What are you afraid of?

What’s your biggest fear? 

Snakes? Heights? Spiders?  If we dig a little deeper, we may discover what really scares us is not being accepted, not feeling lovable or loved, or not quite good enough.

When did we develop those fears?  For some of us it was one moment in time that was so traumatic we remember it like it was yesterday.  Someone said something or did something to us that made us feel unworthy or unimportant and caused us to view the world as unsafe.  For many of us it wasn’t one single thing, but a series of events that combined made us feel uncomfortable in our own skin, timid, and fearful.

This week I was reminded twice that fear is a liar, and only holds power if we let it.

Our granddaughter, Chloe is outgoing, creative and fun.  Her favorite things include kittens and all things sparkly.   Tryouts were held at her school for an upcoming talent show for grades K-3.  Being in kindergarten and one of the youngest participants did not deter her; she sang a song for her audition.  She was the only kindergartener selected to make the cut, to which she was over-the-moon excited!

The day came where she would perform in a room full of students, parents, and of course, grandparents.  Pretty daunting for a 7-year old, you would think.  But not for Miss Chloe.  She strutted confidently out onto the stage in in full regalia – pink sparkly shoes, polka dot tights, rainbow toile skirt, turquoise off one shoulder top, a big multi-colored bow in her hair, pink sparkly earrings, and a huge smile!  With pure innocence and joy, she began singing.  There was no sound coming from her headset, and my heart sank.  But it didn’t faze Chloe. She continued to belt out her song without skipping a beat, and within a few seconds the problem was rectified and we could hear her sweet song loud and clear. 

I was so impressed by her bravery as she sang her tender little heart out, having the time of her life.   I wondered at what point in my life I had lost the courage to be so visible, vulnerable and brave.

(Side note: she took Second Place).

Fast forward to the following night…

My daughter, Stacey, and I meet every Tuesday for dinner and this week she texted me that she wouldn’t be able to make it because her daughter, Mackenzie, was participating in a Choir Concert at her school.  She invited me to come, and I immediately said yes.

I figured this would be a typical group concert where Mackenzie was part of that group.  And it was.  With one exception.  I found when I got there that Mackenzie had a solo part in one of the selections.  This blew my mind!  I wasn’t surprised about Chloe’s debut, but Mackenzie is a different type of girl altogether.

First of all, she’s thirteen years old!  I can’t imagine doing something that bold at thirteen.  I would describe Mackenzie as wise beyond her years, witty and clever, but not particularly extroverted.  She tends to be more quiet and thoughtful.  She’s caring and considerate, and loves animals, especially her dog Muffin who she carries around in her arms most of the time. So, you can imagine my surprise to hear that she willingly volunteered and auditioned for this spot on the program.

As time drew near for her solo, I found myself becoming very nervous for her.  Thirteen can be a vulnerable age and I so wanted her to have a good experience.

When she stepped forward with quiet elegance in her simple white tank top, long black skirt, and neatly combed hair falling just past her shoulders, I knew my fears were unfounded.  She exuded calm, poise and confidence as beautiful tones emerged from this precious young woman’s mouth.  I was amazed!  I had never heard her sing before, and didn’t know she was holding inside her such a beautiful gift.  When she finished, her mom and I looked at each other in amazement, as we both said, “She was really good!”.

Afterwards, as I hugged her and told her how proud of her I was, I said, “You didn’t even look nervous”  to which she replied, “Oh, I was nervous.  I was really sweaty!”.

There was my second lesson.  Bravery doesn’t mean not being afraid.  It means stepping into life and playing full out in the face of being scared.

I’ve given a lot of thought to both lessons from my unique and precious granddaughters since then, examining what it is that I’m most fearful of, and why.  The power and hold those old stories typically had on me seem trivial as I reflect on what I experienced recently.  Fear tries to hold us back, to keep us small and ineffective.  But, I have a choice.  I can give in and allow that to happen, or I can choose to live the life I was created to live.  I prefer instead to be the greatest expression of myself and a courageous positive force and light in the world.

With tears in my eyes, filled with awe and pride for these two sweet girls that I love so much, and the lessons they taught their Grammy, a song came on the radio that stands as a constant reminder to me.

I hope it’s a good reminder for you, too.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQTnREEtuNk

 

Good news, bad news, or just news?

Isn’t it funny how insights or ‘aha’ moments can hit at the most unexpected times and ways?

Last weekend I was leading a women’s retreat in Sedona, Arizona and all nine of us ladies were having lunch in a funky Sedona-ish restaurant.  After our order was placed, our server, a very insightful young woman in her twenties, returned to tell us she had ‘news’.  I asked if it was good news or bad news.  She quickly replied, “It’s just news.”.  Then she added, “You can determine if it’s good or bad, but it’s just news”.

In that instant, it’s like a lightbulb was switched on over my heads, and said outloud, “Wow. That was profound.” 

I was reminded how quick I am to label something as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ without knowing the end game or how it will all play out.  It turns out the ‘news’ she had was that they were out of soup.  Initially I would label that as ‘bad’ news, but those who ordered soup, selected something different and were pleased with their choices.  So, I guess it turned out ‘good’.  What do I know?

This poignant comment stuck with me as I continued to replay in my mind how many times I have assessed a situation, without having all the information or knowing what twists and turns lay ahead.  So many times, okay MOST times, I was premature in my evaluation and had I watched and waited, a much different outcome than I’d expected would emerge.  I vowed to myself to be open to observe situations unfolding without a bias or preconceived idea of how it will be.

Sounds easy, right?  And, it is pretty easy when you’re talking about soup.  But just yesterday a very dear friend of mine, a sistah really, received a diagnosis of Stage 4 Cancer.  As much as I wanted to, I couldn’t let it be ‘just news’, and I asked myself why I couldn’t apply that principal to this situation.

I found the more attached I am to the outcome of a situation, the less likely I am to allow it to be whatever it is.  I don’t have the answer here.  I wish I did.  Instead, I’ll keep working at releasing my opinion of this prognosis and trusting the Source that is so much bigger than me and my understanding.

Which brings me to my third example.

As this is Good Friday, I am reminded of all the people who were present to witness Jesus crucified on the cross and those who heard of it afterward.  That could not have been ‘just news’ to them.  That was surely seen as very ‘bad news’ – devastating even.  Their friend, their teacher, and their leader was brutally taken from them.  Yet in just three short days, not only did their friend, teacher and leader return, but now he was their Savior, also. This news that could have been viewed as the worst news ever, turned out to the be the ‘good news’ that would save generations of people throughout the world.

So, what in your life are you calling ‘bad news’?  Can you remove that label as you watch it unfold and witness the unexpected beauty and miracles that may result?  Let’s all try together.

 

 

 

Amy's Camino Story

Amy's Camino Story

Amy, or 'The Little Sparkplug' as she was lovingly referred to by some of the ladies in our Camino group, is dynamic and friendly.  On the trail, not a fellow pilgrim got by her without her striking up a conversation and asking how they were doing.  I expected her story to be about one of those encounters.  I was amazed and moved by the encounter that meant most to her.  Thank you, Amy, for sharing from your heart.

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Lessons from the Trails

To me, the Camino is a snapshot and metaphor for life.  It has a beginning, an end, and a journey in between.  The Camino journey provides opportunities to experience things with new eyes and it provides lessons to be applied to life.  I’m stunned by the unexpected ‘lessons’  it gifts if you are open.

I didn’t expect to have the same experience this time in Spain as I did on my last two pilgrimages.  I was facilitating a group of ladies, moving their backpacks forward, and preparing their lodging for the night of their arrival.  I was not walking daily like they were, so I didn’t expect to be affected in the same way.  Boy, was I wrong.  I had a lesson that shook me to my core.

On the last day walking before our short adventure came to a close, I arrived into Granon (one of my favorite places ever, by the way).  I had hauled the backpacks up the uneven stone steps into the large room where we would all spend the night next to each other on mats on the floor.  I had paid the donation for the room and dinner, and gotten a schedule of events the albergue offered.  There was only one thing left to do – find a bank.  Every so often I had to refill my Euros as most places only accepted cash, and today was that day.

I walked across the street from the albergue to a tiny café to ask for directions to the bank.  The place was packed with a line of pilgrims extending clear out the door.  As I entered, I saw one lone young woman handling things.  She was taking orders and ringing up sales, while another woman was in the room behind cooking and filling the food orders. What could have very easily been chaotic, was not.  The young woman, who I later found out was named Irina, was smiling and completely relaxed.  There was music playing that the pilgrims were either swaying back and forth to or singing along with.  I had to laugh as I entered because the song “Hit the Road, Jack” was blaring.  How appropriate, I thought.

I inched my way up to the left side of the counter, where Irina would come to drop off orders and call out, over the music, the person’s name.  My plan was to catch her on her next trip over and quickly ask where the bank was.  So, I waited.

As she came to drop off an order, she paused to pick up two dirty cups and saucers that were left there by pilgrims.  I seized the opportunity and quickly blurted out one of the few phrases in Spanish I knew – “Perdon.  Donde esta el banco?” (sorry, I don’t know how to put in the tilde, the little accent marks over the Spanish words, but you get the gist of it.).

She turned back around, as she had already moved to walk away, sat the cups and saucers down, and purposefully took my left hand and cupped it both of hers.  She completely disregarded the long line of hungry pilgrims waiting to be served, and instead paused to look intently into my eyes.  Irina then softly said to me, “Buenos dias”.  If I could have disappeared, melted into my shoes, whatever, I would have.  I felt so embarrassed.

In her kind loving way, she taught me a monumental lesson, ‘Don’t walk in here rudely blurting out your question.  It doesn’t matter that I’m busy or that you’re busy. Stop.  Look me in the eyes.  Greet me first.  Then ask.’

Because I was too flustered to muster up any weak form of Spanish, in English I replied, ‘I am so sorry.  Buenos dias’.  She just smiled, gave my hand a squeeze and replied, ‘Buenos dias’ and proceeded to tell me how to find the bank.

I humbly walked out and headed to the bank hoping I wouldn’t have to see Irina again.  I didn’t want her to think, ‘There comes that rude American woman’. 

As fate would have it, I DID have to see her again, several times.  This was a tiny village and the only place to get anything to eat, and by now I was hungry.  So, I checked my pride and walked back in. Of course, she recognized me as I entered.  She looked up from her register and gave me a big smile.  Over the crowd and from the back of the café, I playfully called out to her, ‘Buenos dias’.  She greeted me back and we both laughed.

I’ve lovingly thought back several times since then about Irina and the precious lesson she taught me.  I realized how many times I rush through life not even noticing the people I pass during my day.  The opportunities I miss, and sometimes even avoid, to say hello or give a passing stranger a smile. What am I doing that’s so important?  Where am I going that I don’t have five seconds to pause to acknowledge another human being?

I’ve returned home now and yesterday I was hiking our familiar Pinnacle Peak with my husband, Mike.  He was ahead and I was going at my own pace as we always do.  As I was coming back down, a young man approached me carrying his little boy (maybe a year old) on his backpack.  Even though he was still a little way away, I could see this sweet little boy peeking around his daddy’s back waving like crazy at me.  I smiled and waved back to him, and we high-fived as we passed.

Again, I was reminded what it means to be seen by another person.  To be acknowledged and smiled at.  I hope I remember that lesson for the rest of my life.

The familiar phrase is, “The Camino provides”.  And, yes, it does.  But if we’re open, those lessons can also come at home or hiking a mountain by your house.

A magical day of connections

I am writing this while sitting out under the shelter of our patio soaking up the last precious moments of our stay at la Casa Magica.  As the name suggests, it is a magical place. 

The ladies have headed off on the path for today and I am beginning to hear the soft sounds of raindrops on the plastic roof.  It is a shorter day for the women today – just under 8 miles – and I was hoping they would arrive at our albergue before the rain hits.  I laugh as I typed ‘a shorter day’, like 8 miles is nothing!  The last couple of days they’ve walked around 13 miles, so I guess it’s all relative.

Because our internet connections are not strong, I haven’t been able to post blogs regularly or attach any photos with the blog.  Please go to my facebook page www.facebook.com/debbielambturner to see pictures.  For some reason, I can post them onto Facebook, but cannot attach to the blog. 

Yesterday we spent the night at la Casa Magica, where I stayed back in 2013 on my walk with Jake.  The minute I walked through the entrance, I was filled with the familiar feelings of warmth and serenity I experienced the first time.  The first thing that hit me as I entered was the pleasant faint aroma of an incense burning.  I’m sure it’s purpose is to disguise the smell of smelly boots and sweaty pilgrims, but it is heavenly.

The welcoming hospitaleros, amazing food, and overall feel of the place are hard to explain.  Then add amenities of single beds (not bunks, which are the norm), an old stone balcony filled with six brightly colored hammocks, drinks and beverages that you can help yourself to, a patio area for journaling or resting, outdoor upstairs tables and chairs for socializing, large clean restrooms with blow dryers and two washers and a dryer and you feel like you’ve died and gone to Camino heaven.  All the ladies agreed this was the best albergue treat so far.

My time here is coming to an end, though.  I must move the backpacks forward to the next town.  It is my next favorite place because it offers a special after dinner all faiths (or no faith) prayer and meditation time.  At least it did the last time I was here and I hope it still does.  I think the ladies will really enjoy that.

Yesterday we finished the first half of this leg of the journey, and I feel a bit of a shift starting to occur.  I hope to see them moving into a more reflective introspective time.  Our word today was ‘Connection’ and I encouraged them as they walked to truly connect with themselves, and to connect with others they meet (as well as the other women in our group) on a deeper level.  This involves listening as others share their hearts and their stories and to be a support and validation for them.  I also invited them to notice their connection with nature as they walked.  But, most importantly, to be open to a more intimate connection with their Creator.  I shared that my Heavenly Father is always connected to me, but I have the choice to embrace it or to move away from it.

I send them all love and prayers that today is a special day for them, and a day where they have new insights and deeper soul connections.  I would appreciate your love, light and prayers for these women, also.  They are in various places along their unique journeys in life all needing something different.  I trust they will receive whatever it is they are looking for.