Me in the Middle Turns One Year Old (#FlashBack)

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What a difference a year makes!  

My One-Year Anniversary badge from WordPress got me thinking about what inspired me to start blogging in the first place and what I’ve gained from this whole experience.

Me in the Middle was the beginning of my sharing my life story with family and a way for me to write about things I needed to let go of so that I could move forward in my life.  It was my hope that through sharing my journey I might encourage others and pass on lessons learned.  It turns out that, in one year’s time, I’ve been able to do that and so much more.

At first I found other bloggers who met that need for support through experiences of abuse, trauma and PTSD .  Bloggers who encouraged and supported each other in a positive way.  Then my enthusiasm for blogging grew and I began to open up my focus to many different topics and directions.  The WordPress Team and Community inspired me and helped me with any questions I had.  Soon I was connected to a wonderful group of blogger friends that have moved me well beyond the need that had initially brought me here last year.  I found that ‘Letting Go’ is an on-going process of being mindful of when we’re allowing our thoughts and emotions from flashbacks of the past to disrupt the wonderful experiences of the present.

One of the major influences in making this transition was the A to Z Challenge 2016.  I used it as a way to bring together all the lessons learned through my life.  It was a real purging and letting go of the past.  So, what a difference a year makes!

one-year-old

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When I first created my website I posted an Invitation to Guest Bloggers.  I wanted to open the door for others to share in their surviving and thriving stories.  I re-posted the invitation again in May and the response was wonderful!  Take a look ~ Here ~.   I’d love to hear your Me in the Middle story.  

So, for FlashBack Friday I decided to post one of my first post at the very beginning that started me off through this great year of blogging.  Thanks to everyone for being a part of it!

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It’s FlashBack Friday~ A time of the month where you can republish an old post of your that maybe didn’t get enough attention, or that you’re really proud of, or you think is still relevant etc.  This Blog-Go-Round is hosted by MICHAEL G D’AGOSTINO from A LIFE EXAMINED–That’s where you’ll find the rest of the participants or to join up yourself.

The post I’ve chosen for this month first appeared on ME IN THE MIDDLE on September 27th, 2015.  To see the original comments to that post you can click on the title below to be taken to the original post. 

I chose this post because it was one year ago that I created my WordPress Website and this post is one of the first I published.  I believe it’s relevant because it shows where I was back then in September 2015 at the very beginning of my blogging experience and just how much blogging has helped me to let go and move on in life.

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Me in the Middle of Learning to Stand on My Own

I found Two Poems I’d written ~ in those first years ~ when I was coming to terms with the reality that the person who I thought was there for me was never really there.  I was learning to stand on my own and to find ways to push through all the walls that were coming down.  I was learning to believe in the possibilities that might be opening up for me.  It took every ounce of creative effort and courage that I could muster.  Writing poems during those first years was a way of finding expression for what I wasn’t able to make sense of while I was experiencing it.  When I reread them from a different place, a more improved view, I saw how important these exercises were.  They were stepping stones to carry me through that time to a new and better place in my life.  A life that keeps moving forward with Hope while wrestling with Life’s paradoxes.

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Divorce

Not sought after ~ this divorce
Thrust upon me as last resort
Insanity running its full course
Destroying trust and mutual support.

Sacrament now turned nightmare
Unraveling years of hopes and dreams
Document once sealed our covenant
Now document seals our parting means.

Final period closing painful sentence
Marking wreckage left behind
Will one day find me free of malevolence
Allowing forgiveness and peace of mind?

© Mary Lou

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Choose Life

Currents of humor and understanding
Toward the human condition
Life’s path created by paradoxes of life
Challenging past held beliefs
Toward unique revelation
Sun shines on evil as well as good.

Forms of life-force and truth
Point toward responsible kinship
Belief in goodness and care for humanity
Moves me out of my own poverty
Toward unique evolution
Choose Life ~ that my future may live!

Poems andSketches © Mary Lou

Me in the Middle of Summer Reading

 

i-will-not-die-an-unlived-life-col

First Book

This poem moved me so deeply that I followed up with a Google search and found that Dawna Markova had written a  book by the same title.  “Why are we here?” is the question she asks both herself and the reader of this wonderful book ~ I WILL NOT DIE AN UNLIVED LIFE ~.  It’s written while Dawna is on a retreat to solitude in a cabin far away from the hectic pace of modern life.  Her story travels along different paths than mine has and that’s the whole point of her book.  We’re here to follow our own passion and dreams.

“Anyone on a spiritual quest, seeking to discover their own deep wisdom, and uncover their “calling” will be enriched and energized in a powerful and gentle way……”

(Forward)

“Like the rest of the natural world, human beings go through seasons.  At one point, we are in the full bloom of summer, harvesting, committed, in abundance.  Then, naturally there is an autumnal time of falling away, disillusionment, stagnation, a shedding of what has been used up.  Then must come the fallowness and dormancy of winter, death, rest.  Eventually, as is happening right outside the window of this cabin, there is a great melting into muck and mud, which, if one can persevere, opens naturally into an abundant yellow-green time, when everything is possible and horizons open.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

“In a similar way to A Gift from the Sea, the readers of this book (I Will Not Live An Unlived Life) are invited to accompany me on a journey to come to know more intimately the value and purpose of their lives.”

~ Dawna Markova ~

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Men, Women and Happiness Cropped (2)

Ink Sketch and Watercolor by Mary Lou Q

Second Book

Gift from the Sea #3

Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s bookGIFT FROM THE SEA ~ was shared with me by my mother back in the 90’s.  I packed myself a lunch and took a ride to the beach, setting up my chair in front of the ocean.  It was a restful day that I needed badly and I hoped to find nuggets of wisdom and truth from this book.  At the time it was difficult for me to concentrate on it.  I kept thinking ‘How can this wealthy woman whose life is so different than mine even relate to what I’m experiencing?’  It’s only been down through the years and coming across Anne’s various quotes from her book that I’ve decided to read it again.  Dawna Markova read it to inspire her book ‘I Will Not Live An Unlived Life’ and I decided to read them both this summer.

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The Introduction to the Fiftieth Anniversary Edition of Gift from the Sea (2005)  is written by Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s daughter, Reeve Lindbergh:

“I read Gift from the Sea at all Seasons of the Year and of my life.  I never once had the sense that my mother’s 1955 book has lost its freshness, or that the wisdom contained within its pages has ceased to apply, whether to my own life or to what I’ve learned , overtime, about hers.”

“Above all, I think, Gift from the Sea offers its readers an unusual kind of freedom.  It is hard to recognize, or even to describe, but I think this freedom is the real reason this book continues to be so well loved and so well read after all these years.  I am talking about the freedom that comes from choosing to remain open, as my mother did, to life itself, whatever it may bring:  Joys, sorrows, triumphs, failures, suffering, comfort and, certainly, always, change.”

Thanks, Mom!  I get it!  

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A Gift from the Sea

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Third Book

Francis Friendship

Francis Mandewah is one of my Guest Bloggers

Me in the Middle introducing Guest Blogger ~ Francis

I was so inspired by what Francis wrote in his guest blog that I bought his book on Amazon Kindle and I’ve just begun reading it.  His story begins with his life as a 15 year old young man in the African country of Sierra Leone and in the heart of the African diamond zone.  His story too is a spiritual journey of trust in goodness in the world in spite of the hardships and realities that might come along.  It’s his trust in this goodness that makes it possible for Francis to be fully present when God opens a door in his life that leads him to the path of his dreams.

“As I chronicled my trials and tribulations I discovered my voice in between the lines of my story ~ a voice that was filled with faith.”

~ Francis Mandewah ~

“I suppose this dream has been the script for my life, because even as I sit, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, I always feel a tinge of uncertainty, as if I’m eternally looking for a flight itinerary. I have lived a life filled with the adventure of being ushered onto stage and the turmoil of being blindfolded and locked in a cage. Through my travels, my willingness to walk to and through the door, I discovered within myself a will to not just survive, but to thrive, no matter the circumstance.”

Blood Diamond ~ Sierra Leone

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream.  Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships.  “

 

Me in the Middle Introducing Guest Blogger ~ Francis

Francis Friendship

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American Flag, Textured, Rough, Harsh

“There are people who are kind, and people who are not kind, among all races and cultures. It was a White man who gave me opportunity so I could realize the American dream.  Our friendship transcended race, and built a positive connection between the races. We can overcome racism through friendship and positive cross-cultural relationships.  “

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I am a lawful immigrant in the United States and on this eve of July 4th 2016, I wish to express my sincere appreciation for being in this country, and my heartfelt gratitude to the white American man (Tom Johnson) who came to my country – Sierra Leone – and befriended me, and who rescued me from bondage and slavery and gave me that opportunity that paved the way for me to arrive and settle at my dreamed destination– — America.

I was inspired to write my new memoir book titled Friendship: A Story of Adventure, Goodwill and Endurance because of the miracles that God has continued to perform in my life since when I was a 15-year- old boy in Sierra Leone. Continue reading

Me in the Middle introducing Guest Blogger ~ Amelia

Letting Go

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“…….. the friend who helped me move a little bit closer to being more than all right.”

A few years ago, I bumped into Simon, who was the ex-boyfriend of my ex-roommate, Felicia, from college. I was caught by surprise and realized belatedly that I was quite unprepared for this accidental meeting. Then again, we generally don’t prepare for accidents, do we?

I reached the top of the stairs, turned the corner and came face-to-face with this person from my distant past. I did a double-take. A first for me, I think. So did he. Then he called out my name as I called out his. I was the first to speak. “Wow, Simon, is it really you?” Simon motioned to the bench against the wall, took my arm and sat us down. Then we just stared at each other. I was dazed. And speechless. This was so unlike me.

“How are you?” We both blurted at the same time. I laughed, “You first.”

“I’m fine. Busy, but fine. I haven’t stopped working since Chinese New Year. And you? I haven’t seen you for years.”

“I’m fine and busy too. I think it’s been almost 6 or 7 years? Could be more? I can’t remember. Anyway, the last I heard, you were on your way to New York?”

“Don’t know where you got that information but I think you mean that my girlfriend was on her way to New York. Not me.”

“Ahhh…my information got mixed up then. Oh, do you still paint?”

“Paint? Nope. Long story there but yeah, I don’t paint anymore, I do art direction now.”

I asked Simon what that entailed and he started explaining. As he did this, I looked at him and remembered one of the last times I ever saw him. We were sitting together, like we were now, on a couch in Alfred’s house. It was Christmas and I didn’t know it then, but it was going to be one of the most significant and startling moments in my life. And Simon, this not-quite-a-friend, was there every step of the way.

CLINK! CLINK! CLINK!

“What’s that sound?” I looked around, trying to pinpoint the source.

“I think it’s coming from inside your glass…” Simon told me.

“From my glass? It’s just the ice,” I replied.

CLINK! CLINK! CLINK!

“Look, there’s something inside the ice…” he insisted.

“No! There isn’t!” I swatted his arm.

“I’m serious, look! It’s shiny!” Simon elbowed me with his knobbly elbows. Later, I was going to complain to Felicia that her boyfriend manhandled me.

I gave in to his insistence and tipped the glass that Aaron, who was my significant other then, had given me, so that Simon and I could peer into it. I couldn’t see anything at first. Just that one ice cube. Then I saw it, silver, not a complete band but the kind that had a gap so that you could adjust it for small fingers like mine. I almost swallowed a ring! I fished it out and stared at it encased in ice. Simon was staring at it too. I looked up, and saw an audience had gathered around us and they were all looking at me with knowing smiles on their faces. Aaron was leaning against the doorway to the kitchen and he said with what sounded like relief in his voice, “Finally, thought you were going to swallow it and all my efforts would have gone to waste. Why don’t you put it on?”

“So, how is everyone?” Simon was asking me a question. I came back to myself and decided to delay answering and replied instead with a question too. “Who do you mean by everyone?” Classic evasion tactic.

“Oh, now I have to define everyone?” he asked, curious.

“Yup, things are like that now.” That should give him a hint.

“Well, what are May Leen and Felicia up to now?” I could see that he thought that this would be an easy question for me and that I’d ramble on and on about our antics together. We were after all, nearly inseparable years ago.

“Sorry, I don’t know. I’m no longer in touch with them, it’s been several years.”

I saw Shock creep into his eyes. I had seen it so many times before when I get asked this question that I’d become immune to it already. Sometimes, I wonder if May Leen and Felicia are tired of answering it too and of seeing the Shock displayed in other people’s faces. On the other hand, maybe not. Maybe they don’t get asked about me as much as I get asked about them.

“How come? What happened?” Yep, Simon couldn’t believe it. I gave my best imitation of a contented smile (I hoped) and repeated my stock answer, “We’d need to have a looong dinner for me to answer that.” Nothing like avoiding the question by making promises to answer it at the next meeting and then conveniently, accidentally on-purpose forget to answer it then as well.

“Oh, it’s like that. Ok. So, what about Aaron? How are you guys?” I expected this question too. Inevitable. I took a deep breath and said in the breeziest, couldn’t-care-less tone I could muster, “You know what? I really don’t know, I’m afraid we’ve lost touch too.”

That really got him. He must’ve thought that after the first question, this would’ve been a no-brainer as well. Great. I’ve managed to shock the most laid back guy I know. He was aghast. I think this is the first time I’d seen him aghast and I felt really bad to be the one to put that expression on his face.

“Huh???!!! What HAPPENED?” I could hear the capital letters in his question. He was getting up close to me in his disbelief. But I definitely wasn’t getting into the mechanics of it now so I said, “I’m afraid that will also take a looong dinner to answer. Or maybe 5 loooong dinners.”

“Wow, it’s been a long time yeah?” More of an observation regarding how much had changed than a question requiring an answer. So, I left it between us, unanswered.

After that uncomfortable line of questioning, we spent the next few minutes filling in one another on the last couple of years. I found out that he’d gone mainstream, he was no longer the long-haired, devil-may-care, anti-establishment painter/sculptor I was introduced to 10 years ago. Now, he talks about being commercial and how that will get his message across. When I prodded him about why he’d put aside his paintbrushes, he enigmatically replied, “That will also take another loooong dinner.” I looked into his eyes, and knew that somehow THAT story would include what transpired between him and Felicia.

After most of the stories that didn’t require a separate long dinner had been exchanged, we got up from the bench we were hogging and began to say our goodbyes, promising to meet when his project commitments were completed. At that point, I wondered if I was really serious about getting together with him and exchanging the tales that we had promised to exchange? I didn’t know. Simon was quite intricately woven into so many significant moments of my past. He was also a connection to some of the people that I used to care a lot about, and seeing and chatting with him that day, left me with feelings of melancholy and confusion.

Perhaps this accidental meeting was my closure and that I didn’t need to meet him again to rehash what was and what will always be the not-so-great past. Perhaps sitting there on a bench outside IKEA, talking with someone who knew me from the past was enough to leave the past right where it’s supposed to be.

I stood there seeing him walk away and I also felt a sense of calmness. I knew he wasn’t going to call me about having dinner like he said he would and I knew I wasn’t going to call him to remind him about it. And you know what? I was perfectly okay with that. Ultimately, Simon, the friend who wasn’t quite a friend, was the friend who helped me move a little bit closer to being more than all right.

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This post is a part of the series Me in the Middle Invites Guest Bloggers.  It’s an honor to feature Amelia’s writing.  I encourage you to visit her Blog at Words from Sonobe.

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~ For guidelines on submitting your inspiring story please go Here ~

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