Saturday, October 3, 2009

For The Better Good -Variations & Generalizations

It's been an odd day... An amazing thing happened that reminded me once again of God's love and faithfulness. I was in tears thanking God and praying for several people, including myself. There is much still to to as I am moving to the mountains to live in my van (all set up well as a camper van) with full hook-ep in a beautiful setting with lakes and mountains. Although there are some things that are out of my comfort zone (having a potable toilet instead of a bathroom) but I know that it is a good thing for me. Everything I need will be there. There are many amenities, people who live there year 'round as well as those vacationers who go in & out sporadically. I love the variations of people there... those that live there in a permanent section, those that come in for the week-ends or holidays or particular times of the season(s) or for special events. You have tent campers, RVers, weekenders, full-timers, those that vacation in the condos, those in the scaled down cottages. Everywhere there is very pretty... very scenic setting on a large lake surrounded by mountains. It couldn't be much more idyllic.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

My 30 Day Fast - Results

I finished up a 30 day water only fast last month. I started back on mostly juices and soups. My health had been pretty poor for quite a while. While I was the manager at the firm I formerly worked for, I was going on adrenaline at a break neck speed for so long it was ridiculous. I was told more than once that if I didn’t slow down and start taking better care of myself I would most likely have a stroke or heart attack. Fun news, huh? So finally after being gone from there for close to 3 months (it will be 3 months next Monday) I have had to come face to face with getting me healthy again. I found myself crashing like crazy - no energy and just felt rough with no adrenaline or insanity to keep me pushing to the ridiculous. I was totally tired of being sick and without energy. It is terrible to feel you are stuck & have to live like that! (Fast forward for a second: I don’t have to live like that anymore! Woohoo!)

After a lot of prayer & research I ended up going on a 30 day water fast. It was pretty brutal at times but somehow I did it. In between the brutal sickness of my body ridding itself of toxins I would have surges of energy and able to get things done. I found health issues improving significantly. I had so much hope that I could get my “life” back & be the vibrant woman full of energy that I was just a few short years ago. Well I learned so much about myself during the fast. But one thing that I just found this last few days is that I am allergic to the preservatives/chemicals in non-organic foods! As long as I juiced and ate organic I was fine, felt great. But as soon as I ran out of my organic and started using “regular” foods again I started having all my health issues return in a big way!Long story short I have found as long as I eat organic and whole foods (+ washing vegis & fruits well before juicing or eating) I am fine and feel great. But when I ate “regular” (non-organic) soups etc., I got so sick for literally hours, culminating into days! No energy and extremely sick with headaches, cramps, swelling, just awful stuff. After feeling so much better after the fast, all of a sudden I was miserable again, it was scary, sad and terribly upsetting. I couldn’t believe that simply by eating non-organic foods, including my nutrisystem foods left over from prior to the fast would make me so sick, lethargic and achy again. I felt horrible & slept for hours, I was hurting and so sick! I realized what it was!!! I may have never known how much the chemicals & preservatives were hurting me if it hadn’t been for the fast. I have now replenished my organic food and whole foods and am doing great again! Wow it feels good to feel good again! :)I felt it important to post this as so many people are exhausted all the time and have headaches and on & on. I got to the point where it was all very severe. Again, I would have never known these preservatives and chemicals were so much of the catalysts of my problems (in addition to the excess weight) if I hadn’t gone on the fast and “discovered” it in the aftermath of it. It has been a rough few weeks but I am so grateful I have discovered what I have about myself for my ongoing journey to health & wholeness. I hope there are those here that will consider trying whole foods and organic foods for a while and see if you feel better too!

Final word: People talk about how expensive it is to eat organic, but it costs a whole lot more in lost energy and health conditions to eat the garbage stuff our society has become so accustomed to and we have forced our bodies to try and use as fuel. It is like trying to run our vehicle on water with a little gas in it… it won’t work very well and eventually the vehicle will get “sick” and break down. I am not preaching to anyone… but I am reporting that I am amazed at the difference in myself even at this point when I eat organic & whole foods (whole grains, fresh produce, etc.) versus eat what is thought to be “normal”. I never ever thought I would be so sold on this way of eating. I will still have my splurge meals once a week. But wow what a difference it makes for me to eat organic and whole foods 98% of the time! I am genuinely amazed by all this! Well, gotta run! …Back to “working” to get myself some income coming in! Blessings to All! :)

My 30 Day Water Fast - Perceptions

Sometimes I look for answers in the powerful rushing wild rivers, when it actually lies in a small gentle stream barely tumbling over the rocks in a hidden little cove. Recently I have been in a phase that involved extended fasting on my quest to get my health back & reclaim my life. This was the first time in many many years that I had even attempted a fast of more than a few days and to be honest after a couple weeks I began to whine to the Lord. I felt deprived at times, hopeful at times, but overall I just wanted to eat something! I realized that my flesh is very strong about what it wants! To deny the flesh… Whew not that easy of a thing for me. I would occasionally get frustrated with myself at how much of a struggle I felt through especially the last couple weeks of the fast. Funny because the whole time, though I prayed and told the Lord it was as much a spiritual fast as a fast for my health… I felt like it was pretty much about “me”.

However, it was at the times where I was the most frustrated and deplete that I would cry out to God in frustration. In those moments it was like the red sea parting… All the “stuff” simply parted and I was left with the most humbled me crying out to HIM, completely vulnerable with realization that within myself alone there was not a whole lot I actually could control in my life anyway! In those moments it was no longer about “me”. In those moments it was about HIM and about the people I felt led to pray for, to lay at His feet. It is hard to explain what happened in the final period… The toughest period in the flesh… But somehow in that time of struggle and vulnerability and frustration I would come to that end of “me” and end up somehow headlong in HIS presence, without my even being conscience of it, HE was doing things, changing lives, changing me, changing others… All of a sudden I began to see some break-throughs happening. It stunned me. Things I had prayed for, for quite some time and all of a sudden different people were reporting break-throughs. I was and am astounded at God’s love and care for those HE loves. Here I was crying out in my struggles and only in getting to the point of forgetting myself and lost in just crying out to HIM did things truly begin to happen. And that is when I “got it”. THAT is what fasting is supposed to be about… About coming to the end of you, only then can GOD really take HIS most powerful place without human interference!

I have the movie “Seabiscuit” on right now. I almost turned it off a couple of times in the first hour or so. It was slow moving and I guess I was looking for more immediate gratification. But something said keep watching… It has become an experience this movie. It is an awesome thing to see people arise from hurt and pain and even in inability to be all we should be, to come to a place that without even realizing it, we shine in our most humbling moment(s). The movie is about triumph for the humble, the common, the unlikely winner. In a way I think that is what GOD is about. HE is about breathing life into the foolish things (like me…) and using this old clay pot even when there are beautifully glazed vessels HE could choose to use instead. Isn’t that amazing… It boggles my mind. I don’t have to be the perfect expensive vessel to be used by the King of Kings. He is the not only the King of Kings but also the King of Hearts. The King of my heart who has chosen to use a humble, misshapen clay vessel. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for this God whom not only do I love but the mysteries of all mysteries… HE loves me. Can you imagine such a thing? HE loves me… Wow… HE loves you as well… Take it in because therein is the source of life and hope and love… HE is amazing this God of love…

Saturday, August 29, 2009

4 years since Hurricane Katrina & my personal "Katrina"

Today, August 29th, 2009 marks 4 years from when hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and devastated so many lives, causing mass damage and devastation in her wake of terror. I remember it very well because I had left a dangerous mess of a private hidden life with my now ex. Although the public side of my life with him seemed idealic to many, the private side was very sad & very messed up. From the public perspective outside of my relationship with him, I had a life that I loved in many ways. Being out west and having almost no money I left everything I owned (a house full of furniture & decor items as well as books & personal info in file cabinets etc…. over 30 years of accumulations of adult life…) other than a few cosmetics, clothes, my Bible & a couple boxes of family photos. I had a couple friends there that were very helpful, even life giving in my departure from all the craziness. One of them was an absolute angel to me, not only when I left but prior to that time period, and afterward as well. I called her daily and she was always there with love & support. (Darlene I will never forget all you were and did for me. You were an absolute God-send to me & I thank you so much my friend & sis.)

I left Nevada on July 25, 2005 and went to stay with friends in CA to heal for a couple months before heading back across the USA toward “home”. I originally wanted to go out in the woods alone and just cry and heal with just me and God. I felt so deplete and worthless that I didn’t want anyone to witness the raw pain and worthlessness I felt. I was a damaged, broken woman full of guilt and grief. There was much involved that I didn’t speak about, some things that had I been stronger I should have reported to the sheriff. But I was good friends with his wife and friends with he as well, and at the time I just couldn’t bring it all out in the open. All were components that had to do with the strange damaging secret life I lived with my ex, that I carried deep inside of me.

For many months after leaving I can remember crying out to God often like a broken child for the strength & will to continue on and start over. I have truly miraculously healed from all that with God’s love and care (and you wonder why I love God so much???? :) but I still see news stories that remind me of that life with him that take me to my knees for those I don’t know, but that I “understand.” To this day I believe it is my calling to intercede in prayer for these people.
My friends there in CA took me to San Francisco, touring through the wineries in Sonoma & Napa Valley and up the coast. All the awesome things I experienced coupled with their care and kindness helped me to begin my healing process. It helped me much to be in those beautiful areas & have the opportunities to explore such beautiful areas. It was inspiring to me on many levels. When I have my health and fitness level in a better place I want to go back with my sister Patty (and my son if he is able and still wants to) to re-experience the wineries and that beautiful sea-life filled coast, as a whole person.

When the ex came and got me from SC & took me to Nevada, I had a thriving business, several thousand dollars, all my earthly belonging in a 24 ft truck & a heart pretty much in tact. When I left, I pulled out with a ‘99 Dodge Dakota (mid-sized truck) and very little else. I left behind a weekly TV spot, a spokesperson role for a local medical weight loss center with commercials etcetera, I sang in a number of events including a very successful annual benefit show at one of the big community based casinos. I knew and was friends with most of the “who’s who” in town and was often recognized from the TV spots, people were very kind to me and much of my public life there was a gift to me in many ways. And yet personally I felt like nothing, like a walking zombie… Worthless & deeply grieved. I have always been a strong person with a strong level of belief in myself so this was a foreign state of being for me. I began to feel more and more like I was watching myself perform day to day “playing me” as I began to feel less & less “there”. It is a hard to explain state of being for those who haven’t experienced it. But obviously it was not a healthy situation by any stretch. I believe to this day that not only was my mind and spirit in a damaging situation but, that I was also in real physical danger. I almost felt I deserved it as I had put myself into the situation and should have known better! I had “seen” the signs and yet I still left my life to start a new life with this man across the USA. I was so full of guilt that for many many months I would pray for others but not myself. I have known and loved God all my life, but during that time period I felt I had deserted God and the common sense HE gave me and that I didn’t deserve HIS love or care.

When I was in CA, Katrina hit. I remember watching it all on TV in utter shock. So today as it marks 4 years, I want to thank a few that imparted into my life. It is no small thing when you help others in whatever ways you can. So visit the friend in the hospital, listen to the hurting souls, pray for others, give in whatever ways you can whether it monetarily or food for the hungry or a blanket for the cold, care, love, little tiny things make a huge difference… They truly do.

To Darlene: You were a lifeline to me, thank you for being such an amazing friend to me when I was so deplete. Thanks for always believing in me sis. To my family: Thanks to all of you for your prayers, love care and non-judgment. Mom & Newberne: Mom, Thank you for understanding some of what I felt then. Thank you both for helping me get across the USA even though the gas skyrocketed at that time and I was devistated by it. You helped me not once but twice. It took me 2 years to pay you back and yet you never once asked me for it… never once… I love you both so much. You always loved me & never judged me… You are awesome parents. Newberne though you came into my life as an adult you are an awesome father and I love you. Chad: If it hadn’t been for you I don’t know if I would even be alive right now. I had given up and you would not give up on me. You were the bridge that would not go away. You somehow with God’s help found a way for me to hear again just long enough for my guilt wall to drop so that I could come back to know the love and care of God. I am crying now remembering that final day that the wall fell and I could see again as you reminded of the “prodigal son” in your unique way that only you could. You knew far more than anyone and yet you never betrayed me, you never judged me, you always believed in me, even inmy worst days always loved & respected me. I cannot tell you how much I love you and how proud I am of the man you have become. If I never had anything else in this life I am blessed beyond words that God allowed me the gift of being your Mom. (OK pulling myself back together now… whew… memories.. so real… so close right now…) Pamela, When you were at such a hard time physically we shared our closest times as sisters. You often navigated me to a safe area in the middle of the night as you lay hurting almost bed-bound with your laptop. And you listened that day that I came out of that church on a Wednesday night so hurt and so sad, knowing I wouldn’t get a campground as I had so little money and gas was so high that I wouldn’t even buy myself socks and I was freezing at that point in the Colorado mountains. You booked me a three nights in a beautiful campground that, even though I told you not to. I needed that reprieve so badly. It was like being in heaven for a little while. I had a lakefront site with electricity and full hook-up. Thank you. Whew… and others that prayed and cared like you Leann who I knew as Angel as an onlilne friend who listened and cared. I called you also several times sis, in my journey back into wholeness. Thank you sis, I love you. And to Landmark church that God led me to a couple months after getting to Atlanta. You didn’t know how much of a broken mess I was then, and yet you embraced me with open arms and hearts and I felt a part of the family there. I miss many there and I thank you so much. To my sister Patty & Nephew Billy: I will never forget that first Thanksgiving I came home and I felt so odd. You both met me at Barnes & Noble after Thanksgiving, before I went back to Atlanta. You listened, you cared and we shared a heartfelt connection that day that meant so much to me. You connected with the real me deep inside and it mattered, you both made such a difference by loving and caring and believing in me, thank you. I love you so much! TO ALL READING THIS: Please know you probably have no idea that there are lost broken people around you. I seemed very whole and fine on the surface. You can make a huge difference…

To the ONE Who gave me life and hope and joy again: Thank You God… I know their are many who misunderstand how amazing You are and how much you love them. Thank You for loving me at my very worst as well as at my best. I will love you forever.
I am currently in a transitioning phase of my life again. But it is good and I am full of hope and gratitude even for this new phase in my life. God is good and I am thankful and blessed. Blessings to All, Brenda

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Finally... Entered into my "Second Life"

For the last few years I have talked about the next phase of my life as my "second life". Now I know there is a huge virtual reality group that came along a while back and made that phrase quite famous, but I came up with it first, so this is my interpretation of what that means to me. For me, my "second life" denoted what my "intentional life" would be once I was able to leave the corporate/structured work life and live a life that I chose based more on my wants/needs. That life (now this life) was to be a life with much more freedom. My second life was a life that didn't have to be perfect (there is no such thing) but I wanted to live, really live before I leave this earth.

I have found that most of my adult life has been lived to take care of others (and myself) and factored into that endeavor, to a smaller degree but still a component was measuring up to the societal acceptance and approval. At 51, I am at a place in my life that only my monthly living bills need to be paid consistently. Thankfully, I have paid off my debt and am only responsible for myself now with my only child being a grown man on his own. Therefore, my financial needs are modest. Also thankfully, I own my vehicle (not the bank) and I don't need a lot of material things to be happy. What I do need and for the most part want, I pretty much have at this point. I am a gadget gal, love technologies' fun and helpful delights. But I have been a single parent most of my life too, so I have never been one to spend a lot on anything. When I bought my Kindle (Amazon e-reader - love it by the way) I thought about it and reads zillions of reviews and researched it for 6 months before I actually broke down and bought it. That is typical of me. I don't buy items over about $30 without some major thought and research first. And with the Kindle as in other purchases/electronic gadgets/etcetera, I am happy with the version I purchased. I don't have to rush out to get the newest glossy, glitzy, updated version. So today, I am thankful for the preparations I have made (paying off debt, paying off vehicle, buying most of the things I need to take care of myself well with my "second life" plans) as well as having the mindset to move into a lifestyle in which I personally find more freedom, as opposed to staying within the accepted societal expectations only.

I have finally left my latest several year "corporate gig" as the overall operations, office and marketing manager of a professional tax consulting/tax law firm, to embrace simpler choices in my own life.This phase of my life has been something I have sought and planned in abstract for the last 20 years, and in more specific terms for the last 10 years. This past couple years I have literally planned what I needed to full time van dwell. (What RVers often refer to as "full-timing".)

I have a couple memberships that allow me use of a beautiful mountain/lake area for my home-base. I will have the use of satellite cable, water and full electrical hook-up as well as a wonderful community atmosphere. The area has many amenities and perks that work well with who I am. I am working on a "secret project" as well as doing some writing that I am expecting to support me. My needs are minimal, but I plan to be successful enough to help others along the way as well as take good care of myself. I am determined to take very good care of myself in the also extremely important areas of health and spirituality.

I will be announcing my "secret project" here within the next few weeks. I certainly hope you will join me in that unveiling! Thanks for sharing in this momentous new phase of my life. It only gets better from here. I will leave you with 2 quotes that say a lot to me as I take this continued journey: "Mistakes are the portals of discovery." -James Joyce & "Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication." -Leonardo DiVinci

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Keeping Your Focus Among Massive Distraction

There's nothing like a good end of "your world", disaster movie to put things into perspective. I think when we are presented with (or inundated by) something so extreme, it allows our minds to clear much of the distractions that can rob us from accomplishing the success generated by "focus". I find when we focus in on whatever it is we focus in on... THAT becomes our central theme for the moment. If we continue to focus in on it, it will become our focus for the hour or the day or the week... well you get the idea. If we put the attention on negativity, possibly the economic crisis and all that is taking place right now for a reasonable portion of time and then go back to our focus on living well, loving God, taking care of our families and on doing well at our work, then there is balance and success can remain and grow. But, if the focus gets too muddled and we lose that precise point of positives thought put to action, it can and most often will steal everything away that matters to us. Everything...

It is crucial that we focus on the upside of things. In doing so our focus will help guide our actions and outlook which will lead to a better result in whatever it is that we are looking to accomplish. So often when things are tough, whether it be related to the economy, personal relationships or a host of other things, we focus so much on the problems and issues surrounding that problem that we become discouraged and lose our ability to retain hope and expectation of the positive. When we go there in our thoughts, it sets us up for failure. If you find yourself focusing on the negative rather than the positive look at the flip side of whatever it is that is getting you down. If you are concerned about your job, think about the fact that in no area of the United States is the employment at 11% yet. That means that of those of us that are of age and ability to work, 89% of us are! Look on the flip side. Having marital troubles? Look at those beautiful children and remember that there are some wonderful things that came from that marriage. Change of any type can be difficult, for some it can be debilitating but it doesn't have to! Turn on some uplifting music, watch a hope filled movie or hang out with some very upbeat, positive friends when you feel down, not with someone who will feed your discouragement! Look on the upside... it will give you alot and take nothing from you to do so. Right now stop and make a list of all the things you are thankful for. Focus on the positive. If you feel stuck in the negative or downtrodden heaviness try: Listening to upbeat music that you enjoy, music that sends a good message to you. For me "Take the shackles off my feet so I can dance" by Mary Mary can pull me out of a funky mood just about anytime! And/or... PRAY! When I get stuck and feel a heaviness in my outlook I often will read verse prayers (also called word prayers) out loud. By the time I am on the second or third prayer I am thanking God for His care and all He has done and will do that I am in soaring into wonderful strength and wholeness. (Check out "Prayers That Avail Much" by Germaine Copeland, my favorite is the 3 in 1 commemorative edition). And finally, go to where you feel good! For me that is nature... For me that means waterfalls, mountains rivers creeks lakes forests the ocean and so forth. For someone else it could be a beautiful garden (when I lived in S. FL many years ago I used to often go to a Japanese park with a waterfall and willow trees. It was very beautiful and inately peaceful.) or wherever makes you feel peaceful and puts a smile deep within you. Just a drive through a scenic area or sitting on a park bench overlooking a serene area or watching people skate by or on a dock. There are probably about as many places as people.

Finally I must say that for me knowing loving and being loved and directed by One far greater than I is crucial to my well-being. I find immense hope strength and purpose in my relationship with God Himself. I highly recommend your getting to know Him as well. It's a quality decision that you willnever regret. For further on that:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

USA Economy in 2009: 11% Empty or 89% Full?

Turn on the news on any TV channel or radio station, morning, noon or night and chances are good that you will hear something about the economy. We have heard and seen a substantial level of downtrend in the US economy, especially in the latter months of 2007 continuing through all of 2008. The housing market has literally fallen apart, with many either losing their homes to foreclosure or experiencing huge drops in their home's market value. This alone has substantially weakened the overall wealth report of the masses in the US. The worst case scenarios involve the loss of family homes, forcing people (often entire families) to live in their vehicles, with relatives or in homeless shelters, if not altogether homeless. When you add in the other elements that have been a big part of the overall picture, including: the stock market wildly swinging in all directions with record breaking lows and then occasionally hitting a huge surge upward, national and personal debt badly deplete, and unemployment is reported the highest since the depression days of the 1920s, all fueling a huge decrease in consumer spending, the forecast looks bleak. Hardest hit is discretionary spending including the automotive industry, much of the retail market, as well as shutting down many restaurants. It's not only an eye-opening time for the American people but also many other countries that are literally suffering a defraying of the fiber of their economic structure as well.

Should we all just get depressed, give up and lay around on the couch waiting for the world to fall apart? Of course not! First, let's look at the real statistics: In December 2009 the unemployment rate is at 10.3% and some economists predict it will hit 11% in 2009. Even if it hits 11% that still means that 89% of the adult Americans able to work, in fact are working. They may not all be earning as much as they would in better economic times but they are working and at least paying for their family's basic needs. 89%! The housing market, the stock market and consumer debt are all in terribly badly shape. That said, we are still a far more affluent country than over 75% of the world. In fact if you have any kind of roof over your head (including your vehicle) and any kind of food to eat, you are very very blessed. We have grown so used to excess in this country that we have lost sight of all we do have.

It is wisdom to take note of what is happening around us and get our lives, hearts and minds in order. It is the fool who continues as if nothing is changing around him. But with that enlightened wisdom, also must come the ability to see into the upside of the downtrends. During our country's most difficult times have come the most inventions that have continued to become the mainstays of America. Ergo the saying: "Necessity is the mother of invention." Once again, our mind set will tell each of our tales. How we choose to feel and deal with what is happening can propel us into greater things or allow us to fall into a pit fueled by fear. We make the choice between the two, you and I. Can we choose if we lose our home or job? Sometimes yes, but most of the time I would say no. However we CAN all choose if we are going to respond or react to the changes we continue to see and hear about here in the USA. Reaction can be anything from an emotional outburst to a slow emotional shut down. But there is usually some kind of non contained emotional energy that takes place when things are left to simply reaction. But response, that is a whole different story. Response comes from forethought and using rational decision making skills. To respond most often means a positive result, whereas to to react is general the adverse bring on the negative.
Let's choose how we "see". Is the glass half full or half empty? Actually it is over 89% full and less than 11% empty. We are Americans. We are a nation of creative, inventive, forward moving people of all ages, sizes, races and religions. It is time to take up our swords and plunge forward into whatever may come. I would rather move forward and fight the good battle than sit in a dark hole and watch everyone walk by me. Welfare and subsidies of all times are meant to be a help to those needing help, not an enabler to do nothing. Take up the good fight for yourself and those that you love. Don't give up, don't give in. Respond, create, keep moving forward. As in most of life's challenges if handled well, you have little to lose and so very much to gain. We inspire when we continue to move forward, we shine the light without even realizing it, so that others can keep moving forward too. Let's shine ladies and gentlemen... In good times or tough... let's shine...

For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~GOD (Jeremiah 29:11)