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Freedom to Be Real

At the beginning of this year, I was invited to a new meeting, new for me anyway.

The name of the group is “Raw and Real”.

(That should tell you something!)

My husband asked me before I went what it was all about.

I seriously did not know, and I told him so.

“So why did I agree to go?” was his next query; because I 100% trust the friend who invited me.

Turns out, it is a growing group of woman from many different walks of life, just sitting for a couple of hours and sharing the good, the bad, and the ugly.

I was dubious, because I dislike the small talk involved with meeting new people.

I love the DEEP talk – just not always the small talk of getting there.

But did I mention I trust my friend?

This group was all women with a similar world view, even though their life histories were very different.

It was actually quite a joy to hear some of their stories, and heartbreaking to hear some others.

Let me tell you folks, no matter how bad you had it – someone always had it worse.

You can never tell by looking at them, just how difficult their journey has been.

I won’t share their stories, but I can sure tell you what happened in my mind while I was there.

I did not share my story there, but as I listened I was reminded, and considered my own journey.

Sometimes when you have walked thru so much, over such a long period of time –

You know where you’ve walked, but some of the steps get forgotten.

What I’d like to do here, is share the BIG steps that I remembered during this meeting, and then in subsequent posts, share some of the little steps that were involved in becoming the free woman that I am today.

So here is the list I made while listening – many of their steps reminded me of my own!

1. Toxic turmoil  

2. Lament

3. Quiet (pjs)

4. Introvert

5. Little girl – 6 weeks – 6 months

6. Identity

7. Process

8. Too much process

9. Write

10. Travel

11. Relate.

12. Freedom

During the process of writing this out, I am positive that even more will be revealed and remembered. 

Over the years I have come to “Love the process”.

It always takes me to new places, with further vistas, and hopefully, you can realize some new freedoms too, just by following along.

Until next time …

Let's Begin With a Cliché

I know its cliché , going into the year 2020 seeking “New Vision”.

But seriously, at least for me, that’s a pretty important thing.

Some things I’m pretty clear on, while other things are as clear as mud.

I have found that if I divide my life into sections, and deal with reach separately, I can get to a pretty clear conclusion.

Then, by adding all of the conclusions together, I can come up with a plan to make things happen.

Anyway, what are those sections?

1A Personal, which involves spiritual and physical self care.

1B Personal, which involves writing, photography

2A WorkCorporate, which involves working with local, state, and regional members in a group that I’ve been in for twenty years.

2B  WorkVolunteer – as a member for the non-profit that my husband operates.

2C Work – As in home

3. Relationships – both personal and corporate.

1. Personal care, has taken much time in scripture, as well as just being quiet; settling down the recalcitrant child inside.

It has also taken much time with dealing with past traumas and dramas; airing them out, painfully I might add, going through them one by one, and asking God about the truth in each one.

It’s odd how we can see things so differently than they actually were.   

The personal work, the “Inside job” has been a real treat for me.

It has suited my introverted parts really well.

Although admittedly, there were times I just wanted to cry.  

It has taken a long time to change the filters, but I can see much more clearly now.  

The second part of personal care, the physical part, has involved being in an exercise class for the past nine years.

There have been times I had to drag my sorry butt to that class kicking and screaming, but all the while knowing that if I didn’t, I would turn in to a pile of dust.

Writing all the time is a good thing, sitting around without moving, can be deadly.

2. For personal work on an actual work level, as in day to day work; I have spent very few dollars through the years on education after high school.

I’ve been self taught on pretty much everything.

On marriage, on parenting, on keeping a home, on running a business, on spiritual matters (dealing with the trauma and the drama).

Since about 2012 or so, I’m being self taught on writing and photography.

Slow and steady wins the race, and tenacity gets you there eventually.

Honestly, 2B  (Work – corporate) can really give me fits, and it has, for as long as I’ve held the position I have.

To be totally truthful, this section has eluded me for the last several years, but every year I face it again.

I found out just this morning that this year I’ll have some help, so moving through this section can begin in earnest.

I have told myself that when others are in the mix, things can’t always be the way you want them.

That is only partly true.

Yes others being involved is a thing, but I’ve come to know that timing is an important factor as well.

What if, perhaps, I thought I had it all together before?

And it wasn’t the right time, and things still didn’t work out, or they worked out poorly, and some of the nuances would get lost in the shuffle.

(Can’t be losing those nuances!)

To be sure, there would be things learned from the experience, but there is also much to be learned through tenacity, and holding on – being a necessary place holder.

2C (Working – volunteering with my husband’s non-profit) is always a work in progress; constantly growing and changing.

3. Relationships are interesting because we need to find out why we respond the way we do to others, and what makes them respond to us the way they do?

When we figure that out, we can find that those relationships may or may not work out, and that’s OK.

We can move on, or we can make different decisions on how we deal with them from that point.  

Making the time to get to know one another is essential.

Often I find if I have an adverse response to someone first off, when I take the time to engage with them, I find that we have something for each other.

There are times when this doesn’t happen.

Sometimes what they, or I, carry on the inside of us, just doesn’t mesh, no harm, no foul.

If we didn’t take that time, we would never know which way it might turn out. 

So to summarize what’s worked for me;

I begin with a visit each of my sections, thinking them through, analyzing each, and where they are at this time.

Each year begins at a spot further down the road than last year.

Then what it really boils down to scheduling, (then keeping the schedule).

I literally have an Excel sheet divvied up by half hours for each week.

This works for me!

I can give as little or as much as each one needs.  

This is not to say that just because it is on the sheet it is carved in stone, (stuff happens) but it is to say that I DO have a certain time allotted to do each thing.

There are days I throw the schedule to the wind, and do something else, but never more than one day in a row.

Doing nothing isn’t on the list, but it should be.

Sometimes taking a nap IS the best use of your time.

But for me, more than one day is how bad habits start.

It’s easier to get OFF the path than back on it again.

I hope that you have found this helpful.

Do you have anything to add?

Please do so in the comments.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Here’ to 2020 vision! …

One Thing I Missed

As many people do, at the beginning of the year, I’ve been considering the year just finished, and digging deep to find how the year I’m entering can be better; more productive, more quiet, more adventurous, more of whatever it is supposed to be.

Like a hastily taken photograph, there has been a lot of noise in this picture.

I have been able to narrow that noise down to three top priorities.

I posted about them here and here.

In short, they are; 1. Use my writing to help others to heal from their trauma. 2. Take my photography to a higher level to show God’s magnificence and 3. To help people in a more person to person sort of way.

All of these simply mean that I need to stop making excuses, and carve out more time to work on each of these things.

All this past month or so, a different kind of thought has been surfacing around me.

It manifests in different ways and places, but it means the same thing.

I simply MUST take more time to be quiet.

Remain still.

I don’t mean just idle, we all know how to do that.

What I mean is taking that time to quiet the noise inside, so that I can think more clearly.

If you know me, you know that I am a big proponent of “Quietude”, even to the point of making little YouTube spots to help in the process.

Truth time; For the past six months or so, I haven’t been making those spots, or even using them for what they are created for.

It happens.

Life takes a turn sometimes and gets crazy.

When the crazy comes to an end, it takes some time to get back to where we (read I) need to be so we can gain some strength back – mentally, physically or spiritually.  

Enter oversleeping, overeating, over social media-ing, binge watching TV.

This isn’t all bad; the trick is to know when that time is here to stop it, and then do something about it!

One of the ways that it is being made clear to me that it’s time is through a little daily devotion that I read.

Over the last little while, it keeps talking about time, and how it’s been difficult, busy, frustrating and somewhat stagnant.

It also has been encouraging in regards to priorities, entering a new phase of life, knowing I’m not the only one, and resisting the urge (or the habit) of staying hidden away.

These devotions have talked about the significant (I like that word!) changes that have taken place during this time; and now it is time to accomplish what these changes are bringing to pass.

Coming out of this place of retreat, can seem overwhelming.

The habits that help us to be calm, take time to bring to the surface again;

The New and Improved Model!

It seems slow, even one step ahead is always preferred.

But it all makes me want to run forward.

Then today two things came in front of me almost simultaneously;   

  • I heard a friend speak (on Facebook Live) that I hadn’t heard in a while. He was talking about “Zoning out”. His word for “Quietude”. And how he must do this every day, to quiet the noise, to turn off the world we live in, so he can think; the silence speaks volumes. The “Mind of Christ” becomes clearer to him at these times.
  • Today’s devotion was this; January 14, 2020:  Take a breath and settle down, says the Lord.  I know your sense of urgency and impatience to get a move on, but right now I need you to be tolerant and long-suffering.  Otherwise, you will remove yourself from the flow of divine destiny.  Keep yourself in My Spirit and take life as it comes with the grace I will provide.  Romans 16:24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Oh my goodness.

Gently and kindly I’ve been being pushed in this direction – and then today……

It didn’t seem very gentle.

It seemed very firm and deliberate.

Listen up.

Take the time.

I used to teach people that even if you start with five minutes, it could help.

Then you can move the time out as your grow in strength.

But God can work with ANY time that we give Him.

How did this get left off of my priority list?

Well its back on there folks.

Beginning today!

“Quietude” first!

The results will be amazing!

I’ve experienced them before, those “Quietude” moments.

And look forward to enjoying them again!

Thanks for staying with me.

Until next time!

Cousin Friends

So. Last week, I was able to have breakfast with my cousin.

When we were growing up, we saw each other a lot, practically every weekend; sometimes until the wee hours of the morning.

I miss the games of Monopoly, and LIFE, playing hide and seek in the tall grass field next door until well after dark, the camp fires, and the times when we watched the vacation photos off those slides, on that funny little screen.

There’s a funny thing about cousins.

They get you when no one else does, because they were there when no one else was.

This cousin in particular, was a soft place for me to land when I was a high schooler – her being SO GROWN UP with her age being five years beyond mine.

As a young mom with two littles, a lot of time was spent around her kitchen table, making sense of how things were, how they could be.

We learned together how to trust God, and how to allow Him to lead and guide us through some really rough times.

We both had them, but we held on tight.

Somewhere when our kids became full of school activities, and life got crazy – we lost each other.

Well, not really.

Our hearts have been joined all these years none the less.  

We just couldn’t get together as much as we liked.

But you know what?

Being together again last week, seemed to begin closing that gap again.

We are still so much alike, maybe even more now, and we know that we can still benefit each other by just spending time together, telling our stories.

Another thing that we know is that we can help some outside of our family as well.

There are, near as I can tell, only a few other relationships in our lives that can compare to the cousin relationship, and they would be a sibling, a spouse, or if you’re lucky enough a BFF.

These are the ones who can help soothe your soul, hide your crazy, or talk you off the ledge.

All this being said, what my cousin, what my siblings, what my Spouse and what my BFF all know for sure –

Even we will fail.

Humans are not infallible.

We can say we want to help, and truly mean it, but for whatever reason there is a disconnect.

We can strive for that perfection, but will not really ever reach it, at least not here on earth.

So even with all of these human fail safes in place, there still is only ONE who can foot the bill – Perfectly – Forever.

His name is Jesus. 

I read this article, 7 Ways Jesus is the Best Friend You Could Ever Have.

I was impressed by the simplicity with which the author describes what an authentic friendship with Jesus looks like.

She begins by stating that ” Christians think of Jesus as their Lord, Savior, King and Master. However, believers rarely think of Jesus as being a close friend. Though that might sound strange to you at first, Jesus actually wants us to think this way.”

Clicking on the link above will take you to the complete article.

Let me end by saying that I hope you have those in your life who will give you the boost you need, or even the kick in the pants if you are stalled out somewhere.

A cousin, a sibling, a BFF, or a spouse, even a blogger friend; but even in the absence of one of those, you can always give Jesus a try.

I would welcome your dialog if you need some help getting started.

I hope you’ve found this helpful.

Until next time…

Just Notice

The last post I posted in 2019 was about three things that I have put on high priority for the year 2020 and beyond. Year End Ponderings

  1. Helping people
  2. Writing
  3. Photography

Notice. This word keeps coming back to my mind. Notice.

The official definition of the word was much more involved than I first thought.; Written announcement – Warning – Attention – Review – Observe – Perceive – Mention – Recognize – Discern – Detect.

Oh my goodness.

So much more than I thought, so much more than meets the eye.

So where do I want to go with this.

My original idea was to just NOTICE what is around me.

Hmm. I’m still there, but there has to be more, just by virtue of the scope of the definitions.  

The words that are most directly connected to my own thoughts on the word NOTICE, are the following; PERCEIVE, RECOGNIZE, OBSERVE, DISCERN.

*When I was growing up, I had very little if any ideas of my own.

I’m not sure I NOTICED much.

I did only what was expected (barely) and what I was told (I was afraid not to).

I was taught WHAT to think, not HOW to think.

When I had children of my own, a new PERCEPTION began to rise in me.

I RECOGNIZED that I actually had choices that I could make for myself, and I also RECOGNIZED that I could teach my children the value of making good choices.

(To this day, I can hear my daughter, sending her teenagers off to school, calling out – “Make good choices!)

Later on, I began journaling while I was reading my Bible.

Much of that was simply about what I NOTICED in my Bible.

It began simply by writing out, word for word what I was reading, if it made sense to me.

Eventually, I was able to begin OBSERVING I was having some thoughts about what I was reading.

I was RECOGNIZING how God’s word could apply to my life.

So my journaling began to look a little differently.

The bullet point OBSERVATIONS became more like real sentences.

Real sentences became more like real paragraphs.

And low and behold, I OBSERVED that I could help people with my words.

So those words turned into a blog.

A blog in 2012 that was very different from one in 2019 and beyond.

Here is where some DISCERNING came in.

DISCERNING what is needed, what to share, what will be the most helpful to the person out there searching.

I began to NOTICE along the way, that there are folks who need to be loved, honored, taught, and yes, NOTICED.

And I am happy that I can be capable of some of that.

*These are some of the same things I NOTICED when I began just taking photos on my phone a few years back.

I PERCEIVED that there is a lot of beauty out there that others never get to see.

I RECOGNIZED that all my years I have been a lover of sky watching, far away landscapes, and enjoying beauty in general.

I RECOGNIZED that by photographing things, I could lift my own mood, so DISCERNMENT came in right here too; why not use that enjoyment to help lift the moods of others.

The fact that a photographer often OBSERVES things in a different way than the general public looks strange to some, but for real, it is a gift to those who do not possess it.

It is just one of the myriad ways to help bring peace to an upset countenance.

*Finally, with the same process, I PERCEIVED that through all of my life, I’ve been able to RECOGNIZE those around me who have been somehow traumatized in their lives.

Not all have been able to find the way to mental or physical health.

DISCERNMENT helped me to NOTICE/REALIZE that not all PTSD is combat related.

I learned through study, that it can also be caused by multiple kinds of trauma; mental trauma, sexual trauma, trauma from an accident or loss, or a host of other things.

There is no end to the things that cause harm to people.

Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there.

I OBSERVED that sharing my story, in whole or in part, can help some to find a step to begin on, and even a soft place to land, when things don’t turn out the way they should.

I can indeed be a “basket holder” while their pieces are flying off (because they will fly off).

When they stop flying, I can help in some way to put their pieces back together again.

DISCERNING when, where, and how, is a gift, and it can be PERCEIVED if I am quiet enough.   

In Isaiah 54 the Bible speaks of the Covenant that God makes with those that love Him.

My favorite verse is #17a KJV – No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper.

It does not say there will be no weapon – like depression and sadness, or trauma and PTSD, bad physical or mental health – it says they will not prosper.

Until next time.

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.