Reflecting on Energy….

Study of an Energy Field by Jeanne MischoMy energy level is not what it used to be. I think back to my younger years and wonder how I managed to get all that done. Then I remember how terrible I felt all the time. It seemed even my bones were tired. We only have a certain amount of time and energy. If we push ourselves in one area of life, another area of life pays the price. We can be successful at work while sacrificing our health. We slowly give up things that matter to us as our lives become consumed by a single goal. Over time we forego a good night’s sleep, we stop exercising, we fail to set aside time for family and friends. Such single minded pursuits become a self fulfilling prophecy. We love and hate our work, loving it because it has become the only thing we are good at, hating it because the cost has been too great. Perhaps someone we love tries to talk to us about it, but we do not have the time or inclination to listen. After my daughter was born, it felt like I had two babies. My work was very important to me and I had hired practically everyone I worked with. Every day was Groundhog Day. I put on my makeup while my daughter ate her breakfast. I answered calls on the way into work after dropping her off at daycare. I worked on personnel reports after putting her to bed at night. When she was about two years old, I doubled over at work in intense pain. It still took six months to figure out what was wrong because, yes, you guessed it, I was too busy working. I had complications from her birth and required surgery to correct the problem. Yet the pain was more than physical. I was just too tired to be able to tell anything was wrong. There was a big red flag in front of my face, and I was too tired to even notice it. Make time today to look up from the endless list of things that have to be done. Sit outside to eat your lunch, take a walk with a coworker, call a friend or family member to catch up. Invest your time and energy into matters of the heart, focusing on what brings you joy. And always remember, we do not live to work, we work in order to live life to its fullest. Text by Connie Chintall ©2015, Art entitled ‘Study of an Energy Field’ by Jeanne Mischo ©2015. To see more of her work, go to http://jeannemischo.wordpress.com/

Reflecting on Solitude….

Our home feels particularly empty after the weekend. I enjoy time with my family, yet in recent years I have also learned to enjoy having the house to myself. So I was drawn to this dramatic photo by my new friend Luis. I love the single tree on the horizon, reaching for the sky in the early morning light. The branches look so delicate and graceful. I’m waiting for this slender tree to begin to dance. For many years, I equated solitude with loneliness. I actively sought out the company of others, filling my calendar with social engagements to be sure I was never alone. When my father lived with us, I was seldom by myself. As his health declined toward the end of his life, we seemed to have an endless stream of visitors and hospice support. We needed that help to allow Daddy to die at home, and are immensely grateful for our loving and supporting community. Yet there were days when I would soak in the tub, turning on the fan to drown out all evidence of existence other than my own. I simply needed to stop, to just be, to enjoy the solitude. After Daddy passed away, our home became curiously quiet. Now, three years later, there are days when I eat all three meals alone, my husband and daughter busy with work and school. I find time for prayer, creative pursuits and exercise. I am present to what life brings me, enjoying both my time alone and with others. Take time today to consider the difference between loneliness and being alone. Consider ways to make time and space for yourself in a busy household, to enjoy solitude in the midst of family concerns. Explore the balance between time alone and time with others, learning how to respect the need for time apart in your family and friends. And remember, if you sink into the solitude, you may find yourself poised to dance on a new horizon. Photo entitled ‘The End’ by Luis Gonzalez, used with his permission

Reflecting on Balance….

Calm winter mornings bring back old memories, of good times and bad. Yet what endures is the arch of our lives, how we live, rather than the particular circumstances. We may feel on top of the world, as if no one and nothing can touch our high spirits. Then perhaps we receive sad news about a dear friend, carefully laid plans are torn apart by unseen circumstances, or a long desired opportunity is laid waste. We soldier on, certain we can handle the big challenges of life, only to crumble in the face of a silly detail. So I was drawn to this haunting photo entitled ‘Unbalanced’ by my new friend Michael. I love how the path works its way around the tree, with branches all to one side. I imagine strong winds bending the tree into its present form, with roots deeply anchoring the trunk. And I especially like how the snow clings to the furrows of the fields in the distance, waiting for the warmth of spring to begin again. At first glance, this lopsided tree may seem unbalanced, but closer consideration reveals a greater stability. Rather than struggle against the prevailing winds, this tree grows in a more favorable direction, swaying to keep from breaking. Perhaps we lose our sense of balance when we work too hard to remain firm, to stand strong. Our hearts can break if they become too brittle, or simply bend if we allow ourselves to remain vulnerable, to lean on those who love us and care for us. Take time today to soften your heart, to allow the Holy Spirit to flow through your life. Lay your burdens at the foot of the cross, trusting whatever you ask is but a little thing to the same Lord who conquered sin and death. And remember if you remain deeply rooted in your faith, swaying with those you love, the good times will be defined by what you bring to life, not what life brings you. Photo by Michael Ebbrecht, used with his permission

Reflecting on Balance….

It’s a wet, dreary day, far too warm for December. Chores are waiting to be done, not to mention Christmas preparations. Yet I’m lingering over another cup of coffee, delaying the start of the day. So I was drawn to this photo of a flamingo taken by my friend Carole. I love how this odd looking bird can fold into itself, often perching on one foot. Instead of ‘taking to the bed’, this elegant creature can curl up and take a rest in place, before moving on to the next challenge. Perhaps the flamingo has something to teach us about the natural rhythm of life. We make lists and more lists, seeking a sense of accomplishment in what we did or did not do by the end of the day. We rush around to get things done, often undoing relationships in the process. We run roughshod over others, neglecting common courtesy and forgetting the value of patience. Everything has to happen right now, just the way we want it. Yet we most value what takes the most work, or time, or sacrifice. When we force an immediate answer, we sell ourselves and others short, rather than allow the best solution to unfold. We must pause to consider the best path for all, rather than the best answer for us alone. By alternating between active work and quiet reflection, we find a better path than we could imagine, or even hope for. Take time today to find and maintain balance, to consider your needs as well as the needs of others. Look for new and creative ways to work and play, to enjoy the gift of life, here and now. Make time and space for the Holy Spirit to guard and guide, recharging your soul for the challenges ahead. And remember, even when you seem to be curled up doing nothing, God is balancing you on one leg. Photo by Carole Buckwalter © 2011, used with her permission

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