Don’t Flush

fear of failure, flush awayI saw the sign on the wall of a public restroom. The first four words were ‘Please do not flush.” What followed were the items I’d expect to see on such a sign – paper towels, wipes and disposable diapers.

The next line was for something less likely but still very possible: Cell phones. I have a friend who dropped her phone in a public toilet so know this does happen.

I was amused to see we were next told not to flush kittens, puppies and dead goldfish. I’ve heard of flushing goldfish but not in a public restroom. Puppies and kittens – never! The sign had just become interesting enough to keep me reading.

The last items listed were old love letters and hopes and dreams. With a love gone wrong, these could be linked together.

However, it was the last part of this line that resonated with me. I have been tempted to flush away my hopes and dreams.

Sometimes they appeared too big to accomplish. Other times the struggle to reach them seemed overwhelming. Thoughts such as, “Who do I think I am to reach for these dreams?” flooded my mind. Fear of failure washed over me like a tsunami. If I just give up I don’t have to risk failing. In effect, I flush away my dreams so no evidence remains.

I’ve heard it said that people who avoid failure also avoid success. I don’t want to be one of those people so will take the final words on the sign to heart. Hopes and dreams are not to be flushed away.

When you fall into the trap of making excuses, you limit yourself from going after your dreams. “I can’t” is the lie you tell yourself so you don’t have to try.” – Robert Herjavec

Middle of Nowhere

#new perspective, going somewhereThe single-lane highway stretched before us. We had only passed a few small towns in the last hour and none were visible on the flat prairie landscape ahead of us. Our navigation system told us the next turn would be in 495 kilometres.

We approached an area which had recently been twinned and the old patched highway transformed to several kilometres of smooth new pavement. Our navigation system now showed us as being off-road. The costly stretch of highway, (a sign informed us this was a seventy million dollar project) built to make travel easier was not recognized.

When I commented on the expensive road work, my husband said, “In the middle of nowhere.”

“Yes, but it helps people in the middle of nowhere to get somewhere” I replied.
I thought about the times on my journey to move forward in life I have been stuck in the middle of nowhere. I was not where I started from and hadn’t yet reached where I wanted to be. It felt like I was spinning my tires and not getting anywhere. The cost in energy and resources were much greater than expected.

This phase has often felt long and unproductive. In reality, each step I take is an investment that moves me closer to my goal. The lessons learned and experiences gained are the price paid to smooth my future journey. Although it feels like I’m no longer on the road, I am actually paving new ground.

The next time the road I’m travelling seems far too long I will think of the highway we drove and remember I’m not stuck in the middle of nowhere – I’m on my way to somewhere.

Get Out of My Way

exercise, movement“Picture a clock lying face-up on the surface of the water,” we were told. “Now, keep your arms just below the surface of the water and punch your right arm to nine o’clock, then your left to three o’clock.” Our aquafit instructor also told us to pivot our legs in the same direction as our arms.

After a minute or so we changed the movement slightly to punch at ten and two. This engaged different muscles.

Next we were to alternate arms and punch to twelve o’clock. This was straight in front of us and our arms were still under the water. The instructor told us we’d need to get out of our own way in order to do this properly.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have to prove this concept for yourself! My mind questioned the ‘get out of your own way’ part of the instructions so I tried the exercise without moving my body. Sure enough, I was punching eleven and one even though I was aiming for twelve. Unless I pivoted my body to get out of the way I couldn’t do it.

This struck me as much more than exercise advice. There have been many times I’ve had to get out of my own way in order to achieve my goals.

Self-doubts have kept me from moving forward. Things like, “I don’t have the formal training to do that; This dream is too big for me to achieve; Who am I to charge people for my knowledge/skills? And many similar thoughts flood my mind.

These negative thoughts drown out the support and encouragement that surrounds me, effectively keeping me stuck. I become my own worst critic and biggest stumbling block.

The truth is I don’t have the skills, knowledge, or confidence to achieve most of what I have accomplished. I do, however, know the One who makes all things possible.

When I give up the idea that everything is done in my own strength, the pressure is removed. The Lord either shows me what I need to know or sends someone to help me. He has done so much more in and through me than I ever thought possible.

I am in awe of what has happened since I learned to get out of my own way and let Him work.

“I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13 NIV)

Letting Go

#inspiration, seasons, life, releaseI’m not sure when it happened but the season has definitely changed. Autumn, also known as fall, is upon us. My summer clothing is packed away, replaced by jeans and sweaters to keep me warm in the crisp air.

The landscape also transitions as green leaves are replaced with ones of gold. In some parts of the country, vivid oranges and reds add to the beauty.

Slowly, the trees release the leaves and let them fall to the ground. Sometimes a strong wind forces the trees to let go sooner than expected.

In time, the dry, brittle leaves break down and form a layer of mulch. This adds protection and nourishment to the soil, resulting in improved productivity for future growth.

Today I marvel at the beauty surrounding me and am reminded to enjoy these fleeting moments. The release of colourful foliage has already begun. It is a necessary part of the cycle of life.

My life also goes through such seasons. Six months ago I was filled with the budding promise of new ideas and possibilities. Some came to fruition and others did not. Not all seeds grow and flourish.

Now I am faced with the task of letting go. I choose to let go of regrets and disappointments. I release them and let them fall away. Winds of change blow the last ones free and I am liberated. My unencumbered arms stretch upwards, free to embrace this new season of life.

I know from past experience that nothing in my life is wasted. The lessons of yesterday have a purpose. Their memory will protect and nourish me so I can step with confidence into tomorrow. I am ready to face a new season.

Message of Love

I love youI opened the camera app on my phone, changed the setting to video and rotated the camera to face me. In my mind, I had rehearsed the message I planned to send. As sometimes happens in life, things didn’t turn out the way I hoped.

My message was to be sent to a loved one in another province who only had days left to live. There was so much I wanted to say. How could I possibly express my feelings in a short video?

I recorded a two-minute message to be sent to my niece who would play it at the hospice bedside. I tried to send it through Messenger but it was too large. Next, I tried to email, with the same results.

It looked like I’d have to start over. A minute and a half was still too large a file to send. So was forty seconds. I was getting frustrated and started to panic. Time was limited and I needed to get this message sent before it was too late.

Once more I went back to my camera. I had already cut out much of what I wanted to say. The short reading was gone. So were the encouraging memories we shared. I was sure the thirty second version would send. Wrong again. In desperation, I cut all extra words and the recording came in at twenty seconds.

This was still too large a file so I cut a few more words and came in at sixteen seconds. My prayer of, “please let this work” was answered when I hit ‘send’ and it went. Relief was mingled with regret at what I wasn’t able to say.

The next day I heard how much my short message had meant. The following day my sister-in-law passed away.

I learned an important lesson through this experience. It doesn’t take a lot of words to say what’s in my heart. All I needed was to say, “I love you and your memory will remain in my heart.” If I had waited to figure out how to send a larger message I may have been too late.

Thank you, Earleen for the final lesson. Rehearsed words are not as important as saying, “I love you” every chance we get.

What I Leave Behind

#inspiration, nature, path, My husband and I were walking on a path through the woods when we saw some animal scat in front of us. I wondered what kind of animal had preceded us. I hoped it was from a deer and not something more dangerous. To confirm this, I took a picture for identification purposes. This would let me know if this path was a safe place for future walks.

Our initial guess turned out to be correct and my fear of a dangerous animal was alleviated.

The situation did produce some interesting questions though. I wondered if I could be identified by the crap I leave behind.

Do my fears and insecurities leave a trail of chaos in my wake? Do my frustrations and anger cause turmoil for others? Does the garbage left behind let you know I was there? Am I walking away and expecting others to clean up my mess?

If any of these are the case, I need to make some changes. None of them are ways I would like to be remembered.

Knowing I can be identified by what I leave behind, I want to leave a legacy of kind words and gestures that showed I cared. Smiles, laughter and stories of memories made together are the best evidence of my footprints in your life. My purpose is to inspire others by sharing from my heart to help them see their true value.#inspiration, value, beauty

I think I’ll keep that picture of deer scat on my phone as a reminder of what and what not to leave behind.

This story is from my book Another Perspective

Proud Citizens

#inspiration, #heaven, #Jesus, kindnessToday is Canada Day. My husband and I will soon be joining thousands of others in our city to watch the Canada Day parade. We have our red shirts and maple leaf insignia to wear and flags to wave. This is our way of showing our patriotism.

Festivities in honour of Canada’s 152nd birthday will take place all across our vast nation. In our city and many others, the celebrations will conclude with spectacular fireworks displays. These events enable us to come together and celebrate our citizenship in what we believe is one of the best countries in the world.

Across the world citizens of Canada have a reputation for being polite. Kindness and care for others is also an attribute of those with a heavenly citizenship.

A friend once told me that we often go through life like tourists. We gather souvenirs and mementos from places we’ve been and people we’ve met. What we are called to do as citizens of heaven is to leave little pieces of heaven wherever we go. Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

No matter what country we live in, we are also citizens of heaven. One day we will all be reunited with our Lord, Jesus Christ. No citizenship can be better and that alone is reason for celebration.

But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, (Philippians 3:20 NIV)

Stand Still

#inspiration, protection, nature, rabbitI turned the corner onto my street and saw one of our neighbourhood jackrabbits hopping across the road. When it heard my car approaching, the rabbit stopped right where it was – in the middle of the road. It held perfectly still as I slowly drove past.

Often I see one of these rabbits in my yard and instead of hopping away when I come close, it will freeze in position, as if to blend into the surroundings and become invisible. Some places are easier to blend into than others.

What is interesting to me is the rabbits hold still when they haven’t done anything wrong but if I come outside and see one doing something destructive in my garden it sure hops off in a hurry. I guess it all depends if it thinks I’ve seen it or not.

I didn’t see the rabbits eating my tulips this year, but the fact only one matured enough to flower gives me the impression the others became tasty meals.

My husband was wondering aloud one day about a sparse patch on our front lawn. He had re-seeded that area but hadn’t seen any new growth. “Maybe the birds ate the seeds,” he said. A few days later he looked outside early in the morning and saw two rabbits happily munching away in this area. It turns out they were eating the tender new shoots of grass before they matured enough for us to see them. Mystery solved!

To be fair, blending in with the surroundings can be an effective survival tactic. If the rabbit can’t be seen, there will be no danger of harm.

Although this may be useful for animals, the behaviour doesn’t work the same way for people. How do I know this for certain; because I’ve tried it?

Someone once told me she had observed me making myself invisible when I was out of my comfort zone. I was like the rabbit on the road. I thought no one could see me but I was wrong.

My desire is to feel like I belong, that I’m part of what is going on. When it feels like this is a bigger challenge than I can handle, I withdraw to protect myself from rejection. This makes me appear aloof and unapproachable. The result is I am not drawn into the group. Isn’t it ironic that I create the very situation I was afraid of?

 

This story was published in my book  Another Perspective.

Silence

#inspiration, #Jesus, silenceI was attending a silent retreat. While I was not speaking, things were far from silent. Sitting in the morning sunshine I was serenaded by the songs of various birds. Some I would have noticed before, but there are many I would have missed amid the sounds of human voices.

Even though I was not speaking aloud, the voices in my head continued. Random thoughts appear in my conscious mind, taking me back to the busy life I’d left behind. It was during these times that I realized how difficult it is to focus on only the present.

I gazed over an expanse of lawn, framed by towering evergreens. Off to one side, a river wound its way lazily through the property. I was surrounded by the beauty and majesty that God had created. In my mind, I heard the words “be still and know that I am God”.

It is in the stillness that God’s message for me becomes clear. For only when I block out the distractions of the world am I truly able to focus on the loving relationship that my Heavenly Father longs to have with me. There is peace, stillness for my mind and renewal for my soul to be found in the silence.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10 NIV

This is found in my book Inspirations From the Everyday. This past weekend I once again attended this silent retreat and had the same profund experience.

 

Grasshoppers

#inspiration, nature, wonder, discoveriesI was standing in the grass on a highway median, doing my best to keep three little girls occupied while a tire on their parents’ vehicle was being changed. They were starting to get restless when I spotted movement in the tall grass.

Showing them the grasshopper was a wonderful distraction. Soon we were on the hunt for more of these insects.

Two of the girls excitedly spotted several more and delighted in watching them hop. The other one complained that she couldn’t see grasshoppers; all she could see were bugs. Explaining that they were the grasshoppers didn’t help. She wanted nothing to do with them.

Reflecting on this later, I wondered how often I’d missed the wonder of something new because I couldn’t see past my perception of what I thought it should be.

Life is full of exciting adventures, but only if I open my heart and mind to accept and receive them. Immediately deciding that I don’t want or like something means I’ll miss these discoveries. It’s when I forget my routine life and enter into the adventure that I can truly experience all the wonders in store for me.

This story was taken from my book Dragonflies, Snowdrifts & Spice Cake