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.

Young Again

When I die, will you paint me
Young again…?

Eyes set forward, without tears for Ethan’s cancer at age six (he was here oh-so-briefly)
Brow long and high, not with wrinkles borne of worry for
Kaitlin’s solo, Jonathan’s baseball championship, and later
Kaitlin’s failing marriage, Jonathan’s lost job, and even later
Burying Jim after thirty-six years of happily and not-so-happily
Married life?

Will you paint me innocent? Free from fear?

Yet I look in the mirror at my
aged face,
tired eyes,
wrinkled hands…
Hands once delicately fingering a piano, rolling a cookie, painting a homecoming poster
And I wonder
If each mark of age represents an
unspoken experience,
valuable wisdom,
immeasurable compassion,
Would I trade it all back for a young face, thick hair, and soft hands?

-Karin Salisbury


photo credit

A Flash of Inspiration…

So, I didn’t get to watch any “chick flicks” during Valentine’s week…in fact, I’ve been on a movie-watching hiatus for the last several weeks (except what I end up viewing with my little people)…& so, after my workout this morning, I thought, “I’m going to watch Shall We Dance? before I have to take it back to the library this week.”  Then, I remembered the scene when Richard Gere’s character says to his wife (as he’s confessing why he didn’t tell her about his dancing lessons) something about feeling guilty for being too happy.

Have you seen this film?  Here is the love song played over a scene toward the end of it….

I have seen the movie several times, not just because I love the dancing (which I do), and not just because I love the love song in it (which I do), but because his words during that scene are meaningful to me.

I have been blessed repeatedly in my life…not that my life has been “perfect” (is anyone’s?)…I’ve had my share of troubles and adversities…but my joys have been sweet and my blessings have been many…and sometimes, I do feel a little guilty for wanting to be a little happier…to change something in my life for the better.

Am I alone?

When I think of all that I’ve been able to accomplish in my (relatively) short life, I wonder if I should be able to want anything more…if wanting more is right…if wanting more is good….

I’m not talking about things, mind you; I’m talking about accomplishing goals–like publishing a novel or taking a certain trip with certain loved ones or raising my children to be well-adjusted, happy, responsible citizens.  Sometimes I think I don’t deserve any more happiness…like I’ve had my allotted share and I don’t deserve any more.  Maybe I need to take some dancing lessons…?

Thoughts?

Parenting is Hard.

After an experience with one of my precious children this morning, and after some weekend reflection, I’ve come to this conclusion:

PARENTING IS HARD.

Maybe that isn’t news to you. If I stopped parenting long enough to think about it (which only happens in tiny little moments), I might have figured this out sooner. Maybe? 🙂

Anyway, these recent moments of reflection have shown me similar traits in my children to my own personality flaws (which are actually quite difficult to view). For example, remember when you have read a novel or watched a film and you find yourself identifying with the feelings or habits or personalities of a certain character? Those connections have been happening abundantly lately for me…only my children are not mere characters in a book or movie. They are my children.  And they are flawed (which I knew) like me (which is what is so difficult currently to view).

Maybe some of the difficulty is knowing the path they have ahead of them…and my desire to help them wake up to a realization that certain behaviors that I have wasted years of my life practicing can lead them to heartache and sadness.  I find myself defensively saying (in my mind) to them, “I’m getting over [that behavior].  Why can’t you?”

But, some lessons need to be learned from the inside out, not vice versa.

I guess what I’m saying is, after this weekend and this morning, I’ve got some work to do…both for myself and also with my children. And I’m wondering what I can do to change today….

Each of my children (and yours) is a gift, a life, an opportunity for love and learning and greatness. My children don’t need the fame of a Super Bowl ring, a Julliard degree, or a name in figurative lights to be valued and precious and productive in society. They are each amazing in their own spheres of influence as they develop and share their own talents and gifts with those around them.

I wish I had learned that earlier. I still find myself fighting feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness daily. But, at least I am fighting them (most days) instead of giving into negativity.

On the way back from taking one of our children to school (the one having a rough morning), my husband gently said my name, followed by the words, “You are a good woman.”

My immediate thought was, “If I was a good woman, I could cure more ills and take away more pain.”

As I fought tears in the thought, I saw something else, though…a smattering of light…of truth.

Pain is part of life and a tool to help us grow, just like a flower fights the adversities of gravity and wind to grow and stand straight and bloom.

So bloom. As a person. As a parent. As YOU. We can make a beautiful bouquet together.