Parents of 10-12 year olds! Still room in upcoming For Girls Only and For Boys Only Great Conversations classes in Seattle and Federal Way! Register here: www.greatconversations.com .
I shared it, even though I was not feeling particularly peaceful at the moment. It was more like a reminder to myself, that even after a brutal church budget meeting, this holds true.
This morning, I went for a walk. I got started a little later than I had intended, and was just in time for the "middle schoolers waiting for the bus" show in my neighborhood. Some stood resolutely at the corner where the bus stops. Some "awwww"ed at my dog as we passed (he's pretty cute). Some waitied in a car with a parent for the bus to arrive. One girl crossed the street above the corner and said something to her mother in the car there. Her mother began yelling at her in another language. And then there was the kid who came running down a side street and turned the corner just in time to see the bus disappearing down the hill.
Living as I do now in a rather spacious nest, I have the luxury to skip this kind of chaos most mornings. But rest assured, 10 years ago, that could easily have been me raising my voice, completely irritated with one of my preteens for God knows what at 7:30 in the morning. I'm not judging. I'm grateful.
Grateful for the space allowed me in the mornings now at this point in my life. Grateful my young adult children are fairly independent and doing well. Grateful for the committee who came together last night for deep and difficult conversations about ways to keep our small church buoyed enough to do its vital work in our community.
One of our council members said near the end of the meeting, "We are struggling with this budget, but this is not the budget of a struggling church." Peace flowed in to my spirit with that truth.
So, I ask you--you who are in the midst of the parenting journey, or who are just beginning, or who are reflecting on your more active parent years: what are you struggling with? And is it a thing you are struggling with in the moment (a missed bus, perhaps?) or is it the sign of a struggling family (arguments every day, lack of ongoing respect, people pulling apart from one another and not finding their way back)?
If it's the latter, find help. Take some moments to center yourself each day. Reach out. Get professional help. Call your friends. Cry. Hug. Connect.
If it's the former, take a breath. There will be another bus tomorrow and another opportunity to catch it on time. Bless your child's learning moment. Bless yours. Breath. Hug. Connect.
There is not magic place on the map of life called peace, where we can go and stay and have all the pieces of our lives fall magically into place forever and ever. And even if there was, I wouldn't want to live there. Instead, I strive to visit that spiritual place of my own making often, filling my internal cup so I can come back into the world and keep doing the work that needs to be done.
May peace be with you today.
Here is the interview--and a correction. I did speak at the National Sex Ed Conference, but not about this. I spoke about using Christian Scripture in Sexuality Education, so if you want to know more about that, contact me.
One of the keynote speakers at the conference talked about the teen pregnancy trend being lower nation-wide, and I dug deeper for the article I wrote about my own community. Still, the point is made--enjoy a listen. We do need to come together and work on issues of healthy sexuality education and awareness for our youth!
The lead in is….
The national headline reads: "Teen pregnancy rates on steady decline across the country".
The local headline is a much different picture though when it comes to south King County.
Calling all women! When was the last time you had a well-woman exam?
January is Cervical Health Month! Make sure to schedule your annual exam and stay healthy!!!!
Want more info? Go here: http://www.plannedparenthood.org/health-topics/womens-health/pelvic-exam-4306.htm
Want to know what to expect at your visit? Watch this youtube video!
Know someone who needs to hear this? Pass it on!
As I write this, it is still one full week before Thanksgiving. I've had an unusually busy fall, having worked most of the last four weekends, traveling a lot, and having less than enough down time between projects. And I still have miles to go before I get much of a break.
"I'm not going to listen to ANY Christmas music until AFTER Thanksgiving," proclaimed a youth in my youth group this weekend. "It's ridiculous how there are already stations playing Christmas music."
Up until this year, I would have agreed, jumped on the bandwagon, and perhaps even gotten a protest going. Heck, back in mid October, I even posted some Christmas decorations next to the Halloween decorations on Facebook and commented about the ridiculousness of it.
But now--five weeks later?
Now, I'm just too tired to protest. I have limited energy. I realized I just don't care about when anyone plays Christmas music, or when the lights go up on houses, etc. It's just not worth it to me to make a big deal out of it.
I'm going to live my life, do my own thing, perhaps listen in to holiday music occasionally--like when I inadvertently tuned in to the 24/7 Christmas music station the other night on my drive home from a late meeting. They were playing Adam Sandler's Hannuka Song. Cracks me up every time. Then I was belting out "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing" with Amy Grant before I--kachink--realized I was listening to the Christmas music station in early November.
But here's the thing. This was easy for me--to decide not to put any energy into this thing I've resisted for years and years.
Why isn't it so easy to decide not to put energy into other stuff that bugs the heck out of me? Why isn't it so easy to let go of relationship irritations? Expectations I place on myself? Self-imposed obligations?
I'm on a quest. What else would it be healthy for me to just not give energy to? And how can I structure my thinking and actions so that I can let go of those things as easily as I let go of caring when people listen to Christmas music?
If this is true for you, I hope you'll join me and find some things to let go that are not worth your time or energy any longer. I bet we'll find there's more room for joy and love and peace and hope when we do.
This morning on my walk, I stopped to chat with a woman in my neighborhood. We were reminiscing that it had been nearly 20 years since our children had attended preschool together Her twin sons and my youngest are now juniors in college.
We talked about the "empty nest," the joys that our sons are growing into independent men, and the challenges of clarifying who we are in the world as women and people after the intensity of day-to-day parenting shifts to months without seeing the creatures we bore who took so much time and energy to raise.
"Do you feel like you have purpose in your life?" she asked. "Yeah, I do," I replied. "In fact, sometimes I feel a little overwhelmed with purpose."
Increasingly, I've been blessed with opportunities to do meaningful, life-giving, impactful work. It's exciting, fulfilling, and at times results in personal reflections along the lines of "how on earth did I get so blessed?"
Also increasingly, I'm invited to spend evenings and weekends doing this work. I've attempted various methods of self-care in order to make sure I actually take days off. Even wonderful fulfilling work requires balance and space from it in order to refresh and rejuvenate. Even people with purpose need to spend time with spouses, friends, family, and themselves.
I was at a women's retreat last weekend, and the keynote speaker was inspiring to me, with her clarity, humor, and message. She encouraged us as women to be clear about what is our repsonsibility and what isn't, to remember to care for ourselves and not say yes to everything, to think about what we need to do to take care of ourselves instead of constantly meeting what we think are everyone else's expectations of us.
I thanked her for being yet another voice in my head reminding me of that. I don't know about you, but sometimes, I find it too easy to ignore familiar voices when the topic is self-care. This was especially meaningful in the context of the retreat, where I was not only an attendee, but also a workshop presenter, so I was in that familiar place of balancing work and caring for myself at the same time.
Earlier this year, I implemented a "Sabbath" day during Lent. This involved not only not working on my business during that day each week, but also taking time to actively do rejuvenating and refreshing activities--meaning that this wasn't the time I could go to the grocery store or do other errands or tasks that I hadn't gotten done by overworking other days of the week. I explored things like going to an extra yoga class, reading a novel just for fun all afternoon, taking a leisurely walk or even, a nap.
I felt so much better taking a Sabbath during those few weeks last spring that I decided to continue to mark that space off in my calendar each week. Like many things, I do better at the Sabbath part some weeks than others. As recently as last night, I said to a colleague, "If we can do that call on another evening than Monday, that would work better for me."
I aspire to be able to be even more assertive with my protection of my Sabbath and say something like, "I'm not available on Mondays" or "That won't work for me--what other days work for you?" At least I did protect the time that week in the future, which was helpful, since, ironically, I was having this discussion with a colleague on a Monday evening, having agreed to meet months earlier after succombing to the "well-if-it-works-best-for-other-people-I-can-adjust-since-I'm-in-charge-of-my-schedule" which really means, if I'm totally honest, "here-let-me-put-your-needs-ahead-of-mine."
Let me be clear. Your needs are important. And you don't need to take care of me. But I do. I need to take care of me. As an adult, that's my job. If I don't do it, it's really no one else's fault but my own.
It's such a slippery slope, too, because the more I take care of myself, the more I'm able to set boundaries about caring for myself. And the less I do, the less I see the boundaries I'm flinging aside and ignoring (just this once) in order to meet some expectations I think someone has for me.
As women, these are crucial areas for us to explore. How do we balance all of this? How do we define ourselves when our nests are "empty," or, as my friend Mary likes to say, "spacious"? How do we care for ourselves and still have energy, love, and time left to care for elderly parents, young adults wondeirng what to do with their lives, spouses, partners, friendships, and more? There is no one-size-fits-all answer. But the questions are important. The conversations are important.
My friend, Suzy, who is also one of my yoga instructors, came in to class one day and told us how yoga helps us with the stories we embrace. One of her sons had commented on some pretty flowers on the table. She replied, "Thanks, your dad bought those for me." She said the rest of the story was that she got up that morning and told her husband that they were going to the farmer's market so he could buy her flowers and when they got there, she handed him a twenty and pointed out the flowers. And what she was embracing was that her husband had bought flowers for her, because he had.
Sometimes, we discount a beautiful gesture like that because we asked for it. Somehow, it doesn't count as much. I get caught up in that, too, but really, it isn't any less wondeful that I ow nhave a vase full of beautiful flowers on my table that my husband bought me last night because I said, when he walked into the store where we were meeting, "I think you should buy me flowers today--there's some pretty ones over there." And he picked some gorgeous ones out, and carefully put them in the plastic bag and in the cart.
You see, in order to take care of ourselves, we need to be aware of our needs and our wants. We need to know the difference, and make sure our needs are met and learn which wants will make our soul sing.
And if our souls are to sing, we need to remember that even music has rests built in, and even God, the creator of heaven and earth, took a day of rest.
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Check out this article for tips on grilling safely, fireworks safety, and driving safely!