Seasons…

I think one of the statements I hear myself saying more and more as time goes by is, “I can’t believe it’s already _________ (the current date).” My parents and teachers were so right all the years ago: time flies, and the older you get, the faster it goes. I needed to pick up a few items for a “Lips and Sips” party last week, so my son and I ran into Hobby Lobby to get what we needed. In mid-August all the fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving AND Christmas and New Year’s decorations and party supplies are already fully stocked. In August, y’all!

Pumpkin SpiceAs much as I love a good Pumpkin Spice Latte, I’m not quite sure I want summer to come to a close just yet. (Good thing I live in Coastal Georgia where we can play summer for quite a while longer!)

I woke up with a Christmas song in my head this morning. I LOVE Christmas, but I’m not ready for it yet!

I heard someone say recently that our generation is more able than any previous generation to fight the power of the changing seasons through inventions like central heating and a/c and with lighting that allows our “days” to remain long even when the sun begins setting earlier; but that even with these modern-day conveniences, we’re designed to live through changing seasons. Fighting them too much can cause problems for us in the long-run. (But, even with that, I don’t plan to give up central heat or air!) Some of the problems that come, for example, because of electricity is not getting enough sleep because we can trick our brains by using light and the technology of computers, smart phones, TV’s, tablets, etc that keep our brains active long after the sun has set on the day.

Years ago, when Church 4 Chicks was still meeting in Atlanta, I loved inviting other speakers to come share from their wisdom to the ladies attending. One of my favorites was a friend who is also a clinical psychologist. I’ll never forget the power of her statement that we are designed to be “present” — we have one body that only can be in one place at any given time. We have the boundary of time as well. There is only so much time in which to live out our days and our lives. It’s so easy to get caught by the drifting tide of life that takes us to places we never set out to go: overly busy, overly scheduled, or the other extreme of boredom and laziness.

On a mission trip in 2000, I found myself in Buenos Aires, Argentina with a whole bunch of teenagers. I was about to turn 26 and had just started getting serious about a guy named Stephen Hendrix. I also had two little girls at home that I was missing terribly. Being in another continent was freaking my mama heart out! Throughout the trip to the Atlanta Airport, then catching a connecting flight in Miami, and all throughout the plane ride and commute to the school where we’d be staying for the week, I had a MAJOR battle going on inside of me. I just wanted to go HOME. The first full day we were there, a man from another group got up to speak and I don’t remember much about him or all of what he said, but ONE thing he said really got my attention. He told us that because we only have the ability to be in one place at a time, and because this is where we were, it was now our choice whether or not to fully engage right where we were. He invited us to trust God with our loved ones at home and to be present right where we were or we’d miss out on something really special.

This is a life lesson that has never left me. I am grateful for a trip that took me to another hemisphere if for no other reason than that I learned the power of practicing being PRESENT.

In learning to live a more beautiful life, I’m practicing the power of being present even now as I’ve entered the second half of my life. With so many changes through our move to the coast, starting a counseling, coaching and consulting practice with Stephen, and even starting this new life theme that I’m now sharing with whoever decides to join me on the journey, I’m enjoying a more beautiful life by choosing to find the beauty in where I am on the way to wherever it is I’m going. If I’m not intentional with this practice, I can easily fall prey to living in the past with regret or longing for what youth I no longer have. If I’m not careful, I can easily get so caught up in the hopes for tomorrow while missing out on what the joys of today bring. And, in all honesty, if I’m not careful, I can also miss out on being present through the sorrows and hurts of life by numbing myself to them and missing out on the healing God offers through authenticity in my own soul and in my relationships.

We had a nearly total solar eclipse just yesterday. Everyone chose how they wanted to make the most of that unusual event. I decided to treat the day like a holiday, to meet with friends, to be present with people I love and to celebrate each little sighting we got to enjoy through the cloud cover. Even with the rain, it was a beautiful day. Moments enjoyed became memories to treasure.

I’m curious about how you’re learning to live a more beautiful life. What practice have you cultivated that you find is making your life a more beautiful one?

 

3 Questions That Can Help You Live a More Beautiful Life

Thanks for popping in for this post! I appreciate your choosing to visit!

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As I go through the real, everyday struggles and joys of life – the highest highs and lowest lows – I’ve been learning to ask myself these questions listed here. Sometimes, when life is completely overwhelming, I just can’t do it; so I am not suggesting you answer these when you’re in the depths of heartache and heartbreak. In those times, listening to what my soul needs is a worthwhile investment of my time. Do I need some solitude? Do I need to process verbally with a friend over coffee? Do I need to schedule an appointment with a professional?

When I am in the less severe struggles or even the hum-drum of seasonal transitions in life OR when coming out of a foggy time of grief or loss or whatever the struggle may be, I’ve learned to ask myself these questions:

3 Qs - Learning to Live a More Beautiful Life

In asking and answering these questions, and practicing #3 in particular, I’ve begun to see what is referred to as “peace that passes understanding*” and “treasures in the dark places**” of life. For example, when I ask myself, “When did I last feel joy?” it may be that I can repeat that activity or experience. When I ask myself, “When did I last feel childlike?” – in other words, carefree, lighthearted, trusting, etc? – it may be something to pay attention to because it might be that I was wired for this kind of thing. One of the things that allows me to feel childlike is painting on a canvas or clay item. I’m so not good at it, but that’s okay. I am not doing it to be perfect or professional; I’m doing this to experience the sweet parts of the only life I get to live on Planet Earth! A more joyful Shelley is a far more pleasant Shelley which means that those who experience me in relationship get a better experience!

I live in a beautiful place surrounded by natural beauty. There’s no where else I’d rather set up camp and build a life. But even still, if I am hurting and closed off and if I don’t allow myself to enjoy the beauty around me, I’ll miss it every time. Or, worse yet, I’ll allow those wonderful gifts around me to become ugly by my isolation from them or my ignoring them altogether in my pain, my disillusionment, or flat out disappointment.

Learning to live a more beautiful life begins on the inside. It’s a job involving my mind, my will and my emotions.

What about you? What practices are helping you learn to cultivate a more beautiful life?

 

 

*Ephesians 4:7   **Isaiah 45:3

 

 

 

Learning to Live a More Beautiful Life

443Step by step and day by day, we are learning what it means to intentionally protect the margin in our lives, around our hearts and our most important relationships.

As we do this, we are walking along side of others – individuals, couples and families – learning to do the same. It was only a matter of time before a website like this was launched. I needed the space and the freedom to step away from how I’ve always done things so that I could embrace something different.

I am excited – and a little nervous, honestly – to do this. But, I believe we could all use a little kindness, a little encouragement, and a whole lotta’ grace to begin living more beautiful lives!