Tag Archives: faith

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The Religion Of Your Soul ~ Michelle Church

Each year, for more than twenty years, on Christmas day we pack our family into the car and head to the Oregon coast. It is because of this tradition that we ultimately built our home here Lincoln City. Even as I write this I am sitting on the bed next to my Mr Dreamboat and though the doors and windows are closed I can still hear the crashing waves charging the beach just steps away from where we lay. Sometimes our Christmas vacation lingers into the New Year.

The tradition of leaving our home on the homiest holiday of the year might seem strange to you as it seems peculiar even to me, and I am the author of this particular tradition.

The ocean is lovely, dark and deep...
The ocean is lovely, dark and deep…

So many years ago when our children were young, with all my soul I wanted to begin our own family traditions, away from those from our histories. There seemed no chance of doing so when we had so much family around, and so we devised a plan to pack up our little family and go away from all the things our lives were normally comprised of.

And 21 years later I am quite literally sitting on the bed of our convention. And strange as it is, I love it.

There is no doubt your traditions are lovely and comforting. I’m certain your elf on the shelf is pleasing, your Yule Log burns bright each year and figgy pudding is the great, undiscovered, practice your family holds dear.

What is wonderful to me in all likelihood feels foreign to you and vice versa. Though the religion of our fathers may be the same, the way we each honor them and live them out in our own lives has as many variations as there are people. There are as many religions as there are souls.

As we each step into the baby days of the beginning New Year, let’s celebrate our differences, find our common grounds and bring with us upon every doorstep we visit, tidings of comfort and joy, comfort and joy, oh, tidings of comfort and joy.

best life

Your Best Life Ever

A month ago today I drove the five hours necessary to pick up my new best friend. Mr Dreamboat had done more than his due diligence and hand picked my tiny, puppy companion and the day and hour had arrived for me to take on my new responsibility.

Preacher and I met and instantly fell in love. I with him, because he is cute and he is fluffy. He with me, likely because I give him snacks. Whatever it takes, I’m not proud.

michelleatplaycapedAs the weeks passed I’ve become confident the “Honeymoon Phase” is past and we are in the day to day routine of figuring out how to live together. He has convinced not only me (the easy sell) but Mr Dreamboat (the cynical one) that his rightful place to sleep is in our room. I have persuaded him that… well, he’s a puppy. He does the majority of the convincing in our relationship.

That said, it occurred to me just a few days ago I should be doing some sort of official training with this guy lest he become obnoxious and I rue the day we met.

Turning to the Oracle Of Truth & Enlightenment (The Interwebs), I opted for advice from Cesar, The Dog Whisperer, or whatever his name is. Cesar informs me that my puppy is a pack animal and I should always maintain my position of Alpha. Check.

I’m supposed to go through doors before the little devil does and he should walk beside me or behind me when we’re on a leash about town. Okay. I think we’ve been doing this already. What else ya got, Cesar?

It turns out this puppy thing isn’t as difficult as I thought it might be. Thus far no major mistakes have been made on my part and all the basics were already being covered, apparently on an unconscious level.

Cesar assures me consistency, kindness and gentle praise are the key factors in raising a puppy you won’t regret as an adult. In his words:

“A pack leader is, by definition, strong, stable, and consistent.”

Yes! Yesyesyes!

The rules of dog training, it turns out are no different than the rules of life. If we’re interested in leading the pack, we have to be willing to step out in front of the crowd. Consistency is key and gentle praise an important part of every day communication.

I’m convinced I am raising one of the best dogs of my life. He is smart, sweet and small enough to sit on my lap on a cold winter evening and keep me warm.

Likewise, I am also delighted to be creating a life I love. I do it on a consistent basis. I try to use gentle praise as a key part of my communication, and I try to keep good snacks on hand. Never underestimate the importance of good snacks .

In the end, whether your life is a dog or not, there’s no reason not to make it your bitch;)

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The Winter That Would Not End ~ Michelle Church

The weather here in North America has been nothing short of surprising this past winter. Maybe if I’d checked the Farmer’s Almanac I totally would have seen it coming.

My friends in the Northeast were pummeled, humbled and frozen by the wrath of the angriest weather gods, while those of us on the west coast enjoyed what was the mildest winter in years. There were days so blissfully temperate I thought I’d gone to heaven.

Just yesterday I saw a picture of one of my friends celebrating the opening of the lovely gardens near her home. She did so in the snow. Spring has sprung, but perhaps only technically, depending on where you live.

And so it goes most years. We are at the mercy of the weather, we are caught by surprise, by the fickle nature of existance.

One of the benefits of getting older is that regardless of the weather we may be experiencing in the moment, we’ve come to recognize patterns. We might be freezing our toes off and barely able to remember what the sun looks like, but we remember it. We recall it fondly and we know from experience it will come again.

The last few months before Mr Dreamboat returned from Rock & Roll Camp were simply grueling. If my life had been expressed in the form of weather, it was the coldest and longest winter on record. Apocalyptic even.

As the days until his return shortened and we were advised of his release date, there came a time when it was almost impossible to believe that he would ever return to me. Winter, it seemed, might never, ever end.

Once I realized I had these feelings I simply took myself through the logical process of it all. As crazy as it sounds, I sat myself down, not just once, but every time my faith began to fail, and remembered that every single year of my life there has been a July 23rd. Not once have we skipped that date in all the years I’ve been alive.

This year would be no different.

As sure as the sun is to rise, as sure as spring follows winter and July 23rd rolls around every single year, the things with which we struggle, they too will wane. It is a gift that is sometimes hard to remember, but is ever so.

Spring has sprung quite a lot early here on the Young Family Ranch. Every day when the sun shines and the trees blossom, I am caught up in the delight. And as sure as it has come to my house, no matter what you might be feeling in this moment, it will come to yours too.

Like, share, comment, tweet and “Be still and know…”

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Global Warming & Other Reasons To Smile

Global warming is disturbing, there’s just no getting around it. It is for this reason that I find the suspiciously spring-like weather we are having in the Northwest unsettling.

As I write this, the sun pours in through my studio window warming my face and freaking me out. Yesterday I spent more than an hour out on the Young Family Ranch & Zombie Apocalypse Sanctuary playing with the baby goats and meditating under the gi-normous, 150 year old maple tree. It was a nice contrast, tiny animals and enormous plants.

There’s no getting around the fact that mid-sixties weather is weird and global warming is a real issue, especially if you believe in reincarnation. The weather is what it is, and I take my blessings where I can get them.

My initial response is to worry. I worry about the green landscape I so love, I worry about crops and bees and the circle of life.

Even so, in my opinion we have but a few choices over the circumstances. We can be freaked out, or we can do something about it. We can rail at the precarious circumstances our species has created, or we can marvel at the brilliance of the human mind and believe we can and will find solutions to our very real problems.

I choose option two. Obviously.

This is why I recycle. It’s why I buy local when I can. It’s why I don’t pontificate that we’re not doing enough and I look for ways to do more. And I have faith that the generations that are coming up to take on the problems they have inherited are not only capable, but they are brilliant. It is humbling to raise them.

And then I go outside and I feel the fresh air on my face and I watch the baby goats frolic. I sit under a tree that was hanging out when Lincoln was President and very well may be bummin’ around after I am gone. And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.

Like, share, comment, tweet and every time the sun shines, know it shines just for you. And recycle. Always recycle.

Choose Your Face, Choose Your Fate

We humans are peculiar beings. Each so unique, all so flawed and with tendencies toward narcissism and laziness. Please don’t think I’m not a fan of the human animal. I really am. I really like people a lot. We’re just weird as hell. That’s all.

Do not google "weird people". Totally freaked me out.
Do not google “weird people”. Totally freaked me out.

One tendency that truly baffles me is the tendency to fill in the blanks of unknown information, like, “I wonder why she didn’t call me back,” with things like, “I thought we were friends. I guess not. I bet she never really liked me. Screw her! This is crap!”

While every fill in might not look exactly like that, you know it’s true. Nature and human beings don’t like a vacuum and we tend to fill in the blanks with the worst possible answer to the question.

We don’t hear back from the company where we interviewed, they must have hated us. We lay in bed at night, waiting for our teen to come home and we believe the worst. We never take the opportunity on a sleepless night to conjure up the the best-case scenarios of what could happen.

But what if…

happy thoughtsWhat if we laid in bed at night thinking about all the good things that might just be coming our way? What if we started walking through our days thinking about the good things that could happen? Imagine how different people’s faces would look. Everyone would have that enigmatic Mona Lisa smile all the time. We’d be so much more attractive this way.

I know it’s not a flawless plan. We have life to deal with and life can be seriously distracting. But think about it. Good things are just as likely, if not more likely, to happen to us than bad things. Why do we punish ourselves with things that may never come to pass? Why not reward ourselves on a daily basis and clean up the crap when it hits the fan and not stew about it when it may never happen?

Like I said, easier said than done. But I have this theory, that what we think about, manifests subconsciously on our faces. It permeates our voices and it compels us to act differently and it elicits different and better responses from those with whom we come into contact, and most importantly from ourselves.

Sure, we’re going to fill int he blanks. It’s what we do. We’re human. But let’s start living a little more creatively and fill them in with what we want rather than what we fear. It’s called faith and it’s more fun.

Ready… set… GO!

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Which knob you gonna turn on?

Ten Things That Are On My Mind Today

There’s a Paul Simon song that goes, “Sometimes when I’m falling, flying or tumbling in turmoil, I say ‘Whoa, so this is what she means. She means we’re bouncing into Graceland.'”

That’s how I feel lately. I have all sorts of things bouncing around in my world and I’m falling and flying I can’t seem to get ahold of anything, I’m just along for the ride. It’s all good. It’s just all so… much, sometimes.

Because it’s hard to get my head on straight I just have thoughts and things that are bouncing around in my head. Here are ten of them.

Things that are on my mind today:

1. Spending time with people you love is the best. Finding them is the hard part.

2. Missing out on sleep from time to time is a pleasure when it’s for a good reason.

3. Fresh air on a cool morning is a balm. Or the bomb.

4. Nice people make the path of life much smoother. We should all try and be one of them.

5. Going to a new school is not for the faint of heart.

6. Fresh blackberry cobbler and Tillamook Vanilla Bean ice cream equal Northwest manna from heaven.

7. I like clean sheets.

8. Parenting is ridiculously difficult.

9. Ray Ban glasses are still the coolest

10. Faith is a difficult ideal to hold, but a much lighter load to carry than fear.

A Few Thoughts On Patience & Ticker Tape Parades

Years ago, when all the dust had settled from the Great And Terrible Days Of Hell & Suffering, I Imagewas a little bit broken. Well, I was super broken. I was tired and worn out and I had nothing left to give.

And so I began to work on some self care. I have proudly admitted that for a time I went on antidepressants to get my body chemistry back together. I slept a lot. I worked in the garden and forced myself to get together with friends. My family has told me that they really couldn’t tell I was a basket case, but I was living on the inside. It was not pretty in there. I am pleased they didn’t feel dragged through the mud with me. They’d already been through too much.

At that time, I really felt like I needed some sort of badge of honor. I was malcontent because I’d just run the hardest and longest race I ever could have imagined, and when it was over, instead of cheering crowds and accolades, everyone just packed up and went home.

This was fitting. It really played out exactly as it should have. Like I said, I was broken. Nothing was going to mImageake things better but to begin to pick up the pieces that were left of me and glue them together, like The Great Humpty Dumpty Project.

The pieces were found, fit together and with a bit of chewing gum and duct tape I am whole again. Where there were holes, I think I found new pieces to put in their place. We are all a bit different when the dust settles from the difficulties that come to each one of us.

Today I feel fine. Fine is actually an understatement. Today I feel vibrant. Today I don’t need glue or accolades, which is exactly my point. Back when the world was so painful and I felt like I needed a ticker tape parade, or something to indicate I had fought a good fight, there was nothing to do but get to work in healing.

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Thirty minutes after picking him up from Prisonyland.
This is a picture of me in pieces with my Mr Dreamboat.

It’s been nearly six years since I was such a mass of raw human. And today, though they may be in private, personal ways, I feel like I get my ticker tape parade. There are amazing opportunities that are presenting themselves as a direct result of having run the gauntlet faithfully.

I think there are things each of us truly NEEDS. They might seem silly, but we need them anyway. A pat on the head, an atta-girl, a prize of some sort that tells us we are appreciated and admired. It seems to me that those things eventually do come, and in the waiting time, maybe that’s when we get another lesson or two. One about patience and one about timing, one about self care and one about gratitude.

Wherever you are, and whatever you are waiting for and praying for and hoping and dreaming and needing, I hope you are receiving it. And if it isn’t at your doorstep yet, I hope you are taking care of yourself and acknowledging the brave and wonderful soul that you are for fighting the good fight and loving and serving with everything you have.

We all need a ticker tape parade from time to time. It’s a need. Not a want. And yours is coming.

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Finn Says Life Is Like A Box Of Chocolates… Delicious!

Every day my dog gleefully runs into my bedroom. Every day. He is fluffy and cute and still pretty small at 4 months old. Tentative around Jack, our rescued Aussie who finds him annoying, Finn knows his limitations.

It took him a solid month after we brought him home to master the step into the house. It wasn’t until my mom came to visit and taught him how to go up and down the stairs that he would come to the basement to visit me in my studio.

Like I said, Finn knows his limitations. Usually.

Every day my dog gleefully runs into my bedroom. He runs in and without pausing, sprints straight for the couch and leaps, holding nothing back. He leaps with full intention. He leaps with nothing but the complete faith that he will make it to the top of my couch, finally coming to rest upon my lap.

And every day he slams into the couch, never even coming close to clearing the cushion. I suppose I am not a gentle heart because every day I practically double over with laughter. Never phased by his defeat, he hops up and comes to stand at my feet, waiting expectantly to be picked up and loved.

Our best teachers are usually not teachers at all. I choose Finn. I choose to leap every day and expect to reach my goals. And when I inevitably fail, because that’s what happens when we try, I hope to remain un-phased, ready to be picked up, loved, and to have the faith to try again tomorrow.