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Never Too Late to Learn

September 20, 2016 was the beginning of another one of our adventures.  This time, we were leaving “home” for 6 months.  Escaping winter was our reason, and we were also looking forward to trying out new jobs as campground hosts at Osprey Cove on Naval Station Mayport.  This also gave us the chance to try out the “full-time” RV lifestyle.  At the time, I didn’t realize the profound impact this journey would have for me.

There were so many lessons crammed into the past 7 months.  Lessons about grace, life, joy, peace, and growth.  It is my hope to capture those lessons here as I remember them, and record the new lessons we are about to learn.  Over the next 32 days, we will finish packing and storing “stuff”, moving out of our house and selling whatever we don’t need, become the proud owners of a 5th wheel that we have yet to discover, and dive into a full-time RV lifestyle.  I’m pretty sure I have a lot of learning in my future!

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A Hard Sad Day

Today was a very hard day for us.  We had to make the heart-wrenching decision to let our Piper cross the Rainbow Bridge.  We were fortunate to have found some angels in disguise at a local Vet clinic that were beyond kind and compassionate.

Our Piper was 15 years old – just shy of 15 ½.  We brought her home the day she was brought into the local shelter when she was 8 weeks old.  I can tell you – 15 years just wasn’t enough.  But we knew in our heart it was time.  When you bring home a new puppy, the last thing on your mind is the end.  As time passes, it starts to enter your mind.  Lately, we have been struggling with when we would have to make the decision.  They say that you know when it’s time.  And you do.  You have the painful realization that quality for your precious companion isn’t there and you know it in your heart.  You feel it – see their pain, realize that to go on would be for your comfort alone.  Your heart argues to just let nature take its course so you have more time together, but it also argues that you know that your beloved companion doesn’t deserve the pain, indignity, and suffering.

And you make the decision.  And if you are blessed beyond belief, you will have the wonderful network of family and friends that we have been blessed with.  Your family will listen, they will share your pain and the agony of your decision, and they will love you through it all.  They will surround you and cover you with love and compassion – let you begin to heal and listen to you repeat the same stories of your time together.  They will cherish your memories with you, sit in silence, offer you the reassurance that what you did was “the right thing” (especially when doubt creeps in).  You will discover angels that will come to check on you – just because they felt God nudge them.  (Thanks to Melvin and Annette!)

We aren’t done with the tears; we aren’t done sharing stories and memories.  It’s going to take some time to not walk in and look for our girl.  It will be hard to sleep all night without getting up to make our midnight runs.  It will also be a relief to not watch her struggle to move, to not see the anxiety and restlessness trying to get comfortable.

Heaven gained a furry angel today.  We have a Piper-sized wound in our heart and soul.  One day, we will find 4 little paws that will help that wound heal – and enlarge our heart yet again.  I used to say that losing them left a hole in your heart.  I think instead that having our pets is a way to increase the size of our hearts and ability to love.  Losing them leaves a wound, and in time, the wound will heal with the right care.  You’ll never be the same, but you’ll be ready to start increasing the size of your heart and ability to love with another when the time is right. 

Keep our family in your prayers please, as we take some time to heal.  Love your precious companion today – extra scritches and maybe an extra treat or two.  Cherish the time and memories together.

Our girl – Piper – August 5, 2007 – January 21, 2023. Love you and miss you!

A Month and a Half Later…

My last blog post wasn’t exactly uplifting – but it was honest.  We’ve been here in Tampa for a month and a half now.  It’s amazing what you can learn about yourself.  I think I may have learned my most important lessons for this year just recently.  More about that in a minute. 

I am in a much better place mentally, spiritually, and physically.  After setting up camp, I think the first thing we did was start working on hitting 10k steps a day again.  What a difference movement and exercise makes.  I know this, and yet I forget.  The first week was an uphill battle – my legs hurt, I didn’t want to make/take the time, it was hot and humid, the beach wasn’t Mayport, a thousand excuses…  But thanks to Bill and remembering how it used to feel, we persisted.  I think we’ve only missed 10k a day maybe 5 or 6 days since then.  So, lesson 1 was really a remembering…exercise is a critical part of each day.  And when it seems like it takes too much time, I set a goal and divide it in half.  Instead of saying I will walk an hour, I decide to walk 30 minutes out.  Obviously, I have to walk back home, but I am 30 minutes away (at least).  Often this morphs into a longer excursion.  My next goal is to add workouts/cross training back in.  Lesson 2, related, is to not compare me now to what I used to do.  In the past, I was doing cross training 5 or 6 days a week.  Things change, I will not expect to jump right back at the same level.  I will work up to that – or to what feels right for me now.

The first two lessons helped to ground me and reframe my attitude.  Lesson 3 is to never take for granted or become arrogant about your physical ability.  Thinking “I will always be physically active and never let myself be less than that” – you’re setting yourself up for a fall.  Mentally and physically.  Be grateful every day for the ability to move and exercise your body and your mind.  Lesson 3 – gratitude for the amazing body and mind we are given and the responsibility to maintain it.

Lesson 4 – distance and perspective.  When we left Michigan, there were a number of things that were just weighing me down.  I lost perspective and gave in to feelings of being overwhelmed.  Thanks to travel – which provided physical distance, and less “busy-ness”, I had time to reflect on each situation.  One of the most troubling was our church.  When a church becomes a building with conflict, church isn’t.  There were other things that were troubling as well.  In any case – it all just felt overwhelming.  The farther away we traveled, it seemed that my focus on these items actually sharpened.  I have a favorite saying – “be careful who you have in your boat – make sure they are rowing with you and not drilling holes to sink the ship if they can’t be the captain.”  It’s interesting how much stepping back and looking at the whole situation helps you to see and be aware.  You realize that the people you least expect might just be the ones with the drills.  This is true of groups, organizations, and personal relationships.  Don’t be fooled by first impressions (although they can give important clues), smooth talking, or lots of impressive words.  Watch actions, sometimes they shout the truth.

Lesson 5 – trust your gut.  If you doubt your feelings, lessons 1 and 4 might be helpful to clarify and confirm your concerns. Theories, book-smarts – they have their place – but trusting your gut and getting out of your head is a good thing.

As we enter this holiday season, I pray that you are taking care of yourself – making you a priority.  It’s not selfish, you have the time, and you are so worth it!  I also pray that you will take time to reflect on situations that may be weighing you down.  Are you rowing with the crew, or drilling holes because you can’t be the captain (and I think most people, including me, have been there at least once)?  I think that comes under serving the greater good versus serving yourself.

Lesson 1 – Exercise and move – outside if possible.

Lesson 2 – Don’t compare yourself with others – or with your former self.

Lesson 3 – Gratitude each and every day for your body and your mind.

Lesson 4 – Distance and Perspective

Lesson 5 – Trust your gut.

Time to move!

Trees and Forests and Such

We started our annual trek southbound on Sunday.  This summer was painfully short and definitely not sweet.  There were good times, but mostly frustrating.  We lost almost two of our 5 ½ months in Michigan to COVID.  First was the isolation and waiting, confirming what we already knew, testing positive, and recovery.  Then finished off the summer isolating and escaping, but caring for family that did test positive.  For all you folks that don’t believe it’s a real thing, I don’t even have time for you.

This summer was really stressful – and it wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own.  It took leaving for me to realize this.  How stressful?  Not sleeping, eating horribly, not exercising, not taking/making quiet time for listening for God’s calming voice and feeling his presence.  My body hurts, my mind is chaotic, my spirit is turbulent.  And before anyone starts apologizing – not your fault.  Like I said, it took leaving for me to figure this out.

After much reflection, I realize that distance grants you perspective.  Let’s try for an analogy – you know the old “can’t see the forest for the trees”?  I let myself get so focused on my “trees” – things I perceived to be crises or potential crises – that I lost perspective.  As we drove south, I realized that just because we left Michigan, the same situations were still present – I just had distance between the situation and me.  The “situations” ranged from my health, my family and friends, volunteer organizations, employment, church (especially church right now), even travel plans.  Our Michigan “homebase” campground is for sale, so some unsettled feelings there.  None of that has changed since we left – it’s just a bit more distant. 

When I allow situations to overwhelm me, I lose faith and fail to remember that I don’t have to be in control.  Helplessness and resentment takes over.  Distance causes me to rely on faith that things will work out with my interference.  I completely lose sight of long-term goals and outcomes, as well as the ability to identify the steps to achieve them.  Kinda like somebody took one of my paddles, and I can only propel my canoe in circles.  Frustration follows quickly on the heals of helplessness and resentment.  Frustrated that I should know better, that I don’t take corrective action instead of just overplanning it, that I don’t have faith in the grander, larger plan.

When this stuff starts to happen, I stop doing things that bring me joy.  Probably because I think I don’t deserve it.  I mean, hey – I have to spend all my time ruminating, griping, heaping more “stuff” on my plate.  I also recently realized that the more stressed I am – the more I try to take on.  Like I don’t already have enough on my plate – let’s heap on more.  Maybe, subconsciously, I feel like I will finally be able to control something and will get everything else in line. 

Control, helplessness, resentment, frustration, dissatisfaction – these are all feelings that I allow.  No one is standing over me with a stick trying to beat them in – I am just standing there opening the door and welcoming them.  Distance allows me to really look at the situation, and see it for what it is.  Something I can’t (and shouldn’t) try to control.  Trust that God is indeed in control, and it’s not necessary for me to see the reasons – but it is vital for me to trust and have faith in the outcome.  Not up to me to save the world – He created it, already has the grand plan – all I have to do is trust. 

Perhaps trust is just part of the equation.  God created the world, and I don’t believe He meant for it to be all work and no play.  Appreciating the glorious things he made (and that includes ourselves) is high up on the list of priorities.  Taking care of me has moved up on the priority list considerably. 

My annual wellness visit with my doctor was unsettling this year.  Nothing major, but I was discussing a few minor concerns with her.  Her recommendation/prescription?  Start taking care of myself with the same care I take for others, and before I take care of others.  Make my health a priority.  Now, this sounds suspiciously like the advice I used to hand out to others (and still do).  And yes, I have blogged about this before.  To actually have someone “prescribe” this – not sure how I feel about that.

Bill is so precious.  He never chastises me for my idiosyncrasies – even though he sees them long before I do.  All he does is support and encourage.  Find yourself someone like that – someone who tolerates the grumpy, frumpy, cranky, frustration and loves you anyway.  They don’t decide what you need or make their needs and wants more important than your desires.  For those people have been placed in your life by God’s loving hand and intention.  They inspire you to grow – to climb up out of the chaos and into the sunshine.

I think it’s time to sit among the trees and survey the beauty of the forest.  I don’t need to cut down any trees or rearrange the landscape.  Breathe in the clean, refreshing air, listen to the birds and the sound of the wind, play in the dirt and revel in green growing things.

Happy Birthday To Me!

I think that the more birthdays we celebrate, the more reflective we get.  At least, this is true for me.  I’ve been doing a lot of thinking this past week.  Several things have crossed my path – things I’ve read, heard, or seen – and they have kicked my brain into gear.

First – the image/vision/concept/opinion other people have of me is not my responsibility.  My first thought was “absolutely wrong!” – what others think of me depends on how I conduct myself.  Then I started listening to others express opinions about other people.  Some people only see what they want to see, most of us form opinions of others based on our past experiences, and few of us really take the opportunity to delve deep enough to learn about that person.  Therefore, act with kindness – certainly towards others – but also toward myself and concern myself with presenting (in my opinion) the best version of myself.

Next – and this seems to be a recurring theme for me – is to decide that I am enough and worthy just as I am.  I don’t have to wait for validation from others (see above).  My hopes, dreams, and aspirations are just as important as yours.  So why do I always push mine to the back?  I think that sometimes we are taught to always put others before our own needs.  I also know from experience that you can’t pour from an empty cup.  Failure to fill one’s own cup severely limits your ability to give to others.  What do you put off for yourself because you put everyone else first?

Newton’s Laws of Motion – seriously need to reboot on this one. 

Change is inevitable and flexibility is essential.  This one is not really related to my birthday – but it is floating around with these other thoughts.  Our little church is getting a new pastor.  We have been changing pastors annually for a while now for a variety of reasons.  Most recently we had Pastor Dan – he is an inspiring teacher.  He is also the father of a young family.  He made the very difficult decision to leave the ministry for a time to focus on his family.  Not only does he talk the talk – he really walks the talk.  Some of our church members are pretty upset.  I started thinking about how our lives are shaped by teachers (official and incidental).  We spend 12 years of our childhood with a minimum of 12 different teachers – and for most of us – many more than that once we reach middle and high school.  We are not given the choice – we just show up.  That exposure to so many different teachers helped to shape our knowledge – we were treated to diverse opinions and teaching methods.  Some good, some less – but all presented learning opportunities.  Some churches have the same pastor for many years.  While this may be comforting, it also leads to a very limited view and exposure to learning opportunities in many cases.  Anyway – change and flexibility are key to not becoming stagnant.

After much thought, care consideration, and the daring decision to be bold about this – I have decided to gift myself with two things.

First – the decision to not worry about other’s opinion of me.  I will work on improving my opinion of myself in regards to being the best version of me that I can be.

Second – I am gifting myself a “no” day once a week.  One day each week, I will say no in order to say yes to myself.  That day may change, likely be scheduled, and I will not feel guilty.  (Might have to have that tattooed where I can see it!)  Understand that this is not about people asking for help, volunteer commitments, or the like.  I am not doing this to make others feel guilty about asking for help.  I am doing this so I can be a better version of me.  I can see and feel the effects of overextending myself.  Perhaps you have experienced these symptoms?  Things like not sleeping well, not exercising regularly, poor food choices, losing patience, neglecting activities that bring you joy…you get the picture.  I get cranky, shaky (seriously – end up with shaky hands), and achy. 

I am really disappointed in myself, and it’s hard to admit that I have almost quit any meaningful fitness activity.  My weight is creeping up, my energy is at an all-time low, and the worst part is my attitude.  I catch myself being very negative instead of positive and optimistic. 

Actually, I am gifting myself three things.  The third being a return to the basics of good health.  Combining a recommitment to Noom with a recommitment to an exercise program that I know works.  It will be hard – but it will be worth it – I am worth it.  I will know that it is working by my energy levels and my attitude.

So, my dear family and friends – I am asking you to understand if I say no.  It doesn’t mean I don’t love you dearly – I do.  I want to be there for you 100% – and I want to be the best that I can – for me and for you.  If you choose to feel hurt or neglected – remember that is your choice.

I would challenge each of you that reads this to do the same for yourself.  Realize that in order to be there and serve others with your whole being, you have to be there for yourself first.

Love you all – and thank you for the gift of your friendship!

Reboot…and Redress for Self-Sabotage

After that fun little journey with self-sabotage, and a whole lotta reflection.  I took some suggestions for a redress of the situation.  They focused on “self” stuff.  Self-care, self-trust, self-love, and self-compassion.  I realized that one of my bigger sticking points was self-trust. 

If you know me, you probably know that I trust my gut in a lot of situations.  It was my default in tense/critical nursing situations with patients.  I still tend to default to it in dealing with others.  It rarely lets me down.  So, why on earth would I want to trust it on myself?  That is a whole work-in-progress.  Same with self-compassion.  Bill is really good about reminding me of this in a gentle way.

Self-care is a hurdle sometimes.  I have been having trouble focusing on health goals.  Seems like every week I state a new goal with my coach – and that is as far as it gets.  They aren’t related, don’t build on each other.  It’s a case of monkey-mind at it’s finest.  Yesterday she asked me to identify one – just one (her emphasis) that I thought would benefit me most.  After much thought…hydration, meditation, nutrition, journaling, etc., I decided to engage in a little self-trust and go with my gut.  Exercise, I told her, I need to re-engage in exercise.  Something that gets my heart rate up, and my mind focused on movement.  (I have a couple of excellent books that delve into this, and am going to pull them back out.)  So she asked me to set a goal for this week related to exercise.  My response – 30-minute workouts 5-6 days a week.  Her response – is that doable?  Me:  probably not, but it’s worth a try.  Her:  do 5 minutes today (Monday), 10 minutes tomorrow (Tuesday), and we will check in again on Wednesday.  The exercise program I used to follow had a 5-minute rule…do 5 minutes and if you feel like quitting, it’s okay.  I followed that, and 30 minutes flew by yesterday.  Same thing today!  I am sore, and really disappointed at how hard it was compared to a   couple years ago.  More importantly, I am proud of myself for rebooting and loving the feeling of having that exercise done.  Wait!!!  Check it out – I incorporated self-trust, engaged in self-care, indulged in self-compassion, and dabbled in a little self-love!

It may only be two days worth – but it is two days.  Before I go to bed tonight, I will lay out my exercise clothes, fill my water glass, and pick out my workout for tomorrow.  I will listen to my 10-minute meditation audio, and sleep well.  Sleep is another work in progress, at least for me.

These past two weeks have been kind of intense.  This week the focus is on friction in my life.  The exercise is going to come in handy!

Self-Sabotage

(I started this blog on Monday…here it is Thursday, and this has felt like an anchor on my soul.  If you read on, you will see the irony here – and maybe a little humor.  Working through this issue has almost every component mentioned, except shifting responsibility – I fully and completely own this. I am so far out of my comfort zone I need a map to find my way…nope – not going back!)

My positive content reading this morning (3/14/22) was about self-sabotage.  Interesting way to start the week.  The reading concluded with the invitation to consider the possibility that this is happening in my life.  After careful consideration, I’d say there is a 250% chance that I do and have done this!  And in so many aspects of my life. 

Procrastination – may as well jump in with this one (instead of putting it off?!!)  Telling myself that waiting to do something while I think about it for a while – so I can do it better when I actually do it.  Or that I work better under pressure?  Totally not true – and not only that – it has to make everyone around me miserable while I stress about it.  When I think about it – I probably spend about 4 times the amount of time (and energy) putting it off than it would take to just do it.

Perfectionism – the reading pointed out that if you wait until you can do something perfectly, you’ll probably die without having done the thing.  How true is that?  Perfectionism is my excuse for procrastination. 

Comfort Zone – I know this one!  But do I apply it?  Maybe tomorrow….  Staying where it’s comfortable does nothing for growth.  It’s a joy-killer hiding behind “safety”.  And by employing procrastination and perfectionism – there is little excuse or motivation to step up and step out.

Shifting Responsibility – If the first three aren’t excuse enough – it’s not my fault!  And if it’s your fault – it’s out of my control.  I know better than that.  I am responsible for my life and my choices – so why do I keep defaulting to these self-sabotaging behaviors?

Distraction – right up there with procrastination!  Focus on what I am doing – but look – squirrel!  Surely I can find someone/something to blame for me being so easily distracted! 

Negative Self-Talk – Yep – since I have allowed  myself to be distracted, have procrastinated, failed to step out of my comfort zone since I have perfected, and blamed everyone/everything else – it’s now time to beat myself up about it.

Reflecting on my habits and behaviors with respect to self-sabotage has been a painful, thoughtful process.  Somewhere, somehow, I came to believe that I was responsible for just about everything – good, bad, and ugly.  Along with that, the idea that if I rejected people or didn’t let them get too close, I couldn’t be hurt.  What a huge ego…and what a waste of time and energy, and so many missed opportunities. 

A very dear friend, one that I considered my “other mother”, took me aside one day.  She courageously (and if you know me well, you’ll know this is true) sat me down and told me that if I didn’t start letting people into my life and welcome them, that I was going to be very lonely.  She had the guts to tell me that I scared people off and built walls to protect myself.  I wish with all my heart that my 19 or 20 year-old self had listened to her wisdom.  She was acting out of love for me – and we still had a wonderfully close relationship.  I just didn’t want to believe what she was telling me. 

As time went on, I perfected the art of shutting people out.  Anyone was fair game.  Unfortunately, I turned this behavior on the people that were most important to me.  What might start out as being a minor upset over something that happened (inconsequential) could turn into a cold war that countries might be envious of.  To the point that often I couldn’t even remember why I was upset in the first place.  Later in my life, I found (by accident) something that was written about me that had a profound effect on me.  I keep it in my Bible as a reminder of how hurtful I was.

I can see each of these components mentioned above and how they contributed to my behavior.  I am ashamed, embarrassed by the way I acted.  It hasn’t been easy to change – and it’s still a work in progress.  Probably the worst part is the realization that I modeled this behavior to my family and friends.  The second worst is realizing that it was frustration with myself and convincing myself that I wasn’t worthy of their love and forgiveness that was driving my anger.

If I had 10 lifetimes, I could never undo or erase the mistakes I’ve made.  I will, though, try to be a better role model every day.  I try to catch myself, communicate better, and practice forgiveness toward others and myself (that part is important!).  I am practicing gratitude, for my life is richly blessed.  And I am working on practicing grace.  Hopefully, I can offer even a fraction of the outpouring of grace and forgiveness that has been showered on my from my friends and family.

Finally, I offer heartfelt apologies to the many of you that have befallen my “cold war” tactics.  I have no good excuse – just my inability to express/communicate my frustration (mostly with myself!).  My family and friends – you are my dearest treasure – you fill my heart and life with pure joy.  Bear with me – I’m learning and growing in love – because of you!

34 Years!

We celebrate (actually have been for this past week) our 34th anniversary on February 13.  Bill says that every day is a celebration.  I need to make sure that the doctor keeps renewing whatever happy pill he is taking.

I realize how very blessed I am to have these past 34 years.  We have two wonderful children – and it is a joy to watch them on their journey through life.  We have had remarkable adventures – and look forward to many more.  Our families are among our greatest treasures.  Our health seems to be better now than then.  Our joys are abundant.

This is also a bit of a mystery to me.  35 years ago, I was surprised to discover that someone wanted to spend his life with me – surprised and delighted because I knew that I certainly wanted to spend my life with him.  35 years later, I am astounded to realize that he still wants to spend his life with me – and profoundly grateful.

When we were dating, we would spend hours on the phone after we got off work.  I don’t remember the content of those conversations, but I remember treasuring that time.  I remember our dates – unconventional to outside observers – ever so special to me.  Planning our wedding – and family helping with preparations – again, not very conventional but exactly what it should have been.

The more our life expanded, the less time we spent on each other.  I think that is true for most couples.  Looking back, I wish I had kept that a priority.  I do better about that now, I hope.  For a good portion of our life, I always felt like Bill was my better half – and that he made my life complete.  I’ve been pondering that a lot lately.  He certainly is the better half – at communicating, at goal-setting, at list-making (and crossing items off), at being patient with me, at being a solid presence in the midst of the storm.  I love that he set those examples for our kids – honestly, he did a much better job at that than I did. 

This past year, I’ve realized that he doesn’t make my life complete.  He helps me enlarge my borders – broaden my comfort zone so to speak.  I don’t want my life to be complete – that sounds so final.  What I am learning is that by his example, I desire to improve/expand/learn/grow more to meet his challenge.  When I think back to the very things that attracted me to him, I realize they are still there – and so many more reasons have evolved.  Sometimes I need to remember to look back to see how magical the journey has been to this point.

I know I’m not easy to tolerate sometimes.  My communication skills need a lot of work, as does my ability to apologize, forget, and move on.  I am setting my intention to work on this.  I also know that Bill will be patient with me, and I will succeed. 

Bill is my greatest blessing – and I create my own happiness because of his presence, influence, inspiration, and love in my life.  And, Honey – Mr. Wonderful – I will continue to work to be your greatest blessing and help you create your own happiness!  I love you so much – and thank God for you everyday!  Here’s to another awesome 34!

Lert

Reframing….

Today just didn’t happen the way it was supposed to.  Yesterday I went to packet pick up – and the excitement was so much fun!  First in-person since November 2019.  The view from mile 26.  Being around other like-minded friends I haven’t yet met.

It stormed all night last night.  Remember the song from Shari Lewis and Lambchop?  This is the Song That Never Ends?  Well – it was the storm that never ends.  (Now try and get that song out of your head!)  About an hour after I went to bed, my right leg started really hurting.  I had a problem with it last week, but thought I had that pretty much fixed.  Apparently not.  And anyway, my heart was set on the trail run today – so if I ignore the pain, it will go away, right?  Bill had me try going up and down steps here in the house since the course has a total/overall elevation of 4200+ft, and then there are the downhills…  Three steps up and down convinced me that attempting the event wasn’t a good idea.  Memories of being hauled out of the woods in a clam shell when I broke my ankle were enough to seal the deal.

So instead of heading for the starting line, I headed off to the doctor.  Just like that – my goal of 10k steps a day has come to a screeching halt.  For the time being.  Thank you – Achilles’ tendinitis.  Doc gave me several options – and let me choose (with the assurance I could change anytime I needed to).  I opted for RICE, NSAID, and physical therapy.  After I made my choice, he congratulated me and told me that would have been his first recommendation.  I did ask about my step goal…and he confirmed my suspicion that the 10k streak was done.  It was really hard to adult this one.  There may have been a few tears and bad attitude involved.

A friend posted an excellent read on Facebook – one I really needed to see today.  My problem is that I just have to back off for a while – and have other wonderful options for movement – and I let it get all out of proportion.  I realized that I needed an attitude adjustment in the worst way.  Gratitude – not attitude.  I can still move.  I am healthy.  I am loved by so many wonderful people.  I am strong (just not so much in that right heel) and capable.  I have friends that are amazing.  My life is overflowing with blessings, and I am whining.

Grace wins every time!  I will reframe this.  I adjusted my step goal – considerably.  I will start doing some low impact HIIT and strength, and the doc encouraged me to keep up the water aerobics (with modifications) in the therapeutic pool and said swimming is okay.  Those are all things that I have been wanting to get back to anyway.  As soon as I can get my therapy appointment, I will start that adventure.  And I am still so very blessed – this is just a minor inconvenience.  886 days of meeting a 10k step goal – and 887 days of meeting my step goal.  I can still meet my goal – it just isn’t 10k at the moment. It’s time to “step” out of my comfort zone.

I have a half in November and am already signed up for this trail run next year.  I will just be better equipped for it. 

Once more for those in the back of the room – GRACE WINS EVERY TIME!  When you can’t control the circumstance, control your response.  It’s okay to feel bad/defeated/angry – for a little while.  Just don’t live there – Redecorate and reframe – and find new adventures.  I bet you won’t have to look far to realize there are blessings in almost every situation.

Pouring From An Empty Cup

Let me preface this by a few statements:

  1. This is not a new concept.
  2. I have soap-boxed about this in depth with caregivers and friends.
  3. Please don’t take this personally.
  4. I don’t take my own advice well.

We’ve been back in Michigan for about a month now.  Since this is our “home base” in terms of doctors, banks, organizations, etc. – we tend to get busier.  It has taken exactly this long for me to completely empty my cup – so dry there is not a drop of moisture, and I am pretty sure there are at least surface cracks.

Some of you reading this are going to be tempted to or actually try and apologize.  I don’t want that or expect that.  The purpose of writing this is two-fold – first as a reminder to me, and secondly – in hopes that someone reading this needs to hear this same message.  This IS NOT to make anyone feel guilty.

I have allowed this to happen.  I am the one that created this drought situation.  No. One. Else.

You can’t pour from an empty cup – that’s a no-brainer, right?  Someone has to fill the cup – keep it topped off.  And that someone HAS to be the owner of the cup.  Sure, someone else might walk by with the teapot – but if you don’t allow the cup to be filled….it’s going to be dry. (Hint – make sure you turn the cup so the opening is up…don’t be like me a flip the darn thing over so the bottom is facing up.)

Now I am working on filling my cup.  Like anything else in this life – it’s much harder to fill from empty than taking the time to keep it topped off as you go.  Today is the day that my cup hit rock bottom.  (Some of you will understand/relate to this very well.)  I didn’t handle it well at all.  I was angry, mad, frustrated, and feeling it physically.  My neck and shoulders were (still are) so tense they are spasming.  I did manage to unhinge my shoulders from my ear lobes.

How do I fill my cup?  It may be very different from the way you fill yours.  Each of us will nurture ourselves in very different ways.  I find joy (aka fill my cup) in the same things that actually drain the very same vessel.  Caring for others, giving/using my abilities to help others, setting aside time for creating things (knitting, gardening, writing, playing piano, baking, cooking), reading, taking time to sit and chat with friends and family.  Finding time to simply sit quietly, alone or with companions, and listen to the silence.  Going for a walk or a run, finishing a workout, taking an afternoon nap…enjoying a cup of tea and watching a favorite old movie.  Spending time at the airport, fishing, playing in the water, or just being playful.

How do you fill your cup?

Why do we let our cup get empty?  I let mine get drained by putting myself at the bottom of the to-do list.  Telling myself those activities aren’t as important as attending to other needs.  I let my cup go empty because I let my ego tell me that only I can do (insert whatever task is at hand), and I don’t need the same attention that others do because apparently I am superhuman.  I let it go empty because sometimes I don’t see myself as worthy of – or deserving the same treatment/luxury that I advocate for others. 

Why do you let your cup go empty?

So now, baby steps to start filling that cup up until it is overflowing.  Getting out a firehose to douse the flames of self-importance that my ego keeps fanning.  Remembering and relearning that God’s Grace is more than sufficient.  It’s not up to me to save the world – but it is up to me to make sure that I work on taking care of the cup that God has given me.  To make sure that I can pour from that cup because I take the time to keep it full.

How are you going to keep your cup full?

These pictures are of the sky this evening.  They gave me a great visual of what I was feeling.  The clouds that are dark and building height – all the stuff I let build up in me.  The clouds obscuring the sun – but not completely – reminding me that God’s love, patience, and GRACE will always shine through or around! 

And the ducklings…reminding me that even if I don’t have them all in a row, at least they are together in the same lake!

Works In Progress

How wonderful it is when you can choose to be in a season of growth (and, after all, isn’t all of life a season of growth?).  It is a luxury, even more so when you are able to dedicate time and effort without guilt.  You can give yourself permission to be messy and imperfect (or just throw any thought of perfect out the window!) while you grow and expand.  Free to take chances, step off the well-worn path and explore new territory. 

I have a tendency to spend way too much time thinking/planning/designing “things”.  It has to do with that “P” word.  I tend to gravitate toward personal growth and development books/audiobooks for their positive content.  While that is a great practice, I then want to get the concept down “perfectly”.  That requires planning, obsessing, researching, and the circle goes round and round.  To the point that I never take the time to actually DO the thing.  Someone once asked me, when I mentioned wanting to do something, “when is NOW the right time to start?”.  NOW!!! The answer is NOW!  It is so easy to hide behind the need for planning, control, and the desire for a perfect outcome; or perhaps the fear of succeeding, that you could put it off forever.

We were walking tonight, and I was enjoying the beauty of these roses.  I had a “lightbulb” moment!  Instead of thinking about my life as a single bloom, I will see my life as the whole plant.  Instead of one bloom that will fade away, I can see places where I have beautiful buds that haven’t opened, some that are just beginning to open, some in full bloom, and a few fading away.  I expect they are seasons of being dormant that WILL be followed by wild explosions of new growth, buds, and glorious blooms.

Best of all, I know that I am my own master gardener.  I am responsible for pruning away the old growth to make way for new, carefully treating any pests that might try to invade or hamper growth.  I will not measure my growth or beauty by comparing myself to anyone else, nor will I try to be something or someone I am not to gain approval.  I am blessed to have a group of trusted friends that help me stay on track.

This is a lesson that will always be a work in progress for me.  That’s okay.  There will always be multiple areas within me that are works in progress.  That’s great!  It’s wonderful to have options.  Take my knitting, for example.  I *could* choose to start one project and only work on one at a time.  When I did that, I found that it was difficult for me to complete the project.  More recently, I have and keep several projects on my needles.  They range in difficulty/complexity, and for good reason.  Sometimes, I just need a mindless knit that is quick and portable.  Sometimes, I need one that requires all my concentration.  Bonus – I finish more projects this way. 

My Grace Lesson – NOW – choose now to grow your life the way you want it.  Put down the books and the expectations.  Get dirty, get messy, laugh, grow, prune, explode into full bloom – all while you let new buds form, old blooms fade, and be full of joy.  You will laugh and cry, giggle and scream in frustration, but get out and live your life.  (Of course, wear your mask, socially distance, and get your vaccine!-Pandemic living, and all.)  No one is more knowledgeable about your life than you, find your crew for support but make sure you are the one in control!