Tag Archives: acceptance

Sometimes You CAN Go Home Again

Maybe it all depends on how you define home.

The high school I graduated from in North Miami, Florida, has been torn down and the areas around the original site are now a blight.  The old neighborhoods are unrecognizable and some are even dangerous. Very little is the way it was when we were young.

Still, this past weekend 50 of my high school friends gathered on a Florida beach to celebrate a shared milestone birthday. Former classmates traveled from Texas, Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois . . . and of course, every corner of Florida, to be together. It was important. Continue reading Sometimes You CAN Go Home Again

Are You Dreading a Divine Scolding?

The Hasidim have a tale about a rabbi named Meir
who used to worry that God would reproach him
in his final days and say, “Meir! Why did you not
become Meir?”  

~ Poet David Kirby, “Mr. Dithers Explains It All”

The problem I have – and this is part of leading a “workaround” life – is that I am painfully aware I did not become who I thought I would become.  I mean, seriously, this did not work out the way I envisioned it would, on SO many levels.

I’m pretty sure if I had another chance, I would skip over the pesky derailments and embarrassing failures.  I would try harder to orchestrate things so that my life was more honorable and certainly more significant – in my mind, I would be a “better” person, if I could do it all over.

Does that mean I have not “become Diane” and that I should expect a divine reproach someday?

I was talking to my brother the other day about how as parents we try so hard to protect our children, to keep them from making the same mistakes we made.  We want to spare them the pain and embarrassment we suffered, the setbacks and failures we brought on ourselves.  And if we’re honest, there’s a part of us that wants to correct our own screw-ups through our kids which is of course, impossible.  Maybe it’s a kind of redemption that we are trying to engineer for ourselves: a do-over through our children.

Wow, that is so NOT Biblical, but it is pretty common.  That hovering and overprotecting is where we get the term “helicopter parents”.

I think that desire to protect our sons and daughters comes from a good place, a tender heart-shaped place.  But my brother, wise sage that he is, reminded me that kids have to make their own mistakes and learn from them like we did so they can become who they are supposed to be.  He pointed out the application in my own life, how if I had done things differently, I wouldn’t be who I am now.  And then he observed that my life has turned out pretty well and I’m in a good place, so it’s not all bad.  (Thanks, bro.)

Yes, there are many things I would change if I could, but news flash:  It’s not going to happen.  This is my workaround life and it’s not perfect but, really, is anyone’s?

So about that divine reproach: I don’t think God is going to scold me for not becoming Diane.  I think perhaps He will reveal to me the many ways He creatively redeemed all those blunders and made me exactly who He knew I would become all along.

And I think He’s going to tell me again how wildly He loves me, just the way I am.

Are you living a workaround life?  Is there a part of you that has ever wondered whether God is going to berate you someday for not “turning out” better?  For not using your one and only life a little more wisely?  Your thoughts and comments are invited ~  

Smudge the Dog Weighs in on: FOCUS

If Smudge could talk, she would tell you there is nothing in the world right now except that tennis ball and the very real possibility that someone might kick it or throw it.  You could dump an ice chest full of Gatorade on her head like they do to the winning coaches at the end of a championship football game, and she would shake it off and be right back on her target.

She is never going to stop being focused; that’s just part of being a Jack Russell.

When I was first starting out in my career, someone called me “intense” and I heard it as a criticism.  It sounded like an annoying personal trait, like I had taken focused too far.   For years, I tried really, really hard to be laid back.

Wow, I’m just not.

I value clarity and I admit to being a bit of a perfectionist.  I like to be absolutely sure about things if at all possible.  I hate having to go back and correct mistakes and clean up messes when – if I had just been paying closer attention in the first place – I’d be moving forward, not backtracking because of a major derailment.  And I can be very hard on myself, can you tell?

Smudge?  Not so much.

She never worries about screwing up.  She never worries, period.  She is focused with anticipation, not fear.  She is expecting a good time, something positive.   She wants to play and let me tell you, she’s hard to ignore.

Ah, and if you engage with her, Smudge will be all in, chasing and retrieving that ball till it’s slimy and disgusting.  She’s really good at it, too, even at 15½ .  (If I had ever learned to throw a Frisbee, maybe I could have trained her to be truly competitive as a Frisbee dog.)

The game is over when she finally collapses in exhaustion, which doesn’t take nearly as long as it used to.  But here’s the thing – she never even pretends to be laid back; she simply throws her whole quivering self into whatever she’s doing.

That’s just who she is.

I can’t change my basic nature any more than Smudge can stop being a Jack Russell, but I can learn to pay attention to what is motivating my intensity (there, I said it) and if it’s negative, I can make a conscious effort to let it go.  Yes, I can relax.

“Relax” is a command Smudge has yet to learn.

What motivates you to focus?

Is This An Alien Footprint?

Maybe.  I’ve wondered and imagined and told random children it was.  But the truth is, before I bought my house 22 years ago, my neighbors tell me there was a fish pond in the backyard.  It had a sidewalk leading up to it and a little bridge going over it.

Sounds lovely.

When they decided they were done with the annoying upkeep, though, apparently they broke up the sidewalk and took out the bridge, then just filled the fish pond with dirt and planted grass on top of it.  Now every time the temperature goes above 80 or two days pass without rain, the grass dies in this shape.


I didn’t know this before I bought the house because I closed on it in the middle of winter, when there was snow covering the grass.

I once talked to a landscaping service about digging the darn thing up and it was just too expensive, so I live with this ugly eyesore in my backyard.  It’s a good reminder of a couple of things:

  1. Deep roots are critical for real growth.  That’s such an in-your-face object lesson it almost doesn’t even need to be said.  But I sometimes need to be reminded that I can be as shallow as that grass if I don’t cultivate some depth in my life.
  2. What’s buried never really goes away.  My lawn looks great as long as the conditions are ideal.  But that fish pond is still there, heavy and useless, just under the surface.  If I want a perfect backyard (is there such a thing?), I’m going to have to get that thing taken out.  It’s going to cost me and it’s going to be involved.   What’s buried in my life that needs to be removed for me to be healthy?
  3. I settle for less than perfection a lot.   That’s not really a bad thing, as long as I don’t get all frustrated and weird when things aren’t perfect.  If I don’t want to have to explain the dead patch to guests, I either have to get it fixed or I have to not care.  But I can’t get mad at the grass for not growing.

What do you see in this patch of dead grass?  Are there any other lessons to be learned (or are there any bored landscapers out there who find it offensive and want to come help me out?)

My Slap in the Face Six-Word Memoir

Capturing the essence of your life in exactly six words has become a fascinating and oddly clarifying past-time. I even saw there has been a board game created around this concept just in time for Christmas. It’s being promoted as “Twitter meets Password” and the object of the game is for teams to compete to create and identify hundreds of topics based on six-word descriptions.

Somehow, calling it a micro-memoir is more appealing and less final than, say, thinking of it as an epitaph, though there are some great six-word epitaphs that seem to qualify as memoirs in their own way (think, “I told you I was sick” or “At last I get top billing”).

My daughter was recently asked to come up with a six-word memoir for a job application and we both spent the next several hours blurting out funny (and some not so funny) combinations of words that told our stories within those parameters.  The one I came up with that really seemed to resonate with me also made me kind of sad. Here it is:

“I never did get it right.”

True, my life isn’t over yet so I still have time to “get it right”.  After all, this is just a six-word memoir, not my epitaph. But summing up my life that way sounded so negative and defeated. I want to be more optimistic than that and I have every reason to be. In many ways, I have led a fascinating and even charmed life. I have always been deeply loved (maybe that would be a better six-word memoir) and my Christian faith has sustained me (another one).

But by some standard in my own mind, the phrase: “I never did get it right” reverberated and taunted me. And there are days I let that define me.

No, I never did get it right. But you know what the truth is? Neither did you. Neither did the most accomplished among us. And that’s really okay. It’s good to try, but if we could get it right (whatever that means by your definition, which is no doubt different from mine), we would have no need of each other and no need of God. We would be sinless, and Jesus’ death would have been irrelevant.

I think I’ll accept imperfection, how about you?

Do you have a six-word memoir you would share … and maybe explain?