Sunday, May 26, 2019

The most vital nutrient: Gratefulness

Orange Mason Jar in Body of WaterSometimes, I feel as if all my hopes and dreams are bundled together like this little jar of fairy lights.

Lost, after a night of being tossed on the sea, lid loosened, they settle into shore to be found again.

How remarkably fortunate we are to live in our time and place. People suffer worldwide, but most who will read this little blog are quite lucky to live now.

We chase little dreams, some authentic, others with less than pure motivations, and we attain them like adding a notch on the wall. We forget we entered this world as naked babes bereft of our previous comforts and totally dependent upon the care of others. We forget the miracle of an awesome God who helps us along the way as we achieve and change.

Hope is a dizzyingly wondrous feeling. Hope is the meal of dreamers and it is almost enough.However, hope is living in the future, which is tempting and delicious to the soul, but cannot last forever. Sometimes our dreams gets tossed on the waves, and jars are dashed, and as beautiful as hope feels, it isn't quite enough. It is like eating only dessert and never a nutrient-rich soup.

Sometimes you have to stop and look at what you have. To let the dreams which have come true sink into your soul as you count your blessings, and remember all the help you have had along the way. This is the true nourishment. Gratefulness. So easy to overlook, but so very vital.

Friday, May 24, 2019


When you are on your path, opportunities begin to unfold before you. This is the idea expressed in Abundance Now by Lisa Nichols.

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I enjoyed this book, as being about abundance, it is full of promises for a larger, more prosperous life. However, this book doesn't mess around. The author, Lisa Nichols, insists there could be years of hard work involved before material riches begin to unfold. However, as the author does note, not everyone is meant to be an entrepreneur. And let's face, the path to riches for most of us probably going to be through our own ingenuity. You can work hard your whole life, but if you aren't working smart, if you aren't creating those opportunities for growth, it may not happen for you. Lisa believes we limit ourselves with out thoughts, and examines us to view our relationship with money.

That being said, while I was initially excited upon reading this book, I sort of lost interest after a while. For one, I don't feel like I have any new ideas. I feel like I will always be piggy-backing off someone else's idea. Maybe that is what we are all doing, though, and I am limiting myself with my desire for intellectual purity.

What is most helpful for the reader, I think, is this idea that if we are striving on the right path, opportunities start to appear. What does this mean?

It means take one step. Then another. Then another.

If your dream is to start an organization for homeless teens, then start looking at what is already out there and take that first step. Volunteer. Don't ask for businesses to give you free training. Offer your voluntary help and keep your eyes open and learn along the way. Work at a soup kitchen or a shelter. Take online coursework learning about social work and public administration and communications. Begin by taking one step towards developing your skills and expertise in the area and start getting out there and meeting people who can help make it happen.

Another important point Lisa makes is not to quit your investor too soon. By investor, she is referring to your day job. Maybe paperwork isn't your dream, but if your dream funds your passion, even if your passion currently remains a hobby, then don't quit it too soon. Because hungry people who are scrambling to pay rent, don't have much time to devote to their passion. Refer to Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for more on this.

What if you are taking those steps and opportunities aren't happening for you? That is the time to step back and examine what is happening. Are you really living towards your dream or hijacking another dream? Are you acting in love or fear? Do you have the skills you need to progress towards your goal?

Start by looking at your list of dreams and then examine if you are really working towards that overarching goal of yours. Tweak where you need to. Take a class if you are lacking basic education in your area. Talk to people, not to impress, but to get to know them and discover the hidden gems in them. Imagine each person your meet as someone you were destined to meet and try to find out what you can do help them on their path. Often, though helping others, we get closer to where God wants us to go.

Friday, May 17, 2019

When Disappointment Hits

It was bound to happen. You can't fly high without hitting the ground at some point, and I have found that point comes sooner rather than later.

I'd like to say I have a wonderfully mature way to handle my disappointments which sends me sailing through to recovery, but I don't. In fact, sometimes I even blow it. Still. After 45 years.

Yesterday involved a big pity party, lots of sulking at home, and a very long, solitary bath.

 If you let yourself feel great joy and hope, you will also feel great disappointment. Like two sides of the same coin, you cannot separate one from the other. What you can do is minimize the time spent processing the negative feelings of disappointment and learn to more forward as quickly as possible.

As someone who quietly dares to dream and who struggles with the crash, I have started building a toolbox to get me through the disappointment.

First, talk to a trusted friend. If you are anything like me, you will need this friend to just listen and be loyal to you. I don't want logic. I can see that part myself. What I need is to just be unreasonable for awhile so I can discharge some of this negativity out of me. For me, this is my spouse who usually listens to me and lets me take the time for self-care that I need.

Second, do something nice for yourself. Yes, a glass of wine would dull the pain a bit, but it might also lower your inhibitions enough that you act out. Avoiding alcohol and other dulling agents allows you to find ways to pamper yourself which truly refresh your spirit and lets you work through the problems quicker.

Some ideas might be:

  • Taking a luxurious bath
  • Going for a drive and listening to your favorite music
  • Indulging in a nap
  • A hot fudge sundae (Okay, not the healthiest, but it helps!)
  • A manicure
  • Getting a blowout
  • A walk in nature
  • Journaling or drawing
  • An episode or two of something light and funny

Finally, I recommend prayer or another spiritual exercise and a good night's sleep. Giving it up to God, or letting it rest in the hands of the Universe, or simply telling the room you don't want to carry this anymore and you are letting go can make a tremendous difference. While it may be necessary to keep repeating this step, if you are like me and keep picking your disappointments up again, just slowly breathing as you release all this disappointment to God, can calm your spirit. And a good night's sleep is just common sense.

Certain negative emotions such as disappointment or betrayal zap the energy right out of my body. I get very weak and spiritually frail quickly. When I am hurt, I want to hurt back. It's instinctual. This is why I believe the spiritual element of emotional recovery is so important. My faith allows me to share my burdens with a higher power with stronger arms and a plan for me. It doesn't erase all the pain, but it lightens my load and helps me pull myself back to my feet, face scrubbed and ready to try again.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Should versus Must

While perusing a list of must-read books on Pinterest I came across this book, The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion by Elle Luna (what a fanastic name!) and added it to my own list of must-reads. And finally, Monday I received it and started reading it. It's a short read and absolutely available online RIGHT HERE for free!

Note: This site uses affiliate links which could generate income to support the upkeep of this site. Your participation is entirely optional.

However, I have to say the book version, with its beautiful watercolor words, was wonderful to read.

So many of  us are searching for meaning and passion in life and find ourselves stifled by the shoulds-society's expectations and our own responsiblities. This book doesn't suggest shirking our responsibilities. It doesn't promise your love for sketching blades of grass with your toes is going to help you quit your day job. However, what this book offers is true inspiration to make time to attend to those musts, those passion-inspired, soul-required excursions, whether physical or mental, into those areas that your spirit simply MUST take to lead a life well-lived.

Listen. I don't want to do a typical book review because that isn't my style and it would be cramped and forced. I do want to share some of my favorite parts to whet your appetite a bit.
What is a must? In the section entited, The Crossroads, "Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self."
Are you taking the time to get to know your musts? Are you aware of those things which make you who you are? Which bring your soul to life?

There are a few exercises in here, to help you sort out your shoulds and musts and find out where you stand. You may already know. You may be spending your time, not starting at Facebook for hours (so guilty), but diving into your dream and reaching for your goal. But if you could use a little nudge, this book can stir those butterflies

Another of my favorite quotes was in Part III, Must, on page 61. "'If you can see your path laid out in front of you step by step, you know it's not your path,' Joseph Campbell said. 'Your own path you make with every step you take. That's why it's your path.'"

For some reason this really resonated with me. I find myself guilty of trying to hijack another person's path. I am not trying to steal it from them, but as an INFP, I often am unsure if I am headed in the right direction until I take a step and try something on for real, because I can convince myself of anything and any possibility. I imagine I am not alone in this. When we see someone succeeding and happy on their own path, we want to share that. We want to be happy and successful. Those are great things, right? But you have to be so careful not to let yourself hijack someone else's dream. Make sure it is authentically and truly yours by doing the head and heart work. What do you really, really, really want out of this life?

If you aren't sure, the best way to get started is to make a list. As a teacher of basic writing skills, I always tell my students, just start putting words on paper. Make a list. Don't judge. Let it all fall out. Eventually a pattern will emerge. When you go back, you will see some things don't really work and others are really centering around one theme or idea.

Then if you are really feeling brave, write down your most wildest dream, the dream you have had since you were a little girl or boy and just hold on to it. You can hide it between your mattresses or you can tape it on your front door-that's up to you. But once you let yourself be really brave and truly honest, you will eventually get to the meat of you and your purpose. And it can be scary. It is scary to know my deep desire is not only to share my thoughts and words, but to be well-known and influential. Because part of one of that can happen, I am doing it now. But part two is not guaranteed. Part two is partially out of my hands and I might fail. I will fail. I fail all the time. More on that later.

And finally I sat down and wrote a few notes which pertained to my particular situation. I love to write and I love to be home. Sometimes I am crazy-bitter at the fact that I have to earn a living to support my family. My job isn't awful. In fact, I think my department does important work and influences the lives of vulnerable young people, and I am proud of it. I love the respect I get when I wear my work badge into a local store. But still this simmering resentment of not being totally and completely ~*free*~ continues.

and then I stopped reading for a minute and wrote. I will share a bit:

What if what I do to earn a living is not necessary just for survival, but also because the stress of human interactions and the strain of trying to fit a mold eight hours a day actually brings about the conflict which stirs the negative feelings which causes me to struggle and search for answers, and finally do what I love to do-write about my thoughts. 

Can I have one without the other?
If I were home, fat and content, would I go through the soul refinement of self-reflection? 
Is what I love being home (yes!) or is it writing (double yes!!). 

I encourage you, as you consider reading this book, to stop stomping your feet as you come to terms with your shoulds, see how this leads into creativity which fuels your musts, and start planning a life which satisfies your soul.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

My Newest Love-Brene Brown

Although it isn't what I am reading today, friends, if you haven't read Brene Brown or watched her TED talks, you just gotta. She is so awesome.

Here is a great TED talk to start with:

 If you have more time, her Netflix special is just great.

I currently have three books of hers checked out, and I love each one.

Ironically after talking about hating being vulnerable today, I did something that made me feel quite vulnerable. In front of an audience. I guess it was a bit impulsive, however, the opportunity was there and I jumped. And crashed. And burned a wee bit. It sucked. I was too busy to think on it much today, but tonight, OH THE SHAME. This is Brene Brown's field - The study of courage, shame, disconnection, all those wonderfully crappy feelings we all get lost in sometimes. And I was courageous (or impulsive), and I was rewarded with shame. But also feedback and knowledge. Knowledge which will help me steer away from barren shores and continue doing the hard work to get to where I need to be. I was chasing a side stream, when the river I want is much bigger and powerful. It is just a bit harder to get there. I am also carefully considering the fact that this is me consoling myself by imagining that I am more than them.  Self-deception is powerful.

So this evening I had a big, ugly cry alone in the kids' bathroom, then plucked myself up and went to get a Diet Coke and listen to some music. And breathe. I swear by this breathing thing. Practice. Right now! Take five long deep breaths. Hold each one. Count to five and slowly release. It's amazing.

It sucked. It sucks. But my path isn't going to be a straight, simple safe path. And that sort of sucks. Because I want what I want YESTERDAY! But I have to stop chasing other people's goals because mine is too hard.

And I feel good about that knowledge (and only sort of want to carry a faux stone ledge around with me to hide under), even though I know the destination isn't guaranteed; I have to steer my craft with authenticity.

And I think that is something that is so hard to do. How do you know what is the right path when there are so many outside influences hitting you every day? So many books suggest lists and charts and brainstorming, and I think they are partially on track with that. You HAVE to do the work to get to where you want to go. You have to separate the stories you have heard all your life with the story you want to tell.

This is something worth exploring and what I intend to focus on over the next week, because it is damned hard to be authentically you when you don't know who you are and what you want.

What about you? Have you ever crashed and burned? How did you handle it? Do you let yourself feel the pain or do you shove it deep down inside because "it doesn't matter" or "you didn't really want that anyway."

Waiting for Perfect and Learning to Breathe

I haven't posted on here lately because in the name of honesty I was waiting until everything was perfect. I felt I couldn't authentically write about being your best self until I was my best self. So I have been blogging about my feelings on my other blog, and things continued as normal, but there has been this nudging telling me it was time.

And  I realized, as the crickets chirped around me, life was passing me by, and I will never be exactly my best self. I will always be striving for more or for different or for even greater contentment. So this morning, amidst a slightly stressful change which is causing me anxiety, I decided I would be true to myself and how far I have come and just share.

The anxiety producing event isn't a big one. But it takes control and autonomy out of my hands and it is stressing me out. I feel my breathing getting stressed and my mind starts running through several different ways I can approach this issue. After being told changes were coming, I said what I wanted, and now I find myself thinking, "If I don't get what I want, then the other person wins." I lose. And that is hurting me. Who wants to lose? So I think, Hmm, maybe I should backtrack and pretend I don't want it, so noone knows what I want. But I have spent a lifetime throwing people off trail to protect my inner me. I am done with that! People tell me I am too blunt and honest, but when it comes to protecting my mushy insides, I tend to throw out false trails and slight deceptions. I hate being vulnerable.

So in the name of self-love and all that is good and pure in this world, I am practicing breathing. When my mind starts tumbling over the whole issue (which lets face it, I am not starving, homeless, or seriously ill-it's a first world problem), I just stop and say to myself,"Breath." And I think about my big, deep breaths in, and concentrate on filling my belly with air, and then slowly breathing it out. The combination of slow, careful breathing, and turning my attention to something else (and the back of your mind will try to edge back into overthinking-be conscious of that), helps to mitigate the panic over the lack of control I feel.

Interested in learning more? has great info on the technique of breathing for calm.