appreciation, change, clarity and direction, grieving, healing, hope, living and growing, perspective, spiritual growth, struggles

2020 Hindsight

This past year caused a fundamental shift inside of me. A blanket of heaviness came to rest upon me and I could not get out from under it. Good things happened but I could only acknowledge them on a surface level.

For much of my adult life, I’ve been a hopeful person. So hopeful sometimes that I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna. When I became a Christian, that hopeful, optimistic view fused with my faith. It became a gift from God. But somehow, over this past year, that hopefulness, the optimistic person in me who thinks it will all turn out ok in the end, left. I didn’t lose my faith. I could acknowledge that God was still in control and that he wanted only good for me. But the spark that drove my faith could not be accessed.

The pandemic and all the things it changed, all the things that had to be given up and the rules that were imposed, I accepted. Some of them broke my heart, but I accepted them. I knew logically, that good things were also happening. That life, even during a pandemic, even with restrictions, could not be contained. That both good and bad things would continue to happen. But when I would try to acknowledge the good, it was truncated, always seen and felt under that blanket of heaviness.

Even on New Year’s Eve, when those on Facebook were posting their hopes that 2021 would be better, I could not join them in that hope. Of course, I did want it to be better but the heaviness inside of me was in charge. There was no room for hope to work it’s magic. It didn’t dare.

I went to bed expecting to sleep through the change of the New Year. Something I would have never done in the past. Yet I couldn’t sleep. I watched the ball drop, while on my phone, in bed. And after it dropped, I cried. It was an odd kind of crying, almost without tears. The thought that there were no tears left, did not escape my thinking. My heart ached from a loss I couldn’t verbalize.

The harsh realist in me has been telling me all along that I have no right to be sad. No one I loved has died from the virus. Yes we’ve had to cancel things and yes we’ve been separated from loved ones, and yes life as we know it has drastically changed, but it’s all for the greater good.

In hindsight, it was really a critic, posing as a realist, that fed the heaviness. The enemy coming in with just enough truth to make me feel compelled to buy it. And the heaviness settled in on top of me and I could not get out from under it.

Of course, the critic was not alone. He had help. Fear, anxiety and the threat of greater loss….the threat of this 2020 life being the new normal, ripped me apart and put me back together again in a way that left me unable to recognize myself.

Over the last few weeks in December, I had reached a breaking point. I was so weary of this new person I had become. I was so tired of trying to be the old me while this blanket weighed on me. My prayer life, like everything else in this year, had been affected. Over the past few weeks, my prayers, when I could get them out were simple prayers, of “help me, Lord.”

This morning, January 2, 2021, I woke up and thought I would pray before I got out of bed. That is not unusual for me but the prayers that came out of my mouth were. “Thank you, Lord! Thank you for the million ways you love me! Thank you for the thousands of opportunities you give me to love you back!”

That prayer just filled my head. I wasn’t thanking the Lord as I had been – out of the knowledge that he deserved it. This was spontaneous as if it came from somewhere else. And there was a song to it, a lightness, that I have not felt since before the pandemic began.

And I began to wonder, had my hope been restored? And the funny thing is, even asking myself that question confirmed for me that it had. I know we are not out of the woods yet. But I am hopeful that I can now live better in the midst of this.

Hope is a powerful agent against fear and anxiety and loss, both real and imagined. Hope gives me words. It gives me vision that allows me to see beyond the darkness.

I’m not so hopeful that I think everything will be unicorns and rainbows from now on. But I am seeing and feeling things differently~ the weight of that heavy blanket is not noticeable. Perhaps it’s still there and will rear it’s ugly head again. I have no doubt it will try. But suddenly I can see the good that’s happened in the past year and enjoy it. I can honestly appreciate it without the heaviness sucking the life out of it.

My heart welcomes back hope and plans to do all it can to not only help it grow back to what it was, but to help it grow stronger, deeper and more resilient than it was before.

They say hindsight is 2020. I’m grateful that hope has come in and let me look back at the year through a lens that sees both the good and bad for what they truly were.

Hope and I will be going into 2021 together. 2020 took it away but 2021 restored it. A Happy New Year, indeed.

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addictions, decluttering, diet, healing, hope, inertia, letting go, living and growing, mourning, moving on, new life, peace, perspective, struggles, Uncategorized, will power

De-cluttering – Letting Go of the Inertia

Why does inertia have so much influence over our lives?   What is it that can make us want to do something for a long, long time and yet we just don’t?   I blame inertia but I can’t seem to put my finger on what causes the inertia.   Sometimes it’s as simple as a bad night’s sleep.   The next day is spent just trying to stay awake.   But other times, when lack of sleep isn’t to blame, why don’t I do the things I say and think that I want to do?

Some of the things are simple….pick up that piece of trash on the floor….umm, no, thanks…I will instead choose to walk by it 5, 10 or perhaps 25 times before I finally decide to take the half of second it needs for me to deal with it.  But as soon as I take care of it, I feel better.  Funny that such a simple thing can bring relief yet I don’t choose to simply pick it up, the first time I see it.  What gives??

Then there’s the bigger things….projects, jobs, dreams….I get where some of that inertia comes from.   These things require time and effort.   They may require skills I don’t yet have, connections with people I don’t yet know.   Maybe I don’t want to start one more thing that I might not finish.   Maybe I’m afraid I’ll fail.  Maybe deep down I don’t really want to do it or maybe I think it’s not worthy of my time.

I’m trying to de-clutter my life these days.   Honestly, I started the process 16 years ago but with five small kids at the time, my attention was often diverted elsewhere.   And as kids grow, de-cluttering means getting rid of the past.   That’s hard.  For a long time I found it impossible to let stuff go.

So over the last year I started looking at de-cluttering in a different way.   It wasn’t just about getting rid of stuff….although I have doggedly been doing that.  I started in January with de-cluttering addictions.   First to sugar, and most recently caffeine.   Controlling the will and ultimately changing what the will wants is a long slow process.  It takes a lifetime.  But I’ve learned it is possible.

Then I challenged my lifelong distaste (bordering on hatred actually) of exercise.  I started exercising most days, last summer.   But then the cool weather kicked in and I quit making the effort.   I started again this past summer and learned the difference between doing something because you should and doing something because you want to.   The longer I did it the more benefit I started to see and slowly, very slowly, I began to want to do it because it makes me feel better.

With each victory over my old stubborn will of downright refusal, I felt lighter….slightly less cluttered.   But inertia is still the enemy.   It whispers how busy i am – there can’t be time to exercise….how deprived I am…so many foods you can’t eat!   It tells me other things matter more.  Some days I listen to those whispers.   Most days now, I listen a lot less.

All this makes me wonder….has inertia ever been a problem for you?   Do certain circumstances provoke it in you?   How do you move beyond it?  I’d love to know.

 

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comfort, death, dying, eternal life, families, home, hope, living and growing, military, mourning, moving on, music, peace

Major Tom

Shortly before my dad died, a song came on the radio.    I hadn’t heard it in many years.  It immediately struck me that this song would become connected to my fathers death.

https://youtu.be/VNYFsOAmuFc  Major Tom – Coming Home by Peter Schilling.

Having served in the Air Force, my father retired from the military as a Major.  Even 40+ years after his retirement he was still introducing himself as Major Tom.    I remember his pleasure when this song came out in 1983.

Several days passed after my hearing it on the radio.   My siblings and I had started sleeping over my parents house in anticipation of my father dying.   We did not want to leave him and my mother to walk through that valley alone.

Four, three, two, one – Earth below us
Drifting, falling – Floating weightless
Calling, calling home……..

The night before my dad died, my brother and I were sleeping over my parent’s house.   I had woken up around 3pm to see if my father needed his meds.   He was alive but quiet, I decided to leave him alone.   I went back to sleep.   Shortly after 5 am, I was startled awake.  A sense of urgency caused me to jump up and rush into the room where my father was.   I slipped beside his bed and listened.   My brother had been in a recliner beside my dads bed.   He rested his hand on my fathers chest and we both looked for signs of life.    We quietly called his name.    For the first time in our lives, there was no response.

Back at ground control -There is a problem
“Go to rockets full” – Not responding
“Hello, Major Tom – Are you receiving?
Turn the thrusters on – We’re standing by”
There’s no reply……..

My brother assumed the awful role of going to tell my mother.   While he was waking and then telling her, I had a chance to one last time tell my father thank you.   To tell him, he had been a good dad.   I told him I loved him and I was going to miss him.   As my mother entered the room, I left to call my other brothers and sister.   And so began the truly, most exhausting day of my life.

Earth below us – Drifting, falling
Floating weightless – Coming home….

By mid afternoon, I arrived home.   The mortician had come and taken my dads body, calls had been made, events set in motion.    The trip to the florist has been forever stamped in my mind.   As my sister and I sat there trying to pick out flowers that would somehow express the magnitude of our love for this man, I was overwhelmed with exhaustion.   Every movement and thought was an exercise of sheer will power.  My physical body and my emotions were tapped of all strength.  When I finally arrived home I laid down on my bed, too tired to even cry.

As I laid there, I sent a friend a text telling her what had happened.   Her texted response, “Oh, Beth, I’m so sorry!” was spoken into my heart as if she had said it out loud to me. The sincerity of those words had an effect on me that I still can not describe.   My broken heart responded with a relieving flood of tears.

Desperate for something to soothe the pain, the song I had heard a few days before came to mind.  I found it on youtube and within minutes was listening, and sobbing and unknowingly starting down the path to healing.

The words continued to comfort me in the days and weeks following my fathers death.   My father was like that astronaut in the song, heading into the unknown.   My Dad understood that dying would be his last mission.  He knew that he was heading into uncharted territory.   A countdown had begun.   We all knew it as we gathered around him in his last days of life.   In his last week of life, He repeatedly asked about my mother, did we know where the paperwork was?    We reminded him, he had done a good job, that he had made sure her needs would be met.   And we were here.   We would take over.   He could rest.

Far beneath the ship – The world is mourning

They don’t realize – He’s alive
No one understands – But Major Tom sees

“Now the light commands – This is my home – I’m coming home”

These lines in particular give me peace.   He is no longer here because he’s gone home.   My mind wants to war with that idea.   We are his home, it cries!   But that is not the truth.   We were part of a place he called home for 88 years but his true home, where he will spend eternity, is not here.    And I am reminded that he is very much alive.   His soul, the truest part of him, has not died.   He has gone ahead.   Not with a goodbye.   For those of us who believe, his death comes with a simple thought – ‘I’ll see you later….at home.’

 

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Uncategorized

Dad and Me

I had a revelation of sorts last week.

It happened while I was driving in my car. My brother made some cd’s right after my dad died. A collection of songs that my dad loved and ones that reminded us of him. Over a year later I’m still listening to them. But then I also have other songs I listen to. Songs that reflect my processing of his aging, dying and death.

So, there I was driving, my music was playing and I was thinking of my dad and I realized something had shifted in my thinking.

Before he died, I worried about how I would survive without him.

After he died, I discovered survival is not only possible, it’s the only viable option.

But I missed him. The loss of his physical presence was overwhelming. Some days it would be crushing and on other days it was and is, merely a dull ache.

Until last week. When I realized that through his death, I gained something I didn’t anticipate. When he was alive he was often on my mind. His influence was steady in my life. But there were moments, and stretches of time where I went about my life not thinking, consciously, too much about him.

Until he died.

As I passed the one year mark, I realized he is with me now in a way he wasn’t when he was alive. I feel him with me. Not in some sort of ghostly way. But somehow I feel like he has become a part of me, a part of my skin and my bones, my heart and my mind.

And I realize, that’s a gain.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’d take him back, in his old physical form in a flash. Without hesitation, I’d give up this new feeling for a more tangible one I can wrap my arms around.

But that’s not an option. The realization of what I’ve gained, despite the loss, is a gift. It’s one I think I don’t fully appreciate yet because it’s new. I was use to my old relationship with my dad. It was comfortable and safe and known.

This new relationship is more really, a relationship with myself. All that he has instilled in me, now seeks to be given life. He is not here to protect me, to save the day, to provide for me. I must do it without him. But he didn’t leave me empty handed. He left both my hands and my heart full.

I feel compelled to act where he once would have. I am still completely me, but now, I am also more.
And since the only choice I have in this matter, is how I respond to this gift, I choose to embrace it.

Even if the return of the embrace is only felt in my heart.

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