YOU ARE A FREAKING MIRACLE! (#2 Wisdom Along the Way)

Dear Precious YOU,

Sometimes we forget who really are.

Or, maybe we never really knew.

Too much has happened.

We don’t have what it takes.

We’ve done too much harm.

We aren’t good enough.

We will never measure up.

We haven’t done enough.

In our mind we are broken, bad or beat down by the circumstances or choices of our lives.

I am here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way.

It is never too late to search for and accept a hand up, to dust off your knees, wipe the tears from your cheeks and discover the incredible creation that is YOU.

I am not talking false platitudes here.

You are a living, breathing, supernatural phenomenon!

Look at what YOU have been through.

Look at what YOU have survived!

You are still here.

That is NO accident.

Cloaking the hurt or shame with silence, anger, sarcasm or numbing may feel like the only safe option.

That is simply not true.

There is not a soul walking this planet who doesn’t have a tragedy in their story that would crack our hearts wide open. If we listened.

No one gets a free pass. No one has this thing called life all figured out. It may look that way from the outside, but trust me, beneath the surface we are all more alike than different.

This life walk were are on;

YOU can do it.

This knee buckling, heart breaking catastrophe;

YOU will get through it.

This dead end – brick wall – glass ceiling – mountain in front of you,

there is a WAY around or through it.

This thing called LIFE, we were never meant to do it alone.

Take this journey to YOU. Don’t stop. Get help. Don’t stop. Find a friend, a group, a church, a counselor. RELENTLESSLY search for those who lift you up, NOT those who commiserate with You.

The WORLD only gets ONE YOU.

I see the spark still burning in your eye, in your heart. Fan that flame!

I know it’s scary. Because I did it and I do it.

The BRAVEST thing I ever did was find a good counselor (it was my third attempt by the way), share my truth, share the shame and the hurts and the story that had been my life. This was not a one week or a one month process. This took YEARS of work and tears and digging to resurrect HOPE in my life. AND every single day of the painful journey, I would do again, to get to this Peace-full, Hope-full and Joy-full place I now live.

The WISEST thing I ever did was ask Jesus to help me. I still do this everyday.

These steps began a 16 year healing journey, that I am still on.

Do whatever it takes!

YOU are worth WHATEVER IT TAKES! You are worth the sacrifice, pushing through the fear, taking the time, showing up, spending the money and making the effort!

YOU are More than OKAY!

YOU are More than ENOUGH!

YOU ARE A FREAKING MIRACLE!

I PROMISE!

 

 RESOURCES:

  • Celebrate Recovery (for hurts, habits and hang-ups/ not only addiction)
  • 12 Step Programs
  • New Life Ministries  newlife.com (counselor network and intensives)
  • Your Local Church
  • Your School’s Counseling Office
  • braveliving.com Soul Restoration
  • Your friend with the kind eyes and a big heart
  • Falling Upward, by Richard Rohr
  • The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown
  • You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
  • Captivating or Wild at Heart, by Stasi and John Eldredge

Photo Credit: danielle-cohen.com

Finding Faith (#1 Wisdom along the Way)

 

Faith, like a flower, starts with a seed.

A simple whisper at the beginning of time blossoms into surety and confidence in that which we know for sure.

It is not a stationary or stagnant arrival, but an unfurling along the pathways of our life.

Faith, as intangible as it may seem, becomes the sinew that holds us together on our journey.

This mystical, magical, supernatural gift of a soul to unwavering knowing, believing and being, seems to happen in a myriad of ways. For me, it’s been a journey.

Often we grow up listening to our parent’s or elder’s beliefs, faith or religion. Frequently these same things we subconsciously adopt or reject. But have we took them off the shelf of our mind and moved them into the personal realm of our heart and soul, as our own?

My Faith Journey has been gloriously messy.

In my late teens and early twenties I was very positive of my faith. I would have told you I was a Christian. I would have told you a hundred things I would never do. I would have told you a set of hard and fast rules I lived by. I had faith in myself and really, nothing else.

Then my first child was born. I took one look at that miraculous little human and truly knew for the first time in my life that God was absolutely real. With that realization a chain reaction began in my life. This new thing I now knew: that without a doubt there was God. What else did I truly, gut wrenchingly know?

I found out I didn’t know, as in really have Faith, regarding that many things or people or principles in my life.

I could parrot a lot of what I had been taught. But I didn’t own, at a soul level, many of my ‘for sures.’ Like, ‘for sure,’ I would never: divorce, lie, cheat, have an affair, declare bankruptcy, drink too much, over eat, let someone see me cry, hit my child, be depressed, scream in public, go out without make up on, go to the grocery store in pajamas, be homeless, not pay my bills, become overweight…Then there were my ‘rules’ such as: Perception is everything…We work hard and play hard…etc… Were these my faith?

I now know that those are not ‘things’ for me to have faith in. Plus I failed at most of them! My behaviors and personal rules have very little to do with my faith and everything to do with the outcome of what my faith is. But they are not my faith.

Faith is so much deeper than something I said about myself or something I did or did not do.

So I went on a Faith exploration mission.

Faith, for me, had to do with God. At least that was where I was grabbed. I had this deep seated, organic, earthy, ethereal, wondrous nagging to know more. Faith might grab your attention at a sunrise, or a tragedy or a symphony. Really, there is no telling where you may first hear the whisper of Faith, calling you.

I do believe that Faith does keep whispering until we hear. And when we do hear, Faith sings a siren’s song pulling us deeply into the quest for more.

Because my Faith quest had to do with God, I began reading the Bible (or at least trying to). It didn’t make a lot of sense to me, so I found a church that taught the Bible. Both were good. But they weren’t this Faith thing calling me. I visited other churches. I went on spiritual retreats all over the country. I began to hear the voice of God through the teachers and pastors and books and wind and rushing water and waves and silent misty mornings. I began to see God on mission trips, in the faces of homeless people and the faces of CEOs, in the beautiful deeds of selfless people and in the ravages of war torn countries, and in the rebirth of the land every Spring and every morning in the sunrise.

I met Jesus of Nazareth. Not only in doctrine and theology. Not only in church and the Bible. Not only in other people. Not only in the beauty of creation. Not only in my own family. But also in the quiet still small voice that whispered through my soul. In my dark places. In my pain and in my grief. In my wonder and in my joy. In the mystery of not being able to clearly define, describe or logically explain this divine presence that had overtook my life.

I had found Faith. My Faith lies in Jesus. I have Faith that Love is the answer.

My call to you is not a call to Jesus. That is not my job.

Instead, I encourage you to listen to the whispers calling you. Seek that which draws your soul into a larger story. Unearth the delight, comfort and joy of Faith on your journey.

Who Am I to Talk About Wisdom?

 

For the longest time I have had the desire to share, in writing, life’s lessons gained on this journey. I call those lessons: Wisdom. I have thought about it, talked about it and even made some notes about it.

Then this:

Does this ever happen to you? Those pesky questions, like:

Who do I think I am to: write, teach, do art, run a business, start a business, lead a project, run a race, try out for that, sing, apply to that school, dance, speak, make a difference, etc…? I am sure you can fill in the blank for yourself.

Or maybe even a deeper self statement comes up. One that goes to the core of who we are. Something like: I have nothing of value to say. I am not: good enough, wise enough, pretty enough, smart enough, capable enough, tough enough, savvy enough, lovable enough, thin enough, strong enough to _________ (fill in the blank). Or, I am too loud, too much, too naive, too slow, too under-qualified, too old, too young to _________ (fill in the blank).

Wisdom is one of those topics that can bring these questions and thoughts knocking on my door.

There are even some quotes that come to my mind when I think of writing anything about wisdom:

Let no one deceive himself. If anyone among you thinks that he is wise in the this age, let him become a fool that he may become wise. -The Bible, 1 Corinthians 3:18.

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. – William Shakespeare.

I remember these quotes.

And I feel shame enter the room at the thought of daring to write about such a topic.

Then I take a deep breath.

I expose my deeper fears to the light.

With courage, I move forward.

I remember that courage can’t even be present if I am perfectly comfortable with something. Heck, so much of what we do that moves us forward is outside our comfort zone, involves change and/or risk and sometimes even terrifies us. Courage involves acknowledging those voices and trudging forward.

Which brings me back to my original question.

Who am I to write about wisdom?

I can answer this with both who I am AND who I am not.

I am not someone who has All the Answers or Everything figured out.

I am a student of life. I have been on this planet for over half a century. I am a mother, a grandmother, a daughter, a wife, a friend, a creative, an artist, a business owner, a writer, a lover of beauty, a lover of nature, a hearer, a listener and I am a seeker. I have walked through some deep valleys and rested on a mountaintop or two. I have done the dance of two steps forward and one step back, and sometimes ten steps back. AND I am still doing all these things!

I used to think I would arrive at this destination called: Grown Up and Life Figured Out. What I am learning is that there may not be such a place. It’s actually a huge relief!

This, for me, is the wisdom I would like to share; simply the lessons I have walked in and through on my journey. My lessons may or may not resonate with you. That is okay with me. In fact I welcome a conversation!

I want to write about what I’ve learned as a legacy to my children and their children. I have a beautiful grand baby. He is one of my favorite people. I have such outrageous love for him. I am so proud of and in love with my husband, sons and daughters-in-love. I want them to know how their lives and wisdom have affected me and my journey. I want them to know the lessons I’ve learned, the mistakes I’ve made and maybe, just maybe, help them on their journey. If I were to die tomorrow I don’t long to leave a legacy of things – I would rather leave a wisdom legacy of love.

I had a deep desire as a younger person for a mentor, a teacher, a cheerleader to come along side my life. I knew there was a more excellent way to walk through this life.  I read every book I could find. I went to seminars and conferences. I took classes. I spent years in counseling. I journaled. I prayed. I sought Jesus. I cultivated wise friendships. I still do everyone of these things. I always will.

My hope, is in writing about wisdom,  a conversation will develop. I am hoping encouragement will happen. I am writing to not only future generations, but to a younger me. 

I am not claiming to be All Wise.

I only desire to share some Wisdom I have Learned along the Way.

 

Photo Credit: Danielle-Cohen.com

What is Wisdom?

Some say the elephant is wise, others say the owl. To some wisdom is an animal, to others a person, a parent or a mentor. To others wisdom is a philosophy, a religion or God.

According to Merriam Webster:

Definition of wisdom
1. a : accumulated philosophic or scientific learning : knowledge
b : ability to discern inner qualities and relationships : insight
c : good sense : judgment
d : generally accepted belief
2. a wise attitude, belief, or course of action
3. the teachings of the ancient wise men

According to the Christian Bible Reference Site: In the Biblical sense, wisdom is the “ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding.” (Lockyer p. 1103)

For me: Wisdom is a journey. It is a chosen path based on experience, failure, success and perseverance. I have often learned more and become more wise by my failure than through my success. There is just something more true about the ability to fall down, shake it off and get back up again to try again. The sheer resilience, the hope found in overcoming – just doesn’t happen in the easy ‘win.’

And you know what else? The wisest women and men I have met will not claim to have ‘it’ all together. Instead they tell the story of their life, the wisdom journey that accumulated over years, and tears and sweat. Yet when I listen to the details of their life experience, I hear the interwoven choice of joy. This joy seems to show up by sheer will in the face of incredible opposition. I am always humbled and honored to sit at the feet of those who care to share their life lessons with me.

Wisdom is portrayed as a woman in the Bible. I kind of really like that, probably because I am a woman… Proverbs 4:5-9 says:

Get wisdom, get understanding;
    do not forget my words or turn away from them.
 Do not forsake wisdom, and she will protect you;
    love her, and she will watch over you.
The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom.
    Though it cost all you have, get understanding. 

Cherish her, and she will exalt you;
    embrace her, and she will honor you.
 She will give you a garland to grace your head
    and present you with a glorious crown.

 There are wisdom traditions throughout our world and history. Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Vedanta, Daoism; all manner of religion or philosophy call upon the people to grow in this practice or knowledge. Wisdom seems to be a large part of the path to maturity and completely transformative to our nature. Think hot headed person vs. wise person and you probably just formed a complete mental picture of each.

So how do we find this Wisdom Path? Must we fail so frequently as to become discouraged, depressed or even victimized before we get wise? Maybe. Are there books and teachings to follow to avoid the shortcomings of not yet being wise? Probably. Are there people that are alive and breathing that are more wise than ourselves to glean from? Absolutely!

What if we stepped out and began seeking wisdom? What if we shared the wisdom we have learned, stumbled upon or been hit over the head with? What if we had discussions concerning wisdom?

I don’t know about you, but I personally missed wise counsel – probably by no ones fault but my own. I am sure pride got in my way. Not just pride of knowing ‘it’ all but also pride that created a barrier for me to ask for someone else’s wisdom. I had no wisdom practice. I looked for no teacher.

Society today no longer lives in a familial network of generational wisdom in the same house, sometimes not even in the same community. We don’t honor Wise elders. In fact we don’t even like the word ‘old’ or ‘elder.’ Outside of certain Universities or religions, we don’t even consider wisdom.

One of the things that I so would have appreciated as a younger person was someone to come along side me and share what they had learned with me. Not in a judgemental, ‘You Should…’ sort of way, but in a, ‘Here is what happened and what I found/learned…’ sort of way. I knew I wanted a different way than the way I grew up – I desired something kinder, more loving and wiser. Now I can be that person to my younger self. In NO way, shape or form do I proclaim to have this thing called ‘life’ figured out. But I have learned a lot, I have come a long way. I bet you have too! At age 50, I am deciding to share the lessons I have learned and the wisdom I have gained a long the way.

In the next days, weeks, months I am choosing to write the lessons I wish I knew when I was in my twenties (and 30’s and 40’s – I didn’t say I was a fast learner). I hope you will jump in and enjoy the Wisdom discussion with me! I would love to hear what wisdom means to you!


Call of My Wild Soul

Sometimes, when you least expect it, and think it can’t possibly happen this BIG, this WAY, ever again – our Hearts are Cracked Wide Open.

God has been this way for me for many years now, and I am pretty sure, I will never get used to or expect the expansive goodness that comes from our Creator.

For me, my filter is Jesus. And no, I am not saying He must be yours. I simply ache to share my experience.

This last week I was at Ghost Ranch in Abiquiu, New Mexico for an art retreat titled: Call of the Wild Soul. It was incredible.

First and foremost, I admit, I cry every time I see the Rocky Mountains. I am a Midwesterner whose heart and soul lives in the mountain forests and streams. My husband loves the Caribbean, so we have compromised and I also love the island of Captiva. But, I HEAR GOD in the mountains. And I hear the whisper of creation through the mountains, valley, cedars, water and rocks of this rugged land.

Call of the Wild Soul is an art retreat. So you think: artists making or teaching art. Right? But this was So Much More.

First, Ghost Ranch has a rich and creative history. It is where Georgia O’Keeffe sequestered herself and painted many of her famous paintings. It is a land rich with a checkered past of artists, outlaws, natives, entrepreneurs and religious icons. Second, it is a thin place. Ghost Ranch and its 21,000 acres are one of those places where heaven and earth intermingle. You simply cannot walk on its land and not feel a connection to something larger than yourself. There is even a labyrinth set up for whatever religious practice you prefer. Currently the Ranch is owned by the Presbyterian Church, and there are many beautiful and stunning places to worship.

Next, imagine a place where visual artists, Bluegrass artists, bird watchers, travelers, cowboys and truth seekers all meet up to experience what the wildness of the land has to offer. Pure serendipity happens. All meld together. It Is Magical.

While I was at this amazing retreat I experienced new art technique, new ways to connect to nature, camaraderie with an amazing sisterhood, and brotherhood, and at one-ness with the land and nature. My cup is full and overflowing!

At the same time all this was happening I did some growing up. As much as I loved all the classes and teachers, I was able to follow my own compass. When a time came to follow my own heart and joy versus curriculum, I chose me. This was a huge and transformative experience for me. As much as I would like to say I am no longer a people pleaser, I still like to go with the flow to not rock the boat or hurt people’s feelings. I was presented with the opportunity to conform to a class that wasn’t resonating with me. I chose not to attend the second day and instead attend to the joy of following my heart. And I Did. It was like breaking free from a self imposed cage!

During this same time period, I opened to a different way of knowing and experiencing creation. It was world changing for me. I have always been drawn to nature and animals AND almost felt guilty or persecuted for my love of the same. Here, at Call of the Wild Soul, I was released to be a complete lover of nature, animals and ALL creation. It was Soul Affirming. This happened because of the organizer, Erin Faith Allen; the setting, Ghost Ranch and the class Environmental Self Portraiture led by Melody Ross and Pixie Lighthorse.

Gratitude and abundant thanks to all who made this possible.

Gesso + Jesus

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Let me tell you about gesso. First it is pronounced, “jess-o.” It took me a couple adult years doing art to realize this proper pronunciation, marking me a novice in the art field. I am okay with that, because I have embraced being a novice (most of the time).

Gesso is a base coat or primer for many art substrates, including canvas, wood or paper. Gesso changes how art medium interacts with the substrate. It can seal a surface, make a material more absorbent or give it more, “tooth.” Gesso can also be used to cover mistakes and start over.

I love gesso. It reminds me of Jesus.

I really enjoy working with canvas, board or paper primed with gesso. It allows me certain assumptions. I know the next layer of paint or graphite or pastel will react a certain way. I also know my canvas will be easier to work with.

People are like that. Myself included. I am WAY easier to work with, with Jesus. I wont go into a long story here, or doctrine or theology. What I will say is this: My life before following Jesus was completely different than my life is now. I live wrapped in the security blanket of God Love that marks even my worst days with a spark of joy and peace.

Back to gesso… It can also cover an art mistake like nothing else! Wonky eye? Gesso (see photo). Missed perspective? Gesso. Out of proportion body? Gesso. You get the idea. Not only does gesso cover the mistake, it gives you a brand new base to start over from.

I know! Just like Jesus!

Walking with Jesus has given me a clean canvas to create on, daily. I have embraced the Jesus gesso of being forgiven and set free (from addiction, depression, shame, anger, hopelessness). Just like in art, and with gesso, I continue to work through each day. Neither Jesus or gesso are a magic wand. But they are pretty darn close! Jesus truly can take all our mistakes and make beautiful art from them.

As I am growing, journeying, as a human and an artist – I see life’s lessons mirrored in art. I know my art can always improve with the help of gesso. And my life continues to expand with a Jesus walk.

Showing Up and Sharing

I recently have had the honor of being asked to participate in a  project sharing stories of ‘FamilyPreneurs.’ I know it’s not a real word…YET! I want to share here. Following is our short BIO for the project:

Nicholson-79

Our story is a Faith story. Jeff and I will celebrate 27 years of marriage this year, by the grace of God. Our family includes three wonderful sons, two daughters-in-love and a very precious grand baby. We also own and partner in four companies that employ approximately 400 people.

Entrepreneurship has afforded our family more benefits than a simple biography could encapsulate. But I’ll try: Income, outrageous ability to be generous, time and education flexibility, travel, homes, cars, etc… It has also cost us: time, flexibility, relationships, travel, homes, cars etc… And it almost cost us our marriage.

Jeff and I were not raised in homes that followed Jesus, so we truly didn’t know there was a better way to do life, relationships and business. We were honest, hardworking, struggling, hard people. We were trying to do everything ‘right’ and the way we were ‘taught.’ You know – work our asses off, educate our children in a traditional setting with emphasis on performance and grades, make everything on the outside ‘look perfect.’ On the inside we were dying. Our marriage was in shambles. I was clinically depressed while on depression medication. Our children had diagnosis of ADHD, dyslexia and ADD. We survived embezzlement – just barely – and had deep mistrust issues with everyone. What a ride!

Discovering and surrendering to a relationship with our Creator changed everything. I started contemplating and seeking Jesus during a two year stint of therapy. Don’t get me wrong, it was (and still is) a process! Jesus made us realize we are never alone, we always have a helper and we might want to step out of some of our old ways of thinking.

Just some of the benefits: no more depression or depression meds, the best marriage in the world – we have led countless marriage groups, the options of homeschool and alternative education opportunities, financial investment in our children’s businesses as opposed to college education, a family that isn’t perfect but IS for each other, businesses that grew during the economic downturn of 2008+, new opportunities daily, and for me the courage to pursue my love of art and writing. Truly we are blessed beyond measure and live a life of unspeakable joy. The hardships no longer take us out, they make us stronger.