awareness, Faith/Spirituality

Underlinable

I have been reading a book that was loaned to me by a friend.

Loaned. Not given.

As a general rule, when given a book on loan, one should protect that book, keeping the pages smooth (no dog-earing the corners) and barely opening it so as not to crack the spine. One should avoid using the book to set ones’ coffee cup on so it won’t spill on the couch. One should also refrain, no matter how poignant a word, sentence or phrase of said book, from underlining or highlighting anything.

Unless one just can’t refrain one page longer and wildly lets her pen fly.

I made it all the way to page 73.

That’s when I couldn’t take it anymore and began to underline insights that I needed to hear and wanted to revisit in the future.

I don’t read much that isn’t non-fiction/self-help/inspirational because I actually hate reading.

My brain considers reading work; not something you do for enjoyment. 

I have a pretty short attention span which is why I only read about a chapter at a time ( or less, if the chapter is really long!) before I can’t focus anymore.

I also seem to forget what I read…unless-I underline it.

It helps me really “hear” what is being said through the text.

Underlined

Sometimes I get a little crazy and try to listen to an Audio book. That’s sort of a disaster. I end up only understanding about half of the book because A, my mind wanders off and B, I can’t underline anything.

This morning, as I finished up this book, I decided to go back to the beginning and re-read the first 72 pages and underline anything that I didn’t learn the first time when I was reading “pen-free”. There was some pretty good stuff in there!

That’s when I had this thought about how my life can be divided up in to days that have moments or conversations or insights that are underlined and days that are just a run-on of activities and actions that are void and without intention and laden with duty.

Next to my sitting spot on my couch I have a basket of about 20 books that I have already read, at least once. Many of them I re-read every year and am delighted when I see that something I underlined the year before has actually been a growth area for me.

Other times I am surprised to pull a nugget of truth off of a page that was just plain naked. How could I have missed this last time I read it?!

By now, I have learned that I just wasn’t ready to receive that truth yet, or I was a different person or at a different place in my life then; I didn’t need to hear it until now. I couldn’t.

I want my life to be marked up — underlined (maybe, if I get a little wild, even highlighted or starred or circled!). I don’t want to go through several “pages” of my story where there is nothing worth underlining.

When I start to read a book that doesn’t compel me to underline anything, it goes back on the shelf or to Goodwill. I have no interest in finishing them.

Living a life with underlining doesn’t mean constant adventure or entertainment or morose, reflective thinking. For me, I think it means I look for ways to do the regular stuff with intentionality and awareness that there is something bigger going on that what is right in front of me.

It means that I look around for someone to serve and listen for God’s promptings to engage in my life in a way that has purpose outside of my tasks and chores and obligations.

Each day I am writing more of the story of my life. If I re-read it, would I come across anything that would make not underlining it unbearable?

Lord, help me live a life that is underlinable.

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Addiction, Cancer, Faith/Spirituality, fear

Reading myself

In one week I am doing a reading and book signing at a local Cafe (Cafe MOXO- 411 E Adams St. Springfield, IL) from 4:00-6:00pm…Come see me with a couple friends! I have done a book signing before, but never a “reading”. I am not really sure what that part is going to look like, to be honest. I am certain, however, that this will require me to “read” my own work. And I am terrified and sort of nauseous just thinking about it. I have a couple fears that I am sure you will find perfectly understandable. One, that I will find typos and that will make me crazy. I proof-read everything dozens of times, but I am only human. And WORD doesn’t seem to be any smarter or more observant than I am! And two, that my writing actually stinks. That I was given the ultimate cancer pass and people were just being polite because “bless her heart, she has cancer and has convinced herself that she can write.”

So I keep putting it off because not only do I have to read what I have written, I also have to talk about it. Oh dear, I just realized a new fear-I have to speak in front of people! If you know me, you I know i have done this many times before, but now I can’t ramble or joke or muddle my way through it like a ditzy blonde (I think I feel a fever coming on…🤒).

Let me run a few things by you, and maybe I will be a bit more confident and ready to put myself out there by next Wednesday. If I give you the inside scoop on what I plan to say, do you promise you will still come to hear me? (I need to see your familiar, smiling faces….)

1.This is not my cancer story. This is a book I wrote about me that is ultimately about you. It started off as an informative blog about my Leukemia status, and quickly moved to our shared diseases of worry, fear, control, etc. I don’t think any of us saw that coming. I was shocked, and maybe you were too, that what I wrote from a hospital bed could touch, challenge or inspire someone in their everyday life.

2. Cancer, addiction and the disease of the soul levels the playing field. We all battle these deadly diseases at some level. If we keep this at the forefront of our mind and spirit, we can stop walking around like we are better than or worse than the people around us. We all struggle with something that is trying to get the best of us, perhaps even kill us. We are not unique in our “condition”. We are most definitely not the only one fighting our particular battle. We can embrace the comradery that comes from knowing and believing that we are “not the only one”.

3. You are worthy now. Just typing that truth makes my eyes well up with tears. Maybe it’s because I forget it so often or that I suspect that you do too. We are all working so blasted hard to be ok. To be enough. To be accepted and loved. To be “in”. But as a friend of mine says pretty regularly, “we are never gonna be anything more than human.” Life is a series of trials and errors and lessons. And class is never over. But, we can rest in the assurance that even though we will most definitely never arrive at perfection, we are exactly who are are supposed to be at this very moment. We are, as vulnerability researcher Brene Brown puts it, “Worthy now. Not if. Not when. We are worthy of love an belonging now. Right this minute. As is.”

4. I love you. You heard me. I truly do. One of my core values can be summed up in a reading from Recovery literature: “Though you may not like all of us, you will love us in a very special way, the same way we already love you.” Isn’t that the truth? We aren’t going to like everyone, but if we keep in mind that we every person on this planet is battling to recover from the effects of horrific diseases such as cancer, addiction and a plethora of plagues that are trying to destroy our souls, we can maintain a love that surpasses like.

5. God’s got this. Whatever your understanding of God is, it is imperative that you invite him to do life with you. Or I guess, that you join him in doing your life. He knows and sees, and that’s not a threat. It’s a promise. As important as it is for us to rely on each other, it is vital that we “get God in there”. Turn your will and your circumstances over to him every moment of every day. Remember the mantra I wrote about a few months back: “I can’t. God can. I think I’ll let Him.”

So…That should get us started, don’t ya think? I hope I see you there. Who do you know whose heart could use a message like this?