MOVING

In accepting Janet’s gracious invitation to be a guest writer for her blog, I wanted to remember what she had named as her original intention for her web site. As my search unfolded, the phrase that captured my attention was the one that described her desire to create an oasis of “beauty, hope, and healing.” I immediately felt drawn to the possibility of speaking into these themes from my own lived experience. So, I here begin with a story about beauty and have included a picture of myself (see photo at end of story). While I understand how this pairing likely appears quite presumptuous, please allow me to explain.

 

For better and for worse, I arrived in this world a highly sensitive, largely introverted caregiver and not surprisingly found myself growing up in a family that seemed to need a lot of what I had to offer. Hardwired to fix and to please, I mostly unknowingly functioned from the sole motivation of trying to heal all the hurt I sensed around me. (In later years, I often thought the perfect epitaph on my headstone would read “Died Trying.”) While most of the behaviors this purpose fostered were applauded, like getting top grades, assuming positions of leadership, etc., some of the other behaviors, the self-abandonment, the perfectionism, the anxiety, weren’t quite so positive. In essence, these more challenging parts of myself have comprised what I have gradually and affectionately come to understand as my “life work.”

 

Early on, my grand plan, and as you might imagine I often had one, was to approach this desired work intentionally and gradually over time through periodic workshops, visits with a trusted counselor, and much later on, in ongoing conversation with God and meaningful engagement with my spiritual director. That plan was gaining momentum as I left college for the world of work and was in forward motion as I married and later left the world of work to raise our three daughters.  As is often the case in my life, my well-laid plans don’t always yield the hoped for results in the desired timeframe. Another plan was yet to unfold, a series of events actually, that I have come to call my ten-year tsunami. In those ten years, my one sibling and I moved our parents from their home of 35 years into assisted living, companioned them daily as they faced the ravages of advanced age, and celebrated their lives when they died within six months of each other. At the same time, my husband and I helped send our three daughters across the country to college. Shortly after they graduated, we helped plan each of their three weddings and offered our support as they all moved out of state.   We then welcomed three grandchildren. Finally, we decided to sell and move from our large family home and build the home where we now reside.

 

I fully realize that for many people, perhaps most, this is merely the stuff of life and nothing whatsoever to come undone about. I, on the other hand, who was often referred to by my lifelong friend as a “bag of nerves” and who frequently observed myself, in trying so hard, as someone who could wring the joy out of absolutely anything, was all but undone. For me, and I was able to see this most clearly in retrospect, this was my refining fire. Given how I am wired and with what felt like so much life coming at me, I could hardly see straight let alone maintain any semblance of balance or health. My default response of rising to the demands of life in white-knuckle fashion and running as fast and trying as hard as I could until everything was seemingly taken care of was no longer working. It eventually became apparent to me that if I had any hope of surviving, God was going to have to help me change my long held ways. That thought, on top of everything else that needed doing, somewhat comforted but mostly overwhelmed me.

 

Thankfully, the phrase God began gently whispering to my soul was “in the midst.” As I cleared interior space for this idea to more fully unfold, a few things became clear. I could no longer wait until the demands of life ceased, to begin taking care of myself. While I didn’t have control over much of what was happening in those years, I did have control over how I would respond.   Making sure that my core habits of praying, eating, sleeping, and exercising were in place was mine to control. At this same time, a dear friend suggested that I consider asking myself on a daily basis, “What is my part to do? In other words, where is God, where are others? As unbelievable as this might sound, I had always simply taken on as much or more than I could, so the idea of a part presented a whole new perspective. I also began to understand at a far deeper level the statement my spiritual director frequently made, albeit with great love and gentle humor: “Tracy, there is a God, and you’re not it!”

 

As I further opened myself to the idea of a new way of being in the world, I was deeply moved by the divine guidance I continued to receive. It was actually about two years before the close of this ten-year tsunami that I was celebrating a birthday and also well into the seemingly unending sifting and sorting that accompany a downsizing move. I was bringing order to my external world, so why not my internal one as well. I decided to make a list of all the ways God was encouraging me to reshape my being and doing. I wanted to name and claim these emerging awarenesses and then, in time, secure them to one of the main doorways in our home as a daily reminder. On my birthday, I invited Janet to join me in front of our home, still much under construction, as I proclaimed before God and her the learnings I was beginning to gather from my tsunami, those things God was inviting me to bless and release and those God was inviting me to claim and embrace. This ritual was deeply meaningful and invigorating. Unfortunately, in the process of moving, the list was inadvertently misplaced and assumed lost.

 

Just recently and again in what seemed to be God’s perfect timing, as I looked for something else, I happened upon this list. What a welcomed reunion and what an impactful surprise to recognize all the important growth and movement that had occurred in my life. My precious proclamation reads: release a life of overwhelm with few limits and boundaries and claim a life with healthy limits and gracious margin; release a life of self-abandonment and embrace a life of self-compassion; release the desire to be enough and embrace the desire to be whole; release a life of compulsive giving and helping and embrace a life of balanced giving and grateful receiving; release a life filled with obligation and embrace a life of celebration; release a life of being stuck in anxiety and embrace a life in the flow of creativity; release the tendency to please and embrace the desire to be authentic; release the need to control and embrace the capacity to accept; release the burdened adult and embrace the playful child!!!

 

As only God could orchestrate, New Year’s Eve was a day away and 2015 would mark the year of a brand new decade for me, the big 6-0! Our home happens to be on a small lake and one evening some kind neighbor went out with his snow blower well past my bedtime and created a path around the entire perimeter. The first thing that occurred to me when I awoke the next morning to see it is how much fun it would be to skate again after a mere thirty years. With our entire family home for the holidays, I asked if anyone might want to make a trip to Play It Again Sports. Many of us piled in the car and “Dita” (what my grandchildren call me) and a few others returned with skates. Just as the sun was setting on New Year’s Eve, our youngest daughter and I sat on our dock, laced up our skates, and, haltingly at first and then quite gracefully and very joyfully, glided around the lake. This convergence of breathtaking soul growth, courageous body engagement, and glorious life timing was an exquisite gift, a true turning point for me. With each stride, I felt lighter, freer, more invigorated, more excited to embrace the beauty that is my life.

 

………………………………………………………….

 

In writing this piece, I became aware of my natural inclination, when reflecting on beauty, to look for and see beauty in others, in the natural world, in art, in dance, in the phrasing of music or written word, but rarely in myself. This is especially so when I wrestle alone with all of my shortcomings. I was then reminded of the following gloriously powerful message:

 

Woman Un-Bent

By Irene Zimmerman

 

That Sabbath day as always

she went to the synagogue

and took the place assigned her

right behind the grill where,

the elders had concurred,

she would block no one’s view,

she could lean her heavy head,

and (though this was not said)

she’d give a good example to

the ones who stood behind her.

 

That day, intent as always

on the Word (for eighteen years

she’d listened thus), she heard

Authority when Jesus spoke.

 

Though long stripped

of forwardness,

she came forward, nonetheless,

when Jesus summoned her.

 

“Woman, you are free

of your infirmity,” he said.

 

The leader of the synagogue

worked himself into a sweat

as he tried to bend the Sabbath

and the woman back in place.

 

But she stood up straight and let

God’s glory touch her face.

 

 

 

 

Questions for Reflection:

~How might you relate to the experience of a life tsunami or refining fire?

~What fruits were born from your experience of this?

~How has God been whispering to you, calling you forward?

~What points might you want to include in your own proclamation of growth?

~What are the ways you see and celebrate beauty in your precious life?

 

 

Warm greetings! I’m Tracy Mooty and the consistent thread woven through my nearly sixty years of life is soul care. I’ve especially enjoyed sharing this with my husband of 32 years, our three daughters and their husbands, our three grandchildren, and our two pups. We’re an active bunch who enjoys golf, Frisbee golf, tennis, pickle ball, and most every board and card game! Janet and I first met at Colonial Church years ago and thanks to her mostly gentle prodding we’ve partnered to offer all sorts of retreats and programs. She’s also the reason I’ve entered into this adventure. J

 

c Tracy Mooty, 2015. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

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