Monday, June 24, 2019

A Crazy Dream

Have you ever had one of those dreams that wasn't just a dream?  A few weeks ago I dreamed I was standing across the street from Macey's store with my husband and others.  We were waiting for the light to change so we could cross the very busy six-lane road to the store.   I saw the light change and the walk sign turn on.  I started across but soon realized that I was quickly losing momentum and energy.  By the time I got halfway across I could no longer put one foot in front of the other. My husband had not followed.  I knew the light would change soon and I would be in the way of traffic.  I dropped to my hands and knees to continue making progress, but the more effort I exerted, the slower and weaker I got.  The "no walking" sign flashed up and the other light turned green.  I was right in the way in the cross walk.  I wondered if the cars would run over me, but they stayed at a stop while I desperately continued to try to crawl, moving slower and slower all the time.  Finally, finally, I reached the curb, then the sidewalk, the finally the small section of grass between the sidewalk and the parking lot.  I collapsed onto the cool and prickly grass with a deep exhaustion so encompassing that I have only known it while trying to come out of anesthesia or during my carbon monoxide poisoning trying to fight to consciousness.

I laid there unable to move or open my eyes, though I was still conscious.  After a few moments I sensed someone was standing near me.  I didn't think I could open my eyes to see who it was.  Finally I mustered enough energy to open my eyes and tilt my head just a little to see who was there.  It was Jesus.  He smiled and extended his hand out to me to help me up.  I didn't think I could lift my arm, but somehow I did, and as soon as his hand touched mine I received enough energy to stand up.  We began to walk across the parking lot together towards Macey's.  I was extremely surprised how quickly my normal amount of energy returned, allowing me to walk as though nothing at all had happened.  End of dream.

This dream was so real that when I drove past that very spot the next day, I swear if I could have done DNA testing, I would have found evidence that I had actually been in that spot on the grass.

As I pondered this very realistic dream I felt it was a representation of my life right then, and a hope of what was to come.  I had been working an extremely difficult job that was draining the life out of me emotionally and physically.  I often felt that I didn't know if I could keep going.  I was waiting for a very good job to open up when I had this dream, and it had not yet opened.  I felt that emotionally I was "face down" in the grass.  I stayed in that emotional place for weeks.  Finally I was given the opportunity to change to a wonderful new job.  Over the past weeks I have felt myself muster enough energy to open my eyes, and start to rise from the grass.  I don't know if I am walking yet, but I can feel that I am no longer "face down".

I share this dream in hopes that when you have hard times and feel that you are barely hanging on, or are emotionally crawling on your hands and knees across traffic, not knowing if you are going to get run over at any minute, or when you are face down in the grass and are too exhausted to open your eyes and go on, that you will know there is hope.  This is not the end.  Keep alive the hope that someone will come and extend a hand to you to lift you up so you can keep going.  Believe that you can be given new energy, and can receive strength to walk across the figurative parking lot and into the grocery store to be replenished.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Rubbing Shoulders With Royalty

A few weeks ago my husband and I went to a 3-day conference.  As we waited for the doors to open on the first day I noticed a beautiful lady at the front of the line who was wearing a crown.  I assumed that she was there to help present, and was probably local royalty from one of the pageants.  I noticed that she was very friendly with all those around her.  I waited through the conference for her to come to the stage to speak, but she never did.

The second day I again saw her wearing her crown and sitting near the front in the audience.  By now I assumed she was local royalty and had been instructed to wear her crown to all public events.  We happened to end up in the seats right behind her.  Eventually we struck up a conversation with this woman and her husband.  As it turned out, she had not won a local pageant recently, but wore the crown because she had one, and felt prompted to.  I thought that was brave of her. 

As my husband and I got to know this couple over the next two days, I began to notice that she carried herself and acted exactly as you might expect a loving queen to act.  She seemed to want to get to know and love everyone she crossed paths with, just as a good queen would.  She was confident yet humble, interested and invested in all she talked to.  You could actually feel the love she had for you as you talked to her, even though she had never met you before.  I noticed also that people who met her also treated her with great respect and kindness, as though she was truly someone royal.  It was quite the experience.

It struck me that EACH of us really is royal.  Is God not our father and king?  Does this not make us royal as well?  As we sat in the conference room on the last afternoon I imagined that every woman wore a crown, and that we were a room full of royalty.  It took my breath away to imagine this.  It made me feel part of something majestic and important.  It made me feel lucky to associate with those people.

Since then I have tried to imagine a crown on the head of every woman I meet.  (I realize that the men are as entitled to crowns as the women, and I am working up to imagining that as well.)  It is amazing the way you look at someone differently as you imagine them as royalty.  It has changed the way I see and treat people.  It is truly an honor to meet and serve them.  It feels like a privilege.

I realize also that I am better at imagining others as royalty than imagining myself as royal.  This is not unusual for women.  We tend to see our own value last.  This shift is a work in progress.  I have to do it in stages.

I invite you to give this visualization a try.  You may have some amazing realizations.  Try it on the checker at the grocery store, the people you see and associate with every day, and your server at the restaurant, or whomever you come in contact with.  It truly will shift the way you see the world.  Then try imagining it on yourself.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Abundant Thinking

In the past, whenever I would drive anywhere I would park in the more out-lying rows from the entrance of the building, thinking that the closest rows were always full.  I told myself that there were never any spots available close by, so why waste my time driving up and down them and then end up on the more out-lying rows anyway?  So I skipped the driving up and down step and just parked farther away to begin with.  Then I got my current job (described in my last blog post) and now I spend tons of time driving in and out of parking lots and parking my car.  Because I currently get paid according to how fast I get in and out of stores, I am more motivated to park as close as possible.  One day I had a new thought: "Someone has to get those close-by parking spots.  Why not me?"  I decided to take a chance and drive down the row closest to the entrance.  To my surprise and delight I found a completely empty parking spot very close to the entrance.  This tiny success motivated me to try for the good parking spots again....and again.... and again.  As I drive in and out of parking lots all day long, I have discovered that more often than not I can find a close-by empty parking spot, or someone just pulling out of a prime spot at the very time I am driving toward them.  On rare wonderful occasions I have even gotten lucky enough to park right next to the handicapped stalls, closest to the door, something I formerly though completely impossible at all times.

The other day I realized that my thinking about parking spots has changed.  Someone has to get the close spots.  I have come to expect it to be me a great deal of the time.  Why not me?  It is abundance thinking.

I wondered what other areas of my life I need to upgrade my thinking in.

I am trying to get a specific nursing job right now.  There are no openings at the moment, but when one does come open, somebody has to get that spot.  Why not me?

What about this one--somebody has to win those drawings you frequently see people entering.  Why not me?

There are plenty of people who make good money, who are successful in their business ventures.  Why not me?

There are plenty of people whose efforts make the world a better place.  Why not me?  And why not you?

If I think I can never have a good parking spot and I don't even look, I for sure won't get one.
If I think I can never get the prime work position and I don't shoot for it, I for sure won't get it.
If I think I will never win a drawing so I don't enter, I for sure won't win.
If I think I will never have an abundance of money, I won't.
If I think I'm too little of a fish in the sea to make any difference at all, I for sure won't.

I have a young friend who swims competitively.  In a conversation recently she was talking about her regional swim meet, and how the top swimmers would get to go on to the state competition.  She told me she probably wouldn't make it to state.  (What?!)  I enthusiastically told her that if she didn't think she could make it to state, she for sure wouldn't!  I assured her that she needed to be able to see it and believe it in order to achieve it. Abundance thinking.

I have heard many successful people describe how they believed they could achieve what they wanted, how they imagined it over and over again and how it felt, before actually having the abundant success they were now enjoying.

I think there is a lesson for me and you here.  Abundant thinking seems to lead to abundance.  Who would have thought, lol!  I, for one, and ready to put this theory to the test.  Are you?

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Sometimes The Work Isn’t Fun

A month ago I started a temporary job while I am waiting for the Nursing job I really want to come open.  The Nursing job is worth waiting for.  Because this temporary job (not in the medical field) does not pay enough, I am working a lot of hours to bring in the income needed.  I have had to give up a lot of things that brought me great joy, and I feel like I basically do nothing but work, eat and sleep.  This new job is not fun.  It is not in my field of expertise.  It is not something I like or am good at.  In fact, I am not using my talents at all to do this job.  It involves a lot of driving (not my favorite) and hunting for items in unknown locations (definitely not my forte).

The other day as I was doing this unappetizing work I had the thought that my days were just being wasted doing nothing valuable.  As this idea began to grow in my mind I had to question if that was really true.

What is true that the things that felt like they gave my life meaning, and which I have been accustomed to having in my life are not there at the moment.  Does that mean that my days have no meaning, no benefit right now?  Are they truly "wasted days" except for the money they provide?  As I pondered this thought further I realized that even these hard, seemingly wasted days are of benefit.

What I am going through is HARD.  Even so, I realize that when open, I always learn from hard, and any time I’m learning the experience is not a waste. "Okay", I thought, "what am I learning from this hard experience?"  As I racked my brain I realized that I am being forced to make a choice to practice what I preach.....or not; to find good no matter my circumstance.....or not.  Do I really believe what I teach?  When things are tough and don't go as expected, what can I find that is good?

I realized that I am being humbled.  I realized that I am being refined.  It has taken me over a month, but I am starting to learn to find joy in this difficult and unpleasant job.

Are there good things about this job?  Yes, but I have had to look farther than usual to find them.

Will this experience change me in positive ways?  Yes, if I let it.

I know that I can come out of this experience more grateful, more appreciative when my "real" job comes open.  I will have more empathy for people who do this type of work.  I am learning to see the good that I am providing, a service that others need.

I am learning that while I am in a sea of strangers all day every day I can share a smile, be friendly, be a light to those around me in many tiny ways.  I can look for positive around me.  I can enjoy the scenery God has provided while I am driving.  I can appreciate a car that is warm and runs.  I can appreciate having a way to meet our financial needs.  I can feel thankful for a job that lets me work as many hours as I want.

I do not know if I will be doing this job for a week or a year.  I must gear up to find a way to be happy now, because the alternative of trudging through each dreary day unhappily is just one I don't want to live with.  And I don't have to.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Learning to Love Winter

I am one of those people who is always cold.  I LOVE summer because it is when I am the most warm.  Spring and autumn are not too bad, but every fall I absolutely dread winter coming.  I live in Utah where it is winter/cold roughly five months of the year.....that's almost half.  "Why not move somewhere warmer?" you may ask.  Almost all of my family lives here--my parents, sisters, children, grandchildren and friends.  I love our home, our neighborhood and our location, so does my husband.  So this is where we live......but I still always dread winter.  "Dress warmer", you may suggest.  I DO dress warmer.  I wear long underwear in the winter, long sleeves, thick socks, scarves, sweaters and boots.  I still feel cold because the air is cold. 

This fall I got tired of being miserable.  I decided I was going to stop dreading winter.  I was going to find a way to love winter.  There had to be a way.  As the first cold blasts of air started rolling in around the end of October I started looking for what was good about it.  The first thing I noticed was that I was looking forward to drinking hot chocolate.  I love hot chocolate!  Later as I drank my first steaming cup of the season I realized that if it was warm all the time I would never drink hot chocolate.  It's definitely a winter drink. 

As the weather turned colder I got out my heated blanket, my pink fuzzy robe and my thick fuzzy socks.  Then I realized that if I lived where it is hot all the time I would never get the satisfaction of snuggling under a heated blanket and feeling my cold toes warm up.  I would never get to wear my soft fuzzy robe or my thick, soft fuzzy socks.  They definitely feel luxurious and warm.

As November, December and January passed I began to notice other things: the way hot soup tastes going down my throat and warming me from the inside out, the comfort of snuggling under heavy warm blankets, the way a hot bath feels when you soak in the tub (especially with the lights off and a few candles lit), how calming it is to stare into the flames of a fireplace, how beautiful the snow looks.  (Christmas just wouldn't be the same without snow.....and being cold).  I love the way fresh snow glistens in the sun, and the way snow can transform the landscape into a breathtaking winter wonderland.  I realized that I even like the exercise of shoveling snow, and especially how rewarding it looks once it is all piled up around the cleaned off driveway and sidewalks.  I like the way the house feels all warm inside, a fragrant winter candle burning while watching the birds pecking around outside the window.  It feels cozy and safe.  It's a winter feeling.

In the end (to my amusement) what I realized is that what has really been happening all these years is that I have focused on what I do not like, and noticed it, instead of focusing on what I do like, and appreciating it.  Since I have started appreciating winter this year, it has been much more enjoyable! 

Then it hit me: This wonderfully simple idea can be applied to anything unpleasant - a job you don't like, a commute that is difficult, a chaotic household or a too-quiet household, being married, being single, having kids, not having kids....whatever your circumstance.  Look for what you like about your situation. Then keep looking.  You might be amazed by what you find.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Sometime I Block the Sun

It is a fact that the sun greatly benefits us.    The sun helps our bodies produce vitamin D, which is important to strong bone growth.  It prompts our brains to promote higher levels of serotonin, which helps prevent depression (among other things).  According to online research  "Without the Sun's heat and light, the Earth would be a lifeless ball of ice-coated rock. The Sun warms our seas, stirs our atmosphere, generates our weather patterns, and gives energy to the growing green plants that provide the food and oxygen for life on Earth." 

The sun is vital to our existence. 

Lately I have noticed that sometimes I block the sun.  I find myself driving with my sunglasses on when the sun is not even out!  Sometimes I put my car visor down when the sun is not even shining in my eyes.  I tend to forget to open the sun roof and let the sunshine in.  I know some people who keep the blinds in their homes closed all the time instead of letting the sunlight in.  Last week I saw a woman at a department store with her sunglasses on inside the store, and it was dark outside.  Of course, she may have had a good reason, like she had been to the eye doctor that day, or she was hiding a black eye or something, but it still looked funny, and reminded me of blocking the sun. 

As I was thinking about this I realized that sometimes I not only block the sun, but the SON, our eternal light.  There are times when I unintentionally block the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ from my life. His light helps our spiritual side grow and become strong.  His light helps us fight through many difficult situations.  His light is vital to our spiritual existence in ways too numerous to number here.  When I keep my spiritual blinds closed, or close my spiritual sun roof so the Son doesn't shine on me, or put my visor down, or keep my spiritual sunglasses on when they are not needed, I spiritually block the Son. 

As I pondered about what specific things I do to shut the Savior out of my life, I realized that when I forget to pray.....or I pray but forget to be present and forget to listen, or when I fail to follow promptings, or when I decide I can do something on my own not realizing I need his amazing light to show me the way, these are ways I block the Son. 
                                                               Why would I do that? 
Why would I block something that does good in my life, a source of inspiration and light and                                                                                   strength? 

I think I tend to unintentionally take the Son for granted.  I forget to pay close attention and I forget to appreciate, just like when I am wearing my sunglasses after the sun has disappeared behind the clouds.

I don't want to take the wonderful sun for granted, but even more I don't want to take for granted the beautiful light that the Son offers me.

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Parts I've Lost

This is my gorgeous hanging planter before and after the first freeze of the fall.  As you can see, the cold caused a part of my planter enough stress that it wilted.   If you look closely, you will notice that part of the plant is wilted, but a large part of the plant still looks great and is doing well.

I must confess that I feel exactly like this frost-touched planter right now.  But instead of cold weather to affect me, it was that darned carbon monoxide accident, lol!  Most of me is holding up great and doing well, but I have these strange and unexpected parts that I cannot deny have wilted.  In particular:

♥My desire to garden and work in my yard, a passion and joy of mine for years. (This year I felt like I was in slow motion watching the seasons go by, first hyacinths, then daffodils, then tulips, then clematis, then roses, then rose of Sharon, then chrysanthemums.  Instead of a beautifully manicured yard, I mostly grew weeds.  That has never happened before.)

♥My desire to cook and try new recipes.  (I find I can hardly make myself think about what to make for dinner every night, and the simpler and easier the better.)

♥My desire to write. (Before my carbon monoxide accident I had so many ideas of what to write about on my blog each week that I had to keep a running list so I wouldn't forget my ideas.  Currently I have an occasional idea, and it takes me forever to get up the mental energy to sit down and write about it.  I tend to abandon my ideas part-way through writing, or not finish the blog.)

♥And lastly is my enthusiasm for goal setting and accomplishing.   I didn't do any for months after the accident, and now I have only one or two.  The intensity and drive I had before are currently MIA.

As I write this it occurs to me that the parts of me that are wilted ALL have to do with creativity - creating a beautiful yard, creating fun new meals, creative writing, and creating a better life through personal improvement.  The part of me that has wilted is creativity, and I want it back!  How can a carbon monoxide accident do that?  In researching, I can find nothing about this side effect at all.  Yet here it is.

My experience as a nurse tells me that whatever improvement a patient is able to make in the first year after any kind of accident is most likely what they will permanently have, though there are exceptions of course.  It has been 6 months.  I do desperately want these parts of myself to return and thrive as they did before.

Recently I re-did the planter by my front door with new plants for the spring.   The old ones had wilted.  (It took a lot of mental energy just to make myself do that)  I am hoping to revive the wilted parts of myself, to nurture them and coax them back to health, but if not perhaps something new can grow in its place.  Only time will tell.