Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gratitude Attitude

My job has been over a little more than a week now, and I have to confess my time off has been great! Already I feel miles away from my old life of anxiety and worry. My quiet/meditation time improves daily. I feel my connection to God and to the world. I sense my talents and gifts, and every day I am inspired to find new and creative ways to use them. My once empty cup is now filling at a rapid pace, and I am full of gratitude.

The knowledge of this gratitude really hit me this afternoon. It was so beautiful in Georgia today! The sky was blue with fluffy clouds floating by. The air was warm but there was a wonderful breeze which kept everything feeling cool. Shea and I drove two hours in the sunshine to Columbus, Georgia for a soccer game. Country drives are always wonderful, and there are plenty of wide open spaces between Atlanta and Columbus. I felt happy to be alive, and it has been a long while since I have felt that.

Shea's soccer games have a tendency to fill me with fear. I guess it's because I want him to do well. He has a real talent when it comes to playing soccer. I would like to see him get some sort of scholarship out of it--I believe he is good enough. (Yes, I am a prejudiced mother, but his coaches seem to like him too judging by the fact that he usually plays entire games.) The fear comes when I dwell too much on the outcome. My head tells me they need to win for Shea to be noticed. Then I get upset when they lose. The fact of the matter is, my fear comes when I attempt to control a situation I have no power to control.

Today was a better day. I was able to remember that everything is really in God's hands. It is not for me to decided what happens in Shea's life. After all, God was the one that got Shea where he is today in his soccer career. The only thing I did was listen to God's nudging when He told me to let Shea try out for the travel team in the first place. (Okay, I guess I am also responsible for getting Shea to his games!) I'm sure God knows where Shea needs to be in his life, and God's ways and timing are always perfect. I need to be patient and wait for the blessings I know will come to Shea. As I sat at the soccer game today, I was happy because I know God will make a way regardless of the outcome of today's game.

What is truly amazing to me is all the gratitude I am able to feel! I know I am blessed. I know I am treasured. I know I am loved. I know that my life and the lives of my family will turn out for the best because I know who is really in control and that He wants us all to be happy. I am trusting my Source. I have that "Gratitude Attitude". I am rich beyond measure.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Preparing For Rain

Atlanta has been in a drought for the past couple of years. My life also has been in drought as I struggle to find some direction and purpose in life. Lately, Georgia has received enough rain for Lake Lanier, the main source of water for metropolitan Atlanta, to fill back up to almost normal levels. As I search for purpose and get closer to Source, I feel a little of that life-giving water misting on me. I know I need to prepare for rain.

In the movie Facing the Giants, coach Grant Taylor's life has hit rock bottom. He prays to God to show him the direction he needs to take in his life. Enter Mr. Bridges, a deeply spiritual man who has been praying for years that revival hit the small Christian school. Mr. Bridges quotes from Revelation 3:8. "I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." He goes on to tell the coach God wants him to bloom where he has been planted. When Coach Grant confesses he has been struggling in his life and is unsure about what to do, Mr. Bridges shares a story of two farmers struggling with drought. Both pray for rain, but only one farmer prepares his fields for the blessing. Mr. Bridges leaves Coach Taylor with the question, "Which farmer do you think receives the rain?"

The point is, a person can have faith that something can happen. He might even believe that it will happen. However, if he does not follow it up with action, any rain that comes will not have the same impact. The blessings will not be as great, and much time will be wasted.

I need to prepare for rain. I have asked for God's direction and blessings in my life and I fully expect Him to come through. Now I need to make myself ready for the challenges this rain will bring me.

First of all, I need to prepare a new resume. I need to highlight all the experience I have working with people--teaching, guiding, directing. I need to be able to show the right employer why I would be perfect for such a job.

I also need to get my materials ready. For example, one of my areas of expertise is how to love other people. I do my best to show this love through everything I do. While I am by no means perfect at it and have times when I fall, I know that I can help people learn to bring more of it into their own lives. I can give them ideas to ponder and hopefully the fuel they need to remake and re-engergize themselves into something better. My goal is to start working on my materials so that when the opportunity presents itself I am ready to go.

I am believing my guidance. I will be prepared when God blesses me with rain.

The Search For Signposts

The past few days have been hard for me--so hard I can't even write about them, but as I continue to read Cheryl Richardson's book The Unmistakable Touch of Grace: How to Recognize and Respond to the Spiritual Signposts in Your Life, I am amazed at all the signposts that have entered my life in the past. Most of the time they seem to come and go with very minimal thought involved. However, those signposts are most definitely there.

Take my search for the perfect job. Over a year ago I read a book by Jack Canfield called Jack Canfield's Key to Living the Law of Attraction: A Simple Guide to Creating the Life of Your Dreams. What I liked best about the book is it had me work through several exercises which made me focus on where my biggest joys have come from and where my talents lay.

My biggest joys have come from three main areas in my life: my family (raising my children), writing, and teaching/leading. As my children are all teenagers now, they are quite independent and do not require much from me. BC (before children), I received recognition for some of my writing. I won a few school awards in grade school, always did well on my papers and was often told that my notes and letters were beautifully written. Then there was my other hidden talent--teaching/leading. While still in high school, I volunteered at many camps and ended up being a campfire leader at several of them. I enjoyed this tremendously, and I even got this great compliment from a lady who had literally helped write the campfire leaders manual for my church. In addition, I spent several summers during college working as a tour guide at a couple of church historic sites. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with other people and sharing my knowledge with them. Here too, I received positive feedback. The first summer I guided, I received college credit for a class on historic interpretation. Consequently, my professor went on several of my tours and always had great positive feedback for me. Guests on my tours also responded with enjoyment and appreciation. Tour guiding is by far the best job I have ever had.

Looking back, I see my campfire and tour guide experiences as signposts. I enjoyed sharing my knowledge and interacting with the crowd. I received so much positive feedback. I was motivated and energized, and I have never felt so alive. Once my desire was in place, there did not seem to be any obstacles in my path. Doors opened up. These were definitely times in my life when I was doing what I was called to do.

There is one more element that I did not even recognize about these experiences until today. Both campfire leadership and tour guiding come with what I would call spiritual components. Campfires are designed to lead attendees from a place of fun to a place of contemplation and connection with Source (God). Tours lend themselves to reflection on what we can learn from the past to make our futures better.

There have been more recent signposts indicating my need for change. I have become increasingly frustrated at work. Even though I typically receive positive feedback from the parents of the children I teach, I usually feel like a fraud. My education is not in teaching, and when I compare myself to other teachers I feel there is so much more I could have done or should have done. Also, by the end of each school year I am usually so burnt out I feel like wringing most of my students little necks. Lately, I feel that way at the beginning of the school year as well--not a good sign.

What I can honestly see myself doing is becoming a motivational speaker and life coach. I really enjoy encouraging others to be the best people they can be. I want to help people learn, grow and expand their way of thinking. I desire to help them challenge their limiting beliefs and overcome obstacles. Working one-on-one or with a crowd is not a problem. In fact, I enjoy the challenges of a crowd.

I have told God I am open to His direction. I want to use the talents and gifts He has given me. I just need to see His signposts along the way. Whatever they are, I will follow.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Signposts Along the Way

I chose to browse a bookstore this morning while Shea, my oldest son, was at soccer practice. As I continue to search for answers in my life, I decided to go with an approach that has worked for me in the past. I say a little prayer while I'm browsing to help me find something that will inspire or guide me. While there were many books that appealed to me, the one that struck a chord is one by author Cheryl Richardson called The Unmistakable Touch of Grace: How to Recognize and Respond to the Spiritual Signposts in Your Life.

The book is all about learning to recognize what Ms. Richardson calls "the spiritual signposts in your life." Many people would call these things coincidences, but she believes these are really things that happen to you to help call your attention to the direction you are supposed to go in. The book is a collection of experiences--both her own and those of other people she knows--illustrating how recognizing these signs has the power to change your direction in life for the better. I have believed in this concept for years, but with all the confusion in my life right now I had forgotten the principle. This book is helping me remember, and for that I am very grateful. I'd say the book is truly one of my signposts to get me back on track.

As I look back on my life, I can see some of the signposts that led me to where I am today. My job teaching young children was the result of several things that happened at a time of great struggle in my life. I had been a stay-at-home mom with three very young children when the bottom dropped out of my marriage. The kids and I came to Georgia to live with my parents. I eventually filed for divorce, but I had no real job prospects or even ambitions at that point. After working in a group home with children who had been abused and neglected, it was important for me to raise my children myself. My parents were okay with us staying with them and letting me continue to raise my kids.

Then my divorce attorney told me I needed to find a job. The judge that had been assigned my case was a man who had been married and divorced several times and had several children he was paying child support on from these marriages. The lawyer said this judge would never understand me living with my parents just so I could raise my kids.

At the time, my children were ages 5, 3 and 1. I had a BA in psychology, which did not allow me to do anything in my field but the most low-paying, high stress jobs. I was at a loss to find a job that would allow me to pay the daycare costs on three young children and have anything left over to live on. I refused to pay my entire salary so that someone else could raise my children.

As I pondered what to do, my son's Pre K teacher asked how the divorce was going. I ended up breaking down and telling her about the judge and my need for a job. She piped up, "Why don't you apply to work here? I think one of the benefits is free childcare." Georgia Pre K classrooms are typically within daycares settings. Once she convinced me to consider it, she went to the director and asked. Within a week I was offered a job. The pay wasn't great, but the free childcare more than made up for it.

In the years since, I went from being a cook to an after-school teacher, to assistant and lead teacher positions. For the past several years (thanks to a few more signposts and some divine intervention passing the Praxis II) I managed to snag a position as a lead Georgia Pre K teacher, which pays much better than a normal daycare teacher. God has truly blessed me over the years.

All this leads me to the present. My children no longer need daycare (haven't for years), and I am really burnt out on teaching. Punching a time clock has no allure for me. I find myself dusting off dreams that have been buried for a long time. Do I have time for them? Is it even possible? I don't know the answers to those questions, but I do know I need to find out.

Ms. Richardson reminds me to look for those signposts--those coincidences in my life that indicate my direction to go. I have told God I am ready to surrender to those things He shows me. The adventure comes in waiting to see what my signposts will be along the way.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Facing My Giants

Last night, I spent the evening with my extended family watching the movie Facing the Giants. For those of you not familiar with the movie, it's a faith-based film loosely illustrating the David and Goliath story using a losing high school football team to show what faith can accomplish. As far as storylines go it could be considered highly sappy, but on a spiritual level it once again spoke to me in unexpected ways.

What spoke to me this time was the idea of placing your trust in God and letting Him work out the details. Grant Taylor, the main character in the story, finds himself losing in every area of his life. He's a broken man without much hope. When he realizes that he can do no more on his own strength, Grant is finally ready to let go and let God. As Grant continues to study, pray and ask for guidance, he comes up with a new strategy for his football team (which also happens to be a good approach to life in general). It's simple really--give your best in everything you do and trust that God is going to bless your effort. From that moment on, things change for Grant. Miracles even occur.

To a realist, the movie would seem hokey at worst and a little too optimistic at best. However, I know from past experience that miracles can happen when you place your trust in Him. I believe the movie was God's way of prompting me to remember all the times He has worked things out for me when I believed they were hopeless. It was His way of redirecting my focus.

I find myself asking, "What are my giants? What are the things in my life I need to overcome?" The first and most overwhelming thing on my list is no longer having a job. I have been so burnt out on teaching. Even though there are aspects I enjoy, it's time-consuming nature has taken it's toll. I don't feel I am able to take care of my family as well as I would like, and none of it leaves me time to fulfil my dream of writing. I think of all the time it takes writers to make a living at their craft. Many are not even able to support themselves on their writing efforts alone. Still, after many long conversations with God where I detailed all my pain and my desire to be free of it, I've heard Him tell me that I could quit my job and to trust Him to help me meet my needs.

I have other giants as well. I cannot stand my house. It's a three bedroom/two bath trailer that was fine when I was a single mom and my children were small. Now that I am remarried and my children are all teenagers it is a tight fit. It's also ugly, cramped and dirty (conditions not helped by my reoccuring bouts of depression). I never invite people over anymore because I am embarrassed over how things look.

My daughter is out of control. Yes, she will be 16 tomorrow, and yes, she has been diagnosed with ADHD, but I am convinced there is much more to it than that. She gets into these rages when told no where the anger seems to perpetuate itself until something intervenes to distract her from the subject that set her off in the first place. When this happens, she is without any type of rational thought--it is pure emotion. She does go through periods of depression, which is why I took her to the psychiatrist in the first place. Prior to that, I had her in weekly counseling sessions for almost a year. I loved the counselor and what she did, but it had no impact on my daughter. I worked as a residence counselor in a group home for emotionally disturbed children for almost three years, and I've spent another twelve years working with children in daycare/teaching settings. Her behavior is not normal. I am in the process of finding another psychiatrist for her because her current one thinks her behavior is all my fault.

Sometimes, my giants seems so overwhelming. It can be so hard to find the strength to stand up to them. I often feel afraid and alone. Still, when I take the time to listen to God in the quietest reaches of my heart, He speaks to me. He tells me I am not alone and that I need to trust Him to take care of my needs. With Him at my side, how can I fail?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Reality of Freedom

It's official. I'm totally free of a job. I'm also totally free of a plan. Today did not go quite the way I envisioned it originally.

I spent the morning reviewing the web (okay, it more or less amounted to surfing). By the time I realized I really didn't have anything good to serve the family for lunch, it was almost 1:00. I ran to the grocery store for something to fix and made lunch in record time. I was planning on taking my youngest son over to his dad's house so he could visit with his half sister before I had to take my older son to his soccer game. That's when I discovered my older son had no soccer socks to go with his uniforms! Consequently, we had to rush to the soccer store before the game and I had no time to take my younger son to his dad's as I had promised. The bottom line is, some of my time crunch was my own fault. Some of it was because of my kids (my oldest son should have admitted he didn't have socks much earlier than right before the game).

I know I need to organize my time much better. I will never accomplish all the things I want to get done without a game plan.

I definitely need to be more deliberate with my quiet/meditation time. Reconnecting with the Source (God) is a number one priority right now. I did try to listen to a mediation recording on my iPod while I was waiting for the soccer game to begin, but the noise and sights of the game already in progress distracted my poor little ADD brain. Tomorrow I will need to deliberately set aside time to listen to the silence for direction and answers. This may mean getting up extra early tomorrow as I have two soccer games to attend.

Now that I have time, I also need to plan things like my family's meals and my personal exercise time better. That way, those priorities won't become afterthoughts. As far as how I will spend the rest of the hours in my day, I'm leaving that up to inspiration (the Source). This is why my quiet time is so high on my priorities list.

I guess even freedom has a cost. If you aren't self-motivated, you will never accomplish what you want in life. I might be free from the confines of a normal job, but now I am also free to waste time as I choose. Not a good choice in my opinion. I owe it to myself to become everything I can be. Building good habits now will help me in the long run. I need to be willing to pay the price for my freedom. Freedom really isn't free, is it?

Friday, May 22, 2009


After months of planning and anticipation, I walked off the job today. I have to confess, I felt no regret. I just felt relieved and very free. It's a curious sensation for me. I seem to stay in a constant state of nervousness and anxiety most days. You would think that with no job lined up and nothing specific to earn money in the works I would be in full panic mode. Wonder of wonders, I feel none of those things.

I do feel treasured. I feel this way because I really believe the world is opening up a very new and beautiful reality for me. I have asked for this new reality for a long time, but up to this point and have lacked the faith to boldly step out and take the actions necessary to get there. Now I KNOW it is my turn--my time.

I have this old college friend--Dave. In many ways he is an inspiration to me. Even though he majored in business, his real love is music. He was part of some bands, and it seemed as though he was always playing his guitar and performing for people. After college, he moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of being in the music business.

I have kept up with him some since college. At one point, I got to see him when he was the stage manager for an up and coming country singer and had toured with the Judds. A few years later he was part of a band touring with Christian rock singer Carmen. I'm not sure exactly what he's doing right now, but I know he is still based in Nashville chasing his music dreams.

What is truly inspirational to me is how God takes care of Dave. Even though he doesn't have the comfort of a regular 9-to-5 sort of job with regular pay, his needs are provided for. Dave lives his life on his own terms and enjoys what he does. Dave is free from the ideas that tie most people down to a life of drudgery and boredom.

Now I'm free. I'm not sure what life has in store for me, but the possibilities are endless. I am trusting that God is providing for me and will meet all my needs as they come up. I am trusting that my gifts and talents can now be utilized to their fullest potential. I am trusting that I am finally free to come into my inheritance. I am blessed.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Sweeping the Dust

I spent the day cleaning out my classroom and helping my employer rearrange major pieces of furniture. It was quite exhausting (I have to admit I am sadly out of shape), but at the same time it was also exhilerating. There is something very rewarding about clearing out the dirt and grime and making a fresh start. Granted, the room won't be mine in the coming school year, but it feels good to know that the new teacher will come into something fresh.

Part of my job today was to help my boss pull up some old, nasty carpeting. The dust that accumulated under it could almost have filled up the room's sand table. (It made me wonder just how long that carpet had been there.) As I swept up the dirt, a sudden feeling of elation swept over me. The actions felt like a metaphor for my life--I was ridding myself of the dirt that had accummulated in my life and making room for something much more beautiful.

I still don't know exactly what I'm going to do with my life. I know my ultimate goal is to be a writer, but there are a few things I might also like to do along the way that would use other talents I have and add value to the world. I do know it is my time to try.

I am going to start by taking care of myself--physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. I'm going to eat better, take daily walks, and most importantly take time to listen. I need to reconnect with my Source (which I usually call God). I believe He has been there. My life has just been so crazy lately that I can't hear Him clearly. Hopefully, when I take the time to be silent, I will hear Him leading me.

This is my chance to clear out the dirt of my life, and I am taking full advantage of it. I have already asked. He has said, "Seek and ye shall find. Knock and it shall be opened. Ask and ye shall receive." In the next few months, I am fully expecting to find His answer for my life, and I am finally willing to walk through those doors He opens for me.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Leap of Faith

The Law of Attraction has intrigued me since the first time I watched The Secret (Extended Edition) by Rhonda Byrnes. Somehow, the idea that we are in control of our own destinies through the thoughts we think rings true for me. Based on the popularity of authors like Wayne Dyer, Jack Canfield, and Jerry and Esther Hicks, the idea stikes a powerful chord in many other people as well.
While I have believed in the Law of Attraction concept for years, I will be the first to admit I have not attracted everything I want into my life. My relationships with family and friends are good. I believe I have attained some level of spiritual awareness and have a relationship with God. I have even achieved some level of career success even though it is in an area I fell into instead of actively pursued. Still, I have many goals left unreached. It seems as though life and the ever-present need for money to live it has gotten in the way.
At present, I am the mother of three busy teenaged children, two of whom are special needs (one has a reading disability, the other is ADHD). I spent over ten years as a single mom (with a lot of help from my own mother) and only recently remarried a really nice man who treats the children and I very well. I have been working as the lead teacher in a Georgia Pre K classroom for the past four years, and I worked as a daycare teacher for eight years before that. My only other "real" job was right after I graduated from college with a BA in psychology. I worked almost three years as a residential counselor in a group home for emotionally disturbed children. The endless routine of working full time, chauferring my children around to their various activities, and running a household has taken its toll on me. I am emotionally drained and exhausted.
I look at my life and realize there is so much more I want to do--so much more I want to accomplish! The whirlwind that is my life is not allowing me any time to do it! Even though teaching does bring some rewards, it is not my all-consuming passion. Coupled with the fact that it does not allow me the time I need to take care of myself or my family well, teaching does not feel like a good choice for me at present. The past year has been especially bad for me as I struggle with depression, anxiety and nervousness from the weight of it all.
I realize this is no way to live. I have prayed endlessly to God about what I do want. I want to have time to take care of myself and my family. I want to be financially independent. I want to write. I want to motivate others to change what they don't like about themselves and live lives of empowerment. I want to be free of the chains that have bound me--chains I know I have placed on myself.
Lately in my meditation when I have taken the time to listen to the silence, I have felt a response to my ever questioning need--GO FOR IT! MAKE THE CHANGE! It is a calm, reassuring voice, and from past experience it is a voice I know I can trust. It has always proven reliable in the past.
It is a leap of faith. The only thing I've known and really trusted to bring me the income I need to live on is a regular 9 to 5 sort of job. The thought of having the rely on myself scares me to death. I question whether or not I have the ability to stay with it and thrive. Still, I know I have to try.
This blog is my journey. It is time for me to break out of that cocoon I have placed around myself and wake up to the world of possibilities and dreams. Time for me to fly. It's time for you to fly too.