Day 29, 30 & 31: No Pretty Bow

I’m ending my 31 days early. It’s my exhale.

photo credit: hercampus.com

photo credit: hercampus.com

I’ve loved writing this series. It has been cathartic and built discipline. But these last few posts I had planned are not clicking. I’m wound tight trying to pull the ideas out and put them here for you.

Then I remembered why I’m here.

First, I am here to write. Good. Bad. Inspired. Planned. Choppy. Whatever it is, just write.

I’ve done this.

Second, I’m here to be real. My one rule in writing here is that it represent my truth. It may not be your truth, but true to me and who I am and what I feel. Even if it’s wrong.

I’ve done this.

Third, this whole month has been around this notion of exhale. This idea that I’ve spent too long holding my breath and clenching my teeth. Too long trying to control air.

This is where I got stuck yesterday.

I’ve done this for 28 full days. I’ve practiced letting go of my breath and my chains. I’ve worked to put down that which I was never meant to carry, face my fears, own up to my anger, adjust my reflection, renew my faith, and find inspiration.

Ending here is the ultimate test in exhale for me. I hate to leave things unfinished. I had my list and my plan for days 29, 30 and 31. This was not it. But I felt my shoulders creeping up and my fingers typing tense, so I’m making a choice.

To exhale.

I have no pretty bow to tie this package in. All I have is my breath and my dance.

And I choose that.

If you’ve missed any of the series, please click on the link below.

photo credit: 1ms.net

photo credit: 1ms.net

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Day 28: Rose-Colored Glasses

I sit on the front steps and look down at my feet. The sun has set and I’m sitting here waiting for the dog. I’m in pajamas and it’s not even eight o’clock at night. I’ve yelled at my kids. Yes, the ones who have been home sick for a week. And it was something about picking up pencils? I don’t even remember. It’s been a week of kids in and out of my bed at two, three, four in the morning. How did I ever do this when they were infants?

Don’t you feel inspired?

See, I could have painted the picture differently. It could have gone something like this:

I sit on the front steps and look down at my feet. The stars are shining and I’m enjoying a cozy fall evening in my pajamas. I’ve spent the whole week with the kids. They’ve been sick, but we’ve had lots of time to snuggle, read books and watch movies together. They’ve even snuggled with me in the middle of the night. Someday they’ll grow up, so I’ll take all the snuggles I can get.

Both tell the same story, and both are true. I always have been able to make both sides of the argument.

photo credit: psychologytoday.com

photo credit: psychologytoday.com

Too often we see or read version two. We get the romanticized version of life from others and we feel inspired. For a moment. Romance is rose-colored glasses but at some point you have to take the glasses off. Then we are left wondering why our life doesn’t seem so rosy.

Because you know what else is inspiring? Real. Knowing that other people are in the trenches with you. Knowing that the everyday can be beautiful and gratitude filled and hard and messy in the same sentence. Knowing that inspiration is not your circumstances or even how you face them, but who you face them with.

Because I wasn’t on those steps alone.

Can I do better? Sure. Can I be better? Definitely. Could I love more? Absolutely. Could I be loved more? Not a bit.

The inspiration doesn’t come in what any person does, but it is God’s love in them that inspires. It’s not our job to set out to inspire people. It is our job to love and be loved, even when it’s not rose-colored.

To see the rest of the 31 Days of Exhale, click on the link below.

photo credit: 1ms.net

photo credit: 1ms.net

Day 27: Waiting to Be Called

Some days I sit here ready to go. My fingers hit the keys and there is some connection between head and heart and hands as the words fly onto the screen faster than I can process them.

Those days are rare.

photo credit: fridayfunfact.wordpress.com

photo credit: fridayfunfact.wordpress.com

Inspiration is fickle. We have somehow gotten the great idea that we need to be inspired to write or sing or create or produce. I have lost too many opportunities to create because I’ve been sitting in the waiting room flipping through magazines as I wait for my name to be called.

Then I discovered something. No one asked me to wait. I did that to myself. Writing is not dependent on inspiration. Sure, inspiration feels great. I love those moments when everything flows and I hit that last word and say, “YES!”

What if I wrote without sitting in the waiting room? What would happen then?

Maybe I wouldn’t have the YES!

But I would have words on the page.

Maybe it would be slow.

But it would be happening.

Maybe it would be lousy.

But it would be writing.

photo credit: Holistic Healing NY

photo credit: Holistic Healing NY

Some days the act needs to be enough. Because on those days the “YES” does come when I look at the screen or the page and realize I did it.

I created.

I produced.

I worked on my art.

I danced.

So step out of the waiting room. Consider this your number being called. It’s your turn. Now exhale.

To check out the rest of this series, click on the link below.

photo credit: 1ms.net

photo credit: 1ms.net

Day 26: Glory in the Ordinary

Sometimes I’m torn. I see images and hear stories of people who give it all up. The house, the cars, the haircuts and the makeup, the first world. For what? For the third. And a part of me is jealous.

photo credit: jpgmag.com

photo credit: jpgmag.com

There is a part of me that wants to give it all up and go. Go somewhere I could feel like my skills make a difference. Somewhere a smile and a meal is enough. Somewhere to hug and give shoes. Somewhere other than here.

Sometimes here feels so entitled.

Here isn’t bad. It really isn’t. It’s blessed. I just don’t think we always recognize the blessing, so we curse it instead of thank Him. Sometimes I’m so busy cursing the stain I can’t get out of my shirt, the winter tires I need for the car, or the coat of paint I need to get on the house, I miss the shirt, the car, and the house in front of me.

I want to hold on and let go at the same time.

Real life calls me. Kids who need help with homework and jobs that have hours and the dinner that needs to be made. There is a part of my mind that is torn to pieces by the real life and my heart forgets that here isn’t bad.

Because here is a ministry. The dinner I make my family is as much a blessing as the one for orphans in Africa. The shoes I tie are a service no matter where the feet land. The paints I get out and clean up so they can create remind us of the Creator. The life I live is  a blessing if I let it be. Because this:

So I will vacuum and fold. I will pick up from baseball and drop off the forgotten permission slip. I will make the beds and even burn the cookies. I will lose my patience and find my forgiveness. I will try to do it all and fail into His arms.

But…

If I do it for His glory then it’s the very thing I’m supposed to do. And I can breathe.

To see the rest of the 31 Days series click on the link below.

photo credit: 1ms.net

photo credit: 1ms.net

Day 25: Together

My series for the month continues as I join up with Lisa-Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. Here’s the deal.

Five minutes.

One word.

No editing.

No rethinking.

Just writing.

Today’s word: Together

photo credit: thechangeblog.com

photo credit: thechangeblog.com

GO

I think I can count my friends on my fingers. I mean really good friends. Or just friends, actually.

I haven’t been friends with the same person since we were three. I don’t have an endless contact list or a four digit Facebook friends group. I’ve never had a big circle. Mine has always been intimate and small, consisting more of family than people from the outside. I somehow thought this would change as I grew up. I thought friendship would come more easily. I thought cliques would disappear. I thought I’d belong.

I thought wrong.

But guess what, the friends I have would do anything for me. We do life together. Want to hear about them?

My husband. Yes, he is my number one friend. I thought this was kind of weird for a long time, over a decade in fact. That is until someone asked me if I’d rather have a big circle of girlfriends or my husband. I pick him. Every time.

My mom. Best friend. Seriously. She’s the one I call with everything. She seen me at my best and at my worst. She’s seen who I was and who I am (and I have a feeling she has an idea of who I will be) and she still loves me. Sometimes people think it’s strange to count my mom as my friend. I’m good with strange.

My dad. Never did I think I’d be so lucky to have one as great as him. That’s all I can type without tears.

My brother. An only child for 15 years, and then he came along. And boy am I glad he did. We have a knowing between us. I like that.

S. I won’t name her, though she’ll know. We couldn’t be more different or more alike. We’re in the same boat paddling upstream most of the time. When we talk about it (or type about it) we can put down the oars for a minute and drift (or dive in).  Her family is an extension of this friendship and for that I am grateful.

C. We met on one of my least becoming nights, yet she stayed. She moved in a stranger and will forever have a place in my heart, no matter where she lives or how long it has been.

A. Another friendship forged through spouses that I am grateful for every time we have the chance to talk. Finding out more of who she is helps me see how friendship grows deeper. It may have taken awhile, but we got there. Her family is a bonus.

Are there more people who I know? Of course. Are there more people I am friends with? You bet. But these people, these are the ones that I do life with. Day in, day out of my heart, together. I always thought friendship would look different, and it does. These are the people who make me feel like me.

And I am grateful.

Take a few minutes and think about the people in your life. Think about what they mean to you. Chances are the reminder will bring the exhale.

STOP

I know reading about my friends may not bring your exhale. But it’s part of my dance because they are part of my ink as much as these words. As you dance think about who is part of yours.

And a confession….this took longer than 5.

If you want to join in check out Five Minute Fridays and if you’ve missed any of my 31 Days of exhale, please click on the link below!

Dance and breathe.

exhale small5-minute-friday-1