Posted in Love Life

Confession of Wedding Dress Terror

Pretty sure this is THE ONE for me…eeeeek!

So in early January 2011, I had my first invitation ever to go wedding dress shopping with a friend. Woohoo! Fabulous! Can’t wait! Isn’t this every woman’s dream? To go wedding dress shopping? To imagine and dream of that one perfect day when she is a true princess, looks gorgeous no matter what.

Yeah, right.

Just a few minutes in the first shop, and I wanted out. While my friend tried on dresses (and I wrangled one of her two children), I walked around and looked at the dresses. At least, I tried. So many styles, colors, embellishments. It’s truly overwhelming…even more so for a woman (uhum, me) who hates shopping for clothes.

Nope, this is not the dress she picked for her vow renewal, though it was one of my favorites on her!

Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE to dress up and look good and be really stunning on occasion as well. But when faced with the pressure…heck, just the thought of the pressure…of finding that one perfect dress that will do all the right things and not even think of the wrong things for that one perfect dream day, well shit. That is definitely enough to turn this old, hardened realist into a coward.

And then the truth was forced out of me. I’d never even tried on a wedding dress. You know, like that episode of Friends where Monica, Rachel, and Phoebe all go get a $99 sale dress from Kleinfeld’s (when it was still on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge Brooklyn) and just hang around the apartment all day, pretending.

And then I made the mistake of posting said admission on FaceBook, which netted me a slew of commented, texted, and even called-in astonishments and dares.

And I can’t resist a dare.

So at the last store…David’s Bridal…yes, I tried on a dress. And damned if it isn’t THE ONE. Simple, fitted, with just a bit of bead embellishment on the top and straps. And best of all, it fit in my exact dress size, not the few sizes up that wedding apparel seems to run. And the bonus: under $500 regular price. Huh, not bad for a girl who started the day terrified of doing more than offering my opinion on the dresses my friend was trying on.

 

 

NOTE: I originally wrote this post on January 6, 2011 though I didn’t post it until January 31, 2020.

Posted in Being Healthy, Everyday Musings, God Loves Me!

Re-Discovering Self-Care

I started a new job six weeks ago. An amazing job. A dream job. An exciting job.

And in classic CeCe fashion, I’ve given it everything and more: 10 hour days, nights in front of the tv, weekends. I truly do love it and am enjoying the many ways I get to help others through this job.

Yet no matter how much I love it, it still wears me out…every day.

So last week when my co-leader caught me rubbing my eyes just after lunch, he started a campaign to send me home early, take some time off. Even if I hadn’t been working long days, I’d certainly accomplished well more than expected in a short time and had earned some extra self-care time.

So I left at noon on Friday only to realize I had absolutely no plan for self care. And it didn’t take me long to remember that when that question came up in my interviews, my co-leader had noticed…and noted…that I didn’t have a good answer for what I do for fun (self care).

So I gave myself permission to treat myself to some things I used to do regularly, a long time ago, that had somehow fallen off of my schedule:

  • massage – for the gift of touch, of meditation, of being present and focusing on the real needs of my physical body, of my acceptance that I can’t will away the tired when my body really needs rest
  • my favorite coffee – for the uniqueness, the spice, the warmth, the moment of earthiness with the first sip
  • my favorite handmade soap/shampoo/lotion store – for the indulgence, the expense, the luxury, and the promise of a bath rarely prepared
  • my favorite clothing store – for the self-expression through clothes that I’ve discovered only with age and acceptance of my body and my inner weird
  • my favorite rock – for the gift of stability, a place to sit, the elevation above the ground so I can see farther and more clearly whatever I’m looking at
  • my favorite church – for the blessing of my God, the comfort of a familiar place to worship, the words of prayer and absolution, the message I need to hear whether I like it or not, the safe place to cry it out in frustration, pleading, or thanksgiving
  • cooking – for myself to make intentional choices about how I feed my body and mind, for others to care for them
  • blogging – for sharing how my brain works things out, not always problems – more things that intrigue me, challenge me, seem important even when I don’t yet know why

Things I didn’t do that might also become part of my self care:

  • read a book or listen to a podcast – a devotion, a memoir, I think of this as something soul-feeding rather than mind-feeding, though certainly I’m happy for it to do both
  • hike a trail or waterfall – the mountains call to me, so that’s where I instinctively head for quiet time; and I wasn’t in the mountains this weekend
  • paddle a dragon boat on the lake (coming in spring)
  • meditate – something I’m trying out with a group starting 1/14

I have so many questions about what and how, all because I got out of the habit:

  • What do you do for self care that I might add to my try it out list?
  • What are you looking to achieve with self care?
  • What hasn’t worked for you, and why do you think it didn’t work?

I’d love to read what your self-care experiences have been.

 

 

Posted in Everyday Musings, leadership

2020 Bucket List

IMG_0613I’m a #theonething #the1thing follower. I read the book annually. I listen to the weekly podcast. It heads my 411.

I use the #411to plan success.

So what do I want to achieve in 2020? Here’s my #2020BucketList – and these are in importance order:

  1. find a church and faith community where I can continue growing
  2. celebrate my 45th birthday at Harry Potter World 10/31/2020 – with my nieces and anyone else who wants to join!
  3. add 5 states/countries to my list of places visited (get a map to start tracking and planning this; get a National Parks Passport): Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Spain – this covers 2 vacations this year
  4. go on one big hike each month (join a hiking group/meetup?)
  5. get my real estate license (for referrals, y’all!)
  6. write to the people who live in my house in Homer, AK to start working on buying my house
  7. pay off planned debt reduction (part of larger financial plan)
  8. save/grow at least $15K (part of larger financial plan)
  9. enjoy a full year’s subscription to Sparkle Hustle Grow – and the books and growth training included in that!
  10. design and get my fireweed tattoo

PS: my bucket list for work is different. How? It goes on a Growth Plan as my focus for each month – ways to ensure that I am constantly in a system review and quality improvement mindset.

Oh, and the best part: I give you permission to hold me accountable. To text me and ask where I am in accomplishing one or more of these goals. I mean, you read this far, so deserve that permission. Make it count!

Posted in Everyday Musings

Heart: Word of the Year 2020

I’ve never chosen a word for the year. In fact, for the past 8 years, my word has been chosen for me as I picked a star out of a basket on Epiphany Sunday at church. And now that I’m in a new place and a new job and headed down a new-ish path, I’m taking charge.

As of New Year’s Eve 12/31/2019, I had the following “short list” of words for 2020:

  • brilliant
  • rescue
  • feed
  • heart
  • love
  • present
  • be
  • abundance
  • joy
  • open
  • yes
  • answer

All of these words came from prayer and meditation on the classic word-choosing questions:

  • What did I enjoy receiving or giving in the last year?
  • What did I *need* more of?
  • What did I *want* more of?
  • What did I *not* want any of?

And then I gave myself one last night to sleep on it and my #firstdayhike to make my final choice. I’m still not quite sure if I chose it or it chose me. Either way, it was immediate and confirming, and I have no doubt this is my word for 2020.

IMG_0619The moment I saw the heart-shaped rock in my path, right where my footstep would naturally land, I stopped and picked it up. It was freezing cold, as I expected and hoped it would be; I love the way rocks hold cold and are cold even when the world around them is warm.

IMG_5207I held that rock in my palm the rest of my hike. It fits perfectly. And it’s pretty close to the same size as my heart rock from Homer, AK, though a completely different stone.

Why “heart,” you ask? Especially since I’m not particularly fond of the shape!

I’ve heard people – lots of people – tell me in the past year about how they can see my heart, that it’s a big heart, and a good heart. I think it’s a result of being authentic, and I want to be intentional about it – not accidental – because I truly don’t know what I’m doing, when I’m doing it, that shows my heart.

And I want to be intentional about helping others find ways to show their heart and to know their heart is seen and valued.

It sounds so simple when I put it like that. Simple, but not easy, right!?

So you’ll help me, yeah? Tell me when I’m doing it!

Posted in Everyday Musings

Why I Call Myself a Grinch – but I’m Not Really a Grinch

It’s like a switch that automatically turns me off as soon as the Advent 1 church service starts. All of the joy and excitement and celebration that suddenly becomes the center of everyone else’s life for four weeks to Christmas just falls right out of me. Dries up. Heck, runs away screaming.

Because of this, I’ve always called myself a Grinch, sometimes a Scrooge or a Humbug.

But dammit, I’m not. I’m none of those characters. I’m not mean or nasty or heartless. I don’t steal anyone else’s fun and cheer.

I don’t hate the holidays – the secular ones or the holy ones. I don’t hate the traditions, the gatherings, the food, the songs, the colors, the festivities.

But I’m an introvert. The holidays, and my reaction to them, is one of the few ways I know, truly know that my Myers-Briggs 1-point preference for introvertism is really true; seven other behavioral analysis, several repeated, confirm this. I know, it’s hard to believe of me, right?

“The holidays” are inherently a social phenomenon; they can’t happen without the tacit cooperation of groups – mostly large groups – of people, whether parade marchers or watchers, naughty and nice list comparisons, and the most basic present giving and receiving. Even more so, the religious foundation of holi-days is social, beginning with and culminating in a collection of the largest worship services of the year for most churches.

Think about it. There is not one single holiday tradition that carries a positive connotation and is experienced without engagement with others.

And for me – an introvert with a 6-person max – this is excruciating. Even if I’m mostly left to “wall-flower” (which is what I always secretly hope will happen), I watch the clock so that I can cut and run as soon as I’ve attended for a respectable amount of time.

And I do want to be respectful when I choose to attend; I never want to make a host/ess feel like s/he has done something to make me uncomfortable or unhappy. It’s why I choose quite carefully and deliberately when and how and with whom to engage during the holidays.

If I cow to expectations and attend, I’m often noticeably reserved, even if I have a drink. In fact, I willingly – actually cheerfully – volunteer to cook, serve, and especially clean up just so I have an easy excuse to just be rather than interact.

If I do what I want and RSVP regrets in favor of Die Hard and Home Alone marathons, I’m labeled a Grinch, a Scrooge, a Humbug by others.

It’s a Catch-22 of the purest variety.

Because I’m not a Grinch with a heart too small to love others. I’m not a Scrooge who’s been hurt by others and just wants to hurt people back. I’m not a Humbug out to squash others’ celebration. (While I do detest yard decorations with a passion, I’ve never once suggested that others stop decorating or take theirs down.)

But I don’t have any other cultural references to use when trying to simplify my discomfort with the norms of the holidays than to call myself a Grinch, a Scrooge, or a Humbug. They serve to convey that I don’t want to participate, certainly. But the edge of negativity they come with is something I’d like to figure out how to divest.

Posted in God Loves Me!, Singing

Overcoming Objections for Joining the Church Choir: They’re watching me!

Yep, they sure are! And you can watch them right back…hehe!

One of the most common objections church members cite as why they don’t want to join the choir – after not being “good enough” – is that everyone is looking at them through the whole service. Naturally, this objection is only relevant for churches where the choir sits up front and center-ish.

I get it. I was thinking about that today during church, specifically during the special music when a dear friend and I sang a duet. Yep, we accepted a request that put us in even more of a spotlight than when we sing as part of the larger choir group.

But what I get as the trade-off to being watched is such an exquisite blessing. You who sit in the congregation and never venture to the chancel (front) and turn to face the congregation never get to experience this. You’re just facing the wrong direction entirely and can’t.

Here are some of my favorite things to see each week that you don’t get to:

  • the smile on a congregant’s face when communion is carried to him/her – usually someone sitting pretty far back in the pews – and since we don’t usually turn around, few get to see the gratitude, the inclusion
  • the children when they return to the sanctuary during the Offertory or Doxology, their faces eagerly searching for mom and dad, hands grasping or heads wearing their Children’s Church creations
  • the people who know and love a hymn so well that they put their book down, look up and into my eyes, and smile as we share the joy of that song, those words, God’s love
  • the usher who brings a walker up the aisle at the end of the service to make post-service fellowship that much easier and more comfortable and safer to enjoy

Our choir boasts singers with asthma, allergies, limited ranges, melody-only skills, and we love them all. They sing to the Glory of God, and are blessed to witness each week the unnamed kindnesses and brilliant joys of others because we can see the whole congregation right back!

You can find me singing in the choir most Sundays at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, SC.

Posted in Children, God Loves Me!

Children’s Sermon on The Holy Spirit for Pentecost: Acts 2: 4

Scripture: Acts 2: 4

All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

Props: handheld fan, candle and light (if your church doesn’t light candles for service), cotton ball with essential oil, recording of strong wind

 

Do you know what special day this is? This is Pentecost Sunday. It’s the time when we remember that before Jesus returned to heaven, he promised that God would send a helper — the Holy Spirit — to live inside of those who follow him. He promised that the Holy Spirit would give them the power to do great and mighty things.

One day, after the Resurrection at Easter, the disciples were all together and they heard a sound from Heaven: a loud, powerful rushing wind. And a flame appeared – no candle or anything – and touched on each disciple. And the disciples felt a great power and immediately went out to preach – that’s what the power of the Holy Spirit helped them to do – to tell others about God and Jesus.

How do you think you can tell when the Holy Spirit is giving you the power and the urge to tell someone about God and Jesus? Let’s test our senses to see how many ways we can feel that mighty rushing wind of the Holy Spirit:

Can you feel the Holy Spirit? (use a battery-powered hand fan to blow on the children) Can you feel the wind like you’re at the beach or high in the mountains? YES! That’s the Holy Spirit making sure you know it’s there for you.

Can you taste the Holy Spirit? Hmmm, that’s a tough one, isn’t it. Wind doesn’t have a taste, but it we stick out tongues out when the wind blows, we do get another way to feel the wind and know the Holy Spirit is encouraging us.

Can you smell the Holy Spirit? (hold a cotton ball with essential oil in front of the fan to send a scent on the wind) Let’s try it: we already know we can feel the wind when it brushed past us, but the wind – the Holy Spirit – can also use smells to let us know how we can minister to others.

Can you hear the Holy Spirit? (cue Crystal to play the wind storm sound on the Clavinova) Wow, right! That’s a big mighty wind. That’s definitely the Holy Spirit when it really needs to get our attention, right!

Can you see the Holy Spirit? Take a look at the candles on the table. That’s the light of Christ we bring in each Sunday and we take out into the world each week. What makes that light move so that we can see it? YES! The Holy Spirit.

Our basic senses are how we feel and know that the Holy Spirit is with us and ready to help us to do what God asks us to do. This is what we are reminded of each year on the day of Pentecost: that when we know God and follow Jesus, we are filled with the Holy Spirit which gives us the power and the instructions to do wonderful and mighty things for God.

Let’s pray:

Heavenly Father, thank you for sending us the power of the Holy Spirit. Please fill us up each day with the Holy Spirit that we would have the power to live for Jesus and let His light shine in our lives. In Jesus’s name we pray. Amen.

Delivered on Sunday, June 4, 2017, at Palmetto Presbyterian Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC.