Solitude.

The Solitude…

When I hear this word, I first see myself standing on a mountain, being swallowed up by the multi-colored sunset sky, waiting for the darkness to approach me. I have no fear, no pain; I await the dark with open arms. Because I know that when the darkness comes so does the glimmering stars. They awaken the sky; causing the darkness to dance through and behind the stars. It’s strange because this is my first thought but then other images come…

Next, I am sitting in a filled room; all the bodies around me are of people I know. However, they don’t acknowledge me; I am just a form taking up space they wish to fill with someone else. I stay sitting waiting to be noticed. Chaos surrounds me and continues to move without intertwining with me. It’s like there is a force field separating me from them. I am alone in this crowded place, and if someone were to notice me they would see tears spilling down my face. This image has pain and fear; I am in solitude and nothing will change…

Then I see myself here…After a long stressful day, I come home to my loveable but loud family. My nephews are screaming with glee when they see me. My brothers want to discuss their most recent logical problems. My eldest sister is singing and dancing in the kitchen to the new song that dwells in her brain (she will be singing it for a couple more weeks). With all this going on, I wish to just travel through the household and bury myself into my bed.  I feel guilty for wanting to block out my family. Silence seems unattainable. Which in any other situation, I would feel comforted and loved but after that long hard day I want to be in complete solitude….

But no matter how I feel in these moments, I know I am never alone and I won’t ever be alone. Solitude: loneliness, privacy, isolation, seclusion, lonesomeness…are just some synonyms. I might feel loneliness sometimes, but I am never truly alone. Privacy is luxurious but also singular; I might know it but I rarely have it. So when I do attain a small shred of privacy I can cherish it for the small window of time I have. Isolation is to be alone without contact. I have a family which loves me and I get to see them every day; I am blessed because of this. Seclusion is alone and quiet. If I am in dead silence too long, I go stir crazy. Hearing the small giggles and voices steal themselves into my room brings comfort to my soul; I am not alone. Yes, in some instances of my life I feel lonesomeness…but even without my family, friends, colleagues, neighbors, students, etc. God is with me. He is in that sunset sky, His presence is beside my in the crowded room, and His love flows through my heart as I enter the loud loving house. He has me and I have Him. Until the day I die I am blessed.

Solitude…It’s not good or bad, it’s just what you see it as…

Solitude

Proud.

This year of coaching has been the best so far. I have enjoyed my other years but this year I have felt complete and ready for anything. Except today is our first day of our last invitational this season, and once again I have butterflies in my stomach. I’m guess I am still always going to be nervous/excited for them. But also I guess it’s about me…because if they do well than I did my job right, but they don’t then what did I do wrong. But I think I will not feel that way today, because I believe in them. 

My go to thing to say is, “I am so proud of my swimmers!” I understand that this is bland to many people. But I have trouble expressing my feelings to others. In my mind this statement does not express my pride in them, but maybe if I say it enough I will someday feel complete. No matter how they do today…

I am truly one proud coach, and I have been blessed with my swimmers this year. I could not have asked for a better group of kids.

Wish us luck!
The photo is of part of the team, they are not all there but the photo expresses the future.

Battles of life.

Across the street in front of a store window you see a family gathered around a gleeful child. The child beams with excitement and wonder. The family is close nit and welcoming; you wish you could intertwine into their love because that is all you seek. Instead, you continue down the other side of the street; which seems clouded and musky with a hushed noise engulfing you up. No lights or laughter is along your walk. Only a gradual darkness on this lifeless street.

Years pass and again you walk along that lifeless street; however, this time you are next to your partner. You love them deeply and your walk now has a glow of happiness surrounding your essence. You walk hand in hand down the pavement path, but they stop suddenly causing you to run into their shoulder. Their eyes stare to the left, you follow their gaze to a beautiful human in front of that store. This new human radiates warmth and love. The person stands so tall and proud glancing at all the wonders in the store. Your partner stands there a second to long and you know your love is fake. Their heart is still searching, where as yours was complete and satisfied. Your partner pulls away from you and leaves you there on this side of the street. Without a word of goodbye your partner greets the radiant person as if its love at first sight. You stand there on the now dark path depressed to the core, “Why is life so unfair?” and you continue back down the lonely path and are submerged in the darkness.

Time passed and you have given up on life. You walk this hard paved path and you don’t care what crosses you. Nothing surprises you anymore; you are just not one of the fortunate souls in life. This side of the street has grown more unwelcoming. You can only see a footstep space in front of you. You’ve given up trying to lead a fake life knowing that somehow it will be taken from you. You continue stumbling toward the end of the block to the full submission of darkness; this time not stopping to look over at the side of the street you can never be a part of. You journey on, eyes cast downward, wanting to stop all movement and be done. Darkness…

Life isn’t perfect but its not in total gloom either. You still have no one, but you walk now head high and curious about what will come your way. You are not expecting much from day to day life, but you are optimistic that one day might be better than another. The side of the street you walk on is now slightly brighter. You can walk freely without fearing of tripping over an obstacle. You stop in the spot that has many a day changed your fate. You turn and look towards the side of wonder. In front the store stands a couple and child. The child beams with excitement and the couple are radiant in the light. The family exudes love and you cave and wish that for yourself. You forget your previous mindset and dream of a better life you desire. You turn and continue down the hard pavement path pondering on how you can have what they have.

“Why bother, nothing ever happens for me,” a new day has come and you walk head hanging low. Tears pour down your face. You pour your heart into person after person and they never love you back. You falter every step as you continue down this path. “No one will love me,” and you walk into the shady darkness…

“Life…” you say as you step onto the ground which hasn’t changed. “It’s my own life and I can do with it as I see fit.” You decide that moment on you don’t need anyone, instead just live your life for you. If things happen they happen, but if they don’t you at least love yourself. Every life has love; others might have more, but all lives have love. Walking along the path you follow everyday you pause in the space…You turn your body to align with the spot in front of the window. No people are standing there that spot is vacant.There are lights shimmering and couples and children giggling. “Is this real?”

Standing there alone searching across the street to a bright vibrant side, you step towards it. Your foot falls onto the asphalt ground. It’s firm and will hold you. You continue each step towards a brighter life uncertain if it will be striped away from you. Walking across the street you think back over your life. How you could have changed you life if you had been brave enough to live it alone. Realizing, you had been alone all these years, and you could have been living them alone in a world of light and laughter. Last step…

You are here. The window of dreams and light. You peer inside and you see what all had seen before you. SNAP! A light engulfs you. As your vision comes back, you see your own image in front of you. You are a small human standing wide eyed and dreamily into this gleaming world. You look radiant against the dark shadows behind you. The picture is proof that you live. Life is about living it. You live in the bright and darkness of the world. To say you only live in the bright happy one is fake, and to say you are doomed to live in the darkened one forever is fake. Life is living between the two. Constantly battling and struggling to stay in the middle.

Looking up and down this brightened street, everyone is too happy, faking their emotions. You don’t feel comfortable here, because this is not life either. You turn back towards the darkened side. You walk to the center of the asphalt road…This is life; where the shadows mix with the light creating the perfect balance. A path suited for living.

As life goes on, you stumble and falter between the happy and sad sides of life, but you always stop, gather yourself up, and return to the center.

Live life. Live it for yourself. Take the battles on. Follow the path designed for you. Love.

Fake

Store All You Love.

“One pillow. One blanket. One pajama shirt. One Pajama pant.” placing each item inside as I mentally check off my list.

“Honey, what are you doing?” Mom called from the room across the hall.

“I’m packing mommy! You will be so proud of my accomplishments when I finish!” my voice creeping louder as my words continue on. Probably due to my face being stretched wide to fit my prideful smile.

“You don’t need to worry about that dear. I was going to pack your things.” Her voice travels past my room and into the bathroom. “Packing can be very difficult due to limited space; if you do not do it in the right order.”

Hearing her collect objects reminds me I need my batman toothbrush and bubble gum toothpaste. My mother’s body passes by my room again and back into her own. I go collect my bathroom necessities. I add a roll of toilet paper to my case, because daddy always says, “You can never have enough of this lifesaver.” So I’ll pack it for him.

Thinking to myself, “What did Mommy mean about order…my order is working just fine.” So I place the toothpaste and brush on top of my pajamas and the toilet paper too.”Now where was I on my list?” drilling through my brain for that mental list….”Right…underwear!”

“Honey, are you going to say bye to your friends. We won’t be back for about 3 weeks. That can seem like a lifetime in kid years.”

“I did yesterday. I explained to them that it is not for forever. They said they would come say good bye before we leave” my friends are awesome, as I place the three pairs of each superhero & barbie underwear on top of the bathroom stuff.

I can’t believe Mommy gave me this tiny little suitcase to fill up with my most loved things. My new mental list has too much on it and it would have been impossible for me to fit it all inside so I did what Mommy keeps telling me…”Use that creative brain you have and solve problems.” Which is what I did. Making it possible for me to place my teddy bear: Mr. Pinky, coloring book and crayons, Lego, my three favorite books, a package of gram-crackers just in case I get hungry, and my tiny diary which holds my deepest secrets. Mommy told me to always keep my most loved items close to me…Feeling accomplished I close the lid and zip it shut.

I lay on my bed exhausted from my morning…

“Okay honey I am ready…” Mommy stops mid sentence as she enters my room.

I sit up expecting her match my same huge smile, but instead I see fear and contained anger. “Oh no…” I think to myself, ” Mommy’s mad again. “Mommy?”

Her face changes several times until she changes back into my beautiful mommy. “Honey I thought I told you I would pack.”

“I know, but I wanted to help you because you are the best mommy ever and I wanted to give you a break.” I run to her and squeeze her as her knees dig into my chest. I pull her towards my creation.

She stops before the suitcase, “what did you do?” Is all she can muster as she stares at the suitcase.

“Well you always tell me to use my brain before anything else, and I knew before I started packing that what I wanted to pack wouldn’t fit so I tore the bottom of the suitcase off,” which actually took a lot of work, “and taped a sheet to the bottom,” I used that tape that Daddy always uses when something breaks that he doesn’t have time to fix at the moment. That strong stuff; which is tough to rip off the roll. “Its kind of like the Mary Poppins bag, Mommy!”
She stands staring at that suitcase. She moves towards it and  lifts the handle. She pulls it off the bed slowly.

I am crossing my fingers hoping that my Mary Poppins bag stays strong. It should because I used the entire roll of that strong Daddy tape. I watch as she begins to lift the case and sheet extension off the ground and…

“It held!” I squeal with excitement. I stand a bit taller proud of my invention.

Mommy places the case back on the floor, and plops on the bed. She opens her arms and I climb inside my castle of warmth and love. Footsteps sounds wander through the house and Daddy’s head pops into view. His face changes just like mommy’s did: from confused to angry to calm again. He sits down right besides us and hugs my Mommy and rubs my back.

“So it seems that our dreamer packed her own things this time.” Daddy says as he messes my hair and smiles a proud smile for me.

“She did. She did it for me. She wanted me to have a break.” Mommy says to him with a sweet smile.

“Did you fit everything in your case?” Daddy stands and lifts the handle and the case and sheet follow. “Oh…” his face changes to confused again…

I caught the smallest of look that Daddy gave Mommy. He looked to her ever so quickly that I almost missed her caring eyes saying something to him. It’s probably and old person thing that I won’t understand for a long time.

Daddy sets the case back down and sits back upon my bed. “So my creative genius used her brilliant mind again!”

“Yeah Daddy, I did.” My smile returning to my face. “Mommy told me to pack the most important things to me, and I knew what I wanted to pack wouldn’t fit in this case so I need it to be bigger.”

“Did you pack everything you need?” He asks as he squeezes the breath out of me.

“Yeah! After I change my first plan of packing; everything fits perfectly.” I squeeze him right back.

“Ellie! We are outside!!” voices flood through my window from outside.

“Can I?” I jump up and stop at the door.

“Go ahead.” They say together.

_12 years later_

“What’s this?” As I pull it out from the back of my closet.

“Oh wow! I haven’t seen that for years.” Mom says as she sits on my bed holding the object. “This was your suitcase when you were 6. We went on that vacation, and you decided to pack all your stuff yourself.”

Drilling into my brain trying to find that memory…”Right, My Mary Poppins bag! I  extended it with a sheet to fit my most loved things inside.” I sit holding that suit case/sheet. “Its smaller than I remember. I would have never fit my original plan,” placing that memory on the bedside table.

“What was your original plan? It always made me wonder. But you were so young I didn’t know if you would remember.”

Smiling to myself as I sat down beside my mother. This time I embrace her in a loving hold. “I wanted to pack you and Dad. In my mind I needed a case big enough for you both to be comfortable for the trip; so that’s why I extend the case.”

“I never expected that. Your father would be so happy to know this if he were here.” Her small body falling into my own arms and remembering Dad in this moment I rub her back.

“But then I remembered I needed you to travel with me, and since the case was already extended I filled it with other things I loved.” Remembering opening that bag once we got to where we were going…everything sticking to each other because the toothpaste exploded; the toilet paper winding around everything; the gram-crackers powdered over everything. My poor mother…

“Oh…I’m sorry Mom for ruining your suitcase. I just realized I ruined it for any future use.”

“Oh, its fine dear. The thing is, I gave you that case because my mother gave it to me. She said it had been used as several different things before becoming a case; through our generations it has be changed into whatever someone needed. This is a traveling invention in our family. You are part of its history because do you know why…”

Remembering Dad…”A creative genius with a brilliant brain…” taking up that case again, and embracing it along with Mom.

“Yes, my creative inventor.”

Suitcase