Down here on the ocean floor


Buoyed by courage, we will rise.

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve written a blog. Life’s been rather tricky lately, making it hard to pinpoint what I’m for.

Brené Brown, one of my current inspirations, refers to my ‘rather tricky’ as a messy middle, the space where “You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.

Not seeing the light means it’s dark. I don’t love it here. I feel like I’m walking alone on the ocean floor. My ears are rendered deaf by the pressure, my eyes glued shut. Everything down here scares me. My heart races and my stomach twists. Breathing underwater is pretty tough as well.

When I described this feeling recently to an empathetic listener, she encouraged me to stop a minute and open my eyes. Look around. Take a really good look. Get perspective. Stare down those sharks. It’s the only way to gather your resources and figure out what you need to make your way up and toward the shore.

Easier said than done, but I’m trying. I’m afraid of this water and its dark mysteries. Yet, I know that opening my eyes is the only answer. If there’s light beckoning me to the surface, I’ve got to open my eyes to find it. Besides, I can’t hold my breath forever.

There is another light, too. Steady, pulsing beams of it coming from another source: people are sending it directly into this darkness. They encircle us. Their wide-open hearts shoot warm beams of hope into our abyss. Their loving hands extend, ready to carry us upward when we’ve learned what we need to learn down here. I feel the energy of all of this LOVE. I thank them ALL for the waves of good thoughts they offer. I’ve braced myself for judgement, but none comes. If there is any, it doesn’t reach me. It’s neutralized by the enormity of human kindness that winds its way through to steady my vulnerable heart. I will know evermore that Sylvia Rossetti was right – Genuine kindness is no ordinary act, but a rare gift of beauty.

I’m not here alone, so I won’t disrespect the people or the story with details. I do feel compelled to share that things are hard right now. I feel like it’s ok, because maybe things are hard for you, too. Maybe you’re in your own abyss. Maybe knowing that I am, too, will bring you comfort. 

We can hug it out on the other side. We’ll high-five each other for having the courage to open our eyes under water. Having shared the truth of our stories, maybe we can empower each other to feel a little stronger, a little braver and a little more courageous when the next ‘messy middle’ inevitably presents itself again. 

And together, buoyed by this courage, we will rise.

Act of kindness.

Screen Shot 2015-09-25 at 10.30.18 AM

Sometimes a gal gets thirsty. Thinking she simply needs a quick sip of water, she approaches a well. It’s dry. Hmmm. A little thirstier now, it’s on to the next well. Also dry. Alrighty then … at the next well, instead of water, up comes something that looks and tastes suspiciously like toxic goop. Not one to give up and kind of dying of thirst, she moves on to what looks like a well. It even offers water. Hallelujah! But wait … before she knows it, the well is telling her how dry it is and the dang thing turns around and drains her.

Huh. Where does a girl have to go to get a clean, sweet uncomplicated drink?

Life isn’t always like this for me or anyone, of course. But it certainly is sometimes. And when it is, here’s what I absolutely know is true: it feels really bad.

Bad enough that I try never to do it to others. I fail at this frequently, but since one of my core values is that I don’t want people to walk away from me feeling bad, unheard or unseen, I genuinely work at it heart-to-heart engagement when I interact with people on a personal basis. If I fail, I reflect on it and then I try harder next time.

While I’m always for reciprocity in relationship – as in I’ll meet your needs and it would be great if you could meet mine – sometimes life just doesn’t work that way. If people are like wells, I need to know which one to turn to and when. I need to learn to simply accept that, like me, people will succeed and fail in meeting the needs of others.

As that ancient storyteller Mr. Aesop once wrote, ‘No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.’ I don’t offer this as yet another trite, Tumblr-ized, platitude. I do believe that listening – really and truly listening – is one of the most exquisite acts of kindness we can extend to our fellow humans. Really listening, to me, means validating someone’s experience. It gives me the chance to know someone’s heart just a little bit. And when I am truly listened to and heard, it is one of life’s cleanest, sweetest and most uncomplicated drinks.

Who’s not for that?