Each one, as a good manager of God's different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God. (1 Peter 4:10)

Archive for December, 2014


Tradition has New Year’s Day as the day for new beginnings and all of the possibilities that come with them. Who hasn’t made several New Year’s resolutions at the stroke of midnight, thinking of all the good to be achieved by keeping those resolutions – yet knowing, in your heart of hearts, that it’s only a matter of time until those resolutions are broken, one by one.

Today is New Year’s Eve, and I have been pondering for a few days now just what I will do with this new year that lies in front of me. I’ve thought about resolutions, and rejected the idea of making them. The other day, I suggested in a Facebook post that affirmations are a better idea than resolutions – that we could benefit from considering what was best about us in the year we just lived, and making affirmations that would propel us into the future. I said that resolutions are sure to be broken, but affirmations can grow stronger with time and repetition.

So what should one do? This time is so full of possibilities and potential. Anything might be accomplished, if we can just get the stars properly aligned and do all of the right things. What should one do?

I suggest that the first thing we should do is get the word should out of our everyday vocabularies. If Yoda were here to impart his wisdom, I think he would put should right up there with try. It fits: Imagine Luke saying, as he considers raising the spacecraft from the bog, “All right, I should.” And Yoda responding, ”Do… or do not. There is no should.”

Imagine the power unleashed when there is no should – when we just do.

In that context, the New Year becomes a time to decide and do. Rather than cobbling together lists of resolutions, why not start each day with a simple mantra: “I can do anything I want to do today.” And then do it.

Think how this approach keeps possibility alive. It’s based on today, and only today. There is no resolution to be kept, day after day, with our will to perform balanced precariously on the cusp of failure. There is no should with its inherent certainty of failure. Resolutions carry an expectation of perfection. Once made, they are good only so long as we keep them. Once broken, they are gone. And when we approach our days thinking about what we should do, we doom ourselves to a constant sense of incompletion. No matter what we do accomplish, there is always something more we should do. And ultimately, we are led to a terrible belief that we are always failing.

The idea that I can do anything I want to do today leads to a life built on free choices and decisions. What’s the difference between “I can” and “I should”? Let me illustrate.

I get up in the morning and tell myself in the mirror, “I can do anything I want to do today.”

Myself in the mirror reminds me that I am scheduled to work, and that is pretty much a “gotta,” isn’t it? Should on steroids, right?

I tell myself in the mirror that I most certainly do not have to go to work today. I can choose not to go to work. Of course, making that choice will lead to certain outcomes – but if I choose not to go to work, I am also choosing those outcomes. Choosing to go to work also will have certain outcomes. The key is that I get to choose.

Getting rid of should leads me into a life of freedom. When I can do anything I want to do today, it leads me into a life of choice. I am no longer doomed to the certain failure of an unkept resolution; I am no longer trapped in a world where I am never done with what I should be doing.

Like Yoda: Do… or do not. There is no should. Choose.

Sigh. On the Restless Spirit.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me. So why, at this time when I seem to be in need of therapy, does writing feel like such a difficult task?

What’s going on, you ask? Or perhaps you don’t ask. Regardless, I am forging ahead.

For weeks now, I have been facing each day with a sense of anxiety and restlessness of spirit that just isn’t normal for me. And as human nature dictates, I keep trying to explain it to myself as a means of dispelling it, and that seems to just perpetuate it. I’ve tried praying it away, and that does help…but I think I need to write about it and see if that will help me get real with it.s

You see, there is absolutely nothing in my life that I really need to be nervous or anxious about. All of the things that come to mind when I think about this anxiety are things that are not real or valid. So while the feelings and sensations are very real indeed, they have no basis. And that by itself tells me that something needs to be fixed.

This weekend, the Thanksgiving holiday, marks three years since my husband’s illness returned with its awful vengeance. From that time until he died on July 1, 2012, most of my life was wrapped up in what was happening with him. It was a time of immense and dramatic change. He became ill on Thanksgiving Day; we learned a couple of days after Christmas that his illness was due to spread of his cancer and that his condition was terminal; he had at most 8 months left. At the end of January, I retired from my job — a decision I had made before we knew that Tom was dying. This retirement was supposed to be a time for us to do things together; instead, I would begin it as a caregiver, and six months in would say a last goodbye to the love of my life, with whom I was supposed to spend the coming years.

I coped very well with all of this change. I coped by DOING THINGS. I cleaned out closets, got rid of clothing, played rounds of golf, traveled, volunteered, spent time with family and friends, and knitted. Sometimes I cried, and I did grieve and I examined my grief very closely and wrote about it. About a year after Tom died, I bought TLHITWBTL back from his sons, and being there felt like coming home, so I sold my house in Mason and made TLHITWBTL my full-time home. There were tons of projects to keep me busy, and there were new frontiers to explore and new adventures to be had.

But my family was three hours away, and once the major projects were out of the way, I realized that I missed them more than I expected. Three hours is a major haul for people who work full time and have budgets and time commitments and children. Three hours is an easy trip for me — after all, I drive to Wyoming and back, to Georgia and back, and I don’t work, and … oh, I’ve taken on some time commitments like weekly bowling leagues and some things at church, and I find that I am wishing I hadn’t committed.

Anyway, about the time my younger daughter got married in October, I decided it was time to re-establish a dwelling in the capital city. I found a lovely little apartment, furnished it with some extra things I had up north as well as some good bargains I found, spent some money stocking the pantry and laying in necessities, and I really love the place.

And I really love the place up north.

So why am I constantly feeling worried and nervous about which place needs to be primary and where I should have mail sent and how much time I can spend where? I should be thrilled! I’m looking back at my Change Junkie musings and wondering if there is something else going on here…if I am really just covering up some deeper issues by constantly seeking the adrenaline rush that comes with something new.

I just want to feel like my normal, positive, not-anxious self. I want to fully enjoy the fact that I have options and choices, two lovely homes that I can spend time in and share with those I love, and the time and resources to do what I want to do and enjoy doing. I want to practice what I have always taught: that we can choose the attitude we carry, that we can own and manage the change in our lives, and that we are in charge of how we feel. I need to make the conscious decisions that will put me there. Can I do this on my own, or am I going to need help? Part of me says that I know what to do and have the tools to do it; that it is self-centered and self-indulgent to make my “problems” so serious that I need professional help to solve them. But another part of me knows that the way I am feeling is not normal or right for me and that it has been slowly but surely getting worse over time.

Yes, I grieved my loss; yes, I have rebuilt my life and it is a good life. It is very difficult for me to acknowledge that my moods and feelings just don’t jive, right now, with what I think should be happening nearly three years after that loss and in the midst of what anyone would call a very good life. Am I just picking at myself because I am bored? What is it that makes me schedule things where I will be with people, only to go and then crave my solitude; and then, in my solitude, begin feeling lonely and disconnected? I think this might be called “depression,” and I think I might be wise to do something about it. The realization is beginning to dawn that when one has feelings and moods that are very different from what one’s life suggests, that merits attention.

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