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I’ve been thinking about energy a lot this past week. Mainly because I have none. Or at least very little anyway. I’ve been doing battle with a series of headaches—including some migraines. It’s been frustrating.

For whatever reason migraines have the disconcerting side effect of causing me to feel even worse about myself than I normally do. It sucks. When I’m in the middle of the physical pain my brain is able to recognize that the emotional upheaval is simply a side effect of the migraine, and knows it will pass. Unfortunately that doesn’t help me feel any better. Here’s what my internal conversations sounds like.

Brain: Okay Spudsie. You know this “I’m never gonna make any progress” and “I’m a lousy person” crap is simply a side effect of the migraine pain. You know it will pass eventually and you’ll start to see things more clearly.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. (Side note: My emotions tend to be very sarcastic during migraines. ;-)) I hate this. I’m still one big gooey mess of pent up-ness. This isn’t because of the migraine. This simply is. I’m not any better off than I was a year ago. The migraines still attack and I’m no better at fighting them off. They still slam me to the ground—which is probably where I deserve to be anyway. You’re the logical one—surely you can see that.

Brain: (Deeply sighing) Give it time Spudster. Give it time. The pain will pass and your vision will clear. Just try to focus on drinking water and breathing deeply. Try not to dwell on beating yourself up.

Emotions: Yeah. Right. Try not to dwell on beating myself up. Pffffft. Like that’s gonna happen. What happens to you when someone tells you not to think of an elephant, hmmmmm???? That’s right—all you can think of is an elephant! Let me sulk in my self pity pit for a while. It’s the one thing I’m really good at after all. Oh! And the water thing…..you do realize that drinking THAT much water makes us run to the bathroom every thirty minutes, right? And you know how painful it is to move at all in the middle of a migraine. Can’t we just leave the water alone?

Brain: We’re drinking the water. Period. It helps flush all the lousy stuff out of our system. So just drink it and go take a nap will ya! At least when you are sleeping you can’t beat yourself up.

And so it goes. Yuck. The migraine pain is bad enough, but the emotional toll it takes is far worse. I end up completely drained of any positive energy.

So I’ve been thinking about that positive energy a lot this past week. Wondering where it goes. And what attracts it back my way. And how I’ve become soooooo much more aware of it in the past year. Of sensing it around me. Of feeling it flow through me—or get tied up in knots occasionally. Of feeling it in others.

Last Thanksgiving Mr. Spuds and I vacationed in Las Vegas. Two nights before leaving I slept wrong and knotted up some odd muscles in my neck. I do this occasionally and didn’t think too much of it. Well after a day of not being able to turn my head while on vacation I’d had enough. The Canyon Ranch Spa at the Palazzo (where we stayed) offers a Tension massage that focuses on the head and neck. Perfect! Bright and early the next morning I went down to the spa and made an appointment.

Until then I’d never had a massage in my life. I’m a fairly modest person and blush at the thought of having someone other than my husband see me wearing nothing but a strategically draped sheet. Well evidently pain is a pretty good motivator for me to break out of my comfort zone. While scheduling the massage I was asked if I wanted a male or female therapist. Male, definitely male. No hesitation on my part. These knots are like steel and I need someone with serious upper body strength to work them out. When I mentioned I’d never had a massage before the person scheduling the appointment said, “Oh! I have the perfect therapist for you. Gabriel. He’s wonderful, you’ll love him.” Okay, fine. Whoever. Just fix my neck!

I had no idea.

Gabriel was (and IS) amazing! He made me feel completely at ease. I didn’t feel awkward or uncomfortable or self conscious or anything. Wow! (At one point during the massage he joked about advertising in bus stations about offering massages from “the hands of an angel.” Mr. Spuds loved the play on his name and quipped for the rest of the vacation about how I was “touched by an angel.” Groan. I should probably hope these two never meet! LOL!) While he was working on getting rid of the knots (which were so pronounced I was tempted to name them) he kept talking about how I should come back for a full body massage at some point. That the Tension massage was good for working out specific problems, but the full body massage was sooooo much better.

In fact, he talked about it enough that he really shouldn’t have been surprised when I was his first appointment the very next morning for a full body Canyon Ranch massage. LOL! Turns out he was right. It was awesome! I left feeling completely relaxed and completely energized at the same time. Totally cool!

When we returned to Vegas in April (yes, yes….I know….it’s an amazing food city though….I simply can’t resist!), I went back to visit Gabriel again. This time I scheduled a massage the first morning we were in town. Ahhhhhh…..heaven. What a great way to start a vacation!

About half-way through the trip I felt lousy. We won’t talk about the reason. (Ahem. Any drink with the word “chocolate” in it really can’t be bad right? Even if you have 6 of them, right??? Groan. I’m old enough to know better!) Physically I was fine—no headaches, no stomach problems, no knots. I just felt off-kilter. I wasn’t hungry. I told Mr. Spuds I was going to see if Gabriel had any open appointments that day. Mr. Spuds though I had lost my mind. How on earth is a massage going to help?? I was convinced. My energy felt off—it wasn’t flowing normally. It felt knotted up somewhere inside. And I knew Gabriel could help.

Yay! I was right. When it came time for my appointment I told him how I was feeling and that I wanted to see if he could get me back to normal. Bingo! He knew exactly what to do. He asked a few questions and worked in a slightly different way than he had the last time. It worked! It was as though he pulled the energy from my head into my core and then kept it flowing (unknotted) through my legs and out my feet. Awesome! I left feeling totally relaxed, totally energized, and totally hungry!! (I’ve never claimed to be anything even approaching normal. LOL!)

The rest of the day felt magical. I turned my $20 gambling budget (last of the big spenders eh?) into $150. I had an amazing dinner at Bouchon with Mr. Spuds—and had the BEST mint ice cream I’ve ever had. (It tasted herbal instead of fake-minty. Loved it!!!) I had an incredible time at the Blue Man Group show—and Mr. Spuds got to participate and have the entire audience applaud him—totally cool!

The difference was night and day. Before, when my energy was tied in knots, I was trying to force enjoyment. “I am determined to enjoy myself. I’m not going to let feeling off-kilter keep me from doing the things I want to do.” I wasn’t wallowing, but I was pushing myself to keep going. Once the energy was flowing again, everything else flowed right along with it. Enjoyment simply happened. Joy was there—I didn’t have to force it or even go looking for it. It lived in me.

All in all it was an experience I hope to never forget. And I hope I can keep the lesson with me. When the energy is flowing, so is everything else. When the energy flows, I’m in flow. I love it when life lessons sneak up on ya!

Anyone who knows me IRL has heard about Gabriel before. I’ve gushed on and on and on and on about what an amazing massage therapist he is. Recently (within the past month) I was given the opportunity to spend two days at a pretty neat spa free of charge. (!!!) I scheduled a couple of different body treatments—a Swedish massage and a Papaya body scrub and treatment. And I found myself wondering how they would compare to what I’d had in Las Vegas. Would they be just as incredible? Would I find myself realizing that while Gabriel was great he wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all of massage therapists? Hmmmmmm….this could be interesting. I couldn’t wait to find out.

After the Swedish massage I told Mr. Spuds, “Okay. Now I know. Gabriel is a ROCK STAR/GOD among massage therapists!!!” The Swedish massage was nice. That’s about all I can say. If it had been my first massage ever I probably wouldn’t ever schedule another one. There wasn’t anything “bad” about it—it simply wasn’t worth what it would have cost.

The Papaya body scrub and treatment included another 50 minute massage—with a different therapist. Ahhhhh….much better than the last therapist. Still no Gabriel, but at least this one managed to work out a couple of my knots.

In case I haven’t been crystal clear with my opinion let me say it plainly. If you ever travel to Las Vegas (and want a massage) call the Canyon Ranch Spaclub at the Palazzo/Venetian and book any appointment you can get with Gabriel! Seriously. He’s that good. Cut your gambling budget, see a cheaper show, skip an expensive meal (and you KNOW he’s got to be good if I suggest skipping awesome food!)…..do whatever you have to do. Just make it happen.

He’s great at making people feel comfortable—and every person at the spa talks about how much they love working with him. He’s great at being able to ask the right questions and move you around in such a way that he can tell what muscles need extra attention—even if you don’t realize it. (He asked if my right hip was bothering me very much. Ummm….no…not really. Then he pressed on one spot. OUCH! Okay…evidently it is bothering me and I hadn’t realized it. LOL!) And he totally gets that energy flows through the body, and that sometimes it gets stuck and needs to be worked out.

I love it when God uses something unexpected and/or unpleasant (like knotted neck muscles that won’t let me move my head) to teach me life lessons and introduce me to really awesome people!! Looking back I am SOOOOOO thankful for sleeping wrong and knotting up those muscles. It’s turned into something awesome!

Now if only there were a way to move Gabriel and his family closer to Ohio…..hmmmmmmm….

Coaching woes

I’ve been a quiet potato for a long time. April was really busy—work stuff, vacation, work stuff, life. I still had lots of thoughts in my head I wanted to get on paper—it just never happened as quickly as I wanted it to. Once May started I recommitted to setting aside more time to put cyber pen to cyber paper.

Clearly that didn’t happen.

May and June were really, REALLY tough coaching months. And since the stuff I work on with Coach Jim typically motivates much of my writing, I turned into a quiet potato.

If you’ve read much of my blog at all you’ll know that I almost ALWAYS write about how hard this coaching stuff is for me. How challenged I am. How rewarding it is while at the same time being one of the most difficult things I’ve done. And through all of that I keep writing about it. ‘Cause writing helps. :-)

May and June were different. It was tough in a different way.

I didn’t recognize the difference at first. Jim has been coaching me though some self-esteem stuff. And that’s a gi-normous area of struggle for me. So when I first began noticing differences I assumed it was related to the subject matter. As time marched on I began to question that assumption. Just what was going on?

In a “typical” conversation with Jim I’ll laugh, cry (or at least get a little bleary-eyed), roll my eyes at something, and occasionally think “what planet is this guy from?!” I’m used to all of those reactions and understand most of them are some form of defense that I want to move beyond. So I try to see them, acknowledge them (silently), and move on. I found the conversations in May and June were different.

I found myself not looking forward to the calls at all. Maybe that could have been an early clue—previously no matter how difficult the subject matter I’d always looked forward to the calls. I found myself fighting frustrations before the conversations even started. I felt as though I wanted to resist everything Jim said. I wanted to “correct” everything he said. I found myself with really strong desires to swear profusely during the conversations. And not just the “light” words. Typically a “hell” or “d@mn” is as far as I go. In May and June I found myself frequently wanting to drop f bombs.

Whoa! Where the heck were those coming from?

Finally (better late than never!) I realized there was something else going on. Something bigger than the topic at hand was bothering me. So I sat down and thought about it. And looked back through my notes.

Aha! There was something bothering me! Jim had done something a little different in one of our conversations. He’d used a technique that gave him the exact result he was looking for at the time, but really stuck in my craw. (Does anyone use that expression anymore? LOL!) And I hadn’t realized how much it was bothering me.

Hmmmmmm….obviously I needed to clear the air. So I sent Jim an e-mail saying something like, “Hey next time we talk I want to spend some time talking about X. It’s getting in the way of our conversations and I’d like to address it.”
Being the excellent coach that he is, Jim readily agreed. “Sure Spudsie. We’ll make it the first thing on our agenda.”

Cool.

I had some fears and concerns going into this conversation with Jim. I had no idea how he’d react or respond. I had no idea if I’d be able to express myself in a way that made sense to Jim. I didn’t know if I would be able to explain where my frustration was coming from. Or why it was bothering me so much. But even with these fears and concerns I noticed I didn’t have any of that active nervous energy I frequently get before going into new situations. Cool! I impressed myself!

What I had assumed would take only a portion (15 to 20 minutes maybe?) of our time ended up taking longer than we were scheduled to talk. (Apologies for running over the allotted Mrs. Coach Jim!!!) And I ended up feeling more frustrated thinking back on our conversation than I did before we talked.

Uh oh. That’s never good.

My “greatest” fear (or as I told Mr. Spuds my most “rational” fear lol) was not being able to explain myself. Not being able to articulate what I was feeling in a way that would make sense to Jim. I had talked about it with Mr. Spuds and he understood what I meant and why I was upset. So I thought explaining it to Jim would be doable—not easy, but at least possible. ‘Cause Mr. Spuds often looks at me as tho I’m speaking a foreign language when I talk about coaching stuff. If he understood me, Jim would surely understand me. Right?

Yeah…….ummmm……maybe not.

At the end of the call I felt I hadn’t been able to explain myself at all. (Bang head here.) How the heck did that happen???? Grrrrrr…… Jim made a suggestion of something else to try—another way of trying to put the pieces together. I agreed to try. That was Monday evening.

All day Tuesday I would think about it if I had a minute or two free. I’d roll it over in my mind and see what resonated. See how I felt. See what thoughts and feelings came pouring out of me. And I got wave after wave after wave after wave of frustration. And not much else.

Well….that’s not entirely true. I also got a headache.

I tried everything I could to get rid of the headache. Used all of the tools in my toolbelt. Breathe deeply. Tons and tons of water. Correct posture. Correct foods. Nothing worked. And I got hit with the worst migraine I’ve had in a year Tuesday night around 11 PM. I gotta tell ya…..I can’t think of many things worse than being curled up on the bathroom floor, crying uncontrollably—even though you know crying makes the head pain even worse—and having wave after wave of feeling like a failure hit you. Migraines are awful. Especially when they are completely stress induced.

Mr. Spuds helped me through it. He handed me Kleenex and listened. And even offered, “Do you want me to talk to Jim? “ Awwwww…how sweet. :-) He finally bundled me into bed and I managed to pass out more than fall asleep. Either way—I managed to get a few hours of rest.

On Wednesday I e-mailed Jim. “I’m a mess. This isn’t working. Let me try to say this one more time.”

A-ha! Evidently whatever words I used in the “I’m a mess” e-mail made sense. Yay! :-) Jim called me and said, “I think I understand. Is this what you are saying…..”

High fives all around! Yep—that’s it!

Truth be told, that follow-up conversation is pretty fuzzy in my memory. I was still in huge amounts of migraine pain. What I do remember is thinking, “Yes! You’ve got it!” And working to set some new ground-rules or expectations on both sides. Phew! That was more like what I had expected our Monday conversation to be like.

And now I’m back to looking forward to coaching conversations. I’m looking forward to crying, laughing, rolling my eyes, and somehow through it all making progress with someone who I know is on my side, someone who has my best interest in mind. Yay!! The good stuff!!!

So why write this since it all turned out so well? Good question.
Jim absolutely ROCKS as a coach!! (He also totally rocks as a Summer Reading List putter-togatherer…but that’s an entirely different blog post. ;-)) Working with him is one of the best things I’ve ever done—hands down. He constantly amazes me with his suggestions, with his patience, with his listening skills, with his creativity in working with me. The mind boggles! I hope some of that comes through in my blog stuff.

All of those things are knowns. They are givens. I don’t question them at all.

Maybe that’s why it was so difficult for me to recognize that something he had done wasn’t working for me. I’d never considered that I might know me better than Jim knows me. Well…duh! Stopping to think about it that makes perfect sense. I’m the one living in my skin, in my head, in my heart, in my spirit. Who else besides me is going to know when something doesn’t work??

I wanted to write about this as a reminder to myself that I have the right and the responsibility to speak up when I’m upset. When something has hurt me. When something isn’t working. Just like I did this time. No game playing. No pouting. No waiting to see if someone else notices I’m not the same. Just like I did this time—speak up as soon as I can articulate what’s bugging me. Kudos to me for doing that this time. And kudos to me for becoming aware of what to look out for in the future.

I also wanted to write about this for anyone who wonders what it’s like working with a coach. Conflict (on some level) is inevitable. (Migraines are optional. ;-)) If you have the right coach (and it’s abundantly clear I have the right coach for me!) working through the conflict may take several tries, but in the end it’s totally worth it.

Totally.

(With thanks and apologies to Tina Turner for the title.  J)

The last couple of coaching conversations with Coach Jim have centered around revisiting/revamping/revising/reworking my goals.

When I started a year or so ago I had three goals originally and fairly quickly added a fourth.

The first three were pretty basic—one relates to my health, one relates to being more of an optimist (though I don’t really use the word optimist to describe myself—I told Jim it felt a little like calling myself a Republican—it just felt like something that would never be true!  ;-)), the third one relates to my emotions.

As it had been many moons since I had really looked at my goals they were probably over-due for some revisions.  I’ve made a number of changes in the past year and have progressed to the point where the goals as written weren’t really “big” enough for what I now want to do.

It was nice being able to go in and tweak them as needed!  It helped me see I have indeed made progress.  Who knew??  (Well…..I suppose everyone close to me knew…..I was probably the only one holding onto an old picture of myself.  LOL!)

The fourth goal kinda stumped me.  It originally read:

“I perceive myself as positively as others see me.  I am comfortable with myself and my emotions.  I allow myself to be vulnerable when appropriate and allow others to serve me or take care of me when necessary.”

A year ago it was a huge struggle for me to put even that much into writing.  It felt like a huge leap. 

I see it from a different perspective now.  It seems overly restrictive.  It seems somehow limiting.  It seems….well…it seems small.

While I haven’t achieved (for lack of a better word) this goal—oh heck no, I’m still far from it — I want more.  I’m not satisfied with that as my goal—I want something more all encompassing.

You know how from Einstein forward physicists (or at least some physicists) have been working to develop a unified field theory?  (You don’t?  Well check this out.  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/elegant/everything.html)  They are searching for a single theory to tie two incredibly diverse fields/areas/whatevers of physics together.  They are searching for something bigger.  (Which, if you believe string theory may be an answer, ironically turns out to be something super small.  J)

I found myself wanting something similar.  No….not a string!  One unifying goal.  One goal for the big picture.  One goal that the other, more specific, goals fall under.  Something to tie everything together with a nice bright piece of ribbon—or string if you care to stay with the physics analogy.  Grin!

And I couldn’t quite come up with anything.  Actively thinking about it didn’t give me visible progress.  Letting it “stew” in the back of my mind was equally unproductive.  Trying to write about it produced lots of blank space on the page.

Hey!  I know!  I’ll talk with Coach Jim about it!  Cool…….maybe an actual out-loud conversation will help my brain find what I’m looking for. 

So I did.

Almost two weeks later I still don’t have my fourth goal fully developed.  AND I’m perfectly okay with that.  Talking with Jim helped me find the direction I want to go with my “unifying” goal.

As you can probably see from the original fourth goal, I don’t feel like I have an accurate view of myself.  I can tell you 3.2 million things I do wrong, or areas that “need” improvement.  But ask me something I do that I’m proud of?  Something I do well?  Yeah……not much material for those questions.  My vision of myself, my perception, is skewed.  I know that and it doesn’t sit well with me.

So originally I wanted to see myself as I am.  Flaws and all.

And now I realize that isn’t quite enough.  I want more.

I want to be comfortable with who I am.  I want to accept myself.

And that still isn’t quite enough.  I still want more.  The “unifying” goal is bigger than that.

So as I talked with Jim about all of this our conversation kept taking twists and turns…..which is normal and really cool!  It felt like the more I talked the more I realized that what I was saying wasn’t big enough.  It wasn’t hitting home. 

I talked about wanting to be kind to myself.

That wasn’t quite right.  So Jim kept asking, what else?  What other words?  What is bigger?

Hmmmmm….okay….I dunno….gentleness?  I want to be gentle with myself?

While that is true (I typically am harsher on myself than anyone else would ever be….long stories there….I’ll spare you the details.), it still wasn’t resonating with me.  Kind I felt I could claim—I could put that into a goal.  It wasn’t what I was looking for though.  I wanted more.  Gentleness didn’t sit well.  That seemed to feel like I wouldn’t hold myself accountable—that I would let myself “get away” with too much.  That wasn’t working.

Jim kept asking, what else?  What is bigger?

Hmmmmmmmmm……I don’t have a clue Jim!  Okay Spudise….keep going…..keep searching….keep tossing the nets wide and into new waters…..

Think.  Think.  Think. 

 

Pooh thinking

 

 

 

 

Okay….what encompasses kindness and aspects of gentleness and still allows me to hold myself accountable for the stuff I need to be accountable.  There’s got to be a word.  There’s got to be a concept.  Keep working your way through this.  Keep going.  What does that unknown concept look like in others?  What allows you to extend grace and at the same time hold other people accountable?

Whomp.  (How’s that for onomatopoeia???  ;-))  Right upside the head.  It hit me.

And it scared the livin daylight out of me!  Seriously.  It scared me.  I knew if I didn’t start talking immediately I’d chicken out.  So I started talking.    

“Blah…blah…blah….blah…I can’t even believe I’m about to say this Jim….it’s love.  Love is bigger than kindness and gentleness.  Love.  That’s what I’m looking for.  I want to be able to say ‘I love me.’ and not burst into tears at the thought.  Blah….blah….blah….”

(The “blah…”part is me stalling by the way.  J)

If this caught Jim a fraction as off-guard as it caught me he probably fell over and hit his head.  Seriously.  Self-love is NOT a topic I have ever wanted to discuss.  The mere mention of it a year ago had me in tears.  Jim asked me at one point if I could say “I love me.” which caused me to promptly burst into tears.

Could I speak the words?  Sure I could.  Speaking the words is easy.  Speaking them and meaning them?  Nope.  Couldn’t do that.  And speaking them without meaning them felt wrong—it felt like cheating—it felt like it was going against everything I had committed to when I decided to work with Jim.  I had committed to being honest.  I had committed to being open and not hiding.  And saying “I love me” when I clearly didn’t “love me” would be lying.  And I wasn’t about to lie.  I could NOT say the words and have any sincerity behind them.  I could not say them and have any truth in the statement.  So I chose not to say them.

The tears didn’t come from a physical inability to speak simple words.  The tears and drama (not that I would EVER admit to being even slightly dramatic ;-)) came from knowing and feeling that I couldn’t honestly say them. 

And here we are…..a scant year later….and I’m the one bringing it back into the conversation.  How bizarre is that?!

“Do you know what you just said Spudsie?”  Jim asked.

“Yeah…..blah…blah…blah…” Desperately trying to avoid talking about it.  Maybe if I just keep talking he’ll let me off the hook. 

Snort!  Fat chance with that Spudsie!  J

Jim kept talking about what a huge change that was from a year ago.  The more he talked the more I wanted to get away from it.  I just wasn’t ready to dive into it.  It’s still a brand new thought.  I didn’t want to think about the implications just yet.  Fortunately Jim’s really, really , REALLY terrific at saying things in a gentle way so that I can hear them for at least a fraction of a second.

Frankly I don’t really remember much of the coaching conversation after that point.  And we ended early because Jim could clearly tell I wasn’t really able to move forward at that point. That I’d hit my “maximum progress” point for the day.

So we talked about books for a few minutes.  And I LOVE talking about books!!  LOL!

Where am I now?  In terms of having a “formal” goal on paper….I’m no further than I was 2 weeks ago.  And that’s okay for now.  I’m still trying to be comfortable with the thought.  (And please, no Yoda quotes about “Do or do not.  There is no try.”  Grin!) 

So my starting point for my “unifying” goal is “I love me.”  I want to give it more definition…I want to give it measurableness (is that even a word??? Spell-check certainly doesn’t think so!)  I want to be able to define a little more what that looks like.  Okay…okay… I want to be able to begin to define what that looks like.  When you have nothing I suppose defining it “a little more” isn’t very precise.  LOL.

Goal number four.  The unifying goal.  I love me.

Can I do it?  I don’t know.  Maybe?  I think so.

And that’s a good place to begin.

Out-With and the Fury

If you’ve read “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas” by John Boyne you’ll recognize these two phrases.  (Tho I haven’t seen it yet, I imagine if you’ve seen the movie you’ll recognize them as well….)

One of the things I wanted to do when I started this blog was to write about the books I read and the impact they have on me.  I’ve done that a few times since starting this—tho not as often as I imagined I would.  Or as often as I’d like to.  I have so many thoughts flowing through my head when I finish a book they never seem to “gel” into anything that would make sense to anyone else.

After reading this book I don’t really care if it makes sense to anyone else.  I want to put pen to paper (even if it’s only e-paper) and record a few thoughts.  It doesn’t matter if it flows well, or if it’s something that interests anyone else.  I want to write about it anyway.

Holocaust books trouble and intrigue me at the same time.  They always have.  I’m not sure why.  This book was no exception.  It’s written from the perspective of a 9 year old German boy.  It’s charming, beguiling, abhorrent and disquieting all at the same time. 

I don’t want to re-tell the story or discuss the plot.  If you want to read what people think check out the reviews on Amazon.com or on Goodreads.com.  Plenty of people smarter than me have written lots of thoughts.

There is something so compelling, so captivating in Bruno’s story.  You see Auschwitz (or “Out-With” as he pronounces it) and the Fuehrer (or the “Fury” as Bruno calls him) through the eyes of an innocent, naïve 9 year old child.  The author does a remarkable job of showing his adult audience the horror of the situation while sheltering his younger readers from the full vileness of Auschwitz and the Holocaust.  I am truly impressed with how Boyne was able to successfully balance the two. 

As an adult reader of his book I found myself drawn into Bruno’s life more than I had realized.  At the end of chapter 18 I had to literally set down the book.  I set it aside and said out loud, “I don’t want to read the rest.  This will NOT end well.  I don’t want to read this anymore.  I don’t want to know how it ends.  He’s so innocent.  He has no idea.”

I picked it back up a few minutes later and read chapter 19 in almost total denial.  “Maybe it will be okay.  Maybe it won’t be as bad as I think.  Maybe the author won’t take the story where I think he’s taking it.  I’m jumping to conclusions.  Maybe it will turn out fine.” 

How did it end?  You’ll just have to read the book to find out.  (Or e-mail me for more of my thoughts offline.)  I’ll say only that the author impressed the heck out of me.

The thing that is staying with me (as much as the story) is the author’s note at the end of the book.

Boyne writes, “The issue of writing about the Holocaust is, of course, a contentious matter, and any novelist who explores it had better be sure about his or her intentions before setting out.  It’s presumptuous to assume that from today’s perspective one can truly understand the horrors of the concentration camps, although it’s the responsibility of the writer to uncover as much emotional truth within that desperate landscape as he possible can.”

Wow.

Maybe that hints at why Holocaust literature pulls at me so much.  Maybe it’s (at least partially) because I know that I cannot understand what happened.  What it must have been like.  What it must have felt like to experience it.  I cannot imagine how those who ran the camps managed to convince themselves it was okay to treat other human beings so horribly.  So brutally.  I cannot imagine how so many people knew about it and did nothing.  And how so many more people intentionally chose NOT to have knowledge of what was happening.  How many people chose to deny what was happening.

I can’t wrap my brain or my heart around any of those questions.  So I read, and re-read, as many different perspectives as I can.  I read as many different authors as I can.  Any well-written book that touches on the Holocaust in any way—even if the main focus is not present, first-person perspective.  From “The Reader” to “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” I am drawn to them.  With a curiosity to learn more.  To attempt to gain a better understanding.  To see things from a new perspective.  To answer in any small way possible, “Why?” and “What can I do to keep it from happening again?”

None of the answers are satisfactory.

There aren’t enough words in the universe to explain “Why.”  When I get to Heaven the first thing I’m going to ask God is, “Why?”  I am positive I will not be alone.   Faith (the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things unseen) alone allows me to trust God will have an answer we can all accept.  I cannot imagine what it will be.

“What can I do to keep it from happening again in my lifetime?”  Yeah.  That question makes me want to scream.  And cry.  Look at the genocide/holocaust in Rwanda and Darfur and Zimbabwe.  Those were in my lifetime.  Those were in my adult lifetime.  What did I do?  What am I doing?  How often did I actively avoid news stories…..feeling there was nothing I could do.  I tell myself, those places are so far away.  Maybe it’s not so bad.  Maybe it’s not what they are saying.  Maybe……

But I know.  It is that bad.  It is what they are saying, and have said.  It is.

And I feel so helpless.  So powerless.

I pray, “God do SOMETHING!  End this!  End it now.  You can do that.  You can bring people to their senses. Please.  Please.  Please!  I’m begging.  Bring peace.  Bring love.  Bring understanding.”    And I see no change.

Maybe I’m drawn to Holocaust literature because I’m searching for an answer.  What can I do?  What can I do?  What can I do?

I have no answers.  So I continue searching.

I’m borrowing liberally from Coach Jim’s blog today.  This past week he wrote a GREAT entry about attitude. 

Okay….it’s about waaaaay more than attitude.  In fact it’s probably more about perspective than attitude.  Just bear with me and keep reading.  Hopefully it will become clearer.

First things first.  Here’s a link to Jim’s blog entry. http://www.lifewithhappiness.com/2009/04/nothing-is-good-or-bad/  It’s worth the couple of minutes it will take to read the entire thing.  (And he’s much more concise with his writing than I am.  J) 

Here’s the introduction to his blog.

“…there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”
Hamlet, Act II Scene 2

This quote from Shakespeare is one of my all-time favorites… and defines a foundational element of my coaching practice and life philosophy.

Events are just events.  Stuff happens.  That’s it.

THEN…we create a story to explain that event.  In our “story” we interpret what happened and make up reasons why it happened, and that story evokes an emotional response from us… and suddenly an event is labeled: good, bad, ugly.  And we feel sadness, optimism, fear, anger, appreciation, frustration, concern, etc

Not from the event, but from our thinking about the event.”

I love that!!!  And it’s soooooooo true!

When I see others “over-reacting” (granted, that’s an assessment on my part…..I think you know what I mean regardless …)it’s super easy for me to see that it’s the story they are telling themselves about the event, rather than the event, that is causing them stress, anxiety, etc.

I mean really, when someone doesn’t use their turn signal (or their “directional” as I often say) it’s not because they intentionally want to cause you to swear at them.  They aren’t doing it to intentionally aggravate you.  I’m nearly positive they aren’t thinking about you at all.  They are simply doing what’s easiest for them.  And ignoring the traffic laws.  Ahem.  How freakin’ hard is it to use a turn signal anyway?!?!

What?  Oh.  Sorry.  I’m off track already.  (Sheepish grin!)

Regardless of my lack of focus, this seems to be the perfect example.

If I’m the passenger in a car and the driver gets upset because someone else didn’t use a turn signal, it’s easy for me to see that the driver is reacting to the story they are telling themselves rather than the actual event.

When I’m driving the car and someone doesn’t use a turn signal, and it causes me to lose 30 seconds of time I’ll never get back…..well….that’s an entirely different story.  Grin!  Or perhaps it’s the exact same story….I’m simply telling it to myself rather than seeing someone else doing it.

It’s challenging to pull back from the story and look at the event for what it is.  And the more emotionally involved in the situation I am the more difficult it is for me to see the possibility of any story other than the one I tell myself.  After all, I am the sun and the universe revolves around me, right?????

No?  Are you sure?  ;-)

Once I’ve recognized I’m in the middle of reacting to my story rather than the event it’s usually fairly easy to coach myself through, “What other reason(s) might explain this?” type conversations.  And I can calm myself down and remind myself that the world does NOT revolve around me.  I can look at the situation from a different perspective and react in a different manner. 

While it’s seldom easy, I find it do-able in most situations.

Where I really struggle is in recognizing I’m reacting to my story rather than to the situation.  I’m typically so wrapped up in “this is awful, how could anyone do this to me, poor potato, doesn’t anyone ever think about me, why is everyone so mean, why are they trying to ruin my plans…” that I don’t realize it’s my own personal story I’m reacting to.  So I’ve been working on that.  On trying to realize that when I feel like I want to scream at someone it’s very likely because of how I’m interpreting the events—rather than the events themselves.

Some days I’m more successful than others.

Today is a day full of challenges.

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days.  I’ve learned (over the past 15 plus years) to be very specific with Mr. Spuds when letting him know what I’d like to do to celebrate my birthday.  (Remind me to share the bowling alley birthday story at some point.  ;-)  It’s a classic!)  Some years I don’t really want to do much of anything, some years I want to have a bunch of people over, some years I just want to do odd stuff.

This is an “odd stuff” year.  When talking to Mr. Spuds a few weeks ago about what I wanted to do, I asked if he would consider taking me to Nordstrom’s to shop the Saturday afternoon before my birthday.  He said that sounded like fun.  (And yes, there is a limit to what I can spend.  LOL!)  Cool!  So I’ve been looking forward to this ever since. 

Making plans can often cause more stress for me than I’d like.  I’m a total capital J (MBIT) and a bit of a struggling-to-let-go-of-the-need-to-pretend-I-have-control-of-anything control freak.  What can I say?  It’s where I am and it’s a struggle.  I’ve managed to relax some over the years.  In fact just a few weeks ago someone who’s only known me for a year or so called me “laid back.”  Whoa!  Anyway, making plans can cause stress because I have pictured in my mind exactly how everything will happen, will fall into place, will go according to plan.

And we all know how often things go according to plan.  Never!

Back to shopping.

I’d been looking forward to shopping today for a while.  Good weather or bad didn’t matter.  I’d prefer sunny and warm-ish—but whatever.  It’s indoors so no big deal.  I’d sleep in.  Get up and get ready.  Read a little.  Do the odd chore around the house.  Some point mid afternoon we’d head out.  And maybe grab some dinner on the way back.  Or if it was still too early to eat we could always stop at a book store, right!  (No comments about how many books I already have to read please Jim.  You’re just as addicted as I am!  LOL!  ;-))  Just a laid back kinda day.  One thing to do, not really planned.

I could picture it perfectly in my mind.  Ahhhhh.  What fun!

Being able to picture it perfectly in my mind might have been my first clue that I had “planned” it far more than I was admitting.  Sigh.

Mr. Spuds came home last night and told me about some guys from work who were getting together to celebrate a birthday.  They were getting together Saturday night—it sounded like fun to him.  Did I want to go?  Cool!  Yeah, let’s do it.  They are a great group of people.  We can stop by for a drink or two or dessert.  Yeah.

Okay.  We can go from Nordstrom’s to meet them.  They are getting together around 7PM.

What?  Ummmm….that’s not exactly what I had pictured.  Okay Spudsie….compromise.  It isn’t really that big of a deal.  It’s not like Mr. Spuds is trying to “ruin my plans” for the day.  Deep breath.  Okay.  He’s simply trying to work out the timing of 2 things we both want to do.  Okay.  This can work.  I can adjust the picture in my head.  I can push it back a couple of hours.  Okay.  Adjustment made with relative ease.  The irritation is gone.  This will be fun!

I didn’t sleep well last night and woke up feeling a little under the weather.  With very little energy.

Grrrr…..that’s not how I wanted to feel today! 

Okay Spuds…just go with it.  Relax.  Let Mr. Spuds make the bank-run by himself.  It will be fine.  Stay in bed later.  Take a long shower.  Relax.  Okay.  Adjustment made again.  Still gonna be an awesome day.

Go downstairs.  What?!  Mr. Spuds is still here?  I thought he’d left for the bank a long time ago?  What are you still doing here?  Oh.  You thought I wanted to go with you.  Sorry!  My bad.  I don’t feel well, could you go without me?  Okay.  Back upstairs.

What?!  You still haven’t left?  Now what?  Oh.  You can’t find your keys.  Sigh.  No I haven’t seen them.  Why don’t you take mine?  Okay.  Keep looking.  I’m sure they will turn up.

Hey Spuds…..it’s not like he intentionally misunderstood your desire to go to the bank with him.  And he certainly didn’t lose his keys on purpose.  Okay.  Deep breath.  This doesn’t impact you day at all.  Let it go.  No need to react to you story that the fates are conspiring against you today.  J

Eat lunch.  Read more of “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.”  Listen to the birds.  Watch the squirrels (sorry Maggie Mae….I mean the tree rats!) steal the bird seed.  Ahhhhh….fluffy tailed rodents who think they are birds.  What fun!  I may not feel good, but at least I can enjoy the wildlife.

Mr. Spuds decides he wants to make a major grocery shopping run.  What?  Today?  WHA?!?!  It’s already after lunch.  You’ll never get the shopping done and get back in time to head out shopping when I wanted to.  Just when did you think we’d leave?  HOW LATE?!  I wanted to be out of the house no later than 4PM.  ??!!?!?!

Okay.  Another few minutes of deep breathing.  I can adjust again.  It’s not that big a deal.  Let go of your story Spudsie.  There’s still enough time to get everything done.  We’ll just push it back a little later than you had planned.  No big deal.  An easy adjustment to make right?  Okay.  In fact, you can use the time Mr. Spuds is at the grocery store to write.  You’ll be guaranteed no interruptions.  Yeah.  Way to spin it into a positive Spudsie!!  You go!

What?!  You’re still here?  I thought you left 15 minutes ago.  What?  Seriously?  You can’t find your keys AGAIN?!  Okay.  Okay.  Sorry for the tone.  Did you have them when you came home from the bank?  Yes.  Okay.  Did you have anything else in your hands?  Can we re-trace your steps?  Was the garage door open?

(Perhaps I should mention here….Mr. Spuds losing his keys brings back memories of when our house was broken into.  It happened overnight and we didn’t realize we had been robbed until the next morning when Mr. Spuds was ready to leave for work and couldn’t find his keys.  That was our first sign something was wrong.  I still tend to flash back to that moment when Mr. Spuds says he can’t find his keys.  My story immediately flashes to “We’ve been robbed again!”)

Okay.  We’ll find them later.  Here are mine.

Okay.  I’m sure the keys weren’t stolen Spudsie.  He just mis-placed them.  They will turn up.  Deep breath.  Okay.  Let’s write!

45 minutes later I hear the garage door open.

What?!  45 minutes is NOT enough time for a major grocery shopping trip.  Is that Mr. Spuds?  Or did someone else manage to open the garage door and walk into the house.  “Hello?”  “Hello?”

(Evidently 2 instances of Mr. Spuds mis-placing his keys in one day sends my sub-conscious mind to “someone will break into your house again” mode.  Sigh.)

Mr. Spuds?  What are you doing here?  You forgot your list?  Seriously? 

I’m sure the irritation was obvious in my face and in my voice.  I fought to control it but I’m not sure how much good it did. 

As Mr. Spuds left again I found myself really irritated.  My story?  I’m not sure what it was.  Something along the lines of , “Nothing EVER goes the way I want it to.  I can NEVER plan anything without it falling apart.  All I wanted was to be at Nordstrom’s right now.  What is that so flippin hard?!  Doesn’t anyone ever LISTEN to me when I talk?  When I tell them what I want to do?  One afternoon.  That’s all I wanted.  One afternoon!”

Whoa there potato-woman!  Calm the heck down!  That’s a temper tantrum worthy of a two year old!

You know what?  It’s not that important.  Really.  You will still go shopping.  And you’ll meet Mr. Spuds’ co-workers after shopping.  It’s not on the exact time frame you imagined, and you’ve had to re-assure yourself three times that no-one has broken into your house.  And you know what, that’s all okay.  You were able to get some chores around the house completed.  You were able to write for a while.  You were able to take it easy and try to feel better.  You got some reading done.  It’s a beautiful day.  Why the heck are you getting so stressed at a story you are telling yourself that isn’t even accurate?

C’mon potato-woman.  Deep breath.  Change the story.  Quit being irritated.  It’s not even Mr. Spuds that has you irritated.  It’s the thieves who broke into your house that have you on edge.  Why give them so much power?  It’s your own un-communicated expectations that aren’t being met.  No one can read minds.  And plans can always be changed.  Different does NOT mean less.  It simply means different.

Okay.  Letting it go.  No more frustration.  Only happiness.  And optimism.  And joy.  And enthusiasm.  And relaxation.  And peace.  And calm.

Hmmmm….that’s a pretty tasty emotional stew!  J

Let me start by saying I hope Coach Jim doesn’t sue me for plagiarism!  ‘Cause “happiness is a decision” is featured pretty predominately on all his stuff.  If I pause to think about it I bet he’ll choose to be happy I “stole” his line….fingers crossed!  ;-)  (Please don’t sue the potato….please don’t sue the potato….please don’t sue the potato…)

In all seriousness, happiness as a decision (rather than an event) is something I’m becoming more and more comfortable with.  I love the concept and have since I first heard it from Jim a few years ago.  I was instantly drawn to it.  Putting it into practice?  Well….that’s another story.  It takes a lot of work.  It doesn’t come natural.

Or at least it hasn’t in the past.

Two things in the past month helped me realize how much I’ve changed—even within the past six months.  How much I’ve really started to integrate that philosophy, that belief, that truth into my life.  It’s pretty cool!

A couple of months ago our church started talking about “Dinners of 8.”  What on earth is a “dinner of eight???” I asked myself.  It turns out it is a dinner for eight people.  Well…..whodathunk?  LOL.  Literally dinners of eight.  They ask for couples to host a dinner (pitch-in style) for six other people.  They recommend you try to find a group of people you don’t know and sign up for a dinner with them.  Dinner with six total strangers.

Oh yeah.  Tons of fun for an introvert who prefers books to just about anything else.  That sounds as appealing as eating a bowl full of green beans!  (Have I ever told my green bean story?  Probably not.  Suffice it to say that green beans and this potato do NOT get along.  I’ll spare you the details.)

Despite my “I’d-really-rather-not-do-this” internal attitude Mr. Spuds and I signed up for a group.  We knew none of the people on the list.  Didn’t recognize a single name.  This could be kinda fun!

What?!?!  Fun?!?!  Did I really just have that thought???  That’s odd…..that seems fairly out of character for me.  Hmmmmm…..

Yep.  Sure enough I found myself looking forward to the dinner with a positive attitude and a great deal of curiosity.  Wonder who we’ll meet?  More curiosity than nerves.  In fact there were no nerves involved at all.  That surprised me.

As we were getting ready to leave Mr. Spuds commented on felling a tiny-bit nervous about going into such an intimate setting with 6 people we don’t know.  He said something like, “If I’m feeling like this I can only imagine how you are feeling!” 

That stopped me in my tracks.  Not because of what he said, but because I realized I didn’t have any feelings of nervousness at all.  None.  Zip.  Nadda.  Zilch.  Nothing.  I felt calm.  Peaceful.  Curious.  And it all came naturally—automatically.  I didn’t have to talk/breathe/stand myself into the feeling.  It was already there.  No butterflies.  No anxiousness about what I would say.  Would I remember everyone’s name?  Would I say something stupid?  Would I put my foot in my mouth?  None of those thoughts were running through my head.  I was in a totally calm, peaceful, curious place.

Wow.

Really! Wow!

Totally different response than I’ve ever had to meeting a new group of people.  I like it!!!

So that was my first hint that I was making some pretty big progress.  It didn’t really sink in though.

Thursday was haircut day for the Spuds family.  It was also “let’s-add-some-color-to-the-normal-brunette-tinged-with-grey” day.  Yup.  A potato who colors her hair.  Grin!

I totally trust my hairdresser.  She knows how to make my hair look good—and keep it super easy for me to take care of.  She’s terrific!  She’ll always ask if I want something specific done.  If I do she does her best to match what my hair will actually do with what I ask for.  If I don’t have a specific request I’ll just tell her, “Nope.  Just do whatever you want.  It’ll look great!”

When she asked me about what hi-lighting I wanted done I told her to do whatever she wanted.  Typically she adds some really cool “caramel” highlights in that look neat-o.  (Yeah….I need to expand my adjective vocabulary a little..lol)  So I wasn’t expecting anything too different.  I noticed she was mixing two different colors instead of the normal one.  “Hey Chris, what’s that?”  Turns out she wanted to do two different colors.  One caramel-ish and one one reddish.  Okay.  I can live with that.  “Nothing that will make me look like Ronald McDonald,right?”  Nope.  No worries there.  Great!  Go for it!

An hour or so later I’m looking at the finished product.  Hmmm….the sunlight is really streaming into the room.  Can’t really tell….but the color looks really, REALLY red.  Hmmm….okay.  Whatever.  I’ll get home and see what it really looks like.  Thanks Chris!

Jump in the car and pull down the visor mirror.  Ummmm…..hmmmmm.  This is interesting.

The “reddish” hi-lights?  Yeah.  “Reddish” my ……ahem…sorry.

Do y’all know what a brand new, shiny, uncirculated penny looks like?  Yeah.  Copper.  That’s the color of my “reddish” highlights.  Copper.   Bright copper.  Think new copper flashing on a new home.  Brand new copper wire.  Yup.  That’s one of my highlight colors.

I’d say it was a color that doesn’t occur in nature…but…well…it’s copper.  So it clearly exists in nature.  Grin!

It’s not a color I would ever have requested.  It’s not a color I would have said, “Great!  Let’s try that one!” if asked ahead of time.  It’s clearly not a color that naturally grows from my scalp.

And ya know what?  It’s okay.  In fact, it’s better than okay.

I got home and as soon as Mr. Spuds saw it said, “You’ve got red in your hair!”  “You’ve got A LOT of red in your hair!  Let me see.  Wow.  That’s a great Vegas color!”  Laughter.  “Probably not a conservative, financial office color…”

Ummmmmmm…that doesn’t exactly inspire comfortable-ness with the un-natural color there hun.  LOL!

Anyway…..I found myself almost automatically making the decision to be happy with the color.  To be excited about it.  To want to “rock” the new color palette! 

Normally I have a day or so of “Oh. My. Word.  What was I thinking adding in BLONDE hi-lights?” when I have the caramel-ish color added.  It lightens my hair enough that it catches me off guard every time.  Once a week or so has passed I always end up loving it.  It’s simply the initial shock that sends me into the “what was I thinking” mode.

This time?  Even though the color was more extreme, I didn’t feel any of that.  No momentary panic.  No “what was I thinking” or “I wonder if this can be fixed” type of hyper-ventilating.  None of it.  I simply found myself thinking, “I can make this fun!  I can be happy with this.  It isn’t what I expected.  It isn’t something I would have asked for.  AND I am going to be happy with it.  I’m gonna ROCK this color!”

Wow.

That’s a lot of change for me. 

Happiness is a decision…..not an event.

I think I’m finally beginning to “get” that and live it Jim.  Cool!!  And thank you!!!

"Natural" hair color?

Cricket made me cry

Yes.  You read that correctly.  Cricket made me cry.

No, not “a” cricket.  Just Cricket.  Not an insect (are they insects?  Hang on a second I need to Google this.  Ah….they are indeed insects.  Closely related to katydids.  Who knew??)  Not the sport.  Just Cricket.

Cricket is a moniker used by someone who posts on an internet bulletin board on which I frequently lurk.  (RMSJr if you’re reading you’ll know the board and moniker I’m talking about.)  Cricket’s not her real name (No!  Really Spudsie??  LOL!) .  Her frequent posts help balance out my infrequent ones.  Over the years I’ve come to really respect what she has to say and look forward to reading her views on political and social topics.  Her views frequently mirror my own (sorry RMSJr….I know that probably pains you….you love me anyway right?  ;-))  and she’s able to articulate things better than I could.

The main thing that has impressed me about Cricket is her willingness to state her point of view and not care what anyone else thinks.  (Or at least that’s how it seems from my perspective.)  She’ll let everyone know where she stands and engage in dialogue regarding just about any topic regardless of the online insults hurled by “anons” or even known posters.  Her beliefs are her beliefs and she’s not afraid to let anyone know.

That’s sooooo far from where I am.  I suspect my beliefs and views are just as strong and deeply held as Cricket’s.  I tend to keep them to myself.  I recently told a friend of mine that I’m a democrat and she was really surprised.  The circles I tend to “run” in are largely republican—make that vocally republican.  And I’ve learned over the years just to keep quiet on most political topics.  It’s a habit I’m slowly trying to un-learn. 

(Yes, I know.  I’m not really “un-learning” a habit.  I’m changing the way I interact with people.  I’m choosing to speak up.  I’m choosing to be authentically “me”—whoever that is.  It’s just easier—and shorter—to write that I’m un-learning.  Grin!)

So I really admire Cricket for being herself and for being willing to freely state what she believes.

There was a thread started recently about Jim Wallis and the subject of social justice.  It hit a nerve with me when someone called Jim Wallis a Socialist.  While I cannot claim to have read everything written by Jim Wallis, I have read a fair bit of it.  And it seems crystal clear to me that he is NOT a Socialist.  Period.  So I jumped into the thread and gave my opinion.  And somehow Cricket and I ended up posting a few things back and forth to each other. 

Now I’ve “known” of Cricket and actively followed her postings for a while.  But given the infrequent nature of my own posts I’m positive she had never noticed me before.  Since we seemed to share similar views on the topic and had similar experiences from other Christians when discussing the topic I made a bold move.  Well…..bold for me anyway.  LOL!  I posted an e-mail address and invited her to drop me a line to continue the conversation off the board if she’d like.  And she did!!  Cool beans!  J

She sent me an e-mail with some more of her thoughts on social justice, a little of her back ground, a little bit about her views on different stuff, and an invitation to share my own thoughts.  So I did.  I replied with an overly long e-mail (some of you who have received similar e-mails from me can commiserate with Cricket….LOL!) about a little bit of my history and my thoughts on social justice.

Describing what “social justice” means to me is challenging.  I feel very inarticulate.  I feel as though I stumble and fumble my way through it.  It’s something I FEEL rather than THINK.  And goodness knows I have problems identifying emotions and feelings, much less using them to explain a bigger concept.  When I hit “send” and watched my e-mail disappear into cyberspace I wondered if my words made any sense.  Was there anything of worth in them?  How many typos did I have?  LOL!

Evidently it made a lot of sense to Cricket.  She replied with an e-mail today that made me cry.

Good tears.

She shared a few stories from her life, some of her early exposure to the concept of social justice—before she knew what it was called or knew that not everyone viewed it the same way.  She shared some of her frustration with “church people” (my words—not hers) and their frequent opposition to social justice. 

It was really cool learning that about her.

That wasn’t what made me cry. 

What made me cry was what she said about me. 

Recently I’ve been praying that God would show me what he wants from me in a very clear way.  In a way that I CANNOT miss or misinterpret.  I’ve been praying that in the context of trying to find a life direction.  (See previous blog entries for more about that.  J)  “Hey God, I’m gonna need some major help.  Could you show me what you want from me, where you want me to go in such an obvious way that I cannot miss it.  In a way that I will feel in my soul that it’s where I can start.  Even if the direction changes along the way, even if you have something different in mind for further down the road, could you simply show me where to start.  Make it resonate in the core of my being.  Make it energize me in a way I’ve forgotten I can be energized.  Please open my eyes, my heart, my mind.”

I trust God will help me as I continue my search.  There hasn’t been handwriting on the wall (yet!) or anything like that—and there may never be exactly what I am praying for.  And that’s okay because I know he’s got my back!  And when the creator of the universe has your back, it’s probably best to just let him do his thing.  He’ll come up with a way of guiding me that will be more impactful, more effective than anything I could imagine.  (You rock God!!)

I think in my prayers he’s heard something else.  Something I didn’t really articulate.  (He’s really good at reading between the lines.)  He’s heard my desire to try to see myself differently.  He’s heard my frustrations at not understanding why people say the good things about me that they occasionally say.  He’s heard me say, “What do they see that I don’t see?  Why can’t I see that in myself?”  And he’s sending people to me to help me see ME more clearly.

And this is where Cricket’s e-mail made me cry.

She started her reply to me by calling me a beautiful soul.  I kid you not.  It caught me completely off guard.  I wasn’t expecting anything remotely like that!  I mean, really, the only thing she knows about me is what she read in one e-mail (albeit a lengthy one…).  That’s it.  One e-mail in which I felt I didn’t express myself very well.  Wow.

And she didn’t stop there.  She went on for three paragraphs to say the most heart-felt things about me.  In one e-mail she was able to see things that I haven’t been able to see in thirty-cough-some years.  Not only did she see them, she told me about them.  She told me about me.  And since I wasn’t expecting it ALL of my defenses were down.  I felt the full impact of it deeply.  It actually resonated with me.  Wow.

As Yoda would say, “Unexpected this is.”

I love it when God answers a prayer I didn’t even realize I prayed!

So today has been a good day.  Cricket made me cry.

And see myself a little differently.

Thanks God!

Thanks Cricket!

Cricket

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