Called to Action

Ever in a situation where you feel like you need to do something? I always feel like I need to DO something. FIX something, HEAL someone, HELP someone, give them the rope and the manual on how to climb out of the hole. I want to help, not watch you suffer. I’m a doer not a watcher; I’m involved, not disassociated;  I’m the girl who’s on all the committees because I want to be in the mix and a part of the betterment. I bite off more than I can chew and I think I can create change! I’m a take the reins and give your horse a kick kinda girl… why wait, JUST GO!!!!!

Whoa There!!!! PULL UP!!!  I feel called to action… but I just need to PAUSE. Sit with it. Struggle, discomfort, and frustration are all a part of the recipe for growth. We even talk about it in education when kids are learning new concepts or learning to read-it’s in the struggle time when the “a-hah” moments click. Sure growth comes easily at times, but generally speaking we have to work at whatever it is we want in life. It’s not just going to come to us; I mean-yes the Hiltons and the Kardashians of the world may get hand outs, but they still have to work at maintaining that or at some point it’s all going to be gone. Some people are born with a talent, but it takes practice and nurturing to develop that talent into genius. My dad and I had a recent conversation about marriage and how people say, “marriage is hard work.” My dad says, “it shouldn’t be that way, I already have a job.” I say, “everything you do in life is work”, life takes nurturing and cultivating. It just does. Plants don’t grow without water and sun; muscles atrophy without use and blood supply; a research paper doesn’t just write itself, and love is no different. Sometimes, you have to sit back and welcome discomfort and struggle. You have to celebrate the failures because without all of that you wouldn’t grow and appreciate the wins.

My friend’s daughter was on a team that just kept losing. In the beginning there was hope and optimism in her voice, but as the season progressed doubt and defeat began to edge in. They won their first game last week after a number of losses. When I congratulated her on the win, the smile that washed over her face was that of pure joy and confidence, she beamed from ear to ear. I’m not sure she would’ve been so grateful and appreciative of the win if her team was a winning team and this was just one more win. Struggle, failure, and frustration humble us. See my “Fail Harder” post from a while back. They are lessons that teach us that no matter how hard we try we can’t always be in control, we can’t always win, we can’t always help; it teaches us that this universe is way bigger than we ever imagined and it’s ok to be in an uncomfortable place for a while-because usually, when you’re not forcing something to happen-is when it happens- just like that- life opens up and opportunities abound. Opportunities that we may not have ever imagined because we were so focused on fixing the problem and what wasn’t happening.

I’m a serious “take action addict”- I don’t like the feeling of discomfort and uncertainty- or not having control- but I keep needing to remind myself to take my own advice.

Next time you’re  in a place where you  feel like you’re losing control and life seems to be falling apart, pull up on the reins. Pause-let go of your plan and your need to be in control. Stop and immerse yourself in the discomfort (sometimes it’s really ugly), give yourself a “time out”, don’t offer the oars and the instruction manual too-give it some struggle time, look at who you are and what you really want or are trying to achieve from your actions. Is it control, is it a sense of peace, is it money, are you running away from your problems, is it communication… whatever it is- it can’t be forced or it will fight back fiercely. Change and growth can’t be forced, it requires stretching and flexibility-and sometimes some wait time for everything to align just right. Giving up control is scary-but in reality we are never truly in control of anything else but our own actions and reactions. So grab those reins and pull up a little-let yourself be present in the moment, sometimes no action is the perfect reaction-you might just be surprised at what gifts the universe brings you.

Gratitude in Life

As Father’s day approaches, I have been thinking about my own father and the memories we share. I’m lucky to still have my father in my life and to have the opportunity to glean his wisdom. We often get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of life that we forget what is truly important-cultivating relationships with those who have been our biggest supporters. It’s important to cherish the relationships that we do have in life. My grandfather is no longer with us and my father often tells me how grateful he is to have spent time with him during his journey in death. I find myself moved by this and other stories of grief and loss that have entered my life this year.  Loss can offer us incredible lessons of gratitude; it can also remind us that life is too short not to nurture and cherish relationships we have with the loved ones in our present life.

Call it what you want, “grief, heartache, loss”, the feeling is uncomfortable and dark. We often try to escape it by occupying our minds or our bodies with something else. Grief  needs to be felt in order for our hearts to heal; it’s inescapable. It has happened to all of us, a powerful memory conjured from a seemingly innocuous experience at the grocery store or while driving down the road, leaving us feeling vulnerable and raw. We may experience it as a simple sigh or a few shed tears, but then there are the moments that seem to take our breath away; we find ourselves gasping for air, fighting the natural forward movement of life, wishing so hard, “I’d give anything for just one more moment”. In that very same occurrence we wish for the pain to subside, wondering if we will always feel such agony. We know though, we can never get those moments back; they are memories to be stored in our souls as a part of who we are. We know that we will move forward and the pain will ease, but at the time it just feels so heavy.

Dean Koontz put it so eloquently in The Odd Hours

Grief can destroy you –or focus you. You can decide a relationship was all for nothing if it had to end in death, and you alone. OR you can realize that every moment of it had more meaning than you dared to recognize at the time, so much meaning it scared you, so you just lived, just took for granted the love and laughter of each day, and didn’t allow yourself to consider the sacredness of it. But when it’s over and you’re alone, you begin to see that it wasn’t just a movie and a dinner together, not just watching sunsets together, not just scrubbing a floor or washing dishes together or worrying over a high electric bill. It was everything, it was the why of life, every event and precious moment of it. The answer to the mystery of existence is the love you shared sometimes so imperfectly, and when the loss wakes you to the deeper beauty of it, to the sanctity of it, you can’t get off your knees for a long time, you’re driven to your knees not by the weight of the loss but by gratitude for what preceded the loss. And the ache is always there, but one day not the emptiness, because to nurture the emptiness, to take solace in it, is to disrespect the gift of life.”

Four people, dear to my heart, lost an extraordinary man last year.  I wasn’t fortunate enough to meet him, but his presence has surrounded me since I’ve known this very special family during every day life, holiday celebrations, and family vacations. I find it very telling that I, not knowing this man, have felt his family’s pain in such a way that it reaches into the depths of my soul and touches my heart to the very core. Their stories of him emanate love; the feeling of grief over their loss is poignant. They are truly grateful for all of the love, happiness, joy, and support that his presence has added to their lives.

I’m sad to have never met this “animal” man in the flesh, but I’m so grateful that he left his legacy in the souls of the four very special people of whom I speak. He will forever live on within their hearts, minds, and souls. They are who they are because the good parts of him are captured in the essence of their core. I know it has been a painful year; my wish for them is for the  grief they are feeling to ease and may their future be filled with celebration of his life and new experiences.

“What we have once enjoyed we can never lose. All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.”- Helen Keller

 

In honor of Bill “Moose” Madigan and my two grandfathers Donald “Bumpa” Hayden and Michael “Pop Pop” Carlozzi, a man whom I never had the opportunity to meet in the flesh, but whose spirit and memory lives on in my family.

 

 

 

 

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