Never a “Yes” without a “No”

This is one of those seemingly simple statements that worked itself into my thoughts and has been niggling there for a while.  The premise is that you can never say yes to something without saying no at the same time.  This person was specifically talking about time commitments – you know, when you say “yes” to a project that requires your time and energy – you are also saying “no” to spending that time with family.  The more I thought about this, the more I realized that it applies to so much of our life – and you can flip the statement as well.  Every time you say “no” to something, you are also saying “yes” to another something.

Time:  As I mentioned, in the original conversation – we were reminded that saying yes to commitments means saying no to several things.  Spending time with those important to you, spending time for yourself, possibly even spending time on reasons you feel are more valuable/meaningful.

People:  Who (and why) are you saying yes to having in your life?  Are those relationships building you up?  Or are they exhausting you?  Are your relationships equally yoked?  I find myself looking at friendships and other relationships with different eyes.  Every relationship is going to have a fluid state of give and take – but when it is all give (or take) – is it time to evaluate?  Are you able to give when it is needed?  Are you able to let yourself receive when you need the support?  If you say “no” to letting someone help you, are you saying “yes” to isolating yourself and hurting the relationship?  Maybe this is something that comes with age, but I am looking for more substance from friendships/relationships.  Quantity isn’t as important as quality – trite but true.

Forgiveness:  When we say no to forgiving or asking for forgiveness (someone or ourselves) – we are saying yes to keeping so much alive – bitterness, anger, resentment – just to name a few.  Saying yes to forgiveness allows joy back into life.  A wise person told me that forgiving means that I am realizing that I can’t rewrite history.  Forgiving means saying yes to the future, and no to living in the past.  It offers a new sense of freedom.

Me(You):  Saying yes to being me, being real and saying no to trying to be someone to please others.  Probably AKA being comfortable in your own skin.  If I don’t like who I am, how can I expect anyone else to like me?

Causes:  This is related to time in some aspects.  Yet, it involves so much more.  You are going to invest time and energy, and say no because of this.  Is your cause worth it?  Do you really believe in it – or by saying “yes” to the cause – are you saying “no” to something/someone else as a method of avoidance?

Stuff:  This is a problem area for me that has been under attack with our new living situation!  Look at your “stuff” – the things you have said “yes” to.  Why?  Why did you say yes and continue to say yes to it?  I am amazed at how important I let “stuff” become, and how freeing it can be to say “no” to it.

Two other areas come to mind – attitude and food.  Maybe a third – exercise.  I think the “yes”/”no” concept is pretty obvious with these.

My challenge (and I extend this to you) – spend time and think about all the things you are continually saying yes and no to.  Which are the good “yeses” and “noes” – and which need to be reconsidered?

 

 

Being…

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!

Storms and Writing in the Sand

One of my bucket list items was to watch storms travel across Lake Michigan from Wisconsin to Michigan (another is to see a tornado – but more about that another day).  Checked that item off on Monday.  Thunderstorms are fascinating – so much power in the thunder and lightning, and huge quantities of water (or snow in the winter) that is produced.

After the storm passes, everything is clean, the air smells fresh, and the skies clear.  The pictures don’t really do the storm justice – it was beautiful, and it really wasn’t much of a storm.  I’m hoping for a bigger, “badder” one next time.

stormclear

How often do we have storms in our life?  Dark clouds build, the sun hides from view, and you can just feel the tension building.  Personally, metaphorically speaking, I am not very good at unleashing the storm – letting it thunder, lightning, and rain/snow like heck – so that the storm passes and everything clears up.  I tend to just let it continue to build, which leads to those “bigger, badder” storms.  I think I need to practice unleashing thunder and lightning, as opposed letting them evolve into tornadoes!

I did something that I first tried on my beach walks in Florida this winter.  It is really something everyone should try at least once.  I wasn’t sure about trying this here, since we don’t really have tides – but it still works.  When you’re at the beach, write your cares and concerns in the sand near the water’s edge.  Then wait and watch while they are washed away.  This won’t require any further explanation.  Sure, writing all that stuff near the water’s edge guarantees that it will be erased – but then, isn’t that what God promises us if we trust Him?  (Side note here, if you’re bringing a lot of “stuff” that needs to be written in the sand – find a long stretch of sand, and in an area where there aren’t a lot of people :D)

And, I tackled the 77 steps again, alone this time!

Water, Sunsets, and 77 Steps

13 June 2017

We found a new home again today.  If you’re looking for a quiet, small campground with lots of trees, water, great views – try Orchard Beach State Park in Manistee, MI.  The staff here is exceptional.  The park is on Lake Michigan – no beach to speak of, but breath-taking views.  There are park benches placed strategically along the water so that you can appreciate the splendor.

Water, specifically beaches and waves, speak to my soul.  I clarify this, because in our almost 30 years together, we have had some less than pleasant and very memorable issues with water.  Large bodies of water that come with waves – I am discovering that they are like a balm to my being.  I can feel grace – like water – flooding me and filling me.  We watched the sunset, a peaceful and illuminating experience.  The sun cast beautiful colors on the sky and the water.  The water captured the sun’s light and reflected it’s beauty and intensity.  It occurred to me that we need to be both sun and water.  Trying to be one or the other robs of us being truly alive.  When we are both, we absorb light and warmth, and reflect love and beauty when we shine.

The park has a stairway down to the water’s edge.  It has 77 steps, they are wooden, except the last 20 that are aluminum.  There are good handrails, and resting platforms.  And it is steep.  At least, in my book it is steep.  I am afraid of heights, (being a pilot is a whole different story) and I try to take opportunities to work on that fear.  Bill, ever the patient and wonderful person that he is, allowed me the time and encouraged me to tackle the steps.  The trip down to the water was the hard part – and one step at a time, I made it.  It is a small victory, but it is mine.  The trip up was easy.

Take some time to watch a sunset – on the water if you can.  Be the sun and the water…feel the warmth and light, and let others see your love and beauty.  Tackle a fear with a good and patient person at your side.  Be a good and patient person for someone else while they tackle a fear.  Let your guard down, and talk to strangers (friends you haven’t been introduced to yet).  They have amazing stories to tell, and they just might want to hear your amazing story.

Today was filled with grace, and I’m excited to discover more tomorrow!

 

Grace – When and Where You Least Expect It

I was gifted with some grace encounters yesterday – in the form of statements, questions, and conversations.  I wasn’t looking for it, and almost missed them.  The words kept circling back through my consciousness though, poking and prodding until I recognized them.  When you consider all the words you hear in a day, it is easy to miss some of the important ones.  It is interesting the way God chooses to keep replaying key words and phrases until you “get it” – and He is so patient.  Sometimes, He even sends illustrations to highlight what He wants you to know.  For me, He occasionally thumps me on the noggin to get the message through.

Mindfulness, being fully present in the moment – I think this is a key piece in catching grace on the first go ‘round.  It is important to slow down, savor the moment – explore all it’s possibilities – before you let it go.  Multitasking is a good thing, sometimes.  There is a time and place for it – but I think it should not become the default mode of operation.  It is so easy to rush through everything to get on to the next “thing”.  After a while, if you stop to take a breath, you might wonder what the purpose of all that rushing is?  Bill has encouraged us to start exploring our stops more fully.  This week, we embarked on our first “away from Cadillac” adventure.  We have made this particular trip many times before and never really explored.  At his urging, we sat down and made a list of things and people to see.  Although I don’t remember his exact words, Bill’s point was that he didn’t want us to leave town with the thought “Gee, I wish we would have checked out (insert people, places, things here) – maybe next time”.  Not that we don’t ever plan on returning here, instead – fully appreciate the here and now.  Then, do the same next time we visit.  Instead of planning our departure as soon as we arrive somewhere – plan and fill our moments before we leave.  Carefully and thoughtfully plan those moments, and make sure those plans include exploring and seeking out joy.  Sure – you may have some less-than-joyful items to attend to, but that is the “grace thing” – you can also have time for joy.  And leave time to just marinate and consider the amazing things you have found.  Quiet moments to reflect, time to just listen – to birds, to bugs, to the sounds of the world waking up as well as the settling down for night – this is important as well.  Otherwise, what have you gained?  Accomplishing tasks, rushing to get through them – sometimes necessary, yes – but don’t let it be the reason that drives you.  Quit putting off enjoying life for the myriad of reasons that are so readily available.  Enjoy people, places, moments HERE and NOW.

Yesterday, I had a conversation that questioned my commitment to a goal I identified.  It was a conversation that I needed, although I didn’t realize it at that time.  On the surface, it was about one goal.  Gracefully, that question just kept swirling around in my mind, until I realized that it was challenging my commitment to so much more.  As the conversation progressed, a few more phrases found their way into the loop being replayed in my mind.  I am grateful that God chooses those messages, and highlights them as needed.  Even more grateful for the messengers he chooses to make me uncomfortable enough to recognize the need for change and growth.  The church my mom attends has a practice of asking “where have you seen God this week?”  I love that practice – it encourages you, at least once a week, to be mindful.  I am working on adopting that and adapting it to “where have I seen God and grace today?” and being mindful and alert to note those God and grace sightings.

I believe that God takes full advantage of the opportunity when we are able to open our heart and mind to His leading.  Yesterday was one of those times.  Honestly, I know that grace opportunities and God moments are always present – the challenge is to keep heart and mind open, slow down and be mindful and intentional, and recognize what is right before our eyes.

Oh, and by the way – it’s good to pull out those secret, seemingly ridiculous, “things you’ve always to do/be but were afraid you would be laughed at” and try them on.  Instead of laughter, you might be surprised at the amount of support you find!  (Just another instance of grace :D)

 

Whack-a-Mole, Angels, and Vexatious Persons (VPs)

AKA obstructions to grace, givers of grace, and creators of grace.

This appears to be one of those “seasons” (to coin a phrase from a “VP”) when life starts to feel like a game of Whack-a-Mole, and I have the job of trying to fill in for the other 4 moles besides manning my own hole.  You know – just when you think it’s safe to pop your head up, WHAM – there is that dang hammer.  Also, you know with a fairly high degree of certainty that the game will probably go on for way too many rounds.

Fortunately, God sees the very real need to send angels to remind you that it will all work out.  They are the givers of grace.  A friend that sends you an email with just the very words you need to hear.  Meeting a friend that you haven’t seen in a very long time – and she blesses you with some advice in a conversation that was completely unexpected.  Even the simple things – finding little reminders – that help you remember the game will eventually end.  Little things like finding heart-shaped stones, or hearing a song with lyrics that touch your heart.  When the game ends, you will be stronger, more agile, and MUCH more adept at dodging the hammer.

Then there are the VPs – most annoying when they are people that you love, respect, and look to for guidance and direction.  You know – you have them in your life as well.  They are the ones who bring you great joy MOST of the time.  (Otherwise, at times like this, you want to slap the snot out of them.)  This could even be expanded to include vexatious situations (VSs).  These people and situations challenge you in a couple of ways.  First – to not “lose it” completely – and actually slap the snot out of them, or in the case of a VS – not to just throw your hands up and walk away.  Second (and the reason they are in your life) – to grow your grace.  VPs and VSs then become creators of grace.  Because you know, in your very soul, that your VPs and VSs will indeed help you create more grace, you also get a lesson in love.  Because you really can’t slap them silly, now, can you?  Even if they are taking turns holding the hammer……

Disclaimer – I believe that we are all VPs at many points in our lives – to those we love, as well as to strangers.  For the very reason I just mentioned….(heaven forbid I offend anyone reading this).

 

Making Memories

IMG_0917

 

Today is Memorial Day.  I understand the tradition and solemnity that comes with this day, and honor that.  This day also causes me to reflect on the importance of making memories – the good ones – that will comfort you in the future and bring you smiles (and sometimes tears will accompany).

We are camping at my Mom’s house this week, and planning a trip with her next week.  I am so excited that she is planning trips with us.  This really means a lot to me.  My Mom is amazing.  I want to be just like her when I grow up.  There has never been a time in my life that I felt truly alone, or without someone who loved me unconditionally.  Mom and Dad were always there.  To this day, I know that I can pick up the phone, and Mom will be there – to listen, love, and support.  Yes, Bill does this also – but a mother’s love can’t ever be replaced.  This is the woman who has seen you at your very worst (– and hopefully your very best) and will still answer the phone when you call.

I can always count on Mom to be “in” for my latest wild idea, recipe, or spontaneous adventure.  No matter where we are, when Mom is present, it just feels like going back “home”.  We laugh a lot, sometimes cry together, but mostly – and I am so thankful – we create wonderful memories.  I realize how blessed I am to have this relationship – not everyone has this.  I look forward to celebrating this ability to make memories and plan to exploit the ability as much as possible.

The really important thing to recognize is that you don’t have to do extravagant things, or extreme things.  Some of the best memories are in the ordinary, the everyday stuff you do together.  We walked the dogs together yesterday morning, and some funny stuff happened.  We laughed long and loud, and are still giggling like school girls about it.  Today we are going to buy some flats of flowers to plant – something we do together every year.  I have no doubt that there will be considerable laughter, much dirt, and love and joy that surpasses the imagination.

Go out and make memories.  Let down your guard, drop your protective shields.  Feel – the good and the hurt – and cherish those feelings.  Find joy in the ordinary everyday – because it can turn magical and wondrous right before your eyes!

 

Big Scary Goals (BSGs)

shoes

A year ago, right about this time, I was worried about being able to run a 10k.  My goals for 2016 were to run a 10k and to complete the Adventure Triathlon in Cadillac.  Okay, those weren’t my only goals, but my fitness goals.  Up to that point, I had completed a couple 5k runs, and a 4 mile run in Alaska.

Today, I am sitting here contemplating running my first marathon in September, 2017.  I met and exceeded my 2016 goals by completing the 10K, and 8-mile, and half marathon, as well as the Adventure Tri (although I was the last one to finish – I finished!).  So far this year, I did a back-to-back 10k and half marathon – joyfully with the “Tribe” – the online fitness community.  Those of you who know me, or knew me before all this running stuff – you heard right….I really like running, and biking, and kayaking, and am learning to love swimming.  Guess what another one of my BSGs is?  I am still wrapping my head around 26.2 miles, though, so not even thinking about the word “tri”.

I belong to an online fitness and wellness community that is really amazing.  Through this group, I have made some very special friendships.  Our fearless leader encourages to set big scary goals.  Two very special friends told me that if the goals didn’t scare me to death, they probably weren’t big enough – thank you P & P!  This fitness community is uplifting, affirming, and incredibly supportive.  So, I bought into the whole BSG thing.

I could not do this alone, and have not been doing it alone.  Bill and the kids have been amazing.  They have always been physically active, but never pushed me to join them.  In their wisdom, as I have now learned, you can’t force someone to adopt this journey of health until they are ready.  I mean, truly ready to create change within that will last.  I was a little afraid to admit that I wanted to join them – worried about ridicule, being ashamed that I wouldn’t be good enough or couldn’t do it, generally afraid.  But wait – these are the people that love me!  Their support was instant, positive, and totally had me believing I could do it.  And they continue…Bill enters runs with me, and then encourages me to go at my own pace, even if it means we don’t finish together.  When I decided I wanted to run the USAF Marathon, Walt told me he would be there to run if he could get permissive leave.  He is so much faster than me – the cool thing – he will be there, along with Bill and Ashlyn when I cross the finish line.  Beth and I will get to run in another race together, I can be patient.  Beth and Joe ran with Bill and I in Alaska.  Beth is my go-to when I need to Rock Tape something, or need a good stretch for something that hurts.  My Mom is my lead cheerleader.  We completed a 5k walk together last year.  I wish my Dad could have known what I started doing – he would be right there with Mom on the cheer team.  I took him along in my heart for my first half marathon on Mackinac Island.  We had a lovely run together.  My brother – he is on the cheer team also.  Just waiting for him to decide to do a run with me….Patience – it has to be the right time for him.

Last year, around August, I think, I enlisted the help of another amazing member of my Power Team – “Coach E” – Erik Hajer.  He is the fearless leader of “The Tribe”.  Erik sends me weekly training plans, and we talk once a week.  I know that if I complete the activities in the training plan, my BSGs become totally achievable.  We talk about how training is going, as well as talk through some of the fears and obstacles that interfere with training.  A great holistic approach that works well for me.  The “Tribe” online – what a blessing this group of people is.  Honest about struggles, willing to share in joys and triumphs, tons of suggestions, and wonderful caring shoulders to cry on – the Tribe rocks!  I have been especially blessed by a special Tribe member – she is amazing.  She has the gift of encouraging, challenging, and seeing right through the smoke screen.

I’ve shared with you a little about my BSGs – the blog is even part of one of them – fitness includes more than just the physical.  Bill and I started another BSG officially yesterday.  Do you have BSGs?  You ought to…and they should scare the beejeebers out of you – so much that you really shake in your shoes.  And your heart burns with desire to accomplish that BSG – and you can barely wrap your head around the joy you will live when you accomplish that goal.  A word of caution – one BSG leads to another, and another.  You will feel more alive than you ever have in your life – and trust me – you’re never too old to start.

How to begin….choose your BSG – the one you are afraid to even mention.  At the same time – start building your power team.  Ready?  Set… Go!

 

 

 

 

May 25, 2017 – The Beginning of Confusion and New Journeys

We turned over the house this morning, and fully embraced our new state of mobile living.  I found it interesting that I had no tears or sadness at leaving the house.  I will miss the beautiful plants and trees we had there, and some special neighbors, but not the structure.

I went shopping for real food, anticipating with joy the opportunity to cook for the first time in 2 weeks.  The confusion began when it was time to cook supper, and continued to bedtime.  It went sort of like this:  “Now where did I put…?”, progressed to “Honey, have you seen…?”, and deteriorated to “Where in the hell did I put…?  Seriously – it’s only been a couple days since I put this stuff away.  It seemed logical at the time.  At the time, it also seemed like there might not be enough storage – and while this still seems true (since we are still unpacking), I am amazed at all the hidey holes in this place.  The good news:  we know where our underwear, deodorant, and toothbrushes are.  Also, we know where Piper is.  The rest is up for grabs.

We ended this “first and last” day by walking over to Lake Mitchell, sitting on a bench, holding hands and watching a magnificent sunset that Bill was kind enough to arrange for us.  I hope we can find tomorrow!

Moving…on

Today we start a brand new week, one that will see us sever ties with the house, and completely leave that lifestyle behind.  I am reminded of the quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  Mark Twain.

It is with gratitude and joy that I welcome this new opportunity, so thankful that Bill is willing to take on this adventure.  I am in awe of the comfort that he has provided for us, his patience as I learn to downsize, and his sense of adventure.

Last week we had a moving sale.  Several people warned me that it would be sad and hard to watch our “stuff” being sold.  Contrary to that idea, it was a joyful experience!  Amazing how much lighter everything feels without “stuff”.  Don’t get me wrong – I have packed away way too much, I know this.  The best part of last week?  Hearing the stories of the people that came to our sale.  Seeing the joy of them discovering “treasures”.  Young couples just beginning to build a home together, others starting all over again for whatever reason, people rediscovering past joys because of something we chose to sell.  It was awesome to be able to follow God’s nudges – the small voice that urged me to give something away, or do a very bad job with math to make purchases possible.  Giving away special “treasures” to kids – just because.  Now we are at the point of donating the rest of the “stuff”, clearing up and cleaning up the house.  We have made some wonderful memories there, happy times, sad times, laughs, tears.  It is my prayer that the new owners will use this property wisely, and create the environment for many more wonderful memories to be made.  I know that eventually, the house will be demolished.  The landscape will change.  But the potential for joy to continue will be there.

As we move on, I know that we won’t be disappointed by doing this.  In my heart, I have a great sense of peace about our new adventure.  Exciting things are in our future.  Having the love and support of our family and friends makes it even better.