Tempest Quieted

Tranquil. A calm quiet envelops me. I wish I could be here forever, my heartbeat pulsing in my ears, my shoulder muscles totally slack, my breath counted in seconds, in, out, in, out, in, out.

Then, abruptly, a gust whips violently through my mind. In that second, all peace shatters, calm displaced like sand beneath a wave. An unpleasant memory, a constant worry, a fear creeps in, disperses, then prevails.

Noisy thunder clatters, a deafening muted hum resonates in my ears. All pleasant sounds are drowned out by the cacophony of this present concern. My own voice of reason is silenced.

Turmoil. The rain comes, heavy and cutting, its weight overwhelming my heart and stinging my skin. My insides are churning and heaving as if I’d just stepped off a cheap fair ride.

This storm comes without warning, without invitation, even without certain cognition. Wreaking havoc and leaving a trial of destruction, this tempest bears down. I’m undone under its influence. Drenched with “what ifs…” Submerged in its foreboding temptations, battered by its forceful anxiety.

All this and no one ever sees. No one feels a single gust, hears one clap of thunder or feels the driving rain, just me, deep down inside my heart and soul. But on the outside, all is well. That is how this tempest operates.

Then I remember these words: Peace. Be still. Spoken many centuries ago by a Man who experienced the worst possible storm ever.

I speak them to myself, like a mantra, over the splintering fright, over the soul-wrenching anguish.

They are no magical incantation. They do not even bring an immediate end to the storm. Their power simply over takes and assuages. I’m brought back to trust and faith, remembering the goodness and protection that has carried me many times before.

Renewed. The storm subsides. My soul is hushed. For now.

One Word

A few months back, I posted how we like to hear ourselves talk about this or that. This is also known as, venting, blabbing, gabbing or (if you’re of the female persuasion), bitching.

Since that post, my desire to write became wrapped in something mysterious. It was a little like fear, something until the events of this summer, I had never before experienced. Me, afraid of words? How could this be?

After some evaluation, I realized I wasn’t afraid at all; I’d simply become more cautious, more reserved. I want what I say to be reflective and impactful. Every breath matters and I don’t want to waste mine.

You see, over the summer, I met a woman who had an aura about her so divine and spiritual, her words burned into my soul. She was simple yet authentic in prayer, with pauses that were downright uncomfortable, each word deliberate and thoughtful. She didn’t waste breath, yet what she said hung in the air like a beautiful fragrance.

I guess I learned to be okay with silence, actually, not just okay, but to invite the quiet, to bask in it. And strangely when I did that, both in prayer and in life, a single word would come into focus. The prominence of that word would overcome every other thought, flickering like a neon sign until its full brilliance was illuminated.

Now I can put my finger on it: that is what has changed.

A powerful word can linger on the tongue like one bite of a decadent dessert or savory appetizer. It stays with me throughout the day, simple and beautiful. Words like:

 Lavish

Exquisite

Marvel

Array

Bountiful

Steadfast

Long-suffering

Unshackled

Enraptured

I read a statistic that women speak up to 20,000 words per day while men only 13,000. We are word gluttons, gobbling them up and spitting them out with great rapidity.

I intend to change that. Starting one word at a time.

Mary Poppins Confessional

So… remember that little phrase on my “about “ page that I am a “recovering perfectionist”? Yes, me too.  Well, pull up a chair. I have a confession to make.

Comfortable? Good. Excuse me for being a bit fidgety but, you know, I am about to “come clean”, so be nice and bear with me? K?!

I DID say recovering, nor recovered. Some habits die hard, they say. Well, I am thinking that ALL habits die hard.

I am a doer- a worker bee extraordinaire.  Busy, busy, busy all the time- buzzing around- finding a corner to dust (wait, why did I just say that- I LOATHE dusting!!) or a counter to wipe or an email to type or a cookie to bake. Talking on the phone pains me unless I am doing the dishes or folding laundry while talking. Multi-tasker is my middle name.

Have I ever gone to coffee with you? If I have, I enjoyed it. Trust me. I love coffee and talking with a friend makes it twice as nice. Oh, how my mind does wander though… My husband pokes fun at me because he asks a question and sometimes it takes me awhile to answer. Be nice, now! I have to shut off a million other thoughts before I can get to your question. I like to think of my mind as a “old-fashioned” pinball machine; my thoughts like the shiny metal balls pinging all over the place, bouncing up to proper order when I hit them into submission with my little “get it together” levers!!!

Rest and Relaxation rarely find their place on my “to do” list. You might as well replace those words with “idleness” and “laziness”. Call it a generational curse- my mom (bless her heart) was my teacher. Her theme was: “A man’s work is from sun to sun. A woman’s work is never done.” Literally, that’s what I heard my whole growing up years. She was always working, busy and active, that is until she got very sick with cancer and was forced to rest.

Back to me…

So why, you may be asking, the confession? Am I trying to assuage a guilty conscience? Am I trying to make all of you who are NOT this way, feel like slackers? No and No. As a matter of fact, I have fallen under the heavy hand of conviction (if you will) to:

 Stop the glorification of busyness!

Because you see, as I also mentioned in the “about” page,  I am also, hmmm, just a teensy-tiny bit STUBBORN. The lesson to slow down, relax and enjoy life has been pounded into me for years. I resist. It comes back to haunt me. One of the last words of wisdom spoken by my mom was that she wished she would have spent less time cleaning and more time “playing”.

Being busy is my habit and in itself is not a bad one (better to be a hard worker than a lazy one). When it comes right down to it though, I guess you could call it my idol. Yikes! That sounds ugly and it is.

So here’s what I am learning:

  • Rest and relaxation are GOOD things. God “created” the act of resting.
  • They are necessary- not “necessary evils”- but actually needed for greater productivity in the end.
  • I have ADD and I am ok with that!:)
  • Relaxing makes me a happier, more peaceful person. (Which I am quite sure my family would nod in hearty approval to!)
  • When I don’t rest enough, I get resentful of other people who are relaxing and I expect others (meaning hubby & kids) to be right alongside me- busy, busy.
  • In my buzzing, I am likely to miss “hearing” opportunities to help or give to someone or something of a much greater value.
  • Working hard does not always mean working efficient– as brought to my attention by my ever-loving, sweet, “managerial type” hubby, in a very kind way of course!

Recovering, yes. RECOVERED, no. Learning, as we all should be, to become a better version of me. Striving to be a more “things that matter” person. Thankful, that I have energy to get things done. Remembering, that without my Master, I can do nothing of my own accord to change myself.

Thanks for listening. I hope that, maybe, just maybe if you are like me (even a little bit), you will consider this a challenge to rest. Oh and please, would you put away that chair you got out? 🙂

Listen to the Quiet

Recently, I went on a hike near our home. It was a gorgeous day trip with my sister celebrating our birthdays and another year of life together.

As we climbed our way up the mountain, there was plenty of chatting and laughing.  There were the comments about the lovely Manzanita bushes and pine trees cohabitating beautifully. There was the conversation about aging (yikes!), raising teenaged kids and living peaceably with our husbands. With only a handful of other humans nearby, it felt almost as if the mountain was ours for the taking.

 Since we are getting old –ahem- we had to stop now and then to rest. We made these stops meaningful by looking at the scenery and marveling.  At one of these moments, I exclaimed (in a bossy little sister kind of way), “Stop talking!” And we did. We just stood in the middle of the trail. Silent. That’s when I heard something I hadn’t in a long time- a quiet that transcends even the quietest moment at home or work.

With three children, a husband, a cat, a dog and my job at an elementary school, quiet is a rarity for me, especially THIS kind of quiet. It resounded in my ears in a rather oxymoronish kind of way. It enveloped me, mind and body.

What we do not realize is how downright noisy our lives are. Even in the most silent moments, there is the ever-present din of white noise- the buzz of the refrigerator, the soft hum of electronics, the ticking clock. Then there are the “people and pet” sounds. We are a noisy bunch! Video game sounds (think machine guns and zombies), music (think teenaged kids blasting stuff I am not a fan of), talking, talking, talking, the dog barking, the cat meowing, the exhaust fans, the heating/ac unit cycling on and off, etc. My ears are filled to the brim sometimes.

I crave quiet. We as humans, especially those answering to the call of “mom”, need to get quiet. Just like a plant needs both water and sunlight to survive, we were created to thrive in the noise of other people and things. If not for those, we become weird hermit -like creatures.  Yet, we must also have the renewal of a quiet that feeds the soul and nourishes the mind- the kind that envelopes us in a haven of rest, like the silence of that rocky hiking trail.