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June 23, 2014

Lisa Madras: Sometimes, a subtle sign can restore my ‘Roar’

NEW CASTLE — Do you believe in signs?

I'll never forget the first time I heard the Katy Perry song, "Roar," on my car stereo. It was about a year ago, and I was sitting at the red light at the intersection of Ellwood Road and 376 — probably headed to Kmart or somewhere like that.

This was, oddly enough, the intersection I would have turned at to head to my boyfriend's house. But we'd broken up several months before, the end result of a four-year-long relationship that I hadn't wanted to admit had been breaking since day one.

It took me a while to recover from the demise of this calamitous alliance, even though by the end, there wasn't much left to grieve for. Mostly I was angry at myself for playing the fool for so long. Here I was, an intelligent and independent woman, and I'd fallen for every single trick in the book. I really hated myself for being so naive and trusting.

"I went from zero to my own hero" was the line that literally knocked the breath out of me — but in a good way. I'd spent enough time beating myself up. It was way past time I gave myself the credit I deserved for finally making an intelligent decision. I'd been a zero for many years, but that was the past. I was a hero again, and that's a part of myself I never should have given up in the first place.

That particular relationship wasn't my only failure in life. I'd always had a way of making decisions that seemed sound at the time, only to realize months or years down the road that I should have chosen a different course of action. I turned left when I should have gone right, said yes when I should have said no. Somehow, for some reason, I'd had to fight for everything that came as a matter of course to everyone else.

So it's only natural that I question and re-question every decision I make. The problem is, hindsight is 20/20, as we all know, and until disaster strikes, we can't possibly know if we've made the right decision or not. It seems like a colossal waste of time to worry, but you just can't help letting it creep in from time to time.

There's a lot to be said for faith when you find yourself in these indecisive moments. It took me ages to realize that giving up control could be a lot more effective than struggling to hold onto it. And to me, faith means opening myself up enough to be moved by inspiration, instead of trying to exert my will on the universe. Faith also means paying attention when a sign comes your way.

To some, it might seem silly to think that the universe would talk to you through a song on the radio, or a penny on the sidewalk, or a northern star. But signs aren't seen as they are — they're seen as WE are. Deep inside ourselves, we all have a guiding force that is unique to each of us. I truly believe that when we stumble across a sign, whether we've been looking for one is not, we know exactly what it is because we RECOGNIZE it, based on the truths we hold inside ourselves.

I so needed to hear that particular song on the radio that day, because I couldn't pull what I needed out of myself on my own. True signs are a divine effort to wake up the soul — to shake to life the faith that, sometimes, is the only thing powerful enough to get us through.

About a year has passed since that fateful day on the highway when I reclaimed my inner "roar." Like all Top 20 hits, this one fell off the airwaves as soon as newer songs came along. I keep the words in my heart, though, and as goofy as it sounds, sing them to myself whenever I feel my strength starting to slip away.

I pulled that song up out of myself just yesterday morning when I was at a particularly low point. As much as I didn't feel any music in my soul at all, I made myself keep humming as I turned the keys in the ignition of my car. It turns out I didn't need to, though.

Guess what song was playing on the radio?


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