Limiting our Limitlessness

Hi.

Let’s talk a little this morning on how we limit ourselves. We all do it. Whether we are limiting our food portions, our snack options, our children from activities, ourselves from being who we are–we limit ourselves.

Here is a song that talks about being limited from the first line:

Now, I agree with speed limits (usually) and age limits (at least I do now, as a teen, I wasn’t too keen on them), and sometimes a good time limit serves a purpose (like when my children need to do their chores or eat a serving of unfavorite veggies off a plate). But, what I want to talk about is how we limit ourselves.

Have you ever said one of these phrases?

  • I can’t do that.
  • I can’t do that (because you are so good at it).
  • I can’t pull that off.
  • I could never _____________.
  • I could never do what you are doing.
  • I didn’t get enough sleep to do that.
  • I can’t deal with that today (or any day).
  • I’m done.

I’m totally guilty of the last one. I say it often…but thankfully not as often as I once did. If you are saying one or more of these phrases, will you stop? Do you know how to stop? Do you want to stop? Can you fill your mind with positive, “I can” statements?

Many of you know that I have half-a-dozen children. I do. They are really cool, and I don’t exactly take credit for them. People sometimes ooooo and ahhhh over my abilities. But they didn’t come into my home all at once. (Two of them came together–and that was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but that’s another story.) As I had one–or two–at a time, my capacity increased to be able to take care of my children. I was blessed with more insight and patience.

I am undertaking another stretching and creative experience right now. This experience, along with trying to manage my family’s increasingly hectic schedule, has been difficult. But, I have also been blessed to grow and learn with each new undertaking. With the traumas we experienced last fall, my capacities grew again. Right now, I’m working on community outreach with a Writing for Wellness program. With each new endeavor, I learn and grow and become more developed as a human than I was yesterday, or last week, or two months ago.

Certainly, life calls for times of rest and recuperation. Sometimes we are stretched beyond what we are able and we need to ask for help or let some less important tasks go. (Don’t ask me how clean my house is or when the last time I folded laundry was….) But sometimes we need to say YES to stretching ourselves beyond our current abilities. Once we decide to do this, we will have people and opportunities placed in our path where we can work “For Good.”

Will you do it?

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.


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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

Soulful Plastic Surgery

Last week, I enjoyed hiking in one of the most amazing places on earth with a dear friend. As we walked and talked, our feet trampled through paths of dirt and mud, puddles and sand, rocks and brush. Our conversation carried themes of hope and despair, lack and encouragement, fear and faith.

In the midst of these words, the topic of happiness (or at least contentedness) with ourselves surfaced. We discussed how, even when we approach a dead body at a viewing or wake, the comments we hear discuss the appearance of the individual (“Doesn’t she look good?” or “He looks so natural.”) more than the work of their lives.

We walked on, and this thought came: “We might be better off to perform plastic surgery on our spirits.”

Of course, that type of change could never occur under a trained physician’s hand holding a scalpel or with the careful eye of an anesthesiologist. Our spirits need to be fed, nourished, strengthened, and loved–and we do that work ourselves.

We begin again to love ourselves, to disconnect from harmful media while connecting to grounding influences such as art, music, and nature. We exercise, balance our chakras, and breathe. We speak loving words to ourselves and others. We spend our moments with those who nourish us and those we nourish in return.

I’ve been blessed to do a number of those things this past week, and my spirit feels new. I’m not crumbling under the heavy weight of others’ (or my own) unrealistic expectations. My spirit is transformed, and I have more to give.

And, I dare say that I feel more beautiful–without a tuck, gummy bear implants, or anesthesia (which scares me, FYI). I am a happier me, and I like who I am.

My spirit is new. And I am still me–only better.

I’m on top of the world.

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🙂

Helium

My father asked me a peculiar question when I was seven years old. He said, “Would you like to release your ballon into the air?”

My expression gave him an open invitation to analyze my thoughts. I can still, decades later, feel the contortions of unbelief pulling at my facial muscles as my grip invariably tightened around the piece of string which tied my new treasure to me for what I wished would be forever.

Still, my father, ever open to scientific experiments and opportunities, continued. “We could put a card on the ballon for whomever finds it. They could contact us, and we could see how far the helium travels….”

His invitation brought me no desire to comply.

This balloon was mine, and I wasn’t about to give it away, or let it fly away, off to some distant land containing some floating message in a (latex) bottle.

Within days (or possibly even hours), what was once so importantly elevated above my head was reduced to barely floating along the baseboard line of my childhood home.

During some moments now, I regret the emotions of that experience: the want to cling to everything I felt was mine, the power I afforded this small object (allowing it to rule my selfish nature), the temporary lift of helium.

If I could repeat that moment, I would write the message. I would attach my words to the balloon, and I would let go.

I would watch it rise toward clouds, a spot of brilliance among tufts of cotton and sheets of azure.

And I would wait to see what would happen.


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This Non-stop Life

I sent an email to a family member recently who was sending hope and positive energy toward me during yet another large transition. My response went something like this:

“Life doesn’t stop…and when it does, we’re not sure we want it to….”

(Pardon my dangling preposition, please, while you think about that thought for a moment or two.)

Those who are faced with life ending, (or anything ending, really) tend to look back nostalgically on where they’ve been, what they could do better, and where they wish they had spent more time and energy.

I encourage you today, on this Happy Cinco de Mayo, to take an inventory of your life. If your days were numbered (and they are, only you don’t know the number), what would you do TODAY? Would you order out (or cook) Mexican food and have a fiesta or celebration? Would you make more time to write? Would you read that book that you’ve been meaning to read? Would you take a class? Would you learn a new skill? Would you take a step toward greater trust in a relationship? Would you hit the beach? Would you throw out all the clutter? Would you organize something? Would you dance in the rain? Would you have lunch with a child or a lover or your favorite book? Would you visit your grandparents? Would you sing? Would you smile more? (I would.)

Think productivity! Think positivity!

We don’t really have all the time in the world…we just have today.

Can You Feel the Love Tonight?

I was driving in my car down a long stretch of road pasted between lights and buildings, parks and restaurants. My destination was sure, though I was a few minutes behind schedule. I turned on the radio for company, listening to favorites and switching stations often.

When I heard the first few beats of Elton John’s music, I immediately recognized it as his song from Disney’s The Lion King, and I reached to change the station.

Sorry Elton John fans. I recognize his talent as one of the music greats of all time…but his songs just don’t usually speak to my soul.

The closest I’ve come to being moved by his music was his ballad to the late Marilyn Monroe, “Candle In the Wind.” That is, at least until this recent drive.

As I touched the button to change stations, I had a thought to listen to the song.

(I’ve come to recognize that little thoughts like that one are often valuable.)

I settled into the seat, cautious of my speed, as my breathing slowed in time with the music. I began to sing of “kings” and “vagabonds” along with Elton’s smooth vocals.

But, what meant more to me was the way I felt.

I felt love. I felt assurance. I felt that the many pressures, responsibilities, and decisions that rest upon my shoulders were known and recognized by a Higher Power. I also somehow felt that all would be fine.

I wonder if Elton John could have ever known that his song would mean so much to a thirty-something mother and writer while driving her car down an almost-too-familiar road. I could honestly answer yes to his musical query. I did, indeed, feel love that night…and I have tried to carry that feeling of love with me and share it along this road I’m still traveling. ❤

When do you feel love? How do you share it? And what have you created and shared, like Elton John's song, that has become meaningful to others you may not ever know?