Practice

Practice makes perfect. Isn’t that what we all heard growing up? It didn’t matter if it was a musical instrument or a sport or some other physical activity, if we were struggling, our parents told us, “Practice makes perfect.”

Now that I’m an adult, I realize there are other things I need to practice. At my “ripe old age” of 48, I know there are virtues and disciplines for me to practice.

Patience. Perseverance. Discipline. Waiting.

I want the garden planted now. I want the landscaping done now. I want to know the next step now.

But I’m learning there is a joy to the process. Watching the raised garden boxes get built. Putting the dirt in. Planting the seeds. Watching them sprout. Forming the edging. Choosing to write for 5 minutes a day. Making that phone call to have a conversation about a future role. Choosing to be content to wait for the surgeon.

Choosing to be content. Choosing to practice patience, disciplines, waiting. Being willing to persevere through the impatience. Practicing the delayed gratification.

Sometimes hard. Worth it.

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Next!

Normally this is the writing prompt for Five Minute Friday…but today is Saturday! 😀

Next…this is a word we use when someone “rejects” our product or our business. We jokingly say, “Next!”

The definition is “immediately following in time and order.”

Next signifies transition or change.

I’m facing this in my life. I’ve recently submitted my resignation at my job, for a multitude of reasons, and I find myself asking, “what is next?” I have possible ideas, none of which include further employment at the moment, and I am excited to see where these ideas lead me.

Thinking of what’s next is like walking through a hallway of doors. What is behind that door? or that door? What if I try that knob and it doesn’t turn? Next door! Try that knob…it opens! And we go into this next space and begin to explore…I’ll let you know what I find!

There is a next…!

What’s Next?

What’s Next?

This exceptional blogger is someone I’m proud to call my daughter!

lifenewmexico

A question I have been asked quite a lot is “What school/college did you go to in order to become a teacher?” My answer has always been, “I didn’t go to college.” Most people look at me with astonishment and follow up with the question “How did you learn how to teach?” or “Then how do you know what you are doing?” Well, the answer is simply, “The curriculum we use does not require you to go to college in order to teach it as this curriculum has training sessions during the summer that you can take. It does require that you at least graduate from high school in order to understand how the curriculum works.” The last and final question the person always (and I mean ALWAYS) asks is, “Do you have any plans to further your education in the future?” My last and final answer to all these…

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Lack

I’m happy to be participating in Five Minute Friday.

Just reading this word makes me take a deep breath. This is a word full of emptiness…see what I did there?! I feel the empty hole deep in my heart. It takes my breath away.

What do I lack? It’s such an easy question to answer…lots and lots of money, rust-free vehicle, all of my kids presence in my home, the physical presence of my mother, and I can imagine emotions I lack…until I stop and take a good look at life.

It’s far easier to focus on the negative aspects of life which is why it is easier to answer the question of lack, to gaze into that gaping hole of emptiness and see all the things I imagine are there. Which makes it full. Of crap.

When I give time and focus on my perceived lack of anything, it only takes a few seconds until I’m overwhelmed with feelings of sadness, emptiness, loneliness, despair, depression, anxiety. For a long time of my life I looked at what I didn’t have instead of what I have.

So my lack got erased with counting my blessings! I chose to look at the facts of what I know is true in my life. We have enough to pay our bills. We have a vehicle which runs from East coast to West coast so I can visit the kids. I am blessed beyond measure with 4 biological children, a son-of-my-heart, and many more amazing young people who fill my heart and home with love and laughter! I have several mother figures in my life who fill the void of her death. I have learned how to choose peace and to be joyful in difficult times. I have learned to refocus…now I need to learn to always practice this!!! HA!

And so it is in these ways lack is erased and the black hole of emptiness is filled with the light of life instead of the darkness of lack!

Measure

Happy to be part of Five Minute Friday!

Measure. The immediate mental picture was a yard stick in the hand of my mother using it to measure something. My mom was great at measuring — literally and figuratively.

My mother, may she rest in peace, was one who was conscious of what other people thought and their expectations. I don’t believe it was something she realized about herself, but as her daughter, I felt it. When I went away to church camp, I had to have new shoes or newly polished shoes, she sewed new clothing for me, and I had to make sure I was going to “look” right.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate her attention to detail.

The difficulty which came with this was thinking that the opinions of other people mattered. Truth is there are people to whom we will never be adequate, no matter how hard we try. While I don’t attempt to live my life going roughshod over the thoughts and opinions of people, there is a wisdom to being free to be yourself, the person God created you/me to be.

20 years ago when we moved home, I was in a place where I was learning who I was. I knew moving back to the home area would mean standing up for my own personal beliefs. I trusted God would give me the words I would need to say. He did. You see, in the grand scheme of mother/daughter relationships, we daughters want to measure up to our mother’s expectations. I didn’t. I didn’t want to. I didn’t feel I could. I realized the practicality of motherhood and the expectations placed on mother’s from my religious upbringing were on opposite sides of the spectrum.

I wanted to measure up to my mom, but I couldn’t, and I reached the place I didn’t want to measure up.

I am thankful to say that during our 13 years of doing life together with me as her caregiver, she came to accept me for who I am, and I accepted her for who she was — a mother who wanted her daughter, as a wife and mother, to excel and prosper in her relationships with God and family.

At this, I am able to succeed. Thank you, Mom, for all you taught me, and the values you instilled in me. I will always love you!

Reward

I tend to think of a reward as something given for a job well done or a game well played. I think of a reward as a positive end to a task or event. I think of a reward as instantaneous rather than something doled out over a period of time. Truthfully, rewards are both negative and positive, good and bad, instant and delayed.

There are moments when I deal with butterflies in my stomach, heart palpitations, feelings of dread. I have learned to recognize these experiences as anxiety trying to creep it’s ugly way in to my heart, mind, and soul. I used to try and think about what was the cause; okay, I still try and think what is the cause from time to time! My reward for trying to figure out why I was feeling anxious was to go into a tailspin of trying to control people, outcomes, events. Worrying about this person or that person or what if this or what if that. And nothing good ever came from this. My imagined fears never came true.

2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “…we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” I started asking myself what would happen if I tried choosing to focus on different thoughts when I felt anxious? What if I tried looking at the truth of what I know about whatever situation I was stressing over?

Over the last few weeks and months, I have started choosing to rein in my thoughts when I feel butterflies in my stomach and are my heart palpitations from too much caffeine or stress? I ask myself what I am stressing over or what is disturbing my peace? When I figure this out, I am then able to look at the facts of the situation and focus on the positives. A wise person (my therapist! Everyone needs one, you know!) told me to raise my hands to heaven and say, “I am looking forward to….” and say it three times over out loud. I say it a dozen times, not just three!

I don’t enjoy dealing with anxiety. I’m finding as I keep talking about it, as I keep choosing to refocus my thoughts, as I keep choosing to focus on what is true and not imagined, then I am able to break these chains which I have allowed to bind me to lies.

The choice to focus on the truth has been it’s own reward in loosing the chains which bind me in anxiety.

Happy to be linked to Five Minute Fridays.

20 years have gone…

It’s hard to believe it’s 20 years since we moved back home. A move we weren’t thrilled about making. Moving back home meant facing a lot of challenges. It meant learning to establish our own family on our old turf, with expectations I wasn’t willing to fulfill. For me, it was a sink or swim kind of move. I decided to swim, though there were mild bouts of sinking involved. It’s a good thing we didn’t know what all would happen…What does happen in 20 years?

  • Emoved 3 times
  • graduated 4 kids from home school
  • had a child get married
  • welcomed a son-in-law & his family into our family
  • moved a child to Kentucky
  • moved a child to New Mexico
  • moved a child to Idaho
  • moved a child to college
  • learned what it’s like to have someone you love in the military
  • attended countless sporting events: baseball, football, wrestling, 4H
  • watched the kids obtain goals and realize dreams
  • pulled lots of weeds, literally and figuratively
  • planted a lot of flowers, literally and figuratively
  • mowed lawn
  • got angry
  • cried a lot of tears
  • prayed
  • smiled a lot of smiles
  • hugged a lot of people
  • spoke a lot of words, though not all were beneficial or uplifting I’m sorry to say
  • went through a lot of cars
  • bought a farm
  • learned to ride a horse
  • learned to ride a motorcycle
  • battled depression and won
  • sat with my mother while she died
  • picked up the pieces made that day and survived
  • learned how to mostly thrive at life
  • loved the son’s girlfriends
  • repurposed things to serve a different purpose
  • spent time with friends
  • drank a lot of coffee
  • lost 50 pounds and losing more
  • learned to value stillness, solitude, silence
  • went to church for church, funerals, weddings, and other events
  • drove a lot of miles to hospitals and doctor appointments
  • agonized and stressed over what seemed like impossible situations
  • prayed
  • sang
  • made new friends
  • cherished old friendships
  • read books, though not as many as I wish or think I have
  • loved a lot of people
  • cheered the kids on during their educational endeavors beyond high school
  • prayed
  • got out of debt
  • got back in debt
  • survived a small house fire
  • had surgery
  • visited friends in other states
  • lost my dreams and desire for life
  • learned to dream again
  • prayed a lot of prayers
  • asked a lot of questions without finding all the answers
  • welcomed people into our family & home
  • made the agonizing choice to ask someone to leave
  • learned I had a capacity to love beyond myself
  • hung on to my marriage during caregiving and beyond
  • learned the Christian life isn’t all black and white
  • prayed. a lot.
  • learned to let go of prejudices
  • learned to love without strings attached
  • cried over dead animals
  • laughed hysterically
  • became a great aunt 25 times
  • celebrated accomplishments
  • mourned losses
  • taken instruction on difficult topics
  • learned to love myself to better love others
  • received criticism
  • walked away from painful situations
  • stayed with painful situations
  • done public speaking
  • cooked a lot of food
  • learned to listen to my intuition
  • asked God a lot of ‘why’ questions
  • done mountains of laundry
  • painted rooms in every house we’ve lived in
  • learned to use a weed whacker
  • learned I love to work hard and get dirty
  • gotten scratched with thistles
  • changed churches
  • learned to take care of my health: mental, emotional, spiritual, physical
  • gotten kicked at by a horse
  • took naps in the hay mow
  • thrown lots of hay bales
  • survived all stages of my children’s lives
  • colored my hair purple
  • prayed even more
  • visited the beach, the mountains, the desert, and the plains
  • ….and so much more!

Simply, there is no way to list all the things which happen in the span of a life…though it’s good to remember. It’s good to remember where I’ve been and where I am now. It’s good to look back. More important than reflection, I must look forward!

Though I never wanted to move back home, these 20 years have been good years. Full of life, love, laughter, sorrows. I wouldn’t change a thing…well, maybe one thing…I’d buy the farm sooner, if it had been an option.

The next 20 years? There will be more joy and sorrow. Maybe I’ll bury a child. Maybe they’ll bury me. Maybe I’ll become a grandma (help!). Maybe our family will fall apart (God, forbid!), and maybe we will still be an intact family, whatever that means. I know I’ll cry and laugh. I know I’ll love people who won’t know what to do with that love. Others will receive it. No matter what we encounter as a family, my love for them will never wane. It only grows.

I hope they never forget how much I love them.

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The people who light up my world! Photo credit: Dee Manning Photography