It’s that time again…

It's that time again... by Keri Kettle

I was listening to a news story about the families in Northern California who have lost their homes and businesses in the wildfires.  The microphone found one man, described as someone who escaped with nothing but his family and what they had thrown in to their car before evacuating. He was asked how it feels to lose everything as he was sitting in a Red Cross evacuation shelter.

He said, “I don’t choose to be defined by this.  It’s something we have to get through, and we will, but this disaster doesn’t define who I am.”

This simple statement had me in tears.  To lose all your stuff, to be faced with rebuilding your life from nothing – and to start from a place of deciding that you don’t choose to be defined by a fire.  To start from that intention is a gift.

My husband and I joke that we lost all of our stuff “in the fire”.  We didn’t actually have a fire, we each got divorced. We lost a lot of stuff.  It takes a while to remember that some of your stuff is gone.  You go to find that one whisk or your favorite hammer and then you remember that it’s not yours any more.  It can piss you off, if you let it.  Losing things in a fire feels less loaded with emotion and bitterness than losing them in a divorce.  Plus, it makes us giggle. As Anne Lamott says, “laughter is carbonated holiness”.

We choose to laugh when we can, we choose to sit with those that need an ear to listen and we choose not to let the difficult things that have happened to us define the rest of our life. We choose pleasure. We choose to define our own happily ever after.

There is absolutely a time to weep and grieve and pull the covers over our heads.

There is also a time to peek out from under the duvet and notice that the sun still shows up every morning, the birds still sing and a steaming mug of coffee on a cold morning is a delight within our reach.

Each day you get to choose.  You might need some grieving time this week and if you find yourself giggling or making jokes in the midst of grief – that’s okay.  If your pleasure takes the form of quiet and stillness, it is no less valuable than throwing your head back with laughter over margaritas.  Our hearts are tricky beasts.  Our minds get in the way sometimes.  Our bodies let us down from time to time (I’m looking at you, cellulite and headaches).

Even yet, we are still beautiful and still capable of choosing pleasure, joy and beauty each day – even on the days when we are standing in the muck.  Your open heart is beautiful.  Your mind has the capacity for noticing so much beauty all around you.  Your physical body is a work of art (even if the stretch marks make me resemble a Jackson Pollock painting a bit more than I’d like).

In case you forgot, you are beautiful.  Choose pleasure.  Pass it on.

Please share your thoughts.