on the roller coaster

Photo credit: n-heath-_px33d4yu1y-unsplash

I have always loved roller coasters – the wind-in-your-hair speed, the crazy-high ascents that plummet headlong into out-of-your-seat descents, the crushing-your-neighbor curves, the hands raised high, and the laughter screams – oh, the screams. I have loved them backward, upside down, twisting, and splash-landing into water. I have especially loved riding the roller coasters with a beloved family member at my side.

But things have changed.

We are on a roller coaster of
circumstances, life habits and emotions.

And I do not like it. I have worked hard to adjust and adapt. I have helped my family create new places to study and work and purchase what is needed. I have controlled my anxiety and fear and helped others work through theirs. We have figured out how to stay away from people physically and still stay connected virtually. We keep our personal space, wear our masks and wash our hands.

Every day the ride changes.

The statistics of cases and deaths keep rising and invading one location after another. The estimates for business and school re-openings are months away with nothing certain yet. Hope and discouragement regularly alternate their visits; sometimes they show up simultaneously and sometimes they hide in a crowd of unnamed emotions. As soon as we get one challenge figured out and come up with a satisfactory alternative, something else changes or gets taken away. The economic impact is adding a spinning-saucer sensation to this roller coaster and that stomach-churning effect is one I have never enjoyed.

I am remembering today that roller coaster rides are usually very short-lived, a few breathtaking minutes at the most. This crazy ride we are on is going to last much longer. The highs and lows and the twists and turns go on and on and on. I have had enough already. I want to get off, but I can’t. 

I will need resilience.

An extended journey requires a different mindset and different preparation than a ride that lasts only a few minutes. This crisis demands long-term physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual care. I cannot simply hold my breath for the few brief moments of a short thrill ride. I will need deep, long, oxygen-filling breaths to give me endurance for the distance. Attitudes and actions must be adjusted, and then re-adjusted again, for a long haul. It helps to remember Who travels with me.

Thankfully, although I cannot control my situation, I can control much of my reaction to the circumstances. In this case, simply recognizing the kind of ride I am on, gives me new perspective and helps me choose a better response.

How are you getting through this crazy crisis ride?

Your Story Matters

Graphic credit: Your Story Matters launch team

We are going through crazy times – a world pandemic never before experienced in our lifetimes. We would never have believed it if someone had told us a few weeks ago that:

  • All schools and colleges would be closed except for online studies
  • All professional sports and music concerts would cancel their upcoming events
  • International and domestic flights would be grounded and country borders would be closed
  • The Olympics would be postponed
  • Beaches and National Parks would off-limits
  • We’d be maintaining six-foot “personal cones of protection” and wearing masks out in public
  • Millions of people would suddenly be out of work
  • In some places, tax collections and school loan repayments would be postponed and some landlords would not be charging rent
  • Divided governments would be collaborating like never before on economic stimulus packages

This mind-boggling new world is affecting us each in different ways. Some are very isolated and lonely as they are in lockdown alone in their homes. Others are overwhelmed as they have suddenly taken on homeschooling and/or they are trying to work with young children underfoot, on their laps, and yelling in their ears. Many are living in vulnerable and unsafe situations in their own homes or homeless on the streets. Others are not able to stay home and are working in risky job situations to take care of the rest of us. Some have lost jobs. Others are fearful of the future. Many are stepping into creative and generous ways of helping with needs. Each story is different.

Each story matters.

I have been processing my experience during these crazy times by journaling and by writing in this blog. There have been some really hard, sad, and tumultuous effects due to this virus. We have also made beneficial adjustments in our new way of life. One thing I want to do is record the changes I have made in my life during this time so that I do not go back so easily to status quo behaviors when this is over.

I want to remember.

That is one of the reasons I am grateful that a book launch is happening right now and I get to recommend Leslie Leyland Fields excellent work titled, Your Story Matters.

Leslie Leyland Fields hosts an incredible writers workshop on a private island in Alaska. She also does a few workshops in other places, but for most of us, attending one of those workshops won’t work because of travel or cost limitations, especially now.

Thankfully, Leslie’s new book is like having her workshop brought right to your home. As you read and write your way through Your Story Matters, Leslie explains the “why” it is important to write your story and the specifics of “how” to do it. Her coaching is honest, grace-filled, encouraging and easy to follow.

The chapters are full of wonderful examples and helpful writing prompts. If you have ever believed you can’t or shouldn’t write, Leslie is about to change that. If you have ever thought about writing for publication, to process what has or is happening in your life, or to preserve family memories, now is a great time to do that.

I highly recommend using some of your time during this once-in-a-lifetime situation to write or record your experience and emotions – your story – in some way. You could compose a song, record a video, or write. Leslie’s book will help you remember and tell your story. I highly recommend it.

How are you processing and recording your unique story?

Get Leslie’s book on Amazon now!

when anger and grief decide to visit


Photo licensed: shutterstock_419668975

Anger and grief showed up this week. I didn’t invite them. I hope they won’t stay long.

We’ve been through a lot these past few weeks-going-on-months. Through the crazy, uncertainties, changes, and inconveniences, I have maintained a fairly good attitude and my faith has withstood the storm.

This week, however, my heart was sucker-punched with some bad news and, as is often the case, my pain quickly turned to anger. I was angry at God. I was angry at myself and I was angry at my inability to fix things that are out of my control and that I don’t like.

As I sat with (or, more honestly, embraced) my anger for the better part of the day, the hard self-protective shell around my heart finally started to give way to the legitimate pain underneath. I recognized that I am very tired. Tired from some long-standing sadness that I’ve been carrying around for a while and tired from the emotional weight of our new reality. Tired of simple decisions now requiring an analysis of so many possible ramifications. I am grieving the suffering and the deaths, the struggles of those who are losing their jobs and those who are still working their jobs at great risk. I am grieving the loss of connection, independence, and freedom for us all.

In the midst of that unwelcome intrusion, I needed to remember (maybe you do too?) that anger and grief emotions are valid and real, and they do not need to be brushed aside immediately with positive thoughts or spiritual truths, hidden away under guilt and shame, or diminished by comparisons with something worse that someone else is experiencing. 

I have felt like an empathy failure at times because brushing aside, hiding, or comparing have been my responses all too often. That has made it more difficult for me – and for others – to process emotions and begin to heal.

I want to be more hospitable to anger and grief.

I am learning that it helps to share my emotions with a safe person, someone who can handle the authentic honesty of my heart. Many times God is my safe person through journaling or praying. I am intentionally working to be that kind of safe person for others, biting my tongue when it would be easier for me to offer ideas and try to “fix-it”, and instead simply be there for others in their pain until they are ready for something else from me. 

I recognize that anger and sorrow and healing will often share the same table with my joys and gratefulness and productivity. They are not one-time guests. Their presence makes for a messier living space than I prefer, but I am learning to be ok with that.

How do you handle anger and grief?


**As I was writing this, I listened to Brene Brown’s recent podcast and she shared helpful tips for living with our emotions. It’s really good and covers more than I can in a few words.

es un poco complicado

Crédito: helena-lopes-PGnqT0rXWLs-unsplash

En 2014, redujimos el tamaño de nuestra casa cambiando a un condominio como nuevos padres del “nido vacío”. Todos nuestros hijos vivían en otros estados y queríamos un lugar más pequeño, fácil de cuidar y seguro para viajar, para nuestra nueva etapa de la vida. Teníamos una oficina, una habitación de invitados y una combinación de cocina/sala de estar de concepto abierto, suficiente para nosotros dos.

Avancemos rápidamente hasta 2020… el coronavirus ha cambiado la situación a que cuatro de nosotros estamos viviendo y trabajando desde nuestra pequeña casa, a menudo con una adicional y su dulce perrita tipo beagle durmiendo en el sofá. Los escritorios de oficina están ya en el pasillo. El dormitorio de invitados se ha convertido en un estudio de grabación. El concepto abierto en la planta baja juega tira y afloja entre dormitorio y las interrupciones del café de la mañana y las vespertinas de televisión con la familia. La educación en línea y las llamadas en conferencia buscan desesperadamente por espacios tranquilos y se batallan por mas ancho de banda.

La vida ha cambiado dramaticamente.

Somos una familia que se ama profundamente y somos conocidos como unos que requieren poca atención cuando residimos temporalmente en lugares fuera de casa.

Pero esto es diferente.

Esto no es una vacación o una visita amistosa voluntaria. Aunque algunos de nosotros habíamos elegido vivir juntos antes de la crisis del virus, ahora este acuerdo lleva el descriptor de “tenemos que“. Tenemos que permanecer adentro lejos de los demás, tenemos que ir a la escuela y trabajar desde casa, tenemos que hacer esto por… nadie sabe cuánto tiempo.

Y estamos todos juntos en este lugar con las presiones adicionales de los temores del desconocido, los problemas de salud, los desafíos de obtener alimentos y suministros, las separaciones de amigos y las restricciones de las rutinas que nos dan vida.

Todos nos estamos ajustando a nuestra manera. Nuestras personalidades y preferencias se topan unas con otras ocasionalmente. Bueno, a menudo. Algunos se sienten solos. Otros, claustrofóbicos. Algunos temen que serán la causa de la enfermedad familiar.

Existen muchos sentimientos más
que ni siquiera se pueden identificar todavía.

Una cosa en común entre todos nosotros: estamos comprometidos a superar esto juntos y superarlo después de haber aprendido y crecido, y – con la gracia de Dios – salir del otro lado como mejores personas los unos para los otros y para nuestro mundo.

Algunas de las cosas que han sido de ayuda hasta ahora:

  • La comunicación: Tener una “plática de casa” – Preguntamos ¿Cómo estamos todos emocionalmente, logísticamente? Hablamos de nuestros sentimientos y también de cuánto de la interacción externa y las invitaciones internas nos hacen sentir incómodos. Tenemos la intención de reunirnos de esta manera regularmente para evaluar el bienestar de todos.
  • La resolución de los conflictos: Nombramos los problemas. Cada uno de nosotros es muy diferente y respondemos de manera diferente al estrés. Queremos darnos gracia el uno al otro y no esperar que todos reaccionemos de la misma manera. Estamos intentando resolver las irritaciones y las faltas de comunicación rápidamente.
  • La consistencia: He leído que los horarios regulares de vigilia y devoción/reflexión, de ejercicio y alimentación, en la medida de lo posible, son útiles cuando están confinados en el hogar.
  • La creatividad: A medida que consideramos nuevas opciones, han surgido nuevas formas digitales de trabajo y educación, nuevos métodos de compra en línea, nuevos arreglos de los muebles de la casa y experimentos interesantes con nuevas recetas para usar lo que está a la mano.
  • Las conexiones: El uso de la tecnología visual para conectarnos con amigos y familiares no llena nuestro vacío de distanciamiento social, pero nos ayuda a ver realmente las sonrisas… y las lágrimas. Oramos por quienes nos cuidan con las atenciones médicas, los que realizan trabajos esenciales y los que se enferman o los que intentan desesperadamente evitar ese riesgo.
  • La creación y el sol: Estamos saliendo lo más posible. Para algunos de ustedes, una ventana abierta de corta duración puede ser todo lo que pueden manejar. Unas respiraciones profundas mientras estoy allí disminuyen mi ritmo cardíaco y calman mi alma.

Estoy seguro de que tu vida ha cambiado bastante en las últimas semanas. ¿Qué te ayuda a manejar tu nueva realidad?

el miedo y la fe

Cómo ha cambiado el mundo en unas pocas semanas. Hemos descrito nuestro entorno global como volátil, incierto, complejo y ambigu (VUCA en inglés) desde hace tiempo, pero ahora se ha convertido menos en un ejercicio intelectual y mucho más en una experiencia tangible y real .

En mis 59 años, nunca he experimentado una pandemia como esta. Simultáneamente ya estoy cansado de leer y escuchar sobre el virus COVID-19… y reacciono como adicta incontrolable a las actualizaciones de noticias que cambian rápidamente. Es fácil entender por qué las personas tienen miedo y compran con pánico, especialmente si tienen circunstancias especiales y seres queridos más vulnerables.

Personalmente, quiero hacer lo mejor para mi familia y para los demás. Al mismo tiempo, no quiero contribuir a la histeria o la escasez de artículos importantes que necesitan nuestros trabajadores de la salud. Estoy alterando mis ideas, planes y estrategias día a día a medida que la situación cambia. Estoy seguro de que tú también.

Me cuesta saber dónde obtener la información en la que puedo confiar. Aunque estoy agradecido de trabajar para una organización que tiene equipos de personas que toman decisiones para mantenernos a salvo, estoy preocupada por aquellos que no tienen la flexibilidad de trabajar desde casa y cuyos ingresos se verán muy afectados por los cierres inevitables. No tengo palabras de sabiduría sobresalientes, ningún consejo probado y verdadero, ni certeza de los próximos pasos para ofrecer a los demás. Yo, como muchos de ustedes, estoy buscando a través de la niebla de ruido para discernir qué hacer un día a la vez.

A pesar de todo el caos en mi mente, me siento (mayormente) en paz. Es alentador ver a personas ofreciendo ayuda de muchas maneras diferentes. Estoy más concentrada en lo que es más importante, redujo la velocidad por la fuerza y ​​confío en que mi familia se unirá para superar lo que suceda en el futuro.

Tengo fe en que mi Dios no está sorprendido o abrumado por todo esto y que Él todavía es amoroso, bueno y tiene el control.

Esto puede parecer ilógico para algunos, pero la fe es mi mayor fuente de esperanza y no quisiera pasar por esto sin Él.

Estoy orando por ti, quienquiera que estés leyendo esto hoy. Oro para que no tengas miedo, sino que continúas buscando respuestas – a sus preguntas de logística, del tipo ¿qué hago hoy? – y también a tus preguntas de fe más profundas. No hay preguntas estúpidas; son válidas y reales… y creo que Dios demostrará ser fiel a pesar de nuestras preocupaciones y – al fin de cuentas – proporcionará la respuesta más fuerte a nuestros temores.

¿Cómo te va en estos tiempos difíciles? ¿Cuáles son tus miedos? ¿Cómo te sostiene tu fe?

Posiblemente también te gustaría leer enfrentando nuestro miedo.

fear and faith

stress shutterstock_251223184

How the world has changed in just a few weeks. We have described our global environment as VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) for a while, but it has become less of an intellectual exercise and much more tangible and real in our experience now.

In my 59 years, I have never experienced a pandemic like this. I am simultaneously already tired of reading and hearing about the COVID-19 virus and uncontrollably addicted to the rapidly changing news updates. It is easy to understand why people are fearful and panic-buying, especially if they have special circumstances and loved ones who are more vulnerable.

Personally, I want to do what is best for my family and for others. At the same time, I do not want to contribute to the hysteria or the shortages of important items needed by our health care workers. I am altering my ideas, plans, and strategies day by day as the situation changes. I’m sure you are also.

I am struggling to know where to get the information I can trust. Although I am grateful to work for an organization that has teams of people making decisions to keep us safe, I am concerned for those who do not have the flexibility to work from home and whose income will be greatly affected by the inevitable closures. I have no outstanding words of wisdom, no tried and true advice, no surety of next steps to offer others. I, like many of you, am searching through the noise fog to discern what to do one day at a time.

Despite all of the chaos in my mind, I feel (mostly) at peace. It is encouraging to see people offering to help in so many different ways. I am more focused on what is most important, forcibly slowing down, and confident that my family will rally together to get through whatever happens in the future.

I trust that my God is not surprised or overwhelmed by all of this and that He is still loving and good and in control.

That may seem illogical to some, but faith is my strongest source of hope, and I would not want to go through this without Him.

I am praying for you, whoever you are reading this today. I pray that you will not be afraid, but rather will continue to seek answers – to your logistical, what-do-I-do-today questions – and also to your deeper faith questions too. There are no stupid questions; they are valid and real, and I believe that God will prove faithful despite our concerns and ultimately provide the strongest answer to our fears.

How are you doing in these crazy times? What are your fears? How is your faith sustaining you?

You might also want to read facing our fears