Friday, November 9, 2018

The Encouragement PB&J


             One of my favorite things is encouraging people. Growing up, my dad always told me to speak life into other people. People are like flowers, if you water them, give them some light, they’ll bloom and flourish. If you neglect them, the opposite can happen.  If you look around today there’s a lack of encouragement and kindness online, and even in our day to day culture. A week ago, I posted a video about Encouragement and an easy way to remember how to do so daily with an Acronym of PB&J. Possibilities, Beauty and a Job well done! In making it accessible to all, I put it in a blog post, with ways you can implement these concepts. My hope in you learning about PB&J is that you will go out into your neighborhood and world, and bring a little more hope, joy, and kindness to those you meet.
Possibilities:
-Seeing a friend’s possibility in an idea: If you have a friend who has a new idea, speak life into it. Maybe she wants to try sculpting clay! Worst that happens: she buys clay, and it doesn’t turn out the way she’d like and she doesn’t do it again. Maybe, though, she discovers a joy in working with clay. Often times people wet blanket themselves with talking themselves out of trying something new, for fear of sounding stupid, or looking out of place. Don’t be their wet blanket, ask why they are interested in it. Ask what do they hope to get out of it? We lose some of our sense of play as we get older, we could use a little in our lives. Encourage play when you see it!
-Someone going out on a limb: If someone says something that hits the spot, maybe they give you a word, or message you at the moment where you were wondering if anyone even realized you didn’t show up that night, let them know. They might be on a ledge themselves and are venturing out in messaging you, or saying something to you. Encouragement can have ripple effects. If a friend goes out of their way to help you, be grateful, help them know that it was appreciated. Do not take people for granted.
-Your own ideas: Often times we are quick to build up other people, “Yeah! Start that business, Yes! Go lift and get fit, Yes! You would be amazing as a foster mom!” But we tear down our own ideas. I saw a video that had two women write down all the things they said to themselves throughout the day, then they had to say those things to their best friend sitting across from them. No one made it through the exercise without sobbing and saying, ‘I don’t believe those things about you’. So why do we believe them about ourselves? We can’t follow every idea, but we can buy a sketch book, and do one drawing a week, or go volunteer at the homeless shelter, or take one small step towards your idea. Talk to yourself like you talk to your best friend. Don’t entertain your enemies thoughts towards yourself.
Beauty:
                -This can be the obvious things of someone who is wearing some fun colors, or has confidence, or is flashy. But take time to also compliment people on their kindness, their generosity, on their deep hugs, or the way they SEE you. Beauty comes in all forms; sometimes it’s sparkle jackets, and sometimes it’s someone taking thirty minutes to sit with you in their home over coffee to hear your story. Let beauty surprise you, and wrap you in a hug. Soak in it, like you’d soak in a bubble bath.
                -We often see beauty outside, in a rainstorm, a rainbow, or a wonderful view of the ocean, or the way the wind caresses a field of wheat. Take a sacred moment when you see it. Put your palms up, close your eyes, relax your shoulders and take it in. In our go-go-go world we can go so quickly we forget to breathe in these wondrous moments that are glorious. This should be obvious: but don’t do this if you are driving. Instead put on the Jurassic Park soundtrack and enjoy and keep driving.
                -Be grateful for the beauty in your life, I am currently doing the #Last90Days with Rachel Hollis, and each day we write down 10 things we are grateful for in that specific day. It’s a beautiful way to cultivate gratitude for the small beautiful things in your day. Maybe someone smiled at you at work, your husband did the dishes, you got in and crushed that workout, or you saw a butterfly. Paying attention to beauty, helps you see it more often when it pops up in your life.
Job Well Done:
                -People work hard. There are many jobs that go without thanks, but are integral in running our society. Our garbage men, the people who clean the bathrooms, mail folk, ladies at the cash register. All these and more go to do the best they can with what they are able to. Build them up, say thank you and mean it, look them in the eyes. People aren’t machines, and we can’t treat them as such. Use empathy as much as possible.
                -When you asked someone to do it, and they did: I know that when I clean the kitchen and my husband comments on it, I am more likely and more excited to clean it the next day, (although if I had a self-cleaning kitchen I’d be about that life in a heartbeat). Thanking and appreciating someone for something you asked them to do doesn’t demean their work, or negate that you asked. It means you noticed. Say thank you, because they followed through. Building that follow through muscle comes from practice, time, and encouragement.

             PB&J is easy to remember, and simple in practice of it, these are just three ways to encourage those around you, although there are many more. While you do PB&J, Possibilities, Beauty and Job Well Done, don’t forget to do this for yourself as well. When you show up for work, give yourself some appreciation, when you get out of bed, you are facing the day, when you go work out, you are taking care of your body. Tell yourself thank you for showing up for your life and putting in the work. As you give encouragement to those around you, you’ll see more beauty and will live a life more aware of the possibilities around you.

Love God, Love People, Change the World,
And as always Sing your Soul Song Lovelies,
Aj

Saturday, December 23, 2017

On Being Perfect vs. Showing Up

Lovelies,
Last night we had a Red Tent, as we do every month on or near the new moon. It's always an evening of surprises, laughter, tears, and some deep thinking and self check in. Our theme was Becoming and in this Christmas and holiday season we become doers, buyers, shoppers, busier, (all the -er's). But how often do we allow ourselves to just be? I know I don't, or I relax and tell myself it's chill time, and then I watch 3 episodes of the Mentalist and realized I haven't done anything productive for God, me, or my home, and my pups need to go outside (into the cold....whyyyyyyy?).

When we talked last night about Becoming in the tent, we visualized what we were becoming , the woman we are unfurling into . Not that the place we're in now is wrong (unless you're currently driving the wrong way down a one way street, then you should really turn around before you get a ticket), but that there are possibilities to morph into. That you have paths before you that you constantly make choices on. Feeding into this is your dedication (or lack there of, it's not my fault Patrick Jane is all at once smart, witty and gorgeous and I need to find out if him and Lisbon end up together), willingness to grow, and grace. It comes from knowing that life is going to be imperfect, but that it's still worth showing up for, and bathing in some grace for.

Story Time: Elissa and I worked together to put last night's tent together, and we had an activity where the women would step forward and claim what they were becoming, we'd repeat back to them, We see you, we see you becoming ______. We'd all be dressed amazingly, it would snow indoors, and we'd have the magical hanging candles from Hogwarts on the ceiling (no matter that they are CGI, it's magical and important). (Totally reasonable expectations) It would be flawless.
Well, we forgot that adjectives and nouns need different endings, for me, my word was embodied, so we were going to share the word we'd all say in response to change an -ing to an -er or put 'more' in front of it, but in the heat of the moment we forgot, so it became 'becoming more embodied(er), 'strength', became stronger, health, became healther, and we just added -er's to everything. All of us cracking up, and this moment of strength and power and flawlessness became filled with laughter and and grammer groaning. Perfectly imperfect. We showed up none the less, and it was still magical.

In high school I was a pageant girl, and I loved it, the dresses, the fun, the makeup, the heels. A part I took from it as well was to make sure everything looks perfect, your nails, no wrinkles, swimsuit glue, just the right bracelet. I learned so much about presence, and owning your space as well, but sometimes I let the perfection win out.
In my mind: If I can't cook a whole meal every evening of the week, why make one? If I can't run a mile, why run 5 laps? I haven't written a post in my new Laced with Grace Wombanhood page in a month, why should I now? Trying to be/do it all almost becomes a comparison of who I am to who I could have possibly been at this moment, but aren't because I slacked on choices last week, last month, or even two minutes ago (there's no going back, the wine is poured).
Baby bald me saying yeah! Show up! You've got this! Honestly,I didn't say this then, because babies can't speak full sentences. But I'm rooting for you! 
This is where the grace comes in.  It's so easy to think, 'I could have gotten so much done this morning to prep for Christmas', and then call the rest of the day a wash because what's the point, instead of pausing and realizing you can make a different choice now, in this moment. Instead of another 30 minutes scrolling through pinterest (it's my fav, no lies), take 30 minutes to read that book you've had set aside, or put the timer on for 10 minutes to wipe down the counters and put the pot away from making soup the night before (there's totally not a pot on my counter at the moment....). A willingness to grow and do something different is all it takes to become who you want to be and create a ripple effect for change.

Same goes for taking time to dedicate to God; feels like it needs to be perfect, the dogs can't bark, I need to be wearing a perfectly comfy outfit, the right worship music, and if it's not instagram worthy with a mug of hot chocolate next to my bible and colorful pens I just bought from amazon (yay capitalism!) it's not worth doing. This is honestly what I thought this morning, and then Jer and I had a nice little date for lunch and I came home to work on my goals (Power Sheets for the win) and after this, I'm gonna crack open my Bible and read a bit, and art journal whatever I learn for a bit. God just wants us to show up with willing hearts. He doesn't ask for perfection. Which is great, because I have a lot of skills,(dancing, glitter application, mermaid puns, encouragement) hint: perfection isn't one of them.

With God, Red Tents, and life, it's not about being perfect, but a willingness to show up, and to give ourselves grace to make it different, to grow and take steps. Even if it's 10 minutes to wipe down the counters. This is what I'm learning lately, and it's a warm balm for my soul.

To being Laced with Grace,
The Girl who only has 10 episodes left of the mentalist but is totally going to have Bible time before putting netflix back on, and clean that pot on the counter.


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Laced with Grace Wombanhood Welcome Letter

Dear lovely one,
The first time I sat in a Red Tent, I was enthralled. There were four of us present and together we shared a night of songs, stories, and activities woven together with honesty and vulnerability about how we felt about being women. It was magical. One year later, and I am still enthralled. Red Tent  is a place of rest, and deep breaths. Not disregarding our wombs, but an acknowledgement of how we are created. Lacing each other in grace as we share stories: first bleeds, births, miscarriages, and life. Exploring what it means to be an embodied woman, together.

The past few years for me have been about delving into what it means to be a woman with a womb. Is it important? What happens down there, what use is having a cycle? Why do our hormones do crazy things? Why when women gather together does it either feel like coming home, or like a nightmare you don't want to repeat? How do we learn to be embodied women who treat their bodies like the temples that house our souls and the Holy Spirit, while also treating the women around us the same? These were my questions.

You see, I believe we have an amazing God, who stitched us together with more love, kindness, and wonder in his eyes than I can even fathom. I also believe He made women to be powerful beings of love, grace, and strength. And yet, if you’re anything like me, you have apologized for being a woman, probably more than you’ve apologized for anything else. You’ve said your piece, then backed down: blaming it on ‘those pesky PMS hormones’. You reach out, get hurt, and blame your stupid woman tears for embarrassing you. Discarding your opinion by saying ‘never mind’, or ‘it doesn’t matter’, thinking that your voice is less worthy of being heard. All because we have vaginas.

We’ve all been there; female, and frustrated.  Talked down to, ridiculed for being stupid or too smart, or told it’s a good thing we’re pretty. We feel guilty because we have it better than women on the other side of the world - meanwhile our sisters of color carry double this weight; we’re told to not be a distraction, draw too much attention to ourselves, or be too loud.  We can bleed anywhere from 3-9+ days a month, feeling like our uterus is raging a war on us. Endometriosis, miscarriage, and assaults can leave us with more questions than answers. We feel disembodied and disempowered, tired and angry, or our bodies seem angry and we can’t figure out why: if we dare ask questions, we’re told to cover it up, plug it up, pray about it, take pills for it, drink on it, stop being hysterical, and just “calm down.” (And really has that phrase ever made ANYONE calm down? I think not.)   

For so long, believing in God and talking about vaginas has felt like an either/or situation. Asking questions gets a hushed side eye, or a gasp. Discussing pleasure, or birth control leaves you feeling like a heretic, and yet here we are: spiritual beings in bodies that work on a cycle. There are truths, lessons and life to be learned and lived through not just our wombs, but our cycles and in our connections to things greater than us.

So this is my invitation to you, to set aside the lies, shame, the hand packed guilt. To come open minded about what it means to be a spirit led woman. We’ll do art, online red tents, and I’ll post here first about Soul Art, and in person retreats. I’m not going to preach at you, nor suggest you burn your bra; but being a daughter of God, and a woman who cycles, is who I am, and this space is what I bring to you as an offering. 

I’ll be diving in about what our bodies have to teach us; it’s possible I’ll say things you’ll disagree with, or maybe our beliefs don’t align. You are still welcome here. I know without a doubt in my heart that God has brought me to you in this moment.  Spirituality and Vulvas.  It’s a place that has felt like no-man’s land, but I’m letting you know we have a field here, to play in, to grow in, to dance in. Whether you have a womb, or your body no longer participates in hormonal cycles, this is a space for all of us.  A space To hear ‘me too’, to give grace instead of condemnation, to laugh and love and learn together. To lift each other up, instead of tear each other down. So pull up a cushion, pour a hot chocolate, invite a friend, and relax, it’ll be an adventure for sure.To join our online tribe you can find the facebook group Laced with Grace Wombanhood and request to join!

To Laced with Grace Wombanhood: Exploring what it means to be a spirit-led woman through Art, stories, and cycles.

Welcome to our Red Tent.