You know the time! The four letter word ‘busy’ is how everyone is, when you ask how they are.
The mall Christmas decorations go up as soon as the trick or treaters go home. Today is officially 6 weeks until Christmas Morning. That would be 41 shopping days until little Johnny finds out if he can keep up with the Joneses – or not. Thanksgiving gets sandwiched between Halloween and Black Friday, shopping lists are made, dream holidays planned, credit cards get worn out and we step into the highest suicide rate of the year. Or not.
We actually have a choice in this.
Are we powerless victims to advertising? Or are we powerful believers in a redeeming, hope filled season? One where Jesus reigns?
Okay, honestly, I am mostly the powerful believer in a redeeming, hope filled, Jesus season with occasional tendencies toward powerless advertisement victim…Don’t judge me!
What are our options this year? How can we remain Christ centered? I could give you some lists (maybe next week).
How about one thing?
Is there one thing I could do to slow down, be thankful, remember who I am in Christ, stay focused on Jesus?
Yes. There. Is.
Celebrate the Lord’s Supper at home. Start with Thanksgiving!
Recently, as I have been reading my bible, I have been hit with such a huge realization. Jesus didn’t go to ‘church.’ He didn’t ever tell people to go to ‘church.’ He didn’t have a ‘church’ building campaign. He didn’t tell us to build a ‘church.’ The word translated into ‘church’ in our bibles was the word ekklesia and it means ‘called out ones.’ It refers to people not buildings.
I am for the the local ‘church’ buildings – they provide an amazing service. But I also believe we should not depend on the local church to ‘do’ our walk with Jesus for us. I love sharing communion with other believers in a church service. I think it is a holy moment. It’s even better in your own home!
Jesus didn’t take communion in a ‘church’ building. Or a synagogue. Or a temple. He broke bread, in a home, with his twelve friends (11 if you don’t count Judas a friend). These are the guys He did life with.
This famous ‘Last Supper’ bread breaking was during the Passover meal. This celebration was and is in remembrance of God’s deliverance of Israel. Jesus and the disciples were in someone’s home. In a guest room set up for this feast. For almost four hundred years after Christ’s resurrection, believers met in homes and shared communion in their own homes. (Mark 14:12-26, Matthew 26:17-30, Luke 22:7-23)
Some of my personal thoughts:
I think Jesus loved this! He broke bread and gave thanks as the risen Christ with the guys he met on the road to Emmaus! He loved being with people, enjoyed eating with them, feeding them (sometimes 5000 at a time)!
When I take Jesus with me when I am not in a ‘church’ building and place Him at the helm of my every day life – heaven smiles.
If we take communion at home in a biblical model (1 Corinthians 11:23-25):
1. We examine or test ourselves to see where our heart is at. What does this look like? I usually do this in a two step process:
(a) Do I need to forgive anyone? Close your eyes and ask God. Did anyone come to mind? If so – forgive the person – out loud (whether you feel like it or not doesn’t matter – just do it). Release them from your expectations and ask God to bless them.
(b) Am I believing any lies? Close your eyes and ask God. Did you hear a lie you are believing? If so – ask God to forgive you for believing the lie and ask Him what the truth is.
2. We give thanks. Whatever this looks like for you. What are you thankful for?
3. We break the bread. Jesus did this and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” As you take a bite of bread remember what Jesus has done, who He is, how much He loves you.
4. We take the cup. Jesus said, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” Drink from the cup (or a cup) and remember Jesus, consider the wonder of the new covenant – us, no longer separated from our Heavenly daddy!
It’s really that simple. And that beautiful. And that holy. In your own home. With your own family and or friends. Do it when you gather as a group or family in remembrance and honor of our Lord Jesus. Do it at home! Often.
Jesus never intended communion to be reserved for a ‘church building’ or ‘church setting.’ Heck, there weren’t any when he walked the planet.
Jesus wants to walk with, commune with, love and laugh with, guide, counsel, protect and bless you 24/7! Invite Him to dinner! (Revelation 3:20)
We set a place for Him at our home. I believe He is with us and will show up on my doorstep for dinner!
So much has happened since I last wrote here. Some, you all know, as all our lives have changed over the past 18 months. Other happenings are private and for another time. We all have that tipping point. For me, seeing my precious grandson ‘mask up’ for his first day of school was that point. It was four in the morning, and I couldn’t sleep. Less than a few weeks before school started, the local school system caved to Health Department pressure and initiated a mask mandate. I found a place to order vinyl lettering for my Jeep.
Because I feel so strongly about this, I thought I would share my WHY.
First and foremost as a mother and a grandmother I inherently KNOW that children are not supposed to do life or school – masked. This is as rooted in me as my faith.
I believe YOU know this too, yet it’s deeply uncomfortable to go against the ‘rules,’ or not comply. I get that. We have been largely raised to avoid confrontation. But some things are worth overcoming. Protecting our children is one of those things worth fighting for.
It is time WE grow up and protect the children and their rights to be children; to be enjoyed, celebrated, taught, learned from, allowed to be free and loved, to grow up healthy.
Children are the most joyous, creative human beings on our planet. WE all need their expression as much as they need to express themselves and to be seen and heard.
Can you imagine being in Kindergarten, trying to learn how to phonetically read while you and your teacher are masked?
Can you imagine running in gym or on a playground, pumping your legs and arms, while your lungs are trying to suck in clean air through a mask?
Can you imagine trying to learn social signals and skills while you cannot see 2/3rds of someone’s face?
Masking our children, those that are not legally able to vote because they are underage, should NOT be a mandate of any government – local or federal.
If it is a family choice, so be it, but CHOICE is the key word here.
Everyone says follow the science. You do understand that science is based on hypothesis, right? It’s like a real estate appraisal – it’s a professional’s opinion of value at a given date and time. And it changes. At least take a look at ‘science’ that comes to different conclusions.
How about we follow the common sense?
FYI: Most children (and their teachers) in Europe will not be wearing masks in school – based on ‘the science.’
These USA Mask Mandates are not requiring a certain mask that guarantees fresh air for our children’s developing brains OR zero transmission of biological material. Because there are not any. Heck you can just throw some string on any old material and the ‘mask police’ would consider you compliant. Where is the science in that?
We as adults, caretakers and those ushering in future generations, have a responsibility to all children. We cannot raise the next guardians of planet Earth in fear. We cannot teach compliance over freedom and health. We must love our children more than our comfort.
From some of my personal research from various sources:
A Mask Timeline…
February 5, 2020
As Covid-19 begins to spread across the globe, Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical adviser to the president, receives an email from a former senior US government official asking if she should wear a mask while traveling, as a precautionary measure.
He advises against it: “The typical mask you buy in the drug store is not really effective in keeping out [the] virus, which is small enough to pass through the material.”
February 28, 2020
“CDC does not currently recommend the use of face masks to help prevent novel #coronavirus,” the public health agency tweets.
February 29, 2020
Americans begin to panic-buy masks, greatly irritating the nation’s top health authorities.
“Seriously people- STOP BUYING MASKS! They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus,” US Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams tweets.
March 8, 2020
A month after the Trump administration declares a public health emergency due to the coronavirus outbreak, Fauci says in an interview with 60 Minutes: “There’s no reason to be walking around with a mask. When you’re in the middle of an outbreak, wearing a mask might make people feel a little bit better and it might even block a droplet, but it’s not providing the perfect protection that people think that it is.”
In keeping with longstanding CDC guidance, he stresses that masks should be reserved for healthcare providers and those who are ill.
March 29, 2020
Doubling down on his previous remarks, Surgeon General Adams underscores that his office has “consistently recommended against the general public wearing masks as there is scant or conflicting evidence they benefit individual wearers in a meaningful way.”
March 31, 2020
In an article dunking on Donald Trump’s suggestion that Americans could wear scarves to shield their faces from Covid-19, NBC facetiously reports: “While the science behind whether masks can prevent a person from catching the coronavirus hasn’t changed (a mask does not help a healthy person avoid infection), public guidance may be shifting.” In the same article, the outlet stresses that there is “no scientific evidence that wearing face coverings would have a measurable impact on flattening the coronavirus curve.”
On the same day, CNN reports that Fauci supports “broadening” mask use among the general public, provided there are enough face coverings for healthcare workers.
“Because if, in fact, a person who may or may not be infected wants to prevent infecting somebody else, the best way to do that is with a mask. Perhaps that’s the way to go,” Fauci declares, in a bold U-turn from his previous position on the matter.
April 2, 2020
The CDC’s FAQ page about Covid-19 reads: “CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a face mask to protect themselves from respiratory illnesses, including Covid-19. You should only wear a mask if a healthcare professional recommends it. A face mask should be used by people who have Covid-19 and are showing symptoms.”
April 3, 2020
Americans are suddenly informed that face masks should actually be worn by just about everyone.
As cities across the United States begin to lock down, the CDC advises Americans to voluntarily don cloth face masks, purportedly in a data-backed bid to help halt the virus. President Trump explains that the new guidance is prompted by concerns that seemingly healthy people are transmitting the disease: “You don’t seem to have symptoms and it still gets transferred.”
More than a decade of established public health policy goes out the window: The public should mask up. But not with medical-grade respirators – those are reserved for healthcare workers. Instead, people are urged to don cloth masks, which can be made at home in accordance with FDA manufacturing protocols.
The Masked War against Asymptomatic Spread of a Respiratory Virus – long regarded by the CDC as an unnecessary and futile endeavor – begins.
April 4, 2020
The CDC updates its FAQ page about Covid-19. Citing “new data about how Covid-19 spreads, along with evidence of widespread Covid-19 illness in communities across the country,” the agency now recommends the use of cloth face coverings. They should be worn by “people older than 2 years of age in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.” The CDC stresses that these new recommendations do not apply to people who are “unconscious.”
May – December 2020
At the direction of the CDC, state and local governments begin to impose mask mandates. ‘Karens’ do battle with mask-less grocery shoppers across the country. General chaos and deep paranoia ensue.
Pro-maskers and anti-maskers are now in mortal combat over the Asymptomatic Question. A smorgasbord of studies examining Covid-19 transmission cause further mayhem: Some researchers claim that asymptomatic spread is nothing to sneeze at, while other scientists struggle to identify a single case of asymptomatic transmission. The World Health Organization says that asymptomatic transmission is “very rare,” but then backpedals and declares more data is needed.
An article in the British Medical Journal notes that the whole debate seems rather silly considering that PCR tests do not distinguish live virus and therefore cannot reliably identify “asymptomatic” individuals: “As things stand, a person who tests positive with any kind of test may or may not have an active infection with live virus, and may or may not be infectious.”
February 10, 2021
The CDC publishes a study of its own claiming that two face masks – colloquially known as “double masking” – can reduce an individual’s exposure to coronavirus particles.
However, the agency notes that the findings do not mean that Americans should wear two disposable masks at the same time. Instead, the data points to why “wearing a well-fitting mask is so important.”
Everyone is very impressed, but by now masks are not in fashion. Millions of vaccinated Americans, who’d been told that getting jabbed would give them unprecedented protection against Covid-19, begin to wonder why they are being nudged to put on another mask instead of being encouraged to take off the face-covering that they’re already wearing.
March 8, 2021
Finally: Fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to wear masks when meeting indoors with close friends and family who have also been jabbed, the CDC announces. Vaccinated individuals are still warned against traveling or gathering in large groups.
April 27, 2021
The CDC says that fully vaccinated people can forgo masks at small outdoor gatherings. However, masks are still recommended when attending large outdoor events. Vaccinated individuals should also limit nursing home visits to “compassionate care situations.”
May 13, 2021
Americans who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 do not need to wear masks or adhere to social distancing rules indoors or outdoors, except under certain circumstances, the CDC announces.
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky describes the policy shift as an “exciting and powerful moment.”
July 9, 2021
Fully vaccinated teachers and students don’t need to wear masks inside school buildings, the CDC says, in updated guidance for schools.
July 21, 2021
Fauci tells CNBC that “the broad overall CDC recommendation is that if you are vaccinated, you are protected and you don’t need to wear a mask indoor or outdoors.” He then suggests that people living in areas with a “high level of transmission” should mask up anyway.
“If you want to go the extra mile of safety, even though you are vaccinated, when you’re indoors, particularly in crowded places, you might want to consider wearing a mask,” he says, seconds after citing CDC guidance stating the exact opposite.
July 27, 2021
Citing the spread of the more infectious Delta strain, the CDC recommends that fully vaccinated Americans living in areas with “substantial or high transmission” of Covid-19 should once again resume wearing masks indoors.
The agency also says that masks should be required of all staff and pupils at K-12 schools. Vaccinated individuals should wear face coverings when around family members who have compromised immune systems, or children who are too young to get the shot, the CDC further advises.
Heads down, masks up
So there you have it. As this modest historical survey demonstrates, the CDC, Fauci, and the entire US medical establishment have shown tremendous bravery as they diligently pursue this week’s rendition of The Science. Evidence can change over time. But only with masks does it seem to turn on a dime.
Americans live in the best of all possible masked worlds, and they have Anthony Fauci and the CDC to thank for it.
From a blog post by Dr. Jockers (drjockers.com), Face Masks. What Does the Science Really Say:
From this article: A 2006 study has found that just 20 minutes of wearing a close-fitting mask compromised breathing due to re-breathing. This can impair both cognitive and psychomotor abilities. A 2013 study has found that masks can lead to rebreathing causing fatigue, headaches, and weakness. Headaches associated with N95 face masks are fairly common. According to a 2008 study, even surgical face masks can lead to deoxygenation. A 2011 study, wearing a mask can increase anxiety, elevated stress hormones, panic attacks, and false suffocation signals due to reduced breathing.
The Effects of Face Masks on Psychological Well-Being
Face masks not only impact our physiological well-being but our psychological well-being as well. According to a 2014 study, seeing faces is critical for us to feel safe, to feel connected, and to communicate. Once we see masks, we cannot read other people which may lead to a fear response. Many of us associate masks with danger, threat, and fear. This is something we have learned throughout our lives and through generations.
This fear is in our subconscious and can be an automatic trigger that is hard to control even if we know that people in protective face masks are not dangerous. For children, the psychological impact of face masks can be particularly problematic. According to a 2020 study has also shown that the pandemic and social isolation have already affected our children’s well-being.
Our psychological response to face masks is also deeply connected to our physiology. Our body’s physiological experiences and reactions can activate psychological stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and fear. A 2005 found study has discovered that wearing a face mask may make breathing difficult which increases stress and over-stimulates our flight-or-fight system. Research has also shown that this abnormal stress due to wearing a mask and reducing your ability to breathe actually lowers your immune system as well (32). *This article provides solutions to boost immunity and health and sights its sources of information (unlike much of the information found on main stream media).
From this article: Summary: Children do not readily acquire SARS-CoV-2 (very low risk), spread it to other children or teachers, or endanger parents or others at home. This is the settled science. In the rare cases where a child contracts Covid virus it is very unusual for the child to get severely ill or die. Masking can do positive harm to children – as it can to some adults. But the cost benefit analysis is entirely different for adults and children – particularly younger children. Whatever arguments there may be for consenting adults – children should not be required to wear masks to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Of course, zero risk is not attainable – with or without masks, vaccines, therapeutics, distancing or anything else medicine may develop or government agencies may impose.
There is SO much More information available. Please don’t take my word for it – Search For Yourself!
Some tips: See who is banned from social media platforms and why? Censorship has never fostered quality debate. Try DuckDuckGo or an internet browser other than Google and be amazed at the different results that show up. Talk to people that believe differently than you – ask them to show you what they are basing their belief on (the laws, the research, the actual visit they made to their local hospital, etc.). Don’t discount the death of loved ones, but remember that we are all terminal. Do you want to raise our kids in fear of death or joy of life?
I challenge you to stand up and protect all children, the children in your life and those around you. Take the extra time, look at different sources of information, do your own research, draw your own conclusions.
YOU are NOT being a Good Citizen by simply listening to the government or the media and complying – life is more nuanced than that.
REMEMBER: WE the People ARE supposed to be the government. This is no longer true in America. Our most precious resource: THE CHILDREN are at risk. It is far past time for us to stand together, protect and UNMASK the Kids and help save their future!
I didn’t pick this word to be my word of the year for 2019. I picked the words: Express YOUrself. Doesn’t that sound empowering? Trendy? Fun? And about time? Yes.
By the second week of January I knew that ‘Surrender‘ would be my year theme. Things were happening whether I liked them or not. I had no control over these externals – it was simply life happening, unfolding in front of me. Did I like this? No. I actually nicknamed it: my just fu** it year. My expectations flew out the window and I settled in for what would come. I probably pouted some ( I mean really, is it ever going to be my turn – What about me – etc…???).
Then, like the serendipity of the Pied Piper, ‘surrender‘ messages invited me into a merry little dance. My choice, would I dance? Or would I fight the flow?
I recalled the words of Jesus, “For if you want to save your own life, you will lose it; but if you lose your life for me and for the gospel, you will save it.” (Mark 8:35) aka Surrender…
I turned on a Tony Robbins podcast. He was interviewing Michael Singer, author of The Untethered Soul. This book has sat on my to read list for over a year. The theme is surrender.
I read Richard Rohr’s daily meditation. January 12 was titled Awe and Surrender. This quote: “The spiritual journey is a constant interplay between moments of awe followed by a process of surrender to that moment.”
Years ago I read a book called Surrender to Motherhood. It helped me transition from childless to mother. I am eternally thankful.
Really – what do I truly have control over anyway? My own choices. What I do. What I say. How I react. What I think. How I feel. How I respond. What I choose. Who I am. Who I want to be. How I love.
I am completely seeing a theme here. My life is at this beautiful place that requires both my surrender AND my participation to Be Here Now.
Slowly, the goodness and familiarity of living life without all my expectations and judgements is seeping back in. Sigh.
A sacred space is opening back up deep inside me. I am breathing in life. I am here.
This opening isn’t necessarily about anything I expect to receive or come to me. It is more about allowing goodness to flow through me. It is internal and eternal instead of external.
I AM now JOYOUSLY anticipating each day of my SuRrendEr journey.
When we tap into our God/divine given creativity we become more of our true soul selves. We become explorers, observers, adventurers. We become seekers of truth and solutions and processes.
We become lovers of ourselves and of others.
Everyone is creative.
If you don’t believe this, I challenge you to discover your truth. Who told you you were not creative? What experience squelched your bright and personal expression of YOU? Please consider that this might be the lie.
The deep clenching painful chest emptiness that sneaks up and invites tears. A physical pain that feels like it could swallow me whole. I don’t know where this comes from or when it will appear. I just know it will.
Yet the freedom of allowing the pain surprisingly leads to release. As I embrace the ache and invite the sting of tears, I am lead out of the abyss.
This grief has been with me, maybe always. It is a deep and soulful cry for all that has been lost and all that is yet to be.
I don’t think this cavernous void will be filled in my lifetime.
My soul seeks heaven in the midst of this beautiful, messy, imperfect life.
By believing in the miraculous, wonder-full and joy-filled now and cradling the inexplicable heartache that seems to always linger beneath the surface, I am whole and present.
The peace, joy and knowing that there is more, a deeper truer story that I walk in, is my walk with Jesus.
Creativity seems to drip from their pores, their home is a decorator’s masterpiece, they paint, they write, they show up at poetry open mike night, they taught themselves guitar and now write music for a major label, they dress soho bohemian gypsy (and it works), they travel for Art Retreats and everything they touch looks like it came out of a Style – Pro DIY magazine.
Obviously ‘they’ were born with the ‘creativity’ gene.
But what about the rest of us?
I honestly believe we are all born with the CREATIVITY gene. I think part of being human dictates that we are creators.
After all, are we not created in the image of our Creator?
Even the first verb in the Bible is ‘created’. I don’t think that was a coincidence. There are a myriad of other verbs that could have been chosen for Genesis 1:1.
For instance: in the beginning:
God worked really hard… or
God talked a lot about…, or
God had a meeting…., or
God studied and went to school… or
God waved a magic wand…
You get the idea.
In the beginning God CREATED the heavens and the earth. If we are made in the image of our Creator, We Are Creative.
SO if Creative is WHO WE ARE…why do so many of us shy away from calling upon our creativity?
I think Brene Brown nailed it for me. She speaks at length to this issue in her shame research: “85% of the men and women who I interviewed remembered an event in school that was so shaming, it changed how they thought of themselves for the rest of their lives. For fifty percent of that 85%, those shame wounds were around creativity…. Fifty percent of those people have art scars, creativity scars, and so we have to go back and unearth that.”
I can also add:
Things that other’s of influence have said to or about us. It could have been as simple as having an artist sibling, and the family saying that he or she is the creative one. Or as cruel as a classmate making fun of our art, singing, acting or writing ability – or really – any other risky attempts on our part.
We also make lousy agreements with ourself. Like: I don’t have time for creativity because I have too many real responsibilities, or creativity is for other people, or I tried that and didn’t like it or creativity is only for those who paint, write, sing, act etc….
Creativity requires that we make the Try.
Failure is inevitable if creativity is the goal. Yay Failure! That means we tried! I don’t think of failure as an end – only a step along the way to success.
Creativity is the act of tapping into our soul, trying something we have not before, and letting the mess happen! It is taking risks and quieting critical voices, including our own inner critic. Creativity requires that we let go of comparison.
Most of us need a safe place to practice our creativity. Once we become comfortable exploring our creative side and express it regularly, we can be more creative everywhere.
Creativity doesn’t just show up in the arts. All of industry needs creative ideas. Parenting requires creativity in wheel barrow loads every week. Do you cook, landscape, garden, speak, teach, get dressed everyday, work, learn? If you do any of these things YOU are tapping into your creativity gene.
Try this journaling activity:
1. Try this on. Say, out loud, “I am creative.” How did it feel?
2. How about sitting with the question in prayer or meditation, “Am I believing any lies about my creativity?” Write down what you hear.
3. Now ask in prayer or meditation, “What is the truth about my creativity?” Write down what you hear.
(Hint: If it is negative you can be pretty sure you are still tapping into lies. If it is positive, you can be pretty sure you are tapping into the truth)
One of my favorite books for delving into our Creative Nature is The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. I spent about 6 months going through the exercises in her book and I still do Morning Pages on a regular basis.
I also enjoy Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
Tapping into ourselves as Creatives is usually a process. We have to sift through the junk that has been piled on, the poor self talk we may have adopted, our fear of trying and we must give up the practice of comparison.
It took me almost 50 years to call myself an artist and a writer, to truly embrace the creative process within me. It was worth every second of every year to be in this place of joyful freedom!
Do I still have doubts? Yes. But I don’t live there. Do I wish my art and writing were better? Heck yes AND that is why I do both everyday!
I encourage you to pick a creative endeavor– something outside of your daily work – to explore. Just try it, with no judgement, like a toddler learning to walk. Embrace being a novice, smile and applaud your tries. Start small or big, but start! You already know that secret thing that you would like to try – photography, ballroom dancing, art journaling, painting, steel sculpture, jewelry making, pottery, belly dancing, glass blowing, furniture making, photo editing, the list truly is endless!
Here is your permission slip – print it. Fill it out. Keep it where you can See it. Do it!
____________________________(your name) has my permission to
explore her/his most awesome creativity gene through the act
Ethics in Biomedical Medicine was one of my favorite elective classes when I was a university student. I was a business major and needed a few electives. This class fit perfectly into my schedule. Almost 30 years later, it remains one of the classes that made the biggest impact on my life and my health. The premise of the class was that, ultimately, I knew my body best and was responsible for my own wellness.
Thus started my journey of becoming healthy and taking responsibility for myself. By the way, I am still on that journey.
I am a questioner, a seeker and an experimenter when it comes to my health.
I think I have tried every diet under the sun, included this supplement, excluded this food group, lifted weights, aerobic exercised, endurance – HIIT – yoga trained, walked, jogged, ran and fasted. Yet, sadly, was not satisfied with my body. Or my health.
In my late twenties I inexplicably started putting on weight and suffered two miscarriages while trying to get pregnant with our third child. The miscarriages were devastating; the weight gain and low energy disheartening. I went to an overweight female PA who told me it wasn’t like I was obese, and to get used to weight gain and lower energy as I got older. Remember, I wasn’t even 30!
That horrible medical appointment sent me on a quest.
I knew my body wasn’t behaving normally for me. I researched, tried different doctors and finally landed on some possible solutions. I was diagnosed as hypothyroid. The month I started medication was the month I became pregnant with our third son. After our last child was born, I was diagnosed with clinical depression and later with adrenal fatigue. It seemed one thing after another was hitting me. And it probably didn’t help that I was practicing bulimic.
I had lived a lifetime of being the chubby girl, love doled out as food, not getting dessert when other kids did because of my weight, weigh-ins in our family kitchen and abuse of diet pills beginning in my very early teens. I lived knowing life would be so much better if I could just lose ‘X’ amount of pounds.
On this journey to wellness I began to realize some key ingredients to health.
There is Not a One Size fits all Diet or Exercise Plan.
There is Nota Magic Pill that will make you: thin, beautiful, popular, accepted, successful or loved.
I don’t have to tell you how many billions of dollars are spent annually on diet, health, fitness, prescription medicine, sick days, etc… the numbers are staggering.
I will tell you that Spiritual health is what ultimately guided me toward true physical health. I needed to feel like I was worthy of taking care of and lovable no matter what my size or physical appearance. For me, only a relationship with God could do that. Realizing the the Creator of the Universe loved Me and called Me, ‘Child’ changed everything! That same Creator loves YOU and thinks YOU are over the top incredible, wonderful, worthy and amazing!
What if we moved our amazing bodies? Whether this starts as a walk around the neighborhood you live in or it is training for a 5K – Our bodies were made for MOVEMENT. Doing this out of joy instead of punishment, out of ‘could’ instead of ‘should’ changed exercise for me. Adding physical play outdoors or indoors is something we have available to us (hopscotch, tag, jump rope, disc golf, bag toss, hiking, kayaking, bowling, biking, racquetball, tennis, skiing, swimming – really the list is endless)
What if we looked in the mirror each day and picked one feature or ability of ourself that we were grateful for? At the same time we quit negative self talk…Example: Barb – Your skin looks glowing today! Look at the muscles on your upper arms – way to go Sunshine! Wink, thumbs up and air kiss… Instead of: Barb, your butt and thighs are too big, look at that extra fat and skin around your belly… Do you see the POWER in this?
What if we enjoyed food and were thankful for it? Take a cooking class. Buy a new cookbook – a gorgeous book full of photos. Purchase wholesome locally sourced food. Discover new ways to prepare life giving vegetables and fruits. Quit eating when we are full. Ask ourselves if we are truly hungry before stuffing a feeling along with salty, crunchy or sweet. Could we stop using food for numbing? If we are anxious, sad, lonely, hurt, angry, fearful, uncomfortable how about taking a walk or journaling to consider our feelings. Our feelings matter and we deserve to delve deep into them, instead of eating them. Our enjoyment of food matters also. We need it for fuel AND it can also be a fulfilling part of being loving to ourselves and joyful each day.
What if we reinstated sitting at a beautifully set table (with friends, family or even alone) as a ritual of nourishment? We don’t have to be Martha Stewart here, but there is so much Soul Food that happens when we care about our surroundings! Light a candle, buy flowers for your table, use real plates and silverware, pour your water into a glass with ice and a slice of lemon, use a placemat. These rituals fill us up as much if not more than the wonderful food we serve. Be present and mind-FULL during eating.
What if we shed the negativity around our bodies, food, movement and lives? Can we suspend harsh judgements on ourselves? There are gazillions of dollars spent each year in marketing to make us feel ‘less than’… turn off your television, put an add blocker on your computer, listen to ad-free music, go on a media fast. Take a break from the nay-sayers and sabotaging people in your life. Send your self-critic on vacation. Acknowledge a negative feeling – but don’t partner with it or let it drive your actions. Be the boss of you. Dear guilt (fear, anxiety,etc..), you may not boss me anymore.
What if were relentless about our healthcare? Seriously, us looking out for us, is the best possible scenario. Find a health practitioner that partners with us, listens to us, hears us. I know healthcare is a hot topic these days. But even here – implementing the above five steps is such a huge movement toward wellness that this will seem easier. We can talk to our legislators. We can have an impact on health care. We can start at home, with ourselves, becoming more well and health conscious.
The simple act of believing we can make a difference in our wellness may be the biggest factor in our personal health.
I challenge us to one week of self kindness to ourselves! Let me know how it goes!
Only YOU can make YOU HAPPY. For a long time I did not believe this.
My wonderful husband and I used to have a recurring fight.
It went something like this:
Me: You never…. or… You always… or…. If only You would…
Wonderful Husband: I can’t do anything to make you happy…
Do these words sound familiar to you? Maybe they aren’t in a marriage. Maybe they are in a parent-child, sibling, work, school or friend relationship. Maybe it’s an ongoing internal conversation with yourself.
Through a very long process I discovered an amazing truth: I am the only one who can make me Happy.
I was 35.
I didn’t say I was a quick learner.
I am not an expert on how this sad state of affairs came to be, or maybe I am. However, I am becoming an expert on how my happiness truly is up to me.
You see, for the longest time (35 years) I believed that other’s actions or circumstances dictated my happiness. Have you ever been there?
If only…then I could be happy…
When … blah blah blah …then I will be happy…
They should … so I can be happy…
I get it.
I used to live there.
I am here to tell you there is a better way.
Because really? Do you have control over another human’s actions, decisions, thought processes? Do you have control over circumstances outside of You?
Really, what can we control? Really? Truly? Honestly?
For me, I have decided I have enough of a job controlling me. Who I am and who I want to be IS totally up to me.
And just being honest here, I am not an easy job.
I can be: bratty, bitchy, controlling, judgmental, jealous, over emotional, angry, critical, whiney, needy, cranky– all AT THE DROP OF A HAT!
I have a full time job managing me.
Do I really want to give you my power of happiness? Do I want to give a promotion, a salary, a number on a scale, a degree, a position, a relationship THE CONTROL of my happiness?
Unequivocally, my answer is NO!
This was a decision I guess I didn’t even realize I could make, until I did.
What if I could be happy because I chose to? Despite my circumstances?
This was novel thinking for me.
Frankly it seemed counterintuitive.
Until I started practicing it!
I have met, listened to, seen and read of people in horrible circumstances who walk in personal contentment and happiness. They do not let circumstances or people steal their joy.
As difficult and as simple as their solution is– here it is:
They choose happiness.
In spite of circumstances, people, externals– they choose this high road of happiness.
When I first heard of this crazy practice I spoofed it. Sure, those folks with everything going right in their world can be happy. But they should try my life!
Then I looked deeper. Happiness was showing up in the most unlikely humans. These were parents that had lost children. Parents who had been dealt the hand of Downs Syndrome or Autism or childhood Leukemia in their lives. These were spouses that had suffered betrayal, affairs, divorce or the death of a spouse. These were people who had lost everything financially through bankruptcy, natural disaster, embezzlement or economic downturn. These were people who were suffering terminal illness or were losing loved ones from disease and sickness. These were survivors of abuse, addiction, neglect, war, famine and terrorism. Happiness was seeming to bloom in some of the most unlikely places.
Of course, I have seen the opposite also. Those dealt an unbearable hand in life that chose bitterness, martyrdom, victimhoodor hatred.
So, as true to myself, I set some parameters.
Here are some questions I ask myself:
Is this something I have control over?
Am I the boss of this situation?
Is there any realistic action I can take to change this circumstance?
Am I allowing someone else’s actions to dictate how I feel?
Can I set a better boundary here – between this situation and me?
These are tough and real questions. I visit them often. I do not want to get sucked into someone else’s strife, issue or problem. I would rather be part of the solution. I know and have known tough circumstances. I can get stuck in the quagmire of despair or I can choose some happiness and levity along the way. Guess which one is more healthy and achieves better results?
And I still can choose my own happiness NO MATTER what is going on.
I am not saying that there is not a time for sadness, grief or anger. But I choose not to live there. I have agreed with myself that I can find happiness, even amongst grief and sorrow and mourning.
My, ‘how do you actually do this?’ goes like this:
I have to stay in a Soul Filled place of wellness. I have to take care of myself; my spiritual and physical needs. I need to be okay with me. And, I need to make the willful choice of happiness.
The Serenity Prayer comes to my mind:
God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, and
Wisdom to know the difference.
It could also be asked, what makes your heart sing?
Why is this even important?
Because, Dear One, You and Your Soul matter!
Sometimes I have needed permission to be good to myself. It has been easy for me to keep a hectic pace, do ‘good’ things for everyone and just be busy.
And some of this ‘serving others’ does fill my soul.
However, only when my soul is already in a filled up, healthy place, to begin with.
I am not saying you shouldn’t serve others if you are not filled up first. If you are human, you probably serve others in some way.
If you are female, you do serve others, usually a lot.
I am saying to sustain serving others requires that you recharge. And even if you don’t think you are in a ‘serving others’ place, we are all required to serve ourselves with good self care.
The best way I know how to do this is a Soul Filling Session!
What is a Soul Filling Session? I actually just made that up… but let’s delve a little deeper.
We all recharge in our own unique ways. When I am talking about Soul Filling, I am not only talking about physically rested, well nourished and healthy. I am talking something spiritual, sacred and soulful.
Whatever your belief system, most of us believe in a higher power, God, Jesus, Source etc…
I belong to a group of believers that agree our souls arrived here in this lifetime pure, perfect and unhindered. I also know that the journey of life has added struggle, lies and light dampening experience to every soul I have ever encountered.
The process of Soul Filling, for me, means to check out of my daily ‘to do’ list and check in to my sacred inner and outer space of being.
I am most Soul Present in:
This can look like being anywhere in nature, going for a walk outside, journaling in a peaceful setting, reading the Bible or a soul filling book, doing art in a room with a view, being anywhere in a natural settingor even being home in a quiet, lovely space I have created for prayer or meditation. These places are where I check in with my soul.
These places may look very different for you. And that is perfectly incredible and awesome that you have found your own Soul Filling experience!
Questions I may ask myself:
How am I?
Am I operating from love? Or am I operating from duty, fear, people pleasing, need for approval, obligation or guilt?
Am I believing a lie (or lies)? What is the truth?
How does my body feel? Healthy, energized, rested and well? Or am I tense, sick, in pain, tired or stressed?
Is my life currently aligned mostly with love, joy, peace or not? What about my relationships? My work? My home?
The answers to these questions give me clues. Even if I am in good places, but depleted, I know I need some Soul Filling.
My personal criteria for Soul Filling time/activities are:
I end up feeling more love, more joy and more peace.
I feel very connected to Jesus or my Source.
My shoulders relax and my breathing becomes deep and unhindered.
I urge you to spend some time thinking about what a personal Soul Filling Session might look like for you? Maybe even consider a few different scenarios. What if you only had 15 minutes? Or an hour? Maybe you can carve a weekend or a week to delve deep into filling your very precious Soul with what it most needs and desires.
What do you hear, see, feel when you ask, “What does a Soul Filling Session look like for me? What does my Soul most need?”
Sometimes my Soul desires solitude and nature. Other times my Soul needs to feel heard and understood by me or even someone near and dear to me. Frequently my Soul wants to check out of the daily routine and create, adventure or explore.
There is no right or wrong path to Soul Filling. The only wrong way would be to not do it at all.
This week for my Soul Filling I was able to intentionally carve out a number of time slots and various experiences. They ranged from five minutes to five hours. Here they are:
I walked and prayed down a beautiful country road, lined with trees turning colors of Autumn with golden sunshine dripping through the canopy cover.
I pondered the leaves gently falling from their Mother Tree to the Forest Floor.
I lit a candle – earthy and herbal, turned on some quiet Jazz music and read Richard Rohr’s daily email meditation.
I opened up my journal, did a free flowing – no judgement – cleanse of my thoughts, feelings, or observations – writing session. (I may have been bratty, bitchy, even ugly here – but I got it out from the inside of me).
I practiced daily gratitude journaling.
I lost myself in the creative practice of making art.
I played with my dogs – outside, pondered the beauty of crisp fall days and smelled the flowers (literally).
I escaped into a beautiful story wrapped in the pages of a book.
I spent relational connection time with my wonderful husband.
I chatted, at length, with some God girlfriends who fill my Soul.
I encourage YOU, Dear Heart, to discover and regularly visit Your Own Soul Filling Sessions.
You have just come across the most enchanting child.
This child is innocent, playful, curious and filled with joy. You are invited to join this child for a wondrous journey of exploration.
You clasp hands, feeling honored that this pure and bright little person trusts you and wants your companionship.
As you walk through a tall and misty forest you notice sounds and smells that you have forgotten to appreciate. The breeze is gently rustling through branches, birds are cavorting overhead and the earth smells fresh and musky at the same time. You breathe deeply. You are completely present and in the moment. Calm washes over you.
The child bends down and grabs a fallen feather, bright blue, glossy black and white. A small hand pulls you down to share this new found treasure. Your eyes meet.
Your gaze locks with this precious little one and you see your own eyes staring back at you.
This. Can’t. Be. You.
But it is.
Hot tears gather in your eyes. Your throat gets tight making it hard to swallow past the lump. Your chest painfully constricts. A tear escapes.
When did everything change? When did this innocence leave? When did you decide to put on masks to fit in? When did you squelch your dreams to meet other’s expectations? When did you adopt hard coping mechanisms to self protect?
When did you lose the Joyous Freedom of being the True You?
Do you know?
Somewhere along the path of life it seems we decide that there is a better way to be ourselves. Or circumstances dictate we retreat. We decide the True Me needs to hide, be protected, change, disappear, be quiet/louder/better… etc. But what if this is a Lie?
What if it is the True You that is the answer you have been longing for?
God only made one You.
One in 7.5 billion people.
This expression of YOU is unique and glorious because it is YOU!
So much of what we are called to do in our life time comes out of knowing our True self. Everyone seems to want to know their purpose. Everyone deeply wants to know they are okay.
“When you get your, ‘Who am I?’, question right, all of your, ‘What should I do?’ questions tend to take care of themselves.” -Richard Rohr, Falling Upward
When you ask the question, “Who am I?”, what is your answer?
Do you hear the voices of others, describing what you do in their lives? Do you hear tapes from your past, labeling you? Does your inner critic trump the loving voice of your spirit or of God?
Do you know what you truly like? Do you know what your love languages are? Do you know what you are good at? Do you know what your life’s purpose is? Do you know why your relationships work or don’t work? Do you know how others perceive you? Are you comfortable with yourself? Do you know what your strengths are? Do you know what your personality types are? Do you know if you are introverted or extroverted? Do you know your coping mechanisms? Do you know your conflict resolution style? Do you know how incredibly amazing YOU are?
If no one has ever encouraged you to go on this adventure, let me!
That cherished child we visited has gifts and talents and desires that are crying out to be set free and shared.
What if we take this on as an assignment?
There are SO many places to start. Taking the time for self exploration may be one of the most important things we ever do, whether alone; reading, praying, journaling or in in groups; intensives, retreats, counseling.
There are a load of free on line assessments to get you started. Some of my favorites are:
The 4 Tendencies
Look at the results. Buy the books. Sit with them. Journal about them. Do the assessments with a trusted friend. Pray about them. Ask your safe loved ones how they experience you. Be open to the answers you hear and the answers y0u discover.
Some clues for me that something is important for my soul include: physical responses like deeper breathing, shoulders relaxing or heart beating faster, sweaty palms. Sometimes, colors or words or smells stand out in a unique way. Other times a theme will start recurring in my life (I will see it everywhere!), like a certain phrase or Bible verse.
Pay attention Dear Heart, God is always talking to us – through our bodies, through nature, through our experiences and through others.
This getting to the True You is a lifetime process. There are seasons and situations that cause us to dig deeper and others where we are more reflective or engaged in different areas of our life. They are both to be expected and embraced.