The most difficult choices are often the subtle ones. Pairing the green slacks with a blue or brown button down instead of with the shiny orange tank top for a business meeting is an easy choice, but picking which blue has the best base notes to complement the green is more difficult. This practiced nuance is what I work to achieve in sorting that most difficult wardrobe accessory, confidence.
Confidence comes from making good choices. Making good choices is predicated upon discerning what is in my control and empowering myself to continue functional behaviors and to change what isn’t working. This is where it gets tricky. Persisitence and insanity (doing the same thing, expecting a different result) can look incredibly similar. Acceptance and defeat also share a similar hue.
When life gives me lemons when I ordered bananas, it’s much easier to do make nothing at all except excuses, after all I ordered bananas. I know I have the ingredients for banana bread, I am craving banana bread, and lemons absolutely do not substitute into my bread recipe. So the lemons rot away while I starve to death dreaming of banana bread cursing the heavens for my lack.
I can begin to look at how to use the lemons. Hey, I have flour and sugar and butter and eggs all available for the banana bread so maybe some scones and lemon curd are in order, and I finally grind the pecans (I put pecans in my banana bread) to make fresh pecan butter as a perfect complement and thank the universe for my abundance.
How does this look in real life?
I have had many challenges, opportunities to survive. Hey, everybody has challenges, so mine are no bigger than yours, just different. Some of my life challenges have been the kind where people cheer to still have you here, like cancer; some are the kind people inwardly want to blame you for (to protect themselves from realizing it can happen to anyone) like homelessness, poverty, abuse and assault; some are the losses that anyone who has a heart will eventually experience like the death of family members, friends, or relationships. All of my challenges have come with plenty of opportunity to whine, blame, and wallow in what I didn’t have or couldn’t do.
There is a great little story I will completely mis-tell here as I distill it into what I remember. It is about a boy who dreams each night of two wolves fighting. One wolf represents fear and famine and hopelessness; the other wolf represents love and abundance and persistence. The boy dreams them equally matched over and over again, and he goes to his father and asks which will eventually win, and the father answers that the winner will be the one the boy feeds.
I get that concept, verbally choosing love over fear, that is the easy part; like picking the business blouse instead of the sports top. Truly implementing it is the tricky part, choosing and change.
What do I actually have the power to change?
To go back to the bananas, some things are obvious, if I only planted Lemon trees the odds of harvesting bananas are really, really slim. A real life example is if I say I want to be healthy and pain free but I do not choose to daily exercise and stretch the muscles I do have use of, nor do I choose to eat whole, healthy natural foods, then I am planting lemons and seeking bananas.
Also, things we plant do not always grow. I have core body changes related to health challenges that make balance and certain fine motor and gross motor movements less than reflexive Sometimes it takes lots of failed attempts to get a desired result. This could be compared to growing bananas where I live. Bananas take lots of moisture and 18 months of no frost to bear fruit; I live in Arizona so bananas are possible although difficult, and as I am still working on actually harvesting zucchini from home grown plants bananas are a loooooooong way off for this gardener. In time I will master banana growing or I may, in the meantime, develop a real love for lemons which grow pretty easily here and abandon the pursuit of bananas. Here is the subtle part again. Realizing that it is a choice. If I decide to focus on lemons or marigolds or zucchini in my garden, how I tell the story to myself is the difference between responsibility and blame.
If I tell myself and others, “Yea, I grow lemons (or marigolds) because I can’t grow bananas in Arizona, its just too dry.” I am a victim, I will in time resent the harvest and the home. However, if I say to myself, “You know bananas are taking up too much of my time and I really love lemons so I am going to grow the best lemons I can!” I am empowered and a survivor and glutted on gratitude.
To move back again to real life, surviving survival to again thrive is the toughest challenge of all. Some days it seems like everyone has moved on with their lives and are winning all the races, while I still struggle with running a mile or balancing on a bike. Those are the days I review my 20 wishes book, reassess where I am today, and recommit myself to who I want to be tomorrow. I am not competing with anyone but me, all I have to do is keep trying, and slowly improve and I am a success.
I have so many dreams still; some involve a healthy pain free body, some involve managing to actually have lasting intimate relationships, some involve formal education, some are about world travel and some just involve feeling safe. I can tell myself the stories about how and why I hurt, am afraid, isolate, stay home, am not in school; or I can look at the stories and determine where I actually am, what I can change, what I want, and devise the steps I can take to get there if it is a goal I want to pursue. Some of these goals are bananas some are lemons. Not all dreams need to be realized, but it is always a choice.
Responsibility and gratitude got me where I am today. I am not dead, in a wheelchair, or homeless and on the streets. I am a nurse, a published author and critic, a mother of amazing sons and surrounded by friends who even if they don’t actually get me most of the time, do at least accept me. Sometimes life just drops bananas in my lap, today is one of those bananas.
Namaste my friends.