New Years Day 2015 and 2016

As I entered 2016, I was wrestling with a situation that was causing me considerable stress. I had prayed for clarity but until New Years morning, I was still very much embroiled in the emotion of it. I’d asked God a few days prior to help me trust His will with regard to the situation, but I was still wrestling. This morning, however, I resolved to trust God with it and remove myself from that roller coaster of emotions. God’s peace then showed up a little while later as I perused Facebook. Following is what I posted after reviewing events of New Years Day last year:

This was my situation on New Years Day last year—spending the morning on Tybee Island after bringing in the new year in Savannah with my sister Lyn and her family. I also got to spend wonderful time with cousins I hadn’t seen since the early 80s when they were in elementary school. Last night I brought in the new year in Maryland with my other sister Sheila, her family, my nieces Jennifer and Kariesha, and their families.

My journey since June 2010, when I resolved to learn to trust God completely, has been an amazing one, and I’m grateful every day for the adventure that is my life. I’ve released things I never thought I could live without and in return I’ve gained much that I can’t imagine living without. Letting go can be hard, yes, but I’ve discovered that trying to hold on to what we need to let go is much harder. It took me a few “minutes” to get that but the moment I accepted that “God’s got me”, the skies opened up, and I began to soar!

I may not know what tomorrow brings, but I know who brings tomorrow. What I know, too, is that God loves me and as His daughter, I’m destined for His absolute best; all I need do is allow Him. My new year wish for everyone is that you let go of the fear, trust God, and let Him do what He does: equip us to live our best lives and take us places we’ve never imagined!! Happy New Year, everyone, and more of God’s peace and His many blessings!!

After writing that, I came across the following on the wall of life coach Cassandra Nkem-Nwosu:

“Whenever you find yourself doubting how for you can go, just remember how far you’ve come. Remember everything you have faced, all the battles you have won, all the fears you have overcome.” –Unknown

Then there was the Marianne Williamson’s quote I posted on my wall last New Years Day:

“Think of one person you are tempted, for any reason, to withhold love from, and pray for their happiness. In that moment, your pain will stop.”

I closed my eyes, prayed for happiness, and was enveloped in peace.

Journal entry: “Powerful! Amazing! God!”

A freedom journey

Nearly five years ago, I chose a lifestyle of freedom that was brought on by a desire to, as Wayne Dyer put it, “travel light”. I discovered along the way, though, that traveling light involved more than ridding myself of possessions: of getting rid of those three closets of shoes; the five closets and drawer upon drawer of clothes; the shelves and cases of CDs and DVDs; all of the gadgets, doodads, and knickknacks I’d packed away decades earlier; and most difficult of all, my library of hundreds and hundreds of books.

I discovered that I also needed to rid myself of attitudes and beliefs that no longer served me; of emotional voids that dictated a search outside myself to be filled; a deep-rooted fear that didn’t allow me to see the possibility of anything beyond what I was capable of doing myself; and the anger and sadness that revealed themselves in ways I was unaware. I NEEDED TO BE FREE!

So, after two years of gradually getting rid of stuff and wrestling with the fear of living without a steady income, I gave up my job of almost fifteen years; a job that was challenging, rewarding, and had terrific benefits. The problem, though, was that I’d begun to feel as though it were sapping my life blood; I only had energy enough every evening to eat and sleep. So yes, it was definitely time for a change.

Sure, I could’ve looked for a different job, but there was something deeper at work than the call to freedom and minimalism, and it was my need to trust God in a way I never had before. So, I heeded the call and began what I’ve recently begun referring to as my freedom journey.

For the most part, the journey has been one of revelation and adventure. A review yesterday of just a few of the thousands of pictures I’ve made along the way reminded me of just how blessed I am. I’ve explored parks, rivers, oceans, streams, mountains, canyons, flatlands, and badlands in towns and cities from the east to the west coasts of the United States.

I spent a month recently in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) marveling over its deserts, sand dunes, camels, and mountains; the food, coffee, and tea; the Persian Gulf; the Sheikh’s palace and mosques (both regular and Grand); as well as the country’s reverence for God as evidenced by the calls to prayer that go out five times a day everyday.

Those are the fun times…the times when I feel the most free and the most blessed.

Other times, however, I’m required to look within for the reasons why I’m feeling what I’m feeling. The past several days was one such time.

First of all, my car was stolen and recovered right before I left for the UAE. As I processed through the emotions of that violation, I moved from shock to disbelief to anger to grief then back to anger again. But when I boarded that plane for the fourteen-hour flight to Dubai that Sunday evening, I resolved to leave it all behind. No, that violation would not be interfering with this trip of a lifetime, and it didn’t.

Back on US soil a month later, however, I was confronted with my car situation as well as the jet lag from the nine-hour time difference, and it was not a pretty picture. As I made call after call to resolve repair of my car, my emotions were all over the place. I was so frazzled that I finally decided to just rest and allow my body clock to sync.

More than a week later, I started the process again, and again my emotions were all over the place. Thus began my journey to get to the bottom of what was really going on.

I had to acknowledge first that I was dealing with the shame of not having full coverage insurance on my vehicle. Why I’d be ashamed of that, I don’t know…well, yes, I do know. It’s not uncommon to carry only liability coverage on older vehicles and since my car was sixteen years old, I’d cancelled the comprehensive part of my coverage. But the Lydia who always made sure her ducks were in a row in the past now found herself needing to repair a vehicle and not having the funds necessary to do it. That, too, would’ve been unheard of for the Lydia whose life was planned out and lived in the fear of “what ifs”; that Lydia made sure she was prepared to handle every “what if”.

I decided a few days later, though, that it wouldn’t be prudent to repair the car; the repairs would cost more than the car was actually worth and beyond that, I couldn’t be certain the repairs would resolve all of its issues.

“What to do now?” I asked. I can’t afford to repair the car, and I’m certainly in no position to buy a new one. My journal entry that day reads, “My question then is what will I do without a car?” As I wrote that entry, I heard, “What are you doing without it now?” I chuckled because I was, in fact, doing ok without it and even had access to my sister’s car for the next several days while she was in Los Angeles.

Yes, I knew that God would provide what I needed–He’d proven that many times already–so I didn’t go into panic mode as would have been my first stop a couple of years ago. That’s progress!

As I type this today, I’m also “recovering” from the further realization that I still had shame attached to my lifestyle choice. I discovered in the process that my old voice–the voice that’s strong, loud, critical, and condemning–is very much alive and that we’ll have to battle from time to time.

Yes, hers is the voice of fear, shame, and condemnation and while I may be unable to silence her completely–and may even fall victim to her sometimes–I know that I’m equipped to overcome her jabs.

I’m in good hands–the BEST hands; the evidence is all around me: in the family and friends who’ve supported and blessed me in ways too numerous to mention; in my sisters who assure me that the judgment I sometimes feel isn’t from them; in the fact that I always have what I need; in the many places I’ve visited and the photos I’ve made since embarking upon this journey; and in the fact that I live a lifestyle of freedom in not only a state of belief and trust, but in complete knowing that everything’s gonna be ok. The evidence, too, is in God who made all of this possible.

A friend said to me the other day that, “I have no desire to step out on faith like you did.” I totally understand that. I don’t know exactly why I was called to do it but what I do know is that it gives my life purpose; it gives me the opportunity to inspire others in ways I would’ve been unable to otherwise; and it gives me the opportunity to relive–or live for the first time–the times I missed because of fear and adult responsibilities as a child. 

Another thing my freedom journey has taught me is that it is never too late to live my dreams and for that, I’m immensely grateful.

Lifting the veil

Upon reading “Lifting the Veil,” a prayer in Iyanla Vanzant’s Daily StimuMail, I was reminded of my reluctance to look within myself for the reasons why I was always feeling so bad. It just seemed easier to find ways and things to block the pain and discomfort, to blame folks, work, and circumstances for it.

I happened to be in a relationship when things began to change, and I had started looking to him for comfort. I needed him to assuage the sadness I was feeling; I needed him to be my “feel good”; I needed him to be my “fix”, the Bandaid, as it were, for the wound that was at the root of the problem.

I needed that fix from him all the time and when he didn’t come through, I was sad, my heart ached, I was even immobilized sometimes. “How could he treat me this way?” I cried. “How can he be so cold and unloving?”

The truth, though, was that a Bandaid wasn’t the answer to my problem and being my Bandaid wasn’t his responsibility. I didn’t come to that realization, though, until a few days after I did something that was totally out of character for me.

For reasons I won’t go into here, he had refused to talk to me for an entire week. That one week seemed more like months to me so that Sunday, I showed up totally unannounced on his out-of-town doorstep. I’d awakened that morning resolved to see him, to make him talk to me, to get my fix, and not once during the hour and a half drive did I consider the absurdity of what I was doing. It may not seem absurd to some, but to me, it just wasn’t something I was in the habit of doing in relationship…had never done, in fact. So yes, this was totally out of character for me. Hmmm, as I think about it now, maybe even that behavior was symptomatic of this issue, wasn’t it?

Anyway, he wasn’t home when I arrived, and it was a movie and several miserable hours later before I finally saw him and worked things out. The relationship survived my brief foray into “madness”, yes, but the day revealed that something was terribly wrong and needed to be fixed.

During the drive home, I finally asked the pertinent questions: “Why did I do that? Why did his rejection hurt me so deeply?” “Why was everything hurting me so deeply?”

I had noticed over the years that even though his rejection was devastating, certain other events left me emotionless. I could sit through relatives’ funerals, for instance, and feel no emotion at all. It could be said that we hadn’t been close enough for me to feel anything, but even when my favorite uncle died, I couldn’t shed a tear. And the one memory I have of my father’s funeral was sitting there dry-eyed while the usher fanned and implored us to “go ahead and cry.” But no tears came.

But back to the revelation. In answer to my question, God revealed to me that the emotions I’d been repressing for all those years since my father’s illness and death in 1975 were finally surfacing, and my beloved’s rejection was tapping into that deep well of pain.

No longer could I repress the grief, the pain of losing someone so dear to me, or the fear and anger over the terror my family had been subjected to after Daddy’s death. It all was demanding to be released!

No longer would time with my beloved, or work, TV, books, alcohol, drugs, food serve as distractions.

It was finally time to resolve the emotions of the past and the not-so-distant past.

Either I could allow the emotions to come forth now, or I could continue blaming others for the pain that was, unbeknownst to me, written all over my face. I could allow them to come forth, or I could end up destroying the relationship that was so important to me.

My choice that day was freedom; freedom from the past; freedom from the well of pain that innocuous TV shows and commercials were tapping into; freedom from the pain that often immobilized me for days; freedom from the pain I’d been hiding from family, friends, and colleagues.

Yes, it was time!

So, for the next few months, whenever I felt that familiar heaviness or that overwhelming sadness, I’d take a seat in my bedroom recliner and sit with the sadness. I’d allow it to rise from the hidden places of my heart, and I would cry.

I’d cry for minutes, sometimes hours.

I’d feel the pain in my arms, legs, fingers, and toes.

The pain would be so deep sometimes that it rendered me breathless, racking my body with sobs.

Sometimes I’d sit on the bathroom floor, the door closed against the moaning and wailing that rose from deep within my soul.

At the beginning of each session of what I now refer to as my release ritual, I began asking God to show me the reason for the tears I was about to shed and in my mind’s eye, a scene from the past would play out while I released the emotions associated with it.

Those were some rough weeks, but I’m so very thankful that I made to choice for freedom, that I didn’t give up.

I’m grateful I got to walk in the light at the end of the tunnel, to experience the joy that comes in the morning, and to witness the beauty for ashes and the joy for tears that God promised.

I think, though, that I knew I wasn’t being the person God created me to be because I’d often think of her as trapped inside, wanting to be this, wanting to do that, wanting to be free, free to just BE!!

No more pretending that all was well even though my heart and mind were filled with pain.

No more needing to be Wonder Woman in order to prove I was on my game.

No more allowing the behavior of others to dictate how I feel. If he called, I was happy; if he didn’t, I was sad.

No more needing anyone to fill my voids or to be my joy. Love and self-acceptance fill the voids, and from within comes my joy.

No more avoiding the dance floor. I may not know how to wobble, but I do what I do to my heart’s content.

And while I may not be the best singer in the room, I’ll grab my makeshift mic (knife, spoon, fork, pencil, or pen) and do my thang.

No more restricting myself to the treadmill because I’m too self-conscious to walk outside. I now walk wherever I want—in the park, on the trail, along the river walk, on country roads, even on city sidewalks with traffic whizzing by and without a single thought about who may be criticizing me.

Freedom.

I was discussing plans for our high school reunion with a classmate recently, and she shared how impressed some of our classmates are with me. “Why?” I asked. “Because you talk now,” she replied. I laughed. I had met and talked with several of them while living down home on the farm after my cross-country road trip. How great it was to reconnect and not look for reasons to avoid it.

Freedom.

As for the relationship, it ended a few years later. I cried, yes, but when I think about it now, I can actually smile; first, because it happened and second, because of the role it played in my becoming.

Freedom.

With that said, I hope you’ll read the prayer that prompted me to tell all my business in this blog post (well, maybe not quite ALL of it), and I hope it’ll be the beginning of your journey to freedom.