Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Kindling for Winter

Gordon Harvey (a history professor, marathon runner, college department head, triathlete, retired podcaster, and active blogger in the south - seriously, click on either of those links to check out his amazing hard work and life changes that have paid off dividends - he's been one of my constant inspirations for years) once said that even a 'bonk' of a run is "hay in the barn". I think he meant that even if the gas gets into the tank slowly, it's still gas in the tank.

Alright, so I know I just replaced a metaphor with a metaphor, but sometimes things stick. I find myself going back to the "hay in the barn" metaphor when I need to remind myself that every little bit of work done may only seem like a tiny blip in the grand scheme of things, but it's one step closer to the ultimate result.

This year, I have a new metaphor.

2013 was 'kindling for the winter'.

Lots of awful things happened in 2013.

Friends and family remain forever changed by the loss of loved ones, either through death or dissolution. Some for the worst, some for the better. But either way, forever changed.

Family members I never imagined I'd live without, I now do.

Friends moved away.

We've had to restart the adoption process all over again, throwing away over $300 in the process.

My 2nd Cousin, Fingers, fighting to recover from a heart transplant.
Friends and family have been fighting for the lives of their children - children who did nothing to deserve the debilitating circumstances they find themselves in. Everyday it breaks my heart to hear of the new challenges they face - things that they never dreamed in a million years they'd face. I do what I can from a distance, but I share in their feelings of helplessness, shedding what hope I can as we all try to make sense of the inconceivable.

But there are some things,
things that seem dry, shriveled up, dead, and useless,
that are most useful in creating something new.

That is the Kindling.

As much as there were times where I felt so brittle that I'd shatter into a thousand little pieces - there were a million little sparks that held me together.

I've achieved more than I thought possible physically. If you told me last January that I'd be lifting over 100 pounds (today alone it was 235lb deadlifts four times), I would have laughed at you in disbelief. Now, my body has completely changed shape.

I've grown professionally, as a writer this year - even if it resulted in very little published work (yet). It resulted in lots of lessons learned to keep getting better and better.

I participated in my first Strongman Competition, and did really really well.

Evil Twin and his family - Minnie Mouse on Warrior Woman's lap
is fighting a degenerative brain disorder that mystifies doctors,
but quitting is not an option for these guys.
I have found inspiration in my amazing friends and family members who continue to forge ahead in the treatment of their children. They never give up hope, even when faced with the worst. They never throw in the towel. They will never go quietly into that dark night. They will fight with all they have in them. They continue to inspire me.

New friendships have been forged. Those that have moved away inspire me with their courage to start over, or their courage to go home. (Sometimes, that's the hardest thing to do.)

New lives have come into the world.

New destinations have been discovered.  Catalina with my mom and new pieces of Orlando have been discovered.

My relationship with my immedate family has grown stronger, despite the distance. I've seen them at their best, even under the worst of circumstances. Lessons learned years ago have come into play once again, and are openly shared as we hike through the year on our own paths.

Those are the sparks.
Something warm.
Something beautiful.
Something fierce and free.

All it takes is a little bit of kindling and a tiny little spark to have a roaring fire.
So when I look into 2014, I can't help but see that there is a warm fire already building.

Maybe it's the kindling that remind us of just how warm, and how needed, those little sparks are. It's the hard, painful, cold times, that remind us to search for sparks to stay warm. Sometimes the difference between the cold and the warmth is in our perception.

As with fire - all it takes is one spark.
(Bonus points to those of you who catch the Disney references.)

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