Reaching

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Most of the time, my definition of strength is complete self reliance. Admitting I need help or attention…the epitome of weakness.

Life throws random difficulties at me and I respond by hardening my outer shell. Oh life, your parking tickets, rain, loneliness and depression can’t reach me in here. Nothing can get inside. I’ll even crawl down into this deep hole to hide from you. Nothing can harm me through my thick armor down in my dark pit.

Nobody can know I’m hiding so I smile bigger and I laugh louder. Distraction is key.

Eventually I remember I’m afraid of the dark. I don’t like being alone. I’m very brave and I’m very strong, but why wouldn’t I want my hand held? Why wouldn’t I reach out to someone who loves me and ask them to hold me up when I get too tired?

I’m still learning. I’ll always be.

But, I see my fingers stretched out in front of me more often. I see how this does not make me weak. Quite the opposite.

When my confessions are met with love and validation, when I’m bolstered by even one person who reminds me none of us are going it alone…. my heart opens and I know I’ll be okay.

And so will you.

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healing

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On a day like today
(But not today)
I will wake up
My legs will take me
Where I want to be
My arms will hold
What needs to be held
On that day like today
(But not this day)
I will not worry
Lament or bemoan
My thoughts will blossom
And spread their seeds
My heart will open
Letting go at last

– Just Me Actually

I’m Alive

 

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….but the past doesn’t work like that.

Our previous selves, the ghosts of who we’ve been, remain inside and form vital portions of who we are now. I’ve withstood a challenging year because of my past. As much as I’d love to close one door, barricade it with rocks and set monsters as guards, I know I have to let it all come with me.

I’m busy conquering a new fire swamp. It began with the car break in and robbery, but that has become a footnote. I’m working and exploring and getting a feel for this new home.

I’m finding my rhythm.

My expectations and well laid plans fall away as I stride forward into the unknown.

It may be hard for me on many levels, but damn I do feel alive.

 

(Poem by the exquisite Mary Oliver)

 

 

Zero to Sixty

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I’ve been back in the states for a week. Already it feels like my expat life was lifetimes ago. My brain so easily slipped back into the ways of American life. Driving a car, grocery shopping, speaking English to strangers, going to manicured parks and exploring shops who’s wares are not necessities.

A few days from now I’ll be starting a part time job. A few weeks after that I’ll start a second part time job. Within a very short time my life has gone from zero to sixty. In Laos I spent hours alone and without much to do to pass the time. As I look at my schedule for August I worry I won’t have enough time. I like this problem.

The challenges I faced in the last five months in Laos have left me much stronger than I realized. Admittedly, a version of me years ago wouldn’t have embraced such massive life changes and challenges happening so quickly. I would have needed time to ease into each one. I would have dipped one toe in at a time. Slowly, I’d walk in up to my waist and when finally acclimated I would carefully go in over my head.

I’m cliff diving into this one.

Does this mean I don’t have anxiety and worry I’ll be a total mess? Not at all. I know that even when I’m a mess I can still succeed.  I’m remembering that not trying at all is the true failure in life.  Whatever happens, I want to know that I didn’t let fear hold me prisoner.

Failure to Thrive

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One word has been resonating through my heart and my head every day. A word repeatedly spoken as a gift by  Onmyfeet . He ends each encouraging comment with:

Thrive

Every day I go rounds with myself. How do I make this work? How can I find ways to thrive here in Laos? What am I doing wrong? The truth is I just plain don’t feel well. It’s been weeks of using my ‘mind over matter’ approach to sickness with no improvement. It’s a scary thing to admit you’re not physically well so far from home.  I’ve blamed the extreme heat and humidity. I’ve blamed lack of sleep and dehydration. I’ve blamed lack of physical activity. I’ve blamed myself.

I’m strong. I should be able to make this work. I shouldn’t wake up every morning figuring out how I’ll slog through the day ahead. I should embrace it all and be excited. Should should should.

It’s left me torn, confused and sad.

But, a wave of relief came over me yesterday when we bought my ticket home. Does this make me a quitter? I tell myself that the finish line was a point I set myself. I had this idea I’d last a year and anything less would be a failure.

So, now I try to come to terms with leaving. I will miss so much of this life.  The future is totally unknown again and that knowledge is also difficult to deal with. I crave stability and health at this point more than anything.

In a week I’ll be on a plane home. Rob will follow a month after and we will continue our crazy beautiful mess of a journey together into the next chapter.

And we will find a place to grow and more importantly to thrive.

New beginnings await.

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Counting Wild Geese

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“You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
― Mary Oliver : Wild Geese

 

I memorized this, my favorite poem, over a year ago. It has become my ritual at night when I close my eyes to repeat it in my mind over and over until I can sleep. Some nights I make it only half-way through before dreams arrive. Some nights I lose count.

What’s your favorite poem? I’m looking for a little inspiration this week. Please share.

(picture by my pilot husband. somewhere over Laos)

Anonymous Horse

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I’m striving for balance. The fine line between holding on and letting go is difficult to walk. Most days find me leaping from one side to the other never to land in the middle.

The word that defines my ultimate goal is “Equanimity”.

Equanimity (Latinæquanimitas having an even mind; aequus even animus mind/soul) is a state of psychological stability and composure which is undisturbed by experience of or exposure to emotions, pain, or other phenomena that may cause others to lose the balance of their mind.

My bizarre brain decided this word sounds like it should mean “anonymous horse”. Equine Anonymity.  I also decided that this might be the real meaning of the song “A Horse With No Name” by the band America. Maybe wandering the desert is a metaphor for stillness and balanced emotions.

I’m about to live in a mostly Buddhist country. Perhaps I’ll soak up some of the calm and mindfulness wafting off of the monks and emanating from the Temple walls. It certainly can’t hurt.

Or maybe I’ll be searching for that anonymous horse even in Laos.

………………………………………..

On the first part of the journey
I was looking at all the life
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
There was sand and hills and rings
The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
And the sky with no clouds
The heat was hot and the ground was dry
But the air was full of sound

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

After two days in the desert sun
My skin began to turn red
After three days in the desert fun
I was looking at a river bed
And the story it told of a river that flowed
Made me sad to think it was dead

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

After nine days I let the horse run free
‘Cause the desert had turned to sea
There were plants and birds and rocks and things
there was sand and hills and rings
The ocean is a desert with it’s life underground
And a perfect disguise above
Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
But the humans will give no love

You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name
It felt good to be out of the rain
In the desert you can remember your name
‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain

~A Horse With No Name