Monthly Archives: August 2014

Make a decision and make it the right decision

When I was young I hated having to choose. I always knew that whichever choice I made, I would regret it. Inevitably, I would make the “wrong” choice.

If I had to choose whether to spend the weekend with my mother at home or my dad in New York City, I knew that halfway through the weekend I would wish I was with the opposite parent. I was certain that the grass was always greener wherever I wasn’t, and that it was my fault – my ignorance and my mistake – for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Fast forward many, many years and many, many decisions later, and I still stumbled when asked to choose. Which entrée did I want? Should I rest or run? Hang at home or go away? My worry that life would be better on the road not taken could keep me from taking any road, from making any choice. And every parent’s nightmare (or at least mine) – I watched my kids struggle at times with the same challenge. I watched their indecision and their consequent regret. I understood it, and hated seeing it.

Then someone suggested that I simply make a decision and then make it the right one. That I choose not to second guess. Not to allow myself to rethink what I’d already thought through. That once my decision was made, I should just tell myself that it was right, look for evidence of my excellent choice, and allow myself to enjoy the outcome. This new approach was so great, I taught it to my kids as well.

Make a decision and make it the right decision. Make a decision and keep reminding myself, if necessary, that I made the right choice – that any choice can be, and was, the right choice. That the grass is a fine color right where I am.

I wonder if I could have been that sure when I was choosing between parents?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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What makes sunflowers so special anyway?

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I’ll mention it again. Last year we were blessed with a four-week sabbatical in Morocco and Spain. Four weeks of family time. Four weeks of family dinners (my favorite part). Four weeks of beauty and sights and too many cathedrals (if you ask my son).

It gave me memories that will last forever, even though they’ve started to fade in their intensity. These days I sometimes focus on them intentionally, to keep them as alive as I can.

Why is it that sights and sounds and experiences feel, in the moment, like you’ll never forget them? And then they get looser and blurrier with time, and you have to turn to someone who was with you then and ask, “did we really see that, or did I imagine it?”

A memory I swore I’d always have is the fields of sunflowers. We were driving a highway in the south of Spain, on our way from Granada to Sevilla. We were surrounded by fields of sunflowers as far as we could see in every direction. My kids were in the back seat, sharing earphones and listening to music, and I stared out the window at the fields and fields of sunflowers.

Were they raising the sunflowers for the seeds? Or for the flowers themselves? Had we stumbled upon the sunflower capital of the world? I never guessed that sunflowers were raised in southern Spain. I never thought to guess.

What makes sunflowers so special anyway? It could be because they’re my husband’s favorite flower, but it’s more than that. They’re tall. They’re stately. They’re beautiful. They follow the sun. And fields and fields and fields of them, as far as the eye could see, inspired and moved me.

Another moment of a beauty caught off the side of the road. Another opportunity to witness the wonder of life in our world. Another gift to acknowledge and accept and appreciate.

That breathtaking field of sunflowers – another memory to actively hold onto. To remember. To enjoy.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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Feel the fear

I’m afraid. I know I have no reason to be. I am safe. Life is good. But I’m afraid.

I can feel it in the pit of my stomach, or maybe the pit of my heart. It makes me wonder if I’ve always had this low-grade fear with me. Has it been my constant companion, and I’m only now noticing it?

I know I had reasons to be afraid when I was young. Things happened. People were undependable and scary. My dad left. My mom left. But I have no reasons now. And yet I am afraid.

I decide not to run from it. I breathe through it. I remind myself of the acronym I learned in Al-Anon so many years ago – that fear is False Evidence Appearing Real. I know, rationally, that that is true. I stay with the fear, keeping it company instead of chasing it away. I pull out all my “mindfulness” tricks, and let the fear be for now. I’ve learned that my tough emotions diminish when I don’t fight against them. If I can let fear or anger or sadness flow through me, they lose some of their ability to take me down and out. As I let the fear be, its potency lessens.

I reach for my new practice – reminding myself that right here, right now, everything is fine and I’m okay. There are no threats. There is no danger. There isn’t even any discomfort in this moment. I am all right, right now. And I am. The fear is there, but less so than it was.

I practice compassion. Instead of worrying about why I’m fearful, or condemning myself for being afraid, I put my hand on my heart and say to myself, “Lisa, I care about your suffering. It’s okay that you feel afraid. You don’t have to, but it’s okay that you do.” I forgive myself for getting caught in the fear, and allow myself, once again, to be imperfect in my recovery. And I feel my caught-ness subsiding.

And I make myself a cup of tea. And sit on my side porch in the breeze and the shade, where I can notice the beautiful day. I anchor myself in all that’s fine and wonderful and I know that I’m okay.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!

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