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color the marsh mellow

I want, I need, Im doing the work, Im baby stepping.

I want a participation trophy. I want an honorable mention, I want a pat on the back, an “atta boy”. trophy

You see, I have been tying my own shoes for nearly 45 years. I have even taught other people this magnificent talent. I have passed on the dexterity and desire to have a bow on the shoes. I would like some admiration for this. And then there is this learning to walk thing. I remember clapping and cheering when each of my daughters learned to walk. With my youngest daughter, she has some motor delay and I teared up when she walked with her braces in place. They are teenagers now and it has been years since I cheered about them walking. I cannot remember once being told that I was doing a good job strolling.

And what is the deal with underwear? When I kept my big boy underwear dry for a full day, there was much rejoicing. I am sure that I have kept them dry for many days and not a single celebration has commenced. When I learned to use the potty, my mom would give me little colored marsh mellows if I pooped on the potty. I cant even find colored marsh mellows anymore. potty

I spent a lifetime wanting to hear the applause. I needed to hear I was ok, admirable, appreciated, attractive. I longed for the external feedback. Who I was and my worth were completely based on the marsh mellows that I would be rewarded with. If I couldn’t find them or see them in my hand, I deflated.

I lived this way through a marriage, through addiction, through childhood and into adulthood. There came a moment in time that the Universe echoed my mom when I protested not getting my sugary treat at age 12, “Sometimes pooping is its own reward.” I had to learn that I wasnt passing on knowledge or skills or talents to get applause, but because it was its own reward. I had related to someone, I had shared myself. I had to learn not lying around in the muck and waste of difficulties of the past allowed me to flourish, to grow. I had to see that cheering on those I loved was much more rewarding then begging for reinforcement. I had to learn that the gift was to feel the reward and to cherish the insides. I had to live into self and let the God within me to shine out. marsh

I still miss colored marshmellows

 
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Posted by on March 2, 2017 in life, Uncategorized

 

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Wonder Wheel

It starts like any other day. The first alarm goes off and I swipe my phone to silence it. I am not sure why I have this alarm set anymore. I started with it thinking I could get up early and go to the gym on the way to work. It sounded like a great idea when the light started at 430 am. I am in North Idaho and, in the summer, the days are very long.  It has become painfully obvious, it is not like that in the winter. However, the alarm taunts me. I must enjoy the teasing because I don’t cancel it. However, there is something very rewarding about getting to go back to sleep and feeling like you stole an hour. I struggle out of bed. I have fleece sheets and this miracle blanket from Bed, Bath and Beyond. It is fantastic, but glues me to the bed every morning. There is a cost: benefit ratio I have to accept every time I go to bed. I have chosen wisely. Once out of the vortex of comfort, I spin the mood wheel. My mood wheel is somewhat like the wheel of fortune wheel. It clicks away with various moods and attitudes on it. The mood spins and I imagine the crowd going crazy. I stand there and think about trying to accept Drew Carey as a substitute for Bob Barker and how unlikely a succession that was.  wheel

Drew then says, ” ok you have landed on 25% sour. Do you want to stay with that or spin again?  If you go over a dollar, you will feel totally overwhelmed all day long, an emotional basket case.  I feel a need to remind you of last Tuesday.” I am eager to not feel sour today, even 30% sour. I am looking for an attitude adjustment, a mood lift. I spin again. The crowd groans as they were rooting for a sour day. “Misery loves company, ” Drew murmurs. anguish

The wheel clicks ferociously and slows to a crawl. It is maddening to hear. The anticipation is thrilling and torturous. The crowd noise swells and dims as various emotions and attitudes flit by. It reaches a fever pitch as vengeful crests the top of the wheel. I gulp, 100% vengeful and 30% sour, I will be pissed and overwhelmed. I begin to worry as worry appears on the wheel. It is a worn out square, grooved from the frequency of the wheel stopping there. I let out an exasperated sigh as I thought I had finished with worry. Close behind worry was resentful. The crushing reality that my sour mood could lead to resentment and consume me into vengence and disquieted plagued my thoughts. I could feel the emotions as they clicked by. They choked me and overwhelm me. Each one I lamented and reflected. It was as if each square illuminated on my soul. It clawed at me. The wheel slowed to a stop. I couldn’t bring myself to look up. I feared the results. I shuddered to think I was doomed to boring and glum at best, and engulfed in anger at its worst. Drew said I should see this. He stammered. I looked up. Slowly. I read the square and read it again. I blinked away the tears. My breath quickened as my heart pounded.

The square said, “Free to choose.” And the wheel vanished. free

 

 
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Posted by on January 23, 2017 in journey, life, Uncategorized

 

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rock on, serenity

He sat and stared at the light reflecting off the polished stone. The stone had the word serenity etched into it. He pondered the meaning and the significance of the word as the light danced off the stone. He became absorbed in the dance. The light did a tango as his mind did a retrogressive groove. He recalled past loves and hates, success and disappointments. It wasn’t morbid, but more as an outsider. He felt like Scrooge hanging with Christmas Past. He could watch. He could gain understanding. He could grieve or rejoice. But he couldn’t change it. He couldn’t tell the boy to not smoke the cigarettes, steal the money, or lie. He couldn’t stop the hurt of shame or rejection. He could stop the phone call. He couldn’t stop the escape and fear. He couldn’t explain the cost of choices he would make. He couldn’t feel the victories or the celebrations either. He was inert in his past, ineffectual and a bystander. The remorse wasn’t what had taken place, but that he couldn’t affect it.

The word, “Serenity” bent the light as it slid across the rock. He sat and mused as it seemed to slide off the edge as he rotated the rock. He felt the darkness the rock must feel. He imagines the coldness in the dark as the future began to appear as if real and certain. He knew it was a lie, but he was curious. In the dark and foggy picture, a pit appeared. In it were lanky and malformed creatures, reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings character. There were dozens, making horrendous noises. All clamoring for attention, begging to be chosen. He knew that anyone of the creatures could be his future. He could chose anyone of them. He felt sick that this was the pit of his choice. Not one seemed to be pleasing or satisfactory. He lamented the past anew. His choices had led to the despair he saw before him. The Future was silent and wouldn’t answer the questions he had. The rock slid from his fingers and clattered to the table. The light returned, but to the other side of the rock. The future again appeared. The rock is concave and the light is focused at the base. The future was bright and the glare obscured the faces. The noises were soft and pleasing. The warmth undeniable. He felt the welcoming smiles. He felt the soothing beckoning. He looked at the rock. There was a tiny word on the concave surface. He could almost make it out. “Calamity”.

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2017 in journey, life, Uncategorized

 

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Counting with Mom

“Count your blessings, ” mom said. And then Id get the look when I started counting like the Count on Sesame Street. Good times.count

How come we only say this when stuff sucks? After I won the Pulitzer and the World Piece champion of all time trophies on the same day, not a single reporter said, “Count your blessings, Mister.” Its like this conspiracy to remind you that you are whining. I don’t need the reminder. I know I am whining. I want what I cant have, and I want it now. And as long as you are hurrying on my order, I would like more. “More of what?” you may ask. More of everything. The next time someone tells me to count my blessings and I begin to count like the Count, I want that stuff to go on a long time. Bwah ha ha….

I recently decided I needed to do a gratitude list. I sat down and began to write down my blessings. I had 3 and got distracted for about a week. I spent time on the delayed, but completed list. Many of my blessings were tagged with hurts or losses. I was blessed with marriage, but am since divorced. I have had wonderful friends. I have lost many, some to death, some to attrition, most to time. Each blessing had a bedevilment. As I read the list, the beauty grew from the pain.

pain

I think that the directive to count my blessings from my mom wasnt some condemnation of my tribulations. She wasnt telling me to pull myself up from the bootstraps or have some stiff upper lip. She was saying that I ought remember the beauty that can come from pain. She was letting me know that even when things were hard, God is there with me. She was letting me see that all the things I cherish came from the growth it took to get there.

Thanks, Mom.

 

 
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Posted by on January 13, 2017 in journey, life, Uncategorized

 

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minutes

There are 525,600 minutes in a year.

The average life span is still right around 70 years.

That’s 36, 792,000 minutes in a lifetime.

clock

I have heard several times in the last 4 days that 2017 has gotten off to a bad start. It is generally a minute or two that hurt and injured or scared the person. The incident last briefly. The reaction echoes in their heart and head.

There is a song about how do we count the year, “Seasons of love”. It postulates that we can count in minutes, or experiences. Those experiences can be positive or negative. We can count in tears or laughter. We can count in blessings or curses.

The reality is that I count in curses much more often then blessings. I’m not an Eeyore person and tend to think of myself as a realist and not a pessimist. It was just recently that I was reviewing my life and decision. I had focused on each of my negative outcomes. I lamented and grieved over the loss and pain I had endured. I am not belittling it or making lite of it, it was horrendous. However, I wasnt looking at the simple blessings.

I have had an opportunity to learn to trust myself to respond more often then I react. The times I havent blasted someone for not being or doing like I want have been less then a minute long. Brief encounters that I pause and consider first. The ripples have allowed me to know that I can be expected to respond appropriately. That echoes in my head.

I have learned that I can love. I can feel loved and connect with another human being. I can give of myself, and receive from another. I journey with a partner, rather than pathological entanglement. The brief moment that I say the words, “I love you,” takes seconds. The heart echoes for a lifetime.

I learned that I can admit I dont know. I can also discern truth and facts. It takes minutes at most, but I can draw conclusions. I can even conclude that I need help understanding. The ability to learn and consider rebounds in my head.

I can ache, hurt, long, and cry. In those minutes of turmoil and pain, I feel it is a lifetime. It feels like forever. The clock ticks only to mock my pain. But I can feel. I am no longer cut off from emotions. In that moment of pain, I also know I can heal. My heart grows.

heart

 
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Posted by on January 5, 2017 in journey, life, Uncategorized

 

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LET GO

“Dating is like crossing the monkey bars, don’t let go of one until you have grasp on another.” I was told this by another prepubescent boy in 5th grade. It made sense to me. I had just been dumped by Sharla and was feeling crushed. We had “gone out” for almost 3 days, a record in my short dating career. We were meant to be forever, or so said the scrawlings on my notebook. And when I tallied the letters in our names as they added up to the letters in True Love, it was supposed to be inevitable we would be together. Now three days later, I was picking up the broken pieces of my heart.

I was never all that good at dating. I was a bit chubby, had low self esteem, and didn’t like all the things the jocks (who seemed to have all the girls attention) liked. I repeated the “Sharla cycle” frequently through my adolescence. I rarely, if ever, dumped someone, I was always the dumpie. That isn’t meant to be a pity thing, looking back, I would have dumped me too. I was needy and fake. I tried to be whatever the girl seemed to want. I was in love instantly. However, I was so worried about being dumped, I couldn’t talk to them. It is tough to “be going out” and never say hello. I had a chance in 6th grade. In a moment of incredible courage, I asked Kristi to the dance. She was new at the school and was (and still is) one of the most beautiful people I knew. We got to the dance and the macho guys met her and I felt about 2 inches tall. I slunk away.

I continued this trend into college. I started to date and hold back my feelings, or decided beer seemed to be the ticket. It seemed to work. I fell in love still. I got hurt. But I just ignored the feeling or drank them away. I didn’t seem to be able to perfect the aloof. I couldn’t be totally detached. I would want to be, even pretend to be, but it still seemed to result in pain. I used to wish I could just be the Fonz, and drift from woman to woman. But I would get over attached and needy. I believed the lie of someone completing me or needing someone else. So, I kept loosing more of myself and feeling more and more empty and panicky with lost loves. My 5th grade playground profit echoed in my head. I started to serial date. It was rare that I was without someone. I never allowed for healing. I never allowed for growth. I didn’t break up with dates, I just sabotaged the relationship or became less attentive until they broke up with me. It allowed me to not have to be honest and to play the victim role and feel sorry for myself. It was the beginning of my self victimization role play.

In medical school, I met a wonderful woman. I still faked who I was and tried to be what she wanted. I changed my religion, I didn’t have sex with her, I drank less, and changed my friends. I even stopped being so judgmental, well I stopped talking about it out loud. I would marry her. A few days before I proposed, I tried to flirt with my resident. I told myself that if she wanted to date me then it was God telling me this wasn’t the right move for me. She didn’t and so I asked to be married. I was still in the mode of not letting go of the cold steel bar and kept flirting with other women. I even asked one to a movie. I was still wearing my wedding ring when we went out. She figured it out and ended the date early. I had a one night stand in our first year of marriage. I told my wife about it, half thinking and hoping she would ask for a divorce. She didn’t and we did counseling once or twice. I recommitted to the relationship and flirted continuously with other women, explaining that I was just outgoing and nice. I see now it was “coat checking” the next Monkey Bar, just in case. I am disappointed that was me at the time. I have forgiven myself for the craving for intimacy. I wanted it, feared it, and didn’t know how to do it or get it.

As the need resurfaced when I stopped hiding behind alcohol, I was more frustrated at not knowing how to do it. I felt desperate and more lonely than I had ever felt before. I felt lonely and isolated in my marriage even when we were right next to each other. I tried to fix it. I remember the day that my ex wife told me that she didn’t feel intimate to me anymore. We had just returned from a marriage retreat weekend. In hindsight, I panicked like I had done as a 5th grader. I went into full “Sharla mode”. She repeated it a few years later and I reacted by trying to find another monkey bar. It was weak and panicky. I know it was dishonest and creepy. I wish I could take it back, but I cant. All I can do is tell that scared, lonely boy, “Thank You for doing the best you could do.” I tell mid-schooler, “You are good enough and thank you for doing the best you could do.” I tell me as a high schooler and a college student, “Thank you for doing the best you could do with the tools and knowledge you had.” I tell myself that I did the best I could do, I made mistakes and caused pain. But I have addressed myself honestly and compassionately. I accept me. I am intimate with myself. I love me right where I am, but too much to leave me here.

I will learn. I will grow. I will accept. I will communicate I will love. I will be accepted.  I will be loved.

 
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Posted by on April 1, 2015 in divorce, journey, life

 

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