Life Happens

From the Heart of Grace Waters…

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Between Two Worlds

Many of us find ourselves between two Worlds. The first world is the one based on what used to be–when things were “safe.” The second world is more uncertain. It is uncomfortable and unfamiliar terrain. As we stand perched between the two, we struggle with our identity. Will we go back to being the person we were before things “changed,” or will we have to readjust and accept that our new normal also forces us to be a new us? Many of us reminisce on the recent past as if we are our ancestors telling their great-grandchildren what happened “back in the day.” We remember the freedom to go where we wanted without having to think about what our choice could do to our families. We remember hearing someone sneeze and us quickly responding “God Bless You,” instead of everyone scattering to all sides. We remember what it was like to choose to stay inside. We remember.

We are forced to adjust, realizing that things will never quite be the same. For some, it’s just the way it is. For others, it is an unfortunate and annoying inconvenience. Still, for others, there is the tragedy of adjusting to a life in which a loved one may have been an unexpected casualty of this war. Between two Worlds, we wonder if we will ever feel as “free” as we used to feel. Will the sunshine feel the same? Will shopping in the store be a welcome distraction, or will it now have us hypervigilant about who is around us. No doubt about it, things will be different.

But, as we straddle the fence between the two worlds, no matter how much has changed, some things remain: The impenetrable ability of people to bounce back and thrive still holds true; the intrinsic optimism and hope for better will keep people striving to see what they desire; the will to survive will have us struggling through to see the other side. In this in between time, we will regroup. We will mourn. We will wonder. In the end, we will arrive in this new normal prepared to rediscover those things that make us smile, laugh, hope, love…

There is an “after this.” So, like many of you, I wonder how things will be in this new world. There is some trepidation, and I will be cautious while re-entering into society, but one thing I know is that there can be and absolutely is better on the horizon. So, prepare yourself. We’re going in.

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Spring Forward

Today, we mark the occasion of “spring forward.” We celebrate more daylight time. Unofficially, we begin to say goodbye to Winter and we look forward to Spring. Outside, the weather is changing as leaves find their way back to branches and color begins to infuse the world with a sense of vibrancy and life. Things are changing. Outwardly, we’re optimistic as we look forward to time spent in the sun, festivals, warm breezes and cool treats. Things are changing.

But, what if all of these changes are only happening on the outside? What if all around us things are looking brighter, and to the person watching us, things couldn’t be better…but inside our hearts and our minds are still curled up in the freezing grip of a self-imposed Winter season? The dichotomy of our outward self warring with our inner being sometimes makes life interesting. Which self will win?

As I thought about the approaching Spring, I put myself in a self-reflection mode. I began to peruse the pages of my life, and I parsed out the things that I am not happy about, the things that don’t make me smile, the hidden doubts and fears that all but the very astute miss…I thought about the part of me that presents a perfect front, when inside I just want to be accepted, understood, wanted. I walked through my own mind and saw the times I thought I wasn’t good enough, and saw where I had spoken positive things, but the words didn’t reach my heart. I saw, for the first time in a long time, me, and in that place, I accepted every bit of me. I accepted that I won’t always get things right, and sometimes I won’t love the space I am in; but, I also accepted that my permanent place is not in lack or misunderstanding, but in a place of love, power, and the expectation of seeing everything my heart desires. Me is a beautiful place.

So, as this Spring approaches, I challenge you to do some Spring cleaning within yourself. Clean out the “dust” from your corners, and clear out the cobwebs that threaten to keep you in a tangled up place. Be willing to embrace who you are–every flaw, every doubt, every fear, but know that you are MORE than those things. As this Spring hurries to greet us, prepare yourself to expect on a new level, live on purpose, love deeply, and smile frequently.

Spring forward from within, and watch how your world unfurls to greet you. Things are changing…

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It’s In Me

A few days ago, I was sitting in a restaurant with one of my clients. As I sat, it felt as if someone was staring at me. With a quick glance around, I noticed an older gentleman looking my way. I acknowledged him, but then continued on with my client meeting. As I continued to share with my client, out of the corner of my eye, I saw the gentleman leave his table and head towards ours. In my head, I was not sure why he would be approaching the table. Honestly, I was prepared to show him my ring finger so he could understand I wasn’t open to being approached in “that” way if this was his intention. I mean, you can’t be too sure when a stranger approaches you. 🙂 His actual intentions blew my mind.

As he drew near to the table, he greeted us and then turned directly to me and began to ask questions. He asked me what I do for a living, and I told him that I am involved in several things, one of them being an inspirational speaker. At this, his eyes lit up, and he said to me, “That’s it. That’s what I sensed in you. There is an aura about you that draws attention, and I had to come over here to see what it was about.” From here, he proceeded to tell me, a complete stranger, about his hopes and dreams, and what he wants to do. At this point, I am completely in awe at this interaction. It felt surreal, and it caused me to pause within myself for just a moment. Here I am, functioning in a completely different capacity, but this man sensed something in me that had him interrupting my meeting to tell me about it. As he continued, a part of me rejoiced, while another part of me wondered why I had ever doubted the part of me he was able to see.

When you function in a certain capacity, sometimes you doubt whether you are effective. At least, I have. Sometimes you wonder if your purpose has expired, and you consider throwing in the towel, believing that no one will miss what you do and who you are. You become a comparison analyst, looking around and seeing that others seemingly do what you do, and do it better. You watch as others “flock” to someone else, and you determine that maybe you will let things rest for a while. Oh, maybe that wasn’t you, but it was me. But, that man reignited the flame in me. He reminded me that Grace is not something I made up. Me as the writer, speaker, encourager, uplifter, motivator, adjutator, lover…is just in me. Even when I am not specifically functioning as such, there’s just something about me…

Maybe you have doubted yourself…maybe who you thought you were came under attack because of life. It’s now time for you to be revived. There are many who may seemingly do what you do, but they are NOT you. They can’t touch those whom you can touch. They are not meant to encourage those you are meant to encourage. There is only ONE you, and you were created to be uniquely, naturally, and amazingly you. So write, speak, function, be. It’s in you.

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Through Her Eyes

I am fiercely protective. Like mother bear protective…and it’s not just of my daughter (though I am of her too), but it applies to anyone close to me. My husband tells me that I stand up for the world because I will argue on someone’s behalf even when it does not directly affect me. I have never thought about why I do so until now. When I thought about it, I had a realization: I protect others as I wish I had been protected.

Somewhere inside of me, the little girl I tried to ignore, has caused me to be intentional about insuring others don’t feel rejected, abandoned, unnecessary…that little girl, who grew into a young adult, that has now transformed into a woman of wisdom, makes sure that others don’t feel the way I used to. So, my experiences make me protect others…they make me love others.

Never has it been me consciously trying to be “Captain Save Everyone,” but life has made my response one in which I refuse to be bitter, but instead I work to make things better for someone else.

What have your experiences created in you? How have they shaped you? Are you bitter or better?

When I realized that I was seeing through the eyes of that little girl hidden inside of me, I realized that there was good that came of seeing that way, but it is time to progress past that place. I can still be protective, but as I am learning with my own little one, I have to give space for others to fight for themselves and realize their own worth and power.

Every one of your experiences have led you to your responses of today, but never let the past be louder than the present. It happened. You survived it. Now live in today. See through the fresh lens of right now.

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Adjust to the Season

Here in Georgia, if you look hard enough you will see the leaves changing colors and the sparseness begin as those same leaves begin to fall from the trees; however, though officially fall, someone forgot to tell the weather the same. The weather is still warm, even at night, but it is still fall. If we aren’t careful, we will function as if it is summer-cut off shirts, shorts, and sandals…leaving the gym sweaty and not covering up…behavior that denotes we’re in a different season. Just because it “feels” one way does not negate the fact that fall is upon us.

The same holds true in our lives. When we go from one season to another, sometimes we function as if we are still in the old place we used to be. Because it “feels” like it used to, we behave like we used to, and when we get the same results, we pat ourselves on the back for not falling for the “lie” that something has changed. Regardless of our feelings, life, like the weather, keeps moving. With the weather, if we refuse to put on a jacket, or we do not dress according to the season we are in, that opens the door for sickness. In a similar fashion, if we don’t navigate the changing seasons of our lives, we fall prey to depression, doubt, fear, rejection, and a myriad of other things that we could avoid if we adjusted.

Maybe we are trying to hold on to the last vestiges of what was a great time. For instance, I enjoy moderate heat and sunshine and detest cold and murky days, but how would I look wearing sandals and a tank top in the dead of winter just because I want to pretend that nothing has changed?

Things change. We change. Seasons change. We have to adjust our lives to fit our current season so we can stay ready when things change again. Get ready. Flow with the changes.

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Life Check In

So, how are those New Year resolutions going? Are you sticking to them, or has life succeeded in influencing you to kick them to the side? For me, life has been something else, but I intentionally didn’t make resolutions knowing that life will take that as a challenge sometimes. Instead, I declared that this year I would be “better.” This means that as much as I may have gotten off track last year, as long as I don’t do what I did last year, I qualify as being better. Now, to some that may seem to be a low threshold; after all, not doing what you did before does not make you your best, right? Wrong. Continuously striving for better gets you ever closer to that elusive “best;” however, if I can never see improvement, it is much easier to get stuck in the mire of “not good enough.” I refuse to be stuck.

So, no matter how far off from your resolve you have wandered, I have some breadcrumbs to get you back on track. Each day that seems a bit off, strive to do the next day differently. The beautiful thing about life is that there are numerous chances to start again from right where we are. It’s up to us how many times we take advantage of the fresh start. So, maybe this first month of the new year has challenged you and won, but tomorrow is another day for you to fight back. Are you ready?

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Tangled Up

I was minding my business when a colleague approached me asking for a favor. I used to automatically respond, “Sure, what do you need?” Not anymore. I have gotten myself into some sticky situations by automatically agreeing. 🙂 So, as I waited for her to tell me what she wanted, she held up a tangled necklace and asked if I could fix it. Now, staring at the mess in front of me, I wondered how in the world she thought I could fix it, but she had faith in me that I could. So, I watched myself (kind of an out-of body experience) reach out my hand to accept this jumbled mess. I told her I would get to it in a bit, but as I stared at the mess before me on my desk, I could not resist at least trying to get it right. The going was intense. Every time I thought I had fixed the mess, another tangle seemed to appear out of nowhere. At some point, I felt myself getting frustrated and almost deciding that it was not worth trying, but I kept going. When I heard myself in my head giving myself a pep talk, “Slow down. You’re going to get it. Just one loop at a time.” the chore became more of a puzzle. I love puzzles, so that worked for me. Finally, I got to the last knot, and I began to hurry because the suspense was almost over, but then it seems the necklace got more tangled. So, I remembered my advice to myself and I slowed down. After what seemed like forever, I finished untangling the mess, and came out with a beautiful necklace. Now, I am patting myself on the back for a job well done.

As I untangled the necklace, I thought about how life happens, and sometimes the decisions we make or the decisions others make regarding us leave us in a bind. We get tangled up and frustrated, and many times it may seem that we will never be able to straighten out the knots and twists that life has brought to us. But, just like the necklace took time and patience to untangle, so do our lives. The great thing about life is that things can always get back to “normal”, but it is the twists and turns that make it a bit more interesting. Even when our lives get jumbled up, there is always an opportunity for us to get ourselves together. Just as I had to help my colleague, sometimes, we have to help others untangle their lives. Even if it is left to us to fix the “mess” of our lives, we have to remember that some messes can’t be fixed immediately, but they take time, patience, and some setbacks. The blessing is that when we work to fix it, we appreciate the finished work.

Maybe your life has seemed like that necklace. A mess.  Tangled up. Confused. Maybe it seems impossible to fix. But, I challenge you to take it one “knot” at a time. Keep working at it. Don’t give up when things seem to get more difficult. Just keep in mind the image of what you want your life to be, and work towards that goal. After all, we are all “a mess”, but we don’t have to stay that way.