Transform #tinyhearts

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When I saw this heart, I immediately knew I would share something about the magical process of a becoming a butterfly. In searching, I found this poignant poem. The author wrote, “I wrote this for me…but it feels like it was meant for you too. If you know someone else who needs this, please pass it on.”  How generous! Please visit her blog Spirit Moves Dance or find her on Facebook.

Transformation

by Meg Goodmanson

It will not always feel good,
This growing.
This stretching beyond the boundaries of the known,
The comfortable.

It will not always feel safe,
This learning and relearning of your own abilities
This reexamining of beliefs
This pushing of envelopes
This breaking through enclosing walls.

You will shiver.

You will doubt.

You will want to run home.

Back behind walls of safety.

This walk to the edge will not
Feel good, safe, or comfortable,
But there is no faster way to learn.
There is no other way to grow.

So step out.
Leave your home base
Your comfort zone
Your cocoon

Acknowledge the fear and discomfort

But step out all the same.

With each step you take,
Your world expands
Your caterpillar mind will
Strain to comprehend the unbounded vastness of the sky.

Step out.

Step…step…step.

Unfurl your wings.

Fly.

 photo by Greg Markway

photo by Greg Markway

Embrace Change

I hadn’t done a craft project in months, thanks to my companion, chronic pain. But a project was SO calling me, it was worth the inevitable flare.

For Mother’s Day, Greg and Jesse gave me a mobile that you attach photos to. When I saw it, I immediately had an idea in my mind of what I wanted to do. (For some reason I didn’t want to simply attach photos to it.)  I ended up cutting an old Kelly Rae Roberts calendar into bird shapes. I had to do one bird, then stretch, take a break, and maybe an hour later do another bird. It was kind of frustrating because I don’t like having to break the flow. But I’m getting better at pacing myself – well most of the time. I don’t have to give up the things I love, but I do have to change the way I go about them. So this project took me several days, but I love how it turned out.

Another thing I hadn’t done lately is do a photo shoot with Greg. We took the mobile outside in our backyard and I gave him instructions that I wanted “lots of green twinkly things” in the background. The only issue is that we have new neighbors and they’re frequently outside. I feel kind of self-conscious doing all the weird photo things we do out there. The weekend they moved in I was throwing colored tissue paper in the air.

I also had him take a picture of me in my new glasses. I’m still trying to get used to the 51-year-old me. I think I look much better without glasses, but that’s not an option anymore. So here’s to embracing change, and trying to do it gracefully.

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Embrace Change

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Begin. Leap. Take Flight.

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and then she learned to hold joy in her heart

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feel your fears and act anyway

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Shine

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Gratitude

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Spring Beauty

There is no winter harsh enough to withhold the promise of spring.

-Karen Kaiser Clarke

While I typically dislike change, this quote reminds me that it is simply part of nature. No more, no less. Instead of fearing change, I can choose to take comfort in the knowledge that there really is a season for everything…and each new season brings its own special beauty. I remind myself that with change, there is the promise of something different. Sadness fades. Pain subsides. Hope creeps in.

Greg took these pictures today. The first few are of a flowering lilac bush in our backyard. The others are of a flowering plant my parents gave us for our 24th wedding anniversary, which was last Monday.  DSC_0001DSC_0002DSC_0008DSC_0014DSC_0016DSC_0018

New Thoughts for the New Year

There is so much good writing out there, and it seems like everyone was inspired to write at the end of the year. Here are some excerpts from some of the favorite posts I read.

Life Isn’t a Calendar, by Jenna McGuiggan, a writer, editor, and creativity coach. You can find her over at The Word Cellar.

The calendar days are tidy squares lined up in orderly rows, everything numbered to provide a false sense of linearity. It tricks us into thinking life is this way. Choose a word, set an intention, make a goal. Move forward, declare DSC_0044accomplishment. Make another list and tick it off step-by-step. But life is not a calendar or a list or a ladder you can climb rung-by-rung. Life is the ebb and flow of ocean tides, the sunlight and dappled shadow of forest paths, the contrast of white snow on evergreen boughs. Life is the overcast sky of winter that blurs the line between day and night, and the long June days when golden light seeps well into the night. Life is now. It’s the driveway that needs shoveling, the dishes that need washing. It’s the candles you light, the books you read, the tea you drink, the people you kiss. It’s the lists you make and the ones you forget. One step forward, two steps back, and three to the side for good measure.

In three days I’ll turn the page to another year, but I’ll know that this is just one way of keeping time. There are other ways to make sense of things, to pay attention to what matters.

The Art of Letting Go, by Lisa Lorden Myers, an author and fibromyalgia/chronic fatigue sufferer who works passionately to help others cope with chronic illness.

It’s funny how determination and will power can be so difficult to apply to the goal of doing less, instead of doing more.  We may know how to commit ourselves to goals and work to achieve them, but can we have similar determination to rest and to heal?  Can our will power be devoted to “letting go”?  Perhaps the New Year is a time to re-focus ourselves less on doing, and more onbeing.

Healing requires no resolutions—it requires only that we live each day the best way we know how, listening to our bodies, and nurturing our souls.

The Top Ten Resolutions Nobody Will Keep from Toni Bernard, author of How to Be Sick and Psychology Today blogger.

Every year I torture myself by making New Year’s Resolutions that I don’t keep. So, as a public service, in order to save you the trouble of letting yourself down yet again, I offer the Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions that Nobody Will Keep:

(she lists 10, so be sure and read the whole article, but my personal favorite is #9)

Number 9: I will maintain a positive attitude.

I learned from another Psychology Today writer that this is known in the therapeutic trade (of which I’m not a member) as “the tyranny of positive thinking.” Hurray! It’s okay not to always be positive. I think I’ll toss this resolution out straight away.

I had the privilege of interviewing Toni last year. You can read it here.

Rilke Always Says It Best, posted on Barbara Storey’s blog, Storeylines: One Person, Many Lives

And now let us believe in a long year that is given to us, new, untouched, full of things that have never been, full of work that has never been done, full of tasks, claims, and demands; and let us see that we learn to take it without letting fall too much of what it has to bestow upon those who demand of it necessary, serious and great things.

~Rainer Maria Rilke

I hope the first week of 2013 treated you well!

Subtle Shifts

Sometimes I wonder if I’m making any progress with this self-compassion project. This morning, though, I got confirmation from a tiny exchange with my husband that, YES, shifts are happening!

We were looking for something and I was getting frustrated with the piles of paper all over our house. I said to him, “my goal for this weekend is to get us semi-organized.” He ran over and hugged me. I thought to myself, “what is this about?” He said, almost ecstatically, “I’m so proud of you! You didn’t say the goal was to get totally organized.” I laughed and smiled. It’s true. I do tend to use the word “totally” too much. I want to get things done, and done perfectly. I don’t want any of this mess that seems to surround us. But getting totally organized hadn’t even crossed my mind. Semi-organized would be just fine.

In today’s culture where everything is “super-sized” or “epic”, it’s easy to miss the little things. But I’m realizing the little things matter–a lot. This weekend I’m going to look closer, and see if there are some other changes in myself I haven’t yet noticed.

What about you? Have you made any tiny changes that made a difference in your life?

Exposure and Adaptation

Enjoying the patio first thing in the morning

Glasses:  I have always thought I wanted glasses—it would be another fun fashion accessory. My friend, Amy, has always had the cutest glasses and looked so stylish. One of my previous secretaries bought frames on sale so that she was able to have several pairs of glasses to match various outfits (my fave–red frames with red shoes!) So when I went to my eye appointment this year and he said I actually needed glasses, I had a moment of euphoria. Yeah! What trendy frames would I select?

Yet the whole process has been weeks of frustration for me. Now that I needed glasses, I didn’t want them. I ended up not getting super trendy frames because at nearly $500, I needed a pair that would go with everything.  My vanity kicked in big time and I thought they made me look old. I also worried that my mostly silver jewelry didn’t go with the frames, and I couldn’t afford to go out and buy all new jewelry (although that would have been fun.)

Most of all, I have had problems adjusting to the progressive lens which were prescribed. I’ve been back to the eyeglass shop three times, and each time they’ve encouraged me to give it a while longer. I’ve talked obsessively to Greg about it. Where do I look? Why can’t I make this part come in focus? They make my nose hurt. I’m getting a headache. I can see the edges of the frames. The world simply looked weird, and I felt groundless.

I finally realized that I’m fighting too hard and I’m definitely not being self-compassionate. I wish it hadn’t taken me three weeks to figure this out 🙂 I’m expecting this to be easy and feeling like there’s something wrong with me for not adapting more quickly. The eye doctor told me it would take three weeks of wearing them nonstop (DO NOT TAKE THEM OFF, he said). I beat myself up and called myself “noncompliant” because I did not do as he said. I’d make it for several days wearing them all the time, get frustrated and take them off, only to start over the next day. The eyeglass shop people were very kind and told me I was not unusual. They’d heard all these complaints about progressive lenses many a time. Yet I still felt like there was something wrong with me.

I think I’ve forgotten just how complex the brain is, and how this is a really tricky thing I’m asking my brain and eyes to do. From now on, I will gently remind myself that change is hard for most people, not just me.  I’ll also remember that people adapt at different rates, and I will give myself the time I need.

Oh, and I don’t think I’ve every posted a picture of myself sans make-up. Talk about exposure! I’m working on the vanity thing.

Weather: You can’t be a Missourian and not talk about the weather. This is a screen shot of the temps we’ve had lately, and there’s no rain or relief in site. It’s strange, once it’s over 100 degrees,  you don’t really notice the difference. I’ve desperately been trying to keep my flowers alive. A few have bit the dust. I should’ve taken a picture of the dead ones to remind me that everything changes; everything dies; it’s just a matter of time. I’ve been giving the birds fresh water several times a day. We’ve created quite the oasis for our feathered friends. I’ve mostly been doing my bird watching through a window these days. I rearranged some furniture downstairs just so I’d have a special place to enjoy their antics. Sometimes there are four birds splashing in the birdbath at once. It makes me smile!

Hydrangeas from our yard and
my grandmother’s antique mirror

Photography: Now that I have glasses where I can see close up and far away, I’m going to try to learn photography. I actually had some decent photography and darkroom skills as a journalism major in college, but I have forgotten everything I used to know. Up until now, I’ve just bossed Greg around telling him what pictures I need for the blog—actually, the system has worked out pretty well! But I think it will be good for my brain to focus on learning something new. This picture took me about an hour, with Greg’s help.

The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.

         –Yousuf Karsh