Transformations

Are you in need of one?

What a difference a week makes, or should I say my weakness makes.

Easter came and went like a blur.

Dealing with Dad’s short hospital stay, how horrible does that sound, took a lot out of me. Dementia has transformed him into a shadow of himself; some days I want my strong, smart and smiling Daddy back.

Ever since Easter, I have been feeling out of sorts. Exhausted, stressed and far from the spiritual renewal I had hoped this Easter would have on my life. My head felt like it belonged on some else’s body – woozy is the best word to describe my transformed state.

My out of sorts feeling now has a deadly diagnosis, high blood pressure. There are few bigger whiners and weenies than me when it comes to physical discomfort. And for me, the great denier and hater of all things pharmaceutical, I relented and am now taking a pill! A tough blow to this tough old broad, or at least that’s what I want to be – tough, never weak.

My reaction to this little blip on my screen of life, please don’t laugh, God had abandoned me!

Yep, when I feel physically bad, I feel spiritually empty. Not a good combination, because I get too close to the cusp of crazy. Me of so little faith, and rational thought!

This past week on another good Friday, I was back in church sitting quietly before a beautiful life-sized crucifix of my Savior. During this respite, I took some much needed time to chat with Jesus and He gently reminded me that:

* My most anxious times have led to transforming revelations.
* The best day of my life ended in tragedy.
* His ways are not the ways of the world.
* That I can trust Him in all things, and always.

What I learned in this quiet, contemplative moment was that, He is still with me, yet I doubted that truth all week.

  • Doubted that the Lord loved me.
  • Doubted that the Lord had a plan for my current struggles.
  • Doubted that peace was still possible.

How crazy does that sound – over wooziness?

What a difference a week makes on this, boy I hate to admit it or feel it, weak soul like me.

The beauty of Jesus, He knew I would be right there in a Church that I had been in only twice before, this place of adoration and contemplation, where I would receive more of Him. Not just a quick daily Mass, I needed more time, more of His presence, and more of His infinite love.

And here in this place with the overwhelming smell of Easter flowers that would usually crush me, I am soaking in the heavenly smell of Easter; the Resurrection part of Easter where Jesus turned doubters and transformed them into true believers. Before this cross, I remembered that He can take what little faith I have left and transform me as well.

Transform me as He did Thomas, the great doubter. As He transformed Mary, who knew the crush of demonic spirits. As He transformed Peter, the denier who had the courage to enter the empty tomb. They all knew fear, abandonment and doubt and were transformed by Jesus’ powerful presence and His precious blood.

And with this realization, His peace covered and caressed me, all because of that first Good Friday. Amazing what spending time in the presence of Jesus did for my very weak, weary and doubting soul. He was able to take the little faith I had left and transformed me back into a believer.

Boy, what a difference a week makes!

So Despicable!#!

Promise Breakers!

Do you have a despicable person in your life who is constantly letting you down?

Do they make promises that they don’t keep?

And when they promise once again, you believe them only to be lied to one more time! The list of broken promises are so long, and like an idiot, you belief them time and time again.

Is that disappointing, aggravating, dishonest person living with you?

I hope not!

Mine is, and I have had enough of their lies, enough of their scheming and conniving ways!

My health has been impacted, I am sick and tired, in debt and so disillusioned because of trusting them. Listening to their promise that tomorrow, yes always tomorrow, will be different.

I am ready to throw this person out of my life.

I am so disgusted, I don’t even care to look at them.

My desire is to leave this despicable person right now, if only I could. To finally put that lying, promise breaking person out of my life. And who would blame me – would you?

There is just one problem

One too big of a problem to overcome; that despicable, promise breaking person is me!

Promise to lose weight – BROKEN!

Promise to finish another book – BROKEN!

Promise to start an online course about careers – BROKEN but ALMOST THERE! 

Promises to stop spending, stop playing, stop delaying, stop watching mindless TV – BROKEN.

Promises to workout, go to bed and get up earlier and develop other productive habits – BROKEN.

The list of broken promises, broken goals, broken dreams are too long to list, and too embarrassing to share.  

Except I just did!

What is so perplexing is that I give good advise, I am wise and I am helpful.

At least that is what my clients and students say about me. As a coach and facilitator I encourage, inspire and motivate others to be their best.

Why can’t I do that for myself?

Is this another lie, or a truth that I can’t bear – I AM my most challenging client.

It is tough enough living with myself, I have been feeling this same level of frustration with four of my most challenging clients.

Individuals with long term unemployment who I am holding their hands, setting up interviews, calling, begging and pleading companies to hire them. Even gone as far as picking them up and driving them to the interviews, the Uber coach and recruiter that is who I am!

Their despicable, promise breakers. Once again the cycle continues; only to be disappointed, for them, and for me. Disappointed when they don’t follow through, don’t call, don’t do what they promised me they would do. The hardest part is seeing them right back where they started – stuck and struggling.

Then before one more judgment passes through my mind or exits my lips, this wave of conviction hits me.

At first the wave is a ripple, yet as each wave washes over me it becomes more aggressive, louder and more convicting.

The promise breaker, the beggar, the pleader, the judge that I have become is shouting a message of truth too loud for me to ignore for one moment more.

I know all of these individuals have been put in my life to help me, to teach me, to convict me, to strengthen me.

I know now that I am them and they are me. And I can no longer call them, or me, despicable.

Rather then kill the messenger, I embrace the message of truth.

That my struggles and challenges, my faults and my failures, have all been strategically placed in my lives to refine me, and help me to re-find myself.

Because each day I am despicable is a day full of opportunity to make a different choice. To finish, to focus, to forgive, to forge on. Because no matter how despicable I may be – Jesus still loves me.  The Bible, and my mother, tells me so!

crownofthornsIsn’t that what this beautiful season of Lent is all about?

To take our despicable, promise breaking selves and draw closer to Him who knows our struggles, because he has lived them.

He too felt sorrow and pain, temptation and tribulation.  

He too fell three times on His journey to the cross. Yet He kept moving forward up that impossible hill.

How did He do that?

He kept His eye focused on His Father, on His purpose and on His sheep.

Rather than giving something up this Lent – I am taking my broken promises, my broken spirit, all my brokenness and giving in, leaning in, and letting go.

So that I can receive. I can stop relying on me.  I can stop trying to do this all alone.

This Lent I am giving to Jesus all of my faults and failures, all my dreads and dreams, all my anxieties and feelings of overwhelm.  Every single broken part of me I am giving to Him.

Because isn’t that what He really wants from me this Lent?

For me to let go, so that He can do what He does best.  

Using my brokenness, every despicable part and keeping His promise to love me, strengthen me, save me, redeem me and free me – from my despicable, broken self! 

Five Reasons I Don’t Miss My Mom

Living Your More Lessons

1223001020aToday marks my mothers fourth heavenly anniversary. She was present at my birth, and I was present at her rebirth. So blessed to have been there when she left us all.

My mother was a great teacher; wise beyond her education and status. So spot on with advise and how to have a strong and loving marriage. Mom was a loving parent who would have died for me, given her all for me; and I knew that every day of my life.

If she was all of this, and more, then why don’t I miss her?

Because it would hurt to live in that space.

My mother’s passing was not my first major loss. My daughter had preceded her in death; isn’t that what the obituaries say. I had over 13 years of practice learning how to mourn productively.

For me taking that grief, or missing her, upon me every day would be a slow and steady form of torture. Nothing positive comes to mind, for me anyway, to be in that space of missing her.

So if there is no missing, what then, do I do?

1). I Rejoice

If I believe in heaven, in eternal life, in Christ’s words to the good thief on the cross, “This day I will see you in paradise”. How then could I do anything but rejoice for her.

I believe my mother is in the better place, the place that I am excited to go, the place where she reconnects with those that she loves. She gets to be with her two grandchildren, who left too early, but just at the right time – God’s time.

2). I Release Her

My Dad, who understandingly struggled with losing the love of his life, needed to release her. Mom would always do what my Dad wanted, even if it was difficult for her. That was their sacred dance. Bringing him to see her during the final weeks of her life pained me, and him. He wanted his wife back; the vibrant, beautiful, loving wife of his youth. She left a long time ago, at least ten years before she died.

On the car ride over to see mom I would prompt Dad.

“Dad, you need to tell Mom it’s okay to go home. That is where she has been begging and pleading to go for three years. Please, today, release her!”

“I can’t”, was his soft response. “That’s like asking me to kill my wife.”

“You worked so hard to take Mom out of Camden, to give her the best life possible. You took her to exotic places, bought her beautiful gems and furs, yet you want her to be trapped in a body and mind that is broken beyond repair. When, by your words, telling her it is okay to go home, she could be in paradise, healthy, strong and waiting for you, just like when you went in the Navy.”

When he finally released her, I rejoiced!

3). I Remember 

One of my mother’s favorite bit of advise was helping me to understand the truth about coveting thy neighbors goods. For me the “goods” were popularity. From my vantage point the popular girls lives just looked so much better than mine.

My mom would remind me, “You can’t have it both ways. You can’t take only one piece of who they are, you have to take their whole life.”

Mom reminded me of how a friend could have better grades, a better social life, or a better boyfriend. But that friend might also have an alcoholic mother or an abusive father. Her family could be struggling financially, and her parents could be on the brink of divorce. They could have a myriad of other problems my coveting eyes could not see.

Mom’s eyes knew the truth, because she lived the strained and stressful lives that so many of popular friends were living.

As she always did, my mother was teaching me the lesson of the cross. And asking me, in an indirect way, which cross would I rather bear? The choice was easy, I would always choose my cross, my life. Through her lesson I learned to appreciate all I had, not all that I thought I wanted.

Since I can’t have it both ways in regards to my mother, I had to decide which Mother did I want. If I had my mother here with me, she would have her disease. And as I know my mother would die to save me. I also knew I needed to let my mother die to be saved from Alzheimer’s. That was the only way to release her.

Thanks for teaching me this lesson so long ago. It has made, not missing you, so much easier.

4). I Reflect

Mom is in my language, my mannerisms, in my faith, in my marriage, in my mothering, and in my grand mothering. She is in my home, in my work, in the things I enjoy. Mom is everywhere in my life. She is in my wisdom, in my stories and in my teachings. She will never leave me, because she has never really left me.

All her sacrifices, all her love and all her lessons are still with me woven into the fabric of my life. I don’t need her physical presences because of the beautiful present of wisdom she gave me. For now those loving lessons are enough, they just have to be.

“Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds.” John‬ ‭12:24‬ 

My mother’s wisdom is that kernel that needed to die, so that it can produce many seeds of wisdom. And every time I reflect on the love of my mother, I realize, I can’t have it both ways.

5). I Realize

As my mother taught me, I have another generation to teach, to share my faith, to share my love, to share my life lessons. Mourning deeply is a teacher to those that watch you. And my older granddaughter, Izzie, was there watching, through her four year old eyes, as the grandmother she loves, lost her mother.

I want to be a billboard for faith in action. Letting my granddaughters know that death, when you have a strong faith, is another part of life. Yes, a part that hurts, and one that I wish no one had to experience ever again, but an important part, and an important lesson. 

Izzie, who is a sensitive and loving child, needs to see me being okay, so she too can be okay. She needs to see me walk my faith, so one day she will want to walk her own life of faith. Izzie needs to know that when I go, I will still be with her. Right there everyday with her – in my love, in my lessons, and in my faith. She needs to know she doesn’t have to miss me, she can let me go and we will both be okay.

And also to ensure that the circle of wisdom continues, I want Izzie to know these things, so she can teach her younger sister. To teach Sofie, so that on days like today they will both know it is okay to shed some tears, to feel the pain of grief and then remember to rejoice, because I will always be with them.

Because they too will have days like today. Difficult days, days with a hint of sadness and tears. Days like today when I really, really miss my Mom.

It’s Confession Time

Will you listen to mine?

It’s Confession Time!

Do you love to hear others air their dirty laundry? To hear their misdeeds and maladies?

I don’t!
Not in a self righteous kind of way. More in the if I show you mine will you show me yours kind of way.
I’m not a showy type of person, there’s just one small problem – I’m Catholic! We are suppose to go to confession, also known as reconciliation, once a year and air the dirt!

My time was up!

Last confessions of the year are like cattle calls. We all rush in hoping to get the part, I mean pardoned for our sins.

Tonight the Church was packed. I arrived late hoping to jump into line and get this I’ll tell you mine session over – 15 people ahead of me in line.

I asked the guy in front of me, “Are they giving away something free tonight?”

That sort of went over with a loud thud! I like when you make a joke and someone thinks your crazy and gives you an answer.

“No this is the line for confession!”

All rightie!

I then proceed to ask him, “Do you do this often?”

“I’m not a mortal sinner, but I do go on a regular basis.”

Was he implying that he thought I was!

“I’m just doing a quick poll! My sister goes all the time, loves it, but I’m reluctant.”

“You got to do what feels right for you.”

Confession line advise.

He keeps checking to see if there is a shorter, and less intrusive line, somewhere else in the church.
I shut up and after waiting for about 45 minutes I proclaim to the line, “We can skip penance after standing and waiting this long.”

Silence!

Not a good crowd tonight. My guess is they were making up their list of sins, prepping for the exam, or examination of conscience.

There were two young boys in front of me, or in front of the man who fled when an usher announce there was a no wait line inside the church. These two kids were squirmy, pacing, pushing, doing kids waiting too long in line stuff. The older one enters the confessional and comes out a nude man – just kidding.

That is what my youngest son announced one day after taking a nap. “Mom you’re right I feel like a nude man!”

A nap I really needed but made him take instead. He was three at the time! I would tell him that he would feel like a “new man” if he took the nap.

Isn’t that what confession is all about – doing something we don’t want to do so we can become renewed?

Well this young man looked so peaceful, like he had a double shot of grace, perked him up and calmed him down at the same time.

Whatever he had I wanted a double order of right now! Sort of like the scene in “When Sally Meets Harry” but in a godly, grace-filled way.

Did I get the movie name correct?

Don’t want to stop to Google it. And back spacing takes just as long because I’m typing all 900 words on my phone.

Then the usher comes out again and waves me forward. Did I tell you I got into the line with a priest that wasn’t at my parish? I like the anonymous type confessions.

When someone keeps on waving you in, you go. For Pete’s sake I am in Church and disobedience is definitely on my list.

I’m ushered into a room with my parish priest, and it will be the face to face confession. Where is the night light shining in my face and the Dragnet music playing in the background.

I let him know my discomfort. He told me he prays before he does confessions to forgive and forget!

Okay good we can do Catholic Confession shtick together. This might not be all that bad! This priest is a gem!

So here is my confession:
I really struggle with doing God’s will.
I’m a poser or pretender and it is my go to answer when people ask me about my floundering career.
“I’m waiting to hear God’s will! He’s just not speaking to me as loudly as He did to some of the other prophets!”

It’s my excuse, or since I just went to confession- it’s my lie!

I truly want to believe that I want to do God’s will, I do, but I don’t.

Do you get me?

Good!

The priest says to me, “Listen when you recite the Our Father, aka the Lord’s Prayer.”
Is this the best he’s got?I did a mini eye roll, and then he continues, “You will have to let go of your kingdom before you can accept His kingdom coming.”

That’s not where I thought he was going, so the eye roll was unwarranted.

That’s the truth.

I step into God’s will, and then I back out of it like I just drove into a bad neighborhood, tires screeching and my foot on the gas headed back to my kingdom.

Writing is one place I feel His call. And I keep on telling Him both literally, and through my lack of obedience, You’ve got the wrong number.

But does He?

The same exact way that boy looked coming out of confession tonight, and how my son felt after my much needed nap, is how I feel when I write – renewed!

His kingdom is asking me to do something that when I do it, I feel great!

Now that is my kind of God!

What do you feel God is calling you to do?

If you have taken the wrong number approach, maybe listen to that message a few more times. It could be life transforming, the kingdom that you have been waiting for, it’s right there. You just need to say yes to it!

Yes to His will not mine!

Confession truly is good for the soul.

Thanks for listening to mine!

My New Year, No Lifetime, Resolution

Well at least I'm trying!

New Year, new week new day, new minute – each element of time gives me the opportunity to choose who I will become, or not become.

Last year I started a sugar fast. It was another binge holiday season that left my clothes tight and an unsightly herpes sore the size of a quarter on my lip. Big boo boo is what my little granddaughter would call it.

What the boo boo really is – a neon sign flashing “She is out of control!” And I was! One truffle wouldn’t do it. The whole box beckoned me and until it was obliterated my pursuit for every piece of gooey goodness was relentless.

What I was trying to achieve from this sugar high – I’m not sure. Was I shoving down an emotion or just a confection? Maybe it was both. Maybe I don’t want to know!

The fast/resolution was my way to get on God’s good side, not sure He has a bad one, to have a couple of prayers answered.

What started as 30 days has now gone to 351. Hi I’m Diane and it has been 11 months and too many days without a cookie!

Why I stuck to it for so long – 10 times longer than my original get out of Candy Land plan?

I feel better, I sleep better, I think better and I like me and everyone else better!

Can eliminating sugar really do that to a person? Probably not – it was a combination of lots of things and as soon as I remember the rest of the combination I’ll share the secret code.

It was taking something away that got me away from being my best self. Sugar was an addiction, a comforter, an excuse.

One year later I’m still off the treats. No holiday sugar binges! I said no to my sister in law’s delicious pecan sandies and the chocolate chip cookies my bestie’s husband makes. Both yum, yum, yummy!

But even with all this sacrifice why did I still get a herpes? It was minimal, thankfully! My husband and a friend said too much holiday kissing – not the good kind – the obligatory kind.

So now another year and I want to fast again from something – that will heal my soul, not just my body. A soulful resolution that will cleanse me from a more lethal toxin than sugar could ever be – dare I say SIN!! (Wanted to make it big enough for you to see!)

This fast will be so much more difficult (the little more that really is a big MORE). I know I will be breaking this fast minute by minute, no second by second. And I want to do it desperately because it will make me more Christlike (is that one word or two) spell check or the great grammar gurus let it go through, so I will too.

Drum roll please – rum pa pum pum!

I am fasting from judgement!

Now don’t go and judge me.

Why this?

I don’t like how I feel when I am all judgy. I don’t. I really don’t.James 1

Judging others just exposes the true me – like I am looking into a magnetized mirror – which should be outlawed. I see things about myself that are ugly! There I said it.  And for too long I was the person in James 1:23-24. Looking at my judgy self in the mirror, turning away, forgetting about it, and not realizing what it was doing to my face, my heart and my soul.

When I judge I am taking a gander at myself and not liking what I see. Honestly I judge thin people, successful people, people who look like they’ve got what I don’t have but desperately want but don’t want to work to get.

Did you get all of that?

Sometimes the old language says it best!

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:1‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Sugar and judgement have so much in common.

They really do and I will prove it to you.

  • They are both addicting. Just try and stop!
  • They are both an easy go to whenever you want to be somewhere else emotionally. The same way I reached for a sugary sweet, I reach for a judgy treat.
    • Not feeling good about yourself – just judge someone
    • Bored – scroll through Facebook – judge someone
    • Tired – watch mindless TV –  judge someone
  • They are toxins – to the body. I feel this judgy hangover just like I did after a sugary binge. Regretful, promising not to touch the stuff the next day, and then one of those above stated feelings comes over and pow – right back on the stuff.
  • They are both a cheap substitute for something better. I go to sugar and judgement when I’m not feeling good about me. The better option – remember the cross! I’m good enough, we are all better than good enough, so go to the One in prayer, gratitude or praise. The high I get there – is incomparable, longer lasting, and no negative side effects.

So I put it out there and I’m asking you not to tempt me! Don’t be too good at anything, too happy, too healthy or wealthy, so I can’t go all judgy!

I am so much less (can you really do that or be that) judgmental when you do the really bad stuff than when you do the really good stuff.

Not sure why. Maybe I am more judge mental than I realized! (What started as a spell check recommendation was just too good to pass up.)

I know this fast is impossible not to break. It is a Mt. Everest fast/resolution, that will be more of a revolution, or evolution for me, or both and all at the same time. 

I know I will fall down, see someone do something or hear something that needs a quick comment, or long soliloquy.

I get that!

What I will also get is a heightened awareness about what is causing me to judge. Can’t fix it if I don’t know what is it, and sometimes even when I do. But at least I am going to try, repent, confess, try again, fail again and eventually each minute will be a little easier, and hopefully a little less judgmental!

That is why this year I am not making a resolution, hopefully, again, it will be for a lifetime. I want to choose the MORE Christ-like way of living. And I will need all the help I can get with this one, from the ONE.

Stay tuned, if you dare, to what I learn about myself and the whole judgement detoxification process! I promise to share the lessons, and the laughs. 

So to get back to the beginning of the whole sugar fast/resolution. You’re probably wondering if the fast worked and if all my prayers were answered, or did you forget that part of the story!

They all were!

Just not the way I wanted them to be! They were answered the way they needed to be.

What is the one “sin” you would like to resolve to dissolve for a minute, an hour, a week or from your life?  

I promise I will NOT judge you, but others might!

 

The Three Things I Struggle With – Can You Help Me?

Ideas are very welcome!

Another confession and this one doesn’t involve a priest.  Just me thinking about another year ending, without the happy ending I had hoped for and the clock is tick, tock, ticking another year away.

What I realized is that these three things I struggle with everyday are what is stopping me.  So I swallow my big hairball of pride and ask – can you help me?

1). Lack of planning
Planning is futile, or not! Not sure why I said it it futile,it just feels that way. I spend time doing the planning but not doing the things I planned to do.

Yikes!

I’m impulsive – I am!

So planning to do all these things – the list is way to long and overwhelming stops me. Then something shiny and bright gets in my way and I am off to something new, more shiny, and more interesting than anything I planned to do, or not do.

Conquer the world, write another book, launch a 21 day Re-Ignite Your Career challenge, start doing on-line courses, etc.

Where is a non-planner to begin?

They are all so exciting and intimidating all at the same time.

How do I move forward when it feels so overwhelming?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated- just don’t use the word planning, please!

2). I start and I don’t finish!
The number of projects I start and don’t finish is legendary – in my own mind! I get this excitement over my own ideas that builds up, I start, get stuck with what to do next and this great idea is put into the pile of other unfinished projects.

And then someone else finishes what I started and is making a gazillion dollars. It’s true! All of it!

It’s like God has given me an idea of something to change, improve in the world, I think about it, mull it over, start it, get stuck and then Mother Teresa comes along and helps the lepers!

No that wasn’t one of my ideas! But I see her greatness and feel my smallness.

Do you ever feel that way?

You watch Shark Tank and the stupid idea you had, never got it past the idea phase and now someone else is reaping the benefits.  The finishers are ruling the world, with our ideas, shot up into to universe, they grab the idea like the floating dollar bills in a tank, and scope up every last one of them.

I realize that as a starter, finishing is an ending that I don’t want to have happen because I’m not sure what the ending will be.

Will I have poured my heart and soul into something that doesn’t give me the happy ending I am seeking?

I’ll need to ponder that for just a moment!

Maybe if I change the expectations!

Maybe I need to change my measuring system!

Maybe I need to stop thinking, dreaming and start finishing.

Why can’t I finish? Any ideas on how to become a finisher this year?

So today I declare to finish putting the signup and freebie on my website by the end of this year – 2015. They are really good freebies so why can’t I just let them FLY?

Please hold me to that promise!

3). I procrastinate
Mostly with finishing the projects I didn’t plan out, impulsively started and now want to finish, but I still don’t know how. So I hope for Divine inspiration or Divine finishing neither happens and I’m back to the no planning phase of my life!

I’m turning 60 in less than 60 days! That is one thing I know I can’t procrastinate – I’ve tried, it isn’t working.

Most of my peers are retiring, slowing down, I can’t – both financially and spiritually I can’t. There is still work to do I believe it in every cell of my body.

If only this year, this milestone year if I could plan to finish one of my big ideas and stop procrastinating 60 will look like the new 39!  The age my mother always said she was, right up until she was 85!

  • I will remember that time is a gift and I only have so much of it
  • Finishing, though sometimes sad, is better than not finishing
  • Procrastination is a lie
  • Perfect timing is a myth
  • Perfectionism is a mega myth

And when I die I don’t want to see all of my unfinished work left behind. I want to finish well. So I better get started – now!

Why Did I Do This Challenge?

If only I knew!

I wanted to end strong!

To have the most incredible blog. Not just any blog, a viral blog that would trajectory my life, to where I’m not sure, but to take me places where I have not yet been, or thought to discover.

Instant fame by my relentless pursuit of sharing my life with people who I don’t know and probably will never meet. Little insights into myself that I did not know where dormant.

But why a 30 day blog challenge?

Lot’s of challenges out there, that’s for sure.  Most I avoid, and others I run from.

Why did I start, stick, and finish this one?

I’ve tried 30 days of smoothies and 21 days in, I hated my blender and all things edible that you don’t have to chew.  Wanted to end well, but it just ended, 9 days before the finish line.

Physical challenges, not for me. My daughter-in-laws jumped onto that one. My idea of exercise is best described in that commercial “if one sit-up, one blueberry, could alter your health – that would be one too many for me.

Why then would I commit to a 30 day blog challenge, when I know already I am not a completer?

I’m still waiting for the answer myself, as I type with only 4 hours and 41 minutes until midnight!

Why do you think I would do this and stick to it?

I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you!

What did you say? I need to know?

You’re crazy!

Very possible. My husband actually asked that same question today, in a much nicer way of phrasing it, “Why are you crying? (So weepy this month, and not in a bad way, in a releasing, joyful, opening my heart way.)

“Do you need some help honey?”

Same answer I have to why did this challenge matters.  When he knows and I know, I can’t stick to anything, other than 40 years of marriage and counting, every second.

Don’t know!

But does it matter?

Can we just do things to do them?

Yes adventurous people do that, and I’m not one of them.

Competitive – not really, unless I’m trying to beat my granddaughter, which I can’t, in any board game out there. Okay I know I brag on her way to much, but it is warranted.

Let me give one more teachable moment delivered by Izzie.

One glorious Saturday afternoon we were together doing age defying work.  I was getting a touch-up at the hairdressers and Izzie was getting her waist length hair cut. Glamour day for the big day the next day – her baby sister’s Christening Day.

The sweet hair stylist wanted to know what we two ladies did for fun.

“Board games like Scrabble and Monopoly”, was my answer.

“Scrabble, really, she’s only in first grade. How good could her vocabulary be?”

She said this right in front of this innocent child!

“V- O- C -A- B- U- L- A- R- Y” was Izzies spelled out answer!

Even better was watching the hair stylist attempt to spell check in her head. When she realized that Izzie had produced, in the correct order, all 10 letters of this word, she uttered, “I guess she can!”

I wanted to shout out Bingo, but realized wrong game.

What is a Gan-ma to do?

That’s my girl, was one response, but was there another one?

One to the hairdresser and one to my Izzie!

Izzie was my job and I think Izzie already taught the hairdresser what she needed to learn – don’t underestimate.

When we got into the car I asked Izzie, “I saw and heard some disrespect in the hairdressers, did you?”

“Well, a little – she didn’t think I could spell and thought you were lying. I just wanted to let her know that I could spell and you weren’t lying.”

Did I tell you I love this girl!

The same way that Izzie responded to that hairdresser is the same way I started this challenge – trying to prove myself!

Yet it doesn’t get to the heart – what am I trying to prove, and to whom?

Prove that I can type – nope!
Prove that I can write – maybe.
Prove that I have something worthwhile to say – I do, we all do.
Prove that I am being called out of cozy, safe, comfort zone – good possibility.

Or could it be something else?

That writing is just so much fun, my kind of fun.

I weave words together the way my sister uses strips of material to make a quilt. The way my husband and sons use wood to build a house. Or how my niece uses icing to make the cutest cupcakes.

Is blogging my craft, my art, my creation?

Is it my way of expressing myself that I have not found another material or medium could do?

Because when I write I do feel free, unencumbered, especially in this free flowing format called blogging.

An art form that flows from my heart and soul to my fingers and onto the page.

An art form that excites me, invites me, and fits right – for me!

Weaving words together, painting a picture, that I could never accomplish with a brush.

An art form that I am willing to sacrifice sleep and paid work to do, but again I ask – why and for whom?

Are my words to be sent out as just a release for me, or are these words to be received by another?

Or am I just thinking too much about what it should be, rather than just letting it be?

Be art – my art, for me.

Where Do You Spend Your Time?

Who is your best teacher, your inspiration, your truth speaker?

Mine, is Izzie, my granddaughter. From the time she could speak, she has spoken wisdom into my heart and soul.

After spending a week together on vacation I couldn’t imagine she could have taught me anything MORE, but she did!  That’s what she does, opens my heart and mind to a child’s way of thinking.  That following Monday I had another opportunity to be proven wrong, by this brilliant child!

De-vacationing happens quickly for me, it is the time when your mind leaves that place of relaxation and release, right back to reality.  Sometimes it is the day before vacation ends or in the car ride home.  It is whenever I leave the present to go into this unknown space called the future.

De-vacationing always means clean up.  Whether washing the clothes from a week away, sorting through mail, checking emails, and running errands.  I promised Izzie if she lets me get done what I need to do, we can go to a movie that afternoon.

Running from place to place I would explain to Izzie where I was going, what I was doing, and why I needed to do what I needed to do.  She very sweetly asks me for a piece of paper and a pen.  Asking for something to write on, is not out of the ordinary for Izzie.  She is one of the most productive people I have ever met, which says a whole lot after spending years in the Executive Suite, and she was only five at the time.

“If you give me the pencil and paper, I can write down all the things that you need to do. Then when you do them, I can cross it off the list. That way you wouldn’t miss anything, and we can get to the movies on time.”

Boy she is definitely a J (judging) to my P (perceiving) in Myers-Briggs.  Making a list, checking it twice, making sure Gan-ma is nice, not naughty.

Sometimes I wonder if I am the dumbest Gan-ma on the planet, or if she is the smartest kid. She has told me that she knows she is smarter than me, probably because I ask her a lot of difficult questions, which means I don’t have the answer and need her to tell me!

With pride I show her I already have it covered on an iPhone app, and proudly display my list.

Errands run, now just some email cleanup to complete.  We are on schedule!

I sit down in my prayer room, me in my prayer chair, Izzie at the desk.  Two hardworking, smart ladies, taking care of business. Mine is mindless, Izzie’s is important.  I’m erasing, she is producing, a very, very important list – her favorite things.

Izzie shows me her list, and my heart stops.  Did I tell you she is the smartest kid in the world?

Her list of her favorite things with spending time with family at the top!

Is she trying to tell me something?  Am I really spending time with her, or taking up space in the same place?

Often times I get so busy doing mindless stuff that doesn’t matter, to fake production, where she is producing something memorable and important, to me, almost every minute.

When I am dead and gone, will this girl eulogize me, which she of course will, and with a tear in her eye say, “My Gan-ma never had a full email box, she let all her Facebook friends know every day how she liked their posts.

Get my point.

Izzie once again taught me the truth, her truth and His truth.  Where my time is, where my treasures are, is where my heart is.

Lessons I learned from Izzie:

  1. Do what is most important, most of the time.
  2. Put your priorities into perspective.
  3. Choose wisely, like a child would choose.
  4. Don’t waste time on things that waste your time.
  5. Give more to those I love, then to those I don’t.

Every day I need to remember that spending time with my family, listening, loving, is the most important thing I will ever do helps me to choose wisely.

In the end I want to be remembered for the moments that I made, the hearts that I touched, the people that I helped.  And in doing so I can be assured that my legacy, and eulogy will stand the test of time.

 

 

 

Oh Christmas Tree!

And other Christmas Craziness

Today was a perfect day for Christmas tree shopping. Warm, bright, beautiful spring day stuck right in the middle of December. My husband, a helper friend and me load into my big mans even bigger truck.

For the last couple of years when Joe asks, “When are we going to get the tree?”

I respond, “Oh, Christmas Tree?” Because I forgot, or want to forget! Something is happening between me and my love of Christmas trees.

This was the such a big deal for me in the past.  Now all I can see is a big mess.

My Christmas Tree obsession has now turned into mild depression.  Not sure if it is the mess, or that sad feeling I get after the holidays. The house was decorated, filled with lights and holiday smells, and then it’s over.  Nothing left but clean-up, and the house now looks bare and feels empty, so empty I here the echoes, once again of another Christmas past.

When I was first married I was a Christmas Tree stickler and perfecter. Feeble attempts to make up for Christmas Trees of the past.  Just like Scrooge, my experience with Christmas past, present and future always involves a Christmas tree, teaching me the lessons only a Christmas Tree can teach.

My dad was a later shopper, even for Christmas trees.

There were years he would pull the tree into the house, and the needles would stay outside.  Now that I think of it, right where they belong.

Maybe it was more my mother’s dissatisfaction I was trying to avoid.  Who knows and at this point I’m too old to care.  And who says there are not benefits to aging.

One year Dad was the hero with our big, beautiful, blinking Christmas tree sitting proudly in our living room window. It was so big it was hard to see anything but the tree. We were all mesmerized by the most beautiful tree of our young lives. As my parents, siblings and I sat around the living room admiring our full, fat, beautiful Christmas tree, sipping on our beverage of choice, enjoying the twinkling of the lights, the tree fell over, and crashed onto the piano, making a not to holiday sounding noise.

We all just sat there and watched it, no one brave enough to save the tree mid-fall.

Oh, Christmas Tree – misery.

The next year Dad rigged the tree up to the ceiling with wires.  All I remember is that it looked sorta like the Susie Lou Who’s tree in The Grinch, without the stockings tacked to the wall.

But to Dad it was a success, the tree didn’t fall down!

I think it was better when it did!  A little Christmas excitement never hurt anyone.

After too many missteps, too many Christmas tree disasters, my parents gave up!

My mom hauled into our living room a fake tree kit, I can’t even call it Christmas tree. Removing each color coded branch to ensure we could accurately place the branches for a realistic look, into a very pathetic, fake tree pole.

It screamed “I give up! Christmas has defeated us!”

Why should I care, what did it matter, but it did.  A house without a real Christmas tree, just didn’t feel like Christmas.

My parents were not the first in their families to have a fake tree.  My Aunt Louise had a spectacular fake Christmas tree.  No it was not spectacular. I’m not even sure it could be classified a tree. It was silver aluminum, crazy looking contraption with a color light show that changed the silver to blue, red, green, yellow right before our non-believing eyes.  All six of us, my siblings and I, sat on the plastic cover couches eating Italian cookies and staring in awe, and too afraid to speak.

What could be said, but Oh, Christmas Tree.

Maybe that was my defining moment.  I would not give in, I would not give up on this precious tradition.

Oh, Christmas Tree.

I wanted my kids to have perfect Christmas Tree memories, why?

Because!

The second year of our marriage my sweet husband wanted to provide me with a Christmas Tree adventure.  Our new little family of three were going to cut down our own tree Bernstein Bear style.  We put Jess in her stroller, forged out into the forest and saw 300 foot trees with a little Christmas Tree stuck on top.

Joe needed to cut some wood, he always does, he’s a carpenter.  Walking around this crazy forest, we spot a low hanging tree.  He takes out his saw and begins to saw (that’s what you do with those things). No Clark Griswold chain saw, Joe has in his hand some pre-historic tool he pulled out of his truck.

Saw, saw, saw, saw and the tree begins to fall.

Being new to this whole cut the tree down by ourselves adventure, when our tree fell it was one third of the tree we had hoped it would be.  The other two thirds were attached to the two trees still standing.

Dare I say again, Oh Christmas Tree!

Now we have a tree that we could stick the gifts on, perfectly filling the one foot space between the branches, that the other two trees so greedily kept.  It was pathetic, I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t, I just laughed.

Christmas Present:

Today as the tree waits to be adorned, I got a call, from Izzie, my eight year old granddaughter.

“Can I come over and decorate the tree?”

For the last two years I agreed to allowing the tree into the house, my concession, no decorating. That idea lasted right until Izzie showed up to convince me that without the decorations it is just a tree.  She has a point there, she always does.

Oh, Christmas Tree indeed!

My poor husband, just didn’t get it – my tree craziness. Now he does, and now I want to forget it! The scarier part, I don’t want to give up, give in.  I don’t want to take away this most beautiful part of the season.  I don’t know why, but I don’t.

Izzie is, once again, my voice of reason.

My husband is my co-conspirator.

Izzie, Sofie and Joe took over the decoration duties this year.  There is something so amazingly beautiful watching a giant of a man with little girls, deciding where to put the new, the old, the broken and blinking ornaments, our Christmas tree history.

Tonight before heading to bed, he once again says, like he does most years, “That might be the prettiest tree ever.”

From frighteningly sparse, to fragrantly flocked, and everywhere in between, that tree, Oh, Christmas Tree, that sneeze inducing, needles producing, always seducing tree – is my favorite Christmas tradition.

Oh Christmas tree, how happy you make me!

What is your favorite Christmas tradition?

 

 

 

 

Always, or Never, or Somewhere in Between

My Promises versus HIS!

I love that the Bible can use superlatives, and mean it, it’s the truth! God always and nevers, He can say all and none. And prove it, do it.

I can’t and I don’t! I can make promises like the 30 day blog challenge, but I can’t always promise that I will always post every day!

I am now three days behind, which never feels good and always makes me full of regrets! That’s probably not even true, I’m a little full of regrets as I once again try to find myself, my space in this world, my MORE.  I am so used to breaking promises to myself, and that is always bad.

Always – my parents favorite song. They played it constantly, but not always. In the house and at every celebration, my parents would always want to hear Always. I heard it so many times as a kid, I stopped listening to the beauty and Biblical words to this song.

Days may not be fair always,
That’s when Ill be there always.
Not for just an hour,
Not for just a day,
Not for just a year,
But always.

Ill be loving you, oh always
With a love that’s true always.
When the things you’ve planned
Need a helping hand,
I will understand always.

When their favorite song began to play, my Dad would always grab my Mom’s hand, help her rise from the chair and embrace her as they glided across the dance floor, lovingly looking into one another eyes – always.

Always was always playing in their hearts.

I have an always too!

My promises from God which is always what I want to hear.

He always loved me.

He already has a plan for me.

He will satisfy my needs.

He will strengthen me.

He is always right beside me, willing to shoulder with me any burden I bear – always!

His “always” makes me feel His unconditional love, which always produces a peace that flows through me, as it does right now, and every other time I write and speak, His truth.

What feels like always, is how long I have waited for Him to guide me to the path of my purpose. Then He reminds me, He always does, that there is this clear purposeful path, already paved, pointing this way, to His purpose for me.

He is always waiting for me to step onto His perfectly planned purposeful path that takes me to the place I want to go; closer to Him – always.

By writing each day I feel a space clearing, inviting me to explore and enjoy His purposeful path. Yet I hesitate and run back to the safety of the familiar, though not always fun, path of least resistance. To that which feels more like a burden than a blessing, and at times more than I can bear.

Why do I always do the crazy way, when I know the right way – His way.

Why do I hesitate?

Always!

Oh thee of little faith!

Whenever Jesus says this in the Bible I always cringe. I try to hide myself from Him, which I know there is no hiding place from the Creator of all places. And each time I run from Him is proof, of His power and my lack of faith. My little, tiny, less than a mustard seed, faith! And He always finds me, takes my hand and helps me rise back up again!

Thee of little faith!

I know these words were not meant just for Peter, they were meant for me – and you too! I can see you hiding in safety, in security or is that a mirror reflecting back to me?

If God has conquered all, why am I still fighting – Him.

Why am I fighting Him?

Today I got this silly visual while I typed, another tangential thought going either somewhere or no where, but let’s just go with it.

When I would get mad at my older brothers, which I always did, and want to physically express my anger (aka sock them), they would put there hand on my head – stopping me, reminding me, who am I picking a fight with. I couldn’t get near them and the fight was exhausting – me punching air!

I am still exhausted, with all this fighting and resisting, when I know He has already won, He has conquered all things!

Exhaustion is always a reality check that what I AM doing – isn’t working.

So today, like so many, but not all days, I’m waving that white flag.

Not of surrender, of acceptance. The white flag of come find me, help me, I AM tired!

I can’t promise I will always step confidently into HIS purpose for my life. I have a sad track record of either staying in the boat, or stepping out and doing just what Peter did – sink!

Today I proclaim I will write in His truth, not mine. Because when I do this, is when I feel closest to Him – always.

With tingling energy in my arms and neck, and a swelling in my heart. And I know it is not a heart attack!

It is His touch, coaxing me forward, just like He always does and always will. Into that slow dance called faith.

Always!

Always by Irving Berlin Lyrics

Frank Sinatra, my mothers favorite, singing Always