I Choose…

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Life is all about our choices.  Good or bad, our lives are in direct response to what we choose. Even our emotions and how we respond to a situation can be our choice.  This is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately and was given the opportunity to test out yesterday.

I was rushing about to get things ready to meet my sister and her family as we were preparing to go to the lake for the day.  I was looking forward to this trip as a lovely distraction to get my mind off a heartbreak I was going through.  It had not been a very good week and this was my one bright spot.

Now we all have our weaknesses and bad habits and one of mine is putting on cosmetics in a car while I’m driving, but I’ve done it for 30 years and NEVER had an incident (No, I still shouldn’t do it, but I wanted to make that clear.) Yesterday morning as I was driving to the store, I hurriedly put on the cosmetics to use as sunscreen for the day.  After arriving at the store and getting out of my car, a man approached me and began to yell at me for putting on makeup while driving.  He cursed at me and called me everything from irresponsible to ugly, referring to the fact that the “make-up didn’t help.”  He did this in the middle of the parking lot with several people passing us going into the store.

A multitude of reactions went through me from fear to shock to confusion.  I didn’t know what to say other than try to walk away from him and finally told him to mind his own business as I quickly strode off in the opposite direction.  It shook me up so much that I left without purchasing anything.  Tears streamed down my cheeks as I drove to my sister’s house. My dear sister, seeing my tears, immediately wanted to track the man down and yell at him (bless her wonderful protective nature), but I said no, it wasn’t worth it.

As I drove to the lake with my nieces in the back of my car and listening to music, the tears still played about my eyes, but I made a conscious choice to focus on the good and not let a bitter man ruin my day.  I say this again…I made a conscious choice.  So I focused on the sun glistening through the pine trees.  I reveled in the lush mountain fields and the aqua blue of the lake as it broke into view.  I watched the kindness of strangers on the beach.  I laughed with my family, swam in the cool caressing waters, ate delicious food and relaxed on the sand simply glad to be alive in that moment.

Instead of allowing myself to give into pain, bitterness, anger and tears, I chose laughter, I chose light, I chose life and I chose love.  It was a small battle, but I conquered and my soul smiled.

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To See Through A Glass Darkly

tumblr_lxckxdgzrs1qac6sjo1_400_large“For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.” ~1 Corinthians 12:12~

Some people have their lives laid out. They are excellent at making goals and sticking to them.  They know where they will be one year from now, five years from now and twenty years from now.  I have never been one of those people.

Yes, it is true that I have made long-term goals and stuck to them and seen them fulfilled, but how I was to get there was rarely clear.

In the past seven years or so, my path has been obscured by a continual fog.  I would try going one direction only to find that way was blocked.  Then I would try another direction and that would end up in a muddy mess.  I would backtrack and try another route, only to find that it also did not work. At times, a ray of light would shine through the fog and I would think “Oh yes, now I know what to do!”  And then, as in the past, that endeavor would also fail.

Though I do not often talk about it, discouragement, failure, sadness and depression have been my companions often on a daily basis.  I’ve watered my pillow with more tears that I want to remember.

Yet through all of this, I have learned one lesson: the turtle won the race through constancy, not speed.  So though I continue to struggle through the fog, I know I will ultimately reach the goals I have set for myself.  I still don’t know how I will get there, but I trust that I will.  I now see through a glass darkly, but one day I hope to be on the other side of that glass.  And one day…I will see those dreams come true.

 

The Power of a Song

Have you ever listened to a piece of music that was so perfect that it gave you chills every time you heard it?  The song “Bring Him Home” by The Piano Guys is one of those pieces of music. (Link below.) I could listen to it a thousand times over and never fail to hear the yearning and passion in every note.

Did you also know that this kind of music has the power to change even the most stressful moments into an atmosphere of peace?  Let me share an example.

The other day, I was taking the bus to run an errand.  As I got on, there was a mother and her teenage daughter just in front of me.  One of the passes didn’t work and an argument started up between the driver and the mother.  I could hear them talking loudly, tempers rising, as I climbed up the stairs to sit on the upper floor of the bus.  At that moment, another man was fighting with someone on his mobile phone and the entire atmosphere of the bus was tense and filled with negativity.  Taking the bus on the best of days can be challenging, but today it seemed downright difficult.

I looked down at my phone.  I had just been listening to that very song at home and wondered what the reaction would be if I turned it on.  I had heard someone the other day play a classical piece of music on the bus and not a word of complaint was said.  “Why not?” I thought.  I found the piece of music and turned it up and played it on my phone.

As the first notes of the song begin to play, I felt a little embarrassed, wondering if I should turn it off.  But no one said a word.  Instead, the passengers grew quiet.  The anger and negative atmosphere that had been there moments before seemed to slowly disappear with every beautiful note.  There was almost a sigh of relief and then as the song continued…reflection.

By the time the last haunting note faded out, there was a feeling of peace.  The anger was gone and with it, I do believe more than one heart was changed, even if only for a brief few minutes.  It seemed to be almost a miracle, but no, it was just a simple lesson.  Through the virtue of one song, I was reminded that love has a greater power than every other emotion.  And that is what is felt in every tender note of this song…pure and unconditional love.

Those Forgotten Flowers

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For several weeks I have walked out my front door and passed this spot, ignoring it as I ran off to work or other errands.  I was always looking up at the gloomy, overcast skies and huddling under my coat racing for warmth seldom noticing anything around me.  Then just a few days ago, I stopped in surprise as I looked down and saw these small green shoots pushing up through the ground.  January 28th and there in front of my eyes was the first glimpse of Spring.  Though I was still in a hurry, I smiled to myself knowing that there would soon be colorful blossoms gracing those stems.

I thought a lot about those forgotten flowers throughout the day.  They had been growing silently for weeks…breaking through the hard soil, steadily upward through the frozen crystals, seeking the distant rays of a January sun.  Everything in the cold, harsh winter world should have stopped those flowers from growing, but there they were nevertheless.

I began to think about the dreams in my own life and how they had currently seemed at a standstill.  It was as if my world had been put on pause and the dreams I yearned for would never come to pass.  But those tiny green shoots reminded me that even when I’m not looking, there are forces swirling around me that are constantly bringing change.  One might feel as if one is not making progress, but just like those forgotten flowers, the obstacles are being overcome step by step.

It is a good lesson to remember – even when we think our lives are at an impasse and the walls will never fall, miracles are occurring every day even if we can’t see them.  Just like a flower growing under the snow.

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New Professional Portfolio Site! https://melissacoppins.wordpress.com/

Yes I did!  I decided it was high time to gather most of my links, samples and work in one site to use as a professional portfolio.  If you know of anyone who is seeking a writer and/or editor, please send them my way!  They are welcome to send me a message about what they are seeking on that site.  Yes, I will still be posting here, of course, but this will be used as a professional site for my work.

(It’s also a good place to publish the $600 worth of articles I never got paid for.  haha! :p )

https://melissacoppins.wordpress.com/

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Random Acts of Kindness

I was in the vitamin aisle wondering if I had enough money to buy my vitamins or if I should wait until I had a secure income.  I knew I was going to have to borrow money to make rent and wondered if the vitamins went on the necessity list or the “want” list. Then I glanced over my shoulder and saw her.  She was sitting on the metal bench at the pharmacy.  She was in her pajamas, talking on her cell phone and trying her best to wipe the tears away so others would not notice.

It was the day after Thanksgiving and shoppers were rushing by trying to get the best Christmas sales.  There was a general air of jolliness as the people passed, scurrying to get their errands done.  But there was no happiness in her face.  Our eyes met and for that brief moment, I saw the pain, the sadness, that desperate air of wanting to do…something and not knowing what to do.  It tugged at my heart.  I recognized that pain and that look in her eyes.  I have known it all too well.

Feeling shy and indecisive, I turned away.  Wasn’t that the polite thing to do when someone was hurting?  I mean, you don’t just walk up and hug a stranger.  I turned and looked at her again and then made up my mind.  There are times when you need to reach beyond your comfort zone.

Walking over to the flowers, I purchased a bouquet and then quickly made my way back hoping she was still there.  She was pacing in front of the pharmacy waiting for her prescription to be filled.  Nervously, I walked up to her and handed her the flowers and said “Whatever it is, I hope it gets better soon.  Merry Christmas.”  And then suddenly feeling a great deal of love, I reached out and hugged her and she hugged me back.  “Thank you,” she said quietly.  I looked in her eyes and though there were tears, I also saw surprise and something else…hope.  I turned and walked away and as I did so, she called out “Merry Christmas!”  I smiled and disappeared. For the rest of the day, the memory of her brave smile and sudden “Merry Christmas” stayed in my mind and I felt as if my own worries and burdens had somehow been lifted.

I do not tell you this story to make myself look like something I am not.  I tell you this story as a reminder that the best thing we can do to feel better about our own situations in life is to reach out and offer love, compassion and service to others.  If random acts of kindness were the hallmark of our society, there would not be so much sadness, so much anger and so much hatred.

So when you feel as if despair has taken hold and you can’t see outside of yourself, do me one favor…look around, find someone who needs a hand of compassion and reach out with love.  I promise you that your own burdens will seem lifted in return. Love sent to you all…

Running to Stand Still…

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The above title is in reference to a song written by U2, one of my all-time favorite bands. Though the lyrics of the song speak of another subject, the title seems to permeate down to the inner most recesses of my soul.  It seems to have become the motto of my life.

When I was young, traveling about the world and moving was exciting.  It was thrilling to think about what lay just beyond the edge of my vision.

But these days, moving and starting over has become a chore to be endured.  I’ve done it so many times that I can’t remember all the places I’ve lived.  There have been multiple and various reasons for the moves and all of them logical (though many people just call me crazy).  From job changes to difficult living circumstances to inability to afford where I was living, I’ve moved more than most people will move in a lifetime.

Yet the real truth is I’m “running to stand still.”  I’ve had a dream and a vision of my life that has never come to fruition.  A cottage-like home of my own surrounded by flowers and greenery, a loving husband, 2 cats (yes, must have my cats!), books and a window overlooking my garden as I write my novels.  Simple, peaceful and quiet…my “still” place. I was never very materialistic (though I always joked with my girlfriends that I would marry a millionaire), I just wanted a cozy, quiet place to call my own.

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Yet, for whatever reason, this has eluded me.  I still rent a room in someone else’s house.  I still struggle on a daily basis to meet the financial basics of life.  My relationships have been…well, we’ll save that for another day. And my writing, though it has improved, has yet to bring me the steady income I have sought.  The dream of my little cottage seems as far removed from me as it did when I was a young girl.  Even the most hopeful of people get discouraged sometimes and today is that day.

But…as I’ve pointed out many times, who knows what tomorrow will bring?  And so, with a sigh, I close another day with still a flicker of hope that I will yet see my dreams become a reality.