Limiting our Limitlessness

Hi.

Let’s talk a little this morning on how we limit ourselves. We all do it. Whether we are limiting our food portions, our snack options, our children from activities, ourselves from being who we are–we limit ourselves.

Here is a song that talks about being limited from the first line:

Now, I agree with speed limits (usually) and age limits (at least I do now, as a teen, I wasn’t too keen on them), and sometimes a good time limit serves a purpose (like when my children need to do their chores or eat a serving of unfavorite veggies off a plate). But, what I want to talk about is how we limit ourselves.

Have you ever said one of these phrases?

  • I can’t do that.
  • I can’t do that (because you are so good at it).
  • I can’t pull that off.
  • I could never _____________.
  • I could never do what you are doing.
  • I didn’t get enough sleep to do that.
  • I can’t deal with that today (or any day).
  • I’m done.

I’m totally guilty of the last one. I say it often…but thankfully not as often as I once did. If you are saying one or more of these phrases, will you stop? Do you know how to stop? Do you want to stop? Can you fill your mind with positive, “I can” statements?

Many of you know that I have half-a-dozen children. I do. They are really cool, and I don’t exactly take credit for them. People sometimes ooooo and ahhhh over my abilities. But they didn’t come into my home all at once. (Two of them came together–and that was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, but that’s another story.) As I had one–or two–at a time, my capacity increased to be able to take care of my children. I was blessed with more insight and patience.

I am undertaking another stretching and creative experience right now. This experience, along with trying to manage my family’s increasingly hectic schedule, has been difficult. But, I have also been blessed to grow and learn with each new undertaking. With the traumas we experienced last fall, my capacities grew again. Right now, I’m working on community outreach with a Writing for Wellness program. With each new endeavor, I learn and grow and become more developed as a human than I was yesterday, or last week, or two months ago.

Certainly, life calls for times of rest and recuperation. Sometimes we are stretched beyond what we are able and we need to ask for help or let some less important tasks go. (Don’t ask me how clean my house is or when the last time I folded laundry was….) But sometimes we need to say YES to stretching ourselves beyond our current abilities. Once we decide to do this, we will have people and opportunities placed in our path where we can work “For Good.”

Will you do it?

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A Salute to Breast Cancer Awareness

I lean her tiny frame against my chest as I see her thin reflection in the bathroom mirror. I know she will not ask for help. Still, she has become so weak, so frail, that even the buttons on her shirt have become difficult for her. I slide my arms around her and begin at the top, pulling, twisting, and releasing each taut button through its stitched hole. As I see her profile in the mirror, I recognize the wear on her face, the shine from the vanity light on her head. I pull her shirt down off her shoulders as the water in the shower streams across the tile, beating rain-like patterns on the glass door. My hands move across her back to unhook her bra, and I slide the straps off her shoulders, remove the prosthesis. I run my hands down her shoulders, across her chest, her collarbone, her space where her breast used to be.

The scar from where she fought like a dragon feels smooth–almost silky–on my fingertips. The new form is different, yes, but beautiful still. Even more beautiful.

I help her climb the small step into the steam of the shower. I look through the glass not yet bathed in water vapor, and I see her again for the first time.

These moments catch me off guard.

I feel like I am the one who should fight this monster for her, but she has had to walk a path through darkness and pain I may never know.

My eyes begin to well, but the tears are not full of loss for her breast, her hair; instead a soft smile covers my face as a tiny drop streams down my cheek. I still have the most important thing to me in the entire world.

I still have her.

(This piece was originally posted here. It remains one of my favorite short pieces that I have written, and the images I see when I read it still touch me. I hope you enjoyed it.)

Soulful Plastic Surgery

Last week, I enjoyed hiking in one of the most amazing places on earth with a dear friend. As we walked and talked, our feet trampled through paths of dirt and mud, puddles and sand, rocks and brush. Our conversation carried themes of hope and despair, lack and encouragement, fear and faith.

In the midst of these words, the topic of happiness (or at least contentedness) with ourselves surfaced. We discussed how, even when we approach a dead body at a viewing or wake, the comments we hear discuss the appearance of the individual (“Doesn’t she look good?” or “He looks so natural.”) more than the work of their lives.

We walked on, and this thought came: “We might be better off to perform plastic surgery on our spirits.”

Of course, that type of change could never occur under a trained physician’s hand holding a scalpel or with the careful eye of an anesthesiologist. Our spirits need to be fed, nourished, strengthened, and loved–and we do that work ourselves.

We begin again to love ourselves, to disconnect from harmful media while connecting to grounding influences such as art, music, and nature. We exercise, balance our chakras, and breathe. We speak loving words to ourselves and others. We spend our moments with those who nourish us and those we nourish in return.

I’ve been blessed to do a number of those things this past week, and my spirit feels new. I’m not crumbling under the heavy weight of others’ (or my own) unrealistic expectations. My spirit is transformed, and I have more to give.

And, I dare say that I feel more beautiful–without a tuck, gummy bear implants, or anesthesia (which scares me, FYI). I am a happier me, and I like who I am.

My spirit is new. And I am still me–only better.

I’m on top of the world.

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🙂

Let the Sunshine In

I spent the last several days surrounded by creativity, youth, and laughter. As much as I hesitated last Friday to embark on a journey way-out-of-my-usual-comfort-zone, I was rewarded beyond belief with gifts of friendship, intellectually stimulating conversation, and connection, accompanied by roller coaster rides and memories of a seemingly distant past brought close again.

Today, I smiled through the usual rush of the morning, helping everyone else on their ways for the day, and then opened the blinds in our family room as preparation for some yoga. I was struck by the beauty of the leaves filling in the space between branches of backyard trees, the fresh smell of rain from last night’s thunderstorm, the understated majesty of lilacs (who once bloomed last in the dooryard). Though the reality of the day is overshadowed by clouds, I am living in a place of gratitude, a place of light.

I am ready for the blessings and challenges today will bring.

My heart is open to let the sunshine in…and let it illuminate–no matter the weather.

🙂

This Non-stop Life

I sent an email to a family member recently who was sending hope and positive energy toward me during yet another large transition. My response went something like this:

“Life doesn’t stop…and when it does, we’re not sure we want it to….”

(Pardon my dangling preposition, please, while you think about that thought for a moment or two.)

Those who are faced with life ending, (or anything ending, really) tend to look back nostalgically on where they’ve been, what they could do better, and where they wish they had spent more time and energy.

I encourage you today, on this Happy Cinco de Mayo, to take an inventory of your life. If your days were numbered (and they are, only you don’t know the number), what would you do TODAY? Would you order out (or cook) Mexican food and have a fiesta or celebration? Would you make more time to write? Would you read that book that you’ve been meaning to read? Would you take a class? Would you learn a new skill? Would you take a step toward greater trust in a relationship? Would you hit the beach? Would you throw out all the clutter? Would you organize something? Would you dance in the rain? Would you have lunch with a child or a lover or your favorite book? Would you visit your grandparents? Would you sing? Would you smile more? (I would.)

Think productivity! Think positivity!

We don’t really have all the time in the world…we just have today.

One Step

I’ve long loved a hymn titled, “Lead, Kindly Light” for its poetry and imagery as well as its haunting melody and harmony lines. One line in particular has been my companion for the last few days–the line that says simply, “one step enough for me.”

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As I wake in the morning, sometimes the first step of the day appears to be the most daunting task I might face. I choose to leave the comfort of down and cotton and warmth and cuddles and step into cool air…and more decisions follow with breakfast and reading and how to spend the precious moments before my filled home empties as my children embrace their work of the day.

This morning, I took a walk with my dear neighbor. We meandered through streets, on and off sidewalks, around bushes and evergreen trees and shrubs. Each step was a decision, whether conscious or not.

Over the weekend, I had multiple responsibilities–and after a busy Wednesday through Friday, I was craving some down time and some sleep. Still, I would take a step forward–a step to help a friend move (even in inclement weather), a step to help build sets for my son’s upcoming play, a step to take my daughters to be part of an activity to help others, to be uplifted, and to rejoice in womanhood. Each step took strength–but with each step, I gained more confidence that I could continue on through my day.

By Sunday, I tried not to fall asleep during the services…but I rejoiced in the steps I had taken through the weekend to help others and to strengthen myself. I heard that line again play in my mind, “one step enough for me.”

I’m currently taking a leap of faith…a step into the darkness…. As I wait for the next step on my path to become clear, I will continue taking steps–steps to serve, steps to understand, steps to live, steps to learn, steps to love.

Where will your steps lead you today?

Beyond Blessed

Today I am feeling overwhelmed with joy…and I wanted to pass some along in your direction.

I have a place to sleep, and it’s filled with people I love.


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My kiddos don’t notice if I cut my hair, much less if I “do” it or put on any make-up. They don’t want me airbrushed in photos. They love me for who I am.


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My husband is one of the most patient men on the planet. I’m convinced. Don’t try to dissuade me. We’ve stood together, ready to tackle the ups and downs of life for many years–and I’m looking forward to an eternity of more.

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I have a cupboard full of food, cabinets overflowing with pans, and a recipe box stuffed with the roadmaps to create our favorite foods. Plus, if I don’t feel like cooking, I have frozen pizza in my freezer or a car with gas to grab take-out.


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I have amazing friends. Need I say more?

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I can listen to favorite songs on demand. Wow. That is so cool.

(See the Spotify Playlist in the sidebar.)

Clean running water, warm showers, and painting my toe nails rock my day. 🙂

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I can smile…anytime. Anywhere.

Karin

What are your favorite blessings right now? How do you celebrate gratitude in your everyday living?