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?

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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?

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?

The secret to letting go (of what you can’t control)

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The key to letting go is giving up what is
beyond your control to embrace
what you can change. ~ Suzie Eller

There are times in life when you might run into situations that cause you to second guess yourself and maybe even desire a “do over.” However, in the long run it is typically healthier to forgo your former ways of thinking, doing or wishing by releasing whatever is beyond your control. The secret? Mindfulness. In my post “7 tips to incorporate mindfulness…,” I describe mindfulness as the act of consciously directing your awareness, without judgment—moment by moment. Take this a step further: If you discover that something doesn’t serve you in the present, then you must let it go in order to make room for new ways of thinking, relating and living. Instead of wishful thinking, choose mindful thinking. When you embrace what you can change today, you begin to entertain hope for your future.

What have you let go in order to move forward?

Photo courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A lesson in irony: in memory of Rob

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Life can prove ironic in the simple, the mundane. And in the crushing blows, the fracture between hope and fate. This week, I discovered that Marlene, a cashier at my neighborhood grocery store, had been writing letters to Rob—a cashier who was diagnosed in 2015 with stage 3 lung cancer. I haven’t seen Rob since we spoke in August 2016, right before his birthday trip to Hawaii, and then, upon his return from the tropical getaway, he took an extended leave from his job to tackle one of more significance: the fight for his life. Just the other day, I wrote a letter and brought it to the market the next morning for Marlene to include in her envelope. As I concluded my shopping, another cashier greeted me and I knew, without words, that Rob’s fight was over. Read more about Rob:  ‘Slow down, listen more…,’ ‘How (not) to be miserable…’ and ‘Borrowed time…’ And don’t wait for Someday.

How is irony at work in your life?

Got grief? Strategies to help manage heartache

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Grief, like cancer, is not biased. Although grief, or heartache, focuses on the psyche, it can still kill: hope, good intentions, innocence. In “Moving forward through grief,” I talk about the stages of grief that many of us will or have encountered. No one situation looks the same; likewise, no one person assimilates grief the same way. Additionally, I believe this soul-deep sorrow can extend beyond loss into territories of unfulfilled dreams, unanswered prayer, disillusionment, broken relationships, failing health and so on. What we require is not a one-size-fits-all solution, but remedies we can apply to help us transition through it:

  • Accept it: understand grief is a normal part of life
  • Be patient: cut slack—with yourself and others—when appropriate
  • Allow time: rest, rejuvenate and replenish as necessary
  • Walk through it: realize it is only temporary; avoid setting up camp
  • Admit a need: know when to ask for and/or to accept help
  • Say no: don’t apologize, minimize or make excuses

What’s your strategy for coping with grief?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

Breaking free: rote action is no action

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I write about change. About Someday. About setting goals, taking baby steps, chasing dreams. Extending kindness and sparkles. Eliminating toxic people from our lives; hopefulness. Perseverance. What’s next. And then I “get” busy. Push it all to the back of my closet as I flit from task to task. Pretend I’ve taken hold of life by its proverbial horns. But my tiara is tarnished and I’m tired and all I want to do is jump off the non-stop roller coaster and figure stuff out before it’s too late. I think, for me, discontent no longer points to an unrealized purpose but, rather, my own personal purgatory where life isn’t just passing me by (see “Take action…”). Instead, it’s the rotten stench of anguish and despair that almost suffocates and renders me ineffective. Rote action is no action. Busy-ness can only put off, so long, what must be accomplished to escape from the grip of fear: of failure, regret. The unknown. So, what’s next?

How will you break free?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

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