30 Days Absent

One month has passed since I last posted here.

30 days with nothing shared – no inward thoughts, no outward voice….

I was shocked when I signed in this morning and noted the date of my last post.

Life has been busy and my mind occupied with living it.  But, still…there was a time when I posted daily.  Suzansays served as a catharsis, I suppose.  Perhaps it’s one I no longer need.

Perhaps.

But, if that’s the case, why do I feel myself relax and open up as words begin to flow and my typing increases its pace?

And, why do I suddenly feel exposed…vulnerable…?  I’ve shared much over the years through writing.  Why do I now seek to draw the shades and pull privacy around me like a protective blanket?

Growth often takes place in dark places. You plant a seed where? Under ground. You don’t see it again until two things have happened. 1) a root system has formed and pushed its way downward to nourish and establish, and 2) it breaks through the earth mature enough to endure and be energized by the sun’s glare.

Bear with me now – my mind is piecing together this puzzle and I’m simply typing as my mind unravels the mystery of why I’ve been silent and absent for so long.

I’m growing. Changing. Becoming.

I wasn’t even aware of the depth of the change that’s taking place within me until I sat here to type in the quiet opportunity that this Saturday morning provided me.

Oh, I know – that’s something we all do in some form or fashion.  But, this is a radical makeover. And, it’s not something I instigated. Outside forces initiated various changes within me.  And, as those life forces pressed in – some things within me began to change.

(I’ve sat still and silent for 7 minutes now, unsure what words to type next – my mind a whirl of thoughts….)

Pressure has a way of affecting change.

Here’s a simple experiment to explain what I mean.

Take a Ziploc bag and fill it halfway with water.  Remove the air from it. Place it in the freezer – on a flat surface with nothing touching it. Take another Ziploc bag and repeat, just like you did with the first.  Toss it into the freezer then place upon it and around it whatever is handy.  Leave both for 6 hours.

When you return to the freezer and carefully remove the Ziploc bags – what will you find?

The one bag that felt only the pressure of its own weight and no confines apart from its own will conform to its own boundaries.  The bag that was tossed into the freezer and had the pressure of the weight of other things bear upon it is far more interesting and unique than the bag that felt none apart from its own.  It holds the same amount of water, but the pressure experienced by it redirected the flow into various directions and shapes.  It embraced that which bore down upon it and flowed as it was able.

The way I see it, we have two choices.

  1. We can insulate ourselves and resist the pressure of anything that might press in on us.  (resist change by confining ourselves to and conforming to boundaries we place on ourselves)
  2. We can go with the flow and use that which presses in on us as an avenue of growth. (accept change and allow the pressure to redirect us)

 

(Just FYI – this post took 84 minutes to write. That’s over an hour out of the 24 allotted me today. The pressure of time constraints indicates this post is finished and I need to flow on to other things.)

 

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It All Comes Down to Choices

2015 arrived.

With bells, whistles, and fireworks the ball dropped in NYC as confetti filled the air. Hugs, kisses, and well wishes were shared.

We went to sleep.

We woke up.

And, now a brand new year stretches 365 days before us.

What will we do with it?

Will we make resolutions? Will we welcome change…force it…fight it?

What will 2015 look like as we stand at the cusp of 2016 and look back across it?

Will we smile at the journey the past 365 days took us on? Or, will we sigh because we spun our wheels and never got anywhere?

In truth, it all comes down to choices – those we make and those made by others.

We can’t do much about choices made by others that affect us.  But, we can do something about choices we make.

Where do you want 2015 to take you?  What choices need to be made to point you in the direction in which you want to go? How willing are you to choose wisely those things that will bring about the changes you desire and the direction you prefer?

Hard questions for my sleepy head this morning, but important ones if I’m to live fully into who I’m created to be, filled with hope as I celebrate each breath as a gift from God, and each sunrise as a new opportunity to begin again.

Happy New Year!

October Blue(s)

Beautiful blue skies are the backdrop for October’s blaze of autumn foliage.  Anyone who spends much time outdoors knows the color October Blue.

But, what about October blues?

There’s a certain sadness associated with October.  Summer’s final blush faded with September and we say “Goodbye” to what was and prepare for what it’s coming.

As I type this, I’m able to look out the window and into my backyard.  Okra plants stand 12 feet tall with yellow hibiscus blooms crowning their tops, and at their feet summer peas sport white blossoms, both busy with the task of producing delicious Summer produce.

The problem is, Summer is no more.  And, after today, Summer’s heat will be gone as well.  Today, the temp is forecast to rise to 90 (perfect okra and purple pod pea weather) and tonight rain will fall as the first COLD front of the season moves in.

In the extended forecast, there are no 90 degree days…not even 80 degree days.  Saturday will see a rise of perhaps 65 and by Sunday morning the temp is forecast to be 42.

What will happen to the garden when chilled to 42 degrees?  It depends, of course, on the warmth of the next few days and nights, but I expect the plants to slow production drastically.

In the next few weeks, the garden will be pulled up, turned under and laid to rest.

Summer is gone and Winter is coming.  It’s time to bid farewell to warm weather chores, say our goodbyes to Summer’s ease and bounty, accept the coming darkness as each day grows shorter than the one before, and face the future with thanksgiving for what was and anticipation for what will be

I’ll admit – I feel a twinge of October blues nagging me today.  I’m not ready to turn loose.  I don’t want to move forward into the year.  I’m so not ready for cold weather.  I’m not looking forward to being cooped up inside. And, I don’t want to pull out sweaters and jackets or turn on the heat.

I like it fine the way it’s been…the way it is now.  I don’t want it to change.  Can’t we just bypass Winter this year and slip from Autumn into Spring?

Ah, wishful thinking is often foolish thinking.

And, wrapping my October blues about me and bemoaning the loss of what was and grouching about what will be doesn’t warm my heart or bring me comfort.  October blues change nothing but my mood – from sunny to cloudy with a chance of rain.

October blues – be gone.  I don’t want you.  You depress me, you deprive me, you distract me.

Seasons change.  That’s life.

Letting go of the old and embracing the new is the only way to live.  And, live is what I want to do.  And, I’ll do it without October blues, thank you.

Yep, gonna get me a good strong dose of October blue today while the sun shines and enjoy the wonder of today as I face forward and free myself of the past and open my hands to each new day ahead.

Change is coming.

No…change is here.  Slow down long enough to appreciate it but don’t hang onto what was.  Reach out for what’s next.

Live hard into it.

Following the Follower

As a child, I played Follow the Leader.

It’s a simple game.  A leader is selected and everyone follows her/him, going wherever and doing whatever the leader does.

The leader, when tired of the game, would simply stop leading and become a follower. We wouldn’t realize we were following a follower until our forward motion stagnated, our movement became circular, or stopped all together.

Following a leader who no longer wants to lead is similar to following a leader who has no idea where he/she is going, what she/he’s doing or why.

I saw a good example of this yesterday.  The dogs had been turned out with the command “get the monster.” The larger of the two shot off the porch as though he had quarry in sight, barking his excitement as he ran.  His smaller companion was hot on his heels, assuming he knew what he was doing and where the monster was.  She was silent until they reached mid yard.

Once there, she opened her mouth and yapped.  The larger dog, upon realizing he had no clue where the monster was, stopped leading and turned to follow the smaller dog.  The smaller dog shot past him, continuing in the direction he had initially lead.  He followed in her wake. She seeing that he had turned, circled around to follow him.

They ultimately stopped and faced each other in confusion.  Then, each went his/her own way.

I couldn’t help but laugh – at them and at myself as well.

I asked myself two questions: Who are you following? And, why?

What about you? Are you following a follower?

Maybe it’s time to strike off on your own and hunt your own monsters in your own way.  If others want to follow along, that’s okay. If they want to tag you as their leader, consider declining the offer and suggest instead that they be responsible for their own journey so you can focus on yours.

It’s been my experience that most people don’t really want a leader.  They want to imitate and follow after someone, but they really aren’t interested in changing anything, going anywhere or doing anything of and for themselves.

And, that’s what a leader does.

A leader brings you to the point of decision and then it’s your responsibility to act.

Most people don’t want the responsibility, they just want to follow.  Leaders have their own agenda.  Leaders don’t follow the whims or desires of followers. Their energy is forward focused – on reaching the goal. They live outside of and beyond a comfort zone, ever reaching for, ever learning of, ever experiencing new things. Fearlessly focused, determinedly independent, decidedly resolute.

If you choose to follow, it’s your responsibility to keep up.  Don’t complain about the pace, the ruggedness of the terrain, the length of the journey, the focus of the leader.  And, don’t whine about going beyond your comfort zone.

Who are you following and why? More likely than not when you choose to follow, you’re not following a leader.  You’re following a follower.

Following a follower requires little work on anyone’s part.  There’s a lot of activity. But, no one goes anywhere or does anything.  You just act like it. You meet.  You talk. You make plans. You act. You enjoy the journey. But, you don’t get anywhere.  Nothing really changes.

You’re all just followers, following other followers.

And, should a leader come into the midst with the power to lead into real change? Ah, he/she had better look out.  Frustration and discouragement are just around the next turn. Followers of followers are prone to bog a leader down with questions and a “need” for information and details….  Followers of followers are notorious for maintenance of the status quo and devotion to their comfort zones.

Lead on, Brother. Lead on, Sister. Let the followers follow themselves. And, when they wake up one morning and wonder why they are still where they were 30 years ago and why you didn’t hang around and help them, let God be their judge.

Who are you following?  Who among you is trying to lead? Watch out. That leader is going places – with you or without you.  That’s what leaders do.

Why? Because leaders have things to do, agendas, plans, dreams, hopes. They see what is and believe in what can be.

Followers of followers never go anywhere

Follow the leader and see the world as you’ve never seen it before. (Move beyond your comfort zone.)

Or, take the lead and cut a new trail.

What You Have Chosen

“What you want is irrelevant.  What you have chosen is at hand.” *

Stop for a moment and consider – the life we live is a result of choices made, and the consequences of those choices are obvious. Just look around you.

We often blame others when life doesn’t go the direction we want and point to the choices they made and the consequences that overflowed into our own lives.

But was it not our own choices that placed these “others” in a position to do so?

Look around you.

Is this what you want?

Apparently, this IS what you want because you’ve not chosen otherwise.

The choices you and I have made largely determine where we are right now.

Look around. What you’ve chosen is at hand.

Blame it on

  • poor planning
  • settling for
  • giving in
  • taking shortcuts
  • shortsightedness
  • lack of focus
  • disorganization
  • giving control to another
  • giving up
  • being undisciplined
  • a lack of self-esteem
  • disinformation
  • lack of education
  • co-dependency
  • desire for instant gratification
  • lack of self awareness
  • the whims of others
  • unhealthy eating
  • laziness
  • lack of space
  • the economy
  • your past
  • an addiction
  • illness
  • misfortune

And, know this – when you place blame anywhere other than where it belongs (squarely on your own shoulders) you’ve made the choice to continue as you are.

So, apparently, this IS what you want because what you’ve chosen is at hand.

What simple choice can you make that will, in some small way, create change?

Beginning small can embolden you to make larger, deeper, grander choices that can launch you into who you want to be and where, and into the life you wish to live.

Look around you. What one small choice will you make right now that will address what you want and bring change to what is at hand?

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* As any diehard Star Trek fan knows, this quote is from Spock to Valeris in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

Upgrade

From flip to smart – that describes my recent cell phone move as well as my attitude toward online living.

I knew it was coming.  With so much of my life invested in online activities, it only made sense to flip over to the smarter way of doing business and living life.  Now I’ll be connected…online 24/7.

Access to work, blogging, contacts, connections, my passions, my friends and family…all available with a simple swipe of my finger and poke at a screen.

I say poke – that’s pretty much what I do.  It’s a touch screen but my fingers are clumsy and not all that smart yet.  They are accustomed to the touch of the flip phone’s keypads but will learn to touch gently because this phone is smart and can write its own messages and correct my own thoughts any time it pleases if it doesn’t like how my fingertips dance across the screen.

It even wrote an email yesterday (to my boss) that shared how beautiful I am (repeatedly) and how much I’m in love with myself WHILE IT WAS IN MY PURSE! (Thankfully I caught onto what it was doing before it sent it!)

Yep, it’s that smart.

Why, just yesterday I was writing a text, using abbreviations and misspellings that I am accustomed to using and my new phone caught onto what I was doing and straightened me out right quick, it did.

No more of this texting shorthand for it.  Nope.

When I looked at what I’d written before poking the “Send” button I saw that my smart phone had edited my thoughts and written something entirely different than what I intended.

We had a little talk and came to an understanding, my smart phone and I.  From now on I’ll spell things properly and won’t use shortcuts even if it did save me time on my flip phone. It certainly won’t on my smart phone if I have to go back and rewrite what my phone has written. 😉

I asked Daughter for some tips (her phone is similar) and she said that I’m smart and can figure it out.

You know you’re in trouble when your phone’s smarter than you are and your daughter assumes you’re smart enough….

I call it my pink smartie – the cover on the smart phone is hot pink.

Excuse me…my cellphone is calling me.  It’s probably going to tell me how beautiful I am and how blessed I am to have such a smart phone!

 

Blooming

On the nurse’s desk was a vase.

In the vase were 5 cut stems.

At the top of the stems were closed yellow buds.

Lilies.

The nurse’s desk was in the center of the unit Hubby’s dad was in.

Throughout the day, as I passed the desk, I noticed the buds.

Change happened slowly.

What was first tightly closed, slowly began to relax…and to open.

By day’s end two of the buds had fully opened, their fragrance perfumed the hallway.

As we talked with Hubby’s dad’s nurse at the close of day, she mentioned that they had lost two patients that day.

Goosebumps prickled my arms as I remembered the 2 yellow lilies, now fully blossomed…beautiful, fragrant…changed from what was at day’s beginning into what is at day’s end.

And, what is is beautiful!

31 Days Out

31 days – that’s how old this new year is.

It’s time to take inventory and see how the year is shaping up before we slip into another month.

I’ve not made as much headway as I’d hoped so it’s time for me to turn up the heat a little and get things cooking a bit faster if I’m going to accomplish all I ‘ve set my mind to do this year.

Yes, there are still 11 months to go before 2015 slips in.  But, February has only 28 days and it will be in and out before we know it.

I’m out of here…grabbing my list, checking it twice and checking off at least one thing on my important to-do list before this day ends.

What about you?  Will you use today as THE day to get back on track and heading in the right direction?

Early Morning Call

When the phone rings before the day has begun it often sets events in motion that dictate and determine what the remainder of the day looks and feels like.

In times like this it’s good to know that Sovereign God loves us and sees beyond where we are and what comes next.

And, it’s good to trust God for what lies ahead and rely on Him for our every need and with every concern.

Pray for those who received an early morning phone call today.  Pray for focus, for wisdom, for clarity….

Accustom, Adapt, Acclimate

Last night the temperature dropped to near 0 again.

A quick venture outside barefoot and without a jacket was both interesting and instructive.

And, it was something I would not have done 3 weeks ago.

So…what changed?

5°F is still 5° but here I am running around with bare feet in the dead of winter.

Something changed and that something is me.

I’ve become accustomed to the cold because I’ve immersed myself in it.

I’ve adapted to the temperature because I’ve ventured out into it instead of shying away from it.

I’ve become acclimated as my body has accepted what is and left what was behind.

Warm Spring days lie ahead.  And, beyond that Summer’s furnace blast awaits. By Summer’s departure,  I will have acclimated to working outdoors in 100+° weather and find the cold once again a strain and a bother.

But, I know that by living it, and by living within it I can (and will) accustom myself, adapt and acclimate to whatever environment I find myself in.

That’s good and bad.  In cold weather, I may experience frostbite and hypothermia because I don’t realize just how cold it is…or I am.  In hot weather, I may overheat and suffer heat stroke.

That should serve as a warning to all – be careful what environment you place yourself (or allow yourself to be placed) in. And, by environment I don’t just mean weather related conditions and situations.

How have you become accustomed to the environment in which you live?

How have you adapted to what’s happening around you?

How have you acclimated to the conditions at home, work, church, socially…?