Indelible

eleanor brownn message

I had a dream last night. I guess it was kind of a nightmare. I was at a large speaking engagement. As I heard myself being introduced, I was overcome by the feeling that I didn’t have anything to say — or, at least, anything anyone in the audience would feel was important enough for them to listen to. I started to get sick to my stomach. Once again, I felt like I was not enough. It’s a feeling that has plagued me for most of my life. No amount of prayer, therapy, self-help books, or positive thinking has removed it. Maybe it’s just the path I get to walk. Or maybe one day it will heal. I have no way of knowing. I keep moving forward, anyway.

Which brings me to this blog, My Spiritual Sabbatical. For at least a couple of years, I’ve wanted to combine the writings here into a published book. But there’s so much I didn’t say as I wrote my way along the journey. Reading the entries is like trying to solve a puzzle with missing pieces. There were so many times my heart was breaking and I kept up a brave front — as much for myself, as for the reader. It was too raw, too painful to delve deeply into my heart and soul. So many times, I didn’t say all that could have been said, or reveal what could have been revealed. Sometimes it was out of fear of making myself too vulnerable. Sometimes, it was out of confusion; I was in the midst of the storm and didn’t know where I was going. There were so many tears and so much pain.

But I think there are those of you who read between the lines. I thank God for you.

After recently showing part of the manuscript to an editor for feedback, I now find myself torn between whether to do extensive rewriting to flesh things out, fix all of the grammatical errors, or leaving it the way it happened — messy, incomplete, confused, but real.

There is the illusion, too, that I must somehow resolve all of the grief and trauma of the last five years, answer unanswerable questions, and tie it up with a happily-ever-after ending for the reader. But that’s not how it is. I’m still in a transitional housing arrangement, still struggling with finances, my health is diminished since the car accident, I’m still suffering bouts of depression, and the road ahead is sometimes frightening and always uncertain. I can’t pretend otherwise. It hasn’t been all dreary, of course. Some incredible things have happened. Wonderful things. But that old feeling of “not enough” comes back to haunt me.

So… I’m moving forward with my production schedule! My goal to publish was Fall 2016. I think Thanksgiving Day would be a meaningful release date, since one of my biggest lessons over this journey was “Thank Him. Trust Him.” Living life always boils down to gratitude and faith.

My Spiritual Sabbatical is a story worth the telling, if only for myself.

Waterfall

Eleanor Brownn 2016

It seems as though Time is running through my fingers like a waterfall.
Yesterdays merge into Todays and Todays merge into Tomorrows.
Where did the year go?
Where did that moment go?
And where am I…Now?

Life is a series of moments.
Joyful moments.
Painful moments.
Tender moments.
One moment after another.
Silently.
Like a waterfall.

Here’s to Life

87 years old. She walked out onstage — with a cane and an assistant, but she walked out. Wow. She had broken her back in two places and was performing anyway. She sat down in a wheelchair and sang her heart out and told her stories for almost two hours. She assured us that the wheelchair was only temporary until her back healed. After the standing ovation at the end, she sang “Imagine” without a mic. It was beautiful. Barbara Cook at the Annenberg in Beverly Hills last night. So glad I went.

Does she or doesn’t she?

Have you ever had one of those “OMG!” moments when you caught a glimpse of yourself from a different angle and you realize something about you has changed? It happened to me today in an elevator in Glendale, California. The elevator was walled with mirrors, brightly-lit and offered more reflections of myself than I really needed to see at 8:20 in the morning.

Usually those moments have been reserved for weight gain, as in “How in the world did I let my butt get this big again?” But on this particular morning it was all about my hair.

I’ve been salt-and-pepper gray for over a decade, now. This morning I realized that I am approaching all salt! How could I not have noticed before now? I decided long ago that I wouldn’t be dying my hair. After releasing myself two decades ago from straightening my hair, I knew too much about hair-freedom to even consider going back to the stranglehold of the beauty shop. So when the gray started coming in I just told people that “gray is the new blonde” and kept on stepping. With so many boomers turning gray, it actually seemed kind of trendy.

But when I saw the gray-haired ladies encircling me in the elevator, I swallowed hard. Now in all fairness, the lighting was such that it highlighted the gray. But there’s no denying I am a gray-haired woman.

As of this writing, I have on idea what I’ll do. Accept it? Change it? I don’t know, but I do know that this is another bend in the road on the journey.

Hmmm…. What I need to do is be grateful that I still have a head full of healthy hair. There’s a concept. Thank you, Lord.

Image

A Candle in the Darkness

In desperation, I turned to a friend for help. I was really in a jam.

Instead, I got a lecture about only getting in touch when I needed something — not an easy thing to hear in the midst of a crisis. The reality is that I’m afraid to ask anyone for help until I’m up against a wall because I feel it’s not okay to need help. I get into a mindset that tells me I shouldn’t be in my predicament; I should be able to solve whatever it is alone. When I’m down I tend to make myself scarce, and this past year things have been more down than up. Hence, I haven’t been around much. The words stung. I felt alone, judged, ashamed.

While I knew in my heart not everything that was being said was true, there was enough truth in it that I apologized for disappearing and not being a better friend. They were right; I had been absorbed in my own situation and not mindful of the things they were going through in their own life. To have a friend you have to be one. It was a humbling wake up call.

It’s not easy, but I have found that if I am willing to take an honest look in the mirror when things go wrong in a relationship, I can grow spiritually from an uncomfortable situation. In prayer and meditation, I have asked God to show me “Have I ever said the same thing or behaved in a similar way with someone who asked me for help?”

The answer is “Yes, I have.” I’ve gotten an attitude when I have felt put upon by others. No one likes to feel taken for granted. And if someone has had experiences feeling used by different people in the past, they may lash out in a way that is out of proportion to what is happening in the present. I’ve gone off on people who didn’t deserve it. So, I can relate to where my friend was coming from. But where do I go from there with my hurt and fear?

Today, I got an answer in a healing message on the facebook page Blissful Quotes:

“Never feel bad if people remember you only at the time of their need, feel privileged that they think of you like a candle in the darkness of their life.”

That little quote gave me a new perspective on asking for, and being asked for, help. The lessons I get to learn from this humbling episode in my life?

  1. Be appreciative of the friends I am blessed to have and treat them accordingly.
  2. Recognize that we are all children of God with the strengths and weaknesses that go with being human.
  3. Remember compassion the next time someone asks me for help — because in that moment, I may very well be their candle in the darkness.