Tag Archives: dreams

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

Pen & Paper Therapy

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Wow and thank you. The responses I have received to Waiting for Normal have made a big difference in my week. Not only did you leave nice comments, but I got text messages and emails that also encouraged me to “just keep swimming” and know that normalcy will return, albeit in a new form! I even had a spark of normal when I woke up feeling rested and refreshed this morning.

The longer I navigate the waters of grief, the more I come to deeply appreciate that there are common experiences (oh, the joy of knowing you are not alone), but there is freedom in moving through those sometimes treacherous seas in your own way. One of the most trying emotions to work through, for me, is anger. I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a peacemaker and avoid anger and negativity if at all possible, or if there is some guilt associated with being angry at someone who is dead. The reality, however, is that I’ve had moments of being truly angry and I’ve had to find my own way to deal with the madness of being mad!

Paper and pen are where I find my outlet. I have said before and I’ll say it again, that keeping a journal is incredibly therapeutic and I can’t recommend it highly enough. When I toss and turn it sometimes helps to write down what I’m wrestling with. When I’m really sad I just put the pen to the paper and usually I work through the sadness. If I’m angry, it helps to write as though I’m speaking to the one “causing” the anger. I’ve written letters to Brian telling him that I’m mad at him for dying and leaving me alone and talking about how he is missing out on what was supposed to be our next big adventure. There have also been times I’ve been so angry with people who have hurt me that I’ve written down all the horrible things I’d like to say… and then I tear those pages up. It moves me to a place of forgiveness. My journals also help me when I talk to others about what I’m going through. I’ve typically processed so many feelings that I’m able to string my words together and really communicate what’s going on. And when those conversations leave me with questions, I head back to the blank page and seek answers. Last, but certainly not least, I write about the good, the joy, the happy tines, and the love I feel. Those are moments I don’t want to forget, moments I want to be able to look back on and say, “Aha! I am loved and cared for. I do have reason to keep going and find my joy.”

I’m certainly not going to say that you must start a journal. I’m simply saying that this has been working for me on my worst and best days, and all the ones in between. We all have things inside us that can boil over and explode, sometimes as destructive bombs and other times as awesome fireworks. Avoiding the destructive explosions is my personal goal. There is enough of that in the world already. So I diffuse those by purging my mind of negativity and hurt on the pages of my journal. I’m all for shooting off beautiful fireworks of positivity, but I don’t want to forget those flashes of goodness, so I record those in my journal so I can hang on to the memories.

Joyful on Purpose is where I share with you and write just a small portion of my heartaches and also my happiness. I hope it’s been a place for you to come for refuge when you are feeling clobbered by your circumstances and need to know you are not alone. I hope it’s also been a place for you to celebrate your joy as you read how I’m able to find mine. Thanks for being part of my journal and my joy.

Pen & Paper Therapy = Joy

Balance and Breath

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This is one of those posts that will have mixed reactions; I know because even my own thoughts on the matter have gone to opposite extremes. When you lose someone you’ve been with for two decades and that equates to more than half of your years on earth, your initial reaction is, “What the heck has happened and why didn’t someone do something to prevent this?” (In reality that was probably peppered with unladylike words, but I try to keep up royal appearances.) Your life is suddenly about loss and all it entails from your own personal grief to the tiny detail of looking at a baseball cap and wondering what to do with it, or the toothbrush that can be thrown away because it won’t be used again. For me there was also the displacement, uprooting and purging 80% of my life by donating and selling and gifting possessions that once made up a shared home. It’s a bizarre part of this thing we call life.

It’s even more strange when you are moving forward and feeling a different kind of normalcy and then something happens that throws you for a loop. I had to go to the bank to take care of some business and that involved telling the woman I was speaking to that my husband had passed away. I think we were within a few years of each other in age, and I heard a quiet, but sharp inhale and she put her hand to her chest and started telling me how sorry she was. Then she didn’t know how to look at me. She couldn’t hold eye contact. The floor was suddenly very interesting. In that moment, I was uncertain what my response was supposed to be. What is the proper reaction? Well, I immediately consulted my handbook, of course. Oh, wait… there isn’t a handbook so I had to come up with my own reaction. I smiled and said thank you and tried to hold her eyes and let her know without words that it was alright. We sat at her desk and she hurried through a few actions on her computer and then just stopped and looked at me, told me that I could leave and she’d just handle the matter. She apologized again. And then once more. I told her how much I appreciated it.

That’s happened more than once, but not to that degree. I don’t mean to be callous, but I really wanted to say, “I’m doing really well and I have a lot to do today so that will be great.” Ouch. That seems harsh when I read it.

As I’ve moved through my days, I have stopped making any mention of being married, unless the situation warrants it. The explanations and the pushing for further information in some instances are difficult and put me on the spot. (Have I mentioned I’m an introvert?… yeah, we really don’t like being put on the spot. I’d rather have an email or text that I can mull over for a day or so.)  It’s not that I don’t think of Brian or miss him. It’s really that when I watched him take his last breath and then I held his box of ashes in my hands, I realized the utter finality of it all, just as he had explained to me from day one. There is no going back and doing anything over. There is not changing the outcome. There is no “I wish” and “if only” and “but we could have.” There is death. And then there is life moving on.

Part of that for me has been figuring out what in the world to do with my days. Well, school starts next week and I’m still a homeschool mom for one more year. The curriculum has been purchased, the schedule for the first semester made (which will in turn be changed numerous times because that’s how we roll). I have a job that also occupies my time and makes me feel oh-so-productive and good, plus I work for a super cool chick! I have a load of writing on my plate to do with a self-proclaimed deadline of May 31, 2013. I have a little blog that is slowly gaining a following and that I hope to turn into a business. I have taken two little vacations to rejuvenate and goof off and catch up with friends, old and new.

And last week I realized that if I want to, I am allowed to do whatever I want. For me that meant going to the yoga studio seven days a week. Until last week I honestly thought I didn’t have that kind of freedom. I mean, who does that? That’s what I asked myself. And then I thought… me. And it’s okay. That’s part of what this time of my life is about now and I can’t make excuses and tell myself that it’s selfish and uncaring and unsympathetic. So, I decided that for now, I’m going to work my little tail off every day with work and school and duties and dreams. And every night of the week I’m going to stretch and breathe and balance. And every weekend I’m going to carve out time to do the same, stretching my body as well as my mind, breathing in all that’s around me right now and balancing my life and limbs as best I know how. And I’m going to do that seven days a week, for now, because I can. Because I want to. And for now, that means I need to.

Balance and Breath = Joy

Storytelling

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I’ve lived in many settings, and while I love the serenity of rural life, I also find myself very much at home in a bustling city. Perhaps it’s because you can lose yourself in the city. I don’t enjoy being the center of attention and a large city offers anonymity. Walking the streets of San Francisco or Denver or Dallas, I could be virtually anyone from anywhere and there is something freeing about that.

One of my favorite pastimes is people watching. Oh, what opportunities there are for that in a crowded place. Sitting at an outdoor café recently, I watched people walking by and in my mind I could create stories about who they were, why they were there, and where they were going. Of course, other people watchers could be doing the very same to me, making up tales about my life. It’s a great creative exercise.

Sometimes I place people in comedies, other times dramas, occasionally stories of action, and, on very rare occasions, sci-fi adventures. It makes life more interesting and, you never know, some of those stories could be pretty close to reality. Truth is stranger than fiction, after all!

Today I had to go back to Children’s Hospital for one of Jordan’s follow-up visits. That’s a mixed bag when it comes to people watching. There was an adorable little girl there today. She was with her mother and she was dressed in a black sparkly skirt with a hot pink tank top and matching shoes. Her blond hair was pulled back and she had a cute little face and bright eyes. She hopped on the elevator, waved to Jordan and me, smiled and said, “Hello!” I wondered what her story was. I know they were at the hospital for her because we got off at the floor for the Lab and she started to whine a little and protest. She didn’t want to go in there. I felt bad for her. I had watched my 17 year-old be poked and prodded for two weeks and he’s tired of needles and labs. Imagine being three or four… But when I looked at that sweet little girl I also imagined that she is the life of the party, that she lights up a room. I picture her spreading joy as she waves to strangers on elevators and flashes her brilliant smile. No matter what she has gone through, what illness she may be facing or what her future holds, I like to imagine that she is a little fairy here on earth, depositing joy wherever she goes and bringing light and love to everyone.

Fanciful Fiction = Joy

No Plans

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My trip to Dallas had been in the works weeks before I actually booked a ticket. I had known that running away was going to be necessary. I’m not a spontaneous person, so not knowing when I was going to go was a bit troublesome. Not having a plan makes me nervous. Not having a plan in this case, was perfect.

It’s kind of an embarrassing fact, but this trip was the first time I’ve ever gone anywhere completely alone. All my prior vacations and out of town visits involved family or friends. It was also the first time I rented a car…yeah, I don’t get out much, I guess. So, for me, booking that flight was pretty exciting. I told myself not to plot out my days and not to over think all the details. I didn’t make any lists. I was completely packed three days prior to leaving, but that is just logical, folks! Who wants to be doing laundry before a vacation? Beyond that, I tried to just go with the flow and let my vacation happen all on its own.

It turns out this whole “be spontaneous” thing is pretty cool. In the past I’ve planned activities and built them up in my mind to the point that reality doesn’t live up to the expectation. Not having a plan means not having expectations. That is very freeing! There are things I missed doing by not having a carefully laid out plan, but that just gives me a great excuse to make another trip. Had I plotted out my trip I would have missed out on some things that turned out to be just what I needed.

I might not have…

…spent nearly three hours with friends (and my former bosses) at their store. We shared coffee and caught up on life. We laughed and even cried. I was flooded with memories of working for them at their store and as their babysitter, times spent with them during holidays and other gatherings. I thanked them for teaching me how to perfectly fold shirts and wrap a gift in record time. I relished their warm words and even warmer hugs.

…had a peanut butter and jelly sammich with my childhood friend. And then again with another childhood friend. Heart to heart conversations go quite well with peanut butter and jelly. So do laughs over funny television shows. I needed both.

…enjoyed sushi at 2:00am. I’ve come to the conclusion that all sushi restaurants should stay open until 3:00am. Sitting across the table from someone who understands you is wonderful. Doing that at 2:00am with platters of sushi is even better.

…shared an evening with old friends, sitting in the bar of a restaurant. Well, I might have done that, but this time it was just an open invitation to whomever was free to join us. I had no idea who would show up and that was the beauty of it. The little crowd of old friends dwindled, and at the end of the night there were three of us left, talking honestly about where we’ve been and where are now.

…seen the skyline of Dallas from 440 feet in the air. That will give you perspective. The city looks amazing from there and I felt like such a tiny piece of a big picture. When you feel that small, your big decisions don’t feel so overwhelming. There’s a lot going on in this world, after all. I also saw the city as magical, filled with those twinkling lights that seemed to go on and on. It was breathtaking.

I’m sure I’ll fall back into my old ways, planning and making lists and living by the clock and the calendar. But every so often, I’m going to spontaneously take off and let life just happen for a while.

No Plans = Joy