The best thing that ever happened to me

It’s 18 degrees with a 1 degree wind chill here in Maryland this morning, and I’m thinking my planned haircut will have to wait.

What I’m doing in this moment, though, aside from writing this post, is listening to Gladys Knight’s ‘Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.’ I can think of a few fellas I can say that about, but that’s a story for another day…if ever.

I thought of Gladys’ song while making coffee this morning and considered asking Siri to play the video for me. I could hear the lyrics, but I didn’t know the name of the song and figured it would be more trouble than it was worth to ask her to find it.

Fifteen or so minutes later, despite my menopause-induced forgetfulness, the song continued playing in my head. I googled and found the video. After listening to it a couple of times, I googled the lyrics because now I was hearing the song in a completely different way. Instead of remembering the fellas who’ve impacted my life, I was feeling God and the way HE’s impacted my life.

It could be said that I’ve had a pain-filled life—heck, I’ve said it more than a few times myself—not only because of menfolk but also with losing my father at fourteen, for the terror my siblings and I were subjected to those months before and after his death, and for the subsequent repressed emotions I carried all the years since.

Thankfully, after some serious prodding and after doing a few things that were totally out of character for me, I decided to release it all, and it was the best decision of my life! Why? Because it afforded me the opportunity to open doors I wouldn’t have had the courage to open otherwise and because it allowed me to free the woman I knew was trapped inside, buried beneath decades of repressed anger and grief.

How grateful I am that I came to see the bigger picture of it all: that all of my challenges equipped me to live this one life the way God intended—with the freedom, boldness, and courage to which I continue to aspire.

It was difficult, yes, but I can’t even be mad at the fella whose actions tapped into my grief and let me know it was there. I’m just glad that God graced me the courage to face and work through it. I’m glad, too, that as good as the season is that I’m in now, the best is still yet to come.

What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you? Think about it and if you’re so inclined, let me know in the comments below.

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On my birthday

As I awakened to the dawn of my 54th year, I lay there reflecting on my one life and all the challenges, changes, and beauty I’ve seen during the course of those years. It hasn’t always been easy, but I’m thankful to have recognized that I wasn’t alone on the journey. I’m thankful to have recognized, too, that the journey wasn’t all about me.

I’m thankful to have realized that for all the times I may have fallen and come short, I can finally acknowledge and accept that I did the best I could with what I had at the time.

I’m thankful for the release that came from hearing Mother Maya Angelou when she told us that “when you know better, you do better.” I’m so thankful that as I have learned better, I have done better.

No, it wasn’t always easy, but I’m forever grateful for the heart and mind for transformation with which the Almighty graced me. It was He who helped me see myself and others as He sees us, a gift that gave me understanding and compassion during those times when I didn’t understand who I or they were being…during those times when all I wanted to do was just cuss and say, “to hell with you!”

I’m thankful for the many days and nights of tears, tears that freed me from decades of repressed emotions and that freed the butterfly I always knew was trapped beneath all the pain, fear, anger, inadequacy, and insecurity. It was a cauldron of emotions on which I’d spent many years keeping the lid tightly sealed, but as that little girl demanded her freedom, it became more and more difficult to do so.

Then, one day in 1996, while confined to my bedroom after surgery on a broken ankle, that little girl’s demands became more than I could repress. At the insistence of my big sister Sheila (Stanley Bowser), I made the call that set in motion the transformation of a lifetime! I obtained the name of a psychotherapist from the insurance company, made the appointment, and began the reclaiming of Lydia. It would be a few years before we got around to releasing the emotions, but we did that, too.

When I look at my life today, I am thankful for the peace, the contentment, the happiness, and the passion I feel. My life today is the opposite of the life I was living in 2010 when I gave it all up to begin traveling light. I’ve had moments—ok, weeks, maybe even months–of fear and panic, wondering what was going to happen to me, where I was going to end up. Thankfully, though, I found my way when God showed me the beauty of the season I’m in right now. Through Joel Osteen, He implored me further to focus on the beauty and all that I do have instead of the burden of what I don’t.

What I see now are the blessings. The blessing of family and friends who love me, support me, and who have opened their homes to me during this continuing season of growth and change.

I see the blessing in experiencing God in nature almost daily in parks and by rivers and lakes in various cities.

I see the blessing in being able to photograph those God moments in ways that will inspire others. How satisfying to hear from a viewer that those photos are a source of inspiration, peace, and calm.

So, while my life may not be what it used to be, I am eternally grateful for what it is. I am thankful, too, for every person who has supported me in ways too numerous to mention as I move through this season, which, quite honestly is the second best time of my life!! What’s the first, you ask? That would be my cross-country road trip.

Oh, there’s one more thing that I’ve realized, and it’s that I’ve embarked upon yet another journey that I know will take me places spiritually—and probably emotionally and physically, too—to which I’ve never been, and I’m very excited about it!

As I end this post, I’m reminded of a line from Gil Scott-Heron’s song ‘I’m New Here’. In it he says,

“No matter how far wrong you’ve gone, you can always turn around.”

I hope I’ve said something today that will inspire you to turn around.

With this post, I’m including a few random photos I made over the last few days. I hope you enjoy them.