The obvious path

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There are times in our life when everything goes right. So magical is this sudden stroke of luck that it feels like fate, destiny, and kismet. It seems there is nothing we can do wrong. Things just flow.

This smooth sailing can make you feel like you’ve finally arrived. You know where you’re headed. The path is so obvious that there is no need to plan or analyze. No need to look and for the cause and effect. You just know that you’ve finally found that sweet spot and you will never lose it again.

And then one day it changes

At first you don’t believe it. You think it’s just a little hiccup. Things will go back to normal – that smooth, effortless place where everything lines up and you move forward, making tremendous headway.

Except that the hiccup turns into a cough and the cough then turns into car accident and then the next thing you know, you’re sitting by the side of the road wondering what the hell happened.

That obvious path eludes you. And you haven’t a clue what you should do next. You seriously wonder if you should change course. Go in a different direction. You can feel frantic, desperate, anxious, and utterly confused. The urge to change everything is overwhelming because you don’t want to be in this terrible place of not knowing.

And it is human nature to change because life around you changes. To believe you are making a mistake. That you were wrong. That all arrows point in a different direction and you should follow those arrows. Follow the pack, where it’s safer and easier. To panic and do what everyone else is doing. To listen to those older and wiser than you.

When in doubt, don’t panic

It may well be that you’ve missed something. You didn’t notice a change you made. You failed to spot the real cause and effect of something. You didn’t notice this or that. So instead of panicking and deciding to sign up for some thousand dollar course or pursuing some ‘secret’ trick to turn things around, step back.

Analyze the period when you were doing well:

What were you doing? If you go back to the time period when you were doing well, you can often see that you were doing specific things that contributed to the success. And you may also notice that some things you were doing, you stopped doing. For example, a business may send out a promo piece, which results in more business. In the hurry to deliver, they drop out the promotion because they couldn’t do both.

How did you do it? Did you change your approach? Perhaps you hit your production early in the day then when things starting going well you decided that you could slough off a little. Take a longer lunch. Not work at all on some days. Lower your standards in the interest of getting more done.

Who helped you? We rarely succeed without help. There are always people who offer support, back up, and help of one sort or another. Are those people still around? Did you decide you didn’t need them anymore? Fail to acknowledge their contribution? Have a spat?

What led up to the sudden upswing? Sudden improvement in your sales, production, or even your personal life may appear to be magical but it isn’t. As with anything worth having it requires a lot of work and attention to improve and keep going. The chances are you put in enormous effort in marketing, promotion, networking, communication and more to cause the upswing. Go back and figure what you did and do it again and more of it. Chances are you backslid on those actions.

Review your notes, stats, production. If you aren’t keeping notes, stats, journals or somehow documenting the actions you are taking you will not be able to analyze what you did right and what you did wrong. Keep a journal, stats, production notes, and files – whatever works for you that documents your actions. Otherwise, you will always feel like your future is left to chance.

While it may be true that we all have a path and purpose in life, it is the rare human who can always just know what to do next.

What about you? Did you ever feel like you were on an obvious path? Did the path suddenly disappear? Did you panic and change everything or did you stay the course? Let’s talk about it in the comments.

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Full Circle

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Looks like I’m back where I started. It’s funny how when you go out into the universe with big plans, you get in your new shiny spaceship and start the adventure of a lifetime – only to discover that your destination is home after all. I can’t tell you how true that statement is in my life right now – on so many fronts – it’s mind boggling actually.

But I guess sometimes you have to go ‘out there’ to see what you have ‘right here’ don’t you?

So full circle for me, I’m back right where I started and actually I couldn’t be happier about it.

WC

The Sea – Theme Friday

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Emerald blue and crystal green dreams that rush the shore and explode in an ecstacy of froth.

Chatters hum from oiled denizen. Spray. Swat. Snooze. Kick sand. Splash. Shells sparkle – treasures given and snatched back when you reach for them.

Sun leaves its mark- red, brown, butterscotch, fushia. Flirts with clouds that fluff across the sky, waving hello and goodbye.

Laughter makes song that nestles in deep and warms our winter nights. Our Christmas by the sea.

Christine’s sea ebbs and tides here

Jess’s seashore flows here.

Motorcycle Crashes, Train Wrecks and Life

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I had a great conversation with my friend Kelly the other day. She is the friend who had the terrible accident last Spring. While she is having hitches and slows on her road to full recovery, she never ceases to amaze me with her strength and her irrepressible spirit. Kelly was very excited because she had made a very important connection in her life. With another human being. Not just any human being, but someone who could truly, in all meaningful ways, understand what she’s been through.

It’s not clear to me how she came to know about him – but his name is Al Foxx and he is a comedian and a motivational speaker. Twenty five years ago he was in a very bad motorcycle accident and suffered many similar injuries to Kelly. Some, much worse. He was told he would never walk again, speak again or drive again. Yet, he proved his doctors wrong and not only walks, speaks and drives (in his words, ‘watch out!’) but spends his life making others laugh and helping to motivate and inspire people from all walks of life. I highly recommend you visit his website, watch the little vids, maybe even buy his book.

Kelly did. She bought his book online and through a series of emails over an initial confusion about the purchase she and Al became email pen pals. They have spoken on the phone and hopefully, this weekend, her husband has taken her to meet Al, who happens to be living in a town just a few miles away from her.

To hear her talk about him and their conversations did my heart so much good. Because I could see that finally she had found someone who truly understood what she’s been going through and just that fact alone has done so much for her morale and I think helped her not to feel so alone. While she is surrounded by friends and family who love and cherish her and are as understanding as they can be, none of us truly can understand because we’ve not gone through what she has or what she will continue to go through. I thank God, that she has found this wonderful human being to talk to – to be understood by and to be friends with.

One of the things that Al said to her which really impacted her and then me as well, is that ‘everybody has motorcycle crashes in their life.’ Meaning, that we all have those horrible events that traumatize and shakes us to our bones, none of us are immune, and none of us are less vulnerable than the next guy when it happens. And rest assured it will. In some way, shape or form. And I guess this was Al’s answer to the ‘why me?’ question and a darn good one I’d say.

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Motorcycle crashes, train wrecks…life – it happens to us all. Especially when we don’t expect it – we never see it coming – and it can’t be taken back – that chunk of time, those moments. All you can do it pick up whatever pieces survive the wreckage and start building again.

I personally find some comfort in that point of view. God knows my life has been train wreck lately and the fall out is still coming. I wonder when (if) it will ever stop and just settle. Although I’m pretty sure there are a few more chunks that will thunk me on the head before it’s all said and done. On the other hand, it’s just my trainwreck and I’m still breathing, walking and driving – and the law of averages insists the wreckage has a finite timeframe. So, I just need to keep moving til then, right?

In the Mirror – Theme Friday

I tugged the silver-handled hairbrush through my mop of dark hair as I looked in the mirror. The signs that I would age like my mother were all there – lines around the mouth that had begun a descent downward, lonliness, but mostly surrender. It had crept into my once bright blue eyes somewhere along the way, the light notched down and barely burning, the gaze turned inward. I felt older than I was and at the beginning of the end. I was looked back far more than I was looked forward and the realization of it angered me. I threw the brush at the mirror in a fit of pique, fighting to change the reflection. “No!” I screamed.

“Mom?” Peter’s soft voice coaxed me to turn.

I stared at my shy and handsome son, who had his father’s eyes more each day – and they filled with questions. “It’s okay honey, my hand slipped,” I looked away and bent down to gather the broken glass on the carpet.

Peter helped me collect the little pieces of reflection that sparkled the floor and mocked me at the same time. I shooed him out and assured him I was fine. And when I turned I spied the spiderweb that had formed and spread from the point of impact – and the image staring back at me, like a spider, had several pairs of eyes.

The conversation at breakfast was a handful of murmurs and manners. “You still going on Friday night?” Peter packed a lunch of roast beef sandwich, apple, yoghurt and the last piece of cherry pie.

I peered over my coffee cup at Peter, even the way he held a knife mimicked his father and it stirred shadows I wanted to keep asleep. “I don’t have much choice,” I mumbled.

Peter flashed a mouthful of perfect white teeth. “You always have a choice, Mom.”

“All right, wise guy, then I don’t have a graceful choice to bow out. I’m on the planning committee, I could hardly ‘bail’ as you kids like to say.” I smiled for his sake and sipped coffee and craved the cigarettes I’d given up long ago.

Peter rolled his big blue eyes and planted a kiss on the top of my head before heading out. “See you tonight,” he called over his shoulder. And I was right behind him, running late, needing to rush to the shop.

Most of the morning was spent unsuccessfully cajoling customers into buying pieces and trying to find a service that could repair the two hundred year old mirror I’d smashed with my grandmother’s hairbrush. Both proved to be an exercise in futility. An afternoon rain that turned the bright Autumn day to grey tears convinced me to close early. No one would be antiquing in a rain storm anyway. I turned the sign to the closed position and went behind the counter to count the drawer.

I must have been lost in thought because I never saw or heard the woman enter. “Excuse me,” the voice was strong and clear but kind. I gasped. “Sorry dear,” she said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

She was a small woman with vibrant blue-green eyes and silver hair twisted in a neat bun at the back. “I’m sorry, but I’ve closed for today. What with the rain and all…”

The woman nodded, “Yes, I can see that, but you have such a lovely shop that I wanted to look around. You have a keen eye for placement,” she said as her own eyes wandered the pieces I’d so carefully arranged. “You have so many mirrors, I love how they give the place eyes.” I’d never thought of it that way. It was true I had a special love of mirrors but now it seemed the shop was crammed with them and staring at me.

“Thank you,” I said anxious for her to ask her question and leave. The rain had begun to pound on the roof and I dreaded the short but sure to be miserable drive home. “Is there something I can do for you?”

The woman continued to smile and shook her head. “No, I just wanted to say hello and tell you how much I appreciate your lovely things here. Will your husband be by to pick you up soon?”

“No, I’m not married.”

She was taken aback, her eyes told me so. “A lovely girl like you, not married? It doesn’t speak well of the male population around here does it?” she winked.

I smiled and shook my head. “No, I suppose not.” But I had no interest in the male population since the man I loved married another woman.

She patted my hand. “Don’t worry dear, I have a feeling your luck is about to change and my feelings are almost always right.”

I stared at my feet like bashful teenager and when I looked up she was gone. The hairs on my arms raised and goosebumps rose to greet them. How she had appeared out of nowhere and then vanished into the grey vapor of the afternoon was downright eerie. I went to the front of the shop and peered out the window at the pouring rain, not a soul was about, all no doubt, hiding from the sheets of grey like I did. I shook my head and bolted the front door and left through the rear exit.

When I got home I was cold and weary and wanted nothing more than a mug of soup and hot bath. The house was dark and still and rather than turn on lights, I stood, leaning against the door, listening to the rain thump and drum the roof and let him come into my thoughts. His maddening blue eyes, his voice saying my name, the whisper of his embrace came to me as a solid apparition, not a distant memory.

“You’re thinking about him, aren’t you?” Peter was there standing in front of me.

“Who?” I asked, pulling off my coat and making a show of tidying up my already immaculate livingroom, Peter on my heels like he used to do when he was little.

“It’s why you don’t want to go to the reunion, isn’t it?” Peter persisted. “He might be there. My father.” And he stood before me like resolute Oak, refusing to move from his spot of strength and advantage. “I know he isn’t dead, Mom. I’ve known for a long time.”

I pushed the damp hair out of my face and fell into a chair, unable to look my boy in the eyes – the eyes that reminded me everyday of the man I could never forget. “How long have you known?” I asked too tired to continue any charade.

Peter shrugged his broad shoulders. “It doesn’t matter. I know is the point. We’ve talked a few times,” he said casually but he gave that sidelong glance he always did when he tested the waters.

I felt a cold panic snake through my insides. “How do you know it’s him,” I asked though I never doubted it was.

“I look just like him,” Peter said softly. He bent down then and gave me a little hug. “I’m not mad, Mom,” he whispered, “don’t you be either, okay?”

I looked up at my son and wondered at his odd expression. “Why would I be mad?”

Peter left the room and minutes later I heard voices and the panic woke sharply and shot me to my feet. But it was too late because I stood in front of him. David. My David. I couldn’t speak. He was still beautiful, tall and composed. “Hello, Ali.”

“What are you doing here,” I found my voice but it was weak and a whisper.

“I’ve wanted to call a thousand times,” he said quietly.

“But you didn’t,” I said.

“Would you have talked to me, if I had?” David asked and took a step closer. And I couldn’t move, I was frozen to the spot. I couldn’t look away, my eyes were locked to his. “You never answered my letters, why?”

“You were married to another woman. Of course I didn’t answer your letters. I couldn’t be friends with you. I couldn’t and you know it.” I trembled and felt the girl I was then, pregnant and heartbroken, having read in the newspaper of his engagement to woman I’d never heard of before.

David moved closer and reached for my hands. “No, I wasn’t. I never married her.” He stepped closer still and said, “I never married anyone.”

My mind could barely wrap around those words. The walls I’d built over the years, the compartments I’d fashioned in my mind to tuck away the memories, to hide myself within began to dismantle. Leaving me with only questions I could not yet voice. “You never married.” I repeated.

“No,” David said and took my hand but I pulled away. I couldn’t think and I was angry and lost and wanted nothing more than to be left alone. To push David out into the raining night – to find my comfortable hiding place again – return to the shelter of my ignorance. And if my eye had not caught the reflection in the hallway mirror I would have. But my son’s face wouldn’t let me, couldn’t let me.

“Peter?” I called out and he knew I’d seen him. “Will you start a pot of coffee, honey? I think we may be talking for a while.” My boy smiled at me from the mirror and it was all the strength I needed.

Christine’s mirror reflects here and Panther’s mirror hangs here.

Fate

Is there such a thing? Really? Or do we just convince ourselves that a number of coincidences add up to it?

Is everything that happens in our lives meant to happen. Are we meant to meet the people we meet? Become friends, lovers, in-laws. Is it all going according to some master plan? Or do we have some wiggle room? I’m a bit torn on the issue there are certain things that have happened in my life that I truly believe were meant to be. That were inevitable. That no matter what I did or where I turned that that situation, event or person would have still found their way into my life. It’s a little spooky actually to feel that way about something or someone, and luckily it doesn’t happen too often for me or I’d really be whigged out about it. Although it does happen often enough that I have to wonder, are some things meant to be?

On the other hand, so much of life is random, inexplicable and wild. There is nothing master plan or organized about it. As though we are all just thrown into a white water river and must do our best to ride the rapids down to the peaceful water, if there is any. And if we can stay alive long enough to get there.

I have come to the conclusion that it must be a mixture that somehow there is a fate of sorts. Perhaps it has to do with one’s own master plan, one’s own dream and needs in life and on occasion life let’s us have something we really want or to be with someone we really want to be with – so that when it screws us over continually on most everything else we can feel grateful?

Possibly even feel like we have some cause or control over our own destinies. I do prefer to think that way, rather than believe that everything is already planned and mapped out. If that is the case, then what point is there in living my life? What point is there in making any plans? None I think.

Still….there are those moments that seem overwhelmingly destined to happen, that you know were meant to be. Maybe life is just trying to confuse us? I’m not sure I have any point here. What do you think? Opinions, ideas, recipes?