Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It's Okay to be Grounded

You can do anything you set your mind to
The world is your oyster
All that's holding you back is yourself
Dream big and work will make it happen
There is no limit to what you can do if you just believe

I have seen many variations of the above lately, floating around the internet. Especially around Facebook. I get what they're trying to say--that if you have a dream and you work really hard, you will achieve anything you want. 

The problem with that is that such advice is misleading and untrue. Case in point:

The thing is, we want to believe we can do anything. We want to reach for the sky and grab hold of a star. We want to believe in elves and unicorns. However, the truth of it is that while we can follow our dreams, we never know what bumps and bruises we will get on the way, and what our paths will ultimately lead to. What if there's a giant troll in the middle of the path and you have to detour and get dragged behind a livid donkey through a swamp filled with leeches?

Following our dreams is often not as simple as it seems. Timing, who we know, life challenges, opportunity, being in the right place at the right time--all factor into our dreams along with the hard work. What God wants for our lives is one of the biggest factors, and when you include Him in your life as I do, not a whole lot goes according to your own plan. Which, though difficult at times, is fine with me, and I'll explain why in a moment.

You see, I am a writer. It's in my blood. There is a thrill writing gives me that nothing else does. I have a couple of finished manuscripts that need hours and hours of editing. I also am trying to regain my health, have lost a good deal of weight, got nationally certifed to be a group fitness instructor and also have been a Zumba instructor, and all of those things--while I felt very led to do them--have ended for now. I have big dreams. I want to do all of those things. Yet circumstances in my life have made both of these big dream trains derail. I am not sure yet how everything will turn out, but the other night I had a dream that taught me something.

I was in a little, shiny, red plane, an adorable convertible-like contraption that could take to the skies yet felt as safe as lying in my own bed. Candy cherry red, rounded design, very much like this:

I drove the plane around the streets of my fictional dream town, looking for the way to get out of the city limits so I could take off. (It was illegal to take off in the town anywhere.) I desperately wanted to press on the accelerator and feel the wheels leave the ground. The desire was nearly more than I could bear. I wanted nothing, nothing more than to rise in the air, absolutely fearless, and race the wind as I hurtled along free as the currents that bore me up.

The plane zipped along the roads as I struggled to keep my foot from pressing too hard. Once, I felt the wheels beginning to bump along, plane rising a bit, but I took my foot off the gas at the same time a police car drew alongside. He didn't pull me over, but I was even more careful not to go too fast as I searched for a road out. My blood raced, my pulse pounded; it took all I had to not just go for it--but the timing wasn't right. I knew I could hold on, stay on the ground until the moment I was in the clear, but not a moment more. 

It was hard. I wrestled and sweated as all the energy in my body yelled at me to do it, to just get up in the air, but I knew I couldn't or the consequences would be disastrous. So I held on. There was no other choice for me to make. If I gave in, I would get thrown in jail and/or have my license taken away, and I could not let that happen, no matter what.

I knew, beyond anything, that I could do what it took to endure until the moment I could fly. 

This dream was very comforting, as it helped me remember that I can endure this until I can fly. My dreams and passion (red plane) are mostly on hold right now (grounded), but I can still blog. I've written a bit of a couple of children's stories. I can put a different focus on my health in the meantime, even if I am not teaching classes. 

I can hang on until I am free to soar. And that's okay, and necessary. 

Submitting to what God wants for my life means that I need to trust in His timing. Easy? Not at all. Though I know that with His guidance, my life will be more than I ever dreamed it could be. I would much rather trust Him as my Pilot, rather than try to go it on my own. Even through the difficult times, I have that small voice in my mind that tells me it will be okay. The voice that says to just hang on until I get to the safe place to let that throttle out and take to the skies; the place where I will not only feel, but be, fearless. 

Eventually, I will fly and discover the place where all my wildest dreams will come true. Or at least the important, attainable ones. I have never cared for unicorns that much, though I would love to meet an elf.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

My Dream Haircut Stylist. Too Bad He's Two-Dimensional

My hair has been driving me crazy! I had it cut at the beginning of the year, and due to circumstances beyond my control, have not been able to get it cut since. All the layers are growing out, and I just feel more and more meh--kind of like the opposite of Samson. The more grown-out it gets, the weaker I feel. Silly, but true.
So, I have been fantasizing lately about taking a piece of broken mirror (or scissors or a knife) and hacking off my hair so I can look like this: 

Because all I need to look like this is the hair. Trust me.

Seriously, Rapunzel hit the jackpot in hair stylists. Not only does her man save her from a life of servitude to this:


The hair is my preciousssss, yessss!
But in that instant, in the throes of death, Flynn--excuse me, Eugene--gives Rapunzel this way stylish, fashionable haircut. And dye job. With a shard of mirror. MIRROR. That guy is both freakishly strong and accurate.


I think we all know what Eugene's new line of work became after he settled down from a life of thievery. Maidens showed up from every corner of the kingdom for a haircut just like the Lost Princess received.

A little lawnmowerish, but not bad for, oh, say, in the middle of dying.

As much as I am tempted to try the same thing with my own hair, I have refrained, lest I end up looking something like this:

If I wait long enough, I could possibly go with something like this:

I'll get back to you in a few years to let you know how it goes. (I am also hoping sticks don't get caught in it, dirt doesn't show when I am running through the forest, and hair that turns glowy and magical when I sing would be way cool.)

(Come to think of it, I did find a broken mirror behind my dresser when I moved it the other day . . . uh, I'll be back later.)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What do Lewis Carroll, Lentils, and Pumpkin Bread Have in Common? More Than You'd Think

For years I've nearly been convinced that Lewis Carroll wrote this . . .

. . .when he was high on, uh, clover. Or something. Apparently, a lot of people have the same opinion. Yet I believe I have stumbled upon another entirely sane, valid option he may have drawn from for that level of weirdness--and if I can tap into that power, I am sure to write the next bestselling work of fiction, or at least the strangest. 

In the dimness between when I am waking up or going to sleep, there is another world. A place where I venture into a land of limitless possibilities, a land where anything can happen. For example:

When I was eighteen years old, my family and I lived in the country for a few months. We rented an old, two-story fixer-upper. Perfectly charming house, and pretty solidly built. Yet when the good old Missouri spring winds took hold, you could hear the creaking of the house and wonder when you were going to blow away. I remember barely waking during one of those storms and at a subconscious level realized that the wind sounded rather tornadic.

Wouldn't you think that I'd have woken up fully, hopped out of bed, and made sure I, and everyone else sleeping upstairs, was safe?

That's what should have happened.

But, no. Instead, I dreamed that a tiny tornado came through and took out a long plank of wood in the floor next to my bed. Yep, my brain ranks staying asleep higher than something so trivial as, say, saving my life.

I haven't had too many of these occurrances throughout the years, but I had two this past week that are worth noting. One of these was last night. Now, mind you, before bed I had put a jar of lentil sprouts into a Ziploc to store in the fridge, and knew I was making lentil loaf for dinner tonight. That explained, I still found it disturbing when my four-year-old son came into my room wanting to snuggle with me at 4:30 am (until he realized he was awake because he had to go to the bathroom); I truly thought either he was made of lentils or had them on him. I kept trying to keep him and all the lentils from falling off the bed. Yes. I thought I had a lentil child. (They were dry and uncooked lentils, if you were wondering.) So weird.
But the most unnerving one of all happened last week. On that day, we'd had some friends over, and we made a pumpkin cake/bread with chocolate chunks. It was so good that we were picking crumbs off the plate hours later, after our friends had gone home.

Late that night, what I hoped was just a sinus infection manifested itself as a full-blown cold. Achy, stuffy, icky, yucky-feeling, I couldn't sleep. I didn't want to wake James, so at 2:00 am I grabbed my pillow, pulled my comforter off of the floor (where it stays much of the night in the summertime), and hauled it to the living room.

I read for about two hours before I was comfortable enough to pass out. At 4:15 am, I was lying on my side with the puffy blanket pulled up to my face. I turned off the lamp, breathed with my mouth open (thanks to my stuffy nose), and began drifting down, down, down into my cloud-like nest of comforter, finally resting peacefully.

In that twilight moment, when I had entered the world between, I felt something fall onto my chin, roll across it just under my open mouth, and onto my pillow.

Two parts of me went into action, simultaneously:

Dreaming Rebecca thought, How on earth did I have a crumb of pumpkin bread that big on my hair that it didn't fall off before now, and how did I not notice it? Man, I could eat that. My mouth even watered a bit at the suggestion.

Primal Rebecca didn't do any thinking-- I just knew something was on the pillow by my chin, and it needed to be picked up. Now. Tiny sensors somewhere in the back of my mind were faintly shouting, "Danger! Danger! Intruder alert! Cast the what-you-think-is-pumpkin-bread out of the immediate perimeter!"

So Primal Rebecca reaches up by my chin and picks up a lump of something big and soft.

Dreaming Rebecca thinks, Yay, pumpkin bread! I know it has chocolate chips, I probably should eat that. 

In the split second that Dreaming Rebecca had that thought, Primal Rebecca launched the pumpkin bread across the room in the direction of the dog.

The throwing motion caused me to wake up fully, and I froze, panicked. The following procession of thoughts happened quickly:

There was no way that was pumpkin bread. It wouldn't have stuck in my hair if it were that big. 

If that wasn't pumpkin bread, what is over there on the floor now? Was the thing I felt rolling down my chin actually RUNNING DOWN MY CHIN? Should I turn on the light?

It was big. And soft. IT HAD TO BE A SPIDER!


What if it was a brown recluse? What if it bit me and I didn't even feel it, and I wake up in the morning to my finger beginning the awful stages of necrosis? I wiped my fingers back and forth across the comforter, trying not to think about what had been between them, yet not wanting to go to the bathroom and wash them.

Should I get up and look? Do I WANT to get up and look?

I decided forgetting about nearly voluntarily EATING a SPIDER was more important than seeing what had actually been there. More important, even, than avoiding necrosis. So I tried to calm my racing heart and fall back to sleep, because not seeing anything meant I could pretend nothing happened. Not seeing the Pumpkin Bread Spider meant that it did not exist, and I did not nearly eat it. La, la, la, la, I can't hear you and all that.

I finally managed to fall asleep another half hour later.

So, if I could somehow harness that magical land of creativity between wakefulness and sleep, perhaps I could be a famous author like Lewis Carroll. It's something to look into anyway. After all, directing small tornadoes in their destruction, protecting lentil children, and turning spiders into pumpkin bread could be useful when writing fiction.

Much better than waking up with necrosis.

(Yes, I checked in the morning. Thoroughly. No necrosis this time, thank goodness. Also, aren't you glad I didn't find a picture of that? You're welcome.)