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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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hard

Write A New Story

If you take the time to honestly look at your life, you’ll discover that most of the stories you could tell have a similar theme. They sound about the same. You could sit and talk about your different experiences and/or people and they’ll most likely have a familiar undertone attached. A lot of those stories are probably really good and have been incredibly life-giving and impactful and if that’s the case, carry on as you were. Teach others what you know.

But if those stories are centered around a cyclical struggle; ie money, health, relationships…it’s time to change your story. But here’s the thing, change is hard. We get get used to the stories we tell ourselves and others. We have a love/hate relationship with them. We become accustomed to their sound and before we know it, they’ve lulled us to sleep and we become tired and complacent and don’t do the hard work to create a new story for our lives.

Since we are creatures of habit, in order for change to take place, we need to shift the way we think which in turn, shifts the way we act and directs our decisions differently. Maybe we need to learn some new skills or maybe our brains are already filled with an arsenal of information that we are choosing not to use.

Why not?

For me, the root of most of my life theme’s has been a lack of establishing healthy boundaries, which goes back to seeing myself as a person of value, someone worthy enough of creating a healthy guideline for my life. Being honest with that root has been hard, but I’m trying to intentionally shift my thought process to create new habits, and in the end, a new story…one that is inspiring, meaningful and produces the life I know I’m meant to live.

So do yourself a favor today and sit down and have a honest conversation with yourself and then sit down and have that same conversation with someone in your life that you trust, a truth-teller that you KNOW loves you unconditionally and won’t feed you any shit. Ask them what they hear when your life tells it’s story and then go from there. It’s sobering but if you can swallow a bitter pill, it will do you good. I promise.

Tackle one theme at a time and go easy with yourself as you go. But stick with it. Your well-wishes will only go so far and talk is cheap. Only your consistent intentionality will create new habits which in turn, will write a new story for your life. It’s possible. I wouldn’t be encouraging you to pursue this type of undertaking if I wasn’t currently doing it myself.

It’s never ever too late to write a new story for your life and go in another direction. This is your year. I’m cheering you on.

 Upside Down

Rejection.

I think I’ve battled it since the womb and I’ve wondered if it’s the first thing people see when they looked at me. Has it been something I’ve hidden behind or has it been a shiny little pin I’ve worn on my lapel and I’ve used it as an excuse for the things I’ve done?

Probably both.

My parents dated in high school and my mother was a year older than my father which made him a Senior when she announced she was pregnant with me. He was honorable and gave her a little ring, which I store in a little wooden box in a chest in my room since their divorce, and I choose to believe they went in, full of hope, that a baby would save them.

But rejection was rooted deep in my family and everyone had their own baggage long before I was born. Unfortunately, as much as I love them both, their baggage became mine and sooner or later I had my own and before I knew it, everything was jumbled and it became very difficult to sort what was theirs, what was mine and what was ours.

I took it all.

Fast forward to my own marriage and here we are, all jumbled. Maybe we are normal. Maybe jumbling takes place in every marriage. Maybe every couple has their share of heart aches and breaks. Maybe it’s part of being human and being in human relationships. I am not really sure but one thing I am sure of is this:

I have continually allowed myself to feel rejected based off other people’s responses TO me. If it’s not what I had hoped for or what I had envisioned it would be…if their words did not match their actions and I found myself in the presence of a good talker rather than a good walker, I’d allow the perceived lack **of whatever** to pretty much obliterate my identity. I become worthless and not enough. Not valued. Not really liked or loved. I essentially allowed man to take the place of God and I’d worship the opinion and the approval of flesh and blood rather than The One who already says I am…

And I tell myself it’s easy. Too easy. “Anybody who has been through what I’ve been through within the span of my short life would be looking through the same clouded and muddled lens.” As soon as I have that thought, I realize I’m double-minded and rejection IS the shiny pin I wear on my lapel. I use it as an excuse. Rejection has been an old friend and as much as I loathe it, I don’t know how to live without it.

So over the last two weeks, I’ve been waking up each day choosing to intentionally posture myself to see how God sees.

How God sees me.

“Who am I?”

I need reminded because I’ve obviously forgotten.

I think of Jesus and I think of one of my favorite verses in scripture:

Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

This is WHO HE is. This is ME.

I read further and know I’ve been thinking like a child. I looked up the scripture “Do unto others and they do unto you,” and all I find is this: 

“Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” Luke 6:31

Damn.

I think again of Jesus. My thoughts always go back to Him and I realize that deep within me, what I’m really longing for is to become Love. Not just a little bit here or there. Not just in pieces and parts or to have characteristics of but to BE…

So I give up my childish ways and I show up and it hurts. It hurts more than I thought it would.  It makes me feel naked and exposed. It feels all upside down. It sears my flesh and feels like salt on an open wound and it is not always reciprocated and as much as I want to adjust myself and alter WHO I AM based off of how someone responds to me, I do not. I choose to believe I’m worth someone’s time and attention because I know that I am and that knowing allows me to give freely without strings.

Until I stop reacting to my circumstances and start responding to the love of Jesus, my circumstances will not change.

And I know it.

Don’t stop showing up and being you based off of how people respond to you. How you love anything is how you love everything for love is a quality of relationship more than a statement about the worthiness or deservedness of the object loved. -Richard Rohr

The Things We Don’t Want to Hear

I got two texts and one phone call today and they all sort of sounded the same, starting with, “I really hate to tell you this…”

Our road has never been the kindest to the animals that attempt to cross it. We lost an indoor cat once to its traffic the day she escaped so when friends reached out today and said, “A cat has been hit in front of your house,” I swallowed hard.

Yes indeed, but luckily not one of ours.

And each friend all expressed the same, how GRUELING it was to reach out and share that it may have been OUR cat. I liken it to the sort of pit-in-your-stomach- feeling that sinks deep, like when you see a friends husband out with another woman at the pub…

Those conversations are never easy.

But as conversations go, hindsight is always 20/20.

“If only I had spoken up.”

So friends, this is short and sweet…SPEAK UP.

But before you do…

It’s not tattling if your our own heart is checked so do yourself and the person that you care about a favor before you speak…know YOUR motives. If it’s genuine and sincere and your heart is just filled and overflowing…maybe it’s time to make the call. Maybe it’s time to look them in the eyes and grab their hands…

And if your heart is not in the right place, if you sincerely do not care and are all caught up in catching someone doing something wrong or vindictively hurting another out of your own offenses and insecurities, or you cannot wait to share the news with your circle of friends…I do not care what you SEE or KNOW

keep.your.mouth.closed.

You have to open your heart to open your mouth.

People know the difference.

And we all need people in our life that will speak hard truth to us in love. Just make sure it’s love before you speak it.

 

The Gym, Some Paint and a Dog Named Roy.

Several months ago our family joined the local YMCA. An invitation came home from our daughters elementary school to participate in a free, two-week trial with the Y’s swim team. She loves to swim and like most children who are the last ones born and the youngest of FIVE, she has traipsed to enough of her siblings and cousins events without ever having found her own.

That white piece of paper was THE invitation for her to do just that.

Needless to say, she loves it and we felt it was a place for her to thrive in many different ways so we joined. THE GYM. Now I am not a gym person.I have not been in a gym since college when my friend Jen taught some aerobics class when aerobics was even a thing. Pavement is my workout vice, NOT the treadmill. Or the weight machine. Or some, stinky, sweaty rubber mat. B-U-T I have been sick and running outside has not been conducive to healing so the other night, I buckled down and went.

To the gym.

It feels like such a dirty word.

I put on workout clothes that I wouldn’t mind being seen in public in and we gathered around the table as I announced to my entire family, “I can’t believe I am going to THE GYM” because in my mind, this was an event like no other. They could less about my dramatazation but instead talked about how EVERYONE is headed to the gym right now. It’s the beginning of January and New Years resolutions are in full swing and the gym is one places to meet the best intended of all people on this planet and rightly so. They have hopes and dreams and goals and it made me think once more about what I START and what I FINSH.

I’ve started a lot of things over the years. Most of what I’ve started I would say I’ve finished but I do have things that i lost drive and excitement for and I wonder what ever in the world happened to them. Either I was emotionally charged when I embarked or unrealistic in my goals…perhaps both. Who knows and it doesn’t quite matter now but what DOES matter is I have goals in 2017. For the last two months, I have sat and prayed about WHY I want to start and HOW I’m going to finish.

Because finishing IS important. Why haven’t I in the past??

As I prayed, I realized my answer.

All things I’ve started, be it a new relationship or something that I do; a new hobby, new habit or new goal gets hard along the way. It gets complicated or inconvenient. It gets a lot of things and the picture I have in my head and the reality that I have in front of me end up being two totally different things at the end of the day. My enthusiasm to finish deflates and with it, my HOPE, which acts like a ballon. Hope can inflate or deflate not only my confidence but my will to start AND finish.  When I lose HOPE, I lose myself for HOPE is the back bone of everything IN me to ever DO.

HOPE tells me things are POSSIBLE and to KEEP TRYING. 

Brian Johnson said this once at it has stuck with me, “A person who has HOPE knows every decision they make will effect their future. But a person without hope only makes decisions for the moment, can’t see past the immediate, and most time those decisions made are bad and lack follow through.”

Yes, hard gets in the way. Hard comes and pops our ballon full of HOPE and we give up.

I have a hallway upstairs near our bedrooms lined with paint cans. I started painting some of our rooms well over a month ago and before that, well over a YEAR AGO but WHO is keeping track of all that? The holidays hit and kids were home and actually insisted on living in the very rooms I planned to paint and I lost by can-do. I can make a 1,001 excuses why my hallway is half Tan and half Goldenrod but at then end of the day, my motivation needs a good talking to. Like my friend with pug named Roy (and who names their dog Roy? That’s almost worse than naming your baby Burt). Roy likes to chew.

Underwear.

Bed Post.

Shoes.

ALL Shoes.

She WAS correcting him regularly when he was a puppy but after awhile, she gave up. It didn’t seem to be working because he was forever finding her underwear and her ruby red flats. So now, she buys underwear in bulk from Amazon and just hopes she has a fresh pair left come Monday morning.

Moral of the story? Before you start, know in that pretty little head of yours that it is going to get hard and inconvenient and you will lose that good feeling that makes you think you can do all things. Remind yourself ahead of time that you may not be able to do ALL things but you certainly CAN do hard things. So that pretty idealistic picture you have your head, shatter it by replacing it with the SAME imagery but crumble it up a bit. Stain the edges with coffee and then cry yourself some big, ole tears all drippy and wet and drop them on that idealistic picture you have in your head and heart. When you are all said and done, rip an edge or two for good measure and call it perfect and end the day.

Wa-La.

So before you start, know WHY you are starting. This will be the nutrition you need before your feet cross the line and you start the race and then ask yourself HOW you are going to finish. If you don’t ask yourself these two questions, then maybe just don’t offically start yet. Leg work is important. Training takes time so train well BEFORE you begin because once you begin…it all just begins to look DIFFERENT. Knowing your WHY and your HOW will help you dig your heels into THAT relationship or THAT job or your numerous parenting dilemmas, etc.

Most things have an end. It is a natural progression in this life but there is a difference between finishing because your work is completed and quitting because your work got hard and inconvenient.  YOU are a finisher. Remember that. You see things to completion just like I’ll someday soon finish painting my hallway and then move on to the next room. Just like my friend who has the Pug named Roy who  is trying once more to salvage her home, her shoes and her intimates by using Bitter Apple Spray to deter his chewing efforts…Bless.

Getting started is exciting. It is a high all its own but at the end of the day, at the end of this life, finishing is MOST important.

Finish well my friends.

Much Love,

August

P.S. A thought popped in my head about our table. You know, the one I envision us ALL sitting around. I have this idea so here it goes:

Imagine we are sitting around a large ROUND TABLE. You have your coffee and I have something stronger, just because. I say to you, because we are friends and I want to know you past what you had for dinner last night…”So what do YOU want to start in 2017? WHAT is on YOUR heart?”

What would your answer be?

So now this is where YOU are invited to share…and please don’t leave me hanging, having further rejection issues to contend with.

 

 

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