I’m Taking My Shoes Off

I am. I’m taking them off. Because I’m done. I can’t wear them anymore. They hurt too bad. They’re ugly. They’re falling apart. They don’t fit with any of my outfits, even though my outfits are old and out of style.

I can’t wear these shoes any more. Ever.

Have you ever thought that? The shoes you’re wearing just don’t do it any more? You can’t wear them any longer because they don’t make you feel good. In fact, the longer you wear them, the more miserable you become.

Every time and everywhere you wear them, things seem to fall apart.

You wear them to work and your day is awful. You can’t do anything right; your boss tells you he’s transferring you to another department where you won’t mess up as much, and your salary will be reduced.

You wear them at home and your husband ignores you; tells you how terrible you look; and informs you he’s thinking about leaving.

You wear them to your college class and you barely pass the test you’ve studied so hard for. And you only get a “C” on that project you’ve worked so hard on, and in order to keep your financial aid, you needed a higher grade.

You wear them while driving and get in an accident and your finally-paid-off car is totaled. And the insurance money isn’t enough to replace it.

You wear them to visit your children and grandchildren and they act like they don’t want anything to do with you. In fact, your son tells you he’d like you to go on back home because they have other things to do. Without you.

You wear them to your Doctor’s appointment, and he tells you you need an operation which has a six to eight week recovery time. An operation you can’t afford, and a recovery time that’ll leave you without a paycheck for those weeks.

You wear them to a coffee shop and see your husband at a table in the very back. With one of your girl friends. Holding hands. Laughing a bit too intimately. And then he kisses her.

Yes, you are more than done with those shoes!

The bad part is, they’re the only ones you have. And you can’t get any more. You looked in the shoe store, but every pair looked exactly like the ones you already have.

The solution? You’re going to stop wearing any shoes at all. It’s not worth it any more. All those shoes have done is make you miserable. Your life is a mess, and you just can’t deal with it any more.

It has to be the shoes, right? So if you weren’t wearing them, it would be so much better…right? So much easier to just forget everything. Give it all up. Why try any more?

But you have to wear shoes. You can’t go anywhere or do anything without them. So if you give them up, you’re giving up your life.

Do you really want to do that? Do you really?

There’d be no more second chances. No more strolls in the park. No more walks on the beach. No more lunches with friends or afternoons with family. No more days to just listen to the birds singing or feel the sun on your face on a spring day. No more running in the freshly fallen snow and jumping in it to make a snow angel.

Because with no shoes, there’d be no life here. Your shoes take you places. They stay on your feet in good times and bad, supporting you and providing you a safe path to walk or run on. They keep you from cutting your foot when you step on a piece of glass. And they help you walk on through the bad times as well as the good.

Your shoes represent your life. Without them….there is no life. You may not like the ones you’re wearing right now, and you may not be able to take them off safely, but they keep you going until you can get another pair. A pair which will take you new places and in new adventures.

But those new shoes aren’t quite ready yet. Because there are a few more miles to go in those ones you’re still wearing.

If you take them off now and throw them away, there’s no more you. No more life for you. And those beautiful new shoes that are almost ready for you won’t do you any good when you’re gone. You certainly can’t wear them. Because you decided life wasn’t worth living any more.

So you decide to end it. Why? Nothing can be that bad. Nothing can be worth ending your life over. You’ll eventually get a new pair of shoes, and you’ll be amazed at the changes!

Now do you think this is really about real shoes? The ones in your closet?

Then read it again. These shoes aren’t actual shoes, you know…not the kind made of leather and styled to perfection. As I said earlier the shoes represent your life. You aren’t the one who should decide when to take them off. No matter how you feel; no matter how depressed and discouraged you are, nothing…NOTHING…is worth ending your life over.

Because tomorrow is another day. And just maybe tomorrow you’ll get that perfect new pair of shoes. And things will be totally different!

It’s worth the wait to find out.

Need help? Or know someone who does? Visit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

 

Graduation Dreams

‘Tis the season. High school and college graduations. Caps and gowns. Speeches. Diplomas. Cameras flashing and postings on Facebook and Instagram. Friends telling friends they’ll never be forgotten. Parents wondering either how they’ll pay for college, or if their graduate will even want to go.

Swirls of emotions. Graduation Day is a day we’ve all worked extremely hard for. Whether it’s high school, college, trade school, medical school or law school, or a masters’ or doctoral program, it’s a very special day.

Sometimes, or shall I say most times, we don’t have a clue as to what’s next. What’s ahead for us. What the next few years will bring. We’ve been so focused on school, as in finishing school, that most of us never really thought about what happens after the strains of “Pomp and circumstance” are over; after we’ve thrown our caps into the air and gone to dinner or a party to celebrate.

Then you wake up the next morning and suddenly realize your whole world has changed. No longer do you have to go to school to learn how to do what you think you want to do; or to learn enough to hopefully get a job you think you want to do in the field you’ve chosen.

Suddenly it’s up to you to begin your future; to begin adulthood and become a “real adult”. To get a real full time job and take control of your life; your destiny; to begin a career.

And you suddenly realize you’re not ready. You’re not ready for that responsibility of “adulting”, in fact, that’s something you were never taught; how to go from student to working adult in less than 12 hours.

And it’s frightening. It would be much easier just to go back to sleep and wake up being a student again. Without the studying and test-taking of course.

But life doesn’t work that way. Life marches on day by day and ages us a day at a time. Your parents can’t understand how it happened so fast. Then again, in reality, neither do you.

Graduating from high school and/or college or graduate school is a really big deal. It’s a rite of passage into a whole other world. A world you’re not sure you’re ready for.

Let me tell you a secret. I wasn’t ready for that adult world either. Not when I graduated from high school. And not when I graduated from college four years later. I’d changed my mind several times about what I wanted to be “when I grew up” and the day I graduated from college I still had no clue. Sure I had a brand new bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. But not an idea in the world what to do with it.

My career path changed several times over my adult life. I’m very happy doing what I’m doing today, and wish I could’ve found this job several years ago. But it wasn’t the right time. I had to go through a series of jobs, learning a number of different skills, to be ready for this particular position.

I’m not alone in this. I envy those who knew from the beginning what they wanted to do, what they were called to be, and stayed on that career path. And I’m thankful for those doctors and veterinarians and teachers and attorneys; those mechanics and plumbers and electricians and everyone else who stayed the course and followed their dreams.

Some of us are called for one particular career. Some of us are called to do many different things in the course of our life. We never know until we walk through this life. But the choices we make at every turn; the decisions we make in going from one position to another similar position, all contribute to making us the person we were intended to be.

Graduation marks the end of formal schooling, and the beginning of a new adventure in our life. Yes, it’s a bit overwhelming at first, but only if we let it be. Becoming an adult is scary as well, but it’s something all of us have to do.

To each of you graduates, I commend you for a job well done. Whether you graduated at the top of your class or at the bottom, you did it. And you have a brand new future ahead of you. Don’t waste it. Make good choices. But when you make bad ones, learn from them and turn them around into good ones.

And for those of you who just graduated as an older adult, who went back to school to further your education and gain new skills, I totally applaud you. You had a dream and you fulfilled it. Go and make the rest of that dream come true!

The adult world can be a scary place sometimes. And there are times all of us want nothing more than to be children again. But you can only do that in your imagination. You have a whole new world to conquer now, and the best time to start is right now. Don’t waste another moment.

To all you graduates…it’s time. Make every minute count. You’ve worked hard for this opportunity. It won’t always go as you want it to, and there will be bumps and potholes and sometimes even barriers and accidents along the road. Your road may change course several times, but once you find that career path that was designed just for you, you’ll know it.

A huge salute to the Class of 2017! I can’t wait to see what the next twenty…and thirty…and forty years bring for each and every one of you!

In Memory of My Daddy

I published this last year, but it’s certainly worthwhile to publish again. Happy Father’s Day in heaven, Daddy! I love you and I still miss you!

 

Any man can be a father, but it takes someone special to be a dad.

I was blessed with a wonderful dad, as far as I can remember. He loved me, and he loved my mother. They tried for twelve years to have me. Twelve long years, I’m sure. And then his time with me was cut short by cancer when I wasn’t quite nine years old.

No, life isn’t fair. It wasn’t fair to him, or my mother, or to me. We should’ve had more time with him. I should’ve had the opportunity to get to know him and have those special father-daughter times that my girlfriends had with their fathers. Like my daughter fortunately has had with her dad, and still continues to have, even though she’s married and is now a mother to her own precious baby girl.

I should’ve had the chance to buy lots of Father’s Day cards, make Father’s Day gifts, and pick out awful Father’s Day ties that he would have said were absolutely perfect when he knew he’d never wear them. I should’ve had the chance to go shopping for my mother’s birthday and Christmas gifts with him; to have him take me to the beach and teach me to swim. I should’ve had him to teach me to ride a bike, help me pick out a puppy. I should’ve had the chance to introduce him to boyfriends and interrogate them, and get his opinion about them later.

He should’ve had the opportunity to go to my dance recitals, my piano recitals, and my high school and college graduations. He should’ve been there to teach me to drive. And to see me all dressed up for the prom. To give me advice on colleges, career choices, and hug me when my heart was broken over some foolish boy.

He should’ve had the chance to have my future husband ask him for permission to marry me. I should’ve had the honor of having him walk me down the aisle when I got married. And to be there with my mother when she met her granddaughter for the first time.

I missed all of that, and up until now I’ve never expressed these thoughts. Because they are too painful. Even at my age of sixty-six it still hurts to think about all that I missed. And all that he missed. So many memories that should have been made, but weren’t.

But they weren’t made, because my dad died. He wanted to make those memories with me, but the Lord had other plans. I didn’t understand it then, and I still don’t understand it now.

 

I treasure the few memories I have of my father. From the pictures I found of my first years as a child, I discovered a man who delighted in taking photos of me on special occasions. A man who spent hours in his basement workshop making special handmade furniture and toys for my Christmas presents. A man who bought me a puppy one Christmas and hid it in that workshop, staying down there all night so it wouldn’t cry and wake the rest of us up and ruin the surprise. A man who once took me out on the river in his boat one bright spring afternoon and promised me one day we’d go fishing together, and he’d teach me all about one of his favorite hobbies. I just wish I’d had that opportunity.

And there was the man who wrote me the most wonderful letter when he was in the hospital the last week of his life, telling me how much he missed me, and how he couldn’t wait to get well and be back home with us. The man who lives in my last memory of him, standing in the lobby of Johns Hopkins Hospital in his yellow bathrobe, hugging me, and telling me he loved me, and he’d be home soon.

He was. But not the home where we’d all thought he would be.

My memories of him, like his life, were abruptly cut short.

I know he wouldn’t have left me if it had been up to him. But life is not always fair, and tomorrow is never promised.

If you are fortunate enough to still have your dad around, give him a big hug and kiss every chance you have. Listen to his stories, and take lots of pictures.

And appreciate each and every Father’s Day you’re blessed to have with him.

Daddy, I still love you. And I still miss you.

Living in the Past

It only keeps you from your future. And isn’t that where you want to go?

Do you really want to stay in a time in which you know the end of the story? Because you can’t change the ending, you know. The past is already done. Gone. No changing anything.

Yes, there were lots of good times. And it’s sometimes easier to dwell on how great those good times were, rather than remembering the events leading up to the end, and the ending itself. And how awful it was. However, sometimes in our memories we change the ending so it’s not as bad as it really was.

In fact, sometimes in our minds we change the ending and make what happened someone else’s fault instead of our own. Or we wrongly blame ourselves for something someone else did to us. That way, we can continue to live in the past, in our own mind, and change that unhappy ending to something that makes us feel better.

But that ending only exists in your own mind, while everyone else around you is living in reality…in the actual here and now. You’re just not living there with them. You’re living in your own reality, but no one else is living there with you. So you’re even more alone.

Living in the past is like living with a ball and chain around your leg. It prevents you from moving on, from going anywhere new.

It keeps you from moving into tomorrow; into your future. Sure, you want to go there, you really do. But that piece of the past you’re still dwelling in just won’t let you. Like someone with that short length of chain attached to that huge heavy ball around their ankle, you can only go so far. And no farther.

Until you decide to free yourself from the past..to let it go and not go back to visit…you’re not going to move into your future. And you know that’s where you want to go…where you NEED to go. Because staying mired in the past won’t accomplish anything but making you miserable. You’ll watch everyone else moving into their future, and you’re still left behind. Where it’s definitely no fun!

So try it. Be adventurous. Stop dwelling on what happened in the past; on what you could’ve done differently. Stop thinking about what’s gone and won’t be again.

Instead, look at what’s ahead. There’s a brand new adventure coming. No, you don’t know what it’s going to be, but it’s going to be so much better than where you are now. All you have to do is put the past behind you once and for all. Don’t think about it. Don’t talk about it. Don’t do the “what if…” Don’t look backwards, because that’s not where you’re supposed to be going.

Because if you do, you’re not going to ever get rid of that ball and chain. And you won’t be able to go into your future.