Once there was a girl

difficultRoads

Once there was a girl. Her name wasn’t actually Hope; but the way she lived each day and looked at one and all, her name could have been Hope. For the sake of this post, we will call her Hope. She believed against all odds. She always believed that the world was full of love and possibilities. It never occurred to her to be jealous of anyone, because she already thought the best of them. She always believed that she was received with care and compassion. She clung tightly to her faith. She clung through all the ups and downs of life. She did not use her faith as a crutch. she used it as a guide, her companion, her ship to sail across the waters.

Max Sailing

Hope continued to believe the best about others. She prayed for them, and always wanted the best for them. She took note of the sacrifices others made on her and others’ behalf. She was an optimist. She felt at home with oh so many people. She assumed she was a part of things and that she fit in. Of course, in those awkward teen years, she felt out of place at places like the swimming pool. But throughout her days and years, she eagerly joined in with all sorts of efforts. She committed her time, talent, and treasure to all kinds of things. Her family expanded and contracted over the years. Her heart melted and broke through the gains and losses of life. She gained dreams and lost huge dreams….but she still believed.

She treasured her family ~ her parents and siblings, siblings spouses and children, aunts and uncles and cousins, and her husband. She cherished her husband and son, and her husband’s family, too. Through it all, she noticed the ones who took special care to cherish her right back. For years and years she did not notice if there were some who did not treasure her right back. It never occurred to her that that would be the case.

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

There came a day when she became painfully aware that there were some who did not treasure her. Now this set her back and broke her heart. Many readers will find this silly, since this is really just a part of life. But it shook her to her core, and made Hope doubt her own value and place in the world. It gave her pause and made her realize that there was nothing, absolutely nothing she could do about it. Multiple things happened that confirmed the fact for her. Hope… in a way…lost hope.

But then a curious thing happened. Hope realized that although there were those that did not have her back (and perhaps never did), that did not alter her worth as a woman. All it altered was her own view of herself and the world for a time. She decided that she could not give those people the key to her ship or her heart. Although she was somewhat less Gidget-y or starry eyed….she knows this. She is STILL God’s creation, and a part of His precious crown.

HandleTheJourneyPoster

Hope knew that the source of her glow, her hope, and her optimism, is and always will be God. Yes, it would be lovely if the Kumbayah world she sees still included everyone she knows. Perhaps it still will. But the chorus of love around her is good. Hope cannot lose hope anymore. It would say that those who broke her are more significant than God and the ones who restore her and love her everyday.

Naysayers’ hearts can change, too. Hope knows that she, too may have done something to cause the string of events to happen. For now, she knows that she must change focus. Rather than look at the torn knees in her jeans after the tumble into the doldrums, she must refocus on the mountains, the stars, the fields of gold, and the open arms of loving people and on the presence of the Lord.

Smiling Christ: Frances J. Hook

Smiling Christ: Frances J. Hook

Hope still hopes, she hopes because the King of Kings restores her heart. She hopes once again, because the gift of love through those who restore her help to renew her strength. Hope believes. Hope insists on choosing joy.

My name is Kate ~ and I am Hope.

Kate 09-2012

Kate 09-2012

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We’re after the same rainbow’s end…

The classic song Moon River says “Two drifters, off to see the world There’s such a lot of world to see. We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waiting, round the bend, my Huckleberry Friend, Moon River, and me”.

Rainbow'sEnd

I never cared for the movie Breakfast at Tiffany’s, but I love the song. Is it because it has the term huckleberry friend? Maybe. I have sweet memories from my childhood of that word huckleberry. The kid’s song the muffin man has it…and of course, the Mark Twain classic The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has it. My dad was a big Mark Twain fan, so he and I discussed his works on a regular basis. When I hear Moon River, I always sing the part about “my huckleberry friend” with a tear in my eye.

The urban dictionary tells us that a huckleberry friend is: A very special good friend that’s been in your life for years, typically for years. I definitely have some huckleberry friends, and I hope that you do, too. They bless my life with their glorious love.

But besides mentioning huckleberry friends, I wanted to talk today about the other part of the verse. “There’s such a lot of world to see. We’re after the same rainbow’s end….waiting round the bend….”

I saw this photo yesterday. It reminded me of that song. It made me think about how intertwined hearts share dreams, hopes, visions for the future, and more. We may long for peace of heart, glorious days full of wonder and hope. Like a rainbow’s end, the journey may even be theoretically impossible. But it is our journey, as we drift or even march along that makes it all beautiful. We can see that rainbow connecting the clouds to the earth. It is a symbol of hope and promise.

The rains do not last forever in our lives. Our difficulties will pass. Joy and love burst through our darkest moments. Our huckleberry friends see us through heartbreak and rejoice with us in happy times. I remember a day in New Jersey when my friends Pattie and Connie and I were outside with our kids, in a wonderful rain. The kids were running through the puddles and we just let them get totally soaked. They were floating leaves in the water as it streamed toward the storm sewers. Then, over the pond where the peepers croaked at night, we saw a double rainbow angling over our heads and seemingly ending in the woods just beyond us. It was such a lovely moment….the joyous rapture of childhood, the sweet treasure of rainbows….mixed together with huckleberry friends. Then, of course, we took the kids in to Pattie’s house, dried them off and had her FABULOUS potato soup.

So you see, when you least expect it….joy is waiting around the bend. Me? I long for connections with loved ones. I long for times and moments that renew my strength and faith. I love the promise of possibility. There are times in our lives when we “cocoon”. Perhaps we hide away from the world. Perhaps we lick our wounds. We crawl into a metaphorical chrysalis – to heal, re-group, and re-focus.

Then, wonder of wonders, miracle of miracles, what happens? You guessed it, didn’t you?

PosterCaterpillarWings

And you are ready to fly….GlassWingedButterfly

 

 

 

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Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush

Here is an article that I came across today. I hope it brightens your day. So many times I have reminded myself and others that each day is a gift, and there is a bright side to our situations. Sometimes people really jump in to remind me of something horrific in the world to serve as a counterargument to my optimism. There are times I do not have an answer for them. Sometimes the counterargument is about something SO horrific that not only am I unable to argue against them, but then I feel lower than low. BUT here is the thing. If I stay down and out, I CANNOT get through the day which may be filled with challenges. I am called to march through each day, no matter what. So I was glad when I stumbled across this article. I think it is a keeper.

Optimism Saves The Day ~ Harvey Mackay

http://uexpress.com/harvey-mackay/2014/8/4/optimism-saves-the-day

U.S. President Harry S. Truman once said, “A pessimist is one who makes difficulties of his opportunities and an optimist is one who makes opportunities of his difficulties.”

Which do you think will reach their goals, live a happy life and achieve their dreams?

Imagine interviewing two people who have identical skills, but one is always grumbling about how unfair life can be, while the other one talks about what wonderful possibilities exist. Whom would you want to hire? Whom do you think would do a better job?

Naturally, you would gravitate toward the optimist. If you choose the pessimist, you would be setting yourself up for plenty of aggravation and disappointment, not to mention the negative impact on your staff and customers. Pessimism can bring everyone down, not just the person with the negative attitude.

Pessimism is nothing more than self-sabotage. Expecting only the worst is not being realistic. Realists hope for the best but prepare for the worst. Pessimists can’t imagine the best, so only prepare for the worst.

And then if the worst never happens? Pessimists often find the worst possible result simply to prove that their concerns were right.

The question becomes, would you rather be right than happy? That’s not being realistic either. That’s being self-defeating. Pessimism can rob you of your energy, sap you of your strength and drain you of your dreams.

Optimism is the remedy. Optimism doesn’t mean pretending life is always wonderful. Optimism means embracing reality. You accept that there will be bad days, but also good days. When you’re grounded in reality, you know where you are and how far you need to go. Once you know how far your goal may be from where you are, optimism can give you the motivation to make plans to get to where you want to go.

Pessimists see life as one problem after another. Optimists see life as one opportunity after another.

How you look at life can drastically affect how much you enjoy your life. Optimists expect the best out of life. If you were not raised with this attitude, take comfort: It can be learned.

Optimism is based on three basic tenets, according to Mary Kay Mueller in her book “Taking Care of Me: The Habits of Happiness”:

– Bad things do happen in life, but they are temporary.

– Bad things in life are limited in scope and tend to be small or insignificant.

– People have control over their environments.

Pessimists reverse the tables:

– Good things in life are temporary.

– Good things in life are limited — small or insignificant.

– People have no control over their environments.

Does it make sense that pessimists tend to blame others or circumstances for their failures?

Optimists help create some of the good they come to expect, so they are probably right more often than not — and they don’t waste time worrying about what they’re not right about. Optimism relaxes people. When we’re relaxed, there is better blood flow to the brain, which results in more energy and creativity in your life.

Consider how optimism turned this situation around:

Over the course of seven years, a woman’s mother died, her husband divorced her, and she found herself living in poverty, just one step away from being homeless. In her spare time, she wrote a book that 12 publishers rejected. Finally one publisher accepted her book about a boy named Harry Potter. And then she wrote a few more books, which became blockbuster movies, and even spawned a theme park.

J.K. Rowling was an optimist who’s now a billionaire. How far in life would she have gotten by being a pessimist?

There is virtually nothing that you can’t do if you set your mind to it. You cannot control events in your life, but you can control how you react.

Do you want to be a pessimist and have no hope for a better future? Or would you rather be an optimist and believe you can achieve a better future?

There once was an old man who had many troubles. No matter what hardship life handed him, he faced each obstacle with a smile and a cheery disposition.

A friend finally asked him how he managed to stay so happy despite his challenges.

The old man quickly answered: “Well, the Good Book often says, ‘And it came to pass,’ but never once does it say, ‘It came to stay.'”

Mackay’s Moral: Attitude is the mind’s paintbrush — it can color any situation.

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Is that all there is?

My husband is hearing Peggy Lee singing “Is that all there is?” in his head. Work is stressful for him, and the long, long hours are difficult. For me and my tutoring, the school year is already underway. The summer went too quickly, as I really only had about a week off. He only had the 4th of July weekend off. Don’t get me wrong. We are grateful (beyond measure) that we DO have jobs. We are just exhausted.

With work demands and the needs of distant family, we again did not take a vacation for the 3 of us. It needs to be rectified. Stress and exhaustion do eventually take a toll. I have quantified times like this using this expression “I am tired of pushing greased elephants up glass mountains”. Obviously, when I feel this way it comes from lack of balance, and believing I am in the battles alone. Of course, I am not. God is with me through it all, and so are my husband and son.

There are medical situations that we need to attend to in the next month or two.In addition to those things, we need to have some sort of mini-vacation. My son and I will do some early fall housecleaning today as well. Believe it or not, that boosts my spirits, too. The day stretches out before me, and I will march on through it. God is my constant companion. He and I have MUCH to discuss.

The answer to the song running through my husband’s head: No, that is NOT all there is. It just FEELS like it some days.

Psalm 121 states “I raise my eyes toward the mountains. From whence shall come my help? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; or your guardian to sleep. Behold, the guardian of Israel never slumbers nor sleeps. The Lord is your guardian; the Lord is your shade at your right hand. By day the sun will not strike you, nor the moon by night. The Lord will guard you from all evil; he will guard your soul. The Lord will guard your coming and going both now and forever”.

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

I lift my eyes to the mountains from whence cometh my help

 

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Unchartered territory for me: new mindfulness

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Gosh it is Saturday already! Yesterday was my birthday… it was wonderful. If you missed my birthday post and want to see it, the link is right here. http://believeanyway.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/my-day-is-now-yup-its-my-birthday/

Oh how the years have flown by. It is likely that I have more years behind me than ahead of me. We never know how much time we have left. But with the latest milestone birthday, my awareness runs deep. As a result, I am more aware than ever that I should be mindful of how I spend my time.

I don’t just mean my lists of “things to do”. I mean working towards living a life without regret. I mean making the most of each day. I no longer want to let myself make the excuse that I was “too busy to pray or to spend time with a friend or exercise or see the sunrise and sunset”.

As I see it, each day is a brand new gift from God. I was wide awake in the middle of the night, so I decided to just get up and write this post. If you are feeling stressed or worried today or tonight, know that my prayers are with you. I am praying this evening for those who feel worn out, or down, or under the weather, or worried. Answers and direction will come to you. I seek answers and direction, too. I think we all do. I want to travel the road of life with renewed purpose.

JoniCarolinaBeachPier

I am itching for new challenges and I will find them. In the meantime, I will prepare for the school year which begins by 8/5 for almost all of my students. Between now and the fall semester, there are lessons to prepare, of course. But there are also will be time for fun and relaxation. I will be sure of that!

Next week I will see some old friends who are in town for a visit, what a blessing. Mid-week I will get together for coffee with dear Bridget…(one of the finest ya-yas). I will be re-focusing on some projects that have been set aside. Each day I will focus on mind, body, spirit, and heart. By doing that, I will be nourished and I will have the strength to feed others’ spirits as well.

DanceTheTides

So many opportunities are placed in our lives each day. We are given opportunities to reach out to others. We are given the chance to get some things done each day. We are provided the chance to both receive and give wisdom. We have more to give than we realize. You know this is true because there have been times in your life when someone does some little thing for you that means SO much. It warms your heart, not just at that moment, but years later when you stop and think about that small thing.

So today I hope to use God’s moments, life’s moments, to be mindful. I also will be gentle with myself instead of harsh. After all, I am special to God, too. If I insist on being compassionate with my students in order to give them strength for THEIR journeys, I must do the same with myself. Remember, you have SO much to offer. You are a treasure, a precious jewel. As you ponder the upcoming week, what would you to be sure to do with that week if you knew it was going to be one of your last weeks? Even if you have 100 years left, what ways can you spend your time that will make you feel peaceful and joyous? Of course the road ahead could be difficult and arduous! But you will not travel alone!

difficultRoads

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In the past few weeks, I have joined some local community groups online. It has been a heartwarming way to make new connections in the community. As a result, I am determined to spend time with the friends I already have in the community as well. Funny how that works. Just when you wonder if you are a bit alone in the world, God floods you with kind people.

 

 

 

 

 

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My day is now: yup it’s my birthday

HandleTheJourneyPoster

Today I entered a brand new decade. I turned 60. Yep. Just like that, I left my 50s.  This past decade was a time of questioning the meaning of my life and the paths I walked. There were so many changes. Just when I set off on one journey, it would come to an end, and a new journey  would begin. It was both exhausting and exhilarating. It was definitely a decade of discovery. My goodness — my whole life moved to an entirely different realm.

I learned to be more patient, kinder, and less reactive. I listened more and judged less. I grew to greatly appreciate the magnificence I see in the people I love, even more than I had before. Each person I love is such a treasure, such a magnificent treasure.

I discovered that my true friends REALLY, REALLY, REALLY have my back. They have demonstrated that repeatedly. No matter what, they have embraced me in times of triumph and loss.

I learned that life does NOT come to a screeching halt if someone misjudges me or rejects me. Now granted, it still does come as a shock if a person I thought DOES care actually doesn’t. But do you know what? as the new decade unfolds I realize that I already have way more than my share of people who love me. Even after times that left me feeling shattered, I find that my loved ones have the glue that helps reassemble me. I cannot afford to obsess over the times and people who shattered me. They are not worthy of that kind of attention, and my refusal to forgive is not worthy of me! That is SO yesterday! I am certain that they did the best they could.

During the past 10 years, I worked at my church for a couple of years, attended to the home fires before and after that for a bit, and tutored for the past 7 years and counting. Both working for the church and tutoring have been sources of joy and renewal. It gave me a chance to give and grow. It continues to give me the chance to re-ignite the downhearted and help them move towards their own brand of magnificence. (Of course the chance to teach the subject material is a great thing as well).

So, as I assess the state of my life I see that my path is far different from many of my college classmates and the peers of my generation. Many of them are “super stars” in the business world or as volunteers. Some of them are gorgeous beauties to boot. I am none of these. Despite my big career plans after getting my MBA decades ago, my career (by the world’s standards) is small, maybe even insignificant by their standards.

My ways are simpler and littler. But my students are twinkling stars. They take my breath away as they grow, change, work, and strive. To be a part of that is a privilege. I would not exchange that for a Wall Street job. I cannot imagine my life without the students I have had.

To be a wife to my dear husband, and a mom to my lovely son are true blessings. Our sweet family of 3 is a well-oiled machine. I am grateful for what I have.

I have friends in town and around the country who love me and I them. How lucky can one girl be?

I am grateful for who God and my loved ones continue to help me become.

So what does the next year and decade have in store? I do not know. I will tell you this, though. I will rejoice in the life I have. I will pray. I will live life to the fullest. I will continue to work on the books I have been writing. I will get to the beach more often, and to the mountains as well. I will stop to notice the sunrises and sunsets more often than I have during the past 10 years. I will love more, give more, laugh more, and relax more.I want to accumulate mountains of grace, joy, perseverance, love, laughter, and beauty.

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So each day, I want to venture forth with my heart and arms wide open. I will embrace the world, and seize the day.

The gift I have today is the gift of the ones who REALLY do love me. They “get me”. The gift I have today is also the opportunity I have to love each person in my life. I also have the gift of the opportunity to forgive. Resisting that last opportunity makes the ropes on my sails so tight that my sails rip apart.

Recently, God has mended those sails which had been torn asunder. So now, I head into the open sea. By forgiving, the ropes are no longer too tight. “Sail on silver girl. sail on by. your time has come to shine, all your dreams are on their way”.

The next stage will be full of sunshine, storms, joys, sorrows, laughter, tears, sickness, health, work, relaxation. Sail on!

Max Sailing

As I sail on, I remember many wonderful birthdays in days gone by: surprise birthday parties; family birthday parties; small gatherings; larger gatherings; and all the birthdays yet to come. I head into today, as Dr. Seuss would say, “with my head full of brains, and my shoes full of feet”….

and a shout out to ALL of my beloved ya-yas, friends, cousins, and others.

 

Posted in faith/courage/miracles/hope, Family Life and Issues, Friendship, God, Positive Thinking | Tagged , , , , , , | 25 Comments

stepping onto new path

“stepping onto a brand new path is difficult, but not more difficult than remaining in a situation that is not nurturing to the whole woman.” – maya angelou.

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