When You're Stuck In The In-Between, Soldier On.

I realized that I needed to breathe after I typed the first few words. I held my breath as I opened the laptop, trying to be braver than I felt. I sucked in two deep open mouth breaths and stared at the screen with it's persistent, blinking cursor. I hope that writing will feel familiar again. Easy. Natural. The cheerful optimist in me expects to have words gliding onto the page as easily as wheels on smooth pavement riding on my imaginary robin's egg blue cruiser bike. The brown wicker basket on the front contains a delightful encouraging bouquet of flowers and a snack of whole natural almonds and gourmet cheeses as I would be hungry after all the exhaustive writing and wheel turning. Together, my thoughts, my words and my freedom could head out on another journey and find the path that is mine alone. With any luck, the bumpy trail will fall away and the writing will silence the negative voices in my head. On the writing road, I'll be able to discern what is *my* truth.

But even before the pedals on my pretend bike make a full rotation, I've hit a pothole and splashed mud on my leg. I've stumbled away from the hope of a good day's ride to listen to Negativity and her best friend, Doubt.

YOU are not a writer. You haven't any talent.

If you were passionate about writing, you would have done it every day.

What's it been - a month now?

You'll ALWAYS make time for what you care about.

Ha-ha, you had to charge your laptop before you could even get started.

It was dead...just like this blog.

Negativity and Doubt aren't completely without merit. Nearly every successful person says that commitment to the task, even with a multitude of distractions will lead to achievement. But I've managed to produce every reason why it wasn't a good time to write, no one is missing my blog anyway and I've let my laptop die....and I almost let my dream die too.

Soldier On, Frantic Finch Friends. Soldier On. 

Soldier On, Frantic Finch Friends. Soldier On. 

Sometimes as raw and painful as it is to write, it's excruciating not to do it at all. The relentless, miserable voices in my head were louder when I wasn't writing. It's a constant nagging, pulling, painful heartache like missing a loved one. It's a buzzing volume that only I could hear and my guilt could feel. It was knowing that eating another piece of Christmas fudge or mindlessly scrolling through Facebook was never going to fill the void or quiet the noise but I chose to suffocate myself with anything but writing. Avoidance was a python crushing the bones of my self-imposed daily structure. I buried my feelings and ignored my desire to write every - single - day.

I gave up.

It got hard. Everything got hard. Life in November went off rails. Heartbreaking news everywhere we went. News feeds and headlines of destruction, violence, death and loss. Wildfires angrily chewed their way throughout the southeast like Sherman through Atlanta. Homes were lost, businesses destroyed, loved ones were missing, animals were scattered and we were all lost. Why this now? Days before Thanksgiving, local school children rode a bus and never made it home because of the horrific crash. The death of children will never be explainable to me so I can't even express Aleppo, Syria. Deaths and violence everywhere. People we know die - family and celebrities. Sadness and so much brokenness. So many lives torn. I was imploding from witnessing all of the pain. Even from a distance, I was feeling it. Living it.

The soft part of me who feel for other people started to harden. A wall grew inside of me. It hurt too much to feel all of the pain so I shut it out. Life's crap happened and I gave up trying. I made excuses. I called it writer's block. I convinced myself that everyone was too busy to read the blog anyway so what's the point? I can't make a connection or a difference if no one reads it so I'll just wait. There's time later. Avoid the headache and aggravation start fresh in the new year.

But let's face it - how many people say that about their goals?

I retreated. I caved. I hid. Fight or flight is my predictable go-to response for nearly everything that overwhelms me. If I fight - it's reckless havoc. I harness almost nothing, hold back minimal amounts and affect everyone around me. It's selfish. Flight of course is the safer, passive aggressive response, but my pent up feelings leak out moody and unstable. I'm miserable with myself and despondency becomes my norm. I shove everyone I love out the front door and slam it shut.

I'm in that weird, uncomfortable in-between place where souls are lost and wander. Searching for their place in the world. Why am I in this time and place when I feel useless here? How am I helping anyone? Why is my existence relevant?

I am the week between Christmas and New Years personified. Maybe you are too. Stuck in the in-between. Maybe we're hanging onto all of the loss that our hands are too full to embrace the gifts and promise of the New Year. We are lost between the coming and going; not sure what to keep and what to let go. We won't release the *how it should be* so we miss the chance to embrace *the what is.* There is peace in the what is right now.

If I am leading my past by the hand, dragging it along as if all that ever happened in my world view is needed in my future. My entire life in luggage piled up and mixed in with the heart-wrenching baggage of other people weighed me down emotionally. This empath couldn't breathe. Everything seemed wrong with the world so I stopped. Instead of carrying the small, more easy to manage memory souvenirs, I was dragging the whole news feed. How can I reach out and grab the future if I'm promoting my own tow bar service?

But I sat down at the laptop and asked God to show up since I did. I prayed, "Lord, I want to write again. If I sit at this keyboard, I need You to be there. I cannot do this without Your help." I wrote. After two hours, I got up to stretch and microwave this mornings leftover coffee. So much for almonds and gourmet cheeses. As I scrolled through the news feed, I felt the heartbreak of every Carrie Fisher fan learning of her death. 2016 took away so many celebrities that their loss seems surreal. Why so many good ones?

Then the Holy Spirit got my attention and made the hair on my arm prickle.

As I was scrolling, my eyes landed on the headline that Richard Adams died. If you don't know his name, you'll know his book Watership Down. His book was made into an animated film in 1978. I was seven years old and it changed me. To this day, this novel is the one children's book that I remember spurring my love of reading and developed my deep compassion for animals. Adams has been quoted as saying: "I just can't do humans" and that resonated with me. Sometimes I can't either. His passing impressed into me an ironic sense of hope. Adams didn't start writing until his was 52. I'm not saying that I'm going to write the next Watership Down, but I do know that God starts working on some people later than others.

Maybe because He's waiting on them to accept His guidance and believe in themselves.

I'm not quite there, but I'm facing the right direction.

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What you seek, seeks you. (Rumi)