Saturday, May 18, 2013

The Bulldog Theory

Have you ever sat down and just wondered to yourself, "Who am I?"????



{Thank you Casting Crowns for drilling that thought home Thursday night/Friday morning. ;)}

For me, an identity crisis is pretty much a regular occurrence...well, not a "regular" occurrence, but I do spend an inordinate amount of time trying, worrying, questioning how to be a "better" person.....

So....it is no surprise that after being coined a "bulldog" by a co-worker for the hundredth time, that I went all "self-reflective" in wondering what that meant...

*Sigh*

I had the funniest thought as I got ready the following morning after this had happened...I thought "I hope there is room in heaven for bulldogs."

That said, the rest of the story is that those who use that term most often use it to describe how I am their "go to" when there is a problem because I won't give up until there is a resolution...and how I always have their back.  Well....now that isn't so bad. Is it? I thought so...at first, but then I realized that I am VERY much like that...and I kind of like that....

What does that mean???

Here is one of the things about women...most every woman I know, whether they have children or not, are very maternal...and when you cross their children (or anyone who occupies that space in their heart...work, co-workers, friends, family, etc.)...it is GAME ON.  I think it is hard to recognize that is what it is when you see a single, childless woman play out that role....but that is every bit of what it is....

Hmmmm....

I have been misunderstood and misjudged a great deal in my life, but no place worse than in the workplace...especially in certain workplaces where being a single, childless woman of "my age" was an anomaly. *Ugh*  Someday I am going to write a book about what that experience has been like for me...and how, even when I was "OK" with it, how the judgement of others can bring up old pain that you had long since dealt with...and reignite that "Who am I?" regarding that single issue. Brutal stuff.

I digress....

I think my point is that often I find myself reminding myself that I. AM. Okay.  Really. :)))

So who am I?  Well, in a crisis, I am a mother...a protective bulldog...a problem solver.  That doesn't always look "pretty"...BUT it is who I am...and what I do.



So to all the women out there who have been called a "bulldog" with or without affection, embrace it. Reflect on it, no doubt, but don't automatically assume that it is a negative.  Maybe it is just part of your mothering instincts (and that is always okay) and a reflection of something beautiful, deeper, wonderful.

For those who have ever called someone a bulldog...or any other name...think about what you mean by it, think about your words, and make sure that you are being kind. #kindnessmatters

My name is Heather, and I am a bulldog.

I guess there are worse things to be called, and I am going to stop feeling bad about it. Instead, I am embracing my inner bulldog, with a big, broad smile on my face...and resting in the knowledge that childless or not, I am protective of my "young" and there are thousands of ways to mother, and that it is okay and blissfully wonderful that my natural instincts of protecting and defending others are fully intact.

This may seem like a strange topic to write about, but as someone told me this past week who reads my blog, that I didn't know read my blog, Heather you are an evolving woman and sharing the ride. Well no sh*t there (sorry to all those possibly offended by language), but that is REAL.

I'm not perfect. FAR from it. I just want to get a little better every day, and on a REALLY good day, get a LOT better.  That is the best I can do; my dead-level best.

Happy Saturday!!!  I have a lot of work ahead of me today; nothing like your work e-mail crashing for five hours midday (Thursday) to re-write your weekend plans for you. ;)

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

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Beauty in Bravery & Answered Prayers

I am part of this Wednesday night Women's Bible Study Group, and tonight was...well, something happened, and I nearly ran a red light trying to get home so I could start writing...not even knowing what was going to come out, but my fingers were tingling. :)))

This is a wonderfully diverse group of women, each with their personal walks with Christ, personal stories and trials, and personalities...Wow!...the personalities; I love it.

Tonight I saw a side of bravery in these women, that I hadn't seen before tonight. Now...I believed them all to be brave (I believe ALL women are brave (and men)...this is a hard world)....but tonight I saw something more...something deeper.


I have been praying fervently for something to happen in my life that will take me out of the story (with its lousy ending) that I have been in, and transport me to some place new, different...somewhere I am needed, wanted, and frankly feel loved...again.  Tonight I saw a glimpse of whatever it is...and I was moved to tears (I am crying as I type.) knowing that when I look at my own calendar for the next several weeks/two months....I am headed for places and events and people that I know love me, need me, know that I need them, know that I am broken and imperfect (and don't care, and I know they don't care), and....

...they will be from the East to the West....and yes, I started playing the song (East to West by Casting Crowns) when I jumped in the jeep...and it is still playing now...on repeat....:)))

The weekend after Memorial Day, I will be with seven amazing women, strangers before last October, that I met in Colorado at the Captivating Retreat by Ransomed Heart Ministries. We have all stayed in touch, and knew we needed to reunite and build each other up. We will spend three days on some farm in Kentucky...immersed. Beautifully.

The following Monday, our Women's Bible Study Group is going to start Captivating, the small group video series...and this is a dedicated group because we are going to, all together, read the book, complete the journal, and complete the participant guide along with the DVD each week...for 10 weeks.

That same week, I am finally set to head to Haiti for five days to be immersed in...only Jesus knows...and I am SO excited.

In the middle of the ten weeks of Captivating...several out of that same group will be counseling at Livingstones Week.

I guess my prayers are being answered. :)


I am surrounded...SURROUNDED....by strong, brave women...and I am honored that they are brave enough to tell their stories....share their lives...open themselves up even with their own fears of judgement and criticism....

I wanted God to answer the question for me...just how far is the East to the West...and he is doing just that...

I am a long way from truly forgiving myself for not being perfect....from forgiving myself for the shame I feel...from allowing myself to not only Be vulnerable, but to show my vulnerability.  The women in my life are teaching me...they are showing me the way....the devil only wins if we buy into the theory that we have to live with our shame, our sin, our vulnerability, our shortcomings like a yoke around our neck. I am not going to continue to give him that power over me. I am determined to not only overcome it....but to help others do the same.....even if that means I have to carve myself up like a Halloween pumpkin revealing all the sticky, icky, stringy messiness inside. My perfectionist-driven streak is of the devil, and I am more convinced of that than I have EVER been before in my life.

"may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.
For whatever we lose (like a you or a me)
it's always ourselves we find in the sea." ~ e.e. cummings

Whatever your religion or spiritual beliefs...as women...as human beings...we MUST stop operating from a place of shame...our own and the shame we want to project onto others. That isn't kindness. That isn't love. That isn't the point.

Last night I got righteously annoyed by the reaction to the Jolie story regarding her decision to be gene tested and then the medical decisions she made as a result. I don't discuss my past health issues...not even here and certainly not in social media, but last night I just took a stand...I have no idea why that...why now...but I thought of Doretha and something she taught me years and years ago....and it is that everyone has a story; you have a story. For a moment I wondered, maybe it is time for us to give up commentary 24/7 and get back to storytelling.

I want desperately to know the stories of the women I am studying with...I want to know their battles...their strengths...their weaknesses...because that is how we win...that is how we change the world...we really start caring again about others and focus on building them up. We start giving a damn about their hearts....and stop commenting on what the status of their heart might be...Really?!


I see this same thing both in and out of church...in and out of work...in and out of my community work. I see it everywhere. We simply have to get back to "heart" and to do that we are all going to have to tear down our walls of fear, shame, and protection....and be vulnerable...be real.

*I felt my grandfather with me tonight at class, and as I sit here I can't shake the feeling that he is right here with me...coaching me forward....I wish I could get to the cemetery and sit by his headstone with my legs crossed, face in my hands, and just have a conversation. I misss that.  I'd tell him that personal growth sucks, but that I am doing the work...and I want to Be. better....Do. better...and I hope I am making him proud....

*A breeze just blew through as I wrote that. {Chills.}

"When our internal desires, passions, and intentions align with how this manifests in the world, each moment, 'there' becomes 'here'." ~ Kristin S. Kaufman

I am working to be here....present...accountable...full of love...full of empathy..my spirit healed...my heart once again open.  I am doing it for myself...so that I in turn can help others...do better by others.

It is work. Hard work. It is worth it.

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

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Love and Life ~ I Am Still Learning


When you are working towards a "balanced" life, one of the hardest things to realize is that everything matters.

What do I mean by that?

Well, if you are anything like me, you take joy in the little victories of finding and having a balanced life...I left work at a reasonable hour....I made time for my friends....I called special people in my life and had a long phone conversation....I wrote some thank you notes today, etc....

What I am learning...*Sigh*...Does. It. Ever. End.?...is that real transformation comes when you immerse yourself in these joys, and create a life full of victories...not a spotty, bread-crumb trail.

*Sigh*
 
"If you want something different, you gotta do something different." ~ Nathaniel Williams

I don't believe Nathaniel Williams was referring to doing just a few things different. :)  I have made a lot of progress, and that is worth celebrating....but I have 'miles to go before I sleep' in my life to truly re-calibrate my life into once again, so that I have true balance. I found it once...a few years back...and I was naive to believe it would be "easy" to bounce back quickly after losing my way.  Just like it is harder for your body to bounce back as you get older...there is no "bouncing back quickly" for balance either...I love getting older, but I hate that part...truly hate it.

THIS is just another reason why we should teach our children young to have and live balanced lives. It is a habit that needs to be cultivated and nurtured...because it is harder and harder to snap back the older they get....and even harder for them to learn new if they were never taught the skills...not impossible, but difficult. I am living proof of that struggle, but also of that hope.

The funny thing about me referencing teaching children this skill, is that it is children who have taught me the most lessons about love and balance...and none more than the students I have met through the scholarship programs at Fayetteville. These kids...young adults :)...inspire me and remind me and teach me....Every. Day.  I left Fayetteville this past weekend knowing that some things had to change...immediately....in my own life. I recognized that I had made excuses about some things...and that the execuses need to stop...Immediately.

"When two people relate to each other authentically and humanly, God is the electricity that surges between them." ~ Martin Buber

Where you invest your love, you invest your life. Truth.  A bunch of Camp Caudle kids got me completely addicted to Mumford and Sons...more lessons.  The next lesson for me in just that one song is that it is where I invest my love...Every. Day. and All. The. Time.  Not just a moment, or a day, or for a season....but where I invest every moment of my life.  I don't want to live an "okay "life or a semi-balanced life or an "it will do" life...I want to live a truly balanced life.

I have some more work to do...and miles to go before I sleep...:)))

“Real isn't how you are made,' said the Skin Horse. 'It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.'

'Does it hurt?' asked the Rabbit.

'Sometimes,' said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. 'When you are Real you don't mind being hurt.'

'Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,' ...
he asked, 'or bit by bit?'

'It doesn't happen all at once,' said the Skin Horse. 'You become. It takes a long time. That's why it doesn't happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don't matter at all, because once you are Real you can't be ugly, except to people who don't understand.” ~ Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

I'm still learning. I'm stll tearing down walls. I'm still growing...up. ;)  I'm not done yet...but I am getting better...a little, Every.Day. :)))

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

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Transition. Heart. Daring Greatly. ~ 48 Hours Later


I guess one could say that I am in a state of transition. One might even say I have been going through a "state of transition" for about 15 months. I am not sure that this one (Me) would have said I am someone who would admit that openly...to a stranger...in a crowded reception...at the end of an emotional day...Yet, I did all of that...last night.

I am a planner...to my core...so to admit openly that I am working without a plan, trusting God, and allowing myself to be taught true submission to a will not my own...Well, my name is Heather Nelson, and that is not me.  At least I didn't think it was...

Then last night happened.

I am at a perfectly lovely reception. Having a perfectly nice time. Reeling (and glowing) slightly from the day. Biting into a beautiful piece of bruschetta, and literally with it halfway in my mouth, a woman says, I have been dying to meet you. I smile...bruschetta still in my mouth, and I slowly crunch down (what else could I do??? pull it back out??? :)))

I ended up having the most fascinating conversation with this person, and it didn't strike me until I was telling a friend about it this morning just how strange the encounter was...and how out of character I acted with a perfect stranger. 

Hmmm...

I believe that God sends people to you at the perfect time to help you realize something he needs you to realize.

*Deep Breath*

I am a woman in transition, and I am unafraid to shout that out. I have no idea what I am going to be doing six months from now or a year from now. I am perfectly content (kinda sorta) to let the wind take me where it will...where God will. If you hear all of the things I am currently doing, and all of the things I have coming at me over the next six months...you might scratch your head OR you might realize what I did last night...I am a woman living by faith...on faith. THAT is what this is...

*Sigh*

So this is what it feels like?

Interesting sensation...

:)))

The person last night fained that I was "fascinating"...my life "fascinating"...which could have been sincere or code for "you're nuts"....or a combination of the two. ;)

I think God sent this person to me, for me, though...Seriously. I think it was a test, a teachable moment, an "a ha"...and bless God's heart...it took nearly 12 hours to sink into my thick skull. :)

Yesterday I had the amazing honor of introducing our newest Alumni Endowed Scholars who will be entering the University of Arkansas this August and our two Alumni Endowed Scholars who graduate today.  Those who know my passion about all things scholarships, especially for my alma mater, know that there are not too many things that I would have been more excited or scared to do; it was a huge day. My heart was bursting.  All four of these amazing students are about to start new transitions. My wish for them is that they embrace their hearts as they step into their new journeys because it is their heart that got them to this point. That is a lesson I wish I had known at their delicate ages...18 and 22. That is a lesson I wish more of us knew.

Our lives begin and end with the beat of our hearts.

It is a powerful concept...the thought of leading your life solely with your heart. Not your family, not your relationships, not your job...your WHOLE life.

I have zero idea...zip...what the next 20+ years of my life will look like...much less the next six months, but what I do know...without a shadow of a doubt....is that my life and my actions will be more reflective of my heart, and less reflective of my wants....until such time that my heart and wants 100% align, 100% of the time.

I am not there yet, but I am making progress. Yesterday taught me that. That conversation taught me that. My heart tells me that.

"Above everything else guard your heart, because from it flow the springs of life." ~ Proverbs 4:23
 
"A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge." ~ Thomas Carlyle
 
"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice.and most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition." ~ Steve Jobs
 
"Prayer is not asking. It is a longing of the soul. It is daily admission of one's weakness. It is better in prayer to have a heart without words than words without a heart." ~ Mahatma Gandhi
 
and finally, the quote that I left the students with yesterday, and the one that is quite literally rocking my world these days...


"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
Theodore Roosevelt
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

 
May we all live our lives in such a way that daring greatly is the rule, not the exception.

Transition. Heart. Daring Greatly.

It has been quite the 48 hours. :)

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

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Icky Wicky Side of Brave


Whew!!!

For the coffee drinkers reading this...take another gulp. For those who dabble in a stronger spirit, this we would be the time to take a sip....or gulp. ;)

*Sigh*

A few weeks ago, I was honored to be asked to do a presentation that occurs later this week, and it is more of a facilitation than a presentation...but it doesn't matter because I am somewhere between sadness and pure terror.

So last week...not my best week ever. Challenging...well, that would be an understatement. Boy! 42 came in with a hammer. ;)  So, the concepts of being brave, vulnerability, how to Be., shame, and the all-time zinger..."you attract what you are"...well, these topics were harsh...because they were front-and-center...right in my face...all up in my personal space...too close for comfort....

You get the point. :)

I digress....

So, as I thought about the task that I knew was mine in preparing for this facilitation (I am being a little vague because I am not sure how big of a secret it is, and more than a few people that might not need to know read this ;)), I kept pushing it to the side...a task I DID not want. Okay, I wanted it...I was honored...but I did not feel worthy, and I was sure I could not get through it without crying...and well, nobody wants or needs to see that...:)

I have gravitated the past week between feeling tremendously blessed and severely cursed, but while the bluntness of the quote above should have taken me out. Taken. Me. Out. after a week like this...I went back to the task that lay before me and I smiled...broadly.

I have been honored to be a part of some amazing kids' lives. Well, they are not kids anymore. They are doing amazing things in Greece, in Africa, at Harvard, in Fayetteville, in Memphis, in Little Rock, and in hundreds of dots, big and small, in between on the map.  They are making a difference in their work, in their families, in their communities, in their worlds, and mostly in their own lives. They are brave. They are bold. They are remarkable. They are individuals.  I have had the blessing to be a part of their lives in the most minuscule of ways...through circumstance, geography, and mother of all gifts in this area...social media. I continue to watch them grow and change and do things that make me a little bit braver in my life...Every. Day. 

Who knew a bunch of 18 year olds could change my life...but they have...they did...they do...they will. :)))

For all of my big talk, I am the first to say that being brave sucks. Yeah...I said it...it SUCKS.  It is not easy. It is messy. It is sticky. It is the most icky wicky part of my life. It is all of that right before it is amazing...and brilliant....and a true testament to love...to connection...to life.

I am not worthy...right up until the point that I remember that I...am...in fact....Worthy.

I am going to cry this week. I am going to hurt. I am going to feel a crushing in my heart as I say some good-byes. I am going to feel unworthy. I am going to remind myself that I am worthy. I am going to believe I am worthy. I am going to be vulnerable in a room full of people. I am not going to care (maybe) what they think of me or my tears or my vulnerability or my exuberance towards a group of kids who amaze me and touch me deep in my heart.

You DO attract what you are...

It is time for me to get comfortable with that...I am a woman who is very uncomfortable right now. {Envision me squirming in my seat. :)}

I think the reminder for me this week is not simply that I do attract the good things in my life that come to me, but that I need to work to do more of whatever that is...and less of whatever is attracting negative energy towards me.

Hmmmm....

Hilde...just hush. :)))

I worry too much. I worry way too much. I had someone text me this week out of the blue that has been so cruel to me that even now it can take my breath, and I didn't respond...oh how I wanted to respond, but I didn't...I just deleted it...and went on.  In fact, I hadn't thought of it again until now....the point is that it is my choice on whether or not to accept that negativity into my life. I have to be okay that there are people in my life who don't and won't understand that...and that is okay...they haven't been in my moccasins...not even once.

A lot of the negative energy in our lives we let in ourselves, and let me tell you...that is one of the hardest things I have ever had to admit....and it took me a long time. A. Long. Time.

If I want goodness and bravery and vulnerability and empathy into my life...I have to be willing to live those things and accept people into my life who live those things as well...and then I have to be sure to demonstrate it to others.  You never know...the vulnerability you show, might be the catalyst in someone else breaking down their own walls and risking being brave.

This is a complicated subject that I am NO expert on...but I am learning...Every. Day. I am learning to be okay in showing others my growth...all the icky wicky messy growth. :)


"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."
 Theodore Roosevelt
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

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

Saturday, May 4, 2013

In Search of Be.

I am on the verge of losing me again...

I heard this album and this song for the first time this past week, and on this lazy Saturday morning, it is speaking to me...Holly Williams' Without You...and it is not speaking to me about being without someone else...it is speaking to me about being without me...Me.

I am on the verge of losing myself again, and I feel myself slipping into that vortex of taking care of everything and everyone but myself. My "role" since age 9 has been to "take care of things"...not to say that I am good at it...I am simply "owning" the fact that it is my role, and I slip into it instinctively without knowing it (most often) and before I know it...I have allowed my reservoir to be bled dry again...and there is nothing left. Nothing left...of me.

So...what is it going to be? Be?  Me...or everything else?


I cannot take care of everyone and everything else if I allow myself to wither down to dust. I have to feed my spirit...or I am worthless to others.

Worthless.

What does it mean to "be" in the body and spirit that God gave you? To be fully present in YOU? I have a craving to know, and yet a deep, tremendous fear of knowing what that would be like.  If fear is of the devil (and I personally believe it is), the devil is all over me on this.  In that broken spot of me of having to take care of everyone and everything, I have been convinced that if I do not in fact do that...everything will fall apart, and it will be all my fault...I will have let everyone down. Yet...insanely enough, it is by burning myself out and trying to in fact do it all, that I end up letting everyone down...mainly myself.

*Sigh*

What does it mean to be...Be. To be true to oneself. To be true to your heart? To be true to your spirit? To be true to your soul? To be true to your own body? To be true to your mind?

Seriously...what does it mean to just...Be.???

I don't know, but I am determined to find out.  I will not lose myself again in the busyness and demands of a life that I give power to control me. I am still the boss of me (says the 5 year old deep within).  I have a choice. I have a voice. I have a God given purpose. The busyness is my safe spot, and it will take true bravery to step out and simply...Be.

I want to think that I am getting better at being brave. ;)

Be.

What do you want to Be.?

"To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."
~e.e. cummings

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