It’s All in the Suffering

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I was going to say no, I didn’t fall off a cliff, but actually, I did. And though I lay on the rocks, wishing nothing more than to be wiped off the planet, I somehow made it back up, half-carried by angels, broken bones and all. The bruises linger, but the bones, to my wonder, have healed and the bleeding stopped. I wasn’t done for. As long as I had breath, as long as I could form my words, the world had a place for me. Like the page in this year’s California’s Best Emerging Poets anthology. And the classroom in the private university where I taught composition this past semester. I had walked past that door many times early this year, wondering why a job at a homeschool center across the street wasn’t working out, when God had my name on that door, His writing on the wall. We launched Drummer Boy this Fall. (After 12 years of indentured servitude coupled with preteen warfare, I was done. I practically threw him over the school fence.) It was time for me to launch, too. I enjoyed the teaching immensely, and although the steep learning curve on school protocols, the grading platform, and the amount of writing to grade made for a ride under a dam that had burst, I didn’t feel mentally challenged. And the impossible hunger pangs for the writing – to do it, not just teach it – didn’t help. I’d been away from the page too long.

In thinking through what the upcoming years might look like for me unchained to my son, I discovered the other night a generous, astonishing opportunity a prestigious institution had extended me on LinkedIn months ago. Two, in fact, when I failed to respond. I glossed over the solicitation before tearing up the golden ticket and tossing it not only because the timing was implausible for me as a mother, but because it was such an amazing invitation I couldn’t wrap my head around it. Then there was my age: my son’s long-awaited self-sufficiency would put me over 50. Yes, I want to build a career with the teaching and writing, but I’m supposed to start tiring after 50, not go pursuing the academic equivalent of a rhino chase on an African safari. But Awesome Friend #1 started taping up the ticket: It seems doable, she wrote. And Awesome Friend #2 pressed it in my hand : Why limit yourself? Who cares how old you will be?

Turns out, I was the only one who cared. I was the one who intended on losing steam after 50. And as the playback on my life revealed, I was the one who’d chosen the classrooms with the low ceiling all these years, afraid to prove I really wasn’t smart or capable. But we won’t find our greatest self where it’s safe or comfortable. Retired Navy SEAL and seemingly superhuman athlete David Goggins says we have to suffer. He named every fear he could before running straight into each one because it was only when he had to decide if he would go on with the broken leg and bloody hands that he met with his highest self, not when he was downing a dozen doughnuts on the couch at 300 pounds. He discovered “that the answers are all in the suffering.” Accustomed to them, I am very good at anguish and affliction. I am less skilled at mapping the endurance into lasting victory beyond survival. Hope is not a plan. And no matter how we might dress it with color on a vision board, hope glorified, called a dream, will remain nothing more than a pretty picture without concrete day-in, day-out goals we move toward both physically and mentally.

I am coming out of a brutal year, one in which I faced the hardest truths about myself. And yet grace has met me in the dungeon, thrown open the doors, and held up a breathtaking life that is mine for the taking if I will shed the self-doubt and get to work. At just a few words from friends who wouldn’t let me shortchange myself, my life took on sudden definition. So I’ve drawn up a game plan that will reorder and fuel my life, the things time and stress had gotten in the way of, but that now tangibly serve a larger purpose, from organizing my house to working out again, studying, and writing. No longer am I sitting and hoping that my writing will be good enough and that the future will favor me. I’m gettin’ up to go git it. I will make my work good enough, silencing the imp on my shoulder that’s whispered all my life: but there are so many writers better than you. I shoved Goggins’ book in her face and refuse to hear her out anymore. I couldn’t care less who’s over me or in front. I will continue to write as though my life depends on it because it does. God has shown me that the works I have published and the classes I have taught are only a prelude to what He has in store if I will reach for the life that is bigger, so much bigger, than my failings and my fears.

219 thoughts on “It’s All in the Suffering

  1. Welcome back! It’s never too late to start living your very best life. I’m still trying to figure out what my purpose really is and I’m way over 50. I’m starting to realize that all the pain of my journey has been worth it.

  2. Great post, Di! Sounds like you are well on your way to some exciting things. Glad also to hear you have good friends by you as well. ๐Ÿ˜„

    I’m sorry that you had a tough year though. And sorry too that my own bandwidth wasn’t enough to be there more for you the past couple of years. I am hoping that one day we’ll have a chance to sit down in person to talk and stuff.

    Hope you had a great Christmas and Happy New Year too!

    J

    On Sat, Dec 28, 2019, 12:12 PM A Holistic Journey wrote:

    > Holistic Wayfarer posted: ” I was going to say no, I didn’t fall off a > cliff, but actually, I did. And though I lay on the rocks, wishing nothing > more than to be wiped off the planet, I somehow made it back up, > half-carried by angels, broken bones and all. The bruises linger, bu” >

  3. For anyone who needs to just โ€œdo itโ€ this piece can definitely serve as encouragement to just โ€œdo it.โ€ This is the stuff from which real New Years resolutions come. Thanks for writing it.

    • Why New Yr’s resolutions are so popular is something to think about, the way it reveals the human tendency toward the path of resistance (which has us renewing our resolve away from it year after year). Just one foot in front of the other.

  4. You have my heart smiling! Great to see you back and I am so sorry about the brutal year but love the grace you found to get back up!! Wishing the best for you! Pain can make us bitter or better, in your case it looks like the better is winning! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • I don’t care what others think or say anymore. I don’t say that as a New Yorker, trained to feel that way, but because only what God thinks matters, so I write for HIm. Since the publishing of my book, I have received two kinds of responses. You write better than me. One, I write too deep, two, that was great. I did ask a friend one time, “was it too complicated?” He replied, no, not too complicated, too convicting.” It is what it is if I hear “well done good and faithful servant,” which will be more than enough for me.

    • HA. Was the anticipation of pain enough for your body? =) But you’re here, and you get another round in 2020. Didn’t the Marines also say pain is only a reminder that you’re alive? I appreciate the encouragement, Alan.

  5. Yay Diana! It’s so nice to see you back here. I’ve missed you and your writing. I’m delighted you are going to pursue your writing in a new and challenging way. I know you have the chops and the support. Write on my friend.

  6. Oh my goodness this is a nice surprise to be able to read skilled and honest words. It is good to know that you will bite the bullet and get down to the nitty gritty and just write for all that is within you. By the way, fifty years old is not old. My mother said many times that fifty to sixty five years old was the prime of life. I was eight years old when my mother was fifty.

    Hope all is well with you and your family and T.

    • Hi Yvonne,

      I love hearing of your mother. I know that for many of us, it is a very long time before we start feeling old. Time just has a way of sneaking up on us. I appreciate the regards, and am wondering if Danny has made strides this year. I hope family & the pets are well.

      • Thank you, Diana,. Yes we are all ok but have health issues. My son, Danny is about the same but he seems relatively happy even though he spends about 75-80% of his time in bed. He complains of back pain just about all the time, I feel that someone can help him and he has gone to a couple of pain management MDs but all they want to d o is to inject a steriod into the area of his back that was broken. We will keep looking and maybe one day he will decide to have an excellent surgeon re-do the surgery on his back. I am doing ok and turned 83 last week. It is rather a shock to be this old but I am hoping to make it to 90 and beyond if I may be so blessed to remain healthy. Fond regards Yvonne

      • A friend of mine who was facing back surgery after years of suffering and trauma from a train accident (in which he was plowed) ditched the surgery and is virtually pain-free after reading the book by John Sarno, MD. The other one to look up is The Great Pain Deception by Steve O. Steve first threw Sarno’s book across the room after reading a few pages, angry that healing could be so simple, but was so desperate to avoid surgery that he picked it up again and turned his life around. Danny can always try an audiobook if he isn’t inclined to read either. Thank you for the update, Yvonne. You sound like you’re still going strong, and I think it is in part because love is good for the giver as well as the beloved.

      • Thank you for mentioning the book. I will obtain it and try to get the audio. Danny reads some but he has never been a great fan of reading unless the words were about wildlife, birds or hunting. But I will definitely get the book. It might not help but it surely will not hurt. Wishing you a blessed year, Diana, You have been so very kind to me and I appreciate your interest and concern.

      • If he does not take to one title, he will the other. You might start with The Great Pain Deception and pull up Steve’s site for Danny since testimonials are so powerful.

        Love,
        D.

  7. Hello Diana, if I can be so bold has to reconnect with you on the first name bases๐Ÿ˜Š You are one of the very first to encourage me and my efforts to blog. Solid advice to go out and make 5 new blog friends each day. I’m delighted to read your catch up post. Having wondered and looked for you. Although we don’t know each other personally, I think from reading your posts over the past years you are an incredible woman. Each time learning more about you. I figured your little man had hit double numbers in birthday years and to read he’s already to the teenage years! So much of what you pen hits home with my soul. The one who whispers “what makes you think you can write or who would even want to read what you write?” Going back to work myself after three years of early, I’ll have more time if I’m at home to write”. Yeah right! Thank you for your truths of write, write and head long write. Working back with my kiddos in PreK to 2nd I can hear you on the overwhelm of details of school. Welcome back! Looking forward to 2020 with my WordPress friends. Denise

    • Aw, what a lovely surprise, Denise. And I did not realize my blogging advice helped you get going. (You must call me by my first name if you consider me one of your WP friends. =) ) Our sharing in one other’s journey out here really is a special thing. Thoughtful of you to keep tabs and yes, the boy hits his teens in a few months (I shudder, lol), although he’s long been there already. I know being a man isn’t always a walk in the park with the responsibilities of the role, but being a woman sure is tough when you have something to offer outside your family. I relate to your journey because although part-time, the professorship was my return to the work world as an employee after 20+ years. Many of us begin as our kids do when they fly the nest. So I decided I want to build my strength and smarts for my next milestone. Remember, if no one takes it from you, seize every opportunity.

      I appreciate the sweet welcome back into the fold.

      Grace and peace,
      Diana

    • Hello Diana,

      I would like to concur with Denise and echo some of her points. In many ways, you have been a very thoughtful and considerate person, perhaps overly so at times as you were mocked and even silenced by your own inner demons and self-doubts, so to speak.

      I sincerely wish that you will find new ways and internal fortitudes to forge new paths through the challenges and quagmires in life, and find yourself in fresh vistas and horizons from which to spread your wings and realize your visions.

      This post in indeed a very moving account of your resolves and transcendence after one year of hiatus in your blogging saga.

      I would like to wish you a belated Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year with my very special, animated post containing some upbeat and heartfelt messages to share with you at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2012/12/12/season-greetings-from-soundeagle-merry-christmas-happy-new-year-and-joyful-holiday/

      There is now a new, short and witty rhyming poem of mine that I recently included in the said post.

      Happy New Year to all of you and also Happy Perihelion on Sunday 5th January 2020 at around 7:48 GMT when the Earth reaches at the point on its orbit at which it is at its closest to the Sun, where the distance from the Sunโ€™s centre to Earthโ€™s centre will be 147,091,144 km, as oppose to Aphelion (the furthest distance from the Sun) at 12:34 GMT on Saturday 4th July 2020 when the centre of the Earth will be 152,095,295 km from the centre of the Sun.

      May you have a lovely week ahead!

      Looking forward to a Diana emerging from the cocoon and turning into a wonderful being in greater command of her destiny. . . . . .

  8. Keep doing what you’re doing. Keep moving forward. Keep trying to find that space where you belong, where your happiness resides, where all that you wish for is there for you.

  9. Bravo! I like to be around positive people and this blog today is full of that positive note. Sure life deals nasties on a constant basis. I remember reading a story with a title something like “How old Nell got out of the well.” The gist of the story is old Nell the horse fell into a well and the farmer couldn’t bear seeing his old friend motionless at the bottom, so without looking he began shovelling dirt into the unused dry well and worked all day at it, then the next day still not looking down. What he didn’t know was that old Nell had woken up when the first load of dirt was shovelled on top of her. She stamped it down under her feet every time a new shovel load dumped on her, Then after a couple of days the farmer was shocked to hear stamping and looking down saw the top of Nell’s head just under the rim of the well. He shovelled on but this time with joy until the noble beast made it out of the well. Is it a true story? Probably not, but it has a good lesson. Stamp those doubts and irritations under your feet and feel the freedom it brings. All the best for a happy and prosperous new year 2020. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • HA, this is wonderful, Ian. Thanks so much for taking the time to share it. Stamp I shall – expecting a lot of dirt on top and under me – and will remember you when I peer over that rim. I wish you joy and strength in the new year. Keep shining.

  10. This is a good time of the year to look back and reflect on things that has gone by the way we wanted and things that haven’t gone the way we wanted. In the process we regret for many things and cherish few things, in between lies the beauty of life and there is nothing called as the perfect way and there are ways that comes our ways and we just need to embrace with joy and equanimity, good things follow just that it plays hide and seek with us. Wishing you a great year ahead with success and happiness.

    Wishing you a wonderful 2020 Happy New Year!!!
    Signing Off 2019 from wondering “Makeup & Breakup.”
    ๐Ÿ˜€

  11. Thank you so much for this post! It’s so funny, because I haven’t checked my wordpress page in awhile, so I was so glad to receive your latest. I, too, have been struggling with just getting down to it and REALLY start writing again, so thank you for your inspirational message. It’s great that you have such amazing friends that encourage you that way. I have the same problem in that I’m always doubting myself, always thinking that I’m not good enough for this or that. I really needed to read this:)

    • So glad to know this spoke to you. I didn’t know how much of a luxury it was to have time to blog. I haven’t had a minute to spare with obligations inside and outside the new job. And now that I can catch my breath, I PLaN to do some serious writing. Let me know how it goes. Or better yet, show me. =)

  12. It’s good to see you back, revitalised and ready to go for it after a challenging year. I hope that it all works out the way you want it to – but of course it will, because you’ll make it happen!

  13. Much resonates with me here – and your writing! Imagining a gab with you, itโ€™s your faith – the thread that seems to pull it all together for you. Iโ€™d like more of that but am not there. But this inspires me! Bravo you!

    • Ask Him to open the eyes of your heart, Tricia. That is not something we can do ourselves. Ask Him to show up – put it on Him – and He will. Faith isn’t something to pull up like bootstraps. It is a gift in the form of a person who came to us already. I can’t help but keep believing, from the visible divine handprints all over my life. I am glad to know the post spoke to you.

      Onward and upward,
      HW

  14. “. . .[W]rite as though my life depends on it because it does . . .”

    Did Hemingway write this? If not, I think I’ll steal it and lay claim to it after I stop suffering.

    Great insight. Great writing. Keep up the good work my young girl friend!

  15. Go get it gal! Diana, I recently heard or read somewhere that the original meaning of suffering meant to โ€˜allowโ€™ and I take this to mean that when we allow, we accept it for what it is. And from that standpoint we move forward. All good thoughts and wishes for the newness ahead, for you and your son and family as you all move forward:)

  16. Happy fifties. Those are the years I got a fresh wind and set out in a whole new direction. I’m in my eighties and still discovering wonderful new friends and opportunities, many with my grandchildren. My body shows wear and tear but my health holds out. Best wishes for newness in your life.

    • Love how you put it, A. Yes, I’ve discovered leaning into them works better than being shoved in. If it is true that we attract what we think and expect, you all have prospered me, certainly. Thank you.

  17. The re-emergence of Victo Dolore and now you! My spirit is so lifted! I let my job wash me out to sea and as I’ve slowly paddled back against the current, it’s my WordPress family that reminds me writing always filled my cup. I just finished 14 hours of ‘on call’ work at the surgery center and I am smiling. Because of this post, I am smiling.

    • Aw, Hi Susan. Goodness, I hope the center knows the gem you are. It is so good to hear from you, and yes, be sure to keep filling yourself for all that you pour out for your patients. I hope you treat yourself to the hot tub or a foot soak! I wondered how your daughter is faring. She still in NY?

      • Yes, my princess made NYC her official home by asking me to send her drivers license renewal letter up ! ( not that she feels a need for a car, but wanted to change her address for fun ceremonial purposes). I visit much and finally understand why she has seven different kinds of coats!

        *Looking forward to your next post

      • Ha ha ha. That’s right, all those coats I left behind when I flew the nest. Wow. She’s built her life. She sounds happy. So glad you get to see her often. NYC is a great place to visit. I hope you pampered yourself a bit this wknd, Susan. Appreciate the word on my blogging. We shall see. I won’t get to hit it hard if I want to stay on track with my professional goals and – part of that – keep publishing. But my heart beats here and I don’t plan to keep away as long as I had to last yr.

        Xxx

  18. Your post is very inspiring, thanks for sharing. As another author who teaches and writes, I totally relate. And the fifties are a good decade…great time for self-discovery. Have a wonderful 2020!

  19. 50??? You’re still a baby! You go for it, girl. Write your heart out, and people will read. The more they read, the better you’ll feel. If nothing else, I’ve learned that over the past 6 or 7 years. (PS – If you ever find yourself in a tough spot and just want someone to listen, you can always email me. Maybe I can’t be there physically, but emotionally I’m all yours.)

  20. hi – sorry the year was brutal – and cheers to better one’s ahead.
    also – glad your friends helped you repair the golden ticket.
    the story that comes to my mind is that Kentucky fried chicken was started when Sanders was 65 years old. Not that I love KFC – but the age does not have to limit in some ways!
    best wishes to you!!

  21. I think you have a couple of great friends there. We all have fears and doubts that we carry around with us and not that they’re not all justified, but sometimes we overblow them and stop living. It’s best to take a risk now and then. The result could very much be worth it. Best of luck to you and thank you for sharing!

    • Well put. The world holds so much promise and we give ourselves the short end of the stick. Wishing you great things in the year ahead. Thanks for the follow, Parker. I look forward to sharing in your journey.

  22. Many years ago I asked God for a new name and the answer came immediately, “Perseverance.” I’ve realized that each time I tried something, eventually I had an experience of failure or rejection, so my motto became, “If at first you don’t succeed, give up and try something else.” I ignored the fact that many writers, painters, etc. did not meet with success until after their death or after years of discouragement. And also that each failure is an opportunity to learn and improve. I also ignored the reality that while what I wrote didn’t appeal to a very many people, a few were actually helped by it. It has finally dawned on me that God leaves the 99 and focuses on the 1 lost sheep. Who do I think I am to not consider one or a few worth risking sharing what I’ve learned in order to help them. I am so very happy that you have come through your dark night maybe bloody, but not defeated. There will be other times of doubt and darkness, but once you’ve faced your demons, you know you can do it again. Wishing you blessings large and small, the openness to recognize them, the joy to celebrate them, and gratitude for each and every one. Eileen

  23. Thanks for the inspiring update! I’m so so happy that you took up the challenge and confront your fears. Women blossomed later than men in terms of career as most of us weren’t conditioned or privilege enough to pursue our dreams since young. Some people like my mother-in-law had to work as child labor for her family since she was five. Then, she had to start working right after completing high school to provide for herself and subsequently her children. Since she had to take care of so many people so she never had the privilege to pursue her dreams. Happy New Year 2020!

    • She is a hero, for sure. Women like her and my mother made sure our (and your husband’s) needs were met so we’d be free to pursue our gifts. Thanks for sharing and taking a moment with the encouragement. My best for a year rich with joy and love.

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