How close are your friends?

How Close Are Your Friends? Answer honestly.

If I were to ask you about your closest friends, what would you tell me about them? Would it line up with what I could read about them online? Think about that for a moment…

How close are your friends?

Do You REALLY Know Your Friends?   Do they REALLY know you?

Her sons came up and played the bean toss with me during Light the Night several years ago. We’d had to move indoors because of rain and my daughter and I were manning the bean bag toss. Suddenly these young boys are hanging out with me, melting my heart. One of them was the age my son Diego would have been if he had been able to take his first breath outside of my womb and another was the age of an unnamed son who was my youngest daughter’s twin. As he spoke with me and played the game and asked me a million questions, I began to heal inside in a place I didn’t realize was still wounded.

That was how I met her and her husband.

For years I had read her blog and enjoyed the reality with which she spoke. She didn’t hide things. She didn’t sugar coat things. She just typed with this blatant honesty that most of us would cover up, run from, hide somewhere no one could ever find. I enjoyed her candor. At the time in my life, it was a breath of fresh air, as my mask was all too quickly becoming one with my skin.

Could I really be friends with someone who is so raw? So uncut?

It was such an odd experience to be standing face to face with this woman. That moment I realized SHE was the woman whose blog I read…I was somewhat starstruck. I mean…isn’t that creepy? To read someone’s intimate thoughts and suddenly they are standing in front of you? How do we end up in the same church when she is from 3000 miles away? How is it that I am face to face with the woman who speaks in ways I only dream I could? Can we really become friends?

And we did. We became friends.

That is what leads me to this post. I moved eight months ago to a new state. In the months leading up to the move, she and I had several occasions of sneaking off for breakfast, eating ice cream along the drawbridge, laughing at silly things, crying at times. More than once I asked to steal her for a few hours only to return a half a day later. I would steal her children from time to time to watch movies and enjoy some time away from the house. I would watch the kids so she and her husband could get away…though truthfully they could have without me but humored me in thinking they needed me to be there as it was a safer excuse than admitting I liked spending time with the seven children and my daughter, laughing and listening to stories.

I have missed her while being away. A lot. We have spoken a few times and texted a bit. Interacted on Facebook, but nothing like the friends I have monthly phone calls with or am texting with often. Yet when I knew I would be visiting home, she was the first person I texted and wanted to spend time with the day I arrive.

Tonight I was reading through some blogs I have not read in a while. Hers was one of them. I saw a link I had not noticed previously, and I read it. And I read it again… How had she been through all of this as I was walking alongside her yet I didn’t know?

These questions brought me to this realization:

We have been friends for several years, have talked about many things, have laughed and cried together….yet we haven’t truly opened up to one another. We are both writers – but that doesn’t make us good communicators in speech. In fact, I would say writers are probably some of the worst people when it comes to adequately expressing their thoughts in spoken word because we are so used to being able to edit ourselves.

But what if we didn’t edit ourselves?

What if when I see her this upcoming month, instead of being that friend who laughs and cries, I become the friend who lives it out alongside her? What if I allow myself to open up to her and she does the same to me? What if these two writer ladies who will bare their souls to the world yet stays somewhat (and I use that loosely because we are both seemingly very open people until you realize all that lies beneath) reserved when it comes to each other would stay unedited – just speak as it comes?

I walked alongside her for the diagnosis and learning what was happening. I knew of the treatment and even asked how she was doing afterward – yet somehow I overlooked the part about the smiling. I knew what was going on yet somehow missed the key healing that was taking place. I knew what was going on but I…

didn’t have a clue.

Let’s be honest. I knew the superficial stuff. I was so absorbed in my own world and my own problems that I missed this wonderful testimony being written right in front of me. How sad.

We are now 2000 miles apart and are about to spend some time together when I visit home in the upcoming months. As I visit my goal is to truly get to know her – to live out loud and in the moment of being able to speak like we write. I want to leave knowing those wonderful stories firsthand, not from reading her blog…and I want to share with her how important she is to me…maybe even before this one publishes.

What’s In This For You?

I am so glad you asked. I challenge you to think about your friends. Think about what you know about them and how your conversations tend to play out. If they have blogs, read them and see if you knew all that was going on. If you did, great! If you didn’t, make time with your friends to learn more about them from their mouths versus through the screen.

In this every-connected society it is too easy to ignore that we aren’t truly connecting with folks. We read their status and blogs and think we know there, but there is so much more that lies beneath, that lies untouched. When we can pull the worlds together into a heart-to-heart connection, it is then – and only then – that we will have a solid friendship that transcends time and space.

anais

Until next time,

~Shell

Picking up the Pen

Picking Up the Pen…It’s that Time Again

Picking up the Pen

I feel like every time I say I will do something, I am distracted before I have the change to follow through…unless it is a paid gig. If I am “working” I am always able to focus, get things completed, and continue day after day. I do this even if I hate what I am doing; call it work ethic. Call it a flawed one.

Over the past two years most of my time has been spent in digital marketing and editing (hence the poorly written blog posts with terrible editing since they are my own). I have ensured others reach their dreams and get their product into others’ hands while my writing has sat crying off in the sideline, wanting attention but receiving none. A few months ago a reality hit me: 40 is too soon upon me and life is too precious to waste working in positions I am no longer able to put my full heart into. I became tired of waking up wishing I could go back to sleep, of ending work and wishing it were time for bed. I started yearning for more time with my daughter and my writing. More time doing the things I love.

And so I picked up my pen again.

Planning_Laughable

I accepted a freelance assignment that once again involves true writing versus editing and offering new insight. An assignment that involves developing characters and bringing an audience in to their worlds. An assignment that scares me more than it excites me and because of that thrills me more than any I have worked on before. I am dreaming again, seeing again, and being who I am and what I was created to me.

With this assignment came the realization of how much I didn’t like marketing. How much I didn’t want to sell someone’s products or services anymore but instead want to sell unknown worlds, characters, and dreams to people willing to read. With this assignment came an opening of a door I had closed because I doubted my ability to remain full time as a freelance writer.

I started coming up with an exit strategy. I started writing more and marketing less. I slowly decreased my hours and quickly started writing as fast as my hand would go. And from within me came the things that I am going to bring forth into the world within the next year.

I don’t know what is next. I have it written in pencil so the plans can change as I feel inclined to change them (what’s new?). But I have a plan…and that is more than I have had for the past two years.

When I set out on my current journey, I had a much different idea of what life would look like today, nearly eight months down the path. Yet I feel okay with what I am doing. I am right where I need to be at this moment to ensure I am set up for success in my future. I am where I need to be to regain my confidence and set forth on the path of writing, teaching, and going after the dreams that I have long ago pushed aside. It is time to recall dreams I forgot I had, and truly step into who I am to be. The woman I am becoming.

I have again picked up the pen…and this time I plan to use it for its intended purpose instead of to jot down a few thoughts and move on. I don’t know what that looks like, but I know it does mean becoming more active in blogging and within my community (in person). I also know it means finally releasing one of the books I have been working on. I have to set goals and attain them over the next few months. This means working for myself as well as for others. I am good at working for others but not for myself – I always move myself to the bottom of the list. But as I pick up my pen tonight, as I take a break from my assignment to work on this post, I realize:

I am enough.

And with that realization comes the knowledge that my book is just as worthy of my time as my authors’ books, my future clients’ books, and current clients’ work outside of marketing and ghostwriting.

This realization is powerful and one we all need.

Pick up your pen. Listen to your inner critic and overcome the negativity. Start working on that project you have been pushing off. You won’t regret it. You will appreciate it.

Until next time,

~Shell

Crows, Roadkill, and...Life Decisions

Crows, Roadkill, and…Life Decisions

I find it amusing when I look at the subject of my last post and then consider the amount of time that has passed. Life has not been going as I have planned it to. But it is going as it should. Clearly I have failed my blogging once a week goal. But tonight I have some thoughts to share. Bear with me, as I am thinking this through as I type – if I don’t, it will be another few months before I blog. So here it is…

Crows, Roadkill, and...Life Decisions

This morning I was driving in slow traffic and witnessed a crow trying to get to roadkill. The roadkill was very tiny to the drivers passing it by, but to the crow…well, it could have fed the entire murder of crows. I was stuck watching this event for about three minutes, as my side of the road was very slow. He would hop into the middle of the road, get about 3/4 of the way to the roadkill and then have to back hop away quickly back to the side of the road because of car. A few times he was about an inch away from where his beak could have just reached down to grab it and fly away. A few things have been running around my mind, as he never did get to enjoy his food. The first was how big that small piece of roadkill was to him…yet how small it was to me. Perspective. So many things in life come down to perspective.

I thought of how in life we are often so close to what we need and have been looking for but we allow distractions to come and detour us from our goal or prize. In this case, the crow could have stood still by the road kill, which was in the center of the road, EVERY TIME a car passed. That is, if he had inched one or two steps closer to the center of the road, he would have been okay and not been hit AND he would have had the food to feed the murder. How many times have you been so close but stepped the wrong way?

Then I thought of it from another perspective – each car brought him away from the roadkill and back to the side of the road. When at the side, he was looking around at what he could do. You could almost imagine him thinking strategically about which angle to go at this time. It was like a Frogger game only it didn’t have annoying music and was a bit more entertaining. I found myself rooting for him. I wondered, what if the cars were saving him from something good. We see things at times and think they are so good for us but when we get a closer look we find that they aren’t as they appear. What if as he got close to the roadkill each time, he was purposefully choosing to back away because he was seeing something that looked questionable – but yet he was drawn to it because it looked good. How many times do we do that? We keep going back to something because we question our first thoughts or our gut feelings. Yeah – you. You know exactly what I am talking about! LET IT GO. Stop going back to it. Instead, get back on the side and keep walking forward with your head high knowing that where you are drawn AWAY from something there is usually something so much better down the road. Stop questioning your intuition and that still soft voice and just move into that place you are called, away from that friendship that is toxic and deceitful, down the road to where the butterflies inspire you and the rainbows speak to you!

Finally, as I was reflecting about tonight and some of the amazing people I am surrounded by daily and the great minds I am able to work with each year, each month, each day, I thought of how amazing the little things in life are. Sometimes we want so badly to have something that we will do anything to get it. We will continue to run into traffic believing that if we can just get to that special prize we will be content and happy. And sometimes that is exactly what happens. But other times we need to look around us, see the messages, hear with our spiritual ears not our natural ears, and understand that sometimes you just have to walk back to the side of the road and trust that you are not giving up something good but that you are walking toward something better.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Comment below.

Until next time,

Shell

HowToDeal...

What To Do When Life Doesn’t Go As Planned…

HowToDeal...How was your week? Mine was anything BUT what I had planned. While it wasn’t all bad, I ran into a few kinks with headaches that led to me staying in bed more than I wanted to. Then my little one got sick and well, we all know how that goes. We have been making the switch to a more natural life and our bodies are fighting back a little bit – letting us know we have been keeping them filled with chemical goodness for too long (more on that in another post soon). So my week of superior performance, exciting new routines, and overwhelming joy became anything but. I failed to meet my expectations of excellence weekly and therefore was really bummed last night that my first week of the year felt like a failure.

But was I?

Did I fail because I couldn’t be a superstar all week? I finally caught up on some much needed sleep, was able to spend time with my little one that she enjoyed (we don’t get to curl up in bed and cuddle in the middle of the day very often), and was able to enjoy some quiet time with the Lord. This seems to be a pretty good exchange – though I wouldn’t want to do it every week … I do have bills to pay!

How Do You Deal with Unexpected Trials?

Think for a moment about the last time you had an unexpected trial. Missed hours at work that result in a lower paycheck. Job loss. Bill increase. Family member acting out. Accident. Major or minor, when we reflect upon how we respond to trials, we see a pattern. We react a specific way nearly every time trial comes. What do you do?

  • Run?
  • Accept the change freely and figure out a way to move on?
  • Get upset and start calling in favors?
  • Pray?
  • Call a friend?

How You Should Deal with Unexpected Trials

Unless you approach the challenge with grace and excitement about what you can learn, there is something you can change next time an unexpected trial comes – and it will. We choose how we react though. A wise Connecticut pastor I served under for years stated, “I have never had any trials. I have had many opportunities for growth.” I love that – let’s start looking at our trials as opportunities to learn something. Next time you experience an unexpected derailment from your plan, try these tips:

  • Don’t react right away.
  • Breathe slowly and take time to process WHY the event happened.
  • Take time to pray, meditate, and center yourself. This will be key in moving forward – to do so with a calm mind.
  • Call someone who can help you through the situation, if needed. If you are missing a day of work and are worried about how you will pay your bills, call a friend who is great at stretching their money. If you have been let go from your job, call a friend with experience in writing resumes and interviewing.
  • Write down the steps you need to take to move forward. Do you need to reevaluate your entire plan, or just modify the next few steps? Some setbacks actually propel you into new purpose and excitement in your life! Look for the opportunity and ensure your plan stays the course.
  • Purpose within yourself that you will NOT let this derail you but will instead look for opportunities. A friend recently lost his father. Instead of looking at the funeral as a sad event, he looked forward to the opportunity to see folks he hadn’t seen in a while and even reestablished several relationships. Look for the silver lining, so to say, in your situation.

Move Forward in Confidence

I am not suggesting that you will never have moments to cry, feel down, or think that life is caving down. In fact, I loved a statement Karen C.L. Anderson wrote a while back, “Feeling uncomfortable emotion is the cornerstone of good mental, emotional, and physical health.” There are going to be times that you have to process the uncomfortable to get to the place where you can move on. The steps above don’t have a set timeline with each of them. Instead, take time to be fully present and aware of each step and experience the emotion within them. Then, move forward and know that you are a conqueror. Every trial presents us with an opportunity to grow. Let’s make this year one in which all of our trials become the steps upon which we reach new heights.

Until next time,

~Shell