Monthly Archives: September 2013

Guest Post: A Dream Come True

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As we finish off September, today I’m happy to bring you a guest post by Ana Elisa Miranda, whom I met over at the Amazing Biz and Life Academy hosted by Leonie Dawson. We share a common experience of living abroad, being expatriates, moving between cultures…being, sometimes, a stranger in a strange land.

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Here’s what Ana has to say!

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What is your picture of a dream come true?

Living in America? A perfect trip to romantic Paris?

A perfect white-fenced house with the perfect green lawn for your perfect children to play with their dog?

An adventurous backpacking trip through South America?

Having your own business?

Publishing a best-seller?

Winning the lottery and enjoying all that money can buy?

Does it include you feeling cheerful and fulfilled (maybe even dancing around, singing or talking to cute animals around you) all the time?

I hope it doesn’t, because it is not gonna happen.

Living abroad is harder than we think; even perfect houses get leaks and insect infestations; being a business owner must be exhausting and the road between publishing a book and making to the top of the charts is a long one.

Once I dreamed of being a writer. I thought people would love my work and buy my books. I have published two books so far and fulfilled that yearning of putting my words out there. A few people have read them and told me they loved them, but I’m far from being a best-selling author. I feel happy and proud, though. I have learned a lot and received a lot of love and support.

Once I dreamed of living abroad. I can’t remember exactly why, how or where, since I’ve been living this dream for a few years. I wanted to speak foreign languages, meet interesting people and see amazing places. I have done that and much more. I have travelled around the USA and Europe and the places never cease to amaze me. I have made friends from everywhere and learned so much about their culture. Today, I live in Belgium, something that had never really crossed my mind, but it’s a dream come true. Something that took shape and it’s much better than I could have imagined myself.

Once I dreamed of finding love. I imagined that a bazillion times: how we would meet, what he would look like, how our life together would be. Needless to say, it all turned out to be different and much more wonderful than I could have pictured. He is everything I ever wanted and more: he is real. Our life together is not yet what I dream of, but I have learned to respect time.

Living your dreams involves more living than dreaming most of the times and that’s the hardest and the best part of it all. It requires a lot of believing (especially when things don’t go the way you expected them to), adjusting, adapting, surrendering and persisting.

It teaches us patience and resilience. It shows us that everything happens at the right time and that we’re the most important authors in our own story, but not the only ones.

Nothing is perfect and doesn’t have to be. We must learn to appreciate every step of the journey and know that they’re already chapters of our dream coming true.

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Ana Elisa Miranda is a Brazilian living in Belgium.

Teacher, author, blogger, traveler.

Passionate about living her dreams, traveling the world, learning, sharing and living simply.

You can connect with her on http://www.anaelisamiranda.com/

 

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The Green Potion

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A Meditation on Bitten Nails   (journal entry, March 2011)                

There is a little bottle of shining, translucent green fluid, sitting on my nightstand.  It’s small and sparkling, with a slim brush in its lid.  It could be a perfumed enchantment fit to break a princess’ spell, or a poison as bitter and potent as any evil fairy ever sprinkled on an apple.   In fact, it’s neither – or perhaps a bit of both.   It’s anti-nail-biting ‘polish’.

 

I have bitten my nails since I was a child, and have never successfully broken the habit for very long. But the other day that desire was given new urgency by seeing my daughter with her fingers at her mouth, beginning to nibble… and since I believe it’s easier to stop a bad habit before it starts, than try to break it afterwards, I sat down for a talk with her.   We promised each other that we would both try not to bite our nails; she agreed that she didn’t want to begin, and I agreed that I needed to set the example.  So to help us remember, I bought the little bottle of anti-nail-biting polish – actually merely a very bitter fluid that dries swiftly on the tip of the nail and the surrounding skin – and carefully stroked it on all our fingers.

 

It’s a very effective deterrent/reminder…bitter as if it were distilled from rotten grapefruit peels, church coffee, and ancient endive leaves, with a dash of vengeful tears and Mithriditian venom thrown in…and it looks the part, with its transparent bluish-green colour sparkling wickedly in the light.  But it works, and for the last week the Kitkat and I have been keeping our hands away from our mouths, rewarded by seeing our nails beginning to grow.

 

Yesterday, though, we discovered a strange side effect.  I absently licked my lips after a drink of water, and my tongue was immediately attacked by that same bitter taste.  Puzzled, I tried again; yes, the distinctive repellent bite of the fluid, even though I hadn’t put my fingers to my mouth.  Kitkat reported the same thing, upon being asked.    I went and rinsed out my mouth, brushed my teeth and scrubbed my poor tongue, then washed my lips and chin carefully.    Could it be, I theorized, that this bitter substance was so potent that it had been absorbed at the molecular level and then exuded again in my skin?   I tried an experiment to test my theory; I touched my clean tongue to the inside of my wrist.  Now, while I’m sure you don’t usually go around licking yourself like a cat, you can probably make a good guess as to how your own skin might smell and taste – a sort of neutral flavour, perhaps a bit soapy in the morning, or slightly salty later on in the day?   But again I pulled my head back with that same bitter taste in my mouth.  I tried one more test, after rinsing my mouth again – I called K over and kissed the back of her neck.  Yes, again, sourness fairly seeping from her normally sweet skin!

 

It was then that the analogy struck me, powerfully.   My little vial of bright green fluid was very like the way sin works in our lives. Clear, attractive to look at as it sparkled on my nightstand under my reading lamp,  it was nonetheless a bitter ‘poison’.   Though I had barely dipped the tips of my fingers in the substance, it had seeped through my entire body – coming out over my pulse points, lying over my heart, even embittering my lips and my tongue!   Sin works the same way.   We think we can afford some little peccadillos, some minor transgressions, some compromise with our conscience – that we can just ‘dabble our fingertips’ in sin and come away with no more penalty than a handwashing later.  Like Pilate, we call for water and cleanse our hands – but meanwhile the consequences of our decision has travelled through our entire body and life.   The bitterness of sin will exude over our whole being, beating with our pulse, lying on our lips, tainting the relationships we have with others.

 

Now, I’m thankful to my bitter potion; it’s helping me break an old, bad habit, and encouraging my daughter not to begin.  But every time I glance at that sparkling green bottle, I can be reminded not to make even the smallest compromises with sin – not so much as a nails’breadth. 

 

Comparing

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GUEST POST by Laura Miller

I’ve been reading posts, links & blogs

I started comparing.

That’s really good ,
it speaks to me
I’m not sure what the message is but I love the way she says it.
That was powerful
I wish I could write (think) like her
The stuff I post is mostly fluff
Well maybe sometimes not but
anyway it’s just for laughs

I compare –

and am dissatisfied and touchy,

and a bit green

Transparency and authenticity get tossed

Lock up vulnerability – too distressingly painful

The Divine Spirit speaks

Is your name Jane or Lisa, or Dana or Judy?
Have you forgotten your name?
Have you forgotten your life?
Is an orange any less a fruit than an apple ?
Is the hand any more important than the foot?
Have you lived in Jane’s body?
Or walked in her shoes?
Has Dana walked in yours?

But they see things I don’t

They’re transparent and authentic

They’re courageous and bold

It just seems to pour out of them without effort

They sound so sure of themselves

How do you know?
Is that for you to say?
Can you read their minds?
Were you there when I created them ?

* * *  *

You stepped over the threshold and through the open door
Why are you lying on the ground crying?

Because I compared and tripped.

The Pilgrim’s Handbook

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My metaphor for my vocation has been that of a pilgrim’s journey.  Today I was reminded that I need to walk my walk as a guide and fellow pilgrim – just walking.

I can provide water, share my food, point out the beauty spots, help others avoid obstacles, and so on, in my character as guide and healer.  But what I can’t do is push, pull, or pick up and carry other pilgrims.  If they choose to sit down in the mud and sulk, it isn’t my responsibility.  If they start throwing mud, I am allowed to move along.  If they don’t like the taste of the victuals I’ve packed or the road map I’ve sketched for our journey, they can opt out – but I don’t need to accept any of the negativity as personal, and we all carry our own bags.

I’m not Christ, to take up the burdens at the foot of the cross, or to carry others (as in the all-too-well-known ‘Footprints’).  But I can be a guide who knows the path, its way stations, dangers, and spectacular views, and open others’ eyes along the way.

Wanna join me?  You’ll stretch mental muscles, take plenty of soul pictures, and meet other anam cara companions, on this trek…and I promise, the vade mecum is coming!

 

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Thanks to Christine over at Girl On Fire (http://www.girlonfiredance.com/) for the reminder of our role as guides/teachers/mentors/coaches, which inspired this thought today!

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“You should date a girl who reads.
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes, who has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she has found the book she wants. You see that weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a secondhand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow and worn.

She’s the girl reading while waiting in that coffee shop down the street. If you take a peek at her mug, the non-dairy creamer is floating on top because she’s kind of engrossed already. Lost in a world of the author’s making. Sit down. She might give you a glare, as most girls who read do not like to be interrupted. Ask her if she likes the book.

Buy her another cup of coffee.

Let her know what you really think of Murakami. See if she got through the first chapter of Fellowship. Understand that if she says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses she’s just saying that to sound intelligent. Ask her if she loves Alice or she would like to be Alice.

It’s easy to date a girl who reads. Give her books for her birthday, for Christmas, for anniversaries. Give her the gift of words, in poetry and in song. Give her Neruda, Pound, Sexton, Cummings. Let her know that you understand that words are love. Understand that she knows the difference between books and reality but by god, she’s going to try to make her life a little like her favorite book. It will never be your fault if she does.

She has to give it a shot somehow.

Lie to her. If she understands syntax, she will understand your need to lie. Behind words are other things: motivation, value, nuance, dialogue. It will not be the end of the world.

Fail her. Because a girl who reads knows that failure always leads up to the climax. Because girls who read understand that all things must come to end, but that you can always write a sequel. That you can begin again and again and still be the hero. That life is meant to have a villain or two.

Why be frightened of everything that you are not? Girls who read understand that people, like characters, develop. Except in the Twilight series.

If you find a girl who reads, keep her close. When you find her up at 2 AM clutching a book to her chest and weeping, make her a cup of tea and hold her. You may lose her for a couple of hours but she will always come back to you. She’ll talk as if the characters in the book are real, because for a while, they always are.

You will propose on a hot air balloon. Or during a rock concert. Or very casually next time she’s sick. Over Skype.

You will smile so hard you will wonder why your heart hasn’t burst and bled out all over your chest yet. You will write the story of your lives, have kids with strange names and even stranger tastes. She will introduce your children to the Cat in the Hat and Aslan, maybe in the same day. You will walk the winters of your old age together and she will recite Keats under her breath while you shake the snow off your boots.

Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable. If you can only give her monotony, and stale hours and half-baked proposals, then you’re better off alone. If you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.

Or better yet, date a girl who writes.”

― Rosemarie Urquico

“You should dat…