Category Archives: flourish

Word of the Year 2020

My word came to me in October. offering two months to ponder and confirm that it was, indeed, the one.

firmly fixed, supported or balanced, not shaking or moving

regular, even, and continuous in development, frequency or intensity

Art journaling feelings around what I desire for 2020 confirmed my choice. I created two practice pages before designing the official page.

The first was arranged at the Intention Day Retreat. It holds the themes but not the word.

This page inspires me as I prepare for 2020!

The second I assembled while processing on my own.

I love the dog on this page.

2019 was my favorite year, yet. Flourish was the exact word I needed to get moving and take steps towards growth. So many good things happened, including the start of my business, Heart Path Story Coaching.

I love that in 2019 my friend, Angela, and I shared the same word! Here is her post about it! I look forward to reading about her choice for this year. We each flourished in our own way, proving that a word can be both general for many and specific to each person.

I recently took an online quiz that offered to choose a word for me based on my answers to questions. It came up with stand.

Looking at my art journal pages, I see how that fits in with the word I chose. There are a lot of standing images, including the dog!

I shared my untitled page during the final art journaling session of 2019. I loved the observations participants made for me. This is the beauty of the process. You choose and arrange images subconsciously that make sense when you and others name what is seen.

I love the polar bear. He is my favorite.

Comments such as This doesn’t seem like you. The seating feels structured and the gears appear rigid, not like the free-flowing Julie I know. But when I look closer at the pattern on the floor, I know that whoever is sitting in those seats is going to receive goodness.

The polar bear was noted. I knew he had to be on the page. Something about his presence and posture evoked the feeling of my word. Another participant said, That’s Steve!

Last year felt playful and open-ended as I set an intention to Flourish. From where I stood at the beginning, I knew that any movement would be forward. I truly felt like a plant that was emerging from the earth, poking its head out of the soil and into the sunshine before twisting and sprawling and blooming in a season of rapid growth.

2020 is calling me to be steady. To continue on a path of steady flourishing. To stand firm in what I have started and work on making progress towards specific goals. It is time to settle into more of an intentional routine.

The structured seating and clock-like gears are my reminders to stay steady and focused as is the runner on the path. Tho people stand on paddle boards, balancing, moving steadily forward. And the snail is playfully obvious.

This is a year to be steady in 2020, a phrase which only came to me after I chose the word.

Now it’s your turn to share. Please do in the comments. Happy New Year!

Overgrown

Summer flourishes with overgrown flowerbeds. Weeds crowd corners daring to be pulled.

Black-eyed Susans, Coneflowers, and Lamb’s ears compete for space among the unwanted invaders. Climbing the steps to the porch, I succumb to feelings of hopelessness. Why bother?

Remind me next summer when I think hanging baskets are a good idea, that they are really not. I tell my husband and my youngest daughter. I know one of them will remember. The porch is not my happy place right now. Dry hanging baskets only accentuate that fact.

No longer the flower lady, I am the lady with the overgrown house on the corner. Everything feels a mess, both inside and out, reminding me that when one area flourishes, another often suffers. This year it is the landscaping. The gardens. The unfinished porch.

Still the flowers fight forward. They open and bloom and stand their ground. One day I decide to set a fifteen minute timer in twilight’s glow and pull weeds. A stunning before and after rewards my effort. Never mind the thistles and thorns lurking around the corner.

I choose to celebrate the beauty that is in front of me.

Swept and Scrubbed

No cars line the street alongside my house. It is July’s end in this college town, townie summer, the pause before resume.

Dog barks frantically, running to his post at the window. His paws grasp the ledge, as he pulls himself up to look out at the culprit.

It is a moment of serendipity amidst the incessant barking when I realize the street sweeper is the source of his angst. Secretly delighted, I could not have planned a better time for it to make rounds. The cars are never all gone.

Usually we hear the barking and say, We should have moved the cars! This empty-street moment is brought to you by a last-minute vehicle inspection, a son with a driver’s license, a husband at work, and college kids still at their respective homes for summer break

The street is brushed tidily clean in preparation for August. It is washed down by the torrential rains that fell this afternoon. Swept and scrubbed, it waits in anticipation of what is to come.

I spend time sweeping and scrubbing the underside of the blog. Radically untended, post writing in this space has fallen drastically by the wayside. Though the word flourish adorns its front page, a better description of its current reality reads languish.

All is not lost. Much has been gained in other areas. It will circle back. As August approaches more settles, routine emerges, hope surfaces.

The new month beckons, swept and scrubbed fresh and clean, inviting me into its days. Gingerly, I take the first step.

Risen, Indeed

He is risen!
He is risen, indeed!

It is Easter Sunday, a time to celebrate the resurrection and all things new. Yet, even on Resurrection Sunday, many sit in Saturday still, the space of death and loss. It is a tough bind to hold, that of rejoicing in the hope of the resurrection, while simultaneously mourning that we remain here in the death.

Yesterday’s news of the untimely loss of a precious child I was blessed to work with this year in the SVCC and this morning’s news of horrific attacks on worshipers and tourists in Sri Lanka, make the words I was so eager to share today seem flat and trite. How does the story I want to tell even begin to matter in light of the bigger picture?

I think it matters. I think it matters that beauty and hope can be found in unlikely places, in personal ways. This week’s resurrection story came at the perfect time, in an unexpected way, and I share it here now.

Wednesday was full of goodness. I worked on an online class in the morning, created in my art journal after that, had a Facetime call with two dear friends, did the after school pick up.

I noticed while driving past my house, that there was a box on the front porch, a package. I did not remember ordering anything, but sometimes Steve or one of the adults does, so I made a mental note to check when I got home.

Then I forgot.

Afternoon routine involved connecting with kids, preparing supper, wrapping up the day, watching a favorite Youtube channel while working in the kitchen. An unboxing was happening there (go to 15:53 if you click on the link), reminding me that there was a box waiting on the front porch. I stopped what I was was doing to go check it out.

It was labeled as containing 50 hangers. This struck me as interesting and odd at the same time. I use a mishmash of hangers and wondered if maybe Steve wanted to start using nicer hangers or if one of the adults had gifted me with a box of them.

The return address was local, but unfamiliar, and read Shoot for Your Dreams. The closer I looked at the box, the more dented it appeared, and I began to feel an odd sensation relating to opening it. Was it a good idea?

This has happened twice before. I was afraid to open an unexpected package and felt an unreasonable anxiety that maybe there was something dangerous inside. The first one held cherries, the second, a thoughtful gift.

Bracing myself, I opened this box.

This is the box that held the surprise. I would have been happy with 50 matching velvet hangers, but that is not what was inside.

I removed this.

I was not expecting a Gucci dust cover bag to come out of the box. Curious and curiouser.

Untying the strings at the top, I pulled out a gorgeous spring Gucci bag. I. Was. Stunned.

This spring tapestry-style Gucci bag is covered with beautiful images on both sides and has bamboo-style handles. It is gorgeous.

I took it to show my son who began snapping pictures and researching the pattern and authenticating numbers. Yes, it was a real Gucci bag. The mystery deepened, and remains. I had suspicions that did not pan out, and clues that have not come all the way together.

I decided to receive the beauty and rest in the mystery.

For this particular gift to arrive in the midst of Holy Week, felt significant. I wrote in this post a story of loss. A death, if you will. Out of the dented hanger box came something beautiful, brimming with images of life, flourishing like my word this year. I was overwhelmed.

It felt so personal and kind, this third surprise package. It reminded me of another gift of three.

This is my resurrection story today. It is the resurrection of new beauty in a new season of life. It is the receiving of a generous gift that holds deep meaning from a giver that I cannot see. It is relinquishing the need to know everything and trusting the evidence that I have been given.

I am seen, loved, celebrated, encouraged.

Dear Mystery Giver,
Thank you for this generous gift. You have no idea, or maybe you do, how blessed I felt to receive it. In this season of stepping out and showing up and starting something new, your thoughtfulness and generosity reminded me, once again, that my labor is not in vain. God works in the unseen spaces and brings to new life things we thought have died. He provides exceedingly, abundantly above all we could ever imagine or dream. I certainly did not imagine or dream the contents of this package! My husband, the giver of the original bag, told me that this one is amazing and so much more beautiful. And I agree. I loved carrying it to church this morning. Blessings and Love to you!

Dear Reader,
Thank you for staying with me to the end of the story. I don’t know where you find yourself this Resurrection Sunday. Maybe you, too, are rejoicing at seeing a glimpse of the goodness of God in the land of the living. Maybe you are grieving a deep death or loss and don’t believe there will ever be goodness. Wherever you are, please know that you are seen and loved by the one who cares about the things of your heart, even the loss of a bag from your teen years. He is in the business of restoring and making things new.

He is risen, indeed!

Less Shadow, More Shade

This week found me wrestling my light and shadow sides. As a girl, it was ok to have a light side. That was the good, acceptable, pleasing part of me. But woah be it when the shadow emerged. That part was dark and dangerous and unacceptable.

I learned early to shove the shadow parts of me down, careful not to let them escape. I learned to bear up and suffer the consequences when the real me was seen. Then I could reset and be bright and acceptable, again . . . until . . .

Wave after wave crested and crashed. Not able to hold both . . . and . . . , not understanding that this is why Jesus came, I felt shame around my feelings and their inappropriate expression. There was not language for all I held inside, nor was there safety to look at any of it.

Texting with a heart friend this week affirmed the confusion over parts of my story, as a realization dawned in me surrounding my relationship to the shadow. While the shadow side was unacceptable, it is also what saved me, hence the bind. In some ways it protected me. How do I bless that?

My friend spoke of a redeemed version of the shadow. Shadows offer shade and reprieve. Maybe redemption brings with it less shadow, more shade, she offered. It felt true and an image began to form in my mind.

First a sketch, then a rummage through the art supplies, and finally some paint in the art journal led to this week’s creation. While I didn’t plan for it to have a death, burial, and resurrection theme, one is undeniably present.

The image on the left is how it feels when the shadow is released. I am turned from the light towards the darkness and feel ungrounded. There is no containment. On the right I am settled in the shade of a tree. Though there is still darkness, light is breaking through and rest is found. I am grounded and contained, and there is beauty in the shadows. I am surrounded by growth.

As I sat with the image more, I felt the self on the left calling out in the darkness. That is the yellow line cutting through the shadow. She does not know that new life and resurrection is coming, but the one on the right remembers and is there. She holds both the beauty and broken. The light and dark. She holds hope.

The day I created this, I received a package in the mail. Opening it revealed an unconventional resurrection story, which I will hold until Sunday, the day we celebrate that He is risen, indeed and came to make all things new, including our shadow stories.

To be continued . . .

Doing What’s Next

What’s next?

I have sat with this question for awhile now. Endings have left me wondering. People ask.

What’s next for you?

Next is tricky. Doing what’s next means different things in different seasons. I have been in a season where next has meant doing the next load of laundry, driving the next car pickup, having the next conversation.

I am still there in many ways.

Next has been nudging me. Speaking up. My mind was swirling with this when I opened my art journal recently and began arranging images to process my feelings about next.

These pages helped me to sort out and ground.

Next is unknown, symbolized by stairs moving up into the shadows. What is up there? A rock at the bottom offers grounding while the stained glass effect is made by light shining through darker colors, like the dark purples and blues surrounding the stairs. A bouquet of flowers holds hope for the promise of growth.
The stained glass border continues on this page but stops as rising natural sunlight takes over. Now there is no filter. Inspired by the return of spring and “spring forward” bringing longer days, this page shows color and movement while still holding the tension of bare-limbed trees waiting to bud. A path is next to them. Where does it lead? While still early in the growing season, something is preparing to burst into bloom, symbolized by a giant tulip.
These facing pages hold the story of stepping out and up by faith. It is courageous to keep doing what is next. I love the flowing movement of the flowers, the bright sunshine, and the hope of a new thing coming.

There is something coming. Next is on the horizon. I am eager to share what it is in the near future. Stay tuned!

Flourishing Fitness Routine

Eleven days into 2019, my word of the year finds me settling into a fitness routine. I hope the seeds I am planting this month help my body to flourish as the year progresses.

A key goal I have is to close my exercise ring before noon and to have made substantial progress on my move ring, also. Intentionally taking care of this early in the day keeps me from the friendly 9:30 pm reminder that there is still time to close my move ring with a brisk 45 minute walk.

By 9:30 pm, I want to be snuggled in bed, not shivering in the cold trying to close my final ring. By 8:30 I want to be reading to Mae without worrying about having to go out for another walk afterwards.

To take care of this, I hook the laptop up to the TV in the living room, push the dog bed aside, and do Refit video playlist workouts on YouTube. It has been working for me this week, which is why I have the courage to post about exercise today!

This is what I did this morning.

On Tuesday evenings I attend a live class led by Betsy Dean. It is such a kind space for my body, mind, and spirit. I love live workouts. They have been a part of my story since here.

In addition to the cardio fitness piece, I begin my days practicing Yoga with Adriene.

I find that yoga helps me connect with my body and breath and increase strength and flexibility. I fell off of my regular yoga routine sometime last summer and decided to use January to find a new one.

So there you have one way that my year is starting to flourish. I am taking it day by day, trying not to think too far ahead; holding loosely, yet with intention. It is work, much like cultivating the ground for a garden or laying the foundation for a building.

What about you, Dear Reader? How are you doing 11 days into the year? Did you choose a word or set a goal? I would love to see you in this space or over on the Facebook Page. Check in and say hi! I am grateful for your presence.