I wanted to share the first journal entry I have in my personal journal for entering 2011. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this year was intense for me but has brought me so many good new things and reminded me of so many other things I have to be thankful for…
“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” -Morrie Schwartz
I read that quote and it took my breath away. I felt like that quote spoke to the person I was a year ago and it was a reminder of how far I have come. 2010 was an monumental year for me. At first glance, it was one of the hardest years I have experienced. I lost so much….big things, tangible things, and things that define some people and it could have broken me but I found out this year too that I am not easily broken. Most notably, I found myself a single parent with two amazing daughters and everything that comes with that responsibility. I won’t forget where I was a year ago, but I won’t return there either. I feel like that person was/is me, but she’s been reinforced with steel. I thought I needed a person to find me and to make me realize my happiness and my purpose… I had no idea a year ago that person was actually me.
God has traditionally not spoken to me in whispers – it’s been more like a 2 x 4 upside my head and this was no different. I’d never been so alone, but I’d also never been so free. There is something monumental about stepping out on my own with great responsibilities on my shoulders that brings clarity, resolve, and focus. It had to start with acceptance.
“Acceptance is not submission; it is acknowledgement of the facts of a situation. Then deciding what you’re going to do about it.” -Kathleen Casey Theisen quote
Acceptance of who I was, what I am made of and the person I had been was a big step. For the first time in my life, I took time to figure out who I really was, what I really wanted, and where I wanted to go. I had clarity in some areas of my life before but nothing like what I have now. The parts I had neglected, the parts that needed to be changed or eradicated I faced completely and made myself acknowledge where I was going off my path and what I needed to do to make it right. I realized what I had been searching for had been inside me all along, just waiting to be discovered and that it’s power and strength was something I could never have imagined. I accepted that things would be hard, that I had contributed to that, but that I didn’t have to punish myself for my mistakes any longer. In fact, I owed it to myself and to my girls to learn from the mistakes, pick up the pieces and build a new and better future for all of us. I also acknowledged that there was a lot in my life to be thankful for. I took the next step with gratitude…
“As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.” John Fitzgerald Kennedy
I want to live my gratitude and not keep it inside where only I can feel it. I want to take time to say ‘thank you’ as often as possible. I want God to feel my gratitude through my prayer and my meditation. I want my children, my family, and friends to know what they mean to me because I tell them, because I look them in the eye, hold them in my arms, and truly rejoice in their presence in my life for I am better because of all of them. As I meet new people on my journey I want to appreciate their place and how that is molding me, helping me grow, and moving me forward. As I wake each morning and go to sleep each night, I want my reflections to be on the joys, the blessings, and not the pains and the sorrows for those too have a place for my thankfulness because they too have made me stronger and more appreciative for the beautiful things. That gratitude couldn’t just be felt inside me it had to be redirected outwards in the form of kindness…
“Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.” – George Sand
Kindness is a virtue and one that I will never sacrifice in myself. I can handle the burn that comes with kindness, but I don’t want to regret withholding the power that kindness brings. I’ve been criticized for this approach. For having an easy smile, a positive outlook, and a forgiving nature but I refuse to change. Being kind, even when it is not returned is a reward has been hard this year but worth every moment and kept me taking the high road. We live in an increasing cynical world but I still contend that being genuinely nice doesn’t have motive and it isn’t weak, stupid, or naive. It’s just being nice… The next steps have to be about the love that exists, the love I create, and the love I am given…
“All, everything that I understand, I understand only because I love.” -Leo Tolstoy
Love is abundant in my life…not romantic love, just the essence of seeing a person so perfectly and loving them even for just a single moment… God has blessed me with more than I could have imagined for myself. I am reminded that in my toughest moments that He has been by my side, urging me forward, holding me up, and energizing my spirit when I felt I had nothing left inside or out. In the darkness, He’s been a constant light like a lighthouse in a storm and I’ve never doubted that everything had a purpose and that I could handle what I was being faced with so long as I had His love. My daughters inspire me in love every day with their joy, their light, their beauty inside and out and it make my heart full but light. They are love made visible and I am better for every smile, every hug, every kiss. They are so many of my reasons for wanting to be better every day. My family who’s abiding love, kindness, and generosity of spirit, time and energy has made it possible for me to make it through this year with far fewer scars than a person should. My friends who bring so much laughter, support, and inspiration to me eve
n with just a call, a visit, a meal, a drink, a talk. They have been my army this year. All this love has sustained me this year and given me the courage and the strength to keep stepping off that ledge into the dark of the unknown and have perfect faith that it is for the best, that I am right where I am meant to be, and that I am worthy of their love. It has made so much of the hard moments seem so insignificant by comparison. All I can hope for is that this journey continues to push me to being better, stronger, wiser and that I never stop learning…
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever.” – Lance Armstrong
Pain is one of the most effective teachers we can hope to have in our lives. Accepting the pain, gratitude for its place in our lives, kindness and love in spite of the pain, and learning from it so that it has meaning is what this year has been about for me. I’ve learned I can stand in the storm and I can not only survive, but I can thrive. I can withstand a storm because I am never alone, I have so much to live for, so much to give, and there is so much beauty in this world. So, as I come into 2011, I find myself with so much hope for what lies before me… dark may be the path, but light is the destination. I never took the easy way and I don’t plan on starting now. So, again, I find myself taking that unknown step off the ledge… it used to scare me, now I welcome the fall… how else will I find out if I can fly?