A monthly newsletter to support and inspire your #HeartspokenLife. June’s theme is “Mid-year Check-in.” [Reading time under 4 minutes].
June 15, 2019
What’s going on at Riverwood
It’s not officially summer, but the deep shades of green, the sound of farm equipment baling hay in the nearby fields, and the smell of honeysuckle all conspire to make me feel like summer has already arrived. Our Cooper’s Hawks have fledged, and the fledglings are learning to pounce awkwardly on slow-moving prey while still returning to the nest to squawk for their parents to feed them. Two Eastern Phoebes are building their messy nest on the top of a column on our front porch. Here’s a snapshot I took through my office window!
What’s going on in your part of the world? Send me a photo (elizabethc (at) heartspoken (dot) com) so I can post it to the Heartspoken Facebook page. Be sure to include where you were when you took the photo.
Mid-year check-in with my “19 for 2019” list
In January, I tried a different approach to New Year’s resolutions and instead created a “19 for 2019” list. It’s been almost six months, so I checked in to see whether I could celebrate or possibly change course. You’ll see from my update report that I’ve had mixed success.
Emily P. Freeman has a wonderful podcast episode called “A Beginner’s Guide To Self Reflection.” From that link, you can either listen to the episode or download the transcript. It covers her quarterly self-examination, and I’m going to adapt it for my own.
A mid-year check-in could be a simple as asking yourself these questions:
- What went really well over the last six months (personally, professionally, spiritually, etc.)?
- What didn’t go so well over the last six months?
- What small action or actions can I take to make the next six months more aligned with my values?
Did you make your own “19 for 2019” list (or something similar?) Let me know if I can help hold you accountable for the rest of the year.
✧ NORTH—Faith: The communion of saints
I worship in a church building that is well over 100 years old. I love to think of the faithful departed who worshiped there, sang there, wept there, and prayed there. In praying for the Church long ago, they, in a sense, prayed for me.
And when I pray for my two little grandsons—for their safety, their well-being, and their happiness—I can feel the prayers that I know my own grandmothers must have prayed for me and probably still do.
Those prayers—our own and the prayers of those who have gone before—create a sacred web that will, if we let it, hold us firmly and safely in the arms of God.
“The earliest known use of the term (communion of saints) to refer to the belief in a mystical bond uniting both the living and the dead in a confirmed hope and love is by Saint Nicetas of Remesiana (ca. 335–414)…Belief in the communion of saints is affirmed in the Apostles’ Creed.”
✧ SOUTH—Connection: The three most powerful words
While “I love you” may be the three words that pop into your head, I’d like to suggest another wonderful trio: “I SEE YOU.” Researchers say that despair—the deep sickening despair that can push someone to take their own life—is often accompanied by a feeling of being invisible, insignificant, unseen. The Zulu word Sawubona means “I see you.” They use it as a salutation, because they feel if you’re not seen, you don’t exist.
Think about the clerk in the grocery store checkout line or the janitor in your office or apartment building. How many people do you suppose go past them every day without acknowledging their presence? How often do we walk by someone who adds value to our life without even making eye contact or offering a smile? God forbid someone in our own household is feeling invisible because we’re too busy or preoccupied to make sure they feel seen.
As you go through your day, be more aware of those around you. When you can, make eye contact, compliment them on their work or their appearance. Let them know they’ve been seen. Your small actions can be life-giving…literally.
✧ EAST—Self-Awareness: Where’s your growing edge?
This is the question posed by Parker J. Palmer and Carrie Newcomer on their “Growing Edge” website and podcast. In this time of polarization, incivility, and fear, where can we send out new tendrils of
- growth in the face of destruction
- resilience in the case of despair
- courage in the face of fear
- and love in the face of hate?
This concept of the growing edge was inspired by civil rights activist and theologian Howard Thurman:
“Look well to the growing edge! All around us worlds are dying and new worlds are being born; all around us life is dying and life is being born. The fruit ripens on the tree, the roots are silently at work in the darkness of the earth against a time when there shall be new leaves, fresh blossoms, green fruit. Such is the growing edge! It is the extra breath from the exhausted lung, the one more thing to try when all else has failed, the upward reach of life when weariness closes in upon all endeavor. This is the basis of hope in moments of despair, the incentive to carry on when times are out of joint and men have lost their reason, the source of confidence when worlds crash and dreams whiten into ash. The birth of the child — life’s most dramatic answer to death — this is the growing edge incarnate. Look well to the growing edge!”
My growing edge has to do with graceful aging, resisting negative self-talk, fighting the tyranny of shoulds, looking for ways to live into my social justice values, and learning that saying No can create sacred space for God’s sweet Spirit to move in my life. Where’s your growing edge?
✧ WEST—Nature: Life lessons from nature
I’ve started compiling a list of life lessons learned from paying attention to the natural world, of which we’re part. I’m up to about 35, including:
- Winter is always—always—followed by spring.
- Just because it looks adorable doesn’t mean it can’t bite you.
- Extreme conditions often bring out the best or worst in us.
What lessons have you learned from nature? Please hit “Reply” to this email and let me know. I’ll be compiling them into a document to share with Heartspoken readers and I’d love to include you as a contributor.
Did you miss any of these recent posts from my Heartspoken blog?
How Am I Doing? Checking In With My 19 for 2019 List – It’s good to stop and take stock of your life from time to time. Pulling out my 19 for 2019 list was a good way to see where I can celebrate and where I need to recalibrate. You can do this too!
Never Forget Their Service: A Memorial Day Tribute – I shared a video reflection about my father and others who have served our country.
View From The Bench: Late Spring 2019 – Get a cup of coffee and sit beside me on the bench outside my kitchen window. There’s so much going on outside!
It’s Never Too Late To Find Success, Happiness, Or Your Soul Mate – This guest post from my friend Cynthia Trevino tells how she took steps to create the ental and emotional space she needed to shift her priorities and break some unhealthy patterns in her life. What she learned can be a blueprint for finding clarity and focus in pursuit of your own most #HeartspokenLife.
Happy, Happy Mother’s Day – This is just a short, cute video song to wish my mother—and all those who are mothers in actuality or in actions—a very Happy Mother’s Day.
Am I Going Crazy? – Lest you think I’m always on top of things, I hope you’ll get a kick out of this very true anecdote from a recent day in my life.
Not Just A Writer’s Conference – This guest post by author and Faithful Writer member Mary Hamilton is for my writer readers. Mary shared her experience at the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference she attended in April.
May’s Faithful Writers Toolkit – encouragement, tips, quotes, reflections, and resources for Faithful Writers everywhere. If you’d like to get the Faithful Writers Toolkit newsletter in your own Inbox each month, join the list HERE.
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“And what is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days.“ ~ James Russell Lowell
“And since all this loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June.” ~ Abba Woolson
“In June, as many as a dozen species may burst their buds on a single day. No man can heed all of these anniversaries; no man can ignore all of them.” ~ Aldo Leopold
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See you in July. The theme will be “Summertime Livin’ Is Easy.”
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