Thinkful Gratitude

When I was younger, I never felt as if I had enough of anything. I felt greedy for attention, lusted after riches, begged, borrowed, and yes even stole to acquire more. I felt that if I could surround myself with things I saw others be so happy with, I would finally be happy. That carried on into my first marriage where I used things as substitutions for the love that was absent from my life.

As I grew in age, I began to understand that no amount of material goods would give me what I was looking for in my heart. That new pair of shoes, new car, new pan, new…anything would never fill that void. Even though I still hadn’t discovered what exactly that void was, I knew my needs weren’t being met by my buying things. I moved away from that behavior.

I’m not going to lie and say that I don’t enjoy a good shopping trip, but I’d rather focus on the company I keep instead of the goods I may get. I try to shop only when I need something like food or a pair of pants, for example because I’m less likely to just randomly spend money I don’t have. But, overall, I don’t go shopping with the sole intention of purchasing something. It has to be pretty spectacular (like my goldfish shirt or my hugger shirt) to necessitate me buying something.

Original Art by Maximus Decimus Meridius (aka Maxine the Magnificent) Watercolor and ink 5"X7"

Original Art by Maximus Decimus Meridius (aka Maxine the Magnificent)
Watercolor and ink 5″X7″

My evolution made me realize that my emotional needs weren’t being met, so of course I attached myself to a man who was emotionally unavailable because he matched me at that point. Matched me enough for me to realize that the absence of emotional connection was what I was missing. I started to reach out emotionally to those I trusted to test the waters of truth in myself. I found rejection from him but I found acceptance from a few others which kindled a small flame in my heart.

I broke from that shell in much the same way as I did the other, I evaluated, realized, understood, and moved on to the next stage. I’d realize material goods are nice, but they are not where love is found. I realized that connection is as important to the growth and understanding of myself and others but it wasn’t enough. But what was I missing?

By the time I reached my third “stop” searching for love, I was broken. I had nothing of material value. My mask of makeup had been stripped away. My body had been violated. My spirit was barely breathing. I had but a basic foundation of self. A rudimentary understanding that there was something far more than what I had. I longed for whatever it was. I was disconnected from my body, mind, spirit, and self. I was lost and I knew it.

The next five years allowed me to find what I’d been missing. Out of all the crazy weirdness, I found myself. I’d hidden under the covers of degradation, humiliation, anger, hurt, fears, shame, guilt, and most of all, self-loathing. Through the unconditional love from my friends who saw me, nurtured me, loved me, cleansed me of my clutter, helped lift me up from cowering into standing, I learned to be me.

I felt like a toddler. I took uncertain steps and with coaxing, love, and laughter, I stepped into the sun of Arizona, born of the Phoenix, almost literally. The Painted Desert showed me colors that I knew existed but had never seen before as Stephanie and I passed through the landscape. The smell of Christmas that Flagstaff has all year round filled me with a sense of giving, but Shanna gave me the gift of acceptance of myself. She showed me love every step of the way. Carrie sealed me with a sense of naked belonging. I didn’t have to wear a mask of any kind around her. She adored me. I adored her. We sang the songs of unity, all of us. I learned to rise from the ashes in Arizona.

My testing grounds are my battle grounds I stand on now. I don’t have to justify myself to anyone. I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. I do anyway, but I don’t have to. I can say no without explanation. I can say yes without reason. I can protect. I can serve. I can pull pranks. I can be everyone I’m supposed to be but on my terms. I’ve had to strip away everything in the ashes of my old life to rise again, but I am quite happy being who I am now.

When I look around at the world through these child-like eyes of mine, I see such beauty that sometimes I weep with joy. I see the smile of a person towards one of their own and the light of gratitude flashes brightly. That’s the light of love. Gratitude. Where there is love, there is gratitude for every little gift given, every glance, every ribbing and inside joke. There is thankfulness in each breath when a loved one is ailing. There is thinkfulness.

There is relief then peace when gratitude is found and met in one’s life. Every day that I’m mindful, I can be thinkful (misspelled on purpose as a hybrid of thankful and thinking): I am grateful for the quiet music in the background. I am thinkful for my visit. I am thinkful for my computer to write this. I am full of gratitude that I’m loved. I am just thinkful that my needs are all met, my body is rested, warm, and full.

Each moment I’m grateful is one that allows me to notice things differently than others because I’m tuned to the gratefulness in my life. It’s similar to breathing in love, breathing out gratitude. In a way it’s like looking for the silver lining in everything, whether perceived as good or bad, like my Uncle taught me so many years ago. Gratitude is the silver lining.

Change and Progress: Learning to Birth Risks

I am gestating in the womb of change and progress.

I am developing the skills and strength to become reborn in my own image without the yoke of false hope, without the bearing of bloody lies, without the praise for being different tainted with shame. The strings and ropes that moored me to the shore are severed with my clear consent. I am no longer anchored at the pier of someone else’s demands and lack of mercy. What is no longer necessary for my survival is falling away rapidly, some of which is regret.

I Regret that I didn’t realize sooner what was occurring. I Regret that my need to hope that things would improve could not be sated by the harmful actions of others. I Regret that I saw the omens, realized the map, and ignored my compass.

But there will be obvious bouts of discord as there always are when rebirth is occurring. There is always pain, but that is the labor of passion. That is the direction of one’s eyes being opened to a new dawn. That is the sanctity of new life being brought into the world despite the age of its possessor. It is a covenant union between life and the living. It is where, just outside of the comfort zone, new and wild adventures are committed to memories with delight. It is where the spirit remembers why the pain is sometimes deeply necessary. It’s there so we remember not to walk that path any more. That pain is there as a guidepost, a milestone, a mile-marker.

My future destination is still being navigated, charted, and lined into a clearly mapped path. But I fear the end result out of resistance to chaos, upheaval, and the possibility of error. I am petrified that I will be stillborn. I am so frightened that I won’t evolve into something or someone I recognize. I look in the mirror and wonder what’s next, what am I going to do? I play the Wo-Co-Sho (would have, could have, should have) game and the What-if’s because my uncertainty in the future is wrought with cautious ambition.

I know better. I know that I am being guided by the blessings, gifts and goals painted on my dreamy canvas. I know that what is to come is not for me to know, even if I can see glimpses of it. I know that once I’ve arrived in THAT place, it will match my vision and I will weep once again with gratitude.

But, for now, I will gestate in the womb of change while I grow into my new spirit self. While I bloom, blossom, develop, and change. The risks that are involved, while in this state, are negligible.

It’s what comes after the rebirth and during that process that will engage every moment of bravery required of my soul spirit to achieve that which my heart remembers, requires, and desires above all else. My courage will come when it is needed as long as my feet are still moving towards my own evolution and reconstruction of who I am destined to be at this time in my life.

My umbilical chord hums with rejuvenation and possibility. The anticipation of new sprinkled with historical re-validation, and written onto slightly off key musical staffs, create wonder in my spirit. I wonder if this music I hear is loud enough to be heard by others. I wonder if this tune I write will inspire others to seek their symphony, to take the risks that encourage growth into the sonata after the dirge has bilged their spirits clear of the desperate attempt to belong where they don’t.

Some of the music my spirit knows are still empty notes played at random while the steady rhythm of my heartbeat drives me forward. The harmonica plays. The violin strings. The chorus of bass (because it’s all about the bass, ’bout the bass, no trouble) drives the beat forward. I am immaculate but still dusty and bloodied from my last go round. I see the path to walk, nay run, and I lay my foot down against the soft walls of wisdom. I must keep moving forward.

The risk will be worth the reward despite the outcome of the final piece I’ve committed to writing. The outcome, come what may, will be life unfolding in a grand mastery of orchestral parts with some blended so lovingly with beauty that joy is easily found.

I will be reborn. I will shake free of this shell. I’ve become like a chrysalis wrapped tight in swaddling adventure, changing my colors, changing my heart, changing my spirit for the next chapter. I will be reborn because to remain where I am, who I am, doing what I’ve always done is not an option if I hope to experience the life I was destined to meet. I MUST risk everything in order to rise up and meet the challenge of my spirit. This temporary state of rebuilding is my sole opportunity for the path I’ve chosen. But it isn’t my only option or way to get there, it’s just my choice to follow this particular path.

One foot in front of the other. One step forward. One belief that I am more than what I am right now. One wise guide that tells me to bloom, to grow, to breathe, live, act. I follow this inner voice, but I’m truly leading myself on my own spiritual journey.