Monday, December 24, 2012

Coffee Reflections

As I sit on my balcony, listening to the combination of waves crashing on shore and cars driving along A1A, I am completely immersing myself in a cup of coffee. I love coffee. It is such a simple pleasure and, when I take that first sip, I am thankful for life.


Take a Sip

My dog lays by my feet, breathing in the scents around him. It amazes me that he's been doing this for fifteen years. The sky looks painted. It is my own piece of art. I hear doves cooing and kids laughing along with the sound of the ocean. The ocean is loud today.

Sitting here, with my cup of coffee, I am very content. Six months ago, I was caught up in a self-created urgency to make a change in my life. To move. To do something new. The urgency has passed and I am filled with a feeling of peace. I'm not sure that I have ever felt this before. I think that I needed to be stressed out, angry, confused, disappointed and self-loathing. I needed to go through all of it so that I could be more in the present. All of the stress and anxiety had become a catalyst for renewal. I just didn't know it at the time.

Now, I am moving forward in my life in a completely different way. It isn't about a new city to live in or a different life. It is about being creative and utilizing my strengths in this life. I have found the freedom that I was craving in both myself and endless possibilities.

Morning Sun

Friday, December 14, 2012

I Don't Understand This

I don't understand the world we live in.  I'm deeply saddened, terrified, angry and confused.  I feel empty.  Why do things like this happen?  These were the first words I spoke to God when hearing about the shooting in Connecticut.  I've been pondering this all day long and I have come to the conclusion that I will never understand. 

Things like this are a jolt.  I felt my faith wobble.  I can't imagine how those parents feel.  How are they going to get through this?  I had no idea what to pray for this morning.  I was too angry. 

There are so many extremes in this world.  Last night, I attended a Christmas party that someone donated for the kids I work with.  It was a night filled with laughter, smiles, hugs, love and gratitude.  It was an amazing night.  It reminded me of the goodness in the world.

Then, I heard about the shooting and I am reminded of the evil that exists all around us.  I keep thinking about those children today.  Their fear and confusion.  Their screams for help.  I wish that I could have been there.  I wish that I could have saved them.  I picture myself as their catcher in the rye. 

No more innocence.  No more growing.  Childless parents.  Traumatized teachers.  This is almost too much to take.  While I cried on my way home from work, I finally prayed that God would wrap those affected by today's tragedy in His love.  Honestly, I don't know what else to pray for.

As I got out of my car, I heard my neighbors talking about the shooting.  This incident has affected everyone.  It amazes me that evil can bring us together just as goodness can.  This upsets me on a very deep level and I am devestated.

Prayer:  God, I don't understand this and I don't think I want to.  Please be with the families of those who lost loved ones.  Comfort the survivors as they struggle with this tragedy.  I know that you have welcomed those innocent children into heaven - remind their families that they are with You.  Help me stay true to my faith.  It faltered today.  Help others feel your presence and know that they are not alone.       

Friday, November 23, 2012

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Swimming Out of a Fog

For the past week or so I have felt like I've had a huge rock on my chest.  I worried that I had heart problems or some other health issue but knew that it was anxiety.  I don't remember ever being that anxious/stressed out/overwhelmed.  It was all self-imposed.  I don't know why.  I felt awful, like I was dying.  I knew that I needed to relax, pray, meditate, etc. but nothing I tried was working.  I became anxious about my anxiety.  It was getting bad.  I was in a fog.  I was suffocating.

Yesterday, the rock dissolved.  I actually felt it lift off of my chest while I was swimming.  My husband and I went to Salt Springs yesterday morning.  We were the only people in the springs, the sky was amazing and the water cleansed my spirit in a way that I couldn't imagine.  I'm still in awe.

It was as if God directed me to the spring so that I could be reminded of the important things in life.  I floated in the water, let my ears fill with it, and as the sun warmed my skin I completely let go of the enormous amount of anxiety I had been holding onto.  All I could hear was my own breath.  It reminded me of how precious life is.  It reminded me of the things I value, the life I was meant to live.

I have been awakened.  I know my purpose.  I accept that God is leading me in a brand new direction.  I am excited.  I vow to focus on only those things that matter.  Yesterday's swim was one of the most amazing experiences I ever had.  It was pure and beautiful.  I connected to God, my husband, my self, nature and my purpose in that water.  Moments like that make it so easy to be thankful.  A few posts ago, I wrote about asking God to be my energy.  He was yesterday.  He showed Himself in Salt Springs.  He gave me the energy that I was lacking and I have a renewed motivation to move forward. 

For your name's sake, Lord, preserve my life;
in your righteousness, bring me out of trouble. 

In your unfailing love, silence my enemies;
destroy all my foes, for I am your servant.
 
Psalm 143:11-12
 

Sunday, September 30, 2012

A Quest for Purpose

Almost two weeks ago, I began a quest for purpose.  I'm thankful to Falen at Upward not Inward for introducing me to the Chazown Experience.  It was exactly what I needed.  Chazown is from the Hebrew meaning dream, vision or revelation.  Finding your Chazown is about fulfilling your purpose, the one God had in mind when He created you. 

I didn't realize that I needed to find my vision as I thought I had things under control.  I was certain that I knew what the next steps looked like in my life so I set off on a brand new journey.  The thing is, nothing was working out.  I didn't see any results, all this extra stress had been added to my life, I was even more confused than I was when I began the process and I could not figure out what was going on.  I really thought that God was directing me on this new path and when I didn't see any results, I began to feel let down and I started to give up.

Then, I found the Chazown Experience and I had an epiphany:  the past six months had happened just as God intended.  It isn't that things didn't work out - they just didn't work out the way I had thought they would.  Everything that I had experienced was to direct me to this realization:  my work life is not the area I need to be focusing on right now.  I have been feeling empty and disconnected but it isn't because of my work (the type of work that I do is actually directly related to my purpose).  It is because I do not feel that I know God like I want to and I have not been living a lifestyle congruent with my values.  These are the two areas I need to focus on:  my relationship with God and my physical life (exercise, reducing stress, finding balance).

Total light bulb moment.  Now, the other three spokes (financial life, relationships with people and work life) are all important as well but it would be too challenging to focus on all five areas at the same time.  I chose the two spokes that need to be my focus right now and I was completely amazed that work life is not one of them.  What about the journey I had embarked upon last April?  Do I regret the hard work, tears and stress of the past six months?  Not at all - everything has led me here, right where I am meant to be.

Through the Chazown Experience, I identified my Core Values:  authenticity, compassion, family, honesty, humor, integrity, joy, patience, servant leadership and thankfulness.  I also realized my Spiritual Gifts:  compassion/mercy, discernment, encouragement, faith and writing.  I was given the opportunity to reflect on my past experiences and see how they have shaped me into the woman I am today.  These various assessments lead to developing a purpose statement.  Mine is: 

To encourage others to reach their full potential by helping them embrace their strengths and find their voice.

How freeing.  My next step is developing a plan to reach the goals I have set.  I'm very excited and I feel like I am on the right track.  I'm not just seeking my purpose but I'm being purposeful.  It is a level of intention that I have never felt.  We walk so many different paths in our lives and so often it feels as though we are walking in darkness.  For the first time, I feel like my path is lit.  I can clearly see the path, the varying twists and turns and my vision of what is at the end of the path is clearer than it ever has been before.  Of course, I don't know exactly what the future holds and I know that there will be challenges but I have been given the gift of realizing God's vision for my life.  This process has been life changing and I highly recommend it to others.      


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God, Be My Energy

Physically, I'm exhausted.  I have been feeling this way for quite a few days now.  I am awakening both mentally and emotionally, though.  This is good.  I just need my body to catch up.  This morning, as I got into my car and headed to work, a quick prayer passed through my lips: 

God, give me energy.  Actually, I mean please BE my energy. 

You see, I realized that I need Him to help me.  I can't do everything on my own.  Yes, I take two vitamin packets per day along with antioxidant supplements but they aren't enough.  I need His life force to be the energy that I am lacking.  I will wait for the strength He has planned for me.  Isn't it comforting knowing that we aren't alone?  That God has our backs?

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.  They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not grow faint.
Isaiah 40:31
 
 
Full of Life


 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Note to Self

Work is not always like this.  It's the busiest time of year.  Breathe in and breathe out.  Embrace the exhaustion you are feeling and remember your purpose.  When you start getting freaked out and overwhelmed, close your eyes and visualize happy children.  Children asking and waiting for caring adults to become their friends, to mentor them. 

As you drive all around town and put lots of miles on your car, think about the families you get to meet.  The parents and caregivers who are courageous enough to ask for help.  The volunteers who feel like they are being called to impact their community.  The boy who craves a positive male role model and wants a mentor to teach him to fish.

Teach him to fish.  Play basketball with him.  Show him how to control his anger.  Set boundaries for him and be there for him even when he doesn't notice. 

You don't have the energy to clean your house or paint your nails because you are needed elsewhere.  This is the time that others need you more.  This is your purpose.  Take it all in and savor it.  Open yourself to all of it.  The smiles, tears, laughter, frustrations, stressors, anxieties, hugs, singing, overbooked calendar and even the red tape.

You keep praying that God helps you find your purpose.  Maybe you aren't noticing what is right in front of you.  You are running away from something very important.  It's lingering within you.  You just haven't grasped it yet.  You haven't fully embraced your purpose.  But it is there.  Waiting to be developed.  Hoping to be appreciated.  Get some sleep.  Tomorrow is a new day.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143:10
 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Distractions

I find it really difficult to do nothing. As I'm sitting on my sofa, listening to music and drinking a margarita, my mind is going in a million different directions. I want to just sit and relax; however, I am very easily distracted. I've picked my laptop up four times in the past 20 minutes and I keep putting it down.

Am I distracted because I am contemplating my future or how I might make various dreams come true? Or are the distractions just excuses to keep me from being in the moment? I hate that my mind races. It's exhausting.

My stream of consciousness in the past 20 minutes has included thoughts about: decorating our new camper in a beach theme, knowing that I really need to put clothes away but not even attempting to, my dog looks so cute that I have to wake him up and give him some snuggles, I feel like reading a book but I'm not sure what I'm in the mood for, it seems like a perfect time to cut up a watermelon, I feel like creating a new website but I'm not sure what I want to do, I wonder what it is like to go on an air boat ride, I don't know what business idea to focus on, I should finish the children's book series that I started three years ago, I don't know how to move forward with my photography, we planned on having shrimp and fish for dinner but I don't feel like cooking, I feel like watching a Twilight movie but I can't ask my husband to watch again, we ran out of milk for our coffee tomorrow, I can't just sit here - what's wrong with me?

Do I have ADD? How does one truly relax when life is so short? There's too much to do. There are too many distractions in this world. How do you deal with them all?

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rising Above Storms

Even though a storm is threatening Florida, my home is peaceful.  I'm reminded that we have the power to find peace in any situation.  We just need to have faith and embrace our inner strengths.




I found this story at www.inspirationalstories.com

Did you know that an eagle knows when a storm is approaching long before it breaks?  The eagle will fly to some high spot and wait for the winds to come. When the storm hits, it sets its wings so that the wind will pick it up and lift it above the storm. While the storm rages below, the eagle is soaring above it.  The eagle does not escape the storm. It simply uses the storm to lift it higher. It rises on the winds that bring the storm.

When the storms of life come upon us – and all of us will experience them – we can rise above them by setting our minds and our belief toward God. The storms do not have to overcome us. We can allow God’s power to lift us above them.

God enables us to ride the winds of the storm that bring sickness, tragedy, failure and disappointment in our lives. We can soar above the storm.  Remember, it is not the burdens of life that weigh us down, it is how we handle them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kids

I'm sure I have mentioned that I work with children. School started on Monday and today was my first time back since June. God, I really missed them. I work with between 60 and 80 kids and I just love them. The things the say will both break my heart and make my day.

We asked one child to tell us how he shows people he likes them and he replied, "Duh. I give them a hug". Geez, how did I not realize that. I am really excited about going back to schools tomorrow and Friday. I can't wait to see how much they've grown, how they are feeling about school, what their plans are for the school year and how we can help them be successful.

I really believe that kids are lacking positive role models. I spoke with a mom about recently moving out of town and asked how her son was feeling about having to start a new school. She responded, "I don't know. I haven't asked him". Well, maybe you should.

I'm not a parent so I can't pretend that I know what it is like. I do love the children I work with, though. I know that they crave attention, feedback, guidance, fun, honest conversation and unconditional love. I don't know the exact kind of parent I will be but I do know that I will respect my child and show genuine interest in him or her. I wish this for all of the kids I work with. I wish that they had three meals a day and weren't exposed to violence. I hope that they feel loved and cared for. I strive to teach them leadership skills and to find their innate strengths.

Prayer:  Please, God, take care of the kids I work with. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of their lives. Help them feel loved and appreciated. Give them strength to make good choices; especially, in difficult situations. Remind them that there are people who care for them and that we will do everything in our power to see that they reach their full potential.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Vertigo

I have another opportunity to make a change in my life.  It has been almost five months since I began this process.  At times I have been frustrated and impatient.  I keep reminding myself that God has a plan for me and things haven't moved forward because the the time is not right.  To be honest, this has not been easy to accept.  There are moments when I am so discouraged, I feel like I am falling.  I really am grateful for scripture.

I was pushed back and about to fall, but the Lord helped me. 
The Lord is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.
Psalm 118:13-14 


Good things emerge from our darkest moments. We just need to be patient and hope in the Lord.

Prayer:  God, I hope in you and I trust that you will open doors for me.  When I get discouraged, shower me with Your love and give me strength.  Thank you for being there when I feel like I am falling.  You are my safety net.  Amen.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Unconditional Love

Today is Floyd's birthday. He is 15 years old.

How could you not love him?

He's amazing. Obviously, I love him more than I could have ever imagined as I've blogged about him before here and here. Floyd is the embodiment of unconditional love. He does not hold onto anger or resentment. When life disappoints him (i.e. he runs out of treats), he gets over it quickly and moves on. Floyd reminds me to appreciate the little things and to take lots of naps. He is patient and independent. I love how he craves being snuggled for a few minutes and then, after he's had enough, he does his own thing. Floyd reminds me to savor an ocean breeze, sleep in the sun and indulge every now and then. Happy Birthday, Bobo Butt.


Eating dinner in a beach parking lot on the Emerald Coast.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Giving Thanks

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances;
for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18




Monday, August 6, 2012

Renewal

One of the best parts of my job is that I assess people. I love doing assessments. It's sort of like I am getting paid to hear people's stories. They welcome me into their homes and open their lives to me. Their authenticity and vulnerability are beautiful. Every time I meet with someone, I am reminded of how compassionate and giving people are. These are good reminders in a world that, at times, seems like it is full of hate and hopelessness. When feeling like I am being consumed by my work, I reflect on things such as this - it helps renew my spirit.

I just ate a very simple dinner. I love to cook - to chop veggies, use lots of spices and herbs, be creative in the recipes I create. Sometimes, I want to focus on other things. Like tonight. I chose to have soup for dinner so that I had enough energy to write, practice photography and walk on the beach with my husband. Eating soup for dinner reminded me of the plethora of options we have. We can choose how we live our lives. It's just about prioritizing.

I'm searching out new blogs to connect with and found a Monday Meet Up at Covered in Grace. What a great way to connect with other like-minded individuals!



My feelings of discouragement are beginning to fade. I think in part to putting ideas into place and taking control of some things that I tend to be lazy about. Plus, I've been praying a lot about this. The darkeness is fading. God really is rejuvenating.

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Needed to Read This Today

Sometimes, you just can't put how you are feeling into words. Overwhelmed? Crunchy? Feeling the effects of the impending full moon? Lamentations 3: 22-23:

Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Prayer: Lord, give me the wisdom to follow the path that you choose for me. During life transitions, help me focus on you and remember that your love will protect me from being consumed by negativity. I will wait as long as you want me to for the next journey you have planned for me. Thank you for new days. Amen.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Directionally Challenged

I am directionally challenged. I'm not sure if it is genetic or something I picked up somewhere. I question my GPS when it tells me to take a certain path. Sometimes, I go the way I think that is right and then I end up lost. Other times, I follow the directions that my GPS spits out and I arrive at my destination. On time. Who knew?

I like to give my opinion regarding directions. I tell my husband when I think he's headed in the wrong direction and he just looks at me. I really do believe I am right when I give input and 98% of the time I am completely wrong. My friends and family know this. They know to ignore me when I tell them which way to go. On the rare occasions they listen to me and we end up lost, they aren't allowed to get upset. They should have known better.

Yesterday, I realized that my disability reached a new level. My husband and I took our canoe out to the Matanzas Inlet. I swear that high tide was at 7:00 p.m. and we counted on this because when we were to cross a certain channel that goes out to the ocean, the tide wouldn't be going out. Well, I somehow mixed up low tide and high tide (though I still believe the website was wrong). So, not only did we run into a bunch a sandbars but for a split second, we lost control of our canoe and I had this very realistic fear that the tide would pull us out into the ocean.

We managed to cross the channel and we beached our canoe on a huge sandbar - it was like our own private island. The sand was white and as soft as silk. We swam around the sandbar for an hour until thunder and lightening told us it was time to go home.  I admit that I did get the tides mixed up but it was actually a blessing.  If it were high tide, we wouldn't have found a tropical paradise created by God just for us.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Daydreaming on My Staycation

There's nothing like a really fun staycation to help alleviate negativity. Sometimes, you just need to get out and pretend you're on vacation by visitng new places, drinking frozen drinks, watching old horror movies and reading thriller novels. I needed the last couple of days to find my spark again and motivate me to continue moving forward in my life.

Yesterday, my husband and I spent the afternoon in New Smyrna Beach. I had never been there before and it is a very cool beach town. It was extremely hot outside so we didn't explore as much as I would have liked but it was still a very enjoyable day. It reminded me of Old Florida - the Florida I remember as a child. The smell of Coppertone, sunshine and salt water. Colorful buildings, shops that sell items made from shells and coconuts, seafood restaurants that overlook the ocean and families riding beach cruisers up and down the streets. There is a hotel for sale right downtown in the area that is called the Loop. I am fascinated with hotels. One of my dreams is to own and manage a small cozy inn and this one, the Seahorse Inn, was awesome.

My inn would be extremely clean. The kind of clean that smells fresh and makes you instantly relaxed. Each room would be uniquely decorated, stocked with fresh flowers, sunscreen and Keurig coffee makers. The inn would also be pet friendly and I would welcome all pets with a yummy treat. There would be absolutely no smoking in the rooms or even outside on the walkways. My husband and I would be the only ones who worked at the inn and we would live in the apartment above it. I love that feeling you get when you are on vacation and my inn would capture the ambiance of being in a tropical paradise. One day.

Isn't daydreaming the best? It's a great way to think creatively and explore possibilities. Daydreaming is reflecting on the future, on what might be. It can help us transcend negativity and remind us of the good things in life.

"Sit in reverie and watch the changing color of the waves that break upon
the idle seashore of the mind."

- Henry Wadworth Longfello

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Just Move

I am trying to stay strong in my faith and in believing that God has a plan for me. It has been challenging, though. I feel like shit. There is so much of almost every kind of emotion swirling around me that I don't really know how to deal with any of it. The thing that it causing me to feel guilty is the fact that I am not experiencing any trauma in my life, no one in  my family is sick or dying, I'm paying the bills, I live by the beach, I am healthy and I have a good marriage. I know that I have a wonderful life. But still. It is there, lingering beneath the surface of my daily routine: restlessness and confusion and whatever else I'm feeling.

Even though I appreciate my life and all of God's blessings, I cannot help feeling this way. Isn't embracing life about taking in everything? The good and the bad? If I deny what I'm feeling, I won't be able to understand it and I won't be able to change it. Of course, I'd love to be happy all of the time and be grateful every second of every day but this is life and life is messy.

All this negativity that I have been feeling surfaced in my body today. My muscles ache, my chest hurts and I feel. . . activated. It's like a sensory overload and I thought that I was going to go crazy this evening. I didn't know what to do but I needed to do something.

So, I tidied up my bedroom and rolled out my stationary bike. I downloaded a few new songs from iTunes and rode my bike for almost an hour. I created a new playlist titled "Full Moon" (it's July 3 but that is close enough) and turned the music up loud. Loud enough that it not only drowned out the negativity I've been feeling but absorbed it as well. I rode my bike fast and I didn't slow down. Have you ever felt like you just have to move? To express yourself? Scream, sing and cry? Dance, kick and run? Sweat? To feel alive?

We have to let things out and as much as I believe in the process of writing and the practice of reflection, sometimes they just won't do. Sometimes, we need to kick negativity's ass (literally). All of the work that I have been doing to change my life course has kept me at the computer longer than I normally am. It has worn me out so much that I've lost energy and drive. Maybe the physical pain I've been feeling was God's way of waking me up? Maybe He is telling me to balance things in my life? I don't really know for sure but I do sense that something has changed.

When I finished exercising, I put my bike back in its place and listened to the last few songs while practicing yoga. As I laid on the floor, stretching my body and rubbing my dog's ears, I remembered that I have control over the way I feel. If I am feeling like shit, I can do something to change it. Linkin Park helps.  



Monday, June 18, 2012

Peace and Quiet

Last Saturday my husband and I took our canoe up the Silver River in Ocala. It was a four hour trip of complete peace and quiet. We could not help repeating to each other how beautiful the river was. I felt like I was on vacation and the warmth of the afternoon kept bringing me back to my childhood. It was one of the most relaxing days I've had in a very long time. I even felt closer to my husband on that trip - if that could even be possible. 

We have a trolling motor on our canoe so we didn't even paddle. We just enjoyed the sights, sounds and scents of the forest. We made our way through Silver Springs State Park and into the Silver Springs theme park. I've visited this park twice and I just love it. It reminds me of an amusement park from the 1950's. When I'm walking through the park or riding on one of the glass bottom boats, I feel like I might run into the Brady family.

The canoe trip was so awesome. It is difficult to describe the beauty of the river. Sometimes, words just do not suffice so here are a few photographs:

The water is so pure that you can see the bottom - up to 30 feet below.


Red Belly and Yellow Belly turtles bask in the sun along the river banks.


The river draws you into its magic.


A White Ibis.


The water from the springs is 99% pure.


One of God's amazing creatures.


Complete peacefulness.




Sunday, June 17, 2012

Thank You

Have I really been blogging for over two years? When I think of things like this, I am amazed that time goes by so fast. My initial motivation for blogging was just to write and be creative. I've grown to really appreciate the sense of community that comes along with this and I'm thanking three wonderful bloggers for sharing awards with me.

Thank you to Heather at Stretching My Wings and Mare Ball at Adventures in the Ballpark for recognizing my blog with a couple of awards.  Both are really cool, intentional and authentic women who also live in Florida!











Lily Tequila at Wishbone Soup Cures Everything has shared the Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you, Lily! I love your vitality, writing and outlook on life.
 
 
 
First, the Liebster award.  Liebster is the German word for beloved/dear/favorite.  The Liebster Blog Award is "passed from one blog to another to honor smaller blogs (those with less than 200 followers) that deserve recognition for their fabulous blogging abilities."  Mare Ball did some research has a really neat explanation on her blog post.

The Rules for the Liebster Award:

  1. Thank your Liebster award presenter on your blog
  2. Link back to the blogger who awarded you
  3. Copy and paste the blog award on your blog
  4. Reveal your five picks
  5. Let them know by leaving a comment on their blog

The Rules for the Kreativ Blogger Award:
  1. Thank and link back to the awarding blog (link above)
  2. Answer 7 questions
  3. Provide 10 random facts about yourself
  4. Give the award to 7 deserving others
The Rules for the Versatile Blogger Award:

  1. Thank the person who recognized you
  2. Add the award to your blog
  3. Mention 7 random things about yourself
  4. List the rules
  5. Award to 15 bloggers
  6. Inform each by commenting on his/her blog
I'm compiling the three awards and being creative in my appreciation to these three wonderful bloggers.

The Seven Questions:

  1. What is your favorite song?  I really love music so this one is difficult. Right now, I'm totally loving Gotye's Someone You Used to Know. One of my most favorite songs is Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes (I have a not-so-secret crush on Lloyd Dobler).
  2. What is your favorite desert?  It's a toss between cheesecake and key lime pie.
  3. What do you do when you are upset?  It depends on the situation. If I'm really upset, I usually cry. If I am pissed off upset, I can be passive aggressive. Usually, I process through my feelings (in my head) and it can take me a while to talk things out.
  4. What is your favorite pet?  Floyd, my dog. He'll be 15 years old in August and has been a part of my family since he was 9 weeks old. I know people say I'm crazy but I can't imagine having another dog after Floyd. He's the best.
  5. What is your favorite movie?  I love movies and have lots of favorites.  Some include: Rear Window, The Burbs, Manhattan Murder Mystery, the Twilight movies, Say Anything, The Sweetest Thing, The Celestine Prophecy and Gone Fishin'.
  6. What is your greatest fear?  Not being able to make it on my own.  I tend to worry about the future and not being able to support my family or becoming an old woman and being alone. Also, I'm afraid of lizards - they really freak me out and I almost got into an accident one time because a lizard jumped in my car.  I actually drove to a side street with my eyes closed, leaped out of my car and called my husband to drive my car home. I refused to drive my car until he found the lizard.
  7. What is your usual attitude?  I'm very easy going and I don't get upset easily.  I can handle stress and crises well because I just go with the flow.  I try to see the positive in everything and encourage others do so as well.
Ten Random Facts:

  1. I can't drink tap water because I think it tastes weird.
  2. I danced between the ages of 5 and 15 (tap, jazz and ballet).  I quit so that I could join band in high school.
  3. My husband is 13 years older than I am.
  4. I've never had surgery or broken a bone.
  5. Often, I think that I should be living in the 1950's as my values feel "old-fashioned" compared to others my age.
  6. No one I work with knows that I blog but I still don't share a lot of details.  The town I live in is small in the sense that people easily find out things and I always keep this in the back of my mind when blogging.
  7. I have one birth sister who is 4 years younger than I am and 3 adopted brothers who are 14, 12 and 11.
  8. My husband and I have sold pretty much everything we own twice, driven across the country four times, lived in San Diego twice and we minimize the way we live every couple of years.
  9. I have no idea how to use an iphone and I do not know what an app is.  I only use my phone to talk, text and wake me up in the mornings. 
  10. I love apple crisp but hate apple pie.  Go figure.
These awards are really going around in my small circle so I'm finding it challenging to share these with those who have not already been recognized. So, I'm doing this my own way and giving a shout out to some of my very favorite bloggers. If you already have the award, consider this a duplicate and know that I just love connecting with you. There are so many more awesome bloggers but, to be honest, this post has taken me a long time to write and I'm growing sleepy.

  1. Melody Mae
  2. Teresa at Journaling Woman
  3. Bumfuzzle (this is the very first blog I ever read and I have been following the family for two years. They aren't your typical bloggers that I've come across but their website includes amazing photos and an awesome story)
  4. Dana at the Daily Dose
  5. Sharon at Just Thinking
  6. Jo at In Which We Start Anew
  7. Kelle Hampton at Enjoying the Small Things (another one of the first blogs I ever read. She has an awesome story of strength and acceptance as well as beautiful photos)
  8. Judy at Life. . . Minute by Minute


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Just Breathe

Sometimes, I have to remind myself to breathe. The past couple of weeks have been one of those times in my life. There has been so much going on and today is the first day in a long time that I can actually just relax at home and have no agenda to attend to.

A few months ago I realized that my life was at a crossroads and that something needed to change. I wasn't really sure what that change would be so I tried figuring it out by myself. I couldn't sleep, I was anxious, I was in my head all of the time and I felt like I was going crazy. So one morning, I just gave it all to God and let Him take control. Things started happening and a path for my life began to become clear (not perfectly clear, just clear enough that I could see where I might go). I made a decision to start making some changes, took a risk and now I'm just waiting to hear the results.

I'm not so good at waiting. I've been praying a lot. If things don't work out like I want, I've been trying to figure out why God led me down this path. I'm sure He has a plan (even if I don't know what it is). In the meantime, the waiting has been good practice in remembering to be patient. It also has allowed me to open myself to new possibilities.

Life goes on and I'm still breathing. Here are some groovy random things and reflections that have been happening:

  • My friends just left and I loved spending time with them. As much as I enjoy being with friends and extended family, I just love being home with my husband and dog. My life has become so much more family-oriented in the past few years and I really love it. I have always been ambivalent about having a child. Lately, I've been thinking about it more and more. If I do, it will still be a year or two away (I've been saying this for almost 15 years) and I never thought that I'd have a baby in my late thirties. I guess there isn't anything I can do about it now. I'm already considered to be advanced maternal age, so what's another couple of years?
  • The little girl I wrote about in this post, is doing well. Her surgery did not have any negative side effects and she is in good spirits. This has been very tough on her family. She is still in the hospital and has not fully recovered so please keep her in your prayers. On the last day of school, her entire school hosted a walk to raise money for her. Over 700 children and adults marched around the school field with signs they made for her, chanting how much they love her and sending her positive thoughts. It was amazing! The only reason I didn't cry is because I was one of the photographers and needed to focus on getting good shots. It was a perfect example of the power people have and the experience reminded me that there is so much compassion in this world
  • I was tagged by Heather at Stretching My Wings and am so grateful. I have been meaning to do my part but haven't had the time to dedicate to it. I was going to make it a part of this post but just realized that there is quite a bit involved when being a recipient of blogging awards and I decided to write a completely separate post. . . soon.
  • My husband and I just bought a bunch of veggies at our favorite local farm and today was their last day open until Thanksgiving. I couldn't help to wonder what they do with all those leftover veggies and fruit. Does the family go home and cook up a huge feast? Do they give the food to a homeless shelter? Do they can or freeze all of that goodness? I kind of wish that I would've asked.
Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend and the ability to savor the feeling of being home.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

There's Sand in My Bra

I have friends coming into town in a few days & I really need to clean my house. I had things all planned out that today would be a huge cleaning day. However, I slept in until 12:45 (which very rarely happens) and then my husband and I spent an hour and a half at the Mission of the Nombre de Dios watching a hawk fly around and savoring the beauty of the mission grounds. I cooked lots of veggies for dinner: roasted beets, baked sweet potato fries, lemon carrots and sauteed peppers, onion & garlic. By the time we finished eating it was already 8:30. I had two choices: start cleaning or go to the beach.

I went to the beach. The full moon was like a spotlight on us while my husband, dog and I chilled on a blanket. The temperature is perfect outside and it is breezy. It is so breezy that I have sand everywhere. In my ears, on my arms and legs and, somehow, even in my bra. I love the beach. I love that all three of us feel so comfortable laying in the sand and know which way to turn so that the wind doesn't blow sand in our eyes. Sure, I have one less day of cleaning before my friend gets here but I allowed myself to embrace the moment and do what I really wanted. Though I may have to stay up late the next few nights to clean, our evening of beach therapy was well worth it.

Procrastinating with purpose,

Jaime

Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Simple Dream Made True

For the past two years, I wished to visit a specific private beach. Every time my husband and I would drive down A1A with the ocean on one side and the intercoastal on the other, I'd daydream about crossing the water and relaxing on this private beach that seemed so far away. I could see there was a sign on the beach but it was too far for me to read it. I wondered what it would be like to be the only ones sitting on the beach, fishing, laughing together and eating a picnic lunch.

Today, my dream came true. We purchased a Scanoe (a canoe that has a flat bottom) and a salt water trolling motor. Of course, we choose the windiest day of the year to cross the intercoastal (there's a tropical storm in the Atlantic) and the water was extremely choppy. I was splashed by waves as our canoe made its way toward our destination. It was so enjoyable being on the water again. I love the sun, the scent of the sea air and the taste of the salt water on my lips.

The private beach I had dreamed of is actually an island and part of Faver-Dykes State Park. It was awesome. We were the only two people on the island. There was a picnic table, two grills, our canoe and us. It was a tropical paradise and an amazing day. We walked the beach, laid under a palm tree staring into the sky, explored the island, waded in the water and absored the healing elements of fresh air. I have that sleepy after-feeling from spending so many hours in the sun and I'm savoring a perfect summer day by eating watermelon and enjoying the comforts of home. Happy Sunday.    

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Little Girl Hurt

I work with children and one of my kids has been very ill. We just found out that she is going to have a very intrusive surgery in the next couple of days. Her entire life will be changed forever. I feel so helpless while her family is dealing with this hundreds of miles away from their home. How do you provide comfort in times like these?

I just keep praying that God guides the doctor's hands so that her surgery goes well. I pray that when she wakes up and realizes her life will be different forever, she will not lose strength. I pray for her mother and father who are in shock about the devastating turn their daughter has taken. I pray that God helps all of us realize he has a plan for this little girl - even if we don't know what it is.

If anyone out there reads this post, please pray for this little girl. She's beautiful, strong and full of life. Please pray that she stays this way.

Thank you.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Spring Cleaning & Moving Forward

I love cleaning. It is cathartic, therapeutic and relaxing to me. I enjoy seeing progress being made in a relatively short amount of time. When I de-clutter my home and organize my things, I am also clearing my mind and rejuvenating my soul. The funk I've been in is lifting and, once I get over the cold I have had for a week, it will be smooth sailing.

The transformation of my mental and emotional state began when I acted on a recent decision to make a change in my life. Now, I feel like I'm moving forward and the combination of being proactive along with God's assistance has renewed my strength. I'm starting to feel alive again and more energized than I have felt in a long time. I am excited about my future and also embracing each moment more fully and thoughtfully.

I am positive that a change is near. I don't know when it will occur or what it will look like. I am not sure where I will end up or what the next year will entail. I am completely stoked about it. I love change. I love not knowing what is around the corner (especially when I am not alone).

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.
- Psalm 143: 8 

Monday, May 7, 2012

A to Z Reflections: A Crazy Ride

I'm so happy that I joined the A to Z Challenge. It sparked my creativity and motivated me to make writing a part of my daily life. I really needed this. I also really needed to accomplish something. I start different things and don't feel like I've accomplished much in my personal life lately. This challenge provided me a sort of confidence in myself. It has inspired me to foster my creative outlets: writing and photography.

As much as I enjoyed participating in the challenge, it was also very exhausting. I lost a bit of steam at the end but I pushed through as best as I could. It was difficult to read and comment on everyone's blogs. This part was much more time consuming than I had thought.

Thank God for being able to schedule posts. When I first learned of this, I didn't think that I wanted to write ahead of schedule. There is no way I would have finished the challenge without posting ahead. Thanks to the A to Z Challenge hosts for this suggestions.

I really loved connecting with others who have poured out their hearts, dreams, angsts, fears and ramblings. This sense of community was my favorite part of the challenge. There are so many different kinds of writers and I loved being exposed to this wonderful melting pot.

It was a crazy ride. I loved it. I hated it. I swore I wouldn't do it next year but I already have ideas for next year's theme. It was sort of addictive and I feel like it both held me back from some things and also helped me move forward. It was like riding on a roller coaster when you feel so many emotions all at once: fear, anxiety, excited, happiness and relief. It was awesome.



Sunday, May 6, 2012

Finding My Spark: A Veggie Run

There are many different phases in life. I like this because it keeps things interesting. However, as much as I really want to embrace uncertainty, I'm not very good at it. I wish I was and I hope that one day I will be best embracer of uncertainty ever.

I'm at a crossroads in my life and I feel a bit off/not me/stuck. While I am working on pursuing another path in life, I am also trying to flourish in my current state. This is not easy because I am having to be in the moment and envision the future at the same time. It is growing, accepting and living my current life while I balance the visions, hopes and dreams of my future life.

In order to really be in the here and now, I am focusing on three things: developing a healthy well-being, fostering my creativity and actively pursuing the next steps of my life (patiently). To kickoff this sort of personal challenge, my husband and I went on a veggie run yesterday.

There is a local farm called The County Line which is about 15-20 miles from where I live. Normally, we spend between $8 and $10 for a week's worth of veggies. Yesterday, we spent $23 on local-grown cabbage, beets, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, sweet potatoes, eggplant, various peppers, cantaloupe, grapefruit and a huge watermelon.

In order to find my spark, I have started with healthy eating. My husband has done a lot of research on pH balance in the body. We have started alkalizing* our bodies by changing the foods we eat. We've always ate pretty healthy but not consistently. These are the steps we're taking to alkalize:

  1. Drink 2-3 baking soda waters per day (1/2 to 1 tsp. per glass of water)
  2. Cut out alcohol (especially beer), sugar, dairy, eggs, bread, processed and fried foods
  3. Decrease the amount of meat in our diets 
  4. I am replacing the half & half in my coffee with almond milk (this will take a while to get used to)  
  5. Eat a lot more alkaline-forming fruits and veggies      
Basically, we are just trying to eat cleaner. I am working on becoming healthy in my eating, taking care of myself and becoming stronger so that I can do God's work, enjoy my life and find peace. I found this verse that spoke to me about the kind of woman I want to be:

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.
- Proverbs 31:25

I know that we all go through phases like this - when we don't really feel like ourselves. I believe that there are reasons for times like these. I see them as catalysts for change, for true reflection and for getting motivated to do something completely new. If we are open-minded during times of uncertainty, we are presented with options never thought possible. Happy Sunday to all.

*There is a lot of information out there on acid and alkaline balance. Don't trust just one source and be vigilant in your research.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Zombie Motivations

For my Y post, I wrote about ways I get into the groove of becoming healthy. Today, I'd like to share my motivation for becoming fit: I am afraid of zombies. A while ago, I reflected on this phenomenon but I've recently discovered (after watching a few episodes of The Walking Dead) that a fear of a zombie epidemic can be a true motivator for becoming fit.

You see, I think about this kind of epidemic quite often. How would I cope with Armageddon? Would I be strong enough to survive? I'm not sure if I am physically fit enough to run from or fight off a pack of zombies. I really need to get into shape. It isn't just about losing weight but it is more about becoming strong. I want to be strong in every sense of the word: mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Do I really believe in zombies? No; however, if a zombie epidemic helps motivate me to become physically fit then, of course, I am going to utilize it to inspire me. What this really comes down to is being motivated to embrace my strengths and to be as healthy as possible. It is taking control of my life and being good to myself. It is appreciating the body God has given me and maintaining it in a spirit of love, not vanity.

When I exercise I try to be present in the here and now. I also like using the time I exercise to escape reality, to get into my head, to fantasize and to create stories. When I start losing steam, I just imagine four or five zombies chasing me (the kind who can actually run) and my adrenaline increases, I become more energized and I am inspired to become the strongest person I can possibly be.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Art of Simplifying: Practice Yoga & Eat Yogurt

I've been trying to live a healthier lifestyle. I eat healthy, I am trying to get on a consistent exercise routine and I am in process of embracing holistic wellness (mind, body and soul). This is important to me because I want God to know that I appreciate the life He has given me and I would like to live a long and happy life with my husband.

Things get in the way for me much too often. I'm working on this. Sometimes, I feel that there is just so much to do. There are all these things swirling around in my head and ideas that I want to put into place. They become self-imposed pressures and they take over my life. When I really meditate on this, I always answer myself with the same question: how much do we really have to do? My husband always reminds me that life is about living life.

Why is it that women strive so hard to show everyone that we have super powers? We are raised to be responsible, reliable, hard-working. Now, many of us take care of our families and also provide for them. I've recently had an epiphany: as awesome as women are, we are not superhuman. Lynda Carter was my childhood hero. I was named after the Bionic Woman for God's sake. There was no way I was going to escape a Superwoman complex. As much as I hate to admit it, we're just plain old human. We can only do so much. When I start feeling overwhelmed, I focus on two very simple things that help foster my healthy lifestyle: I practice yoga & I eat Greek yogurt.

Yoga helps me in so many ways. I love stretching, the intentional breathing and meditating on the sounds around me. Yoga helps me connect with my body, mind and soul - I become in sync with myself. After practicing yoga, I always feel more energized and motivated to exercise. Yoga sparks my desire to be physically fit.

I began eating Greek yogurt a few months ago. I love it. My husband and I eat a lot of it. It has taken the place of all sugary foods and there's something about it that is comforting. This yogurt helps me keep eating in perspective - it is a simple way of eating. Eating yogurt in the mornings makes it much easier to stay on track the rest of the day. I always feel so much better when I eat healthy and Greek yogurt is a perfect way to begin my day.

For my very last post, I will delve into my motivation for leading a healthy lifestyle. Of course the health benefits are a given but, for me, it really comes down to a fear of zombies.

Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm the World's Worst Xylophone Player

I've enjoyed participating in the A to Z Challenge like so many others but am I the only one who is tired? This X post is a stretch but it is all I have in me right now.

In high school, I was in the marching band. I know what you are thinking. Dork. Yes, I was but I was also happy in high school and actually had a really great experience. I'd choose being a band geek and happy over being popular and miserable. Anyway, I played the flute and I was okay at it. We marched during the fall and participated in symphonic band in the spring. During my junior year, it was time to transition to the next level of symphonic band. This band was special. It was strictly for juniors and seniors only.

I thought I was pretty cool. Hey, I was a junior. Then, I got the terrible news from my band director. He called me and one other fellow flute player into his office and explained that we weren't good enough playing the flute to transition to the junior/senior symphonic band. He did have two openings in other sections: one of us could play the french horn and the other could be in the drumline.

Hello, drumline. Meet Mr. Xylophone. I had never played drums, piano, xylophone, tamberine or symbols in my life. We taped the notes to the keys with masking tape because I couldn't remember which ones were which. This is how I played at school. I did the best I could but my wrists just don't move like one needs them to when participating in a drumline.

I practiced for months and finally it was time for our county symphonic band competition. One component of these competitions is going into a room, being presented with a piece of music that no one has seen, having five minutes to practice and then playing for judges. Guess what? My xylophone was not equipped with masking tape notes. I was completely lost. I told our drumline leader that I couldn't play. He was a senior and in charge so he made me play the symbols instead. I had never played symbols before. Never even held them in my hands let alone play them.

The band is playing along and here comes Jaime's part - I think there were four or five symbols hits (I don't even know what they are called). When my turn came, I slammed those symbols together so hard that I almost dropped them. I put all of my energy and strength into my part. I was nervous but proud that I actually played them in count with the music.

When it was over, we walked out of the competition in a proud straight line. As soon as we got outside, I heard a classmate say, "Who the fudge (he didn't say "fudge") was playing the symbols?" I just pretended I didn't hear him. Did I mention it was a really soft song that we were playing?

The point of this reflection: there really isn't one. I just wanted to point out that I'm the world's worst xylophone player and also the world's loudest symbol player.

Y and Z, here I come.



Thursday, April 26, 2012

Building Walls

I have built many walls in my life and they have all been out of necessity. I believe that when you work in social services, you have to build walls in order to do your job effectively. If not, we'd be consumed by the emotional work that we do on a daily basis. My walls allow me to be empathetic versus sympathetic. They help me control my compassion so that it doesn't cloud my judgement. Without the walls that I've built, I wouldn't be able to make decisions based on my clients' best interests.

When I first became a social worker, I used to take my work home with me. I'd dream about the children and families I worked with, I'd worry about them and I would give too much of myself. I didn't even know what this meant but later I learned that if you give too much of yourself, you lose yourself.

I worked as a case manager for kids with mental health disorders for a while. One of my clients was a 15 year old girl. She was removed from her home and living in a foster home. When I first met her, she was smoking on the patio. I remember wondering why in the world a foster parent would allow a teenager to smoke. This was a completely new experience to me. After I asked her to put out her cigarette, we began building a pretty strong relationship.

I followed her to two more foster homes and a group home. She ran away from one of the homes and was hit by a car so I followed her to the hospital. She had no clothes with her at the hospital so I raided my sister's closet. I drove this girl to a therapeutic foster home where I was promised she'd be given the support that she needed. She arrived in bandages and holding the few bags of clothes I had just taken from my sister.

On her 16th birthday, I picked her up from a group home and took her out to dinner. Where the hell was her family? They didn't care. This beautiful girl's father had raped her for years. She finally spoke up in order to protect her younger sister, he went to prison and she became the family scapegoat. My first time in court was standing next to her. I was there to advocate for her. When her father began talking on speaker phone from prison, neither one of us expected it and we were both shocked. She started crying and so did I. I couldn't even talk to the judge or the attorneys. I couldn't speak for her that day because I let my walls down. I fell in love with this girl and I became too emotionally attached.

I don't regret any of it. She needed whatever I gave her during those few months. She began finding herself and became stronger. Right before I left that job, she told me that she was going to request emancipation from her family. She realized that they are not good for her and she needed to move on with her life. How amazing that a 16 year old learned this lesson on her own. She was so full of potential - I admired her independence.

This experience taught me to know when to put my walls up and when to let them down. These walls have affected me personally. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. I guess, it is just the way it is.

Note: This post did not transpire the way I originally planned but I really felt the need to remember this girl and commemorate her for being so strong and beautiful. She will always be a part of me. Thank God for resilient children.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Finding My Voice

I began thinking of how one finds his or her voice with experience. This was a common theme during my human relations work in graduate school. I had struggled with finding my voice as an adolescent and even into my 20's. Now, I do feel like I have found it but that doesn't mean I don't question myself or always know how to use it. In the last group relations conference I attended, one of the large groups focused on social sensing. It was the first time I truly connected with my voice in a large group. This is my reflection about the experience that I wrote in my final paper:

During the social sensing group I feel like I woke up from a dream.  I was aware of so much going on around me, I felt overwhelmed and invigorated at the same time.  I was amazed by what people were sharing and how interconnected everything is.  This experience was an example of awakening the soul.  It seemed that way for me on an individual level but also on a larger systemic level.  It was an experience that I’ll never forget.  It was wonderful. 

For fifteen minutes, I struggled to find words for what I was holding.  I was thinking of my cousin.  I had been thinking of him a lot.  I found it so painful and confusing to balance supporting his decision to become a Marine with the possibility of him being killed.  Dualities were swarming around in my head:  life and death, good and evil, innocence and war.  I cried silently and I experienced some very physical reactions to what was going on inside of me.  My heart was pounding, I felt dizzy, and I could not stop crying.  I really felt like I needed to share what I was feeling with the group but I didn’t know how it connected to anything.  I tried waiting until I gained control of myself.  I didn’t want to cry when I spoke.  I also didn’t want to regret not talking because I was afraid.  I’m tired of holding back.  When I did speak, I spoke from a deep place and I cried with all those strangers around me.  I couldn’t help it but also, in that moment, I didn’t care.  I was being sincere and I shared something that was really resonating with me even though I didn’t know why. 

After I shared what I was feeling, someone talked about finding the warrior within himself and what it means to have courage and take risks.  When we grow and become new, sometimes pieces of ourselves must die.  Someone in the group made a connection and I was appreciative of him for doing that.  The evening before, in my review and application group, each member shared a one-word intention for the next day and I chose the word “strength.”  My consultant had said that in his faith, when we ask for something, it is already given.  I didn’t know why I had asked for this but in the moment that I spoke up in the large group, I realized that I felt courageous and vulnerable at the same time.  I had been given the strength that I needed to be authentic and to share a piece of myself with the group.        

For more information about a group relations conference, click here or check out the Tavistock Institute at www.tavinstitute.org.    

“You never know whose future life you are shaping simply by pursuing
your own aspirations and living up to your own core values.”
- Bruce Avolio, 2005

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Ukulele Adventures: Finding My Inner Hawaiian

About a month ago, my husband came home with a brand new ukulele for me. It was such a surprise. I am not a big fan of surprises but this one was awesome. I think the uke sounds so refreshing and happy. Now, I haven't really played all that much but I'll blame it on the amount of writing I've been doing lately. I am really excited about learning how to play. I've noticed that I can be impatient, though. I sort of want to skip the learning phase (though some would say this is the most important part) and just pick it up and play cool beach songs.

I took one lesson at George's Music and had to fake my way through the G chord. I've never played a string instrument before and my fingers don't naturally curve like they need to for many of the chords. One thing that I think is amazing about string instruments is how open you have to be to play. They seem like the kind of instruments that bring out true creativity and flexibility. I tend to be more structured in playing music. I used to play the flute and I like knowing that there are specific ways to key notes. Learning to play the ukulele is going to force me to be more fluid and open-minded. I'm looking forward to this.

Finding my inner Hawaiian is finding that really happy and content part of myself that I've somehow lost over the past few months. Lately, I've been struggling with this. I have been trying to figure things out on my own but nothing is working. This morning, I gave everything to God. I stopped pretending that I'm in control of my life. I came to the realization that my plans may not be His; because, I'm truly out of sorts. I just wish I knew how to go about this. Do I look for signs? How will I know what path God wants me to take? I guess I'll just have to pray about this as well.

Today's prayer: God, thank you for my life. Though I don't always voice my appreciation for everything you've given me, I really do. Help me use the various tools that I have, such as my new ukulele, to find my inner Hawaiian, my happy place. I know it is there. I just need You to help me connect with it.


I want to learn to play like this. Eddie Vedder is amazing.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Today, I Celebrate Life and Remember My Dad

Today is a unique day.  It is both my birthday and the anniversary of my dad's death.  I turn 35 today and 16 years ago my dad passed away.  Every birthday since then has been special.  I celebrate my life as well as his.  I can't help to wake up on my birthday and relive those last few days with him.  It is my way of remembering the intensity of losing a parent.  Though painful, I don't want to forget.  I want to embrace the grief and loss I feel for him.  The pain is real and it is a part of who I am.  When I write about my dad, I can't always think clearly and I don't really want to.  So, I just go with the flow and voice whatever comes to mind.

My dad had AIDS.  I never really accepted the disease.  I stayed positive and really thought that the handfuls of vitamins and herbs he took would prolong his life.  This was before the cocktail so he had to rely on things such as garlic and shark cartilage.  I was completely shocked to get a phone call from my mom telling me to come home from college.  I was a freshman and it was the week before final exams.  My roommate and I found my professors and, through tears and snotty noses, requested that I take my exams early so that I could go home and be with my dad who was dying.  This was difficult.  Still, I have no recollection of those days as I crammed for my exams and packed my belongings not knowing what I was going home to.

He wasn't too bad when I first saw him but that didn't last long.  I think that he lived for a week or two after I came home.  Sometimes, I miss him so much that my soul actually hurts. I can't catch my breath and I feel like I am suffocating. 

I never heard my dad yell and I never saw him get angry.  He worried about my sister and I and he would have done anything for us.  His love was unconditional.  My dad was compassionate, peaceful, spiritual, funny, loving and creative.  I truly admired him. 

The night before my dad died, I kissed him goodnight and told him that I would take care of my sister.  He didn't have to hang on any longer.  It was okay to go.  I didn't' care that it was my birthday.  He died a few hours later.  That day was so awkward.  Everyone was in shock while we picked out an urn and cemetery plot that morning and ate birthday cake later in the afternoon.  I think my entire family was floating in some other dimension.  It was completely surreal.

God, I miss my dad.  Sometimes, I have nightmares that he is alive and the only reason I don't see him is because we lost touch with each other.  In my nightmare, my dad is living his life somewhere but I have no idea where.  I feel so alone after these dreams and I grieve for him all over again.

I feel hollow when I miss him only because I loved him so much.  After allowing myself to remember his death, I spend the day celebrating life.  I know that I will see my dad again one day and this brings me peace.  Today, I am thankful for my life as well as his.  I am grateful that I could be myself with him. We didn't even have to speak, we could just be with each other and feel connected.  I will carry this connection with me forever.  He has inspired me in so many ways: learning to love myself, embracing creativity, opening myself to true love, connecting with God and furthering my education.  I completed my graduate portfolio in his memory and included this photo and poem: 
         

   
My father, my past

He who taught me to love unconditionally

To savor every moment and to laugh at the little things.

When I think of my father and the life that he lived,

I am reminded of the importance to be myself and to love who I am.

He was the embodiment of peace, love, and spirituality.

My father’s contribution to my leadership capacity was teaching me

to be compassionate and understanding.  

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Sarah McLachlan

I'm sure that most people (especially those of us who love music) have that one artist or band who makes them feel at home. Sarah McLachlan is that singer for me. Her music is beautiful and she helps me create a certain atmosphere in my home. It's a combination of relaxation, peace and love. Floyd, my dog, has grown up listening to Sarah McLachlan's songs. When I turn her music on, he becomes really relaxed and sleepy. I think that he loves her as much as I do. She takes me back to simpler times - those where I didn't worry as much or think too much. Her music is sort of freeing in a way. When I listen to her songs, my mind becomes clearer and free from clutter.





What music makes you feel at home?