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Death by a thousand cuts

Death by a thousand cuts

Written by Tracey Lemming

It’s slow.  We don’t even know that it is happening.  That feeling of going through each day without any passion.  The mundane routine, the efficiency, meal prepping, working a 9 to 5, watching a few shows on Netflix, and then it’s time to go to bed to wake up and do it all again.  Where is the creativity and excitement we once had?  How do we find the time and energy to live our best life when there’s so much around us draining us?

For many of us, the words of others have become our self-talk. I had a friend in Junior High once call me timid, and for more years than I’d like to admit, I believed her words.  It wasn’t until I stepped out of my comfort zone that I had a coworker call me bold.  Timid to Bold.  Wow, that’s a 180.  I hadn’t ever thought of myself as bold.  Bold is someone who takes risks, speaks her truth, and doesn’t follow the crowd.  The thought of being bold was something that I hadn’t ever contemplated as a reality for myself, but when I did, I realized that I liked that label better than the one of being timid.  The cool thing is, we don’t have to wait for someone else’s approval or confirmation to decide who we want to be.  We have the power to create in each moment the life that we want to lead, and the person that we want to be.  What’s a word that you’d like to be described as?  Write it down, repeat it, and know that you are.

We also don’t have to wait for circumstances to change to be happy or the version of yourself that you want to be.  It’s easy to be grateful when things are going your way, but it takes practice to show up each day willing to focus on the good when it feels as if everything is falling apart.  When my Dad passed away, my friend who had lost her Dad a few years prior sent me a message acknowledging that this time wouldn’t be easy, but asked me to take notice of those around me who shared in my grief and were there to support me and my family.  She was right on both accounts, and when I took a moment to be present, I noticed sweet memories, warm hugs, and acts of kindness being shared.  Being present at this time wasn’t easy, but these words from my friend were a reminder to stay in the moment, and trust that the right people and events would show up at my time at the perfect time.  They always do.

As we all navigate the waters of this new world, take a moment to see yourself as your best version.  What’s something you’d love to try?  Do you envision yourself doing what you are currently doing each day,  or do you see a world of new possibilities?  This landscape is ever changing, and you get to be the architect of your life.  You get to choose the affirmations that you speak to yourselves and others.  You get to decide if you want to die a death by a thousand cuts, or if you want to soar in infinite possibilities.  Which one will you choose?

Compassionate Masking

Compassionate Masking

Written by Tracey Lemming, Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels

I recently heard the term “doom scrolling.”  If you have been on social media the last few months, you already know what I’m talking about.  Endlessly scrolling and finding more bad news to consume.   It’s everywhere, and easy to find.  An addiction that can be easily filled with constant scrolling.  One click of an article leads you to another and another, until you realize that the cookies you put in the oven an hour ago are burning. Anyone else baking a lot?

Recently, the mask or not to mask debate has been the “highlight” on social media.  Whichever “side” you are on, you are sure to find sufficient evidence to make the other “side” wrong.  What you look for, you will find.  It’s easy to voice your opinion behind the mask of social media, and see your perspective as the only one.  Taking a moment to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and ask questions takes time and patience, and a lot of us are running low on both during this uncertain and unknown time.

Recently, I was reading my workplace’s guidelines on requesting a flexible work schedule during this time, and it mentioned a reason that a flexible work schedule could be requested was if a person has anxiety wearing a mask.  I thought back to my Dad’s final month on this Earth.  He was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and forced to wear a mask for oxygen.  To most people, it looked like a simple tube that went up his nose and up around his head.  However, my Dad had severe claustrophobia due to receiving the max lifetime radiation 20 years prior.    He had stage 4 cancer in 1999, and received radiation twice a day on his neck area.  During this time he wore a radiation mask to protect his face.  He took the radiation and wore the mask because there were not any other options if he wanted to have a longer life to spend with his friends and family.  However, after his experience wearing the radiation mask, he would get anxious if anything was over his face.  If his shirt got caught on his face while he was taking it on and off, he would feel panic.  I can’t imagine how he felt, but I can have compassion for him.  I could see the fear and the hell that wearing his COPD mask caused him for less than a month, and I can only imagine how he would feel if he was here today.  His voice was soft due to the radiation, and it became harder for him to speak and be heard.  Wearing a mask would have made it even harder for his words to be understood.  If he was here today, his weakened immune system would have made it hard for him to go out in public, but I can’t imagine that he would have been able to wear a mask.  He mentally could not do it.  It was simply too much for him.  I would like to think if anyone ever approached him in public during this time, they would have shown compassion instead of telling him to wear a mask, or talking about how disgusted they were to their friends.  But, it’s hard to tell.

I’ve heard that this pandemic will last a relatively short time, but the effects of this may last a lifetime. The same way that my Dad’s radiation treatments lasted a relatively short time, but the effects stayed with him the rest of his life.  The fear, division, and isolation that we are experiencing can’t be easily forgotten.  Your words and emotions have power, and you may not even know how you have affected someone, especially with so many consuming social media.  Whichever side of this debate you are on, I invite you to take a moment to breathe and consider another perspective before making an attack on anyone.  Seek to understand.  Do you want to affect others with loving or hateful words?  Will you use your words to tear someone down or lift them up?  How can you show compassion during this time?

Sound decisions come in the silence

Sound decisions come in the silence

Written by Tracey Lemming, Photo by David Besh from Pexels

I used to have a habit of overthinking things when it was time to make a decision, big or small.  And sometimes I still do! I’d make lists, research, and talk to loved ones about what they would do.  I’d look outside myself for some sort of validation.  Sitting on the fence for too long can definitely be worse than making a decision, and adjusting if need be.  I didn’t want to make the “wrong decision.”  The question is, is there ever really a wrong decision?

Sometimes we wish that things had gone a different way, but most of the time, we learn and grow.  We pivot, and take knowledge with us to make a better decision next time or help someone else with a new perspective along the way.  We can sulk about the past and what we should have done, or take responsibility for our decision, and see what good it has brought into our life, even if it was just the knowledge to not do that again.  There’s always a bright side.  However we choose to see it, that is our choice, and one more decision that we get to make.

There are times that you just know, and can’t explain why you make a certain decision, even if it looks like a strange idea to outsiders.  It’s called listening to your intuition, and it’s not often taught in our society where logic and facts and figures rule.  A few weeks before graduation at Purdue, I realized that the jobs that I was applying for with my soon-to-be Management major didn’t feel right.  They weren’t exactly what I wanted to do at the time, although I couldn’t explain why not. The thought of staying another year and getting my Accounting degree came to mind.  Probably should have thought about that earlier, but after speaking with my academic advisor, I realized that it was doable.  Taking a summer course and all Accounting courses my Super Senior year would give me a double major, as well as the required 150 credit hours to sit for the CPA exam.  Which I would pass a few years later!  And when I graduated a year later, I couldn’t have been happier and I was excited to take my first job in Accounting.  If I had looked for advice outside of myself, I may have been talked into graduating on time, and I would have missed out with an extra year with my friends!

As time has gone on, I have learned to trust and listen to my own intuition. There’s many times that I didn’t listen, and those were the times that I wished that I had.  Like when my intuition told me to visit my Grandma on a Friday night, but I chose to see a friend instead.  Not knowing that it would be my last weekend with her, I wish I would have listened to my inner wisdom.  But, it’s a lesson to learn and one more reason to trust your own intuition.

I believe that sound decisions come in the silence.  If we can take a moment to breathe, relax, and quiet our mind, this is when our internal guidance usually comes through.  Maybe you have a quiet space to sit in a comfortable chair, or maybe you like to hike and find a space in nature with the warmth of the sun and a gentle breeze.  It could even be a few moments in your car before walking into a home with your spouse and children.  Whatever feels best to you, go with it.  And the more that you can practice this, the louder and quicker your intuition will speak.  It’s a skill that I recommend as it will make your decisions easier.  No more making pros and cons lists, and spending precious energy wondering what if you make the wrong decision.  Checking in with how you are feeling and being open to receive will give you a smoother road on your journey.

Sometimes the guidance that you receive sounds crazy, but those are usually the times that you receive the biggest reward when you follow it. The next time you are faced with a decision, big or small, that you would normally look for advice from others, take a moment to breathe and listen to the silence. Observe your thoughts and any inspiration or nudges that you may receive. And take a moment to reflect, when’s the last time you followed your intuition and it led you to something great? When did you choose to listen to your head instead of your heart? Given the choice, which one would you listen to next time?

Where does your focus lie?

Where does your focus lie?

Where does your focus lie? Do you look for the problem or the solution? Do you know that there is a divine connection and believe that things are always working out of the highest good, or do you believe that we are living in a haphazard mess?

Even though a forest fire appears to be violent and destructive, the clearing that it provides is necessary for growth and vegetation to bloom. The whole ecosystem of the forest benefits from this otherwise tragic event. As hard as it is to observe, I recognize that humanity’s injustices must be shown before they can be cleared and healed. Awareness is the first step, and all that has been hidden for so long is being shown to us. This shadow is being revealed not to bring more suffering, but for us to decide as a collective, do we want more of the same, or do we want change? Are we willing to be divided, or can once and for all join in unity and release the the fragmented and unspeakable past?

A focus on unity, love, and peace is necessary as the world appears to fall apart. It is vital to take a look at what you are focusing on, and see a vision of clarity, compassion, and love. We are all responsible for what we choose to focus on. There is a greater plan, and this global reset is part of it. Listen to the birds, feel the sunshine, and take a deep breath. Nature is thriving at this moment. The steams are clearer and the air is fresher. There is good in this world. There is a divine connection between us all. Take a moment to reflect. Where does your focus lie?

I Love you

I Love you

Written by Tracey Lemming, Photo by Laurilyn Farms http://www.laurilynfarms.com/

At the beginning of 2018, I had a dream that something bad happened to my Grandma Fellure.  I can’t even remember it, but it woke me up and gave me a knowing that I needed to tell her that I loved her.  She was my only living grandparent, and I realized that once she was gone, I would miss her and her stories, and our connection to the past. I knew that my Grandma loved me, but the words weren’t often said.  We would talk on the telephone, but as life gets busy, sometimes we forget about those who we love the most, and don’t get the chance to speak as often as we would like.  

So, I called her a few days later.  I worked up the courage to tell her that I loved her.  She kept talking, and I was thinking, boy, maybe she didn’t hear me, or maybe she didn’t want to say it back.  I can’t remember if she said that she loved me too at the end of that conversation, but in the coming phone calls it became the words that we ended with.  ”Thanks for calling, and I love you.” Little did I know that it wasn’t my Grandma would leave this world in 2018, but her son, my Uncle Steve a few short months later.  She needed to hear the words “I love you” and the support of her loved ones.  She no longer had someone to stop by daily and have coffee with her.  I can’t imagine how she felt, knowing that she should have been the one who went first, not her child.  She had lost my Grandpa 19 years prior, but she said that losing a child was the worst.

Grandma got through the winter, and we continued to talk often.  I put in a reminder in my phone to call her frequently.  I always looked forward to the part of the conversation where she told me she loved me. I know she loved that part too because she told my Aunt how we always said “I love you” at the end of our phone calls. My last conversation with my Grandma was at the end of May 2019.  I was excited to tell her about the updates in my life, and how I was going to be starting my yoga teacher training soon.  She told me how proud of me she was for being me and all that I had done in my life.  That wasn’t something that I expected or heard often from her, but I was thankful for our conversation and her expressing this to me.  It meant so much to me at that moment.  I didn’t know that would be our last phone call, and would mean the world to me for the rest of my life.

When my Grandma fell and hit her head a week later, and the doctor’s determined that nothing else could be done, I hopped on a plane to see my Grandma and say my final goodbye.  Thankfully, although Grandma’s communication was limited, we knew that she knew we were with her.  And thankfully, she could still say “I love you.”  The same words that we had said to each other each time we spoke for the last year and a half.  The most important words that you can tell your loved ones.

Maybe you don’t often hear or say those words to some of your loved ones.  You assume that they know.  But, if there’s someone in your life who you haven’t said these words to in awhile or ever, consider telling them how you feel. It takes courage and can feel a bit awkward, as you don’t always know how the recipient will react.  Maybe they will say the words back immediately, or maybe they will keep talking as they weren’t expecting to hear this.  Either way, it doesn’t matter.  What if the words “I love you” were exactly what your loved one needed to hear, or exactly what you needed to say? It only takes a few moments to say these words.

At that moment

At that moment

Have you ever been the one who first hears your friend’s tragic news?  Maybe they call you, maybe they show up at your door. How do you react?  I’ve been the one who first heard of the tragedy when my friend’s boyfriend had left this world way too soon.  He was too young, and we were too young. How did I react? It’s hard to remember, but amidst the initial shock, I’m sure that I tried to be the strong one.  Allowing my friend to cry, but not wanting her to see my tears. I do remember hugging her and telling her it would be okay. Someone had to be strong. I had to be there for her.  But, what if the brave face that we try to put on isn’t what it needed at that moment?

When I received news of my Dad’s passing, I was initially in shock.  I came out of a yoga class, feeling calm, relaxed and ready for my Saturday.  I saw the missed calls on my phone and knew that wasn’t a good sign. My worst fears were true.  How could the world go on without my Dad? After a hug and an “I love you” from my teacher and calling my family, I called my friend Amanda. What if she didn’t pick up?  She had to pick up, and she did. As I shared my news and she talked to me as I drove home, I realized she was crying. I asked if she was crying, and she said yes, stating she wasn’t good in these situations.  Actually, she was perfect in this situation, at that moment. I didn’t need anyone to tell me it was going to be okay. I didn’t need anyone to be strong for the both of us. I needed someone to cry with me, 700 miles away.  My tears were her tears. Although she hadn’t ever suffered the loss of a parent, she could feel my pain and sadness. She may have wanted to be strong, but she didn’t have to be. She reacted authentically, as she knew that her friend had suffered a deep loss.  She shared her tears with me.

We all experience a wide range of emotions, amazing and not so amazing.  These emotions are what make the world and human experience beautiful. Our deepest emotions, our authenticity.  We have the choice to mask our feelings, or allow them to be expressed. We are taught to be strong. But, what if feeling and showing our true emotions is what is needed at that moment?  What if it isn’t weakness, but part of healing? So the next time your loved one calls you with devastating news, allow your tears to flow if you feel like crying. Allow your loved one to know that you feel their loss and share their pain.  Sometimes that is what they need. We can all put on a brave face another day, at another moment.

Giving Ourselves Grace

Giving Ourselves Grace

We all have those moments that we wish we could take back.  Maybe you are not feeling quite yourself, and your frustration comes across to your loved ones or even a stranger.  Maybe it’s a word that can’t be taken back, or maybe it’s a look on your face. Once you retreat, you feel terrible.  Why did you act that way? How can you make it better? 

It’s easy to blame it on the weather or the lack of sleep you got last night.  But, what was the real reason? If we take the time to reflect, we can usually find it.  Once we are aware of our emotions, we have the choice to feel bad about ourselves or to take responsibility and forgive ourselves.  Often times, our one moment of weakness is something that we continue to replay in our minds, only making ourselves feel worse. But there are other options.  What if we treat ourselves like our best friend would, and give ourselves grace? What if we allow ourselves to forgive ourselves instead of magnifying our flaws? What if we take a moment to journal and give ourselves the space to figure out what is really happening?

As human beings, we are experiencing a whole range of emotions and thoughts, while trying to appear like we have it all together.  We are rewarded for our accomplishments, and time spent renewing our spirits can be put on the back burner. But, if we don’t take time for ourselves, no one else will.  So, the next time you aren’t feeling as good as you would like to, take a few moments to breathe, check in, and give yourself grace.

Beauty in the Unknown

Beauty in the Unknown

Written by Tracey Lemming

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

I like to know what to expect.  If I am going somewhere unfamiliar (or even familiar), I like to set my map so I know exactly when I need to leave in order to arrive on time, the best route, and where the traffic may be.  If I’m going to a new restaurant, I like to read the menu online so I’m prepared on what to order, and read the reviews so I know others opinions.

We live in a world where so much can be anticipated, so much can be planned.  I once was talking with my friend Amanda about how most people go to the same 25 places, even though we live in a world with so many options.  We go to the same Target, the same Post Office, and park in the same spots. Think about it. When was the last time you went to a new store or park, just for the fun of it?

Our minds like routines, and we feel like we are more efficient and prepared when we know what to expect.  But where does the growth and beauty lie? It lies in the unknown. It lies in pushing ourselves outside of our comfort zone and trying something new.  It’s in the space to explore and learn. After awhile, the unknown becomes our new routine. It becomes our new normal. Then the question is, what next?

Sometimes we choose to try the unknown, but sometimes it’s forced on us.  Our world falls apart as we know longer know the exact path to follow. What once fit, no longer does.  We lose a loved one or suffer a loss, and our world changes. We can’t go back, even though we want to. We are forced to navigate a new path.  The person we were is no longer there, and others don’t always understand. How can they? They are forced to navigate a new path as well, as you become a new version of yourself.  They expect you to act in a familiar way, and your new way of being throws them for a loop as well. Maybe they reach out, maybe they don’t. Maybe they give advice when it’s not asked.  But listening to the wisdom of your own soul is the only knowing that you need. You know that there’s a lesson in this all. You know that your story can help someone, and that even though you can’t always see it, there is beauty in the unknown.