Thursday, May 28, 2015

Finding the Calm. In the Present.

Do you find it hard to let your mind just rest? I do. During the last few weeks I have felt inspired to find the time to put my spirit into a slower pace and really engulf my life in the present. In all my human efforts, I still find that I uncover a whole new package of worry and stress. 

I have been noticing how the stress of the last few years has really taken a toll on my body. I feel old, ragged, and tired. Ya, I still look 25 when really I am knee deep at 31. I didn't want to see this. I did not want to notice that my hair shows signs of weakness or how the area around my eyes seems all puffy and dark. I have become resentful and angry about how amazing I feel inside, yet my body seems to have taken the brunt of my battle. Before you get all ticked off at me for having a pity party on the internet and want to slap me on the face for having wacky expectations on my outward appearance, hear me out.

I am fully aware of my outrageous thinking. There are countless stories on the webs that talk about women becoming content with their bodies or OK with the fact that they do not fit media's representation. I get all that. I feel that. Like a good girl I do. What actually hit me from one of these many articles and videos, was one woman's story. Actually it wasn't the whole story. It was just one thing she said about how she felt after taking action to really get her body in shape. She was at the peak of health and strength, but STILL felt like her body was not enough. Her heart still had this expectation of what her body should be and she did not attain what she was looking for.

What I have been realizing is that there is always going to be something to stress over if I really want to spend my time there. Here I am at the peak of my mental health and I still find something to stress over. I have no reason to stress, because God has really been giving me the tools to handle hard times. So why get all crazy and decide to stress out about my outward appearance? Why not sit down and just enjoy life despite the imperfections that will ALWAYS present themselves?

So about that rest. Is that really attainable? Can I really come to terms with my body, state of mind, or life in general? Can God really put me in a place of complete solitude and tranquility? Will my mind just let my neck muscles loosen up and my body feel weightless? Despite being in a sinful world, there is a place that we can go to feel what Heaven has to offer. That "perfection" that we have been longing for.

This week I went for a walk to the park down the street. People were around in the park interacting with one another. There I was avoiding looking at my phone and trying to find a place to sit down and just be there. I overheard conversations that brought up my own personal sore spots. The sounds of the birds brought me back into the moment and I sat down at a picnic bench and just waited. I wasn't sure what I was waiting for other than what God might want to show me.

I sat there and just examined the trees and how the slight breeze gently moved the branches, I felt really there. It actually made me think of my childhood and how living in the moment was all I had. There were no worries to bog my brain or threats to ignite my adrenaline. I became thankful for that time in my life where, despite the terrible things still existing, I was engulfed in what I saw around me and what was created by it in my thoughts.

What I believe God was showing me is that worry and stress will  always just take me away from truly living. If I want to experience the calm that He has provided, I really do need to be here. NOT back there in some regret or panicking at what could happen in the future. He just wants me to LIVE. Forget that I have bags under my eyes. Ignore that the devil is poking at a past weakness. Or walk into a room full of senses versus hypothetical strategies.

So, lets meet in the present together and find out what REALLY is worth living.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

God. Family. His Goodness.

Despite the sin and sadness in this life, I have finally come to grips with the idea that God is sooo good. He shines through the darkness with so much power, that even the devil trembles. My mind, for so long, had been deceived into thinking that there was nothing good in this life. All the pain, anger, deceit, and black nights just seemed to be my focus. 

But right now? I am overwhelmed. Down right struck in the chest with how God has ignited this feeling inside of me that loves more, strives more, and ultimately sees the LIGHT. My photography has taken a turn for the extraordinary and what I see around me I cannot remain sad about. Even with the passing of my dear maternal grandmother, I have found the beauty in her death (I will talk more about that in another post). 

For right now I want to speak out about my cousins. I have a few sets and maybe not as many as some might have, but I love each one of them. Here, though, I want to mention the ones I grew up with. The ones that were seriously like siblings. We laughed, played, gained scars, cried tears, fought passionately, dreamed, and grew up together. Over the past few years we all kind of moved our separate ways, though. 

I was the first to take the plunge into adulthood and so I pretty much left the gang without much thought. I look back regretting the years where I could have danced in new experiences with them. How I wish I could have hashed out my mistakes with them and been the better for it. I wonder what it would have been like to be there when hearts were broken, challenges were conquered, or passions were discovered.

This past weekend I felt like I was given a second chance. Not at recovering those years, but of living in our 20s and 30s together as adults with puttering babies and careers. Love is amazing like that. It always comes back around full circle.

This above photos is of Alisha and her baby, Huck. We were all sitting together in the funeral home after the service for our "Grandma D.", when I was struck by this view. I immediate thought of my grandmother and how I knew she would have captured this moment. She was a photographer during our childhood. I felt so connected with her and this moment. But back to Alisha. She is a quiet spirit and very similar to my brother, Bobby. She loves down to earth stuff and living on her farm with Charles. Growing up she followed me around and could always be found smiling and laughing with that little giggle of hers.

When I think about looking like someone, who is not my mother, I think of my cousin Abby. I am almost freaked out just looking at this image of her. I see my mom, aunt, grandmother, and myself. Yet it is still Abby. Growing up she was the little one of the crew (she is 9 years my younger) and I can remember the day she first walked. It was a major event during Thanksgiving one year at Great Grandma Dorn's farm in PA. I found out this weekend we have a similar personality, but to make things different she love all things cow girl/boy. I have no desire to ride a horse, so I will leave that to her.

Now who could resist hanging with a person with this face? Tommy is only a month younger than my brother and they are pretty much more than brothers. If I want a GOOD laugh or to hear about a nostalgic story of our childhood with bouts of laughter, Tommy is the guy to see. He is determined and will do anything he puts his mind to. Sometimes our strong older sibling spirits clashed as kids, but I wouldn't trade him for anyone. He is the real deal and will speak his mind. This picture makes me think of my grandfather and his beard. It is so weird to see it on my kid cousin. He is also the father of two sweet little girls and a husband to an amazing lady, Julie.

As I get older and enjoy my 30s, I become more and more in need of family. It is very different than the safety I felt as a child among my crazy family. More like, we all are so different and yet the same, so it all seems familiar and inviting. It hasn't always been easy for all of us. We have been through a lot and I hope that it only ignites the light inside each of us and brings us all HOME. Yes, God is good.