Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Write for Your Life

I’ve kept a journal for many years. It’s been a great place to express my innermost thoughts and feelings that I don’t necessarily want to share with others. I talk to God in prayer trying to understand myself and the world around me. I have used it as a tool to banish all my inner demons and to heal my brokenness.

I began this endeavour in 1987 after reading that keeping a journal was very therapeutic. At that time in my life I was tormented by countless personal issues that were ruining my life so, I thought why not? I started with nothing more than a scribbler,my imperfect faith and my desire to be happy but, armed with what I had, I began to write trying to make sense of my life, praying I’d find that road to peace and joy. The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write.

I couldn’t believe the junk that came pouring out of me. It spilled out from places we keep hidden from everyone, sometimes even ourselves. I’d finally found a safe outlet to less loose. I could be angry, sad, frustrated and totally vulnerable. The journey was between me and my God. It’s been tumultuous, poignant and admittedly at times, an agonizingly difficult ride, but what a trip it’s been!

To my amazement as the years evolved I began to feel happier and more at peace. Much of my pain and brokenness were being healed. I was easier to be around and felt so much more open to loving and being loved. Life was so much better. Gradually through my journaling I began to understand and forgive those who had wounded me. I discovered that much of the harm hadn’t been intentional. For the most part I had just fallen victim to others pain; wounded people wound others. There was revelation after revelation throughout the years and I discovered that writing in my journal was not only therapeutic, but was a gateway to peace. Something about purging my soul on paper opened me to God’s healing touch. I was becoming the person I wanted to be and not furthering the damage. The buck was ending with me. I was beginning to feel restored and whole.

I still journal and although I wouldn’t say I’m completely fixed, I find my writing now is more about growth, possibility and seeking a higher road. I want to give back and share. It’s become a lifelong habit that I’m so grateful having discovered. If anyone feels like they have so much pain, anger and frustration bottled up that their souls might burst; I highly recommend journaling. Try it and see if helps vent some of those destructive emotions that are choking all the joy out of your life.

It doesn’t have to be fancy or even time-consuming. I do it most every morning over coffee, but the time is irrelevant. It’s private and needn’t be shared with anyone. In fact, most of my journals I’ve destroyed as I finished them. It isn’t about leaving a legacy or bearing one’s soul to the world. It’s about healing, growing, forgiving. It’s about peace and joy. Make a commitment to journal for one full year. It doesn’t need to be daily but, it must be regularly scheduled into your life.

I double-dog dare anyone to give it a fair trial and I promise if done with brutal honesty, regularity and thoughtful prayer, a day will arrive when you discover that you’ve exhausted most every negative emotion you possess and you’re able to forgive. Many of your demons will have vanished and joy has replaced brokenness. Write for those who’ve hurt you, for those you’ve hurt and to find the peace that surpasses all understanding. Write for your life.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

I am only a Resounding Gong

“To all those who have fallen prey to my piercing tongue I apologise & promise to come up higher...”

Sometimes I wonder why it is so easy for me (being honest) to judge, criticize and undermine others when the same energy and time could be used praising or helping? The problem lies within me. Every time I pass judgement without knowing the full story, which is most of the time, I send into the world more negative emotional energy. Isn’t that just what this world needs? Another naysayer? Critic? Cynic?

In truth, I inflate my own ego each time I do this and I would do well to mind my words because I truly believe what goes around, comes around. Or do I? If I truly believed this wouldn’t I guard my tongue more? After all, unjust and unfair criticism isn’t going to come back to me in a nice way. My actions belie my words. Why is it so difficult to get all the facts before I pass judgement? That might require consideration and valuing the truth more than my wee ego. Such effort involved! Discovering the truth of the situation might actually cause me to feel empathy and a desire to help; good lord I don’t want to go down that road called “caring”.

I often complain about our world being such a cold, heartless organism that has lost all authentic heart for our fellowman. When I encounter someone who initiates a genuine cause experienced at the core of their soul; I am pleasantly taken aback. What a breath of fresh air! So why can’t I breathe love into this world, too? Wouldn’t my time and energy be better valued using it to improve the world I’m so quick to condemn? Heh, is it possible I fall into that abyss of cold, heartless “they”?

Me who sees what wrong with others so effortlessly? Me who knows what everyone else should do? How could that possibly be? Ahhh, my words are my mirror. What value am I if I fail to understand or fail to love? The most excellent advice or wisdom in the world comes from the greatest book ever told:

1 Corinthians 13 (New International Version)
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor, and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

I would do well to pay attention....

Friday, January 22, 2010

Let’s Dance

I am thinking today about the many young women I know who are married and have or are planning a family. I am remembering how difficult it can be to grow a happy marriage, raise healthy, well-adjusted children and still find time to take care of oneself. It is one of life’s greatest challenges. When done well all the trials and tribulations of marriage and family are truly worth it, yet so many give up before any of the immense rewards are obtained. Why is that?

It’s said that statically about 40% of marriages fail. That’s an alarming rate and although I’m sure it’s a multi-layered and complex problem; I wonder if fundamentally we look at marriage in a wrong way? It is often described as hard work, a game, a trap, prison or hell on earth. Any and all of these descriptions imply a difficult and painful journey. If our psyche is tuned into thinking our marriage is nothing but work, a trap or any other dreadful synonym, is it surprising at all that so many couples split up? How can we possibly get through the pitfalls and challenges that living a lifetime with someone requires when we don’t even portray it in a joyful light?

In all fairness, marriage isn’t always joyful. It can be tremendously demanding and sometimes you do feel trapped. Then those times when the hubby makes you so mad you could spit nails; it does feel like hell on earth. Okay, I admit it and yes, have felt it, but my saving grace and finding my bliss changed with a word. Dance. Yes, dance. Marriage is like a dance. It’s such a nice word with such lovely connotations; right? Unless you’re dancing with someone with two left feet.... Ahhhhh; now you beginning to get it.

A new marriage is like a dance between two people who haven’t found their stride together. Sometimes you’re both trying to lead, sometimes both follow. You step on his feet and he steps on yours. You trip, he stumbles and sometimes you collapse in utter exhaustion and frustration from all the effort. Yet, sometimes you collapse in laughter and hilarity. These are the early years of a marriage. Then time moves on and....

As the years roll by and the music changes (diapers, bottles, teething) your partner and you begin to find a rhythm and a song that suits both. More years, more songs and soon you find you’re hardly ever tripping over each other any longer. The dance matures and your styles begin to merge. My goodness after many trials and much effort you find you’ve both become such accomplished dancers that you can swirl around the ballroom floor without missing a beat. You look beautiful together and there is so much joy!

It was worth all the sacrifices and painful experiences. You are so grateful you didn’t give up and look for another dance partner. Marriage like dancing takes practise, patience, respect and above all, tenacity. You’re so glad you stayed and danced....

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Answered Prayer

I recently got the news that I’ll likely need back surgery in the near future. To give some history; I originally injured my back at work over two years ago and shortly thereafter I took a not so graceful fall down our stairwell. The short of this is that I severely messed up my lower back and since August of last year I’ve been unable to work and am in constant pain.

It has been a very difficult time; a life changing time. I was one of those persons who would go, go, go, until I dropped. Not that I never relaxed; don’t get me wrong. I spent most evenings after the day’s work was done relaxing aka exhausted. Evenings for many years have been my precious time for solitude. This time is what recharged me for the next day’s work and work was my focus. The old adage “If you want something done; do it yourself” was my mantra. I felt drained, sleep-deprived and generally horrid. Sadly, despite these physical warnings, I carried on thinking one day there`ll be time to slow down and smell the roses.

Well, let me say, a back injury brought about that day. At first I tried to hobble through my work attempting to keep up; not asking for help and creating more pain, more exhaustion. I WAS NOT going to admit I needed help or I couldn`t do it. I refused to listen to loved ones, co-workers or even medical professionals. There was work to be done and I needed to do it! Stubborn arrogance! Stupidity!

The pain kept intensifying until it brought me to my knees and after several pity parties and many emotional tears God revealed to me that it was actually an answer to prayer. An answer to prayer! Being disabled! No one wants this kind of pain! I didn`t pray for pain! Was He crazy? Ah, but He reminded me, I had prayed for balance, simplicity, peace....

Epiphany arrived! God had been trying to show me for years how to slow down and achieve the life I really desired. Upon reflection I knew in my soul that I`d heard Him, but chose to ignore that ``Still, small voice``. I realized that my poor choices had brought me to this time in my life and it was no accident. I wanted my life to be simpler, but chose not to follow the route that would achieve it. Now I was forced to follow. It really was my answer to prayer, the hard way!

What lessons have I learned? Although it hasn`t been easy and quite out of character, I`m learning to delegate and ask for help. I`ve humbled myself and admit I`m not super-woman and can`t do everything. I`m learning to appreciate that tasks can be done over time and still get done. In fact, I think despite my disability I`m actually getting more accomplished over the long run because I accept help and pace myself in more constructive manner. Surprise! Surprise! There really is another way to live an accomplished life! Things still get done and I don`t have to do them all! Who knew?

I`m still a work in progress. You don`t unring a bell overnight, but despite the constant pain, I truly feel more at peace than I have in years. Life has become simpler and less rushed. I rest through the day and even take a nap. Oh the virtues of napping; another day`s blog!

It`s been a rough road to travel and it`s not over. I still must face surgery and don`t know if this will become a permanent disability, but I trust God`s ways. I`m learning to listen to the voice inside that possesses all the true wisdom. There`s nothing like a life-altering event to transform your focus. This truly has been an answer to prayer and I thank God for it; well most of the time anyway....

Monday, January 11, 2010

Let’s Laugh

What cracks you up? I mean the kind of laughter you feel from your nose to your toes? When did you last have a belly-hugging, tears flowing, can hardly breathe laugh? We don’t have enough of these moments in our lives. In fact, as we age, we laugh less and less. Children laugh about 400 times a day as compared to adults who laugh only 17 times a day and that’s on a good day.

So what happens to us? Why do we lose our humor or do we? Maybe we just get so caught up in being RESPONSIBLE adults that we forget how? Laughter is therapeutic with the only side effect perhaps a sore belly. It lowers blood pressure, increases our “happy” hormones, decreases stress and helps us sleep better. What’s not to like about laughter? Some of the best people to be around are those who see the humor in life.

So, I declare 2010 the year for bringing laughter back into fashion. I want to laugh like a child; free and unrestrained. Heh, none of us are going to get out alive so, why not laugh more? Okay, for all you sour pusses I promise to be serious where I need to be, but as for the rest of the time well....lets laugh!
To start us off on the right foot I’ve put together some jokes, quips and quotes. Feel free to laugh or at least crack a smile....

Why English is funny:
We must polish the Polish furniture.
He could lead if he would get the lead out.
The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

Things You Don't Want To Hear During a Surgery:
Accept this sacrifice, O Great Lord of Darkness
Well folks, this will be an experiment for all of us.
You sure it wasn't this leg?

Useless Inventions:(these are real)
A tape on how to put together a VCR
A book on how to read
Non stick Cello tape - it exists!!!!
A book on how to read
Solar Powered Flash Light
A black highlighter pen

There now I’ve brought some humour into the world. I just know my readers can do so much better. Why not put your favourite “funny” in comments so we all can get a good laugh. I love the following quote about laughter; I shall live by this....
“Even if there is nothing to laugh about, laugh on credit.” ~Author Unknown

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Time and Time Again

Why it is as time goes by many of us tend to cease or curtail doing things that once brought us immense enjoyment and relaxation? For instance, I like to fish in the summer. Not because I catch anything as a rule or even keep the fish if I do. I just like the experience. I especially like going early in the morning just as the sun sneaks over the horizon and the air is crispy, clean and fresh. The stillness is broken only by the occasional Loon calling or the splash of an errant fish. It’s so refreshing and natural I can feel the woes and stresses of the rat race drop away.

I love, love going to the mountains at least once every season. Their majesty makes me sense God and my place among nature. I feel like I belong to a greater plan and it inspires me. Each season is painted with an unique brush; more than my eye can take in, but my heart soaks up every detail. I wouldn’t want to live there because I know I’d lose my awe and gratitude over time. Familiarity breeds contempt.

Reading is one of my most gratifying experiences. Whether to inspire or carry me away on wings of fantasy; books are my dear friends. If I don’t read regularly I feel a void that I can’t find adequate words to describe. Books feed my spirit, awaken my imagination and bring life to the ordinary.

Going for a cruise with my hubby along the highways and byways engulfs me with joy. We will turn the tunes way up and rock on down the highway or delight in the conversation and ambience the open road creates. It doesn’t matter where we go. It isn’t the destination that matters, but the trip. Getting lost and trying to orientate ourselves by the sun is part of the hoot.

Sometimes in our busyness and rush through life we quit allowing time to do all that once lifted us up over the mundane. Time and time again we’re too busy raising kids, earning a living and all the real life issues can cause us to overlook finding space for those times that in truth, supply us with the nourishment we need to be fulfilled and satisfied.

My goal is to recapture on a consistent basis all that fills me up. The dishes can keep, laundry will wait and overtime will be there when I get back. Time won’t wait. It isn’t just a clique; it truly doesn’t. So, make it a habitual priority to gather up that fishing rod, open that book or whatever saturates your spirit. Make the time. Adjust your life and work your schedule around creating a life not just earning a living.

A Cleaning I Shall Go

Well it’s post holiday and the time has come to pack up and clean up all the remnants of another Christmas season. Luckily, I have some new products I was given to trial and they are just great!

To start I needed to scrub all the dishes throughout the season and there were plenty of them to trial the new dishwashing soap called “Dawn” with scrubbing bubbles. Great Product! It created a mountain of long-lasting bubbles that ripped through countless dirty dishes without having to stop, drain or refill the sink. I also, was given Cascade All-in-1 ActionPacs which I gave to my daughter as I don’t own a dishwasher. Well, I do, but her name is Barb and she isn’t quite so automatic! Anyway, my daughter loved this product and said she’d purchase it in a heartbeat.

Next I need to spray away stale odours from all those nonwashable surfaces like the furniture, rugs and dog kennel. Using Febreze limited edition fabric refresher in a holiday scent of Cranberries & Frost dispelled all the staleness and gave me another whiff of the season. Which is also, why I lit a Febreze Limited Edition Winter Evening Candle in the main living area and another in the Limited Edition Evergreen and Snow scent in the bedroom? Lovely! I saved these so I could prolong the scents of the holidays just wee bit longer.

I also was given to trial the Febreze Noticeable in Caramel Apple and Cranberry Frost scent.This is a super product it is not only a night light but, alternates these lovely scents that are just subtle enough not to overpower the area. Just a delicate scent that wafts down my hallway; superb!

On a more serious cleaning note I tried the Swifter 360 dusters and my goodness; talk about finding the most hidden, sneaky dust. Inside small vents plus around and under stereo equipment are just two examples of where this ideal tool cleans. I love it!
Then there was Mr. Faithful, Mr. Clean multi-surface spray with added Febreze Meadow Rain scent that sparkled up all my kitchen surfaces leaving a fresh, clean fragrance. I really like how this old stand-by that has been updated, but still consistent in cleaning power and quality.
There you have it on my cleaning experiences with these great products. I do recommend using them and although in limited edition holiday scents for the season; they come in many other wonderful year round scents. Their quality and effectiveness for getting the job done leaves you feeling your home sparkles. What more could a gal want?

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Heart of the Family

Today I’m preparing a birthday supper for my son-in-law. His birthday was actually Monday, but today was the convenient day for everyone to come over and break bread together. I’ve had several cancels due to illness and moving blues, but the guest list still includes 8 adults 3 granddaughters and 1 wee grandson. These birthday suppers have become a tradition and although originally confined to our immediate family of 4; now include 2 son-in-laws, 3 granddaughters, 1 grandson, 6 adopted adult children and 4 more grandchildren! These added family members are of the heart rather than blood, which brings me to the topic of this blog. Sorry, it isn’t going to be a blow by blow account of the birthday supper; menu and all that jazz. Ah gee.

What constitutes family? I grew up believing it meant related by blood whether I knew them or not. Anyone else was outside the circle. My parents weren’t particularly close to their siblings so; I never had any real relationships with Aunties, Uncles or Cousins. I did however grow up around a varied assortment of my parent’s friends some of which I grew quite fond of. A few felt like family, but in my heritage they were not blood and therefore not to be called Auntie, Uncle or any other familiar endearment. Sort of mystified me, but heh, I was a kid and that’s how it was. Then I grew up...

By the time I was married with children of my own, my father had passed on and my mother had become very sick with Alzheimer’s disease. My own siblings had moved on and weren’t overly taken with being enthusiastic kin to my children. My husband’s family lived a far distance away. I felt very sick at heart that my kids were missing out on real family interactions; which of course, had to be blood-related according to how I’d been tutored. What could I do? I couldn’t magically create family for them; now could I? Or could I?

It occurred to me that my husband and I had friends that felt closer than a brother. Our sisters and brothers of the heart could be my children’s family. Why not? Where was it written that we had to be blood related? Short of digging out the knife and doing the archaic ritual of becoming blood relatives with every close friend, (which sad to say, I tried once in an especially sentimental and inebriated state with a dear girlfriend – another story...) I brought down the house on my parents beliefs. Any friend who felt like family was adopted into our clan with love and generosity of the spirit. It felt right. It felt good.

It all started quite small and unremarkable. A sister here, a mother there and a couple of adopted kids added for fun. Soon our “family” grew and grew to a wholesome total of around 14! Not to mention the couple of complementary son-in-laws tossed into the mix! It was great! Our little foursome eventually became a very large family of about 20 and counting! Oh the chaos, noise and mess when we all gather for events like birthday suppers! Who could ask for more?

Will we add more family accomplices? Who knows? It depends where our hearts lead us. All I know as my husband and I grow older is that there is nothing more precious than family regardless blood or heart. Nothing like the warmth, fellowship and yes, even the chaos that a large family brings to the table. What a banquet we’ve been given!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Pure Joy

It’s 3:00 AM and I’ve been driven out of bed for the umpteenth time because of pain in my shoulder, lower back and right leg. It’s been five months since I’ve been able to work or function normally in any real sense of the word and I don’t see any relief in the immediate future. It is discouraging, it is depressing, and it is life.

You never know what curve balls life will throw that can change your life profoundly. You never know what mountain you’ll be asked to climb until it happens and then what...You can drown in a sea of self-pitying defeat or you can rise up early and meet it head on. It’s a choice you have to make and I choose to spit in the eye of adversity.

What better time to reflect than in the wee hours of the morning with the only sounds in the darkness are a ticking clock, my kitty purring and the whistle of a train in the distance. Reflect on not what hurts or what could’ve, would’ve, should’ve been, but what brings me joy.

I don’t mean the artificial joy that comes with buying something new or getting my own way or some other self-serving fixation that may bring a fleeting sense of joy or happiness. I mean the real deal. That which in my darkest moments makes me smile and lifts my spirits.

My grandchildren bring me the genuine article. Just thinking of their smiling faces, innocent questions and pure, unadulterated love brings me a profound delight that is gut-level deep. Aside from my own children nothing or no one has ever given me more happiness than the sight of their countenances. It is pure. It is honest. It is joy.

My puppy brings me joy. There is a rarely a day where I don’t find myself wholeheartedly laughing at his silly antics. He is underfoot, mischievous and quite frankly a pain in the butt, but he makes me feel better no matter how low I am.

Reading brings me joy. There is nothing like the smell and feel of a new hard cover book that can take me away into a different world. During that time I am transported into another life where I see new places, meet unusual people and undergo experiences I’d never take part in otherwise. It is fantasy quintessential.

Starting plants from seeds and watching them blossom into mature plants gives me joy. I wait anxiously like a new mother for those unborn seeds to burst forth and as the infant plants grow I worry and fuss over them like an overprotective hen. If one should die; I feel saddened, but those that brings forth luscious, mouth-watering fruit well...I feel like I touched God. Crazy, maybe...but everyone should try it at least once.

This brings me to my faith. It carries me, lifts me up and brings me joy. Without it I wouldn’t or couldn’t receive all the things that bring me joy. God gives me strength to weather the storms and to remember even in my darkest times He alone can heal the broken-hearted. Knowing this comforts me, heals me and brings me peace so I can truly enjoy all I mentioned and so much more.

Life hurts sometimes and it can be so difficult, but despite the pain if we uncluttered our minds and settled our spirits we don’t have to look far before we can find joy. It is in the ordinary, the every day and the mundane. Its right in front of us if we take the time to look; really look. Next time you’re feeling down, anxious or wrought up take the time to think about and even, write down all that brings you joy. Then rest there for awhile.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Resolutions are not for Wimps

I’m not sure about New Year resolutions. It’s said statistically they don’t last much past January for the average person, which would include me. What is it about resolutions that I can’t stick with? As I ponder this it seems that the start of a new year would be an ideal time to commit to something new. It has the sense of new beginnings and I feel very motivated and energised to get started. I want to make the changes in my life. Shouldn’t it be relatively easy to keep the resolutions when I’m on fire, revved up and ready to go? Yet the only easy part seems to be making the resolutions. Why is it I fizzle out so quickly? I feel like a cheap Wal-Mart candle that burns ever so brightly for about two hours then begins to melt into itself, sputtering, spitting out... I soon become another statistic year after year. Why? Why? Why?

I am a wimp. When it comes to change that might be uncomfortable I quickly cave and go back to my old habits which obviously appear to hurt less than following that diet, going on a budget or any other resolution I’ve devised. I never last long enough to get past the difficult part and have a “Rambo” kind of victory where I can just hear the music as I run that last half mile to the top of the stairs and crowds are cheering in my head at my determined success! Yea! NOT! I quit long before I can even get muscle cramps or a stitch in my side.

So, now in 2010 I once again want to make changes in my life; some small, some that will be painful. Will I cave by January 31st or before? If I follow my usual route I’ll be lucky to last one month. I am tired of being a wimp. I really would like to achieve a victory. But am I determined enough? Am I willing to suffer a little? Time will tell. I want to come back in a year and say I succeeded. How good would that feel?

So, I bid 2009 good-bye with a thankful “PHEW” and challenge myself to make it one month with my resolutions. Surely I can do one month? If I can do one then maybe two and hopefully three then..... My first resolution is to not wimp out on my resolutions. Wish me well on this journey; I’ll keep you posted.