Life is

“Life is Hard…

It’s getting lost and getting found,
to growing up and getting round
It’s feeling silence, feeling sound
It’s feeling lonely, feeling full
It’s feeling oh so beautiful!
Yes! Come celebrate
Life is hard”

– Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zero’s

I spent some time this morning reflecting on my life – where I am presently, and all of the paths that have brought me here.  I feel an intense sense of awe and wonder. I am so incredibly fortunate. So blessed. So full of joy and gratitude.

I have trudged through some pretty dark and dismal paths. There have been lonely days. Days where I felt weary and worn out. It has never been boring, though. And through it all, I have been blessed to know some beautiful souls who have crossed my path, sewing seeds of wisdom and refreshing me with waters of encouragement.

Even those who, accidentally or intentionally, caused rips in my heart or psyche have served me – maybe as much or more  – because those experiences roused my determination to do better and be different.

Such as my experience growing up under a stern and angry step father who would get irritated if we as children laughed too joyfully in his presence. It made me determined to live with joy and laugh as much as possible.

Or my 3rd grade music teacher whose callous words, “you can’t sing,” made me determined to sing anyway – and loudly. I didn’t say I do it well.

Or all the “Bugs Bunny” jokes I’ve heard about my overbite over the years. I smile broadly and as much as possible. It makes me happy and it makes others happy too. I still have an overbite; and I rather like my smile. IMG_2931

Like Edward Sharpe so eloquently sings, “Life is hard…and oh, so beautiful!”

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Rhythm of the Mundane

“Life is a succession of moments, to live each one is to succeed.” Corita Kent

I have wasted too many moments waiting for the next. As I get older and life moves at the pace of a bullet train, I realize that while I’m waiting – for the weekend, an upcoming vacation, or the end of a difficult circumstance – I am missing out on the present and all its richness.

There is a rhythm in the mundane that makes the extraordinary possible. A casual conversation with a business associate, friend, or neighbor can turn into a moment of enlightenment or encouragement – each giving to the other a bit of themselves.

I know that I have spent too much energy being frustrated while stuck in traffic jams or standing in long lines when I could have chosen to practice patience and an awareness of my surroundings and of others.

I have surely expended too much of what remains of my valuable time  browsing the internet from boredom when I could have taken a walk, had a conversation with a friend, or read a good book.

Magic happens in the mundane moments of life. It’s here that we come face to face with ourselves; and from these encounters hopefully we will grow and take advantage of these times to share our energy, talents, resources, and love with those we encounter along the way.

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Embrace the Change

A few years ago I had a conversation with a business associate who was lamenting the state of his company. In the course of our conversation I made the comment that he had a choice concerning his business model; he could “embrace it or change it.”

That conversation stayed with me as though the person I was speaking to was me -“embrace it or change it.”

My personal life was a mess. I was weighed down by stress. My physical and emotional health was suffering. I wasn’t sleeping well and I was having frequent and random nightmares. 

My marriage was in trouble. It had had been for years, but I refused to see the truth of it because my family life was the most cherished part of my identity. I wanted my family to be whole. I wanted my house to be filled with family and with laughter and love. I believed that marriage was supposed to last forever – for better or worse. I had accepted so many years of “worse” that it became my normal. Brief separations, failed attempts at counseling, and many broken promises did not bring about change. I disconnected emotionally and threw myself into work. I ignored blaring red flags because they threatened the life I was desperately trying to hold onto – even at my peril.

IMG_1759 Before I could make a change, I had to accept the truth that I was living the life I chose. I was not a victim, I was a participant. I realized that I had to stop hoping things would change. Nothing would change for the better unless I was willing to do something different.

I knew that the radical change I needed would rock my world and I was afraid.

The decision for change came suddenly and unplanned. In a moment of clarity, I simply chose a different response to some of the same behaviors that I had accepted for too long and I left my marriage a few months after we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary.

It hasn’t been easy. Change rarely is. But with the struggle, I am growing in ways I had never imagined I would. I am rediscovering the creative, playful and adventurous person that I have always truly been. My new home is peaceful. I have less stress and more joy. My health has improved. And I haven’t had a nightmare since.

I don’t have my life mapped out anymore. All I know is that as I  step through each new and uncertain door I feel strong. I feel vibrant and expectant. I am full of new hope.

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Persuaded

“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” – John 8:12

Lately I try to avoid the news because it is filled with gruesome headlines of people committing dispicable acts, often in the name of whatever god they claim as theirs. I’ll skim the headlines so I’m knowledgeable about the state of the world, but I don’t bathe in it. It is because of today’s headlines that I am compelled to write this post.

In a world crazed with hate and ideologies that span the spectrum of religious zealotry to atheism, I am persuaded by Christ.

In my faith I have found hope for today and tomorrow. I’m persuaded by Christ not because of fear of damnation or blind acquiescence; I’m persuaded by Christ because as I have applied my faith to His teachings, I benefit in this life.

At times of turmoil within and without, I have experienced the “peace that surpasses all understanding.” When my heart is wretched, I find comfort in prayer and by the confidence that I am not alone. In putting my faith to the test, I have proven that “I can,” indeed, “do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

My faith has taught me that love is found in kindness, patience and in many second chances.  It has given me the ability to forgive those who have wounded me. And it is the reason that I am able to see others less critically – as I see myself – a soul navigating through this wild, human experience with a broken leg.

I am convinced that Christ lived among us and I believe that He will live forever in our hearts if we welcome Him. I can’t prove it to you. I wouldn’t even know how to try. I don’t need to; I have proven it to me.

For me, it comes down to this – when Christ was asked which was the greatest of God’s Commandments, He replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.” ( found in Matthew 22:36-40) I believe that this is how we can change the world – starting with our  own.

Blessings friend. And may all your days be filled with the light of life.

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Play

Miles to Go

“It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.”e.e.cummings

Slip n slide Sarah at about age 6. Oh, how I wanted to join you on the slip and slide!

As a child, mom would send us outside to play for hours. It was in these play periods with my siblings that I had grand adventures and made delicious discoveries.

I was an Indian Princess riding a fallen tree that had become my majestic steed. I discovered that baby birds and frogs couldn’t survive long in a shoebox, and that butterfly’s and fireflies did not belong in mason jars. I was a circus performer on a bike and a star in a barn that doubled for a stage.

I loved to explore and create. I was amused by the simplest things. Like the way a velvety leaf felt in my hands or the way a buttercup’s yellow petals would reflect off my…

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Finding the Words

I have searched hard

in those tense moments

for the right words.

I scold myself

for being slow

always too slow

to grasp those perfect

crisp words.

They arrive late

always too late

and like a vapor

they disappear

before I am able

to write them down

for the next time.

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Core Values

I aspire to growth. When I’m 80, I hope I’m still growing and that it will never be said of me that I am too “stuck in my ways” to welcome introspection, fresh thought, and a willingness to grow and change. There’s so much I still want to “grow.”

Still, there are a set of Core Values that I want to live by. Although I haven’t even begun to master them, having them ever before me helps to keep me centered. I reflect on them from time to time and add or update them as needed.

Reflect on what matters to the deepest part of you and consider developing your own Core Values list. Your Core Values don’t have to be stagnant, in fact they should grow just like you. Here are mine.

My Core Values

1. Relationships first. Nothing will ever matter more than the people in my life.

With my children, Aimee, Jared, and Sarah.

With my children, Aimee, Jared, and Sarah.

2. Be grateful in all things.

3. Live spiritually aware. Demonstrate my love for God by how I treat others (Galatians 5:14)

4. Collect more experiences and friends and less “things.”

5. Listen well – truly listen!! People deserve to be heard.

6. Take ownership for my life – accept full responsibility for my choices.

7. Live with curiosity and an open mind.

8. Receive others with kindness and grace.

9. Demonstrate compassion and generosity.

10. Walk with confidence and humility.

11. Pursue Wisdom.

12. Refrain from judgement.

13. Don’t hold grudges. Forgive readily, but….

14. Choose friends and acquaintances carefully.

15. Live mindful and undistracted.

16. Be Bold. Take chances and be willing to Fail Forward.

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