When Life Changes Her Tune, I Adjust and Continue to Dance My Way

A friend and I were discussing the topic of people who seem to always be in control. Regardless of what life throws their way, these individuals react as if they had been expecting it all along.

I smirked a bit, feeling squeezed between silly and cocky, when she said that I was just that sort.

“I used to think the same of me,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s true anymore. I don’t know how to be in control of everything and live to make myself happy.”

I laughed, and said, “Woman, I can’t control the world, not even what happens in my own life; anyone who goes around thinking they can do that will die very soon and very disappointed. I know I can’t control what happens around me, but at the risk of committing cliché in the first degree, I will say that I have control over the way I react to the circumstances life slaps me with.”

Let’s examine a few examples: I joined the military determined to serve for at least 20 years. I was really grateful to the country that paid for most of my schooling, so I wanted to give back. Then my right shoulder was injured… then my left hip was injured… then other things were injured… and then everything began to deteriorate.

I left the military a decade earlier than planned, and started working as an assistant researcher for a Criminal Justice professor studying methamphetamine and its effects in small town America. I loved the job, but my marriage fell apart and living on the same city with my ex-husband was not something I could do, not if I wanted to heal and move on.

I drove to the opposite coast and began to work with individuals who had been affected by HIV and AIDS. During this time, I started writing fiction with purpose. I fell in love with storytelling, and I had so many stories to tell… This was almost five years ago. I had just started working on a Masters in Counseling with a specialization on Grief, Loss and Trauma—I was really touched by the way HIV and AIDS affected the body and psyche of my clients and those closest to them.

The time came when I had to decide if I was going to write fiction or work as a counselor. I couldn’t do both well at the same time. Those of you who have been with me for more than four years probably remember those days. I was confused, feeling guilty about the possibility of leaving my clients, and feeling worse about the unlucky chance of doing them a disservice because my mind was somewhere else…

After months of going back and forth inside my head, I decided to move back to New York City to study Creative Writing. I made myself available as a volunteer for individuals who needed help. I explained that I was going to school, so they needed to contact me with plenty of time.

I found myself serving as an interpreter in family court, taking patients to medical appointments, explaining paperwork to Spanish speaking patients, helping people fill out forms for Social Security and the Department of Social Services… and my favorite, running to raise money for different causes and sometimes individuals.

Today, I can’t run, but I can write and share. Most of my stories—even the ones that look like something else on the surface—explore the lives of individuals who live in the margins of society, or whose circumstances have caused society to marginalize them as individuals. Some might miss the connection between serving in the military, assisting individuals affected by infectious diseases and writing fictions about those who exist in the fringes. But can you see it, my Wicked Luvs?

I have no control over a Universe that decided I should land on my right shoulder, instead of flat-footed and straight-backed while smacking the ground, when a fellow Marine and I were running demonstrations in a grenade pit; I have no control over the mind of Fate when she deemed it fit for my left hip to be crushed under a moving wheel and my flesh to be torn by a broken fender; I’ve never been able to dissuade Death from taking clients, patients, friends, family, from taking anyone I hold dear… But I will always be able to control what I do with those experiences, and I am Mistress over the way I continue living my life after learning a particular lesson.

If you go back to the fifth paragraph of this post, you will read me saying that “I wanted to give back.” I still do—I’m all about making my witchy Self happy, and sharing the yum. I can’t give what I wanted to give nearly 20 years ago, but I can still give. And that, my Wicked Luvs, might not give me control of the world, but it lets me claim control over the ways in which I deal with my circumstances… and live to tell the tale. 

A few days back, I said, “I’m grieving. I’m thinking… There’ll be changes…” Well, that remains true. Some of the changes will affect my online presence (I will stop using my Facebook profile, soon…). No worries though, this means more yummy blogging (most likely every other day between here and my fiction Site); there will be changes on the fiction writing front (mayhap a bit of fantastically creative witchy nonfiction *twinkle, cackle, giggle*), changes on the publication side, and I’m sure life will come up with music I haven’t even imagined dancing.

And that’s all right, Life dearest. I’m a Caribbean witchy Marine woman: I’m always ready to adapt, overcome, and change steps in order to dance (and live!) in a way that makes me happy.

Dancing Fire VI, by Irina Sztukowski

the artist’s description of her work makes this piece even more enthralling
from the artist: “When I finished painting this abstract art piece, I was surprised myself how the cold wet watercolors could transform into a hot powerful fire. Just in a few brushstrokes the energy of a dramatic composition moves the viewers’ eyes from the figure to the flame generating a new Dance of Fire.”

“Fire cleanses and reveals, fire cleanses and reveals…”~ AlmaMia Cienfuegos and Other Stories 

46 comments:

  1. I don't think there is anyone who has control over the circumstances. Or they just pretend, or they just want to fool themselves.
    I read your brief story, some things I knew some I didn't, but it sound very logical to me how you came to the point where you are now. Yes we can plan our activities, we can even follow this plan, for while...I never thought I would live in India, never ever in my life! But here I am, and many people who get to know about it are amazed at this my, well, "act"...
    I am sure you are where you belong, with a little twist in your plans, but just be happy :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am where I belong, indeed. And I doubt I could be here if all the things that place in my life had not brought me to this point--the good, the bad, and the questionable ones.

      I shall be happy. And so will you. ;-)

      Delete
  2. I'm glad that you'll continue blogging. I always enjoy reading your unique views.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I doubt I'll ever stop blogging. To me, it feels like therapy that I enjoy with friends. I'm happy that you enjoy the reading, your insights always leave me thinking...

      Delete
    2. She shall blog and write on! We need her wise and witchy impact in our lives! (at least I do).

      Delete
  3. You never know what happens. I think the unhappiest people in the world are those trying to stick to a plan...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I might have to quote you, Diandra dear. I believe you are absolutely right.

      Delete
  4. I love reading your blog posts. Your life and achievements fascinate me. You've done so much with your life and suffered hardships that many couldn't cope with...yet still you smile and your happiness shows through your writing. I will miss seeing your smiling face on Facebook, but am glad you'll still be around :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's interesting, for it's exactly how I feel about you. I remember the first time I saw pictures of the x-rays of your legs. It make me think of me and my mildly beat up self. It made me think, She, too, walks forward and live.

      Oh, and you won't have to miss me on the book of faces. Things will just change, but I will still have a page there. ;-)

      Delete
  5. The refiner's fire burns away all impurities and reveals the gold. It's not necessarily a pleasant experience but worth it in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Let's be jewels and shine, hotly and preciously. ;-)

      Delete
  6. Life happens and we have no control over it. We can whine and cry and moan and hide in bed when things happen we don't like or we can adjust and keep on living.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my favorite Sgt. Majors used to say, "Adapt and overcome or move out of my way. I don't want to trip on your carcass, after life runs your over and I follow it on my way to living." Smart woman.

      Delete
  7. Dearest Magaly, thank you for sharing these things about yourself. Such an interesting (and sometimes heartbreaking) life you've had already. Your post breathes change for sure, and makes me think of Phoenix rising from the ashes. I feel the same right now, changes are coming - or rather, changes are available for me to choose, for the first time in a long time. Head's up! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Can't wait to hear/read about your changes. Phoenix rising form the ashes is something I can focus on, right now. Head's up! and then again!

      Delete
    2. Did you get my email btw?
      One of the first things on the list when my man gets back is getting me a new laptop. The one I have shut itself off 7 times yesterday while I was trying to blog...

      Delete
    3. I got your email. Just replied. Computer issues are the worse. I hope all gets solved promptly. Can't have you not sharing bits with us. ;-)

      Delete
  8. I think that your friend experiences trouble with her working definition of 'control'. When a person defines 'control' as deciding what happens to them, when,how, & why, they find themselves rapidly out of control & frightened about living.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Control should be fluid. Always. If not, it doesn't survive the inevitable kiss of chaos.

      Delete
  9. Change is changeless; and control is an illusion.

    We cannot dictate to that which we, ourselves create. How much less, then, could we possibly ever hope to affect that which approaches life from outside of ourselves?

    We have no more control than a leaf in the chaos of a windstorm. Embracing chaos is the ultimate control.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Someone, not that long ago, told me: "Take chaos by the tail and lure it to dance with you." I shall dance... very slowly, for now. ;-)

      Delete
  10. And so I choose life...............with all its bumps and grinds, but I choose life. There is no control only how we react to what is given to us. You stated this very beautifully as always. And I love for and because of how you handle yourself in life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I choose life, too. To live and to enjoy with my messed up body and the company of my friends who also happen to have mildly beat up body.

      Delete
  11. Okay, this is the best post I have read! Truly! Some of your past works , acid burn my eyes but then you redeem yourself with gathering wisdom amongst the " marginalized" ( interesting word don't you think? )
    Well add this to your list of magic, you have the ability to defrost the froZen will! So thank you for sharing your sutle magic, and I will follow any where....Love the perfectly expressed Art! xoxoDebi

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. When the brain assists the heart in doing the speaking, magic happens. Methinks.

      Delete
  12. Most changes are made for us. Those we changes we can choose are special. We get to accept both the rewards and blame of their sum as our own. As you said in what is written above, you've seen people affected by bad changes that life never asked them about. You've had a few of those yourself. How you play the dealt cards matters most. No matter where you write, your horde of friends, myself included, will follow. So just let us know where the words are flowing and we'll be there. And as I always say, keep paddling.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I shall follow the way of the Paddling Forward... and leave smoke signals, for those who want to dance in the river. ;-D

      Delete
  13. I suspect the most successful of those people who appear to be in control, regardless of the crises, are going with the flow rather than trying to fight it. Or, to use Mr N's analogy, riding the rapids rather than paddling against them. You've hit some wild white water in your time, and bobbed out the other side, baptised by the experience. I don't think this is an ability people can learn, but it is an attitude they can embrace. It's a paradox, to change with the flow but constantly be true to your self. It's one of the things I admire most about you, your true and honest self-knowledge. "Know thyself", as Socrates said.

    (I know he didn't but everyone attributes it to him.)

    Love that painting by Irina!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Know thyself," "save the world." Okay, so maybe it was sad different, and it was a TV show, and there was a cheerleader, but yes, paradoxes should be sailed with an opened mind and a strong will.

      And I'm in love with that painting, too. I think I need it for the summer. That and a Red doll. ;-D

      Delete
  14. I love the article Magaly! It touched my heart deeply. Thank you so much. And huge warm (almost fire) thanks for choosing one painting from my Dancing Fire collection.
    Irina Sztukowski
    P.S.
    The Universe provides: this is the universal truth :0)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you like it, Irina, your Dancing Fire was the perfect visual to to capture the words. I saw the piece and loved it right away; such passion in the flame, the posture of the dancer, her willingness to move with the heat... love it.

      "The Universe provides," and we create beautiful things around the gifts we get. Even the one that aren't so easy to accept. ;-)

      Delete
  15. What a wonderful post! Had no idea all you have accomplished so far in life!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You just put some words in my head: What a writer does the first three decades of her life is research. She lives, does, and then she's ready to tell the tale.

      Glad you liked the post. It was a good write.

      Delete
  16. Love the post, love the painting... Interesting you talking about dropping Facebook, love that you are never stagnant, always evolving, as it shoul be... Blogging (yes as tardy as my attempts are) is something that has enriched my life, I enjoy it, my friends I have made :), the art I get to share, the insights and comments from others, I did not see that happening, I must admit, as an artist, discipline can be good... Control though, highly over-rated ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, I probably need to write a clarification post (I think I've said this quite a bit these last 24 hours... many emails from people asking why I'm leaving FB). I'm not leaving the book of faces, just not using my profile. So many things will continue to be the same... especially my stalking of you.

      Blogging (my reading of your tardy attempts) keep my life balanced and enriched, too. And full of colors. Love the colors. ;-)

      Delete
  17. Non-fiction??? How my ears pricked up. Autobiographical, geographical or maybe just graphical?? This sounds most interesting! Looking forward to it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Non-fiction with a twist, of course. It wouldn't be mine any other way. I think that it will be life-graphical with some Magalyness to it. Which means that it will probably reflect the teachings, touches, wisdom... of many interesting people *cough, cough, looks your way*.

      Delete
  18. Sadly, I can't seem to control my desire to want to be in control, but at least I'm cognizant of the fact that it's not actually possible to be in control of life. I'm a control-freak, but apparently, I'm not a delusional one. ;D

    What you're writing about change is really resonating with me. A lot of changes are happening around me right now, and I admit that I don't like feeling this out of control. In the midst of Hurricane April though, there's a part of me that is ready to move on to a new chapter, in which certain things need to be let go of and other things embraced more fully.

    I will miss you on FB, but at least you're still in Blogland! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hurricane April, indeed. I'm all about controlling the things I can, and keeping an eye on the once I can't control in order to dance with them without getting my toes crushed. April has been stepping quite wildly, so maybe we should just let April dance by herself.

      Oh, and you won't have to miss me on FB, I will still be around... as a page.

      Delete
  19. You are such an inspiration! Such a fierce and unchained spirit! You know that Magaly is synonym of courage in my mind right?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You've put a silly grin on my face. And I like it there. Thank you. Thank you very much!

      Delete
  20. So happy you are still blogging ;o) I love this post ;o) It is how we react to everything that happens to us, that makes the difference! We have to chose life and live! I never knew you were married?
    Big Hugs ;o)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't even imagine a world in which I don't blog or do something like it.

      Really? I had no idea you didn't know I was married before. Wow. That's something. I guess we have lots to talk about. ;-)

      Delete