One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

One step forward, two steps back.

It’s not just a fancy little cha-cha-cha – it’s the way I live.

If I’m really honest, I feel more like a plate spinner. And, on particularly cruel days, I get all of my plates in the air and God/Universe/Spirit sends a hurricane my way. I can’t even find my damn plates – much less piece them back together. (And, if you’ve been following along, you know I lost my plates in July.)

So, I’ve been reading, churching, praying, cursing, meditating, walking the beach, cursing, going to yoga, writing, cursing, riding my bike and generally trying to figure out a different way. Because, I feel like I’m losing the same plates over and over and over again. I want to learn the lesson so I can pass the test and keep the plates. (And get my gold star on the awesome chart.)

Does that resonate with any of you? Do you feel like you keep getting the same test . . . and failing? And, Lord HELP, I’m not even a good test taker!

I’m reading Marianne Williamson’s “A Return to Love,” and she shares an idea from “A Course in Miracles” that “it’s not up to us what we learn, but only whether we learn through joy or through pain.”

Well, hot shit and hallelujah . . . I choose joy, because I’ve had a gut-ful of pain. Can I get an Amen?!?!?

Now, as lovely as that sounds – it’s not so easy, right? I mean, HOW do you actually engage the joyful learning experience? (That’s not rhetorical – I REALLY want to know because I’m tired of the cage match smack-down.)

Mastin Kipp talks about reframing life’s experiences in a way that sets the expectation that life is actually rigged in our favor. Now, that’s a delicious nugget!

Perhaps the lost plates weren’t really MY plates – and the hurricane freed my hands. I mean, I didn’t particularly like that color or pattern, anyway. Now, I have the opportunity to paint my own pottery! (Ladies, grab the wine.)

BUT, to make that connection, I have to be able to trust both path and journey.

Or, at least that’s what everyone keeps telling me. “Trust that you’re on the right path,” they say. (Never mind I’ve skinned my shin and have a bump on my head from falling over tree roots on the path. Can one of y’all bring a saw out here?!?!?)

Or, do I have to trust the path?

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

It sounds to me like I should trust the path maker – not necessarily the path. And, it just so happens that said path maker is also the potter we read about in Jeremiah.

So, if God is FOR me, he is a loving teacher. And, according to James 1:2-3, we are to count it all JOY when you fall into various trials knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.

And, if I am his clay, then He can help me fire and paint and glaze gorgeous new plates . . . IF I can trust and hand over my life to him.

Trust, again . . . my Achilles heel.

So, here I am, limping towards the throne, grasping my mustard seed size faith, wondering how I’m actually going to lay down my problems and pride in order to learn my lessons. Because, I really, truly and with my whole heart want to start spinning spectacular, shiny new plates!

*sigh*

I guess I’ll just do it the same way I’ve done everything else  . . . one step forward, two steps back, cha-cha-cha.

BOOBIES . . . and other bits

“An iced venti bold with room, please.”

I took my place in the pickup line behind four twitching, scratching souls longing for their afternoon fix. It’s hot in Florida . . . and heat makes people do crazy things. As does caffeine withdrawal. Silent prayer – please, Lord, let us hold it together a moment longer.

“Brandy,” YES!!! I enjoyed a silent celebration (and inner victory dance) as I grooved past the 6-pump, double-shot, extra hot, half-whip folks. Their eyes sliced me from the side.

I grabbed a napkin (or five, because I’m a little clumsy) and stirred in my half-and-half (don’t judge, almond milk isn’t friendly in coffee!) and THAT’S when I saw her. The girl to my right – coffee half-lifted, stir stick dangling over the trash between fixed fingers – head tilted, mouth open, eyes horrified, brow confused.

OHHHHHHHH DELIGHT!!! What horrors hide over my left shoulder?!?!?

I put the lid on my coffee and took a sip as I turned. Then, I promptly doubled over and shot coffee out of my nose. The man sitting behind me was slowly – and quite happily – scrolling through an email of various, errrrrrr, ladies . . . and their bits. Midday. In Starbucks. On free wifi.

I still roar with laughter thinking about the absurdity. I feel horribly for the families who stopped for a summer respite . . . only to end up in an unfortunate conversation with their children. And what about the ladies, themselves? Do they know about their debut? Do they care?

Walking down the sidewalk I considered, is it be better to be physically naked or emotionally exposed?

A few years ago, I took surfing lessons with some of my best girlfriends. The first couple of rides were surprisingly successful. Then, I bit it . . . in a GLORIOUS way.

Tumbled under surf, scraped by sand, wrapped in seaweed, pummeled by shells . . . tethered to a board by the ankle. (Why did this sound fun?) I slammed into the shallows happy to be alive. Nauseous and confused, I jumped up from the water with arms overhead to see the worried face of my friend Lara.

She yelled to me, but I couldn’t hear or process the words. She swam closer.

“BOOBIES!!!”

“WHAT???”

“BOOBIES!!!”

I looked behind me, completely confused, “WHAT??? WHERE?!?!?”

“YOURS!!!”

In that moment, feeling rushed back into my body. Under the churn, my rash guard and bathing suit fixed themselves around my neck. And, when I popped up . . . I stood naked in the water.

Dip. Dress.

Our stomachs ached from laughter. Tears streamed down our already salty faces. And, here’s what I can tell you – it was far easier for me to be exposed physically.

I think that’s why I put off writing for so long. To hit Publish is to disrobe my soul.

Then, I must ask, beyond writing, am I able to be emotionally exposed? You know, as I ‘do life’ with people.

Am I willing to be vulnerable and open in the relationships that matter?

Am I able to stand “naked” in front of someone and say, “These are my beautiful scars and, in them, I carry the stories of my hurt, my healing and my strengths?”

I have to admit that this is unbelievably hard for me. I don’t like to show my struggle. I want everything to appear perfectly packaged. I don’t want to show that I’m paddling furiously beneath the water’s surface to stay afloat.

I don’t want to. But, somehow, I can’t not.

I feel an incredible call to be real and perfectly imperfect. For me, to be real means to show up – with my scars and scabs – asking to be loved and accepted anyway. Because, who among us has a perfect life? Who hasn’t had bumps and bruises? Who isn’t enjoying the continuous beat of an intricately scarred heart?

So, as you go through your day, look around. Really notice the family, the friends and the strangers in your life.

Who is saying, “Here I am . . . all boogers and bruises . . . won’t you please like me anyway?”

Who stands bravely naked?

Who allows their truest selves to be seen?

Are you one of them?

(To the teacher who had to see my surfing lesson in someone’s “My Summer Vacation” report, I sincerely apologize. *facepalm*)