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My Perfect Roses

Last Sunday, my thoughts were just as drab and boring as the world I had been walking through.  I felt trapped as I made my way down the main aisle of the backroom of my workplace.  I was surrounded on all sides by dull, concrete floors, light gray steel beams, and plain brown cardboard boxes.  But then just like in the Wizard of Oz when black and white scenes suddenly blossom into brilliant color, I noticed something crimson red shining just to my left side.  I turned around and gasped as I caught my breath.

“Oh, those are beautiful!”  I sighed as I came to a complete dreamlike stop.  I suddenly forgot why I had been in such a hurry as I focused on the long stem roses that were lying in a blue basket.  The black handle of the square basket was resting across Bernard’s left arm.

“Do you want a rose?” the assistant manager asked me.

“Really,” I smiled.  “I can have one?”

“Of course, you can,” he answered as he offered the basket out to me.  I thanked him profusely and grabbed the stem of a large blooming red rose.  I pulled the luscious flower from the basket and held it up to my face to breath in the delicious scent of the petals.  “Okay,” Bernard said after I had been completely intoxicated with the sweet aroma.  “You have to let me take your picture now.”

That’s when I noticed that Bernard was holding a digital camera in his opposite hand.  I’ve always been very uncomfortable in front of cameras.  So, now, I shook my head.  “No, thanks,” I told him.  “I’ll have to give you the rose back.”  I started to place the beautiful, perfect creation back into the basket.  Refusing the picture was actually a graceful way out for me because I had suddenly realized that the roses actually had a special purpose.  The flowers were for Mommas.  I had completely forgotten through the course of my busy workday that it was Mother’s Day.  I don’t have children of my own and my mother had passed on seven years ago.  So, of course, I don’t really have a reason or a right to celebrate Mother’s Day and, honestly, it is a holiday that makes me really sad.  I sighed wistfully as I placed the rose back into the basket.

“No, it’s okay,” Bernard told me.  “You can have a rose.  Go ahead and keep it…and I won’t force you to have your picture taken either.”

I just shook my head no and slowly began to back away.  I didn’t deserve the flower.  “Thank you, Bernard,” I told him.  “I do appreciate it but I’m not a mother.  I don’t have any children.  These roses should go to mothers today.

Bernard just laughed then and said, “It doesn’t matter.  You can have a rose, too, if it makes you happy.  Come on.  Take one.”  He held the basket out to me again.

I couldn’t stop smiling now as I grabbed hold of the stem of the flower I had just returned and pulled it back out of the basket.  “Thank you,” I told him.

“That’s fine,” Bernard answered.  “Just enjoy it.

And I did.  Holding the rose and running my fingers over the red, feather soft petals made my day a little brighter.  I was really missing my mother and the rose made me think of her.  I thought about the rose bush my mother had planted and carefully nurtured in the corner of our backyard when I was a child.  But then, thinking about my mother who had sacrificed so much for me, I couldn’t help feeling a little guilty.  I wondered if I had taken a rose away from a woman who was much more deserving than I could ever be.  Did I just steal a rose from one of the many gracious women who went through the pain of childbirth and suffered sleepless nights taking care of sick children?

Honestly, I would have loved to have been one of those women.  But certain life situations and health problems such as ovarian cysts and uterine tumors prevented me from feeling worthy of a rose.  But I also had to admit that the flower and Bernard’s kindness, the way he included me in this simple tribute, made me smile and brightened my day.

A week later, Sunday, May 20, 2017, I was back at work and having a rather bad day.  I kept repeating to myself New Age affirmations to help me make it through my work hours.  “A good or bad day is just my perception.”  “I can use my power of positive thinking to make this a better day.”  But nothing seemed to help.  I spent the day struggling with even the most minor tasks.  I just couldn’t seem to adjust to the stress of the day and my frustration was pushing me to the point of tears.

As I struggled to pull myself together that afternoon, I suddenly heard someone calling out to me.  I turned around to see  Charles standing behind me.  “Here, this is for you, Jamie,” he said as he held out his hand to me.  “Take this and hold onto it until your day becomes better.”  I stared down at the small, red rose resting in his palm, and my heart suddenly filled with hope and gratitude.  I was so touched by Charles’s sweet gesture.  “Thank you so much,” I answered.  “That’s so sweet of you.”   I reached out and took the rose from his hand.  As Charles walked away , I pinned the rose to my shirt and immediately began to feel much better.  What an amazing blessing that gift was!  And now, after all of the positive thinking I tried to force on myself, that simple rose made me feel so much better.

I thought now about both roses I had received over the last two Sundays and I realized something.  Though I regret not being a mother, though I am ashamed of myself for not handling my frustration better, people still cared about me.  I don’t have to be anything in particular or do anything special for people to think of me.  I had no reason to feel inadequate or ashamed or lacking in my life.  I don’t have to have a great job or a lot of money.  Instead, all I had to do was be kind and have a good heart and there will always be people to support and help me.

My coworker’s kindnesses reminded me of the love Jesus Christ holds for all of us.  He knows our regrets and our failings and yet He continues to love and support us anyway.  He continues to help us grow strong and beautiful and blossom into special spirits….just like my beautiful perfect roses.  I am so blessed!

Thank you so much, Bernard and Charles, for your kindness…and my roses!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pennies from Heaven

When my mother was a small child, she always carried coins in her black-and-white saddle shoes for safekeeping.   It became a habit that she continued into her adulthood.  My mother always placed pennies in her shoes before putting them on her feet.  “It brings me good luck,” she would say whenever I questioned her about it.

I never could figure out how Mom’s ritual brought her good fortune, especially when her old shoes had numerous holes.  But my mother truly believed in her superstition and, I guess, there were a few times when it was a true blessing.  When I was a child, I remember watching my mother scrape spare change together from the bottom of her purse to pay for the weekly groceries.  If she was still a few cents short, Mom, standing right there in the check-out line, would step out of her shoes and pick out the coins that she had placed there for providence.  She would hand the coins to the cashier, and then, with her head held high, she would step back into her shoes, gather together her groceries and children and proudly walk out of the store.  Yeah, there were times when those pennies brought her real luck and good fortune.

Though I never put pennies in my shoes, there was another coin tradition Mom taught me that I completely embraced.  Mom believed in “pennies from heaven.”  Every time she randomly found a coin on the ground, Mom would tell me that an angel was watching over her.  Whenever angels are near they leave gifts of coins and feathers.  I have always had a great belief in angels and continually looked for spare change whenever I needed a boost of faith.  I rarely found the reassurance I was looking for.

Well, that was until my mother passed away on March 16 of 2010.  After that day, coins suddenly seemed to appear around me at the most random times and in the most unusual places.  From the very first penny I found after Mom passed, I truly believed it was a sign from heaven that she was still looking out for me.  And whenever I found more valuable coins I felt doubly blessed.  Whenever I find pennies, I always think of Mom and her ritual even though I keep the coins I find in a special glass vase and never in my sneakers.

For some reason, I’m not sure why, I suddenly thought of Mom and the spare change she kept in her shoes while I was at work on Easter Sunday.  I didn’t consciously concentrate on the memory.  It just came and went as a passing thought.

But that afternoon, my right shoes suddenly felt a little funny.  I took a few steps and felt a strange pressure at the bottom of my right toe.  I shook my foot trying to shake away the feeling.  It didn’t help.  Every step I took caused a small achy pressure into my toes.  I tried hard to ignore it.  I was at work and didn’t want to be bothered by something so trivial.  I knew there was something in my shoe but didn’t know what it was.  Finally, when the pressure was too annoying, I took off my right shoe, held it up over my left hand, and shook my sneaker.  To my surprise, a nickel fell out of my shoe and came to rest  in the center of my palm.

I stared at the coin in surprise.  I don’t know how the nickel suddenly got into my shoe that Sunday afternoon.  What an amazing Easter gift.  I whispered a quiet thank you to my mom and my many angels for always looking out for me.  Even though I had to work on this holiday, it was, without a doubt, the best, most blessed Easter I had  ever had.

Highway Lessons

Last Sunday, February 19, was my day off from work.  I had been looking forward to it even though I didn’t have anything planned.  But that’s the way I usually enjoy my days off.  I don’t like having a full schedule or having any place in particular that I need to be.  So, that morning, I woke up slowly and got dressed.  Then I spent an hour or so lingering over a cup of coffee and a mystery novel.  I reveled in the feeling of just lazing around for a while before going to the gym.  I spent an hour exercising my legs and doing some cardio.  I was relaxed and at peace….

Well, at least, until I was driving home after my work out.  I felt a little anxious while I was on the highway.  I was eager to get back home.  I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish that afternoon.  I needed to clean my house and work on my novel.  I needed to file my taxes and pay bills.  I wasn’t feeling stressed; I was just motivated to get on with my day.  I took a deep breath and told myself to calm down.  I smiled as I listened to my stereo and watched the highway unfold in front of me.  The drive home was peaceful…

Until it wasn’t any more.

Wait!  What’s this?  What’s happening?

I came around a bend in the highway and suddenly found that traffic had slowed down before coming to a complete stop.  All three lanes of the northbound 435 were blocked by stranded cars.  I suddenly found myself waiting in a long line of traffic in the far right lane.  I was still too far away to know what was causing the traffic jam, but the cars directly in front of me suddenly began to veer over to the left to get into the middle lane.  I quickly swerved over, too, before traffic could build up too heavily behind me.  Once more, I found myself sitting in the middle of traffic as I watched two police cars, a fire truck, and an ambulance, all with sirens blaring, speeding by on the shoulder of the highway.

After a few moments, traffic slowly began to move forward; however, the cars in my lane were once more merging to the left and pushing into the fast lane.  I looked in my rearview mirror and noticed a small gap opening up in the left lane.  A large black SUV was still a few feet away.  I began to maneuver to the left when the SUV suddenly sped forward and closed the gap, shutting me out.  I was a little shocked that the man behind the wheel would not allow me the opportunity to merge.  I glared at him for a moment before pulling back into the middle lane and creeping forward a few feet.  Again, I noticed a gap in the left lane and started to ease over, just to be once more cut off by a woman in a small red Toyota Camry.  I shook my head and then tried again to get in the left lane.  The cars in front of me had already merged over to the left.  Why was I finding it so difficult to get a break in the heavy traffic?  Over and over again, five, six, seven times, vehicles zoomed forward without giving me a break.  I was trapped behind police cars and fire trucks that were now parked directly in front of me in the middle lane.  I was stuck; there was no room for me to move forward.  I had no choice; I had to merge but just couldn’t seem to find a kind-hearted person to have pity on me and allow me a break.

Even though I didn’t know what the problem was, I knew this was a dangerous situation.  I just had to be patient and not cause any further problems.  I reminded myself that someone would be kind enough to give me a break sooner or later.  I told myself to be kind to other people.  I needed to allow other drivers the opportunity to get through the backed up traffic.  So as I waited for a break to merge to the left, I stopped and allowed a few cars from the far right lane in front of me.  That probably wasn’t the best idea.  I was stuck even deeper in the middle of traffic now.  Again, I took another deep breath.  Be cool!  I told myself.  Don’t make a bad situation worse.

But I was still sitting in the middle of traffic with my blinker clicking and a little green arrow flashing on my dashboard.  I kept inching over to the left only to find my front bumper in danger of being knocked off by speeding cars that were pushing around me and not allowing me access to the fast lane.  Feeling trapped and beginning to think I was going to be in this position for the rest of the day, I now began to get agitated and irritated.  My patience had started to run very thin.  Why was this happening?  I wondered.  Why are all of these people being so rude?  I have to admit then I was getting really impatient and angry.  How is this fair?  I was tired of just sitting on the highway being pushed around by the other drivers.  And I admit I used a few words I hadn’t said in a very long time.  I cussed and swore and said things I would never want to repeat….I’m still surprised that I said them in the first place.  But I was just so aggravated with everyone at this point.  I finally realized that if I wanted to get anywhere that afternoon I would have to be aggressive and demanding.  I finally realized that I would just have to push my way into the left lane.  I stared into the side mirror until I noticed another small gap in the line of traffic.  I took a deep breath and quickly swung my car over to the left.  I just prayed that the person who was driving in the fast lane would stop, especially since I was straddling both lanes.  Then as traffic moved forward, I quickly pulled into the left lane, drove past the fire truck and ambulance….

…And suddenly, my breath caught in my throat.

Now, that I had driven around the fire truck, I could see the situation clearly.  A massive car wreck had taken place just moments earlier.  Two cars were sitting on the left shoulder of the highway and a third car was halfway in a ditch on the right.  I couldn’t see any damage to these cars, but I wasn’t really paying that much attention to them.  Instead, my eyes and mind became focused on a fourth car that was in the right hand lane.  The car was upside down and the roof and windows no longer exited.  The car was lying completely flat.  Oh, my gosh, seeing the way the car was situated, I couldn’t imagine that the driver and passengers had survived.  There was no way anyone in that black, muddy car could have lived through this wreck.  The top of the car was smashed flat down on the highway.

Tears burned in my eyes and I felt myself gasping for breath.  I started saying quick prayers for all the souls involved in this wreck.  But I couldn’t stop on the highway.  I needed to keep moving and that was alright because I just wanted to get away now.  I quickly drove down the highway and away from the damage.  I was really ashamed of myself.  How could I have gotten so upset at the other drivers for not letting me switch lanes?  Why couldn’t I have just remained calm and patient?  People lost their lives just now on this highway and here I was getting upset because I thought people were being rude to me.

The other drivers actually weren’t being rude, I realized now.  It wasn’t anything personal.  Everyone was just stressed and frustrated and just wanted to get on their way.  I had been so bad today.  I had cursed the cars zooming past me and completely forgotten that there were real, vulnerable people inside those other vehicles.  Instead of getting irritated, I should have just said prayers for everyone to be protected and to arrive safely at their destination.  The awful sight of the smashed, overturned car was a perfect reminder that we are all so fragile and need to be treated with kindness, dignity, and respect.  We are all only human and so quickly because of one outrageous, silly mistake, life can be gone so quickly

As I drove down the highway, I continued to pray for the people involved in the wreck and for all of the other drivers around me.  I asked that God protect everyone traveling on the highway that day.  I apologized to God for getting so upset and angry.  I then told God that I was just so tired of all of the hatefulness, the death, and the destruction that seemed to be so prominent in the world today.  Make it stop, God, please.

And just then, I drove around a bend and there, by the side of the highway, was a field full of bright beautiful flowers.  Colorful spring flowers were lining the side of the highway on this cold February day.  And there was a small sign right in front that read “Wildflowers in Bloom.”  I smiled then and drove the rest of the way home with a joyful heart and the world suddenly at peace.

 

 

 

 

Vibrant Red

It all started with a very simple comment.  A co-work looked at me the other day and asked, “When are you going to dye your hair again?”

I was a little surprised by her question.  It was true that I hadn’t paid a lot of attention to my hair lately.  Life has been so busy that I really hadn’t given a lot of thought to my style or color.  Over the last several weeks, I have just been washing my hair in the evenings and then giving it a few quick strokes with a brush before rushing off to work in the morning.  I don’t fuss with my hair for the rest of the day.  This is fine for me.  I have never been an “every hair in place” kind of girl.  I like my hair wild.  I admit though that sometimes it looks a little too wild, a little too untamed.  I don’t think I’m lazy.  I just have more important concerns than the color or cut of my hair.

Yet, I felt myself cringe a little as I looked at my coworker.  Her hair is always creatively styled and her makeup always looks professionally applied.

I hesitated for just a moment before answering her question.  Unfortunately, my reply wasn’t very motivating.  “I don’t know,” I answered.  “I’ll take care of it when I have more time.”

“Well, it doesn’t look bad right now,” she assured me, “but your color is kind of faded.  Your hair is the color of a peach.  I always picture you as a vibrant redhead.”

Her words made me smile. A vibrant redhead.  I had experimented with that color in the past.  I loved it, even though, I reluctantly admit, that years ago, it also made me very uncomfortable.

When I was born, I was completely bald; there was not a single strand of hair on my smooth, tiny head.  As I grew into a toddler, I had just a few wisps of pale blond hair.  My mother always loved to tell the story that when I was three years old, she had pulled the few strands of my hair up to the top of my head and secured them there with a small plastic barrette.  While we were at the grocery store, a man kept staring at me before walking over to the basket I was sitting in and looking down at the top of my head.  “Oh, she does have hair,” the man said to my mother then.  “I thought you had just stuck that clip straight down into the top of that poor baby’s head.”  Mom always thought that was adorable.  The story though haunted and embarrassed me for most of my life until I finally learned to laugh at myself.

But awkward comments were to be expected.  My childhood hair was always very fine and pure platinum blond.  I was very different from my both sisters who had thick hair.  My oldest sister was a dark brunette, while my other sister was a redhead.  We looked like a rainbow when we stood side by side.  The full light spectrum was always reflected off our hair whenever we were together.  I was the lightest, the palest everywhere we went; I was the one who always seemed to fade into the background.  Being a very shy child, I didn’t mind.  I rather liked it that way.

As I grew older, my hair darkened, until one day, when I was about 15, a neighborhood fried commented to me, “You’re going red!  Oh my gosh, you have red hair now!”

I was horrified!  I didn’t want to have red hair!  Red hair was so rare where I was growing up that my sister was continually teased about her coloring.  She was always noticed and the center of attention at any gathering.  I didn’t want that.  I wanted to stay pale and blonde and wallflower-y alone.  But I couldn’t fight it at the time.  Against my will, my platinum blond coloring continued to darken to auburn.

After a few years, as I slowly gained more confidence, I grew into my hair and I was proud of the color.  I wasn’t vain about my appearance.  There was still too much about my body that I hated.  I wasn’t thin; my long feet turned out awkwardly.  But I started to appreciate my red hair color which made me look much different from other people….in a good way.  I liked the idea that my hair was uniquely my own.

My hair wouldn’t stop changing color, though.  It went from a pale blond to a light red to a dark red until gentle gray strands began to shoot out all over my head.  I started to get gray hair at an early age.  I was only 26 when the first few gray strands appeared.  I must have inherited this trait from my maternal grandmother.  Grandma Edie was completely gray by the time she was 27.

Okay, I may have slowly learned to enjoy my red hair but I wasn’t so appreciative of the gray, even if it was premature.  It just made me feel old and I cried every time I was asked at a fast food restaurant if I wanted the senior discount.

It was time to dye my hair.

At first, I decided to relive my childhood and dyed my hair platinum blond like Marilyn Monroe.  But I’m not Marilyn and the color just once more made me look pale and washed out.  My life had changed; I had changed, and I was no longer accepting the wallflower position.  Red is the color of my soul.  But just like figuring out the dosage of prescription drugs, it took several experiments with different products, mixtures, and timing to get the right tint of red that made me feel the most comfortable.  Some reds were just too brassy for me; others made me look like a large carrot; a few dyes turned me into a pumpkin head.  I even tried burgundy once and really liked it until I realized it had faded to pink.  Yes, that’s right, I walked around with pink hair for several weeks before I finally took the time to dye it again.

Several shades later, I finally found the hue I liked the best and thought was the most flattering for my features.  I loved being strawberry blond.  It wasn’t too dark for me and the red shined brightly out in the sun.

This was the shade I had been using when my coworker made her comment to me.  The problem wasn’t with the dye but with the fact that I just hadn’t taken the time to touch it up again.  My gray roots were beginning to show, but I still didn’t really care.  It was true, though.  I was a peach with rotting, gray areas.  I decided to freshen myself up and started shopping through hair dyes that afternoon.  I reached for the box containing my usual strawberry blond formula but then stopped.  A vibrant red?  I had tried that before and many people made comments that my hair was a spark, a fire, a beacon, a siren.  But…vibrant red…Yeah!  That’s me!  Feeling adventurous and frivolous, I bought the red dye and hurried home before I could change my mind.

That afternoon, I mixed up the color and quickly applied it to my hair.  I wasn’t very careful with it.  I wanted to hurry up with the processes.  I’m not girly-girl enough to spend a lot of time on my hair.  I really didn’t want to mess with it.  I put the dye on and waited half an hour before rinsing it off.  I wrapped a towel around my head and squeezed out any additional water.  I took off the towel and didn’t really pay much attention to the color.  My hair is usually dark when it’s wet…no big deal.  I was sure it would be much lighter once it was dry.

Um…wrong!

About an hour later, I looked at myself in the bathroom mirror.  “Oh, my God, what have I done!?”  My hair was certainly vibrant red, the color of blood, Midwest harvest summer sunsets, cherries, Mars, and measles.  I was horrified…it was horrible.

Too make the situation worse, my sister-in-law, Mary, was very nice as she complimented me on the new hair color…but then kindly pointed out there was a big problem.  Because I had been in such a hurry to complete the process, I hadn’t realized that I had missed applying the mixture to a large chunk of hair in the back of my head.  Peachy strands stuck noticeable out through the red.  I was shocked as I stood with my back to the bathroom mirror holding up a hand mirror in order to stare at the back of my head.  But there was nothing I could do about it now.  I didn’t have any of dye left.  And besides, it was late.  I needed to get some sleep for work the next day.  I went to bed knowing I had no way to fix the situation.  I spent most of the night telling myself all kinds of things: My color doesn’t matter.  I am not my hair.  I cannot be defined by the way I look.  Who cares what other people think or say?  Other peoples’ opinions shouldn’t matter to me.  It’s only hair, just dead protein.  I can change it again.  I could cut it all off and it would grow back again.  No big deal.

But it was no use.  I have to admit that I, who never really fussed over my hair, felt stupid and ugly.  Maybe I was upset because this was absolute proof to me that I am completely klutzy with hair and make-up.  I would never be beautiful.  I can handle that actually.  I know I am a good person.  But I didn’t know if I was ready to face the awkward comments from people concerning the way I looked.  I didn’t know how to respond.  I didn’t know what excuse I could give.  What was I going to do?

The next morning, I walked into work with the collar of my coat pulled up over the back of my head.  I ran down the back hallway to my locker and yanked it open.  I suddenly sighed with relief as I discovered the answer to my dilemma.  I had forgotten that yesterday my supervisor had handed out Santa hats to everyone.  I never liked wearing the hats which usually were too big for me and put a lot of static into my fine hair.  But now, I grabbed the hat and plucked it down onto my head.  The peachy patch in the back of my head was now covered.  I couldn’t tuck all of my hair underneath the hat so I allowed bright red strands to hang around my face and shoulders.

But then, something really unusual happened.  It was so strange, I still don’t quite understand it.  Almost everyone who saw me that day complimented me on the way I look.  I heard endless comments of “Wow!  Love the hair!”  “  That’s a great red!”  “  What a beautiful shade!”

Now, of course, I didn’t let anyone see the peach patch in the back of my head, which could have easily changed everyone’s opinion.  I also admit that I wasn’t very gracious about the compliments.  I was so taken by surprise by everyone’s comments that I responded by saying, “Th…Thank you…?  I really don’t like it myself.”  Or I said, “Thanks…I’m trying to get used to it myself.” Why did I respond that way?  Why couldn’t I have just said “Thank you” and walked away?  But never feeling very secure with my looks, I felt so ugly and unsure of myself that compliments were hard to accept. I felt the need to apologize for who I was and what I had done.  I had to keep insisting to everyone that I was unattractive.

That evening I bought more hair dye and corrected the error I had made the day before when I colored all but the back of my head.

Now, my hair was completely vibrantly red…and I smiled as I looked at it.  It suddenly felt so right!  Yeah, maybe it was attractive.  Yeah, maybe I did look good.  As I brushed out my hair, I had thought about the compliments I had received that day.  I realized then that opinions didn’t matter.  No one’s thoughts about another person were important.  And hair is such a trivial matter.  But what I responded to now was everyone’s kindness when I was feeling so low and unsure of myself.  I smiled as I thought of everyone’s loving, positive reactions when I was feeling so ugly.  That’s all that really seemed to matter.

So now my hair remains a bright red.  I always loved red but was always worried about people laughing at me or teasing me.  I realized now that the reason I wasn’t comfortable with Mars red was because I was afraid of other people’s opinions.  Even now, there are strangers who walk by me and groan, “God, that’s BRIGHT red!”  Or they call me “beacon.”  But it doesn’t matter now, because I feel good.  It’s funny how I love bright red hair when I love myself.  I need to trust myself and know what I like and not worry about other people’s thoughts.  Hair doesn’t define the person I am inside.  I know who I am so what matters what happens to my body?  I know what my flaws are…I know where my scars are…but it’s strange how they don’t matter if I don’t focus on them.  I am very happy with my hair if I don’t give it too much attention.

I’ll keep my hair red for now.  It is uniquely and personally me.  It defines who I am and is part of my journey.  Maybe someday, I’ll change it again but right now I feel happy.  Besides, I am not my hair…I could dye it purple if that’s the way I feel.

Um….someday…

I smile as I think now of my coworker.  She was right…

I am a vibrant red!

The Randomness of My Life

I was reading back over my blogs the other day and released that there’s not really a theme. Was I supposed to have one? I noticed that most bloggers write about a certain thing–fashion, food, travel. But I can’t seem to focus. I can’t seem to choose one thing. I realized then that my blogs are just as random and unorganized as my life.

It made me think of a writing assignment I was giving a few years ago. What was the best year of my life in a 5-year span? I still don’t know how to answer that. Nothing actually stands out in my mind. I have never climbed Mount Everest, sailed around the world, or performed a heroic feat that saved another person’s life. Maybe I didn’t know what to write because I couldn’t think of a specific moment that turned my life around. I have never married. I don’t have children. I have never won the lottery. My life instead has been very different. It has been a day-to-day process. It has been a continuous unfolding of insight and understanding. I see my life as being an endless progression of trial and error.

Maybe I am trying too hard. Maybe I am overthinking the question. Maybe I should think about the happy moments of my life. Maybe I should think of the times that have made me feel alive and joyful to be in this world. I think of my miraculous moments. I have seen angels and other visions. I have helped people heal through massage and energy work. I have traveled extensively around the world. I have gone to several different schools and graduated with honors. I have taught in several different schools and helped others graduate with honors. I have waded in the oceans. I have gazed at mountains shining purple in the sunlight. I have received hugs from family and friends. I have experienced painful breakups of relationships. I have watched friends and family suffer and pass through my life no matter how hard I tried to hold onto them. I have read great books that showed me a different way of life. I have seen great movies that have inspired emotions deep within me. I have listened to amazing music that moves my soul in the same way it moves my feet. I have screamed for victory at sporting events. I have competed in the race of life for an attainable victory. I have tried to be kind, though I know I don’t always succeed when I am tired or stressed. I have taken beautiful photographs and have become frustrated when others don’t see the amazing things that I do. I have been strong at times and shown amazing courageous. I have been shy at other moments and cowered away from perceived threats. I have held babies. I have watered plants. I have cared for pets. I have treasured objects that would have no value to anyone else. I have lived life to the very brink of its existence. I have slept and being lazy on warm summer days. I have eaten great food and then worried about my weight. I have exercised and loved my body. I have hated my body and every one of its flaws has left me depressed and feeling unlovable. I have moments when I have doubted God’s existence. There were days when I have doubted my own existence. There are times when I have been a great believer just because I saw a sunrise or a drop of rain. I have great faith that won’t diminish even on days of sadness. I have great sadness that can sometimes diminish my faith. I have had a life filled with many years of great joy and tremendous sadness. I have had many years that I want to live again and others I would wish to erase from my memory.

So to answer what is the best year of my life, what can I say? Maybe I haven’t lived enough. Maybe I have lived too much. I can’t concentrate on one idea. My life is swirling in front of my eyes as if I am about to pass over into a new existence. When I finally do pass over into a new existence, will I look back on the best year of my life? Will I know then when the best time of my life had been? No, I will only know that I had a life…