Monthly Archives: June 2014

i believe in you

i believe in you

 

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I often sign off by telling you “I believe in you.” I have no idea how that comes through the screen and meets you, but I say it — over and over again — because I just want you to know that whatever you are facing down today, I truly do believe in you. And, I very much believe that it matters to have someone cheering you on. Hopefully, you have a giant screaming tribe in your actual, real life. People who are just nuts about you and tell you all the time that you are gold. But if by chance you don’t, you can always come here, and I will always tell you that I believe in you.

 

I believe in your capacity to heal, grow, breathe, begin again, get well, be brave, launch out, lean in, get quiet, be brazen. I really do.

 

So on this Friday, and every day, as you end your week and you head into your weekend — whatever it all holds — I want you to know, once again, I believe in you.

 

Perhaps you’re trying to be brave in a situation that’s feeling off, as we talked about on Tuesday. Maybe you’re starting something new. Or you’re ending something old (a habit, an old story, a ritual you need to let go of).

 

We all need someone to look us in the eye and say: I believe in you. So, I’m saying it to you, and I’m encouraging you to pass this along to someone who you believe in. Tell them. Let them know. Send them a text. Forward them this post. Write it on their FB page. Whisper it in their ear. “Hey, in case I’ve never told you, I believe in you.”

 

And, let’s find a moment to quiet down this weekend, so we can hear the still small voice of God himself reminding us, moment by moment, “Hey daughter, I believe in you.” “Hey son, I believe in you.”

 

Because I do,

Leeana

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When Something’s Off

 

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Right now something in my life is feeling a bit off. It’s not the end of the world or irrecoverable. It’s not mega disaster or anything. But it feels off. You know what I mean? Off-ness is sure offputting, isn’t it. Even if most everything in our life is cruising, the one thing that isn’t will take up our energy. The one thing that’s off outshines all that’s on.

 

Your job is off.

Your body is off.

Your spouse is off.

Your kid is off.

Your mind is off.

Your trust is off.

Your self-worth is off.

Your marriage is off.

Your bank account is off.

Your family member is off.

Your dog is off.

 

That one thing begins to loom. We feel the discomfort of having to discern the repair-work. Do we push? Do we wait? Do we speak up? Do we hush up? Do we let go? Do we hold on? Do we dig in? Do we allow space?

 

Hard to know.

 

I’ve written and erased quite a few paragraphs at this point in the post because if there are no easy answers for me, then I’m sure there are no easy answers for you.

 

I guess what makes sense to me right now is to be brave—to lean into the hard places with courage—and to also save some space for God to do his mysterious work.

 

I look at the artwork in the picture at the beginning of this post. It’s such a perfect metaphor. Sometimes our brave is covered over, muted a bit, challenged, even disguised, and we need to do the hard work of freeing it from the layers and layers that are burying it. Excavating our brave is holy work.

 

In the midst of it all, as I’m leaning in and also asking God to show up for me, I can be good to myself. {It’s always brave to take care of ourselves, especially in the midst of anything off.} Find the spacious place, the breathing room. Find beauty. Feed myself well. Rest. Enjoy the College World Series, the World Cup, Sex and the City reruns, chick lit novels. Drink water.

 

If one big thing or one little thing—no matter how big or how small—is feeling off (unresolved, tense, disappointing, unclear), I just wanted to encourage you to be brave {whatever that means for you} and, also, to leave some space for God to surprise you.

 

With love to you today,

Leeana

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spacious place

here's to living

 

This weekend and every day, here’s to living from the spacious place . . .

But me he caught — reached all the way 

from sky to sea; he pulled me out

Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos,

the void in which I was drowning.

They hit me when I was down,

but God stuck by me.

He stood me up on a wide-open field (a spacious place);

I stood there saved — surprised to be loved!

Psalm 18:16-19 MSG

How can you inject a bit of breathing room into your weekend?

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Seven Signs of Life

Seven Signs of Life

 

I have a friend who once said that you could tell the state of her soul by looking at the state of her eyebrows. I think there’s some real truth to that.

 

The outward condition of our lives really does have something to indicate about our inward condition.

 

I can be a person who has a somewhat “sensitive” inward condition—which I’m beginning to believe we all do on some level—and so I’m starting to see how my outward life is a telling manifestation of the ease or dis-ease I’m feeling inside.

 

And, also, if I can put some time and attention into the outward condition of my life, it will sink in, too. Which is a nice trick, when you think about it.

 

The inward and the outward are symbiotic. This is good to know.

 

Maybe you’re someone who really does best getting out of the house on the weekends and if you hang out at home too much you start to nit-pick your spouse and obsess about the kitchen countertops and lose sight of the big beautiful world out there. Maybe you’re someone who really does best having some down time at home on the weekends and if you’re running around all weekend long you come home and feel bitter that your life feels like a speed boat you’re getting pulled behind.

 

Maybe you’re someone who needs a completely bare dining room table because that feels inviting and clutter-free to you. Maybe you’re someone who needs an elaborate table-scape on your dining room table because that feels creative and festive to you.

 

We’re all totally different, which is also part of the trick. Figuring out your unique life signs.

 

Some days, and even weeks, I feel pinned down by the weight of the trash on the minivan floor or the dishes in the sink or the piles. I feel like everything around is me is breeding faster than I can get it fixed: toys, laundry, dishes. It all becomes overwhelming.

 

And if you look at me, you can tell.

 

These are the times when Steve says in his most treading-lightly way, “Hey, do you want to take some time for yourself this weekend? Maybe go to the salon and get your hair . . . cleaned.”

 

As I learn to be a better companion to myself, I see that one of the ways I can take care of myself is to pay attention to the life signs that help me live with more space, breath, creativity, and ease.

 

Here are 7 “signs of life.” If these things are happening, there’s a good chance I’m doing fairly well:

1. I’m talking back to the brain vultures instead of assuming they’re right. The brain vultures are those voices in our heads that are circling, wanting to prey on us. They’re scavengers and they treat us like we’re road kill. I have spent too much of my life buying their lines. I’m doing well when I have the resources to talk back to the brain vultures, to tell them I’m not buying their BS. They want me to chase my worth and take on unnecessary urgencies and all this does is leave me scrambling and depleted. Period. So I talk back. They say: “Leeana, you’re never going to be as good as her over there. You’re never going to be as smart or as interesting. You’re wasting your time.” And I say: “Hey brain vultures, today is not a day for comparison. Today is day for love.” (and sometimes I add: “You suck.”)

 

2. I can tell you when my next break is coming. When it comes to my life, during this season anyway, I’m just NOT an open-road kind of girl. I need to know exactly when and where the next rest station is. If I have built in breaks (times when I don’t have to be “on” with anyone under three feet tall)—even if they are short and simple—I am able to be much more free and fun. No one, not one single person, can just pony-up all day long, every single day, without it taking some kind of significant toll. I’ve had to learn that this isn’t a deficiency or a failure. And I’ve had to really believe that. I am someone who needs breaks. And if I know when my next one’s coming, I am so much more able to be in the moment. To be clear, a break for me is not ten days in Fiji. It might just be an uninterrupted shower. But even that shower takes coordination at this stage of life. So I’m doing well when I coordinate my next break and make it happen for myself. If I know when that break is coming, I can play magna-tiles till the cows come home. Heck ya.

 

3. I’m reading beauty. When my internal world is askew, I’m neglecting those things that fill me. I need to ingest art. I need to ingest beauty. One of the ways I do that is by reading. And not just reading books about how to improve myself and my life. Additionally, I need books that are crafted. I don’t know how else to say it. Words are like music to me. And I need a consistent diet of gorgeous words, imagery, ideas. Sometimes we’re just plain empty. And we need to fill up on goodness. We need to nourish that true self. Feed it all kinds of magnificence. This is so very individual.

 

4. I’m laughing. You know what I’m talking about. You know what it’s like when everything has become so very, very serious. The grind has won. And, woe is me, I’m a slave to the slog. I’m doing well when I’m talking in weird voices, giggling, and cracking awesome jokes. It’s just a sign that I’m looser, lighter, and spontaneous. I’m not rehearsing all the Hard. I’m willing to let there be a light at the end of the tunnel. The laughter indicates that I’m participating in hope.

 

5. I’m applying moisturizer. In other words, I’m taking care of myself. This is so simple and so difficult and so profound. When we get into “touchy headspace” we start believing the mantra that there’s no time, there’s no help, there’s no space, there’s no margin. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t. And the first thing to go is the time and energy for self care. Putting on a bit of moisturizer. Drinking water. Treating our bodies with the utmost tenderness, like a mother caring for a child. I’m doing well when I’m taking time to be in charge of my own physical health, nurturing the dry parts of me—literally—and sending the message to myself that a dab of rosemary mint lotion really can bring a bit of good into the world.

 

6. I’m not pulling up a chair to the refrigerator. When I’m in a less-than-helpful headspace, I tend to want a solution that will make me feel better immediately, which is to say I want a fix. One of my life signs is that I’m not preoccupied with finding a solution. I have not allowed things to become so urgent that I must find relief by any means necessary. I am not pulling up a chair to the refrigerator, believing there is a food or drink in there that will solve all my problems. I am not going to the store, making unnecessary purchases, believing there is an outfit, product, or home décor item that will solve all my problems.

 

7. I’m dealing with the mail. I’m dealing with the visual clutter in my life. I’m believing I can do it. I’m leaning in. The minivan floor, the contents of my purse, the stacks and piles and incoming flotsam and jetsam are not in charge. I am not a victim to the chaos. Do you hear me, preschool artwork? Do you hear me, my little ponies? Do you hear me, receipts? Do you hear me, junk mail? YOU ARE NOT IN CHARGE. I am. I am in charge of creating the life I want to create. I am in charge of the piles. I am! It’s the difference in believing I am a victim and believing I have a voice and a say!

 

Which one do you most resonate with above? What is one of your life signs?

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on summer

IMG_3339 My big kids have four days left of preschool—two this week and two next—and then it’s officially summertime. Eight weeks of total freedom until school begins again.

 

At our house, summer means pool days, beach outings, too-late bedtimes, s’mores around the fire pit, dinner in the courtyard, and all things charcuterie (or, as we called it growing up, “snack plate”). Summer means, after kids’ bedtime, Steve and I sit on the back patio and watch the sky change while we talk, sip, snack.

 

Summer is looser, laxer, lazier. And we like it that way.

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What is better than eating outside under a canopy of white lights with the fountain flowing, Pandora playing, and chilly Sauvignon Blanc in your glass? What is better than tan lines and baby girl belly and buns squeezing out of a pink bikini? What is better than—with the constant allure of electronics—hearing the sound of your kids splashing and laughing in the pool?

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As I prepare for this particular summer, our last before Luke and Lane are officially in school, I’m aware of the temptation to get urgent about “making memories” and “making every moment count” and “making the most of these eight weeks.” I’m all-too-aware of the pressure that can sometimes feel like panic to “be present.”

 

Some of us do well with a blank canvas and all its infinite possibilities. Some of us find that lack of structure uncomfortable. Regardless, summer ushers in a new normal, and new normals always require a bit of adjusting.

 

Summer bucket lists, while sometimes helpful, can also put pressure on us to go, do, spend, keep up with her amazing Instagram feed . . . when summer might just be waiting for us right here, in our own backyard.

 

I want this to be a memorable summer for Luke and Lane, but I’m resisting the temptation to try and make it “epic.” What I find when I’m overly focused on memory-making is that I end up achieving crazy-making. I don’t want to, in my attempts to make memories, make everyone around me (including myself) nuts.

 

I’m inviting all of us to take ourselves off the big hook of expectations and epic experiences and simply slip into this summer wearing our cutest suit (I’m going for a black monokini), a darling sun hat that oozes confidence, a pretty pedicure, and a whole soul.

 

Let’s try new things, explore, strike out . . . but let’s do all that from a place of breath and not breathlessness.

 

Let’s enjoy our summer instead of endure our plans.

 

Let’s be a companion to ourselves this summer . . . as the schedules change and as we must tolerate ourselves (no, celebrate ourselves!) in a bathing suit far more than we’d probably prefer.

 

Let’s hold our plans loosely and our loved ones tightly.

 

And let’s make—if we’re going to make anything this summer—our days be a resounding “thank you” to the Summer Maker.

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 Pace with grace, as my friend Joanna would say. Pace with grace.

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a prayer for Monday

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Today, we wake up to a new week with new challenges, new normals, and new demands. We can’t control much of anything. But one thing we can control is how we treat ourselves. So as we face this new week, we ask God to help us stay away from the toxic self vs. self and to, instead, come around the table and sit next to ourselves as we would a dear friend. Offering support, offering snacks, offering care. Amen.

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on tending limes and feelings

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I wrote a bit last week about fear, and how fear can keep us stuck and swirling. And, since then, I’ve been thinking so much about feelings. Probably because I’m a person with a lot of feelings, and at times in my life I have mishandled those feelings and have paid the price.

 

A lot of people have a lot to say about how we should be handling our feelings, how valid or invalid they are, how much they should or shouldn’t be guiding us.

 

Here’s what I know:

We do not move past a negative feeling by denying it. We move past a negative feeling by embracing it.

 

So counterintuitive, isn’t it. So different than what too many of us were taught. Feelings were for denying—especially any perceivable feelings that did not immediately catapult us into the center of God’s will.

 

Instead, I’ve learned over time that what I need to do is acknowledge the fear, the panic, the regret, the longing, the sadness, the doubt, the wishing-it-were-all-different . . . whatever it may be . . . and welcome it. It’s not an enemy. It’s a clue. That feeling is trying to clue me in to how my body is doing, how my soul is doing, how my heart is doing, and also—which is really, really important—what I need or what needs tending.

 

If you’re trying to eradicate, bully into submission, gag, or pretty up a negative feeling you’re experiencing, I just want to encourage you to stop. No matter how much you think you’ve got a handle on it, the truth is, that feeling you’ve got locked up in the closet is probably controlling you anyway.

 

A radical and subversive practice is to take some time and turn toward that feeling–your current truth–and honor it by listening. Then, once you have given it some time and attention and reflection (with God’s help and possibly the help of a professional), it’s likely that feeling might be able to guide you to what you’re really needing, what you’re really longing for.

 

I walked by the new little lime tree in our courtyard yesterday. We just potted it in the last month—all stems and leaves. Yesterday, the first baby limes were appearing.

 

Tending produces. Neglecting withers.

 

It’s true for limes. And It’s true for our feelings, too.

 

Are you white-knuckling, trying to deny a certain feeling that’s right at your heels?

What would it be like to stop, turn toward that feeling and tend to its root?

 

Love upon love,

Leeana

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