As I get back into my new routine, returning to the place my hubby and I call home now, I’m reminded of a quote that I’ve kept with me for decades and one that my protagonist in my “I’m going to finish it this year” novel reads in a pivotal moment in her life:
These great turning-days of life cast no shadow before, slip by unconsciously. Only a trifle, a little turn of the rudder, and the ship goes to heaven or hell. — Rebecca Harding Davis.
It’s one of sentiments that crosses all boundaries. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from, what you believe or don’t believe, everyone can relate to those words. I like that. A lot.
My Brain’s Way of Working It Out
Here’s what my brain interprets that quote to be: We walk through our lives and get caught up in the things that take up space in it. We work, pay our bills, get pissed off at this or that, we’re “happy” one day and then we think to ourselves, “I’ll be happy when I get this or make X amount of money or find Mr. or Ms. Right.”
All part of our humanness of trying to figure it all out. We take things for granted and then WHAM!, something blindsides you and all those “great” days that didn’t “cast a shadow” do. We want those back and this new thing in front of us — we stumble, sludge our way through it until we figure out how to deal with it — in our minds, hearts and soul — we handle it and it changes us.
Then those everyday things seem like heaven, right?
Here’s the thing though. I don’t know if we ever figure it out. I think we’re here because we’re meant to inspire and help others. Before you call me an eternal optimist or think to yourself, Here she goes with the positive crap, or think I’m being all kindness and that my world is always wonderful, then think again.
Depression — It is a Bitch
I’ve had and have my days of depression. Not quite two decades ago, I was on medication — not for long — a year or two if I remember correctly, to try and make that kind of thing go away. I’ve gone to therapy (which I wholeheartedly support as long as one does the work) and my ship has been in hell more than a few times.
As I’ve grown older and learned coping mechanisms, I’ve learned that it is just that — a little turn of the rudder — and I’m the master of my ship.
It takes much work, constant really, to keep your ship steering in the right direction. What I found was that as long as I made an effort, despite what external things were happening in my life, as long as I had the breath and help and desire to know that things could be good again and I could be happy again, I was okay.
For the grace of God (or Bob or whatever you call the omnipotent thing one prays/talks to or maybe just your soul), I’m here.
It took decades for me to come to this place. A long, self-discovery kind of groovy journey. But I did learn and I’ve gleaned knowledge that I think I had all along. I think we all have that deep something inside us that tells us — Yes! Do this! or No! Don’t do that!
Think about it. If you look back on the “mistakes” in your life, there was a itchy, nudgey kind of thing trying to tell you something. We either ignore it or listen to it. The consequences of those decisions are what bring us to where we are at this moment. But maybe all things lead us to where we need to be.
What I’ve Learned For What It’s Worth
I treasure and love every ‘bad’ and ‘good’ thing that’s happened to me. It’s made who I am and I love me now. It took a long time to get here and I know that from the counsel and advice I give to my family and to friends, that they are grateful for the me I am now too.
So, I hope this post didn’t come across as preachy or I that know it all. Because I don’t. But I do know this: Life can be a heaven or a hell and the choice is really within our control.
There are numerous accounts of this from Anne Frank to Nelson Mandela to Viktor Frankl to Gandhi to Jesus Christ to Rosa Parks to….so many more. People of love and peace and goodness that didn’t allow external forces to control who they were — the essence of their soul — their goodness. I’m not in any shape, form or fashion claiming to be among these people, but I do try to glean inspiration from them — the way they think because they seem (and seemed) at peace. When one’s at peace – now that’s heaven.
I’ll take heaven over hell any day.
And 2013, she’s gonna be my bitch — in a very good, peaceful and loving way.
I’m with you B. You have handled the last couple of months with such grace and strength and wisdom.
Go ride the hell out of 2013!!!
Maggie, thank you. It doesn’t feel like that — I still feel pretty weird and exhausted but you’re wonderful for saying that. I am going to ride it, baby — hard.
Happy New Year, Mags. xxoo
OMG! I love that picture and last thought! Yes, let’s make 2013 our bitch!! LOL!!
I’m also going to copy that Rebecca Harding Davis quote. It’s perfect.
There are so many opportunities for us to make wrong turns and end up weeks, months, or in my case, years later down the road without a clue – totally lost and feeling depressed. It takes a great deal of emotional energy to accept that you’ve made wrong turns, acknowledge that you’re lost and head back in the other direction. UGH!
If I could turn the hands of time back I would be much more mindful, prayerful and attentive to my icky feelings that told me something was wrong. I know they were there but I didn’t listen. We need to correct our course before we go so far down the road that the course correction becomes painful.
I do know that God wants us to be happy while we’re here and so the idea of checking in with Him more frequently is probably a very good idea. It sucks that spiritual growth has to be so painful, but I guess that’s how we learn?…and then we pass it on to those who care to listen. (You could never be preachy!) We’re all students in this mortal life. I think if we’re smart, we’d have our ears, eyes and hearts open to all good messages.
Great post, Brigitte!!!
I think that’s a good plan, Lisa. I’ve always loved that quote and yes, I guess there are so many opportunities to make wrong turns, but so goes it with the right ones too. Please know when I say, I SO do understand what you are feeling, going through and how weird you’re feeling, but it will get better. It’s okay though because you wouldn’t be the you (which is pretty freaking awesome) you are now if you’d not experienced all the things you have. That’s how I wrap my mind around why we have to learn painful lessons and it sounds as rational as any other explanation don’t you think?
If I could go back, I’d not spend so much time feeling as if I wasn’t “good enough” but I think many women (and probably men too –they’re just not as vocal) feel that way. What’s the saying? God doesn’t make mistakes.
As always, thanks for stopping by, reading and adding your wonderful, thoughtful sentiments here, Lisa. They are so appreciated. xxoo
“If you look back on the “mistakes” in your life, there was a itchy, nudgey kind of thing trying to tell you something. We either ignore it or listen to it. The consequences of those decisions are what bring us to where we are at this moment. But maybe all things lead us to where we need to be.”—I really loved this passage, Brigitte. Well, I really loved the entire post. I completely get what you’re saying, but I could never articulate it as elegantly as this. Lovely. Oh, and I like that we both used the word ‘groovy’ in our posts today. Do you think we can get it to make a comeback? 😉
Thanks so much, Carrie. Coming from you – such an astute, intelligent and humorous writer, I take that a huge compliment. I think we should bring groovy back. Justin Timberlake brought sexy back and I think groovy would be alot easier and more fun for me. ;). I’m bringing it back, baby. Groovy.
Thank YOU, Brigitte. Groovy, groovy, groovy!
I can’t think of one person walking the planet that at some point has not gone off course and needed to re-adjust their “rudder”. me? I’ve lost count but like you said, the key is we have to want to do the work.. Yes, let’s bring in Ms. Bitch 2013 and ride her like the lucky women we are.. We are free, alive and hell, we can even vote now 🙂
very inspirational post!!!
Lynne, you are so right! My rudder has gone the “wrong” way plenty of times. ;). Bring it, 2013 — woman, I’m with you! We are lucky, talented women aren’t we? I’m so glad we can vote too! Now if we just get one (woman) to run the country…not so sure a man’s up for the job. HA, HA.
Thank you my friend. ;).
It is really hard to log on and follow all of you amazing women and your thoughful/intelligent conversations. UGh.. what does one fried friend say? I say that I needed to read this post more than ever after a bad day at work. I need to refocus and stop giving someone the power they have to effect my being. why do people just try to hurt? It is hard fighting that creeping darkness…
The ending of this post was the best ever– way to crack my smile Brigitte.
and further more ” You and me gotta groovy kind of love” — after the reading the post and the comments I cannot get this dang song out of my head. Groovy is making a comeback.
You are never preachy my dear so don’t ever change. Phew this is a wordy comment from me– sorry
Hey Audra, It’s always wonderful to “hear” your voice because YOU are also amazing, thoughtful and intelligent. I don’t know why there are those who are mean-spirited and try to steal your light! Try not to let them. People like that are usually unhappy with something and try to either get your good energy or try to bring you down. But I’m very glad I helped crack open your smile, my friend. 🙂
Btw, I love that song and in case you’ve not heard, we’re bringing groovy back. Thank you for your wonderful non-wordy wonderful comment and insight. Xo
Do you think I said wonderful enough? );
I am reading Carrie’s Double O Grooviness now..
and you can never say wonderful enough. Brigitte= wonderFULL
Oh, so very well said, Brigitte. None of us can get it right every time, but as long as we learn from the experience and use it to “get back on course,” I think we’re doing okay. And we shouldn’t underestimate the impact we can have on other people just by doing our best whenever we can.
I’m with you—let’s do everything we can to make 2013 the year it should be!
Hey JM, I so agree with you. We’re mere humans so we can’t get it right every time, huh? I’m with you on the impact thing as well – I think we’ve all witnessed that. Thank you and here’s to lucky 2013!
I never fail to leave your bit of the hood feeling I’ve learned something (or had a good laugh–many times, both). Thanks for this. I’ve followed along here, and, I’ve been following our friend, Lisa’s story, too. It resonates with me (my parents divorced unexpectedly when I was 23–years later, Name Redacted left me with no warning) and I’ve found your words to her comforting in my own life.
Thank you for this. 2013 should be our bitch. I insist it happens!
Hey Addie, What a nice thing to say! You are always welcome in my hood. I know what you and she have been through and I’m so sorry but it gets better and better and a person gets stronger. Some of those cliches are very true, you know?
And I’m with you about 2013. I like how you think woman. Thank you so much, Addie. Xo
Sent from Brigitte’s iPad
“We take things for granted and then WHAM!, something blindsides you and all those “great” days that didn’t “cast a shadow” do.” –>
So, so true. Not so long ago, I was in a situation exactly like this and I found myself thinking, WHY did I ever wish for a more “interesting” life? I wanted my old “boring” life back and at that point, would’ve given anything to go back. But of course, that’s impossible so I dealt with the situation and emerged a better, stronger person. I realized that our minds are supremely powerful things… how we perceive things and how we think can often tip the scales as to whether we have a great day or a crappy day. Like you said, it’s hard work that never really ends but if we can learn from every experience, we can become better, wiser people. Here’s to leaping onto 2013 and showing who’s boss! 😉
Hey there! I’ve missed you and your blog. You’ve had a pretty challenging year yourself, haven’t you? You’ve certainly written about it with style and grace though and it sounds as if you’ve learned a lot about yourself which is always invaluable, huh? Being positive and happy does take effort especially through the rough times but worth it i think. Maybe a better word is accepting and doing the best you can to be at peace. Anyway, thank you and I hope that 2013 is stupendous for you! Now there’s a word you don’t hear much. 🙂
Nice job with this Brigitte! Ride it till it’s sore! Loved this post!!
Thank you so much Ex-Speed. I will and Happy 2013 to you.
I get what you’re saying. Considering what you’ve recently suffered thanks to Superstorm Sandy coupled with your dad’s health scare you have personally known hell a little too well in recent months so it is important to appreciate the good times in life for you cannot always predict when they might come to a screeching halt. Yet, if there was never any hell in my life, and it was all heavenly and positively inspirational, I’d have absolutely nothing to write about. For me, that would be a whole new kind of hell. Fortunately, I ride the subway and I’m a lowly paid wage slave so it appears that I have a lifetime membership in hell.
Hi V, yes, it’s not been much fun but this is life, at times, I guess. And you are right about that — if things were all sunshine and rainbows all the time, we’d become jaded to the joy. It’s all a balancing thing I’m thinking and how you respond to each that matters. Watch that subway, friend — it’s often dank, pee-smelling and well, you know.
This is a thoughtful and encouraging post. Of course, that is your style. It is hard to express the hell when all we really want is to do is share the heaven. I think you showed exactly how a simple shift can make the difference between the two. I appreciate your willingness to share this.
Hey Honie, why thank you for saying that my friend. I try and thank you for your willingness to read all the way through it! 😉
Of course, I read all the way through it. I can certainly relate to what you said about your ship has been in hell more than a few times.
btw…I’m not sure why it didn’t show up in my feed. If it had, I would have read it yesterday. odd. smiles & hugs!!
Back at you. I’m in a kind of crappy space right now but this too shall pass. Much love. xo
Oh, Brigitte, you deserve the best bitch of a year. I hope it’s an excellent one for you. This is a nice beginning, too, to read this and reflect on it. Life will always have its share of ups and downs, but it’s how your steer the ship. And, you do have to work at it to keep it in line. I’m interested in reading the book you mentioned. Nice piece, Brigitte.
Hey Amy! Thank you and I wish the same for you. So glad you enjoyed my post – if you’ve gained a little inspiration from it, then I must be doing it right! 😉
I’m going to set monthly goals to finish it (my book) already! Thank you and Happy 2013!
First of all, it’s so nice to see you back “online.” I’ve really missed your gentle wisdom and sense of humor. Secondly, I know that 2013 is going to be a wonderful year for you. I think that one of the things that you do so well is to accept what comes and work with it. You’re a great role model in that department. Here’s to a great and happy year.
Cathy, Thank you for the nice welcome – it’s nice to be missed. I don’t know about being a role model but coming from you, that is a huge compliment my friend because you are most certainly that! I hope 2013 will be a GREAT new year for you as well. Xo Brigitte
This was such a wonderful thing to stumble upon first thing in the morning! I love the way that you write and the message that you’re trying to portray. Thank you for the uplifting, and charismatic, post! Can’t wait to read more, best wishes to you.
Hi Charms and thank you! Welcome and thanks so much for following. I’ll have to visit you — love the name of your blog!
Hello Brigitte! You’re very welcome. 🙂 My family and friends have been calling me a gypsy for years. Stop by and you’ll see why! 🙂 I hope you have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll be back to read more soon.