Posted by: clearspaces60 | June 29, 2022

Self-Care…To Be Continued

I wanted to write a blog post about self-care this month.  I have been thinking about all the ways I practice self-care and have asked others for their input. As the month is closing out, and with all that is going on in our nation and the world, I am finding this post is harder and harder to write.

I plan to practice more self-care in July and looking at it in different ways.  While I was leading a workshop, I asked for their feedback on self-care, lots of obvious answers came up, but one struck a nerve.  “It’s a privilege that not all women have.” I had never thought about it that way, I guess I assumed that prayer, meditation, our own inner thoughts were accessible in some way, even if it was difficult.  Her statement opened my heart and my mind.

I will write more next month.  In the meantime, I would truly appreciate you posting your thoughts in the comments.  What does self-care mean to you? What are your favorite practices?  What do you do that’s good for you, but you don’t like doing it? Do you have any thoughts or ideas about bringing self-care into the lives of those who have no access to its practice?

Thank you to all of my followers who are supporting me in keeping my commitment to post at least once a month. Keeping my commitment to myself is one form of self-care for me.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | May 31, 2022

Revisiting The Popcorn Technique

With all of the horrific news this month, I am struggling to write a post. Yet I made a commitment to myself to post at least once a month. So here I am on the last day of May wondering what words I could put out into the world that would make a difference. Just one tiny difference in someone’s life. Just one. And I am wondering if others are as stuck as I feel right now. I have been procrastinating about contacting our elected politicians about my views on gun safety. I want gun safety, training, licenses, and I want my elected officials to know that. But I struggle with sending emails or making phone calls to the ones that could not care less about what I think. Then I get stuck. A recent conversation with a friend reminded of something I posted long ago, I read it over and it still rings true. I do this often in my daily life but realized that I can use this technique in new ways to move me into action.

I wrote about my Popcorn Technique back in 2014, which now feels like a lifetime ago-

When you think about throwing away broken or stained items, giving away clothes or shoes that no longer fit or are not in style, does the fear rise and the panic set in?  Does the anxiety feel like imminent death?  Do you stop the process just before the feeling can be fully expressed and dealt with?  If so, you are a bag of unpopped kernels of corn.  Your fears and anxieties keep rising under all the clutter but have not risen enough to feel your true feelings and release the energy needed to make a change. Until the kernel is popped and all the energy is released, it remains unfinished and incomplete.

If you can see it from that perspective, that each item that is triggering the emotional response is in need of reaching the higher temperature of popping, then you can live through the burst of true emotion and energy. Perhaps this information can ease your pain to a small degree at first. With the realization that something fully formed is waiting on the other side of the expressed emotion, you will more easily embrace the fear, panic and anxiety.  You can begin to gather the courage needed to face the clutter and deal with it.

It may lead to what is truly being buried, to release what no longer serves you beyond the physical mess.  The clutter is masking something else, a difficult situation that needs to be faced, a relationship that needs to be redefined or creativity that needs to be expressed.  By taking any action, especially uncomfortable action, many may feel they are blowing up a situation or throwing a grenade into the mix.  Maybe the blowing up is required just like expanding and bursting the popcorn kernel.  No longer expending energy trying to contain heat and energy inside a constricted place- you are popping the corn kernel and transforming what is already there, what truly lies within the kernel.  Nothing is taken away-it only expands-similar to the caterpillar turning into a butterfly or a seed growing into a plant.  But we haven’t got time for that, this mess has already grown and immediate action needs to take place.

You can throw away trash, release clutter and let go of things that are taking up space.  There may be fear, doubt, anxiety, pain and negative voices in your heading saying things like-  “What if you need that someday?”  “You do need 5 ice cream scoops.”  “What if you get audited and they go back 20 years?”  “You are such a loser.”  Or the voices of others saying “You are the family keeper of all the stuff”  “How dare you give away Great-Grandpa’s ball of twine! That means you did not love him” “You are so ungrateful.”  Now you may have never met Great-Grandpa, but you surely inherited the family guilt!

If a real life person said those things to you, give them the ball of twine, ship it to them if necessary.  Oh, they have no room for it, well neither do you! This is where Courage, Confidence and Clarity must be created and cultivated. You CAN do it!  You are not weak, you are not a wimp, and you are not a welcome mat to be walked all over.  Notice I did not say doormat.  First of all, I was keeping with words that begin with a “W”, but secondly, when we say doormat what we really mean is that you have put out a welcome mat that says “Walk all over me, I won’t stand up to you and I won’t stand up for myself.” And the welcome mat is a big flashing neon light, so pull the plug and put out the “No Solicitors Allowed” sign.

Whether you are letting go of 50 year old twine, a garage full of stuff, a closet full of clothes, dusty old knickknacks, those last ten pounds, a significant other or spouse, releasing your adult children into the world, letting go of an unhealthy job or friendship, there is always a moment of fear, tension, pressure or uncertainty and then on the other side of that moment is a clear space, a car in the garage, room for new clothes, learning how to flirt again, an extra bedroom, healthy relationships,—Just like going from an inedible kernel of corn to a piece of edible delicious popcorn, which by the way is actually a healthy treat if it contains no GMOs.  So get popping!

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I will be using this technique to move myself from feeling stuck and powerless into action. If you try the Popcorn Technique, I welcome your comments. If you would like to receive my blog posts by email, you can follow me by clicking on the Follow button to the right.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | April 30, 2022

Decluttering My To Do Lists

“Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.” Unknown

“I made a huge to do list for today. I just can’t figure out who is going to do it.” Unknown

Does the world need another To Do List?  Unknown seems to think so!

I went down the google rabbit hole of To Do Lists, both paper and apps, and was astounded to find more than I had ever imagined.  I am still a pen and paper girl, I need to see my lists and enjoy the satisfaction of crossing off items. I prefer crossing them off with a different color pen. I also believe that if you did something that was not on your list, that you add it on and then cross it off! (I know I am not alone on this one!)

I started working in the world before computers, printers, and dry copier machines. We made our own project timelines, flowcharts, checklists, and punch lists, usually by hand, often on chalkboards or poster boards. Mimeograph machines, typewriters, carbon paper, and accounting column pads were my jam.  In one job, I used the 25 column pads that were 2 feet long, it sat on a table behind my desk.  Believe me when I tell you, I need to see everything all at once.

I have numerous lists, daily, weekly, sometimes monthly, an overall list that I like to call my Umbrella List.  I have different categories like Personal, Family, Home, Finance, Business, and I go through them occasionally.  I really want to get the Umbrella List in an Excel file, but then it will be in my computer and not right in front of me.  It cannot taunt me in the computer, I would have to consciously look at it.  Oh, the time it would save me from writing and rewriting, moving things around in the categories would be a breeze too. I am inching closer to this and will keep you posted.

In an attempt to streamline at least part of this process, I have been doing something different for the past few weeks.  Since I am having some success, I thought I would share it with you.  Seriously, one more list is not going to take up much space on the internet and it is free.  I was shocked to see all of the books about to-do lists.  And all the actual printed to-do lists that you can purchase.  I have yet to buy an app because I just do not think I will use it.  But if one works for you, go for it!

I am not offering a template here, just letting you know how I have set up my daily list since the beginning of the month.  Like many of you, I am still struggling with the changes in the world since the pandemic, assessing my comfort zone regularly, looking to respected people for medical and scientific guidance.  This has become harder at times since the invasion in Ukraine. My ability to focus on my own needs, wants and desires often leads me to feelings of guilt and overwhelm.  I needed something new and when I broke down what I needed to do and what I liked to do, I came up with the following.

I took a sheet of paper and wrote the date at the top and then wrote on the upper left side, Spiritual Practice/Self Care and on the upper right side, Must Be Done Today.  On the middle-left side, I wrote I Would Like to Do, and on the middle right side, I wrote I Want to Get Done.  Then I listed the things I wanted for that day in one of the categories.  It really helped as I was actually putting myself first-since we read from left to right, and I was focusing on the things that I had to get done because they were grouped together on the top right-hand side. 

By the end of the first week, I simply wrote-

Spiritual/Self                                                         Musts

Likes                                                                       Wants

I know I could create a form on my computer, but this is just easier and feels more personal to me.  You do You!

This also helped me figure out my own priorities of the day. For example, I can write Laundry under Wants if it is not urgent, or I can write My Laundry under Spiritual/Self. If we are running out of towels, I can write Wash Towels under Musts. Depending on the busyness of my day, I can write Go for a Walk under any one of the quadrants.  I have applied this to our home, personal finances, our business, and my writing.  Considering how I am feeling about the task has made a real difference in my outlook. Focusing on the top half of the page while being aware of the bottom half is freeing. And as sometimes happens, things really do take care or resolve themselves. 

If this resonates with you, I encourage you to give it a try and let me know how it worked for you.

I am also interested in finding out what other To Do List ideas or programs work for you, especially if you are someone who is using one of the apps.

I invite you to follow my blog if you aren’t already. You can sign up by clicking on the Follow button on the right side of this page and my posts will be emailed to you. Thank you.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | March 31, 2022

Kind Ways to Keep Commitments to Ourselves

March 31, 2022

Objective: Keep a commitment to myself to post on my blog at least once every calendar month in 2022.

Reminder:  Start where you are.  January was a blur, I picked myself up and began in February.

Quote of the Day: “Never leave that till tomorrow which you can do today.” Benjamin Franklin

Quote I have been practicing all month: “I’ll think about that tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day.” Scarlett O’Hara

With several hours remaining in the day, I choose to do what is best for me and to keep this commitment to myself.  I have no valid excuse other than a lack of moving from one activity to another.  My back is not against the wall, my home is not under attack, I am not packing only the belongings I can carry.  And letting all of that weigh on me does not serve anyone in this moment.  I am looking back on this month, the horrible news around the world, the good news around the world, and remembering conversations with friends and family, I feel a thick cloud of fear and dread over many of us much of the time.

I have had a lot of work to do this month, commitments to friends, our business, our home, and the commitments to myself keep getting lower on the ladder.  I have lifted myself up many times, so how did I do that? What did I do?  I have a few glimpses of what worked over the past 30 days, some tried and true practices, some new, I read a lot about focus and attention this month and am in the middle of listening to an incredible Brene Brown podcast.  Frankly, I am in the middle of a lot of books, articles, and podcasts, but being kinder to myself has been a crucial component in finishing things.

Here are some ideas that have worked for me, they are not in a specific order, do what works for you.

Drink water. Eat something when you are hungry.

Use the bathroom when you need to use it, don’t wait. Women, why do we don’t we do this?

Clear off or declutter one shelf/drawer/space at a time.

Clean as you go, if you can. Straightening up and decluttering is better than nothing.  Yes, it is!

Throw away pens that do not work. I’ve been trying to get my family to do this forever!

Straighten your closet and dresser drawers a little bit when you put your clean clothes away.

If you don’t know where to start, do something small for a few minutes.  Clean out your wallet, purse, briefcase, or tote bag.  Do not dump it out!!

Set your timer for 3 minutes, stand up, do not sit, walk around if you want, when the timer goes off, set it again for 3 minutes and DO something, anything. Straighten up an area, open some mail, put away a few things, unsubscribe from a couple of emails.

Sit down, close your eyes, and think about what you need to or want to accomplish in the next hour.  Only the next hour.  Make a brief list or type notes into your computer or phone.  Turn away from social media, the internet, news etc. and track your time.  Set your timer for 5, 10, 15 minutes or other intervals that work for you.  I personally like 3, 7, 11, and 18.  When your hour is up, stop.  Review your list.  Take at least a 10-minute break, then you can plan your next hour.

Ask a family member or friend to help you stay on track.  Check in with a text or email at an agreed upon time so you can update your friend on your progress. Choose someone who is encouraging and supportive. 

When tasks and projects are completely overwhelming, do them in one-minute intervals. You can pay one bill, open one piece of mail, read one email, deal with one piece of paper.

When you have finished a task or project, reward yourself with something that is meaningful to you; a quick phone call with a loved one, a few minutes of meditation, read a book or magazine for 15 minutes, play a game on your computer or phone.

Be mindful of your time.  I keep finding out that when I am tracking my time, I get a lot more done. You can have a lot of things going at once, but you can only focus on one thing at a time.  That’s why I keep saying that multi-tasking is a myth.

Be willing to be willing to try something new and different.

I would love your feedback, please let me know if any of these ideas work for you.  If you have any ideas you would like to share, please leave them in the comments as well.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | February 28, 2022

Looking Back to Look Ahead

January 1, 2022, I vow to myself that I will post on my blog once a month. Not the first time to promise this to myself.

January something, 2022, Booster Shot – Less fatigue and aches and pains than second vaccine, less brain fog but still- brain fog.

February 1, 2022, No January post. Not the first time to break a promise to myself. Vow to post on my blog this month, no matter how short.

All month, blog ideas swirling in my mind, bits and pieces written in Morning Pages and writing groups with friends. Lots of feelings about languishing this past year or two, lots of sadness, loss. Then the news of Russia invading Ukraine, absolutely horrifying. What to write about, what to say?

February 28, 2022

I go on my blog for the first time in a long, long, long, time.

Message- No traffic this week, but don’t give up!

My blog site has a better sense of humor than I do.

About an hour later my dear friend Layne sent me something I wrote in 2011- it lifted my spirits, brought back wonderful memories, and reminded me to look ahead. If you would like a clear space away from the here and now, I hope you enjoy the following-

July 2011

Well, this is embarrassing. Last week at the writer’s group, I read an essay from a couple of years ago titled, What would you do if you knew you could not fail? It was a great reminder to me, but I also shared that I had an idea to write about and then it left me so quickly I could not remember it for the life of me. My friends assured me that if it were important, it would come back to me. Well, a couple of days later it did come back to me, however this incredible idea now seems to lack any importance at all. Let’s see if I can convey any of this with clarity and hopefully a little humor. Here goes.

Last Saturday night, I was watching the end of a special about the Monkees on an HD music channel. It was about 4 years old, and I know I have seen it before. This was Carmaggedon weekend, and little did I know that the Monkees were at the Greek that very night, just as I was listening to Davy Jones proclaim that the Monkees would not likely every play as a group again. Oh, the power of Never Say Never.  Layne and I could have sailed to the Greek that evening and seen one of our idols, Micky Dolenz. But I digress as this was not my inspiring memory and revelation.

As the special was playing (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, all these memories of the 4th or 5th grade came flooding into my mind. I went to school in Orange County, CA just a couple of streets over from Yorba Linda, CA birthplace of our President, Richard Millhouse Nixon, and a visit to his childhood home was a mandatory field trip every year.

During 1970-71, a few teachers created a dance/drill team during recess. My friends and I joined because we got to learn dance routines on the blacktop and did not have to play tag or hopscotch or the dreaded games of dodge ball or tetherball. Steppin’ Stone was the first song we danced too.  Can you imagine how thrilled I was? My love of the Monkees, my favorite, Micky Dolenz, and all the recess politics were gone. The next number we learned was to the song Band of Gold by Freda Payne.

In looking through my rear-view mirror of life, my friends and I had a wonderful time while it lasted, we knew all the dance moves and all the lyrics to the song. Our moms sewed us matching drill team-like dresses. Our teachers were young and fun, one of them was even President Nixon’s niece.

Somewhere in my early teens I figured out the meanings of the lyrics of these songs. I am sure gave it little thought, oh, that’s what that meant. But what occurred to me last Saturday night was, What were those teachers thinking??  I was by no means the most naïve girl in the group but come on. Micky is singing about a girl who he thinks is using him and Freda is singing about something that went horribly wrong on her wedding night.

I do remember talking to my friends about what a Band of Gold was, we figured it had something to do with collecting gold. In the 4th grade, living in California, we learned all about the Gold Rush and lived very close to Knott’s Berry Farm. I never gave any thought to the Monkee’s lyrics of course because who cared!!  As a side note, having the name Mary in the 60’s and 70’s was really awful because it showed up in so many songs. I hated this with a passion, but secretly was thrilled with the Monkee’s song, Mary Mary. And again, Micky sang lead so who cared about the lyrics. Yes, I know they were written by Michael Nesmith, Liquid Paper heir.

Perhaps my teachers were getting back at the system, our principal was a crazy man, sincerely. He was nuts. We could not talk during lunch, we had to be completely silent. Among other events, the upper grade girls signed a petition to be allowed to wear pants on Fridays. He called us all into a room and told us what we did was illegal and threatened to tell our parents, we clearly had not learned any American history at this point. However, a smarter, braver girl, my best friend Robin, told her parents and some changes were made. Or maybe the teachers had to wade through all the songs about Vietnam, protests, drug abuse, or loving the one you’re with, and these were two of the least offensive or maybe they were too confusing for us to figure out. Maybe the teachers could not figure out all the lyrics and did not care at all. There was no way to know the lyrics on a 45. Remember you had to play the record over and over, What are they singing? For what it’s worth (another great song!), we had fun and we loved the songs and the opportunity to dance.

Now I live in a world where my son’s elementary school screened every talent show performance for any suspect lyric or possible gyration, while other parents are signing their kids up for Toddlers Tiaras and Dance Moms. I also live in a world where every band I have ever heard in my entire childhood, except for the Beatles, has gotten back together for a farewell tour, a reunion tour…

So, Layne, I’m going with you next time!

P.S. And we did. I got to see Micky and Mike perform several years ago. I have had the privilege of meeting Micky on a few occasions. Sadly, Mike passed away recently. And today is the anniversary of Davy’s passing, February 29, 2012.

RIP Davy, Peter, and Michael

I am blessed with the joy you all brought to this world. I will strive to find more joy in the moments in my life while I remember to pray without ceasing for those who are suffering.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | April 29, 2021

An Epiphany or a Befuddlement?

Have you ever been by yourself and had a sudden realization about something you should have known your whole life? On social media these epiphanies follow, I Was Today Years Old When I

I don’t know how long this has been going on, but the first one I remember reading was posted by a medical doctor who wrote something along the lines of I Was Today Years Old When I figured out that a quart was one quarter of a gallon.  My first thought was, Wow, does he know that a quarter is one-fourth of a dollar? My second thought was, this doctor is able to laugh at himself, and the replying comments were funny and included other people’s stories.

A few months ago, I had my own epiphanous moment followed by feelings of befuddlement at what an idiot I might be.  Here goes- I was today years old when I realized what Paper Mate meant! Honestly, here I am, 60 years old, in the throes of surviving a pandemic, looking at a Paper Mate pen and thinking Oh My God, this pen is the paper’s mate.  I cannot truly describe the level of revelation and stupidity all at once.  I could feel my grandmother laughing uproariously from heaven.  She used to work for the Paper Mate company and was given a double heart, gold pin with two rubies on it.  She gave it to me because that is my birthstone.  I have had this pin since I was a little girl.  It is very tiny, and Paper Mate is engraved on one of the hearts. I have never seen these two words as more than a company name.

Now I am clearly questioning my sanity over my love of pens.  What else am I missing? Bic, Cross, Parker, Mont Blanc, Pentel, Sharpie, and for goodness’ sake is it Mark-A-Lot or Marks-A-Lot?

Posted by: clearspaces60 | July 31, 2020

2020-Seven Months In

As we close out the seventh month of a year we hope to never repeat, we still have five long months to go.  Today is National Avocado Day and we are ending National Ice Cream Month. 2020 is The Year of the Woman and the Year of the Rat.  As a woman who turned 60 this month, I was born in the Year of the Rat.  “The Rat is the Chinese zodiac sign for being inquisitive, shrewd, and resourceful. The Rat is also the first in the rotation of the 12 zodiac signs, meaning that a Rat year is a year of renewal.”- The Internet

I certainly hope this is a year of renewal, and I will keep that in mind as I continue eating avocados and ice cream while being inquisitive, shrewd, and resourceful. I think as women, we need a do-over year!

In these precarious times, I try to remember to check in with myself and be honest about it.  How am I doing? No, really, how am I doing?  At times I am doing great.  Other times I can feel the dark cloud of the pandemic, unequal justice, discrimination, and other frightening news weighing me down. I prefer to look at how I can help others but as they say, if you don’t put on your oxygen mask first, then you become the one who needs the help. I strive to regroup and replenish before I am mentally and emotionally depleted.

Once I was a corporate manager and ran meetings, I opened them by going around the table asking, “What’s working?” Each person had to answer, it created an uplifting environment with plenty of space to also discuss what was not working. 

“What’s working?”

I am looking for bright spots in my days along with expanding my comfort zone.  I love having a box outside our front door for delivery drivers. It is filled with water bottles and snacks that change every time we go to the store.  I started it before Christmas last year and now it is more important as I appreciate beyond measure that people may be risking their lives to deliver to us.  I went outside my level of comfort by recording a Zoom video about tithing for our church.  I am comfortable on a stage but not being in front of a camera alone.  I learned more about Zoom and myself. It was well received and gave me an opportunity to truly receive compliments.

In numerous conversations, I am realizing that many people, including myself, have given ourselves the false impression that we are going to finish many projects during this time.  I think the first thing we need to do is determine what is an unfinished project and what is an ongoing project.  Decades ago, I found that releasing an unfinished needlework project was a step towards freedom.  I had moved on to different hobbies.  I learned that there are people who love to finish projects that had been started, who knew?  An ongoing project for me is anything to do with paperwork, books, photos, magazines, drawers, cabinets, and flat surfaces. 

Back to basics is working for me, sharing some ideas that have worked for me consistently and using words that work for me.  For example, make sure your oven is empty before you turn it on, read a recipe completely and make sure you have all of the ingredients and are prepared for steps like “refrigerate overnight” before you start cooking.  Put your spray bottles of cleaner with the sprayer towards the back of the cabinet when storing.  Don’t put glass jars at the front edge of any shelf in your fridge.  I prefer the word sorted to organize, tidy up to straighten up, effective to efficient.  Acknowledge yourself for at least five things every day, big or small things, write them down or say them to yourself. 

  1. Prayer partner call
  2. Morning pages
  3. Vitamins (I hate taking vitamins especially gel capsules)
  4. Wrote a blog post
  5. Posted it
Posted by: clearspaces60 | May 31, 2020

Look It Up

“The measure of a country’s greatness is its ability to retain compassion in times of crisis.”
― Thurgood Marshall

I wanted to write a blog post by the end of the month, self-imposed deadlines can be great motivators, but what I am working on feels light and fluffy, or maybe it feels white and fluffy.  I am a white woman about to turn 60. I have experienced sexual discrimination and harassment.  That is not the same as racial discrimination and I would never even think that I know anything about that firsthand.  I only know what I have witnessed and intervened when possible, heard about from other people, seen on a screen, or read about.  

Last week I had hoped that all eyes would have been on the SpaceX Crew Dragon as it lifted off with American astronauts to dock at the International Space Station. A first in many ways.

This week has been horrible for thousands of people, many have lost loved ones to COVID-19 in addition to other horrible diseases, accidents, and acts of violence.  Then the whole country and now world has witnessed the brutal killing of George Floyd by one or more police officers.  I am enraged by all the police brutality I saw just last night.  I am heartened by the actions of the police who joined their communities in protesting and grieving. I want to believe that positive change is possible.

Then I saw that today is the 99th anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, (originally called a riot), my heart broke again.  I had a wonderful history teacher in high school, and she taught us a lot that was not it our textbook.  This horrific event was one of things we learned about.

 I titled this essay “Look It Up’ because I do not have the energy to see through my tears and give you all the details I would like to share. If you do not know about the NASA/SpaceX partnership, I invite you to look it up.  If you did not learn about the 1921 Tulsa race massacre, I invite you to look it up.  If you are not sure about the difference between saying protest and riot, or riot and massacre, I invite you to look it up. If you want to know how you can help change things and be an ally, I invite you to look it up. 

When I started this blog, this is what I wrote- ClearSpaces is a place to take a break with humor, reality and hopefully a little insight.  It will be slice of life with a dollop of information about dealing with clutter (yours and others).  My wish is to help create beautiful spaces in hearts, minds, homes, and lives.

This is still my wish.  I have a lot more work to do.

If you have helpful, positive suggestions, please share them in a comment.  Thank you.

Posted by: clearspaces60 | May 1, 2020

May Day or Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

It’s the first day of May! I remember colorful print dresses, baskets of flowers, teachers trying to instruct us how to braid the long ribbons around the May pole/tether-ball pole. My friends and I were just trying not to let the boys give us cooties.  What a difference 50 years can make!

A few days ago, or maybe longer, April lasted several years, a memory from five years ago popped up on social media,

“Art is the set of wings to carry you out of your own entanglement.”

Joseph Campbell, A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living

Wow, I thought. The world is certainly in an entanglement? It is even possible for me to think about art or creativity in a meaningful way right now?  And where was I five years ago? What was I doing? I made myself stop and think about this.  It took a while. I had to focus hard, THINK. What was I doing back then? I first figured out my age and that I would turn 55 that July, that helped. I pondered some more.  I figured out my son was a junior in high school, that helped.

Then memories rushed in like a wave hitting the shore. I was a little overwhelmed with emotion. I remembered, as Board President at our church, I was leading our congregation in the search for our new spiritual leader. It was a dream leadership opportunity. Leading a large group of wonderful loving people in an open, healthy, transparent manner. We were fortunate not to be a church in distress, we could take our time, we were not in a rush.  Our minister had retired from the pulpit in January, and there was a great deal of loving sadness going around.  We were so happy for him and his wife to start their next adventure. Yet fear of the unknown was present as well. Who we would select? Would they select us? How would things be different?

The hills and valleys of this journey prepared our church leadership to step up and lead the congregation through this unknown territory. We asked for guidance from seasoned ministers. We asked for input from other churches who had searched for a new minister.  We prayed and meditated on the input and guidance. We chose what would work for us and created our own playbook.  As a Board, we made all decisions with cooperation, collaboration, and cohesiveness.  We all agreed on a decision before moving forward.  We kept the church drama to a minimum.  Transparency was our highest goal.  As a community we elected our new minister in July of that year.

One lesson I learned during this time was to ask for help when I needed it. Most people love to share their experience and insight. I was also reminded that not everyone has the capacity to reach out for help. I am realizing that now is the time for me to check in with those around me and do what I can if they need help.

While I am no longer on the Board, I am loving how our Board is handling this new way of doing church.  They are creating wonderful online programs and opportunities to connect.  All of our ministers and leaders are available for the distress calls as well.  I am the most proud to hear that they are reaching out on a daily basis to those who are not on-line, those who are in the greatest need, those who do not have the capacity to ask for help in this moment but may need it.

Traditional May Day celebrations are different around the world, but they mainly focus on Spring, love, fertility, good crops. Celebrating the new, with a bright hope for the future.  I am hopeful that I will create new ways of caring about others, connecting with others, and using all my gifts to celebrate my world and to make it a better place.

I pray that May feels shorter than April.  Stay Home/Stay Safe.

“O May, sweet-voice one, going thus before, Forever June may pour her warm red wine Of life and passions, –sweeter days are thine!” » Helen Hunt Jackson

May 1, 2020

Posted by: clearspaces60 | March 31, 2020

Quarter End

At the beginning of the year, I vowed to post once a quarter at minimum.  I have a little over 4 hours left.  Four times a year minimum, how hard could that be? Especially since this quarter feels like it has been going on for years.  If you aren’t in the mood for attempted humor, feel free to skip this post and maybe come back to it another time.  Our world is experiencing tremendous suffering and grief, and it appears much more will follow.

For now, I wish to share a few things as they come to mind, in the stream of consciousness format, as my deadline is looming.  I am following the style of Betty White in her book, Betty White-In Person, it is a true favorite.  I lost or gave away my copy years ago.  A year or two ago, I downloaded it onto my Kindle, but my Kindle hasn’t been charged up since before Christmas.  Dear Reader, when I find both my Kindle and my charger (I obviously have loads of time on my hands these days), I will marry the two and read Ms. White’s words of wisdom once again.

Talented friends are posting on their blogs regularly.  Two I highly recommend are New Thought Evolutionary https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/36805720, and Jenny Kissed Me  https://wordpress.com/read/feeds/981219   You will fill inspired and spiritually fed after reading these two wonderful writers.

As we learn to live in the Stay Home-Stay Safe environment, I have seen a lot of humor, memes, GIFs, etc. to both wake people up and to cheer them up.  Sometimes we are in the mood for self-reflection or humor, and sometimes we are not.  Let’s be gentle with ourselves and elevate our kindness to others.

How am I coping?  Chocolate, vodka, wine and potato chips are my favorite things to have on hand.  But I am also eating a much healthier assortment of foods (partially due to what is available) and my lovely husband is also making us juice several times a week.  I am getting more exercise because it feels imperative to be as healthy as possible. I have added zinc, vitamin C, and olive leaf extract to my vitamins.   I am turning 60 in July and am wondering if this will be over, or if I will then be able to shop with the seniors at the crack of dawn each morning.

I am promising myself to wear regular clothes at least every other day so make sure my pants still fit (although I may be getting a little smaller in this process, only time will tell.)  Men kindly move on to the next paragraph.  Ladies, how often are you really wearing a bra?? Who invented these things again? I no longer run or jog, so what’s the point?

I am living in a constant state of gratitude and/or fear.  I vacillate between the two.  I am grateful that our financial situation has not changed, we are paying for services that can no longer be done so that these folks still have some income.  People lost their jobs overnight and my heart goes out to them.  We have great doctors if we need them, but we don’t know what will happen next.  For the first time ever, I do not know when I will see our son who is at college in an off-campus apartment.  His university has been fabulous in communicating to the parents.  They even have an online mindfulness website which I need to check out very soon.  I don’t know when I will see my mom again.  She is about 3 hours away and I am thankful one of my sisters lives close by and can help her out when needed.  I have three sisters, when will I see them again? I visualize hugging everyone!

When the fear and panic get too big to handle, my latest plan is to grab any David Sedaris book and read a story.  His writings often make me laugh out loud. I have a daily prayer partner call with a best friend that is keeping me sane.  I just downloaded Zoom today so that will be a whole new world of communicating.  I am walking with my fear while being focused on the blessings, at least that is my well intentioned practice.

I’m on the West Coast but am meeting the East Coast deadline!

Thank you for reading this clunky and unedited post.  If you would like to share how you are thriving, coping or not coping, please share in a comment.  We are each other’s best hope in this moment.

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