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Posts Tagged ‘Digging Deep’

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

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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

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Hi strangers!  I’ve missed you!

I’ve been keeping very busy since we last chatted.  Lots of cleaning, organizing, and decluttering going on in my house.  And even some exercising.  I’m not sure where this burst of energy came from but I’m going to ride it as long as I can.  It’s a great feeling to walk into a closet or open a drawer and feel the peace of an uncluttered, organized space.  Maybe that sounds too Zen to you, but I here to tell you it’s true.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about today.

Today I’d like to take a moment and talk about what we do and who we are.

I love doing things to make people happy, put a smile on their face, or make them feel special.  I do these things because I want to show I love and care about someone.  It’s for them.  If you’re familiar with Gary Chapman’s work, you might say acts of service is one of my top love languages.  It’s how I express my love for others.  But if I’m completely honest with myself, there is some place deep inside me that believes if I didn’t do things for people, they wouldn’t like me.  Which I think comes from a little place that still believes I am not good enough to be liked for who I am.

This really hits home when someone is bothered by who I am.  I mean those things that I do or say without even thinking about them.  Or the way I do or say things.  I feel like it’s not what I say that bothers them (which can be easily fixed), but who I am (which is not so easily fixed).  It’s as if love becomes connected to things on its way out, but it becomes connected to me on its way in – or when it doesn’t come in.  I may have completely lost half of you by now and the other half may think I’m completely nuts.  Either one is okay.  It comes down to the feeling that I sometimes feel like people will love me if I do the right things, but won’t love me just for who I am.

Now don’t get me wrong.  This isn’t something that clouds my every thought.  But once in a while a crops up, and when it does, it bugs me.  I’ve come a long way over the years in knowing who I am and there are a lot of qualities about myself that I love.  I wonder, though, where I learned that it’s what I do and not who I am that people love.  And why that belief holds on so tightly.  When did my love language become my reason to be loved?

What do you think?  Do you have a hard time separating what you do from who you are?  If you took away those things would you feel as though there was enough left to be loved?  Or worth being loved?

~mwe

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the questions I posed in yesterday’s post.

(This might start to veer off on another course from where you thought I was going, but it was a pretty important realization for me, so I thought I’d share it in case it helps anyone else. Plus, writing about it helps me clarify things in my mind, too.)

I finished yesterday asking these three questions:

At what point do you move on?

Do you just keep loving?

Or do love in a different way?

As I wrote that post, I was referring to the people in our lives who don’t respond (at least in the way we think they should) to our offerings of love, friendship, and kindness.

I am a person that aims to please.  Yes, my name is Malinda and I’m a people pleaser.  So when people don’t respond to what I’ve done to please them, it’s disappointing.  Yes, there is a part of me (a hopefully shrinking part) that wants to please people so they like me, but I also do it because I like how I feel when I do it.  I like how it feels to put a smile on someone else’s face.  I think this world is largely lacking in kindness and I try to be someone who provides a bright spot in someone’s day.

But here’s the startling revelation I had while I was thinking about all of this – I aim to please myself, too.  The even more startling part?  Just like other people don’t always accept my kindness, I don’t always accept my own kindness.  Just like there are some people who don’t always have my best interest at heart, I don’t always have my best interest at heart.

Hmmmm.  What do I do with this?

Well, here are my thoughts…

I’m called to love others and myself.  I want to love others and myself.  But in life, there are people who for whatever reason aren’t ready to accept love.  Their thoughts and actions don’t always have my best interests at heart because, well, they are busy with their own stuff.  My best interests aren’t at the top of their list to worry about.  In the same way, there is a part of me that is busy with its own stuff.  My overall best interest isn’t at the top of its list to worry about either.

And that’s when it all clicked.  I think the answer to those questions from yesterday lies in loving in a different way.  Loving one another doesn’t mean I have to attach myself to someone’s response.  I can be interested in the welfare of others regardless of how I feel about them.  I don’t believe I’m called to love anyone – including myself – in a way that takes away from attaining the best life God has planned for me.

So I think the question I need to ask myself is, “Is this thought or action going to express my love and is it a step toward attaining the best life God has planned for me?”  If I can’t answer yes to both parts, then I need to rethink it.  Because if I think my thought or action expresses love but it moves me away from being my best, it can’t be in my best interest.  Or should I say God’s best interest for me – because this isn’t about being selfish – it’s about knowing that God has a picture of what the best me looks like and trying to reach it.  I can even ask these questions when it comes to taking care of myself – because sometimes something feels good but isn’t moving me toward being my best.  Or – and these are the scary ones for me – sometimes it doesn’t feel good but it is moving me toward being my best.  That may be the hardest act of love there is.  For myself and for others.

It seems like this is a long way from where I started yesterday and it may not be the clearest expression of my thoughts, but I think as it sinks in, it could be something that changes how I approach life.  What do you think?  Does it make sense to you?  Can you see any application for your life?

~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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A while ago I wrote a post called “I Feel vs. I Am.”  In it, I talked about the difference between who I am – on a deep, personal level, and how I feel – on a more surface, transitory level.  I said, “Feelings float across my surface and mark moments in time but they do not consume and define me. What I am, however, stays constant.”

I’ve been thinking about this lately.  In the past month or so, I’ve had a few stressful events in my life.  While I was in the midst of these, I realized some of the feelings associated with the events were taking a toll on me.  Physically, I felt anxious – my stomach was in knots, my heart raced, my muscles were tense.  Mentally, I could see myself adding to the stress.  It was as if my mind said, “Hey, as long as you’re stressed, let’s worry about this, too!  And this!  And oh, don’t forget this!”

I told myself, “This is silly.  You’re blowing things out of proportion.  You need to set these things aside and move on.”  I tried all kinds of relaxation techniques – deep breathing, meditation, prayer – but nothing was really doing the trick.  I knew in my mind that these feelings weren’t who I was, but they were burrowing in deep, trying to keep a hold on me.

That’s when I finally realized something important.  While I still believe my feelings don’t define who I am, I need to be careful not to dismiss them.  Because (and here’s the really important part) when I say my feelings aren’t important, I say that I’m not important.  I probably learned this a long time ago, when I was told (either verbally or non-verbally) to, in effect, shake it off and move on.  I feel scared?  That’s silly, there’s nothing to be afraid of.  I’m worried?  Forget about it, worry never changed anything.  I’m nervous.  Don’t be crazy, you’ll be fine.  All of these might be ok to say in certain situations, but somehow in my head, I hear, “You’re silly,” “Forget about you,” “You’re crazy.”

It amazes me that as much as I believe in myself and my abilities, my brain can still find ways to make me believe otherwise.  Luckily, my brain is also pretty good at eventually figuring out how to take care of me.  So now I know that while my feelings come and go and don’t define me, they are important to acknowledge.  And when the feelings cause me to feel stressed and anxious, I need to be compassionate with myself and seek out others who will do the same.

How about you?  Do you ever sabotage you’re well-being without even realizing it?

~mwe

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The Missing Test

Are you ever surprised at the things you miss?

Are you ever surprised at the things you don’t miss?

I am.

It’s kind of like a test.  A test to see what’s really important in my life.

The things I think I can’t live without – after a day or so I realize I can do just fine without them.  Sometimes even better than with them.

And then there are the things that I think I’ll be fine without.  When they are gone, I realize how much I depend on them, how much space they fill in my life.  My guess is that I don’t think I’ll miss them because I take them for granted.  Or they become such a natural part of me that I don’t even notice they are there – not in a forgetting kind of way – but in a you’re so much a part of me that I don’t even think about needing you because you’re always there kind of way.  Like when the electricity goes out but you still feel disappointed every time you walk in a room and flip the switch.  Or when you realize you have no one to eat lunch with because your lunch buddy is on vacation.  Or when the one you love has to go out of town for a few days.

It might be good to go without those things once in a while so you can feel the hole when they aren’t there.  Feel the missing.  Then when it’s back, you notice it more.  You know how life feels without.  You know how life feels with.  You have a side by side comparison.  You can appreciate it.  And if it’s a person, you can give them a hug.

~mwe

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