Election Thoughts: The Rumble, Jolt and Surprise

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We’re all shocked after the elections.  Some are truly happy, some are devastated and there are others that were lacking enthusiasm for however the results panned out either way.  But I think we all can agree that we are surprised by what’s happened.  What has been interesting isn’t the jolt that we’re going to have a presidency that will be dramatically different from what we’ve had maybe ever.  What’s surprising is the manner in which so many of us have handled the rumble.

I see statements that now America is putting behind a corrupt political system.  That if you voted democrat you are for corruption, murder and lies in the White House.  If you’re a democrat you’re okay with letting ISIS into our country via the southern border. Or if you voted republican that you are a misogynist, a racist, anti woman, homophobic and it’s likely you didn’t get a bachelors degree and you’re white. If you voted third party you’re sheeple, a self righteous purist, an idiot for throwing your vote away and it actually was a vote for the bad guy.

Congratulations, we all have been called things that are untrue.

I have some sincere questions and thoughts to share with you my dear reader for whom I have empathy and a deep respect for.  I get how exciting, joyful, apathetic and maddening it all is right now and I want nothing more than for you to feel heard. I know that your view matters greatly.  But I want you to consider how much your opinion matters.

Where do we consider drawing a line in the sand to rein in our opinions?  How much value is in the weight of your words and is it worth polarizing yourself from the other half of the country?

By your passion to let your voice be heard you’re enjoying the right we have to a voice as Americans and it’s at the cost of your respect for a significant portion of the people you share life with.  Here’s the hinge that this ramble is about.  Does your opinion cut you off from others?  If it does, is it seriously worth it?  If your opinion requires insults, belittlement and costing relationship with half of the country I’m sorry, but you are closed minded.  I find it genuinely confusing to see so many say that others need to have an open mind and yet after the election I see the very same people say that they will have nothing to do with anyone who voted for opponent of their favored candidate.

And finally, have you even considered how hard it is to hate someone and what their views are if you were looking them in the eye while trying to prove them wrong?

Don’t let this be the beginning of division.  Let this be an opportunity to stop commenting on every post that provides an opposing argument and instead suggest meeting that person across the table for coffee so you can find a window of understanding into how they formed that view.  Challenge yourself.  See if you can call someone a racist to their face after you take the time to really see them.  I’m thinking it would be tough to call someone an ISIS promoter if you found out why they feel the way they do.

Take the chance to see people.  Use this season as the means to become more loving, more empathetic and to not forget that the other half of the country that voted differently than you are authentic and good people for the most part.  They’re parents who want to see it better for their kids and grand kids.  They’re owners of that business you love in your community.  They’re your coworkers, employers and customers.  They’re your family.  Your children.  Each person despite of who they voted for is a chance to love and honor them for being as human as you are.

Handle the the surprise with grace.  Recognize the jolt and be humble.  See the goodness of so many people who are different than you.  Realize we’re all gonna grow from this.  See that as individuals we face the choice to make America be great not because it ever lost greatness but because we are what makes it such if we’re in it together.

 

With so much love,

Sara

Could I be the Hero?

DSC_1421.jpgThis morning I’m mulling over the idea of letting go of waiting on the heroic moments.  Letting go of waiting around for the character of a hero to suddenly appear within me.

I feel like I’m one to just hope that I’ll arrive to the character that I’m called to have and to just maintain that state of being effortlessly from there on.  Wouldn’t it be nice to arrive to such a state?  But what if we won’t?  That doesn’t dare mean to give up on becoming who we’re called to be.

Take for example the proclamation that you might have said to a partner, spouse or dear friend that goes “I would die for you”.  Those are some hearty words that have a lot of meat on the bones.  They bear weight.  They’re badass.  The thing is, for most of us it’s unlikely that our devotion would be put to the literal test of those words (and I pray that we never have to be so harshly tested).  Most will walk down life alongside others who we love without facing the challenge of taking a bullet for them.  No, we face the challenge of living for them.  When we say “I want to live for you” it doesn’t sound as epic as dying for them.  We even feel an inkling of dislike for that idea.  For me, my knee jerk response is to live for myself and if you’re kinda human like me, you’ll have the same adverse reaction to that as well.  The intimidating thing about choosing to live for others is that it’s not always certain they’ll reciprocate such a devotion. Sometimes sharing life is a bore if not a chore.  Wow, I didn’t mean to rhyme there but I’m keeping it!

I’m not speaking as if I know, but rather this blog is a bit personal processing for me here. So don’t assume you’ll read to the end and be able to enjoy the impeccable revelation of what it means to live for others perfectly.

I know we all will face those moments of where we must be the hero.  This could be the moment of forgiveness against a bitter wrong made against you.  It really could be taking a bullet.  Or maybe it’s starting the difficult but necessary conversation you’ve had on your heart for awhile.  If we are living with our necks our there even slightly we will have to face moments that require epic character.  But here’s something to consider.  What if we are waiting for our character to grow just as we are waiting to be heroes?  What if we are missing on pondering our character in the mundane and cultivating it there?  Maybe the big moments aren’t where the character is developed but merely proven.  What if we’re just living to prove ourselves?  I think we could be missing out if we aren’t careful.

We might want to consider the scary thought of having to be intentional in the daily to becoming a person of true character.  I don’t want to reach the end of my life realizing that I have mostly the character of a person I don’t admire because I didn’t put in the effort in the moments that counted but looked boring so I passed them by.

I feel that we have to let go of hoping to be a person of integrity in a moment of grandeur but instead take it seriously when we are at the office when the boss is away that week.  I feel that we might only have a handful of moments between now and our last breath where we could see that we were an epic hero and maybe even less than that.  My point is that your character matters now.  It matters today when you walk into work this morning.  It matters when you pick up the kids from school this afternoon. When you say ask for forgiveness from your spouse.  It’s in all of the mundane and unacknowledged moments.

My hope is to encourage you to know that who you are is only who you see in the mirror today.  We might never be a hero as we picture heroes but we can have a choice to build and grow heroic hearts every day. We always have the choice of character.

So with whatever you are living for, live it well my friend.

With so much love,

Sara

Stop Pursuing Passion.

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“Pursue your passion.”

“Find your bliss.”

“Reach for the stars.”

We’ve heard them all before.  We even give credit to those little nuggets as words to be guided by.

Is this why we might be in a state of discontent?

Lately I’ve been drawn to unpopular thought patterns in which I question all these little sayings and wonder why I feel an aversion to them.  Shouldn’t  I want to do something I’m totally passionate about?  Don’t I want to be blissful?  Okay, reach for the stars. . . that one has never made much sense to me; not even when I was little.  Maybe I’m too literal but that looks weird if you try.  It only looks cute when you’re two.

I feel like we might give all our credit to only the underdogs of our culture.  Take for example the untalented kid who decides to join the team and when he gets a home run the crowd stands to their feet cheering.  I like those scenes of the underdog winning, but why is it that we feel gross when we see the other kid who has the talent keep succeeding by literally hitting the ball out of the park every time?  Don’t we resent that kid and call him lucky?  Why are we not inspired by him and want to share his picture all over Facebook with sayings like “if he can do it so can you”?  The other kid who didn’t seem to have what it took but did totally is cuter to talk about.

I feel like we have this idea that you need to be passionate in all you do all the time so therefor only pursue what gives you that feeling.  I also feel like this idea is why most people feel guilty for what they do that doesn’t involve much passion on a daily basis.  We feel that we’re the ones missing out if our jobs aren’t what people want to see on Instagram.  I think we have been cultured to feel like the moments in our life that we don’t want to post about are not worthy of praise and for that reason we are on the wrong path in life.  If we have a talent that isn’t from a source of passion but rather from hours of discipline and work we have a tendency to look at it as lesser grade of gifting?

Have we misplaced value with passion?  Where has the word dedication gone in our daily vocabulary?

I don’t think we should be in loveless, soul sucking work.  If you really don’t feel like you’re in the right place than trust your discontent because it’s your gut telling you that you have settled for something safe and that could lead to an unfulfilled life. You know when you are in the wrong place and if you are in something that has caused you to lose sight of real goals than get away.  But consider what influences you in your understanding of being in a job that is right or not.  Do you think public servants are in public service because service equals consistent passion, or is it that they have a dedication to serve others despite of the dispassionate moments?  Do you think case workers in child protective services go to work everyday saying that they’re passionate?  Or maybe do you think it’s because they’re committed despite the good and the bad feelings that arise daily?

Maybe we could trade out passion for value.  What if we pursued value?  I sincerely feel that if we can find ourselves in something that is pouring out into the world what we are called to give than what will be returned to us is passion and joy.  Maybe we’re putting the horse in front of the cart by saying “pursue your passion”.  By handing in the passion card you aren’t giving up on anything but rather you are realizing that life is about so much more than what we are feeling.  Life is about choices in which we can garner feelings as a direct result of what we give.  Passion comes from hours of work that is motivated by the value we add to others and to our own lives.

So don’t give up on yourself by comparing to others on social media.  Don’t look down on who you are because you’re not the perpetual passion energizer bunny.  Instead maybe adjust your lenses a bit to see that you have what it takes to be exactly where you need to be by realizing what value you add.  If you feel like you’re in a spot where your talents aren’t being utilized than go somewhere else.  If you feel like you can add so much more value than what you are than put in the two weeks notice.

Before you can feel passion, maybe you need to first give, recognize and add your value to the world around you.

With so much love,

Sara

 

Fly Fishing: Present vs. Positive

DSC_0998.jpgYou been casting, casting, casting and casting all morning.  No luck. No hits. Nada. Are there even fish in this river?  Wait obviously there is.  This is the Mighty Mo you Space Cadet!

I have found so much value in mornings like that.  It requires for me to stop being overly positive in what I have tied to the end of my line and to look around and see what I haven’t taken in.  What bugs are out right now?  Do I have a fly convincing enough for a fish?   Am I mending my line so my fly is keeping pace with the right water? Oh crap, maybe if I slowed down to take a look I might have noticed  that I’ve had a bunch of slime caught on my fly for the last half hour.  If I were a fish I wouldn’t want fresh water kelp on my breakfast either.

I can also see the times when I have been stubbornly casting the same fly I had tied on that morning because I simply don’t want to switch out what I got on.  You could say that I was staying positive about what I already had.  I’ll admit that sometimes with a bit of patience I might get a hit eventually by staying positive but it usually doesn’t pan out as well as the other times when I took in what I needed to adjust and did.

The funny thing is that this conversation just became a lot more than fly fishing.  Lately I have heard and seen so much where people are throwing out the mantra to “stay positive”.  Oddly, I have found a recoil in my gut every time I hear that and I have been asking myself why for the last few days.  Isn’t it good to stay positive?  Shouldn’t we keep persevering by staying upbeat, happy, and positive?  Do I think negativity is a healthier alternative?  What am I missing? What the heck does staying positive do for me when I need to stop, breathe, and take in what I need to process in my life?

I guess where I get the recoil from is that there have been times that I have been told by well meaning friends to “just stay positive” that did more damage than good or did nothing at all for me.  It was like they were throwing out words that have the same effect as comfort food in the way they look good, taste good and are empty calories.  I knew that there was something I needed to get through a time of learning, but being positive wasn’t all of it.  That advice made me feel inadequate.

I feel like if I were a soldier running into the fight I wouldn’t need my commander to yell “stay positive!!!!” to me.  What the heck does that do for me when my army is getting torn down by the enemy and I have to survive despite my wounds, the blood on my face and the odds stacked against me?  I think I would want him to tell me to “stay present!” instead.  A battle might be a dramatic example (especially when this started out as a conversation about fishing) but for a few of us, life might be a battle as we sift through anxiety, disconnection and depression.

It seems like people who have stayed present in their circumstances have the ability to see their end game despite of what is casting a shadow over them.  I feel like the times when I had to go through growth that hurt I had to just look at where to place my footing next.  When I stopped telling myself to be positive and instead acknowledge when I was lonely, anxious, or belligerent I was able to see life without rose colored glasses.  I could see what I need to develop and even to extent of admitting my need for help that otherwise might had been lost if I just kept telling myself to see the bright side.  If I “stayed positive” I never would have walked into my therapist’s office.  I never would had called my mom when I needed advice.  I wouldn’t have asked my husband for forgiveness when I needed to ask it of him.

By choosing present over positive I found something deeper than an exterior perception to aim for. I found hope instead.

Hope. Let’s talk about that.  I feel that’s a concept that has a bit more meat on the bones than positive.  Hope can always be within you even when you are seeing the reality of what’s surrounding you.  It can be in your soul even when you can’t smile and doesn’t have the shallow requirement to be happy the way that positive does.  You can see the light at the end of the grief, trial and pain.  I don’t think you can just step into hopefulness but rather it’s the product of seeing what needs to be done and finding the tools to do it.  It’s the assurance of things unseen by having the audacity to get through today.  Hope is the souls gumption to survive.

My sincere desire is to let you know that you are not failing for not seeing the bright side today.  Please stop feeling like a letdown because you haven’t been able to smile as brightly as you used to. Maybe we need to stop making others feel inadequate by throwing around shallow advice but instead just sit down, let them verbalize what they’re processing, tell them we love them and say that it’s okay to cry.  Maybe this means looking at yourself in the mirror and saying “I’m done doing this alone”.  It could mean walking into a therapist’s office for the first time.  Talking to your spouse about the hidden addiction. Or to put on those gym shoes collecting dust.  It means doing whatever it is you know in your heart needs to be done and finding the support to do it.

Like fly fishing maybe we can be done with casting that same old fly that worked last week.  Look around, see what’s actually happening on the water and tie on something new and see what you land.

With so much love,

Sara

 

Fly Fishing: What Most Days Are Like . . .

DSC_3434.jpgSo this week hasn’t been the hottest for landing fish for me.  I got out on the river four nights and didn’t land a single one.  It’s one thing to have a fish on, battle with him a bit and lose him despite your best effort so at least you can come up with an excuse for why he got away, and entirely another when you seriously suck. A couple nights ago I missed about a dozen hits for no good reason at all. Last week I had fabulous luck with a big ugly hopper that was attracting fish with every other cast and now this week the fish have changed their minds yet again.  Picky little turds!  And everyone can stop telling me to use a size 20 snarky pale little dry fly.  What is the point of tying that one on when I can’t see the darn thing out there?  In my opinion the best fly to tie on is the one you can actually see!

Of course I’m not gonna walk around saying “Hey, today was the best day of fishing ever. Nope, I didn’t catch anything but I learned so much. They all got away and it was awesome!”.  Nah, I’m gonna post pictures of when I land pigs so that you can always think that I spend all of my time being the best fly fisher ever.

My point is that even fly fishing can breed contempt the more familiar I become to it.  Most of the time literally is spent switching out flies, casting, snagging a tree on my back cast, climbing trees, casting, casting, casting, watching my husband catch lots of fish, and myself not seeing much action while saying under my breathe “It’s not fair”.  But then there are those few moments of fighting fat fish, landing them and remembering that jolt of excitement you get that erases the hours of all the mundane stuff.  I feel like fly fishing is such an example of the rest of my life; which is that there are those moments in between the work and learning that are amazing, but if I’m not careful those glorious moments will eliminate and misplace the value of where most of my time is spent in the daily.

You don’t see any of us taking selfies whilst opening bills, getting the oil changed (I’m overdue on that), snagging flies on our waders, walking from the car to the office, telling your kid that they don’t need another cup of water tonight and to get back to bed (for love of God!!!) and all the other things that are required of us to make our worlds go round. We all define ourselves by our triumphs, the moments when we reached the summit, got that degree, walked down the aisle, see our kids take their first steps and all of those sorts of milestones.

But what about what makes the most of who you are and where the majority of your time is spent?  Why is there no praise for that?  Did you feel a dose of profound humility in the moment when you won the challenge? Or can you place the humbling times better in the hours of work, monotony, and having to ask for help over and over again from others who are better than you?

As a newlywed I can see how I need to choose to take in those moments with my husband that aren’t just when we’re looking like a couple of cool kids loving life out on the river or traveling to incredible places but rather when we are talking candidly about finances, how much money to put into my car, and the phone calls we get at the end of the day when he’s away for work (if we’re lucky enough that he’s got service wherever he’s at).  We have mountains and valleys in our lives but do you see us staying on top of our peaks continually?  No, you don’t.  I absolutely feel that we need our times on the mountain top but to not misplace all our value by thinking it’s all in those sole moments of standing there.  We are designed for spending the majority of life in the valleys, climbs, and the way back down.  It’s where we forgive, grow, love and live.

Life requires each of us to put in passionless hours, hard work, failures, resets and the choice to never let go of hope that we are becoming who we are called to be in the end.  Our character is never made when the moment doesn’t require it of us.  Marriage doesn’t last because you feel exactly how you felt on the day of your wedding but rather by the continual choice to honor and to love even when love is costing you a lot.  Careers don’t happen because you absolutely love what you do all the time all day long and if that were the case we would all quit our jobs by next Thursday and not even try to make it to the weekend.

So when you are looking at pictures of other people living grand adventures, making friends with cool people, relationships that are thriving, and families that are getting along perfectly don’t loath yourself by comparing while you’re sitting at the kitchen table avoiding the dinner dishes at 10:45 pm on a Saturday night.  Please don’t do that to your soul.  Just realize that for every one of us humans, most of the time surrounding our defining moments is mundane but it’s time that’s valuable because it’s making us us.  See your own value in those times when you are doing the best for your kids, when you have to admit you need advice in relationship, and when you decide that you need to see your counselor again.

Honor where your time is most spent by asking yourself what part of you needs to grow in this experience.  What can you learn?  Who do you need to encourage and affirm?  What can you do to help your spouse through this again?  What tools can you find to become well after being unhealthy for so long?

Don’t get me wrong.  I want every single time of fly fishing to be fabulous, and a lot of the time it’s not.  But I know that when the fish are being picky turds is when I’m learning the most.

With so much love,

Sara

Fly Fishing: A Joyful Kind of Lonely

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When was the last time you found yourself immersed in something that brought you joy?  I’m not talking about the “happiness” that comes with making an Amazon purchase, or getting a few laughs out of your favorite Netflix series.  I’m talking about the deep satisfaction of when you got out there and did something that didn’t require a screen, a click, or a swipe to the right.

We each find that high through our own unique avenues maybe by hitting the gym (I wish that was mine all the time),  creating art, playing music, cooking a meal, loving family, finding an adrenaline rush and countless other ways.  For me, a prevalent avenue of joy is seeing that fish hit the fly in those last few minutes of daylight when the air has cooled down.  It seems odd to say but it’s a lonely joy. It’s a joy that comes from being so connected to the moment, and it doesn’t require the presence of others.

I have started to understand that loneliness isn’t a feeling to suppress but maybe a cue that you need to lean into gaining a deeper understanding of who you are and what you hope to be. We are caught in a time that makes it impossible to be alone.  When we are alone we unthinkingly scroll through our news feed, pin things, watch another episode and all of which are often far removed from our lives. We are becoming more lonely by finding things to not be alone.

We can avoid loneliness so easily, but what are we losing because of that?  What discoveries about us are we missing out on because we focus on the external and shallow happy feelings we get from being entertained?  Is it possible that being lonely is an  opportunity to capitalize on finding what you can cultivate in your character, talents, and dreams for life?  Think of those conversations we could be having with our spouses, the words we could be writing, and the people we could be loving if we could just capture those moments that we just hand away to entertainment.

So here’s what I hope I can encourage you in.  If you are lonely, it doesn’t mean you should go find more friends (but maybe it does every once in awhile).  It doesn’t mean you are a loser for being lonely or that you’re undesirable company. I have found that when I acknowledge my loneliness that I’m able to think clearly about the things that make me anxious or to tackle what I have been avoiding. It might be that you need to put the phone down and understand what it is your soul is lonely for.  It could be prompting you to go on a walk, to pick up a book you love, tell your kiddo you’re proud of them, or to finally stop adding another pin to that damned board and go make something yourself.  Do something that doesn’t take your time and gives nothing back.

For me, it has often meant that I need to drive down the road and see what fish are stacked up in that pool on the river I drive by everyday.  Fly fishing helps me become close to who I feel created me and never leaves me feeling like I wasted my time.  Never have I been on a river and not felt a deep sense of gratitude for this life and for who I go home to get to share it with.

May this leave you encouraged and remind you that your loneliness is the call of your soul asking for you to cultivate what it is you do to bring light to the world.  Go kiss your wife, call your parents, tie a fly, pray, or whatever your soul is needing instead of looking at your phone tonight.

With so much love,

Sara