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.
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.
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.
Image copyright: 123rf/dolgachov
On Saturday I hurt my back with a simple twist as I was standing up. On Sunday, even though my back ached and was very tender, I went for a short, careful walk. It was a beautiful day and as I shuffled around the neighborhood, passing yards planted with fresh spring flowers. I wondered why I was surprised to be in pain.
I knew my posture at the computer was not good. I knew reading in bed caused me to slouch even more than being at the computer. I knew the chair I liked to sit in at the end of the day so the cat could curl up on my lap was a terrible fit for my body.
So, if I knew all these things, why hadn’t I something about them?
I have a feeling I’m not the only one who waits, thinking things really aren’t that bad, that I can handle being uncomfortable, that it’s not a big deal and anyway, I’ve gotten used to it. Of course, I can handle being uncomfortable, but why wouldn’t I change the situation if I could? Why should I get used to it if I don’t have to? Do I think it’s going help me build character?
One sign of character is the willingness to respect and care for myself as well as others. This willingness to respect and care for myself is also a reflection of self-worth, and I was disheartened that after all these years I’m still struggling with this issue.
Walking past another lovely garden, I understood that my self-worth is not yet a perennial and needs to be planted anew every season.
Image copyright: 123rf/dolgachov
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!”