I’ve decided to join Emily P Freeman in a time of looking back with intention and discovering what I’ve learned over the last three months.
As Emily says, it’s a time “where we pause to reflect on the past season before we move ahead into the future. “It’s not the experience that brings transformation,”says author and teacher Jan Johnson, “it’s our reflection upon our experience.””
Reflection isn’t my natural posture and it takes a bit of work and time on my behalf, but it’s always eye-opening, encouraging and often amusing.
You may see yourself in here somewhere along the way or be encouraged to look back at what the autumn has shown you. You may be surprised.
1. It’s better to run your own race.
This Thanksgiving we ran our local Turkey Trot fun run. Amongst the turkey hats, pilgrim costumes and tutu-clad runners I heard dad’s encouraging their sons to not worry about people passing them and mum’s explaining to young boys that yes, some girls do run faster than boys.
There were folks with abs of steel racing for a medal and those with dodgy knees walking slowly with friends. Everyone ran their own race and it made we wonder why I spend so much of my time trying to run someone else’s.
2. A promise, however small, is always worth keeping
If you’ve read my book Breathe Again you may have seen the note to my kids in the front promising to always have the flapjack tin ready, waiting and full. As James and Sophie flew in from college for Thanksgiving and headed straight for the tin, I was glad I’d kept my promise.
In case you’re wondering, an English flapjack isn’t a small panic but I delicious granola bar. You can make them at home, they’re super easy. Here’s the recipe.
The famous red flapjack tin – full!
3. You don’t need to feel grateful to be grateful
Until cancer kicked me in the butt (literally😜) I thought you had to feel thankful in order to be thankful, but that’s just not true. I wrote about it here if you want to discover how you can reap the benefits of a grateful life – increased well-being, reduced stress etc – even when life’s knocked the wind out of you and you’re struggling to find anything to be grateful for.
4. A me without tea is a me you don’t want to see
People ask me all the time if I drink tea, especially in the afternoon. The short answer is yes. And when within seconds of waking up and throughout the rest of the day.
On a recent trip I didn’t take my tea and I wasn’t the only one who suffered. Let’s just say, I’m a nicer Niki with tea! Good to know, right?
Evidence: Me + tea = HAPPY
(thanks @theChrissyWinchester for making me so good😜)
5. I’m more of a cheerleader than a pastor
Despite being a pastor’s wife I just don’t have a true pastor’s heart and I’m learning that’s okay. I simply don’t look at someone and see the pain and hurt within them and burn with compassion and a desire to nurture them to a better place. Nope. That’s not me.
My gifts lie on the other end of the spectrum and I’ve come to see they’re equally needed. I can cheer you on, encourage a group, teach up a storm and make you laugh, and that’s what brings me alive.
6. Linking arms is the way to go
I’m part of an online writing community called HopeWriters and at their recent conference Gary Moreland, one of the founders, talked about linking arms and how we need each other no matter the endeavor we undertake, but especially in writing.
With go-it-alone tendencies I’m learning once again that thriving at anything – life or writing – is a team sport and no one wins alone, AND it’s way more fun that way.
Here’s me with the HopeWriter founders; Gary Moreland, Emily P Freeman, and Brian Dixon
7. I love large groups
I come alive when I speak to large groups. I mean ALIVE!!! I just love it. The bigger the better.
Until recently I thought this was a flaw – a desire for fame or acknowledgement that I should squash – but then two different people whose wisdom, discernment and council I trust said otherwise. They encouraged me to own it and step into it as part of my make up and who God created me to be.
So I am.
8. Emotions are tiring things
A number of people dear to me are grieving deeply at the moment and I’ve seen a fresh how tiring grief can be. I wish I’d given myself more grace as I navigated my own grief and cancer.
9. The Crown is fun but not 100% factual
We’re loving the new season of the Netflix show The Crown, about Queen Elizabeth II and the royal family but we’re having to remind ourselves it’s not a documentary or reality TV.
It’s easy to get so engrossed that the actors become the royal family and we, the audience, are getting a fly on the wall insight into their actual conversations and actions. Nope. It’s based on fact but is not totally accurate.
10. I like weather that knows what it’s doing
Weather should be decisive in my opinion. Here in NC we’ve had days that are gloriously sunny and chilly and others whose continuous downpour has sent us racing inside for warm soup and blankets. I like weather like this that knows who it is.
Weather that can’t make up it’s mind if it’s balmy or blizzarding drivers me bonkers. It’s just the way I am but I still love the anonymous poem my mother would say no matter what nonsense was happening to the forecast.
Whether the weather be hot.
Whether the weather be cold.
We’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.
I’d love to send you a couple of FREE chapters of my book Breathe Again: How to Live Well When Life Falls Apart.
It’s a road map for thriving, not just surviving, no matter what life throws at you and is or anyone whose life has fallen apart, either over night or slowly over time.
If you need a no nonsense, down-to-earth practical friend who’s been where you are, who’ll help you dig for the rubies buried in the rubble on your life, this is the book for you.
It’s not a quick fix, “how to keep going” kind of book. It’s a road map to finding all God has for you, right in the middle of all life’s thrown at you. Just click the orange button and I’ll send you the first chapter and intro so you can begin to breathe again right this minute.
“This book offers real help and tangible hope.”
Sheila Walsh – cohost of Life Today and author of It’s Okay Not to Be Okay