An upside down kind of way

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“No one does that anymore,” my eldest sister replied. The fall day was hotter than summer, some tree leaves green, holding on to bonds of chlorophyll, and I wondered if  maybe even confused. The summer season had brought rain and temperatures a season ahead, while now this mid September morning we walked a park trail, sleeveless and sandal footed, a ‘record breaking temperature day’ with heat warning announcements. Summer was fall, and fall is summer.

An upside down kind of day.

My eldest sister resides in the acronym known as the GTA-Greater Toronto Area. I’d hopped over for a weekend visit when work took me from my mid-Alberta city, to northern Ontario. Lifting off from a one terminal airport and just a quarter of an hour later, I wheeled my camera gear backpack behind me for the longest trek of my trip–the gate to the luggage carousel. I’m thankful at these times that I’m a flats wearing gal, even the laced up running shoe looking kind.

Oh, don’t get me wrong though! I struggle with this as the comparison kicks in, the “I am nots…” Not as professional, not as chic, not as smart. And then, it’s subtle, but there. These women, in there runway dresses, jewels, and beautiful, heeled shoes are better than me. I pass them by, walking the carpet, on the escalator, in my yoga pants and laced  canvas walking shoes, my lips bare and just a touch of mascara (maybe), and hold my head high telling myself, it’s okay to be me. This is who I am, and that is who they are. And I love that their sylin’ so nicely!

I tell myself, we’re all okay, no matter the shoe we wear. But I’m saddened too, as I know, even in mid-life, my struggle to not compare is still there. And as I stand comfortably, waiting for my checked luggage to drop down the carousal shoot, fleeting thoughts not captured cross my mind. Why the need to compare? Why the need to feel less than due to being the girl that picks flats over heels, and bare-faced over foundation, and backpacks over purses? When did this comparison start? And when does it end? I think of another friend who recently left her job at a plastic surgeons office where girls of 16 years old, with volley ball bodies came wanting butt lifts.

“Why?” is all I can ask her.

“I blame the Kardashian’s,” she says.

Ha! I smile. It’s a good, witty answer. But not the answer. I can’t be sure, but possibly the Kardashian’s are victims too, of the comparison. But instead of motivated by another’s look, maybe they are motivated by others needing to look at them.

Comparison in an upside down kind of way.

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Oct11

My sister and I walk, the path curving upwards, wild grasses dotted with wildflowers I do not know the names of are on our left, maple and birch trees on our right. We keep the same pace, a Baby Boomer and a Generation X, the eldest and the youngest, with three in-between. Our parents passed on. We carry different stories of upbringing, but same family. I continue my reminiscence of my best friend, of riding our bikes, at eight years-old, to Nelson Park, where we slid down the bank to Nelson creek, and walked it’s edge and balanced on it’s stones to the other side and back again, in rubber flip flops that sometimes fell into the dark waters, leaving us barefooted and running in the shallow stream to catch them.

“No one does that anymore,” she repeats. “Parents won’t let their kids go alone to those places. It’s a different world.”

I nod. I agree. And saddened. Compared to my childhood days, it is a lot different. With my best friend, along those creek beds, sometimes hours would go by with little words between us as we navigated new stone pathways to cross the waters. Looking back now I can see I could be the introverted, quiet shy blondie, with the nail biting habit, and uneven bangs, without a thought there was anything wrong with me. As a child I dreamed of being free, freer to do whatever I wanted, lacking the wisdom that I was in a freedom. As I grew, and molded, I developed skills to be less shy and work in the, what I saw, dominantly extroverted world. In adulthood, I became free to make my choices, but choices where societal acceptance was a dominating variable.

An upside down kind of free.

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Now I type, at fifty-two, wearing loose lulu lemon jogging pants, a Hawk Nelson t-shirt, and bare-footed. Later I’ll be suiting up, in a skirt and jacket, the expected attire for a professional appointment. But my feet will be in flat-heeled black boots, and my trunk will carry my hikers prepared for creeks along the way. And in that creek, maybe there will be new waters to cross on stones still untouched.

 

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Just a little bit of happy

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“I can’t stop laughing,” said my 8 year-old granddaughter. And her candy-coated laughter continued to erupt as she stayed on her feet while propelling usbubble in a jumbo bubble-wrapped balloon of plastic. Meanwhile I was on my knees trying to stand up (which is where I spent most of my time). Back at the starting point, tumbling out of the bubble’s door, we both wiped sweat from our foreheads. Her laughter burst on.

I giggled with her, her joy positively contagious (even though I wondered if I needed to call a chiropractor).

Ahh…Joy. Webster definition of this noun includes a feeling of great happiness.  When was the last time you did joy? Sometimes it needs to be almost intentional, doesn’t it? Or we might feel we need to get our work done, our relationships right, our finances balanced before we allow ourselves to experience joy.

But….look here! How, in His word are we directed to do joy?

Ecclesiastes 9:7 Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for God has already approved what you do.

He’s already approved what you do. You can do joy….now!

Doing joy could be making a cake, decorating a sugar cookie, drinking sweet tea on a park bench, visiting a bakery store with your favourite macaroons, or dining at that awesome ‘only the locals know about’ cafe.

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Ecclesiastes 3:12  I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live.

Joy could be doing a little bit of silly to make some happy, like having a (fun) battle at a wedding.

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Joy could be doing a bit of crafting, to create something for a smile of another.

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Joy may even be had after a long line-up for a once-in-a-life-time meet-up of Lightening McQueen.

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Joy could be doing a little looking at some shiny bling, or in that moment strapping on that luggage for the road trip.

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Joy could be in the doing of a little watching of feline creatures.

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Or in taking the time, that moment, to pick up that hobby you’ve left behind (but oh so wants you to be happy).

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And doing joy could be while doing good when volunteering. And even sweeter joy meeting ‘the band.’ (Tim and Glory Boys at Youth Conference 2017, Red Deer, Alberta)

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What is your list of joy, my friend? And what is one thing you could do today, even if small or silly, to “to be happy and to do good“?

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

A place to re-start the party-FMF

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I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday where we are instructed to “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.” This week’s prompt is “Place”.

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In the slower days of summer, I am led to thoughts that create new adventures. I sometimes though ponder the thoughts of measuring how well something was doing in the past, and why now it seems to have changed, along with my passion for it. Or, a better description may that my intention is changing.

I ponder about going back to a place where it seemed more productive, more passionate. Don’t get me wrong though! Even with those essential “P” words, the place could be hard work full of sweat and tears too.

This place was in the days when I was awake at 4 am and writing. I was writing my teenage novel at the time, as well as contributing at least 3x per week in a new forum to me–blogging. My first blog was call Connecting Stories, over on the blogger platform. There I met, never physically, but through many words and correspondence via comments mainly, other writers. Most were fiction, as I inspired to be, as well as teachers of writing. I even entered contests and received a honourable mention at one place, won others. As well, it was a time where blog awards were given by other bloggers–fun badges you could post on your blog like  “encouraging blogger”, “sweetest blog,” and “amazing commenter.”  And blog hops were hopping, and popular!

It was a time where no one seemed left out of the party too. If someone visited your place, then you would for sure go to hers/his, and leave a comment, making a new or cultivating a connection. I still have a handful of bloggers from those days that I connect with today and consider friends. So, lately I’m feeling somewhat nostalgic for that other place of mine, Connecting Stories, and considering writing again there with the focus on writing!

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Do you write on multiple blogs with different focuses? Do you feel it important to connect by commenting on the blogs of those who left you comments?

#FMF – Click here for more!

Being lovely

It was such a lovely day, and the sky and the sea were so blue. They sat eating and drinking, gazing out at the sea, watching the waves break over the rocks…Enid Blyton, writer (1897-1968)

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Our prairie waters in my part of the province do not have waves breaking over rocks like the seas on the east and west coast. However, the glass-like shimmer of calm lakes under an aqua coloured sky dotted with milky clouds can make for a lovely day. I’ve had those lovely moments this summer while spending weekend time with family in campsites of tents, dirt roads, and mountain ash trees. Or while paddling in my small (and very stable) kayak.

You have to schedule time for yourself even if you have no idea what you’re going to do with it. Susie Bright, author 

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The summer season has been a new time for me, with no two week vacation planned, or scheduled days off work. Instead, when no festival or camping outing is on the agenda, it’s been working on checking off lists of projects left to the long days like house painting, cupboard and closet organization. Although, even with all the time that seems to be, all the time I let open for completions, many improvements are still to be.

And, it’s okay.

We constantly feel like we need to improve ourselves, but in fact, we’re already pretty great. We just need to see that. Leo Babauta, writer

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With our social media feeds bombarded with how to be more productive, with our bookstores that dedicate sections to how we can be richer, be skinnier, and be faster achievers, writers, and cooks, sometimes it can get confusing of what is it to really ‘be.’

Yet, it can be so much simpler, can’t it?… of how we are to be, when taking in the words of Paul.

 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Philippians 4:8

And being in that way can make all days lovely indeed, yes? And remind us no improvements needed when we look to who we really are.

Linking up with Patricia Holbrook today! May you be recharged by all these lovely writers by clicking the link below.

Soaring with Him Ministries

Don’t try so hard-Five Minute Friday

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I’m linking up with Five Minute Friday where we are instructed to “Write for five minutes on the word of the week. This is meant to be a free write, which means: no editing, no over-thinking, no worrying about perfect grammar or punctuation. Just write.” This week’s prompt is “Try.”

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

I remember it like it was yesterday. Many years ago I woke up, swollen eyed, and stomach caved in from an emotional meltdown. My roommate at the conference centre where our retreat was being held, pulled out her cell-phone.

“I think the Holy Spirit is telling me I need to share this song with you,” she said. And from the speakers of her phone, Amy Grant’s voice sang, “Don’t try so hard.”

Well, of course tears sprang to my eyes more! Yet, also a comfort. The Spirit was letting me know that all my trying to be okay, to be better, and more perfect was unnecessary. I was (am) okay just the way I am. At the time I was trembling in comparison, and in insecurity, believing I could never be perfect enough, and my inner critic was telling me “there’s something wrong with you!”

But Amy Grant’s words spoke the truth I needed to hear.

“He gave you His love and He’s not leaving
Gave you His Son so you’d believe it
You’re lovely even with your scars
Don’t try so hard”

The goal, my friends, is never to try to be perfect, but to press on toward the knowing of who you ALREADY ARE as His beloved–loved just ’cause you’re you.

Visit Five Minute Friday for more inspiring reads from fine writers!

 

In-Spir(e)-it (Five minute Friday)

(This post is part of the Five Minute Friday Link Up. One topic is chosen and you have Five Minutes to write. This week’s prompt is Inspire.)

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Inspiration. It’s something artists always are searching for, to help make the creations that often start first as a feeling, a nudge. Sometimes it is a vision, yet to receive that vision, an inspiring event may happen that could just be a passing moment of a door closing, a child’s laugh, or a sprouting flower in clay. Regardless, it is something artists long for so they can create, and live more fully.

As I was driving the highways yesterday, listening to an author on writing, he addressed finding inspiration in a way I had not heard before. And he defined it as in-spirit. It is when we are in-spirit that the inspiration flows. In other words, the in-spirit is the One who is already within us. It is the One who is our creator and thus, when we create from that place of in-spirit, we are being our complete and authentic selves. And that is what touches the readers, or the ones who scan our photos, or eat our decorated cakes,  or stroke our knitted blankets. When creating from the in-spirit place we are bringing more Love-His spirit- into the world.

Keep creating my friend. You are making the world a better place!

To read more inspiring post, make sure and check out the other links at Five Minute Friday Link Up!

The Builder

When I found myself in a new office, perched on the edge of the tan leather couch, not quite comfortable yet, I knew I’d reached another pivot. Or maybe the better description would be a place where, looking at all I’d built, was like looking at a place in the sand where once a castle stood.

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Now the castle is no longer, admired then washed away from an incoming tide, or maybe by the passing of time. I couldn’t be sure. But what I knew, the place where the castle laid is empty. And that’s how I was feeling.

Empty.

“What’s the point?” I asked

“Good question,” my coach replied. And with a tilt of his head, leaning back in his night-black office chair he asked, “What is the point?”

I’d built lots, you see. I’d done lot’s you see. Even done a lot of events to help the homeless, help people draw closer to God, help others to connect with friends, old and new. Wasn’t all this serving suppose to fill me, make me energized and whole, instead of burned out? Instead of empty?

If empty is the result of all this serving, what’s the point of doing?

Have you ever been there, my friend? Burned out and empty?

And wondered, what is the point? 

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Believe me I have, and it’s a struggle! But I’m learning that whenever we wrap ourselves in something, in the something other than the knowing that we already are complete because of who we really are, we will feel unsatisfied.

The Word says:

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1

Whenever searching for something, doing something, and looking for fulfillment outside of Christ, we will not feel satisfied and maybe even empty regardless of our endeavours.

The good news?

We are already complete in Christ.

For in him we live, and move, and have our being. Acts 17:28

…and in Christ you have been brought to fullness….Colossians 2:10

And God is always offering us to be filled by Him, be filled of His living water.

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Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10

Where is your identity? In what you build, or the One who builds all? 

Are you taking the journey today, my friend? Are you journeying on His words that you are complete, and His Beloved right now, no matter what you do or what you have done?

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Sandcastles will always wash away, beloved, but build them anyway! It’s ok. For your identity is not in what you build, but the One who built you. 

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(Interested in personal coaching to point you toward your identity in Christ, who God made you to be? You can find out more by clicking on my Personal Coaching Tab or visiting my website at Inspiring Hope In You)