These are days you'll remember. When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour. You'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky. It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you.
These are days.
These are the days you might fill with laughter until you break. These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face. And when you do you'll know how it was meant to be. See the signs and know their meaning. It's true, you'll know how it was meant to be. Hear the signs and know they're speaking to you, to you."
These are lyrics to a song by 10,000 Maniacs titled These Are Days.
I heard it today, and I had a vivid flashback of driving down Virginia Beach Blvd. in 1992 while listening to this song, loud. The windows were open, no A/C in my Chevy Cavalier, with the hot mid-day sun pouring in. I was smoking a cigarette, my hair blowing in my face. I had just left my therapist's office. This wasn't my first therapist, and before this day I don't think I had a lot of hope that another try at counseling was going to help me. But I kept getting to a point of desperation and trying again.
But on this day, I felt like I might not be doomed to live a life of hell.
"And as you feel it, you'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky. It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you."
This therapist's name was Ronna, and although she asked me about my past, she was the first one to not dwell on it. Honestly, I couldn't take hearing one more time, "It must have been so hard to lose your parents at such a young age."
Ronna was all about the present moment. And taking action. My life symptoms at the time were things like an inability to get out of bed when the alarm rang, being chronically late for work, not keeping up with basic things like bills, laundry, housework. I was a girl treading water, trying not to drown. Wisely, Ronna decided not to spend too much time analyzing why I was in the deep end. Instead, she taught me to start swimming.
There are two things from this time of my life that were literal life savers.
One, I started keeping a journal. Not so much for a place to express my feelings. No, this journal was my parent, my accountability. I had a list in the front cover of this maroon spiral notebook of things that could earn me a gold star sticker. My goal was five star stickers for each day. On a page, I would write something like this.
Dear Journey, [Yes, I named my journal Journey]
Got up at 7:00 am without hitting snooze (gold star)
Got to work by 9:00 (gold star)
Packed healthy lunch (gold star)
Walked at YMCA after work (gold star)
Went to therapy appointment (gold star)
Read something inspiring (gold star)
That would have been a great day. Six stars! I found that simple goal of earning my reward incredibly motivating, and it helped me focus. When emotions or fear would begin to overwhelm me, I would do something on my list to earn a star sticker. It brought me back to the present moment.
"These days you might feel a shaft of light make its way across your face. And when you do you'll know how it was meant to be. See the signs and know their meaning."
Two, I started using a treadmill. Ronna said you have no choice. If you want to work with me, you have to walk for 45 minutes every day. I said, "I don't have a treadmill, can't afford it, can't afford the gym, don't have shoes, don't want to walk outside." She said, "Figure it out. Find a way."
I went to the YMCA in downtown Norfolk and applied for their sliding fee scale financial aid. I got approved for a monthly membership for $18. My brother bought me a pair of Reeboks, and I had one cassette tape that I listened to every single time I walked. REM's Eponymous. I must have only had that one tape.
But I went. I would walk 45 minutes like Ronna said I had to, and I would earn my gold star sticker. I started liking those walks. I started throwing in a little running. I was exercising consistently for the first time in my life, even though I was still a heavy smoker. My parents were still dead. I was still a mess when it came to relationships. But I was learning something. I was taking back my life, and I started to believe.
Maybe I could take care of myself. I was no longer drowning. This was my life preserver for the moment. I had a long way to go before I learned about my true identity, my worth, how to heal and forgive, and how to be released from my shame. But I was no longer drowning.
"These are days you'll remember. When May is rushing over you with desire to be part of the miracles you see in every hour. You'll know it's true that you are blessed and lucky. It's true that you are touched by something that will grow and bloom in you."
A workout today may seem like a small thing. A walk may seem irrelevant. Packing a healthy lunch may seem insignificant. It's not. I promise you, every gold star sticker you earn, is a victory because it is a step in the direction of a healthy life! Each and every step matters. I don't know how it works, exactly, I just know that in the act of doing something, of stepping out in faith and saying maybe this will be a step in a positive direction, a gift is deposited within you. This gift, this little seed of hope, it will grow and bloom...in you.
Lie: I have to fix what I think and feel before I can act.
Truth: Taking action sows seeds of belief, and is rewarded with blossom (growth).