The Urge to Purge

When I run, at the end, when I am worn out and want to take yet another walk break, I envision a finish line up ahead. and me striving toward it as the crowd on either side chants in unison for my triumphal entry with uninhibited exhilaration.

Every foot step propels me by their jubilation, until I arrive with arms raised and knees bent just steps over the line at the effort expended…

If that were only the truth.

So far, every race I participate, the end is a collaboration of mishaps.

As the miles decrease, my worries increase.  

My mind chants, “I think I can,” as my body cramps in contradiction.  And I begin to slow down.  And my legs move about as one stuck in the mud.

As I round the corner of the final lap, not at the head of the pack, but more like the middle of the road with other sweat-profused individuals, I begin to develop a large lump in my throat , that quickly transitions into a desperate need to throw up right then and there.

So, with the goal within sight, I come to a complete stop to let the internal contents cool down and the desire to dissipate.

Apparently, adrenaline, combined with the challenge, is the perfect combination to propel my stomach, and not my feet.

I am tired of holding back.

What if I continue and see what comes about?

So what if I puke.  Is that really the end of the world?  I mean, really, if you smelled me at this point, my contents might be a sweet aroma to camouflage the sweat.  (Yes, gross!)

I find I stop short quite often out of a lump of fear.

Fear holds back the impulse to propel forward.

And, impulse is replaced with indecision and doubt and wonder.

I have a lot to say.  But, I stop short because I wonder…

Maybe my words will offend someone.

What if I don’t throw in a bible verse at the end of a post, will people will think I am no longer a christian writer?

I worry if I tell you my true heart condition on a continuous basis, you may wonder if I have went off the deep end, and am in dire need an intervention. Or an exorcism.

Does anyone want to really read these thoughts of mine anyway–maybe I should just keep them to myself.

What in the world?

So, I’ve made a decision.

I will not let fear reign when I feel the urge to purge.

Right now my impulsive “gut instinct” wants to send the letter I composed days ago to the hiring team who dismissed my application for employment–without even an interview.

Since they have not found a qualified candidate, after all these months, maybe I will.  Maybe I will not hold back with niceties, and speak the passionate, raw truth about why I believe I could be a true contender.

Maybe.

 

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Facing Fear-Filled Giants

Caught a glance of an enormous four-legged creature lurking my way while on a run down an unfamiliar path the other day.  It was not quite morning, so I am not certain as to the actual dimensions, but, compared to me, this animal may have been of prehistoric proportions.

Equally startled by one another after our unexpected eye contact, I moved on my way with an extra spring in my step.

The four-legged creature turned out to be a bull–okay, more likely a cow, feeding in the pasture.  Yes, I am certain you think I am full of bull, even so, this two-ton animal caused my courage to cower.

Fear has a way of making us react with overreaction, doesn’t it?

Truth is, most fears are not the bull-sized variety, but an illusion of something bigger in size then they actually are.

I had a dream the other night where I am running somewhere.  Along the way, my shoes become stuck on this unfamiliar path.  Yet, instead of retrieving them, I continue on barefoot.  

Soon, I arrive to an area with people all around.  It is apparent I am without shoes.  Not only that, but my feet are covered in mud.  My daughter happens to be in the crowd and offers up a pair of old running shoes she retrieves from a suitcase.  

I attempt to put them on, but they do not fit my feet.  I make reference to where my shoes are, and my desire to retrieve them, when I am warned not to go on that path.  Apparently those around me feel this path is dangerous.  

I feel worry creep in as I wonder what to do.  But, before long, as with dreams being inconsistent with time, I am in front of the entrance to the woods.  Fear rises my heartbeat as I lean into the dimly lit forest.  

I hear a voice from somewhere assure me it is okay right about the time a large tube-like curvy slide appears on the scene.   I hesitate only a second and then jump into it–not a moment later, I am at the bottom and awaken exhilarated.

Reminds me of the words penned by Robert Frost about paths:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.


Fear has a way of keeping our feet firmly stuck in place.  Immovable, when we should move.  But, in the case of this dream, and in real-live life, sometimes the biggest fears do not arise from within.

Fear has a way of appearing around us in the form of concerned loved ones–cautioning us of the dangers ahead, with offers of alternate routes to dodge the dangers around unknown corners.

Sometimes it is good to receive perspective from outside sources, other times our fear-filled friends and family derail us from our path by throwing caution into our sails.

And this concern immobilizes action.  

In the end, I bulldozed through the caution, and made my way to the other side.

May I suggest this is the answer for many-a-fear?  In order to courageously conquer, we must bulldoze through two-ton giants of cautious concern on our paths?  Of course, do this as gently as possible–don’t want to awaken an angry giant.

Clueless…”My Messy Beautiful”

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I have decided it is time to go on a search.  A journey backward in time to find this missing girl before she suffocates into mere existence.  

Existence: the place where one is neither dead, nor fully alive.  

Are you familiar with the cartoon called, ‘Blue’s Clues’.  If not, basically it is about Blue, who is this adorable dog who messes up surroundings by putting his puppy prints on random objects.  His paws are actually clues, which are strategically placed for the rest of the cast to discover the answer to the mystery before the 30 minutes are up, and the episode is over.

The main character, Steve, was the only real-life person on this fictitious show.  All the other characters were cartoon in nature, Blue included.  For the longest time I thought Blue was a boy, being that he is blue and all, but I did not discover until much later that he was actually a she. 

Anyway, each episode had Steve on a mission to solve the paw-print puzzle.  With his special notebook in hand, Steve documented the evidence left from each mysterious clue.  And, by the end, with these clues in hand, Steve was able to solve the puzzle.

I hope to have a similar solution by the end of this episode called life.  If not, I will remain clueless as to how I have become who I have become.

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I had a peculiar dream the other night.  Peculiar in the sense  I only remember one portion of it.  Even so, this small piece is intensely vivid.  I certainly could blame it on the pizza the night before.  If, of course, I had the delightful dish that oftentimes awakens me hours later with strange dreams and a certain amount of heartburn. But, this piece of a dream was more like a piece of a puzzle.

A clue if you will.  Which also happened to be blue.

I stand in front of a large interior wall with a roller in hand, which is covered in thick paint. It appears I am in the middle of a project.  One being an attempt to cover the scribbles on the wall that are not entirely visible. Instinctively I know this is the assignment–to conceal them as quickly as possible.

The paint appears to be grayish-blue in color.  Similar to a hue you would see in West Elm or Crate and Barrel.

Whatever it is I’m attempting to mask, no matter how much I slather on the wall, it seems to have no impact whatsoever on concealing the messiness underneath.

I awaken somewhat disturbed.

And as the day goes by, the dream won’t leave me alone.  It occupies my many moments throughout the last couple of days.  It is almost as if this dream is actually a clue.  A clue, similar to a breadcrumb to help me find my way.

I wonder if it will unlock the clue to my mistaken identity.

You see, I can easily relate to that four-legged cartoon character who is not really the pup people think she is.

I am confused.  I am disoriented.  I have lost myself somewhere.

The real me.

I am afraid if I don’t discover these missing pieces of me soon, I will suffocate into existence.

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It was a nightmare that occurred in broad daylight.

She was blue. Or, was it the blanket that covered her–is that the blue I see?

Either way, she stopped breathing that day.  She, being my baby sister.

Her picture sat in a small, gold frame. No other snapshots of her with the exception of this one from the hospital. Her hair appeared to be blond. Hard to tell really as it was matted down and stringy in the snapshot. I am told it was brown. Is that true? Was it the lighting that made her hair appear lighter, or did it darken in the days after the hospital stay?

Her eyes are closed. I wonder what color they were. I asked my sister recently and she told me they were brown. Oh. I pictured them to be blue. Why did I not ask this question before? I have no idea.

How often did she cry? Was she a happy baby? Did I ever hold her–feed her–kiss her? Was I proud to be a big sister, since until then, I was only a little sister? Many unanswered questions from so long ago of this baby who existed for such a short period of time in life.

I was just six years old that tragic day that changed my life forever.  I remember it differently than my older sister.  My version has me standing beside my mother as she folds clothes in our small laundry room with the old washer and dryer.

I recall a smile on my mom’s face that was framed by her larger-than-life glasses.  I cannot remember a time when my mom was ever without spectacles.  I see her take a dingy, faded, brown towel out of the dryer and meticulously fold it into a square.  The edges were frayed, I think.

I hear my mom’s voice call out to my older sister to check on her as she was still sleeping.  It was late afternoon and it was time to wake up.  This is where things get fuzzy.  To this day, I recall peering over my sister’s shoulder as she removes the blanket and turns her over.  She looks strange.  She is a different color, like a bluish gray tint that covers her features.

My sister informs me, years later, that she never rolled her over.  Instinctively, she knows something is wrong when she touches her back, and because of this, backs out of the bedroom.

She suffocated.  From SIDS: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

Is the snapshot in my memory real?  Or, did I happen upon this picture moment’s later when someone else turned her over and I placed the pieces together into one scene?

As I ponder this picture, my account of the scene does not make sense since my sister is much taller than me.  How in the world did I peer over her shoulder? Did I have a step ladder to prop me up an additional six inches?

Does it even matter?

Screams fill the air, but I am not sure. It is as if someone turned the lights off on the memory of that day, along with many others after that.

The sole recollection of the moments immediately following this incident has me laying on a black and white printed couch.  I seem to be fixated on the tapestry design.  My finger traces the lines of the pattern over and over again.

I think this may be what I am attempting to cover over.  Ironically, with blue paint.  The color of her lifeless life.

And the mess resulting from her death.

We did not talk about her end on earth.  Nor did we discuss her brief life.

But, I am beginning to realize that even though she was not mentioned, this little life of hers mattered.

So much so, it is still making an impact on mine today.

I don’t know.  This is just a feeling.

I do know that I have lost me somewhere along the way.   The real me.

Who was I before this day began to define me?  

Is it possible for a single moment to change the trajectory of a life?  

Has the real you been covered up by a certain circumstance that was entirely out of your control?

Or, are there moments that are suffocating you into a mere existence: that place where you are not dead, but are not really fully alive?

Tomorrow, I will hone in a bit with Blue Clue #2 and a nightmare of a dream. I would love for you to join me.

Until then…

Josie

This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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Are You Forgiving or Merely Forgetting?

This post began as a way to help out a fellow writer and his new book on forgiveness.  The agency asked bloggers to post on this topic to help promote this novel (info and free chapter at the bottom of this post).  As I pondered what to share, I in no way knew this simple word, ‘forgiveness’, would lead me where it has.  

This story starts while on a run the other day.  Or, maybe it began some 25 years ago.  I am not sure.  Either way, my hope is this revelation will help you on your journey through complete forgiveness.  

While in the midst of a run the other day, a happy-go-lucky-four-legged-black dog desired to accompany me.  I, on the other hand, desired to stay completely clear of him.  And, in an attempt to avoid his presence, I maneuvered my way across the street.  But, this did not stop man’s best friend. Oh no, not at all.

So, I decided to stop.  And wait.  I hoped by doing this he would lose interest in my accompaniment.  Of course not.  Regrettably, since I couldn’t rid him, I decided to move on with my run with him right by my side.  I felt pity for him by doing so.  This was a large neighborhood and he had no tag showing his owner’s address.  Each step he took with me was one farther away from his home.

Still, why does he desire to follow me?  Does he not know I have an aversion to strange canines like him?  Was he not aware I was once bitten by another mixed breed of his size a couple years ago?  Did he not know I avoid all interaction with strays?

Truth is, I know not all dogs are out to get me.  And eventually my four-legged acquaintance lost interest and moved on to new smells and undiscovered territories.

I know that down deep there is still a fear there, and I know it is irrational. Fear has a way of mastering us if left unchecked.  Thankfully, I’m not as fearful as I used to be. It began to release its hold on me the day I gathered the courage to confront it by running on the street where the incident took place.  I had stayed clear of this route for over a year.  Out of fear.

By doing this one small feat, over time, the fear subsided somewhat. What has not subsided though is the feeling I feel when I come upon the front yard where it happened.  It leaves me unsettled.

But it has nothing to do with the dog.  It has more to do with the man who stood by idly as this happened. The man who did not intervene. The man who instead, stayed silent.

I know I need to move on and forgive this man.  I know he has.  No, not forgiven me–but moved on. He no longer lives there.  Still, it bothers me still.  Not too long ago, before he moved away, I saw him.  We made brief, awkward eye contact before he diverted his glance away from mine.

“Good. Don’t look at me.  You loser.  What kind of man are you not to man-up and protect a woman?  Coward.”

I am not proud of my feelings.  Actually, I thought I was over this ordeal a long time ago.  It is not like I think of him and this incident on a daily basis. It just seems to rear its ugly head when I least expect it.

And judging by the intensity of my emotions, I have not forgiven.  I guess you could say I have tried.  The quick in the mind, “I forgive you.”  There. And just as quick attempt to forget about it.  Move on.  Put this behind me.

But, I have realized that time does not necessarily heal all wounds.  Some wounds fester and cause infection.  The wound I am experiencing is a result of my lack of forgiveness.  I think maybe the words I expressed were more flippant in nature. A quick response expected of a good Christian girl.

A lack of forgiveness has a way of mastering us if left unchecked. 

This incident is only the tip of the iceberg for me.  It has sparked some deep, festering wounds I thought had been dealt with that were similar in nature as this man’s lack of response:

Memories flood me of when a stranger sexually violated me and no one came to my rescue.  I cried out and pleaded for help into the phone lines. The response to this call for help was nothing at all.  Those I thought I could trust to come to my side and carry me through this ordeal instead stayed away. I was left alone.  When we finally saw each other again face to face all I received was complete and utter avoidance of the issue.

Abused by a stranger, and abandoned by loved ones.

I decided that day I could not rely on anyone but myself.  This was not a conscious decision on my part.  But, whether or not it was intentional it does not matter.

I held this rape and the aftereffects of this crime buried deep.  Actually, I believed I had forgiven all parties involved a long time ago. And moved on.  But, I am realizing by the intensity of my emotions that I am still harboring hurt toward these individuals.

I think it is because I have attempted to forget about this.  But, forgetting without forgiving is just circling around the issue.

I think it is time to deal with this head on.  So I can truly forgive.  Once, perhaps as many times as it takes, until I can say with certainty I have truly forgiven.

Since this is only the beginning of this journey toward forgiveness, I will keep you updated on my progress as I hope it helps you on your journey.

Oh, here is the book on forgiveness!

http://www.theoutlawchronicles.com/download

 

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The Intersection of Freedom and Fear

It’s a short and sweet reminder someone needs today:

In order to experience freedom you need to let go of fear.  

You need to get out of the boat.

You need to walk on the instability of the water with the waves crashing in all directions

With your focus fixated on the face of Jesus.  

Against All Odds

I awaken out of a peculiar snapshot of a dream I otherwise do not remember.

The lever of a slot machine has already been pulled down and the numbers appear on the screen as if in slow motion…

3…3…

I open my eyes and look up at the clock on the ceiling.

3:34

Hoping that I would see 3 three’s in a row, I close my eyes and wonder if something is off in a decision I am about to make.  I doze off again as my alarm is set for 4:00am and have another few minutes to embrace slumber.

I awaken to music in my ears.  Not from the alarm, but singing in my mind is a song from ABBA, a group from the 70’s.

The words resonate in my heart as if God Himself serenades these words to me…

Take a Chance  on Me 

If you change your mind, I’m the first in line
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on ME

If you need ME, let ME know, gonna be around
If you’ve got no place to go, if you’re feeling down
If you’re all alone when the pretty birds have flown
Honey I’m still free
Take a chance on ME

Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie
If you put ME to the test, if you let ME try

Take a chance on ME
That’s all I ask of you honey
Take a chance on ME

The odds of hitting the Jackpot on a slot is 1 in 262,144.  However, I won’t lose when I take a chance on Him.  The odds become an incredible 1 in 1.

How He lines things up in our life…not a clue.

I think I will take a chance today…on HIM.  I don’t need all the T’s crossed and the I’s dotted.  He wants me to take a chance on HIM.  That is all He asks of me today.

When was the last time you took a chance on Him?  A chance, not knowing the outcome, but placing your complete trust in His odds?

Reminds me of Jesus in the garden when He takes the ultimate chance on His Father…

 “Abba, Father,” He said, “everything is possible for You. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Jesus placed His complete trust in His Father.

Are their circumstances that are out of control, or a situation that requires trust, but your hand is still on the lever of your life?  What if you released your hand and took a chance on Him today?

Take a chance on ME 
That’s all I ask of you honey
Take a chance on ME

God’s odds when we gamble on Him are a win-win scenario

Caged


To step into your destiny, you have to step away from your security -Craig Groeshel

The cage is a comfortable 72 degrees.

They call her to sing…

She is called to soar…

Success swirls around her like a cyclone attempting to keep her in place.  Success a hindrance?  It is capable of clipping God-sized dreams in the assurance of “good job.”  Compliments, currency, a smile on a child’s face can clip the wings and keep me confined to the nest.

He is waiting for me to leave the comfortable setting and fly.

He will either catch me, or I will take flight.

Either-or.  Both feet need to be together for this endeavor.  They have been known to stand in two different areas with the attempt to keep both-and.  It is safer this way.

Yet, there is no soar in safety. 

His dream for me is on the horizon. I can see it off in the distance.

Excitement on a blank page, one untarnished by print, awaits to be filled.  Cubes normally begin to fill the empty space out of habit.  Ironic really that I habitually draw symbols of confinement.  This time, though, I allow Him to fill in the blanks possibly for the first time.

It is time to close the door of this chapter in life for the other one to open wide.   How?  Who knows.  When?  Now is the appointed time to enter her dream.

The cage sits open.

A little birdie tells her, “Come, It is time for you to fly.  You will find what you are looking for on the other side.”  She risks unknowing what she will find when she exits the known for the unknown.

A slight breeze accompanies her into this new setting of new beginnings.

Question:  Could the comfort of the cage be causing you to miss your flight?