When all the butterflies die: look forward to new growth

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While scrolling through Facebook recently, I stumbled upon this quote: “That feeling you get in your stomach when your heart’s broken. It’s like all the butterflies died.” I know a few things about broken hearts and dead butterflies. Hope deferred. Unmet expectations. Loss and emptiness. But during this new season, I am compelled, now more than ever, to make sense of my path. To reclaim that feeling of contentment I talk about in “Try it on for size…” To don happiness as a daily accessory. To welcome new growth. For far too long my attention has been fixated inward on my needs and wants and disappointments. And it’s time for me to look outward and focus on those around me.  To take a break from the distractions and agendas and whatever else thwarts, rather than advances, my purpose. Hopefully, in time, as I breathe and pray, I will discover what makes me tick and who I’m supposed to be.

How do you know you’re on the right path?

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Are you doing what you’re supposed to do or what you want to do—or both?

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Recently I texted my big sister and dumped a “woe is me” montage on her. I suck as a writer. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do. I’m champing at the bit. Her response: Breathe and pray—the words a balm to my spirit. Oh dear heart, if you, too, are a person who strives, strives and strives some more, it’s okay (normal even) if you don’t know where you’re going. Just breathe and pray. And ask yourself if you’re doing what you’re supposed to do or what you want to do. Because, as my sister reminded me, these might not be one and the same. You have been created to do magnificent things. But what you think is your passion might only be the tip of the iceberg. Already eight days into NaNoWriMo and, truthfully, I need to regroup. To breathe, pray and search my soul. To discover what will truly make me happy and then do that.

Are you doing what truly makes you happy?

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

Your breaking point: recognize the signs

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This past year seems like it’s elapsed in a whirlwind, with my goal to pursue the power of P (peace, patience, purpose and a more passionate prayer life) being usurped by the practice of mindfulness. Which makes sense, because it’s a concept that involves each of these pursuits. This past weekend, the chance to practice mindfulness showed up in a big way: As is often the case, my plans on paper did not translate well into real time, and I quickly recognized the signs that signal my “breaking” point. Close to panic mode when the little piles and pressures in front of me become overwhelming, I turn inward and disengage. Oftentimes, this means a solitary trek into the mountains as a means of avoidance. This weekend, however, I opted to dodge all outside commitments to allow my soul to catch up to my body right where I was at. To let the day unfold with no agenda. And with no regrets.

What does your breaking point look like?

Image courtesy of Graphics Mouse at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

The price of sacrifice: a necessary evil to create space, balance

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The boss and I were discussing a non-work-related topic and I mentioned “not having time.” He said that depended on the level of importance I placed on accomplishing a particular task. And that it would, of course, require a sacrifice of something else on my agenda. Ah yes, the sacrifice. Herein lies the conundrum: I refuse to surrender a couple big-ticket commitments. Although I’ve unloaded one burden (see “When you run out of margin…”) that will free up space, I still struggle to carve out time to do the things I need to do and those things I want to do. Not to mention the 7-8 hours of sleep I should log in each night. I’ve juggled, rearranged and finagled my morning and evening schedules. I’ve simplified, multitasked, prioritized and modified habits and routines. Yet I continue to wrestle with this challenge. Perhaps the answer is to re-examine my needs and wants to find a balance between the two.

What are you willing to sacrifice for more time?

#1 way to grow in every area of your life

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At my last acupuncture appointment, my practitioner inquired about a trip my husband and I took up north to celebrate our wedding anniversary. I told her the getaway proved a magical way to usher in our 30th year of marriage. I also shared that, in retrospect, the majority of our married life had always seemed effortless. This insight struck my husband and me recently after we experienced a falling out and realized that, over the past several years, we’d stopped investing: in each other. In us. Bottom line: When we begin to pursue separate interests more and communicate less, we invite apathy. When we fail to faithfully plant seeds of kindness and love, we foster discontent. But when we afford effort to make together time a priority, we cultivate connection. Here’s the takeaway, friends: what we feed (invest in) grows—whether it’s our vocation, education, bank account, spiritual life, health or relationships. Or even an addiction. And what we starve dies.

Where do you invest the most effort?

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

Two are better than one: helping each other succeed

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You know when you’re wrestling with a dilemma and not one, but three people share roughly the same thoughts about it? That happened to me recently: an ongoing issue caused me to second guess decisions I’d put in place. One friend tells me I’m re-opening a door long-closed. The second friend texts me a quote that reads: “There may be times when it seems that you cannot go forward, but at least you do not have to go backward.” A third friend re-iterates what I hear from the first two. It seems that in many, if not all cases, others view our situations with more objective eyes than we do. I believe that’s because—whatever the circumstances—we’re likely invested on an emotional level which could cloud our judgment. Although our friends might deal with any fallout we experience, ultimately we’re the ones who live with the consequences of our actions. But that doesn’t mean we can’t accept a helping hand.

When do others know better than you?

Photo courtesy of nenetus at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Got faith? Your story isn’t over yet.

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On any given weekend over the past several months, I’ve hung my “closed” sign, packed my bags and driven up north. Each time, these getaways prove a source of inspiration and a form of self-care. Opportunities to refresh from “the grind,” to rediscover and reconnect with who I am—a faith-filled wife, mother, sister, employee, friend, writer, yogi, hiker and dreamer. And what I desire out of this one life—simple pleasures like that first sip of liquid magic in the mornings before the sun makes its ascent; autumn’s burst of vibrant color; raw, belly laughter; music and books that stir my soul; a connection between two hearts. To be a light in the world. To make a difference. Yet even if a lone tear slips from my eye when plans fail, I still choose to be grateful, knowing it’s simply part of my story. One that’s not over yet. After all, when our faith is tested, our endurance earns a chance to grow.

How’s your faith life?

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