Me in the Middle of Thinking SPRING!

Spring at MonticelloWatercolor and Ink pen sketch of a view at Monticello ~ Home of Thomas Jefferson

(c)  Mary Lou Q

I have been in the enjoiment of our delicious spring. the soft genial temperature of the season, just above the want of fire, enlivened by the reanimation of birds, flowers, the fields, forests & gardens, has been truly delightful & continues to be so … indeed my experience of the different parts of America convinces me that these mountains are the Eden of the US. for soil, climate, navigation & health.”  (Extract from Thomas Jefferson to Volney)

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Thinking about Spring starts me planning my next visit to Monticello, the Home of Thomas Jefferson.  Everything comes alive on the Mountaintop and seems to say that , just like Spring is a sign of Hope and New Life, so is Monticello a sign of Hope and New Life for our country.  Thomas Jefferson was a complex man and my favorite president.  Everyone seems to claim him for their political agenda yet he doesn’t quite fit the mold of labels.  He thought freely and with vision, and because of him and those who set our country on this great adventure we’ve continued to endure.  Monticello is a reminder of this for me. Continue reading

A to Z Challenge 2019 ~ Theme Reveal

 

atoz2019theme

This past November 2018 I took part in the Nibvember 2018 Challenge.  Day 27 prompt was Lettering and I came up with the design below.  It’s easy to see where my inspiration came from as I’d participated in the A to Z Challenge in 2016. So, feeling the call to try once again for A To Z Challenge 2019, I decided to sign up for this years using this design as my inspiration.

day 27 lettering

(c) Image by Mary Lou

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My theme for 2019 A to Z Challenge is:

  April World Holidays from A to Z

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AtoZ2019tenthAnn

There still time to sign up!  Here’s what it’s all about:

A to Z Challenge 2019

 

Me in the Middle ~ Self-Acceptance

 Kind Balance

 Self-Acceptance

 I’ve accepted the fact that, at times in my life, I’ve loved too much.  While attempting to be the ‘perfect’ daughter’, the ‘perfect’ wife, the ‘perfect’ mother, etc., I’ve given over my power to others who might not deserve that trust.  In accepting this about myself, I’ve made a commitment to trust my intuition and my need to set healthy boundaries and take a stand for myself.

How many times do I second-guess myself?  Let me count the ways!  At those time when I haven’t had confidence in myself and haven’t trusted my own decisions, I’ve contributed to co-dependent relationships by looking to others for affirmation.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”  

~ Anne Lamott ~

Trying to be perfect keeps us from really finding joy in our lives.  Whether it comes from the way we’ve been raised as a child or from our expectations of ourselves now as adults, perfectionism holds us back from spontaneity and being more emotionally responsive to others.  

“Have no fear of perfection, you’ll never achieve it.”  Salvador Dali

********************Kindness owards ourselves

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I get the ‘do unto others’ part and realize I need to put a little more into the ‘as you would do unto yourself’ part.  Self-Love helps me to realize that I struggle with the awareness that some have too little self worth and are too selfless, while others have too much narcissism and take advantage of the kindness of those who are too nice.  Sometimes you can leave yourself behind when loving others.  It’s about balance.  I’m learning to set healthier boundaries and not give too much power to those who might not deserve it.  Nice place to be!  🙂

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“Want to be happy? Stop trying to be perfect.”

~ Brene Brown ~

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I never thought of Self-Compassion as a letting go of perfectionism.  And yet there it was in my own words ……………..“I was just thinking that when I internally feel self-compassion I’m comforted by those thoughts. It’s when I verbalize them to others that I sometimes feel the person hearing me is thinking I’m making excuses for myself.” ………………It made me realize that part of Self-Compassion is believing you’re worthy of that compassion and it’s not a weakness when you are being kind and gentle with yourself.   It really doesn’t matter what others are thinking or saying.  We’re never going to be ‘perfect’ and we’re never going to be able to avoid the possibility of criticism and judgment from others.

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~ You’re allowed to be both a Masterpiece and a Work in Progress simultaneously ~

Joanne Sharpe's Class 1

© Sketch by Mary Lou

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 ❤

Me in the Middle ~ Self-Compassion

 

Self-Compassion

Compassion ~ Brene Brown

One Mother’s Day I went to the church service at my son and daughter-in-law’s place of worship.  We were a group of eight so getting ready in the morning and getting out the door was a bit of a challenge.  My son was ready before all of us and just smiled and said “It’s an exercise in patience.”  When we arrived for the service, we were late and had to tip-toe in during the Mother’s Day sermon.  It was a sermon on ‘Patience’.  😀  As we made our way to our seats, the pastor was saying “And if we find ourselves always arriving late, we need to have patience with ourselves.”  It really gave us all a laugh!  😀  It helped to give us ‘self-compassion’ and lightened up the moment.

What I took away from that sermon was the message on a photo on the huge overhead screen.  The pastor was sharing the story of what was written on Ruth Bell Graham’s tombstone.  It was a message of Self-Compassion and Humility.  It was a reminder that we’re all ‘under construction’ in this life.

“End of Construction – Thank you for your patience.”

Ruth Bell Graham

 

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I remember those times when things were particularly stressful in my life and I felt I wasn’t measuring up to my expectations for myself.  I was being my own worst critic and definitely much too hard on myself.  Then I read the quote below in a book I was reading for inspiration.  It was such a kind and compassionate image of God being there with us through it all.

“Please be patient. God isn’t finished with me yet….”

Self-Compassion Meditation

~ Chinese Symbol sketch by Mary Lou ~

Me In The Middle Of Feeling Christmas Spirit

Christmas Roses #2 (2)

(c) mlq

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~ The Christmas Rose ~

She stood beside the doorway softly weeping,
without the slightest gift for the newly born
who lay within a manger, peaceful, sleeping.

Three travelers, all richly dressed, but worn,
brought royal treasures for him in their keeping ~

the shepherd maiden wept unseen, forlorn.
In the chill of winter, she had found no rose
nor blossom; ‘midst the rocky hills none grows.

An angel saw her sorrow; understanding
at once the reason, swept away the snow,
revealing there some Christmas Roses. Handing
these white and waxen flowers to her, “Go –
an offering so pure is right,” commanding
with gentleness that only angels know.
The gift was made – beneath the angel’s wink,
the petals blushed from white to palest pink.

© Margaret I. Gibson

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Some of the best memories I have of past Christmas holidays were when I let go of expectations and just let it happen.

 Ever since I was a little girl I’ve felt that Christmas was meant for all people of good will.  It never dawned on me that Christmas would belong to just one religion.  I knew it was the birth of Jesus ~ the tiny infant who was born in a humble stable ~ who came to love the world and the message he brought to us was to love one another.

My early memories of Christmas were more of the feeling of togetherness, belonging and acceptance.  There was a feeling of magic in the air.  There weren’t many gifts under the tree ~ yet it was my favorite time of the year.  There was something infectious about the outpouring of Good Will as you went about the day meeting people along the way.

When my children were growing up it was fun taking on the passing along of this tradition.  Seeing their eyes brighten with anticipation as the day grew nearer, and gathering them around the Nativity Scene to impress upon them that it was this humble birth we were celebrating.

Then there were the times when I was weary and burdened with worries and stresses.  When I didn’t have enough money to get them gifts or a tree.  When I watched the hustle and bustle of every one caught up in the season and felt isolated from it.  I thought it was all going to pass us by.  Surprisingly, these were the times I remember the most because it’s at times like these that even the smallest gift and the smallest gestures of kindness and love mean the most.  It was at times like these that I experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It was at times like these that I learned that Christmas happens every day when we’re open to it.  

That humble birth of that one small child speaks to all of us about the simplicity of Love ~ A Gift that shouts out at a World that desperately needs it.  It’s not a gift that belongs to any specific religion.  It’s a gift that belongs to all of us!  

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“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10).