Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Day at the Pool

I love the pool! For a sun-worshipping (with sunblock these days, of course) fish like me, the pool has always been sort of Mecca.

Sadly, since I have had kids, I have developed an unnatural fear of the public pool. Something about the high numbers of virtually unsupervised, unobservant, and relatively ill behaved children mixed with the imminent danger of drowning has kept me far away from the swimming pool for the last 7 years. Now, that’s not to say that we haven’t gone to our friends private pools, but nothing says summer quite like a day at the city pool. As I re-read this paragraph, I think it is all really sad that I let this obsessive thought process get the best of me.

Anyway, empowered by 2 weeks of Red Cross swimming lessons and the desire to get out of the house and away from the computer, TV and mountain of laundry, the kids and I spent our first day at the public pool yesterday. You know I learned a few things about myself and about life.

1) You CAN go back.

In the right frame, it is possible to recapture some of that uncomplicated joy that you had when you were a kid. Part of this is vicarious. It is nearly impossible not to embrace the joy your kids feel in that moment….when your six year old comes running from the slide and says, “Sometimes, it’s so fun, that you just HAVE to SCRREAMMMM!” And in that moment, just for a second, be a kid again. It was a beautiful and poignant moment, and I was so blessed to be able to both observe and experience it at the same time.

2) In order to experience this you have to stop being an observer and start actively participating!

This was really hard for me! I am the sideline mom…I have a tendency to sit back and watch my husband play with my munchkins, watching them interact and play is a really joyful thing for me, but there are times when I long to get in the game. Today I did, and I was richly rewarded for it!

So I went home again…to my childhood….sunny days spent with friends playing in the water, getting out to soak in the sun and then, as soon as the cool droplets of water have dried, heading back into the pool again. Eating crazy snack combinations like dill pickles and blue sno cones and just relaxing with no agenda, no schedule and no worries. Absolute bliss! There is nothing like that exhausted, toasty warm, and absolutely starving feeling you have after a day at the pool!

Hmmm…now I’m hungry…I’m gonna go eat some watermelon and have a seed spitting contest with my son (I have to up my game, he’s gotten really good!)….So long for the weekend…..but maybe, just maybe next week, I’ll see YOU at the pool?!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Ask Who Not How....

"Woman in Mirror"- Picasso

So I was in a coaching session yesterday (my own, not a client’s…yes, I too have a coach!) and my coach said something to me that really shook up my thinking. He said, “when we ask how we get totally in our heads. It becomes completely mechanical thinking. But it’s not our head that moves us to action. It’s our heart.”

Dang! Preach it, Brotha!

Then I started to analyze my thinking this last few weeks. In my journey to create this women’s retreat ministry, what has my main focus been? It’s been HOW!

How do I get it started? How do I market it? How much do I charge? How much is it worth? How do I set it up? How, How, How….But too much HOW sucks the like out of life. It’s too mechanical. It’s all in our heads. It’s too much about the plan, the schedule, the process and not enough about the experience, the joy, the passion in the journey. It also leads to overwhelm, stress, procrastination, and in my case, mental and physical exhaustion.

See if you’re brain is like a computer (and it is), spending all your time in the HOW sucks up RAM (random access memory….aka desktop space) at an unbelievable rate, and the end result is paralysis, the inability to do ANYTHING! Believe me, sitting on a dream, especially one that is God-given, is a very uncomfortable place to be. Not doing anything is NOT an option!

So what’s a highly motivated, process-oriented girl who’s plagued by procrastination to do? She has to stop asking HOW so much and start asking WHO. Ok…I say to Brook, uh, “what exactly does that mean?” “You have to start asking who do I need to be today?” Who needs to show up to achieve this goal? WHO brings us back to the heart, and the heart produces action, motivation, and passion. Wow….so how does this tie into my 30 day mission? Well…follow me on this one….

If we become what we focus on and we are ALWAYS focused on How to do stuff, we become mechanical, obsessive and overwhelmed. That’s not to say a little bit of how isn’t a good thing…a little bit is necessary to get things done. But if we continually focus on how we do two things:

1) We take our focus off of God to provide direction. This is bad, people…This leads to wondering around in the wilderness. We have to stay open to where God wants us to go and take our hands off the wheel and let him drive. Only by shifting our focus from how to who can we accomplish this.

2) We get totally stuck in the details and begin to worry about success/failure. This is the trap that most people will fall into. It is when we only focus on How that we begin to worry about failure. Laser vision on WHO we need to be will allow us to be unattached to the outcome and embrace success…because WE control who we are going to be….it is the only thing we control.

So thanks to my coach for reminding me about all this wisdom that I possess. Ask me about him, I would be happy to share his info with you. But more than that, thanks to God for putting people and thoughts in my path to confirm and guide me in the direction that I need to go! Stay tuned….more to come about GPS4Life Ministries!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

My Best Month Ever

I am sleepy this morning- like dozing off where I sit sleepy. Oh, it’s my own fault…I’m burning the candle at both ends right now, and, at times, feels like I am trying to light up the middle too. What happened to my “kick back and relax with the kids summer?”

Here’s my problem in a nutshell. I do too much. I expect too much. I expect to be able to do too much….sensing a trend? Last night, I was listening to Earl Nightingale’s Strangest Secret (thanks so much Lisa, it was needed in the worst way) and he said something that is so true, so right on, but that I struggle to wrap my heart and mind around. He defined success as “the progression to the realization of a worthy ideal.”

Wow! That’s it? No dollar amount, no stuff to count, no prestigious or honorable mention in the history books. I simply have to define MY worthy ideal and move toward it? Yep…it’s that easy.

Here’s the kicker…by that definition, I am wildly successful. HUH? Me? Already successful? But there is so much left to do? Yep, there is. And I am not going to stop doing it, but what does that change for me knowing that I am ALREADY successful? I don’t have to fear failure anymore, because I have already achieved great things. Does that set me free to do even greater things? I believe it does and I am ready to set about the realization of those worthy ideals.

I won’t tell you it’s all cupcakes and butterflies, there is still a lot of hard work. For me a good deal of that is mental. I struggle with breaking the connection between my net worth and my self worth. In many ways, this holds me back from being truly great and from stepping fully into my role as a called minister of God. I struggle with both a fear of failure and, perhaps, a fear of success as well, and this prevents me from maintaining a singular focus on my goal and working to achieve it. But I have a plan to change all this.

Here’s what I am going to do. I am taking Earl Nightingale’s Strangest Secret 30 Day Test. I am committing to focus on my goal of bringing GPS4Life ministries into fruition. I am developing my compelling, detailed and sensory specific vision. I am writing it on a card to carry with me and I commit to actively work to replace negative thoughts with positive, goal oriented thoughts about my vision.

“We become what we think about.” Uh-oh….for me, that has been fear, worry, and, well, laundry, but I am committing to change those thought patterns for something much more compelling: a connected community of Christian women.

I invite you to join with me in one or all of the following ways:

In Prayer. I ask you to pray for my thought life. I have been crippling my Walk with God of late with tons of tiny agreements. Agreements I have made with myself that have shut out my loving and merciful Lord. Pray that I have the strength to break those agreements and stay true to my commitment to change how I have been thinking.

In Commitment. Listen to the Strangest Secret. I have posted the link below. Take his 30 day challenge yourself. Post your comments and let me know how to pray for you. Tell me about your wins and your challenges, as I share with you mine.

In Support and Witness. In one of my favorite movies, “Shall We Dance?” ( no judgments here- it’s really good!), Susan Sarandon’s character, Beverly, is asked why people get married. She says, Because we need a witness to our lives. There's a billion people on the planet, I mean what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you're promising to care about everything...the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things...all of it, all the time, every day. You're saying... Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go unwitnessed, because I will be your witness.” (See! I told you it was a good movie!) While, I’m not asking you to marry me, J I would love your support and your witness to my efforts. I always commit more fully when I have others to support me and hold me accountable.

So Day 1 of the best month of my life starts today. I’m gonna get busy on my compelling vision and perhaps I’ll post it for you later. Download that link, guys. Listen to it! And make today the first day of your new life!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

The Truth About Elvis

This is a true story I wrote several years ago about my first marriage ;). I post it today in honor of my 11th wedding anniversary to my true partner and soulmate. A man who always believes in me, never asks more of me than I can give, and would NEVER trade my love for a pack of cigarettes. I love you, My Chuckles. Thank you for reminding me that true love does not come with conditions.

When I was eight, I married Elvis. No, not the singer... but he did come complete with the black leather jacket, slicked back hair and chops. He even smoked at the tender age of ten and a half. He was so very cool.

We were married in a simple ceremony on the back fire escape of the Episcopal Church on Morningside Drive in Hopkinsville, KY. It was a beautiful fall day; the leaves had just started to turn fiery red and amber gold. He wore his best leather jacket (it had zippers every where) and his good jeans, the one's without the holes in them. I wore my Easter dress and my white patent leather shoes.

I had a fourth grader help me with the marriage license. It seemed only proper to have a marriage license to make the whole thing legal; after all, this was the man of my dreams, and the one I would live with for the rest of my life....after I graduated from elementary school, of course. I was pretty sure one wasn't allowed to buy a house of one's own until you were at least in junior high. We hand wrote the marriage license in ink-the writing utensil of permanence- on Red Chief writing paper (you know, the writing tablet with the lines...I wanted everything to be straight and all.)

Once the legal document was prepared, we talked one of the altar boys from the church into officiating the ceremony and marched up the fire escape to the sounds of my friend, Elizabeth, humming the wedding march. The altar boy said some very official sounding stuff about "sickness and health, life and death, richer or poorer (I just knew we would be some of the richer though)" and then, "husband and may (insert snort and snicker here) kiss the bride." Elvis leaned over and laid a small peck on my cheek (my first kiss) and it was all official. We were married. I was thrilled. My parents, while they indulged my overactive imagination, were not nearly as happy with my chosen husband as I was. I didn't understand.

You see I had chosen the son of THE prominent figure in our town. He was a Grand Wizard! Of what I didn't know or understand until later, but at the time it seemed such a very big deal. Everybody knew who Elvis' daddy was, and were, on some level, afraid of him. I thought it was a great match. Everybody knew my daddy, too. He was the Parks and Recreation Director- a public figure of great importance in a town the size of Hopkinsville. It was perfect.

For three weeks, I lived in wedded bliss. Elvis would walk by my house on his way to school to "pick me up." He would carry my books for me, and sometimes even hold my hand when no one was around. I was simply mad about him. In return, I would buy him cigarettes at the local Jiffy Mart when Mama sent me for groceries. We would meet on the BMX track behind our houses and trade: a peck on the cheek for a pack of Marlboros.

It was a fair deal, I thought. Until I got caught. My Mama was so mad at me she made me go to my room and sit in the dark for the whole night. I thought about running away to live with my husband's family, but I couldn't get my window open, so I just sat there, miserable, dreaming of my knight in black leather.

I wasn't allowed to buy groceries at the local store after that. Mama had called the owner and told him to, under no circumstances, allow me to purchase cigarettes (I had been telling him they were for her...believable story; she did smoke at the time). Without the cigarettes to bond us together, Elvis and I could find nothing in common. Our relationship disintegrated. He stopped walking by my house in the morning, or looking at me in the halls when we passed for lunchtime, or stopping to say,"Hi" when we were out riding on the BMX track. I went back to the fourth grader to file for divorce. We drew up an official document, signed in cursive and everything, but I had to have the fourth grader "represent" me....Elvis wouldn't even come to the door when I tried to serve him with the papers. I was devastated.

I later discovered that Elvis had been forbidden to see me shortly before our divorce. You see, my daddy had built a basketball court on the “colored” side of town. Elvis' daddy, being a Grand Wizard of the KKK and all, got upset and burned a cross in our yard. I didn't understand what burning crosses had to do with basketball or marrying Elvis, but it did open my eyes to a very cruel reality: people, in general, if left to their own devices, will, eventually, break your heart (especially really cool guys in black leather). I still don't know for sure if Elvis really loved me (and we were torn apart by his parent's bigotry) or my cigarettes (and we were torn apart by my parent's discipline), but I did finally figure out why my parents had discouraged our star-crossed union.

I still have those "official" documents. Both neatly printed on Red Chief tablet paper. The marriage license in ink, supposed to be permanent, forever. The divorce decree in pencil, I didn't want that to be permanent, in case Elvis decided cigarettes were less important to him than his young wife. Both signed in the shaky cursive of a third grader. One forged with all the innocent naiveté of a girl who had not yet begun to truly understand people and ulterior motives. One written with the desperate hope that some terrible misunderstanding had taken place and would all be worked out in time.

But both taught me a very valuable lesson: If you have to trade cigarettes for kisses, don't write anything in ink.