This Cracked Me Up (Literally & Figuratively)

I’ve been working on a post that isn’t quite ready yet. So in the interest of keeping my daily posting commitment, I will tell you about something that happened this evening. Since we had no children at home tonight, my husband and I went out for dinner.

It was Saturday night so the restaurant was packed. As we waited to be seated, I spotted my chiropractor and his wife sitting at a table near the bar. As I am still in a wheelchair due to my accident, I had my husband wheel me over to their table. I proceeded to share that I had not been to his office in the past couple of months due to my injuries.

After catching up a bit, he asked if I would like him to give me an adjustment while we were there. I jumped at the opportunity to get some relief from the stiffness that had been increasing in the past few weeks. So we went outside long enough for him to adjust my neck without calling attention to ourselves. We thanked the kind doctor by paying for dinner for him and his wife. (We had their server bring us their check.)

Afterward, my husband and I enjoyed a nice meal together. I enjoyed a quartino of red wine, a salad, and a mixed grill. There was more food than I needed, but it was so good that I kept eating until I was more full than I’ve been in awhile. As I forced in the last bite, I looked at my husband and said, “You’re going to have to roll me out of here!” [rimshot]

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The Trinity

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My pastor asked me to explain the Trinity in a children’s “sermon” one Sunday several years ago. To make the lesson concrete for young minds, I stood in front of the altar between my mother and one of my own children. I explained that although I was their Sunday school teacher (standing front and center to call their attention to me), I was also a daughter and a mother. As I described each of my roles, I stood, first by my mother on the right, then by my daughter on the left to emphasize the differing aspects of myself. Far from a theologically sound explanation of the Trinity, it is a way to help children begin to think about, if not understand one of Christianity’s mysteries.

My spiritual path has taken me away from the doctrine of the Christian religion, although I hold fast to the tenets common to most faiths. Most of the spiritual practices in my life are often what most would call secular activities. Communion being a meal with my family, confession a heartfelt talk with friend, and last rites holding my father’s hand as he breathes his last breath.

This photograph was taken November 3, 2012. The woman on the left is my mother. The beautiful bride in the middle is my daughter. I am on the right. I love this picture. It reminds me of the trinities of life. Beginnings, middles, endings. Birth, growth, death. My mother, my daughter, myself. All beautiful. All parts of the whole. The Trinity.

Dragon Slayer

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October 16, 2013
Tail of the Dragon, Deals Gap NC

Motorcycle enthusiasts will recognize the Tail of the Dragon as a popular destination for riders and bikers (motorcyclists will know the difference… I am a rider).  This picture was taken less than a month before my accident.  (And just in case you haven’t checked out my blog before… No, it was not a motorcycle accident.)  I have been riding for a couple of years, but was not brave (crazy) enough to ride the Dragon until this past fall.  As a matter of fact, I was very “anti-motorcycle” just a few years ago.  But it is not my intention to debate the pros and cons of motorcycle riding.  It is to demonstrate that we have no idea what we are capable of until we “feel the fear and do it anyway.” Continue reading “Dragon Slayer”

Nothing Profound

MaryTake2As I was looking for an image to complement today’s post, I found this picture of me in the hospital. It was only taken 2 months ago, yet it seems so long ago. I suffered multiple broken bones, a separated shoulder, and a laundry list of other injuries. Ironically, these injuries are the reason I have time to blog.

I have been keeping a running list of topics that I hope to develop into introspective, inspirational, or witty posts. But today, when I saw this image of myself, I decided not to attempt writing anything profound.

I am alive. I will walk again (and run). And this blog has been an important part of my healing process.

I am having hand surgery next week, so blogging will be a bit of a physical challenge. But I will do it… even if I have to get hubby to do the typing. (Did I really say that?)

Start

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2012 Fight for Air Walk, Nashville TN (I participated to start the healing process after losing my father to lung cancer.)

I spend a lot of time talking about creating change, overcoming fears, and personal growth in general.  Today, I have been working on my business plan.  I participated in a conference call, watched some videos, and began drafting some business documents.  These are all small actions I am taking to become self-employed.  All the while the word “start” kept running through my head.

In the book, Running for Mortals, coauthor John Bingham says of himself, “The miracle isn’t that I finished.  The miracle is that I had the courage to start.”  He also points out “that the only thing you have to do to be a runner is run.”

Last summer I decided I wanted to try running.  I had always been the last one to finish laps around the track in high school, and thought of running as punishment more than cardiovascular exercise.  But for some reason, I decided this would be my next exercise regimen.

Within days of making the mental decision, I ran across Bingham’s book (co-written with Jenny Hadfield) in the bargain book bin. (Since I’m always looking for signs, I took this as my green light to get started.)  I bought the book and read it from cover to cover in just a few days, yet I was no more a runner than I had been before I bought the book.

One thing I have learned on my journey is that if I wait until I am ready to do something, I will never do it.  I must take some small action to move myself closer to where I want to be, and one action after another will get me there.  But I have to start.

So my next step took me to the shoe store to buy a pair of running shoes.  I made a copy of a training program table from the back of the book and I put the next day’s date on the first block.  The next morning, I went out and I walked.  For the next three weeks I walked 30 to 40 minutes per day, 6 days a week.  On day 22, something magical happened.

I became a runner.

I ran 8 1-minute intervals during a 32 minute walk, and within 2 months, I ran my first 5K.  I wasn’t fast, but I did it.  It was the same way with writing.  When I began blogging, I didn’t think of myself as a writer.  I am beginning to get it that the only thing I have to do to be a writer is write.  I also know I can replace anything I choose for runner or writer… as long as I do that thing.

On a side note, I am currently unable to walk as the result of an accident back in November.  I will start physical therapy in a few weeks, when I can bear weight again.  I am already planning my training schedule for my next 5K.  And when I am able, I will start.

Don’t Wait!

I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t think of something to write. If anything, there is usually so much going on inside my head, that I can’t seem to choose one topic. Today alone, I’ve considered everything from choosing alternative healthcare versus the medical model to tackling clutter, and at least a dozen other topics. Then it occurred to me that the reason I always have so much going on inside my head is that I am always trying to figure out how to improve my life.

Now, that might sound like I’m discontent or just resistant to what is. But I’m a generally happy person, primarily because I practice being grateful for everything, but I’ll save that for another blog post. I’ve had a fascination with self-help books since I was a teenager. I discovered Tony Robbins on a late night infomercial for Unlimited Power when I was twenty-something. Since then, I have been involved in personal growth groups, 12-Step groups, and various accountability relationships.

So here I am, nearly fifty years old, with a wide variety of life experiences. I believe it is my responsibility to take what comes my way and make the best of it. So when my son was diagnosed with Autism, I started researching how diet and exercise could improve his quality of life. When I realized that people I loved were addicts, I began my own recovery through a 12-Step program for families of alcoholics. And when I was hit by a bus (literally… go figure, a teacher hit by a school bus… and on foot), I took an online trauma survivors’ class.

Going back to the subject of gratitude for just a moment, this last incident was what essentially brought me back to blogging. Once I had overcome the worst of the pain and had begun the healing process, I began to realize that this accident was a gift. It actually sounds a bit crazy when I say it out loud, but it’s true. The one big hurdle in my life that I had not yet tried to surmount wasn’t trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, but actually taking action to make it happen.

Some time ago it became clear to me that life coaching would incorporate many of the things I had learned and was passionate about along my own path. And in all honesty, my husband actually said to me one night, “It sounds like you want to be a life coach.” Coming from my “plaid is always in style”, Mr. Linear, I could not believe he mouthed the words that I was too embarrassed to say. Since then, I have been gradually getting used to the idea of doing what I really want to do with my life versus what I feel obligated to do because I have a degree for which I still have student loan debt. But until I was faced with my own mortality, I did nothing to make this dream a reality.

Since the beginning of 2014, I have written out my business plan, commissioned an artist to design a logo, and began blogging again. Not too shabby, especially since it’s only the 6th, huh? I said all of this in my non-linear, floral way (inside joke for my husband, in case he’s creeping my page again), to say that whatever is going on in your head… whatever you are passionate about… do it! Don’t wait until you are physically unable. Don’t wait until you aren’t afraid. Just take one step, and then another. And if you need it, there is always “help along the path.”

I Lived to Blog About It

It’s hard to believe this is only the 5th day of January. I have already accomplished so much.

I joined a Year-long Agreement Group that met via conference call for the first time tonight. ( I was happy to report I was 5 for 5.) As a result, I have rekindled the blog I started last year (as an agreement in another group). I also finished writing the business plan that has been gradually forming in my mind for the past few years. My hope is that I will gain some momentum to catapult myself into this new year.

Silly as it may sound, the scariest thing I’ve done these past 5 days is make my blog public. If that weren’t enough, my husband asked me to send him the link. I casually sent him a text message with the URL. Then the butterflies and brain chatter began. I felt sick as I wondered, “Did I write anything that might offend him? Will he think my writing is stupid? Oh God! He won’t share the link with anyone else, will he?”

When he didn’t immediately log onto WordPress, I thought, “Good! Maybe he’ll forget.”

My husband is a computer guy, so it is not uncommon for him to spend much of the evening upstairs playing online video games, catching up on FaceBook and email, or checking out YouTube videos or forums to solve his latest mechanical or technical issue.

When he came to bed rather late last night, I was relieved that he had forgotten about my blog. That was, until he informed me that he had read the whole thing. Every post.

My stomach did the familiar flip flop it does when I find myself completely naked in public. Okay, that has never happened. But if it ever did… I’m sure that’s how I would have felt.

His comments were innocuous. “Interesting. You’ve written a lot.” And then he said he didn’t know that I had sung on cable. I immediately latched onto this comment. He either read it incorrectly or my writing wasn’t clear. I tried to recall the particular post to which he was referring. Like a squid, I immediately shot ink to confuse the attacker. I was attempting to deflect the attention away from myself and aim it toward a technicality.

And then it dawned on me. The only attacker there was me. I wasn’t being criticized in any way. It had been a very matter-of-fact discussion. I also realized that my heart was still beating and I was still breathing. Someone who really knows me read every word on my blog. He didn’t spit on my computer. He didn’t point at me and laugh hysterically. He didn’t post nasty comments on my site. And I lived to blog about it.

What Are You Afraid Of?

I commited to write for at least 15 minutes everyday this year.  I also joined the Zero to Hero: 30 Days to a Better Blog Challenge.  My purpose for doing these things relates back to today’s assignment: write the post that was on your mind when you decided to start a blog.

Alicja Pyszka-Franceschini’s “It was lonely there (about blogging)” originally posted November 30, 2013 & reposted January 2, 2014 on her blog Postcards Without Stamps put into words many of the anxieties and insecurities I have about publishing.  She also expressed the compassion we should extend to ourselves as writers (yes, I called myself a writer).  I am working to incorporate this into my own thinking.  Her words were so powerful, that I am including a link to the post here so you can read it for yourself.

http://postcardswithoutstamps.wordpress.com/2013/11/30/it-was-lonely-there/

My primary purpose for my first blog, which morphed into this one after only one post, was to overcome my fear of being creatively exposed.  The secondary purpose was to somehow make myself known as someone who could help others overcome the fears that keep them from participating in their own lives and becoming fully who they want to be.

So back to the assignment… Here is the post I was that was on my mind when I decided to start a blog:

Today I begin blogging because I am afraid to write.  No, I am afraid to let you read it.  And the things of which I am most proud, are those that have brought me fear before I accomplished them.  I take great pride in being brave.

I was afraid to sing, so I performed in churches, clubs, and coffee houses.  I was afraid to ride a motorcycle, so I took classes and got my license.  And I am afraid of your reaction to my writing, so I am baring my soul on the page.  I will feel the fear when I hit the “publish post” button, and I will do it anyway.

What are you afraid of?  And when are you going to do it?

Jeans and Normalcy

As I write this post, I am preparing to attend a “post holiday” party.  It is one of my first social outings since an accident that left me unable to walk on my own for a few months.  I am still using a walker. 

Since my accident, I have worn nothing but pajamas and sweats.  I would not have been caught dead in sweats before the accident, but with multiple broken bones, bruises, and lacerations, it was the only thing I could wear comfortably. 

Today I decided to try jeans.  I wasn’t sure I could get them on or sit down in them, as I have a scar on my right knee that is both thick and tender.  As it turns out, the jeans feel fine, and they are even a bit looser than before. 

So I put on a red sweater and the silver filgree drop earrings my daughter gave me for Christmas.  My husband blew my hair dry (which he started doing when my shoulder was separated and 9 of my ribs were broken).  

When I am finished here,  I will put on some makeup, which I have only worn a few times since landing myself in the trauma unit.  (I knew I needed to get my writing in BEFORE a party where red wine would be present.) 

As I prepare to go celebrate the new year with friends, the thought that has been going through my mind is that things like makeup, parties, and jeans are gradually giving me back a sense of normalcy.  I think I’ll wear jeans again tomorrow.          

Who I Am and Why I’m Here

When I first began blogging, I kept mine private because the thought of baring my soul on the page for others to see was more than I could stand.  My husband lovingly ribbed me, informing me that this was a diary.  Well, I decided a few days ago to take the plunge and go public.  After all, part of my purpose in writing was to eventually publish in the self-help field. 

My passion is helping others navigate life.  I have an interest in personal growth in general, especially in the areas of addiction and recovery, parenting and other significant relationships, overcoming anxiety and phobias, health and wellness (including spiritual well-being), goal setting, and organization.  On my own journey, I have learned from books, seminars, and organizations.  I have found that support from others is the most effective tool out there in creating real long-term change.  

Several years ago I claimed (or discovered, depending on your point of view) my life’s purpose to “Help Others Along the Path.”  Since I can remember, I have loved talking with people about their problems, dreams, and goals.  People always seemed to come to me for advice or just to have a sounding board.  As a teacher, I had everyone from the custodian to the principal coming to my room to talk.  I loved helping people sort things out for themselves but I also found that some people just  wanted to complain but not take action to solve their problems.  This was very frustrating for me.  So I began focusing on folks that were willing to do something to improve their situations.  As I build a life coaching clientele, I am blogging about the very issues in my own life that have prompted me to work on myself.  These range from parenting children with substance abuse issues, dealing with anxiety (including performance anxiety), overcoming a traumatic injury, dealing with my own disorganization, and making career changes.

Through this blog, I hope to connect with other writers who have an interest in these areas, and people who are dealing with these or other issues and are looking for “Help Along the Path.”

My hope is that my blog will grow this year and complement a fulfilling life coaching career.