In preparing a speech and workshop for a group of writers on memoirs, I thought about how the threads of our past continue to have an influence on everything we do. Those threads are the many stories that make up our lives.
There are many stories that need to be told – stories that only you can tell. While we may live through similar times, everyone experiences those times differently and each of us will have a different interpretation of what occurred.
There will be funny stories and stories that break your heart, but all have an important message to share.
Christmas – we look at the twinkling lights and bright decorations and for a few seconds the Christmas spirit permeates our hectic schedules and “to do” lists.
We extend greetings and mail Christmas cards and packages and feel that “spirit” for a few more minutes. For some people, time is taken to attend candlelight services at a neighborhood church as a token to an old ritual or tradition.
But is that all there is?
Have we reduced Christmas to a few watered down traditions that we observe once a year before we go back to life as usual? Do we forget that we have this holiday because we wanted to honor and celebrate the birth of a tiny child who happened to be the Son of God? It is with this monumental event where transformation of the heart and soul begin.
Jennifer was a goal setter – she attended college, returned home for a visit, met and married her first husband.
But then her world began to fall apart and like all of us whose ideals, expectations and normal assumptions for life begin to crumble, she found herself struggling to save her marriage – eventually realizing it was beyond saving.
She went from a healthy, vibrant individual to sinking into a troubling depression and wondering what life was all about.
As she struggled with the enormous changes that had occurred and the overwhelming challenges she faced, she found a bracelet that had been lost. Unable to find the owner, she looked more closely at the words that encircled the band:
Imagine Create Believe Achieve
I have just returned from a wonderful
European river cruise;
Pleasant conversation, new relationships,
and perspectives from those coming
from many different parts of the world;
pampered by cheerful and
accommodating staff, good food
and good wine.
Daily excursions took us to old castles on the hill,
gingerbread houses and towns and the natural beauty
found in countries and ancient towns along the Danube
and Rhine rivers; a wonderful stew of sights and sounds
and stories that will continue to be enjoyed through the
hundreds of pictures taken and in our memory banks.
We came together to pray and plan and encourage and find out where we were on our career paths.
Author, counselor, coach, teacher – we all congregated at my home for our annual retreat from life as usual to catch up and listen and ask for and receive clarification of our goals.
Sometimes our talking went on so long we failed to realize we were hungry when it was time to eat.
Friends: they support us and are willing to give us the valuable information we need from a trusted friend.
Our friendship circle was formed so we could support each other and encourage one another in our life’s work. Setting aside our wants and wishes, we reached out to help each other visualize and test their goal ideas. We shared information from the educational and training backgrounds we had along with articles we have read and books we recommended reading. At times it was like a think tank – exploring what we could accomplish if we set our hearts and prayers to it.
August has flown by – Minutes filled with work, accomplishing projects and conversations.
But the best moments were those spent with good friends – talking, sharing and just being together.
Relationships are an important part of any steps we take through life. Knowing we are not alone allows us to step more confidently.
“This is the day which the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.” Psalm 118:24.
We only have that moment in time. If we waste it, we are wasting a part of who we are. In that moment in time we have the ability to reflect, connect with loved ones, do some meaningful work, try new things, and look for opportunities.
The Next Step
Do you remember your first toddling steps?
I don’t. But we’ve all had them. While we may not remember our first attempts at walking, we remember snippets of running and jumping and falling down with scraped knees and scaring our parents half to death as we climbed and explored places where danger was adventuresome.
As we march through life, we take steps full of confidence and those filled with timidity and hesitation.
There were those hesitant steps as we entered kindergarten, and then bounded through grade school and high school, entering college with a false sense of self and doubt but soon striding with self confidence. Soon we were light footing it into romance and love and then that solemn walk down the aisle. Steps in tandem soon slowed down as we tried to match the baby steps of our first toddler.
As the years marched on, we became more sure-footed, learning not to make the same mistakes twice.
But then just as we had found a comfortable gait, life throws us some unexpected hard balls and we learn we don’t have as much control as we thought we had.
How do I say goodbye?
She was petite, perky, and full of life. Her smile brightened a room and you felt uplifted as soon as she walked in.
She never made a big deal about the obstacles she faced in her life. With severe food allergies she would bring her own food with her to any event without any fanfare and nobody noticed. It wasn’t a big deal to her. Life was to be enjoyed and not spoilt by little things you could or couldn’t do.
Her outlook on life carried through in all situations. She looked at problems and found solutions.
Life will give us those Ah-Ha moments where we are able to get a glimpse of a larger truth that can forever alter our thinking. But we need to be ready to recognize them.
I was given such an Ah-Ha moment many years ago that changed my thinking forever.
We were preparing for a summer camping trip with the kids. I was doing loads of laundry in preparation for leaving the next day. But the job was hindered by a water pressure problem. For some reason the water filling my laundry tub was so slow it seemed to take forever.
It was one of the things on my husband’s to do list.
Firecrackers popping, potato salad made. Soda Pop is in the cooler covered with ice and we congregate as friends together to watch the evening fireworks.
The 4th of July
it is one of our nation’s favorite holidays.
It is a favorite because it represents freedom, independence and liberty. We are free to be our own person, free to move around and make our own choices. We have autonomy and self-determination. Our liberty was bought with blood and sweat and tears by those who came before us. That liberty assures us that we are free from the control and restrictions of a despotic or arbitrary government control.
When that freedom and independence is applied to our personal life, we are challenged to do something productive and constructive with that freedom.