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!


(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!



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!

Growing Pains

Growth is a process.  I have heard that if you’re not growing, you’re dying.  Growth is also painful, joyful, scary, tedious, and weirdly liberating.  Growth requires – no, it demands – a generous helping of grace.

Guessing that we would be spending most of our time in Florida pretty much locked down, we decided to use the opportunity to make a dedicated and concerted effort to improve our health.  We chose to focus on nutrition, weight loss, and exercise.  That has been going really well, with the exception of initial feelings of being self-serving and not serving others.  Our experience and results are helping us to realize that by taking care of ourselves, we are better equipped to help others.  This should not be news to me.  I have told that very thing to so many Hospice family members and caregivers – but why on earth would that apply to me?  That’s one of the many great things about grace…

We chose to use Noom as part of our weight loss plan.  You’ve probably seen the ads – it focuses on psychology, etc.  For our exercise, we have been walking (a lot!), mostly together.  That allows for a lot of thinking time – you can only talk about “stuff” for a while, then you run out of stuff to discuss. 

Noom is working well for us.  Logging meals has definitely made me more mindful of what goes in my mouth.  The psychology part has been the most beneficial for me.  Having time to consider the subjects, and being fully committed, I am experiencing growth (and growing pains) along with losing weight. 

I am truly an emotional eater and am getting adept at identifying my triggers – and even better at putting the safety on.  Just recently, I was able to identify 4 humungous triggers.  Instead of pushing them to the depths, I carefully examined each one.  Thought about why they were so stressful, and then looked for evidence from past experiences to either confirm or deny the thoughts associated with them.  So far, this is working well.  When I feel the anxiety start to rise, I take a calming breath (or several), and look for the evidence.

I want to share some random thoughts that have been coming up.  I know they are not “breaking news alert” worthy – but I share them in hopes that if you recognize something from this, perhaps you will give yourself a little grace. 

  • Make friends with yourself.  Seriously – treat yourself like you would treat your best friend.  Find a least one thing a day that you like about yourself (body, mind, spirit, ability, etc).  Get over feeling guilty for this.  If others see you treating yourself well – they will follow suit – and treat you well also.  (Trash yourself, and they will treat you with the same lack of respect.)
  • Forgive yourself.  The past is done – let go of the mistakes, the “should haves”, the “shoulda, coulda, woulda” syndrome.  What you have is this moment.  Dream about tomorrow but decide right now to love yourself.  Most likely, you are the one remembering all the bad, the mistakes, the missed opportunities.
  • Congratulate yourself on accomplishments.  Every day is worthy of celebration.  Maybe you took one baby step forward.  Maybe you stayed where you were (but didn’t backstep).  Maybe you went backward a little (but didn’t completely lose all momentum).  Depending on the day – each of those are praise-worthy.
  • Give up worrying about what others think of you.  Concentrate on how you think of yourself.  No one else on this earth is living your life, they are not qualified to chart your course.  (Bonus – when you are working on thinking of yourself and your own progress, you don’t have time to judge others!)
  • Reward yourself.  Kind words, little treats, only you know what will bring you joy.  Sometimes it’s as simple as taking 10 or 15 minutes to sit quietly and watch the world.  I have found a most delightful way to reward and/or comfort myself.  Bill gave me a bottle of “Pure Grace” lotion for Christmas.  This is one of my rewards.  When I am really happy or in need of comfort, I use this lotion (smells awesome) and imagine that I am covering myself in pure grace.  (Which is much nicer than their Amazing Grace, or the Grace lotions that have flower scents that cause me to have an allergic reaction!)  This is simple, might even sound corny – to you.  For me – it is a joy spot in my day.
  • Live life now.  Don’t wait for (weight loss, more money, a better relationship, a new car, etc… fill in the blank).  Honestly – life isn’t going to magically change when one of these things happen.  Your real joy in life will be found in your journey. 
  • Choose your travel companions carefully.  They need to be helping you row the boat, not drilling holes when you’re not looking.
  • Choose activities that fill you with joy and scare you at least a little.  I am having more fun running now than I ever did when I was “training” with a coach or trying to keep up with others.  I am running to please me – not to compare myself to others.  The same with exercise.  Knitting is both a joy and a soothing balm – and currently I have 4 projects on my needles and am thinking about #5.  Why?  Each project is bringing me joy as I work on it.  And each is progressing nicely.  Some might say this is too many – and maybe it is for them.  For me – it is just right.  Cooking is still an adventure and fun activity.  We have added hiking to our repertoire.
  • Don’t aim for perfect.  May as well go unicorn hunting, or searching for doodle bugs.  My grandmother had me hunting for doodle bugs way to often when I was little. 
  • Make your own rules – you are the boss of you (except of course, when violating rules will cause injury or harm!).  Like, if the road is a one way road – be sure you’re headed the right way!
  • Don’t be afraid to change things up.  And keep changing them until you find what works.  Recently I readjusted my daily schedule.  I was getting completely overwhelmed and super stressed.  I changed my daily routine, asked for help to do this from work, and decided to give it a week.  After two days I was amazed at the difference.  My attitude toward work, toward exercise, and toward the minutia of daily “stuff” that needs to be done has improved 100%.
  • Ask for help.  It’s okay.  It helps others fulfill their needs.

All this to say – embrace growth and growing pains.  Slather yourself with grace.  You are a good person, created by a loving God.  He only made one of you – so treat yourself like the rare, precious being you are.  He thought it was important for the world to have one of you!

Unsettling Thoughts

This is an unsettling time.  Growing up, I remember when Inauguration Day was a special day.  We would watch the process on TV with excitement.  You know what else I remember?  I remember that up until very recently, it was okay to have different opinions.  Now I see it dividing families, destroying families, and devastating our country.

It’s like we have two pandemics right now.  The media seems determined to whip the country into a frenzy over both the virus and the political climate.  Not to mention anything else that might spark a controversy.

Have you noticed how everything is breaking news?  Every storm is life-threatening and catastrophic? 

How about this?  We turn off the news, and turn on the prayer?  Prayers for a peaceful transition of presidential power, prayers for a transition from hate to peace – or at least truce. 

Regardless of who you voted for, what you ate for breakfast, the brand of toilet paper you use, or the color of your underwear (if you wear them 😉) – we can be friends?  If we could focus all the energy and money that is being expended on hate and drama, we could accomplish some pretty amazing things.

Random acts of kindness and grace would be an awesome movement right about now – however, I would settle for random acts of civility.