grateful amazement

finding wonder…everywhere.

Fear Makes You Flaky

There are a few things in this life that I know for sure.
The number of things I have yet to figure out far outweigh them, if I’m honest.
So, when I stumble onto something that I can put in the ‘I Know This’ column, I get pretty excited.
Don’t you?

Here’s one of those things…
(and I’m none too proud that it’s taken me this long to get clear on it)

Fear makes you flaky.

Flaky, so we’re clear, is defined this way:
~forming or tending to form flakes, or thin, crisp fragments
~tending to peel off or break easily into flakes
~tending to break apart into small, thin, flat pieces

I don’t know about you, but those very literal definitions resonate with me.

When I let fear dictate my decisions (like not attending a party because I’m sure I’ll look a fool or not going to church because the ‘Let’s take a minute and shake hands and greet one another’ time makes me certain I’ll faint or not saying hello to an acquaintance when I’m out and about because I’m sure-beyond-a-shadow-of-a-doubt that I’ll say something stupid), I end up in thin, crisp fragments, breaking easily, and finding myself in a pile of small, thin. flat pieces.

Admitting these specific fears always garners me quizzical raised eyebrows from most of the dear souls I get brave enough to share them with.
In response, I hear such things as. ‘But you’re so good at small talk.’ ‘You seem so confident.’ ‘I would have never guessed you were scared.’

The truth is that I suffer from bouts of profuse Flop Sweat in most social situations.
I can even fog up my glasses and feel sweat rolling down my back while on a ‘normal’, ‘simple’ phone call.
It’s the weirdest thing.
And I’m doing everything I know to do to get a handle on it.

One of those ways is to acknowledge the truth that Fear Makes You Flaky.
And who, in their right mind, wants to be flaky?

Let’s dig a little deeper for a minute…
One of the definitions of ‘flaky’ at is this:
~An unreliable person. A procrastinator. A careless or lazy person. Dishonest and doesn’t keep to their word. They’ll tell you they’re going to do one thing, and never do it. They’ll tell you that they’ll meet you somewhere, and show up an hour late or don’t show up at all.
(Just so we’re clear, I know that is like the Wikipedia of words…with definitions provided by regular, everyday people…)

When I look at that particular definition, I see all kinds of things I don’t want to be.
But things that I know I’ve been.
And still am, some days.
Things I want to be done being.

And then I wonder, How?
How do I stop being so worried about how I’ll come off so that I can be focused on the PEOPLE around me?
How do I stop letting the voices in my head that tell me they’re sure no one likes me to crowd out the voices of the ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS telling me their stories?
How do I stop letting fear call the shots?

I think the answers to those questions lie in Simple Things…
Get to know – really know – what God says about me.
Embrace – really embrace – who He says I am.
Rest – really rest – in His love.

For so many years, I’ve known those answers.
Known them in my head.
I’ve just had the hardest time integrating them into my life, my heart, my being.
It’s a process, though, I’m sure.
And, like all processes, there will be steps forward and steps back.
Hopefully the forward motion exceeds the backward over time.

As I’m stumbling toward practicing those answers, there are a few practical things I’ve thought of that may just help…
~Show up, no matter how much Flop Sweat is happening.
~Ask good questions, then listen. Really listen.
~Get out of my head, where the Fear lives.
~Accept that not everyone is going to like me.
~Trust the unfolding of any given situation.
~Relax about having to ‘perform.’
~Know that others may be feeling just as nervous.
~Focus attention on the people around me.

I’d like to tell you that I can instantly recall all of those things in the heat of a social situation.
And that they always make a dent in the Fear.
But I’d be lying.

I can tell you, though, that I have hope in this, despite the quaking of my knees…
As I re-record with Truth the tapes that have played loudly in my head for most of my life, I believe the fear will dissipate.

And, in time, I’ll be less flaky.


A Birthday Letter to My Body (Reclaiming Me :: Mind/Body)

dear bodyHey Body –

Can we have a little chat?

It’s your birthday today. Your forty-eighth birthday. (It feels much more gentle to spell it rather than use the numbers.) If I’m honest, this Birthday Thing has been hard for me since somewhere around the thirtieth one. I’m hoping maybe you and I starting this dialogue can make it easier to add candles to the cake from now on.

I’ve been pretty scared to talk to you these last several decades.
You’ve always seemed pretty on edge.
Pretty fickle and unpredictable.
Pretty rebellious and untrustworthy.
And acknowledging you never appeared to end well for me.

For years and years, I thought you were the enemy.
I’ve felt more-than-betrayed by you more times than I can count.
On so many levels.
In the interest of full disclosure, let’s list the parts of you that have ceased to work, exist, or just cause problems…

Knees. Appendix. Thyroid. Esophagus. Uterus. Ovaries. Breasts. Hair. Fat cells.

The fact that I need to use the back of the page to list the 15+ surgeries you’ve undergone when I fill out standard forms at the doctor’s office staggers me. It’s given me the ammo I’ve felt I needed to keep firing at you. So that I could imagine some sense of control when you chose to act so out-of-control.

Imperfections. Infections. Autoimmunity. Cancer. Loss. Scars.

I always thought it was you who couldn’t be trusted.
Turns out that wasn’t true.
It was the messages I listened to about you that weren’t trustworthy.
And that led to believing lies about you.

So, I’ve decided that I want to find a way that we can beautifully and peacefully coexist.
I want to honor you for all you’ve done.
All you’ve been through.

It’s occurred to me that if you and I can get on the same page, play on the same team, we can affect some positive changes. Not just for us, but as a witness to wholeness. A testimony to what can happen when gentleness and gratitude take the place of contempt and condemnation.

Those four girls you gave birth to could really use a roadmap to Body Love.
To Radical Self-Acceptance.
And who’s to say how much farther than their precious hearts the ripples can extend.

Speaking of those babies-turned-beautiful-young-women, they’re evidence of all the good you’ve done.
All the things I am thankful for about you.

Athleticism. Successful pregnancies. Breastfeeding. Resilience after surgery. Surviving a year of chemo.
I have deep gratitude for all of it.

In living out that gratitude, I’ve sketched out a bit of a preliminary game plan…
I’m going to continue feeding you clean, healthy, delicious whole food, trusting that you’ll take what you need from it.
I’m going to nurture you with regular sleep, believing that you’ll regain the energy necessary to heal.
I’m going to be mindful of the way I speak – and think – about you, knowing that you’ll respond positively to kindness.
I’m going to fill your ears with music and your eyes with beauty, hoping that you’ll find deep rest in God’s endless creativity.
I’m going to put away the scale and all the other measuring sticks, having faith that you’ll intrinsically find your set point.
I’m going to actively honor the gifts and talents God’s seeded in you, realizing that you’ll blossom as He intended when I give you the freedom to shine.
I’m going to practice renewing my mind and erasing all the Not Enoughs I’ve lived under by focusing on Whose I am, understanding that we’re divinely connected, you and I.

I think we can do this.
Even though it feels like I’m a bit out on a limb in putting all this out there.
After all, you could keep rebelling.

But I’m hoping maybe you’ll settle in.
And find rest.

In that hope, Happy Birthday.
Let’s make Forty Eight the Best. Year. Ever.




Reclaiming Me :: Mind/Body

{Throughout 2015, one of the ways I’m going to overcome my Writing Laryngitis is to post about ways I’m Reclaiming Me :: Body, Mind, and Soul. Here’s a bit more of that Reclamation.}
<< Livestrong @ the Y // Week Five >>

Someone called me ma’am today.

At the gym.
AFTER I’d kicked butt on the elliptical and unleashed my inner Amazon Queen on four Leg Day stations.

After how hard I worked the previous hour, it was a little disorienting.

I was feeling like I’d just rocked it with my inner athlete.
The one who is frozen in time in my mind.
At around age 20.

So being called ma’am knocked me out of my self-congratulatory reverie.

Do I look so old that the default is ‘ma’am’?

I drove home in a bit of a stupor.

That hurt.
More than I’d like to admit.

I thought about it all morning.
Trying to pull apart why I felt so dejected.
Attempting to find a way to healthfully frame it.

And then I recognized that something else entirely was impacting the processing of that exchange.
Another layer to my reaction?
My birthday is coming up really quickly.
And I haven’t yet arrived at the place where each additional year is embraced with glee and gratitude.
(Is that a real place even? I’ll let you know…if and when I ever arrive there. *wink)

I mean, I love my birthday.
And thriving through a battle with cancer does afford one a deeper level of tender thanks with each passing year.
But c’mon, man…Ma’am??

The way I see it, I’m facing a tough, but clear, choice.
I can rage against the dying of the light.
Let that four letter word (ma’am) penetrate my heart and mind and lodge deep in a way that could potentially make everything – not just gym workouts – harder and more of a challenge.
Or I could smile at the passing of time and do my best to make friends with it.
Maybe acquaintance-level friends at first, but friends nonetheless.

Don’t we all have that choice?
Whether we’re excitedly grabbing hold of the fresh, new beginning stages of adulthood…
or realizing that we’ve reached the top of the proverbial hill and are falling…oops! I mean heading over it…
or gratefully acknowledging a long, fruitful life while desiring to live each moment to its fullest…

Do we rage or make friends?
Do we fight and fear or embrace and esteem?
(And does it cause anyone besides me a bit of a stomach ache to admit that the better choice – the one that holds the most potential peace and joy – is the hardest? It’s just you and me here — you can be honest.)

Because in theory, it doesn’t seem like much of a contest…rage and fight or make friends?
Who in their right mind would choose rage? fight? fear?
No one I know.
At least not in theory.

But I propose that we choose those darker views by default when we get tripped up by being called ma’am or…wait…what even IS the male equivalent of ‘ma’am’? Sir? I don’t know. But you get the point, right?

And I, for one, don’t want to live by default.
Let’s choose well and embrace the days.

Even if someone calls you ma’am.


Reclaiming Me :: Body

{Throughout 2015, one of the ways I’m going to overcome my Writing Laryngitis is to post about ways I’m Reclaiming Me :: Body, Mind, and Soul. Here’s a bit more of that Reclamation.}

grateful for the pain

<< Livestrong @ the Y // Week Three >>

Today, I hurt.

Like all over.
Like. My. Whole. Body.

It’s kind of hurt that actually has a sound.
If you’re really quiet, you can hear it pretty clearly…

Hear that?
It’s the sound of muscles screaming.

One of the trainers this week said he prefers the term ‘singing’ when referring to the sound muscles make WHEN THEY’RE BEING TORN TO LITTLE SHREDS during the workout process. Singing?

Hmmm…today, I think I’ll stick with ‘screaming.’
With each breath, every inch of me is being reminded that I did things this week that I haven’t done in years…and some things I’ve never done at all.
Things like spinning, zumba-ing, weight lifting, battle roping, ripcording, weighted-ball-twisting lunge-walking, step-upping. (I’m sure the words I’m making up have Fitness Experts everywhere shuddering…oh well, shuddering probably burns more calories so, Fitness Experts, you’re welcome!)

So, yeah…I hurt.
And, as I lay in bed this morning, breathing slow and deep in an attempt to motivate this sore, aching body to get up and out of bed, I realized that I’m grateful for the pain.

Grateful because it signals to my heart and mind that I am alive.
Grateful because it reminds me that the slumbering Amazon Queen inside of me is starting to regain her footing.
Grateful because it means I did something that’s going to make a difference (as long as I keep doing it *smirk).
Grateful because it calls to mind just how much this stitched-together, stretched, scarred body can still do.
Grateful because it helps me grab onto the miracle that I’m becoming a Thriver after spending most of my life simply surviving.
Grateful because it tells me that I managed to show up for myself this week.

You want to know a magical thing that comes to me as I sit with that last one?
That Showing Up Thing?
I realize that when I show up for myself at the gym, I tend to show up in other important areas of my life, too.
Without breaking too much of a mental sweat.
Without getting into a long argument with myself about it.
Without letting old tapes and messages play louder than the truth.
Showing up for myself at the gym is strengthening a lot more than just my body, it seems.

Maybe, just like my muscles that are being TORN TO LITTLE SHREDS (also referred to as ‘good trauma’ *maybe something for a future post?) in the strengthening process, the reasons I’ve historically been afraid to show up are being TORN TO SHREDS, too.
Ripped up.
Frayed and rent and mangled.
All so that my Showing Up Muscles can be rebuilt into the confident, strong, agile muscles they’re meant to be.

So I’m grateful.
Grateful the shredding.
The ripping.
The fraying.
Grateful for the pain.

It means I’m getting stronger.
In more ways than one.

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Reclaiming Me :: Body

{Throughout 2015, one of the ways I’m going to overcome my Writing Laryngitis is to post about ways I’m Reclaiming Me :: Body, Mind, and Soul. Here’s another bit of that Reclamation.}

The Struggle

<< Livestrong @ the Y // Week Two >>

** This past week was my second week at Livestrong @ the Y instead of my third because I got to spend last week out of town wishing my new son in-law well on his year-long deployment to South Korea and supporting my oldest girl as she started finding her footing at home without him.

You know that thing when you naively, even excitedly, commit to something that sounds so very good on the face of it, only to grind your teeth in frustration each time you force yourself to follow through, show up, and honor that commitment?

That thing when your alarm goes off AND IT’S STILL DARK OUTSIDE and you say, out loud, ‘Whose flipping idea was this?!’

That thing when the struggle to make like it’s easy…like it’s a piece of cake…overwhelms and turns you into a cranky toddler?

Well, I’m here to tell you THE STRUGGLE IS REAL.

And what I know for sure is THE STRUGGLE IS WORTH IT.
{At least that’s what I know for sure so far…}

IT’S WORTH IT because when you get to the gym so crabby you’re afraid you may do something that lands you on the wrong side of the law but the endorphins produced in conjunction with all. the. sweat. help balance your mood, you grab onto the hope that exercising your One Precious Body could really be the key to overcoming The Gray that tends to nip at your heels.

IT’S WORTH IT because when you can increase your time on the elliptical without keeling over, you realize that those legs you’ve always thought of as Too Big are actually getting stronger every day

IT’S WORTH IT because when you sweat a half a bucket less (which is still A LOT) during thirty minutes of cardio than you did two weeks ago, you begin to believe that your respiration and perspiration may just be evening out and will eventually match each other in ways that prove increased stamina.

IT’S WORTH IT because when you hear one of the trainers say, ‘Look at you. You’re a natural.’, you are able to remember – and embrace – the fact that living inside of you all this time has been an athletic, powerful Amazon Queen patiently waiting to be rediscovered and invited back out to play.

When I was driving home on Thursday morning as, for the record, the sun was just starting to rise, it occurred to me how different things will be when the end of this twelve-week Livestrong session arrives the middle of April…

It will be light outside when that alarm goes off.
It won’t be such a struggle to get myself out the door (I’m projecting Hope and Faith into that future space here and now *grin)
My legs and heart and lungs and inner Amazon Queen will all be stronger
My moods will be brighter, lighter, and right-er.

And, I can see it from here — The Struggle will still be real.


Reclaiming Me :: Mind

{Throughout 2015, one of the ways I’m going to overcome my Writing Laryngitis is to post about ways I’m Reclaiming Me :: Body, Mind, and Soul. Here’s another bit of that Reclamation.}

just do it

<< Just Do It >>

Overcoming Writing Laryngitis is proving to be just a tad more challenging than I’d imagined it would be.

After all, shouldn’t I just be able to sit down and pound out a few posts, coherently elucidating the huge number of ideas and thoughts and feelings that have been banging around in my head and heart like so many tantrumming preteens protesting being sent to their rooms these last several months?

I mean, I can write so clearly and succinctly in my imagination.
Ya feel?

Notions and sentiments flowing and fluttering and floating from my fingertips with no real effort, no impediment, no barrier.

Doesn’t just the thought of that conjure up beautiful, peaceful, writerly images?

Let’s just sit with the peace it evokes for a minute, okay?

Ah. Who am I kidding?
I can barely type without looking at my fingers.
Even on my best day, the messages have to work to hold their shape and maintain their flow as my I-cheated-in-middle-school-typing-class fumbling threatens to squelch and erase them before they even see the light of day.

But I’ve let the pressure to produce, to write it all AND NOW keep me from writing anything at all.
I’ve let the belief that I have to have it all together AND NOW keep me from freeing those feelings from their Me-Imposed Time Out.
I’ve let the whispers that I have to say it all right AND NOW keep me from allowing my words to tumble and land where they may, welcomed and accepted in all their vulnerable messiness.

I’m done with that today.
Today, it’s like a Nike commercial up in here.
You know the commercials I’m talking about.
The ones filled with sweating, intense, focused, Just Do It-ness.
The ones that make even arthritic-kneed, middle-aged, round-edged mamas like me feel like anything is possible.

{And, for the record, there is sweating, intense, focused, Just Do It-ness happening right now…heavy on the sweating, light on the focus, if I’m being honest.}

As I argue with the Discouraged Perfectionist who knows she’s about to be evicted from her Bossy Throne in my head by all this Just Do It-ness, I can feel my heart beat faster, my knees shake a bit, and my courage flash its tiny, baby muscles.

Isn’t that how it seems to work?
You make up your mind to Just Do It which in turn unleashes all the Characters of the Status Quo who get their dander up and attempt mutiny on the itty-bitty brave new Decision to Do Things Differently.

But don’t let them win.
Tell them to quiet down.
Remind yourself, when the disloyal crowd of Characters gets loud and obnoxious and unruly, that Nike – before it was a shoe company with awesome, inspiring commercials – was the name of the Greek goddess of strength, speed, and, wait for it…victory.

So…you’ve got this.
Just Do It.

Thanks be to God, who gives us this victory through our Lord Jesus Christ! ~1 Corinthians 15:57(CEB)


Reclaiming Me :: Body

{Throughout 2015, one of the ways I’m going to overcome my Writing Laryngitis is to post about ways I’m Reclaiming Me :: Body, Mind, and Soul. This is the first in a series of posts that will record that Reclamation.}


<< Livestrong @ the Y // Week One >>

Lately, I’ve been thinking that maybe I lost touch with my body when it decided to play host to breast cancer almost five years ago.

Then I thought that being pregnant FOUR TIMES (most of the decade of the ‘90s) may have been the genesis of it.

My breath caught as I recently realized that there has never been a time in my life when I have felt in full, sole-possession of my own body.

Uninvited, inappropriate comments from those whose job it was to protect.
Unwanted, improper advances from neighbors.
Unfathomable, indecent impositions by boyfriends.
Unbelievable, immodest interactions with too many nameless, faceless boys.
Unimaginable, impure marriage relations with a sex-addict husband.
Unthinkable, inordinate numbers of health issues.

Now, after all this time, on the precipice of Midlife (okay, so maybe just on the other side of that precipice?), I’ve decided to reclaim my body.
Make it my own.
Own it in all it’s glorious, lumpy, pieces-missing, scar-marked glory.
To step into full and complete ownership of this miraculous creation.
Embrace it as the amazing, resilient, succulent fantastic-ness that it truly is.
Thank it for all it’s done for me .
Live in a state of gratitude for it’s bounce-back-ability and strength.
And honor it by treating it with kindness, grace, really healthy food and movement.

One way I’ve decided to reclaim me, to make my body my own is to enroll in my local Livestrong @ the Y program. It started this week. Early on Tuesday and Thursday morning. ‘Early’ as in the sun was STILL NOT UP when class was done. I’m good with that. Really, I am. What I’m not so good with is the mild case of social anxiety that accompanies me every time I step out of the sanctuary that is my home.

You see, Tuesday morning’s session was of an informational nature and there. were. icebreakers. *gasp*

It’s not enough that people scare me.
And new people downright terrify me.
Ice breakers had to be thrown in for good measure.

It was that always-a-blast classic ‘Two Truths & a Lie’.
And when it was my turn, I could not think of a lie!
It was not super-smooth or ‘hardly noticeable’ was a train wreck.
To top it off, in trying to make everyone laugh about my not being able to lie, I said TWO SWEAR WORDS.
Not the ones that garner movies their R ratings, but is that really what’s important here?
I was doing my socially-angsty, sweaty-because-I’m-scared-of-you best to make a decent first impression.
And. I. Swore.
I was so mortified that my glasses actually steamed up from the increase in body temperature brought on by Flop Sweat.

But I stuck it out and did my best to talk myself down on the way home.
You know, that thing where you have to repeatedly tell yourself, ‘Let it go. It’s not as bad as you think it was. No one thought anything of it. Etcetera. Etcetera. Etcetera.’

I thought I was doing pretty well in relation to this reclaiming/honoring my body deal.

Then I had a meltdown on Wednesday night because I had *nothing to wear* to Thursday’s class.
And that meltdown carried over into the very early hours of the morning when I realized that the pants I was planning to wear wouldn’t accommodate the knee brace I’m forced to wear after bilateral knee surgery several years ago.

Yelling, pouting, passive-agressiving ensued, and some tears even fell..
It was not pretty.

But, I was on time.
And rest assured, I didn’t go naked.
I put together something that was okay to look at and accommodated that darn knee brace.

Then, my body – that thing I haven’t trusted for…well, forever…decided it was going to show up.
And impress.

I aced the flexibility test.
(The trainer said my result was the ‘best [she’d] seen.’)
I cleaned up in the 6-minute walk test.
(Another trainer said she could tell I was ‘an athlete’ and that I am ‘going to be fun to work with.’)
I leg-pressed more weight than I thought I would.
(210 pounds.)
And I chest-pressed enough to impress myself.
(90 pounds.)

So, my body – that thing I’ve been bemoaning and ashamed of and not trusting – made me proud.

That’s how I plan to keep Reclaiming Me in regards to my body.
I’m going to give it permission to show up.
Maybe not dressed to the nines.
Maybe not as one of those cutie patootie, looking-younger-than-is-natural chicas. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…)
Maybe not all put-together and set-the-world-on-fire confident.

But I’m going to show up.
And let myself be strong.
Even if I swear a time or two.

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