Just Around the Bend

robert frost, the best way out is always through, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

When I woke up from a nap yesterday evening, the world looked a little different. I’ve been closer and closer to that moment for a while now. I woke up this morning and that sense had settled in even deeper – though I’d had a weird {weird-bad, not weird-entertaining} dream that could have been unsettling. In the place of some of the hard stuff that I’ve walked through the last couple of years, is a quiet peace.

Perseverance is something that many of us probably feel we’re well acquainted with. I have often been told that I’m strong. But being told that got old a long time ago. I don’t particularly care for being strong. I have a similar relationship with the word perseverance. Obviously, you don’t learn to persevere or persevere well, unless you face your fair share of challenging circumstances.

Life isn’t ever going to be free of challenges, conflict, or pain. It ebbs and flows, right? So while I can’t really call this an end, it certainly feels like rounding a corner to see the most beautiful sunrise or sunset you’ve ever seen. I live near-ish to the coast. We have high rise bridges that take you over the Intracoastal Waterway. As you reach the top, the Atlantic Ocean comes in sight. It doesn’t matter how many times I see it, my heart always catches in my throat. That’s a little of how I feel right now.

Here’s the truth about God, healing, hope, and working your way through hard things or difficult circumstances – sometimes it’s the littlest things you need to admit, confess, forgive, fully feel, or maybe even say out loud – that help you round that corner. If I can encourage anyone who comes across this, to keep pressing forward, I wanted to share. Life is weird and wonderful and I know when stuff is a mess, it’s hard to imagine it being any other way.

The thing is, your moment of clarity, peace, forgiveness, or healing – is just around the bend. Keep moving forward.

Eucharisteo

Eucharisteo, one thousand gifts, ann voskamp, elaina avalos,

If I told you what last night and today have been like, it wouldn’t be useful. I’ve cried many tears today and I’ve prayed with words I don’t have. Here’s the truth I had to dig for – but found- this evening, on a day when nothing makes sense and I’m worn out. Eucharisteo. In Greek, this word means, to thank, give thanks, or to be made a matter of thankfulness.

Before His crucifixion, Jesus broke bread with His disciples and thanked God the Father for the bread – which would come to symbolize his own body – broken (Luke 22:19). The word used in the Greek was eucharisteo. As He moved steadily toward his purpose – painful though it would be, and though He knew one in the room would betray Him, He thanked God for the bread. There at the so called “Last Supper,” when He knew death and suffering awaited Him – He thanked God for the bread.

It has taken me a while today to wrap my brain around where my head needs to be right now. I already knew, deep in my heart, it was eucharisteo, though. I prefer to operate from a place of joy and gratitude. It’s the sweet spot where I feel most in tune with my purpose. But sometimes I lose sight and I get bogged down in the stuff that happens (or doesn’t happen) around me. It’s easier, most certainly, to see what is and is not happening around you.

Joy is a habit: wear it.

~ Ann Voskamp

The thing is, thinking on the negativity begets more negativity. I know this to be true. So…thinking on what is true, right, good, and pure and being grateful and thankful would do the opposite, no? In the moment, though we may be in the midst of or walking into difficult circumstances, this thankfulness is absolutely where our hearts need to focus.

I got out of the habit of naming “one thousand gifts” as a practice. I started doing that after reading Ann Voskamp‘s book by the same title. I’ve said I should get back to it – I even start. But it’s in fits and stops as the hard days settle in. Today, I was ready to give up – call it quits. Donesky. I was done. I want a different story. He isn’t budging. At least not yet. And in the despair of unchanged circumstances, I grasped on things that are fleeting, that steal time & joy and which will never lead to a peaceful mind or spirit.

What will? Eucharisteo. I pulled out my extra journal and forced myself to write down a few of the moments in recent days and weeks that have given me joy, caused me to take a deep breath at the beauty, or that I got a real kick out of. I’ll take it in my purse to work every day until it is habit again. I’ll keep it there as a reminder. I’ll write Eucharisteo on my monitor at work – which I stare at all day – if I have to.

We’ve long heard the phase, “You are what you eat.” I think we are what we think. So when it doesn’t make sense and I can’t see what lies ahead, I’m focusing on what’s good. I will thank Him for every little thing I see – that reminds me of His grace & beauty. I will see the grace in the million little things around me, that are His calling card – reminders of His goodness when the weight of the world settles in and answers are few and far between.

Eucharisteo.

Hope, Faith, & Ho’oponopono

viktor frankl, stimulus quote, elaina avalos, elaina m. avalos

When I posted on Monday, I was a little down in the dumps. My heart is a little beat up and on top of it all, Tuesday morning, I took an early morning phone call, while getting ready for work. A former colleague has passed away. I felt like a zombie all day Tuesday. I made stupid mistakes, I was all over the place. Tuesday afternoon, I took the dog to the vet. She’s got some powerful meds to help get her through an infection and some inflammation. I hope this will put her on the right track. But she’s “old” and I worry about losing her. By last night, I just wasn’t okay. It has been one thing after another, you know?

The thing about this former colleague is that it not only broke my heart – but it drove home – how short our time on earth, actually is. It is just a mere blip. I just saw this person a few weeks ago at work. Initially, I felt a weight in the grief of it all. I had a good long cry last night. But as this loss settles in, I think it’s a far more powerful tribute to the impact this person made in my professional community, to doggedly live this wild life I know is waiting for me. Maybe the word, wild throws you off. I’ll have to write about that someday. But one of the things I mean by that is that I want to live counter to a culture that celebrates things and titles and live in the moment tasting and experiencing life and all it offers us. There’s a richness and beauty to life, but it’s often lost in the pursuit of everything else. But it’s not just that! I think we often lose out on the life we are meant to live – the life we want to live – as these painful moments rear their head, because we won’t face them.

The temptation for me & I’m sure for many others, is to shrink back in our moments of loss, pain, grief, etc. But I’ve decided this is exactly when I need to turn the dial up on my commitment to myself to chase dreams and live fully – each day. What I’m now learning (and leaning to accept) is that I can’t get there without facing the losses, pain, and grief. My words for 2021 were hope & faith. In these moments when I most want to pull the cover over my head and escape the sadness of it all, I’d rather choose hope and faith. I love joy. I love the simple things in life. In the weight of loss, it’s easy to lose track of that. I’m choosing hope & faith – against appearances. But I can’t get there without first facing the other stuff, head on.

In a slightly related and possibly also unrelated note (I’m sure that makes perfect sense to everyone), I read an article yesterday, on Elephant Journal, about the concept of HO’OPONOPONO. The article on Elephant Journal doesn’t do the concept justice – in my opinion. But I’m so glad I saw it. That article led me to do some more reading and then I found this article & video. I found it far more helpful. It’s essentially an ancient Hawaiian practice used to resolve conflicts within family units. But was used later by a therapist Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len and others.

The thing about HO’OPONOPONO, in what I’ve read so far, is that I think its beauty and the healing concepts, come – as you choose acceptance for what is – for wrong done to you or that you’ve done, for that matter. You’re not focusing on changing the person who has hurt you, or who you need to forgive, or the situation, for that matter. You are, however, working on your perception of the situation. The result is forgiveness, love, and comfort, too. This is all a lot to add to this post. Especially when I just read about it for the first time yesterday. But the way it ties together for me, is that my perception of what’s happening, is often what is pulling me out into the current – further from hope & faith. The balance that is gained (or I guess I should say regained) can open the door to that restoration of your hope and faith – because you’re no longer tied down by unforgiveness and the painful emotions.

I’m rambling now. The bottom line is that I’m learning all around me – from people like Brene (in this post), my therapist, and in unlikely places too – that facing the stuff head on is actually the route to hope, healing, and light in the dark places. So in this season of loss, added to the season before it, I’ve made that commitment to myself this evening. I’ll keep facing it. And through that, I’m certain I’ll get closer and closer to living this dream I’ve been chasing so long.

*The Viktor Frankl quote above was given to me today, by my therapist. It’s perfect.

And honestly, it’s kind of freeing, in my opinion.*