Those Tumbled Down Days

Some days, life seems to take a tumble, a misstep, or when it feels as if something is just plain off.  Days when our energy is low, but our worry is high.  Frustration, sadness, and fatigue sink in, and we wonder why. 

Most of us want to go back to bed, cover our heads, and pray that tomorrow will be an ‘on’ day and our joy will return.  However, I believe we need those troubled days to recoup, rethink, and redo.  Perhaps they are given to us to settle ourselves, be alone, and even shed a few cathartic tears. 

It has been said that writers pen their best works during episodes of depression.  I’m not sure how that works when you are buried under the covers, but the idea is plausible.  Depression and art often go hand in hand.  From Van Gough to Hemingway, those tumbled down days gifted the rest of us with beautiful words and breathtaking paintings.  Their talent rose to the surface in the quiet moments of loneliness and disillusionment.

Turn an off day to “on”

Recently, I was experiencing an “off” Tuesday morning.  Too much to do, worry, and lack of sleep threw me for a loop.  I received an email from a gentleman after he read his newspaper earlier that same day.   He wrote, “Your column this morning is just what I needed to face a grueling day! Thank you.”

How funny that his note helped me face my own grueling morning with a new resolve.  And that, my friends, is how life works.  Life flows better when we realize we all need each other to survive our tumbled down days. 

While on vacation, my sweet friend fell and broke her foot.  This is not the first time she has broken a bone due to a tumble, so I knew she was frustrated.  When she sent a message to all her friends telling them of her accident, her phone lit up with good wishes!  By the time I talked to her, that little cheery, laughing- at- herself attitude was again in full bloom.  We definitely need one another to heal from all falls.

Humor heals

Years ago, before emails and cell phones, I wrote my mother a letter after a crazy day with my new baby and a mischievous toddler, who persisted in providing trouble.  I comically explained the entire day but ended it with the word, “HELP!”

Mom called me after receiving the letter a few days later. 

“Honey, I am sorry you had such a terrible day, but I laughed until I cried as I read your story.”

“Gee, thanks Mom, I am glad I made your day happier from my misery!”  I kidded.

Then she thoughtfully responded, “Lynn, you really can write, you know.”

 I replied, “Mom, now you are the comic!”

When I was going through Mother’s papers after her death in 2010, I found that old letter and, in my grief, a much-needed smile crossed my face.  She had helped me indeed.

Meaning found in darkness

When nothing is going our way, and when life seems complicated, and trouble lurks, it is usually a signal for growth.  In our solitude, we find we may need to reevaluate our priorities, pray a little more, or even pen a novel. 

It is a monumental struggle to find strength and meaning during our dark times, but it is worth a mighty try.  Perhaps, in the end, you could discover that your darkness created light for someone else.  And that, in turn, motivates us all.

One of the most significant faults human beings have is our inability to call for help.  Our pride gets in our way, and fear of what others think of us rises above what is best for us.  Here’s the deal, every single person on earth always and will forever need aid at one time or another.  No one is immune from downtimes and arduous journeys. 

The trick is how we manage them.  Do we go to bed and hide, or do we face struggles head-on and grow from our downtimes?  If you look straight into the eyes of God, He will tell you to get up and do no matter how you feel. Ask for His aid, call a friend, or seek wise counsel. Out of the darkness, Van Gough painted “A Starry Night.”  And, out of lonely silence, Hemingway wrote sentences that echoed around the globe.

Never fall from tumbled down days, but instead, see what beauty you can create from standing tall through them.  When you do, you just might help another not to tumble. 

Happy Trails to You

Dad held my hand as we strolled toward the mammoth beast he wanted me to ride.  Since I was only five, the horse resembled a dinosaur but didn’t appear as if he could spew fire. Dad hoisted me into the saddle as I realized horses are sure larger in real life instead of those on television.  I tried not to be frightened, but my heart pounded.

The horse must not have taken too kindly to the kid on his back because before we took one hoof-sized step, he bucked. The next thing I knew was I was lying in the dirt gasping for air.   Yep, either the fall knocked the breath out of me, or I decided to quit breathing so I wouldn’t have to ride that dinosaur!

Luckily, the only thing that was hurt was my dream of riding horses like Roy Rogers and Dale Evans do on TV.   I even had a cowgirl outfit and boots to play the role of their kid one day!  Now, my illusions were shattered because I concluded that there was no way anyone would put me back in a saddle again.

Well, that was what I believed before Dad picked me up off the ground and put me back on the dinosaur as I screamed and kicked.  However, this time the horse didn’t buck.  A handler led the horse and me around the oval track while I begin to hum “Happy Trails to You” near the finish of my ride.  “Shoot, maybe I would be on the television with Roy and Dale by Saturday if I kept this up!” I imagined.

Find your Happy Trail

There were many times during my life when my dreams landed in the dirt.  Times when I felt nothing would make me believe I could put my shattered hopes back together.  Many of us have attempted to conquer fears, tame a beast, try and try, only to fail repeatedly.  When dad caused me to ride again so soon after I fell, he taught me that no matter what, if an attempt doesn’t kill you, just keep trying to find your Happy Trail.

My father often needed to push me.  From riding a bike to learning to drive a car to believe that I could do anything if I put my fear aside long enough to try.  Many times, I kicked and screamed through my panic.  I shook my head no and stomped my feet, but ultimately, I succumbed to his determination or mine.

Put fear aside and try

When the world began traveling by automobile, my grandmother decided car-driving was not for her.  She wanted someone else to drive her, or she would just walk to get what she needed.  She put her stubborn foot down and was unruffled by her husband’s attempts to plop her in the driver’s seat.

Granddaddy knew her reluctance was based on fear, but he finally coaxed her to get behind the wheel.  “Ok, but I am not learning to drive on the road!” Grandpa declared.  “Well, Nannie, where are you going to learn if not on the road?” He responded.

“In the front yard!”  She announced, putting that stubborn foot smackdown on the hardwood floor.

Granddaddy looked out the window noticing the yard was full of trees.  How was he going to keep her from running square into one?! 

She got in the old car with granddaddy by her side, while both feared for their lives.    She dodged trees, slammed on brakes, and swerved so hard she almost threw her husband out the passenger door. Yet, somehow in the tree-studded front yard, she miraculously conquered the beast.

When Grandpa was around age 95, her children finally took her little red Dodge away because of her worsening dementia.   When I visited her one day, I asked, “Grandpa, how are you feeling?”

“Shoot, I’d be fine if they would give me my Dodge Dart back!” She said as she stomped her foot on the tile floor.

Get back in the saddle

Sometimes when we conquer our fears to fulfill our dreams, we find complete joy like my grandmother did once she started putting the car on the road.  I assure you she never drove over 30 miles per hour, but that didn’t matter to her one bit.

There is not one day too late to put your worries aside and work a dream into reality.  Find the Happy Trail for you and remember to get back in the saddle if you fall.

Happy Trails to you, ‘till we meet again

Some trails are happy ones

Others are blue

It’s the way you ride the trail that counts

Here’s a happy one for you.

Dale Evans