Testing, testing. 1-2-3!

Change happens.

So here it is, Lisa-Jo Baker gives us a one-word prompt, we write on it for 5 minutes.  No extreme editing, no rethinking, no backtracking.  Then we go back and encourage someone that posted before us by reading and commenting on their post.  Today’s word is: Change

Ready, set, write! (Yes, I actually do set myself a timer)

Change is inevitable.  We can’t stop the change.  Each second, each minute something about our universe has changed.  And we can never go back to the way it was.  But, oh, how we try.  We cling to “what used to be” even when the final shreds of hope disintegrate in our hands into nothingness.  We can try and fight it, or stubbornly sit on our rear-ends, but no matter how hard we try, things are never going to be the same again.

We CAN embrace the change in it’s inevitability.  We can choose to go along for the journey and see where change takes us.  We can choose the path of destiny and fulfillment.  Hope lies not in the palm of tightly gripped hand, but in the freely thrown up palm reaching for the heavens in an accepting gesture.  We can instead hold on to the steady rock that keeps us safe in the darkest nights, in the fiercest storms, in the lowest valleys.  We can hold fast to the knowledge that change brings healing, hope, a future, a peace that we have never experienced before.  Lessons are learned when we embrace change.  Loss is part of life.  Hope is part of heaven.


So there you have it.  Enjoy!


You. On a plate.

So, I’m watching Masterchef right now (You know, the  show where Chef Ramsay gets to yell at people, but with less bleeped-out profanity.  Oh, and Graham gets to look cute and nice with his perfectly-sculpted poofy hair-do, and Joe gets to be harsh, angry, and critical, in as nice a way as possible).


The contestants were given the opportunity to pick their own Mystery Box Challenge ingredients to produce what the judges termed “you on a plate.”  After the contestants got the ingredients for their best dish, the judges pulled the rug out from under them and told them to pass the ingredients for their best dish to the person in front of them, then cook something incredible.  You can imagine the immediate looks of shock and horror.

Being the “I see metaphors” type, my brain immediately engaged in how this particular episode relates to the basic premise of this blog (In case you hadn’t caught on, I believe you have a choice in life).

How many times do we feel like we get to serve up the best of ourselves to the rest of the world?  I mean, really?  How frequently do you feel like you are in your element and winning this game we call life?  I would venture to guess, not that often.  To use cooking metaphors, this is probably because you are trying to use all of the wrong ingredients.  Maybe you thought were an introvert, but you’re really an extrovert.  Maybe your parents guided you (with good intentions) into a profession that doesn’t really feel right.  Maybe you just got caught up in a whirlwind of bad choices and now you’re stuck with the consequences.

Like this:

A plateful of good intentions gone wrong.

(Excuse me while I go retch in the loo)

Anyway, the point is that the best you is somewhere in there, waiting to come out and live in the real world.  Like I mentioned yesterday, all the ingredients you need to be the best you are already there inside you.  That’s right, you, on a plate.  That’s right, the best you can be served up on the plate of life.  You just have to clean out that pantry, chuck out the bad stuff, and get busy making greatness.

Looks gooooooooddd, doesn’t it?

But, let’s be real: changing your life takes time (i.e. lots of counseling.  And tissues.  Don’t forget the tissues), courage, intentionality, and perseverance.  But, it can be done.  No amount of whining, angry eyebrows, or feet shuffling will ever convince me otherwise.

You just have to decide

It’s up to you…

A life coach told me soon after meeting me that I was “visionary.” I just can’t help but see the “big picture” pretty much everywhere I look. I can see the good and the bad all at the same time. This can be frustrating if I see something (or someone) headed in the wrong direction. This can be useful if I am planning something. I can choose to use my personality trait for good, or for evil. In the words of Mr. Monk, “It’s a gift, and a curse.”

Personality traits are like that, a gift AND a curse. You and I were pretty much born the way we are, we didn’t have a say in the matter. We are like lumps of newly formed clay, ready to be shaped by family, time, and circumstances. Very occasionally that shaping forms a near-perfect human that can manage life well. But mostly, we turn out slightly misshapen, with an oddly placed handle here, or a slightly twisted rim there. Then we become adults. All of that molding and shaping that had been going on by the people in charge of us comes to a screeching halt, and, well, we are what we are.

Do you feel like this inside?

Then, we go through the fires that hardens the clay and solidifies the shape we were when we stepped into adulthood. Because life is like that. Trial by fire. Will we survive, or won’t we? Sure, we have to accept ourselves for who we are, and so should our loved ones. But, I truly think that this only goes so far. It’s hard to be around someone with an anger problem. It’s hard to keep throwing paddles and a boat out to someone who is stubbornly (yes, I say “stubbornly” because you and I can choose to be despondent, or not) stuck in a pond of despondency and despair.

We start to feel the the moments that the oddly placed handle gets in the way, causing all sorts of problems. We feel embarrassment when the slightly twisted rim keeps spilling the liquid inside at all the wrong times. Sometimes whole pieces fall off, or we are dashed to the tile floor and break. In many cases, people throw up their hands after several failures and say, “I’m never going to change!” We are what we are, right? Why bother trying? Well, yes, and no.

The truth is, we can’t change our genetic inheritance, but we do have a choice in how we use those traits: we can choose to stay the way we were shaped, or we can choose to, effectively, start over by smashing up the broken vessel and getting some fresh clay. You already have the ingredients you need: personality traits, learning experiences, belief systems, relationships, and etc. You can decide which ingredients you are going to use, and which you are going to throw out. You can decide how those personality traits will manifest in the real world. In other words, you decide who you are and how you behave. You get to choose the colors and the shape. That’s right. Shall I say it again?


Frankly, It really doesn’t matter what came before. All of those childhood experiences that brought to where you are don’t matter much. What matters is what you decide today. Do you struggle with fear (like me)? You can decide today to make a step toward freedom from that fear. Do you struggle with an addiction that rules your life? You can decide today to get yourself to the appropriate help according to your needs. It’s your choice. It’s up to you. You could change from the above to this:

Isn’t this beautiful?

Or not. It’s up to you to decide.

I need your help putting batteries in my flashlight

I sincerely need your help.

I have mentioned before that my aim in having this blog is to help others overcome emotional difficulties.  To realize that they have a choice.  Because a lot of people just don’t seem to know this.  So, I have been here as often as I can get here and I write about that.  So far it’s been good for me.  Occasionally, I hear from someone (sometimes on Facebook, sometimes in person) that they like what I have to say, so for some, it’s good for them.  If there are more of you out there, I’m not sure who you are, and that’s okay.

I am generally inspired by something I read, or something I heard, or something I thought.  And, while I am sure that the topics I write about are good, in general (or maybe just good for me) I want to write about things that touch your heart.  Because I don’t want this blog to be just about me.  I mostly want it to be about you.  I want to help you see things from a new perspective.  I want to help you onto your new life.  I want to be your cheerleader.  I want to support your efforts.    I want to shine light in the dark places of your mind and gently coax you into newness, wholeness, healing.  In  other words, I want to write about the things you are interested in reading.

So I put it to you: What is it you would like most to hear from me?  What stirs your heart? What kind of kick in the pants do you need to get going?

If you scroll down a little, you will find a comments section.  You can leave a comment there with your name, or without your name, it’s your choice.  Or, you can comment on Facebook if you like.  But, let me know what’s on your mind…

Be Yourself

Some of the wisest words I’ve ever read…

I just read an article about how a stay-at-home mom turned published author, got her big break.  She had apparently written part of a manuscript, then let it gather dust for a while.  An agent was interested in representing her because she had followed her on Twitter.  The agent asked to see whatever writing she had already done.  So, the mom sent her dusty manuscript to the agent.  The agent replied that she could see this woman’s potential as a writer, but thought that she could do better, if she used her own voice.  The voice the writer used on twitter.  In other words, she wanted her to be authentic.  To be the best possible writer, she had to be herself.

For any of us to be the best possible us, we need to be who we are as a person.  There’s no point trying to be someone, or something your not.  If we do this, we will sound inauthentic.  We will not influence the world with our inauthenticity.  As a matter, being something other that who you are just leads to confusion, and may hurt a few people along the way.

World-changers are good at influencing other’s because they are authentic.  We connect with authentic voices because those voices are believable.  We trust what they are saying is true.  We trust this because we know that the person is being themselves.

 I want to be a world-changer.  As of Saturday, I have accepted my identity as a writer.  But, I’m not happy with my voice.  I feel like I am cheating the best parts of myself, by not being myself.  I want to be authentic.  I want to draw people into my circle.  I want move people, and be moved by people.  I want to be who I am, not some idea of who I am.  I am going to start by listing the things I know about myself:
  • I am child of God.
  • I am sassy.
  • I am a natural leader.
  • I am gifted at counseling others.
  • I am a mother.
  • I am wife.
  • I am a know-it-all.
  • I am an artist.
  • I am a writer.
  • I am smart.
  • I am witty.
  • I am a sister.
  • I am a visionary.
  • I am a nerd.
  • I am a good cook.
  • I am an encourager.
  • I am a blogger.

To be sure, there is still plenty of undiscovered country in my brain-scape.  I am sure that I will get to know more of myself as time goes on.  In the meanwhile, I must be who I am.  I must be authentic.

Today I choose to be myself, how about you?

Your turn…

Who are you?

Nosce te ipsum: Know Yourself

*Author’s note: Before I get started here, I would just like to say, I love it when you come to visit.  Yes, I mean you.  I would love to sit down and have a chat with you.  I would love to hear what you have to say on whatever I write about.  So, if you come by, why not leave me your calling card, or a nice little note that let’s me know you were here?  Frankly, it encourages me to keep doing what I’m doing.  In other words comments are welcome and encouraged here.  I generally leave a little question at the end as a prompt to get a discussion going.  You can answer it, or not, as you prefer.

I had a powerful experience on Saturday that got my juices flowing and the wheels spinning for my little bloggity once again.  The sucky experience that I am having is still sucky and I am still experiencing it.  But, I feel the need to talk about something that I feel is very foundational to overcoming emotional difficulties: knowing yourself.

In “The Matrix” Neo  goes to visit the Oracle to find out if he is “The One” (i.e. the savior of their world).  She points to her little sign in her kitchen (which says Temet Nosce, by the way.  This is just a variation of the phrase) above the doorway and explains to him rather bluntly that if  you are something, you just know it.  You don’t need to be convinced by your friends, you don’t need constant reassurance, you just know it.  I know that I am a good mother.  I know that I am an artist.  I know that I am gifted in counseling others.  I know that I am a Christian.  I don’t need other’s to affirm this, I just know.

I truly feel that I am meant to do this blog, and to write books.  But, one thing I have had a hard time convincing myself of is that I AM a writer.  As in, “this is my identity.”  As in, “Hi.  I’m Stephanie.  I’m a writer”  (Not that I would actually introduce myself that way.  But, I think  you get my point).  I feel a little surprised when people praise my work here on this blog.  Sometimes, I almost don’t believe them.  Silly, I know.

This is mostly because I find writing to be a difficult, sometimes agonizing, experience.    I’m not goo-goo eyed over writing like some authors.  It takes me twice as long as normal people to write anything of worth or significance.  I find it excruciating to get started most of the time.  I find it difficult to maintain my focus once I get going.  I feel guilt for spending 2.5 hours writing 600 words.  I have to manage my ADHD and other learning difficulties to finish my task.  In other words, I just don’t LOVE writing like I love doing other things.  I have asked myself more than once, “How can I BE a writer if I don’t LOVE it?”

This question has stopped me from moving forward in doing the things that I am meant to do.  I just couldn’t see myself doing the things I am meant to do because I couldn’t (or perhaps wouldn’t?) believe in my identity as an writer.

But Saturday changed all of that.  I met with about 4 other people.  2 of whom I have known a really long time, 1 I knew fairly well, and 1 I sort of knew a little.  We met together to encourage each other.  To help each other overcome the log jams stopping us from flowing in our gifts.  I spoke for a while about where I was on a few things, including the I’m-supposed-to write-books-but-can’t-get-started-because-I-don’t-believe-I-am-an-author problem.  The leader of our group (Rob Stoppard.  A great guy, you should check him out) said to me people get stopped up in doing what they are meant to do because they believe lies about themselves.    Lies like “I don’t love writing so how can I be a writer”, or “I am never going to change”, or “I can’t change”, or “I will always be (fill in the blank)“, or whatever you say about yourself.

The only way to combat this is to change your habit of lying to yourself, and start telling yourself the truth.  I think if you look deep in your heart you can find your gifts, your talents, and your identity.  It’s like a treasure box just waiting to be opened, and you hold the key to open that treasure box.  And, if you open it you have to decide what you believe about what’s inside.  You have to decide that the treasure is who you are, or not.  But sometimes, even we do this, we get lost on our way back.  Parts of the treasure get lost and never make it home.  Like me and this writing thing.

The group had me do an exercise that has forever changed my life.  They first asked me to look in the mirror and say out loud to myself, “I am a writer.”  I felt more than a little shy about doing this.  So, they offered themselves up to act as a sort of mirror.  I had to look people in the eye and say out loud, “I am a writer.”  They took it one step further and had me say, “I am a famous writer.”  And although it was a little difficult to look people in the eye and say these truths out  loud, I did just that several times.  I stated a few other things I have had a hard time believing lately as well.  As soon as I said these things, it’s like a spotlight was suddenly focused on my poor, lost treasures.  I could find them, and bring them home.  I could take them within my psyche and revel in the simple pleasure of knowing myself.  It was like being born again.

And now, I feel free to do what I am mean to do.  I believe that I am a writer.  That even I can be a famous writer.

And you are free to discover things about yourself you never knew.  You can go on a quest to find your treasure, to change your life into something better, to become who you are meant to be.

It’s your turn now…

Tell me something you know about yourself…

When circumstances drag you screaming down the highway of life

I haven’t been on here for a while, because a circumstance in my life pretty much sucks right now.  Out of respect for those involved, I am not going to divulge the details at this time.  Besides, this post is not really about the circumstance itself.  Rather, this post is about my response to the circumstance.

I’d like to start by saying that what I am experiencing is completely new to me.  The torrent of emotions is a bit terrifying because they are so strong.  At this stage in this current reality, I either feel everything, or nothing.  I’m either fully engaged in my terrifying emotions, or not at all.  I want to spend enormous amounts of time by myself.  I don’t want to cry in front of people (because I am already prone to crying at the drop of a hat, I cry about this without warning or much provocation) and have to explain myself.  I think you get the point that there is nothing in between either option.  Everyday is a fight to stay focused on life.  I have to be able to “do” my life according to it’s rules.  I still have a son to love and care for despite the circumstance.  I have a husband who needs my empathy just as much as I need his.

Life has taught me that new experiences feel awkward, strange, and scary. My brain has to store the new experience as memories and grow new neurons based on those memories so that the experience becomes familiar and part of my brain-scape.  Perhaps this is why a lot people dislike change so much, because the new experience takes time to get used to.  But, eventually one does get used to the experience.  One mostly knows what to expect, and (mostly) how to respond.  The stored memories and new neurons give us a structure to rely on.

Being the intuitive, introspective, deep-thinking sort, I will learn things from this experience.  After the worst of this is over, I will be able to look back and see the blessings, the bad stuff, the I-never-want-to-go-through-this-again stuff, even the happy moments.  Next time, I will know how to respond to the circumstance, and to my own emotions.  Next time, I might be able to find a middle ground between the terror and the numbness.

Despite the difficulties, I am grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow.

I am grateful.

Trust is better than an orgasm. A blog post on taking risks in relationships…Part 2.

Yes, I said, “orgasm” out loud. I’m a Christian, not a prude.

Last week I wrote on why taking risks was a necessary part of relationships. As I wrote that post, it became evident that there was a second part of relationship risk taking that had to do with choosing who we take that risk with. I think this part really, really counts when calculating risk.

Let’s face it, in most cases our initial attraction to someone else is usually a physical one. We find that other person cute, or funny, or smart, or whatever, but we feel something inside. We feel a rush of excitement, perhaps a little breathless. The urge to find a way to talk to that person becomes tantamount. According to Wikipedia it looks something like this:

That crazy feeling called “love”…

All of these nifty little chemicals on the right side of this diagram give us mostly happy feelings. Nowadays, it’s pretty commonplace to follow our urges to their logical conclusion- a sexual encounter. The chemicals involved in that transaction also introduce a flood of chemicals that make use feel good.


However, I think these happiness-inducing chemicals muddy our logic and our ability to think clearly. At the beginning, when we look at that other person we feel those same rush of sensations. And we feel happy. Eventually, those sweeping, romantic feelings, that rush of excitement subside to a degree. Then we are left wondering about this person we are with. Why do they do what they do? Why are they so (insert your word of choice here)? Then we are stuck between a rock and a hard place (sorry, no pun intended), we like how they make us feel, but do we LIKE them?

Relationships are complicated, messy affairs that require an inordinate amount of work to be successful. Trust, communication, compromise, negotiation, kindness, gentleness, are a few of things that make a relationship work. These things take time to build. You have to actually LIKE someone in order to start this process. Call me puritanical if you want to, but I think that starting a relationship based on sex shortcuts the process of getting to know someone, and really liking them for who they are.

In my humble, and unscientific, opinion using logic and thinking clearly are two key elements in choosing someone as a mate. Sure, it’s not as romantic (and fun) as all of the sweep-me-off-my-feet sensations, but I think it’s more important to make wise choices than to be swept off my feet by someone that I’ve just met. And here’s why: the risk of being hurt is higher when I base my desire to be with someone on a physical sensation. That feeling eventually rings hollow.

In my experience, you can be physically attracted to someone, and not even like them. And, if you don’t like someone how can you develop feelings of trust toward them? How can you even communicate clearly with the best interest of your relationship if you don’t feel it’s worth it to try? I mean, really, HOW can you? I don’t think you can. I know I couldn’t. I was physically attracted to my first husband, had sex, got pregnant, then married him. All bad decisions. He was the worst possible kind of person for me. We weren’t even close to being compatible. Yet, because of the sex, I convinced myself he was right for me. I convinced myself that we were “in love” (looking back now I would say we were “in lust”). Then I married him. And, he hurt me in a variety ways, the ultimate hurt being divorce.

I propose that people should take the time to get to know someone BEFORE they get in bed with that someone. I think that people should spend time getting to know that person’s character in a variety of settings. After you have spent some time doing that, then you can make clear, logical choices while calculating the risk of entering into a serious relationship with that person.

Even after you’ve done all of this, you CAN still be hurt. But, I think it less likely to happen because you know this person’s character. You know how they make decisions and why. You know their problems. You know why they are with you. You know if they like you. You know if they are going to stick it out, even when things are rocky. You’ve decided to be with that person based on their character and qualities. A relationship based on trust, is far better than a relationship based on sex. Which, to me, is more important than an orgasm.


If you read this part, why don’t you leave me a note and let me know you were here? I love it when people say, “Hi!”

Anger that burned deep.

Hello again! It’s Tuesday, which means it’s time for another testimony about overcoming emotional difficulties.  I don’t have another person lined up, so I am going to dish on myself.  So here we go…

It’s kinda tough to pick just one experience that I’ve had in the past 22 years that highlights an emotional difficulty that I have overcome because a) there are so many, and b) they are all interconnected which makes them complex and difficult to articulate clearly.

I have mentioned that my mother was an addict.  Her last addiction was prescription painkillers, which ended up taking her life in a (presumably) accidental overdose.  She was secretive about her addiction, and it was not immediately obvious to me because I had no knowledge about addiction during my childhood.  However, the symptoms of her addiction problem were usually at the forefront of her parenting because she was either at best confusing, or, at worst, abusive.

For example, my mother would periodically become very angry with the rest of the family.  Why she was angry with us was almost always a mystery.  One of the confusing things she would do during these random periods of mystery anger was to not let my sister and I do the weekly cleaning.  She would storm around, bang things, with a face screwed up in anger doing the cleaning.  I would feel awkward and strange.  I was afraid to say anything to mother for fear of upsetting her further.  Richelle and I walked around as if the floor was made of nails (sharp side up) while giving each other furtive looks of confusion and despair.  After a few hours of this, I would be practically begging for her to let me do the cleaning.  Anything to ease the stress and tension I felt.  Then, just as mysteriously, she would get over it.  Very occasionally there was some kind of discussion that really didn’t make any sense or have anything to do with reality.

As a child, these sorts of events caused confusion and fear.  This started embers burning in my soul that would smolder into my adulthood.  As I began working through the hurts of my childhood in counseling, I began to see my mother’s transgressions with anger, hurt, disappointment, and frustration.  These emotions ignited the long- burning embers from adolescence into raging flames.  It took a lot of years, and work, before I could even consider forgiving my mother.

For me, forgiving my mother meant giving up the right to be angry with her.  And believe me, I had felt I had every right to be angry with her for her transgressions.  I think some of you may even agree with me.  However, if unleashed, my anger could be a destructive force that wreak havoc in most areas in life.  I was deeply invested in my rights.  So much so, that God, in His infinite wisdom, had to work every angle to help me to see that holding things against my mother was actually holding myself prisoner to my own anger.  He had some pretty huge mountains to move.  Fiery, raging, burning volcanos. He showed me that I would be paying the consequences for my for my self-righteous attitude, like so much volcanic ash.  I would end up psychologically and spiritually dead, like those poor people on Pompeii.

As God labored to show me the truth, the light began breaking through my eyes, which were tightly shut against it.  Truth always stand the test of time, regardless of what we think or feel about it.  I eventually knew I had a choice to make.  On one hand, my right to be angry with my mother, on the other, forgiving her and moving on.  Forgiving her meant giving up my rights, but it also meant freedom.  Freedom from the burdens of pain.  Freedom from the consequences of my choices.  Freedom to live life to it’s fullest.

As you can probably guess, I chose to give up my rights.  And, indeed, I felt freer.  The rage no longer held me captive, torturing me incessantly, burning me from the inside out.

Today, I mostly look on my relationship with my mother regret and sadness, but, I am (mostly) not angry.  If she were still alive, I might even attempt to have a relationship with her, which is saying something.


Now, it’s your turn… Do you have something you overcame that you would like to share with the rest of the world?