Day 9 – Courage

Day 9

I learned courage was not the absence of of fear, but the triumph over it.  -Nelson Mandela

I will be honest – I thought penning some words on courage would be easy. It has proved to be one of the most difficult words on which to write. Pages of words flowed, from beautiful quotes by Brene Brown – “Courage is a heart word,” to inspirational thoughts on the roots of this word (heart). The words were true – but too big! I needed to remember that courage is an everyday word.

Courage is taking a deep breath and stepping outside of comfort and familiar and safe.  Being courageous is following a path that has been directed by your heart, while your mind is shouting NO NO NO! It is not foolish or fearless, although other voices would say so. Courage is about doing the right thing when the right thing is risky!

Sometimes courage is demonstrated on a grand scale. But sometimes the greatest feats of courage are enacted by ordinary people in everyday lives who respond to a heart whisper that calls them to ACT.  Courageous people move in a direction that does not guarantee success or even comfort – they move in spite of this. They respond to a heart cry or a God whisper that says “this is the path.” Voices of reason and voices of the crowd will doubt and declare otherwise, but courage is the voice that embraces the fear and willingly steps into the unknown.

Sometimes no one will know how courageous you have been. Sometimes no one will acknowledge how much fear you have fought. Others will not understand what mountains you have faced or the paralyzing terror you have conquered on your journey. Sometimes other voices will be dismissive or belittling of your courageous action because they do not know YOUR HEART.

That is okay. It takes courage to leave behind the fearful and the naysayers. It takes courage to follow the call of your heart and listen to the words God whispers to your precious heart. Be true to THAT call. Follow with courage!

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Day 7 – Hope

Day 7

HOPE!

It is the emotion and promise that soars, endures beyond measure and brings light into our days! Hope doesn’t reside in our heads, because it is beyond reason and often beyond measure. Hope is rooted in our hearts where time and logic are not welcomed. Hope lifts us and carries us and enables us to hold on to promise.  It keeps our eyes lifted high.

But from the heights of hope – the depths of hopelessness seen to know no bottom! Has your heart been broken by life? Has betrayal stolen promise and breath from you? Or has tragedy left you with only despair as a companion? Then you may know the utter despondency of feeling no hope. There is no escape, no relief – only suffocating darkness. Can there be LIFE with out hope?

Our hearts are resilient. I am told the womb is the strongest muscle in the human body – it requires strength to birth new life. The heart is another remarkably miraculous muscle in the human body – because its purpose to sustain life. It sustains physical life, emotional life and spiritual life.

The proof of the hearts resiliency is that it always draws us back to life. Unless there is a catastrophic reason to stop, or because time has deemed it is time to rest, the heart will fight to keep beating. Our hearts are created to pull us back to life – and to hope. Perhaps if you walked a dark road for a season, you may remember the small flickering of light that began appearing along your path. Life and hope are the territory of the heart – and they will flicker, then flame and explode into fullness at some point along the way.  Our minds want to stay stuck and focused on the pain point. And yes the depths to which our hearts experience the pain – there is no measuring!  But our hearts know that their divine design is to sustain life. The beating heart will fight to continue, it has been purposed to pump the sustenance of life through us – spirit, soul and body.

Close your eyes. Feel your heart beat. Place your hand on your heart and touch the intentionality of that beating muscle.  This is the pulse and promise of hope – feel it in your spirit, soul and body.

As sure as your heart beats – HOPE is true and HOPE is alive!

What IF … The Sky Was Blue??

DSC_0013What if…

What if…

What if…

Have you heard those words before? Maybe once or twice?

I was using those words as a mantra several weeks ago.  I had made a tentative appointment … well let me back up.

This is how it went. I have a potential opportunity to sell some of my photo cards in a shop at  Lake Louise – a breath taking tourist destination in the Rockies.   I had been told that the “decision maker” would be there between “this date and this date” and “this time and this time.” Oh yes he would! But I was unable to contact anyone before I left home. Nonetheless I will do ANYTHING for a drive to the mountains – so I just started driving!

However, I had a migraine the day before and the brightness of the day bothered my eyes so I was moving slow. I was not following the schedule I had planned, and so a little anxiety began to well up.  About half way into my trip I started on the “what if’s…”

What if he didn’t like my like my Photos?       What if he said no?      What if he wasn’t there?     What if I missed him?

What if …     What if …     What if?

I could feel the lump in my stomach sink deeper. My shoulders tensed – my hands tightened on the steering wheel.  My thoughts got stuck in my head instead of relishing the spectacular sight of the Rocky mountains on this glorious spring morning. What if…?  The day was deteriorating with every kilometre.

Then, from somewhere underneath all my negativity, my thoughts shifted. I thought – “so what?” And doors of possibility began to open for me.  What if he doesn’t like my photos – maybe there is a better opportunity for me? What if I miss him – I’m so nervous, maybe this will be my practice run? Doors began to open.

Do you do that? Make the “what if….” into a litany of negativity? But what if these words were the gateway to possibilities?

I was going to post these musings as they sit – and let that be the end of it.

But I had one of “those” conversations today. One, where the words cause a tilt in your perspective of life! The power in “what if…” shot to another level.  My discussion was with 3 dear friends, trusted fair witnesses to certain stretches of the road I have travelled in my life. I value their words.  The conversation turned to our thoughts on “consequences.” We had different words, perspectives and views on this word that describes an aspect of life flow.

I believe consequences are a part of every decision we make.  Every choice, every turning is a ripple forever changing the course of events in our lives. From my perspective I was looking at consequences with a negative light. I am perturbed when there is a lack of acknowledgement of consequences. Saying “I’m sorry”, apologizing, even making amends creates a new outcome but doesn’t negate an actual event. Pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t make it go away. The ripples always flow.

I have some big regrets in my life.  I have made decisions that have haunted me – regret and shame have found a place to hang   heavy on me.  I have done my best to make amends, to atone – but nothing can ever take me back to that moment of decision. NOTHING. So my “consequences” are usually viewed with a painful light.  Grief that has not faded I have allowed to define me. My friend agrees that the consequences DO define us, but she views that mountain of “what if’s” as places of redemption in our lives. It doesn’t have to be the place that breaks us – it is the place we grow from!

I have had a bipolar view of my life.  In one moment I am thankful for Gods redeeming power in my life – for transforming my pain into a glory story.  In the next moment I am crippled by the “consequences” of my choices. And I am devastated. I let the “what ifs” define a broken history of me.

Every day we face myriads of decisions. Coffee with cream or milk? Grocery store now or after work? Hold on to my anger at my spouse or let it go? Will I betray my heart or be true? What if…?

I have some “what if’s” that rip open my spirit and soul.

AND YET – they are the reason I am WHO I am today.  They are the reasons I do what I do, feel compelled to live as I do! All the work of my heart is a result of my journey and the transformed, redeemed consequences!  And I am reminded by my friends – this is a beautiful thing!

So this is my BIG thought for the day …

Use the “what ifs” ahead of you to TRANSPORT you to the open doors of possibility … and adventure!  And those weighty “what ifs” behind you – let them TRANSFORM you! Allow Gods hand to transform your regrets into precious gifts. The past is the source of the flow that has created the brilliance of who you are today – if you let it.

The meeting about my photo cards? Discussions are still in hopeful process. BUT I had time to hike across and around that frozen lake on this one particular glorious spring afternoon. I stood in the MIDDLE of that spectacular lake, which has been fed for a millennia by ancient glaciers, and I took a picture of a single cloud in the brilliant blue sky.

Really??? Who gets to do that? It was breathtaking! All the “what ifs” in my life brought me to the middle of this incredible lake – what a brilliant moment! I celebrate that journey! DSC_0021

Wolverine Wisdom

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It has been months since I posted a blog!

I recently heard someone say that the universe is never static, that it is always in a state of motion… either expanding or collapsing.  They used this to refer to personal growth – we are either expanding or contracting.  Ok – I think it was Hugh Jackman whom I have roughly paraphrased … I had hoped it was Einstein, but I couldn’t find the official quote, so I suppose I am using wolverine logic to explain the state of my life!  Nonetheless, this idea that we are never at a stand still – but either expanding or contracting was a profound statement …  about my state.

I am not sure exactly when it began…

Plagued by painful eye problems and pummelled by migraine/cluster headaches for a few months – I began a physical retreat.  I was tired … and I allowed life to feel like it required TOO much and as usual I had not enough.  Words spoken – and unspoken – gave power to the Shadows of the Past, telling me that the stain would never be washed away.  I listened to the silent whispers that ” I would never measure up.” And so I was dedicated to the direction of MY motion.

I constricted into a tight ball of fear and self-doubt – and plunged into despair.

And so I sat. Neglecting my creativity, my joy, my faith and my call. I retreated, withdrew … and became small, small, small.

BUT!!!  I am blessed with a group of friends who are my God-appointed accountability warrior sisters – they have the strength and courage to challenge my Shadows. ( I also call these strong women my DEAR friends, in case the former sentence made you feel uncomfortable!  However they know who they are – and the great gift they give me in my moments of doubt! )   I sat with them, wept, and poured out my feelings of disappointment, self-condemnation and pain.  As I sobbed, one of my warrior sisters interrupted me. “Ronda, I cannot believe I am hearing your words! Do you hear what you are saying? I can’t believe you are listening to all those OLD tapes – and LIES!”

She was right. It is time to change the direction of my motion!

So, I am picking up my pen again, (the pen always comes before the computer keys) , and shouting out to the world, (or maybe just the few souls that read my blog) – I am taking ANOTHER step!

The name of my blog is all about my journey.

It was an enormous step to post my first blog.  It was a huge accomplishment to hit PUBLISH on my business website.  It took breathless courage and belief to sit with our first coaching clients. But I did it.

It’s all been about taking steps – small tentative steps and huge unbelievable leaps. It’s about believing in my worth and the unique gifts I have to offer the world.  It’s choosing to listen to something other than my ever-present whisperings that tell me “I am not enough.”  It is saying NO to unbelief, disbelief, self-doubt and despair.  It is about taking steps.

I wanted to include in this blog,  a rant on some well-timed, inappropriate comments made by someone ill-informed. Well timed – meaning they were arrows that pierced my heart, and words that encouraged the speed of my retreat.  However, acknowledging the actual words robs me of my victory … so this is what I will say.

I KNOW the steps I have taken in my life, alongside my dear husband, to move through pain and grief and sorrow and devastation. We stepped and stepped and stepped.   What could have destroyed us – we conquered!

I know it is possible to move beyond pain … and to live a life with passion and purpose. THIS is the HOPE I have to give and the LIGHT I have to share.

And so, this is just ONE MORE STEP, and one more VICTORY!  One more blog post, one more lesson learned.

Stretching … expanding … one foot in front of the other!

Unplugged

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Wow – the month of April FLEW by!  And May has continued on at the same unrelenting pace.  So today is THE DAY.  Time to stop flying by the seat of my pants and anchor myself to my life again.  I need to re-prioritize, re-balance and … get a grip!

I face my computer, respond to emails, assess my bank account, plan the remainder of my week …. SIGH.  My enthusiasm dwindles.  I am not feeling well – I have been battling the flu.  I can’t make a decision on how to handle several items on my  TO DO list.  Does this ever happen to you?  I feel overwhelmed, and I know I can’t take care of everything.  There just isn’t enough time or energy … or me!

I am diligent and committed until noon.  I have several questions that I need to pray about because I need direction.  And I say to God that I am very serious.  He needs to be listening to me, because I need answers.  I tell Him that HE needs to be on His game,  speak clearly … because I am focused today.

A break from the computer and a brisk walk seem to be in order.  Time to re-energize, refresh my thoughts and give God some time to answer my questions.  Although I am an urban dweller, I am blessed to live 5 minutes from a scenic mountain and glacial river pathway system.  I love it!  So I have favorite iTunes playlist ready, running shoes laced … I am ready to go.

As the door closes behind me, I hear …

No music today.

Huh? I love this playlist – ministers to my spirit!  And again I hear …

No music today.

Silence.

Listen to the world today.

Sigh.   step  step  step  step

OK.  No music.  Ok, I hear the birds.  Yeah, its nice.

step  step  step step step

Take off your glasses.

What???

Just take them off.

Let me pause and  explain.  I have terrible eyesight.  Anything past 12 inches from my nose is a blur.  I am wearing my glasses because I have been having months of painful eye issues – and NOTHING is working.  I am sensitive about my eyes.

Ronda, …take them off.

But this is NOT reasonable.  What if I step in a hole, or walk into a tree???

Take off your glasses.

step  step  step step step

Off …

Oh … OK.

I am waiting to feel lost, but instead I feel peace.  I choose to trust that I will be safe.  And the breeze feels wonderful, unrestrained from caressing my face.  I settle into the moment.  Although the lack of visual clarity is usually disconcerting – I wonder what it is that I am supposed to SEE.  After a time, I choose to stop and just look around me.  In the absence of sharp line and defined forms, I notice shapes and balance and COLOR!  I notice the brilliance of the white in the clouds, and the subtle blue grays that give hint to the form.  I feel the weight of the form of the land and the teal blue balance that the river brings to the valley.  It is beautiful – and it is perfect.

I am unfocused and “unplugged” in this moment.  Yet I feel more connected and grounded than I have felt for some time.

Spring was late in arriving this year.  In my busy schedule I missed seeing the wild crocuses bloom in this sun-kissed valley.  I return to a moment of regret, anxiety … but only for a moment.  A warm breeze brushes by me – laden with the scents of the warming earth and freshly unfurling spring leaves.  It carries no scent of regret or poor timing or lost opportunity.  It is full of perfect timing and divine purpose.  I suddenly have a curious interpretation of the birds songs.  They are singing “It is glorious!  Today is glorious!  Isn’t it glorious?”  They are rapturous in their appreciation of the day. I put my glasses on, because I am beginning to receive the message. I watch several butterflies as they flutter by – full of intention.  They are the perfect expression of BE-ing what they were created to be, and DO-ing what they were purposed to do.

I sit and absorb this revelation.  I see a late-blooming crocus.  It doesn’t seem to be too troubled by its late arrival or the delay of the season.  It is radiating the glory of its brilliant perfection – as it was ALWAYS destined to do. Creation responding as it was created to do.  I have no words to describe the beauty of this moment.

There has been great value in being “unplugged” today, in listening to the pared down acoustics of the world around me.  There has been value in being unfocused – allowing clarity to diminish so that I might appreciate the dance of shape and form and color and light!

Unexpected answers to my questions.  But SO much better answers than I ever expected! This day is good – it is glorious!

Can you “unplug” today or tomorrow – for a time?  Take time to awaken your senses to the world around you … you may find something gloriously unexpected!

I Didn’t Know What It Meant

DSC_0012In my darkest most desolate hour – He found me

I thought I knew Him….

But I did not know what SAVING meant

Until He saved me from the desolation … and showed himself to be my Savior

I did not know what REDEEMING meant

Until He redeemed me from the darkness … and proved himself to be my Redeemer

I did not know what FORGIVENESS meant

Until He washed me clean, dressed me in robes of righteousness … and called me WORTHY.

He IS my Savior, my Redeemer, my All in All

He is Risen, He is Alive,  and He Lives in ME!

The Silence is Singing

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I remember when you couldn’t go shopping on Sundays.  Doesn’t that date me?! There is a new generation that doesn’t know a world where stores are closed one day a week. I remember when Easter was an extra long weekend – Good Friday AND Easter Monday were both holidays.  But I have noticed that very few stores have altered their hours for this weekend.

Now before anyone reacts – this is not a religious diatribe.  It is not. This is not about religion – this is about how we live our lives.

Less “sophisticated” cultures throughout history have always had feast days and days of remembrance.  They participated in traditions and days that were set aside for reflection AND celebration.  There was anticipation and preparation.  Routine was ignored and, collectively,  thoughts turned to something that was greater than the “everyday.”

My thoughts began today by reflecting on the traditions of my faith – Easter gives me an opportunity to celebrate the tenets of my beliefs.  But not everyone shares my spiritual path … this is not about preaching.  This is about how we live our lives.  How do we separate out of the noise of life to reflect or experience joy?

How much time – days, hours, minutes – do we “set apart?”  In the midst of daily demands – do we take time to be quiet, to be still, to reflect on deeper meanings and higher calls?  Collectively and individually, do we take time to listen? Do we have time and space in the rush of life to hear the still small voice that is in each one of us?  I am using the word WE, but I mean ME.  This is about how I find peace,  and LIVE in a state of peace.

I have a picture sitting on my desk that reads –

Be still … eventually the silence will sing for you.

God speaks to me in the stillness.  It is only in the quiet that my heart has learned the words it has longed to sing.

Wherever you are in your journey – or whatever your spiritual path – celebrate a HOLY DAY.  Step out of the busy-ness of life and find time to be still and quiet. Sit apart, and be SET apart.  Take time … and find joy in it.