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! :) 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Power of Friendship

I love my friends. 

No...I adore my friends. 

One of the biggest blessings of my life are the friendships that I have been truly blessed beyond measure with over the years.  I am always amazed at how God puts just the right friend in my life at just the right moment with a call, an e-mail, a text message, a dinner....and they say what I need to hear in that moment...those moments.  Though....let me be clear...I don't always appreciate what I need to hear IN the moment. :)  I hope that I am as a good friend to others as they are to me; I know I have come up short more often than I care to admit.

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Today was one of those blessed days.  I heard from a few different friends, in a few different ways, and all spoke to me about different things...in different ways, BUT I needed each of them and all of it.  Desperately.

When you are single, it is very easy to feel lonely.  Being alone though...for longer than a good night's sleep....is a conscious choice.  It is a choice that now single again, I am having to re-learn; I am NOT enjoying the process.  I feel a little like an astronaut must as they re-enter the earth's atmosphere.  *Sigh* and *Ugh*

I am learning though...slowly. 

Today I was reminded that no matter where I am, that my friends are always there with me...a phone call, a text message, a coffee break, a dinner, or an e-mail away.  I always have a choice. 

So...I am glad today for sweet, dear friends PLUS a new jazz album out by Melody Gardot.  There is nothing quite like jazz to heal and lift a wounded spirit.  I have attached Melody's version of Over the Rainbow because everyone should hear her version.  She is amazing!


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Time alone...hibernation as I lovingly refer to my alone time...is important, but you can't build that cave too cozy...or you will never climb out. For me, this particular hibernation period is over...time to let the sunshine wash over me again. 

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

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Stolen

I don't know why, but today I started thinking about all of the near misses in my life.  If you read this blog a lot, you know that since summer I have become addicted to Brandon Heath.  ADDICTED! :)

Well he has a song called Stolen, and it is fantastic.  I had been listening to the song on a continuous loop a couple of months back when a co-worker told me about a near miss car accident they were in over the weekend.  It was a terrifying story, and they were nearly killed....YET they walked away perfectly okay.  Even days later telling me the story, you could tell they were still shook up.  They recounted how they realized they could have been gone in that 30 seconds.  Gone.  Dead.  Gone.

The conversation led on to salvation, picking a church, going to church, and their questions and concerns.  They had been gone from God for a long time.  I won't say why, but their personal story helps you understand...and how many of us can say we have never turned away from God...for an hour, a day, a week, a month, years.  None of us.  It was a raw discussion about what they needed to talk about, and what I felt compelled to tell them.  Which was...follow their heart.  Obviously their heart was missing something...

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Back to the song...God doesn't steal our hearts...unless we first offer them up to him.  He stands there steady, patient, true....waiting...waiting for us to come back, to need him, to want him, to allow him to steal our hearts.  He doesn't give up on us.  Ever.  He waits...for our heart.

This got me to thinking....

I want to give up my heart willingly...not begrudgingly or as an afterthought.  I want to consciously make that decision.  My peace comes from allowing God to steal my heart from me.  Why is that so hard to do?

I don't know...but it is.  We want checklists and to dos, but at the heart (pun fully intended) of what God commands of us is love.  Love him and others, and to do that requires us to give him our hearts.  Our hearts.

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How many times have I been here...the near misses....about to give it all, but I hesitated....(I'm shaking my head as I type.)?

How many more near misses?  For me?  For you? 

He's waiting...

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

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Words Matter...Silence Matters

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Over the past several months I have heard a lot of things about women that quite literally drop my jaw and leave me puzzled.  I have heard these things internationally, nationally, locally...and every single time it renders me speechless...then when I catch my breath, and depending on my audience, I feel the passion in me rise like the ocean tide.  What I am about to say isn't just about women....it is about all of us.

So let me say this on this beautiful Sunday morning...since I am running late for church, I will be brief (for now)....ladies and gentlemen (young and old), words matter

In the past 17 months, I myself have taken a different and new look at the words I say, phrases I use, etc.  I am not simply talking about profanity here....I am talking about how you refer to people...to children, women, men, etc.  How you refer to yourself.  In the words you use, to the stories you tell.  It isn't about filtering yourself either, it is about recognizing where those words are coming from....whether you were raised that way, it is a nervous tick, a defense mechanism...whatever it is...you need to take the time to make sure that you are not demeaning people when you speak.  I know a lot of good people, good Christian people, who tell stories, jokes, etc. without any realization that they are insulting up to 51% of the world when telling them. 

The other side of this is silence.  Let me be crystal clear here...silence matters.  What you don't confront, you condone.  Period.

So, if you see people saying or doing something wrong to themselves or others, and you don't step in to assist, change it, fix it, help it/help them.  You, YOU are condoning it.  This is whether you are adult or child, young or old.  Everyone wants to say, well I can't do anything about that....well, that is a cop-out.  You can speak up.  You can use your voice.  You can take a stand.  YOU can DO something. 

Life is hard.  Life is not for the faint of heart.  We need each other.  We need to give each other mercy, show each other grace, love each other as Jesus instructed AND represented to us. 

Words Matter...Silence Matters.

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

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall is Here ~ How We Know :)

It has been a weird summer in Arkansas.  It doesn't matter who you talk to...young or old, city or rural, republican or democrat (okay I just added that for laughs :))...everyone is talking about the strange Arkansas summer.  That said, the trees started turning about 45 days ago due to the lack of rain and unbearably hot temps.  Needless to say, most of us thought the traditional fall foliage in Arkansas was toast...literally.  Boy, were we all wrong....how do I know?  I woke up this morning in the hollow....to fall. Yippee!!!

So....the calendar doesn't say it (yet), and I am 800' feet down in a hollow...so how do I know fall is here....I am so glad you asked. :))))

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You know FALL has arrived when...

  1. You wake up on a Saturday morning to beautiful sunlight beaming on slightly turning leaves on the trees.  You must trust me on this...the leaves haven't really started turning, but they are also not the vibrant green of spring...it is like a big tease to us...sort of like ready or not, I am about to change colors on you so don't blink. :)
  2. You walk outside and you feel a crispness in the air.
  3. When you sit outside to drink your coffee...instead of shedding clothing, you grab another layer to put on.
  4. While you are sitting outside, your coffee gets cooler faster.
  5. Everyone you follow on Twitter or FB is talking about college football. :)
  6. You jump in your vehicle and your seats are cold.
  7. You realize that your temp gauge actually goes below 100 degrees.  Wow!
  8. The tip of your nose is cold when you wake up...this causes you to burrow deeper under the covers. :)
  9. You are doing all of the above, savoring the cooler weather, your warm coffee, the cool breeze...and you suddenly sit up straight panicked...because you just realized how much you have to do....Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas...:)
  10. You realize October...is next month, and October is the VERY best month of the year. :)))
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So fall is here...FINALLY...it has been a long, hot, strange summer (at least here in Arkansas), and I, for one, am very ready for fall and all it has in store...:)

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

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Changing Your Stars

Who has seen the movie A Knight's Tale?

Well...it is a great movie...especially for those of us who enjoy dreaming big.  There is a great line in there about changing your stars...

If you're not familiar with the story,
it's about a poor thatcher's son who sees a parade of knights
riding proudly through the city square and, while being propped up on a stock by his father, confidently says, "Someday ... I'll be a knight." A man locked up in the stocks below him overhears the boy and laughs, "A thatcher's son? A knight? You might as well try to change the stars!" (more laughter) The young William asks his father, "Can it be done, father? Can a man change the stars?" His father calmly replies, "Yes, William. If he believes enough, a man can do anything." Young William becomes a squire to a knight and, through a twist of fate, gets his chance to prove he, himself, is worthy of knighthood. Years later he returns home, finds his father, and affirms he has, indeed, changed his stars.

I might have even written about it before...

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The fact is that I am a big believer that no matter what your childhood, your circumstances, your race, male or female, rich or poor....you can be and do whatever it is you want to with your life.  Anything. :)

I have spent the last sixteen months working to help a team change the stars for a company, their customers, its employees, and in many ways..myself.  In the process, I have soared higher than ever before in my career.  I have felt and seen tremendous lows.  I have watched people grow.  I have seen some sink.  I have watched myself grow.  Somewhere in the midst of all of this "change"...(I am smiling...the word alone makes me smile)...I discovered that while I was talking a lot about passion, purpose, empowerment, a voice....I wasn't necessarily always living mine, feeling empowered, or using my voice.  *Sigh*

In the next few months I will be changing my own stars.  These will be things I have been working towards since the first of the year, but as it gets closer and closer...it feels more and more surreal for me.  There are many unknowns...in some ways more unknowns than knowns...and I am okay with that.  I know...weird, huh?! :))) 

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This...this is what I am going for...reaching for...to be in love with my life...Every detail of it.  Yes! :)

God has me...and this time I am letting myself free-fall into the safety and security of His arms...I am most definitely without a shadow of a doubt....letting HIM build my wings on the way down.  My most famous phrase, "I got this." is out the window this time...HE has this, and for the first time...in a very long time...I feel fearless and peaceful at the VERY same time. :)))



Change your stars...I beg of you...believe that you can...and then go do it.  I'm going to be documenting my flight...share yours with me.  We can flap our wings together. ;)

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

Monday, September 3, 2012

Beyond the Blue

So thanks to Spotify, I have discovered folk artist Josh Garrels; I am addicted.

His music is an eclectic mix that matches my eclectic taste perfectly...I highly recommend checking it out.

That said, he has this song Beyond the Blue that made me think of this plan I am working on because daily....if not hourly....I am making decisions, making plans, working on to do lists, and sometimes I need to take time to sit and be very still and just think about what is in store down the road...in essence, beyond the blue.  :)

I'm laughing....

That is pretty cheesy...even for me. :)

It made me wonder...we spend so much time doing these days, that I wonder if we spend enough time really contemplating what is going to happen on the other side of all of this doing...right?  Right.

Hmmmm....

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Life goes on.  It does.  We try to hold on to the good things.  We try to hold on to the bad things.  The fact is that it simply doesn't matter how much we try to hold on to people, things, time, places...everything changes.  Kids grow up.  Loved ones pass.  Friends move.  Couples split.  Companies go out of business.  Small towns disappear.  "To Do" lists get completed (seriously :)). 

Life goes on.

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A friend of mine's father passed away unexpectedly yesterday morning.  It was a startling reminder that we don't know how much time any of us has in this life...or the time we have left with those we love.  The choices you make every day really do matter...sometimes more than you know.  Are you spending time with the people you really want to?  Are you working at a job you love?  Are you living where you want to live?  Are you living the life you dreamed of?  God dreamed for you?  What matters most...to YOU?

I made some of the toughest, lasting decisions of my life 16-18 months ago.  A few of those choices, I have to live with...Every. Day.  I don't regret any of them, but I am making dadgum sure that I have learned from them.  Most of those decisions were made believing I knew what was "beyond the blue"....I did not. I was foolish and arrogant to believe such...naive even.  That is life though...making the best decisions we can...Every. Day.  It isn't about being perfect or making perfect choices; it is about learning from the choices we make...living...laughing (a lot) and growing.  Why?  Because you cannot woulda, coulda, shoulda (thank you Dr. Wayne Dyer).  Think about it....you can't.

I am so excited about what is ahead of me that I have been wishing away the life I am in NOW.  I have to be patient....beyond the blue will be here soon enough, and there is plenty left to enjoy in this moment.

So...the lesson today is first don't woulda, coulda, shoulda....but also don't get so busy planning your future that you ignore the present.  The present is a gift...that you don't have to wait to open. :)

Oh yeah...I am THAT cheesy. :)))

"Somewhere along the way you will have to learn to just Trust Life. (Read that, "Trust God.") "
~ Neale Donald Walsch

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