Saturday, February 29, 2020

Won't Change Anything

     I am still having issues coming to terms with how things went last year. I understand so many things could have been worse. I understand I have much to be grateful for. I understand all the good that is out in the world and that has been showered on me, on all of us, during what were months of one step forward, two steps back.
     And yet I still have issues with anxiety sneaking up on me, causing me to freeze mid thought, to need to just sit and scroll through my news feed, to engage in completely mindless activity to numb my thoughts, to keep my mind from racing out of control.
     I struggle with the concept of purpose. How do you know what your purpose is? How do you fulfill it? How do you live it out every day? How can you actually be present in your day to day life in a way that is meaningful and has a positive impact on your environment?
     I mostly keep these questions and doubts in check as I am so busy in my day to day activities. But just when I have the chance to slow down to read or try to ease my way to sleep for the night, my mind decides to take a little wander on its own. It never goes well.
     And then there are moments like today. Clarity seems crystal clear as my purpose melds with my thoughts and actions, as ruled by my heart.
     My co-worker let me know that he wants to buy a copy of my picture book for a little boy he knows that has delayed speech. He said this four year old is just starting to take an interest in books and reading and that my book seems to be the sort that will hold the his interest.
     I have a copy of my book that I will give to my co-worker. I had the idea today to buy a series of small gifts to include with my book, green jars of clay, green balls, Green Goo coloring pages, and markers. I spent several hours walking around town on this sunny, briskly cold day, searching for all these little gifts.
     The quest quieted my mind, kept me engaged in the moment, and made me feel like I was making a small difference. I know it won't change anything for this young boy and his struggles, but I hope it will allow him to feel cared for and thought of, that it will bring happiness, at least for a moment.
     As I went on my journey today I encountered a homeless gentleman. I went in the gas station and bought him some snacks. For less than three dollars I bought cheese and crackers, chocolate chip cookies, and a cola. I know it wasn't that nutritious, but it was comfort food. I know it won't change anything for this man, but my heart felt called and calmed by doing this.
     I walked over to him and asked how he was as I offered him my small token. He thanked me profusely and asked if I wanted to hear his story. I said I did, and I meant it. He told me he broke his arm and it was slow to heal. His right arm sported a battered. dirty cast. He said he was a truck driver and he lost his job. It wasn't long before he lost the place he lived at. He was trying to get to a friend in town that could help him.
     He said I sounded so familiar to him. I have worked in logistics for almost seven years now. It is entirely possible that at one of my jobs I dispatched him on a truck load I was moving for a customer. You never know. We shook hands and wished each other well.
     It won't change anything, but at least for a moment it felt like it changed the world.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

And That Has Made the Difference

     The last several years have thrown me for a loop. I have to be honest, some days feel like each moment is spiraling out of control. I was definitely one of those kids that assumed the adults had or should have it all together, whatever that means. Even though a lot of my experiences as a child never proved this theory out, I still operated fervently under that belief well into my thirties, before I realized that day may never come.
     Just when I think I may have mastered a new skill, overcome a difficulty, or adjusted to a new definition of normal, an event or moment will come along to make me rethink my approach or my view of life or the world.
     Some members of my family have struggled with health issues for years, and some have only recently had to face the struggles that many of us will face if we have the privilege of reaching certain ages. As my beloved grandma, who lived to be 99, always said, "Growing old isn't for babies, it's hard work."
     It is hard work. It is humbling. It is frustrating. It is frightening. And there can also be moments of joy and happiness. I had a friend comment to me that caring for a parent isn't any different than caring for a child. My instinct was to scream that is one of the most off base things I have ever heard. I howled in my soul.
     The person meant well. They are currently mired in the day to day of taking care of young children. They have never really had to care for a parent. To me, it is so different, when the roles are reversed. I wanted to shout at my friend, "Your child is healthy and learning and growing. You see a happy outcome coming someday. They will be fully actualized and go live their own grown-up life. That isn't always the case when caring for a parent. Sometimes the best you can hope for is that they will be able to take a few steps again. Sometimes not even that.
     Last year was the year my dad faced many difficulties with his health and I had to take on some active caring that was difficult for him and me, and also my mom. She has observed more than once in the past that she feels I love him more. That is not necessarily true, but to try to explain that might lead to more pain, more words said than need be said, more difficulty than help. She and I have never been the bonded sort that some mothers and daughters are. Any reasons why, really are not relevant any more through these changed times and circumstances.
     My way to deal with how she and I relate with each other has been to avoid conflict by minimizing contact, by being very focused in interactions. But is that really helpful?
     A dear friend of mine had a very loving relationship with her mother. The two of them always an example of what a faith filled parent/child relationship can look like over a lifetime of growing and changing circumstances. I was blessed to be loved by both this ladies. Unfortunately, my dear friend's mother became very ill. Her mother had a brief reprieve and then the illness came back worse then ever. And through their difficult circumstances I was able to watch my friend and her mother continue to care for each other, to watch what it really means in those hard times to love on someone.
     And another friend of mine when through a different type of painful experience as she was betrayed by friends and family after being abused by someone that was supposed to be called for life to love, protect, and honor her. I watched as she rose from the ashes of those experiences, and now feels a calling on her life, to share a different sort of truth with others, to love those that are hard to love. She does this on a daily basis.
     Having these women in my life, leading by their actual examples of words tied to their deeds and triumph over their circumstances each day, has called and convicted me to work on how I interact with the people in my life. I wish I could say it has changed everything dramatically, like magic all pain has gone, but I cannot.
     I can say that it has helped to work a change in me, it has started a healing in my heart and mind. I work on trying to be more present and positive in my own interactions with people, especially my mother. Is it perfect? No. She still has the ability to push just the right button and then I momentarily throw my convictions to the wind and snipe back with my words. Overall though, we have had better conversations, fonder reminisces, and more of an ease in our time spent together. Do I think she feels this? Maybe. I know I feel it. And that has made all the difference.