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Zelda meets the boy

zelda and meZelda the Wonderbus is magical. I knew it as soon as they unloaded her from the trailer. There was something special about her. I imagined adventures rivaled only by Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. I jumped in and wheeled around the block. I got a few honks and waved proudly. The horn didnt work or I would have tooted gleefully. It was a few days later that I found out my brake lights and turn signals didnt work and decided the honkers were not waving at me like I thought. I had that fixed and got to work. I put in a laminated wood floor. I stained the cabinets and got new hinges for her. I put in a sound system. I bought seat covers. I sewed a new screen on her tent. We bonded. I think she cherished our time together. She always starts and she garnishes grins everywhere we go. She is even playful, once popping out of gear as I wrestled with the netting. She just wanted to be close to me as I had to scramble to the front to apply the brakes. Zany Zelda.

I have been in a quandry as of late. I find my self romanticizing the past and dwelling on love lost. I have oscillated between feeling like I should live out an 80’s movie and hold up a boom box or some other grand gesture or dive into self remorse and flagellation. I have been doing counseling and trying to learn about myself and why I function like this. It hasnt been easy. What I have found is that I have been unable to really relate to people my whole life. I have not been good at forming attachments or relationships. I, immediately, go to the needy stage and live only as others see me. I had no true self.

My long term relationship worked because she was all too happy to feed me an identity. After I got sober and started to come alive, it disturbed her. She withdrew and I panicked. I did not know myself and I did not know how to be in a relationship. However, I was tired of being dead and couldnt go back again. It crumbled and neither of us knew how to deal with it as evidenced by how nasty it became.

I spend some time trying to understand. I stood strong with my daughters and against some of the slings and arrows. I didnt crumble. I got knocked down a lot and always got back up. Things kept getting worse. I kept soberly moving forward. It started to brighten when I reconnected with an old friend of mine. We dated on and off for about a year. Looking back, I wasnt ready. I still had no idea how to be in a relationship. I had no idea how to love. What needed to start from the inside wasnt there. I quickly saw myself only as she saw me. I wanted to be that guy and was willing to try and be so. When I fell short, I would run away. It became too painful for either of us. However, I still cherish the time we spent together. I did better in that relationship than I had ever done before.zelda with seven

Zelda and I went camping this weekend. She is spruced up and full of style. We decided to stay close but go somewhere I hadnt been before. I have been really pondering who I am and how I fit into this crazy world and taking a break from that would be awesome. Zelda is magical. Not in the fortune telling way like the machine in, “Big”. Or in the fantasy way like in the video game way. She is magical as she just wanted to be with me. She trudged her way up the hill at 60-65 mph (impossible many VW owners say). We found an unoccupied free camping site right next to a stream. We parked and I set up the site. Really, I unfolded the bed and put my memory foam topper on it. I sat with her and read. I listen to her sounds. She listen to me breath. I will neither confirm nor deny that I spent some time talking with her. The magic part is that she allowed me to see what had happened to me and what was happening now. She opened my eyes to the fact that I had isolated all over again. I was afraid. I have ben afraid since I was a kid. I am afraid that someone will tease me. I am afraid that I wont be liked. I am afraid I will be called a coward. I am afraid that I am “less than.” When the bottom fell out of my life, I didnt have to be afraid anymore. I knew that I could survive and be ok with next to nothing. As friends, collegues, family turned their back on me, I saw the truth of who was left. As I scrambled financially, I saw the truth of wants versus needs. As I felt unforgiven and judged by the church universal, I say the loving and forgiving Grace of God. I felt the comfort of Abba. What Zelda showed me is that I am afraid again. I moved to an unfamiliar state, took a different job, left a love interest, set up house in a place 8 hours from anyone I knew. I went to meetings that have a different style and felt wrong. I agreed to restrictions I found silly and misdirected. I was over my head, alone, and without defenses. I was scared. I didnt think I was. I had fought hard to get here. I figured I would just keep fighting. The meetings got wierder, the job prospects unsteady. I wanted to go back to where I was before. I needed someone to tell me who I was and that I would be ok. I was addicted to avoiding my inner self, my true self. Zelda showed me. Under the fear, behind the locked door of my heart, hidden in the corner is that scared boy. He wants to relate. He wants to love. He wants to not be afraid. His arms are outstretched. I hugged that boy this weekend. I told him he was very brave for trying so hard. He was very smart for figuring out a way to get his needs met for so long. He is “just enough.”

Zelda started right up when I headed home.zelda front

 
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Posted by on August 30, 2015 in journey, life

 

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am I serious?

Today is my 48th birthday.

I am 8 1/2 years on the road of Happy Destiny.

I am 3 years out of a bad marriage.

I am 6 months into a “do-over” on my career and life.

I am about 3 days into the recognition that I take myself too seriously re-struck its disharmonious chord with me.

I have had a tumultuous few years and have had to start my life all over a few times before I could gain purchase. I even fell in love since the divorce, but was so panicked about loosing it, I lost it.

When I did a week at a counseling center in Arizona, the counselor suggested to me that I was way to serious and had lost touch with my inner child.  I had never been told I was too serious before. It was odd to me. I had lost my smile and the joy in little things. However, I thought I had been getting them back. I had moved and started teaching. I felt like I would be ok even though I was unsure how. This was one of the steps to get a license in Idaho and restart my medical career. Things were looking up. Serious? me? She thought so and suggested I go to Build a Bear and design my inner child.

“Ummm, really?”

“Yes, you need to get in touch with it and you aren’t.”

“I will, but I sort of think its stupid.”

“All the more reason why I think you should.”

Big T

I did. He rides around with me in my car. This is his, “Are you serious?” look.

Still I have been feeling lost and separated from myself for some time now. I am unsettled and lonely. I have gotten stuck in the quicksand of my past. I have screamed and hollered. I have begged and pleaded. I have not moved on. I couldn’t let go of what I knew for the unknown. I was scared of my life and of myself. I didn’t trust me or God. “You just have to know that God is protecting you, you are safe,” she said. “You will be ok,” my old life said.

I forgot to enjoy the present. I forgot to enjoy me in the present. I am not that miserable guy. I like to laugh. I enjoy to have fun and do silly things. I remembered in an unusual way. I set about the task of making my new house my new home. I was dismantling the shoddy shelving the previous owner built and was holding a jigsaw. I dropped it on my wrist and opened a gash in my arm. I stopped the bleeding and started looking for a needle and thread to sew it up. At one point, I looked at the wound and felt faint. I had to lay down. As I regained my composure, I giggled that I was thinking of suturing myself and I cant even look at it without feeling lightheaded. I called a friend to take me to ER, but said to wait about 5 minutes, so I could eat a sandwich. She giggled and said, “Are you serious?” I took pictures of the wound and posted it on Facebook so all could guess on number of sutures. I had fun in the ER, actually.

When I got home, I was going to hang those tennis balls to know how far to pull into the garage. I didn’t have any, but I did have all these Snoopy toys that I couldn’t figure out where I wanted them to go.  So…

snoopy chain

I giggle each time my windshield taps these.  You will notice that I also hung my old kitchen lights in the garage to spruce it up.

I was feeling lighter somehow. I felt like I recognized me. I had begun to trust that I would be ok. I recognized my perseverance. I recognize my character. I felt hope. On Sunday, in the education hour, we talked about Romans 5:3 and Romans 8:28. “From suffering comes perseverance, from perseverance, character, and from character, hope.” I was comforted and felt the hope. So I went to the mall and rode a motorized dog (it looks suspiciously like my inner child, Big T says).

dog ride

I am serious about hope. I am serious about life. I am serious about God. I am serious about hoping to have fun with my life and with my God.

Wanna race?

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in faith, journey, life

 

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slurping Grace

I miss my daughters. Today is my youngest daughter’s birthday. There are a few great stories that keep flashing in my brain:

She was born on Earth Day and took that very seriously. When she was 5 or 6, she decided that the activity at her birthday party was to take the party outside and pick up trash. It was a bit nippy that day, but to see 15 preschoolers carrying black trash bags and picking up trash is indelible in my mind. For years afterward, people would comment on how fun that was.

The other is a post I did a long time ago. It was around communion. First you need to know that my daughter has one of those giraffe tongues. She can touch her nose with her tongue. I secretly wonder if she could lick her eyebrows with practice. In our church, we do communion every Sunday. We pass it up and down the aisles and you hold the tray for the next person while they get the bread and take a shot for Jesus. We have those little clear plastic cups. As it gets to her, she takes her time to find the biggest piece of bread. Then takes the cup and swigs the Grace of Salvation. Then her tongue dives into the cup. It filled the cup as she explored the nooks and crannies of the small cup. It seemed like she did it for hours, but it was a few seconds. She passed the tray without returning the cup and kept playing with it, using her tongue.  I kept giggling at it and thought how that is how we should all accept Grace…slurping it and interacting with Joy.

 
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Posted by on April 22, 2015 in children, faith

 

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scarecrow, courage, and the red brick road

KABOOM. My own personal Big Bang was when one world ended and new one began. I am almost 3 years into a new life circumstances. I lit the fuse on the bomb that would catapult me into a new dimension. It did not disappoint. KABOOM describes it pretty well. My wife was gone, my kids would be assaulted with the shrapnel and would eventually need to shield themselves from the pain and reject me. My business would be assumed by my ex-wife. My career would end, I would be moving 7 times in the next three years in three different states. When I went and had my taxes done this year, the tax person said, “Wow this is going to be complicated.” I would be lonely, isolated, scared, scarred, in love, in fear, accepted, and rejected.

One person described my journey as akin to Job in the Bible. I don’t remember the pox, but the other stuff seems to have metaphorical equivalents. However, I prefer to think of it as I am Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Well, Dorothy with facial hair and negative self talk.

I had run away from home. I felt unloved and a loss of intimacy. I had never learned to ask for what I needed. I didn’t know how to restore the intimacy. I tried “The Love Dare,” counseling, and even marriage retreats. It didn’t work, but in all honesty, it was too late. I had been away for a long time. I had started to change for the better. I was actively working on my journey, my connection to God, and keeping my side of the street clean. It was supported in words, but not in action. I didn’t want to go back to the old me and walked the journey alone. I was told the storm was coming. I couldn’t make it home, and the journey ahead was daunting.

My house began to shake, the windows begin to twitch, the sands began to shift. Woosh. I was flung into a new world. I hung out with one group of munchkins that cleaned the royal carriage, but in my world they looked like golf carts. The lollipop guild and I took breaks together as I drove a school bus. We skipped along a path as I taught math.

I ignored how comfortable I was around the Scarecrow. I will miss the Scarecrow most of all. She walked shoulder to shoulder with me for a long time. I slid into the victim role and wanted her to solve my problems. I let the flying monkeys rip her to shreds. I then needed her to save me from the witches tower. And then I followed the Red trail instead of the Golden one and left. I wish the tornado would work backward.

The difference from my story and Dorothy’s (besides the obvious…monkeys cant fly) is that I can’t go home again. Things wont ever be the same. My journey seems to be unidirectional. I wouldn’t go back to that life anyway. I am thankful for the tornado. I have hurt a lot, but I am a much better person. I have been given a brain, a heart, and courage. The Wizard paid in spades. I will always be thankful and remorseful over leaving my companions on the other side of the rainbow.

I miss the Scarecrow most of all.

 
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Posted by on March 29, 2015 in journey

 

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umm, one more thing…

The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein.

Someone mentioned that book recently. I really like Shel Silverstein’s books and this was no exception. I felt a little superior to those in the room who hadn’t read it. I am a renaissance man. They unfolded it with several different interpretations: the boy was selfish and a taker, the tree an enabler, the boy was direct and could ask for what he wanted, the tree freely gave in sacrificial love. There were many others, but I was horrified and stopped paying attention. For some reason, my relationship with God kept nagging in my brain. Was I in a relationship or was I simply taking and expecting? Was I allowing God to relate to me in the moment or was I denying Him when things didn’t go my way?

In my journey, I have adopted the strategy of not merely apologizing or asking forgiveness, but making amends. I strive to mend the relationship by asking what it is that I need to do to make it right, or to make the person feel whole or in the direction of whole.

Quick side note: If you decide to do this, you will need to explain what you are doing almost every time you do it. I’ve had people ask me to please just say I am sorry.

I have been selfish with God. After my divorce, I was at a real low spot for some time. Our friends felt a need to choose sides, and I lost most of them. My pastors stopped responding to emails. Many of my patients were told elaborate and, most times, embellished stories about me and turned away in public settings. Her family reprimanded me and then blocked me on phones and email. My kids were told horrible things about me and told to call me by my first name rather than Dad. Not a single person asked me my side of the story. I had lost my career and my practice as well. I would apply for 500+ jobs in the next 2 years. I worked cleaning golf carts and driving the tractor to pick up golf balls. (That was really pretty fun.) I drove a school bus. I got 2 advanced online degrees. I bought a house by cashing in some of my retirement money and crossed my fingers that a job would come along. I begged God to help me find work and moaned about Him not getting me a job. I didn’t recognize the amazing gift I was being given. I was being granted a life vacation while I got my heart and head organized. I didn’t see it or take advantage of it the way some people would. I spent time growing and learning, but never went to the alps, finished my book, or created wonderous works of art.

I made new friends and meet new people. The friends I had stood by me, shoulder to shoulder. I also had the opportunity to see who I was independently. I got an opportunity to meet and greet myself. I grew to like me again. I was given the chance to see what true friendship is and true forgiveness could look like. I was held accountable, and loved. I lamented the loss of people I called friends and family. I felt isolated and alone. I still ache at the separation and alienation from my kids. I forgot the God had made sure I wasn’t alone. I had friends and family that supported me, that held me, that held me up.

I realized the other day, while riding my “temple bike”, that I have been blaming God for His followers. I have been upset that Christians gossiped about me, judged and condemned me, ignored me, would not forgive me, moved to the other side of the road as they passed by me. I could not understand why all this was happening to me. I was hurt, lost, scared, and felt alone. I was angry at God. The Truth is that I made the choices that led to my downfall and isolation. The Truth is that despite my actions, God stood shoulder to shoulder with me. He allowed me to breath and regroup. He allowed me to understand myself and to grow. He allowed me to open my heart and mind to live more fully into who He sees me as. The Truth is that God didn’t gossip, judge, condemn, ignore, or pass me by. God forgave me, even before I did it.

“God, I have been selfish, dishonest, and insincere. How do I make it right?”

“I already did.”

 
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Posted by on August 13, 2014 in journey, life

 

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ride it like you stole it

I think my bike is a temple. Seriously. Not all bikes, and not because my bike is somehow different than any other bike. It seems like I can be all twisted around the axle about any number of things. I will go to meetings. I will go to church. I will seek counsel. I pray. I meditate. I read books. I write this blog. However, I will remain twisted until I ride my bike. I had a friend who used to run long distances. He said it was getting harder and harder to get a runners high. It is similar on my bike temple. IT takes me awhile to get into the right mindset to hear God, or to recognize the work being done in my head. This last ride, I had to double back and do some sections again because He wasn’t done yet.

This Sunday, I went to a new church and it was an ok sermon. I ducked out of Sunday school because I wanted to ride before it rained. I was headed home and drove by the church where my mom and sisters memorial services were. The service had just started and I decided to listen to the sermon. There was something about this guy that spoke to my mom and sister and I thought I wanted to hear it. He was speaking of Grace. He talked about how to keep Grace you needed to earn it. He told several stories about people who just didn’t understand Grace. He said, with no small amount of disdain, that one woman had actually said that Grace is like a carwash and you come out clean. He scoffed. He told of a college boy who said he felt so welcome in the Lutheran church because it wasn’t as oppressive as his Baptist roots. The boy felt that nothing he did wouldn’t be forgiven. The pastor told of his rebuke and said that God expected more out of the boy to keep Grace.

I was a little bothered. OK, I was incensed.

Grace is not a commodity. Grace isn’t earned or selectively granted. It is given freely and openly to all that will receive it. Luther himself broke from the catholic church because he felt that all you need was Grace. I have been the woman, dirty, hurting, lost, and lonely. I have needed to know I was clean. I have been the boy, rejoicing in the idea that unconditional love is not a myth. I have been blind. I have been wrong. I have been lost. I don’t want to be the person who speaks of Grace and doesn’t share it. When I pray the Lord’s prayer and ask for the Grace of forgiveness from my sins, I want to absorb the idea that I now know how to give that Grace.

As I rode my bike, I realized that I am not extending the pastor as much Grace as I would like to be extended. Shoot. I guess I will just have to accept that some people want to hear it that way.

I don’t.

 
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Posted by on August 11, 2014 in faith

 

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riding roller coasters with God

“Let go, let God.”

“God will provide.”

“God will do for you what you cannot do for yourself.”

“God will not give you more (temptation) than you can handle.”

“It’s a dog eat dog world.”

“Try, try again.”

“Take care of number one.”

I have the strongest grip strength in the world. I have spent 4 decades holding on to whatever my dream was at the moment with the tenacity of a pitbull or Gila monster. I thought that was the measure of a man. Did he persevere? Did he succeed? Did he get what he wanted? In my magnificent magnifying mind, I deserved the best. I had a champagne appetite and a beer budget. When I felt like I had failed, and when I felt I had succeeded, I celebrated. I was fighting my way to the top of the ladder. Isnt that what a man was supposed to do?

Its a long fall when you stand on the shoulders of giants. The ladder was tenuous. It wasn’t made of real material. It was a figment. It demanded energy to keep the illusion alive. It demanded to be believed. I came to question the ladder. I was undergoing a complete psychic change, and looked at my feet on the semi transparent ladder rung. I stared at my hands grabbing on to an American dream that I didn’t believe in. I searched for meaning in my existence. I wanted to share the journey with my loved one, but I couldn’t explain it and she couldn’t understand it. The ladder vanished. I fell. Like the giant in Jack in the Beanstalk, I fell. Like the imagination of the guy in Vertigo, I fell. Like Lucifer from Grace, I fell. Unlike Silly Putty, I didn’t bounce.

In some of the movies, the hero grabs a branch as they fall through trees. In the Simpson movie, Bart hooks a branch with a slingshot. James Bond had “Q” to provide a gadget for just such an occasion. I just fell. I tried to grab branches, but ricocheted off of them like a pinball. I tried the slingshot, hoping to regain my former false glory, it was a cartoon and not real. My “Q” had left the job after 20 years of mediocre effort.

When I hit, and didn’t bounce, I had a some time to consider myself and my affairs. I had nothing left and nothing to do, so it seemed like a good time to take an inventory. A friend of mine has said, “I wish you pain and desperation and no better plan.” Well, his wish came true. I would like to pretend that I decided right there and then to let go of my death grip. I would like to tell you that I now wear a robe and sandles and speak the truth on street corners. I cant tell you that. I decided that I would need to rebuild. I put on a happy face and got to work. I tried everything. I applied for a multitude of jobs. I spent money I didn’t have. I clawed my way into any situation that furthered my cause. I tried and tried again. It is what a man does, right?

In truth, things got a little better. I was more accepting of where I was and when things didn’t go in my favor. I let go of some control because I saw that I didn’t have any. I got better at the serenity prayer and the acceptance of things as they were. I hit a crossroads. I had a choice. Accept a surrender and let God rebuild my house, or try and win and do it myself. I surrendered. I cried and cried again. I spoke to God and said that He could have me. I relinquished my illusion of control. Within 2 weeks, I had a new potential career, a new job, and was getting ready to move to a new state. A few weeks later, I had an opportunity to get my medical license in Idaho and the job I had applied for 18 months prior was still available. It has been like riding a roller coaster without a track. I am terrified and try to grab hold on the safety straps over and over again. I close my eyes, I grit my teeth. I forget to laugh and to enjoy the ride. I forget to look around at the top of the hills and take in the view. I forget to look around at the bottom of the bumps and marvel at where I have been and where I am going.

“God, grant me the eyes to see.”

 
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Posted by on July 3, 2014 in divorce, faith, journey

 

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