I feel like I could write a book about why I love this book so much and how it changed my life. I will try not to, but I might......so I thought I had better tell you up front that I am GIVING away 2 copies of the extraordinary book Cold Tangerines by Shauna Niequist. Oh, yeh and they are signed by her too!
Leave me a comment and let me know what makes you laugh out loud. I will pick two winners Friday June 11. It's a great summer read!
OK now that I have that business taken care of I will fill you in on why I love this book so much. Oh, before I forget Shauna has her next book coming out in August...."Bittersweet", it has chocolate on the cover. OK, sold. I can't wait to get my paws on her new book and hopefully get one or two in your hands too!
March of 2009, I had the opportunity to go to the Breathe Retreat at Portage Lake Bible Camp, a short two hour drive north of my home. This retreat is specifically geared to moms that just need to get away and regroup. I knew I needed a weekend away to have some girl time. No laundry, afternoon naps, and coffee...lots of coffee. Yes naps and coffee do go hand in hand for me.
I should back up a bit and say that three months prior to this retreat I had turned 40 and was in a funk. And not a good funk. I was in a bad place. Not that anything about my life was really bad at all.
My husband is super fantastic
I have four awesome healthy kids
My husband has a job
We have all our needs met....
So what was my problem? Big deal I turned 40..... The "bad" place that I was in was partially because I was feeling ALOT of guilt over not being all super duper happy about my life, with really no reason not to be. I wasn't depressed. Not by the definition of the word anyway. In fact many of you reading my be very surprised to be reading how crappy I was feeling. Useless. Unappreciated. Grouchy. Like there was something I should be doing but didn't know what. I felt my life was pointless....not that being a mom is pointless. "My" life outside of being a mom, MY life was BLAH!
And it wasn't that I wasn't doing anything....in fact thinking back I think I was doing way too many things just trying to make myself feel USEFUL.
So back to the retreat. I went with all the intentions of getting a breather......but with no intentions of my life being changed, completely.
What I did not realize until later is that I was not expecting anything from the life I had been given. I was simply living it and trying to be happy with it not expecting it to be anything more than what it was.
Our speaker for the weekend Shauna Niequist, who I NEED to add is beautiful inside and out, and is funny, crazy smart....and one of the easiest people ever to listen to. She has a God given gift of speaking and inspiring/encouraging others. (Did I say she is a enjoyer of good food too?)
The first thing that she said that was a real ZINGER for me was this.....well truth be told Shauna had alot of zingers for me that week end, but this was the first, "If I act on my dreams what sort of chaos will ensue?" The emotion that hit me with this one sentence was overwhelming. In fact I could not breath...tears filled my eyes and I choked back the tears of realization. Realization that I was afraid to be who God created me to be. Afraid that I might ruffle some feathers if I actually acted on dreams that I had. Or even dared to dream.
My husband is the best...so I will try my darnedest to not throw him under the bus in this paragraph....but if you are married to a physician or any extremely driven human being you may get what I am about to say. I forgot that I could dream...that I too could, maybe, do what I wanted to do. That just because I didn't have a "career", I wasn't allowed to do somethings that I really enjoyed. I had not even dared think about it. We were too busy with Ken's finishing residency, and his establishing his career and then babies one right after the next. I did not dare to think that maybe I could be more than someones wife, or mother. For me to do something that I truly desired..... I would have to get baby sitters(more often than when we "really" needed them) and have my house be even more unorganized and messy than it already seemed.
And until Shauna said it, I didn't realize that it was because deep down I was afraid, I knew it would be hard, and it would cause chaos, I may disappoint my husband and family at times, so I shoved it all aside. I realize that sacrifices have to be made in a marriage. That for our family to work, with my husbands unpredictable schedule I needed to be the one that was predictable, dependable, regular. UGH! sounds like a Metamucil commercial.
The next thing that Shauna said that I scribbled down was " What are you willing to give up in order to do what you really want?". WHAT do I really want....that was my question. Not a good question for someone that changed majors three times and switched colleges twice....and then never did finish. I could not decide.....what do I want to do. I did know that I wanted to get married and have kiddos. Did that. Now what....
Over the next weeks, post retreat, I decided to let myself just write down things that I really wanted out of life. It was a step....toward erasing the fears of failure. The fears that someone would think I am a ditz or foolish, because some of my dreams are quite random and out of the box. Maybe the things I wrote down will never happen....but if nothing else I dared to dream them...to admit them to myself. I guess it was a bucket list of sorts, but not really.
The next thought provoking question that Shauna asked that got my stomach in knots was, "What gives me energy and spark?". Lord help me I prayed, immediately following this questions, because I had not felt energetic or sparky in as long as I could remember. I had helped my kiddos twirl a sparkler or two but that was as close as it was gonna get to any spark for me. (and if your mind is in the gutter, get it out we are not talking bedroom spark PEOPLE! We are doin just fine and dandy.....)
I found a verse in Psalms that was(and is) very exciting for me. "Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4 WOW! Yes, of course! He does....God wants to give me the desires of my heart....He knows what they are....I just needed to know what they are. AND then dare to pray for them. Dare to let myself want them.
I had heard so many people talk about life changing moments in their lives, mountain top experiences.....but this was my first. Pivotal. Needless to say I bought at least ten of Shauna's books and had her sign them all....I just had to give one to all my girlfriends. My book is under lined, highlighted, and starred..... well loved. I came home from that weekend and devoured it. I could not read it fast enough. It spoke to me on so many levels. I know that not everyone may have the experience I did from this book....but I am positive everyone who reads it will love it. I promise....cross my heart and well I don't hope to die...but I might stick a needle in my eye. If you want to read an excerpt from Cold Tangerines you can click here and get a preview if you go to "read a chapter" above the picture on the right hand side.
What it really came down to in the end for me after all was said and done and my dream list was written...it all came down to my attitude...my choice to be more than I thought I could be...to dream. And to act on that dream...if even in the tiniest ways.
The ripple effect of a pebble being dropped in a pond...is not a new analogy but a truthful one...it's really not about me it's about how what I do in this life effects the lives around me, and on and on and on.
I see the ripples of change in my life. They are smooth and clean and refreshing.
What was my list? Most of the things are things I love to do, but forgot that I loved to do them.
And amazing enough some of the craziest ones are coming to fruition......are really happening.
Most of the things I wrote down were things I needed to make a conscious choice to do. And maybe by doing them I would have to give up other things, like my house always being clean and my laundry being done. I am a bit of a neat freak....but I realized that it wasn't really making me happy, that my house was always so tidy....so I let it go and do things that really make my boat float.
This has caused some aggitation from my family....because sometimes they don't have clean cloths (or the clean cloths they want), sometimes we eat cereal for dinner, sometimes I almost forget to pick them up at school because I am floating in my girlfriends pool. OOPs! But it's all good.....I believe that they will learn to live out their dreams by my example, of being a bit quirky and having fun. They now have a happy wife and mom, and I feel happier about doing more for them because I have done somethings for myself too.
The back cover of Shauna's book almost says it all:
"I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud. And I don't want to get to the end, or to tomorrow, even, and realize that my life is a collection of meetings and pop cans and errands and receipts and dirty dishes. I want to eat cold tangerines and sing loud in the car with the windows open and wear pink shoes and stay up all night laughing and paint my walls the exact color of the sky right now. I want to sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my everyday to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift."
I say AMEN SISTER!
Leave a comment and let me know what makes you laugh out loud. I would love for you to have this spectacular book in our paws.
I will pick TWO winners on June 11.
Thanks for listening.
** In case you wondered about how and why I do giveaways you can click here and get the scoop.