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Alone For The Holiday

Happy Independence Day!

I am sitting in my living room watching the news, reading Facebook and drinking my morning cup of joe.  It has been a good weekend!  I shared dinner with my good friend and her husband Friday night.  Saturday was spent cleaning my garage.  Sunday morning was spent worshiping and then finishing up my garage and doing laundry.  Sunday night, I watched The Help. (Fabulous movie if you haven’t seen it. I know I am a little behind the times.) When I climbed into bed last night, I opened the blinds in my bedroom and was able to watch the fireworks at the mall across the street, from the cool, coziness of my bed.  (One of my favorite things about my townhouse.)  Today, I am defrosting my freezer (it’s an old freezer), working on paper work, preparing food for my week’s worth of lunches and maybe I’ll watch another good movie tonight.  (I love movies!)

Notice in my list of holiday weekend activities there is no mention of family picnics, parades, parties, gatherings, my sons, my parents… It is pretty much just Risa (my 13 year old Cavachon) and I hanging out and getting things done around my house in hopes of bringing some semblance of order to my little sanctuary I call home!  For me, this weekend is not about celebrating it is about ordering my world.

I have spent many holidays alone since my divorce 13 years ago.  Some have been hard, others have been harder and I continually challenge myself regarding this phenomenon.  My grandma used to say that a holiday is just another day.  It doesn’t matter when you celebrate or if you celebrate.  It really is about relationships, not the day.  So, I continually remind myself of this wise Grandma fact. Today, July 4, 2016 is just another day.

Grandma’s advice served my family well as I was growing up.  My dad was a firefighter/EMT.  He worked 24 hours on and had 48 hours off.  As a result, we didn’t have Dad around on many holidays.  We had to celebrate on different days and in different ways.  We did this a lot.  I remember the year we ate Thanksgiving dinner at Fire Station #6 with the other firefighters and their families.  It was a big potluck and we celebrated as best we could in such tight quarters with 6 men and their families.  It was great but certainly not the traditional Thanksgiving Dinner that many were celebrating.  Funny, it is one of the few Thanksgivings of which I have pretty clear memories. That is probably because there was nothing ‘traditional’ about it.  (Other than the turkey!)

As I spend this holiday weekend alone it would be easy to sit and feel sorry for myself. (As I re-read the above, I guess I would feel sorry for me! How festive is cleaning the garage?!)  But, I learned a long time ago that we need to live deliberately and with intention.  I am alone this weekend, but because my relationships are important to me I have made future plans to celebrate the relationships that are most special to me.  You see, next weekend I will be traveling back to Cedar Falls to celebrate Mom’s 80th birthday with her and Dad. The next weekend, Brad and Steve will be coming to West Des Moines to celebrate their 31st and 28th birthdays, respectively.  I have two wonderful weekends to celebrate the relationships that are most important to me.  Although I can’t be with them all today, I have intentionally made plans that I am looking forward to this month.  I am actually really excited about the next two weekends. Those plans made with my family have helped fill me up this weekend so that I can get things done around home rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself.

I am sharing this all with you because I know there are many who find being alone on the holidays to be difficult.  I get it.  I would just challenge you to think ahead and make a plan or two.  If you want to celebrate, make it happen. Host a gathering.  Invite family/friends to meet for dinner.  Don’t wait to be invited, do the inviting.  And, if it doesn’t work to celebrate on the holiday itself, then plan ahead.  Pick a day in the future to gather with those you love. Organize, connect, and figure it out.  If it is important to you, make it happen!

Above all else, don’t get wrapped up in the calendar.  A holiday is just another day. Celebrations are about celebrating relationships with the people who are important to us. Not the day.  Make a new tradition.  Create a new reason for celebration.  Be the master of your festive energy and find something good to do on the actual day so that the joy of taking care of you and your home (or someone else’s) fills an otherwise lonely day.

Happy Independence Day to you all!  I pray your day is filled with all that you need – not what our culture says you need – but what you need!  Make it happen!

Posted in Holidays, Living a Happy Life, Love, Relationships.

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Mother’s Day…not always a celebration

I believe that God created women to build relationships.  Although relationships are important to men, they are often times central to a woman’s life.  To many woman, relationships are sometimes the most important things in life.  As a result, Mother’s Day can be a difficult day for many women.

For some, their mother is no longer here.  The grief of loosing your mom and longing for that close friend to be here again can feel overwhelming.  Mother’s day is just another reminder of their precious loss.

For others, they experience a grief over the loss of the mother they always needed but never had.  There are women who were given the gift of children and yet they didn’t know what to do with them.  Because of abuse or neglect, children look at Mother’s Day as a time of grief because they have no-one to celebrate.

Some mother’s have endured the loss of a child through death.  Many will describe the death of a child as one of the greatest losses a person can experience.  Mother’s Day can be a reminder of such a great loss.

Other women find Mother’s Day reminding them of the children they always wanted to mother but never had a chance.  There is grief over the loss of an opportunity to mother and love a child.  Childlessness can be a unique sense of loss that resurfaces on Mother’s Day leaving a heart feeling broken and filled with anguish.

There are also those who grieve an estranged relationship with their mother or their children.  Broken relationships can also cause an overwhelming sense of grief.  Knowing that their loved one is just beyond reach brings a sense of sadness on Mother’s Day that others may not recognize.

On a day created for celebrating motherhood, let’s remember all of our sisters who may be experiencing sadness on this day.  My prayer is that God will fill all women with just what they need to feel loved and loving on Mother’s Day.  May losses be grieved honorably but not given a focus of defining life.  May God bring us peace of heart and mind as we find joy amongst the sadness and love in all of our relationships.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my sisters!

Posted in Holidays, Love, Relationships.

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The 4P’s of Emotional Management

Sometimes emotions feel like a powerful force….like a tsunami of emotions that blow over us and consume us in what feels like uncontrollable ways.  I believe that our emotions are perfect.  God can and does communicate with us by using our emotions.  He can tell us about our relationships, situations and surroundings with our emotions.  But, because of our past experiences in life, we may interpret our emotions in an inaccurate or incomplete way.  In other words, our life experiences get in the way of what God is trying to communicate to us.

If we begin to understand our emotions and follow God’s advice of experiencing our emotions we can begin to interpret our emotional experiences in a more healthy way.  We need to begin to identify the emotion.  Then, we can CHOOSE an action to that emotion rather than having a REACTION to what is being felt.

To do this…I have come up with a 4 P’s plan of action to help manage and interpret emotions….

1)     Pace – often emotions are bound up in a lot of adrenaline and energy.  You need to burn this off and reengage the language center in your brain.  (The language and processing center of the human brain shuts down when there is a perceived threat to a person’s wellbeing and adrenaline starts to flow.)  So Pace – burn off some of that energy.  While pacing make sure that you breathe deeply into your diaphragm in a slow and complete way.  These two things will help convince your brain that you are not in eminent physical danger and your brain starts being human again and reengages your language/processing center.

2)    Pray – now that your language/processing center is reengaged you have words to use and you can pray.  You can begin to speak and listen with words and process the language involved, while asking for God’s guidance and direction in regards to what you are to be learning from the emotions that you are experiencing.

3)    Process – After prayer, you can now begin to process what you are feeling through the lens of your experiences with God’s guidance.  Ask yourself, “What am I feeling?”  “Are these feelings having to do with current situations or is there an element to my past that is clouding my lens?”  “In which way do I feel God nudging me?”   It may take a number of hours/days/weeks before you feel you’ve completed the processing step.

4)    Proceed – When you feel that you have a clearer picture of what your feelings are and what they are trying to tell you, you are now in a position to proceed.  You need to choose an ACTION rather than having a REACTION to your feelings.   What will you choose to do with the feelings that you are experiencing?  What choice will be good and honorable to support your position and lessons learned?

 

To help you learn and process more about your feelings, think and journal about the following questions.

A)    Which feelings do I turn loose?  What are my triggers?  What am I afraid of if I experience my feelings?

B)    What feelings do I deny or stuff away?  Aren’t they important?  Aren’t they worthy of my time and attention?  When I deny my feelings do I ever experience a time in the future when they seem to bubble up and flow out from nowhere spilling out on the people around me?

C)    Or do I… bring my emotions to God?  Do I talk to God about what I am feeling?  Do I ask him what to do with these feelings?  Am I honest with him AND myself?

 

 

Posted in Living a Happy Life, Relationships.

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