Which is heavier? A pound of bricks or a pound of feathers? Well, they both weigh the same, right? Now let’s use each as a metaphor to life’s challenges.
We all go through the same struggles. Regardless of where we came from or our individual level of success. But our ability to work through difficulties depend on the choices we make.
If you consistently make poor choices in life, you end up chipping away at the pound of bricks. Why? Because your decisions have left you with less resources and energy, making obstacles hard to overcome. But if you make smart choices, you can scatter a pound of feathers into the air. The challenges are still difficult but you’ll have better options and more strength to defeat them.
Or maybe you’re looking at your problems as a pound of bricks when they’re really a pound of feathers.
So, if you’re chipping away at those bricks, what choices have you made that led you to that wall? How are you perceiving your obstacles? What can you change now to put you on the path to accomplishing your goal?
Today is another year without my mom to celebrate my birthday. I still have the last card she gave me. I keep it tucked away safely in a storage box with some of her other personal things. A few days ago I pulled it out of the box to read it. I wondered what it would’ve been like if she was still here.
Last year on my birthday, I did cry for her. But this time around, even though I miss her, it wasn’t to the point of sadness. This morning I woke up happy and grateful. Grateful for friends who went out of their way to surprise me with a birthday get-together. And grateful for family to remind me that I am loved.
My birthday turned out the way it was meant to be.
I know I’m supposed to remember your love and not that I lost you. But it’s impossible not to. I don’t get to hear your voice every day. I can’t talk to you about things I’m going through. I will never hear your advice on how to face challenges in life as each year passes.
I see moms and daughters shopping or having dinner together. It reminds me that I can’t spend time with you anymore. I can’t hug and kiss you goodbye until my next visit. I’ll never hear you say “Be careful” as I leave like you always did. And I’ll never get to reply “I will, Mom” like I used to.
I try not to dwell on those things and refocus my thoughts on living the way you expect me to. I’m doing the best I can to find my own way. It’s so hard sometimes because I miss you so much.
It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you died. Or the older I become. I still need you. I am and forever will be your daughter.
I learned how to ride a bike when I was about 6 or 7-years-old. I started riding with training wheels and I think I rode with them for a couple of months. I remember how excited and scared I was when Daddy eventually took them off.
At first, he held onto the seat walking next to me as I slowly pedaled on the sidewalk. It felt strange riding with two wheels instead of four. When he let go I’d lose my balance and fall sideways. Sometimes my bike and I would end up on the ground. Or, if I was lucky I’d land on my feet.
This happened several times but each time I got back on my bike. I was determined to learn how to ride on my own. Then finally, the moment came when Daddy let go one last time and I rode my bike without falling. I was so happy and proud of myself. Daddy seemed to be just as happy too if not more.
I’m very fond of that childhood memory. It was one of the few times in my life where I didn’t let fear hold me back. I didn’t let fear stop me from performing a clarinet solo in front of judges in middle school and high school. Nor did I let it stop me from joining the military. It was something I was able to control until my mom passed away. I was so weakened by grief that the trauma fed my unguarded fears. I let fear hold me back from my true self and creative identity.
When I decided I had enough with fear, I began reading several personal development and self-help books. I wanted to write about my personal journey but I was afraid of allowing myself to be vulnerable. I was afraid of what people might think. I didn’t feel confident that my writing would be good enough.
One of the books that started me on the path to facing my fears was Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown. Daring Greatly is based on Brown’s research on vulnerability. She explains how our fear of vulnerability limits us from meaningful relationships and opportunities in life. From reading her a book, I realized I needed to change how I viewed my own fear of being vulnerable. It took a lot of soul searching but it eventually led me to start this blog.
Fear still creeps in sometimes when I write about my thoughts and experiences. But it’s power over me is not as strong as it used to be. I’m still learning and growing. Most importantly, I am grateful for this journey.
The last several days were a little rough on me. I kept replaying in my head the pain I struggled through during the last month of my mom’s life. I became very moody and sometimes felt angry. It was like the light had left me for a while. I did what I had to do to get through each day.
Mom was under hospice care at home towards the end of her life. In that last week she was unresponsive and I’d sit next to her bedside every day. Sometimes I’d talk to her about anything that came to mind. Mostly small talk about the weather or what I did while I was out in town. I just wanted to talk to her like any normal day. I was sure that she could still hear me. At least I wanted to believe that she could.
One day, I just sat there holding her hand while watching her chest rise and fall with each slow, deep breath. At the same time, I was making a silent bargain with God. If he’d take away her cancer and let her live, he could take me instead. It wasn’t fair. She deserved to live. Mom was finally happy again after a tough divorce a few years prior to her illness. She had a new life, a new home, and marriage. Besides, I reasoned that my brother needed her more than me. I was willing to make that sacrifice.
Reliving the pain was emotionally draining but all I could do was work through it until it finally passed. By the end of last week, I was ready to take it easy on myself. I usually turn to music when I’m going through a tough time or just to relax. So on Saturday, I decided to put on some music while I did a few chores around my apartment.
I like all kinds of music and I was in the mood to listen to country. An old song in particular just happened to pop into my head out of the blue. I haven’t heard this song in years but for some reason, my gut was telling me to play it. While I listened to “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, the lyrics moved me to tears. I first heard this song when it was released several years ago. But back then in my early twenties, I had yet to experience a major loss in my life.
“The Dance” is a simple song but to me, it’s a beautiful metaphor for life. When you experience all that life has to offer it includes both the good and the bad. Love and happiness don’t exist without sorrow. Yet we still dare to love knowing it could end, despite not knowing how or when that end will take place.
I don’t know if my mom has ever heard the song but I know she would have loved it. It’s exactly the type of song she would’ve sung on karaoke night at her favorite bar. Maybe it was just a coincidence that I had to hear this song after my short relapse. But I’ll take it as a reminder to try and do the best I can to fully live and enjoy the dance.