For Me

Today I am writing with my audience of one, myself. Yep, I’m writing for me. I have come a ways on my journey since writing some time ago. I have a bit more refined vision of my future (a vision of freedom and celebration of personal worth), and I have since January this year started my college education and returned to school. I am doing all my classes online, since this is the only realistic way for me to earn a degree with my current circumstances. Those circumstances being I have my 6 year old son in first grade and an awesome little girl due mid-summer! Yes my life is changing, and practically everywhere for the better.

So here I find myself, still burdened by the need I keep ignoring: to write. I still have my blog. I still have a bookshelf stocked to the max with literature on writing. I still love to write. I just haven’t been doing it. Which is one of the reasons I feel so disturbed. I have got back to the practice of doing my “morning pages” most days and am taking a class right now that has me assessing my goals and better articulating my vision for the near and distant future. This is what brings me to a difficult place to write. I don’t exactly know what to shoot for in the next year to 5 years. Sure, I can see myself 20 years down the road, doing amazing things. But I have no idea how to get from here to there.

I’ll summarize some obvious pictures that come to my mind:

  • Working with a team or campaign to stop human trafficking, primarily by spreading awareness and communicating the worth of individuals and the reality of the crisis.
  • Working creatively in my own personal space with my journals, drawing, and mixed media.
  • Using writing and my blog as an outlet to encourage others and share what I find beautiful in life.
  • Reach out and connect in more meaningful ways with the people all around me. (Stop being so afraid!)
  • Work from home somehow to be here with my kids.
  • Serve in different capacities at my church, grow in leadership.
  • Keep reassessing my goals and vision to move forward and adjust as I need to.

Sooooo, that’s about it so far. I can’t tell you how many books I’ve read on discovering your life’s work, podcasts I’ve listened to from personal testimonies, and personality and strengths tests I’ve taken over the years. I know I’ll have to keep writing, exploring, and investigating my opportunities, but I think what I really need to do now is act. Work. Write. Even if it seems meaningless or fruitless right now. I just need to keep doing. I have faith I’ll find my way. I’ve already experienced this so much in my life. But now more than ever, I need to discipline myself to create and practice privately and openly so I can be ready when my next “why” hits me in the head. To sum it up, I need to be ready to receive what I am made to do.

 

Choose

This is difficult for me to return to writing.  I have never established a writing habit outside of journaling and so it has never felt natural to write this way. I know I have a lot of hidden treasures buried deep within me. I just never give myself a chance to unearth them and see what is possible. I am not a good writer. I don’t practice enough really develop the craft. But I have for too long, felt the need write, to see what there is for me to say. We all have a voice, and we all have a unique way of expressing and communicating to the world what we have to say. The special voice of every unique person fuels me to live authentically and encourage others to do the same. How amazing is each individual human on this planet?! Seriously! The concept is too much for me. I just know I’m here, in this time and this place, with these specific experiences and my own personality for a reason. You are too. You are amazing. I know this because you are You.

My journey has been a long and painful one, as is true for most people on this planet. Some pains are unthinkable and a crime against your soul. Some pains are simply from belonging to a broken world. Then some, we bring upon ourselves. Through it all we have something to share. We are all connected to this amazing web of the human experience where we have the greatest gift of all- Choice. Free will.

We have the choice to choose well. We can hurt someone or live passively or we can heal, love, and empower the friends along our path. For too long I lived passively. I let the actions, words, and ideas of others belittle and wound my own self worth. I began to believe the lie that I did not have a special place in this world and that great things were for other people, but not for me. I lost touch so much with my own inner voice that I forgot who I was altogether. Mixed in were depression, anxiety, and hopelessness. All because I believed a lie.

I’m here today to tell you I no longer choose the lie. Firstly, because I can identify it as exactly that- somebody at some point sent me the message that I was less, and I accepted it. I am now beginning to able to distinguish between all the mess of counterfeit whispers breezing past my ears and identify the word of truth.

Second, I do not choose the lie because it is the most tragic waste of the only life you have. I want you to know that. Believing anything but who you are created to be is just damaging and keeping you from your best life. Lies are distractions and believing them is simply not worth  your precious time!

Now that I’ve started to live intentionally and begin taking baby steps to choose better, I have a new hope and energy that burns from the inside. Now when external garbage comes flying my way, I have just enough courage to stand firm and let it fly on by. Negative thinking and harmful influences are not winning anymore. (At least not as much.) Because I CHOOSE.

You can too. It takes time and patience. Change is a process and its uncomfortable. But one decision at a time, one small victory after the last, you will experience the life that is inside you and is screaming to get out. Our journeys are all very different from each other and that makes them perfect and beautiful. Life is the  most amazing adventure, if you’ll truly live. It is scary. Sometimes paralyzingly so, but you can grow in the fear and be so much stronger than you ever knew possible. You already ARE so much stronger than you realize. And you’re not alone.

Stop comparing yourself and your experience with other people. You are never going to look like someone else. Comparison is just a self-defeating distraction that never does anybody any good. Start appreciating who you are. You are incredible! Even if you don’t realize it yet, you are overflowing with insane potential and a unique gift only you can offer this world! But please, just start small. Just choose better on one thing today. And then choose again tomorrow. That is exactly what I am doing by writing this blog post. Before I was so overwhelmed by what I wasn’t doing right, how I wasn’t good enough, that I let myself become paralyzed into never choosing anything. I am not doing that anymore. Today I choose something far better. I choose to honor who I am and move forward. I’m looking forward not behind. I know I will fall many times and have regrets along the way, but that is far better than never choosing at all. As I grow little by little, I hope I will remember this. And share the journey with people doing the same.

A New Start And Life Book 2016

I have put plenty of thought into how I can possibly move toward becoming great at something that I love. Unfortunately for me, this has meant starting from the place that I don’t know the first thing I would be good at. I have journaled, prayed, obsessed, dreamed, explored going back to school, and I still found myself uncertain. I think the reason why finally became clear to me. The single thing nagging at my soul is to create art. To draw. And even more terrifying, to play with color. So for Christmas this past year I decided to be brave and commit. I asked my awesome husband to gift me a year long subscription to an art class taught by  an amazing inspiration to me, Tamara Laporte. Throughout this class I will be thrown into the magic of working with endless mixed media and painting. Things of which I know nothing about.

 

I have already received the first couple lessons (they are released once a week) and have found it to be a frustrating challenge from the get go. This doesn’t at all surprise me, but I just have to do this. I have to practice at sucking for as long as it takes to get good. Then I have to become excellent. I just have to. It is my must.

I have already discovered the lack of tools I have to do much of the work, but the limitations force me to stretch my creativity to uncomfortable levels. Which, obviously is what I need most. I have also recognized a deep need to practice figure drawing, and get those proportions down pat. Needless to say, I have a loooooong way to go. And that’s OK.

A first attempt to create again…

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My 100: Week 2

Week 2 recap.

All this is banished forever:

1. an old calendar I was hanging on to for it’s photos
2. A glass jar
3. A mostly used candle
4. A toe separator for nail polish
5. A travel curling iron
6. A misshapen bra
7. Some scratched cd’s

This week I found a lot of items that were somewhat functional and somewhat broken. Considering that I barely used any of them, I found that it’s pointless to keep things for the sudden chance I may use them. Also for the record, I have never separated my toes when painting my toe nails. I wonder if anyone actually ever gets real benefit from  physically forcing your toes apart.

I hardly ever curl my hair period. Did I really think I would put forth the extra effort while out of town?? I do believe I am beginning to know myself within the context of how I actually live my live and not how I envision living it.

Mornings Are Good For…

Solitude. And coffee side wondering at what today might actually be.

I’ve become somewhat ritualistic these last couple months. Getting up an hour or two before my four year old son comes trampling down the hallway like a hoard of elephants has become my special time. It pretty much goes:

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Still goin’ strong with my Christmas mug.

Stumble over to my coffee maker and get a cup brewin’. Grab my phone to get my morning scripture. Pull out my journal to write for at least thirty minutes. Get totally lost in my writing and realize an hour and a half got brutally cut off by the storming elephant that is my son.

My day just had the best start. I feel gratitude. I feel alive. I have my eyes and ears open to the world in a way I would not have been capable of if I’d gone straight from stumbling out of bed to making breakfast. And for that, I feel even more grateful.

It amazes me how such a simple routine has added so much richness and value to my days. I’ve always struggled being an early riser, but for some reason I don’t know, I was ready for the change and have kept my mornings going for over two months solid.

I’ve learned the importance to listening carefully to your inner whispers and being ready to adapt and change at moment’s time. I imagine there are certain ways you’ve tweaked your life to get more out of your day or a certain season of life. How have you most grown from simple changes? Routines or rituals? I’d love to hear what you have going on.

Staring At The Inside

inspect

I  think I have an eye to see the beauty in people. I say this because I will often find myself staring at one particular detail of a person. I find people’s unique traits captivate me. It happens with strangers, old friends, and everyone in between. It’s never intentional, at least not at first.

It’s like I’m a magnet that gravitates to the smallest details of people. I do this with other things too; drawings, paintings, beautiful views, handwriting. But it’s people that fascinate me most.

I don’t’ want to sound creepy or vain, (at least I don’t think I am) I just find I get so caught up in appreciating the visual of what makes people special.

And as I study and scrutinize (we’re talking moments here, going for not creepy) I am driven to find out why I feel this way. What makes this person’s twist in their hair especially intriguing over the other twisted strands I’ve come across this week? I know it sounds crazy.

What I’ve come to understand so far, is I am getting the chance to peer into the very exposed nature of the actual person I’m encountering. They are very honestly and vulnerably sharing a unique truth about themselves. Something they probably do not notice or appreciate themselves, but I do. And I find it to be a privilege to know the uniqueness of a person, new or familiar.

People are that way. Captivating, complicated, unpredictable, and raw. It’s when we try to hide, try to cover that up, that we loose some of our allure.

And it got me to thinking, how could I go on to put into words a description of the beauty that’s within? We generally speak about how it is your inner beauty that counts. Firm believer here. But how would I actually describe it in a person? I would have to sit down and observe. So I did.

A few days ago we had one of our warmest afternoons since the close of winter. It was one of those days that gives you a literal high. Sunny, gentle breeze, about sixty degrees, and everyone in the city hustling about.

With so much happiness and energy in the air, I knew I had to sit and write. After picking up my son from preschool, he begged me to go to the playground. I had already decided that was exactly what we were going to do.

I thought at first to observe some of the parents, but we’re at the playground, and it’s the  children that steal the show. Not one child seemed out of place. They were all playing tag in an effortless performance. It was awesome.

So I studied, I questioned, I laughed, and I wrote. This is what I discovered about the beauty of the human soul in children. I found every detail rings true for us grown ups too.

1. In the midst of whatever we are engaged in, we need to be heard.

The desire is so strong that I would often hear a child repeat himself (scream if needed) two, three, fifteen times, just to be sure he was heard and understood. Once he was, he was perfectly content to pick up right where he left off.

This need never goes away. When we are sure we are heard, we feel secure. Our level of trust, respect, and appreciation for those around us grows. We then want to share all the more so.

2. Here’s a big one; we want to be in control. This one made me laugh. I mean, when do we ever grow out of wanting to control our surroundings?

We enjoy life, the game, as long as it goes on played under the terms we silently set out. We want a say, at least to some degree, and we want to feel safe. This gives us some hope that we can be successful, that we actually have a chance to win this thing. While power and control can get out of hand, I find it to be a great opportunity to grow.

For instance, we learn what we actually can and can not change. We learn how to treat others while we exercise this control. If we succeed, while understanding the power we have to work with, we also learn to stand up for what we believe in and let go what we must. Yes, I learned this all at the playground.

3. Next, I observed we need the right environment to thrive. We need to move about, explore, wander. We are creators, makers, and we need to room for that kind of magic. The playground is the perfect setting to see kid’s imaginations go wild and the joy that comes along with it. But imagine the opposite. Imagine a child expressing and sharing his potential say, at the bank. Don’t hold your breath. While we can’t live in a play zone all day every day, the right environment is essential if we are going to have the opportunities we need to live out our potential. I believe we are all capable of so much more if we would just weave into our lives a more creative setting.

While we can’t live in a play zone all day every day, the right environment is essential if we are going to have the opportunities we need to live out our potential. I believe we are all capable of so much more if we would just weave into our lives a more creative setting.

4. Finally, from the characteristics I saw at work, I saw none as obvious as love.

I saw love as the prime energy driving these kids at play. True, each child had very individual needs and desires, but to me it was obvious love was at the root of their actions. The way the kids looked at each other with such high esteem, so much hope, they believed more in each other than they did in themselves.

It was natural, too. When I got to thinking, I realized love was and is the only sustainable motivation we can draw from to reach our potential.

I also learned that if we pay close attention, love is being manifested all day long and in so many ways. Yet, we miss is somehow. I didn’t think I would be sitting in front of a group of kids one afternoon, thinking how sad I don’t notice this more often. Seeing the beauty in our kids and in each other is a gift and hopefully we start seeing it in ourselves more, too. The gift is always there, we just need to take notice.

Really, love is where our potential is reached and our lives are lived out of satisfaction and passion. We are capable of giving the world so much more. We are capable of sharing our best gift; our true selves. When you do, believe me, people will do more than notice, they will study the beauty you uniquely hold.