No Longer The Clown

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Some things I have come to realize during the course of participating in the 30 Days of Content Challenge and forcing myself to write when I’ve been tempted to retreat back into my inner quiet…

Under times of stress or uncertainty, I often want to chop off my hair.

What I call my “public persona,” often a clown, is a smokescreen to my authentic self who is quieter. I didn’t realize how often I retreated and put forth this alter ego. She is louder, goofier and more in your face than my truer self. I guess I’ve depended on her to protect the more fragile and authentic me.

With blogging, the temptation to write for the audience versus sharing from my heart has been a challenge. But I have lots of thoughts and things to share, so I press pass what may be popular to what is truly Miki. It’s time to retire the clown.

 

These Boots Are Made For Walkin’

So I needed a new pair of boots. Preferably Dr. Martens. But they’re not quite in the budget, especially with an upcoming move into our new home. I saw this pair in a store, but they were the wrong size. And there weren’t any other boots similar to it, so I figured it was an online purchase that got returned.

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Sure enough, they were on clearance and mostly sold out. Nationwide. Except one store in New Jersey had them in my size. I called my sister-in-law in New Jersey to find out if the store was close to her, and it was within thirty minutes. I asked if she would let me know if she was ever out that way to check on the boots. The next day, she called me from the store and had the boots in front of her!!! She happened to be in the area on an errand.

Color of the boot. Check. Shoe size. Check. Price…they were discounted further, on MEGA clearance. Check, check, CHECK OUT NOW!!!!

My mother-in-law mailed the boots to me this week along with our other Christmas packages, and the shipping cost more than the boots! I wore them around the house to break them in and out for the first time today.

Comfortable. Cool. And the style I like. This Mama, after slipping and sliding the last few years in not-so-cool-sub-par boots, is ready to stomp about town. Bring it, snow and ice. I’m ready to walk all over you.

Lessons From A White Elephant

12311289_10153266575182467_6910912899747966383_n-2Have you ever participated in a White Elephant Gift Exchange? The basic premise is that everyone comes to a party with an inexpensive gift and is given a number. One by one, when your number is called, you can either choose an unopened present or “steal” one that has already been opened. The person whose gift is stolen then gets another opportunity to open another gift. (There are several variations to this game.)

The Children’s Ministry at church had a Christmas Party for all of the volunteers and their families. After enjoying a yummy spread and treats at the hot chocolate bar, we gathered for the main event. My kids had high numbers, so they would pick gifts towards the end. We all watched with eagle eyes, who unwrapped what and where the “good” gifts went. (Gifts like Starbucks gift cards versus the can of Spam.)

With a last chance to “steal” a gift, my daughter went after the “Sense and Sensibility” DVD. Huge Jane Austen fan. Unfortunately, her brother had purchased her a Jane Austen DVD set for Christmas…and we didn’t realize what gift she had chosen until it was over. She decided to give this DVD to her best friend, a perfect re-gift.

My son traded in his roll of faux hundred dollar bill toilet paper for a much coveted Starbucks gift card. Then the girl next to him stole it. He went for another one and thought he was safe. Until a man snatched it in the final seconds of the trading period. He ended up with a water bottle. Bummer.

The lessons as I observed this supposed-to-be-fun-but-kind-of-intense holiday game:

  1. Hold your treasures lightly. Hiding your awesome gift to dissuade others from seeing them and possibly taking them goes against the rules of the game. And, this is supposed to be more about RELATIONSHIP and not PERSONAL GAIN.
  2. There’s a fine balance between liking something, wanting it and COVETING. If you can’t be happy about someone’s gain and can only lament your lack, then this is a heart issue. Time for a check-up.
  3. Blessings are not a one-time, limited affair. They are all around us, if we have eyes to see.They may come at a later time. Sometimes you have to take your eyes off of what’s immediately in front of you to see them. Often the change of perspective and untangling of emotions (no one said it was easy!!!) can be jumpstarted with a choice to be thankful, an intentional act to be grateful.

The final lesson was key for my son, who did walk away disappointed. But he chose to be thankful for his water bottle. He also celebrated leading our table to victory earlier in the evening by playing a Christmas song on a toy harmonica. We all won Chick-Fil-A gift cards! Because of his choice to keep a great attitude despite the disappointment, we bought him a Starbucks gift card the next day. We don’t always fix our children’s disappointments, but on this occasion felt inspired to give him this little treat. I am thankful for these life lessons…it stinks when people don’t play by the rules and hide things to prevent others from gaining a blessing. But, how we handle these situations and process our disappointments help us to mature and develop into the kind of person that is honorable. And this is the biggest blessing.

A Bump in the Building Process

12122781_10153182667147467_5860218688400431935_nThinking about the building process of our new home, I can’t help but reflect on the applicable life lessons and challenges that have crept up.

For example, the unexpected bump that shakes your confidence.

Things have been going along in a predictable, not-very-exciting way. A few delays in the actual construction here and there, but there’s been steady progress overall. All of the paperwork has been submitted and reviewed (or so we thought.) A phone call in the morning assuring us that everything was great. A phone call later that afternoon about a detail that might affect EVERYTHING…WHAT?!? Nothing has changed. We didn’t have another child or open seven new accounts since all of the paperwork was filled out. How did a detail suddenly change things???

Blame it on inexperience or the sheer amount of personal situations that have unfortunately happened to this person in the last several months. The reasons for the delays in returning our phone calls were due to emergencies. And we understood. There were several of them; not sure what the circumstances were, but we accepted that they were dire situations. Except that it was affecting our confidence in the professionalism and attentiveness of this person.

The most recent situation was a house burning down of someone who works alongside this person. A tragedy for sure. We sent our heartfelt condolences when once again a delay was explained by this happening.

But why this would affect us? (I mean outside of a human-to-human level of feeling awful that something like this happened to someone else and hoping that they recover from this quickly – that the insurance goes through speedily and that they have all of their immediate needs taken care of…)

Outside of the business aspect of the relationship mentioned above, this type of scenario plays out in many other types of relationships. The friend that bails on you because a dramatic situation came up yet again. The family member who is notoriously unreliable, always with a handy excuse. Does this sound like someone you know?

There’s a balance in life. Things you take responsibility for and things that fall outside of your responsibility. Things you choose to get involved in and things you step away from. Things that bring peace to your heart and things that twist your gut. And when your gut gets twisted, it is IMPERATIVE that you listen to it. It’s not a lack of compassion when you choose to take a step back from a situation and/or person that robs your peace and feels unsteady. I think it’s wisdom to do so. Only from a place of stability can you wait for the confusion to clear up and assess the situation clearly. Then you can take the steps to help yourself as well as possibly benefit the person who is caught up in the turmoil/drama/challenge. I have had to do this in several personal relationships and now with this situation. So that, along with our house being settled, my heart is taken care of and not led on an emotional rollercoaster. Yet again.

A New Season

1231545_10151652567112467_1549183529_nWe just found out the closing date on our new home, which is in two months. Interestingly, we will be moving out of our current rental just about four years to the day we moved in.

The seasons of life.

Four years ago, we didn’t know what state we would be living in…in more ways than the geographical location. A job opened on the west coast but we were visiting family on the east coast, while our belongings were still in Colorado. Slowly the picture came together, and we were able to secure this rental in Colorado.

A charming home in a neighborhood with many friends, it was a soft landing place and enabled us to slowly build back our lives.

I have such fond memories of our first days in the house! It snowed heavily right after our POD was delivered, and I didn’t have a shovel. So I used a small boogie board to clear snow off of the van in order to get to the store! Our neighbor took pity on us and left his array of shovels on our walkway. The kids and I slept in sleeping bags in one of the bedrooms, drawing comfort in snuggling together as we unpacked our treasures and set about establishing our new home. Knowing people in our neighborhood helped make the transition easier – friends dropped in with balloons and treats to welcome us back to Colorado.

I am so grateful for the time we had in this home. We had an awesome management company and great neighbors that helped make our time here special. As we transition to our forever home, I will recall the lessons I learned about God’s faithfulness throughout our time in this house. He saw us through job changes, physical and emotional storms including unexpected tornadoes that threatened to devastate us. New ideas and opportunities blossomed here, like the roses I tended to, some with thorns that had to be dealt with carefully. We laughed, we cried, we danced and played hide and seek…many special memories were made within these walls. Thank You, Lord, for sheltering us here.

Lost In Translation Part 2

You didn’t ask for this
Nobody ever would
Caught in the middle of this dysfunction
It’s your sad reality
It’s your messed up family tree…

No, this is not your legacy, this is not your destiny
Yesterday does not define you
This is not your meant to be
I can break the chains that bind you

You’re my child
You’re my chosen…
And I will restore
All that was broken
You are loved, You are loved
“Family Tree” by Matthew West

An assignment in my Contemporary/Choreography class a few weeks ago: a 30-45 second original dance to the theme “My Story.”

In life and with all aspects of my art, I passionately believe in pouring my heart into it completely. I don’t do mediocre. It’s pretty much all or nothing with me. I am compelled to give it my all.

Though this was “just an assignment for class,” for me in was the first time I pulled back the veil in dance to share a portion of my story. The week leading up to class was emotional, as I cut music and worked on the choreography. I felt so vulnerable. Raw. Sad. The truth of what I experienced and lived through, things I don’t think about often, brought to the forefront made me cry.12308589_10153255462172467_5097045190231507033_n

I had my back to the class as the song started. With my wrists bound with a long red scarf, I slowly turned around. Then I danced the struggle and the torment. Crushed by hopelessness. With no one to help me, no one safe. I was alone.

When he sings, “I can break the chains that bind you,” my hands were set free, and I raised the red scarf over my head in victory. Next the scarf gently draped my head, and I wrapped each corner around me in an embrace.

The song makes this declaration from the Lord: This was NOT my legacy, NOT my destiny. Yesterday and the family system I grew up in DOES NOT define me. What they said about me was NOT my meant to be. I’m His child, I’m His Chosen. I am loved. I am loved!

The Lost in Translation part, similar to my art class assignment, was the same sensation of blank faces staring back at me. The lack of response or feedback. Maybe they didn’t understand what I shared and how significant it was for me. But I did the dance for me and for the Lord, to declare what He has done for me. He is continually restoring me, all that was broken and damaged. His hands are gentle, His voice is soft. He is dependable, kind and loving. He is my Father, a very Good, Good Father.

Sowing A Smile

75923_10151151524047467_976533850_nOne of our favorite holiday traditions as a family is to go shopping (on Black Friday and throughout the Christmas season) and to SMILE.

At others shoppers (the grumpier, the better!) Cashiers and employees. The poor guy in the parking lot trying to herd stray shopping carts. Drivers on the road. It’s one of the best gifts we can give, and it seems to leave a positive impact. Just this morning, the cashier at Target remarked that it was so refreshing to have happy customers and to see our smiles! We had just missed a huge wave of shoppers, and even the barista at Starbucks seemed a little overwhelmed by the recent stampede!

Let’s all remember that the true spirit of this season is JOY. And may our countenance and behavior reflect the many blessings we’ve already received – things that just can’t be found underneath the Christmas tree.