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Kneeling at the altar, I heard the ‘still, small voice’ (SSV) of God, prompt “Hold on to Me.” And I agreed to hold on and it has been an ‘e-ride’ (the best of rides) ever since. It has been a journey beyond my imagination. I learned to hold on to God in the ups and downs of daily life and unanticipated challenges. I held on though nauseated, head throbbing, want to lay down and die mountain-sickness while training to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Subsequently on the journey to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro (19,340 feet), the highest free standing mountain in the world, I held on to God and His words to me when in mountain thin air, “When you summit, I will be there.” This climb was an e-ride extraordinaire. Another time I held on through 13 days of listening and following that brought me face-to-face with my daughter after years of separation. I have learned to hold on to God for guidance, comfort, forgiveness, salvation, and daily dialogue. God has become my most important relationship.
I also hold on to memories, treasures, and symbols of loved ones. I hold on to the claw foot oak deacons bench that reminds me of my dad and his coal and oil business. I hold on to the tall mahogany carved desk that reminds me of Grandma Hallquist and my mom sitting at the same desk writing letters and posting oil deliveries for my dad’s business.
I hold on to papers, stories I have written, files of handouts I have created for workshops, boxes of teaching materials…just in case I need them at a future time. I hold on to people I love in a mutual way of giving and receiving. In my heart and imagination I hold on to hopes, dreams, and especially words I believe God has spoken to me.
A typical woman, I hold on to my purse every day. In my purse I have a little black mesh zipper coin purse. It holds merchandise credit slips and gift cards for Chico’s, TJ Max, Onotria Restaurant, Marshalls, Golden Spoon, and my most recent birthday gift card for Sephora. Four are
gifts cards just waiting to bring me joy when I splurge. Feeling a little embarrassed, I promise myself that I am going to use these gift cards and credit slips sooner than the Banana Republic voucher I came across a few weeks ago.
Yes, a couple of weeks ago I found again a paper I have been holding on to for years. This folded, worn, greyish tissue paper has the word “voucher” written at the top.
This paper receipt has been in and out of boxes and in and out of storage. It has traveled with me from Massachusetts to California from home to home. The voucher says I returned a pair of trousers (beige, summer Kahki pants) and have $19.99 credit. Although a Massachusetts transaction, I always wondered if it would be honored here in California even after many years have passed. My curious self, maybe my mischievous self, wanted to find out.
Hmm, I said to myself, “I will put the voucher in my purse and when I am at South Coast Plaza I will find out if Banana Republic will honor my voucher.” The mall map showed me where to go. Upon entering the store I asked to speak to a manager to avoid a future awkward situation at the cash register.
A tall, pleasant looking woman approached me, “I am the manager.”
“Good morning. I have this Banana Republic voucher that I want to use for my purchase today. “
She looked at it and smiled, “Yes, you can.” She smiled further as she read, “It’s from 1989.“
I smiled, “Yes, thank you.” As she handed it back to me I felt my happiness inside rise up because I found favor and now could look for something to purchase. I looked around a bit, especially at sale items that might fit my voucher credit amount and found a long sleeved, comfortable looking cotton top in a lovely spring shade of lavender. After trying it on and deciding it was perfect, I sprinted to the cash register.
Good morning. “I want to purchase this shirt.”
The young brunette clerk smiled, took the shirt and began to ring up the sale. I handed her the gray, faded, folded voucher. “ I want to apply this voucher credit to my purchase. I talked with the manager and she said it is fine.”
The nice brunette sales girl smiled and examined it. “This is different. Our slips now say merchandise credit at the top, instead of voucher. Oh, wow, it is from May 1989.” Grinning ear to ear she continued, “I think I will keep this one and put it on the wall.”
“Because the paper’s fragile,” she continued,” I won’t slide it though this machine. It might tear.”
Instead she typed the voucher number into the system. Just like magic the system connected with a “bing-bing, bing” and accepted the voucher number after 23 years. Transaction completed, credit given, the nice brunette sales girl announced, “You don’t owe anything.” WOW, the voucher credit number was still in the system after 23 years! Curiosity satisfied, respect for the accounting system at Banana Republic soaring, I decided that some things are worth holding on to.
* * * * *What is worth ‘holding on to’ in your life in 2013? What is helpful to ‘let go” of?
With my feet on the ground again after the joy and excitement of my first skydive (see July blog below) I am now stretching to live into the fullness of the last weeks of summer guided by the words: Simplify in the Summer ~ Move in the Fall.
These words came to me a month ago and are full of energy/life for me. I don’t understand the full meaning yet of the words “move in the fall,” however I know they are words to guide and prepare me. The simplify part is speaking to me of sorting through my bookshelves, boxes of teaching materials, memorabilia, and my “packed to the gills” closet of clothing. It is my time to sort through my belongings and to keep what is relevant and release what is no longer useful or important for me to store. It helps me when I remember that I can give away somethings that might bless someone else. Letting go will create “open space” in my home ~ space for the peace of simplicity.
My challenge in giving away my “stuff” is rooted in the meaning and memories I attach to my belongings. I don’t want to have regrets that “I wish I still had kept the … or … ” etc. I keep boxes of teaching materials ”just in case” I teach that course again. “Just in case, just in case” explains the stack of boxes in my storage closet. So many ??? “treasures.”
Listening within, I sense that to be ready to “move in the fall” means I must simplify and be unencumbered for what is ahead. Currently I am sorting in 20 minute increments so I don’t get overwhelmed. However, when I am on a very productive “roll” I just go with the flow and keep working to keep the momentum going. I feel more relaxed each time I create new open space in my home. I wonder what fall holds for me ~ what ways my life will “move in the fall.” I am simplifying a little each day so I will be ready.
Do you want or need to simplify your belongings this summer to move ahead in your life unencumbered? Are you listening within for words to guide you and prompt you to action? I hope you will write a message below to share about the words that are guiding your life.
Tuesday, July 17th, I achieved one of my goals that I have been thinking about, dreaming about, imagining, and reading up on for several years. It all started yesterday, a day like any ordinary day, when I visited with my friend Andrea on the telephone. It was an inspiring conversation that left me on tiptoes with enthusiasm after we listened to the song “Ride the Wind” that captivated her. After our telephone conversation I began to remember my desire to skydive and to “ride the winds” free like an eagle. The idea was alive and this day I spontaneously followed my inner impulse to “do it.” Almost instantly the pieces fit together: the appointment was scheduled for the next day (usually SKYDIVE Elsinore is closed on Tuesdays!!); a friend was available to go with me on short notice; and the lunch visit for Tuesday turned out to be for the next week.
How did this happen so quickly after two years of dreaming? ~ on this very day? It happened partly because I am flexible and willing to follow the stirring in my soul and spirit and run after my dream. Of course, as you already may have guessed, the weather promised to be ‘skydive friendly’ and my ‘mad money” envelope had grown ‘fat enough’ to support this ‘out of the box’ adventure, gas, and funds to treat my friend to lunch.
So, this morning in faith my friend and I drove to Lake Elsinore, CA where Tiffani and Danielle and Shamma helped with the office details, information video, and paper signing of necessary releases. Then handsome Foti, my Italian instructor and tandem person, suited me up with a bright blue outfit and a cute purple and black hat and, of course, an altimeter on my wrist to keep track of the altitude as we plummeted at 120 mph in free fall from the plane followed by the parachute trip to “terra frima.”
At about 11:15 a.m. my delightful videographer, Andy, began to interview me and record the story of my very first jump. Foti and I practiced getting out of the aircraft and we then boarded the plane with 10 other jumpers and instructors. We flew 15 minutes up into the clear blue sky until we reached 12,000 feet altitude. At the appointed time Foti and I, securely strapped together in tandem prepared to jump. “Foti, where ever you go, I will go. I’m sticking with you.”
We carefully approached the door of the Cessna aircraft and at the “point of no return” plummeted into mid air in the middle of nowhere … just air space all around us to soar at 120 mph. During the free fall the strong cool air smacked me in the face and ears, the wind rushed at me and then past me ~ or maybe it was Foti and I who rushed out of the plane and smacked into the air. In a fun way we tumbled and circled down through the atmosphere. A mini stabilizer deployed to make the free fall less bumpy. I am at a loss of words to describe those feelings during the first minute of free fall. I stretched out my arms like birds wings and waved at Andy as he plummeted with us and took pictures as we soared in the bright blue cloudless sky. I kept my knees bent and my feet up between between Foti’s legs. Lake Elsinore looked spectacular below and the brown patchwork boundaries of the town with irregular shapes of green grass here and there decorated the earth.
We fell to 5,000 feet and then with a jarring thrust the parachute released and jerked us to an upright sitting position and transitioned us to a slower float towards earth and the opportunity to ‘catch our breath’ and do a few spirals. This quieter pace under the blue and white parachute made it easy to look around and enjoy the beauty of creation. Foti checked “Are you OK?” after the jolt of the parachute release. “Yes” I ecstatically responded grinning ear to ear. I wanted to take in all of this experience to the fullest ~ this moment and adventure like none other. According to plan, we landed with our legs straight out and up enabling us to slide in smoothly on our bottoms.
Sitting on the ground with the parachute deflating, the rush of adrenaline and light-headedness surfaced. Standing up, at first I felt a little nauseated and a little unsteady…giddy with excitement. I was bubbling from the inside out … I was VERY happy and grateful to be blessed with this wonderful adventure. Foti and Andi’s personableness and warmth, quality professional work, and fun interactions with me contributed to my feeling safe and relaxed and having the time of my life.. Would I do it again? Yes… I would love to.
As I reflect, I find it interesting to realize I was not afraid. My telephone visit with Andrea and the song she brought to our time together were a catalyst for my dream resurfacing to”ride the winds.” I sensed this was my day, my moment to fulfill this desire of my heart. This jump, skydive, is for me a metaphor for what also happens in my daily life as I grow and let go of control, abandon myself to new experiences, and open myself to live wholeheartedly (body-soul-spirit). This is a day of celebration.
So, my brag is: Today I fulfilled my desire, my dream, to jump into the air and fly like bird, soar like an eagle, and open my heart with abandon, nothing held back. Today I did just that and I am filled with gratitude.
What is your brag today? What dreams do you have that you want to fulfill? What desires do you want to step into and make happen. Or, maybe you want to discover the dreams latent within you waiting to be noticed. I would love to help you discover your dreams and then take steps to fulfill your dreams. (To see the skydive video: go to “You Tube” on the internet and when your arrive at “You Tube” enter at the top of the page….Nancy Anderson Skydives …click, and the video pops up…enjoy)
Contact me, Dr. Nancy Anderson, I want to help you discover your dreams and take your next step to achieve your goals. Come visit again “drnancyanderson.com”
I have discovered that writing is an important tool for celebrating life and for healing wounds, memories, and relationships. Writing the following story about going on a Hurricane Katrina relief effort helped me release the memories imprinted within my soul and helped me let go of some of my sadness about the great pain and losses of the people in New Orleans.
What story is within you waiting to be birthed on paper? Try writing about your experiences and see what you release and what insights you gain. Share your story when you are ready. If you are interested in joining a writing group or a “Writing is Healing Workshop” please contact me, Dr. Nancy Anderson.
Check my website for 3 July Workshops to ignite your life. July 14th: “Writing Tools for Healing and Tranasformation Workhop;” July 18th: “Ignite Your Life: Writing and Imagination Workshop;” and July 21st: “Secrets of Effective Communication.” Give yourself the gift of a workshop. (CE credits for MFT’s and LCSW’s)
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A defining moment with my Dad took place in Florida after his 90th birthday party. We celebrated him for a week and when it was time for me to return to California, I went into his room. He was sitting on the edge of his bed with his feet on the floor. I sat down beside him and put my arm around his back and said, “Dad, I‘m so glad I could come to celebrate your birthday. It’s been wonderful to be with you and to reminisce about ninety years of your life.”
We talked about the past, the present, and the future. Looking back, I realize he gave me a blessing at that time when he said, “You’re going to have a good life Nancy. Things are going to go well and you will have good health. I have prayed for you each day.”
He continued to talk about a variety of topics on his mind: his preference for cremation when the time comes, the upcoming presidential elections, and lastly he asked if I would come back at Christmas time. When he had emptied his soul, the silence defined we were finished.
Unsure about what the future held, I wondered if this might be the last time I would see my Dad. Once a 230-pound man, now he was frail, less than 150 pounds, and blind. He had a pacemaker and hearing aids. Throughout the day he received oxygen off and on. His body was withered but he still had a strong voice and spirit.
As I stood up to leave I heard the words within me, “Cuddle with him.” I thought, What? Quickly, experience reminded me not to analyze but to follow that prompting. I said, “Dad, could I cuddle with you for a few minutes before I leave?”
Just as surprising as the words I heard, to my amazement, he silently and instantly turned his body around, laid down on the bed, rested his head into the pillows and extended his left arm out to make a space for me. I climbed quickly up on the bed into the space under his arm. I put my head on his shoulder and my face cheek to cheek with him. Then he began:
“Nancy, you’re my little baby girl.”
“Yes, Dad, I’m your little baby girl.”
Then he said, “You’ll always be my little baby girl.”
“That’s right, Dad, I’ll always be your little baby girl.”
Then I added, “Relationship is the most important thing.”
“That’s right,” he agreed.
“Dad, I have a need to love and be loved.”
He responded, “I know.”
With tears watering our cheeks, we talked for about ten minutes heart to heart. For me, it was a time where we stepped into eternity. There was nothing of the past and nothing of the future, only the experience of being present with each other and God. All that existed was love.
When I left my Dad’s bedside I knew that if I never saw him again I would be okay. God’s perfect love cast out fear. God provided in such an “over the top” way for my Dad and me, I knew He would provide for us whatever the future held.
What are your dad stories?
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