2015

His Wings are Big Enough

As I stood in line at the grocery story to check out this afternoon, I kept staring at the little girl in front of me. Probably two or three, wearing little pink leggings with a diaper sticking out at the top, this blond child was fascinated with the loose screw clinking on the sliding check stand.

You may not remember what a check stand even is (that’s certainly not the technical term), but – you know! – the little platform that slides in and out of the counter, making it easier for those in a wheel chair to write when completing their transactions.

Over and over again this girl’s tiny hands spun the loose screw on the edge of the platform that was just her height, as her exhausted and exasperated-looking mother tried to load this week’s load of sustenance into their cart. The little girl was determined to figure out what made the nuts on the screw work, moving her tiny features closer to the swinging table. Her mom kept pushing the table back into its proper place, only to seconds later have the young little gal pull the table and the fluid metal out again.

I smiled. The world can be a fascinating, perplexing, and enjoyable place if we stop and choose to fixate on things that draw in our interest.

I want to be more like the little girl, choosing to get my eyes closer, get my hands on the kinds of things that interest me, and let the rest of the chaos fade to the background.

How often do we give ourselves the time to really stop and examine anything so intriguing? For me, the answer is not often. There are so many circumstances that pull us out of that fixated state of interest towards a list of “something elses”.

I was reading a devotional this weekend as we stayed at a friend’s house. I picked up the pocket-size book Jesus Lives by Sarah Young and turned to this page.

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It can be eerie just how much God knows the words you need. I take comfort that He uses others to share thoughts of connection, of purpose, of divine inspiration.

And as I sat there, in the guest room bedroom, reading this page, I was reminded that I am still in restoration mode. And this position of healing takes focus, dedication, and REST. The kind of attention that blocks out the world and instead focuses on the delightful results of slowing the heck down. Much like the little girl at the store, I need to choose to devote my attention to the personally intriguing.

In other words, “Dear exhaustion, perseverance, pushing through. I can’t. I’m exhausted.”

I am choosing instead to rest in the shadows. To draw near to myself. To explore and delight in the simple things.

I think this week beauty lives in interactions at the grocery store, in this granola recipe, in a full fridge, in sleeping in, in celebrating family, in rest. In being taken care of, and in
conversations with wise women, in walking to get ice cream, in prepping for lunches for the week ahead.

His wings are large and encompass all the beautiful things as I allow my spirit to sit and rest. It takes practice and permission.

Restoration will come.

 

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Brave

Have you ever heard the advice, or the rather judgement deflecting phrase “You do you”?

I have a friend who says it often when she doesn’t exactly understand another’s choices, or on the opposite side of the spectrum when she is encouraging me to stand in my truth and be brave enough to live my own life.

Example: Wearing a dress that is too short for my taste but happens to look fabulous on my friend.  “You do you.”

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Example: I love seeing my parents twice a week even though I’m a grown woman.  “You do you.”

The concept is similar to Amy Poehler’s phrase, “Good for her, not for me.” Constantly pulled in a thousand directions, it can be challenging to remember that all we can do on this planet is capture “you.” You being me… you are following this right?

But what happens when “you do you” results in the fear of isolation and loneliness? I know that at times I don’t like to make decisions that are going to benefit myself for fear of disappointing others. Personal growth and embracing new opportunities gets thwarted because I much too often let others define how I am going to “do me”. Oh heavens, you don’t want to tag that phrase in a blog post. But do you know what I mean?

Let me try to explain. I’m starting a new job in a couple of weeks and am excited about the opportunity to go in a new direction with new prospects and responsibility. I had stomach aches giving notice at my current position when I knew that my leaving would disrupt the flow of things in my current situation. When I gave my news I was met with the most gracious response a boss could provide and support and good luck for my next step.

I am scared about what leaving behind a group of people I have grown to know over the last year will mean. Relationships are hard enough for me to maintain; what happens when I am the one changing course?

And yet, this is something that if I’m being honest with myself, I want. Me being authentically true means learning to live in the wake of the discomfort I am causing others and saying ‘we are all going to be ok’. I think women all over the country struggle with this. The idea of taking care of ourselves goes beyond getting a manicure or taking a nap. I’m learning it is also being beautifully brave in taking the next steps that are going to help me continue to grow. To “Lean In” as Sheryl Sandberg would say, or to embrace all that God has given us so we can develop into who we are meant to be.

In a recent post on Brene Brown’s Facebook page she was encouraging individuals to set healthy boundaries around the holiday season and her quote, “Be willing to choose discomfort over resentment” struck a serious chord in me. How often do we stay quiet, go with the flow, remain comfortable for fear of what others with think, or say, or do and then get angry. Angry at ourselves, angry at our situation, angry at others.

I’m noticing this pattern in myself and I’m wanting to put an end to it. No more anger for allowing myself to put me on the back burner while others glow boldly in the front. Instead, here is what I hope for in the year ahead as I continue to be me.

  • Growth – being ok with being uncomfortable
  • Keeping up this blog. Will you continue to read along? I’m going to write anyway.
  • Camp – the mountains are calling and I must go
  • Find a small group – I’m craving community and want a group of people to walk through life with. I don’t care your religion – let’s find a chance to connect and discuss all that is life over chicken noodle soup.
  • Start a retirement account – financial goals are becoming a reality
  • Continue to read. This year I think I’ve reached 43 books. Next year maybe more.

Being beautifully brave is a conscious choice that requires energy and discipline and self- care. I’m not feeling incredibly brave tonight, so write this as an ode to myself knowing I’ve got what it takes within me to continue to boldly step into the next stages, paying attention to what I need.

What helps you feel beautifully brave as “You do you”?

Essie Nail Polish: Jump in my Jumpsuit

Biscotti: None – but heavens have I eaten enough Christmas Cookies to last me until next year. I did make my dad this Shortbread Recipe

 

366 Pages

I just read a post by  Jayme Henderson on her blog Holly and Flora with the title “Making Cozy a Priority” and I want to send a major hallelujah to the author. This phrase beautifully captures my priorities for this past weekend. I wanted to steal the title, but you know… plagiarism, so instead I am sharing my delight in her creativity and wonderful way with words. Jayme, I think I can relate to how you feel.

This week, my beautiful experience was reading a whole book in one day. 366 pages read in a total of five hours . Blissful hours sitting on my comfy red couch and glancing, ever so often at the twinkling lights on my Christmas tree. It feels luxurious to be able to devote so much time to an experience that brings me such joy – dabbling in the story, texture, vibrancy of someone else’s creation through words, ink, and heart.

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In an article in The Atlantic written in 2014, they reported that only a quarter of Americans read more than one book a year. ONE BOOK! I know I’m an anomaly and that I enjoy reading at a level higher than the average bear, but this year, I’ve read 42 books. I think it is shocking and slightly disappointing that the average American can’t stomach one book a year.

This weekend I brushed off other commitments and chose to devote a full day to a novel experience. I love reading, love story, love words, love authors, love creativity and individual’s efforts to share their experiences with others.

You know what else is beautiful about reading a whole novel in one day while choosing to prioritize the cozy? Beautiful treats. I have this red, fleece lined cable knit blanket that accompanied me on my literary journey. Thank you PotteryBarn for taking creature comfort to a whole new level. Breaks included nibbles of gingerbread, a glass of egg nog, and the lighting of a flickering cinnamon candle. Tastes and smells of the season that in two weeks will simply lose their charm.

I know that next week will be full of wonderful celebration, exercises in traditions, family, people, gifts, lights, and magic. It, too, will require immense and wonderful energy.  For just this weekend, I was able to rest and invest time to allow myself to get lost in literary worlds.

At times, our priorities pull us in all kinds of directions. Have I done laundry? Nope. Gone to the grocery store? Nope. Cleaned, or tidied, or stocked the pantry? Nope. But hey, the gifts are wrapped and the lights are on the house, and the Christmas Cards sent. I choose to embrace the beauty in welcoming the gift of  time to fully experience literature. I’m adding 366 pages to this year’s total.

How do you take care of yourself during this crazy time of year?

 

Beauty is Fleeting – Guest Post by Chelsea Nenno

Here it is folks, the last guest post of the year. Thank you to all of the writers who have chosen to share their journeys with me this year. This week’s post is written by my online Pen Pal Chelsea Nenno. I don’t quite recall how we found each other, and have never actually met in person, but we have connected over blog posts and tweets throughout the year. The internet is an amazing thing. I resonate so much with her thoughts and have appreciated hearing her version of her “20 something” story. I was thrilled when she said she would share her version of beauty here. So without further ado….

Author: Chelsea Nenno

Blog: My Life in Words        Twitter: @chelseanenno

Beauty is Fleeting.  – Proverbs

A few months back I stood in the airport waiting for a friend of a friend to arrive. The gate monitor told us they’d be late. I’ve always liked the airport at night, so I didn’t mind. Three teenage boys moved away from the walkway and headed to their seats excited and… teenag-y. A gruff middle aged man walked back to his woman, slouched in the chair and threw his arm around her. An asian gentleman scuffled to the opposite end of the building where no one else was sitting.

It was the old man who caught my attention as he looked both ways then found a seat close by the crowd. His golfer cap leaned a little to the right as he crossed his left leg and placed his hands on his lap.

I figured he was waiting for an old buddy coming back from visiting his grandchildren. Maybe he was picking up his own. Nothing about him was extraordinary, just interesting.

The overhead speaker announced the flights had landed. A gray haired, gray clothed, gray attitude asked me “Who just landed?” I pointed at the screen to show her which flight, She nodded and walked off. Nothing about her made me intrigued.

Travelers descended down the escalators and toward the arrival gate. The teenage boys were the first to be seen as they stood on tiptoes eager to see their friend. The gruff man took the bag of his hipster daughter and walked toward the baggage claim. It was busy as hugs were passed and loud hello’s and men with headphones and long coats made their way to the taxi’s outside.

In the hustle, and at the corner of my eye, that old man, shuffled his way to the gate and met a tall petite dark haired woman with a french accent and an old small rounded woman with a black stylish purse. Her eyes said she was glad to be home and His arms were opened wide as he welcomed her. He embraced the older woman and kissed her right on the lips. He put himself in the middle, wrapped his arms around the two of them and walked out the doors.

Everything around me was happening so fast. I wrapped my friend in a hug as we walked outside to my car. My mind still on the little glimpse of something I thought was beautiful.

I don’t know why that was beautiful to me. I don’t even have words that describe what I felt when I watched that old man embrace what he loved, held them tight, protecting them from the cold and eager to get them home.

Maybe it was because I was stuck in a place where nothing was beautiful. The world had turned black and purpose and meaning and love and joy had all escaped from the bubble I’d been living in. I had felt like my world was caving in and all that I wanted to be good was throwing nightmares and gossip and ugly at my face. And this one little moment, this one tiny little moment, brought all the light back to my dark world.

The next day I was driving home to my parents out on the lake thinking of the old man. Something to my right caught my attention and me, the only person on the road, at the right time, saw a 60 foot tree in the woods crack, bend and fall to the ground, bouncing back up a few times then coming to a rest. All in the 15 seconds it took me to pass it on the highway.

Fleeting, was my first thought when I saw that tree. So shortly lived yet something that filled the rest of my day with anticipation for what I might see next.

I’ve always believed God has showed his love to me by the simple things in life that only He knows I would appreciate. Only He would know how much that old man would affect me by simpling wrapping his love around those two women. Only He would know how much emotion it would bring me to be the only one, in the world, to see that tree fall in the forest. Only He would know that what I find beautiful is that which most everyone looks past.

When I think of beauty I don’t think of chiseled faces, or perfectly defined abs. I don’t see color or even perfect shapes. Beauty seems to be this odd, short lived moment that happens when you least expect it. It’s as if Beauty is a living, breathing work of art that floats around and hopes that it’s not seen, and when it is, it hides quickly as if not wanting to be captured.

Maybe I’m speaking to much from my thoughts and not making much sense but what I am beginning to believe of beauty is that it’s a moment. A moment that once seen, tasted, heard, felt, it’s the only thing that keeps me wanting to search for more. It’s the only thing last lasts.

I hope that during this season of frenzied chaos, family drama, sparkly lights, and little children, you will glimpse beauty that is just for you. Just like that old man and the tree. It was just for me. I pray the same for you. May the beauty you see fill you with anticipation for more and eagerness to share it with others so they may see their own beauty too.

View More: http://beckiwalker.pass.us/chelseanenno

 

Chelsea currently lives in the Pacific North West, is in school for massage therapy, works two jobs and writes in her spare time. She is anxiously awaiting the summertime and chooses to believe everyday is Friday. You can find her at thechelseapage.com or My Life In Words

42 Christmas Movies

“Daddy, why is they singing Jingle Bell Rock?” said the little girl sitting next to me in a plush chair at Starbucks.

Creative Christmas music is pulsing through the speakers above me. You know the kind – the remakes and attempts at original Christmas songs that may or may not still be blasting through the speakers next year at this time.

The dark haired little girl, likely four or five, is wearing a striped jumper that has to come out of J.Crew kids. Her father – mid 40’s, hipster glasses, fancy shoes – pulled her to the side and simply responded, “because it sounds like rock. You’ve got to jam.”

She nodded as if she understood, and started pulsing up and down in her little leggings. This family must have hip conversations about music and about Christmas. Their family time at Starbucks is making me feel really happy. Watching others interact is a beautiful thing.

This week I came across this fabulously written blog post about how to handle the world when things seem absolutely out of control. Did you read it? Fifteen Things for When the World is Shitty and Terrifying

I was inspired by Katherine Fritz’s reminders to choose to live in the good, the magical, the absolute power and miraculous components that make our world work. Inspired by  Ms. Fritz’s article, here are a few of this week’s moments that seem ordinary and enchantingly beautiful at the same time. It does not take a lot of effort to find the beautiful surrounding you.

  • We got to spend time with Dylan’s cousin who has an 8 month old baby. Spending time with a young family is a perfect reminder that we have the capability to create human life. While families each have their own challenges, joys, and sufferings, we choose over and over to make new little humans. To me, watching this little 8 month old, reminded me to that we HAVE to choose hope that our world is beautiful, magical, prosperous. For this little guy, for the little girl next me in the jumper, for all of the babies out there gumming their way through the day.
  • Baking cookies – have you ever spent time thinking about the miracle that is the American oven? This week we made more holiday cookies, and I have the opportunity to simply press ‘bake’ and this magical metal machine heats up in my kitchen to over 375 degrees and cooks things. Blend sugar, eggs, flour, vanilla and you get a heavenly treat, but for thousands of people living around the world this process of cooking takes so much more effort and resource. I am spoiled, I have an oven, and it allows me beautiful treats.
  • 42 Christmas Movies. This weekend we had a gift exchange with some family and a few DVD’s were floating around the room. No one wanted to claim the various collections boasting 10 Lifetime Christmas Classics, 20 Traditional Christmas Classics, or 12 Hallmark Christmas favorites. These movies exist people! While the themes may be cheesy, and the acting sub-par, our culture continues to create stories of Holiday hope, inspiration, love and connection. Except, well, maybe one of them. One of the titles included Santa Claus Conquers the Martians (1964).

Upon a Wikipedia search I found this description: Santa Claus Conquers the Martians is a 1964 science fiction comedy film that regularly appears on lists of the worst films ever made. It is regularly featured in the “bottom

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Movie Poster from Wikipedia.com

100″ list on the Internet Movie Database, and was featured in an episode of the 1986 syndicated series, the Canned Film Festival.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to watch that? We need to find reasons to laugh, to embrace the absurd, to connect and to enjoy the ridiculous. I plan on rallying my family for an afternoon of aliens and Santa Claus. What could be more engaging? At least family time is beautiful.

Biscotti: Almond (the year isn’t over -my resolution not forgotten)

Essie Nail Polish: Fashion Flares

Tree Time

 

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Growing up, the Friday after Thanksgiving meant searching for a Christmas tree. These were outdoor adventures that required boots, and gloves, and a saw. The group was always composed of either my immediate family, or my cousins and my uncle, and we would chant in our matching Gap turtleneck sweaters (weren’t my mom and aunt cute) that it was time to chop down a tree. Bickering for a spot in the trunk – no seat belts! – my relatives and I would anxiously await the bumpy dirt road, the snow, the chopping and the treats that would follow once the perfect tannenbaum had been selected.

I remember these trips briefly, snippets here and there, and maybe I create stories based off of pictures in my family’s photo albums. I remember the trusty silver Subaru, the swearing in the dark when the tree fell off the front of the car, and how every year, without fail, my dad would have to cut off a few feet of tree as the piece of nature stuck out our front door, on its side, until properly adjusted for the high ceilings that hosted the tree in my childhood home. Trees look smaller in the grand expanse of wilderness, dont’cha know? These adventures make for tradition, and create laughter and embarrassment, and merriment all around.

So yes, the weekend after Thanksgiving, I convinced Dylan to go looking for a tree. I was an impatient, fair weather fan, however. Our adventure consisted of driving to Home Depot and picking out a 7 ft fir, rather than a rousing ride to the wilderness. Our cheeks were still rosy from the 25 degree weather, and we bickered a little with the strapping of the monster to the top of our car. Cold fingers and toes still gave us an eventful trip and brought my (ok …. our) tree home.

I love this beautiful transition into the holiday season. We say it every year, that Christmas tends to sneak up on us. This time last year we were moving. I am beyond thankful that we do not have to do that this December. We continue to create our own traditions while creating our own little family’s history.

 

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I spent three hours stringing popcorn and cranberries as garland for the tree. The reassuring squeak of bright white kernels as they squealed along the thread, mixed with the vibrant red juice of cranberry brought me joy sitting in our new living room. There is beauty in that bright white/crimson red color combination, in the sense of purpose in a project, and the final product hanging on the now decorated boughs of our very own evergreen. I find beauty in tradition, in merriment, and in the events that ground our lives.

Beauty in the things that require adaptation too. Every year I like to make gingerbread snowflake cookies. These treats are astounding, and I love decorating them with royal icing, and I battle my mom to get her to help me stick the beautiful frosting in a pastry bag because I don’t like to get my hands so sticky. This year, we used a different cookie cutter and the beautiful arms of the flakes, well… flaked. Each time we picked up a cookie, the fragile little stinkers broke. And broke. And broke. I have never laughed so hard, as each frosted cookie seemed to shriek – ‘not this year you don’t’. So beauty in imperfection as well.

These stories and traditions weave our lives together. I’m thankful for the transition this year, and for my beautiful Christmas tree. And for snow flake gingerbread nubs, because those too, are delicious when dipped in coffee.

 

52 Thankfuls

 

52 Beautiful Things to Be Thankful For (in no particular order)

  1. My husband
  2. It’s snowing!
  3. My mom, my dad, my brother
  4. My in-laws
  5. The big front window in our living room that lets in light while we watch the world go by
  6. I was taught to cook
  7. I have a job
  8. Coloring books and Prismacolor Pencils
  9. Coffee – always, always coffee
  10. Slippers
  11. Growing Opportunities – even when they are so uncomfortable you think you might burst
  12. Our new house
  13. Old friends – the ones you’ve known since braces and pimples and your future was predicted in a game of MASH
  14. New friends – the people ushering you in to the next stage of who you are meant to be in the world.
  15. White wine
  16. I live in Colorado
  17. I have a college degree – Go Buffs!
  18. Essie Nail Polish
  19. Rest Days
  20. Yoga
  21. Sunshine
  22. Do-Overs
  23. Biscotti
  24. The Mountains
  25. Fireplaces
  26. Heat
  27. People who write books
  28. Books
  29. People who read my blog
  30. I was born in America
  31. Fancy breakfast – Eggs Benedict Please
  32. I can still hang out in the house I grew up in
  33. Bicycles
  34. Hard Work – it means our efforts matter
  35. Mentors
  36. Craft Beer
  37. The Internet
  38. Family Traditions
  39. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  40. Clean, running water
  41. Fresh Flowers
  42. Prayer
  43. Creatives
  44. Roots & Wings
  45. Crock Pots
  46. Modern Medicine
  47. Writing
  48. Pens – fine point, black ink
  49. Dylan’s handyman skills
  50. Happy Hour
  51. Lifelong Learning
  52. New Beginnings

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. I hope you find something to be thankful for today!