BECAUSE WE CAN
“Ask, and you shall receive.”
“Knock, and it shall be opened.”
I was lounging about this Sunday morning, drinking coffee, reading the paper and trying to drag my tired body and creaky knees out the door for my daily run. I was weighted down with what am I going to write about for tonight?
I had several ideas going, several started on my computer, but none that were coming together. So I asked for help.
I sent up a little prayer, a request for ideas and energy to make them work. I asked for the switch to be flipped.
Be careful what you wish for.
I laced up and got out the door. I put the ear buds in, turned on my iPod, and before I was even down the driveway, there it was. Like so many other times when my body is moving, my mind flows, too.
The answer to my prayer came through the words and melody of the brilliant, beautiful and musically gifted Jon Bon Jovi. “Because We Can.”
Now, before I go on extolling the virtues of the Sister Lode sisterhood, I want to tell you about another group of sisters who make us look like amateurs. Gail and Suzanne know them, but I do not. I do, however plan to get to know them.
There are twice as many of them as us—six, and they are more geographically scattered than we are. And, they travel. All of them. To far and away places, further than we normally do. That’s six women who manage to make it work logistically, financially and harmoniously. There are only three of us who do that. I understand there is one brother, and whether or not he wants to come along, he doesn’t get to. I’m sure they include him in other ways. We plan to reach out to at least one of them with this post, and hopefully you will hear more about them in the future.
For now, you are stuck with Gail, Suzanne and me.
We are often asked: “How do you do that?” in reference to our travels. They are usually stymied as to the aspects I mentioned above: logistics, finances and harmony.
Well, the answer is fairly simple: We want to, so we make it work. In essence, BECAUSE WE CAN.
I can hear the voices resonating inside many of my reader’s heads about now:
“I couldn’t do that with my sisters.”
“I can’t get time off work.”
“I don’t have the time or the money to _________(whatever it is you want to do).”
And guess what—you’re right: if you say you couldn’t/can’t/don’t, then you can’t. So start by changing what you think is possible.
Because you can.
A profound statement from the walls of Camp Gail.
Deep inside, we all have a more real version of ourselves clamoring to get out. We typically keep them locked up, because if we did let them free, lots of things would have to change. Things that, in the end would be better for us. But change is hard, because that involves work. And, as humans, we strive for the path of least resistance. If we have always done something one way, it’s easier to keep on doing it that way. We know how. It’s like the cattle trails you see worn deep in a pasture. That’s the path they have always walked on, so it is easy and familiar. For a cow to step out of that path and make their own would be difficult, even if it meant getting out to greener pastures. Gail reminded me that we spent hours as kids traversing those trails, always walking within them, never stepping out to the greener pastures. Now, as adults, we know that the best journey sometimes lies outside of those trails.
We all have those cattle trails worn deep in our brains. Worn by repetition and chosen every time for familiarity and ease of travel. But there are greener pastures in our heads too, just waiting to be explored.
Just as Jon Bon Jovi has enlightened us with his words and music, several other notable musicians have gifted us with profound lyrics, including several variations on the theme of life being a dance.
Indeed, it is.
Most dances, however, involve a partner. Every relationship we have involves at least one other person. When we step out of our cattle trail and try new things, change our patterns—change our dance, in effect, this requires change on the part of our dance partners.
And, on the Dance Floor of Life, no one wants to be humiliated by surprise dance moves by their partner.
So, be warned: when you decide that you are going to do something you have always wanted to do Because You Can, your dance partner(s) will be left wondering what their new dance step is, and they probably aren’t going to like it. And it will, in their minds, be your most grievous fault. Keep in mind, however, as I recite these lyrics for the fourth time now: “There ain’t no good guy, there ain’t no bad guy, there’s only you and me and we just disagree.”
Now, back to that person we all keep locked up inside, clamoring to get out: whatever or whoever holds the key that originally locked them up—it could be family, parents, current or former partner, friends, social circles, politics or religion–needs to be reckoned with. Because guess what: they’re no longer the boss of you. They are, of course, if you let them. But you can now silence the voice of the oppressor, you can steal the whip and chair away from the lion tamer; take possession of the key. Because you can. Trust me on this one. You start by realizing you have more power than you think you might, and go from there. Realize that the person(s) in your life whose dance moves are most likely to change with your changes, are those who may be the current oppressors. Keep in mind, too, that our greatest enemy is often our self-limiting thoughts, especially “I don’t think I can do it…”
I found this at a garage sale yesterday. After writing this post, it now symbolizes the key I have to make my dreams come true.
Each of us do, however, have legitimate reasons for staying on our own cattle trails that keep us from realizing our dreams. Family obligations are the most important roles for many, as they should be. Financial limitations are common, but changing the way we think costs exactly nothing. Some struggle with chronic pain or limiting physical and mental illness. Recognize that which you can’t change, but also acknowledge even the smallest things that you can.
Ask for help. Pray for strength and grace. Ask for the door to be opened. And do your part. Ask what you need to do to make it happen, then show up for the work. Always, always ask for the switch to be flipped on. Ask for the energy and guidance to make it happen. It’s out there, just waiting to be accessed. Just be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it. (Happy Birthday, Suzanne: Be Careful What You Wish For, August 13th.)
Back to the inspiration from the beginning of the post: because three is such a good number, here’s a trifecta I want to share with you: (This one’s for you, Robyn!)
I spent one year in The City of Brotherly Love, so I like to keep up via the magazine. And, because Catholic nuns of today are typically movers and shakers who get the job done on their own terms, I loved this story. My admiration of the cover boy needs no further explanation. He started a homeless shelter in Philadelphia with Sister Mary Scullion, because they knew they needed to, so they did. Perhaps Philadelphia should also be know as The City of Sisterly Love.
I wish my aspirations were as grand and good as theirs, but, alas, they are not. They are, however, mine, and I am honoring them by remembering that if I start by thinking about things a little differently, and beginning to act by stepping out of my own cattle trail into the greener pastures that are indeed out there in my own mind, I am getting closer.
In order to ensure that my dreams are good for others as well as me, I keep yet another of Mom’s sayings in mind: “If it feels good, and doesn’t break the Ten Commandments, DO IT!”
I am only one-third of the Sister Lode trifecta, so Gail and Suzanne’s words need to be heard as well. Our adventures, our excursions and anything we do together involves their perspective as well, so I went to them to ask for just that: advice to you on how to make the Because We Can idea work for you:
In keeping with Gail’s task-oriented spirit, she offers these:
Suzanne: “I saw this on Facebook, and it’s never left me.”
Simple, yet so profound.
I must offer more advice from another group of wise women. In my work, I have the opportunity to get to know many women as patients and family members who appear to defy age, who are living life larger than most their age. If it is appropriate, I ask them how I can be more like them when I grow up. “What is your secret?” I want to know.
Their responses generally include one or both of these themes:
“I found what I enjoyed doing and I did it.”
“I kept my body moving.”
I do my best to follow these sage words of advice from women who know.
Because I can, I am taking a summer hiatus from posting. I will return on August 12th, refreshed and renewed.
Eighteen years ago tonight, I was preparing to give birth. Tomorrow, we will celebrate this monumental day with our lastborn.
Happy Birthday Joel. I wish you all you dream for in life. Go out there and get it, because you can.
I woke up from my Sunday afternoon nap and wrapped up this post. I turned on my Amazon music, and decided to play Jon Bon Jovi. I tapped his icon, and the first song in the queue, of course, was Because We Can.