Mom and I just returned from a Mother-Daughter retreat.  It was a 24-hour event that will continue to impact me for quite a while.  One of those times that goes by too quickly, and at the same time, feels longer than a 24-hour experience.  Definitely one of those experiences that makes you sad that it is over while feeling incredibly joyful that it happened.  The coincidence of this falling on my birthday was the icing on my birthday cake.

The theme centered around “Be still and know that I Am God”, further expanded to include “Be Real”, “Be You”, “Be Present”, and “Just Be”; and wrapped up with the concept of “Being” in the ebb and flow of life.  The content easily applies to women of all ages, I know that it is a message that I am in (continual) need of hearing.  There was so much goodness packed in that short 24 hours – in a beautiful setting, a wonderful person to share it with, and more love and laughter than imaginable.

So, another year older, and there is still so much wisdom to gather in this life.  Have YOU ever stopped to think about the “Be’s”?  It’s harder and more challenging than it appears on the surface.  “Be still” – obviously not just talking about the lack of physical movement.  Want to try this?  Set a timer for one minute – two if you’re really ambitious.  Now, be still.  Physically still, yes.  Quiet your mind as well.  Listen, feel, absorb….one of  my favorite statements is “Make time for the quiet moments as God whispers and the world is loud”.  Two minutes seems like a lot a quiet moments at first.  I want to be able to “be still” for much longer.  God has a lot of wisdom to share, and I want to learn to settle in, settle down, and open my heart to hear it.  I know that this challenge will reap rewards.

“Be Real” and “Be You” – these seem (in my mind) to be closely related.  Not only are these attributes important for me to incorporate, but I realize how important it is to look for these concepts in my relationships.  Think about your friendships and relationships.  How many relationships are strictly surface-type relationships?  Always keeping things light, only expending enough energy to keep the relationship afloat.  Those don’t require you to “Be” much of anything.  On the opposite end of the spectrum, those relationships that demand nothing less than a full commitment to drop your shields.  Those friends in your life that know your secrets (good and bad) and still continue to be your friends.  One of the very best decisions I ever made – a long time ago – happened to be one of the very best things I have ever done for my life.  I had reached a point where I was tired of trying to be what I thought others wanted me to be.  I severed some relationships and friendships, and decided to be “just me” and let others take me or leave me because I wasn’t going to change to win their favor.  The first relationship that developed after that decision is still going strong 30+ years later.

After this weekend, I am reminded of the importance of doing this.  It is time to re-evaluate my friendships and relationships.  I see relationships that are very lop-sided – one of us is trying to be fully invested while the other is not.  Some relationships seem unhealthy in terms of manipulative behavior.  Then there are those that are full of goodness – the ones that can withstand the test of time.  These are the relationships that allow you to just “be” – and you know that the other person is doing exactly the same thing.  No secrets, no trying to be better than the other, and sharing the pain as much as you share the joy.

I have some housecleaning matters to attend to – to foster those precious relationships that allow me to “just be” – and to clean out some of those that are not serving.  Making these choices help the next part of “being” to come into play.  Choosing who and when to be present with, and investing that energy wisely.  They are the friends that help you navigate the ebb and flow of life.  The other relationships are important as well – they require less attention and energy – and can certainly be a source of happiness.

One of the activities during the retreat was a painting class.  Painting classes are a “thing” right now, and I will admit to being curious about them.  We attended the class, and I discovered how much of a step out of the comfort zone that was!  General instruction and one stencil to trace were provided.  For someone that is used to following the rules, coloring inside the lines, and following concrete steps – this was an experience.  We were given a blank canvas, 3 colors of paint, 2 brushes, and vague instructions.  The results were incredible – 165 different versions – each beautiful in its own way.  WOW!  I realized that I could be so paralyzed by trying to put just the right brush stroke on the canvas that I would end up with the blank white canvas.  Or, I could be bold, dip the brush in the paint, and create my own little bit of colorful self-expression.  Tentative at first, then becoming bolder and experimenting with strokes and colors – hey, this is really fun!  Even turning what appeared to be mistakes into something much nicer.

So, start working on your “Be”s and make that first brush stroke!

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