Archive | May, 2011

Safe in the arms of….my neighbor’s crawl space?

29 May

 Waking up this morning, well, every morning since the storms that were forecasted to be the most dangerous seen in the last 15 years, I’ve felt such a sense of gratitude. I have to share it with you.

Tuesday night all the  news could talk about was the severe weather we were supposed to get the following day. The tragedy in Joplin had occurred, and I was hoping that everyone was taking the warnings seriously.  A month ago the enormous oak tree that could have obliterated my house was ripped out of my back yard. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt such helplessness.

So with the storms expected to begin rolling through on Wed afternoon, I had planned on coming home a little earlier than usual.  I got home around 5pm and started preparing the best way I knew how.

I have a crawl space in my garage, and while I had previously hunkered down in the bathtub of a small interior bathroom when the storm sirens would shreak their way to my home, I decided that as bad as they were describing these storms could be, and the possible tornadoes that could rip through, I needed to  be safer.

I swept the cobwebs away from the crawl space cover and around the outer edges. Lying a blanket down and getting inside to ensure that I could fit, I also drug a radio inside and put my flashlight and water in the corner. Racking my brain for other things I might need, I felt pretty good about my decision to get the “shelter” ready.

As I answered emails on my laptop, watching the updated weather forecasts, the time of arrival was announced and descriptions of the destruction in the wake of the wall of storms had me feeling very antsy. My doorbell rang and I flew off the couch!

My neighbor, whom I had never met but saw in his yard often, was at the door.

“Hi. I’m Kenny. We’ve got our crawl space all ready to go, and the storms are supposed to hit us soon. You should come over and we can go through this together. My daughter’s coming home early from work, and we’re all just waiting over there. C’mon over. You can have a Coke.” 

He could not have missed the progressive relaxation of every muscle of my body. Had I been attached to an EKG alarms would likely have sounded with the huge change that occurred in the speed of my heart rhythms.

I held back tears and screeched out a “thank you. That’s very kind of you.”

Now, those of you who know me well understand my reluctance to “burden” others. This is what I felt immediately. Then I felt a bit strange, like I should be able to take care of myself. Then I went through this odd, uncomfortable, vulnerable, weak, why-can’t-you-hold-yourself-together moment. Then I couldn’t believe I had let a year pass since I had bought this house and had not even walked across the street to meet the neighbors. Then I packed my laptop in my computer bag, grabbed some water, shoved a flashlight and batteries in my purse, excavated my brain as best I could to unearth if there was ANYTHING else I’d need immediately should my home be ripped off its foundation…..and I made my way across the street.

Kenny’s wife met me halfway down the driveway and enveloped me in a warm, nurturing hug. “Come on in, sweetie. This is scary. I’m glad you came over.”

Tears.

Again.

And somehow I squeaked out of my swollen throat, “Thank you.”

Inside they had the television tuned to the local channel broadcasting the weather. I met the youngest son, the one who I always saw outside mowing their law, washing the cars, and so many times had thought, “Wow, what a responsible kid” about. He didn’t disappoint me with his polite, easy-going, friendly demeanor.  I met both daughters, one who had just graduated from college and another who was eagerly texting away on her cell phone but was inviting and gave me a big smile. I was given a tour of their home, offered food, and I sat on the couch before we decided it was time to make our way to the crawl space reeling in what I felt like was the Twilight Zone.

Was I really here, among this family, unrelated but feeling like I’d just come home?

Six of us crawled and shimmied our ways in single file fashion to the back of the narrow space. In a line we sat, knees folded close to our bodies but relatively comfortably, waiting out the storm. We could hear the wind outside, the radio announcing the storm’s path. And we chatted about normal things….our new phones, my job, they were interested in what I do, the other neighbors, the guitar lessons I and the young boy were taking.

In the midst of what was destructive outside, I felt safe, connected, loved, and thankful on the inside.  Crammed in a tiny space with strangers, but not strangers. They had taken me in like I was family, and that is exactly how I felt with them.

As we heard the radio announcer state that the storm had passed, we moved back into the living room, our eyes on the tv to  be sure that there wouldn’t be another round. But two hours later I was still there, and we were laughing and carrying on. We were all wilting though from the excitement and anxiety of the evening, and I prepared to leave.

Again I was embraced and told to never hesitate to ask for anything I needed.

Why does it take something monumental….the possibility of death, destruction, fear…..to bring people together? 

No more, I thought. I’ve committed to reaching out. Being more generous. Smiling at those who I don’t know. Asking for help.

We have so much to offer each other, and it’s easy to get locked in the minutiae of our own lives, going through the motions, and not taking the time to recognize how truly important connection with others is.

What will you do today, tomorrow, this week to reach out? The love I felt in that crawl space is what I aim to create in my heart.

Snooze Button

24 May

I just got done with a high-intensity-interval-cardio-functional-mayhem-insane-crazy-butt-kicking-I-thought-I-might-die workout.

I know this is how my fitness class participants feel when they are done with what I put them through. 

In each class I get to witness someone moving past limits.  The brick walls they’d constructed before– gone. Smashed.

I got up this morning feeling heavy and sluggish. Sandpaper in my eyes.  I could have gone back to sleep.

I could have sat down for a leisurely, low intensity ride on the recumbent bike too.

But not a day in my life has gone by that I’ve pushed the snooze button. And I wasn’t about to languish in the slogging quick sand that could have sucked me under.

Many of you have asked me if I struggle….

“Do you ever fall apart, Kori?”

“Are there times when you’re just not at your best and can’t give 100%?!”

Of course I struggle! I’m human!

We’re not infallible. We falter, trip, bite the dust, crack our teeth, speak words that we can’t believe escaped our lips….

But while I’m not infallible, I choose not to be ignorant also. 

I may get sucked into the muck, but believe me when I say I’m scrambling to get out of it, knowing it’s the way I respond to the muck that will determine who I am, what I do, who I can be,  how I can be, when I’ll feel motivated, where I’m going, and why I am.

Those “I can’ts”, “I hopes”, “I’ve never”, “I’ve always”, “I shoulds”, “I’ll trys”….be honest with yourself. Are they going to propel you forward toward a place of fortitude, richness, substance, growth, and belief?

Time to move out of wishing and hoping you could be a different way into believing and acting like you are that way.

I got up, I threw on my training clothes, I had a quick meal, I brushed my teeth, and I looked in the mirror, saw my red eyes and said, “Get ready for a butt-kicker, Propst. Time to kick it into high gear.”

Your choice. You going to hit the snooze button of life?

Content Speaks; Process Breathes

18 May

Sometimes we can get so caught up in the content of something, we completely miss the process.

Ever notice how the worst of your arguments with friends, family members, or loved ones are often due to the words you’re taking personally?

In the heat of the moment you’re past the point of being able to see through the words and into what’s underneath them, but it’s exactly that which holds the key to understanding what is happening between the two of you.

On American Idol tonight Lauren missed the modulation.  She demonstrated exactly the opposite of what I’m addressing here! She was so caught up in the emotion of the song, something struck her so deeply while she was singing, that she lost her place. She missed the key change!  Hearing the music brought her back.

There is someone in my life who makes decisions based solely on how he is going to look and what he thinks people will believe about him. When questioned, he’ll give the answer he believes everyone wants to hear. His superficiality is ugly. I just want to peel through the layers of filth that have built up and expose fresh and vulnerable skin. Because I want to see and be around and experience that person, but also so he can too.  It’s the content that he cannot move past.  And it’s the process that will expose the “being” in the human.

No psychobabble here. It’s not complicated psychology. It’s what creates the ability for humans to establish real, genuine connection. How do you know your best friend is your best friend? What do you feel around this person?

Think this week about your process. Are you really listening? Digging and extracting the meaning? Not only of what others are conveying to you but of your own behavior. Are you honoring who they are?  Who you are?

Running as far and as fast as you can…

10 May

Ever notice that it’s when you’re trying as hard as you can to push something away…a feeling, a situation, a task…that you experience the most suffering?

Think about it. You’re in a relationship. You want to tell your partner something that’s been bothering you, but you’re scared of his/her reaction. So you put it off. Meanwhile it’s eating you up inside. You’re a ball of nerves. Your stomach’s irritated from anxiety. You’re touchy and irritable.

Procrastination is another great example. We push things further and further to the edge of our to-do lists and suddenly the task is staring us square in the face demanding our attention. No way out at this point lest we risk looking completely inept and irresponsible.

We shirked the duty initially because it likely felt overwhelming. Where do I start? What’s the first step? That overwhelming feeling is what we’re working to avoid.

See where I’m going with this though? It does take a bit of work and discomfort at the front end to ultimately find the peace we’ve wanted all along. It does take some effort to sit in the muck for a little bit of time in order to avoid prolonging the suffering. And it does take a level of awareness to recognize that we’re thinking in a manner that allows us to justify, if just for one more day, not taking responsibility for something we know we’d be better off doing.

Avoiding discomfort causes more discomfort. It compounds.

What are you avoiding facing right now? What’s the first step in looking it right between the eyes and sitting with it?

You are in my thoughts and oysters…

1 May

Driving home just yesterday from what was an unusually  pleasant morning of grocery shopping, I listened to the DJ on the radio as he shared an experience some friends of his had recently been through.

He was concerned for their welfare and they’d obviously gone through a transition in their lives which left them feeling disjointed and a bit out of control.  Feeling desperate to express his love for them,  he sent a text message. In it he wrote, “you are in my thoughts and prayers”, and sent it.

Not but a few minutes later he received a reply…nothing but a “?”. Perplexed, he scrolled up to view his original message, and it said, “YOU ARE IN MY THOUGHTS AND OYSTERS.”

Had anyone  been sitting next to me at a stop light, they’d have heard a snorty, bellowing laugh come out of me. The DJ explained that his phone had done the quick little word correction without his noticing!

I’m sure we can all relate!  Think about it though– how often does this happen in life! Quick little things happen that appear to be off the radar….things don’t go as planned…

Something serious had happened and this guy was attempting to respond seriously only to have his message convey anything but!

Not often enough do we share in the delight of the mundane silliness of life.  There is humor everywhere. Enjoying laughter does not mean at all that we are shirking off the serious issues of our lives or those of others. It means we are able to find value and beauty in the simple things. We can turn oysters into diamonds!

When you start to feel as if there’s just too much getting  you down, remember that you are in my thoughts and oysters.

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