A Thank You to our National Parks
When my husband and I were married (14 years ago this month), we set a goal to visit America's National Parks. We haven't made it too far into our list during those years (with hopefully plenty more years to visit). But, we have enjoyed the parks we've already visited and fortunately our family just added two more to the list. The three of us escaped to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks this past week. The weather was perfect and the trip was beautiful!
But, I really do mean it when I say escaped. Life here is wonderfully blessed but we've been so busy lately. Too busy. The busy things on the list are all good - well, mostly good. We try to take time to sit down and have meals together, talk to each other, and be active as a family. But, it seems like this summer has practically flown by and I realized that we've missed out on being present more than I would have liked.
Anyway, we unplugged and escaped and I also mean TRULY unplugged. There was no television, internet or cell phone service in most of the areas of these parks. You couldn't distract yourself with Tweets if you tried. And, I tried. Once I broke the habit of checking for service, I let out this huge sigh of relief. The pressure was off, I didn't have to keep up or know what everyone else was doing. I did not have to post images of my trip for the world to see (no one really cares about what I had for breakfast anyway, do they?) and I don't know why but I think I was afraid something was going to happen that I was not going to know about and then I realized the alternative. I realized I was momentarily failing at something (savoring and enjoying the journey) that I have turned into a calling. I realized I must slow down, relax, enjoy God's peace, and savor this trip. I needed to chill out. And guess what? The silence was beautiful.
Our family bought a deck of cards (of course I packed all the chargers for our electronics but didn't think about a deck of cards). I listened to my child. I was answered by my husband with his eyes (and not the top of his head as he caught up on the news from his tweets). We made up card games because I couldn't even access Google in order to find the proper "rules" for our card games and guess what? It was awesome!!
I admit this temptation because I realize like other addictions, they can easily take over if we let them (and surely I'm not the only one). Social media and communication is constant and I love it. Did I mention that I love it? I am a learner and a sharer and social media is a great tool.
But, I'm realizing at times I do allow it to suck the peace opportunities away from me. I let it distract me from life too much. I let it soak up golden opportunities for silence. Now, it is true I find moments of peace and encouragement on social media. I've connected with wonderful new friends and old friends alike thanks to social media. It is also true that I share moments of peace on social media. But, at the same time, those social media "highs" can distract me from life opportunities and they surely don't allow me to be still (if you click this link you'll see I wrote about being still before we left and I still missed the boat). If I am not careful, so much can take me away from true conversations and the stillness I crave. Note to self: the concept is to be still, not be still while I read tweets. So, I'm sorry if I've done that to you. Yellowstone and the Tetons didn't let me, they demanded the attention their scenery deserved and now I hope to carry those less-distracted adventures right back home with me. I hope to give God and others the attention they deserve. After all, God made your beauty too!
By the way, this isn't a new concept I'm on to. There are quite a few bloggers who ironically spend there time on social media talking about how they need to unplug from social media. I'm not harping on them for that irony. Rather, I'm thanking them for the reminders!
So, it's with more questions than answers that I return from a beautiful land out West in our country. We saw amazing animals, gorgeous scenery, and the pupils in each others eyes. I want to carry those moments back home, I don't want to miss God's beauty. I want us to break open the game cabinet, put away our distractions, and find peace in our living room.
Today I had a lunch date with our son and purposely did not take my phone out of my bag. And, our 9 year-old is also implementing a weekly mandatory game night and I think that's a great start for our family! Yet, I'm still tempted and know I have some work to do myself. I don't think I'm ready for the extreme like ditching my smart phone (although I resisted a long time and now I think I know why).
What are your thoughts or ideas? Anyone feel as vulnerable as me on this journey toward peace? Anyone out there as tempted as me to escape the to do list or the lines or the boring moments of life (and sometimes the good moments of life) with the latest newsfeed or photos? Anyone out there let the to do list rule the day instead of lunch moments and a deck of cards? Is it just me? Please tell me, it isn't just me!
So, thank you to our National Parks for not only the scenery, but for the encouragement to unplug and enjoy the grandeur of our earth with my family. It was great! I'm ready to live into this life more fully with my family each day, not just in our National Parks. Thank you also to a new friend whose book is loaded in my Kindle (to help motivate us not to let our adventurous trip fizzle away and claim those moments more regularly). And, I'm going to log off rather than get sucked in to whether or not you read or comment on this post (although if you do, that would make logging back on a lot more fun). After-all, I realize blogging is not what life is all about. Life is about savoring these moments together before they slip away. It just so happens that for me, blogging about these moments, helps me process and savor them a while longer.
Dear Carol. You're on to something. This isn't about peddling Capri pants or selling sweaters...although I really like my soft new poppy cardigan. -> And, I am not sure if you let anyone else in on your secret…but I am on to you.
For so long it felt wrong. Some women don't have shoes. Why should I get the luxury of beautiful clothes? I know now that it really isn't about the clothes (even though they are beautiful). It's bigger than that and if makes me love you and your business even more.
This is going to start with a big admission; it must in order for the rest of this post to make sense. During most of my life, I've cared too much about what people think of me. I wish I hadn't felt this way since I could walk, but I have. It's just a trait but I’m learning to see it in a positive way instead of a negative way. And, I'm learning to not care about what others think or see but only what God sees.
I've been journeying with God and myself for years to find peace with me and only me. I've got to be at peace with who I am and whose I am. I am more confident in this peace internally and yet (because I am a human being), I have continued to struggle externally. We all have baggage and I remember the jokes about my outward pale appearance as a kid (I'm a survivor of melanoma now, so pale comes with a victory label these days). I honestly wish I hadn't cared what others thought about me for all those years. All I ever wanted was to be comfortable in my own skin.
Anyway, one area I've not ever felt confident in (continuing into adulthood) is "dressing up." I have mastered the outdoor look (my family loves to hike, camp, etc.), I love my workout clothes (yoga is the best pastime ever), casual wear is very popular at the non-profits where I spend much of my time and I can rock pajamas until noon (freelancing from home part-time does have perks).
The mission congregation I serve puts me in an environment that doesn't allow some to buy groceries, let alone buy new clothes. In the past, it felt silly and very #firstworld to get excited about new clothes. But, I realized when journeying with many of my friends who don't have much at all that it wasn't even about looking beautiful, it was about feeling beautiful. Fortunately for me, God brought a little peace to my closet a few years ago, peace that helped me feel beautiful. I met my friend Heather who taught me all about your line, she helped me feel so much more confident in my own style. She taught me that I didn't have to lose my comfortable style to feel dressed up and presentable. She helped me realize that I could combine my love for thrift store bargains with some amazing pieces from CAbi. She even gave me permission to not stress over shoes so I began pairing my outfits with my beloved Birkenstock shoes and easy to slip-on TOMS. Up until this point in my life, I'd always thought, "oh well, I can't wear that, I don't have the right shoes."
You see, there are reasons I don't have lots of shoe choices. And, that ties back to a stroke that affected my gait in my early 30s. But, that no longer holds me back as much as it once did (I completed a half-marathon and two sprint triathlons last year to celebrate - YAY!). I think I just like to keep things simple and let's be honest - heels really intimidate me! I've never felt confident in anything that requires physical grace. But, I can now feel beautiful in my flats and my tennis shoes. Anyway, I have had so much fun getting to know CAbi and myself and coming to peace with my wardrobe. Since discovering CAbi, I've had two friends join the team, Stephanie and Mishalene. I love cheering them on and spreading my love for this great line of clothes (uh, I mean cause) that has done much more for me than add to my closet.
Anyway, back to my point of this post to you! I recently found out the night before an event I was to attend that I wouldn't just be fading into the background and helping, but would be part of the agenda and on the stage. And, no one cares what I wear nor would they remember but I panicked for a moment and then remembered I had you in my closet. Before CAbi, an absolute meltdown could have ensued. However, this time, I already knew what I'd be wearing and not because I have a huge wardrobe. I just didn't stress it, I had peace with me and peace in my own skin. That's what you're offering women - the confidence, beauty, and peace to be themselves.
I've begun cleaning out a closet full of "trying to fit in" clothes and now simply fill it up with "what's me." My spiritual journey of finding out who I am has been happening for several years. And, the physical journey is evolving as well. So, consider this what you will - a "fashion testimony" of sorts. I am thanking my friends Heather, Stephanie and Mishalene for helping other women become comfortable in their own skin, find their style, and be confident in who God made them to be. Even if doing so is while wearing a pair of canvas shoes that do more for others than they do for my arches.
After all, it isn't really what I wear, it is how I wear it (and that's your secret). CAbi has taught me that whether my clothes are hand-me-downs or top of the line fit from a designer like you, it's the lessons I've learned that are important. I am becoming comfortable in my own skin, both inside and out. And, your CAbi girls have been a part of that evolution! Keep on giving back to women please, Carol. Keep investing in them through your foundation, through your opportunity for income, success and business, for fun and fellowship with other women, but mostly for helping women like me feel like the beautiful person that God made each of us to be (no matter what we're wearing).
Whitney R. Simpson
yoga & meditation teacher
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Whitney R. Simpson
Exploring Peace Ministries, LLC