Archive | September 2014

Chasing The Elusive “WHY ME?”


Inevitably, at some point in time, after receiving the news that one is facing a long-term or chronic illness/disease, comes the elusive question of ,”WHY?!” For some, this may be a fleeting call to arms, for others, it becomes a constant refrain of, “Why?” or “Why me?” or even “Why, God, why?

During my last hospital stay, the progressive pastor of my family’s church came to visit me. After the necessary check-ins were taken care of, he turned toward me, and simply asked, “Do you ever find yourself questioning ‘why?’.” I have wondered since what direction he was taking the conversation in, if he had any expectation of what my answer would be. But this has been fleeting, because in all truth, I think he was just curious.

In that instant, though, there was no hesitation; I didn’t even pause before responding: “Yes. I am sure I have asked, ‘why?’ at some point in this long journey. But I have quickly discovered that this is a fruitless pursuit; a question without an answer; a path that only leads me to remaining stuck in the miserable moment.”

But that conversation has left me with equal curiosity. What is the point in asking, “Why me?” in the face of any number of events (I’ve heard this turn of phrase applied to everything from an unexpected car repair bill to a diagnosis of cancer), when one could just as equally be asking, “Why not me?”

The relentless lamenting over the “why” produces an on-going cycle of strife and depression. How could it not? There are no (satisfactory) answers to this perennial question. But there are concrete, solution-oriented, answers to the question of “What next?” We don’t know the why, yet we do know the how. It’s what we do with the how in the now that defines us.

I know I am sick. I know that there is currently no cure for my autoimmune condition(s). I know that my disease will continue to progress, causing a ripple effect that may require future surgeries and invasive procedures. I know that the mountain of daily meds I take to treat my diseases and conditions also create an equal amount of unpleasant side-effects; and that it is difficult to separate the two apart.

But I also know that I am a fighter. I am creative in the face of challenges. I discover new pathways when faced with a seemingly impassable road block. I am a giver of light, love and energy. My mantra is “Hope.” I know that I do not have to face this life alone, unless I choose to isolate. Which I do not.

This is where I can put in action the “What next?!”

Each surgery may chip away at the person I used to be. But that’s the key, used to be. Not the person I am now. Life is not stagnant and neither am I. In the course of my conversation with the pastor, I shared my views on the River of Grace that flows through me, receiving energy from beyond, recharging my own Soul Beacon, before continuing to flow out into other souls around me.

He smiled and said, that sounds like what Jesus speaks of in the bible, “Our Well-Spring,” that source of God that flows through each and every one of us, just waiting to be tapped into.

I have heard many people refer to this well-spring in their own words. I have heard it be called: Universal Energy, Chi (Qi), Kundalini, Indomitable Spirit, God’s Grace, Life Force, Eternal Flame, and many other monikers.

For me, it is my River of Grace. Because a river is an ever-flowing body of water, that both draws from many sources (is not a singular entity) and pours itself into (nourishing) many other bodies of water. Rivers are not stagnant, they are an ever-changing and evolving path through life. And water is our life’s breath; we cannot survive without it and 2/3rds of our bodies are made of it.

My River is a well that never runs dry. Yet, it is my responsibility to drink from it, to pull from it to renew my spirit when it is lagging.

Which brings me to the Grace part. I think of grace as a gift. As the ability to look for the light in a sea of darkness. To see beauty and gratitude, no matter what the situation. To ask “what’s my next step” instead of getting stuck on the repetitive refrain of “why?!?”

And then I decide to look up the official definition: Grace: “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration” (Meriam-Webster). To merit something, is to earn it. You don’t need to do anything to earn, or to deserve, grace. It’s there for all of us. A gift from beyond ourselves, to regenerate the mind, body and spirit.

We have all experienced unexplained loss, devastating, mind-numbing losses. We have all had to endure unnecessary pain, physical, emotional and/or metal. Or had to witness, powerless, as a loved one is faced these. We have all encountered enumerable challenges, obstacles and sudden change.

These experiences are what define us. It is what has defined me.

But I have also chosen not to have them be the all of me. They are one part of my story. They are U-turns on the path of my life. And instead of sitting down in the middle of the road and stopping, staring befuddled behind, below, and around me. I’ve decided to look straight ahead. To tap into my River of Grace and chart a new course.

This attitude has carried me and allowed me to see my life as full of opportunities. To say, “What next.” Instead allowing myself to feel victimized, always the punchline, left lamenting the “why?”

Think of one area in your life where you can flip your knee-jerk response of “why?” on its head. Start small. See how this one shift in attitude affects your whole day. Your whole week. Your attitude and out-look on the things that come next.

And if you already embrace an attitude of “what next,” please share your experiences so that they may inspire and encourage others!

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Don’t Think, Just Do.

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It has been far too long since I’ve written a blog entry. And it is not for lack of ideas or thoughts to express and share. It’s all because of me. I have gotten in the way of myself…

I have fallen into the trap of over-thinking.

I am analyzing my ideas at every turn:
*Which topic should I focus on for my first re-entry into the Blogosphere?
* Which one will have the most impact? Sound the most eloquent? Be the most timely and pertinent?

Like, I, the Almighty Blog Writer knows what will affect the most people (positively, of course)?!?

All this introspection has served is to stall me out. To keep me from writing anything at all, for fear that it won’t be the right thing. The best thing.

As I started down this path again today, I finally heard the insistent, intuitive voice that has probably been speaking to me all along; I was just too self-absorbed to listen…
“Don’t think, just do,” these wise Yoda-esque words whispered in my ear.

And, this time, I paused and I listened. And I realized, that’s it. That’s all there is.

NONE of us are supposed to be the perfect writer, painter, teacher, student, accountant, sales person, sculptor, dancer, nurse, counselor… even parent.
We are never going to be 100% successful.

And, when you think about it, that is a huge relief. Once we stop trying to be perfect, we free ourselves up to just be… who we are, where we are.

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Each of my blog entries can deeply touch one person and completely turn off another. At the same time. And that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be.

We will all have moments of spontaneous brilliance and also times where we completely fall flat and have to call a “do-over.” That’s life.

Yet we so often get bogged down with replaying all the areas or circumstances in our lives we feel we should excel at, that we completely miss the mark because we’ve forgotten all the times we have succeeded.

We’ve forgotten that just by the pure act of doing, we’ve already succeeded!

Life is forgiving. We just need to be more forgiving of ourselves.

Is this blog entry the “magnificent-all touching” entry I dreamed of creating? No. But I finally started writing again. And for now, just now, that is enough.

I feel full and purposeful. I finally got out of my own way and stopped trying to be the director, producer, and creative manager of the play called, “This Is My Fabulous Life!”
And once I took a back seat and let my higher power and the natural ebb and flow of the universe guide my hand, I started doing. It sure beats sitting on the couch “planning” what to write—deciding what next step I should take to reach my goals and dreams…

I just started walking. And as long as I am actively moving, I am moving forward.

I encourage you to take a step with me…
*In what areas of your life are you feeling stuck right now?
*Where are you idling in neutral, waiting for a sign, or the exact right moment, to push yourself into drive?
* Where can you start walking forward? Today. Right now. All it takes is one step.
* And where can you show yourself some compassion for stumbling and sputtering in a challenging aspect of your life? Perhaps it’s in your job where you want to be a shining star, the best employee ever? Or at home, where you may be struggling without always knowing the right solution or the best way to handle an on the spot situation (which can so often occur suddenly and unexpectedly when it comes to children)?

I guarantee, your children will remember that they had a parent who always tried and didn’t let fear keep them from facing the hard parts, rather than how you actually faltered (in your mind) in any given situation. One of the best lessons you can pass on is that we don’t always succeed the first time around; that we don’t have all the answers but we know how to listen and then try to investigate a solution together; and that when we make a mistake, we can acknowledge our part and ask for a “do-over.”

The same goes for your job. As a past supervisor, I remember the teachers who took a risk and tried regardless of any “guaranteed success;” who knew how to ask for help and work as a team; who bravely suggested innovative ideas even if they didn’t work out. I do not remember their slips and stumbles. I do remember their guts and faith.

And, on a personal level, I am already feeling successful. The critic in me wants to go back and refine and rewrite this entry until it’s perfect. But, then I remember that the definition of perfect is “being entirely without fault or defect” (Merriam-Webster). That perfect is boring, always the same, never varying. And that certainly does not describe me nor my life. And I’m just fine with being “imperfectly perfect!”

I’ll leave you with a parable:
“Three frogs were sitting on a log one day and two of them decided to jump off. How many frogs were left on the log? The answer is three. Because there is a difference between deciding and doing.”*

I don’t want to end my life thinking, “Well, I was full of great ideas.”
I want to think, “I did.

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(*pearls of wisdom from long ago read Reader’s Digest)