Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Being Grateful for the Bumps & Lumps in Life…

It’s almost Thanksgiving… again. A signal that the holidays are fast approaching and that we will be closing out the 2011 year in the very near future. Like most of us, this particular holiday is one that gives me pause to stop and think about the abundance of blessings I have enjoyed over the year. Initially, I thought I’d write about what I am grateful for and so on… how original, right? Lol. But lately, a number of events have been happening that have given me pause to reflect on the state of my life in different ways.

It has made me wonder - just how did I get here? The short-answer to a long story: the bumps and lumps…

Yes, that’s right - those nasty and wicked events in our lives that we didn’t ask for, couldn’t or didn’t anticipate, and really would care not to repeat again in any lifetime. I’m talking about those dark moments in our lives when (at the time) life seemed grim, hope was all but dashed, or in some instances, one experienced heartache and grief beyond belief. Yes those…

Those treacherous bumps and lumps – as much as I hate to acknowledge it – are also responsible for a lot of the good that’s happened in my life as well. For example, despite two bad marriages, I have two wonderful kids. Moreover, if any of my marriages had lasted, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be leading a much different life right now than I am today… and probably would be living in a different town as well.

I would not have had the opportunity to meet the many beautiful people that have come into my life over the past few years – people who have touched me in ways that makes the heart grow stronger. Even some of my personal relationships that went awry have managed to help me heal from past hurts (as strange as that may sound). With the new people in my life, I have learned more about myself than I could ever have imagined.

Because of those dear bumps and lumps, I started taking dance lessons. Dance has always been a part of my soul as I was always in dance classes since I was little. But oddly enough, dance was always the first thing that left my life when all the responsibilities of marriage, children and work required my attention. So it was like finding an old friend when I finally step foot into a dance studio and began to move to music again.

I certainly would not be writing either were it not for the bumps or lumps that put me on this path. I actually thought I was on the path to being an academic, working on research articles for publication in a peer reviewed journal as I worked towards tenure. I thought I was on that track… I hadn’t even dared to dream of writing in a creative forum, what more write for my own blog.

It was inconceivable at the time, but then the bumps and lumps present themselves in such a way that even the best laid plans can be foiled. Ever have that experience?  

Thus, while those darn bumps and lumps are genuine and REAL pains in the you know what … they are also responsible for some REAL good that often comes about in due time. Time being the operative word here.

In time, the bumps and lumps dissipate - having served their purpose. We, on the other hand, also figure out how to survive the experiences. By “survive” I mean that we have selected a course of action, i.e., thinking about how to move on beyond the bump or lump itself. Do we keep the lesson to be learned or do we simply dismiss it as a fluke or major inconvenience in our lives? Do we manage to laugh back at life or do we retreat – feeling defeated by life itself? We have choices, and how we choose to survive the experience(s) often sets the tone for how we continue living.

In my opinion, bumps and lumps have gotten a bad rap and not enough credit. The most likely reason, of course, is because while we are experiencing the adverse event(s), we fail to see its larger purpose: the proverbial silver lining to it all. These days, I have come to think about bumps and lumps as those road grooves or reflectors in the road that remind you when you have strayed off the road too much. When the car hits them, they make enough sound to get your attention and get you back into your lane. Perhaps bumps and lumps function in this manner: maybe they act as guardrails in order to get us back on track when we have managed to wander too far from our life’s path. Perhaps they are mechanisms that help us refocus or shift our attention to where it needs to be in order for us to live life more fully.  

And so it is with gratitude and appreciation that I give thanks this year, not only for all the blessings that have come into my life, but for the many bumps and lumps that have landed in my life as well… without whose guidance I would not (and could not) be here where I am today.

Many blessings to you and your families!