Thursday, July 31, 2014

Reviewing Intentions and Changing Course

At the onset of July, I wrote down a list of intentions and added practices to help me to stay focused. I must admit it was a difficult challenge in a crowded month. I've been going back over my list today and thinking about how I did overall.

 Let go and flow. 

Letting go is a daily practice for me. Journaling helps and prayer. I'm not sure how well I did with this in July, but I know I made progress in some areas.

 Receive the gift each day holds for me.

Joining a Hand to Heart group helped with this, their posts and Liz's weekly emails. Also the Instagram challenges and taking photos each day caused me to focus on the moment.

 Listen to my Life and Identify Patterns and Rhythms

I tend to push myself beyond what my body is really up to and paying for it later. I am finding that this week I am exhausted to the point that its a bit scary. July was extremely busy. I am hearing two things as I listen to my life right now, in this moment: self- care and "un-rush me, Lord" (a word Lysa Terkhurst shared.)

 Choose joy. 

For the most part, I started every day with Joel Osteens book "I Declare." This book has thirty days of affirmations. By the time I read through it each day, I was ready to choose joy.

 Be wholehearted.

Yes. I managed to fit in a little writing and a lot of reading in down time. I have a lot of work to do here. I want to choose the things that my heart is directing me to do.

Today I sat down to look through a few magazines. I only got as far as my Artful Blogging when the first words leaped off the page at me. 
I grabbed my visual journal and glued the words to the page. I know they mean something and are a signpost for the month ahead.

I would love to hear what intentions  you are setting in your life, what course you are pursuing in the days ahead. Please feel free to comment and leave a link to your blog.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July in Pictures

Every year we begin July with our family camping in Bar Harbor. One of my favorite moments this year was riding up Mount Cadillac in my son's jeep, door & top off. On the way up the mountain I was sitting where you see my grandson in this photo. It was both exhilarating and scary. I felt like I was right out there, in the air.

             There were a few quiet moments during that ten days, like reading a book to Lily.

Our week of family togetherness ended on the fourth of July, with the parade. A storm system was moving in the next day so everyone packed up and headed home. That was also my worst moment of July, the day I got the cat bite.

I love the fresh fruits and veggies available in the summer, like this spinach salad I threw together. Yum!

I had a lot of fun with Instagram challenges this month too like this photo I took on the deck of our camper, not staged either :)

This is one of my favorite photos from July. Hubby and I went to Seawall in Acadia National Park. It was a quiet moment with the tide out and only a few spectators.

I spent the last two weeks with Lily while my daughter went away for Air Force Reserves. Constant photo ops and plenty of hugs and kisses.

I closed out the last weekend of July with a few magical moments with my girls. I drove home on Monday and am catching up on my blogging and photos today. These are all iPhone photos as I can't find the cord to plug my camera in and upload my pics. Going back and forth this month from camper to home causes my frustration level to rise when I lose things or leave things behind. 

All in all, I am loving this summer and I can't believe it's two thirds gone. July, where did you go?

The last couple of years I have joined Susannah Conway with her August Break, just posting a pic a day here on my blog, only writing a post if I feel the urge. Obviously, I have been lagging behind on the posting so this may be an improvement! Hope you are enjoying your summer days.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Ordinary Days


How did a whole week sneak by me without even a thought of blogging?

 Last week was a beautiful sunny week at home. I spent a few hours in my flowers and mini-garden making them presentable after vacation, only to leave them again for two weeks. I sorted through old photos that had been piled up and waiting. With a black sharpie I wrote the names of each of my siblings on envelopes which I packed with childhood photos collected by my grandmother or myself and sent them via actual mail. On Friday I made a trip to the local Cubby thrift store and dropped off scrapbook magazines, CDs and an old sewing machine. It felt so good to get those things done.

This week finds me in Trenton at the camper. I had a long travel / car problems / grocery / settle in day on Sunday.,Monday was supposed to find me picking up Lily at daycare but instead I spent a long lonely day recuperating from a stomach bug or pancreas problem here. Not sure which. 
Today her big sister picked her up so I spent another day here. I must say when I watched the rain pour off the camper awning this morning, I was bummed. How would I get through another long day? And I still felt too queasy to venture out.

I grabbed my iPhone and played with the Hipstamatic app, snapped a few pics of the rain, and journaled. Finally I opened my laptop to my book project and began to edit, changing the font to an acceptable one, adding page numbers, fixing margins etc. before I knew it, the afternoon had flown and here I am, with a day nearly at its close.

It's foggy here tonight with thunderstorms in the forecast. I have sent many prayers heavenward about that for both my daughter, who is away at reserves this week and had a close call last night, and myself here alone.

I finished a novel yesterday called Sea Music by Sarah McDonald. It's a hauntingly beautiful and painful story of a holocaust survivor. It reminded me how extraordinary our ordinary days really are. Even though these last few have been challenging, I have much to be grateful for.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Girl Talk Makes the Grade

This is how I felt about the fourth of July - off kilter. The fifth and sixth weren't much better, as I posted last night. Today, however, was a turnaround day. Yay! No fireworks, just gentle movement.

I did what I said I was going to do last night. I journaled and read a bit in my encouraging books and went to sleep listening to a message from KCM on my iPod.
This morning I gathered my Bible and journal and pens and devotionals and a few books and my tea and settled into my chair for a couple of hours of stillness and regrouping. I listened, I wrote, I read, sensing my thoughts shifting.

Later on in the day, my friend Barbie came over and we shared vacation stories and concerns and we prayed together. We parted with smiles on our faces and fresh resolves to do better in a few areas such as gratitude and  taking it easy on our hubbies. Oh, how thankful they must be that we have each other! :)

My foot is feeling better. I was soaking my foot as Barbie and I talked. I told her we had just experienced a spiritual Epsom Salts soak via sharing. The soreness and and any lingering bad stuff literally drew away from us. I love my online groups and texts and emails with friends, but there's nothing like a face-to-face girl talk session to make a gal feel better.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Testing Intentions


One of my intentions for July is to find the gift each day offers to me. On my birthday that was easy. My  sweet granddaughter brought me a crate full of carefully chosen presents and a card that made me cry. My daughter arrived later in the day with a bag full of gifts perfectly suited to me. What a delight!

It wasn't so easy to follow this intention the next day. I got caught in the crossfire of a dog-and-cat fight and was the recipient of several puncture wounds on my toes from the cat. While sitting in the walk-in care, I pondered my intentions. Only six months previously, I was on crutches for a bruised heel, followed by a fierce cold, followed by surgery. In between these things I've tried to get to the gym to walk and my plan was to eventually run, preparing for a 5K in November. Two weeks ago, I got another cold and cough. And now I'm soaking my foot, taking an antibiotic and limping again. Once again I cancelled tomorrow's trip to the gym. 

I have to admit that I'm discouraged. In all of the other events, I managed to find the gift. This time I can't shake the shadow hovering over me. The day this all happened, I had fallen into the trap of complaining and that whole morning found me irritable and on edge. Somehow I felt I opened a door to this attack. When I think about grace, I know God doesn't bless me because I deserve it. But I can't seem to move out from under the feeling that I deserved this. 

Another intention this month is to identify patterns and rhythms of my life. This is a pattern of thinking and I need to find a way to turn this around. Usually I like to wait until I am on the other end of the trial so I can give you the good news. Tonight I am in the middle of the process and sharing the struggle. 

What are the practices that I can use to move through the fog of the voices in my head, accusing and condemning? Those things which were said to me in the past that carry shadows haunt me when I get into this space. 
It's critical to have good spiritual practices in place for times like these.

I'm going to get into my jammies, crawl into bed and put pen to journal. I'm going to look back over this past week of vacation and write a gratitude list. I will read the daily entry  in my new book from my daughter. I'm going to pull off the shelf a few of my go-to reads when I really need something. It's a start.

What are your go-to helps when discouragement hovers? Sharing with each other can be added to the list. I am certain things will look differently in the morning. There's another practice to add to the list - a good night's sleep. Sweet Dreams.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Listening to My Life


Tomorrow I will turn 62 years old. How is that possible? I don't feel 62 but I do feel different than last year. The past two years I have learned a lot about myself, not all of it pretty. I may have mentioned that before. Nevertheless, I am learning to accept all of me and with that acceptance, embracing the need to change. Letting go has become a daily practice in my life. I feel like I will never live long enough to become the woman I long to be.

The picture above was taken today, riding in my son's jeep with the doors and top off. Going up was exhilarating, smelling the pines, snapping photos of the scenery. Coming down was scary. I realized in that moment that I still cling to comfort zones, like a door.


Speaking of doors, I happened to notice this one was open as we walked by. Everyone else seemed more interested in the next store or their destination. I, however, turned aside to snap a pic. A lavender door, open. For some reason, this door resonates with me today. 

One of my intentions for the month of July is to listen to my life. I'm listening. 

Here is my list for this month:

Let go and flow.
Receive the gifts each day holds for me.
Listen to my life. 
Identify patterns and rhythms.
Choose joy.
Be wholehearted, even in things that are necessary, perhaps not always of my choosing.