The Absence of Fear

One of my favorite people in the world recently text messaged me and said that he was no longer afraid. Of what, I asked? And he said anything, he was no longer afraid of anything. And I started thinking about that myself.

It is said, and I truly believe, that the decisions we make in life are based out of one of two things: either love or fear. Fear can be a very powerful thing keeping us in place and keeping us from moving or doing. Fear is a waste of time.

It  dawned on me that in the past 18 months, I have said goodbye, I have lost, both of my parents, I have said goodbye to four siblings, I have said goodbye to the man I would thought I was going to marry, and who I thought would be the love of my life. I have said goodbye to dear friends whonI still miss very much.

And you know what, I’m still here. 

After all the pain, all the commotion, all the struggle and heartbreak, finally when the dust settles. you realize that there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Because none of it kills you. My heart still beats, I’m still me. I’m still happy. When you go through life and experience the most painful things you can in a lifetime, you still come out on the other side okay, and alive, and still intact, and still You. You still have the ability to love, and laugh, and believe, and hope, and dream, and smile, and feel, and live.

You then realize there’s nothing to be afraid of. You’ve already lived through the worst of it. So what else is there to fear?

Rejection? Please. The man I thought I was going to marry cheated on me with prostitutes and strippers. Next! Loss, or grief? I held both my parents hands as they passed away. I’m good. Lost love? See rejection above. I’ve got that covered and I’m good. Family? No, I’m good with that too. Loss of friends, I’ve been through that. And I’m still here. And I’m good. And I’m still happy. And I’m still ME.

Those experiences while incredibly painful, only added to the depth, Bredth and width of me. Of my soul, my ability to love, of my ability to be me. All of those experiences blend in to an incredible person who has had an incredible journey. You just have to find the gift and all of it.

And that’s the thing about life – in the absence of fear you find, Freedom. 

And that perhaps is the most amazing thing of all.

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The Storm

It’s been hard to avoid the news about hurricane Irma. Indeed it landed and today came through Atlanta. Many people were dreading the storm, but I was looking forward to it.

Storms remind me of my father. We would sit out and watch the storms roll in, and watch the lightning, and the intensity as this skies grew dark. He’s the one that taught me all about storms and how to smell them in the air, and listen to them in the wind. I don’t think there’s too many things more beautiful than watching a storm in the sky.

I made sure that all the appropriate safety measures have been taken. The small plants have been secured and the patio furniture brought in. So then it was just time to relax and enjoy.

I spent my time relaxing reading, watching some TV, and enjoying some down time. And then the power went off about 5 p.m. I have a confession: I love power outages. Because then you’re really forced to take it down to the most simple of things. There’ no technology, no TV, no distractions. There is quiet, or the sounds of the storm outside. And there is not much cozier than being inside during a good hard storm.

So I did some work, reading and writing, by the window in the sunlight before it got dark. And when it got dark, the candles came out and the lantern and the batteries for the radio to be on low just in case another weather report came through. 

And I cooked a wonderful meal on the gas stove during the heavy wind and rain. Delicious chicken fettuccine alfredo. And I cooked in the silence of the house, and the sounds of the storm and rain hitting the window. And it was beautiful. And then I sat comfortably at my coffee table so I could write while eating, and enjoyed my delicious meal.

And since then I’ve been enjoying the quiet time in the Darkness, listening to the wind and the rain against the windowpanes. Petting my cats, reading my books, and doing more writing. 

When we are forced to slow down and pay attention to the small things, that’s when we see the everyday Beauty. That is awesome when we can hear our own thoughts, our own minds. But in order to do that we have to be at peace with things ourselves, and that’s why I think some people don’t like the silence  because they can hear their demons.  But I doubt with mine a long time ago  and so now there is only peace. 

And the storm also makes me think of my father and how he would love a storm like this. And I miss him very much. And I will love him always.

The only thing that could have made this night more perfect, was to snuggle up next to my man. To feel his strong arms around me, as I lay my head on his chest, and hear the Rhythm in his breath.

So don’t run away from the storms in life, those storms can wash away the ugly memories, the pain, the hurt. Those storms are a beautiful reminder that every bad time is temporary, and that there is always a new beginning.. 

When the storm is over, the clouds break and the sky is blue again. And you are left with clean. 

So sit back, take a deep breath, light a candle, and enjoy the storm. It can be one of life’s most beautiful gifts.

The Sass is Back

It’s amazing what a good hair cut and color can do. And after I got my hair done by the best stylist in the world, I felt my sassiness back in full force. And it’s about time. I forgot was this kind of confidence felt like. It must look good on me too because I have recived more random compliments than ever. Going to the grocery,p store the gym, the car wash, everywhere there seems to be complements given to me.

Life is to be lived, loved, to be celebrated, to be experienced.  And it is time that the Sass was present.

And I shall not contain it. I will let out the sass, the feisty every chance I get.  Because  girls should be feisty and sassy and spirited and all those wonderful things. We should be wild and free and magnificent.  Forget about obeying and following the rules. Well behaved women rarely make history and they definably don’t have as many great stories. And I have stories, and many more before I am done.

I have been taking care of everyone else since for over 8 years now.  It is time I take care of me, take care of what I want. I put my nephew through college, took care of both of my parents while they were ill and dying, holding her hands and singing them hymns as they passed from this world into God’s hands. I’ve helped my siblings in life too. And last but not least I walked on eggshells for years and stuffed to myself into a box to please a man who ended up cheating on me with prostitutes and strippers anyway. No more.

They say that happiness is a choice. I say yes and no.  Yes, you can decide to be happy in any situation, but sometimes that discomfort or unhappiness motivates us do things that need to be done. If we are not happy in our job, or relationship, our house our car, and whatever, we do have the option of change. Do not dismiss that discomfort too soon and simply paint a smiley face over the unhappy. It won’t work.

What I’ve done, is let that discomfort and I don’t happiness motivate me to move things around to where they need to be to be happy. I’ve said goodbye to negative things and people. Anyone who wants to say that I’m a drama queen, control freak, or have alterior motives. Those kinds of people will not be in my life. People who lie or cheat or manipulate, those thank you. I used my discomfort as a motivation to put my life back in order and get back to Happy.

I was not happy, I grieving and adjusting to the more normal. Finally I am back to my old sassy self.  But not everyone things it is a great thing.  Well, what they think doesn’t matter anymore does it?  What matter is that I am happy.

I am talking about being happy within you with yourself.  being comfortable in your own skin.  And indeed I have had that for a long time.  But this IS different.  I have s no one to answer to, no one to watch over, no one to protect. So my life can truly be whatever I wanted to be.

You must decide that you love yourself and take care of yourself.  You must decide that you are happy even after all the “improvements” are done.

It also takes a lot of work to be and stay happy.  Just like a garden, you must constantly tend to your life and keep the weeds out.  You must make sure that those who are in your life are contributing to your quality of life in some way, or what is that point?

I realized today that part of that is keeping out anyone who makes me feel less than. For 3 years I told every one I could that Mom was sick, she was in trouble and she would die of malnutrition if someone did not help me get her to a doctor.  Three years And no one heard me, no one beleived me mo one took it seriously. I was told I was just being dramatic. No, I wasn’t.

But now I’m in a position where people like that don’t need to be in my life. Because when people don’t believe you, when people are constantly accusing you of things or constantly being negative to you or about you, it sucks the life out of everything. And you will never be happy if you have all of those negative people around you.

It’s amazing what a haircut and color will do. And actually all it really did was remind me of what has been there the whole time. It reminded me that I’m worth it. Looking in the mirror with this beautiful hair cut that says sassy, reminds me that I have to love myself enough to sometimes have tough love with other people. I have to love myself enough to follow the goodness. And I have to love myself enough to flip the bird at anyone who doesn’t like it.

So when you see me coming down the road, radiant, walking confidently, smiling, feeling good, just no the Sass is back.

Sass

 

Falling into place

There are times in life when we have worked really hard and then all of the sudden it’s almost like a switch gets flipped, and everything just starts falling into place. This is where I find myself now. The past 18 months have been a test to every part of me, and every part of my life. But finally, everything is falling into place.

My success is by choice, not by chance, and not my luck. While I have been incredibly blessed and for that I am very grateful, I’ve also worked my butt off to get through an accomplished everything that I have. And now in the beginning of fall when there is so much activity around me, there is also calm.

Every night I pray, and meditate, and take time to reflect on what I want for the next day and what I’ve done in the past day. But more than anything I pray and I give thanks for everything that I’ve been given. Because right now in this moment, I have everything for which I have prayed. There is only one thing in my life that has not come to fruition, and I should know about that soon. Everything else God has given me out of his Grace.

And now in the face of new possibilities, a new house, and the new memories, and new love, and a new life…I am excited if not slightly overwhelmed.  This is it, what my life is supposed to be: work hard, play hard, love hard, believe hard, pray hard and live easy.

There has bee a lot of blood sweat and tears to get here.  I have traveled thousands of miles by foot, by car, by plane and by every heartbeat. I have been down on  my knees praying and crying, and I have been so overwhelmed that I could not get up. In the first weeks of my parents death, I needed help to just be a functional human. How in the world did I do it?  How did I survive, much less function, much less thrive?  It could only have been only God’s Grace.

And here I am now, back in the land of the living, doing better than before.  My parents would be proud of me I think. After all they are the ones who instilled in me the power of faith and prayer, the belief and knowing that while it may be hard, you will get through it.  And they are the ones who whisper to me in my dreams that life can be all that I imaged.  They loved me enough for a lifetime.

And now, as I watch it fall into place I know That this is my time to be happy.

With Great Honesty Comes Great Truth

There are times when what someone does or says that is so expected it takes you a minute to gather yourself, process and respond. That was the case last week when an unexpected apology happened was given to me.  It threw me for a loop. I needed time to process. And when I did and we finally had a conversation, it was truly healing for both of us – Twelve years after it all happened.

And there was no yelling, there was no blame, there was no defensiveness or demands.  He never demanded anything of me in this conversation, and I did not demand anything of him. It was simply an exchange – he wanted to make amends and allow me to tell him all of how he hurt me.

And I did. And something amazing happened.  For four hours we had a very honest conversation about what happened. About how it affected both of us and why, about the details and things we remembered, and some things we had forgotten.  And I cried. A lot.  Even after so many years passed, even after going through it and processing and “getting over it” on my own, it was still cathartic to speak freely and honestly about how it all developed.

And he took responsibility for his part – all that he had done and said, all the heartbreak and misery.  He told me that I truly did everything I could to save the relationship, but because of the issues that were inside of him, it didn’t work. What happened had nothing to do with me.  And he wanted to acknowledge it and apologize. Because at the time of our relationship, he was in so much pain himself that he did not see what he was doing, how he was doing it or the damage that was being done to both of us.

It takes a lot of strength and courage to have that conversation. And I applaud him. I respect him greatly. In that moment, he was the man that I truly knew he could be.  He was strong and humble and honest and sincere and kind and noble and human and vulnerable. And he allowed me to be all of those as well. In that moment, his spirit soared above the highest mountains of self-discovery and alchemy into the calm streams of empathy and understanding.  In that moment he was the greatest man I have known.

And he took me to task too. When I told him about still having trouble being vulnerable, he pointed out that was my choice after this much time had passed. And he was right. He also held me accountable when I told him I was not sure if I believed someone could love me as much as I could love them…He said if I settle for less than what I really want in a relationship or partner, then I am setting the relationship up to fail in that aspect, because I would not be happy in the long run.  And he was right.

When you are truly honest and neither party is angry or defensive you can be open to hearing such searing truths. And so I changed my mind right there.  No more settling for half of what I want, I want the whole thing, the fairy tale. And from now on, I will not move forward without it.

With the honesty came another unexpected gift:  The release of the responsibility of my relationship with my last ex Michael. He was broken. And no matter what I did or how hard I tried, it was not enough for him. The more I loved Michael, the more he loved to hate me, the more he loved to make me pay, the angrier he was at me and the more he lashed out.  The happier I was, the more determined he was to destroy that happiness, even though it was what he wanted to be a part of most.

The reason mine and Michael’s relationship failed had nothing to do with me or my parents passing. It had to do with him and his issues. There was nothing I could do to fix it because that damage was done to him long before we met.  And there will be nothing the next girl will be able to do or the girl after that, or the girl after that…Until Michael fixes the issues left over from the abuse he suffered, he will do to others what his abuser did to him. He will destroy all those with whom he comes in contact.

But none of that has to do with me and was never my responsibility to fix.

Moving forward what I am responsible for is making sure that I accept what I am worth, what I truly want and make sure that I never settle for what might be fun in the short term. I am responsible for making sure that I am aware of my “dating pathology,” or pattern.  Now I that I realize it, it is up to me to change it. And if I don’t change it, then I have no right to complain about it or blame others.

The amazing thing is that all this truth and healing came from one man being willing to say “I am sorry.” And then truly being willing to talk, discuss and understand.  All this truth and healing came from from a simple act.

Do not underestimate the power of compassion, of empathy, of honesty, of speaking your truth without hesitation, without ego and without agenda.  If you are sincere, God will take care of the rest. Because from great honesty comes great truth and only great things can come afterward.

This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Our Own Imperfections

Within Our Own Imperfections

I’m learning that within our own imperfections we find the greatest truths, unconditional love, appreciation and a mirror of who we really hope to be on the inside on good and bad days. – Jennifer Jo Clark Singleton

I have long written about our faults, how they make us beautiful, human, complicated, deep and of course, flawed. One of the things these imperfections also do is help us find those greatest truths, not only about ourselves, but others in our lives. Within our own flaws, we can see a deeper.

It’s easy for others to like us and even for us to like ourselves on the good days. But what about the bad days? Those days when we know we are short tempered, overly emotional, angry, irritable, impatient and just bitchy. When we are tired, hurt, frazzed, discouraged, insecure and un-pretty. Those days when we really want to be the super hero we try to be, but just can’t seem to find the energy.  We are human and that is not always pretty.

Those people who love us anyway see us on a deeper level, because they see us even when we are not proud of ourselves. It’s all part of really getting to know someone, faults and all, from the inside out, from the soul to the toes. When we see that person is not perfect, they suddenly become real and are no longer 2-demensional. They are suddenly human, like us. Within our own imperfections we find God, Grace, compassion, comfort and healing.

I am going to have those bad days, as are you and everyone else in the world. Because we are human. We will lose our tempers, say the wrong things, lash out and just get irritable. Then we think about what was done or said and find our deeper selves. We feel remorse, and we apologize. we rebuild, we re-trust. We try and in trying, we become better – on those good days and even when we fall short on the bad days.

Within our imperfections, we strive to be better.

And within our flaws we can realize our dreams as well. We strive and work hard  toward making the “Me” we want to be, with the lives we want to have, reality.

I want to take long walks down roads and trails with yellow and red leaves. I want to make delicious meals in a big kitchen with an island. I want to have friends over and drink wine on the deck or patio. I want a yard in which children can play and I want laughter and love running down a hallway leading into bedrooms full of toys and fairy tales. And I want someone with which to share those wonderful things. Someone to laugh with, kiss at midnight and talk into the early hours. Someone whose flaws I can live with, and who can somehow, see the deeper treasure in the real 3-dementional me.

So I strive, everyday to be better. And when I fall short, as I will, I find comfort in the compassion and understanding of the hand that takes mine, the voice that says it is OK, the smile that re assures me that being human is just fine because I am in good company. And as I look in the mirror, as I look out to my friends and loved ones, and see them bare souled with imperfections too, I know it is true.

After the Butterflies

I have had many conversations as of late about love and relationships. Maybe it is the Universe wanting me to make sure I know exactly what I want this time moving forward. And in these conversations it is amazing to me how many people want the butterflies and passionate fireworks these days.  They want the fire and spice where you can’t wait to roll in the bed, sleep all tangled up in each other, if you sleep at all.  They want how your heart beats faster when you see that person enter into a room and you cannot keep your mind off of them during the day.

But not me. I do not want the firework or the obsession of not being able to think of anything else.  I do not want the butterflies.  Why?  They are illusions. I don’t trust the butterflies and the faster heartbeats and the fireworks.  I want what comes after the butterflies.

It is alarming to me that so many do not realize that love is what happens after the butterflies.  And after the butterflies comes a feeling of calm. It is looking at your partner and feeling totally free and completely at home. It is not rushing through the day, because you have to see that person right now.  It is the calm knowledge that they will be there when you get home.

After the butterflies is not sleeping all tangled up, glued to each other…instead it is waking up with sleepy eyes and finding comfort in the sound of them breathing next to you. It is reaching out for them when you are not really awake, not really asleep, because you want to know that they are there.  It is waking in to morning breath kisses that make you smile because it is what gets you day going even more than coffee. It’s not the up and down roller coaster of wondering what is going to happen next, it is the comfort and calm of knowing inside jokes, stories and history.

After the butterflies is knowing how your partner likes their coffee, or eggs, or steak.  It is laughing at silly things that no one understands but the two of you. It is sock feet and warm blankets in the winter while watching their favorite movie that you think is silly, but you watch it anyway just to be close to them…

The last man I lived with I truly loved with all of my heart.  I mean I was head over heals. Nothing made me happier than to hear him get ready in the morning, or to snuggle up next to his arm at night, or reach out and touch his leg with mine was we slept.  It was pure bliss.  I loved cooking for him and doing the laundry and watching him fold it. I loved lazy Saturday mornings and afternoons listening to music.  I even loved when we did housework and cooking together.

Because to me, those are the moments of which life is made.  Those wonderful, mundane, brilliant, normal, everyday moments that lead to la lifetime of happiness. And if you can find someone with whom you can be blissful with in those moments, then that is indeed a wonderful life….after the butterflies. Not everyone feels the same way however. My ex certainly did not and went looking for the butterflies with prostitutes and strippers, but I digress (I’m not bitter).

The butterflies fade, and many times that partner fades off into the sunset as well.  I want what comes after the butterflies because that is what lasts. How do you find that? In don’t know exactly. I don’t think there is a set formula.  But I do know that after the butterflies there is peace in the relationship, and that whatever brings you Peace will bring you happiness.  So look for a relationship that brings you Peace. That makes you feel free and comfortable and at home.