Blog-tember Challenge: Mood Board

Instead of a mood board I decided to share my Vision Board that I created as part of my work through this book:

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For the past 1-2 years, I have been dealing with another bout of depression which I am sure was fueled by the stress of so many changes in my life this past year. This past summer my goal was to get healthy and one of the things in my functional medicine doctor’s plan was to read this book. The author’s point was to become a Visionary not a Critic (pp. 24-26): “While the critic whispers incessantly to you about your shortcomings, all that is wrong, and how hard you must work to change, …the visionary knows who you really are, identifies with your basic goodness, and has specific longings just for you.”  The book said to create a Vision Board by first reflecting on what hopes you have in going through this workbook. Then, by cutting out pictures from magazines that speak to these hopes and your vitality. As a former artsy crafty person, it was fun to be creative and take the time to do this for myself. So this is what I came up with.

img_0004The book asks, “What does your vision board tell you about your deepest longings and intentions for yourself on this journey to resilience?”

My deepest longing is to be free from self-sabotage brought about by my incessant self-judgements. When I strip away all this negative judgement I am left with the person I really am, even if I don’t feel like I am her. That’s why I included affirmations such as “I am free from fear; I am full of peace” and “I have the courage to change.”  They feel so very far from true-like it’s almost wrong to say them. But by not saying them, I am not true to myself and I continue along the sad road of self-sabotage. Along with the Scripture verses, “I am precious and honored” and “I am chosen, holy and Christ’s heir”-they don’t feel real, but I must fight to believe them.

I also included comforting and serene pictures to remind me that I am someone who longs for peace, rest and comfort. And it’s okay to have these things. Because when I experience them, I can then give them to others.

I included pictures and quotes about healing because true healing is not the absence of pain or disease; that’s just a cure. True healing is a mental state that shows I am resilient and have the ability to find joy in tough times.

I also included a picture of a snowman because it reminds me of the innocence of childhood and brings me back to my memories of childhood.  This is a reminder that it’s okay to be nostalgic, to receive soothing comfort from the past. While I find joy in my memories, I also desire to be creating new memories by experiencing beauty in the present moment. Because by remaining focused on the past or future, I am contributing to my old patterns of stuckness and self-sabotage. This reminds me that life is about a balance.

The book finally asks to come up with an intention statement for yourself as you go through this book. My intention as I continue along the road of healing is:

I allow myself to become who I truly am by letting go of the fear of change and of becoming this new person. I allow myself to let go of the things that overall don’t matter but instead embrace all of the beauty in my self, others and Creation.

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Back on dry land…and still conquering fears

Well, a lot has been going on with me since I got back from sailing. Or not. It would appear that not a lot is going on externally. But, wow, have things been changing internally. I wish I could be free to tell you all about it. But alas, no matter how private I make a blog, I still would not be okay just letting it all hang out. So if we have a relationship and you really want to know the deep dark depths of my soul, I will tell you. But you have to be willing to hear it. And there are probably only a hand select few that are…

Anyway, I can talk about some things. It’s so interesting how life stands still yet is crazy busy at the same time. Soon I will leave the standstill for the crazy busy. It is my last Friday before I start teaching again. I have enjoyed this summer so much. As I have stated before, I try to challenge myself each summer (e.g. the retreat I went on).

The sailing trip, although not super authentic (since we only put the sail up one out of three days) was still ultra hard for me and great experience. The main thing I hated endured liked was that I was surrounded by people in a rather confined space (the cabin of the 35 foot sail boat). I liked it because it caused me to really suffer, but in the end, I was better for it. The cabin was so tiny you would walk forward and be brushed on the left side by the table and on the right side by the bench. I was to sleep way in the front of the boat, the bow, next to my friend Linda. The two “beds” made a V. It was a little tight but rather cozy.

I liked being alone in the cabin. I noticed my heart rate was down and I was so much freer and lighthearted (this is typical for me-having limited space and feeling trapped especially when people are around is a huge contributor of my anxiety) . One day everyone was sitting on deck finishing lunch and I was below deck, listening to the extroverts gleefully chat away. People would hand me condiments, dishes, trash, whatever from above and I would gladly throw it, stow it, wash it, whatever.  I was happy as a lark in that kitchenette corner of that mini cabin. I guess this alone time was me getting my “fix” so that I would be geared up for the next challenge.

One of those challenges occurred on the first day, when Captain Joan informed me that I would be helping put up the sail. Internally, I was dismayed, thinking, what kind of vacation is this? I thought I would just be sitting around letting everyone else do the work. But, of course, the good hearted person that I am, I agreed.  Helping with the sail forced me to walk around on a jerky boat with no hand holds. Since I am not the most balanced person, I prepared myself for the worst: falling over board. The worst would be the feeling of falling and the cold water. But I knew I wouldn’t die and I had dry clothes on board so that was so reassuring. I was also in charge of doing the ropes when we “parked” the boat at each port. Captain Joan was a calm, patient and insightful teacher! She said I did a great job so that was encouraging. Plus, I never fell overboard. What a relief!

I liked touring the islands. Stockton Island was beautiful; it seems so unreal with all the spectacular flora and fauna that has now been preserved for over 30 years. I enjoyed some time away from the group and, as I hiked, I realized: as long as I am not lost (and fully prepared for hunger, thirst, bugs, bears, etc.) I LOVE THE WOODS! Especially being alone and being a part of something as untainted as this island: bright green moss, waving branches, scrambling critters, chattering birds, and the marvelous gray expanse of Lake Superior. Sadly, it was a gray day…

But we finally had sunshine the last two days (including my birthday!) The sky was spectacular! Probably out of all things in nature, I love sky and clouds the most! I could stare at a sky all day if my conscience would allow it. So it was an amazing birthday present.

Being with the group was great too. I especially like one-on-one conversations, so I tried to seek each person out and get to know him or her individually. It was kinda challenging! But I did learn about each person.

However, after (and maybe a little during) the trip, I said to myself, I will probably never do that again (that is, go on a boat for that many days with a bunch of people I don’t know), and I realized that’s okay! It was a great experience and I’m so glad I did it!

Since then, I’ve also done a couple other things that are challenging, such as being more involved in a new church I’ve been attending, agreeing to be the solo musician for a close friend’s wedding, making time for friends and family, writing (A LOT).

The biggest challenge was yesterday when I went to my first ever Ultimate Frisbee game. Yes, to play. Luckily I had a friend come with me. Other than that I knew NO ONE. (It is a Facebook group I am a “member” of). I am not very talented when it comes to sports, but I’ve always liked Frisbee. It was worse than I expected.  Everyone was so phenomenal. As we began to toss the disc around, my heart and thoughts were racing. I proceeded to make a total fool of myself because I have horrible performance anxiety. It didn’t help that almost everyone was a guy. What a great way to make a good impression, I thought, as I wobbled and whipped the Frisbee in all directions at one point hitting a little four-year-old (the son of one of the guys) in the head.

Yes, I know. Totally humiliating. My stomach is flopping as I remember it. I tried not to compare myself with everyone including the four-year-old who was a whiz at Frisbee. Instead, each time I attempted to throw the disc (not pretty), I kept telling myself, “Take it like a man” (i.e. don’t let them know you’re embarrassed) and reminding myself that God loved me and my worth did not depend on my Frisbee skills. But when we eventually started playing the game, it was much better and I enjoyed myself. And everyone was really friendly. (I would not have been so friendly and understanding to myself if I were one of them.) Luckily, most of the cute guys came later and they never saw how horrible I actually was. Ha ha.

Anyway, it might sound harmless, but to me it really was a big deal that I went because it demonstrated I can face my fears! And I never want to let fear get in the way of what I want to do, mainly have fun, enjoy life and build relationships with others.

Soon I will be starting my fourth school year (in this job) and my seventh year as a teacher! Wow, I can’t believe it! I can’t wait to see what other challenges lie in store for me! But for now, I’ll just sit and enjoy the chattering, fluttering chickadees, woodpeckers, sparrows and cardinals; watch my journal pages ripple in the wind; hear my calming wind chimes;  feel the breeze soothe my skin; hear how it rushes through the leaves. Aah, another heavenly moment of summer.

An Adventure Starts Today

I am about to embark on a new adventure. I have always challenged myself to do things that scare me. That’s one good thing about me. I don’t let my incessant fears and worries keep from doing (too many) things. Today I am “killing three birds with one stone.” As I’ve told people when explaining why this trip is exctiing and a big step for me.

The three  “stones” are

1) It is a writing retreat. A goal of mine has been to go on a writing retrreat of some sort.

2) We are going to the Apostle Islands. I’ve always wanted to visit there. I’ve heard it’s beautiful! I love traveling in general, but when it has to do with water and sunshine (hopefully), I am even more interested!

3) We are going sailing! Doing something I’ve never done before is a goal I have for each summer (and winter)! For about a year now,  I have thought sailing sounded fun. I feel safe knowing we are going with a trained Skipper.

Besides, my three goals I am fulfilling, I am also excited to get to know the “crew” better. They are members of my writing group I wrote about before. There are six of us going ranging in age from 29 (me) to 72!  I am excited to be challenged by them (I am always challenged by being in groups) and learning from their wisdom. Plus, we are all writers, musicians, artists, so have so many things in common. Finally, I am looking forward to growing personally in my faith in Christ and his power (especially through creation), through my writing and through my time of fellowship in an exotic environment.

I’m finally learning that God wants me to have joy and to enjoy my time on Earth. It’s been a slow realization but one I’ve started opening up to especially these last few years, since He helped kick depression out of my life. So here I go! I’ll let you know what I’ve learned. I have a feeling that something amazing will happen and I may not realize it for many weeks, months, years?? afterwards. God is such an awesome God and continues to work in every little (and big) moment in my life, whether I realize it or not. The great thing is that lately, I have been more in tune to Him and how he is working and how He has always been a steady presence in my life.

The Path

Staring at the screen of my life

Wondering what I am doing

Am I making a difference

For those who will come

Those who are watching me

Those I leave behind?

Who are those I long for?

Who do not even exist yet?

I long to hold one in my arms

My very own blood

Running through her veins

Fear grips me to think I can lead

They will follow whatever I do

So what will I do?

Where will my footsteps take me?

I mouth the words for the little ones

To repeat

I hear my mistakes echoed in their precious tones

My heart aches knowing she will be led astray

If I step off the path

His little hand copying exactly what I do

Oh Lord, I long to lead these little ones

Toward the lamplit path

Where they can know Truth

My words come out and they don’t stop

Tones that seem out of my control

Chattering and blubbering

Are my words daggers to their little souls?

Or are they salve to soothe the broken edges?

Teach me so my roots run deep into Yours

So my words are not my own

My laugh is free

And my hands are full of grace

My lips form clear truth

Kindness etched in the aftertones

My feet carry me to heights

Out of this world

So my followers are mesmerized

By what they can see above the clouds

I stand here amazed at the power in

Hands and eyes and feet and body

I don’t have to wait

For my very own

I can start to lead today


(written with prompt of “post”)

Woman on a Bed

I decided to abandon the 30 questions. Big surprise! If I need to get inspired, I can refer back to them but something different for now…

Half naked body in the heat of a summer-warmed house. Laying here: a speck in a vast expanse of time and space. Fan flitting wisps of hair, ruffling a blouse hanging on a chair. A woman on a bed. Half curled, longing. She is just a body on a bed. A mess of cells and skin with woman parts. Who sees her?

I see her from a distance and inside her mind I hear their wails, their horror-filled eyes, their empty hearts, their stopped blood-flow and forced breath, their will to press on in the midst of a fucked up world: a ball of matted confusion, all because something evil entrapped a body and mind and he went on a killing spree. His actions the reason for their empty souls and a nation shaken with disgust and incredulity and at the same time a deep down feeling of “I’m not that surprised.”

The towns of Aurora and Littleton and the nation that is so-called “free” and “united” and “under God” yet we seem to have our own brand of problems. Diseases of chaos, poverty, perversion.

She lays there at the mercy of a world so out of her control. At the will of a mind so active and a body that seems to do what it wants when it wants. Her brain and heart continue to war on and on. Can she be known as more than what they want? What she perceives herself to be? 

They see a woman as curves and moves and soft skin and finger tips. But who will notice her will; her passion; her drive for beauty, creativity, simplicity; and life and her commitment to her dreams, however shattered they seem? 

She is just a body laying there. She wants to be held with no expectation to give. She just wants to know her existence matters in this world of chaos, confusion, a world of massive killings that take away what is real: enchanting beauty; endearing, spectacular moments that you will never get back. How can this be the same world, so empty and full at the same time; so clear yet so bewildering; so tangible yet complex; so full of love, kindness, and beauty yet wrought with murder, depravity and despair.

Somewhere she lays. In a far off bed with cheek against tear-stained pillow.

I look into a blue sky with powder white clouds, cruising. Where are they off to? With birds and dragonflies and bees off in their own little worlds, their nonexistent brains keeping them free from confusion and the hate, that we as nameless humans are trapped in. Flitting about from leaf to leaf, zooming up and down and around the clouds, I long to have their freedom for just one moment.

Whether on the grass or on my bed, I will forever be a jumbled up mess, a mind constantly shifting with its longings, questions, quests, dreams, hopes, images. I can see insider her brain: images of peace. And I can feel it in her body: deep breath that feels like heaven. And I hear it in her ears: You can always have a moment like this. You must search for it. You must take time out for it. You need it to survive.

Written 7/21/12 inspired by my mind and the Aurora, CO shooting

Old and New, New and Old

There is no way I haven’t written since April!!!!

It seems my last post from a few weeks ago was deleted…Are there any bloggers out there that can help me figure out if my post is retrievable or actually lost in virtual world???

Anyway, I could try to be “good” writer and try to make myself look good but I would rather just write. I was inspired by my dear cousin Becca who finally started on her blog again. I thought to myself, if she can do it (have a set of 8-month-old twins), I can too!

Life is busy as always with its twists and turns, highs and lows, delights and challenges. I have been embracing life in a whole new way as I have discussed in a few other posts (including the one that got deleted.) Sometimes it feels like a “new” me because, lately, I have gotten lots of “new” things: a new car, a new piano, a new boyfriend to name a few. And soon I’ll have new phone and in just a few months-a Masters Degree! I look at my life and I realize how blessed I am…I just cannot contain my appreciation for life. My melancholy personality may not be reflective of this. But sometimes the things that stir inside of me are too deep to put into words so often I just don’t even try to explain my thoughts.

Underneath all the “new” is the same old me and the Spirit that sustains me. As always, my fears are in my shadow clawing at me and lying to me. But lately my relationship and connection with God have been restored! I don’t really know what happened…maybe it was a “phase” or has something to do with my moods and ever-fluctuating brain chemicals. Or maybe God wanted me to go through a “trial.” I don’t really care. I am so grateful because the doubts I was having were so suffocating; I feel like I can finally breathe again!

Again and again I feel it in my soul: even if I lost everything, I can be fully and completely whole, having this one relationship with the One who gave me Life. Sometimes it’s a fleeting thought, but it’s there and this knowledge keeps my fears at bay. I am very aware that this might sound cliche and “Christiany” but I can’t stop my soul from speaking.

More to come…

Dreams and Fear

A cool breeze flowing into my window, not too unlike my thoughts. However, this breeze is calm and directed and peaceful and purposeful. My mind, on the other hand, races and my scattered musings only leave me empty and desperate for something I feel I will never receive. I am longing to be good, really effective, at something. And I know my fear and perfectionism are holding me back as always…

Tonight I am borderline passionate…I am desperate for words. My words from somewhere deep. They are inside me and refuse to get out and it’s killing me. I want to write to put my meaningless groans, my profound joy, my very soul into some semblance of human language. But I don’t even try to write, to create anymore because I am so terrified of letting myself down. I hate how I have to be this way. I want to be free to be myself, to let myself have fun even if I’m not amazing at it, to just enjoy enjoying life instead of always analyzing how well I’m performing…

I don’t even write on here very often for this exact reason. I am actually quite a happy person, however down I sound. I am just frustrated with myself.

I tried to play the violin tonight to get creative juices flowing. It helped, I guess, because I am on here writing! As I was playing songs I used to play when I was eleven years old, I wish I could say I was focusing on the moment, the beautiful sound of notes, magically created by horsehair against wire, resonating out of a wooden eight-shaped object. But I wasn’t. I started to think of all the “skills” I supposedly have, but feel in my heart, what’s the use? There’s always someone who can do it better. I thought of making cards and writing and music and Spanish and teaching and working with people with special needs…I wish there was something I was just amazing at. But I just scratch the surface on millions of little things.

Then I think of things I want to pursue because I get invigorated when thinking about them, like birdwatching and traveling and theater and live music and cooking and playing ultimate frisbee. I hate this fear that is suffocating me. The fear that blockades my joy, yelling at me, saying, “What would people think?” or “You’re almost 28 years old and you’re going around playing frisbee. That’s seems immature” or “You have too much anxiety. Might as well play it safe.”

Part of this has to do with the fact that I’m single and I don’t know what my role is. I want to be there for my friends and siblings and all their little babies and crazy lives. At the same time, I want to do my own thing. I have many years ahead of me to be a wife, a mom, and a crazy busybody homemaker. Right now I want to suck the marrow out of life…for the first time in my life, I am really excited about what life (on earth) has to offer. I’ve always loved the idea of heaven and escape but God is finally revealing to me what beauty he has given me on earth.

How do I escape this fear that keeps digging its claws into me, wrapping me up tighter and tighter til I’m incapacitated. Oh too late. I guess I’m not going to pursue this dream of mine because the deadline passed or I’m too old or I’m too busy or I’m too poor. I’m sick of all my stupid excuses. I just want to grow some balls already and get out there, experience life with no regrets. I know this is all a little against my conservative, analytical nature. So I should give myself a little grace and understanding. I will focus on the little gains I am making to reach my dreams. Like, I actually wrote on my blog today. And I am not going to analyze it, and rant and rave in my head about it. I’ll try not to at least.