How We Learn To Deal

When you forgive, you in no way change the past – but you sure do change the future. ~Bernard Meltzer

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Twenty-two years ago today I was held up at gun point. To this day I almost never carry cash. I keep my car doors locked. I watch my back and am vigilant about my surroundings. When I must go out alone this time of year, I don’t even carry a purse.

The point is violence changes a person. Or, it changed me. At first I was distrustful, frightened, and on heightened alert.  I needed to talk about my ordeal. And I talked and I talked. I had been violated, and I needed to feel validated. I was physically unscathed, but emotionally damaged. I wallowed in my worry. It took me many more years than I’d like to admit to rise from victim to victor.

This was a decision I had to make on my own. Once I made the decision I had to take the steps to begin to heal. No one could do the work for me. I stopped taking medication for the anxiety. I let myself feel all the emotions running through me, and I learned techniques (breathing and visualization) to get me through panic attacks. I took a self-defense class and other precautions to help me feel in control of my personal space.

You may think from my first paragraph I have not arrived to this point, that I have not let the ordeal go. I have. You see it’s all a part of the forgiven but not forgotten theory which is one I’ve struggled to understand. I have always believed when someone said, “I forgive you, but I have not forgotten.”  that they were not being truthful. (My grandmother was famous for this.) I get it now. I forgive my assailant, but I have not forgotten the lesson she taught me. Being vigilant is my coping mechanism to keep me safe. Being aware helps me trust my instincts as well. I may not always be out of harm’s way, but I try not to recklessly place myself there.

Whatever choices we make in life come with consequences in which we must learn to deal. I dealt in my own way, piecing my life back together. I’m sure my attacker did the same. I only hope she learned to make better choices.

If “Tanya” is still alive, she should be about forty now. Whether she regretted her actions I will probably never know.  Regardless of her reasons behind the hold up, I hope she got a second lease on life. I hope she is free of whatever demons possessed her that day. I hope drugs and violence are no longer a part of her life. I hope she found the skills and support she needed to live a legal and loving life.

The last step of my healing is forgiveness. For some reason, that was never an option before now. But like I said earlier, I’ve changed. Today, I am finally able to say I forgive her. Merry Christmas to me.  Yes, to me…forgiveness is much more for the person releasing than the person to whom is being forgiven.

****I won’t be posting, visiting, or commenting until after New Years.

Serving In The Season

“Life is short and we have never too much time for gladdening the hearts of those who are travelling the dark journey with us. Oh be swift to love, make haste to be kind.”  — Henri Frederick Amiel

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I sat on my sofa admiring the view outside. Sun dappled the tall still pines. What a beautiful, warm day I thought. As I got closer to the window I noticed those tall pines were not so still; the upper portions were swaying and the limbs and needles were waving good morning. The sun might have been smiling, but I opened the door to be bitten by the wind.

My assumptions were based only on my sense of sight. Even that was limited as I was looking through a window frame. Not only did I not see the whole picture, but I couldn’t view it clearly because the glass was muted. I had made an assessment without using all of my senses. How often do I do that I wondered. It’s probably more often than I’d like to admit.

While my vision is narrow, I can see and feel more when I use my heart. I can use my heart to hear the words unspoken…you know the sentences between the sentences. I remind myself of this ability which should never remain unused.

How many suffer in silence? Is it simply because I don’t see? Or does the blame rest with them because they didn’t speak up? Perhaps they choose to suffer alone. People, personalities, and problems are complex. Everyone knows someone who is obviously in pain…you can see it in the way they walk or stand; you can even read it in their eyes. However, you ask them how they are and they’ll tell you great and how life has blessed them.  Then, there are those people who zip up and down the stairs in stilettos and you ask how they are and they will spend hours telling you about every ache, pain, and how the world is out to get them. It makes one wonder if the latter are suffering on a much deeper level in which they aren’t willing to speak. I confess I get annoyed with these people. I remind myself we each have our own journey to travel.

The holiday season brings out the best in some and the worst in others. We have those who frantically and rudely dash about while we have those who casually and compassionately stride spreading cheer wherever they are.  Which do you choose to be? It’s a conscious decision. Really, it is. While most of us are dealing with deadlines and budgets, we can choose to work with time management and creativity.

We generally reap what we sow.  It is time to give what we wish to receive. We have a choice in what we bestow to the world. We can choose to be kind. We can choose to be generous. We can choose to love. We can choose to be grateful for our blessings. We can choose to be a blessing to others.

“If compassion was the motivating factor behind all of our decisions, would our world not be a completely different place?” –Sheryl Crow

In The Face Of Judgment

‘We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done.’ — Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This photo I took of a green egret never fails to crack me up. He seems to be saying, "Take me as I am, goofiness and all!"

This photo I took of a green egret never fails to crack me up. He seems to be saying, “Take me as I am, goofiness and all!”

This popped up as I was opening my email the other day, “What would you do if you knew no one would judge you?” My instant answer was “nothing”. Since I’ve stepped outside my comfort zone many times in the past few years, I didn’t think I was concerned with others judging me. I gave it a bit of thought, and it turns out I was wrong.

These are a few things I’d do:

I’d make more decisions instead of excuses. There, I admitted it.

I’d take more chances, meaning I wouldn’t let the fear of failure (and thus opinions about said failure or success, for that matter) stop me.

Send a manuscript to a publisher.

Go out in public more often without makeup.

I’d call myself a writer instead of my other job.

I’d enter one of my art quilts in a show.

I’d display my fiber art at a local café which offered to showcase it.

Make a career change.

Drop everything and get a degree in aromatherapy or reiki. (Problem here is application of this knowledge requires the ability to massage and I have arthritis in my hands.)

Admit more often I have no idea what a certain group of people are talking about, or say I didn’t get the joke.

State my discomfort in the midst of family drama and negative conversations rather than ignoring or walking away. (Positive redirection most often doesn’t work here as that is my tactic before removing myself from the situation.)

Take ukulele lessons.

Take a Zumba class.

Paint on a canvas.

Sing out loud.

Hug the trees or dance in the rain in my backyard. Not sure what the problem is since I was already seen by a neighbor as I was running through the yard flapping my arms and tweeting…In my defense, I was playing a game with the children, only the children couldn’t be seen from the fence line.

I’d eat pizza for breakfast and cake for dinner. Oh yeah, I already do that!

Now, it’s your turn…what would you do if you knew no one would judge you?

Letting Go Of Opinions

“Your opinion is not my reality.” ― Steve Maraboli, Unapologetically You: Reflections on Life and the Human Experience

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“Don’t take anything personally.”  I’m sure you have been hearing a lot about this over the past few years as it is one of the agreements in don Miguel Ruiz’ book The Four Agreements. Being of a sensitive nature, I knew this would be a biggie for me.

Deep down I knew the opinions of others are just that, opinions. I understood what others thought or said about me was more about them than me. Still, I struggled with this for years. Finally, I reached the plateau of being able to release this negative energy and allow those opinions to be the business of others. I learned to concentrate on what I thought of myself. Sound selfish or narcissistic? Perhaps, then again we’re forming opinions here.

What I did in actuality was claim my own story. I refused to allow anyone else to write it for me. I’ve realized what others say and do (even when I am the subject) is their story not mine. When words or actions prick through the skin and scathe the heart it becomes a challenge.

I thought I’d conquered this agreement, but yet I found I was doing the same thing to myself over and over. I had (and still have) many opinions of myself. I focused on my weaknesses. I held myself back by setting unreasonable expectations.

I’ve decided to be kinder to myself. I am challenging my own beliefs about myself. While I’m aware of my weaknesses, I am not concentrating on them except by trying to strengthen them. I am learning to use my positive attributes to my advantage.

Rather than prejudging my abilities, I am giving myself a shot at new ideas and opportunities. Opening one’s mind instills confidence. Approaching life with a positive attitude enables me to be less fixated on things that shouldn’t concern me and helps me concentrate on my own endeavors.

What about you? What do you struggle with? How do you deal with these challenges?


Doing What You Love

“I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth. I know that there are no shortcuts, but you must keep your faith in something Greater than You, and keep doing what you love. Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.” ~Judy Collins 

I think the majority of us dream of forgetting about the bills and following our passions, but we have responsibilities…so we indulge in our hobbies in our free time, thinking we’ll have more time when the kids grow up or when we retire. Or we think we can’t afford to chase our dreams until the kids finish college or we have a hefty nest egg put aside. And sometimes before we know it, life has passed us by.

While creating excites us, the end product gives us great joy and peace. We are gifted with talent for a reason whether it’s to bring fulfillment to ourselves or pleasure to others.  It is up to us to tap into our resources. It’s surprising where the quest may lead us.

We each have talents and hobbies. Some of us work full time in these endeavors and others use them as outlets. Currently, the hubby and I enjoy our passions on our downtime. Fortunately, we have similar interests so most of the time we mesh and travel this journey together. Not much gives me more delight than to watch his passion in action. I truly believe when we partake in the activities which feed us spiritually our gifts shine.

When we are out and about on our excursions, we both take lots of photographs.  My photography is totally amateur, mostly taken to accompany my blog posts. Dirt Man takes his photography to an entirely new level. He has a keen eye and his post processing skills are amazing. I love to watch his progression as much as being wowed by his end result. I enjoy sneaking in a few shots of him working and playing. He will stoop, climb, or scuttle to get the perfect angle…and that he does!

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Every photographer needs an assistant. Dirt Man’s is Wylie!

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Dirt Man’s endless pursuit of sunrises, sunsets, comets, stars, storms, and the simple beauty of nature result in masterpieces like this!

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When Play And Pleasure Join Hands

“Why not seize the pleasure at once? — How often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation!”  ― Jane Austen, Emma

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Dirt Man and I tend to plan our adventures, not the actual occurrences but the places we wish to hike or canoe. However, it seems the days we throw caution to the wind and just take off are the times we experience bliss and beauty.

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Sometimes we take the long way home.

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Other times we take the road less traveled.

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Then, there are times we stumble on unexpected treasures.

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One morning on a whim we decided instead of returning home from a trip to explore the back roads of the county we grew up in.

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Another time our plan to visit a wildlife refuge was detoured due to hunting season.

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Spontaneity often leads to serendipity. For us the excitement of adventure coupled with freedom and a lively spirit result in pure bliss.IMG_4444

Take some time and leave agenda behind. See where your path takes you. Soak in the scenery. Use all of your senses to enjoy your day. Most likely you will return to life refreshed.

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When is the last time you did something spontaneous? When is the last time you experienced the feeling of serendipity? What did you do? What happened? Did you receive a burst of energy, a shift in attitude, a lift of spirit, a feeling of freedom, or an unexplained peace? Tell me about your experience.

The Bond

A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow. – William Shakespeare

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Forming relationships with some people happens quickly. Often we have similar interests or outlooks on life. Due to personalities, time, distance, and other life circumstances some friendships require a lot of effort to maintain while others hold their own.

Have you ever met that someone (friend or significant other) you were instantly attracted to? You felt this gravitational pull, perhaps intrigue or simply a comfort about them, something that made you feel as if you’d known them all your life or you wanted to know them on a deeper level.

Most of us claim our spouses/significant others as our best friend. We often say they complete us. I’m one of those people who’ve said this. The more I’ve thought about it I realize I am not completed by my husband so much as I am complemented by him and vice versa. He brings out the best in me by challenging me to do new things and reach higher levels all the while respecting my individuality.

I think we often forget we are whole as we are. We don’t need anyone to complete us; however the people we surround ourselves with should be ones who support our achievements, commend our efforts, and edify and soothe our souls.

Don’t be afraid to loosen the binds to those who strain you. We don’t usually feel we can do that with family relations. If we are unable to limit contact with them, we can control how we allow their behavior to make us feel. What they do is their responsibility…how I feel about it is mine. I’ve given this much thought. I’ve decided not to allow other people’s bad habits or conduct dictate my happiness…I refuse to allow myself to be angry at another’s lack of morals, nor will I permit myself to be manipulated into doing things not from my heart.

Strengthen the bonds with those whose mere presence in your life encourage you to do your best and be your best.

Take the time to friend yourself. See to your own needs, physical and spiritual. You will be a better friend to others because of it.