Land That I Love

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One of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen is that of Lady Liberty from the ferry that transports passengers from New York City’s Battery Park to Liberty and Ellis Islands. This is the place where my great-grandparents and my paternal grandfather came to the U.S. in the early 1900s from Europe, immigrants in search of opportunity. Some of their names are engraved on the wall at Ellis Island. I wish I could talk to them now, ask how it felt when first they laid eyes on Lady Liberty after a long journey across the Atlantic. Were they fearful? Hopeful? Relieved? Homesick? Did they cry, too, when they saw her?

Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

this-too-shall-passMaybe it was my new header photo, taken in Jamaica by one of my students, that inspired me to recall the Bob Marley song, Everything’s Gonna Be Alright. The lyrics popped into my mind yesterday while I sat at the kitchen table paying bills. Outside, dark clouds covered the sky and nearly two feet of snow covered the ground. I should have been depressed, but I felt hopeful.

For a long time, I’ve felt rather hopeless and stuck. I won’t bore you as to why, but suffice to say that if there is a purgatory on earth, it seemed I was in it. Then on this dreary day, hope and Bob Marley’s lyrics filled me. The sense that I was reaching the end of a dark period has been slowly infiltrating my psyche of late, and in that moment I felt the light at the end of the tunnel beckoning me. I am embracing this light with open arms and resolve that I am worthy of it. This last is important because if we don’t feel worthy of something, we are far less likely to get it.

We all go through mini, and sometimes extended, purgatories, stuck and dark periods from which we can’t seem to escape. Maybe they are needed to process trauma or grief. Maybe they are an incubation period for new growth. Maybe they exist so we can appreciate the beauty of life when the light returns.

If you’re feeling stuck and/or hopeless right now, take heart: This, too, shall pass. The light will return in your life and everything will be all right. If you don’t believe me, take Bob Marley’s word for it.

How can anyone not feel happy listening to this song? Thank you, Mr. Marley, for sharing your beautiful spirit with the world through your music.

Seriously?

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One of my Facebook friends posted this quote the other day. I’m sure she meant it as inspiration, but it struck me as a little holier than thou and judgmental. Seriously, we and we alone have sole control over EVERYTHING in our lives? Nothing is that simple.

While I agree that our choices greatly impact our lives, I question how much control we have over the place from which we make those choices.  For instance, can we really compare the choices of a person who grew up in a safe, stable, loving household to one who was the victim of chronic abuse?  I don’t think so.

So many things happen in life that are out of our control, that impact our psyches in ways we don’t understand, which in turn influence our choices, for better or worse. Our life experiences, from the moment we are born, our earliest role models, trauma, unconditional love, exposure to violence, exposure to art and culture, travel, isolation, quality and level of education, and so many other things impact our choices. Very often they do so unconsciously.

I’m hardly an expert in psychology, but I’ve lived long enough, and made enough bad choices – along with many good ones – to know that not EVERYTHING in my life is a reflection of them. Sometimes, stuff happens. Sometimes, other people make choices that impact our lives. Sometimes, we are faced with a choice we didn’t ask for and wish we didn’t have to make (I’m thinking of the recent American presidential election here). Sometimes, in good faith, we choose wrongly and don’t realize it until it’s too late.

As adults, we owe it to ourselves, when our lives aren’t going well, to engage in self-reflection (and maybe a little therapy) to get to the root of why, and our role in it. But when all else fails, and you’re left reeling from a bad choice, take heart from one of my new favorite quotes:

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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.

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.