Sunday, June 27, 2010

What to do when you life vision falls flat Part 2

I don't know what it is, but the moon gives clarity for the soul. My post from yesterday was unfinished and no matter how many times the thing was tweaked, it still wasn't coming together (: So I thought I'd let it sit for a day and come back. A walk in the moonlight and encouragement from lovely friends who left comments helped to bring things together. I asked a couple of questions..."Ever have your life planned out only for things to take a totally different direction? Did you have a vision of how things would unfold and now life is not playing nice with the dream?"

Actually, I'm in the middle of this wonderful dichotomy...yes, I said wonderful even though this past week hasn't felt so wonderful. The vision for my life was to go to college, find my soulmate, graduate, get married, find a great job, buy a cute cottage, have kids and face the challenges of life as a family. Well, that hasn't happened.

At the time I was okay with it because the focus was taking care of Grandmother. But when you turn 40, begin to evaluate things and see everyone else moving on while you're still at the starting gate, the sadness can be overwhelming...especially when it comes to having children. It's even harder when siblings and cousins begin to breach that realm and you watch as their families grow. Don't get me wrong. The opportunities have been there, but each time God said, "No, not yet. Wait." {Sigh}

Now almost half way through my one year challenge, those feelings have come back with a vengeance. "Why God? Why am I still waiting? Why am I having to take the long path while everyone else around me seems to have the life of which I've always dreamed? You do realize, God, that if I wait much longer the possibility of having children dwindles." (: But just as He has asked in the past, "Be happy for the blessings of others and celebrate their joys even in the midst of your own pain. Your time will come soon enough." {BIG Sigh}

So, what's the plan here? To be honest...I have no idea. God is an out-of-the-box kinda guy and on the surface things may not make sense, but He's guiding my every step. This may sound odd, but through all the mourning over a life of unexpected twists and turns, I'm more confident and content than ever before. During this time my faith has grown by leaps and bounds. God has drawn me closer to Him, allowed the healing of old wounds and opened new doors that were never thought possible.

You see, when we let go of our vision and open ourselves to God's vision, a design greater than we could ever imagine will come forth. We might have lost a loved one, a marriage might have crumbled, the scholarship for school might not have come through, the baby we were expecting might have been lost, the cancer that was once gone might have back or maybe the job we've had for 15 years is no longer is full of things that throw us for a loop and make us question the meaning of it all. There will be times of questioning and frustration.

I've been there this week, but I've asked for a life bigger than my hands could design...the life that God has always wanted for me. With that comes a lot of work on my part plus the willingness to let go of the old vision of yesterday.

I've accepted the long, narrow path and can see where I'm headed, I just don't like where I am at the moment. It's the dreaded "in-betweens." That place that feels like perpetual limbo when we've left the old life behind and we're half way to the new. We can see the possibilities, hopes and dreams taking shape right on the horizon, but the journey through this leg of the path is not yet finished and there's still more climbing to do.

So, if you find yourself in the in-betweens here are some tips that have helped me:

  1. Spend time in prayer each day. Meditate and connect with the One who is working on your behalf behind the scenes.

  2. Love yourself. Okay, I know this one sounds corny, but you have to appreciate the beauty of you! You are in the world for a purpose and it wouldn't be the same without you! Honor yourself by nurturing the lovely person you are. It will allow you, in turn, to love others more deeply.

  3. Focus on the blessings you've already encountered. What is going right in your life? Make a list and review it each day.

  4. Reach out to help others. There's nothing better for the soul than helping those in need.

  5. Gather a circle of close friends. Share your heart with those who love and care about you. On those days when you feel weak, they can be of great counsel and support.

  6. Memorize scripture that is specific to your situation. Quote it as you go about your day. You'll be surprised by the energy and lift it gives.

  7. Do something fun. It doesn't matter what it is, just do something that makes you smile. The sillier the better (:

  8. Just let go. You need to embrace the sadness that you might be experiencing, but don't let it overpower your spirit. Take the time you need to grieve (it's different for everyone) and then move forward. Let go of how things used to be and look towards the possibilities.

  9. Set goals. Set some short and long term goals that keep you moving forward. It could be one thing a week or maybe even one thing a month. Just do something.

  10. Practice forgiveness. To live in a world filled with people means to live with the possibility that you will be hurt. By forgiving those that hurt us, it opens the heart to love. Forgiving doesn't mean that what has happened is okay and it doesn't minimize or justify the wrong, it just means that we allow healing to come into the mix which brings a peace that can help us move forward.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

What to do when your life vision falls flat

Ever have your life planned out only for things to take a totally different direction? Did you have a vision of how things would unfold and now life is not playing nice with the dream?

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Flea Market Has Come to Town

Well, today I had an interesting experience. Reba (on the right) has lived here for about 11 years and Malone (on the left) for 6. That entire time we've never had a flea or tick issue...that is, until today.

I'm very particular about keeping the pups tidy since they're indoor guys and used to be very diligent about rubbing them down with a lavender wipe whenever they would go outside. Fleas hate lavender and this simple wipe down keeps the pups clean and eliminates the worry of bringing critters in the house that don't belong (: I guess I should have continued that little habit.

The one thing my furry low-riders miss is a good roll in the grass. I know, I know. It's their way of leaving an "imprint" to announce their presence to the world, but I'd rather keep them clean. Isn't that selfish!

Well, a few days ago I had a lapse in judgement. I knew better, especially since I've been lax on the lavender wipes, but Miss Reba was so wanting to roll around in the dirt and for some reason those pouty little eyes got the best of me. When she started to dig I let her go to town! Her tiny wiener body whirled from side to side and those petite dachshund legs were reaching for the sun...she was a sight! Malone wasn't quite sure what to think (:

After Reba's romp, I dusted her off and we headed inside. She immediately was given a brush down (should have used the lavender wipes instead of a brush!!) and we went about the rest of our day. Fast forward a few days....I started noticing my sweet girl itching. Just once in a while, mind you, but scratching of any kind is very rare for her. I didn't think much about it and continued working until I saw this one lone flea right in the middle of her white blanket!

Oh no...I hope this is just ONE hobo flea that hopped a ride on the wiener express from our last walk and not a family moving in for the summer. And the search was on! I checked her fur and sure enough there were more! Fleas!! What in the world!! And into the tub she went...bless her heart (:

Thank goodness there was a great shampoo on hand! After her bath I added water and a few drops of lavender and tea tree essential oils in a spray bottle to create a carpet spray. The perfect thing to apply after each run of the vacuum. I washed and dried their pet beds and placed dried lavender bud sachets inside to ward off any fleas that might want to take up future residence (: Being proactive it essential!

So, lesson more grass rolling for these little ones and I'll be using those wipes again!! If you find yourself hosting a flea market in your home, give natural methods a try. Here are some steps to help get rid of those unwanted little guests should they make an appearance:

**The use of essential oils is only for dogs. Essential oils are dangerous for cats and should never be used with them**

1. Find a good natural flea shampoo with lavender or tea tree and wash your dog on a regular basis...I prefer at least once a week.

2. A flea comb is essential when you are in attack mode. The extra fine teeth will trap the fleas and lift them out of your pet's coat. Dip the comb in hot soapy water after each stroke to kill the fleas and rinse with cool, clean water.

3. Mix 10 drops of lavender essential oil in 8 oz. of water to make a spray that can be used on carpets, pet beds or any area where your furry ones visit often.

4. Vacuum and clean the floors regularly especially where your dog sleeps to kill any unseen developing fleas. Remember to do areas like under beds, around base boards and window sills.

5. Wash your dog bed in hot, soapy water and then dry on high heat. Adding 10 drops of eucalyptus or lavender oil to the wash will act as natural flea repellent.

6. Steam cleaning the carpets is about the best thing you can do because the heat kills the eggs that might be lurking. I do this once a week because I'm a little bit of a clean carpet freak (:

Good luck!

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers and Daughters

This will be my second Father's Day without Dad. He died quite unexpectedly, but the healing he offered our family will last a lifetime. You see, we didn't have the best relationship. Like many fathers, the scars from his past created a wounded spirit that prevented him from connecting with his family. As a result, he struggled with depression for most of his life.

Dad could be very hard, emotionally abusive at times and the depression he faced brought an all-consuming darkness that could strike at any moment without warning. No one knew the kind of chaos we experienced because Dad's best was always given to those outside of our home. It wasn't intentional, he just had nothing left to offer by the end of the day.

As a little girl I so badly wanted the acceptance of my father. This challenging relationship shaped the view of myself, the kind of man to which I was attracted and brought an insecurity that I sometimes still battle today. There were moments when distance was needed because Dad could consume every moment if allowed, but Mom and Grandmother always encouraged us to have an open place in our hearts for him.

I'm so glad I did. After much work on my own heart, I was able to look past the pain of all those years to see the good things he offered. He was a creative spirit, humble, loved to serve those in need, offered excellence in his work, enjoyed reading and the arts, made you laugh with his dry sense of humor, loved to build things, had a heart for the elderly, was a Biblical scholar, found solace in nature, could let out a chuckle that would bring an instant smile to anyone's face (: and he loved his grandchildren with his whole heart. Once I focused on all of the beautiful things, the negative faded away and the healing began.

In my 30's Dad and I were able to get to know each other all over again. We had long talks about the past, his history, our family and he was open like never before. I felt safe to share my life with him again and our journey was set in motion. The change was wonderful! He encouraged my entrepreneurial efforts, continually told me how proud he was of me and reached out to get to know my world. We lived a state away so phone calls were shared everyday...sometimes even watched TV shows together. We would call when a favorite was on and experienced the show together over the phone wires (:

During the last months of his life the openness and thankfulness was amazing. I'll never forget the day he called me his angel...the power in that simple statement was more than I even realized. It was as if the gravity of those words smothered all the anger, hurt and sadness from the years before. I finally had the father my heart had longed for all these years.

And so now when I think of Dad, I remember the love he shared, the blessings he gave and the healing he offered. My life will never be the same. So if the relationship with your father isn't what you needed or even wanted, there is hope. Never give up because things can change. Just open your heart, reach out in love and let God intervene. He can heal the places you thought were closed off forever.

This doesn't always mean the relationship is restored because not every father is able to make that step...sometimes you stand alone with your heart in God's hands and have faith that He can take the ashes of what was lost and make you whole again.

"And He shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children and the heart of the children to their fathers." Malachi 4:6

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Art of Gracious Living

Recently I read the most wonderful post about being gracious over at Muthering Heights. It was written by Myra from My Blessed Life and she listed several characteristics that encompass gracious living to her.

It got me to I gracious? Sometimes, but many times...not so much. As a younger child I never said anything, never expressed my opinion and just went along with the crowd, except on those occasions when an underdog needed defending. That warrior spirit of protecting the vulnerable was there even at a young age. Fighting for myself, on the other hand, was a different story.

Then in my teens and 20's a more opinionated Michele came to the surface. For so many years I didn't have the confidence to express my thoughts or ideas, but when I got started...whew! Watch out!!

In my 30's I learned there was a time to say something and a time to listen, but that warrior state of defending the defenseless still got the better of me. Now that 40 has hit I can see the art in the balance. It's not my job to fight all the battles of an unjust world. There are times to speak and times to listen, but most of all life is just about waiting on God's cue to step into the task He has for you. To do otherwise is foolish.

So in the meantime I'm learning to embrace the keys of gracious living...Nourish your spirit, love the unlovely, offer friendship and hospitality each day, pursue your dreams, do everything with your whole heart, let men be chivalrous, let children be children and encourage others with a smile and kind word no matter how you're being treated.

My Grandmother showed this graciousness. This woman of honor and gentility expressed love at every opportunity. Many times she stood alone and was mistreated greatly, but she never had a negative or unkind word to say about anyone. She simply embraced their good qualities, appreciated what they brought to the table and offered love.

When we reach out with graciousness it puts others at ease and allows them to be themselves. We aren't perfect and there are days when each of us can be a raving lunatic, but graciousness gives the gift of perspective. Maybe someone in your life is having a hard time and their best behavior isn't quite coming out at the moment (: Offering graciousness instead of judgement brings love in the mix and healing to boot!

So give it a shot and see how the art of gracious living can impact your world. Then come back and share some of the ways it made a difference. I'd love hear your thoughts (:

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Ever Tried Johnnycakes?

Yesterday was "clean out the pantry and fridge" day. That lovely time when the odds and ends left over from other creations are used to make interesting concoctions (: A stocked kitchen keeps things prepared for any occasion, but lately my lack of grocery store shopping has created a buy-as-you-go situation.

And so it was time for lunch, but nothing really floated my boat. Do you ever have those times when nothing sounds good? So as I glanced over the last few items, flaxseed meal, cornmeal and honey butter jumped out. I could make Johnnycakes!

These old fashion golden little discs of crunchy goodness cause my heart to flutter. We didn't eat them in our home, but my Grandmother would make them from time to time. She would tell stories of moments shared with Granddaddy in the kitchen as he taught her to make Johnnycakes and really, everything else.

See...Grandmother had no idea how to cook. Granddaddy was the genius in the kitchen and he taught Grandmother everything she knew. We've always been a very nontraditional family and I was having a nontraditional day, so Johnnycakes seemed to be the perfect choice for lunch!

They're gluten-free and are the ideal substitute when a pancake craving hits (: It's a simple recipe...

  • 3 cups of boiling water
  • 2 cups of cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup flaxseed meal
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Bring water to a boil and add ingredients. Remove from heat and stir until everything is mixed. Let it sit for about 30 minutes until the cornmeal is slightly firm.

Scoop out a large spoonful, roll it into a ball and then pat flat and place in a greased pan. I use coconut oil or butter. Cook on medium high until each side is crispy. The cornmeal was cooked during the boiling process so you're just wanting to fry the patties long enough for the crispiness to come forth (: The time will vary depending upon patty size.

Once done, plate them up, spread on the honey butter and top with frozen wild blueberries. You wouldn't think so, but the flavor combination of the cornmeal, flaxseeds and blueberries is AWESOME!! If you're not into berries and honey butter, then just drizzle on maple syrup and you're good to go!

There are so many things you can do with Johnnycakes. For a savory side, top them with chicken or tuna salad. In the mood for something spicy? Pile on a hot salsa and chili with raw cheese! Yum (: They would even make great mini pizza crusts in a pinch!

Making Johnnycakes with your children is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen because the cornmeal has a playdough-like consistency. Let your little ones roll the meal into balls and smash them into patties. I've found when the kids are part of the action, they'll eat whatever they make...even veggies!!

So try on some Johnnycakes for size and see how you like them. I'd love hear what you think (:

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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A Love Affair with Slipcovers

I can't imagine ever purchasing a sofa that doesn't come slipcover equipped (: Just the thought of jelly covered hands or furry little paws near a surface that can't be thrown in the washing machine makes my heart skip a beat!

Years ago when it was time to get a new sofa, the only possible choice was the classic Vintage Vogue series by Ballard Designs. This is one of their most popular lines and should be around for a while. The neat thing is that if new covers are ever needed, there are no worries about finding the right size.

A friend of mine asked why in the world I wanted a white sofa and ottoman. "Isn't it hard keeping everyone off so things stay tidy?" Kids and pups are forever in our living room and getting comfy is mandatory (: White or off-white slipcovers are the easiest to keep clean. Just a little bleach or peroxide in the wash and they look brand spankin' new!

IKEA offers a very affordable option with several colors and styles. I think even Wal-Mart and Target sell slipcovered sofas and chairs. Easy on the eyes and on the budget!

Not only do slipcovers help to keep things clean and fresh, but they offer a simple way to modify your design and with just a small investment. Change your mood? Change your slipcover! Have one set for Fall/Winter and another color for Spring/Summer.

My favorite thing is to have a neutral space with pops of color. If your walls are a rich neutral tone, the simple act of switching out curtains, pillows, rugs, accessories or slipcovers can totally transform the space with little effort or money. Keep you eyes out for great finds at yard sales, The Salvation Army, bargain bins and those seasonal change-outs can cost even less!

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sometimes It's Just About Staying the Course

It's been a while since a weekly update has been posted and the thought of amending that little decision is being considered. Each post is actually an update in itself and a weekly summary seems redundant. This year is about learning and experiencing things in a new way and sometimes that means changing the game plan (: The idea was to post the exciting things that were taking place each week so I could see my progress, but some weeks aren't so exciting.

A new journey can be filled with peaks and valleys, twists and turns, but sometimes the path can just be straight and narrow. You can see your next destination straight ahead, but it's a long stretch of path and there's LOTS of hard work along the way.

The last several weeks have been a little crazy. I was accepted as a contributing columnist to Blissfully Domestic, I'm preparing for the She Speaks Conference, making plans to revamp this blog, decided to take my diaper cake shop Simply Baby Cakes back online, and will reopen Natural esSCENTials in the next few weeks. Whew!

So much of the hard work done in previous months is now taking shape, but all at the same time! I know where I'm headed, but just trying to make sure the blessings aren't missed because of the busyness. One of the saving graces has been organization. My studio is finally coming together and it's been wonderful to have a place solely for work. That way the door can be closed when a much needed break is in order.

I was hoping to splash fresh new paint on the walls first, but will reserve that project for another day. Getting worksurfaces and whiteboards in place helped to move other projects along faster and painting would have slowed things down (: I'll take some photos and post the studio makeover updates this week.

So, if you find yourself on the straight and narrow path of your journey, just be thankful you know where you're headed. The work may be hard, the distance may be long and tiring, but it's better than being lost in the woods (:

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Tomato Plants and Peppers

Well, the growing of veggies is underway and I wanted to share some of the progress of my little patio garden.

There are lots of smaller green peppers on their way, but this one is the largest so far.

These are the cherry tomatoes!! I can't wait for them to start turning red!!! Have you ever smelled a tomato plant? I can't describe the scent, but it reminds me of summer. Each time they're watered it brings me back to my childhood (:

I'm using dowels left over from a project to stake the vines. It's working for now, but I'll need to go hiking in the woods to collect some longer branches as the plants grow taller

So many more new tomatoes growing, growing, growing!! Each cluster has at least 11 tomatoes and it will be exciting to see how much will be harvested when all is said and done.

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