Friday, June 22, 2012

Who I Really Am

Today, I remember.

Today, I have energy, enthusiasm, courage, love, joy, strength.

This is who I really am.  Sometimes I forget.

Sometimes I live in a very small, dismal world that would seek to confine me within its narrow parameters.  Sometimes I understand those who choose to remain indoors always, unable to face the expanse of a broader world filled with fast cars, high demands, and great expectations.

But that's not who I really am.

I love challenges.  I love projects.  I love work.  I love hobbies.  I love people.  I love the Lord.

And that's who I really am.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Tennis Shoes Up On the Handle Bars

"I remember how it used to feel
Ridin' down ol' two mile hill
Tennis shoes up on the handlebars
Payin' no mind to the passin' cars
No doubts, no fears...."

Ah, nothing like a good ol' Randy Travis song to say it like it is.  

I remember those days well.  There was nothing like the freedom one felt speeding along on a bide as a kid.  

Freedom.  That's what I felt more than anything.  I could go places quickly; I could explore the town; I could feel quite grown up and independent.  Nothing was quite as liberating.

I have often thought about those days of riding over to main street, to friends' houses, to summer band camp with a clarinet case balanced precariously on the handle bars as I steered with one hand.

I never remember feeling like it was exercise.  It was just fun.  It was just freedom.  It was just...well in the past!

How times have changed.

Recently as an anniversary gift, my husband bought me a new bike.  It is beautiful.  It is fancy.  It has all the bells and whistles one could want in a bike, minus an annoying bike bell. I am set.

Hmmm.  Just a minute.  If I want to go to main street, I have an easier way. If I want to go to a friend's house, I can go in the air-conditioned convenience of my car.  Freedom, I do not lack.  Liberation, I do not need.

So what did I think I needed a bike for.

Oh yea. 


Problem is I live in a city built on hills.  My neighborhood has so many ups and downs it is impossible to even go around the block without encountering heart-pumping obstacles.


A few years ago my husband and I rented bicycles at the Santa Monica Pier and rode along the beach without a care in the world. On a perfectly flat sidewalk, I did get a glimpse of the freedom I had enjoyed as a kid. I believe I could have gone on for miles. And I believe that was in the back of my mind as I anxiously picked out my new beauty of a bike.

Imagine my embarrassment when the first time out for a ride around the neighborhood, I ended up having to walk my bike home, with my tail between my quivering, wobbly legs.

So I guess I need to re-evaluate my strategy.  Forty years has put me at a different place.  I may be a little smarter and wiser now (that's debatable), but I certainly am carrying more of a burden than my soft muscles and shallow lungs can handle.
"Took a little time to get up to speed
                     To find the confidence and the strength I'd need
To just let go and reach for the sky
You know, sometimes it felt I could fly....."

I guess I need to listen to Randy Travis a little more, realize that it won't happen overnight nor without loading up the bike to go find some flatlands. But I am determined not to give up.  I have had just enough taste of the past to crave that freedom again.

"It doesn't take much
                                         And I'm a kid again.
I can almost feel that wind..."

Sadly, it's all uphill from here. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Message in a Bottle

I've just spent the day reading a book from cover to cover.  I rarely do that.  Usually I am conscientious and responsible. Not today.  My dishes are not done.  My bed isn't made.  I am still wearing my workout clothes from this morning's walk.


But I am in a different place now than I was earlier today.  Sometimes I am hampered by despair.  Inexplicable despair.  For-no-good-reason despair.

Sometimes I think I can explain it, or at least partially understand where it comes from.  Today I couldn't.  I needed to do things and yet I was paralyzed.  Not paralyzed by fear.  Paralyzed with the inability to motivate myself. 

I wish it was just laziness.  Truthfully, sometimes it is, but those days are filled with joy and the deliberate choice to play hooky and be lazy.

Knowing that my day was going to be difficult, I picked up a book to hide within. Just a book that happened to be within arm's reach.

I don't know what happened.  Maybe it was the sun on my face coming through the window.  Maybe it was reading about someone with a legitimate reason to want to run away.  Maybe it was grace from a loving Heavenly Father who sent me an important message to "Live."

We must choose, you know.

     "Just before she died, McKale asked me to promise her that I would live."

     She nodded.  "I think we all have to make that choice.  I meet dead people every day at the diner."

     "What do you mean?"

     "People who have given up.  That's all death requires of us, to give up living."

     I wondered if I was one of them.

     "The thing is, the only real sign of life is growth.  And growth requires pain.  So to choose life is to accept pain."

I know that there are people with "real" problems that face the decision to live or give up each day.  And then, of course, that makes me beat myself up for having imaginary problems.  But are they really?  I don't know what things you struggle with, and you don't know what I struggle with, and perhaps it is best if we keep it that way.

The book is called simply, The Walk.  It is by Richard Paul Evans and I found it to be engaging from the first paragraph of the Prologue.  It is elegant in its simplicity.  It captures the universal dream of running away from it all.  Admit it.  You have thought about that at least once in your life, haven't you?

I love my life.  I really do.  I have the freedom to enjoy a variety of pursuits.  I have people who really love me.  They do!  Who can say why, but they do.  I have been blessed with good health, with a sound mind, with a profound relationship with my Savior.

When life gets difficult I simply need to remember to glance upward and see that eternity is my covering, as it was with Patriarch Abraham and Mother Sarah (Abraham 2:16).  They never lost hope, but pushed forward in pursuit of the great blessings they had been promised. I suspect they even had days of discouragement.

Sometimes I wish I could write what I am feeling and send it off in a bottle in the sea.  Then I could be pretty well-assured that no one would ever read it.  It is difficult to send off a blogpost because even though it is nearly as lost in oblivion as that bottle would be, there are a handful who may actually find it and glimpse into my soul.

Treat it kindly, dear reader.  And perhaps take solace in discovering that others can have bad days too.

May we choose to live; to drink in life to its fullest, and remember that the only real sign of life is growth.