I am Strong, Powerful, and Wise

I am Strong Powerful and Wise

Although my original plan was to post an affirmation or positive thought daily throughout my spring and summer project, I’ve ended up missing a few days here and there. As it turns out, that’s a good thing.

It’s meant that I’ve taken a break when needed, and I haven’t been so caught up in following my original and completely arbitrary deadlines and rules of creation. This may sound silly to some, but it’s no small thing for me to have “missed the goal” without quitting, apologizing, or thinking less of myself.

The quitting part may puzzle some people. In my past I’ve tended to place too much emphasis on achieving perfection and when I found myself unable to quickly excel or compete, I moved on to something new. At the time I told myself it wasn’t quitting; it was recognizing my limitations, another way of describing a fear of failing.

I’m finally smart enough to know that this weekend it was far less important for me to meet a made-up target than it was for me to rest and recover from my ear infection and take time to evaluate options and think about the future.

A couple of days ago I received an email about an opportunity that is tempting because it has the potential to improve my cash flow quickly, but not without a price. The price would include committing to an unpleasant and long commute along I95 twice a day, losing the momentum I’ve gained in building my own business, and I’d have to put my dreams on hold for at least another few months.

Some deadlines are real and can’t be pushed off. The recruiter needs an answer so she can move on; I need to make my choice so I can move on. There is no guarantee that I would be the one selected for the temporary engagement, but it’s still important to consider the possibility that I might be; and if so, is that what I want?

Many factors have been considered, not the least of which was the quality time I got to spend with my youngest son and his girlfriend over the past few days. A close second was the time I’ve spent on my beautiful porch, enjoying the summer weather and opportunities to create and recharge.

Last but not least is the realization that I either have to believe in myself and the direction I’m going or not.

I’ve spent a lot of time listening to my inner voice, tempered with logic and the input of trusted mentors and friends, and have made my decision. I won’t be pursuing the opportunity for short term financial gain; my choice is to continue to have faith that I’m pursuing the right dreams.

In many ways we never know for sure whether or not we took the right fork in the road. The only thing we can do is make the best decision we can, based on the information we have, and hold it as our own.

I am Strong Powerful and Wise

Listen With an Open Mind and Hear with Love

I Hear With Love

Listening with an open mind isn’t always easy. As human beings we come into most situations with our own predefined thoughts based on our individual experiences and beliefs. Most of the time we believe that what we think is right and often-times we go into conversations with the intention of changing someone’s mind and not our own.

Listening with an open mind means more than being open to someone else’s opinion or point of view, it means that you are receptive to being influenced by what you hear. It means listening to each and every word without jumping to conclusions and striving to understand what the other person is saying without judging whether or not they are right or wrong.

Hearing with love is partly about listening with empathy but it’s more than that. Empathy helps us understand better where someone else is coming from emotionally and conceptually but it’s not the same as hearing with love.

Hearing with love takes it a step further, hearing with love not only means understanding it also means compassion, kindness, and goodwill. When we listen with love we listen with both an open mind and an open heart.

Our opinions may or may not change as a result of the conversation but if the end result is a greater understanding of the other person and  a mutual feeling of acceptance and goodwill, it was a success.

Strive not only to understand another person’s experiences and thoughts, love and embrace them for who they are because of them.

I Hear With Love

Inspired by Louise Hay ~ “I Hear With Love.”

Welcome Life

Spring Foliage

Here’s what I know –

I can’t control what happens in life, but I can control my responses.

I can’t control how others affect the people I love – but I can listen, support, love, and be there  to comfort them when they are hurting inside.

I can’t control the future, so it’s important that I live each day to its fullest.

I can’t undo the past, so it’s essential that I forgive myself and others.

I am present, in the here and now, and that’s what counts.

I welcome life. There is no other path to happiness.

welcome life

Being Happy is a Choice not an Enigma

purple flower in fall

tulipI have never been happier in my life than I am right now. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been living in Pennsylvania for over five years. This year marks the third fall in my house on Pine Grove Road.

What’s even harder for me to comprehend is the incredible ways my life has changed, it’s almost as though it’s a brand new life. In many ways it is. Never in a million years did I think that a job interview with a company 1/2 way across the country would eventually lead me down the path I’ve been traveling.

I remember the day of my interview like it was yesterday. I flew from Omaha to Philadelphia at the crack of dawn and felt a celebrity when I saw a limo driver holding a sign with my name on it. After a day of being “on stage” and being interviewed by a half dozen people I headed back to the Midwest with high hopes (and a few misgivings).

Five months later I boarded a plane on Super Bowl Sunday wondering if I had made the right decision but knowing there was no turning back. I was in pursuit of happiness. My job, my marriage, and my outlook on life all needed some adjustments. My hope was that a new environment would mean a fresh start and new found happiness.

Nothing turned out according to plan. My house in Omaha didn’t sell so we moved into an apartment that was 1/3 the size of our house. We sold, donated, or stored the majority of our belongings, keeping only the things we absolutely needed. The move made the chasm in my marriage bigger instead of drawing us closer.

There were days I didn’t think I was going to survive let alone find happiness and I’d become my own worst enemy. Thank goodness for the support and love of my friends and family and in particular for the advice I received during one of my darkest times.

The advice was to “learn how to draw,” “take more pictures,” “play the piano again,” or “write, just write more.” “Use your gifts, be creative and constructive, be yourself – don’t destroy yourself.”

The next day there was a brochure for online classes through the local community college in my mailbox and I registered for my first writing class. Of all things, I took a class about how to write romance novels. The class was the first in a series of turning points, personal discovery, and an ever growing belief in both serendipity and faith.

The journey has been anything but smooth (just ask my parents). It turns out that the road to happiness isn’t paved with lemon drops and rainbows; it also has a fair share of obstacles, challenges, and disappointments. I’ve learned that happiness has more to do with how we choose to handle the obstacles and not that life is without them.

I now cook for one, report to myself (and my business is thriving), and have gotten back in touch with my creative side. I don’t know what the future holds and I know there will be joyful times and difficult times; I hear that’s called life. :). I do know that I’ve never been happier and even the most difficult things I faced in my past have helped to shape me and it’s because of them I am where I am today.

I used to wonder if I could experience happiness and it turns out the choice was mine all along. It will be interesting to see where I am 5 years from now and it’s amazing to feel like I’m headed in the right direction after having been lost for a very long time.

The Beautiful Unknown

"Abstract ink drawings on handmade paper - embrace the unknown"

Sometimes we can panic and fear about the unknown, when all we really have to do is to fully believe everything is working absolutely perfectly for us.  Our job is to let go and allow amazing experiences in to our lives.” [Dr. Ann Quinn]

I don’t know about you, but this is sometimes easier said than done. Yet I know based on my experiences, that the less I try and orchestrate things that I’m uncertain about, they nearly always turns out better than I could have possibly imagined.  In fact often-times the outcome wasn’t even in my imagination and is completely unexpected.

It’s a lesson that I seem to need to learn repeatedly and be reminded of often.  I guess it’s human nature to have doubts and to worry that ‘this time’ things might not turn out for the best.

A few months ago, I started drawing on my hand-made paper in ink.  It started with a handful of drawings of trees and sunflowers, just in ink.  As my confidence grew, I began to add watercolor pencil into the mix of drawings. This evolved into a trilogy of drawings inspired by the perfection or the beauty within our imperfections.  This set included not only ink and water color pencil, but landscape color pens as well.

Each phase of my exploration in drawing has come with an unexpected lesson in life and a bit of self discovery.  I truly love working in black and white, there’s something about the contrast and lack of color that is romantic and somewhat mysterious.  Ink seems to have become my medium of choice (at least for now), and it was a little strange for me to feel drawn toward adding color.

My latest discovery was a set of brightly colored pens that are a wonderful compliment to the softer landscape colors.  The contrast between black and the vibrant pink, blue, green, and purple is amazing.  As luck would have it, I had three more pieces of handmade flax paper that were each uniquely different, but similar enough to inspire another trilogy.

It became an evening escape and the best word I can use to describe the way the kaleidoscope of colors and shapes emerged is unexpected.

Each of the drawings starts with a blank piece of hand made paper created from flax.  I use the creases and pieces of fiber, the curves and the crinkles as  guides for my imagination.

The first drawing has a bit of a hot air balloon feel to it.

"abstract ink drawing_hot air baloon"

After one of my friends told me that her daughter saw a mermaid in the second drawing, I decided to name it “Under the Sea.”

"abstract ink drawing_under the sea"

I’m a geek when it comes to my drawing and I love taking pictures of it while it’s in progress.

"Abstract Ink Drawing on Handmade paper - Ribbons of Joy_step 1

After the first night of working on the third piece, I thought, “hmmmmm it’s nice, but there’s no way it’s going to be as pretty as “Under the Sea.” But after the second session I began to wonder.

"abstract ink drawing on handmade flax paper_ribbons of joy_step 2"

Ink is an unusual medium for me to love.  As a perfectionist, it usually feels uncomfortable and even down right scary to know that there’s no opportunity for a do-over.  The fear of the unknown and the potential to make a mistake can be crippling and can even keep us perfectionists from trying.

"abstract ink drawing_ribbons of joy"

With one corner to go, I let it rest for a night while my imagination processed the possibilities.

One of the reasons I’ve enjoyed the process of creating these drawings is that it completely absorbs me and there’s no room for self doubt or ‘real world’ worries.  I simply let myself go and follow wherever my instincts tell me to go.  I really don’t think about which color to use, I feel it.

I finished the final corner and a wave of sadness and a thrill of completion crisscrossed over me.  Sad because I was done and thrilled because it was beautiful.

I found myself reminiscing about how scary it was to even start a drawing just a short time ago. It occurred to me that just like life, each drawing starts with a blank page and even when the artist has an image in mind, the final piece often takes an unintended direction.

The difference between when I let go and trust my instincts and enjoy the process rather than fighting to reproduce a predefined image  is like night and day.  The  parallel to life struck me as uncanny.  When I trust myself and really believe that things are unfolding as they are meant to be.  When I quit trying to control things, and let go of worry and panic the outcome is as amazing as a beautiful piece of art.

“Ribbons of Joy” seemed to be an appropriate title.

"abstract ink drawing_ribbons of joy"

The Back Drop – Intro to A Leap of Faith, Part 2

The backdrop continued…

This is my story and it’s one of self-discovery and of the second first three years of my life. It’s the story of my dream.

In its unedited and original form:

I have a dream, and my dream is to become a published author with books in multiple genres. I have three books in mind right now, the first and most important one to me is entitled A Leap of Faith, an Artist’s Journey into the Light. It is a story of discovery, it is my story of self-discovery and coming into my own. It will be inspiring to people who think it is too late for them and for people who have similar feelings about themselves as I do, but don’t have the words with which to express their thoughts. I am driven to write because I want to be of service to others, I want to help young people make good choices and I want to help people at any stage of life realize that they can change, they can recover and soar. I particularly want to help women understand that they can be care-givers without giving up their identity, the importance of being in positive relationships, and we are all stronger than we know. I want to teach and inspire, I want to help, I want to change the world and make it a better place. My dream is to do so through my writing, I will make people laugh, make them cry, help them feel, and make them think. I have experienced and survived things that should be shared in a way that will be helpful to others. I have the talent, I have the drive, and I now have the conviction to pursue my dreams and write my first book and many more.

The seed was planted in a small cafe in Dorset, Minnesota and it lay dormant for years but it didn’t die. It followed me from vacation at Big Sand Lake back to real life in Nebraska, through a new job and a move to Pennsylvania, a divorce, a near foreclosure, and the fight for my life against both my real and imaginary demons, to where and who I am today. I’ve taken a leap of faith and I’m no longer hiding and pretending to be someone else, I’m “Beth, just being me.”

A Leap of Faith was inspired by the novel Walking in This World by Julia Cameron. I received the book as a gift for my fiftieth birthday from my beautiful landlord and friend Jeanne Marie. From the moment I started reading I knew I had to share the experience through writing. What I thought was going to be a book that would make me a better writer I believe was a catalyst that helped me discover myself and become a better person. It may not be correct to say I became a better person, but more accurately that I learned that all I really need to be is to be me. And in being myself I am the best person I can be.

It started out as a separate journal and quickly turned into a weekly post on my blog It’s a Whole New World. Writing the essays not only helped me process what I was feeling it was a way for me to share the experience through my writing.

I thought about submitting them to be published in contests and magazines but I thought of them almost like my children and I couldn’t imagine them being separated. I submitted the first four pieces to Flash Fiction Chronicles along with the idea to publish all twelve plus a summary as a series. I did a happy dance when I got the acceptance email from Gay Degani, editor for Flash Fiction Chronicles (among many other credentials) and I still smile every time I think about it.

I originally thought I’d narrate the epiphanies that occurred during the 4 months that it took me to complete the readings, tasks, and weekly commitments. However I came to realize that, while the book was an important catalyst, it isn’t the whole truth. The book remains true to my original vision in that it contains essays and excerpts from my journal. But instead of telling you about an experience, I’ll be sharing my story. My journey from a time and place of hiding from the world to being the woman I was meant to be, fully engaged and playing the game of life with both feet firmly on the court.

I’m often mistaken for being extroverted and an open book, because I can and do easily strike up conversations with total strangers nearly everywhere I go. I’m known for being the life of the party and can always be counted on to tell a funny story, usually one on myself. The reality is that in my past, I chose to tell funny stories about myself to ensure that people thought they knew who I was and to make it easier to keep people from finding out what was really going on inside me. I thought if they knew me they might not like me. I was sure that there could be nothing worse than letting someone find out that I’m anything less than perfect.

Throughout A Leap of Faith, I will share my experiences and myself, but it’s important for me to articulate what my focus is and what it is not. It is not about how I survived a divorce, a near foreclosure, and made the decision to resign from my position in Corporate America within a five month time frame. Or about how I spent many years hiding from life inside a bottle and behind a curtain of false pretenses. It’s not a book about survival or a story of catastrophe or financial devastation. It’s not about weight issues or alcohol abuse. And it’s certainly not about the challenges of being a single mom.

The reason I am sharing my story isn’t to demonstrate how I came through tough times and survived. I’m compelled to share how I came alive. The reasons that I felt lost and alone are interesting, but irrelevant. I believe that many people feel trapped by circumstances, are controlled by daily drama, and have given up on their dreams. I also believe that within each and every one of us lies the power and the courage to “be” the person they were meant to be.

The Back Drop – Intro to A Leap of Faith, Part 1

I’ve heard that the process being born is the first traumatic but necessary event we experience in life.  It’s easy for me to believe that it’s a distressing experience to be pushed from comfort of familiar surroundings through a space that feels too small and into a world filled with unknowns. We are thrust out of the dark and into the light.  We welcome the world with a powerful first breath and we are free, we are unaltered, we are unafraid, and we are perfect.

Many believe that the first three years of life contain the most dramatic and rapid growth and development of any stage of life.  In the first three years of life children learn to crawl, walk, and run.  They become aware of themselves as individuals, imaginations bloom, and curiosity overflows. Every day is full of surprises and everything is new and the most ordinary activities become extraordinary adventures.  Love is given and received unconditionally and there is no such thing as impossible.  The foundation for life has been laid.

I have no doubt that this is the case but I also believe that some people, and I count myself among them, experience the first three years of life twice.

Sometimes without even realizing it we lose sight of who we are and what we were meant to be.  And we wonder why we feel lost and uncertain, unfulfilled and afraid.  We begin to search for happiness in all the wrong places. Some people throw themselves into their career, others into their children, and many find ways to retreat from the world and hide behind vices and false bravado.

Some of us are afraid for the world to see us as we really are and we pretend really hard to be what we think others want us to be. We shut out our family and friends in an attempt to convince ourselves that everything is all right and we pay far too much attention to the voices that say you can’t, you shouldn’t, your ideas are crazy, and your dream isn’t practical or possible.  I think we confuse the definition of success with the size of a dream.

We’re not all meant to be astronauts or actresses and we don’t have to achieve fame in order to live a fulfilling life and to make a difference.  We don’t have to be wealthy to be happy.  Our books and poems don’t have to be published best sellers to inspire, but they do need to be written and they should be shared.  I believe that the dream should be to express ourselves in whatever form that might take. What greater dream can there be that to live life to its fullest potential as defined by who we are and not who we think others think we should be.

Note that I didn’t say who others think we should be, I said who we think others think we should be.  This is an important distinction.  And one of the things that I’ve learned in the second first three years of my life is that if we don’t speak with conviction about who we are we give others no choice but to derive their own perceptions based on how we behave.

The voices that drown out the dreams can be so loud that we forgot we ever had them and we mistake our society’s definition of success to be the measuring stick in determining whether or not a ‘dream’ is worth pursuing.  We may believe that not only dreams but our very essence is lost because of the circumstances we find ourselves in and we lose sight of the fact that the voice of the loudest naysayer in the room is our own.

to be continued…