There are moments when your heart cracks wide open … when you’re humbled by the tender beauty another offers from theirs, without attachment.
There are moments when you taste hope peeking between the crevice of old wounds, a seed of restoration, a bright light holding tender aches you’ve long carried.
Tonight, I bow my head to the grace that fills others as they kneel before their truth, surrendering to what is real, unafraid to swim in the Unknown.
What a beautiful offering we give one another — to ourselves, to even the world — when our lips tremble, yet still speak.
What a gift it is to say:
I was wrong.
Please forgive me.
There is gentleness, a soft kiss of Love, within the center of humility, illuminating a strength that penetrates any guarded heart.
And for this, tonight, I give thanks.
In two hours, the doors will gently close on this year, allowing the space for the next to ease in.
I don’t need fireworks or the pop of fizzing champagne tonight. My year doesn’t need to go out with a “bang.”
It wants to burn low to the ashes and dissolve into the crystal snow outside my window.
It wants to be a gracious host and sweetly dim the lights, letting me know it’s time to leave. It feels the story is over; it’s time for the next one to begin.
I want this next year to gently arrive like the tender elegance of fingertips tracing my palm.
I want it to feel like a graceful sway of Love beckoning me closer … alluring, enchanting.
I want to be seduced by the new year, then held in a cherished, spacious embrace.
Let’s slip into a sense of adoration.
Let’s see the divine beauty in stillness.
Let’s feel the stars kiss our hair.
Dearest you … I want to see how you write this next year of your life.
What will your chapters hold? Which lines of poetry will you sing?
How will you love?
May you be filled with an abundance of what you desire.
May you light the inner fire of your spirit.
May you be who you truly are.
…until next year…
Dear Nice Girl:
You know who you are.
You’re the one who helps the elderly couple struggling to carry their luggage up the stairs.
You’re the girl who calls after a truck full of strangers to give them the book that flew out the back. (Maybe it was important to someone.) Your boyfriend locks his eyes on yours, shakes his head and says, “Nobody does that.” But you do.
On the plane, you pick the fallen peanut package off the floor and place it gingerly on the tray table so the passenger sitting next to you – a sleeping soldier – can eat them when she wakes.
You’re the one who tidies up the dishes on your table at the restaurant to make it easier for the server.
You try to make it easier for everyone.
- Pull forward at the drive-through to put the change in your wallet so the car behind you doesn’t have to wait a fraction of a second longer
- Always check behind you and around you to see how youcan move out of another person’s way … never dreaming of making someone get out of yours. (Maybe you should.)
- Didn’t conform at school and have one clique. You fluttered between all groups, getting along with the cool kids, the smart kids, the nerds, the gangsters, the jocks – everyone.
Peeling back façades, gently lifting off masks others wear is your specialty. You peek behind and say, “Ah! There you are!”
You keep secrets. Nice Girls are Professional Secret Keepers. You safely carry stories of lost pregnancies, abortions, the steel barrel shoved in his mouth, and betrayals measured by the number of kisses down another woman’s spine.
You’re good at keeping secrets … but not at keeping love.
You attract men with war and conflict on the soles of their feet. You recognize complex Achilles-aches and provide a place of centered calm; but his feet are too tired and too wounded to carry you. His war too bloody.
For years, you help and support conflicted men, hurt men, men in crisis, men in transition feel grounded. They say you saved them.
You even get some thank yous. The Nice Girl carries them in a pearl box, knowing gratitude matters.
You think this makes you special, loved, different – almost powerful – to be The One who penetrates him, who sees his potential, his spirit … even when he does not; but it’s not your job to heal his wounds.
Eventually, he wants a backpack and no possessions. A divorce. Or he wants what you can’t offer him: his own children and a clean slate. Or he moves away to focus on his education … he can’t have you and focus on dreams.
This is the pattern. It begins to feel like continuous rejection, a cyclical sacrifice of self. You wonder what’s wrong with you.
Look: Not all people are nice.
Some betray you. Don’t keep their promises or show up for you when you need arms around you … because they’re too deep in their own hurt (all while you, Nice Girl, are empathetic about their pain and try to help them through it, even when they were the cause of yours).
The generosity you give to others you don’t give to yourself.
They push the boundaries of hurt … because they can. Because out of kindness (and perhaps, sometimes, fear), you’ve let them.
You learn that “You’re one of the nicest, sweetest people I’ve ever known,” comes with a slap-down, a “but.”
- But he tells you not to fall in love with him.
- But “I don’t want to keep you from meeting a nice guy.”
- But he’s not happy enough … because you weigh too much.
- But he’s having affairs.
- But he’s not ready for your love.
- But he’s confused.
He loves you…
but doesn’t choose you.
There are some, who at worst, know how to turn your compassion inside out.
They set fire to your self-worth and rain ashes on you.
You’ll burn, yes; but you’ll burn brightly and the moon will smile at you from afar, knowing you are the fire.
Ashes will fertilize the soil and you will grow again.
Ashes are story kindling. Stories that alight.
What looks like destruction is rebirth.
See, not everyone wants tranquility. He might like the steel cut of a knife or the desert sting of wind. He might like edgy storms.
And you know how to weather storms…
You see the front coming and unlike most – who retreat – go straight out. You see how far you can go. The air shifts. The rains come. You smile and brace for those winds and let them rip through your hair. You want to spread your arms out as wide as the tumultuous ocean lets you, embrace it all, and scream, “BRING IT!”
It’s in those storms that you feel the hot, raw, visceral energy piercing through you. It brews deep in your soul.
And you want more.
Listen to the whispers of your heart. They’ve been there all along, inviting you to generously devote time to yourself, Dear One.
Surround yourself with those who see your gifts of sensitivity and empathy as just that: Gifts. Know this for yourself.
Know there’s beauty in disappointment: It leads you to finally recognize what it is you do want.
When you’re ready, build yourself a luminescent, storm-torn door. A door that humbly stands in the beauty of its imperfections, right in front of your golden meadow heart.
Only you can open it.
There will be those who meet you there.
Watch on the horizon for the storm chasers. The ones that show up, courageous.
They drive hours just to have coffee and see your face.
He notices little things: the tiny mole above the knuckle on your index finger and the one on your heel; that you curl your toes and screw your mouth to the side when you’re nervous. He’ll kiss your crooked mouth still until he knows, you know, that you are loved.
They love in quantities the galaxies hold and go so high, they grab handfuls of stars for when you have nights that go dark.
Their soul clicks and their arms spark when they see you.
They show up when you’re on your knees.
They won’t burn you … and you’ll have stars.
Keep your palms open to the sky, Nice Girl.
Build your door. Carve beauty all over it.
Let them come to you.
And remember, always, who you are.
Dear Nice Girl:
You know who you are.
You’re the one who doesn’t raise your voice in argument. You raise your hopes that understanding will prevail.
You’re the one who helps the elderly couple struggling to carry their luggage.
You’re the one who tidies the dishes on your table at the restaurant to make it easier for the server.
You know who you are, Nice Girl.
You pick up the fallen peanut package off the airplane floor so the other passenger – a sleeping soldier – can eat them when she wakes.
You’re the girl who calls after a truck full of strangers, waving them down to give them the book that flew out the back. Your boyfriend will look at you and shake his head saying, “Nobody does that.” You, Nice Girl, will think he’s weird because you do stuff like that all the time.
- Smile at the person frowning with sad eyes in the grocery store … just to help them feel a little less lonely.
- In fact, make yourself a bet that one day, by the end of the year, the grumpy, foul butcher will smile back at you. You make it your mission and smile bigger, brighter each time you see him.
- Didn’t conform at school. You didn’t have one clique. You fluttered between all groups, getting along with everyone: the cool kids; the smart kids; the nerds; the gangsters; the jocks…everyone.
- Giggle and laugh without abandon until you snort and juice spurts out your nose after you’ve succumbed to the floor, tears rolling down your cheeks.
- Pull forward in the drive-through to put your cash back in your wallet so the car behind you doesn’t have to wait a fraction of a second longer.
- Always check behind you and around you to see how you can move out of another person’s way. You’d never dream of making someone get out of your way. (Maybe you should.)
Dear Nice Girl, you have a unique capacity for love and compassion. This is uncommon. See, it’s not usual for a person to:
- Consider at one point, a taxi driver and a young, poor boy who shines shoes, your closest friends.
- Feel gutfuls of sorrow watching people beg. You will want to give everything you have to help them while finding a way that truly helps rather than makes the situation worse. It will hurt your tender, aching heart.
- Give up (without question) your job, your home, your possessions, and your family/friends for the man you love because you stand, always, bravely, in love.
- Keep others’ secrets. Nice Girls are professional secret keepers.
- See the truth behind façade, see the person behind the mistake and continue to root for them – even if you got hurt.
You attract those with war and conflict on the soles of their feet. You recognize complex Achilles-aches and provide calm. You lay down a peaceful salve and they’re grateful; but their feet are too tired and too wounded to carry you. Their war too bloody.
After helping conflicted men, hurt men, men in crisis, they’ll ask you to let them go; so, with love, you do – even with your heart full of confusion and cracks – you bless them, holding them in your hands, and blow them away to freedom.
But … dear, kind, Nice Girl:
You have to, you must, learn that not all people are nice.
You must learn there are others who genuinely admire your niceness. They may even care about you. Perhaps love you. But they also know that because of your unique ability to forgive, to understand them, to see the big picture, they can make choices that may bring you a level of discomfort and pain … then not work hard to rectify that or perhaps even acknowledge it. Maybe they’ll push the boundaries of hurt … because they can. Because they know you’re nice.
They might betray you. They may not keep their promises. They may not show up for you. They may not be your friend, be there for you because they’re too deep in their own hurt (all while you, Nice Girl, are empathetic about their pain and try to help them through it … even if they were the cause of your subsequent pain, too).
What about you? Really, you just want someone to heal your hurt, to reciprocate and show you the same kind of love. Often … mostly … you won’t get that from romantic relationships until you learn some lessons.
Maybe you will get a thank you, though. And sometimes, the Nice Girl will carry that gratitude around in a pearl box knowing it’s precious, that words and thankfulness matter. That will be enough. For awhile.
Your pearl box overflows with the kindness you have given others. You put your pearl boxes in a meadow of gold filled with abundant light.
Learn, please … soon … that not everyone earns the honor of going to your golden meadow. Don’t you know this?
It’s a hard lesson. You think everyone should see a beautiful meadow warm with wildflowers.
But not everyone can appreciate wildflowers, gold, and pearl. They may “Ooh” and “Ahh” over those flowers so colorful and rare. They might pick some – possibly without asking – and make an arrangement for their kitchen table, then forget to invite you for tea, to sit with them. You smile despite the lack of invitation with the hope your flowers bring some beauty; but you deserve to be invited for tea. To be asked how you are. You deserve that.
See, you learn that “You’re one of the nicest people I’ve ever known,” comes with a slap-down and “But…” You’ll disappear from their lives. Nice can mean lurgy.
Look, some people click their words and snap their tongues at Nice Ones.
You must begin to see that there are even some, who at worst, will instantly see your gentleness and know how to turn your compassion inside out – just to squeeze something for themselves. Why? Because they know they won’t have to try hard to do it.
They know you will graciously, openly, without pause, simply and beautifully hand over whatever may help them. You’ll do that without considering the possibility that it might burn you.
They may even set fire to your meadow and rub ashes on you; but you know those ashes will fertilize the soil and gold will grow again.
Those that prefer arson will try and burn your soul. You’ll burn, yes; but you’ll burn brightly and the moon will smile at you from afar and know you are the fire.
You know ashes are story kindling. Stories that will alight, stories you will share because … you’re nice.
Not everyone wants a meadow, peace. They might like the steel cut of a knife or the desert sting in the wind. They might like sparse, edgy, storms.
You know how to do storms, too. Nice Girls are storm experts. You see the front coming in and unlike most – who retreat – go straight out. You see how far you can go and swim in the middle of it. The waters change from warm to cold. The rains come and smooth across your sweet face. You smile and brace for those winds and let it rip through your hair. You want to spread your arms out and scream, “BRING IT!” It’s in those storms that you can feel alive and feel the energy, the hot, raw, visceral energy of storms piercing through you. They give you compassion, calm, patience, understanding, love, gratitude. Perspective. They always brew deep in your soul – but most people don’t know that. I do, though.
You have to learn how far to go out and when to come back in. You know – always know – the sun will break through the gray, heavy clouds. Once again, you’ll tilt your head back and let the sun spill on your face, dry the rain and salt.
You know the ache is worth it … that you’re imperfectly lovely. The salty film can be washed, even if you are left feeling a little scratched up.
See, Nice Girl, you will get scratched up. The storm has its beauty, but driftwood has left splinters under your nails. It pokes you and reminds you that you went deep and hard. You’re a survivor and know the splinters will come out when they’re ready.
You’ll put them in a special box – not pearl – but with wood from pine, eucalyptus, breadfruit, palm, evergreen, oak, and acacia trees. You know you can grow something beautiful from driftwood splinters … and you know you’ll get a lot of them.
You’ll build a unique, salt washed, wind-torn door.
You’ll build that strong, glorious door in front of your golden meadow. Only you can open it.
You will learn to decipher the deserving.
See, you’ve been so busy watching out for those to take care of, you don’t know how to let others care for you. Let them.
At some point, you’ll feel restless and want to yell (but you’re too nice to yell) “I just wish people could stand in their truth and be HONEST and communicate!” A friend will tell you most people don’t. You’ll decide from then on only to let the minority come close enough to touch.
You will watch for those who seek you (not those you have to go after). You’ll watch them climb over dunes, swim, go down a path unknown. They’ll be the brave ones – the ones that go out into the storms.
You’ll watch on the horizon for the storm chasers, for those who feel alive through love. The ones that show up. The ones whose hearts are filled and open.
They won’t have hearts with something else etched into it: another name, a job, a dream, freedom.
Their hearts will be etched with only one word: Courage.
Nice Girl, you’ll begin to recognize the courageous heart because it is you.
Look for the few who go it the way you do. The ones who will drive hours to just have coffee and see your face.
The ones who would move for you.
The ones who notice things: the tiny mole above the knuckle on your index finger and the one under your toe; that you curl your toes and move your mouth to the side when you’re nervous. They’ll love this and kiss your crooked mouth still until they know, you know, that you are loved. Just the way you are.
The ones that not only love you, but accept you.
You’ll see the ones that open your door, smile, hold you, tell you you’re beautiful, that you matter. The ones that kiss your face, your forehead, hold your hand and walk in stride.
The ones who connect and recognize your heart … then stick around and don’t get scared.
The ones who know how to love in quantities the galaxies hold – the ones who go so high, they grab handfuls of stars to put in your golden meadow for when you have nights that go dark (because they know you get them).
Their soul clicks and their arms spark when they see you.
They’ll fly to you.
They’ll watch your children and hold your hand.
They return your calls.
They tell you the truth.
They know who they are.
And if they hurt you, they apologize.
They always try to understand themselves, others … you.
They’ll show up when you’re on your knees.
And when – if – the time comes they leave – they’ll say, bravely: they love you; they see you; and they are better for your meadow.
They won’t pick your wildflowers … and you’ll have stars.
There are times you’ll want to quit the Nice Girl gig. Maybe you’ll even try; but don’t. It’s not who you are and that kind of pain – the type where you pretend to be something else – destroys your soul.
So, be nice … but be smart.
You’re a treasure, Nice Girl.
Go on being her.
Go on keeping your palms open to the sky.
Build your door. Carve beauty all over it. Place a crystal knob with glitter there. It will let others know it’s a happy place.
Stay in your meadow. Don’t venture out to another’s place.
Let them come to you.
And then, decide, Nice Girl, if they have enough Courage for you to open the door.
Sometimes we make plans and hang our hopes on an unforeseen future – one we’re committed to. One we’re sure will, well … go to plan.
Life doesn’t usually dole out the expected, though. Or maybe it does, but not when we expect it to or in the exact way we thought it would. Plans that were written down get scratched out, revised, or completely torn-up. Destroyed.
You start again.
We have choices to make when we get a life-sized side swipe. Choices about how we’re going to handle and respond to our dreams not quite unraveling the way we wanted them to. We can choose to stand in the middle of what’s been lost and shrink down or stand-up. Neither is easy and I actually think there’s a time for both.
There have been significant unexpected changes in my family. The changes mean that my daughter and I will no longer live in Myanmar after May when her school finishes. She and I will move back to the United States without her dad.
Family will get defined in a new way. There will be new labels: single mom; single; divorced/separated. Old labels will dwindle slowly and with difficulty: wife; family; expat. Plans of staying in Myanmar for at least a few more years: scratched out. New plans have to be made. It sometimes feels scary.
There is a grieving that floods you when a hope, a plan, a dream is interrupted. Those feelings are real and they’re OK.
Sometimes we edge our way to the side, find a little bit of raised ground – hope – to stand on, giving us the protection of a wider view, showing us what’s going on.
If we can find that raised ground – perhaps even a fence – and look on both sides, we’re able to straddle the realities of what is before us and what is to come. We can lovingly, gently, hold our grief in one hand while in the other, bless the future: the gifts of lessons learned, of growth, of moving forward. In silence, in solitude, we can listen to our hearts and hear the message it’s trying to tell us:
It’s going to be OK.
It’s going to be OK.
It’s going to be OK.
Because it will be OK. Maybe not in ten minutes. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe it will take longer than thought. It doesn’t matter. There’s no time limit, no scale to measure loss of any kind. It’s a personal journey. We’ll have moments of shrinking, then standing up.
I find the safest place on that raised bit of ground where I can look at both sides, with honesty. There’s a reverence that can be offered to what is being grieved. You say thank you (even if it hurts). You see all of it, clearly (as clear as you can now), and bless it. You bless – equally – the hurts and the beauty of your memories … and what you had hoped would become memories. That’s where I find strength.
It’s a time for letting go.
It doesn’t mean I know what’s going to happen on the future side of the fence, as uncomfortable as that is. Yet looking over there, I can see something new. I see solid ground, a sense of calm, and being at peace. It’s on the future side that you give in to some element of faith – a faith within – that you are strong and that you’ll figure it out. Not only will you figure it out, you’ll thrive.
This new journey will lead my daughter and I back to home, to family, to friends. There’s joy in that. Equally, there’s joy in the beautiful friendships we’ve made in Yangon. Lots of to be grateful for. There is sadness, too.
It’s important for me to be honest as we go through this new phase. It’s a transition and life is full of them. I’ll write about that sometimes. I suspect I’ll write about being single-mum writer. Other stuff will come up, too.
Thanks for reading.
Thanks for being part of this hello/good-bye with me.
P.S. I have posted a similar version of this over here on Becky in Burma because I think that while Becky Cavender offers a new beginning, Becky in Burma will still be part of that journey, part of saying good-bye. Writing about the good-bye on Becky in Burma and the new beginning here will help me make some sense of the messiness that goes on with transitions.