Do you find me changed?

I saw the look on your face, the one that told me my response to you was oh so inconvenient and not at all what you had planned.

It said, without words, “You’ve changed.”

Have I? How very observant of you.

I understand why you are still expecting the reactions and compliance you used to get—because you are living in a relatively unchanged state. Nothing big or dramatic has happened in your life lately. You’re a bit bored with your routine. And so, the tiniest of things becomes your mountain. A mountain you want everyone else to “climb” the way you are.

But that no longer works for me. I have experienced a different life these past several years.

And yes, it has changed me.

ButterflySome say for the better. My closest friends have seen me struggle, and in that struggle, earn a strength that is more than rock solid. I know what I can do. I know who my God is. I know why I’m here. That’s a rock solid foundation.

One which leaves me little time for the inane, the petty, the time wasters. I don’t always get it right but I’m getting there.

So that executive at work that likes to send what she considers “scary” emails to “motivate” her team? Those don’t scare me anymore. They just seem silly and distasteful.

When mothers with far too much time on their hands want to form committees to make a school event into a more than 100-hour project? I’m no longer there. We only have so many hours in a day and if I’m not working or with my kids then I’m going to take a well-earned break.

When you make a snide remark at book club when those of us who work show up for the holiday party and not much else, I want to ask you to go back to middle school and resolve those mean-girl issues that plague you. Really? At forty-something, you’re still there? I left it years ago.

In short, yes, I have changed.

I no longer have time for your bullshit. And your opinion of me has ceased to be a deciding factor in my choices.

Freeing? Oh yes. But this freedom came at a price.

I have watched my parents die. That changes you. You see what it comes to at the end and that there’s no going back to get any of the missed opportunities back. You can’t go back to a lazy Sunday morning and enjoy it. You can’t go back to your kids at certain ages and spend more time, be more patient, teach better lessons. You can’t even have a damn meaningless conversation—because on the clock you’re now on, nothing is meaningless.

I have faced an empty room, devoid of furniture and the accoutrements that made it home, and the fear that comes with knowing you are the only one who can fill that room again. And that it will take you time and the kindness of friends as well as strangers to do so. That changes you. When you’re down to the basics, you get clear really fast on what’s important. And what you can do without.

I have seen a promise to stick together forever made null and void. That changes you. You realize we come into this world alone and we leave it alone. And anything in between is not guaranteed. So you do the best you can and realize the in between is all about your learning. And growing. And that really, there isn’t much time to do that. Days may be long, but the years are short.

So you’ll just have to forgive me if your imagined work crisis, PTA busy work and petty attendance records no longer hold my attention. Or, don’t forgive me. I’ve realized that has more to do with you than me.

I began, some time ago, to lose patience with some of the current scenery in my life. I realized the inane conversation at the cocktail party bores me to tears. I instead search out fellow seekers—people who know why they’re here, know there is another level to who we are, laugh sincerely, cry without shame, listen with intention. They may be at the cocktail party, on an airplane or in my living room–no matter. They’re real. They’re interesting. They’re doing more than just marking time here.

I’ve ended up leaving a lot behind.

Pema Chodron says, “You are the sky. Everything else is just the weather.”

How very sensible of her.

If you can keep this in mind sans hubris or bitterness, if you can keep it humble but real, well that’s just the bomb. Life sometimes shows you that you are the sky by sending a lot of rough weather your way. You realize, when the storms have subsided, that you are still here. For some of us, that’s what it takes.iStock_000016557998Medium

What I have found, however, is that my mother’s folksy saying proves true: When God closes a door, he opens a window.

I’m seeing what is on the other side of that window. And yes, it requires the strength and stamina to fly—or to jump without knowing what you will land on.

The difference, after any trial by fire, is that you know you will land.

And you will brush yourself off, moving into a new adventure, leaving behind people and activities that no longer suit you.

They will mewl about it. Cast disappointed glances your way. Waste time talking about it in a less than understanding way.

But you will be a few thousand feet up and beyond that. Enjoying a view that just a few years ago you wouldn’t have dreamed was possible.

Yes, you are changed. And if they find you that way, all the better.

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25 Comments Add yours

  1. drranjani says:

    Beautiful post,as always. You seem to take my thoughts and put them out there so eloquently. We may come from different cultures but the human experience unites us – you embody this philosophy. Love reading your blog.

    1. candidkay says:

      I take that as a very high compliment. Thank you for your kind words.

  2. markbialczak says:

    I think change looks good on you indeed, Kay. Confidence becomes you, my friend.

  3. I LOVE this post. I was always Mrs Nice Person who never ruffled anyone, who was patient and serene. Tolerant would be a good word to describe me. Now I find myself being a tolerant person – except for intolerant people – and so therefore I have become intolerant. It bothered me when I first started behaving like that but when you compare earthquakes and hurricanes to the things people complain about – life it too short to surround myself with all that anymore. Thanks for the thumbs up to this new attitude 🙂

  4. I love this SO much! I relate to it all.

  5. how much do i love this and you? i don’t know you, yet i know we’d be in a living room somewhere talking until the earth made her rounds to the sun again.

    this: “So you’ll just have to forgive me if your imagined work crisis, PTA busy work and petty attendance records no longer hold my attention. Or, don’t forgive me. I’ve realized that has more to do with you than me.”

    i have just this year decided to allow myself to be a “seeker” and singer of truth rather than just trying to be entertaining and fabulous. i tried for years to be entertaining and fabulous. it was exhausting. what i didn’t know, but i do now, is that i am wonderful anyway. and that yes, death –in all her forms– changes everything.

    gorgeous piece. gorgeous peace.

    -m

    1. candidkay says:

      I think we would be in a living room gabfest also:). I love your decision–and your closing. Here’s to meeting up someday–and in the meantime, cheering from our respective sidelines. You go, girl.

  6. Stunning, love this, so true. Thank you! Justine

  7. Jim Simon says:

    I know exactly how you feel. Pema helps me through some of these times as well.

    1. candidkay says:

      Her “When Things Fall Apart” made my brain pop and sizzle, JIm.

  8. cindy says:

    Another well written blog, Krisse. SO true in life. And I think as we get older, the less we put up with the idle chit chat and seek out deeper meanings. I loved this post. I can relate – but am not quite to your point. Need to continue changing. This one is another ‘printable’ one!! Thank you. It’s going into my desk for many future reads!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for being such a faithful reader! Means a lot.

  9. KM Huber says:

    Timely post for me as I finally added furniture to a living room after almost four years. Many reasons for that, among them learning that all weather is impermanent. Now, I am ready to “nest” again no matter the weather as the sky that I am, which will also pass some day. Inspirational post, Kay.
    Karen

    1. candidkay says:

      I hope it’s gorgeous, comfortable, nesting furniture. That makes you smile when you sink into it with a cup of tea and a good book . . .

  10. Amy says:

    I’m right beside you in every word of this post, dear K. I, too, have survived some shattering losses, and like you, those experiences altered me. At first, grief and loss made me feel like a hermit crab without a shell. I couldn’t return to my former shell, yet I couldn’t find a new shell to move into. I felt exposed and raw and sensitive, and in this state, I changed. I was no longer willing to waste a single second of life’s preciousness with people who were rude, unkind, judgmental, small-minded, petty. I withdrew from negativity and created a positive space for myself.

    As the years have gone by, I’ve come to realize that I can choose my attitude each day. I surround myself with nature and make a point of noticing what is beautiful. I lose myself in poetry and good books, I write and sing and sew, spend time with my family and with wonderful friends who love and uplift me. I try always to be gentle with myself and gentle with others, even the ones who are small-minded and judgmental. (That doesn’t mean I seek them out — oh no! But I remind myself that there’s a deep psychology which makes others act as they do.)

    I pick my perspective now. I savor life. Had I not waded through loneliness and grief, I might not have arrived at this calmer place. My healing process has been very much like an upward climb toward a greater vista. And I like the view from here!

    As you navigate the unknowns and climb toward your own place of peace, I wish you love, light, and laughter. I so admire your spirit, your candor, your good, good heart, and your gorgeous writing.

    P.S. That Pema Chodron quote happens to rank among my favorites. I scribbled notes in my journal a few months ago to accompany that very quote! Haven’t pulled those thoughts together, but someday when I do, we’ll compare notes. xox

    ~Amy

    1. candidkay says:

      What you’ve created sounds like Heaven:). Truly. Even if you had to go through hell to figure out how to create it, it sounds worth it. Pema Chodron is a rock star, isn’t she? Albeit a Buddhist nun rock star:). She makes my brain pop. And I would love to compare notes.

  11. I love this post Kay, so powerful, your strength comes through in every sentence. I know what it’s like to be changed and I’m some way to knowing that I’m the sky and the rest is just weather, but I haven’t quite got to your wonderful attitude. But reading this gets me one step closer.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Andrea, for your kind words. Waiting for you at 15,000 feet up so we can double that:).

  12. Indeed.

    It is very unsettling to people when you radically change your position — as it forces them to alter their POV or stance — and most people have no interest in changing. I’ve never been one for idle chitchat (gah) and also had to rebuild my life after my first husband simply walked out at 10pm on a Wednesday night when I had no job or income, few friends and a family that basically shrugged. It sure wakes you up quickly.

    I find it so interesting that you, too, try to be a bodhisatva (I took those vows in 2011.) It sharpens your focus in a hurry. Other people can waste a lot of time and energy on stuff. Life is too short.

    1. candidkay says:

      I find the similarities in our situation comforting. And I believe we’ll meet in NYC for a cocktail someday:).

      1. Looking forward to it! I am often telling people to read your blog — today at our annual church picnic I told them how much I loved your post about “schmuck, etc.”

        Any journo who tries to be a bodisatva — and brave enough to say so publicly — is someone I want to meet. 🙂

  13. Wow! Congrats on speaking your truth in this way, Kay. It can take a long time to reach this powerful place. My best to you.

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