Tag Archives: change

The Deep End

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A couple days ago my phone went off alerting me that I had a text. It was a worried friend awaiting results, though thankfully not the medical kind. She had worked for a long time, putting her blood, sweat, and tears into achieving something and now it was all in the hands of others, totally out of her control. I sympathized with the feeling of limbo, wondering if things will go your way or if you’ll be disappointed. I also offered my cheerful and affirming thoughts, which were easy to pass along because I just knew things were going to turn out okay. The following day my phone went off again and I checked the message. Oh dear… things had not turned out as planned or as hoped for. The results were that she had come just shy of the goal, which is often more devastating than missing something by miles. She seemed very down and I understood. I’ve been there in similar situations. I’ve felt knocked down, unworthy, and well, just plain lousy. I was, however, able to offer up some more cheerful and affirming thoughts. And, again, they were easy to pass along because I still think things will turn out okay for her – they just won’t be what she had originally planned. That may be the greatest thing of all. In that moment, putting myself in her shoes, I began to think that maybe this is her turning point, the beginning of something entirely new and exciting. Maybe this is the day she says, “I’m going to shoot for something that I really want, that lights my fire and makes an impact.” She has all of that within her. She has a desire to do great things and change the lives of the generation coming after her, a generation she sees as inspirational and grand. So, this setback, this upset, may be the springboard for her to dive in and find out what’s waiting for her out in the deep end, where dreams and creativity and passion reside.

What is a little odd is that I am in a funk right now, floundering around and unsure of what I’m doing. I seem to be able to look at my friend’s situation, and at the circumstances others are facing, and be that voice of positivity, the cheerleader jumping up and down and encouraging people to go for it and give it their best shot. I can see the upside to many downsides that people around me are encountering. And then, after the cheering is done and the high of positivity has waned, I sigh and drag myself into my room, where I curl up in a ball and have a pity party for myself. Oh, Jacque, what is the matter?

In a word, here is what’s the matter: fear. I’ve been taken care of my whole life. I’ve never depended on myself for anything. There’s always been someone to watch out for me, handle my problems, defend me, and catch me when I fall. I know in my head that things will turn out okay. I know because people tell me all the time, that this will all be okay and I’ll be better than fine. My head knows that I am stronger than what I have been put through. My head knows that I have creativity and talent and persistence (though I question at times if I have enough of these things). I have a deliciously scary dream to pursue that I hope will help others and a book that is actually coming together. I have plans I want to come to fruition that seem far away, but at least attainable. My head knows a lot, but it has trouble convincing my heart. My heart taps on my head and says, “But what if things don’t turn out okay?” Silly little heart, be quiet and patient and just wait!

It’s kind of funny how sometimes the things we tell others, the potential we see in the people around us, is not so easily seen within ourselves. I need to listen to my own advice, to look at the lemons I have and start making some thirst-quenching, best-ever lemonade. I need to let myself feel everything, but at the same time I need to believe what my head knows to be true. I don’t know if my friend will take this chance and leap into something entirely different. She probably has fear too. But I hope she will. I hope she will see in her heart that she has a great offering and there is no perfect time, there is just this time. And as I  wish this for her, I wish this for you and me as well. I hope we can get a little brave and muster up the courage to make that career change, write that business proposal, run that race, get through that grieving, mend that relationship, or whatever it is… to leap off that springboard into the deep end.

The Deep End = Joy

Waiting for Normal

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Sometimes I feel I’m on a strange roller-coaster and you are all joining me in my ups and downs, wondering when this ride will level off. Another widow advised me, before Brian passed away, not to make any decisions or any big changes for a year. I listened, but in the back of my mind I just knew I’d be different, able to do things in my own time and my own way. In some ways, that is probably true, but I am beginning to see the wisdom in her words. She’s lived through many years of the different life that follows losing the person with whom you shared an existence. She probably knows far better than I that time is a great healer and guide through grief, and that your perspective can change from one month to the next, or even one day to the next.

It’s not a big secret that I am an introvert, a person who craves solitude and doesn’t mind quiet. But solitude is quite different than loneliness and quiet doesn’t always mean silence. Unfortunately, filling the loneliness and silence isn’t as easy as it may sound. You can’t just go out with a friend or watch a comedy. It doesn’t work that way because the one you long for the most can’t be replaced with a laugh track or even another person.

I have a lot of trouble sleeping these days. For a while I was okay, falling into deep sleep and waking up rested and ready to go. That was probably because of the chaotic sleep patterns I had while Brian was sick. After he died it was a relief to have uninterrupted sleep and not worry about his comfort and care. That’s all far behind me now, and I find that sleepless nights have returned. The worst has been a period of almost two days with not much more than a wink. The norm is several hours that are restless and sometimes filled with dreams I’d rather not remember. Once in a while my body finally shuts down and I sleep for 10 or 12 hours. I wish for a regular pattern.

Family dinners are nice and I appreciate that I have my parents here to support me. I even enjoy cooking meals and the routine of setting a table and calling everyone to dinner. But they are nowhere near the same as they once were. He’s just gone and that has changed everything. I’ve been out to dinner and it’s great to be waited on and share a meal and good conversation with other people. But it’s not the same. His laughter and jokes aren’t there. And I drive away alone, not wanting to face that he won’t be there when I get home either. Eating out by myself is a new experience and one I should learn to be comfortable with, but I’m not. It has nothing, yet everything, to do with sitting alone. I was part of something and now I’m not. It was taken from me.

I had a normal life. It wasn’t perfect by any means, but it was good and I liked it. I had a family and a little world to tend to. It was ripped from my hands without my permission. That hits me more often and harder lately. Sometimes it makes me angry and the last words I want to hear from anyone are “things happen for a reason” or “this will make sense someday.” I do understand that we have no control over some circumstances, only our reactions to them, and I have been very fortunate to have lived and enjoyed what I have. But I feel selfish sometimes, wanting to rewind and have what was. If I were to make a big decision now, it might be to run very far away and leave everything familiar behind me, to start over where not a soul knows me or knows what has happened. That could possibly be a wonderfully amazing adventure, but not the smartest decision. Or I might try to reconstruct a very similar and familiar type of life to replace what I had in order to get those feelings back again. That could also be a great adventure, but not a really smart choice.

Instead of running or replacing, I am sitting still and waiting. I’m trying to wait patiently for the time when life will move forward… or maybe just sideways. I have responsibilities, things I need to do and wrap up before I go anywhere or try to do anything new. Then, I need to learn to be on my own. I need to learn to be comfortable coming home without anyone to greet me. I need to know it’s okay to live alone, cook alone, do laundry for one, and be happy without him here.

This is my sweet November of renewal and I have been focusing on gratitude and finding joy in the little and big things that are good in life. There’s a lot there – I haven’t lost everything, that’s for sure, and I don’t want to be grumpy and whine and wallow. This season will no doubt turn out to be a beautiful and transformative one. Time will surely show me that normal isn’t only what I had, but what I will one day have again in a new way.

Waiting for Normal = Joy

Sweet November

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Today we begin a new month. The last 31 days I spent looking at life in new and different ways. I have a set of 12 composition books that I use for journaling. At the beginning of October, as I began some “group journaling” online, I named the journal for the month “Promise” and the pages contain plans, hopes, fears, dreams, worries, questions, and imaginings. Yesterday as the group time ended, one of the women asked what word came to mind for the new month. Immediately, the word “renewal” popped into my head, so as I take a fresh composition book out of the cabinet I’ll put that word front and center on the first clean, lined sheet of paper. I don’t really know what will come as the days begin and end, but I have a feeling it really will turn out to be a month of renewal. Last month did, indeed, reveal to me the promise that is ahead in life.

This month a President will be elected and regardless of who wins, it is a new term, a time of renewal as we move on and focus on what’s ahead – hopefully in a respectful and positive way whether our candidate of choice wins or not. This month we change our clocks… is that some kind of renewal? Sure, why not? We gain an hour! This month we give thanks and honor veterans. Those days can certainly be times of renewal as we look at life and how precious it is and how much we have, no matter our circumstances. Hopefully we will see water recede and communities draw together as cleanup efforts begin after such a devastating storm. Although there was much lost and damaged and ravaged by wind and water, the time afterward can certainly bring renewal if we allow it.

For me this month will be a mixture of happy and sad as I continue to reflect and go through the process of moving forward to happy tomorrows while remembering the sweetness of days gone by. I’ll no doubt continue to shed healing tears and find a renewed sense of strength to keep going through each day. I think from here on out I will just keep giving each month a name… a word that I will focus on for 28 or 30 or 31 days. I like the idea of passing time in that way.

Thank you for reading, for following my story, for being a part of my life in such a profound way. I never expected 2012 to be this way. Tears are trickling down my cheeks right now just thinking of all that has transpired, the devastating and the marvelous.

As I close, I’ll ask, “What would your word be? What do you hope this month will hold? What is one positive, happy, JOYFUL word that you’d like to focus on this month?” I don’t normally ask questions, but I would love to hear from you. I wish a little bit of renewal and a lotta bits of joy for each of you.

A Sweet Month of Renewal = Joy

A Beautiful Ring to It

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My wedding ring was nestled in its box for months. It is a ring I rarely took off for nearly two decades. I slept in it, cooked in it, showered in it, worked and played in it. We had the diamond put in new settings twice, both times to mark a new start and celebrate triumphs over what had threatened to break us.

Over the last few weeks, the ring has been calling to me, though not in that Lord of the Rings sort of way! It was just saying, “make me into something new.” I went to the jewelry store and was greeted by a beautiful woman who smiled graciously and asked me how she could help me. I choked up just a little and got teary as I said, “My husband passed away and I need to make this into a new ring.” With kindness, sympathy, and a sweet spirit, she guided me to a counter and worked through the details of making my ring into something new. I wanted a setting that would hold my original diamond, a sweet little thing purchased by an 18 year-old boy for his girlfriend-turned-fiancée. I also wanted it to hold stones that represented Brian’s birthstone, even though I didn’t know what that was. “Please let it be a good color,” I whispered to myself! She said she had something in mind and disappeared to another room. When she returned she had a setting that was a simple white gold band with a place for my diamond in the center and two ice blue sapphires on the side, the color of aquamarines, Brian’s birthstone. Triumph! Blue is a very good color. It was perfect. My old setting will be melted down and formed into something new and I like the idea of that. I have the magical thought that it could even end up in another young woman’s wedding ring.

The new ring is full of symbolism for me. The original stone reminds me of that time long ago… yet not so long ago… when I said “I do” and became a Lawson, a wife and soon after, a mother. My own birthstone just happens to be a diamond, so I sit sparkling at the center. The blue of the stones remind me of Brian, of course, and how pieces of him live on in memories, in our kids, and in the woman I have become through sharing our years together. The three gems represent my family of three now, myself with two sons alongside who are continuing on. And the circle of the ring is symbolic of life itself, that goes on and on through births and deaths, births and deaths. So the whole ring represents me: my life as it once was, now is, and how it will continue.

I am proudly wearing it again, but on my right hand now, where I’m sure it will stay nearly every day as I cook in it, shower in it, work and play in it. It will get dirty and be polished, just as we all are from day to day, and year to year.

Life Has a Beautiful Ring to It… and that = Joy

Sunlight

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What I remember most about that day is sunlight. The sunlight, filtering through the trees, was so golden and bright. It made the kitchen cheerful and warm. The boys and I were gathered at the kitchen table, also known as “the school room” on weekday mornings. Brian was 8 and Jordan was 6 and we had just begun school about a week earlier (third and first grade), once again homeschooling after a 2-year break. I had a little American flag that we’d look at as we put hands to heart and recited the Pledge of Allegiance, a little morning ritual during the early elementary years. I am almost positive we had just finished up handwriting when I got a phone call from Brian. He was driving in his work truck, headed to someplace in Missouri for the day and he sounded frantic. I was so confused. He told me I needed to turn the television on and see what was happening in New York.

The school day came to a halt. Everything had just changed…

Everything except that golden sunlight. It remained throughout the day until is sank behind the trees and the moon and stars took over. It is so vivid in my mind eleven years later. I can see it so clearly and almost feel it all over again. I think about it every year at this time. To me, over a decade later now, it symbolizes life. So much of life was tragically lost that day, but in the eleven years since, so much has been created. The sun keeps rising and setting and rising and setting, casting it’s golden light on us. We all see that sunlight and it’s the same light no matter where you are on Earth. I don’t deny that evil exists in the world, that hatred and violence reside in some hearts… but not all. The way to shatter that darkness is with light.

Light = Joy