Relationships and Decisions and Choices

Over the last few days, it seems the theme around me has been relationships. Within conversation, one friend was processing some sadness about her former partner while another, her present one. Both turned to me for advice:  “How do you know when the person you are with is the right one for you?” “How do you know when he’s wrong and the time has come to move on?“How do you stand the feelings while you figure it all out?”

First, let me say that I am by no means an expert on relationships! However, because my peeps and I seek one another out for solution, I was compelled to give the best answer I could in both situations, “It’s not that simple. What I have learned from experience is that you know simply because you decide to and then you work within and towards that decision every day.”

 

My friends’ questions provoked powerful emotions within me, mostly ones of gratitude but also of sorrow and regret. They prompted a hope that once they make their choice they will know that whatever unfolds from that point on, will be right and true and good because that is who they are inside and because they will decide to work at making it so.

All my life, I stood in terror of making decisions. I was afraid to go right and find out later that left had been the way for me. Because of this, I lived always positioned for a move, ready to turn, as if waiting for a tennis shot; poised for either a forehand or back, but never too firmly planted on my feet; just ready, always ready. With this type of stance, it was difficult for any relationship to seed, take root, grow strong and flourish. The garden that was my life was one filled with annuals, never perennials, and I could not understand why flowers were not re-blooming year after year. Instead of planting new ones, knowing that the former’s gift had come and gone, I thought I must have picked the wrong patch of earth. Sure, I watered sometimes, but there was so much more critical work required. There were weeds to pull, soil to turn over and fertilizer to spread. Because I thought once I planted, pretty colors would be forevermore, when things went bare and brown I panicked. I did not understand.

Today, I can only wonder at how it was I believed I should always know, know Who and What and Where and When. How I thought I should be sure and certain in whatever I picked or chose. I wonder how it was that I so naively thought we all were supposed to find our custom designs out there, so easily, so surely. Did I think there were memos to help or sky-written messages from above to guide the way? Did I remain so afraid in my decisions, because I never got those memos, those messages? Was it because I felt abandoned somewhere, by what or whom I am not sure, but forgotten and left to pick my way through life on my own? It is laughable today, but laughable in the most gentle sort of way, to think about how terrified I was of getting it all wrong; the big IT of life; the guy I should be with, the career path to travel, the neighborhood to live in and the bestie to trust.

This morning, I have decided to smile with gentle kindness at all of it, appreciate the similarities between all of us fellow travelers and pass along what I have learned. I have opted to use the feelings stirred up from relationship conversations this week and remember to reach upward towards the blessed prayer of St. Francis of Assisi and its words that will guide me for the future. I choose today to head in the direction before me and to believe that help will come as I go, not in memo form, but in daily dialogue with God and His Angels.

Right here, right now, I choose to be one of the brave and decisive ones as I step out, one of the courageous ones, one unafraid to choose left with both feet on the ground or go right with everything I have inside of me. I commit to a willingness to make today’s choices gracefully and while doing so, believe that whatever they are will be good and true; because no matter what unfolds, the gifts will come in the lessons therein.

The most important choice I will make today will be once again to believe with all my heart, with absolute certainty that there is no right way and no wrong, but ever so perfectly, there is simply the way I will choose.

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FALLING IN AUTUMN

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This autumn as I think about the golden canvases of foliage I am missing up north, of the crisp air above all the apple orchards and pumpkin patches I have picked from, I feel melancholy. I sense that I am losing my colors like the trees all will. I feel like I am falling, well sort of.

In trying to figure out the reasons that I feel this way, it occurs to me that it’s because I am in a time of letting go. Letting go to make room for what is to come. The fall season is a time of trees shedding their leaves, even though they are beautiful, to get ready for the next season.

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And I wonder if perhaps I can just do what the trees do. Ready or not, right here, right now, Let go. Discard any worry that I don’t really fit in sometimes. Shed any doubt that there is something wrong with me when I am not invited. Drop a recent belief that just because people move on, I never mattered to them.

For today, perhaps I can allow the occasional fears to fall away. Let them drop and trust that it is simply time to lose another layer that is no longer necessary as protection against the elements of my humanness.

I am drawn to thoughts of how autumn comes in so spectacularly and goes out so barren. This magnificent season of letting go leads me to wonder. How do trees allow the transformation so gracefully, from lush and glorious to bare and exposed? They stand, strong and tall, never wavering, as one by one their leaves fall, showing their branches to the world. I wish I could let go like they do. So gracefully.

I suppose I can try. I guess, like all the trees, I can get ready for what comes next. I can believe that it is the right time to allow more to shed. Perhaps there is no need for sadness as things come and go. No reason for self doubt or for fear that the more I expose myself, the less I will be “part of.” Maybe all I need to do is trust a divine process that I can’t see and to remember that the trees, in bloom or not, never move. They stay right where they are among other trees. Sure.

I don’t suppose that as golden shapes fall from its branches, a tree spends time in sadness around what it is losing. I imagine it knows that next year, there will be more and different shades that will grace its limbs. There is no calling out to their dear colors, “No, please don’t go yet. I’m not ready. I haven’t fully processed all I needed to about you yet. And I love you.”

I think they just fall because it is time. They probably need to relax after all their photosynthesizing. Maybe they just want to rest. And as the greens and reds and yellows gather on the ground below, awaiting what comes next for them, there is a knowing up above. A new season is sure to come and with it will be more and different hues to take their place.

What a gift of trusting that nature enjoys. I want to trust like this. To believe in the plan as it unfolds, instead of realizing later that it did so perfectly. I know that if I just stand still and allow the falling off to happen, the release of feelings and people and places, there will be more to reveal itself down the road. Yes, of course there will, because there always is. So today I will ask the universe and all its’ Glory for help in letting go of what I know is wanting to leave, so that my branches can be open to all the lovely colors that will come next.

I will choose to stand tall wherever I am called to today. No matter what. I will wait, arms outstretched, with a sense of readiness and joy. I will know that the next burst of color will reveal itself, just as the glory of autumn leaves always does after summer. In the meantime, I will do my best to stand, unwavering, and trust that all is right and good in my world no matter what the season. And I will remember that bright and full or somber and bare, God is caring for me through all of it.

And If I Ever Touched a LIfe, I Hope That Life Knows That Touching Is, Was and Always Will Be, The Only True Revolution.” Nikki Giovanni

I have to laugh.  I just sat and re-read my last blog.  Holy blah, blah, blah.  A bit wordy, but therapeutic nevertheless.  Sometimes the words come out so quickly, flowing and spilling over one another into the next one so fast that it’s hard to realize that you are saying the same thing over and over.  As I read it my first doubtful, fearful thought was “Oh God, what the heck would anyone think of this wordy piece?” …but then, my second thought was how damn good it felt to type every single word of it, to run my fingers over the keys as the sentences tumbled over each other.  And wordy or not, I remember how much the message helps me by typing it and I smile because that truly is the point.

This whole blogging thing has been therapeutic yes, but scary too.  Regarding my last blog, I’d actually written a different version earlier, but was afraid to post it because it was more specific, more raw, more blunt and because it put stuff so “out there.”  I worried that it was too personal even though gracepaidforward is for the most part anonymous.  The other one included references to my little sister and to some of “our” stuff.  My beautiful and amazing little sister who probably doesn’t know how much of both I think she is. 

I referenced her as “the littler girl,” the one I wasn’t really there for and who I didn’t protect very well and who I just didn’t have the tools yet to know how to love and honor better.  The one I wanted to look like and be like and the one, the only one I know, who would ever truly understand. 

I was so afraid that she would be mad at what I had typed, that she might accuse me of delving too deep into the past and that she wouldn’t like what I had written, so I deleted it.  Ironically, only moments after I did I got a phone call from her telling me that she had seen the post.  She sounded teary when she told me that she had read what I had written (she didn’t know I had just erased it) and that it had touched her, had made her cry.  She said I should write a book.  And I knew. I knew that from that moment on whatever I wrote going forward would be perfect no matter who would ever read it and no matter what they ever thought.  That one moment between the two of us would be enough to make all the rest of it worthwhile no matter what. 

I really love my little sister and feel truly blessed that she made that phone call to me.  I love that she was willing to be vulnerable enough to do so and I really wish I had a chance to go back and do it all a bit differently.  A chance to be a big sister, to be her champion.  An opportunity to not spend so much time pretending I felt better in my skin than I did, so that I could spend more time telling her how wonderful she was.  A chance to speak up for her and for me so that we could be better in today.  Perhaps it’s not too late.  And so, little sis, if by chance you get to read this blog, this one that I will absolutely NOT delete, I love you and honor you and completely and utterly understand, always.  We have each other