even knew anyone who had, but the tales and legends of magic and medicine were known to us all.  But how to get through?  I couldn't get around it.  There were no gates, and the surface was as smooth as polished stone. I didn't think I could climb it, either.

Sitting on a fallen log, I dropped my head into my hands and tried to find a solution.

"You could always use the door, you know." The voice made me jump.  It came from a little man, not more than four feet tall. His face was weathered from untold years, and his brown hair out in tufts underneath his faded green hat.

"What door?"

"There." He gestured impatiently behind him and I suddenly noticed a little yellow door at the base of the wall.  "Little" being the operative word here.  It couldn't have been more than 18 inches high.

"I appreciate the help," I began. "But, I think that's a little small for me."

He smiled not unkindly. "As you are, of course. But if you drink the potion..." he trailed off, a bottle and key in his hand.

I leaned forward and plucked the bottle from his hand.  It was a pretty crystal container, with a rich pink liquid inside.  I read the label that accompanied it.  "Mr....?"

"Daythan. Just Daythan" he provided.

"Daythan... Is this some sort of trick?  This says its 'poison.' It doesn't seem like it'd be very safe."

"The world isn't very safe, Miss. Poison is relative, anyway.  It's only poison if you aren't immune to it. Why, you might call the air of your fair city 'poison,' wouldn't you?" He wrinkled his nose in distaste. "And yet your folk seem to live in it.  The words you speak to each other?  Poison of another variety.  And you survive."

I quirked a smile at him. "And the poison that comes in a bottle marked POISON?  I'm supposed to believe that's just fine?"

"It's only poison to the weak, to those who aren't braver than their fears.  But to the courageous? The strong?  Those who have the resolve to resist its powers?  They can withstand the dangers.  The question is...  are you one of them? Young Reese awaits."

Indeed.  Was I one of them? I didn't feel particularly strong and courageous.  I felt afraid. I felt worried. I felt helpless. I plucked the key from Daythan's hand, popped the top of the bottle, and drank.  Sometimes you had to have more faith in what could be than in what you feared.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Don't Wait.



Why do we wait? Why do we hold back? Why do we let fear stop us from saying the things our hearts beg us to say?

The things that are sweetest, the things that are kindest, the things that are the most meaningful, the things that are the most real... these are the things we keep locked up.  These are the things we allow the possibility of embarrassment, the fear of rejection, to keep silent.

We are given so few years on this earth.  So few.  And every moment is a gift that could be the last one.

Too often, it is the I'm mad at you's and the how could you do that's which we give voice to...  and we keep hidden all the I love you's and the you are special to me's and the I really admire you for's.  

Don't wait.  Today.  Give voice to your heart.  

Don't be afraid.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

I'm Glad I...



Just a list today, but I think I may find myself on expanding on some of these over the coming weeks.




Chose to forgive when my heart still hurt
Gave up housework for time with my kids
Waited patiently for a boy to grow up


Chose to be something different
Allowed myself to be silly

Sought forgiveness




Learned to believe in who I am and who I want to be
Learned to accept others for who they are




How about you?  What are some things that you're glad you did?

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Diana

When I was young and Anne of Green Gables was my bible for life, I longed with all my heart for a Diana.  That ONE GIRL who was my friendship soulmate, who would be with me through thick and thin from the moment we met until the moment we died.  The girl who would know every part of me because she'd BEEN THERE and that I would grow old with in an old farmhouse when our respective husbands had made us widows.

My mom has a friend like that.  I live six hours away from my mom now, so I can get home if I need to.  But it takes half a day.  But if I ever need to take care of her RIGHT NOW, I know that I could call Vicki and she would be at my mom's house in a flash.  I worry about my mom a little less, knowing that Vicki is there.

At 35 years old, I still haven't met Diana Barry, in that sense.  A younger me might have been disappointed in that, like I'd failed some grand scheme of female friendship.  But, I'm not.  Because, as I look back, I realize I've had exactly the friends I needed for the time I was in, and they are not lesser friends because they weren't 80-year friends.

I had different friends in high school than I had in college. Different friends in college than I had as a young mom. Different friends as a young mom than I have now.  But, that's the thing... they weren't better or worse, they were just different.  And they were exactly what I needed.

I have those "exactly what I needed" friends right this very moment.

Do you ever have those moments where you think about the people in your life and you are so filled with overwhelming gratitude for those people that you just want to run around hugging everyone? And you wish that you had the words to tell them exactly how grateful you are for them?  But all that comes out is "I love you and I'm so glad you're here."  But that's not enough... I mean, it IS enough.  Because they know you and they know you love them and they know you're slightly off-center and insane.  And so they know what you mean.  But you want to be able to say, "NO... no... you don't understand.  I mean that, but I mean so much MORE than that."

I am having those moments right now.

I do not know what the future holds... and I have learned to accept and appreciate that my friendships go in stages and life cycles and not all of them are here to stay forever. And I have learned to believe that this is entirely okay. 

But, oh I'm glad you're here for as long as you're here.

Friday, June 8, 2012

12 Things: No Regrets


Today's the last one!  We're moving on to something else next week...

So #12 is:

12. I have no regrets.

I'll be honest, I always have trouble with this one.  I've heard the sentiment of not regretting your past, the good and bad, because it all works together to make you who you are today.  I get that for the most part.  I'm with it for the most part...  But there's one aspect of it that I can never quite get on board with.

Even if learning the lessons has shaped who I've become today, I can't ever find myself honestly saying that I don't regret causing the hurts that my words or actions have brought to others in the past. I do. And maybe these are just things that come with youth. Maybe you have to hurt a few people along the way to learn how much you don't like doing it, and how important it is to climb on top of your own ick before you do.  Wisdom does not typically come to the young and unlived.  But I regret it, anyway.

However, the site I've been pulling these from, which I almost always forget to link, leaves us with these thoughts:

Follow your heart. 
Be true to yourself. 
Do what makes you happy
Be with who makes you smile. 

Laugh as much as you breathe. 
Love as long as you live. 

Offer a helping hand when you’re able. 
Appreciate all the things you do have. 
Smile. 
Celebrate your small victories. 

Learn from your mistakes. 
Realize that everything is a lesson in disguise. 
And let go of the things you can’t control.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Thursday Tales: The Fairies



"Shhh," I whispered to Leah, her 8-year-old hand clasped in mine. "This is Fairy Land, and we wouldn't want to disturb it."

She peered at the trees around us as we walked along the forest path.  "Mom." She fixed me with a I-am-too-cool-for-you stare. "You know there's no such thing as fairies."

"Well, of course there is, don't be silly. Don't tell me you're too old to believe in fairies, young thing.  I'm sure not!"

Leah stopped to run her fingers gently over a fern's leaves. "Do you really think there's fairies?" Her tone had gotten serious.

"Oh, not the kind you read about it in your fairy tales.  They aren't grandmothers with wings sent out to grant wishes of ball gowns and princes. I'm not sure they grant wishes at all.  They aren't even all good fairies.  I don't think they're BAD necessarily, but some of them are naughty.  Like they'll move your book to another room... or hide your keys under the couch."

She laughed. "You just think that because you can't ever find your keys!"

I smiled. "Well, maybe.  But I still like blaming the fairies.  They're not all naughty, though. Some fairies sit on your shoulder and whisper encouragements when you're feeling sad. When you're hurt, some fairies keep vigil and sprinkle fairy dust to keep you safe. And I think some fairies exist just so you know that there's someone around on your side."

Leah chewed on the inside of her cheek thoughtfully.  "Do you really think that?"

"Look over there." I gestured to a dandelion at the edge of the path.  "Do you see the dewdrop that sits on top of it? Those aren't just any dewdrops, Leah.  Those are crystal balls, and if you are careful and look very closely, you can see right into Fairy Land."

She approached the dandelion quietly and knelt down to stare into it. "I... think I see something. Oh Mom, I do!"  In her excitement, her knee bumped the dandelion and the drop of dew slid down to the dirt.  Her face was stricken. "Oh, I ruined it."

I laid a hand on her head.  "No worries, pet.  It will be back tomorrow.  The likes of us aren't really meant to see into Fairy Land anyway.  It's enough for us just to know it's there."

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Word of the Day: Hope

Sometimes hope is all we have to hang onto. That can be a blessing.  When all else fails us, we still have that hope.  It's the last thing we can cling to and there are times when we really need that.

When the road is long and hard, it's hope that gets us out of bed in the morning. It's hope that allows us to face the day of uncertainty and hardship. And it's hope that lets us forge ahead because maybe today will be the day that it all comes together.

I believe in hope. It's powerful and it's important and it changes things.

But, sometimes it seems so small and paltry.  Because sometimes you know that hope really is the only thing you're holding onto, and that under that thin layer of hope lies a whole lot of fear.

But you hang on anyway when it's the only thing that you have.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

12 Things: Full Accountability



11. I take full accountability for my life.

This is something I've really thought a lot about over the past several months.

"Own your choices and mistakes." I'm big on this one.  Now, I have a lot of work to DO on this one. I'm not always as good at practicing as I am at preaching, but this is something I'm working on. I feel like it's really important to be honest about the consequences in your life.  We can't treat ourselves like victims all the time.  It's really important to understand and internalize that a good portion of the things that "happen to us" are consequences of our own actions.  It seems really popular in our culture to blame our problems on other people.  And maybe it's not just our culture, maybe that's just human nature.  But I think it's dishonest.  Some things, sure.  But in general, we have more say in what happens to us than we like to admit.  So I think it's really important that we're honest.  That when we make mistakes, we're willing to say "That was wrong of me," and when the consequences come, we understand that they are consequences and not just random things done to us out of sheer cruelty.

On the flipside, taking full accountability means that we also get to take credit for the successes, too.  Not all of life is failures and mess-ups.  Sometimes things go right.  Sometimes we CHOOSE RIGHT.  And if we're going to own our choices in the bad things, owning our choices in the good things is just as important.  It's okay to be proud when you choose right, when you do right.

Actually, I find this important even as we're owning our bad choices.  (Thinking as I type here...)  I've never really had a ton of trouble taking the blame when things go wrong.  Once I see it, I'm often very willing to take it... and take it ALL.  And that's not quite honest either.  I'm thinking in a relationship/friendship sort of context here.  Friendships are two-way... and when they go bust, the blame usually goes two ways, too.  Of late, I've been learning to take responsibility for my share, but for only my share.  No longer am I willing to blame myself for everything, when everything isn't mine to own.  Does that make sense?

Monday, June 4, 2012

A Humor Column That Wasn't

This is my half-completed editorial calendar for the month of June:


This is the entry for today:





This is probably not going to happen. I'm about as eager to find something funny to write about as I am to go frolic with a gaggle of bears.  I could do it, probably.  But it would be forced. (I mean, the writing about something funny.  Me frolicking with a gaggle of bears is NEVER going to happen, unless they are the sort that are stuffed with cotton.) An old friend has been hospitalized and I find I'm not so much in the mood for levity this morning.

So, instead I leave you with these simple thoughts:




Cherish what you've got.
Don't waste time worrying about what you don't.
Take nothing for granted.
Take a moment to savor each minute of happiness you are granted.
Smile. Laugh. Cry.
Feel deeply.
Listen when you are spoken to.  Before you answer, listen to what has been said.
Allow for change.  
Know that you change, too.

Friday, June 1, 2012

12 Things: Forgive Those Who Hurt You


10. I have forgiven those who once hurt me.

I am happy to say that this is something I've made a LOT of progress on this year.  I'm not saying I've cornered the market on the ability to forgive.  In some areas, I still have a long way to go.  But I really feel like I've made a lot of headway over the past few months and that fills me with a tremendous amount of relief.

I think that sometimes we operate under this mistaken assumption that it's the people we're mad at who need our forgiveness, like it's something we dole out if we are feeling particularly kind and accommodating that day.  But, I think I've come to realize that it really isn't about them at all.  Sure, there will be people who just can't operate until they've heard an "I forgive you" when they've apologized for something.  But, forgiveness really isn't for the people you're forgiving.  It's for you.

Here's the thing about forgiving... I think we have to get rid of the idea that there are conditions on it.  "If Alexis does this, THEN I can forgive her for what she did."  Let me give you a vague example. I recently was in a situation where I told someone that I was mad at them, that I had been very hurt by them.  This is something that had been going on for a really, really long time... something that I kept shoving under the rug because I didn't want the confrontation.  But I had the way it was going to go built up in my head.  I was going to explain my hurt.  They were going to apologize. And then I was going to forgive them.  The bolded part is important.  My forgiveness was totally dependent on that apology.  I had convinced myself that I could absolutely forgive them, but only if the apology was forthcoming.

Part 1 went more-or-less okay.  Hurt was explained, and then--  Apology was...not what I expected. It wasn't what I wanted to hear.  It wasn't what I thought I needed to hear, and I felt really deflated.  There was disappointment that they couldn't give me that one thing... but there was also a big sense of "Well, now what?" My condition for forgiveness was really not met the way I had laid out.  Could I still forgive?

As it turned out, the answer I eventually came to was "yes."  But, let's be clear on what forgiveness is.  It's not about saying that whatever they did to hurt you is no big deal.  It IS a big deal.  It's okay to feel that it's a big deal because it is.  Forgiveness isn't about laying yourself back down in front of them and letting them walk over you again. Forgiveness isn't about laughing goodnaturedly and saying "Oh, that spear you shoved through my heart didn't hurt at all, it's okay.  Don't worry about it..."  

It's not that.  But it is saying "That hurt a lot...  and that's not okay.  But, I'm going to choose not to harbor hate and anger toward you over it all the time."  That's what's left when we refuse to forgive.  Something has to fill up that hole that once held love.  And when we choose to not forgive, the things that end up in that hole are hatred and anger and self-righteousness and a desire to stab back.  Why do we do that to ourselves?  The only person that really hurts is US.

And so, too, the choice to forgive is really about us. It's about choosing to boot that anger out of our hearts and fill it back up with love.  Maybe that forgiveness means that you can walk out a continued friendship with the person you've forgiven.  Maybe that forgiveness means that you can finally walk AWAY from that friendship, and just not dwell on it anymore, stuck in the hurt and the what-ifs.  But, mostly, that forgiveness means that you can stop harboring hurt, you can stop harboring anger, you can stop wanting to inflict pain back.

You can finally say, "That sucked.  But I'm not going to let it drown me anymore," and walk on. I'm walking that out in a number of places, and the love that fills back in the holes is pretty nice.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...