Friday, January 27, 2012

To Thrive is Elegant

I've spent so much time waiting to be loved...hoping love would find me...chasing it around like a autumn leaf on a breezy day.  Getting just close enough to then the wind picks it up and carries it far from my grasp. Often, to an unreachable place.  In the game of love, I have been my own undoing.  I have been my most formidable opponent.  Why?  Because somewhere, deep down in the dark parts of my soul I now know that for many years, decades actually, I believed that there was something uniquely wrong with me.  Please pay attention to that word "uniquely".  From a pretty young age we learn that everyone makes mistakes, breaks the rules, gets in trouble for this or that, but when a child feel that it is not their ACTIONS but it is THEM who is "bad", a life of heartache lies ahead.  I could go into all the clinical psychobabble about how and why this happens, but I don't think that is really that important to me...right now...45+ years down the road.  I think the time for looking back is now over.  Statistically speaking, I'm over halfway through my time on earth and that's only if I live out my expected life span.  Nope, it's time to look ahead, and in doing so I want to make sure the next half (give or take) of my life is a whole lotta different.  Most of you that know me know that Maya Angelou has been one of the single greatest influences on my recent life and Maya says "If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude. Don't complain."  Well, alrighty then Maya.  Let's roll.

I've noticed that many big important life changing moments come along with taking some kind of oath or vow...or at the very least a spit handshake when you promise someone to be best friends forever (or at least through 6th grade).  As adults we take wedding vows, religious vows, pledges of allegiance, oaths of office like the President of the US which, by the way, is sworn in with one hand on the Holy Bible so what's this crap about having a "Holiday" tree instead of a Christmas Tree at the flippin' White House??  Sorry, I couldn't help myself. 

Ok, so back to the idea that many times when we embark on a life change we "seal the deal" with a vow, oath, promise, etc.  I have decided to come up with my own pledge of sorts.  It is built on many quotes from my dear Maya Angelou as well as all of the experiences (both good and bad) and all of the people (both good and bad) that have influenced and changed and built up and torn down and basically rebirthed the person typing away on this cold winter night, as one dog keeps my feet warm and the other makes for a handy elbow rest...

“Surviving is important. Thriving is elegant.” ~Maya Angelou

My Pledge to Thrive With Elegance 

I pledge to remember I am a beautiful Creation and I deserve to be treated as such always and in all ways. “While I know myself as a creation of God, I am also obligated to realize and remember that everyone else and everything else are also God's creation.” ~MA  I will stop myself from saying "No I'm not!" when someone says I look pretty, I am smart, etc.  I will accept their compliments and kind words graciously and wrap them around me for protection and warmth when the world grows cold as it surely and often does. I will refuse to carry guilt or burdens that are placed upon me for the sole purpose to control or constrict me.  I am God's Girl, and I am a Princess, so no matter what others say in all their anger and brokenness and rage, it is not mine to keep.  It is not mine to carry, and I wont.

I will forgive myself for my past mistakes and I will not look back with sadness and regret.  I made more poor choices than I did good ones, but my past does not define me.  Each day I am different than I was the day or week or year or decade before.  I still have much to learn.  I will not allow people in my life that continue to live in the past and refuse to move forward.  I did the best I could until I knew better, now I can do better.  Forgiveness  doesn't mean forgetting, and it doesn't mean you weren't hurt, but it changes the way you remember so you, and I, can be free.

I  refuse to give up on my dreams.  I have finally grown up, but I will not grow old.  If I want to travel to distant lands or join the circus or get a tattoo (or 5) or have pink hair and wear bright red lipstick with outrageous shoes, I will.  I will not wear "mom jeans" and matching floral tops to make you or anyone else feel more comfortable.  I will not be boxed in by others expectations.  I will live life and I will do it with passion, humor and style.  This is my adventure.  This is my one shot.  There will never be another me.  

I will not wait for a man to buy me a lovely ring, or chocolates, or flowers.  I deserve these things and I can, and will, buy them for myself as I am able.  I will heed Proverbs 4:23 which states "Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life."  I am complete.  I am enough.  I don't have to be anything I am not or anything that God isn't making me to be.

And I will leave the final part of my pledge to my dearest Maya.  For her words reflect my heart with such great accuracy, I could scarcely do any better:

“I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow. I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights. I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life. I've learned that making a "living" is not the same thing as making a "life." I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance. I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw something back. I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision. I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one. I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back. I've learned that I still have a lot to learn. I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” 

Step up.  Be extraordinary.


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

When I Say I'm A Christian

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not shouting "I'm clean livin'."
I'm whispering "I was lost,
Now I'm found and forgiven."

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I don't speak of this with pride.
I'm confessing that I stumble
and need Christ to be my guide.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not trying to be strong.
I'm professing that I'm weak
And need His strength to carry on.

When I say. "I am a Christian"
I'm not bragging of success.
I'm admitting I have failed
And need God to clean my mess.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not claiming to be perfect,
My flaws are far too visible
But, God believes I am worth it.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I still feel the sting of pain.
I have my share of heartaches
So I call upon His name.

When I say... "I am a Christian"
I'm not holier than thou,
I'm just a simple sinner
Who received God's good grace, somehow.” 

― Maya Angelou

Friday, January 20, 2012

Beauty for Ashes Fundraiser

CALL TO ACTION!!!!! My goal is to raise $2012 in the next 3 months for The XXXChurch 10 Year Anniversary so that they can continue to fight the porn industry and "bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom" for the women in this industry. It is time "to bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes". Please help me to do this...$1 at a time. No donation is too small!!  Thank you for being the change you want to see in the world!!

This fundraiser is based on God's Holy Word from Isaiah 61:1-3, "The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners,to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion--to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor." My goal is to raise $2012 in the next 3 months for The XXXChurch 10 Year Anniversary so that they can continue to fight the porn industry and "bind up the brokenhearted and proclaim freedom" for the women in this industry. It is time "to bestow upon them a crown of beauty instead of ashes". Please help me to do this...$1 at a time. No donation is too small. Join me and lets walk out Isaiah 61:1-3... together.

Give a dollar (or more) today here:

The Dead of Winter

January is my worst month.  I don't know if it started out long ago being consciously my least favorite month on the calendar, but I can say with great certainty that it is consistently my most depressing or, at the very least, my most melancholy.  I know I'm not the only one who feels this way so if you are part of the sad faced group of folks that wish we could fast forward from January 1st to Valentines Day (which has it's own set of troubles for me), read on.

There is the post holiday let down to contend with.  Here in the US, we are pretty much in celebration mode from October 31st-January 1st.  Then we get a big chunk of time (43 days, or approximately 6 weeks and some change) where we don't have much to look forward to.  Oh, there is Houseplant Appreciation Day (Jan. 10th), National Kazoo Day (Jan. 28th) and Ground Hog Day (Feb. 2nd) and the bigger holidays of Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan 16th) and the Super Bowl (Feb. 5), but since I pretty much detest football, find it utterly depressing that we lost a hero like MLK due to hate and fear, don't approve of daylight savings time, and find snowy/windy/rainy/yucky weather to be reason enough not to leave the house...ever, these 6+ weeks are not the best for me.  I also am not a fan of every commercial on television trying to remind me of every celebratory calorie I consumed between October 31st-January 1st so as to guilt trip me into joining the local gym/weight loss group.  Then there are the award shows.  Ah yes.  Award show "season" they call it.  Is it just me, or does it seem that these gigantic displays of wealth and grandeur seem a bit out of place when the majority of people in this country are struggling to pay the cable bill to watch said award show?  Are these movies and actors and programs really worth celebrating?  I mean, it's not like these people are curing cancer or feeding the poor.  I find it all so disenchanting.  Should we be bothered that more people vote for their favorite American Idol contestant than they do for the President of the US?  We aren't even in a Winter Olympic year, so television is not my friend during this time.

Some might say I have Seasonal Affective Disorder (who's acronym is ironically SAD).  I'm not sure if what I'm experiencing is really a medical disorder, or if what I (and many like me) have is simply JAB (January Always Bites).  I just simply can not recall one January in my entire life that was wonderful in any way.  And January is one of those long 31 day months...ugh.  Then when January spits me out, February comes along with all of its hearts and flowers and Valentines Day prep.  This is a simply dreadful holiday, especially when your single.  My friends and I jokingly refer to it a "Single Awareness Day" (who's acronym is ALSO ironically SAD) because, while most of the time I don't mind being single, along come Hallmark, and Kay Jewelers, and FTD Florists to remind me that love is in the air-just not the air in my immediate vicinity.  Actually, I think this whole "love" issue begins at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.  If I had a dime for every pet I kissed at midnight on NYE instead of a nice man who made my knees go weak, I would be in Jamaica right now and not affected by SAD or JAB or anything else.  A few Bahama Mammas, sun, and salt water would decisively put an end to or no man with a box of Godiva chocolates.

So what's the answer I wonder.  I'm pretty tired of having over 1/12th of my year be a time of dismay and depression....of being uninspired and unmotivated.  I turn to my keyboard.  Writing.  Writing is the answer.  Writing is a lover that never leaves me.  There is something simple and wonderful and magical about a blank sheet of paper before you write or type the first word.  It represents every possibility in the world.  I could write about how I feel about the snow and how I still find a special beauty in a fresh snowfall before anyone has shoveled the sidewalks or plowed the street.  How it clings to bear branches and power lines and makes the ordinary seem lovely.  Or I could write about the memory of the feeling of my toes digging into the warm sand on the beach in Jamaica many years ago while I watched my then small daughter play in the surf and build her first sandcastles.

I love being a Writer Girl.  I remember when I thought I could never be a writer.  After all, don't you have to have a degree and be published to really call yourself a "writer"?  The truth is I am a writer, and you my readers have made me more confident in my abilities,  Thank you for the last 7 months of reading this blog and giving me your feedback and encouragement.  It has brought with it a deeper purpose to my life.  I write, you read, and sometimes you get inspired to write too.  What a sweet joy that brings.  Thanks for reading this blog and thanks for passing it on and sharing it with your friends.  This time...this dead of winter (as my Gran use to call it) can produce some beautiful things if I chose to look past the restrictions of the circumstances and only see the richness of the opportunities.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Trusting Trust


Just typing your name causes me to shift uncomfortably in my seat.  I sit and stare at you for a long while.  Heavy sighs take over my breathing and my stomach twists slightly and then gurgles.  I nervously twist my hair around my index finger as I bite the inside of my lower lip until I taste the salt in my blood.  Trust.  My lifelong nemesis.  We meet again.  You have cost me everything because of my inability to give you to others (including myself) which has caused others to have the inability to give you to me.

You are the second most  powerful force on earth.  Love is the most powerful, but the currency of love is you,  Trust.  You and Love are wound so tightly around one another, like forgotten necklaces in an old jewelry box.   It is virtually impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins.  By the way, how DO those necklaces get so tangled just sitting still in a box...on the the dark?  I digress ;)

What if you, Trust, are broken?  What happens when you, Trust, become broken before a person is even aware of what you are and your vital importance?  I know that for me, the consequences have been life long and completely devastating.  When you, my Trust, was betrayed from an early age, Fear stepped in and happily filled your place.  This caused an inability to truly love...both others or myself.  Once I realized your value I chased after you with reckless abandon.  You were always so elusive, yet so tempting.  You would feed my desire to have you by letting me get close enough to touch you, even embrace you for a moment, before you slipped from my grasp again.  Leaving only your fragrance and the memory of what it felt like to hold you.

I hardly saw you when I was growing up, so I had nothing to pattern Trust for others after.  I couldn't even summon you for myself, no matter how hard I tried.  You weren't in me and, consequently, you were not mine to give.  You left a giant festering wound in my soul and Fear saw his opportunity.  He moved in.  Hung up some pictures.  Ordered cable and take-out and had truly found his Home.  However, Fear turned out to be a pretty terrible neighbor to Love.  In fact, Fear ran Love and her entire family (including her children Peace, Grace, and even little Joy) clean out of the neighborhood.  When Fear moved in Love and her clan ran if the very hair on their heads was on fire.  She knew that Fear would choke the life out of her and her family quickly, like weeds in a beautiful garden...or cancer in a body.

Fear caused me to allow lots and lot and lots of people into my life that would continue to secure his comfort in me.  I guess, like the rest of us, he was just trying to achieve a little "job security".  He was truly at the top of his game because the world had become a pretty scary place for everyone.  Bombs blew up buildings down the street from where I lived, and a few years later airplanes fell out of the sky in my back yard.  Years and years turned into decades of poor choices which solidified my perception that I couldn't even trust myself.  It was a prison.  I couldn't escape me.  I took me, and Fear, Disappointment, Disease, Destruction and the rest of Fear's groupies with me wherever I went.  I would try to ignore them.  I would try to distract myself with jobs, goals, hobbies, things and people.  I would even try to tell myself (and others) they weren't there anymore, but one can only turn a blind eye and a deaf ear so long before Truth boldly comes bursting through the door announcing herself...loudly.

The truest, thing I have come to know is God's word.  The Bible says, "There is no fear in love.  But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love"  (1 John 4:18).

Perfect Love.  The antithesis to Fear.  I had finally found my Anti-Venom.

I will say Fear put up one heck of a fight though...I definitely have to give credit where credit is due.  He held on for dear life.  Just when I thought the fight was over, Fear would scratch and claw his way back to his feet, ready for another round or two.  I was stunned by his tenacity.  I completely underestimated his strength.

Speaking of credit, I can't take any when it comes to the victory over Fear.  That was God.  He was there all along watching everything that was happening.  He caught every tear I cried in His scarred hands.  He stood by my bed (in home and hospitals) through the many sleepless nights...waiting....waiting...and hoping that THIS would be the night I finally asked Him to fight my fight and claim my life.  I kept Him waiting a very, very long time.  You see, I didn't have you, Trust, to give...not even to Him.

As you know, a few years ago we met again for one of our brief rendezvous, and I was able to hold on to you just long enough to give you to Him.  Fear had an absolute hissy fit and saw the writing on the wall.  His days were numbered and his reign as the ruler of my life had come to an end.  Ya wanna know the crazy thing?  Fear STILL calls me and texts me and wants to get together for coffee and "reminisce".  Can you believe that?  That crazy Fear! ;)

So we are.  You and me.  You have given me freedom because you live in me and I have you for myself, however you were a prize so hard fought for that I can scarcely give even a small portion of you to anyone, but God is working on that so I know we are gonna be fine...just fine indeed.  However, there is the mater of the things I did when Fear was in control, and you were not.  I hurt a lot of people...and a few of those people mean EVERYTHING in this world to me Trust.  The thing is, you take years to build, but only seconds to destroy...and a lifetime to repair IF the person is willing to even stick around.  Trust, I need you to do something for me, and it's on par with how you came back and began to grow again between me and my beautiful daughter.  I need you to go to my best friend in the whole world and I need you to tell, SHOW him...that you live in me and you've healed me.  And then could you stay with him?  Even when he is far away?  Why, you ask?  Because when Fear was in control, we hurt him and used him, and looked right through him as if he didn't even exist.  Yeah, I cheeks are hot and flushed with embarrassment just thinking about it, but you know how pushy Truth can be and she made me promise that if I ever had the opportunity, that I would make this right.  I don't know how many tomorrows I have and I really don't want him to remember me like that.  How will you know which one he is?  Oh, you can't miss him....he's tall and gangly and.....and has the most beautiful crystal blue eyes I have ever seen.

Thanks Trust.  I'm trusting in you.

Here is a wonderful blog post written by my brother in Christ of 20 years, Robert Mauti. We are also both figure skaters and have coached...