Fragile

When I was 22, on the eve of my birthday, I was a passenger in a serious car accident.  When merging onto a road off an expressway exit ramp, we hit an icy spot.  Since we were accelerating to merge, the car fishtailed across the lanes and hit the cement median on the front left of the car.  The car ‘bounced’ and slammed against the medium, coming to rest with the driver’s side against the cement median.

The car frame was bent, I was bleeding (I bit my lip upon impact), and the car filled with smoke.  I thought: “I survived the car wreck only to die in a fire.”  Luckily, it was the powder from the air bag deploying and the ‘smoke’ dissipated. I feel lucky to have survived the crumpled wreck.

I recall when Job in the Bible loses everything and has to start over.  I have thought about people having ‘Job moments’ when things turn topsy turvy.  For me, this was a ‘Job moment’.   I have looked at my life after this time as borrowed time.  I was living for a reason.  I must not have fulfilled my purpose and was kept here.  I would be grateful for the opportunity.

Last month, I visited the Oklahoma memorial museum.  As I learned about the Oklahoma City bombing and the individual stories of those who gave their lives and those survivors, one story stood out to me.  In the corner of a room was a framed dress.  The person’s name tag was on it and the calf length dress had one ‘V’ shaped tear at the hip the size of a quarter.  What was remarkable about the dress with a small rip in it?  The women’s colleagues all perished in the bombing; she was the sole survivor of her area.  And she survived with only a small tear.

It was like being touched and saved almost unscathed.  Everything would feel different, but saved.

I was brought back to my own ‘Job moment’ when I realized I lived and would try to redeem my life by living fully and kindly.  I know I have been redeemed, but this is a gratitude for the gift of life.  Now, I try to think, “Why not me?” instead of ‘Why me?”  In good times and bad.

Have you had a ‘Job moment’?  What did you learn from the experience?

-Elle

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Doing the Difficult

I wanted to update on an earlier blog post about advocating for your own health care.  After going to 4 doctors, my abdominal ‘lump’ was deemed irregular tissue.  I don’t need to worry about or get cut out.  No follow up appointments.  Apparently, even the fat on my stomach wants to be individually unique.  It was a scary few months getting insurance approval for the next doctor, getting an appointment, and waiting.  Waiting can be the worst (at least for me who wants answers NOW).

We face events we don’t look forward to or decisions we don’t want to make.  Delay can seem like a good option.  It is not.

When you face difficult times, build in incentives for yourself.  I may delay a pleasant activity until I complete the difficult one.  I got a Groupon for a facial and booked the appointment for after my doctor’s appointment.  That way I had something to look forward to.   No matter what the news was, I had something to look forward to that day.  Or, I may go through the mail when I get home, but set aside the magazine until after I’ve organized the junk drawer that has been screaming for help.  Taking a walk, checking out a book at the library, volunteering at your favorite charity- these are all ways to ‘treat’ yourself while not breaking the bank.

Build in incentives to get you through difficult times and help you achieve your goals. Whether that is a difficult meeting, decision, or lifestyle change.

What are you delaying doing right now?  What can you do today to achieve it?  And, what is the incentive you will ‘treat’ yourself to after you’ve completed it?

You can do it!  Be your best.

-Elle

The Process

This week was Halloween, but do you know what is really scary to some people?  Silence.  A tech-free environment.  Spending an hour unconnected.

Do you engage silence?  I find that, when I don’t want to face what is going on, I bombard myself with busy-ness.

I overcommit.  I pick up my phone and search the internet when I get up.  I get into my car and turn on music.  I work full, long days.  I volunteer or meet up with people in the evenings.  I watch TV before bed.  There is little quiet, little contemplation.

A friend told me about a retreat she went on.  She took a long weekend and a convent hosted a retreat where everyone had their own room and the weekend was focused on silence and working on yourself.   Even the meals were silent, guests sitting mixed amongst the nuns who live there.  She said she felt so refreshed from having time to reconnect with her spirit and rest and notice all that was around her.   It sounds similar to books that I’ve read where people have gone to ashrams in India or the Boundary Waters in Minnesota and had an extended period of silence.

Be careful to avoid feeling by overcommitting or being constantly busy.  You can’t heal unless you deal with your emotions.

We get too little rest in overcommitting to tasks to try to mask the pain by being busy.  We may avoid others and stay inside as an escape of awkward interactions.  We may take in too many calories to eat our feelings, covering our hurt with food that doesn’t fuel our life.  Whatever your coping mechanisms are, be cognizant of what that or those are so you can try to actively work through those.  You can’t cover your feelings- deal with them so you can have a productive and contented life.

Settle in, feel your feelings, and work through them.  Your future you will thank you.

 

-Elle

All of Me

I won’t let sadness steal you from my arms

I won’t let pain keep you from my heart

I’ll trade the fear of all that I could lose

For every moment I’ll share with you

 

You’re gonna have all of me

You’re gonna have all of me

‘Cause you’re worth every falling tear

You’re worth facing every fear

You’re gonna know all my love

Even if it’s not enough

Enough to mend our broken hearts

But giving you all of me is where I’ll start

 

Heaven brought you to this moment, it’s too wonderful to speak

You’re worth all of me, you’re worth all of me

So let me recklessly love you even if I bleed

You’re worth all of me, you’re worth all of me

All of Me-  Matt Hammitt

 

 

I went into foster placement with a guarded heart.  I didn’t want to open myself up to hope that I would be their mother. But I saw that I had to open myself up to the pain to give them everything they deserved.  The love of attachment and the umbrella of a mother’s heart to encourage growth.

I remember when my son came and he scraped his knee.  He stood up and stood, back to me, crying softly.  He couldn’t be consoled.  Life had taught him that he was alone and he was crying to himself.  I went over and hugged him, but he just stood, shoulders slumped and stiffened at my hug.

Months later, he had tripped and fell.  When he stood up, he ran to me for a hug.

Like the song lyrics above, it wasn’t enough to mend their hearts from the loss and brokenness they had already experienced.  But, he had turned a corner and accepted love and comfort.

And, it was worth every tear to give them all my love.  They are worth it.

 

Whatever path you have chosen, or wherever you are in life, give all of yourself.  Living with your whole heart will bring meaning to your pursuits.

 

-Elle

 

Love and Consequences

When someone uses the word reckless, I think of something negative like reckless driving.  Something dangerous to those on the receiving end of the action.

Google defines reckless as:“Without thinking or caring about the consequences of an action.”

I recently sang the song ‘Reckless Love’ by Cory Asbury in church and the words struck me.  He uses the word reckless , but in a positive way.  Jesus is reckless with his love that he loves us without thinking about the consequences to HIMSELF.  Instead of being reckless with us, God is reckless with his own life.

“Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights ’til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn’t earn it, and I don’t deserve it, still, You give Yourself away”- Cory Asbury

The song’s words struck me and I found myself watching different versions on YouTube later that day.  Words have power and flipping the meaning of a word I’ve heard of only in a negative context really made an impact.

Did you ever read the Bible story about leaving 99 sheep to find the one wandering sheep?  If you think about that- that choice, that action is reckless.  I would stay with the 99.  But not God.  He pursues to his detriment.  Giving his life.

When I see sherbet pink and orange skies in the morning, or a field bright with blooming flowers, I think- God is an artist that woos me.  He paints the sky to bring something fleeting and breath takingly beautiful to us.

May you feel God’s reckless love in this next beautifully fragile, fleeting week.

 

-Elle

The Show Up Committee

Women need to advocate for their own care.  This time I’m talking about self care.

We work full time, grocery shop, clean, do laundry, organize, coordinate appointments and social schedules, and send out birthday/Christmas cards/gifts.  For me, it means giving up sleep to get things done during peak times.

I have joked with my husband about wanting to be on the ‘Show Up Committee.’  The ‘Show Up Committee’ is one where you just show up to an event with no pre-planning.  The day of the event, you simply get dressed and show up carefree of any tasks, errands, or responsibilities.  For holidays, birthday parties, and gatherings– I coordinate what we  bring, shop for it, make the dish(es), buy the gift, pick up a card, and wrap everything.   My husband has been on more than his fair share of Show Up Committees.

But, we switched roles for the 4th of July this year.  He wanted to host an event and I didn’t have time.  I couldn’t commit and he said he’d do everything.   EVERYTHING.  We had packaged salads, but he made burgers and had several options.  It was hard to let go of the planning, but it was so nice to be on the Show Up Committee.  I was able to get some extra time and even skipped the parade to enjoy some solitude on the porch.

Make sure you voice your needs.  No one knows your schedule and capabilities better than you.  I tend to be the Martha rather than Mary; stewing in my own juices while doing things without joy.  I found that when I voiced my needs, we had a happy holiday.  I needed to give up expectations and embrace the partnership.

Make sure you take time to heal, rest, and recover.  I hope you get a spot on the Show Up Committee one of these days.

Remember, you are important.  You are the only You this world has.

 

-Elle

Your Best Advocate

Women need to advocate for their own care.  I’m talking about health care.

In my family, women are the caregivers.  Most of us handle family scheduling, keeping track of house supplies, making doctor’s appointments for other family members (or parents).

Make sure to advocate for your own health.  Insurance can deny claims outright, causing you time and energy to dispute a claim or an approval.  It can be daunting to dispute approval for the test your primary care doctor has ordered.   And there is only so much time to get everything scheduled; for you, for the family, for those commitments you can’t change.  But make sure to advocate for your own health.

Ask questions.  Talk to your doctor.  Talk to your insurance company.  Talk to an expert.

I recently found a lump in my abdominal area and I’m in the process of going for a third test.  My family has a history of cancer and I don’t take this lightly.  When I went in for the MRI last weekend, the assistant walking me back wanted to verify my name and birthdate.  I could barely squeak out my name.  He had been two paces ahead of me and looked back like I wasn’t who I said I was because I didn’t have the information on the tip of my tongue.  “I’m sorry,” I said “I’m nervous.”  The lump isn’t ON an organ and it isn’t ON the skin.  It’s under the skin, in the ‘soft tissue’ which seems to be no one’s domain.  So, I’ve talked to my primary care physician, questioning when the advice didn’t sound right.  Followed up with my insurance company.   Circled the wagons, pounded the pavement.  Googled and looked online.

It can be difficult to fit everything in.  But, carve out the time.  I’ve used my lunch time to make phone calls.  I’ve used hands free speaker phone to make phone calls on my commute.  I’ve found providers who open at 6 a.m. or have night/weekend appointments so I can save my days off for vacations and family time.

Outside of health scares, make sure you get your yearly checks- physicals, exams, tests. You are important.  You are the only You this world has.

 

-Elle

A Rule of Three

I operate on the belief that 3 things can go on before further follow up is needed.  Things shows up in life in 3s all the time.

While a 4 leaf clover is lucky, a 3 leaf clover is plentiful.

The Holy Trinity- Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

A three ring circus

Well, the last one doesn’t conjure up order.  I have, however, come up with a personal rule of three in my life.  I will give things 3 chances.

In business, I allow three email exchanges before I will come to your desk or pick up the phone to get clarification.  If three exchanges doesn’t solve the issue, we need a face to face to discuss/ iron out open items.   By speaking directly to the person, we can talk through thing and make sure we understand each other when written words aren’t cutting it.  The rule of three is great for communication.

In trying a new exercise class or activity, I will try it three times to see if I like it (or don’t).  I won’t count a craft out if I don’t get it on the first time.  And I tell myself I won’t die of embarrassment when I move left when the WHOLE room goes right at a first Zumba lesson.  Instead, I’ll retry it.   I won’t allow one bad (or awkward) experience to sour the activity.  The rule of three is great for self improvement.

In addition, I can’t have more than 3 crafts at any given time.  I have discovered the joy of learning a new skill from YouTube, friends, books, and classes.  I have enjoyed scrapbooking, knitting, sugar scrubs, soap making, baking, and painting.  But there is a limit to storage and expenses.  I have to get rid of supplies for one before I can pursue another.  Which means, I have to be ready to embrace a cost of the goods I currently have before I can take on something else.   The rule of three is a budget and clutter friendly rule.

What rules do you make for yourself?  What self made rules do you live by?

-Elle

Road Trips

My friend from high school is getting married.  She’s too close to fly (in my opinion) but is several hundred miles away.  So, my husband and I are taking a long weekend and driving out.

The best part of road trips is the actual journey.   Road trips allow for stopping at odd attractions and interesting restaurants.  I always pack great road snacks so you don’t have to stop if you don’t want to.  But, I also wonder around truck stops just to see what merchandise they stock and sell.  Truck stops stock everything from stuffed animals to beef jerky to household goods.

I enjoy leaving early while it is still dark.  This avoids traffic and makes the most of the time (since I usually have a hard time sleeping the night before from the excitement of the trip ahead).  The road is quiet and everyone is settled.  You can talk to your road trip companion or take a quiet nap before the sun comes up.

Having a car, you can take extra things.  You can pack extra shoes or mementos you wouldn’t be able to fit into a carry on (or checked) bag.  A cooler is great to bring water and great to have to bring back cheese/fruit you picked up on the way home.

I’m looking forward to visiting with my friend over the long weekend, catching up, and seeing how I can serve her as she gets married.

Do you enjoy road trips?  What has been your best road trip?

-Elle

The Story

“All of these lines across my face, tell you the story of who I am.

So many stories where I’ve been and how I got to where I am.

But these stories  don’t mean anything when you’ve got no one to tell them to.

It’s true- I was made for you.”   -Brandi Carlile

 

What is your story?  Have you spoken it?

 

To celebrate a successful project completion, some co-workers went out for lunch.

We were talking about various topics and then started talking about how we met our husbands.  The first co-worker met her husband in grad school.  The second co-worker met her husband at a previous place of employment.  “I met my husband at a swing dance lesson,” I said.

“How fun,”  my co-worker said.  “Do you still dance?”

“Just for fun.  We did take a community class on ballroom dancing as well.  But it’s just for fun.”

And then I got to thinking about ‘our’ story and how unique it is.  Everyone’s story is unique.   And, now that we’ve been married for a long while, it generally doesn’t come up how we met.

And I reminisce about that fall night.  Walking in with friends to try swing dancing.  It was fun to be catching up with high school friends several years after graduating.  After dinner, we headed to the lesson and were partnered up with a guy.  We switched partners every few minutes.  One of my dance partners was my husband- who was outgoing and was light hearted (laughing at himself when a dance move went wrong).

He approached me after the lesson, as I had moved on several partners.    We set up meeting for dinner and miniature golfing.

It was a sweet memory.  Now I can tell you from a look what he is thinking.  And he can tell you from a pause on the phone what I am thinking.  I don’t know all of him- that will be a lifelong task; but I know his heart. . . .and he has mine.

We all have stories.  Stories of love, loss, triumph, and tragedy.  Do you tell your story?  You should- it is uniquely yours.

-Elle