Jailhouse Rock

A La Carte:  Let’s see… A lot of my focus has been on cutting out snacks and sugars.  Pure Protein bars are an “old school” favorite of mine, and I’ve had one with a piece of fruit or some cherries every day this week.  Also EAS AdvantEdge shakes are great.  As far as ACTUAL food, sweet potatoes are life right now.  Any way I can get them, especially fries.

Tunes:  Elvis!  That’s right, I’m tuned in to the King this week.  My 7-year-old saw a book at the store and said, “Who is Elvis?”, and I knew I had done him a great disservice.  So this week we’re blasting favorites like “Teddy Bear”, “Blue Christmas”, “All Shook Up”, “Viva Las Vegas”, and “Hound Dog”.   I have fond memories of dancing around to Elvis in my mom’s room, and we’ve had a fun time re-creating it at our house.

stitch_as_elvis_by_kurumaki_kee-d300c1q

Where I’m Going:  I want to go somewhere new for Christmas.  Well, maybe not ON the day, but for Winter.  It doesn’t snow here.  I’m fantasizing about somewhere white and romantic.  New York?  Paris?  Heck, I’d even consider somewhere out west.  I like to ski!  Maybe Aspen?  I could ski with Tom Cruise and we could discuss our mutual disdain for vitamins and how we both do our own stunts.

Trees in Aspen
Image courtesy Pinterest.

Flesh:  Elliptical cross-training!  I forgot how much fun the elliptical can be.  The ones at my gym have a setting called “X Train Backwards”, and on this setting you go 4 minutes forward, or regular, and 4 minutes back.  It’s great for working quads and hamstrings, and it’s FUN.  If you know me, you know fun is a necessary component in fitness.  Life is too short to have it otherwise!  So if there’s an elliptical at your gym and you’ve never tried it, please do!  Challenge yourself with the settings, too.  I like to go to the very highest level for a minute, then turn it way back down and get high reps, and repeat.  (It’s a lot like doing intervals in spin class.)  Another bonus:  The elliptical simulates skiing motions, so you’ll be prepared for that ski date with Tom!

Here’s a short article on some of the benefits of elliptical training.

Soul: I did a blog post the other day about the small eclipse this month, and already I have seen a few eery things happen (ALL good) in my life.  I’m reading about the BIG eclipse that’s coming and doing my best to prepare, without stressing or planning everything.  I like for things to happen organically and naturally, and not be forced.

Dreams:  Both dreams I remember this week took place in my grandmother’s home.  She is heavily on my mind this week, and I am supposed to go and visit her, so this is probably why.  I’ve also been researching our family tree and thinking about getting some oral histories from her.  One final explanation is that I miss her and her home, and the time I lived there, terribly some days.

Cruise Home
Image from Business Insider

Photographing:  SCHOOL IS IN!  My phone is full of photos of my big 2nd Grader.

Movies and TV: I have discovered a show for children called Pocoyo.  It is available on Netflix and it is adorable.  Very simply animated, and narrated by a man whose voice is quite similar to the guy from Winnie the Pooh (from the 80s), it’s the only thing my toddler will pay any attention to.  Before this, he would not watch TV at all.

Library:  My own book.  Two years ago I wrote a book to honor my grandfather and to process some of my own grief.  The end result has been sitting on my computer since, and I’ve been inspired by some writer friends to go ahead and self-publish on Amazon.  The issue I’m having is that it’s full of religious/spiritual references that I’ve moved on from, and I don’t want to be a phony.  I’ve attempted several different edits, but none of them feels authentic to who my grandfather was.  So… I’m stuck.  I’m sure it’s only temporary.  The next step will be figuring out how to format from Word to e-reader, and so far I can’t even get a successful download (thanks, Firefox!)

Tech: Duolingo is my best friend.  I’ve been sitting up at night becoming fluent in French, in preparation for our inevitable Paris take-over.  If you want to learn a language, consider using the Duolingo App.  It’s fun, free, and easy to learn.  Duolingo offers a variety of languages, and the lessons are short and fun.  You can track your progress, earn rewards, and share Fluency percentage with friends or even have it posted on your LinkedIn profile.

Say Geronimo!

I went running this morning at one of my favorite parks.  It’s close to my house and the scenery is breathtaking, so when the stars align and I am able to get there for a workout, I feel grateful.  These days I’m trying to be outdoors more (and on the treadmill less) in order to improve my fitness and raise my vibration.

This park has several miles of woodland trails for running and mountain biking.  I normally run the mountain bike trails because they’re wider, and because there’s a nice canopy of trees that shields me from the sun a bit.  The downside is that there are tons of giant tree roots, and the canopy seems to hold in all the humidity, so some days it feels like running through a giant sauna obstacle course.

Today I decided to run a different route, to challenge myself and keep the ol’ neurons firing.  I parked at the exit, grabbed my pretty pink pepper spray and my cell phone, and set off down the road.  Little did I know, spiritual growth was waiting right around the corner for me.

Having grown up in this city, one might expect that I know a thing or twelve about this park.  The number of trails, the length of those trials, elevation, length of the road, etc.  Useful things.  I don’t actually know any of that.  The positive to this is that so far I have learned something new on each run, which I actually find exciting, so I’ve decided to stick with this “discovery-running” strategy.  I have heard that there are 5-7 miles of trails in this park, though it’s also possible that I have made that number up completely.  (A quick Google search did nothing to help clarify.)  Anyway, I started running knowing I had somewhere between 5 and 7 miles of road to go on, and I wouldn’t make it that far anyway, so my plan was to run as far as I wanted and turn around and run back to my car.

Running through a gorgeous park on a Saturday in Georgia is a glorious experience. I said “hello” and received similar greetings from walkers, runners, bikers, kids, grandmothers, disc-golfers, and a lady carrying a casserole in one hand and a baby in the other.  I could hear country music coming from the speakers of a pickup parked down by the lake, kids laughing as they played in the waterfalls, and friends encouraging each other as they cycled up a steep climb.  The whole place was abuzz with activity, and I was buzzing along in the middle of it.  I felt like I was in a movie, in one of those opening sequences where the camera starts out in space, and slowly zooms all the way into the town where the story takes place, until the focus is on the main characters.  That thought made me smile.

As I was making my way up and down the hilly pavement, mindful of cars and trying to keep my breath steady, I thought about how far I might run today.  1 mile?  If I turn around then, it would be 2 when I reached the car.  It was pretty hot out.  Maybe 1.5?  That makes 3 total.  Maybe I’ll just go .75 and then turn around, but I’ll run it faster than I’m used to.  I have to go to work tonight and I don’t want to be tired and sore at the beginning of my shift.  I knew I couldn’t run the 5-7 miles to the entrance even ONCE, let alone do it and turn around and run all the way back to my car.

Suddenly, just as that negative “I can’t” thought was forming, other thoughts popped up, as if to banish it before it planted roots in my brain.  These other thoughts were encouraging, motivating thoughts.  For example:

  • The story about Bruce Lee and his friend running 5 miles, and Bruce’s philosophy on life. (The story can be found HERE.)
  • Kathy Freston’s book Quantum Wellness, in which she says you should always go farther than you believe you can.
  • The reality that part of me was trying to give up before I’d even truly begun.

What happened was simultaneously anti-climactic and miraculous:

I simply decided to run the entire path, from exit to entrance. My legs felt strong, my breathing was pretty good, and even though I had never done it before, I decided that I would do it.

That’s it.  Hardly worth mentioning, right?  And yet, in that millisecond that I made the choice to “just do it”, my life changed a little bit.  My mindset rotated from “can’t” to “will”.  There was never a question after that whether I could make it, just a quiet, confident knowing that I would.

The rest of the story is that yes, I ran it all.  Guess what?  The road in it’s entirety ended up being a little over two miles, beginning at the exit gate and going “all the way” around the the entrance.  Yep, this thing that I had negated and barred myself from ever doing was only two miles.  I had never taken the time to find out the actual distance, because I already believed it to be further than I could run!! I had counted myself out of the race without ever starting.  This got me thinking – How many times in my life have I done this?  With work?  With friendships and relationships?

Here’s a funny thing about enlightenment, acceptance, and finally letting go of old beliefs:  oftentimes we are standing on the precipice of greatness, and once we step off the edge, we can finally see the beauty of where we are headed.  Before we take that first step, though, all we see is the edge.  We see danger. The unknown. The unattainable.  We see the can’t, won’t, shouldn’t signs all around us that discourage us from trying.  So we don’t.  We don’t try, we stay safe, and we continue to live our lives as we’ve always lived them, because that’s comfortable.

I’m writing this blog today to encourage you to GET UNCOMFORTABLE. Whatever edge you find yourself standing on today, take the leap!  Take a step.  Do something outside of your comfort zone and just see what happens.

Small picture, I ran 4 miles. This, in itself, is not a big deal, I know.  The bigger picture is that I came away from this run with just a smidge more enlightenment than when I entered.  A mental barrier was overcome.  My perspective was significantly altered.  What is can’t?  What is too hard?  What in life is truly unattainable?  I learned an invaluable lesson about belief, ability, and being willing to say “Geronimo!” and jump off the edge, even and especially when I can’t see what’s coming next.

Encounter 

Dark

Light

Pain

Delight

A stolen glance.

“Take a chance.”

I can’t – 

Circumstance. 

Feeling Too Much

What is an Empath?

I am an Empath.

There, hope that clears it all up.

(kidding.)

An Empath, depending on what you believe, is either a name or description someone made up (totally bogus) to describe someone who cries too much, is a drama queen, is anti-social, etc. – OR – An Empath, sometimes called an HSP or Highly Sensitive Person, is someone born with the gift of feeling.  Google dictionary defines Empath as “a person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual”.

Don’t let the word “paranormal” throw you.  Empaths aren’t evil, ghosts, spirits, witches, or make-believe.  They are real, flesh-and-blood people like you, good reader, who feel on a level much higher than most.  When I describe this to others, I like to say “mine goes to 11” and I also reference E.T. and Eliot.  (If you do not understand those references, get off my blog now. Seriously. Quit. Bye.)

My ability shows up in little ways in my life.  Quirky things, like not being able to watch blood-and-guts movies.  I have a visceral reaction to … well, viscera. I also can’t handle lots of loud explosions.  Honestly my favorite types of films are happy ending, Disney-style, boy-gets-girl ones.  I tend to insert myself into the film, and feel emotions even as I watch, as if the story were real, and it hurts (physically, hurts in my chest) when I have to watch tragic things.  So I avoid them.  My sweet husband is wonderfully accommodating with me on movie dates, even if it means we see something rated PG or animated.   Another way it shows up is in thinking so strongly about someone that they call (or show up), or dreaming about someone, asking if they are alright, and having them respond with “how did you know?”

In addition to having stronger experiences emotionally, Empaths can often “read” other people, or feel the emotions of the people around them.  This is true in my case.  (Remember Deanna Troy in Star Trek?  She had this ability.) As you can imagine, this makes trips to places like the mall and crowded restaurants uncomfortable.  Often, it makes me tired, and I experience sensory overload.  The talking, the music, the clanging, the smells, and on top of that, the anger/depression/worry soaking into my pores usually gives me  headaches and a strong need to nap.  Empaths love to love people, and have a strong desire to avoid confrontation at all costs. (I have a shirt that says “Lover, Not a Fighter” on it.  That pretty much sums it up.)

Some people say that Empaths are not really gifted, they are just people who get their feelings hurt easily.  I am writing to say that 1) That’s a lie, and 2) People who call others “too sensitive” just don’t want to feel guilty for acting like jerks.  Now, it is true my feelings get hurt easily.  But I also love easily and deeply, feel compassion and – of course – empathy in a way that most others don’t, and when I’m happy it’s an ecstasy that most people don’t get to experience.

Most Empaths are gifted in more than one way.  Some can see auras, some have visions in dreams.  In a crowd, they usually go unnoticed, sitting in a corner somewhere watching quietly.  But they are valuable members of society, the “bleeding hearts” who have a tremendous ability to love their fellow man, generosity beyond measure, and an appreciation for people of all shapes, sizes, and creeds.

Mother Teresa is believed to have been an Empath, as well as actor Keanu Reeves, who is famously reclusive, shy, and kind.  Empaths are extremely good listeners, will quite literally hand over the coat on their back for someone else, and do well in creative careers like writing (hello) and painting.

Do  you know an Empath?  Are you Empathic?  I’d like to hear about your experiences.  If you would like to take an Empath test, try here: http://www.empathtest.com/ or here: http://themindunleashed.org/2013/10/30-traits-of-empath.html

If you love an Empath or HSP or want to know how to love them best, please read: http://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/15-tips-help-you-love-empath.html  AND  http://www.selfhealingexpressions.com/famous_empaths.shtml  AND https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/awake-the-wheel/201305/feel-live-the-secret-life-empath .

Featured for Spring/Summer 2015

Hey Guys and Dolls,

Just a short note to say “Look at me, look at me!”  I’m kidding.  It’s really a short note to say, “Look at Him! Look at Him!”  Please take a minute and go read, download, and support this amazing resource for teenagers and college-aged women.

DEVOTION Magazine Spring/Summer 2015 Issue:

http://devotionmagazine.com/the-mags/4584315832

[Featuring “Promiscuous Girl”, a snippet of my testimony.]

Christmas and Traditions

I have noticed a trend this year among Facebook friends and some of the Mommy Bloggers I follow.  There has been lots of discussion this year about Christmas traditions – Elf on the Shelf being the most horrendous, in my humble opinion.  It got me thinking, because traditions aren’t something we value too highly in our little family.  We like trying new things, whether they be foods or experiences or weird do-it-yourself egg and mayonnaise hair treatments.  We get rid of clothing and furniture pretty regularly, we don’t have attachment to material things.

This Christmas is significant for us, because 1) We are in a new home (movin’ on up, as they say) 2) My daughter is away at school and this is the first Christmas that she won’t be home with us, and 3) my son is 5 and able to enjoy the stories, help wrap presents, and grasp the idea of Christmas and the holiday more than he did in years past.  For these reasons I have been thinking about Christmas traditions – do we need them? Do we want them?  Are they silly?  Are they a sweet way to stay close as a family?

We don’t have traditions.  We do things differently every year.  The tree, the decorations, the food, the music, the routine of whose house we go to first or last or not at all.  Maybe that’s our tradition.  Some years we didn’t have a tree (due to finances and, well, cats).  Other years we had only construction paper snowflake ornaments.  We don’t watch the same movies or eat the same foods every year, and while I do have fond memories of my grandmothers “broke-neck” gingerbread men and the laughter they inspired among my cousins and me,  I guess don’t see traditions as necessary.  I realize, though, that for my son there is comfort in the familiar, and my husband and I want to begin to put him on a road towards a relationship with Christ – one that begins with reverence and respect for Christmas, Jesus’ birth.

So, this year we decided to start our first Christmas tradition.  It may be the only thing we do EVERY year consistently, but it’s a good one.  We found an advent calendar – the kind with the little numbered doors and chocolates behind each one – and a website that explains the Christmas story in a way kids can understand.  Every morning in the month of December, we read and talk a little about Jesus – who he is, why he is important, what he did, and his Earthly family.  Then, my son gets a chocolate.

The chocolate may be his favorite part of our talks, but I know that some of the things he learns are sticking.  For instance, he knows “advent” means “coming”. He knows “Immanuel” means “God with us”. If I say “Jesus is the ____” he responds with “Light of the World” (and a big smile).  He knows Jesus’ mommy’s name was Mary and he knows Christmas is Jesus’ birthday.  I feel like, for one so small, that is a lot of information.

The cookies won’t last and one day the presents will be forgotten, and maybe my son won’t grow up watching a parade on tv eating the same treats I make every holiday season, but Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.  Setting up a place for him in our son’s heart and life is one tradition I feel worthy, and one I know I can keep.

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Hebrews 12:1

“12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”

My analysis and how to apply this…

Starting at the beginning: yes, we are surrounded by a huge crowd, aren’t we, followers? Everywhere we turn people are observing, watching us to see if we are like Jesus. SO that is motivation to really be like him, to really lead them to church and ultimately, to the Lord. I don’t want to be the one who convinces someone they DON’T need what Jesus offers!

Many Christians struggle with extra weight, anger is mine which I have told you girls a thousand times already, but there are others, and we all have them. I think this verse is saying to lay that all down because otherwise we can’t run this race. I think about soldiers who run with big 50 lb packs on their backs. I would fall down and die! And my anger is like those packs, weighing me down, slowing me down, and usually making it impossible for me to continue the way God wants. UNTIL, I put it down.

I must say, I love the analogy of running. I feel like it’s so accurate to what this life is like, what my walk with God feels like. Sometimes it’s exhilarating, feeling awesome, wind in my face, I’m totally confident I’m going to make it to the finish. Other days it’s lots of hills, slow going, having to coach myself out loud to take another step.

One last thing to mention. The NIV version says to run the race that is “marked out for us”. I wanted to include that because, it’s so important not to compare our race with others. Keep your eyes on your own lane on the track! Your race might be shorter or slower, faster, bumpier, smoother, whatever… than someone else’s race. But it has been marked out FOR YOU. You’re not running their race, you’re running the one that was given especially to you. The other way I read that is that the course has been MARKED. Which, if you’ve ever run a trail race you know the markers that tell you where to turn are crucial to success. Without them you get lost in the wilderness. Same goes for our faith. The race has been marked out, if we follow Jesus we won’t get lost.

Prayer for today: Father, thank you for this word today! Thank you for how happy I feel writing about it. Help me to keep this light and share it with others and always feel this passion for witnessing. Thank you for my race. Thank you for marking the way for me and encouraging me to keep going. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Run!
Run!