Hope

This four-letter word is more powerful than most.

It ignites something in my soul. It instantly brings positive ideas and exciting forward-thinking possibilities to my mind. This little word creates… gumption.

As I look back over the past year, I am my own worst critic. It’s so easy to allow thoughts of all the things I have not accomplished. I’m reminded of the many goals set that were not achieved. And then, thankfully, I realize the mental-emotional harm I’ve inflicted on myself. And with prayer and meditation, I begin to see things more clearly.

This time of year, with Christmas, my father’s birthday, and the beginning of a new year, I am more emotional than usual.

Yesterday would have been my father’s eightieth birthday. He left this earth way too soon, twenty-three long years ago. I miss him still and always will. I do believe, though, that he’s with me in spirit… but some days, more than others, I ache for his hugs and would do just about anything to hear the roar of his laughter. I am, however, grateful to have had a father who instilled honesty, loyalty, compassion, and unwavering love and devotion to family and friends.

I had lunch with my sister, Dawn, as we always do on his birthday. Typically, for the past twenty-three years, I go out to eat with my mom and my sister. It’s always just his girls (as he used to refer to us), but Mommy was fighting a bad cold, so Dawny and I continued the tradition. We shared stories and amusing anecdotes about Daddy, as tears of joy, but also because of missing him terribly, filled our eyes. We laughed and cried as we always do. I read a few excerpts from my next book, The Red Quarters, since it’s about Daddy and the positive impact he always had on us and continues to have to this day.

It’s bittersweet writing about my father. It’s a very emotional experience for me. Although I’m extremely grateful for the twenty-seven years of having him love me, I can’t help feeling cheated that he hasn’t physically been with us for the last twenty-three. Despite the fact that I know, since I feel his presence, he is with me in spirit, it’s often not enough. He was my guide, my confidant, and my number-one supporter.

There have been countless times I’ve desperately wanted and needed him to help me navigate the murky waters when I felt as if I were drowning in my own pain and sorrow.

I’ve learned over the years, if I am very still, I can sometimes hear him. It’s a quiet whisper within my heart. During those times, like today reflecting on the past year and missing him on his birthday, I feel as if my intuition is communing with his spirit. My eyes fill up at first, and I’m overwhelmed with sadness. But if I sit with my eyes closed and my heart open, I can feel his presence. Then the sadness turns to joy knowing he is with me.

My mind interferes and bitches about him not being here in the physical form. But if I concentrate on my heart and ignore the negative thoughts in my head, I can hear him. I feel him trying to break through the resentment of loss and with my eyes closed, I can see him again.

I begin to ask him for guidance. “Daddy, what do I do?” He responds, “It’s okay, Pooh. You’re going to be okay.” I begin to argue, “But nothing is how I wanted it to be.” He answers calmly saying, “It will be.”

“Your children are beautiful, smart, and healthy. Thanks to you. Know I am with them too.”

“But what about the mess I’ve made of my life goals, Daddy? How do I fix it?”

“I don’t see a mess, Pooh. I see a strong, beautiful wife, mother, daughter, sister, teacher, and writer that works hard and gives her best to everyone.”

“Thank you, Daddy. I hope I’ve made you proud.”

“You absolutely have! Don’t be so hard on yourself.”

“But I’m not… I haven’t yet…”

“Not yet, maybe, but you will.”

I try to keep the conversation going but he fades away having said all he came to say.

I dry my eyes and actually feel better. More optimistic. More positive. He has reached me from God knows where and reassured me with his love and support just as he always had.

In mere moments of prayer and meditation, listening to what I know my father would say to me, my spirit is renewed.

And there it is…

Hope.

What better way to start the new year than with a positive outlook toward the future. I may not have done all I have set out to do just yet… but I will.

Yet generates a bright outlook. Yet creates enthusiasm. Yet creates feelings of optimism.

So when you reflect on the things you have not accomplished this past year, tell yourself… not yet. As we begin a New Year, my wish for all of you is…

Peace in times of trouble.

Confidence in times of indecision.

A grateful heart in times of success.

True love for yourself and others.

And in times of doubt… HOPE.

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