I Don’t Know

I had another post in mind to write today and it was even a little bit funny.

And then a bit of real life entered my little world and this post is in response to that reality.

I don’t know.

I don’t know why bad things happen to good people.

I don’t know why some young men die and some don’t.

I don’t know why someone who is doing a lot to make the world a better place gets cancer.

I don’t know why some people work so hard and can’t make ends meet.

I don’t know why life isn’t fair.

I don’t know what to say when the people in my life are hurting and struggling with difficult situations.

I don’t know how to make it better or explain it or make the pain go away.

I’d like to think that there is some master plan and that all the pieces work together in a way that would make sense if I could see the “big picture”.

But, sometimes I think that if I had a bird’s eye view of the world, I would  see a million card tables covered in unfinished jigsaw puzzles because the dog ate some of the pieces.

That maybe it doesn’t make any sense at all and it just is.

I don’t have any words that make any of it any better.

Sometimes it just hurts and we cry and we scream and we get mad and we feel guilty…

I pray that my faith is strong enough to keep me upright so that I can support those that I love.

I pray for wisdom to know what to say and when to remain silent.

I pray that I am present for those that feel alone…even when I know that we have to do the hardest things by ourselves.

I pray for hope that when we can’t see the light, we can at least see the faintest twinkle of the stars in the darkness.

And I try to make peace with what I can and cannot do.

And believe that we are not all in this reality alone.

Peace.

Addendum:  So I typed this post and headed off to my cleaning job – not realizing that I had failed to hit “Publish”.

As my daughter and I were driving into town, she did that “magic” thing where music from your phone plays on the car radio.   I don’t pretend to understand most electronics.   The mystery of it all is too much for me.

Anyway, she subscribes to some kind of service that sends you song selections that you might like and you pick and choose what you enjoy.

This song by Sam Smith came on the radio.  I’ll just post the lyrics and you can listen to it somewhere if you are interested…

Pray
I’m young and I’m foolish, I’ve made bad decisions
I block out the news, turn my back on religion
Don’t have no degree, I’m somewhat naive
I’ve made it this far on my own
But lately, that shit ain’t been gettin’ me higher
I lift up my head and the world is on fire
There’s dread in my heart and fear in my bones
And I just don’t know what to say
Maybe I’ll pray, pray
Maybe I’ll pray
I have never believed in you, no
But I’m gonna pray
You won’t find me in church (no) reading the Bible (no)
I am still here and I’m still your disciple
I’m down on my knees, I’m beggin’ you, please
I’m broken, alone, and afraid
I’m not a saint, I’m more of a sinner
I don’t wanna lose, but I fear for the winners
When I try to explain, the words run away
That’s why I am stood here today
And I’m gonna pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray (Lord), pray (Lord), maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Won’t you call me?
Can we have a one-to-one, please?
Let’s talk about freedom
Everyone prays in the end
Everyone prays in the end
Oh, and I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray, I’m gonna pray
Pray for a glimmer of hope
Maybe I’ll pray, pray, maybe I’ll pray
I’ve never believed in you, no, but I’m gonna pray
Songwriters: James John Napier / Jose Angel Velazquez / Larrance Levar Dopson / Samuel Frederick Smith / Timothy Z. Mosley
Pray lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Peermusic Publishing, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, Clay Music Corporation
I turned to her and asked if she had read what I had written on the blog and picked out this song for me.
She said no.
Maybe it’s a coincidence?
Or maybe not…

 

 

here i am

try

That quiet voice has been an important part of my life lately.

It has been a constant when other, louder voices in my head have kept up a continual chant of negativity.

Every day, I have thought about sitting down and writing here.

I had planned to.

I just didn’t.

And then it got harder and harder.

The voices told me that I was a failure as a blogger because I wasn’t writing regularly.  That maybe what I had to say wasn’t worth writing about.  That it was ridiculous to share these thoughts and vulnerabilities with complete strangers and the world.

And so I didn’t write…

day after day…

the words circled in my head…

both things I thought about sharing and doubt about the worthiness of those things.

here I am

I’ve been working on art cards a lot lately.  If you don’t know about them, you can find information here:

unearthedart.wordpress.com

One of the quotes I’ve been using says, “Vulnerability sounds like truth and feels like courage.”  -Brene Brown

vulnerability

truth

courage

Today, the quiet voice is the one I choose to listen to.

Nelson Mandela said that “The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

I don’t feel brave…I am afraid all the time.

But today I am writing…

I share my vulnerability because it is my truth and there are many who are struggling in the same way I am and maybe my voice can make a difference.

When you are depressed, sometimes all you can accomplish is one little thing.

It may not be big or even that important.

You just have to do one thing.

And then take that “win” and try one more thing.

And nuture the quiet voice that is named “hope”.

The quiet voice is the voice of truth.

All the other is just noise.

Today I have written here.

And I shall make more art cards trusting that quiet messages of hope will find their way into the hands of those who need to hear…

 

 

I Once Was Lost

Hello.

It’s been a while.

I haven’t wanted to write very often and when I did, I couldn’t.

This has probably been the worst I’ve ever been.

alone

It hasn’t all been bad, of course.  It’s honestly been a roller coaster ride.  Bad and good.  Highs and lows. Fun times and disasters (literally).  We’ve had hurricanes, a Carnival cruise, new health issues for my sister, unimproved health issues of my own, a worsening financial situation, unemployment and job searches, and car troubles.  Some of it was our life, some of it our children’s.  All of it managed to bring forth a serious depression that I am just now dragging myself out of.

There are, of course, a lot of stories to be found in the past several weeks (or is it months?), but it is late and I need to sleep.

Suffice it to say that I have been very lost.  So lost that I was not sure that I would find myself again.  I couldn’t write.  In fact, there were days I couldn’t think my way through the most basic of activities.

There were even days when I didn’t care if I made it through the day.  I didn’t care about anything.  I especially didn’t care about myself.

I felt nothing and everything.

As with most challenging times, lessons can be learned.  Experience is the best teacher or so I’ve heard.

Over the last couple of days, I seem to be in an upswing.  During the times that I did feel a sense of hope, I’ve continued to research my current health issues that I am coming to believe are all related.  I think stress is a common denominator and still believe that diet is key to resolving a lot of what is going on.

I’ve started a journal of sorts that chronicles what I’m eating, exercise, stress, and mood swings.  It will be interested to see if a pattern emerges.

I have been lost and not for the first time.

But today, for the first time in a long while, I believe that I can find the answers I am looking for.

And so the journey continues…and so does this blog.

 

 

Travel well

Monday mornings present an interesting juxtaposition of thought for me.

On on hand they are an opportunity…a new beginning and fresh start.  A chance to write down that to-do list and accomplish…whatever it is that needs doing.

On the other hand, Mondays can just be frustrating.  So much to do and so much undone from the week before.  The feeling that this week might be just as difficult, or more so, than the week before.

The latter thought process is not helpful.  It is self-defeating and starts the week off with negativity.  Nevertheless, the thoughts are a reality and cannot be ignored.  Sometimes life can seem to be an endless loop of beginnings and endings and not much in the middle.

So, today I shall acknowledge that sometimes life is frustrating.  And that sometimes the end of my week does not meet the expectations of the beginning.

And I shall continue to try and live in grace and hope…and be grateful for the opportunity a new week provides.  I’ll make a new list and continue to be optimistic about the possibilities that this week of my life might offer.

I will attempt to live through the ups and downs that these days of my life will certainly serve up.  I know in advance that there will be failure and tears and happiness and beauty.  I will travel through the challenges and dwell in the good.  That is my plan for this week.

And now is the time to share the news that I have been alluding to over the past several weeks.  I can share the part of the story that is mine.

Our son, Jacob, has joined the Army.  He completed the last of the process and was sworn in last Wednesday.  He reports for training the middle of this month.  There is much I could write about this journey.  I shall keep it simple.

I am his Mom.

I love him.

I am proud of him.

I am afraid for him.

This decision has been a long time coming for him.  I have watched him carefully consider it.  Research it.  Carry it in his heart and revisit it from time to time.  This is what he feels called to do.

I believe in him and am in awe of his ability to listen to that “voice” that is guiding him.  I have struggled my whole life with finding my way.

I read a quote the other day.  I can’t remember where.  “To find your purpose, follow your passion.”

He is doing that.

Travel well, my son.

May we all find our passion and our purpose and travel well.

 

Lost

I sit in the doctor’s office and tell her about my issues with my vision and make excuses for why I haven’t come in sooner to explore the possible medical issues like I was supposed to.

She says, “You are here now.”

I sit in the doctor’s office and list the stressful events of the past six months and then try to apologize for why I haven’t handled things better.

She says, “You are obviously under a great deal of stress. Let’s work on fixing that.”

I sit in the doctor’s office and cry because I feel lost and wonder where I went wrong and when I lost control of everything.

She asks, “When were you in control?”

Now, I’ve done lab work, have new prescriptions and an order for a MRI of my brain.

That will all be helpful and will give us some new information and possibly provide some answers, and maybe even fix some things that need fixing.

I sit at this computer and hesitate to write because it doesn’t seem that I have anything worth saying anymore and I can’t imagine that any worthwhile words will come.

It seems that I have reached a point somewhat near the bottom where it is  dark and hope seems difficult to see from where I sit.

I am lost.

Tick Tock.

Although this line of prose appears directly below the words “I am lost”, a considerable amount of time has passed before this line was typed.

A copious whirlwind of thoughts are churning in my brain, but it is not so easy to sort out cohesive and coherent ones to share.

It’s kind of messy up there in my head right now.

It seems that I should write even though I don’t know that I have anything to say.

Having started this blog, I feel that I should stick with it.

Worrying about the reception of my words seems to be a dangerous path to venture down.

My writing has taken on a life of its own and reaches a diverse audience that I could not have anticipated, and in fact, do not even attempt to understand.

I have to believe that writing today is the thing to do.

If I am lost today, then maybe someone else is also.

I know that our stories are important.

Our voices connect us and keep us from feeling alone.

When we are lost, the words of others can help us find our way again.

And despite the somewhat wandering and depressed tone of this post today…

in the words often shared by an important person in my life,

“Be not afraid”.

I have been in the dark before.

I have been lost before.

Life has ups and downs.

Mountains and valleys.

The important thing is to keep walking.

You can’t stay in one place.

That is not living.

 

 

For now, I can quit making lists of what needs to be done.

That is not helpful.

It is not time to catch up on all that is undone.

That is the past.

It is time to seek that which is ahead of me.

To search for the things in the light…

Love and laughter and forgiveness and hope.

 

 

Ugh.

Or maybe Yuck.

One word to describe the way I feel physically and emotionally.

I’m still tired and coughing.  It doesn’t help that the weather is changing every hour.

Hot enough to wear a t-shirt and shorts going barefoot one day.

Then a t-shirt, flannel shirt, sweater, jeans and socks the next.

Can’t the temperature be relatively the same for at least two days in a row.

Cedar and mold and dust…all at the same time!

We’re all carrying rolls of toilet paper around.  I’m too cheap to buy Kleenex.  I’m very into multi-purpose home supplies right now.

The studio has stayed clean.  I know it’s been less than twenty-four hours, but I’m going to cheer myself on with a win anyway.  I was able to find everything I needed for my art class today without rummaging through piles of stuff.  That felt good.

This second class that I’m teaching is older kiddos…junior high and high school.  I’m really enjoying it, but they are all super-talented.  A couple are more naturally talented than I am.  At least I have more experience than they do.  It’s going to be challenging to keep up with them!

Today on the home-front we sorted through wedding stuff and got a lot of it boxed up into some sort of order.  New lists and more lists – things we forgot and things we didn’t think of.  I think it’s going okay (except when I start panicking and lose it!).

The bridal shower is tomorrow and guess who forgot to get a gift.

Then we just have two more weeks until the big day!

I’ve made a decision to leave Facebook for a while.  I just can’t deal with the drama, the arguments, the name-calling and the total suspension of respect for differing opinions.

If you read my posts as they are shared on Facebook, you can continue to do so.  I will not be getting notifications of comments or “likes” however.  To stay in communication, you will need to log on to faithacrestudio.com and “follow” me here.

This was not an easy decision.   I’ve “unfriended” a lot of folks that just couldn’t let up with the continually negative posting. I kept thinking people could or would calm down and relax a little.  That maybe we could start sharing our daily lives again and keep in touch about the little stuff – the little stuff matters too.

We can’t live in a constant state of fear, panic and readiness to battle every anticipated tragedy.  I know this because I’ve been doing it since childhood and my body is worn out.  I’ve shared this before.  For my health and sanity, I just refuse to do it anymore.  I’m bowing out of the front lines.

When you wake up every morning looking for the next horrible thing that has happened, or more likely the next horrible tragedy that hasn’t happened yet, you miss out on the simple beauty of the everyday.  We see what we are looking for.  I am choosing to look for hope and joy.

I’ll still be here…sharing my stories and my moments.

Our stories and sharing are what is most important right now.

The goodness is still present.

There is still hope.

The steps we take in our daily lives will always have more of an impact on the world than any march.

Little things matter.

Our love matters.

Never stop believing that.

Where is the Middle?

Upon the occasion of my most recent birthday (the one where I turned 55), I did a little bit of computation.

Unless modern medicine and science steps up it’s game, I’m not middle-aged anymore. Technically, I wasn’t middle-aged last year either, but I don’t remember thinking much about it.  I suppose that I might have thought about it and forgotten.  That’s entirely possible, seeing as how I’m closer to old age than middle age at this point.

Anyhow, living to be 110 year of age seems highly unlikely given my genetic inheritance.  I know that it’s not all about nature – nurture and environment play a role also.  Let’s evaluate that for a bit, shall we…

I’m a child of the sixties.  You know, the generation that ate margerine instead of butter because it was so good for you. And, what do you mean that potatoes aren’t a vegetable?  Okay, we’ll have salad – iceburg lettuce with Miracle Whip.  Don’t forget those brand-new convenience foods that are making Mom’s life so much easier…Tang, potted meat, boxed mac-n-cheese, jello and canned ravioli.  I’m eating better now as an adult (most of the time) so that probably won’t kill me outright.

The one activity that I am a bit concerned about though is that classic evening activity we all enjoyed in the South…running behind the mosquito fog truck …DDT shower anyone?  Plus I did spend a number of years in the Rio Grande Valley watching the crop-dusters present their show as they sprayed the crops several times a year…

Oh well, all of that is in the past and out of my control.  Other than learning from the past and remembering the good stuff, the past needs to be history.

And worrying about whether I’m going to make it to 110. or 56 for that matter, is pointless.

I have no guarantees.

None of us do.

I have right now.

And I have hope for the future.

What I do with the time is mine to decide…well, not mine totally.  Other folks factor in somewhat…my family and my friends have some say on what happens with my time.  But, the  choice of who I let share my time is mine to make.

Okay, strictly speaking sometimes we lose control over who and what comes into our life for a time.  Bad stuff happens.  Rude people happen.  A moment or more is lost to circumstance.

But the choice is still ours – the choice of how to look at it and how to live in the time we have.

Here’s a story.

I was out with my sister the other day and we were driving along.  I saw an assisted living center with the name “Autumn Leaves”.  I innocently commented that I thought “Autumn Leaves” was a pretty cool name for an assisted living center.

My sister who is 70 years of age and was near death more than once this past month, had another perspective.  About the autumn leaf reference she replied, “Yeah, drying up, falling off of the tree, being raked into a pile, and burned…”

Okay.  Maybe I didn’t think my comment through.  That happens more often than I’d like to admit.

At 55, I was more focusing on the whole life cycle thing.  And that I like autumn leaves.  They’re pretty when they change colors and float about in the wind.  Maybe I was thinking about composting them and enriching the soil for next year’s planting.

At 55, I like to think that I’m still green and on the tree.  I’m busy reaching towards the light providing the tree with nourishment and cleaning the air.

At 55,  I’m not ready to turn brown and fall off the tree yet.

I’ve met very few people in my life who are ready for that…at any age.

So, I’m going to try and quit thinking about my life as having a beginning, a middle, and an end.

There may well be a Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.  That I can’t change…but I can keep having beginnings when I choose and as often as I need to.

I can end things that aren’t positive and beneficial for me when need be.

I can choose to do it all with joy.

And when it’s my time to fall off the tree, I can become the best damn mulch for the future to grow in as a result of the joyful choices that I’ve made.

 

Journey

The secret that we share I cannot tell in full. But this much I will tell. What’s lost is nothing to what’s found, and all the death that ever was, set next to life, would scarcely fill a cup.”
― Frederick Buechner, Godric

In looking back over the past month’s postings, it seems that I have wandered far afield from my normal life and, indeed, from the original intent of this blog.

But that’s okay, I believe.

In life’s journey we start at point “A” with a specific destination in mind, but often encounter delays, detours and/or complete changes in our itinerary.

Sometimes we forget where we were going altogether and never find our way back.

Sometimes we get lost and find that we like the new place we found so much that we stay there.

Sometimes we get bored and start the journey again.

Sometimes the weather gets so bad that we can’t see where we are going.

Some of us won’t use a map (or in my case, can’t read a map) and get lost a whole lot.

I’ve known some people that refuse to go anywhere at all.  Most out of fear of what they will encounter along the way.

I also know some people that seem fearless.  The road holds a fascination for them. They’ll go anywhere, anytime…embracing the unknown.

A lot of folks seem to be stuck trudging along trying to get through each day as best they can.  Dealing with the bumps in the road that life can so often produce.  The journey can seem so hard that it’s almost impossible to look ahead and make decisions about what turn to take at the next fork in the road.  They find it hard to experience or interact with the scenery, events and possibilities that line the path they are on.  It’s all they can do to put one foot in front of the other and just keep moving.

Mostly, life is made up of all these variables.

Sometimes we move forward with confidence and accomplish much and sometimes we stop and wait and hope.

Joy and sorrow.

Work and Sabbath.

Building up and Tearing Down…Rebuilding.

Growing and Harvesting.

Starting and Ending.

So…

this blog is not where it started.  It has begun and paused.  Started again and wandered.  Been optimistic and doubtful.  Interesting and…not so much.

It is where it needs to be and moving on.

Just as I am.

 

 

Time

I never intended to let so much time go by between blog posts.  I had every intention of writing about our graduation road trip, our Christmas activities, humorous family anecdotes, exciting New Year’s plans and how the decluttering effort impacted all of it.

Nevertheless, almost a month has passed by and not a word has been typed here (until now).  That’s the thing about intentions.  They may be good intentions and there may even be a plan (of sorts) about how you are going to carry out said intentions, but…

Life has a way of slipping away – a day or two, a week, a month, and then, before you know it, things just didn’t get done, plans are neglected, and life is passing by – sometimes at a seemingly alarming rate.

And this is my segue into my topic for today:  2016’s theme, plan, dream and hope for the Barrow family.

Last year I chose “be the change” as my focus phrase for the year.  I had grown tired of my complacent and sometimes whiny attitude with regards to my life.  “Be the change” helped to remind me that it is my life and my choices made the difference in whether things got better, stayed the same or worsened.  It worked well.  We implemented a budget, became more intentional about our spending, and paid off some of our debt.  In general, we just became more aware of how we lived out life.  Simply phrased, we picked up a paddle and started steering the boat instead of drifting along in the current of life.

This year, we are taking it a step further.  The family has chosen a phrase together.  “Turn your can’t into can and your dreams into plans.”

We’ve identified some goals and hopes for the upcoming year and are continuing to add to the list.  But, it’s more than a list.  Every idea or goal has an action plan with it. Concrete, definite plans that can make it happen.

We are creating a “life” wall where we can post each action plan.  There the lists will stay as we add to and cross off each item.  In our face and unavoidable.

One of the foremost things on our list is home improvement.  Some major repairs need to be done including floor repair and exterior paint. Lots of cosmetic repairs are included as well.  We’ve talked about these projects off and on for a while, but that’s where it ended – talk.  There was always a reason we didn’t do it – time and money mostly.  Next payday, next weekend, when the bonus comes in, during the holiday break….  We’ve realized that the condition of our home directly impacts our life, our happiness, and contentment level.

We are working on a major plan where each room is assigned a month for the projects to be completed.  Every task, every supply, every detail is listed so that there is no question about what is needed to complete the job.

How are we going to pay for it (and continue to pay down our debt)?  That’s a very good question.  Honestly, there is a certain amount of faith and optimism attached to our plan.  Hopefully, the action plan will help keep us focused on the goal and we can live more intentionally and direct our money towards the projects.  Some hard choices will need to be made, I’m sure.  With the plans in place, the hope is that we can pre-purchase or source needed materials when a great deal comes along.  We’ll know what we need ahead of time.  There will definitely need to be some creativity and ingenuity involved.

The decluttering effort will also continue.  Right now, the house looks very lived in.  Very, very, very lived in. Details would just lower your opinion of my housekeeping abilities.  I definitely have a low opinion of my housekeeping skills right now.  I think that, overall, the decluttering I did before the holidays helped, but there is more to do.  Lots of life gets lived here.  I just need to figure out how to make the living easier!