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Playing to Your Strengths

Play to your strengths.

Speak what you are/need/believe.

There are a few things that have been on my mind and in my heart for quite some time.

If you’ve been here any time at all, you know that much of what I write about is from things that I have processed in the past.

I’ve spent a goodly amount of time in my own head.

After all, that is what we introverts are known for.

Well occasionally, some of that process actually comes to the front again, and falls out onto the page.

This is one of those occasions.

One of the things I spent a very long time thinking about was the fact that I was always told just how I would turn out, and none of that was good.

Problem? When a kid is told something time and time again, they tend to believe it.

After all, an adult said it, so it must be true, right? (Kind of like Google today)

Back “in the day”, we were taught that we should always listen and obey people who were older than we are.

“Respect your elders.”

That’s a fine thought, when your elders gain that respect.

But excuse me, when you’re constantly demeaned, (by your own adults) told your faults with consistent timing, and doing right or wrong things “Because I said so”; there is no respect for you.

The damage done internally sometimes is so much harder to recover from than you would imagine.

I often said of those times that, “I’d rather take a beating.”

So; that is what I wish to write about here.

A lesson I learned AFTER the fact, as an adult who was tired of believing I was less than.

Less than in my mind, less than in my body, less than in my talents, less than in my “Station in life”, less than anyone who may be in a place of leadership.

I read something once back in the beginning of my process, while I was raising littles of my own, the idea that we should to “Play to your strengths’ and not your weaknesses.”

I tried to do this with them, and realized, I needed to do this with myself as well.

Ever notice it’s always easier to do it for someone else?

I needed to learn to RESPECT my own self!

I noticed recently while talking to some teenagers, how much some of them spoke of themselves highly, while others were speaking in the negative about themselves.

It made me wonder, who was speaking into their lives, and what kind of things they were speaking.

Really, with any thought at all, it was pretty obvious that they were not all being taught to respect themselves in their hearts and minds.

In John 6:63the Bible says that “The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life.”

In Proverbs 18:21 says that “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits”.

I pretty firmly believe that.

So if all you have heard about yourself, or say about yourself is trash talk, then you will begin to believe it.

On the other hand, if you speak life, and joy, and ability to yourself, you’ll begin to believe that, and that will be the kind of fruit that grows in your life. 

Are you a writer? Write more. Avail yourself of those who can teach you to be even better.

Are you good at sports? Get more, involved, learn more about your sport. Be the best you can be at it.

If you clean houses, be the best dang house cleaner in your town.

Maybe math is your thing. How can you help someone who just doesn’t get it? Do that.

Talk to yourself about what you are learning.

Talk to yourself about what you are doing.

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t.

Don’t tell yourself that you can’t.

Speak life to yourself.

Words of affirmation; words of affirmation are what keep me going.

That is one good reason why people’s negative words over my life were so devastating.

Do AFFIRM others – Don’t devastate!

Don’t let anyone’s words devastate you!

Think Lovely Thoughts about yourself.

Never mind what others think.

Respect yourself.

You will need to DECIDE to help yourself in this way.

And to tell you the truth, you will have to decide over, and over, and over.

But the more you decide, the easier it will get.

If you don’t like the thought you’re having; Have another thought.

It’s the easiest thing in the world to do – I’ve done it a million times! (Ha!)

Keep on deciding and going and changing.

You CAN do it – I’m cheering for you!

Until next time.

Friday Favorites – Mr. Rogers

As a early Christmas present, my original Grandson took me to see A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

What a delightful surprise!

I told him I would likely cry through the whole movie.

He told me that was OK, and every time I did, he reached out and held my hand.

As a young man in his first year of college, I am so proud that he isn’t afraid to let his love be shown in that way.

He tells me that he remembers watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood with me when he was very small.

I can only hope that some of those thoughts and ideas carried into his heart to this day. I believe they did.

He is all at once an excited, ambitious young man, but with a heart as tender as can be.

After seeing the movie, my love for the man, Mr. Fred Rogers, has been rekindled.

I have read more on him, watched more documentaries, and seen him on YouTube maybe more than I ever have.

I’ve had to ask myself the reason why, and the answer I think, has been cooking in my heart for quite some time.

This is turning into a post much different than when it began, but maybe while I continue to process, you can find something helpful for yourself as well.

Several years ago, I noted in myself a critical spirit.

Sometimes it was one that could be noted by anyone within earshot, but mostly, it was simply thinking and speaking the way the world thinks and speaks, perhaps not even perceived by them, since they did it as well.

Always having been the object of scorn growing up, I felt a serious need to fit in.

So any time I could comment – just comment – on someone else, I would do it, and I guess I thought it helped me to fit in.

What I know now, is that it was building up inside of me a critical spirit.

One that would not only harden my heart, take a whole lot of inner work to realize, and change.

Anyway, in literally EVERY piece of media I consumed about Fred Rogers, he was calling our and speaking to the weakest among us.

He was calling out to the social injustice he saw.

But most of all, he was telling all the “Less thans”, that they were “More than” they ever believed.

They were not defective, or broken, or unimportant, but that somewhere in them was a special strength and purpose given to them by their creator.

He so reminds me of my very favorite Bible verses –

Psalms 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works, my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written every one of them, the days that you formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

God knew about my every day, He knew who I was, and who I was to be; and to me, it seemed like maybe Mr. Rogers did too.

How can I not aspire to be more like that; seeing others the way God sees them.

After all – that is why I’m here!

It’s an inside job, difficult, but worth the work.

A softer, less critical spirit is easier for others to live with, and for myself as well.

Until next time – consider your own insides – Do what it takes.

I’ll see you next time around.


   

Movie Poster

The Right Direction in 2020

Moving on.

Here are a few tips for resolving cognitive dissonance; this article suggests asking the following questions.

  • What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together?
  • What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance?
  • Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a mindset or belief?
  • How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance?

It seems that cognitive dissonance is quite similar to holy dissatisfaction, which I addressed in this post.

It has two abilities; it can put you in a place where you are stuck in the dark, or it can shine on that darkness, and give you a means to get into the light.

We get to choose.

So here I’ll do some inner work right out in the open.

Feel free to stick with me while I ruminate.

In my previous post, I listed three separate areas that are always on my mind, but somehow, there seems to be some cognitive dissonance going on.

  1. Helping people isn’t clear enough.

*What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together? My desire to help people vs. my desire to stay at home with my own thoughts is clearly at odds with each other.

*What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance? I need to MAKE time for others and observe people better for places where they can use help.

*Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a belief or a mindset? Be more discerning.

Sometimes helping people is not only physical, as in helping them clean out a closet, paint a room , or move across town.

Sometimes it is simply sitting quietly with them while they take time to grieve or to try to figure things out.

Discernment and timing are most important here.

The belief I need to change is that in many cases, I feel like folks can work it out themselves, why would they need my help?

When likely, they are too afraid to or shy to ask for it.

How many times do we say “I don’t want to bother you but….?”

They probably do too.

*How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance? Resolving this dissonance is imperative.                                                                                                                                

  • Just writing isn’t enough.

*What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together? It is said by many, that to be a writer, you must write.

Writers write. That’s what they do.

Every day; I need to write every day.  

Also, great writers read, a lot.

I go in cycles, even though I know that writing often, makes writing easier, and reading many different sources, whether you agree with what has been written, or not, causes your brain to be more creative, and more critical in its thinking, allows thoughts to flow more freely.

*What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance? I have journals and documents full of junk.

Inside those tomes of junk though, there are jewels.

Lessons learned.

Grievances grieved.

Abundance of joy portrayed, even atrocities forgiven.

I need to take more time to excavate them, and share the most helpful parts.

*Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a mindset or belief? I believe my mindset to be sound, but my behaviors can get out of sync.

I am very good when I have a schedule; I have a schedule.

When cognitive dissonance shows up, my schedules go out the window. Laziness or fogginess then prevails.

One thing I have found, is that just because you have a schedule, doesn’t mean it is forever.

Recognizing when it becomes obsolete is a big thing.

When this happens, I need not delay – but change it!

Changing it up is most helpful. How about doing that instead of binge watching something on TV?

*How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance? One of my mentors, Sharon, tells a story of her driving passed a graveyard once, and having to pull over to the side of the road because she was weeping so hard. (She is not a crier!)

She prayed and asked why she was having this response, and the answer she heard was that she was weeping for all the gifts and talents that were buried there in that grave yard that had never been realized.

Well I’m not much of a crier either, but if I had the the sense of going to my grave without sharing all that my experiences have taught me, well, that would make me cry too.                                               

  • Enjoying taking photos isn’t enough.

*What are the two cognitions that aren’t fitting together? I enjoy taking photos of natural things.

I love clouds, skies, sunrises, sunsets, rivers, and mountains. All of these have found their way into the view finder; on my phone.

I have a regular camera. I don’t know how to use it.

I’ve always been a watcher, so to speak, but when I started taking photos on my phone, I began to realize that I was looking are so much more than just clouds.

They are an expression of God’s love for me, and these things show me just how much he wants me to enjoy all that He has created.

These things show His power and His majesty.

*What actions would I need to take to eliminate that dissonance? I’ve printed out all the camera instructions so that they are easy to see.

Just like reading, I need to take the time to study the manual, and then actually do the work.

*Do I need to change any specific behaviors? Or do I need to change a mindset or belief? The biggest behavior is what I listed before, Schedule, rework that schedule. I need to schedule time for writing, schedule time for reading, schedule time for learning. 

Then stick with it! (Practice what I preach!)

*How important is it for me to resolve the dissonance? It will be the difference between being successful, or being stagnant.

The first part of 2019, I did really well in my journal.

For the second half of the year, my blog posts have been very regular, even if the topics were super varied. (Maybe that is better?) 

This morning I was able to read the article from magazine that inspired A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. (Movie with Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers)

(It seems like a rabbit trail, but stay with me) Growing up, Mr. Rogers was my hero, I dare say, even now.

He was perhaps my very first REAL friend.

I didn’t know it then, but perhaps Fred Rogers was a representation of Jesus to me then.

One who loved me no matter what. He “wanted to do things right, and whatever he did right, he wanted to repeat.”

Can You Say Hero? Tom Junod – Esquire Magazine – November 1998. In this article, it tells how Fred Rogers always had a schedule He kept it daily.

His ability to maintain that schedule; put him in a position to help multitudes of children, and adults; generations!  

Oh that I could represent my Jesus in such a way.

Thanks for hanging out with me while I processed just a little through the discrepancies that I see that hold me back.

Let 2020 be the year that we set ourselves free.

Free to help others and to do all that we are tasked to do before we’re done.

Mr. Rogers

Year End Ponderings

The last post of the year, and especially the new decade, should it seems, have at least a little weight to it.

Or maybe, a whole lot of levity.

I have neither.

Cognitive Dissonance keeps coming to my mind, perhaps because it is in this season that we recognize where we need change, and decide if we really want to do that or not.

(cog·ni·tive dis·so·nance nounPSYCHOLOGY-the state of having inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes, especially as relating to behavioral decisions and attitude change.)

Most times we begin out new day, week, month, year, decade with great gusto.

There are many things on our minds that seem like they can get us where we want to go; help us accomplish what we want to accomplish.

Problems arise I think, when we do not have a clear idea of the place we want to end up.

I am very guilty of such vaugery.

The vagueness of my thinking, has landed me in spaces of cognitive dissonance more than once.

Helping people, isn’t clear enough. 

Just writing isn’t enough.

Enjoying taking photos isn’t enough either.

 Do I do these things simply for enjoyment? If so, that’s OK.

But if I want to excel in any, or all of these areas; to minister to others or to make a bit of money, that’s OK too.

But then my actions must change to reflect that.

For many years I’ve found myself going in and out of the space of cognitive dissonance.

Making the decisions that go with helping people, writing words, or taking photos, are directly related to the amount of effort I am willing to put into them.

At decision time; I’m gung-ho.

Then after a bit, I fall into procrastination, in-attention, fatigue, or just plain laziness; this is where the cognitive dissonance comes in.

I become so disenchanted with my “work” that whatever ends I thought would come, seem to melt away.

Followed by guilt for not following through.

Cognitive dissonance – My actions fail to line up with my goals – enter guilt.

Such a cycle.

I know that it happens to you as well.

I have it on good authority it is a very human thing.

“Decisions are part of life. You have to make hundreds of decisions to get through each day. What you may not know is that decision making arouses dissonance as a general rule.” Understanding Cognitive Dissonance.

My general belief, is that the trauma that I lived through, whether intentionally, or unintentionally placed on me, has shown me how one can not only survive, but forgive, and thrive regardless of the past;

And so I write.

I write with the intention of helping others avoid some pit falls while on their way to healing.

I have always loved looking at the clouds, the trees, the rivers, and the sunsets.

The architecture of buildings, and the things that God has built for us to enjoy, have always been a way of escape;

and so I take photos.

What happens when these two things take place in my life?

I get to exchange the savagery of a past life, for the beauty of a creation that God has given me; a creation that enlightens my heart and overshadows any incoming grief.

It is a constant reminder that God is always there.

He shows Himself to me daily.

I need only look.

And share.

And that will be enough.

I want that to be enough; enough to help others out of the darkness that so tries to entangle them.

Since these are my core beliefs, I can tell when I’m veering away from them.

That cognitive dissonance begins to try and bring me down, and away from my purpose again and again.

I hate to leave you hanging, here at the end of 2019, but I need some more time to consider this position.

Perhaps you do to.

I’ll return on the first day of 2020.

Join me here please!

So we can encourage each other on how to make our 2020 just as productive as we possibly can.

So we can face the distraction of cognitive dissonance.

Together.

Father's Love Letter

On this day, we celebrate the fact that our heavenly Father gave us His most precious gift;

His one and only son, Jesus Christ.

Here is reprint of a “Father’s Love Letter”

You may not know me, but I know everything about you. (Psalm 139:1)

I know when you sit down and when you rise up. (Psalm 139:2)

I am familiar with all your ways. (Psalm139:3)

Even the very hairs on your head are numbered. (Matthew 10:29-31)

For you were made in my image. (Genesis 1:27)

In me you live and move and have your being. (Acts 17:28)

For you are my offspring. (Acts 17:28)

I knew you before you were conceived. (Jeremiah 1:4-5)

I chose you when I planned creation. Ephesians 1:11-12)

You were not a mistake. (Psalm 139:15-16)

For all your days are written in my book. (Psalm 139:15-16)

I determined the exact time of your birth and where you should live. (Acts 17:26)

You are fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)

I knit you together in your mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13)

And brought you forth on the day you were born. (Psalm 71:6)

I have been misrepresented by those who don’t know me. (John 8:41-44)

I am not distant and angry, but the complete expression of love. (1 John 4:16)

And it is my desire to lavish my love on you. (1 John 3:1)

Simply because you are My child, and I am your Father. (1 John 3:1)

I offer you more than an earthly Father ever could. (Matthew 7:11)

For I am the perfect Father. (Matthew 5:48)

Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand. (James 1:17)

For I am your provider and I meet all your needs. (Matthew 6:31-33)

My plan for the future has always been filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Because I love you with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31:3)

My thoughts toward you are countless as the sand on the seashore. (Psalm 139:17-18)

And I rejoice over you with singing. (Zephaniah 3:17)

I will never stop doing good to you. (32:40)

For you are My treasured possession. (Exodus 19:5)

I desire to establish you with all My heart and all My soul. (Jeremiah 32:40

And I want to show you great and marvelous things. (Jeremiah 33:3)

If you seek Me with all your heart, you will find me. (Deuteronomy 4:29)

Delight in my and I will give you the desires of your heart. (Psalm 37:4)

For it is I who gave you those desires. (Philippians 2:13)

I am able to do more for you than you can possibly imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)

For I am your greatest encourager. (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17

I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)

When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you. (Psalm 34:18)

As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart. (Isaiah 40:11)

One day I will wipe every tear from your eyes. (Revelation 21:3-4)

And I’ll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth. (Revelation 21:3-4)

I am your Father, and I love you even as I love My son, Jesus. (John 17:23)

For in Jesus, My love for you is revealed. (John 17:26)

He is the exact representation of My being. (Hebrews 1:3)

He came to demonstrate that I am for you and not against you. (Romans 8:31)

And to tell you I am not counting your sins. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled. (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)

His death is the ultimate expression of My love for you. (1 John 4:10)

I gave up everything I loved that I may gain your love. (Romans 8:32)

If you receive the gift of My son Jesus, you receive Me. (1 John 2:23)

And nothing will ever separate you from My love again. (Romans 8:38-39)

Come home and I’ll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen. (Luke 15:7)

I have always been Father, and will always be Father. (Ephesians 3:14-15)

My question is … Will you be my child? (John 1:12-13)

I am waiting for you. (Luke 15:11-32

Love, Your Dad

Almighty God

Quiet Spaces, or the Lack Thereof – Feeling Snarky

Yes you read it right. I’m feeling pretty snarky. No sense lying about it. So here it is. My snarky side, and by the end of this post, hopefully, some sort of a redress.

How many times do you find yourself in a spot that should be quiet, but the person who is in front of you feels the need to speak. Even when there is not one thing to say? You have no relationship. You do not desire a relationship. You cannot not maybe even remember their name. Uncomfortable. Awkward chit chat.

Being an introvert makes this even more uncomfortable. (More on that later) Trying to figure out answers to questions that are A. None of their business, or B. Answers when you don’t even know the answer yourself.

I have spoken with both my husband and my daughter about this. They are both the extroverts to my introvert. And guess what? They noticed it too!  It bothers them the same way! So it’s not really an introvert/extrovert thing. It must be  human being thing.

So after careful consideration, and much not small talk, here are some of my conclusions. Understand that these conclusions did not come over night, but are the results of many chosen conversations over years with people I wanted to talk to. I’ve even manged a couple of different conclusions while writing this post.

Firstly, As I’ve said previously, I believe people are afraid of what is in their head. (Even after so much work in this area, I’m still afraid sometimes too) Perhaps the soundtrack of their lives continuously tries to convince them of their unworthiness. Perhaps the sounds are so loud that they hear nothing else.

My own journey with quietude began with those voices. I heard them. Constantly. Then I read a scripture that said “My sheep hear my voice and they know me. The voice if another they will not follow”.

So who was that other voice? The one I would not follow? Scripture tells me it is the voice one who hates me, and will do anything to cause my demise.

I then found scripture that said that that one’s demise was certain. That he had already been defeated.

If that is the case, then why on earth am I still listening?

Habit. Just plain habit.

Plus the fact that it is so much easier to go with the flow, and not fight back against the noise.

I had to decide that a quiet thought life, a calmer spirit, and a mind that I could stand being alone with, were well worth the trouble. (While still not retreating to that quiet as a constant way out/excuse!)

I lunched with a friend recently, and admitted my snarky feelings about people, small talk, holidays, noise, all that. (Sometimes it just has to come out in a safe place!)

I’m slowly beginning to remember what I tell literally anyone who will listen; It’s all a choice! We get to choose how we feel, what we say, and how we fix our attitudes. Heck I just blogged about it Right here!

I am also beginning to wonder if I’ve been using my introversion as a convenient get away tactic. I may need to Review My Own Bubble; Yes I think it’s possible.

With a new year coming, no actually, a new decade (!) it could be a most perfect time to review and renew; you know, change things up!

As you can see from This post, this is not a new problem for me. It is ongoing; but I keep plugging away at it.

The idea is to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

My husband and I traveled across the country once, in an ice storm, with a heavy load, at 30 miles an hour. It was tedious, but we kept moving forward, one mile at a time, and eventually made it to our destination.

But I digress, kind of.

Many steps have been taken this year.

I’m using my introversion less, stepping out more, and learning much along the way.

Remembering that this year has been happy, sad, active, emotional, energetic and exhausting.

I need to give myself, and those around me a little more latitude, and a lot less snark.

If you can relate, or want to share a way that you are, or have begun to overcome an issue like this – Please feel free to comment – I will NOT consider it small talk!

Until later…