Posts Tagged ‘recovery’

Finding the Prize Inside

July 12, 2017

If you have ever opened a box of Cracker Jack, you may remember how fun it is to dig through the layers of whatever Cracker Jack is made of to find that little prize hidden somewhere inside!

We all have prizes hidden inside of us, too; talents we have not discovered, dreams that have yet to be fulfilled, and joy that is has been buried by layers of disappointments, fears, regrets, and lots of other negative stuff.

Obviously, the longer we live, the more experiences we have and unless we live in a fantasy bubble, there will be some unpleasant ones. But there will also be plenty of joyful times and it’s up to each one of us to decide which experiences we honor and keep in our hearts.

At some point, someone is going to hurt your feelings, say something unkind, or undermine your self-confidence. You will try something and fail. Your efforts may fall short. You can expect that you may meet someone along the way who doesn’t think you are wonderful. You may lose hope. That’s life and each disappointment gets you one step closer to the true abiding joy that can only come from deep within you!

It makes me sad to hear people say that they have given up on their dreams or that they can no longer find joy in life. Someone has convinced them that they have missed their window of opportunity for happiness and encouraged them to be more “realistic.” Too often, we fall victim to messages from advertisers, magazines, social media, and even people in our circle of friends and families. We believe the naysayers more than we believe in ourselves and we bury our hope and joy under layers of negativity and fear; they just stay hidden like the prizes in the Cracker Jack box….until we dig them out!

My style of Cracker Jack eating was always to dump everything out of the box and go directly to the little toy hidden in there. I think that may be a good strategy for getting to the prize inside of every one of us so we can enjoy our gifts and share them with the world.

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Rebuilding With Hope

May 19, 2014

Those who know me well are aware that I often refer to the lyrics of songs to illustrate my points. Sometimes the words of a song or a poem will express what I want to say in far better ways than I could ever present it.

There are times when life throws us some unexpected lemons and we really don’t feel like using them to make lemonade. As a matter of fact, it would probably give us a lot more satisfaction to throw those lemons at the ones who have caused us pain!

When someone or something pulls the rug out from under you and it feels as if your foundation is crumbling, you have a choice as to how you are going to let it affect you. Feeling anger, disappointment and confusion are normal reactions…for a little while. We need all of those emotions in order to process what has happened but if we allow them to linger too long in our minds, they begin to take root.

Before too long, it’s a good idea to replace those negative feelings with something that will actually allow us to heal and grow rather than to keep us feeling empty and hollow. That is where hope comes into the picture. Hope fills up all the broken and empty places and helps to make us whole once again. I like to think of it this way: Holding On to Positive Expectations.

If you replace fear, doubt and frustration with the belief that you can recover, regroup and rebuild; you will enjoy a future of possibilities rather than continue to live in remnants of the past.

Consider these words from the musical “Godspell”…

WHEN YOUR TRUST IS ALL BUT SHATTERED
WHEN YOUR FAITH IS ALL BUT KILLED
YOU CAN GIVE UP, BITTER AND BATTERED
OR YOU CAN SLOWLY START TO BUILD

Metal Chains Aren’t as Restrictive as Mental Chains!

August 18, 2013

Most people probably wouldn’t find the idea of being locked up in a prison very desirable. Given the choice, we would rather be free to roam and romp and do whatever we like to do. It is ironic, then, that we often lock chains on ourselves which make us feel trapped and powerless.

Of course, these aren’t physical chains. They are chains made of thoughts and habits which can restrict you as much as any metal restraint. Each link is made of a counterproductive belief about yourself. It can take the form of negative self-talk, self-sabotage, feelings of unworthiness, false ideas about your abilities and talents….and the list goes on.

Every time you allow your mind to spend time on these thoughts, you are tightening the grip of your shackles, and you’re putting one more lock on the door of your self-made jail cell. You will eventually find it more difficult to even ponder finding joy, success or freedom to live the life you desire.

Each one of us has a choice. The only guard at the prison door is yourself and you carry the key! You can sit on your pile of chains and mournfully sing “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” or simply claim your “pardon” and step out into freedom. The key is in your pocket. It is your ability to love and accept who you are, as you are. It is your willingness to turn your back on old fears, worries, doubts and resentments and speak to yourself kindly, with affirmations of your value.

The path may not always be easy, but it sure beats sitting chained up in a prison!

You Can’t Keep Looking to the Back of the Book for the Answers!

December 4, 2012

The Broadway musical, “Thirteen” is a show about young people coming of age and the rites of passage associated with becoming a teenager.

 

In one of the numbers, a boy sings a metaphorical song about how he’s been looking in the back of the book for the answers about life, but he is learning that he will have to hang in there until the whole story ends; because he has a little more homework to do. Of course, this is how a thirteen-year-old would think, because when we are that age; going to school, completing assignments and taking tests is a large part of our existence!

 

I like that.  I know that sometimes I am in such a rush to find out how things are going to work out, or I am in a hurry to “fix” a situation, and I become frustrated when things don’t go according to my time table. After all….doesn’t the world know who I am and what results I need and deserve???

 

I think we all continue to go through rites of passage throughout our lives…it doesn’t end when we become adults. Hopefully, we continue to grow and mature in the way we think and the way we deal with life situations.  Sometimes, it is necessary to go through some tough times in order to get to a stronger and healthier place emotionally.

 

I guess I like the song from “Thirteen” because I can relate to it. I remember being exactly that age and totally non-interested; and therefore, inept in algebra. As a result, I didn’t even try to understand it. I truly did just look in the back of the book for the answers without even attempting to work the problems on my own. I fought against doing my homework, thinking that I could skip the hard stuff and come out okay. Ding Dong, I was wrong.  Turns out that when they give you the test, they expect you to know how to figure things out and they don’t let you use the book!  Oops…..I ended up having to take the entire class over again and it wasn’t any more fun the second time! If I had tried a little patience and not skipped to the back of the book, I probably would have saved myself a lot of frustration.

 

Even now, I often want to take shortcuts. I am not willing to do what needs to be done in order to get to where I need to be. I want the answers NOW! In other words, I want to go from A to Z and be done with it. I don’t want to go through any tough times. I do not want to do my homework. Getting past the pain, avoiding the emotional roller coaster or achieving the results I want seem to hold more importance than the process of getting there. I rebel at the concept of my spiritual ore being tempered and purified into real gold. I want to shine IMMEDIATELY!

 

We all think it would be lovely to just sail through life and bypass any trials, challenges or struggles. But lessons are not learned only through successes; sometimes the greater knowledge comes from the journey. If someone is always there to give us the answers, we never find our inner strength which comes from working through the problems ourselves and coming out the other side.

 

 

We’re All Cracked Pots!

September 26, 2012

Recently, I decided to take the plunge and clean out my collection closet. I like to call it that, because it sounds a lot more elegant than what it really is; which is a place where I throw stuff that has no other place to live in my crowded house!  It is also a hotbed of memories. Boxes of old greeting cards, dried up prom corsages, pictures in black and white of times gone by, macaroni necklaces that my children made for me years ago, oddly shaped pieces of old Christmas wrapping paper and things that I cleaned out of my mother’s house after she died, had all found their way into the place where things go when there is nowhere else for them to be. I had lost control of it, and realized that the occupants of that closet were beginning to colonize and multiply.

So, I armed myself with a shovel and proceeded to sort through it all. After opening a few boxes, I realized that carnations from forty years ago tend to take the form of crunchy particles and that I couldn’t really remember just why I had saved scraps of paper or ribbons that had apparently meant something to me at one time.

And then I saw it…the cracked pot. When I was a little girl, my mother had that little porcelain pot on a shelf in the kitchen.  It was a teapot that was shaped like a cat and I loved it. Every now and then, she would let me take it down and hold it but since it was very old, it had to go right back up onto that shelf. One day, I dropped it and created a cracked cat pot. I was horrified and began to cry while picking up the chipped tail, broken ears and a cat body that was no longer in one piece. I headed over to the trash can to throw away the pieces, but my father stopped me, comforted me and scooped me up along with the cat fragments. Out to the garage we went, where he sat me down and got out the glue. As he patiently worked and pieced that pot back together, he explained to me that by the time the pieces were fitted together, the glue was dry and it was polished, it would once more look like a cat. All it needed was a little attention and it might just be stronger than it was before, because it had been reinforced! Even if one of the ears was a little shorter than the other, the tea-cat would be just fine and just as special.  Although it could no longer be used to serve hot tea, it found a new function as a beautiful vessel for fresh flowers. That day, I learned that it isn’t always necessary to throw things away when they are broken because often, they can be restored and renewed.

In later years, I learned about kintsugi…which means “golden joinery” in Japanese. It refers to the art of fixing broken ceramics with a lacquer resin made to look like solid gold. Often, a vessel mended by kintsugi will look more beautiful, and more precious, than before it was fractured.  That reminded me of my cat pot.

There is a parable about a water bearer in China who had two large pots; each one hanging on either end of a pole which he carried across his neck. One of the pots had a crack in it, which allowed some of the water to leak out. The other pot was perfect; always retaining a full portion of water.  The water bearer walked with his pots every day from the stream to his house; and always, the cracked pot arrived only half full. The perfect pot was proud of its accomplishment but the cracked pot was ashamed of its performance, which was not what it perceived it was made to do.

One day, the cracked pot said to its owner, “I am ashamed of myself because of this crack in my side which allows water to leak out all the way back to your house.”

The bearer said to the pot, “Did you notice that there were flowers only on your side of the path, but not on the other pot’s side? That’s because I have always known about your flaw, and I planted flower seeds on your side of the path. Every day while we walked back, you’ve watered them. For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table. Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house.”

Most of us are cracked pots. We’ve had experiences that have left us broken and we might even have considered ourselves as failures or useless. Ding dong, that is wrong! No matter what has happened to us; physically or emotionally, we can always be restored and often we will be stronger and more beautiful than before!  If our destiny is altered and we take a different path…it can be more rewarding than the one we originally thought we should walk.

I still have my cat teapot and I love it today more than ever because when I look at it, I am reminded that I was quick to think it needed to be thrown away.  How wrong I was! After all of these years, it still gives me joy.  It was designed to be a teapot, but like the water pot in the Chinese parable, it found a new use and now my grandchildren love to look at it and hold it, just like I did.

Just as the Japanese technique of kintsugi strengthens and enhances; so can our temporary brokenness, if we understand that every experience we have has a purpose greater than we can see.

Embrace the Detours

November 17, 2011

Sometimes we get on a path and we think we know where we’re going. We have it all planned….the route we’re going to take and how long it will take us to get there. Then, all of the sudden…WHAMMO! Something happens; a road block or a detour. We’re suddenly thrown into a tailspin as we realize that we have to go a different way and change our carefully laid plans.  This is true in driving and it is also true about life in general.   People don’t like change.  We don’t accept it readily and we fight it.  While driving, I have actually seen people get out of their cars and argue with orange cones.  The cones don’t care…they are cones of silence.  Now that I think of it….I, myself, have thrown out some harsh words at detour signs. It never does me any good because it doesn’t change anything, I can do nothing about it and I still have to take the detour.  And sometimes, I find that the different route takes me to places that I never would have seen otherwise, and I actually enjoy the scenery.  I guess I owe some of those signs an apology.

The same goes for detours in life.  There are many quotes about the uncertainty of life; like “Life is what happens while you are busy planning other things.” and “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”   I’m not really sure exactly what that one means, but I guess people and rodents often get stuck in mazes and have to find their way out. All of nature is subject to unforeseen influences and “stuff happens.”  We experience roadblocks and detours along the way and they can either make us or break us. It depends on how flexible we are and how willing we are to go with the flow.  When life throws us a curve, we can either emulate Rumplestiltskin or throw a tantrum or we can put on our big girl pants and look at the situation as an opportunity to grow.

I once drove on the highway behind a van full of children. After driving behind them for a few hours, I noticed that they were busily working on something. In a few minutes, a sign appeared in the back windshield. It was lettered in crayon and in a childish scrawl. It read “Help us please. We have to pee and daddy won’t stop.”  I guess Daddy was determined to reach his destination and didn’t want to make a detour.  Too bad….because he probably missed some nice scenery.