Sunday, December 30, 2012

Sunday Musings ~ Laughter is Good for the Soul

Is there an acceptable age at which you simply accept that you are going to sleep with a heating pad EVERY night?? :)

I ask because this seems to have become my new normal. *Sigh*

And here is something....

Yes!

I mean...besides the obvious "duh"...I seem to be acquiring some state of lactose-intolerance as I get older so I can't even enjoy ice cream anymore without getting a bellyache that just isn't worth it :)) (I just cracked myself up.)...Now, if I become allergic to coffee...just go ahead and bury me.

So this one just happened to me yesterday...

I hate when this happens!!

...and *Sigh*...

Finally, a video that literally had me laughing and crying...I have never worn Spanx, and there is NO way I want to now.  I absolutely love Melissa McCarthy...Melissa McCarthy and her Spanx

So...a little laughter.  It has been a long week, a long month, and a long year.  Laughter is the best medicine, and it helps me keep my crazy life in perspective. ;)

Happy Sunday! :)))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Do Better ~ Be Better

"In the end we only regret the chances we didn't take, the relationships we were afraid to have, and the decisions we took too long to make."

Well...okay...that pretty well sums it up.

Seriously, I love this quote, and I do not find it a bit strange that I came across it today as I work on my 2013 Goals.  The sad part of working on my goals for next year, is that as I review my 2012 Goals....I checked off so few of them.  Okay....I only checked off one of them. *Sigh* AND *Ugh*

I even came up with my own hash tag #2013dobetterbebetter, and I believe that might be my overarching goal for 2013. Yup. :)

I have been writing out goal lists since I was nine years old.  It was born out of the sudden chaos in my home life; it has survived as a real anchor for me.  It helps me stay focused and avoid some of my private fears and weaknesses.  One of them, getting too caught up in my own head. I just rolled my eyes as I wrote this...now chuckling to myself. 

I digress...

Fear is paralyzing.  Even at nine years old, my survival instincts kicked in, and I fought for normalcy and control in my little world that felt like it had been hit by an atom bomb.  In some ways it had, and don't let anyone ever try and sell you that physical pain is more damaging than emotional...they are a liar.

So now, as an adult, I use this goal making skill set to pull myself from my hidey hole of fear in my head, and move into the life that God intends for me...that I was born for...where happiness lives and fears die.  That might sound a little dramatic, but I am a firm believer that fear is of the devil, and frankly, his weapon of choice with us...with me.  I also believe that it is true no matter what religion you practice...all religions I have studied tend to emphasize love over fear.  Hmmm....

I digress...Again. :)

Sooooo....

Back to my goal list for 2013. :) 

I went back to Franklin Covey basics (I have been a Franklin Covey addict since 2008) and re-read their recommended goal planning basics.  I then tweaked them for my "special needs" and broke out four overarching categories: personal, professional, passion/dreams, financial.  I then sub-divided each of those into physical, social/emotional, mental, spiritual (Franklin Covey recommends these).  Financial was my lone holdout...it really has to be its own nightmare category...and lets be honest, it impacts EVERYTHING. :)

Once I started throwing my long goal list into categories...I quickly recognized part of how I had gotten out of whack in 2012. *Sigh*  Read ~ girl needs balance ~ *Sigh*

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So. Here we are.  A new year less than 72 hours away.  I have to say that I feel this year coming on more than I have others, and I know that because it has taken me nearly eight hours to draft this post.  This is weighty stuff for me; I sure hope it helps someone out there reading it...

A little over six months ago while back in Little Rock on business, I sat in Fantastic China (eating a FABULOUS dinner), and I contemplated the options that lay before me...personal, professional, passion/dreams, and financial.  Nope, I didn't plan that correlation...:)  I sat there making list after list of pros and cons...and honestly, heartbreak.  By the time my fortune cookie came that night, I was completely perplexed at my lot in life.  When I cracked it open it read, "You will make a change for the better within the year."  My mouth literally dropped open.  I took a picture of the fortune, sent it to a few close friends, and I made it the wallpaper on my IPhone (where it remains today).  I had ZERO idea what the heck it meant, but I knew without a doubt that whatever lay ahead was exactly where I needed to be; that cookie gave me a shot of much needed hope.  {Thanks God.}

I write all of that to make this point.  For all of my planning, my great ideas, my hopes, my dreams, my passions, my loves, my friends, my career, my family, my faith...change happens...Every. Day.  We can't stop change.  We can't control it.  We can manipulate it.  We can roll with it.  We can adapt to it.  We CANNOT stop it.  Just say no to trying to...and while you are at it...stop whining about it too.

Sorry....soapbox digression...:)

I knew on a fateful Sunday afternoon in late January of this year that my life, as I knew it, was over.  Change happens in an instant.  It has taken me just under a year to move my life forward, to unwind (to what degree I can (and honestly want to)) my life from a path I both loved and wanted more than I wanted breath. Sometimes I feel like I spent 2012 being rolled in the surf, crashed by waves, slammed into the bottom, and finally, mercifully tossed upon the shoreline...battered, bruised, gasping for air, head pounding, and more than slightly disoriented.  It is funny (not ha ha) to look back at the difference a year can make.

Everybody has their limits..

Shaking my head...

All of that said, planning is AWESOME.  I love it. I need it. I want it. It is good for me...for my personality.  Planning though, does not replace or prohibit change or the will of others OR the will of God from turning all your plans to dust. 

I have lots of glorious plans for my life in 2013....in my personal life, professional life, in living more of my passions and dreams....and financial (ah the great equalizer in planning...we all have to contend with this category).  Overall though, I want to do better in 2013.  I want to BE better in 2013.  No matter what happens....those can be two I can check off the list this time next year. :) ;)

So here is to 2013...to the goal lovers, big planners, dreamers, doers, change agents, lovers of life, to those who will have the courage to meet every day with their very best.  Here is to doing better with each day given to us like a beautifully wrapped gift.  Here is to being better to ourselves and to others.

"When a goal matters enough to a person, that person will find a way to accomplish what at first seemed impossible." ~ Nido Qubein

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The End Is In Site

The end is in site...

As 2012 comes to an end, and 2013 roars in (at least I hope it roars in), I am left being very reflective....okay, I am usually reflective, but this time of year...even I kick it up a notch. :)


I have never been more grateful for a year to end.  Seriously.

I find it funny too that the weather outside is frightful which causes all of us to look at our calendars and planners and nearly scream as everything has to be re-scheduled due to power outages and travel nightmares.  For all of our good intentions, mother nature reminds us all that she can change the game with the flick of her wrist (so to speak).


Hmmm...

It is like we are all forced to focus on the basics...heat, hot water, a refrigerator that doesn't encompass all of our food in a pile of snow in the front yard (yes, some of my friends have resorted to this new-fangled method of keeping their items chilled), and our family's personal safety.

All of this reminds me that in my darkest moments of 2012, I swore to myself that I would find a way to simplify my life.  Simplicity.  How could I find it?  Where did I go wrong in losing it?

Now, I sit here typing in my gloves, covered in blankets, a crisp 52 degrees in my house, and I am laughing at the irony. Laughing.

I look up. Smile. Wink. Chuckle. "Got it God." :)

Ahhh...the lessons.  Will they ever stop??

So, I am working on ways I can continue to simplify my life.  I will enter 2013 lighter (physically, emotionally, stress levels, etc.), and I have to believe it is a good thing.  I also remain thankful for a cute little boy (Sam) that had that off-the-cuff comment so long ago which reminded me that I had become consumed with spinning the plates in my life...instead of living my life. *Sigh*

I don't want to ever have to be reminded of that...again.

My life is full of lessons...all around me...Every. Day.  The best gift...the best lesson(s) I have ever had...are three beautiful children who teach me...constantly...how to be better...and what matters most.


So here is to the pause button we are all getting this week.  Let us all take the time to savor the pause even as it throws our lives into chaos.  For, in time, our lives will be back to 110 mph....plates spinning and all...:)))

***Thank you to God, my Sis and her beautiful family...for a beautiful, slow, calm, easy going, puzzle making, game playing, movie watching, great food, white Christmas...I love you. Dearly.***

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 18

Gail brought me the most joy today because Gail is helping me to bring my body back to "me"...

I have gone to Gail for deep tissue and therapeutic massages for over 10 years.  She can do everything from a nice simple massage to borderline physical therapy.  She is licensed and honestly...amazing.  I have referred dozens of people to her, and I have yet to hear one negative thing about her or her work. Back in high school, I was in a bad wreck. I had permanent damage and finding Gail 10 years ago was the most relief I had ever found.  Period.  Up until two years ago, I had a standing monthly appointment with her.

That is the background...

As I started working in Little Rock more and more this fall, and now permanently, I called Gail to get in to see her; I knew I needed help.  I have had a standing appointment with her every 1-2 weeks for a couple of months now.  I cannot even repeat the words she has used to describe the state of my body. *Sigh*

Let me just say that stress is one of those tricky things that you know when you are stressed, but you don't know the extent of how said stress is impacting you...mind, spirit, and body...until you start working to counteract it (i.e., heal thyself).  *Good Grief*

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I have been joking with Gail after each session, "Boy you really worked me over this time; you are back to the old days (deep, deep tissue)." To which Gail would politely chuckle each time, "I'm going easy on you." Deflated, with aching muscles...EVERY muscle, I would shake my head.  Gail is one of the sweetest, most encouraging people.  She continues to remind me that I put my body through hell for 20 months, and it will take awhile to unwind all of that built up stress. *Sigh*

That gets us to today....

My hip has been killing me.  Talk about feeling my age.  I mean, it impacts my sleep, my walk...it hurts nearly non-stop.  I dreaded telling Gail about it today before my session.  I also dreaded, when I did tell her, that I had not taken some Ibuprofen beforehand. :( 

Let me just say, my mascara was ruined by the end of my 90 minute session.  Pure pain!  When she had gotten to my hands, there was shooting pain through my entire hand to my finger tips while she worked on it. I asked her about it, and she explained the amount of stress one can hold just in their hands, their fingers even.  *Big Sigh*

Before I left today, Gail gently reminded that we would get there...I would find my "real" body again. She said, "Honey, you have a lot of built up **** for us to work out of there."  I had to laugh.

I realize all of this may sound like a running advertisement for Gail, and if it makes you want to call her...I would recommend it and she certainly deserves all the praise I can heap on her. 

That said, selfishly this is a commentary on how we can let ourselves go...I am not talking necessarily about weight or wrinkles or the like...I am focused on stress.  I have put my body through hell over the past two years.  I willingly, like an idiot, sacrificed my health and well being for work, people, things...all with good intentions mind you, but the cost was too high.  As I pay the bill, so to speak, in unwinding the physical damage, I have realized the price was way too high....for me. 

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Yesterday morning I wrote a long note of thanks (deep gratitude really) to one of my oldest and dearest friends.  In it, I noted a particular painful lesson I had learned this year "in a year of painful lessons"...I found it stunning that I am so lucid regarding these lessons...and not under a bus. *Insert Nervous Laughter Here*

Which reminded me...

Years ago, I would name my years before they started....an overarching theme for my hopes for the year to come.  As I look back on 2012, it has been "The Year of Lessons"...one right after the other.  I may have whiplash (which would explain some of my physical pain :))....AND I am okay with that...I am grateful that I am still learning...growing...trying.

I digress...

Bottom line, I feel tremendous, overwhelming joy today for the healing that Gail is bringing to my physical body.  It is slower than I want it to be, but it is getting better...stronger.  Ironically, as my muscles heal, so does my spirit.  As the stress is being worked out of the deep recesses of my body, I am letting go of the many lessons with a big old check mark beside each and every one of them. Check. Done. Next.

Thank you to Miss Gail.  For being a healer and a friend.  For beating me up, bruising me, and reminding me that there is great joy in healing.

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Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Art of Letting Go

Holy Cow!

I am an impatient person.

My name is Heather, and I am impatient.

Envision four letter words here.

Wow.

I have had a rough few days.  Professionally, I am on an unreal high with unreal lows.  Personally, I am having some severe lows.  Internally, I am having to face some things about myself that I am NONE too happy about facing. *Ugh*

I am impatient.  I want everything yesterday.  I have ZERO idea how long an average task takes to complete.

I am Type A and OCD on a good day....and to the extreme on a not so good day.

I am passionate, and driven, and guilt-ridden over where I am not....where I should be.....what I should be taking care of...who I am potentially letting down.

*Sigh*

I am a girl who is in desperate need of letting go, and I...for the life of me...cannot figure out how to accomplish that....

Bigger *Sigh*....


When I spoke to my "Mama" this morning to update her on some family news, she said baby, you need to be here with me....and I cried like a little girl knowing she was right, but that I couldn't be there with her, letting her take care of me (emotionally and otherwise)...because I needed to be here...for others...More. *Sigh*

Being an adult...Sucks.

I am smiling, for a moment, because I realize that one of the amazing things about women is their ability to absorb the enormity of a moment with all of its responsibilities and guilt, while being simply a woman...a mother, a spouse, an employee.  We really are remarkable creatures....as are men, but right now, this is a post about women...and me. ;) :)

I digress....

I am a woman on the edge of a major meltdown at any given breath...

Funny how the most stressful part of that statement is the fact that I am a woman that is convinced that I am the only one that knows that fact....

Hmmmm....

Maybe we should share, more often, the stresses of our life.  What makes us tick.  What makes us crazy.  What makes us want to decapitate someone or someones. :)

Just kidding. Kinda. Sorta. ;)

For all of my VERY Christian friends...don't be offended...

Jeff Foxworthy once joked, "This is what men are thinking...I want a beer, and I want to see something naked."  The bigger joke is, that women really want a glass of wine and to see something naked.  The over-arching point is that we ALL want something to take us away from the reality of our life....

....a grandmother in failing health, a new job with new stresses, disappointing others, bills, Christmas, our kids, dating again, parents' failing health, family stress, the Holidays...Period., work (in general), money (in general), family drama (in general)....

Life. Is. Hard...On our best days.

Period.

One of my oldest and dearest friends will be in LR this weekend, and I cannot wait to see him.  That said, he has a funeral to attend tomorrow for an old, dear friend....I have work up to my eyeballs...and stresses beyond that....

Life. Is. Hard. 

Play. Well. With. Others.

Each and every one of us has NO idea what the other is facing OR going through in our lives.  It is SO important for each of us to go into every situation with compassion....with humility....with empathy.


I love the photo above...actually, I have loved it for a long time, but I have never figured out a way to include it on a post. Now I have...this is SO true.  It would bode well for ALL of us to remember this in our daily walks.

I love my life. I am blessed girl. I simply have challenging days...just like...Everybody. Else.

Hug someone a little tighter tonight.  Send someone you have been thinking of a handwritten note or e-mail.  Trust me...you have NO idea what it will mean to that person. Follow your heart. :)

Life, all too often, is the art of letting go...

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Monday, December 3, 2012

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 3

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There is great joy in being a woman.  There is tremendous joy to be found in being a woman surrounded by other women working to make ALL women's lives better.

I have learned a great deal from being a part of the Women's Foundation of Arkansas.  I have so much more to learn from this organization, the women who are a part of it, and those that support it.

I found it strange that I spent an all too brief 24 hours with two of the best women I know (Big Sis Treva and Mama Doretha) and then got to spend a long evening with some of my favorite women at the WFA board meeting (and then Christmas dinner).  It was a BIG day of great women for me. 

Hmmm....

The lesson is that strong, great, wonderful, glorious women bring me and my life tremendous joy.  My goal over the coming days, weeks, months, and years is to spend more and more time around great women. I want to learn how to be a better woman from those I spend quality time around.


I have seen this poster before, and I simply love it.  I am looking for a large print for my new office.  I find it inspiring, and I need that...Every. Day.

Here is to the joy found in good women...for all of us. :)))

P.S. Special thoughts and prayers today for one of the strongest women I know, my Granny Dee who is 90 years young. She is not 100% right now, and we all hope and pray that she is feeling better very soon.  Her tremendous strength (and pushing of me) has been inspirational in my life...especially as of late.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

31 Days of Joy ~ Day 2

Laughter.

There is great joy in laughter.

This morning I am under the weather, tremendous headache, too much to do suddenly, thinking and worrying about someone I love...you know...one of those mornings.

I then come across this...

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...I laughed out loud (yes Sam....embarrassingly loud).  I really don't want to talk about the fact that it took me reading it twice to "get it"...

Laughter is beautiful.  Laughter is healing.  Laughter is...joy in action.

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Who knew that adding a little laughter to your life could be so good for you?? :)

I am one of those odd ducks that believes we should spend a lot more time laughing.  I believe laughter is the great equalizer.  I am determined to add more laughter, and therefore joy, into my daily life.  I am making time to read the comics, incorporating funny books into my reading pile, and even making an active choice in watching funny movies more often than dramas.

Last night I had a wonderful dinner with old friends and a new friend, and it is not the food that I remember this morning (okay...maybe a little ;))...it is the belly laughter between us.

Laughter heals. Period.

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THIS is the story of my life. :)))

The JOY of laughter.  Love.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Saturday, December 1, 2012

31 Days of Joy ~ Day One

 

I had a slightly insane November.  One major LOL. :)  So, I opted to skip the whole "30 days of Gratitude" (which I did last November) as I worked my way through transition after transition one year in the making. *Sigh*  Knowing that December would be one new beginning after new beginning, I thought it would be more fun this year to do a "31 Days of Joy" for December.  I look at it as much about what I learn about joy each new day, as what I am experiencing that brings me joy.  I hope you will enjoy following me on this journey of joy over the next 31 days.

"Joy, it’s always a function of gratitude ~ and gratitude is always a function of perspective. If we are going to change our lives, what we’re going to have to change is the way we see." ~ Ann Voskamp

Last night I was told by one of my dearest friends to let the circumstances of late marinate today (Saturday) and then move forward to all that is waiting for me. Sage advice. (Note:  I expect nothing less from this person. :))  Of course, they also said that I had acquired some jadedness in my personality through this last experience, that it didn't look good on me, and it was time to purge it.  Ouch.  That hurt.  Truth hurts.  Don't you just hate it when someone has your number. *Sigh* :)))
 
I am tremendously grateful to have so many who still love and believe in me, and in my better self, after putting them (and myself) through so much this past couple of years.  If this were the beginning of gratitude posts, that would be number one. :)
 
Today is the beginning of so many new things.  The biggest is this...Joy.  I alone control the amount of joy that I allow and make time for in my life.  I alone.  Last night I was keenly reminded of my better self.  Who I was, or am, but definitely who I could be...Who I will be. :)
 
Last night as I walked up and down a street that soon will become a second home to me, I was reminded of all that is possible with new beginnings.  I have to be honest...my life has not turned out anything as I thought it would at age 5, 9, 16, 18, 25, 35, 40...and that seems to be the latest lesson. Good. Grief. :)
 
So in the interest of purging the old...at a pivotal moment this past week I was reminded of why I had made the choices I had made nearly nine months ago...I took a deep breath, and I reminded myself of all I had learned (in all areas of my life)...lessons learned (very important), of all that I had accomplished in that single day with attorneys, budgets, non-profits, an amazing friend I love so much, consultants, the random fresh cut bouquet of roses I was given, the making of a new friend, seeing an old friend, a lovely friend thanking me for my coaching (though I quickly thanked them...oh my).  In that deep breath, I was reminded that my life goes on.  I keep moving.  I keep learning.  I keep trying.  Mainly I keep smiling. 
 
And if winning matters to you, I still win.  My win just looks a lot different than what others expect it to look like...and the truth is, I like mine better.  Hence the lesson.
 
I was reminded earlier this week that I am richly loved, and that is the final lesson of the purge (and slightly sad that we humans have to constantly be reminded of it) and most certainly the way to kick off a month of celebrating joy.  While the power of any relationship (business, love, friendship, family, etc.) may always be held by the one who shows (appears) that they care the least, the real joy is found in showing just how much you care and who cares if it is more than the other(s).  I have learned some tremendous lessons in being and showing my vulnerability.  Some thought they would break me of it, but the joke is on them.  What I learned, was there is great joy and strength in showing your vulnerability.  I actually learned I need to show it more, not less. (imagine my tongue being stuck out now)...:)))

Sometimes the real joy for me comes in being brave.
 
 
Recently I bemoaned the endless lessons of my life.  "Just make it stop!! Enough!"
 
Not until you stop learning...(I hear voices. :))
 
Ahhhh....
 
Here is to Joy...let the journey of joy, new beginnings, new adventures, new loves, new challenges, new lessons...Begin. :)

"You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." ~ Psalm 16:11

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Pure Love, Fear, and The Lion

Love.  In all of its forms.  Is beautiful.

I was writing tonight; I was actually working on another piece, and I came across Christian, The Lion, Reunion.  I had not seen the video in years. Oh my! I had forgotten how beautiful it is, and what a reminder that love, in all of its forms, is beautiful. 

Of course, I then found The Official Christian Reunion Video which is actually of their second, and final, reunion with Christian.  I had never seen it before, and it is equally moving, and introduced me to a beautiful artist and song ~  Tallulah Rendall's Black Seagull.  Wow.

All of this got me to thinking...

Why is love...pure love...so very hard for so many? To give...?...

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I have to say that I cried watching the first video.  Don't you want to run up to someone like that and hug them like that?  Don't you want someone to do the same to you?  There is no fear, on either side, in that embrace. No fear.

Hmmm...

When you watch the second video, your told it has been yet another year apart for them and there is hesitancy on Christian's part...he eases into it, and then at the end...doesn't really act like he wants to walk away.  The lesson?  That level of trust is not completely forgotten...it can be re-established...and quickly in their case. Even more...no fear, on either side...from beginning to end.  No fear.

Hmmm...


I am picking up on something.  I mean, I am a little slow sometimes...:)  Maybe, just maybe, fear is the common denominator that prevents love from becoming pure love...a great love.  What would it be like if we loved each other without fear?

...and no, I am NOT talking about simply romantic love...but who am I kidding..it is a game changer in that single area alone...for all of us.


I fully admit...here and now...that while I have loved a great deal in my life, I have rarely done so without some element of fear being involved in it. *Sigh*

What would happen if I, for instance, were to start loving others without fear?  I mean, what is the worst that could happen...I get hurt?!  That said, what is stopping me?  What is stopping you?

Pride?  Embarrassment?  Both fear based emotions, by the way.

I told someone, just today, that I had no interest whatsoever in separating all of the layers of me....for any one person, for any job, for any religion, for any community work I might be doing...what you see, is what you get. Period.

Am I good enough?

Absolutely not.

Am I better than you?

Absolutely not.

Am I always working to be better...do better...live better...love better.

Absolutely yes.

Is that good enough?  It is for the only one that really matters.

It needs to be good enough for all of us.  Trying...that is the point.  And no one knows what "trying" looks like to someone else because all of our sins and all of our weaknesses are not on billboards for everyone to see.  You can't judge because YOU DON'T KNOW.

I am tired of the negativity.  The down in the mouth...the world is going to come to an end.  I am going to burn in hell.  They are going to burn in hell.  They are wrong.  They aren't good enough.  I am not good enough.  I suck.  I'm bad.  I'm ugly.  I'm fat.  I'm.....fill-in-the-blanks...

I am tired of doing it myself.  I am tired of it from others.

Enough.

Enough.

Pure love.  What would it mean if we loved ourselves and others like that?

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Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

In Search of New Ears

Circumstances occured today that reminded me that I have one of the worst traits...Ever. *Ugh*

I hear, all too often, what I want to hear...and NOT what is actually being said...to me, or others. *Sigh*

I really must work on this because...well, it is the Worst. Trait. Ever. 

Why is that even though we know what we stink at...we keep going back to that well over and over?  Can I really be the only one?  I know I am not, but in the residual heat of the moment...it feels that I am.  *Ugh*

Life is a journey of moments when we have choices...to hear, to listen, to learn, to love......to hope.

I have spent a good deal of time in my life hoping...I started to list and share some of them here, but thought better of it and deleted it.  The sins of the past...mine and others...need to remain there...out of the forgiveness I have granted them, and more importantly...the forgiveness they have granted me.  One of my great hopes is that I learn to be a better listener (in general) and to really hear the words of others...even when their truth is painful for me to bear.

I guess you could say that I am in search of new ears. :)

 

I have new adventures starting in multiple areas of my life, and I hope (so hope) that I listen better as I go throughout each of them.  That...is my hope...and my prayer.

What are you hoping to improve in your life? What are you in search of? 

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving


Did you know that you can watch the entire Charlie Brown Thanksgiving on You Tube?  How cool is that?! 

So clearly, I am a fan. :)

This is my favorite moment from the show.  I love the setting.  I love Linus' prayer.  I love the eclectic mix of chairs, and I mostly love the sentiment.  Tomorrow we will be having what we have lovingly titled "PJs & Picnic Thanksgiving" and it is as much fun as it sounds.  Only one person in the group is allowed to shower (he has a shower fetish), everyone wakes/stays in/goes back to bed in their pajamas throughout the day, we cook, we eat, we watch football & movies, play games, eat leftovers throughout the day...Yup, all in our pajamas. 

Let me say that it really is as awesome as it sounds (tomorrow is not a first edition :)).  It truly allows us to focus more on each other and having fun then what we look like (or smell like...just kidding). 

I am a girl full of gratitude. This has not been my "Best. Year. Ever." by a long shot, but it has been a year full of lessons that have pushed me, molded me, changed me, grown me...I am grateful.

"Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow." ~ Melody Beattie

...and there is the lesson...

"...gratitude makes sense of our past..."

I so LOVE that part.  It is a reminder that I don't have to understand everything that has happened in my life, but I do need to be grateful for it....because if nothing else...it got me to HERE.

Tomorrow when we go around the table (in our PJs) and say what we are thankful for this year...mine will be that very moment, for that is what I am learning to appreciate...the single beautiful moments that make up a very full, complicated, exhilarating, love-infused, grace-filled, beautiful, eclectic, joyful LIFE.

Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family and friends...be grateful, savor every single moment...Love.

...and maybe wear your PJs all day tomorrow...(just to make'm wonder ;))...

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The (Sincere) Art of Being Brave

I am being brave...(that is code for "please be proud of me"), but this (life) is very hard.

...and very lovely...

...and very frightening...


Don't kid a kidder.  I know I am brave.  I have lived on my own since I was 18 years old (emotionally since I was 9 years old).  I know I am brave.  I'm also tremendously good at portraying bravery even when my hands are shaking and my knees are knocking.  First, I don't have a back-up plan for  my LIFE (in general).  Second, I know that 'fake it till you make it' is Truth personified.  Finally, I am aware that it is easy to see men and women like me as bullet proof and that is such Bull.  Nothing could be further from the truth.


So...the truth of the matter is that Sunday I had a breakdown in the middle of consuming the most beautiful and delicious brunch...Ever.  I pushed forward.  Yesterday, I had the bravest Monday of my life.  Then last night in the middle of yoga (and the soundtrack of Eat Pray Love playing in the background), I laid my body out flat on the ground, looked up at the ceiling, and questioned just WTH I was doing.  *Sigh*

The sincere art of being brave takes (near) constant effort.  It isn't "Woo Hoo" all the time.  It is challenging.  It is lovely.  It is frightening. It is life. 

Remember it is okay to have those WTH moments.  Remember it is okay to Woo Hoo.  Remember it is okay if you have a day where you gravitate pretty rapidly between those two emotions.  Remind yourself that doing so..simply means you are pushing yourself and your boundaries past the edges of safety and security....and THAT is okay.  THAT in itself is BRAVE.

I got the loveliest note from a reader of my blog saying how much they loved reading it, and how brave I was in writing it...and in being so raw.  I, for one, could not have imagined three years ago that I would be writing and revealing so much of myself, or even more...that someone would say thank you for doing so...what a sweet blessing.

I reveal that to say that we really have no idea what things we do or say in our lives that have meaningful impacts on others.  It is such a reminder that others are watching and learning from us...especially when we do not expect it.

So...this is your single marching order...Be Brave. Period.

You. Will. Be. So. Glad. You. Did. :)))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)  

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Beauty In Losing Control


When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to play was church.  All of my animals and dolls were my church members. I had grape juice and crackers for my communion.  I was the song leader, preacher, and everything in between.  I absolutely LOVED it.  Once I cut my bangs (a nice big whack) for a sacrifice...I am thinking we had probably been studying Abraham...my parents were not amused by my offering (but I am pretty sure God was laughing up in heaven watching that 5 year old giving it all she had...for him).  Now I am starting to wonder if we are all lucky I didn't become a cult leader...hmmmm...

I digress.

Which makes my point.  No doubt one of the things I loved about playing church was that I did EVERYTHING.  I had control.  Yeah...I said it.

Isn't that telling...for us all...

As I have matured (Lord willing) as a person, as a woman, as a Christian...I have learned (okay I AM learning) that the beauty of a relationship with Christ is not all of the traditions (read that as control), or the...(wait...let me first say that I absolutely LOVE a lot of the traditions...okay, moving on), or the going to church.  The beauty of it is in the RELATIONSHIP that I have with Christ.  Just me and him...daily, hourly, every second of every day.  He wants my heart.  He wants a relationship with ME.  I'm learning that really...that is all that I really want too.  At the end of the day, and at the end of my life...my relationship with him...OUR relationship with each other...is what really, really matters. Phew.  I need another sip of coffee...and to wipe my eyes.

If you had asked me at any time over the past three years what the next 40 years of my life were going to look like, I could have (and would have) laid it all out for you...chapter and verse.  My God...our God has a wicked sense of humor, and timing, and he has a way of giving us everything we (believe) we want, and then waiting patiently while we discover that what we really want (and need frankly) is to say, "Lord what do you want for me?"

...and there you have it...

I am not a retired or reformed control freak...lets not go nuts...that would be pure crazy talk.  What I am is a woman learning, slowly learning, to give up control in my life...a little bit at a time.  Remember you have to crawl before you walk. ;)

I am also learning to be more open to what is being revealed to me instead of dictated by me and my preconceived notions of what my life SHOULD look like at any given moment.  I may need more than coffee after that...

When I woke up (very early) this morning, rolled over and looked out into the beautiful trees with their golden fall colors, sun rising...I prayed (out loud) for God to take over...completely.  I'm tired of doing it on my own, and honestly...I just don't even want to anymore.  I want the next 20 years of my life to look different than the last 20...I want to be different, better, more joyful, more peaceful...I want my life and my work to merge in some strange way that they bring more joy and hope to others while focused less on making a select few a lot of money.  I want there to be more joy and less stress.  I want to BE the person that I always believed I could be...that at times I have deceived myself that I was...*Sigh*

I want a relationship...with Christ...where he has control, and I have none....and I want to like it that way. ;)

This isn't the end...it is the beginning, a new beginning.  I woke up this morning and therefore, as the saying goes, I still have purpose.  My hope is to use that purpose more wisely...I have had a wonderful, blessed life these past 41 years...I simply want to get better, be better. 

It is a journey.

"...And there’s a road, a winding road that never ends
Full of curves, lessons learned at every bend..."

Happy "New Day" Sunday! :)))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Saturday, November 17, 2012

In Search of a Champion

"Liz says, “I’m sick of people telling me that I need a man.” To which Felipe replies, “You don’t need a man, Liz. You need a champion.” " ~ Eat Pray Love

Yes. That.

We ALL need this...men and women.  I need this.


I found this photo hysterical.  Women...if we need a billboard, then we probably are in deeper trouble than we think...:)

I have had great love in my life.  In some ways, I have been the luckiest girl in the world.  Blessed, actually.  I hope I have great love again...just something more along the champion, happily ever after side would be lovely...

I don't simply want this in my love life.  I want this in all my relationships.  I want to be (and have) champions in my friendships, my work, my church, my community.  A little more let me take the bullet for you, and a little less how many bullets will it take to take you down?! 

To be a champion for others is a lot about bravery.  Am I willing to take the bullet for them even though I am not sure I agree with them 100% on everything...oh and I think they might be nuts?  Is someone willing to take the bullet for you...even though...

I am starting to see life as more of an act of bravery and less whatever selfish endeavor I am off on at any given time.  Am I championing others?  Truly?  I am asking myself tough questions like these daily now...if not hourly.  What is my life's legacy?

I think it starts by taking care of others...defending others...building up others...even when it is possibly painful or even a little risky for us. 

I am looking for a champion.  I am looking to be one too.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

You ARE More

I have had an interesting two weeks.  The strangest has to be the past two days where three separate people have said to me, "You are more."  Wow.  Speechless...

Okay...over that (speechless part...). ;)


I digress....

It is quite the amazing experience when you have people in your life that believe in you more than you do.  Personal cheerleaders are awesome...and necessary, but what has been happening to me lately is more than that. It is people looking me dead in the eye and saying you are more...and they are a little frustrated in having to be so blunt with me.  I get it. *Sigh*

More.

Why do we settle for less than we deserve?  What is it about how we are hot-wired that causes so many of us to settle for less...for a moment, a day, a month, a year...years. *Ugh*

If someone in your life is taking the time to say to you, "You ARE more." Listen to them...Listen.

What dream have you hidden in a closet? What words have you not said? What person have you not expressed your deep love too?  Where are you settling in your life...not because you have to but because you choose to?  We make a lot of choices in this life and blame it on we "have to" when really you have a choice.  We always have a choice.

You ARE more.  Remind yourself today and go change your stars...

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Don't Give Up

"Keep your face always toward the sunshine...and shadows will fall behind you." ~ Walt Whitman - Poet, journalist (1819-1892)


Several years ago, I had someone say to me, "Don't give up on me."  I remember thinking, at the time, how sweet and sad that statement was.....*Sigh*

The true fear though is not that we give up on others, but that we give up on ourselves.  I am here to tell you...DON'T.

If you are on social media, in any form, you can follow people and sites that either spew positivity or negativity.  Choose wisely.

There is also a lot to be said for simply continuing to move forward.  Push yourself forward.  Push.

Positive energy begets positive energy. 

It is far too easy to give up or go negative at any given moment.  YOU must resist that urge.  YOU must change your mind...change your surroundings...change what kind of things and people you allow in your life....change your own words...Change. Your. Life.

There are a lot of people I love so dearly that are on the edge of letting go and giving up...Do. Not. Give. Up.  Turn your face towards the positive in your life and leave all of that negativity behind you.  It isn't that easy, but it is the first step in the process of becoming more positive...more optimistic...more joyful.

Today's message is simply...Don't. Give. Up.

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I Am Tired

I am tired.

I am tired of politics and elections that divide my family and friends.

I am tired of hate.

I am tired of bullying.

I am tired.

Have you ever had those mornings when you wake up, even after a solid night's sleep, and you are simply TIRED.  You look in your bathroom mirror and cannot believe the size of the bags under your eyes.  You go get a cup of coffee, and it just tastes...wrong. 

You are tired.

I am having one of those days this morning.  So I am combating it with great music, reading some funny cartoons, and texting some positive friends for a laugh.

It is okay to be tired.  It is understandable to be tired.  You just can't live there. 


I love this picture.  Be this. Do this today.  Help others and you will be helped by default.

I am tired, but today I am going to focus on others that I know are more tired than me...that need my encouragement.

Oh and by the way...Vote.  Use your voice in the ballot booth.  It matters.  It really, really does.

Blessings to all those weary, tired souls out there...whether in body or spirit or both...(((HUGS)))!

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

A Lesson In Grace

 Grace.
 
Let me tell you....I absolutely love grace.  To me it is the foundation of my life, my beliefs, my triumphs, and my failings.  I am a full blown believer and lover of grace.
  
What my father has taught me about grace both in his words and his actions could fill an ocean.  One of these days I might even write a book about it because it, and he, have meant so very much to my life...to my heart.  In many ways, my father's greatest gift to me is allowing me to learn from his failings.  Those lessons have made it easier to learn from my own.
 
*Sigh*
 
The picture below was taken when I was probably about 6 years old.  We were living on a working farm in Yellville, Arkansas at the time.  My life was perfect (through the eyes of the child whom's body they were in).  I love this picture because of the way my father is looking at me.  Those adoring eyes, fully enraptured in whatever in the world I was saying....and believe me, I am talking...I was always talking. :)))  I was "captivating" to my father in this picture.  Every little girl should have a moment like this to hold on to throughout their life.  I am so grateful for this one.
 
 


Today my father turns 70 years old, and I can hardly believe that is possible.  In my eyes and heart, he will always look just like this to me.  His heart surgery earlier this year was a wake-up call to me, but for some reason the "70" seems to be hitting me harder. 

My father is talented (frankly beyond talented), smart, funny, flawed, imperfect (don't tell my Granny that though :)), tenderhearted, and has the prettiest blue eyes EVER.  He is human though...in the past, he and I have done a lot of growing up together (and on our own).  It has not been easy...not by a long shot....but it has been worth it.  We have found understanding, respect, and grace for each other and ourselves that I am not sure we really had before...even as much as we loved each other...as much as we have always loved each other. 

Grace...very much like forgiveness...is a beautiful thing. 

One of the hardest things for children to deal with when they grow up is the fact that their parents are really human and not superheroes.  This was a particularly difficult lesson for me, and I must say that on the other side of the lesson...my father fares better as a human. Really.  Perfection, whether it is what you strive for personally or demand from others, is really not all it is cracked up to be. What is beautiful?  Those who live in spite of their shortcomings...in spite of their imperfections.  They get up each morning and they try again.  They live again. They love again.  That...THAT is what my father has taught me.  Life doesn't end when I fail. Life doesn't end when I lose someone. Life doesn't end when I am not perfect.  Life doesn't end when someone fails me.  Life doesn't end...until the grave....and then, well then is where it will really get interesting. :)

My father has taught me the most important lesson of all...grace.  Not simply grace shown for others (which is beyond important), but grace shown to ourselves.  Grace lived.

I love you Dad!!!

Thank you for all you have taught me.  Thank you for loving me.  Thank you for adoring me...even now...as a very flawed adult.  Mainly...thank you for growing...with me. :)

"Do I change like a river, widening and deepening, eddying back on myself sometimes, bursting my banks sometimes when there’s too much water, too much life in me, and sometimes dried up from lack of rain? Will the I that is me grow and widen and deepen? Or will I stagnate and become an arid riverbed? Will I allow people to dam me up and confine me to wall so that I flow only where they want? Will I allow them to turn me into a canal to use for they own purposes? Or will I make sure I flow freely, coursing my way through the land and ploughing a valley of my own?” ~ Aidan Chambers, This is All: The Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Long Walk of Faith

I have individuals all over this great state that I am proud to mentor.  I mentor some professionally.  I mentors others personally.  Some just think I am mentoring them while really they are mentoring me. 

If I have accomplished anything in my 41 years, it is because I was taken in by people who loved me, mentored me, pushed me, believed in me...even when they could (and maybe should) have NOT.  Bless them.  Bless their hearts.  I work hard to make myself available to others as so many have made themselves available to me.  I continue to get the better end of the deal.  All the way around. :)

So, I find it strange as I wind down parts of my life and wind up other parts of my life...so too, are many of these mentorees. :)  All of that said, as I am learning to better walk in faith...I get the distinct pleasure of watching them do the same.  It is a long, hard walk.  It is even harder and more exhilarating to watch someone go through then even to experience on my own.  Color me surprised by that.


I am proud to be watching people put themselves out there...romantically, professionally, new ventures, new ideas, new processes, new cities, new....New.

What bravery it takes to step out and try something new...whatever that "new" is.  We should applaud people that try...not necessarily that win, but simply try...because the reality is that so many simply do not. 

Reach out to someone and show them a little love for stepping out there.  Encourage someone that is afraid to try.  Give your own self a pep talk...reminding yourself that you are still here, therefore YOU still have purpose. 

The long walk of faith is not for the faint of the heart....but it is worth the effort.  Beyond every cloud is the sun.  Beyond every storm is the sun.  Beyond every night...is the sun.  Sunshine.  Gotta love it. :)
 
"For we live by faith, not by sight." ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You're Beautiful

How many times do you say this to another woman...another person?  How many times do you say this to a child?  How many times do you say this to yourself?

I have been downloading songs from the Captivating Retreat and creating a play list on my IPod so that whenever I need a pick-me-up, I can just go directly to the play list...and be transported. :)  They gave us a list of all the music played during the retreat, and as I have been downloading them, I have been struck by how many are titled "Beautiful" or have it in the title, or it is simply a focus of the lyrics. 

Hmmmm...

Okay....I got distracted.  My Twitter and FB feeds are blowing up with the debate (I am clearly not watching it.), and something about binders must have been said. *Sigh*

That actually feeds into my original train of thought...women.  We are beautiful.  God made us beautiful.  He made us in his image.  We don't always treat ourselves beautifully.  We don't always treat each other beautifully.  We don't always appreciate God's beauty.

October is "Stop Bullying Month"...that makes me SO sad.  What does that say that we have to devote a month to something that should just end....never happen in the first place?  What is happening to us?  We tear down instead of build up. :(

"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing."~ Albert Einstein

The above is one of the most powerful quotes.  I believe it to my core.  I have been bullied (in the last month actually), and I know how awful it felt...I am an adult.  Imagine a child?!  I have also witnessed evil and not confronted it.  Shame on me!

Enough.

We have to "own" our actions.  "Own" our words.  We have to stand up to evil when we see it....When we are bearing the brunt of it.  We must take the time to build each other up.  To tell the children around us how truly beautiful they are.  To tell the adults in our lives how beautiful they are...how much they mean to us.  How much we love them. 


I saw this picture on my way back from Colorado, and I thought...Yes. This.

Just love yourself...love each other.  Lets start a Love Revolution and see if that can catch on as fast as "Binders Full of Women" did on FB (32,000 in 51 minutes according to a friend of mine). 

Here are a few songs to inspire you on your quest to think of "Beautiful" things....

You're Beautiful by Phil Wickham
 
Beautiful by Kari Jobe
 
Overcome by Jeremy Camp

Love.  Just Love. :)))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Monday, October 15, 2012

God Met Me There

I must say that I am not particularly excited to get up and go this morning.  It is the final leg of a trip that started early last Wednesday morning, and it will come to an end this evening when I arrive at The Workshop.

I have had the loveliest, most amazing time...both traveling alone on the road trip portion and at the women's retreat in Colorado.  I see myself and my life in a different way.  I have a sense of peace regarding my future.  My body is resting in a deeper way than it has been...well, in months, maybe in years. 

Last night I posted the lyrics to Hopeless Wanderer...I have literally and figuratively come out of the woods.  I am wondering how I am going to be able to explain to those I love what happened during those four days at the retreat.  I called my Sis late yesterday afternoon and then Mama when I got to the hotel, and I could not find words to describe...other than simply repeating, "It was awesome!" over and over again. :)))

I remember a line in one of John Eldredge's book, or on one of his podcasts, where he talked about going away and just communing with nature, alone, over a few days.  Just him and God.  He paused briefly when recounting the story, and then says, "...and God met me there." in the softest, delicate of tones.  It was a simple statement, and it was beautiful.  I have absolutely felt God with me in my life, but not like what I heard in John's voice, his tone in the re-telling of his trip.  I felt it completely over the four days.  Completely.

During the retreat, we were given numerous times during the day for absolute quiet (no talking to others, etc.).  It was a time to journal, to reflect, to pray, to meditate, to sleep...whatever you needed to do.  Below is a picture of "my spot" where I spent those quiet times.  This is the final picture I took before leaving yesterday.

My Spot.

...and God met me there.

*Exhale*

I don't know what else to say or how else to explain it.  {Though my journals would be KA-POW WOW. :) }

I left a lot of old baggage, dead weight, tears, mistakes, sins, regrets, fears, torments, anger, pain, and angst on that mountain.  Whew!  I feel lighter...literally and figuratively. :)))

I have a long road ahead of me...a lifelong baggage carrier cannot be completely cured in four days, but I am further along than I have ever been before.  Mainly because I see where the baggage comes from, my own role and responsibility in "packing and carrying" it, and how to get rid of it when it starts sneaking up on me again.

We all have "stuff" that we carry around with us...Every. Day.  Whether we want to admit it or not, this "baggage" impacts our relationships, our work, our play, our friends, our families, our church, our decisions...Everything. 

I forgave myself for a lot of sh*%, and I was reminded by God that he had no recollection of ANY of it because he had forgiven me long ago.  How I love myself...Every. Day. is a reflection of how I love others. *Ouch*  It is also a reflection of how I allow God to love me. *Sigh*

I met some tremendous, glorious, wonderful, warrior women in Colorado.  I am not alone in this journey.  We all have a long road.  We must build each other up.  Support one another.  Love one another.  I love them.  Big (((HUGS)))!!

Well...as much as I don't want to...it is time to pack up the Jeep one more time and head East.  I am not alone though...I am not afraid.  He is here.  Still.

"Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life. " ~ Proverbs 4:23

Everything I am. Everything I will ever be.  It all begins and ends with my heart. :)

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hopeless Wanderer

For all of you hopeless wanderers out there...
 
 
You heard my voice I came out of the woods by choice
Shelter also gave their shade
But in the dark I have no name

So leave that click in my head
And I will remember the words that you said
Left a clouded mind and a heavy heart
But I was sure we could see a new start

So when your hope's on fire
But you know your desire
Don't hold a glass over the flame
Don't let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer

I wrestled long with my youth
We tried so hard to live in the truth
But do not tell me all is fine
When I lose my head, I lose my spine

So leave that click in my head
And I won't remember the words that you said
You brought me out from the cold
Now, how I long, how I long to grow old

So when your hope's on fire
But you know your desire
Don't hold a glass over the flame
Don't let your heart grow cold
I will call you by name
I will share your road

But hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
And hold me fast, Hold me fast
'Cause I'm a hopeless wanderer
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under
I will learn, I will learn to love the skies I'm under
The skies I'm under
 
~ Mumford & Sons

This song played as I was leaving the retreat today...it spoke to me on a whole new level.  I had to smile and then laugh out loud; I wanted to share it.  There is a link (click on song title at the top of the post) to the video.

Enjoy. :)))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Fire In The Sky


Sometimes you simply know deep down inside to your core that you are not alone.  For me, this was one of those moments as I captured this sunset shot in Kansas last night.

...and not because when you travel alone you talk (and answer) yourself...:)  I hope the people passing me think I am singing. :))) 

I made the conscious decision to drive instead of fly to Colorado.  It is working beautifully.  I can feel my mind clearing, the tightening in my shoulders starting to ease, my heart is opening, and I feel more peaceful...dare I say calmer.  The anxieties of my life that have become so prevalent in my high stress, fast charging, massive volume of intake of information, decisions to make, people, deadlines and demands of life...are melting away as the miles pass.

In 12.5 hours yesterday, I covered 652.7 miles...that is a lot of melting...:)

A friend of mine gave me a CD of songs...on it was Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes, and I got the point of the song (and my friend's reason for including it on the CD) immediately.  Immediately.

Let me digress...

Recently I had a situation in which when relaying to this friend, I wistfully joked that I needed a "vice for times like these...".  He just smiled....knowingly.  The joke was on me, and I just got the punchline.  I do have a vice...it is called stress and busyness.  I knew this already.  Why do I have to keep learning this lesson??? *Sigh*

The fear for any of us in this world is not that someone takes the brightness from our eyes, but that we allow it to be sucked out of us.  We allow.  Whether we allow someone else to take it, or we toss it aside casually like a worn out bag.  The point is it is our joy.  Our choice.

A person's life is in their eyes...love, joy, sadness, anger, hatred.  What do your eyes say about you?  Did someone steal your joy?  Did you let them?  Did you simply give it away?

One ticket for the roller coaster.  One life. 

At the wedding this past weekend, Ethan and I laughed, searched for various nuts, cracked open every nut we found, oohed and ahhed, ate cake (well he ate cake...and lots of it), and crawled up (in my lap) and took a nap.  I want to live my life more like a child.  A child squeezes the life out of every moment and then takes a nap.  How beautiful is that?

I have been giving my joy away....not all the time, but more often than I would care to admit.  I allow individuals, businesses, situations, etc. to suck the brightness from my life.  I allow.  I am a willing participant...and there is the lesson. 

"You will show me the path of life; in Your presence is fullness of joy, at Your right hand there are pleasures forevermore." ~ Psalm 16:11  

My life is going to be changing...A LOT...over the next three months, but whatever it looks like on the other side of this, there has to be more space built into my life by me for JOY and less for JOY SUCKERS.  I am consciously aware, more than ever, that it is my responsibility to both build the space in for it...and to not allow it to be stolen.

I always cherished the nickname Sunshine...consider myself reminded that I need to live up to the name....once again tap into that little girl who plastered smiley faces all over the interior of a church bus in the parking lot before getting caught by my great uncle.  That kid knew and lived joy...it was in her eyes, her smile, and came out in strange ways because she was just that happy.  Her and Ethan would have gotten along swimmingly. :)))

Fire in the sky...I am off to chase the sun again today. ;)

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Colorado Bound

I had a rough time Sunday night....I knew almost instantly that it was a "sign" from God.  The week leading up to this Colorado trip has been one of the strangest of my life, and it only took three specific strange things before I figured out what was going on (if only they had stopped at three)....I am a dense one sometimes.

*Sigh*

I have been planning for this trip for nearly a year.  I entered a lottery system in July and found out a week later that I had won a spot.  The spot was for a women's ministry retreat in Colorado.  I will post more details later, but needless to say I had a heads up from a friend of mine who did the men's ministry retreat through the same place that it was a life changer....in ways I wouldn't fully understand until I went through it.  I got hit with some of it this past week....and I know without a doubt it was prep for the retreat.  I simply KNOW it.

If there is one thing I have learned the past two years, it is to be more aware of the "signs" around me.  I believe everything happens for a reason...even if it simply due to our own stupidity.  Life is made up of our choices...Every. Day.

Back to the start of this....after Sunday night, I woke up Monday in a dreamy fog of anticipation over what the next two days could have in store for me...I mean thinking of the week prior...anything could happen at this point.  Right?!  Right!

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Well, what happened was that God swung open a couple of doors...WIDE.  Leaving me simply...breathless.

I am still breathless...

I got home tonight (late)...I still have to unpack and re-pack a little (most of my packing I did a week ago....I am just a teeny bit excited about this trip), do some last minute work e-mails, check my schedule (I am driving the whole way in the Rubicon...by myself...VERY excited...alone time is precious gearing up for this and then decompressing on the way home afterwards), e-mail some emergency contact information to a few people, etc...and finally....try to get some sleep (good luck with that).

I set out tomorrow, and I swear I feel 18 years old.  Isn't that funny???  Especially since I am ABSOLUTELY sure I never felt like this at 18; I was way too serious to feel like this...

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Life is an adventure, and I am thrilled to once again feel that thrill of the unknown...what is around the next corner...I have absolutely NO idea, and I could not care less.  What I do know is that it is well with my soul.  Where there has been pain, God has brought sudden overwhelming joy.  Where there has been doubt, he has brought peace.  I imagine (if my friend is to be believed)...this is only the beginning of changes for me over the next week. *Phew*

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For everything there is a season...I can tell the seasons have changed in my life...quite literally. :)))

I will post when and as I can...please send up thoughts and prayers for a safe journey and for me to learn all the lessons that God has in store for me...:)))

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Beauty In Walking Away

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I just got off the phone with one of my oldest and dearest friends, and his wise counsel gave me pause.  It wasn't really counsel actually...he was teasing me that he and I needed a helper...actually, I told him he needed a nurse which led to us both deciding that we didn't know no better than to get ourselves in trouble from time-to-time...(working outside when it is freezing and we have a sinus infection to trying to lift a table by ourselves (we were the kids that played in old refrigerators out behind the barn...everyone is nodding knowingly now because you either were one or knew one of those kids)...and we were in desperate need of a "keeper"...:)))

Maybe you had to be there...

The thing is that I have had to deal with a business for over a year, and it has not been a good experience...At. All.  They have been rude to me, disrespectful, condescending, sexist...on top of which they can't seem to actually DO the job they are being paid to do, and they don't seem to like me holding them accountable for the job I have paid good, hard earned money for.  Well, I lost it yesterday.  I mean LOST it.  I hit the wall as they came back a fifth time in a month, third time in a week, with a mistake.  *Ugh*  They took no responsibility for the continued mess up, had no solution, and then appeared dumbfounded when I looked at them incredulously and said I have had enough and walked out.  I actually might have yelled that last part.

Long story short...I am going to have to deal with them at least one more time because they have messed up the original problem so much that it is actually worse than before so I am almost hostage to them until they can get it (at a minimum) back to the original problem.  *Double Sigh*

By the time I got home, I was still shaking...and suddenly crying.  At them?  Oh no...do you not know me....I was crying because I was mad at myself for losing my cool.....for lowering myself to their level.  *Triple Sigh*

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Oh it sucks completely to be me sometimes.

I have to say that I told Lee part of the story this morning, and he laughed out loud...he had just had this discussion with someone else about how women feel bad after getting upset or standing up for themselves...and I was NOT offended because he was absolutely right.  Absolutely.  First, it is hard as women to stand up for ourselves. Second, if we can rustle up our gumption and actually do it, too often we are made to feel unladylike, *itchy, etc.  Third, whether we are made to feel that way or not, we inevitably ALWAYS feel guilty for being unladylike, etc.  It is a viscous cycle.  I am a living example of that cycle. 

Sometimes it is better to simply walk away. 

I say that, but I must add that you really should not spend your money, your time, your efforts on people, businesses, etc. that are not respectful and kind towards you...whether you be man, woman, or child.  We can speak volumes with our pocketbooks and our choices.  This is something I am working hard to remember.  It is never okay for me (personally...not preaching) to lower myself to their level because with my personality, I always feel worse on the other side (even though I might have been fully justified).  For me, it is better for me to simply walk away and give my business to people who are customer-centric, to people around me who genuinely care, and to things that give me joy (not frustration beyond belief).

This whole experience is causing me to do a self-audit.  What businesses do I give my money to that are not good (in general or specifically)?  What people are in my life and sucking the joy out of it...and out of me?  Where do I need to stop beating my head against the wall and quite simply and quietly walk away?

Bless my heart.  I want to save the world and right the wrongs, but I can't save everybody nor right all wrongs.  I must...must learn to be okay with this.

"I am with you always." ~ Matthew 28:20 (even when I don't deserve it)

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)

Afterthoughts...

Often once I write, publish, post something...I come back to it later wishing I had said something a little differently...not misspelled so many words...wish I had added a certain quote or photo...tonight for me it was wishing I had added a song to this particular post.  Diana Krall's latest album Glad Rag Doll came out this week.  My nearest and dearest know that I am a HUGE Diana Krall fan, and I tribute her music for helping me to survive 80 hour work weeks combined with nightly MBA classes for many years.  That said, she has a song on the album entitled Wide River to Cross, and I must say that it feels autobiographical for the way I view my life...but in particular how I have viewed my life this whole year, and ironically the things I continue to learn about myself on a daily basis (like this post's topic).  I consider myself an imperfect, work-in-process, a sinner not a saint, a girl at heart, a woman to my core, tenderhearted, driven, a refugee, saved by grace, a gypsy, and loved.  That last one is a kicker...at my best or at my worst, I am loved.  I know that.  I forget it...a lot, but I usually remember in time.   I hope you know that you are loved.  I pray that I learn to show more love, more grace, and more understanding...for all of us have a long, hard road in this life...and a wide river to cross.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Awake My Soul

One of the things to come out of my camp counselor experience this summer was my introduction to so many inspiring young people.  Of course all of them are all over social media, so my own social media sites exploded shortly thereafter with new friends and followers.  It is wonderful to see them back in their lives...as they excel, struggle, and live with purpose.  Life is hard. Life is an adventure.  They INSPIRE me.

All of that said, I have to say that one of my (selfishly) favorite things from all of this is Spotify.  Why??  Because a lot of them use it, and what they listen to on it flows to their FB pages.  I have been exposed to music that I KNOW I would have never heard otherwise.  It is FANTASTIC! 

My latest "exposure" was Mumford & Sons.  Thanks to Molly S., I went out and listened to a few of their songs, and then subsequently downloaded their new album.  After a day of listening to it, I went out and downloaded everything I could find that they had done.  I am completely addicted.  I am also amazed that I had never, ever heard of them. *Sigh*

I have to say that music has always played a big part in my life.  My parents were both singers, and I am sure I owe a great deal of my love of music to them.  I was surrounded by it as a child in church, at home, at family gatherings (where there was always singing and playing), in school where I was in band and choir.  I even toyed with the idea of being a music teacher, but realized quickly in college that I loved doing it...not teaching it.  I wrote songs with strangers who soon became friends.  One of them is now a songwriter in Nashville. I know former loves of mine who I am sure were annoyed on a regular basis as I shared songs that I believed represented our courtship or relationship at any given time.  I can be annoying about things I am passion about...shhhh...don't tell. :)))

Music at its best can soothe you, inspire you...move you.

Music can awaken your soul.

Which leads me back to Mumford and Sons who has a song called Awake My Soul, and let me say...AMAZING! 

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I was at a board of directors retreat the past two days.  It was a great retreat.  I was thoroughly inspired.  I listened to this song all the way back to Little Rock..."...where you invest your love, you invest your life..."...reminds me of pearls before swine...

Hmmm....

Where are you investing your love?  Whether that is professionally, personally, spiritually, via community service, etc.  Where???

I have wasted a lot of time in my life...chasing after people, money, some unknown brass ring, love, acceptance, things...so many "things" or "stuff".  Oh my! *Sigh*  One of the things I have learned in my years is that you cannot fill the gaps in your heart or soul with stuff...I mean you can, but you are going to feel the same afterwards...maybe worse.  No person can fill that gap.  No job.  No career.  No single moment of acceptance or praise.  No award.  No instant gratification.  No amount of money.  That hole...that gap in YOU must be filled with love.  LOVE.

Now I am no preacher.  Everyone laugh out loud here.  :)

I am quite seriously NO preacher, but I do know that love is where it is at.  For me, love equivocates out to Jesus...and everything I do (I hope and pray) comes from my relationship with him.  While there have been times in my life that I have ignored him, put him on a shelf, turned away, walked away, ran away...he, HE has never left me.  I remain ever grateful of and for that.  He invested his love and therefore his life in ME.  I am working hard to figure out how to return the favor.  I don't mean that flippantly either. 

Whether it is in my passion about women's issues, helping people find their passion and purpose, teaching kids about financial literacy, loving my family and friends, my work...whatever it is...when I am good, it is coming from a place of love.  When I am not....well, we can all figure that one out. 

My goal as I sit here this Sunday morning before church drinking my coffee and planning my day....is simply to continue to figure out how to invest only love in my life, and divest my life of people, things, causes, work, etc. where there is no love for me to invest or being invested back in me.  Let me simply say, that this is very difficult.  Saying no.  Walking away.  Giving up (I'm not, but my ego convinces me that that is exactly what I am doing...Psychology 101).  All of these are not easy for me and my Type A personality.  *Sigh*

I want to save the world; love the world.  First, I have to make sure I am saved...that I am loved...so that I can give of my excess...not give everything I am and have to the point that there is nothing left of me to give.  That also means giving up those things that are quite literally sucking the life out of me.  SUCKING it out! *UGH*  I know there are those reading who know exactly what I am talking about. :)

Awake my soul Lord.  Awake my soul so that I can live a life of passion of purpose...for you, for me, for others.  So that when my life is through...I have lived a life of purpose.  That my life has made a difference for others.  That is my Sunday morning prayer. 

What is yours?

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :) 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Battlefront Update ~ A Post From the Frontline

I simply had to share this post that a photographer friend of mine shared on Facebook tonight.  It left me speechless...at first.  It is simply beautiful.

I am personally fighting a lot of battles on a lot of fronts right now, and I am not ashamed to admit that as tough as I believe I am...I feel like I am on my knees more lately than my feet. YET, if I boil it all down...life is meant to be lived. Now. We aren't promised tomorrow or an easy road...we are given the moment we are presently residing in. Period. This was/is a powerful reminder to seize those moments. 

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." ~ Mark Twain

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Don't wait.  Live in this moment.  NOW.

A dear friend of mine said to me recently, "I hope I have made the right decisions because if not, I have sacrificed everything for nothing."  I sadly shook my head...because they had missed the whole point.  The whole point.

I always say that life is not for the faint of heart.  It demands everything from you, and when you give it...it comes back for more.  Wanting.

I have made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I have never shirked from living a full life.  I have changed course, at times taken a sharp left or right, and more often than I care to admit...I have gone backwards....but the one thing I always tried to do was LIVE with gusto....fearless.  Living this way is getting more difficult.  I feel myself becoming less fearless, and I hate it.  If anything, I need to be brave now more than ever.  We all do.  This world is TOUGH.

We all have challenges.  Disappointments.  Moments when we question ourselves....sometimes everything. It is okay.  Focus on living not regretting.

Only the love can you take with you...think about that.  What are you focused on...loving? or something else...anything else?

A small digression...my "adopted" mother is by far the most loving, non-judgemental person I have ever met...Ever.  I have seen her love and accept, in her loving home and loving arms, people of all walks of life, various religious beliefs, nationalities, people who have done her wrong, those I know she disagrees with on some level....BUT you would never, ever know it.  She is as loving to anyone who walks through her front door as she is to any of her own children.  It is by far the most beautiful lesson I have been able to learn from her, and frankly one I continue to fail at...my head down.  Somewhere in her life she learned love, and while not perfect, she has lived a life that exudes love in all she does.  In just a few years, she has taught me more about who I am and who I want to be than I could learn in another lifetime, if given to me.  More than anything, and my point in mentioning it, is that she has taught me how to love and how I want to be loved.  She has also taught me that what I do here and now matters.  How I treat myself and others matters.  How I give and receive love matters.  Loving matters.  I wonder if we don't need to talk about love more in our daily lives.  I wonder if we don't need to show love more in our daily lives.  Just wondering...

Love heals.  Thanking God for that.

:)

Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! :)