Journal questions asked: What legacy do I want to leave to the women who come behind me? How do I want them to view themselves? What do I need to deal with so that I can set a strong example?
Bare with me... cuz this one isn’t going to flow as smoothly - I might be all over the place... I’m just letting the thoughts write themselves down as they unravel! (This is an emotional one for me - as I know I have A LOT of work to do myself to get to the point to be able to leave the type of legacy I desire, but this is my constant vision, the thoughts that run through my mind all the time, the thoughts that constantly challenge me and make me question how I can change, evolve and get better at leading through example on a daily basis).
I want to leave behind a legacy of security, self love, honor, worthiness, enrichment, joy, faith, simplicity, and belief in beauty inside, outside, and all around. I want to help encourage and lead women to love and honor herself for exactly who she is interior and exterior, because only then will she feel worthy of taking the necessary action steps to make mindful decisions and choices around her health (both mental and physical), which will then continue to build up her self esteem. I want to encourage women to be secure in herself and to not feel the need to constantly compare herself to others, as she is perfect in her own growth. I want to help her learn to be patient with her growth, and remind her that God isn’t in a hurry, so why should we be. I want to encourage her to be forgiving to herself when she does make mistakes or make choices that weren’t necessarily ideal - to not wallow in guilt. I want to help her gain confidence in who she is both as a woman and as a child of God. I want to help her discover her greatness intimately so that they can allow it to naturally unravel instead of living a life of fear or self-sabotage. I want to lead by example and encourage all other women to take a roll in leading by example in her own way through her strengths to continue to carry on a positive legacy that all can benefit from. I want to show women the greatness in honoring each other and serving each other, and growing intimately together, recognizing our common womanly traits. Call me crazy - this might seem far fetched... but I believe it can happen... for each of us... a little bit, one day at a time...
...But first I have to ask myself, what do I need to deal with so that I can lead by example? Well... I could approach this question two ways... The first way, glass half empty - and focus on ALL the things I don’t yet do right or am not 100% committed to yet, and how I still have so much to learn to be able to be this leader, OR I could take option 2. Glass half full.. I think I will take this opportunity to dissect this question in my mind through the latter. What I need to deal with is EXACTLY what I am dealing with - day by day. Truth is - I have NOT arrived... and I never will why I am on Earth, but what I can do is commit to constant awareness & constant growth. To be aware of where I fall short, but to know what I am striving for, shows that I am forgiving of my imperfections, gives others permission to be kind to herself as she is, committed to forgiveness while still committed to growth. Honestly though, I fall short in it all - I do... but that is ok... because I am a work in progress. Sometimes I get really hard on myself, sometimes I get so mad at myself when I make the same mistake two times, when my actions fall short of my expectations of myself or others expectations of me... But what I can do now that I couldn’t do before is recognize it, forgive it, release it to God, and trust that I am a work in progress... and stay true and committed to eternal evolvement. One thing though that will be of the utmost importance for me to embark on this journey of leading by example, is seeking women out - embracing them - developing sound relationships with them where we can learn and grow from each other, supporting one another along the way. I can’t encourage, support or help someone who I have no relationship with. This doesn’t always have to be in person. This can also be through social media, through my blogging and beyond.. I can use any facet of communication to reach someone and help them through sharing my journey, my trials, my struggles, my shortcomings, my over comings, and my successes.
"Live the life you've imagined." Henry David Thoreau
What does this even mean? What do you think? Is there one life we’ve imagined? What about the fact the life we imagine changes 100x over again as we grow up, as we learn, as our passions & interests change or develop, as we grow wiser, smarter. For a long time I struggled with this quote.. I saw it for face value. I focused on what material life I imagined... How much money I would make, what cars I would drive, what job I would have, would I afford several vacations every year, did I live on my simple house with lots of land, was I married? Did I have kids? ..... And on and on.... but when I really sit with this quote and think about what the “life I’ve imagined” really means to me... my entire perspective changes... My focus is not only on the life I’ve imagined but the life I am imagining....My focus is on my wisdom, my spirituality, my being-ness.
I imagine living a life of service, giving and serving those I love, while also learning how to serve & love those that are often difficult to love. I imagine a life where I make sure that I am always 100% by taking care of and nurturing myself first so that I can be my very best for everyone else. At the same time, remembering to be selfless in my thoughts, and to be compassionate toward the needs of others, to not live a world that is me-me-me. Remembering that at the end of the day, none of it is for me anyhow - it is for God’s glory. I imagine living and loving openly, free of fear in all forms. I imagine living by example and being there to support and encourage all growth from others, but remembering to not push too hard, or judge, or expect anyone else to see things the way I do, because my way is only one way of knowing (it isn’t the only ‘right’ way or even the best way). I imagine being open minded, open to possibility, and learning from others who have so much to offer me too.
I imagine this all, but am I currently living it all? No, I am a work in progress. We all are...works in progress. Waking up every day, breathing, living, learning, growing, making mistakes, having realizations, bonding, connecting, thriving, hurting, loving, evolving, and progressing.
But am I often to hard on myself still? Yes, every day. Although, through my Bible study I learned that God isn’t in a hurry for us to grow. We have a predetermined amount of time on Earth and we get to use this whole time to grow spiritually, to learn, to make mistakes, to learn from those mistakes, to apply new ways of being, and to continue to learn and evolve some more. Only WE are in a hurry. Only we have this need to be perfect now. Only we feel we should look a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way, succeed in a certain way now. Only we get mad when we still are less then perfect, because in God’s eyes, we have always been... perfect. I have to remind myself to every day wake up and set a goal to 1. appreciate, and 2. focus on being the best I can be in that moment. IF I am less then best, what can I learn from my experience and grow from it.
Do you ever feel like it is too late? You learned a lesson, but you learned it too late? Is it really though? ... too late? Maybe too late for what you wanted it to be for - but then what about ALL the ways in life that lesson helps you down the road? Maybe it isn’t always for what we think we want it for... Maybe you learned a lesson with a person - but it was too late to salvage that relationship.... Sad, perhaps, but think of how many relationships it will help you create when the timing is right? What if you learned a lesson at a job - but you already lost that job? What about the jobs it is preparing you for in the future? What about with your health? IF you are still alive and ticking - even if you are sick - I am guessing it really wasn’t too too late... I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt for us to sometimes learn a lesson a little sooner - it could save us heartache, it could prevent an overwhelm of stress, it could mend a friendship, it could prevent a disease... but at the end of the day - while we strive as much as possible to learn a lesson in the ‘right’ time, sometimes it still happens ‘late’ ... and the best thing we can do is grow from it, develop character from it, learn from it, and apply it starting now - when you learn it. Don’t get stuck dwelling on what has already become past, beating yourself up for what you could have done, or how it could have been, or what you didn’t do - when you can focus on today and what you are simply going to do now.
Well the work week is officially done and in 26 hours we will be in route to OAK for travels to Maui (with tomorrow being prep day for vacation)... So I say its fair to FINALLY get excited! :) Several years ago I read somewhere (not sure where or what book) the importance of being ‘present’ but more importantly the importance of not allowing your happiness to be based on circumstance. For example, many people grow up with this idea of a ‘perfect’ life, and this causes them to always be out chasing the next best thing, in search of happiness. You hear it all the time... “Oh life will be so much better when I get this job” or “I know I will be so happy when I am am married w/ children and have my own family” and then “Oh I can’t wait until the kids are all grown up so we can travel” OR “Counting down the years to retirement so then I can start living...” OR (I love this one) “Omg I can’t wait for vacation in 6 more months - I’m counting down every day”....
Get the picture? So we have this idea of what our life needs to look like for true happiness, peace of mind, success, joy, pleasure and so on... The issue with this is we get lost in the search for something else, something more, some place, some person, some relationship, some thing, some idea... that we loose sight of what is right in front of us.. the journey. I read a quote recently that said something along the lines of “set your life up so that you don’t need to escape from it” I don’t think this is saying “don’t vacation” but more so - set up your life - and yes - take vacations - but set your life up in a way that it is more of an added bonus, an extra pleasure, not something you need per say, or better yet, something that once it is planned it consumed you and it is all you think about until it happens, and then your sad when it ends only to plan your next one so that you can spend the next 6 months living for it to come. It's as if we almost get stuck in the waiting game... a long and depressing journey of waiting - waiting - and still waiting... Always waiting for the next circumstance that will "really" bring us joy...
Am I making sense? It’s kind of like the “dreaded Mondays” and the type of person who lives stuck in the weekends, impatiently counting down from Monday morning until Friday evening after work. Sounds exhausting to me... and quite frankly - I know it is - because I used to do it. I’m not saying I am perfect & have totally escaped this mindset ... but I think that overall I am learning and getting better and better.. This vacation is solid proof. Planned & booked three months ago - we allowed ourselves a moment to be excited, and then we tossed it on the back burner... Three months is a long time jam packed with a lot of other important living to do! Even in the last week when everyone was like “Omg aren’t you so excited?!?!” I honestly really wasn’t.. and not because I am not thrilled at the idea of this week to come - because I am - but in the moment, in the week, in the days... I had my focus elsewhere.. On the tasks at hand, on the people I was with, on the jobs I was doing.
I guess the thing is that whatever book I read that discussed the importance of CHOOSING happiness, and learning to be in control of your happiness meter and not allowing your happiness to be circumstantial... really dug deep for me...Since that read I have made an honest commitment to constantly striving to be in control of my happiness, and not allow it to be based on circumstance. Truthfully, as I said above- I am definitely NOT perfect... definitely flawed... still had my tests... Passed some - failed some... but all in all ... I definitely feel complete and utter appreciation for having been given the opportunity to practice this mindset, and to recognize that I create my ultimate reality. This has allowed me to be a much happier person in general, but more importantly to really appreciate the journey, what I have today, who is in my life today, what my life looks like today, and it has also helped me learn how to be present in the moment today - knowing that when tomorrow comes (like in 26 hours when I am on vacation) I can be present in that moment, and simply enjoy it as it unfolds as well! :)
As I write this I am actually having an “ah-hah” moment, and realizing some areas in the past several months where I didn’t do as great of a job applying this principal; however, my ability to apply it to vacation and reflect on it has been a wonderful reminder, so that I can consciously commit to applying the mindset to other facets of my life moving forward... and I very much look forward to the journey.
I didn’t forget about last week... There was actually no specific journal entries required. Last week was the opportunity to dedicate time and focus on mediation and prayer. A specific prayer that we were to recite over and over in the stillness with God. It was acknowledging our insecurities that both we are responsible for and not responsible for and asking for God to use his strength through us to overcome them. It was beautiful and powerful. Call me crazy but I feel a shift. A small shift... and I know that it will take dedication, commitment, focus, and continuos growth to make a trillion more small shifts. And this, I am ready for!
This week was an interesting read. The whole chapter was dedicated to men’s common insecurities, showing us, that as women, although we have very real insecurities, often around men, we are not alone. Men are human beings too, and they suffer from the same types of real and raw insecurities as women, if even they sometimes look different, especially in terms of expression. Which on a side note, most men tend to withdrawal when facing insecurities, whereby women tend to cling. This can be powerful knowledge when learning to better communicate in a relationship around insecurities. Also, the two most common insecurities men face that Beth points out, based on her research, are fear of failing to provide, and fear of failure to prove himself a man.
Beth also pointed out two common flawed ways women view men and how this effects our ability to relate fairly. Too often, as women, we either adore them or abhor them, to an unhealthy extreme. We either place them on too high a pedestal idealizing them as the solution to all of our problems, or we develop a cynical and negative view of them almost vilifying them. Often one of these occurs because of our past experiences with them. Either situation is not real, nor fairly justified, or fair. As we learn in this chapter, and throughout many biblical references, we are all simply human, both men and women, real, flawed, perfectly imperfect and equals.
This week we are asked to consider the flawed ways we have viewed men and some specific men in our lives that have played a significant role in shaping this attitude toward men in general. Ouch. So truth be said, more often than not I would say I have leaned more toward the side of abhorring men. However, with that said, I realize how because of some not great experiences I have had with men in my life that have left me with a not so great taste in my mouth, I also have found myself on the other side of the spectrum, adoring ones that may come into my world that seem so just stunning in comparison to what I have otherwise known most of my life. Therefore, I end up adoring them and putting them on a pedestal. So yes, I have had experience with both sides of the coin, directly related. On any account, it is not fair or healthy. What I realize is that it is not fair to put that much power in the hands of any one person, not positive or negative - both are unhealthy. To give someone so much power as to vilify them and allow them to have that much power over how I feel, react, or my level of insecurity is not giving my attention to God, whom of which is the only one I should give power over myself. Flip side, it is unfair and unjust to adore someone so much as to place them on a pedestal for two reasons. 1. again, only it should be God that is thought as above, and 2. it is unfair to the person themselves because it is too much pressure for any single person to handle, too much responsibility to live up to.
The request in our journaling this week is to think of the specific men who have played significant roles in my life and my attitude toward men, for the sake of respecting their privacy I am choosing to not outwardly express any further details regarding my experience with these situations, or to specify my experience with any specific men in my past or present. It is one thing if I choose to publicly write and share my stories, it is another situation if I, without permission, write about someone else. I will; however, in private, really meditate on this question and think of who in my life has played a big role and how. I strongly encourage you to do the same. Remember, this is not to dwell on, but to learn from and grow. Knowledge is power and truth can set you free. If we can assess the truth about how we feel mostly toward the opposite gender, and then determine the root causes of these feelings, we are then able to grow from them and move away from them, and most importantly move closer to God and our desire to only need his approval, knowing we are and always will be secure in his love and acceptance.
Just wanted to share a verse from the bible that stood out in our readings this week (which on a side note - also coincided perfect with the message from God that we heard this week @ Spring Hill Church - regarding setting our focus on above instead of on ourselves):
1 Do you see what this means - all these pioneers who blazed the way, all these veterans cheering us on? It means we'd better get on with it. Strip down, start running - and never quit! No extra spiritual fat, no parasitic sins. 2 Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed - that exhilarating finish in and with God - he could put up with anything along the way: cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God.