Friday, February 26, 2016

Today's Hopeful Thought: Dishes and Gifts.

Hi friends. I am so glad you all decided to come back. And for those of you who keep come back to see what nonsense I have posted every. single. week, I just have to say...

I like you so much. 


You make me feel sane, which is much more of an accomplishment than it should be.

I have spent the week rattling against my "stay at home mom"-ness. Do you guys do that? I just cannot find meaning in the relentless onslaught of dishes and cooking and carpooling. To the point that I am crying by 10 am, a sure sign of trauma, just thinking about all those dishes and meals and carpools. I spent 2 hours doing dishes the other day. Seriously. 2 hours. I almost died. Except I didn't. 

I did cry though, before I started the washing. And there might have been a bit of journal writing and a prayer said for good measure. And then I thought about what I would have liked to do if I wasn't doing dishes (or dreading doing dishes.) What did I feel like I was missing out on, to prompt all these tears and disillusionment?

My answer was super lame and super wise.

I want to do something fun. 

Hmm. Fun. For me, fun usually involves other people, and laughing and talking and ....loud music. 

Hmm...loud music is fun. 

And where there is loud music, there is dancing. 

And where there is loud music and dancing, there is a... 


I decided to have a dance party doing the dishes. 

I totally did. I cranked up the "Discover Weekly" list on Spotify and shook my booty while I scrubbed and soaked. For 2 hours. 

Now, was it the best party I've ever had? Absolutely not. Was it the best time I ever had doing dishes on a Tuesday morning? Totally. Except for that time I was washing dishes at my parents house in high school with that cute boy and we ended up getting in a soap suds fight and ....Oh, sorry. The correct answer is "Best. Dance Party Dish Washing. Ever."

At any rate, the time passed quickly and before I knew it I had a whole bunch of new songs starred for my play list the dishes done and the kitchen floor swept. A jolly time was had by all, well by me at least, and the work got done, finally.

So, since then, I have been thinking. 

What if everything that happens to us is a gift

Even dirty dishes, and car accidents, and breakups we didn't see coming? Along with unexpected birthday flowers and loosing 80 lbs after being overweight our whole life? What if sometimes it just takes an enormous amount of creativity to "unwrap" the gift? (not unlike that stiff plastic they use to keep small children away from their toys at Christmas requiring intricate razor blade and blowtorch skills to open, all while said small child is reaching and wailing wildly for said toy. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me)

I was raised with the idea that everything we experience is for our good. But what if it is more than just an experience? What if it all really is a Gift? The capital letter kind that shapes and molds our lives in ways we could never imagine. The kind of Gift that pushes us towards become who we most want to be? To the things that define us. To the outcomes we would most value at the end of this little life. 

I have been chewing on this idea for a number of years, and it has changed how I look at the things that make me cry. If I try really hard, and think and pray about it, there is always a golden egg there in the mud. The harder the experience and the harder the egg is to find, the bigger the impact for good on my life. I promise. I have tried this over and over and over again. I have always found a Gift.

Give it a shot. Look at the crappiest thing in your life and try to find the gift. It will be hard to see. It will take time and a change in perspective and perhaps a prayer or two or twenty. It will take a strong heart and a stout belief in your own worth. But it's there. Just waiting for you to find it and be filled with wonder at how things in our strange little lives work together to weave such a beautiful tapestry.

Well that's all I've got for today. But stay tuned, because next week I'm gonna tell you guys about a bunch of stuff you don't know about me. 

I know, right? 

I can't wait either!

And please, please tell me if you have found any Golden eggs in the mud? Any Gifts. I would love, love, love to hear those stories.

Talk to you soon,

CM Shaw

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Beginning of "Hopeful Thoughts"

Has God ever asked you to do something? Or have you ever just had the same persistent thought to do something a bit out of your comfort zone eat at you?  I am not talking about parting the Red Sea or calling any Roman emperors to repent or anything. But something small, like asking you to write to a friend and apologize for the fight you had 5 years ago that made it hard to be friends, even if it wasn't your fault? Or to go talk to the person living alone in your neighborhood that you have never met and only see pulling in and out of their garage?

Well God has asked me to do something small, that scares the crap out of me. I am supposed to share a weekly Hopeful Thought with you guys. 

I know. Huge, right? 

Now it's not that I have any problem telling anyone about what I am thinking. Usually it takes a gigantic effort on my part NOT to say what's on my mind. My issue here is simply that I am afraid that talking about my view of the Universe will make you guys think I am crazy  people's eyes glaze over with boredom. Or worse, bring out people's argumentative natures. I really, really want to be a source of hope for my readers. But I have no idea what you guys need to hope for. Or that I can accomplish this lofty goal. I am not an academic or prophet or expert. I am simply a basement philosopher who talks to everybody. But not quite like the homeless guy on the corner. He doesn't have a blog.

Still, my experience has been that when I do these hard, small things that God asks, crazy amazing things start to happen. And I am too curious to see where this goes to let my fears win.

So here goes, my first Hopeful Thought:

I recently found out that a friend was in the process of getting divorced. I was shocked. They had always been a "best friends' type of couple. They shared everything, liked the same things. They were even in business together. As the shock has ebbed and I have thought more about what this means in their daily life, I have wondered what to say to my friend. I have no details about what happened, or who instigated the divorce, and frankly, it really isn't any of my business. 

So I started thinking about what would be helpful, as these days of duking it out over business rights and home ownership and child custody roll on. What blessing would I want when my whole life was shredding right before my eyes?

And I had the oddest thought pop into my mind. I saw waves of fire consuming a forest, and then a little girl planting trees and wildflowers in the soil enriched by the fresh ash. 

This image reminded me of a time when a dear, dear friend and I had to part ways. It was an explosive separation that rocked my life like a nuclear bomb going off. But one very unexpected thing happened. I was blessed to see how hard my friend, a vivacious, private, passionate woman, was holding back her wrath, keeping her words, as our relationship dissolved, as kind as she could bare. It was one last beautiful gift, in honor of the friendship we had shared for so many years. And it is something I have tried to cultivate in myself, especially with my husband and children. There is tremendous power in being kind when you are trying so crazy hard to just be civil. That kind of respect builds bridges that we don't see until we are standing on them.

That ability is what I would wish for my divorcing friend. That she and her former spouse can remember to be kind, even as the fires rage all around them. For they are much more likely to be able to build a loving, if separate, world for their children, where kindness was used even in the hours of greatest darkness. And if they cannot be together, than a peaceful co-existence would be the next best thing, I think. It would pave the way for light to return to all of them and mitigate so much pain. 

I thought Cinderella's lovely motto "Have Courage and Be Kind" was nicely relevant. 
Plus, they are such a dreamy couple... 

As for being a hopeful thought, I think that if we can have enough sense to be kind in our words and deeds when all hell is breaking loose, then we have a lot more going for us than we thought. It is amazing to me how far our efforts can reach. The good we all are capable of. And how powerful our actions Now can be to change the future for the better.

Talk to you soon,
CM Shaw