Seeking, Part 1.

Five months ago a dear friend and I were chatting on the phone. She was going through something very difficult and her head was spinning. I was feeling overwhelmed because Big Man and I didn't have a certain future. I didn't yet know if I should start packing or register the kids for summer camps in Winona. Stress was high for both of us in very different ways.

We needed something outside ourselves to pull us forward through some difficult days. I had seen that Oprah was advertising a Live the Life You Want weekend. I wondered out loud, "Could we go?" She said, "Yes. I will book it!" We looked at locations knowing it didn't matter where we went, only that we went. We chose a weekend in Auburn Hills, Michigan because the timing worked best for both of us. Because my finances were uncertain, she booked the tickets and our airfare before we fully understood what we did and before we could change our minds.

We kept this little plan to ourselves for a very long time. We weren't trying to lie or hide anything. Yet even in the midst of a time when neither of us felt like we could see straight, we knew that this thing was just for us. It was just about us and the journeys we found ourselves on and it wasn't going to be Oprah giving us a new car. It was going to be about us facing the fact that where ever we were, we, ourselves, had put us in this moment. And without speaking specifically about this, we each kept it tucked away inside ourselves. This is mine, I thought over and over again. If I talk about it, people will cast a judgement and for once, I do not care at all what others think. More than that, I don't want to field disdain, jealousy, or questions. This, I thought, is only for me. Jessie did the same 

And so it was the exact carrot we needed. It pulled us through some tough times and I confess, I forgot I had even signed up. She'd say, "Can you get the hotel?" and I'd think," For what?" and then laugh. Oh yes. We are going away. Alone. Without kids or spouses...just us. 

I know some people find Oprah too much. Big Man likes to make fun of her magazine. "Whose on the cover this week?" he'll ask, but I know what she is about. I listen when I can to her Super Soul Series and I have heard her enough to know that really understanding, seeking, trying to discover your purpose is something that matters enough to her that she created this class/weekend to help others.

She spoke without pause for two hours on the first night. She wove her own personal stories into the essential message that this life as a human is a gift. For so many reasons, it is just as likely that we could not be here or show up in a different form. We could be a rock or an ant or a piece of grass. But each of us in this LARGE STADIUM filled with THOUSANDS arrived on this planet in human form. Despite the size and numbers, it was quiet. You could hear the people breathing next to you and it seemed as if her words just dropped onto each us, settling into our hearts, expanding our brains, filling the empty spaces we were seeking to fill. It was a moment full of life. 

Set into the context of time and space, this gift of our own unique life seems small and yet she believes that because of this amazing chance that we showed up as human, we have an offering. Our purpose is to heed the call of our lives. We are deadened so often to the call. We get caught up in life drama that we forget to listen and pay attention.

Sitting next to Jessie was an 80 year old gentlemen accompanying his wife. This was a dream come true for her and yet he was in it as much as she. He laughed, he danced (yes! we all danced), he listened and learned and felt happy to be receiving the messages.  I was inspired by his presence, his interest, his desire to be willing to keep learning and to not stop asking the questions....why am I here?

I have some clear ideas about why I am here. I have goals and I feel called to act on them, but I am easily derailed by the business of life. It would be an understatement to say the last seven months really knocked me for a loop. It seems there is never a right time to go for what you want. The only time, ever, is now. I have also spent much of life feeling bad for being so "sensitive", so overwhelmed, so easily irritated and bogged down by all that life seems to offer.  

What I was seeking was a shift in my thinking. I knew I needed to learn how to see things differently, in a more positive way. To see my attempts at stumbling as just experience. And that was a big lesson from the first night. Any perceived "failure" is really just information. It's a lesson in what did not work and an opportunity to self-correct. 

And so I am on a big self-correct mission inside my head.

I am thankful for that pinprick of light on an awful April day when what I wondered out loud was really a question from a very deep space inside me. I asked and we both said YES! to something we did not completely understand. Though I didn't exactly know what I was seeking, it seems the universe did.

There are many lessons from the fourteen hours I spent with some truly gifted seekers so generous in their desire to help us all along on our own quests. I will share more as I sort through it, and yet I know what I can capture with words will be inadequate because I am only just getting started. But the important part is that.... I started.

Using my wisdom for a change.

I started to write about some of the following: unemployment, eating disorders, social status, raising a sensitive child as a sensitive adult, middle school-the weird, cool, nerdy, and lame, letting people down, and the writing life.
All of these things are important to me, but I couldn't hone in on any of them. Every word felt forced, as if I was writing for a cheesy parenting magazine in which I fake being the "expert."
The truth is I am not an expert in any of these things. I have a doctor in my home and Google at my fingertips and while that might seem like a boon to some, let me tell you I feel just as uncertain as the next person. But at 45, I have gained some wisdom and here is one truth I know:  transitions are hard. We happen to be going through several. I am getting used to be the main parent again. I am helping my daughter through some difficult times, I am prepping my son for the onslaught of middle school, and I am contemplating my own future and goals.
I was gifted with two younger women in my life who were listening to me weigh in about various ramifications to the decision I am facing. I talked through it and they nodded and finally one looked at the youngest of us and said, "See? This is what age does. It gives you perspective and you realize no decision is truly the end of the world. I am just now learning this."
I was struck by how someone has credited my age for something (in this youth-obsessed culture, age seems to be a major minus) and how I must have sounded more confident than I felt as I weighed out the pros and cons. Later in this same week, I was voicing another concern about this same opportunity and my companion at the time said, "Well, this won't be a problem for you because you have experience with life. You get it."
And I am really trying to own all of this because they are right.  At some point our experience equates to wisdom if we allow ourselves to see it and acknowledge it and claim it.
And so in a startling change of pace, I am not letting these transitions and choices beat me down. I am riding them. I am letting the river of chance and opportunity and change take me knowing that wherever it leads, I will be just fine. My record of landing on solid ground, so far, is pretty good.

I received some flowers yesterday for no reason from a friend I met on this blog. I was touched and humbled by this small act of kindness and when I look at these flowers I am thinking of the people in Fergusun. I am thinking of James Foley and his family and all journalists risking their lives to tell the truest stories they can. I am thinking of  every single victim of a senseless shooting. I am thinking of my little town struggling to find ways to make a dent in the mental health issues plaguing our young adults. I am thinking of so many parents who lose their children to suicide. And I am thinking of how the summer of 2014 became the summer of the ice bucket challenge for ALS. I am thinking of those who suffer from ALS, a debilitating and heartless disease that shows no mercy. I am hoping against hope that with every single bucket poured and every dollar raised, those afflicted and those who are caregivers can feel the love and compassion. It is truly amazing to watch the simple act of pouring water turn into a viral cause that has raised millions of dollars. It is a bouquet of humanity in a desert of so much sadness.

These flowers are speaking a certain truth to me. They say, "I care about you. Thank you for being you. I am here for you." The truth is not always so pleasant, however. When we tell the truth with our words and actions, people don't want to listen. The truth is that racism still exists. The truth is some people are heartless and cruel. The truth is that ALS is so ugly people don't want to hear about it. The truth is that some people will take their own lives and we we will never understand why.

What is also true is that some people send flowers for no reason. The truth is that one small act can create a chain of similar actions that brings national attention to something previously ignored. The truth is that when I speak the truth, some people may not want to hear it because it isn't convenient to them. The truth is that I, too, don't want always want to know the truth because it hurts.

So we take in what we can. We listen and digest and turn over and set aside and move forward or hide out and some of us act. We often feel our little acts mean nothing but then I think of the ice buckets!

And probably more than anything, that is what I do. I think. I think of a victim or a senseless act and in that moment, I want to believe I am somehow lifting up the suffering. I hold the name of a person or place in my head and heart for just a few seconds on a continuous cycle and I want to believe that these seconds add up to minutes and hours and days and months and since time is never-ending no one is ever truly forgotten.

Little actions like flowers and pouring ice water on your head or holding a thought may seem small in the context of our overwhelming problems. But small is good and we are good and we can do these little things and we need to keep doing them. Just keep doing them.