Feel the Music

I was driving to meet my friend for our monthly coffee/tea, and heard this song. It was released in 2004, so around 2006 I heard it playing all the time. My mind began flipping through images and they weren’t all pretty, but I could see how far our life has come.

In 2008, I created an email address called abetterlife08. It was a Yahoo account and I named it that to keep those words in front of me while I worked. I can barely remember what happened two days ago, but I still remember sitting in the corner of that home office opening a Yahoo account and naming it abetterlife08. I was 10 years sober and life was better, but I didn’t recognize the man I was married to. When I think about that part of my life long enough, I can feel the tension that home office held.

In 2013 I exited that life.

Standing here in this little lake house 8 years later, I’m overwhelmed by God’s goodness and grace. Did it take 8 years Barb? No, I began seeing a better life the very first year, but it all began with believing there was one. Using that email address kept abetterlife at the forefront of my mind until the time was right to step into a better life.

Firewood

During the Texas snow/ice storm, I saw a post on Facebook that made me smile. It was a photo of a front yard covered in tree branches, and said, “It’s raining firewood.”

I needed to see that because the most unnerving part of that week for me was the location of our home. The house is surrounded by ginormous oak trees and rests beneath their canopy. We’d hear the crack of a branch, then boom onto the roof, and the branch would slide and fall to the ground. I did a lot of meditating that week, and thanked God for metal roofs.

Once the snow had melted away, I stepped outside to look at the front yard, and was in agreement that it had rained firewood. The yard was covered with sticks, twigs and a few branches, but I looked at the sticks as, ‘kindling’, and the branches were easily broken into firewood. No healthy branch breaks. It was a good day for a fire, as I removed the cover from the firepit.

God knows my heart and knows I love to sit near a fire. I gathered up all the sticks and laid some in the pit. There were so many I had to start a pile of them nearby, along with the smaller broken branches. The larger branches were laid aside for future use. I sat by the fire for hours that day, and just pondered God’s goodness and grace. If it’s gonna rain, let it rain firewood.

Crossing the Line

I’ve been using the pour over coffee dripper for my coffee each morning for a while now. It offers flexibility in cup size, and on Monday we go big.

It will fill any size cup you choose to sit under it. You just have to measure the right amount of water for the size of the cup. This morning, I measured 16 ounces of water for the gooseneck kettle, knowing this cup could hold it, but I’ve miscalculated before and that was messy.

My favorite cup and Blue Bottle coffee dripper.

One morning I grabbed a large mug thinking it was just as big as this one and treated it the same way, with 16 ounces of water. I allow time for the dripper to drain in between pours, so after the third and final pour, I walked into the next room. A few minutes later I went back into the kitchen for my coffee, only to find it pouring over the rim of the mug onto the chopping block.

It had poured over alright!

Thank God the spill had stayed on the chopping block, but I must have crossed the 16 ounce line. It’s times like these you go with what you know and make sure your Monday cup is cleaned on Sunday night.

The coffee dripper adds mystery to my morning. I’m never quite sure what I’m going to get. It calls for the water measurement to be precise, but I’m doing good just to get the water into the measuring cup much less read the lines. It’s when I cross the line that life gets messy.

I have an email to send this morning, and it feels like I may be crossing the line. That’s not going to stop me from sending it because I don’t live my life in the safe zone. When God opens the door of opportunity, communication can be awkward at first, but we don’t really know where the lines are, if any, until we cross them.

This is me, on a Monday, crossing the line.

A Beautiful Morning

I’ve been thinking about this, and had a vision I’d like to share. It took some thought and planning ahead, but it’s well worth every effort. The first thing I saw to do was to scrub the beach rug clean.

It’s odd, but in January hundreds of birds fly overhead all day long dropping red berries. My truck looks like it lost a paintball match and everything is covered in bright, red, splatters, including my front porch. That is where the beach rug resides.

The beach rug laying on the front porch.

For me this year, outside is where I see a sacred space. To sit Yogi style on the rug at sunrise, wrapped in a warm blanket, and tap into the sights and sounds of the early morning. I imagine it being like unguided meditation at it’s best.

What is a beautiful morning?

It’s about creating some space for meditation, reflection, movement, writing, or anything else you’d like to have room for in your life. And finding some space in the mornings for that, a sacred space that takes advantage of the quiet and beautiful light of the mornings.

Leo Babauta-Zenhabits.net

After posting a good night’s sleep I learned as soon as my eyes open, to sit up in the middle of the bed immediately. To sip a glass of water and give my body a chance to catch up with my brain. Sitting in the middle of the bed meditating in that quiet, stillness of the morning is beautiful for me, but recently I find myself gazing out windows often. Like my heart is nudging me outside.

The front porch is clean and waiting.

Let’s follow the heart outside and see what we learn by being present in the early morning light. I’ll let you know where this leads, but in the meantime I wish you a beautiful morning.

The Sunny Spot

When I first started this Blog, I could sit and write for hours and post daily. That has mellowed over time. I enjoy my pieces of life that don’t require Internet.

The dogs know my favorite time to write is around 9:00 am, and they become very still and quiet. It’s like they are giving me space to do what I love, or maybe they just see it as quiet time, because typing is not very rambunctious. I’m sitting at the kitchen table gazing out the window at the front yard. There’s a gentle breeze moving the trees and bushes, and birds are hopping around in the sunny spots of the yard. I can completely relate to the birds, because I love the sunny spots of life.

February and March are good months to be outside. In February, the temps will be in the high 60’s, and in March they’ll reach the 70’s, but by April we’ll be in the 80’s and then it’s on. I’ve lived here long enough where the high temperatures don’t really bother me anymore. You just praise God everyday for air conditioning.

We can look at our lives, and see what’s important. Our lives reflect an accumulation of small choices made daily. It’s a continual effort to weed out the bad and bring in the good, but we get to choose the life we’re sitting in today. With every action throughout the day, pay attention to the details. And if you find yourself gazing out the window like me, step outside and embrace the sunny spot.

From Good to Great

My daughter’s mini lecture before leaving the house for the day. “I want you to eat something of sustenance, and that doesn’t mean chocolate and gummi vitamins.” All those years of mothering are paying off where she is now mothering me! I’m diggin’ it.

I did pretty well with scrambled farm fresh eggs, by adding some shredded gouda and thyme. Along with slices of everything bread toasted and cut into toast points to hold some fig jam. It was delicious and I took this photo as proof that I ate something good.

I like a little bit of egg with my thyme.

This only added to an already great day.

Because everyday we wake up to a new day is pretty great, right? I’ll let you in on a little secret. It’s drives my friends crazy how happy I am. When they ask, “How are you?”, the answer is always, “I’m doing great!” Even if I’m not feeling especially perky, or there’s trouble brewing ahead, it’s always the same response…”Great!” My daughter knows I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulder’s when she asks, “How are you?”, and I say. “Okay…”

I don’t know about you but ‘okay’ is unacceptable in my mind, and I’ve been blessed with a very good life, but what about better than good? I’ve been saying ‘great’ for so long now, and to a lot of people the life I live is great, but what does great really look like? This year I want to step outside the knowing of what’s ‘good’, and go for the ‘great.’

We can be mindful of our day, and take note of how to make adjustments for a better tomorrow. Each day a little bit better than the last sounds like a solid path for this life to emerge over time from good to great.

Let Love Be Loud

I’ve been reading my morning devotional, and jotting down whatever jumps out, or resonates. Here’s this week’s favorite.

When things seem all wrong, trust me anyway. I am much less interested in right circumstances than in right responses to whatever comes your way.

Jesus Calling-1/26/2021

I’ve had 5 days that feel like Monday with a client at work. I really want it to feel like midweek, so I’m just gonna settle in here with you for a moment. You know, I can take happy clients all day long, and that’s the fun part of the job, but the ones who are high strung and relentless are the ones who make me better.

The circumstances were all wrong, but I believe God handed me the right responses every time.

I was able to practice listening and could hear what was really fueling his anger. It wasn’t this situation at all.

This job has taught me I cannot make people happy. They need to be happy in their own skin first, and there’s a lot of people who are not happy. I like to call this the ‘rewarding challenge’ of the job. Without any challenging circumstance there is little reward.

Whatever comes your way today, I encourage you take a pause to see what is the right response. It helps to not take the situation personally, but rather to give the kind of response to make the situation better. We have the power to make someone’s day a light-hearted and memorable experience, and people need that now more than ever. Let love be the loudest thing about you.

Take Some Time

The watch went back into it’s original box. The ginormous clock was removed from the bedroom wall and moved to the breezeway. I can still see it from the bedroom, so it will continue to be enjoyed, but it’s out of my room, and there’s no more ticking sound. I want to stop watching time.

This post was in my draft folder, and I realized that folder wasn’t emptied last year like I wrote about here. It went down to two drafts, but I felt a pause in publishing them. They are still in drafts and I’ve been adding to the folder this year, so we are back up to seven drafts!


The first week of January I shared with friends, “I’m taking the month off from life itself.” That’s when I removed the clock from my bedroom, and stopped wearing a wristwatch, but it didn’t last. A week later, the clock returned to my room, just like this draft wound up in the folder. There’s some comfort in seeing time, and knowing there’s a draft, or six, suspended in time.

That’s what January has felt like for me, just suspended it in time. Taking time to organize my life by putting things in their rightful place. Everything should have a place, or it needs to be passed along for someone else to enjoy. Sometimes we acquire items not meant for us, but we can keep them until that person shows up to give it to. That has happened quite a bit in my life. The keeper of goodness to be handed off to someone else along life’s path. That’s a good description of how we should live our lives.

Don’t sweat the draft folder. When the time is right, it will become a published post just like this one did.

Put everything in it’s rightful place, and if it doesn’t have a space, pass it on to who you believe will enjoy it.

Take notice of what comes into our lives. It may not be meant for us, but God will reveal the rightful owner.

When you find yourself anointed the keeper of goodness, that is something that surely must be given away daily.

Whatever it is you wish to pour into this world to make it a prettier place, this is your permission slip to figure out your start. The world is waiting for what you have to offer, so don’t be afraid to take some time.

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

PS. Just not too much time.

A Curated Life

Most people have made, or at least entertained the idea of making some sort of resolution or intention during this end and beginning of years. Even vowing not to make resolutions is in itself a resolution. We like the idea of grand gestures, big promises and dramatic results.

However, any lasting and significant change in our lives is not some instantaneous transformation. The big events we go through that we call major life changes are more of a wading into difference. A marriage, a move, a divorce, a birth or a death…they happen in moments, over days and seasons of time. Joining your life with someone isn’t just the big day when you say “I Do”. It’s the weeks and years where you live out the highs and lows of life together. Losing someone isn’t just the moment of loss. It is the hours and days that follow where you have to navigate a life without them.

That’s why, if you feel stuck and are wanting to embark on a journey of transformation, you have to learn to start with today, and each moment contained within this little block of time. It takes an appreciation of moments in time, to settle into lasting change.

Twenty-one months ago, I made a big promise to myself in a small moment of darkness. I promised to no longer be carried by the current of addiction, but to find my footing, and start to walk. My drinking habit, the behavior that had been with me for the majority of my life, had completely overtaken my sense of self, any ambitions I may have harbored, and all of the authentic relationships within reach. In the small hours of that long night, I’d finally had enough.

But hitting a wall isn’t the change. The promise isn’t the change. The resolution isn’t the result, it’s a starting point. Any meaningful change that you want to see in yourself happens in the moments, days, weeks and years that follow. Whether or not you are successful in making the change depends on what makes up the living you do in the moments.

It is in showing up and doing the work each day that we keep our promises to ourselves. However, merely showing up and going through the motions isn’t enough. Life needs our participation. Moments don’t simply arrive to pass us by; they are meant to be lived. And it is by living in the small moments, the often mundane and repeated moments, that we create a life. A life of our choosing, orchestrated by our engagement in the process.

It is not until we learn to appreciate and be taken up in and by the moments of our day that we actually learn to live. The wonderful part is that we do have some say in what those moments will be. Tasks and obligations are inevitable, but we can choose our attitude while performing them. We also get to choose the way we set up our daily routine, whether it’s taking in the sunrise with God each morning, or taking a meditative walk with the dog each evening.

If it is truly important to the journey, we will commit to living these moments with consistency and authenticity. So, don’t be taken in by the idea of overnight change, or dramatic “before and after’s.” Instead, be taken in by the moments you live each day.

Because that is how you curate a life.

This is a guest post written by my friend Collette, who I met on WordPress. You can visit her Blog, Wine to Water here. Thank you Collette.