It was a no good, very bad week. But, I’m not gonna quit! It was the supreme and brilliant, Maya Angelou that said, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” This phrase has gotten me out of some very toxic relationships. Maybe you think it’s only the callused and cynical that value her statement. But everything about me radiates softie. I give people not one chance, but decade’s worth, and the toll it takes on me and my family has been brutal. But Angelou’s words cut through the guilt and let me do an instant gut check. Who are you? Okay then. I believe you. I’ll stop looking for something else that you cannot give/be. This week I was slammed by not people, but people within businesses that I work with, one paid, one volunteer. It wasn’t a rude nudge, either. No, I was thrown into a solid wall by a big Samoan. As a result, I spent three days disconnected to social media, email and cell phone. I needed some silence and some space to see clearly what these two places revealed about who they are. The complication is that I love both organizations, I do. I love what they stand for, the tenets they were founded on and the people, too. But, I needed to see who they were and believe them the first time. As my heart hardened, and my inner voice whined, “Not fair!” and “Why me?” I did what has taken me 33 years to learn, I shut up. No easy task for the girl my college friends called, “Verb,” as in highly verbal. My voice strained to scream, my fingers to type long-winded and drama-laced emails, and my hands ached to strike out, shake, and claw. The first night didn’t go well. It was as though all the negative thoughts had become toxins in my blood. My stomach twisted into knots and my heart literally ached, so much so that my husband asked if he should call the paramedics, twice. I let myself feel. The next two days went better. I spent time with my family and dug in the dirt and painted and scribbled in my sketchpad and did chores, all the while thinking, processing, sorting. Because after 33 years of failing, I’ve learned how to be patient, how to lock down the worst in myself and wait for something better to seep in. As of this writing, Day Four, I’m still waiting for the something better. But, at least I have peace of mind knowing that I haven’t hurt anyone with my words. I haven’t damaged relationships with people and companies I care about. I don’t have a clear direction, but it’ll come. I’ll recognize it when it comes because it will be something I never would’ve done on my own. I call it grace. I’ve learned to recognize grace because it whispers something foreign and strange when my humanness aches to lash out, hurt, and damage. And that's how I know the thought is not from me, broken and flawed me, because it is the opposite of my thoughts. Beautiful grace. So, if you’re interested, I’ll share what grace reveals from the two messes I’m facing. And maybe the next time life twists your guts, you can take a breath, or ten, or a thousand and see what grace creates in the pause.