About every moment of every day the local, national, and world news capture heart-wrenching stories of tragedy and utter chaos. Although the local news stations have been better about bringing the good news, too. Like how a group of teenagers care for the needs of their elderly or home-bound neighbors during this pandemic with meal deliveries, running errands, minor home repairs, and taking out trash. While helping others, these youth are helping themselves by learning new skills, effective communications, and heart lessons from their altruism acts. These kids didn’t wait for something to change, they made the change. We cannot say how long the pandemic will continue to disrupt our lives. But I cannot stand by and wait to see how long. Life goes on. The new normal is established, for now anyway. What am I waiting for? What are you waiting for?
I have gained 90 minutes a day by not commuting to work every weekday. After about 3 months to adjusting to work from home (and loving most aspects of telecommuting), I decided to make another change. “I don’t have time” is not a valid excuse any longer. I downloaded a walking app, and have been doing interval speed walking for the past 10 weeks 5 mornings a week. It has been so liberating! I am up to 4-1/4 miles in 75 minutes, and my speed is about 17-1/2 minutes per mile. I am out of the house 5 days a week doing something wonderful for my body as well as for my mind and spirit. After 6 weeks my blood pressure and glucose have dropped enough to adjust my meds. There is a new saying I have heard through the online weight management program Naturally Slim. “Mind, meet body.” I play these mental gymnastics, talking to my mind, my body, and my spirit. There is a series of thoughts that goes like this: “This is good for you, get out there”, “God, give me strength, protect me for another day”, “foot, knee, you are going to be okay”, “only 5 more minutes of speed walking before cool down, yes!”, “sweaty wet tank top you are getting washed today”, “God, bless that homeless person”, “the birds sound lovely, thank You”, “God, what a beautiful sunrise You have given this morning!”, “oh, what a cute flower pot” … I think you get the picture. My thoughts turn to prayer, thankfulness, and praise every single day. I turned sixty today! My sassy (my hubby says sexy) sixty self is happy I have not stood by and waited any longer for these walking workouts. We are never too old to learn or do something new. Now is the time.
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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.
The ladies group I have been involved with since late spring has been a source of tremendous mutual support. We pray for each other and talk through anything plaguing our minds. Much that we battle with someone else we know has battled with before. Why not talk about it, learn from each other? If trust and confidence is there amongst a community, then there is freedom from stereotypes and judgment. I cannot say that would be the case with any group of women, but it is with this one. Grace abounds.
I headed out the door late this morning, sunhat and eagerness to get to Long Row Lavender where we met for a lunch and walked amongst the lavender field today. Gorgeous September afternoon. We enjoyed a light luncheon of sandwiches, fresh fruit, and tea. Their iced lavender tea was delicious. Two of the ladies have young boys, so it was a party of four women and three boys under the age of 8. On our walk we noticed a couple of varieties of lavender as well as zinnias and sunflowers. The idea is to attract bees, and there were many. The sunflowers drooped loaded with seeds in their heads. Some spilled onto the ground. The children thought this was fascinating.
The parable of scattered seeds came to mind. “A farmer was sowing grain in his fields. As he scattered the seed across the ground, some fell beside a path, and the birds came and ate it. And some fell on rocky soil where there was little depth of earth; the plants sprang up quickly enough in the shallow soil, but the hot sun soon scorched them and they withered and died, for they had so little root. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns choked out the tender blades. But some fell on good soil and produced a crop that was thirty, sixty, and even a hundred times as much as he had planted. If you have ears, listen!” ~ Matthew 13: 3- 9. What seeds am I sowing? Have I prepared my soil to be good? Am I watered in the Word of God and feeding my soul with His goodness? Today was a wonderful day, soaking in His creation and the blessing of friends.
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.
Emotions and the mind do funny things sometimes. Emotions can see-saw like the playground equipment, up-down, up-down. Sometimes the mind plays its own games. Truths and lies come into the mind, and I remind myself what is the truth. And people play games, too. But to know the difference requires discernment. I ask God for that discernment and wisdom. And my trust, my anchor, my foundation is in Him and His Word.
I am reading the book The Daniel Plan, and the chapter on “Focus” resonates so profoundly. Taking care of the body and the mind is essential to going older gracefully. A healthy body and sound mind equals good mental health. Fill your mind with good seeds. Then let your practice of those good thoughts bring harmony to yourself and those God has placed in your life. Bloom where you are planted.
Philippians 4:8-9 The Message (MSG)
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.”
I am a planner by nature and vocation. Letting things go for a whole day is not easy. I think the Lord designed the Sabbath for a reason. I am not faithful to take that day of rest each week. And it catches up sooner or later. I have a quiet time each day where I meditate, pray, and just sit in the quiet. But a whole day of this refreshes my body and mind. My spirit needed it, too.
At my little cottage house I created my boudoir, designed with a comfortable chaise and vintage forget-me-nots such as comfy pillows, a lace-paneled screen, brimmed hats, scarves, hosiery, aprons, gloves, a pearl-beaded clutch, and special evening attire. It is tucked in one corner of my husband and I’s large bedroom. I turned on the mood lights picking green to illuminate my boudoir matching the plush green outside the window this summer season. It invited me for an afternoon nap, a day of rest from my weariness. The dark memories of days from over 20 years ago fainted away. “Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” ~ Psalms 116:7. The pitter-patter of the rain on the window panes serenaded me to sleep.
A week’s vacation is finally coming next week. And a retreat may be in order for this autumn. But also a sabbatical. Traditionally, this is a 1-year recess for every 7 years worked. I cannot see this happening until I retire from full-time employment. So maybe a whole month off next summer, before I move into another chapter of my life’s work?
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?
Life is too short to sit idle, hate others, be jealous or depressed, and play mind games. With God’s grace, sincerity and a pure heart is what I desire to become. “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10. Pure and as sweet as honey. White as snow. No bargains made or motives conjured up. Just live for my Creator. I answer to my God at the end of the day, every day. And every day is a gift. At the end of the day, I take in account how I spent those precious minutes, my God-given talents, supply of resources and energy? Is my time consumed in front of a screen, iphone-size or mega flat screen TV-size? Size of the electronic does not matter, just how did I personally connect to those around today? Did I pick-up my neighbor’s storm-tossed trash scattered across his yard, encourage my co-worker on her new project, smile at that smelly stranger on the street bench, or pick-up the phone to talk to my kin living a few hundred or 2 miles away? Everyone has something they are good at. My energy levels may be up or plummeted down or be sporadic. Did I use whatever today’s strength is to extend God’s love and grace? Did I pray and be a vessel for peace or healing? At the end of the day …