Transforming My Life

one day at a time


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Returning Home to Yourself This Christmas

Christmes-Scene-Animated-christmas-16186036-640-480My house is a mess.  Only half of my Christmas shopping is done and I haven’t  baked any cookies yet.

And since my son got home this week from college, it seems like all we have done is watch a whole lot of tv (and for me, eat a whole lot of store bought cookies!).

This morning as I write this, I find myself feeling panicky, guilty even.  This isn’t what “it” is suppose to look like.  I better snap to!  Get out the Monopoly game!

These are the gremlin voices that tell me I am blowing it, my kids are going to grow up disappointed, what’s wrong with me and why am I not doing a better job?  I’m blowing Christmas!

Then there is another voice.  One I often ignore.  This voice whispers quietly to me, so softly I must take the time to slow down and listen.  This is the voice I long to hear, it is loving, kind, reassuring and compassionate.  It reminds me what is truly important this time of year.

It whispers words of peace and kindness to me.

This is the voice that accepts where others are at, rather than, asserting my will over them.

I am invited into the moment with whomever I am with.  My “to do” list is still there but it has lost it’s power over me.

I am reassured it will get done.  There is abundance rather than scarcity.

I love the words of Brené Brown around this very subject,

The holidays she likens to a holiday circus, where we are the ringmasters, where life can easily become pageantry if we allow it to.

“The best performers make it look balletic and effortless. Of course, there’s no such thing as an effortless holiday show. If you sneak a peek behind most people’s red velvet curtains at holiday time, you’ll often see houses brimming with anxiety, maxed-out credit cards, crying children, and marriages that make the cold war look warm and fuzzy.

I’m convinced that the only way out of this is by cancelling the show. Not canceling the holiday, but giving up the show.”(http://brenebrown.com/my-blog/)

I love this analogy.  Rather than the ringmaster, I picture myself as the lion.  The ringmaster has a whip and is yelling at me to perform.

This causes me pause….Why the lion, and who am I performing for?

My family?  My friends?  Others?  This makes me laugh.  Most of us are too busy performing in our own shows to even notice.

The lion is the victim – no wonder I can become so resentful this time of year.

Could I possibly be performing for a ringmaster of my own making?

Need I forget that a lion can swallow that ringmaster whole?

We are all the ringmasters of our own show.  And we can choose to put down the whip and go home.

Those performance based voices grow fainter as I choose to leave them behind.

When I do, I return home to myself.

Home is where there is acceptance, kindness and peace.  Self-compassion that radiates outward to others.

Home beckons me to come and be.  To sit awhile.  To invite others in where it is safe and warm.

Rather than rush off to the store to get one more present, can I possibly create one, not from a place of performance, but stillness and calm?

To be in the moment and enjoy it.

No rushing around.  No panic.  It’s okay if the shopping isn’t done.  It will get done.  I can ask for help if I need to.

This is the voice that reassures me that my family does not need me trying to control and force them to do the things that I think the “perfect” families do.

Monopoly would be nice.  I can ask for that.  And it’s okay if they don’t want to play, no worries.  I am open to other possibilities.

For today, I am going to make myself at home.  To bask in the warmth and abundance.

What will feel good to me today?  What makes Christmas meaningful to me?

Today I will choose what really matters.  I will be.  Connect.  Accept. And enjoy the moment.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

 

 

 

 


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The Second Week of Advent – A God of Peace

319510714_6aa4f536cc_z-2Do you have something that you are facing now that is creating anxiety for you?  A situation, a conversation you need to have, unfinished business in your life, or something that you can’t control and you don’t know what to do?  Are you unclear which way to go, how to respond, trying to figure out what is the “right way”, the “wrong way” and afraid you will miss the signs or mess things up?  Me too.

I wanted to share a few quotes that really spoke to me from a newsletter I received from Rick Warren, (http://rickwarren.org)  pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California and author of numerous books,  the most popular one, The Purpose Driven Life.

I need to remember these truths, take them in, and meditate on them.  I need to remember to take one day at a time with God and trust he will guide me.  We don’t need to work SO hard to figure things out.  

Rest in Him.  Peace in Him.  Be with Him.  

Hope you find these quotes as comforting as I do.  

From Daily Hope with Rick Warren….

Peter Lord used to say, “Ninety percent of what God wants to say to you is encouragement.” If all you ever hear from God is negative messages, something’s wrong. The wires have been crossed.  

If you feel overwhelmed or confused about a decision that you’re trying to make, you’re probably caught up in yourself and not God’s voice. The Bible says, “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (1 Corinthians 14:33a NIV). He is not the author of confusion. So if you’re feeling confused, guess what? It’s not God’s voice speaking in your life.

Satan wants to drive us compulsively, but God wants to draw us compassionately. Satan wants to take advantage of our compulsions and use them to drive our lives. But God is our Good Shepherd. He wants to draw us in toward himself and peace.

If you feel like God’s told you to do something but you have increasing anxiety because of it, then the wires are crossed. Something’s not right.

The Bible us, “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT).

Peace, Grace and Happy and Holy Advent Season!!

Sheryl


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Letting Go of Trying to Control

I am struggling.  I am angry and I am sad.


I am in that  place again, between wanting to scream, pull my hair out and cry and then, shaming myself because I don’t want to feel the way I feel because the truth of how I feel isn’t how I think I “should” feel.  Making sense yet? 🙂  Well, if you have been in this place you know what I am talking about.

This is the place I go when I want to control someone else and I can’t.

Wanting to change another person never works.  Never.  So why do we think today would be any different?.

Focusing on someone else is always a distraction to changing me.

You know that whole speck and log in the eye thing?  What is the log that I am ignoring in my own eye?

What  am I wanting to avoid in my life that I am focused on someone else?  This is a great question to ask ourselves.

I can only control myself (this is difficult enough! Breaking old patterns takes commitment and humility).

If we could change those around us, we would never need to change ourselves.   And this is good news because this is how we develop character.

And when we stop trying to change someone else and want to develop our character we will….

You ready?  

We will…..

Take 100% Responsibility for our own life.

Taking 100% responsibility means that you own the fact that you have choices.  You may not be able to change the choices you have made in the past but you can choose how you will respond and what you will do with your future.  If you are unhappy change it.  This means you give up blaming and complaining and take 100% responsibility for you.

“But…”

“But…”

I know, it is easier to make excuses and blame others but this keeps us stuck.  You are not a victim.  I am not a victim.

We may be powerless over someone else,

But

We have the power to change ourselves and to create the life, the relationships and the joy and peace we desire.

But…

We must choose.

 

Until next time….

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

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Stop Trying So Hard

poohquote1Stop what you’re doing.  Take a deep breath and then another.  Relax.  Take the time now to check in with yourself.  What are you feeling?  Where is your tension?  What are you telling yourself is going to happen?  Are you catastrophizing?   Stop.  It is all going to be okay. You have been running around too much today, your mind somewhere else. You do not need to take responsibility for so many things when they do not belong to you.  The fear and anxiety of what will happen if you lay them down.  I know.  It’s scary.  You can do it.  Turn them over.  That’s right, release them.  Surrender.

Matthew 11:28-30 “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (NLT)

All of these burdens are like boulders in our backpacks that we need to lay down.   Many of them have names.

Fear, Hurt, Anger, Disappointment, Shame, Betrayal, Scarcity…..

If we let them go, then what?  We may not get what we want, but maybe we will get what we need.  Can that be okay?   Maybe there is some plan or purpose we are unable to see.  The less we try to force our way, and our will, the more natural life flows and can fall gently into place.  If we will just allow it to.

It may feel like God has abandoned us.  He hasn’t.  He has been here all along.  He is working it out, in His way, in His time.  He knows.  He hears.  He cares.  So relax.  Take a deep breath.  And know….God wants you.

God, help me to trust enough to let go of the things that I am trying to control and bring my “boulders” and burdens to you.  Help me to believe and know that you love me more than I can imagine and you have me and my concerns in the palm of your hand. 

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

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Celebrate Surrender

copy-th3-e1393117170985.jpegLet’s choose to celebrate today.  Surrender this day.  Let’s just try it.  Quit the striving. Believe we are enough.  That there is enough.  Enough time.  Enough of us to do what we need to do.  Enough of God’s loving care to help us through whatever we are facing and going through.

Rest.  

Trust.  

Let go.  Believing God longs to show us compassion and is abounding in love.  If we choose to believe this, maybe we can relinquish some of the control we so desperately hold on to. Worry.  What are we worried about?  “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?”  (Matthew 6:26)  If God takes care of the birds, will He surely not take care of us?  How often I miss the feast because I am too busy making mud pies. (C.S. Lewis said something similar but way better)  We all need a little grace today. Let’s choose grace.  Believe in it.  Live it.  Radiate it.   

Live Abundantly.

Believe there is enough.

You are enough.

Just the way you are.

 

Fix your eyes on what is true, noble and good.

Imagine….

Letting go of who you think you need to be

Embracing who you are.

 

You are worthy of love, belonging and joy.

Stop struggling and striving.

No more perfecting, and performing.

 

Honor vulnerability.

Be.  Where you are now.

Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Let in the love.  Let in the compassion.

The grace in all that is good.

 

Courage to…

Feel, to

Throw off the mask, to live

Free from the expectations of others,

to say no, to say yes, to be true to yourself.

 

Celebrate

who you are.

your children, your spouse.

Picture each of them.

Acceptance, freedom

to be imperfect, flawed,

Permission to be yourselves.

No matter what, you belong.

 

Unique.

Each of us.

Beautiful

Just as we are.

 

Let in the love.  Let in the compassion.

Love with your whole heart truly, deeply,  

And Dare Greatly.

The themes of my poem,  I took from Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, which I love and highly recommend!

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

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Choose Beauty

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Look around you, no matter where you are there is something beautiful there.  Sometimes just by choosing to slow down when you are tired, stressed or upset changes how you perceive the world around you.

Allow yourself to sit down, to close your eyes, to breathe deeply.  Take 5 minutes, a half an hour or a half-day to rest.  No matter if it is a moment or an hour, give yourself the time you need to let go and breathe in the peace and replenishment that you need.  Ask for eyes to see and ears to hear, allowing your thoughts, prayers, and your whole being to choose, that, which is good.

Jesus asked the man, “What do you want me to do for you?” Mark 10:51-52

If we desire to live with full hearts, we must learn to be still and pay attention to what our hearts need. We cannot be expected to give and give and give.  We will only find ourselves burned out, stressed out and resentful.  In order to give we must allow ourselves to receive.

Try practicing this palms up, palms down exercise from Jan Johnson’s book, Practicing The Presence of God.  (Meditation written by me).

Find a quiet place and make yourself comfortable.  Begin to become aware of your breath.  You can close your eyes if you like.  Sit with you palms down and as you breathe, reflect on what it is that you need to surrender today.  Are you tired?  Discouraged?  Do you find yourself weary and overwhelmed, not knowing how you are going to get everything done?  Maybe there an upsetting situation that you find yourself in, something out of your control?  As you continue to breathe imagine yourself releasing these burdens and worries to God, whatever they may be.  As you do this begin to turn your palms up and imagine releasing these to God.

Now, with palms up, allow yourself to breathe in what  you need in this moment from God.

Could it be trust, faith, or a willingness to let go of something you are holding so tightly?  Imagine God lovely standing beside you taking your clenched fist, softly touching your hand and telling you,  “What is it you want me to do for you?”

Picture yourself receiving from God.  Imagine yourself receiving an overflow until your palms can’t contain it!

 “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.” Ephesians 3:20-12 The Message

 May we choose beauty for this day, in this moment.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

Please share with me if these meditations have spoken to you in any way. I would love to hear from you.


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No Shame On You

beautiful_nature_wallpaper_1920x1200“Love is patient” 1 Corinthians 13:4

 “Love never gives up” The Message Version

Most of us are familiar with the passage on love from 1 Corinthians Chapter 13.  We hear it used at weddings, funerals, and in sermons.  We see these sentiments on plaques and anniversary cards.  These words can be so cliché that we don’t take the time to ponder the impact they can have on how we relate to others and ourselves.

I was reminded the other day how impatient I can be with myself.  Arriving at a school field trip to the Des Plaines River with my 7th grade daughter,  I had not realized I needed to wear boots and jeans.  I began to beat myself up as they were sharing how muddy it was, that we needed to douse ourselves with insect repellant and to make sure to check for ticks.  When they began to tell us to look out for the poison ivy and oak,  my face felt flushed and my heart began to sink.  I looked at the other Mom’s as they turned and looked concerned at my athletic skirt and cute, new sporty shoes I had just purchased last week!   I was so embarrassed.  I was reading their minds, “Doesn’t she read the parents page?  What an air head!  What was she thinking? How irresponsible!  Wow, and I thought I was disorganized!”  All these critical voices were shouting at me.  I had to remind myself to fight the shame.  Thankfully my daughter’s friend’s Mom(I have always liked her and now I really like her!) ran me by her house to loan me a pair of boots and jeans.  I was so grateful I could have cried.  I was tempted to beat myself up and try to save face by repeating how stupid I felt, but I didn’t.  I reminded myself to be patient with my shortcomings, to practice self-love and acceptance.  I gave myself the grace to make mistakes and learn from them.

Shame is toxic and we are no match for shame on our own.  We need safe, compassionate others to be patient with us on this journey.  We need to give ourselves the love and grace we desperately need when we feel shame rearing its ugly head.  Those of us who grew up being held to a standard of perfection, where criticism lurked when we made mistakes, are especially vulnerable to these shaming messages.  I often have to remind myself to be conscious as I parent my own children to not shame them when I am tempted to do just that.

Today I will choose to be patient with myself,

To love myself,

 To accept myself,

Right where I am today,

I will give myself the freedom to make mistakes,

to make things right when I am wrong,

I will choose to love myself apart from the approval of others,

and commit to giving and receiving the gift of patience and grace towards my shortcomings,

imperfections and inadequacies, knowing who I am is more than enough.

Today I will be tender with myself.

Today I will give myself the grace, compassion and self-love that I deserve.

For I am a child of God and

I am loved.

Grace and Peace,

Sheryl

 

 


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If we were to change the world….

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If we will awaken to the possibilities of new life, we will open our hearts to a greater understanding of who we are.

If we will open our hearts to a greater understanding of who we are, we will experience the false self we are up against.

If we are willing to experience the false self we are up against, we will choose to take the journey towards humility or not.

If we choose to take the journey towards humility, we will hunger for grace and truth.

If we hunger for grace and truth, we will learn to love ourselves.

If we will learn to love ourselves, we will be willing to surrender to all that holds us captive.

If we are willing to surrender to all that holds us captive, we will be willing to release our fears of abandonment and trauma.

If we are willing to release our fears of abandonment and trauma, we will experience a peace that surpasses all understanding.

If we experience a peace that surpasses all understanding, we will  be touched by God.

If we are touched by God, we will realize we are not alone.

If we will realize we are not alone, we will learn to love.

If we will learn to love, we will desire God’s will.

If we desire God’s will, we will be transformed.

If we are transformed, we will change the world.

If we change the world, the world will return to God.

May we all have the courage.

Grace and Peace.

Sheryl

Concept of this poem taken from the book, The Wisdom of the Enneagram, written by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.  I changed the words to fit for me based on the poem, The Stages of the Work.


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The Power of Gratitude

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“Say thank you, until you mean it.  Thank God, and the universe for everyone and everything sent your way.  Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.  It turns what we have into enough, and more.  It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.”  Melody Beattie, The Language of Letting Go

I am working on practicing gratitude in my life.  It is easy for me to get focused on what is not right in my life, what needs “fixing”.   I  wring my hands and think, oh if only this was different, if only I was better at…., if only they would change.   I can look at my own life and be disappointed and disillusioned with choices I have made, messy and broken relationships and what is not the way I want it to be.

Then I remind myself, oh yes, gratitude….Really?  Do I have to be grateful for this?  Ugh.  I don’t want to.  Misery can feel so comforting to me at times.  I can feel so helpless and powerful all at the same time when I am stuck in this place of self pity.  But it is not kind.  I am learning to be kind to myself.  Gentle with myself.  To show myself grace and compassion.  Trust.  Let go.  Learn.  Grow.  Make the changes I need to make for myself.   And stop looking to change someone else in order to feel okay.  This is a process.  This process takes time.  One day at a time.  One moment at a time.   I can choose to accept and love myself  just the way I am.  I am beautiful, just the way I am.  Being real and broken is a beautiful thing.  The lessons God wants to teach me I am convinced I would not learn any other way.  And if I could choose another path I am not so sure I would  like that way either.

I choose today to be grateful.  To live this one day to the best of my ability.  To love, accept and be kind to myself and to practice extending the same grace to others.  To change what I can and trust God for the rest.  Embrace today, be grateful today, and love.

God, grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change…
Courage to change the things I can,
And Wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Amen.


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what it means to care

The friend who can be

silent with us

in a moment of despair

or confusion,

who can stay with us

in an hour of grief

and bereavement,

who can tolerate 

not knowing, not curing,

not healing,

and face with us 

the reality of our

powerlessness,

that is the friend 

who cares.


HENRI NOUWEN

Out of Solitude

God, I need so much help in this area.  I realize how often I would rather have the answers and make it all better for someone else or tell them what they need to do rather than really listen to their heart.  I know my family would especially attest to this.  Who do I think I am to know better than you or the other person what they need?  Help me to trust the path that you have each person on and to know that each of us has the answers we need within ourselves if we are willing to find them.   Help me to let go and let you be God.  Help me to be the kind of person who is less about me and more about knowing what it means to really listen and to “be” for someone else.  Help me to get comfortable just BEING and not needing to fix it or make it better.  There is nothing more powerful than someone who has been willing to sit with me and allow me to FEEL what I am feeling and have where I am be okay.  In  your name and your power  I pray.  Amen