The Many Faces of Fierce
This ‘balance thing’ is difficult.
• Live with intention – but let things flow.
• Focus – and breathe.
• Change – and accept.
• Feel whatever you feel – and then feel gratitude for it (including those things that hurt).
• Understand your wholeness – outside of your story.
For me, these things are more challenging than learning to write with my non-dominant hand. Or mastering a yoga balance pose on shifting sand. Or apologizing (particularly when I know I am the one who is wrong). Or listening patiently when I have something to say. Or being open to examining myself ~ truly examining myself ~ and then being willing to change.
Putting Color into the World
One of my dear friends recently told me to ‘find my fierce’. She laughs and claims that she can still see mine plainly (so I’m really not sure why she won’t just tell me where I left it) but apparently it’s up to me to find it…again.
I started with photographs. Photographs of people I love whom I consider to be fierce. Photographs of my family. Photographs of myself. All the while looking. And suddenly I began to see the many faces of fierce; as unique from one another as faces in a single family would be ~ and yet with a common thread that binds them.
The Gutter Guy
People have often asked me what I do. But, I could not find a way to honor all of who I am with a short answer to that simple question. Until I realized that in absolutely everything I do I put color into the world.
Hope walked through my door yesterday in white painter’s shorts splotched with color and anchored with earth. He was covered in ruddy leaves and muck and wearing work boots worn through the soles. His gray hair told me history and his smile lines knowing. He asked me if I was New Age which also told me his age.
I simply answered “I’m odd” to which he responded “I know.” And then we had a conversation.
It’s funny how the Universe delivers people and lessons. Just the night before I was lying in bed sobbing, my dear friend doing all she could to bind me to something hopeful when I was having trouble finding anything at all. And one of the last things she said before I shut out the lights (and my life) for the evening was “you have the power, no matter how diminished you may feel it is, to not only survive this but to triumph over it.” Who uses the word triumph anymore? Well, the Gutter Guy, in that same unmistakable sentence word-for-word in my doorway. So I settled back to listen because the Universe wields a mighty hammer ~ THUNK. Between the eyes.
"Send my hero my love"
When life gets too difficult to bear, I rely on Truth.
I know. I can’t crumple it like grungy money in my pocket that would keep groceries in my refrigerator. And it doesn’t smell like the lavender on my pillow during the few more hours of sleep a different job that didn’t require 12 a day would afford me. It certainly isn’t as immediately available as the oxygen that would come from living free from the person who promised to spend his life in pursuit of my ruin. It isn’t warm and pliable like sand around my toes at the Outer Banks; a feeling I have to forget during this chapter of my life while I put my kids through college. And it doesn’t replace the sensation and strength on my left side that used to allow me to climb a simple set of stairs without help which, for the first time in public today, I was unable to do.
Nonetheless, Truth is my ‘go-to’ and is unalterable by anybody or anything ~ lies, desire, effort, manipulation, time. The Truth is simply the Truth. Whether or not one person knows it or everyone does, it’s still the Truth.
Like most everything else thrown her way my daughter, Mackenzie, has handled the news of Ed’s death with wisdom and acceptance beyond her young years. While she misses him terribly she also knows that this happened with purpose and benefit we do not yet understand. This is the very same wisdom that brought Ed into our lives in the first place.
Mack had a catastrophic stroke in the lunchroom at school when she was 14 years old. Face drooping, arm and leg hanging, speech impaired, head throbbing, life-changing stroke. I will never get over the sight of her broken body and her last audible words that day, “Please make it stop, Momma.”
For a lifetime people have asked me how I do “it”. I wasn’t really sure what “it” is. But, I think they mean keep going and not be overcome by fear or frustration. Sometimes even doing the “impossible”.
It’s pretty simple. I lean in.
I used to refer to this as doing the counterintuitive but recently found the term ‘leaning in’ in the book Fearless at Work by Michael Carroll. I like it better. Short, sweet, no bullshit. Like me.
2,040 Days to Simmer
One of my Israeli colleagues struggles with the English language. He is forever finding creative substitutions for English words and has a sense of humor when I correct him.
One day recently I mentioned to him that my project was “a mess” so he quickly inquired if, in fact, I meant it was “a festival.” I laughed out loud until I realized that, in this case, he meant exactly what he said. He prefers to think of difficulty as a festival. Ever since then and with this simple substitution I suddenly feel “lighter” about challenges in my life.
In 2011, I lost one of the best friends I have ever had. She made me laugh until I hurt. I lost her because I told her that her life was within her own control and pointed out that she was making choices ~ simple choices ~ that were contributing to her circumstance…just as we all do. I learned the hard way myself long ago that the only way to direct my future was to take responsibility for my present and the part I played in getting there. We are not powerless if we take responsibility. She hated this (and apparently me) and stopped speaking to me entirely. I miss her. If I had it to do all over again knowing this would be the outcome…I would tell her the very same thing. I love her that much.
This notion of choices came up in a very personal way for me this week as my plane was approaching Rochester for landing after 10 days in Spain and 4 more in NYC. We approached over Lake Ontario which does not look nearly as polluted from up above but slowly into view came the factory smoke stacks, and the lookalike row houses. I could hear audible boring reaching into the sky waiting to choke the life out of me. Home? This is my home?