Out Of The Fog: What Happened To 2021?

I feel as though I have been living in a fog the past two weeks or so. The last thing I remember was researching and writing about Charles Schultz and the significance of A Charlie Brown Christmas. And now here we are, January 4, 2022. The simple story is that I got sick. Covid test was negative, I only took one; however, the symptoms were very much like a friend of mine who did test positive. In addition to the physical symptoms, I was in a mental fog. I just existed, interacted when needed but basically was not mentally with the program. I felt like I had hit a brick wall, both physically and mentally. Fortunately by Christmas Eve I felt well enough to host my family and then I collapsed for another week. And, that brings us to today.

Onwards Into 2022

I have the well deserved reputation for starting things but never finishing them. Call it short attention span or creativity run amuck, whatever causes this personality trait, I wish there was a vaccine for it that actually worked. Therefore, there are no big resolutions. I don’t need the baggage of failing yet again – said very tongue in cheek. I don’t really feel bad about quitting; I accepted this part of me many years ago and I avoid people who try to make me feel bad.

No, instead of resolutions I have a couple of things that I am calling my Focal Points for this year. No specific tasks or firm goals, just areas of my life to focus my heart, mind and body. We will look back at the end of the year to find how this focus shifts the quality of my life from so-so to rich and full.

God

Without God nothing makes sense. This is a complicated subject in many ways. My relationship with God is uniquely mine. I have written about my move away from organized religion. But I have not moved away from God, in fact that relationship is stronger than when I depended on an organization for the definition of my relationship. I feel a definite tug on my heart to give back and do more. Now that I know we are staying in this community I want to get involved somewhere – maybe even get to know my neighbors, most of whom are new. There is much I can do to move outside of myself and allow God to work through me. It just requires leaving the house occasionally.

Family

Family Fun

We are all born into a family and then we go into the world and make our own families. These days what is considered a family doesn’t look like it did when I was growing up. Friend circles, blended families, adopted families all fill the need we have to belong.

In June we made room for our oldest granddaughter to live with us. The details aren’t important. She needed a safe place to land and we are that place. In six months she is well on her way to creating her own life and learning what it means to be an adult. It is a joy to watch the transformation. This move caused some stress in other areas, but as the months rolled by, those things began to ease and it all culminated with the best Christmas we have spent together, maybe ever. Our daughter, son-in-law, and other two granddaughters joined the three of us for an evening of laughter, giving, eating and love. It was the perfect ending to a crazy year.

So, this year I will focus on my family – the one I chose. I married a man and received a daughter in the deal. These relationships deserve my time and attention and quite frankly, I love being the mom who sets the stage for family fun. Also, while we have our granddaughter here to care for the house and the dogs, we are going to do some of the traveling we have been unable to do in the past. Our lives together have always been focused on externals – parents, child, grandchildren, ex-spouses, etc. Our life has not been our own, but now it is our time. We have earned this, and will live out the motto, “If not now, when?” Neither of us are getting any older.

Home

Christmas at Stately Means Manor

We have vacillated for many years on whether this is where we would live forever. I wanted to move; he didn’t. Just when I got him to agree (despite little voices of doubt in my head), we moved heaven and earth to make room for a teenager. Shortly after that I realized that my home is here. I have bargained with God for years to let me live somewhere else. It has only taken me thirty three years to finally decide to settle down and stay put. So, I will now focus on making this house the home I have always wanted.

Kitchen Remodel

First comes a new kitchen. Other than new appliances and my attempts at DIY, this kitchen has not seen an upgrade since it was built in 1985. It is time. After the kitchen I will move outdoors. We have a large backyard that has never been used. That is going to change. My goal is less grass and more fun. I want this to be the home our family wants to gather to make more memories.

Continuous Threads

Textile collage: “Security”

I come from a long line of creative people and I must have a creative outlet. One day, as I looked at one of my grandmother’s quilts, the name Continuous Threads came to me and I knew I wanted to use it in some way. I saw myself and my desire to repair her quilt as a way to continue her life and story. I got nervous because I knew I didn’t have the skill set yet, so I set it aside. But, this will be the year I will patch, mend and sew to bring this cherished quilt back to life.

It has been a journey of a couple of years, but the vision is beginning to form. For now I am learning all I can about hand stitching and embroidery including reading books about the historical aspects of textiles and their relationship to us and our quality of life. The past seventeen years have been very much wool, hand spinning yarn and knitting focused, but now I am ready for something different. I am ready to create with needle, thread, fabric and assorted found objects that tell a story. I am ready to mend clothes and my grandmother’s quilt. I am ready to weave cloth for uses I haven’t even determined yet. I am ready to learn and share with a younger generation so that these skills continue to be valued and passed to along. Our history matters.

Textiles Tell Stories

If this subject interests you as well, I have an Instagram account, @continuousthreads as well as Continuous Threads, a separate website and blog for my textile adventures.

Onwards Into The Future

With my new focus this year I am not promising a posting schedule that life can erase in the blink of an eye. I would like to post once a week and have it be an informative and entertaining glimpse into my life. But, truthfully, from now on I write this for my family and a few close friends who care. I want to leave something behind. I have no biological legacy, but I have left a trail of Sheryl everywhere I have been in my life. For the most part I think the trail has been a good one but I’m working very hard to stop over thinking and analyzing. It is a worthless waste of time and emotion.

So, there you have it. Out of the fog of 2021 (how appropriate the year ended in a state of mental fog?) and into the light. It is going to be a good year despite what goes on in the world around us. By staying connected to God and focusing on living a life that is full of loving kindness to all who cross my path I can’t go wrong and the trail I leave in my wake will make the world a better place. What more can we ask for in life?

Until next time,

Quantum Physics & The Art Of Letting Go

I’m a clinger. I cling to those I love, the things I love (or think I might use again one day), and I cling to ways of thinking that are no longer productive. Letting go of any of these lifestyle choices is frightening. The “what if” monster starts whispering in my ear and fear of the unknown takes up residence in my brain.

Now, before I go any farther down this rabbit hole, I need to make something quite clear. I have not fallen into the realm of satan and I have not lost my faith. Quite the contrary. During the past few months, as I draw nearer to God and Jesus, I have begun to see and hear, evaluate and either accept or dismiss spiritual concepts that, prior to this, I automatically dismissed because they didn’t fit with my traditional view of God and the world. I was simply unable to ask questions or think anything outside the mainstream; it was too frightening. I had to cling to the belief system as I had come to know it or what else is there?

Then God began doing an amazing work in me. I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe that when I am in tune with God, listening and waiting for Him to guide me, He is right there with me. I read Holy Scripture, meditate on what I read and know that in the fullness of His time, God will reveal his truth to me and increase my understanding. This is just one of the gifts given to us when Jesus came to earth and then died a sacrificial death. We no longer need high priests to mediate for us with God. We can go directly to the source. Thank you Jesus!

The human mind is finite. We can only know and absorb so much before our brains short circuit and we shut down. A discussion this week with a friend about people with brilliant minds who burn out early made me think about this phenomenon. God knows what, how much and when I can handle deeper revelations about Him and the universe He created. God is huge. I always heard, “Don’t put God in a box.” I am now seeing I have lived as if I knew all I needed to know about God because I have studied the Bible. I delved into original languages; I even went to a Bible College so that I would know the truth and be set free. For a while my human arrogance, armed with this knowledge set about to show folks what I knew. It didn’t end well.

Now I take everything I learned and I sit with God and let Him teach me. I pray to Jesus, “teacher, teach me.” I am their sponge. Not amazingly, one by one tiny little scales are falling from my eyes and I am beginning to see things with a deeper field of vision. I am more sensitive to God’s movements in my life and am seeing my life in a brighter light.

Quantum Physics

I used to dismiss any idea of cosmic energy, energy from so called inanimate objects as new age hoo-haw, aka nonsense in my language. But, like so much in my universe lately, I am rethinking this concept particularly as it applies to the spiritual realm.

While worshipping crystals is clearly pagan idolatry, I look at who created crystals…rocks, stones, dirt, water, air….and think, God made those too. They are part of creation; could they bear some kind energy? Could they be more than the sum total of their molecules? I have no clue. But still, I wonder.

In another conversation with my same friend, he shared a concept from quantum physics that made my head spin. He explained in a way that my brain could grasp. The theory states that what we see doesn’t exist until we look at it. If I stooped to using emojis here I would definitely add both the mind blown and shocked face emojis to express how I felt when I heard this idea. Since I do not have a scientific mind, I found the following quote to be sure I could explain what he was talking about.

Let’s take a look at some interesting quantum experiments that point toward the mind-dependent character of reality… Fundamentally, we’ve got a situation in which reality at the quantum level does not exist until it is observed.

Bruce Gordon, Physicist, Mind Matters Podcast April 20, 2021.

The Energy Of Stuff

I wrote all that simply to say, I think there is energy that exists around objects. The things we cling to or are simply a part of the background noise of our lives – all things possess a certain energy. This is where I know I might loose some of you, but hang in with me.

Yesterday I told the story of the furniture that came to live with us last week. What I didn’t talk about was what I got rid of to make room for that furniture. This is an epic story of clinging to something far too long.

In 1984 (or thereabouts) I purchased a solid oak draw leaf dining room table, two Queen Anne style wing back chairs, and a vintage sewing table. All from approximately 1900-1940. I loved these pieces of furniture. I was married to my first husband who had bought the home we lived in without telling me he was doing it. I bought these pieces of furniture without asking him. Tit for tat. Almost. When I left him about a year and a half later I took these with me. I moved into my first apartment as a single person with just these items and my personal effects. Since that time I have moved them in and out of three different apartments before coming home to Stately Means Manor. Finally, I took them to use in my store before coming back home for good. I thought I loved them. I thought that they were important. Until I watched them loaded onto a truck and taken away to be donated.

I thought I would feel something. I felt nothing.

A few days later I realized that I am different. I am thinking about things in a new and different way. I feel lighter; more focused and free. Could it be that the negative energy from an unhappy marriage has been sitting in my home and my business all these years? I never thought about them in terms of the relationship. I saw them as tangible evidence of me taking a stand and doing something on my own. In truth, I outgrew them. I am finally allowing myself to be who I was created to be. I breaking free of being the person I think I should be and becoming just me. Letting go of the things and any energy connected with them has opened a new window into my soul and there is light shining both in and radiating out of me.

Moving Forward

I have way more stuff to let go of and now I feel equipped and emboldened to do it. Things, whose very presence in my life, weigh me down. Things that a few months ago I thought I couldn’t live without. I am ready for them to find new homes. As Marie Kondo espouses in her theories of organization and possession – I ask myself, “Does this spark joy?” I now have a true frame of reference to determine joy vs comfortable. Do I keep these things because they are familiar and comfortable or because they bring joy into my life? Do they represent the life I want to create or are they part of a past that should remain in the past?

All this is a process, a journey that each of us walks in a different way and for different reasons. Some of you will resonate with my experience and others of you will think I have lost my ever-loving mind. And that is fine. It could be a little of each, but this is my path and all I see ahead of me is the soft glow of God’s love and light drawing me forward.

Friends Giving

Before moving on to Christmas, I am not done with Thanksgiving. I would be remiss if I didn’t share a story of generosity, friendship and thankfulness for the people God gave us for neighbors over thirty years ago.

It is a rare thing, in my life anyway, to have friendships that span decades. As a child once we started moving for better opportunities, I never lived in the same place for more than five years. As an adult my friendships have been all work based; when the job changed those relationships slowly faded away. None of the usual ways people make lifelong friends seemed to apply to me. I didn’t have a mommy group or college friends, and I didn’t stay long enough anywhere to establish and maintain relationships.

I do accept responsibility in this matter. I am not a great friend. Well, let me clarify. I am delightful to be around and willing to help anyone with anything. But when it comes to initiating contact, following through and actually doing things to maintain a long term friendship…well, let’s just say I could do better.

Mr. Means has been a tremendous help in this department. He is a quintessential extrovert who pushes me out of my comfort zone and into social gatherings. Unlike me, he does have friendships that have stood the test of time primarily because he is the person who will call and stay in contact; every relationship group needs that person.

February 1989

In February 1989, I took up permanent residence in Stately Means Manor — living in a historic house with a name has been a running joke between us so we gave our house a pompous sounding name. We were engaged and I didn’t want to renew the lease on my apartment. I thought I had won the lottery living in a nearly new home in a lovely master planned community. Never in a million years did I envision this for myself. It was a magical time. Kids playing in the cul-de-sac, neighbors visiting while doing yard work, decorating and playing house. One day Mr. Means called for me to come outside and meet the neighbors; they had a new puppy.

Puppy was the magic word. Little did I know that meeting Buster and his mom Lisa and dad Tim would change and enrich our lives forever. A friendship was born that has spanned thirty two years, and experienced births, deaths, laughter, tears, and lots of Mexican food. These dear people were our first couple friendship and to this day the only couple friendship we have made together. We dearly love these friends – they are an extension of our family.

Loss – Closure – Generosity

When we first met there were eight parents between the four of us. Now we have three. A few months ago, after several years of battling an invisible illness, Lisa’s mom was tired; she went home.

When the time came for her to prepare her mother’s home for sale, Lisa made an incredibly generous offer. Knowing my affinity for mid-century modern decor she offered me a king size bedroom suite. I was elated. The day came to go see it in person to be sure it was a fit and I walked into a home full of furniture from that era. All of it was mine for the taking. I stood in disbelief in the middle of the living room and wept. I had to talk to Mr. Means and figure out what I could make room for in a home already stuffed with furniture.

This offer was so big that I initially turned it down. I felt a sense of responsibility for someone else’s family memories and wasn’t sure I was up for the task. But two days later I agreed to take a different bedroom suite as we will be needing guest bedroom furniture one day. It pained me to leave the rest behind but I just couldn’t accept so much. It was too generous.

There were two items I could not forget about. I could envision them in my home. I kept thinking, “surely someone else had snatched them up…but what if…” After sharing this story with family at Thanksgiving, I decided to ask if they had been given to anyone else. In hindsight it sounds kind of insensitive. “Happy Thanksgiving, and oh by the way can I have the coffee table and china cabinet?” Fortunately they have known me long enough to not think twice about my methods.

I am now the proud owner of these items.

All of the furniture came from the same collection manufactured by Drexel Heritage in the early 1960s. Lisa’s mom was a fastidious lady and she cared for her belongings so well that, despite a cross country move, her sixty year old furniture looks brand new. These amazing pieces are now living at SMM and will be cherished for as long as I live.

Tim and Lisa would not accept money for the furniture or even the rental truck required to move everything to our house. What was important was knowing that her mother’s furniture had a new home where it would be loved and cared for as her mother had lovingly done for so many years.

Humility & Gratitude

I am humbled to have been entrusted with these precious items. My heart skips a beat every time I walk in the living room and see my beautiful new treasures. I am grateful beyond measure for these friends. Not because they gave us stuff, but because they have been part of the fabric of our lives for so many years. It is easy to take people for granted. We go through our days preoccupied with the mundane and suddenly wake up and realize something has changed. I am getting too old to live like that. I know that in the blink of an eye life can change.

If we have learned nothing else from the Covid invasion it is the reminder that life is fragile and fleeting. We are mortal human beings with a finite number of resources at our disposal and the rest is left to God. How many times and in how many different circumstances does God have to tell me, “Trust Me. Lean not on your own understanding.” What I see with my eyes is only part of the story.

As we decorate and plan for Christmas, it is important to remember what we celebrate on December 25th. The real story is Jesus. Jesus came to earth as the embodiment of God and His love. To follow Jesus is to love others better than we love ourselves. To see the pain and need in the world then help as we are able; to love people not because of who they are but more importantly, despite who they are. Jesus turned the world inside out and left us to do the same. We are here to love because like the song says…love is all there is.

Looking Backwards, Moving Forward

I’m still thinking about my life’s purpose and the path I should be taking during this season of my life. Since history is the best predictor of the future, I decided to look back and see where my life has been and where I should be looking in the future. As I analyzed all the things I have done, both consciously and unconsciously, one thread has continuously run through all the fabric of my life. That thread is children.

All Paths Are Personal

I never bore children of my own. The only profound regret of my life is that I never experienced the growing, delivering and raising a child of my own flesh and blood. Once it became biologically impossible the pain of this diminished and I was able to look back at my life and really see how God had given me hundreds of children. Granted none of them bore any resemblance to me, nor was I responsible for their well-being and life; however, I was given a chance to make a difference. The ripple effects of these relationships will continue to grow and affect the next generations. That is a powerful path.

Working at a school was the highlight of my working life. Both as a nurse and an assistant teacher I had the privilege of nurturing and encouraging children for ten years. I had always wanted to be a teacher and no other job fulfilled me like this one.

I left the working world to come home and be present in when our daughter was going through a particularly difficult time in her life. I was needed here to make a difference in her life far more than the kids at school needed me. The purpose was the same, the intended beneficiary had changed.

Next came our first granddaughter. Born to a single mom, lost and struggling as her own mother had died when she was sixteen (I am her stepmom). I now had two girls who needed me. My purpose continues.

Two more granddaughters come along; a marriage doesn’t work out and suddenly our empty nest is full again. The joy of a full house is indescribable. I loved the activity and purpose it brought to my life. Cooking for and helping with the girls brought so much joy. And then it was time for them to move on.

So, that brings us to today. Just when we thought we were done. Ready to live the retired life and wondering what we would do with this time on our hands, our first granddaughter — the one who changed everything for us — was in a crisis. So many experiences in such a short life left her in a rough patch. Her mom and stepdad were at wits end and they have two other girls to care for. We opened our home and brought her back to the place that was her first home. The past few months have been difficult but the growth and change are remarkable and she is well on her way to being the adult we dreamed she would be. Again…I (we) continue on the path.

Little Picture Living

I don’t always see what I do everyday as part of the bigger picture of life. I never had the “I’m going to change the world” mentality; never been the activist, or the person who wanted to accomplish big things. My goals were always about creating a home and family. I have written before about my one passion and that is children. I set out to care for children in my working life and I spent the vast majority of my career doing just that. But even that didn’t trigger any “bigger picture” views of myself. I just got up everyday and did what I was trained to do.

I think God protects me from thinking of myself in a grand kind of way. I am just an ordinary person who tries to be kind and do what is right. If I saw myself as some kind of saint I know it would go right to my head and all the good I could do would be wasted. The irony of all this is I spend so much time wondering what I am “supposed” to be doing with my life, when in fact I was doing exactly what God designed me to do all along.

I think because so much of what I have done just falls under the banner of you do what you gotta do. In the midst of the fire you don’t stop to analyze the fire, you just put it out. I have been on my path for all forty years of my adult life. During that time I never gave myself credit for doing anything to make a difference because I just looked at the big stuff. I never did anything big. I just left a crumb trail of lots of little things. Because what I did wasn’t traditional or I wasn’t the “teacher” I wanted to be, I only saw what I wasn’t not who I was.

One Path, Small Detours

I don’t want to leave the path, I’m just ready for it to look a little different. I want to use my talents and skills to improve the lives of another generation of children. I have always dreamed of writing books. I could write a picture book for emerging readers. I would love to write the kind of story that encourages children to be the best they can be, or tell a fabulous tale that is remembered forever. Maybe it should be a book for the adults on blended families and lessons we have learned through the years. Maybe I will volunteer with disadvantaged kids and help them with school work. After all I did want to be a teacher. That urge is still inside of me. I don’t know where I am going next, but I do know that my path to the destination is sure and I have history on my side.

Wherever you are in life, do what you can. Don’t beat yourself up for what you can’t do, rather look at what you are doing and know you are doing your best. If, like me, you feel a nudge towards something, a tug at your heart, pay attention. God might be preparing you and showing you your path. If the time is right and you can do something about the nudge, then do it. If you aren’t able, just be aware and know that one day in some way, your path will become known and you can follow in confidence.

My Three Step Program

For the first time in my nearly sixty-four years I don’t have anything to worry about. I have a happy marriage, stable and thriving child and grandchildren, a roof over my head, enough money to meet and even exceed my needs, all extended family are healthy and happy, in short, I want for nothing. I am blessed beyond measure.

And yet I am constantly seeking that one thing to do that will give purpose and meaning to life. This usually takes the form of a maker type business. I am a talented human being and have everything it takes, including small business experience, to succeed in such an endeavor. So why do I struggle?

Living In Fear

I don’t know any other way to explain my feelings and inability to follow through. I get excited. I come up with a concept, product, logo, website, social media marketing, and then it comes time to put my work out into the world and I freeze. The feeling is very uncomfortable so I tell myself I am simply not cut out to do this. So I stop. And I feel like a failure. This cycle has repeated itself over and over again for many years leaving a trail of broken promises and an inflated sense of failure. I know this is not how God wants me, or you, to live. So, what is the answer? Here is my three step plan of attack.

Step 1: Trust God…Do Not Fear

I think I read somewhere that the admonition to “not fear” is the most used often used in the Bible. God knows us all too well. I am considering having the word trust literally tattooed on my body. God equipped me with skills and abilities to use in this lifetime. I have tried too hard to make things work on my own. I need to relax and just do what I am capable of doing then letting go. I believe I am finally coming full circle and can see fewer dead ends on my life’s road.

Step 2: Identification

Before something can be fixed it must be identified. I assumed I was on the wrong path because I felt anxious that my work would not be good enough or that no one would want to buy what I make. This was a signal to stop and look for a different path; but all paths ended the same and the desire to do this has never left me. Maybe I was changing the wrong thing?

I am notorious for trying to create a life that will fit nicely into pretty little boxes. Life is not to be viewed as a box to fill but a road to travel. Each experience leads to something new and everything builds on previous experience. Instead of a winding road with the usual twists and turns, hills and valleys, I have allowed my road to be a series of dead end detours. I see something interesting and I veer off only find a dead end. At each dead end (aka whatever craft I am passionate about at the moment or whatever product I think I could spend the rest of my life making) I tend to throw my hands in the air and give up. My instinct is to get rid of all the supplies and declare that endeavor as dead. This rarely ends well as I usually decide I still want to resume doing whatever it is I have abandoned. The internal message is that I am a failure incapable of following through and doing what I dreamed of doing.

In fact, what I did was give into that negative voice and stop before I gave myself a chance to get started. Self-sabotage happens every time I listen to the wrong voices in my head. I am currently in the beginning stages of starting yet again. This time I am not trying to fill a niche in the market I am simply going to make the things I love to make and would use in my home. I am also honoring the historic roll of textiles and fiber in women’s lives. I am fascinated by how women’s roles have changed and how modern women honor the contribution of our ancestors by keeping these skills alive. I am excited to make things, research, learn and write about what excites me. I know that no matter what else happens I will be making a contribution to something I care about.

Step 3: Be Authentic

I am a jack of all trades but can never be monogamous to just one pursuit. This is usually where I fail. I try to be known as…a hand spinner of unique yarn, a crochet artist, a crochet historian, a weaver, a stitch artist, and the list could go on but I won’t bore you.

My authentic self loves old tools, old ways, and doing lots of different things. Why I ever thought that sticking my very round peg into a square hole was a good idea is beyond understanding. I love history and knowing I am continuing doing things the way they have been done for hundreds of years. The methods are old, the end result is modern. Gotta love the dichotomy.

The other authentic part of me is my love for writing. I write here about life and as my new site gets going I will be writing about the historical and modern aspects of needle and hand work as it applies to the lives of women. That is a win-win in my book.

You’ve Got This

No matter what your heart is calling you to do, you can do it! Be careful who or what you listen to, pay attention to what tugs at your heart, and do not fear. You’ve got this!

November 1, 2021

Today is the first day of November; 2021 is drawing to a close and my favorite time of year is rushing by far too quickly.

The last three months of any year means different things to different people. It can be the season when summer is finally over; the financial fourth quarter and time to focus on ending the business year successfully; or in years like 2020, relief that the end is in sight.

I fall firmly in the first camp. Houston summers are legendary and true fall weather doesn’t usually arrive until the end of October and even then it is fleeting. But, I embrace whatever we receive and rejoice in the cool dry temperatures. I feel energized and optimistic.

This year I have stopped to ponder and analyze what these three months represent in relationship to the big picture of life. Each month is significant and represents some very powerful life lessons. For now we will look at October and November. December will come in due time.

October

The month known for brilliant colored leaves, pumpkins, and Halloween is my favorite month of the year. It is a month of anticipation…when will the weather change, the leaves turn, and how much longer before we can wear scarves, hats and sweaters without looking ridiculous? There is so much about October to love.

We have made four trips to New England in October. We are overdue; it is time to go leaf peeping again. The fall sky is a particular shade of blue. Brilliantly blue without the harsh glare of the summer sun. The gold, red, and orange leaves stand in stark contrast to this blue sky and the affect is almost three dimensional. It is beyond breathtaking and should be experienced at least once in your life. Vermont is the most gorgeous place for fall leaf peeping. It is an idyllic place that must be experienced in person.

Once the brilliance of the leaves burns out, they wither and fall to the ground. In the perfect cycle of life, they must die so that the tree can rest during the harsh winter months. Those leaves, in turn, decay and nourish the ground which feeds the tree. What a beautiful metaphor for so many areas of life.

I am in the October of my life. I hope this season lasts for a very long time. I have completed most of my early and mid life tasks. The final one is in the home stretch right now, so maybe I’m still in the last days of September…but either way the best is on the way.

November

And this brings us to November. In our house November ushers in hunting season. The preparation for this season actually begins in August. By November the rut is underway and the time comes to go sit in a stand for hours waiting on just the right buck to cross into the right-of-way. I am not a hunter. I am a deer hunting widow for the better part of November and December.

Early in our marriage I resented him getting to go out into the woods with his friends and have a grand time while I was ‘stuck’ at home. I’m over it. I now relish this time as I view it as the gift that it is. With age comes wisdom.

I used to book a weekend to myself for the first full weekend of November. Then we had a beach house for a while and I went there for opening weekend. For several years I have just stayed home enjoying the peace and quiet. But I am still home. There are still things to be done – or ignored only to have to face them later. This year I decided to do something for myself again. I am simultaneously excited and nervous.

Image from http://www.journal.getawayhouse.com

I have booked a tiny house in the woods for two nights. There is no WiFi, but all the other conveniences are available. I plan on reading, writing, knitting on my sock project, walking in the woods and taking a few pictures. Mostly I want to spend time in nature. I feel the presence of God most deeply when I am surrounded by trees and the expanse of His creation. I find myself in awe and so very grateful to Him for the beauty and serenity.

And that brings me to the significance of November. Yes, we in the United States celebrate Thanksgiving, but I think the entirety of November is a time for thankfulness.

Thankful for time to prepare for winter’s rest.

Thankful for life, breath, and each new day.

Thankful for pain because it is a necessary part of life.

Thankful for the people in our lives.

Thankful for….

The list could and should go on and on. In the world of mindfulness we are instructed to write down the things we are grateful for so that we take nothing for granted. I have never subscribed to this practice as I would likely only express gratitude for the good stuff, get frustrated because I couldn’t think of something new every day and ultimately feel like a failure and give up. Instead, I thank God each morning for a new day and all that it brings. I am constantly thankful to Him for every aspect of life, the good and the not so good as it all serves a purpose.

Just like the leaves letting go of their hold on the tree and falling to death below, the heart breaks and disappointments in life serve as a foundation for new growth. I embrace them and know that only good will come from the experience as long as I am connected to the One who makes all things right.

May your November be filled with thanksgiving.

Morning Rituals

I see people on social media going through their morning rituals and wonder…why can’t I get it together? My mornings are never as thoughtful and beautiful as theirs seem to be. But then again I am not staging my morning ritual for the sake of the camera. This photo is authentic. I didn’t arrange things for you. This is how that corner of my desk looks all day every day.

Mornings At 2434

I stagger out of bed, feed the dogs, let them outside, make coffee and sit back down. Sometimes I wonder why I am sitting when I just got up from eight to nine hours of sleep. Why aren’t I ready for a jog, or even a leisurely stroll? Nope. I want to sit, sip my coffee and contemplate the day ahead.

I always spend some of this time talking to God and then being quiet to see if He has anything to say back. Sometimes I get an idea, or resolution to something that has been on my mind. Other times I just feel peacefully quiet. I used to write in my journal every morning. I have replaced that with my morning pages. I get to brain dump knowing I will discard the pages so no one will ever read all the garbage that can occupy the gray matter that is my brain.

We all have those thoughts, worries, anxieties, angry voices, destructive words. I know I am not alone. So now, thanks to Julia Cameron and The Artist’s Way I am learning to release them by writing in a throw away notebook. It is the equivalent of taking all the junk out of one’s home, putting it in a storage unit then throwing away the key. Except the storage unit owner might sell the contents of that unit sight unseen and then someone else has to deal with all that stuff. I think I will do a ceremonial burning as I finish each notebook. I like the idea of turning all those thoughts and worries into ashes. After all, God creates beauty from ashes, therefore so should I.

Lessons Learned

Let God in first thing in the morning. Just invite Him and be still. It sets the tone for everything that is to come.

Do what prepares you for what comes next. Some days I have things to do and places to go so I drink my coffee while I am getting dressed. The talking to God happens in the shower – also one of the best places to really listen. But all of this comes after I have met my dogs’ needs. Children first.

Do you. Social media, for the most part, is staged and therefore not real. I do believe most of these people do what they show but it isn’t always so pretty and perfect. Don’t self flagellate for having an ordinary life. We are all ordinary.

Spend time alone. There is nothing more important than really knowing and loving yourself to prepare for the slings and arrows of the outside world. Get grounded, put on the armor then go into battle. The world outside your door is a war zone. Stand firm in the knowledge that God created you and is with you. Jesus has won the war and walks with you each step of the way.

Have a blessed day. You are not alone.

~Sheryl

Inspired By Dandelions

Life is an ever evolving cycle of change. Nothing stays the same no matter how hard we try or how desperately we wish to freeze frame a moment in time. To fight against change is to miss the beauty of this naturally cyclical thing we call life.

A dandelion’s life purpose is to sow seeds to the wind so that new little seedlings can be brought to life. This is how I see myself. Like a dandelion with a head full of little seeds ready to be set free.

Seasons of Life

Each season of life has its own purpose, tasks to accomplish before moving forward. It is a rich and complex subject that deserves time to properly digest and dissect. I am finally coming to grips with the fact that I am entering a new season of my life. I have actually been traveling this road for the past four years; now at the door I have the choice to stand and knock or open it and walk through to what waits for me on the other side. Standing motionless is safe but does nothing to help me or anyone else. So, I really have only one option – open the door and boldly walk into whatever it is God has for me on the other side.

Gathering and Dispersing

In the past few months something has been happening in my heart and mind. I am suddenly seeing things in the world through a new lens; a softer and gentler lens. I won’t delve too deeply into this today but I will say that it has taken me by surprise. As I have been open to these thoughts and allowed them to penetrate any barriers that rise due to the discomfort of new things, I am feeling my way along a new path. A path I believe God is leading me one step at a time.

This morning I read an excerpt from a book called “Falling Upward” by Fr Richard Rohr. In this book, Fr Rohr discusses the spiritual and life purposes in the two halves of life. I believe that I am in preparation for my second phase of life: the giving away or dispersing of what I have learned in the first phase. This book will arrive at my door tomorrow. Just when I swear off the immediate gratification of Amazon, something like this crosses my path.

Seedlings

Whatever it is I am to do with the wisdom I have gained is unknown. I am less worried about the what than the preparation. My heart is softening. I am reading and growing in knowledge. I will be (at age 63) attending college beginning in January. I am practicing spiritual disciplines to connect more deeply with God to be sure I am traveling on the best path for his purpose in my life.

I choose to think of my writings here as seedlings. Little bits of information that I send out into the world to take hold if and when they are needed. That is my hope and prayer for every post. Since seedlings represent growth and new life what you will find here are just little nuggets of wisdom and goodness designed to lift up and never tear down. There is enough pain and suffering in the world. My passion is to apply a soothing balm on a hurting humanity. I trust God to guide and direct the writing and the reading of everything on this little blog.

There will be talk of books, dogs, family and all the normal stuff of life. I love to crochet and make art with my yarn and hooks; it is another way for me to express beauty of the world around me. My husband and I will be traveling more so I will take many photos and will share those as well. Whatever is good, and right, kind and beautiful will all find its way here. There is also pain in life…I won’t shy away from that either. It is only in the journey through the pain that we find light once again.

If you have made it this far, thank you. If what I have said has spoken to you, then I hope you will follow along. Either way, thank you for reading.

~Sheryl

Who’s In Control?

Wowza! Last week was certainly a doozy. I feel as though I lived several lifetimes in the course of the past seven days. I don’t recognize much of anything in the world these days and that may not be a bad thing.

Real Old Testament Stuff

Movie buffs will remember those words as part of a famous scene from the original movie Ghostbusters. Follow the link to watch the scene, it is worth it. But the truth is, we are living in an Old Testament type state of mass hysteria and there is only one answer. It is the same answer that existed for the Israelites of the Old Testament and the only one that would really solve the problems that exist today.


His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who call us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.

2 Peter 1:3-4

Powerless Without Humility

Humanity relying on its own knowledge and wisdom, trying to solve the problems created by that knowledge and wisdom is doomed to make matters worse. Without God, we, by nature, do all that we do with a personal bias and self interest. It is only with God that we are able to step outside of ourselves and do that which is righteous.

The United States has moved further and further away from the principles on which it was founded. This is not a right vs left, Republican vs Democrat issue. This is a wide spread humanity issue. We are all guilty and fall short of God’s perfect plan. We are all sinners and must humble ourselves before God and pray. I am regularly wakened in the middle of the night with a thought in my mind that I know has been placed there by God. I lay still and pray until I fall back asleep. Once my job is done, sleep returns. It is a beautiful symbiotic relationship that I cherish more than life itself. The giver of life is calling on me to assist in his precious work.

Humility

I recognize my weakness and my flaws (well, most of them). I understand that if I believe that power resides within me to change the world then I am a fool. However, if I live in humility and supplication to God, the creator of the universe, then his power works through me to accomplish more than I could ever dream possible. He is at work in advance of everything I am to do; he is paving the way, softening minds and hearts and will bring to me the people and circumstances that are intended for me. The result will be his glory shining in the world through me. I am made less, that he is made greater.

There is not been, in my lifetime, a greater example of humanity grasping for power and control than we have right now. Some would say it is President Trump who is trying to overthrow our democracy. I say it is the ones that are trying to destroy him. It is not enough that he will no longer be the President; no they are attempting to destroy him as a human being. He has less than two weeks before leaving the White House. Let him walk out and back into private life then move on. But that is not good enough for the people who are anxious for power and control.

As followers of Jesus Christ we are promised not an easy life, but a life that looks much like what Donald Trump has experienced during the past five years. We are targets of those who do not believe. We are targets of other ‘religions’ and their followers. We are targets of those within our own denominations and between denominations. Standing firm in one’s faith in Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone is guaranteed to bring earthly isolation and pain.

But take heart as we are not alone. Remember I said God goes before us? If everything we do in life is preceded with prayer and thankfulness to God through faith in Jesus Christ, We will be able to endure the arrows and stones sent our way. How does President Trump keep going day in and day out? It isn’t under his own power. There is only one way to survive what he has survived and that is the knowledge that his path was set before him by God.

Spend time with God every morning. Come to him with an open and thankful heart then wait for him to show you your way through this season of mass hysteria. We all have a job to do and no two paths are exactly the same. But if we each just do what we are given to do, change will happen. Nothing is impossible with God.

~Sheryl

A Very Good Week

I came outside later than usual today. It seems that every day of the week, or at least Monday through Friday, a different neighbor is having their yard mowed first thing in the morning. I am sure it has always been this way, but now that it is disturbing my peaceful backyard time. I am annoyed. We are coming to the end of the growing season, so maybe this will change. One can only hope.

Friday Reflections

Each Friday I am going to examine my week and see how I did in my effort to build the life I want rather than just living in reaction to what comes to me. On the whole, I think I did well. I took more steps forward and can call this one a win.

There were frightening events that happened to people I care about as well as family members. In my fear and dread I turned to God and allowed Him to do His work. I was available but knew this was not my battle to fight. It is a helpless feeling to know a grandchild is suffering and in danger. It is not my job to rescue, though that is my initial impulse. It is my job to cover her in prayer and let God and her parents do the work.

I took proactive steps in the planning of my kitchen remodel as well as purchasing a few plants that will, if I keep them alive, end up in one corner of my garden or in pots on my patio.

I Knit

I took time to knit.

Katie’s Kep – A Fair Isle style hat.

I’ve always been fascinated with stranded color knitting. Living where I do there are few times when such a garment is wearable. I decided that the experience is worth it even if it only gets worn once a year. This is the annual hat design for Shetland Wool Week, a celebration of all things wool in the Shetland Islands. My Scottish heritage and my love for the television show Shetland, determined that I give it a go. This is the perfect knit for my ADD type personality. Every row is different and the color changes are charted. Slowly, row by row the design emerges. I lost the blue ball of yarn I intended for one of the patterns. After days of looking for it I decided to just use what I had on hand and make the best of it. This green, brown, white and gold hat will be my ‘sunshine through the trees’ hat.

I Stitched

Mindful stitching with coffee.

I worked a little everyday on my mindful stitching. Repetition yields peaceful consistency. I am not enjoying working on this muslin. My next piece will be linen…preferably hand dyed.

Hand dyed thread.

I received three spools of hand dyed thread for embroidery. They came from a lovely young woman (@gatherwhatspills) I follow on Instagram. She also has an Etsy shop and I couldn’t resist these beautiful little spools of thread. I am saving scraps, and hunting for just the right inspiration to use them. It will be special no matter what the project.

That was my week. There was more, I cooked some delicious meals, I planned for my kitchen remodel, and I slept…really, really slept. My body and spirit were exhausted. All in all, it was a very good week.

I pray that each of your days moves you just a little closer to living the life of your dreams. Until Monday…

~Sheryl