Category Archives: choices & making decisions

It’s Always Something

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“There are no guarantees. There are no promises, but there is you, and strength inside to fight for recovery. And always there is hope.” Gilda Radner

Before I ever finished the first chapter, I threw away Gilda Radner’s book about living and dying with ovarian cancer, It’s Always Something. She sounded cynical and I didn’t like it. In hindsight, maybe I didn’t like it because it’s true …

It’s always something.

My son texted, “I believe 2017’s going to be a great year.” I texted back, “I think so too,” but troubling was a message I’d read about our bishop being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, and we’d just joined the church the week prior to the news. My husband and I talked about how, for the first time, we felt like we were going “home” – to a community where we’ve always wanted to live, to a house well-matched for us, and to a church with a spiritual foundation we didn’t even know we needed. “Shaken by the news” was an understatement, but I knew I didn’t want dread to wreck 2017’s possibilities, and that’s when it came to mind …

It’s always something.

I remembered Gilda’s book. Since I threw it away some 20 years ago, but still recalled it, I realized, like it or not, the first chapter made an impression. I found the chapter online and read it again. I still didn’t like it, but I understood more and accepted more because …

It is always something.

As far back as I remember, I’ve wished for all to be right in the world. Just once. Maybe for 24 hours. Maybe just 24 minutes. Like the part of the Lord’s Prayer that says, “ … on Earth as it is in Heaven,” so I pictured Jesus saying we’d have perfect times here meaning total perfection down to no dog hair on the floor, which is why I chunked Gilda’s book. She messed up the fairytale. Of course, a lot of things mess up fairytales because …

It’s always something.

I worked hard at having a clean house and laundry; a mowed, raked and edged lawn; washed and detailed vehicles; and a spiritually, physically, and emotionally balanced family (my husband, grown children, and their families) – all on the same day. But perfection’s elusive because …

 It’s always something.

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Addiction muddles love stories. A wayward child worries a mom’s heart. Financial difficulties unsettle financial security. Illness ruins retirement plans. The perfect partner doesn’t complete us after all. #whilelovingthepeopleinit

Disruptions happen like not being paid for a job, not landing a job, waiting for medical tests, waiting for a return call, and waiting to feel better, be skinnier, and get stronger. There’s a broken washing machine and dreams that break instead of flourish. There’s stress from car accidents, a car engine that won’t start, inclement weather, and, like our friends had happen, a tree falling on their house that caused tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage leading to a bout with the insurance company.

It could be a distraction as simple as spilled milk, and in spite of being told, “Don’t cry over it,” …

It’s always something.

Another story I’ve never been crazy about goes something like this: if we put our problems in a pile and have to swap them out for other problems, we’d end up taking back our own. I balked for a long time, but now I’m buying into it. I can’t think of a person on this planet with whom I’d swap lives. Not one, and it’s because I don’t want their problems.

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Our stories are about choice, like Gilda’s story too. She wrote about the bad and the beautiful. Our stories are the same. We live in vicious cycles alongside victories. I’ve been noticing my downward cycles are easier to pay attention to than perfect moments, I’m guessing because I’m human more than holy. I have to be intentional about taking my eyes off difficulties and getting my feet off slippery slopes like the past and future, and onto the present holy ground.

#selfcaringin2017 #gettingyourownlife #gettingyourownlifenow

I’m still not sure I’ll read Gilda’s book even though I’ve accepted “it’s always something,” and I treasure her saying, “And always there is hope.” My son’s right, 2017 will be great even with its messy moments because …

It is always something, and sometimes it’s something beautiful.

What I love best about bringing this to light is we get to muddle together and hope together and we get to go through our “somethings” together. I appreciate sharing our passages, whether excursions or episodes, with each other. And while we’re together, please pray for Bishop Chuck Murphy because some of our “somethings” are scarier than others.

In This Together,
Kim

Pixabay.com shows off again with interesting images and at no cost. Thank  you, Pixabay.

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What’s Wrong with Me?

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“Don’t let yourself bring you down.” Unknown

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”

I say this too often. I repeat it again and again when, truth be told, I do know what’s wrong with me. And I know how to fix it, but I don’t do it. And that’s what’s wrong – I let myself down.

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Instead of admitting I’m avoiding the top priority on my to-do list, I’ll blame my husband, my kids, the dog, and even someone on Facebook where I’m spending too much time. I’ll blame my mental state, my age, my weight, and my mother. If you show up at my house unexpected, I’ll blame you.

By now, I should recognize the warning signs in the form of destructive habits, but usually I don’t until I get to the final stage of “I let myself down.”

My bad habits include having trouble settling down for bed, a restless night’s sleep, and hitting the snooze button a dozen times the next morning. Napping for two hours instead of 30 minutes. Feeling frustrated and acting on it. Eating chocolate late at night and pacing around during the day without accomplishing much. Scrolling Facebook for hours. Yeah, it’s a long list. Skipping the gym and most anything else that’s good for me, so I can focus on how to fix what’s wrong. Makes sense, huh? It’s not until I’m feeling anxious, insecure, and near tears (the final stage of “I let myself down”) that I’ll admit I’m letting myself down.

My choices narrow to either confessing and fixing it by doing what I’m supposed to be doing or melting down over and over.

I get more afraid by the minute when I’m in the middle of the cycle. It happened last week when I didn’t write a post for my blog. Instead of writing, which is my important thing, I did everything else on my list and then some, all the while dragging my anxiety about not writing through the weekend and into the beginning of this week.

If I’d keep track of my fearful episodes, I’d likely notice they flare up during my “I let myself down” times more so than during the times when I’m getting my own life, even if the latter is scary stuff like writing on a personal topic that makes me uncomfortable or making a video to post online.

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A simple example that’s helping me change how I align my days is to follow how I reach my daily Fitbit goal, which is 10,000 steps. When I’m up by 8 and accomplish my steps by noon, it’s easy to get 15,000 or even 20,000 steps by bedtime, and I sleep better. However, on the days I only accumulate 5,000 steps by mid-afternoon, getting that same amount again before the day’s end feels nearly impossible. I give up after dinner and fall asleep on the couch.

I’m guessing there’s a universal law out there that makes this all make sense. The same law that helps create a productive and “feel good” day also has the potential to make my next 24 hours miserable when I don’t do what I’m supposed to do. Unless I figure out a way to sidestep it, I’m left with the same solution I wrote in a blog post six years ago.

Brian Tracy, in his book Eat That Frog!, offers 21 ways to stop procrastinating and accomplish more in less time. He suggests planning each day in advance. He says stop doing so much and do what’s important. And get this, Tracy recommends following the 80/20 Rule, similar to my Fitbit phenomenon. He says there are typically two items on a list of 10 that will account for 80 percent of the day’s results. Tackle those two things first and the rest of our list will either be accomplished easily and quickly or show up for what it really is, insignificant.

I sometimes pretend I don’t know what my important thing is, or that if I accomplish the other eight or nine things on my list, I’ll be more settled, prepared, and focused to undertake the important thing. Instead, I’m tired and put it off until tomorrow or next week, like this blog post.

Another game I play is tricking myself into thinking something else is more important than the important thing. In my case, it’s hard to overlook, though, since I only have one important thing on my to-do list. It is writing.

Today, I did my important thing and wrote this post. I can’t adequately describe how relieved I feel as I wind down this day and this story, so I’ll put out a call to action in case someone else wants to experience it for themselves.

If you’re wrangled up in life and struggling with your emotions, and most likely letting yourself down, put all of that to one side and do the one or two important things on your list. Take a chance on it working for you like it did for me this afternoon. I hope you’ll share it with us when it does. #GettingYourOwnLife

In This Together,
Kim

Thanks for the first two images, Pixabay.
Thanks for the motivation, Fitbit.

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.

 

Are You Hungry for #GettingYourOwnLife? (cut out distractions)

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“Starve your distractions. Feed your focus.” Unknown

Distractions are not all bad. In fact, some are good and necessary. Here’s proof.

Definition of distraction: a diversion or recreation.
Synonyms: amusement, entertainment, diversion, recreation, leisure pursuit.

A second definition shines a less positive light: a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.
Synonyms: diversion, interruption, disturbance, interference, hindrance.

The third definition reminded me of author C.J. Darlington’s answer to an interview question about her becoming irritable when she didn’t write. The definition: extreme agitation of the mind or emotions.
Synonyms: frenzy, mental distress, insanity, mania, agitation, perturbation.

“When I don’t write, I’m turning my back on that (my calling to write). It’s taken me a long time to realize this, but I think it’s true for any of us when we don’t do what we know God’s called us to do,” she said during our Interview with C.J. Darlington, Part 3.

The last definition best fits what I’m writing about in this blog post.

I wished for C.J.’s kind of irritability, the kind that feeds our focus. Instead, I got irritable when John ran late in the afternoons. Time he pulled into our driveway, I let go of the guilt I felt about another day of not writing and I put on my wife hat. For at least a year, I postponed writing in anticipation of our dinners together.

I sound hungry for anything but my own life, don’t I?

Pretty ridiculous, huh? I’m as baffled as you must be and I’m as embarrassed as you probably think I should be about how I drummed up that much distraction around 30 minutes of eating.

From Gerald May’s book Addiction and Grace, I vaguely remember his explanations about addiction that could also apply to distractions. He talked about forming attachments, as well as addiction according to mind, body, and spirit and all sorts of addictions we conjure up. The same makes sense when we replace the word “addictions” with “distractions.”

The thing I clearly remember from reading May’s book is his explanation about overcoming addiction.

Stop it. Quit. Don’t do it anymore.

The same is true for distractions. I’ll write a lot more about them because I have a lot of them (see the list below) and because I distract myself often, but know that at the end of this blog post and the next one and the next one, there’s only one way to #GettingYourOwnLife. It’s to get your own life.

Begin it. Start. Do it every day.

Profound, I know. But beginning, starting, and doing it every day are not as easy as they sound in the midst of distractions.

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In the next few days, I’ll post a video about a time I practiced #GettingYourOwnLife. I hope you’ll tune in. This evening, I’m posting just for fun a partial list of ways I distract myself from it.

  • Shopping at Belk
  • Changing nail color
  • Reading old magazines
  • Saving articles to reread
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Shopping for grandkids
  • Playing counselor
  • Playing God
  • Replaying my past
  • Baking and eating
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Organizing photos of grandkids
  • Holding drama marathons
  • Signing up for too many activities
  • Saying “yes” to the multitudes
  • Doing things to kill time
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Bragging about grandkids
  • Pinning on Pinterest
  • Replaying what I should have said
  • Shopping at Steinmart
  • Shaping my eyebrows
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Ordering things for grandkids
  • Organizing clothes by color
  • Organizing shoes by color
  • Organizing underwear by color
  • Organizing my desk
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Organizing grandkids’ toys
  • Organizing coupons
  • Shopping at Target
  • Cleaning blinds (desperate distraction)
  • Obsessing about relationships
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Posting on Facebook about grandkids
  • Wollering because I’m frustrated
  • Napping when I should be writing
  • Talking about writing
  • Complaining about not writing
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Looking for Christmas gifts for grandkids (in June)
  • Walking in place with my Fitbit
  • Researching and re-researching
  • Hitting the snooze button
  • Cleaning under beds
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Posting on Facebook about grandkids (again)
  • Dusting ceiling fans
  • Piddling
  • Checking Fitbit steps
  • Scrolling Facebook
  • Making lists about grandkids
  • Making more lists
  • Rewriting lists
  • Exercising for hours
  • Etc.

There are plenty of worthy activities on this list, but none of them move forward my writing. Also, what I name as my distraction may be the way you get your own life.

The diet plan to starving our distractions is for each of us to decide what #GettingYourOwnLife looks like and focus + act on it so we can feast on the life we want.

What focus are you feeding? What distractions do you need to starve, at least for a little while? #GettingYourOwnLIfe

In This Together,
Kim

 

My Version of JOY (Jesus, Oneself, You)

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“Loving yourself isn’t vanity. It’s sanity.” Katrina Mayer, author of The Mustard Seed Way

I’ve attended church most of my life, so there’s no telling how many times I’ve heard and repeated the acronym for JOY.

J    Jesus
O   Others
Y   Yourself

After lying in bed with depression, though, I had to decide whether to value my life enough to stay in it or stay on the bottom of what I’d been told about JOY and die.

When I considered the latter, I’d close my eyes and see my children’s faces. I wanted to dance at their weddings and hold my future grandchildren. However, choosing to live meant putting myself ahead of them (and everyone else) for the first time ever. I didn’t know if I could do it. Stories below tell a little about fumbling my way to a new version of JOY.

J    Jesus
O  Oneself
Y   You

A friend didn’t agree with my version of JOY when I said “no” after she asked if I’d volunteer on Wednesday evenings at church. My voice shook when I explained that raising kids, working full-time, and teaching Sunday school were all I could handle in a semester. She said, “If everyone felt like you, we wouldn’t have a youth program.” I said, “If everyone felt like me, we shouldn’t have a youth program.”

Wait. Don’t click off just yet. My version isn’t as un-Christian as it sounds.

A friend didn’t like my version of JOY when I wouldn’t continue taking her calls at seven in the morning so she could talk about her husband’s anger. Next, the calls were about her 13-year-old son who didn’t want to be left alone because he was afraid he’d hurt himself. I begged her to get help. My husband begged me to stop listening to her. After a year, I said, “If you don’t get help outside of me, I’m not listening to you talk anymore about your husband or your son.” She said, “If you can’t be the kind of friend I need, there’s no need to be friends.” I cried when I got off the phone, but I stuck with my decision.

Here’s one more story before I share what convinced me that it wasn’t selfish like I thought to bump myself up a rung so I could experience joy.

A friend didn’t agree with my version of JOY when she found out I was estranged from my parents. My friend hadn’t made the connection until my dad’s visitation that my mom was the owner of a local clothing store where she shopped. She confronted me after the funeral, “Your mom has always been good to me. Why don’t you get along with her?” In the middle of answering questions like I was on trial, I realized I didn’t owe her an explanation. I tried to sound poised instead of panicky when I ended our conversation, “A lot happened and I can’t really explain it, so I’m getting off the phone.”

I’m sorry for the times I’ve treated people in these same ways – expecting them to DO what I wanted them to do, BE who I wanted them to be, and ACT like I wanted them to act.

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The transformation to JOY (the one where I wasn’t on the bottom) happened when I met Betty. She reminded me over and over, “Do what’s best for you and it will be best for everyone.”

As self-absorbed as that sounded, everything I knew about her, everything she did for others, and the way she treated me was anything but selfish. She listened to me ramble on about my issues. She suggested I get help and she went with me. She saved my life and my marriage and probably my kids’ lives when they did dumb things. Instead of screaming and threatening them, I called her and we’d laugh for an hour. I believed in her and her loving God until she pushed me to find my own and trust Him.

I couldn’t consistently follow Betty’s advice to “Do what’s best for you” because it was uncomfortable to do and others didn’t always like it (imagine that), but when I followed through, it worked. Instead of feeling depleted and hopeless, I felt uplifted and more willing to do for others than I had in years.

As far as “… and it will be best for everyone” – the analogy of putting the oxygen mask (in a plane) on yourself first before trying to help those around you is the best example of what Betty advocated. We can’t help others when we’re dying.

Is it hard to do what’s best for you? Do you even know what that looks like anymore? Do you need a new version of JOY? Let’s explore together ways to do what is best for us so we can do what’s best for everyone.

In Joy,
Kim

On the side: In the next post, we’ll talk about why self-care is best for everyone. We’ll also talk about untangling it from selfishness.

Thank you for your fun artwork and creative photography, Christy Young. Most of all, thanks for your friendship. That’s one fine looking mango!

Thanks for permission to use your artwork, Kelly Rae Roberts. This one is truly JOY filled. Click on Kelly Rae’s name above to see more.

Ship It!

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"Ship often. Ship lousy stuff. Ship constantly." Seth Godin

“Ship it. The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.” Seth Godin

Seth Godin would be proud.

Me? I’m on the fence about it.

Yesterday I shipped a lengthy blog post, one with errors and sentences that made no sense, so I could honor the commitment I made to post every Monday.

I have lots of excuses for the post being a mess, like the fact that I drive two hours one way on the first Monday (yesterday) of every month to a critique group in the next state over. I know, maybe I should have taken yesterday’s article with me and had fellow writers edit it.

Nonetheless, I shipped – a phrase Seth uses often that means to take action. It was a tough decision, choosing between productivity and perfection. Not that my posts are always flawless, but I was pretty sure yesterday’s wasn’t. I sent it anyway.

It felt good to let it go until I reread it around midnight. By then, it was too late to undo. It had already been delivered to inboxes. I have since rewritten parts of it, which is why I’m posting another post so soon. To let you know, although it’s not shortened, it is fixed.

The other reason is to ask your opinion. Which is more important, shipping or shooting for perfection?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – I couldn’t not give an explanation for yesterday’s post. That’s how I float, I mean, roll. I’m anxious to hear your priority.

Making a Choice When Plans Change (guest post by Beth Vogt)

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Today’s guest post is by friend and author Beth K. Vogt. I’m not sure when our paths crossed online, but I’m delighted they did. Since then, Beth and I have found we have much in common from falling on our faces (specifically our noses) to becoming first-time grandmas to baby girls in July. I’m happy to have Beth here today, sharing her story about changed plans and promoting her latest book, Catch a Falling Star. 

Also, I’m honored to be guest posting about changed plans on Beth Vogt’s blog, so please stop by there too.

Unknown-1Here is Beth’s story – 

I have no one to blame but myself.

What did I expect when I decided to write Catch a Falling Star, a book that wrestles with the question “What do you do when life doesn’t go according to plan?”

Wait. I know what I expected: to wreak havoc on my imaginary characters’ lives – and then resolve all the conflict by the time I typed “The End.” Not that everything would be wrapped up neatly with a virtual bow – I try to write realistic fiction – but there would be growth and acceptance and some sort of happily-ever-afters.

The problem?

All the ways my life didn’t go according to my preferred plans this past year.  Here’s a glimpse of how my life went off-course while I aimed for a deadline:

  • Vertigo knocked me off-kilter again.
  • My computer crashed – never a good thing, but especially inconvenient when I’m editing on deadline.
  • The Waldo Canyon Fire forced my family to evacuate our home just weeks before our daughter’s wedding. (Her wedding dress was the first thing loaded into her car.)
  • Tension erupted with extended family. (Pardon me for being vague. Sometimes vague is best.)

Catch-a-Falling-Star-bookcoverDid I really expect that I was exempt from answering the “What are you going to do?” question I threw at Kendall and Griffin, the main characters in Catch a Falling Star?

No. But if God had whispered in my ear “Hey, Beth – your plans for your life? They line up completely with my plans for your life” I would have breathed a huge sigh of relief and said thank you.

I’ve learned a lot of different lessons as I’ve squared off with vertigo, computer melt-down, a forest fire, and family friction. But there’s one truth that surpasses all the rest: God is at work even when I don’t see anything happening. 

My first reaction when life spins out of my control is to figure out a way – my way – to make things right again. But I’m learning to keep my hands off of circumstances beyond my control. To pray. To act – or wait. And if waiting is what is needed, to believe that God is working to change me and to change anyone else involved.

Life will sometimes go according to my plans – and sometimes it won’t. And I choose to believe that God’s involved with both – rather than assuming I’m on my own when my plans are derailed. Just because I’m surprised by what happened doesn’t mean God is.

How do you handle life when it resists going according to your plans and dreams? What lessons have you learned from a time when your life took a detour?

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Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” Despite being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth’s second inspirational contemporary romance novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013 from Howard Books. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy (MBT), best-selling author Susan May Warren’s writing community.

Whose Legacy Are You Living?

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“Legacy is not what's left tomorrow when you're gone. It's what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you're here that then happens to live on.”Rasheed Ogunlaru (Artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts)

“Legacy is not what’s left tomorrow when you’re gone. It’s what you give, create, impact and contribute today while you’re here that then happens to live on.”
Rasheed Ogunlaru (Artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts)

Earlier in the week, I pulled this message from a fortune cookie: “You will become a great philanthropist in your later years. ”

Since those years are fast approaching, I felt encouraged when my friend Diane invited me to a conference sponsored by Women in Philanthropy and Leadership. Time I read her invitation and saw the word “philanthropy,” I knew I was supposed to attend. After all, I listen to my cookies.

I figured the conference’s significance had something to do with my career and my writing. In a roundabout way, it did.  

Presenters spoke about changing the way we talk and think about ourselves as women, as well as embracing our talents.

Inspirational speaker Donna Tyson told her story of letting go of it all, her journey from a comfortable life with a lake view to selling and giving away everything she owned so she could serve in Haiti.

“I’m sure of one thing,” I said to my friend. “I’m not going to Haiti. At least, I don’t think I am.”

I made sure God knew I was joking. I know how he can be. Never say never.

By afternoon, I hung on every word from Mercedes Ramirez Johnson who survived a plane crash that killed her parents and 158 other passengers. I was touched, but not transformed.

I wondered if I’d overestimated the significance of the conference. I found myself almost hoping Haiti was my answer since I didn’t want to go home without one.

When the final keynote began her story, the likelihood diminished that I was going to Haiti or going home without some direction.

Allison Black Cornelius, Principal Consultant for training leaders at her company Blackfish Strategies, shared about being sexually abused at age seven by her male Sunday school teacher. Some 20 years later, she testified against him after a strange series of events (she said could only be arranged by God) brought them face-to-face in a courtroom. Her abuser was sentenced to prison and Allison’s life was forever changed a second time around. She now works tirelessly to keep kids safe from sexual predators.

At the end of her talk, a woman from the audience asked, “Is there a way to help my mom? She was sexually abused and can’t seem to get passed it?”

In the last five minutes of the conference, I heard what I came to hear.

“Yes,” said Allison, “and so far, it’s worked with every woman. I tell them, ‘We’re all living a legacy.’ Then I ask, ‘Are you living yours or his (the abuser)?’”

How about you? Are you living your legacy or someone else’s from your past?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – God, help me trade in the legacy I thought I deserved at age 12 for the one you knew I deserved all along.

On the side: I never thought to call an abuser’s life a legacy, but then I looked up the word. One of legacy’s synonyms is hangover, and hangover’s synonyms are after-effect and leftover. These expose the negative side of a legacy.

Read Allison Black Cornelius’ bio from her site www.blackfish.org.

Click here for more artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts.

Pain, the fabric softener of life

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“Lord, help us to accept the pains and conflicts that come to us each day as opportunities to grow as people and become more like you.” Mother Teresa, A Gift for God (Artwork by Kelly Rae Roberts)

In her caretaking role over the past few years, a friend visibly softened while dealing with her mom’s demands during declining health.

I hated what I witnessed both women going through. Yet, I treasured how acceptance and allowing others closer became a part of my friend’s life. Too exhausted to judge, she set that aside, which made our time together more gentle.

Unfortunately, after her mom died, my friend reverted back and seemed harsher than before.

Pain’s like that. It has a way with us.

It shows no favoritism and leaves no choice but to change. We all feel it and we all choose our responses. We either become bitter or we soften in its aftershock.

I suspect that is one of pain’s purposes, to give us a chance to get better.

Author Hannah Hurnard in her book, Hinds’ Feet on High Places, illustrates poignantly how sorrow and suffering are analogous to joy and peace. Hurnard’s character Much-Afraid learns from her woes and takes an upward journey to high places – the same journey of our lives, when we’re willing.

How do you react to pain?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – Since pain is a part of life, let’s make the best of it and let it make us the best we can be.

On the side: Post by artist Kelly Rae Roberts about kindness and softening.

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Groundhog Day Over and Over and Over (change something if you want change)

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“Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.” Maori Proverb

Life sometimes feels like the movie Groundhog Day. I hang in there and hope for the best. However, until I change something, the same scene plays again and again.

Albert Einstein called it insanity, doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Like when both our teens started driving within a month of each other. I reminded them several times each day to drive carefully, told stories about reckless driving and losing their licenses, and warned them about speed traps and congested traffic.

After weeks of insanity, I did something different. Each morning when I heard them pull out of our driveway, I’d say what a friend suggested, “What’s going to happen is going to happen anyway.” This reminder gave me peace of mind, as well as permission to feel less responsible for their choices on the road.

When my family of origin went crazy deliberating over whose fault it was, “it” being an issue in the household , I tried to figure it out myself, interpreted, and refereed. That was, until I had a dream where I saw myself calmly walk out of a courtroom, close the tall wooden doors behind me, and leave them to decide.

During waking hours, I did something different. I practiced walking away when discussions escalated, which distanced me from the debates.

And when I recently mulled over a possible negative outcome that’s happened before, I remembered a line from a Robert Frost poem, “Our very life depends on everything’s recurring till we answer from within.”

Putting worry aside, I did something different. I thought about the good that might come from the outcome, and how to take care of myself and others if it happens.

What keeps repeating in your life? Any idea what you can do differently?

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – When we want different results, we have to practice different actions.

Illustrated by Kristi’s dad, David F. Morrow.

On the lighter side: Author and friend Kristi Butler gave permission to share her groundhog photo. She’s written Gracie’s Groundhog Day Surprise and Grover Groundhog Is Not Hibernating This Christmas! Check out Kristi’s website @ Gracie’s Grounds.