Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A Thing Or Two About {your} Value

There was a blogging conference a week or so ago in Dallas, a lot of my readers are bloggers so they will be familiar with it. For those that aren't, it's a conference not only for bloggers, but mainly bloggers go because it was bloggers who started it. The blogging world is an interesting {funny} place. When I started blogging 3 years ago I had NO idea what I was about to embark on. None. As I started networking and reading other blogs, and putting myself out there and time into my blog, I got readers, I got followers. But it came to a bit of a "stand still" if you will on growth. I was able to connect into the "christian blog community" but because I am unable to put the time and energy I need to in it to ever make money or to get a huge following, my blog is a small one. I do admire my friends and the bloggers that have taken their blogs to great heights of creativity, and hard work. That is what they do for a living, my lifestyle hasn't allowed me to have a job yet, so I haven't catapulted into that arena. OR maybe it's not my gifting. That's being honest and digging deeper introspectively. These woman have major gifts, they are AMAZING. Following me so far?

But I have a gift too--it's writing. Maybe I have more gifts too. I know I relate well to people and easily connect to others, right to the very heart of someone. Authenticity and transparency. It is what it is, SO here I am, with a humble ol' blog and starting to write the manuscript of my book.

Because the blogging world can be such a competitive place, we all, and I know I can speak for all of us women--we ALL have struggled with comparison. How could we not? We reel it back in and get a good grasp of not comparing just to do it all over again. I'm getting closer and closer to conquering that, but who knows if I ever will be completely free of it. One thing that has helped me is realizing that we all have our own unique gifting. I have something to offer that someone with 10,000 followers does not. I have MY gifts, not hers, hers or hers. We are all unique to offer up something to the lives around us. That's the beauty of it. But we see success in the eyes of the world, we can become discouraged. I've let myself believe the lies that there is no place for me in the blog world because I'm not her. But I've fully accepted that lie. I try to give that lie as little attention as possible.

I also believe other lies, due to my wounds. I let myself believe that I was of less value because I wasn't at the Hope Spoken conference and also because I was not speaking at it. Why wouldn't they ask me to speak I say to myself? There are a bunch of reasons they didn't. But when your deepest wound is abuse, it tells you you are a nobody, you are garbage and you are unworthy. So the fight of my life is not equating that to every situation that comes up. I literally have to fight to NOT believe those things are true of me. And it was no different when the conference came up.

When those lies pop into my head I just have to sit with it, mull over it and apply truth. And that's exactly what I did. 

My value or your value does not change based on what you do. Sure this can make you feel better if you do a crappy job at something or if you are unpopular or unnoticed---but it's also true if you do an amazing, outstanding, stellar job at something and if you are popular and noticed !!!  The battle goes BOTH ways.How does that sit with you?

My value as a person did not and does not change if I ever get asked to speak at ANY conference! I am writing the manuscript to my book, and if I don't get published in a year or two, or ever, my value as a person will not change or waver! So take that WORLD.

the tulips i bought myself for finishing my preface

One of the hardest things in this world for people to deal with is the elitism that takes place. I mean it even takes place in high school--naming people KING OR QUEEN at Homecoming. Olympic athletes. Can you imagine living with yourself if you were the cause of your team losing? I remember at the last summer Olympics four years ago, and a 15 year old girl missed something major on the bar work--she took the fall and blame for her whole US team losing. No 15 year old, let alone any human, should have to deal with that sort of pressure. I am sure she felt like she was of less value. But as a person, a mere human, absolutely she was not.

And then there's the people that aren't in any spotlight. Women for whatever reason, are unable to use their lives for others. They are unable to write, or speak. They have no voice but they have MUCH to say. They live oppressed lives. There are many brilliant, wise, beautiful people in this world that don't even ever make the spotlight and no one knows their name. But as long as the One who created them knows their name, that is all they need. It's all I need.

Can you believe this? What lies have you believed about your value as a human?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Lately In Photos

So, I turned 40, yes forty!!!

Here's the black cake to prove it.

Family and friends threw me a surprise party, my first ever!

After 4 years of saving and waiting, my daughter got her very own first car! That's her signing the papers!

I got my first pair of Hunter boots! They are as phenom as they are hyped up to be. 

Nell's got a spring hair-do! (He resembles Mr.Furley if you ask me)! Three's Company anyone?

Completed another chevron throw.

I have seen and taken lots and lots of wintery scenes.

I've gotten stuck in snow ditches 3 times this year. Oh joy!

Went on a girls weekend this winter. Oh glory!

I found I was drawn to yarn and light this winter.

Changed up our dining room. Made it sort of a craft/project/work space and we are lovin' it.

We slyly snapped some family pics in the museum.

I spent a lot of time with my daughter while she was home for Spring Break. And would you believe that her first year of college is just about completed?!! She will be home the second weekend in May! Pinch me!

I've been resting, and spoiling myself with movies here and there during the day. 

I went to both my favorite art museums in ONE month! Including seeing the Matisse exhibit. T'was amazing.

As always I'm digging deeper, looking within and growing. Coming up roses once I get the gist of what my soul is trying to tell me. Repeat.

I've been crafting and made my first Mandala and am officially IN love!

I actually got to NOT wear boots for an evening out--felt so good! My girlfriend took me to the dinner theater as a birthday gift to me--we saw The Little Mermaid. Ursula stole the show.

And now that it's April, the rain {and thunder} have started, oh my delight!

What have YOU been up too?

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Where's She Been?

That is a complicated answer if I am being honest. And because I struggle with being articulate and prolific sometimes, I'm afraid I might not be able to answer that in a flowful form, pardon me.

It's no secret that I've had my share of struggles all across the board in life. One in particular has been dealing with the trauma of being abused. When something traumatic like this takes place, it steals from your very being, your deepest soul. It's our deepest soul that we function in, so you can see what a challenge this could be. It formed a lot of the ways I think and therefore act. It all starts in our minds people. And the battle there can be one hefty burden.

I think emotionally something happens after abuse--especially when it happens early on in life. We become more fragile to the rhythms of life. We are sensitive to many things such as sounds, touch, and our feelings.
We are trying to live half-whole because what has been taken from us. Our emotions are distorted and in turn, our actions reflect that. For me it manifested in many ways: being cowardly, allowing people to treat me poorly, depression, feelings of worthlessness, utter sadness, hopelessness, fearful of the unknown, craving safety, promiscuous behavior and an overall sense of thinking and feeling the world doesn't need me or love me. That's a huge burden you guys. HUGE. My life's work has been to OMIT those thoughts and in turn, those feelings!!! For the better part of my life, or I should say the worser part of my life, I lived off of my feelings. I let them direct my life, my choices, my outcomes. It's only been the last 5 years or so that I've learned to channel those thoughts in a healthy manner and accept that I am loved (mainly by my Maker), and that I am of value and worth. Because the other circumstance that has contributed toward these feelings has been my health circumstance. When you're on your back on your sofa year after year after year recovering from surgery, you can tend to feel very useless. Left without a purpose. Left with no choice but to quit your job. Left with feelings of robust inadequacy. Left with thinking and believing there was no point to ME.

Luckily God reached down onto my sofa and woke up up!!! He asked me, "Why the pity party?", ah ya, He did. He continued, "What can you do right where you are at my child? Surely there is SOMEthing you can do! Will you let me use you where you are at?"

And did I ever. It's amazing the ministries and purposes that can arise from a couch. I ALLOWED God to refine me over and over and over. The pruning process hurts. How do you think ROSES feel when they are getting fussed over and pruned? It's gotta be painful. But any time we go through emotional, spiritual and mental pain, it's a good thing!!! None of us necessarily want pain in our lives. But suffering, my friends, brings pain of all sorts, and the middle brings pruning--which is a process, but then what do you get when you make it through that? A BEAUTIFUL, LIVELY, EXUBERANT ROSE! Ready to bloom, ready for life! Ready to grow!

I say all this to say this: It's been a tough year. My only child left the nest and guess what, I turned 40! I didn't even blog about it.
I'm in a quagmire so to speak. Because I had to quit my job in 2007 due to so many surgeries, I was still a stay at home mom. OK, that made me feel "better" in my mind about not working even though I had no choice in the matter. But being a Mother gives us a sense of fulfillment, it gave me A job I COULD do.
Sure I had other things I was committed too, and other things going on, but being a Mom filled my life!
Forsyth Park, Savannah GA/Photo taken my moi

When she left last Fall I was lost as many of you know. The pain of her leaving was like that of a death. Luckily that pain only last about 3 weeks, but it was some of the worst pain I have ever experienced. And since then I'm still trying wrestling with how to let go healthily and that too can be difficult, down right impossible, and painful too. I still miss her and so much about how our daily lives together were. I'm adjusting still you could say, but growing and boy have I learned. I need to write about some things being an empty-nester and a parent to a young adult has been like.
My days look so different than that of a typical 40 year old. And with still having health issues, some days are OK, or good, but a lot are rough. So I have some commitments, but I'm careful not to make too many.
Now that I have more time on my hands though and my daughter is in college I am ready for "next steps."

What does that look like for me? I am not totally sure. I'm still crocheting. I'm still a blogger. I'm still writing.
I'm still a Lay Counselor. But I know God has more for me. And I'm pretty sure it's writing my book!
I've gotten a good start, and I've promised not to let my thoughts go in a direction that make me anxious, jealous of others or get frustrated if the process, when the process gets tough, and challenging. I want to take it one day at a time! And I want to be committed to that. Even if I write for 30 minutes when I wake up.

So to answer my original question, Where's She Been? You could say I've been in prayer, and in waiting mode. And to be honest, I've been in hiding mode a bit too, from all the things I first wrote about in the beginning of this post. Listening to lies that tell me "No one wants to hear from you" "People don't need to hear from you when there are other writers, there is no place for you" "You have nothing of value to share anymore" "No one notices you're not blogging anyway, so why bother?" Down to just not having the motivation and energy to do so. Some days I can't even get out of bed.

I'll blog later this week about what else I've been up to.

I've missed you all.

XO (all rose photos taken by me at Forsyth Park in Savannah, GA)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

As Is Life

Are you feeling defeated? Do you feel defeated often? I know we are in the thick of winter, so it's easy to fall into the winter blues and that is difficult! Being I am at home most of the time due to chronic pain and illness, I fight with this in all seasons. Winter is the worst though, eh? It's amazing how one can train the mind though when given "tools".

But winter sure has something pretty to offer.

I feel like everywhere I look, my friends, or family and even strangers feel so defeated by life. Even myself this last couple of months. I was sick for four weeks and then my husband was also sick for one month. I am also having car troubles--and sunk $1300 into it just a few months ago, and now I have to put more money into it and it is currently broken down. My husbands 12 year old Mercedes (piece of crap--I mean, I love that car!!!), has NO heat. We live in Minnesota people. We also forked out $1400 for new carpet in our basement because we had a flood about 2 years ago, and our mortgage payment was deducted TWICE in our bank account! Does any of this sound familiar?? I can guarantee you, it does, huh? The list goes on and on and on and on. And I only listed a few things that I was feeling defeated from.

As a Lay Counselor, we do this thing called Acceptance Therapy. It's all in recognizing that life is FULL of pain and problems. That is a given. So why do we wake up everyday thinking this is not the case??? (Insert palm to forehead). We live in a very fallen world that is not only full of sickness and disease and death but also everyday crap like car troubles, money troubles, stress from parenting, job issues, marriage just keeps comin at us full force. And I'm here to tell you, it always will. ALWAYS. We will never be free of, well the inevitable!

Don't you think if we can learn to accept ahead of time that life is a piece of work, and that our days will be "good" at best, and that each day will bring a hiccup of some sort, and that each day will bring an inconvenience, there will always be problems to solve. We will always sit in traffic. We will always burn our dinners. We will always get sick. We will forever deal with rude people. We will never be free from conflict, pain, frustration, clumsiness, or annoyances......that we could function a lot easier? 

These things will continually exist among us. But with a new way to think about it, I think our days can cause us less trouble. We can accept ahead of time that this is just life. This is life's way. It's reality. Now that we know this, how about bring our discomfort levels down and learn to navigate through on a less stressful and anxious spirit? I think we can learn to manage our level of discomfort and spirit of complaint if we accept this ahead of time. It's almost like we wake up every morning thinking--"Today is going to be different, nothing will get in my way and nothing is going to go wrong!!!"

I submit that is not the right way of thinking---how bout--"Today is a great day, a new day! I'm so thankful. And it will most likely cause me some level of stress or frustration--or most likely both--but I can handle it, I know and accept that this is the way of life, I just will handle it differently and my perspective will be different, and I'll be able to tolerate it, instead of acting like I'm dying or the world is coming to the end."

Regardless of what you might think, you are not alone. You are not the only one who deals with "crap". We all have issues, struggles, trials, annoyances. We all feel life is unfair--surprise surprise, life IS unfair!!! All of our journeys are different, but that does not mean each person isn't dealing with their own stuff. Woe is me is not an option!

Acceptance Therapy gives us a chance to lower our pain and stress levels by accepting that life is, well, life. And there is no real way around it. But there are ways to handle it in a more positive, manageable way. Accepting that your day may go hay-wire is a good thing!


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The Infamous Selfie

Have you ever taken a "selfie"? Do you know what a selfie is?
Have you ever been teased like me for taking selfies? 

Apparently there is a definition for selfies now:
selfie is a type of self-portrait photograph, typically taken with a hand-held digital camera or camera phone. Selfies are often associated with social networking.

Here are a few examples:

One of my first Selfies ever! Someone please tell me what I was thinking with that hair!?

There are selfies in the BEAN in Chicago!

There are cartoon selfies.

There are selfies with doggies with writing on them!

And cold weather selfies.

And the most up to date selfie-taken 2 days ago. The most popular of selfies: THE MIRROR SELFIE

I guess as an avid Instagrammer, It cracks me up that I have been taking selfies for a long time but didn't know their proper term. What else is funny is that selfie on autocorrect is SELFISH. So that's why I am really writing this post, to try to pound out some reasoning behind the selfie. Is it all vanity? I don't think so.

One thing that can be tricky first off is comments. I know a lot of people don't put themselves out there because they feel inferior to others. Positive comments can tend to "puff" us up, and negative or no comments at all can tend to bring us down down down. But I still encourage you to try a selfie if you are wanting to. The only way I embrace my uniqueness is by seeing myself through God's eyes--if I didn't do that, I would never post selfies! It's important to be comfortable in our own skin, and that takes time. The media hasn't given us a comfortable place to do so. There are too many unrealistic standards that we measure ourselves up against. I beg of you to not play that game. You are beautifully and uniquely made. We are not beautiful or attractive based on what the world says is. It's that simple.

My second thoughts on the selfie when I first started blogging and Instagramming were just that--vanity.
I felt awkward and selfish posting pics of myself, so I didn't do it very often. I wasn't even confident enough to do so. Low self-esteem anyone!? It wasn't until one comment from one of my followers on Instagram. I posted a selfie after not doing one for a while and she was like, "I'm so happy to see your face again!" And then I noticed comments like, "There you are, I love seeing your face!" And after a while I'd notice that there were people I was following on Facebook or Instagram that would hardly ever post selfies, but when they did, I loved it!

I simply adored seeing the faces of people I followed! And people didn't mind seeing me! I think to myself, "That's what she looks like, cool!" It's sort of comforting.
 Don't get me wrong, I think it can be overkill. More on that later. 
When I would see selfies of people that I didn't even know what they looked like, it was like seeing the whole picture so to speak. It was like a comfort. I want to see my friends and people that I follow. I realized that with the combination of others appreciating seeing me and me feeling the same way about seeing them, that we all just want to connect. We take selfies for the most part because it's a relational thing to do. People want to share their lives! With social media, most of us don't know or haven't met in person, or if we have, it was back in HS or something.

One way or another I think people are just trying to connect and share their life. Can we go overboard sometimes? Yes. Can some of it be vanity? Yes. Do people post selfies because they want to show off their cute outfits? Yes. Have I posted a selfie because I think I look decent that day and want to show the world? Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaybe......................

I believe we are all hungry for community, relationship and connections and the selfie is just one other way to build that bridge. So next time you see a selfie, give someone the benefit of the doubt, we all have a level of vanity, but for the most part, I think it's innocent and a way to get to know one another better, and that should be our goal. We all share our lives on some level, and the selfie is an excellent tool to do so.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

6 Must Read Tips for Healthy Winter Hair

6 Must Read Tips for Healthy Winter Hair

Ah, Winter ... It's a wonderful time of year for you, but how about your hair?  Warm nights by the fire are lovely, except for that super dry air! Crisp walks in the snow could not be more refreshing, but who loves the static effect on your locks? And never mind accessorizing with all those chic hats ... the aftermath can be less than stylish!

But just as you change up your skincare routine for drier days with a richer moisturizer or a creamier cleanser, a few simple changes to your hair care routine can winterize your tresses and keep dry ends, flat looks, and static frizz at bay. 

Here are 6 easy tricks to winter-proof your hair:

1. Get Rich
Dry air and indoor heating can parch your hair during winter months, so switch your everyday shampoo and conditioner to a sulfate-free routine.  These cleansing agents, found in many shampoos, can strip moisture and colorant from hair - so moving away can keep your color fresh too! Look for products free of moisture-stripping sulfates and rich in ultra-hydrating monoi oil.

Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Co-Wash
2. Skip A Day, The Cheater's WayIf you've heard about the benefit of skipping shampoo days but haven't yet given this a try, winter can be a great time to give your hair and scalp a break, allowing your own natural oils to rebalance. Scalp health is essential for great hair, and if your face gets dry in the winter, imagine the state of your poor head!  But don't worry, you don't have to actually avoid the shower ... I love a creamy cleansing conditioner like Carol's Daughter Hair Milk Co-Wash - it has just enough cleaning power to leave hair feeling refreshed, and just enough conditioning effect to leave it smooth without weighing it down.

3. Style, Don't Strip
If you can't leave home without sleek tresses, winter is the time to be extra vigilant about protecting your hair from the stress of heat styling. To lock in moisture while you're styling, try an at-home keratin treatment. Some hair straighteners and styling tools come with features that can actually help your hair, like: keratin packs, or spray through, leave-in, keratin treatment before firing up your favorite tool.

4. Do Double Duty
Winter air is usually low in humidity, which makes for static-y flyaways and, you guessed it, drier hair! I love saving time (and money) by picking up a moisture-rich hair cream, which doubles as a styling aid and conditioning pack. I use the lightest touch on hair before I throw on my knit hat, and about once weekly I apply it throughout my hair and wrap in a just-from-the-drier towel to create a deep moisture treatment.

Taya Amazon White Clay & Acacia Collagen Overnight Hair Plumper
5. Fight the Flat
Low humidity can also be torture for fine, thin hair, but that's nothing a good night's sleep won't cure ... I swear!  Taya Amazon White Clay & Acacia Collagen Overnight Hair Plumper works while you're sleeping to inject hair with va-va-voom volume by morning, and starting your style off right.

6. Good, To Go
Even if I'm not jetting off somewhere chic, I love to pick up a travel set or two for the winter season.  They offer great value and a chance to try something new - but even better, they ensure I have mini tress-tamers at my fingertips for those hat head moments when arriving at the office or an event.  Amika's Jet Set Hair Care Survival Kit contains their cult Obliphica Leave In Cream - perfect for smoothing frizzies.

With a few swaps and simple tricks, your hair will enjoy the wonders of winter as much as you do!

by Ann Colville Somm (HSN blog post)

Let's just say I have been doing tip number 2 since High School! I've been teased about it plenty, but nowadays it's a great little secret that more and more women are doing (I always knew I was onto something)! I can honestly go 4-5 days without washing my hair people--still wanna read my blog?!

I also love how Ann mentioned keeping our hair rich with moisturizing conditioners and treatments. I've even done some simple home remedy hair goodness that has helped my hair a lot. I wet it down, and add
2 eggs, (yes, I literally crack two eggs over my head), and mix that with a few tablespoons of vinegar and let it sit for a few minutes and my hair is so soft! The smell is less than desirable, but it's so worth it! I usually don't do this in the shower, because of the shells, so just do this over your kitchen sink.

I hadn't thought about buying travel kits of different hair products with the intention of trying something new--love that! I'll still pretend I'm going to Florida or something to get out of the Minnesota cold!

Let me know what you think of our winter hair care tips! And I'll see you next week when I finally publish my post on the infamous "Selfie", can't wait! I've missed my space here and all of you so much. Honestly, after being sick for 4 weeks, and the holidays, (which I seriously hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year), I just didn't have the energy to produce--but that doesn't mean I wasn't writing. See you soon!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Not Just On Thursday

. . .finding thankfulness in everyday. . .so much of our misery is rooted in ingratitude. Most of the time, even in the bleakest of circumstances, all it takes is a little refocusing and we can become thankful. . . 

but you don't see how demanding my job is;
yes but you are employed and are a unique contributor 

but you don't see how hectic and crazy home life is with kids;
yes, but you wanted and prayed for children, and they are a blessing

my husband lacks in so many areas, it's nearly impossible to love him;
I understand, but surely if you dig deep enough you will find value in him

living with chronic illness is extremely depressing;
yes, surely I can relate, but you are still living so you have a purpose

I'm tired of living "pay check to pay check";
I can see that, but you have a choice in the matter

I wish I had nicer things and a bigger house;
I can relate, but I am reminded that anything that can be bought, is 
pretty worthless anyway

I'm not in the spotlight, people don't know me;
but God not only sees you, He knows you

I didn't accomplish all I wanted to during the week;
goodness me, but what did you accomplish and who is keeping track?

I don't have enough friends;
I say start small and redirect your focus on the friend/s you do have

I have such a small family, I'm bitter because it's not bigger;
yes, but do you have family?

There is so much I want to do that I haven't;
well do you believe in dreams?

You don't see how lonely I am;
maybe not, but have you tried anything new?

But I don't have what she has;
ok, but what do you have?

Most of my life it's been a battle to remain thankful. So much of my life, like many, has not gone the way I imagined, hoped or envisioned. So much of life's pain has been thrown at me. It's a fight, but I have refused to let bitterness and resentments stick around for too long. Oh they make my heart heavy! I gladly replace those two with thankfulness and gratitude. When we find those living in our hearts instead of bitterness and resentment, we are lighter. We have a more open mind and heart. 

We become a more easy come, easy go person. 
We don't continue to hold on to what is keeping us from ingratitude.

We accept that in this life, we will not get what we want a lot of the time. We will be thrown curve balls. We will deal with hurts. And at times it will be torture. But if we stay on top of our hearts position amidst these times, I truly believe we will see and experience life differently. But it does take some work on our part to gain new perspectives. Let's face it, it can be effort to see good in this life. Sad, but true. 

The minute I take what's holding me down--and blocking gratitude--which is usually bitterness of some sort--I feel like I'm made new. I feel like I'm then operating out of the person I was made to be. The beauty of this is anyone can do it! Prisoners, soldiers, the dying, the living, anyone.

What, in your heart, can you turn around this Thursday?  I love the holiday, but thanksgiving needs to be in our hearts every single day! Not just once a year should we focus on being thankful. I surely know where my heart needs pruning. Come to think of it, I need to go find those shears.