Word for the Year, 2015: Desire

I began late this year.

I usually begin giving serious thought to my Word for the Year somewhere between putting out my fall decorations (goal: mid-September) and Christmas. And often, a word is obvious for me. The word has frequently been a word that caused me to focus on moving through a particular struggle or one to help me further grasp a concept that I am integrating into my life/character.

Brene Brown has been the “BFF-I-Haven’t-Met-Yet” for a few years.
I wrote about her here and here.
Danielle Laporte may just be my new ethereal-BFF.

I love Danielle’s truthbombs. They are short, succinct and powerful. I pin them on my Pinterest Quotes board.  I retweet them on Twitter. And I print them and put them in places that I’ll see them over and over …
like my inspiration board beside my desk …. 

Danielle Laporte's #TruthBomb

on my fridge ….

Danielle Laporte's #TruthBomb
and even sitting on my microwave.

Danielle Laporte's #TruthBomb

This past year, I watched Danielle (via her blog) prepare for the release of a new book. With all the books on my “to read” list, I didn’t immediately think, “I HAVE to get this book!” But, when I happened upon it while shopping at EarthFare the week before Christmas, I flipped through the pages and stood there dumbfounded. Tears welled up in my eyes and I then knew what I wanted for Christmas.
The Desire Map.

And as I stood there, I also knew,
my word for next year will be
desire.

Have you heard this before?

“You will always be too much of something for someone. Be yourself anyway.” 

I have spent my entire adult life trying to tame my passions. But, I’ve come to realize that some of us will always be “too much” for some people. I know that I am too loud and too intense for some people. I dress too masculine for some and too odd for others. I am too busy or active for the slower, laid-back. I ask questions that are too personal or invasive. And I am too honest – I can make the truth a little less painful, but I just can’t intentionally lie.

But … this is the fabulous thing about this wonderful, fascinating world that we live in. There is space for all of us.  If we were all like me … or we were all like you, the world would have no variety … no interest … no great diversity.

It is a tragic thing to spend an entire lifetime trying to please the people around us by muffling our flamboyant spirit, calming our magnificent movement or stilling our fabulously loud voice IF that is who we are.  Likewise, if you are still, quiet and calm …. WHY try to be otherwise? It’s exhausting, isn’t it … to live cloaked and masked? 

Whether you are too much or not enough for those around you, you should still be true to yourself.

I’m learning that it takes a very strong sense of self to be who you are created to be.
I have not been strong … in part, because I have not known who I am.
I have lost that person.
I have doubted that person is acceptable … because I have believed people who thought I was too much. 

I am reminded of a comic strip that I have had for decades. It is discolored and spotted. It has spent a great amount on bulletin boards and under desk glass. And here …. years after I first saw it, I am finally realizing how I may very well have become “a conformist.”

Click over to see clearer image - Jules Feiffer Comic

” … and soon you couldn’t tell me from anybody else.”

Jules Feiffer Comic

My divorce began the process.
I no longer had to try to please someone else.
I could be free to be myself. Karen Freedom!
I could stop trying to figure out what would make someone else happy
and begin to figure out what might make me happy.

I now believe I am enough.
I am not too much or too little.
I am beautiful, strong and creative
and I am enough.

The concept of Danielle’s book is based on the fact that
we set our goals in hopes of receiving certain feelings.
The book is about identifying your desires
and then figuring out how to live in a way that fulfills those desires.

Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world ....

In the physical world,
we jerk our hand away from the hot eye of the stove
when we accidentally make contact
because it is painful.
We do the same thing in our emotional (spiritual) world.
We react to pain. We also make decisions according to pleasure.
We want a certain car, house, relationship or toy
because we think it will make us feel a certain way.
You want a job or promotion, a pat on the back or acknowledgement
because you expect it will make you feel something specific.
Our lives are driven by emotions/feelings. 

In like fashion, we search for happiness or validation in many of our goals and activities.
What if …… we adjusted our goals from physical goals to emotional ones?
Danielle’s book helps you identify what you want to “feel”
and then helps you figure out how to reach emotional goals
so that you live a life more satisfied and emotionally healthy.

This makes so much sense to me … since I’ve lived for so many years
trying to figure out how to please others – and finding that end to be elusive.
If I please “him,” I’m not pleasing “her” …
and if I do what “she” thinks is right, “he” won’t like it.
It is a never-ending, exhausting cycle.
WHY don’t I figure out how to please myself by identifying what I really want
and how I want to FEEL?

To some, this may sound selfish. But, I dare say it feels like self-care and wisdom to me.

And in January, I am going to work my way through Danielle’s book
so that 2015 can be the year that I begin to live according to my desires
rather than living in chameleon fashion by trying to tame who I am
to please someone else.

My word for the year of 2015 is DESIRE.

Have you chosen a word for your year?

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#SorryNotSorry

I’m getting better at this. *claps in support of self*

Let me offer a little back ground on the setting:

Glory’s first experience of living on her own was that of living with two sisters, Bethany and Brittany.  I told the story here in July of 2010.

Glory and Bethany worked together at a local seafood house for quite some time. With cinder block walls, cement floors and messages covering every spot of picnic table or wall that the building has to offer, the place LOOKS like a dive. And it’s amazing. The cooks begin the morning peeling fresh potatoes for a day of frying. They serve all sorts of boiled or fried seafood and don’t even have a single real serving dish on the premises. A pound of crab legs is served on a plastic lid of a 5-gallon bucket. Food is served on paper plates. Paper towels are on the picnic tables and used for cleaning spills and wiping butter-dripped fingers. Beverages are served in clear solo cups.  The price is low and dining is “beyond casual,” the most appropriately fitting restaurant tagline in our town.

Snapchat from Glory when she ran into Bethany at Target

Bethany and Glory forged a friendship in the crazy that is Rhinehart’s type of every-day-busy. While the room-mate arrangement dissolved as the girls went in different directions, their friendship still remains strong. And of all the places that Bethany could be moving after her marriage, her new husband has landed a job in Dallas – the same city where Glory now resides.

Nosalik Wedding

Sometime over the last year or two, Bethany fell for an awesome guy named Josh. Bethany is a softball-playing, blanket-fort-and-color-crayon kind of girl. Glory affectionately calls Bethany her “Five-year-old-best-friend.” The girls saw themselves in the movie Despicable Me so I gave them crayons and coloring books for Christmas this past year.  For the bachelorette party, the girls planned a laser tag outing. Bethany is about as casual and laid back as a girl can be. Glory tells me that Josh is a male version of Bethany. They are well-suited for each other.

So, the fifteen hour distance that is now theirs since Glory has moved to Texas made no difference when it came time for a wedding. I picked up Glory at the airport at 11:00am and we drove the hour to a little country church in Sharon, Georgia for the 2:00pm ceremony.

Sweet little cowboy boots on the flower girl

The church is nestled in a covering of elderly trees.
Mushrooms in dozens of different varieties speckled the church grounds.
I was thoroughly enthralled. MushroomWe got there early enough that I began snapping photos
as I meandered inside.
Wooden planks floored the building and leaded panes of glass filled the sashes.

And that little flower girl? Her dress wasn’t decorated with flowers ….
her sweet tulle skirt was f.i.l.l.e.d with them! How precious!

Flower girl

Before we even sat down, I was overwhelmed with emotion.

At some point …. just  before this happened ….

Josh, Bethany and Glory
Glory teasingly … and seriously told me, “You need to calm down.”
Keep in mind, NOBODY else would have thought anything about my behavior.
I wasn’t loud. I didn’t have out my big camera. I wasn’t even crying.
But, she knew I was moved.
In that split second  …
I did that thing that I do.
I felt myself stuff my emotions …. forcefully smash them down and try to be “small.”
I felt the “click” inside that said, “Be small. Make yourself invisible.”
“I’m sorry, ” I said ….
and I remembered this Pantene video
(that, yes, it still makes me cry every time I watch it):

Just as quickly as I said, “I’m sorry,”
I turned back to her and gave her that ruffled-brow look and said,
“No I’m not. I’m not sorry.”
And I think she knew …. it was a good thing …
and a very small, itsy-tiny little …. HUMONGOUS thing!

I love Danielle Laporte’s TruthBomb

“You will always be too much for someone. Be yourself anyway. “

I’ve spent a good bit of my life with people who have smaller, more timid personalities.
They don’t want to be noticed and they don’t want to be singled out.
They were people-pleasers who didn’t want to be “different” from others.

Trying to fit in … to be like others … to NOT be different
is counterintuitive to every person who walks on this earth.
We are all individuals. We are unique and intricately original.
I’ve wasted much too much time and energy trying to keep the person beside me
comfortable
while he or she also worked really hard to be invisible …
and it is exhausting.

In my heart of hearts … I just want to be me.
Each day, I see a little more clearly
the ways that I have learned to hide, stuff and smother my originality.
And each day, I become a little more brave to be  …. myself.

Right after my exchange with Glory, Bethany’s dad walked her down the aisle
and we watched Josh and Bethany make the vow of a lifetime.

Bethany, Josh and Glory

And in that cool afternoon
both Bethany and I
moved one step closer
to a new life. IMG_4415

What areas do you struggle?
Do you try to “be small” to please those around you?
Do you catch yourself saying “I’m sorry?”
What changes are you making to reclaim that part of you that you have lost?
Mushroom

Makes Me Happy Monday : Birthday Band

A few months ago, with birthday money from my parents, I bought myself a present.
Bands of protection

I have been looking for a second intricate band for quite some time now. The one of the far right is one I purchased on the Savannah River Front at least …. 20 years ago? It was made by a craftsman who had a table of silver, bronze and gold bands and jewelry. I still remember how excited I was to purchase it!  When I was married, I wore it from time to time with my wedding band and engagement ring. I have always loved it. Today, it bears the scars of being worn flat on the edges that press up against other bands. But, it is still beautiful.

Some time ago, I wrote (here) about how I still wear stacked rings that could be mistaken for wedding bands on my left hand even though I am divorced.  One of those bands was lost at the beach … and several others have since been thrown away as they were inexpensive jewelry that tarnished quickly.

Circles of gold and silver

The new band is primarily gold with a twisted cord of silver worked into the body.
I always thought of my old band as being representative of my marriage. It has two smooth cords and one textured one, each of about the same thickness. The silver, textured cord was me … because I’m more bumpy and intricate. The smooth, silver cord was my spouse as he was easy-going. And smooth gold strand was God … of greater value than either of us.

Looking for parallels in the spiritual physical world .... I see all of life this way!
It is a constant search to apply spiritual realities
to the physical world around us.
I am in constant search of metaphors or parables.

I love that the new band seems to fit my life today.
The gold is still God.
He is smooth and constant … never-ending.
He is gold, so He is of great value.
He is also represented with a much wider strand.
And I am still silver.
I am bumpy, intricate and tarnish easily.
And I am tucked inside His beauty …
I am of greater value because He encircles me.
His presence beside me enhances who I am and makes me more beautiful.

My latest ring

I wear bands that can be mistaken for wedding bands so that I can be comfortable being myself. I am friendly to all people … children, men and women. But, I sense that my friendliness is sometimes misinterpreted as being flirty.  I do not mean it that way, so I wear bands so that I don’t look like a single woman being flirty. I don’t “look” like a woman trying to get fresh with a man … because … in reality, I’m not. I am not searching for dates right now.

But, if some guy comes along and is brave enough to ask questions about me …  my marital status … and why I wear the rings, that would be fabulous. The key to me is that he would have to ASK. I want someone courageous enough to ask questions … to pursue and investigate. THAT is of utmost importance to me. So, wearing bands on my left hand is actually a screening, of sorts. And if no man comes along that is an investigator, so be it. I’d rather be alone than live my life with someone who doesn’t push limits, ask questions and probe.

My bands

I  have loved stacking rings for decades.  And I am thankful to have found a beautiful new piece of quality craftsmanship.
What a treat that I was able to buy it with birthday money … making it all the more special.

My new birthday band makes me happy!
What makes YOU happy this marvelous Monday morning?

Tim’s Sally’s Sweet Creation & Love

As fall turns the corner, the days shorten and the nights lengthen
while our minds and bodies slow.
Sometimes, the adjustment from summer energy to winter slumber
can leave us lethargic or feeling slovenly
as we go about doing what we must do.

Augusta Canal ... dew drops on vine

One Saturday morning, I was exploring the creative corners of the Pinterest world
and I came across a “Tim’s Sally” image that struck me.
Tim’s Sally is Mindy Lacefield.
You can find her here on Facebook  and here on  Flickr.
She is quite amazing!
Her artwork is passionate, colorful, expressive and encouraging.

And the image that caught my eye?
This is what I saw.

I identified
with the sweet, whimsical
…. and slightly disheveled …. bunny
standing stoically on the left.

stuffimadeatartfest

I looked at her
and IMMEDIATELY THOUGHT,

“HEY! That’s how I feel on the InSiDe!”

Sometimes I feel like a character out of a Tom and Jerry cartoon
with eyes off-kilter …
and little stars and birds circling my head …
I walk with a wobble
and *boom* fall down from time to time.

Life is beautiful, wonderful, lovely and warm … sometimes.
Other times …. it’s a challenging, whirling mess …
that can quickly spiral into confusing chaos.

I find I spend much of my time creating.
I am painting, repairing and mending,
sewing, darning and altering,
reading, writing and collaging.
It’s a new day … a new place to live … free to create
rather than listening to that voice-not-my-own that tells me
there are other things that I should be doing …
things of greater “importance” or “value.”
It’s a good place. It’s a happy place.
And yet … at times, it’s a slightly unsteady place
to reside … if for no other reason than it is new.

This message keeps returning to me: Do what you do with love.
Everything you do is a gift. Give it graciously.

In these uncertain days of government untidiness and personal turmoil,
family mayhem, relationship confusion and work struggles …
immerse yourself in doing whatever it is that you must do
with love.
Do it as worship. Do it as well as you are able … and keep moving.
On those days that you identify with a slightly bedraggled image of yourself,
be encouraged that your actions … no matter how large or small ….  are all worship.
They are all art. They are all giving.
No matter where you spend your days …  at home, in an office, in a store or a school  …
whether the diapering of a little one, the cleaning of messes,
the filing of paperwork, typing of reports or the selling of goods ….
whether making meals, running errands or sitting through meetings …
every action is a sacrifice that can offered with love
for those around you.

Do everything in love 1 Corinthians 16:14

So, I encourage you. As you go about your days …
wherever you spend your time,
rather than focusing on the doing,
rest in loving as you do.

 

I want to be a Cheerleader

I want to be a  real-life *shakes pom-poms and jumps in the air* sold-out cheerleader!
Life is just tough sometimes … discouraging … frustrating … confusing.
This morning, Glory called for our mid-morning catch-up chat.  She brightens my days, my life, my world.
If only I could influence her the way that she does me!
With her chipper, sunshine-y voice beaming through the phone into my world, she says,
“Good morning! HoW aRe y0u?”
Very out of character, I sigh and respond, “Do you really want to know?”
I can feel her caution. “Uhm. Maybe I don’t?”
But, it’s life …. isn’t it …. to run into snags and struggles.
And there are a few people that we can let in to those tender spots and those dark places and tell the truth.
Glory knows. Sweet Glory

I share just a minute and say, “Sometimes, I just feel like I need a cheerleader.”
And she’s almost offended. “I AM YOUR CHEERLEADER!!”
And she is.
“I know! That’s what I meant!”
We talk through this mess and she says
with her sweet chirpy voice, “You can do it, Mom!”

As her words spilled forth, I remembered the commercial.

I have been one to RARELY watch television,
but lately, I find myself sitting and working on projects
and after the room has been quiet for long enough,
I turn on the tv.
I listen more than I watch.

And I am finding God using Kelly Ripa’s sweet voice to encourage me.

As Glory and I chat, I search Youtube and play – over the phone – the Colgate commercial.
The commercial is about toothpaste …
but I find myself hearing Kelly Ripa’s voice in situations
that don’t involve eating healthy, fresh breath or whiter teeth.

Three times
in thirty seconds
Kelly Ripa says
“You can do it.”
I LOVE it!

We all need cheerleaders.
We need people
who don’t get angry if we don’t do it “their way” …
who allow us to be ourselves without being embarrassed simply by association ….
who let us make mistakes and don’t turn their backs on us because we aren’t through growing ….
who offer unconditional love even if we hurt them on occasion …
who ask for forgiveness with a humble heart because it keeps communication open, moving and healthy ….
who support us even when our idea sounds crazy and unattainable.
We all need friends and cheerleaders
who put each others feelings and emotions
ahead of our own.

We can’t be this kind of cheerleader for ALL people …
but each of us has a group of people
who is included in this type circle.

I want to be this kind of person.
I want to be the one who says, “You can do it!”
And …. more importantly ….
I want the person I am speaking to
know.that.I.believe.it.is.true
because I believe in them.
My thoughts, expressions and actions
have shown that my words are not empty.
I want to be a cheerleader.

Boyfriend Wisdom

Back in March, I was reading through some old emails I had written to Stone.
In one particular email, I was pining for him. It was more prose than a letter.
I found my eyes tracking slowly
with a saddened surprise …
as I read my own words.

Stone and I were reunited as friends last summer at the first of June.
We camped together once or twice a month until September
when we decided to date …. long distance – Augusta to Atlanta.
We talked on the phone once or twice a week when he found time to call.
He is always busy.
We continued to visit as often as our “pre-dating” months …
about once or twice a month (truly not enough to “build” a strong relationship of any sort).
By November, our friendship was a solid five months old.
I didn’t realize that even as far back as November,
I wanted something that wasn’t available to me …
or in other words …
I needed something that Stone couldn’t offer.

In the email from November that I found myself re-reading back in March,
I read these words.
I sunk into a telling slump as reality was revealed in my heart.
My thoughts when we first met last June …
were the same as in November …
and hadn’t changed as late as March, almost nine months later.

I wrote:

I want you to trust me, too.
I want to understand the things that are difficult for you
so that I will be tender.
I want us to be able to talk through the tough stuff
without you having to change the subject.
*scratches head and wonders “Why do guys do that?”*
I want you to show me … explain to me …  so I can listen
and understand
and edify you and lift you up … build you up.
I want to be your helper.
I already love you.
I long for the day that we have enough history and depth
that I know that I am your best friend,  preferred over any other companion.
Time is good for that.

When the conversation became deep or difficult, Stone would change the subject.
“It’s a beautiful day, isn’t it?,” he would ask … until Joy or I would give in
and let him change the subject to his topic of choice.
This is the way he is built. It is who he is. And that’s fine.
I prefer to work THROUGH the difficult, not skip around it and ignore it.
This is who I am. I’m different from him. And that’s fine.

Back in March, I found myself in bed late at night when Glory came flitting into the house. I heard the door slam and she yelled for me until she found me.  She was getting ready to move out. She found a new room-mate and was ready to try it again on her own. She was excited. I had heard all about Elaine, but I don’t believe I had yet met her. The two came into my room and sat to chat for a bit. Quickly, the topic of Elaine breaking up with her boyfriend came up. I was interested. “Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “Oh, no … don’t be sorry. It’s okay,” she replied. “What happened?” … was naturally my next question. Glory had to flutter away to gather some important things – probably laundry – before they flew back off again. Glory left Elaine sitting at the foot of my bed to tell the story.

Elaine’s calming voice told the story in a rich voice with an unusual inflection that I can’t describe, much less mimic. She said, as time went along, she found she would call one friend to join her for a movie. If she was sad, she would call a different friend for support. If she had great news, there was yet another who came to mind to be the first to share in her celebration.
And it began to occur to her …
she called her boyfriend
less … and … less often
to share in the day to day ups and downs,
trials, tribulations and celebrations
of her life.
And she knew.
Her “boyfriend” … was not her “best friend.”

I sat there dumbfounded.
This child …
this young girl of one score …
had nailed on the head
my relationship with Stone …
without even telling her story with that intention.
She had boyfriend wisdom that I did not.

It was no accident that she sat at the foot of my bed telling me this story …
this complete stranger … but friend to my daughter …
beautiful and wise, young and knowing.

I spent several months confused, perplexed, conundrumed. The more I was drawn to Stone (from September to April), the more I found him an impenetrable, well fortified fortress. He protected himself superbly from injury, not letting me in … at least, not in the way that I need in a relationship. And that is no insult to him … it is how he is built. I am built differently.   He has been injured and there places he was unwilling to go, there were topics he was unwilling to put on the table. We all have these injuries. There were places he would not give. We all have these places.  When I would share, “This is how a woman feels about ….. ,” he would reply that the idea was ridiculous or insinuate that it was silly. He simply did not understand me … understand how women are built. And that’s fine. He would say, “I just want to be Stone,” letting me know that it was just too much work to be pliable and flexible.  I do not want to change him. I wanted to share with him … but not make him someone he was not.

He was always telling me, “Let it go.”
I realized that I did, in fact,  need to let it go.
I needed to step back and leave him alone … let him be himself.
He is a wonderful man with incredible attributes.
But, the longer we were together
the more I realized that I was just
too.much.work
for him.

The harder I tried to be who he needed to be
(non-analytic … more reserved …. less emotionally revealing ),
the more I felt MYSELF becoming lost.
I was building my own walls and fortress.
I even found that I had formed an almost invisible grimace and flinch
that showed itself very quietly
when I was afraid that I wouldn’t please him …
when I would wear something, do something or say something
that I thought Stone wouldn’t like.
I doubt Stone ever saw it.
But, it was there. More than one friend saw it and pointed it out to me.
I didn’t even know it was there.
I was again in a relationship with a man that I was trying to please
by being what he needed
rather than by being myself
and in being myself
being the person he needed.

Stone was not my best friend …
and I realized
as I listened to Elaine talk …
that he never would be …
because I was trying so hard to change to be what he needed
that I was losing myself …   again.

How can we have a best friend
or be a best friend
if we are not ourselves?

Just a few days before my conversation with Elaine,
I saw a quote somewhere in cyberspace
that hit me right.between.the.eyes.
God is good that way … to speak to me about a topic time and time again
and help me work it through. I’m always looking for Him.
I thought about it. I shared it with friends. And then,
I made it into a magnet and placed it on my refrigerator as a reminder …
and to give me courage
to do the right thing
and set Stone free.

Soon I would travel to Atlanta to spend spring break at Stone’s house. Joy and I went over during the Masters Tournament. It was wonderful to be there and spend our evenings with him. During the day, Joy and I traveled about sight-seeing and visiting. We rode the Marta Monorail downtown for a day. We went to Stone Mountain. We spent a few days at Lake Lanier.
But I knew that I would soon need to step away
and stop trying so hard.
Stone and I needed to just be friends
and no more.

And on a bike ride event weekend on the third weekend in April,
I handed Stone a beautiful handmade card
that declared my love and affection,
and let him know that he was right …
I needed to let him be himself
and I needed to be myself.

He began to read the card aloud. I told him he probably didn’t want to do that
as his son was within earshot.
He asked if I was breaking up with him. I told him yes.
He then refused the card … in true form … refusing to look at anything difficult.
I looked down and said, “That’s just it, the reality remains the same
whether you acknowledge it or not.”
I had to share what I was doing and why.
He would rather say, “It’s a beautiful day!”
We are built different … he and I.
And that’s a fine.

I love that God will use
a plethora of situations like
daily events,
His grand, marvelous creation,
accidents like spilled cereal
or a young girl with gorgeous, brown doe-eyes,
covered in ink, beautiful and quiet,
to speak into my life.

I said from the start that I believed that my friendship with Stone was orchestrated by God. I said over and over and that I would remain with him until God showed me differently. We have a great deal in common. Stone and I both love to ride bikes, swim, camp and hike. We worship the same amazing, grand God who created this beautiful world of trees, rocks, water, earth and fire. It was hard to come to grips with the idea that he and I were not meant to be a couple. Stone used to tell me we were getting older and didn’t have time to waste. Like the forty-year old, childless woman who believes her biological clock is ticking and knows she needs to have children sooner than later,  he is right. Stone and I are nearing fifty and we have no time to waste.

But, I see it differently. I do not have time to waste being in an unrealistic relationship.
And I certainly do not want to be married and alone. I have done that before.
I’d rather be single than squander my time painfully trying to be someone I am not.
I do not expect him to sacrifice in that way either.
He has too much to offer and is too grand in spirit
to squander his days
with a woman who has needs that he is not built to fill.
The blessing here is that I figured this out
before it was too late.

Always looking for a fight

I shop the “scratch and dent” area first …
knowing there is value in the wounded.
I will pick up an item off the side of the road …
knowing that a little tender loving care can put that treasure back into good use.
I will take the product with the rumpled package off the shelf
and choose to purchase it from the store
over the item that is still pristine and neatly wrapped …
simply because I know it is less desirable to most shoppers.

I see this tendency to gravitate towards the difficult
when I run, as well.
I prefer the hills … the push … the work.

I love running UP stairs. I actually look for stairs to conquer.

And when riding my bike, the downhill ride feels out of control for me.
Others love the “wheeeeeee” moment of fast travel down an incline …
I find myself braking when my speedometer tips over the 31mph point.
MY favorite part of the hill is the intentional, difficult work
of each.revolution.of.the.pedals
as I push my way UP the hill.

I have given this much thought and have come to realize
that this passion is because I know in my head
that the w.o.r.k … the difficult and taxing
is when I am broken down.

Do you understand the principle behind building muscle? When you push yourself physically, your muscle strands will tear or break. When you find yourself sore after a day of exertion, you are experiencing the cries of your broken muscle fibers. As your body repairs itself, those strands will actually be slightly larger than they were before exercise. This growth – tearing down and building up –  is what causes your body to become more muscular. So, in reality, the tearing down of your muscles is a GOOD thing … because it stirs growth and strengthening or your body.

This principle applies to every area of our lives …
though the physical process is the only one that works
with or without our intentional focus.
Your body will repair itself (if you are in fairly good health)
whether you think about it or not.

Like Jesus spoke in parables, paralleling the spiritual and physical worlds, God convicts and teaches me through similar daily events.

There is a parallel in the spiritual world … but health is much more important here.

Simply living life brings with it injury and wounds of the emotions and the spirit.
In the same way that the seasons have order, so is there order in the emotional and spiritual world.
Grieving, for example, involves: shock/denial, pain/guilt, anger/blame, sadness/depression, acceptance/moving on.
Some people go through these steps in a slightly different order …
some people work through one quickly and hang onto another for years.
But, for the most part, these are the steps involved in the grieving process.

Being able to look at your pain is of utmost important to the healing process.
Some people are incredibly uncomfortable with this
but … for some reason, I embrace it.
It is an important factor in health.
And I want to be healthy … and strong.
All this examination and work … takes time. Yes, life takes time.

In some friendships,
I have gotten frustrated because I want to talk things through
but …  my friend won’t engage.
Eventually, I came to word it this way about one particular friend
whom I should have been deeply intimate but wouldn’t talk ….
“I can’t get a good argument out of him.”

I used to wonder, “WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?” 
It’s been such a wonderful to thing to realize …
there is NOTHING wrong with me.
I am simply a digger … an investigator …
I want to figure out the “why” so I can understand.
Just because my friend and I operated differently,
doesn’t meant that either of us is “wrong!”
There is nothing wrong with me … OR him … we’re just different.
What freedom!

In the past several years, I have come to realize that
I.look.for.struggle.
I.desire.the.work.in.relationships.
I.seek.out.the.tough.stuff.  

I search for the one in the crowd who is in need of a boost ….
and I do my best to lift them up.
My ears are in tune to the one who says,
“I would like to exercise …. but ….”
I try to uncover the source of their hesitation
and encourage them to overcome that
and get moving.
I have loved the teenage years with each of my children …
because those are the years of intensity.
I choose to “go deep” in conversation fairly quickly …
although it’s often “work.”   THAT is where the richness, density and depth are found.

And so, yes, I am always looking for a fight. I’m searching for worth and value in every relationship. I am willing to fight and struggle through the bumps and potholes in a friendship as long as I do not find myself attacked for my tenacity and accepted for who I am.  I am willing to stick it out and struggle through the tough stuff … even when things get rough. Relationships are messy … and people are worth it.

What about you? Are you a “fighter” married to or the parent of a “peace-keeper” that avoids confrontation … maybe because it’s too painful for them?  Have you ever wondered, “What is wrong with ME?”  Nothing is wrong with you, my friend, if you’re fighting for the right things and doing it in the right way (a sometimes confusing distinction). Unless you are being attacked for being yourself  …  stick it out! Be encouraged. Don’t give up. Relationships are messy, but people are worth it. If your tactic has been refused, find another way to love that person. Figure out their language and love them where they are. But, don’t quit. Don’t give up. Even if the final outcome in your relationship isn’t as you had hoped and prayed, you will know that you did your best and you fought for them ’til the end.

I’ll never be Forty-nine

When someone asks your age,
do you have to s.t.o.p and figure out your answer?
I have had to do this for Y.E.A.R.S  … and year and years!!!!

In the early years, there are so many milestone birthdays, starting with thirteen, the year a child becomes a “teen.” Then fifteen and sixteen swing through with hoopla and the independence that new driving privileges usher forth. Eighteen allows you to vote and be held responsible for your actions within our law system. And at twenty-one, you are a legal drinker.

After that ….. is there a big milestone birthday?

Big “O’s” shake some people … but thirty and forty just didn’t make me tremble.

I am surrounded with friends who are turning 50 …
and frankly, some are a bit shaken up by this “turning point.”
Oh! There are plenty of things that concern me about my future …
but the number on my birthday cake is not one of them.

While riding trails on Friday afternoon,
I decided that I’m going to s.k.i.p a birthday altogether.

From now ’til September, when people ask me, “How old are you?”
I am going to answer, “Next year, I will be 50 years old.”
And in September, I will change my answer to, “I’ll be 50 on my next birthday.”

You know how some women will tell people they are 29
or 39
for years and years?

I really don’t want to ever have to answer the “How old you?” question
with “49.”
For some reason, I think people might think that I’m not r.e.a.l.l.y 49 …
I’m just hanging onto that number because I don’t want to move on.

So, I’m just going to leave 48 behind, skip over 49 altogether
and move on to 50!
Let’s embrace this! I just want to go ahead and take the bull by the horns!!
I’m going move right on past any fretfulness that might try to wiggle its way into my perspective.

I know for a fact that I am in the best shape I have been in my life. I run almost every day … up to three miles at least twice a week. After spending my entire life with a weak upper body, I can now do a few strong push-ups and one (almost beautiful) pull-up. I am at a good weight – AND I stayed at this good weight all the way through the holiday season and winter! Yay! I make wise food choices and  …
I may be a divorcee, but I am a loving person with a big heart.
I do my best at most anything I do and
while I have failed in multiple areas of life,
I seek God’s direction and fellowship
and know He loves me and forgives me
even though, frankly, I’m a mess.
The things that I can control – my attitude and my choices –
are handled to the best of my ability,
with the Holy Spirit as my Guide and Mentor.

WHY would the number “50” be a bad thing?

So, there ya have it.
I’m skipping the 49th year altogether.
I’ll be 50 next year.
And I am wonderfully, perfectly pleased with that.

Stone gave me $#*@ for Christmas

I spent several days last week with Stone. He had a Christmas party at his home on Thursday. He was a bit overwhelmed with the addition of preparing for and hosting a party on top of regular life, so I offered to step in with my help of manual labor. I drove over on Wednesday evening so that I had the entire day Thursday to clean. I love community projects. I’ve had friends come over to help me clean or paint or move. I know how much it means to have another pair of arms and legs help on any project.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m not Amish at heart ; the thought of barn raisings or quilting bees makes me warm inside. I was excited to be able to help Stone.

The timing was such that his party fell just before the North Atlanta Rock and Gem Trade Show. Just a few years ago, Joy and I attended a similar show here in Augusta.We spent two or three hours purusing the tables, asking questions and exploring the interesting examples of God’s handiwork in gems and fossils. This beautiful ammonite (an ancient relative of the modern day Nautilus) sits on a collection shelf in our home, a treasure that we brought home for that show.

When Stone invited me to attend the show in Atlanta with him … I was … beside myself with excitement. To think that I would be attending a show with my own personal guide was … well … thrilling, to say the least. Stone’s teacher’s heart alongside my inquisitive, ever-questioning spirit would make a super match … well, for ME anyway!!

With rows and rows of tables and booths
pretties that sparkled and tinkled
and fossils with stories of old,
we spent four full hours meandering and investigating.
As the end of the show drew close, we had to move a bit faster.
I am certain we could have spent at least another two or more hours,
had we had the time to linger longer.

Before we arrived, Stone suggested that I keep my eyes open for a pair of earrings or a necklace that I admired. He offered to buy them for me as a Christmas gift. I searched throughout our visit, but only saw two little bracelets (bracelets that I would add to the string that I wear daily)  that I really wanted to wear out of the show. As we neared the end of the afternoon, Stone asked, “Is there anything here that you’d love to have?”

I shared with him that there was something I was contemplating buying …. but just couldn’t decide if I could justify the amount of money that it cost. He queried for more information.

I took him by the hand and led him back to Stones and Bones table.

You know everything that lives … has to breathe, grow, eat and poop … right? Has it ever occured to you that a dinosaur that left behind footprints …



might also leave behind poop? … that could turn into a fossil? …. a fossil, that when cut in half, could be polished
and stunningly beautiful?

There I stood beside this table of fossils and bones … explaining to my geologist boyfriend
that I really wanted a piece of coprolite.
He was quick to laugh at me and tell me that he couldn’t possibly buy me dinosaur dung for Christmas!!
“What will your friends think? What will Della say?”
But, who decides what is a gift and what is not? If we give a gift to please someone ….
if we desire to offer something that is exactly what the recipient wants …
then why in the world should the gift be limited to that which is
“socially acceptable” by all standards
rather than simply desired by the beneficiary?

I assured him that this was something that I wanted … no matter how silly it might seem to others.

So, gift it he did.
I’ve already showed my gift to at least a half dozen people including my friend, Carin, as we supped on coffee at Starbucks yesterday morning and Jason at the Apple Store in the mall. I took my present with me to show Carin because I knew she would appreciate  … NOT the present itself … but how much the present means to ME! She gets it … and she was so thrilled for me. She tells me time and again, “When you talk about Stone, you glow!”  I feel that is true. He is a gift to me … a gift for which I am grateful.After Starbucks, I went to the Apple Store to purchase a cover for my Macbook and ended up in conversation about rocks with the store Genius. Turns out Jason is a fossil hound and rock collector, too. As he rang up my purchase, I ran out to my van to retrieve my prize so I could show it to him. I just don’t care how silly I look …. why not share excitement about life with others? Right?Yes, the topic even came up at Aerie in the mall as I chose new lingerie … and with the sweet cashier at Williams and Sonoma as I picked out a wonderful gift for Stone’s dining table. Can you tell I’m tickled? I’m sure Stone will give me another gift … something that doesn’t sound as ridiculous as dinosaur poop …..
but … really …. is there something that would be quite as neat and fascinating to me?
Coprolite will be really hard to beat!!
So, as silly as it sounds, my boyfriend gave me #%@& for Christmas.
And I couldn’t be more happy.