Hope – The Fuel of Courage

Hope – The Fuel of Courage

“And one has to understand that braveness is not the absence of fear, but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.” — Paulo Coelho

Slowly, I trudge on.  Fear tries to stop me in my tracks.  When I speak of fear, it’s not panic or fright dreading something horrible.  Rather, an uneasiness that lightly gnaws at my confidence causing me to believe that perhaps I may be a little too bold to tread in a world of unknown outcomes with only hope in my backpack.

My writing has grown from the seeds of momentary epiphanies to an appreciation so great, I desire to encourage and inspire with insight.  This monumental endeavor creates small episodic heart flutters and vague insecurity.  From a past of seeking accomplishment for recognition, my concern is remaining authentic on all levels.  

Yes, we all write what we know, but some days I feel I just don’t know.

This unknowing creates a stumbling block that could potentially grow into a mountain.  It is here where I seek to encourage myself with words of resilience and put fear where it belongs, buried by hope. And so, I have reset courage and continue my journey.

– Erika K Rothwell

Hope for the Best – Day 6

Hope for the Best – Day 6

It is Day 6 of my hope journey.  The struggle exists to continue focusing on hope.  There was a time in my life when I forgot to hope, gave up on dreaming, and fell down a deep dark rabbit hole.  

There appeared to be no escape.  My fate was sealed.  I was a horrible person who deserved no remorse.  The judgment I dealt myself was harsher than imaginable.  I lost hope because I forgot to believe in a power stronger than myself.

My power ran out.  There was no battery or charger.  Energy could not sustain my desire to fight.  There appeared to be no me and I was hopeless.

Love brought me back to hope.  And hope brought me back to believing that we are all loved, and every day is a new day to hope.  We are not alone.

The more I tried to control my life, the more I lost control.  And so I learned it is from a place of humble acceptance of what exists that hope is discovered.   I’m here for a reason other than my survival.  My gifts were granted me to be shared with others. 

This does not require grandiose or newsworthy actions.  It may mean only a smile directed to another at the right time, or maybe a kiss on the forehead of a loved one who may be suffering from a cold.  The importance of the question, “What can I do to help you?” is too often minimized, as we overlook the opportunity to generate hope in our daily lives.

Sometimes the strength to survive exists in supplying others what they need, while trusting and believing that our needs will be met in the process.

I rose from the ashes of surrender because loved ones didn’t give up on me, and so I didn’t give up on me either…for them.

P.S. I still struggle on a daily basis to let go of my need to control events and others to feel safe and secure, but my journey of hope reminds me of what is possible when we are able to just let go and hope for the best.

-Erika K Rothwell

You Can Do It!

You Can Do It!

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“Come on Eleanor, you can do it!”, she emphatically told herself out loud, struggling to open her newest prize in the back seat of the car while I was driving.  I smiled from ear to ear.  She’s only four years old, yet she presented a powerful message with her example of persistence, cheering herself on, as her own best advocate.

Lately, I’ve been feeling somewhat overwhelmed with all the things calling for my attention.  With that, disorganized thoughts and actions often follow.  Of course, there is always the list strategy.  Herein lies the problem with my latest lists; they are black holes.  No sooner do I check a box, another box grows from that same box. 

My approach to life’s “to do” list most certainly cannot be referred to as methodical.  In fact, I have been known to veer from one realm to another without any given notice.  This is what my husband refers to as my bubble strategy.  Actually, he just uses the word, “bubbles…” with an affectionate smirk and a long pause at the end to describe my style.

So, you guessed right, my writing is on the list.  And it is not getting much attention lately.  It seems to be the easiest and most forgiving box to ignore, regularly getting shifted to a lower priority.  I am quite saddened by the admission.

Negative talk has been reaching a loud chatter in my mind, for this reason, morphing into procrastination.  Though, all along, there has been a whisper imploring me to just sit down and write. 

After a few weeks of stalemate, the words finally are emerging in rough blobs of thought.  Discouragement stands in my way.  The creative work I believed I could accomplish effortlessly infused with passion begins to elude me.  The beauty of raw feeling appears to be stifled by the burden of a daily task list.  The irony of the black and white words I’m able to write stares at me, paralleling the non-emotional characteristics of a task list.

And I realize, I’ve been here before.  I spent years reigniting my creative lifeline, after snuffing it out with the burden of self-imposed secular aspirations, and financial obligations.  I found hope in my desire to share my experience of reconnection to my artistic self, with others, through my writing.  And this is when the healing happened.  I’m reminded, feel first…words will inherently follow.

If you have ever felt like this, you need encouraging reminders as I do.  Where can it be found?

Observing the simple examples of young children can teach us the greatest lessons.  The struggle to accomplish begins soon after our entrance into this world.  Those who love and support us can help along the journey, but it is self-motivation and self-advocation that fuels our drive.  And as usual in my life, out of the mouth of a babe, my little granddaughter modeled the positivity I needed to emulate.

Think how much more we could accomplish if we simply replaced our negative self-talk with self-encouraging words. 

It sounds rather elementary, but recall how many times, lately, you have actually championed yourself with the three little words, “You can do it!”

-Erika K Rothwell

P.S. For those of you who believe in serendipity, I published this post and celebrated by boiling a cup of tea.  The tea bag quote read, “Happiness is an accomplishment.”

Goodness to Greatness – Finding Resilience

Goodness to Greatness – Finding Resilience

An event arises in my life as a lesson in resilience.  Although it may seem like a small setback for some people, in my world, I saw it as tragic.  The words I so lovingly inscribed on the computer screen with hours of painstaking editorial creation disappeared in a flash, in an electrical surge that lasted less than ten seconds.

The devastation cannot be described in a grammatically correct format.  My poetic soul was reawakened with an intense raw pain.  My newly formed art form had disappeared before it could even be introduced to this world.   I searched for it for hours until I had nothing left but to helplessly admit it was gone forever.

Tears fell as torrents of hopeless waves shattered my calm satisfaction felt only after a good work is finished.  Circumstances beyond my control had obliterated my work.

What can I learn from this unfortunate disaster?  Best laid plans…No matter how hard you work, you will face futility in the face. 

And it is here in this hopeless moment I recognize, in order to help others, you must learn how to help yourself.  In order to learn how to help yourself, you must focus on helping others.  Circles, unending connections that take us back to the beginning of the cycle, in everything we do.

This depth of reasoning is pouring out from my exhalations of surrender.  My body shakes with sadness, and I feel foolishly revived.

The words keep replaying in my head, “attitudes of gratitude.”  How do you find gratitude in a moment of dissolution?  Why must we fall down to get up? 

We all follow the same pattern of growth as we are unwittingly thrust into this world, forced to take the next step of humanness.  And we start with one deep breath of oxygen, a chemical composition foreign to our tiny little lungs, yet so powerful that it sustains our life on this planet, for close to a century, among all the other humans that began their life the very same way.  Who can control that mighty power?

The same power reminds me sternly and daily that I am ultimately not the one in control.  Trusting myself as the guide and the only guide leads to a false sense of security.  The rug of uncontrolled circumstances can be ripped out from underneath me at any given moment.  So where is the encouragement?  I will turn the table for you.

Growth, change, and resiliency have much in common.  We physically grow and change often without our initial determination and yet great resiliency is required on our part at times.  Babies grow stronger and advance from crawling to walking, and we’ve all watched the tedious process of falling to get back up.  Teenagers mature and are faced with hormonal challenges that knock them back to toddlerhood to work through the adaptation to adulthood.  The silent growth often goes unobserved, yet a process we undergo throughout our lives, requiring the greatest resiliency.

Because we don’t often volunteer for the hard lessons, outside circumstances force their way into our lives requiring mandatory submission.  Our choice remains to choose resilience and change our attitude to gratitude.

The lesson of assigning too much importance to my own abilities, recognizing the wondrous source of my creative and curious mind, and surrendering to fateful circumstances rounds out my repertoire this past week.

The gifts of my soul are granted to me to share with you.  Messages originating from my heart connect the dots.  The message I lost was a good one, but I see now it clearly was missing the point.  I spent hours crafting a message on intuitive guidance, focused on self-driven ambitions, rather than maintaining a trustful reliance on the direction of a great and almighty force, who guides my steps and makes them sure.

May you also find your way through the powerful surges of unexpected events by relying on, whomever you believe to be, the force of greatness.

Lifting my eyes up from staring at the floor in defeat, has brought me to you today.

-Erika K Rothwell

“When defeat comes, accept it as a signal that your plans are not sound, rebuild those plans, and set sail once more toward your coveted goal.”

Napoleon Hill

"Are we trying to force our way past the infinite velocity of fate?" - Erika K Rothwell
Photo Taken by Erika K Rothwell

Practice Until Perfect? Or Perfectly Good?

Practice Until Perfect? Or Perfectly Good?

It all started with a horrible mess in the kitchen.  How could I have been so careless?  I watched helplessly as the egg yolk poured down the side of the refrigerator door that I had just cleaned a week ago, and onto the floor.  Has this ever happened to you?  My “hangry” state pushed me into a state of exasperation.

Fortunately, no one was home so my derogatory remarks were shared only with the dogs.

And all I could think after I vented was, these “perfectly good” eggs didn’t have a chance, they just went to waste.  And I reflected, how many things in my life are like that?

My words continue to be written, but many of them are never given the opportunity to be consumed.  They are perfectly good words, worthy of savoring, yet they go to waste because I choose not to share them.

Hesitancy is my middle name.  I often hesitate, waiting until the perfect time.  And yet that perfect time never comes.  Holding out for perfection only impedes my progress.

With that, I bring you an essay I wrote days ago.  Feeling like it’s not perfect feels like the perfect time to share it with you…

“Practice until perfect.”, a cliche you’ve all heard.  What’s not considered enough is the paralyzing effect these seemingly motivational words have on you as its successor, perfectionism, slowly and unnoticeably begins to rule your life.

Perfectionism often leads to our dissatisfaction and unnecessary self-devaluation.  Perfection, the highest bar you set for yourself hangs as an elusive carrot in the sky.  No sooner are you granted a victory, does someone bypass your achievement, leaving you holding an outdated medal for a record surpassed long ago.  Rising to the peak of success only brings you closer to the next peak.  And when you finally stand at the summit, you know you can still go higher.

Striving for perfection remains admirable.  Practicing with the realization that perfection may never be reached is most admirable.

My husband loves the movie, “Rudy”.  Do you know the story?  I feel like you might since I’ve personally heard the story many times from him, after watching it.  Rudy was gifted a small frame, with an inexhaustible, grandiose desire to be a star football player.  His plight as he faced continuous rejection and even ridicule set the stage.  His ability to rise above the adversity lands him a bench player seat at Notre Dame where he was eventually put in the last game of his senior year.  We all counted him victorious as he sacked the quarterback in the last few moments of the game.  Of course, Rudy’s story is a motivational example inspiring persistence even when odds are stacked against you. 

Ironically, I now see the story as modeling an additional example.  I will call it “practice although imperfect”.  Rudy could not change his stature.  He could not change his overall athletic ability to compete equally with those gifted with talent.  What Rudy could do was practice, practice more, practice until he could prove to himself and others that he had reached the pinnacle of his dream.  Did Rudy become a star football player?  No, he became an inspiration.  I would guess he went on practicing to reach other lofty goals with the same amount of perseverance.

Analyzing from another angle, those who become star athletes still continue to practice. Musicians also continue to practice their music after creating a composition or winning a Grammy.   Reasonably, you may conclude perfection summits are an illusion.   

From this perspective, I realize perfection cannot truly be reached by any of my efforts.  Practicing until perfect may keep me constantly growing and improving, towards mastery…never perfection.  As I reflect on the true definition of perfection, I recognize, in a large sense, nothing is ever complete since every great work of humankind can be improved upon.  So without the goal of perfection, where’s the motivation, you may ask as well?  

My new goal is as follows.  “Each day, as you wake, take a moment to consider how life on this beautiful planet entices you to grow and learn, giving you another day to practice whatever it is you’ve chosen to master.”  Our individual motivations may differ; however,  moving forward in our chosen ventures often requires discipline and tenacity of practice.  I have learned to replace the goal of perfection with the fuel of determination, a strength of purpose, and continued appreciation for the lessons along the way.  Therein lies the true accomplishment.

Each accomplishment builds a step to the next step.  Don’t keep striving for a mirage of perfection.  Celebrate your personal victories along the way.  Release yourself from the pressure of perfectionism and embrace momentary contentment when your work is perfectly good.

-Erika K Rothwell