One Foot On a Banana Peel, the Other at Kentucky Fried Chicken (a post about answering our calling at the age we are)

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“The days you work are the best days.” Georgia O’Keeffe

Four blog posts ago, I wrote “Choose Well” about sitting still so as not to miss the magic. This week’s post is about working, and for the same reason … so we don’t miss the magic.

A phone conversation gave me the idea for this post when a friend almost half my age said, “I’m afraid I’m going to be in my 40s, look back, and realize I haven’t accomplished my goals.”

I wanted to interrupt, but I didn’t, and say, “And your problem is? You’re not even mid-thirties.”

They finished, “I’ll end up feeling like a failure.”

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Before I gave into lecturing about accomplishments and age and having time on their side, my thoughts jumped to fried chicken. You know, the fowl fried up by Harland Sanders, the colonel of chicken and founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 62 (after he retired and drew his first social security check). He may have something to say about purposely planning not to work and being without purpose at any age.

I wanted to lecture because, like my friend on the phone, I’m afraid of getting too old to accomplish what I want. If I’d started on my spiel, I would have been talking to myself. I’m happy Colonel Sanders stopped me, and even happier he’s a reminder we’re never too old to dream and live it. We’re never too old for magic. 

In the meantime and because I’ve been back and forth on this topic for several years, I met with my financial advisor to review our retirement plan and several options for moving forward with retirement faster. Even though friends who recently retired from teaching said they’d absolutely find something to do besides sit around, I figured my husband and I needed a plan in place for full retirement. I secretly held onto the idea of wanting a lot of time off until I wrote last week’s blog post, “Called to What?,” about finding work we love and working it to the end. We can’t be irresponsible about getting older, but it’ll undoubtedly make our “retirement” plan easier to save for if we don’t plan to retire.

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All that said … 

We’re rethinking everything. We want one week off a month for the rest of our lives, and, once in a while, two so we can travel. We want something to do, and we want to love it daily. We want purpose. We want to spend time with kids and grandkids, but not end up poster parents for codependency. We want to tap into creativity and maybe tap dance. Wait, I meant line dance. We want to continue most of what we’re doing now. I want to write. John wants to work on our houses.

A friend’s comment on last week’s blog post confirmed what we’d already envisioned for our lives (minus having a baby), but we started changing it up the more often clerks gave us senior discounts and the more often we thought about retirement looming. Sybil wrote, “The Bible does not use the word retire. Moses was 80 going strong. Sarah was 100, giving birth. Watch out world, there is a generation of great people wanting to fill their passions.”

Her comment reminded me of one of the quotes I shared last week. It’s by Howard Thurman, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

The world needs us to come alive before we retire and die. Once we’ve come alive, there’ll be no time to retire. 

Writer Richard Feloni put together an article about “People Who Became Successful After Age 40.” I thought it’d be fun and inspiring to share some of the personalities he wrote about.

Fun & Inspiring 

Jack Weil founded a popular cowboy brand, Rockmount Ranch Wear, and stayed its CEO until he died at age 107.

Rodney Dangerfield’s break as a comedian didn’t happen until he appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show at age 46.

Julia Child wrote her first cookbook that launched her career as a celebrity chef when she was 50.

Ray Kroc was a milkshake device salesman before buying McDonald’s at age 52 and making it into the world’s biggest fast-food franchise.

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Vera Wang didn’t get started as a designer until she was 40. Gary Heavin was the same age when he opened the first Curves fitness center. Henry Ford was 45 when he created the Model T. My two favorites on the list are Laura Ingalls Wilder who published the first of her Little House books at age 65 and Grandma Moses who started her painting career at 78. Who is your favorite?

#GettingYourOwnLife can happen at any age, and it doesn’t have to be a fancy career like Vera Wang’s or a moneymaker like McDonald’s. It just needs to be work that gives us purpose. We can’t afford to get tired and retire before we figure it out, before we find our magic.

Where are you headed besides retirement?

In This Together,
Kim

I’m not sure it’s accurate about Colonel Sanders receiving his social security check, but I included it just in case it is since it makes a great story.

Thanks for the pics, Pixabay.com.

Called to What?

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Today’s writing is more a blog list than a post. With every click, another piece of inspiration showed up that I wanted to share. I couldn’t narrow “our calling” down to a story, so I decided to include it all –  quotes, links, and insights, especially since working our calling is the essence of what I blog about. It’s our way of getting our own lives. (#GettingYourOwnLife)

Compelling Quotes about Our Calling

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” Howard Thurman

“Live bravely enough to follow the calling in your heart.” Melanie Moushigian Koulouris

“If you can’t figure out your purpose, figure out your passion. For your passion will lead you right into your purpose.” Bishop T. D. Jakes

“God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling.” Unknown

“The things you are passionate about are not random. They are your calling.” Fabienne Fredrickson

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Work Put Into Perspective

Here’s what Michael Hyatt says about saying “no” to retirement in his blog post, “Why Retirement Is A Dirty Word.”

“In fact, the more I think about the purpose and meaning of work, the more I’m convinced that nothing destroys our sense of purpose and health more than the modern notion of retirement. It’s detrimental to us individually and collectively,” said Hyatt.

In the same blog post and under his subtitle “How To Murder Your Heart,” Hyatt wrote, “The effect (of retirement) is that we’ve now raised a few generations to look for fulfillment in the pasture, not their work. Satisfaction is a future thing, not a present possibility. Joy is for later. Meaning and significance comes from checking out down the road.”

He winds down the article with a story about Duke Ellington. When Ellington was asked why he didn’t retire since he was obviously financially secure, Ellington said, “Retire to what?”

Hyatt said about Ellington’s answer, “It wasn’t that home was so empty. It was that his work was so full. He lived his art. Retiring would have been like turning off his own soul.”

“If you’re doing meaningful work you enjoy, why would you ever want to quit?” said Hyatt.

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The Significance of Our Calling

 No surprise that Sunday’s sermon was on the topic of our calling since I’ve been inundated with it. The message was delivered by Dr. Allen C. Hughes who said, “We were wired from the beginning to do meaningful work whether it’s preaching, construction, or landscaping, and we will never be content until we get clarity on what that is and do it.”

He said when people tell him what they plan to do later on or during retirement, things that include working their passion, he asks, “Why not do it now?”

His talk reminded me of Marsha Sinetar’s book, Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow: Discovering Your Right Livelihood. It was published in 1989, which is around the time I read it, only to return to my unfulfilling job. However, I couldn’t unread her words, hence the search for my calling began a long, long, long time ago.

“Our Call to Work,” an article that appeared on the site of U.S. News & World Report, opened with this quote, “Producing and innovating is doing God’s work.”

The writer, Nicholas Leone, stated statistics from a recent Gallup poll that showed 55 percent of Americans derive identity from their work, yet 70 percent of them are disconnected from that same work. Amy Wrzesniewski, professor at Yale University School of Management, believes work orientation has something to do with it. “According to her research, job orientated individuals view their work as a means to an end. Career oriented individuals focus on success. Individuals with a calling view their work as part of their identity and are happier,” said Leone.

Another interesting point from the article, “The word for work in the scriptures is translated as both work and worship. Our work and worship are one and the same.”

Distraction From Our Calling

Also from Sunday’s sermon, Dr. Hughes listed three things that distract us from working our calling.

  1. Believing work is a bad thing, therefore we try to get out of it in lieu of doing what we were put here to do. We end up lazy and miserable instead of productive and gratified.
  2. Doing the wrong work. We decide we’ll seek out our right livelihood later, after we’ve made enough money, worked a job with benefits, or sacrificed enough to possibly retire early.
  3. Busying ourselves with too much work in an attempt to be important, successful, or fulfilled. The truth is, “right work” is the only thing that satisfies.

How to Search For or Stumble Onto Our Calling

Forbes.com published an article titled “20 Ways to Find Your Calling.” The writer’s advice is spot on when it comes to finding the work we love or having it find us, like my writing found me. My personal favorites from her list include spend time before money and find a problem to solve. My problem’s been #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt.

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I would add …

  • Dedicate attention and time to what you love. If you want to turn your passion into a career, figure out how to make money doing it. I believe there’s always a way.
  • Listen to people, to music, to quotes, to movies, to life. You never know what may point you towards your calling.
  • Listen to God and to yourself. His guidance and your heart are key places to go for direction.
  • Ask questions like …

What are people saying I’m good at?
What job would I work for free?
What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?

Stay tuned next week for more about our calling unless I’m on overload and running away from mine. Please add your two cents. It’s worth a million dollars to me and our readers.

In This Together,
Kim

Family is Not My Calling

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“Sometimes we have to figure out what our calling is not in order to find out what it is.” s. kim henson

No doubt there are moms and dads called to full-time parenting, grandparents called to full-time grandparenting, and wives, daughters, and sisters called to helping their families around the clock, but I’m not one them. Not now, anyway. It was a weird day when I thought, Maybe family’s not my calling.

Even though I’ve been restless for a while about getting my own life, I wasn’t comfortable with the message. After all, family’s been my life even as a child. I remember being compliant when mom walked me to school even though the other kids on the Air Force base walked alone. As a teen, I accommodated my parents instead of friends. When I was a young adult and with a family of my own, I continued to cater to what I thought my parents wanted. I carried on this same sense of care and responsibility into marriage and parenting, and maybe a little too far as my children grew up.

While journaling one day, I wrote several pages about my calling not being family, “God, could this be your way of prompting me to focus more on my purpose and less on what I think they expect?”

“They” included my husband, my two grown children, and their growing families. I answered my own question. God wants more attention, of course, even though I can’t imagine he’s displeased with the attention I’ve given my family. For more than four decades, my parents, my husband, and my two children have been the reasons I’ve gotten out of bed every morning. My daughter and I got excited about the idea I came up with not long ago, “What if, instead of writing, being a grandmother is my calling?”

We laughed because we both knew this wasn’t the case, even if I’d prefer it. After all, I’m good at being Mammy.

I’ve had to come to terms with why letting go of my family’s been hard, and I’m not the only one who’s figuring it out. While researching parenting as a calling, I stumbled on a book I added to my reading list. It’s by Christian author and mom of six grown children, Lesley Leyland Fields. The title is “Parenting Is Your Highest Calling” and 8 Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt.

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My guess is, there are a lot of women like me who feel a pull to do something in life besides family, but family is a strong force to contend with. There are also women who don’t want to move on past family, but it’s good for us and for them when we get our own lives. They need us to let go and move on so they can too.

Mostly it’s hard to let go of family because my husband and children are where my devotion lies. There’s nothing I’ve wanted more than to be a wife and mother. To this day, I can’t think of anything more fulfilling, although I have dreams gaining momentum.

On a lazier and less loving note, family is an easier choice than my dreams. I’ve kept my life intermingled with theirs because my role as mom is a familiar one. I know how to do it and I pretty much know the results it will reap.

And, like Lesley mentions in her book title, there’s the worry and guilt that make it hard to let go. I get afraid sometimes when I see them go through tough times and I think I can do more than I can to help. I haven’t shaken the “shoulds.”

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Getting my own life, which to me means answering God’s calling, also means I’m venturing into unknown territory and, to tell you the truth, I’m not all that adventuresome. I say this, but something stirs inside of me when I hear the word “adventure,” and when I step into that adventure by making videos, contemplating public speaking, and dabbling in watercolor.

Writing all of this is strange for me because I’m sure I’ll be misunderstood. It sounds like I’m jumping ship on my family or saying they don’t matter or even that they’re not as important as all the things I want to do, but that’s not it. Writing this is more about trying to convince myself and other women that it’s time to reprioritize our motivation (why we get out of bed), our mission, and our minutes, and I think God’s all for it. After all, I would have never thought this up on my own, Maybe family’s not my calling.

I believe by living our lives, we help our families to better live theirs.

Next week, I’ll write more about our callings. For now, I’m getting comfortable with what my calling is not. I’d love to hear from you about family and your calling or anything you’d like to share.

In This Together,
Kim

Change Only Me

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“If we had God’s power, we would change everything. If we had God’s wisdom, we’d change nothing.” Scott Richardson

If you’re a parent, especially a mother, you likely know the feeling when family gathers all together after not seeing each other for a while. Sometimes our hearts are full because of conversation and laughter, meals at favorite restaurants, and activities that keep everyone entertained and happy. These visits end with either my husband John or I saying, “I’m grateful and so proud of each one of them.”

Other times, togetherness worries a mom. When we’re up close, we notice if things don’t seem quite right like tense moments and edgy remarks, frustration, and comments about problems at work and home. I’m no less grateful and proud, I’m just no longer focused on those things. I’m fixated on what needs fixing and changing. It’s a mom thing even if not a God thing.

When our family recently gathered, John and I looked for things to do since we’re better when we’re busy, but hotel checkout and flight times, a get-together with friends, mealtimes, and naps conflicted with almost every idea. The grandkids were waterlogged and worn out after a week’s vacation in pools and beachside before arriving at our house. All six adults sat on looming deadlines whether it was my writing, our daughter getting her daughter ready to start school, or her husband beginning a business startup.

Nothing seemed particularly wrong, but neither did our time together feel right. I tried to justify it with all these reasons.

I preoccupied myself the evening they left with vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and washing sheets, so I held off the emotional hangover until the next morning when I skipped my shower, the gym, and writing. That afternoon, I skipped lunch because John and I argued instead of eating, and not because of anything that happened between the two of us during the weekend.

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“Get your own life” (the topic I blog about most often) came to mind two or three times, but it was easier to give into louder voices in my head that said things like, “What if something’s wrong and you don’t help fix or change it?” “What if you discuss your concerns and make things worse?” “What if you don’t converse and drift apart?”

This kind of thinking convinced me I needed to write and talk to others, so I started blogging again in January. I figured I wasn’t the only wife, mom, daughter, sister, and friend who needed to be talked off the ledge for caretaking, enabling, and people pleasing and surely I wasn’t a loner when it came to being overly responsible for others. All this doing for others feeds our attitude of “fix and change everything” when the real difference (the real fix and change) happens when we get our own lives.

This doesn’t mean we have no obligations to our families because we do. I doubt it means we’ll ever completely stop worrying about them either. It does, however, explain why the quote at the beginning of this blog post is significant. Life changing, really.

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Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because God wouldn’t change anything freed me to stop replaying the weekend. I could get back to my own life and my routine.

Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because God wouldn’t change it either staved off feelings of having to do something. It reminded me to accept what is and to acknowledge things happen as they should.

Hearing I didn’t have to change anything because I didn’t know what to change anyway freed me to have family conversations last week – conversations with real people instead of conversations in my head. By the end of each one, I figured out I had nothing to change except myself. Imagine that.

“Whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.” Max Ehrmann (writer of Desiderata)

I used to sign off my blog posts “write where I’m supposed to be,” so we may as well make where we’re supposed to be gratifying by getting our own lives. What do you think?

#GettingYourOwnLife #ChangeOnlyMe

In This Together,
Kim

Photo credit to Pixabay.com.
Thanks for passing along the quote, Iain Boyd.

Choose Well (a distracted Martha in a world that admires merry Mary)

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“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

I’ve heard about Martha and Mary so often, I almost zoned out during Sunday’s sermon because the message is always the same, “Be merry like Mary.”

The biblical story (Luke 10:38-42 NIV) is about Martha preparing the house and food, and worrying about many things. While she worked, her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened.

Instead of learning from Mary, I’ve sat in plenty of pews and resented her. What “Martha” wouldn’t? Mary didn’t mind sitting around while her sister worked. And Jesus didn’t suggest Mary help Martha so both women could sit at his feet. Instead, Martha ended up fatigued and frustrated while Jesus commended Mary for choosing well.

It wasn’t until last Sunday that I heard the sisters’ story changed up and Martha talked about with compassion. I had never heard anyone give her a break much less show her grace. I had never thought to do either one myself. I spent my time wishing I wasn’t like her.

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I teared up when I heard our minister talk gently about the Martha in scripture, as well as all the Marthas in the sanctuary.

For the first time, instead of focusing on and resenting Mary, I fell in love with Martha. I understood how hard it was for her to stop working, to stop doing, to stop trying. I heard how she loved Jesus like Mary loved him even though Martha couldn’t sit still and enjoy moments with him. I felt sad hearing how Martha missed the moment, the magic, and the message (from a quote by Rev. Chuck Murphy).

What I’d thought was Jesus’ criticism of Martha turned out to be his encouragement when he told her, “Do these things.”

He wanted Martha to follow Mary’s example, and not because Martha disappointed him and Mary was favored, but because he loved Martha. He wanted her, like Mary, to choose well.

 I thought, Maybe it’s time to forgive Mary, and time to make friends with Martha and myself.

I wish I could put into words what that moment was like, the moment I felt grace for who I am. I’ve wanted to think differently about Martha in the midst of a world that admires Mary, but still wants the job done. I’ve wanted to accept Martha’s dilemma in a world that secretly believes good works get us to heaven no matter how often the church says it’s by grace, and this may be the same church where we feel guilty for not doing enough. I wanted to help Martha in a world where we’re reminded we have a purpose, but we forget the reason is to glorify God, not “worthify” ourselves

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I gently remind myself a dozen times a day when I’m working feverishly, worrying, or distracted, “There you go again being Martha.”

This simple prompt helps me slow down and choose well. It helps me with #GettingYourOwnLife. It helps me “look up” like in this quote shared on Facebook by friend Lucille Zimmerman. Thanks, Lucille.

“The moon was reigning over their world, glowing its full splendor to all those willing to look up.” Irina Serban

 I hope something in this post helps you, as well.

In This Together,
A recovering Martha

Thanks for the golden photo that looks like heaven, Joel Carter. Thanks for the other photos, Pixabay.com.

 

Nice Talking with You (positivity and truth … is it either-or?)

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“Say what you mean, but don’t say it mean.” Anonymous

I’ve written a lot lately about speaking up. Next thing I know, I’m also speaking up on my vlog, but this time it’s about being quiet unless we frame what we say in a positive light, in a way that tells what we stand for instead of what we stand against.

I questioned if I’d contradicted myself even before a friend commented, so I’m clarifying just in case. Positivity is good, but sometimes we have to …

  • Say the hard thing no one wants to hear.
  • Say the true thing we’d rather ignore.
  • State the reality we prefer to deny.

I also questioned if framing our messages positively and telling the truth, the kind people call “brutal honesty” because they don’t like it, are mutually exclusive. I must have thought so since most of my life I’ve told people what they’ve wanted to hear. I ended any message with a nervous little laugh to be sure no one took me seriously. I valued being positive (and liked) over being honest. No wonder family and friends interrupted my conversation, stopped me if they didn’t like what I had to say, and ignored my requests to not talk about topics like religion and politics. No wonder “no” didn’t mean no. No wonder I slammed doors instead of finishing a sentence. I had no voice.

Goodness, I’ve written about this until I’m sick of hearing myself talk about it, but I can’t stop until I get this out and until I get it straightened out. I don’t have a shot at doing what I’m telling y’all to do, #GettingYourOwnLife, until I get my own voice.

#WhileLovingthePeopleinIt isn’t happening either unless I’m willing to tell the truth. If I don’t love you enough to be honest, I don’t love you enough. Sometimes I can tell you what I need to say and frame it positively. I may figure out a way to keep it upbeat while keeping it real, or I may not. “You have a bad attitude” is hard to frame in a positive way.

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I responded to my friend about my vlog when she commented something like, “There is a time to be positive, but there’s also a time to speak the truth.”

“You’re absolutely right,” I said. “I don’t want to be held to this video and expected to always be Polyanna.”

I’ve aspired for people to say, “I’ve never heard her say a negative word.” I don’t want to be her anymore. I want to speak up positively when I can. When I can’t, I’ll speak up kindly, but I’ll still speak up.

practice-615657_960_720Here are ways I’m practicing:

  • Say what I have to say and get out, especially if I’m confronting someone who explodes, defends, or acts senseless. I walk away so they have time to reflect and so I’ll stop talking. People typically argue not to deal with an issue, but to distract from it. I’m following Facebook’s meme with a fierce guy being chased by his opposition. It reads, “Give your opinion and run.”
  • Rock the boat. I speak up about what’s bothering me even when we’re getting along, especially when we’re getting along, because it’s easier to talk then and because a single issue is easier to deal with than a long list of all that’s gone wrong this week, this year, this decade. If I wait until troubles build up, the culmination feels overwhelming to me, and it sounds crushing to whoever is hearing it. My son said, “It would be easier to hear this stuff in increments. You know, along and along.”
  • Consider what’s important and helpful, and what’s not, when it comes to speaking up. Sometimes I fight just because I’m frustrated, maybe my husband’s finished with his paperwork while I’ve procrastinated over mine or he’s in bed early and I’m not. Other times I’m frustrated because I’m too afraid to speak up. That’s when I need to.

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Here is what “speak the truth” is NOT:

  • An offensive comment to control, to insult, or to make a point we know doesn’t need to be made. Usually the point we’re making is,  “You’re wrong and I’m right.”
  • Disrespect like talking about something we’ve been asked not to talk about and for good reason, but we say it anyway.
  • A way of defying human courtesy instead of asking ourselves, “Is it kind? Is it true? Is it useful?” (By the way, these questions apply even when we’re talking about big personalities like Hollywood stars and political candidates. Their bigness doesn’t justify our belittlement.)

Does anyone else have anything to say about speaking up? I’d love to hear your take on it.

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the pix, Pixabay.com.

Speaking up Trumps Shutting down

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“The most courageous act is still to think for yourself. Aloud.” Coco Chanel

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I’m voting for Donald Trump. There, I said it.

And, believe it or not, this is not a political blog post. It’s a personal one, as well as the only one I could make sense of this week. The other post I tried to write during the wee hours after the Republican National Convention read like a crazy person wrote it, which is what happens when I shut up and shut down.

Yes, I am blogging about speaking up … again.

I stayed quiet early on about my vote because I was unsure even though I liked much of what Trump stood for. However, I thought, No way because he seemed an unlikely candidate and No way because others didn’t agree. Nonetheless, he’s the candidate out of 17 who came to mind every time I prayed for our country and about my choice. To clarify, I’m not saying Trump is God’s choice. I’m just telling you what happened when I prayed. As Trump’s popularity mounted, so did my confidence in my pick for President, but not to the point of sharing it with anyone.

I was vague about my vote when I posted an article on Facebook the night Trump swept my home state of South Carolina during the primary. The opinion piece I shared gave an accurate account of why voters like me showed up at the polls and cast the same vote I did. I agreed with its writer, I voted in part out of fear, but mostly I voted my conscience.

Click here to read the article by Andrew Shain @ thestate.com, “How Donald Trump won the SC GOP Primary.”

Aside from this story, I’ve remained silent and figured I’d lay low throughout the election. I mean, why speak up? Unless, of course, you’re a writer who is blocked because you’re not writing what you’re supposed to be writing …

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This whole speaking up thing resurfaced last Thursday evening while I watched the convention. I teared up when I heard how proud Ivanka was of her father. I planned to turn off Trump and finish my weekly blog post since time was running out, but I couldn’t break away. I was so stirred by his speech, I spent the evening supporting him on friends’ pages and commenting about highlights from his speech.

When it crossed my mind to share the same sentiments on my own page, I scared myself with images of what I’d seen for months on Facebook – unfriending, mocking, arrogance, and hateful criticism. I thought, I’m not writing about Trump anywhere online. It’ll have to be enough to cast my vote for him in November.

“If I feel strongly about something, I have a responsibility to speak up about it once.” Anonymous

Speaking aloud, like Coco said in her quote, helped me figure out a few things this week, and I figured them out fast.

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I figured out fast, voting is not enough. Not for me, anyway. Since I didn’t honor what I wanted to write on my Facebook page, I couldn’t put together a cohesive paragraph for last week’s half-finished blog post, the one about Focus. Yeah, I couldn’t focus on Focus. For days I couldn’t write. It seemed the only explanation was my brain shut down until I paid homage to my heart.

“What is the source of our first suffering? It lies in the fact that we hesitated to speak. It was born in the moment when we accumulated silent things within us.” Gaton Bachelard

#SpeakUpinsteadofShutUpandShutDown

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I figured out fast, glossing over what a person doesn’t want me to say does not guarantee he/she will be a friend or even kind. It only guarantees I’ll have to do more glossing to maintain the relationship.

“We’ve all become so conscious of how we’ll be perceived and so frightened to possibly offend someone that we’ve filtered ourselves to what borders on dishonesty.” Aaron Blaylock

#SpeakUpinsteadofGlossOver

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I figured out fast, more is at stake than my writing. When I don’t speak up, I sacrifice my sanity and give up my dignity.

“Honesty is more than not lying. It is truth telling, truth speaking, truth living, and truth loving.” James E. Faust

#SpeakUpinsteadofGiveUp

Now, maybe I can finish my blog post about Focus and move on to the next one.

#SpeakUp #withrespect #WhileLovingthePeopleInIt

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the photos, Pixabay.com.

 

Living Out Loud

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“If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud.” Emile Zola

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“Mammy, stop talking, okay? Look at Lalaloopsy,” said Claire, my nearly three-year-old granddaughter. She held up one hand to interrupt me, while the other was on her hip right before she reached for her baby doll.

This was in response to me saying, “Well, Claire, I think it’s time for …”

She’d already had a bath, snack, and story time, so all that remained was bedtime. I guess she hoped to change up the conversation and get out of it.

I thought, I bet your granddaddy wishes he could pull off your cuteness when he changes the topic while I’m telling him he still isn’t listening well.

I thought about my grown son and daughter who’d probably appreciate a grin like I gave Claire instead of a glare when they try to shut me up with “Mom, …” said in two syllables and in a tone that, if you’re a mother, you know grinds off this page.

My friend probably wished I’d laughed along when, like Claire, she used hand signals to wave away my mention of depression as she rambled about how grateful she and I should be for never experiencing anything like it. She said, “Not you. You’re happy and funny.”

She’d sat in spiritual groups where I’d shared about bouts with depression, as well as sitting across the table like this evening and talking one-on-one. All I wanted was a to-go box and my check before I said something critical like, “Why do we bother to get together? Is it so you can change the subject? I mean, what’s the point?”

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“The work of the artist is to express what is repressed or even to speak the unspoken grief of society.” Michael Leunig

My husband listened that evening after I crammed the box into the refrigerator and talked about my sad lot in life. I said, “How could she not know I’ve been depressed? Or maybe she didn’t want to hear it?”

With him as my witness, I accused her of being thoughtless toward others. I talked about how she asked questions, but only if those questions bring the conversation back around to her. I mentioned how she had something to prove with every point she made and how she always, always, always had an agenda, usually political over personal. I blamed her a dozen times for a ruined evening before I talked about myself and how I felt.

I hurt when I’m not heard. Therefore, instead of running off with my to-go box, I need to speak up.

A friend cautioned me about this … about friends and my conversations when I’d whine no one listened to me, tell how everyone interrupted, and settled on shutting up as the solution. She bolstered me time and again, but kept asking the same question I was tempted to ask my other friend at dinner, “What’s the point?”

My point was to make them listen to me.

My friend’s point was for me to say what I have to say. To speak up. To live out loud. 

Even though she’s been gone for years, I can almost sense my friend’s relief now that I’m finally listening to her.

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Here’s the stuff that’s made it hard to say what I have to say:

  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I dislike confrontation.
  • I’m living out loud on my blog and in person even though I’m uncomfortable with being perceived as confrontational.
  • I’m living out loud even when people don’t like what I have to say.
  • I’m living out loud instead of screaming when I’m not heard the first time or the second or the third. With each repetition, what I want gets clearer even to me.
  • I’m living out loud even though I shake, which happens when I’m afraid I won’t be heard yet again. I say what I have to say until I am heard. It helps I’m a former kindergarten teacher.

Here’s the stuff that’s made it worth it:

I’m “living out loud” because of the tremendous gift of being heard on my blog and videos.

I’m “living out loud” because of how significant speaking up and being heard has been toward restoration and happiness and toward getting my own life. A friend remarked, “Have you noticed how much happier you seem?”

Why, yes, I have.

I’m “living out loud” because of my daughter and my granddaughter and my daughter-in-law; because of my quiet friends who have bold statements to make, but they’re not sure they can; because of friends I care deeply about who aren’t speaking up to their husbands and grown children and parents even though they need to; because I wish someone had spoken up for me when, even though I looked capable, I didn’t feel it.

I’m “living out loud” so Claire remembers she told me to stop talking, but I didn’t. And so she won’t either.

What did you come into this life to do?

In This Together,
Kim

What If I Fly?

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“What if I fail? Oh, but my darling, what if you fly?” Erin Hanson

Since my ballet and clogging days, I’d wanted to dance upfront one more time. Teaching Zumba seemed a low stress way until my classes filled up. It’s not like I packed in hundreds of people, but the more students who came, the more pressure I felt to keep them coming.

When the gym closed, I turned down jobs to teach at the local recreation center, a karate studio, and a private gym. I was happy to run from my Zumba teaching days.

The same thing’s happening all over again even though I’m no Chewbacca Mom. Blog readers and viewers keep showing up, so I have to also. And to keep you reading and viewing, I have to keep coming up with content. You know, I have to write reader-worthy stuff and say viewer-worthy things.

I question being up for the challenge.

“Don’t let your fear of what could happen make nothing happen.” Unknown

I can’t believe for a second I envied Derek Harvey, fellow blogger whose blog post went viral. His post titled “The Silent Killer of Relationships” reached more than a million views and almost overnight. I choke a little thinking about the hundreds of comments he was left to answer. I congratulated him and told him it was a blogger’s dream while heading back to the safety of my dozens of readers and a handful of comments. His might be a blogger’s dream, but mine is an introvert’s dream – a few close friends commenting, and then going to bed.

On the heels of his viral blog post, Candace Payne’s original Facebook video about the Chewbacca mask was viewed 158 million times and shared 3,349,721. She’s clearly enjoying the publicity, giveaways, and travel. If you don’t know about her, click Chewbacca Mom.

I thought, Why couldn’t that be me?

Next thought, I’d have a nervous breakdown.

Her stardom brought me to my knees, not to beg for it, but to barter against it.

Dear God, please spare me that kind of exposure unless I’m feeling skinny, keeping self-doubt at bay, and John says my hair’s looking stylish. If people watch my videos, let every single one of them Love me and Love everything I say. No negative comments, please. Not one. And hold my hand so my feet can’t run away from the 40 friends who do continue to show up and say kind things. Amen.

I felt stuck thinking, I’ve begun it, so I have to keep up this blogging and video thing.

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An argument ensued in my head because, actually, I don’t have to keep blogging and vlogging. I can run like Forrest because, like one voice said, “It’s better to leave them before they leave you.”

Another said, “Pray all you want, the more readers and viewers, the more criticism.”

The loudest voice mocked, “What are you worried about anyway? Like you said, you’re no Chewbacca Mom.”

I thought, I already acknowledged I’m not Candace Payne, but my videos aren’t flops.

“Not yet, but isn’t that what you’re afraid of? It’s just a matter of time before your ideas and your viewers dry up.”

I’d heard enough.

I’m up late (again) and confessing, not so you’ll comment, “Keep blogging and vlogging,” but so I’ll come to that conclusion myself. #GettingYourOwnLife

It’s like when my husband John consoled my fear of heights when he told me I didn’t have to hike. He suggested I spend the night at the hotel while he and our kids trekked the Grand Canyon. I could tell he didn’t understand why I had to do it. I wasn’t even sure. I just knew I did.

“Running away from any problem only increases the distance from the solution.” Unknown

Running from Zumba wasn’t the same, but the thought of running from blogging and vlogging put me back at the canyon’s edge. I can’t explain it, but I can’t run. I have to do it.

I think it has to do with being impassioned, and the quandary of passion is it’s so important I can’t run and so important, running’s all I want to do so I won’t fail.

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What’s so important that it keeps you from running away, but makes you want to?

“May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears.” Nelson Mandela

In This Together,
Kim

Click here to read Running Scared, an older blog post on this same topic.

Thanks to Joel Carter for the magnificent ferris wheel photo, and to Pixabay.com for the others.

 

When I’m Not Bouncing, I’m Yo-Yoing (a post about emotions)

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“When you’re happy, you enjoy the music. But when you’re sad, you understand the lyrics.” Frank Ocean

My husband John and I rode for what seemed like a long time, even though probably only 15 minutes, in the opposite direction of Claire’s mom while Claire (our almost three-year-old granddaughter) cried, kicked the back of the driver’s seat, and begged us, “Go in that direction.”

She pointed back toward the park where we’d picked her up. She’d been with friends and missed her afternoon nap, on top of waiting to eat dinner with us. Between the two, being tired and hungry, she melted down when her mom drove away from our meeting spot halfway between our houses. We’d met to pick up Claire and keep her for a couple of days.

We finally pulled over. I hugged her and walked her around. By now, she gasped for breath and kept asking to go in that direction, while pointing the right way even though we’d made two turns. Nothing calmed her. Not talking to her mom on the phone. Not her favorite snack.

And especially not John telling her, “Stop it.”

She wore herself out, but not before she’d also worn out John. He’d become as frazzled as her.

At the house, Claire’s mood turned around after three bites of pizza. She talked about playing in the park and asked where we bought the fish that was new on our wall.

“I’m so happy you feel better,” I said.

She placed her hand on her chest, tilted her head, and said, “Oh, Mammy, I sorry, but I was so sad. I just missed my mommy so much.”

John and I laughed through our tears at her sweet voice and sincere apology. Both times she said “so,” she accentuated the word. I looked at John to see him calming down also.

“You can’t have the highs without the lows,” I said. 

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It wasn’t like he didn’t know that from experience. I’m a yo-yo, but he’s never appreciated it and neither have I. If I had tried to talk him into it, we both would have questioned, “What’s there to appreciate?”

Before we ever had kids, I was diagnosed with something, probably manic-depressive disorder. I was eligible for free counseling sessions through our health insurance if my therapist assigned a label. This was years prior to half our population being branded with diagnoses, so the therapist squirmed telling me I had to have one. He didn’t volunteer what it was and I never asked.

I’m not convinced my emotional overload needs to be labeled a disorder, but I do want to find order in it.

I, as well as everyone around me, tried to eliminate my emotions, bury my emotions, or ignore my emotions to the point that for years I’ve had trouble breathing, as well as living. I’d prefer John and I team up like we often talk about and accept, appreciate, and work together to understand my emotions, and his too.

My dad, who had the same overload, asked me anytime I’d run to my room, close the door, and cry uncontrollably, “Who do you think you are acting like that?”

Instead of asking about “acting like that,” I wish he’d asked about my feelings since they drove everyone a little crazy, including me.

After he asked, I wish Dad had cared about my answers. My responses may have helped us both.

I’m a little girl who’s scared you and Mom are going to divorce.

I’m a little girl who’s afraid you’re not okay, which means I’m not okay because we’re a lot alike.

I’m a little girl who loves you no matter what. I wish that’d make a difference in how angry you get and how scared you look.

If we are to get our own lives, we have to come to terms with all of who we are.
If we are to love the people in it, we have to do the same for them. 

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My high mood is when I shop for an hour at Target to find the swirly dress and collared shirts, the princess wand, and a Little Tike’s basketball goal.

It’s when my husband and I talk for hours about the house we’ve looked at to buy in “Mitchfield” (Litchfield Beach), as Claire calls it.

It’s when I can’t get enough of Claire and her little brother, and laugh loud on FaceTime because they’ve gotten down from eating dinner to dance to Fight Song … again.

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The flipside, not synonymous with the bad side, is my low mood when I’m focused on what’s wrong with you and me. I cry over spilt milk, literally. I curl up in bed and stay there all day because a child is missing in Disney.

I’m not sure these are because of a diagnosis or if we’re all plagued at times with life. What I am sure of is it’s helping to accept the lows right along with my highs.

Everyone welcomes laughter, but Claire’s teaching me to embrace it all – her high-spirited personality, as well as her fits of emotion and her soggy face. And mine, and yours. I mean, I would never dismiss her feelings or label them, so why do it to myself?

What’s up with this blog post about emotions and what’s it got to do with getting our own lives? #GettingYourOwnLife

It’s inconvenient, frustrating, and sometimes scary to feel bad, but it’s as necessary as feeling good so we know what’s going on with ourselves and each other,  and so we have direction (what to do and what not to do). One purpose of emotions (both the positive and the ones we consider to be negative) is guidance.

We label and try to eradicate or medicate our God-given emotions given to us to guide our next step towards #GettingYourOwnLife and our God-given emotions given to us so we’ll relate and have compassion #WhileLovingthePeopleinIt.

But, like I told John about Claire, we can’t have the highs without the lows. 

While researching “the purpose of our emotions,” I found an article on PsychologyToday.com (see link below) where the author talks about having too much emotion and not enough outlets like when we lived in the wilderness and fled from tigers. She said, “Perhaps emotions get out of whack today because they bubble without an effective outlet.”

Let’s choose #GettingYourOwnLife #WhileLovingthePeopleinIt to be our effective outlet. What do you think? I think it’ll keep me on my own yo-yo string and maybe even appreciating it.

In This Together,
Kim

Click here to read “Why Do We Have Emotions?” by Ilana Simons Ph.D. @ PsychologyToday.com.