Getting Out of the Boat….. Again

Almost six years ago, on November 16, 2012, I posted a story dear to my heart – “To Walk on Water You Gotta First Get Out of the Boat”—in which I shared a photograph of my mother, my brother, and me taken 58 years ago in Canada. We stopped at a roadside stand selling small wooden boats and purchased 2 of them. In the picture, my mother is holding one of the boats in her hand.

I wrote: “I still have that boat and it sits on my fireplace mantel but it represents more than a trip to Canada. It represents the strength one gains by being willing to “step out of the boat”.

The “step out of the boat” comment stems from my attachment to the Bible story about the Apostle Peter being in a boat and seeing Christ walking towards him…. on water. Peter wants to walk to Christ and steps out on the water to do so. As long as his eyes are on Jesus he does fine, but when he looks at the waves and feels the wind, he panics and begins to sink.

I find myself thinking about Peter—it must have taken courage to take that initial step—to get out of the boat. After all, he was “safe” there.

And I wonder—how did he get out—did he jump impetuously? Did he slowly swing one foot over and then keep one foot in the boat—hedging his bets, so to speak. Did he stand and then hold on to the boat for a few minutes—testing his ground?

That thought … being willing to step out of the boat… was a guiding principle for me for many years after my divorce.  As I began the process of creating a new life as a single woman, I realized it would involve risk… and change…. and uncertainties.

I wanted to be an adventurer but I knew it would involve taking chances and was I really willing to do so?

After my divorce, I did step out of the boat… I traveled to Europe…. took on additional job responsibilities ….  had “Nana days” with my grandchildren ….. created a home in a new place …. and in the process of trying new things, I became stronger… I grew into a woman who realized her worth and loved her life.

Then came 2015 and I faced a dramatic “out of the boat” moment when my fiancé abruptly ended our engagement—In that case, I felt as if I was thrown out of the boat into raging waters.

I did not drown but I did not walk on water either—I pulled myself back into the boat and have spent the last 3 years sitting in my boat—and whereas I have worked at trying to create a new life—my desire for security and stability have kept me safe and dry inside the boat.

It is true I took on some challenges—a new part-time job—handled hip replacement surgery—found a new church home and made new friends—but I can honestly say I have been playing it safe.  I have been lulled by the daily routine and sameness of my life—I have been drifting along in my boat—and watching the shore go by—day by day.

I have recently been asking myself the same questions I asked in 2012…..“What I am not stepping out and trying to do differently?  And why?”

I have come to realize my need to step out of the boat is not driven by a desire for more “busyness” or something dramatic as “climbing Mt. Everest” but it is more a search for mindful awareness when making choices—of being intentional in my looking for and trying new opportunities—of realizing that if a door has closed then I need to look for the open door—and to not be willing to settle for the status quo.

I have many friends who are in my age range and they are floundering. They struggle with thoughts of “this is not how I thought my life would turn out”.  Their lives are, in comparison to many, not bad lives… they are not touched by tragedy or poverty but frankly… not much in their day to day life appeals to them.

They know they want a change in their life but the problem is…..they don’t really know what they want to do. They have more personal freedom yet are dealing with the inertia that comes from being depressed or from going through the motions of the same old routines. Taking risk—trying something new—seems scary and involves too much energy.

I understand that. My personal boats from the past involved things such as always wanting approval from others or wanting to please others; I used excuses to rationalize not being brave or bold; and it was be easy to be intimidated by fear and doubt triggered by “what ifs”.

Yet, 6 years later I understand the danger of letting those boats chart the course of your life. I have personally seen the power and strength that comes from getting out of your boat and taking a step out onto the unknown waters.

What about you, dear reader…… As I listed my boats, were some familiar to you? Or, do you have others that control your choices…. prevent you from taking steps that might enrich your life? If so, what are you willing to do about them?

I do not believe God created us to be boring creatures merely going through the motions of life but instead wants us to be people who appreciate the glory of the world around us; who are open to finding joy in the ordinary; and who will share our love and lives with others.

So….. once again, I am getting ready to make and look for choices that will involve my being willing to try new things—to look for new opportunities—whether they be large or small—and in the process, I know I will become a stronger woman who will have a renewed enthusiasm for life.

And…. some final thoughts for my son, Chris…..

I will confess it seems a bit harder now than 6 years ago. I am older and making changes—even small ones—to my day to day life seems a little more daunting. I am not even sure what kind of changes I should make. But this much I know…..  I cannot continue to sit safely in my boat and drift quietly along.

I think it is finally time to get out of the boat….. again.

But Chris….. keep the swimmies close by….. just in case I need a hand……

 Love,

Mom

 A note about the pictures below: I decided I wanted to include the original 1960 photo and then a current photo of me with the boat.  As I am single and I would not usually ask my neighbors to take a random photo of me holding a small wooden boat, I needed to take a selfie.

 Do you have any idea how IMPOSSIBLE it is to take a SOMEWHAT DECENT selfie holding a wooden boat?

 As I struggled with the various poses and looked in horror at most of the photos, I soon developed a strong case of the giggles. One laugh led to another and my sense of humor took over as you can tell by the pictures below. I am sure you can come up with some interesting captions.

 I have toyed with stepping out of the boat (in January) and giving on-line dating a try. Perhaps I should use some of these pictures instead of the more traditional photos……. But then again……. maybe not?

 jfh

1960 – Please note my adorable matching outfit

1960 052C 311 1960 J & J Mom Wood Boats (Large)

2018 – Me and the Boat – the best picture although the hair is a bit messed up

2018-10-28 01

The Rejects……. but maybe could use on eHarmony or Match?  My photos would certainly be a bit different??!!

2018-10-28 02

2018-10-28 03a

2018-10-28 04

2018-10-28 05

2018-10-28 06

 

 

 

 

Reflections on a Duct Taped Charlie Brown Christmas Tree

The annual tradition of finding my perfect Charlie Brown (CB) Christmas tree began in 2011 when my granddaughter joined me on this quest.  I had moved into a condo after my divorce and had given away my large tree, so I decided to get a small (aka Charlie Brown) tree. She helped me choose the perfect table top tree.

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Being Thankful for Endings that Turn into Beginnings

On Sunday, November 19th, I celebrated Thanksgiving with my son and his family by hosting a Thanksgiving brunch at my home. To add to the joy, my grandchildren (ages 8 and 5) spent the night with me which included S’mores, hot chocolate, and stories before bedtime. It was an evening filled with love and laughter.

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The Challenge of Stillness

My priest, Kenneth Swanson at St. David’s Episcopal Church, offers a course called “Spiritual Direction” in which one learns the purpose of prayer and how to pray. The course is not for the faint of heart. Participants meet twice a month for two hours from September to May. There is one hour of small group conversation followed by a one-hour lecture by Ken.

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Killing the Cockroach of Fear

Now that my grandson has begun kindergarten, Nana-Days have changed to Nana-Afternoons. I pick him up at his bus-stop at 2:40 PM—we scurry to my house—play, read, have dinner—then I zip him home by 7 PM for his family time. It is a bit hectic but it is still treasured time.

Recently I picked him up for our Nana-Afternoon and when he got off the bus, the conversation went like this: (GS = Grandson; N = Nana).

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When Life Gives You a Hole in the Hedge, You…….

You know all those cutesy, positive sayings such as “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”? Well, when I hear those sayings, my reaction depends entirely on my mood and the drama in my life at the moment.

If it is a good day, I smile and think how wonderful it is to keep a positive attitude. If it is a bad day, I glare and find myself thinking…. “Hah—I don’t like lemonade. What a stupid and annoying thought that is” and other bla bla bla.

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Standing at Crossroads ……. and Trying to Make the Right Choice

Have you ever stood physically at a crossroad?

Perhaps you were driving and got lost (although with GPS that is less likely) and had to decide which way to turn. Making the right decision is important because if you make the wrong one, you could go miles out of your way. Even worse… once you realize your mistake, you may have to backtrack past the same countryside or traffic filled streets all the way back to where you started.

But some crossroads are not physical—they are life-decision crossroads.

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