2018 Week 50: Guiding Star

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Week 50’s task of 50 Weeks to a Lighter More Loving You is GUIDING STAR.

This week we are going to find ONE WORD that will be your GUIDING STAR for the upcoming year.


As humans, we can’t resist the impulse to fill our lives with something. So in lieu of real purpose, we often settle for preoccupation. But purpose requires that we, in turn, are purposeful. As long as we’re preoccupied, distracted, or half-hearted, we’ll have trouble recognizing, understanding, and pursuing our true purpose in life.

We will be face with hundreds of choices everyday.  Getting clear on where you want to go, what kind of life you want to create, who you want to be, and how you want to inspire others helps significantly when you are faced with all those daily choices. 


At the beginning of every year I take time to work through a group of exercises and then end it all with finding a GUIDING STAR….or ONE WORD…my WORD FOR THE YEAR, that will be an easy reminder of what it is I am being purposeful about for the year.   

It helps guide decisions.  

It helps keep me on track.

It brings to mind my goals or intentions for the year.

It brings more meaning to my days and ultimately my year.

Here are the exercises:

  1. Review your TOP 5 IDEALS.
  2. Print off the LIFE WHEEL and in each section write one or two things in each section that you’d like to do this coming year to improve that area of life.  If you are totally happy with a particular area of your life, leave it blank or write what you’d like to continue doing.
  3. Make a List of 10 things you’d like to do this year.  Some of them may be the same as on a wheel area or it might be a more specific thing related to what you wrote in your wheel.
  4. Print off the WORD FOR THE YEAR WORKSHEETS and complete them.

This will take time to do.  The process helps you get focused and contemplating what in your life you’d like to do, work towards, or accomplish in the new year.  

By the time you get to the WORD OF THE YEAR, you will have focus and clarity. 

YOUR GUIDING STAR (WORD FOR THE YEAR) may jump right off the page! 

Once you have it, post it somewhere in your home where you see it everyday.  Use it as a meditation mantra. Tell someone your word. Write it down, take a picture of it, and use it as wallpaper on your phone or computer.  Just make sure you see it everyday.

This is the final task of 50 Weeks to a Lighter More Loving You…and it is a big one!

There isn’t much that makes us feel lighter and more loving then direction and purpose.

I hope you enjoyed this series. (You can find all the tasks under YEAR OF LOVE.)

Feel free to post your GUIDING STAR (WORD FOR THE YEAR) in the comments.

Cheering You on to a Whole Lighter More Loving You Heart,

Barbara

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The Walk Home

photo 2When I walk around the lake and take this last stretch to my house, I’m always blessed by the peace and simplicity of this section of road.  I also know that just yards away is my Haven…the place where I can be me, relax, dream, be creative, feel secure, and eat!!!  I wake pretty early and sit with God praying, reading, and journaling.  I do some form of exercise like walking or yoga, because if I don’t do it early in the day, it is likely I won’t do it at all.  And then I eat!  By the time I get to this part of the walk, I’m hungry!

photo 1This stretch of the road also reminds me of my true walk home.  At 50+, there is a dawning realization that I’m getting closer and closer to my real home—Heaven!  And just like my morning walk, I am excited about getting there but I want to walk this last stretch in such a way that pleases God.  I want to run the good race.  I want to live with eyes wide open to see the beauty around me.  I want to live and love with a heart wide open to God–to what He is doing and wants me to do.

photo 5While the walk around the lake is beautiful, it is not always easy.  I’ve stumbled over rocks, stepped in duck poo, tripped and fallen when not paying attention, chased off bees, been rained on, and been choked by the dust that is stirred up when the dirt road is dry.  Sometimes the traffic noise out does the peace. Sometimes I encounter people with smiles and dogs that are friendly.  Sometimes I meet grumpy people and dogs that don’t like my dog.   Sometimes I walk alone and sometimes with a friend.  None of these are unlike encounters on my walk to heaven.  Each day is different, yet I just keep going to this last stretch to my home, to my haven, to heaven.    And, here too, I am hungry!

Honestly, I wish that I could fill up and never be hungry…and yet it is an everyday need…food and God!  If your anything like me, if I go too long without eating, I’m grumpy, impatient, self focused, can’t think well, make bad choices, and fill myself with things that aren’t healthy.  I’m not just talking about food here!!

When we are feeding ourselves well and are full, we share and feed others.  This kind of walk is pleasing to God.

Over 7 years ago I went through a class that is similar to the ones I facilitate (WHOOP Classes). Since then so much has changed–especially in how, where, and with who I walk.

Another round of WHOOP (Whole Heartedly Opening Our Purpose) Classes is about to begin.  I love running and hosting these classes because they teach us how to fill up on God and to walk boldly, beautifully, and lovingly.  They teach ways to be fed and they feed you at the same time.

Take a walk to my home.  My haven is open and I’d love to feed you.

WHOOP Classes begin August 18th at 6PM at Barbara’s home in Cashiers, NC.

If you are far away and would like to participate, let me know. If there are 2-3 of you, a conference call class could be organized.

More info on WHOOP CLASSES.

cropped-011114_2043_selfcompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

Would love to hear your heart on how you feed yourself with God.

Death, Divorce, and Heartbreak Part 2: A Personal Reflection

images (5)I was telling a friend, “I’m much better at death than heartache through divorce or breakups.”

I have known this about myself for quite some time.

And I have asked God, “What makes heartache so much more difficult for me to deal with than death?” 

I loved reading Nancy Drew Mystery books when I was growing up. God must remember this about me because when I have big questions He never gives me the answer straight up.  I have to become a detective being keenly aware of what He reveals to me over time to start to piece together the answer to my personal perplexing questions.   (I’m thinking many of you can relate to this, also!)

These next few blogs will present the pieces of the mystery I have so far in regards to why divorce and heartbreak have been much harder for me than death.   This particular post will talk about all the grace God has given me through my life which has made death a more peaceful process. The next posts will discuss some revealed truths about what makes heartbreak so much more difficult for me….and maybe you…and some wholehearted ways to deal with divorce and breakups.


images (8)PERSONAL EXPERIENCES OF DEATH AND HEARTBREAK

Seventeen years ago I watched as my mom battled cancer for two years and then pass away.  Just 4 weeks ago I watched as father’s body was overcome by cancer, and he too passed away.

In each of those instances I was fortunate to be prepared for their deaths.  

I was given time to talk with them,  say what I’ve always held in my heart about them, and hear what they wanted to say to me.   Though my mom was too young in my eyes to leave this world, it was God’s grace that I was given notification.   With my dad, he lived a full life, and in God’s grace, again, I was given notification.

Working in a hospice for a short bit in my 20’s, I learned that time is precious.

Don’t wait till the “notification” comes to deal with something or say something you’ve always wanted.  

That was a lesson I integrated wholeheartedly, so in the last few days of each of my parent’s lives, my heart found only a few questions I had always wanted to ask—what they enjoyed most about their lives, what were their spiritual beliefs that I didn’t know, how my mom felt about my dad, what my dad had always wanted to do but didn’t, any last words of advice they wanted to pass on.  The information from those questions has been precious to me.

I was fortunate in their deaths to have time to prepare and send them off with love. 

The heartache from my parents’ deaths was a mix of sadness and joy:  I miss them yet thankful I had them for as long as I did, I became much more aware and grateful for what they taught me and passed on to me, there was no more suffering for them to endure, and I was peaceful about their belief and trust in God to take them to heaven where I’d see them again.

Obviously, having spiritual life makes death and dying more peaceful.

Knowing that my parents are finally with God and that they are more loved and joyous then they were ever on earth makes their going much easier.

I have been fortunate.  My close family has not experienced sudden deaths, tragic deaths, or unexpected deaths. In High School several of my classmates were killed in car wrecks and I did observe, from afar, the mournful cries and moaning of their families.  Something I’ll never forget.  And I knew the anger and the “words can’t describe” shock and pain I felt at the loss of those friends. I have walked a few friends and clients through the process of sudden child or spouse deaths.

But for the most part death for me has been easier to deal with and adjust to than divorce or relationship heartbreaks.

I have never been afraid of dying.   I have had fear about HOW I will die, but that seems to be waning as well.   Someone once said that I was probably not scared to die because my spirit remembers where it came from and longs to go home.  That made sense to me, even though this was said to me during a time when my Christian walk was trying to come back to life! I was “saved” at 11 y/o but spent many years between then and 45 y/o walking in and out of churches like a Velcro ball that lost its place to stick or stickiness.

Have I wished for death? Yes, I have wished for death…but never after someone dies only after heartbreak! 

I’ve had 3 significant relationships (one engagement, one with my husband of 20 years, and one long term relationship) with men I mindfully chose to put forth effort for a lasting, committed relationship.  The ending of those relationships were devastating to my heart and mind.  I was a mess!  I’d cry for days, and honestly, even months or years later. Part of me felt lost or gone.  Direction and goals I had disappeared. I felt empty and alone. Life seemed dark and hopeless.

Death wishes would come sometimes as fervent prayers for God to take me home and sometimes just as a comfort and an escape.

I have a daughter who I love wholeheartedly and even that didn’t keep them from coming. I didn’t like that.

At some point don’t we realized that life is all about relationships (not work, money, things, etc)?  My relationship with God, YES…yet others, too!   But if this is what life on earth is like with relationships, then I can’t wait till I’m gone.

I remember sitting in church singing songs about how everything will be amazing and wonderful when we get to heaven, and listening to sermons on the hardships of life but we had heaven to look forward to.

These were all well and good, but what am I to do in the mean time till I get to go to heaven?   

I would have thought that death would have brought such a reaction for me.  I know it has for others that have lost children, spouses, and parents.  And I do believe, if I had tragically lost my ex-husband during our marriage or tragically lose my daughter, some of those same thoughts would appear.  But my deep down grief and sorrow have come after relationship loss and not death loss.  What was the difference?   Why was this seemingly so much harder?  How could I bring the peace I experience through the loss to death into the loss of a significant relationship?

(Come back next week for some things God has taught me about this.)

012014_2108_SelfCompass1.jpgEncouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

Can you relate to the difference in my reactions to death and heartbreak?  I’d love to hear your heart.  Leave me a comment or a snippet of your story on death and heartache.

On Death, Divorce, and Heartbreak Part One: The Empty Hangers in the Closet

empty-closet (1)Recently I had a session of WHOOP classes with two beautiful, journeying women. Each was going through a major life change.   Six months earlier Cheryl had lost her husband, and father to her teenage son, to a heart attack.  Susan was in the midst of the final decisions and signing of divorce.   During one class, I listened as they pondered their different perspectives of the empty hangers in their closets.

Contemplating this a bit more on my own, I saw how each of their perspectives, as well as mine with my divorce and the death of my parents, had spiritual wisdom in it.

For Cheryl the empty hangers that once held her husband’s clothes were full of sorrow and grief.  They were a reminder of what she had lost.   She had items of her husband’s she just couldn’t part with in honor of him. And others she held on to in case her son could ever use or want them as he got older and more his dad’s size.

At that time she could not even think about filling the hangers or space that his leaving left in her closet and life. 

Susan loved the empty hangers.  She was busy repainting and redoing the closet. She was looking forward to reorganizing it.   Her marriage had been rocky and unpleasant. She did have grief over the loss of dreams, the hardships of joint custody with her children, and the pain of thinking about her soon-to-be-ex with another woman, but she had a secure sense that in the long run, this was the best for all involved.

The empty hangers in Susan’s closet were a sign of relief and excitement.

During my own divorce I came across a magnet that said, “The barn burned down. Now I can see the moon.”   The empty space and empty hangers became one small odd way for me to see the moon–I would have more space and take over the whole closet!

Silly and shallow as it seemed, the empty hangers were the start of looking at the brighter side of a situation I had to accept.  

I remember cleaning out my mom’s clothes after she died. Her clothes were donated to a shelter for women who were starting a new life. This was a fitting tribute to my mom and bittersweet.

The empty space and empty hangers were a sign that someone was recieving a blessing towards their renewed hopes and dreams.

Three weeks ago my dad passed.  His closet has not been cleaned out yet, but I did go look at what was there.  The closet was a history of my dad—shoes and ties from work, golf shirts and hats from golfing trips and tournaments, sweat shirts and jackets from colleges he supported because of his kids and grandkids, a wild shirt I only saw him wear in retirement.

Thinking about the empty space and empty hangers for my dad, I could see them as a reminder to carry on what he inspired in me—hard work, do something you love and are passionate about even if it is a hobby, support others in their dreams, and have fun. 

Death, divorce, and heartache are painful to our hearts whether it is a tragic or an expected death, whether it is a divorce or a break up of our own choosing or another’s.    Living a spiritual or whole hearted life does not mean we become emotionless and not feel the sorrows of life.   I’d say we actually become more emotional!   If you are looking for more joy in your life, expect to feel more sorrow.

Welcoming, accepting, and moving through the pain in a way that is most loving for God, our self, and others is living wholeheartedly.   This is when there is joy in sorrow and where grief turns into rejoicing.

The empty hangers give us some clues on how to do this with death, divorce, and heartbreak—allowing the space to grieve, seeing the relief and joy, being accepting of what is, looking for the blessings, embracing the excitement of creating a new life, learning from the person and experience, honoring what was, believing and holding on for the rejoicing to come.

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Encouraging Your Whole Heartedness:

What empty hangers have you had in your life?  What was your perspective of them?  What did they teach you about living wholeheartedly?  I’d love to hear your heart!  Leave me your story!


Scriptures and Other Readings to Ponder:

Jeremiah 31:13    The young women will dance for joy, and the men—old and young—will join in the celebration. I will turn their mourning into joy.  I will comfort them and exchange their sorrow for rejoicing.

John 16:20  I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that you shall weep and grieve, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy.

Hebrews 12:11  For the time being no discipline brings joy, but seems grievous and painful; but afterwards it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it [a harvest of fruit which consists in righteousness—in conformity to God’s will in purpose, thought, and action, resulting in right living and right standing with God].

Psalm 30:11  You did it: You turned my deepest pains into joyful dancing; You stripped off my dark clothing and covered me with joyful light.

A Buddhist thought:  Suffering is our teacher, it’s through our own experience and ability to contemplate suffering that we learn the First Noble Truth–The Joy Hidden in Sorrow.

On Joy and Sorrow
 Kahlil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits, alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.