Oh, I want to be her! I think that a lot in life. There are so many incredible people in this world. So many amazing and talented women. So many incredible photographers. So many creative and loving mothers. So many powerful wise business women. So many kind and loving christian women. I want to be them! I want to plan birthdays for my kids that go down in history and then I want to write a witty blog post about it and post amazing photographs. I want to put together a project at work and deliver presentations that end in standing ovations. I want to write a book that goes on the bestseller list and just stays there. I want to change millions of peoples lives for the better. I want to be a lawyer and a psychologist. I want to do improv and stand up comedy and act in a play on broadway. I want to discover a cure for something - anything. I want to compete in something and win - you know - some Olympic something. Every day I can find someone else doing something I really wish I could do. Building, creating, inspiring - these are things my heart longs for every day. I can think myself into a tizzy at how far I am from my aspirations. I see these well known, confident, amazing women - or lesser known but equally amazing local women - and I envy their style, grace, and ability. I start questioning everything - my parenting style, my wifey-ness, my friend-ness, my business skills, the sequence of my shower routine - I'm telling you, everything. I've learned though, sometimes we look through the window with so much longing but what we should be doing is taking a look in the mirror. Sometimes we recognize qualities in other people because they are qualities we already possess. Yes! Whenever you see something in someone that you wish you had - I will bet that in some way you already do. We crave to be more of who we are meant to be - it is a human condition. The important part of that though, is more of who we are meant to be. I've got news for you - you are, right now, exactly who you are meant to be. It is actually impossible for you to be someone else. Go ahead, I'll wait while you try. See? Not possible. Let's take a look at this list of things that - even as I was writing it - my soul sighed and said, "Oh yes, I would love to be able to do, be, accomplish that." Birthdays: My kids think their birthdays are epic and they will remember them with joy their entire life. They don't know, nor do they care, who baked the cake, or whether the decorations are perfect. They care that I remember them, that I take the day to celebrate them. They care that I care - and I care! My husband actually considers me the Martha Stewart of party planning. I happen to know he has a very very low bar that I'm stepping over - but, hey - his opinion is the most important opinion to me! Write a book: I am a writer - a learning and growing writer who has no concept of grammar or punctuation (sorry Mr. T - you tried). I'm not going to be on any best-seller lists tomorrow - but who knows what the future brings. You become a writer by writing and I am writing. Change lives: I may never change a million lives - but I do try very hard to change the lives of those in my circle of influence. I try to be a loving friend, mom, daughter, co-worker. I may not be saving lives - but if someones day is better because I was a part of it? Fantastic. Lawyer/Psychologist: I will probably not be a lawyer or a psychologist - but if someone has a problem I get called on often to help them make their case. If a friend is struggling I always have an ear for them and time to listen to their concerns. I may not get paid to do these things for strangers - but I get a much bigger payback by doing these things for my friends. Bonus - no student loans! Comedy/Acting: Ok, I am not giving up on the idea of improv. The Skinny Improv needs a *ahem* mature woman on the cast, but even if I never join them, I can make my husband laugh. I get to act out crazy things with my kids on a daily basis. Award winning? No, but only because they can't use scissors yet (hard to craft an award without scissors - ask the Oscar people). Discovering a cure: Done. On a daily basis. I can cure boredom with the skills of, well, an Olympian boredom curer. Two birds, one skill. Anyone with children under their roof acquires the ability to cure boredom or they simply: Do. not. survive. So there you have it - a little introspection and I suddenly understand much more clearly why I admire the women I admire. They are parts of me - parts that I use each day, parts that I want to build up, parts that are intrinsically who I am meant to be. The next time you find yourself going down a road of envy and longing - stop. Identify exactly what it is you admire and find that in yourself. It's there. (Note - if your longings center around Jimmy Choo then this may not work, well - wait, you wear shoes don't you?) 20120222-192125.jpg Side Note: Happy Birthday tomorrow to my precious boy!
"More wars have been waged, more people killed, and more evil perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history. The sad truth continues in our present day." Charles Kimball This statement is basically what you can read on about any comment thread on the internet...if we had no religion we would have no war. There may be some truth in there but I've been wondering do these people contemplate what else we would lose? That quote breaks my heart because there is truth in it. There has been so much done that is so wrong. I cannot deny that. It is far too easy to find atrocities committed due to what one group believed and another didn't. Even now, as I sit here, there are people dying for believing differently than someone else - in the name of God. This killing is evil and evil destroys like a bomb. It is big and messy. It is far reaching and catastrophic. It is reported in the media and watched by thousands. It is memorialized and the dead are honored. Days are set aside to commemorate the atrocity. We vow to never forget. Never forget what happened. We vow never to forget that day of evil. Love happens then, in the aftermath. Love comes in, before the dust settles but long after the cameras leave. Love sends volunteers and supplies and hope. Love is why we survive despite our atrocious track record. Love. Always love. Love cradles the victims in their arms. Love feeds the helpers. Love finds survivors. Love counsels those that remain. Love brings the hope required to move forward. Love. Always love. Perhaps we should also commemorate the day after and remember the love. I would like to contend that more good has been wrought, more people saved from a life forgotten, and more kindnesses perpetrated in the name of religion than by any other institutional force in human history. This humble truth continues even in our present day. I believe this. It is the thousands of phone calls that go out each week offering to help or just checking to see if someone is ok. It's the thousands of visits made to console and acknowledge loss. It is the charities - both organized and personal that believers practice each day. It is the financial support when someone is in need. It is as large as the orphanages around the world supported by believers. It is as small as giving someone a ride to work whose car is in the shop. It is in the earnest prayers - millions each day. In the name of God, people love one another. In the name of God, people pick one another up. Every day. Every. day. It's not something easily measured. One of the tenants is to do your kindness quietly without calling attention. Love operates differently. Love doesn't go off like a bomb for all the world to see - not often anyway. Love is like fog or the air we breathe....it permeates our lives completely and often we aren't even aware of it. Love doesn't make for splashy headlines but if one were to report on all of the kindnesses done today in the name of Jesus you would have a never ending news cast. I believe this. There is more good in this world than evil. Do I believe that it balances out? I do not know. I only know that I would not want to live in a world with no God. 20120215-194904.jpg
I have always thought of passion as this wonderful characteristic to have. Passion, in it's modern usage, is defined as boundless enthusiasm. That sounds like a good thing to have, right? Enthusiasm is nothing but good - even the word itself sounds joyful. But boundless? Boundless means having no boundaries, not having limits. No boundaries doesn't seem like such a great thing - we need limits. Even toddlers need limits to feel safe. Unlimited enthusiasm... passion. This new definition of passion is a far cry from its Latin origins. Passion stems from passi - the suffering of martyr's like Jesus. You really couldn't get much further from what I think of when I think of passion than that. But this older definition is what ties passion to compassion. Compassion is the ability to suffer with someone, to bear their pain. The pity you feel for another's pain and suffering is your compassion in action. Compassion calms and soothes. Compassion longs to connect and alleviate. We are a passionate species, we humans. There is a lot of boundless enthusiasm in the world. I am intrigued by, desirous of, and skeptical of passion. I mean, do I really know enough to be boundless in my feelings about anything? Love is the only thing in my world that can run amuck and I'm ok with it. Love does not need boundaries - not real love. Unchecked passion about just about anything else though can get you into trouble - sometimes when you are right, and almost always when you are wrong. I have been thinking a lot about passion because nothing brings out the passionate rhetoric quite like an election year. Political hot button issues breed passion. Pickets, signs, marches, slogans, accusations - all are tools for expressing our boundless enthusiasm around a particular issue. And here is where I struggle - what about my brothers and sisters who disagree with me? What about the living breathing people behind the political issue? Where is our compassion for one another? As a society we take what are personal choices made by real people and make them theoretical and impersonal. We divide everyone into right or wrong without ever listening. An impersonal "cause" allows you to pick sides and if you don't pick, well, then you must be on the other side. Morality and politics. Morality and legislation. Love and politics. Love and legislation. Somethings just can't be legislated. Some problems are only fixed in the heart and the government doesn't control our hearts. Our passion expressed politically polarizes, destroys, breaks us down. But if I apply my passion toward helping someone make a different choice, or see things differently through conversation and loving them, it builds up and brings us together. Discourse, conversation, a willingness to listen to views that are different. This is compassion. Please realize that for any of the things you feel passionately about there is a strong, bible loving Christian who feels the opposite. There are pro-choice Christians and pro-life Christians. There are homosexual Christians and straight Christians who love them. There are Christians who support gay marriage. There are Christians who are democrat and Christians who are republican. There are Christians who drink alcohol and Christians who abstain. There are Christians on both sides of every issue who believe passionately that they are on God's side. Christians who believe sincerely and with love that they have a biblically sound view on life - and it is the opposite of yours. I might be that person. We would do well to focus on love because I know of only One who knows Truth. The bible was not written so clearly that there is not room for conversation and that must have been on purpose. What is clear, very very clear, is the directive to love one another. There are no caveats, no interpretations, no exclusions. Love one another and love Me. I know this will anger some. I know this will make some people's blood boil. I know, I know, I know. Passionate responses are to be had in spades about any and all of those topics. Passion: the suffering of Christ. Perhaps we would all do well to take our passion to it's source and lay it at the cross and ask God what He would have us do with it. A lot of times anger and hatred get hidden behind a label of passion. Hate and anger can't hide at the foot of the cross. There is a Truth. One truth. I just don't know with certainty what it is, I only know what I believe it is. I do know that I'm a broken person and that I break God's heart in a thousand different ways despite my diligent efforts to be a good person. I do know that God expects me to love everyone. But beyond that I simply have my faith, my beliefs, and my trust that there is mercy to be had when I am wrong, because I know I don't have it all figured out. Whatever your passion is - immerse yourself in it. Ask God to lead you into the heart of it and equip you for it. Leave judgement to God. Trust that he has given you strong feelings, passion, for a reason - He is calling you to love those people. God doesn't call you to a cause - He calls you to a people. God doesn't call us to judge - He calls us to love. If you can't love the people that embody the issue that you feel so strongly about that says something doesn't it? Love one another. Trust God to judge justly. Rest in the fact that you don't know enough to judge, you know enough to love. Let's find some boundaries in our passion and start to feel compassion for those who believe differently than we do. Let's pray they do the same. 20120208-192632.jpg
At the beginning of the year I started living a healthier lifestyle with some friends. I have never had a consistently healthy lifestyle. I would make some changes for a while, get close to my goal and then slip back into my ‘normal’ eating. This time has been different. I just walked into this thinking that this would be the way I would live. There are a few things I am doing now that I hope to drop eventually, like my food log. It’s very educational to keep a food log. Knowing the calories that you eat has been eye opening. Who knew how quickly you could go from a good day to a very unhealthy day with just a few choices. Once I reach my goal weight range I should be well versed enough in food choices to not track every single thing I eat every day. Until then I am sticking with it though. It’s so easy to make excuses and so embarrassing when you realize how flimsy they were. I am beginning to realize that my health is totally dependent on my ability to make honest clear choices. Take this conversation I had with myself before my last business trip: “I really want some Pringles. I think I will get a small container at the airport tomorrow because I have been so good and I deserve a treat. Besides, I am really really craving them.” After a brief pause I thought, “Well, if you were addicted to crack cocaine you would really crave that and think it was a treat too.” Then, “I guess I won’t be getting Pringles.” It may sound extreme but it made sense to me. How easy it is to judge extremely bad decisions – the results are immediate and obvious. Drug addiction is bad. But an unhealthy lifestyle robs from your life as well. I feel better now – no, I mean I really feel better. I think more clearly after 35 days of healthy eating. I am more rested. I am less lethargic. I am more patient. I have less guilt. I feel better. It’s hard to see how something as acceptable as a food indulgence is actually poisoning your life. It’s robbing you of things so subtly that you don’t even know they are missing. It is so easy to chalk up a lack of energy to age, being a mom, working long hours, etc. etc. I am amazed by how radically different I feel in just five short weeks. Exercise was the other killer. My friends started exercising right from the beginning but that is something I have never ever done since high school basketball. I don’t exercise. So I decided to ease into the healthy eating and start exercising ‘later’. After watching them log all of their exercise and encouraging them and seeing the pride they were feeling from trying and sticking with something new I started feeling a little left out. So I decided to get up 30 minutes early and exercise before work every day. The first day was great – I felt really really good. The second day though, I was really tired so I slept in. The third day I felt guilty so I exercised after work. Then it was over. I stopped before I’d ever even started. I read an article about interval training and that got me to wondering if I couldn’t just hop on my elliptical in short bursts rather than a full 30 minutes. I did a little research and there is a lot of support for these short stretches of exercise and support that the time adds up as if you had done it all at once. So, armed with new information I decided to work out for ten minutes 3 times a day. I LOVE it. It’s quick, I don’t get so exhausted that my husband looks like he is considering calling an ambulance for me, and I will do it consistently. But after just a few days of this – it was time to travel. I do not work out at hotels. I do not want to work out with co-workers. I’m not, shall we say, put together, when I’m exercising. Besides, I couldn’t do it throughout the day while I’m on the road. But with my newfound accountability and determination I decided to find something I could do. Podcasts! Free 20-30 minute podcast videos are all over itunes – so I did that. Never have I felt so healthy as I did each night after I finished a podcast. If I were cloned I would have just sat there grinning like a fool at myself saying, “You’re really doing this. You are really making a total change. You go Julie.” And that is where I’m at. 35 days of healthy eating and two weeks of exercising regularly. Hardly enough time to declare a total victory over myself but well past the first round of the fight. Far enough to say I am doing this because I really enjoy what it is doing with my body and my mind. If this is what 40 is all about I’ll take it. I’m old enough to know myself, confident enough to call my own bluff, and humble enough to not rebel at accountability. It’s a nice place to be. 20120205-154356.jpg
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