Today has been busy as I've tried to navigate techie stuff, avoid getting swindled and other things outside my comfort zone.
Day 14 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days leads me right back here to Captivated. Sigh!
Today has been busy as I've tried to navigate techie stuff, avoid getting swindled and other things outside my comfort zone.
Day 14 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days leads me right back here to Captivated. Sigh!
There are big surprises wrapped up in joy, because carrying a joyful heart means you've chosen to see things differently. You've chosen to see beyond the obvious into another realm. In fact, in my assessment, realms of glory couldn't be incased in anything other that the Father's joy.
Joy then is a kind of portal that awakens the hallowed within, allowing us to laugh when the world's dark prognosis is pronounced, because of a supernatural interpretation of God's unending goodness. Some might think this is foolishness, but I rather think of it as other worldly.
It takes no special skill to be fearful, but being at peace and carrying joy takes a sight and perspective adjustment. It takes a faith that is divine rather than human. Our greatest defense is joy! But this is quite different that the insincere, inauthentic saccharin off-loading behavior Brenè Brown calls, The Umbridge. This nice southern, church going behavior, also exhibited in cultures other than the south, is often deflecting a greater truth. Brown writes about this behavior in, Rising Strong.
"It's present when light and dark are not integrated at all. There's almost something foreboding about overly sweet and accommodating ways. All that niceness feels inauthentic and a little like a ticking bomb." Brown named The Umbridge after the J.K. Rowling character Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix who wears sweet pink suits, cutesy pillbox hats and tortures children. Brown tells us that those that claim to never feel angry or upset, and are always positive, are often masking true pain and hurt. These are red flags.
It's taken me a darn long time to recognize that their is always more beyond the words that might appear lovely, but whose behavior defies it. There is always more beyond the obvious. Getting curious about our real emotion is where we reckon with it, rather than off-loading it. This is where we give ourselves permission to feel, get curious about what we are feeling and be uncomfortable with it until we see what it wants us to know.
A few years ago I awoke to the New Year hearing the word, Incongruent in my spirit. The next two years that followed introduced wave after wave of discovery, unearthing "good girl" behavior that greatly conflicted with what I knew to be true for myself. As if I was a bystander watching my behavior for the first time, I was astounded at the things I found myself doing and participating in that my heart was protesting against, but the disconnect and off-loading of emotion had allowed me to continually betray myself.
After the initial heartbreak of realizing how much I had dishonored my own wellbeing in rote, approval seeking behavior (definite joy robber) I began to experience absolute joy and bliss at the awakening and freedom of choosing how I would best care for myself.
Last night as I launched a new Rising StrongTM Group, as a certified facilitator of Brenè Brown's work, amazing women shared about present hardships and rough realities in their lives. I was struck by the fact that they had courageously chosen to show up, be seen and learn new ways of speaking about their emotions and pain, so that instead of coping they could learn to truly care for themselves. We each wrote permission slips that helped us begin the journey of defining for ourselves what we needed to feel safe and successful in the group and practicing wholeheartedness to move beyond the swampy ground known as the Delta to rise strong.
It's only when we get curious about our inner world, own our pain and darkness that we can truly and authentically experience joy. Joy is not something we put on, but a deep living reality available when we choose to be courageous. The more we honestly acknowledge the truth about where we are and get curious in the discovery, we can return to joy.
There is much discovery hidden beyond the obvious. While many coaches focus on goal setting, every goal winds its way back to a deeper inner reality. Every disappointment, expectation, relationship difficulty, and career launch, though often seeming to be outer issues, interesting leads its way back to how we handle life and the illusive stuff beyond the obvious.
Day 7 of 30 Paintings In 30 Days is entitled: Beyond the Obvious. To follow daily posts by artist around the world visit
www.3opaintingsin30days.weebly.com . And come back for this months daily posts right here!
Everyday, I come alive a little more to things I didn’t even know I already possessed. Its sad to think of mankind living below the level of what is intended and available to us. Some won’t wake up until they’re breathing their last breath and then so blinded by the light of eternal love, they’ll begin to see as if for the first time. My Day 5 painting in the 30 Paintings In 30 Days series reflects the joy of seeing things as if for the first time. It is entitled: Robust Joy. You can follow all of the amazing artwork here www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
Walter Lanyon, one of my favorite authors, writes in the Laughter of God,
“I was a child with a small measure at the seaside, trying to carry off a little water when the whole sea was at my disposal, and I understood for the first time the exhaustless sea of substance about me, and that the idea of hoarding was but a childish feat grown into a Goliath by false teaching and beliefs. I suddenly became aware that the substance was everywhere, in everything, out of everything, and the only place of lack was in the hypnotic state of belief—and I alone created and moved in this vacuum.
And the glorious laughter rolled on, searching the very joints and marrow of me—dislodging every belief in fear, sickness, or age. And as it swept over me and through me and round about me, I was amazed with the wonder of it—the fierce, terrible thing which was at the same time so beautiful and free. The wonder of it kept singing through my soul as veil of belief was rent asunder and new kingdoms stood revealed. And the whole thing was as if one just saw a little deeper, as one looks through the surface reflection on a river and sees the pebbles and shells below, that was all; only the Laughter made this possible, for it cleared away all the effort and straining which in its attempt to see God had been halted at the reflection on the surface, instead of gasping into the limpid, glorious depth of Infinity…The glorious Divine ease with which it was expressed made dis-ease impossible.”
What joy and freedom to live in this continual union with Love and Joy. There is no substitute or distraction that is worthy of dislodging this ease. And so it is with this effortless grace that one enters by mere recognition, not labor. What a gift, being so wrapped up in love before we even recognized it.
This little bit of early morning inspiration had me talking to myself about joy during my drive time, in none other than a lovely British Prime Minister-esque accent. The way I used to talk to my dolls about life, all lined up on my bed. We are the perfect captive audience all by ourselves. We should be sure to speak words of life and that encourage and certainly make us laugh!
Today I was thinking about the joy overflowing in my heart that has come on the heals of a particularly hard year with the loss of my mom and other things. As I was skipping along in my thoughts I actually saw myself rise up as if I had wings. There has been a ton of gold composted out of some pretty shitty rough patches this year.
This morning when a young woman texted me asking me how she could overcome her heartbreak, I thought to myself, about the hard leaning in I'd done this past year and other years too. How I gave myself utter permission to feel my pain and not stow it, but also intentional processed my emotions to deliberately focus on joy daily.
That hasn't always been as easy as it might seem particularly when my hormones crashed and my adrenals hit bottom. Every afternoon like clockwork I would experience a huge dip as the bottom fell out and I wondered how in the heck I had been so cheery earlier in the day. I soon started a natural protocol to begin the work of rebuilding my adrenals and routing out my depression, but I also positively counteracted my melancholy with militant gratefulness and proactive joy.
Some people might think I am merely a Pollyanna. Truth be told I am, but I have been in the trenches long enough to know that I can choose to nurse despair or whatever reality I'd rather have.
I have found that when you are determined to look on the bright side of things you are pretty sure to bump into them. No, that doesn't mean that everything always turns out rosy, but it does mean that joy and happiness are not circumstantial, but an inside job. I know that reality to be true. When I choose to find joy amidst difficulty it always amazes me how quickly I get a platter full served up.
For instance, before Christmas I had a sinus infection that kept me down for over two weeks. My sweet husband put on one sappy Hallmark Christmas special after another to help me feel better. One silly selection in particular had me crying in my medicinal tea! As if a search light had been turned on suddenly I recognized some resentment I had been toting and due to the plot of the movie my heart immediately became softened and I was supremely grateful for the individual I had previously resented.
The tears quickly turned into laughter when I realized how ridiculous the who scenario was. Now if thats not funny, I don't know what is? God can use anything and any circumstance to rearrange our perspective, emotions and joy level. We just have to participate with the opportunity when it comes along and better yet create it through a willing, grateful heart. Who wouldn't choose joy over resentment, criticism and anxiety any day? The ticket it to be intentional about practicing it. It is a muscle that needs regular exercise and thankfully there is always something to be grateful for and joyful about.
You may be wondering what in the heck this has to do with today's painting? Art has to do with seeing and perspective. My life is a creative canvas that can't be compartmentalized. The reality of who I am all comes out in my work and in my play. I am a spiritual, intuitive human being and that is the only way I know how to roll, being. :)
Check out day 4 of the all the artist participating in 30 Paintings In 30 Days www.30paintingsin30days.weebly.com
Years ago I intuitively began to understand that for my extraverted personality type it was necessary to proactively plan and schedule fun in my calendar. Being the type of person that can easily focus on work, spending a great deal of time alone, (focus is one of my top five strengths) and finally looking up for from my easel, computer, or a client coaching session, to realize I’d gone long periods of time without social interaction and was feeling blue.
Instead of merely revering hard work, I recognized that in truly caring for my wellbeing, I was in fact responsible for planning fun and connection with others instead of hoping it would just roll in. I was responsible for fostering joy in my life.
I began to value this necessary nutrient, as if it were my vitamins. I began to understand that because of a need and value for connection, the way I conducted business needed to be relational too, or I was betraying my core values. It was then that I actually began to make changes in the way I thought about and conducted business. Thus, a long history of the groups I’ve started, facilitated, hosted or participated in!
Brown tells us, “The absence of love, belonging, and connection always leads to suffering.” The absence of these basic needs are prevalent in our society, manifesting through a kind of scarcity mentality that keeps one isolated, disengaged, shut down due to shame, and comparison. All of which lead to sadness and suffering. Awareness is the first step in making necessary changes for ones wellbeing.
Sometimes I’ve been more intentional than others about my need for fun and connection, but two years ago when I began training in Brenè Brown’s work I was delighted to discover Brown’s definition of Wholehearted Living, “Whole hearted living is about engaging in our lives from a place of worthiness.”
The interesting thing is that worthiness doesn’t just happen. Brown tells us that it must be cultivated. Hence, based on her research the ten Guidepost for Wholehearted Living defines what she calls a practice. Putting in place practice helps us, remember and reawaken to the innate worth and value already bestowed on every human life. Most of us could use that sort of awakening, which can't help but release joy into our being and joy is said to be the signature of a grounded life.
The two Guideposts that are very meaningful to me as an extravert and an artist and where I see many clients needing self-permission are: Cultivating Play and Rest: Letting go of exhaustion as a Status Symbol and Productivity as Self-Worth and Cultivating Creativity: Letting go of Comparison.
Our society esteems productivity as a banner of worth, yet worth is intrinsic and can’t be won by performance or production. Creativity is also intrinsic and yet as soon as one compares oneself to another the creative flow is thwarted.
In her latest bestseller, Rising Strong, Brown tells us that those who are able to rise strong amidst their struggles are the ones who have “developed practices that enable them to hold onto the belief that they are worthy of love, belonging, and even joy.” Practicing wholehearted living means, honoring ones needs, establishing boundaries to maintain them, and caring for ones wellbeing.
If you think that your productivity is a sign of your worth, your ability to push yourself to the limit, ignore your deep need for connection and belonging, you might be living from a place of scarcity, rather than wholehearted living. Take a moment to consider the ten Guideposts below.
What practices (not perfection) might you need to put in place for wholehearted living?
When I heard the question being posed in my spirit, “What does the 2016 model look like?” Those that know me well know that I have a love for banged up old vintage pickup trucks. Some girls dream of new vehicles, yet for years I’ve dreamt of old pickup trucks that show the wear of time to match my eclectic high heel and blue jeans, city streets and country dirt roads life. Needless to say, I was intrigued having never been the type to keep up with the annual trend in vehicles.
I love to eclectically blend the old with the new. I always have. Maybe it began in high school with my preference of vintage coats or my family’s creative bent and love for beautiful décor and design, but suddenly this bent seemed to be highlighting volumes to me.
The New Model
I knew hearing a question like that was for my benefit more than God seeking an answer to a question He already fully understood. I also knew it wasn’t an invitation to move into striving mode, to draw up a five year action plan for my “make it happen” personality type. If I’ve learned anything through this long season of transition, it's been sitting with the question and responding with, “YOU tell me, what does the 2016 model of Kimber look like?” and then inquiring together around the truest version of this year’s vehicle, usually a blend of some of the old original material and new design. That also means taking notice when my heart is resonating at its highest points.
As I've inquired and we’ve chatted, bit-by-bit, a spark of understanding has begun to light. As I’ve been willing to listen and learn to flow with the river, rather than force it, I’ve learned to let go of ill-fitting forms of transportation. I’ve become better equipped with a way of transportation initiated by spirit and inside out living, rather than self-will and ego. And even though my vehicle has been parked in storage for a time, I’ve sensed the engines being fired again and the gas to fuel the vehicle growing in power that is not self-made.
World Wide Delivery
This conversation began even prior to this question when my attention had been directed to the messages on passing trucks. As if there was a flashing light leading me, I was astounded to read, “God transportation,” “Fire Protection, safe guarding lives and property,” “United Parcel Service, world wide delivery, pickups, synthesizing the world..." As the conversation continued, I noticed a theme around parceling out packages.
And then the funniest thing began to happen, every time I ventured out in the morning, often at varying hours, I would see a parade of UPS trucks. The first morning there were four and the next time five and the most recent parade included twelve trucks!
I became giddy with anticipation around awareness of the abundance of gifts that have been parceled out and are ready for worldwide distribution. And like every child awaiting Christmas the excitement has been growing around the resurgence of seemingly dead dreams, dreams that have been set aside, buried and forgotten. There are an abundance of gifts and packages in route for delivery and those that thought they'd missed it, but have given themselves to a season of rest, listening and receiving, instead of striving, are about to receive new directives that might just include a little bit of the old dream, too!
The wait has felt long, but it has been a needful time of preparation. Now it’s time to allow the dust of disappointment to be blown away and to embrace the hope of what is to come as delivery has been set in motion. Even when the world seems hopeless and overshadowed with darkness there have been good gifts stored up within you! Vehicles (you and me) are being prepped and fueled for the road with a promise of delivery parceled out for the benefit of others.
This is a time to be on the look out for the true-new vehicle that you are in this season, the one that has been made road worthy and laden with gifts for delivery! This is a time for the hope carries to arise with their packages of joy!
Cashing in one of a series of birthday massages I laid happily under the hands of a skilled massage therapist, evident by the fine tweaking of stress carrying muscles and the release of tears that rolled down my cheeks. I often have spiritual experiences during massages and this one was no different, as butterflies appeared to flutter joyfully around the room. I felt free and alive and then suddenly an almost twenty year-old memory came flittering in.
It was another vacationers day of paradise except in our world. My cousin Jeffrey flew in with out stretched wings to rescue my children from the little beach bungalow in Santa Bell we inhabited until we discovered Bill’s excruciating headaches and garbled speech were a result of a brain tumor.
Like an angel of mercy, Jeffrey arrived in the middle of the night with tickets in hand to herd my four young children on a plane back to Memphis to my aunt’s house. Meanwhile, I struggled to manhandle our luggage and position my frail husband and myself on an airplane to Boston. We would then go on to Massachusetts General Hospital and begin to navigate the last five-weeks of our lives together, ending on that Good Friday when I said goodbye.
It was not sadness that accompanied this memory, but a breathtaking sense of awe around my cousin’s and aunt’s generosity that streaked my cheeks. Somewhere in the hours before Jeffery’s arrival, while struggling to stay in tact, family was orchestrating magic behind the scenes. My difficulty with asking for help had been superseded without even a request during my greatest weakness and need. This kindness was profoundly breathtaking even as I walked back down the corridor of jagged memories.
The butterflies continued to release newness with every wing brush, inciting questions and the ability to view my life from above. Who would I be if I had been able to receive these gifts of grace and not caved under my early conditioning and later church culture?
What if I hadn’t been afraid to receive that brand new car my granddaddy wanted to buy me when I was sixteen instead of insisting on the used one? What if I had been courageously unapologetic, settled into being completely loved so that I could have received every gift with wild excitement and open hands?
What if the girl that wrote edgy poetry and listened to Patti Smith, who wore wigs in comedic plays and sang in rock bands and musical comedy improve troops had not been dumbed down or, pushed in? What if I had always known that the giver wanted to give much more than I could contain and so I swallowed hard to gulp down every drop, instead of politely folding my hands to the appropriate?
Who would that girl be if her Good Friday world recognized the collision of every resurrection permission? I somehow doubt so well behaved and tentative in gulping.
These questions circled about me before landing deep within. And with every winged swoop I felt the waters rushing in and the waves rushing out with the grandest baptism of hope and release to soar along with those butterflies.
The joyful acknowledgment of complete acceptance frees us to never cower in the face of those happily grounded in their cocoons. Untamed hearts are free to gulp and fly.
Wow, here we are at Day 30! As a artist-life coach, I recognize the vivid correlation and creative tension between seasons that demonstrate life’s constant cycle of transition. Seasons allow for metamorphosis, design and recreating of our world. Understanding seasons is to understand a way of seeing, or sight into new realms. Seasons illustrate consistent change.
Continual transitions in life can take place from an inner spiritual reality before the move into an outer expression, but more often intermingles between both the spiritual and practical. Yet how often we try to divide life up into outer verses inner, sacred verses secular, practical verses ethereal when there seem to always be two paths intertwining and coursing through our lives. These are the paths of the sensual world of image, color, texture, movement and sound and the mystical path that lead us beyond words into a world we grasp to understand.
During times of change and transition it often feels to be counter-cultural as we mystically recognize the need to incubate, allowing our roots to sink down into the soil as our seeds winter over. The problem comes when we are pushed by driving counterfeit rhythms to keep up and so we resist the natural cycle life takes by forcing productivity and definition of that which is not ready to be defined.
A seed won’t bear fruit before its time and isn’t even distinguishable from another seed while under ground, yet it is still in the greatest process of growth amidst hiddenness. It is from the place of reconciling with our season that we align ourselves with the creation process.
J. Phillip Newell wrote in The Book of Creation, “Creativity without rest, and productivity without renewal, leads to an exhaustion of our inner resources.”
We are all artist invited to dance and create with the natural rhythms of life as in the hours of growth hidden in the womb before birth. How well do we nourish our creative and mystical selves through the spaciousness of unforced rhythms? How well do we allow for “being” rather than “doing”, for sitting in the darkness of the womb seasons so that we may learn a new way of seeing necessary to thrive?
It is from this cycle we learn to delight in discovery, rest in unknowing, and are released to be recreated in the shadows that ultimately give way to the light of possibility. This is where we learn to live and breathe in every breath allowed us, fully embracing the moment.
Art has always been a way of seeing, a place of rest and exhilarating action, while discovering answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. Art is the process of acceptance and allowance of any given season. While marinating on the full reality of love in the present, I am nurtured and guided into the wild of who I truly am.
Again, the wonderful 30 Days of Creative Expression this year have brought about new discovery and awareness, inviting me to dive in further into the joy of being me.
This time has left me unencumbered from “working to better something” and again free to dive into the question of what does it look like to live from the overflow of being, rather doing?
This theme began in 2012 when with a strong sense that I was to spend the year creating art and art only.
The word I got for that year of transition was "Hopeliciousness." Now I move forward on the wings of that hope into 2015 with the word, "Believe." I move forward creating with more joy and a deeper reality of a love overflow. The natural expression of this for me is releasing art from "being." Art is like a song that can't help but declare and can't help but be released. I'd love for you to follow along for the journey and share your take aways too!
This morning I was thinking about the times I’ve been parched, but wouldn’t draw near to a water supply (wouldn’t get up off my *** to go the kitchen, turn on the faucet and drink!)
It’s said, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. It’s a sad reality to be in the middle of an oasis, but not see it. It’s a sad reality to be gifted another day to live and be in such despair that it’s whittled away.
What might be the difference between those that have so little and yet live with full abandon and ecstasy and those that just can’t quite grasp their goodness portion?
I’ve had seasons were I remained in drought, because of my blindness and hard heartedness. I’ve had seasons where joy escaped my grasp, as I camped out in the mindset of lack. And then it happened! I began to recall the goodness I’ve experienced, the joy and elation from seasons past and joy couldn’t help but over take me. Then I started to build on that joy in every moment looking for pieces of beauty, whether in the garbage heap or the morning sunrise. It's there and if you look for it you will find it in every circumstance.
What might be keeping you from your oasis?
I’m a shaker. I'm the kind of gal that resists being squashed or diminished by the crowded in places where broad strokes narrow with every swipe. In fact, you might see me shaking or screaming from time to time as I exit stage right. Those crowded in places of lack of allowance threaten my ability to sing, so to avoid being defined by impotent labels that homogenize and villainize, I shake it off.
I get how easy it is to work to pull yourself up into something, having been a savvy striver and rule keeper myself, that is until I discovered the magnificence of grace. Now days, I’m learning to give myself a wide berth, a big open space, should I stumble upon the watchdogs, the “shoulders” and load heapers staking out my freedom. I’m learning to shake it off.
Like Taylor Swift, “I keep crusing, can’t stop, won’t stop grooving. It’s like I got this music in my mind saying, ‘it’s gonna be alright’…cause the haters gonna hate, hate, hate” and the rule keepers are gonna keep measuring and the finger-pointers gonna keep telling me how to live. The fakers gonna fake, fake, fake, but I’m just gonna shake it off! The fear mongers gonna fear and the judgers gonna judge, but I’m gonna splash in the wide open seas of grace, grace, grace.
Does this mean I’ve abandoned what I’ve previously believed? No, it means that I’ve found the grace filled reality of all I believe, which is infinitely more liberating. The incitement of squabbles and mental gymnastics only expresses the actual juxtaposition of law and grace. And who wants to hangout with the rule keepers anyway? Jesus didn’t!
It’s not my job or anyone else’s to police or solve the world’s problems. That’s a burden no human was intended to carry. I’m leaving it to the Expert.
Instead, I’m lapping up the invitation to live in the mysteries, uncover and cherish the indefinable, inexhaustible, infallible kaleidoscope of love. That’s enough to feed on for eternity.
On the high seas of grace and love you won’t be preoccupied with the things that force feed fear and shackle freedom, because you’ll just shake, shake, shake, it off.
“You don’t have to have it all figured out. Just let me love you” were the tender words that took me out of my head and into the joy of divine romance. Why do we struggle so to figure it out, instead of living in the midst of love’s sweetness? Why do we think we need to define love’s mystery, instead of enjoying it?
When I fell in love with Mark, I didn’t try to figure it out, defining what every day would look like for the rest of our lives. I simply dove in, head first and let him love me. Falling in love is the best thing and the most utterly out of control thing.
We can always find a reason to argue against the sensibility of love. We can refuse to trust it. But I’d rather be swept up in love’s intoxication in every moment, instead of winning an argument that keeps me stuck in my head.
“Argue for your limitations and sure enough, they are yours.” Richard Bach, Illusions
I really don’t like it when people of faith shove their faith like a bitter cold slap in the face of others. I don’t like it when rather than love; there seems a need to prove something or to win an argument. When faith is expressed in mere words, instead of through love in action I find the reality incongruent and lacking.
That’s probably why I don’t generally push my faith outwardly onto others. I’ve been stung by religious pontificating as much as the rest of the world. I’ve disliked the faith community’s elitism that harmed my family and often continues to be threated by our lack of interest in rule keeping and many things that fly in the face of everything about Christ and the Trinity’s love for mankind.
And yet how do I live from a place that is authentic to me, my faith reality, my often struggle with this community and my love for the world in or out of my faith inclination? That has been the dilemma for sometime and so in 2015 I hope to embrace more love for myself in this space and for others who are willing to stand with open hands declaring that they do not know it all, or have the corner on the market. In my book, relationship is paramount (yes messy and imperfect) but without it I am not interested in any gymnastics that may seem spiritual but lacks the reality of love. Activities without relationship are usually counterfeit, or lacking depth at the very least.
The fact still remains that some thirty years ago I had a life encountering, rearranging divine appointment that took me from a suicidal mess, overcome by bulimia and uncontrollable binging, to being instantly healed of a six-year eating disorder that controlled and almost stole my life. Its one of those encounters that really can’t be explained and most certainly can never be stolen, because I know the impact of this divine intervention in my life. I also know the reality of the continuous daily divine intervention I receive, not to mention after being a 36-year-old widow with four small beautiful children carried through the difficult transition with love and grace. And then after seven years of single parenting miraculous being given a brave man to love my children and me when at the time it seemed like an impossibility, because most men ran for their lives.
I know the miraculously reality of coming through many a devastation with a settled sense of worth and identity and more love and joy than I could have ever anticipated. And I know that the joy in my life is no longer contingent on my successes, my circumstances, others opinion of me, or anything other than God’s faith and outrageous love that carries me and is alive within me. This bountiful love is still constantly being demonstrated toward mankind.
Having had such experiences has altered the way I live and see life. It's the reason I experience life as a joyous celebration. So as I look to 2015 from a place of belief, and a joyful and exuberant creative welcome to the new, I'd say its time to step into the abundance of freedom! Today's art journaling image above is not new, but I felt it calling to me, reminding me of the freedom and joy available to us should we choose to recognize it. Day 3 unspeakable joy is on my mind. What does unspeakable joy (even in hard times) mean to you?
So today for Day 2 of my creative journaling (somedays more play than art) 30 Days of Creative Expression exercise, I just can’t stop thinking about this too good to be true news, this ridiculously lavish grace that grants such outrageous entitlement that flies in the face of finger wagging, bemoaning of entitlement! It’s such good news we really don’t know how to receive it. We collect our add ons and our “buts”, because we fear being like those in this generation that we judge (walking in their annoying entitlement) as we spout, “Who do they think they are?”
But what if this generation with all its quirks (like the rest of us) is actually a blazing billboard, a burning bush pointing to the truth of this complete, grace-given life of Christ running through us? What if this generation was a trumpet declaring our very own entitlement! Are you thinking: heresy?
This grace gift is certainly not because we deserve it, but more likely because most of those that are broadcasting the good news have taken all of the good out of it and so this generation with its flamboyant finger grasping demands is actually a better broadcaster of this ridiculous free gift of grace!
What if we were to reconcile with the Life that has reconciled with us and let it fill our lungs completely. You didn’t think you had any part in acquiring your breath did you? What if we expanded the entitlement we’ve downplayed and let it open up more and more into the recesses of our being with its glorious goodness filling grace?
To have a change of thinking we have to completely disconnect from the old belief even when we don’t fully understand the exchange. We have to stand with open hands of faith willing to receive something better (rather than defend our blind spot) even when we can’t begin to comprehend how the exchange is possible!
We have to be willing to say, “I don’t understand this too good to be true gift of grace, but with every fiber of my being I say, Yes!” I will stop the rule keeping and miserly watching with tit for tat eyes, doling it out to those defined as worthy and instead jump in full depth, lap it up in every corner and splash around in this audacious tidal wave of love grace.
You can be an older brother keeping guard if you want to (I’ve been you and that’s why I’ve had to steer clear of you so I could instead float in the exuberant waters of refreshment!) Yes, that’s right, I’d rather drown in the intoxicating joy of this unequal exchange, this preposterous grace that I am somehow entitled to than hangout with the unbelieving righteous towing the line for the rest of the world. Honestly, it makes me gag!
Today I am joyfully reflecting on this over the top gift, this basking in the presence of love’s overflow, not off in the rafters of holiness, but alive within me. What glorious beautiful news! What do you think about this grace?
Once again I've chosen to start the New Year with open hands, not agendas, but the ease of grace rather than forceful self-will. It feels natural to start each day with a creative exercise or intuitive play, as an extension and expression of the creative Life within, as a process and experience, rather than a goal to be completed.
Each day this month, I will start the day with the idea of effortless, joyful connection, rather than reaching outside of myself for an encounter. I merely experience the Life indwelling within, singing onto the page or through the materials I choose.
This first day of 2015 expresses the creative journey of Believe (in the image above) that I sense evolving this year. This is a natural unfolding that comes easily as I choose to walk in the unforced rhythm of grace.
If you too want to resist the zealous thrust of self-will and move easily and organically into the New Year, you might also choose to spend the next days listening, creating or journaling what arises within you. Let this be the beginning of your road map for this glorious year of possibilities ahead.
Let it ring in with newness and color and joyful ease, instead of frenetic, forced striving.
Should you choose to engage in this fun creative expression let if evolve in your own way and by all means please share your new inspiration and creations as you go.
Wishing you the ease of grace and the overflow of love in your journey. Happy 2015!
It's easy to look around and think something outside ourselves is the cause of our struggle or issues in life. I certainly have and still do at times. But when we begin to recognize our outer struggles are related to an inside perspective, things begin to shift.
We might think our lack of income, provision, health, or relational issues are the cause of what’s stopping us. We might be tempted to measure our reality by our surroundings, not recognizing that reality is not a fixed dimension, but an interpretation.
Hopefully our awareness and paradigms will continually expand and we will out grow the limitations we’ve previously perceived. (I continue to discover thoughts and perceptions that I didn’t know I had and regularly make the choice to reframe the way I see life and I hope you do to.)
It’s when our thinking is entrenched (actually stuck in a groove) that we’ve chained ourselves to an idea that becomes a law that rules over us. A belief only has power to master us if we believe it is the law, or authoritative rule. When we move out of a legal relationship to it, we immediately open ourselves up to experience a profound shift.
Suppose we recognize an area where we're stuck and even identify the thought or emotion that has been hindering us, how do we get unchained? Do we strain and try harder to think differently? No, trying harder actually tightens the grip of the negative or old way of seeing things.
When we stop focusing on the negative the negative stops being attached to us. When we open ourselves up to other possibilities we actually release ourselves from the entrenched thought or way of seeing and effortlessly begin to experience an exchange. When we release something there is actually a shift in our brain that allows us to perceive an alternative perspective.
Something only remains attached to us when instead of living in the expansiveness of love and the openness of liberty; we are living from the fear driven reality of a legal exchange. What do I mean by this? Notice the way doubt driven thinking measures things out in tit for tat, such as, “If do this, I am owed this” or “If I am not enough of this, this will be the result.” We all have some legal, punishment driven perspectives that hinder us until we awaken to a greater reality, beyond payment for a good performance and punishment for a perceived inadequate performance.
Many people never live beyond a legal, law, head relationship to life, as they process the world linearly, even reducing God to a rule keeper that keeps us disempowered and our hands tied, rather than owning the bad rap we may have attached to God instead live in the expansiveness, liberty and freedom intended for us. This is a big one!
A clue to recognize this perspective within yourself is to notice when you feel shame, “shoulding,” “not-enoughing,” feelings of powerlessness and victimization or internal or external judgment. These are signs that a legal perspective is hiding somewhere. (I just exchanged a legal perspective that was disempowering me for a dandy upgrade in my perspective this week!) When we get out of our head and move beyond dividing things up from a perceived knowledge of "good and evil" and awaken to true liberty, transformation takes place.
Living under the "law" is the same as willpower. It only works for a while, but can't carry you very far for the long haul. Fitness experts understand that lasting change requires a change and expansion in thinking and lifestyle. Self-help and trying harder will never lead to true transformation. Transformation happens on an entirely different plane. Even grasping this concept on a cognitive level doesn’t bring about transformation.
Transformation happens as we experience an exchange from a legal entity lens into the law of perfect liberty, which transcends intellect. This is the realm of love and faith, a reality beyond time and space or quantifiable dimensions.
It’s easy to focus on the negative because it's the lowest form of reality, but living in the negative (place of lack) and seeing the negative keeps us bound to the letter of the law rather than to life and liberty, which in my faith belief is Christ within me.
Science informs us that we can actually see the exchange take place in the brain from negativity to possibility. When we are thinking negative, low level thoughts our brain looks like a scorched, barren tree. Conversely, when we are thinking expansive thoughts of love, joy, and peace, our brain looks like a flourishing, fruitful tree.
When we choose faith, love and hope we let go of linear, control-base thinking and move into wide-open spaciousness, beyond limitation. Are you living in the freedom of perfect liberty or merely living under the law? Want help getting unchained? If something resonates in your spirit, but you're struggling to process the words through the wall of entrenched thoughts and ideas, take a risk, take a leap into freedom and get support!
What if all of you, every part of us is sacred, everything we do? What if we are the container and can’t divide up our coming or going, our cooking or hiking into sacred and secular, because the life within us is complete, worthy of awe and gratitude, as beholding in a mirror the image of perfection?
When we live from a place of perfect approval according to God’s complete knowledge of us (and the extent to which He went to prove it), we are set on the path of liberty. It’s only when we fall for or stay entrained to the tempting idea of “I am not” that was initiated ages ago, telling us that we are somehow far below who we truly are that we get seduced and held hostage.
Francois Du Toit says, “And so we have exchanged God’s perfect approval of us, based on his perfect knowledge of us, for our imperfect knowledge of ourselves and of one another…”
This seductive alternative perspective is one where we have to work to prove ourselves as if we could master our own being separated from our original Source. And it is this very idea of separation that keeps us striving to try harder and to please.
Honestly, sometimes I forget that I’ve left the speakers of the “I am not-tree-system” that Francois Du Toit coined, turned up. When I interpret life through deficiency, instead of through the Tree of Life lens of I am perfect, fully graced, loved, secured and accepted, I disempower myself and knock myself out of the race.
It’s this “not-enough” lens that burns with a feeling of alienation, shame, inferiority, and being set aside that trips-me-up every time I engage it’s taunts. It tricks me in two ways.
1. In thinking I need to work my way into favor that allures me to grasp for control, and the need to quantify and systemize everything. It’s this outdated vantage point that whispers secret ego enticements to get me to dance, and hustle and pull the skirt over my head to earn my keep; usually without recognizing I am even doing it.
2. Sometimes it throws me out of the game, or I throw myself out of the game when I believe I am separated and flawed.
Paradoxically, it is this very sting of rubbing me raw incongruence rubbing that causes me to harken to the truer sound, the beckoning whisper of Love that runs through every crevice of my being, awakening me to the truth and challenging the counterfeit with questions instead of answers.
For who can predict the day of their birth, or cause their heart to pulse beat after beat with unstoppable life? Who can separate themselves from the womb?
It’s this Love that initiates and celebrates what taunts of “not-enough” only swallow up and confine. It’s this Love that expands realms of possibility and discovery beyond my knowing, taking me on a honeymoon romp beyond time and limits.
When my mind has me detained by search light wardens and detention guards, I know that I have fallen for the “I am not” reality instead of my spotless design. It’s only arrogance on the lowest of level that causes one to calculate and measure insider and outsider, sacred and secular in others or myself.
What if love is the only reality that never ceases to breath, create, morph, and give life, while transcending all dimensions? What if our measuring the world up into our tiny reality isn’t even in the ballpark of what reality truly is?
Do you feel boxed in, because you keep putting yourself under the dead-end system of the law? Are you eating the rotten fruit from the “I am not enough” tree and want to eat from the wide-open spaciousness of the Tree of Life?
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FAITH IS EXPECTANCY!
If we're dragging, coping, running or trying not to get our hopes up we're not in faith. Maybe we don't have enough faith after all. Maybe we're working so hard to be the hero when the real Hero is waiting to come forth in us.
It's amazing that God bound himself to mankind through love. We've been given the gift of grace. In fact, it's an offense to ignore the extravagance of this Hero-love by striving to make it on our own.
Instead we have an amazing invitation to pull up to the power source, rest in effortless trust and soak in divine love and grace!
Isn't it time we got out of our head, gave up muscle flexing and merely opened up to receive the supernatural life of The Hero stirring within?
UNLEASH THE HERO WITHIN!
UNLEASH THE HERO WITHIN!M
Unfortunately many of the lessons I’ve learned in life have come through hitting smack bottom on the rough edges of life. I imagine the city planning committee of Smackass Georgia must have had a similar revelation. No lie, it’s a real town! I’ve been there.
Recently an old friend made a comment that I should be a bitter women due to the losses I’ve experienced. I thought about it for a second, acknowledging that because of the grace of God, love and gratitude seem to have been the better choice, a choice resulting in a full and beautiful life.
Believe me it is daily choice to let the effects of life experiences mold us for the better, rather than letting bitterness and unforgiveness take us out at the knees. We all have the same challenge and opportunity, to release and let go, or savor and stew on difficulty.
I’ve found difficulty, although undesirable, the greatest teacher. Sometimes to know the value of something you have to experience the converse. I hope to never let a mistake or difficulty be wasted, so here’s a little Friday gratitude that I hope will encourage you.
Smackass Gift and Gratitude List
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Today I drew Lance Secretan’s Joy SPIRIT@WORK® CARD, again.
Mary Poppins told us that “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down” and in the same way joy is the spice that seasons life.
My art journaling piece says, "Everyone dreams of flying, but only those joyfully given to the flight ever do."
Joy isn’t merely arrived at by joyful circumstances, but rather by the way we view the world. Some people view the world as a party and turn ever circumstance into an opportunity overflowing with joy. I am drawn to those types like a moth to a fire, because their joyful wind always fuels my flame.
It’s not always easy to feel joyful when life’s got you down, but we can never forget that joy comes from the inside out and not the other way around. A grateful heart is a joyful heart. There is always something to be grateful for; therefore, we need not look far for joy to erupt within our being.
How do you nurture joy in your heart and life?
Today I chose the FREEDOM Spirit@Work® Card by Lance Secretan fitting perfectly with the fact that this morning I awoke with the most glorious sense of being alive.
Often we chase down the notion of freedom as an outside force that might come tomorrow, or next week, or next month. We think if we get more freedom to do what we want, make our own choices, get free from the constants, the strains and demands of life, the atrocities, the injustices and the pain surrounding us, we’d suddenly be free. Yet, we’ve all experienced the “getting” of something or another and that is not what made us free.
But what if instead of reducing freedom to an ideal out there somewhere, we experienced it in our being right now? What if freedom wasn’t about removing the bars that constrain us, or swallowing the happy pill and being elevated to nirvana, what if freedom was already ours and we’ve overlooked it?
What if freedom is waking up and knowing that you have the same 24 hours as everyone else and that you get to breathe it in and carry this breathing-life with you throughout your day? What if you’re at the zoo, or at work, or in prison, or in the hospital holding a loved ones hand for the last moments and you savor every bit of the joy and pain, recognizing that you have the freedom to experience it within your beating, feeling heart? You are alive!
I don’t mean to say that there aren’t injustices that need to be righted, excruciating atrocities that need to be ended, and personal pain aching to be healed, but what if in this moment you couldn’t change the world, but you could hear the birds twill, you could feel your own pulse and you could know that nothing was keeping you from being as free as you choose to be right now.
Your circumstances might be hindering you. You’re bank account might not give you permission to do what ever you want, but you and I can recognize the God-breath that makes us free and we can sink in and savor every last drop of sweetness or pain that we feel.
Today I choose to recognize this freedom as I feel the gift of my beating heart. Will you join me?