Advice from Elphaba

This morning, I woke up with this sentence on repeat in my mind:

“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”

That line is from the song “I’m Not That Girl” from the musical Wicked. It’s taken entirely out of context here, but that message was one I needed today.

For the last several weeks I have been bogged down, trudging through the unusual monotonies of life. I have kept up with the demands of eight schedules, school assignments for seven, and various other church and community-related activities. But, I have not been myself.

I know, because last fall, I was not myself. And I have felt that lost feeling again.

At one point this week, I decided I was finished with feeling that way. I broke out my toolbox of coping skills: more diligent scripture study, reaching out to friends, more fervent prayer, yoga, Temple attendance, running, and embracing my love of music (thus the song running through my head this morning). In all these moments, I felt like I was cracking open a window, allowing just a bit of fresh air and sunlight into the tired room of my soul.

But I had practically given up something that is an integral part of who I am. I almost stopped writing.

This morning, as I pondered that singular line from a most-beloved musical, I felt the message resounding in my brain.

“Don’t lose sight of who you are.”

I have to write. It is healing. Supporting. It is my sanity.

I created a poem once that begins with these words, “I was born to write a song.” Not just any song–but a song of words, woven with care. A musical.

So, I’m back to my desktop today, trying to remember, recall, reenvision through my own revisions the novel that is part of who I am.

And I am singing.

It’s that time of year…

(Note:  I have hesitated in posting this, because I am not looking for charity or a hand-out for Christmas. Please do not misinterpret this post. Thank you.)

We’ve had some experiences this year that have stretched our budget beyond normal borders–and yet, I don’t feel a sense of suffering this time of year. (I have, however, been bothered with seemingly unending emails for Black Friday and Cyber Monday and posts on websites for giveaways and contests to win a certain amount of PayPal or gift card cash because, as one boasted this week, “Who couldn’t use an extra $500 this time of year?”). What???

If those who celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, or anything else this time of year are focused on cash, spending, getting, and receiving, isn’t something missing? Aren’t several things missing? (Don’t get me wrong–I’m all for a good deal, for living within means, and for smart spending–but this is getting ridiculous.)

Last week, as a family, we decided to draw names so each person in our home could give and receive a little something to celebrate Christmas.  As we spoke, we talked about the many blessings we have received this year, among them the gift of life for a child who might have died and the gift of sight for a husband and father who might have otherwise been blind. Our finances have stretched to pay for such services, and we are grateful for the ability to do so. And, while I will not find myself in a typical posture shopping on Amazon or reading reviews about the best winter boots or Lego sets, I am at peace.

Let me reiterate: I am at peace. Without the shopping, spending, stress of wondering and waiting to see if I got the “just right” present. All of that has been eliminated. And I’ve made room for other things I enjoy about the holidays–like singing. I will be singing tomorrow at a Christmas brunch and in a choir for Christmas services–and I will attend concerts for my children. And we will bake–sugar cookies (if I can find my cookie cutters) and other treats and dip chocolate pretzels and peanut butter balls.

And maybe, just maybe, this will be our best Christmas yet.

 

What Would You Do?

If, at some point, your own government ceased to function, to protect you, to provide some sort of “unalienable rights,” putting you in a situation of compromise, maybe forcing you to take a journey you are physically and temporally unprepared to take, what would you do?

If, at some point, you pondered the blessed and happy state of your large house which gave heat and cool air on demand, and you thought about your stocked pantry and adequate bank account, and your chest wrenched because your country was founded upon these words: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” and your chest perhaps heaved because of the abundant space you could give others if they could but get to your home, if your national and local leaders would allow them to come, and your tear ducts filled because you felt powerless to help, what would you do?

If your son came home from school, claiming he heard from a friend that the problems in our world, especially in Paris, were the fault of a religion–one to whom your good friends and neighbors and students belong–a religion of peace and of opening your home and sharing the blessings from the same Creator I believe in, and you knew you needed to say something because what he said wasn’t true but that you knew in other homes that the same philosophies of fear were being taught, down the street, and across the country, what would you do?

What will you do?

Renew

In the depths of this early morning, with moonlight streaming in through closed blinds, lights flickering on and off changing the angled shadows around my bedroom, recent turns and twists of experience played across my mind like an old movie theater projection. This blog, though often neglected as of late, was part of the ever-changing scenery. I recalled my last post, written in despair, as a cry of help in honesty, seeking understanding.

Late on Saturday night, I decided to fast. Fasting–to me–is abstaining from food or drink for a period of time (often two meals) as an act of faith to draw neared to God, to sacrifice something meaningful to me in pursuit of enlightenment or strength, and includes an offering to be given to those in need of what I would have spent on meals during that time (a “fast offering”). As I fasted through my Sabbath day (Sunday), I was given renewed courage and faith as I sought strength and healing. I was able to smile and laugh. Stories that others shared as I went through my day took on new meaning, as if those I loved shared them just for me. I felt known, loved, and joyful. My problems did not go away; however, I felt renewed, rejuvenated, revived, restored. I felt better than I was when I began fasting on Saturday evening.

It’s the Hard Knock Life

I always thought the song was called, “It’s a Hard Knock Life.” Google it. I promise–it’s “the”–not “a.”

And, now, just so you can sing along with me:

On a more serious note, I have been in the midst of trauma and turmoil for the last couple of months. While I won’t go into details (we all have our sad, dark, difficult moments), I would like to share with you a small bit of wisdom I have learned.

Life is hard.

Sometimes it’s harder than hard. And sometimes it just plain sucks.

Wait–let me backtrack a bit. I was a teenager once. Were you? Did we know each other? Maybe you will remember as I do that I wasn’t the happiest person. My favorite shirt had Eeyore (from Winnie the Pooh) on the front–you know, the character that is associated with lines like, “Tut, tut. Looks like rain”–that was me.


photo credit

I loved the rain. (Isn’t it romantic, and sad?) I loved nothing more than to turn on “Pictures of You” by The Cure or “Everybody Hurts” by R.E.M. and watch the rain fall.

Then, I grew up a little, got a little less teen angsty, and decided that life was better in the sunshine. I worked hours on retraining the default settings of my brain to reflect on positive aspects of life. I began to count blessings instead of troubles. And I chose happiness.

(That’s probably the hardest part right now. Happiness evades me daily. I want it back, and I’m trying each moment of each day to choose it–but I get tired of walking down the staircase and reliving my baby’s fall, my legs shaking so much on the ambulance drive with him, thinking of myself in the front seat pleading with the driver to tell me about himself as a distraction from my little guy lying on a backboard while three EMTs tended to him, the sleepless days and nights in ICU that followed, and the fear of coming home and seeing it all happen again.)

Trauma is real. And I pray, but it’s still there. I read and study, but the pain aches in my chest, my head, my heart. I smile, and every once in a while, the smile feels sincere.

And even though we’ve had so many gifts and blessings (and he is healing), I pull my knees to my chest and cry–more often than I did as a fifteen-year-old.

And I am grateful. And I am smiling, softly, not with my lips but with my eyes, thinking of each of you–your friendship, support, and love.

And someday, when I tell myself that “everything will be okay,” the phrase will stop feeling like a lie. And everything will be okay (even though life will still be hard).

At least I’m learning, right?

Reflections

Once June hits around here, we have a birthday/anniversary/special occasion at least monthly for several months, which is pretty cool.:) My birthday is coming up next month, and I have been thinking about the emotional growth spurt that I experienced recently. One morning this week, before I got out of bed, I had a phrase from one of the birthday songs the children of our church sing to one another by Barbara McConochie: “one year older and wiser, too.”

Though wisdom might have evaded me as a child, I have considered moments from this summer which have brought me insight and strength. I have been taught in ways that I would not have imagined possible on subjects as diverse as faith or screenwriting, as connected as family is to friends. I have experienced moments of ease as well as moments of pain, moments of heartache and moments of triumph. Each day, I have been sustained by those around me and a power beyond my own.

What have I learned?

  • I am stronger, more capable, more powerful than I knew before this moment.
  • My family has the capacity to strengthen, bless, and uplift.
  • I have a voice to sing.
  • Life is filled with blessings, even as we struggle.
  • Struggling helps us (if we let it).
  • Life is good.
  • Gratitude each day is crucial.
  • I can be happy, no matter what goes on around me.
  • Prayer changes situations, hearts, minds.
  • As we work together to support each other, we’ve got this.

Till next time. xoxo

Here We Go Again

Just typing the title led to a song (have I mentioned that we speak in song around here?), which led to a Google search for a song by the same name, then on to Spotify (do you know how many songs have the title “Here We Go Again” on Spotify?…I don’t either, but the list is long), then back to Google because I could remember a decade. After eight minutes of searching, I found this gem of 90’s video-music-history:

You can thank me later.:)

As I have thought about catching up with the blog various times this summer, I chose instead to be engaged in life, in music, in moments. (In fact, the only real writing I’ve been doing for the past several months has been in my journal or on Facebook posts, and even those have been sparse.) I have been singing, though, so I’m going to give you my summer in a few minutes, filled with the songs that have reverberated in my vocal cords while sun has been shining on my face and life has been beautiful and challenging.

Sending all my love into the universe and praying some of it touches your heart and allows you ears to hear and a voice to sing. xoxo