Feel Everything

“You have to go through the fire. Avoiding the pain is why most people never resolve it. You have to dig deep, sit in it and ugly cry.”
~Vanessa Williams

heal-and-feel

The beauty of feeling everything – the joy, the pain, and everything in between – is that it means you’re alive. (Image via http://www.123rf.com)

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Hallelujah!

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” ~Isaiah 9:6-7

 

 

Fool Me Once…

This quote gave me chills when I read it because it made me consider mistakes in a new light. I’ve thought of mistakes as growth opportunities, lessons learned if made only once. I thought of people who make the same mistakes over and over as fools who never learn their lesson. But I feel the truth in this quote, and now I know better: They are making a choice. And chances are when they are choosing, they simply don’t care how it affects those around them.

Go Ahead, Give Up

Grunge landscape with single tree

Image via kcisradio.com

Several years ago a higher ed colleague, whose position was grant-funded, lost her job when the grant cycle ended. She’d just completed her doctorate degree and thought for sure she’d have a new position in no time. So did I. She was well-liked, hard-working, creative, and delivered results.  Who wouldn’t want to hire someone like that?

For over a year she pounded the pavement, sent out dozens of resumes, had numerous interviews, and tapped into her network. The result of her effort  was no job offer. One day on Facebook, clearly frustrated, she posted, “I give up. It’s the only thing I haven’t tried.” She spent the next few months spending quality time with her kids and rejuvenating her tired body and spirit.  Come fall, she had a well-paying position in higher education. Two years later, through new networks she’d forged, she landed her dream job.

Her post and story have always left me wondering: When is it time to stop fighting and surrender? Is there a difference between surrendering and giving up?

I don’t know that there’s a right or wrong answer to either question, but I do believe that for each of us, there comes a time in our life when we need to stop the struggle and turn the fight over to a higher power. Whether you believe that power is God, a universal intelligence, fate or something else doesn’t really matter. What matters is that the act of letting go, of surrendering, is sometimes the bravest action we can take. It takes courage, faith, trust, and self-awareness to say, “You know what, I can’t do this anymore. I don’t know how to solve this problem. I need help.”

This is not a process for the faint of heart. Once we surrender, then we must wait. Waiting requires patience, something I personally don’t have much of, which is probably why too often I feel like I’m struggling. It also requires stillness, because only through stillness can solutions to our greatest struggles arise, sometimes like magic, into our awareness. I know this, because I’ve had such moments. Maybe you have, too.

So if what you’ve been doing isn’t working, go ahead and give up, consciously surrender. You might be surprised where it takes you. Maybe to places you never would have arrived at on your own.

Quotes From Literature

“Never panic or struggle if you’re stuck…If she hadn’t struggled, she might have lived.”

~Advice from Max Fleurent’s father after a local girl drowns while stuck under a dock in All Stories Are Love Stories, by Elizabeth Percer. I was struck by how these words can be applied figuratively to our lives. How many of us aren’t living life to the fullest because we’re too busy struggling against the tide?

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Buddy stuck in a tree. No struggle or panic, just a quiet meow to let us know he was there. If you’re stuck in a tree, you might as well make the best of it and enjoy the view until you get out.

I’m Really Trying To Love You

“Let all that you do be done in love.” ~1 Corinthians 16:14

There’s nothing like the Christmas season to test one’s capacity to love.

For example, I had to remember how much I love being American after driving by a Kmart store on Thanksgiving evening that was open for pre-Black Friday shopping.

I had to force myself to think loving thoughts toward a relative who sent an email list of gifts he’d like for Christmas, and ignore the fact that in it he didn’t ask what we wanted or even how we were doing.

I’ve had to work extra hard lately to love going to the gym (always a challenge regardless of the time of year), which unfortunately is located by a mall, because it’s now taking twice as long to get there due to holiday shopping traffic.

Finally, I have to try really hard to feel loving and generous about spending money I’d rather save to instead buy gifts for close to 20 people who don’t need them, for no other reason than it’s expected this time of year. Somehow Jesus’s birthday sparked a Spendandgimmepalooza in our culture. Or was it the advertisers who did that?

In all seriousness, the Christmas season can test our capacity to love in so many ways. For some of us, there are those dreaded family gatherings with relatives who know how to push our buttons, sadness over missing loved ones who are no longer with us, nostalgia over Christmas days long past.  Some of us feel empty, lonely, and left out during the season.

Corinthians says love is patient and kind, but how many of us are patient when waiting in long check out lines or in crawling mall traffic? How many of us are kind to salespeople in crowded stores or are ready to bully others for our right to the last gadget standing? We’ve all heard horror stories of Black Friday stampedes and deaths.

This Christmas season, I’m going to try hard to remember why the holiday exists, which is to celebrate the birth of Christ. I’m going to try and focus on the elements that give Christmas its magic – the beauty of lights, traditions, music and carols, the spirit of peace and childlike joy that pervades our hearts, if only we can slow down long enough to feel it.

When all else fails, there is always love.

Help Wanted: Query Letter And Synopsis Feedback

Dear Readers,

I am bypassing a traditional post this week to ask for your assistance with helping me to fulfill a longtime dream of having my romance novel published. As some of you may know, I recently completed a historical romance novel set in 1929 Newport, Rhode Island. Sweet Irish Kisses tells the unlikely love story of a wealthy debutante and an Irish shipbuilder whose paths cross when the heroine is on the run from an arranged marriage. Writing the 75,000 word novel was easy compared to having to condense it into a 200 word synopsis for submission to Avon’s Impulse line. Then there’s the tricky matter of the 750 word Query Letter. Quite frankly, this process is torture! And it’s scary. Especially when one considers the 200 words could determine whether an agent even bothers to read the query letter and story excerpt.

If you have the time, interest and willingness, could you please take a look at my three synopses and tell me which you prefer? If you think all need work or that I should start over completely, please say so and give me some specifics. Each synopsis is a work in progress and I fully anticipate having to revise one or more. Likewise, I seek feedback on my query letter. If you are a published author or have other knowledge of the publishing industry, your professional critique is most welcome. If not, then your opinion as an every day reader is most welcome. If you have no interest or time to read either, I completely understand. Thank you in advance for your feedback. I look forward to (and in some ways dread) your comments!

michael-gorman

Michael Gorman, my husband’s great-grandfather, whose portrait hangs in our living room, and who inspired the name of my hero. Michael came to the U.S. from Ireland in the late 1800s and bought 12 acres of land, which my father-in-law now owns.