Tag Archives: Life’s Balance

Roots

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Roots are essential to nature.  Tree roots support massive trunks, branches, and leaves, despite strong winds and earth soaking rain.  Roots draw nourishment through the trunk allowing growth and productivity.

The roots of our souls strengthen us through life. Some are shallow as we are unable to burrow deeply into life’s circumstances, leaving us vulnerable.   Others are deep and immobile leaving us trapped by circumstance; a boulder or burden that pulls us down. Some roots are deep and hold us grounded and provide strength as they send nourishment to our souls and bodies.

Relationships with family and friends ground us and give us purpose and joy. It’s hard to sever relationships that change due to geographic or life events that uproot us.  While roots may draw us back to family, it can cause losses. Meaningful friendships are lost or changed forever. Familiar and content routines go away.

Tree roots are flexible.  They adjust to their terrain and adapt to construction and sidewalks.  Our roots adjust to the changes in our lives.  Career changes, family crises, good fortune or bad; roots shape to our surroundings.  The people in our lives change, at times causing us to feel unsettled until we are able to recalibrate and grow new, but different roots.  A lack of fertile ground, perhaps temporary, may lead us to spread our roots further than we like, stretching our comfort zones.

Once we are shifted to a new location and have established a root base, we can grow again.  Reconnect or develop new relationships.  Reconnect with family members whose roles may have changed because of age or health.  Our roots allow us to change our own roles even as roots change for drought, winds, and rain.  Stability allows strength.

When a forest fire sweeps through a wooded area, at times the fire may be so intense that it destroys the tree – roots and all.  Other times the tree is burned but roots survive.  Shallow roots may be gone, but the deep, main root is able to help the tree rebuild. The tree adjusts to a new self, even as we adjust to our new selves following life events.

God provides roots of spiritual meaning that draw us to Him.  The Bible provides nourishment, even as water and soil provide for trees in nature. “They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:8, NIV)

Life and Soap Operas

 

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Have you noticed that life is quite different from soap operas? Yet in some ways similar? Life is much less predictable. The premise of soap operas is that something will go wrong with every relationship, person, and circumstance. Happiness is built up only to be eroded by plot twists. Life can kind of be like that, but we are also more capable of learning from our life journeys.

The soap opera viewer becomes attached to characters who reach the ultimate in happiness, only to be dropped into a chasm of disappointment. Happy, content characters make the viewer feel like something is missing in life. Tragic, devastated characters make the viewer feel happy to be in real life. Soap operas are up and down. Happy scenes are filmed to provide flashbacks during trials and tribulations.

Life is also full of ups and downs. However, we seem surprised by things we don’t expect. We assume that life is fair and that we’ll always be happy. When that doesn’t happen, we are let down. Disappointment is a familiar, warm blanket of self-pity you can wrap yourself in while pouting on the couch. Burrowed into cushions and pillows kind of pouting. Ice cream out of the carton pouting. Unable to take another bite because of the sobs and tears disappointment. We fail to see that the downs allow us to grow, lessons allow us to learn, and growth allows us to put things in a better perspective.

A door left ajar on a soap opera means that someone will overhear or walk in on something that nobody wants to be known. Merely by seeing “a door ajar”, the viewer can watch the scene knowing someone is right outside that door. Life provides open doors and closed doors. We need to carefully consider the implications of any door we approach. We don’t have the viewer’s advantage of knowing when we should act or speak differently. We sometimes need reminders that God is omnipresent and sees all we do, think, and feel.

Soap opera music is predictive. It tells you, in case you couldn’t figure it out, whether the scene is happy, amorous, or tragic. When the tune changes, you know the mood will too. Life doesn’t provide a sound track. We have to find within ourselves the desire to continue despite adversity. We must reach inside ourselves and out to others at times for joy. We each make a choice to be happy or sad at times. Other times we need to accept what we feel as legitimate and process the truth.

Soap opera stories cycle with each character through similar plots and circumstances. If you watch one long enough, you will most likely find the characters in hot water just like they were five years ago. Relationships start, end, and reignite. Life takes us in cycles. We think soap operas are silly with their repetitive story lines, but we sometimes fail to see cycles in our own lives that should be broken or behaviors that we need to change. We fail to see how our attitude affect us rather than those who possibly don’t even know we’re holding a grudge.

Soap operas have a sometimes ridiculous ability to rewrite history. Characters can change from one actor to another overnight without explanation. You are supposed to not notice that the tall guy is now short; or the blonde is now a brunette. Children grow at an amazing rate. People die and come back a few years later – always with an explanation of how they didn’t really die when the world thought they did.

Life does not allow us to rewrite history. We have one life to live, seeing life’s possibilities or shortfalls. We have one body that may bring joys or trials. We need to cherish relationships and people in our lives. God is the one consistent writer in our lives, knowing that we will get through each step. He has seen the cycles of humanity. He understands them. Through grace, He still loves us and provides a guiding light through our lives. Through grace, He feels our pains and joys. Unlike characters written in a script, He has created us as real, unique, and promising people who live all the days of our lives.

The Boot…and Our Life “Boot”

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The well-worn boot had settled into an artistic display with layers of cobwebs connecting it to a nearby picture and walls. How long had it been on the shelf of the Genoa Bar, Nevada’s oldest thirst station, established in 1853? Cobwebs stretched from the boot to a poster dated 1964. Really? It had to only have been “growing” for fifty-one years of the drinking station’s one hundred sixty two year history!

A brown broken bottle sat beside it, grey with years of undisturbed dust coating it. How long had this little display been uninterrupted? With customers in and out of the business for year after year, with the tables and bar regularly wiped clean. The cobwebs been left to grow and build upon each other. How had it been viewed but never disturbed? When someone set that boot on the shelf did they know that it would sit undisturbed for over fifty years?

Who had worn that boot? Who worked hard to purchase what were perhaps their only new shoes in life? Boots that spent hours in the dust and heat of the nearby ranches? Where was its mate? What boots had followed for that cowboy; and were they as comfortable? How had that one lone boot ended up as part of a display in a western bar? And one that wasn’t a traditional cowboy boot?

How often do we leave parts of our lives, hearts, and relationships on the shelf for years without attention? How often do we become separated by those who seemed to be the other shoe? How many people have had to learn to live with one boot – symbolically in life? How many lives have been re-purposed from a hard working ranch boot to a display in a bar? That seems to be a pretty dramatic re-purpose, in my opinion.

Like that old, frozen-in-time boot, how many parts of life do we leave on the shelf for later? How often do we postpone change; avoid things that need attention; procrastinate reading a book – but instead choose to spend our time on meaningless activities? (TV or Candy Crush)

How often do we leave our relationship with God on the shelf? How often do we say, “Someday I will get around to spending more time with God and more time in His word? But tonight I’m too tired and I’ll be too rushed in the morning.”

How often do we live in our own boot without recognizing that God is in a perfectly matched boot right at our side?

On the other hand, how often do we leave things on the shelf to accumulate dust and cobwebs when they are past their useful life? What is a useful life? When should we let go of things in our lives that we continue to cling to?

The dusty boot on the shelf gave me quite a few things to think about. . . how about you? It raised more questions than it provided answers. I’ll keep pondering.

Polishing Memories

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Cologne, Germany

I was listening to a speaker this week who talked about how stress, negative emotions, and bad memories can affect our physical health. A term he used was to “polish your memories.”  We have a lifetime of memories filling our heads. It’s worth taking some time to think about what thoughts and memories get the majority of our awareness.

Are we remembering life with regret over poor decisions?  Are we wallowing in self-pity because of painful experiences?

Or are we focusing our hearts and minds toward the good in our lives and pasts? Not to deny negative experiences, but what can we do to let them go and give them less power in our minds? Are we treasuring and taking out precious memories and polishing them, fondling them like precious gems that they are?

How can we polish and find peace for the poor experiences in a way that doesn’t bury them but puts them away? Life isn’t fair – I assume you’ve figured that out by now. I sure have. However, our minds can be fair in the judgment of experiences and balance of our thoughts and memories.

I have to ask myself, “How will my day be shaped?” Will I focus on what I can’t do or will I put energy into what I can and will do?

Life is also precious. We need to make memories and polish those that we treasure. Other memories should be pushed away like a stone being skipped across a lake leaving smaller and smaller rings until it sinks to the bottom.

I have some precious moments that I pull out to polish when I’m having a rough day. What’s interesting is that I sometimes have a dilemma – which life moment should I polish today? I inhale, exhale, and feel the problem that seemed so daunting to be shrinking.

I visited my daughter in Germany recently. I had an incredible time. We walked miles and I snapped a lot of pictures. Oh, and by the way, I broke my kneecap and had to take a nap every day for my head. Yes, ouch, but as I heal, I’m polishing the memories of Kendra’s company and care – right up to the point where she handed me off to wheelchair people at the airport. I look forward to my return sometime in the future. Maybe I’ll pack kneepads?

When my older daughter Kayla broke her kneecap last winter (yes, both of us in one year), what I recall was the time I was able to spend helping her while she healed. Lunch on Thursdays, playing with my grandson, and sometimes falling fast asleep on her couch for a nap.

When I have a bad head day, I breathe and pull out a few memories. Maybe I’ll return to tropical beaches where I’ve relaxed with friends. In my mind, I see the bright sun, feel the warm breeze, and remember dipping my toes in ocean water.

What memories do you like to polish?

 

Life’s Balance: Actually is a Balance

Life (Simplified)

Life (Simplified)

Yes, I really do spend time drawing these silly pictures.  I am obviously NOT talented in this particular area, but it hasn’t stopped me from expressing myself.

Think of the many interviews of someone who lost a dream of being an athlete, actor, entrepreneur, or whatever? Disappointed, some struggle but find new passion. Disappointment still remains in hindsight, but a new perspective is gained over time for the importance of one lost dream. Countless other stories tell of people who lose their dream and become entangled in pain and fail to move forward, sometimes for years.

Acceptance of unwanted change is sticky and gooey. Anyone who has found success at something then lost it, churns for period of time. Risking full disclosure, I’ve found felt quite sorry for myself at times. I wake in the morning and find myself laying still, making an analysis of my options. Will I wallow over where I am, or move forward to seek an achievable goal for that specific day? Breaking down obstacles allows me to find joy in each step toward a new dream.

When making the decision to spiral down or up:

On my down pajama days, laying horizontal, staring out the window:

– I allow the loss of a dream to loom over all other dreams and accomplishments.
– I exaggerate to myself how lost and alone I am in the big, bad world.
– I chaff at not being able to control everything in my life.
– I compare myself/my life/my circumstance to others and minimize my own accomplishments.
– I dislike being on a need to know basis with God.

On other, better days, I’m more balanced (admittedly maybe still a pajama day):

– I allow myself time to regenerate if needed. I sleep a little more, read a book, or spend time in thought without allowing thought of misusing time.
– I let my disappointment go, even if for a moment. Life is a series of days we must live.
– Some will, frankly, be better than others. Each day takes us somewhere. No day takes us nowhere, even if we are still.
– I think about God. Not how short I find myself in actions, but, quite simply, how big He is even while guiding my little life in the huge scheme of things.
– I focus on others. How can I reach out to someone? What can I write to brighten someone else’s day?
– I recognize the value in nature of a safe cocoon. How it provides protection to delicacy. I recognize how God puts us in a cocoon, kept from knowledge at times. A hedge of protection until we are stronger than we thought possible.

I’ve found it to be an interesting journey to transition from the corporate world with strategic plans, performance evaluations, and service level agreements to embracing the world of art. Touching someone’s day by writing a paragraph is as rewarding as achieving a corporate objective used to be. If I hadn’t had downward spirals mixed with some incredible upward ones, throughout my entire life, I wouldn’t be who I am. I wouldn’t appreciate what I dream today. I wonder who I’m yet to be.