THE SHAPES OF CHANGE

How do you answer the question, “Do you like change?”

Are you quick to answer with a “No!”?

Do you want to know the parameters of change before you answer?

Do you thrive on change?

I’ve always viewed myself as someone who can maneuver through change quite easily. That is, once I built a strong foundation that I could trust. It took years to build that foundation. It’s held me through thick and thin and I’ve caught, dodged, or hit the curve balls thrown at me – especially with that unwanted change that likes to sneak up hard and strong. I’m not afraid to step up or walk away when needed.

Change. It’s a funny thing. How it can be so welcoming when you want to lose weight, start a family, get your driver’s license (my boy is 16, I am reminded of how awesome this is) or set new goals. And on the same token how frustrating it is when you have to change. Lose weight you have to restrict what you eat. Start a family, you have to share your time with someone else. You want to drive by yourself, you need gas money, insurance and a car! Set new goals, you have to work to meet your commitments. Change is hard, even when it is a welcoming change.

What do you do when it is an unwanted change? You are laid off, the death of a loved one, your health declines, you age and your body just doesn’t move like it used to. Humor is always a good tool; however, not always useful. You can lean on your foundation – the people in your life who you know are your cheerleaders. If you don’t have that foundation yet, begin to build it. Seek a counselor to get you started and help guide you through the process. You’d be surprised how many friends in your life who want to be that foundation for you. Know your core values and focus on them. Your core values will keep your focus moving forward so you can grow stronger in spite of that unwanted change.

If that wasn’t enough, change doesn’t just shape our surroundings or bodies. Change shapes us on the inside, too. A shaping that I have felt the tugs and pulls lately. When my husband and I decided to uproot our family and move, we knew it was the best decision for us. And, it has been – Hands down! Yet, there has been a change inside that feels different. Unwanted. Becoming an emergency communications officer, or 911 operator as most know it, I have gone through a huge wave of emotions that I never experienced before. Perhaps I have experienced them, but with the multitude of changes in my life I am experiencing them differently. I find myself fighting with the encounter of change reshaping me. I also find myself embracing the pulls and tugs. It’s opening a part of me up that I thought I had “dealt” with and pushing me to really process that part of me.

What do you do when you feel the shaping of change from the inside out? I honestly believe it is one of the hardest forms of change to embrace. It has been said it takes 2 months to form a good habit. Allowing the changes of how you think, feel, view situations and experiences is not something that can be formed in 2 months. Not like making a better choice on snacks or setting goals. This change that truly reshapes you from the inside will take a driven tenacity to develop. Whether you are becoming more sinister, finding your confidence, losing or finding hope the reshaping will take time.

In the beginning, I asked if you liked change. I imagine your answer was based on how change applies to your life at this moment as I mine did. For the most part, change is easy to identify. It is reshaping everything around us and who we are. Undoubtedly, we will encounter both change we seek and change we wouldn’t wish on our enemies. In both cases, having the tools and resources will help us persevere the reshaping happening in our lives.

WHERE HAS TIME GONE

I can’t believe I haven’t been active on this site for over a year. My old subscription has laspsed and I don’t recognize my site. I’ll need to clean it up one day. A lot has changed in my life…hasn’t it for all of us? Unlike for many it wasn’t COVID that caused the changes…although it has been an unpleasant addition to life. I should have gone back to see where I left off, but honestly, I don’t think it will really matter. I am not the same person. I don’t have the same goals. I don’t look at this blog to be anything more than to document my goals, lessons, and ah-ha moments.

Box Lake. Last year after my move to this mountain range I know nothing about. I will enjoy getting miles in new places this year.

Where am I at today? I just signed up for a 20 mile race with 5000′ gain. I haven’t ran anything more than a good 5k in over a year. I’ve had long day runs, that added up to 15 miles, but there were lots of breaks/walking. It wasn’t easy, but I at least see with a little practice, I can find my groove. I am also looking to be more disciplined that before. I know what to expect on long runs, and what I am capable of. It can be more if I push myself harder than I did before in my training. I always looked at training as just getting my feet wet for the big race. I see now if I don’t put the work in during trainings the big day will not be as awesome. I will never run to win. I am just not that person. Instead, my mindset has changed to wanting to be better than I was before. And for me that should be a good goal.

Blah, Blah, Blah. Running is not my life. It never has been. Maybe that is why I didn’t push myself. Yet, I do love it. I see I am a happier person when I head out on the single track and get miles in. It will be harder now, because my running partner, Vivi, is older and she can’t put the miles in like she used to. She will….but she will suffer for it later. And as a pup mom, I can’t do that to her. So…I have to learn to run on my own. Which will be a huge change to my mountain running. I will also be less distracted at trying to keep an eye on that crazy pup. And, water breaks for her. And with that, I won’t get those added breaks I always got when I took care of her. So…needless to say, there will be a bit of adjustment with my training.

You never know which way to go, especially when they are both pretty well beat. I chose the right path. Right after the hill, they met up again. I guess the time spent thinking which way to go was unnecessary.

No frills. Just wanted to get this started and remember how it was to write, and this time for myself. If you read and enjoy…yay! This journey of life is something we can learn from each other. Do know, I enjoy reading about your life stories and adventures. I love learning from you and applying it to my life when it fits.

Happy 2022. Let’s see what this year brings.

OFF THE BEATEN PATH – SINGLE STORY

I saw this amazing TED Talk from author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie about the danger of a single story specifically about culture. A single story can limit ones understanding of a culture or a person. In her TEDTalk, she shares many personal examples of her experiences with the absorption of single stories. She believed what she read, heard, or as an adult what she experienced. She says, “show the people one story, over and over again, and they will believe that single story.”

chimamanda

I took the time to ponder over my childhood and how I may have perceived a certain culture. Whether it be Mexico, Africa, Europe, Asia or Pakistan. Did I have a single story of what I thought about the country and its people? I came to the conclusion I did, based on what I was taught in school, or what I saw on TV. Although, at my age there were mostly cowboy and Indian shows so I had a single story about my own country.

Chimamanda also spoke of how single stories create stereotypes. She says, “not that stereotypes are not true, but they are incomplete, making one story the only story.” She says she “feels it is impossible to engage with a place or person without engaging in all the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of a single story is it robs people of dignity. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar.” She continues to say, “when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about a single place, we regain a kind of paradise.”

story

Shall we all go see what the story is today?

Right now, America has a single story covering our land; and, depending on who you talk to is what story you will get. All whites are racists, all police are corrupt, all looters are criminals, all blacks want black supremacy, this whole country is going mad. Listen to the people around you and you will hear the single story they believe.

If we all stop for a minute, and look around us, we will see there is not a single story. We are robbing ourselves dignity as Chimamanda points out. We are not allowing ourselves to heal and recognize the stories that have brought us together, instead there is focus on the differences of cultures within our one culture. There is bad in every story, but the bad is not the entire story.   We should be careful to recognize one story as the only story.

As I continued to think over my idea of cultures and single stories I recognized how I have not held onto the idea of a culture that I had as a child.  I grew, I learned, I observed and I realized there are much more to this world, each country, that I can ever possibly understand.  I may have a first impression of a person, but I can easily change that instinct when I get to know them and realize how off I was.  Learning about a country is like that.  Watching countries change, evolve, sometimes backwards, sometimes forwards has showed me we are all the same inside.  We all want to be happy, healthy, and prosper.  I have learned and continue to learn about cultures and diversity and acceptance.

acceptance

Perspective.

If you haven’t heard Chimamanda’s TEDTalk I recommend it. I know you will enjoy it as much as I did. She speaks of America as having more than one story. I do agree America has many stories due to our diversity, but it is within those stories that creates single stories that is dividing our country right now. It’s a war against single stories.

What can you do this week to reject the single story you hear?

OFF THE BEATEN PATH – COMPASSION

Many of you who follow me are from the US. Some of you are not, but you are likely aware of what the US has been facing as a nation. There is no country who wasn’t built on the backs of others. But America is the land of the free. We have built our nation to be one of unity, equality, and freedom for all. Except, the slaves – black people. And the Native Americans. Those two groups had to wait for a long time to earn their unity, equality, and freedoms.  And many question if they even have it today.

I have been struggling with understanding the hate directed towards myself, a white person, who comes from a diverse background. I turn white in winter and dark in summer. I don’t have a heart full of hate and racism, or pride because of my white skin. I have envied skin tones of many people of differing races. It is difficult to hear I am a white supremacist because I have white privilege.

compassion

Like many white people those words caused the offensive hairs on my back to rise. I am being told I should be ashamed of my white skin. I should be ashamed of the privilege I have because of how I got it.  It’s hard for black people to recognize I was born white. I did not choose my white skin, just as they did not choose their black skin. But, as a white person, I can do something about it.  I have been hearing I should stand up against the institution created by whites allowing me my privilege.  And if I don’t, I am a supremist.

Besides not being profiled like a black person is in society, the institution has not helped me.  I have not received any special privileges to buy a home, go to college, or own a business.  To group all whites together as supporters of privilege is the same as grouping all blacks together as thugs. Are there bad whites in this world, heck yeah! Are there bad blacks in this world, heck yeah! And, Satan uses these bad souls to divide and conquer. Instead of searching the hearts and souls of people, especially friends, we choose to bundle each other in packages.  Hurtful words are chosen that make it hard to find our unity.

compassion

I feel there have been huge strides towards equality. There are increasing numbers of black people in positions of power, leadership, and owners of businesses. No one “gave” them that status. They earned it with hard work and the dedication to be successful. Just as many white people did the same thing.  There is a huge gap in various parts of our country where deep seeded prejudges – on both sides – is still very prevalent. Those areas of America are not the majority of America. Those areas are a hurricane of  discrimination and hate coming from all sides that leaves destruction in it’s continual spinning of hate.

compassion

We, as Americans, need to look at society as a whole and identify the love and support vs the hate and rejection. If we continue to identify our struggles by “them vs us” we will never find unison. There will always be division. If our eyes are closed to the people who are different colored skin choosing to live in love and create a space that is nurturing to all then we are rejecting their love and support. We can’t tell another group how to feel, how to support, by using hateful words and memes. We can’t tell a group because they don’t speak up they are not in support. We all have gifts and strengths, and we should be allowed to use them to our abilities and not be judged harshly because we don’t meet someone else’s expectations.

So, compassion.

It’s hard to see people acting with compassion when they don’t meet our expectations. And yet, compassion is the first step to brining change to a world of sufferings. If we don’t allow a group who is struggling to understand without the first step of having compassion – the sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others – without tearing them down, then we can’t expect them to want to take the next step toward being part of the change.

Give each other the same amount of compassion, respect, so we can learn from each other. Speak with love and kindness, because you catch more bees with honey. If you are not catching the bees with honey, they are probably not a bee. My unintelligent way of saying, there will be people – both sides – who will never be open minded. Let’s not confuse everyone as such. Let’s be open, kind, allowing safe conversation, people to be honest so they can share their hearts without concerns of hate being returned because “they don’t get it”.  Black people should know this very well.  Their voice has been suppressed for a long time.  Taking power of white people who voice their confusion by calling them ignorant and supremacist is not going to make white people seek answers.  Many white people don’t get it, because they have not received any special privileges from the institution blacks want us to stand up against.  Maybe together….as a human race…we stand up against the institution.

compassion

I am not one who is pushed over easily anymore.  I lived a life of pleasing everyone and saying what I felt people needed to hear.  I try to be informed.  Learn, from all sides.  I have black people tell me I am a supremist because of my white privilege, and I have white people tell me I am brain washed because I believe there is white privilege.  What neither side sees, is that is not compassion.

That only shows indifference.  Suppression.  If I am not with you, I am against you.  But, the thing is, maybe I am not for you because I believe in equality.  I believe in learning about the hurts black people face, and how I am privileged, and where I can find my voice to fight against a system that has suppressed blacks and minorities for too long.  I do believe there is forward movement.  I won’t say there isn’t, no matter how many of my black friends disagree.  Just like I won’t ignore my privilege as a white person no matter how many of my white friends disagree.

Compassion.  My heart is heavy with the pains I see in my country.  I have shed tears.  I am white.  I should have no reason for tears, but I do.  I am a daughter of God.  I am filtering through the emotions of many, and trying to learn to give it all to God.  Soften my heart, God.  Show me my voice.  Help me understand.  Help others understand.

compassion

This is a long post.  But before I go, I saw a FB live going around on my feed.  I loved it.  I am choosing to respond to the anger with love.  And, this post is the best example I can think of.  I wish I could share it with you, but I haven’t learned how to do that on my blog yet.  Haa, rookie!  Here is what captured my heart.  The post started with the 4th paragraph, but I feel all of Romans 12 should be shared.  She also refered to Psalms 82.

Romans 12

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.

For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.  For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.  We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.  If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is serving, the serve; if it is teaching, then teach; if it is to encourage, then give encouragement; if it is fiving, then give generously, if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully.

Love must be sincere.  Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.  Be devoted to one another in love.  Honor one another above yourselves.  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need.  Practice hospitality.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Live in harmony with one another.  Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Do not repay evil for evil.  Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone.  If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.  Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written” “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.  On the contrary:

“if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.  In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

 

I choose to start with compassion…for all my friends of all races.  From there, we can find our way.  I trust in God to lead us.

All my love!!

 

Off the beaten path is a weekly feature where I discus a topic that enlightens, motivates, and allows us to process topics that relate to mental and virtuous strength.  Join me every Tuesday off the beaten path and allow yourself to reflect your personal unexplored journey among pines.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFF THE BEATEN PATH – DISCONNECT

I apologize my weekly feature has been delayed a day.

I was off the grid this weekend on a family camp trip. Weekends are my time where I truly get to sit in stillness as my thoughts turn into words. I did have stillness this weekend before my family woke; however, I left my laptop at home and chose reading over writing. This weekend was for disconnecting and enjoying my family.
Keep on Reading!

OFF THE BEATEN PATH – BE BOLD

Where does your mind take you when you hear the word bold? 

For me I think about a gleeful lady who is wearing a fabulous hat displaying colorful flowers, big brimmed glasses, and the eye-catching lipstick that just doesn’t quite match.  She is fearless, lovable, and BOLD!  I also think about a person who isn’t afraid to speak their mind.  Whether it be to friends, coworkers, a superior, or when facing an organization who isn’t used to people standing up to them.  That person isn’t afraid to be bold with their words or actions.   

I was invited to do an online prayer devotional starting May 1st.  During one of the readings the word bold caught my attention and has been on my mind since.  The devotional spoke of a man who prayed a bold prayer.  The author said the prayer was bold, risky and the man had shameless audacity to pray a specific prayer.  It got me to thinking about the word bold and how it applies to me.  Not only in prayer but my life in general.   

Which leads me to ask, what do you think of bold in terms of your own life?

Bold is a characteristic people associate with strength, courage, and may even consider it controversial.  However, I see being bold as a positive attribute.  When you are bold you are revealing to the world you are original.  You don’t “follow the pack”.  You may have a pack, but within that pack you have an exclusive quality that externalizes confidence.

Being bold doesn’t mean you are close-minded.  There are some people who may view your boldness as a negative quality, but I assure you that is only because they can’t control you.  Being bold is knowing who you are.  What you believe in.  What you want in life.  Not altering it because others don’t understand it.  People who live bold lives are influencers.  Don’t confuse it with Instagram influencers.  Bold people are influencers of gratification.  Open to learning from the mistakes they’ve made as life lessons.  Allowing others the same compassion. 

earningh

Where can you be bold this week?

Being bold doesn’t have to be a big production.  It can be as simple as choosing not to partake in the office gossip.  Or, since some of us are still in quarantine, choosing to not forward the negative social media post.  Perhaps this week you choose to be conscious of where your mind takes you.  How often are you finding yourself withholding your thoughts because you are afraid of what others will think.  How often do you find yourself speaking up – and if you do, are you considerate, or are you using your power to be right?  Observe how you define being bold in your life. 

Are you Bold in…

Character

Forgiveness

Consistency

Trailblazing

Compassion

Distinctiveness

Intention

Fearlessness

Prayer

Appreciation

Friendship

Faith

Courageousness

Individuality

Ambition

 

Talk it out. What are you doing to be bold in your life? Have you already found your boldness? Are you ready to see how being bold shows up in your life? I want to hear from you! Be proud. Be You. Be Bold.

Off the beaten path is a weekly feature where I discus a topic that enlightens, motivates, and allows us to process topics that relate to mental and virtuous strength.  Join me every Tuesday off the beaten path and allow yourself to reflect your personal unexplored journey among pines. 

FACING THE OBSTACLES

We all do it, right?

I found it has become easy for us to accept making mistakes. How many times have you heard, or even said, “I’m only human”? It’s as if we dismiss our mistakes because we understand the circumstances behind our mistakes. We are overloaded with work, too many things on our minds, miscalculated a number (easy mistake, right?), slight laps of judgement, the list can go on. The point is, we understand why we make mistakes and because of that we can accept them more easily. Keep Reading!

NO TRUER LOVE

Moms.

Can there be any truer love on earth?

Okay, I’ll get the elephant out of the room.  There are bad moms out there.  I know one gal who has a tattoo in Chinese that conveys “motherless”.  She loathed her mom and vowed never to be a mom.  There are inadequate moms who are missing out.  But, let’s not talk about those moms today.

Let’s talk about moms who show up.

woman carrying baby near grass

The relationship with your mom is exclusive.  Even if you have siblings.  God created your mom to be your safe place to grow for 9 months.  The personal bond formed between two heartbeats is indescribable.  You always seek your mom when you have exciting or heartbreaking news to share.  Your mom is your protected place.

But what does it mean to be a mom?  How can your mom have that much meaning to you?  You love your dad, and the bond is real.  And yet it doesn’t compare to the connection you have with your mom.  The closeness of your relationship doesn’t matter.  A child yearns for their mom (at any age.)

A mom feels her baby growing for 9 months, and her emotions spin uncontrollably.  Her thoughts are filled with the hopes and dreams not only for her child but for her as mom.  Can she do this?  Can she give this child everything they will need?  She doesn’t even know the levels of emotions she is about to experience.

woman in white spaghetti strap dress standing beside brown tree

I have yet to hear a mom say her child wasn’t the best thing to happen to her.  Motherhood is unsurpassed.  But it is also wearying.  It doesn’t matter the age one has a baby; she still has her own identity.  The stresses alone in this world make that difficult without the added pressures of her heart walking around.  But, that piece of heart is her world.  How easy and acceptable it is to lose her identity when she becomes mom.

A child starts their journey in this world guided by mom’s love.  They are the center of the universe in most cases.  The world is their oyster.  A child doesn’t see mom as a person.  A child sees mom as their person.  They feel they are in control. Gaining praise with every new accomplishment as moms focus is proudly on them.

As they age, moms start to say no – and children do not like this!  Where did this come from?  Why are they not in control anymore?  They begin to see more than mom’s praises in this world.  Friends, hobbies, sports, teachers, and their own individuality.  These provide the control they thought they had lost.

A mom sees her deep connection drifting away.  It is bittersweet.  She knows she must allow her child to grow, experience, and learn on their own.  She can’t always be there to scoop her baby up and make the world right.  Those days are cherished.  Now, she watches as her child matures.

portrait of a mother and daughter together

The title mom comes with unchartered territory. No matter how much research you do or how much advice you take, being a mom is a unique experience. Each mother is unique to her personality and each child unique to theirs. A mom will always long for the cuddles of her child, even as they become a parent themselves. A mom will always feel they could have done better. They only hope their children understand the level of their true love for them. Responsibilities are there, life happens, moms must continue to grow and develop along side their child. It isn’t the child that makes motherhood wearying. It’s life that advances as the desire for it to slow is denied.

It doesn’t matter if you were a fairytale mom or a complete disaster. Today is your day to celebrate putting your identity on hold for another person. Recognize the hard work that was entrusted to you. And appreciate the mom you were. As a mom, I speak for all of us, we are doing the best we can with what we have. And, that will get us through!

Happy Mother’s Day to all the Exceptional Mom’s out there!

On a personal note: Happy Mother’s Day to my mom. The path was rocky at times and it caused some tumbling. But, with all things that involve love, and enough tumbling, the rocky path became a smooth pebble stone pathway. Calming to walk on. Gentle enough to go without shoes. I love you, Mom. You have been a warrior and continue to be an example of perseverance, love, and devotion to God.

Mom and I

Love you, Mom. My wedding day, 2003. The flowers hadn’t shown up yet, so we “borrowed” some from the venue. My mom made my dress. A true testament of love.