Creating Our Own Clouds

Photos by Chris Lawton and frank mckenna on Unsplash

I’ve learned recently something all too true, and somewhat scary… we often in life create our own clouds, our own pain, our own drama.

There was a situation recently where I had a choose to do or not do something regretful, and unfortunately, I didn’t choose wisely. I chose a chaotic storm of events that has filled me with sadness and grief ever since.

What was I THINKING?! I’ve asked myself for weeks. Not that I condone living in regret and shame—there is no reason to replay a series of bad events over and over. But I did and do need to process alone and with those closest to me—what is going on and what led to me making one bad decision over a different good decision?

I created my own clouds, my own STORM really, and didn’t have to.

But then, I realized the hope. I didn’t have to.

I actually had the power to not walk into that decision. I had the power to choose differently. Which means I have the power to choose differently the next time.

Sometimes when there are clouds over our lives, clouds that keep us bogged down, we need to recognize that those painful things that “happen to us” aren’t really happening to us at all, but are a series of choices that we could have made differently. And when we can realize that difference, we become empowered.

We become empowered to see joy in pain, to learn, to walk through the steps of making the wrong right again.

Creating clouds and storms can honestly grow us, if we let them. It’s time to recognize we have a choice and to let those painful things change us into more wise and mature people. Kinder. More loving.

Storms, clouds, and chaos. It’s time to stop worrying about what we did wrong. Or for some it’s time to stop playing the victim. Instead, we need to see where we have control, and need to take control back into our own hands, learn from the pain, and let sun shine on us again.

When Money Works For You

Photo Cred: Joanna Nix-Walkup

I don’t know if everyone who will put eyes on this post knows the feeling of getting caught in the rat race of money or not, but if you do, then this one may be for you. You see, there is a rat race I’ve been feeling stuck on for a while and I’m slowly becoming free. It’s a financial race to get ahead of taxes and bills, in order to have enough to save, invest, and give generously. (I will preface this post by saying please check out my other post “It’s Better to Give Than to Receive” so that you understand my views on giving no matter what. There are ways to give generously no matter our financial circumstances.) But as life stands now, I’d like to give financially, in more profound ways than ever before.

Recently, last month in December 2020, I read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki and it changed my life. Not in any outward way. My financial and living circumstances from an outsider’s perspective look the same this month as last month, but my thoughts and words around money have shifted. At some point in the book, I started believing I could be the “rich Dad” Kiyosaki talks about. I started believing I could be financially wealthy in order to get out of the rat race.

The idea that opened my eyes to this new way of thinking that has changed my perspective on money is this: Money works for ME.

Until last month when reading that book, my entire life I worked for money. I worked a job or gig and received money in return. Work, get paid. Work, get paid. Whether life guarding at pools through high school and college or becoming a sports video producer, I worked for money. But then Rich Dad, Poor Dad flipped my perspective completely on its head. In the middle of the chapter where I had this enormous “aha” I literally spoke out loud over and over, “money works for me, I don’t work for money,” till I believed it.

When money works for me, then I get to let go of pressure to perform for work. I get to let go of fear of the financial “what ifs” with taxes and bills. I get to take authority. Finances do not rule my life anymore, I rule my finances. I am in charge of how much I make, where I work, and why.

This was huge. Still is. It’s something I’ve been testing for the last few weeks and so far, fear/stress/worry has taken a backseat to the ownership I now have on a mental-emotional level with money. And it’s manifesting to the physical.

I choose where and how I spend the money I make. I’m not letting go of responsibility to things that must get taken care of financially, but I’m just way more cognizant that control is in my hands. I control when and how things get paid. I control how much enters and exits my account each month. Money works to my behalf in buying groceries. Money works to my behalf in paying bills. Money works to my behalf with creating the life I want. And it will continue to.

Taking ownership of this one concept has opened me up to now saying things like “I control my schedule; it doesn’t control me.” And “I control my time; time doesn’t control me.” These invisible entities that used to run me around and rule my life, don’t get to anymore. It’s up to me. And it has allowed me to breath a little easier the last three or so weeks since reading the book.

So, friend reading this post, let money work for you. Stop working for money. No one, and no-thing should own or control us.

No. You have skills, ideas, intelligence, interests, and accomplishments to offer the world. These are valuable first, before anyone decides what the value those things are worth on a per hour or per year basis.

You are valuable. And money is the thing that works to your favor- getting you the things you need and want in life, and perhaps out of the rat race one day soon.

When Skin Tells a Story

I was rubbing my sun burnt legs down with lotion and noticed not only the hot feeling of a surface burn, but also felt an itch with a cluster of mosquito bites on my left calf. Scratching only irritated the burn, but if I didn’t scratch the bites were impossible to handle. Then, I noticed the nick where I had cut myself with a razor blade down near my ankle; blood was starting to trickle down my foot. I had rushed my shower, obviously, to have not noticed my beat-up legs and allowed myself to be so careless in cutting myself. Cuts, burns, and bites made my leg looked like it had been to battle.

I studied my other leg taking in an old scar down by my ankle. Fewer bites, but still uncomfortably burnt and a giant bruise on my shin.

All of a sudden, I felt a wave of being proud of my legs. I think typically my mind would rumble through thoughts of frustration having to dress a certain way to cover up the mess that was my legs in that moment. But not this time.

“Look at that.” I thought. “My skin. Taking the heat literally for all I go through and put it through.” My skin protects me from all kinds of elements just by walking the daily ins and outs of life. And look at all it can handle. The sun. Insects. Scrapes. Scratches. Bruises. Cuts that lead to scars. Though imperfect, my skin was beautiful to me in that moment. Is beautiful. And I don’t give it enough credit.

Skin is the biggest organ of our bodies and gets treated the harshest. Do we thank our skin for all it protects us from? Do we take care of it as we should? Do we drink enough water or eat high nutrient foods that hydrate and feed it properly? I try to. But besides the physical necessity that skin is by providing our bodies protection, there is so much more depth to understand.

My skin told the story of a woman who loves the outdoors— bug bites and sunburns. The bruises point to someone who is active, jostling around, and bumping into things. The scar on my ankle showed something of adventure or an experience that might have been rough in the moment, but ended with me being more resilient and now it’s healed. The razor cut by my ankle points to a personality of getting things done quickly, maybe too quickly and even rushing at times.

And what about you? What does your skin say to the world? What stories can people gather beyond the surface from that tough outer layer?

Some people have tattoos. (I love asking people about their tattoos! Sometimes the stories of a person’s tattoos are deep and meaningful. Others say they got a tattoo on a whim because of a bet or a preference. “I just like stars!” someone responded when I asked what the array of stars on their shoulder stood for.)

Some people have unique birth marks.

Some people have freckles.

Some people have stretch marks or wrinkles.

Some people have callouses built up from work and play.

Some people have more or less melanin, making them “black” or “white” or somewhere in between.

Think of the individual fingerprints you specifically were born with.

It’s pliable and soft. Growing with you. Stretching with you. Unique to ONLY you.

You can get skin wet and dry it off in a matter of seconds. Sometimes when it’s rainy and I need to run outside to the mailbox or take the trash out, I would rather go in my bare feet knowing that shoes will take forever to dry compared to wiping my feet off.

Skin gets dirty and it’s never a problem knowing you can then get it clean in the next shower.

Whatever your skin says on the outside about you, your life, your story—know it is absolutely beautiful and deserves appreciation and care.

Be proud of your skin. Be proud of what it says about you. Be proud of the first cover people see to the story and book that makes your life. And live your best life knowing your skin is beautiful even if it’s imperfect.