Taking stock of the old, ushering in the new

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Two weeks ago I began the following post. This morning I found it, nearly complete, on my computer. Although not timely in relation to the date on the calendar, it may still resonate for some as it does for me: Numerous emotions course through me just a week after my birthday celebrations (yes, plural). Gratitude as I observe each day as the gift it truly is. Love for family and friends as we embrace the spirit of Christmas mere days away. An indwelling of peace as a byproduct of restored relationships. Yet, even then, a sense of melancholy over unexplored opportunities. Grief and disappointment. “What if’s” and bittersweet memories. The should’ves, could’ves, would’ves. But a glimmer of hope remains—a brightly covered package I tear into each morning with renewed expectation. As we tie up our last-minute holiday shopping and baking, wrapping and socializing, I encourage each of us to pause and reflect on the clean slate ahead.

What is one thing you’d change about the past year?

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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When doubts begin to threaten your peace: remember to look up

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Yesterday morning, as I drove through my neighborhood to work, my thoughts turned inward. Doubts began to intrude on my peace. Tears sprung to my eyes and I blinked to keep the waterworks from spilling over onto my cheeks. And then a beautiful thing happened: I remembered to look up. At that moment, the sunrise bursting through the clouds served as a reminder which I continue to reflect on time and time again: I am loved. I am here on this earth for a purpose. I matter. Even when I feel invisible or misunderstood, the Creator paints a canvas of hope upon my heart in order to reflect outward onto a hurting world. Dear friends, it’s easy to get caught up in the holiday frenzy. To feel insignificant, overwhelmed or broken. Even as I type these words, my heart squeezes with emotions I have yet to explore. But it’s enough, for now, to know that I need only look up.

What is your panacea when doubts take hold?

When you feel like a failure: don’t look back

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You know when the perfect opportunity to offer words of wisdom and insightful advice to your child—adult or otherwise—takes on the appearance of a train wreck versus the motherly win you strive for? Even with a quarter century of parenting experience under my belt, I still bomb (and not the fizzled-out kind), the recent fail an up-close-and-personal affront at my ability to think before I speak—to mindfully build up rather than fight fire with fire. Tears ensued. Hugs suspended. Hours later, my mom ego bruised, I waved a white flag in the form of a text: Do-over? My treat. My faith life on display, it had revealed a mind and heart polluted by the demons I refer to in “Fighting the demons…:” old habits repeated, past choices tendered. But I have a choice now: I can allow the mistakes of yesterday to define today, or I can choose not to look back. Because that’s not the direction I’m headed.

How do you respond to failure?

Photo source: http://www.passionpluspurpose.com.

Make a difference: be the good

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This past week proved fraught with disappointments and discontent. On Friday, I woke up feeling sad, out of sorts. Most of my disquiet revolves around the unrest in our world—the tropical storms ravaging the Southeastern U.S. and the fires burning through the Northwest, the recent earthquake in Mexico, the political turmoil on the forefront of our nation. If I don’t pitch my tent in these valleys, I’m able to rally. But I can so easily get sucked into social media and news reports under the guise I need to remain informed, yet I end up more unsettled. I don’t want to live with my head in the sand, but I also think it can be easier to become uber-focused on all the negativity and everything that’s wrong in the world. Rather than glorify enmity and division, however, let’s consider how we might make a positive difference to those in need—whether near or far. Because there’s still good: be the good.

How will you make a difference?

Photo courtesy of cooldesign at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

PSA: One wrong choice *can* change a life forever

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Thirteen years ago, an officer rang my doorbell to inform my 12-year-old daughter and me that a drunk driver ran a red light and T-boned my husband’s vehicle. Rescuers completed fatality paperwork onsite and the Jaws of Life extricated him from the wreckage (pictured above). He flew in a helicopter to a Level 1 trauma hospital where the head of OR performed emergency surgery. My husband sustained a ruptured spleen, cracked ribs, a displaced clavicle, crushed hip, collapsed lung, lacerations, contusions and a diffuse traumatic brain injury. For 59 days, I watched (and cheered) my husband on through a medicated coma, and five weeks of inpatient therapy where he learned how to feed himself again, to write, to walk. Following two months of outpatient therapy, and approximately a half year after the accident, he returned to work full time. His injuries and the subsequent life-long deficits are because someone chose to drive while intoxicated. Do the right thing: call a friend or a taxi. But don’t drive drunk.

Finding hope in the most unlikely places

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On a Monday morning I drove to work as is my habit, my mind preoccupied with a litany of tasks I hoped to accomplish. In addition to eight hours on the job, I needed to pick up a couple prescriptions for an infection I’m battling, get to yoga to create a little breathing space and decide what color my painter will be painting my kitchen cabinets. Plus make room to practice my Spanish. Under my breath, I whispered prayers for close family and friends struggling with illness and grief, those undergoing surgery and others wrestling with financial and spiritual drought. When I pulled into my parking spot, my mind still flitting from thought to thought, a flowering branch caught my attention. Its peachy blossoms, the only blooms noticeable in my row of stalls, encouraged me with its new growth. A simple reminder—in the midst of shadows, hardships and yes, my friends, Monday mornings—that infused my spirit with restored hope.

What is something that renews your hope?

Hang in there: finding solace amidst the fallout

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It’s okay if you fall down and lose your spark.
Just make sure that when you get back up,
you rise as the whole damn fire. ~ Colette Werden

The physiological responses that accompany love and heartache can be similar. For example, a new relationship often triggers the pulse to race, or butterflies to replace hunger pangs. Heartache, too, can cause the heartbeat to fluctuate, or a loss of appetite. I find myself seized by the latter illustration—tears swift to dampen my lashes, my belly hollow. During a recent trip, I picked up a silver kitty pendant that hangs onto the delicate chain by its front legs—a twofold reminder: that life is fragile, and to ‘hang in there.’ On the heels of my post, ‘Letting go…,’ I wear this talisman for solace, of sorts, amidst the fallout of a severed friendship. My spark(le) may have dimmed, but soon I will fan the flames and ignite my passion ablaze.

Where do you find solace within the heartache?

Photo source: sanctuaryspring.com.

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