Sunday, September 22, 2013

Public Speaking

     I have a comfort zone...and public speaking is not part of that comfort zone at all.  In the past, I have avoided speaking to large groups.  It makes me queasy, seriously.  In the last two years, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone in so many ways.  There are things that I feel better about doing, but I am still not comfortable speaking in public.

     Anyone who knows me well, will be happy to tell you that I have no problem talking.  In fact, I am sure that there are people who wish that I would stop talking at times.  I have no problem talking in general~never have!  Talking in front of children has never been an issue for me either.  I truly feel that I am called to work with children in some sort of way, so I am very comfortable with them. Speaking in front of adults terrifies me!

     When I speak in front of adults, I feel that I am being judged.  Do I know what I am talking about?  How well am I speaking?  Am I making the points clearly?  Am I making any sense at all?  All these thoughts are going through my mind as I speak.  It makes it hard to focus on my subject matter when I am worried about how I am presenting it.  In the last two years, I have been speaking at workshops for work.  I am called a SME....subject matter expert.  I know what I do and how I do it, but I struggle with telling a room full of people about my job.  The first time I was asked to do this, I was literally sick to my stomach....I didn't think that I would make it through my talk.  Each time has gotten easier, but I still practice my talk for days before hand!

     Now, I am really being pushed out of my comfort zone.  When I am leading my section of the workshop, I have a certain subject matter to cover.  There is a workbook with all the information I have to share.  I just have to teach that information.  I have been asked to speak at church next month.  I will be writing what I am sayings...the message will be my thoughts, feelings, and words.  No pressure at all!  I am sure that the words will come to me and I will be able to write it out, but the thought of speaking my words has me shaking in my shoes.

     I don't know if I will ever be comfortable speaking in public.  I am not sure why I am being pushed out of my comfort zone in regards to public speaking.  I know that each time it has gotten easier, but it still doesn't feel natural.  Hopefully, if this "pushing" continues, I will be able to do this without the fear that I have each time.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

You are loved

     Today is World Suicide Prevention Day.  In the last 24 hours, almost 3000 people will have committed suicide.  For each person who completes a suicide, 20 more people will attempt to end their lives.  That is a lot of people.  Even greater is the the number of people left behind when they lose a loved one.
     I know so many people who have had their lives touched by suicide.  One friend has lost both parents (years apart from each other) to suicide.  She is working hard to break the cycle in her family.  She is dealing with issues in her life to make sure that her children have a healthy mom in their life.  Another friend lost her brother.  She uses her pain and grief to help others who are going through this struggle.  Yet another friend is using her grief over her brother's death to fight for her son's mental health.  When I was 14, my cousin ended his life.  He would be 50 now...I wonder what he would be like.

     If you are thinking about ending your life, please don't.  Reach out to someone.  You are loved.

     If you have lost someone and need help, reach out to someone.  You are loved.

     If things in your life are going great and you are filled with love, reach out to someone.  Your love and joy could be the love and joy that someone needs right now.  You are loved.

     For more information, please check click here:  Out of the Darkness

Saturday, September 7, 2013

My Grandparents

     I have tried to write about my grandparents before, but I never thought that I could explain what they mean to me.  Maybe because tomorrow is Grandparents Day, but I feel like I need to write about them. There are so many times that I miss them...and they have both been gone for a long time, thirteen years for Grandpa, twelve years for Grandma.  It seems like just yesterday I was sitting by the fireplace talking to them both.  I was lucky enough to live with them for several years, I just didn't realize how lucky I was at the time.

     Grandpa was a farmer.  He worked hard.  I don't remember Grandpa farming "full-time", my Uncle Warren did most of the day to day work, but he consulted and talked to Grandpa about the farm on a daily basis.  Grandpa spent his time down at the barnyard, spending time in the shop.  I am sure that important things were being done down there, but I was a pre-teen/teen-age girl at the time, farming wasn't high on my list of things to be interested in.  Grandpa was quiet, so when he spoke, I listened, we all did.  I remember so many times playing in the basement with my cousins.  We would get a little loud at times.  When we did, we would hear Grandpa's footsteps across the floor above us.  That was our cue to run to the tables and color...pretty sure we didn't ever fool him!  Grandpa smoked cigars.  My school box was always a real cigar box.  It was a treat to go pick one out each school year.  I can't smell a cigar now without thinking about him!  I don't remember Grandpa telling me that he loved me, but I know that he did.  I never felt anything but love from my Grandpa.

     Grandma was...I don't have a word to describe her, she was master of many things.  She always had a huge garden.  During the summer, we were always up early working in the garden before it got to hot.  She grew a little bit of everything (really, it was a lot of everything).  Nothing went to waste, she canned and froze all that she grew. She gave it away to others.  Grandma baked everything from scratch...rolls, cookies, cakes.  She always had cookies downstairs in the freezer (and yes, I often ate frozen cookies when I shouldn't have).  She crocheted the most beautiful (and some ugly) afghans.  I still have the one that she made me before I went to college.  I also have one that she made for me when I was in grade school.  She crocheted baby sets...afghans, booties, gloves, sweaters.  She gave them away to anyone who asked.  She gave them to her church to sell at its yearly bazaar. I cried when I realized that she had set one back for me.   Grandma was an amazing woman.  She did tell me that she loved me and I always knew that I was safe with her.

     Grandpa and Grandma were very traditional, as were many people of their generation.  When Grandpa came up for "coffee" each morning, Grandma always had a pot of coffee, along with a snack ready for him.  Breakfast was a full meal because there was a full day of work ahead for everyone.  And it was usually before dawn!  Grandma would listen to Wally Laird on the radio each morning and write the prices for corn and soy beans in a note book that sat by the phone (which was a party line phone for those of you who know what that was).  Dinner was the meal that was served during the middle of the day, and supper was the last meal of the day.  Grandpa watched the Cubs play ball on tv (and Jack Brickhouse was the announcer not that other guy everyone else talks about).  And yes, he would often talk (yell) at the team, because some things never change.  Grandma would crochet while he watched tv.  Bedtime was early because morning was too.

     I could go on and on about them.  I could tell you that Grandpa spent two weeks in Canada fishing.  When he was congested, a shot of whiskey with honey did the trick.   Everyone once in a while, they would split a beer.  I could tell you that Grandma went to "Home-Ec" once a month.  She sat in the same pew every to Ella and behind Bud and Mary Ellen.  Grandma has a ringer washer that she used because the new ones didn't clean like the old ones.  Grandpa bought her an extra one in case hers ever gave out.  I know that they are watching me...laughing that I have a daughter who is so very like me.  I was right, I don't have the words to explain how much they still mean to me.  I hope that they always knew how much I loved (and still do) them.  I am so glad that I had them as grandparents.


Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Be the Sunshine!

     Every time I have been to Women of Faith, there has been one speaker who seemed to be talking just to me.  One year it was Shelia Walsh telling me that no matter what, the Shepard would find me.  Last year, Mark Lowery moved me with his words, his laughter, and his song.  This year, it was Angela Thomas.  Angela is an author, a story-teller, a mother, and a wife.  I didn't know much about her before, and honestly, I haven't had much time to learn about her yet.  Her message has been playing over in her mind since Women of Faith.

     Angela told the story about watching her son's soccer game.  The team wasn't doing well and she kept trying to think of ways to encourage him.  She finally yelled, during a lull in the game, "be the sunshine"!  Not the type of encouragement that a preteen boy wants to hear in front of his entire team.  He was embarrassed, but it became a family joke at their home.  The following year, Angela told some parents about how she embarrassed her son at a game.  After this game, another parent yelled to Angela's son to "be the sunshine".  The boy was embarrassed and of course he blamed his mom.   I am assuming that he got over it since she is telling the story to a much larger audience now!

     "Be the sunshine" continues to play in my head.  In the past, I have not always been a positive person.  In fact, I would see the glass as half empty rather than half full.  It was exhausting to live life with that much negativity inside of me.  I started making changes in my life.  I started getting rid of the things that were bringing me down.  I started finding small things to be happy about.  It started to get easier to be positive.  I try to see the positive in everything that I go through.  It isn't always easy, sometimes I have struggled with finding anything positive, but eventually, I do see the silver lining in the storm clouds.  And then, I am able to focus more on the silver lining rather than the storm clouds.

     Be the sunshine, for me takes my positive attitude one step further than being positive.  Being the sunshine, to me, means sharing the light, the positive, the joy with others.  In Matthew, Jesus says:  "You are the light of the world.  A city on a hill cannot be hidden.  Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl.  Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house.  In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven."  (Matthew 5:14-16).  I need to find ways to share the light that I have with others.  It might be a kind word, it might be sending a card or email to a friend.  It might just be a smile to a child or chatting with a stranger in the line at the grocery store.

     I don't always succeed in my quest to be the sunshine.  I am human and have moments~okay, sometimes I have entire days, in which I am a grump.  I have to find ways to get out of the grumpiness and share the light that I have.  I try to take time to pray when I cannot find my light.  I ask others to pray for me.  I take time to be alone.  I try to find the things in my life that are blessings.  I remind myself to be the sunshine, that there are others who might need whatever sunshine I can give them.

     Are you the sunshine?  Try it, someone needs the sunshine that is yours to share.