The Roads We Travel

A few days in a life journey.

Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration

Good Grief

Are there days when you just wake up sad?

I have those days sometimes where things just seem a bit melancholy. There’s no one thing to point a finger at — it could be the weather, a bad dream, no coffee, a late start. Any number of things may add to that feeling.

I think some days it’s a culmination of grief. Grief over loss especially — and not necessarily a dramatic loss, like a death in the family, although that certainly adds to it. I’m thinking more about the loss of small things, like time as your mind wanders over how big your kids are getting, or the loss of opportunity when I think about ideas that I have that I’ve done nothing to advance. Even the loss of money can make me experience moments of micro-grief (I made that up, I think, lol) — wasted money, unearned money, unexpected bills!

My daughter experienced loss-of-money grief the other day. She had saved up enough money to buy a toy she wanted and it was really hard for her to save the money since she wanted to buy so many other things, but I told her that if she bought those other items then it would take longer to save up for this toy she wanted.

After losing her two front teeth, she finally had enough money for the toy and when we got to the store to buy it, they were sold out. She was bummed, but we went online to look for it, she was going to be even more patient and wait for it to ship, but she didn’t like the versions of the toy that were available online. She decided to go back to the store the next day to see if it was restocked and if not she would buy an alternate toy.

Her first choice wasn’t in stock yet, so she found an alternate that she was happy with and made the purchase. We had a playdate with a friend right after and she was happy that she got to debut the new toy with a friend.

However, on the car ride home from the playdate, she burst into tears, “This toy is so boring. Why did I spend my money on this? I want my money back!”

Buyer’s remorse. Oh boy, did I feel sad for her, but I knew it was an important lesson to learn. Sometimes, we just want a shiny new thing to distract us, even when it’s not our first choice, we just want to spend money and have something new. Usually, in the end, those purchases never feel good. Why did we buy it? We certainly didn’t need it. It wasn’t even what we really wanted.

I could have let her take the toy back to the store, even though it was already out of its packaging and played with, but I thought the lesson about making wise choices with money was more important.

That brings me back to grief…

Sometimes we lose things even more valuable than money. Sometimes we lose friends. Not necessarily to death, but sometimes a friendship just comes to an end. You know the saying that people are in your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Sometimes you meet a reason or season person, and when the friendship ends you feel so sad because maybe you thought it would be a lifetime friendship.

I had friendships end like that in high school, then another really close friendship in my late 20s, they were all sad experiences and I suppose that I grieved in my own way at the time — even without knowing that’s what was going on. After the experience in my 20s though, I did a lot more thinking and reading about friendships and relationships in general. I realized that I tried so desperately to hold onto relationships because ending them reminded me of the lost relationship with my dad, which I didn’t have any control over. That didn’t stop me nevertheless from blaming myself for that lost relationship and the others that would follow. So, in an effort to control the outcome, I tried holding on to friendships and relationships wherever I could without realizing that I was only one factor in a myriad of reasons why a relationship comes to an end.

Earlier this year, my daughter kept coming home from school and sharing that she had a sad day because a friend “broke up” with her. We talked about these situations a lot and it always seemed to be the same friend. I suggested that maybe things were meant to be with this friend and maybe not, but all she could do was to keep trying to be a good friend and let the chips fall where they may. I also suggested that she work on trying to have a good day despite the status of their friendship. I urged her to look to some of the other things that were going well in her day and focus on those things, even though there may be moments of sadness about losing a friend.

Don’t you know, earlier this week, while making dinner, my daughter shared with me that this same friend “broke up” with her again. She then shared, “But I didn’t let that ruin my day. I had a great day…” and she proceeded to tell me about all of the other things that happened at school.

Friends, I can’t tell you how much joy that brought me. Is it possible that my daughter has learned something at age 7 that took me 20-30 years to understand?

I mean, I know that she’ll experience greater friendship losses than a fickle classmate who’s in some days and out on others, but the framework is there for understanding that one, someone deciding not to be your friend is out of your control, and two, it will feel sad, but it won’t ruin your entire day or life.

After the recent presidential election, I lost some friends — some closer than others. It makes me sad to think about losing those friendships, and I still have to consciously have the conversation with myself about the life cycle of friendships. It’s grief or micro-grief for sure, but it’s good grief. If you can work through the sadness and understand that it’s all for a purpose — in most cases, to teach us life lessons that help us to grow and help others along their path of learning.

Today, while driving, I was reflecting on this good grief. It’s important to feel the sadness of a loss, that makes us human, but it’s also important to understand that loss is an integral part of life — we cannot escape it. We must embrace it and learn the lessons that come along with it.

My prayer today is for God to comfort anyone experience grief, any level of grief — big or small, and that God sends an angel your way to hold your hand through the experience.

Light and love.

Written by Shara

March 10, 2017 at 12:45 pm

I Did a 10-Mile Trail Run

A few weeks ago, I started running. Well, more like jogging. Actually, I probably walk more than I jog or run, but I manage to get a bit of it all in there.

A friend inspired me to start running during our conversations about a half marathon in Santa Barbara this coming June. I’ve never run a half marathon or anything other than short sprint races in middle school.

That was many years (and pounds) ago.

Last weekend, another friend invited me to do a training trail run with her. She’s an experienced marathoner and I’m always in awe of what she accomplishes. At first, she said we would do a 6-mile training run, but when we showed up the morning of the run, the training group leader said we would actually be doing a little more than 9 1/2 miles that day.

group-training-trail-run

Ummmm, what? Is it too late to back out? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

But, my friend was a great coach and motivator. She encouraged me the whole way and never left me, even when I suggested that she should save herself and leave me to rot.

trail-run-photo

In the first mile, our run took us up about 500 ft and on a steep incline. I truly didn’t think I would make it, but I kept going. Four and a half hours later we emerged down that same hillside and I was truly amazed.

I didn’t think this body could… would, but it did.

There were moments I wanted to puke. Moments that I cried. Moments that I vowed never to speak to my friend again. Moments when I doubted myself, my sanity, and even my ankle strength to carry me one step further.

Nevertheless, she persisted.

I persisted, we persisted and we finished.

My friend said to me that this run would be more mental than physical. She said that when you cross the finish line, there’s a feeling of accomplishment that no one can take away. You start to understand that any goal you put your mind to you can achieve.

trail-run-friends

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to push myself in this way, mentally and physically. I’m looking forward to my first race and crossing the finish line. Of course, I have a feeling that it won’t be the end, but more the beginning.

Written by Shara

February 12, 2017 at 1:29 am

Ms. Understood

Mistaken. Misconstrued. Misunderstood. 

Since my last post, I have been thinking about how often people are misunderstood. Beyond that, how often those misunderstandings go unchecked.

After thinking about it for a while now, I’m starting to care less.

For a long time, and I’m not sure how it started, but I have been ever so cautious about saying the “right” things, never wanting to be misunderstood. I’m not talking about political correctness or even using good manners, but doing things like sending hundred-word emails for something that can be summarized in ten.

I dread being misunderstood or misconstrued. I want people to understand what I’m saying, even if they disagree. Always understood. Always heard. Validated. But, I’ve gone too far and it’s time to pull this train back into the station.

I’m not saying to lose the pleasantries or even common decency that any human being should display, but over-communicating is overrated. It bothers me to think about how much time I’ve wasted just trying to come up with the exact right words to convey my thoughts or sentiments to someone who has already had the conversation in his/her head and decided what I meant without checking-in.

Time wasted. Not getting it back.

In relationships, you can only do your part — stay true to your heart. Follow the path that God has intended for your life’s journey. If others want to walk with you and be blessed to be a part of that journey, then they will check-in when their minds tell them to think the worst of something you’ve said or done.

Knowing your heart and knowing you, those who were meant to be a part of your life’s journey will check-in. Others will pull away, fall away, run away or go their way. That used to be my worst fear and now I realize that it’s just a part of the cycle of life.

Last Sunday, I spent some time watching Super Soul Sunday on OWN and it was definitely food for my soul. From Brené Brown, Pastor Joel Osteen and Pastor Rick Warren to inspiring words from Iyanla Vanzant and Dr. Maya Angelou. Yes, it was exactly what my soul needed. Reminders that, “What you feed will grow.” Stay positive and enjoy the journey. Don’t waste time comparing yourself with others because as Pastor Joel says, “Nobody can beat you at being you!”

A friend’s Facebook post reminded me of a song that I love: It Is Well With My Soul. Indeed, it is.

I hope things have been well for you. What’s inspired you this week?

Written by Shara

April 6, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Inauguration 2013: We the People…

Presidential Inauguration 2013

Photo Credit: Huffington Post

Today, I watched the Presidential Inauguration and felt such joy, pride and hope. Not just for myself and my family, but for so many Americans who in the past have been relegated to the sidelines of  our society — minorities, immigrants, same-sex couples, and even those with disabilities. All mentioned in President Barack Obama’s  inauguration speech.

Wow!

Just earlier this week, I had a conversation with a neighbor who proclaimed there were too many Asian Americans in our community. He said that another neighbor had to move because she was the only one on her street who spoke English. He continued to share that his biggest problem is with Hispanics who are “too lazy” to learn English, and that if they truly wanted to be Americans then they should learn English. He felt that federal tax dollars should not be spent to translate information for government services into Spanish.

Of course, I took issue with everything he was saying. Everything.

For a moment, I was surprised. I’m not sure why because I have had similar conversations with this same neighbor in years past. Also, I have met people with similar prejudicial ideas more than a few times in my life. Then it hit me.

In my quiet moments, in the safety of my loving home and in the ideals of my mind, I forget that not only does this type of prejudice still exist in our nation, but it resides in my community — right down the street. And, while I’m saddened at the thought, I’m also thankful.

Thankful that my neighbor feels comfortable enough expressing his prejudices to me… someone I’m sure he knows is not a sympathetic ear. Thankful that his starkly different views slap me in the face and wake me up to a reminder that our work is not done.

Thankful for a President who has the audacity to hope for something better for ALL Americans and would be Americans.  Thankful for a President who said today,

“Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity.”

See, I realize that my neighbor and many like him have never taken the time to get to know someone coming to this country for the first time, trying to make a better life for themselves and their family… and also struggling to learn English as a second language. If he did, he would know that it is certainly not laziness that becomes the barrier to success. Many wake earlier than the sun and work multiple minimum or low wage jobs to provide for their families. They strive for that dream that so many take for granted.

I also realize that it’s not my job to convince him that he’s wrong and I’m right. And while I am baited into the dialogue to express my opinions and strong dissent, it’s not my job to change his mind or enlighten him.

It IS my job to make sure that legislators are elected, at all levels of government, who understand the importance of creating a unified vision for America. One that includes all Americans regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, culture, disability, language, religion, sexual orientation or otherwise.

It IS my job to make sure that I am a part of this dialogue for change, so that when opposing views are expressed, they are not the only ones heard.

It IS my job to make sure that my children learn these lessons not merely from what I say, but also by what I do.

It IS my job to ensure that my children understand how they too can make a difference in this country and in this world.

My heart sank thinking about my neighbor’s comments the other day. Today, my heart soars with hope and progress.  I will keep at the forefront of my mind the President’s words today,

“We do not believe that in this country freedom is reserved for the lucky and happiness for the few.”

God bless you all and God bless the United States of America!