Wednesday, July 15, 2015

On Beignets, Braces and Broken Noses

Enough is enough, right? How much can we take? Is it a challenge the Universe tosses out to find the answer to that question? Is asking for Patience the best way to find things thrown in our path that demand us to find it within ourselves? Well, that's the last time I ask for that!

There are times when Enough is actually too much. When you've had as much as you can stand. When the night is too dark. And the mood is too black. When anxiety rushes in.

Ever happen to you?

I'm pretty sure most of us have had our own versions of "the darkest night." And, I'm probably correct when I say you might even have experienced a week or a month or perhaps a year of "the darkest night."

What do you do to get through it? What are your crutches or methods to rise above ... to claw to the surface?

In Finding Nemo, the good-hearted and optimistic regal blue tang Dory reminds the pessimistic and worry-wort Marlin to "Just Keep Swimming." No matter what happens -- be it sharks or jellyfish stings or getting swallowed by a whale, Dory's sweet message comes through ... Just keep swimming.

But come on ... she had short-term memory loss. She forgot if something bad happened anyway. Of course she can stay positive.

In the Christmas classic Santa Claus is Coming to Town, the penguin Topper struggles with finding his footing and is reminded to "Put One Foot in Front of the Other." The penguin is obviously troubled ... it belongs at the South Pole and is lost up at the North Pole. All alone. No family and completely lost. He's got his own issues. But somehow, Topper rises to the challenge and comes to terms with it by surrounding himself with a new family.

Heck, even filmmaker George Lucas concurs with Santa, saying: "You simply have to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. Put blinders on and plow right ahead."

Guess he must have had some bad nights before Star Wars skyrocketed his career.

There are many Biblical quotes to help you through Dark Nights. Prayers and Faith are a huge source of comfort for many. Falling to our knees can be the best way to find comfort and strength. I have Bible verses book-marked and sticky-noted on my computer screen to remind me that I'm not alone -- no matter how alone I might feel at any given time.

I have my good days. My good months. My bad days. My bad months. I'm probably just like you. It's the human condition to climb mountains and stumble into valleys. And, as Miley Cyrus' Hannah Montana sang once a long time ago:

There's always gonna be another mountain ...
I'm always gonna wanna make it move.
Always gonna be an uphill battle. 
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose.
Ain't about how fast I get there.
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side.
It's the Climb.

Yes, I really like that song. It is about Faith after all.

None of these things make the minutes of The Climb or the Darkest Nights go faster. But embedded in them is Hope. Hope that things will get better. Hope that IF you can shake off the fear and anxiety and stress -- which in the grand scheme of the Universe are short term dramas -- you will find yourself on the other side of the little black (or big black) raincloud. 

The other night, my son had an unfortunate meeting with a concrete sidewalk while in line for Beignets at a local Food Truck Rally. He passed out and face-planted. It was a terrifying moment ... and one where the calm of a mother truly set in. I was focused amidst the blood, friendly with Ryan the Fire & Rescue Medic and precise and appreciative with every doctor, intern, resident and Emergency Room employee. 

At 4:30am though, the Darkest Night stirred me and awoke me with a start. Heart racing and anxious. 

Watching him undergo a cardiac work-up yesterday, I was calm. All was well. Clean bill of health. Hours later though the implications bubbled through my mind ... why do they do that? I mean all was well. But anxiety rose to the surface. 

Yeah, I know he'll be fine. A little surgery next week. Just a little anesthesia. A butter knife procedure to push his nose back into place. But still ...

Then, there's the braces. As simple the process and as gregarious and knowledgeable as the doctor, watching my baby girl take this next medical step in stride was wonderful ... but it hit me later as well.

Oh my dramas are what they are. They are relatively small -- in the grand scheme of things. There are so many challenges faced by the people surrounding us. But they are all significant to each of us ... no matter how "small" they might be. And they invariably prompt "stuff," be it sadness, confusion, anxiety, stress, worry, emotion and result in personal struggles. 

My daughter watches a friend move away to California. People face health issues or lay-offs or struggle with building business and paying bills. Still others around us struggle with illnesses, face Cancer with grace and strength or deal with the death of a loved one. There is a lot of Stuff we have to deal with ... every single day. And some days are just harder or darker than others.

But, like George Lucas, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. Like Dory, I will keep swimming. Sometimes though, I will shake. Sometimes I will cry. 

When that happens ... when the Darkest Night kicks in ... I pray. But I genuinely find my greatest strength comes from people. In reaching out to those with whom I'm deeply connected, I find what I need to press forward. My calm comes from time and conversations with my dearest friends and my family. A hug ... a word ... a text ... an email ... a Facebook message or post ... a smile. Better still ... being held by someone who cares for me. Physical connection. A walk holding hands. Touch. My cat snuggling on my lap. My daughter reading beside me and reaching out one moment with gentle fingers to stroke my face and remind me that everything will be okay. 

It's not food or alcohol ... It's people who see me through The Darkest Night.

Guess that's good, cause Jarod and I never did get one of those damn Beignets ...
                                                                                                          -- Jenni


When I was a kid, my friends and I played lots of games. Red Light/Green Light, Red Rover, Four Square, Statues and Make Believe.

But there were times when we sat around and talked, amidst bonfires at the Indiana Dunes or late night evenings eating chocolate and drinking Mountain Dew, and our games became more thought-provoking. And in these moments, the games delved into character questions with answers giving insight into our personalities and dreams.

If you were an animal, what would you be?

If you could live anywhere, where would you live?

If you were a color, what color would you be?

If you were a character in a book, who would you be?

I remember the responses provoked laughter and demanded explanation at some point. It was childish fun. But it opened up doors to more conversation and made us think about who were were and who we hoped to become -- and why. Amazingly, I still play this game on occasion. Playing it shines a light on the truths and natures of the people close to me. It gives me a peak inside their souls. And, if I answer a question, I allow them a peak into mine.

So here's the latest question. It you were an Element, what would you be? A friend presented this question the other night and it made me think.

My first response was to describe a characteristic ... a driving force of my nature. Ah ... but that wasn't the real question. And no, I'm not talking about the Periodic Table either, so don't go digging that out. This question is more basic than that and considering my response truly made me dive deeper into my psyche and the driving force of my fundamental self.
I made a discovery ... something I should have seen a long time ago.

Funny how simple questions between friends do that.

So, back to this question. Play along with me, okay. Elements are defined (for my purposes today) as Earth, Wind, Fire and Water.

Now, from a Zodiac perspective as a Moon Child or Cancer the Crab, my element is Water. In this context, water relates to emotions and feelings ... And, yes, I am receptive and keenly perceptive ... fluid and able to seep into typically inaccessible places, altering form as necessary (sometimes as vaporous as steam or as cold as ice) and responding to the needs of others and changing demands of life's events. The Water aspect of my nature makes me a Healer. I long to wash over hurt and pain. To ease people's hearts, bodies and souls. 

However, as I considered the question more thoroughly, I have to admit that Water isn't my the fundamental Element of my deeper nature.

Water calms me. Water brings my blood pressure down. Storms excite me. Rainy days curled up with a book or some knitting are personal favorites. Walking in the rain ... kissing in the rain ... that makes me blissful. I have very fond memories of puddle stomping and spinning in crystalline raindrops. No umbrella necessary. I love the feel of rain on my skin.

Water soothes my soul. I adore the Ocean -- it's smell and the feel of it on my skin. Sitting on the deck in Key West surveying all that water eased my soul. I treasure many happy memories walking on sand, feeling the surf caress my feet. While traveling in Punta Cana, I found great joy floating on and diving into the warmth of salty aqua waves. I used to summer on a lake and one of my dearest memories of that place was laying on the pier and listening to the gentle rhythm of soft waves pulsing against the wood and poles beneath me. I felt it in the depths of my spirit.

But I am not Water. And that explains a lot. Water is my ease. It keeps me in check and in balance. It is necessary to me ... But water ebbs and flows. I don't. The tide comes in and out. I don't. I stand. I stay. I fight. When I feel, I feel deeply. And I don't back away. 

I am Fire. I am Passion and Curiosity. I am Intense and rarely Calm. In fact, trying to be Calm is something I strive for but when I arrive at that even state, I'm restless and seeking.

I don't mean to -- believe me when I say it is unintentional, but sometimes my Fire blazes through people. I'm not easy going. I'm not great at going along with something I don't agree with. I challenge. I seek to grow and become stronger. I question. I explore.  I'm bright and sometimes I even feel the warmth emanating from my fingertips when I sit meditating before a yoga class. And I light up places where my flames travel. I shine the light on dark corners without fear. I burn.

Oh, sometimes my Fire comes back to bite me. I speak too quickly and offend. It's not intentional. I'm not the easiest person to get along with at times. I'm far too outspoken and passionate about my feelings, dreams, desires, thoughts and beliefs. I honor yours and your differences. I even seek to understand them. My words come from the heart. And my feelings are passionate. 

I burn bright and I reach for the sky. In the immortal words of Alicia Keyes ... This Girl Is on Fire. 

Wow. One simple question and I discovered all that. Thanks for asking ... 

So ... what Element are you? And why? 

Just curious ....
                                                                                                                          -- Jenni