Spirituality , The Best Life
  • at December 14, 2021

There’s a left-handed toilet in my new office. Never used one? This is what I experience; I’m sitting there—you know, on the toilet, reaching back to flush. My hand reaches back to the right and swipes air because the flushing handle isn’t there, it’s on the left side. But I forget this every time I use it…day after day after day. Surely even left-handed people would be thrown by this, right? (Note the correct, right-handed toilet in the photo☺)

Our lefty toilet is one of a handful of things that we didn’t notice during the build-out of our new office space and never considered asking for. “So, in the bathrooms, we would like to make sure that we have right-handed toilets please.” Yeah, no. We never had that conversation. So…we get what they had left in the warehouse, I suppose. Something I never knew existed and must have saved the owner a few bucks.

I’m grateful that it actually amuses me. It’s like living with a big, porcelain, white elephant gift, only all year long! It could needle at me…remind me of other little annoyances at the office; like the unused, reserved parking spots for the weight loss center (ironic, no?) or the water dispenser that fills my water bottles as if it is squeezing out molasses, eating up precious minutes between my sessions. On a bad day, my blood can boil. But, I’ve tried to consider these things invitations from Jesus to a lighter attitude. As I walk to my car, I’m trying to be intentionally grateful for the things that make my life easy. And when I wait for my water bottle to fill, I pray for my next session. And when I reach for the toilet handle on the wrong side, I remember not to take myself so seriously and I laugh.

What are you tempted to be angry about that could shift to amusement and light-heartedness? The nationwide shortage of workers in stores and restaurants will mean we will all have opportunities to either rage or chuckle as we wait longer for services. The bogged down supply chain will mean that we wrap printed out images of gifts not-yet-arrived and put them under the tree. The Omicron variant may mean that we have to mask for longer, travel safer, and be extremely kind to our beloved medical workers for longer. We may be tempted to let these things eat us up, but perhaps a shift in perspective could help. Can our inconveniences draw us to a contemplation of our shared humanity? Can we wait for each other, encourage and support each other…maybe offer a little humor?

While writing this, I’ve realized that for a man who stands in front of the toilet in my office, the handle is on the right side when he goes to flush. So, from a masculine perspective, my left-handed toilet is actually a right-handed toilet. **Mind blown** Perhaps many of the small and not-so-small irritants in our lives have a whole different meaning to someone else.

For now, I say, let’s lighten up on the small stuff. It’s way too intense out there.

  • at September 23, 2021

I love this phrase and I love this book. Victoria LaBalme has written a book that helps the reader create space for their own discovery of purpose and unique direction. It is a visual wonder; each section engages the right and left brain to help the reader sit in spaces of confusion, tension, discernment, and yes, risk!  The design of each page stirs and invites the reader into out-of-the-box thinking and bolder consideration that mere words would do alone.

Risk Forward has become a contemplative tool for me. The book does not have to be read/experienced in order, so, on a day I’m using the book, I’ll refer to the “circle of contents” and choose a section that pulls at me. Then I go to it and engage it slowly, trying to notice what is coming up for me. That’s the power of this book. During this season of trying to refine my own direction with writing and other projects, Risk Forward has been a welcome companion and guide, helping me risk forward in more way than one.

Most recently, I took a bold, risky step forward by starting a group for four exceptionally talented women. Every element of doing this felt like a risk forward; committing the time, praying for what to do with the group, inviting each person, and even deciding what to make for lunch during our first meeting! But…using Risk Forward helped me realize that developing leaders was essential for me and currently missing in my life. The messages in the book helped me challenge the personal blocks that crept up as I considered putting myself out there as a leader.

My question to you is, is there a risk out there that you’ve been afraid to take? Or a step that you’ve talked yourself out of? Or a dream that you’ve avoided developing? The back of the book says, “some people in life know exactly what they want to achieve. Risk Forward is for the rest of us.”  I hope you’ll benefit from it as much as I have.

  • at May 17, 2021

Raising a special needs child (now young adult) is not for the faint of heart. Those in this tribe with me know the worries about the future, the constant questioning of the current game plan, and the grinding heartache of seeing our other children coast through the world with such ease while our special dear one struggles and almost every turn. Now I’m the lady on the Northeast Regional train from New Haven to Baltimore weeping as all the tension drains out of me. I feel like a puddle of goo. I’ve just spent nine days with my daughter, solidifying her driving skills so that she can get to her job independently. I drove a little hybrid car to leave with her (too small??) and now I’m coming home (too soon??) after covering as many car lessons as I could think of (enough??).

Here’s the insurance and registration

Here’s how to get gas…no, never diesel

Yeah, double parking is technically against the rules…people break that one

Yep, I hate it when you suddenly find yourself in a turn only lane too

Here’s where we’re hiding a key in a magnet box under the car

Here’s how a squidgy works

Here’s how the rear window wiper works

Let’s practice setting up navigation once more

These tags are temporary and here’s how you get the new ones on when they come…never mind, get help on that

Oh no, we didn’t go over how to adjust the mirrors! #*&@!!

Brenna has been living in an independence development community in New Haven for three years and man, was that a game plan I questioned at various points! The place had no system for screen limits and I insisted Brenna have some, leaving our relationship battered. She deeply believed I created the depression she experienced mid-way through her second year. And…maybe I did. That’s all part of it. Constantly questioning the game plan.

But today…today I feel imminently grateful for her program! She is in a job that absolutely suits her, assembling and packaging defibrillators, now part time, but they want her to transition to full time! They love her. THEY LOVE HER!  Brenna and I went over who would take which bills and she can actually pay some! Crazy.

And still…I’m tyrannized by wondering if I’ve done enough, if the plan is airtight enough, if she’s ready enough. Several times in the last couple of days of my visit she said, “I?m going to miss you!” This is after three years of “I won’t miss you. And you ruined our relationship anyway.” and me wondering if maybe I did. Oh, hearing this change…I thought my chest might crack open from the swell inside of blended emotions; love, relief, regret, hope. I can scarcely believe we are here. And…we may not stay here, there have been more twists in the road than I can count. But as for the driving, my greatest assurance came when Brenna said, “the voice in my head that might be God is telling me it’s going to be ok.” To that I said, “sounds like God to me”. Then she wiped her tears away, gave me a rib-cracking hug for which she is famous, and she drove off without me.

  • at April 5, 2021

Saturday night’s game between Gonzaga and UCLA may go down in history as one of the best basketball games of all time. Well-matched teams, both playing excellently and a magical shot in the final second of overtime by Jalen Suggs, a freshman.

            There is a camera angle where you get to watch Jalen’s face as he prepares for, executes, and then reacts to his shot.  He is full focus, eyes on all that matters, the basket. He seems oblivious to all the movement around him and I’m guessing that all the many years of practicing such shots comes together in this concentrated moment. A perfect jump, perfect release as the buzzer sounds, a perfect bounce off the backboard and in. He was in a state of flow, in the zone, everything coming together at the right time.

            It inspires me to see human excellence like that. The talents of a person honing in when it matters. To hear the commentary, you hear the respect the experts have for both teams, how much of the outcome was tied up in who won the final possession. But Suggs was able to capitalize on it and take our breath away.

            Joyous excellence. I can only hope for moments like that to touch all of us as we take a risk, make a crazy shot and see that all of our hard work, learning, and giftedness come together to make something happen. What can we learn from Jalen Suggs to help our moments of excellence come to life?

  1. You have to be willing to miss. Jalen took a shot that easily could have missed the basket. It was shot from very far back and no one would have faulted him if the shot had landed a hair in either direction and bounced off the rim. But he tried it, knowing it could go either way. He put his everything into the attempt.
  2. Excellence comes from practice. Jalen and all of his teammates practice every conceivable scenario for the endings of games. It reminds me of the best moment of a therapy training program I’m in where we role play our most difficult clients and consider the most effective way to interface with them.
  3. Find your talent. Jalen Suggs is doing something he is really, really good at. He’s found a talent in himself and developed it. Don’t stop growing and nurturing and developing your own talent! We can all have moments, for most of us it won’t be about basketball though. It will be about OUR thing. The thing God put in each of us that we do especially well.

 

We have always loved the Zags in this house. My father-in-law and nephew both went there and my husband, from Spokane, always had affection for his local team. We’ll see if Gonzaga’s perfect season ends perfectly with the NCAA Championship. If it’s up to Jalen Suggs it certainly will be.

  • at March 2, 2017

We all know the benefits of laughter, but I discovered a new one last week. I was sitting with my husband, two old, dear friends and one new friend chatting about the Enneagram. A particularly wry and hilarious comment was made and I threw my head back and laughed—something I realize now that I do a great deal–and I saw something that took my breath away…….the stunning tree in the picture here. We were sitting at an outdoor table nestled between two buildings and I hadn’t looked up before we sat down.

In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet says, “what a shame, for I dearly love to laugh”. In special moments like this one, I remember how dearly I do love to laugh. In times of personal and societal heaviness, laughter can come in short supply. Especially the type that causes one to throw one’s head back!

What new things do you see when you really laugh hard….both figuratively and literally? I saw a huge, beautiful tree. But, when I laugh in the company of friends, I also see how utterly unique and enjoyable each person can be! I feel lightness and release in my body. And I feel the joyousness of God.