Visit From a Butterfly

Tossed by a stiff breeze, she maneuvered her landing with resolute precision.
As her delicate legs, no wider than a hair, glued her in place,
She arched her delicate wings at me.
Hello.
I held my breath, awestruck that she had spoken to me.
Of all the creatures in the universe, at this exact moment, a windswept butterfly chose to speak to me.
How should I respond?
A simple, “hi” seemed mundane, but how does one undertake a conversation with a butterfly?
Fearing my silence would drive her away, I spoke.
Hello there.
Then, feeling inept, I said,
You’re beautiful.
Thank you, was her reply.
The perception of external beauty is reflected from within, I read in the graceful movement of her wings.
How is it you fly on such a blustery day? I asked.
You’re so fragile; why does the wind not tear you apart?
A wing rose as she turned a half-circle to the right.
I felt her chuckle, amused by her windblown, yet much more solid companion.
It’s simple really, she said. I wait, patiently mind you, for the right current.
Then, I ride it, ever mindful of turning into, not away from, the flow.
Suddenly, the wind shifted and I sensed her departure was imminent.
I knew a part of me would fly with her.
I voiced this to my new friend.
I swear I saw her smile.
Of course, she said. And a part of me will go with you.
The nature of life is to form a bond wherever we go.
We give in order to receive the bond.
Too often, her wings spoke, we fail to give and thus miss a grand opportunity to enrich the universe.
So, continue your journey, my friend, and when you think of me again, think of the giving, and we shall both be blessed.

Brick by Brick

A flatbed truck full of brand new bricks passed in front of the loft this morning.  I noticed yesterday evening that there were several areas along the three- or four-block stretch of walkway where old, uneven bricks had been torn out.

Having stubbed my toe and stumbled over cattiwampus bricks (that’s a Mom description that means askew), I’m grateful for the installation of a smoother walkway.

Seeing the bricks and knowing they’ll be placed to evenly connect one area to another, sends me on a time travel back nearly 20 years.

In my early days of sobriety, as I was literally counting the days as they added up, I was not praying so well.  I remember feeling guilty for feeling good yet I didn’t know how to adequately express my gratitude to the God that I didn’t really understand.  I worried about my lack of understanding around the God thing. 

My solution was to build a brick road to God.

Each night, after maintaining sobriety for that day, I visualized placing a brick along a pathway that would eventually connect with God.  I didn’t know how many bricks that would take but days passed and I found myself placing the 23rd, 42nd, 65th and up into triple digits.

My theory was similar to what the bricklayers will do here–by laying one brick down by another and then adding another, both sides will eventually join.  I intuitively knew that if I put enough bricks into place, day by day, brick by brick, God and I would eventually hook up.

I can’t remember how many bricks were needed for that to happen.  At some point I lost count.  But I found what mattered.

I really need the God of my understanding today.  Mom has been gone for four weeks today and I am grateful for God’s presence.  I can feel it in the sunshine and rainbows and cat purrs.

I feel God’s presence in the smile of a stranger, an energetic encounter with a colleague and a sweet note from a friend.

Today, God’s presence feels like Mom is with me too and my mental picture of us skipping across the brick walkway, like we used to do when I was a little girl, is a happy one.

Supreme Gratitude

I just read a Grapevine article that reminisced about the chill wind that blows through the gaping holes in many of us. I know this feeling is often attributed to alcoholics and addicts nearing their bottoms, but I have to wonder if others feels it—the desperate aloneness, no ambitions, just day-to-day plodding through an empty, endless life.

Yes, I’ve been there. Most in my circle have. Sobriety and a relationship with a higher power bring many gifts—closing the gaping holes with love and hope is one of them.

I don’t ever want to forget the period that felt pointless and futile. I didn’t want to live, but I didn’t want to die because I mistakenly thought once I was gone, that was it. As emotionally bereft as I was, my ego said, what will the world do without me? I am worthless and I have nothing to offer, but surely someone will miss me!

God has a plan and I locked onto tiny threads of hope as only the desperate can. I don’t believe that my soul was ever completely bankrupt. There was a flicker of life, of desire, still there so that when I heard the words, “You don’t have to live like this anyone,” I felt relief for the first time in a long, long time. God never stopped believing in me. He always had faith in me. Once I indicated a tiny bit of my own faith, a mighty fire began to burn inside me. The chill wind was finally being warmed.

I am grateful for life—a spirit-filled life—today. I pray that others get to experience similar feelings. But there has to first be willingness to begin to surrender the past in order to be cleansed and prepared for the peace and contentment that will surely follow.

In the midst of trauma, I can allow my spiritual filter to not let negative, emotionally-charged situations get through to my center.  In the hollowness of grief, I can simply be aware that God Is, and trust the process of taking one step after another.  In the center of my being, I can feel my being-ness and know that love is my bedrock.  I am never alone.

Canine Movie Medicine

Saw the movie Cats and Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore, the other night.  I’m still reliving bits and pieces, partly because it was my first 3D movie experience (I am now addicted!), partly because it was so good to belly laugh, but mostly because there were several underlying life messages.  If you haven’t seen the movie yet, but are hesitating because you think it’s for kids, trust me, there are lots of references that only adults will get!

James Bond fans:  Watch for innuendos and listen closely to the voice of Tab Lazenby, head of the elite cat spy organization MEOWS.

I’ll concede that my current emotional state may be partially responsible for my movie takeaways; plus it is possible that I’m looking too deeply into what is, according to The Hollywood Reporter,  “a critter movie gone mad.”   What can I say?  Yes, I lean toward over-analyzation.

In addition to the requisite theme of Good vs. Evil, I’m a sucker for any character, animated or human, that overcomes the adversity of life situations.  In the movie’s story, a German Shephard named Diggs (I promise not to give too much away!) spends a good deal of his life caged, often as a result of his own conduct.  He tends toward hot shot-ism but each time he returns to the kennel, he fronts his feelings with an attitude of “I’ve been here before.  I can handle this.  No one can hurt me.”

That attitude is so familiar to me.  I grew up thinking I could only truly rely on myself and that if I acted tough, no one could see that all I really wanted was for you to like me.  So I intentionally placed myself in situations where I had the potential to be a hero but more often suffered the consequences of foolish decisions.

Trusting anyone else came hard to me and as a result, I often found myself “caged.”  My spirit took a lot of repeated knocks, until, like Diggs, I learned a vital life truth.

A self-imposed cage can be a fortress again pain but it can also lock out those who can help.

In the movie, Diggs learned his lessons the hard way.  In real life, so did I.  However, thanks to folks who refused to let me remain imprisoned and massaged my heart back to life, I eventually realized the lock on the cell door was on the inside.

And Diggs?  I promised not to give the story away so you’ll have to see the movie.  Let me know what you think. 

Stay tuned for my feline comments.

A Note from Heaven

Today began in extraordinary peace, at least for these times.  I woke feeling good in mind, body and spirit.

Life goes on even when we don’t want it to, even when the losses not only seem unbearable, they ARE unbearable.

In my nearly five decades of living, one of my greatest lessons is learning that, with a few exceptions, there are no absolutes.  Most everything exists on a gradient or a continuum ranging from pure joyful emotion to raging soulful despair.

The before-sobriety me thrived on either end, lived for those highs and lows.  They fed my disease of addiction.

Today, I still sometimes respond unhealthily to those extremes.  Instead of drinking, I over-eat, I over-work, I obsess and I don’t sleep.  I’m not very good in the coping department.

I’ve been doing a lot of those unhealthy things lately as I grieve my mother’s death.  Plus, I’m a bit black-and-blue from beating myself up for the so-called bad behaviors.

I had an insight yesterday.  The feelings and responses I’m having right now are all a apart of my grieving process.  No one else’s.  In my world of checklists and deadlines, I forget that there is no expected completion date for my grief.  I’m the only one pressuring myself.

The words from a precious card my Aunt Elda sent to me help (author unknown, published by Bella Greetings Cards):

A Note from Heaven

If I could write a note from Heaven,

this is what I’d say,
Please don’t miss me so much,
I’m with you throughout your day.
You may not see or hear me,

but if you’re quiet and still,
You may just feel my presence;
because, in Heaven, there is free will.
Don’t worry for the day,
it will come and go as planned.
Enjoy each moment you are given,
keep worry from your hand.
Keep sorrow to a minimum;
For if Heaven you could see,
You’d know I’m safe and happy,
I did not cease to be.
Moments in time are brief,
until we’ll be together again,
As Eternity lasts forever,
our lives, they have no end.