Saturday, July 22, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 22

"When one door closes, another opens." That's what my mother always said. "And don't forget about windows," my grandmother would add. Apparently this quote isn't in the Bible, and it is attributed to Alexander Graham Bell and, in slightly different form, to Helen Keller. But is it true? When a door slams shut, will a window fly open? If so, do you want to climb through it?

If you are struggling with a door that is trying to close, do you block it with your foot or step back? I have been known to lay down on the threshold. Noooo, you won't close, I mutter. 

People cling to old ways, resisting change, even if it's meant to be.
The door knows this.
The door is a force of nature.
Behind the damn door is a hoarder's nightmare, packed with unfinished business and unrequited dreams--they will stay unfinished and unrequited. Some doors were wrong for us, but they were essential components to our journey.

Better to let the door slam in your face than to crush your foot. At some point, a situation will force you to make a choice: stay or go, close or open. Refusing to make a choice is a choice, of course, but it means you're choosing to remain stuck.

You can't let go while you are holding on. 

When you are stuck, you forfeit a certain amount of joy. 
Maybe a little. Maybe a lot.

The women in my family taught me to know the difference between a need and a want, though I resisted the lesson. Can't a need and a want be the same? Not really, my grandmother used to say.
When you stop wasting energy on a broken door, when you let it click shut, an astonishing thing happens; a new door (or window) may swing open.
The act of letting go enables us to receive.

Behind the new door is your "meant to be" journey. But what if a new door fails to appear? What if the window is sealed shut? What if we fear the new option?
"Nature abhors a vacuum," Aristotle wrote.
After you make a decision to close a door, new choices will appear, even though you may or may not like them. For a while, I have grappled with a door called blogging, and I just couldn't close it, so I propped it open with a brick. The problem isn't the blog, I don't feel any pressure with the blog itself. I post when time and energy collide.
However, blogging in general has become so strange, I hardly recognize it.
That may offend, but I'm speaking from my own heart.
That said, blogging is but one door.
Like many of us, I've got bricks in several doors. Behind one is a need (or a want) to write non-profit books about dogs. In fact, I made a few "prototype/rough draft books on Artifact Uprising and another company. I gave away the books. But I am not quite ready to stride through this door. I have so much to learn about dogs before I can even hope to make a difference.

Behind another door is food writing, and I enjoy that, too, but again, I have too much to learn and not enough to give, the kind of #givingback that makes a difference. Food writing, to me, involves research, road trips, interviews, and lots of cooking and eating. It's a journey. I myself like to take the time to explore and think before I start to write. I haven't found a way to do this on the blog, and do it well.

The "decorating" door is fun when I do it privately and imperfectly.
Other doors are still a bit personal and/or undecided. But I'm sure to share them eventually. (Just not today.)
Oh, my.
It's never just one door, is it?
Or am I stuck again, making excuses, trying to open the perfect door?

Today, I will attempt to close one door that needs closing.
(Note: It's not the blogging door. After almost a decade of working on the blog, I would be most unhappy if I pulled the plug. I have many doors that I'm not ready to close. I don't know which door needs to click shut, but I will think about it, at least.)


  1. Oh, ML, please consider opening the door on Teenie Templeton once again!!!

  2. Please don't let it be blogging! Okay, this is selfish, but I admit I don't want that door closed for me, on the other side of that door. But, if it needs to be closed from your perspective, I will wish you well and see you through some other door (or window).

    1. Thank, you Rita. However, it's not blogging. I have dozens of bricks in dozens of doors, and some need to be closed. It's hard, though.

  3. Please don't let the door that needs closing be blogging.

    1. Oh, no, it's not blogging. I've been doing it for almost a decade, and I would miss you all too much.

  4. Have you been reading my mind? Wonderfully apt post. Because I realize daily that I cannot do it all, cannot do all that is on the list I make each Sunday night for the week ahead.

    I like new beginnings very much but closings are another matter entirely. Going back now to reread this again, read between the lines even.

  5. Rita and Bonnie, after reading your comments, I realized that my post was unintentionally vague, maybe because I myself feel vague about various doors. So I revised a little, and in doing so, I found some answers . You all helped me!

    1. Thank you for clarifying, Michael!

      I have danced around what I have felt pretty much ever since I started blogging 4 yrs ago, but you have inspired me to put it on the table now. I have met some fantastic persons whom I would love to eventually meet and whom I consider to be real friends, regardless of the fact that I only know them through blogging. What you note in your observation as so strange in blogging and hardly recognizing is seen differently from my perspective. What I have observed in many bloggers from my time of really getting immersed in their content 4 yrs ago may perhaps be consistent with what you've seen as their strange and unrecognizable change. I have observed most who are consistently about generating content for revenue, not much else. They may have been different prior to 4 yrs ago, but what I've observed has [mostly] consistently been. How do I know this? I know this primarily because even though I continued following and interacting, most remained without a personal voice toward me. I interacted because I genuinely cared about, liked or could relate to the topic, its beauty, or the personal issue blogged on. I soon learned who those for strictly hire were/are, and eventually just quit trying to interact. There was no point for them to interact with me, as I added no value as part of their audience (read, revenue). It seemed they really didn't want friends, they wanted sponsors, product, a wider network of readers, clicks and/or money.

      I've now been in this online journal activity long enough that I am seeing one or two bloggers change right before my eyes (I suspect if I am in it for 10 yrs, I would see many more, too), and my intuition tells me to walk away from them. They are definitely becoming something stranger than I find comfortable being, or being around. My husband and I always joke about the antiquing 'business' of the kind my sisters & I do. The accountant in me wants to analyze even the tiniest of the business it is, making a dime from a nickel, but the bottom line is I do it strictly for the fun of shopping and styling with my sisters. I could pretty much walk away from it very quickly - if I could just find a great yard sale venue, lol, and those sales would make me just as happy (we even style our yard sale setups).

      So, keeping happy in blogging for me means I'll just take my little rotation of home, garden, antiquing, life, and small travels and do it as long as it feels like it's fun. I keep my blog journal in the hopes that someday my adult kids may read my annual blog2print bound books and say something like, "I'm so glad mom kept these journals". And maybe I'll someday get to meet some of my virtual friends - for real.

      Thanks again for this series. I'm reading it all, and sometimes have wanted to comment but held back. Today, I didn't hold back.
      Big hug from the hills!

    2. I so loved reading this. I am so happy you wrote these words. Going back to read them.

  6. This entire series has been very soulful, very thought-provoking, and very honest, Michael. If it's any consolation, I'm finding through my conversations that many women are also grappling with what to let go of and what to cultivate. I'm also discovering that I can let some decisions "iron" themselves out, rather than forcing a regrettable decision. Time may be less on my side at this juncture of my life, but I'm okay with that too.

  7. I'm chiming in with Rita and Bonnie about the blogging door. I would be extremely sad to see that happen, though I often have a brick in that door for myself. This series is very thought provoking. I celebrate a milestone birthday this next year, and I've been seriously pondering about how I want the next decade to look. At least the part I have control over.
    I often relate a door closing to finishing the last chapter of a good read. I often don't want to come to the end, but rather keep the story going. But I've no control over that, only the option to begin another book and hope that it captures my imagination. And so it is with life decisions. When one chapter ends and new one begins. Good luck with these decisions.

    1. Poignantly true, Sarah. Your analogy with books and life is so apt!

  8. I ran across a quote the other day about door closings, "When life shuts a door, open it again. It's a door, that's how it works." It brought a smile to my face, as in get over it, not a big deal, are you making drama where there is none, or perhaps try again? I don't know, for me it lightens the mood a little...and reminded me that sometimes a door is just a door...I like the way your grandmother thought, I love her window theory!

  9. 😀Didn't Bill Murray say that? So funny and true!

  10. Micheal Lee,
    "When life shuts a door, open it again," is a new variation for me on a shutting door. I like it. That allows a change of heart, or a breather, a rest, before moving again. In retirement, I found permission to slow life's pace that never existed while working. One of those permissions I've given myself is pacing my comments on blogs I read. I read for more posts than I write comments. There are only 24 hours in a day, and I need to sleep some of them... and find that I require more sleep with each passing year. My body is wearing out, but my mind races on.

    Your series is thought-provoking without inciting ill will. Beautifully done.


    1. Judith, I enjoyed reading your words. So beautifully written. I love this sentence: "In retirement, I found permission to slow life's pace that never existed while working." I have embraced this feeling, too. Thank you for being a part of this journey.

  11. I keep relating your Joy series to my personal life, Michael Lee. I guess I don't really like closed doors and keep putting a brick in them to keep them open, as one never knows when someone might fling it open!

    1. I am slow to close doors, too, and for that same reason.