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To what am I giving consent?

Every Wednesday morning I have a guitar lesson. Throughout our lesson and practice, my teacher and I have the best conversations. (My teacher also happens to be my oldest son Jordan) Today we talked a lot about our personal responsibility in our relationships and what part we bring to the “relationship table”. How does our mindset color the interaction?
I think I’m finally *beginning* to understand Eleanor Roosevelt’s statement

“no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

😲 
What we BELIEVE, we focus on. What we FOCUS on, we FIND.
In business, we understand goals, focus and mindsets and how it impacts outcomes, but sometimes relationships are the last frontier of our mindset implementations.
If I enter interactions with others with the mindset that I am not good enough, not loved, not appreciated, chances are, something will be said to validate that belief. It’s as if I’ve set up everything in advance. I’ve set the table. I’ve prepared the dinner. Why am I surprised at what I see before me?
BUT…
If I enter interactions with others with a mindset of receiving and reciprocating wholeness and generosity, acceptance and love, chances are the interaction will validate that belief. I’m thinking it’s some kind of law of expectation, like sowing and reaping. This one rings out “believing leads to seeing”.
It seems we could become addicted to self-deprecating thoughts, or at least accustomed to this common exchange. Consistently needing someone else to rescue us out of our negative mantras is a sad kind of relationship, but a common one.  Outside influences are not meant to shape us. Brene Brown says,

         “Stop walking through the world looking for confirmation that you don’t belong. You will always find it because you’ve made that your mission. Stop scouring people’s faces for evidence that you’re not enough. You will always find it because you’ve made that your goal. True belonging and self-worth are not goods; we don’t negotiate their value with the world. The truth about who we are lives in our hearts. Our call to courage is to protect our wild heart against constant evaluation, especially our own. No one belongs here more than you.” 
~Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness

When I have thoughts that deter me from thinking the best of someone (including myself), I immediately bring a picture to my mind- it’s meditation, visualization and prayer.
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I imagine I’m high on a precipice. The expanse is alone impressive but mixed with an evening glow of sunset, I’m in silent reverence.  The clouds are moving quickly and I instantly feel more alive. A burst of joy and gratitude falls down my cheeks. The wind is whipping strong and I smile at the invisible force dancing in patterns around me. Previous thought-weights dissipate like smoke. It’s magic here. My arms are outstretched in acceptance and also in surrender. I appear to be standing alone, but I feel the opposite of lonely. I am present to all that I am meant to be.
Here, there are no teeth behind the lion’s roar, only God’s light and presence traveling in and through, out and in with the wind. A faint sprinkle falls from the sky and in the distance the sound of a storm approaches. Cool air rushes by reminding me of life. Change. Color.

Everything is forever yet fleeting.

The world of paradox makes sense in this place. I feel like a sponge newly soaked in truth.
Yes, I will be called away from this precipice to the valley below. My body will walk the path back down; my bare feet on soil mirroring heaven and earth. But something remains. A hint of the wind lingers in my hair. And when I see another soul, my eyes believe that they can see it, hear it, smell it. I look for the whole in them, not the part. This is the power of belief. I bring —this—into every interaction that follows.
I’m thinking about Eleanor’s quote.
To what am I giving consent?
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Black and White

Have you ever looked at a picture in color and then looked at it in black and white? It’s startling. It’s almost as if you’re looking at a different place and time. There are contrasts in the black and white that I miss while looking at the beautiful color.

And so it is with me in my “black and white” days. These days are punctuated with great truths; exaggerated even. But they hold such a weight. Deep down, if I’m prodded and poked, I must admit, I find great value here. It’s like the “aha” moment my soul longs for, but can’t quite grasp in color.

If I’m commentating on these days, I might use words like “blah” and “bland”, “raw” and “colorless”, “overcast” and “bleak” . But then I take a look at the photo. My breath catches at the clarity that the harshness highlights. Even the grayness soothes like a cool drink to a parched soul. Comfort and proaction is here in the bright and dark.

Social injustices become startlingly clear in black and white. Someone (in full color) asks me, “What do you think about refugees?” Hmmm, so many colors and opinions  are zigzagging in and out of so many worlds and then wrapped in this colorful question.

What do I think? What do I think? I take a minute to shift from color and examine the black and white photo…and I know.

The person in front of me is the one that matters. Refugee or not, I know exactly what to do; how to love; when to take action. There are NO polarizing mantras that will sway my focus from that face; those eyes; this heart. This is what the sad gray can do.

To be honest, I wish I didn’t need it now and again to remind me of something I knew but have forgotten. But…

It reminds me that light is strong and steady.  It has power. I have power. WE have power.  Our light (and love) pierces and highlights and has a place in this world. It can be trusted. It silhouettes and focuses like none other.

It reminds me that my mundane feelings of gray (inadequate as they feel) are the backdrop to most of my life. It’s as if the sooner I appreciate gray, the more it freely gives to me. I suddenly see the grandeur in the slightest of these “shades”.

Yes, pain is evident here in the black and white, but so is the honest and brutal truth. What a gift.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sea Urchin Shells

Sea Urchin Shells remind me of springtime and sunshine. Their pastel color and intricacy resemble painted rocks. If you look from a distance, you might think someone painted the dots on a beautiful mandala. The dots indicate where the spines were previously attached. They wash on shore circular and empty, ready to be adored.

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Cayo Coasta Beach Camping Adventure

 

 

David and I packed some coolers and a tent. We parked the truck at a marina on Pine Island and took the Tropic Star Ferry over to Cayo Costa State Park.

Upon arrival, a manatee was in the water near the dock. I felt like he came by to welcome us to our adventure. The first night we heard rustling of an animal. Either a raccoon or rat managed to get into a food wrapper we obviously did not secure. We also heard an owl, saw a snake, watched the birds feed at dusk.

When the sun went down, it became cold fast! It was colder than I anticipated. Our air mattress deflated in the night. (which made us even colder). But then the sun came up and warmed us up. By mid day, it was hot and probably 70+ degrees. Thankfully, it never rained. There is no hot water for showers. BUT there are flush toilets.

We spent three days being connected to beauty, nature, simplicity and each other. I thoroughly enjoyed being remote and having miles of beaches to ourselves. We frolicked like teenagers during the day and the hobbled like grandparents at night 😉 LOL

What an adventure. Hiking trails and miles of beaches kept us busy. We calculated that in 3 days we walked over 25 miles. I have my little stash of shells. I found a sand dollar with lace-like edges.  It’s amazing.

If you’re ok with remote simplicity, this barrier island might need to make it onto your must-see list. There’s also an option to boat over for the day to enjoy shelling if you’re not into rustic camping.

 

 

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Living Your Ecstasy

 

What inspires you? What makes you lose track of time? What makes the demands of life fade and the passion for life and love rush your soul in ecstasy?

A moment in dialogue with a child? A gaze upward on a starry night? A horseback ride at sunset? A hike along the forest trail? Faith-filled knowledge of your unity with God? An idea and creative inspiration in the space between waking and sleeping? Intimacy? These small snippets are the essence of what we really value, right? Is there is a discipline that allows these minuscule seconds to grow? Can we experience life more fully by experiencing more of these moments?

I think so. The discipline seems to begin with acknowledgement and giving TIME to experience glory moments. We have to come to expect them. Our busy, overwhelmed lives don’t facilitate soul food. Haven’t we given homage to drudgery long enough? It isn’t the path for wholeness.

There is another way.

While our logical mind tells us we have to worry to be productive, (and logic has it’s place in helping us survive in this body,) it’s not equipped for the survival of our spirit.  Is it possible to be living in effortlessness productivity? I desire more of that life.

This may explain why vacations and trips planned away from the routines of life fill our souls so differently. Those unique moments rise to the surface when we speak of the highlights of life. When we take time to be affected by the people we are with and the sights we see, reading books and taking long meandering walks,  intentionally letting our mind rest, we find that we became fueled and focused in profound, unexpected ways. We’re “more” of something, not less.

It’s as if life *rewards* and *responds* and *gives* based on something very different than our consumerist mindset. Maybe the mindset of passion + surrender = the inspired, purposeful, ecstatic life. Spirit living.

I’ve heard that we ARE what we LOVE, NOT what loves us. This makes me ponder.

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What if I don’t have ‘a word’ for 2018?

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For years now, I have chosen a word, a verse, or a mantra for the year ahead. In many cases I would say more accurately, the word chose me. I love that feeling.But this year, (for weeks before the ball dropped) I have prayed, searched and listened for a word; THE word for me, only to find myself here on Jan 3rd without one. And I so love words. Sure, I could force it and lay claim to something, but that doesn’t really seem the right path. Am I alone? I imagine there are others who also feel a little bewildered that a word didn’t “find” them.

I’ve always considered having a word meant I had a sense of direction, vision and passion for what’s ahead.  And in some cases, it was a definite gift of grace when  I needed that exact word as comfort for a trial. But something did come to me today. It wasn’t a word, but an understanding  that (for me and at this time), NOT having a word may be the exact exercise to grow me. Have you ever cleaned and organized an office, only to find you didn’t get the work done or spent effort meal planning only to look back two weeks later to see you didn’t eat well? I guess I know deep down that a word does not insure execution of my dreams. But maybe I wanted to feel a little more “together” than I do? Does that make sense?

So, instead of looking for a word to embody a war cry or grandiose emotional movement that will carry me and/or keep me grounded, I’ll understand at a deeper level that our lives speak. There is always a word at work. Always a word lived out. I’m ok without a certain word to claim

Maybe I’ll find at the END of this year a word will emerge for HOW I DID live, not how I intended to live. I do enjoy seeing our word(s) lived out. When I see your name, words come to mind that embody you. Truly our life speaks louder than any word we could say.

To you! To 2018!

#beautynearme

 

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Connection is contagious. When I see it, I smile. Monday #beautynearme is brought to you by my parents (their connection with each other) and my grandson (his connection to his creativity). It evokes gratitude. So much gratitude.

When we intentionally look for connection, even if looking on from a distance, our hearts are warmed.

The cold of the season cannot chill a warmed heart.

 

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A Time for Gray

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It’s a chilly morning, but not frozen

 It’s “in-between” world where I feel neither “here” nor “there”

-a place where nothing is completely anything

Few leaves, colored and clinging remain, still hopeful in the breeze

All the others are swirling down on the ground, free, unattached and forgotten

My thick skin hasn’t emerged for the season

so I place my my fingertips over the heater

I start to wonder as I watch the leaves, ‘which am I’?

Have I fallen already? Or am I still clinging?

This melancholy settles in with the blanket I wrap around me

I see pumpkins discarded from porches, replaced with the lights we need at night

Though it’s morning, grayness settles comfortably in the sky as if there is no sun in the east

That dreariness in the sky against the fieriness of the trees  grate on me

And yet if I’m honest, I admit I both love and hate the contrast

Why does gray have a place? My artist brain works for an answer

Opposites and gradients of color highlight each other

Is this how I make sense of the newness of sadness? Is this the comfort of change?

And then, as if on cue, I hear you outside my window

Yours melody is so free. No expectation. No restlessness in the gray

Like a dance

Your happy “in-between” gray cadence

trails effortlessly and fearlessly, leaving me mesmerized between longing and belonging

comfortable and inviting in the in-between

For the first time in a long while, it makes sense

You’ve gifted me, little feathered one,

with such a truth: gray “in between” moments belong, as do I

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

There is a “time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away…”

There is always a time for gray