Showing posts from 2019

Picture Imperfect: How to feel authentic & beautiful in every photo

I took nearly a hundred pictures this Christmas. Pictures of food, presents, people, and pets. As you can imagine, not all of them turned out well; some were blurry, some had closed eyes, and some caught errant hands or feet in the frame. I deleted several of these for obvious reasons.

When I looked at the photos of me, I paid close attention to each one, scrutinizing minor details of my facial expressions and body placement.

I almost got lost picking myself apart in each picture.

Then I was reminded that the self-judgment wasn't worth my time. I accepted that the camera had captured an authentic view of who I am, and no matter my feelings about it, this was how I looked. And I decided to be okay with that. 

Once I let go of my expectations of perfection, I was able to see the beauty in the photos, the moments of joy, and the memories.

In this digital age of photography and social media, it's become easy to put forth only the best version of ourselves. We are tempted to delete the …

Tattooing Love: Honoring a loved one and adopting a mantra

There are three things you need to know before you read this story.

Butterflies give me peace and remind me to have faith.I have six other tattoos. I consider each of them meaningful expressions of my life, and most of them were done on special dates.Both of my grandmothers were the model of Love, and though they lived thirteen-hundred miles away, they impacted my life regularly.
Eight months ago, Grandma Kelley, my dad's mom, passed away at the age of 95. At the funeral service, her pastor shared a phrase of advice that she had given him during a challenging personal time.

"It takes a lot of Love to get along in this world."

The words landed on my heart and stayed in my soul. I immediately typed them into my phone and thought, This is my next tattoo.

I had been thinking about a butterfly tattoo for several months, but I didn't want anything generic. With Grandma's words in mind, I envisioned putting the two items together in one design.

Suddenly, I remembered the jewe…

4 Steps To Spot an Angel: Christmas tree hunting gives new meaning to snow angel

We used to have a dog that liked to eat pine needles. However, he got impatient waiting for them to drop to the floor, and he started gnawing on the low-hanging branches. We feared that he would topple the tree, so we stopped bringing home a live tree and bought an artificial one instead.

After fourteen years, our dog grew old and passed away, so we reinstated the tradition of cutting down a Christmas tree.

Last week, I bundled up for the cold weather while my husband loaded up the chainsaw, shovel, and tire chains. We planned to drive to forest land about an hour from our house. The highway led through a small canyon, and a few miles later, we turned onto a snowy mountain road. 

The trip started out fine, but as we went on, the tracks left by snowmobiles and hunting trucks began to decrease.

And then the tracks were gone.

We stopped immediately, but not soon enough. Shawn pulled a little too far to the side of the road, and the truck was sucked into a snow bank.

We were stuck.

"At leas…

How Can I Be Thankful For This?: Take 10 minutes to find gratitude in the darkness

I've been exploring thankfulness for the last four weeks - intentionally contemplating what gratitude looks like - and I realized that sometimes we're in such dark places that it's difficult to be thankful.

I know about darkness, and you do, too.

Fear. Shame. Guilt. Poor health. Poverty. Violence. An uncertain future. The list could go on for days if we allow it.

I have a rare disease called myofibrillar myopathy (MFM). It's a form of muscular dystrophy that is slowly progressive yet highly variable in symptoms. There is no cure or effective treatment. It affects every muscle, including my heart and lung muscles, and limits my mobility. Dark indeed.

However, I am able to find pockets of light through gratitude.

I am thankful for my diagnosis. I've read stories of fellow MFM patients who experienced severe symptoms and many frustrating visits with doctors for years before receiving a diagnosis. Mine came early enough in the progression that I knew what was happening when…

4 Ways to Deepen Your Gratitude: For whom are you grateful?

This is week four of my month-long quest to explore what it means to be thankful.

For whom are you grateful?

Grab a pen and write down the first few names that come to mind.
With Thanksgiving approaching, this question will undoubtedly be asked at dinner tables across the country, and answers will likely include spouses, children, or other family. Maybe some close friends or mentors will be mentioned, and the list will end there.
I think we can take our gratitude deeper.
Lately, I've been paying attention to the people in my life. Each night when I record what I've been thankful for using my DTH method, I take time to recall who has crossed my path that day. Naturally, my husband, sister, and my parents come to mind easily, but after writing their names, I push myself to move beyond my family.

Here are a few examples to get you thinking.

1. After an evening spent with my book club, I looked at the picture I'd taken of everyone gathered around the table. I paused to reflect on…

Thankfulness 63 Million Miles Away: How technology and discovery can magnify gratitude

* This is week three of my month-long quest to explore what it means to be thankful.

Earlier this week, I witnessed an event that won't occur again in the United States for another fifty years.

On November 11, Mercury's orbit aligned perfectly between our perspective on Earth and the sun, so for a few hours that morning, the planet could be seen traveling across the disk of the sun.

My husband and I are both fascinated by astronomy, and we had already purchased sun-viewing binoculars for the solar eclipse two years ago. We planned to use them to watch the Mercury transit.

However, when it came time to look up to the sky, clouds blocked the sun.

We were determined to see the event, so after checking the area weather, we decided to drive east in search of clear skies.

Along the way I marveled at the science and math behind predicting this event. How did someone figure out the exact date and time of the transit? How do scientists know when the next one will be visible? 

We only had to d…

Thankful for Serendipity: Following gratitude through a fortuitous chain of events

* This is week two of my month-long quest to explore what it means to be thankful.

Have you ever found yourself in the middle of a serendipitous chain of events? Where one chance encounter led to a unique experience which led to another turn of events? I believe these happen more often than we realize, and they can reveal beautiful Doorways along the way.

Over the last several years, I've returned to my love of reading. When I left my career of teaching, I was gifted with more time for the hobby, and when I discovered audio books from my local library, I was able to read twice as many books. I use GoodReads to track my reading progress and to write reviews which I share on Facebook.

A couple of weeks ago, I posted my recommendation of a book called The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime

This began a chain of events that opened several Doorways.

As I reflected back on what happened, I recognized my gratitude at each step.

1) One of my Facebook friends (whom I knew from my vol…

Be Thankful: Can a month of gratitude reveal beauty?

November is generally known as the month for giving thanks, but what does that look like? 

For the next four weeks, I'll be exploring what it means to be thankful.

I've written about my daily practice before, but this month I want to push out of my comfortable routine and stretch myself in gratitude. 

Much like rolling out dough, I'll knead it close in my hands, spread it across the counter, add flour, and work it to the edge.

Today I'm beginning in the near space with items that are within my physical reach. So often, these are the things we overlook - literally - as our gaze settles on distant objects.

I'm grateful for:

My Chromebook. Not only does it help me communicate and learn via the Internet, it makes me think of my husband's love. When I told him I was ready to start writing my book, he purchased the computer as a surprise. Fresh, clean, cold water. I always have a water bottle with me, and when I need more, I can access an abundant, near limitless supply fro…