Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Defeated State of Mind


Ever have one of those days where you just feel defeated? Yeah, me too!

Actually, I had one of those days this past weekend. I was in the midst of a defeated day. Feeling fat. Feeling like an awful wife. Feeling like I’ve failed my son. Feeling like a terrible daughter. Feeling fat…oh, did I already mention that. I was overwhelmed. I was tired.

Many years ago I would have spent a lot longer in my defeated state. It would turn into depression and self-doubt. It would become my reality. I would believe every bit of the negative thoughts rushing through me. A defeated day would define my life.

I realize that some people feel this way all the time. Or at least more often than not. I feel blessed that I now have a day of defeat every so often… instead of more often than not.

I am more in tune now. Taking note of how I feel in the present moment. God meets me right where I am… in this moment. He puts on my heart the desire to communicate. So, I write. Then, it meets you right where you are. Finally, we can heal together… in this moment.

During my day of defeat I try not to own my negative self-talk. I try to remind myself that these feelings aren’t from God. He wouldn’t want me to feel this way, this badly, about myself.

Actually, I do try to find morsels of truth in the negativity… in my defeated state of mind. This is a time for self-analyzing and change. Dwelling in defeat is a waste of a day… unless you can search for truth, grow, and then get on with your life… even better than you were before.

The truth in my negativity reflected some changes that I needed to make… immediately. So, I am going to exercise more. I am going to make more time for my husband. I am going to encourage a new plan for my son’s personal growth. I am going to call my mom to tell her I love her. I am going to stop eating my emotions. I am going to take it one day at a time. I am going to take a nap. I am going to eat a cookie… okay, so I might continue to eat my emotions… baby steps, my friends.

If I don’t pull myself out of this defeated state of mind… nobody else will. I gave myself one day… only one day to get over myself.  And, then… I defeated my defeated state of mind. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Preparing for a Future



My son doesn’t quite understand why I give him constant reminders in the morning to “get ready” for school. I need to be more open and transparent about my gentle nudges. This is a heart-to-heart talk we will have soon. He needs insight and a big picture mentality.

You see, I am trying to train him. I am trying to prepare him for his future. Someday I won’t be there to remind him to stay focused. I won’t be there to say we are leaving in 15 minutes… 10 minutes… 5 minutes… now! Someday he will have to manage his own time. In the meantime, I am preparing him for his future.

I am his Mother on Earth… I know what is best for him and I facilitate change to help him become better. A more whole self.

He gripes and moans. He isn’t obedient. He complains and argues. Our morning begins with us rushing out the door at the very last minute.

And then there are days when our mornings flow like a river… we have a rhythm… we find our groove. Those mornings are so sweet and such a beautiful way to start our day.

Polar opposites. One out of resistance… one out of acceptance.

All of this effort on my part to prepare my son for his future… lack of understanding, resistance to stay focused, gripes, moans, disobedience, complaints, and arguments… this entire process reminds me of another parent/child relationship. My relationship with God.

When He is training me… I don’t quite understand why. If I could just have a little insight and a big picture mentality. He is preparing me for my future. God knows what lies ahead. He prepares our hearts, lives, and paths for our future. He is our Father in Heaven… He knows what is best for us and He facilitates change to help us become better. A more whole self and a more holy union.

Yet, I gripe, moan, disobey, complain, and argue with God. My life feels rushed and I am just going through the motions.

And then there are days when my life flows like a river… God and I have rhythm… God and I find our groove. Those days are so sweet and such a beautiful union.

Polar opposites. One out of resistance… one out of acceptance.

I suppose it is just part of the parent/child relationship. However, those relationships change and mature over time. That is, once we accept that the parent knows what is best for us. That is, once we trust that our parent is in fact promising us hope and a future. That is, once we embrace with a willing and accepting heart to be parented. 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Thanks Giving



During the final days of my friend’s life, when I heard that her days were numbered, I began to pray for God to take her home soon. I prayed asking God to not allow her to suffer. I prayed that His will be done. I prayed for peace within my soul for whatever His will might be.

Nine months later, our good and gracious God took my dear friend home. Her suffering finally ended. She went home to a renewed heavenly body. In so many words, I got what I prayed for.  No more suffering.

However, once I got what I prayed for, I wasn’t much in the mood for offering thanksgiving. I wasn’t feeling like praising God for taking her home. I felt the loss deep inside. I felt, that is, when I wasn’t numb. My mind wanted God’s will but my heart was still holding out for a miracle.

Too often we ask for what we think we want. Our desires are for the immediate without much attention to the overall picture. Thankfully God has that overall picture in constant and consistent focus. Thankfully He doesn’t always give us what our heart’s desire.  Thankfully God gives us what we need in life according to the overall picture. We may not understand or comprehend when He answers our prayers and petitions with a resounding “NO”. But that’s where faith comes in. We have faith that God’s plan is the best possible plan for our lives.  We trust that He has our path marked out for us.

I spoke with God about my behavior… my lack of thanksgiving. About my inability to be thankful for His answered prayer. He forgave me… yet again. And, yet again, He reminded me that you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. That’s how our relationship is… we joke around, God and I. We joke around because my sense of humor is my coping skill. God uses humor to cut through me. I tell Him, “Good one!” or “You got me there!” or, in this instance, “Yeah I do!”  I do get what I get and I don’t throw a fit… or sometimes I do throw a fit.

Once my fit was over… I prayed for my heart to be open. I prayed for my heart to feel thanksgiving. I prayed to embrace and embody thanksgiving. In so many words, I got what I prayed for. My receptive heart was granted its desires. This time around I am able to receive my answered prayers with praise and thanksgiving to my God! He responded, elbowing me in the side, “Yeah you did!”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breath of Life



Although I do not control the words that someone else will choose to remember me by. Although I do not get to write my own eulogy. I do have control over the way I live my life and the theme that surrounds my life… the words that swirl around me in the air. And, along with God, I do get to write my own storyline in life… giving those swirling words meaning… giving those swirling words the breath of life.

I choose where to whisper my breath… where to breathe life. Whatever I breathe into it becomes bigger and bigger like a balloon. Whatever I take breaths away from it deflates… smaller and smaller.

In my life, I choose to breathe into the words of faith, family, and friends. 

When I exhale my last breath… catch it in the swirling air around me. Breathe it in with me. Exhale. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Answer is Love



In celebrating my friend’s life, I am trying to delve into what I have learned through this experience. How can I be the wiser? How can I be a better friend? How can I be better prepared for my next “goodbye for now”? How can I best grieve THIS “goodbye for now”? How can I honor my friend’s life?

In praying for God’s guidance and wisdom to these questions… I have received a resounding answer. These answers are all found in one word… love.

How can I be wiser? I can be wiser by loving without conditions. By loving first. By being purposeful. By loving even though the pain of loss can be so deep.

How can I be a better friend? I can be a better friend by loving whole-heartedly. By loving completely. By being all in. By loving with not just my words but my actions.

How can I be better prepared for my next “goodbye for now”? I can be prepared by loving without any regrets. By loving openly. By being clear about my feelings and emotions. By loving like there is no tomorrow.

How can I best grieve this “goodbye for now”? I can grieve by loving who my friend was. By loving who she continues to be. By being in connection with my memories of her. By loving our Father in heaven.

How can I honor my friend’s life? I can honor her life by loving those around me. By loving myself the way she loved me. By being the woman of God she was. By loving the children in my classroom.

We need not look too far for answers. They are already written on our hearts.  God will read the words to you… if you listen. The word is love.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Welcome Home Sweet Friend


My goodbye for now was said. She passed away in the night. Welcome home my sweet friend.

I am at peace with her departure… for only her sake. For my sake… I am numb. I can’t think. I can’t speak. I can’t feel. I am numb to protect myself from the feelings of loss.

There are moments when that numbness wears away…moments when my emotions become unfrozen… moments when I can feel. Feeling raw. My pain is felt. Felt like daggers. In those moments I crack. My tears leak out. They flow from my heart. Tears for the loss of my sweet friend… I will miss her hand slapping laugh. Tears of joy for the memories... I will miss her kindness and her way of loving me. Tears of peace for her homecoming… I will see her again someday.

Then, I seal the crack back up and I am numb again… for now.

I find myself wondering… what did I do to deserve this? To deserve this much love in my life. My pain is measured by the love I feel for the loss of my sweet friend. My heart is broken because there is an empty hole there now. A hole that she once filled with love and friendship. A darkness that once held her light. Although it is dark now… the hole in my heart will heal. My friend’s light MUST carry on within each of those she loved. I MUST not extinguish her light inside my heart.

She lives on inside of me. Once a part of me, always a part of me.

My goodbye for now was said. Welcome home my sweet friend… see you soon!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Goodbye


I’ve never, in my young 37 years of life, said goodbye to someone forever. I’ve lost people in my life and I’ve said my goodbyes at their funeral or memorial service. But, I’ve never kiss someone I love, who is still living, and said goodbye forever… until last night.

I didn’t even know how to do this. I didn’t even know what to do with myself or the situation. I mean, I knew I was going over to her house to say goodbye… but, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew this would probably be the last time I would see her. I suppose I prepared myself for grieving the loss of her in my life. But, I was not prepared for my last kiss on her sweet cheek… for my last whisper of “I love you”… for the last time I held her soft hand… for the last time I looked into her eyes. I don’t think anything can prepare you for those last moments.  I found myself stalling… or maybe just trying to buy time.

That is until a dear friend went first. She so gracefully embraced our dying friend in her arms and said she loved her. She led the way and I followed. We all followed. Friends are such great teachers.

It was then that I knew how to say goodbye forever. I guess I did know how after all. It is just like any other goodbye, really. Because it is not forever… it is just goodbye for now…it is just goodbye until heaven.

As my dying friend laid there…I kissed her sweet cheek. I whispered into her ear that I loved her.  I held her soft hand. I look into her eyes. All just one more time. We all joined hands and prayed for her homecoming.

I learned that although I am sad for myself, I am happy for her. She gets to arrive anew in heaven. She’ll be waiting there for me. She will kiss my cheek. She will whisper she loves me. She will hold my soft hand. She will look into my eyes. She will welcome me home.

Goodbye for now my sweet friend.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Get Over Myself


My girls went out for happy hour last night. I had to stay home. My husband requested that I do. He wasn’t being unreasonable in his request. I mean he did just have outpatient surgery and all.

I made dinner like a good little wife and mommy. My husband said he wasn’t very hungry. My son turned his nose up at what I cooked. I told them that I sure was glad I stayed home to cook dinner for them… in a rather sarcastic tone.

I was upset. I kept thinking about my girls enjoying themselves and laughing until they pee their pants… because that’s what we do. I was thinking about how the manager would come over to tell us we were too loud… because that’s what he does. I was thinking about how the food would have been appreciated… unlike at home.

I was annoyed by my responsibilities. I was pouting about the expectations that my loved ones had of me. I was being selfish. I needed to get over myself.
Then, I realized that I had a choice to make. I could either dwell in what I was missing out on or I could be in the moment of what was actually going on. My boys needed me at home… in the present moment.

I packed away the denied and rejected dinner. I asked my son to play a game of chess. We talked about how life is like a game of chess. We thought of different analogies. I pampered my husband with love and understanding. Made us all a cup of hot tea. I pushed my son on the swing out back… we even made up a new tandem swing move. It was pretty amazing if I might say so myself. I think we might join the circus.

And, just like that… my night turned around. It wasn’t until I could get over myself that I could see what was needed from me. That’s what being a wife and mommy is about … putting others before you.  Really though… that’s what life is about. If we focus outwardly instead of inwardly we can change our perspective on a lot of things in life. We can begin to give more of ourselves to those who need it. We can be present in this moment. Because, really, that’s the only moment that matters!

I arrived at the present moment just in time. I'm so glad I didn't miss it.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Grace Undeserved



I was living in Tennessee and in typical bible-belt fashion I was on my way to church. So, naturally, I was speeding to get there.  I’d like to say that I was so excited about the message for the day that I couldn’t wait to get there… but, that would be lying. No doubt Pastor John had an amazing message… he always did. It was as if he was always talking straight at me or to me. Often times I’d have to go home and take a nap because I felt like I was emotionally drained and that he was stalking me. Weird!

 The truth is I was running late to church. When you have a small child in tow… it seems you are always running late. Soooooo…. I got pulled over for doing 51 in a 35. Yeah… it was a little excessive. I was running REALLY late. Getting pulled over didn’t help my time problem either.

I was polite and courteous. I gave the man what he asked for. I think I even said thank you. All the meanwhile explaining to my son…“No. Mommy is not going to jail.”  “No. You cannot get out of your seat belt.” “Yes. I know we are already late.” I snatched my ticket and drove off to church… later than late.
I decided to go to plead my case to the judge. There was a date on the ticket saying I could do so. So, I did so.

When the date came, I stood in front of the judge. He asked me if I am who I am. I am. He asked me if I was guilty. I was. He asked me why I was there then. Then I said, “Your Honor, I am here to ask for grace.” Those simple words rolled out of my mouth. The room stood still. The judge looked at me. He fumbled through some papers. He revealed to the room that I hadn’t any tickets or any record for that matter.  The police officer who gave me the ticket was there and he vouched for me… in my honor.

Then the judge gave me grace. He excused my ticket. This grace was very undeserving. I deserved a ticket. I WAS speeding. I made the wrong choice and endangered others and myself. I should have paid the consequence. But, I didn’t. I was excused from my wrong doing just like that. All I had to do was ask.

Whenever I share this story with people they are surprised by the judge’s response. They are surprised by his acceptance of my plea. I guess I’m not really surprised. If I didn’t think he would give me grace I wouldn’t have even asked. 

I still try to imagine the look on the other people’s faces that were waiting to plead their cases. There were about 20 people in the room waiting their turn. My back was to them when the judge gave me grace. I could feel against the back of my head their exhaled air as their mouths dropped open. I just smiled and thanked him. And, went about my blessed life.

Grace is grace no matter where it comes from. But, grace always reminds me of my relationship with God. He gives me grace that is undeserving… ALL THE TIME! I make wrong choices often; yet, He forgives me EVERYTIME! My wrong choices go without condemnation and punishment. All I have to do is ask for grace and forgiveness. I am excused… I am pardoned… I am freed from my wrong doing just like that. And then, I go about my blessed life.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Hormonal Beer Pong



I’m just going to come out and say it… I am hormonal! You know during my “womanly time” , when “Aunt Flow” comes to visit, “the curse”, TOM (time of the month).

These hormones can turn me into a different person. I’ve gotten good at hiding behind my smile. But, inside my head there is a crazy party going on. At the crazy, drunk, hormonal party going inside my mind the hormonal personalities are having a beer pong competition. Whoever wins at beer pong gets to surface for the month. Maybe that assumption is giving these hormonal personalities too much credit. However, there must be some sort of deciding factor for who gets to make an appearance. They obviously don’t ask me my opinion.

There are two distinct hormonal personalities that I’d like to introduce you to… “Hormonal Nesting Melissa” and “Hormonal Crazy Melissa”. There are others who are a variation of these two but, these are the main beer pong players. It is really like the Olympic Games of beer pong… only the best step-up to play.

 There are times when I just want to clean and nest and organize… I like that hormonal Melissa the best. She’s my favorite of my hormonal personalities. Unfortunately she gets the least amount of face time. I wish she’d come around more often. Me and the “Hormonal Nesting Melissa”… we could really be best friends. She puts the normal me to shame. I miss her when she’s gone. Fear strikes when she is gone because she only comes to visit every once in a while… apparently she isn’t very good at beer pong! The alternate months are HER months… the other Hormonal Melissa. The beer pong champion!

SHE just wants to crawl up into a ball and let the hormones eat her alive. This is the “Hormonal Crazy Melissa”. Absolutely crazy! I just want to cry. I can’t think straight. I am all emotional. I am cranky. I am sensitive. I am not my usual self. I am scared of her. Clean? Nest? Organize? Psssh… no time for THAT… SHE has some beer pong skills to practice. After all, she is the champ! Beer pong isn’t just going to play itself!

The fortunate thing about all of this is that being hormonal only lasts a few days. And, to toot my own horn, I am getting pretty good at recognizing when my hormones are doin’ the talkin’. I don’t use those personalities as excuses. I apologize when I catch my crazy hanging out… or spilling out… or falling out. I clean-up my own messes.

My husband asked me if I thought that when I ovulated if I was on a whole ‘nother level of crazy. (You know…like a different level from when “Aunt Flow” comes to visit.) I asked him if he wanted to die. Guess which hormonal personality won the game of beer pong that month?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Markings of Life


One night when I was showering I saw the scars on my stomach. I should say I was reminded that I had scars on my stomach. It’s not like I forgot they were there… it’s just that they are now a part of me and I don’t usually see them as separate from me. They are scars from when I had my gall bladder removed about 7 years (or so) ago. When I first had the surgery, I noticed the scars all the time. They were foreign to me. Whose stomach WAS this with scars on it? It certainly isn’t mine. As time went on… as I grieved what my stomach once looked like… I accepted those little visual scars as a part of me. A part of my story.

Then, after my shower as I applied body lotion, I remembered I had a few stretch marks from the pregnancy with my son. They aren’t extremely noticeable. They are more iridescent in the bright light. But, I know they are there.  A beautiful reminder of God giving me the gift of life. They too have become a part of me. They are a chapter in my story.

As I rub my facial lotion on my freshly exfoliated face I see the wrinkles accumulate around my eyes. I add a little extra lotion to those areas… hoping to wipe the wrinkles away.  Those wrinkles are lines that I’ve earned through a life well lived. A life lived hard. A life lived to the fullest. A life full of blessings. Each line represents a page in my story.

These are the visual stories that my body tells. Like a wall where you mark your child’s height to see growth… my body keeps track of my experiences as well. My husband knows all of these stories. He has been there for me and by my side through these experiences. He has seen me before my body was marked by the years of life. He loved me before… he loves me now.  After being together for 18 years there are things I don’t have to explain and stories I don’t have to share because he was a part of all of these stories. He plays a lead role.

Life has left its mark on my husband too… scars and markings and wrinkles. (The wrinkles he’d probably say were from me!) Those are each words in his story that I was a part of. I play a lead role in his life story… like he in mine. Together we are the stars.

This week my husband will add another scar to his body. I’m not sure what to expect. I’m not sure how he will wear that scar. Maybe it will feel foreign to him at first and then eventually a part of him. I loved him before… I will love him after. Our story continues one marking of life at a time. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

Teaching Feelings



As a parent, I strive to release unto the world a young man who is aware of himself, who will be a participator instead of an observer, who will evolve emotionally, and who doesn’t have too much to get over. We’ve had an action packed 9 (almost 10) years of his life… full of talks about  … life, feelings, interactions, humor, people, relationships, emotions, and love.

We are participants in life together. He tells me that I am the best teacher a son could ever have. Doesn’t that just melt your heart? He has the ability to articulate those feeling into words. He gets that I am not just a mommy who wipes away buggers and tears… I am his life teacher… he is my student. I have a bit of practice in this area of teacher/student relationship. It wasn’t too long ago, if you remember, that I did the same for myself. (See my “Observer to Participator in Life” blog.) It’s not like my plan for his growth and development is a big secret kept from him. He is in on the plan. He is an active participant. He has a vested interest… it’s his life!

He has a gift for emotional intelligence and interpersonal relations. It has nothing to do with how I taught him. God put that gift there. God lit that on fire within him. I am merely a resource and a teacher to help fuel that flame.
My first self-help book was about feelings. So, I thought I’d make the first self-teaching book that I shared with my son be about feelings too. He was two years old. He was already a decade ahead of where I was in the journey to understand myself.

My opinion is that not enough parents teach their children about feelings. They think that is something they’ll just pick up on. Or they don’t even think about feelings and emotions as something that needs to be taught. It is just as important as A, B, C’s and 1, 2, 3’s. We function in a society that depends on interaction with others… which depends on feelings and emotions to navigate through those interactions.

So my son and I would read over and over again, per his request, books about feelings, emotions, manners, and social scenarios. He would ask to act out the books together. When we played potato-heads we’d act out a bullying situation. Thomas the Train… a birthday party. Action figures… manners. These social scenarios weren’t my choosing. My son was always the lead in our playtime. I played the role of one of his characters. He was the director. I’d always ask “What do I do next?”… or “What does my guy say next?” It was his story. I just helped it come alive.

We played grocery store. We did this often. There are a bunch of lessons to be learned through playing grocery store. We had monopoly money, canned goods, calculators, and grocery bags… converting the living room into our grocery store. He was always the cashier and I was the shopper. He told me what my lines were… you know… what to say. As usual, he was the director and I was a character.

Once when my son was 5 years old and we played grocery store, something amazing happened. A lesson that I couldn’t have predicted or prepared for. I was the shopper. I took my items to my son, the cashier, to “pay”.
He said, “Hello. How are you today?”

I said my pre-determined line, “Hi. I’m fine. How are you?” (I usually made up an accent of some sort just to mix-it-up a bit.)
He was casually ringing up my items and placing them in the bag. He said, “Well, I’m okay. My grandma just died though.”

I was taken back. We were on the brink of something phenomenal here. My son, as the cashier, was about to talk about the loss of his Grandmommy. She had just passed away unexpectedly a few months prior. My son was reluctant to talk about it… as my son. The feelings were too raw and unfamiliar. But now, as the cashier, we could talk about it. Me, the shopper, and him, the cashier, casually talked about his Grandmommy. Just like you’d really do in a grocery store scenario. Time stood still. He worked through his feelings.

My son gets it. He gets emotions because he lives in a secure and safe environment where discussion of those feelings are encouraged and nurtured. It is safe to cry and say he is sad without getting laughed at. We have words and phrases and social scenarios to understand these feelings… to process these feelings… to communicate these feelings.

My goal is to raise one of those children who will not need to spend their adulthood getting over their childhood. I don’t want him to have anything to get over. I plan to send him on his way into the world as a whole being… completed. When he picks up where I eagerly began teaching him… he will be shot into the sky like a shooting star. His spiritual gifts will pour out and touch the world in the form of shining light… free to live outside of him.




Sunday, August 12, 2012

From Observer to Participator in Life



For a great part of my life I was an observer, not a participator. There were things I was trying to figure out and learn about… things like… life, feelings, interactions, humor, people, relationships, emotions, and love. I was a student and the world around me was the teacher. There were things that I was not taught at home and at school… things that I had to figure out on my own.

There was a definitive point in my life. I don’t remember much about my childhood but I do remember this. This point is when I realized that I had to discipline myself, teach myself, parent myself, grow myself, and nurture myself… if I wanted to become emotionally evolved that is. I had to fill-in the blanks. I had to finish the job that my parents and teachers so eagerly began in me. It was up to me to correct the inadequacies of my life. I was now responsible for my outcome. I suppose that’s where the term “self-help” was birthed… helping yourself to become more.  

In my teenage years I began reading self-help books. Many of which I checked out from the public library. My first one was about feelings. I can remember thinking, “WOW! Is that what these things I feel are all about?  You mean, there are NAMES for the emotions I carry?!”

We didn’t talk about these foreign feelings in my family. Nobody ever defined my emotions for me. Nobody ever gave me the words. Looking back at this definitive point I can see God’s guidance in my life. Even though God and religion were other things we didn’t discuss in our home. God marked my heart at a young age. Nothing else explains my young heart’s desire to seek out self-help techniques.

That’s the great thing about our spiritual gifts… they are inside us waiting to be nourished. They will do anything to get out and touch the world. We, as their transporters, must be willing to seek out the knowledge and allow those gifts to live outside of us. My knowledge for the gift of emotional honesty and interpersonal relationships was found in the world and nourished in the public library.

I was an observer of life. I was yearning to learn more. I wanted to participate.

People tell me that I am outgoing… a people person. Now I am. But, that wasn’t always the case. I wasn’t comfortable with people for a long time because I didn’t understand them yet… I didn’t understand me yet!

Once I felt like my time to be a participator and not just observe had come… I was out of my comfort zone a lot. It was emotionally exhausting. At home after a social outing, I’d find myself recalling conversations I had with people… word-for-word. Dissecting mannerisms. Correcting myself for things I could have said differently. I was the teacher. I was the student.

Not that I have it all figured out now. But, I’ve got a great understanding of the world and people in it. I was a GREAT teacher. I was a GREAT student. As the teacher, I finally gave myself permission to graduate. Top of the class, I might add! It was time to put my knowledge into practice.

I made the switch from an observer to a participator in my late 20’s -early 30’s. I say often that it has taken a great majority of my adulthood to get over my childhood. Might I add to that statement… to teach and parent myself as well.

I have observed people who have at 20 years of age what I have now in my late 30’s (very late 30’s). I’ve studied society and the world that I interact in… the conclusion I have come to about these people is that they had a childhood with very few things to get over… or very few things to teach themselves about… or very few ways in which they need to parent themselves… or very few self-help situations. These young people didn’t spend and aren’t spending the majority of their adulthood getting over their childhood. There wasn’t anything to get over!

Then, there are those who never teach themselves beyond their teenage years… or never take responsibility for who they can become… or never evolve emotionally… or never help themselves.  They don’t get it. They blame their inadequacies and stunted emotional growth on their parents. They are victims of their circumstances… even if those circumstances took place 30 years ago. I am mostly sad for these people. They have a truck load of stuff from their childhood that they need to get over; yet, they don’t. And, the longer it resides in their heart the deeper it all just becomes who they are.

The miracles that astonish me are those people who also have a truck load of stuff from their childhood to get over and they actually do it! They rise above their circumstances. These people are like a Phoenix… rising above the ashes that were their foundation as a child. They evolve emotionally. They eventually participate in life. They don’t let their circumstances define who they are. They self-help themselves to a higher level.

I am no longer just an observer. I am a participator. Some might even say I participate a little too much in life! I can be a bit much to handle. But, my participation comes from an honest, pure, and healed place within me. My participation has taken on a life of its own. It pours out and touches the world in the form of shining light. It is now free to live outside of me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Story




The theme of “Story” is everywhere I go right now. As a teacher starting a new school year, we talked about our story. At my church we are beginning a series called “Story”. And, one of my favorite authors, Donald Miller, is offering conferences around the theme of your story. That’s a trifecta of stories! Normally it would only take one of those encounters to get me pondering the idea behind my own story. But with three story themes at the same time… I am more than pondering the idea. I am internalizing it!

Each of these stories themes are popping up within all three realms of my life. Although those realms overlap … these are the three distinct realms of my world right now. Teacher, Christian, and Me (“Me” encompasses all the hats I wear).

At school we had to come up with a 6 word story. Just 6 words! How do you sum up any existence with just 6 words? I am certain that my 6 words would change. If I did this exercise next year I know my words would be chosen differently. The 6 words I chose were… “Nourish the light that’s within you!” Those words seem to define my place in life right now… not only as a person but as a teacher as well. I attempt to nourish the uniqueness about all 500 plus students that I have in my Art classes… so that they can shine their light a little brighter.

My church hasn’t begun the story series yet. But, I know it will be good. All of their series are great! With this theme I am going to search for meaning behind how God is the writer and editor of my own story. I’ll keep you posted on how that’s working out for me.
In Donald Miller’s conferences he is teaching how to create your life’s story. How to actually write it out and assign words to your life… a story book about you. Having a purposeful story that you are living out. 

“The most fascinating people in the world are telling great stories with their lives. They know a secret, that God has given them shared agency. The truth is any of us can tell a great story with our lives.” –Donald Miller

I feel like I already am creating my life’s story through my blog. Yet, my posts are in random order with random ideas about random occurrences about yesterdays. What if we explored the story we want to tell with our life? Instead of just going through the motions. What if, like a story, we edited our life as we wrote it… day by day? Instead of just allowing ourselves to make the same “grammatical” mistakes. What if we, along with God, were writing the story with each step we take?

Our story unfolds a chapter at a time with each day we wake-up. If you are reading this then your story is still being written. What do you want the next chapter to say? Is it the climax? Is it the turning point in your story? What title would you give your life’s story? Would anyone want to even read your story? Or is it the same stuff…different chapter? Who would you dedicate your life’s story to?

I am obviously being challenged to answer all of these questions myself. The story trifecta has encroached upon my life. The plot thickens…. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Yes or No



It is not enough to learn to say no. No is easy to say. Let’s try it out…

Will you help me move?
No.

Will you pop this zit on my back for me?
No.

Will you change my adult diaper?
No.

See… isn’t that easy?! When you say no to the above questions, you are saying no to some pretty undesirable situations. We know that by saying yes to those things we will say no to our dignity. Sometimes we are asked questions that are harder to say no to. Or those questions are responded to out of habit. Therefore, we say yes.

We say yes to more obligations. We say yes to another piece of cake. We say yes to another drink. We say yes to a sexual advance from a co-worker. When you say yes to those things… there are a million other things you are saying no to. Those yes answers are translated as no answers. No to your down-time. No to your desire to lose weight. No to your ability to defeat addiction. No to your family and spouse.

What we most need to learn in life is how to say yes more purposefully. Choose to say yes to those things that are most important to you. Choose to say yes to things you value. For some of us we have to figure out what it is we value in the first place.

If you value your down-time then only say yes to the things that will permit you to relax, regroup, and refresh. Then, say no to the things that steal that time away.

If you value your health then only say yes to the things that will encourage good health. Then, say no to the things that hinder you from being healthy.

If you value family and friends then only say yes to the things that will support your time with them. Then, say no to things that don’t support those relationships.

It takes one no to produce a million yeses. It takes one yes to produce a million noes. What are you saying yes and no too?

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Favorite Color


When my son was born he had the most beautiful blue eyes I’ve ever seen. They looked right into your soul. He still has eyes… the same ones to be exact! But he’s grown into them a bit more.

Whenever my son asks me what my favorite color is I always reply “My favorite color is blue because that’s the color of your eyes.” And, it is true. His eyes are the color of love. His eyes are the color of joy. His eyes are the color of comfort. His eyes are the color of hope. His eyes are the color of a future. I love his eyes. They are my favorite color.

They look at me for the questions to ask. They look to me for the answers. They look at me for how to live out this journey. They look to me for the path to take. They look at me for God. They look to me for God.

Today my son told me that when he is a Daddy and he has his own child that he will change his favorite color to the color of their eyes. I asked, “What if your children are born with two different colored eyes?” (You know, just to help him learn problem solving skills.) He sprung back with, “I’d just accept them and love them for who they are!” 

You see… I am not only raising a son… I am raising my grandchildren’s Daddy. As if raising a child wasn’t a big enough job already!


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Forgiving Myself... packing away the yoga pants



I am forgiven. Forgiven for my past… my present and future too. That is freeing. That is liberating. That is renewing. The hardest part, though, was forgiving myself.

Feelings of guilt, failure, shame, sadness, and anger were a part of who I was for so many years. Those feelings were like wearing an old pair of yoga pants. Sure I could change out of them, and probably should because quite honestly they aren’t very flattering, but they were familiar to me. Comfy. Even if they didn’t fit me well. I still would put them on every day. One leg at a time. Left leg, guilt. Right leg, shame.

Once I realized that those feelings weren’t serving me well. Once I saw in the mirror of God’s love how those yoga pants really make me look… I slowly began to find the courage to forgive myself and strip the feelings away… one leg at a time. I prayed.  I prayed A LOT. That’s when my heart to began to soften. It was through a lot of hard work and many conversations with God that I stepped out of my past. I slowly began to see myself differently. In a new light. Through God’s eyes. I saw myself as God’s child. Depantsed and all!


I’m not sure I’d be able to understand God’s unconditional and perfect love for me if I weren’t a parent myself. I remember looking at my son and realizing that if in my imperfect and sinful heart I could love him THIS much… how much MUST my God love me?! WOW! I still cry with an overwhelming joy at the thought of that. I mean, I cannot imagine loving someone more than my son. And, yet, God can!


It took me many years to fully forgive myself. And, it has been many years since that time. Still from time-to-time those memories of the past try to get me to put them back on. But, those reminders aren’t from God. Those hurtful memories resurface to attempt to diminish God’s love and shining light inside me.

I took those old feelings and permanently packed them away. Yep, I took those yoga pants off the hanger and I shipped them straight to God… first class. He holds those hurtful memories for me now. I can’t be trusted with them. I try to relive the shame and guilt of those memories. If I still had those yoga pants in my closet… I’d try to put them back on. It is sometimes easier to just be comfortable. I’m better off if God has them in His possession. He has them locked away and I do not have the key. I do not want the key.

God gave me a new key. This one has opened the door to a life of peace, love, and forgiveness. Claiming that key isn’t enough though. I have to actively operate the key. I have to pick-up the key. I have to turn the key. I have to open that door. It’s my choice. I choose THAT key every day.




Monday, August 6, 2012

Living My Life Out Loud



“To read is to empower. To empower is to write. To write is to influence. To influence is to change.  To change is to live.” ~ Jane Evershed

A friend of mine posted this quote on my facebook page. I wrote it down in my blogging journal as a reminder that I am living my life out loud through my blog. I am influencing people. I am changing lives… including my own.

My purpose for blogging is to share my life experiences with you so that you can find peace and in knowing that you aren’t alone in your feelings, thoughts, and emotions…and that maybe you can gain a new understanding or perspective through my words.  I put words and sense to my experiences, in doing so, I put words and sense to your experiences. We say “You too?!” to each other. I feel as though if a particular blog for the day touches even one person’s life then it was worth the effort. That’s my goal… to reach one person a day!

I began blogging about a month ago and people have commented to me that they are amazed that I write a blog almost every day. I really look forward to my writing time. It is a chance to pause and reflect. A chance to grow and learn. When I write it is a moment in life when I am in tune with myself and with God.

 The funny thing is that I don’t even think a lot about what I write nor do I edit it much either. Those with an eye for grammar probably recognize this. I write in fragmented sentences. I use dot, dot, dot a lot. I begin sentences with and, but, because. I write like I talk.  I just sit down and the words flow out of me like a river. I tap into the source of my inner being and I am vulnerable and I am honest and I am a conduit for messages.
Even before I began blogging I’d have these same conversations in my mind… same thoughts… same ideas. The only difference is that now I am sharing them with you as they come to me… no, that’s not right… they don’t come TO me they come THROUGH me.

I don’t have a specific time of day that I write… or a special place that I write at. I’ve written sitting on the floor of my bathroom in a towel because something came to me while I was in the shower. I’ve written at my son’s Marital Arts class, in the car, in the kitchen, in bed… you could say that my writing gets around! I just write whenever an idea or message comes to mind. Some writing sessions are good. I can write for hours… one thought moving fluidly to the next. Some are duds. I write a couple of paragraphs and then nothing… it doesn’t go anywhere. I will lay those pages down. Maybe they will come to life again or maybe not. Either way, I am not concerned… it just wasn’t time for those ideas to surface. Not yet.

I those who have come along side me during the birth of my blog… THANK YOU! I truly couldn’t have done it without your support, encouragement, and love. This is only the beginning. As I continue to live my life out loud… thank you for reading! 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Anakin Phase



My son was Anakin Skywalker for Halloween when he was 5. He’d say he was Star Wars biggest fan. When we bought that costume he wore it daily. He wore it for years. I had to cut off the boots that were attached to it so he could fit into it. He still wore it even when the pants were like capris. He wore it OUT! I finally suggested that he retire the costume. But, I saved it. It has a lot of memories. I have lots of pictures of him in this Anakin costume. 

Whenever he did wear it… he was in full character. He’d wield his light saber around like only a true Jedi could. He even had me make him a braided tail like Padawan Anakin had in the movies. If it were up to my son… he’d probably have grown a tail of his own. I had to stop the insanity somewhere…I drew the line at a braided tail. He would even draw a scar on his face with a red marker like Anakin had after the “fall” to the dark side. Once he even used permanent marker to draw the scar. He said it was an accident. I think the truth is more like he just got tired of drawing it every day. The “permanent scar” lasted about 3 days…probably would have been longer if I hadn’t exfoliated the scar with my brisk scrubbing action.

I was reminded of this costume the other day when I was vacuuming. I was reminiscing my son’s Anakin phase. I remembered when I would vacuum he would chase the vacuum around with his light saber… defeating the vacuum with each swing as if the vacuum was a Droid. He thought he was really in battle. It made me smile. Vacuuming took a little longer but I didn’t mind. I thought there would be day when I would miss this phase. I never stopped him for these vacuum attacks. He needed to pretend… no… he needed to BE Anakin.

My son held on to that costume and the idea of being Anakin until it stopped serving him well. Until he found another identity to become. Until he out grew that particular costume. Until he no longer needed to BE Anakin. Until he could BE someone else. Then, he let go.

Oh… how we could all learn from children! They are sooo wise! Why don’t adults let go of the things that don’t serve them well…of the things that they out grow… of old habits… of old relationships… of old behaviors… of old ways? Why do they continue to BE who they are even if it isn’t serving them well? Why can’t they just pack that particular costume away and BE someone new?

The day has come when I miss that Anakin phase. My little Anakin Skywalker is now going into the 4th grade. His detachable, braided tail has fallen to the way-side. His red marker scar has faded away. His capri costume pants have been packed away in storage with all of his other childhood favorites. He is no longer a Padawan. That role no longer serves him well. He is a Master.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

We Are Family



I come from a family. You come from a family. We all come from a family. Whether we want to publicly claim them or not is another question. I’ve heard families being described as blended, dysfunctional, loving, abusive, nurturing, caring, traditional, and strict. There are a lot of ways to describe a family. They can be adoptive, step, extended, half, paternal, in-laws, and foster. They can be an obligation, a blessing, or a source of pain. Yep, family is a complicated group of people.

My entire family is amazing... extended, step, half, paternal, and in-laws.  Sure we have our own share of nut cases. But, overall I do feel blessed… by most of them! When I was about 3 years old my family moved to Arizona from New Jersey . So, growing up I didn’t have an extended family as a constant support group. I sure do wish I had that. I was jealous of people who did. Even as an adult, I still have a little hole in my heart for the connections and relationships I missed out on because we lived so far away.  When I go back to visit, I cherish the time I get to have with my extended family and I attempt to build relationships…attempting to fill that hole.

I have found families in other places too. The great thing about these families is that I’ve chosen them in my life… so they fit just right! They have become the cousins that I didn’t have growing up, the sisters who I can relate to, the aunts that can be my mentors, and the grandmas that share their wisdom.

One of these families that I have found is at the school where I teach Art. We started back to school this week. We have a few days without the students to have meetings and get our classrooms set-up. Even though I was in denial up until the moment when I stepped back onto campus… my heart quickly changed when I exchanged hugs and smiles and welcome back greetings. It was like a family reunion. No... it wasn’t like a family reunion… it WAS a family reunion.

Although we have been away from school for the summer…most of us made time for each other to meet for lunch, play on facebook, pull pranks on each other, and at the least, thought about each other during the summer months. Even though the only thing that binds this family together is that we all teach… we are choosing to be a family. We could just as well show up for work and keep to ourselves. But, that’s not us. We cook meals for one another when someone is sick, we send cards, we hug, we call at home, we add joy to each other’s days, we visit, we send flowers, we secretly give up our sick days to someone who has to take a lot of time off work (shhhhh…don’t tell), we make each other laugh and smile, we shower each other with gifts, we have been known to show up to one another’s classrooms in a red wagon, and we love.

We welcomed a bunch of new staff members to our school this year…our family embraced them. I am not too worried about these new teachers fitting in or being family like because it is a standard at our school. We set the tone. We set the vibe. We clap the rhythm. And others will dance along. We are family not because we have to be…but because we choose to be! 

Friday, August 3, 2012

Hair



From one hairy beast to another, if as humans we were completely bald and didn’t have hair anywhere on our bodies… kind of like those hairless cats, but much cuter…. wouldn’t life be easier?! Imagine how much time and money we would save!

Personally, I would save a lot! I have a lot of hair...EVERYWHERE!

I get the hair on my head cut and colored (I know you are surprised that THIS isn’t my natural color). Cha-Ching! I have a million hair products … from shampoo and conditioner, to straightening cream, to shining oil, to curling mousse, to sea salt spray… depending on my mood. Cha-Ching! I have blow dryers (yes, plural), curling irons (again, plural), a straightening iron, brushes, combs, and hair accessories. Cha-Ching! That’s all just for the hair on my head. I haven’t even mentioned the time I take to wash, dry, and style this wild bush on my head! Tick-Tock!

I have facial hair that I have to maintain too! This is a blessing of getting older. You younger ladies, consider yourselves warned. I pluck and wax… or shave if I can’t get around to doing either of those. Tick-Tock! I’ve already made my friends promise that if I am in the hospital unconscious that they’d “take care of” my facial hair situation. With a weed-wacker if they have too! The alternative is that the circus will recruit me as the Bearded Lady.

Then, I have body hair! Dear Lord, does it ever end?! Arms, arm pits, legs and well… I’m not going to talk specifics here… I’ll spare the rest of the details. Those areas go without saying. But, I shave and I have waxed all that too! Cha-Ching! And, Tick-Tock! And, OUCH!

See what I mean? Time…Tick-Tock! Money…Cha-Ching! All on hair maintenance! There are jobs and entire industries out there for hair….stylists, waxers, products, hair growth, wigs/ toupees.  There are stores and salons you can go to for your hair. The grocery store devotes isles just to hair products. There is even a musical about hair!

I suppose I could let it all go and not maintain it at all…. all natur’al!  Hahahaha! That was funny! Ummmm… NO! I will continue to offer my hair maintenance as a public service just for you. You are welcome!

It is nice to imagine not having to deal with all of this hair. But, since we weren’t all created like the hairless cats… I sure do feel blessed that I do in fact have all of this hair... okay, most of it!