Thursday, December 31, 2015

Well....This Is It

I don't know who is more ready for this purge to be over with....me or my loyal family and friends.

It is a toss up.

*Insert Big Uncomfortable Laugh Here*

Well....we are here. I am here. This is it.

The final day.

I remember back in late July/early August when I mapped out the rest of the year in a glorified plan of how it was all going to go with a nice wrap-up in December all easy-peasy and matter-of-fact.

*Insert Eye Roll*

Someone shoot me next time I do that...I annoy myself.

Pu-lease.

I have skidded, free-falled, careened, rolled, and literally nose-dived into this final day. December has been a BEAST! The week of the closets was so easy it most certainly set me up for over-confidence and failure for the week of my books. BUT that isn't true, because I did closets last (i.e., the week after) thinking that those were going to SLAY me. I had a week blocked out - it took me a day (a night actually). Say what?!?!?! Good thing...I spent the rest of the week back on books. *Insert Eye Roll* I am still shipping out books that I am "gifting" to others....yup, you read that right....still. STILL. I have literally been working on my books since November 30th.

Kill. Me. Now.

So....this is where I stand at 6 a.m. the morning of my final day....

  • Jeep is full of MORE packages to mail to others (i.e., gifting). UPS is my new BFF.
  • There are plenty of non-book packages still to ship and they are some special, special treasures that I have prayed and prayed and prayed over waiting until the very end to send (the truth is that there are a lot of items I am gifting that I still love very much, but they are no longer really "mine" or for me - it's complicated).
  • Still a few stacks of books - to keep (put up in shelves) and box up to mail/gift.
  • One tub in the living room that is so horrific to deal with I have been covertly moving it from room to room throughout the purge to avoid it which is to say oh it is in this room now so I will deal with it that day/week. *Insert Eye Roll*
  • Three boxes for the kids that are "special" plus another one that God put on my heart just this week (which is a good thing since I have been praying to God for FOUR months as to who should get this particular set of treasures). No God that was NOT sass that possibly you waited until the VERY last minute to answer that particular prayer. Yes sir, I will be taking a knee, yup two knees, at the altar Sunday begging for forgiveness for that one. *Deep Sigh*
  • Four boxes to ship that are going to take special "handling" and that is all I am going to say about those. *Chest Tightening Here*
  • A box of stuff for Sis that needs to be gone through one more time.
  • Miscellaneous small piles.

Now...there is also a (small...LOL) punch list still at my office which is more like I might actually pull the trigger on that match idea and light one in the pile of four boxes sitting by my desk. *Insert Nervous Laughter (or is that diabolical) Here*

A snapshot of the evil that is my iPhone (photo from last night).

Oh and because I know myself all too well, I scheduled professional house cleaners to come this afternoon for a three hour deep cleaning of my home because number one - I need the ADDITIONAL pressure cooker to be finished today (or at least have it all loaded in my jeep by the time they arrive) AND I have earned (paying) someone else to clean this place after all of this...*Insert Breaking Arm Patting Myself On The Back* (don't judge me...LOL)

So this little schedule and punch list of joy means that the "joy test" (how ironic *Insert Eye Roll*) will be taking place tonight beginning around 4-5 p.m. depending on the house cleaners. So...in my infinite wisdom (LOL) I have decided to purchase myself a bottle of the liquor store's best champagne, put on my favorite pajamas, and dive in....moving through my home room-by-room (drawer/cabinet/shelf) and touching every single thing I still hold in my possession and asking the question...I am doing the joy test on every item even if I am still up to ring in the new year (which by the way hasn't happened in about 4 or 5 years). Anything left to ship out or donate from it will be placed in the jeep and taken care of on Saturday (since Friday is a holiday).

I know what you are thinking....that punch list above is going to take you half a day?!?! Oh my yes...and you naïve little reader...OH. YES! I think you need to re-read how long I have been on books...a few stacks?!?! Yup that is going to take a bit. ;) Plus somewhere in the middle of that I have a couple of actual "work" to dos to complete with my business partner.

*Pause*

I had to go refill my coffee cup (it is now 6:30 a.m., and I have been up since shortly after 4 a.m., and this is my third or fourth cup of coffee).

The truth is that I had originally blocked out a lot of time for the joy test (which continued to get squeezed due to work demands and of course did I mention books have been a time-suck??), but I think this ending and time allotment (being forced upon me) is perfect. First, it is not going to allow me to dawdle, which the book I took the idea from frowns upon anyway, but I can see me struggling with that...AND....it allows me to end this year, this three years, this season...in JOY. Lets be honest.....the past three (or four) years have been plagued by loss, change, and the amount of stuff I have purged (I will share some statistics in a post later/after completed) borders on the obscene. Just the act of walking through my home and taking stock of what remains....well, there is some further healing and beauty in that...the fact that I will be in my pajamas with a glass of champagne in my hand...well, that isn't going to hurt either... ;)

 So...enough procrastinating....it is time to get after it.

*Deep Sigh*

Thank you?

I am not sure if that is a statement or a question.

I am not the same person inside or out that I was when this started....and like all things you both love and hate....saying good-bye is/will be difficult. There is no part of my life - physical, emotional, spiritual, or mental that this purge has not touched. Everything has been fair game. Everything.

When God says, "Are you ready to do it my way now?" A word of advice....weigh your answer carefully...take a deep breath....then answer. I wouldn't change my answer, but I laughingly wonder now if I shouldn't have taken a deep breath first. ;) God has taken me on the ride of a lifetime, and I know deep in my heart that all of this is simply a precursor to the bigger plans he has for my life in the days, weeks, months, and years to come.

*I am getting ahead of myself*

If you see this post today, I would simply ask that you say a prayer for me - mind/body/soul - because this might be the longest day of my life (to date). I am committed to be faithful to finishing this race well.

Also, thank you will never be enough. In just the past 24 hours, I have received some of the sweetest handwritten notes, text messages, instant messages, e-mails from friends, family, readers....like little angels you are all lifting me up and helping me across the finish line. If I had a nickel for every single time I have weighed the idea of giving up, I could retire today on Fiji. You don't do something like this alone. Not really. You need cheerleaders....you need angels. I have the VERY best heaven could assign to me. No...thank you will never be enough.

Well....this is it. Now...they all bowed their heads in prayer. :) ;)
 
**If you haven't watched/listened to "The Unmaking" by Nichole Nordeman yet, click HERE. I am not just saying this because it has become the theme song for the #threeyearpurgefest - it REALLY is the very best song. BUT should you take the time and read the lyrics of this song (the video also does that), you will be reading the story of my life from that cold January day in 2012 until now...and let me be clear....on the dawn of the final day of this specific journey, I can ABSOLUTELY "see the stars" and they are GLORIOUS!**

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Finding My Heart In Christmas Cards

I just finished my personal Christmas cards. A task I have been putting off since Thanksgiving because I just wasn't into it.

I think 7 days before Christmas is not that late.

Right?


I haven't sent Christmas cards in something like six years. I could be off, but I don't think so...

I have been pondering a lot lately how it is that we let things we love to do or be or wear get shoved in a corner, or a closet, or we simply silence a part of who we are....

How is that?

We all do it. We all do it All. The. Time.

I wore a poncho yesterday to work that I swear had not been on my body in every bit of four years, but maybe more. It isn't anything special. It has a hole in it, is matted in a couple of places, and I think I bought it off Ebay a decade or more ago, but I love it. I love everything about it from the colors to how it makes me feel. Joy. Yup. It definitely passes the joy test. ;)

So if all of that is true...why not wear it...like every single day?!

Good question.

Memories.

I tie objects to emotions. I tie emotions to memories. I tie memories to people and places. I tie people and places back again to the last emotion I had with them (people) or there (places). So a simple poncho that I once loved reminds me of people and places that hurt me so I keep that poncho in the back of a small closet collecting dust.

Around September of this year, I felt God doing something crazy inside my heart. I call them touchstone moments. I am not saying he hasn't always done this with me, but the frequency and poignancy has certainly intensified since September. If you haven't read past posts where I have written about them, a touchstone moment for me is where God takes me to a place, or puts an object in front of me, I hear an old song, or someone enters my life....and dozens of other ways....God takes me to the old pain and provides healing to my heart and creates a new memory with it/them. It happened so much in Atlanta at Catalyst in October, I almost didn't leave...my friend Sherri thought I was losing it. ;)

Once I started writing about them and sharing them (thank you Sherri and Sis), I was able to see clearly what was happening...I also soon realized that the deeper into the purge, and closer to the end of it, I got, the more they were happening and the tougher they were getting to get through. A couple have paralyzed me emotionally for nearly a week; I simply couldn't work through them without some time to process. I have also gotten close to cancelling the purge altogether; the pain too much to bear. Here I am though...two weeks from the end, and I am more determined than ever to finish; not just finish, but finish strong.

Thursday night, the company I co-founded three years ago had its first ever Christmas party. Hard as it is to believe, I was worried about everything going perfectly; I was genuinely nervous. It went off beautifully, no doubt due to so many praying for it...and praying for my poor heart. I have a tribe and a Sis that know me well....and I know they were all praying me through it. God did something crazy though...he reminded me of not why I am doing what I am doing, but why He has me doing what I am doing...


Before I knew it, it was the next morning, and I was running late to work and looked in my closet and for some reasons laid eyes on that poncho...before even thinking twice, I grabbed it and put it on. I looked in the mirror and grinned like a six year old on Christmas morning. Huh?!?!!?! I even took a quick selfie before I headed out the door.


Now what does a Christmas party and an old poncho have in common?!?!?!

Well...it took me until a little while ago to figure it out.

I haven't watched the movie Christmas Card since December 2011, but I couldn't shake it as I sat writing out Christmas cards this morning. I remembered how much I loved it and why, and I said I just don't need that film anymore...too many memories. Finally, I could feel God pestering me to play it (Direct TV connection issues, etc. God is relentless). I pushed play and watched it as I finished up my Christmas cards, and I didn't cry....I did however love it. I also remembered why I really love that movie, and it is because I love the time and effort the young woman put into writing out the Christmas cards, and I always dream of being a person who takes that kind of time each year...

So....here I am eight hours later with a stack of Christmas cards, and my heart is full...of gratitude and joy.


We are never, ever going to get to the bottom of something painful or uncomfortable unless we are willing to do the work to figure out what is causing it...have the tough conversations, unpack the box in the corner, read the box of old cards, watch the movie, read the book, put on the poncho, or host the Christmas party. We are never going to get the answers we seek or heal the wound or let go of the past until we embrace the uncomfortable, the pain, the unspoken.

I feel like Pig Pen in Peanuts. Wherever I go, I am stirring up dirt, but at least I am moving forward. At least I am trying. At least I am not letting the pain paralyze me.

When I was at Captivating in Colorado back in 2012, God spoke to me, and I wrote down every single word he said in my journal. I have shared those words with only a handful of people since then because they are sacred and beautiful to my heart. I see now that God was making me promises, but just like Sarah, I couldn't imagine that what God was saying could really come to pass. I had doubts. Also, to pick up what he was promising me, I was going to have to let go of two fistfuls of stuff that no longer belonged to me. It has taken me every single bit of these three years since to unclench my fists and slowly let go of all I held onto so tightly for oh so long....

....yes, some of those things are possessions, but even more they are thoughts, lies, shackles, people, ideals, beliefs, shame, and old scabbed over wounds. Oh and those wounds...some of those have been the hardest of all to let go of...because then you have nothing left to hide behind...talk about vulnerability. Allowing yourself to heal is the most vulnerable I have ever been. *Deep Breath*

I am SO grateful.

I sit here today with a stack of cards written to people who have loved me through the toughest 3-4 years of my life. They have believed in me. They have challenged me. They have inspired me. They have given of themselves to me. They have given me a place to sit a spell. They have pointed me to God. They have been present in my life (no easy task with me always moving so fast). They have hugged me when I couldn't form the words to express my need for one. They have shown up with food when they sensed I hadn't eaten well that day. They have sent me articles and books. They have taken me out for a glass of wine or a good meal. They have crisscrossed the U.S. and Haiti to hear and learn and be pushed with me. They have prayed for me and over me. They have moved me. They have unpacked me. They have decorated my home(s). They have helped me give away my treasures to help another. They have donated to causes that moved my heart. They have spoken truth into me and over me when the lies were drowning me. They have picked me up and dusted me off. They have stood between me and other's lies. They have stood next to me when others abandoned me. They have stood behind me and pushed when I was frozen in fear. They have loved me for all the right reasons and for no reason. They have let me love them. They have let me lean on them. They have let me grieve with them and for them. We have grieved together. They have let me know them as I was learning how to be known. They have held me when there were no words. They have laughed with me and at me. They have been encouragers in a world of naysayers. They have rebuked the enemy and called up the Lord, sometimes in the same breath. They are warriors and friends. They are family and peers. They are my tribe. They are my heart.

I have lost so much this past four years. More than even I thought possible back then. There were days and nights I didn't think I would survive the pain and loss, and even more days that I didn't believe I deserved to even if I could..........that is hard to write.

God asked me in 2012 if after a lifetime of believing in him, but not believing HIM, if I was ready to do it his way instead of mine...and after nearly a year of wrestling, I said yes. I was tired of being a half-hearted Christian and trying to control every single aspect of my life; I had NO idea those two were inter-connected (that would take a lot longer to learn). I was miserable. I had everything and nothing. I was clueless.

God is faithful.

Faithful.

God gives me touchstones to remind me that he can re-graft not simply my heart, but my memories. He can create love and joy where there was once only pain. He continues to do it over and over again. In the eyes of a young man who looks to you to mother him. In the multi-colored threads of a poncho. In a song from your childhood. In a container of body powder. In a map on a wall. In the words of a Christmas card and the film that inspires the love of them in your heart. In a text message from an old friend.

In this season of Advent, let it be known that God sent his son to capture my heart...

"Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland...I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise." - Isaiah 43: 18-21

...and he did. ❤️☀️

***As soon as I finished typing this and hit post, I saw a text from one of my C7 where they sent me this video not knowing if I had ever seen it...Beautiful Things. God absolutely can and does make "beautiful things out of dust" and let my life be a testament to that...thank you Judy for letting God use you to remind me. I love you my friend. :)

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

Saturday, December 12, 2015

The Final Full Weekend

...and so it begins...

Today starts my final FULL weekend of purging...three years. The next three weekends are full of surprises and holidays so this is IT. Next week starts the last full week and it will be the cherry on top (another post). 

So...this weekend I have to wrap up all of the hanging chads from all the various areas...a box of photos here and there, some piles of books, a rogue closet....then the final mass shipping of the last of my "gifting" and another round of donations to drop off or ship on Monday. My jeep is already full so this is clearly going to happen in phases.

On top of this, I have the regular...dishes, trash out, laundry, and grocery shopping. 

Finally, I have Christmas cards to finish and a few gifts to pick up. 

God woke me up at 5:30 a.m. this morning and I was about to start whining out loud and then he reminded me of my massive to do list. I explained how tired I was...how I was emotionally spent from a long week at work...and there was no empathy...but he did give me a burst of energy. By 7 a.m., I had dishes loaded and running, laundry started, and coffee brewing. On a Saturday. 

I want to quit. 

On any given day I have wanted to quit and/or want to quit. The struggle is as real as you can imagine. 

Yesterday one of my tribe showed up at my office to hang stuff in my office. An office I have been in for 20 months with nothing on the wall. It looks AMAZING! Hours later, another member of my tribe surprised with a hug and a visit...she said the spirit had moved her...I know that it did. By the time she arrived, I had cried ALL the tears twice (I did it one more time before the day ended around 7:30 p.m. and I headed home). I told her I wasn't sure if I could make it. I confessed the silence of God. I told her how tired and stressed I was...and on and on. Then I told her all I could count on was God. I was being forced to rely on a higher power because all of my earthly and human strength were completely gone. Gone.

...and wasn't that the point?!

I have the best tribe. 

I am so grateful that God gave me such a beautiful tribe that have been his feet and hands...not to mention hugs and words...in my life this past three years. 

So, on one of the most stressful work days of my year...on the most stressful work month of my year...on the eve of the craziest weekend of my #threeyearpurgefest...God sent little angels to whisper and hug and pray his strength and encouragement into me. 

God, I love you. With all my heart, I love you. 

❤️☀️




Saturday, December 5, 2015

To The Ridiculous, With Love

I got my feelings hurt earlier this week. At first, I rolled my eyes when I read the comment on a post I had written about my purge, and then I laughed it off. They don't get it, I thought out loud. No big deal.

Well, this morning I woke up realizing that I had basically blown off two purge nights this week due to "no big deal" (the one I mentioned above and a couple of other ones that happened this week). I had allowed others' actions and words towards me (and my actions) to sink in...last night I even allowed them to send me to bed early without doing my Advent readings.

Dangit!

I am exhausted. There is absolutely no doubt about it. It also isn't simply physical. Emotionally I am rung out like a rag doll. At this point, I am done stating, "THIS is the most painful thing I am going to come across." It isn't just stuff I have made a treasure of...it is stuff that I filed away as something I would get to, projects, to dos, wants, dreams, desires. For the love of all that is good and holy, I came across a check today that I had not deposited. A rather large check. Now I am hoping beyond hope that that it is a mistake. That I somehow deposited it electronically and forgot to note it on the check. I have NO idea. It is the type of check that I can get re-cut to me once I sort it all out, but it begs the question....What. The. Heck.?!?!? I sat in the floor (because at the time I was sitting cross-legged in the floor of my office at work going through boxes) laughing....Laughing. Out. Loud.

Here is the deal.

I take care of others before myself. I say yes too much. I don't say no enough. I am a dreamer. I have a lot of interests. I am naturally curious. I am a procrastinator. I make lots of to do lists. I take lots of notes.

Good. Grief.

I have done a lot of purging at the office over the past three years. I have gotten rid of a lot of stuff. If you have followed this journey, you know...20 years of planners, years of training, MBA textbooks and files, but I have also made my office a catch-all for things that were "work" related OR "important files" so for as much as I have gone through, I have had a lot of boxes added back...so there were leftover boxes and new boxes....and what a bloody mess (sorry I went into my British alter-ego voice; I blame my business partner changing Siri on his iPhone to a British accent and having to listen to it all week). 

There was a moment today, about midway through, that I had the brilliant idea to light a match and torch it all. The moment passed. LOL.

My friend sent me a lovely text midweek, knowing I was having a rough time and it said, "You know more than anyone what journey you are on and what God wants of you. Continue to hold His hand and walk with Him through this. Run your race. You know what you need to do. :) Cheering you on from the stands."

A woman could not have a better tribe.

All the prayers and all the words of support....and it took the ridiculous today to connect it all together for me to where it sank in....

I know this journey does not make sense for some or most, but it is what I need to do...for me....for my heart. I have TOO much stuff. It isn't guilt or even as simple as over-consumption, it is the fact that I have LIVED hard and fast for a lot of years and somewhere in all of this I forgot to savor all of the experiences, do natural intermittent purges along the way, finish a book (or books) before buying more, or any number of things that normal folk do in the course of their life. In addition, I have had an all-consuming professional life, worked my butt off for a MBA, and been on an excessive amount of board of directors....those three alone have left me with tons of books, papers, calendars, organizers, manuals, and on and on. Oh and then three years ago I started a company. I have worked solid since I was 16 with no more than a weekend between any one job. Hell....I didn't even take a real vacation until 2001. I have traveled...A. Lot....in the past 10 years, and I have never met a landscape that I did not want to have a treasure from...rock, plant, book, menu, magnet, ornament, and on and on.

If I am guilty of anything it is that I have lived TOO much. Which is laughable and frankly ridiculous. I have squeezed a lot into my years, and I find myself on that backside of 40 wanting something more, deeper. I have LOVED my life, and I am proud of what I have been able to accomplish. I have GREAT memories of people, places, and experiences. I have certificates, degrees, photos, and trinkets. I just don't need ALL of it. Some would say that I don't need ANY of it. Where I am today is simply trying to find a new balance that works for me.

Today I threw away a bunch of framed certificates and award letters. There was a time when I was in a career that measured those sorts of things...on the wall of your office. I remember thinking that a good life would be an office with walls framed with stuff like that. I am not that person anymore. My career is not like that anymore. Now, I am not totally without care for the experiences....I checked my LinkedIn profile to make sure they were noted on there, and then I threw them away. I don't want or need a wall of accomplishments in my office. That isn't who I am. It never was. It makes me uncomfortable. I can't explain to you why, but it does...and so I am not going to have it anymore. Period.

So....this is where I tell you how I got through the entire 12' x 12' office today that was packed as tight as a sardine when I arrived earlier today. That I had blocked off 8 hours and nailed it. Bam!

Oh...how I wish.

I got a LOT done. You can see my desk and my floor...like a lot of the floor. This is serious progress because neither could be seen without moving things around...it was BAD. I would post pictures, but you know a woman likes to keep some shred of dignity. I still have a few boxes to go through, but I always do a week long purge of my file cabinets over the last week of the year, so I feel strongly that I can get the remaining boxes and the file cabinets done in one week...that week. Bless. I also have some prints to hang on the wall, but all-in-all it is done.

I sweated, laughed, and cussed a little today. I found a box of old cards that had been sent to me when my step-grandfather and my stepfather passed away....I re-read every single one of them. I found thank you notes and drawings from children I had taught Junior Achievement to over a span of 12 years. I found old love notes that made me giggle. I found old photos my uncle had sent me to make me smile. I found a Bible I had meant to mail someone three years ago. I found a box of sand that I brought back from Haiti for a friend (boy are they going to be surprised to get that package). I have enough cords and stuff to open an IT store (my IT guy is going to have fun going through that). Pens....don't get me started on the INSANE number of pens I found today. I have a problem. I know. ;) I have three boxes and three pieces of furniture to donate that are getting picked up on Monday. I filled every trash can in the office (my staff is going to LOVE me) and most of the recycling bins. I moved and re-arranged furniture (finding my chi).

The truth is I feel amazing. It was a GREAT day. Hard work. Emotionally and physically draining, but a GREAT day. I am proud of myself. As Sis said, "Look what you did. Wow!!!" when I sent her before and after photos.

Earlier today, I found a photo of one of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes (he died two years ago today)...


What struck me re-reading that this morning was that there are all types of prisons - physical, emotional, mental. When you walk out of one of these prisons, or a season, these are good words to remember.

Let me tell you that at 8 p.m. at night after the day I have had....those words and his sentiment are even more poignant. Sometimes our "stuff" can hold bitterness and hatred for us, and it is only in the letting go of the item that you release all that junk you tied to it....like a leash, or an anchor.

I don't want to overstate that when I enter into 2016, I am crossing a threshold...and let me just say that I don't plan on taking anything but the good with me. That means I have to leave not just the bitterness and anger, but all of the bad stuff that masked itself as good in my life. All the whatmighthavebeens, shouldas, couldas, wouldas, and even the stuff that was very, VERY good but is now passed. It doesn't mean I won't remember, it just means I won't let the past (even the good parts) rob me of my future.

I am missing out on cool stuff today...time with family, time I could be resting, reading a good book, Christmas shopping...I am missing any and all of those things because I have to manage and organize and corral boxes and boxes of my past. I don't know about you, but that no longer seems like a good use of my time. So...I am going to push on. I have 25 days left of this purge. I need to make the most of every last one of them.

Please pray for me. Pray for my heart. Pray for stamina.

Thanks for listening and reading along on this journey.....even the ones that don't get it....you remind me why I am doing this, and I appreciate it.

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