Tag: strength



Grammys 2016I tried to watch the Grammys last night. I was hopeful. I like all kinds of music and there are many young up and comings that I listen to on a regular basis. My youngest son keeps me in the loop. He lives in Kansas City which you may or may not know has a happening music scene. It’s a hot spot for Indy bands and my son was born with music running through his veins.

I looked forward to the Grammys this year because I love Adele

and even though I knew she wouldn’t sing Rolling In the Deep, I was looking forward to her performance of her latest hit. I also wanted to hear Lady Gaga’s tribute to David Bowie, and the Eagles of course. It was a disappointment, and I lost all patience when Adele’s performance went south. I felt for her. I was very sure it wasn’t her fault. I just kept wishing they’d stop and start over instead of muddling through. It was painful.

Her response? “Sh… happens!” I wondered if she was just taking the high road, or was really that nonplussed about it. Not a bad attitude to have of course, because she’s absolutely right. How difficult that must have been for her, probably as difficult as it was for us to listen to it…not to mention disappointing. All I could think of was, “do-over, please”. For both of us.

Yet, life goes on, even when it comes to the Grammys. We don’t get do-overs. Rarely at least, and even if we do get a second chance of some sort, previous failures and disappointments rumble in the background of our psyche and we feel tentative and uncertain when we try again or we compensate by striving for perfection.

Like a rock carried along by a river’s current,  we too are carried through life by the force of time. Sometimes it’s a fast, smooth ride. At other times we encounter obstacles that push us to one side or crack us wide open. We find ourselves in pieces or stuck, unable to get back in the flow.

It takes help to get rolling again when this happens. We need a friend to pick us up and help us find our way again, or a new understanding, a new awareness, an epiphany.  It takes courage and decision to find the rock solid core of who we are so that we can get back into the stream of life.

When we’ve been in the stream for a while, rolling along, we become like the rocks I found in Monument Valley last September, all round and soft.  The movement through time smooths our surfaces and rounds our edges and in this state we are more resistant to breakage, more resilient and at ease rolling in the deeper waters of life. Adele knows something of this process. Even though she is young, much younger than you or I, she’s an old soul who is growing up fast…faster than most of us have had to do. Her flip response may be real, or it may be a mask to protect herself. Either way, her response was a good one. She’s developed some resilience. She has a sense of humor about herself and is willing not to take things that are out of one’s control too seriously.

smooth rocksWhat’s the take away? What can we learn from Adelle’s experience with the Grammys this year? For me, it’s learning the value in taking a step back when life throws us a curve, and to  remember that nothing is perfect…as Wayne Dyer liked to remind us “no thing” is perfect.  There is also value in making it a practice to interact with life, like we are a rock rolling down with a river. It’s not always possible to grab on to the shore, to something solid in life, but it is possible to learn to trust the journey and understand the process – to see life as a process, one that smooths our edges and strengthens our core self. We may not be able to see ahead through the muddy waters, but we can trust that we are a part of something bigger and grander and most assuredly an essential part of the whole.

[tweetthis]It is time to stop wishing, worrying, planning, hoping and dreaming our lives away.[/tweetthis]




Dogwood BlossomsWhen we moved into our home nearly twenty years ago I was delighted to discover that we had a beautiful dogwood tree right outside the living room window.  Healthy, strong and stately — in a delicate dogwood kind of way – our tree has delighted us year after year. Unlike the wild dogwoods one sees along the Carolina back roads, with spindly limbs and small white blossoms, this tree provides a showy display of large white blossoms, and has the distinct feature of a whole branch of pink blossoms!  While this is not altogether uncommon in cultivated dogwoods, I have always felt fortunate to have such a beautiful tree growing and healthy in my front yard.

The tree was probably at least as old as the house was when we bought it, if not a bit older.  That would have made her twenty-five plus years then.  Now, she’s much, much older, and like me, she has gathered a hitch or two in her get-a-long.  Sadly, she’s less and less showy each year and I was heartbroken to discover her pink branch was lost last winter in an ice storm. There were no pink blossoms this year.

She has been battered and bruised over the years; neglected during a long dry spell in our business when we could not afford to give her the extra care she needed. She weathered another dry spell when nature held back necessary sustenance, a drought that brought an end to the life of our beautiful big maple, and it took its toll. I study her weathered bark and broken limbs, the scaly lichens that finds her a delightful host. I bear witness to her crooked starts and stops and feel aches and pains as if they were my own. I often wish we’d treated her better and taken her less for granted.

I sit beside the window and drink my morning coffee each day and still feel blessed to have her here with me. She holds a different sort of delicate beauty and like an old woman who has more inner determination than physical strength to keep on keeping on, her vulnerabilities are overshadowed by her strength to live on.

I can’t help but wonder about her vulnerability to disease and weather extremes. When her leaves fall in recent years one can see her scars more plainly. I wonder if I should fertilize her, prune away the dead bark, or leave her be.  I wonder if there are things that are weakening her that I can’t even see. I fear not doing enough for her, and I fear doing too much. I felt very much the same way when my mother lay close to death. Should I force her to eat? Should I just let her be. No one wants to be responsible for neglecting a loved one; for not doing something one should to sustain them; but I learned then that there is a time for letting go and letting God.

As for the dogwood,  I learned too late that trimming her branches in an effort to help her grow into her fullness actually created openings for insects and disease.

Many days I feel much like this old dogwood tree. Once innocent and resplendent as only the young can be, I have no doubt that an oddity or gift or two escaped my notice.  I believed myself strong and capable of weathering most any storm that might come my way. Like our lady, I was assailed on many sides, but it was the ones that I did not anticipate or perceive that created the most harm. I’ve lost a branch or two along the way. I’m not as physically strong as I would like to be, and yet my will to live and be and continue to become grows stronger with each passing day. I know it will be a race to the finish. I also know which will win!

No matter how things turn out for the dogwood, or for me, we’ve had a hell of a run and put up a hell of a fight to blossom and share what beauty we can. I hope she out lives me. I would hate to see her go.



We Cannot Ignore the Cry

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

embersWe dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow into and beyond it; to discover who we are in the corner of our heart left unattended as life passed by. We grow weary of living on the surface, of trying to catch up with the cultural ego or our own, of trying to be something we are not.

The pain is a reminder. It teaches and instructs us. It tells us where to look, what needs our attention. An ember burns within each of us, a smoldering, glowing energy that calls to us, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a scream. It speaks our name. It knows us. It understands us, and it will not abandon us.

We can ignore its cry. We can drown out its voice with the loud, crashing sound of a carefully constructed external reality. We can numb it with each and every one of a myriad of addictive behaviors…both small and large…dampen it, drive it down, imagine it is gone as we turn our heads away to binge on cookies, or computers, or anger, or work, or fear, or exercise, or friends, or talking, or worrying, or…..we run away. Like children, we put our fingers in our ears or hide under the dining room table.

Or…or until…we rise up, shake off  the shackles of denial, of fear and open our arms and our hearts to that great something…and with each breath we take, we breathe the breath of life into it, watching the flame grow and burn once again or for the first time…hot and fierce forging strength and courage and a boldness we never knew we had.

We dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow strong and bold and wise, and fully present to that we value.