Standing Witness

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Sometimes, when I’m being honest with myself, I have this secret fear that I am not enough. Did you know that? No matter how hard I strive to control or contain reality, I get afraid.

Doc had to break my leg in order to make it whole again. That didn’t seem right to me and yet, because of my pain, I allowed it. I’m tired of limping. Tired of hiding my injury. Tired of staring at the ground when I walk so that I don’t accidentally trip and fall. Again.

Funny how that happens. Pain drives us sometimes. Sooner or later though, hopefully, we get tired of the pain and become willing to do whatever it takes to make it go away. This was really no different. I knew it meant being down for almost six months and frankly I was so tired, I really didn’t care.

Jeff came with me for the first two weeks, making sure that I followed the doctor’s orders by staying off my feet. Major surgery takes a lot out of you. Having your tibia broken in half, shifted, and new bone grafted in hurts. A lot really. I couldn’t be alone. At least not at first. And he, being my husband wouldn’t dream of leaving me to care for myself until he knows I am capable.

Fall has just come to the cove when I begin my recovery. The trees still have leaves on them and they are just beginning to turn. The weather is still pleasantly warm. There was a gentle breeze off the water and I spend the first six weeks of my recovery resting on the front porch with my leg up as the doctor ordered.

I watch the pelicans and ducks play across the cove chasing shad and each other back and forth every morning before settling in together. The cows from across the way come down for their morning drink and some mornings, if I am really still, deer come down as well.

In six weeks, I read four books, write five chapters of my own book, play banjo till my fingers bleed, and watch the leaves turn from green to bright yellow and then fall away, leaving my trees barren against the sky. Geese come and go their migratory way. So do the monarch.

A full season comes and goes. I witness all of it. Unhurried. No deadlines. No boundaries. No striving. No fear. Just being present as summer takes its last breath and fall prepares a covering for winter’s slumber.

Caught now in winter with Christmas behind me and full recovery only weeks away, I miss my front porch. The tightness in my chest is returning. I find myself planning my next bike ride, my next horseback ride, my next comedy show, my next banjo lesson. Everything that I think defines me is just out of my reach.

My thoughts, fears and worries that I left behind sometimes sneak out from under my bed while I’m asleep and scare me awake.

“You’ll never ride with the Diva’s. You’re a full season behind. They started training last year. You can’t keep up.”

“What if you fall off the horse? You’ll break your leg again, worse than it was before. What then?”

“Your banjo teacher will never take you back you know. His schedule is probably full. Besides, even if it isn’t, do you honestly think all of that time you spent practicing will be enough?”

“Do you really think people will remember you after taking six months off? There are plenty of comics in Tulsa who’ve been gaining a ton of stage time while you are gone. No one will remember you. You’re rusty now.”

“And what about that book you are writing? I mean seriously who are you kidding?”

If I’m being honest, sometimes I give in to the fears. I get up and go downstairs, pour myself a drink and light a cigarette in my garage and let them have their way with me.

Other times, I close my eyes and remember that summer ended, fall bloomed and passed, birds played, cattle lowed, coyotes yipped, wolves howled at the moon, (yes there are wolves in my cove) pelicans fished, and the monarchs continued on their way all while I sat as nothing more than a witness on my porch. And it was enough.

How often can we say that?

Come what ever may be as the result of my hiatus, life will continue with or without my help.

Perhaps I should follow winter’s example. The world is asleep. Spring is three months away. I’m only half way through my hiatus. I have time.

Now is not the time to let fear whisper to me like a thief in the night.

I have another season to bear witness to, Winter has lessons to teach but only if I’m willing to learn. It too will come and pass without my striving.

Another season without riding, without horses, without music lessons, without running the show – only me as a witness, nothing more, nothing less – a chance to rest and learn that even without my trappings, I am enough. May it be so.

Music Monday: Will The Circle Be Unbroken

I love the soulfulness of a banjo when it’s being played well. I’m not a fan of speed so much, but the notes are rich and I enjoy that. Usually. When I don’t think I suck anyway. My hyper focused must-be-as-good-as-Alison-Brown-in-six-months dementor of a brain can suck the fun right out of this adventure of mine if I’m not careful.

I’ve been ready, able, and almost willing to chuck the banjo and start over with a kazoo many times over the past month.  I had one of those really rough banjo lessons last week. The kind where I tried so hard that I crashed and burned. I was trying to get Salty Dog from 140 (Which is what I can presently play it at) to 200 (where it needs to be) in seven days.  I’d achieved 170 at home, twice and with LOTS of mistakes. I mostly hung around at 160, which is still okay.  My hands and brain were so tired by the time I showed up to class I could barely play. Add insult to injury, I did an emotional and mental crash and burn that resulted in my forgetting the song almost completely.

I felt so bad for blowing it, that I actually apologized to my teacher for wasting his time. Oh yeah, no issues with self loathing here. (Insert eye roll) Fortunately for all of us, teach doesn’t share my opinions on what constitutes a waste of time. We put away the books and the sheet music and just started a simple roll pattern. Good call on his part because I’m pretty sure I was on the verge of tears. Then we started picking out notes from Will the Circle be Unbroken. Awesome song if you’ve never heard it.

Instead of trying to kill myself over notes licks and speed, I get to spend the week finding this song on my banjo and writing my own arrangement to it. Do you know what? I’m having a blast. Not that I’m knocking it out of the park or anything.  I don’t even have an arrangement I like yet. I have however, spent more time and have had more fun playing with my banjo, testing out chords, finding riffs, and listening to the music than I have since I started playing last year. I even found a really pretty lick (8 full measures) that I can tuck away and keep for a song some day.

I came across this video while I was researching the song. I love it and thought you guys would as well. Have a great Monday y’all.

 

Mending My Life

Well written poetry heals souls.

Why bother using an Ivy League vocabulary when the truth is as simple as that?

Well

written

poetry

heals

souls.

When discussing great literature, I catch myself wanting to write as if I’ve graduated from Baylor instead of business college. That makes book reviews difficult for me sometimes. I want to match the intellect of the authors in question and write as if I were a scholar myself. My main problem with that however is the scholastic approach to writing does not match my day-to-day voice. I’m not an MFA graduate. I’m just me. Mac and Cheese as Molly calls me. Comfort food in many ways.

I went looking for my literary voice last year and found my heart. Granted my heart was at the time in a about a million pieces all over the floor. I was lost in the rubble when a ragtag band of modern-day poets and women’s rights activists invited me to internet tea last fall. We banded together as only women can and sifted through the debris of unmet needs, false hopes, unrealistic expectations of others and toxic co-dependency.  Their love and acceptance breathes life into my battle weary soul.

I have no idea how long I’d been holding my breath; it must have been a while. I just know that it had been long time since I’d had fresh air. I found a respite and breathing place with these women. I took big gulps of air at first and gushed quite a bit over their acceptance and caring. I’ve settled in quite nicely now and my heart rate and oxygen levels have returned to normal.

Recovering from a broken heart takes more time than I am sometimes willing to allow.  One of the unexpected bonuses, while I am picking up the pieces I discover that not all of them fit any more. This is good news. This means there is room for more —

More friends

More hope

More adventures

More love.

I have officially turned the corner and the scenery is to die for.

I wrote my first poem of sorts in many years on September 12 of 2011.  My poetic soul knows what I didn’t. You might say it was my battle cry.

The Fractured Mirror

To be handed one’s emotional ass on a silver platter and yet have so little regard for self, that the best revelation one can muster that anything is wrong  are stomach issues, persistent blushing, and chest pain is a travesty. While it is true that artists are capable of being emotionally empathetic to a fault and that our souls can easily be a magnet to acts of spiritual terrorism, we still have choices.

Does one choose to succumb to this warped sense of reality, thereby being a victim of the fractured mirror of others as well as their own learned misogynistic views? Or can the false mirror be broken and a new paradigm created?

Some world views are nothing more than a fractured reflection of one’s own self-hatred and false dichotomies.

Unrealistic expectations and lies of others do not define me. I DEFINE ME.

Thus began my journey back to wholeness and life. Molly gave us the following poem during my very first week of writing classes – I’d never read The Journey by Mary Oliver before. As soon as I read it, I knew I was home.

one day you finally knew what you had to do, and began. though the voices around you kept shouting their bad advice, though the whole house began to tremble and you felt the old tug at your ankles, “mend my life!” – each voice cried, but you didn’t stop you knew what you had to do. though the wind pried with its stiff finger at the very foundations, though their melancholy was terrible, it was already late enough and a wild night, and the road full of fallen branches & stones. but little by little as you left their voices behind the stars began to burn through the sheets of clouds. and there was a new voice which you suddenly recognized as your own and that kept you company as you strode deeper into the world, determined to do the only thing you could do, determined to save the only life you could save. – mary oliver

I’m continuing my journey next week by attending Poetry Book Camp led by Molly Fisk which means I won’t be here. While I’m gone might I suggest reading a good poetry book or better yet – write your own poems. Like I said – Well written poetry heals souls. Your soul is worth it.

I’ll be back before the month is out.

Take care.

Perfectionism is self hatred in disguise.

I would rather be naked than let you see me learn the banjo. That says a lot. I don’t do naked well. (Think Bob the tomato). Learning something new while people watch is apparently worse.

I call it being an introvert.

My husband calls it being a perfectionist.

Either way, I don’t like people seeing me or hearing me try something new until I master it.

The problem with that?

Life isn’t meant to be lived in a vacuum.

Truth is, I’ll let my husband see me naked, but I won’t let him sit out on the porch while I practice my banjo. For some reason I feel more vulnerable playing the banjo than I do in the nude.

Refusing to let my husband (he’s a professional musician on weekends) hear me play robs him of the joy of music.

I knew my anxiety level had reached an all time high when not only did I not want my husband to hear me play the banjo, I couldn’t play for my teacher either.

When we first started out with lessons — in May, I’d get so nervous that I made my instructor nervous.

That’s rough.

My husband finally offered me his great wisdom.

“This isn’t the Opry, it’s our back porch. Now lighten up and have fun already.”

I’ve been having a lot of fun since he said that. When I get frustrated (like I am tonight) I remind myself that I started playing the banjo on May 25 2012 and I missed three lessons in June because of traveling. So really, I’ve only been playing for four weeks. In those four weeks, I have learned chords, how to tune a banjo, how to read tabs, four basic rolls and now I’m learning slides.

My husband does not think less of me because I haven’t mastered this yet.

My instructor (who has been playing guitar for 40 and banjo for 3 years) does not think less of me because I’m not as good as he is.

Fact: I sing in the chorus of the second longest running presentation of Handel’s Messiah in the US. Have since 2000. I cannot read a lick of music. I’ve memorized the entire piece. That takes talent.

Learning how to create music brings me joy and will help me become a better songwriter.

Hating myself because I have the unrealistic expectation of mastering something over night (like slides) is ridiculous.

This isn’t the Opry.

It’s my back porch.

I hereby give myself permission to not be great while I learn with the knowledge that every time I try, I will get better.

What new thing are you trying to learn right now?

Are you willing to be kind to yourself while you learn?

Why Redemption’s Heart; Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Sometimes

………………..there are no good choices.

………………………Sometimes

……………………………..life throws us for a loop.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place.

2003 was just such a time.

The most interesting thing to me is while the year was stormy and my heart felt as if it had been broken into a million pieces, my walk with God has never been more intimate.

My journal that year reflects two prayers and only two.

  1. This hurts and I’m afraid.
  2. Teach me how to forgive.

In the midst of the storm, I lost sight of who I am. I allowed man to define my worth instead of God. Fortunately, God did not remain silent. We spent a lot of time unpacking Isaiah 43. So much so, it’s now my life verse in many ways.

  1. I don’t have to be afraid because God made me exactly as I am. I’ve been redeemed. I’ve been called by name. I am His. He is with me.
  2. Because He is God, my personal God, my Savior — we have a relationship. We have such an amazing relationship that he is willing to not only walk through the waters and fires of my daily life, his hand keeps them from overwhelming me. He paid a huge price for me. (John 3:16), He is willing to trade in the entire world just for me. Even though my earthly relationships suffer hardship, death, and sometimes rejection, my relationship with him is one of love and protection.
  3. He wants back every last one of us that bears his name, no matter where we travel or how far away from him we are — he searches for us and wants us back.
  4. We are created for His Glory. He personally formed each and every one of us. — This includes those who hurt us. Knowing who we are in Christ strengthens us. Knowing who you (or they as in my perceived enemies) are in Christ – teaches me mercy.

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Isaiah 43 – The Message

When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

1-4 But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
trade the creation just for you. 5-7“So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
I’ll round up all your scattered children,
pull them in from east and west.
I’ll send orders north and south:
‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
yes, personally formed and made each one.'”

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What does it mean to live like you are forgiven?

Know the one who created you.

Don’t be afraid.

Trust him through the storms of life.

Show mercy to others.

Forgive.

What does Isaiah 43 say to you?