Puddles

I’ve spent a hair over a year rehabbing a compressed disc in my lower back through chiropractic and holistic healing methods.  I am moved to tears to report that I am nearly 100% healthy.  I am not 100% but NEAR 100% and through the ordeal I have learned to give myself a break.  Over the past year, my body was no longer capable of enduring the pain of a serious physical workout which led to weight gain and muscle loss and some depression.  My mind was still attached to the desire to be physically active and fit but my body said “no, not now” and I had no other choice but to listen and comply but I couldn’t sit idly by waiting for my healing to come.  One thing I knew was that I had to take an active role in my body healing itself and that meant that I had to stop interfering with its natural ability to heal itself and I had to change my activities.  Notice I didn’t say stop my activities.  I said I had to change my activities.  No matter how much pain and no matter how long it took me to roll out of bed each morning, I could NOT stop moving.  AND I didn’t. 

 On the other side of that frustrating year, I am now easing back into rigorous physical activities.  Yesterday, I did an hour and a half long cardio and strength training routine in which the end left me totally spent.  As I was cleaning up my living room (slash workout room), I noted that I left a puddle of sweat on the hardwoods where I had completed the cool down phase of the workout.  “Yuck!” I said out loud and then that quiet sweet inner voice immediately reprimanded me and I allowed her voice to settle in and enlighten me. 

 That voice showed me that the puddle of sweat lying on the floor was so very symbolic of many things that I should be proud of.  First, I had just labored through a tough exercise in which my body and my health applaud me for and there was the puddle to prove my efforts.  Second, exercise is mentally challenging and therapeutic.  I’ve learned to release my anxieties and worries during my workouts.  Lastly, I had accomplished an exhausting activity in which my back did not break; ache it did but it lasted and endured which was something totally impossible this time last year. 

After I sat a minute in sweet physical tiredness, I wiped up that puddle with a smile on my face and on my heart.  With each swipe of the rag, I mentally recalled the days of previous physical frustrations that I no longer dealt with.  I thought of the countless problems that life hands out and cause me concern and I wiped them up off the floor on the next swipe.  On the floor is exactly where I needed to leave all the toxicity that creeps into my life and on the floor is exactly where I left it.  I could hardly contain my enthusiasm at getting to today’s workout as I was contemplating all the things I was going to leave on the floor.

 Are there things you need to leave on the floor?  If you drop them there, you can purposefully dance over them, stomping a little harder and happier in certain places, while you are exercising to a better body and better mind but first you must make the choice to get on the floor.  Bring your heart, your mind, and a clean up rag.  

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Movin’ On

I spent several hours yesterday visiting with my dad and it was delightful.  The older we both get, the more relaxed we are and the more we enjoy our visits.  The ambiance around us hasn’t always been perfect but we’re moving beyond that.  There are miles of dried up gorges filled with past wounds still laying on the surface of our relationship but that’s just it; they’re scars and they serve no real purpose now other than to remind us of how far along we’ve come since those wounds were inflicted.  I don’t really know when the wounds became scars except that one day I decided that I no longer wanted to carry around the baggage of bitterness.  I, myself, wanted to live free of my past offenses so in order to do that I had to let some offenders off my hook.  I decided to forgive and move on, to love like Jesus. 

My dad was a different person back when he and my mother were raising me.  Having just stepped over the edge of a milestone birthday myself, I now see my childhood through the lenses of wisdom and therein lies the pathway to the forgiveness that I am able to extend to others.  While I am forgiving others, I am seeking forgiveness, too.  As I open my hand to give it to others, I am seeking it and allowing others to give it to me. 

I take account of my own parenting skills during the last twenty years and I sure hope my daughter will extend some grace and mercy to me, too, because much of my parenting was done when I was young and it was performed by the seat of my pants.  Suffice to say, I made some errors.  Ok, I made a lot of errors but I always parented out of love and I believe that love covers a multitude of sins and a bucket load of mistakes.  It’s really the defining action of grace…to forgive others and to love others and remember to forgive yourself and love yourself back.   

Life is but a second and it is way too short to live in captivity to the chains of bitterness, anger, alienation, and conflict.  Love recklessly.  Live purposefully.  Make that second count! 

Sweet and Salty

I usually do not peruse the inside aisles of my grocery store because it’s in those passageways where I get into calorie trouble but I let myself indulge the snack row one day and I was glad I did. I delightfully browsed the shelves, picking up packages and reading labels, and remarked at the voluminous plethora of goods marketed to entice and tease my taste buds. “Sweet and Salty” were the three words that kept vying for my affection. My mouth watered as I touched package after package of those delectable treats that were advertised to simulate a pleasant portion of sweet and salty and were guaranteed to satisfy my hunger. Even though I was not hungry, putting myself in that snack arena made me desire the sweet and salty sensation, the fulfillment of the pair, and the joy of obtaining the object of my immediate desire.
I left the store without purchasing a sweet and salty treat but for days I could not get the words out of my head. It wasn’t the treats that I was meditating on; it was the words…sweet and salty. I know salt is a healer. I use a Himalayan salt therapy for my lumbar disc issues. I use salt to season my foods and little goes a long way. I use salt to preserve foods but studying the other uses of salt I was reminded that it is used to soften our water and to clear ice and snow from roads. I also learned that salt is great when used as a household cleaner and can tackle tough laundry tasks (seriously…Google it!). Salt deters ants, keeps flowers fresh, kills weeds, relieves pain from mouth sores, and the list continues.

Ok. I know you and you’re saying “Lady, enough about the salt already…I get it…so where does the sweet come into this story???”.

So the thoughts about salt made perfect sense to me because the Bible tells us we are to be salt in the world. In other words, we are to be healers. We are to be warriors to help people clean up the messes that life brings. We are here to bring seasoning and richness to the lives of others. We are created and called to be salt and light in a dark world and when we do this, we are left with the smoothest, the most peaceful and plentiful supply of sweetness that life offers.

In the aisles of your daily life, I pray that you are salt. I pray that you find opportunities to pour into lives around you so that you usher in the joy of sweetness. Sweet and salty, good people, sweet and salty.

Surviving, both of us

Know this about me…I am not good under the pressures of giving care to someone bleeding, hurting, or in need of care beyond the basic measure…period. I cannot help that. It’s just the way our maker designed me. Besides, He blessed me with many other good qualities and abilities to compensate for what and where I lack. But He does that for everybody and this is why we are all unique and special. God blessed me with a husband, a true helpmate that is a great care giver and has been the care giving rock in our family by cleaning up vomit, bloodied knees, cuts, scrapes and various other things that our children drug us through. I say that with a pound of sugar and heaps of love because parents will understand that our children do indeed drag us through some crap at times but we love them for it.

So when we learned that my husband needed sinus surgery, neither one of us panicked. Chalk that up to ignorance, denial, and delusion. My husband never worried that I would be able to care for him after his surgery and I never considered the aftermath of sinus surgery. He was in denial and I was in a surrendered state of ignorance. My delusional state came upon me later when the recovery room nurse explained to me how to clean and dress his nose, oozing with blood.

The nurse carefully explained all the steps that I needed to take to monitor the bleeding, control the bleeding and clean the area. I was listening with intensity and false confidence, otherwise known as delusion. She asked if I had any questions to which I replied a delusional “no”. With my signature on his discharge papers, she led me into his room. I took one look at him and the strange smell of fainting began to seep into my mind. I excused myself right before my knees buckled and stepped out of the room, nurse in tow. I suppose she was puzzled. Just a few minutes earlier I showed extreme dedication to care for my husband and now I was a hot mess of dry heaves with wet beads on my forehead and upper lip.

There in that hospital hallway with folks watching on in confused attention, I spoke a nice motivational speech to myself and pulled it together. In my state of panic sickness, I probably couldn’t call on the great quotes from Zig or Teddy Roosevelt or Tommy Franks so I am sure my speech was my own redneck version of “pull your big girl panties on and just do it for the love of Pete!” And who is Pete, anyway??? Well, I sure don’t know who Pete is but whoever he is he helped my pull on my girl drawers and get on with the gettin’ on. In the words of another famous redneck…”I got ‘er done”.

It was painful to suppress the mental and physical attacks of a weak stomach but I conquered. I got him home. I followed the instructions for managing the after effects of his surgery and I must say that I was quite proud of the fact that I was able to care for him and care for him GOOD. I was able to find the strength to rise above my own inabilities and do what needed to be done. This was a huge feat for me. While it’s just day 2 and probably too early to declare final victory, I am glad to report that we both are surviving.

IMPORTANT leads to PRIORITY leads to PRODUCTIVITY…

The growing season has arrived here. It’s a time where we all emerge from our winter dens and shake off the lazy winter slumber in exchange for a pair of gardening gloves, yard tools, and good old brown dirt. This is precisely what I did over the weekend. I gave our summer porch a good scrubbing. I pulled out the chair cushions and fastened them back in place. I strung our ever popular outdoor lights along the porch railing. I put the planter boxes in their place and filled them with fresh dirt and marigolds. I pulled out the plant pots and got them ready to receive their herb of choice. I cleaned and filled the bird feeders. My chore list was long and the day was tiring but I knew I had to keep the end goal in mind if I were to enjoy the fruits of my labor. That is exactly what I did and at the end of the day, I finally sat down with a glass of wine and enjoyed the accomplishments of my task list and enjoyed the beautiful summer porch for the first time this season.

Our summer porch is the place where we relax at the end of a work day. It is the place where I sit in the mornings and have coffee and read. It is the place where guests are entertained, family gathers and chatter ensues. Suffice to say, it’s a pretty important place at our abode and it demanded my highest level of priority over the weekend.

Daily, we find time to do things. We go to work, pack lunches, check Facebook, unload the dishwasher, check the mailbox, drop clothes off at the cleaners, have lunch with a friend, call a sibling, get our hair cut, shop for groceries, fill up our gas tank, get a manicure, check the internet, cook dinner, read a magazine, check Facebook again, etc. But I ask which of these tasks are important and which ones are distractions that keep us from the important? I always giggle a bit when I hear someone say “I just don’t have time to do that” or “I wish I had time to go there” or “I need some time to relax”. I challenge you to take an inventory of your daily task list. If it’s important, make it a priority and you will find the time to achieve the task. If it’s not important, then assign the task a low priority so that it doesn’t become a distraction to the more meaningful things that you need to accomplish. In business, we like to say “What gets measured gets done”. Let’s not get too critical of our task list that we start to measure our output but let’s at least begin to think in terms of prioritizing our day so that we are the managers of our time instead of letting other things take charge over us. Be the boss!

Memories

Some memories take root and they take root for no apparent reason. They’re random thoughts that show up in our heads when we least expect them and jolt us into a past time. One minute you’re driving down the road thinking of nothing and then the next minute you are thrown into the slide show of yesteryear. Those memories can cause us great delight, to crack a smile, to shed a tear or to knot up and cringe but whatever the emotion they are always there lurking; waiting to surprise us; as did happen to me just yesterday.

I was driving into Nashville to meet my sister and my mother. We were driving east to spend the afternoon with my daughter who attends college in a sweet little town about an hour drive away. Before I could reach the meeting point, I was immediately dropped into a time when my sister and I were about five and eight years of age. We were visiting my grandmother for the weekend. My uncle and my aunt came to visit also. They were always so sweet to entertain us girls when we came for a weekend and this day they wanted to take us to the store to buy candy. Can you imagine our excitement? Back in that time, this was a real treat. We usually had to save our pennies and bottle refund money in order to have candy money but this day we required neither because we were being treated.

My uncle and aunt always had the coolest sports cars and this day we were piling into a 60’s model Mustang coupe, two adults in the front seats and two stringy haired, freckle faced girls in the back seat. Before I took my seat, my uncle barked “Watch your fingers!” but before I could watch my fingers, he slammed the door shut. Ouch! I screamed in agony and all ounce of color left my uncles face. He quickly opened the door, examined my purple fingers and carried me into the house. He doctored my wounds and wiped my tears. Lucky for me, nothing was broken. I can’t say that for my uncle. I think his feelings were broken.

They went onto the store without me and I stayed with my grandmother and kept my fingers wrapped in ice. A short time later they returned with candy. I found that sugar heals. Opening my very own little brown bag of sweetness, my hand hurt no more.

I have no clue why I recalled this memory on this particular day in this particular moment but it happened. It showed up without expectation. It was a memory that had taken root and some twenty plus years later I still have it stored in this head of mine. Perhaps it’s because I am trying not to rush through the seasons of my life anymore. I am trying to savor everything, every thought and every event and memory. I’m sure if my uncle had it to do over on that day he would have taken his time to get us loaded into the car and on our way. Let us enjoy the simplest tasks and not rush…delight in the “getting there” as much as the “being there”.