Showing posts from October, 2018

Budgeting for Beauty

Most of us are familiar with financial budgeting. We calculate our total income and allocate it to pay bills, buy food, and cover our basic needs. Then we decide how much to spend on entertainment or luxury and how much to save for emergencies. There are varying degrees of income that allow for or limit your choices. With increased money comes expanded options and freedom to choose more of them. And if you overspend one month, the debt has to be paid the next, lest it accumulate beyond your means. We can make the same budgeting plans for our energy. Living with a chronic illness, each day I wake up with a certain amount of limited energy in my bank. It's as if I've lost my high-paying job and am now on a fixed income that gets cut year after year. When I go beyond my daily allowance, I pay for it out of the next day's balance, often with physical pain. So this is what my budgeting process looks like to avoid the consequences of debt. Basic Needs - taking a shower,

Beautiful Birthdays

Last week I turned 40. Yep. The big 4-oh. Over the hill. Mid-life crisis time.  Except it wasn't. I have never related to those greeting cards that tease about too many candles, sagging body parts, or developing wrinkles. My perspective on aging changed dramatically when at 19, I had a stroke, was diagnosed with a heart condition, and doctors predicted I would only live another ten years. My heart function improved over the next year, and the terminal timeline was lifted, but I was left with a new outlook on the fragility of life and would come to know it deeper a decade later when I discovered my underlying, genetic muscular dystrophy. This is why I opened up my home to my friends and family on my 40th birthday. I wanted to hear the voices of 40 people, to connect in conversation and laughter as a reminder of how rich my years have been as I had gathered these jewels and gems of humanity along my journey. Between visitors and phone calls, I had exactly 40 personal inte

Soul Friends and the Beauty of Listening

Several years ago I joined a volunteer program that facilitates one-on-one caregiving for those   in the community  experiencing crisis or loss. I went through fifty hours of training that taught me how to be a better listener and immersed me in the program's goals of non-judgmental, empathic, and confidential care.  Each week, I meet with a care receiver who has been thoughtfully and prayerfully matched with me, and I listen to her talk about her fears, troubles, and challenges. These relationships can last a few months or more than a year, depending on the needs and the situation. I don't give answers or advice.  I simply show up each time, ready to allow my care receiver to talk about what is on her heart as I actively listen and ask open-ended questions. Recently, at the end of my last meeting, my care receiver gave me a card with a description of an Anam Cara . As I read it I knew instantly the power and impact of our time together. In ancient times, the Cel

Beauty at the Edge

For the last two years, I have gone to Moab, Utah to camp and ride the trails. One of the Jeep roads goes through Hurrah Pass, and it took us on a winding path through steep canyon walls. We happened to look up just as we rounded a corner and saw a red rock, precariously balanced at the edge of the cliff. Shawn and I both felt it's beauty as we reached for the camera. When reviewing the pictures at home, I chose to print a set of small, blank cards with this image and superimposed the line There is beauty at the edge . Then I stored them on a shelf with my other greeting cards for later use. Two weeks ago, I opened my card boxes, looking for the perfect one to give to a close acquaintance who was retiring earlier than she had planned, and my hands gravitated toward the balanced rock. Sitting down to gather my thoughts, I wrote that though she may feel as if she had been pushed to the edge, my hope for her was to find some beauty in the experience. A few days after her ret

The Beauty of Connecting to Family From Long Ago

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned a doorway  in a blog post  about updated results from my DNA ancestry. Since then, my interest in genealogy has been rekindled, and I have been dreaming up a trip overseas to walk in my ancestors' footsteps. My mom's sister and brother have devoted hundreds  (if not thousands) of hours to researching our family history and have discovered some amazing connections to Ireland and Scotland. My aunt has traveled twice to both countries in search of tangible evidence of the family legacy, so she was my first call in planning my quest. After a long and beautiful conversation with her, I had a list of castle names and the deep sense that I had opened a door to the past. I began with my maternal grandmother's side and Googled Kincaid House in Scotland. My great-grandmother was a Kincaid before she married into the Hays family, and her lineage can be traced back to the 1690 family who lived in the castle. Today, it has been fashioned into a hot