26 February 2007

Everything coming alive again...including me.

"The day the Lord created hope was probably the same day He created Spring."

You know those March days when the sun is shining so boldly that it doesn't seem to make sense how cool the air is? That's how it's been here the past few days. As Charles Dickens said, "It is summer in the light, and winter in the shade." My little piece of Texas can't seem to decide which season it wants to be.

Maybe it's just the cycle of the seasons and the first hints of spring, but I feel myself coming alive again. The past few weeks have been nurturing for me. I've really been pondering what it means to have the privilege of living. It's a great shift in thinking, because instead of feeling that I have to do this or that, I can now begin seeing it as something I'm blessed to experienced. I am not entitled to anything, really. I do not deserve encouraging relationships, a body that works, a family with parents who are still married, and a job that makes a difference.

One of the ways I've been learning to exercise this privilege is in talking to strangers. Because of a few things that happened in my childhood, I've always been fearful of opening up conversations with strangers. After trying it the past few weeks, I've shared a few moments of life with the most interesting people. Steven and I were at SMU last Sunday with Craig & Bonnie and their two dogs, Clyde & Tonus. We were playing baseball on the lawn and enjoying the heavenly 75 degrees. I spotted a gorgeous Australian Shepherd prancing around without a leash and then his owners, a middle-aged couple sitting on the edge of the fountain. I walked over to them and started petting their silky-soft and coifed puppy, whose name I learned was Jack. They were so friendly and if not for forcing myself to do it, I would have missed hearing about how much Jack is a part of their family and how much they also love Nikolini's, our favorite organic Greek restaurant in Dallas. The wife had a distinctive accent, so I asked her where she was from. Greece! So we talked about our love of the Mediterranean, our need for warm weather, wished each other a happy Sunday, and walked away smiling. I've also met a tattoo artist who was our waiter at Cafe Brazil and is opening up his own tattoo parlor and trying to figure out how to break up with his girlfriend. He gave our order a little extra love. Tonight while waiting for my to-go order at Peggy Sue's Barbeque, I laughed with a sporty-looking dad of two children (13 and 8) when he asked if I was an SMU student and was shocked to hear I was 29! The other day while shopping with Trish, we talked with our cashier at Kohl's who had just gotten in a fender-bender that day and needed to smile a little. It's amazing how someone can get a spark in their eyes when they feel someone else is interested in their life. It's fascinating to me to think about each person's history, what their days are like, and how our paths have crossed.

I've also been working on the privilege of using my body. There are people who would do anything to be able to walk right now, to just be able to use their legs. Yet, I grumble about working out and complain about the fat on my thighs. I'm sick of it. Time to start appreciating how I'm made.

Last Sunday, I had the most invorating workout I've had in years. After going to lunch after church at one of our favorite places, Zoe's Kitchen, and our previously mentioned stint at SMU, Steven, Craig, Bonnie, and I went to an area of Dallas called "The Village" where there are a bunch of apartment complexes and a park where all these young adults hang out on Sundays. We found a quieter area behind the clubhouse building, and Craig & Bonnie brought their kettlebells. I was a little hesitant to try them, but little did I know you could do an entire workout with just one piece of equipment, one of these little bells:

We did deck squats, lunges, swings, and I contorted my body in ways I never knew possible. There were even some moves that were similar to yoga, except holding a 12 lb. weight. I LOVED IT. Afterwards, I felt excited to be alive and encouraged to keep treating my body well.

But this week brought a whole new privilege: that of spending time with the close people in my life, while we still have today. It seems I've seen Steven with a fresh pair of eyes. As I come out of my shell, I'm noticing him even more. I look over at him doing the most ordinary of tasks and it makes me smile. I watch him cooking or working in the yard and know in my heart of hearts that he is the one man I want to be with forever. I realize the importance of getting up at 5:45am to spend time with a friend, or welcoming my mom's voice when she calls me, even when I'm in the middle of something. The privilege of being loved.

Tonight, Steven and I went to SMU to enjoy the weather. We were strolling side by side, when I got this burst of energy and said, "I just feel like running." He said, "Then go!" So I ran and ran, feeling the evening chill on my skin and hearing the swoosh of the leaves swirling around my feet and stirring in my wake. "I'm alive," I said. "This is the privilege of being alive."

15 February 2007

Nothing is worth more than this day.

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."
~ Mother Teresa

This quote has deeply challenged me. The truth is, I've not been living lately as if "we have only today." I have been living each day as if there were a million more of 'todays' and a boundlessness of time. Translation: I've been lazy. Terribly lazy.

This laziness has permeated every part of my life...from what I'm literally feeding my body, to what kind of activity I'm engaging in, to how I'm stirring my mind and growing in knowledge, to whom I've allowed to pour into my life and in turn, in whom I am investing my time. I'm actually ashamed by how much I have not embraced today or my gifts. I have posed quietly upon my hilltop of laziness and let today pass me by, watching "just one more" mindless TV show that will not teach me anything, feed my spirit, make me laugh, or encourage me to live more intentionally.

Mother Teresa was a woman who sacrificed her entire life to love, in the most practical way, the most rejected of society, and although I don't agree with all of her theology, I know that she was not a woman who waited for things to happen. She even wrote a personal letter from all the way across the world to Bongo Java in Nashville to ask them to get quit making money off of the "Nun Bun"! She did not waste time with excuses or tiredness. She began. More importantly, Jesus did too. Jesus used the gifts He has been given by the Father, and He trusted solely in His Father to order His days. He only needed to do that to which He was called.

Part of this laziness comes from my lack of writing out my letters and prayers to God. My journals are my most prized possessions. I have an entire volume of them with my life since the first day of college documented therein. They help me pray and process and learn. I ran out of pages in my journal months ago and instead of continuing this prayer and processing, I just stopped. Ugh. A few weeks ago on a Saturday, I felt so dry and empty. I wonder why! It was time to make the first step and start journaling again. I went to a local bookstore and found this treasure:

Perfect. I took it home. And on the first page, I wrote this:

Turning over a new leaf....it's time. Time to begin. A friend of mine created a list of her "30 by 30" - 30 things to do by the time she turned 30 . Well since I'm turning 30 this November, I'd either have to do that at warp speed (not likely) or create a different kind of list :). So I decided on my "37 by 37". That brings me to 2015, which as many of you know, will be a very significant year for the Baileys....

I'm excited about 30. I've heard that in her 30's a woman really growns into who she is. One thing I'm not going to agree to do, though, is waste any of the days I have left in my 20's. So...in the spirit of new beginnings and living for today, here it is:

My "37 by 37"
  1. Fly First-Class.
  2. Take an art or photography class at a local community college.
  3. Learn Italian fluently and use it by visiting Italy again.
  4. Homeschool my kids when they're young.
  5. Redesign DreamMore.com & start selling stuff.
  6. Own a globe and be able to name all countries in Europe, Asia, South America, and Africa.
  7. Go to Africa and hold a child that has AIDS.
  8. Visit an orphanage.
  9. Grow a flower garden in my own yard.
  10. Visit the sites of the Bible in Israel.
  11. Visit Colorado and frolic in a field of wildflowers.
  12. Go to a small-town strawberry or blueberry festival.
  13. Find a cliff and jump off it into the water!
  14. Be able to do 25 man push-ups in a row.
  15. Learn to embrace fish & grapefruit.
  16. Learn to love my body, not obsess about it, and be healthy because I want to glorify God, not because I care what others think of me. Always a work-in-progress, but I've made some real strides.
  17. Go on a benefit walk.
  18. Own a Select-Comfort bed.
  19. Be able to do the yoga pendulum pose without my feet touching the floor.
  20. Visit Central & South America (Brazil and Costa Rica, please!).
  21. Have at least 2 regular friends from other countries.
  22. Learn to make cool stuff like pillows, hats, and clothes with a sewing machine and funky fabrics.
  23. Take my nieces on a girl trip.
  24. Visit Ellis Island and see my grandfather’s name on the log.
  25. Learn how to salsa dance.
  26. Wear a little black dress and go to the Rainbow Room in New York City with my husband to ballroom-dance the night away.
  27. Return to India to see my “family” there.
  28. Own a porch swing.
  29. Visit Seattle and Portland and drink lots of coffee in both places.
  30. Write a book. In progress as of January 2009!
  31. Be able to bend over standing up and touch my nose to my knees and hold it.
  32. Own a really big, cuddly dog.
  33. See Bon Jovi live in concert again, with Steven.
  34. Give birth naturally at a birthing center.
  35. Sleep on a beach overnight.
  36. Live in a solar-powered house and have a composting bin for my garden.

Well, that's 36 things at least. This list will probably change a bazillion times before I'm 37, and actually I hope it does! It shows growth. I will no longer sit back and let life happen to me. That means starting now on accomplishing these 37 things. It means getting up early in the morning to welcome the day, being intentional about my relationships and making time for people more than for the TV or my iBook, not letting my work or stress consume me, and stretching myself in ways I never thought possible....

"Be careful then, dear brothers and sisters. Make sure that your own hearts are not evil and unbelieving, turning you away from the living God. You must warn each other every day, while it is still “today,” so that none of you will be deceived by sin and hardened against God. For if we are faithful to the end, trusting God just as firmly as when we first believed, we will share in all that belongs to Christ." ~ Hebrews 3:12-14 (NLV)

I thought of one last item for the list:

37. Today: begin.