Friday, October 30, 2009

Saved by the Fax

Today, my power went out. It's the beginning of 'the season.' Lots of rain and wind. Many trees will fall down this autumn and winter - a lot of them will clobber power lines. A fact of life where I live.

I came home to find my power out. I had a big project I needed to do on the computer that was going to take many hours. I needed power!

I called the power company. They were aware of the outage and estimated 1 - 2 hours before the power would be restored. I didn't want to wait that long to start my project.

I decided that I would take my laptop and go to a place with wi-fi and get my work done. I packed everything up and 10 minutes later I headed out the door.

I got into my car, and decided (for some 'unknown' reason) to do a test and call my fax machine. That's generally how I 'test,' when I'm away from home, to see if the power is on or off at my house. If the fax machine answers, the power is on. If the fax machine doesn't answer, the power is off. I dialed my fax machine before I even started my car. It rang a few times and the fax machine answered!!!! I was stunned.

I pressed my garage door opener button (which of course, would only work if the power was on) and up went my garage door! The power had come on in the time that it took me to walk from my front door to my car!

I was just about to drive 20 minutes to a wi-fi cafe! That would have used up 40+ minutes of my productive time.

Something caused me to call that fax machine before I even started my car. It really didn't make any sense to do it. I had literally just walked out of the house! Where did that impulse come from? That impulse, and the result saved me a bunch of time and frustration!

Divine guidance. Intuition. It's a powerful gift! When we learn to follow those promptings and not talk ourselves out of them we can experience life at an entirely new level!!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

It Hurts to Say Goodbye

Loss is part of life. No one escapes without experiencing it. We all wish we could avoid it. No one enjoys the sensations of loss, because it hurts.

I was sent this picture today in my email. These chimps are mourning the loss of their beloved friend. They are watching as their companion is buried. You can actually see the anguish on their faces.

We all feel many strong and disquieting emotions when we lose something precious to us: a person, a pet companion, a job, a relationship, sometimes possessions - it could be anything.

At one level, it is important to understand that we, ourselves are not diminished by the loss of anything. No thing or person can diminish us in any way. Yet... loss hurts!

We need to be gentle with ourselves when we experience a loss. Grief is messy. It is unpredictable. It takes energy to process the feelings that come with a loss. We need to give ourselves time and space to feel everything and move through it. We might need more time alone. We might need more time being supported by those who love us. We might need more sleep.

The important thing is to really notice what we need and give that to ourselves.

If you are dealing with any sort of loss today, I wish for you patience and compassion for yourself. Acceptance is the way out of the pain... but it often takes time.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Playing Catch Up Again

I just recently completed a couple really large projects. I'm feeling an immense amount of satisfaction about it! It really does feel good to finish something that you've been working on for a long time.

Devoting so much time to these projects, however, left me behind in many other areas of my life. I had to shift my energy, time and attention to the projects that had big deadlines. As a result, many routine chores and a few really important tasks got pushed to the side.

I even missed a day of writing (blogging) this week, and today... I'm late getting my article written!

This happens to all of us in life. We only have so much time and energy to spend each day. When we have to rise to a challenge that will take extra time and energy, we need to make allowances and cut ourselves some slack in other areas.

This is still hard for me. I like to stay on top of everything... all the time!

This week I'm playing catch up, and trying to just 'enjoy the process.' Many of the tasks I set aside in the past few weeks are things I actually enjoy doing. Rather than succumbing to the sensations of overwhelm that are knocking at the door, I'm going to relax into my 'catch up time' and let it be fun and satisfying!

Each time I start to feel an internal pressure or panic, I focus on whatever I'm doing at that moment and say, "This is exactly what I'm supposed to be doing RIGHT NOW. This is my job in this moment. I'm in the right place, doing what I'm supposed to be doing." It works wonders!

Do you set really high expectations for yourself about what you can get done in a day? Are they sometimes impossible?

Ease up on yourself. Cut yourself some slack. Enjoy whatever you are doing in each moment. You will eventually get finished with all that is essential!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feeling the Support

I had such a great weekend. I spoke at a church in Oregon this past weekend. I'll write more about that later this week.

It was a great experience over all, but there is one aspect of it that was particularly great. I had 15 friends and family come to support me and listen to me speak.

I actually felt pretty overwhelmed (in a good way) to have them all there.

One of my cousins mentioned that he's never forgotten that I came to his college graduation.

This is what family and friendship is all about. Being there for each other during all sorts of experiences. Supporting each other. Celebrating together. Enjoying each other's company.

It's a gift to have people around you who love and care about you. I think it's important to receive that love and support and return it as fully as possible!

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Day Well Spent

At the end of a long day, where I've done my very best, it is a gift to lay my head down on the pillow and allow myself to rest.

I endeavor to make every day one that I can feel good about having lived. It's a great goal.

I honestly don't believe there is anything better than going to bed at night feeling I've done the best I could to make the most of the time I was given for that day.

How do you feel when you go to bed at night? If you are anything less than content and satisfied, it might be time to retool your approach to your days.

Try doing a day review at the end of each day to reflect on what you have done and accomplished. Think also of what you gave and received. Of course remember the moments you spent with friends and loved one, and the sweetness of those connections.

If your day reviews don't feel satisfying to you, then set about making some changes.

Life is short. The journey is sometimes difficult. One gift we can give to ourselves is the feeling of satisfaction in the living of each of our days.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Let Go... NOW!

Something amazing happened over the past few days.

This past weekend, I was sitting here typing away looking out at the Katsura tree next to my back deck. It was covered with bright yellow leaves. Some of the leaves had turned brown around the edges. Not a single leaf had dropped from the tree yet.

Today I noticed something different about my working spot. There was noticeably more light. I glanced out the window and noticed that the tree outside had dropped ALL it's leaves. I mean, every single leaf!

In 3 days, the tree had dropped all it had. Now that's what I call letting go!

There is a cherry tree fairly near to this Katsura tree in my yard, and it has yet to drop a single leaf. In fact, the leaves haven't even turned colors yet. All the leaves on the tree are still deep, dark green.

I was astonished at the contrast. One tree, turned all it's leaves yellow, then slightly brown and dropped them instantly! The other tree is still all green. It's no where near ready to drop it's leaves.

I got to thinking about the ways that we let go... and the ways that we hold on. Sometimes, some people are able to recognize a moment where they need to let go and they just DO IT! Others need more time to let go. It's a slower, more deliberate process.

I envy the tree that just said, "OH... it's time. Let it GO!" and did so. I want to be more like that tree.

Sometimes it takes longer, and that too, is a lesson. We need to allow what it take to let go of the things in our life that need to be released.

It doesn't hurt to encourage ourselves to let go when necessary... but all trees are different. Some will let go fast and some will take their time.

Attempting to let go easily and quickly is a wonderful goal, but honoring the natural time line we each have is also important.

Letting go is the important thing. How and when isn't nearly as important!


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Disorienting Fogs of Life

A funny thing happened to me on the way home from my Arabic class last night. It was very dark and seriously foggy. As I traveled this road, the same one I've driven a thousand times, I suddenly realized I had driven several miles past the turn off to my house. I couldn't believe it!

As I turned around and headed by towards the turn I had missed, I paid extra attention to what I was doing. The fog made it difficult to recognize normal cues and landmarks I use for navigation.

It made me remember the days following my father's death. The way I tried to describe that experience to people is to say that I felt as though I were moving through a dense fog. I was disoriented and a bit numb.

Some experiences in life leave us feeling this way. We feel knocked off balance, disoriented and unable to navigate our usual pathways with our usual efficiency.

When 'fog sets in' we need to give ourselves some extra support and take a little extra time to plan our next move and take the next step. We can't expect to drive as fast as we usually do. It's dangerous and we are likely to miss turns and get even more disoriented and lost.

Fog comes into every life. Fog happens. We must adapt and adjust to those times in life when we are knocked off our normal game by unexpected and difficult circumstances.

When fog hits, slow down, take a deep breath and allow yourself the extra time and support you need to get where you need to go.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Cleansing Rain Storm

This summer, I had some concrete resealing done around my house. I have a couple patios, and some walkways that had never been cleaned and resealed since they were put in 10 years ago.

My entry walkway is pressed concrete, that is made to look like dark gray slate. When it is sealed it is shiny and gorgeous!

After all the work was done, I was really enjoying the look of the freshly sealed pressed concrete in front of my house.

Something interesting happened right after this work was finished.

Every couple days, it seemed like I, or one of the people who works around my house, needed to do some activity that required walking all over that front walkway with muddy shoes!

I am not a super neat freak or anything, but I didn't want my newly sealed, shiny walkway covered with muddy footprints. So, each time it got dirty, I would bring out the hose and wash off the walkway.

It was amazing to me, however, how frequently they were getting dirty! I'd never had this experience before!

The last time the walkway got dirty was when my sprinkler service company came to winterize my sprinklers. They had to walk all over the yard and in doing so, they traversed my clean walkway several times. Of course they left dirty, grimy footprints all over it!


I was planning on hauling out the hose to clean it up... again, but the weather turned very cold. It had been raining some, but it didn't seem to be taking care of the muddy footprints. I just couldn't seem to get myself to go out in the cold weather and spray off this walkway.

Then it happened.

A rain storm, the likes of which I haven't seen in a long, long time descended on my area. I mean it was CRAZY rain. The rain fell hard and furious. It was actually a little scary at times.

But guess what?

The walkway in front of my house is completely clean! All the muddy footprints were completely washed way! The rain storm took care of it for me.

It was a great reminder to me that the storms of life are sometimes useful to us. Sometimes that pounding rain can cleanse something from our lives that has been a source of struggle or pain. Life storms can sometimes pull forth from us skills and inner strength we didn't even know we had. Other times, the storms in life can alter our course and send us off in a new direction.

This particular storm was 'cleansing.' It washed away some stuff I didn't want or need anymore. I've had 'life storms' that have done the same thing, although it isn't always obvious DURING the storm. We often can't see the benefit until after the storm has passed, the skies have cleared and the pavement has dried.

Look for the blessing and the gift in the storms of life. There usually is one lurking there, if we have the patience and the willingness to see it.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A Reduced Inflow

When something happens to us repeatedly in life, it's worth taking a look at what it might be trying to tell us.

I woke up the other day to about 1/2 the normal amount of water pressure throughout my house. It was a sudden and unmanageable change. This was an inadequate amount of water pressure to do the normal activities I need to do. You know, like take a SHOWER!

After a bit of investigation, the water company representative discovered that I have a failing "PRV" (Pressure Reducing Valve) between the pipe on the street, and the pipe that carries water to my house. It is severely restricting the flow and causing the water pressure to be far too low.

The really interesting thing is that I had this same problem at my previous house. In that situation, the water pressure was low from the day I moved in. I struggled to work around that problem. I bought a 'water pressure boosting' system for the house, and I installed many, many sprinkler zones in the irrigation system so that the low pressure was enough to power just a few heads in each zone.

I'm embarrassed to say that I limped along with that inadequate pressure for 10 years! It was only when I was selling the house, and had it inspected that I attempted to resolve the problem. The inspector noted it as a problem that needed to be fixed, and so I finally started looking into it.

I had no idea what a PRV was at that point in time. It was a long process of trying to figure out the problem, and finally when the utility company came out, identified the problem and replaced the PRV, a 10 year long struggle came to a close. When I ran my sprinkler system for the first time after the 'fix' I actually cried. I couldn't believe how much better everything worked with adequate water pressure.

This is the second time in my life where I've experienced this problem. Metaphorically, it is an interesting issue to contemplate.

The situations were both caused by a 'disruption' to the flow or supply of an essential resource. It was like I had a kink in the supply hose for something I really needed. The fix was easy in both cases, replace the PRV and 'unkink' the hose, but it wasn't so obvious at the onset.

It got me thinking, however, about the various ways that I might be experiencing a 'disruption' in the flow of other essential resources in my life. I started to ponder if I was taking good care of myself, and giving myself everything I need to live my life at 'full force?' Am I feeling depleted in any way? Am I expecting myself to deal with the demands on myself without giving myself proper rest, nutrition, play time or emotional support?

I realized that the 'message' could very well be that I needed to take a look at how hard I was pushing myself lately, and whether I was giving myself all that I needed to meet these increased demands on my time and energy level. There were definitely some areas that needed attention. Especially in the areas of down time/relaxation and emotional support. I have 'unkinked' the hose now, and I'm feeling and functioning much better!

While the 'onset' of this recent PRV problem was quite sudden, and made it impossible to ignore, I do feel a bit of satisfaction in the fact that I resolved it in a day. I didn't limp along with the problem, feeling confused and powerless, for an insane period of time... like 10 years!!

I'm also pleased that I immediately 'unkinked' not only the PRV, but my own supply of the self care activities that I need to keep my life flowing and feeling good!

Got any 'kinked' supply hoses in your life? Are you setting realistic expectations for yourself? Are you giving yourself all that you need to meet the demands of your life?

Look for those kinks, and open the supply!

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Joy of Being Prepared

I'm currently taking an Arabic class. I've dabbled with learning Arabic before. It is not an easy language for an English speaker to learn!

I'm taking a community college class, so there are no grades and no real requirements to participate fully.

I've taken this class before. Always, in the past, I was really busy, over committed and traveling a lot. This time, when I signed up, I decided to take it really seriously and make it a priority.

This past week, I studied an hour every day. I did writing, speaking and listening drills. I felt like I did everything I could do to be prepared.

When I went to class this week, it was GREAT! I felt completely ready. I was well prepared. I could do all the exercises in class. I was so well grounded in the previous weeks' work that I was able to easily absorb the new material we went over. It felt good.

Not everyone in the class fared so well. I was one of the only people that responded to a lot of the teacher's questions and prompts.

I left feeling satisfied.

On my way out the door, I heard one student saying to another, "Mental note to self: DO NOT COME TO CLASS UNPREPARED... EVER AGAIN!"

In that moment, I felt empathy for her experience. I haven't been in that place often in my life, but I certainly have been there.

She was having the 'flip side' experience from what I was having. I had been well prepared and it felt great. She had been ill prepared and it felt overwhelming and unpleasant.

Putting in the energy and time required by an endeavor is a very satisfying experience. Trying to take short cuts really doesn't serve us well. It might bring short term gain, but we pay a heavy price for it in the end.

Here's to being prepared! Put in the time and energy you need to put in! You'll be glad you did!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

It's Different Now

I just took what is likely to be the last hike of my hiking season. Our weather is changing.

Summer is most definitely behind us here in Seattle. That was made abundantly clear to me on this last hike.

That morning, when I set out, I knew that it was going to be cooler than my last several hikes. Summer is over. The change is coming!

I had a long sleeved t-shirt on, instead of my customary sleeveless shirt. I put on my ear covers and gloves. As I started up the hill, I was a little chilly, but soon I was warmed up by the climb and I was OK.

I did notice that my nose was really cold. That was the only difference until I got close to the top.

The wind was whipping! It was freezing cold at the summit! I simply couldn't stay up there. It was too darn cold!

On the way down, without the exertion of the climb to keep me warm, I got very chilled. Finally, I stopped and I put on my jacket. I was much better then. I still could have used a hat. It was still a chilly walk down the mountain.

The last time I did this hike, I was completely sweaty by the time I got to the top. There was no 'getting cold' involved in the experience.

The environment has changed. The experience is different. If I want to hike in this condition and be comfortable, I need different supplies than before. That is called CHANGE.

Sometimes our outer circumstances change. Sometimes it's expected. Other times it's not. Still, we have to deal with whatever comes.

If I had resisted the 'change' I encountered, the entire experience would have been extremely uncomfortable. By adding a different shirt, ear covers, gloves, and a jacket, I was able to meet the demands of the new environment, and still enjoy the hike.

Resist not. When change comes your way, you have two choices. Make it tough on yourself and resist or accept the new situation and adapt. The choice is always ours!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Being Taught Patience by "THEM"

I was on my way to hike a few mornings ago, when something happened to me that I always dread.

Soon after I pulled out on the highway, I came to a stop light. There, in front of me, was some sort of landscaping truck.

I sighed.

They would not be driving the speed I normally like to drive. I was virtually certain of it.

That, of course, proved true.

They accelerated slowly from every stop. They drove just under the speed limit. There were no opportunities to pass them.

At each 'logical' place where a landscape truck might need to travel, I kept hoping they would turn off. They didn't.

We went through a little town, they didn't turn off. We passed through a second town. Nope, they were still with me. By the time we went through the third little town, I was amazed. This 'route' from near my home to where we were at that moment didn't seem like a route that made sense for these guys to be traveling.

They were still in front of me as I neared the turn off to the road that would take me to the trail head for my hike. THEY PUT THEIR BLINKER ON!

I seriously couldn't believe it. They were turning down this little country road that leads to the trail I hike! What are the odds!

It gets better!

The truck pulled over right across the road from the trail head where I parked my car.

As I put on my hiking boots, I noticed that the truck turned around and drove back the way we had come! They didn't even need to be there!

I was stunned. Then I started laughing.

I have a real 'problem' with impatience. I am sort of addicted to efficiency. I like for things to run smoothly and quickly. I don't 'wait' well.

It was as though that truck was put on the road that morning... JUST FOR ME! Who knows where those guys were supposed to go? For that 30 minutes (which normally would have taken me 20), they were my 'pilot car' to slow me down and give me an opportunity to practice patience!

Sometimes life puts things in our path that are meant to teach us something about ourselves or give us a chance to 'deal with' something that causes us difficulty in our lives. It never ceases to amaze me how my 'lessons' show up and are presented to me!

This particular day, it was in the form of a slow moving truck of lost landscapers... in my way!

Whoever or whatever is "in your way" today, give it a second look. There is almost certainly a lesson or message in it for you!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lessons in Vanity

Ever had a cold sore? Don't you just love those? They come on with lightening speed, and stay for what seems like an eternity. When they appear on your face near your lips they are pretty obvious to any one who looks at you. They can't be hidden. They hurt. They have a definite life cycle. Once one starts, there isn't a whole lot you can do but just go through the process.

Guess who's got a cold sore?

I hadn't had one for about a year and a half. I always get this one in the same spot. It's never any fun, and this time is no exception.

Each time I go through this, I am always a little disappointed in how self conscious I become. I don't like to go out as much. I don't like to get too close to people. I don't want anyone looking at my face.

Whenever I'm going through this, I suddenly am filled with admiration and respect for people who have visible problems with their bodies and yet live fully and without apology! It takes a strong sense of self to embrace and accept yourself even when something about your appearance might attract unwanted or uncomfortable attention.

To be 'affected' by something as small as a cold sore makes me stand in awe of people who have much larger challenges and who bravely and courageously embrace and live their life - no matter what.

In some ways, I'm grateful for this cold sore, because it helps me remember who and what I am... and am not. I am not my appearance. My body is one part of my expression, but it certainly isn't the entirety of me. I am still the same person - with or without the cold sore. I'm no less valuable. I'm no less me. It doesn't define me or change anything about my essential nature. If someone doesn't like me or want to be around me because of a cold sore, who has the problem?

Learning to walk confidently into the world - even with a visible 'affliction' is good practice for me. It helps me to practice detachment form my appearance as a measure of my worth. I can always use these sorts of lessons - even if I don't enjoy them.

Next time something comes into your life that you feel embarrassed to have others see, whether it's a breakup or divorce, losing a job, a financial problem, health challenge or whatever it is - use it as an opportunity to detach your identify from that part of your life expression. Who you are is much deeper and transcends all that outer 'stuff.' When something happens to our bodies or in our lives that causes us to feel 'less than' somehow, it is a perfect opportunity to practice knowing who we really are at our core. All the rest is surface stuff and doesn't mean anything about who we really are.

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Always Comes Back Around

I love it when I get clear, concrete examples of spiritual principle in action. It is so reassuring when that sort of confirmation breezes into my life.

I've been enjoying a 'scratch ticket' sweepstakes that has been going on at a restaurant I frequent. They give me a ticket every time I go in to eat, and every ticket is a winner. Some of the prizes are quite small, and others are really great!

I've received a free $18 entree coupon - Cashew Crusted Halibut... here I come! I've also won several free lunches, and a lot of cupcakes! It's really been fun.

A couple weeks ago I won a coupon good for "10% off your total bill." These coupons can't be combined with any other discounts, and I already get 15% off my total bill as a member of a particular club, so the 10% coupon isn't really a winner for me.

They have these restaurants in another state (where the 15% discount isn't available to me) and I recently ate at one of the restaurants in that state with some friends. I didn't realize they were doing the sweepstakes there, so I didn't use my 10% off coupon. I'd already paid the bill, with no discount, when I realized I could have used that coupon!

I love free things, so I was a little disappointed. My friends live close to this restaurant and said they would eat at this place again, so I gave them my 10% coupon. Since I get my 15% at home, I didn't need it. I was happy that they would make use of it. They were pleased. I was pleased. It was a win-win situation.

After I left the restaurant, I remembered that I would be coming back to this same restaurant in 3 weeks - with a big group of family members! I was really bummed when I realized that I could have used that 10% coupon after all. The savings would be substantial for a group that large! I'm embarrassed to say that I briefly thought about asking my friend for the coupon back. Thankfully, I stopped myself!! She had been excited to get it and it would have been really lame to have asked for it back!

A couple days later, at my 'regular' restaurant in my home state, I scratched another ticket and guess what I won? I bet you guessed! "10% off your total bill!" My coupon was restored to me! I didn't 'lose' anything by giving my friend that coupon!

It was a powerful reminder that when we give - we never lose anything! We always receive something when we give. It's a universal law. It's important to realize that, even when it feels like we're 'losing' something as we give it away. We are putting it into circulation. What we give always come back to us in some form or fashion. Often it isn't in the exact same form as what we gave - but we always receive something when we participate in the law of circulation.

The law of circulation is an absolute law of the universe. In fact, if you are in need of something - give something away and see what happens!

Happy giving!

Friday, October 09, 2009

Sore Muscles

It doesn't take much to move us out of our comfort zone and into 'new territory.'

I'm sitting here this morning with a very sore back. I went to the physical therapist yesterday and we spent 30 minutes doing core activation exercises to strengthen my low back and abdominal muscles.

Thirty short minutes, and a lot of 'rest' periods built in, but still, today - I'm SUPER SORE in that whole region.

When we have an area of weakness, it doesn't take much activity to stretch us and make us uncomfortable.

It doesn't feel good, and yet it is a sign that these muscles are working in a way that they haven't for a long time. It's a good sign. A sign of progress and growth. Growth and improvement doesn't come for free. We usually have to experience some 'growing pains' and discomfort in order to reap the rewards of increased strength or proficiency!

As I sit with my 'sore muscles' today... I remember that it is serving an important 'higher goal.' Increased strength in this region will lead to greater stability in my spine. That means less pain and greater possibilities for the activities that I can perform and enjoy.

A little discomfort on the path is part of the journey to greater strength and increased functionality! I can handle that!

Have you got 'growing pains' in any areas of your life? Are you in a place of discomfort 'on your way' to something bigger and better? Just remember that it is a 'sign' of progress and keep on keeping on!

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Internal Gratitude Revolution

I believe in the power of gratitude. I think most of us go through our days focusing on what's wrong rather than what's right. We complain about what we don't have instead of being grateful for what we DO have.

I think our lives could change radically if we just flipped this around.

What if we focused on what was right more than what was wrong?

What if we gave thanks for EVERYTHING that we appreciate (and often take for granted) throughout each day?

I challenge you to try to do this practice - even for an hour straight: Give thanks for EVERYTHING that you use, eat, drink, experience (and enjoy) during that time.

I tried it this morning and it was amazing how I felt as I did it. Here's what my first few minutes went like as I did the practice as I came home from a hike.

"I'm so grateful for my healthy body that allowed me to take and enjoy that 5 mile hike. Thank you (God/Universe) for the car that allowed me to get there and back. I appreciate that I could afford the gas to drive to and from that hike. I'm so grateful that my schedule allowed me to enjoy this fall day by hiking outside. Thank you for the hot water, shampoo and soap that I'm getting to use for my shower. I appreciate that I live in a place with clean water and enough of it to allow me to use it for showering. I am grateful for a clean dry towel to use to dry myself with. I appreciate that I have clothes to wear."

Get the idea???

As I made all these declarations of gratitude, I also thought about the fact that many people do not have access to all these things that I'm fortunate enough to have. Many people don't have clean water. Some don't have hot water or enough water to bath in. Not everyone enjoys good health. Some people don't have cars or can't afford gas.

After just a short time of this practice my mood improved a great deal. I was feeling really lucky! I also was pulled very much into the present moment - also a good thing!

Give this a try. You don't have to be grateful for anything that doesn't positively contribute to your life, but I think you'll be amazed at just how many things DO enhance your experience of life!!

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Being "Normal"

To be perfectly honest, I have always considered myself an 'odd' person. There are many things about me that I don't think are 'normal.' I think differently than most people I know. I like very different things from most normal people. Many things that most people tend to like don't do a thing for me.

This used to really both me. I used to feel that I was some sort of 'mutant.' I still, at times, feel a bit like an alien!

I'm coming to understand, however, that each of us is unique in a variety of ways. It's not just me. The truth is... this is a GOOD, GOOD thing!

The world is far more interesting when it is filled with diversity. Life would be incredibly boring if all people looked, though, acted, and spoke the same way.

Still, sometimes I think that we all 'yearn' to be 'normal.' Sometimes it would feel good to be like every body else.

As teenagers, fitting in and being 'like' our peers is all important. It's a part of the growing up process. We yearn to belong AND we are so unsure of who we are that it is safer to 'go with the crowd' and be like everyone else.

As we mature, however, I think one of the gifts available to us it to come to see ourselves as unique and special, rather than finding our characteristics to be 'odd' or 'wierd' or 'strange' in some sort of undesirable, negative fashion.

I have, at times, beocme deetermined to 'be normal.' This usually ends in some sort of disaster. I try to be like people I like and admire - but when I'm in the 'normalcy seeking mode' that motivation is coming from an urge to fit in and be accepted by others. It isn't coming from a good place.

I have a button I was given a long time ago that says, "Normal is a setting on a washing machine!" I love this! Normal is overrated and isn't meant to apply to the incredibly diverse tapestry that is humankind!!

A minister I like, JOyce Meyer, tells a story of how she went through a phase where she didn't feel like a 'normal woman.' Because she spends so much time studying and preparing lessons and talks, she doesn't have a lot of time for more domestic types of activities. She doesn't really enjoy a lot of those activities either! Still, she started to feel very different from all her friends, and longed to just be 'like everybody else.' Her very funny story is about how she decided to plant and grow her own tomatoes one summer. She and her neighbor planted their tomatoes at the same time, on each side of the fence that separated their yards. They had the same soil, used the same seeds, watered the same way and fertilized with the same things at the same time. The other woman's tomatoes grew strong and gorgeous. She harvested a bountiful crop. Joyce's tomatoes on the other hand, did not do so well. They got some sort of disease. They had bugs all over them. In short... it was a disaster! She complained to God about this one day and heard a firm answer. "I did not ask you to grow tomatoes!"

the other woman grew tomatoes because she loved doing it. It was one of her tasks in life that she felt called to do and she did it well. Not everyone can grow tomatoes!

Joyce, on the other hand, is called to speak and teach. Not everyone can do that either. Joyce is called (and is annointed, as she puts it) to teach spiritual principles out of the Bible, and it is fun and easy for her!

We aren't all given the same gifts or the same purposes in our lives! We need to appreciate other people's talents and abilities, AND embrace our own as well.

There are many things about you that are unique and wonderful. There is no one else exactly like you! If you compare yourselves to others and try to squeeze yourself into their image - you will be miserable, and you will probably not get very far.

We are meant to be ourselves! There is NO NORMAL!

Go be the very best YOU that you can be and embrace those things about you that make you one of a kind!

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Mean What You Say

You will rarely find me driving without an iced tea at my side. I love iced tea, and when I'm driving, it is the perfect refreshing accompaniment.

I was on a long distance drive last month which found me out in the middle of nowhere. What this means to a hard core iced tea drinker like me is NO BATHROOMS are available! :)

I got caught in some back country 'road construction' and sat at a total standstill for 15 minutes. That 15 minutes was critical in the 'schedule' I had worked out for the drive and needed 'bio breaks.'

The route I was driving is not one that I'm super familiar with. As my bladder neared 'panic' mode I tried to remember if I had any 'opportunities' before I arrived at my destination, which was still 30 miles away.

Thankfully, a fast food restaurant appeared and I was able to get some... relief!

When I got back in the car, feeling SO MUCH BETTER, I said out loud, "I don't care how long it takes me to get there now. I'm fine!"

Famous last words.

As I drove through the countryside, it appeared in front of me. A huge piece of farm equipment on the highway, driving in front of me, in the same direction that I was heading! In a 55 MPH zone, he was clipping along at about 20 MPH.

"Surely he can't be going very far," I thought to myself. We continued another mile or so.

I started to get impatient, and wondered why none of the people between me and the machine didn't pass him. I started fidgeting. Then I got more impatient. It progressed to irritation. Then it happened.

My words came echoing back to me in my head, "I don't care how long it takes me to get there now. I'm fine!"

I actually laughed out loud as I remembered what I had said 10 minutes earlier. I had already forgotten that I was filled with patience once I felt the relief of my bio break!

Why did I say that, if I didn't mean it?? Why did I so casually toss that out and then almost instantly act in a completely contrary way?

I think it was a test for me about the way I back up what I say! I didn't do very well!!

Our words and our promised are very important. I think we need to be really careful about saying things and then not following through on them. We learn to not trust ourselves when we do that.

As for me that fateful day, as I chuckled about my situation, I repeated the words again and relaxed into the 20 MPH crawl. I admired the beautiful farmland around me. As soon as I 'surrendered' guess what happened? The giant piece of farm machinery turned off the highway, and within seconds we were all cruising at 55 MPH again!

Pay attention to the words you speak - whether to other people, or to yourself. Make sure you are mindful of what you say, that you intend to DO what you say, and then follow through! Our words are powerful. Living up to them creates a life worth living!

Monday, October 05, 2009

Rejection as Protection

I heard a minister say recently that sometimes "Rejection is God's protection."

This idea really struck me at a deep level.

Who among us has not experienced rejection in our lives? Whether in a romantic context, a friendship, not being chosen for a team or club, not getting a job we wanted - it happens to all of us many times through the course of our life's journey.

What if this is really true? What if maybe we are being protected from something that is actually not the best for us?

Perhaps the person you wanted to have as your partner would have actually treated you badly? What if the job would have sucked the very life out of you? What if making the cheer leading squad way back when might have caused you to develop unhealthy eating habits? Maybe if you'd been 'chosen' for the club you wouldn't have learned how to handle disappointment in a gracious and positive way.

I think this is concept really worth exploring. Perhaps there is a higher wisdom at work in life when 'things don't work out' the way we want them to.

Perhaps we are being protected from our own ideas when we don't get something we think we want.

Looking back on my life, I can certainly see many times where I didn't get what I wanted and later could see that everything had truly unfolded to my highest good.

Sometimes we get to 'see' that and other times we don't.

Maybe part of the journey is learning to trust that if we don't get something, it is for a good reason. Just like a parent doesn't give in to every desire a child has - perhaps we are given what we truly need in life and not just what we want.

Next time you experience some sort of rejection, keep this in mind. Maybe you are being protected - even though it hurts in the moment. Maybe it is, in fact, a blessing!

Friday, October 02, 2009

It Doesn't Take Much to Make a Difference

When I was a little girl, I spent a lot of time visiting my grandparents' farm. They grew everyting on the farm - all sorts of fruit and vegetables.

My Grandfather did something very special for me every year. He would pick the largest apple from his crop and save it for me. He had an apple polishing machine and would put my apple through the machine over and over and over again to make it unbelievably shiny!

I was always so tickled by this! It was a very simple act, and yet 40 years later, I still remember it with a warm feeling in my heart.

This didn't take him long to do, but it was a sweet way for him to show me that I was special to him. I never 'lost' that message. It has stayed with me my entire life.

It is easy to do little things that show other people we care about them and that they matter to us. Sometimes we let life get so busy we forget to do those little things. We might also convince ourselves that we need to do something 'big' in order for it to matter - and then do nothing because we don't have the time or resources to do something 'significant.'

I encourage us all to look for little things we can do to let those we care about KNOW that they matter to us and that we are thinking of them. It can make a huge difference in someone's day... or even their life.

Here's a picture of my Grandma and Grandpa Drazdoff in 1970.

Here's a picture of my Grandpa's apple polishing machine. It's old and no longer used, but when I saw it on a recent visit to the farm, my heart was flooded with memories of my Grandpa.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

I Want His Spunk!

For the past 13 years, I have been visiting an elderly lady in a retirement home. I started visiting two women, but one passed away at 102 years old a few years ago!

How I came to do this is a story in and of itself. I'll save that for another day.

In my years of visiting, I've received an enormous blessing from the women I have visited. Spending time with people who have lived long and full lives is fascinating. I lost all of my grandparents when I was young, so visiting the retirement home 'supplemented' my life in a major way. I get a regular infusion of 'wisdom' from these folks.

A few weeks ago, as I was walking out of the retirement home, after a visit with my friend, I overheard a conversation between two residents in the TV room.

An elderly man was sitting and chatting with an elderly woman. I assumed they were husband and wife.

As I walked by, I heard the man say, "Well, anytime you want help throwing away some of your clothes - just let me know! I'll be glad to help!"

There was a slight pause, and then he added, "Just as long as you have them on at the time!"

The elderly lady giggled and said, "You are sooooo funny!"

I'm guessing they were in their 80's! I got outside the door and started laughing out loud.

It was a sweet little flirtatious exchange that I witnessed. The fact that it occurred between two folks in their 80s tickled me. They are still full of life and sharing that with the world. It impressed the heck out of me!

Those folks have a lot of their lives behind them. They all have various aches and pains that come with aging. They no longer live in their own homes, or have as much control, as they once did, over their own lives. Yet... they are full of pluck and zest for life. I love it!

May we all embrace that level of fun and enthusiasm for our days!!