Tuesday, May 23, 2017

What's Buried Inside You?

I graduated with a design degree a few (*ahem*) years ago from UNT.  I used it for about 6 years and then never thought much about it again.  I wasn't the best in my class.  I mean--how did people remember which leg style was Queen Anne and which was Chippendale?

So, I moved on to sales and corporate training and then stay at home mama.  The best was when I was a kids pastor and people asked me what seminary I went to--the shock on their faces when I said I didn't and explained my degree was priceless. 

Fast forward to 2013 and the 1st season of Fixer Upper.  Watching Chip and Jo was bittersweet for me because, when Brian and I were dating, our dream was to do exactly what they were doing.  We wanted to flip houses--Brian handling all the building/structural parts and me designing the spaces. It started stirring something up inside me again that I didn't even know was there, but I kinda just ignored it most days--I had a job I loved that provided insurance for my family and paid the bills.

In 2015, Brian and I took a post anniversary trip and started dreaming again.  Road trips do that for us.  While we were in the beautiful Missouri outdoors (in a hotel room with no internet or tv), we started talking about "What if..." again. 

I won't bore you with the details, but there were several things that happened in the space of those short few days that caused us to know the time was right for Brian to leave his retail mgmt. job and start his company back up again.  I would stay on at my job until the end of the year and then I'd join him full time in the adventure of BR Construction.

Needless to say, we got comfortable again and it took another full year before we made the leap for me to quit my job.  And I was only going to manage the office for Brian because I was going to pursue some other things. 

Some of those things worked out (I have a part time job for a little non-profit that I LOVE, I was able to consult with NBCF and create a volunteer mgmt. process for them, I traveled a little as a meeting planner), and some didn't (I have gotten no further in writing my book). 

The last month has opened up a new aspect to working with Brian.  First of all, it's WITH and not FOR (which is how it started out).  Secondly, he's making me use my design experience again. 

At first, I was so very nervous.  It's been years since I stayed on top of the latest color trends and knew what was the next hot thing in design.  So I started looking on the internet and buying magazines and talking to realtor friends.

And you know what?  I found that the designer in me is still there!  I buried her under insecurity years ago, but as I talk color and shower tile and cedar vs brick with our clients, I've found that it's as exhilarating as that first time you hop on a bike and ride downhill with the wind. 

So, I wonder, what's buried inside YOU?  What have you pushed aside because it won't pay the bills or just seems impossible to pursue?  You may have to wade deep through your insecurities to find it like me or you may know exactly what it is.  But, no matter what, it's worth naming and claiming.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We're just a Little Cracked

One of my favorite things about getting married was registering for new stuff.  Shallow, I know, but I LOVED looking at dishes and fajita pans and mixers and, and, and...I could go on forever.

It was fun to start over with new stuff. Kinda symbolic, don't ya think?

Then you start using the dishes everyday.  And after a few years, they get cracked or even worse, broken and you have to throw them away,

These bowls in my cabinet remind me of my marriage.  They are used often and show the wear.  If they don't have a chip around the rim, they have hairline cracks in the bottom of them--not enough to get rid of them, but definitely making them more fragile and definitely not looking new anymore.

Our marriage started out like a cabinet full of new and shiny dishes.

And then the every day happened.  Work and kids and finances and unkind words said in bad moods all created cracks.  There have been things we've had to throw away. In some cases, we've replaced them with a better model, in others, we realized we never needed them in the first place.

A few weeks ago, Brian and I had an honest conversation about our marriage.  "Is it better now after going through the hard stuff?"

What a loaded (and scary) question!  I wanted our answer to be YES! surrounded by heart-eyed emojis and general sappy-ness.  Brian said it best when he said "It's more real."

In the beginning, our dishes were seldom used (after all, when it was just the 2 of us, we ate out a lot and it took a while to rotate through 12 bowls), so of course they looked pretty and shiny. And that mixer was wiped clean after every use.

As life happened, we didn't pay as much attention when we took the bowls out of the dishwasher and accidentally hit them on the side of the countertop.  And the poor mixer started getting flour caked on it because there wasn't time to wipe it down before the girls woke up from their nap--it was a miracle that the cake got in the oven!

Real isn't always pretty.  And it's usually surrounded by the monkey covering his mouth emoji instead of the heart-eyed smiley face one.  Sometimes it's no emoji at all.

But real is GOOD.  In fact, it's real good.

It's truth and love and laughter mixed in with the hurt and the frustration and the hard.  It's eating on those cracked dishes and being thankful they've survived. It's not thinking twice about throwing away the broken and making do with what's left.   It's still loving the pattern and knowing you would pick the same one again if you had it to do all over again.

No cracks means the dishes haven't been used.  Or that they've been handled very carefully and never had anyone banging their fork on them or scraping the bottom of the bowl with their spoon. It's the china in the cabinet that seldom gets taken out--it's pretty to look at, but you can't always enjoy eating on it because you're trying to be so careful.  It's hand-washing slowly instead of rinsing and laughing as you casually put it in the dishwasher.

Cracked dishes tell a story.  Not always the easy story, but the GOOD and REAL one.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

2017 Things to be Grateful for

I had this great idea to create a list of things I'm grateful for.  But it couldn't just be a list, it had to be a significant list--I would come up with 2017 things I was grateful for in 2017.  When I did the math, it came out to just finding 5 1/2 things every day.

That's not hard to do, is it?

Well, it's May 2nd and I've made it to 354.  To reach my goal, I should be at 671.  So, basically, I'm a little over halfway where I should be.  Or I'm halfway behind.  Whichever way you choose to see it.

I might catch up.

Then again, I might not.

But even if I stop today, I'll have 354 things I can look back on that I've been grateful for.  And yes, there may be several different types of food in that list, but there are also people.  So many people in my life to be thankful for.

What I'm finding is that gratitude breeds hope.  Some days that hope is brighter than others, but even on the darker days--especially on the darker days--hope can still be seen.

And it's good.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sundays are my Favorites

I'm sitting here in my bed, with a book and pen in hand, praise music blasting through the house, hubby making breakfast in the kitchen.  I was thinking what a great morning it is, and then realized that this is how I feel every Sunday.  It's truly my fave!

I don't set my alarm on Saturday nights.  I wake up when the sun comes streaming through my windows or Willow starts scratching on her kennel to be let out--whichever comes first.  After letting her and the big dogs outside, I begin the feeding ritual for the menagerie we have here at the Royal house.  Truth be told, sometimes I give the chickens a bit of extra on Saturday evening so I don't have to feed them as early on Sundays. Shhhh!  Bwahahaha!

When something is good, I find myself analyzing it.  Is it because I don't have to race off to work?  Because I don't have to deal with cranky teenagers and getting them to school when they would rather be sleeping? Because we are slackers and attend the latest service possible at church?  Yes.  And yes.  And yes some more.

Maybe it's the anticipation of knowing I can take a nap if I want it.  

Maybe it's because it truly is a day of rest for me.  

Maybe because I usually plan our dinner meal on Saturday and am not scrambling to find time to not only figure out what we are going to eat, but to actually cook it.

Really, who cares?  And does it even have to be Sunday--could it be Friday or Wednesday or Monday (okay--probably NOT Monday)?

I think it all boils down to being unhurried.  Enjoying and savoring every moment of it.  Being cognizant of the details and feeling gratitude for them--for however long they last.  Even if only this morning.  

I realize I NEED Sunday mornings.  I need the slow, unintentional time to just think and dream and read and maybe even create.  

Do you have a "Sunday Morning Day?"  Maybe yours is not morning, but evening--after everyone is in bed and the house is still and quiet.

What do you do with your "Sunday Morning Day?"

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Am I really a Consultant?

Last week I finished my very first big consulting gig.  I created a volunteer training management process for the National Breast Cancer Foundation. I still get kinda giddy when I say that--it's pretty awesome, huh?!?!

If you would have told me a year ago that someone would hire me to write down and teach them what I know, I would have laughed at you.  I mean, seriously, how many people get this opportunity?

It all started with a conversation with a friend.

Actually, it started before that conversation.  It was when I told God I would walk through any door He put in front of me and I would reach out to every person he put on my heart/mind.

I haven't kept track of how many people I actually met with over the last year, but it's been a LOT.  And there are still many more that I reached out to and either never heard back, or it just hasn't worked yet to get together.  And I won't even tell you how many doors I've walked through that didn't lead anywhere.

But back to that conversation...It was an early one--I think I met him at 6am (which meant I left my house at 5:15).  And it lasted for 3+ hours.  I just spilled what was on my mind and he took notes.  He had covered a couple of pages on his legal pad by the time we were done.

And here's what I learned in that conversation: What's ordinary for me could be extraordinary for someone else--and vice versa.  We have so much more inside us than we know.  SO much more that we don't even realize is buried under all the regular day-to-day stuff.  If I personalize that--I have so much more that I would have ever dreamed inside of me and there are people out there who are dying to have that info that just comes second-nature to me.  In fact, when I was meeting with the team I was creating the project for, I lost count of the number of times they would ask me questions and I would answer and then they would ask me to put that in the project--stuff I didn't even think to add because it was just "ordinary" for me.

And here's what I also know.  I met with that friend on the suggestion of another friend...because of a comment I made about wanting to write a book...which we barely even touched on in that conversation that led to this consulting gig.

In this season of life, I am learning that things don't always look like I thought they would.  In fact, they almost never look like the vision I have in my head.

My choice is to keep trying to make them fit inside the box in my head OR let go and just follow them in the form they appear in.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Meeting Mister B Herd

Have you ever been to Salado, Texas?  This past weekend, we stopped in on our way home from Austin.  As we were driving through, we were trying to remember the last time we visited and it was before our girls were born, y'all!  Way too long.  It has grown quite a bit and we showed up in town with only a little over an hour before all the shops closed so we didn't get to see much.

But that's okay.  We visited the one shop that mattered.

The B. Herd Gallery.

When we walked in, I was immediately drawn to the beautiful bluebonnet paintings hanging on the wall and sitting on the shelves.  The vivid flowers seemed to jump out and grab me!  I was engrossed so deeply in my ooh-ing and ahh-ing, that I almost jumped when I saw a movement in the corner and a voice asked us how we were doing.

I told him we were fine and continued looking at all the gorgeous-ness surrounding me.  Then, one of my girls grabbed my arm and told me that the man that spoke to us was painting a canvas.  I turned and had to get a look for myself.  Sure enough!  Mister B. Herd was smiling at us with a paintbrush in one hand and paper plate (being used as a palette) in the other--sititng in front of a canvas that was 3/4 of the way done.

I think I was still just a little dazed as I stepped closer to see what he was working on.  I mean, how many times do you walk into a gallery in a little town and see the very talented artist at work?  I went to school at UNT where there were tons of artists, but this is a different level than a starving artist sale.

He explained that he was working on a commission. A client had looked on his website and liked different elements from 2 different paintings so he was combining them into one.  And y'all!  It was gorgeous!!!

As we started chatting with him, he told us he had been painting for 50 years and loved doing it while he talked to guests in his shop--he wouldn't have it any other way.  He gets up every morning, looking forward to coming to work.

I took away a couple of things from that conversation:

  1. To love what you do that you keep coming to work at the age of 83 is just plain awe-inspiring.
  2. He was close to my age when he stopped working his retail job and started following his passion.
  3. Whether it was intentional or just a by-product of his people-personality, his presence adds so much to his paintings.  I went from liking them to feeling like I NEEDED one of his paintings hanging in my home,

We went into a couple of other galleries that day, but they just didn't compare--even the ones who had the famous painters that Brian and I have always loved.  Those just looked dim in comparison to Mr. B. Herd's beauties.

The next time you are driving to Austin, stop in and visit.  Let me know if you do--I'd love to hear if you are as captured as I was.

And if you've already been there, did you leave there inspired?

The B. Herd Gallery is located at 600 N. Main St. Suite 12 in Salado.  If you can't make it down there any time soon, you can visit him online at www.bherdgallery.com.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

Depression is Real...And H.A.R.D.

Depression is real, but not something I talk about except to those who are close to me.  It's not like heart disease or cancer where, when people know you have it, they have sympathy.  Depression elicits fear in people.

Fear that being around me will bring them down too.

Fear that they will say the wrong thing.

Fear because they simply don't understand it.

I've struggled with depression most of my life, but didn't realize it.  Looking back, I can't believe I missed the signs, but, I didn't even know what they were.  Even if I had known what to look for, I still might not have seen it because depression doesn't always follow a rulebook.

In fact, it never follows that damn rulebook.  That might make it easier to deal with.

Sometimes depression has looked like not being able to get out of bed.  Sometimes, it's felt like there's a cloud following me.  Other times, it's just been a feeling of tired-ness that blankets everything.

Yes, there are medications for it.  And yes, counseling can definitely help.  But true depression doesn't always go away, even with those things.

Depression for me isn't usually completely black--I can see a light at the end of the tunnel, but most of the time, the light is so far away and trying to figure out how to get there seems so very exhausting at the least, and impossible at the worst.

One of the hardest things about depression is knowing the struggles my friends have--loss of a baby, kids with major illnesses, divorce, parents with alzheimer's, etc.--and feeling like my pain is so inconsequential compared to theirs.  It creates feelings of guilt and shame and makes me feel helpless because I want so badly to do or say something that will help them, and I know it will take my mind off of my own crap, but I can't even handle getting dressed that day.  Which then leads to feelings of hopelessness.

Recently, I watched Beauty and the Beast and was thankful I was at the end of the row, because I found myself sobbing during a song in one of the scenes.  Here are the words:

Days in the Sun

Days in the sun
When my life has barely begun
Not until my whole life is done
Will I ever leave you.

Will I tremble again
to my dear ones gorgeous refrain?
Will you now forever remain
Out of reach of my arms?

All those days in the sun
What I'd give to relive just one
Undo what done
And bring back the light.

Oh, I could sing 
Of the pain these dark days bring
The spell we're under
Still it's the wonder of us 
I sing of tonight.

How in the midst of all this sorrow
Can so much hope and love endure?
I was innocent and certain
Now I'm wiser but unsure.

I can't go back into my childhood
One that my father made secure
I can feel a change in me
I'm stronger now but still not free.

Days in the sun will return,
We must believe
As lovers do
That days in the sun will come shining through.

I know this song isn't about depression, but it fits.  Some days, it's almost easy to believe the sun will shine through again, and that's the hope that pulls me through during the darker times.  When I shared this with a friend, he asked me to break down the parts of the song that spoke to me and explain why.

I love this line:
Oh, I could sing Of the pain these dark days bring...Still it's the wonder of us I sing of tonight.

I find myself so often stuck in the pain, but I don't want to.  When you sing of the good, it makes the pain more manageable--that's what the character in the movie learned.

How in the midst of all this sorrow, can so much hope and love endure?

Depression brings out the yuck.  It makes me want to turn my back on God.  Yep, I said it.  It makes me think that He has forgotten me--that He has bigger fish to fry--more important people to care for. I tell myself to walk away and move on in life without God.

But I can't.  As dark as it gets, I KNOW He's there. My head tells me I'm just a glutton for punishment, but in the depths of my soul, I feel like He is rooting for me.  Even though I can't feel it. Or see it.  Does that sound as crazy as I feel it does?

I'm stronger now but still not free.

Ugh.  No matter how many times I think I've figured it out and won't struggle with it again, it comes back.  This doesn't just apply to depression.  This is most things in life.  The only word picture I can think of is a butterfly that has it's wings, but is still trapped in the cocoon--there's room to flap them, but not go anywhere. It knows what to do, but can't.

Days in the sun will return, We must believe...That days in the sun will come shining through.

I MUST believe.  The only other option is despair.

Like the characters in this fairy tale, I WILL remember my days in the sun (or maybe it's days with the sOn) and push through.

And I will give myself grace when pushing through looks like laying in bed listening to music or watching a mindless tv show for a while.

And I will celebrate when it looks like having a drink with a friend or sitting in the backyard engaging with my daughters.