Learning to Let Go

You know what those are right?  Those hollow tubes of woven paper, with a hole on each end.  You’re supposed to stick a finger in each end and figure out the trick to getting them out.  I haven’t heard a personal story regarding anyone whose been trapped for any significant amount of time, but I suppose some folks have spent a decent amount of time stuck, probably the wee ones.  Anyway, the key to the release is to relax, and your fingers are no longer stuck.

I like to know what’s going to happen and when it will happen.  I don’t think I’m alone.  Two years ago I enrolled in the most effective educational program known to man.  Personal experience.  I’ve learned so much, about myself and others.  I’ve fine-tuned my voice, nearly perfected my congruency radar, experienced support like never before, but most importantly, I’ve learned the importance of giving up control and mindfully and faithfully riding the wave.  No matter how much you try and muscle your way through some sort of life lesson, get others to push with you, or better yet, get something else to help push, it doesn’t work. In the end, you’re wiped out and exhausted.  Depleted, spent, with no fight left.

I truly believe, with all my heart, that God’s time is perfect.  That being open and receptive to His guidance, energized by the Holy Spirit, is the only way.  The battles will still be there, but I’ll have a voice and won’t expend unnecessary energy.  Save it for what matters.

Incredibly open, and totally receptive to God’s guidance while working hard to be patient and mindful, all the while reveling in the beauty and goodness around me,  Anna


Just plant your darn seeds!!

In one of my slumps, a wise friend shared with me the wisdom in Ecclesiastes 11.  Basically, the take home for me was go and plant your darn seeds for crying out loud!  Too, too often, we, or at least I, don’t go forth for fear of what will be.  But who am I to say this path, or this calling, won’t lead to an amazing bounty of goodness?!  Really?  When we feel called to do something, it’s stinking real!!  Or at least I think it’s real if after months I still feel it, still feel passionate about it, feel at peace…and doors open.  Is the fear of the unknown really that great?  So great it can overpower and restrict everything I do?  My personality is such that, if someone tells me to be quiet about something, or that I cannot do something I believe I can, I WILL vocalize my opinion!  Respectfully of course, but I will do it.  So, one would think that MY fear is really not that big of a deal…that MY personality can fight it and win.  Argh.  I wish it were that easy.

But at the end of the day, it comes down to this: I’m not God, therefore I don’t know which way the wind will blow, where the sun will shine, nor which crops will flourish.  I only know that my job is to plant the seeds.  God will provide.  I need to plant…the…seeds.  God.  WILL.  Provide.  So when faced with my enemies, I will remain peaceful, secure, grounded in my identity.  When faced with obstacles, I will push forth, picking up an extra tool here or there if need be.  When faced with self-doubt, I will remind myself of these thoughts…I can do this…God is good…and He has blessed me with gifts that I have no choice but to utilize.  Yes, that’s allJ


Community

I had the pleasure today to be a “Part of the Beginning.”  Around 100 professionals in our area gathered with community members to make a public stand against child abuse.  The Traverse Bay Children’s Advocacy Center coordinated this beautiful Zero Tolerance day, and it was an honor to be a part of it.  I’m no good at numbers, but I would guess at least a couple hundred people gathered in our State Theater…listened to people speak, watched some amazing young dancers, and walked the streets of downtown in support of maintaining a safe environment for the next generation to grow.

Anyway, around 10 or so of the PEACE Ranch crew gathered together for the celebration.  As I sat there with them, and Payton pointed out that we all had the same shirts on! –I thought that it’s has been a long time since I’ve felt like such an important part of a work community, a long time.  The Executive Director breathes welcome, the volunteers exemplify servitude, and the environment is then incredibly open and safe.  I am honored.  Blessed.  And so happy to be going in a direction that feels so right.

When you’re doing what you are called to do, you’ll know it.  Every square inch of your soul will feel at peace, will be energized, and you will be certain.  No questions.  Thank you God for blessing me with the past 3.5 years of my career so I could be the person I am today, and also for leading me so clearly in my professional journey.  Your time is truly perfect.


Parenting moment

I think I have pretty decent tools.  I know my kids are amazing.  My own parents gave me a wonderful imago of a healthy family…connected marriage, compassionate parenting, the whole nine yards.  I’m educated.  I know who I am.  But every once in awhile, little parenting moments leave me speechless and grasping for the “right tool.”

Both my kids have taught me a great deal about life.  And I fully expect this to continue for the rest of our lives, I am so grateful for that.  One of the lessons my youngest is working to teach me is to slow down and embrace the moment.  She is incredibly creative, has a wonderful imagination, highly dramatic, expressionate, and wildly sure of herself.  She’s not afraid to look at someone and say “no thank you” to the hug or kiss, or high five they extend to her.  And I LOVE that about her!  She knows who she is 🙂

This morning we reminded the kids it is pick-up day.  Every weekend, everyone pitches in and helps bring the house back in order after a busy week.  They know to expect it, and generally do a pretty good job.  This morning Payton was kind of getting after Logan…just poking, trying to get a rise out of him, then pouting on the floor when I told her to stop.  I calmly told her that she could act that way, but it would be in her room, alone, and not around the rest of the family.  I brought her there.  She came out.  I brought her back.  She stayed…came out.  Then, as she sees Logan getting more attention, pipes in with, “I want to be held!”  And then, the awful words no one wants to hear…”I ha….t………..e  you mom.”  She mumbled it at first, knowing the power those words can have.  Seeing no reaction, she said it more confidently, “I ha..t.e you mom.”  Again, I calmly brought her to her room, told her she can act that way alone, not around the rest of the family.  I know she doesn’t mean it, just wants to get a reaction.  And THAT, I refuse to give her.  So it appeared this would go round and round for longer than I thought was appropriate, so I thought…[consequence…natural consequence mom…come on…].  I had it!  “Payton, I reminded you that this morning we are to be picking up.  You have chosen to not do that, and rather pick on your brother, and say inappropriate things.  If you come out of your room and continue to act that way, I will pick up all of your things downstairs that do not belong there, and they will be mine for the weekend.”  [pause…Payton’s wheels turning…]  Her response, “do it!  Pack them up!”  I could kind of read her thinking, “then I won’t have to pick them up.”  All right kid.  Down I went….and she followed.  She HELPED me pack up her things for me to jail!  All right, I’m thinking that plan backfired.  Why consequence her with something that she thinks is great, that was not the intent!!!  But I proceeded anyway, and downstairs in the depths of the basement, they went.  [deep breath]  About 3 minutes later, between tears and outright despair….”mooooooom, SLINKY was in there!!!!  He was such a good dog, and the ONLY one I wanted to play with today!!”  I said, “Paytie, I gave you a chance to change your behavior, and you in fact helped me pack up your things.”  “But I didn’t know you were going to put SLINKY away!!!!!”  Sorry kid.  I hope the lesson was learned.  You can have them back on Sunday.

Uffda.


Peace

I have a million things running through my head at any given moment.  Do this, do that, go here, call so and so, knit, read, type, run.  I think it takes work to purposely hone in on one thing at a time.  To go slow, breathe, and listen with your heart rather than your ears.

I had much of today with no obligation written in stone on my calendar.  Free.  Of course I had a million things I wanted to do, so began buzzing around town as fast as I could, trying to fit it all in.  Something inside of me brought me to a place of peace.  I remembered I had packed my camera this morning.  So I called a friend and together we walked around the old hospital grounds with our cameras, looking for inspiration.  I’m so glad I did.  So glad I called.  So glad I slowed down.

We all need little breaks like that.  We’re all busy, every day.  And without intentional moments of peace, solitude, engaging in activities that fill our souls, it’s a matter of time before we run dry.  We found all sorts of cool images, things that told a story, just waiting to be noticed.  One of my favorite pictures was of a hole in a brick building, up high, and a ways away.  I snapped a shot.  Only when I got back to the computer and cropped that shot, did I realize a bold and beautiful bird hiding in the shadows.  I had no idea he was there!  I love being surprised like that, how easy it would have been to have missed it.  If I was too busy rushing around.

Quiet…sunshine…conversation between friends, interrupted only by a question or two about aperature or white balance.  Exploration.  Of the beauty nestled in Traverse City.  Of a safe presence.  Of creative imagination.

I was filled.  Only then, did I proceed to knock off a few more items on my to-do list.  The rest can wait for tomorrow.  What a beautiful world we live in.


Growth

I had one of those experiences this week that leads to incredible self-growth but you wouldn’t ever want to go through again.  Unfortunately, or maybe fortunately, it’s not quite over.  As with anything in life, there’s got to be a gem in here somewhere.  Something with a tag on it that reads priceless.  Those are the best gifts aren’t they…the ones that lead to an enrichment of your self…?  I’ll look back and be thankful.  In this moment, I’m looking forward to finding the way out.  In the meantime, I’m really glad that I know who I am.  I’m glad I have a support system…that there are people in my life who believe in me…that I can come home to a stable, loving, and healthy family.

I was a kid who always liked to have the last word.  I still do, at times.  My son and I sometimes wage war over the right to that title.  Then I have to remind myself that I’m the grown up.  I’m fighting the urge to have the last word right now.  I don’t like people thinking things about me that are not true.  Especially when those things are not pretty.  There’s a part of me that wants to shout, that’s not it, you have it all wrong! And at times, I have.  But something I’ve had to learn (and by the way, even if someone advises me on something, at times, I just have to learn on my own) is that no matter what you say sometimes, there are some people who will not hear it.  They hear through their filter.  They take it in, change the message slightly based upon their perspective, their life experience, their assumptions, and there’s not a darn thing you can do about it.  About them that is.  But there is something I can do.  I can learn to walk with my head held high.  I can learn when I’m in the midst of dysfunctionality, and respectfully remove myself.  There is a feeling that goes along with that, with being a part of a dysfunctional system.  I feel it deep in my gut, I feel it in my heart, and then I feel it in my thoughts.  You start to wonder is it me? Here’s when my healthy family, that I get to come home to every day, plays an incredibly important role.  They ground me, remind me of who I am, and who I’m not.

So there’s a couple lessons in here for me, number one is that my family rocks.  They’re crucial.  Everyone’s family is.  For they know you (hopefully) and stick with you (ideally) through thick and thin…give you energy and perspective…love and acceptance.  The second is, I know who I am…I know who I’m not…and I know who I belong to…and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters.

So for now, I’ll cling to that.  And remain open…and grounded.  These experiences are gifts…even if I don’t see them as that until far after…they are…gifts.  With that as my perspective, I am so incredibly excited for the next chapter.


Gift of children

Watching kids…the range of parenting…imagining the stories that adults own…guessing the stories our little people will grow to own.  What do you think is important in your life?  As a grown up, how do you like your co-workers to treat you?  Your neighbors? Your mate?  Your family?  Do you like to be able to fee free to express yourself, as you wish, as long as it doesn’t infringe on the rights of others?  As long as you’re being respectful?  I do.

Choose your battles.  Be graceful.  Flexible.  Funny.  Forgiving.  Safe.  Play with your kids.  When they climb all over you, demanding your attention, they most likely need you.  Don’t worry about what others may think, how they may criticize.  Pay attention to your gut.  Love your kids.  Love your partner, and make sure your kids know you love them.  Treat others with respect, your kids are watching you.  When all else fails, ask yourself, do I like to be treated or talked to the way I’m talking to my child? We can still provide structure, maintain boundaries and teach our kids responsibility while being kind, fair, and even-keeled.  Be patient.  Sometimes it feels they are speaking a different language, and maybe in a way they are.  Their brains are not as developed as ours, and we must be patient and understanding.  Speak to them on their level, meet your eyes to theirs, on their level.  Kids.  Are a priceless gift in this world, priceless.  Honor, respect, teach, guide, love, protect…