New beginnings

I have struggled mightily this holiday season. I can’t say what brought it on or why it seemed to take hold so deeply, but I’ve been depressed and angry. I’ll spare you the details; there’s not much to tell anyway. I was just in a bad place.

This morning my kids and I exchanged gifts and I’ve been thinking all day about the choices my kids made for me. I’ve been teary and reflective since they left to celebrate with their dad, but this time I’m teary in a good way.

Allow me to share.

My son gave me a balaclava, ski goggles, and long ski socks. I don’t ski. I’ve tried a couple of times–one dismal and one mildly successful–but that was years ago and with my wonky knees, I never really had any intention of doing it again. Besides that, I live in the glacially-leveled Hoosier heartland. There are no mountains here, not even hills where I live. Potholes provide the only elevation changes I see around home.

But I. Love. This. Gift.

It means that my son, who now lives in Colorado during the academic year and has taken up snowboarding, wants to share his world with me. He has asked me repeatedly to come visit and hit the slopes. With his gift, he’s asking me to spend time with him doing something he loves. I don’t care about the goggles so much as the wish behind them. You can bet I’ll be heading to the Colorado Rockies soon, wonky knees and all.

And my daughter. That beautiful, wonderful girl saved my life.

Her gift to me was a small book entitled 1: How Many People Does It Take to Make a Difference? It seemed modest at first glance, but I’ve already read it cover to cover and it has started to heal my heart. I’ve been so focused on myself and how bad I felt that I didn’t realize all I was doing was digging my pit of misery deeper and deeper. That little book is so full of wisdom that I’m going to have to reread it several times to take it all in.

Its message? GET OVER YOURSELF. Well, okay, it doesn’t say exactly that, but that’s the sentiment I took from it. Get over yourself, stop focusing on YOU, look outside yourself, and do good. And it’s sort of an activity book, too–it has spaces for thoughts, ideas, and goals.

Here’s the thing. Just like the ski gear, it’s not the book. First, my daughter sensed I was struggling and wanted to help. Second, I’m not sure how anyone else would receive the wisdom in the pages or even how it would have struck me a few months ago. I just know that in this moment, it offered what I needed. Words. Do. Matter. Especially the right ones at the right time.

I’ve had a cathartic few hours since my kids hugged me goodbye for the day. I’ve been finding myself again under the muck and the junk that has buried me for weeks. Some of the thoughts bogging me down–sorry, they’re too personal to share–found their foil in the printed words my daughter gave me. I have started to find my way back from a place I thought I might never leave.

So maybe it’s a week early, and I don’t usually do them anyway, but this year I’m making a resolution for the New Year.

This year, I’m going to focus less on me. Not just a little less, but a lot less. I’m going to get over myself and see where it takes me. And I’m going to write about it here.

Hold me to it.

A Cherokee elder was teaching his children about life. He said to them, “A terrible fight is going on inside me. It is a fight between two wolves. One is the wolf of joy, love, hope, kindness, and compassion. The other is the wolf of fear, anger, cynicism, indifference, and greed. The same fight is going on inside of you and every other person, too.” The children thought about it for a moment, and then one child asked, “Which wolf will win?” The elder replied, “Whichever one you feed.”

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