As I was pondering the year 2019, I realized that I have not posted anything on here for an entire year. My most recent post was exactly a year ago today. I started to write a post a few different times throughout the year but nothing ever went further than part of a draft. I just could not get my brain to pull a post together. All of a sudden, over the past few days, my brain started cranking again so I thought I would attempt to put some thoughts on here. As I began this particular post, I realized that I only posted once in 2018 as well. I guess the past two years have been more experiential in processing what God is doing in my life. Much more living in the moment and reflecting with 20-20 hindsight.
This past year has held so much change for me in many places. As I began the year, I believed that my word was "serenity." Per the Cambridge Dictionary, the term "serenity" means the quality of being peaceful and calm. As I perused Scripture, serenity is often expressed as tranquil and/or peaceful. Looking back at the year, I can see where God has blessed me with this concept, even when I was in the middle of such great change and a ton of trauma and uncertainty. So much stirring that the evil one has often come completely unhinged in attempting to tear me down in my personal and professional life.
My year began while on a Christmas trip to my hometown area with my daughter, my best friend, and my best friend's parents. My parents and her parents have become friends through the 20 years of Patty and my friendship. Shortly before we headed there, Patty's mom began experiencing some significant nerve pain, causing an issue with her mobility and comfort. While we were in Savannah, my dad began not feeling well. Both of these situations caused a few small hiccups on our trip, however we all had a wonderful time together. I bring this up because, shortly into the new year and a brief time after our return home, my dad was found to have blood clots and serious heart blockages, requiring heart surgery and lifelong medication. Followed by that news, Patty's mom was discovered to have a rare type of cancer. These were definitely jolts to everyone. A note to ease things, both of them are fine. Dad is healing nicely and Patty's mom is done with chemo and we're claiming the cancer is gone. It's sure hard to hold onto peace when stuff like this is happening.
A week prior to our trip down south, I made a commitment to myself to get physically healthy. I began a nutrition plan 3-1/2 years ago that I continue using, then last year I challenged myself to start a workout program. After my own battle with cancer, watching my dad's health become it's own conflict, and Patty's mom struggling with pain and cancer, I chose to make getting myself healthy a priority. For the past year, I've completed 20-40 minute workouts near daily and feel so much better. Hiking has become much less of a challenge; I've been able to start lifting free weights; and can even do burpees without modifying. Most of the modifying I do now are due to arthritis in my hands and knees. My hope is that one day the arthritis will get with the program and let me do more intensity. Starting a workout program certainly brought up some serious struggles inside of me. If it were not for my best friend, my daughter, a friend who is also my coach, and a group of friends I met through this workout program, I would not have been steadfast in this area. I began to recognize my challenges and competitive nature. The idea of modifying moves was quite humbling. Not being able to do even modified moves is super frustrating. The faster the moves get and the more complicated, the more frustrated I can become. I nearly gave up several times, but I always picked it back up and am so glad I did. While my before/after photos don't show dramatic change through the year, my current photo compared with when I first started this journey definitely does. I'm actually pretty excited to see the change in another year. Somewhere along the line, the frustration and steadfastness have switched places and I have embraced serenity and this has become a part of my daily routine.
One of the struggles with working out involves lack of coordination. I jokingly (okay, only halfway joke) that I am unable to clap my hands and stomp my feet at the same time. Working out has historically been a problem for me due to this inability. A former friend was unfortunately witness to this frustration back in the day of aerobics classes. She witnessed either language that I am not proud of coming out of my mouth, or I would leave in the middle of a class in tears....Once she found me sitting in the sauna in a puddle of tears. I figured the tears would dry quickly while in there. This year, I volunteered to participate in our bi-annual Spring Tea at church. I told them I could sing and act.....so they assigned me to be part of the dances. We were dancing to several songs from the show "The Greatest Showman." I nearly quit that as well, due to tearful frustration. However my castmates and the choreographers convinced me to stay, even informing me that I have some "good lines" and can indeed learn to dance. I am still not so sure about that, but my serenity came from the involvement with the program. I hope the attendees were able to see many people in various shapes, sizes, ages, and abilities do the best we could and step out of our boxes.
In November, my best friend and I had the opportunity to celebrate our birthdays in Las Vegas while attending Donny and Marie Osmond's final show. Watching this show brought tears to my eyes as I do love performing. I always have. Dancing in the Spring Tea and then witnessing the performance in Vegas definitely refreshed my passion for performing. My hope is that one day I will find my place in that world.
As far as my business goes, there have been some conflicts in that arena. These conflicts have been primarily financial struggles while dealing with insurance companies. After six years of trying so hard to do business with them, I made a very difficult decision this year to discontinue my relationship with all of them. Their mission and mine have proven to not be aligned in any way. They have caused some pretty intensive financial difficulties this year so, effective January 1, 2020, I have chosen to become a fully out of pocket private practitioner. This was quite the ethical dilemma on my part, as I understand the importance and need for many people to depend on their insurance companies to pay for treatment. I have been in that arena for much of my life so I totally understand that. The peace came when I realized that this is due to the decisions of the insurance companies, not mine. I realized that, ethically, my decision to remove myself from underneath their methods of doing business was a better match for my practice. I get to finally do my work based on my client's needs and desires, not on insurance demands. This will certainly help as I navigate the world with clients who are struggling in their lives and/or marriages/relationships, when they are in crisis, when they are fighting to live, when I get to fight with them for them, when they request phone sessions or video sessions.
I also continue to teach Mental Health First Aid and Youth Mental Health First Aid classes. I hoped to be teaching these more frequently, however that has not grown to meet the need quite yet. This is an area that I will continue praying will grow. I have, however, been requested to do more speaking on Love Languages, Boundaries, and Mental Health. This is definitely a surprise to me. To be contacted out of the blue and asked to be a speaker, due to my knowledge, experience, and passion is quite humbling for sure.
Nearly two years ago, we sold our home and moved to a rural area near my office. We moved into a rental townhouse with the belief we may only live there for a short time. Throughout the past couple of years, we kept seeking homes, even believing one of them was to be our new home. As time moved on, I became convicted that we were not grateful for the gifts God had blessed us with. We were so busy looking forward to our new home, that we were losing sight of the gifts He had given us. Once I shifted that thought process, I began to feel increasingly peaceful and calm. Now we have been given new direction. Direction that I will share as we are given more specific details. I realized recently that I feel like a mix of Noah and Abram. Build the boat. Prepare for rain. Move when and where I instruct you to. We have some direction, however I am preparing as I am instructed, step by step.....and am attempting to maintain an attitude of gratitude all the while navigating the unknown. It has been interesting navigating the anxiety of big change while at the same time embracing serenity that God is in charge and will give clear directions when it is His timing.
While pondering all of these situations and experiences over the past year, I compare where I was at the start of this year to where I am now. I have learned to embrace serenity even in these challenges. When finances are tough; when I fear I may not be able to help my clients; when I wonder how I can find an in and educate the community how to help in this current suicide crisis; when I fear that I may make a fool of myself on stage in my speaking engagements, in singing, or even dancing; when I focus so much on getting healthy that I do something wrong and hurt myself; or even fear making big decisions in case I hear or interpret incorrectly. My job is to keep my focus and remember that fear is not of God.
"You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you." ~ Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
"But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace."
~ James 3:17-18 (ESV)
"And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." ~ Philippians 4:7 (ESV)
".....for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control."
~ 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)
I truly don't know what 2020 holds. What I do know is that this new decade will bring about some pretty significant changes in my life. I think it may be a good time to evaluate the last decade as I prepare for the next one. Hmmm......
all contents (c) 2019 Laura Inglis