It’s a pair of shoes… PINK SHOES…

It all started with a pair of shoes…

These are THE shoes that started it all.

These are THE shoes that started it all.

It was a classically stormy SUMMER day on a drive to Seattle, when I stopped to buy a SPECIFIC pair of Sketchers.  Now I did buy those shoes but then started to say… It would also be nice to have a good pair of dress shoes… Anyone else have that experience where ONE simple shopping trip turns into a mega purchase instead of JUST THAT ONE Item?  But alas this post is not about my shopaholic tendencies.  After the Dress shoes were acquired, that little inner voice says, “If you are gonna be doing ALL that NEW walking you are going to NEED actually runner type shoes.. the ones you have hurt your feet.” Insert DEEEP sigh here.  The inner voice for once was right, I DID want to do more walking and ALL 4 pairs of my current tennis shoes were not cutting it.

As I began to walk the shelves of running shoes, I INSTANTLY became overwhelmed in NEW uncharted territory.  So many choices, so many options, and the PRICE tags drove my blood pressure to new heights IMPRESSING upon me I COULDN’T afford a pair of $100 shoes that were going to sit in my closet.  I began to think, I CAN’T make this decision today; I need input from some EXPERTS, I have to AT least Facebook it or message a few friends I KNOW are runners for advice.  THEN I SAW THEM… The brightest PINK Shoes you have EVER seen, as the comic relief part of my brain took over and shouted, “NOW THERE’s some shoes you would NEVER Buy…” Having a moment of levity I actually chuckled out loud.

For those of you playing from outside the realm of KNOWING me… You have to understand I HATE pink.  I don’t care that it is the champion color for a great cause that I should support with every fiber of my being.  I don’t care that it has been the champion anthem colorant of my gender, I have had a total rebellion against ANYTHING girlie for as far back as I can possibly remember.  At women’s luncheons where the theme is wear ONE item of pink, I come dressed in ALL black as a statement.  I JUST DO.  So to even CONSIDER an item of clothing or footwear of the PINK variety is very contrary to one of my life’s missions.

“…You have been doing A LOT of things you would have never done before these days…” Says an ENTIRELY different voice.  One with way more wisdom and authority.  So my only response is to think YES… YES I HAVE. And with that I grab the BRIGHT PINK shoes off the shelf to try them on.  AND If that wasn’t ENOUGH I see a picture of Jillian Michaels on the side of the box, OH GREAT just ANOTHER reason I would NEVER buy these shoes.  I HATE feeding the Marketing machine, and she stresses me out just WATCHING her on TV let alone imagining her as my trainer.  I would fall apart in an instant; I don’t do well with being yelled at.  But at this point I am determined.

And as I am taking them to the bench to try them on I see they are K-Swiss brand.  This is their ONE saving grace… I LOVE K-Swiss shoes, 3 of the 4 pairs of worn out shoes I have are K-Swiss.  So I have mentally bought the shoes before they have EVEN hit my feet; at which point I am REALLY hoping they will even fit and feel good.

AS EXPECTED, they are like a dream on my feet.  Soft, squishy, plenty of room and I actually FEEL sporty wearing them.  As a last-ditch moment of anxiety I pray, “Please Lord don’t let this be a mistake.”  There I go THREE boxes of shoes in hand to the register, they are MY shoes NOW.

Mental Body Image – Creatively Active Imagination

There is this thing called mental body image… how do I in my mind’s eye SEE myself?  There have been discussions and discussions about girls, ladies, women and their low self-esteem or poor self-image.  That this battle between how they look and how they value that image in their mind’s eye results in eating disorders, depression, cutting, suicide, and many other destructive outlets.  So many of us discourage negative talk about our own bodies, and attempt to reinforce a positive self-talk about our beauty and value. 

But as I embarked on this journey of weight loss I challenged myself to look at my real body image, and I discovered something rather interesting.  For me I have had the same view of myself for years and years and years. I have pictured myself on the inside completely different from I appear on the outside.  For me the mental image, I have seared in my mind’s eye hasn’t changed in almost 15 years or longer.  It does not change with my weight, the fashions, my hair style, or even my skin tone.  My mind has the same picture representing who I am year after year.  It’s almost like I have created an avatar in my mind about who I look like and who I am. 

My Mind's Eye View

I can even see this character engaging in conversations with groups of people when I am trying to anticipate how a situation will go.  This same image appears when I dream (on the rare occasions) and when I fantasize about my future life with God, goals, and a guy. 

The picture on my blog is an illustration by one of my favorite artists, Ron DiCianni.  If you are not sure if you have seen his work, please click here for a sampling of his work Google Images.  And some how that image of that woman just stuck with me.  I think there may be adaptations in my head, but she is fairly close to the avatar I think my mind has created. I do not see myself as glamorous, hot, model status, but more average in almost every way; maybe what my heart believes I look like without the weight.  Or possibly the woman I have always wanted to live up to in what my psyche sees as attractive, good, presentable, sweet, and desirable.  But the fascinating thing is how this image doesn’t change. 
 

Even though I look in the mirror every day and I get naked to try on clothes; the reality of me physically in real life does not impact the image in my head.  Which I believe is why I can be so confident at times.  That I can forget about how my looks do not measure up, and stand tall with my minds image firmly in place to take on the world.  It is definitely not intentional, and I do not always see the image when I am being bold or fighting my insecurities.  But I do know at times this internal representation of myself has made it easier for me to present who I am to the world with confidence.  It has brought me a way in which to battle the ever clamouring voice of insecurity stating how I am not pretty enough, attractive enough, or even acceptable enough to be some place because of my outside looks.  So is it any wonder that I like forgetting what I look like as soon as I walk away from the mirror? 

I wonder at times if this is the reason I have not cared to focus on losing weight?  If my avatar is healthy and energetic and positive and pretty and that is who I see myself as… is there any wonder why losing weight has not been a deep-seated priority?

It also brings to mind a deeper question that in itself makes me worry.  If it is so easy for me to accept this avatar as the image of myself and it is a distorted view of reality (or is a complete fantasy not based in reality) in my head; how do I know for certain that I am not generating more wrong interpretations of reality?  How can I be sure anything else I interpret in my mind is TRUE in reality and not just a fabrication of my all to creatively active imagination?

Some Days a Dream is Just a Dream… Right? Part 2

Some where else in the town, I could see people talking about the small black cloud hovering over a small corner of the kingdom. The wise ones said it was because someone had used magic but not the way they were suppose to. Others thought it was a great invasion of evil into this preciously protected place. And all the people young and old alike started rushing around as if preparing for a great hurricane, closing windows and preparing rooms for some grand disaster. Somehow, I knew I was to blame, but I didn’t know what I had done. I tried to remember what I had said to get there, but I wasn’t even sure I knew where THERE was. 

As I wandered outside the classroom, things seemed calmer and most everyone was treating it like just another overcast day going about their lives as normal. I was truly in awe observing all the colors and clarity of this place, how peaceful and joyful it felt. As I seemed to glide down the street, I couldn’t help but notice I was in a simple, sweet princess style dress complete with ribbons, and ruffles. Something I would NEVER feel comfortable in here in reality; but in this place it was sheer beauty and grace. When I came upon the market, I was thrilled to see such pretty things, and to be honest besides cooking, my favorite form of therapy is the retail variety, so this market was a complete joy to see, especially with all the colors. 

I think I had just run my hand across the second table of items, when I heard a familiar and comforting voice, “You and

Purely for Reference

your pretty things.” With the grace and cliché of most fantastical stories, he put his arm around my waist and spun me around, sweeping me into his arms in an embrace followed by a dance step or two through the market. “It was you wasn’t it?” He asked with a knowing grin, and squinting eyes. “What…” was my only response, attached to a soft and innocent tone.  He was as close to taller than me, dark, and handsome as my imagination can create, but he looked strikingly like Skeet Ulrich (my brain does not usually dream up real people). 

“It was you that used the magic that brought in the darkness?”

With a sad and sorrowful look I replied, “I didn’t mean to. I just wanted to see you, I wanted to be with you, I wanted to feel you want me, again. I wanted to feel the smile I have when I see you looking at me.  I guess I just wanted it so deeply and so strongly, I didn’t realize I had wished it until I was here. And then I didn’t know what to do.”

“You know I want you to be here. You know I want to swing you in my arms all day long.” With two more turns he swung me to the other side of the market. “But you know it’s not time yet.  That this place is not ready to have you yet and it is not time yet for us to be together.  There are things you have to finish over there. You know there are things that you have to fix before we can be together.” My nodding was the only reply I could muster. “You and I will be together soon; but you must finish what you started first.” And with much pain and regret, I lowered my head with great sadness knowing all to clearly and confidently, he was right. 

As a parting statement he says, “I will take care of the darkness, but you need to return now.”

And with the closest of embraces, I closed my eyes and awoke from my sleep. And with the expression somewhere close to, “Oh wow” spoken in a sleepy amazed state, I tried to start my day. 

The feelings that enveloped me are hard to describe with my limited vocabulary; but if you have ever awoke from a deep sleep with a blanket of emotional warmth embracing you in a satisfied nurturing peace, that begins to describe my waking state.

Some Days a Dream is Just a Dream… Right?

I am not a dreamer. I don’t usually sit and retell the times when I had a dream about… My dreams are usually here for a flash, an instant, and glimpse into one scene, one picture, one feeling and then they are gone. I think I have had 6 dreams in my whole life that I remember the details (not that they made sense) and could retell them past the morning after. They have been incredibly strong their message to my soul and they carry over into my feelings even towards people in my real life. Even as I am pondering this, I know this is one dream, I really should write down. Because today while camping, I awoke with the most compelling dream I have had in a great great while.

What is it about dreams that you can never seem to remember the beginning? I am trying to grasp the beginning of my dream this morning and it is just not there, but the final scene is. I am walking through a small town market, like a Saturday market style place only smaller. I am walking with none other than Skeet Ulrich (yes I have seen my fair share of Jericho and the character they made him in that television show will forever be seared into my memory; but its been at least a year or so since my last sneak peek.) Regardless, it is him and we are a THING, walking hand in hand, laughing at things, basking in the sunshine, and absorbing what seems like magic in the air. When I pause for a moment and ask the all too important question I do in most of my dreams… How did I get here?

An Amazing View

It is in this moment, that I start to feel the sense of magic and fantasy as I look at the scenery behind me and realize I didn’t just show up here or walk there or arrive in a car, but I actually just appeared in this place-the town, the classroom, the market.  This whole place was a world set apart from the reality that I was from (that the dreaming me was from).   And as my dream-self was looking around past the tables and the trinkets of the market I began to see the scene unfold as if from Prince Caspian or Lord of the Rings and in this magical place my dream-self was not supposed to be there. I realize that I had done something… something I was not supposed to do.

I had made a wish. I had wished to be with him. My dream-self had been in that dreaded reality that was full of responsibilities, facts, jobs, work, pain, and loneliness.  And all I had wanted was to be in this amazing joyful carefree place with him again.  Living in that place where my laughs were heard by someone who cared ever so deeply for me and my heart.  I wanted to remove the feel of the real world and be amidst the magic and wonder that this other mysterious place always seemed to offer.  So I wished to be with him again, be where he was, feel his touch again, and feel the smile on my face as I look at him.  And in those simple thoughts and maybe even the smallest of whispers I wished it. And with that simplest of wants, smallest of wishes… I appeared there in that place. 

I began this walk in a classroom, wandering the rows of desks, being reminded of pleasant times teaching, with laughing children, and positive learning. I seemed to glide across the floor with each step, but not out-of-place from everyone else in this place.  I was not a foreigner here in this place, the people knew me, accepted me, and even welcomed my presence, unaware that I was NOT supposed to be there.  They did not know it was me that was wrong, but there was something wrong in this place.  And I knew as much as I desired to be here I was the one out-of-place.

To be continued…

Genesis 4:6 – Cain missed the Lesson

For some reason, I seem to identify with the characters in the Bible that get into trouble.  Now not the ones like David, Jezebel, Ananias and Sapphira; but more the ones that get criticized or reprimanded: Martha, Peter, Cain.  So today’s reading seems a little appropriate.

“You will be accepted if you do what is right. But if you refuse to do what is right, then watch out! Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.”

 There has always been something about Cain (pre-murder) that I have identified with. I am not sure if it is the constant feeling I have that I haven’t done ENOUGH, that brings that identification. OR it could be that more times in my life I did things wrong (not what God wanted) when I thought they were right (close enough).  And finally there is feeling like I have always seem to end up in 2nd place and that is a BAD place to be.  I mean I heard all growing up, “There is only 1 winner, there is no 2nd best.”  So if some gets praise higher than mine, I must be the loser.  I know a few pretty deep rooted performance issues I think. 🙂  Or it could be as simple as I’m the oldest and Cain’s the oldest; I have been hearing bible stories since before I can remember, so it could just be that simple.  Yet, even with these identifiers I do not feel connected with Cain in his CHOICE to kill Abel.  That is where I find him going to an extreme I could NEVER imagine. See People pleasing  post for reference.

Although I am finding that with the last 2 sentences in the reading today, I am reminded that God’s point was to warn Cain of what was in his heart.  Funny thing these days is how much I hear EVERYWHERE to follow your heart.  From friends on relationships, to the television about the latest product I just MUST HAVE, to guys who think a girl will fall in love by defaulting to an emotional whim.  It seems odd to listen to the one thing that seems to get us into the most trouble.  Now in this verse it doesn’t specifically name the heart as the source of the sin, but it says it is crouching right at the door; ever heard the expression door to your heart? hmmmm.  And even a step further is that this is EAGER to control you. 

These conflicts between listen to your gut, follow your heart, do what feels good AND take the higher road, good comes to those who wait, use your mind all seem to have existed even stronger as I get older.  I am continually at conflict with the culture that wants to remove all pain, inconvenience, conflict, and discomfort from our lives which seems to coincide with what Cain chose to do.  It wasn’t the fact he brought grain instead of an animal offering, it was that Cain took the short cut, easy way, most convenient path.  And when it comes to giving to God what he has ASKED of us; he’s not interested in the short cut.  God is consistently challenging us to press through, work harder, survive the pain, overcome the challenge, do what’s right as the mind decides.  Even Cain did not see the laziness or short-comings of his sacrifice.  That God was using it as a lesson to challenge him to do better and not settle for less seems to have been lost on Cain.  But in his anger at being “taught” this lesson it erupted into murder instead of the change of heart God wanted. 

I’ve always wondered why sin seems to control us, dominate us, or possess us; but the good things we have to strive for, fight for, and work for don’t stick unless we practice and use them ALL the time.  But when sin gets a teeny tiny entrance into our lives it grabs on for dear life and digs in and won’t let go.  I am remembering an X-files episode (well episodes) from years ago about the black oil.  Now this black oil had a way of sticking to itself, but it hide in its victims and only floated to the surface (in their eyes) from time to time and OF COURSE when no one was looking.  But this oil was hard to remove and more often than not it would drive its victims to some horrible action, which led to their deaths.  Sounds like Sin to me.

So even in one of the oldest stories, it was thought-provoking to me that Cain was overcome by anger and controlled by sin which led to him missing the lesson that God was trying to teach him.  So I am challenged to see some of my situations and ask through my hurt and anger: OK GOD!!! What are you trying to teach me?  Because I know I do not want to let my anger drive me to kill as Cain did.

Where is my Bo?

In my study of the women in the Bible I of course stumbled across dear ole Ruth. Well I think of Ruth as old because my Grandmother on my mom’s side was named Ruth. She was VERY formal and conservative so much so that I did not feel a sense of love or acceptance from her. In my recent fascination with names and their meanings, I am finding that just because a person’s name has a deep significance to it; that doesn’t mean the person grew up to fulfill their namesake. So finding a youthful, hard-working, caring Ruth of the bible has had me rethink some things about the first impression I have of the name Ruth. Did you know that at one time Ruth was #8 on the most common Christian names?

So as most people know with the story of Ruth, she becomes widowed and chooses to follow her mother-in-law back to Judah (Hebrew territory) even though she is a Moabite-a foreigner. After a series of acts specifically done by Ruth, Boaz takes notice of her and shows her favor. Well actually shows her kindness in line with what the custom of the day expected; but looking out for her even further in who she was around, and in the pieces of grain his harvesters left behind. Then Naomi (the mother-in-law) tells her to show a kindness back to Boaz, which seems a little seductressy in my opinon—I mean sleeping at a guy’s uncovered feet??? Seems pretty scandalous to me. But it works and moves Boaz to take action so he can accept the property of Ruth’s deceased husband, which then gives her over to marry Boaz.

In all the right light, a strong man of business with farms and men, caring and generous man to give to the poor, and a man who saw a good woman and pursued her. He worshiped God and followed the laws of their culture although it gives some indication he was MATURE, it does not say he was OLD. And just as in this story MATURE doesn’t mean that he can’t, we can’t still have children. There is somewhere in me that still wants that. The other part of this story that really struck a chord with me is that it wasn’t something she did to WIN his attention, she just continued to live according to what she thought she SHOULD do to help her mother-in-law and it put her in the right place at the right time. So desperately, I want to be just in the right place at the right time. I am tired of working so hard at doing this or that, trying this or that, attempting this or that, but instead I desperately want to be living life, doing the things I do and have my Boaz NOTICE ME!!! Is that really too much to ask of God? Is that too much of a request of the man that will be in my life?

So in the reading of this I started to think of my hearts desire to be married and have a partner to share this life with. To have someone who wants me and loves me and is willing to work hard in this life as much as there is left. I can’t help but ask the question, “Where is my Boaz?” I mean I don’t know which field I’m suppose to be gleaning in or where I’m suppose to be laying my head to get a CERTAIN person’s attention; but a little hint would be nice. But I honestly want to know, Where is he?

Despite my whining and complaining about wondering where he is… the scripture today gave me hope. It gave me that true spring in my heart’s step that not all is lost, that Ruth was widowed and she did not have much of a positive future. Yet, her history did not determine her destiny. She followed Naomi and God to the land of promise. And it is in these moments of my heartfelt agony, that I actually have more hope than discouragement. It is almost like I now have a man to look for, like all the dating dances and courting confusion in my life has been replaced by this simple notion that I need to just wait for my “Bo” to show up and NOTICE ME (okay I shortened it because it sounds cooler to my American ear, but the image in my mind is still the same). That I need to continue to put my eyes on God and do my gleaning with joy, peace, and contentment; and he WILL COME!!!

And now instead of feeling this hopelessness that I will never find him or that this search is completely fruitless, I am reminded that I need to continue to do what I do (which includes working on my own mind and spirit). Work hard, fulfill my obligations to those I love, and seek out God (even in foreign lands away from home) and he will guide my steps to the right place. I mean even Ruth found Boaz’s field, and I am not buying that whole LUCK thing. So if God was guiding Ruth to the right field, will not God guide my feet to the right field? So now that this has inspired me to pray deeply but continue to work hard, I just know that in time I will see him, and he will notice me.

PS Just a few days after I constructed this post the most hilariously comic post was left on Facebook.  Give the above writing I had to incorporate here:  For all the single ladies , here’s a quick piece of Biblical advice: Ruth patiently waited for her mate Boaz. While waiting on YOUR Boaz, don’t settle for ANY of his relatives: Brokeaz, Poaz, Lyinaz, Cheatinaz, Dumbaz, Cheapaz, Lockedupaz, Goodfornothinaz, Lazyaz or Marriedaz & especially his third cousin Beatinyoaz. And don’t forget Painintheaz! Also do not fall for the very righteous-looking Lordinitovahyoaz. Please, wait on your Boaz & make sure he respects Yoaz !!

Psalms 45 – Just a Few Things

Months and months ago I wrote a series based on the list I had created years ago called What I look for.  This all started from a few of my friends saying I needed to make my list.  I needed to know in my mind, heart, and print what I was looking for in the man I wanted to partner with in this life.  I even found a section in one of my favorite books that provided a list of things that should be asked when determining if someone is a Person of Character.  I even put it on my blog as a separate page to remind myself from time to time.

Well just as I had completed that series a blast from my past arrived on my door step.  Well maybe not my door step but my Facebook page, and these days that might as well be your front door.  After a series of conversations, dates, non-dates, community dinners, friend introductions, and the like; we have decided that a relationship between the two of us would be a bad thing (we being me).  Bad meaning unhealthy, dysfunctional, co-dependent, draining, chaos causing, and frustrating (is there anything else that would make something bad?) But I am getting distracted from the real topic, which is that I think I found a few more things to add to my list.

This psalm is referred to as a wedding song, so what better way to identify those things I WANT in my future partner than here.  Now I promise not to rewrite the entire chapter, since I realize that would be redundant and most importantly impractical or improbable. But since I get to decide what I want, and what I will pray for and what I am hoping for out of this chapter, then that is what I am going to WRITE.  SO THERE.  I don’t sound a little defensive do I? But in all seriousness allow me a few moments to share a heart felt inspiration as a piece of scripture is inspiring me to draw a connection to my life in this season. 

My heart is stirred
     You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace, since God has blessed you forever.
          Gird your sword on your side, you mighty one; clothe yourself with splendor and majesty. 
               In your majesty ride forth in the cause of truth, humility and justice, let your right hand achieve awesome deeds. 
                    Your throne, O god, will last forever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.
                         You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore God, your God, 
                               has set you above your companions by anointing you with the oil of joy.                          

With grand expectation and hopeful want, I desire a man who will have lips that use words laced with grace and not criticism.  That God’s heart for my well-being and growth would be communicated from him as gracious items of life and not destructive points leaving me bruised and wounded at the mere mention of the words.  Not that truth wouldn’t be spoken, but that he would know that fine art of speaking truth in love to me. 

Although I do not require my man to be a card-carrying member of the sword wielding guild, he must have the confidence that builds him to a place of being the mighty one in his life.  That he know who he is in God and that he knows where he is going.  He is confident in his mind and heart to carry the sword of the spirit and the shield of faith in this crazy world of church, friends, family, and work. (Kind of a compliment to my favorite artist’s picture on my blog.)

That his values run deeper than this is what my parents taught me.  That his life philosophy includes fighting for the cause of truth, humility, and justice.  The world may not be fair and there will be injustices that will be done in front of us and to us; but that does not negate the need to do life towards those goals.  Just as there is a balance between truth and grace there is a balance between confident mighty strength and honest genuine humility; and in these I want him to know the difference and strive to achieve this. 

In the deepest core of my soul lies the belief that it is important to be fair and just in my decisions and actions.  Even if this means someone gets a benefit over me.  So reading this scripture that speaks to the scepter of justice ruling over his kingdom, really resonates with what I believe to be one of my most important life decisions.  So he must also value truth and justice above all else.  (and the American way?)  Funny how certain things end up programmed in the back of one’s mind. 

Finally, the anointing you with the oil of joy, has become so important in my life I cannot imagine living in a partnership without it.  I did not move into adulthood a happy or joyful person.  Too much tragedy, complaining, and hurt had not allowed me to embrace those things.  But as healing, acceptance, friendship, and grace has found its way into my life I began to realize that joy is an important part of everyday.  It doesn’t always FEEL that way, and I may not always express it or live in it, but it is a choice at those times for me to still allow God’s joy to change my perspective and attitude.  So he must also have that same desire to look for the joy, seek out the good, and make the best of any given situation. 

After all, I am typing this in the midst of a rainy Oregon day while camping, in a tent, by herself; if a girl can find the good in that part, well then he is definitely SHOULD be able to as well.