Tales From the Trips

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while you’ve gotten a glimpse of John Cave Osborne, either through his supportive comments or inspirational click story.  What I have learned about John through our exchange of blog comments, tweets, and emails is that he is an extremely kind and loving soul.  As I’ve watched him step onto this cyber-scene and build a community, I’ve also seen how magnetic his personality is.  John is one of those people you want to get to know.  Luckily for us, he has written a memoir that documents his journey,  so we can do just that.

Tales From the Trips: How Three Babies Turned Our World Upside-Down documents John’s life from the moment he got the message to call his wife, Caroline, after her first OBGYN appointment up to when the first of their triplets started walking.  He did an amazing job of putting me right there in his life with him.  I could feel the love he had for his family as well as I could hear the sarcasm in Caroline’s voice as she rebutted so many of John’s jokes.  I loved getting to know Tammy and Brenda, and was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would become of Stone Creek.  This was so much more than a parenting memoir.  It had humor, suspense, excitement, concern, and love.  But webbed every so gently through the pages of the book was the Osborne’s spirituality and faith.

I think most of us learn when we become parents that we have to let go of our ideas of perfection.  Kids are messy and chaotic.  Upon welcoming three new lives into this world and into their family, I think Caroline, John, and Alli learned this lesson to an incredible degree.  One of my favorite lines in the book followed the description of the triplets baptism.  Needless to say it didn’t go as smoothly as one would hope.  John says “As Caroline, Alli, and I exited the sanctuary with our babies in tow, I thanked God for perfect imperfection…..”

I wanted to take the time to tell you all how much I enjoyed reading this book and how grateful I am to have met John in this cyber-world.  If you like memoirs, daddy bloggers, funny guys who love sports, dogs, babies, or strong southern women I highly recommend reading this book.  You can buy it on John’s blog at a very good price!!

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A Message on Loneliness and Retreat

I go through phases where I am super social and phases where I am super anti-social.  For a lot of years, after leaving my hometown in NC, I was anti-social out of necessity.  It was hard to make new friends b/c I’d had the same amazing friends for so long and had always been in situations where making them was easy.  When we moved to Florida I was determined to make friends and I did.  I became a part of the most wonderful group of fellow stay-at-home-moms I could imagine.  And then, as I’ve written about before, life began to get busy and schedules started to change.  I also found myself going inward more, reading books, and writing.  For over a year, I was very hermit-ish.  I’m not sure that I’ve fully emerged from that phase.  In ways I have through online relationships.  I’ve reunited with a lot of friends from way back and I’ve made a lot of new friends through Twitter and blogs.  But at times I feel lonely.  I used to talk on the phone regularly with a couple of my mommy friends, my sister, and my mom.  When schedules got busy and I went into hermit mode, those mostly stopped.  I feel this weird mix of guilty, sad, and peaceful about it.  I feel guilt because maybe I pushed people away, maybe shifting my priorities hurt people.  I feel sad because sometimes I think that Mark is the only person I have in this world.  And I feel peaceful because my life is pretty simple right now, and simple is good.

Anyway, lately I’ve felt the urge to retreat again and go inward.  That urge scares me though, because as much as I want to learn about myself and connect with spirit, I don’t want to lose or weaken anymore of my connections to people.  I tried something new tonight, looking for an answer to this dilemma.  I asked a question on paper and wrote down an answer as it popped into my head.  The following came to me in less than 5 minutes and what you’ve read up until this point took me about 45 minutes to get down. My question was:

I am seeking guidance about loneliness and a desire to retreat.  Do you have any insight on this matter for me?

You are never alone.  Surrounding yourself with people often makes you lonelier.  Your energy is merged with theirs and it is possible to lose sight of who you are.  Their wishes interact with your own.  The vision for your life can be left clouded.  What you want may not jive with what those around you want.  There is a desire to hold tightly and keep the river from flowing, dam it up if you will.  You must keep moving.  In moments of stuckness it is good to find your own space for quiet questioning of the soul.  The need to retreat can grab you and you can fight it.  Fight it with guilt and empty movements.  Avoidance.  Going inward signals the call to the energies waiting to assist.  Do it as often as you can.  Allow yourself to open and be a channel for the light that will illuminate the darkness, bring you to where you need to go and allow you to see who you can be.  Loneliness is a hypnotic suggestion.  It is the ego falsely demanding you to fill your time and life with more and more until it is so crowded that you’ve gotten lost.  People will arrive when they need you or you them.  You cannot call forth sadness by measuring the bodies in your life.  You have all you need in this now moment.  If you are feeling called to retreat than do just that.

I bought the book “Writing Down Your Soul” and hope to start a regular practice of soul-writing.  I may share it here regularly or maybe just once in a while.  This was my first attempt in a long time and as my friend Mildred would say, what you just read there in italics I am quite certain was written through me not by me.

Child (a poem)

Child (3-26-10)

The child sees the world

through loving eyes

perspective playmates surround them

if left to their own devices

compassion they extend

no dollar signs

or status symbols

in the laughter of

a child

if allowed

they play

and love the same

rich

or poor

without a push

they may not look

for the gizmo

or gatchet

that makes them rise up

if surrounded by love

all they learn is love

if surrounded by acceptance

they know only to accept

if given enough

they will not long for more

Discipline

Discipline is a concept that has been popping up for me over and over.  And it is something I have been resisting over and over again.  Yesterday during my book group someone mentioned discipline and for the first time I began to open up to the idea.

I’ve been viewing discipline as some sort of controlling force.  I should be able to just follow my heart, go where the wind blows me right?  I don’t need to be disciplined….do I?

What has occurred to me in the last couple of days is that maybe the wind is blowing me down the path of discipline and that perhaps it is the key to finding true peace and happiness.  Over the past few years the times I have felt the most success is when I have maintained a regular practice in the areas of my life that are important.  I feel a great level of connectedness and inner peace when I make time for daily meditation.  For over two years, I did this every day, twice a day, no matter what.  Over the past months I have let this practice slide and sometimes go days without meditating.  Needless to say the peace and connectedness is not so consistent anymore.  I used to wake every morning and write in my journal.  I have a years worth of notebooks filled with my thoughts.  When Bella started Kindergarten, I stopped making the time to journal.  Now the thoughts fly through my head all day long and rarely end up on the page.  In 2007, I wrote a 100,000 word novel in less than three months.  I made a decision to write three pages a day and I stuck with it.  I wrote no matter where I was, or what was going on.  I had never felt such a sense of accomplishment as I did at the end of each writing session and especially when the book was complete.

I’ve let myself believe that discipline is a bad word.  My ego has fooled me into thinking that I don’t need it, that I can continue to do nothing and yet still accomplish something.  What?  That doesn’t make any sense.  Luckily, I am aware enough to read the signs.  Yesterday I walked into my friend’s bathroom.  I have been in this room many times, seeing as I always arrive at her house with a full bladder from too much coffee.  For the first time, I noticed a sign hanging in that room that said “Determination.”  Determination and discipline go hand in hand.  Discipline is simply about making a choice that gets you where you are determined to go.

Life is filled with hills and valleys.  What matters is the decisions we make from day to day and moment to moment.  If we want to be healthy we can choose to eat right and exercise.  If we want to be happy we can choose to look for the good all around us.  If we want to be successful we can choose to take the baby steps that get us closer to our career goals.  If we want to live a spiritual life we can choose to do those things that connect us to God or spirit.  Discipline is about figuring out what choices help us to become who we want to be and then making those choices over and over again.

Elizabeth’s Click

Elizabeth found my blog and responded to my “writer’s wanted” request by sending me this great click!  After you have enjoyed the story below you can visit her blog here.

I’ve never been able to run. I can remember sixth grade PE, sprinting the 50-yard dash and hating it. My arms and legs didn’t talk to each other, didn’t move in sync. I looked like a circus act, the girl spinning all the plates in different directions. My plates were my limbs.

I’ve always pitied “runners,” how they have to have their fix, whether on vacation, or down with the flu, despite flash flood warnings and lightening strikes. I despised their complaints about missing a run, how they were “off” that day because they didn’t get their six or nine miles in. Poor me, I’m a runner and couldn’t run today. Pull out the violin.

I’ve thought runners were running away from something, like people become newborn Christians after a tough divorce or alcoholics start hitting meetings after waking up one too many times in the gutter. I didn’t see the benefit of escapism, didn’t think I was hostage to any bonds that needed breaking.

Running was the last thing in life I wanted to do, right after swimming with sharks and joining the Marines.

Last summer, through a series of small and unrelated events, I discovered the true path of a runner: A runner isn’t sprinting away from anything, she’s running to something, or someone or somewhere so important to her that she simply cannot make it through the day if she doesn’t at least try to get there.

I get it now.

I’ve run three half marathons and pair of 10ks in the last several months. It’s only 13.1 miles a pop, but I’m proud of myself, proud of the hundreds of miles I’ve put into training. My confidence is at its peak; my body stronger than it’s ever been in my life. I’ve become an athlete at the age of 43. Unbelievable.

I am a leaner, lustier version of myself. I am the no-nonsense me everyone used to know, love and sometimes fear. I celebrate the return of the me who took bullshit from no one; the me who vowed never to become complacent or lose her way in life, but sadly did.

I no longer shun mirrors, and actually pause now and then to smile at myself. I seek, rather than refuse, confrontation, and as a result have enjoyed some thrilling showdowns. Modesty is out the window; bad news for my kids and the dressing room boy at the Gap, but good news for my creepy neighbor. My closet is a fun place to be again, especially because everything in it is new and smaller and sleeker. The bitch is back with a purse full of spark and sass.

I refuse to step on a scale for fear of getting lost in the numbers game. Pound for pound, I have no idea how much of me is gone. I used to joke that is doesn’t matter how you feel on the inside, but how good you look on the outside. I was so wrong. They’re intertwined: you can’t be beautiful on the outside if your insides are hurting. And if you’re beautiful on the inside, you’ll shine like a penny.

More benefits of my transformation? For the first time, my body is a fuel-burning machine. Thanks to its hum, I can eat whatever and whenever I want. I used to eat nothing and keep my weight. Now my taste buds dance and my body continues to carve what I think is becoming a delicious figure.

One of my brothers was inspired to walk after viewing my improved physique in running clothes. At 40, he’s seeing what a lot of guys his age are: that little fluff of dough that hangs over the belt. Chicks call theirs “muffin tops.” If I can galvanize him to better his health, my job as a big sister is complete.

Who are those I am running to? I run to my friend and soul mate, Chris, who I lost last summer without a goodbye but who cheers me on from above with a bunch of obnoxious claps. I run to my family, and to the promises of lifetime love and laughter I’ve made to my children. I run to their smiles and the smell of their skin, to their complete understanding why running is so important to Mommy. I run to my father, who I miss desperately, despite seeing him daily in the faces of my kids. I run to my mother, once so vital and strong, who I’m afraid can’t take care of herself anymore, and who finally seeks care from me. I run to three brothers who each need a big sister for different reasons; I want to be all of their reasons, every single one of their answers.

I run to my cousins (who invited me to my first half marathon) and their daughters, to the bond of four women united by the love of their mothers and the laughter that causes them to wet their pants. I run to friendships and decades, to intimacy without judgment or prompt, to those that love and respect the old me as much as the new one encourages them. I run to those that challenge and inspire me to be a better person, inside and out. I run to those I write to, to those who read between my lines, whether succinct or sauntering. I run to those who need me. I run to those that run to me.

Most of all, and this is the truly spectacular part, the concept I still can’t wrap my head entirely around. For the first time in my life, I see myself as something worth running to. I am running to myself. Away is no longer an option. Bring on the mileage.

Ask Yourself This (3)

Last week in my book group, we discussed chapter three in this book.  It was the “Ask yourself this to grow personally” chapter.  The last question in that chapter was:

Am I willing to let go of the size of the life I’ve known to have a bigger life?

I grew up in a very average middle class family.  My father was a mail carrier and my mom worked for years at a place that prepared movie reels to be shown in the theatres.  We lived in a 3-bedroom house with 3 kids.  I shared a room with my sister up until I was 10, when my oldest sister got married and moved out of our house.  When I was little we went on one vacation a year, almost always to Myrtle Beach.  By the time I was a teen, we had a little trailer in Garden City (outside of Myrtle Beach) and were able to go for weekend get-a-ways more often.  I had everything I needed and wanted.  The size of my life was perfect.

So when I went to college, I imagined my life just as I’d always known it.  I got a degree in Elementary Education because teaching children was something I knew I would be able to do quite easily.  I didn’t care about the money, I liked the idea of the schedule and busyness involved in that career.  I also went in with the mindset that I would get married and my teacher’s salary would ultimately be the supplementary salary in my family.

Mark and I have been married now for 11 years.  Despite how much has changed over the years, I still live a life that is the same size as I’ve always known.  In a lot of areas, this is good.  We live very simply and I appreciate that.  What I don’t appreciate is that for too long I have categorized myself as “average.”  I put myself into a mold that doesn’t exactly match with my progressive mind set.  In a lot of ways you could call me a feminist, yet all my life I only ever imagined myself in stereotypical roles that women are famous for.  Wife, teacher, mother.  Of service to my students and my family, but unable to make a difference beyond that small world.

Over the past few years I have learned so much about what we humans are capable of.  I’ve learned a lot about what I am capable of.  I’ve expanded from a college student to an unemployed wife, from a wife to a daycare employee, from a daycare employee to an elementary school teacher, from a teacher to a stay-at-home-mother, from a mother to a writer, from a writer to a novelist, from a novelist to a blogger.  I am still expanding and as I grow, all those roles remain within me and in some cases are a huge part of my daily routine.  My life is getting bigger and I am willing to let it.  I am willing to go with the flow and see where inspiration leads me.  I am willing to scale the walls, face the dragons, and overcome the challenges.  Believing is seeing and I can do anything I set my mind to.  So YES God, Universe, Spirit, and friends, I AM WILLING to let go of the size of the life I have always known to have a bigger life!!!

What about you??