Friday, October 21, 2016

Sometimes a broken bowl becomes a life lesson

I realized today that God has been testing my patience this week and I’ve been failing every time. I’ve been moody, cranky, mean, and downright ornery most of the time (as opposed to my usual sass and snark, that is). I’ve directed it at others, at myself, and possibly worst of all, at situations over which I have no control. Nothing says “big fun” more than stressing yourself out over a situation you can do nothing to control or change. That’s a big one with me. If I am not stressing over something, I’m not sure what to do with myself. I never pray for patience though because that’s how you end up in a body cast for 6 months. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Monday kicked off my anger and frustration when I walked into my office. Oh, going to work wasn’t causing me heart palpitations, but once I got there I noticed that a bowl on my desk had been broken. My favorite bowl. I was very attached and starting the day off like that wasn’t my idea of a good time.

A few years ago I took a pottery class. I wasn’t good at it and to be honest, after the first class I really wasn’t into it. I was content to make a couple of bowls, say I’d tried something new, and move on. In the end, I made about 5 or 6 pieces and was glad I’d tried, but also realized I wasn’t going to be one of the ladies in that class who kept coming back to each session and learning more and making more. They were so into it and I love that, but it wasn’t for me. I’m not a particularly artistic person, but I enjoy dabbling now and then.

The broken bowl on my desk was one I had made in that class. It was the best of the lot. My favorite piece and the one of which I was most proud and some nighttime cleaner has smashed it and left the rubble on my desk. They didn’t even have the courtesy to leave a note of apology or any acknowledgement of what had happened. 

To add insult to injury, this person also decided it was alright to throw the broken pieces into the trash so I couldn’t even try to repair it. I’m convinced that I could put it back together again. Maybe I could and maybe I couldn’t, but I’ll never know that for sure because I was never given the chance. I’d rather have had the cracked and damaged bowl that was glued back together than to think about those pieces being unceremoniously tossed into the trash. 

I was so angry that a co-worker commented on how she’d never seen me that mad in the 7+ years I’ve worked here. I just wanted to sit in my office and cry and to be honest, I did cry a little bit. That was MY bowl! I made it and I was so proud of it and someone else was careless with it (it sat on my desk in that same location for several years without a problem). I was heartbroken. Now, I realize full well that it is just a thing. An object. I didn’t lose a loved one or a vital body part or anything like that. But I still wanted to cry.

As the week has gone on, I’ve thought about that bowl every day. I can’t bear to throw out the remains of it. It would be a knife to my heart.

Yesterday, I held it in my hands and just looked at it. Ran my fingertips along the rim, careful of the broken pieces and sharp edges. I started trying to picture in my mind what the bowl could become, now that it couldn’t be a bowl anymore. I knew deep inside that I wasn’t willing or able to part with it.

I thought about how sometimes we have to take the wreckage and remains of whatever it is and turn it into something new. Look at it from every angle. Explore all the possibilities. Then create that new thing, whatever it is.

When there is no way for something to be what it once was, do we take the time to imagine what it can become? Or are we like that cleaner, who decided to throw away the pieces without a second thought?

I’m trying to focus on what the bowl can become. How it can be transformed with a little smoothing of the rough edges. Maybe a little paint to cover the broken places. I love that stupid bowl and I’m going to love whatever it morphs into. I’m grateful for the times God takes a few minutes to smooth my rough edges, pick up my broken pieces, and help me figure out what I can become when it’s clear I can no longer be what I once was.

Monday, October 17, 2016

A year of living...

I hate trying to find titles for my blog posts. It's a pain if one doesn't readily jump to mind. I once thought of titling my blog "The Year of Living Stupidly" just because it would make me laugh. Hmmm...I might do that or change the name to something - anything! - else because I'm not fond of the name, but that's a worry for another day. And not at all what this post is supposed to be about.

Last year I declared the time between my 44th and 45th birthdays to be the “Year of Yes”. Last week I decided that perhaps the time between 45 and 46 should be the “Year of No”, but hadn’t fully defined that. I still haven’t, but the more I think about it, the more I think I’m on the right track with that idea.

Reflecting back on the past year, I re-read the blog post I wrote and the last lines caught my attention: "... but hey, it's the Year of Yes. Anything can happen, right? Maybe just about anything at all if I'm willing to take a chance and say yes." Honestly, that really seems to sum up the last year. Anything can happen if you are willing to take a chance and say yes. 

Forty-four was a lot of fun. I’ve tried to chronicle what happened – both good and bad – so that I could feel like I had a tangible list of what I accomplished, but I’m not sure I could remember everything even if I tried. I know I had some fun. I know I had some UN-fun. Life isn’t perfect and neither was my year, but it was right. It was the way it’s supposed to be. Good or bad, right or wrong, this is how it was supposed to be.

At times I found myself straying from the idea of saying yes to things and had to pull myself back around, but for the most part I did what I wanted to do and I think I challenged myself at times which was great. I needed that. Heck, I still need that!! I’m not giving up the “Year of Yes”, even if I’m morphing it into a little something different this time around. It’ll just be the “Life of Yes”, which sounds like a lot more fun to me!

I’ve thought about what “no” means to me and right now, I think having a “Year of No” will be about saying no to the things that are hurting me. The negativity. The excesses (have I mentioned that I like cake?). Saying no to self-doubt and self-blame. Saying no to beating myself up all the time when things don’t immediately go the way I want them to go. Being aware of the negative ways I treat myself or allow myself to be treated. There are really so many things that “no” involves and they don’t have to be negative things! Tell yourself “no” sometimes is the best, most positive thing you can do.

So I’m off to embrace the “Year of No” and muddle along as I figure out what that ultimately entails. I realized the other day that God is testing my patience with several things lately and I am failing miserably. It's time now to try to do better. 

Oh, to hell with that! It’s time to DO better. Period. Because not only do I know that I can, I want to and that matters a whole hell of a lot.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

After the “Year of Yes”, maybe it’s time for the “Year of No”

I’m going through a particularly negative phase right now, building up frustration because my physical therapy seems to be regressing. It was going pretty kick ass a few weeks ago and suddenly it became harder and more painful once again. I have no idea why that is happening – we haven’t changed any of the PT protocols – but the physical therapist and the mental health counselor and I are trying to work on it. My PT isn’t sure what is going on and my counselor thinks that my body is conditioned to have sex be painful, so that’s its default. When I do the therapy, my mind thinks, “Oh. Ok. Something’s in there, so it’s going to hurt. That’s what happens. We put something in the vagina and…ouch. Ok. I get it.” Unfortunately, the frustration I feel just circles around and around and then spills over into the rest of my life. I’m working to fight the negativity, but it’s a challenge. 

I suppose it’s meant to be challenging, but I hate that this one part of my life seems to be defining me now. I realize it’s all in my head (once again, I know that’s a big part of the whole problem), but I get tired of feeling that I’m allowing myself to be defined by what is happening with my vagina. Because let’s be real here, no one but me really cares what is going on with my vagina. (Once again, this is also probably a big part of the problem. Ha! I make myself laugh. I'm totally turning this into a stand-up routine when PT is done.). I don’t think other people are defining me by that body part…and it would be creepy if they are, so keep that one to yourself please. I guess I’m frustrated by my frustration. Good grief but I’m a real piece of work!

Stewing so much over my lack of PT progress has taken my focus off of being happy, which has been my general state for the past year. Good things have happened, less-than-good things have happened, but it’s all been a learning experience and while I’m a little down right now, I don’t really want to be complaining. I want to pull my head out of my heinie and see the brighter side of life again.

Last year, a few days after my 44th birthday, I declared it the “Year of Yes”. I know, I know. No one really cares anymore. I’ve talked about this much too much. Not that it will stop me this time, mind you. The basic premise of the “Year of Yes” was to start saying yes more than I say no. To open myself up to the possibility of new experiences and opportunities. To give the universe the chance to throw more things my way or, as I prefer to think of it, to be open to the things that God brings into my life.

It’s actually gone quite well, in spite of a bumpy ride at times. Sometimes I have to push myself to say yes when I’d rather say no, but I can’t recall much of anything not working out for the better once I stepped outside of my comfort zone. Those bumps just wake you up sometimes and keep you paying attention.

For some reason I feel like I need to put an end to the “Year of Yes” and I got to thinking this week that maybe up next should be the “Year of No”. That doesn’t mean doing a sudden 180 by saying no to everything all the time though. I think it’s more about saying “no” to all the negativity I tend to wrap myself up in. Saying “no” to the things that will do more harm than good. Saying “no” to things like excessive spending or excessive eating. And by saying no, finding that perhaps I’ll be kinder to myself and right now I could use some kindness. 

I’m still formulating the parameters of this new year, but much like me in a yoga or Pilates class, they will be fluid and flexible. Being so damned uptight all the time is what got me into some of my current predicament. It’s time to say “no” to that, too.