Tag Archives: searching

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

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

Riding the Waves

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I’ve been paddling along, enjoying the scenery, taking in all that is new and different. Or I should say, I had been. Then, seemingly out of nowhere, came a wave. It has not been a wave I can’t ride, but it’s taken some steadying, some muscle. It’s a new wave of grieving. The wave must have a long way to carry me, because I’ve been on it for days and days and I cannot see the shore. Others can sense it – I’ve been quieter and more withdrawn, as though I’m off in the distance.

One thing I know for certain about grief: there is no one way to experience it. Oh, wait, there are two things I know for certain. The other is that there is no wrong way to experience it. What I am experiencing now is just one more step in the long process. At first I tried to fight it, but that didn’t last long because I’ve learned over the last 8 months that it’s better to just let emotions come and embrace them. Doing anything else leaves you feeling lost. Facing the emotions is uncomfortable, for sure. This new grief has brought with it feelings of loss, longing, and love. It’s also brought a lot of tears, the kind that burn as they run down your cheeks. The kind you cannot wipe away fast enough, so you just let them flow and fall wherever they may. The kind you can still feel when you wake up, dried and salty on your skin, and you know you cried while you slept. There is, very often right now, a silence so deafening in my life that I can hardly bear it. A voice and a laugh are missing and I have to listen very closely in my mind to recall their exact sound. I want to hear the old sound, the sound of a healthy Brian who was living life as big as he possibly could. Sometimes I can hear that voice. But what comes more easily, though still quietly, is the voice that became a whisper and was slurred because of a combination of medication and cancer. I miss even hearing that voice and knowing that my life was still my life, not this uncertain (though, admittedly, often intriguing) new thing.

I don’t cry in front of people over this and I share very few words about it. The reason for that is not that I’m attempting to steel myself and appear stronger than I am. The reality is that the new grief feels so private and intimate. I can’t share the fullness of it; I don’t want to. I don’t know how long this new wave of grief will last. Will it be a few weeks, several months, or many years? I don’t know yet where it is taking me either. Far away or very nearby? I’ll continue to steady myself and put my muscle into it and watch for a new shoreline to appear. And I’ll ride the new wave with a mixture of deep sadness and expectant joy.

New Waves = Joy

Search Terms

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Just for fun, and because I’m easily entertained, I enjoy reading through the list of search terms that have led people to click on Joyful on Purpose.  So, just for more fun, I thought I’d share some here and my thoughts on them.

Best response when someone is not honest: I’m not sure what I wrote that would have led someone to my blog who was searching for the answer. My best response is to gently confront in a very non-confrontational way. Yeah, you read that correctly! I go the very long route when dealing with things like this. Actually, my response is usually to try to understand the root of the dishonesty and then forgive it. I’ve written about forgiveness before, and I could write a lot more on the subject, but the first rule in my book on the subject is “just do it.” It doesn’t mean things will be rosy or that relationships will be mended, but your heart and mind will be healthier.

Didn’t even break a nail: I’m one of those girls who loves to do things that might break a nail, but I’m very proud when I come away with a perfectly intact mani and pedi. I love to get muddy and messy on occasion, not from gardening or anything as lovely as that, but from races or adventures. And afterward, I like to put on a dress and look as though I would never even consider doing such an unladylike thing as romping through the mud! If you are anything like me, then you must consider the Badass Bash, an obstacle race taking place in Florida next spring. I plan to go and get sweaty and dirty and maybe a little beat up…without breaking a nail. (http://www.badassbash.com/)

Cool purple tattoos: Hmm, all I can say here is, “Yes, I’d like one.”

Pull the rug from under my feet: Oh boy! I have felt that like that countless times. But, what I am learning is that it’s okay when that happens. It hurts like crazy and can knock the wind right out of you. While you’re on the ground, take a minute to just look around and breathe a little. Then, begin to pick yourself up and surround yourself with people who care about you, who will help you tend to any bruises or scrapes, and move on. It will be okay.

Why do the voices in my head tell me lies?: I wish I had the answer to this question. It’s so maddening that some of the voices in my head can’t tell the truth. Ever. This is also a situation where at least one good friend or loved one is so crucial. They can replace the lying voices with truthful voices. And if you listen to the truthful voices, they will start to speak louder and drown out the lies. One of my friends wrote me a letter responding to my bingeing and starving cycle. I kept that email because it is filled with things I need to know and believe about myself. Every now and then I read it all the way through and then read it one more time for good measure. It’s my way of screaming back at the loud and dishonest voices. I may never know why the voices lie, but I hope I can learn to silence them.

Diagnosis for being an overthinker: I love that someone was searching this! There’s your diagnosis right there. Do you Google everything? Do you ask yourself questions and then answer yourself with new questions? Then you, my friend, are an overthinker. You’re probably a people-pleaser, a perfectionist, super detailed, and have a mind that never shuts down. The only prescription I have is to journal, journal, journal. Well, it’s also good to have a coffee date with a patient friend who will listen and then tell you what you need to hear – that you don’t have to have all the answers and that most things will work themselves out. Of course, you’ll leave that coffee date thinking about exactly how things will work themselves out…

Conclusion of mother an ideal homemaker: I found this search term very intriguing, so I typed it into Google and my blog was the first thing to show up. I tried for years and years to be the perfect mother and ideal homemaker. I think the only conclusion you can draw is that there may be no such thing. You do the best you can with what you’ve got. You fail and succeed, sometimes in the same hour. You make huge mistakes one day and wise decisions the next. You choose your battles and only fight the ones that are important to you or that will make the biggest difference in the long run. There is, however, one vital ingredient, one absolutely essential quality that you must possess to even think about being an ideal homemaker or mother, or person for that matter. L-O-V-E.

Does carrot cake help after surgery: Well, DUH… it can’t hurt! I would personally recommend cheesecake or a tangy piece of key lime pie. But if carrot cake makes you happy, go for it.

Can a place make you feel unanchored: This one led to my journal about nurturing your friendships. Friends make wonderful anchors and there can be a very long chain leading from you to those anchors. I have anchors in Texas, Florida, California, and even Dubai. They help me remember that I’m rooted to more than just the spot where my feet touch the ground. I’m rooted to other hearts and minds.

Okay, after all that, I should probably explain what my Yoda coffee cup cozy has to do with it. Well, I was searching the Internet for something completely different when I ran across my little knitted Yoda in an Etsy shop. I don’t even remember what I was searching for now! Sometimes that happens when we search – we come up with something unexpected. I hope that the people who went searching for the things I’ve just shared found what they were looking for, but I also hope that when they clicked on Joyful on Purpose, they found some unexpected joy. We can all use a little more of that.

The Unexpected = Joy