Rise & Shine…

I saw these words on Pinterest…

“Just because she’s pretty doesn’t mean you aren’t.”

…and I had to stop and ponder this for a minute.

On the surface, this statement is so basic, it almost seems pointless – but I let myself sit with it for a while, and began to notice the different emotions that this statement brought up in my own spirit…

I’ve never considered myself insecure or lacking in confidence.  I know what my strengths are and, especially since I turned 40, I know what they are not.  I don’t feel myself needing validation too often.  But, when I read that tiny sentence on social media I had to consider why those words jumped out at me like they did.

I believe it’s because I’m a human…a human woman.

All women, no matter how pretty or talented or funny or charming or popular or smart or educated…or whatever have that moment when they realize:

No matter what I look like or do, there is always someone who looks or does it better.

And there are a few things that women seem to do to each other that only increase the isolation and anxiety that this reality can bring:

  1. We compare – we place value on ourselves and others based on a sliding scale…(“I feel pretty good until that one chic walks in.”)
  2. We compete – we use our comparisons to try to minimize others to maximize ourselves…(“I’m not perfect, but at least I’m not like her!”)
  3. We conclude- we size each other up, labeling each other by our biggest flaws…(“She may be pretty, but I bet she’s not very smart!”)
  4. We commiserate – we use our insecurities to bond with other women who have the same issues…(i.e.: When that “Bible Study” turns into a gossip session: “We should all pray for Kellie because…bless her heart.”)

The reason why that phrase was significant to me is because most women need to hear some version of it every day.

Most women need to know…to completely internalize that they are valuable and loved, no matter what any other women are doing, saying or being.

If “Comparison is the thief of joy”, then the opposite is also true.  Encouragement and contentment are the way to spread joy around.

We could start an “Encouragement Revolution” if we, as women, would just determine to do a few things every day:

  1. Begin each day with gratefulness – list at least 5 things that make you feel blessed.  Say them out loud if you have to.
  2. Remind ourselves of our true worth – look in the mirror and tell yourself at least 3 things that make you unique.
  3. Encourage one another – be mindful of others and what they are dealing with – send a text or message…the best way to be encouraged is to encourage someone else.
  4. Really listen – make eye contact and just listen…without having to “one up” whatever she is expressing.  
  5. Have empathy – really put yourself in her shoes and give her the benefit of the doubt. 
  6. Celebrate each other – if you see beauty in someone else, tell them. 

Women are wonderful and complex, and if we could ever work together toward contentment, we could truly change the world!

“In this world there is no force equal to the strength of a woman determined to rise.”

So let’s rise.

And shine.

Together…

Peace to you.

Angie ❣

A Conversation with myself…

This week I will officially turn “nearly 50”, and although my family jokes that I’ve been saying that since I was 42, it’s now a reality. So I’ve been thinking a lot about what I would say to my younger-self, if I were somehow given the opportunity.

Here are a few thoughts from the other side of the hill:

Begin before you have to: Don’t wait until you’re 35 to think about things like sunscreen and yoga…(especially if you live in the “Sunshine State” and you’re of Eastern European descent). You won’t always be able to eat french fries and sleep in your $6 makeup without consequence…even if those consequences aren’t immediately visible. Start good habits early. Don’t “YOLO” yourself and then deprive yourself of nutrients so that you can fit into “that dress”.  Start aging gracefully before you ever have to think about aging.

Don’t be a selfie kind of girl: Value yourself more than just posting one picture after the next of your own face. Say something to the world, don’t just let them look at you. There’s a difference between someone saying you look “pretty” and you look “hot”. Always strive for the first option – pretty is timeless and ageless, but hot…well, we all know what trying desperately to be labeled that way looks like…especially at 40.

Just because you can doesn’t mean you should: Sure, you can wear a t-shirt for a dress at 20, but that doesn’t mean you should…and for goodness-sake, if you can wear a bikini at 40, that’s awesome, you just don’t have to put it on your Facebook wall! Remember: there will always be younger and sexier women out there, so don’t feel the need to compete – it’s a losing game. Don’t be surprised or offended when someone judges you by your appearance if that’s all that you offer the world. Show the world what you’re really made of – Use your words!

Not all attention is equal: If you have to use your sexuality to get a man, you’ll always have to compete in that arena to keep him. Be the kind of girl -at 20- that you won’t mind your husband being around when you’re 40…because the world will be full of women who will try to catch his eye. Don’t be proud of getting male attention because of how you are dressed – believe me, it’s just not that hard to do. You teach people how to treat you.

Give grace to others…and yourself: If you want to age gracefully, then live in grace. Don’t say hurtful things to others or yourself. If kindness is not an option, then silence may be the next best thing. Don’t say things to yourself that you would never want someone else to say to someone that you love. Be the person that you needed when you were little and the kind of person you hope to encounter on your worst day.

Who your friends are will tell you what your future will look like: Don’t build your friendships on gossip – It’s been proven that women are more easily bonded by having a mutual complaint or enemy (or “frenemy”) than anything else. Rise above this. Remember: if your friends will talk to you about someone, they will talk about you to everyone. And never, ever talk bad about your husband to anyone, ever. Great minds discuss issues…small minds discuss people. Be kind.

Don’t be afraid to fail: The only true failure is never trying. If you fall down, learn something and don’t make the same mistake twice. We all fall before we rise. Failure can seem devastating when you’re 20, but by the time you’re 50, hopefully, you’ll see every experience as a lesson that is leading you toward your better self. It’s never to early or too late to choose a new path. Be brave.

Seize the day: Don’t think you will always feel as energetic as you do at 20, you may, but make good hay while the sun is shining. There may come a day when you don’t have the same capacity, or time that you enjoy in your youth. Don’t wait for a relationship or having a child to make you feel whole. If life isn’t going how you thought it would, bloom where you’re planted, and before you know it, you’ll have a beautiful garden – even if it doesn’t look the way you thought it would when you were 12. There are lots of different “fairy tales” that you can live – “Frozen” isn’t any less a beautiful story than “Cinderella”. Be you’re own “knight in shining armor” – you’re the daughter of a great God and an awesome King! Be you!

Enjoy each day.

Find the beauty in everything around you.

Never look at a sunset or the ocean without a sense of awe.

Never miss an opportunity to chat with a senior adult or play with a toddler.

Don’t put it off.

Don’t leave good things unsaid.

Don’t focus on what you can’t change when there’s so much good to be done.

Always remember that happy girls are the prettiest girls.

Choose joy.

Rise.

Shine.

Be kind. Be brave.  Be you. And, as always: Peace to you…
Angie

 

Bliss…redefined.

Life is funny… Sometimes it’s “ha ha” funny…and sometimes it’s just “scratch your head” funny. I’ve been on a different kind of path lately, one in which one wouldn’t automatically think there would be much “bliss” to be found.

But I’m finding it. Daily. Funny…

I recently found out that I have a, most-likely benign, brain tumor. I probably wouldn’t even know it was there except for the fact that it’s pressing on both my brain stem and my spinal cord.

So, anyway…yeah…about that bliss-thing.

I don’t normally associate “bliss” with something that continually disrupts my vision, my memory and my ability to…well, not walk like someone who’s spent a little too much time at “Happy Hour”, but this new normal is opening up a whole new world to me.

Much to the chagrin of many, including some of my doctors, I have determined to get to the bottom of why my body could allow a tumor like this to form, and to attack the “why” first before I consider other methods of dealing with this “thing” that is disrupting my life so profoundly. In other words, if I don’t deal with the “why” then it …or something worse will just come back, following whatever treatment modern medicine throws my way. So, I’m choosing to deal with this in a more holistic way – mainly through an 80% raw, vegan diet.

And, of course, I believe that my days are numbered by my Heavenly Father… I’m just determined to do my part. I will take control of the things that are my responsibility – like what I eat and drink – and leave what’s outside my control to God.

I recently had the opportunity to speak to the Women of C3 Church, and I said:

“Your mountain is your ministry. Your pain is your platform. Your challenge is your calling.”

So, this is my time. Time to practice what I preach…This is my opportunity to prove what I already know to be true:

*God has numbered my days, and He knows exactly where I am and what I’m walking through.

*God has made a way for me to receive ultimate healing and eternal life through His Son, Jesus.

*Whatever happens to my physical body, whatever living in this fallen world does to me, is really of no consequence.

*What matters is my response – what I do with whatever blessings or struggles God allows to cross my path.

*There is opportunity to see the Hand of God in every crisis, and every pain that I feel is a point of contact with someone else…

*So these struggles are just blessings in disguise!

Byron and I now know more fully what others go through when they receive a bad diagnosis, or they have fear…or they feel like they have more questions than answers. We now have a deeper understanding that everyone has a story…is facing some kind of giant or storm.

What a blessing.

What bliss.

Healing is a funny thing. You hear a lot of talk about faith and healing when you have a tumor affecting your brain…

But here’s what I know:

My God has already healed me in the way that He sees fit – so what happens to my brain or any other part of me is in His hands. And He heals me daily…from my fear of the unknown…from my pride that I may fall down or mix up words…from my need to control things that I never really could control to begin with.

He gives me peace that passes understanding.

And there is definitely bliss in that.

Peace to you…

Angie❣