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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My Soul Songs #4: Sunlight on Snow

Sunlight on snow has always been one of my favorite scenes. Cool, sunny skies invigorate me. But it’s deeper than that. It’s not just that this girl from the northwest still gets excited at the sight of snow. There’s something almost spiritual about the way the light dances on blankets of snow, the way a gentle wind picks up the crystals to create swirling patterns of glitter in my path.

It’s the balance of energies, fire and water that inspires me. We tend to think of these as opposites and as opponents. Water quenches fire. Heat evaporates moisture. But with sunlight and snow we can see how the two energies can exist in a complementary harmony.

Snow reflects sunlight. Sunshine amplifies the beauty of the crystalline water. The cold helps us appreciate the heat. And the heat slowly supports the shift from snow pack to life-giving water.

This is not a passive relationship. The balance is not static, but dynamic, and the catalyst of needed change. And the fact that we are blessed with this scene and its symbolic reminder each new year is a gift. We can enter the new year inspired to seek and create such balance in the energies of our own lives.

In my yoga, I remind myself that my soul craves and creates both power and peace. In my relationships, I remind myself that I exist to both give and receive. In my prayers, I request and I praise. I seek to create balance where it is lacking and to embrace the balance that exists.

In 2016, I learned the kind of life I want to live and the kind of love I want to have. I learned better the kind of contribution I want to make and the kind of legacy I hope to leave. I learned that I need others and that I have much to offer as well.

I carry these lessons with me into 2017 with a new appreciation of how they can be balanced in my life. I enter the year with a new perspective and the acknowledgement that I do not control the elements, but the elements are my allies. I will not fear the heat, for it brings the light that I need. I will not fear the storm for it brings new life. I will live in harmony as the sunlight on snow.

sunlight-on-snow

 

 

Meditation for a New Year

The scent of lavender oil and sandalwood incense intermingle as they waft about the small, dimly lit room.  I breathe it in and let the healing begin. I offer a silent prayer and set my intention for the day. As the sun begins to peak over the mountains in the distance I begin my meditation, my role in receiving the answers to all my heartfelt prayers.

“I will do as much as I can for as many as I can for as long as I can.” I repeat the mantra as I meditate. I’ve never been able to sustain meditation without a mantra.  I go to this particular mantra often. It focuses me.

A gift from a dear friend one birthday many moons ago, I have kept this little saying in my office for more than a decade, and in my heart and mind always. It is one of my Soul Songs that reverberates with each breath and vibration my existences sends out into the universe and its pure light, my tiny ripple in the waters of life.

I am only one, but I am one. I am all that I am, nothing more, nothing less and that is enough.

Breathe in, breathe out. A deep, healing, falling out breath. I release all the negativity and fear. I let it go.

“I am enough. I will do as much as I can for as many as I can for as long as I can.”

None of us know what the future holds and that’s okay. What we are capable of is ever-changing and often far greater than we ever give ourselves credit. I take another deep breath and I remind myself of this.

“I will do as much as I can for as many as I can for as long as I can.”

I breathe in and out along each chakra as I visualize my core and every place of strength and weakness along the way, scanning my body in my mind’s eye. I send love and light to each crack and fill ache each with gratitude for doing their best to hold together the strength needed for me to continue each day with a smile. I am so thankful.

These mortal vessels we’ve been given to carry us through this life experience are amazing, delicate and strong. I am in awe of all I can do and all I continue to become. So I give thanks.

I refuse to believe that our bodies become diseased or weakened for a reason or lesson to learn, but I do insist on learning something from every experience. The succumbing of my nervous system to MS didn’t bring any great lessons; I have chosen, however, to take it as an opportunity to focus my efforts, my purpose. My purpose is gratitude and joy.

I breathe in gratitude and prepare myself to give and receive greatness. I want to live a full and fulfilling life.

“I will do as much as I can for as many as I can for as long as I can.”

I have learned from MS and from each of the challenges, lessons, and gifts along my life’s journey. I have learned that I want to live a life full of laughter, smiles, hugs, music, memories, and those who feed my soul. Such a life aligns my purpose to my actions and empowers me to remember the difference we each make. I can make a difference.

E.B. White is said to have proclaimed “I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult.” This is how I choose to live and create a life of my choosing.

“I will do as much as I can for as  many as I can for as long as I can” and I am one of those. I am fulfilled and energized by interacting with and giving to others. I have a contribution to make.

I can only fully make that contribution, though, if I honor myself and my needs. I will rest and restore and refresh. I will seek support and assistance too–from all sources, temporal and spiritual, for these gifts are for me to use along my journey so I stay strong and accomplish all the good I can do. It is with joy in my heart that I make the biggest difference. And the source of my joy is that “hell of a good time” I have. So, I will have a great time. And I will change the world. Today.

The incense is nearly extinguished. The sun is aloft. The world is aglow with daylight sparkling on snow. The meditation chimes hum.

Another deep breath and I am ready for the first day of this new year. It’s going to be a good one.

“I will do as much as I can for as many as I can for as long as I can.”

Namaste.

 

 

 

 

Transported

Ebony etchings tell

lessons of life, death, rebirth

of earth, mind, body, and soul

… and I’m reminded of our spiraling interconnectedness.

Golden God Light

illuminates memories of Ancient Ones

tucked away in the hills of this strange land

… and now I’m transported to another world, another life.

 

Awe-inspired youths listen

IMG_1642soaking in the wisdom of The Teachers

yearning for understanding, seeking affirmation

…and I’m one of them, now and forever.

Infinite worlds collide

Creating past, present, future, and always

Until I finally understand why I’m here,

… And I’m free to be who I was always meant to be.

 

Lessons from Mama

My mom, Mama to my sisters and I, gave me two important lessons:

  1. Always leave a place better than you found it.
  2. No mortal has ever been nor has ever needed to be perfect.

Words cannot describe how much I needed these lessons. The first lesson was easy for me. It made me a super-star babysitter, an amazing house guest, and, ultimately, an activist.

I have always been feisty and at least outwardly tough.  I was old for my age, with an imaginary husband and angel instead of a mere friend. I loved soap operas and decided at age four that I needed a pair of heals (blue plastic clogs did the trick), long hair (I wore a purse with braided straps on my head), and starting preparing to be one of those “wonder women” I heard about on tv. I was going to do it all, be it all, and take the world by storm and set everything right. I was  a perfectionist with a strong desire to make the world better–my version of better.

My dollhouse was a place to clean and organize. Public restrooms needed my attention and I would often have to be dragged away to be stopped from doing more than wiping down the counters. It was important to me the angle at which the tv guide sat on our table and how our kitchen was arranged. I was six when I first told a teacher, “I’m going to do it like this instead because I think that’ll be better.” I got away with things like this because I have my mom’s frame and. let’s face it, a tiny girl with oversized glasses and just enough freckles on her nose is just too adorable to say no to. And I told people that.

Every once in a while, though, there would be those who were not willing to let me “improve” things. When ever I encountered someone who questioned me, or worse, someone who observed me make a mistake, I found myself at a loss, almost debilitated by panic. I was riddled with anxiety as a child, never sleeping through the night, always crying and worrying.

A library book left on the bus? I did not sleep the entire weekend until my mom contacted the bus company and it was retrieved. My mom and stepdad had a fight? I would cry all night as I planned how we would survive without a second income, where we would live, and how I would help out. My mom had to work late? I had to stay awake until she got home so I knew she was safe.

If I saw a movie with a fire, I needed to make a fire escape plan. If I heard on the news about political conflict, I would pray, for hours, that our leaders would be smart enough to do what I thought was right.

This isn’t all bad. My perfectionism and anxiety led me to create my first chore chart at a very early age, to help my family be organized and make things fair. I was a teachers’ favorite. I always sought work and responsibility. I definitely was working on Mama’s first lesson.

That second lesson, though, that was a killer.

“Sarah,” she would remind. “Only our Heavenly Father is perfect.” I would smile and fight the urge to roll my eyes. “And Jesus was only person to ever walk the earth who was perfect–and even he was tempted.” I never told her that didn’t sound like perfection to me. I was pretty sure I was above temptation.

My ego helped me through a lot of difficult times but obviously got in the way more often than not when coupled with my perfectionist streak. Pride resulted in migraines and health problems and eliminating all remnants of a social life by the time I was a teenager. I had other things to attend to than the frivolity of the young, I thought.

So, how did I finally learn that I cannot nor should not aspire to perfection–but can still make a positive impact on the world? I don’t really know. I do know that Mama’s words echo in my mind during every yoga practice, every professional conflict, and every quiet moment of self-doubt.

I also know that this is the one area that I feel like my MS has helped me to improve. My diagnosis felt like I was branded: MS, flawed. I had to accept that I cannot change my condition. I can strive to be a success story though. Mama reminded me of that when she visited for first formal MS visit to the neurologist.

This lesson and this trial with MS has helped me to create a much more balanced outlook on life, and on myself. I know I am doing the best I can–and I will always do the best I can at everything. But I won’t be perfect. MS reminds me of this daily. I cannot even pretend to be perfect. I take a handful of pills each day. I experience pins and needles all the time. I know the names of all the MRI techs in the area. …Yep. This mind and body are far from perfect. I accept that. And I don’t need to be perfect to make the world a better place. I do it every day. IMG_0024