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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
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I have a few ideas percolating around in my head, at least one I’m procrastinating on, but none to put to paper (or computer, as the case may be.)  So I’ve decided to take the slacker approach to a blog post – go back and look at some previous ones.  I haven’t been blogging for very long at all compared to some, but with over 100 posts I at least have a feel for what people have read and what they haven’t.  Sometimes big bloggers post their most popular posts – but I thought, why do that?  If they are the most popular, most people have read them.

So I’m going to go against the grain and share with you 4 posts that I wish more people would read.  They were all written before most people subscribed to my blog, so they are near the bottom of the pile (reader-wise), but I think they are worth giving another try.  As I picked these, I noticed they represent four facets of my life – parent, musician, educator, and Christian.

Parent – Fish Wisdom (23 views)

Musician – Music alone shall live – Or will it? ( 31 views)

Educator- Questions that count (41 views)

Christian – So what am I? Worthless dust or a priceless miracle? (34 views)

I hope you’ll take a minute and check them out.  I think they’re worth a read.

~mwe

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Why is it so hard to give up your old ways for new ones, even when it’s clear the old ones aren’t good and the new ones will be?

Why does what’s comfortable seem more appealing than what’s good?

Why do people (me included) cling to what we know even if it’s clear that something else would be so much better?

How do I move what I know in my head to what I live in my heart?

Those are my questions.

~mwe

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(Note: The sentences in italics at the end of the second paragraph were added after publishing to clarify my thoughts.)

The other day I was reading an article written by Rabbi Shmuley Boteach in response to an evangelical minister’s attempt to “win” Anthony Weiner over to Jesus.  First, let me say that when I started reading the article I expected to agree more with Rabbi Shmuley than the Baptist minister.  I have a great deal of respect for the Rabbi.  He is a wise, thoughtful, man of God who rises above popular opinion to speak his mind about this society we live in.  Above all, he is kind and always seems to believe in the goodness of people.

So I was surprised when I was reading this article and came to a sentence that stopped me dead in my tracks.  “Redemption comes about not through anything we believe but how we behave.”  Whoa.  It’s very seldom that I read something from someone I respect that is the complete opposite of what I believe.  But this one sentence did.  Because I believe that “a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.” (Romans 3: 28)  In the same way, I believe “a person is not justified by the works of the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:16)  Of course, actions are important.  But I don’t believe we can ever hope to “win” God’s favor by our actions alone.  We make mistakes.  We make bad choices.  We do stupid things.  If and when, however, our heart is God’s, we try harder to do His will – not because it adds to our “good acts” column, but because we want to please Him.  And it is our faith that draws us to this point in our lives.

I’m not writing about this because I want to do to Rabbi Shmuley what the Christian minister did to Anthony Weiner.  I respect the Rabbi’s beliefs.  I have no doubt that he has a strong foundation for them.  But, I’m thankful to Rabbi Shmuley for stating his belief in this article, because in doing so, I am able to stand firm in mine.  When I read his words, it was like the two similar poles of magnets repelling each other.  At first, that feeling bothered me.  But then I realized I felt this way because he contradicted my core beliefs.  And it feels good to know there is something I believe that deeply in my soul.

There are times when I wonder if my faith is strong enough.  There are days where my questions outnumber my answers.  But thanks to this article, I know some of my beliefs can’t be shaken.  And I’m glad this is one of them, because if I only had my works to save my soul, I’d be in big trouble.  I believe I have a Lord who will be at my side when my works are counted and stand in the gap for my salvation.

(And Rabbi Shmuley, if you happen to read this, I’d love to talk to you about our beliefs.  I promise to only tell you my reasons for my faith and not try to convince you to try Jesus – unless I’m so convincing that you decide Jesus is the answer 🙂 )

~mwe

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Gratitude Tuesday

Today I start what I hope will become a Tuesday tradition … Gratitude Tuesday.

I started toying with the idea of including things I’m grateful for on my blog posts a few weeks ago when I came across a list.  At the time I made it, I called the list  a grateful journal. I kept it for a month a few years back when I was experiencing a severe case of “The grass is always greener.”  Reading the simple entries – just three a day – I could remember exactly what was going on in my life during those days and why I was grateful for the things I recorded.  More importantly, I remember what a profound change it made to my perspective on life.  I looked inward to all the things I had to be thankful for.  Many were small, but they added up to much.  And I could see how green my grass was.

Fast forward to last week when I started experimenting with a new camera.  I shared that it was my intention to take more pictures of daily life, noticing things of beauty and interest that I might otherwise pass by and not notice.  Two readers, Michelle and Patti, noticed this idea fit in with their and other bloggers effort to notice the details of life and say thanks.  (Be sure to check out their thankful pages by clicking on their names. They have several links which may help to inspire you, too!)

This was the final push I needed to start Gratitude Tuesday.  My plan is to keep a list going through the week and share it with you on Tuesday.  It’s my hope that establishing this habit will help me notice all those little things through the week that are sometimes overshadowed by the bad or even the really good.

Green

So here’s what I’m grateful for this week …

  • Cool, breezy summer days
  • The smell of chocolate cake in the oven
  • Family game night
  • An hour to myself at the park
  • My new camera
  • The smell of rain in the evening
  • Having everyone in my family home
  • Plenty of activities to keep the kids busy
  • A day where the kids are content to be lazy
I want to live life wringing every last drop of goodness out of it – and be grateful for it all.
Will you join me?
~mwe

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If you didn’t catch the explanation of the 30-Day challenge, you can read about it here.

Here is the verse for day 30 of the challenge:

1 John 4: 11

Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.  (In context: 1 John 4: 10-12)

Woohoo!  You made it to day 30!  I pray this challenge has been as much as blessing to you as it has been to me.

Don’t forget to share your success and/or challenges!  You can read about how I’m doing here

~mwe

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We and They

by Rudyard Kipling

(An excerpt – read the whole poem here)

All good people agree,

And all good people say,

All nice people, like Us, are We

And every one else is They:

But if you cross over the sea,

Instead of over the way,

You may end by (think of it!) looking on We

As only a sort of They!

Even though this poem was written in 1926, I only found it recently.  Another blogger shared it along with the experience of discussing it with her class of students.  (I wish I could remember whose blog it was because I’d love to give her credit.  If it was yours please let me know so I can provide a link!)

It strikes me for two reasons.  First, I love its message.  I know it sounds trite, but I’ve long felt that if the world could get past a we/they, or “other” mentality, many of our problems could be solved.  Differences, of course, exist, but when they are used to separate and divide, they become, well, divisive. It starts when we’re kids – between boys and girls, classes, schools, teams – and we’re hooked.  Just listen to the rhetoric in our society today and it’s easy to hear it doesn’t go away when we grow up – politics, religion, public policy – “we” and “they” is heard everywhere.  It often makes us feel as though we have to choose sides – left or right, conservative or liberal, public or charter, life or choice, religious or spiritual – the list could go on and on.

It seems to me, however, that who we are – a “we” or a “they” – is very much determined by where we are born.  Just as Kipling writes, geography accounts for much of our perspective – our politics, our religion, our race, our economic situation, our opportunity for education, our experience with gender – I’m sure you can think of more.  We don’t have to be separated by an ocean to see an “other.”  They can be in another state, another town, or next door.  Rudyard Kipling gets this.  Better yet, he conveys it in convicting language.

The second reason I love this poem is for its timelessness.  In 1926, the United States was changing drastically.  Immigrants were still streaming into the country, people were migrating to the north and west of the country, and urban cities were growing dramatically.  Kipling’s words held great significance at the time he wrote them, but no less today.  We’re taught in history classes that America is a melting pot, but we have a long history of not being very welcoming to “them.”  I wonder what the world would look like if there was no we and they.  Would it be better?  Or is it something that is necessary?

~mwe

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