I never knew how difficult life would be at times. My parents have been together for almost 50 years. I watched them interact, dad the provider, mom the disciplinarian. They had their arguments (they were the parents that silently argued. If the house was quiet, there was trouble.) but for the most part, everything seemed easy. My Dad made a great living and none of us wanted for anything.
I had no idea that they were shielding us from the stress and at times frustration that is parenting! I have worked very hard to let go of worrying but it still creeps up on me. I have said it before, my girlfriends keep me grounded and somewhat sane. Something that Sean and I didn’ t have was someone to help guide us. Someone who had been there before to give us advice. By the time I was married my parents had issues with health problems and Sean’s mother passed away a few months before we met. None of our parents explained budgets, parenting during difficult times or how to get through the tough places on our own marriage.
We have since made friends that are older and wiser than we are. Experience is the best teacher and if someone has been where you are, let them tell you what they did, whether they failed or not, so that you can learn from that. There have been many instances in my life where the person taught me exactly what not to do but I remembered what they went through, or the pain they caused those around them, and I knew that I didn’t want to cause that kind of pain. We need people in our lives to help guide us. Whether it is a pastor at your church, a teacher at your school or a friend that has been around the block, so to speak. It is important to know that no matter what, we aren’t alone. We aren’t the first to experience life and we won’t be the last. It is just comforting to know that no matter what life gives us, we can depend on those around us to help us through the tough times.
Who in your life helps to guide you? Who is your go-to person that is always there for you?
SOmething I always thought was a beautiful concept was this: The word Guidance means we are guided by something. I feel that God guides me and in that we are in a realtionship together.
Guidance means God U and I DANCE!
” We are a tribe of dogmatic individuals who strive 24-7 to have it all but as a society, we don’t know when to throw in the towel.” Ellen Miller
How many times have you found yourself fighting for something that you know you can’t win. Maybe you held on to a project that was in no way going to come to fruition or maybe you tried with all your heart to make others care about something that you were passionate about but to no avail.
We drive ourselves and work very hard. Success, by society standards, is how much money/status/material possessions that you have. I know this as well as the next person. Starting off in advertising sales and working for a society magazine, I was caught up in what I thought was important. After a mission trip to Mexico, I remembered who I was and what was really important. I started to see the things that surrounded me were not at all in line with what was really important to me. People were lying, cheating, stealing. They were miserable people who, from the outside, seemed to have everything. I was a part of that all the while feeling like something was missing.
After returning from the mission trip, I quit sales altogether and had no job in sight. I only knew I had to get out of the environment I was in. Two weeks to the day I received a call from a friend at the church we attended and there was a position that seemed to have been created encompassing everything I had ever done. I truly felt it was God showing me that I had to trust in him and everything would work out. Why was I so surprised and overwhelmed? Growing up my mom always said that if I followed “God’s instruction manual for life” that things would work out like they should.
Well, God knows I am not perfect but I do know what is important to me. I am working very hard to not let the materialistic things get in the way of what is important. It is an everyday challenge to focus on my life and his plan and let go of the consumer in me. Sometimes I fall prey to “The Jones”. They seem to have everything, right? THe surprising thing is, once inside THe Jones’ house, they don’ have it figured out either.
Bottom line is, I know what is important to me. I am focused on being a good person. I am trying to be the kind of wife, mom, daughter, friend that I would want. Do I fall short? Every single day. I am told though, “The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” My schedule is full of my faith, my family and my friends.
If you looked at your schedule, what ranks highest? Like it or not, it tells you exactly what you think is important.
The only normal people are the ones you don’t know very well. Joe Ancis
Like it or not, I have pretty much been who I am all of my life. I am the cheesy, blue skies, silver lining kind of girl. I love giving back and helping others achieve something of importance and I truly love people. These things come easily to me but often my feelings get hurt because I get too emotionally vested or someone is just mean. I don’t understand why there are women out there who thrive on talking down or making others feel bad. I guess that is why growing up, I always had more guy friends. My husband is my best friend. He knows me so well and accepts me for the crazy person I am.
I am also incredibly blessed to have some really close girlfriends that I can’t even tell you how important they are to me. The commonality that we have is we are all strong-willed, honest folks. None of us pretend to be anything we are not, for better or for worse. It is so freeing to live this way. We are authentic, and can be completely crazy at times, but no matter what, we are honest and supportive of one another. I owe so much to these special women. I don’t know where I would be without them.
This part of the book is about living intentionally. Miller says there are three things to help us get back to who we really are. Our authentic selves.
I can tell you that even though some are put off by the fact that I have no pretenses and am totally honest about who I am, I would rather live with who I am and know that person, than lose myself in a persona that wasn’t real. One of my favorite characters is Elle Woods from Legally Blond. She is very “Malibu Barbie” but she knows who she is, she is genuinely nice to everyone, and she is truly authentic. The confidence in who she is makes her so likable and her attitude in infectious. Even those who ridicule her come to love her for her supportive, friendly ways.
“Believing in yourself never goes out of style.” Elle Woods
Life is too short and I want to be present in ever aspect. C.S. Lewis said it best, “We are what we believe we are.”
Who are you?
“Pass it on” I know it sounds like a cliché but it is so true. We take things for granted in good times and are reminded, sometimes painfully in hard times, that we need one another.
I have worked with non-profits, either salaried or in a volunteer capacity, for over ten years. I know that every single thing about a non-profit is made possible through donations and support of those who believe in the cause. It has been very interesting to work at a church in these hard economic times. Two years ago the reality of the world in which we live hit home really hard. Not only was the staff stripped of most of our budget used for specific ministries but we were on a pay increase hiatus. There were many of us who opted out of a raise in order to keep our friends on staff and some positions had to be cut anyway. The people in the church were spread too thin and so they cut back in the only area they could, discretionary income. That meant some families had to cut back on what they gave or stop giving altogether. This directly effected how we began to do ministry. We had to be more creative in what we did. We had to raise funds for some of the things that were funded in better financial years. It was a difficult task and frustrating at times but we had the blessing of seeing how folks came to help.
I went to warm up my lunch and walked through the Welcome Area to find a member who was taking her lunch hour, once a week, to come in and clean the Welcome Area. Members came up to help out with repairs. Members came to the church on weekends to help clean out flower beds and do beautiful landscaping. Members even donated materials for classes so that we could continue to offer courses. People saw a need and they helped to fill it. One person fills a need not knowing they are helping someone else meet a need. It meant so much to me that these folks cared enough about their church to go beyond and give of themselves. That is what makes my job worthwhile. Seeing people work together, seeing people come to Christ.
A young woman came to St. James to learn more about what it means to be a Christian. She took a course called ALPHA. She started attending a Young Adult Sunday School class. She started volunteering to help a special needs child as a shadow during Sunday School class. She and a friend led the next ALPHA course. I got to be present at her Baptism, which was one of the coolest, most beautiful things I have ever been a part of. I cried.
It all started with a step. She decided to give back by becoming part of something that was bigger than she. Someone was there for her and now she is there for someone else. It’s the whole “Pass it on” thing. I wish everyone could witness the beautiful change that happens when someone finds themselves and even more, helps others find themselves. It takes every single one of us to make this all work. The volunteers offered a course that a young girl took. Now that same young girl is a vital part of the church and it’s ministry.
I realy on my family and friends and they know they can on me. I can’t imagine where I would be without them. I can’t imagine being alone in this world. The cool thing is, I don’t have to and neither do you. It all starts with a step.
For those of you who purchased the book “Inspiration for Girlfriends…” by Miller, you know that we are on a journey to find uncommon joy. That joy that exists even when we are at our worst. Miller has told us how she copes and I have related some stories about my life. We have been learning about “Cocooning”, a period of time of retreat in which we step back and evaluate our lives, finding out what is important and that which is not. We have even been challenged to dream in away we have not done since that time in our childhood when everything was possible.
I have made a committment to my spiritual growth and development. I know that repetition breeds habit. I want to be the best wife/mother/daughter/friend that I can be. I guess I want to be the best person I can be. In the words of Nichole Nordeman, “I want to leave a legacy. How will they remember me? Did I choose to love?” I never want the people that know me, to not know how I feel about them. I know that this seems fake to some people (who don’t know me) but for the better part of my life, I have been honest. Compliments flow freely from me but they are always honest and true. I whole heartedly feel that we don’t tell the people around us, even the most important, how we feel about them and just how special they are. Everyone has something that makes them shine. You just have to find it.
God is good. He has blessed my life with so much. It can be difficult at times to remember that when the worldly things tend to drag us down, but there is a reason for it. I don’t have time to take a couple of days to cocoon or unplug. I have too many important commitments like my husband, my children and my parents. I do have a few hours to give to myself. Maybe it is getting my nails done or sitting at a coffee shop and reading. It is a committment that I have not been faithful to and my spiritual life suffers for it. I am rededicating myself. I am taking time for me. I will say no to one thing this week and instead do something for myself. I am trying to teach myself that in doing this, I will be a better person for everyone around me.
What is one thing that you have done for yourself in the past week?
We have all heard of the old adage about having “too many balls in the air”. You have to decide which are most important and focus on them. I can attest to that. I used to be queen of Yes. Yes I can help you raise money. Yes I can donate calligraphy, Yes, I can work both kids parties at the same time. You know the drill. I have done a lot better in this area and those folks that really know me have seen this to be true.
Two years ago I was sick for no apparent reason other than stress. My parents weren’t doing well health wise and I was worried about them. Our church was in the midst of a Grand Opening and there was a mission trip at the same time that I was to co-lead. I was a Junior League Member trying to fulfill my obligations all on top of being a full-time employed mother of two that couldn’t say no.
I started waking up and my arms would be asleep, painfully asleep, only I wasn’t lying on them. I itched to no end. I started noticing a rash on my arms and I would break out in sweats. (Not the cute Juicey Couture, either! ) I saw the doctor 4 times in one week and was on antibiotics. They did numerous blood tests and I just knew at any moment, Dr. Gregory House was going to walk in and say that I had Lupus.
I was at a loss and so I started cutting back. I stepped down from JLLR which killed my soul. I stepped down off two Boards that I was residing over and I focused only on my family and my church. immediately, the rash went away. I was so frustrated that I let myself get so stressed and worked up over life situations that I could have prevented. I was no good to anyone when I was stressed out chasing all of those balls trying to make sure I didn’t drop one. Now, the load is much manageable and I am only juggling a few. From time to time I will throw in an extra but only if I know I won’t drop it.
Maintaining a healthy balance is so important in life. I encourage you to make a list of the things you are active in and see if it really defines who you are and if it is enriching your life. An easy way to start is to look at your checkbook. You spend money on what you care about the most. Figure out which things are most important and make them a priority. It will make a huge difference I bet.