Monday, August 29, 2016

Stepping into a new season

Whether we are ready or not, the season of Fall will soon be upon us.  The carefree, summertime schedules and activities and spontaneous gathering of friends on a summer evening will soon give way to a different pace.  The start of school and new activities revolving around sports or music or community events will demand a tighter reign on family time.  It can be an exciting time as the new routines are fresh and full of fun possibilities, but it can also become overwhelming if life becomes too hectic and draining trying to meet the needs and expectations of so many.  

On one hand, I am ready for the cool, crisp Fall weather as I do not feel well in the heat and humidity.  This summer was a hot one even for CT!  Whew!  The crazy weather fluctuations had me lying flat out in my dark bat cave with AC and not popping outside until the evenings.  Bummer.  On the other hand, I am not quite ready to let go of summer because I secretly wish for a "do-over".  Many of my plans of people to see, places to go, and things to do sat on a dusty shelf.  Life had other plans...

For me, I desire to be intentional about stepping into a new season, and I don't mean just Fall.  I want to be intentional about stepping into a new season of deeper faith, more trust, and an increased surrender to God who knows what is best for me and my family.   Stepping into an attitude of grattitude under all circumstances will take courage. I want to prepare myself for this process of "stepping in" by trusting and "letting go".  May God grant me his glorious grace.  

So as we all step into a new season of our lives, I will leave you with these words and reflections from an author, John McQuiston II, in his book, "Always We Begin Again, The Benedictine Way of Living". 

"This is the gift we have been granted---the potential to experience all that comes to us in this life
 In complete confidence, love, and joy;
 To have the courage and strength 
 To put aside fear and despair;
 And to live each day
 In unquestioning trust in the divine providence
 Which has brought us into being."


Monday, August 15, 2016

My Rio story

For the past week and a half, I have been glued to my television or computer watching the Olympics like I am sure many of you are doing as well.  The games are so exciting, and I am captivated with all of  the athletes, their personal stories, and the thrill of the competitions.  The Olympics are keeping me entertained which is both a blessing and a curse.  They provide hours of distraction while I am "not at my best" , but the bad thing is that I should not be spending a lot of viewing time on screens.  I can't seem to win!!  Lol. 

However, I continue to watch and listen as I observe closely the absolute strength, focus, discipline, endurance, and perseverance these extraordinary athletes demonstrate. I am amazed.  They train day in and day out for years to even have the chance to qualify for the games.  Their big sized dreams come at quite a price not only to them but to those around them.  

Listening to their personal life stories that bring them to the Olympic competitions is what inspires me.  Many share their struggles, injuries, and set backs which entail both physical and mental challenges. Quite often, the athletes speak of their many obstacles as stepping stones which actually propell them forward in reaching their dreams of winning the gold medal.  

The athletes give honor to their families, friends, coaches, and other teammates because they know that their success hasn't been achieved walking the path alone.  It takes an entire dedicated support team to help them cross their finish line and medal!   I particularly like the story of Michael Phelps and his unique path of highs and lows and vulnerability.  His story matters because it possibly gives us insight into our own struggles and triumphs.  I also love the Jamacain runner, Bolt.  Who doesn't?  His large personality is engaging and fun.  The U.S.A. Women's swim team and their endearing smiles---learning a small tidbit of their stories makes us feel like we "know" them a little better each time they compete. 

My road to Rio looks and feels different from these real athletes who are currently competing. However, I get up each day and feel as though I am training for a marathon or some other grueling event.  I plant my feet on the floor each morning and breathe in some positive energy, set my intention, grab my team of amazing supporters, and try to move forward as best I can.  "Pray first, move second" is my motto.  I may be slow and may not get too far depending on how my head and body feel, but I keep with my training. Mentally and physically I try to keep a positive mindset while keeping my eyes fixed on my goals.  Some days I feel successful, while other days, the obstacles seem very daunting.  

Well, I may not win any gold medals at the end of a day, but that doesn't matter to me.  In my heart, I win knowing that I am surrounded by much love and support from those around me.  My faith gives me purpose and the strength I need to carry on while encouraging others to keep training as well.  

What does your road to Rio look and feel like?  How can your personal story matter to others if you allow it to be shared?  

May you all enjoy watching the rest of the games!!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Lessons learned down in the bunker

It is sometimes funny where we have the opportunity to learn life lessons.  Certain situations call for an openness to insight.  During my last bout of being "taken down by my tornado", I reflected upon my attitude while taking shelter, so to speak.  

It came to me on a particularly rough day that living with chronic M is like living in tornado alley---all the time.  Much like individuals who live in a community where they must constantly prepare for the next impending tornado,  I have to do the same.   There are particular warning signs that my body experiences which alert me to what is soon about to happen.  At first, I outright deny that it is going to really happen---AGAIN?  NOOOO!!  Not again!  Then, I have to settle down and focus on the inevitable reality.  The tornado is definitely headed my way.   Gulp.  

I take shelter.  I stop what I am doing and depending on where I am, I get home as quickly as possible.  I grab my migraine tool kit which is full of necessary supplies and head to my bunker.  My family room or bedroom is cool and dark and has the environment I need to survive the storm.  Sometimes I am alone, and other times, loved ones are right beside me.  Each tornado comes with a vengeance and leaves a nasty path of utter destruction which is highly unpredictable each and every time.  Scary.  

But when the storm is over and all starts quieting down just a bit, I learned I have two choices to make.  I can either stay down in my bunker taking shelter for fear of when the next tornado arrives, or I can open up the bunker door and step out into the light of a brand new day.  Let me be honest here, there are plenty of times I just want to stay and take shelter.  I am exhausted and weary physically and emotionally and wonder if it is worth going out.  That attitude is not a healthy one. That attitude won't put my feet on the ground to start moving forward again.  That attitude won't help me clean up all the strewn debris.   That attitude allows for a victim mentality which is simply not who I am in Christ.  

Instead, I try to intentionally choose to open the the bunker door, step outside into the glorious Light, and get back to living the rich life I have been given.  God provides every grace necessary to carry on while living in my tornado alley.  I may fail in my attitude at times, but God never fails in His love and care for me.  Never.  

Friends, in what circumstances do you find yourself learning some of life's tough lessons?  Where do you find answers? Is it easy or hard to change your attitude when it needs an overlhaul?  

I will let you sit and wrestle with those questions for awhile.