Wednesday, November 10, 2010


All  I ever wanted was someone who could validate who I am... Who understands what makes my heart leap...Who loves me unconditionally... What I saw in their eyes was none of this...the light I mistook  for approval and validation was the narcissistic glow of how I could make their life work better, and how they can  use me to further their agenda.

My life has been saturated with narcissist who I had surrounded with endless praise and devotion... receiving nothing but loneliness, grief...not to mention a lost life. One day (not long ago) I came to myself and knew it was time to start living life on my own terms. In truth, I  am  not complaining.  I have traveled this path to soul healing long enough to know that, as an adult' 'I' had created the mess I found myself in with my freewill and 'I' would have to cooperate with God to get me out of it using the same freewill.

Not an easy trip. As I set out to learn I soon discovered that there is no quick, painless fixes. But as usual even the decision to learn caused a great light to appear on my path as books, articles, FB Blogs, people and insights apparently 'just happened' my way. One day I picked up the August 2006 Real Simple Magazine and found an article by Merrill Markoe called Enough About Me and my education continued in the ways of narcissism.
With a narcissist you walk a fine need to 'SHINE" but "ONLY' in a way that cast a favorable light on them. Be very careful that you do not shine so bright that they end up not in the spot light. Do not under any circumstance shine so bright that the attention is directed toward you and not them.

"Narcissist put the self in selfishness. They tend to give gifts that only reflect who they want you to be and will benefit them. You end up feeling selfish because 'the gift' is useless and does not make you feel like you. Because O Brilliant One!! It is not 'YOU'... it is them.They get no pleasure in buying you something that reflects 'your' uniqueness. Many of these 'gifts' had cluttered my life for years."

"Narcissist consider you selfish and self-centered if you make a decision that is different from theirs. Over the years I have turned a huge amount of  my money and life over to them just to prove my love and keep the peace."

Because of the endless negative comments over the years "I felt like I  needed to stop endangering my relationships with  such unacceptable behaviour as having my own taste in clothes...make-up...hairstyle etc. "My parents laid the ground work in my soul that created a magnet in me that drew narcissist. It was all I had ever known and became a comfort zone from hell.
The writer went on to say, that "...narcissist are people who cover up feelings of shame and worthlessness inflicted during their screwed up childhood by doing whatever it takes to maintain the false sense that they are very special and therefore not bound by ordinary rules. This requires them to surround themselves with people who will constantly pump them up by agreeing with them about everything."

"Why do they act like that? Because they have never fully outgrown a phase of infantile behavioural development, and essentially live  in a world that is one person big. Therefore when you fall for the undeniable charm of a brilliant narcissist and enter into a relationship with them it is kind of like being annexed by an imperialist country. Your borders have now been erased. The sub-text of all future interaction will be, "Whats mine is mine and whats yours is mine." Welcome to a world where there is no you.

"His or her needs must become your needs. It is not enough for a narcissist to be the center of his own world, he must also be the center of yours."

As I read that article I had a serious 'wake-up-and-smell-the-coffee-moment'  and realized that, I too, had,..."spent most of my life as an admiring audience, acting as a vent for their anger, as a Fan Club President, or an incompetent maid for the narcissist around me.  If I was not mirroring them, or praising them  I was proving I was a separate person and thus a threat.n a narcissist fragile world view.  When I demonstrate that I have ideas they tend to totally reject them and take it as a personal affront."

The revelation that rocked my world and was a bitter pill to swallow was when the author said, "...I began to see these people not as just a wounded soul who I could give enough, love enough to empower them to change and have a normal relationship with, but they were actually strangely predictable robots whose limitations would always be greater than their capabilities."

Victor Frankl, while in a concentration camp, said, "When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves," and while that is a true truth to give up on them ever behaving with any any degree of empathy toward us is heart wrenching.  As a Christian, the death of expectations removed the fuel that had propelled me forward for years. Gone forever was the dream that by treating them with kid gloves, loving them unconditionally, and praying would transform them. I had to face the brutal fact that I was not their Savior. As I wrote in The Search for Peace: A Woman's Guide to Spiritual Wholeness  ..  Jesus was and I needed to let go.

To even try to interact and explain how I felt when they do such and such only set me up for an attack and the very feelings I wanted to share become ammunition against me.

According to Merrill Markoe the ONLY practical method for coping with a narcissist is ...
#1 Change your expectations.
#2 Maintain emotional distance.
 #3 Stop trying to please un-pleasable people.

"We actually have only two choices...either agree with whatever they say, or pick up and go else where. To stay is to understand that a healthy relationship is not a possibility. To fight is to confront an irrational wounded animal."

With all these insights tucked into my soul my life is in the process of doing a 180...The Journey In Black & White continues and clarity comes.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


A while back, on a trip to visit my oldest son Michael's family. I found myself besotted by his two youngest children. While the two older boys were out and about I got to spend some quality hours with one-year-old Meliah and her big brother three-year-old Merrick.

Most of the time I just sat in wide-eyed wonder at their quick minds and delightful antics. After endless confabulated conversations between them (which both understood) and I just tried to keep up with their energetic and unique imaginations, I decided it would be fun to show them a Muppet video made the year their daddy turned four-years-old. 

We found it on You Tube and my babies were enchanted. Over the next three days every available moment was spent in front of the computer screen singing along with the Muppet's. Demands of "Grandma, get Phenomenon! Get Phenomenon!" filled the air. 

Actually the Muppet's were saying Ma No Ma Non"..but it sounded lie Phenomenon to us. (:
After the 100 and 22nd time of hearing the catchy non-sensical tune their demand to see it again was met by audible  moans from their parents and laughter from their Grandma.

Merrick and Grandma Phenomenon
I loved it because sometime during marathon days of listening to the repetitive jingle the demands became, "Grandma Phenomenon get the movie!"...and my nick name was born. Months and months later I still get phone calls and hear these little voices. "Hi Grandma Phenomenon!" How are you?...Grandma Phenomenon I love you!"

So, you may ask, what is the point of this cute 'Grandma story'? Fair enough..the point is as a Christian I believe the Bible is a personal love letter to me from God Almighty. I believe within the stories, instruction, and wisdom of the Bible is a blueprint for my life. I believe it tells me exactly what He thinks of me...which is always affirmative. Graham Cooke says "God never gets disillusioned with us; He never had any illusions about us in the first place.....he doesn't see what is wrong, just what is missing......." I believe that.

My life's challenge is to spend the time, endless hours if need be, to get that truth firmly rooted in my soul...just like my grand babies did with the video. They unquestionably connect that 'Phenomenon' movie with me...I am and forever will be Grandma Phenomenon. It took time, but that is THEIR truth.

The LOVE, BEAUTY, PROVISION, and GRACE of God's Word needs to becomes MY soul's truth. Yes, there is a price to pay....but the payoff is 'PHENOMENAL'!!

In case you would like to see the video that helped me brainwash my grandchildren ... 
may I present ... Ma No Ma Non!! aka Phenomenon!  1976 (:

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Questions and the Kingdom of God...Fiction, or Not?

It was the last day at one of those huge conferences where Christians gather periodically to refuel and learn from the giants of faith. Between sessions I slipped away into a small room and was relieved to find only one other person had found this oasis of relative quietness. A woman about my age sat on one end of a long bench reading her Bible.

As I settled nearby she looked up and smiled slightly as we do when we acknowledge strangers, then went back to her reading. Opening my journal I glanced over my notes. The subject of the conference was The Kingdom of God and the speakers had been wonderful…so many powerful insights about the coming Kingdom. Suddenly my bench mate sighed and I looked up to see tears running down her cheeks. Not wanting to intrude I kept quiet until she turned my way then I asked, “Are you okay?”

Wiping her eyes she said, “Yeah, I am…it’s just that I’m confused. We come every year to these conferences…thousands and thousands of Christians sitting here like so many baby birds our hearts open to what God has for us then we go home and the glow fades and nothing ever changes!”

“Sometimes I can’t help but wonder what would happen if Christians simply believed the Bible? What if every Christian on the face of the earth actually believed that Jesus meant it when He said the Holy Spirit of God lives in us and He would lead us and guide us in all our ways? Would we ever be in fear and confusion?”

“What if we were so aware of Him inside us that the very idea of asking Him, like the guy did when he dismissed the last session, ‘to go with us as we leave this place,’ would be ludicrous? I mean, where else would He be…if He is in us?”

My eyes must have widened in surprise at the intensity of her passion because she smiled and added, “I’m sorry…I sometimes get carried away.”

“No it’s okay’ I assured her “…please go on.”

She stared past me and continued, “So many years I have sit in the pews and heard thousands of sermons, but I wonder, “Did I believe any of them? What if I truly believed that when Jesus died for my sins that it actually undid the works of evil? What if I knew in a practical day to day reality that God is love and ‘Love’ cannot give cancer or kill babies or any of the multiple horrors we contribute to devine destiny of God’s will?”

“What if when someone said or did something bad to me that I was immediately able to balance their opinion against what Father God thinks about me. Like, “You are the head and not the tail. You are above only and not beneath. I fight your battles. No weapon formed against you can prosper.” If I believed the Bible how much effect would negative things have on me?”

She opened the book in her lap to John14:27 and read aloud, “Peace I leave with you. Do not let your heart be troubled, neither be afraid. Stop allowing yourself to be agitated and disturbed; and do not permit yourself to be fearful and intimidated and cowardly and unsettled.” Her dark eyes flashed as she leaned slightly toward me, “If I honestly believe Jesus wouldn’t ask me to do something I couldn’t do what excuse do I have to spaze out about anything?”

“I have no excuse except that I not paid the price to renew my mind with the Word of God until I measure every single thing that happens to me against it.” She laughed as she stood and gathered her things, “You know, I have New Age friends who spend hours a day renewing their minds to their philosophy. They fill note books copying over and over the thoughts of their favorite guru. They actually believe the Universe will bring good thing into their lives and it works! When was the last time you saw a Christian spending that kind of time and dedication renewing their minds to the reality of what the Bible teaches? How many Christian notebooks have you seen filled with nothing but the Word? If we simply believed the Bible, wouldn’t we be living in the Kingdom of God on earth?”

As she walked away I began writing the promises of God in my journal.

P.S. The truth is...this blog is based on a real conversation I had with myself. (:

Monday, August 16, 2010

ONE HUNDRED DAYS... Black & White

As I move into the second 100 days of my Journey In Black & White I am reminded of a story I once read.

A powerful, accomplished woman hit a place in her life where everything changed. Her health, her marriage, her job...all were in jeopardy. During this traumatic time she had a dream of a woman building a mountain. The woman was working very hard, laboring alone, laying stone after stone in place...feeling good about her achievements.

 As the dreamer watched she realized that the hard working mountain builder was herself. She felt a sense of pride watching her single mindedly continue, letting no one and nothing stop her. She toiled day and night climbing as she went, until the mountain was perfect. Then she stood solidly on top and smiled. The view was marvelous. She had it all.

The dreamer was feeling pretty good about herself and her alter ego on the mountain top, until she saw a crack opening up at the foot of the mountain. Fear gripped her heart as the ever widening crack make its way up to where the woman stood on the peak unaware of the coming danger.

Suddenly the builder-of-the-mountain realized something was wrong and looked down. Unthinkable terror seized her as the world began to crumble beneath her feet. There was no hope. It was over. All the hard work. All the personal achievement. All the years of sacrifice. All of her social standing. Everything gone.

But just as the earth shifted into the very last minute...she discovered...she could fly.
Since beginning my Journey in Black & White I have blogged about 'Seeing With New Eyes,' The Road Ahead Lies Within,' and, 'The Question Of Prayer.' 'I Couldn't...But I Did' was a shocker for some of my friends. But during these first 100 days something in me has shifted. I know exactly the day it happen.

The day I posted Footprints...I heard, "This will change everything." In 'Footprints'  I wrote about sharing with my 10 year old grandson the many-many miracles God has performed in our family. Talking about the miracles and hearing my FB friends feedback on their own miracles has lit a fire in me to go deeper into God's Word and really focus on healing and wholeness for others. I want the same miracles I have experienced in myself and in my family to be manifested in millions of lives across the earth. Why not? He is a big God and He loves all of us equally.

FOR YEARS a few of my closest friends have called me Eagle Woman. Sometimes when I hear that I think, "Yeah...perhaps I do fly." Other times I just wished they were right. As long as I can remember I have had a desire to move beyond my (sometimes self-imposed) boundaries into a spiritual dimension closer to God.

With that in mind a lot of my old interest  has shifted...for the next 100 days I will be focusing on miracles. All kinds of miracles. I want to go to God with a pure heart with my friends and family's needs and remind Him that He did 'this' and 'this' and He never changes. He told the Children of Israel to recount His signs and wonders to help build faith. I want more. I want to test the boundaries of a life unfettered with issues and fear. I want to go beyond my own mountains of achievements, count them as nothing and see if God has more for me.I want to soar.

In fact this poem by Myra Dutton says it is my prayer.


My soul cried out, plaintive and echoing to an eagle gliding toward the sun.
And in reply, a prevailing wind rose over the towering peak and entered my heart,
leaving me shaken as a downy feather on the breast of creation.

Now all I know is that feathers have grown from my own breast, and vast wings span the horizon.
I am learning to fly on the mountain top where wind  and wisdom are one.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


On my year long JOURNEY, before I turn 65, I wanted to discover who I really am. One incredible thing that I am is a grandmother to fourteen beautiful children between the ages of seventeen and two. Lately I have awakened to the fact that although our family members, including me, have done some pretty stupid things in the past, there is still a heritage of faith that runs deep and strong through all of us. There are footprints laid out in time that they can follow.

Ten year old Matthew spent a few days with me last month. We had a wonderful time doing things he wanted do and in between times Grandma told him Family Stories. Stories about the times God had performed miracles for us. The first story was about his great grandfather Sampson Eli Church. Grandpa Church was a coal miner during the early part of the 1900's when his sister Aunt May developed cancer .When the doctors  operated they found that the cancer had  totally destroyed all her female organs and stomach. Her abdomen was an empty cavity so they stuffed her with cotton, sewed her up and sent her home to die.

They called Grandpa out of the mines to say goodbye to his sister. But Grandpa was a great believer in prayer and instead of saying goodbye he laid his coal blacken hand on her head and asked God to completely heal her. And He did. Instantly she was made totally whole. Her insides were replaced by the power of God to the degree that later on in life she conceived and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl.
Right now your eyes may be as big as Matthew's was when I told him this story. All I can say is it is 100% truth and I will tell you what I told Matthew...never limit God...He can do anything.

I told Matthew the story about the time his Uncle Chris, my son, fell two stories through the open frame of a house he was building, onto concrete head first. He was 18 and working in Texas. I lived in Kentucky and got the call from his brother.."Chris looks really bad...he is bleeding from his nose and mouth....he's hurt bad." When something traumatic happens I get really quiet inside and try to hear what God has to say about after a moment of listening I KNEW my son would be fine. I was to speak healing...I was to believe God.  I said, "Take him to the hospital and do whatever they say BUT KNOW this... God is about to do a miracle and Chris will walk out of that emergency room TODAY fully and completely healed. Do you understand me?" My son took a deep breath and said, "Okay."

Every fiber of my being was vibrating with the certainty that God would  do whatever it took to heal my baby.There was not a doubt in me anywhere. An hour later I called the emergency room in Texas and asked to speak with anyone with Chris. When his brother got on the phone I asked. "Okay, how is he?"
"Well.....," he said, "...ask him yourself.?"
When I heard Chrisie's unmistakable Texas drawl saying,"Hi mommy,"  I started laughing and asked, "Chrissie..what happened?"
"Well I recon, I just fell on the hardest part of me."
That day my son walked out of the emergency room healed.

When I finished that story I looked into the wide brown eyes of my little grandson and saw a footprint on his soul. Forever he will have a touchstone of faith to stand on when life's impossibles hit him. That footprint proclaims, "God is big...and He loves us...and He hears our prayers....and miracles happen"

I also told Matthew about another kind of miracle. When his daddy was about two years old he fell on a glass bottle and laid open his little face open clear through the cheek to the inside of his mouth. We rushed him to the emergncy room where the ER doctor shook his head and said.."I can't fix this..if the nerves and museles are not connected right he will be paralized on that side of his face." At that very moment another doctor walked in and said , "Let me problem...this is what I will need..."

The new doctor 'JUST HAPPENED to be 'THE BEST' plastic surgon in the STATE and he 'JUST HAPPENED'  to stop off at this hospital on his way home and  'JUST HAPPENED' to walk into ER at that moment when one of God's Little Ones needed his specialized skills. Michael's cheek healed perfectly.
CH Spurgeon said, "A Christian is a perpetual miracle."  I believe


Ever since the Haiti disaster our family has done whatever we could to help...we prayed, gave, and reminded our friends to give. My son Michael organized a band concert in Las Vegas that raise thousands of dollars to feed children there. Last week my 17 year old granddaughter Donna, went with a missions team to minister in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Her Uncle Michael said, "Well Mom...the family now has a footprint in Haiti. Indeed we do...

A friend Jax Shows sent this definition for FOOTPRINTS..."The action of one step that sets the world toward a better place one or many."  That works.

Here are photos of our Footprints in Haiti...
The first photo is of me and two grandsons making Footprints through The Valley of Fire, Las Vegas, NV

Sunday, June 6, 2010

: The Question Of Prayer

 When I set this year aside to discover a new way of being I made up my mind to travel light without a lot of preconceived ideas. On THE JOURNEY I have become brave enough to land at the end of what little I know about a number of things.

With that in mind I was considering what I had been taught about prayer and what I actually believe. About that time a facebook friend posted this question,"If you ask someone for prayer and they say, "I will be sending positive thoughts your that prayer?" Some were quick to answer 'No, certainly not!" others were just as quick to say, "Yes, definitely!"
 I didn't comment, but I expect it depends on what is in the heart of the sender.

While thinking about that I realized that one of the ways I pray for others is to get real quiet within, then ask God to intervene in the situation and bless them. After that I think about the people involved in a positive way fully expecting Him to show them His love, mercy, and wisdom. So I guess I do both...I ask God to help and then send them the positive thoughts. To me that is an act of faith.

I also agree with Steve Wickham's Notes, posted a few days ago, that prayer is a conversation. He wrote, "I confess that I don't actually pray aloud that much, but I do converse with God on a fairly continual basis.... So prayer is not always about having our eyes closed and heavenward and speaking aloud. But it is about seeking God's will through a conversation with him." I would add that half of a conversation is listening.  I have been known to sit in a field of dandelions and pray. Or on a rock in the desert.

Gracie my friend, and co-author of -Family Secrets, sent me an email this week. She is reading a book called,"Becoming a Women of Prayer" by Cynthia Heald. The scripture the author used was Jeremiah 33:3 Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know." The introduction, written by Martin Smith, posed these questions...

~What if God does not demand prayers as much as gives prayers?
~What if God wants prayer in order to satisfy us?
~What if prayer is a means of God nourishing,restoring, healing, and converting us?
~Suppose prayer is primarily allowing ourselves to be loved, addressed and claimed by God.
~What if praying means opening ourselves to the gift of God's own self and presence?
~What if our part in prayer is primarily letting God be giver?
~Suppose prayer is not a duty but the opportunity to experience healing and transforming love?"

Hmmmm ... Now that might be something to think about.

Another FB friend posted this..."Our task is faithfully to open ourselves to the wonders in every moment and the possibilities for transformation in every encounter." ~~Dr. Bruce Epperly

In The Search For Peace I wrote about tears being liquid prayers.

I was reminded of another form of prayer when I received an early mornig call from my son Michael. Their friends Jon and Mel McConico's baby boy had just been born at 25 weeks. He weighed 1lb. 6oz. Just after the birth the new mommy began singing from her hospital bed, "Great is Thy faithfulness...great is Thy faithfulness...morning by morning new mercies I see....All I have needed Thy hands hath provided...Great is The faithfulness Lord unto me." My son said it was a heart touching holy moment.
We asked our FB friends who knew this song to please sing it as a prayer and praise for the little man's well being. A few days later my son had the honor of dedicating Nehemiah David McConico to God. He is gaining weight and doing well.
This is a video of Nehemiah the day he was born...the day his mother sang her prayer for him.!/video/video.php?v=1375868488180&ref=share


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

THE JOURNEY... I Couldn't ...But I Did!

When I began THE JOURNEY four weeks and four blogs ago I wrote that among the many things I wanted to do during this year was " re-examine my life and find a depth, a significance, a beauty that I may not have noticed...or discounted"

For too long I limited myself by measuring my potential by what other people thought I could do. It took some deep God Moments and a few years to realize that there was a potential in me that circumstances could not bury.

In my growing up years, for reasons of their own, my folks moved all the time. I lost count of the schools I went to. One time we moved to somewhere in Indiana. The first day at school I got all my books, made a new friend and excitedly rode the bus home that afternoon to find a truck backed up to the front door. A few hours later off we went to only God remembers where. This happened over and over.

Because of the numbers of schools and unsettled life I found it impossible to learn. Early on I got by because of a good memory and a flair for drama. I would memorize the reading assignments when my grandpa went over them with me the night before. The next day at school I'd rattle off the story word for word, 'reading' and turning the pages in a very convincing manner.

I could even write the letters on a spelling test and get them right. When the teacher said “coffee,” I would carefully take up my pencil and form C O F F E E on the page and not have the foggiest notion why those shapes made a word. I continued to fake out a lost number of teachers until the next moving truck showed up.

I eventually taught myself to read while cooking. It must have been my first 'aha moment.' I was 9 years old the day my life changed forever. We were living somewhere in the mountains of West Virginia. I was in the kitchen stirring something on the stove when I glanced up and saw a tin of Hershey Cocoa sitting on a shelf. The letters C O C O A jumped out at me from the can and it clicked...letters have sounds...sounds create words! Who knew? I sure didn’t, but from then on I could read.

From that moment on I read non-stop. I was drawn to books about girls and women following impossible dreams. Joan of Arc heard a voice and led an army...Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross...Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman doctor...all fueled my imagination.

Books anchored my dreams as each move and the years became a blur of memories. I was thirteen when I gave up trying to go to school. We were not going to stay in one place long enough for the truant officer to catch up with me anyway, so what was the point? That marked the end of my formal education.

BUT I could read! Half a century later books are still a passion. I own thousands.

Most people consider me successful because I’ve had four books published, been featured in periodicals and anthologies, written a newspaper column, won writing awards, teach writing classes, and am invited to speak, do workshops, and retreats.

A new friend reminded me this week that the common thread that seems to run through most women is insecurity. I am learning to move past my can you.

As I traveled inward this week God reminded me that my 'success' was no was an attitude. As a little illiterate Appalachian mountain girl in the 1950’s, I caught a glimpse of a new and different world. I waded out of the ocean of ignorance onto high ground by reading and believing. I KNOW people can do anything, learn anything and be anything, simply by having a dream and reaching for it.

I am coming to honor the path I have traveled...I am not ashamed of where I came from...I am proud of who I am at this moment.

Ayn Rand said, “Don’t work for my happiness, my brothers—show me yours. Show me that it is possible. Show me your achievement and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.”

I guess that is what I’m doing this week. Have courage. No matter what you start can be a success.

Still feeling limited? Watch this video and go be who you were created to be. As my friend Cindy Juckette said this week...Take The Leap!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

THE JOURNEY ..."The Road Ahead Lies Within."

 THE FIRST TIME I HEARD "The road ahead lies within," it struck me as a very simple but powerful truth. In the 67 years that has brought me to this journey of discovery the only place I have left to travel is within. Every other road I have ever taken turned out to be a dead end.

God knows I have made an art form of focusing outward. I've tried comparing myself to others wanting to be someone, or somewhere I am not. I have found myself endlessly falling into the dream of another life. Sometimes the fall was into the delusional la-la-land of thinking that if 'they' would change then 'I', and 'my life,' would be fine.

From time to time I also tried 'behavior modification' to make my life work. Behaviour modification books and classes sound reasonable. "Just act like this, and they will do this and everything will be wonderful." But one of my problems is I have a hard time being reasonable. There has always been a voice deep within my soul that called me to beyond what is reasonable. And that flickering flame of a voice has set me on this journey.

Poet Mark Nepo says. "To journey without being changed is to be a nomad. To change without journeying is to be a chameleon. To journey and to be transformed by the journey is to be a pilgrim." I have been a nomad...I have been a I am a pilgrim.

As a pilgrim I have come face to face with myself as I step into a world I have only dreamed of inhabiting. It is the world where I take full responsibility for my happiness. No more 'ifs'...but a choice.

While talking to a friend about her own challenge to stop allowing other peoples moods, actions and words to control her happiness, I recalled a little fable about a kind old sage who waded into the river everyday and prayed. One day in the midst of his loving prayers he saw a poisonous spider struggling in the water and cupped his hands to carry it ashore. As he placed the spider on the ground it stung him. Unknowingly his prayers diluted the poison. The next day the same thing happened. On the third day the kind man was knee deep, and sure enough there was the spider, legs frantic in the water. As the man went to lift the creature yet again, the spider said, "Why do you keep lifting me? Can't you see that I will sting you every time, because that is what I do."And the kind man cupped his hands under the spider, replying, "Because this is what I do."

My friend and I agreed that our goal was to journey so far into our souls that we know exactly what 'we' will do no matter what 'they' do. I believe the Bible calls it, 'Purity of heart." It is our choice. As long as we are on this earth we will know, or be in relationships with people just like us, who carry baggage in their wounded souls. Our choice is to re-act out of our own woundedness...or respond from a place of peace to do and say the right thing.

NOTE TO SELF: Regardless of how others act I will 'do what I do'...and let God handle them and the poison they try to inflict. I no longer want to just act kind...I want to be predictably kind. I choose happiness. It is my decision.

The road ahead indeed lies within and the farther I travel inward the more peace I experience. Thanks also to all the readers of this blog. for your feedback, comments, and for sharing it with other ''pilgrims'.

In closing please  make a decision to be happy...try it for five minutes...then an hour...then a day...take a deep breath and step from that day into you entire will never regret it. I promise. (:

Saturday, May 8, 2010

THE JOURNEY PART 2...Seeing With New Eyes

 As I stepped wholeheartedly into my year of discovery I wonder why it is so hard to embrace who I really am with nothing held back?

This week I read about a man who wanted to clean his small fish tank. He filled his bathtub with water and placed his fish in it. After he'd scrubbed the film from the small walls of their make believe deep, he went to retrieve his fish. He was astonished to discover that, though they had the entire tub to swim in, they were huddled in a small area the size of their tank.

There was nothing containing them...nothing holding them back, so why wouldn't they dart around freely? What had life in the tank done to their natural ability to swim? That story haunted me...I kept seeing those little fish going no where except into themselves.

Then I had a dream...I saw a woman in a basement room. She was very well taken care of, in need of no material possession, but seemed to be under house arrest. I saw her look wistfully through her high window to a bit of sky where a bird sailed full of grace and beauty. As she turned away from the window I could feel her painful loneliness for something she could not define.

I continued to watch from a distance, feeling sad for the woman, when suddenly I realized she was me. That's when I heard a voice saying, "The door is locked from the inside."

"The door is locked from the inside." So why didn't I walk out?

Why didn't I?

I began to ask myself some serious questions...

I have written four books, so why do I dread book signings?
Why do I pay good money for writing workshops and duck out the moment they move into groups to share about our work?
Why would someone who has known me for two years not know I am a published author? And... for that matter, after being well published with an established platform, why did I stop writing once for twenty years?
What am I afraid of?

Actually I knew the answer. My training started early. First with my family, then teachers, society, church, relationships, each sent messages, or outright told me, that certain actions, thoughts, jobs, attitudes, opinions, use of time, and clothes were unacceptable. Either they didn't want me to fail, or they were not comfortable with my success. I was given to know that stepping outside the 'tank' of 'our' value system was a risky and dangerous business.

I learned my lessons well. In trying to make other people happy I continued to swim in the 'tank' and shrunk my world until I lived in a self imposed captivity... especially in my gift as a writer.

Over the years I had jumped out of the tank now and then to create beauty and touch lives, but I had been unable to stay free and productive for any length of time. I was always second guessing myself.

I realized this week that the tape of my 'training' about my writing runs like a river through my soul...."you have no education you can't be a writer...who would want to read anything you wrote...I am miserable when you write..."all spoken by people I loved and who said they loved me.

I also realized that it was as though my mind was a bus and I had been letting others drive it.

So on The Journey I am making a few changes...

First: I began blogging last week with a deep commitment to continue. So far I have this blog My Journey: In Black & well as one called Life After the Storm: Celebrating Survivors...

AND ...since I had a book signing setup for Family Secrets the day after my birthday, I made up my mind turn off old tape by creating a new one. After setting up...before the event began, I wrote in one of my black & while journals....

"I am an excellent writer...this is a great, potentially life changing book...I will talk to a bunch of great folks...have fun and sell books!! My books sell well...I love book signings...people love me and I love people. I vibrate with success, favor and energy...I am happy! "

All day long I played that tape and smiled. I began seeing myself with new eyes...and guess what!! It worked! I am having a wonderful time!! People say you can see it in my face.... (:!/album.php?aid=52212&id=1589641306

Now on my Journey, when I am endeavoring to clarify many things, I am asking... in what ways have I

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Why the Journey?

I could deny the symptoms no longer and made the appointment. Up until the last few months I had not been sick for ten years or more. But something had happened to compromise my immune system and the consequences were sobering.

I would be 64 soon, my mother had died with breast cancer at my age. In fact all of my immediate family had died near my age or earlier. The possibility of my following suit was a major medical reality.

So I did all the test...scans...x-rays...lab work and thank God all came back fact I was told because of my lifestyle choices (vegetarian...non smoking...outdoor enthusiast) I have the body of a woman twenty years younger. Really good news except that this twenty-years-younger body was wracked with pain, had re-occurring breathing problems, and was in a state of chronic exhaustion.

My doctor, who happens to be younger than my youngest child, looked at me and said, "Stress."
I could feel my body tensing up in denial. "Stress!! Stress? Who me? Why I wrote a book about Searching for Peace and finding it! Stress? Ridicules! What does 'that child' know?"

After doing some research on stress I was a bit more humble. I discovered that 'that child', with her freshly minted medical degree, was one smart cookie. Every symptom I had could be a textbook study on the repercussions of stress and I came to know if I didn't change something much worse could happen.

Basically I discovered 'stress' is not so much what happens to you it is how you respond to what happens to you. Eventually I was led to write down every potentially stressful thing that had happened to me in the last year. The list was an eye the end of 2008 on Christmas Day my brother, and only sibling, was found dead. He was 59 years old. New Years Day 2009 I was in Tennessee making arrangements for his memorial service and cremation. In February I was back in TN being made executor of his estate and trying to decide what to do with his property. In all I made eight long distance exhausting trips in 2009. On the home front some of my children had serious marriage problems and one daughter ended up in a homeless shelter overnight with her five kids. The year progressed and the list went on and on and on.

Toward the end of the year I had to put my cat to sleep. That day I hit a wall. I am not an overly emotional person. I can be stoic, calm in crisis, peaceful. I actually have faith and people call me when they are troubled. But when I realized I was going to loose that little stray I had a major melt down in the vets office. My heart broke. I sobbed as if I were dying.

Doubled over in pain I wept for the death of my sweet Mi Amor. He was a scrappy little cat with an attitude but I loved him and he loved me. Tears rained down my face falling on the soft fur of my dying cat. My whole body shook. I seemed to be weeping for every tragedy that has ever taken place across the earth since the beginning of time. I wept for Haiti, hungry children, lonely women, and troubled men. I wept for my mother, my brother, my children, the lost years of my own life when I had tried to please other people and lost myself in the process. I wept for the death of my own soul. Soon after that the physical symptoms began.

The plan for The Journey in Black & White came as sort of a spiritual challenge...perhaps from God, but for sure from myself. If I was going to live and not die something had to change. I would set apart a year between my 64th birthday and my 65th and discover who I really was and what part of how I lived my life was the real me? For as long as I can remember I had been embracing life for others, doing whatever it took to make every bodies everything work...this year is mine.

During this year I want to connect more to the solitude deep in my spirit where God lives. I want to find my lost childhood and see God, and the world, through un-wounded eyes. I want to have fun. Actually I want to find out what fun is! Not just what others think fun is but what is fun to me? I want to be Wanda, who ever she might be. I want to regain my health. I want to take full responsibility for my own happiness. I want to know who made the rules for my life and why do I keep them? I want to be kinder. Love purely. I want to know the black & white truth about myself and why I try to fix things and people. I want to re-examine my life and find a depth, a significance, a beauty that I may not have noticed before. In essence I want to live the next year as if it were my last.

I intend to travel light without a lot of preconceived ideas of how this year will play out. As a writer I did gather some tools of my trade to take on my Journey...five composition books, a thick journal, black inked gel pens, my Bible. Being obsessively into details...they are all black & white. There they are spread out on my table in the picture above. As I fill them I will share their contents here on this blog. April 30th is my birthday and my journey will begin.

I hope you will journey with me...comment and give feedback on each post...share your own journey to your truth.

Wanda G