NaBloPoMo

You have value. You have something to offer.

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When Life and the World tell you something about yourself enough times, it becomes very difficult not to believe it. You can capitulate to feelings of failure or inferiority, you can fold, or you can fight back in whatever way you can. This month, NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) was my weapon. I proved to myself that I still have the ability to set a goal and reach it.

If Life or the World are telling you that you are not worthy, that you have nothing to offer, fight that voice. You have value. You have something to offer. There are many wonderful days ahead. You just have to be here to meet them.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

 

Christmas Cheer

You are welcome.

We have passed Thanksgiving. Thus, we have officially entered the Christmas music season. There is a radio station dedicated to these beautiful pieces of music and when the universe is feeling especially kind it bestows upon my ears the glorious 80’s synth classic below. You are welcome. Enjoy!

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Neighbors

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you.

I feel powerless over so much in the world.

People kill each other. People kill themselves. People die of disease, of starvation. People get lost. People get taken. There is so much of the world that I am powerless to touch, or to help, or to heal. The interconnectedness of the world places many of the world’s ills in my view and there is nothing that I can do about most of it. And sometimes that powerlessness paralyzes me.

Do you ever feel powerless?

Good people take care of the people around them. I want to be a good person. But in the face of such overwhelming despair, how do I accomplish that? I can’t reach half-way across the globe and change the state of the Middle-East or solve world hunger.

But what if that is not really my responsibility. In my mind, I have a concept that would work spectacularly well if implemented properly and that would expand exponentially. What if I am only responsible for helping the people that I come in contact with? What if I just focused each day on helping the people I encounter? Just them. What if I stopped agonizing over the people on the other side of the world and only focused on the cashier at Walmart, or the guy walking his dog, or the person sitting next to me at the library?

I used to think of power as a single force that was binary in nature. Either you possess it or you don’t. Now I think that power is a snowflake in a blizzard or a droplet in the ocean or ants in a colony. It is thousands of small and simple things all pushing in the same direction toward the same goal.

Imagine if everyone did that. What if everyone focused every day on lifting the people around them? Imagine the love that would pour over the earth as that tidal wave of service moved from person to person across the globe.

That is the power that I want to have. That is the power that I want to be a part of even if I am only one snowflake or one droplet because that power will change the world.

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up or you just don’t know or care. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you. So during this season when some of us will be celebrating Christ, and some Christmas, and some other Holy Days, and some just enjoying family, make an extra effort to lift your neighbor. They are not hard to find, they are all around you.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

NOTE: If you need some ideas on ways to serve, go to Light the World (Mormon.org). Full disclosure this link will take you to a religious website, but it also has really good ideas for nice things that you can do to be good to others, so if you don’t like the religious stuff on there, ignore it and just steal the good ideas. 😉

Fearless

What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear?

Little children are the best teachers in the world. They don’t know rules. I’m not saying that they don’t know what the rules are, I’m saying they don’t know that rules are even a thing. So they just do stuff. They do what they want whenever they want. And it is this näive hedonism that I want to talk about today.

There are hard and fast rules in the world. There are. I didn’t make them up, but you have to live by them or face the consequences. Rules like never put something on the floor for a pregnant woman to pick up, and only wear double denim when you want to look amazing. Just kidding. But really there are rules. Learning them is really important. I’m not going to list them all here, that’s not really my point here. There are also a ton of rules that people just made up, and life seems to be the intersect of trying to abide by the real ones and ferret out and ignore the fake ones.

This is where children are the best teachers. They push other children down out of anger or greed and we tell them no. We teach them the rules that you don’t hurt others because they make you angry and that you don’t hurt others because they have something you want. We teach them to avoid what is wrong, but they teach us about embracing what is right.

They teach us about unconditional love, about forgiveness, about trying new things without fear or embarrassment or shame. What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear? What would your life be like?

Maybe we should find out.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Expanding the Circle

There are some life experiences that come upon you without warning

I have my circle. I have always aimed to keep it’s circumference small. It doesn’t really extend that far and I am ashamed to say that for much of my life I have not been interested in expanding it. I have my family and my friends and that is it.

There are some life experiences that come upon you without warning and give you the opportunity to expand your circle out and enhance your ability to empathize with others, or shrink your circle down to the point where pretty much the only person inside of it is you.

The first choice makes your life more complicated but more fulfilling. The second simplifies things tremendously but it stunts your growth.

My family went to a close friend’s house this year for Thanksgiving with her family. She is amazing so she welcomed in several other people to celebrate the Holiday as well. She is always looking for ways to expand her circle and others circles by extension. She is wise. I was nervous, she was not, but we ended up having a great time, and a far better time than we would have had with fewer people.

Never acquiesce to the impulse to shrink, to restrict your circle, to carve out a place for yourself and put up walls to keep others out. If you do, you may end up keeping out the very people you need most.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Some Days the Fish Don’t Bite

Your luck could change on the next cast.

I went fishing with my husband yesterday. Sorry, let me be more precise. By “I went fishing with my husband,” I mean I sat on a park bench behind him and read while he fished. It was a balmy 70° day and as much as I hate being outside, it is criminal not to savor a mid-November treat like that.

We went to a local park with a small pond, he picked a spot and fished for a while. I read a book my sister-in-law gave me by Whitney Johnson called, Dare Dream Do because it’s a good book and because watching fishing is slightly less entertaining than watching golf. So I wasn’t really paying attention. I figured that I’d hear something when he caught a fish. The excitement is all in the catch.

I’m an avid people watcher so I glanced up on occasion to observed the many strollers by. About twenty minutes in, two young people with an adorable little dog passed us and set to fishing about thirty feet away.

They were fishing for about ten minutes when I heard splashes. The young man pulled in a little fish and released it. Five minutes later he caught another. Ten minutes later another.

That was when I started paying attention to my husband. Cast after cast after cast, he caught nothing. That’s not exactly true. He caught an awful lot of old fishing line. He caught someone else’s old lure (and then he lost three of his own). But he didn’t catch one fish. Not one. And that young man just a few yards away caught fish after fish after fish.

I didn’t ask him about it then – something about salt and open wounds – but I was intrigued to see how he would deal with failure in the face of someone else’s success. He was calm and measured (if a bit dismayed) and he just kept casting.

That kind of thing would eat away at me. All of the negative self-defeating questions would seep into my head:

What is wrong with me? What am I doing wrong? Why am I not being successful? Am I just a failure? Why do I even bother?

Maybe I should just give up.

But he didn’t give up. He doesn’t give up. Some days he makes great catches and some days he catches nothing, and he never knows which kind of day it will be before he takes out his rods, but he still goes. Why? Because he doesn’t just love catching fish. He loves fishing. He loves the lures and the casting and the technique. He does love catching fish, but that is not what draws him back again and again and again. What draws him back is the recognition that he will never catch a fish unless his line is in the water and the knowledge that everything can change on the next cast. But he knows by now that some days the fish just don’t bite.

Some days the fish just don’t bite. But that doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you, or that you are doing something wrong, or that you are a failure. Some days the fish just don’t bite. So whatever it is you are fishing for in your life, keep casting your line into the water. It’s the only way you will ever catch a fish. Don’t sell your poles or donate them to Goodwill over a few bad fishing trips. Your luck could change on the next cast.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels

 

Still

I am afraid to be still, because in the stillness I feel fear, I feel despair, I feel inadequate, I feel exposed, I feel alone.

NB. I talk about God in this one, y’all.

Psalms 46:10 Be still, and know that I am God.

Be still.

I don’t know when I became afraid of silence. I used to be able to curl up with a good book, or The Good Books and read for hours, immersing myself in other worlds with only my own inner voice for company. I used to be able to sit and think about life, about the world, about God.

I don’t know when it started, but I am afraid to be alone with myself – with my thoughts. I haven’t read a book in . . . months? I speed through my daily prayers and daily scripture study as fast as possible. When I am alone, there is always something on in the background: television, or music. I am afraid to be still, because in the stillness I feel fear, I feel despair, I feel inadequate, I feel exposed, I feel alone.

I’m afraid that the memory of everything that has happened in the last six months will catch up to me and like a tidal wave crash over me and pull me out to sea. I can’t survive against that undertow.

“Be still, and know that I am God.”

I used to think that this scripture meant, “stop complaining, stop worrying, I am God. I have this covered.” But lately I have begun to wonder if it doesn’t mean, “I am found in the stillness. That is how you can really come to know who I AM.” What if my fear of stillness is keeping me from really coming to know Him?

Know that I am God.

I already know that He is God. I have not seen Him, but I feel that He is there. He answers my prayers. But I think that I sometimes forget that He is GOD.

In the stillness, the tidal wave of fear may crash over me and drag me out to sea. In the stillness, I may not be able to fight the undertow, but He is God. He walks on water. He calms tempests. He can pull me back to shore.

In the stillness, I may not be able to fight the feelings of despair about the turn my life has taken as the despair threatens to swallow me whole, but He is God. He saved Jonah from the belly of the whale that swallowed him. He will give me hope and save me from despair.

In the stillness, I may feel inadequate but he is God. He can take a few fishes and a few loaves of bread and feed an army. He will strengthen my weaknesses.

In the stillness, I may feel exposed, but He is God. He strengthens the arms of shepherd boys to slay giants. He parts seas. He will protect me.

In the stillness, I may feel isolated and alone, but He is God. He understands better than anyone isolation and loneliness. He will comfort me.

We have so many things demanding our attention and that makes it is easy to fill our lives so full that we never have to face ourselves in the stillness. But by doing so, we will not know Him. He is found in the stillness. We just have to have the faith to be still through the fear, and the inadequacy, and the loneliness in order to find Him. And when He pulls us back to shore and gives us hope and strengthens our weaknesses and protects us and comforts us, then we will truly know that He is God.