Grief and Gratitude

seminar, personal developmentTwenty-five years ago, my husband and I attended a five-day personal development seminar. It came highly recommended but we hadn’t been given any specific information and weren’t sure what to expect.

I saw several banners on the walls. One said If Better is Possible, Is Good, Good Enough. It caught my interest because I thought my life was pretty good but knew there was room to make it better.

To say the seminar changed our lives sounds cliché, but it’s the truth. I came away happier and with the confidence to believe in myself. Our family became stronger and my marriage reached a depth I never could have imagined before. I learned firsthand that better was possible.

Over the years we witnessed countless others, including friends and family, benefit from the program. Volunteer roles allowed me to make a small difference in someone else’s life. I was stretched and challenged and learned I could do much more than I realized. Deep friendships were formed with those I served with and for.

Last week it was announced that this amazing program would not be able to continue. The global pandemic had imposed restrictions that couldn’t be overcome.

Feelings of grief and gratitude intermingle. We were not just participants or volunteers in a program, we had become family. Many are scattered across the country and we will no longer come together on a regular basis. I don’t know if, or when, I will again see these people I’ve come to care for. This is where the grief comes in.

I’ve heard the saying, Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened. With that in mind, I look back in gratitude for the Choices program. It truly was the adventure of a lifetime. I am a better person because I took what I learned there and applied it to my life. The training will forever live in my heart.

I am a confident and valuable woman, gently leading and making a difference by sharing from my heart.

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

A Leap of Faith

fear, risk, leap of faith, fall, get back upI am fascinated to watch Olympic Figure Skaters. They are graceful and make difficult moves look effortless. The speed with which they are on their feet again after a fall never ceases to amaze me.

A lot can be learned from the way they put a mistake behind them and continue as if nothing happened. This gives a powerful visual to the phrase, “Shake it off and carry on.”

The commentators gave me some new insight into this. When one of the complicated jumps results in a fall, it is not the disaster I would have assumed. Only one point is deducted. I saw a skater fall, redeem herself in the rest of her performance and end up near the top of the standings.

On the other hand, when a jump is a required element of a program and not attempted, zero points are awarded for this portion. It would have been more advantageous to fall than not to attempt the jump.

This is a good life lesson for me. I have often been unsure I could accomplish something so played it safe and not even tried. After all, if would be embarrassing to have people see me fall.

Unfortunately, this offers no hope for master anything new. I may have to fall and get back up many times before I’m successful. Instead of being concerned about what others think, I need to focus on doing my best.

The mental image of the figure skaters will help inspire me to go ahead and take a leap of faith.

 

4 Lessons I Learned From Sunflowers

God, inspiration, seeds, sunThe cheerful image of sunflowers adorns many items. I’ve always admired them from a distance but this year, for the first time, I had some growing in my yard.

While watching their progress I realized they had a few important lessons to teach me.

Lesson one was to keep on growing. Although fall was closing in and the nighttime temperatures were dipping to the freezing mark, these flowers kept on growing. They taught me that I don’t have to have ideal conditions to grow. Personal growth is achievable in all seasons of my life.

The second lesson was to keep my head high. No matter what happens, it’s important to keep looking up. Even though I make mistakes, God can redeem them. I can’t be used by him if I’m standing in despair with my head hung in shame. It’s God’s plan and not my own that I need to trust in.

The next lesson was to spread seeds of happiness. I’ve learned that one sunflower can have up to 2,000 seeds. The black seeds make oil and the striped ones are for snacking. This taught me that I don’t have to be the same as everyone else in order to spread seeds of happiness. I can do this through words of support and encouragement, through acts of service, a smile or a hug. The positive effects get passed on and the results can be far reaching.

Lesson four was to focus on the sunny side. Sunflowers turn their heads to face the sun. Helen Keller said “Keep your face to the sun and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do.” I like that thought. For me it means to keep my eyes on the Lord and let his light shine on me. When I find myself temporarily in the shadows, I have faith that he will lead me through them and into the sun once again.

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26 NIV)