Morning Tumble Into Me

I experienced a moment this morning. I’m not sure how to describe it. I want to call it an epiphany, but have had similar conversations with God and my own self many times before. What made this one different is that I felt connected to my own words, connected to the feelings I was feeling, and connected to a Loving Presence. I think that previous forays into the subject may have been more in the guise of either pleas for help, or quickly glossing over it to avoid the core, to ignore the “me” lying underneath the flippant avoidance.

But this morning, I don’t know why, I somehow ended up inside of that moment, that shadow and that conversation. As many of my friends and readers know, I’ve been on a very long journey to recreate for myself a life I enjoy waking up to. I needed to do that because of my very long history of depression and of NOT wanting to wake up at all. No need to go into that, it was what it was, and I don’t live there anymore because I’ve made incredibly wonderful progress in establishing, nurturing, maintaining and living an authentic gratitude attitude. I’ve designed a morning routine that I enjoy waking up to, starting with prayer of thanksgiving, then downstairs to my beautiful tea cup, a beautiful glass jar full of my favourite tea which hubby lovingly makes for me every morning, beautiful caring friends on Facebook, a healthy breakfast with a pantry full of the things I enjoy eating for breakfast and a window looking out over our beautiful new deck which is alive with flowers and squirrels and birds and a view brimming with beauty everywhere I look. My mornings are now my favourite part of the day.

So yes, I’ve come a long way. And yet…despite all of the progress and genuine gladness to be alive, there is still, too often for my liking lately, this little shadow of “something” that still hovers on the periphery of those first morning moments. But instead of venturing inside of it,  I’ve ignored it, assuming that it was old remnants of the old way of thinking…and therefore not somewhere I wanted to go, especially first thing in the morning. So with mind-over-matter tenacity, I resolutely start each day with positive thinking and the shadows eventually disappear.

But this morning, as I kicked off the bedsheets and sat on the side of my bed, fully intending to pray my prayer of morning thanksgiving, I found myself tumbling head-first into that dark shadow. I felt like it was going to suffocate me. I had been fairly certain that this shadow was a relapse into the old way of thinking…so there was no point in avoiding it or denying it any longer…same-old same-old…except that I wasn’t alone there this time. I felt Presence. Surrounded by Presence. He surprised me…especially when I heard Him ask this question instead of what I might have expected to hear…

“You are afraid.”

“Yes”. I was surprised to discover that it was true, that this shadow was NOT the same-old dark “not wanting to live” nemesis that had haunted me since I was about 13 years old. This morning, being finally inside of this shadow, I could see no glimpse of that old way of thinking, and I couldn’t help but feel a flutter of joy – and triumph – because to me, fear was a huge step up, a much better nemesis to have to grapple with than the despair had been. I was genuinely glad and relieved to discover that it was only fear…fear usually can’t survive in the willingness to hold its sneaky lies up to the light of truth.

“What are you afraid of?”

I didn’t even have to think, even though the answer surprised me again…”Of not making it through.”

Right away, I caught glimpses of all of the other mornings when I had arisen with the same – but unspoken – fear rising up to catch in my throat, mornings when I hadn’t allowed myself to look at it, much less speak to it, resolutely getting up and moving ahead into my daily routine…and “making it through” every single one of those days. Yes, I had made it through. Those glimpses of those accomplishments – those many days I HAD gotten through – loosened the grip the fear had on me.

“I’m afraid of not making it through the day…without failing. I’m afraid of failure. Afraid of losing important bits of myself in directions I don’t want to go in. Of not being enough to make a difference to anyone anywhere today. Of not making the most of the gift…the gift of time, and not being the gift of who I am, fear of missing out on what I’m meant to be learning…of not recognizing WHERE I’m meant to be. Of leaving important things undone. But most of all, for not being the love my soul yearns to be in this world today.”

The answer was tender. “You are all of that already, everywhere you are…you are already the love that you are, you are already unfolding yourself into the gift of time as you rise and go through your day…the day will flow you where you’re meant to go…flow you to the people and activities where your gifts and need for learning lead you to go. There’s no such thing as leaving things undone…what needs to be done will be done.”

“The Lord is my Shepherd, there is nothing else I need…”

“Yes. The day is gift…your joy is simply “be”ing you…the moments will take you through…go and live it.”

I felt such peace and courage flowing through me then. And no fear as I rose from the side of my bed and made it through to the moments waiting for me.

You are. That’s enough.

 

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2016. All rights reserved.
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It’s About Time

Lately I’ve been pondering about and grappling with Time. Today’s rumination…

“I’m wasting Time.”
“If you enjoy what you’re doing, it’s not a waste of Time.”
“What if what I’m doing isn’t what I want to be doing?”
“Why are you doing it then?”
“Well, sometimes you have to negotiate and compromise with loved ones to do what THEY want to do…”
“Then what you’re doing in those situations is love, isn’t it?”
“Yes, I suppose it is…doing what a loved one wants to do is an expression of my love for them”
“Then that’s not a waste of Time either. Love and kindness are never a waste of Time.”

Ahhhh, I hadn’t thought of it that way before. It continues…

“How you spend your Time is always a choice. Choosing to nap, to read, to pray, to play music, to watch TV, to play a game, to phone a friend, to chat with your husband, to daydream…it’s all your own doing, you leading you to spend that Time the way you want to. And choosing to spend Time the way you want to is never a waste.”

I still have questions and more than a few “but what if’s”, but I feel a little better.

One of the what if’s…

I spent a lot of time with my brother Gary after he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. Hubby and I spent time buying him groceries, cooking his meals, cleaning his apartment; we spent time driving him back and forth to medical appointments, we spent time washing his favourite sheets and making his bed often so he would feel more comfortable. I spent time sitting by his side at the hospital, fetching blankets and hot tea during his 6+ months of chemotherapy, then I spent 6-8 hours every day by his bedside during the month he was in the hospital after his Stem-cell transplant, then I spent as much time as allowed during the heart wrenching four weeks as he lay dying in ICU. I held his beautiful head in my arms as he took his last breath.

Precious, precious Time.

I will always be grateful for having had that Time with my brother. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how we let all of that Time slip by without ever talking about the possibility of death. I regret that loss of opportunity now…I regret not offering him the space and Time to talk about it with me. Was he afraid? Did he have a sense that death was possible? What were his thoughts about it? We never talked about it. It actually, sadly,   never occurred to me. And I feel cheated. Cheated by my own naivety and surprise when he died, even though I had spent so much Time sitting with him in that hospital, watching him fade before my eyes…somehow, I always believed deep in my soul that he would make it through. I simply wouldn’t allow death to be a possibility…and long after he did die, I felt like I cheated him of the chance to talk about it. Being with him was Time well spent, I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else. But I’m no longer sure it was how he needed that Time to be spent. I’ll never know. And I believe that wherever he is now, he’s safe and happy and there’s no point in going back. I’ve learned the hard way that there’s simply no point in ruminating to the point of being so consumed by guilt and regret that I lose sight of the precious moments of NOW. He wouldn’t want that. And I don’t want that for myself either. His death taught me how precious Time really is.

But I’m still grappling with what I’m supposed to do with my Time.

I’ll always remember how Gary used to cringe when people would use that phrase “just killing Time”. The diagnosis of cancer forever changed Gary’s perspective on Time. How precious to him was the mere thought of having so much spare Time (and energy to do something with it) that you could so casually toss (or “kill”) it away. I haven’t been able to use that phrase since Gary mentioned it to me. His changed perspective changed my perspective forever too.

Now I grapple with the constant fear of not appreciating the NOW enough. Of dying before I’ve learned to live NOW. How ironic is that. To allow the fear itself to rob me of the very thing I’m afraid of losing. This is the gift. NOW is the gift. I constantly find myself looking forward (sometimes too eagerly) to things in the future…and not the big things! Those would make sense. Silly things, like supper, dessert (especially when it’s cheesecake), tomorrow’s shopping itinerary, next month’s hair appointment, next year’s trip to Cuba…so many of my “Now’s” get lost in my rush to get somewhere else. How many wondrous sunrises and bird feedings and wafting rose scents and honest encounters have I missed because my fragmented mind couldn’t see anything except tomorrow’s lure…why can’t it be enough to see, enjoy and appreciate what is right in front of me NOW?

Time. A precious gift…the sad part of it is that it often takes the death of a loved one to teach us just how precious Time – and Now – truly are. Our entire lives are compromised of billions of “Now’s”. I used to live in the land of relentless regret and detrimental rumination over how I squandered my Time, especially with loved ones now gone…and then I would regret and ruminate over the time I squandered regretting and ruminating…it was a never-ending vicious circle! I fell into profound sadness which spiralled into profound depression. Learning how to live in the NOW was one of my ladders out of that dark hole, and I’m able to stay out by learning to be mindful that NOW is the best – and only true – Time to enjoy. Living in the NOW (i.e., what IS here and now, rather than focusing on “what was and never can be again”) is building deep within me a solid foundation of appreciation and gratitude that gives me safe ground to stand on when life throws lonely, sad and/or turbulent moments at me. I always seem to have enough courage to deal with the thing that’s happening NOW…it’s when I begin to think in terms of “forever”, i.e., that it’s always going to be like this, or my mind stretches too far into the what-if’s and constructs imaginary – and oft-times intolerable or even horrific – scenarios, that I begin to panic with crippling anxiety and hopelessness.

Pull back to the NOW…whatever is happening NOW is what’s really happening, and only this.

And one of the most helpful things I’ve learned over and over again about Time is that “this” too shall pass. What’s happening now, in this moment, doesn’t last forever…it only exists Now…and this Now leads to a new Now…with new landscapes, new courage, new hope and new possibilities, and new choices on how to spend that Now.

It’s about time that I enjoy my Time Now.

now

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2016. All rights reserved.
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Posted in anxiety, authenticity, coping, determination, empowerment, faith, gratitude, grief, hope, inspiration, life, meaning, mental health, perseverance, positive, positive thinking, self help, time | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Endings and Beginnings

As 2015 comes to a close, I cannot lie, I’m glad to see the end of this year. 2015 turned out to be one of my most difficult years to get through. It was a constant struggle to stay afloat against the relentless bombardment of issues that had to be dealt with…personal issues, new health issues (primarily diabetes and high blood pressure that have been very difficult to get under control), relationship issues, spiritual issues, …from January 1st through to this moment, I have often felt off-balance, discombobulated and frequently lacking the energy I’ve needed to be able to navigate the increasingly complex labyrinth that some of these issues have created. I’m arriving at the threshold of 2016 feeling like a ragged, wrung-out dish rag, thanks in large part to my poor body having to get used to so many new prescription drugs – and the side effects, some of which were severe enough to require trips to emergency – for the past several months, and frustrated for what feels like an unnecessarily wasted year in terms of living a purposeful, passionate life…some of these new health issues and medications left me with little to no energy to do much for long stretches of time.

Yes, there have been peaceful stretches and patches of good energy here and there, but looking back, I see far too many empty hours frittered away on anxious ruminating, especially over the health-related “what-if’s”, weeping more frustrated tears than my eyes could handle at the severity of the side effects, and giving in to paralysing fears that these health issues were never going to get under control and that I was never going to feel better again. Every morning for the past few months, I have woken within a baffling frustrating paradox…profoundly and genuinely grateful to be alive to try again, yet equally sad to be waking up to the same issues that baffled and challenged me the day before. Hopeful that “today would be the day” that I – we (doctors, etc) – would figure it all out, I was faithful to rising, faithful to showing up for my life, faithful for slogging it out, faithful to prayer, faithful to trusting that there was good stuff working its way through all of this…and faithful to love…faithful to loving God, husband, family, friends…and learning how to be faithful to loving self, expressed in forgiving myself – I felt a lot of guilt over the diagnosis and difficulty in controlling the diabetes in particular.  I’m trying to manage the anxiety and frustration by allowing myself to only have to deal with the unfolding day moment by moment, thereby lessening the angst to tolerable, manageable chunks. Still, there were many nights when I would get to the end of the day crumpled in a weary heap, weeping for help in understanding the core “why” of the various issues weighing me down, and then mustering enough strength and trust to listen for the answers.

I’m not sure how many answers actually came my way. Or perhaps more honestly, how good I have been at absorbing those answers. But somehow, there has been enough Peace and Grace leaking through the angst to help bolster me up enough to show up for each next day’s unfolding. Enough blessings to keep going, but enough challenges to keep me humble and constantly searching for strength and patience. And maybe in the end, that’s enough to have made it a year worth having struggled through…learning that I COULD and DID get through it all, relatively intact, mostly hopeful that we’ll be able to resolve most of these issues, most definitely still alive (whew!) – and very ready to get rid of some of this old baggage of useless anxiety and start fresh.

Yes, I’m glad to get to the end of this year. In my mind, 2016 looks like a clean slate, a new horizon, a new treasure chest full of possibilities – and I’m looking forward to that exhilarating feeling of starting over again, hopefully with a new mindset and new, improved medications, and new hope that will fuel me through to new answers and new resolutions to some of these issues that still need tending to. I’ve read enough to know that so much of the angst and illnesses we go through are rooted in our mindsets and attitudes. I’ve been working very hard to rewire my attic and nurture that positive gratitude attitude. It’s the only way I’ve been able to stay the course, diligently resolutely learning good coping strategies amidst the health struggles, naming blessings amidst the pain, and focusing on even the slimmest slivers of light and hope in the darkness.

I’m glad I made it through this year…there were frightening moments when it wasn’t so clear…but I did, thanks to so many people who helped me get through the health scares. It feels empowering to look back and realize the struggle and perseverance it took to get here. 2016 looks bright and shiny, like a newly minted coin. I’m ready. Wait, I’m even EAGER and determined to take on whatever little treasures and lessons it has tucked away in its pockets for me. Maybe I’m eager enough to not even wait until January 1st. Maybe I’ll jump into the “new” part right now. Bring it on, New Day. Bring it on New Year. Bring it on.  Let’s do this!

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2015. All rights reserved.
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Posted in anxiety, authenticity, coping, courage, depression, determination, empowerment, faith, fatigue, gratitude, grief, hope, inspiration, journey, life, Light, Love, meaning, mental health, panic attacks, perseverance, positive thinking, purpose, Sadness, self help, social anxiety | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Ebb and Flow

Life is a never-ending flow of change…even when where we are feels stagnant and too mundane to matter much, even then the mundaneness is somehow changing us, evolving us forward to the next moment and the next. We never know what’s around that next bend in time, maybe a phone call, a letter, an email or a knock on the door will break through and bring something new into an ordinary day. Or maybe nothing will come to break the monotony, and that in itself, somehow changes us. Perhaps too many mundane stagnant moments will compel us to make different choices to break out of the rut we’ve gotten ourselves into. Maybe our weariness with stagnancy will lead us outdoors to explore and discover something new and fresh that will revive our drooping spirits.

Even whatever appears to be NOT happening is leading us somewhere. And it may not always be a “good” somewhere. If we allow ourselves to become complacent with the stagnancy and mundaneness, then we run the risk of unconsciously repelling or even blocking anything good that wants to break through. Then the flow of change becomes an ebbing of possibility, leaving us feeling even more stagnant and hopeless of ever moving out of there.

It’s always a choice. Always. We choose what to do every moment of the day. We choose how to respond to the feelings that flow in and out of us like the fickle flickers that they are. Feelings are fickle and temporary, but sometimes our responses lead us to make rash choices that feed and propagate those feelings, making us feel like we’re hopelessly stuck in a mucky quicksand of futility…a stagnant place.

We’re not meant to be stagnant. We always have a choice. Yes, sometimes it’s very difficult to rouse oneself from the stupor of sadness and the languor of loneliness. Something in us irrationally wants to stay there and wallow and heap detrimental self-chattering into the mix, rubbing the salt of our own self-ostracization into an already festering wound of feeling utterly alone in the world.

Rise up, I tell my lethargic self. Rise up and change direction. Find a beam of light and stand there, soaking in the warmth and then allow the brightness to shine through to the core of you. You are meant to live in the light…you are meant to BE light. Even if it’s just the feeble flicker of a tired candle, be light.

Breathe in the change that wants to move you back into the flow. If nobody knocks on your door, YOU knock on your own door and wake yourself up. If nobody calls you, YOU call somebody, bring cookies or soup to an elderly neighbour, weed their garden, rake their leaves or shovel the snow off their sidewalk, ask somebody about the dog they’re out walking, There’s always a way out of the stagnant mundaneness.

Sometimes we’re blessed by someone breaking through with a warm hello and kind word. But sometimes we have to be the one to rise up out of our stupor and bring the change to someone else’s doorstep…and in doing so, we also allow good change to flow into our own hearts and lives.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2015. All rights reserved.
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Posted in change, choice, kindness, life, Sadness, self-help, social anxiety | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Surround Yourself with What Makes You Happy

We hear it just about everywhere these days. Surround yourself with what makes you happy. Fill your life with what you love. 10 Ways to be happy. Let go of whatever doesn’t bring you joy so you have space for the good stuff.

As many of my readers know, I’m a meme junkie. I’m addicted to memes. So many memes are swirling around in my head that I can barely think outside of those pretty meme boxes.

So for far too long now, I’ve been soaking in these memes about filling your life with what makes you happy. And I’ve been trying to do just that. And running into brick walls with utter frustration and bafflement with every attempt. It took me awhile to pinpoint the why of that frustration and sense of failure. It took a long conversation with a good friend recently to help me finally put it all together…don’t laugh, though I did when I finally figured it out.

BECAUSE MY LIFE IS ALREADY FILLED WITH THE THINGS THAT MAKE ME HAPPY!!!

Can you believe it? I had to shake myself and pinch my own arm to make sure I wasn’t just dreaming. I mean, my life is by no means perfect, far from it. And yet, the primary reason why I was getting so frustrated was because I was chasing after something that was already mine. No wonder I couldn’t find it “out there”, it was in here, inside of me, all this time.

Not to say that I’m still not having to deal with that tugging inside of me for “more”, an ever-evolving yearning to keep moving forward into the next adventure and to unwrap the next new tidbit of joy that comes from learning or discovering something new. I’m forever feeling that draw to stretch myself towards new possibilities.

I think it’s healthy to have that yearning, I no longer see it as an indication that I’m not already happy with what I do have here and now. As I said a few posts back, we were not born to stagnate…we were born to be continually evolving, to experience, discover, learn, reach for the stars and enjoy every tidbit of adventure along the way.

But we’re innundated with this message that we need to do this or that in order to be happy. Get rid of this, add this, try this, avoid that. It’s bewildering and tiring if you try to follow everyone’s advice and every meme’s directions to get there. In fact, in my experience it did everything except bring me happiness. The quest for happiness led me further and further away from my own self. And what could be less joyful than being separated from the self that knows you better than anyone else?

Yet, I couldn’t figure out why it wasn’t working for me. I even asked myself “What makes me happy?!” At first I kept whining “I don’t knowwwww”. But then as I began to listen better, the answer kept coming at me “I already have it.” “No”, I would say to myself, “You can’t possibly already be happy. There has to be more to it.” “Well” I would say back to myself, “well, let’s make a list then.”

Okay, now we’re getting somewhere. I love making lists. So I did. I made a list of the kinds of things I could surround myself with that would make me happy.

Loving husband – check

Good friends – check

Food in the fridge – check, check and triple-check (two fridges, a freezer and two pantries stuffed full)

Being able to live life at my own pace – check

Good relationship with God – check

Knick-knacks from my family past – check (I liken them to surrounding ourselves with their light and love)

Souvenirs from our travels – check, lots of magnets on the fridge that remind me every day of our wonderful adventures abroad

Travelling – check, we’ve had such fun seeing so much of the world already, and we’re not done yet. More to come!

Nice colours in my clothes closet – check, lots of orange, orange always makes me feel good when I wear it.

Beauty – check; roses and marigolds still blooming in the garden, leaves changing colour, squirrels playing in the back yard, sunsets and sunrises that take my breath away….lots of beauty everywhere I look.

Aside from the complex clutter in my mind, I’m actually a fairly simple person. I don’t need a whole lot of material things (other than orange clothes, LOL) to make me feel complete or happy. So as I made this list and checked it twice, I realized how very content and quietly happy I genuinely already am with my life. So what if my happiness isn’t a big exuberant bubbly jumping for joy all the time. That’s maybe what I’ve been searching for, but it’s just not me. I’m not a joy jumper. I’d probably never be a contestant on a TV game show because I don’t jump for joy. I’m quite boring in my joyfulness. It’s a quiet, peaceful contentment that draws a heart-felt “thank you” throughout the day, and sometimes even songs of praise and thanks to my God here and there.

In many ways, I’m very very adept at complicating life for myself. I admit that I might even have a tendency to sabotage myself, though less so now than in earlier days. I struggle with angst and fear of failure, and with a constant drive to “do it right”, to live each day as best as I can with kindness and grace. I overdo it. I overdo it, perhaps to compensate for past mistakes and the regrets that some of those failures left behind.

It can be much simpler than that tiresome searching for something I think I need, something that those memes insist I need….the simplest way to find it is to be still long enough to realize that I already have it. I already have it all. I already have a life surrounded by the things that make me happy. I did that. Years ago when my life was shattered and left me fumbling through the rubble, I figured out what I needed in order to build myself a life that I could want to wake up to in the morning. I figured out what would make me happy, and then surrounded myself with that. I’m there. There’s no need for more. Only to just wake up every morning, and live this wonderful life that waits for me to – as my friend Kelvin put it – to jump right into it.

Those memes and their messages are helpful in their time and their place. They can provide inspiration and perhaps road markers to get us started. But at some point, we need to just step back and consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, we’re already there. We’re already happy and just forgot to sit still long enough to enjoy it.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2015. All rights reserved.
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Posted in gratitude, happiness, mental health, positive thinking, self help, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Life is Messy

Yes, life is messy. From the moment we’re born, our lives are immersed in mess. Messy comes in every size, shape and situation. Messy can be on a global scale, as we are currently witnessing with the surging masses of refugees pouring out of Syria into every nook and cranny of the world.

Messy can be on a municipal level, as the transit system comes to a complete halt during morning rush hour throughout the city, causing 3-4 hours of delay for thousands of workers heading back to work and thousands of new students heading to their first day of school and university after summer holidays.

Messy can be on a neighbourhood level, as the Tuesday morning garbage truck inexplicably leaves behind a putrid, ugly, bug-infested swath of wet food garbage strewn across the the street. I have pictures. Too disgusting to post here.

And messy can be on a very personal level, as we deal with everything from the mundane spills and grubby footprints on a newly-washed floor to life-changing physical ailments, from scary messes like the car window being smashed by senseless vandalism (yes, that happened to us this past weekend) to the less tangible messes of tangled knots of mangled thoughts wrestling us to the edge of the quicksand of anxiety and futility…daunting in the face of all of these other messes clamouring for our attention, quick fixes and generosity of both heart and wallet.

Looking out the window, both literally and figuratively, I could quite easily see only mess, one continuous gigantic heap of writhing, seemingly inescapable unresolvable mess.

Sigh.

BUT, I’ve been working on changing my mindset and attitude, so “Messy” isn’t all I see anymore. Yes, life is messy, the world is a mess, the city is a mess, our neighbourhood is a mess and I’m still working on that mess up there in my attic. Sometimes it feels like I’m not moving very quickly, sometimes it feels like I’m stagnating. But if I really am mindful and honest, I’m moving, forward, upward, outward…slowly but surely rising above the mess of constant angst and anxiety that used to cripple me into dysfunction and debilitation.

For instance, this morning. For most of my life, mornings have been a struggle to face. In fact, there have been far too many mornings that I chose not to face. But I’ve been working on that, for many years now, working to rebuild for myself a life I enjoy waking up to, a life I’m okay with facing. There is still ambiguity…there is still a wee little voice in me that whispers, “not sure I can do this today”, and even sometimes outright fear and panic at the thought of having to get myself through. Those are old tapes, old thought patterns, old angsts that still need to be weeded out and thrown away for good. I keep tossing them away, but like most messes, they just keep coming back in need of more tending and cleaning and fixing.

I’m on it. Because that’s no longer the only voice I hear whispering inside of me now. Now I hear “New day! Wow! That’s an incredible sunrise, how lucky am I to have awakened just in time to see the most glorious part of it?! Just look at all of the possibilities lying ahead of me today, all the treasures waiting for me as the day unfolds…I’m so blessed and glad to be alive. Thank You, Lord!”

Sometimes I question which one of those voices is the most authentic me. Is it the old voice of fear and trembling? That was me, that was the seemingly real me at one time. Or is it the new voice of hope and gratitude. That’s who I WANT to be, that’s who I’m rebuilding myself to be. Is it enough to want it? Will wanting it so badly that I do everything and anything to propel myself in that direction be what fixes the mess inside of me?

Because if I can fix the mess inside of me, maybe there’s hope for the other messes out there to be fixed. I have to hope, it’s the only alternative to succumbing to futility and apathy, neither of which will ever fix any mess.

I believe that most messes can be cleaned up, fixed, even made beautiful again. I even dare to go so far as to say that GOOD can be found in those messes! Yes, I believe that good can – and WANTS to be found, even in the chaos and tangles of the most daunting mess.

Life is messy, but we’re capable and strong enough to handle most messes that life throws at us. As long as we don’t give up, but keep rebuilding ourselves, our homes, our neighbourhoods, our cities, our world into what we want them to be, into the best they can be, into the good that can emerge from the mess.

It’s not easy. It’s not always easy to let that voice of hope and gratitude speak against the voices of futility and discouragement. But we start where we are, with whatever messes we’re facing today, with whatever we CAN do here and now.

Underneath all the mess, I believe that it’s still truly a beautiful world out there. Inside and out.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2015. All rights reserved.
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Posted in ambiguity, anxiety, coping, courage, depression, despair, determination, empowerment, mental health | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

New Meanderings…Golden Treasures in the Quicksand

After many months of contemplating the new direction – or any direction for that matter – of this blog, I’ve decided to simply start writing again. The title of my blog site is “Meanderings, Blogging the Journey” and that’s what I most enjoy doing…just putting my hands on the keyboard and letting them click their way to wherever it is my mind and/or heart meander. At times, hopefully, I will again wander through distant cobblestone streets and write about our travels. For now, until we’re on the road again, I’m just going to let my meandering mind take me wherever it takes me. We’ll see at the end of each meandering if we end up anywhere worth sharing.

So, I’ve done a lot of mind-journeying over the past few months. Wrestled with my usual angsts and quirks, trying – constantly trying – to still the restless sense that I’m not doing enough with my life. I’ve been all over the psychic map on this…I’ve read memes until they’re plaguing my dreams. I’ve sat and prayed, meditated, waiting for light and wisdom to show me what great and wonderful things I’m supposed to be doing with my life these days. Always the same answer. It comes whispering on the wind, through prayer insights – even through uncannily timely emails from people who have no idea I’m wrestling like this. Be still and know…know that all is well and that you are exactly where you’re supposed to be. There’s more, but that’s the essence.

But in amongst the essence, other thoughts wander into the fray…thoughts that I enjoy pursuing to see where they take me. It’s those kinds of meanderings that I enjoy trying to articulate. Such as this one. This one has been teasing at the edge of my mind for awhile now as I sit outside on our new deck, soaking in the warmth of the summer sun, delighting in the beautiful yellow and white butterflies that visit my garden, laughing at the silly pictures that the clouds keep painting across the sky and enjoying the sounds of children laughing at the playground nearby.  It’s nothing radical or earth-shattering, we’ve heard it before, but here it is in my voice. Here is what’s been meandering through my mind out there on my new deck this summer.


We were not born to be stagnant!

We are not meant to stagnate.

We were born to be totally immersed in life, in the beauty and beaches and butterflies – but also, maybe more-so, in the nitty-gritty muck and mire of day-to-day life. From birth we are born messy! And we just continue to get messier, from the dirt underneath our fingernails to the intricate tangle of unanswered hungers and questions that clutter and sometimes even enslave our minds. That’s how it’s meant to be, I believe – we are born to immerse ourselves in life, to sink up to our chins in that daily quicksand – and then emerge carrying in our hands and hearts the golden nuggets of lessons learned.

We were born to learn important things from what we are tempted to see only as our daily drudgery; we are meant to learn important lessons from the people who challenge and infuriate us, and from within the messes we get ourselves into on the way to doing those great and wonderful things we so desperately want to be doing.

Things like patience, empowerment, courage, learning how strong and capable we really are, learning our limitations, learning how to let go of the things (and people) that are holding us back and perhaps even leaking toxic materials into our bodies and psyches, learning how to establish and nurture healthier mindsets, learning about forgiveness, both for others and for ourselves because after all is said and done, we are all humans trying to muddle our way through.

Messy days can teach us that kindness matters and that compassion bridges many chasms, can bring glimpses of mercy and the value of taking time to understand the wounds and fears that so many of us carry behind our eyes. The drudgery can teach us how to hunt for the treasures along the way…how to open our eyes to see and celebrate beauty in the simplest things – in the garden, in the workplace, in the hearts – and those wounds – of others, and ultimately within our own selves too. Finding beauty in the drudgery and in the messy patches can teach us that there’s always something to be grateful for and keep the eyes of our faith open to seeing the good potential hiding within every situation. Most of all, I believe that ultimately we are learning about love, authentic love – unconditional love – loving others and allowing ourselves to be loved.

I believe that we were born to then take these golden nuggets of learning and share them with others – both the others near and dear to us, and the others who live on the other side of the world from us. Who we are primarily meant to share our hard-won wisdom and learning-honed gifts with is where our purpose lies.

Maybe we are called to share them with our children and life-partners at home. If so, then home is where we are called to be and to serve others.

Maybe we are called to write, paint, cut hair, change bed pans…become doctors, nurses, firefighters, accountants, secretaries, teachers, chefs, ministers…whatever we feel the passion or direction to do or be, that’s precisely where we are meant to share our learnings and gifts, to help others who we meet through our jobs.

Maybe we are called to share them with orphans in Africa or refugees in Syria or struggling families in Cuba…our hearts know…I believe that everyone is given a spark for something, a cause, a place, a passion. Our hearts will be sparked to know where we are meant to take these golden nuggets and apply the lessons learned and share the gifts gleaned from those difficult situations and mucky quicksands we’ve had to trudge through.

The where doesn’t matter right away…that will make itself known when the time is right and we are ready. What matters is that we don’t stay fallen and broken or wallowing in the quicksand. What matters is that we make the conscious choice to search for the golden nuggets that are hiding within each messy situation and seemingly inescapable quicksands of our lives – then pick ourselves up and use those learned lessons to move ourselves forward and to help others along our path who are struggling in their own quicksands of hopelessness, addictions, loneliness, isolation, poverty, hunger, enslavement, illness – the list is endless, and so are the possibilities for helping and serving others with all that we have learned.

Every encounter and event we experience vibrates with knowledge that wants to be discovered, and holds within its grubby depths the rich gems of the wisdom and skills we need for the next encounter and situation, and ultimately holds everything we need to help and serve others.

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Copyright © Sharon C. Matthies, Meanderings (blog), 2015. All rights reserved.
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Posted in coping, courage, determination, empowerment, faith, gratitude, hope, inspiration, Light, Love, meaning, mental health, perseverance, positive, purpose, self help, spiritual, survival, wisdom | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments