Re-Defining Moments

reflective drop

Sometimes the moments that turn our world upside down…are the very moments that bring shining clarity.

Defining moments. Do you have one? Or several?

It’s hard to believe that my defining moment was over 5 and a half years ago. Time is a weird thing. Because it seems like these really big moments – moments that change everything, like a birth of a child, or a death of a loved one, a cancer diagnosis – are both like yesterday and a life time ago at the same time.

For me, it was the moment I gave up. I surrendered to my demons. Depression had won. I will spare the terrifying details, but I am incredibly lucky to have survived to tell about it.

I choose to write about this now and then for a few reasons. I don’t want to ever forget it, or take my life for granted. And I promised to find a way to make that terrible negative into an incredible positive…though at the time, I had no idea what that even meant or if it were even possible.

At the time it was termed a break down. But since the years have passed, it has turned into my break THROUGH. Break away. Break loose. Break free. Break ANYTHING but, down.

But no one had a way of knowing that. And it’s not a common thing. Most people that go through something like that don’t bounce back. If anything, they become a repeat statistic and a disabled victim of society.

So people steered clear and waited…holding their breath to see what might become of me. Heck. I was one of those people too. I had no idea if I had what it took to rise above and become a fully functioning person again. For months it was like walking on thin ice for sure.

But to their surprise…and even more to mine…I am kicking some break-through ass over here people! I mean can I get a witness? And this is not a bragging moment about how great I am. This is a bragging moment about how THANKFUL I am! I mean this could have easily gone south and be a very dark story – probably on a grave stone.

So what set me apart from the stats? How did I beat the odds of becoming a revolving door into the psyche ward of what I have termed “catch and release”?

In one simple and easy word…Perspective.

It sounds too damn easy, right? So easy, it’s elusive. A trick. Too good to be true.

But here is the thing. Changing your perspective is not as easy as it sounds. It’s the same reason addicts rarely can break their chains. Chemicals carve deep canyons of darkness into our brains that make it almost impossible to climb out of in order to create new paths, and carve new canyons of light.

Changing your perspective is not as easy as just making a quick rash decision or new year resolution. It requires intense, thoughtful, soul searching reflection. It requires active intention…followed by actual actions. And then repetitive, intentional, thoughtful actions. Then follow up to those actions, and so on. It’s actual work!

Actions reaching toward a defined goal. Just as if you were working out. This is like a work out for your brain, emotions and soul. And instead of a goal of getting your body fit and healthy…your goal is to get brain and emotions fit and healthy. Just like working out – you have to be committed and do it even on the days you don’t feel like it! (And physically working out doesn’t hurt either).

And people…NEVER, EVER, discount the possibility or need to take doctor prescribed medication. It is really, really foolish to think you don’t need it. It’s as foolish as a diabetic refusing their meds. And in time, you may or may not even need them…but if a medical professional recommends it…for God’s sake try it. Depression is a chemical imbalance. Take it from me…Depression cannot be beaten on prayers alone.

I equate medication to a catalyst that flings you towards your goal of getting healthy. No matter how hard I had tried to break free of my dark canyon, I couldn’t jump high enough without that damn medication. As much as I may hate to admit it…it was just the kick in the ass I needed.

Each day I took baby steps. I had no idea what to expect. I just knew I had to keep taking one little step at a time. It required getting out of my comfort zone. Letting go of the past. Cutting off destructive people in my life. And most of all…finding the beauty in the every day life that was all around me. Everything that I took for granted before, was now like a child like wonder.

I didn’t know at the time how pivotal that last point was going to be in my life. I had always been a nature nut, but I didn’t know it was going to change me or save my life.

In my quest to go out and find beauty right where I was, I ended up discovering a whole new world I didn’t know really existed – right under my nose…under my feet…all around.

Rebuilding myself was not easy. It honestly was like being reborn. Maybe that is why it all came together the way it did. I had become child like. As if I were breathing, walking and seeing things – all for the first time.

I started going out and looking at frost up close for the first time – with the stubborn curiosity of a child. And what I found was extraordinary! The sheer detail in one tiny flake of frost is incredibly fascinating and humbling. Then I started studying individual snowflakes. And in the spring it was all about the morning dew drops

on ordinary grass and weeds that transformed the yard into sparkling jewels and reflective drops.

And now…I find it everywhere. Beauty in nearly everything. That has spilled over into many other areas of my life. I am more patient, kind, and forgiving – but far, far from perfect, and I don’t get it right every time. My kids and husband will be the first to tell you, I am still have limits and can lose my mind now and then. And there are still people in my life that present ever growth building potential. : )

The goal has never been perfection anyway! And that should never be your goal for anything either! That only sets you up for failure and giving up.

The goal is just baby steps forward, every day, toward some kind of goal. That’s all I still continue to do now. I just update my goals from time to time to keep me reaching and growing. Even when I take a few steps backwards…I am still so much farther forward than I was almost 6 years ago.

Newsflash…that’s all any successful person is doing anyway! Taking baby steps forward and totally winging it! I was reminded of that when I watched Cast Away this weekend. Great movie, and there is a line in there where he says, “I just had to keep breathing, and keep going. One day at a time”.

Look. There is no road map to any of this. But know you are not alone in any of this as well. Nature Nut stuff may not be your thing, and that is ok. But find something. Find your inner nerd child/kid and run with it like your life depended on it.

Life is short. Life is unfair. Life is hard. All obvious clichés. But life is also full of crazy beauty. Find it.

I share a lot of the beauty I find now with others online. Sometimes people are just as amazed as I was at some of these sights. And that spurs me on to keep going and dig even deeper. It’s not just for myself now, but helping others find the beauty right where they are too.

What started out as one day at a time, one photo at a time, has become a real passion. I am not the best photographer by any means. I don’t go out thinking I’m going to get the greatest shot ever. I just have fun. In my mind, I’m just a kid with a camera on a scavenger hunt. Cause that’s just it – I never know what I might find. And 9 times out of 10 the best picture I get any given day is a shot I had not planned on getting.

Look me up on Instagram @findbeautywhereyouare and if you find some amazing beauty right where you are – #it to #findbeautywhereyouare

It’s my little movement and tribute to jumping out of my dark canyon into a new lighter, sillier path. It would be the best compliment ever and be one more baby step toward making that negative into something positive, and towards something much bigger than me.

 

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The Perspective of Beauty – Get Close

Living in the Midwest can sometimes make it hard to find beauty right where you are. With the extra brutal winters of late and string of rainy days, it can feel like only gray and brown exists. Cabin fever sets in. Restlessness. Even depression.

And if you can’t afford to get away for a break – it can feel like you are stuck in some forsaken, barren land.

Well – that’s at least my take on it. Or…it was for many years.

I used to think – if ONLY I could get to somewhere with clear tropical waters, flowers in abundance, sunshine and life! THEN I could find some beauty.

Over the past few years I have launched a new quest for myself and sanity to find beauty right where I am. Right in my own back yard…at any given time of the year.

It has required some childlike perspective and open mindedness. It has required me to get close and deep and sometimes in uncomfortable angles to get close enough to see it.

For example. What do you see here?

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Just a plain old bench.

But wait…it frosted last night. AGAIN! I am so sick of frost and cold!

Yet…Take a closer look.

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Still…nothing super amazing I guess. But what if you looked even closer and harder?

frost on wood bench

Dude…What is this? Diamonds? Crystals?

Click on the picture to see it even closer and it really comes to life.

Wow! That’s it! Beauty. Right here in the gray boring Midwest. Right there on my patio bench. Hiding right under my nose.

Right under your nose too.

Life can be hard. It can drag us down now and then. Sometimes all you want or need is just a little glimmer of hope. Something to look forward to. An unexpected beautiful surprise.

Instead of being frustrated at what feels like an eternal winter or late spring, try to find some amazing hidden beautiful surprise. Something you have probably walked right by a million times but never took the time to get close enough.

Once you find that first hidden beautiful thing, you are going to want to run and share it with someone. It’s pretty powerful. And catching.

Whether it is a water drop on a blade of grass, clouds in an interesting formation, a sun dog, frost up close, or whatever – it is all part of a new perspective that has a way of carrying over into other areas of life.

Good luck finding something completely ordinary, and then finding something completely extraordinary when you take the time.

spring frost 008

get closer…

Frost flower

Have yourself a beautiful little rainy gray day

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Kids have the ability to see what most adults have lost somewhere along the way…The ability to see joy – even in the rain.

I used to be the person that would get mad when it rained. Especially when it was a string of rainy days on end where it feels as if the world will always be a gray muddy mess.

I needed the sun! No, I deserved it! And if my expectations weren’t met I’d get all bent out of shape and let it ruin the day. Especially if was a Saturday or Sunday. I would spend so much energy being angry and focusing on what I didn’t get, that it would rob all the beauty that was waiting to be found right in front of me.

A different kind of beauty. The kind of beauty I couldn’t see. I couldn’t adjust my controlled plan on how things were “supposed to be” to allow myself to see what “is”.

My mind couldn’t process joy because it was focused on the injustice of having to work all sunny week and then be paid back with soggy gray weekends. Unfair!!

A whole world of awesomeness was awaiting me…all I needed to do was adjust my perspective. I wasted days and…really years to anger.

Life is different now.

At least in some ways. I am now 6 years removed from a messy divorce. Time has healed (and in some cases still healing) many of those battle scars and trust issues.

I also had to face that fact that I had carried a lot of unaddressed anger from an unconventional childhood with a mom that suffered from severe mental handicaps which had left me a prisoner of fear, anger and confusion in general.

That meant taking time to mourn, deal and move past these things instead of bury them or hide behind some mask. I had to learn to say I am NOT ok, get help, and give myself room to heal. I was letting all these negative factors dictate how I viewed the world.

But in many ways my life is very much same. Many of the same factors are at play. I am still me. Same city. Same job. Same general struggles and constraints (time, finances, health, etc.).

So what IS different? And why?

A few main things:

First, I stopped trying to control everything!!

I surrendered the inclination to have a plan for everything and insisting everything go according to that plan. OMG…do you know how exhausting it was to be responsible for everything? And how much potential fun was sucked out of the room (and my life) by being so rigid?

I had to, sorry, but true…”Let it Go” like Elsa, or “Shake it off” like Taylor.

And guess what – letting go of that control was very freeing! Even spontaneous and fun!

The problem I have now is being TOO spontaneous and lacking a plan for things that really do need some forethought (Maybe I’m making up for lost time).

Secondly, I accepted things as they are.

Me as me (flawed). Others as they are (flawed). Weather for what it is (unpredictable). Life for what it is (hard, unfair…yet wonderful).

No more comparing what “could” be or what “should” be. No more wishing for something different. Just plain and simple accepting what I have right in front of me and making the most of it!

That includes getting to the place of acceptance with even tough breaks like divorce or moms with schizophrenia and a host of other tragic things that can happen in ones life. Accept (on your own time line) and then move on.

And again…guess what? Sweet freedom. No more false expectations to live up to. Acceptance has paved the way towards transparency…vulnerability…realness. I have more genuine friendships and people in my life than ever before because of this.

So when this past spring break week was mixed with freezing temperatures, snow, and rain nearly every single day…It was ultimate test. Had I really changed? Or was I just blowing hot air?

I was beyond thankful and extra pleasantly surprised to find that somehow those lessons have sunk below the skin into the deep corners of my soul that so desperately needed it. Ironically – like a good hearty rain sinking deep into a thirsty garden patch.

I had the whole week off to spend one-on-one time with only my youngest, which I rarely get to do. And while my friends were on sunny fabulous beaches…it didn’t even make me frustrated or jealous that we were bundled in 5 layers and prepared for a monsoon, or snow storm, or a polar vortex, or…

I was genuinely happy for my friends because it was not about comparisons. It was about celebrating what I have right here right now. So all that mattered is that me and lil tid bit had 5 days to spend together however we wanted!

Though we had envisioned going hiking and having picnics at play grounds, we easily changed our plans for indoor things like the Conservatory, bowling and movies. And had a blast doing it.

Shopping for the cutest rain gear from head to toe was also a key strategic move so she could play and dance in the rain (and look extra ridiculously cute doing it)!. I mean what kid doesn’t love splashing in puddles? Well guess what? We did a LOT of that! I gave her free reign. Get to jumpin’ kid!

So – I can’t take all the credit. A little brown eyed girl had a lot to do with my joy. But had I still been in control freak angry mode…I might have not seen or even allowed all those wonderful things to just be.

Last point – These past few years I have made it a quest to seek out beauty right where I am. And let me tell you – when it rains, that is prime time to find some serious beauty right in your own yard. I honestly think that has also helped my perspective.

I get excited when it rains because I know I can head out when it stops and find all kinds of beautiful dew drops.

Just some dew drops on a blad of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

Just some ordinary dew drops chilling on a blade of grass. #findbeautywhereyouare

Plus the creek will flow extra high and I can hear it if I open a window. And of course, there’s the potential for rainbows and may flowers and maybe faeries and unicorns if you look hard enough.

I guess what I am saying is: Perspective really is everything. Overcoming the past. Replacing anger/bitterness with childlike curiosity. Trading expectations for the serendipity. Basically, exchanging your grumpy pants for some cute galoshes.

I can’t say I have completely mastered this. At any given moment I am still on a sliding scale of humanness. All I can say is that I strive towards it. I surround myself with like minded people that ground me and pull me back to this direction if I start steering off course.

But, I highly recommend buying some rain boots and to throw out your narrow minded, limited script for heaven’s sake and have yourself a beautiful little rainy gray day!!

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unscripted joy

What the Water Told Me

Indeed I do love Florence and the Machine’s song, but this is more of what the water told me – directly. Well, not with words because what would be both creepy and psychotic, but rather – here is a lesson I learned from watching and listening to water.

Anyone that knows me knows I have a fascination…no, possible addiction to flowing water. I could honestly sit and watch it for hours. It is one of the most therapeutic things I know of. So now that I live right beside a creek is pure and total joy for me. It’s the closest I have ever come to (un)intentionally meditating. Just sitting there, focused on watching the water flow, watching how it moves and flows over and around rocks. Peaceful fascination.

And that’s when I got it. A rock, or an obstacle doesn’t stop water (unless it’s like a hoover dam kind of obstacle…that kind of stops it up pretty good). Water flows right over it and around it. It covers it. It dances as if moving right through it. It gracefully tumbles and rolls. And as the water flows over these obstacles it makes music.

In fact a creek with no obstacles may be kind of beautiful in it’s own right, but honestly it is quite boring compared to a creek with rushing, bubbling life…which can only come through chaos and interruption.

The very prettiest parts of a creek are at those places with the biggest obstacles and disruptions. It causes ripples, motion, breaking of the water that creates the most comforting lulling sound. In some cases the water appears to be flowing backwards as backcurrents are created with all it’s bubbling and churning.

Wait – kill the pan flute…I think I might throw up a little…a big unicorn and rainbow glittery kind of throw up.

Bleck…enough whimsical talk. Here is the break down peeps.

Water can carve rock.

Water can move mountains (even if it takes a very, very, very long time)

Which brings us to another point…Water is persistent.

And – it doesn’t work alone. One water molecule can’t do much, but bonded with others – it is incredibly powerful. It can also use even abrasive things like sand and rocks to help it towards it’s purpose of reshaping canyons, or grinding boulders into crystal beaches.

And yes – it pushes through obstacle after obstacle and makes something incredibly and surprisingly beautiful out of it…and keeps going.

Sometimes I feel like my life gets a bit chaotic. Sometimes I have even felt trapped in a back current of endless churning but it’s important to:

Keep moving.

Find a way to take the grit in life and make it work for you.

Don’t always work alone.

And make music as you go.