Sunday, June 17, 2012

The Bitter Taste of Humble Pie

I made a commitment before I left for Colorado in 1999, I reaffirmed it while living there, and I sort of followed through on it: I will return to Kentucky only if and when my parents needed me. That time came in 2009. After my return, I buried my mom and fled to Evansville for the comfort of another man’s arms. When that didn’t work out so well, I moved to Newburgh, closer to Owensboro I thought but eventually realizing not close enough. This realization in addition to my life “falling” apart, I finally decided I wanted to go home. The internal urge to go home to Owensboro, a town in which I loathed living, felt surprisingly strong considering I couldn't leave fast enough to get away from Dad after mom died. Everything about my life seemed to be pushing me in this direction: a failed business attempt everyone supported but few utilized; a humiliating relationship that offered me comfort on the front-end of grief, but misery on the back-end once reality set in; disappointing friendships that challenged my sense of self, my value system, and my drama-free zone, and; unsuccessful efforts in securing a meaningful job in Evansville. Okay, God, I get it! I surrender to thy guiding will. I returned home to Owensboro.

This decision was greeted with the taste of bitter humble pie. And to think I considered the loss of my job in Colorado, the loss of my mom, and the loss of my life I’d known for ten years as the dismantling of who I am. Ha! Little did I know it was the prologue for much deeper personal and spiritual renovation! Humble pie tasted like shit but I ate it anyway. I had to in order to figure out my life. Gratitude became the daily sweetener I used in which to get each bite down. First order of business was finding a job, anything that brought income because I had none. A part-time job at JCPenney blessed my life, and so I had something to do, a way to contribute. I remembered why I hated retail sales but I sucked it up and did it anyway. I gave thanks every day and looked for whatever I could find within it as opportunity. I continued to search for full-time work. I danced with despair and disappointment but quickly replaced them with optimism so I may continue moving forward. Job prospects were slim in Owensboro, but the more I leaned into gratitude for my JCP job, the easier each day got.

Then in August, US Bank Home Mortgage (USBHM) called. A $9 per hour, rigid 8-5 job at a desk doing one thing and one thing only, this position was a far cry from my $55K per year and flex schedule I enjoyed in Colorado. Yet another bite of humble pie I took. Again, I offered genuine gratitude to God, and expressed it to myself and to anyone who asked how I was doing. The USBHM position allowed me to do what I love: write. Yeah, it was writing letters in response to insurance questions or complaints, and for the most part, they were stock responses but they got the “Ferber touch” as much as USBHM would allow me to put on them. I had a purpose and that felt good. I leaned into it and this new career opportunity.  For three months I wrote letters. I had no idea where this job would take me; I couldn’t pursue any other position within USBHM relevant to my professional background for a year. Dad envisioned my becoming a corporate woman working my way up the ladder. I didn’t but I never closed my mind to that being a possibility.

Suddenly in my third month, I received a surprising email from Wendell Foster’s Campus asking me to return to discuss the job I’d interviewed for back in April. After months of “touching base” with them, I finally accepted the job wasn’t happening when I finally received no response, that is until mid-October. Expecting a conversation about the position changes, I found myself in a second interview! A week later I’m asked to pee in a cup. Another week later, I’m offered the position, and USBHM received my two week notice. I felt the gratitude erupt within me like I’d never felt it. Hope replaced the despair and disappointments of the past.

This new position allows me to do my heart’s work: to serve others in a significant and meaningful way. This life purpose and my continual focus on it moved me through challenging customers at JCP and hateful insurance complaint letters at USBHM. As long as I kept my focus on it, the darkness of despair couldn't completely dim my light and joy, hard as it tried. Humble pie became bluebird pie spiced with joy. Despite my circumstances, I fulfilled my life's purpose through my conscious focus on it.

In this last year I stripped myself of professional arrogance and pride,and let go of all the resentment towards the bumpy road I'd traveled since my return to Kentucky and towards those who were a part of that ride. I’d blamed everything and everyone but it was me who made those choices, me who held the perception and beliefs about it all, and me who created my own reality and experience as a result. Arrogance, pride, resentment, anger, all these and other pain-causing feelings are how our human Ego holds us hostage in struggle, drama, and unhappiness in our life. When I finally let go and chose gratitude despite only having fifty bucks to my name, and forgiveness of myself and others for the bumpy path I traveled, the light of gratitude, joy, and abundance broke through the darkness of despair.

Today I continue to focus on serving others with my gifts and abilities. Some days I slip and my attention wanders to worldly things, but I consciously remember and diligently practice daily the attitude of gratitude, love, joy and centering through meditative practices. I remember God’s got my back as long as I let go of controlling everything, and surrender myself to God’s will and guidance. When I stay in this zone, I’m led down a beautiful path upon which to journey. And everyday I give thanks for all that’s been and for all those a part of it, all that is now, and all that shall be.

Yes, even the humble pie.

I Finally Cried "Uncle!"

It’s been a year since I returned to Owensboro, at which time I moved in with my father who had the house and farm on the market. The move-in was “temporary.” A year later, I remain here as my dad decides whether he is ready to sell the place or not. He pushes through the Parkinson’s disease and the challenging demands it places on his aging body. Dad knows his limits, and he takes rest breaks, but the work he does, he loves. The homestead has been his life; thus, to sell it means his life in some ways ends. As long as he handles the tasks physically, I anticipate he will remain, though he admits its getting to be too much. I expect he'll see the place through before selling in the spring; of course, he said that last year. Time will tell.

Living with Dad challenges me but offers me the opportunity to do some healing within our father-daughter relationship. Ours is not the warm and fuzzy father-daughter relationship seen on “The Brady Bunch.” The teen years involved a lot of yelling and crying. College years provided space to be who I wanted to be, bully-free. Young adult years smoothed out and the relationship seemed better; however, the older I've gotten, the more independent-minded I am, marching to the beat of my own drum. Doing so didn't set well with my dad though he kept his tongue for the most part. During mom’s illness, our estranged relationship intensified as if under a microscope in the midst of the stress. I was treated like I was sixteen again, and amazingly, I responded as if I was sixteen again. What the heck? I felt little support from dad during and after mom's illness, but then, he was a grieving widower himself, so that I accepted.

I made choices after mom’s passing that widened the chasm between us, mainly because dad expected me to act accordingly to his expectations. I wasn’t who he wanted me to be, and honestly, I was floundering as I made poor choices in effort to soothe the pain of my grief and loss. Upon realization of my situation, created completely by my own choices, I recognized the need to cry “Uncle” to the Universe as my dire circumstances came to bear. I was miserable in Indiana. I felt too far away from dad and everything in my life seemed to be falling apart. I felt the spiritual guidance to go home to Owensboro, the very place I eagerly left after high school. Doing so meant I would eat a great deal of crow when talking to my dad about my situation. I needed his support in these dire straits so I could sort things out, but I also felt a burning need to be closer to him. I’m sure Dad saw things from the former perspective, especially since he once stated his belief that the reason I came home to Kentucky in 2009 was only because I lost my job in Colorado! His accusation cut me to the quick and even deeper in my heart since mom was dying. Again, I had to let that and all of his narrow-minded beliefs of who I am go. He doesn’t know me, and at the time of this transition, hell, I didn’t know who I was either!

Through the last year, I’ve woke up from what felt like a bad dream. I had several “Come to Jesus” meetings with myself about my choices, coming clean that I acted with my head and emotion, not with my heart or out of God's guidance. I’ve let go of the story about my woeful sacrifice of leaving my life in Colorado, my friends, all that I knew to come home to see to my mom and dad. I’ve let go of my story about how undervalued I and my professional expertise is in this area. I’ve let go of my story of financial woes and hard luck, and how no one in this area appreciates me. I’ve let go of my story of true love turning into a nightmare of shattered love caused by a heartless and damaged man. And I’m still working on shedding a few more stories: the story of being the unappreciated and disrespected daughter; the story of hopelessness of ever finding my “Prince Charming” in this area who gets me, is like-minded, appreciates me, values me; the story of how I'm a misfit, out of place where “normal” is "abnormal" compared to life I knew in Colorado. I realized I made myself a "martyr" when I tell these stories; I decided not to live as a victim as many do when they whine and tell their sob stories of hurt and how they were wronged.

I am grateful to my father and his support during this time to grow, to heal, and to expand upon who I am and “what's next.” I’m grateful to spend time in the place I’ve called home for more than forty years and its sanctuary to remember and heal my youth and young adult experiences in this seemingly foreign place after a twenty-six year absence. I value every moment I can have at the only address I’ve ever lived here in Owensboro before its gone from my life forever.

I recently considered moving into my own place, a reality not too far off into the future, but I struggled with the decision. After struggling for a week or more around it, I remembered during a meditation that decisions from my heart are easy to make. If I'm struggling to make this decision, and its not feeling right, chances are it’s not the right choice right now. In making decisions, I'm learning to follow my heart while many tend to follow their head and popular opinion. With a dose of practicality offered by my head, I follow my heart first because more often than not, decisions made based on emotion and my head lead me down the path of heartache and struggle, as clearly evident from my choices since my mom passed.

I'm happy where I am right now, and my heart knows it is temporary. I offer dad company, help around this big house and sometimes in the yard when he lets me. He offers me company, support as I recover from three years of financial setbacks, and the opportunity to figure out how I can participate and contribute in this community. I'm available to him at a moment's notice which offers me greater comfort and peace in fulfilling my commitment to see him through his transitional years. And I'm given the opportunity to heal, even strengthen our relationship; to create a new kind of relationship between us that allows me my voice and heart as my father's forty-eight year old daughter.

Life is good with few bumps along the way but that's Life. My heart is peaceful and God blesses me with opportunities and guidance to move forward in my journey in such a way that honors both myself, and my father in his final phase of life.

Friday, June 1, 2012


The concept of friendships has been at the forefront of my contemplations of late. Loss of friendships; the meaning of friendships; the missing of friendships; and the revival of friendships past all have been on the radar this last year. Friendship has been a recurring theme of my healing and growth. Life is ever-changing and friendships are no exception to change. 
I’ve lost a few friendships this year that left me wondering if they were truly healthy friendships. Through the loss I’ve gained a greater clarity and understanding of what a meaningful friendship represents to me. I can count on a few fingers how many friendships I’ve lost over situations that simply didn’t get resolved to the point of animosity. No reason exists for the inability to find respectful resolution other than resentment and grudges (which typically reflect self-righteousness and arrogant pride) by one or both parties involved, through the failure to communicate, disrespect, lack of consideration of another person’s feelings, or simply a need to have things seen or be one’s way. My spiritual life coach often comments on how incredibly self-reflective I am, willing and able to look at every angle of a situation, even from others’ point of view. I do so sometimes to the point of over-analyzing and/or taking on too much responsibility in any given situation. Thankfully, I’ve been provided with support systems that gently say, “Snap out of it!” when I go down that path of bearing too much of the cross. I’ve learned to take responsibility for my actions and mine alone, while restraining the “rescuer” and "pushover" in me from taking on everyone stuff. Out of these losses, I’ve keenly become more aware of my own value system, and how I adopted and participated in friendships that were out of alignment with these values. Through this reflection, I’ve learned to raise the bar on what a meaningful friendship is for me, how I reflect that as a friend, and how others reflect it to honor and respect who I am as well.

In this effort, I’ve gained a friendship that exemplifies the new found understanding of the aforementioned lesson learned. Within this friendship exists many differences, yet we manage them with reverent love and respect. We don’t always see eye-to-eye but we discuss those differences without either of us needing to be right or making the other person wrong. We beautifully dance together among the differences sans self-righteousness, selfishness, and demands that expectations be met, creating a harmoniously coordinated movement through times of disagreement and challenge. In that dance, we developed trust to speak our individual truths without persecution or punishment aimed at the other. This trust deeply anchors our connection and loyalty as we support each other in trying times. We honor each others' need for space without insecurity or compromised senses-of-self. This friendship reflects and encourages multifaceted opportunities in which our friendship welcomes varying interests, other friends with whom we connect and socialize without either needing to be an integral part of it in the name of insecurity or control. This new found friendship is built on a solid foundation that is nurtured every single day with care, selflessness, respect, trust, and unconditional love and support.

I’ve also missed friendships I left behind in Colorado this year, like-minded friendships steeped in the spiritual essence of who I am at the core of my being: peaceful, joyous, loving, harmonious, compassionate, spiritual, and caring. These beautiful friendships of feminine divine connectedness reflect love, self-confidence, selflessness, and goddess beauty; not jealousy, melodrama, victimization, competition for attention, or cattiness. Coming together for community involves sharing of a few glasses of wine, good food, laughter and whimsical musings. These friendships feed the soul, leaving one filled with vibrant energy, not feeling drained or exhausted. My beautiful spiritual sisters from Colorado inspire, motivate and cheer each other on, listen attentively in support, allow each other space to be who we are, and render freely unconditional love and acceptance no matter the situation. Finding such friendships are rare as the gemstones of black opal or red beryl emerald, and they are to be handled with care, tenderly as the precious treasures they are. 

Finally, I’ve revived a past friendship that somewhere along life’s path faded like a ship into the night. This friendship was truly a gift from God upon my arrival to Colorado thirteen years ago as I started a new life in a strange place as a stranger to everything and everyone. A recent blog post about my journey into my new life flushed this friendship from the past after several years of disconnect, a loss I mourned at the time. This friendship exemplified a sisterhood in which we hung out, had fun but also laid our hearts out to share our deepest worries, fears, and greatest dreams; again, no drama,
no angst, no pity parties. The foundation of this friendship was solid, evident upon the recent reunion via email in which despite the years and the many life changes we’ve added to our ticker tape of experience, the rhythm of the friendship fell into its original place of trust, just like old times. 

Like the root base of a tree, the foundation of a friendship determines the strength, the durability, the depth, and the longevity of the connection and its quality. Without the roots of trust, open and healthy communication, respect, integrity, sacred reverence, and unconditional love and acceptance, a friendship cannot withstand the times of change, bumps and challenges. These characteristics I seek in any relationship, but most especially that of my friendships. I honor all the beautiful people within my friendships from the past, present, and those yet to be, for they are my soul mates teaching me, challenging me to expand my soul and its Light in this life. All with whom I’ve traveled the road of friendships I send love, blessings and gratitude for teaching me who I am. Thank you.