Over the weekend, I woke up a number of mornings with a sore jaw and sensitive teeth. I finally realized I must be grinding my teeth in my sleep. Ugh! I haven’t done that for years.

shadow boxingTaking time to think about it, I realized I’m stressing about an upcoming meeting. I cope fine with direct attacks or specific roadblocks. In those situations, I make my plans and ready for the fight. But this? It feels like I’m shadow-boxing, turning this way and that, trying to avoid an attack, trying to prepare an offense, all with no specific opponent clearly in sight. There has been no attack, no specific dissatisfaction voiced, no direct opposition. There are only innuendo, vague comments, and possible displeasure, all voiced with concern, stated in terms of “someone said…”

I HATE feeling like I’m at the mercy of others, especially ones who don’t seem to be willing to take responsibility for their own thoughts, concerns and feelings by talking to me directly.


Then I was reminded that I am NOT at the mercy of others—I’m under the mercy of God. On the one hand that is a comfort. My God is bigger than any obstacle or roadblock. He is the one who protects me from unknown assailants. I can stop shadow-boxing and let Him hold on to me.

On the other hand, God is not physically with me. I can’t SEE Him protecting me or working on my behalf. It’s easy to have faith when life is good. And when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I usually turn to God. It’s hard to have faith when I’m feeling strong but under attack…

handsGod works hard to catch my attention during those times that I’m independently readying for battle. The same day I realized what was happening and why my jaw was so sore, I had two encounters that were greatly encouraging. One was a person that has a vision for work which might end up being mutually beneficial with things we want to be doing. Another was a conversation with a few young men who gave me excellent ideas for resources and possible funding sources for future ministry in this area.

So…I guess I will try hard to stop the shadow-boxing; remember often that God really IS taking care of the details. I will unclench my fists and reach out for HIS help.  And maybe, just maybe, I will stop grinding my teeth in my sleep. It would sure be nice to get rid of this jaw-pain…


My One Word

I’ve been reading a wide variety of blogs recently…inspirational ones, artsy ones, Christian ones, and more. A number of them had posts about the same thing—a new-to-me alternative to making New Year’s Resolutions. I haven’t made those in quite a few years since I’m abysmal at following through. But this, I just might be able to do THIS throughout the year!

The idea is to choose “My One Word” for the year, then do whatever it takes to keep it in mind throughout the year. In reading the experiences of others, this focused pondering can become life changing, often in unexpected ways. Apparently a chosen word which seems simple and straight-forward can become deeper and more expansive as it is pondered and applied day after day after day.

Hmmm…I’m intrigued by the idea. So I went reading blog links to find out more… Some links felt like la-la land to me, some were too open ended to be of much help to my literal mind, others were too restrictive. Like Goldilocks, I finally found a blog that was “just right” for me. Click HERE to see it: (Warning: this blog is definitely written from a Christian perspective. If that bothers you, do a google search for other blogs and read til you find the one that is “just right” for YOU!)

This “my own word” blog has excellent step by step guidance for identifying possibilities and choosing your own personal word for the year. Starting sometime in the next few weeks, it will also have a place to sign up for regular emails throughout the year giving encouragement, insight, and “homework” assignments to help one get the most out of this experience.


As I started reading the guidelines, the word “walk” popped into my mind. “Nah,” I thought. “That’s nothing like the marvelous, inspirational suggestions here.” But that simple word kept coming back, over and over. Finally, I decided that must, indeed, be my word for the year.

I would still like it to be more flowery, more amazing, more artsy…I am a dream-chaser after all…but I think the word “WALK” does indeed fit. I want to get more exercise this year, but exercise plans just don’t seem to work. I need to walk forward into some difficult places. Sometimes I need to slow to a walk and not just jump over the cliff toward new ideas. So, yes, there are lots of possibilities for learning and changing found in this simple little word. Guess I’ll keep it and see where it leads.

I’m planning on posting updates on here occasionally—sharing what I’ve been thinking about, art projects I’m doing to process on this word, how things are changing (or not changing), how this word is working out. I’m looking forward to seeing how God uses this word in my life this year.

I posted a link to this blog on facebook a few days ago…and a number of friends have already joined me in this simple but profound project. I’m hoping many more will do the same. Check back occasionally and let me know how it’s going, okay?

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.


Too much? “No Worries…”

A few friends have expressed concern that I’m being too optimistic in what I have planned for this year. They worry that I will burn out. They worry that I will push myself too hard. They worry that I can not possibly accomplish all of it.

I get it. I understand their concern. BUT…

a significant theme for this year is to adopt the stereotypic Aussie attitude of “No Worries, Mate…” For those who have read the 50 Things To Do page, the list of proposed tasks is indeed long. But these are goals to shoot for. I am already happy with myself that I am even attempting to add health, and interest, and change to my life this year. Even if I do not finish everything on the list, I will still have finished far more than I would have, had I not set out “stretch” objectives.

"No Worries, Mate..."

I like what a friend said recently: “if you shoot for the stars and hit the moon instead, that’s still better than not trying at all and hitting nothing.”

So far (in the two weeks I’ve been at this), I have taken a mile-long walk each week, and enjoyed cool breezes, tiny wildflowers blooming, and cliffs glowing red and pink and orange with the setting sun. I have practiced Bach’s Cello Suite #1 more than a few times. I’m still mangling notes, and warping the time as written, and all that bowing is making my arm ache…but I’m having fun (and it’s sounding better and better). I’ve colored two (out of fifteen) intricate pictures from the coloring book I want to make time to finish this year. I have discovered that coloring with markers is relaxing and playing with bright colors and patterns is fun. As a bonus, I’m enjoying sharing the fun with daughter Anna.

Compared with the total list of objectives for the year, these things may not seem like much progress. Measured by how much joy they bring, my Year of Jubilee is off to a great start!

Too many objectives? Too much to accomplish?

Nah, “No Worries, Mate…”


Getting started…

Hopefully you have checked out the “page” which lists the monthly themes I’ve chosen to focus on during this “Year of Jubilee.” If so, you will have seen that I’m starting off the year by pulling my cello back out of storage. My goal is to be able to adequately play Bach’s first unaccompanied suite for cello by the end of the month.

I enjoyed getting my “old friend” out of the big, clunky black case last night. I looked over the cello, getting reacquainted after a number of years away. A few of the cracks that were mended years ago are slightly opening, so I filled the humidifier and slid it back into one of the f-holes on the front of the cello. (Humidifier sounds a lot fancier than the reality—a long rubber tube with holes in it and with a skinny sponge running down the center of it—to be soaked in water. For some reason, the humidifier has been in the cello for years and years, totally unused and unneeded in humid Ohio—but a lifesaver out here in arid New Mexico!)

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my fingers still remembered the music. It felt good to be playing again. We won’t talk about how quickly my bowing arm muscles tightened up…or about the missing calluses on my fingers that will keep practice time short for now…

I thought about making a short recording of this first practice time and posting it here…to show how much improvement there is by the end of a focused month of practice. But…I decided to spare myself the embarrassment and spare you the torture of wrong notes, wrong timing, and bad bowing. You will just have to trust me on this, my playing WILL be much improved by month’s end!

Is there something you enjoyed in the past that you could pull out, dust off, and once again enjoy? I’d love to hear about it!