Wednesday, December 31, 2014

I CHOOSE ONE WORD FOR 2015

The time has come again, where we usher out one year and welcome another.  For some of us, we are not very sad to see the year come to a close for we experienced unexpected loss, grief or sickness, suffering agony like we've never known before.  We close the year with battle scars, emotional and physical, and we pray that the new year brings healing and peace amidst our ongoing pain.  For others of us, we may have had the best year of our lives, accomplished major goals, experienced successes beyond our wildest imaginations and saw some of our dreams come to fruition.  Then again, some of us may have simply seen a year pass, no major losses or victories, no particular accomplishments, successes or major strides, we just find ourselves right where we were 365 days ago.  No matter our experiences or situation, another year has come and gone.  Time marches on regardless of what we chose to do with it or how life may have thrown us a curve ball and three strikes we're out or if we hit it out of the park and gained a home run.  2014 ends at 11:59pm today and 2015 arrives tomorrow at 12:00am.

What have you done to prepare for that moment?  Have you thought about how you want 2015 to be different, better, more productive?  Granted, none of us knows what the new day or new year will bring, that is out of our control, but for those things we CAN control, what have we done to prepare emotionally, mentally or spiritually for 2015 to be different?

Most of us start with New Year's resolutions, you know, those goals we set for ourselves.....that we usually break before we embark on January 2nd.  I've made and broken enough New Year's resolutions to last me a LIFETIME and the only resolution I have made this year is not to have ANY!  Instead, I have chosen a different path.  I have chosen ONE WORD. One word that sums up how I want to live in 2015.  One word that encompasses what I want to pursue, possess and be passionate about for the next 365 days.  One Word that will change my days, my weeks, my life and help me find myself in a better place on December 31st, 2015.  One word that will propel me into the new year with such force that I will look back on 2015 only to see how far I've come!  (For more information on #OneWord365, read this blog post, by Claire De Boer, one of my favorite bloggers, on her blog The Gift of Writing, entitled "Have You Chosen Your One Word for 2015?"   )  It's never to late to discover your One Word and to start the process of living it.

For me personally, I am aware of some of the changes I can expect to experience in the coming new year.  For that reason, I chose a word that kept coming up for me when I was thinking about what I wanted to accomplish in the next 365 days.  I know this will be a year in which I can't cower, or hide behind my fears and doubt, but I must face the changes head on with confidence and boldness.  For those of you who know me, this is not my normal approach at life, but I know this year will have to be different.  Knowing this, I knew my One Word had to reflect this and I would need a BIG word (big in the sense that it must encompass all that I would need to face in the coming year). 

 Therefore, my One Word for 2015 is:

Empower, to be enabled, to provide with the means or opportunity, to make possible, to permit
  
Choose one word to focus on, meditate on, pray about, draw upon, and pursue.  Post it in different places so you will see it everyday.  (I have mine as the lock screen for my phone and wallpaper for my laptop!)  Take a few minutes every day to journal about becoming, experiencing and living your One Word.  Tweet about it, and post on Facebook about it using #OneWord365.  Join the OneWord365 community on Twitter, and Facebook and find your "Tribe" (others who have also chosen your word for the year).  It must become something that stays to the forefront of your mind for it to really make a difference.  Take the time to read other inspiring stories of how choosing One Word has changed others' lives, by searching for #oneword365 on the OneWord365 community, Twitter, and Facebook.  One Word is a journey, it can help you find your way if you're adrift, rediscover the person you may have lost sight of over time, reclaim your purpose, re-ignite your passion, or restore your motivation.

Yes, a new year is a fresh start, a new beginning, a chance to start anew, but don't lose sight of the fact that EVERY DAY is a gift, a blessing and an opportunity for change and growth.  Choose your One Word for the year but make it an every day experience!     


         
 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Learning to Appreciate the Beauty in Change

Yesterday, my 21 year old daughter Emily and I spent our Saturday afternoon in a local cemetery.  We weren't there for a funeral or to visit a loved one who had passed, rather we were there for fun.  What's that, you say?  Let me explain.  

We are both very creative, visual people and one of our mutual hobbies is photography.  We had planned to spend the day searching for photo ops, taking a short road trip to a neighboring community via a driving tour but when we woke up this morning, the weather was not being very cooperative.  Rather than spending the time and gas to drive all that way without the kind of weather we had hoped for, we opted to stay close to home.  We were a little disappointed that we had to postpone our outing but decided to make the best of it.  We headed for one of the local cemeteries, known for it's massive trees and gorgeous autumn colors.

Fall is our absolute FAVORITE season.  We love the chill in the air and pulling out our favorite sweatshirts and me, my baseball cap.  We anxiously await the transformation of the leaves to their vibrant colors of gold, orange and red, drinking in the moving art as the branches sway in the autumn breeze, painting a masterpiece of fluid color.  I am always amazed at the beauty in the finality of this season.  I personally like to think that the elegance of it's last days is a result of the refinement of the previous seasons.

The sounds of autumn bring as much enjoyment for us as the sight of the season.  The rustling of the leaves in the wind as they cling to the branches as long as possible before slowly drifting to the ground below.  The crunch of the crisp, dried foliage underfoot on an evening walk, and the whisper of leaves carried by the wind as they blow across the pavement.  For me, all of this encompasses this season of massive change.

For years, I've been afraid of change, dreaded it, in fact.  I've preferred to try to exist in a comfort zone of my own making, convincing myself that this was an achievement, to reach that point of tranquility and contentment.  However, I have since had to accept that everything is temporary, nothing stays the same, and as sure as you think you have reached that "place of peace," so to speak, something goes awry.  Life is what happens when you're making plans!  I have always been someone who would fall apart if my plans didn't come together, and spontaneity has never been a part of my mindset or vocabulary!  I am STILL learning to "let it go," if you will, when something doesn't work out the way I'd hoped.

Yesterday was a good opportunity for me to put that into practice, and although it wasn't exactly what we'd planned to do, what we DID end up doing, was exactly what we needed.  By the end of the day, we found ourselves literally rolling on the ground, our laughter echoing on the breeze, as we were attempting "mid-air" captures with the camera. 

                                                  After a few fails....
 
  

 WE FINALLY HAD SUCCESS!



Only Emily & I could have this much fun in a cemetery, quite a contrast, I know.  Of course, we meant absolutely no disrespect to the deceased in our endeavors today, but I kind of think we might have brought some smiles to any lingering spirits that were watching (and possibly any groundskeepers.)  If you think about it all, the adventure today, the season we celebrate and admire, the location we ended up in was symbolic.  Change is not easy, sometimes it's painful and we grieve losses and endings. All things have a beginning, and an end.  To everything there is a season, and it's up to us to find and appreciate the beauty in the end of one and the beginning of another.  Don't make the mistake of stopping short of a potential monumental discovery or life lesson by the distractions of life or plans that are altered or changed.  Maybe, just maybe, what you wanted was not what you needed because what you needed was in the change.  If we can discover this ultimate gift in the every day moments, we have tapped into one of the greatest secrets in living life to the fullest.

Embrace your becoming moments,
Cassandra







Sunday, September 28, 2014


Saturday, May 3, 2014

OWN YOUR STORY, EVEN IN THE DARK




I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how many years I have put off pursuing my dream of becoming a writer, and then I had a realization this morning….I AM a writer and always have been, and I have stories to tell, words to write, thoughts to share.

I have been waiting for the world to validate me, to tell me that I am “officially” accepted as a writer, to acknowledge my presence, my existence.  Here’s the revelation I received today….I am here, I am alive, I have a purpose and it’s time that I stop thinking that I need to be better or more polished or more refined before I put myself out there. It’s not that I am pursuing BECOMING a writer, but more that I need to develop the writer within me and be willing to open myself up to sharing those words, thoughts and stories with others. 

There are other people feeling the same way I do, who are scared to pursue their dreams, to step out of the box, out of their comfort zone, to be who they really are, to tell their stories, to share their pain, to be vulnerable.  Vulnerability is scary, but to quote Brené Brown author of “The Gifts of Imperfection” and “Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live,Love, Parent & Lead,” she says that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”  (See her TED talk that started it all here: https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

Another of my favorite quotes from Brené is this reminder of how important it is for us to own our story and to embrace our vulnerabilities. “Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”


I usually talk myself out of a blog post by convincing myself that no one really cares what I have to say and probably won’t read it.  A blog is defined as a website containing a writer's or group of writers' own experiences, observations, opinions, etc., and often having images and links to other websitesNotice that not only is a blog your personal diary of your experiences but it’s also meant to “link” you to other places AND people.  There is someone out there who needs to hear my story, your story.  You may not be a writer or called to write, but you know someone who is who can help you share your story with those people who need to hear it.

I feel strongly that part of my call to write is not only to tell MY story but to lend my writing abilities to those who want to tell their own.  I will be sharing a blog post with my readers later this month of a dear friend who has a story to tell, and I am so honored that she has agreed to be my first interview in my “Stay Calm, Just Tell Your Story,” Series.     

It’s time we realize that the purpose for our pain may be to help someone else through a difficult time.  Our struggle, our brokenness could be that one common thread that causes us to connect with someone who needs us, or that we need in our lives for a reason or for a season.  Who knows, that one experience, or struggle, or devastating loss we experienced but are afraid to reveal might save someone’s life.  Not in a life or death way, but it could be by revealing our pain, our fears and doubts, our difficulties, that could give someone else that encouragement they need to not give up, to not stop hoping, dreaming or believing.  
      

So often, we think we have to wait for the “perfect” time to do something, no matter what our calling or passion.  We tell ourselves, “I will write when things in my life aren’t so hectic,” or “Maybe when I’m not facing so many struggles, my mind will be clearer and then I can share my story.”  I know, because these are things that I have been telling myself for years.  It has been my excuse, my crutch, my reason for never moving forward.  Our greatest growth usually comes in the valley, in our brokenness, when you are going through the pain, the loss, the struggle.  That is the time to write or tell your story because as Brené Brown so wisely and eloquently states, “Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”