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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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life-lessons

The Pursuit of Happiness

The other night I was standing in the yard when my youngest wrapped her arms around my waist and whispered, “Mom, I want you to be happy.” I breathed in deeply and closed my eyes realizing she had intentionally sought me out. The longing in her own heart broke mine and I could do nothing to mend it but exhale.

Happiness. I don’t long for it.

It seems that many of us have been pursuing the Wall Street version of happiness with a vengeance, like the 2006 blockbuster “Pursuit of Happyness,” in which Will Smith and his real-life son become best buddies in an epic journey from rags to riches. It’s no wonder that, in the minds of many of us today, the “pursuit of happiness” is unconsciously equated with the pursuit of wealth and security.

Conventional history and popular wisdom attribute the phrase to the genius of Thomas Jefferson when in an imaginative leap, he replaced the third term of John Locke’s trinity “Life, Liberty and Property” to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration of Independence. However in 1776, the definition of happiness evoked a different meaning than it does today. The term happiness comes from the Old Norse term happ meaning “luck” or “chance.” Given the culture the term was penned in, it made sense to say “the pursuit of” because earning a living and gathering property in one’s own self interest was not a freedom given to all men at that time. Times were changing.

And in today’s world, we have taken the term quite literally and have run with it. We believe the notion that the “pursuit of” and eventually the “having” will make us happy without realizing that often the pursuit of happiness leads us to crossroads where we get to make hard choices, many that bring unfortunate compromises. The “pursuit of” is a complicated and often convoluted path where we start putting our own *and often selfish* interest first. The very things and people we say are most important to us, often get pushed aside for the sake of obtaining something we think will make us happy. We make harmful and often dangerous choices in the name of being happy and temporarily swooned however, I find when you step outside of yourself to go after the things you think will make you happy, the anti gets upped and the happiness you once sought after ends up never being enough and on and on you go.

Don’t get me wrong, being happy is important, but happy times pass because time passes. The pursuit of happiness is elusive; it is life-long and it is not goal-centered. I believe deeply we all long to pursue a meaningful life but often take short-cuts that are not healthy and sadly, in the long run, our choices only harm those we love and wreck our future hopes of a “meaningful” life.

Happiness indeed is an inside job.

Healthiness on the other hand brings happiness, in my good opinion. It is definitely the slower, less scenic and more crooked path. In Scripture, Jesus went from town to town healing unhealthy people. Chronic illness, demon-possession…Jesus was in the healing business. Not once have I read of Jesus laying his hands on someone and making them “happy” but He did heal their sight by reminding them of WHO they were and WHO He was. It was in their healing that Life, Liberty, but most importantly, Love was found because they had encountered Jesus first hand.

If you are in pursuit of happiness, I encourage you to take a step back and shift your focus and pursue healthiness instead. Avoid short cuts, distractions and the momentarily feel goods. Remember WHO you are and walk with integrity and honor because it’s in your DNA. Guard your heart and your thoughts and be mindful and intentional about what you allow into both. If you don’t, you may be pursuing happiness when it is healthiness you are seeking most.

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The Pick-Up Artist

For years I hid and stuffed a large part of myself down deep. It wasn’t easy or ideal and it was exhausting but I didn’t know any different. It was what I grew up doing; not wanting to think or feel as some sort of self-protection mechanism. There was the me that I presented to the world; I was put together, talked and walked with poise and ease *in public* and then there was the me that hid and covered myself up *in private* because inwardly I was a gigantic mess. I was a consummate circus juggler and had too many balls in the air and was *worn thin* from trying to keep them afloat. 

Then I attended a life-changing conference in Nashville Tennessee. At the time, I was leading a local Mom’s group at my Church called MOPS (Mother’s Of Preschooler’s). Looking back now, I shouldn’t have been leading much of anything but I had a slew of preschoolers myself and was actually trying my best to be a good mother to them. Besides, God often goes hard after the lost and lonely and has been known to put those who don’t have it together in positions of leadership.

And I swear to God, the conference had me specially in mind from beginning to end when they picked the topic.

Masks: Why we put them on and how we take them off. 

It was a simple message with a profound punch. It didn’t make me feel like shit like it could have but instead, empowered me to emerge from the suffocating squalor I had been hiding in. When I returned home from Tennessee, I stood in front of my MOPS groups, in front of women whom I was convinced had it all together and whom I worked hard at convincing that I did and bared my soul. It was like I was auditioning for the movie “Bad Moms” where one of the moms stand in front of the PTA and admits to smoking the weed she finds in her sons bedroom. 

I share this moment in life with you because it was the first of many where I mustered the courage to be me *as is* I became increasingly brave and awake, even though I still morphed into some sorry rendition of who I thought I needed to be. I didn’t gravitate quickly *nor easily* to a mask. I walked the Earth uncovered and through it, the whole of my insides was unearthed. 

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

When you allow yourself to stand naked before the crowd, it invites others to do the same. Nakedness brings up all those things that you’ve tried to keep hidden. All your insecurities rise to the surface. Things like jealousy, anxiety, depression, bitterness…just to do some brain storming. They bring with them thoughts and feelings that are all out of sorts. And when they hit like tsunami waves, they make you believe that staying hidden and numb would have been best.

But it’s not. 

Thoughts and feelings are not bad things, in fact, they can be used for a lot of good when kept in check. It wasn’t long till I became aware that I had a deep understanding of what other people were going through…kind of like a sixth sense so to speak. I could “feel” what others were feeling, at least enough to bring me to the realization that I’m a highly empathic person. An empath.

The trademark of an empath is that we feel and absorb other people’s emotions and/or physical symptoms because of our high sensitivities. We filter the world through our intuition and have a difficult time intellectualizing our feelings. When overwhelmed with the impact of stressful emotions, empaths can have panic attacks, depression, chronic fatigue, food, sex and drug binges, and many physical symptoms that defy traditional medical diagnosis.

Here’s some nuggets of gold I’ve learned this past year:

1. Empaths are highly sensitive
Empaths are naturally giving, spiritually open, and good listeners. If you want heart, empaths have got it. Through thick and thin, we’re there for you, and are world-class nurturers. But we can easily have our feelings hurt. We are often told that we are “too sensitive” and need to toughen up.

2. Empaths absorb other people’s emotions
Empaths are highly attuned to other people’s moods, good and bad. We feel everything, sometimes to an extreme. We take on others people’s negativity such as anger or anxiety and make it our own, which is confusing and exhausting. If we are around peace and love, our bodies take these on and flourish.

3. Many empaths are introverted
Empaths become overwhelmed in crowds, which can amplify their empathy. We tend to be introverted and prefer one to one contact or small groups. Even if an empath is more extroverted they prefer limiting how much time they can be in a crowd or at a party. This was one of the most important discoveries of myself this year.

4. Empaths are highly intuitive
Empaths experience the world through our intuition. It is important for us to develop our intuition and listen to our gut feelings about people. This will help empaths find positive relationships and avoid energy vampires *which is a thing* but we have to be careful. I find that if I don’t personally partner with the Spirit of God, I get pulled to make assumptions and judgements about people instead of initially thinking the very best of them.

5. Empaths need alone time
As super-responders, being around people can drain an empath so we periodically need alone time to recharge our batteries. Even a brief escape prevents emotional overload and is a great form of self-care.

6. Empaths can become overwhelmed in intimate relationships
Too much togetherness can be difficult for an empath so we may avoid intimate relationships. Deep down we are afraid of being engulfed and losing our identity. I’m still processing this one but I do realize I often go wide but not deep, even though I believe I walk the face of the Earth masks free. It’s easier for me to intimate with large groups of people rather than not…again, it’s something I’m looking at.

7. Empaths are targets for energy vampires
An empath’s sensitivity makes us particularly easy marks for energy vampires, whose fear or rage can sap our energy and peace of mind. Vampires do more than drain an empath’s physical energy. The especially dangerous ones such as narcissists (they lack empathy and are only concerned with themselves) can make us believe we are unworthy and unlovable. Other vampires include the chronic talker, the incessant complainer and the drama queen…just to name a few.

8. Empaths become replenished in nature
The busyness of ever day life can be too much for an empath. The natural world nourishes and restores us. It helps us release our burdens and we take refuge in every-day-ordinary places like mountains, oceans and my personal favorite…on a boat at my favorite lake. 

9. Empaths have highly tuned senses
An empath’s nerves can get frayed by too much excess

Too much details. Too much talking. Too much activity in general.

10. Empaths have huge hearts but sometimes give too much
Empaths are big-hearted people and try to relieve the pain of others *which often leads us to “fix” or “save”* A homeless person holding a cardboard sign, “I’m hungry” at a busy intersection; a hurt animal; a distraught friend. It’s natural to want to reach out to them and ease their pain but empaths don’t stop there. Instead, we take it on. Suddenly we are the one feeling drained or upset whereas we felt fine before and often leads us to feeling take advantage of.

One of lessons I’ve learned this past year is that it is essiential to have an aresenal of tools to protect my sensitivities such as praying, fierce time management, setting limits and boundaries *NO is a complete sentence* and staying in my lane by and being mindful of the traffic in MY own thought and feeling life. Being an empath is a gift, especially when I partner with the Spirit of God, but I’m learning to take care of myself.

Self-care is NOT selfish. 

And I’m learning to not take things personally. The thought life or emotional roller coaster ride that others are on is not because of ME. I am not the axle in which the world rotates itself around.

Friends, we don’t always have to DO something with what is before us. We can actually choose what we pickup and what we put down and when things are dumped on us, we can rise up out of the heap, dust ourselves off and walk out of the crazy.

Sometimes it is one of the kindest things we can do. 

Hidden

2018 marked the beginning of the worst year of my life. Could it have been worse? Indeed. That perspective and that perspective alone was a rope tethered to a deeply rooted tree that kept me from jumping off the edge when things looked bleak.

Month by month, looking back now, I watched an entire year of my existence become completely overshadowed by a grief so heavy and so dark that sometimes it felt completely impossible to bear its weight. But I did and I am here, emerging from the other side grateful, not for the experience but for the life lessons I learned from the experience.

And the experience itself is not what I want to share with you. In actuality, the experience serves no purpose and to revisit the events that led to me the very end of myself is mute. They only drudge up feelings in me that I have recently rendered unnecessary. They do not help me move forward or stay focused on where I am going. Note: I am not ignoring them, because believe me when I say they are still fully present, but I will not give them the power I did for thirteen longs months of my life.

As a writer, I kept writing through it. If you’d revisit some of my older blog postings from a year ago, I was more honest than some would have liked. I got the message loud and clear, though not said in these exact words, that if it’s not pretty, than it should not be public. So I created a secret blog and bore my heart there. It was in that secret, safe place, void of opinions that I wrote only for me and allowed myself to be raw and real, tattered and torn. But here, on Life’s Little Lessons…not so much.

And here is what I learned from it: When somebody hurts you, they do not have a say in how you walk it out.

My last post was July 7, 2018.

I checked myself into the hospital seven days later.

Afterwards, I danced around things that I wrote on Facebook to stay safe but those who could read between the lines did. I just stopped being direct and blatantly obvious by calling the kettle black because that’s what you do when you’ve been hurt. You cover up your bleeding wounds but here’s the thing, wounds still seep and ooze. They always find a way to escape the body because wounds don’t want to be concealed but healed. I realize now I was trying to find all these different angles to heal and process my pain instead of just being honest and allowing myself to be exactly where I was.

People pleasing…that’s another blog post I’ll save for later.

I was like a corpse trying to drag itself continually out of its grave instead of simply letting dead things lie so new things could be born.

So I could be.

I stayed in that grave for the entirety of 2018. Yep. Twelve long months, thirteen to be exact. I hid there because it was safe. It was miserable and lonely but I was growing attached to my pain, it was becoming familiar and known in a season filled and overflowing with confusion and change. I no longer wanted to place my feet on the path of uncertainty.

So I didn’t.

I didn’t want to talk about it anymore let alone write about. I only showed up when life mandated it and basically withdrew from my friends and family. The fact I have any left proves that God is Divine. I grew tired of questions like, “Hey. How are you doing?” because all I wanted to say was, “How the hell do you think I am doing?” 

But I had to put my game face on and run a business and feed people dinner so that answer never seemed appropriate because amidst my grief, the very death of what was and what could be, I needed to be appropriate. Always.

All around me, everyone’s lives kept on going. I envied their every-day-normalness and I hated my envy. So I stopped. I stopped engaging. I withdrew and hid because if I could not be found, I did not feel tempted to place the rotting corpse of my old life up against theirs and compare the two.

Looking back now, this is what I learned:

Grief is a bitch. It doesn’t care who you are or what you’ve lost. It is non-discriminatory and unsympathetic. There is no way around it. You must go through it.

There are days that I still hide. Fact. There are days that are hard even though I am growing comfortable with hard days. They are what they are, mere moments in time that no longer stay but there are days I cannot talk my mind into believing that. 

I looked death in the face this past year. Literally. From it, I learned to say “Have at it” because if my circumstances were not going to change, then I would. I would be reborn. At times that choice didn’t seem fair, but then I realized choosing not to learn and grow was also a choice. I have more to go but with awareness and increasing fortitude, I’m emerging from the pit. It was never a place to loathe but to embrace.

Because truth is, there were things in me that needed to die and for years I wondered what it would take for their death to become reality. Now I know.

Loss.

And with loss comes letting go.

I got what I secretly been wondering for.

So even though remnants remain, my slate is clean. I actually had a thought the other day that randomly popped into my head, a thought that went like this, “I love my life.”  It made me smile the moment I recognized that I had thought it. Love my life? Like this? Yes. I choose to keep evolving and learning better so I can do better. There are days that are messy because old mindsets reemerge because the scars are still tender but I’m able to identify them for what they are, call them by name, and tell them where to go, more so than I was ever able to before.

I’m learning to own my shit. To be accountable and say I am sorry for what I am responsible for. It keeps me out in the open, my heart beating, so I don’t retreat and hide under mounds of guilt or shame for long periods of time.

So long story short, hiding is needed friends. Do not be ashamed or afraid of it. It is a place that you cannot help but visit. There is no detour. Your wounds are painful, like a bad burn that leaves sores which are raw to the touch. They leave you gun-shy as you grapple with trust and faith but I can assure, if you make the time to heal, you do. And no one but you knows the timing of that process. You need to heal from the inside out and only you know what that is to look like.

What I do know is that the Spirit of God is good. He can handle your questions. He can take on your anger and pursues your apathetic and wounded heart. He walks towards you when you walk away and at night when you cry yourself to sleep, He is kind, gentle and embraces you with tender care. In the morning, He whispers “Arise. Come out come out because I know where you are,” and His faithfulness will overwhelm you because He is patient on the days where you think you want to try but just aren’t quite ready to.

He knows that tomorrow is another day to try again.

Hiding was never meant to be a place that you call Home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Saw it Coming.”

 

I have this very creepy habit of possibly eavesdropping on other people’s conversations out in public. I call it active listening but I’ll use that term loosely since I’m not really a part OF the conversation. I can’t help it (says creepy people everywhere)… people intrigue me and I find myself sucked into their life into attempts to know them despite my best attempts not to.

 

 

The other day I was standing at the grocery store in a line that spanned the distance of forever and the couple behind me was talking about a friend of theirs who was just arrested for a DUI. They seemed to be genuinely concerned and I thought their sincerity was touching. However, one of them said something that absolutely caught my attention. They said,”

 

 

“I saw it coming.”

 

 

And the other person murmured in agreement. “I saw it too.”

 

 

I really didn’t want to listen anymore after that. I willed my ears to close as I stepped forward and proceeded to check out.

 

 

Those words really hurt my heart.

 

 

I wonder if people have seen it coming in me, in my life, and have turned and looked the other way. I wonder what people have become aware of and still…never reached out.

 

 

I wonder.

 

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about the junk we have in our lives, at least I have been thinking of mine. And try as I might to find scripture condoning my need at times to point out other people’s trash, I just haven’t.

 

 

What I have found is this:

 

 

“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. “And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment.” John 16:7-8

 

I read this and think when Jesus Christ Himself says, “IT IS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE THAT I GO AWAY…” I better pay attention to WHY He says it is to my advantage.

 

 

And my WHY turns out to be a WHO. 

 

 

Holy Spirit.

 

 

I often forget I am not Holy Spirit. **NEWS FLASH** Jesus did not depart this world so I could make it my life mission convicting the world (aka my family and friends or my “friends” online) of the junk they may have in their heart. That is what He does, it is WHO He is.

 

 

And me? My part in all of this is to LOVE.

 

 

Plain and not so simple.

 

 

Yes, Jesus pretty much made that clear as crystal when He said,

 

 

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”  John 13:34-35

 

I know love looks different for each and every one of us and sometimes, even “tough love” is still love when done with His leading and a open heart. I just know when I stood in that grocery store line the other day and heard the conversation from behind me; my heart broke into a hundred pieces for the gentleman with the DUI. The gentleman that obviously had his flag waving, “Hey. I’m heading down a dangerous path. I need some help; I’m just not quite sure how to reach out for it. Will someone see me? I know you see me. Will someone just love me enough to …”

 

 

Who knows? Maybe they did. Maybe someone had. Maybe this guy had tons of people cheering him on and trying to love him back to healthy and wholeness. In the end, just as it is not our job to convict people of their sin, it is also not our job to reach in and save them from the depths. We will exhaust ourselves from trying.

 

 

I’m a recovering fixaholic. I know how that all goes.

 

 

So friends, if you “see it coming” in someone’s life…please reach into them.

 

 

Not to convict them.

 

 

Not to fix them.

 

 

But to love them.

 

 

Not sure how? I have this friend and His name is Jesus…

 

 

 

 

 

 

as is

When I was in college, I fell in love with a leather backpack at a store downtown. It was everything that a leather backpack should be but it had this little defect; the one clasp wouldn’t quite close properly and the one strap was a few inches longer than the other. Minor defects, but still. It was marked, “AS IS” and when I approached the sales associate and asked her to lower the price of the bag, she politely said, “NO. The bag is as marked.”

And I really, REALLY loved that bag. So guess what, I bought it and to this day, I love it still. It is all tattered and worn and the one clasp still won’t close properly and the one strap is noticeably longer the the other, but I don’t care. I love it because it’s an old friend and has seen me on many a journey besides, it’s different and different to me is good.

My oldest son has a girlfriend and they have been dating for almost two years and we love her very much. When your kids grow up, you find yourself wondering about their future so you pay close attention to the people in the lives. Their relationship makes me think of my own with his father,  my husband, and how over the years I have tried to change him. I have tried to make him THIS when he was THAT and I realize I’ve done that on too many occasions to count. It’s a brutal realization but nonetheless, it has helped me learn how to pray for my son; that he would love his girlfriend, AS IS. 

I could have decided that day many, many years ago that that leather bag was not for me. I know it was just a bag, but it is probably one of the first times I remember consciously thinking to myself, “Is this something I want to sign up for?” AS IN, “Is this really worth the money?” because I was in college and was operating without a lot of cash. 

I wish I could adopt the intentionality of asking those questions on a regular basis but I’m getting there because it’s important to know what is and isn’t you. Not everything or everyone is for me and maybe if I’d take a moment to ask myself what and who IS, I’d be more willing to dig my heels in when the going gets tough, because the going always does. Maybe if I keep practicing embracing the “as is” in my life, I’d be more at peace and find joy outside of a fleeting feeling. Maybe I’d walk a little bit more free if I wasn’t so bogged down by regret or guilt because I said YES when I should have said NO.

Maybe. 

Because I want my YES to mean YES. 

Absolutely.

All in.

Without a doubt.

Till the end and then.

Friends, please make the time to intentionally ask yourself the hard questions like, “Is THIS something or someone I want to sign up for?” If you answer yes…enjoy the journey of learning how to hold them in your hands, open-hearted, not expecting or secretly hoping they would change, but loving them fully as is. If their clasp doesn’t close just right or their one strap is not the same length as the other…

If they never lose weight.

If they never get your jokes.

If they religiously leave their underwear laying on the floor in the bathroom after they shower and they often don’t make the bed and their cups pile up on the counter beside the sink.

Can you love them, all the way through?

Can I? 

We are free to be ourselves when we know we are unconditionally loved and accepted for WHO we are. When I think of what brings me the most joy in this life, it is that. Being me. 

And I am most myself when I love people right where they are at. 

“Accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” – Romans 15:7

 

 

the sign 

I had forgotten how much I take for granted thanks to modern at-your-fingertips technology until yesterday when I couldn’t use my GPS for directions because the location that I was traveling to was in the middle of Timbuktu. I literally had to rely on…SPOKEN (or in this case, TEXTED) directions. Do you know what that means? It means I had to PAY ACTUAL ATTENTION. I mean, WHO does that?

Apparently I haven’t for a long time.

So…I’m driving along. I go over the WHOLE mountain. I look for the “first road on the left after you go over the whole mountain.” I start to get nervous because there’s what looks like real roads but maybe they’re driveways? I can’t tell and I begin to think I missed the turn and my throat becomes scratchy and I feel like I need to reapply deodorant **BUT** I see a small sign along the road that said “wedding” with an arrow pointing straight ahead and I sigh. OUT. LOUD. **glee** It was perfect. I was encouraged as my sweaty self sat in the driver’s seat feeling all out of sorts because I was in the middle of actual NO WHERE (a real place. i have proof) with NO CELL SERVICE. I mean, really. How do we as a people know anything about any thing without service?

We don’t.

And then, another sign. I was almost there. SO close. The heat under my arms was letting up and I was encouraged all the more.

Those two small signs were just what I needed to assure me I was traveling on the right road and that I indeed made the RIGHT left turn because for a few minutes, I was getting kind of doubty. Those signs made me remember how important it is to pay attention to what’s going on around me and to pay attention to the details. It also made me grateful. SO grateful. I know those signs there for everyone and I know actual people put them there to help wedding guest meander their way through actual nowhere but that first sign was from God Himself. It gave me HOPE. It was ENCOURAGING.

I love it when He reveals Himself in my every day life using random people and things like wooden signs. Sometimes, it’s been a little red bird, a text from a friend or a word from someone who knows nothing about my current situation and they flutter through my day and say just the right word and it gives me that assurance again…not necessarily that I am DOING all the “right” things and that I am on the “right” path, but that He… God Himself, is WITH me.

$$THAT right there is money$$

We can’t always have cell service or GPS. We won’t always feel confident and assured. Sometimes we get a little shaky and doubt DOES try to press in. If you don’t, even just a little, I have five words for you “Get away from me Satan.” Be human. Presence in the middle of Timbuktu is vital, especially when you are feeling kind of alone and doubty, even if it’s JUST a feeling…so if you find yourself there, whatever the form, breathe. Take the heat and keep your eyes and your ears open. Anticipate His withness…however.

WHOever.

Keep Up

I could begin to feel it coming on, the weight was bearing down fast and hard.

Some would say feelings are dangerous things and should not be trusted, and part of me agrees in a sense, but would also argue on the other hand against that statements validity. Feelings are important. They arrive on the scene in a flash and place a check in my gut and if I listen close enough, halt me in my tracks. They try to talk to me in various ways and give me gust of CAN-DO’s that get me off my ass and encourage follow through. They allow uneasiness to settle if I make a rash decision or if I’m headed down the wrong path or one a little too soon. They give me peace and contentment on one hand to proceed and a colored flag in the other imploring me, “Look Here.” 

So when these feelings come, I don’t try to shove them out my front door like an unwelcomed houseguest. Instead I invite them to stay for a bit and this time, I sit with them and I say,

“WHAT ARE YOU TRYING SHOW ME?”

“You are spending too much of your time looking at what other people are doing, particularly in how they are interacting with one another and you think you need to keep up. You need to be this to that person and that to another. The heaviness you feel is the weight of your own expectation and looking too long leads to you compare which inevitably makes you think you need to measure up. Before long, here you are, feeling not enough. The list grows and quickly…you don’t think you share Jesus enough, that you aren’t a good enough friend, blah blah blah…

because if you were…”

So to me, the weightiness is a cue.

R-E-F-O-C-U-S

Eyes off the crowd. Cheer them on, yes. Stay in the “Good For You” spirit which is honest and sincere because we were not created to go it alone. Others are vitally important, they are much like our feelings; they inspire, encourage, caution, correct. And some you got to let come and then let go. I know for a fact that one person’s ceiling may be my floor and vice versa, but I don’t necessarily think we need to step on one another’s backs to make progress. I envision crossing finish lines together, hand in hand, but then again..you may want to pay me no mind. My head often gets lost in literal clouds and I’m known to be overly sentimental. What I am trying to say is BOTH are needed but I know in order for forward movement to take place, I must do MY part. I got to step. So I find myself doing the dance and engage the continual cha-cha of life…

step back…step to the side…step forward

I am once more reminded to set my own pace and run my own race. I want the team, I need the crowd, but if I am not careful, my identity can get wrapped up in WHO they are and not in WHO I am.

What is good for the goose is not always good for the gander, or maybe it’s what is good for the gander is not always good for the goose…whatever it may be, don’t forget you were created individually unique with purpose and are a intricate part of a family…

a family who very much needs to you to show up as YOU.

the intervention

this was me for a bit today, standing alone in what felt like this massively wide space. one thing however that i’m learning is this: we are never as alone as we feel. god had other plans for me, plans to extend his hand and invite me out of my vast and deep forest, the very place i wanted to get lost in.

his plan for me was jen.

i was fuming at my desk and in the midst of the worst possible time, she calls. i look down at my phone and see that it is her, my dear and sweet college roommate who i know only means well but hasn’t a clue about the space i’m in. i quickly answered instead of sending it to voicemail and said hello. after that, the next words out of my mouth where along the lines of, “i answered just to let you know i can talk, but don’t really want to. i’m mad. in fact I’m…” and well, the conversation just went from there and my words were colorful and not nice. i thought for sure she would get the hint and say, “whoa. we’ll talk another day.” but she didn’t. SHE PERSISTED. before i knew it, i was a bundle full of words and tears.

she has been safe and compassionate and always in my corner for over 25 years.

and before i know it, she sees my blind spot and calls out what i cannot see.

“your people pleasing root is being pricked.”

for.the.love.

she is right. i couldn’t see for i was blinded by offense.

have you ever woken up and then shown up, like FULLY to the best of your ability? it’s not your desire or your intention to be graded or measured and you don’t care to “do” good and you understand that your efforts will produce mistakes and you are ok with that. as much as you have heard it said that “no one can make you feel a certain way”, you want to call it bullcrappery for the day. people actually CAN say and do things that TRY to tell you that you are either TOO much or NOT enough and before you know it, you are placed upon the scale and weighed.

now i have to choose to believe efforts are unintentional, but reality is, it often seems personal when i know that it’s not. i often liken it to one ginormous head game of chess.

i move my pawn here. you move your rook. i capture your queen.

i am done playing games.

i swear that is why god’s other plan for me called today. “i can’t talk right now because i am too over the top LOST in this DEEP whatever…”

“that’s fine” she says. “i’ll just sit here with you and we will have awkward phone silence.”

she tricked me you know. she was my secret intervention, unstaged of course. my heart was closing off, how could she know? it was growing cold and the hot embers were burning out. as much as i wanted her to make it about them, she flipped it all around, sat me in the middle of the room in love and turned the tables…

PEOPLE PLEASER

those two words. once i remembered that i am doing the best i can, i stepped down off the scale and realized that even though what people say or do may make me FEEL a certain way, it is ultimately up to me to decide how i am going to respond and if it’s truth. truth was, i AM doing the best that i can. even if i wasn’t, even if i was slacking off, i do not need to flitter through the continual fluid place of too much or not enough…

when i realized that’s what i was doing, it wasn’t at all about what i thought it was. it wasn’t about other people and what they have done or didn’t do or what I have done or didn’t do. everyone was left off the hook. it was about me not trying so hard to make everyone happy. it was about my people pleasing.

i feel continuously pulled to have the attitude that says “to hell with you” and “oh i am so sorry, let me fix.” yes my heart gets torn in how to balance the space in between and how hard or soft i should land when i come in…so for today, i have resolved thanks to me dear friend jen, that if i show up and do my best, HOWEVER THAT LOOKS, it is simply

enough.

 

 

 

 

How to Master the Art of Hospitaility

So you are having friends into your home? GREAT! I can help. My husband and I LOVE to entertain and have friends into our home, both old and new. Just last night we hosted a dinner with 8 other couples from our church so I literally JUST experienced what I am about to share.

  1. Go to Pinterest for ideas on THEMES. If you are going to entertain in your home then be prepared to ENTERTAIN your guest. Everyone wants an EXPERIENCE and coming to your home for dinner is NO different. Party favors are a must and though matchy match is kind of outdated, coordination is key. From the table decor to your plates, napkins and cups…remember presentation is EVERYTHING.
  2. Clean your house. It must be immaculate. If you have thicker carpet, you are in luck. Make sure that when you sweep, perfectly straight lines are clearly visible; NO feet marks please. This will make your guest feel incredibly honored as they walk into your home knowing that their feet are the first to grace your newly swept carpet. Also as you are sweeping, pull furniture out and sweep behind AND under. Why is this important? Remember how your mother used to tell you, “Make sure you put new underwear on in case you are in an accident?” The premise is the same. When your guest are welcomed into your home, you need to be prepared in the event they look under your couch in search of hidden fur balls.
  3. If you have children, you need to remove ALL traces of their existence. Remember that your guest are coming to your home to be entertained. You must minimize all obstacles that could jeopardize that mission from being accomplished. If hiding your children away in your downstairs den with a bag of Cheetos, some Benadryl with an incredibly engaging movie series is NOT an option, remember the 15th Century proverb that said, “Children should be seen but not heard.” It’s an oldie but a goodie and still rings true in this home as it should yours. If they are not quiet, remember that the Bible says “He who withholds his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him diligently.” Proverbs 13:24. That’s scriptural.
  4. Fix a gourmet meal. The more money and time you spend preparing, the better. The main objective in mastering the art of hospitality is to WOW your guest. You want to be THE house that everyone gets invited to so go over the top and then go over the top some more. In this case, MORE is NEVER ENOUGH. Whatever expectation you THINK your guest have, you most likely are only luke-warm and probably not even close to what could totally ignite their taste buds on fire so go bigger so not to disappoint.
  5. Last but not least and this is THE most important so listen up and pay close attention. Whatever is happening in your home prior to guest arriving, like whatever is REALLY happening, you best HIDE it. Just had a fight with your husband? Wipe those tears off your face and go reapply your makeup. Put your game face on. Smile BIG and smile PRETTY. Your life IS perfect. You have perfectly unheard of children and a house that Martha Steward would be proud of. When asked how you are doing, the answer is ALWAYS, “I am great!” Everything is great. Your marriage. Your kids. Your job. You talk about the vacation you are planning and how many burpees you did the other day at the gym and what Gina down the street wore to the bus stop. People DO NOT want to know how you are really doing because they do not want you to ask them how THEY are doing. They want to know that you bought milk today and that you spent 28 hours preparing their meal so girdle up and talk the talk. Pleasantries are most important to leave your guest with lingering good feels hours after leaving your home.

Over the years these, these are some helpful tips we have found that keep friends and family returning to our home and if you believe any of that to be true then I have some books to lend you on how not to live life too seriously. Thing is, at some point in my life and to some degree, I HAVE tried these things as a recovering people pleaser.

*I HAVE tried to create an experience instead of BEING someone TO experience.

*I HAVE tried to present a house that was completely unrepresentative of our everyday life having everyday people living in it, not only exhausting myself but the relationships in my home  while doing so.

* I HAVE growled my kids for being themselves in their own home. I HAVE lectured about what to DO and NOT DO when guest arrive and have secretly looked at their presence as being inconvenient to my entertaining which broke their spirits and my heart in the process.

*I HAVE tried to impress with my culinary skills or overcompensate for my lack of them.

*I HAVE faked it in hopes to eventually make it. Yes, I have been GREAT!

At the end of the day, mastering the art of hospitality is more about YOU and YOUR GUEST, the people IN your home and AROUND your table then ANYTHING else. Your front door is being opened for a relationship so don’t just open the door to your home but open the door to your heart. It may sound fluffy but it’s true. If your guest show up to a fully present YOU, a YOU that is excited to sit with them, engaged in being present WITH them, it’s enough.

It’s more than.

Cheers to being hospitable!

Much Love,

August

 

ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION:

What stresses you about having people into your home and why?

Do you find it hard to sit down and engage in conversation that goes deeper than regular, everyday surface living?

When you are invited into someone’s home, what excites you about going?

 

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