Caught in the Crossfire

white and red balloons

Photo by Sirirak Boonruangjak

Someone says something, does something, implies something that upsets you. For days following you rehearse rebuttals, running the scenario through your mind over and over again. You write a scathing email but have the good sense not to push send. You run the incident past whoever will listen, adding their shock and outrage to your own. Ugliness expands and overshadows everything.

When that happened two weeks ago the insult wasn’t aimed at me. But it grew horns and a tail and I took it on, enacting the above scenario to the letter. In the midst of the heat and angst of that simmering kettle another situation developed. It was a blast out of nowhere that blindsided me and I was still trying to make sense of it when, Wham! A third shock-wave slammed full force.

The disruption of peace is so foreign to my life that by the time the fourth and final jolt landed, the utter absurdity of the sequence of events left me shaking my head. What was I missing? What lesson was being pounded home with unrelenting force?

The Universe knows me. When it comes to subtle hints I’m hard of hearing. Some people pick up the slightest whiff of – you might want to pay attention to this – and execute a course correction mid-stride. Not me! I have to be bludgeoned with it.

Intense dialogue between the inner world of experience and the outer world of events ensued. It was as though my personality was in surgery, undergoing a central re-calibration without anesthesia. No wonder I wanted that second glass of wine. And forget about Bintang kecil, the small bottle of beer. Bintang besar silakan! Large please!

But the numbing blur of alcohol was temporary. In the morning the issues were still there. My higher self looked on with disapproval.

It was time for a better choice. I dusted off the meditation cushion. I’d offer my predicament back to the Universe and see what She had to say for herself. She’s a chatty sort I’ve noticed. Given the chance, insights gathered from eons of collective wisdom are there for the asking.

No sooner had I maneuvered my legs into half-lotus and She was transmitting.

That injury you took on wasn’t yours – – an acquaintance had an expectation that you were unwilling to meet – – you were wrongly accused of an imagined infraction – – the performance of another fell short – – Why are you angry? It’s not about you.

What? Why am I angry? Not about me? What? What?

She hummed a bit, waiting. Blew a sweet-scented breeze through my hair. Whispered mysteries and magic while I reflected. I’d grown quite attached to my indignation. Entitled to it. I’d thought of hundreds of ways to verbally bring them down, make them think again before they messed with me. But, would I ever actually say those things? Probably not. I’d just let distress eat at me when indeed, it wasn’t my injury, my expectation, my mistake, or my performance.

She was speaking again. I strained to hear.

Let it go, She said. Let it go, let it go, let it go.

There are times when we don’t need to justify ourselves to anyone. Perhaps we’ve been standing too close to the conflict and we’re caught in the crossfire of a battle that has nothing to do with us. Engaging in the turmoil, even mentally, pulls us down. Fast.

It takes a conscious act of will but there is sweet liberation and personal empowerment when we choose to move away from the ruckus and just LET IT GO.


Three Strengths – One You Don’t Want


You’re so strong! How many times have I heard that throughout my 66 years? But it’s true.

I have physical strength –

Emotional stamina –

And willpower –

Muscular arms and legs, probably earned from early years lifting hay bales and running through farm fields doing all the tomboy things I loved, still ripple under loosening skin. And by sheer force of will, I’ve maintained my weight and continue a regimen of daily exercise.

But looking back, emotional stamina was a double-edged sword. On the positive side, it kept me sane when my world, at various times, sank into the abyss. But the dark underbelly of that strength hindered me from moving out of difficult places. I knew I could manage extreme mental anguish so I did. Rather than change what I was doing, make different choices, I stayed and endured far too long.

Both pride and fear played a role. I proudly maintained a placid surface when inside chaos raged. I was complimented on my calm demeanor by co-workers, even complete strangers. My ego, undernourished as it was, feasted on those crumbs of praise and preferred the safety of known misery and a well-studied façade, to the terror of change.

There’s a high price for being strong. It took many years to realize that the same emotional resilience that enabled me to withstand destructive situations without losing my mind, could also be mustered to chart a healthier course. It’s the same muscle, but the more I practiced releasing it instead of gripping tight and hanging on, the more space opened to other possibilities.

Most people reach a transition point. The timing is different but the catalyst is the same. It’s the moment we grasp the concept of mortality, the uncomfortable truth that we’ve reached a place closer to the end than to the beginning. For many it ignites a mid-life crises. For others, depression. But for me it prompted the question: Is that all there is? And my answer: It better not be! The thought jolted me out of apathy. I became more afraid of staying the same, marking time waiting to die, than I was of change.

Beware of the strength that keeps you hanging on, stuck in an unlived life. Does your jaw clench, your neck stiffen, the space between your shoulder blades ache? Do you breathe shallow in the top of your chest while your stomach constricts? Ask yourself, What do I want more than this? What’s the worst that could happen if I just let go? let go



What to do about all that?

Awake before five this morning, the brightening sky lured me from bed. I slid open the wide doors, welcoming the light in the east and the soft breath of dawn. With steaming brew cupped warm in my hands I watched the fire at the horizon fade to blue and scribbled my musings.


But the more I wrote, the less I knew, until my jumbled, tumbling thoughts spit out this question:  WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALL THAT?

Instantly the words came…

Get up early
Watch the sunrise
Hear the sounds
Smell the incense
Feel the caress
Taste the coffee
Receive the blessing
Give thanks

It’s being present and allowing my mind to rest, to let go of trying to ‘figure it all out.’ Don’t push the river, Dad used to tell me. Too often I rushed headlong into a solution of my own devising that brought suffering in the end. Older now, and somewhat wiser, my heart knows that the answers will appear when they’re ready if I give them the chance.

Leveraging the Universe

I don’t know about you, but I get daily e-mails from the Universe. Here’s the one she sent today: 

Blue UniverseLife’s not about how you take it, it’s about the glory of living deliberately and crafting circumstances, magnetizing players and forging alliances, leveraging the Universe and engaging the magic so that you can have the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Uplifting ditties like that appear in my inbox every day. Sometimes they just make me smile. But I scratched my head at this one. Living deliberately. I absolutely agree that living with intent and purpose is where it’s at. And crafting circumstances is a terrific phrase that probably means creating your own reality. Magnetizing players and forging alliances. That sounds like a fancy way of saying attracting friends and forming good relationships. We need our tribe! And I totally ‘get’ engaging the magic so that you can have it all!

But leveraging the Universe? What exactly does THAT mean?

Definition of Leverage:
1. Positional advantage; power to act effectively
2. The use of credit or borrowed funds to improve one’s speculative capacity and increase the rate of return from an investment…
If I try hard I can probably wrap my head around #2 and come up with some kind of allegory, but I say go with # one. So, in other words, life is about using the Universe to gain an advantage and the power to act. How does one do that? Let’s face it, the Universe is the Universe. No amount of strong-arming with affirmations is going to shift anything. But what if, for instance, I had a desire? A big desire…as big as a dream. And what if that dream would utilize all of my strengths and make at least one small corner of the world a better place? And what if I were willing to give up my illusions of security, my clinging to the familiar, and just let go?
You know what happened when I did that, when I let go? The Universe got personally involved. I didn’t get e-mails right away, but doors began to open. Coincidences cropped up. Opportunities presented themselves and my dream took on a life of its own. It was as though I was being propelled forward into the unknown at warp speed. It was the undeniable sense that I had connected with my purpose and was being positioned for action. It was dizzying and nothing else has ever touched the thrill of it.
For me, leveraging the Universe was the very antithesis of what it implied. It was the absence of effort, a falling into trust. It was belief in my own worthiness and then stepping out of the way and allowing the miraculous to become the rule instead of the exception in my life.


Strip away
Strip away
Strip away…
Shed memories like dirty socks.
Flick old photos
into the trash
one after another…
Oh! I remember…
There is a NOW
that screams for attention.
It wants no hooks
in the past.
It is lusty,
full of spark and fire,
juicy with life.
It has no room
for regrets
or dismal might-have-been’s.
I pack one bag
with new clothes
and shut the door behind me.
Goodbye isn’t necessary today.
I’ve already said them all,
one for each photograph…
Sherry Bronson
August 2, 2013
Moving on

Happiness Lesson #1

Photo credit to acolorfuljourney

Photo credit to acolorfuljourney


That’s my mantra. It helps that it rhymes. It also helps that it’s short and easy to remember. Even so, it’s one of the hardest instructions to follow.

When we want something, we generally want it now. If there are roadblocks to getting it now, we waste days trying to figure out how to get past them.  Often several options involving effort present themselves. Maybe we have to convince someone else to get out of our way. Maybe we have to borrow money. Maybe we try to form alliances. Whatever it is, the stomach knots, the mind spins and the result is STRESS!


Yes, that’s it, let it go. Whatever it is you must have, pushing, tugging, and creating angst for yourself is not the way to get it. If it’s yours, then it’s already yours and the timing will work itself out. If it isn’t yours, but you MAKE it yours, it comes with a warning. It probably won’t bring happiness and blessing to your life.

For too many years, by sheer power of will and a little creative juice, I went after what I wanted, timing be damned. In the process I left a trail of broken dreams in my wake. In my 40’s I began to ask why and seek answers. I started to wake up. Old habits die hard, but a true desire to change is a mighty force and I truly desired a different life.

Letting go of the need to control circumstances was probably the greatest challenge of all. But eventually I stopped having to plot the future down to the last toenail.


When faced with uncertainty I just did ‘the next right thing’. If that wasn’t clear, I felt my feet. Right. I stopped where I was, planted my two feet flat on the earth, and focused. It’s the quickest way to be grounded in the present moment. Then I repeated my mantra…”Be in the now and allow.”

Peace comes with letting go. Then magic happens. When we move out of the way, we make space for energetic forces that defy our limited site-lines. We allow abundance. We invite blessing.

People ask, “What made you choose Bali?” Well, it wasn’t like that. The energy of Bali chose me, and I allowed it.

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