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Sometimes emotions catch you by surprise and try to cut off your oxygen supply.  Sort of like a deep sea diver getting a kink in her air hose.  

Yesterday I learned that my Auntie Ruth passed away.  In this picture, she and my dad were about 15 and 16, I believe. Vacationing on Long Island, New York,  I’m pretty sure. Ruth was the youngest and last of the 3 siblings to go.  I hadn’t seen her in many years, and we were never close, but always friendly.  Recently, we reconnected through Facebook and I caught her up on all the Fifield shenanigans, which I know made her very happy. I promised to visit, to find time to make the 6 hour drive to Spokane. I am sorry to say that never happened.

I don’t know her story very well, but one of my childhood memories of her was a time we visited her and her family.  She was married to a biker and there were a number of cousins who I didn’t know very well.  Ruth and Rod had let one of their kids drive off down the street on a motorcycle that was clearly too big for them. My 5 or 6 year old self probably remembers it differently than it actually happened, but in my mind, this was the coolest and yet most terrifying thing I had experienced up to this point in my short life. Our suburban life was pretty straightforward.  I had 2 brothers, a mom who stayed home and a dad who consistently held a job. Ruth’s husband–my uncle—was a biker?  What other sorts of strange things might I learn on this visit?  What I do know is that the child who was sent off down the road did come back alive, and that was such a relief.

From my not-too-close perspective, my Auntie Ruth struggled in many ways. The last time she emailed, she was looking for work after being let go from her radiology job at a nearby hospital. She was 81. I guessed right that financial trouble kept her working long after she was really able. She lost a daughter several years ago. She lived alone in a tiny apartment. But she still recalled memories of her parents, loved to brag about her grandkids and even great grandkids, and volunteered once a week at the Shriner’s Hospital. 

Grief is weird, but important to embrace, instead of circumventing. When you lose someone, there is always this time of introspection, where we think about things like, “Did I do right by them?” “Was I kind?”  “Was there anything left unsaid?” And then we process through our own lives to examine things we might change, choose to be more purposeful, offer apologies, etc. We think of others who have passed on and how we miss them terribly. We wonder how people will remember us when we go. We hold a little more tightly to ones we love.

So I’ll have to let this grief stay for awhile. If I try to avoid it, it lingers, wanting to step in and take over, walking parallel to us and letting its presence be known anyways. I’ll nod to the regrets, and endeavor to lay to rest what cannot be remedied now. I’ll be thankful for the good things in my life and spend my energy loving those around me the best way I know how. And when I promise to visit, I will find a way to make it happen. 

Good Words

                                                          
This morning I was pondering about how many people have written words which challenge, encourage and heal. From literature to the Bible to motivational encouragers, there is much floating around for us to grab and consider. It’s important, no matter your background or upbringing, to consider universal truths that make sense in terms of the greater good. So with that in mind—–

  
“God brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”–Galatians 5

I love how this points to the fact that we are meant to be active participants in our lives. That we can make a positive difference in our world if we choose.  And we are unique!  The world wouldn’t be the same without each of us. 

So go forth today, knowing your place in this world has meaning. And if yours does, then other people are meant to be here too, with their own uniqueness.  I think that makes today pretty great. 

We are Family

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I spent some time with many of my favorites earlier this week.  We talked about so many things, like we always do. Sad things that happen in our crazy mixed up world. Things that worry us. Things we can’t do anything about. But we also talked about how incredibly cute our son’s puppy is, where my husband and I are thinking we’d like to go on our road trip for our 25th wedding anniversary, and how grandma is better after her weekend in the hospital. 

   

When I went to bed, for some reason my heart felt heavy. “What kind of world is this for our kids to live in?” I thought out loud to my husband. “I know our parents must have felt this way when we were becoming adults, too.  How did they do it?”  Sometimes my heart physically hurts when I think about what my kids face. 

In my journey to a healthy self image, I realize again and again how many facets we humans have. This is one more area that comes under fire when I’m being introspective—my success as a parent. Was I a good parent when they were little?  Did I talk to them about every possible thing they need to know?  Did I give them the best tools they could have to become the best humans they are capable of being?  

                                             
This morning I took a drive into the city to pick up something from our oldest son. I got lucky and he had a little bit of time, so we walked to the donut shop in wonderful warm February sunshine.We talked about how sometimes I’m sad the world is so scary and hard to deal with. About how as parents we spend a good number of years teaching our kids and trying to keep them safe. We agreed that the best thing to do is to be the best people we know how to be and to make a difference in the little corner of the world we are given. 

And then he said (and I paraphrase) what I needed to hear. “I think that parents end up spending too much time in fear, trying to do everything they can to keep their kids safe. I’m just now figuring out who I want to be and what I want my life to look like. I’m the only one who can do that. Parents can’t do this for their kids. They need to trust that it will all work out.” Possibly easier said by one who hasn’t been a parent yet, but I believe he’s right. 

My kids seem to agree that we’ve done a lot right as parents.  Like my husband and I have done, I know they will choose to live their lives in their own unique ways, using some of what we taught them along the way and forging their own paths in other areas. I’ve always said that we own our own successes and learn from failures if we live them ourselves instead of letting others tell us the path to walk. 

So I leave you on my favorite day of the week with this thought: (Thank you to my hero, Bob Goff).
  

Self Image

I came upon a note I wrote to some dear friends about my path to a healthy self image and found that there is yet another layer in this process.  I’ll share that note another time, but the more recent discovery is here:

My oldest daughter Ana has been an amazing voice of encouragement to me in viewing my self worth in a healthy way. She had a season of eating Paleo, and was very slim for that season. She discovered along the way that their budget couldn’t sustain that lifestyle, she was obsessed with her size, and was missing out on opportunities because of it. During that time, though, she learned to love to cook and explore menus that she and her husband can enjoy together. We both marvel at this, because as a teen she was not interested in cooking at all and would go to great lengths to avoid doing so. Since then she has found that if she keeps her view of food in balance, she stays basically the same weight. She learned that she takes better care of herself better by not obsessing to stay a size 1.

During the last 9 months, injury, grief, and trying to connect the value of exercise have all challenged me. She has been so diligent to challenge me to look at myself differently.


Then I read this:

“Looking beautiful is a matter of how you appear to others. Feeling beautiful means caring about yourself, enjoying your body, and celebrating your appearance and style even when there’s no one around.”

This is what I wrote in my journal and then read out loud to my husband Will the other night. A BIG part in breaking the hold of something that has had me stuck for years:

Looking beautiful and feeling beautiful are 2 very different things. I think maybe “beautiful” as a general term has meant that others think I am beautiful—I have pleased others with the clothes I wear or the shape of my body. So if I have an outfit on that has a perceived “good” style or is “cute”, then I’m beautiful. If I have lost weight or maintain lost weight or am in “good shape”, then I am deemed beautiful. Or I might say, I feel I’ve been given a stamp of approval, therefore I can and should feel good about myself. But if I reach a certain size, and don’t look like the image of what I’ve believed is beautiful, then my view of myself shrinks into the shadows. I stop caring about how I look because I’ll never achieve this goal of (fill in the blank). Ok, maybe that’s not totally true, but I deny myself things like new clothes because I’d better put it off until it’s “worth” buying new clothes. …..until I’m worth it……

That whole thing has been so out of proportion that it takes up way too much of my thought time. I don’t eat because I feel guilty that I’m not trying hard enough. I stop and start exercising because I’m too impatient to wait for the progress to show. I need to be present, for today, to practice caring for myself—not because I need to be a certain weight. Old videos play in my mind (actual memories of things I was told) of being told I’m not slim enough in size 3 pants, or not working out hard enough, or not having the body of a supermodel. So then I’m embarrassed and don’t want to be seen because I’m not perfect.


Then I read this:

“I am renewing your mind. When your thoughts flow freely, they tend to move toward problems. Your focus get snagged on a given problem, circling round and round it in attempts to gain mastery. Your energy is drained away from other matters through this negative focus. Worst of all, you lose sight of Me.

A renewed mind is Presence-focused. Train your mind to seek Me in every moment, every situation. Sometimes you can find me in your surroundings: a lilting birdsong, a loved one’s smile, golden sunlight. At other times, you must draw inward to find Me. I am always present in your Spirit. Seek My face, speak to Me, and I will light up your mind.”-Jesus Calling
Recognizing the importance of being present, living in the now and not borrowing tomorrow’s troubles is my main focus now. All I have is today, all I have is now–that I know.


I was thinking about the part at the end of A Beautiful Mind, where John Nash (Russell Crowe) learns he can let his extra voices exist without letting them have a say. He recognizes they are a part of him that he can’t necessarily rid himself of entirely. But they walk parallel to him, at a distance, not able to manipulate him or have any input in his life. This is such a great illustration to me. There are events and words spoken which are a part of my life—I can’t change that. But if I am present with Jesus, holding His hand and walking with Him, they don’t get a say anymore.

Hope never fails.  I know it won’t fail for you.

Do you have voices who speak good things into your life?

Photo #1: Truth

Photo #2: The scale in the YMCA office where my daughter Pearl and I meet with our wellness coach has a little orange post it note above it that says “GRACE”. =) Instagram

Photo #3: The voices that John Nash learns to reckon with in A Beautiful Mind

Kindness

 

Going through the self checkout at my local grocery store this morning, I struck up a friendly conversation with the cashier who is usually on duty there.  
We talked about how she came to work at the self checkout because of a work related shoulder injury after 7 years as a checkstand cashier. About how she had also worked at the Customer Service desk, which back in the day was not very well staffed and could be very stressful.  
“People are in such a hurry these days!” She said regretfully, explaining how people’s expressions when they are waiting can be so disheartening.
I agreed, and said that if the worst thing that happened in my day was that I had to wait in a line, I was doing alright. “There are way bigger worries in the world than waiting, don’t you think?” I told her how I try to remember that when I feel impatient and I hope that if more people could be patient and kind, it would encourage others to do the same. 
This particular checker always says hello and is very friendly. She works hard and knows her job and her customers well.
“Oh I remember you,” she smiled. “I remember once you brought me a Starbucks card on a busy day. That was so great!” More smiles.  Funny, I remember that day too.
Now this was at least 5 years ago, at holiday time and she was super busy working that very self checkout line. People were impatient and grumpy, the registers were acting up and she looked exhausted. She looked like she needed a glass of wine, but I thought I wanted to cheer her up in some way that she might be able to enjoy on a break. So after I was done with my purchase, I walked over to the Starbucks kiosk and got her a gift card. Total impulse. I went back and waited for her. I stuck out my hand and gave her the card. “I just want you to know that you are special and so I thought I would give you this….Merry Christmas!” I wondered if she would think I was a weirdo, but then again does anyone refuse coffee? Not usually in the PNW, right? 
Her eyes got big, and she smiled real wide and thanked me for taking the time to do something so nice.  
I’m not telling this story to pat myself on the back, but to remind us all that just a little kindness goes a long way. Isn’t it cool that just by taking a minute and sometimes a couple of dollars, you could make someone’s day? What a privilege!

Have you seen this video?  I need to learn how to embed videos, but for now, click the link and take a look.  You won’t be disappointed. 

http://youtu.be/PT-HBl2TVtI
You don’t have to buy someone coffee to be kind.   There are opportunities all around you. =)

Have you ever done a random act of kindness?  Or been the receiver of one? 

Apparently next Wednesday,February 17th, is Random Acts of Kindness Day.  Give it a try! It just might be your best new habit. 

  

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Not really.  Well, sort of.

I tried to change my Instagram username and funny thing is that the ones I wanted were taken. Over and over again, I tried picking one that described me, not what I do. Even mrsfifield was taken.  There’s another one of me out there?  😉

I’ve been reminded recently that we describe ourselves in a variety of ways.  With nouns and verbs and adjectives we try to articulate who we are.

Wife, mother, homemaker, seamstress, maker, cook, chauffeur, –the list continues, we’ve heard these many times. But these words talk about what we DO, not who we ARE.

Introvert, extrovert, indecisive, opinionated, selfish, generous, beautiful, talented, funny, smart…..

As a parent of a graduating high school senior, the time has come again to champion the path for one more child.  “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Or “Are you going to college?”  These questions are inevitable from well-meaning folks, but tiresome.

Recently, my sweet friend Lisa J told me her response to similar questions.  “What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be brave and kind.”

Brave and Kind.

I like the sound of that.  One of the best thoughts ever.   Being brave, I thought, doesn’t come easy to me.  But courage comes in many forms, not just in a defend your house sort of brave. It takes courage to be kind sometimes.

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”
Nelson Mandela

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I may not know what is around the next bend, but I hope when I get there, I will choose courage and kindness.

What do you want to be known for?

Have you been encouraged to rethink about how you describe yourself?

Photo #1: Desperately Seeking Susan, 1985.  Yes, this is the image I think of when I think of this movie.  And yes, in 1985 I wanted to be like Madonna.  I did get over it.

Photo #2: My road, last summer. I do know what is around that particular bend, but that’s pretty much the only one.

I’ve not sewn for clients since fall of 2013, but there’s never a shortage of stories.  Stay tuned.  Thanks for checking in.

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Isn’t that a true statement?  There is beauty all around us, if we but take a minute to look for it.  

Emerson said, “Though we travel through the world to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”

Look through someone’s Facebook page, or their Pinterest, and you will see their perception of beauty.  Visit a friend’s home or a well tended shop and we see beauty on display.  Sometimes we seek a certain kind of beauty and it is elusive.  Sometimes we connect with beauty and can soak it in and feel as if we will never be without it.

The peace and joy we have when we recognize beauty in a given moment in time seems invaluable.  It’s what we look back on in times of trouble.

So today I look for the beauty around me, try to contribute to it in some way, and respect the beauty that others see even if I don’t connect with it.  

But I think the beauty we carry in ourselves, like Emerson said, seeks out beauty in the world around us.  Subconsciously, our very beings reach out for it and want to cling to it with all we have. 

Remind yourself that just by being you, you bring a unique beauty into this world.  Don’t forget that without you, the world would not be quite the same. 

Take a minute to see it, it is waiting for you.

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This month marks the 32nd year of business for me.  32!  I didn’t think I was much older than that……

My senior year in high school, I got to thinking….What should I be when I grow up?  I like to cook, I like to sew…..It might take some capital to start a catering business or a restaurant, but sewing?  I’ve got my machine, all I need is some business cards and I can get this party started.

Sure enough, one advertisement for 2 weeks in the local Pennysaver paper and I was off and running.  And then they told 2 friends, and they told 2 friends, and so on.  I sewed many bridesmaids dresses and clothing mostly for businesswomen  and a sweet kindergarten teacher.  She would always ask me if the fabric she picked would “look good with green paint on it” with a little wink.

Then one day, a friends’ sister called up and said she wanted me to cover her couch.  She was sure I could do it, and in fact had bought the fabric and would like to know when she could bring her couch over!  Thus began Phase 2 of my career as a seamstress.  (Or as we are often called now—a sewist).

I have been blessed beyond measure to work from home, providing some creative relief for myself and a bit for the family budget.  When my oldest was small, I was a single mom for her first 2 years. I had the fortune to be able to stay home with her and work while she was napping and late into the night.  With God and my trade and help from my family and friends, our interdependent life flourished.

I am thankful to all my clients over the years, and look forward to meeting many more!  I have some projects brewing that involve clothing and home decor, with possibly an Etsy store.  Also pondering teaching basic sewing classes—I have been asked so many times if I could pass the skill on.

Shhhhh……..

 

In the dark and quiet of the wee hours after my dear hubby leaves for work, I remember one of the good reasons I get up with him to get his breakfast and pack a lunch.
When the kids were small, and our budget, it seemed, smaller, I wanted to make sure he had a lunch to take because otherwise there wasn’t going to be a lunch for him. And I felt it was a small way I could let him know I appreciated him being faithful to this thing called “supporting the family”. I had the privilege of staying home to raise and homeschool our 5 kids. The least I could do was to make sure the man was fed! A secondary, but no less important facet to this challenging ritual was the fact that I had a few minutes to myself before the chaos of our day began.

Now that our kids are older, and don’t feel the need to get up so early (thank you, Jesus!), this time has taken on a different meaning. As the light begins to creep into the sky, what I hear is………quiet. This quiet has become as a balm to my very soul. In our constantly connected world, I must purpose to find time to be unconnected.  To listen, to hear my heart beat, to take care of myself, to ponder, to dream, to pray. This quiet is an organic way of waking up, to take time to set my intentions for the day and live out of that sense of order.

We don’t always have the time or resources to take time away. But we can find time every day to regroup and recharge our hearts and live our lives intentionally.  This looks different for each one of us, at different times and places in our journey. Do you have intentional quiet in your life?  I would love to hear what that looks like for you.