Latest

The subscription widget

Well… I’ve actually kept this blogging thing up for over 5 weeks now. This might actually become a “thing”. That being said, I don’t consider myself a ‘serious’ blogger – I’m not researching how to develop my blog or get more traffic or anything like that. I’ve basically just written down my thoughts. But I found out some bloggers have subscription lists – I was talking with a fellow blogger, Lani over at All This Crazy Grace, a few weeks ago and she said she doesn’t really follow blogs unless she’s subscribed to them. That way she gets an email whenever there is a new post on the blog she’s following. Hmm…

After a bit of digging around my blogging software, I found the subscription widget and installed it on the front page of my blog today. So there you go, Lani, you can subscribe to my blog. And if any of you other folks (who I don’t know are actually reading this blog) want to ‘subscribe’ to my blog, you can go to my home page and at the top right you can enter your email address, click ‘subscribe’ and all my new posts will be emailed to you.

On another note, I follow a number of blogs as well but I don’t subscribe to them. I use a RSS feed instead. It would be similar to a subscription except new posts from all the blogs I follow show up all together in one app or on a website. I use the feedly.com app on my phone (but you can use it on your computer as well). It’s fairly user friendly. You need to create an account and once you’re logged in you can choose “Add Content” and use that to search the blogs you want to follow by title, url or topic. Once the blog is added to your ‘feed’, you’ll see new posts showing up on the main window with the titles in bold.

So there you go – ways to follow me and ways to follow blogs on the internet. Have a nice day.

subscription widget

 

I must kill the editor

I’m going to be speaking at my church for the Sunday morning sermon two weeks from now. I’ve been working on what I’m going to talk about and it is taking a really long time. The problem (and I didn’t realize this until I was talking about it with my husband) is that I’m trying to write it like a blog post – carefully crafting my words, rewording things, going over it again and again until it is perfect…

This is my modus operandi. I learned this when I was a child – to carefully choose my words and work very hard to ensure I am clearly understood. This, however, is not helpful when composing something to say for half an hour.

There is so much I want to say and I don’t know how to “get it out” and my internal editor is having a field day. I’ve had a sudden revelation.

My internal editor must die!

(if only for a little while)

I must kill the editor and just write. Anne Lamott calls it the “sh*tty first draft”. She also mentions how perfectionism (which I suffer from) keeps you from getting to that first draft.

(sigh)

Okay…I’ve got to get this thing done. I’m going to blurt out my thoughts onto the page – I can clean it up later.

…I feel like I’m climbing Mount Everest…

…maybe a glass of wine will help…

 

Behind it all

I devoted last month to talking about the things I’ve learned about shame and vulnerability and grace. I mentioned the impact of actually experiencing grace and love and belonging but I didn’t go into detail about it. When I wrote about my experience, there was always something in the back of my mind, a fact always present, but I didn’t realize that I hadn’t articulated it. It has had the greatest influence in my experience towards knowing grace and love and belonging.

It’s my husband.

Without him, I wouldn’t know half of what I do about grace, love, acceptance. It has been Leighton’s constant grace for me particularly when I dive into self-berating that helps me believe that it’s okay for me NOT to beat myself up. I am learning to have grace for myself as I experience grace from him. For me, a large part of the “beating myself up” tactic is a learned protective measure – if I blame and beat myself up first (before someone else has a chance to) it won’t be as painful. Which, of course, is not actually true. Damage is done, it’s just at my own hands and not at someone else’s. As I live with Leighton (it’s been over 10 years now) and he doesn’t berate me when I mess up, I’m slowly unlearning this really unhealthy pattern.

While no one’s love is perfect, my husband’s love for me is unconditional. He has always maintained that he loves me and he affirms that particularly when there is tension between us. Leighton understands me and knows I will immediately go to the dark place of self-hatred and believe that he must hate me, too. He makes a point of telling me that isn’t true. In addition, he gives me daily affirmation – telling me that he loves me, that he believes in me, that everything will be okay… I need to hear these things over and over again. It helps override my internal tapes that tell me that I’m not lovable, that I’m a screw-up, that everything is all my fault.

I didn’t experience unconditional love when I was growing up – it felt to me as if there were always strings attached, that I needed to be perfect to be loved. In experiencing unconditional love, I am learning more about what God’s love is really like. He has much grace for us – but I wouldn’t really know that unless I experienced it with other human beings. The reason I know this to be true is that the opposite is true – if we experience the opposite of unconditional love, if we don’t experience acceptance and grace, particularly from the people we are in closest relationships to, we grow up living in a tremendous amount of shame. And when we’re living in shame, we don’t understand grace.

So my husband has been a significant influence behind it all. My journey would look very different without him. We are shaped by the people in our lives and I am a better person for my relationship with Leighton. I have learned so much and am incredibly thankful that I get to experience this life with him.

IMG_9422

“Never Gonna Let You Down” – Colbie Caillat

This song has been encouraging me for the last while.

Trying out new technology

My husband is an IT person (he has his own IT business). And this means he is constantly researching new technology. He loves technology. I, on the other hand, am typically suspicious of new technology.

“Do I REALLY need this iPod Touch?” “Why do I need a SmartPhone?”

The history of our (IT) relationship has been one of my husband dragging me along towards new technology and innovation. He basically has to buy it for me and once I start using it, I absolutely love it! So I’m not “against” technology – I’m just not going to be the first one to go out and get the newest thing.

My husband has been fairly successful with his approach of putting the technology in my hands and me realizing I love it. Currently, I own a very large smartphone (I call it a Phablet – tablet and phone rolled into one). It’s a Samsung Galaxy Note 4 (with a 5.7″ display). My reasoning was that I couldn’t justify owning a tablet and a phone when I would use them for the exact same things (other than making phone calls).

I use my phone for everything. Now that I’m writing so much I thought I’d try blogging from my phone (I have the WordPress blogging app). But typing on a phone keyboard (even a big phone) isn’t very convenient.

So tonight I grabbed my husband’s compact bluetooth keyboard, paired it up with my phone and typed up this post. It works pretty slick!

I do like it when technology enhances my life (which is the case most of the time, I just don’t realize it until I actually try it – which takes some coaxing).

image

Brené Brown on Blame

I always giggle to myself when I watch this video. Enjoy!

The temptation to numb

I woke up this morning feeling the weight of the world. Actually it felt like I was drowning in manure. I was feeling very intensely a lot of dark, despairing emotions. And my thoughts jumped right on that bandwagon. I was not in a good place.

There have been a number of things churning up for me in the last while: the passing of my mother, processing memories and emotions from my past, family dynamics, outside circumstances. It makes for a pretty overwhelming mix of emotions at times. I understand this is a process and it’s going to take time. I believe I will be more healed and whole on the other side of this. And…I need to allow myself to feel what I’m feeling, as painful and excruciating as that may be.

And yet…and yet…

When I feel those intense, dark emotions, there is such a temptation to numb. There’s a part of me crying out, “I don’t want to FEEL!!!” I certainly felt that temptation this morning. The temptation to distract myself, to eat or drink something to make me feel better, to mindlessly read Facebook, to not think. I understand why so many people in our society turn to all manner of activities (some more destructive than others) to numb the pain in their lives – TV, video gaming, shopping, eating disorders, addictions. The emotional pain we experience is very real.

How do we learn to sit in our pain? Not to wallow in it, but to acknowledge it’s presence and to not run from it.

Being in community helps. My husband continues to encourage me and speak of hope and truth even when I can’t see it (or feel it). My children offer love and hugs and acceptance. Friends express care and concern…

I had coffee with a friend this evening. Being able to talk with her about my pain and to be able to hear about hers helped. I know I am not alone. We are not in this alone.

We are not in this alone.

When we learn to carry each others’ burdens, to empathize with each other in our struggles – we learn that we are not alone. And it births hope within us. To not despair. To receive love. To experience connection and belonging. It is the beauty of the human experience.

IMG_9387

Courage

Brene Brown’s website COURAGEworks sends me an email every Monday with an inspirational quote. This was today’s quote:

image

It’s November!

It’s November 1. This photo sums up my state of being for today.

Momo-snoozing

It was really nice to do next-to-nothing all day.

Seeing and Being Seen

This is my last post for October’s 31 Days Writing Challenge. While I didn’t write every day I was able to get a lot of the thoughts that have been percolating in my brain out onto the page. And I still have more things I’d like to write so I think I’ll continue with November’s NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). This one is less restrictive in that I can post anything – it doesn’t have to follow a particular topic. So you’ll continue to see more of me.

~~~

On to my post for October 31…

Something was shared with me that beautifully speaks to connection and vulnerability. There is a common greeting among some tribes in South Africa; it would be equivalent to saying “hello” in English. The expression is Sawubona which literally means, “I see you”. A common response to this greeting is Sikhona which means, “I am here”. The order of the exchange is important as according to their tradition, until you see me, I do not exist. It’s as if, when you see me, you bring me into existence. It means we do not exist without each other and our existence holds little meaning if we are not seen.

This speaks to connection. We are wired to feel connected to others, to feel that we belong. How many times do we feel “unseen”, that people don’t see who we really are or that we have no voice? I know I’ve felt that lots. It is a horrible feeling and often tied to a sense of shame. Sometimes it wasn’t ‘safe’ to be seen so I learned to hide myself. Unfortunately, for me, it also meant I hid myself from me – I didn’t know who I really was (I’m still growing into that as I learn to take down my vulnerability armour from the past).

If you’re in an environment where the people you long to feel connected to are using their energies to keep their vulnerability armour in place, it means they have limited capacity to actually “see” you and you don’t feel ‘safe’ to be “seen”. So everyone stays walled up within themselves. It can be a vicious cycle.

Yet I believe there is hope for us. If we collectively learn to take down the vulnerability armour and intentionally allow ourselves to be seen and then to intentionally see others, we will significantly increase our sense of connection with each other. And that’s a good thing. It will take vulnerability – showing up and being seen always does. But the connection and empathy and love we will experience is absolutely worth it.

The alternative is disconnection and staying walled up in our fortresses, not letting anyone in and not letting ourselves out. It might promise the illusion of being ‘safe’ but in the long run it crushes our souls.

We need each other. We are shaped by each other. It is in our relationships that we experience love and belonging and connection and empathy. These are the things we need to walk through this world that is marred by struggle and pain. Without them, we are dying inside.

So I want to encourage all of us to intentionally take small steps to “show up and be seen”. To embrace vulnerability, even in small ‘baby-steps’ ways. To risk. And even though we will fall down sometimes, don’t be afraid to get back up again. Find those people who truly care about you, let them carry you through the hard stuff. But don’t shut yourself out from the world. Because we need you and the light that you bring and the Imago Dei that is represented in you. You are beautiful and you are loved and you are “seen”.

Grace and peace to you this day.

~~~

In the vein of “being seen”, I’m curious to “see” you and know who has been following me this month. If you could “like” my Facebook post link or add a comment here in the comments section, I would love that. Thanks!

IMG_5626