Category Archives: Goals

Nineteen

I’m sitting in the car in the rain as husband runs into Food Lion for the last of the groceries after our Saturday Costco trip. On my heart is recovery of teenage self. Literally. My chest keeps tightening and breath catching. That young woman is so lost inside of me.

This week I take one of her stories to certificate 2 training. It’s from the last year she was a teenager, 1990, where she believed her fate was sealed and all hope for choice was gone. It’s where she finally departed herself, shedding any remnants of who she was or might have been for who she was required to be.

I have punished her for that. For years she has borne the brunt of blame for trying to survive. For doing the best she could. For existing.

And now?

I’m in a weird space of feeling all of the feelings connected to that part of me as I sort them into their categories. Everything feels way too intense and current. Things that should not be a big deal seem huge. And things that really do loom large, well those feel unbearable.

Today’s 7 stares back from the calendar app on my phone, reminding me that in one month I will be another number away from nineteen. Twenty-eight numbers away, to be exact.

What is this crazy feeling of being so close, yet so far from myself? I hope to find out more this week as I regroup with others as we walk through our stories together.

I am grateful to my family for, once again, holding down the fort and to my friends for cheering me on, as I bravely go where I haven’t before, into another scene from my past.

The countdown is on!

Rolling Dimes

It was time to roll the dimes. A certificate payment deadline loomed close, and while there were funds in the account, the numbers ran tight.

This season of being at home feels like a luxury item, one that I am trying to steward well. I am not actively bringing in funds from a job, though I am working hard to help manage those brought home by my hard-working partner.

He reminds me we are a team, and I believe that.

Dumping some of the dimes from the two-liter Coke bottle onto the floor, I began grouping them by tens to roll in bundles of fifty. Each roll held five dollars worth, and by the end I had fourteen rolls. That gave me $70 to deposit in the account. Every little bit helps.

More than the $70 was the tangible reminder that 700 times I felt seen. Each dime appeared in a random place when I most needed the encouragement of provision.

My banker friends might appreciate and eye-roll over the drive-through blunder I made at the window the afternoon I took them to the bank. As the drawer slid out, I placed a gallon Ziploc bag with fourteen rolls of dimes in it. Is it okay if I deposit these here in the drive-thru?

The teller graciously nodded as she pulled the drawer shut. I scanned the window while waiting, and my eyes landed on a red sign lettered in white No baggies or rolled coins in the drive-thru. Little Mae’s landed on the jar of dog treats.

Can we bring Dewey next time?!!!!

Waving frantically to get the teller’s attention I pointed at the sign and mouthed, I’m so sorry! 

She responded that it was okay, and I asked if she had told me to come inside. She hadn’t. Then she asked if I needed a balance for the account. I didn’t. Sending two blue lollipops out to me and Mae, she sent us on our way.

I will be sure to go in the lobby next time! I am already on the lookout for more dimes to roll.

Up Next

One month from today I begin Training Certificate Level 2, a continuation of work begun in September, 2016. It sounds sudden, yet it is not, since I applied and was accepted in the fall. I just have not talked about it on the blog and have only mentioned it a few other places.

There is a different aura surrounding my pursuit of this training then there was with Level 1I feel more ambivalence and remind myself that only I can take steps and make choices to move forward in my life. No one else can do it for me.

I continue to step into the unknown.

In December I was caught off guard by a friend one night at Community Worship Practice. She asked how things were going with part 2. Confident that I had not announced my pursuit of Level 2 I stood, confused. She reminded me that I had shared a link on Facebook.

I immediately knew she was talking about this which was a memory of where I was the year before (preparing for my second session), compared to this which was current. So consider this my official announcement of the next step.

I have been reading and writing in preparation as well as making travel and lodging arrangements. The location is closer, so I am planning a road trip for the first training. I look forward to seeing familiar faces and to meeting new ones.

What will I do with it? At present, I will continue to love and care for those closest to me in this very full season of tweens, teens, and adults in my home and life. Each stage requires a different engagement, and I am learning helpful skills to use in repairing rupture, restoring relationship, and recovering self. I am learning to navigate the waters of martial and family conflict with more courage and kindness.

 That alone is success!

I know there is more on the horizon. I am gaining clarity as the fog lifts and clears and images come into focus. I am being met with possibilities in surprising ways. I am learning to imagine what could be in the midst of what is.

Thank you for being present and interested, Dear Readers! Thank you for your thoughts, prayers, and encouragement as I level up. I am grateful and blessed.

Scenes From Seattle, part 3

The following pictures are from my January trip to Seattle. Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

All packed up and ready to go. My four-legged little friend wants to join me.

Nothing beats a thoughtful suitcase-surprise!

This is the room waiting for a special visitor to arrive!

My beautiful sister, Deborah, flew in to join me!

This was a favorite space in our room. I loved the fireplace and the footrest. The chairs were comfy, too.

I still had to go to class during the day. Coffee and coloring helped me keep my focus on the task at hand.

Evenings were made for Lavender and Lemon Drop Martinis! Nothing beats a martini with the sis.

Seafood night! Dinners out together were the best. They were the highlight of my day. (Sorry, Group. You were a close second!)

My face when I am sitting across from one of my favorite people ever and cannot believe it is really real. And seafood skewers and wine make me smile, too.

There is so much love in this picture. And so much longing to not be so far apart. And there is also Ubering. That happened.

This is the smile of denial that we are getting ready to board the light rail to the airport. It was too soon to think about saying goodbye.

All aboard! A new experience awaits on the light rail ride to the airport.

A bag of goodies is tucked safely into my satchel. Bath bombs for all! They made it home with zero breakage.

I always appreciate the space for sitting with coffee and reflecting on the weekend as I wait in the airport for my final connecting flight, following the red-eye.

I left this,

. . . and returned to this!

Scenes from Seattle, part 2

This was the view from the window at Thursday afternoon’s lunch with friends.

Friday night’s dinner was accompanied by a flight of wine.

Coffee was brewed each morning in this pot ~ and poured into a travel mug to take along on the bus.

I picked up this mug which held my coffee as I waited at the bus stop in the rain.

By Sunday morning’s group time, the candle burns low.

Across the street from school stands the question of the day.

Space NeedleThe downtown ride after dark was beautiful.

For part 1, click here.

Lumping the Goals

Its is past mid-October. The earth keeps spinning and moving on its track at a speed I can hardly handle. Hours roll into days, weeks, months. They pass.

The last goal-specific post I wrote chronicled July’s achievements. August and September have had to fend for themselves. I wonder, if you work on the goals and don’t blog about them, was any progress made? Consider this a lumping together of August through October, even though October is not quite over. It is a good-faith post.

August found me back in the classroom for what I lovingly call My fourth year of a two-year stint. Year four has finally given me a groove, and the students and teachers I work with are the best. They make the days a joy and an adventure. Every day is full.

September found me on a flight to Seattle for the first of four sessions at The Allender Center at the Seattle School. I return in November, January, and March, which itself is a huge goal in the midst of being realized. For all who ask What will you do with your certificate when you are finished? that is an excellent question, and one I am fully considering.

Those are the two big events that I credit for the lack of time to blog about all of the smaller ones that have been happening.

I am still in the Bible daily. Jeremiah, I Timothy, Psalms, and Proverbs are where God meets me these mornings. I try to journal then and take time to be still. Steve and I pray together.

Connecting with family and the kids happens regularly. I am especially intentional about grabbing time with child four before he leaves the country at the end of November. Quality time with him looks like moments in the kitchen or around the table or in his almost-finished-but-moved-into room. We have taken walks together downtown. Celebrating his eighteenth birthday as a family at Wood Grill Buffet was a milestone.

As to the other kiddos, I have not been faithful about writing down the specifics of what we have done, but fall coffee drinks have been gotten, dog walks taken, shopping for clothes or desired objects has happened, and projects worked on together. Quality time is always a work in progress.

Steve and I still keep our Wednesday nights open for date night. We also try to grab as many walks together as possible and moments on the porch for coffee or a glass of wine. We know we need to do more and be more intentional about planning out our time. We continue to fight for what we know we need which is to be present together.

Connections with friends have looked like phone calls or coffee dates. I went to an overnight women’s retreat at my church with Angela. Impromptu connections with other friends have been sweet. Fun is still hard for me to come by and engage in, but I am working on it. This season of study is teaching me more about myself and my style of relating.

Stephen Ministry and worship team continue to be engaging. I have participated in both as much as possible and even got a bonus turn to sing on team as a substitute. That was a sweet gift. I updated the Stephen Ministry bulletin board for fall, as well.

Financially, we keep chugging along, and God keeps providing for all of our needs. Some ways are predictable like through the paychecks we receive for the work that we do. Others are more surprising and unexpected, like through the minor car accident that was not our fault but will replace the Jetta. In all cases we are humbled and blessed by our father’s provision.

Finally, writing. Moments like now, inopportune and hurried, are when it happens. I try to make time by taking it from somewhere seemingly less important and have kept up with the Red Tent submissions. August and September’s posts were published. As for my own blog, the number of new posts are fewer than I would like but are exactly what they need to be in this season.

To all who continue to faithfully read and engage my blog and life endeavors, thank you for your interest and care. You bless me greatly, and I hope you are blessed! Here’s to finishing out an amazing year!

Before

It’s the last night before. Tomorrow begins the first leg of the journey to after.

It seems that I should have really profound posts written and scheduled, but I just don’t. I have a suitcase almost packed and a satchel almost packed and a stack of cards and thoughtful gifts left by dear ones walking this road with me.

There are memories, so many, being made with the people in this house who need me more than cyberspace needs me. So instead of writing I drive through DQ and McD’s and take Dewey on an extra-long, three squat walk with the littlest girls.

I walk our downtown streets at sunset with a son who towers over me, a bag of Windy City Mix popcorn shared between us. We talk and reminisce of how this journey began to come into focus for me, and his key role, because he had one. His excitement for me offers courage to my fainting heart. His upcoming travels around the world remind me that I can do these trips across the country.

Messages come in from children and friends on social media sites. People remember that this is the first trip, and they care.

I am shocked and overwhelmed by care.

So many people are loving, praying, encouraging.

It is so humbling.

I am so blessed.

So I hit publish on this to give you a quick glimpse into before before spending time with my favorite. He is the one I will miss the most, who is working so hard and doing so much to support me and make this year of training happen.

Did I say how blessed I am?

Mid September

It is mid September, and I have written one post. Clearly I am not keeping up with the goals well or with much of anything else it would seem.

But I am.

I am keeping up with a lot.

There is so much to keep up with that the blog has gone silent, and when that happens I know it’s too much. It’s always too much. But real life comes first. Always.

Those of you who have been following my journey to Seattle know that in less than I week I board a plane for the first of four trips. I am so glad that the assignment was due two weeks ago, so that I am not hastily trying to scratch something out.

Like this blog post.

At least I felt that way until I read this and realized that there is probably a facilitator reading and marking up my story. Then I lost feeling in my arms.

No turning back.

It’s getting real, and I am grateful for the opportunity. I am grateful for all of the people who have walked with me toward the edge of this cliff and helped me get ready and brave enough to take a running leap.

Or maybe just a weak-kneed step.

I’m stepping. Stepping so much into so much stuff. Sometimes all I can do is take the next step.

It’s a fine line to stay present and to just breathe in each moment. Breath is such a gift. It helps in the midst of all of the preparation to remember that what will be will be. It’s all I have, really, when I feel the spiral.

The next breath. And the next. And here comes another.

Presence sits here with me as I assemble these few words to explain where I am and in a few moments it will go outside with me to walk a dog with my love under the most waxing gibbous of moons.

Thank you for your presence, Dear Readers. It is a gift to send out my words to hearts who will read and care. You are all a gift a grace.

July Goals Post

July felt like the essence of summer. There was an entire month that had nothing to do with school, unlike June where we were wrapping up the school year and August where we begin again.

July was the month of family vacation and house projects and VBS. The high school graduate moved out for the month, leaving an empty space to work on for the youngest brother. In addition to the yearly goals, I set house project goals that were mostly accomplished ~ at least the most important ones.

Moving right along. . .

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.

Bible reading has stayed on track, moving me into Ezra and Acts. Journaling is a bit sparse, though. Lots of books are being read. I will count To Be Told by Dan Allender here.

  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.

Summer connection has been fun. Vacation offered many opportunities for various one-on-one moments. Steve and I continue date night informally each week, but there have been some formal dates added in there. We were able to get dinner out one evening and also grab coffee at the coffee shop a few times.

I connected with Coco over her room painting project.

From thispaint job

To this

Painted room

There were also other projects accomplished with the kids that offered us one-on-one time together. Lots of sorting and decluttering and organizing and caring for pets together.

  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!

Creeping along, this happened. There was much that DIDN’T happen, as well. There are not enough hours in the day or days in the month. So to those who I tried to make grand summer plans with that didn’t happen, I am sorry. Thank you for grace.

There was some time with Becky and Angela .

There was time with my youngest sister and her family.

There was yes to fun on vacation!

fun

  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!

I walked Dewey A LOT this summer. Many times. Yoga, not so much. I really need to be better, as my body can tell when I slack off. The aging process is not kind.

  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.

I am writing this post the night before back to school. Enough said there. Go around again!

  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.

In June I wrote the following:

By next month, I hope to have all of the reading complete and the first plane ticket booked. I also hope to have a space on my computer devoted to writing out my first assignment.

I have my first plane ticket booked and the first assignment ready to send in. This month I read The Drama of the Gifted Child by Alice Miller.

  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.

With the light summer schedule, I was surprised by leadership with the opportunity to do phone supervision for Stephen Ministry in July. That was such a gift, since it fell during VBS week. I was not on worship team until August. More about that next month!

  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.

Summer offered more time for me to help with keeping track of money. We are making progress together. I jumped in to helping balance the checkbook again.

  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

I wrote and published seven blog posts during July. Most of my free time was spent on house projects trying to get lots of painting finished. What time left to write was mostly spent on personal work not being shared in this space. My Red Tent submission that didn’t run in July was posted here.

So here July’s goals are being recapped the night before I greet my students for the 2016-2017 school year. My summer flew by. To those who kept reading and following and encouraging me in the quiet spaces, thank you. You are the ones who remind me that you are there reading when I wonder if I should keep writing. You show up in just the right moment, and I am blessed!

June Goals Post

June found me in a place of endings and beginnings. Ending the five kids in five different schools year and the high school career of child four took a lot of energy. Beginning the summer did, as well.

In the midst of it all, I tried keeping up with and tracking the goals, though I must say that the vigor of the first half of the year feels faded and worn. I am tired.

  • Spiritual ~ Maintain daily quiet time and prayer, following current Bible reading plan. Journal responses and thoughts that result from that time. Spend time in stillness. Read one faith-based book/month.

I finished 1 Chronicles and am moving right along into second. Romans is where I am in the New Testament, and the second half of the year means a second journey through Psalms. Proverbs moves verse by verse throughout the entire year, so I am up to chapter 19. My faith-based book, thanks to the work I am doing this fall was Trauma + Grace by Serene Jones.

  • Family ~ Connect with Steve intentionally each week on a heart-level. Risk sharing something scary or overwhelming inside of me with him during that time. Connect with at least one child intentionally each week. Keep track. Make the most of one~on~one impromptu moments that arise with the children. Keep track.

Steve and I have set aside Wednesday nights to connect and hang out. If you are at all curious about Wednesday Night, just ask our children, and you will get an earful. Sometimes we talk, others we watch a favorite Netflix episode or a movie. More topics of hard conversation are arising the closer I get to fall. More temptations to flee and escape are, as well.

The porch swing has offered a great space for us to process life together.

Connecting with the children during the summer looks different than the school year, due to the more relaxed nature of life and schedule. Little Mae and I took a birthday day trip together to Richmond to visit big sisters early in June. I didn’t do well with keeping track of individual times together this month. Some of our times have looked like working on painting projects one-on-one or heading to the pool or sneaking out for coffee or walking to the mailbox to mail a letter.

  • Social ~ Connect with at least one friend for coffee or conversation time each week. Say yes to fun. Make an effort to have people over to the house again starting with once/month. Adult kids and their guests are a bonus and not part of this number!

This is going well, as my summer schedule offers open days. I have had friends in for coffee in my corner and met with them at the pool while our kids swam. This is the first year ever when I have been able to go to the pool and just sit on the side reading or talking with a friend. That. Is. HUGE!!!!!!!

Adult kids continue to show up and are always welcome.

  • Physical ~ Do 20 minutes of yoga at least five times a week. Longer or more times is a bonus. Improve flexibility in my down dog. Practice presence on the mat. Consider walking Dewey as an opportunity to get exercise and fresh air and not an annoying burden built into my already full day!

I usually am good about starting my day with yoga. It is so necessary, as I notice a difference in my ability to move when I don’t, and that is just a fact that comes from being mid-forty with a bockety back. I have added core work, as well, with the reality that I have to work harder to keep what I have sinking in deeper daily.

  • Teaching ~ Organize my teaching materials and office space. Write an encouraging note to one student/week recognizing individuality and strengths.

Of course, it’s summer, and school is out. Teaching has taken the back burner, though I have picked up a few new things here and there for fall and jotted down some ideas. I took a few hours one morning to organize and pack up my desk and am trying not to borrow trouble from fall and just stay present in summer. Mid-August will come soon enough!

  • Personal Development ~ Pursue the Allender Center’s Lay Counseling Certificate. Read one book per month related to personal growth.

This is real. It is really happening, and now goals in this area look like booking plane tickets and reading assigned books and beginning the writing assignments. The Healing Path by Dan Allender and A General Theory of Love by Thomas Lewis, M.D., Fari Amini, M.D., and Richard Lannon, M.D. claimed my reading space this month.

By next month, I hope to have all of the reading complete and the first plane ticket booked. I also hope to have a space on my computer devoted to writing out my first assignment.

  • Ministry ~ Attend Stephen Ministry meetings regularly. Participate actively. Return to worship team rotation at least once per cycle.

Summer schedule is here, so this area is lighter, as well. I plan to sing in August, the Sunday before returning to work.

  • Financial ~ Take intentional time with Steve to go over the family finances and budget and grow in understanding of our financial goals together.

This continues to be my weakest link. Always room to grow here!

  • Writing ~ Schedule intentional time each week to write and work on the blog. Submit one Red Tent post for consideration each month.

I submitted a Red Tent post that didn’t run this month, so I am considering posting it here on the blog. It was excellent preparation for my work this fall. With writing assignments approaching, I really need to be intentional to make writing a priority and not just the thing I get to do when everything else is finished.

There you have June’s goals report. I almost need a sub-category for summer goals. Summer brings with it the hope of finishing some painting projects and getting rooms sorted and rearranged along with a reality check that fall is fast approaching. Oh to practice presence in the moments!