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Random Ramblings

>> Friday, December 20, 2013

I'm not sleepy.

It's 3:07am as I write this, and I'm debating whether or not I should go to bed. I'm still wired from a series of late nights at the store, and I'm off tomorrow, so I think my brain and my body are still decompressing. I usually need a few good hours of "decompress-mode" after work before I can hit the sack. Especially after a closing shift, where I usually hit my second wind right around when most other people are probably getting ready for bed.

It probably doesn't help that I drank a Dr.Pepper when I got home.

Come to think of it, it probably doesn't help that I ate some chocolate either.

Or that I'm sitting in front of a bright computer screen.

Hmmm . . . .

Anyway - how's it going dear reader? How has this Holiday season been treating you thus far?  ;)

I'm been busy as a bee these last few weeks (these last few months actually!) I know most people are probably counting down to Christmas (5 more days in case you were wondering), but I myself am counting down to January.

Primarily because that's when the craziness dies down a bit in my life, but mostly because my favourite holiday of the year is in January (New Year's Day!) AND I have a whole week of vacation in January - woot woot!

I am excited about Christmas though. I'm not a big getting presents kind of person anymore (but I don't think most adults are though, right? You get to the point where you can afford to buy what you want for yourself and the excitement of getting presents kind of goes away a bit. I do love buying presents though - especially for the kiddos - I could spend hours in Toys R Us!) I am pretty stoked though to be spending Christmas Day and Boxing Day at my parents farm in Simcoe. It'll just be them and Chris and I this year, but the following weekend we're going back for another visit, as my sister and her family will be coming down as well, so I get double the dose of Brimley/Greenway family farm famjam!

Sorry - maybe I am tired - I just wrote "family farm famjam".

And now I've written it twice.


Okay, moving on.

In other news - Franklin the dog has decided to shed more in the last few weeks than he ever has in his entire existence. I swear if his fur was worth money I would be typing this on a gold keyboard while someone fed me chocolate and massaged my feet. I think even Frankin is amazed at the amount he is shedding. He walked past a clump of dog hair on the floor just now and looked at it and then me with a sort of amazement in his eyes. That or he was silently judging me for not vacuuming enough.

I'm convinced though that Frankers is a canine weather predictor. He's obviously in the process of growing the thickest, craziest dog coat ever in the history of time - because he knows (he just knows!) that now that we live in London we will be subjected to the snowiest, coldest winter known to man. Seriously - I've seen more snow and felt more cold in the last few weeks than we ever did when we lived in the Barrie snowbelt. We moved here last November, and I don't remember it being like this so early on in the season last year.  It probably doesn't help that I lost my favourite winter gloves and need new waterproof winter boots (as having cold hands and wet feet is maybe making me a little grumpier about winter than last year), but I regress - my dog can predict the weather - amazing!

Alright - I'm gonna' wrap this sucker up. Speaking of the dog, need to let him out one more time before we try getting some shut eye.

I promise my next post will be more coherent than this one.

Note to self - blog posts at 3am - not your best idea.

;) Suz

P.S. - just let the dog out. He predicts rain for tomorrow folks. Just sos ya knows!


You Are Not Special

>> Thursday, December 5, 2013

You are not special.

I am not special.

"We" are not special.


Harsh right?

This is the message of several blogs/articles that have been circling the internet over the past several months. I've read them with interest, as this is something that's been on my heart for awhile now - this idea or concept of elevating oneself over others that comes from thinking you are somehow . . . special.

Some of these articles I found way too demeaning - viewpoints that dehumanized our existence and left myself as the reader feeling quite frankly, a little depressed. Others leaned too much to the other side - applauding a little too exuberantly the idea that life itself is a miracle and that each and every one of us can and should accomplish everything our hearts desire during our time here on Earth.

I fall somewhere in the middle. Actually that's not entirely true. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say I lean more towards the side that says we are not in fact, special.

It all comes down to how you use the word of course. "Special" by definition means "better or greater than". In the context I'm referring to here though, it means "better or greater than someone else entirely".

I don't think I'm special. And no offense to anyone else who is reading this, but - I don't think you're special either. I don't think that any one person's worth is better than or greater than another's. Of course I think some people are "better" or more skilled at some things than others. Some are smarter than others, some are funnier, etc, etc. My dad for instance is better at math and science than anyone else I know. My husband is one of the best speakers I've ever seen. I'm probably a better singer than a lot of my family and friends. But that doesn't make them special. It doesn't make me special.

Because as good as my dad is at math and science - there's a heck of a lot of people out there who are smarter than him in those areas. As skilled as my husband is at communicating, I know there are a slew of others whose skills are equal to or exceed his. And as confident as I am now in my singing abilities, I know for sure that there are flocks and flocks of singers out there who could outsing me on their worst days. And even those people who are better or more skilled, there are people out there who are even better than they are. There will always be someone who is "better".

I think we all know this on a base level, but the thing is - we're living in a very weird/interesting time in history. With both the ability to have instant access to information and the constant communication we're in with each other all the time, we can instantly put ourselves "out there" with this attitude of "look at me! look at me! look at what I'm doing! look at what I'm good at! I'm so special!!!!" And with this attitude we also tend to adopt the attitude or thinking that because we are "special" we are somehow "better" - not just at that one skill but somehow overall.

And it's not just with people who are highly skilled in certain areas. I don't know about you, but I see it all the time. People who have this sense of entitlement, a sense that they deserve better, a sense that they are better. And it comes from people from all walks of life. Upper class, middle class, lower class, from the West, from the East, from the young to the old. I know I myself have adopted this attitude from time to time, although it's definitely something I'm becoming a lot more aware of (plus I have a very level-headed husband who won't hesitate to call me out when I take on a "better than" attitude!)

As I was doing some reading on this subject I did some quick digging and found that there are over 7 Billion people on Earth. Roughly 4 people are born every second. Of every minute. Of every hour. Of every day.

Crazy right?! It's so awesome and humbling at the same time. Talk about putting your "status" in this world into perspective!

Think about it - 4 people born every second. So where do we get this idea that we're special? Don't get me wrong. Every child is a gift, and for those of us blessed with parents who welcomed us with tears of joy, we were (and are) indeed "special" . . . to them. But when you zoom out from the picture of your parents holding you for the first time in the hospital, to the other sets of parents beaming down at the 240 other babies born that minute, and then to the 14,400 other babies born that hour, to the 345,600 other babies born that day.

Well, you get the idea. Your birth was really not all that "special". You were/are a gift, a blessing - we all are. Each breath we take is a gift, and our lives truly can be a blessing to each other. But with 7+ billion of us, we're not all that . . . special.

I don't mean to offend at all - I believe in God our creator and I believe in His great design for our lives.

I think I'm coming to realize though that I believe more in our uniqueness, than our specialness. When you start to think about how, in a world of over 7 billion people, none of our DNA is exactly the same - that's pretty crazy and awesome, in a whole different way. When you begin to wrap your brain around that - that 7 billion people are truly different, are unique creatures, and none hold more worth than the other, it shifts your own attitude about yourself a little bit.

It's been a ongoing perspective shift for me, and I'm still working on it. I've gone through periods in my life so far where I've been incredibly prideful - where I've just expected a lot, simply "because". It's been incredibly helpful to me recently to remember that I'm not special, I'm unique. When I find myself feeling a little bit entitled, thinking "why is this happening to me", "why can't I have that?", "how dare they treat me like that!" I try to remember that we are all unique beings on this earth, and I am in no way shape or form above anyone or anything. It then becomes more of a realization of "why wouldn't this happen to me", "why would I have that", and "why wouldn't they treat me like that" - it helps take the me out of the equation and keeps everything on a level playing field.

It has also helped to motivate me to celebrate my uniqueness, and to be more accepting of myself. When you began to rid yourself of that need to stand not just out, but above others, and to just stand with others instead, it frees you in a way nothing else can. When you start to celebrate not just your own innate uniqueness, but the uniqueness of those around you, it adds a level of joy to what you're doing. It takes away an unhealthy pressure, and replaces it with a more healthy striving to improve not just your own life or lifestyle, but the lives of others. I don't mean to get all cheesy on you here, but when you look at the people who have really impacted this world in a positive way, I think it's safe to say that the vast majority of them weren't thinking of themselves when they accomplished what they did. They weren't looking to stand above, to elevate, to be superior, or special. They weren't looking out for the betterment of their own lives. They were looking to stand with, they were looking for equality, they were looking out for the betterment of the lives of others.

So no, I don't think I'm special.

I'm unique.

I am the only me in a world of 7 billion people.

You are the only you.

And that my friends, is pretty darn cool.


Winter is coming . . .

>> Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm sitting here in my favourite chair, at midnight, as the snow continues to fall outside.

Winter is coming . . .

Actually, as far as I'm concerned, once the first snowfall happens it's winter already. Break out the snow boots, the windshield scrapers, shovels and salt, and settle in for a season of coldness, greyness, wetness and blahness.

Or . . . get excited for a season of snowflakes, snowmen, Christmas trees, hot chocolate and gatherings with family and friends.

Which one to pick?


This year, I pick the latter. I've had a few years at this point in my life when I've gravitated more towards the former. Seeing the snow fall for the first time of the season and feeling a sort of dread. I love Summer - I am a full-on beach lovin', sun lovin', flip flop kinda' gal. So for me, the realization that Winter has arrived has mostly been a bit of a let down in the past, more of a "just get through it and start counting down the days until Summer arrives again" kind of thing.

Not this year though. Life is way too short to live with a "just get through it" attitude.

Today I saw the snow falling and I got excited. Like, really excited. I may have spontaneously broken out into a happy dance right in the middle of the sales floor at my store.

I don't know what's changed, I didn't actually consciously choose when I heard it may snow today to be excited about it. But I'll tell 'ya - I saw that snow falling through the sky today and it represented something to me . . .


A whole new season. Not just season as in weather, but season as in life.

How amazing is it that we live another day, another month, another year, another season in life? Sometimes it can seem like the odds are so highly stacked against us it's hard to see around them. But in my 33 years of life, I have experienced roughly 12,045 days, or 17,344,800 minutes, where I have beaten the odds.

That's crazy-town. In the best possible way.

Every single day, every single minute, is someone's last. Not to get all morbid on you, but it's both a sobering and amazingly life-affirming thing to think about that every once in awhile. Life is truly a gift, yet we spend so much of our time feeling ticked off about it.

Snow falls, and we sigh and think Winter is coming. We cringe as we think about all the snow we'll have to shovel, or that we have to dig out our gloves and that horrible winter jacket we hate. We get anxious as we think about having to commute in this weather, or that the heating bill will go up.

Or . . .

Snow falls, and we smile and think Winter is coming. We're thankful that we still have the physical strength to shovel the driveway at the house we're blessed to live in, and that we have gloves and a warm winter jacket to wear that still fits. We're grateful as we commute to a job we're lucky to have in this economy (that will pay our heating bill in our cozy house), in a car that runs and keeps us safe.

All the while, I breathe in, I breathe out.

I am alive.

Winter is coming . . .


Getting Organized

>> Saturday, October 5, 2013

I used to be super organized - like really, really organized. Schedules, calendars, home life, work life, school life - all organized and accounted for.

Somewhere along the way in the last several years though, I seem to have lost my penchant for organizing. I'm still somewhat organized, and if you asked anyone at work I'm sure they would probably tell you that I'm the "organized" one, but I can tell I'm not nearly as on top of it as I once was.

I'm not entirely sure why - being organized and having things planned out has always really worked for me and the way I process information. I've always enjoyed the process of planning and mapping out my days, projects and work space, and find it rather cathartic. It also makes life a lot easier and smoother when you have a "plan" - not just for the big stuff but for the little stuff as well. I think for whatever reason I just fell out of the habit of being organized and found it difficult to get started again.

Lately I've been feeling a strong desire to get back into the habit of being highly organized. I'm on Pinterest, and love some of the posts and links I've seen recently about systems other people are using to plan and get some more structure in their lives. I've also started combing the shelves of Staples and Michaels - getting some ideas for organizational tools I can customize in ways that both work for me and where I can add a creative touch.

As I've started to get back into this process, I'm realizing: a) how much I've missed it, b) how precious our time is, and c) how much time I've let get away from me! Time goes by so quickly, and I'm realizing how easily I can waste a lot of time when I let myself become disorganized. I also realize that having unstructured time is important sometimes, especially for us creative types who like to dream and imagine and create. But perhaps plotting out and structuring those times when you can be unstructured (instead of all your time being unstructured) is actually the way to go. I used to actually schedule very specific times in my planner to write and work on music, and at the time it really worked!

We have so many distractions these days. It really can be way too easy and frequent to get to the end of the day and wonder what happened to the hours and how it's time for bed already. Keeping organized - having a plan for your days, mapping out your short and long-term goals - I know it works, and I'm determined to get back into the habit.

So here's to organizing, having a plan, and getting back to what works!


On vacation, focus & cutting back the noise

>> Monday, August 26, 2013

Well today's the last day of our summer vacation. It's been an amazing 10 days, and I'm just really grateful to have had a solid block of time off with my husband, where we could relax and "vacate" from the busyness of our lives. We had a stay-cation, but the awesome thing we've discovered about living in London is that we're now so close to all our favourite Ontario beaches! We spent the majority of our days hangin' out at the beach (Grand Bend, Port Stanley, Sauble) and discovered some new ones along the way (Port Franks - gorgeous beach there!) We never did make it down to Long Point (one of our other faves), but the summer's not yet over yet, right?  :)

I've always been a bit of a fish, so swimming and just being near the water automatically slows me down and brings me an amazing sense of calmness and fullness. Unless you're a water-person yourself, it really is hard to describe exactly how happy being on the water makes me. The best I can probably do is say that I feel most like myself when I'm there. It helps centre me and slow down the wheels in my head that I feel are spinning at about 1000 rotations a minute most of the time. The immensity of water, the force of it I think - kind of forces you to remember that your problems are not nearly as large as you thought they were, and the beauty of it is a constant reminder that God is everywhere and in everything.

I also love how being in the water brings out the kid in everyone. Chris and I spent another day at Port Stanley yesterday, and met up with my mom and dad for a day of swimming, talking and eating. It was a perfect beach day - not too hot, windy but not too windy, and big waves. We had a great time playing in the waves, and I'll never forget how hard we all laughed as we splashed about and got pummeled by one wave after the other. You know those moments in life that are so perfect you actually think "I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life" - I definitely had one of those yesterday. Me, my mom and my dad - splashing about in the water laughing hysterically like a bunch of kids. It was perfect moment in time, and defintely a highlight of the entire week!

To change gears a little bit (well, completely actually) - one of the other things I've continued to spend some time reflecting on this past week off (something I've been thinking about / reading about / researching) for probably a good 8 months or so now - is our use of technology/smartphones/social media and how that's changing the way we interact with each other, the way we process information, the way we use our time, and our overall behaviour. Don't worry - this is not about to become a huge rant against technology, just some things I've noticed for myself and what I'll be doing with that in my own life.

Here's the thing - for the most part, social media / smartphone technology has not improved my life. It's made it more convenient, that's for sure. But if I'm being 100% honest with myself, it hasn't made me smarter, improved my character, helped me focus, helped me achieve any goals or deepened my relationships. It has - helped me share what's going on in my life, helped me keep up-to-date with what's going on in other peoples lives, helped me keep up-to-date with what's going on in the world, and made me more accessible.

It has also though - made me dependent, stolen my focus, stolen my time, & made me believe I have to keep people up-to-date with what's going on in my life, and have to keep up-to-date with what's going on in other peoples lives.

Now I'm not neccessarily saying that keeping people up-to-date with what's going on in your life and vice versa is a bad thing. What I've really been thinking about and looking at is why it's become such a huge thing for us in our society and why we seem to be becoming so addicted to it.

I can only speak for myself of course, but I know I'm probably not the only one who has a feeling that this is not good for us - that we're going down a road we either shouldn't be going down, or we're travelling along it so fast we're eventually going to crash. When you're sitting at the beach, or a restaurant (or anywhere really) and look around and see the majority of people immersed in something they're doing on their phones and not in the people who are actually sitting next to them or the environment around them - warning bells start to go off.

When something's happening, and people are focused only on capturing the moment on camera and not actually enjoying/living in the moment - warning bells start to go off.

When people no longer have the focus to carry-on conversation with one another without getting distracted by their phone - warning bells start to go off.

It just doesn't feel right - why do we care so much what's going on in our online worlds that we're willing to ignore what's right in front of us?

Who among us hasn't gotten a slight thrill when you notice a like or comment on something you've posted on facebook? Who among us hasn't felt validated when someone retweets something you've posted on twitter? And what about instagram, what about pinterest, what about all the other social media apps we're using?

Again - I'm not saying the technology is neccessarily bad, but the question is why? Why do I feel the need to post what I'm doing all the time on twitter or facebook? Why do I feel the need to post pictures of my day on instagram?

"Back in the day" for example - we used to take pictures, get them developed, then put them in a photo album to keep as a memento of that season/occasion in life, and maybe show them to our family and friends when they came to visit. Now with technology, we can show them to everyone - but of course we usually only show the pictures that have been edited so they look professional, and we only show the moments that make our lives maybe look a little more "elevated" than they actually are. Life isn't edited - life doesn't have filters you can put on it to make it look better - but that's what we're doing - that's what I'm doing! Turning life into an edited version of itself and then sharing it with anyone we can - it's like we live in this weird, pseudo-reality and have these avatars that are our spokesmen.

I bet some people know how to use it right. They've somehow been able to strike the right balance and use this technology in the way I suppose it was meant to be used at its inception. But I would hazard a guess and say that most of us don't use it "right". I know I don't. I know when I first joined facebook I thought it would be a great way to keep in touch with my close friends and family - share pictures and keep in touch more frequently. But then it morphed into something else entirely for me. It morphed into someplace where I was getting updates from a ton of people, that while it was nice to see from time to time what some people were up to, I was also getting updated on things that in "real life" they probably wouldn't update me on. There's so little filter online - people will share anything (and sometimes everything), and frankly it just turns into information overload. I only have so much I can take in before I start to shut down a little, and the amount of information I was taking in online had started to affect the information I was trying to & having to take in "offline". My focus dwindled, and I realized that what was once supposed to be a handy "tool" for me to keep in touch with the people I loved the most, had turned into something that was causing more harm then good. I decided to take a short facebook break, then decided to take a break from it for the entire summer. And it's been good. The people who needed to get in touch with me still found a way to get in touch with me, and any information I needed to find out I would have been able to find elsewhere (although there was nothing that I absolutely needed to know!)

It wasn't a complete social media break though - I've still been using Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest. And really - I've probably tweeted/instagrammed more since I gave up facebook, and when I think about the real reasons why I've been doing that - it would probably be because I'm still looking to feel important in some way. I'm still looking for some sort of outward validation that what I'm doing is important and people care about it.

It's not healthy though, and it still doesn't feel right. I realize that validation is not all bad - it's a form of accountability and we all should be accountable to some people (ie in the way I am accountable at work, in the way I am accountable to my friends and family). But validation in the form it comes in with most social media I've been using is a weird beast to struggle with. Who I am and how I value myself should not be in any way shape or form dependant on how and what other people "approve" of, but it seems that's the direction I've been starting to go down with my social media usage, and the direction I see so many other people going down.

So what does this all mean? Well to start, I'm going to continue my facebook sabbatical. I'm also going to be saying good-bye to Twitter for awhile, and adjust the way I use instagram and pinterest. My blog I'll probably keep open - I still really enjoy writing and this has never been something I've used for any sort of recognition or validation (and has actually helped me focus instead of being a distraction).

We'll see how it goes and if some time "away from it all" and more "aware of it all" is as good as I think it will be.

Anyway - this did turn out to be a bit of a lengthy post! Again - I would like to stress that my experiences with social media technology are not everyones experience. If you're one of those people who have managed to use it in a way that's been truly beneficial to you in meaningful ways, then I really do commend you!

I also am completely aware of the irony in posting this on facebook/twitter. The reason I am is because I do have some people who have preferred to keep in touch with me via those outlets. If you're one of those people, I wanted to let you know that while I'm not going to post my email on here - if you'd like to keep in touch you know how to find me.

:) Suz 


Can you hear Me?

>> Wednesday, July 17, 2013

** I wrote this blog back in the Spring, but was having trouble with the site and couldn't post it. As I'm going to attempt to start updating my blog again regularly, I went back through some saved drafts and decided to post it even though it's a little old. It still rings true for me, and just rereading it again I was taken back to that day and the significance of its lesson on me. Hope it maybe has some significance on you too!**

Well after about 30 hours that some crazy stomach virus decided to start its course through my body yesterday morning, I felt well enough to go for a short walk this afternoon. It's a beautiful Spring day, and I figured some fresh air would do me some good and hopefully speed up the recovery process.

I put on my rubber boots, grabbed the dogs leash and off we went. It was surprisingly quiet in my neighbourhood today. We live right near a big park - open fields, trails, a large pond and a huge forest - so I had expected quite a few people to be out and about enjoying the weather, but I guess maybe school hadn't been let out quite yet. Franklin and I ended up having the place to ourselves, which I love (as quiet suits me just fine), so we moseyed along - Franklin urging me to walk faster as he wanted to sniff absolutely everything that Spring has to offer.

As the sun beat down on us (first day without a jacket on!) my mind started to wander a bit, and I started thinking about beauty and how it just seems to be such a hard time for young girls to grow up in right now - constantly being bombarded by images of what "beauty" is and how to achieve it. I don't really know why I started thinking about it - perhaps it's because my husband works with youth and we often talk about what challenges young people face, perhaps because I was reading an article the other day about something related to that, or perhaps because God put it on my heart for a reason.

I started thinking about how I've faced my own struggles and insecurities over the years as it relates to beauty - what I think it is, what it means to be or not be known as physically beautiful, and what "inner beauty" really means.

I was very fortunate growing up. My family never placed a lot of importance on physical beauty. I went through a very awkward phase (I mean really awkward) from the time I was about 11 to probably around 18. Yup - it was a pretty long phase. From a purely physical standpoint, I wasn't someone society would have described as beautiful. I had really frizzy hair (which for some reason I cut short, thinking that would "calm" the frizz. Ha! It only makes it worse people!) I also had a huge space between my front teeth, which was to be straightened by retainers, braces and "head gear" (yes, the kind that wraps around your whole head . . . ) I also had acne, and was super, super, super skinny. Although I ate like a horse, I just had extremely high metabolism and couldn't gain weight for the life of me. Let's put it this way - until I was 18 I pretty much looked like a very skinny, frizzy, short-haired guy.

But here's the thing though - I don't think I realized any of that at the time. As looks weren't really emphasized in my family or in my circle of friends, it never really dawned on me that I wasn't "physically beautiful". Sure there were some mean kids at school who teased me from time to time, and sure there was that one time some lady stopped me at the mailbox to ask if I was a boy or a girl (seriously) and I ran home crying, but it honestly never really bothered me that much. My parents were great at always making sure that it was personality traits or qualities we had to work at that were recognized. If I studied really hard and did well on a test? I was praised for it. When my parents found out I had stood up to a bully who was teasing a special needs boy on the bus and then walked him home? I saw tears in their eyes as they told me how proud they were of me. I knew even at that young age, that when I was applauded or praised, it was due to something that really mattered - that was a reflection of who I really was.

It was only when I was around 18/19 years old that I started to place a lot more significance on my own physical appearance. I would look back at photographs of myself during that awkward phase and be ashamed at how I had looked. I remember getting really upset one day as I looked through older photos of myself - holding one up to my dad & saying - "Why didn't you guys tell me I looked so bad? Why didn't you tell me I was ugly!" And he simply looked at me and said "But you weren't. You were beautiful then just as you're beautiful now." I scoffed at it and continued into what I call the "hair straightening years". I started putting a lot more time and effort into how I looked, and started to place way too much importance on physical beauty. I would wake up early everyday - hours earlier then I had to - just to straighten my long unruly, super-light dyed blonde hair, and then spend probably about a half hour applying make-up and picking out the right clothes. I also became a little obsessed with working out - I would go running or exercise for at least an hour everyday, on top of multiple dance classes a week. The clothes I would pick out were picked out to accentuate my figure, and although I wasn't overly provocative in my clothing, I do admit I was looking for clothes that would be considered "sexy" to the opposite sex and show off how fit and toned I was.

It's hard to pin point exactly why that "hair straightening" phase started, although I'm sure a lot of it probably had to do with the fact that I had started to grow into my features more, and was for the first time in my life getting attention from guys. People other than family members and friends started referring to me as "pretty" or "cute" and even "beautiful" and as a young woman that can definitely affect you. It made me feel good, and made me feel valued. Why would someone calling me "pretty" make me feel more valued than someone calling me "smart"? Probably because then (as well as now), physical beauty seems to unfortunately hold more weight on the scale than many other attributes when it comes to weighing someones "value". Everywhere we look we are being bombarded by physical beauty. Even those companies that are trying to be more realistic in their advertising campaigns by using models who are of average weight and proportions, are still tending to use "models" who have what we would still consider "beautiful" facial features.

The hair straightening years lasted for awhile. It wasn't until I met the man who would become my husband, and started to see myself through his eyes, that I started to settle into a more permanent place of self-worth. When I truly started to realize that he loved the "real" no make-up, t-shirts and jeans me - just as much as the straight hair, made-up, tight skirt and top me - I really started to return to that place I lived in from 11-18. A place where looks aren't equal to worth -where your outward self is not indicative to your inner qualities - which are the qualities that hold the most weight. This was also happening at a time where I started to come back to my faith, and I not only started to see myself through my husband's eyes but through the eyes of God, as a child of God. That message of inner beauty and the strength of that continued to triumph over the message of society I had been succumbing to for so long.

I'm not saying I'm now so wise that I never care about how I look, or go through phases where I think I'm "fat" or "ugly". I'm human, and thus I am flawed. It's hard to not let the media's image of beauty impede on what I know is the true image. It's hard to watch TV, or a movie, or flip through a magazine and not start to think "man I really need to lose some more weight", or "I really need to buy some anti-wrinkle cream - those laugh lines are getting a little more noticeable!". It's hard. It's really hard. But when you are surrounded by people who not only see what's truly important, it makes it so much easier to push past that, take a breath, and remember what's really important. Outward, physical beauty is fleeting. It may get you attention, it may make you feel valued or important for awhile, but it doesn't last. Although we can admire physical beauty in a person - it isn't often those fleeting qualities that people remember about you. People remember kindness. They remember warmth. They remember how you made them feel about themselves. They may remember that you looked nice, they may remember that you had nice hair or beautiful eyes - but they'll probably remember more the warmth and spirit that shone out of your eyes, rather than what colour they were. They'll probably remember more that laughter often came out of your mouth, instead of whether or not your teeth were straight and shining white.

I should state somewhere in this post that I'm not saying we shouldn't pay any attention at all to our physical selves. I recognize that my body is a gift from God and should treat it accordingly. We should eat healthy, we should exercise, and if we want to wear a nice outfit and put on some make-up and do our hair - that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's not unhealthy to want to be healthy. It's not a bad thing if we want to get dressed up and look nice. It's when that starts to be an indicator of who we are and what we're worth that we need to worry about. If you feel better about yourself on the days you're all dolled up than you do on the no make-up, sweatpants kinda' days - well then you should maybe start to examine why you really feel that way. That's when you need to realize and remember that it is our inner qualities and spirit that is more important than our outward appearance. The Bible talks in several places about beauty, and I would definitely encourage you to search out those passages and do some study on what is in the Word itself about beauty. Remember that you (yes YOU) were created in the image of God. Do you get that? Do you understand that? Do you understand that you weren't a mistake? That not only whatever you look like on the outside is a masterpiece, but that God sees your heart and that's what is truly important?

As I walked down the path and had all this on my heart, Franklin and I reached one of the entrances to the forest. I was drawn closer to the trees, and we stood for several minutes taking in the scene. It was beautiful. Nature in it's finest. Not physically mind you. From all the rain and melted snow, there's now a massive swamp on the fringes of the forest, and it's not the most inviting for a walk. The trees still haven't yet really started to bloom, and it's muddy and brown and messy. What was most beautiful was the sound. It sounded like a mixture of frogs & crickets, singing out in what literally sounded like a symphony of nature. I know that sounds corny, but it's true.

It was as if God was driving the message home to me. "Do you hear that? I know what you see you don't think is "beautiful", but do you hear that? Do you hear that it is beautiful? Do you feel it's beauty? Now truly open your eyes and see that it IS beautiful. It is MY creation, and it is beauty. And you are beautiful as you are also my creation."

Remember that next time you look at yourself in the mirror and see only what you think are your flaws. Remember that the next time your inner dialogue is full of self-directed criticisms'. Try and see yourself for what you truly are. You are a CHILD OF GOD.

Marvellous. Perfect. Beautiful.


On being creative . . .

>> Tuesday, February 19, 2013

I'm a creative person. Always have been - probably always will be. I'm also an "ideas" person, and not always a "follow-through" kinda' person. Need an idea for a movie, song, or book? I'm your girl. Need a jingle, a name for your store, or thoughts on how to revamp your business to draw in more potential customers? I could probably give you several.
But are those giftings any good if I can't see it through 'till the end? I've been thinking about this recently after I read an article about a writer who was in the same boat. He would come up with a bunch of great ideas for his next book, but then after working on it for a short while he would get distracted by other ideas he was coming up with that were "bigger and better" than the last. Needless to say, that writer still has yet to publish a book.

Is this something that most creative people struggle with? Does inspiration strike too frequently that we can't actually buckle down and get the work done? I sometimes find myself complaining "oh if I only had more time off I could focus more on my song-writing", or "if I could only get away for awhile I'd be able to get a bunch of my screenplay done". But of course, that's not the real issue is it? The issue is committing yourself to something and getting it done no matter what - even if you're tired or even if you have a million other things going on. I'm not being too hard on myself though - I do realize that everyone needs time off, and everyone needs to get away for awhile to recharge their batteries, and for those of us creative types to reharness our energies. But what I aspire to be is someone who brings the same focus and energy to their passions no matter where they are, and no matter what else they have going on in their lives. The great thinkers, innovators and creators of our time don't say "oh I have too much going on right now - I'll get back to that other stuff next week" - they make time for it.

So that's my current challenge to myself - to stay committed and energized to do the things I love to do, and to be my creative self - even when work is crazy, and there's a house to clean, and laundry to do, and people to see and places to go.

God doesn't bestow gifts among people for nothing, so if you're good at something, and if it's something that you feel, that you know is your "calling" in life - take that seriously. Don't brush it off as a "hobby" or something to do only when you "have time". Life is too short for such nonsense.


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