When the collective issues in life form the perfect storm, I feel my energy being used to feed the pulsating anxiety.  Taking a simple deep breath relieves the pressure building within the captive walls of responsibility.

I don’t think I can write today.  My brain is running its last leg of the marathon.  Time to submit to my inability to rise above it all, and accept that words may not come.

The years have trained me, taught me, and honed my skills in coping.  However, some days knock the wind clear out of you. 

And now, a memory is awakened from that precise feeling.

No matter how I want to give in to the self-pity courting me all day, I recognize there must be a lesson buried deep in the mess. 

The love of a savior, cannot be denied.  It exists in the actions of humans who act selflessly, and quickly to save another without judgment.  On a grand scale, our paramedics and firefighters live exemplifying this self-sacrificing spirit.  And it extends to surprising moments as life plays out on the field.

Follow me on a flashback to the baseball field of my high school.  I may have thought something of myself then; I believe I was seeking the attention of certain boys.  I was with friends, unsuspectingly laughing and socializing, while the game plays on, too busy to look up.  And thus, I didn’t see him running at me.

He lunged at me sending me sailing off the bench, onto the ground and landed on top of me.  He was rather bulky and from my immature perspective clearly nerdy.  All I could do was scream, “Get off me, now!  What are you doing? Eewww!”  I may have used some other derogatory language as well. 

I was devastated by the embarrassment.  He stuttered as he tried to explain.  Briskly, I nixed his plea for reconciliation and sent him away in my anger.  And so it was left to my friends to run through the instant replay with me, and share the story behind the scene. 

There was a screeching baseball aiming straight for my head.  Miraculously this boy, the target of my recent malice, raced to reach me, knocking me to the ground to save me, as the ball sailed unhindered overhead.  Even now, I shudder when I think of what could have happened if that 75 mph ball actually met my head.  Yet, at that time, my thankless disgust was all he received for his heroic act.

This boy didn’t consider his ego, how I would react, or even his own safety.  He didn’t even know me.  His heroistic nature sparked his leap to rescue me from a dire situation.

Saviors exist in everyday life modeling the ultimate saving grace.  And recognizing my blessings even today, with humble gratitude, I thank those in my life who have come to my aid, even if undeserved.    

While I sit here staring at the words I’m typing on my computer display, wondering why I can’t write today, I finally look up.

-Erika K Rothwell

Musical Masterpiece

Musical Masterpiece

Musical Masterpiece

Somedays, I sit and wonder what to write.  Other days, the idea insists that it be written.  It is unscheduled, unplanned and interrupts the day’s agenda.

I hear the words from yesterday and can’t help believing, they are a powerful representation of life.  They were innocently said, with unintended consequences, yet a dance in my mind began when recalled…

My husband was complaining that he didn’t have his earbuds, so I retorted, “I can be your music if you let me sing.”  It sounded humorous, and without another thought, the moment passed.  But the words called for a repeat performance, in my mind and heart.  The depth of meaning in those passing words pined for acknowledgment. 

In the second act, later that night, I was excited to share with my son that I had come up with a new quote.  His exact response was, “That’s great, but that’s already a quote.”  In disbelief, I immediately questioned, “I don’t think so, who said it?”.  He shot back, “Dr. Seuss…I know it because I love all his quotes!”  Now, here is when I defended my originality with my fullest armor on, “No way, he did not!” and I was victorious. He backed down and laughed.  He admitted he was just making it up.  Now, the paradox emerges.

My disillusion was in believing my artistic creation was entirely new.  Words have existed so much longer than any of us.  Words create a timeless imprint in this world.  They may not create a new world, but perhaps a new window. 

The view from each window is dramatically altered by the perspective of each viewer.  My heart should have been singing because my son immediately found warmth and love in my words, reminding him of words by Dr. Seuss, one of the greatest word masters ever.  Yet, my inflated ego chose to focus on protecting my personal, yet insignificant discovery of a word puzzle.  For all I knew, it was written somewhere already. 

But right now, for me, these simple words are alive, capturing moments like an episodic drama series, one leading to another, and keeping me guessing the entire time.   The next episode begins on queue.

As I visit with my social group, I realize we often bring the story back to ourselves in an attempt to connect to one another.  For example, how many times do we say, “Yeh, that happened to me when…”  Perhaps, unlike it appears, self-centered words are not entirely centered on self, but rather are an attempt to bring us together on the same page.  It could be said, our similar experiences bind our humanness; but our unique perspectives create the ultimate connection.

Alternatively, have you ever found yourself trying to persuade someone to see an issue from your perspective when they are not interested?  Have you ever felt that someone wants to change who you are, to become more like them?  Have you ever stopped someone from singing, because they didn’t do it well, or you didn’t know the song? 

No matter who we are or what insecurities plague us, we all desire to be someone’s music and be heard. This can only happen when we truly connect through our differences. 

Thanks for letting me sing!

-Erika K Rothwell

Potty Mouth

Potty Mouth

Potty Mouth

I’m here again,  trying to practice the art of consistency.  This awakens a strange memory, teaching my kids to change the toilet paper roll.  I’m not sure why I made such a lesson out of such a mundane task.  This memory is shared by my grown daughter, who now holds a master’s degree and is an R.D., (Registered Dietician).  Although I question whether I had anything to do with her success at all, she repeatedly tells me one of the reasons is because I taught her “to be the person” to change the toilet paper roll.

It seems like such a simple task but undertaken by so few.  The opportunity exists to consistently be the one.  This brings me to a stark realization; consistency doesn’t require a master’s degree, but a master’s degree requires consistency.  I watched my daughter grow and achieve by her consistent efforts to overcome the challenges and obstacles she faced.  There were times she grew weary and yet she pushed forward. 

Today, I am the student, still practicing.  I taught the lesson, but did I grasp its true meaning?  The lesson lies in recognizing opportunities to grow beyond the norm, pushing limits of established comfort zones, and not expecting someone else to do the work.  Yes, It’s difficult to keep showing up and consistently deliver results.  Planning is one thing, results need action. 

When a student signs up for a course, yet never attends class or studies for the exam, they most likely will fail.  It’s great fun to sign up, but when it comes time to do the work, do we show up?  

When life rushes by and excuses pile up, consistency itself becomes a monumental task.  Once again, I am reminded to consider the question, Can I make something happen when life keeps happening? 

Oh, the overwhelming weight of my realizations could derail me at this very moment.  However, I choose to stay present and continue sharing.  And now let me take you back to the toilet paper story.

At an early age, I had to teach myself how to change the toilet paper.  I was not prepared for the real world, having been cared for in an extremely protective manner.  There were days when I felt paralyzed, and it clearly showed in my inaction.  The more I sat, the worse I felt about my inability to accomplish.  The day came when I realized I may not be able to accomplish great things, but I can feel great about accomplishing small things.  The help came in words written by Helen Keller,  “I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”  And thus the lesson of the most seemingly insignificant task on this planet, changing the toilet paper roll, was born. 

We teach our children what we have learned, in hopes that they embrace the message and it helps them reach greater heights than we could.  So the lesson was told as follows, “If you change the toilet paper any time and anywhere it is needed, you will have achieved something greater than most.  For how many times, have you come upon an empty roll?   That was someone leaving the job to you.  If you do this seemingly trivial chore, you will be able to achieve great things in life.”

Many other repetitive duties remind me of the importance of these words.  These tiny tasks are the cornerstone of our character.  Each time, I’m able to value an ostensibly insignificant task with an appreciation for how it helps me grow, I feel more capable. 

That humble lesson leads me here today, taking action by writing at my desk, and sharing what I know, in hopes that it may help you consistently grow and accomplish all the great things!

-Erika K Rothwell

Arranging Life

Arranging Life

Arranging Life

Why is everything in life such an arrangement?  This morning I find myself arranging my workspace more than I find myself working in my space.  Contemplating the amount of time and focus spent on arranging my life, I start to believe the greatest enjoyment is granted within this creative process. 

The word arrangement is used in our language to describe artistic creations like flower arrangements and musical arrangements.  

The positive artist in me always strives to display a dazzling arrangement in every part of my life, precisely why I spend countless hours in the activity.  One definition of arrangement reads “a combination of things to make up a design.”  That’s it, the design actually requires arrangement! 

My feelings of inadequacy clearly marked the beginning of this day, as I negatively viewed my inability to begin writing.  As the past has taught me, you can’t change your nature, but you can change your view of yourself.  This is a written reminder of how negative self-talk can be transformed into grace and positivity, simply by considering another angle.  Each day we have the choice to talk ourselves down or build ourselves up. 

Today I have discovered, arranging can help in overcoming insecurities and lead us forward.  If we focus on the best ‘things’ to make up our design, using a hopeful and graceful attitude, life can become a beautiful arrangement.

– Erika K Rothwell