I scheduled this week’s FROG Blog to post while I’m away on a solo silent retreat. When I planned this trip months ago, I hadn’t expected that my latest book, Unthawed: Lessons from a Frozen Lily Pad would release last Friday (July 17th on Amazon and Barnes and Noble).
In author world, this “should” be the week to promote this new release. However, I chose a retreat cottage that does not have internet or solid phone reception.
As a form of accountability that I’m stepping out in trust, I will use this week to believe that my pre-publishing market seeds will produce fruit while I’m gone. (Truthfully, I’m waiting for my heart and mind to catch up with that bold proclamation of faith)!
This week while I write, edit, assess, and reflect, I’m grateful for an abundance of gifts. A friend gifted me with this FROG print mask. He used material from his mom’s fabric supply to ask a local seamstress to sew a specially designed mask that fits my face. I’m grateful to all people who support me on these adventures from the lily pad of life.
I’m preparing for next week’s solo, silent, writing retreat. I’m investing that time to practice my word for this year. Decipher.
In my “new lease on life” vision, I’ve chosen to ask myself, “What is my motive?”
This motivational reflection includes all facets of my life. Money and time; relationships and community outreach; writing projects and life coaching opportunities. What is my genuine desire behind every yes or no?
In visualizing the Survivor Island show, I have voted once-important priorities and some contestants off my Emerald Isle. I’ve shifted my survivor mentality into a greener outlook.
In Emily P. Freeman’s podcast, “The Next Right Thing” she teaches about how often abundant possibilities lead to decision fatigue. Her insight helped me question if I’m being mindful or simply mind full?
When I face multiple choices, I’ve incorporated the practice of deciphering by allowing two or three options. Unless it’s a life-threatening decision, I encourage myself to choose quickly. (I can easily practice deciphering at any American store where aisles are exclusively dedicated to breakfast cereals and hair products).
I’ve asked for Spirit to grant me wisdom to decipher between go, no, slow or whoa. Go and no are self-explanatory. My challenge is in those slow and whoa answers.
To me, slow means, “yes, but proceed with methodical caution.” Whoa speaks to my inner mustang when I try to outrun my reins. The deciphering spirit graciously lassoes me back into the rodeo circle.
As I pack for my retreat I’m traveling light, staying at a primitive cottage that has limited options but ample comfort. I anticipate that I’ll survive and multiply through simplicity. One decision, two options, a trinity of abundance.
Deciphering from a FROG’s lily pad on freedom island,
“There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death” (Prov. 14:12 NIV)
The following story is being considered for Tadpoles, a book in the FROG blog series. I will edit this and other projects during my July 21-25th solo/silent writing retreat. Today, I share the best version of what I have right now.
In 300 words or less from a Tadpoles Lily Pad…
I teach seminars about mindfulness. When I need to get a group to become silent, I lightly clink a glass.
One of my mindful exercises invites participants to close their eyes and identify an object that matches a sound. Even with their eyes closed, I watch facial expressions associate the chiming sound with my “call to attention glass.”
I ask them to close their eyes again. This time I tap a glass fishbowl filled with rocks and plastic frogs. Again, their expressions presume that they identify the previous glass with the clinking.
With their eyes still closed, I ask them to describe the object’s color, value, purpose, and age. Frequently, students describe the “call to attention” glass. After collecting guesses, participants open their eyes to see the fishbowl. (Some want to know why there’s plastic frogs instead of fish in the bowl).
In less than 15 minutes into our workshop, guests have come to associate that clinking glass with a call to alertness. Here’s when I encourage a lesson about sound mindfulness.
I hear about somebody. I see someone. I listen and watch. I don’t know their history or present circumstances, yet I draw my conclusions. Sometimes it’s favorable opinions. Other times, it’s harsh assumptions. Only God understands past and future, with every detail in between.
He knows my thoughts, dreams, what I fear, and where I’m most comfortable. I relate to those rubber frogs in a fishbowl. The earth temporarily houses me to serve God’s purpose, but I’m created to leap and swim toward eternal freedom.
God uses His voice to design creations of love. He takes my past worst and blends His potential worth to craft someone the world may not imagine.
Creator, please tune my witness to be associated with kindness, the object of Your affection.
In 500 words or less, the FROG Blog invites readers (and the author) to approach life with curiosity and discovery.
Thank you to Andrea Piacquadio who provided this photo.
As a student in life’s perpetual classroom, I received a well-rounded education in science, psychology, theology, and English today.
My “class schedule” resembled this:
Science: I learned how researchers define a life-giving quarter-second as “response time between a brain’s intake and a body’s output.” My quarter-second choices to think, speak or act can determine fate. Riveting.
Psychology: I recalled how one conversation, one sentence, one memory, one decision can induce multiple reminders. Quarter-second decisions can have timeless meaning.
Theology: I read Ephesians 4:30-31 in the New King James and The Message bibles. (Cited at the bottom of this FROG Blog). Same book, same verse, different words. In both readings, the word all (“all malice,” “all backbiting”) grabbed my attention.
English: I was curious to find definitions for malice and clamor since those words aren’t part of my typical vocabulary. I went to my dictionary and thesaurus (the hard cover Scrabble version that has more than 50 years of Scrabble game experience).
Science Lab: I dissected the following words and report my analysis. Diagnosis: Ouch.
Bitterness: Piercing; caustic; cruel; harsh Rage: Excessive and uncontrollable anger; violence fatal prevail; violently agitated Anger: To provoke resentment; enrage; excite to wrath; ravage Brawling: To quarrel noisily; outrageous uproar Slander: False or malicious report; verbal defamation Malice: Evil intention to injure others; deliberate mischief; spite; prompted by hatred.
Guidance Counseling with Dr. G. Higher Power: I have learned about quarter-second response times. I recognize I don’t want to mirror any of the connotations associated with anger. Dr. Power advises me to be aware that a series of lifetime quarter-seconds decisions may affect long-term, widespread development.
Homework (ongoing): release all bitterness, all resentment, all uncontrollable anger, all…
All means all.
My day began as a science experiment which led to a meaningful word search. That word search turned into a man hunt (or woman hunt in my case). The search was ordered from within.
There is a sequel to this FROG Blog because I also read, ‘”when you retaliate in anger, you give the enemy a foothold in your life. You offer a beachhead from which the enemy can attack you in other areas.” Ouch. One word. One lesson. One day. One quarter-second at a time.
I vote for reinstituting snack breaks, recess and nap times for all students in University Life!
Leaping with buoyancy, (Buoyant: having the quality of floating in a fluid. Not easily depressed; unsinkable characteristics).
“Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:30-31 NKJV).
“Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:30-31 The Message).
This week, I began inviting young authors (ages 7-16) to share their learning-to-trust through life’s experiences. Their adventure stories will be part of book #4 in the 5 book FROG Blog series.
Tadpoles, a smaller version of the FROG Blogs, will follow a 300 words or less pattern. Currently the FROG Blog books are written in less than 500 word stand-alone chapters. Unthawed: Lessons from a Frozen Lily Pad, is in the final stages of publishing and nearly set to print!
I’d appreciate input as this Tadpole evolves into a FROG book. As a sample, I wrote this story that will be one of the Tadpole chapters.
Thank you to Inga Seliverstova for contributing this photo.
I saw a compact car with two moderately sized dents, possibly from getting sideswiped on the driver’s side. Even though the car had seen better days, it was drivable and parked in the entrance row of the parking lot.
Like that damaged car, I thought about how we, as earth walkers and drivers, have been injured. We’ve hurt and been hurt by someone or something that has caused bruising.
Some scars show up on our body. Many wounds are stored in our hearts.
I don’t know the story behind that damaged car in the parking lot, but I have a new viewpoint.
People, like compact vehicles, travel through life’s obstacle course. Some may resemble shiny heavy-duty trucks, but a look at their worn tires indicate they’ve treaded rocky paths.
Today, I see my fellow drivers and passengers through a light of universally dented vehicles. We’re navigating life’s potholes (sometimes sink holes!) during our commute back Home where highways are paved in gold.
Treading with more compassionate strokes around the lily pad of life,
“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12).
This comes from Knee Deep, a future book in my FROG Blog book series. I wrote the following letter to God, Creator, Higher Power, Jesus (and all other names we use to define, attribute and respect our Universe’s Maker).
As part of my Zowie project (explained in March 3rd, 13th, 20th posts on the FROG Blog) I courageously publish this chat with my Creator from last night’s walk to a nearby pond)
Creator, Thank you for a spring filled with chipmunks! I don’t recall a year when I’ve seen so many of your curious stripers. They remind me of mini sea otters as I watch their frivolous exploration. I sit by the pond tonight and watch one little guy hop, almost with a mischievous grin. It looked like he was sneaking up on a turtle or goose on the bank.
I see rabbits, birds of several species, butterflies, squirrels and of course chipmunks living in fairly close proximity. Respecting, observing, interacting, and playing with each other. Simply doing what they were created to be: a chipmunk, a turtle. A catfish, a crane. No agenda, no competition beyond the circle of life, no bickering. No verbal communication beyond what they consider necessary to survive or create.
Thank you for their example of free-spirited character. You’ve created these animals to learn from and enjoy. Thank you for the gift of vision so I can learn through visual observation.
Today, my husband Tig and I celebrate nearly 30 years of marriage. I dedicate today’s FROG Blog to him.
The following photo is not our official wedding photo, but from the cover of my book, “Life’s Too Short for Dull Razors, Cheap Pens and Worn-Out Underwear.” I dedicate this book excerpt to Tig in honor of the memories we’ve made and lessons we’ve learned.
Tig, when we wonder if our “for better or worse” vows said, “Best or Worst,” I’m grateful our faithful practice in this marriage game adventure has sustained us for nearly three decades!
(p. 14-15) I share a memorizing mishap when I drove to watch Tig race one weekend. We traveled repeatedly to this track and knew its final turnoff was at a specific large blue pole shed and house. We knew it as “the left turn at the large blue house.” The left turn at the blue house, as if there were no other left turns and no other blue houses in that long stretch of country road.
Typically, we ride to races as a family, but for whatever reason I drove separately from the truck, trailer, and race car crew. I allotted extra time in case I got to the track early to run a couple of miles before subjecting myself to several hours of bleacher bottom in the track stands. The drive seemed to take longer and the dashboard clock confirmed that I should have been at the track 20 minutes prior. I kept my focus toward the left turn at the blue house.
Speed read past a potentially long story of asking directions more than once, adding an hour of travel time, and sixty miles on the car, I recognized the blue house (which was now a right-hand turned for reasons you can speculate). The blue house had been painted cream with white shutters since we were at the racetrack. The story remains a family joke whenever we use landmarks as directional cues. Someone responds with an adaptation of: “Hopefully the owners haven’t gotten bold enough to paint their buildings since we drove there last time.”
Meanwhile, back from the now yellow house, formerly known as the left turn at the blue house…
I eat hardboiled egg whites and broccoli for breakfast. This morning while waiting for the egg water to boil, I found myself quickly constructing my schedule. (Mentally exercising on an empty stomach leads me to stress fractures)!
Before the kettle had even warmed, I mentally completed today’s writing project, sent it to the editor and bypassed other vital processes such as writing the headline, first draft, editing, and rewriting. The egg water hadn’t even boiled before I realized that, in my mind, I had barged through today as I expect it to evolve. What if I disregarded all time, space, and interactions this way?
As children, we used to play Backwards Day. We’d wear our pajamas inside-out, eat breakfast for dinner, use our less dominant hand to draw or throw a ball. These temporary silly days showed me how increased effort and awareness were required when I adjusted my usual routine.
Each day is different with God. He respects the shape in which He designed His universe. What would our world look like if carnations grew underground? What if elephants had babies as often as rabbits?
Jesus understood that our human behavior wants to get a sneak peek at the future. He instructed us to stay on task when He said, “Give us this day, our daily bread.” I am to trust that He will provide patience, time, people, or whatever else I need for that day.
As I prepare for breakfast on the lily pad, I respect the steps leading to the meal. Brew coffee, put eggs and broccoli on plate, thank God for farmers and food, eat, enjoy each breath of every minute crafted into this day.
Routinely practicing mindfulness “on earth as it is in heaven,”