Dreams or plans, one and the same?

If you were asked to describe your hopes, dreams and plans, what would you say?

I always like to add “if money was not an issue,” as that and scheduling are two dream blasters.

“Alaska,” my friend said. A dispatcher at a local hospital, most of her waking time was spent making those connections .. all .. day … long.

When I saw her post the photos on her timeline, I knew. She reached her dream. Then came the stories of Alaska in the spring. Of what a typical day looks like. And how big the plants get.

Day planners. Calendars. Lists. Bulletin boards.

I guess it is one thing to say “hey I am dreaming of one day ….” And then you fill in the blank, and actually do it. Or not?

We hear people talk about winning the lottery, finding their pot of gold, hitting it big or their ship may one day “come in.”

The sun sets. The sun rises. And we find we are no closer to our goals than we were before.

One woman, when asked to describe her dream vacation, went into great detail. Every move, every plan. How much it would cost. Where she would go next. I was like wowwww. Now there is a planner.

So I looked at my own dreams. And plans. Suddenly it made sense why some of my dreams came true and some did not. (Although truth be told, sometimes your dreams can change as time goes on. Maybe you learned something new to add to your list of dreams.)

A plan.

Some folks are list makers and others ‘movers and shakers,’ some like to go with the flow and others swim against it.

I’m a list maker. Mundane notes of where to go, what is needed, maybe something inspirational I heard, an observation or a hmmm.

One plan I have .. since this is the month of June .. is to make a plan on paper. (No special reason why I picked June, it’s just hey, it’s June!) Corporations, large organizations, non-profits, government entities, and even churches do this.

A 100 page report of a “strategic plan.”

What is yours?

Tomorrow we will talk about “Where do I start?”

Life is an adventure. But it doesn’t have to be haphazard.

Grow your dreams

At present moment, the weekend half over, I sit and ponder a thought that hit me earlier today.

It started with a cup of coffee.

I was having a morning coffee with a friend and suddenly, she said “Wow, that cup went fast.”

And that is when I realized she was drinking from a smaller cup than usual.

So of course, the cup went fast!

But then I was thinking, as thinkers often do, of other sudden epiphanies .. and realized .. the same is true in life.

Grab a small cup, get a small cup. Choose a larger cup and fill it up, and perhaps that will hit the spot.

When we dream of things we’d like to see come to fruition in our lives, I wonder if too often, we inadvertently grab the smaller cup.

The quick cup. The safe cup.

The routine cup.

The same as yesterday and so forth.

A hair salon.

I was getting a haircut one day and a friend passed by and of course as you do, greet one another and hey how are you.

He asked me about my blog. And what about the YouTube channel.

I was speechless and found myself suddenly trying to figure out where it all went. Time has passed.

Did I grab the small cup?

The newsroom.

I so love the smell of newsrooms.

I am so grateful that I have grabbed the larger cup and have made room to fill it up with my dreams. Freelance full-time, write my next several books, get busy on creating a YouTube channel.

This friend does not know, but running into him changed the course of my life for the better. My creativity has returned and somehow, I have found my purpose again.

So there. A coffee cup. A haircut. And a newsroom.

What does your dream look like, and what are you going to do to bring it to pass? Everyone has a purpose in life.

Tomorrow, let’s talk about plans.

Thoughts versus Emotions

Happiness. Good cheer. Positivity. Kindness. Goodness. Self control.

Lack of peace. Confusion. No boundaries. Dismay. Despair.

The two groups of words contrast just like light and darkness.

Many times, when I have shared my story before a group of people at an event, at church, or elsewhere, people have asked me ..

“How do I get over it? How do I release the pain of my past? What do I do with these feelings of depression and despair? How do I forgive the one who hurt me?”

And our conversation then floats to the usual .. what does your support net look like? Have you considered counseling? Are you in a church?

Do you have any close friends who can walk beside you? Do you have any hobbies you enjoy?

The room gets quiet as the soul considers .. what can I change to bring about my healing?

For me, emotions flow freely. It goes along with creativity. Creatives see and feel, express. Emotions come out in my writing and in my crafts. I turned to creativity as I worked through confronting the pain of my past.

Then later, I learned, through various friends, counselors, books and podcasts, that one can improve one’s emotions through a renewed thought process.

Replacing downer thoughts with positive thoughts.

Example: I could never attempt that (goal, dream, occupation, pursuit, etc) because I am not enough (not smart enough, not physically strong enough, not mentally strong enough.)

The Flip: With God’s help, I could accomplish that. I am not sure how, but I am willing to research, learn, grow, practice.

Our emotions and general outcomes can improve when we go after our thought process.

Last night, I delivered a talk in front of nearly 75 people.

And did so with confidence.

There was a time in my life .. even ten years ago .. where that would have been a challenge. But one of my college professors told me that I would one day be a professional speaker and have the ability to move people to greater things. I remember shaking my head, and also remember how all of us in speech class, except one, shook like crazy when we got up to speak.

Thoughts.

A very sweet lady I know has claimed Philippians 4:13 (from the Bible) as her verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

Encouragement.

There is more we could explore on this topic. But for today, ask yourself .. is there something you are not doing, or not trying, exploring or living because of the fear of failure? Or because the emotions just are not there?

I feel like thoughts are the wagon that pull our emotions. If we determine our thoughts, our emotion will follow.

Focus on the positive

Ice froze a solid curtain on my vehicle windows this morning, and like everyone else in central Florida, I waited until my defroster cleared up all of my windows and mirrors until I ventured out to work.

After putting in four hours at work, the rest of the day was flex, so I thought hey I will clean the house.

(Yes I see you smile, you know where this is going.)

I felt certain that it would be a personally productive day because I made a list in my colorful day planner that I bought to make sure that 2022 was extra cheerful.

Starving, I grabbed a bag of nacho chips and a cup of coffee (yes, not a good snack for diabetics), and ate so many that I suddenly felt sleepy.

Well the back yard looked sunny.

After I stepped out, I sat in my chair by the now cold and empty fire pit. The sun felt great and gloriously warm on my face, and I seriously almost went to sleep in the yard.

(Aside from a wicked sunburn, I am sure that would have been refreshing.)

Talked to one of my kids a while. Watered flowers and took the sheets off them that I had wrapped around the bushes a few days before. It was as if the garden breathed a sigh of relief.

Squirrels barked at me from above, fatter than usual.

And after an hour outside, I thought hey I need to get on the cleaning.

Ha.

Went to the bathroom to fetch a brush out of my “hair utensils” drawer and the drawer stuck.

Well then it was “on.”

I unpacked the whole thing. The WHOLE thing.

Figured I probably saved about fifty bucks in hair barrettes and brushes because I found them all held captive by my eight different flat and curl irons.

And three fuzzy rollers.

After the hair purge, I felt pretty good, but it was time for coffee.

Well it is flex time, I thought, so I will take out that acrylic nail kit I got at the major retailer for like $8.

I remember telling my bestie, if I can master this, think how much money I can save. On nails that is.

No, I’m not vain. I’m very girlie. And nobody can dispute those suckers (acrylic nails) stay on pretty good.

Well.

Upon opening the bottle of acrylic I nearly gassed myself and that, yes, was through my N95 mask.

Heck, no.

I put the lid back on, and looked down at the nail tips I had glued on and thought well what am I going to do now?

I ran out the back door, gasping for clean air and turned the kitchen fan on.

(In my head, I felt stupid for thinking I could do my own acrylics.)

Hard pass.

So there went another hour and a half of my day, and I found myself frustrated.

But yet, it was a good day. I had a great conversation with my youngest daughter, spent some time in my garden, made Mexican casserole for supper and put away folded clothes.

Not too bad I guess 🙂

There is always a brighter side. Even when your list goes by the wayside. When your project doesn’t turn out. When you feel like you have failed, you really have not.

Tonight, as I listen to the Christmas Canon from TranSiberian Orchestra, I think of how grateful I am for this life. What a wonderful day. How blessed I am.

Shine your light in a dark world

While browsing a local retailer in search of Christmas gifts for my family, I overheard one woman tell another woman that this year, she is not going to put up a Christmas tree or decorate for the holidays, even though she has done that for years.

With the world muddling through pandemic fatigue, it has become apparent that although Christmas 2020 saw many people putting up their lights to help brighten the holiday season, 2021 may not see that same kind of celebration.

A quick scroll through social media, and one finds many in similar situations.

And here at 6 a.m. on the first workday of this week, I can honestly say that my own energy is tapped out.

I need another morning to sleep in. Another afternoon nap time.

But I am not alone.

I know that some of my readers are going through countless exhausting, heart wrenching, seemingly impossible situations.

Tired of carrying the load, the light of the Christmas season can seem to be too much to share.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to attend a lighted holiday boat parade.

There were fewer lights on the shores of the lake to wave in return to the 94 happily decorated floating vessels.

The last time I visited this parade, several people donned wearable holiday lights and waved various lanterns, lighted swords, candy canes and reindeer lights.

This time was markedly different.

The vessels floated by and the crowd was silent.

Truly a silent night, I thought.

Maybe the crowd was in contemplation or deep conversation.

Suddenly, one woman turned on her cell phone flash light and started waving it to those who put so much work into their lighted boats.

It brought to mind a thought, even a challenge for myself that I wanted to share with you.

What can we collectively do to help make this a brighter season for others?

My thought wanders to the proverbial, every day greeting and conversation.

A cheerful hello and “how are you” – while waiting for the response and likewise responding – goes a long way.

Even better, that moment when we see a need and step up to meet it, even if we only have a little to offer can make such a difference.

Light beams a long way into the darkness, even if it is just a little light.

Maybe if we each bring our little light, the little energy, the little smile, the little embrace to this world, good intentions and kindnesses will shine like stars in the sky on the sandy shores below.

Selah. Let the Spirit of the season be strong within you.

Make yourself a priority

Bicycles capture my eye everywhere I go and I would like to think that I am close to the goal of purchasing one and also a hitch for my car to carry it.

Life speeds by sometimes, and a month quickly passes, six months pass, a year, and we find we are no more closer to our goal.

Why?

Everyone needs mentors and friends who feed into their lives. I have been seeking advice on all fronts of my life.

The word is the same from all: I pour into other people (community workers do, so do ministers, teachers, doctors, etc.) and need to frequently .. not just once in a while .. fill my cup.

Long ago, a spiritual mother wrote in my bible that I should fill my cup so I could continuously pour to others.

Rejoining our church choir was one step I took to recharge my spirit.

Anyone who serves can tell you that if you don’t have outlets for your creative energy, or ways to decompress, rest, contemplate and so forth, you will burn out quickly.

Track.

As a kid, I was never a good runner. It hurt to breathe, and now I know that was just the way I was built.

Everyone else could run.

In high school, I was tired of being overweight and bullied, and started “jogging.” Eventually I could jog maybe a quarter mile. A coach at school wanted me to train for cross country.

He liked my pace, and said that with training, I could go far.

I never did.

Presently, I think it would be great if I could work out three times (or more if possible) a week.

End goal: so I will have enough stamina to go on some bike rides. As a kid, I loved to ride my bike everywhere.

The other goal, besides catching up on several holiday gift projects, is to carve out time to finish my books. (Writing them. And then crafting those marketing letters and getting estimates on publishing costs etc.)

My first book, The Brighter Side of A Darker Thing, is sold by WestBow Press and is also on Amazon. It was a self published volume through WestBow, which is connected to Thomas Nelson Publishing Company. My goal was to get that book going, but I have made little effort to do so.

Also a goal.

Recharge. Reflect. Renew. Restart.

Makes sense to me.

And connect with friends whom I dearly love, yet have not spent any time with in a couple (yes, a couple of years).

I feel strengthened and empowered in putting my goals and dreams to words. And as I spoke to one of my friends earlier today, they reminded me that the purpose of my blog is for the sheer enjoyment of writing, and if I have even helped one person, then that is great.

What Is Progress? Pursuit. Part 2

To do. To do. To do again. To begin. To begin. To begin again. And again. New habit formed? Yes? No? Maybe tomorrow?

Planning is a big deal when embarking on a project, a mission, a bucket list event, a large purchase, and so forth.

An achievement is a goal well planned and pursued. 

In the professional world, we have all kinds of planning tools on our various devices. I use all those. But I still use paper.

Whether planners on paper or on devices, somehow we end up with a list.

College professors say there are goal oriented people who can multitask and reach said destination on time, then there are task oriented people who are more suited for the hyperfocal.

All approaches are useful.

In both cases, the common denominator is the pursuit of meeting what is expected.

Pursue. Focus. Move toward. Put some labor to the matter at hand. Make it a point. Etc.

The holidays are almost upon us, and already my calendar is filling up. My goal every year is to find the holy and sacred in every day, every gathering, every place.

I have not mapped out my plan yet. That is part of what I am doing today.

In the midst of work and home, church and family, shopping and cleaning, writing and reading, decorating and cooking, the rush .. will give way to hush once in a while .. usually late at night as the lights on the tree twinkle and my mind does a replay of all I have done and need to do.

And I think of goals and dreams, and how the New Year follows Christmas. What do I want to accomplish?

Professionally, personally, spiritually?

An inventory is necessary. A list will be made.

But no goal is reached until I put my feet to the matter, or mind, or hands to create or type, or resolve that today, not tomorrow, is the day to create my best “now.”

Reach

Fixed my hair. Check.

Brushed my teeth. Check.

Got ready for choir practice and church, and drove there, arriving on time. Check.

Enjoyed the sweet fellowship under the cathedral.

Ebb and flow.

Returned home to do some scrapbooking.

Oh, and I made some cornbread to go with dinner. Used vegetable oil instead of butter (what was I thinking?? I never do that.) To me, it was intolerable.

Blah.

Fetched some hangars off the back of my bedroom door and figure that is one goal truly met. Placed them in the laundry room where I wash and hang my uniforms.

Tonight, I wonder why people think you have to be a rock star to be amazing. Or famous. Or anything that is noticed by all.

Do you have to have a fabulous house, an enchanted life? Do you have to impress? Or is it ok to be ordinary?

Looking back over my family’s heritage, I can say that not one of them were what I would consider famous, or known by huge numbers of people. They worked hard, kept clean houses, donated to charity when possible, went to church and invited neighbors and friends to dinner.

Collectively, my family has inventors, teachers, artists, businessmen, government workers, night watchmen, beauticians, homemakers, seamstresses, girl bosses (we call it being assertive), and more.

And of my family who maintains a presence online, they are pretty simple people, post a few things to be social. Realizing a need to connect, we enjoy seeing pictures of what we are all doing.

Yet reaching the masses, not so much.

And I think of my writing and whether it will blossom (I have written for newspapers, and those days are over, as I have launched a new career that I love, while also maintaining my love for creative writing.)

I say all this to present a question.

Am I using my writing to help people, and are others touched or motivated, inspired or encouraged by it?

I hope so.

What gifts we are given, when shared, shine on the world around us and help us all reach our dreams.

Side note.

Was also grocery shopping today, and heard a young lady singing in the parking lot of the grocery store, and a few aisles away, heard a young man playing a concert violin.

He had a sign for donations, but wow, his contribution to this beautiful day was so worth any money people could throw his way.

I saw the young lady in the bakery, and told her she had a pretty voice and that she needs to sing like that everywhere she goes because the world needs more of that.

So here is my offering for today’s blog.

May we all sparkle with the stars we hold in our hands and toss them frequently about, giving light and warmth to those around us.

Add that one to the list

The small cork board tacked to the wall is dotted with notes of to do items and reasons why we want to do them. And magazine clippings of waterfalls and hopes of traveling to intriguing places and community festivals.

Would you believe I have an entire shelf full of journals (some of which I may combine in typed form for my kids some day, just not now)?

Much of journaling is a purge of thought and feeling, pondering the what if and stewing in the oh I should have done that differently, peppered with the by the way I forgot that and yes, don’t forget to take care of yourself.

I have written prayers and written the answers to the prayers. I have questioned my existence and also praised God for it.

And I am in this season of hey I want to go see a splendid teapot race, I want my picture taken in front of real magnificent sunflowers, I want to paint rocks and finish writing the two books I am working on.

(Make believe counselor yawns and the glasses slide to the end of said nose. No not really. But maybe everyone needs a life coach. Maybe that is a good idea for me to pursue.)

Our church has a Stephen Ministry.

(Look up the concept .. Episcopals offer it as a way of tending the flock of parishioners through either trying times or maybe just because they need an ear, a voice, a sounding board that is impartial.)

I have used one before and she helped me for months to navigate a number of questions rolling through my head.

What I want to know is this:

Why don’t we talk? Why is everyone so bound up in hey let’s keep this all surface conversation (i.e. wow the weather is crazy lol, as one example.)

I do have friends where the conversation is two sided. I am blessed with my family and my bestie and a small circle of other super close trusted friends. I know I could call any one of them and they can do the same.

But I am talking about every day life.

Once upon a time, people talked a lot more than they do now.

(This is just my opinion. You may have a different opinion and perspective and I respect that because we are all different and perceive things differently. And we can grow by sharing perspectives. I have a couple friends known as my voices of reason. Not every friend you have needs to have the exact same life knowledge or approach as you to be a blessed friend.)

Anyway.

Some days I find myself longing to hear people share their true hearts and feelings, and stories of the past and dreams of the future.

Or maybe they are, and I am distracted, chasing the pondering of my own heart.

Maybe I just need to listen.

And then maybe I would hear.

Add that to my list of goals.

To listen more, and observe more, and let myself enjoy this moment of life as it unfolds.

Whether in the coffee shop, or nestled in a book over lunch, or on my knees at the garden shop checking out the half price gardenias.

I might be on to something here.

Seeking God in the chaos

Psalm 63:1 “O God, You are my God, Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You, In a dry and thirsty land, Where there is no water.”

Many words have been written about the noise of this current age.

“When I get home, I want it absolutely quiet,” said a woman I knew years ago.

“Quiet,” I said, “as in no music even?”

And she said that yes, silence is what she sought.

It seems to me that worship can be musical, loud, cheerful, mournful, patiently waiting, shouting, quietly meditating, dancing, art, cooking dinner and more.

Our world is moving at such a fast pace. Cars get angry when they have to wait in line, or traffic slows. Everyone is moving fast and the wheel of life seems to be speeding up with the pace of the pack, so to speak.

Then you draw into your quiet place at the end of the day, and “chill.”

Or do you?

When my kids were little, such quiet time only occurred at 5 a.m. It was hard to sit in the glow of the kitchen stove light with a cup of coffee and try to read my Bible and pray. Some days it lasted a whole hour. Other days, five minutes or a half hour.

What does your life look like?

Everyone serves someone. There are those you are either responsible for (moms and dads take care of kids, older children care for aging parents and so forth) or to whom you provide a mentorship. Maybe you have a job, community or church responsibilities.

But are you “on” once you are “up” in the morning, or does that take time?

As social a person as I am once the sun comes up, I admit that until I see that golden orb peek above the horizon, I am not truly “up.”

Or I might be up, just not ready to be social 🙂

Why is that?

The more you pour out in a day to the world and your family, the more you need to be filled up with the benefits of prayer and positivity before you head out to face the world.

There are some who tell me, no ma’am, I have my quiet time at night before I go to bed. And they give all their concerns to God so they can sleep.

Another tells me that for them it is a constant conversation with God throughout the day. Not a set time.

Whatever it is for you or me, or anyone else, the important thing is to somehow carve out time to seek God.

I find that when I hit a dry period, a thirsty period of my life, I ask myself when was the last time that I truly eliminated distractions so I could seek God.

In the mountains of West Virginia are a million little streams of crisp, clear rushing water. Just the sound of it soothes the frazzled nerves, rejuvenates the weary.

The streams beckon our souls. In the midst of our day, we are seeking God.