There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens. ~Ecc. 3:1
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. ~Lam 3:21-23
As a part of adjusting to my “new normal”, I’ve found these verses to be a powerful comfort and reminder.
And I’ve begun to focus on finding the positives and possibilities in this new phase . . .
- more free time to pursue creative endeavors – write a new song, learn a new piano piece, cross-stitch, direct a show, be in a show, write . . . so many possibilities!
- a smaller grocery bill (although it is a bit of a struggle learning to cook for only two!)
- my own craft room! Two empty bedrooms in the house and I get to take over one. A space all my own!
- being a grandmother. Been at this new role for a month and I love it!
- less guilt about taking time for me whether it’s reading a book or getting a manicure.
Priority number one is to find some gal pals to hang out with. When you spend a couple decades as a mom to four AND you move to a new town with three of those kiddos in the midst of the busy teen years, finding friends to hang out with takes a backseat to being at concerts, musicals, plays, games, etc. Now that my free time is ALL mine, I can give myself the freedom to get to know some other fabulous women and build some supportive friendships.
There is still some adjusting that needs to take place, but I’ve taken the first few steps. I’m confident that I’ll find a way to make empty nesting fabulous!
Been away for awhile. Nothing major . . . it’s just multiple shows back to back and all the craziness a schedule like that imposes on life.
And it’s partly because I’ve been learning so much abut myself and a new approach to life and I’m not sure how to share it all! But here goes nothing.
I’ve begun a new workout regimen. I know, I know. Working out, trying to lose weight, . . . everyone tries, everyone fails. Here’s the thing – I am 4 days into the SECOND WEEK of a workout program that I got through Beach Body (it’s called CIZE and if you have seen the infomercials, it is just as fun as it looks. Maybe more!) and I’m loving it! I don’t think I’ve ever made it four days in a row with ANY work out plan before, much less being four days into the second week! Nothing crazy with my eating habits; I’ve just been watching my portion sizes and making smarter choices (fruit instead of junk food when I want something sweet, for example) and being very intentional about my water consumption. Since it’s a Beach Body program, I have access to a coach online and my coach happens to run an accountability group on that site plus a Facebook page.
I’m still working on the reading challenge that I started earlier. Turns out that taking 10 minutes a day to read is a FABULOUS form of self-care for yours truly! I’ve read genres I don’t usually venture into and found some of them rather enjoyable. A friend of mine created a group on Facebook for others doing the same challenge so I even have a group of people to help keep me on track.
Accountability. It’s kind of becoming a theme for me lately. From an intellectual perspective, I’ve understood the value of having others partner with you for various activities. But the true worth of accountability? For some reason, I never appreciated it or valued it much until now. I don’t mean someone pointing their finger saying, “You had better . . . ” or “Don’t you dare. . . .” I mean a person – or small group – that will be there to say “woo hoo” when you get it right, reach a goal, or finish a task OR that will help you brush yourself off and get back at it if you stumble.
We weren’t meant to do life alone. If we are wise, we will seek out others who will serve as accountability partners for us. I don’t mean sycophants who will tell us what they think we want to hear. I’m talking about individuals who will cheer us on when we get it right or help to redirect us when needed. These people need to use authentic praise where it is appropriate, words of encouragement when we’ve stumbled, and words of honest correction when we are out of line.
As important as it is to find people like this, I also want to learn how to a person like this. Here’s to being more intentional about both.
I spent all of yesterday and most of today curled up in the corner of one of the living room futons battling the worst respiratory “yuckiness” I’ve had in a long time. Maybe ever. Apart from the coughing, sneezing, and the occasional nap, I had much time to think and even did some praying. Almost all of this thinking and praying was specifically for a family member who is hurting. This big sister wishes she could do more than pray but the situation is so far out of my control it’s crazy.
My sister is hurting. Big time. Like “can’t-breathe-not-sure-how-to-keep-functioning” hurting. The circumstance is so huge that it has hurt much of the family – my sister more than any other, but my kids have all gotten stung as well. My other sister, the husbands, my parents . . . all are a little hurt/frustrated/angry. So take big sister anger and add some mama bear growl . . . let’s just say my first impulse when I heard about the situation a week ago was to jump on a plane and rush to the rescue; with violence, if necessary.
As I’ve prayed for my sister and her boys, I’ve also had to pray quite a bit about my own attitude. I don’t want to forgive. The offender hasn’t asked for forgiveness but forgiveness really isn’t about the other person, is it? I mean, there are so many times when the other person doesn’t care if we forgive or not. Forgiving is really about my releasing the right to seek revenge for the wrong. In this case, the wrong was not directly visited on me. But anyone who has ever been a big sister or a mom can tell you, I would probably be MORE forgiving if it was me – rather than my sister or my ducklings – that had been hurt directly.
I am an imperfect Jesus follower (aren’t we all!) and I know there are areas in which I need to grow. This whole week has revealed a very big one for me. I don’t want to forgive this person. Right now this person shows no interest in being forgiven or trying to make amends. But I’m only responsible my response, not the other person’s actions. And I REALLY DON’T WANT TO FORGIVE!!! *sigh* So now I know what I need to work on –
I need to get better at forgiving.
I need to get better at extending grace when others have screwed up big time.
I need to look to the person who “took the direct hit” for my cue on how to respond.
But I’ve also realized that I can drop everything and be there for hurting family and not, even for a moment, regret the time spent. In the time I’ve spent praying for this, I’ve been very honest about my feelings and asked for help growing up. And I’ve tried to be very aware of the usual cliches offered in situations like this and (hopefully!) avoided them.
Regardless of the eventual outcome – this whole thing could drag on for a year at the least – I have just a couple things I hope will be true in the end: (1) I want to be available as a sounding board/person to vent to/shoulder to cry on as often as possible and (2) I want to forgive the “guilty party” even if that person NEVER owns up to the hurtful actions.
Sometimes “adulting” is hard.
I’ve been away for quite some time because explaining where I am in my own personal growth is challenging at present. I am finding my personal paradigms blown to bits with new ones being rebuilt that look nothing like what I used to think faith was and how it worked. This passage – from Ted Dekker’s newest publication, “Waking Up: How I Found My Faith by Losing It” – slapped me right in the face with an intense level of personal conviction. I have so failed letting love define me and that has to change. Read and do with this what you will; it’s just the latest step in a new way of looking at faith and how it affects my daily behavior.
This post is going to lean toward that disjointed/random thoughts kind of thing. Nothing HUGELY profound has happened recently, but several small things or conversations have reminded me of lessons that life has helped me learn. So here they are!
- Forgiveness is almost never solely about the other person. Sometimes it’s not about them at all. It’s about letting go of your “right” to get revenge and choose to move forward with a positive attitude
- If you seek to be a positive person who looks for the good in others, you will sometimes get burned by those who are willing to take advantage of others. But be a positive person anyway. Don’t give the “users” any power over your attitude and perspective.
- Not every one will like the work you do. But if the majority of the feedback is positive, learn what you can to improve – because EVERYONE has room to improve – and move forward!
- Your passion will not always be understood by others around you but don’t walk away from it no matter what. Your passion is YOURS because it is what you are supposed to pursue. You will eventually find others who share your passion and they will gladly share the journey!
- If you need to take time for you . . . do it and don’t apologize! Even the most social butterfly will find him/herself in need of some “down” time. If you feel the urge to put on comfy clothes and turn on Netflix, then do it.
One of the college classes I teach is intended to be taken by education majors. I tell my students all the time that it is imperative that they seek to learn new things for the rest of their lives. So I’m grateful that at 46 I can have lessons reinforced and maybe even learn a new thing or two!
Every so often I have those days where a number of thoughts chase one another around in my brain. None of them overly profound, some of them just general thoughts, others related to specific events. Today has been such a day. This may be one of my more disjointed posts, but I would like to eventually sleep tonight and getting those thoughts written down somewhere – even if that somewhere is the internet! – is usually a good way to get my brain headed in the direction of quieting down.
Sometimes, at work or in a volunteer setting, you find yourself inheriting a “system” set up by someone else. This system may be extremely complete and efficient or completely a mess. Doesn’t matter. You have to make sure the system works for you. And sometimes that means re-working the system – throwing out what doesn’t work for you, tweaking the organizational system, etc. – and that’s okay! Doesn’t mean you don’t respect what came before – just means you want to do the job well!
Occasionally you find your opportunities changing. Sometimes the change doesn’t feel too good. There are times that such a feeling doesn’t ever change – sometimes it stinks from start to finish. But other times?! What seems to be a negative thing, opens the door to possibilities you hadn’t thought of before. It’s not that you didn’t love what you WERE doing. But you can quickly learn to embrace what WILL be happening!
Self-doubt is never productive. Ever. Everyone has bad days, everyone wants a do-over every now and then. But starting to focus on the goofs and the screw ups is never a good way to spend time. Admit mistakes, learn from them, make the necessary changes to move in a more positive direction – but don’t get mired in negativity. It isn’t good for you or those around you.
Regardless of age, we all need that one place we can go, walk through the door without knocking and say, “I’m here cuz I’ve had a lousy day and I need a hug.” We were never meant to do this circus called life alone and it can get to be just a bit too much to handle from time to time. It’s important to find that small circle of super-close friends/family/adopted family that will be there with a hug, some tissues, and your favorite ice cream flavor.
They are three simple stones. Nothing unusual or extravagant. But on a day in Wisconsin, while attending a Women’s retreat, they become incredibly significant to me. You see, the speaker had provided several of them and encouraged those listening to take as many as we believed we needed. We were to then name them with those things that we needed to let go of or forgive ourselves for. Then we were to spend some time in quiet meditation or prayer as we felt led and then get rid of the stones as a symbol of letting that “thing” go.
What I named them is not for public knowledge. Yet. It might be someday. It might not. For now, this picture sits in critical places on pieces of technology I use regularly so I see it often. And when I do, I remember those names. Then I remember the sound of each stone hitting the water as I physically let them all go. Sometimes I intentionally go after the picture because I keep trying to pick back up the junk I released. It’s familiar. It’s known. It might not have been healthy, it might have made me feel beaten down, but I knew how to do life with that “junk”. This is different. The “after” is new and not always easy.
But I’m not picking any of it up again. While the unknown can be frightening, there have been glimpses of a life that will be richer than I ever imagined. Simply because I let go of emotional and spiritual burdens that I was NEVER meant to carry in the first place.
I was having a conversation with myself earlier today. Don’t laugh. I’m not the only person that talks to herself. Others have told me they do it too. Now, if you want to question our sanity, that is an altogether different topic of discussion! But I digress.
The most recent conversation went something like this –
Me – Excuse me, self?
Self – Yes.
Me – Ya’ wanna know what I miss most from my “growing up” years?
Self – What?
Me – Piano lessons and practicing.
Self – *disbelieving pause* Come again?!
Me – Yeah. I miss having weekly lessons and having someone – or a couple of someone’s – holding me accountable for practicing during the week.
Self – But there were SEVERAL occasions during the earlier years when we would throw a bit of a fit when it came to practice.
Me – Well . . . yeah. But in middle school and high school? We actually liked it then!
Self – True. It was fun to conquer a really hard piece and see the progress.
Me – Oh! And remember Senior year?! Worked ALONE to get a piece ready for Solo and Ensemble and actually got a Division I rating?!
Self – I’ll never forget that! That Mozart piece was still a personal favorite.
Me – I know, right?!
Self – So why did we stop practicing like that? We’re a responsible adult now, we could set our own practice expectations. Why don’t we.
Me – It’s selfish.
Self – *pause* Huh?!
Me – It’s selfish. There is a family to take care of and work responsibilities. I mean, we still have rehearsing we have to do for the choral accompanist gigs and the music theater jobs.
Self – But it’s not the same.
Me – *sigh* No. It’s not even close.
Self – I still don’t get the selfish part.
Me – I’m a wife. A parent. I have responsibilities. The kind of songs I would want to learn would mean longer practice sessions and that feels like I’m cheating others out of my time or cheating on my responsibilities.
Self – *pause of disbelief* Are you kidding me?
Me – What?
Self – That’s nonsense! You are an individual with a unique identity that existed before your roles as wife, mother, employee, volunteer, etc. There is nothing selfish about making sure you don’t stagnate; that your identity continues to exist!
Me – Well, when you put it that way . . .
Self – So what piece are you going to assign yourself?
Me – Huh?
Self – Now that we have that silly “it’s selfish” nonsense dealt with, what piece are you going to set aside time to learn?
Me – I won’t have anywhere to perform it.
Self – So what?! Is the purpose a performance or feeding your heart?!
Me – *feeling a little ashamed* Feeding my heart
Self – Okay. So I’m asking you again – what piece are you going to start working on.
Me – Well, I haven’t finished learning Moonlight Sonata. And I still have a copy of Clair de Lune, and I’ve always wanted to . . .
Self – Now you’re talking.
I think you get the point. This is for me. The me that existed before wedding vows and nine months of waiting added pieces to my identity that I prize beyond words The me that has found solace, comfort, consolation, and joy by simply coaxing notes and rhythms from 88 black and white keys. The piano has always been my favorite instrument and sometimes even felt like a best friend! In recent years, I’ve restricted my rehearsal moments to those that would benefit others only. But that’s done. I have some pieces at home that I have not yet learned to play all the way through and that will be changing. Soon. No one else may ever hear them performed but that is SOOOOOO not the point. Now, if you will excuse me, I have some music to go look through!