Healing Heart

Alive

It’s the twelfth day of 2020.

It’s taken me 12 days to put words to the thoughts in my head.

And even now, they come out stumbly and awkward.

It’s Sunday evening and it’s black dark outside and the temperature is plummeting below zero.

It’s January and 6 years ago, on this very day I was bringing our three year old daughter home from another hospital stay with no idea that in a few short weeks, she would physically leave us for the rest of our earthly lives.

I wept as I drove home in the gathering dusk earlier tonight, after picking up Vitamin C and Echinacea and Throat Coat tea for my son.

I wept because I wanted to spend another day or month or year or forever with our daughter ALIVE.

I wept because I miss the feminine, sweet, little girlishness she brought into our lives.

Sometimes death feels so dead.

I know there is always Life somewhere.

I just need to choose to see it.

This year, I chose the word ALIVE as my focus.

Not because I wanted to hide the pain of death. Not because I want to live every day in a flurry of activity or growth.

I chose it because I want to remind myself of LIFE.

I want to remind myself that no matter how my heart and emotions feel, I am vitally ALIVE.

I have been making a running record in my journal of proof that I am ALIVE.

Some may think it a gratitude list if they saw it.

It’s more then that to me. While I’m grateful for everyone of those things I list, it’s also proof to me that LIFE is still happening. Right this minute.

Dirt under fingernails.

Homes for crickets.

Green in Winter.

I stand with myself and weep in the death of our daughter. It’s a healthy thing to grieve. But death can be so much more then physical death.

Death can be lived in the heart and the mind and this is where I stand my ground and come ALIVE.

I refuse to be soul stuck in the clutches of shame and fear and selfish thinking. I refuse to ruminate on things I cannot change. I refuse to believe my self worth is based on my emotions and thoughts and others opinion of me. I refuse to manipulate myself and others by doing and saying things in a passive aggressive manner. I refuse to allow other people’s issues to control my own personal mental and physical health.

I will fall down flat often this year. I know I will. But I also known that I am not the sum total of my mistakes.

Falling does not mean I am dead. It means I am human and it means I have an opportunity to grow.

I am reminding myself of my own humanity and my own power …through the wonderful grace of my Creator.

I am reminding myself by writing lists about being ALIVE.

Steamed cream in my coffee. So frothy and smooth on my tongue.

The ache in my shoulders after a day of work.

Fractured morning light on the living room wall.

The smell of icy winter.

The way my son lies, breathing in and out.

Sleep music wafting through the room.

Footsteps of my husband downstairs.

Writing down the present makes me more aware. It reminds me of the important things happening all around me and keeps me from getting stuck on things I cannot change. Things in the past. Things in the future. Things in the present that are out of my control.

I want to be ALIVE this year.

To listen without judgment.

To give true empathy without patronizing or trying to fix things.

I want to feel my heart healing.

I want to watch the woman inside of me blossoming.

I want to own my story and live my present.

I want to feel the joy and the hard and the mundane.

I want to remind myself that ALIVE is what my soul is. That no death will take that from me.

Death is conquered already. My Divine Creator is the essence of ALIVE and He has invited me into His presence.

ALIVE .

EMBRACE IT. THIS ONE WONDERFUL MIRACULOUS LIFE.

Nature Awakens You

When You Feel Frozen

Hold space.

Let the deep stillness

Of December frozen over.

Move you to realms where

streams of clear

Still find their way

Beneath the stark reflection

Of reality.

The ice that spreads it’s face

Mirrors what is above it.

But light reflects from greater heights.

Shadows are mere mirages of

What surrounds you.

There is no shame in that.

For life flows true

Beneath the surface.

Do not forget that who you are

Is waiting for the spring time.

The stirring and the breakup

With the cold.

And always, truth emerges from your core

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!

Healing Heart

Chasing 2 AM

It was 2 AM and my toddler was crying out in his sleep, thrashing his body around desperately.

I comforted him the best I could and he calmed down.

But I?

I was hit with a memory. It washed over me with intense clarity and I lay there in bed, my insides falling out all over again.

My leg began to ache in the exact spot it had ached way back in my childhood when I thought I had growing pains.

Only this time, I’m 30 something and growing pains happen to me heart, not my leg. So they must be connected.

I knew what I had to do. Wide awake and heart pounding, I pushed blankets and pillows around my toddler so he wouldn’t roll out of bed. Shivering and weak, I carefully made my way downstairs.

I put water on for tea.

I was shaking in the stillness and the fear that this memory clenched my heart and body in. It was strange because the memory was an emotional one more then a physical one. They are entwined.

Brew the tea. Make it Lemon Balm and Lavender. It aids relaxation. It promotes calm.

I curled up with a blanket and my pen and notebook and I let it out.

This time, I wasn’t going to force myself back to sleep. This time I wasn’t going to pretend it was nothing. To shame myself into believing that my reaction was overkill.

This time I explored it and I chased it down and although I don’t have all the answers, I found peace. I found release. I gave myself a hug instead of criticism. I gave the other person grace instead of resentment.

I found forgiveness and I gave forgiveness.

The pain in my leg is nearly gone.

My second cup of tea is steeping.

I sit in sweet silence after my fear and ravaging and I eat a piece of pumpkin cake. Slowly. Intentionally. The flavor of cinnamon and cream cheese and the dense steady texture of baked pumpkin.

I feel like perhaps this was the remembrance that Jesus spoke of when he asked us to partake of his bread and body. The love and nourishment He meant for us to receive.

Broken for me. Broken for you.

Communion with The Divine comes in different forms.

I choose to thank and embrace and be loved. To feel held and cherished with every bite of pumpkin cake.

With sips of warm, comforting tea.

Everyday cutlery. Every day food.

Partake slowly and know that you are connected to life and love and nourishment.

You are connected to the Divine.

Healing Heart

When You Fear the Questions

Our heart struggles to find meaning

To know the answers to the core questions

And we hide when we don’t.

Shame is a trap that suffocates the light from the soul

Fear keeps our questions looking like monsters

Misery tell you that you should be better then this

And still.

You sit in silence

And wonder why the questions

Have no pat answers

And when they do,

You question the perfect existence of them

Because nothing in life is perfect

Divine peace comes with divine intervention

When nothing makes sense

When death steals

And loneliness engulfs

When the past hurts and the present is survival

When you know you have so much but

The questions still burn in your brain

And more then anything else,

You FEAR.

You fear the questions

Where they will take you

You fear the answers

How they are waiting for you.

The discomfort of growth is never an easy rising

“Flying is not the hard part

It’s where you go when you do”

-Boris the Goose in Balto III

Choose to trust as the geese.

Trust the air.

Trust your natural instincts.

Trust the migration.

Trust when you cannot control it and it makes no logical sense.

You can be confident and ask questions at the same time.

Follow forward to the Divine Mystery whether you have answers or not.

And don’t forget to enjoy life as you go.

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.

Nature Awakens You

The Nighthawk and Freedom

Every evening, just at the the witching hour, the Night Hawk flew on strong wings over the field of wheat and shrilled her cry into the air and dove wild and free. Jabbing the air for morsels of food.

She flew so high, I could scarcely see her but her piercing keening call echoed downward and she would dart into view in a blink.

She came. Every evening and sometimes late into the night that whole summer and no one asked her to leave .

The space was hers. The wind her companion. The air her buoyant cushion and the mosquitos her meal ticket.

Wide open spaces spoke to her heart and only when she was free, diving above the golden wheat fields, did she really feel alive.

GLORIOUSLY ALIVE. 

Sometimes coming alive means risking appearing totally mundane. Totally foolish. Totally erratic. Totally raspy.

TOTALLY SHOWING UP IN THE PLACE YOUR HEART FEELS MOST ALIVE. 

We fly.

We dive.

We follow the currants of our heart. And we embrace the space that opens for us. The provision. The strength. And the wonderful, wonderful freedom.

TRUE FREEDOM IS NOT A WORD. IT’S A FEELING. 

“If the Son has set you free.

You are unquestionably FREE.”