Monday, April 18, 2011

~and you learn...

Dress:  Vintage, thrifted   Belt:  Chicos   Shoes:  Franco Sarto via TJ Maxx  Necklace:  Inherited from my mom

A few years ago, I was going through a very difficult and emotional time in my life.   My mom had passed away and a year later my marriage ended.   It was as if everything that I felt so certain about was far from certain.  Everything in my life seemed unstable and precarious.  I couldn't even IMAGINE a time where I wouldn't hurt.

In the midst of that time, my aunt (my mom's sister) was doing her best to be there for me and to try to find words to help heal me AND encourage me.  She told me that she was waiting for her husband in the doctor's office and had her head down silently asking my mom to help her to give me what I needed.  According to my aunt, after several minutes of her silent prayer she felt as if her head was yanked back and found herself staring at a framed poem on the wall in front of her.  Once she read the poem, she hurriedly wrote it down absolutely believing that it was just what I needed.  She was right!  Here's the poem:

After a while, you learn the subtle difference
between holding a hand and chaining a soul,

And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security,

And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,

And you begin to accept your defeats
With the grace of a woman,
not the grief of a child,

And learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans,
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight

And after a while, you learn that even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden
and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.

And you learn that you really can endure…
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth
And you learn
and learn…

With every goodbye, you learn.

~Veronica Shoffstall

If someone had told me 5 years ago that 3 years later I would meet the sweetest kindest man I've ever known and that he would make me feel more loved than I even thought possible, I would have called them insane.    But it's true.    And the poem is true.  I have learned.  Many things.  But there are two lessons I've learned that stand out to me the most.  The first......Trust myself and that little voice inside me.  So many times over the years, I discounted that voice as the voice of insecurity or emotionalism.  I was pleasantly surprised to come to the realization that that voice was actually dead on most of the time.  Doesn't mean I'm right all the time, but when that little voice speaks up, as far as I'm concerned, it's E.F. Hutton and I'M LISTENING!  Second matter how things look today, things change.  The beauty of that is that no matter how bleak things may look, they can turn on a dime.  No sense in getting too bent out of shape and twisted over a bad situation.  A year later, things can look amazingly different.  The Serene I found rising out of all that pain, has certainly learned and continues to learn.  But I can honestly say, if the pain gave birth to who I am and what I have in my life today; I can accept that.  In fact, I'll even embrace it.  So I'll be off now, planting my garden and decorating my soul!!


  1. I began by thinking I would tell you how beautiful you are in blue, but I must tell you more how beautiful you are inside....this is a wonderful post...unfortunately we grow through difficult circumstances...and I love how the poem focuses on the importance of living just day at a time. Great insight and wisdom. I will copy it and use it with students I am sure. Thank you for your openness and sharing your trials and your victories. You are precious!

  2. Pam, thanks so much!! You absolutely set the example for being open and transparent. The poem has meant alot to me, so I'm very glad you can appreciate it. Lot of love to you!!

  3. I'm so happy that you came back from your sad times. And the blue color of the dress is gorgeous. I love vintage pieces.

  4. What a beautiful poem! And, it is so true. I can recall the exact moment that I emotionally shifted from being a child to being a woman. It was in the midst of an annual job review...I had begun to apologize for what I saw as a weak job performance and then, my colleagues began to share their stories. Suddenly, I saw that we ALL have troubles and that has made all the difference for me.

    This dress looks beautiful on you.

  5. Oh Serene, what a difficult time that must have been for you. I honestly can't imagine so much heart ache at once. Isn't it amazing to see where you are today? You are such a strong woman.

    That poem was really incredible...I think I will copy it out too. It's very profound and wise.

    Thank you so much for sharing it. You look lovely too by the way.:)

  6. There are some times that a blog says just the thing you need to hear. I don't know if it's Karma, fate, spirit, or what. Today I am needing just what you wrote. I've read it before. But now I feel it. Thanks.

  7. Shy, thanks so much!

    Terri, it's the beauty of story sharing. It helps us see that we're not alone and we're all a little more alike than we thought.

    Colleen, there was a time when I told my sister, "I'm tired of being strong". She sent me an email and said, "We can't help it, it's who we are. We are strong women." And she was right and those words really helped me. So glad the poem left an impression. I miss you girly!

    Judy, THAT'S WONDERFUL!!! I've been wanting to share this for a while and have no doubt God had me do it at just the time you needed it! He's so sweet like that! Much love to you!

  8. I am so touched Selene.
    What a beautiful story and true poem. I am keeping:After a while, you learn the subtle difference
    between holding a hand and chaining a soul.
    Thank you my dear friend.

  9. what a beautiful story - thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences, this was such a great post to read this morning!

    on a lighter note, you look beautiful in that vintage blue dress!

  10. Serene~beautiful poem. Love you in Blue! Thanks for sharing your life....and good luck planting! Love, Paula

  11. You are so gorgeous and everything you wear seems to be perfection!
    I really like those shoes!

  12. that blue is fabulous on you ~ i love that dress. and more so, i love those shoes! after seeing how many different ways you've worn them, i'm thinking i'm going to have to start looking for my ow pair! the poem is beautiful ~ and hey, they say what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger. i was 19 when my mom died of cancer and while i wish she was still here with us, going through all of that really has shaped me into the person i am today. i get my strength and feistiness from her and every day i'm thankful for it! ~ susan

  13. Sacramento, that's one of my favorite lines also!

    Maddalena, Thanks!!

    Zarna, you're a sweetie! and THANK YOU!

    Paula, thanks girly!! This dress is just fun and easy to wear!

    Reva, what a sweet thing to say! BTW, I've already more than gotten my money's worth out of these babies! I love them so much!!!

    Susan, I was 39 when I lost my mom. I can't imagine going through that at 19! But you're right, I can see where it has certainly made you feisty and it shows on your face. You always look ready for anything and just plain joyful! Regarding the shoes.....they're the BEST sartorial decision I've made in a long time and honestly, I feel like I've made some pretty good ones! Go get you some and you'll be amazed at how they just finish off everything BEAUTIFULLY!

  14. Like your blog and your pictures ! def. following you now! when you get a chance by by my blog and check it out and hopefully my writing will send you sparks so you can also become one of my followers too!
    love the blue dress

  15. Those shoes!! i will have to come creep into your room a steal them.
    Serene, I have learned more about myself though the most painful days in my life. Growing even a better soul through the endless night of crying. Serene you shine from within as well as from the outside!!!..Hugs!!


Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! ~Serene