My Soul Songs: Not Unlike a Rose 

MS is invisible even as it unfolds. 

Fighting MS is completely an inside job. You might never see what’s deep inside my soul as we laugh and go about our days like nothing’s wrong. 

And, like a rose, I will blossom. Like a rose with its thorns, I am beautiful and protected in my frailty. I might not have thorns but I sure do have plenty of fight. And I require plenty of care. 

Consider yourself warned. And appreciated. 

My Boy

I would give you everything.

For you, I would do anything.

I have lived for your every potentiality.

I have vowed to be available to you for all time and eternity. 

Even though you no longer need me, I need you to love me. 

And I’m so thankful that you do. 

You will always be my boy. 

The Queen of Making Due

My brain has always always defaulted to the “glad game,” not just gratitude but looking for any little spark of good. This is a gift and a curse, as you can imagine. I am blessed to rarely feel defeated. I always find something to hold on to and some way to make the best of my situation. I am also cursed to find myself comfortable making due, making the most of a bad situation.

The faucet is broken? Well, don’t we have other faucets in our home? It’s fine. I don’t need to worry about that now. Besides we’re lucky to even have running water. A lot of people don’t.

My hamstring is torn? Well, I can still walk so it can’t be that bad. I’ll just keep going as best as I can… until I can’t. I mean, I’m so fortunate it’s just a tear; I don’t want to be a baby about it just sit around and get sad about it, for heaven’s sake.

My glasses are obviously the wrong prescription and are giving me a headache? Well, it’s better than not having glasses at all, and, maybe I’ll get used to them; after all, my left is isn’t even that bad. And if I sort of tip my head just right I think I can make it work. I’ll just be really careful driving for a while.

Oh? I have MS? Well, at least I have health insurance and can afford my medication. And it’s not like everyone doesn’t have their own problems. At least it’s me and not someone who could never be tough enough for this challenge!

And these are just some mild examples. I won’t get into all the truly horrible things I’ve put up with, allowed, accepted as just part of life. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one who does this sort of bright-side justification. I think a lot of women are prone to this, in fact. I just happen to have made it a way of life.

Most people would be surprised about this because I’m far from being weak or a doormat. I’m an advocate, an activist even. I don’t believe people should make due with bad circumstances. I think we all need to make the most of a situation and simultaneously work to improve the situation–unless it’s something in my personal life.

I’ve been telling myself since age nine that “I’m the queen of making due.” The simple little phrase came to me as I ran out of my house one crazy, angry morning eager to head to school and leave all the tension and pain behind.

“At least at school no one knows what my life is really like,” I thought. “So I’m going to be okay.” I set my jaw and grabbed my bag and threw open the door to seek asylum in the outside world. “I can make due as long as I have my friends. Ha! In fact,” I cheered myself, “I can be the queen of making due!”

My mom had always cautioned me against just looking for the silver lining. But I didn’t know how else to survive. I couldn’t control so much of my young life. But I could control if I let it upset me or not. So I became numb to it and became expert at finding any hint of any reason to make due. And I always found plenty.

The old adage, if you expect nothing you’ll never be disappointed, was my mantra. I knew I was tough and I didn’t need much. So I never asked for much. I wouldn’t say I’ve settled for my life. I have worked hard and found a way to access and receive so many blessings. But I have limited myself, my aspirations; and I’ve allowed myself to be unfulfilled–even to accept putting my passions and energies second to others and telling myself it’s good enough.

That’s what hurts. I chose to limit myself, my joy. Why would I do that? Why do I still find myself falling into that pattern? I know who I am. I know what makes me happy. I know my potential is unlimited. I don’t have to make due. Not anymore.

I’m no longer that scared little girl who lacks the ability to control her environment. I can still find reasons to be grateful that things aren’t worse. But I don’t have to stop there. I can also be grateful that I have the power, at this point in my life, to make things better. It doesn’t have to be one or the other.

Can I end these false choices? Can I turn off my default switch and push beyond making due? Can I become, instead, the queen of making my world a better place?

I believe I can. I don’t have to settle for “not bad” or even “good enough.” Goodbye Queen of Making Due. Thank you for the solace you provided me all those years, but I’m ready for a new title. It won’t earn a new title overnight though. So, until then, I can make due with doing my best to become something greater. After all, each new breath is a chance to be reborn.

Here’s to new life.

 

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Parables of Love, Part 2

Part 2: The Guiding Light You do not need to search for the light. It is already there. You just need to open your eyes to see it break through.

Yellows and oranges and pinks swirled across the cover of a thick clothbound text. Parables of Love for the Seeking was sewn in rich green threads around the front edges.The pages had those nice soft, uncut edges with tabs and flags marking favored quotes and sections. A rainbow of ribbons and bookmarks overflowed from the manuscript. But she knew just which one she wanted.

“We start our official lessons today, sweet Sarah,” Emma began.

The clouds parted and revealed bright, glowing godlight in the distance behind where Emma spoke. The big gallery windows of the yoga studio yielded completely to the rays, their panes invisible as the morning fog lifted. The sky still glowed gray beyond the reach of the beams radiating from the pale yellow orb, but the clouds no longer seemed threatening.

I checked my phone and the forecast no longer called for rain. Maybe the April showers were finally coming to an end and spring sun showers settling in.

I put my phone away to attune my energy and attention on my teacher. Emma had been my yoga instructor for three years now. Her group classes brightened my weeks, especially our Sunday morning sessions. We all came to class seeking rejuvenation for the week and we found it, Sunday after Sunday, as our energies merged and the music reverberated off the studio walls and mixed with our own frequencies.

Three weeks ago, I asked about private lessons. I just needed more. I couldn’t explain it, but I followed the prompting and I asked if she was available.

“I’ll only agree if you’re really ready,” she’d replied to inquiry.

I didn’t know what she meant at the time, but, of course, I said I was ready. Last week all we did was breathe and practice listening, so I was curious to see what this week would hold.

“I want you to look at the light. Focus on its subtle movement. Just look. Focus.” Emma lowered her voice bit by bit as she spoke, growing increasingly serene. I knew serenity should be my goal too. But…

I couldn’t help it. I laughed.

“Focusing is not really a strength of mine.”

She just smiled. “Focus, Sarah.”

The light then seemed to dance a bit as I looked at it. Nothing is ever completely still, I thought. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on myself for my struggles sitting still or even with lying in savasana. We are always moving. Forward, I added to myself. I am here, in fact, to move forward.

I felt a calmness begin to overcome me.

“There you are. Now tell me what the light makes you think of?” Emma prompted.

“What do you mean?” I asked, “Like a flame, or like something deeper… I don’t know what your’e after here.”

“Sarah, I mean the lesson it teaches you. That’s what you’re here for, right?”

I nodded.

“Well, the lesson is yours. You already know it. So tell me what you’re thinking about.”

This was not what I expected. Not what I signed up for, I thought.

But then, for some reason, it came to me.

“It makes me think of a poem I wrote for my mom years ago, ‘The Ballad of the Guiding Light’. I gave it to her for Mothers Day. It had been a rough year. I’d been in and out doctors’ offices. I’d changed high schools again. She’d been considering remarrying and was filled with self-doubt. We both were. There had been a lot of tears that year, mostly alone in our rooms, never shared, but we’d known there’d been tears nonetheless. So…”

I paused, a lump forming in my throat as I remembered. I really hoped I wasn’t going to cry now.

“So… you wanted to give her a lesson in love, and tell her that she had taught you that the guiding light was still and always there,” Emma concluded.

“Exactly.”

“That’s your first lesson, Sarah. And it’s one you’ve already learned but sometimes forget. The light is always there. Tell me the lesson, Sarah. How do you know the light is always there. Remind yourself.”

So I began to explain how what had begun as night-lights and bed time songs and family prayers and transformed into something greater. I had learned, through my mother’s love, to see the light in others. At first, it was just her. I saw the twinkle in her eyes and how it never faded. I saw how she beamed when she was talking to children.

Soon, I could see it in the children themselves. Eventually, I learned to see it when she wasn’t even with me. I realized it wasn’t even her light. It was more than that. It was universal, pure and loving. Godlight, I called it, after reading that phrase in a book once in which the author described luminescent rays breaking through clouds. It was always there, somehow, even if forces tried to hide it.

Not clouds. Not sorrow. Not loneliness. Not pain. Nothing could put the light out.

And my mom taught me that. From night-lights to godlight, I knew the darkness could not endure. Light always breaks through.

I was crying by now, but smiling somehow.

“We’re almost done, sweetie. But you have more to say. Tell me more about that guiding light,” she paused, “godlight, I like that. I want to know what you’re not telling me. Something powerful happened in a moment when you knew forever that light would be with you. And, if you tell me, the lesson will never be lost.”

I came to Emma because I was lost. I knew she was right. I knew I had within me all the lessons I needed. I’d been given a rich and complicated life and so many blessings, but I was so unhappy. It  was time to remember what I already knew.

The guiding light is still there.

“About two years ago, I had the most amazing experience. And what I remember most was the light streaming through the windows, surrounding me…”

 

NOTE: Part III was published as Soul Songs 22 and immediately follows this section of My Soul Songs, Parables of Love

My Soul Songs #23

He Knew

 

She looked downward, as if that could hide the tears that were about to fall.

She reached and put her hand on her heart to calm its racing.

He knew what to do.

He rose to join her.

His long stride quickly reached her side.

He gently put his arm around her.

She looked up.

They both smiled as their eyes met.

She returned to the task at hand with him by her side.

She still cried but she knew she could go on.

They both knew she could have done it without him there too, of course.

She did not need him.

She loved him, and there’s a difference.

They were stronger together.

They would never need to question.

They both knew.

And they always would.