QUICKSAND

QUICKSAND 

She had crashed and burned, but somehow she didn’t die.

For a while she could only just sit there, and wonder why?

One day she had an epiphany, though, about that man.

He was like an ostrich with his head buried in quicksand.

So immersed he was in the days of his past

He couldn’t see that quicksand foundations just don’t last.

For her, she was born to soar above and yes, to fly!

She didn’t just want to hover, she wanted to fly high.

Would she, rising from the ashes of what was once love

Stay in that empty nest, or would she rise up above?

Would she be like that azure feathered blue bird,

And sing aloud the sweetest songs ever to be heard?

Would she be more like the little hummingbird

Whose faith knows impossible is nothing but a word?

Or would she be like the noblest bird, a majestic eagle,

Whose attributes can only be best described as simply regal?

No, she’d be no ostrich, bluebird, eagle or hummer,

For she longed to march to the beat of another drummer.

Her survival had left her with feathers like a peacock,

Beauty from the ashes, and strength as hard as a rock.

As she took flight, she saw him struggling, way down below,

And down, down, farther into the quicksand did he go.

He could not escape, though he had definitely tried 

But she had to leave behind the buckets of tears she’d cried.

It was a gorgeous day, favoring a new adventure,

And no more would she be tied to his tragic indenture.

The warm Winds of Change began to blow in her direction,

And with it they carried a change of her affection.

In the best epiphany she had ever received

She recognized that her heart was now relieved. 

She was free to do and be and see and become anything

All she was leaving behind a bittersweet memory thing.

Up, up, up, she climbed, higher and higher still

And glanced back once as she reached the crest of the hill.

What was that she saw sinking in QUICKSAND?

Was it an ostrich or someone who didn’t understand? 

Sighing, she shook her head in one last poignant goodbye,

And with that, the indomitable Phoenix really began to fly!

– Lou Lehman Sams

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LAST LOOK

LAST LOOK

Do you ever take that one,  quick, last look in the mirror before you head out the door for work or to an event? You want to look and make sure that your tie is on straight, or your hair is just right, or your lipstick is not smeared. 


Sometimes you’re very pleased with what you see, and you walk out the door with vim & vigor & confidence. Other days, you try to take one last blot at your lips or adjust your tie before rushing on out the door. But either way, bad hair day or not, you have to leave, because the clock waits for No One.


And that’s sort of what the dawn of the New Year is like, as well. We each look into the mirror of Our Lives, for one last glance before we head into the next appointment. For we all have an appointment with 2017, & like an impatient date, it will not wait.
There is nothing wrong with reflecting. In fact, it is necessary and cathartic for our souls.


Many are writing and posting about what a dreadful year 2016 was for them, and I am right there alongside of them. My horoscope at the beginning of the year said that it would be the luckiest year of my entire life. Ha! This year alone was enough to debunk any inclination towards believing in horoscopes. For it was unlucky for me in many ways. Or was it? Perhaps the opportunities that did not pan out, or the relationships that fell by the wayside were really  lucky things, instead of unlucky ones? Perhaps it was God saving me from something that would hold me back, keep me from fulfilling my potential, or in some way actually harm me? 

For me, as with some of you, I’m certain, the very best thing about this past year is simply that I survived it. Life threw me some completely unexpected curve balls, & though I may not have come out the most valuable player,  I’m a winner, because I’m still in the game. And so are you!


Whatever the case, there were many good things that occurred this past year as well: I made new friends and new co-workers. I got a new position with a new company about which I cannot say enough good things! I got to spend time with friends at the beach, visit my daughter in Oklahoma, & fly out to Texas and stay with my “sister” & her girls.  My son graduated college and got an amazing job which he will start in February! 


I got to spend time doing  one of my very favorite things, and that is  giving of myself in service to others and my beloved community. I chaired a task force for the Board of Realtors that resulted in a new committee being formed. I got to be on the planning committee for a Welcoming Home Ceremony for returning soldiers. I wrote articles for an online veterans newsletter, and did other volunteer work. I’m not listing these things to toot my own horn, but rather as a reminiscence of some of the things that brought me the greatest joy for the past year. For when I tell others that the best thing that they can do when they are feeling down and out is to go out and do something for someone else, I really mean it! I have lived it. 


At the end of the year, the epiphanies I had in relation to others which caused me not to continue down the path with them has not led me to be bitter towards them. But it has caused me to be better myself. For I have learned that it is indeed best to accept the things you cannot change. I have learned that I am stronger than I thought. I have learned that no matter how much you may care for someone, their destiny may not be intended to be your own. 


There are so very many other “negative” things that occurred in 2016, but a laundry list of them is unnecessary. It serves no purpose. Long story short, it was one of the most challenging years of my entire life. I think that every single aspect of my life had bad happenings. From having to get 6 new cell phones & 3 new laptops to being told I had a mysterious illness which debilitated me just as I was gearing up to go full steam ahead, and eveything in between, 2016 tried really hard to kick my butt. 

But looking back, I know that it was like being squeezed through a birth canal: the months of gestation in the cozy womb of my life compared to the pain and the process of transformation as I passed from one version of living to another one. I no longer lived within a safely contained womb where all of my needs are met. I had to learn to walk and talk and think again all on my own.


And is that not what we are all created to do? From the moment we are born, we are challenged with one hurdle after another one. We drink milk before we eat meat. We crawl before we walk. We walk before we run. I felt as if I was crawling along for most of 2016. But now, my friends, it is time for me to run!


If 2016 was also a difficult year for you, consider it a part of the transition process – that last painful push, to start you on your way to being a self-sufficient soul. For when you are free of that deep, dark, constricting place, then it’s time to breathe on your own. The very first thing you have to learn to do is just breathe. Sometimes, the deep, dark and constricting places in our lives are relationships, jobs, or addictions that we need to just leave behind.


This New Year’s Eve, I am taking a deep breath, and I am reflecting. For I know in 2016, the struggles that I have undergone this year were just a preparation for the race which I will be called to run in 2017. And that is exactly what I intend to do: I’m going to stretch my muscles, and start the real race for which I was intended. I look forward to seeing you at the finish line!

– Lou Lehman Sams 


KEEP THE TISSUES

Pass the tissues,

They’ve got issues, 

But their issues are not mine

Tired of walking that fine line

Between compassion

And consumption.

Sometimes all there is to do

Is take my hands off of you

And slowly walk away

The only day is today.

Promises of a a dream

Remain to be unseen

But I will reclaim,

Today in Jesus’ name!

So take your issues

Along with those tissues

And stage left do leave –

No more to you I cleave.

Yes, I wish you well, 

Though you’re in a living hell,

It’s too hot there for me.

No more of me you’ll see.

You can keep the tissues,

Along with your issues.

I don’t need either any more.


– Lou Lehman Sams


LIFE MADE SENSE AGAIN

LIFE MADE SENSE AGAIN



In the beginning it was small, almost unnoticeable, like the tiniest pinhole leaking air from the tire of an 18 wheeler, or a sweat bee trying to prick the skin on a large man’s neck. Just a minor annoyance, yet a vague indication that something just wasn’t quite right. But once he saw that nothing was going to be done in resistance to his attempts, he continued to try to suck the joy out of her by increasingly larger assaults. What was once a tiny little opening into her heart became a glaring hole, as he came at her very soul with vacuum force. 

He did not realize that the harder he pulled at her heartstrings, the more force he used to try & evacuate her very lifeforce, the deeper her joy was being buried beneath layers of protection that Angels had used to wrap her heart & soul for safe-keeping against the onslaught of attacks. Nonetheless, he was relentless. So very relentless. She cried a thousand tears. And then, a thousand more. 

She lived in a state of denial. She did not want to believe that the man to whom she had offered her heart & soul would be so very ruthless. She tried everything from nurturing to kneeling at the altar, but you will not find demons there, only Angels to help you battle them. 

Finally, one incredible day, the Angels disconnected the power sources & silenced the vacuum. There remained nothing but the silence of peace which was so powerful that it permeated those layers around her heart, & opened it back up again, exposing the joy that was tucked way down deep inside for safekeeping. She gasped a little, as she was surprised it was still there. 

But not only was it still alive & well, but she found that celebrations were sweeter, life was more beautiful, & adventures were more fun without the constant pressure of fighting against the forces that threatened her very identity. Once the source of stress was removed, she was free to find the treasures that awaited her in a manner she had not known before. And it was different, living in calmness rather than chaos. But there in the calm she found herself again, & she knelt at the altar & thanked God for protecting her heart during the turbulent times, & she thanked Him for the Angels who had kept it safe, even when she did not know that it needed safeguarding. 
Very slowly, timidly at first, she opened the door to her heart for the first time in a very long while, & the joy that poured forth was a soothing balm that annointed her very soul. And as it spread, seeped, poured, & ran onto those around her, it made room in her heart for love to enter in again. He had not won the battle, & he would not win the war – the Devil never wins! And she lifted her face Heaveneward toward the sun that was shining for the first time in a long, long time, & she savored the day in anticipation of the love that awaited her as she stretched forth her arms & embraced the blessings that flowed seamlessly down upon her. Joy shone forth, & life made sense again. 

– Lou Lehman Sams

JUST DON’T GO THERE!

JUST DON’T GO THERE!

I moved into a new place a few months ago, after having lived at my prior address for over a decade. When you have lived somewhere for that long, you sort of go into auto pilot when you are on your way home. For instance, my job takes me all over the county on a daily basis, and though I sometimes have to rely on the assistance of G.P.S. to get where I am going, when it came time to head home, no matter where I was in the county, I could drive there without even thinking. It was as if my mind and body had the place memorized. After I moved, there were several times when, tired at the end of a long day, I decided to head home, only to find myself going the WRONG WAY – I would accidentally turn up the Parkway, driving toward my OLD place, not my NEW one. Even though I was all alone in the vehicle, I was embarrassed and dismayed each time that realization dawned that I could not go back to that place anymore, no matter how much my instincts were telling me to do so. More than that, I KNEW, without doubt, that I did not WANT to go there!

So, with relief, I would turn back toward my NEW place. I was reminded of a family whose house I had sold 12 years ago. The lady was excited to be moving into her brand new, custom built, two story home, but clung emotionally to memories past in the old one. “This is where I brought both of my babies home from the hospital,” she declared to me on more than one occasion. (“It is just a PLACE, for heaven’s sake”, I would think to myself.) Worse yet, whenever she was in the area, she would drive by her OLD house! Even if her 6 year old son was in the vehicle with her, she would drive him by there, breaking into tears, stopping and lingering in front of the house, recanting stories of their life there, and causing him to cry with her. As she was often in that area, this happened for weeks on end, with mother and son driving by the old place, looking at it mournfully, and weeping. Not exactly the most healthy way to move forward. They had a spectacular, gorgeous, custom built home that was twice as large and twice as nice as the old one, located on a beautiful, wooded, lot in a serene, peaceful setting whereas their old, tiny place was in a little subdivision that had been built atop a depleted cotton field with zero trees. But they were so busy lamenting their loss that they could not even begin to enjoy and celebrate their new life, nor appreciate their good fortune at being able to afford it.

Another client I had would get very sad and grieve whenever she drove by her previous residence, because the new owners had chopped down the trees that she and her husband had once painstakingly planted when they had built the place. She had a difficult time accepting the fact that it was no longer THEIR house, or THEIR trees, but that it all belonged to the new owner, and they had no say in what transpired there after they left that place. It mattered not what her thoughts were about how the new landscaping should appear, or what, if anything, should be changed, because SHE NO LONGER BELONGED THERE, in that place of her past. It was no longer her place to be involved in anything that happened on that property. Still, she kept vigilant watch on every rose bush, flower, or herb that the new owners planted, constantly criticizing their choices, when that time and energy could have been better spent planting a new garden at their new home.

Yet another client was perturbed that the purchaser of his former residence filled in what used to be his goldfish pond with dirt. Although the new owner had fashioned a superb rose garden on the location where the pond had been, he could not let go of the feeling that “his” pond was now gone.

I can somewhat identify with each of these clients in a manner. Although I moved multiple times when I was a child, and therefore never formed such deep attachments to a house, after my divorce I found myself continually reminiscing about the things I “used to own.” This was not done out of sentimentality, but typically occurred whenever I would go search the cupboards for an item only to realize that the ex had “inherited” it in the divorce. It was a frustrating feeling, to be reminded of things “I used to have”, be sure. Fortunately, a new friend kindly admonished me, telling me to focus on what I now have, and what I will have in the future, and this helped me immensely to stop looking backward with sadness. I am not saying that I will not still comment, such as I did last night, when I realized that I no longer owned a meat tenderizer, but rather than being wistful about it, I was merely stating a fact before heading out to the store to purchase a new one.

Both conventional wisdom and modern thinking agree that there are times in life when letting go is not only a necessary thing, but a MANDATORY thing if we are to be able to heal. One cannot go to a NEW place, if one is still stuck in the OLD one. So what is the answer to being able to truly let go of places, things and people that belong in the past, but not in the present or future? I believe one of the ways to accomplish this is “JUST DON’T GO THERE!!!” Do NOT, if you are still adapting to your new life, visit the old one. Do NOT, if you are trying to appreciate the new place, person, or thing God has granted you, keep going back to the OLD one! Why would anyone want to keep doing that to themselves, anyway? Turn on your GPS, so you can find your way to that twice as big, twice as nice person, place, or thing that surely awaits you, if you will only allow yourself to appreciate it. As for the old way of life? It’s pretty simple: “JUST DON’T GO THERE!”

THE SHREDDER

THE SHREDDER

 

Image

I’ve been having a running dialogue with a recently divorced friend, wherein I tell them that it is of utmost importance that they put all of the past behind them as quickly as possible. I know that this is a difficult, yet necessary part of the healing process, because I have also undergone a divorce within the recent past. For the most part, I have done a good job of letting go of what used to be my life. I know that, in order to fully grasp my new life, I cannot be clinging to my old one.

Since my divorce was both protracted and hotly contested, I had a period of about two years to begin to adapt to a new way of thinking. My ex-husband is no longer my husband – he is my “EX” husband. I began practicing this by calling him my “soon to be ex” while the divorce was still pending, so by the time that the ink was etched onto the final papers, I had it firmly in my mind that we were no longer husband and wife. 

I have had to call my former residence, which was my home for over a decade, my “OLD” house. I have found myself often prefacing sentences with, “I USED TO OWN …” such and such gadget, dish, or appliance. One day my friend chastised me for this, saying that I needed to focus on what I have now, and what I am going to have in the future. I knew, the moment that I heard the words, that they were right, and decided to try to cease to vocalize about the things I no longer owned as a result of the dissolution of my long term marriage. 



Though I have been officially and formally divorced for over six months now, I am still unpacking and organizing things at my new residence. Today I dove into the box that held a chaotic mix of items. It was such a tangled wreck due to the fact that I had to move out unexpectedly, hurriedly, and during the holidays when I was sick. When I got to the bottom of said box, I found a spiral bound five subject notebook, filled to the brim with my own handwriting. Every single page was filled with the ponderings of a mind trying desperately to grasp why I was having to say “I Don’t” to the man I once said “I Do” to on our wedding day twenty-six years ago. This book had been my prayer journal during one of the worst years of my entire life, during the last twelve months of the divorce process. I slowly flipped through some pages, and the moments when I penned the words on any particular page came flooding back with instant clarity.



How vividly I recalled crying myself to sleep on several nights. How clearly I knew the details of quite a few gentlemen who expressed interest in dating me, and also my insistence that I wait until my divorce was final prior to beginning dating. This page shows where I promised to remain faithful to my dead marriage until everything was legal regarding the divorce. That page shows where I finally, out of curiosity about what my new life might hold, I signed up for an online dating site. A few pages mentioned men I communicated with from that site, and my dismay over where on earth at my age, I would find someone with whom I would actually be interested in going on a date. How well I remembered my excitement after several months of being separated at meeting a potential suitor, and how often I prayed that God would allow our two divorces to be over quickly in order that we could go on an official “date.”



Oh, the agony I felt when I wrote a couple of entries that expressed my anger at God! The overwhelming sadness I experienced when I was wondering why on earth He was allowing me to undergo those trials for such an extended time. 

I remember the hope I would feel when I wrote about how friends called me out of the blue when I was feeling my lowest, and also the joy that overcame me a few times when I began to see a light at the end of that lonely, dark tunnel. As I scanned the entries, my eyes glanced at one where I prayed in thanksgiving that I could share my own trials and comfort others that were going through similar things. I saw once again the wounds that I bore, before they had a chance to become scars on my soul.



I debated what to do with this journal. Should I hide it away so that my kids could peruse it one day and realize just exactly what I had sacrificed for their education? Should I use it as the basis of a book that others have been encouraging me to write? Should I keep it as a souvenir – “Been there, done that, have the t-shirt to prove it?” 

Suddenly, like a ton of proverbial bricks falling about my head, the thought occurred that I needed to take my own advice – I needed to PUT THE PAST BEHIND ME, and that meant ALL of the past. There was no sense in keeping it – or anything else – that had outlived its usefulness to me.

The notebook and its writings had served their purpose for me well last year. They provided me with an outlet which helped me to preserve my sanity. But now, in the midst of my new and improved life, they had no purpose except to remind me of pain. There was no reason to cling to anything that would only cause me more hurt. I had been hurt enough.



I looked over at the shredder I’d brought with me from my “OLD” house, and decided to plug it in. Hungrily, it devoured page after page of the journal. Though it was capable of handling multiple pages all at one time, I intentionally fed it one page at a time, until the receiving bucket was overflowing. I dumped the paper shreds into the now empty moving box, then began shredding more and more pages. I knew I could just throw the journal into the trash can and be done with it, but the sound of the shredder grinding up my angst ridden musings was so very cathartic that I did not want to miss the opportunity to ceremoniously exorcize those demons once and for all. I emptied the bucket filled with shredded paper again, and yet again. Finally, as if gasping for breath after nearly an hour of shredding, the shredder could take no more, and right in the middle of eating one of my handwritten pages, it quit. That’s right, it just stopped shredding.

The machine was not very old, and in my opinion had been used far too little to be breaking down. I unplugged it, then stuck my letter opened into the teeth to make sure that there was not anything clogging the opening. There was nothing doing so, but the shredder felt very hot. I had worked it so hard that the motor was overheated! So I tore the remaining pages into tiny pieces by hand, then went to the garage to toss them into a bag which I placed in the refuse can.

None too pleased at the thought of having to buy a new shredder, I nonetheless resigned myself to throw the shredder out, as well. 

But when I climbed the steps up to my loft to go get the shredder so that I could throw it away, I decided to give it one more try. VOILA’! It worked!! The motor had cooled down, & the shredder was not dead after all, so I did not have to throw it away! I am glad that I destroyed the evidence of my sleepless nights and hurt feelings. They have no place in my new beginning, and only detracted from it. But the shredded will be useful to me for destroying sensitive documents associated with my personal privacy and my job. 



I then made a vow to take a deep, introspective look at myself and to try to uncover anything that I need to let go of that has outlived its usefulness. I immediately saw a recent hurt that I had experienced, and realized that, though I had pretended to myself that I had let go of it, I was still clinging to it, although I am unsure as to why I was doing so. Sometimes it is easier to hang on to our junk than it is to shred it.

But I know now that there is a great peace that comes once one has gone through the process of sorting through what needs to stay and what needs to go, and when one has had the courage to actually get rid of the hurt contained in the things and people who have no longer got any purpose in our lives. It is a most freeing catharsis, and I pray that whomever might stumble upon these words will have the wisdom to recognize what they need to put into their figurative shredder, and the fortitude to actually carry through with doing so. The task may be long and taxing, but it will be worth it! And I pray that the recent hurt that I buried in the middle of the shredded pages of my past will stay there, right where it belongs – in the past.

~ L.L.S.