27 February, 2014

Simply Begin

A few weeks ago I heard Ali Edwards speak about the importance of finding joy and gratitude in daily life. Ali is a scrapbooking, daily life documenting guru! She documents her weeks in photos, featuring the daily things we take for granted but would be devastated if they were gone: taking the dog for a walk, helping the kids with homework, reading a devotional with our husband, driving with those we love, the coffee and creamer we can't live without in the morning. The moments that make our life rich, real and amazing, and yet, we can easily overlook or take for granted in our busy, hectic, over-stimulated world.

Here is her list about how to approach scrapbooking. I have modified it slightly for my approach to writing/journaling/being creative:
1. I believe that there are an infinite number of ways to tell any story ... There is no right or wrong way to document our memories. 
2. I have no intention of “keeping up” with my scrapbooking. I tell stories as I feel moved to tell them and don’t feel bound to chronology. Some days I’m creating a layout that tells a story from 1980 and other days I’m focused on a story from today. 
3. I believe that telling the stories of our lives can actually change our lives for the better. 
4. My daily mantra in memory keeping & in life: don’t make things more complicated than they need to be
5. The best way to begin scrapbooking (journaling/documenting/photographing) is to simply begin. Start writing. Start photographing. Start bringing them together on your computer or with paper and glue. There is no better time than right now. 

(You can read more about Ali and her scrapbooking on her website.)
I started Project Life last May. Since I quit my job in October, it's been harder to find stuff to document (let's be honest - how many days can I take a picture of my laptop or puppy?). So it's not as consistent as it could be. And while there are multiple pages for the BIG things - vacations, graduations, trees falling on the house. I also remember the capture the special moments: my dog sleeping in the office, the pages of my book edited, snow, dinner. 

I am also trying to bring my creative visual side to my journal. 

I've journaled since I was in middle school, but it's always been writing and nothing else.  I can (occasionally) be fairly regimented in how I think. Journals are for words - nothing else! But for my 30th birthday a dear friend gave me the supplies to collage journal and I've come to see things in a whole new way! I'm taking a journaling class with Dr. Brene Brown and we are bringing together art and writing. It's amazing. 

I'm learning to add photos to my journal, to collage, to put in articles, fun photos and quotes. My journal can be where I am now, and that doesn't always have to be shown with words. 

So, how do you express your daily life? Do you journal, take photos, write on notecards, say a prayer of thanks at night? I'd love to hear how you take in the world around you. 

14 January, 2014

The Gifts of Imperfection

​ I am currently taking a journaling class with Dr. Brene Brown focusing on the journey from "what will people think?" to "I am enough." We are reading her Gifts of Imperfection, journaling, tapping into courage, connection and compassion. It is hard to look so far internal and realize that we can only give to others as much as we have given to ourselves.

It is a process. This year I've decided I am letting myself off the hook. I am done striving for perfection, which will never come. I'm going to be real, messy, love openly, accept love freely and try new things. It's time to let go of the struggle to "fit in" and instead become me and belong. And part of that is realizing that I am imperfect and that is okay.

I'm Imperfect and I'm Enough

"Cultivating a Wholehearted life is like trying to reach a destination. It's like walking toward a star in the sky. We never really arrive, but we certainly know that we're heading in the right direction." ~ Brene Brown

07 January, 2014

Getting Healthy

I went to a trainer for a follow-up appointment today, and it turns out in the last six weeks I’ve gained weight and my % of fat weight has gone up.

Before I go any further, let me say that my motivation here is a desire to get HEALTHY! Read – HEALTHY – not skinny or perfect or to reach a certain weight – but to be more HEALTHY.

It’s one of the greatest myths out there that skinny = healthy. That is just not true. You can be a size 0 and have a weak internal system and be ready for a heart attack and you can be a size 12 and be in top physical condition.

This is not about a size or an arbitrary number on a scale – it’s about health – which you cannot judge by looking at someone.

The meeting was so disappointing because for the first time in my life I am exercising regularly, which means trying to work out three times a week. At my first appointment my trainer gave me a way to work out using my heart rate and I’ve been trying to follow that, whether on the spinning bike or the treadmill. Now I’m being told to workout 5 days a week, 45 minutes, and add it stretches and strength training.

Believe me I am not the exercising, active kind of girl. Not naturally at least.

I have been overweight since I was 12. I was overweight in middle school and got teased mercilessly for it. I stayed that same weight until my late 20’s when my weight started to go up.

Still, I feel beautiful.

I’ve become okay in my own skin. I wear what I think flatters my body but have never felt this need to become a size 4 just to be accepted. I have floated between a size 10-14 and that’s okay with me. I am comfortable in my skin. I think I am beautiful, I am a sexual being and I don’t see anything wrong with my wide thighs, my tummy or my size 12 body. I would gladly become healthy and stay a size 12!

I don’t think a number should define our beauty. I think it should be where YOU are okay with yourself, not what the media, or shame, or unrealistic expectations tell you to be.

beautiful, healthy, encouragement

You should feel good in your body and reach whatever form of appearance is good to you. If you can be healthy and weight 215 and love your curves – do it! Flaunt it and love your form. If you can be healthy at 125, and want that form, groovy! But don’t pursue the unrealistic ideal that the media or movies or other women tell you to be.

For me this is a desire to be HEALTHY, to be able to do what I want: ride a bike race, hike for a few hours, run without thinking I’m going to die. While I pursue that it will mean I lose my tummy, I tone my limbs, and I change how I eat.

This is scary for me. I know in order to break the mental weight in my head I am going to have to face demons and deal with some buried pain. I’ve become okay with my weight because I thought I had to look like this. I bought into the lies of middle school.

Part of my self-sabotaging any previous attempts to get healthy has been this fear that I don’t know who I am if I’m not overweight and unhealthy.

So, we are becoming healthy! My husband and I are going to track what we eat, make adjustments, work out, and move more! I’m not setting a target weight. I want to be healthy. So I am going to let the trainer tell me what’s a healthy % of fat and when I’ve reached that goal. 

Mostly I want to be able to look in the mirror and like who I see staring back at me.

I am choosing to be open about this process – in all it’s joys and pains - in hopes that by putting it out there, along with the attempt to leave shame behind and encourage women to love each other (and themselves) more, someone else might realize they can make a change and become healthy too.

It takes work, intentionality and a shift in priorities and lifestyle, but for the chance to be healthier and live better and longer, I think the tradeoffs are worth it!

24 December, 2013

The Power of Empathy

As we come into this Christmas season, let's try a bit more empathy and engagement with those around us who might be struggling during this time.

05 December, 2013

Overcoming Isolation

In the month since I left work I have to admit I haven't gotten out of the house very much. I am working to grow an online business, getting my Master's degree, healing. I've spent a lot of time thinking, praying, reading, journaling and just being still. It's a shift from the busyness that marked my life before.

I've realized I always felt a bit out of place at my job. I never quite fit, would find any reason to leave. And I've felt that way in offices for years. I hate being tethered to a desk, hate being around people all the time. Now existing in almost the total opposite of that, I've come to realize I can fall into isolation far too easily.

It comes in phases. I'm okay being at home alone all day, then wham - I feel out of sorts and off. I miss the interactions with my co-workers, and yet am one step removed now. It's hard for someone who is very introverted to set-up coffees and lunches, and it's not that I don't miss my friends, but the effort and desire to just stay where it's safe overwhelms me. But I cannot hide away, the need to reengage is an ever-present pressure.

This article by Sophia Dembling on Psychology Today really struck me. Below are bits and pieces, go here to read it in full.

Isolation can creep up on you. You’re doing fine, you’re doing fine, you’re doing fine, enjoying your solitude, getting stuff done, perhaps even preening a little over your self sufficiency. And then one day, you blink a few times, look around, and realize that the world outside has drifted very far away.

Well, that is to say, the world has stayed where it is but you’ve drifted so far into your own head that it’s like looking out through the wrong end of the telescope.

... You make no plans and eventually fall out of mind for people. Your social circle rolls on without you. You’re out of touch with what’s happening around town; all too often I hear about fun events the day after they happen. You fall into default mode: Sweat pants and staying home.

And the more isolated you become, the weirder you get. Conversation feels awkward. Getting together with people takes a level of commitment you can’t seem to muster. You intend to call friends but put it off and put it off and put it off. It’s so much easier to hang out with them on Facebook. You promise yourself you will do something fun today, but then find a million little things to do until another day has slipped by and you haven’t done anything more ambitious than go to the supermarket. You might start feeling depressed.
Friends, no matter how proudly introverted you are, isolation isn’t good for you. Solitude is great, until it’s not.

The only cure for isolation is discipline. The discipline to make yourself pick up the phone and call someone you like. Sometimes that means moving out of your comfort zone, connecting with someone who is still just a potential friend. (See First Leave the House: Strategies for Making New Friends.) You need discipline to plan an outing and follow through. You need discipline to say “yes” to the next invitation you receive, even if it’s not the greatest thing you can imagine doing. The point isn’t that you have to do something wonderful. The point is that you have to do something. Anything, as long as it involves other people. Preferably people with whom you can converse.


So what is the solution? How do you balance what feels so natural and yet only increases your isolation? I don't have any answers and really it's day by day. For years the ability to get up and go to work has been marked by the need to fulfill commitments. My desire to isolate always lost to the push to be responsible and the reality that I could not hide away. In many ways I am thankful for the other things I am committed to. Commitments that get me out of the house, positions of leadership that keep me from hiding away.

I would love any insights people have. Any tips or motivational tricks for cultivating discipline and doing the one thing you do not want to do. 

03 December, 2013

Advent: A Season of Preparation

The season of Advent is upon us. Advent is us waiting for the birth of Christ. It’s the time when we prepare for His arrival and our redemption.

This year I am reading through Baby Jesus Blog: An Advent Study. Each day brings a different perspective on waiting for a child to come. Whether it’s through childbearing, adoption, or being a friend of someone who is expecting, the process of waiting for a child can be exciting, tedious, joyous, hopeful and life-altering.

But in the midst of the preparing for His arrival we need to ensure we are focusing on the right things. Are we just keeping busy or are we making a place for Jesus to come? Are we working to create a place where the broken, the stranger, the hungry will be welcome (as Sarah Jobe suggests)? Are we preparing for our hope and joy?

The reality is that while we prepare our home a certain level of openness and vulnerability is to be expected. We cannot only open our hearts to those treat us well or only do what we want, but also to those who might break our heart. To love, to prepare a place, is to welcome joy, pain, knowing, being known, growth, possibility, honesty - in whatever form that comes. 

Lord, may we in this day open ourselves to Jesus—that we might let him steal our hearts, even—but that we would know in this unusual expectancy that He is not “ours.” Help us wait with reverence and fragility for a hope that is real. (Jonathan Wilson Hartgrove)

12 November, 2013

Owning It

I read this blog by Seth Godin and it really hit where I am:

On owning it

If you announce what you want, if you are clear about what's on offer, if you set goals...
  • the chances of accomplishing your goal go up, and so does...
  • the chance that you will be disappointed
For many people, apparently, it's better to not get what you want than it is to be disappointed. The resistance is powerful indeed.

Every time you use waffle words, back off from a clear statement of values and priorities and most of all, think about what's likely instead of what's possible, you are selling yourself out. Not just selling yourself out, but doing it too cheaply.

Own your dreams. There is no better way to make them happen.

What dream do you need to own?