What kind of fabric clothes you? Is it rich with color? A neutral tone? Plush with softness or textured? Paisley print, plaid, floral print, solid pastel, or solitary bold? Does the fabric have a fresh, clean smell of spring, or of warmth like winter wool? Sometimes the fabrics of our lives pick up the stench of offensive stuff, like the burnt smell of overcooked popcorn or a dog rolling on a dead animal. BTW: why do dogs do that? Life brings rotten circumstances that cause us to stop in our tracks and ask “why me?”. Your emotions and anger seem out-of-control. Or life leaves us depressed enough not to know what to ask or say. Just a lump of dry meat stuck in your throat that won’t go down or you cannot throw it up.
I say pick up a pen, pencil, paint brush, chalk, glue stick, or vase. And get at least one word written on a journal page. Or that one paint color of choice brushed on the canvas. Or that one embellishment glued on your choice of media for a collage. Or that solitary flower added to the vessel of choice. You do not have to have the whole story together, just one word. You do not have to have a landscape or portrait finished. That collage comes together bit by bit as you find another medium to add for expression of your feelings. The flower vase may be a simply perfect vignette for the eyes with just that one flower you put in it. Create from your gut. I suppose they call this art therapy. I call it survival with color. Allow the mind to be freed and body feel it down to the bone as you empty yourself. You may not know all the answers, but your feelings come out in a healthy way and adds color and texture to the fabrics of your life. Art is another God-given tool as a woman warrior.
As an employee wellness coordinator for a large-sized government entity, I keep myself versed on health and wellness topics and periodically take certification courses. Depression and mental health are major issues in the United States. A person can know this by listening to the news or viewing social media at any given moment these days. More and more training in the health and wellness fields are focusing on the “7 dimensions of wellness” that make a person “whole”. If any of these are lacking, it affects the other dimensions of a person, and the community around.
These past few weeks God is urging me to write, more than I have written before with my journals, blogs, letters, and poems. I am writing a book about wholeness, the physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental healing for a woman with post-traumatic stress disorder which affects the social, intellectual, occupational, and environmental dimensions of her life. It is based on the true story of a Christian woman and her struggles after a traumatic event. Subsequent therapy reveals more than this sexual assault trauma, but the dysfunction she is living in her marriage. It is a story of hope despite the reality of trauma, and the fight against shame and demons associated with sexual assault. Life’s lessons are learned in every situation and circumstance, if we listen.
I have applied for a writing fellowship at a writers colony in Arkansas, and hope to hear good news by November. If awarded I will be granted 2-weeks stay at this writers lovely retreat center. My calendar will allow for this next spring, if I am awarded. If not granted the fellowship, well I may take 2 weeks off and hide out in my husband and I’s cottage to focus on this work with greater depth. Projects with my employer have shifted with earlier deadlines, so spring will be a lovely time to write, take walks, meditate, and write again. “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed,” Ernest Hemingway is quoted. For me it will be my pen and journal, and pecking away on the keyboard of my laptop.
Introverts contemplate, in quietness and solitude they create and conclude. Susan Cain, author of Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking gives an eloquent Ted Talk on this subject. Go to https://www.quietrev.com/ted-talk/. She ends this speech for both the introvert and extrovert with “I wish you the courage to speak softly”. For myself, and many of my loved ones who are introverts, this is for you, too. The photo is my oldest granddaughter in quiet thought near the river a couple of years back. Now in her junior year with home schooling (not a senior like I wrote a few days ago). Hannah makes time for solitude, reads, writes, draws, and is creative. Introvert as it is, she or I do not need a group to follow or hang with.
As an introvert do you ever wonder whether speaking up is worth it? Arguing never gets far, but even saying a word or two seems to cause trouble. “Silence is an answer too” has some truth. But silence for too long can be misunderstood, leaves too much room for incorrect conclusions. “I will watch my ways, lest I sin with my tongue; I will keep a muzzle on my mouth. Mute and silent before the wicked, I refrain from good things. But my sorrow increases; my heart smolders within me. In my sighing a fire blazes up, and I break into speech,” David, the psalmist writes in Psalms 39: 2 – 4. Silence is broken, passion rises up to spoken words. For others it is the written word or an art piece.
So what does the word “silence” mean? According to the online resource https://av1611.com/kjbp/kjv-dictionary/silence.html …
SI’LENCE, n. L. silentium, from sileo, to be still.
1. In a general sense, stillness, or entire absence of sound or noise; as the silence of midnight.
2. In animals, the state of holding the peace; forbearance of speech in man, or of noise in other animals. I was dumb with silence; I held my peace, even from good. Ps 39.
3. Habitual taciturnity; opposed to loquacity.
4. Secrecy. These things were transacted in silence.
5. Stillness; calmness; quiet; cessation of rage, agitation or tumult; as the elements reduced to silence.
6. Absence of mention; oblivion, Eternal silence be their doom. And what most merits fame, in silence hid.
7. Silence, in used elliptically for let there be silence, an injunction to keep silence.
SI’LENCE, v. t.
1. To oblige to hold the peace; to restrain from noise or speaking.
2. To still; to quiet; to restrain; to appease. This would silence all further opposition. These would have silenced their scruples.
3. To stop; as, to silence complaints or clamor.
4. To still; to cause to cease firing; as, to silence guns or a battery.
5. To restrain from preaching by revoking a license to preach; as, to silence a minister of the gospel. The Rev. Thomas Hooker, of Chelmsford in Essex, was silenced for non-conformity.
6. To put an end to; to cause to cease. The question between agriculture and commerce has received a decision which has silenced the rivalships between them.
What words need to go unsaid? When does the silence need to be broken? Will I take up the courage to say it softly? Will you take up the courage to say it softly? What words do you need to share with your world in 2019?
“Women’s stories matter. They tell us who we are, they give us places to explore our problems, to try on identities and imagine happy endings. They entertain us, they divert us, they comfort us when we’re lonely or alone. Women’s stories matter. And women matter, too.” ~ Jennifer Weiner
I read many literary pieces authored by famous and not so famous women. Women have many untold stories, happy, and sad ones, too. There is a time to share those stories, and other times to be quiet. A time to work through heart matters in solitude. Inspirational writer Ann Voskamp asks in her book Be The Gift, “Are the most painful tears the kind no one can see, the kind where your soul weeps alone?” This is where God meets us, holds us, hugs us, comforts, allowing the tears to flow until no more. Empty oneself of all. In the midst of physical pain, mental anguish, sudden illness, chronic health conditions, death, wrongful accusations, troubled relationships, mean co-workers, political wars, poverty, domestic violence, or complete exhaustion, faith has to play a part to get through it.
But also, “faith has to be exercised in the midst of ordinary, down-to-earth living,” writes Elisabeth Elliot. “Faith without works is dead,” the Holy Scriptures tell us. “Faith is built out of small acts along the path of life,” Maria Shiver shares in her new book, I’ve Been Thinking … Today, what small act strengthened your faith, your belief in God and His creation? And that creation is you, too. Was it surrendering your curse words to thankfulness? Was it a smile shared with that co-worker who loathes your presence? Was faith exercised in giving your lunch money to the homeless lady sitting on the bench? How about when you wrote an encouragement letter to that relative estranged from the family? The tenth time to patiently point out a grammatical error to the simple-minded teen? Scrubbing the stains off the wall made by careless guests? Forgiving the thoughtless comment from your husband? When you forget another appointment, but reschedule and mark it on your calendar this time? The lists goes on how we exercise faith in others, God, and ourselves.
We women have stories, and faith to make the stories go on about real heart matters. …
A wooden birdhouse nailed to a backyard maple tree was home to Eurasian tree sparrows year after year. Eventually the squirrels chewed a bigger hole and took residence. Now the tree does not exist as we made way for a room addition to the house, but the prized songbirds still return to our feeders every winter. The Eurasian tree sparrow finds its citizenship in some select communities in the St. Louis, Missouri vicinity. “Its presence in Missouri dates back to shortly after the Civil War. At that time it was a fad among nature enthusiasts to import nightingales, chaffinches, bullfinches and other songbirds from Europe. This was done in the false hope that new birds might help control insect pests, but was also an excuse among nostalgic immigrants who wanted to see birds ‘from the old country,'” written in a Missouri Conservationist Magazine article. These meek songbirds entertain us humans by making nests in our birdhouses and stay around for winter dining on seeds left in the feeders. Not native to Missouri, but they thrive.
Writers and artists need their own space to allow their creative juices to flow. Writers’ and artists’ retreats can be found around the world. Michael Pollan’s cites in his book, A Place Of My Own, “a room of one’s own … is a space of solitude a few steps off the beaten track of everyday life.” I think we all need that space whether it is a nook in your house, a favorite bench at the park, or trail to walk amongst the trees and wildlife. Creativity is for all people. Historians, sociologists, and National Geographic photography and author, Dan Buettner study people around the world, seek those who thrive and live as centenarians. These century-old people have 9 common threads in the communities they live in what has been now dubbed the “Blue Zones”. These threads are unique to their culture but can be tied together. These threads are: they move naturally, have purpose, consume plant-based foods and stop eating when 80% full, practice moderate wine consumption, have daily down time, their family comes first, live in the right tribe for self, and belong to a like faith community.
As a wellness professional I stand by the concept of “The 7 Dimensions of Wellness”: physical, spiritual, vocational/financial, emotional, social, intellectual, and environmental which I can easily tie into the Blue Zone’s 9 common threads. With all this, what is one dimension that the others surround around? It is the spiritual dimension. It defines our purpose, beliefs, and values. It centers our thoughts, prayers, and meditations. It is big enough that it allows us to accept others. And your spiritual practice, is it integrated in everyday life? Are you thriving? Where do you find your citizenship? Are you here by chance or did the Creator create your place/space for a purpose? And where will you be after the Earth is no more? Your spirit lives forever.
“There are two ways of spreading the light: to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it,” author Edith Wharton is quoted. Edith began to write poems, short stories, and novels as a child in the latter 1800’s. Her first published novel would not be until she reached age 40, as it was not acceptable for a societal woman to be active in writing during this era. Edith’s life reflected her love for humanity during the first World War, brave efforts made for her French friends. Days and years, maybe a dimly lit wick, but she persevered in those humane and writing works. Edith Wharton’s influence is seen in literature and the arts today, and she has been gone from earth since 1937.
“He will not break a broken branch or put out a little fire. He will be faithful to make everything fair,” the Bible verse encourages us in Isaiah 42:3. In today’s world when life seems totally unfair, there is this promise from the Old Testament. Do not put out your own light by living like life is unfair, slanted, short-changed. Stop the envious comparisons to your family member, curtail the jealous plans to out beautify or own more than the Jones, and live your life at peace with yourself , neighbor, and God. Be secure in God. Be thankful. “This little light of mine, I’m going to let it shine …” Be that candle, and reflect God’s love for you as a mirror to the community you have been placed in.
“Words. They sing. They teach. They sanctify. They were man’s first, immeasurable feat of magic. Words are living things. For they are filled with breath of life. Words can change lives,” author Kirk Weisler writes. I have hope. I believe people can change for the better. Do you? So choose your words wisely. Speak life, absent of criticism, cynicism, or sarcasm. And pray unceasingly.
A few months ago I began this blog dedicated to the warrior woman God has called each of us to be. This necessity to write about this topic came after my daughter, Elisabeth was diagnosed with two forms of breast cancer, stage 1. Within each of us is a fighter, some more pronounced than others. So I am not speaking of a roughneck girl looking for a fight. (Though I believe either one of my daughters, daughters-in-law and their mothers could hold their own if confronted in a physical battle.) With this blog I am speaking about the spiritual, physical, mental, and emotional fight we as woman encounter on a daily basis. And for some that fight is minute by minute of every day. My Elisabeth had such the fight the past 5 months. She told her story on her social media page, not whining and complaining, but injecting faith and the power God gives to fight against fear and the Enemy. The Enemy, cancer lost! After 5 months of chemotherapy and a bi-lateral mastectomy Elisabeth received the pathology report announcing “CANCER-FREE!” The victory is hers!
In my eyes, and many others’ eyes, Elisabeth is Wonder Woman. She endured chemo treatments every 3 weeks, the nausea and zapped energy level that followed for days. Hair and breasts loss. The mind and emotions battled the lies of the Enemy, refused defeat every step of the way. It takes a village to raise a child. And my daughter had a village praying for her, literally hundreds of family, friends, and church groups surrounded her with love and support, and beseeched Our God. And the countless miracles that followed … her husband’s unwavering support … God’s grace extended from her employer, to work when able… strained relationships focused on one thing, Elisabeth’s healing rather than their differences … a clinic of dedicated medical staff … most expenses covered through the healthcare reform mandate … non-insurance covered special bandages left in the mail box during recovery … gift baskets delivered … and most of all the village’s thousands of prayers said on her behalf.
How thankful I am that my Elisabeth has been healed, and continues in the grace of God! From the bottom of my heart, THANK YOU for loving my girl! To God be the glory!
This Woman Warrior writes to share the challenges, battles, and triumph cries of women such as myself and you. This blog has brewed in the 4-part curriculum “Beyond Resilience” I have written for the employees at my full-time human resources job in a local government entity. With the recent news from my daughter, Elisabeth, and the beginnings of her fight against breast cancer, I felt it is time to share words with the whole world what I and so many other women encounter. Elisabeth came from the womb a fighter. A woman warrior. She will beat this damned cancer. She has a legion of angels who surround her, and prayer warriors interceding for a complete healing. It will be Elisabeth’s toughest battle yet in her 32-years of life, but she will win!
The focus of this blog is on women, common and not so common battles we fight as warriors in this world and beyond. These are physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and vocational battles. We struggle with our health, self-esteem, acceptance, forgiveness, as well as financial and job securities. Real life stuff. This blog is not a political platform to bash political parties or leaders. Nor is it to bash the men folk in our lives. I need men in my life, and I am sure you as well. Oh, how I miss my father today. Our men folk fight their share of battles, too.
We women need each other! We need to stop fighting, malicious gossip, and comparing ourselves to each other. God has made us each unique and perfect. Let us work together towards better purposes. Today I need you to pray for my Elisabeth, her husband, her children, and her supporting family which includes me. Love, faith, and strength unceasing during this battle. A victory cry awaits.
So much to write about in the near and farther future. My Elisabeth may set up your own WordPress blog soon. She wants to share her ups and downs of this battle against cancer, so maybe someone else can learn from her life and words. Elisabeth is a wise woman warrior.