Division doesn’t go away overnight, but I wish that it did. As the presidency changes hands, I see mixed emotions on social media. Some people are celebrating, and some are fearful of the future and the unknown. I believe that individual people make up the nation, and it cannot be saved by one person or one particular political party. There is still so much for us to do as individuals. Perhaps the last year or so has brought to light injustice that has always been there, hidden beneath the surface. Maybe it was shown to us to give us an opportunity to clear the negativity from the nation’s soul, and rebuild with unity and love. Without awareness, a change cannot be made. Will we choose to fight with our fellow humans and emphasize the division, or will we choose to create a new world of peace and understanding? What will you do to help America heal?
By Tracey Lemming
I began to wonder about the gaps in my writing. Had I stopped? No, I started writing just for me. Stories of beauty. Stories of faith. Stories of Love. During the last month, my blog posts stopped, but my connection to the truth became strong. I am loved beyond belief. And so are you. Each moment is a blessing, and noticing this only happens when you are present. The landscape of our world has been filled with much anxiety, but I feel a shift towards more peace and love. I feel the release of worries and fears. I am connected to the truth, and so are you. We don’t need anyone else to tell us what is true for us. We don’t need to defend it or explain it. Your truth may not be my truth, and that is okay. We don’t have to see eye to eye, but we must be willing to lead with love. Imagine if we always gave someone else the benefit of the doubt. Imagine if we didn’t create a negative story, but instead showed love and compassion, knowing that all is working out in the best case scenario. Letting go of the need to be right and to make someone else wrong. What if we found that our truth was within us all along?
Presence. It’s a gift, and to me it means being fully invested in the moment. It’s listening intently to the person who is speaking to you. Not thinking about what you will be saying next, or any other distraction that comes up to take space in your mind. Presence is being fully engaged with all of our senses. Seeing the beauty in the moment, no matter how hard it is, and not looking for an escape. Being okay with the unknown that is surrounding us and embracing what we are experiencing in our current reality.
We all have 24 hours in our days, and we get to decide how we spend our time. It’s so easy to zone out, and allow our minds to be racing on a loop of thoughts that do not serve us. It’s easy to scroll on social media or reach for ice cream when you are bored or upset. In the moment, it feels like a good option, but usually doesn’t leave us feeling uplifted or energized. How can we use the gift of presence for ourselves and the people in our life?
The past month, I found myself spending more time on social media than I wanted to, and I realized that I was using it as an escape from my feelings and having to completely experience the now. When I didn’t want to think about the grief that I was going through, I found that it was easier to distract myself with mindless scrolling. I didn’t have to feel any sadness or heaviness if I gave my mind somewhere else to go. Unfortunately, the grief never went away, and I would just end up feeling worse about myself in the comparison/negative news of social media. What if we absorb ourselves in our day to day life instead of finding a getaway? How would we feel? Possibly more inspired and connected to this world and our loved ones?
When we are distracted in the present moment, that’s time that we can’t get back. Time is our most valuable possession, and we each get the choice to decide how we use ours. How does it feel when you are talking to someone, and they are clearly in another world? It doesn’t feel good, and it makes you feel not so important. Distracting yourself from your life is the same thing, and gives yourself the same sign that you aren’t important either. Mary Kay Ash once said that you should imagine each person in your life with an invisible sign that says “Make me feel important.” How simple is that? Giving your full and undivided attention to the person in front of you. Really listening and hearing what is spoken. Not just listening to their words, but reading their body language as well. So many people need someone to listen to them, especially in our current times. Connection is needed now more than ever. How can you connect with others? Who has been on your mind who would love to hear from you?
There were many times over the last year that I didn’t want to be present, but I was as in the moment as I could be. When my Grandma was in the hospital and in home hospice, I didn’t want to be present. I wanted to be anywhere else, but I also knew that there would be a time that I would miss being there in that moment with my Grandma and our family, even if it was so hard. I would miss holding her hand, and being so exhausted from all of the sadness and unknown. And I didn’t want to be present in November when I drove my Dad and I home, and he started playing songs on his phone that he wanted played at his funeral. I fought back tears and didn’t want to hear the songs or see the meaning of what he was trying to prepare me for, but I also knew as we drove, I would someday miss that moment. I would want to be in his truck, trying to pretend that I didn’t know what he was telling me that his time on Earth was coming to a close. I didn’t want to be in his truck hearing Brad Paisley and Dolly Parton sing “As I get where I’m going” with my Dad in the passenger seat, but now I would give anything to go back to that drive on the cold, windy day. Writing these words takes me right back to those very hard moments, but my hope is that in sharing them, someone who may someday be in my shoes can do their best to show up for their loved ones and themselves in this moments. Is there something in your life you’d rather not deal with and find an escape from? How can you bring yourself back into the now?
There’s so many ways to become preoccupied, but there’s also ways to bring ourselves back into the moment. Each moment is a new beginning. My phone is a big distraction for me, and I have added an app to track my screen time which has helped me to see how much time I am really spending on it. I removed the notifications from a lot of my apps on my phone, and have put it outside of my bedroom when used as my alarm clock. I started putting to-do items and papers in an inbox, then dealing with them at a certain time instead of always feeling like there was something that needed my attention. This all is a work in process, but reminding myself to be conscious and aware has helped. Maybe try making an effort to become more mindful when you drink a glass or water or eat a meal. In nature, it’s easier for me to be present as I listen to the birds and watch the branches sway in the wind. I believe that awareness is the first step. Do you have any tips for being more present in your life?
I encourage you to take a moment to assess your ability to be present for yourself and others. Know that we all have time that we wish we could take back, but we get a blank sheet each day to write our new story. Being present isn’t always easy, but I believe that it is always worth it. I am choosing to be present instead of looking for an escape in these unknown times. Is there anything in your life that you wish that you were spending less time doing? What are some ways that you can become engaged while in a conversation? How could you be more present and show up for yourself and others?
By Tracey Lemming
Think back to a moment in your life when a call was answered. When a prayer was answered. Was it immediate, or did it take years to receive? I believe that we all have times in our lives when we can look back and see the connection of a call and a response in our life. Sometimes it feels as if we will never receive the answer, but if we keep our mind fixed on what we want, it will come to fruition. Is there a question that you have been asking to a higher power? Are you sowing seeds of expectancy, or seeds of doubt?
Growing up, I knew that I needed jaw surgery to correct my bite. It was hard to chew and only my back teeth touched, putting a lot of pressure on them. This could lead to serious problems if it wasn’t corrected. When my older sister was in high school, she had the same jaw surgery that I needed. At the time, my Dad’s insurance paid for her surgery, but when I was old enough for it, the insurance companies considered it a cosmetic/elective surgery and would not pay for it. Knowing at a young age that this condition existed, the orthodontist gave me a dental appliance to wear to try to correct my bite. Unfortunately it didn’t work. Surgery would be the answer, and surgery was very expensive.
After college, I again met with my orthodontist and he referred me to a specialist. Again, I heard “well you really need to have this surgery, but it will not be covered by insurance.” The specialist and orthodontist wrote letters and sent x-rays to the insurance company showing why the surgery was medially necessary, but the claim was denied. Of course I adapted and was able to chew, but the jawline affected my profile and how I appeared to the world. I was always self-conscious of this. I didn’t feel as confident or as beautiful as I wanted to on the outside. I didn’t want to draw a lot of attention to myself, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but now I see that it affected my ability to speak my truth. It was easier to blend in and not be seen.
When I moved to North Carolina, I asked my Human Resources contact for recommendations on finding a dentist, and I went to the one that she recommended within a few months of moving there. Of course, on my initial exam, the dentist asked me if anyone ever told me that I need jaw surgery. Well yes, I’ve been told this my whole life I explained, but the cost is so much, and wouldn’t be covered by insurance. Of course, I would love to have this surgery, but it really did feel like a dead end road after years of hearing no. My dentist mentioned an oral surgeon down the road who was great, and she encouraged me to meet with her. She said that she had a really good track record of getting this surgery approved by insurance. I agreed to meet with her and could feel some hope coming back.
When I met with the oral surgeon, I felt like I had finally gone to the right doctor. I trusted her and her opinion, and I felt comfortable with her and her recommendations. With this surgery being on my face, I really wanted to make sure that the doctor was someone who I could trust and cared for me as a person and patient. After going over options, she recommended upper jaw surgery only, which would be less expensive and invasive. After thinking of the expense as a really expensive car, I decided to go ahead with the process, whether insurance covered it or not. I knew that this would be the best for me in the long run and decided to invest in myself. I would have braces for a year, which would actually make things “worse” but give my teeth room for the the surgery to be performed. The next year of braces, would be pulling everything back together to perfect my smile. I was so thankful for this process, and I knew that it would not only help me to chew easier, but I thought that it would also help my confidence as well. It did just that, and I really felt beautiful inside and out.
Throughout the 2 year process, friends and family were there to help. I was thankful to have the time to go to my appointments. My parents and niece Claire came down for the surgery and stayed for a week. I know that they wished they could have stayed longer to help, but when they left, my Mary Kay director was there to take me to appointments and make sure that I had enough food (mostly mashed potatoes, soups, ensure protein drinks), since I couldn’t chew for a few weeks. At this time, I also learned the power of visualization and listening to healing tracks. I now know the power that your mind and subconscious have on your body, and this definitely sped up my healing.
About 6 months into the braces and process, the insurance company partially approved my surgery, and I was so thankful that I only had to pay the max out of pocket expenses. I learned that when you take a step towards what you want, you will always be provided for in some way or another. I truly believe that one of the reasons that I was led to North Carolina was to have this surgery. The doctors in the area (UNC and Duke) are some of the best in the world. I even was able to have my surgery in a specialty hospital that had the lowest infection rate in the state of North Carolina. And at this hospital, I was assured, even when my 24 hours were up, I would not be “kicked out” and would be given the time to be discharged when I was ready. It was truly a great experience from the start to the finish.
After another year of braces, I could finally see my vision realized. I was so happy to finally feel as beautiful as I always wanted to. My prayer wasn’t answered when I wanted it to be, but there was a better and more aligned time for me to go through this process. I truly believe that finally having the surgery that I had hoped I would someday have was a huge reason that my journey led me to North Carolina. Within months of arriving, the 2 year process was set in motion. The right people showed up at exactly the right time. Had I had the surgery when I wanted, I may have had both upper and lower jaw surgery as recommended, which may not have been necessary. I may not have been as happy with my results and the process as I am. I may not have had such a great experience and the insurance approval of the surgery. It was truly a great experience, and I know that this call was answered in perfect timing.
So, the next time that you have a prayer, know that it may not be answered on your time. But, it may be answered in a more aligned and perfect time for you. It’s easy to give up hope, and the surgery was something I wanted for many years. I knew that it would improve my quality of life, and it did. It was truly a gift, and I believe if you hold a vision in your mind and let go of how and when it “should” happen, you may be surprised when your call is answered. But when it is, you will know without a doubt that it was. Plant seeds of faith, and know that your desire is on it’s way. Allow yourself to relax and let go of the need to control. Allow the higher power in your life to surprise and delight you in the unfolding of your journey. There is so much unknown, but do your best to remain positive, and celebrate the signs that you are headed in the right direction. When you are call is answered, you will know and the winding roads will all make sense. Is there something you have been praying for for years? Are you keeping the faith?
By Tracey Lemming
In our lives, there will be times when we lose pieces of our puzzle. We know that our world won’t ever be the same again. One by one, we put the pieces back together. But, it looks different. Maybe we add in pieces that we didn’t know we had and take more out along the way. Do we give up because it won’t look like the version that we expected when we started? Or do we keep going and create a new puzzle with missing and imperfect pieces?
When I spent 4 months in Indiana during COVID-19, my Mom and I put together a few puzzles. It was an activity that I enjoyed, but hadn’t done in quite awhile (beside a rainy beach day in vacation mode). Seldom did I allow myself the time and space just to enjoy simply putting together a puzzle. The first one was 1,000 pieces and a Fall leaves scene. At first, it was overwhelming. So many pieces, and they all looked alike! But, as we kept going, it got easier, and it was easier to differentiate between the leaves on the trees from the leaves on the ground. It took patience, presence, and perseverance. Throughout the process, it was fun to find the pieces that fit together. The second puzzle that we decided to tackle was already together when we saw it, but it was missing a piece. We chose to tear it apart and put it back together anyway. Knowing that it was missing a piece didn’t make the activity any less enjoyable. We could have decided that it wasn’t worth our time and energy knowing that it wouldn’t be perfect when it was finished, but had we chosen to not try, we would have missed out on the joy that was still there in the puzzle.
The last few months have left many of us unsure of what path to take, what piece to hold and put down. We can’t quite see over the horizon. Mountains are in the way that weren’t there before. It’s all unknown. Plans that we had were suddenly changed, and we have the choice to surrender to what is, or to fight for what we knew before. Unfortunately, we can’t go back. This life as we knew it is completely changed. Whether you have suffered the loss of a loved one, a job, or an every day activity, it’s okay to take the time to mourn your loss. Giving yourself the time and space to grieve your loss is one of those “self-care” activities that is easy to bypass, but I believe that it’s important to fully heal. Your loss is yours, and mine is mine, but collectively we can show compassion for one another. No one knows the magnitude of your grief but you. No one knows how many pieces are missing from your puzzle, and no one knows what you may find when you begin looking for new pieces.
I would love to go back to a time when all my loved ones were still here to see the sun rise each morning. I would love to be able to hug my Uncle Steve, my Grandma Fellure, and my Dad. I will see many sunrises and sunsets without them, which feels so unbearable at times. If I could only go back 2 years, or 14 months, or just 8 months, maybe things could be different. But, I choose to keep going. I choose to put the pieces of the puzzle back together. Doing my best to honor my loved ones by sharing their stories and sharing mine. Knowing that the puzzle will look different than expected when it’s complete, and that’s okay. There will be pieces added and removed along the way. But, there will also be a lot of love and joy in the journey. We all get the choice to decide where we go from here. Will you give up on it all, or will you continue to put together your imperfect pieces?
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?
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?
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?
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.