Sunday, December 3, 2017

Hope - A Message of Christmas

Today marks the beginning of advent for Christians, a theme of Hope. I was reminded today how important that message is as it brings themes of patience, love, understanding, and faith. We were reminded by our leader this morning about the story of Zacharias (name meaning “Yahweh remembers”)  and Elisabeth (meaning “God's oath”), both characters in the introduction to the Christmas story and strong examples of this message. It is a story of light appearing in a dark circumstance as Zacharias and Elisabeth were seen as leaders without child, and that was seen, and sometimes still viewed by some, as being a punishment from God.  Late in life they were blessed, prayers answered as they had a child, John, who became a blessing to many people. The message of Christmas begins as a story of hope.

As a 42 year old mother of two teenage boys whose parents are divorced, I often feel my family is broken and look around to see so many teenagers from broken homes.  Divorced parents face a strong stigma often in society.  I never realized it until I was one. As I mentioned in a previous blog, my teenage sons decided last August to try moving back to live with their dad during the school year. Roles reversed three months ago.  Many don't understand how hard it is to let your teenagers go from being under your roof everyday, especially during the holiday season. Often these things happen, as it is what the child wants.  We have had a few rough spots this fall, and I am very much involved in their  life. This is what they feel will make them happy, and you just don't want your kids to run away. It was hard to let them go, I am often heartbroken.  Fears of my kids not turning in their homework, making good friends, getting a good nights rest, transition problems and so many more often plague me.  Yet, I meet so many former colleagues, friends from my youth, and others in their midlife going through similar circumstances. In fact, a dear friend yesterday reminded me that is what the lessons of the living in your 40's  is all about. Many of us have aging parents we must support, kids in blended families or divorced situations, and life becomes very real to many of us as we realize each day is a gift and things can change instantly. Lessons during the last five years encourage me to grow a strong faith. Suddenly, something happens and we realize that everyone goes through this change. The hope message for me this last week, is that my family is not  broken but only fractured. For the last 5 years, I have felt my family as being unrepairable but during the last few months, I realize this is not true. Fractures heal easily, as Billy Jack reminded me today.  Meeting strong women continue to remind me that we are Divine Warriors. We should hold our heads up and walk tall, as we were promised a message of hope. We walk with the light, in truth, and in victory as we are blessed. Believe in abundance, act in faith, and be free. We become what we think and if you are stuck in a pattern of thinking untruths (you are unloved, insignificant, unworthy, overly important, lack imagination, have an ego, etc.), know that you are good enough. Armor yourself in truth and gratitude and be liberated as you are loved, more than enough, and have such strong potential. Do what you love, be kind to others, good things will continue to come. We have so much to be grateful for.

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Taking it Easy to Connect to Authentic Self

During spring break of 2016,  I decided to go on a solo hiking trip to connect with myself in the Big Bend area. The experience was wonderful as I was able to meet new people, conquer a few fears, and mediate on both personal and professional goals. The experience helped me to begin to connect with my authentic self. At that time, I was in dissertation phase. For those who have not experienced dissertation, it involves a lot of pressure. The experience helped me take a break, which inspired me to persevere with data analysis and writing. I made a pact with myself to take it easy and go on a solo trip each year to  celebrate me.

Taking it Easy Can Bring Positive Change

Taking it easy is a struggle. Females of my generation were told that we could do anything and everything at the same time. I bought into this lie and forgot that we only have 24 hours in a day. How we choose to give of ourselves can really impact our health. In reality, we cannot be everything to everyone. Perfection is a myth. Really I have never taken it easy. In fact, the day I turned 16 I had a job and have held a job every day since. Working full time is something I pride myself in, but I did so while earning a bachelors, masters, and PhD., and fulfilling the duties of being a mother . I found myself struggling as a single parent and realized that my boys were really missing their dad and rural life. In fact, we were all miserable. I remember looking up last winter break and telling one of my dearest friends... "We are miserable here." I had completed the dissertation earlier in the fall, graduated right before winter break, and began thinking.. now what? I had time to take it easy and I began to realize that life changes were needed.

My sons, now teenagers with raging hormones, were connecting with me. A series of events led our family to make some serious changes. The boys decided that they really wanted to live with their dad and move back to where they have called home their entire life, their family farm.  At first I was adamantly against the idea. How could they betray me? However, I was reminded by a family counselor that this was common and that really it was about ME. Instead, it was centered on the idea of what made THEM happy. Through a semester of counseling and prayer, we were able to work together and come up with a very amicable solution. The boys would try living with their dad during the 2018 school year. As soon as I told them that I was not against the idea and proceeded with steps to work with their dad to make legal changes, a surprising shift in our communications occurred.  My sons and I actually began to improve communication. Also, their father and I began to treat each other with respect and we have developed a positive relationship with each other. This change also allowed me to make serious changes. I was now able to live anywhere, pursue my personal and career goals of becoming a professor and continuing STEM and makerspace initiatives. So, I have taken a position at Sul Ross University, in the Big Bend area, to teach in the College of Education. In addition, I am working with several schools and organizations on STEM and makerspace initiatives and plan to start a non-profit this coming year.

Taking it Easy Brings Creativity

During the summer of 2017, I looked up and realized that I had not had time to really take it easy. As I continued to improve professional practices, I was able to receive an opportunity to go on a solo trip to Arizona to celebrate 2017 solar eclipse. NASA provided additional funding to utilize my makerspace and STEM station approach with a Navajo school. A few weeks prior, I took on a position at Sul Ross University and decided push ideas I have had to a new level.  I decided to leave my K-12 position at a school district, and enter the realm of higher education and consulting.  This has provided me the opportunity to move, meet new people, and take it easier so that I can focus on becoming a better version of me. 

I have had a few days on my own now in Arizona and I feel renewed and inspired. Working with the Navajo is a true joy and continues to provide inspiration. As I hiked around the Grand Canyon this weekend and around the town of Winslow, Arizona, I was reminded of the importance of taking time to celebrate yourself. Doing so can really generate new ideas. It provides a time of reflection through writing. For me, this solo trip has been a strange time of contemplating where I am in my life, what I want for my future, and, naturally, travel. This morning I learned that the Eagles wrote the song, "Take it Easy" while visiting this area. I took this as a sign of inspiration and immediately felt the need to blog. 

As I grow older, I have learned to accept that liking solitude doesn't make me, or you, strange. Solitude gives us the space to hear our own thoughts, which can feel like a rarity in our busy, appointment-laden lives. For someone like me, solitude is how I recharge. Embrace who you are and you'll be happier for it.

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Learning To Let Go

Over the course of a year, I have had to come to terms with a few hard truths. I looked up, and myself and my phenomenal kids began entering a new stage.  Both sons,  now teenagers, have expressed missing their father to many, and we both so miss our family and friends in Erath County. I completed a PhD. and I now know that I have some very big research initiatives to pursue. The hard truth was evident; this isn't working. But then again, the last four years has been nothing but a series of events in which I have had to learn to let go.

Leaving a small town was extremely hard on us, and the pain of letting go was and is still very raw and real.  A hole in our heart is still a very BIG issue. My kids have only known life on a very large historical nursery located in the center of  Texas. We have had a few obstacles in our path and we were fortunate to have some new experiences. I am grateful to the people I met along the way. They helped us through a very hard time, and we are so much stronger due to their love, example, and guidance.

We are grateful to all of our new friends and experiences, which continue to shape us to become an improved global citizen.  We have had to develop social skills, skills that we didn't really have to acquire until these experiences. Growing up around Early, Texas and Stephenville, Texas in the 1980's offered a community in which had connections to my grandparents, family, and friends from birth. My sons have never had a next door neighbor within reach, a babysitter, outside of immediate family, until we had to leave the Stephenville area. They are fortunate to have a very special place, their dad's farm, a Stephenville and Texas historical landmark. Letting go was hard, but I gained a strong faith and trust in our Creator. I now know that I have great work to do that requires the ability to serve the less fortunate.

So, I knew in my heart this day would come. The day I let my sons' happiness overrule my need to be the "perfect" mom. They need their dad, and their ancestors worked hard to provide our boys the opportunity to live on the land they worked hard to secure. I love them so much and know our peace is more important the the need to win. I know someday they will look back and know why things happened as they did and that I was and continue to be their number one cheerleader.

I am letting go of the need to be perfect, of what other people think, and of taking things personally.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

The Advantages to Waiting....

This weekend we were challenged to consider the advantages of waiting. Often I find myself criticizing the youth of today and their need for "instant" gratification. However, I am so guilty of the same actions and of not taking time to wait. One of our pastors today was so accurate when he reminded us that we have a lot to learn from the art of waiting. We do live in a culture that lives "on demand", In fact, the great leaders of our world are often called to wait. I think of Nelson Mandela, who continued to choose to learn from his mistakes, sacrificed, and is a prime example to me on the art of waiting. Today we were given the example of Joseph, the great dreamer, forced to wait in prison for 12 years for a crime of which he was innocent, before becoming a leader and fulfilling his purpose in life. We were posed with the following question.

What is the opportunity cost to getting what we want, when we want it?

I have recently realized that I tend to run when confronted with the hard lessons in life. Anyone that knows me, knows I want to go. I want a solution, a fix, and for me it is hard to wait. It is very hard to let go of things I have loved, fought for, and I often struggle to keep the faith during times of doubt. During these times, I have been so tempted to go back, to go home, to return to the place that was not meant for me. During these times, I have found myself being tempted to fall into the self-doubt trap. Listening to naysayers and at times asking questions of why. The self-doubt trap presented by or pastor this morning is all too familiar. His questions really hit home because I so often am confronted with the same evil enemy. Maybe they are correct. Possibly I am not talented enough, humble, or perhaps my past is not good enough. But then God reminds me......

Wait, Be Still. The promise land is just around the corner. You are a child of the light. You are good enough, forgiven, humble and you are in training.

I have struggled a lot to make sense of why,  but now I know that I have a destiny and life purpose. Through these struggles I have learned strong faith and understand that I am not alone. Today I also know, that becoming a strong leader requires the ability to follow. That has been a hard lesson for me.

How do we wait?

  1. With Silence: We cannot hear unless we are silent. 
  2. With Vigilance: We must meditate daily.
  3. With Expectation: We must identify our purpose, live with the faith that it will happen, and expect great outcomes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

A New Year Brings New Joys

During 2016, I completed my PhD and checked off a huge career milestone. There are so many people I am grateful to, encouraging me to the finish line. I am sure I will blog more about this later this month.

I can now get my life back. Wait a minute.... Life has drastically changed. What will I do now? I now have time to actually take care of myself. Practicing unconditional love toward myself is very hard. It is hard for me to not look toward others for strength. However, this year I am committed to learning how to practice extreme self care, focusing attention to spiritual growth, health, and home. I want to create a healthier balanced life, a new start, and leverage resources to live a creative, joyful, peaceful and abundant life. To kick this off, I have entered a 5K on Saturday, thanks to the encouragement of a good friend. Other friends are helping me by suggesting recipes, possible fitness centers, books, and I even had someone suggest that I subscribe to Dawn Jackson Blatner's weekly blog, the creator of The Superfood Swap this morning. Our wealth is found in our health. My strength is found in my sacred place found in my home. So, I am going to redesign a space in my home to encourage this.

This year I am going to do things that are FUN and make me happy! I am going to schedule activities that I enjoy to foster joy.  I realize that this year will be a year of personal growth centered on being self aware, learning to listen to my instincts, and trusting myself. It is about enjoying the journey as one of our PhD cohort members would often say. I am finally starting to understand what he meant by that statement.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

How To Begin Loving Yourself

I am continuing to work on myself and considering life goals and progress over the last year. This last year, I have been reminded on the importance of learning to value yourself. It takes time to work on yourself. After two years of counseling and completing many life goals and accomplishments, I find that I sometimes still struggle and feel overwhelmed as a single parent. I have learned the importance of life purpose, focus, to not react, the importance of boundaries, and have identified behaviors that I deserve in relationships with other people. I made a list of personality traits in August and this has helped me keep myself in check. Many friends and family would say the following to me. Learn to love yourself. How do you do this? I still struggle at times but feel my family is making great gains.

  • Be positive and live a life of purpose. 
  • Give to others without people knowing. 
  • Faith in God will carry you through. You are a light and are protected. 
  • Take actions that do not create shame but honor your body and spirit.
  • Take responsibility of every part of your life.
  • Advocate for yourself. You are deserving.
  • Eliminate anyone who lowers you're energy, and do not be ashamed to do so.
When people treat you bad, stop trying to figure out why. Their actions are a reflection of themselves, not you. You cannot alter your behavior to prevent their abuse. Stop focusing externally. Learn to focus internally.  Remove yourself from negative energy and negative enviornments. When someone treats you wrong, ask yourself the following question. Would you treat this person the same way? If the answer is no, learn that they don't deserve a place in your life. Once we leave toxic environments and abusive relationships, we should not worry about what others think. Release the need to convince others of the truth. You don't have to defend yourself when you have integrity. Live your life and focus on the positives in your life. This question will help you set boundaries. Boundaries will help you learn to love yourself. 

Monday, October 3, 2016

To Thine Own Self Be True

Reminders on how we can be kinder to ourselves.

Responsibility Versus Blame: Responsibility is making a conscious choice on how you will respond to a situation or idea. How can you learn from this experience? What can you learn from this experience? Blame creates guilt, guilt creates punishment and punishment creates pain. Respond to yourself and life in a loving way.

Relax and Meditate: Relaxation is essential to the healing process. We can't heal if we are tense. Mediation and deep breathing helps to be centered. Tell yourself that you love you and all is well. Notice how much easier your body is. Do this several times a day. What is it you need to know today? You can consider this question during meditation. Meditation creates the space in which we can quiet down and listen to your inner self. Become connected to yourself, through meditation.

Affirmations: Praise yourself as much as you can daily. Tell yourself, I love you. What can you do today to make yourself happy? Begin to learn to trust yourself. You deserve a GREAT life and to be treated as the top priority.  Don't be unwilling to accept good. Questions to ask.

  • What do you feel you deserve?
  • What is it you want that you do not have?
  • Do you always have to earn in order to deserve? 
  • Do you feel you deserve?
  • What belief is in the way of your deserving? 
  • What is the purpose of your life?
  • What meaning have you created? 
  • What are you willing to do to experience the good you deserve? 
    • Are you willing to forgive?
    • Are you willing to do affirmations?
Support Yourself: Reach out to friends and allow others to help you. Be strong by asking others for help. Join some meet up groups and start networking. 

Be Loving Toward Negatives: You created every negative situation in your life to fulfill a need. You can choose again and you can choose a different approach. This allows you to move into a new positive with ease. Punishing yourself keeps you tied and doesn't allow for anything new or better to come into your life. Release with love. Allow the new to come in. Our thoughts and words are very powerful. You are never wrong no matter what. Don't be angry at yourself. You are always doing the best you can until you know better. So, cut yourself a break.

Humor: Use laughter to heal. If a negative event occurs, use humor and laughter to heal. There is always something comical in every situation. 

Take Care of Your Body: Your body is your temple. Love your body and take care of it. Watch what you put into your body. Learn about nutrition as this is an act of loving ourselves. Notice what gives you good energy.