Family, friendships

Going against the grain


When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.  It has taken me this long to realize that outlook is EVERYTHING.  This trail that I tread looks drastically different based on the time of day I walk it.  But it’s the same incline.  In the pre-dawn hours it is dark;  I can barely see the path and can only feel the steepness as I climb.  In the early evening it looks long and looming as I gaze at the concrete before me.  It is all in how my eyes perceive the trail.  I find that not knowing; not seeing makes it more manageable.


It has only been in recent years that I could look beyond my own four walls to see what goes on outside of them.  I always assumed the grass is greener on the other side.  Similar to the idea of seeing a glass half empty versus half full it is all mental work. The ability to communicate in relationships is what constitutes my life.

Because a lot of days life just sucks.

I text this to my girlfriend who has been hospital-bound for over a week.  Bad things happen to good people every day and it just doesn’t seem fair.  But she says she has been inspired and, surprised, I replied, DO TELL.   Yesterday I was reminded of how life can turn.  Those who appear to have everything really have nothing; a foreclosed house and a broken marriage.  Poor health.  Family crisis.  Those who have have much to lose.  It is those who appreciate the little details of the every day who gain joy in simple things.  A fiery red sunset.  The seventy degree temps.  The ability to walk freely on a trail at 5:40 AM in the brisk morning chill.  Outdoor strides.

But each morning I consciously have to make the choice to wake up.  It is a mental fight as my fuzzy brain registers the early time.  It is the simple choices we choose to make, each day, which can affect a larger outcome.   And so I stumble out, splash the cold water upon my face.  I am practicing mental discipline; going against the grain.  My natural tendency to gorge brings me pause.  When confronted with cookies-a-plenty I became overwhelmed.  I ate them to get rid of them; to not throw anything away.  I did not enjoy the abundance.  It was only when I decided to separate them into smaller containers, stored them or gave them away; that I enjoyed each bite; savoring the flavors.  And I only allowed myself a small portion.

That made all the difference.

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Confronted with abundance, once again, at bookclub  I had to partake.  I now know I physically need to move away from the food to avoid eating excessively.  I weigh my options.  Do I choose the pretzel/Rolo/pecan dessert bite or the pomegranate/Prosecco cocktail?  In the whole scheme of life, these choices seem insignificant.  There are people who don’t have these choices and just want food on the table.  There are those who sit alone wondering their value and contemplating ways to escape their life via drugs, alcohol, abusive relationships.  Others don’t have the choice due to health issues.  They have no other way to escape; to change their flight behavior.

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My gaze landed on the folder paper origami butterflies that swept along the wall.  There are days when I wish, I too, could take flight majestically like the Monarch.  I was surprised to realize, when reading an interview by the author, that the book was about motherhood.

Really?  I thought of the environmental effects of global warming; the religion versus science debates.  But motherhood?

The book’s theme was based on relationships; the multi-faceted layers, the lack of communication that happens.  Our culture reveres mothers; and those women who choose not to become one feel the weight of judgment from other adults as to why they choose not to procreate.  And sure, there are gazillion blogs about parenting, and motherhood.  We constantly try to remind ourselves of the joys but we also understand as a community the isolation, the need for escape.  Isn’t that what we nine women were doing, escaping our normal roles of life for one eve in the month?

I have watched friends’ erratic flight behaviors.  Infidelity.  Substance abuse.  Anorexia.  I observe those who put on airs and walls pretending everything is okay; feelings locked inside Fort Knox.  I stood alongside friends battling illness, particularly the Emperor of All Maladies.  I, too, have caught myself tracing the timeline back; comparing and contrasting.  Last evening we laughed about the long Christmas letters of those who parade all of their accomplishments and travels, the daily posts on Facebook and Twitter and the bloggers (a-hem).   I go against the grain; trying to be transparent.  Everything is not always coming up roses. 

That is exactly where my mindset needs to change.  I can plant seeds.  They may not always grow.  I can fling my arms wide and open doors in hospitality but relationships go both ways.  If the person does not wish to enter there is nothing you can do to change that.  Only in the mental discipline can you push past this, to go against the immediate response of wanting to close doors and build walls.  This goes against my grain; my modus operandi.

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I continue to plant seeds as I practice idioms with my eldest son.  I am learning new ones.  I have the capacity to change my path.  Maybe some roses will grow.  The grass is greenest where you water it.  Time to grab my garden hose.

I’ll drink to that.


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