Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A thank-you letter to grief

Kate Motaung, who leads us in the Five Minute Friday link up has written an e-book called Letters to Grief. In order to celebrate that release, she is hosting a link up for us to write a letter to grief ourselves.



"There is something about writing a letter to someone that 

just brings release and satisfaction--which is why I'm

inviting you to write your own letter to grief as well."

--Kate Motaung



Dear Grief,

I never thought I’d be writing you a letter, but it does seem fitting somehow. You have shown yourself off and on during my life and I have to say, even though you’ve been an unwelcome visitor, you have also been a friend that sticks closer than a brother.

You showed up when I was very young. I didn’t know what to call you, then, but looking back I now know it was you. You were there, helping me cope through a very difficult season when I didn’t know how I should feel. 

You. Got. Me. Through it.



I have, unfortunately and fortunately learned a lot about you over the years. I have learned that you can be ignored. For awhile, and on the outside. But, you are never really gone when you've needed to be present in my life

My body has told me at the times that you were present, that you are still sticking around long after I thought you had long moved on. You have spoken to me through 

migraine headaches, 
muscle tension, 
anxiety, 
depression 
and a host of other negative emotions that surfaced at inopportune times.

When you showed up, you also did crazy antics in my body, soul and spirit. One minute I’d be doubled over on the floor in gut-twisting sobs, and the next minute I would be laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face.

I learned that this is part of your way in us when you visit. And, it’s okay.


 I am very thankful for you during the times you have shown up. I know that sounds crazy. But, I know you are a gift from God for me to actually mentally, emotionally and physically survive unspeakable hurt and disappointment. 

Even devastation. 


That’s one of the things I learned about you from a very wise counselor. (I’m glad I asked her about you and the symptoms you were causing in me. It made me feel a lot less crazy.)
She said to me, “You are going to move through your grief pretty quickly because you are leaning into it.”  

I had to ask her to explain what leaning into grief meant.

She basically said that it is healthy to have my arms wide open to accept you in all of your forms because if I accept you with open arms, you will come and stay for a season, but like winter always turns to spring, you would eventually move on. 

And, during seasons when you’ve shown your face, that is exactly how you’ve moved.

I could be really angry at you for coming and hanging around at different times in my life, but why would I be angry at YOU? You are just a by-product, a gift to help me to accept and process hurts and disappointments. You are not the cause of them! 

You can be so misunderstood by some!
 
Prince and I


Again, I thank you for coming around during the very difficult times. 

It’s because of you, ultimately, that I have had so much healing emotionally. During a few different seasons of my life, like 

losing my Dad,
losing my horse Prince, 
feeling misunderstood and betrayed by those who were the closest to me, 
and dreams that have been crushed, 

you've been beside me. You've been beside me, coaching me through your stages, and ultimately coaching me to let go and move on. 

Thank you for coming just for a season, doing your thing, and then moving on. If you hung around me forever, how would I move on to happiness and enjoying abundant life? How would I move on to gratitude and having eyes that see beauty?

Sincerely,

Anne





Friday, December 19, 2014

Welcome back, little girl dreams

Somewhere, back in my little girl dreams, I used to adore Christmas. I mean when I was a very little girl like under six or so.

Church Christmas programs with my cousins, where we would for sure sing Away in a Manger while we looked on at the dolly baby Jesus in the makeshift manger with real hay.

I, along with all my little friends would get one bible verse on a little piece of paper to memorize for the program. One year, I was asked to pray the benediction at the end. I read it off of a piece of paper, but I thought that was so special.




I remember overnight trips to see my grandma and grandpa in Iowa from my Nebraska farm. My daddy would drive all night long while I slept. I would wake just in time to see the big city lights of Des Moines as we were coming in on the Interstate. 

We would arrive about 2 or 3 in the morning and my grandparents must have gotten up to greet us because I don’t think they could have lasted that long. I sat on the edge of the suitcase while my mom and dad greeted the grandparents. And then they put me to bed.





My most vivid memory of Christmas as a small one is standing in my grandparent’s den and looking out the window after dark with my cousins. We were looking in the sky for Santa’s sleigh. I remember one of us (not me) saying in an excited, hushed whisper,

 “There he is! There’s Santa’s sleigh!”

I was so excited!! I sooooo badly wanted it to be true. I so badly wanted to see the sleigh, but it eluded me.

Somewhere since my little girl dreams, some amount of stress has taken over and the trap of comparison.

 Welcome back, little girl dreams.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks so much for stopping by today friends! I so adore you!

~Anne


Linking up today for the last time in 2014 with a flash mob of writers for Five Minute Friday. We all link up with the same topic. Today's prompt is "adore". No worries about perfect grammar or punctuation. Free writing for the fun of it. Visit Kate Motaung's blog for all the details!

Monday, December 15, 2014

When you need the heart of an adventurer

On December 1st it struck me that a new month was beginning. I'm thinking that it's also because the moving truck was coming the next day to carry our things to a different home and we were going to be leaving the house we have lived in for fourteen years.

We spent much time raising our now grown children in that home.  As I put my pen to my journal page this prayer came out. I call it the "anytime prayer" and not just a prayer for new things like the beginnings of months and moving to a new home. 

Because the things that were prayed for are things we need daily, if not moment by moment.



A new month. A fresh start. 

Lord, heal our wounds, correct our attitudes, lift our spirits and help us see hope from Your perspective. Help us look for you and your work every morning, noon and night. 

Finding Your fingerprints on our lives gives us meaning and fills our lives with joy.

Fill each day with meaning and by that I mean we need hearts of an adventurer to look for the meaning you've already placed here.






Give us a vision for our future. May we look forward with hope, for you have already prepared the way for us and you've already been there, too.

As we remember the past, may we not do so with a tainted, negative view at all that went wrong, but through the lens of gratitude and love for lessons we've learned along the way.

We need your help daily Lord, to see things from your perspective. 

Help us.

We acknowledge our frailty and need your strength.



May we have eyes that look for the best in others.
May we have hearts that endure.
May we have arms that stretch out to the needy around us.

And, may we know that we carry Your love in us to a hurting world.

Amen.


Thanks for stopping by, friends!
Blessings to you, always!

~Anne

Linking up today with Coffee for Your Heart and Three Word Wednesday!

Friday, December 12, 2014

When there's a whole lot of preparing

Today is Friday, so it's the day many of us link up with Kate Motaung for a weekly writing free write! It's only for five minutes and just for fun. Go to her website to read how you can join in on a weekly basis! So much fun! Today's prompt is "prepare." 


So. Much. Goes into preparing a home to live in! We just moved a week ago Tuesday, but before that we painted the whole interior including the ceilings, we cleaned, we touched up paint boo-boos.

A whole lot of preparing!! 


painting, painting, painting


And, we downsized a bunch which I’ve written about before, but because of all the prep work to move into a much smaller home I figure it bears repeating again. 

We downsized a bunch of stuff.

My husband kept track of all we donated, threw away or sold. It is an incredible amount of stuff over the past couple of years. And, you know what? As I unpacked bathroom boxes today, I had no place to put many things like a hot water bottle, an ice bag and um lets see... cotton balls!

It sounds silly really, but our new house has no bathroom storage. So, I’m getting rid of more and getting creative with the rest.

I seem to be caught up in trying to prepare this new (old) house for four of us to live here comfortably and not step on each others toes too much. It’s going pretty well. We’ve had to realize we need patience when we’re all in the kitchen. Hard to pass each other when the fridge door is open, or we’re all in there helping!

barely moved in



No matter how much time it takes to prepare a new home to live in, the most important thing is the love that we bring into it. Is my heart prepared to serve my family here, and not just find a spot for the extra bottles of cleaner I unpacked?

Thanks so much for stopping by today, friend! Blessings to you this Christmas season of love!

~Anne

Friday, November 21, 2014

pondering moving on

I'm linking up with the lovely Kate Motaung at Five Minute Friday where whoever loves to write decides to silence the inner critic and write for five minutes straight. Today's prompt is "notice". 



I took some larger things off my wall yesterday and took them right to the consignment store. A large clock, a large shelf, a picture and a sunburst decoration. It wasn’t necessarily difficult to get rid of these things. 

What I notice now though, with those bare spots on my walls is that I’m a bit more uneasy.

I am not a meticulous house keeper, so it’s not that. But, those gaps in the d├ęcor are staring at me, reminding me that in the next few days time, everything on the walls and on the floors must go (to the new house).





I am excited about this, but I have a feeling there are deeper feelings underlying my reluctance to start packing in earnest. I have a feeling I will have to grieve some of the collectibles I will have to get rid of to move to a smaller home. 

I will grieve those times in the past fourteen years that our family has made memories in this home. When we moved in our children were 7, 10 and 12. Now they are 21, 24 and 26. So much has changed over this past decade plus four years. We had children, now our children are adults.

Maybe this is why the gaps on the walls where pictures have been taken down stir an uneasiness in me. Maybe this is why I can’t seem to tape a box together and start putting things in it.


I will cherish the memories, even as I am excited to move on. And, as I pack I’m going to keep noticing my feelings and thoughts and honor them as they should be honored. 

Blessings to you friend! Thanks for stopping by today!


Wednesday, November 19, 2014

10 things painting walls has taught me

My husband and I and our two adult kids are working very hard lately to paint the inside of our (1948) new house. There are lessons to be learned while painting.



1.  Nothing is ever going to be perfect. Get used to it.  I have had the job of trimming along the ceilings, doorways, floorboards, you name it. I told my husband, "I remember being better at trimming the ceilings than I am now." He said, "Maybe you're not remembering correctly." Thanks, dear.

I've had to tell my perfectionistic self many times that our paint job is never going to be perfect, because we are not perfect. 

2.  Paint covers a multitude of past poor choices.  The paint in the front room was a very dingy yellow in the room and in the closet with no doors. Painting Mindful Gray over that dingy yellow has given me the warmest of fuzzies. Glorious.





3.  Doing a project like this with hubby is fun.  We are both very compatible and we are friends, believe it or not. And, doing this project together has made me realize that our relationship can handle quite a bit. Never mind that he wanted the same color paint in the whole house (except for the bathrooms), and that is what we are doing. 

4. I've been telling my hubby for years, "I want a new palette to decorate." Well, with painting Mindful Gray on all the walls, that is exactly what I'm getting.

5. This is making me thankful.

6. I'm tempted to throw out my old decor. I'm being inspired by this new gray backdrop to change some of my wall decor. And, even though I do not have a big budget, or any, I'm inspired.

And, I can do a lot with very little.

7.  My son, the art major, is a much better ceiling trimmer than I am. This is a new experience, my "kids" helping us paint the house.






8.  My daughter likes "rolling" the walls better than trimming. This is a good thing because she rolled on two coats of gray in her new room in two hours yesterday. Wonderful.



9.  Listening to Frank Sinatra Christmas music makes painting on a snowy day much more fun.


10.  Make sure to mix your gallons of paint or you might have a subtle gray two tone on your walls. We'll need to check into this one a little more in depth.

Thanks for letting me share a little of what my life has been about lately!

Blessings to you, friend!

~Anne

Linking up today with Coffee for Your Heart and Three Word Wednesday!!


Friday, November 14, 2014

Thoughts on being still

Today I'm linking up with the lovely Kate Motaung for Five Minute Friday. This is where we write for five minute on a prompt given for the week. No fancy writing or edits, just writing for the fun of it.  Won't you stop by and see what other writers have shared on the prompt "still"?



Life seems to work out so much better when I regularly tell myself this phrase,


 “be still”.


 It may be the right thing to say, but not the right time to say it. If I wait, maybe you will say it first. Maybe the conversation will go better. 

Maybe there will be more peace and less misunderstanding.

Being still has it’s advantages for sure. The one who keeps silent is considered wise, the scriptures say. I want to be considered wise even if I’m not. Is that unfair?






Being still might make you feel more important. Maybe if I let you talk more than I try to talk you will feel the love I have for you. Yes, there will be a time for me to share, but maybe this time it is time for me to be still and let you share. 

This is love.

Being still allows me to listen. It allows me to hear you better. It allows me to hear God’s voice better. 


When my voice is operating, it is interfering 

with how my ears are functioning.


I truly want my ears to function well. I want my voice to be still enough to hear what is important. Then, when I do have a chance to say something, maybe wisdom will come out of my mouth and not just a wave of hot air. 

Maybe it will be of substance and come across as wisdom to you, wisdom to me and wisdom to the world.

That is what I want out of choosing times to be still.

There is a time to be still and silent, and times to speak.


May I know the difference.


Thanks for stopping by today for five minutes of free writing!!
Blessings to you, friend!

~Anne

Thursday, November 13, 2014

God's dimmer switch

Ever wonder why dawn and dusk come gradually and not all of a sudden?


Evening comes and the sun gradually sinks lower and lower on the horizon until it's hidden from our view for that day.


It's like the sun goes to sleep in our part of the world 
so we can, too.


Then, while we're fast asleep, the earth is turning, turning, turning until the sun starts to gradually come into our view again. 


Gradually showing more of herself to us in our corner of the world until she's in plain sight. She's giving us a full view of herself so bright we're told not to look directly at her brightness.




Why the gradual, slow sinking and rising?


Why didn't God decide at the beginning of time to make these transitions sudden, like a light switch being turned off and on? 


Instead, he made sunrise and sunset on a dimmer switch.


Slowly, 
gradually 
light rises and falls at the start and end of each day.


I wonder if he knew (because he made us after all) that our souls would need to keep up with our bodies.


Thanks for stopping by today, friend!
Blessings to you!








Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Six things I learned in October

I'm linking up today with Emily Freeman at Chatting at the Sky for her monthly "what I learned" link up. This is a time where we share some things we learned during the month. The silly and the serious. Won't you hop on over and see what other people are learning? 


1.  Last spring I took a watercolor class at the local art center. I hadn't done any watercolor painting since the class until I got a whim to paint pumpkins in October. I sat down one afternoon at 4:30 and in about an hour and a half I had done this little 5 x 7. It was so much fun. I have a new excitement to try something else now, maybe a basket of apples, or something for Christmas!





2. There's a beautiful tree in our neighbor's yard across the street. I see it every morning when I sit in my reading chair. I watched it turn from a vibrant green, to vibrant orange and red starting at the top of the tree, with the color inching down the tree each day. 

Now the tree is completely bare of all traces of this year's leaves and I so wish I would have taken a picture each day in October to show you some of the beautiful changes this tree went through. Oh well, something to think about for next October!!







3.  In October I bought my first new belt in YEARS. I've needed a belt for a long time. I know it sounds silly, but shopping for a belt ranks right up there for me on the same level as shopping for jeans. Never been a fan

So, consequently, I've been going for a loooooong time with a belt that I couldn't tighten to where I needed it, and therefore it didn't work too well for what it was intended for. The first time I put on my new belt with my favorite jeans they felt like brand new jeans. And, I wasn't hiking them up every 30 seconds. I know, not rocket science!





4.  On October 8th, I woke up around 5:30am and couldn't sleep so I picked up my phone. One of my friends had just posted about the Blood Mood (or total lunar eclipse) that was happening in my time zone right then. I hopped out of bed and grabbed my little digital camera. I watched and took photos for an hour. I was totally in awe of what I saw. First time ever for me.  I don't think I've ever been so excited about something in the night sky!





5. My daughter has been watching every episode of Friends ever made. Mostly she watches it after I've gone to bed, but one night I was still awake when she started an episode. I started watching. It was not the first episode ever, but it was MY first episode of Friends ever.

I have never ever been remotely interested to know about Friends, or what it was, or who was in it. But, I found as I watched that I started to laugh. Then I laughed some more. It's pretty silly, and a little off color at times, but you know, it's pretty funny, too. Maybe I'll watch some more episodes with her. 




6.  We bought a "little house" in September, which we close on today! We accepted an offer on our "bigger house" this week. But, what I did in October was start to read the book, The Nesting Place, in earnest. 





We are downsizing from 2500 square feet to 1186 square feet. I think I will really need to put some of her wisdom to work in my "new, little" house. Like "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." 

I'm looking forward to making our little house a home while taking peeks at The Nester's book and her blog while I'm doing it. 

Thanks for stopping by friend! Blessings to you!






Friday, October 31, 2014

What are you leaving?

Linking up today with Five Minute Friday with other writers who are silencing the inner critic and just writing for fun for five minutes straight. Today's prompt is "leave".



I like airports and I always have.

It’s the hustle and bustle of passengers coming and going. The planes sitting out at the end of those long tubes that you have to walk through to board.

I think airports are a metaphor for life.

People leave and people arrive.

We are always leaving something and arriving at something else.

Where are the airport people leaving for? Are they leaving, only to return again, or are some of them leaving for good?

Where are the passengers arriving from? Some distant land that was a momentous journey, or a business trip that unfortunately took them away from their family for too long?

What are you leaving? Are you leaving that baggage behind that no longer serves you? Are you leaving the past in the past, or are you still carrying it around like a heavy bag through the airport?





What are you arriving at? Hopefully, as you are leaving something behind, you are arriving at a better place. Hopefully, you’re arriving at a new, dream-filled, much anticipated place. A place that is better than the one you left.

I’ve left a lot of baggage in the past. I’ve decided to set much of it down. Setting it at the baggage claim, never to claim it again.


I’ve decided to camp out at the arrivals. I’ve decided to set my sights instead on arriving at a new destination even if that destination is a new one each and every day.

Blessings to you friend!
Thanks for stopping by!


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Surprised by grace

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had a tendency to want to control things. I’m not sure when this started.

I know I am not alone in this, but I’m naming it.

This tendency to want to control things (and people) has not served me well. The outcome of this undesirable habit has led me down paths of

regret
disappointment
anger
sadness
unmet expectations.

Not the sort of things I want hanging around, but hang they have, for far too long.

What this is showing me again lately is that I have a hard time waiting well. I want what I want when I want it. (it's the illusion of control)

I think my timing is best. Well, why wouldn’t it be? That’s what would make life the easiest!

I need grace to accept what I cannot control.

I need grace to let go.

I need grace to let people be who and what they are without me trying to change them.


Amazingly enough, when I let go of the need to control, and instead trust grace, I’m usually surprised.

I’m swept off my feet by the sweetest Divine interventions that I could never have planned if I tried.






Consolations and blessings and graces
show their faces
 in ways that make me gasp in gratitude.


Who doesn’t like a surprise, especially if it is a pleasant one?

So, I am faced with a daily, moment by moment choice. Choose to hang on to the illusion of control and be miserable, or 

let go of the illusion of control, grab faith and be surprised by grace.

I know which one I want.

Blessings to you friend,

~Anne

I'm linking up today with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart and #TellHisStory

Friday, October 24, 2014

Making fear take the back seat

Linking up with Kate at Five Minute Friday, where brave writers gather once a week to silence the inner critic and just write for five minutes straight, not worrying about edits or backtracking. This week's prompt is "dare". 



I basically started this blog, A Ready Listener, two and a half years ago as a dare to myself. I was actually scared speechless to put my words out there on the “interwebs” for the whole world to read. And, possibly criticize.


What would people think of my ideas and opinions on life? Would they silently criticize me? 
Would they categorize me as something that I don’t want and didn’t intend to portray?


It took two failed blog attempts to finally get one going. It was so difficult to force the words out onto the screen and even more difficult to click publish. It’s still difficult.

But, I guess I've learned to push through that fear and intimidation of putting my words out there, because for two and a half years, I’ve been pretty regularly putting them out there. Putting them out, open to criticism and disagreement.






But, also putting them out there to encourage. The sub-theme of my blog, under the name A Ready Listener is, “pausing to hear the beauty in all of life.”

I guess when I thought about that pause, and the beauty that surrounds me daily, and my desire to encourage readers and bring beauty to their lives, to your life, the fear took the second seat.

Oh, that I will choose to make fear take a back seat in things that I want to do in the future. In things that I have a passion about, but a fear to carry out.



Fear must take the back seat if beauty is to emerge.



Thanks for stopping by!
Blessings to you, friend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

What does your soul need?

I was 25 before I became a consistent face-washer before bed. Sad to say, but before that it was hit and miss, even though I had blemished skin starting in my early teens. 

Once I made night time face washing a ritual, though, I started to realize what a gift I was giving myself. I was actually giving myself a mini face spa treatment every night. My skin began to thank me. I layed my face on my pillow feeling more refreshed after the dirt from the day was washed away.


What if we did this on a regular basis for our souls? To give ourselves a mini soul spa regularly by letting go of the negative stuff that weighs our souls down, and inhaling what our souls desperately need?

What exactly do our souls need? I often find myself asking that question. 



What does my soul need?


It's taken me most of my life to become self-aware enough to learn what my soul needs. For much of my life, I mostly paid attention to the needs of the people around me.

As a wife and mother, I focused on the needs I was called to meet. That part is a good thing.

But, I forgot about my needs.

I had neglected my soul. The deepest part of me that is ME.

I had even kind of forgotten what I like and dislike because I was such a people pleaser, always trying to keep the peace. And, always trying to keep the people around me happy.

I did this to the neglect of myself and my needs. That's not a good thing.

Finally, one day my soul said STOP. SLOW DOWN. 

So, I did. I began to learn what my soul needs.





One of the things I realized my soul needs is regular times of quiet and solitude. If I don't get this regularly, I am no good to myself or those around me. 


How about you? Do you know what your soul needs? Are you willing to work at finding out?

Your soul will thank you when you do.

Blessings to you, friend!

~Anne

Linking up today with Holley Gerth at Coffee for Your Heart.



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