“When you come to the edge of all of the light you've known,
and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown;
faith is knowing one of two things will happen.
You'll have something solid to stand on,
or you'll be taught how to fly.”
I've read this poem by Patrick Overton aloud more times than I can remember. I use it as part of a closing blessingway for the pregnant mothers to be in my childbirth classes, and have for years because it seems so perfectly suited to the unknowns of labor and birth.
But, it's just as well adapted to the many other uncertainties life throws at us. And for most of us, life can toss some crazy and unexpected scenarios. I’ve seen it in my own life and in the lives of those around me lately. Change is everywhere, blowing in the wind~ things that seemed stable and normal before are all of a sudden not: relationships, jobs, economic stability.
Everyone knows change is natural, but it's also really uncomfortable, especially when you really have no freaking idea what's next.
Generally, I like to plan, analyze and ponder (and sometimes end up way over thinking things.)
But I’m finding that sometimes, in uncharted waters, all that planning just stresses me out even more, because even after careful consideration, I still have no freaking idea how things will turn out.
At some point, I suppose I’ve grown tired of trying to figure things out, and am trying to just be open to what’s next.
Trusting the universe is an easier concept in theory than reality, and I know that I have a long way to go in the endeavor. But, for me, just letting go of even part of that illusion of control and being open, even just for a small while... that was a big step for me.
And it was the right step, because I found that when I was just open to whatever good things were out there, even if I had no idea what they were going to look like, well... good things came my way, and lots of them.
But being open was just the first step. Once some potentially good thing comes into your universe, you have to decide whether to take more steps towards it. There is effort involved in most cases~ a door doesn’t just open and engulf you. No... you actually have to choose to go through it, and in most cases, you won’t know exactly what’s on the other side or how it will work out.
Which is where faith comes in, and learning to leap through the door and into the unknown, trusting that there will be a solid place to land, or that you’re gonna learn how to use your wings.
Just this morning, as I was thinking and re-thinking a "next step" in my life, this popped into my email from Bassam Tarazi:
"You’re supposed to be unsure. You’re supposed to wonder. You’re supposed to be scared. But I promise you that the trying you do in the face of doubt will be more interesting and more fulfilling than doing something you’re certain of.
Sometimes we just have to let go and summon chaos."
And so, I'm learning to leap, and I'm actually enjoying it quite a bit. I'm flying by the seat of my pants a good deal of the time, but at least I'm in the air.
How about you? Any leaps of faith you're taking, or wishing you had?
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We've all seen her....the exhausted mother in the grocery store with her crying children, her messy clothes and hair and looking like she's about to start crying herself. If we're honest, most of us have probably been that mom as well.
I can remember clearly being in that position, where you are too tired, your usual coping skills are a distant memory, and it feels like everyone in the world is judging you.
When I see that mom these days, I usually want to go give her a big hug and tell her that really, it's gonna be OK.
But since many people find it alarming to be hugged by random strangers, I instead usually just offer a smile, one that I hope lets her know she is not alone and that it will get better.
Parenting in the younger years seems to lend itself to the most to public meltdowns by all family members, but really,at any stage of parenting, most of us are gonna have days or weeks where we can use reminders that the hard times will pass, that we haven't ruined their kids, and that we're doing a good job.
As woo woo as it sounds, I really think happy thoughts make a huge difference in life.
I've shared Happy Thoughts cards that I've made here before~ positive affirmations you can print, cut out and post around places to remind yourself of the things you need to hear.
But lately, every time I see that frazzled mom, I realize that she's probably stretched too thinly to seek out those happy thoughts for herself, and she needs them most of all. I've also been thinking what a wonderful thing it would be if those of us with some happy thoughts to spare, could get a few of them to her.
So, I made a new set of Happy Thoughts, and these are meant to share. If you print and cut them out, they should end up roughly about wallet size, so they're easy to carry with you. You can get the full sized version by clicking below.
When you see a parent unloading cranky kids from car seats, stick one of these on her windshield. Hand one to the mom who has a crying kid hanging on each leg and another throwing all of the groceries out of the cart. Your friend with the angsty and experimental teen could probably use the love. And the mom who has well groomed and well behaved children? Give her one too because you never know what's going on underneath the shiny exterior.
I hope you'll take on the mission is to spread a little love and happy thoughts. It's quick and easy, and it might just make all the difference in the world. Even if you don't do the cards, at least give the smile. A mom who's feeling the love is going to be able to do a better job in her parenting work, and have kids who in turn are nicer~ and the ripples of happiness continue out into the world.
So, what do you think?
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Whatever you do, go out and spread some happiness today!
Sometimes life is grey...literally. That's fine, I suppose, if you're into grey, or if it's an occasional foggy day where you get to wear a cozy sweater, snuggle up and drink hot chocolate. But when it's surrounding you all day, every day, it can begin to wear on on even the sunniest of people.
I once lived in a town where it rained for 46 days straight. The grey skies crossed way over the line from cozy to dreary, and seemed to leave most people feeling bleak and decaying. The first day the clouds parted and I saw blue sky again, I was driving home from work and I couldn't help but roll down the windows and sing so loudly my throat hurt later.
A little color can make a all the difference in the world. Or, some cases, a whole lotta color.
After living for years in a home with not only the world’s ugliest siding, but also the world’s ugliest prison grey paint job to go with it, at some point, I just could no longer take that the fact that I called such an eyesore my home.
Years prior, I had been under the impression we would be building a house someday soonish, so I decided on a whim to paint a mural with my children all over the back of the house. It was colorful, little kid style art, which was much more fun than the plain grey, but it was now 4 years old and faded. My little kids had become teens and at this point, it was apparent that the new house was not coming anytime soonish.
I really no longer have the desire to take on the effort of building a house here on this land anyway. I would rather uproot to some sunny beach town with bike trails and cafes, farmers markets and bookstores I could walk to.
For now though, I haven’t figured out the resources or social support systems to pull that off. For today, this old house is where I’m planted.
I once had a large hippie woman art teacher who wore a mumu who strummed the same 2 chords on a guitar while singing chant-like songs. The first time I met her, she passed me a smudge stick, which at the time I had no idea what to do with, and told me “Honey, you’ve just got to learn to bloom where you’re planted.” That phrase comes back to me often.
Looking around, I could see that I was planted in a place with a lot of neglected maintenance and the kind of clutter that accumulates in ridiculous proportions when you have acreage. It was a bit overwhelming.
Someone else had told me repeatedly in the past that fixing an old house was like polishing a piece of poop. You could polish it all you want, but you'd still just have polished poop. Aside from being offended by the implied connection, I disagreed with the logic. If I did, after all, live in poop, should it not at the very least be shiny? Yes, I decided~ sparkly poop would be much preferred over dull poop, but better yet~ how about cleaning up the poop and seeing what was underneath?
I had no idea what to expect when I started my journey into home improvement. I had never been handy around the house in my life up to that point, but...
this was my home whether I liked it or not, so I might as well try to try to make it at least look like I liked it.
A trusted neighbor came over to advise me on where to start on repairs. After making a list of all the things that would need fixing, and listening to me lament all the things I hated about the home, he says to me “Why don’t you paint this place? It would only be a couple hundred bucks if you do it yourself.”
Seriously? A couple hundred bucks?!? That's it?????
I had lived with a color that I despised passionately for a decade, not realizing that all along I had the ability to fix it myself.
I had been somehow under the impression that it would be thousands of dollars and a huge ordeal to make the house look any better. The idea of doing it myself had never occurred to me, but really, the house was old and ugly as it was~ it’s not like I was going to ruin anything.
So, a whole lotta trips to the hardware store getting samples, and I picked out my color~ “Luscious Mango” It was bright~ really bright~ the kind of thing you could never do in a neighborhood with regulations. But I don’t live in a neighborhood with regulations and I can paint my house any color I want. And I wanted Luscious Mango. So I went for it.
I started painting. My kids helped (with some coercion) Our hair was streaked, our clothing was stained, I fell off the ladder, but progress was happening.
As with so many things in life, once I got the ball rolling and started taking action, suddenly all sorts of things started coming together. A friend who was building a new deck had leftover wood which she gave to me to repair mine. Another friends husband and his group of retired veterans offered to come help with the heavy projects. Even my garden took off and looked better than it had in years.
The neighbors were surprised with my color choice at first~ maybe even a little concerned with it~ until I finished. Now, everyone loves it (although they amend that statement to add that they would never paint a house a color like mango, but they do like it for me)
More importantly, my kids and I love our home these days. When I drive up the street now, seeing my house makes me smile, and that wasn't the case for a very long time.
In the end, I didn't just paint my house. I painted my mood, my life. I know that sounds dramatic, but so is the difference.
We’ve gone on to paint the garage, get rid of enormous amounts of stuff we didn’t need or want, repair the roof and start many smaller projects on the inside. I even painted my bedroom door purple, and it's wonderful.
The work has been hard and humbling at times. I’ve gotten bruises, blisters and a sore back in the process. But it's been worth it. The results of some color and some action have been amazing in increasing my mood and happiness levels.
I've learned what a difference adding a little color can make, seen how taking action can lead to small miracles, and felt how wonderful people and the universe can be once the door is opened to let them in. While the sunny beach life still calls to me, for now, I am blooming right here where I’m planted.
Who is Zesty Mom?
I'm an Artist, Writer, Funschooling Facilitator, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady, and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to a Couple of Cage Free Kids.
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