Anything is Possible!

With Faith, Hope and Perseverance


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Serving at Cursillo: a Spiritual Weekend

 

Trinity Center pond

My weekend was intense, busy, and very social. I knew it would be outside my comfort zone, but I was asked to be on the music team, and I wanted to give back for all the blessings I’ve received. Leaning heavily toward introversion, I’m more comfortable finding my spiritual moments alone in quiet places, but thankfully, I found God in many varied moments during my four days serving at “EC 95” (The 95th Cursillo weekend of the East Carolina Episcopal Diocese.)

Cursill is a three day adventure for 20 pilgrims who are there to learn about Christian leadership and to be loved and served by the team. One of the common experiences shared by pilgrims was a deeper relationship with Jesus and one another. As a team member serving the pilgrims, I felt this deepening, too. Even with the lack of sleep from late nights and early mornings, even with my occasional discomfort from being around  many people who I didn’t know well, I felt the deepening. I felt the love for people who became family.

It helped that our Cursillo weekend was held at Trinity Center, a place close to nature and close to my heart, where they build around the trees.

Tree in deck

Trinity is an Episcopal retreat center nestled on the North Carolina coast between Bogue Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.

Sunset at Sander's Point (2)

ocean from the pavilion

One of my favorite places at Trinity Center, besides the beach….  and the sound….. and the pond….

pond throug trees (3)

Trinity Center pond

…is the tunnel that runs under the main road and leads to the beach.

tunnel sign

tunnel entrance

tunnel with turtle

The tunnel is a great place to sing. Imagine the echo. Or is it called reverb?

On Friday afternoon, as I walked the wooded road to my room during a short break, I stopped to admire the light shining through the leaves ahead.

path of connection with Mom and Dad (2)

It was here that I felt the powerful and undeniable presence of my parents. They “told” me (in feelings more than words) of their joy that I was there serving with my husband, and that they are proud of us both. My parents had a long history of ministry in soup kitchens and working with veterans. This is the first time I’ve felt them both together since my father died in January. The confirmation that they are together still makes my heart sing.

djembe purple background

I finally got me a Djembe!

And I did a lot of singing at Cursillo. As part of the music team, I sang, played my guitar, and got to experiment with the new drum I bought for this occasion.

Cursillo music is mostly folksy with some contemporary praise songs. When somebody requested “Wade In the Water,” we had to hunt for the music because it wasn’t on our song list. But it turned out to be such a big hit, we sang this powerful spiritual three times during the weekend. This article explains that “Harriet Tubman used the song “Wade in the Water” to tell escaping slaves to get off the trail and into the water to make sure the dogs slavecatchers used couldn’t sniff out their trail.” 

The following arrangement, while different than the simple version we sang, gives a feeling close to what I felt during our closing service singing with about 50 people and three guitars as I kept a strong, steady beat on my drum.

In spite of the intensity, I’m thankful to have served at EC 95. But some day,  I want to go to Trinity Center just to relax. I bet I’ll do some singing and wading, too.

Silver beach (2)


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How To Learn a New Skill

practice-breathe-from-pixabay

How long does it take to write a book? Apparently, it takes a long time, for me anyway. I’ve always been a slow reader, so I guess it makes sense I’d be a slow writer. But good things take time, right? I thought I knew how to write, and I did well on  college papers and in journalism. Creative writing is a whole different animal – with wings, and squawks, and smells, and feathers, so it must be a bird of a different color.

But how does one become a writer, or anything else?

PRACTICE.

Writing is a skill like any other. Some people may be naturally better at it than others, but with practice, we can improve at anything. I’m terrible and learning to tie knots and things mechanical, but that just means I need more practice at those things than the average person – if that’s how I want to spend my time.

I spent a lot of time as a substance abuse/mental health counselor, at least 30 years as you may know. Asking how something happened, like a relapse for example, was important. What was the chain of events, or thoughts, that led to the relapse? Many of my clients desperately wanted to stay clean, but didn’t know how. You can tell someone to stop doing drugs, or stop eating potato chips, or stop smoking, in all kinds of ways. But some people really need skills. Skills like self-soothing (without illegal drugs) and assertiveness, self-care, meditation and relaxation, going into a new support group, applying for a job, helping family members or friends understand why they don’t want to be part of the drama anymore, and accepting when they still don’t understand – just to name a few.

How long does it take to learn new skills?

It depends on how often we practice.

Changing thoughts is a skill. I can still get caught up in ruminating about things I should have done better, or worrying about how someone is going to react to my boundaries. It takes a conscious effort sometimes to pull my mind back to the present moment. Asking myself, “Why do I keep doing that?” doesn’t help as much as, “How can I stop doing that?”  Or better yet, How can I catch myself sooner and re-direct my thoughts?

Sometimes I use sticky notes to remind myself to be in the present, or think positive. Sometimes I ask God to help me stop thinking about something that isn’t doing me any good to think about. One of my favorite things to ask God is, “How do you want me to handle this?” Sometimes I get an answer, like, “love her,” like when my daughter was 13 and melting down. Or sometimes the answer is, “wait.” Sometimes there doesn’t seem to be an answer, but I know God is going to help me work it out somehow.

SOCS

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt is the word, “how,” brought to us by Linda G. Hill at https://lindaghill.com/2017/02/24/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-2517/ who instructed us to “Start your post with the word “How.” Bonus points if you end with it too. Enjoy!

Here are the rules:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top. NOTE: Pingbacks only work from WordPress sites. If you’re self-hosted or are participating from another host, such as Blogger, please leave a link to your post in the comments below.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


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Positive Reframing

Harlon, at “A Patient Voice” invited me to share my positive re-framing of his list here, and after my morning stream of consciousness, I realized I could use a dose of my own medicine.

So here it is:

Start now, as you remind yourself.

To do things that are good for you.

Take steps, now.

Before a crash that may not come

Before the fall that offers rest

Take things with a grain of salt although it may be hard.

Be your unique and wonderful self, although it’s hard sometimes.

Live free from the trap.

Leave well enough alone. (Let it Be.)

Nurture your spiritual and mental well-being.

Take care and be well.

Walk forward now

For now belongs to you.

I am frequently moved by Harlon’s honesty and his big heart. If you haven’t been to his blog, check it out: https://apatientvoice.com/


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The Girl on the Right

“It’s never too late to have a happy childhood.”

Regardless of the past, it is possible to embrace our free spirits, to have faith and trust our playfulness, to have more and more moments of joy!

Loving Me, Too

Be the girl on the right

For most of my life, I’ve felt like the girl in the middle – watching, worrying, and wondering if I can do that, and if I can do it the right way. If I had ever taken ballet, I would definitely have been her, because learning choreographed dance moves has always been hard for me. It took me years and extra practice to even learn the simple Electric Slide. Once I learn it, I have it down pretty good, though.

Let me go practice that slide, to make sure……. Well, I might need a refresher.

Occasionally, I’ve been like the girl in between the middle girl (the old me) and the girl on the right, the one who is doing it correctly. I love the approval I get when I’m a “good girl.”

But I’ve rarely been the girl on the right. Oh, I’ve thought about it, imagined doing things…

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An Unexpected Perk

SOC badge with butterfly

Yesterday, my friend told me that when you get to be 65, you can take a class at the university for free!  She didn’t know if it would count toward college credit or be an audit, but who cares?

This is something to look forward to! I could take an art class for free at the university level in five years! I took a couple of art classes in college many, many years ago, but now, I’m so much more ready!

The experience and guidance I’ve gotten over the past couple months working on the Forest of Dreams mural has been sort of like taking an art class for free. If you haven’t seen my post about the Forest of Dreams mural, please take a look. I think you’ll like it.

Update: I talked to someone from the university. The classes might not be free, but there is a discount.

Today’s Stream of Consciousness prompt was the word:  “class”

You don’t need to take a class to join the Stream of Consciousness, just visit Linda Hill:

The Friday Reminder and Prompt for #SoCS June 18/16

Here are the rules for SOC Saturday:

1. Your post must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing, (typos can be fixed) and minimal planning on what you’re going to write.

2. Your post can be as long or as short as you want it to be. One sentence – one thousand words. Fact, fiction, poetry – it doesn’t matter. Just let the words carry you along until you’re ready to stop.

3. There will be a prompt every week. I will post the prompt here on my blog on Friday, along with a reminder for you to join in. The prompt will be one random thing, but it will not be a subject. For instance, I will not say “Write about dogs”; the prompt will be more like, “Make your first sentence a question,” “Begin with the word ‘The’,” or simply a single word to get your started.

4. Ping back! It’s important, so that I and other people can come and read your post! For example, in your post you can write “This post is part of SoCS:” and then copy and paste the URL found in your address bar at the top of this post into yours.  Your link will show up in my comments for everyone to see. The most recent pingbacks will be found at the top.

5. Read at least one other person’s blog who has linked back their post. Even better, read everyone’s! If you’re the first person to link back, you can check back later, or go to the previous week, by following my category, “Stream of Consciousness Saturday,” which you’ll find right below the “Like” button on my post.

6. Copy and paste the rules (if you’d like to) in your post. The more people who join in, the more new bloggers you’ll meet and the bigger your community will get!

7. As a suggestion, tag your post “SoCS” and/or “#SoCS” for more exposure and more views.

8. Have fun!


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Reflections on Authenticity

Authenticity has been on my mind lately. Michael Moore at “Embracing Forever” affirms my walk. Re-blogging with gratitude.

Embracing Forever

Authenticity is not unveiled in a swoop of the cape.  That only goes to show the last few days or hours or minutes– whatever the length of time has been since the previous flourish of unveiling– have been inauthentic.  What the flourish reveals is the port of entry to our truth’s harbor.  You enter by submarine.  Your instruments have failed.  The ballast is leaking and the batteries are dead.  The hull is creaking and popping in a very unsettling way, and you settle on the bottom of the harbor on a barge of sand.

(You wait for Hafiz to knock on the air lock!)

Authenticity is what we emerge with.  We need a lifetime to get down to it, and often even the moments of our most uncomfortable vulnerability and of our most passionate honesty are but preludes.  But we can’t know that until we have them.  Without them we would…

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