Finding Yourself

When Comparison and Covid Strike

I feel like I’m floundering right now. Not only has our world turned into a germ house of fear but life in general has me wondering what in Creation I’m doing and where I’m headed.

I don’t know what all you’ve been facing personally over the past few weeks but I’m sure it’s not at all what you thought your March would look like.

I’m struggling to make sense of it all just the same as everyone else.

I’m also realizing that as an introvert, my life has not been totally turned upside down AND I have a legitimate excuse for staying home and doing things I love. I also realize how much it means to be included in other’s lives and how we need each other!

At the same time, my family and I are moving into a fixer upper that is not totally finished. One we’ve been working on for months. I feel like I’ve lived in dust and painted hair and hands and work clothes all 2020. Through a series of events, we have had a rather unusual and often crazy past year in life and just this weekend, when everyone was posting pictures of home creations and quality time and toilet paper, I was trying to find my way through piles of boxes, weary to the bone form hauling totes and belongings and keeping up with a two year old, misplacing everything and making sure no one in our small family starved but DID take their probiotics.

It feels so very very good to have a house again after selling ours last spring and living in a camper and house sitting for the past (almost) year. While both those options were valuable experiences and a good fit for the present, there is nothing quite like having your own spaces and rooms and knowing that your kids won’t wake the neighbors at 4:30 AM or spill food on carpets or break things that aren’t yours.

Change can make anybody feel vulnerable and the threat of sickness and financial issues and unknown futures can cause stress to shoot through the roof!

If you are feeling alone or distant or just plain lonely right now, please know that you really truly are not alone no matter how trite that may sound.

You’re value is not based on your performance or how smoothly you’re homeschooling is going or how brave a face you are putting on. Life is just plain HARD sometimes and comparing yourself with others …nope! Don’t go there.

I don’t know if you are anything like me…but I love to surround myself with people who are better at things then I am. Ladies I admire. Powerful strong ladies who know who they are and what they have to share with the world. Ladies who have a voice and use it to build others up and bring awareness and peace and empowerment to others.

Here’s the deal though. I can feel super intimidated by people I admire. I can pull out my comparison cards in two blinks of an eye and before I know it, I’m wallowing in self thoughts that are literally tearing me down.

It’s what I call self sabotaging at its finest.

Part of my journey has been learning to accept my past and present and embracing the fact that I have self worth.

Being flexible is important in life. Being a puppet is not. I have danced to others ideas in so many ways but even more destructive is the inner critic that is my own voice, tearing myself down.

Right now, when there is extra stress and all the world is thrown a bit off balance, it’s even easier to find ourselves, as humans, groping for a normal and questioning everything including who we are and what we are doing right this moment and for what purpose. It’s easy to judge ourselves harshly, judge our kids and those we love most, and allow the whole tide of comparison to rush in and take our breathe away.

Ground yourself friend.

Know that you are an incredible human with incredible strength.

Your life. Your quarantine. Your kids. None of these will look like every one else’s . It may, in fact look like no one you know. But that doesn’t mean you are weak or weird or less then.

Embrace the hard and the easy and know that nothing lasts forever. That change is good. That growth happens and that you don’t have to look or act or do like everyone else in order to have worth or be accepted.

It’s ok to feel confused and a little teary and emotionally off balance. It’s ok to need to sleep a bit more or eat some comfort food and wrap yourself in a big hug.

Stay home and love your family. Love the Divine. But don’t forget to love yourself also. Love who you are becoming. Love that you get to live in this story that will become history. Love that you can make a difference simply in being a good human. Love the YOU that is living and breathing and moving right now. And let that acceptance and love overflow into those right beside you today!

We won’t let coronavirus take our confidence. We are not in control of anything in life except ourselves and that’s the part that we can do well…no matter what comes our way!!

Finding Yourself

Hostage Heart

Sometimes our heart’s held hostage.

Our own brain telling us

We are alone.

Unworthy of the ransom

Of human acceptance

Compassion and love.

Like no one can understand

The depth of our wrestling.

Fear keeps us tethered with

The thought of labels slapped on us.

Less then.

Inefficient.

Unworthy.

A failure.

Too sensitive.

Faithless.

A fraud.

So we cry into the night

Scrub tears furiously in the car

Plaster a smile on our face

And plow on with life.

We slowly die inside.

Morph into an island.

Our inner dialogue

Isolating us from what we need the most.

It’s when we take the plunge.

Reach for the lifeline.

Open our hearts

Let truth filter in.

No matter how fractured the light.

Allow the hug of grace.

The words, “I believe in you.”

The nodding of,”Me too.”

That’s when we realize

that all along

we were our own captors.

Locked in bars of our own making.

We held the key from the beginning.

We just needed to find the courage

And risk the chance of being seen.

To turn the lock.

The freedom waiting for us.

It was there all along.

We were not made to live our story alone.

Finding Yourself

Finding Calm in Chaos

Have you felt out of control of your emotions or reactions to situations? Do you think “if only they would __________ I could handle this so much better.”

Do you wish you could stop the thoughts parading through your mind or change the knee jerk instinctive reactions to situations out of your control?

It’s not impossible my friend! I’ve been a mom for nearly a decade. If anything brings you to the end of your patience and self control it’s working with humans 24/7. That’s mom life. Beautiful, exhausting, messy, life.

I’ve struggled more then I want to admit with my reactions. I think we all have our own unique way of responding to stress or discomfort in our lives.

Yelling, being overly critical, self hatred, shaming, being passive aggressive, hitting, leaving, shutting down. We all have ways our body automatically WANTS to respond.

We CAN have control over these reactions. We CAN’T normally control the circumstances we find ourselves in. It’s not my kid’s responsibility to stop crying because it’s uncomfortable for me or my husbands responsibility to help me more because I feel alone.

Let’s just STOP 🛑 laying blame on our circumstances and hoping for better outcomes.

Hear my heart. I’m NOT saying to stay in abusive or dangerous circumstances.

I AM asking if I may challenge you to start working on the deep roots and the core issues that are triggering these helpless, hopeless feeling that explode in reactions in our bodies and often onto those we love the most.

Before I go farther, I want to credit Dr. Caroline Leaf for decades of research in the brain and the empowerment and knowledge she has shared with countless people!

I’ve been doing her 21 Day Brain Detox and am on my 3rd cycle of 21 days. My life is literally changing because of it.

Here are some of the things that are working for me that are specific to her coaching as well as things that I’ve discovered over the years through other research. I don’t take credit for them. I do love to share what’s working for me!

• Get enough sleep. If you can’t sleep, then at least rest. Resting your body is vital to managing your brain and emotions. I’m talking a MINIMUM of 8 hours a night.

• Drink water. Eat well. You don’t have to go extreme. Just make good, healthy choices and take well researched clean supplements.

• Become an observer. Observe yourself in hard situations. Pretend you are viewing yourself from a distance. You will be amazed at what you see when you remove your emotions from a situation and observe yourself as an onlooker. Of course you don’t want to stay up on that observation deck forever! Just get far enough away to took at your reactions logically then come back and give yourself and hug and make some changes.

• Ask yourself questions. A lot of questions.

Why? Why am I angry at my toddler?

Because he won’t stop yelling.

(Note that this is YOUR inquisition…not your toddlers)

Why does that bother me? Because it’s loud and it makes me uncomfortable.

Why? Because I didn’t get much sleep last night and I’m tired and hungry and I’m bending over backwards here to fix things and they won’t be fixed and isn’t yelling bad behavior?

Tada!! Now I’m getting somewhere! I’ve learned some things about myself.

I’m tired and hungry.

I feel unappreciated.

I feel like yelling is not acceptable and reflects that I am a bad mom.

Onward girl!!!

Now comes the crunch.

What are you going to do about it?

That’s up to you.

For myself?

Get a drink. Eat something with protein and hopefully something flavorful and fresh.

Remember that my child is not here to please me or perform for me. I am here for them. I am here to help them navigate big feelings and support them in using their voice in respectful, healthy ways.

I am a loving, powerful, good mom!

It’s not always easy to ask these questions in the moment so I like to take note of when I feel upset and then go back later and break it down a bit and try to find a solution to the problem. I need to find the core of the issue in my own life before I can hope to successfully manage my own emotions.

• Contemplate instead of ruminate. When we let negative or stressful thoughts run through our head all day like a steady back ground sound track, we are destroying our brains!

The thoughts we give energy to will create strong patterns in our brains. It’s much more helpful to plan a time to sit or walk or run and give your mind specific permission to think (contemplate) on the issue that is bothering you. Then set it aside and go on with positive thinking.

• Feel the pain. Feel the hurt. Then release it and find a new way of thinking of it.

• Give yourself a lot of affirmation and hugs. Tell yourself how strong you are. How powerful your mind is and how you are changing generations through your own change.

• Take note of when you are extra anxious or triggered and find the warning signals that you are on a downward spiral. Decide right then and there to change the outcome. Being aware of your physical and mental feelings is HUGE in gaining control of your mind and reactions.

•Take it slowly. This is a marathon. Not a sprint. It has taken us years to build our mind patterns and it will take a lot of hard work and dedication and the desire to change in order to succeed. Every day you work on your own issues is a step forward!! You don’t need to get it perfect. You just need to keep making positive , thoughtful choices.

• Take time for soul care. Having time to write, think, read, be in nature, worship, or do a fun project are vital for me. Unplug and reset.

•Take a hot shower or bath. Wash your hair. Or put on your makeup. Go work out at the gym. Walk around the block. Whatever it takes to make you feel fresh again. I personally go for a quick shower and hair wash. I try to let my ugly feelings go down the drain and start all over. There’s no shame in making repairs and moving on.

I’ve found that working on myself is vital to changing the whole way my life goes down around me. I can’t change my circumstances or the people around me but I can change my own inner world. I can change my mind and my brain and that changes my biology. It changes my attitude, my health, my immune system and my DNA.

Yes! Our Creator made us THAT powerful. He also didn’t abandon us to try to do this on our own. He sent His Spirit to live in us. Hold us. Teach us. Lead us. Empower us. Comfort us.

We are not hopeless and we are not alone. We are not a diagnose. We are not a number.

Our stories matter. Our life matters.

Step into your power and LIVE!

If you have a favorite thing to calm yourself down or even reset your day, I’d love to hear about it!!!

Finding Yourself

How To Find What You Really Want This Christmas

It’s December and the stores are LOADED here in America with gorgeousness and yumminess and toys and truly amazing smart gadgets. We open our phones and scroll through deep discount deals and ways to donate and support others this season.

It’s called ‘the most wonderful time of the year and I’m not sure if it’s truly wonderful or just plain overwhelming.

There are so many reasons to buy so many things. We can legitimize every one of them it seems. “Just because” is totally legit to me, in case you were wondering.

This Christmas I see the STUFF all around me and while part of me wants to revel in the buying of the season, the other part of me is content to sniff a candle, stroke a soft blanket, page through an amazing book, appreciate the gorgeous rows of pomegranates and oranges and then leave them in the store for another guest.

I’ve had a rather rocky relationship with money in the past. I would often purchase something because it was on sale, because it was my size, because it fit with what was expected of me, because I thought I just HAD to have it, or because I thought I should want it.

I also have a huge giving heart. I’d give my coat away if it would help someone. Some say it’s commendable and others say it’s stupid so before we fall into either category, can I just take a moment and sip my tea and ask you to look deep inside yourself?

Way down deep past all the thoughts that just now popped up in your head.

Take a moment to sip your own tea and reflect a bit.

Imagine that ‘One’ (or one hundred) thing you want right now.

Ask yourself a few questions.

Is this a feeling of ‘want’ that will pass?

Is it a need?

Is it making you feel guilty?

Irritable?

Dissatisfied?

Look a bit deeper.

Perhaps, there’s another whole level to this ‘One’ thing.

Perhaps this ‘One Want’ is actually stemming from another place altogether.

Is your actual ‘Want’ stemming from a relationship you long would be in a better place?

Is your ‘Want’ actually a wish to be understood or supported?

Is it to feel better about yourself as a person?

Is it to appear successful or ‘together’?

Is it because you were denied so much in former years?

Is it because you miss someone and want to have something RIGHT NOW to get your attention off the pain of missing them?

There is no right or wrong answer here.

Do not judge your emotions or thoughts.

Let them come. Sit with them. Give them grace.

When we judge ourself for wanting something, we hinder our self growth.

It doesn’t mean you need to act on your impulses to buy something, it just means that you give yourself a hug and admit to yourself the real reason behind the longing inside. Then decide if you still need to purchase it. Sometimes admitting the reason behind the longing is all our brain needs of us.

There’s always multiple sides to everything in life and one of them right here is that everyone’s spending will look different. Priorities are personal. That’s OK!

There’s a freedom to spending money though.

The better you get to know yourself~

The true authentic you~

The better you will get at spending money on things that REALLY truly enhance your life.

When you KNOW where your identity lies. When you KNOW who you are, you don’t need to buy anything to prove it or discover it. You buy something to ENHANCE it. And that’s a good thing!

There are three categorizes I like to think about before I buy something:

+ it needs to sustain me

+ it needs to bring me Genuine joy or enhance my life.

+ it needs to Bless (TRULY BLESS) someone else

That means if a coffee and croissant is what I need to sustain me at this time, then I’m going to get myself one!

If I’m buying something for someone else to make myself feel good more then to bless them, I need to hold off on that buying. I need to check my heart and perhaps connect with that person to see how I can bless them best.

Perhaps it would do me more good to sign up for an online class or coaching instead of buying that new set of kitchen knives.

Let your mind explore your options.

Knowing who you are takes the stress and guess out of so many purchases.

Knowing who you are narrows your wardrobe. My style in dressing is largely simple comfort and pretty colors. If clothes are stiff, cuffed, frilly, narrow, boring or ugly, (to my eyes) I pass them by. Find your style of clothing and go with it. Switching it up later is perfectly acceptable. Just find what fits you now!

Knowing who you are narrows your home decor. What’s important to me is special paintings or photos of my loved ones, a special item to remind me of a dream I’m working toward, candles or twinkly lights, a cozy blanket, soulful music, stacks of good books, and colors that collaborate. Does your home feel like you or something your mother decorated? Make it YOU! If nothing else, make ONE corner you. Buy what matters to you and leave the rest!

Knowing who you are narrows your bookshelf. I literally cringe when I write this because I adore books and supporting authors. I’ve learned the hard way in this one though. Piles of books doesn’t mean I’m going to enjoy them. It does mean BOXES of HEAVY if we move. I’ll admit, I have some books because of their cover. I have some books because of their message. I have some books because of their author. Knowing who you are helps you pass up books that you know you won’t really enjoy even if they are popular.

Knowing who you are helps you decide if a gym membership is truly worthwhile for you. It helps you decide if you really need a new computer or if you are just fine with your smart phone. It helps you decide if you need to invest in a part time sitter so you can follow your calling or if you want to BE the sitter to bless others.

Knowing who you are gives you the freedom to buy those roller skates because you loved skating in childhood. It allows you to treat yourself to a day of rock climbing or a spa day or visiting a museum. Not because you should, but because you Chose to. Because it makes you feel ALIVE.

Sometimes we need to wade through a whole lot of trial and error to get to know what really brings us joy, but never stop trying my friend!

Stop buying what you think you SHOULD be wanting and look a little deeper at what you really TRULY want.

You’ll be amazed at how freeing it is to realize the rolling pin isn’t for you even if you were raised in a kitchen.

I’m working on this whole thing of NOT buying all the ‘should gets’ and focusing on what would literally set my heart into a symphony of emotion and awe. Or what would feel like an old familiar hug.

Last year I sold my kitchen mixer and bought a kayak. It was a personal choice that I don’t regret!

It’s a twisty road for sure and it will never be all straight and orderly for me, but I’m not going to stop discovering new concepts as I go ….and enjoying the view.

One more thing….buying well means listening to others well. When you ask others what THEY want, be ok with buying them a rolling pin if that’s their thing. Be ok with giving them a very -no -strings -attached -impersonal gift card if that’s how they roll.

Listen well…not only to yourself but to others also.

I’d love to hear what items make you happy!

Finding Yourself

Six Days of No Reading

It’s true. This girl took a break from reading.

This book loving girl who would trace the lines of words before she could even read them.

This girl who was ashamed to stand and read the first word in her Reading class while everyone looked on. She would always have that one bold three letter word which was centered in the middle of the white page blazed into her memory.

God.

And when she scooted her chair back, stood by her desk, and read that one word, she cringed a bit inside. How was it considered reading to stand up and repeat one word with all seven of the other students in her class? How was it considered a milestone to utter one syllable and that meant you were reading?

She wanted to devour whole books. Sniff their freshly printed pages and bask in the black print, clear and clean.

Reading became her life line. Her escape from reality. Her search of one more thing. She read in bed and while she worked and in the bathroom. Shampoo bottles and cereal boxes and chip bags. Children’s books and flyers and encyclopedias.

She was 8 years old when she got her first journal and it was the best birthday gift ever. She wrote about rollerskating and the strange man they saw beside the road and about who was dating and who was engaged and who was pregnant in her church. She wrote poetry in magnolia trees and dreamed of rescuing abandoned babies and working in an orphanage.

And she read.

I’m this girl and I’m doing a course by Julia Cameron on recovering your creative self. Last Sunday when I read the assignment, I nearly quit breathing.

“No reading for a week.”

Now back when the course was written, there was no social media, and no blogs. My reading challenge just got harder.

I never count the pages I read a day. In fact, some days, I don’t pick up an actual book, I dare say. But you can be sure that if I read shampoo bottles in the bathroom as a kid, I read Pinterest quotes now.

The only way I could see this working was to totally go off my regular online sites for the week. Plus leave my pile of current reading books untouched.

No one was forcing me to do this. I had made no commitment to anyone that I would do EXACTLY what the course suggested but something in the challenge stirred me. Often when you feel extreme opposition that borders on anger about something like this, it’s hit a tender spot and you may need the challenge more then you think.

I decided to jump in and try giving up this good thing of reading to see what would shake out of my life or my mind or subconscious. I wasn’t expecting much. I hated the thought. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. But I had to try.

The first two days weren’t too bad. I found myself connecting with friends I hadn’t connected with for awhile (granted it was through messaging, but that’s a bit like writing a letter in my mind). I drew doodles and made a few cards for friends while I waited in the car. I attended a conference with my husband and was more attentive then I would have been if I had been scrolling through my phone to fill in time.

And I did peak at Pinterest. But I tried to limit myself to inspiring pictures instead of wordy quotes.

Day three I woke up feeling angry. It felt like I had been wrestling my toddler all night. He was having a very hard time sleeping and I was exhausted when I woke in the morning. I felt off center, grouchy, and touchy.

This whole ‘not reading’ thing was really getting to me. I felt like I needed a brain reset. I felt like I needed to get outside my head. Think of something else. Find encouragement for my soul. I felt trapped in a corner with no escape.

I knew enough about detox or any kind of change to know that often Day Three is horrid and you think you are truly crazy. It’s also usually just before the break through that you feel the worst. So I stuck it out – this horrible ‘not reading’ thing.

Day four I woke, having slept better, but still feeling frustrated and irritated. I selfishly directed it toward my husband. We had a big discussion to put it mildly. I sat at one end of the table and he at the other and we volleyed words and feelings back and forth and at the end, we sat beside each other and agreed to a plan that worked for both of us. As the old saying goes, ‘we kissed and made up’.

Turned out we were both feeling misunderstood. Turned out we both needed to move toward each other instead of away. Turned out at 1:30 PM he went to work when he had planned to go at 8:30AM.

Day five, I woke refreshed. It wasn’t just that my toddler had slept most of the night; it was also that we were starting a new chapter and that felt good. Would we get stuck on repeat? Most likely, but that was all part of growing and learning.

I drove to our fixer upper that morning and didn’t want to stop driving. After doing a quick coat of sealer on the countertops, I jumped in my car again, notified my husband, and set off on a little road trip. Just to clarify here…I go on drives to relax but never miles and miles out of town. This time, I felt like it was something I really needed to do for myself.

I drove over 160 miles and enjoyed the scenery and listened to music and a podcast, drank coffee and saw gorgeous mountains and wildlife. My toddler rode along and actually did amazing. I stocked up on groceries, found a mirror at a thrift shop for our fixer upper, and got back by 3 PM. It was exactly what my heart needed to recharge and relax.

Day Six, I felt satisfied. Like my experiment had been successful and like I was ready to break the NO Reading spell.

So what did I learn by taking a break from reading?

I learned that not reading makes me feel angry.

I read for inspiration.

I read to get out of my head.

I read to learn and I read to grow.

I read to distract myself or when I don’t want to talk.

I read to fill in moments.

I read to heal and to feel.

What did I do instead of reading?

I made more contact with friends.

Drew small sketches.

Took a drive.

Organized the kitchen cupboards.

Went to a seminar for one reason and came home with a different reason.

Slept more.

Watched my child exclaim over Christmas decorations in a store.

Had a long conversation with my husband.

Made goals with my husband and with myself.

Was it worth it?

Yes.

Hard and uncomfortable.

But worth it.

I may devote a day a week to No Reading so I’m forced to get other things done. Then again, maybe I’ll just try to be more intentional with my time.

A brain that reads can grow and become. That’s what I am reaching for. That’s what I am grateful for.

Finding Yourself

What Makes You Feel Like A Person

I’m sitting outside of Starbucks right now in my Jeep with a Dragon fruit refresher, my hair tied back (because writing is serious business and I always feel more productive with my hair secured) and rain and hail alternating on pounding my roof. My toddler is asleep in the back seat and I’m curled up front, camping dust tracing my bare feet. My shirt says Wild Love and I put a layer of fresh deodorant on before I left the house. There are 10 more things I could have done to make myself feel more presentable. . Well, actually, probably more like 20 since I’ve pretty much lived outside the past three weeks .

Here’s the point though. I feel like a person again. Not so much like a 24/7 caregiver. I mean, yesterday I removed toilet emergency item number 2 from my toddler’s hands. So yeah, at this moment I feel not so much like a burned out momma. Like there may be some spark under the plain old Anita after all.

We all have busy lives. Sometimes in the busyness, we lose track of who we are and what our feelings really are and how to connect with our inner child- the part of us that God created extra special and extra unique and full of His specific plan for the world and for us in particular.

In the past months of craziness, I’ve felt like I lost touch with who I was.

Moving is hard and takes every ounce of energy. Settling into a new routine is hard and coaching children ( and myself) through the emotions and upheaval that comes along is hard. Waking up at early hours with a ‘rearing to go’ (as my mom I used to say) toddler is hard. Losing someone you love is doubly, triply, quadruply hard. Healing is hard.

No matter what you are facing, I can almost guarantee you that if you are breathing, you are doing Hard.

Its just part of life. There’s not even any need to count points on a scale of 1-10 to see where your Hard lands.

It’s truly so easy to lose ourselves in the hard and busy. To forget that while we are serving and being productive and caring for others and bringing home a paycheck, there is that vital source of connection that, without given attention, will simply dwarf its way into oblivion.

It’s got a pretty quiet voice. But it’s persistent and misunderstood and often ‘shushed’

And honestly? Sometimes its just plain hard to hear. Other voices seem so much more demanding and persistent and authoritative.

Losing yourself is costly though.

Losing the person your Creator made you to be is downright sad.

It’s a paradox- this losing and this finding. Jesus said, “if you lose you’re life for My sake, you will find it.”

I think losing the life that Jesus mentioned was losing the part of us that is full of self and pride. Like our ego.

Only by losing the ego can the core of us come alive and that is the part deep within us that is sheltered in the safety of grace. That’s the part that our Creator calls beautiful. It’s where the gifts He has given to us are birthed and nurtured and grown.

I think part of that true identity is revealed by simply discovering what makes you feel alive. What makes you feel like a person and a human. When we connect with those basic life giving emotions, we connect with the core of our being.

Everything is connected in life.

Maybe its doing simple things like taking a hot shower after a hard day of work, watching the sun set, or drinking a steaming cup of coffee in the morning.

I think it needs to go deeper then that. We need to be still long enough to discover it. To hear new truths. To uncover the beauty. To find something life giving and follow through with it. To not give up on ourselves or our passions.

Often our natural passions are actually staring us right in the face, saying ‘use me’ while we are here tearing around complicating everything with the ‘ what if’ and ‘should be’ and ‘maybe’ and ‘can I?’

Just silence the noise. Find yourself. Know that while you will never fully arrive, until you are in Eternity with your Creator, you will come closer and closer to that fullness. You will be making the biggest difference possible in this world. Living the full calling of your Creator on your Life.

Live in your strengths. Learn from your failures.

Know that even mistakes and problems are chances to learn and become more fully alive and aware of yourself. Let’s just not even call them failures. Just growth spurts.

Don’t give up on YOU! Don’t stand yourself up on your own date with yourself. Go all in. Find your passions and follow through with them.

That’s where the magical, life giving stories happen.

I’d love hear the one thing you choose to do today that is life-giving for your inner core.

Rainbows in the East at 9 PM. Now that was soul food!

Finding Yourself

Remodeling My Soul and Home

Its 2 AM and the burning to write drove me out of bed and into the kitchen.

I brewed myself a cup of tea, and curled up on the couch.

The other night , on my solo time at Barnes and Noble, I wanted to cry more then anything else and so I wept all the way up 10th Ave and drove myself to the Walmart parking lot because that has the best views in town of the Full Moon and the Highwoods.

What ever reason it is that my soul is stirring, I know I will sleep better and be more relaxed tomorrow if I write the words and give them wings.

We are doing this crazy thing. This thing that makes me wonder if we have lost our minds. This thing that my ego ( the perceiving, analytical, logical part of my mind) calls ‘out of my mind’.

We are sorting through our stuff, getting rid of tons of it, finishing up our house remodel, putting it up for sale, and living in a camper for the summer.

Let me back up. Seven years ago, in March, we moved across country to do Doctoring for our daughter who had a severe genetic disorder. Five years ago in January, we lost our only daughter. We moved nine times in the past 11 years of our married life. That’s a lot of change and disruption and well, MOVING. Priorities change when you move a lot. STUFF doesn’t look so beautiful or necessary anymore.

When we bought our first and current house, about 3 1/2 years ago, we never wanted to move again. But deep inside, we knew we might. The house was a foreclosure and needed a lot of TLC. It was a perfect house to flip. We put hours and hours of work into this place. We saved money. Very slowly, over the years, we’ve made significant transformations.

Resodding the back yard, reshingling the roof, remodeling the kitchen. Repainting basically every surface in the house and a lot outside more then once 😉 New flooring in our living space. It’s transforming into a sweet home.

Sometimes, I feel like the transformation is happening inside of me as well.

Three years ago, back in the initial stages of remodeling, I sat in the bedroom on the mattress that was laying right down on the floor,and cried my eyes out, with the realization that I was broken beyond words and that Jesus found me.

Like the woman at the well in the ancient days, He FOUND me….I didn’t find Him.

I had searched all my life for a deep identity. I felt like there was a missing key that would magically help me understand myself and life.

So gently, God has lead me along. Never giving up on me. Always taking me to a another scene. A new level in life as I am prepared for it.

I knew I was loved,forgiven, and God’s child, from a young age , but that day, I came to a deep, deep understanding. It was like scales fell off my eyes. The years of my searching and my reaching and grasping…every single bit of that desire was from HIM.

He was there.

All along, when I thought I was finding HIM,

HE was actually finding ME.

I didn’t have to worry anymore about saying or doing the perfect thing.

His finding me had nothing to do with logic (ego) or perfection.

It had everything to do with grace and believing and soul truth and BEING FOUND.

I could stop searching for that inner core that I always thought was missing. My brokenness and my weary heart that never got it right…it could REST because He found me.

From here on out, I have been on a whole new level of JOURNEY. I still ask the question, “Who am I? What is my purpose? What if I miss who I am suppose to be?”

I am learning slowly but steadily. I try new things. Just as our house took years to transform ( and technically, we could go on improving it ‘forever’) my heart and soul takes its own sweet time to grow and blossom.

I am finding that when I start listening to my soul instead of my brain, transformation happens. It’s been a long process. I’ve fallen flat on my face in the most uncomfortable, ungraceful ways, more times then I can count. I’ve misunderstood others and been misunderstood by them and goofed up and rambled off on rabbit trails and cried and laughed and worried.

There is never any level of perfection that I reach in life. I’m learning to be ok with that.

Life isn’t about perfection. It’s about always reaching forward. Opening to the next thing that shows up at your door. Listening closely to see if it’s for you. Trying something new.

Going after dreams is not as risky when you are open to learning all you can from the situation.

Like new coats of paint that totally don’t go with your intended color scheme, there is always room for change.

When my ego is in play, I’m logical and I look at facts and details and decide if it’s a good fit or not. That’s all good, but way too often, I listen to my ego instead of my heart or soul. I miss out on some of the best moments when I let fear and logic creep in and try to keep me ‘safe and perfect’.

I Watch for that deep inner tingle. That thrill of -THIS! This is something I could get into! This is the opportunity I’ve been handed.

When you feel a sensation of excitement and a deep stirring. When you wake up excited to work on your dream. Then you know you are following your soul truths.

Our ego can quickly write it off as ‘wishful thinking’. Snuff it out as an ‘ unrealistic dream’. Shame us into thinking we are NOBODY when we are actually a very real, very breathing, very valuable SOMEBODY.

It’s alarming how many dreams crash and burn before they even have a breathe.

Here’s a truth I’m learning though.

Every single dream you allow to breathe and burn in you, will lead you somewhere. Fear of following the wrong dream does not need to cripple your style or your dream.

One step leads to another.

If you are growing and changing and finding fulfillment and passion in life, it is not wasted.

So how does this play into the whole ‘sell your house and live small’ notion?

A few years ago, my husband and I were captivated by the tiny house living that was popping up all over the world. We watched documentaries, hashed and rehashed the pros and cons. It sounded so intriguing. So freeing. At the time, we had our plates absolutely full, our schedules crammed even while trying hard to enjoy the small moments. We had bills to pay and more renovations to accomplish on this house before we wanted to sell it. At the same time, we helped our friends downsize their home. As much as it looked adventurous and fun, we knew it wasn’t for us at the moment.

Fast forward to a crazy busy summer last year, hours of work put into our businesses and house, a hard season in our marriage, and a hard season in our son’s lives.

We took a deep, straight up look at ourselves over the past months.

Here’s what I found was my personal truth when I dug deeper into my life. I was dying inside. Not because I wasn’t passionate and following a good path. But because I was starving myself of soul food. All the steps I took to get to where I was had lead me to this massive realization. As productive and together and wonderful as life was, my soul was shriveling up inside of me.

When you begin listening to the deeper part of you, instead of covering it up with work and volunteering and more obligations, you will be amazed at what you hear.

Now before you read further, you need to know something about me. I never learned to Say ‘No’. Being a ‘good person’ meant always putting everyone first at the expense of myself and even my family. Ouch.

So here’s what I did. I stopped volunteering. I would not have understood myself if I had seen this version of me a few years ago. Serving is good. Working hard is great. But this was my season in life where I had to say ‘No More’.

I needed to create space for Jesus to find me in a new way.

I had to take care of my own soul because if I didn’t, I would die a bit more every day and eventually, the skeleton of who I was meant to be would rattle in my own ears.

I stopped always being ‘ON’. I started doing little things just for me that spoke to my soul. Like artwork. Reading more. I got myself some Moleskin journals even if I thought they were extravagant. I started writing my story.

God had told me to write it over a year ago, and I had thought about it in my heart, but hadn’t really gotten the words on paper. Perhaps that year of self growth WAS writing my story. I was constantly thinking and analyzing and growing as a person.

One thing I knew. I had to put more time and action into actually creating the life I loved. The life that made me truly feel alive.

I started thinking about how I wanted my day to start when I woke up in the morning. The feelings I wanted to thread through my body and home. The way I wanted to end the evening.

Life is never perfect. Ever. But we can always make adjustments in life and allow space for the things we dream about to exist. Let’s be real. When you are up multiple times at night with a baby, you likely won’t have a perfect face in the morning, a pot of french press coffee brewing and a steaming cinnamon roll with Morning Vibes playing on you iPad.

But you CAN make small changes. You can wash your face and sip coffee while you watch a You Tube video with your kids because you’re still too groggy to string words together. You can choose to spend time on a soul filling project instead of having the bathroom mirrors polished.

Now returning to this whole downsizing thing…

Fast forward several more months. My husband and I had honest conversations. Some heated, some soft, some raw, some healing.

Change brings change. There was a stirring and a movement in both of us.

A busy winter and a crazy February with nearly record snow fall and relentless subzero weather let us both gasping for breath and warmth.

All the tiny thoughts that had been stirring our soul.

All the work we’ve put into listening to what really matters to us.

Coming to a better understanding of our priorities and the steps we can take to work toward them.

They all begin to collide and morph together.

We didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to sell our house and move into a camper. This was a step by step process that took years to come to.

Seasons came and went in our lives and right now, we realize that this ONE life we have will never change, unless we change it.

We are opening spaces for change to come. To Happen.

Our initial plan was to remodel, and Air BNB our house out while we lived in the camper. Honestly, though? That would mean being more busy, and we are trying to get off the treadmill.

The more work we put into our house, the more we realized we were wanting something else. We were wanting freedom. Freedom from our stuff. Freedom from trading one busy for another. Freedom from a mortgage payment. Freedom to work and then to shut off the work and to be fully present with our family, others and ourselves. Freedom to let go of excess. Freedom to live in contentment with less stuff and more of what makes life real and complete.

I am far from living my days out perfectly. I get frustrated at the chaos of this season in my house every day. There is still painting and finishing touches to do all over this place. There is sorting and boxing up and deciding what gets sold, what gets stored (what is truly valuable to us) and what gets taken to our camper home. There are two boys who need love and security and attention. There is the fact that our house may not sell immediately. There is the being ok with that. The plan that no matter what happens, we will be following our deep intuition that this is what we want to do at this season in our lives.

It’s not like we have arrived. This will simply lead us to another place in life ( whether geographically or just through self growth, I don’t know.) It doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we are doing what we know deep in our hearts is best for us and our family right now.

When you are in the best place for YOU, you will be in the best place for those you love.

Not all our questions have to be answered right now. Not everything needs to make sense. We just need to take a step at a time. Embrace the moment , even when it’s uncomfortable, and know that it will lead us to the next thing. And the next thing.

And by the way, if you are looking for a great family home with the option of continuing the AirBNB in part of it, come chat with us….this may be the next ‘thing’ you are being led to 😉

Finding Yourself

The Obliger

I’ve been on a bit of an uncomfortable journey the last few months. Sometimes life goes so skippingly along and you find beautiful picnic spots, laughing streams, glorious mountain lakes and sun dampled fields.

Life seems to make reasonable sense, or so you convince yourself. One day, you wake to a strange sensation and you realize that not everything is as it seems, and foreign clouds are rolling in, threatening your brain waves.

What do you do when faced with change and expectations? Those deep inner rumblings reveal so very much about who you really are.

Sometimes sunshine hides the shadows of the soul and only when storms and night take over do the true colors come into existence. Sometimes it’s just a bit hard to actually get to know the person hiding out in those shadows. The person you thought you are and the person you actually are and the person you were meant to be do not always play nicely together. It can be confusing to sort them out and also a bit scary.

Recently I picked up a book at the library that has been on my list for quite awhile. It’s a book that reveals the four general ways people relate to expectations/deadlines.

To do a complete, quick survey, google the website above and check it out! There’s a lot of fascinating information to read through, and lots of great tips in understanding why you react the way you do to expectations.

But back to this whole reaction thing, recently the company I work with had an amazing promotion. You could earn a cruise to the Bahamas, by helping your team members build their businesses and build your own at the same time.

Guys, I was ON FIRE. Years ago, my husband and I had booked a cruise, just the two of us, through a deep discount offer from a credit card company. It was all paid for, and we were going to have an amazing, relaxing time. That cruise never happened because of circumstances that we felt were beyond our control at that time. Honestly? It wasn’t fair. But that is history. 😊

Now this cruise that I could earn, well, it was right down my alley. I wanted to take my husband on that cruise. I knew about hard work and facing fears and dreaming big. I even felt like God wanted me on that cruise in a really big way. I had a talk with Him about it, and He told me to go for it….to jump all in and work hard and He would take care of the rest. So I did.

One of my default modes is busyness. I can stay up crazy hours of the night and run on fumes the next day if I have a fire burning in me. That’s what I did. I worked until midnight and one night until 2 AM . I had goals, baby, and nothing was going to stop me. I could feel it happening. The magic danced in front of my eyes. I tasted the sting of ocean water. I was up early to accomplish more goals. I hired a sitter for my boys once a week so I could have uninterrupted time to work. I lived, breathed, and dreamed work. I bolstered myself up with other people’s hard work as well. I watched videos, took training, planned events and lived my business as whole heartedly as I could.

The weeks slipped by and I realized that only a miracle would get me on that ship. Spots were filling up fast and I still had miles to go. Then the rejections began to set in. It was nothing personal. Just walls and closed doors every way I turned. I was tired. I felt like my family was not getting the care they deserved. The self doubt crept in and one morning, I knew that this was it. I would likely not make it. I sat on the bathroom floor and bawled my eyes out. I was mopping tears from my face, ugly crying, angry, and horribly disappointed in myself. Everything I had worked so hard for seemed to be at a standstill. I heard only silence and the scoff of my own heart. I was eventually asked to accompany my friend as her guest, and my heart thrilled with the hope that I actually HAD heard God correctly and I really would go. Circumstances prevented me from going with her as well, and my heart died a bit more.

Though this painful disappointment, I learned some vital things about myself. As much as I wanted to be on that cruise, I wanted to prove something to myself even more. I wanted to prove that I could do something hard. That I was not a fraud or a fake. When I didn’t meet my own high expectations that were truly a far stretch, I began a mantra of self blame. I felt like a failure and a loser and all the times I never stuck something out came back to haunt me. All the lies I believed as a girl pounded on my mind’s door and I felt like a scared, confused, helpless child who could never measure up to expectations of others. While in my heart, I knew I was going to be ok eventually, my mind was a battlefield of questions and accusation.

One thing became evident. I was feeling worse about ‘failing’ in the eyes of others then I was about not going on that trip. I was more disappointed in myself then I was about not getting on that boat. I questioned the very core of who I was and was ruthless in the pursuit of discovering it. Ironically, I faced a paradox. The more I dove into the core of my heart, the more I discovered that most of all, I needed to give myself grace and space and quiet. I needed to find time to sit in silence and learn the art of stillness. I needed to stretch into the fullness of who I was and let God lead me into who I was to become. I needed to let go of the idea of perfection and revel in the beauty of humanity. I needed to embrace myself so I could embrace others.

Reading the Four Tendency’s was a clarifying reality check for me.

As a general summery, there are 4 ways, that people relate to expectations.

The Obliger- “You can count on me. I’m counting on you to count on me.”

The Questioner- “I’ll comply – if you convince me why. ”

The Rebel- ” You can’t make me , and neither can I.”

The Upholder- ” Discipline is my freedom.”

I am a classic Obliger. It’s why in the past, I have volunteered for things, and then unfairly expected my husband to help out or pick up the slack when I was too tired or overwhelmed to finish. It’s why I have a hard time knowing what I want to do or when I want to do it….” what ever you want is fine with me.” Classic Obliger, Anita.

I am happy when others are happy. I have set expectations for myself that no one even asked me to set simply because I took the responsibility to do it a few times…so doesn’t everyone expect me to continue? I also bury myself in helping others and working my tail off, then crashing into bed, feeling sorry for myself because no one appreciates my hard work or tells me to take a break. If you are not an Obliger, this is likely Greek to you. Why would some one work themselves to the bone and then expect sympathy? Why wouldn’t you take care of yourself so you can perform at higher levels of efficiency ? And why is everyone else’s problem your responsibility?

On the other hand, I am great at caring for others. I can sacrifice hours of my time quite happily and if I know that going to the gym is important to my husband, then I will go work myself into a sweat. I give. I love. I laugh. But I also burn out.

My burnouts are not pretty or glorious. They look like a shut down and feel like a rebel. I have unhealthily buried myself in ‘another project ‘ in the past to avoid feeling that rebel. Part of my struggle over the past months has been a deep disappointment in myself. I found myself saying, ” I NEVER stick to anything successfully.”

Here’s the eye opener. Being an Obliger has that exact tendency. In the past, I was seldom given credit at sticking something out, because I was constantly flitting from idea to idea. One helpful ‘progect’ to the next. Life also threw me lots of curve balls that made long term accountability impossible in some areas. I jumped around a lot. That is prime country for Obligers.

As an Obliger, without accountability and deep mindfulness we can easily fall into the trap of performing for the love of performing for others. Losing our hearts for the expectations of pleasing our family and friends can look like the deepest satisfaction, but one day, we wake up, and realize that we have lost ourselves and our vision in the progress. What started as a good thing has morphed into an unfamiliar sense of overwhelm. That’s where silence, rest, and self care come in. That’s where goals need to be revisited, genuine gifts called out, and lost of praying done. It’s where accountability to oneself and others needs to be firmly established and the curtain raised on a new beginning. It’s where self care is not selfish.

I’m still trying to find my way, but through this whole realization, I came to a fuller understanding of why I have been so disappointed in myself in the past. I have an impossibly hard time of keeping any commitment I make to myself. I need people around me to remind me of my goals and how important they are before I wonder off and get sidetracked in emptying the dishwasher or chasing another idea of service.

I also remembered that earlier this year, God asked me to write my story. That perhaps He wanted me to work so hard and then miss that cruise so He could get my attention and tell me to take time for other important things as well, like following through with His direction. That I need accountability to sit down and write daily instead of doing the 100 endless other things that are never going to go away. That dreams are worth pursuing and my company will have more great adventures available in the future.

I’m an Obliger and I am a romantic and although it’s crazy unhandy at times, I know that I have a job to do in this world that is specific for me. I’m proud of my God. Proud of the work and love He has poured into me. I will shine. It may be a strange glow of rubbing my lamp at midnight, but with His grace, it will be beautiful.

Join me? The Rebel. The Questioner. The Upholder. The other Obliger. ( by the way, we Obligers dominate the population according to research) ☺️

Together we will find our strengths and change the world.

Finding Yourself

When You Get Dumped On

Sometimes life just rains on you and you have no choice but to take the drenching.
On Friday, I helped Steve on his lawn route. Our plan was to quickly whip through them and have a relaxing evening at home and leave early the next morning for Glacier for a refreshing weekend of camping.
It was raining when we woke up but the blue sky toward the east looked promising. We packed Sky and Kobe into the jeep with some snacks and toys and after a bit of tying loose ends up we got started.
The rain wouldn’t stop. In fact, it got harder. I mowed while Steve trimmed. We got wet. Very wet. But we finished that lawn and moved on to another. This time, Steve  used our smaller push mower on the wettest part of the lawn so we wouldn’t leave ruts. I used the big one on the level part. I mowed over a dead bird. It stank. And the mower clogged with wet grass. I had to stop and unclog it. Now if you’ve never unclogged a mower you are lucky. Its discusting and gross and filthy. Not to mention the dead bird. I was afraid I would encounter guts or a leg. Shivers. It was still raining.

Every time we decided to stop, the rain would slow or let up and the sun would shine in the blue sky. So we would keep mowing. And more rain would whip through. Just when I had dried off and warmed up, the heavens would open and rain would pelt again.

We thought about the fun weekend we had planned. We were already wet and dirty and it wasn’t worth stopping, so we slogged along. The mower overheatedwhen the cotton wood trees’ cotton clogged the filter. We had to blow it out. Kobe was grouchy.

By evening we were exhausted but had only one more lawn to do. It was a big one but is usually a fun mow. So we girded up the loins of our minds and got to work. I saw a huge dark cloud covering a few miles radius overhead but I thought I could quickly finish. It started to drench again and I knew I would cry if I didn’t make a joke out of it. So I pretended Kierra was in Heaven with a squirt gun, spraying me down for the third time. That helped. But a half hour later, it wasn’t funny anymore. My hands were freezing. I was soaking and the cloud looked worse. It was raining steady and cool and strong and I just wanted to be DONE. Then it rained harder and harder and suddenly i knew without a doubt that it would hail. I parked the mower and leaped off and ran as fast as my freezing wet legs would take me. By the time I got to the jeep it was pelting hail and rain and the wind was breathtaking. I launched into the front seat as the torrential downpour outdid itself by another whole new level.
Kobe and I hunkered in the back and laughed as the whole vehicle shook.

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Because that’s all we could do. We couldn’t finish mowing since there was streams of water rushing where there had been dry ground. We went home and warmed up and slept like crazy. This morning Steve finished mowing and a bit before lunch time we left for Glacier. They say it snowed there yesterday. We are hoping for the best and that the weather truly will warm up as predicted!
It may be raining on our parade but that doesn’t mean we can’t choose joy and love the blue sky and Sunshine that’s warming the west today.
No matter what life dumps on you this weekend….your not alone! I had to apologize to my little guy last night for my impatience. Today is new and fresh and we are focusing on here and now and a road trip.  No rain storm lasts forever! There is always now to choose to trust and love and singing in the rain.

Finding Yourself

He Finds Me

I came to a realization .

A slow dawning that is has been a long time in the rising. 

I always thought that WE search and seek for God. That we give our selves to Jesus and ‘find peace’. 

Now I know, there is submission ,etc. but without getting technical with any terms ….

I want to shout it from the bottom of my heart….

JESUS found ME!

Just as The sheperd found the lost lamb. Just as the Woman swept her floor until she  found  coin. Just as the Light streamed down on Saul and found  his darkest needs…..

So I came to realize that JESUS finding me was a totally different situation then ME finding Him.

Because when I am finding Him I am still DOING and SAVING and trying to BE. I am reaching and struggling and finding satisfaction in ME. ( one of my weakness is always trying to be better and never achieving what I feel is enough) (my striving aalways only lasts for a bit until I think I need to do more or start all over again)

But when I realize my need and my brokenness. That He already has been In the depths of my addiction of striving. That He knows the magnitude of my fears. That the only way to true freedom is to stop the struggle and beg HIM to find me. When I choose that, I am giving up and giving Him control and giving Him every atom of glory and power .
And again, I realize that I am broken and incompetent and incomplete, and only by HIM can I be found. 

Only through Him I am worthy to be His daughter.

And even that is a mystery.

This changes my life. It changes my thinking. It changes my future and covers my past. 

This thing of HIM saying I am FOUND!

And when I get overwhelmed and don’t know what to do, then I still my heart and whisper, 

“find me, Jesus!”

And He does.