The Dachshunds

Shauna Niequist is taking the world by storm, or rather, by quiet revolt. Inviting people to say no to the rush, and yes to the pause. No to feelings of inadequacy and yes to the beauty and grace that we discover when we give ourselves the permission to slow the heck down.

The other day she had this as a Facebook status, “One of my spiritual practices: noticing. The tiny moments of sweetness & beauty & hope are always there–sometimes it’s just a matter of choosing to be a noticer.”

I saw this and I thought, “YES! This is what I want to be. A noticer.”

And so this week I choose to share the joy brought from these things that I noticed.

We went to a Rockies baseball game on Friday night and sat next to a school group. I was amazed at the sheer energy these kids had – climbing over chairs, refusing to sit still, hitting and nudging of siblings. I was so exhausted from sitting all day – yes sitting, the curse of the desk job – and I almost wished I had the tenacity to be able to climb all over my environment.

Too, these kids could not stop eating. Handfuls of popcorn, Pringles, hardboiled eggs their parents had brought, cotton candy. The joyful consumption of so many snacks. Every time I would look over, these little boys and girls had their palms to their faces, licking remnants of cheese and salt, and smears of flavor would be left on their face. This is the kind of abundant life we should be thankful for – remnants of food and wiggles still yet to be had after 9 pm. We live in a place of abundance – we need to recognize this.

As I left my neighborhood driving to work on Monday morning I rubbed my eyes and slurped my coffee. Mornings have never been my favorite and we are notoriously bad at any kind of morning routine here at my house. So when I stopped at the stop sign to turn left onto the main street and noticed an older gentleman walking three dachshunds I had to smile. Not one little dog, but three, and their owner had the ability to get up and dressed and out of the house for a walk. Not all of us are in a hurried rush to get to work.

Notice this kind of thing – the joy owners get from their  little creatures- the will to be outside in the mornings. I noticed a feeling of thankfulness for the beauty that was brought by being forced to stop and notice at a stop sign.

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And today, a little girl outside of the bank building, patiently waiting in a trailer being pulled behind a bike as her mom made a deposit. She knew how to put her hair in a pony tail, and beamed with pride as her mom noticed the change in her appearance when the mom was done with her chore.

It’s true – the world can be scary, and anxiety provoking, and a heck of a hard place to be. But when we slow down and choose to notice, not all of it can be awful.

I want to continue to notice – the good, the happy, the joyful, the dachshunds.

What did you notice this week?

 

“My Status is Not Binary”

I think too much. About where I am, how I got here, what I should be doing. How much do I rest, how much do I push? Where should we be going, how should I be spending money, what to invest in, what matters most?

Right now, I stop my racing brain by focusing on the simple good – our puppy, our family, warm sheets at night, food in our bellies. Maybe the pushing for accomplishment and achievement can be put on hold this year – grief is the work of progress – acceptance is the work of moving forward.

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This week’s beautiful thing is rather simple.  My friend sent me this link and the little cartoon really made me think. I’m sure the clip from The Oatmeal has already gone viral, and maybe you’ve already seen it. I like the simplicity in the little cartoons, and the beautiful way in which the internet can invoke thought and allow us to examine a bit more.

As Americans, let us stop and think, what really makes us happy? How do we stop striving and start living? Can you do both? Remember to stop, to do the work that is in your soul, and focus internally while being thankful for the people who support you.What do you find meaningful, compelling, worth it?

 

They Took that Bumblebee Off Stage

Let’s start with a little story. When I was 4 years old, I took a ballet class. I’m not sure if I was drawn to the idea of being a ballerina, or if my mom felt pressure to put me in activities like the rest of her friends and their daughters at our church. I took the classes, learned to point my toes, and got the bumblebee costume for the recital. I do not remember many of the details of the classes, except for one everlasting memory. Come the night of the dress rehearsal, I got pulled off stage by my teacher because I was hitting another little girl in my class. Mind you, she was in my spot! I had the yellow “X” and this little lady was in my way! So I stood up for myself, and well, was removed from the stage.

I danced on-and-off again until awkward puberty hit, and my height and my love handles didn’t quite fit in with the girls taking 4-10 classes a week, those lining up for point shoes, and neat costumes and weekend competitions. I turned my attention to Science Olympiad – eesh – and to tennis and getting A’s.  Yet, I kept my dance bag with my name embroidered in red, and three pairs of dance shoes – jazz, ballet, and tap. Maybe my 13 year old self knew I would once again return.

FullSizeRender (1)Time passed, I graduated from high school, and started college, and somehow came across my first pair of ballet slippers hiding in a closet, or a drawer at my parent’s house. I took them out and put them on my dresser, as a reminder of the little girl that still lives inside me. The worn pink leather, my name scrawled in Sharpie in my mom’s handwriting, the delicate nature of small slippers used by young children – all of these things make me cherish my first pair of dancing shoes.

I used to make so much fun of my dad for keeping everything – our VHS movies, our toys, our art, our shoes. These shoes. Quite honestly, I’m not sure if it was Mom or Dad who saved these treasures, but in his absence, these shoes mean so much more to me. We need to remember our inner child, and the joy that comes from dancing. These slippers greet me each morning as I pick out my clothes, and serve as a reminder to remember the little girl who once used them.

FullSizeRender (2)As part of my healing process, and an effort to keep moving forward in life, I signed up for a dance class for adults this year. I got out my old dance bag, and my ballet slippers from age 13 still fit. They are not nearly as adorable, but they hold much potential for healing, movement, and joy.

When I went to my first dance class last week I was absolutely stunned at the beautiful atmosphere that was cultivated in the studio. Women ranging in ages from 18-62 joined together, all types of bodies, all different levels of experience, and we were given the freedom to move.

Much to my surprise, the week’s prompt and meditation focus was moving from sorrow to joy. Never have I felt so called by God to be in a space. The bible verse shared that night was Isaiah 43:2. It was like God was speaking directly to me, saying I see you, I’m with you, you will make it through this. My heart still is overwhelmed by the powerful essence of healing and hope Lighthouse Dance created on an ordinary weeknight.

There is beauty to be found in a grown woman’s old ballet slippers, in returning to a space of dance and joy, and in experiencing God’s presence in the most unexpected of places. Beauty in the gifts of graceful reminders that come from people who do not know your struggles, truth that provides hope, community that allows acceptance of diversity and challenge. Beauty in moving forward, and in remembering that with each point of the toe we build on who we once were and can dance our way into who we are meant to be.

When Life Unravels

Beautiful power exists when we share our stories.

I have had the honor of writing for Invoke Magazine again, and today another installation goes live. For those who are interested in the beauty of sharing truth, being honest, and vulnerable in online spaces, here is my article.

3 Ways to Cope with Grief and Uncertainty (from Someone Who’s Been There)

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Thank you to Anna and Emily for the privilege of contributing again.

With love, bravery, courage and hope.

 

As Eeyore Says

IMG_4152As I was walking this afternoon, this thistle literally stopped me in my tracks. Stepping along, lost in my thoughts, the vibrant purple caught my eye and pulled me out of my spiraling fears.

Look at this living being, reaching up to the sky, yet covered in spikes to protect itself. Magnificently reflecting its own color at the top, despite its tough stem.

I don’t know about the science of thistles, nor the purpose of their evolutionary protection, but I do know this: this little plant reminded me to keep going, and hold my place in this world, thorns and all.

I know my posts have had a heavy tone lately, and for that I do not apologize. They reflect where I am at in life. This week, however, this damn thistle reminded me to be magnificently colorful despite the tough stuff. Look for levity, remember to search for the good, step outside of my own mind, and focus on the beauty that grows on top of the spiky thorns.

Here are a few beautiful things that brought a smile to my face this week.

  1. The Beatles cover bands. I so admire, well maybe admire is a strong word….. Appreciate. I appreciate grown men who are able to dress up like The Beatles and IMG_4154wear wigs, and practice hilarious Liverpool accents and play music to audiences in small towns. Watching people of many generations sing along to these classic songs while the performers wholeheartedly committed to the music of a previous generation warmed my heart. It was funny. They weren’t great, but their commitment to their performance made me laugh. Made me… appreciate.
  2. Playing Memory. I babysat my friends two kiddos – age 5 and age 6 – and I got to play Memory with them. Little toes on concrete floors, extreme joy at the match of character cards. It reminded me to get on the floor, get dirty, play and remember. PS – matching Captain Hook cards is much harder than it used to be. They refused to go to sleep, and giggled their way into their dreams. How long has it been since we have giggled into our dreams? Why, as adults, do we stop doing this?
  3. Chipotle Burritos. First thing – these burritos are delicious. Despite the fact that the owner gave the worst commencement speech I’ve ever heard at my own college graduation, they seem to have mastered the massive burrito. And when cooking feels like a chore, and the refrigerator is still empty from coming back from vacation, eating at Chipotle is a beautiful thing.

Keep looking for the beauty, feel what you feel, and honor those thorns.

But remember, as Eeyore says, “Thistles are flowers too.”

Float with the Wind

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Here in this valley we chose to leave my father’s ashes. Today we let him float with the wind, remembering that he no longer needs his body, that the spirit is what remains in our hearts and our memories. The concept of spreading ashes is an uncomfortable one, painful in release and a very permanent concept. And yet, through the tears, we were surrounded by beautiful community. The friends and family who have held our hands and wiped our tears and sent messages of peace and joy and comfort. Today I am thankful for the list of these beautiful people who joined us this afternoon.

The Wylie Family: John, Karen, Lauren, Leah

The Courtway Family: John, Claudia, Katy, Rob, Jenny, Heidi

Shaun Hoag & Dakota Lorenz

Pam Moore

Ron Morgan

For if you can not hold the hands of those you love as you face life’s challenges, it can be difficult to remember the beauty found in moving forward.

Too, I share these beautiful verses as a reminder that our lives are so much bigger than our own bodies can contain. That our purpose will be glorified in heaven. That beauty is to be found in releasing my dad to the wind, to remember that he is now connected in heaven, and we, too, can be free.

New Bodies – 2 Corinthians 5: 1-9

Dropping the Ball

Yup. I know it. Starting a blog post with a definition of a word is unoriginal and cliche. No hook to be found. So here I am, instead starting a blog post with a disclaimer about starting a blog post with a definition of a word. For therein lies the permission giving difference – I know what I am doing tonight here with these words, and I am ok with it.

Miriam Webster defines tonight’s word as such:

Grace 1a :  unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

And here is my interpretation of the word.

Grace 1a : The idea that we need to access forgiveness and get space from the divine for regeneration and revival.

2a: Room for putting down burdens and picking up rest.

3a: The idea that our efforts matter even when the end destination seems to be lost from sight.

This week I am trying to rest in the beauty of grace – in the unfinished business, our gentle work in-progress selves.

And so, I share with you here, my list of unfinished items and the beauty found in the dropped balls. The projects left unfinished, the things dropped when juggling priorities becomes a little bit overwhelming. Here are a few balls that have been rolling around on my spiritual floor.

  • Laundry – three piles sit on our guest bed waiting to be folded, hung up in closets. Instead I will pick casually out of the piles each morning, until once again, the clothes need to be washed.
  • It’s Tuesday – I usually write on Mondays, I missed last week, and I’m a day late for this week’s post.
  • I still haven’t finished our honeymoon scrapbook – our 2 year anniversary is looming closer.
  • I’ve taken a new job that is in a different industry that is slightly outside of my passion zone. I remind myself that the choice to provide for our family is ok – not all of my work needs to align with a passion. Still, at times, feels like a mysterious detour that doesn’t quite yet make sense.
  • I need a haircut and my eyebrows need waxing. My mother never nags me about anything – never a ‘What are you doing with your life?’ or a ‘Pick up your room.’ Instead, she just reminds me, ‘your eyebrows need waxing’. And right now, they do.
  • I’m out of stamps.
  • Dog toys cover our carpet and the puppy has figured out how to perch upon our hot tub. My arms are covered in claw marks and she needs her toenails cut.

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I list these shortcomings as if to say, “I see you. I accept you. I am working on you. You roll around on the floor there where I can see you – dropped ball of yet to finish tasks.” To remember that despite the unfinished to-do lists, and the feelings of continued uncertainty, things continue to be moving along ok.

There is beauty found when I tap into grace – whether from a divine source or the gentle push away from my perfectionist self that is striving, perhaps too much right now, to get it all right. Help me regenerate and beautifully revive, in the mysterious process of dropping some ‘frickin balls.