Put your behind in your past…

At least that’s what Pumbaa said.

Man, I sure know a few of us that need to turn our heads forward sometimes.  I honestly wonder how we get around at all with our eyes firmly fixed on what is behind! You’ll notice that I am including myself in the mix.  It’s a pattern I can quickly fall into if I’m not careful.  It’s the pain.  It’s always what hurts that keeps us turned the wrong way.

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We have a ridiculously fat, old cat named Rhetta.  She is embarrassingly large — so large, in fact, that she can no longer wash her own back and has mats that form in her fur.  We call them dreads so as not to make her feel ashamed.  We feed each of our cats the same amount of food per day.  Rhetta, however, is sneaky and discovered the dog food years ago, and helped herself a bit too often.  She is also scared of everything.  She’s been kind of a nasty personality for years now.  You just never know when you’ll get bitten — even if she seems pleasant.  She HATES the other pets and prefers her dark, little corner of the world where she hides and growls and spits at anyone who gets too close.  We think the addition of each pet and each life change (including the 12 hour drive to a new home a few years ago) really messed with her.  She just seems broken.  We just love her and shave her back now and then and try to get her through.  Sad, isn’t it?  She just can’t step out of what hurt her into enjoying even a little bit of life.

I look around and realize we all have things that scarred and tried to break us.  Tricky mommy and daddy issues, folks who promised to love us and didn’t follow through, physical and emotional abuse, folks who pointed out our flaws and created ugly thoughts that seem to stay on repeat, the loss of someone we loved deeply, insecurity…this list could go on ad infinitum.

No one is immune.  But some have found a way to move on.  Have you noticed that?  Some folks seem to take it stride or heal faster or something.

As I’ve looked around with this in mind, I realize that folks tend to use their pain to either justify their behavior or as a catalyst to change.  Yeah, that’s tough stuff, but if we’re being honest, we know it’s true.  Either we repeat patterns or we break the chains.

I have cross-country skied since I was three years old.  It has always been just for fun and I’m too out of shape now to want to let anyone see me trudge/glide along.  I had stopped for decades and recently came back to it thanks to my kids and their gift of equipment.  Then some stupid health stuff gave me excuses to sit instead of ski.  My husband got me out the other day and in the middle of a winter weather advisory, we went for a walk/ski together.  We got about 16 inches of fresh snow that day.  The plows couldn’t keep up, and since we live in the middle of absolute nowhere that was no surprise.  Our area is mountainous.  I was on the last day of one of the worst colds I’ve ever had and had been coughing ridiculously for days.  Perfect set-up to get back into things.  Haha.

A half mile in, huffing and puffing, I had a decision to make.  I could turn around and go home (which sounded mighty good).  Or, I could commit to the next three legs of equal length and make *the square* which would bring me back to my driveway.  The square consists of huge inclines and I was already sucking some serious wind.  But darn it, I wanted to have proven it to myself that I could do it.  So I committed.unblazed trail

I've got this

halfway

{I had to document it with photos because I could just feel my thoughts brewing as my lungs burned!}

This journey we are on is daunting!  Pitfalls and mountains and the overwhelming-ness of it all can make us just want to go back to somewhere safe and easy!  Sometimes, we gloss over the pain of our past and live there emotionally just to not have to face what is in our front view!  Often, it’s just too hard to breathe where the path hasn’t been broken for us, and we quit and take off our gear and camp out.  I get it!  I’ve done it!

But the past has passed!!!  It’s just our catalyst to a great story!  It’s not a dwelling place or a camp or a place we even want to stay!  The mystery, the beauty is in the new trail!

The triumph is in only the glance back where we see our tracks and rejoice in the accomplishment!  When we see that there was always at least One Who walked alongside us, cheering us on!  When we get a new story — a renewed sense of victory and hope.

a glance back

No one wants to continue to hear my sad stories.  I have a million.  They’re getting old though, and it feels just like stench at this point.  Those stories are just my stepping stones into who I stepped up to be.  Yes, they hurt, but I worked hard to survive and I am determined to look forward to the new, unblazed, fresh and beautiful path into who I am now — despite and because of those obstacles!

I glance back only to be thankful for how far I’ve come.  I refuse to trip over them any longer.

Anyone with me?

 

My Last Words

There is just so much to DO!

Once upon a time when I was just a wee, nerdy little girl, I had a vivid awareness. My body had too many parts to keep clean. Apparently, my tiny bit of OCD-ness had already kicked in at probably about six years old, because I remember someone reminding me of a place to wash at bath time — probably my belly button or behind my ears — and I remember thinking, *That, too?!?! How am I ever gonna keep all this clean??*

Every day, or bath such as it were, starts with so much opportunity, and then we begin the forward motion that is our lives, and by the time our heads collapse against a soft spot, we’ve inevitably tossed a good portion of that day’s task list onto some future place of hopefulness.

Ladies, I speak to you first because, well, I am one, and I know the list well. Picking one thing from our lists, let’s just talk hair. Seriously, from waxing, to shaving, to plucking, to cutting, to coloring, to styling, to remembering and scheduling and finding the time to shave, pluck, wax, cut, color, style — it’s practically a full-time job! Now add in the rest that is our life. I just don’t know how we do it. We keep track of everyone around us but only to the point that they don’t feel kept track of. We keep the machines that are our world running underneath everyone we love. And we will continue to do so even as the numbers multiply and our families grow and reproduce more people for us to feel responsibility for love.

Men, hats off. I can only speak from experience, and my experience is that my sweet man has far too much on his plate. Just keeping up with me and my demands amazingness would be enough, but from the way-too-many-hours it takes to own a business and all that entails to actually DOING all the work involved in said business, to maintaining everything around here that falls outside my realm of capability, to looking and smelling so dang good, to leading a family with integrity and character and strength — it’s a lot.

Day-to-day, we just all have a lot. Looking at things big-picture, we could just call it overwhelming and quit sometimes, right?

Nope. We can’t. We just keep trying. You can do like I did and stick your head in the sand and hope it goes away. I’m a pro at that technique. For awhile there (like the first half of our marriage), I was in charge of bills at our house. When we couldn’t afford the life we’d made anymore, I got scared of the envelopes that appeared in ugly piles every day and quit opening them. Not my finest choice. It wasn’t long until my sweet man took that job over.

At some point (probably in some hotel room when I caught a glimpse of the reality of the size of my behind), I realized that I didn’t have a full-length mirror in my life. Not looking didn’t change a darn thing.

Whether I look or not; whether I carve out a moment from this crazy-full life I’ve created to actually SEE what it may look like from the outside, I am leaving a mark. I have affected people with my choices and words. Some people have unfriended me. ouch. There are folks who don’t want to bump into me at the grocery store as much as I turn tail and run like a madwoman may avoid them. I have failed at a lot of things.

When I look at the things I want to be, sometimes it feels likes belly buttons and the behinds-of-ears. But, as much as I know that I’ve failed, there are also a few nuggets about which I feel really stinking proud.

This morning, I got to thinking about what folks would say about me if I were no longer around. Do it. It’ll sober you up in a hurry. The more I thought, the more I realized that whatever words those might be have not yet been etched in stone. I still have a chance to *write* them — or *right* them, as it were. Since I can’t say anything in 10 words or less –heck, who am I kidding, I need several hundred — my self-written epitaph may look more like a blog post than it should, but I feel inspired to write what I would like it to say. Not what I think I deserve because, well, ain’t nobody got time for that. I mean, what would I like to become in the meantime that would inspire such words. More than any resolution for a year that would most likely last a matter of weeks, I want to resolve to begin to become my last words. These last words:

Who was Alison?

She loved. Yes, she loved food and to eat, but somehow, even more than a well-thought out dish, she loved all those she had been given with everything she had — and they knew it without a doubt. She found beauty in everything, and knew from Whose hand those things came. She was a good friend — yes, she forgot to send birthday cards and mostly forgot her friends’ kids birthdays — but she cared deeply about the hearts of those she had the privilege to get to know. She loved her God. She knew He had rescued her from much, and her life was an offering of love in return. She was a wife that loved the other half of her heart with all she had to offer and made her man feel like a king. She was kind with her words. At some point, she let go of her past and made peace with it all, but even before that she used the pain as a catalyst for changing the face of love in her life.  She laughed big and often, and inspired such in others. She was a momma — through and through and to the core; she imagined what a momma should look like and became it. Her children and grandchildren know this well. love

This. This is where my future lies. Anything that doesn’t look like those words, is empty and a waste of my time. If I manage those things, even with a uni-brow, so be it. If I fail every third time, but manage twice, I should be proud. If I did all this and there was laundry yet to be folded in the basket, it just won’t matter a bit.

So, would you join me? Would you consider what you’d like your last words to be? Would you write them down and aim toward them? Skip the gym, and invest that time into something that will last beyond January.

If you’re in this with me, say so. I’d love to hear from you.  Let’s start a thing.  Let’s do this together and write our last words! And share this post so others will do the same.