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Pink and Pinkier

There’s the barely pink blush of spring.

Then there’s the LookhowpinkIcanbe show off of spring.

~mwe

What’s better than yellow in the spring time?

~mwe

Going Green

I took way too many pictures on my spring break outing to share in one post, so I’m going to divide them into themes.

Today, we go green.

~mwe

To do: Choose Joy

I’m a list maker.

I put even minor things on my to do lists.

First, because it relieves the stress of trying to remember every little thing I need to do.

But my favorite part of making lists is being able to cross things off.  When I’m able to cross even one thing off my list, I feel like I’ve done something with my day.

A couple of weeks ago I made of list of things I needed to get done as I wrapped up winter quarter.  I also included the title for a blog post I was thinking about writing: Choose Joy.

The next few days, every time I checked things off my list I saw it staring back at me:

Choose Joy

It wasn’t long before I decided I’m keeping it on my list.

Because you know what?  I forget to do it ALL the time.

How can that be?  I mean, it’s JOY.  It feels AMAZING.  It makes my heart burn – in a good way.

But I often find myself choosing everything else.

Stress.

Boredom.

Anxiety.

Frustration.

Discontent.

Why do I do that?  Why do I so easily forget the things that bring me joy and fall into the things that keep me down?

Does this happen to anyone else?

(Let me say, I believe joy is different from happiness.  Joy can exist in the face of adversity and even sadness.  It makes the worst of situations bearable.  It’s a sense of peace.  A sense of contentment.  A deep, abiding love for life and all that comes with it.  But when it’s not there, everything is off balance, irritating, upsetting. In short – wrong.) 

So true to form, I spent most of my spring break doing random things.  I appreciated the unusually warm, early spring weather, but didn’t really get out to enjoy it.  So on the last day I had to myself, I decided (with a little coaxing from my husband) to go to one of my favorite places to take some pictures of spring in all it’s glory.

Because that brings me JOY.

Here’s a little preview.  I’ll share more in the coming days …

~mwe

Find Your Tribe.

This is the name of a post Jen Louden wrote in response to a question I sent her.

Who’s Jen Louden?  She’s an amazing woman who helps women find and be their best selves.

What was the question I asked?

If you had to relocate to a place in which you knew virtually no one, how would you go about finding or creating a community of intelligent, creative, professional women (very much like yourself) who are interested in becoming their best self in order to do their best work – whatever that may be?

No, I haven’t moved nor do I plan to.  But as I wrote about a couple of weeks ago, I feel like I’m in the process of remodeling my life.  Framing my question in the context of moving seemed to be the easiest way to get my point across.  I thought, as I often do, that someone else wouldn’t quite understand what I was talking about if I told them what I really wanted to know.  Turns out, plenty of people totally get where I am in my life.  Who knew?  Chalk up another lesson learned: Say what I truly mean and feel because chances are someone else feels the same way.

But the point I want to get to today is my initial response to Jen’s post and what’s happened since then.  

When I first read Jen’s response to my question, I thought it was pretty amazing that it included SO MANY responses to my question.  I mean, that’s a LOT of people!

And I really appreciated their ideas.  But the ideas that popped out at me were the concrete things.  Use social media.  Go to bookstores.  Try the coffee shops.  Join a yoga class.  These are all fantastic ideas, but I found myself saying, “I’ve tried those kinds of things and they never work.”  Great attitude, huh?   And honestly, while I appreciated the thoughts and the work Jen put into creating the post, I kind of walked away from it feeling like it wasn’t all that helpful for me.

In fact, I pretty much gave up on trying to find answers.  Because I’ve spent a LONG time trying to find places where I could connect with people – including social media, bookstores, classes, workshops, mom groups, bible studies, etc., etc., etc. and if these experts on Jen’s blog didn’t have anything else to offer (I said to myself), it’s never going to happen.

And wouldn’t you know, that’s when things started to happen.

I had an idea for fulfilling a need I saw among women.  I shared it with someone.  And she said, “I think we should make that happen.”

I was asked to share a little bit of my story with a group of people who may have similar struggles.

I was asked to help lead a small group of those same people.

I stumbled upon a women’s luncheon I just happen to be free to attend.

I made time to have dinner with a dear friend and wondered why we can’t seem to find the time to do it more often.

And before long, I realized I’m connecting with people.  Which is odd, because I wasn’t really trying to.  I was just kind of doing my thing.  Granted, I’m getting a lot better at doing my thing – as opposed to doing whatever thing I think I should be doing.

So I went back to read Jen’s blog again.  And guess what.  It was like reading a totally different post.  I mean, really, did she go back and change it?  Because I know I didn’t see these suggestions in it before …

Ask this question now, before you get caught in settling your new life: who do you want to be? Decide right now to be that. Then go out & do that in every moment. Your people will come to you in surprising ways, because they’re all looking for you, too. — Brian Andrea

Just show up, with bells on if ya have them (as in: be enthusiastically IN and AVAILABLE when you arrive. … Keep it easy breezy. — Dyana Valentine

The key is to allow ourselves to tell the truth and be vulnerable — Gail Larsen 

Open my heart up wide to this desire and visualize the Universe as kind witness to my longing. Expect connections that I can act on to emerge. Assume that their timing and packaging won’t always be what I’d script for them. Lean into trust that all is always as it needs to be. —Kristin Noelle

I’d start by checking in with myself to make sure that I was doing my best work to become my best self, because I believe that that radiates. —Kate Swoboda

Follow your instinct, go where the people are, and let the beauty of who you are draw your people to you. — Max Daniels

Be real.  — Susannah Conway

Let go of outcome.  Be thy radiant self. – Jeffrey Davis

How did I miss all this amazingness?  Because I was too busy looking for what I should do.  I wanted a plan.  A solution.  A fix.

Slowly but surely, I’m learning I can’t come up with a plan for everything.  There are often no solutions.  And frequently no fixes.

But I can BE.  

And in BEING – 

I’m real.

I’m vulnerable.

I’m open.

I’m available.

I’m radiant.
It seems my tribe may have been waiting for me to claim my place in it all along.
So thank you, Jen, and all your tribe for all the amazingness you put in my lap.  And I’m sorry it took so long to sink in.  Somehow, though, I think you understand.
~mwe

Life Remodel

What do you do when you’ve lived in your house for years and years and it no longer meets your needs?  It seems to me that you have 3 choices.

1.  Stay put, change nothing, and be uncomfortable, maybe even unhappy.

2.  Leave your old house to find a new, better house that allows you to spread out and live the way  you dream.

3.  Remodel the home you have, keeping what you love and change the parts that don’t work for you anymore.

What do you do when your life no longer meets your needs?

1.  Stay put, change nothing, and be uncomfortable, maybe even unhappy.

2.  Leave your old life to find a new, better one that allows you to spread your wings and live the life you dream.

3.  Remodel the life you have, keeping what you love and changing the parts that don’t work for you anymore.

This is where I find myself – or maybe found myself – in the past few years.  I knew the life I created wasn’t working for me, or anyone else for that matter.  I was stressed, unhappy, unfulfilled, and grasping at anything that might make me feel better.

So I had to make a choice – door #1, 2, or 3?  I knew something needed to change, so choice #1 was off the table.  That left me with #2 and #3.  But that can be a hard decision.  So I started down the path of change not knowing what the outcome would be.

I left my job.

Went back to school full-time.

Repaired the personal relationships in my life.

Repaired myself.

Going down this road was exciting, challenging, energizing, and frustrating.  The biggest frustrations came each time I faced that choice – leave or remodel.  One thing was certain, I wasn’t leaving my husband or children, because the more I learned to love myself, the more I loved them.

The choice, however, became more and more clear as events unfolded.  I’m staying.  There is too much of my life – here and now – that I love.  There are, though, parts that don’t work for me anymore.  And that’s where I get stuck sometimes.

How does a 43 year old woman remodel her life?

New job? Check

New hobbies? Check

New outlook? Check

Heck, I even switched the furniture in the family and dining rooms to completely flip our house around.

But there’s a chunk of life that I still haven’t quite figured out.  Before I go any further, let me say I love my friends.  They are wonderful. But I’ve never been very good at getting close to people.  I’m good at knowing a lot of people and being friendly, but not at being friends.

So I find myself at a point in my life where I’m ready to belong to a community of smart, spiritual, amazing women.  Women who want to be their best in order to do their best work in the world, whatever that may be.

But where do you find them?  We’re all so wrapped up in our work, families, church, you name it, we hardly ever have time to focus on ourselves.  And if we do, shouldn’t we really be focusing on something or someone else?  I’m ready to say no.  I need time to work on and sustain myself, and hopefully help sustain others.

So I’m embarking on a journey to create such a community.  I’ve taken a few steps to get started and I’ll be sharing them with you along the way.  I think this could turn into something pretty exciting.  I’d also love to hear what you think.

Are you anywhere in this process?

Do you belong to such a community of supporting women?

Aside from your family, where do you find the support and energy that sustains you?

~mwe

Enough

Note: Yes, I know.  It’s been forever.  I have no excuses except that for me, blogging is something I am able to move around on my list of priorities.  While I miss the daily process of writing and connecting, life is full right now.  I imagine that at some point I’ll be back to write daily, but for now, a short thought about a lesson I recently learned …

In the eyes of the world I may never be ________ enough.

Smart enough…

Pretty enough…

Thin enough…

Productive enough…

Nice enough…

Assertive enough…

Good enough.

But no matter the outcome of whatever I do, I will be alright.

Because I am a child of God, wonderfully made, strong, and RADIANT.

And that is enough for me.

~mwe