Photo Credit: © 2006 Lynne Holder

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This is one of those days I'm upside down. I'm in the place I call "funk", where, regardless of the reality, everything feels wrong.

I don't like the way I look.
My gray hair is streaked with yellow, and it just lies there, flat and lifeless.
My house needs cleaning, and I don't want to clean, but the uncleanliness causes uneasiness.
My dreams feel so far out of sight it seems pointless to try seeing them.
My husband annoys me for no particular reason. He tells me he loves me, and my mind says, No, you don't...nothing here to love.
Everywhere I turn, I see something I don't like, and wish to change it--immediately.
Love seems so distant--God seems so distant.
I've had just about enough of this game. I hate games and I think I'll go home now.

Not pretty, but there it is.

I'm experienced at these random "funks". It does no good to fight it or deny it exists; however, there is something else I can choose.


This is the day the Lord has made. I will rejoice (even if I feel funky) and be (sort of) glad in it. Maybe later I'll feel really glad in it, but let's rejoice anyway. Yay today!

Wow, do I have four great kids! Thank you, Lord, that you chose me to be their mother!

Wow, do I have one amazing granddaughter! Thank you, Lord, for bringing this sweet soul to our family. And what a good job her parents are doing raising her!

What a dream come true is my husband's love for me. If I thanked God a hundred times a day, it would hardly be enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you, for bringing us together.

Thank you, Lord, for turning the ashes of my life into beauty.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

An Uncomfortable Joy

I have resisted this idea that my story matters and that I need to tell it.

My story has some really fantastic parts, which I don't mind sharing at all.

My story has some really icky parts, which I think I will keep buried in a deep, dark cave, thanks. As my kids were so fond of saying once upon a time, nobody gots to know.

Lately, I've been hearing again how I need to tell my story. Every time I turn around, that little voice in my head is telling me to write it.

Awwwww, REALLY? *whine* Do I have to?
Someone needs to hear it.
Darn it, it's ICKY. What if I will never be able to show my face in public again? What if it's not only me who's embarrassed? 
What if, what if...yada, yada. No one ever said it would be easy or comfortable, but someone needs to hear it.
Ugh. Okaaaaaaaaaaay.

Good grief, am I really that childish?

Last night I sat down to write a story that is a snapshot of the big picture of my life. At 1:30 a.m., thoroughly frustrated at how difficult this was, I finally fell into bed. I remember waking up a couple times during the night with some of the sentences I had written floating in my semi-consciousness.

The story was finished and submitted for a guest blog post at 1:00 this afternoon. I clicked "Send" as I breathed a quick prayer that God would use it to someone's benefit.

This was uncomfortable, but I feel joyful relief. Yes, our stories matter, and in my case, it's really prideful that I kept it carefully guarded.

Do you have a story that might be uncomfortable to let into the light of day? Will you consider writing it for others?

Sunday, June 26, 2011

My Kindred Spirit

On February 13, 2007, I was minding my own business when I met a gentleman at a singles dinner.

On February 13, 2010, I married him.

Leland Patrick Holder is one of the most unique individuals you will ever meet. He is an extrovert. I think he could make friends with a rock. He has a huge, sensitive heart. His sense of humor keeps people laughing. He talks a lot, but he knows when it's time to be quiet and listen. He is a giver. He loves BIG, and he loves unconditionally.

He is flawed, as anyone who knows him well will agree, with a smile. He swears too much.  He can be judgmental. He's addicted to coffee. He's easily distracted and forgetful. He falls asleep, face planted on the desk in front of the computer, while processing photos.

And I love him.

Leland is an artist; a professional photographer.

He'll shoot nature at every opportunity, this place being one of my favorites.

 Kravica Falls, Bosnia-Herzegovina

He loves to shoot photographs of people, capturing that split second in time when a look tells a story.
 Gypsy woman begging on the streets of Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina

He looks through the lens with his heart; a heart for people and the beauty of God's creation, and a heart for the God who has loved him throughout his life's many twists and turns, ups and downs. When he photographs, he prays to see his subjects as God sees them.

In his 20s, Leland had a job that a lot of people would envy, working for Florida Power and Light. He earned a nice salary. He was house hunting and thinking about settling down into a life of the daily grind, white picket fences, marriage, and children.

And then he quit.

He had a dream. Florida Power and Light, white picket fences, and anything resembling status quo were not in it. This young man with a rebellious, adventurous spirit who had grown up on the east coast of Florida surfing, spear fishing, and diving, packed up his van and hit the road for the Western US. He followed his heart, traveling from one state to another, taking pictures, experiencing life, and just being.

In this video (please excuse the quality, or lack thereof, my unnecessary commentary, and sudden outburst over the raindrops falling on the equipment), Leland briefly tells of his journey to becoming a professional photographer. It was spontaneously shot while Leland was giving me a lesson on the technicals of photography. I never really meant for it to do anything but sit in my video folder, but I think his story of breaking out and following his passion needed to be told. Enjoy!

Leland's website & galleries
And, even though he loves people, he has no time for social media (I attempt to manage it for him):
Twitter: @LelandHolder

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Brutal, Honest Truth

Recently, I wrote this response to Your Creative Flow, written by Geoff Talbot, on his blog, Seven Sentences.

Spending time writing does make me feel a bit selfish, only because I began writing as a single person and now I'm married. It shouldn't though, because my husband is a very busy photographer who spends long hours doing post-production and dealing with all the other bits and pieces of running a small business. Writing while he is glued to the monitor in Photoshop does not justify such negative feelings. It's just another attempt by my pesky little naysayer to sidetrack me.

The reason I gave in my response to Geoff's post was absolutely honest. I am married now and I need to remember that, even though I could write for hours on end, and follow the creative community and read their amazing, inspiring writings, in doing so, time has flown by (really, where do the hours in a day go?) and I haven't engaged at all with my husband. 

This habitual practice is not exactly conducive to a healthy marriage relationship.

I've since had time to honestly assess that "only because" reason I gave for feeling a bit selfish in my writing. The deeper, underlying reason raised its rather unattractive head today, and in the spirit of honesty and transparency, I will share it with my readers.

My feelings of selfishness are, to my embarrassment, related to money. The reason? I quit my job.

I felt justified in my decision for these reasons:
  1. An unethical company leader.
  2. Side effects of work stress in my body; becoming increasingly unable to sleep well, perform to my usual standards, and maintain my composure. I was ill and becoming more ill. 
  3. These circumstances were not exactly conducive to a healthy marriage relationship, either.
Fairly good justification for resignation, but one that I struggled with because, in offering my services as a consultant, and doing my creative writing and blogging, I knew that would mean an inconsistent income (even though I had been doing consulting in my off hours on a regular basis before quitting), no benefits, and added financial burden.

God did not provide a window of escape from the job with which I struggled so much, despite all the pleading for strength to carry on in my job, for someone to respect my boundaries, and finally, for another opportunity. The silence was deafening, and then, it was time to make a choice.

Would I compromise, or would I do what was right, recognizing Who my source of supply really is, and with Whom my security truly rests?

When I sit down to write, I feel more than a bit selfish. I am able to write now because I gave up the job that sapped my energy, tested my ethics and integrity, and was killing my soul--and the income that went along with it. But it was income. It paid the bills. It was a degree of security in this game we play here on Earth.

The nasty little naysayer whispers in my ear, "You should be out there working, not sitting around writing! Get a job and make some money! Quitter!"

To which I say, "Thanks for the input, but SHUT UP!"

I'm following my heart and the dreams that God has placed within me, my faith is exercised, and I rely more on Him as my Source of supply than I ever did when I played the Matrix.

Have you faced a similar decision point in your life? Have you felt the tension between keeping your day job and ditching everything to follow your dream? Feel free to share your story. I'd love to read it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The Next Chapter

I received a text message with a picture attachment a couple days ago from my friend, Carrie.

"The horses are here!!!!!!", it read.

Yes, I counted. There were 6 exclamation marks. And I would have added more. I felt my spirit lift several levels. Is this another dream about to be recovered?

Carrie and her soon-to-be-husband, Tim, are licensed counselors and partners in Second Wind, a counseling center that has grown into a ranch offering equine assisted growth and learning. It's been quite a process to prepare the property for the horses, but they have arrived and are acclimating to their new environment.

I am looking forward to being a part of Second Wind. I have volunteered to be a part of this therapy program for a few reasons:
  1. I absolutely love horses.
  2. I am convinced, because of my experience, that horses are excellent teachers. We humans mistakenly think that we teach them, when often the reverse is true. Ideally, it's a 2-way street. They are sensitive, non-judgmental, and forgive unconditionally--the perfect learning environment. 
  3. Since my back injury, I really have no idea, or hope, that I will ride again without further injury. This is an opportunity to be with the animals and people I love, and give to someone who needs help.
Since I opened that message and looked at the horses that I will meet soon, I couldn't help thinking back over my life, with and without these marvelous creatures. Currently horseless, I miss their presence and the experiences I've enjoyed with my equine partners.

It's been 6 years since I said goodbye to my 4-legged love, this gorgeous gelding named Trigger Man Pep, or "Pep", as I called him.

It fit him. He liked 2 speeds: fast and faster. He was extremely athletic. And standoffish. The smart ones are. He would do just about anything for me. We rode trails (our favorite), jumped fences, learned dressage together, and went so far as to compete in local hunter-jumper shows and a horse trial in 2001.

My 15-hand Quarter Horse among all the leggy, hot-blooded Thoroughbreds attracted more than a few sideways glances. Yes, he did all that, but as anyone who knows Quarter Horse bloodlines knows, this horse was bred and born from championship cutting horse stock.

If I had had very deep pockets, I would have dived head first into the cutting world, but I didn't, and it's a good thing. That world he came from damaged him, and by the time I found him at barely 5 years of age, he was scared to death. His trainer had abused him and he would not take it anymore. He refused to compete, actively seeking a way out of the cutting pen. Smart.

It's been said that you don't attract what you want, you attract what you are. I can say, that's absolutely true. We were both wounded in different ways, but together, Pep and I learned about trust, forgiveness, and respect. Eventually he stopped looking for a way out of everything. He followed me around like a puppy. He enjoyed hugs, massages, and scratches in just the right places. And he would cut cattle again for fun, I like to think, for me.

And for me, to borrow from the movie, "Seabiscuit", he made me better.

And then, in 2005, it was time to end that chapter and begin a new one. Tearfully, I left him in the good hands of my farrier, who planned on using him for reining. I knew he had a good home, and that I had done well for him.

A new chapter is being written. Thanks, my sweet friend.

Virginia Intermont College Horse Trials show day.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Keeping It Simple

Keeping a positive, gratitude-filled attitude doesn't have to be rocket science. Keep it simple.

May I suggest, pick something that really brings a smile to your face. Dwell on it. Put it in whatever visual format you can and look at it several times a day.

For me, this is IT: Tiny Dancer

I instantly smile, then I giggle, then I thank God for the family I am blessed with--the family that has exceeded my wildest dreams.

This is my granddaughter, Kate, and she reminds me every day how great life is if I take time to break free of adulthood to see it through a child's eyes.

This is why Jesus loves children so much, I am convinced. They are authentic, joyful, uninhibited creatures, uncomplicated by doubt and fear.


Friday, June 10, 2011

Bucket List Check-off

In early 2006, my good friend, and then Life Coach, Pam Thomas, gave me an assignment as part of our coaching: Write.

It began as a simple daily list of all the things I am grateful for. Then I wrote a list of all the things I wanted to do/accomplish if money were no object and there were no limitations--my bucket list, as it has come to be known. I wrote letters to people I needed to forgive, taking the love and the lessons learned, burned the letters and put the past behind me.

I began writing stories, one of which I sent to Pam for her to read. To my surprise, she liked it, and what was even more surprising, told me that I was a good writer. She encouraged me to write more. I thought, much as a kid whose parent gives encouragement, "She's my coach, she has to say that." But she got me thinking that maybe I could actually be a writer.

I added, "Write a book and become a published author" to my list.

Since then I have written a children's book about a horse-crazy little girl and how her dreams of horse riding and ownership are realized; now in the editing process after the first pass by my editor.

I began, not knowing what I was doing, having no formal education in writing; simply followed a dream. It's a pattern of mine at this point in my life: dream, pray, act, flick the little naysayer off my shoulder, repeat.

I am a writer. I have had a guest blog submission accepted by Geoff Talbot, film maker and actor, and the creator of Seven Sentences. Tomorrow, June 11th, at 7:57 am Pacific Time, my guest blog will be posted. I invite everyone to visit and comment.

My heart is quiet and full of gratitude. Dreams realized--I love this.