Tag Archives: “Letting go”

The Gifts Of A Terrible Day

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet shed on the heel that has crushed it. -Mark Twain

Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet shed on the heel that has crushed it.
-Mark Twain

Special note to my followers:  The very talented Cathleen Townsend, author of the recently released, ‘Dragon Hoard and Other Tales of Faerie’ has done an interview with yours truly to be released on the 17th of Dec. – Please click the link below to read: http://cathleentownsend.com/2015/12/17/interview-with-christina-barnes

Now, onto the gifts of a terrible day….

Gigi stared out over the ocean at the giant, full moon rising. The pageantry of clouds lit up, dancing slowly to the music of the evening breeze. She was ready to scream.

The same storm front had kept her in bed late that morning. It seemed cozier with the clouds, so she stayed a while longer to enjoy it. She finally arose, joyfully as usual, eager to see what the day would have in store for her. She prepared herself a ginger and celery smoothie before checking in with Gotu.

Gigi called the troop leader—her boss—Gotu. Gotu was surly, complaining about the weather and in a foul mood. He complained about everything and everyone, and he promptly assigned her a mountain of tasks that were his responsibility. So dreary and detailed they were, she doubted she would ever get through them. Gotu announced he would be playing golf and lunching with clients. Maybe if there was time they’d do a happy hour somewhere, while she covered for him, as usual.
“What a team they were!” Gotu pronounced, unconvincingly.
She felt her ears turn red as she filled with resentment.

Six hours into the first task on her list, her computer screen froze. Gigi couldn’t get it to do anything. She felt the tingle of panic rising from her feet as she realized she had not remembered to back up her work. How could she have been so careless? She frantically punched at the keyboard. But there was no magic key that would unlock the screen. The screen crashed into blackness. Six hours of work gone—poof! Gotu was going to be furious. She poured despair on top of her resentment like chocolate sauce.

She decided to leave the computer off and go to lunch. A break would do her good. She spied a cute little place she had not noticed before and thought she’d be adventurous and try it. She found a nice table with a view of the ocean. She plunked down in her seat, helped by the weight of the world on her shoulders. She observed the surrounding guests enjoying the tasty-looking dishes in front of them as she waited for her server. And she waited. She noticed a server on the other side of the patio. He was deeply involved in an animated conversation with a table of eight celebrating patrons. Surely someone would notice her sitting there with no menu, utensils or water.

More time ticked by when a whir of activity and loud voices behind her got her attention. Two of the staff were quarrelling as a glass crashed to the ground and shattered. One of them caught her staring at them, his eyes wide.
“Have you been helped sweetie?” he said, with a big, insincere smile.
Gigi raised her hands, palms up, presenting her empty table as she returned an equally fake smile. He hurriedly brought her a menu. No greeting, no water, no silver. He was gone in a flash to continue the heated discussion, now in a hushed voice. His opponent turned and walked away from him, surrendering his hands to the sky and shaking his head. Her server threw his towel down and came to take her order.
“Mediterranean salad,” Gigi blurted out before he could leave again.

The beautiful salad arrived—no silver, no dressing and nothing to drink. She looked around for him, but he was nowhere to be found. More angry and frustrated than hungry now, she pushed the salad to the center of the table, and got up and left.

With a frozen computer and no energy or inclination to start over, Gigi dubbed the work day “over.” She dragged herself up to her favorite spot on the cliff.
“I have accomplished nothing today; the day has been a total waste,” she told the ocean. She went to this same spot on the cliff often. She enjoyed sitting and meditating about her day, although today she was not sure it would do any good. It had been a terrible day. Gigi sat quietly as she thought about the day, how she had started it filled with joy.

Her stomach growled. She thought about the waiter. Her anger rose as she replayed the scene in her mind. She thought about times when she had been consumed by a conflict with someone. She admitted she was not very good at focusing on much else during those times. She thought about it and decided he’d done the best he could—he was very, very upset. After all, it had nothing to do with her—she was just caught in the crossfire.

Her mind wandered to Gotu as she took a deep breath. Gigi exploded, “How dare he dump all his work on me?”
She felt her teeth clenching and her lips lock around them. Her heart raced as she thought about her six hours of vaporized work. Nobody to blame but herself for that.
“But he threw all of his responsibilities on me while he went off to play!” she yelled at the moon. He was always doing that. He felt entitled as the troop leader to do as he pleased. She simmered in thought. She had done his work for him for so long. He probably didn’t even know how to do it himself. After all, he never had. He just looked like a troop leader. He bragged and threw his weight around; he knew how to schmooze. She thought about how much she had learned by doing his work for him. The tasks were things she never would have learned had he not had his attitude of superiority. What a gift, she decided. With all her knowledge, she would start her own troop!

As she felt the gentle breeze blow through her, her emotions became small clouds drifting through her sky of joy. They were not all of her, as she had felt earlier in the day. Yet they were all a necessary part of her. She realized each emotion, no matter how unpleasant, taught her something about herself. She needed to love and accept each one as she asked herself two questions: Why was the feeling present? And what did she need to understand to make it go away? She felt gratitude for her anger, despair, resentment and frustrations. They were replaced with compassion and an empowering enthusiasm for her new path. Tomorrow was now full of inspiring possibilities!

Her stomach growled a long rumble as she took a deep breath. She released a soft sigh and a little chuckle at the wonder of it all. Yes, this day was a gift after all.

These pains you feel are messengers, listen to them.

-Rumi

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Can I Help? Wait, Never Mind

"If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing." -Margaret Thatcher

“If you set out to be liked, you would be prepared to compromise on anything at any time, and you would achieve nothing.”
-Margaret Thatcher

Norma had scheduled herself to be in three places at once again. She couldn’t say no. She was afraid nobody would like her—or worse yet get mad and think she was selfish or uncaring. But this time it was worse, so much worse.

She’d tried on the headgear she was to wear as a chaperone for her nephew’s comic book party. Now it was impossibly stuck on her head. But first, she was trying on the dress to wear to the cocktail party her boss expected her to attend. Now it had a jammed zipper that wouldn’t budge. Somehow between those two events she was supposed to take her neighbor’s daughter to ride the ponies. At the stable, an hour away.

She was dizzy with stress and terrified of disappointing anyone and everyone. She didn’t want to get a reputation for not being dependable. She started to feel disconnected from everything, sort of a floating sensation. Something had just snapped.

She left the house with no plan, leaving the front door wide open as she wandered down the quiet street. It was late afternoon when she poked her metal clad head in the door of the restaurant. Too early, good, no maitre d’ on duty to greet her yet. A flight of stairs to the right caught her attention. She navigated the climb awkwardly in one cowboy boot and one sexy, ostrich feather slide. She scanned the empty room feeling like R2D2 in drag, and plopped down at the first table. Warm, salty frustration spilled involuntarily down her cheeks. Her life was out of control—one steaming, hot mess.

Why did she always say yes? It was like the word “no” wasn’t in her vocabulary. Saying yes is what a loving and compassionate person does for others, right? She was not that bothered by the fact that she never really felt like others appreciated her efforts. That wasn’t the point. What was the point? She just never felt she could do enough. She felt guilty, even when she helped.

Norma continued her muffled rant to the Universe until she noticed her outstretched, gesticulating hand, warmly being licked. She maneuvered her head to look down and met the very understanding face of a Dalmatian sporting a red scarf.
“How do you do?” said the dog.
Norma sat in stunned silence. Surely this was not happening. A talking dog? Seriously? Finally Norma decided to participate in the surreal moment—what did she have to lose?
“What’s your name?”
“Helen Dalmatian,” she replied.
“Perfect. I’m Norma.”
“You know, Norma, I’ve been listening to you for the last five minutes, weeping, ranting, raving, flailing your arms about. Lots of anger really. I’d like to give you some advice if you would permit me to.”
“Go for it,” said Norma, somewhat amused.
“Well, a life of love and compassion does not mean you take on the burdens of others. Those are their burdens, their life—just as yours has your burdens. You are not to interfere with their burdens. Those are where their life lessons come from; how else will they learn if you take them away? They will eventually be seen as a gift for them. At least, that is how it is supposed to go…but you know, everyone has free will. Your challenge Norma, is to love yourself, faults and all. It’s part of being a human—it makes you whole. Next, embrace every traveler you meet on your path with love and compassion for their unique perspective and challenges. Just accept them, regardless. You don’t know what their story is. You can agree or disagree, help or choose not to—but only with their load, not their burden. Love yourself for whatever choice you make, regardless of how they react—that’s their choice. Radiate love from within yourself for them and their situation. Inspire them. If someone is capable of doing something for themselves, let them. But always radiate love for them, like a dog.”

Norma pondered the advice. It would make life so much easier if she didn’t have to please everyone to be a good person. She could love others without pleasing them—what a concept!
“By the way, very cool dress, Norma!”

After discerning Norma had no treats on her, Helen Dalmatian padded softly down the staircase.

An intermittent beeping woke Norma as her faithful companion, Cleo, a three-year-old pharaoh hound, was incessantly licking her hand.
“Wow, I don’t even have a nephew,” Norma said.

The Stuff

"You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen." -Paulo Coelho

“You have to take risks. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen.” -Paulo Coelho

Georgina worried. She worried about her friend Frank. Frank was a blackbird with a very cavalier attitude toward life. Frank didn’t even have a five-year plan for his life. “Life loves you!” Frank always said.

Georgina grew up under the constant threat of, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” As a result, Georgina actually had a 30-year plan for her life. Her life would not be a failure. But that was before the tsunami.

Georgina sat on a Styrofoam board and watched her ruined belongings drift by her, one by one, taunting her presumed control over every aspect of her life. In truth, not one year ever went according to the 30-year plan. Something always interfered, and her control over her life seemed to mostly be limited to damage control. This year was no exception, and she figured it set her back at least 10 years.

She looked up at the sky and watched Frank soaring high then low. He was having a great time looking at all the debris. Each a valued possession of his good friend Georgina, only a day before.

She needed to replace her stuff. All of it had taken years to accumulate. She was wearing her beloved red cowboy boots when the wave hit, and she was grateful to still have them. She was mostly grateful both she and Frank were okay. She would start anew, yes, a plan to replace her stuff! But then she was gripped with an uneasy feeling. She looked at the items that identified her life, floating by, mocking her. She realized all her planning and controlling made her so attached to the outcome of everything and how it would come to be, that she actually felt like a failure when it didn’t work out as she had planned. Her life was a failure.

Frank took a playful swoop by her.
“It’s just stuff!” he shouted as he climbed high into the sky.

Georgina spent so much time trying to control Frank, trying to get him to worry enough to make a five-year plan. She wanted him to live more like her and stop living moment-to-moment. Until now, she had never realized that Frank had never wanted for a thing. He looked at it all as a great series of events, meant to happen. He never worried about anything, and worry was her middle name. There was always something to worry about. Frank saw everything that happened as a game to find the hidden gift in it all. He always enjoyed Georgina’s friendship and company—he never gave advice. As far as he was concerned, nothing had changed. They were now sharing this great adventure together.

The thought of replacing her stuff was tiring. As she drifted, her eyelids heavy, her red boots full of water—turbulence was suddenly everywhere! She sat up on her board and watched in amazement as a stunning, chocolate brown horse galloped across the surface of the water. She had a saddle made from the shell of a sea turtle and an ornate harness of butterflies and branches. She trotted in a circle, eyeing Georgina on her Styrofoam float. Frank watched from above in awe and zoomed in to hear the conversation.

“Well, as I see it, you have two choices. Stay here, or hop on my back,” the horse said in a sweet and calm voice.
“But where will you take me? All my stuff is here. I can’t just leave—this is my life,” Georgina said, infuriated at the suggestion she leave her stuff.

In a not-so-sweet voice, the horse said, “Okay, Georgina. You can stay here with all your stuff and watch it deteriorate. Or you can learn how to really live. You never actually own anything in life, except what is inside your heart, of course. We tried to get you to see how it’s done by giving you your good friend Frank. Unfortunately your ego decided since he lacked his own stuff, he had nothing important to share. You needed to make him more like you. Thereby creating more stuff. The way you have been living life leaves no room for serendipity, the spice of life. Planning is fine, if you leave it at that. Controlling, worrying, manipulating others simply blocks life from happening as it should. Now, are you ready to hop on before your toes shrivel?”

Georgina was a little miffed at being called out but knew it was absolutely true. Frank took a swoop by her head. “Life loves you!” he laughed, as he perched between the horse’s ears.
The Horse spoke again, this time with compassion.

“Ask the Universe for what you need. It will always answer, but only when asked. What you need is not always what you want, so don’t be attached to the outcome. Always ask to be led to your next step. Take steps you feel compelled to take toward what you want, and surrender yourself to the serendipity of life. If you don’t think the outcome is a gift, then it isn’t over. It is beyond your imagination and is constantly unfolding. If you look back later, you will see the perfection of it all. How the events of your life have been woven into an absolutely perfect tapestry. Now please, it will be dark soon—hop on!”

Georgina paddled over to the horse. The horse got down low so she could climb on her back. They were immediately back on the surface of the water for the most extraordinary ride, galloping faster than Georgina thought possible. Frank kept up easily and thoroughly enjoyed the situation. Georgina leaned over to the horse’s ear.

“I’d really love to have this cool saddle of yours.”
To which the horse replied, “Georgina, this is a process. The stuff you seek is inside you, not outside. When you no longer want the saddle, we’ll talk.”

With that, she galloped with Georgina and Frank into the hazy horizon.

 

“If you look at what you have in life, you’ll always have more.  If you look at what you don’t have in life, you’ll never have enough.” -Oprah Winfrey