Defiance Moment

What do we hide from?

We hide from the things we fear.

What do we hide from others?

We hide the deepest truth of our hearts.

We live in a constant state of fear and scarcity, never believing that there will be enough to go around, enough to cover it all. We hold ourselves back from truly diving into life and living authentically because we’re afraid we won’t be accepted as we are or that love is somehow a limited resource that we will lose. So instead, we paint on a face that we think will satisfy the “thems” and “theys” and quietly let our truths and dreams die inside.

But when will the defining moment, or the defiance moment, be the turning point that sets you free? It’s up to you. You are the only one who can decide to look fear in the face and move past it. You are the only one who can choose to push past the discomfort of owning your truth and shed the skin of your pretense to become the person you’re truly meant to be.

It’s in learning to let go of preconceived ideas, subconscious baggage, and the knee jerk response to control that you will find the deepest levels of growth. The only person you own is yourself. The only person you can control is yourself. When we stop trying to control things from a place of fear, we can begin to live from a place of authenticity and experience life in its fullest and most beautiful form.

On the other side of fear is your freedom.

 

 

Better Than I Thought It Would Be

 

And you cannot imagine all the places you’ll see Jesus
But you’ll find Him everywhere you thought He wasn’t supposed to go

… And feel all the hunger, the bellies and the bones
Shout for the prisoner, cry for justice, loud and long
And march with the victims, as Jesus marches on
And sit at all the tables, ’cause Jesus eats with everyone
And dance to the music, if you can’t sing its native tongue
And cry for the wombs, the mothers and the empty arms
And hold high the warriors, fighting now for freedoms’ song

And love, love, love, love
Like it’s your own blood
And love, love, love, love
As you have been loved

I have heard this song before many times. In fact, this whole Nichole Nordeman album, Every Mile Mattered,  landed in my lap like a beautiful gift and a time bomb at the same time and I have gone back to it over and over again since it came out this Summer.

Today though as I listened to this song, I thought about Madison. I thought about the marches I have taken her to, I thought about the way that I am raising her to see God in a completely different way than I knew him when I was her age. Yet at the same time, maybe it’s not completely different after all because the love has never changed, only my perspective has. Where I once saw division and lines, I now see connection and community. Where I once believed that some things were too big for grace to cover, instead I have found that grace is actually an endless, wonderful abyss that I am always falling into.

The only walls that are around our hearts are the ones we build ourselves through fear and pain. Fear has a way of making us choose sides, of clouding our perspective, of creating a need to be right and in turn making others wrong. Pain causes us to shrink into ourselves, to hide ourselves, to not allow and embrace connection and community. But that is never the way it was supposed to be. We need each other, we belong to each other, we are in this crazy, messy, beautiful life together whether we like it or not.

I can look back over the past ten to twelve years of my life and see the various ways life began to create cracks in my “reality.” The more that I learned, the more people that I connected with, the more experiences I had, all began to open my eyes and shake me out of my comfort zones. And the pain … oh the lessons that pain will teach you. Through a marriage of connections and pain, my heart cracked wide open to a world so much bigger than I ever knew.

I can not judge you when I am standing next to you in the trenches of life asking the same questions that you are. I can not judge you when you are extending love and grace to me even when it is undeserved. I can not judge you when you are sharing your raw and authentic self with me. I can not judge you when I sit down at a table with you and share a meal. I can not judge you when I sit at a bar with you and share a beer. I can not judge you when we cry – sometimes you cry, sometimes I cry, sometimes we both cry.

Instead, I have fallen in love with the beautiful imperfection of the souls that are around me and I am pretty sure God is in love with them too.

And so, I am teaching Madison, that we love, love, love as we have been loved. Even when it’s uncomfortable, even when it hurts, even when we are not guaranteed that the other person will love us back quite the same. We love those who are different; we appreciate the beauty and imperfection that is the very soul of what it means to be here in this life and to be human.

And so we march alongside those who share similarities and differences with us because we believe in love, we believe in grace, we believe in connection, we believe in each other.

It’s not what I ever expected Grace to look like, it’s not what I ever expected God to look like – in fact, it is so much better than I thought it would be.

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xo

Leah

The Slow Down

I think of Fall and the way it eases us back into a slower pace, a more scheduled routine, an earlier end to our nights. I think of Madi and how like Nature, she is always pushing me toward the slow down.

She takes her time, she does not comprehend the need for rush or urgency. She has always been this way. I have not. I rush head long into everything. I push myself past my own limitations. For so long I have lived on the edge of urgency even when nothing was truly demanding that type of intensity.

I am learning … I am learning that sometimes it’s best to step back, to reassess and to just be here in this moment allowing myself the time to process without pressure. This is something that I will forever be learning, this is my lesson in this life. To learn patience, to learn trust and to let go of all my preconceived ideas of how life should be.

This morning Madi took it very slow waking up and getting ready; this was hard for me. I used to get really upset. I used to make our mornings more miserable than necessary and set a bad tone for our day out of frustration. She is teaching me and I am listening. She has a tender heart and a gentle spirit. She vibes off of my moods. My stress is not worth her heart. She needs me to send her off into the day feeling peaceful and confident in herself. She does not deserve to feel sad or as if she is doing something wrong because she takes her time.

I am learning to prepare as much as I can beforehand to minimize morning stress and just let the rest go. I would love to be at work a half an hour early but for now that is not my reality – let it go. I would love to eat breakfast before I leave the house, who has time? – let it go. I would love to stop for coffee on the way, that ain’t happening – let it go. All of these things really don’t matter in the grande scheme of things but she does.

In the same way, I feel that life is pointing me into the slow down. Sometimes suddenly and other times gradually it is awakening me to the fact that so much of my stress and anxiety are self inflicted. Perfect isn’t reality and sometime good enough really is enough. Why the rush? When I rush I am actually missing out on the moments and that’s where life is, in the moments. 

Growth takes time, I can not rush the process. Slowly, steadily life unfolds and I really have no control of it after all.

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Pause … Step Back … Breathe …

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Pause … Step Back … Breathe …

I am by nature, a very sensitive person; I care deeply, I feel deeply, I love deeply. However, I have a hard time staying calm and composed in the face of disappointment and difficulty. Right next to my sensitive side stands my Type A side – so basically, I am a sensitive control freak. Lovely … I know.

I am intense. very intense but this doesn’t always serve me well. In fact, sometimes I end up tripping over myself because I don’t take the time to step back, calm down, and assess the situation for what it really is. Instead, I am quick to jump to conclusions and assume things that are not true and you all know what they say about assuming …

A good friend recently challenged me to focus on taking the high road in emotionally charged situations. This has been a huge mental shift for me – it is not about making my point, it is not about being right, it is not about controlling outcomes, instead, it is about doing what is right even when it hurts. Right doesn’t always mean it is going to feel right for me or that I am going to like it in the moment. Sometimes I have to do what is right for someone else.

It is easy to remain calm when all is well and things feel certain. It is far more difficult to stay calm and composed when you are facing challenge and uncertainty; but, that is when you need it the most. Every day, we are faced with challenges we can not control.  The only thing that we have control over is our reaction.

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It is not easy, I am still learning, I still fail, but my hope is that over time,

I will learn to Let Go and Trust the Process.

I hope that soon it will become second nature for me to,

Pause … Step Back … Breathe.

And to move forward from a place of Peace rather than a place of fear …

Love & Peace to you! 

xo

Leah

The Happiness Choice

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Some one commented to me the other night that I laugh a lot, I agreed. I love to laugh and I don’t hold back. When it comes to happiness, I am all in. I have learned though that I choose happiness, it’s a decision I make every day to focus on the good and let go of the negative. In the moments when life is kicking you down and your emotions are in overdrive, that’s when you have to focus your mind, breathe, and let go. There are so many reason to be happy, to be grateful, and to find beauty all around you. I am not going to pretend that I don’t have moments where I am shaken to the core and feel like collapsing on the floor; however, it is in those moments that I let myself have a good internal scream or “phone a friend” but then I move on. Life is meant for living fully alive and yes, sometimes that is going to be extremely, gut wrenchingly painful, but the emotions will pass and the season will change. I’d rather ride out the waves with a smile on my face then to let myself drowned in self pity and fear. Happiness is choice I make every day to control my emotions, let go of the things I can not change, and trust the process.

“Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it. You have to participate relentlessly in the manifestations of your own blessings. And once you have achieved a state of happiness, you must never become lax about maintaining it. You must make a mighty effort to keep swimming upward into that happiness forever, to stay afloat on top of it.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

Choosing Happiness is liberating! When you realize you determine your own happiness, you are set free to live a life of joy that is not determined by anyone but yourself. People change, circumstances change, and nothing goes according to plan but that doesn’t mean you have to give in and give up. Maybe the path of brokenness you are on is leading you to more happiness than you ever dreamed possible. We like to plan life in a nice, neat, and straight line and when it zig zags off the mental map that we have created it tends to send us into a panic. Take a moment, let yourself panic, but don’t stay there! Pause, and find a place of happiness in the midst of the mental chaos. Choose to fight for your own happiness, whatever that may be.

  • Find things that promote your happiness
  • Lose the negativity
  • Surround yourself with positive people
  • Take pleasure in the simple moments
  • Breathe out toxic emotions
  • Let go

“I’m choosing happiness over suffering, I know I am. I’m making space for the unknown future to fill up my life with yet-to-come surprises.” – Elizabeth Gilbert

XO,

Leah

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Letting Go of Expectations

My expectations have always been high –  Now there is most certainly something to be said for always being hopeful, always expecting the best; but, there is also the matter of holding on to unrealistic expectation. There is an element of “magical thinking” that helps us to move forward, to imagine greater things are possible, and even at times, motivates us to accomplish things that we would otherwise be unable to do. I most certainly believe that there is power in positive thinking, however, I often forget to take into account that some things are just not in my control.

Not all of our expectations are realistic. It’s realistic and necessary to have expectations but it’s critical for them to have a basis.  – Natalie Lue

The problem with expectations though is that it leads to …

1. Guilt – Feeling that your not doing enough, being enough, or giving enough. Second guessing yourself, self doubt.

2. Placing high expectations on others – It is unfair to expect everyone to hold the same ideals and views that you do. Yes, we should all treat each other with mutual respect but that’s where the expectations must end. 

When you make someone else wrong, you hold the energy of needing to correct, convince, control ,or change someone else. Someone should “be or do” the way you expect. Blaming, complaining, or condemning becomes acceptable. When you make yourself wrong, you hold thoughts of how you should be, and end up feeling not good enough. We now see ourselves and others as objects or problems that need to be fixed.

Carolyn Hidalgo

It is time to change the way that you view yourself, the change as a whole, starts within. When I let go of expectations that I place on myself and instead focus on doing the best that I can with what I have, in turn I can extend more grace and understanding to those around me. Letting go of expectations requires letting go of control. I want to fix everything, fit everything nicely and neatly, make everything pretty –  But that’s not life! I can not force outcomes, I can not “fix” people. I can only choose how I will react in any given situation and Let Go …

If the desire to control is a central issue in unhappiness, then accepting a lack of control is the solution.

– William Berry

Expectations are prisons that we live in and create for others to live in. Expectations create guilt, fear of failure, disappointment, and disillusionment. We need to learn to love ourselves and trust that we are worthy of love so that in turn, we can love others despite the fact that they may not, most likely will not, live up to our ideals. We are here for love and connection – but in order to find and maintain meaningful connection with those we love, we have to let go of our preconceived ideas of how things “should” go and instead allow life to happen as it is meant to. We must extend the same measure of grace, compassion, and love to others  that we desire even if it is not returned. Stop drowning yourself and others in expectations – Let us instead live with love and the freedom to disappoint one another at times because after all, we are only human.

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Much Love with no strings attached! 😉

Leah