On “Be-living” and Blogging

As I have explained before, my focus for 2013 is “be-living” – not just thinking, not just doing, but trying to live at the balance point. At first that seemed like a passive word, an invitation to “sit around and wait.” That idea drove me crazy! I prefer to be active, moving, pursuing something. Last year’s focus of “walk” was bad enough. But the idea of an absence of movement has been stressful.

I haven’t done much blogging so far this year. I refuse to be a navel-gazing, woo-woo type of writer. If I’m spinning in circles mentally, I figure I’m already torturing myself and don’t need to inflict that on others. The combination of wrestling with “be-living” and struggling through unemployment has left me with little to say. Travel? FUN! Bewilderment? NOT fun!

"Be-living" -- passive or active?

“Be-living” — passive or active?

The first months of this year were easy: help friends with their little guys, try to maintain relationships while living a continent away, keep my youngest daughter focused on all the wonderful things to learn while living overseas, and enjoy some travel to new places. The “be-living” balance seemed to fall into place pretty easily: specific responsibilities, regular time for exercise, and unscheduled time for thinking.

Now that I’m home, balance has been harder to find. Some days the walls seem to close in around me as I wander around with nothing on my agenda. I get tired of mentally going down the same “rabbit-trails” I’ve thought about over and over and over again. I lack energy and will-power to get outside and get physically active.

Other days, I fill my schedule with activity. I run errands, go to the library, take kids on outings, take the dog on long walks, sort through boxes and boxes of “stuff” in preparation for an (eventual) move. There is movement but little time to think and little direction to the activity.

I am realizing that “be-living” is less about being and more about actively engaging in the moment. It is NOT being passive and trying to accept whatever comes my way. It is NOT giving up dreams and dreaming. It is NOT sitting around with nothing to say. (Yeah, those that know me are well aware that I can’t possibly sit around and not communicate!!)

This “be-living” challenge includes actively engaging in this moment, and this one, and this one. It is letting go of excuses about past failures or experiences and not making excuses to avoid future possibilities. It is forcing myself to quit making compulsive lists about future plans. (Okay, okay, so I’m still making SOME lists, but only killing a few trees in the process rather than decimating an entire forest for piles of paper, okay?!!) “Be-living” is active? It seems impossible? Great! Now it feels like something I can get excited about!

I’m sure that a fuzzy definition of “be-living” is not what was keeping me mired down. And I really can’t blame unemployment for feeling stuck (although it doesn’t help). I think I’m getting a handle on how to BE in a more active way. I will keep you posted on how this plays out. Guess I’ve got things to blog about after all…

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Pushing Past the Fears…

I have recently been pondering the difference between Risk-taking and “risky behavior.” Sometimes when I’m facing something challenging, fear steps in and tries to convince me that participating in that activity would be “risky behavior” (in other words, something “bad”) rather than merely “risk-taking” (or something “good”). In the past few weeks, I have stepped outside my comfort zone and tried some new (scary) things. Most of you know that when it comes to living outside the box or trying new adventures, I’m all in. There are indeed some areas, however, that scare me; some opportunities that fill me with fear rather than exhilaration.

(portrait by the wonderful Jo Blackwell—see more of her work HERE )

In the past month, a number of opportunities for stretching and trying something new came up. I wrote last week about attending a conference for Community Health Evangelism. I had no idea (and still have no idea!) how I would use this. But the cost was manageable and the topic was interesting. I’m glad I gave it a try…

Earlier this year, I downloaded information about training to participate in a (mini)Triathlon. I enjoy being challenged by the posts on the Impossible blog. I decided to follow the writer’s advice, and reach for a physically challenging goal, rather than just doing adventurous, outside-the-box things that I enjoy. I dabbled with training, signed up for a mini-tri at the beginning of September…and chickened out at the last minute….sigh… I hope to do more consistent training and sign up for another mini-tri at a lower elevation sometime next spring. (Looking back, I’m sad that I let fear overwhelm me…)

I wrote on my art blog last week about taking a risk and signing up to submit illustrations for possible inclusion in an upcoming book by a favorite inspirational author. When I read about the opportunity to participate, I was excited. Then I was convinced it wasn’t really for me. After all, I have no experience with painting, or with collage, or with illustrating anything in particular. I’m definitely not a professional artist. Who was I to think that I could do this? and…and…and…

I tried to forget about it. But it kept coming back, over and over. Finally, I decided to sign up. I could at least look at the passages and see if I even had any ideas of what to try. Besides, anyone who sent in a submission would receive a free copy of the book. That, at least, sounded good. Okay…deep breath…

I finally managed to shut up those fear-filled, despairing voices inside my head. I asked for two passages. I read them over. Ideas immediately came; pictures in my mind that could illustrate the words. I was still fearful, but moved forward. I don’t know what will happen with the submissions…but I already know pushing past the fears, taking a RISK, has given me more confidence in playing with art!

Finally, I participated in a recent “Prophetic Art” seminar down in Albuquerque. Again, this felt quite risky. I enjoy artsy things like crafts and scrapbooking. But “real art”? That doesn’t seem to describe what I do. I dabble. I play. I don’t see myself as an “artist.” Plus I struggled with the idea of “prophetic” art, as I explained in an art-blog post this week. Again, all those fears about not being professional, not being an experienced painter, not being good enough, shouted in my head. Again, it felt too RISKY to participate. But, again, confidence came as I pushed through the fears and attended the seminar.

These are little things in the big picture of life. But, perhaps, for me they will turn out to be “big things.” At least pushing past the fears and quieting the voices has given me a new level of confidence! And I guess that’s a good start…

Progress Report…

It is only 20 more days til I reach 50 years old! Still hard to believe that I’ve been on this earth for so long…and hard to believe there is such a short time left in this Personal Year of Jubilee.

portrait

a favorite photo from last May

I decided to take a look back–at the past year, at the plans I made for the year, and at my blog site. Here is a summary of what I have and haven’t done toward reaching the goals I set…

12 Monthly Focuses:

June: Cello — I practiced hard and realized I can still play a pretty mean cello. I also discovered a “Jazz Cellist” during the year. I wanna learn how to play like him! (And it’s a good thing I did some practicing to give me confidence—I’ve been asked to play duets with my violinist sister for my son’s wedding in October–EEK!)

July: 1000 Origami Cranes, October: Poetry, February: Daily Art Journal, and March: nightly Sunset Viewing — These really didn’t happen. I still like the idea of these things, I just never really got around to doing them. Maybe they will happen regularly at some future time…or maybe not.

August: Daily Photo Assignments — I really enjoyed these projects. And, yes, some of them were a stretch for me. I definitely want to do this occasionally in the future!

September: Prepare for Husband’s 50th Birthday — check! did a good job of this, if I say so myself 😉

November: Gratitude List, and April: walk 50 1 mile walks in honor of friends — I’m working at this. I have the list of people who have influenced my life, I have the list of lessons learned from them, and I’m gradually working at the 1 mile walks. It won’t happen in the 50 days leading up to my birthday, but I figure I can keep working at it until I finish the list, right?!

December: journal prompts to finish out the year, and January: personal scrapbook — I didn’t follow the plan I originally listed, but I did participate in making a Christmas Art Journal. I did most of the scrapbooking in October at a retreat with a friend. Both projects are well started…but I still need to finish them.

And here’s the update on my goal of 50 Activities for 50 Years:

Artistic: I got a tatoo just before the 4th anniversary of my son’s death in April (I’ll blog about this including photos soon), Anna and I have started a doll’s quilt with her doing most of the sewing, I have almost finished the animal coloring book (and will post scans, I promise!), and I am QUITE excited about a scheduled photo shoot while I’m in England in June. I also added: making a really cool heart to color as a gift for a friend

I sent a black & white line copy to my friend for her to enjoy coloring

, and signing up for LifeBook 2012 (an e-course with bi-weekly art projects).

Fitness: I would love to announce I have slam-dunked this category…but no, nothing has really changed! I have started walking more regularly. I have also started training to complete a mini-Triathlon sometime late summer or early fall. I guess that is a start…

Literary: I made my list of 50 books. I forgot all about Beowulf (gotta check the library this Wednesday). I’ve left a number of books in places for others to discover and take home. Memorizing poems? Nope, didn’t happen. But I have written a number of poems I’m quite pleased with! (see HERE and HERE for two I posted)

Entertainment: haven’t yet learned to play by ear—I think I’m switching that goal to learning Jazz Cello! And I haven’t watched many movies—those who know me, know I tend to get distracted and wander off! I did discover a new band that both Anna and I love—Pink Martini—in addition to going to a CD release concert by a wonderful singer-songwriter friend of ours, Alison Kitchen. Oh, and I discovered a wonderfully creative duo of Cello & Piano. Check out their videos HERE and HERE.

Other things: Never learned to milk a goat, train my dog for dog agility, or pick our own fruit. Did have a fun camp-out with Anna last June.

camping trip

Camping trip with Anna…and with my dog!

And I got a massage at the Scrapbook Retreat in October. (It was fine…but nothing I would spend money for in the future…) No paper quilt is in the works (although I still love the idea). I’m working on the walking project. And I’m QUITE EXCITED to be going to London England in late June to spend 2 weeks with my sister. YAY!

Weekly Plans? Not so much—again, these were great ideas, but most never happened—except for writing regularly on this blog. Now THAT is something I have enjoyed and plan to continue!

So…just 20 more days in the first half (or so) of my life. Then I move into the next phase. I’m looking forward to it…

A Mile of Thanks a Day

As explained on the button above, for the 50 days before I turn 50, I am walking a mile each day, thinking about and praying for someone who has influenced my life so far. I don’t know if each of these people would want their names listed on the internet…so in this post I’m just listing the things I have learned from them. I am THANKFUL for what each one has added to my life!

A Mile of Thanks Each Day...

  1. We laugh together, we solve the world’s problems (and our families’ problems) together, and we enjoy traveling together.
  2. God has knit our hearts together as we have shared the joys and sorrows of life.
  3. I wanna be like you when I grow up!
  4. We have formed a mutual admiration society as we spend time being “real” together.
  5. You are an example of vibrant living.
  6. You support me through tough times and share a zillion resources.
  7. Our relationship moved from struggling because of stark differences to becoming good friends.
  8. You encouraged my passion for EMS…and in the process became a friend.
  9. We shared our kids, supported our husbands through scary times, laugh about the “other wives,” and enjoy time together…let’s not talk politics, okay?!
  10. You are a wise woman—with words, questions and silences.
  11. You encouraged me to fight for my marriage.
  12. You have walked before us…down the grieving road and down the helping others through EMS road.
  13. You always have a smile…and get excited by even the little things.
  14. We are raising “chiefs not Indians” and now that your kids are grown you are pursuing your passions.
  15. We have walked the broken road together.
  16. Some may see you as lowly mechanics…I see a heart for God and a passion for letting God work through you.
  17. You have an attitude of joy—even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
  18. You have faced so many challenges in life—and still trust and love your Heavenly Father.
  19. You continue to live your priorities.
  20. You pursue your “loves.”
  21. Love watching you add new languages to your resume and new stamps to your passport. WHEN can we do that travel book together?!
  22. You stretch me to THINK and introduce me to fascinating new ideas and topics.
  23. Watching you reach for the next opportunity and the next and the next…I realize how much alike we are…
  24. Love watching you move into adulthood with thought and care…showing me changes I could make in my own life!
  25. Steady and Reliable…Glad I can lean on you…and that I get to watch you spread your wings and fly!
  26. You are like me: with strong emotions and seeing everyone as a friend, even those you haven’t yet met!
  27. For as long as we have known you, you LIVE life with God.
  28. Wear what makes you feel good…and SMILE!
  29. You made it clear you believed in me…even when I was a rebellious teen!
  30. You make beautiful even simple things and simple times with others.
  31. Live with GUSTO! (and take a nap when you have to)
  32. My photography improved immeasurably with your advice to “take a step forward” and “take a few more shots.”
  33. You got me off the couch…and doing the impossible (training for a “tri”)!!
  34. Keep on dancing!
  35. In my “dream book” I want to someday see each of my children happily married—you are the first to join our family.
  36. Many years ago you affirmed the value of stay-at-home-moms…and I pulled to the side of the road and cried…
  37. Every time I open my Bible to the epistles, I remember your advice (about book order…and indirectly about marriage!): “Peter comes first.”
  38. You love my kids so dearly…and you have worked hard to pursue your passion.
  39. Thank you for being “real” as you have walked the grieving road.
  40. Your life choices were an example to follow…and you gave good advice as we wandered the RV lifestyle.
  41. Years ago in a small group setting you were a clear model of a servant shepherd and an example of how to minister out of hearing God’s voice.
  42. Your life has given an example and encouragement over the years—sometimes in ministry it seems like nothing is happening…but God may eventually bring clear results!
  43. You have supported me and encouraged me to pursue my dreams.
  44. You didn’t let me quit when James died…and look where I am now!
  45. You are “steadfast and immovable.”
  46. You were in my life for a moment…and our hearts somehow are intertwined forever!
  47. Because of you we became shepherds…searching for a lost lamb and learning so many other biblical lessons first hand!
  48. You helped tease loose the knots in my heart and emotions so I am more open and free.
  49. You repeatedly asked a question: “Does it lead to LIFE?” which still echoes in my heart today.
  50. You changed your life and your lifestyle to keep in line with your passions.

Updates on Personal Challenges…

It’s hard for me to believe, but I am already one third of the way through my Personal Year of Jubilee! I thought you might like to have an update on how I am progressing on my personal challenges:

Checking off to-do items...

Click on the “12 monthly focuses” button on the top of this page to see what I have planned as monthly activities. I practiced cello 11 or 12 times during June. I seem to greatly enjoy myself once I actually sit down and get busy…but rarely take the time to do so. It was encouraging to find I could still play well–even with calluses on fingers gone and will muscles no longer accustomed to bowing. I didn’t manage to find all the wonderful origami paper we have stored (somewhere) so did not make any origami cranes in July. Guess this must not be as important to me as I thought!

I very much enjoyed the photography challenges I set for myself in August. You can see my plans by clicking the above “A Month of Daily Photo Assignments” button. I have “bolded” the challenges I worked on during the month. You can see the collection of photos on my Flickr account here Looking down the right side of the screen you can find the photos organized in sets according to the appropriate challenges. I plan to continue working on this challenge occasionally. I would like to complete all the various “assignments” I set for myself.

I have done some work on organizing some special projects for Randy’s 50th birthday (my challenge for September). I need to get busy to actually finish this up before his birthday comes and goes!

If you look at the “50 Activities for 50 Years” button above, I have dabbled with a few of these items. I have not yet gotten a tatoo–hopefully before my 50th birthday! I have enjoyed coloring in many of the intricate pages of the animal coloring book. I’ve camped out with Anna and enjoyed the stars (but was not actually sleeping under the stars). And I’ve sporadically worked on the weekly challenges: So far I have blogged twice weekly, although this is my first update on activities completed. I have walked some weeks, and have not walked for many more weeks. I have been saving money toward a trip to London next year, even if not at the hoped for rate. I have failed at doing ANY aerobic exercise…maybe next week? or the next one?? I am doing better at verbalizing compliments. And I have already started the scrapbook of ME (a challenge for early in 2012).

All in all, I’m happy with what I’m doing. Yes, there are lots of things I have NOT accomplished, but the purpose for all these lists was to keep me moving forward, and I’m certainly doing that.

 

“Miracles” DO Happen

It's a MIRACLE!

A miracle happened here last Friday night. I went to use the bathroom…and the roll of toilet paper had been changed! (Now maybe you have your family so well trained this occurrence is mundane at your house…but around here it is a miracle!)

The new roll was NOT just sitting on the edge of the sink. It was NOT propped precariously on top of the holder. The empty roll was in the trash can and the new roll was “clicked” firmly into its proper place. It was put in backwards (which really does make a difference when you have one of those fancy floor-stand holders.) But that’s okay—it was put ON the holder!

Now you may think I’m over-reacting. Yes, my husband does change the roll when the old one is completely empty. And I’m sure my older kids do the TP change-over themselves now that they live on their own.

BUT…my “baby” did this. The next generation has begun to take over the task…

You see, for years my mom and I have a running challenge going. If I change the TP at her house I get bragging/teasing rights. Same for her if she changes the roll at my house. Sometimes she has even “cheated” and moved an almost finished roll to “her” bathroom when she knows I’m coming, just so I won’t end up having to change it.

This has become both a running joke…and a way to do something little to help the other. And, last Friday night, Anna joined the party.

Thanks, Mom! And, thanks, Anna!

Emergency!

I have always been fascinated by medical things. For years I thought I wanted to be an RN (until I learned just how much authority they don’t have!) I dabbled with the idea of becoming a chiropractor, but couldn’t imagine the years of schooling required. Plus, like I explained in an earlier post, I really wanted to be a stay-at-home mom which felt incompatible with massive school debt. Not actually having any medical certifications has never dulled my interest. I’ve read a zillion books over the years about every imaginable facet of medical care, medical research, emergency care, wilderness medicine, and more.

First...ski patrol

Five or six years ago, I started down an interesting path. Like many starts and like many paths, I had no idea where I would eventually end up. It started innocently enough with a late-night ski session with my daughter, Nettie. There was a sign in the window of the First Aid Room—Ski Patrollers Wanted. I went in, “just to talk,” and a few weeks later I started the training program to become a certified Outdoor Emergency Care technician, also known as a “Ski Patroller.”

On the way to the first class, I fell apart in the car. I was shaking and crying and felt sick to my stomach. All I wanted to do was turn around and go home. I called a friend instead. As she prayed for me, I realized I was terrified of rejection. After all, I’m an overweight, older woman. I’m not the glamorous, athletic image most people have of Ski Patrollers. Who was I kidding?! I finally dried my tears, and finished the drive to class. I figured I could quit before paying the fees if it really wasn’t for me…

But…I loved it. I was finally learning and using medical skills. I delighted in the knowledge. I have always been good at memorizing information and taking tests. I really could do this!

...then EMT- Basic

And then in the fall, we started practicals classes. Oops! My mind went blank on the first scenario. I couldn’t think of ANYthing to ask or do. This time, instead of wanting to quit, I got mad. I went home and studied harder, determined to not just pass the eventual tests but to be GOOD at figuring out what to do in an emergency setting.

That first ski season started and I enjoyed the challenge. I could have fun skiing, I could keep my brain active, and I could actually help people while doing so! A friend who went through the classes with me only lasted one season. She hated the pressure. She felt like someone could be harmed or even die if she did not do everything perfectly. On the other hand, I thrived on the challenge. Each time I helped stabilize and treat an injured skier or boarder, all I could think was “if I do everything right I can save this person’s life…or at least make a difference in their recovery.”

someday Paramedic...

I have continued to walk down the path I started “way back when.” I became an instructor for OEC/Ski Patrol. I took the classes and passed National Registry as an EMT-Basic. And now? Now I am getting ready to start classes to become a Paramedic, looking toward to the eventual day when I can get certified to train local Navajo as First Responders.

I laugh when I tell people I finally figured what I want to be “when I grow up” (now that I am almost 50 years old!!) I wanna be a PARAMEDIC! I wanna help people in crisis and potentially save lives in emergencies. I wanna train others to do the same.

Looking back, I think it is quite interesting that one of the few TV shows I ever watched regularly was “Emergency.” Through middle school and high school I thrilled each week to seeing paramedics in action. (Later it was “M*A*S*H* and, more recently, House—all shows with a medical theme.) Now?? One of these days I may be one of them! I may be a “medical professional.”

Did it start with these guys??

Who would have ever imagined??

And YOU? What seeds were planted in your childhood of interests or dreams that you gradually left behind? Which seeds, if reconsidered, might bring enjoyment and fulfillment to your life today? Don’t discount where those paths might lead…

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