For a Heart Blessed with the Sound of Music

At the beginning of the year, I crossed another item off my bucket list—well, sort of.  I’m a big fan of the film The Sound of Music.  My actual bucket list item would be to take the Sound of Music tour in Salzburg, Austria, where the movie was filmed 50 years ago.  But since that is fairly unlikely, I did the next best thing. I attended a Sound of Music Sing-A-Long at the 5th Avenue Theater in Seattle on New Year’s weekend.

Sound of Music MarqueeWhat is a Sound of Music Sing-A-Long?

I first heard about this event from the special features section of my Sound of Music DVD.  They showed a sing-a-long at the Hollywood Bowl in California.  People dressed in costumes and participated in various sing-a-long theatrics while the movie was showing (similar to what is done for The Rocky Horror Picture Show).  It was a comical idea, but I didn’t think I’d ever actually go to one.

Then last fall when I wrote The Little Girl Inside, a post about the significance of the Sound of Music to me and how it intersected with my trip to Spain, I searched for the sing-a-long event online.  I filed the Seattle event away mentally, not sure if I could free up the time over the holidays or who would want to attend.

As the days quickly passed toward the New Year’s weekend, I vacillated between going by myself, inviting others, and not going at all.  I ended up going by myself, and I’m so glad I did.  I didn’t quite know what to expect at the event.  I was having a rough time emotionally over the holidays and didn’t know how I would react to the production.  I wanted to experience it privately, so to speak—or at least to be anonymous in the crowd of strangers.  It was such a memorable event in so many ways.

What happened at the Sing-A-Long?

When I arrived at the theater, I immediately saw people dressed up for the costume contest. Thankfully they were in the minority.  There were nuns, people dressed in lederhosen, children dressed as the Von Trapp family, etc.  The contest preceded the movie.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before the movie started an announcer appeared on stage to give us instructions on how to use the goody bag items during the movie.  This was not a passive movie-going experience.  And you weren’t expected to just sing, you were to interact with the movie at prescribed times as well.

The announcer and his assistants demonstrate gestures for “Do, Re, Mi”.

The announcer and his assistants demonstrate gestures for “Do, Re, Mi”.

Other interactive ways we participated were when specific characters appeared on the screen:

  • For Maria, we cheered.
  • For the Nazi’s, we booed.
  • For Rolf, the love interest of Liesl, we barked like a dog, “ruff, ruff”.
  • For Baroness von Schraeder, we hissed.

And every once in a while someone in the audience would shout out a humorous remark. There were other ways that we interacted with the movie as well, but I won’t spoil it for others who may opt to go in the future, which I highly recommend doing.

Props from the goody bag: a swatch of curtain fabric, Edelweiss,
an invitation to the ball, a party popper for the ‘big kiss’, and flash cards.

On a More Serious Note

For me the best part of the event was the opening scene of the movie.  It started out with the announcer making comical comments and shouting to Maria, but his antics were quickly overshadowed by the grandeur of the movie.

The movie opens with the camera panning over breathtaking views of the Alps and Salzburg, Austria.  It eventually zooms in on Maria, played by Julie Andrews, coming up over the crest of a hill onto a grassy knoll.  The instrumental prelude for “The Sound of Music” main theme song is building in the background when Maria bursts out singing with her arms stretched wide:

“The Hills are alive with the sound of music,
With songs they have sung for a thousand years,
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music,
My heart wants to sing every song it hears…

…I go to the hills when my heart is lonely,
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before,
My heart with be blessed with the sound of music,
And I’ll sing once more.”
© 1959 Rogers & Hammerstein

I was lost in the moment as the song naturally flowed from my lips in perfect sync with Julie Andrews’ glorious voice, and the voices of over 2000 other enthusiastic movie fans.  A few tears were shed as I was overtaken by the magic and emotion of this sentimental memory from my childhood.  At the end of the song, the theater burst into applause, which they did after every song just like it was a live performance.

If you’ve never seen the movie, or you want to experience the opening scene from a sing-a-long perspective, watch this short video.

The lyrics were highlighted word by word for each song in the movie.

The lyrics were highlighted word by word for each song in the movie.

Singing Once More

A buried part of me came alive when my mother passed away three years ago; and music was a part of that awakening.  I encourage you to find the hidden treasures that are buried within you as well—the little creative things that give you joy.  When you do, embrace it as a special part of who you are.  And maybe like me, you’ll sing once more.

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

The Denial of ADD/ADHD

Today’s blog post is especially hard for me to publish.  I wrote it over a week ago, but was too nervous about publishing it.  Then yesterday I sat down to write again and ended up with another post related to the same thing, but with a different twist.  God is telling me I need to get this out.  If you have ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), you will perfectly understand my hesitancy.  If not, maybe you can gain better insight about someone you know who has it.  So here goes…

In the 2+ years that I’ve been blogging I have only referenced my ADD in two posts, Living in a State of Overwhelm and Using Our Weaknesses.  Since writing those posts in the fall of 2012, I’ve pretty much continued to white-knuckle my ADD.  After all, I’ve had it all my life, but I haven’t always known it.

Definition of insanityTrying Something Different

When I re-entered the therapeutic process last fall, my ADD kept coming up as a major reason behind many of my behaviors and thought patterns.  It was pretty eye-opening to me.  Then, as I watched my son, who also has ADD and does not take medication, grapple with another challenging year in high school, we jointly decided to give medication a try.

So what’s the big deal?  People take medication for ADD all the time.  When you live in the shadows of a mentally ill parent like I did with my mother, it influences what you think about the mental health profession and specifically about mind altering medication.  The thought of taking medication for ADD hit too close to home for me.

I watched from an early age how my mother was dependent on medication.  I watched her deterioration, her delusions, and her impulsive behavior.  It scared me and scarred me.  I did everything I could all my life to prove that I was not like my mother, going so far as to stuff my emotions and hide who I really was.

Times have changed; and the stigma over mental illness has slowly diminished in America. Besides that, ADD is a neurological disorder, not a psychiatric one.  My ADD and my black and white thinking clouded my judgment on that too.

Full circle quoteComing Full Circle

When I entered recovery ten years ago I used Biblical principles and the 12 Steps of Celebrate Recovery (CR) to help me address many of my compulsive (ADD) behaviors and related character defects.  However, I didn’t know I had ADD at the time.  While attending CR, I was also attending deep healing classes.  I still couldn’t really look at my mother wound.

It wasn’t until the passing of my mother in February 2011 that all of that changed.  That was the basis and impetus behind writing “Walking My Mother Home” published in Journeys to Mother Love.  If you’ve read my story, you know that God gave me miraculous emotional healing and huge revelations in my identity.  He gave me the boldness to share my story and to start writing.  But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Now in 2014, three years after those revelations and ten years after starting my recovery, I am coming full circle.  It took a long time, but God had to put all the pieces into place for me to even consider trying something different—like medication.  In the process, I get to model it for my son and support him in his struggle.

We both started taking ADD medication over the holidays.  So far, I am very hopeful.  Even without changing anything else in my life, I’ve noticed differences in my mental acuity and don’t feel so anxious and overwhelmed.  With these simple changes, I have already changed my perspective on the value of medication for ADD.

hope for the new yearHope in the New Year

Living in denial and white-knuckling it just didn’t work for me.  It doesn’t work for anyone—whatever their hurt, habit or life-long struggle.  Step 1 in Celebrate Recovery reads:  “We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors, that our lives had become unmanageable.”

Yes, my life has been unmanageable largely due to my ADD for a long time.  So in 2014, I am choosing to apply recovery principles and the 12 Steps to this area of my life.  In so doing, I am moving toward a deeper understanding of myself, and growing in Christ.  I have much Hope in 2014.

What about you?  What are you doing in 2014 that gives you hope?

Living in the Shadow of Mental Illness

It’s no secret that my mother was mentally ill—not now anyway.  I’ve written about it on my blog and was the basis for my published story in Journeys to Mother Love (Cladach Publishing).  Chapter 8 in the Table of Contents reads: Distanced by Mental Illness, Walking my Mother Home, by Ardis A. Nelson.  There it is; my lifelong struggle in black and white on the page for all to see.

Chapter 8 is my story.

Chapter 8 is my story.

I’ve heard from many people how they resonated with my story.  It is usually in regards to how they are caring for a loved one at the end of life or it touches an accord with those whose parent has died.  It gives them hope and encouragement for the journey no matter how recent or faraway the experience was.

Distancing Myself

My story isn’t just about how I re-established contact and cared for my mentally ill mother at the end of her life though.  The bigger story is how I distanced myself from getting to know myself as well.  At 53 years old, it is what I am still working through.  It is the theme of the memoir that I hope to someday have published.

The Bible tells us in Matthew 10:38 that as followers of Christ we all have a cross to bear.  My cross seems to be the legacy that I have of living in the shadows of a mother who had mental illness.  Even though I had amazing healing when my mother died (as mentioned in my published story), I can still revert to my negative way of thinking and seeing things through the filter of mental illness in my family.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Many people live in the shadow of mental illness.  They were raised in a family with a parent who was mentally ill.  Or maybe they grew up hearing stories about crazy Aunt Sue or Uncle Joe.  I know I did; and it wasn’t just about my mother, but others in the family as well.

When I was growing up there was a huge stigma attached to mental illness.  There were barbaric practices perpetuated on mental patients—witness the movie, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” from 1975.

Jack Nicholson's character receiving shock therapy, a barbaric practice, in "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."

Jack Nicholson’s character receiving shock therapy, a barbaric practice, in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

I saw that movie in the theater when I was 15.  The movie hit way to close to home as my mother was in and out of mental hospitals and had shock therapy when I was in elementary school.  Watching that movie scared me and maybe even scarred me emotionally.

Last November when I started work on my memoir as part of National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo, I watched that movie again for the first time in over 30 years.  It wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be, but I think that was because I watched it more for historical reasons and for context in my memoir writing.  In other words, I detached myself from my emotions.  I thank God that wasn’t my fate.

Emotional Highs and Lows

At this stage of life with hormones raging out of control, it is hard at times to not let that dark cloud and fear of mental illness grab a hold of me.  It seemed to hit me particularly hard after my time in Spain.  It’s no wonder.

The movie is still playing, although at times it may feel like it's over.

The movie is still playing, although at times it may feel like it’s over.

I’ve been on an emotional high the last few years as I stepped into the world of publishing as a first time author, launched Pedro’s professional music career, and prepared for my trip to Spain.  It has often felt like a dream to me—or as I’ve openly expressed—like a movie with Pedro’s music as the soundtrack.

Three months after my return home, I’ve finally re-adjusted to life in America.  As I slowed down and re-focused my attention on my own self-care, at times it felt like the credits scrolled by on the screen and the music stopped playing.  Just like in the theater, all that was left was the mess on the floor to clean up—most notably a body that was exhausted and sometimes depressed.

Rejecting the Lie

I’m discovering some profound things about myself as I work through this next layer of healing.   I know it is what God is requiring from me so that He can more fully use me for His bigger purpose.  As I do, I am clinging to my identity in Christ and not some worn out lie or stigma.

Are you believing a lie from your past?  Who will you believe—our heavenly Father who loves you, or the Evil One, the thief and father of all lies?  What are you doing to flip the switch in your thinking? 

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10, NIV)

In the Blink of an Eye

Three months ago when I stepped on Spanish soil, I had to make many decisions about how to live in that country. I had to quickly adapt without the benefit of having my American family or friends with me. I chose to fully immerse myself in everything Spain.

I put aside my allergen sensitive diet and ate most everything I was offered. At first I didn’t notice any dramatic symptoms. I was fighting the heat, dehydration, and jet lag. I guess I was dealing with culture shock as well, but didn’t realize it at the time.

“You made it to Spain! You are experiencing the trip of your life. Don’t miss a second of it.” Those were the words that kept me going. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Push, push, push. “It’s only six weeks,” I reminded myself. All the while that I partook, my body registered everything that was happening.

My trip of a lifetime, seeing sights like the Roman aqueduct from the 1st century, Segovia, Spain.

My trip of a lifetime, seeing sights like the Roman aqueduct from the 1st century, Segovia, Spain.

Now That I’m Home

I returned home from Spain in early August and was again dealing with adjustments back to my American lifestyle and diet. But after the first few weeks, I didn’t bounce back to my old normal self. I knew something was physically wrong. A trip to the naturopath confirmed what I suspected. My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) was in relapse.

I’ve been here before. I know it is a slow process to get back up and running to a normal pace—one that includes lots of self-care, body work, and giving myself grace to not push so hard. I have no regrets. It just goes to show that you never know when or how things can suddenly change in your life.

Back in Spain

Case in point, a few weeks after I left Spain, Rafa, Pedro’s father, had a stroke. It came as a big shock to me and, of course, to their entire family. Thankfully Rafa got treatment right away. He is doing much better and a full recovery is expected.

Queen for a day, with Rafa as my escort at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Queen for a day, with Rafa as my escort at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Naturally it took me back to the fears I had after my mother’s stroke. She never regained her speech or use of the right side of her body. It also felt like déjà vu to me as I lit a candle in the Catholic Church for Rafa and fervently prayed for this family. My heart ached for Rosa again, and for the burden that fell upon the family while still caretaking for Perico, Rosa’s father.

On the bright side, I was so grateful to have personally met Rafa before this happened. I was thankful for the many special times I had with this family, and Rafa in particular.

Rafa was a wonderful host and tour guide while on my travels throughout Spain. He is an avid shutterbug like me and took lots of great photos of my trip.  He was also my protector in many ways—even going so far as to escort me one Sunday morning on the subway so I could attend a Protestant Church service. I am thankful for his generosity to me and am praying for his continued recovery.

GOD-NEVER-BLINKSIn the Blink of an Eye

A few years ago, I used to have a tag line as part of my email signature block that read: Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks. (Regina Brett) It was a little reminder to trust God when things didn’t go as I expected.

Nothing surprises God. He knows what lies ahead for us. It is up to us how we are going to respond to it.

As I am coming out of denial and learning to accept what I did to my body again, I am believing in God’s promises and clinging to the hope that He offers. His words to me, and others who are hurting in physical and emotional ways, are from a familiar Bible verse: “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

I can blink without worry because my hope is in the Lord.

España Update 2 ~ Adjusting to Life in Spain

Writing doesn’t come easy in Spain.  In fact, it seems that not much of anything comes easy for me here.  That isn’t at all an indictment of the family I am staying with or the Spanish life.  It is just an indication of how different everything has been for me to adjust too.

Grateful to be reading chapter upon chapter of this part of the world.

Grateful to be reading chapter upon chapter of this part of the world.

Sure I am having the time of my life.  I am seeing amazing historical and religious sites.  I am living with a family that I adore.  But with a mid-life body, an American way of life that is entrenched in me, and having a 5,300-mile and a nine-hour time difference between friends and family, it has been hard to adapt.

I have come to realize that there are so many things that we take for granted in the US.  We don’t think about how different everyday life is in other parts of the world.

Most Americans don’t get an opportunity to experience living in a foreign country.  Those that do are generally doing it through a work requirement, a missionary trip or as part of an educational exchange program.

In light of that, I thought it would be of interest to share some of the adjustments I had to make to live in Spain and a few differences between our two countries.

Mediterranean Food

One of the biggest adjustments for me has been the food.  A few months prior to my trip, I made radical changes in my diet to get healthier—doing a cleanse and eliminating allergens like wheat and milk.  I was amazed at how much better I felt.  I knew it would be difficult to maintain this new diet, especially since bread (pan) is such an integral part of the Spanish diet.  The first few days I declined the bread, but that didn’t last.

Drinking gazpacho, a chilled tomato based soup.

Drinking gazpacho, a chilled tomato based soup.

Now I am embracing and experiencing all of the Mediterranean food I can, eating things I’d never dream of trying in America.  I have many favorites including some that Pedro prepared for us in his previous stays in our home, like gazpacho.  My food adventures will be fodder for another full blog post though.  İEs muy delicioso!

It’s Hot in Spain!

Another radical adjustment for me has been adapting to the heat.  Thankfully I leave for the Balearic Islands and cooler temperatures in two days.

The first week of my trip, the temperatures were in the 90s.  Pedro’s family kept telling me how lucky I was to be here with the cooler temperatures.  Last week, the mercury in the thermometer rose past 100 degrees and has remained there most days.  (I’ve also had to adjust to Celsius versus Fahrenheit temperature readings.)

Hace calor! 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

Hace calor! 104 degrees Fahrenheit.

For me, it hasn’t been just a matter of adjusting to the heat, it has also been staying hydrated.  We have been out sightseeing almost every day.  I finally wised up to carrying a bottle of water (aqua) with me whenever I leave the flat.  By the time lunch rolls around at 2PM—another adjustment—a chilled beer (cerveza) or glass of summer wine (tinto de verano) is in order to quench my thirst.

Unlike America, air conditioning isn’t as available–including the cathedrals and monuments I’ve visited.  At night I sleep with the windows open and a ceiling fan running—the same as I would at home in Seattle.  A shower doesn’t seem to help during the day either as I’m sweating as soon as I dry off.

Avoiding the Heat

One way women keep refreshed in the heat is by carrying a fan (abanico).  I carry my fan with me everywhere I go, a gift from Rosa a few years ago.  I’d probably stand out like a sore thumb in the States if I used it, but here, it is a common site.

The best way to avoid the heat though is by taking a traditional siesta (afternoon nap).  The siesta doesn’t necessary require sleeping, but is used to relax in other ways as well, to read the paper, watch a movie, etc.  It is a way of slowing down and not doing activity during the heat of the day.

Abanicos in a Spanish shop window

Abanicos in a Spanish shop window

Most shops even close a few hours in the afternoon due to siesta.  Only tourists and those unfamiliar with Spanish custom would dare be out in the streets at that time of the day.  I love siesta and how recharged I feel when I awake.

Hopefully that gives you a feel for some of the differences.  Stay tuned for more information about the Spanish lifestyle and sights of this amazing country–my home away from home for three more weeks.

~ If this is your first time visiting my blog, you can start reading about my Spanish travels here.

The Road to Spain, Update 4 ~ Mental Readiness

As the countdown calendar on my blog has turned to days (28 as of today) until I arrive in Spain, I feel the pressure mounting to get things done.  I have struggled with an internal battle in my mind—highs and lows—that leave me emotionally exhausted and stressed.

Immersing in the language

Immersing in the language

I suppose it’s only natural considering that I’m short on funds for the trip, wrapping up a challenging high school transition year for my son, and making decisions for a major remodel project on our home that will take place while I’m gone.  It has been hard to put all of that aside and cling to the joy that awaits me in Spain.

Over these last several months, the Lord has stripped me of so many expectations.  It started with the cancellation of a side trip to France to share my testimony.  Then there was the letting go of my desire to speak in Spain.  Last week I had another reality check when I realized that the Spanish Ebook for “Walking My Mother Home” won’t be ready in time.

As painful as those realizations have been, letting go of those expectations is allowing me to focus more on preparing my body, mind, and spirit for the trip.  (See my last Spain update for how I am preparing my body.)

Immersing in the country

Immersing in the country

Immersing my Mind

The biggest task to preparing mentally is to learn Spanish.  Although I took two years of Spanish in high school (way too many years ago), I knew re-learning would be difficult.  I hate having to rely so heavily on this family being my constant translator.  (Lo siento, Pedro.)  Besides that, the last week of my trip I’m on my own.  Regardless of how much I learn by June 24th, I am hoping that being immersed in the language and culture for six weeks will allow the language to just sink in to some degree.

I’ve also been immersing myself in the music, and reading about Spain in my spare time.  My love of Spanish music started three years ago after a gift of CDs from Pedro’s family.  My family has long since tired of hearing them, but not me.  I can almost sing the lyrics myself, but I have no idea what they mean.

Immersing in the music

Immersing in the music

Another way I am preparing for this trip is to de-clutter my mind.  I turned off the audible email alerts on my smart phone.  Unfortunately, I noticed I had an unnerving habit of checking my phone for messages.  (Can anyone relate to that?)  So last week, I unsubscribed to virtually every email list that I was on.  I was shocked to see that I had over 50 bloggers and marketing companies bombarding me with email.

The last piece of immersion I will do over the next few weeks is to re-read parts of my journal and emails during the time that Rosa and I first started to communicate.  I want to be in a frame of mind that makes those memories easy to access so Rosa and I can talk about it.  But if the story immersion doesn’t happen, I’ll need to let go of those expectations as well.

It’s a First!28 Days to Spain

This trip is the trip of a lifetime for me.  At times I fear it may be my only trip to Spain and try to pack in everything I can possibly think of to do or to prepare.  (My day job used to be as a project manager, by the way.)  Other times I am in such awe of how God has orchestrated this relationship and can’t imagine there not being future trips or a full-length book being published. That is the essence of the war that seems to be going on in my mind.

I know my mind will be at ease by the time I step off that plane.  My challenge for the next 28 days is to remember that regardless of whether or not there are future trips to Spain or what gets done in advance, there will never be the anticipation for my first trip to Spain or the first time I meet Rosa.  That is what I need to hold onto over the next four weeks.  That, and lots of prayer are the best defense for my mental readiness for Spain.

Going Down Memory Lane

As we sat at a Seattle waterfront restaurant watching the rain, clouds and sun fight for control of the views out the window, I marveled at the thought of the 19 years that had passed between my friend and me.  We didn’t look 19 years older, but the age of our children was reality enough to ensure we were not dreaming.

A blustery day on the Seattle waterfront

A blustery day on the Seattle waterfront

Two Peas in a Pod

Mildred and I met when I re-entered the workforce one year after the birth of my first child.  We have a very strange history together.

Our work history intersects at three different employers.  I was her supervisor at two of those employers.  At one point in time, I held a former position of hers and then later she held a former position of mine.  That speaks volumes in itself.  It is a testament to her character and her work ethic.

Nineteen years later, she has a nice retirement nest egg from her employer waiting for her; and I am just now finding my career niche—my writing.  Unlike most writers I know, I don’t have a day job to fall back on.   Some might say it is a luxurious lifestyle.  For me, it is part of my self-care program.

Mildred was eager to hear all about my upcoming trip to Spain.  As if to confirm why she was such a good employee—and how very like-minded we are—she immediately suggested having my story translated into Spanish.   I agreed and told her that I negotiated the foreign rights to my story with my publisher and that Pedro had already translated the manuscript.

Does time really heal all wounds?

Does time really heal all wounds?

Wounds of the Past

We caught up on talk about our kids and our parents—being in the sandwich generation.  We naturally ended up talking about work.  Many of my former colleagues and employees had retired or moved on to other organizations.  A few remained.

As we talked about work, the memories and people’s names started to drift back to my short-term memory—people she had even long since forgotten about.   Some of my memories were of painful events, like my demotion.  Except for one brief moment, I experienced no emotional pain in discussing it though.

They say that time heals all wounds.  I’m not sure who that ‘they’ is, but that is not something you’d ever hear in recovery circles.  If you don’t look at the painful wounds of the past, you bury them alive.  They will leak out in unhealthy ways when you least expect them—like in outbursts of anger, or can lead to physical symptoms like ulcers, etc.

In my case, I worked through my character defects that brought me to my knees at the hands of my boss.  I’m grateful for it, as it pointed me down the road to recovery, and eventually to Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-step program.

Memory LaneMoving Forward

Going down memory lane is a healthy practice—not for self-condemnation or holding on to resentments—but for healing.  The one painful memory that surfaced helped me to realize that I still have one last thing to clear up—an amends of sorts.

Even as Mildred and I reconnected we touched on the same thread between us—making sure we understood each other and to not take advantage of our friendship.  Her words served to encourage me, and likewise mine for her.

Another luncheon is over.  Another friendship is rekindled.  Another day is done.  All because of the connection my story is making in people’s hearts.

Maybe I do lead a life of luxury.  It’s not the kind of physical luxury or success that pays the bills.  It is the luxury of friendship.  That’s the best kind of riches to have.

Do you embrace opportunities to go down memory lane or avoid it like the plague?  I hope you’ll embrace it and free yourself from the pain of the past.

The Road to Spain, Update 3 ~ Physical Readiness

I often refer to my trip to Spain as a pilgrimage.  But what does that mean? defines a pilgrimage as a journey, especially a long one, made to some sacred place as an act of religious devotion.

My Pilgrimage

Why do I consider my trip a pilgrimage?  The connection I have to my Spanish family was influenced by events that were deeply personal and spiritual in nature (as referenced in Journeys to Mother Love).  It is on this trip that Rosa and I will personally meet face to face for the first time—three years after having hosted her son, Pedro, in our Seattle area home.

Santiago de Compostela, the final destination for "The Way of St. James", a pilgrimage in Northern Spain visited annually by 100,000 people.

Santiago de Compostela, the final destination for “The Way of St. James”, a pilgrimage in Northern Spain visited annually by 100,000 people.

How do you prepare for a 6-week pilgrimage 5,300 miles across the globe?  It is not that much different than preparing for a marathon or any long-term goal, by pacing yourself over time and with lots of discipline.

My goal is to be ready physically, mentally, and spiritually to meet the demands of this trip.  When I think of my trip and preparation in this context, the scripture that most readily comes to mind is Romans 12:1-2, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.  Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (NIV)

Getting Healthy

Body, mind and spirit—even in my normal everyday life I struggle with keeping a balance between these areas, so I knew this would be a challenge for me.  My first area to tackle was getting my body physically fit for the trip.

I’ve been making changes to my lifestyle in phases.  Phase 1 was to get my body clock back on a more normal circadian rhythm.  That basically meant I switched from working second shift to first shift.  (My most creative writing time is late at night.)  Phase 2 was to start a daily video workout routine, Slim In 6, at home.

A simple step-by-step approach to weight loss and heathy eating.

A simple step-by-step approach to weight loss and heathy eating.

The next layer of fitness, Phase 3, was to change my eating habits.  I heard about the AdvoCare 24-Day Challenge (cleanse and weight loss program) through my friend, Linda Reed, who had great results.  She was so sold on the products that she signed up to be an AdvoCare distributor and fitness coach.

I had wanted to do a cleanse for several years.  However, it always sounded like such a difficult thing to do.  But this time I was highly motivated.  With Linda’s step by step coaching and encouragement, I completed the 24-Day Challenge last week.  I eliminated foods from my diet after years of trying to do it on my own.  I feel great and my energy level is much higher.

I won’t reveal my official results here (or yet), but suffice it to say, I am very pleased with the progress I’ve made in losing pounds and inches after five weeks of exercise and healthy eating.  I am continuing on with all of my new lifestyle changes at least until I leave for Spain.

The Temple of Our Bodies

The recent steps I’ve taken to prepare physically for my pilgrimage have reinforced my belief that my body really is a temple—a temple that houses the Holy Spirit.  I am making sacrifices to treat my body like one by making it a priority in my overall health.  The result not only affects my physical health, it is affecting my emotional well-being, although that is not what I intended to do.

40 daysI hope my physical preparations have inspired you to eat healthy too, and treat your body like a temple.  All it took was 24 days and an AdvoCare coach like Linda.

Now that I have Phases 1, 2 and 3 in place, I’m moving on to my next area of readiness—preparing my mind—with only 40 days to go.

Expectant Hope, Part 1 – California Dreamin’

The day started with expectant hope.  I had less than two hours of sleep yet I awoke feeling refreshed. When my head hit the pillow a few hours before, I prayed that no matter how many hours of sleep I had that I would feel refreshed.  Starting the day with answered prayer definitely put a spring in my step.  I showered, dressed and finished packing for my trip.  I arrived at my friend Linda’s house at 5 AM—a few minutes earlier than our appointed meeting time—more answered prayer.

Linda and I were heading to the San Francisco Bay area for a 4-day spiritual retreat, led by Tamara Buchan.  The days leading up to the retreat, I was stressed trying to handle the ever growing list of tasks to do before I left.  I couldn’t even get excited for the trip.  But once we got situated on the plane, I finally felt free to turn my undivided attention to this quality time with my friend.

I poured through the travel guide on things to do for our one-day pre-retreat adventure in San Francisco.  My one and only trip to San Francisco was over 20 years earlier and only a vague memory.  As I read through all of the sightseeing options, I was overwhelmed with all the possibilities.  We agreed on a few key sights—the cable cars, Fisherman’s Wharf, Ghirardelli Square, Lombard Street and a sightseeing cruise on the Bay.

Waiting in traffic for an hour and peering out over the Bay, I wondered about our photo opportunities with the haze that was looming in the distance.  By the time our boat left the dock, the sky was clear and the sun was shining.  As the boat approached the Golden Gate Bridge, the photo opportunities grew and grew.  With one camera and two cell phones, we snapped away—capturing the bridge from different angles.  It was a picture-perfect day on the Bay.  We weren’t even bothered by not being able to hear a word that the guide said over the loud speakers.  It was enough to just take in the beauty of the day and this place.

An unexpected pleasure, checking off a bucket list item in San Francisco.

An unexpected pleasure, checking off a bucket list item in San Francisco.

“Check”, I thought as we departed the boat.  I don’t have a physical bucket list (list of things to do before I die), but that would definitely be on it.  I’m not sure why, but I have always wanted to have my picture taken with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background.  It is iconic.  I was there before, but with no photo to prove it, the experience and memory had faded.  This was truly satisfying.

We ended the day with a leisurely late night dinner—sharing our hopes and dreams.  I needed this day.  I needed these reminders of the little things—basking in the beauty of God’s creation and man’s architectural wonders.  I have expectant hope.

Each day can be a bucket list kind of day.  It all depends on how we view it.  Do you view each day as a gift from God or as a painful reminder of what-ifs and what might’ve been?  I have expectant hope that He is going to use me in bigger ways this year.  I am nervous about it all—yet excited about the possibilities.

My trip to California is an investment in my self-care and to prepare me for the next steps toward the dream that God has put on my heart.  I’m stepping into more unknown territory with expectant hope.  I’m ready to see where God leads me and what I can check off my bucket list next—whether it be just living another day or traveling to Spain this summer.  I’m doing some California dreaming—and checking off an unexpected gift on my mental bucket list.

Have you done anything fun from your bucket list?  What was the last thing you checked off?

Goal Setting 101

As I worked on my 2013 goals, I had a sense that it is time for me to slow down.  But how can I do that?  I have a big year ahead of me.  I am traveling to Spain this summer for an extended stay. I need to continue my memoir writing to be prepared for my visit.  I need to study Spanish.  I need to promote my book so I can earn money for the trip.  I want to publically speak about how God turns our healing into hope.  I want to continue blogging.  While all of these things are good, I cannot do it all.  I need to trust that God is going to point me in the direction of what is most important.

Realistic Goal SettingGoal Setting

On my first pass at writing down my goals, I came up with a very long list of tangible and measureable things to get done this year.  I also came up with a list of areas in my life to improve on.  Right off the bat, I can admit that I’m not going to blog once a week like I planned (witness my first post of 2013 is dated January 12), get the number of Facebook ‘likes’ I want or sell the books I need to cover my trip.  (I’m not being pessimistic; I’m just realizing that I’m not going to push myself so much to make it happen.)

With the addition of my physical exhaustion over the last few weeks, I’ve been running around with a critical voice in my head.  It’s been telling me I shouldn’t have pushed so hard to write for NaNoWriMo, I shouldn’t be blogging, and worst of all, I shouldn’t go to Spain.  Ouch!  Where did that come from?  D-O-U-B-T!  It creeps in so insidiously—especially when you are exhausted.  And it’s a sign that I really do need to slow down and refocus on what God wants me to do.

In setting my goals for the year, I want to make sure that they align with His will for me.  I expect to continue blogging; I know I will work on my memoir, and I will most definitely be traveling to Spain.  But I am letting go of making measurable goals around them and trying to be hyper-vigilant about meeting them.  I have to be realistic about what my mind and body will allow.

Renew and Restore

Last month when I started to realize how burned out I really was, a friend and mentor, Tamara J Buchan, reminded me that without a season of rest, we lose our effectiveness.  That is exactly how it feels to me right now.  I need time to renew and restore physically, emotionally and spiritually.  In light of that I have made a positive decision to attend her “Reclaim the True You Identity Retreat” in a few weeks (based on her book).  It will be the perfect opportunity for me to get in touch with God’s direction for my life and this year in particular.  Identity Crisis Book

Goal Collaboration

I’m still a work in progress and trying to find the right balance for my life.  In the meantime, it helps me to be reminded of the following Proverbs (TNIV):

  • Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. (Proverbs 16:3)
  • In their hearts human beings plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
  • Many are the plans in a human heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. (Proverbs 19:21)

When I collaborate with God to set my goals for the year, I know this next season will be fruitful and that He will direct my path.  How about you?  What goals are you collaborating with God on for 2013?

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

  • Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

    Join 379 other subscribers
  • Recent Posts

  • Ardis A Nelson ~ Writer ~ Speaker

  • Most Popular Topics

    12 step adapting to change Celebrate Recovery celebrations Christianity encouragement faithful family following your dreams friendship gifts God God's timing gratitude grieving our losses healing hope identity Journeys to Mother Love leaving a legacy letting go music My Spanish Connection obedience Pedro Gonzalez Arbona prayer publishing relationships Rosa saying goodbye Spain spiritual journey struggle trusting God writing
  • What I Write About

  • Songs Composed by Pedro Gonzalez Arbona

  • Copyright Notice

    © Ardis A. Nelson and MakingMeBold, 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Ardis A. Nelson and MakingMeBold with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

%d bloggers like this: