"A Global Movement of Positive Energy!"
Writing Your Love Story...
About me, I'm not, by any means, a hater of Valentine's Day. I love flowers, candles, candy, cheesy cards and awful, corny, gigantic displays of balloons. I love having an excuse to do something nice for someone I love. That's what Valentine's Day is to me- an excuse. Because, really, I strive to show the people in my life love on a daily basis- not one day a year because it is expected of me. This Valentine's Day is different. Writing an article focused on love has been excruciating, no matter how I've tried to spin it.
About five months ago (five months to the day on Valentine's Day, to be exact), I suffered a breakup. And I mean suffered! I was heartbroken. Watching a relationship unravel and ultimately end knocked the wind out of me. Admittedly, I went a little crazy. It is in the times when I am pushed past my breaking point, when it all seems an irreparable mess, that I learn the most about myself.
Quench the thirst of my soul...
In my late twenties, I moved to Arizona, convinced that I couldn't take another drop of rain. The constant blue skies and warm sunny days were a welcome change. What the Northwest lacks in the sunshine and blue skies, the Southwest more than makes up for. I've come to appreciate the beauty in the desert- the bright orange and pink flowers on a blooming cactus, the rolling hills, giant rock formations and the amazing sunrises and sunsets. I've been here four years now, and I've loved every minute of it.
Well, almost. By the time summer hits, I am ready for a taste of the Northwest. It's not just the high temps that get me or the feeling of being completely landlocked. It is something deeper. When the weather turns hot and I can't do my usual exploring outdoors, my soul is overcome with an unquenchable thirst. It longs for the sweet smell of pine and salt water, for a crisp cool wind that chills to the bone even on a warm summer day.
As I sit in my air-conditioned office, the scorching sun streaming through my windows, I wonder... How can I quench the thirst of my soul right here, right now, without the Pacific Northwest as my willing playground? I've turned this idea around in my mind over and over again. Would a drive to the "greener" high country of Arizona feed my soul? Would my sound machine set to rain fill me up? How about a long talk with an old friend? While all of these things have proven to be good short-term fixes, I am looking for something with a lasting effect. So, I started at the only place I could think of- writing. I wrote in my journal, created brainstorming lists, and spent some time on my knees. Here is what I learned: My soul isn't thirsty for the Northwest. It is thirsty for something comfortable. It wants to be fulfilled. Now, this I can work with.
Finding comfort and fulfillment in 3 thoughtful steps:
1. Boiling Blood and Skipping Beats: You've got to know what makes your heart skip a beat as well as what makes your blood boil. In other words, determine your passions. The things that get you really excited and leave you feeling empowered as well as the things that make you tick and get you riled up. By knowing what things make you feel passion, you can begin to include them in your day-to-day life. Including passions in your everyday routine will serve as reminders of your true self- who you are at your core. These little reminders will be food to your soul.
2. Comfy Pants and a Good Friend: I was sitting in my favorite chair wrapped up in my softest blanket, wearing my comfiest pants talking on the phone to one of my closest friends. When I got off the phone, I practically melted into the chair and realized my soul felt at total peace. It wasn't just the clothes I was wearing, it was the fact that I had allowed myself to truly and deeply connect with my friend on the other end of the phone line. I poured into him and allowed him to pour into me.
Finding people who will love you for exactly who you are could be the most important step in learning to quench the thirst of your soul. These people will walk beside you, pick you up when you fall, and remind you of who you really are during those times when you lose sight of it. They will know you well enough to know exactly what your soul needs when you start to feel thirsty, and they will fill it for you- just by being themselves.
3. Spiritual Connection: No matter what you believe in, there is no question that feeling spiritually connected serves as an anchor for your soul. For me, it is the living God, the Holy Bible and time in prayer. Maybe for you, it is a deeper connection with yourself or being in nature. Does yoga help fill you up? Whatever creates a place of spiritual peace in your life, practice it every day. This will help bring you peace and balance, which will, in turn, bring a sense of fulfillment to your spirit.
Remember, we will all go through periods of drought as well as periods of thirst. But, we don't have to remain in them! By making these practices a part of your daily routine, you will overflow with more than enough peace, passion, and comfort to quench even the thirstiest soul.
Have you ever seen a Lemon tree? When the tree is in full bloom becomes overgrown with Lemons. The branches bend and sag under their weight, but never snap. Sometimes, the lemons fall off the tree before they are ripe enough to pick; fragrant little balls scattered all over the ground as if placed there intentionally as decoration.
Every year for the last three years or so, I have harvested my parents’ lemon tree. I’ve picked hundreds of lemons, suffered countless cuts by the tiny thorns on the branches, and juiced so many lemons I could probably fill a bath tub. We’re coming to the end of the lemon season here in the southwest, and as I was searching for the last few lemons still clinging to the tree, it got me thinking about my own life and how much life can be like the lemon tree and the fruit it bears.
Take the tree. It’s pretty. Before lemons ever start to emerge, it is full of bright green leaves. The leaves have tiny green buds that slowly grow into little green balls and finally, the bright yellow lemon emerges. The fragrance of the tree is crisp, fresh and sweet. Not just the lemons, but even the leaves of the tree are soaked with the sweet smell. Sometimes, before I start picking the fruit, I press my nose directly to a leaf and take in the fragrance with one slow, giant breath.
I’ve gotten so lost in the fresh scent and the pretty bright lemons that thorns have caught me by surprise. Every branch of the tree is covered with thorns so tiny that they can’t even be seen as if protecting the lemon. Although they are tiny, they prick you with the might of a giant needle. Is life unlike that? So full of beauty but not without its thorns.
Now, take the lemon. To me, the lemon is an uplifting fruit to look at, with its smooth round shape and fun yellow color. The lemon makes me think of all things bright and clean. Don’t be fooled by its cheery appearance and sweet smell, though! We all know the sourness hiding inside. But, here’s the best part: the lemon can be made sweet.
Having picked lemons for the last three years, I’ve turned the sourest lemon into the sweetest candy. I’ve made marmalades, butter, jams, and pies. I’ve even used the juice of the lemon to make homemade cleaning solutions and air fresheners. There may not be another fruit as versatile as the lemon! For all its sourness, it can be changed into almost anything. Wouldn’t it be great if we could learn how to do that with our own lives?
Life, like the lemon tree, must be tended to or it can get out of control. Just as branches sag and buckle under the weight of too many lemons, so our lives will get bogged down if we don’t tend to the things which need tending. No matter how beautiful or perfect a life looks there will always be thorns, but despite its thorns, our life should always be bearing fruit. Sure, some fruit will fall off the tree and other fruit will harden and stick before it can be picked… but the majority of the fruit will ripen to its peak. Here’s the thing though: you have to do something with the lemon once it’s picked or it will not mature beyond its natural bitter state. So many possibilities the lemon has, but it’s up to us to use it.
I strive to bear fruit like the lemon. How do you look at life? Do you see just a lemon, bitter and sour? Or do you see a lemon for all its possibilities?
We know that we should say no....
Or at least think about it before responding, but before we know it we've already blurted out "Yes! Of course, I'd be happy to!" Many of us often say yes when we really ought to say no. We've all been there: a friend asks us to help plan a party, a co-worker asks if we will take on an extra project, or a member of the PTA asks if we will head the latest fundraiser. We know that we should say no, or at least think about it before responding, but before we know it we've already blurted out "Yes! Of course, I'd be happy to!"
Why? Why is it so hard to say no? Maybe we feel obligated or maybe we are afraid we will hurt someone's feelings. Sometimes, we try to prove to ourselves that we are Superwoman and can do it all, and other times we just want to be perceived as the woman who can do it all. Regardless of your reasons, if you fall into the "yes" trap, take a step back and recognize that it is not only okay to say no sometimes, it is also necessary!