Super Powers

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My grandson and I went to see The Incredibles 2 this weekend and  ever since I’ve been thinking a lot about super powers! Stopping a runaway train or steering an out of control cruise ship to keep it from crashing into a port city, is child’s play compared to what so many of us have to handle every day.

Our imagination runs away with us. Our to-do list seems out of control. Pain, grief and confusion may overwhelm us to the point that getting out of bed in the morning can be considered an act of heroism. When we don’t think life is fair or easy, when we choose to search for meaning in hard circumstances and let them open rather than harden our hearts, we are using our own super powers.

It takes special super powers to be kind to ourselves when we make a mistake, to be kinder to ourselves when we make a bigger mistake and to be hugely kind to ourselves when we make one of those hugely, ugly and embarrassing mistakes.

It takes super powers to trust that we will recover and learn from them that maybe they aren’t mistakes at all.

Kindness. Trust. Choice. These are just three of the many simple words that have the power to change our lives and with their ripple effects. They have the power to impact the lives of the people around us.

Interestingly, these powers only work when we are not wearing a special outfit our hiding behind a mask. They only work when we show up as ourselves. And, on the days we aren’t able to access these powers (and we all have those days), we must simply do the best we can.

Rush Hour and Finding the Right Roads

Monday evening during rush hour I was running late for an event across town. When I reached the first stoplight I had a choice. Do I turn left and take the side streets or go straight onto the highway? I didn’t see any backups on the highway, so straight it was. I was cruising along for about five minutes thinking what a smart decision I had made. Of course, you can guess what happened next. The traffic suddenly slowed to a crawl. Ugh!

I was as patient as I could be for the 15 minutes it took go four miles and that was it. I took the next exit and got onto a side street where traffic was actually moving. I was feeling pretty smug until a very large, very slow semi-truck turned onto the street right in front of me.

“Really?! Really?!” I shouted. But then I couldn’t help myself; I started laughing.

The Universe must be trying to tell me something.

On Friday morning I had to drive across town again and this time I would be dealing with the morning rush hour. Before I left home I had already decided, wisely, I thought, to take the side streets. It seems like a good idea until I made a wrong turn and then took a detour I didn’t need to take. Halfway to my destination I was waiting at a stop light and looked up at the highway overpass to see the traffic was flowing just fine.

“Really?! Really?!” This time I wasn’t laughing.

What was the Universe trying to tell me?

Maybe it was simply that no matter how carefully we chose the roads we take in our lives, there will always be obstacles and life should not be measured by how fast or how efficiently we move through it.

On my way home Friday, I chose an unexpected street and turned onto Mississippi River Boulevard. There were so many trees lining the road, you might never have known there was a river flowing far below. I followed the unseen river to Minnehaha Creek where I turned to follow the creek as it graciously curved through neighborhoods. The entire drive was lovely and calming and lifted my spirits.

Maybe the choices I make shouldn’t be about how quickly I get somewhere but about how the journey makes me feel. I want more roads like this in my life and I believe they are waiting for me and for each of us. All we have to do is decide how we want to travel.

The Artist in You

Image copyright: 123rf/Natallia Khlapushyna

Monday night I was invited to an event that showcased eight artists, each sharing not only the work they created, but why they created it. I was truly inspired and only teared up twice!

Though each person’s story was unique, they all explained that their art grew from their life experiences and family histories. They wanted their art to have value and connect people to their own hearts and to each other. They wanted their art to make people wonder and question and explore what it means to be human.

Even though you and I may not paint, dance, sing or write plays, we are still artists. We are the artists of our own lives. We do our best to learn from our personal experiences and our family history and create a life that has value. It is an art to be connected to our heart and to others. It is an art to wonder, to question and to explore what it means to be human.

One young woman explained that the way she begins every project is similar to how Indiana Jones crosses a deep chasm towards the end of the movie, The Last Crusade. He is standing on a ledge high above a miles-deep chasm and needs to reach the other side of this divide. But there’s no bridge. Crossing seems impossible until he steps out in faith and when he does, the bridge appears.

As the artists of our own lives, we will often be challenged to step forward in faith, trusting there is a path that will support us and lead us to what we are searching for. Sometimes the path is very clear. Sometimes we only sense it is there. It offers support when we stumble, reassurance when we doubt and comfort when we feel lost, guiding us always on our unique and beautiful journey in this world.

Forgiveness & Fishing

Image copyright: 123rf/Ron Zmiri 

“If I forgive my ex, it’s like I’m letting him off the hook.”

How many us have felt this way, even though we know that forgiveness is in our own best interest?

In a culture where everything happens so quickly, there are those who assume that speedy forgiveness is a sign of maturity, inner strength and a reflection of our character….and that really bothers me!

This is not a race. How about allowing ourselves to be human, to rage and struggle, to be confused and scared, and to wander for as long as it takes to sort through our history? Now that takes true character.

I believe there is a difference between wanting to forgive and being ready to forgive. I also believe forgiveness come unbidden when we are committed to healing, which brings me back to the quote about forgiveness meaning we’ve let someone off the hook.

Imagine a woman sitting at the end of a dock with her fishing pole. The fishing line is in the water, and she may feel a fish squirming on the end of the line, though that may only be her imagination. It may have already swum away.

Forgiveness is not about taking a fish (or your ex) off the hook. But, when we are ready, it’s about setting down the pole and going to lunch.

Though there may be times we return to that dock and pick up that pole, we no longer need to hold onto it for very long, for we have felt the freedom that comes from setting it down.

Open the Windows

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First there was the long, bitter winter. Then, there was the promise of spring that turned into one more nasty blizzard. Finally, a spring day came when I could open the windows of my home to let in fresh air and it smelled wonderful.

Open windows may let in dust and pollen, but they also let in the rich smell of blooming lilacs. Open windows may let in traffic noise from a nearby highway, but they also let in the music of birds singing.

After a divorce, it can take tremendous effort and courage to “open up.”  We have weathered so many storms, and often when we thought things were over there was one more painful blizzard howling through our lives (and sometimes there may be more than one).

In choosing to open up our hearts, we can celebrate the experiences that make us bloom and hear the music of our lives.

On Sunday, I was catching up with work in my home office. Laughter was coming through the open window and I looked out to see that my neighbor across the street was sitting in her yard potting plants. Two other women were keeping her company and, I’m assuming, sharing potting words of wisdom. There was another burst of laughter from the group and I knew what I had to do. I immediately closed my computer and walked across the street!

The women told me that because they saw my window was open, that if I hadn’t come outside they going to shout out, “Come join us!”

When you open up the windows of your home, you will be surprised at the wonderful opportunities that appear. And when you open up your heart, you will be able to hear the beauty and joy of life shouting, “Join us!”

Untangling Truth from Fear

On my recent walk around the neighborhood, I came upon two rabbits playing with each other near a large evergreen. At first, they didn’t notice me. Then one stood very still, flicked his ears and took off with his playmate quickly following. Both disappearing into the shadows of the welcoming tree.

In some cultures, rabbits are a reminder to be discerning about what to fear and what not to fear. Continuing on my walk, I acknowledged that I had a very, very long list of fears. If being afraid was an Olympic sport, I would be a champion. And now I didn’t just see one rabbit, I saw two!  

That night I read a quote by David R. Hawkins, “Our fears have been based on falsehood. Displacement of the false by the true is the essence of healing all things visible and invisible.” 

I have been so certain my fears are the truth. I’ve been certain I’m not competent. I’ve been certain I’m a fraud. I’ve been certain I’m not worthy of what the world wants to offer me.

My fear has become entwined with my truth, like two necklaces on a dresser that have become tangled together. The lovely patterns and sparkling gems of my truth have become harder to see – almost invisible.

I know from experience that in order to separate the necklaces, I have to sit calmly and look carefully at where the two separate chains have become twisted together before I can disconnect one from the other. Sometimes I figure it out quickly and other times, not so much. 

When this is done they can each have their own place on my dresser, and I can choose which one I will wear.