Swim

“Promise me you will not spend so much time treading water and trying to keep your head above the waves that you forget, truly forget, how much you have always loved to swim”Tyler Knott Gregson

My big little brother sent me this quote via Pinterest and as always, it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time, as if in answer to the questions I’ve been yelling at the Universe lately. I had forgotten how much I used to enjoy many things because I have been solely focused on trying to cope using ways that (obviously) have lost a degree of effectiveness. I have been so focused on just “keeping it together” that I have turned blind to simple things that I had once remembered to seek out; tiny moments of everyday miracles happening all around me. A caterpillar becomes a butterfly, a baby is born far too early and fights to draw each breath, yet he fights, and he lives. People die, yet their spirit and the essence of who they were live on; the deaf can hear, the wounded heal and rise to fight another day. A mother does the impossible everyday, bringing food to the table, keeping her children safe yet aware of the dangers in this world. A father works himself into an early grave so that his children can have a better life than he did. So many miracles, unnoticed when I’m so deep into myself, my “troubles” and my rollercoaster of emotions that are as much a part of me as my curly hair and my tattoos. Living with mental illness, addiction and temptation are my trifecta of Troubles. But there is so much more to the world, to me, to what I want to accomplish and who I wish to become. As with anything, I must adjust, adapt and/or accept what is happens to me, around me and within me, but that doesn’t mean that I should disregard the beautiful insanity that is my world. A world where people are still my friends, even after I have proven myself to be less than perfect and wholly human, a world where a man knows me, good and bad, happy and sad, sane and mad and still loves me. Where I have a son who has every reason to begrudge me happiness, yet wishes it for me abundantly and repeatedly; where a friend sees the crisis and helps in the the best way possible, giving me sanctuary from stress, mental exhaustion and emotional bankruptcy….next stop Complete Shutdown. I was able to avoid that next stop and it’s due solely to my friend’s generosity, which I will try to repay, but can’t imagine how I will be able to.

These last few days have been an effort to get back into the River that is Life and swim, just for the sheer joy of it. Spending time being creative, whether it’s writing, coloring with crayons or just seeking out beauty and capturing it in a photo, stealing a moment in time and keeping it forever, unchanged and unspoiled. Just walking through a park, on a trail, really looking at the trees, majestic and tall, decorated in Autumn’s colors and waving to me with the crisp morning wind shaking their leaves. This brings me back; this slowly cleanses away the grime and dust of depression, that black dog who creeps in and lies on your chest until you know you will never rise again. Nature fights that, gives you light and beauty and life, but we need to be aware, to reach out to it and let its goodness in.

Oh – and swim. Just for the love and the sheer joy of it.

 

Words of Wisdom

Just wanted to share some words of wisdom from my dad, which I didn’t appreciate enough at the time.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

I was really upset about a Mean Girl at school and came home in a black fury, spewing venemous threats of violence against her and how she was going to pay for that. My dad heard all the ruckus and asked what on Earth had me so upset; I explained the situation and through my tears of hurt and anger, I plotted my revenge and the bloodlust drowned out any humanity I may have possessed. My dad (used to this and thus unfazed) explained to me that just because she was mean didn’t give me license to abandon my morals and “get in the gutter” with her. He went on to explain that evil works that way; it appeals to the ego, the vanity of the person and lures you down a road of hate, violence and loss of compassion or reason. “Two wrongs don’t make a right, Michelle, no matter what your reasoning. Be the bigger person; turn the other cheek and forgive them or you will be the one who suffers, not her” were his words of wisdom to me. Easier said than done, which leads me to

Anything worth having won’t be easily gotten 

I wanted to learn how to work the speed bag (always trying to keep up with my brothers) but it was difficult; my knuckles were red and sore, my arms were tired and felt like lead. I was two seconds away from bursting into tears when my dad came in. He took one look at me and told me to come outside with him so we could talk about it.He explained to me that the things that come to us easily are not necessarily good things; anything that is worth having will require hard work, dedication and a desire to overcome all the obstacles keeping us from what we want. He said this will help me to realize what is important and what is not. If I am not willing to the hard work, I will only make it so far before I encounter some difficulty; if I turn around and go back, I have accomplished nothing but taken a leisurely stroll and then came back, empty handed. But if I dig in and do the hard work, get through the obstacle, I will reach my goal and I will have the confidence that comes with overcoming obstacles, facing fears and standing strong. A half an hour later, I went back into the family room determined to master the speed bag, no matter how bloody, bruised and painful my hands became. And I did.

There are many, many more but these are the ones I find truth in even today, especially after the events around the world that have been unfolding and will continue to do so.

“Resentment is like drinking poison then hoping it will kill your enemies” -Nelson Mandela