Have Courage, Little Duckling

Ducks appear to be effortlessly still.

Flawlessly gliding from one end of the pond to the other.

Behind the curtains, past what the common observer can see, beneath the water, those ducks’ feet are moving intensely fast. Webbed feet paddling quicker than would be expected compared to the relatively peaceful vision of the fluffy duck above water, floating on the water’s surface.

Beneath the surface, there is no calm. In order to keep moving forward, ducks are in constant motion, unbeknownst to the casual observer.

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Ducklings imprint on the first thing they see upon hatching. Their imprinting can also be modified by who they spend their childhood with.

And when I say anything, I mean it. They’ve been known to imprint of dogs, humans, and random objects.

First thing they see is fair game, human, animal, vegetable, mineral.

Okay, I have no idea if they actually imprint on vegetables or minerals, but it sounded good.

 

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Ducks look like they’re not expending any energy. As if they are just there, capable of being on top of the water without doing anything. Without action, work, without mess.

People are a lot like ducks. Little ducklings, in particular. Regardless of what age.

 

There is an unnumberable amount of character and identity to each person which we cannot see. 

We’re often counseled to treat people kindly because we don’t know what horrible things they’re dealing with in their lives.

I know it sounds trite or cliche. But if you think about it, a lot of the important things in life have become little more than a mockery of its original magnificence. 

You don’t know what’s going on in my life any more than I know what’s going on in your life. And there’s nothing wrong with that. We don’t have to slit our chests open and allow everyone we pass on the street to peer into our everything.

But a little compassion goes a long way. We’d do best not to judge the bigot, the hateful person, the naive child brainwashed and clueless to it.

They all have their stories. They all have their hurts and trials and successes. If they aren’t given a chance to wake up and better themselves, they’ll grow further into blindness and solidify the walls keeping them hard and untouched by others outside their own skin.

 

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We don’t choose how we grow up. As a young child, we can’t choose our nature or nurture, our atmosphere or experiences.

And the parents who “messed us up”? Their parents messed them up. Pain is a family disease, passed on from generation to generation. Ducklings, blind following the blind. No clue that their eyes are duct taped shut.

The only thing we can choose (and this one goes for the young as well as the old) is how we deal with what comes our way. We can choose our temperament. To become open-minded. To listen to others instead of coming up with ways to counter and win over or prove wrong what they’re saying once they’re finished speaking. We can choose to be optimistic, empathetic, courageous, and to never give up. Regardless of what or who life throws at us.

Because believe you me, life is going to throw some nastiness your way, some rock walls slick with the blood of the dead and conquered, that you then have to scale with bare hands. Gun to your head. Do it or die.

Life doesn’t play fair. You can.

That’s what life basically boils down to. A series of small choices every day, feeding each other until they form who we are, who we’re choosing (whether consciously or unconsciously) to become.

 

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We cannot see anything but what’s above water in people’s lives. There is much more happening in the moments and hours and days and years we are not privy to.

If there is a person in your life with a bad attitude or an obvious shrowd of ignorance, keep in mind they’ve probably been raised by someone with similar beliefs. Children are little more than brainwashed at the start. Little ducklings imprinting on whoever they are around and absorbing their beliefs, without realizing they’re doing it.

It takes a while for our brains to fully develop. For nature and nurture, environment and disposition, to allow us to “wake up” and become aware that there are other ways of living, believing, etc.

And if we choose someone unhealthy to be our role model, it becomes even harder to wake up.

This doesn’t have an age limit. Sometimes it takes people well into their fifties to realize that they’ve been living in the same unhealthy cycle of behaviors, habits, conditioned beliefs, and ways of living, that they were brought up in. And often times hated, proclaiming they’d never become their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and so on. Denial is a powerful thing. So is imprinting. 

As children, we want to emulate our parents. We cannot outgrow that urge for their acceptance unless we are aware of what we’re doing.

 

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I’m not saying that people cannot outgrow their childhood. We absolutely can. That’s the whole point! But when did we feel safest? When did we feel it was okay to peel back layers of dead skin from around our throat and examine our behaviors and beliefs, and how we got them?

When do we feel it’s safe to analyze our life?

When we feel accepted, either by ourselves or others.

If someone is throwing stones at a person, they’re in defense mode. They’ve got no time to examine themselves. They’re too busy finding fault with their “attacker”, finding ways to destroy said attackers so they’ll be safe.

If we want to create an environment where people can “wake up”, where people can learn to see a little differently, to feel a little more widely, to open their hearts and minds to a wider picture understanding – then we need to be kind.

No one is going to pause in the middle of the battlefield to check to see what their feet are doing beneath the water they don’t even know they’re swimming in. They’re simply going to get on with it the only ways they know how and move forward. For better or for worse.

 

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We can grow, adapt, change. But not if we are choking on hateful backlash. We need to remember our own mistakes. Remember that we’re all human and we all deserve a chance.

But don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying to give people a free pass to treat you like their own personal mean girl assistant or doormat.

Having courage is different from beating someone down and standing on their throat.

By all means, put the powerful arrogant and joyfully cruel in their place. Just remember their place isn’t in a coffin, nailed shut while they’re still breathing. They can’t hang themselves with the scales of justice if we do not hand them the rope to do so. Fully hoping they use it to create a ladder upward and out of the mass grave they’re choosing to throw others into before falling victim to themselves.

 

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We’re all ugly little ducklings. Only, we get to choose who we become.

 

Sources

https://poultrykeeper.com/blog/imprinting-ducks-geese/

https://pethelpful.com/birds/Keeping-Pet-Ducks-and-Geese

 

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4 Things I Know to be True

 

Take a vacation in depression. Don’t move in and live there.

 

Life doesn’t have a one size fits all path.

 

Adulting comes with instructions that don’t work.

 

Parenting is like putting together a puzzle with one piece missing.

 

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Do You Ever…

Do you ever wake up and have something to say

– so adrenaline packed, like you’re about to run and jump off a cliff and dive into the water, down, down, way down below; your chest aflutter with this indescribable light and creativity, butterfly wings brushing your rib cage –

….but you don’t know what the words are?

 

Do you ever think you have the idea down, only to realize you weren’t even learning about the same experience you thought you were?

Stare at the ceiling, trying to scrape together some semblance of reasoning, trying desperately to grasp whatever it is that you’ve missed.

 

Do you ever wake up while sitting at the computer, never having closed your eyes or dozed off, and realize there is a wildfire in your head, barred only by the very skull keeping your squishy brain safe,

and if you could only figure out how to translate these zigzagging, maddening, sparks,

how to convince them to catch fire and breath out from between your lips

– you’d have tapped into genius?

 

Do you ever wonder what fear is squashing inside you? What magnificence lies waiting for you to brush back quiver of fright and bound forward into the darkness with a pen and notebook, taking notes as you go, but going nonetheless?

 

Do you ever sit around, in those moments where you must wait, and wonder. Entertain thoughts of what could be, if you were the person you wish you could be?

 

I hope you do.

I do too.

 

We are silly souls, sitting around, waiting for brilliance to strike.

For circumstance to permit.

Someone to give us permission.

Someone to bankroll the idea.

Push us forward, into the room, into the choice, into the lush corner office,

without all the unbalanced mess-ups, misfires, and questions having to go before us,

embedding into our skin, reminding us we are so, ever so fragile.

 

Are we so helpless?

No.

But we often choose to be.

Others try to bind us down with cords of hate, ridicule, and all the nasty little creations of their fear turned malice filled hearts. Wanting us to hurt, because they never woke up, never wondered, never picked up the feet attached to their dreams and forced their pulse back into the throat as they tried, failed, tried, failed, tried, failed.

Don’t let them.

 

We must try and fail and keep trying.

Keep dreaming.

Hoping

Believing.

Keep working toward the feather-light stirrings inside our head and heart.

Listening to the voice, whispering, “you can do this”, “do it again”, “ignore the embarrassment”.

A little secret? Everyone starts out clueless. Some of us are just better pretenders before we get our bearings.

 

Do you ever wake up and say to yourself, I am going to do this. While I’m exhausted. While I’m a newbie. While I’m so green the grass runs the other direction.

I am going to do this. Without a degree, without a genius telling me I’m the new Einstein, all the while throwing cash in my direction.

I am going to do this. While it scares me. When it isn’t easy.

 

Do you ever go to bed and tell yourself, “tomorrow, I will do it tomorrow.” Do you say this the next night, and the next, and the next?

This is death.

Death to the butterfly wings inside, growing from something small and squirmy into something with wings.

 

Do you ever wonder at all the dead things lying in the road, unseen by most, wished for by all?

They are the hopes. The dreams. The belief we chose to abandon.

They are the “what ifs” and the “maybe if I tried it this way”, the whispers of our soul, poking at us until we feel so much discomfort in our self-forced contentment, that we must do something, anything, to appease this urge for new, for betterment. For life.

 

Do you ever wonder what you’ve hidden from yourself?

Do you ever weep at the thought of the lives you could have helped with the fire now turned to ash, sitting banished but never alone alongside the miles of long forgotten?

Do you ever weep at the loss of your soul?

Weep and sob these ugly emotions out, out, out, until perhaps…

Perhaps there is room for a wildfire.

 

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Daphne Shadows

by Daphne Shadows

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Choose Struggle, Choose to Create

Pain is a given.
No one in this life will escape without hurting.
No one enjoys pain. No one orders up tests or trials in this life. No one jumps up and down in line, hoping they’ll get selected to have another trauma or misery, scar or issue to add to their life.
Doesn’t matter.
Pain is a given.

Within this pain, we have two choices. As always, we have to choose.

 

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ONE
Denial. Bury your head in the metaphorical sand. Seek distractions. Never live in your own body, in the present moment. Don’t work on your issues. Don’t face your demons. Never face your secrets. Hide. Avoid. Refuse to believe. Push others away. Refuse to grow, work on your failings (because we all have our failings).

TWO
We do the work. We struggle through our challenges and fail we may, but we get back on. We let go of what has died. We move forward to what we need. We learn from the past but leave it there. We take the punches as they come, and we figure out how to work around them, hit back, or turn everything upside down and create our own arena of war. We face our demons, our failings, our mistakes. We learn from them and we learn how to destroy shame, turn it into something brilliant and vibrant.

If we choose option one, all we feel is the pain of this life.
If we choose the second option – yes, we’re going to feel pain. But we also get this spectacular, miraculous, gorgeous, chaotic, mess of joys and peace, possibilities and these amazing experiences we never thought possible.

We always have the option to either create or destroy our own life.
Pain is never an option in this life. It’s a given. Why not go through pain to grow, change, and become, so we can then experience joy, peace, and the ability to thrive? Passiveness isn’t going to get us anywhere. No one enjoys treading water, playing the waiting game. No one enjoys hurting for nothing. Well, no one enjoys hurting, period. Gather your hopes, dreams, touchstones and friends. The pieces of yourself that anchor to your very soul. Pain will come regardless. But please, don’t allow it to rule your life. Live through it until it breaks open to magnificence. This life is livable if we choose to stretch past what we think we can do.

 

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Never a Dragon, a Lotus, a Hero

 

To watch someone you love, suffer

That is the worst pain

To have ever known.

 

I have lived through abuses of every kind.

Horrors little children should never know

Memories I’d sell for bubble gum houses

and storybook bedtimes.

Pain that sears through my heart and mind,

Memories in my muscles I cry for

Physical scars,

Emotional scars,

Scar tissue growing stronger

and stronger.

 

But watching someone I love…

These tears hurt worse, somehow.

Somehow they burn

and twist

Until I can hardly breathe

And I loathe watching you go

Knowing you need help

But not knowing how

or what I can do.

 

I know you are strong.

I know you are the

bravest soul I’ve met

I know you can slay your own Princes

and befriend the Dragons lurking

deep inside and all around.

I know you don’t need me

for these things.

But I wish.

 

I wish I could keep the pain from you

I wish I could swipe it away with my tears

or my arms or my words

I wish I could absorb everything

and make life,

fair.

For you.

 

All I can do is hurt with you

Try to help

Understand

Be a shoulder, an ear.

Lend a hand.

But I know I cannot brandish your sword

for you

Not that you need me to.

Not that you aren’t stronger than me anyway.

 

I still wish.

It still hurts worse, somehow.

And yet, I know.

 

I know my scars

Brighten my lips when I know joy,

More brilliantly than if my skin was smooth,

Memory free.

Peace is only found when I

know it is so slippery a prize

after it was ripped away

and I stole it back, one drop of blood

at a time, one struggle at a time.

But I know peace, is the point.

I know joy.

I feel it until I am bursting.

 

I see so many others

sleepwalking.

That’s what pain does

shakes you up

awakens you to your awful state

state of misery or confusion

state of contentedness or settling.

Once awake I knew how to fight

even though I didn’t.

The pain ended up helping me

in a sick sort of way.

It showed me how to fight.

How to stand.

 

I know the horrors of my past

and they know me.

We laugh in the face of the horrors

Climbing through my windows,

Edging into my room

at night, trying to frighten me

with their newness and unknown.

I laugh because this scar tissue

Sees them for what they are.

They are whispers in the dark

Compared to the hideous trumpeting

of my past, my forever scarred words,

lashing into my skin with the blade of no knife.

These new nightmares are cotton candy

and daydreams I spot in the clouds

Compared to the devilish landscapes

lurking in my then.

I know that all that I have suffered

All I have hurt

It lost.

To me.

Without these villains

I never would have

Become.

 

And I know

Your tears will spill and leave.

Your fears will charge and back down.

Playing chicken with you will not work.

I know you will grow scar tissue of your own,

Small battles counting down the time

until they help you slay your next villain.

You will shout in silence

Sob into your pillow

Scream at every smothering glance.

You will find the words to stand your ground

Disperse the hordes that challenge your might.

 

Yes, you will hurt.

And I will hate every moment of it.

I will help you however I can.

I will stand witness to all the snares and wounds

failures and confusion.

I will hurt with you. I promise.

But I know.

You will win, too.

I know you don’t need me to fight these battles

for you

But I will always, always

be here with you.

I will gladly accept these lashings

if it means to stand by your side

As you suffer into Becoming.

 

I still wish you didn’t have to suffer.

It still hurts worse, somehow.

Worse than anything I can remember

suffering inside my own skin.

And yet, I know.

There was never a dragon, never a lotus, never a hero

without suffering to overcome.

 

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by Daphne Shadows

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These Moments of Grace

I sat in the support group, glanced down at my health food store protein bar made of plant protein and zero dairy.

There was a third of it left in the wrapper.

I typically eat a large breakfast, filled with healthy fats and fiber, in a soup. It’s ultra healthy because of my digestive disease. I eat it without thinking.

This morning all I’d eaten was a small pouch of applesauce. And now two-thirds of my protein bar.

 

Sitting there, reaching out for my next bite of the protein bar… I realized I wasn’t hungry.

I was full.

I felt full.

 

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It stunned me.

I am an emotional eater.

I overeat (which, having a digestive disease, is unhealthily easy to do) and I eat the wrong (read: unhealthy) foods.

I sat there, realizing what I consistently thought of as “hunger” was an urge to fill myself up because I was so empty.

 

I already knew this. But to see the proof of it, that blew me away.

To feel the truth of it, that made me pause.

 

I’d already shared (spoken during the meeting).

I’d taken notes on what I felt and what others’ shares inspired in me. I always do this. I want to soak up, absorb, and store the truths they so easily share among the group.

 

These moments of grace. Where I am filled up with the peace I crave but don’t normally know how to gain.

These moments of grace. Where I accept that food is what I try to fill up on – when I’m not hungry. Trying to fill myself, fill myself, fill myself until finally, finally I feel something other than this terrifying numbness, this void, this empty abyss of nothingness but pain and worry, anxiety, depression, and shame.

So afraid that I won’t get enough food into me. So afraid I will remain empty. Feel nothing but a gnawing monster of never satisfied, never filled, never enough.

Never enough.

These moments of grace. When I find myself, real, solid, completely who I am. Vulnerable and alive and visceral. Safe. Filled with a peace, a harmony with who I am, that I cannot explain in words.

 

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These moments of grace where I write down, “I can choose what to fill myself with” in the little notebook I keep in my purse. In case there’s a fluttering butterfly that I need to capture with my pen, preserve in ink between the pages.

I can. That’s it. That’s the secret.

Fill myself with truth. With self-love that I can then spill over and share with others. With acceptance of what I feel, who I am, what I want, what I need, the secrets I wish to hide from myself but don’t need to. Acceptance that I am only as sick as my secrets. Acceptance that what I resist, persists.

Fill myself with creativity, nights spent typing until the clock tells me staying up any longer would cause me pain, and joy spills over onto my pillow because I never used to feel this, never used to want to be awake.

Fill myself with pillows on my bed, comfy in the middle of all these plushies, eating the words on the pages of a book I love.

Fill myself with hugs and smiles and tears and more hugs. With daydreams and nightmares, conversations, and silence.

Fill myself with the strength to poke at the things I wish I could pretend away, the situations that I wish didn’t exist. Fill myself with the knowledge that looking at and feeling that pain, those memories, these realities – it is worth it.

I can choose to fill myself with prayer and scriptures, fun and silliness. With confidence and joy. Hope and knowing that I am purposeful.

 

I have filled myself with these things long enough.

Felt them in my bones long enough. Stored them in the hollow of my rib cage long enough.

Just long enough, compared to the years of abuse and neglect, self-hate and ignorance.

But long enough.

That I wake up, flinging myself out of bed so I can get to my writing. Wishing I didn’t have to sleep because being awake and feeling this, is what I want.

I have filled myself with healthy emotions and relationships and truths. To the point that I can see how different it is from the pain. The misery. How different it is from filling myself with food. Which always causes more hurt anyway.

I have filled myself with enough moments of goodness. That now I can have these moments of grace.

Sitting there in my support group, realizing I don’t need to fill up on food. I am already full. Filled to the brim with something new. Something better. Something real.

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12 Kinds of Halloween Partakers in Shades of Eeyore

THE SUPERHERO

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Daphne Shadows

 

THE VILLIAN

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THAT ONE FRIEND WHO IS ALWAYS COLD

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THE MODEL

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THE COOL KID

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THE CREEPY STALKER WHO KEEPS LOOKING AT YOU (and may possibly be possessed but is trying to play it cool)

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THE TODDLER WHO DOESN’T WANT TO WALK

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THE DRAMA KING/QUEEN (who takes loads of pictures)

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THAT ONE FRIEND WHO’S HAD TOO MUCH SUGAR (and doesn’t want to go home, ever)

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THE GOOFY ONES

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THE TEACHERS 

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THE KIDS WHO AREN’T ALLOWED TO TRICK OR TREAT (but really want to)

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ME as EEYORE (from Winnie the Pooh)

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I HOPE YOU GUYS AND GALS ENJOYED HALLOWEEN, REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU DID!!! 

So, what did ya do?

What kinds of Halloween people did you see this year?

Who did you dress up as? 

Did you have fun?

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