The Gift of Ourselves

Do you know that you are a gift…to yourself, to your loved ones, and to the world? God has given each of us this priceless gift to recognize, receive, unwrap, and share. I’m re-learning so much on my journey now that I instinctively knew as a child and gradually lost as I grew up.

At the age of nine I knew that I was special, despite my shyness and low self-esteem. I wrote on the cover of a school project, “Look in and you’ll see the magic in me.” I knew inside that I was saying that about myself, not about my project or the subject of it. I was not popular or athletic or as pretty as I wished I were. Yet, in my daydreams on the school bus I was beautiful, loving, and powerful. As children we generally believe that anything can happen and we can be what we want to be. I prayed every night that when I woke up I would look in the mirror and see that I had become this magical me. Often, however, we grow up not remembering or recognizing the gift that we are.

If we are fortunate enough, we may start to remember later in life and even begin to recognize this reality deep within our souls. Many times this happens through therapy, life coaching, or 12 step programs. By doing “inner work” like this, we learn that despite our shortcomings, we do have immeasurable value and worth. Then we have the ability to receive the gift God has given us and unwrap ourselves, revealing our inner beauty, and developing authentic love for ourselves and respect for our individual journeys.

Finally, when we really know we are gifts to ourselves and others, a growing desire builds to share who we are and the wisdom we have gained on earth. We want to know others fully and be fully known. We want to go deep in our communication with those who are willing so that we can all be blessed by this mutual offering of ourselves to others. There is no room anymore for comparison, arrogance, low self-esteem, or judgment…no room for fearing what others will think of us, because every gift is unique and special with equal potential to bring joy and love to those who receive it with open arms.

Let’s thank God for blessing everyone with the Gift of Ourselves on the Journey!

 

The Gift of Soul Connections

In the last several years I have mostly isolated myself, thinking that spending time with my fiance and family members was enough to fulfill my needs for connection outside of the workplace. However, I have recently learned how essential friendships can be to our sense of human connection, community, and personal development.

I am talking about those friends who feel more like soulmates, where the relationships are on a deep soul level based on mutual acceptance of the other’s true self. We not only share similar interests, but also support each other in healing emotional wounds, growing spiritually, and fulfilling our highest potential. I have been blessed to find several of these precious people in the last few months and feel so grateful for the opportunity to share on a level that few people seem brave enough to access…the level of our hurts, fears, and most cherished dreams for our lives. These friendships hold such great potential for personal growth and transformation.

In my recent exploration in the area of life coaching, I have been introduced to the idea of friendship coaching. There is more potential in friendships and relationships than doing activities together and surface sharing about day to day life and even thoughts and viewpoints. Friends have the opportunity to “hold space” for the other to share themselves openly without fear of rejection, while receiving total acceptance, love, and support. They can offer each other the chance to be fully heard in all of their raw vulnerability. They can offer empathy without needing to fix the other or talk them out of their feelings. This kind of love is capable of tremendous healing. 

We are all beautiful beings worthy of love and acceptance of who we really are inside…not just the spruced up image we often portray to others. If you don’t know anyone who offers this kind of unconditional love, then you can be that for others and show them the way.

I give great thanks to God for this invaluable Gift of Soul Connections on the Journey!

The Gift of a Clear Vision

Do you know what you want to be “when you grow up?” Even in mid-life, we can regroup and clarify what we really want in life. I have had the opportunity lately to revisit the vision I want for my myself and my life. Sometimes it takes well into adulthood to get this level of clarity. I encourage you to engage in this process with me regardless of where you are on your journey.

What is number one on your bucket list? What do you most want to accomplish in life before you die? Why do you want to achieve that dream? Someone recently pointed out to me how important it is to figure out WHY we want something. That plays into how motivated we are to work towards it. Do you have multiple goals? If so, is there an overarching theme that perhaps is what you would consider to be the purpose of your life or your mission? Praying, meditating, writing, and processing with another person can help to bring clarity to your vision.

Once you have a clear vision, consider if you are on the path that leads to that end. If not, you may need to make some adjustments. For instance, how much of your time are you spending on what is most important to you? The older I get, the more essential it is that I use the precious time I have left on this earth in the most meaningful ways. That doesn’t mean that we can’t relax and have fun, however. In fact, we can often think best when we are in a state of relaxation and joy.

My life is becoming more exciting day by day as I realize that there is no reason I can’t reach my vision as long as I am clear on what it is and do one thing each day to bring it into reality. I am thankful to God for my life and this Gift of a Clear Vision on the Journey!

 

The Gift of Pearls

I have been thinking lately of how much we grow through our challenges and how similar it is to the development of a pearl from the irritation of a foreign body in an oyster. Something very beautiful can come from a difficult situation in our lives. The “irritation” can help us to develop compassion, empathy, faith, confidence, empowerment and other beautiful inner qualities.

Another positive connection I feel to pearls is that they are feminine. I’m learning about the beauty and strength of an empowered woman who has been through more than her fair share of challenges, but has turned them into pearls. I often find these women are able to combine love and power in a balanced way.  I admire their courage, resilience, and wisdom that they share with others who are perhaps at earlier stages in their journeys. 

As my 56th birthday is just around the corner, I find myself contemplating the three mythical representations of a female life cycle–Maiden, Mother, and Crone. While I don’t particularly care for the word “crone,” I embrace the meaning of the older wise woman who takes her place as an elder in the community and guides the younger women. 

Not having children of my own, I desire to pass along the lessons I have learned in order to leave a legacy in the world. I want it to count that I was here on earth and survived my challenges and am now learning to thrive. My pearls of wisdom can be the summation of my life and my gift to other souls. I just need string them together in a book or workshop and I will be able to fulfill what I feel is one of the purposes of my life.

What pearls of wisdom, beauty, and grace do you want to share with your children and grandchildren or the world? Let’s thank God for the miraculous Gift of Pearls on the Journey!

 

 

 

The Gift of the Insect Kingdom

I have been greatly missing my cat, Fergie, who is now waiting for me at the Rainbow Bridge. I miss the way she snuggled up to me as we sat on the couch together. I miss just her presence here. However, a small blessing has come out of my grief. My eyes have been opened to the comforting reassurance of the insect kingdom. 

I have never been one to like bugs and really don’t want them in my home. Yet, shortly after Fergie died I found a spider contentedly hanging out in his web on my bathroom sink counter. When I have found spiders in the house before, I have said, “I’m sorry,” but proceeded to end their lives for my own peace and well-being. 

However, something is different about this spider. He is always there day after day and night after night in his web which hangs from my lotion bottle dispenser. I finally named him Harry. I say good morning and goodnight to Harry. I greet him when I get home from work. I know it’s silly, but it helps me to feel like he is there for me in my time of need. Sometimes when he isn’t moving, I fear he has died and blow lightly on his web. Then he moves a little to let me know he’s quite alive, but stays in the same area by the lotion bottle. He seems to not fear me at all. I tell him not to be afraid…that I won’t hurt him. I don’t know how long Harry will stay with me, but I am grateful for his companionship. 

Meanwhile, other insects have come near me as well. A blue dragonfly flew all around me when I was outside in my yard. A bee hitched a ride to work with me for awhile, flying alongside the driver’s side window and then traveling safely in the crevice of the window. When I arrived at work that day, a huge yellow and black butterfly flew outside a glass window right when I walked into the office.

I have appreciated the generosity of the insects during my time of grief. It reminds me that God’s Spirit is with me and that those who have died are still alive in spirit waiting for us until we are called home to heaven. Join me in giving thanks to God for the Gift of the Insect Kingdom on the Journey!

The Gift of Grief

It is difficult to lose loved ones, whether they be humans or furry companions. I lost my beautiful Fergie two days ago. I just realized that her name includes the letters in the word grief. She gave me so much love and comfort during our six and a half years together. 

I remember finding her at Bishop Animal Shelter where she “chose” me by rubbing up against my back. She was so beautiful that I almost felt guilty adopting her. I didn’t want to be prejudiced against the less lovely cats who shared her cage. However, she soon showed me her inner qualities were just as beautiful and I knew she was the one.

Fergie was special. She was friendly to everyone and so gentle. Everyone who came into contact with her commented on her sweetness. Yet, she eventually became very sick and I knew her time with me was coming to an end. I gazed at her, trying to memorize every detail of her appearance. Once recently we stared into each other’s eyes for what seemed like forever. 

Making the decision to let her go was excruciating, but I didn’t want her to suffer and I could tell she was dying. I came home from work early that day so I could spend as much time with her as possible. However, she kept hiding and I knew she needed to be alone.

Although I hadn’t cried in a long time, as I held her in my arms at the vet’s office, my tears flowed like a river. Waves of grief washed over me and I kept telling Fergie how much I loved her. Afterwards, I felt spent and sadly left for home.

At home that night it was so quiet. Fergie was a talker. The house seemed empty despite the presence of my fiance and our dog, Ace. As I rested on the couch in the stillness, I suddenly heard a cat’s meow. I looked outside to see if there was a stray cat around, but found none. I felt comforted that it could be Fergie’s spirit letting me know she’s still with me.

Despite the pain, grief can feel like a healing release, leaving us with a calm sense of peace. Let’s thank God for love-filled memories and for the Gift of Grief on the Journey.

 

 

The Gift of an Eagle

On March 31st of this year, I had an awesome unexpected blessing while leaving my parents’ condominium complex. My fiance was driving and out of his window I suddenly spotted a majestic sight beyond my wildest dreams! A huge eagle was leisurely filling his belly with road kill while several black vultures waited patiently for him to finish.

I shouted for Jim to stop and we were able to watch this amazing display for probably 5-10 minutes as the eagle glanced at us nonchalantly and continued his meal. Jim took videos and I shot picture after picture on my cell phone. I was star struck that we could be only around 6 feet away from a wild eagle. What are the chances of that? I kept repeating comments about how incredible it was that we were there to witness this wonder of nature. The eagle didn’t fly away until another car eventually came up behind us to turn onto the main road, allowing the regal looking vultures to finish the scraps.

I had read that an eagle symbolizes spirituality and the ability to view your life from a higher perspective. Had the eagle come to teach me this lesson? I am very detail-oriented. It has been a plus in my jobs, but not necessarily when determining my progress in life. I can get so bogged down with my day to day challenges that I miss the big picture. Viewing my life as a whole from where I originally started, perhaps I have progressed more than I think. 

How about you? Can you see how far you’ve come or do you get lost in the details of your current circumstances? Be like the eagle and see your life through his eyes. Maybe the eagle has shown up here today to remind you that you are making steady progress in all areas of your life when seen from a higher perspective. 

Join me in giving thanks to God for our lives and this beautiful Gift of an Eagle on the Journey!

 

 

 

The Gift of Sobriety

Today is my 26th sober anniversary. It was a joy to celebrate with my parents who remember what my life was like back then. They brought me 26 carnations, which are my favorite flowers.

I have so much to be thankful for on this day. I’ve thought about how different my life would have been had I continued drinking. It’s a road that I’m glad was not taken. It’s likely that I would not even be alive today.

I am grateful to Alcoholics Anonymous and Gateway Rehabilitation Center for teaching me how to achieve and maintain sobriety. I’m grateful to my friends in recovery who encouraged me and helped me in so many ways. I’m thankful for my therapists who led me in dealing with the issues behind my drinking. I’m especially thankful for my family’s prayers and support.

Sobriety has enabled me to have a meaningful life with real relationships. It has been the foundation of my personal and spiritual growth. It has enabled me to feel my feelings instead of burying them or covering them up.

I have learned that God really does want the best for me even when life is hard and that He never gives me more than I can handle. I have watched Him work many miracles over the years.

Please join me as I thank God and celebrate the amazing Gift of Sobriety on the Journey!

 

The Gift of Boundaries

Sometimes fences are necessary…to keep something protected and closed in and to keep potential dangers out. We can think of personal boundaries as fences around ourselves, letting us and others know where we end and they begin. This protects against codependency. We can have physical boundaries, emotional boundaries, mental and spiritual boundaries.

How do you know where yours are? Your feelings and intuition can help you to know what is acceptable to you and what is not. It helps to think about this and decide for yourself where they are instead of waiting for someone to step over them and leaving yourself overly vulnerable.

It took me most of my life to develop clear boundaries. I am still working on this issue in my relationships. However, it is becoming more natural for me to communicate this essential information to others in my life.

Do you know what your boundaries are in different kinds of relationships and situations? This is a key element of personal growth. For example, how much personal space do you need to feel comfortable and safe? What information are you willing to share with others and what topics are off limits for you?

Because they are meant to protect me and others, I am very thankful for the Gift of Boundaries on the Journey.

The Gift of Beauty Products

Can beauty products be spiritual? I love this picture of a woman with both make-up and an angel wing. Since beauty products enable me to feel better about myself and present myself to the world in a way that honors me, I believe they can be considered spiritual.

Beauty products allow me to look as young and beautiful as I feel on the inside…on a good day. Ha! They create the magic of bringing the inside out. I colored my hair today, because it reflects how I see myself inside. I put on make-up today, because it makes me look more vibrant and alive.

I have a friend who does not need these tools. Her cheeks are naturally rosy and her gray hair looks great on her. However, when I go without makeup, I look pale and ill. Also, my grays and natural hair do not blend well together. Therefore, my beauty routine is part of my self care. I am so grateful that there are products available to help me look my best.

I know that this is not all there is to looking and feeling my best. There is also drinking enough water, eating right, and exercising. I’m trying to work on those as well. I also have an accountability partner who asks me how I did at the end of each day. That helps to provide more motivation.

I am very grateful today for the Gift of Beauty Products on the Journey!