Lessons from the bunny trail…

Good day my friend. First, let me share this quote by Brian Herbert, “The capacity to learn is a gift; the ability to learn is a skill; the willingness to learn is a choice.” Hmm, there’s that word again – CHOICE. That word is like a little fairy sprite who has been flitting on and off my radar for years. I like it. I’m glad to know that word and I’m even “gladder” (not an incorrect word by the way – however, it may be unfamiliar enough to be taken as such, but I digress!) If you choose to hang around me long enough you’ll surely notice that’s what I do. I digress. Like, a lot. And in case you don’t know, that’s called a “bunny trail” – it is when someone is sharing information and gets off topic. I’ve been this way my entire life. I used to think it was my fatal flaw, until I learned to just relax and embrace the lessons from the bunny trail. They’re there, you know, and you get to find those little treasures if you’ll seek them. Maybe reading this blog right now is a bunny trail for you, hmm? Were you online doing something else and now somehow you’re here, making friends with the self appointed queen of the bunny trails? If so, welcome to my world!

WARNING: the following words are my own experiences. I should tell you I’m no licensed therapist or doctor and I’ve been accused of living a sort of a fairytale life, with strange ideas and big dreams. It’s a place where my imagination can chase away every evil thing with one name: JESUS. I can close my eyes and think of eternity in Heaven with Jesus my Savior and it brings me great joy and incredible peace. I go to a place inside my own mind where a place that may not make sense to the rest of the world, but I’m not trying to make sense of things that I’m believing for by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God, according to His own Word. I’m just trying to make it through today with zero drama although sometimes I feel like Alice in Wonderland – not just when she fell down that rabbit hole but because she kept going even when things didn’t make sense. She spoke to the Queen and said she couldn’t believe for impossible things, and the Queen replied, “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” Thats me – I’m the Queen.

How do I ever make progress in life if I keep going down all the bunny trails? The constant distractions could potentially cause great anxiety or depression if I focused on how often or how far I’ve gotten off track. But anxiety is a liar, and it is not from God, so I reject it- it’s that simple for me. The second it starts niggling at the back of my mind – I flick it away – if not it would rise up and swallow me whole. Crushing anxiety in her tiny vulnerable beginning is how I wrote an entire novel. It is how I was able to raise a family, be faithfully married for almost thirty years and learn anything while resting at the feet of Jesus. The anxious distractions called to me, but I ghosted them and tried to focus. Sometimes I actually have to set a timer for five minutes (or more – or less) and I just choose to stay focused until the timer goes off. So how in the world did I teach a child (or three) how to read and write and do arithmetic? (I homeschooled our three children, by the way.) I accomplished all these things and more as a very distractible human because of my choices. Also because I pay attention to words and I choose to learn from them. Remember that quote from the beginning of today’s blog post about the willingness to learn? I choose to learn something new every day by reading. I love to read – to be more specific I love to read God’s words.

I’m going to have to make this clear from the start of our relationship – you and me – I’m a word nerd. If you understand that label and you’re still reading this, I’m pretty much going with the assumption that you are not here by coincidence? You might be a word nerd too! Or maybe you’re just curious what it feels like to be inside the mind of chaos. It feels like living in the eye of a storm. Big storms actually, like catastrophic event storms that destroyed things or washed things clear away. I’ll share more on that in a different post. But today I’m inviting you to come over to this little blog I’m building Word by word. I’d love to have you come back as often as you want for a few new words, some thoughts and hopefully a whole heap of inspiration that you can take back to your part of the world and share with your people. Remember the song from your childhood, “this little light of mine…”? Well that kinda’ describes my blog. It’s my little piece of cyberspace. Like one tiny star in a huge galaxy- I’m here to glow in this present darkness. My Source of light is not my own. It is a reflection of the LOVE OF GOD – who’s Holy Spirit is my inspiration. I hope you’re getting in on this stuff (inspiration) because it’s the sweetest stuff like donuts and coffee – without the caffeine buzz and the calories.

I want to be that friend who tells you the truth in love. If you’re reading this blog may you find encouragement (not confusion) by the end of our time together. Today (or tonight depending on when you’re reading this) is good – but its only good because this is the day that The Lord has made. I WILL rejoice and BE GLAD in it (by choice) and you can too! Life is a series of choices, and we are all responsible for the consequences of our choices.

I’ve chosen to publish this blog for both of us because I have a story (or a few) to tell and I hope to encourage you with my musings. You have a story too. Do you realize you are the author of your own story? Do you want to live happily ever after? Then take responsibility for your own personal happiness. You can, you know. You alone have the power to make that happen. Don’t get discouraged when the tough times come, they are coming. They’re coming and they’ll strengthen you if you let them, but that is only if you persevere. There’s going to be some bad times, some sad times and some hard times too and for those times you might need help (you will DEFINITELY need help) so ask for it. I’ve been blessed to have some care givers in my life who see passed my , “I’m fine!” (Lies). We all need to manage our own personal thoughts about life and about how other people’s choices are affecting us. Mean people suck. That’s the ugly truth (and an offensive word), but I’ll make you a promise right now: I’ll keep this blog free from swear words, I’m not promising I never say them, but I’ll share with you what my Poppa used to say, “keep your words soft and sweet – someday you may have to eat them!” So no swear words, pinky promise. Oh, and I guess I should also mention: I have a history of recreational drug abuse – I dabbled in some stupid stuff in my late teens/early twenties. I’m not proud of that, but I’m not ashamed to admit it either because I’ve been clean and sober now for 28 years. That said, I’m not willing to let anything come between me and my sobriety. Nothing. My sobriety just so happens to coincide with motherhood. For the record: I do NOT recommend getting pregnant as a 12 step recovery program (certainly not three times in a row like I did). That would be really stupid and irresponsible, but I digress. I do that a lot. Get off track as well as do stupid irresponsible things sometimes- but I’m going to call those life lessons. I get off track a lot, I’m prone to wander. We all are. Hence the title of this blog, “Lessons from the bunny trail…”

You can choose to believe that the bad times will pass, you might need to work through them to get passed them, but on the other side of the bad will come the good. You appreciate the good times more when you’ve been through the bad. Victory is sweeter after a losing streak – I don’t know why, that’s just the way life is. So don’t try to dive into the stupid stuff (like I did) but don’t sit on the sidelines wishing you had experienced the game either!

Same with the sad stuff. Don’t get stuck in the sad. You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness, did you know that? (Did you just sing that last line in your head? I sang it out loud!) That’s not just a catchy phrase in a song, it’s true. Sadness will stick around as long as you let her. Sometimes you actually need to lead her straight to the door and give her a push. Guess how I know? I’ve allowed myself to indulge in her company and become addicted to her. It’s weird I know, but let me be the one to tell you that addiction can drive people away from you and leave you lonely and it can make you mean. But that’s your choice. No one wants to chill with a drama queen, or a grumpy person. I’m telling you this truth in love, because someone else has shared it with me. I had a therapist shed the light of truth into the darkest corridors of my mind. It was uncomfortable but cleaning out the cobwebs is essential and nothing to fear. So if you’ve been sad for more than a few days or a week or a month – talk to your doctor about it because I am not a doctor. And I’m not talking about clinical depression right now. Or grieving the death of someone you love. Or trauma. Those are big baddies, the bad stuff you’re going to need help with. That’s gonna take you being kind and patient with your own grieving process. Just don’t get stuck in it. I’m not telling you to just get over it, but you can get through grieving and depression when you’re ready. Don’t try to rush it, but just don’t get stuck in the trauma. Good news here: some stuff you CAN just decide to get over and GUESS WHAT? You will be better off just letting go of sadness, she’s a drama queen and she’s not your friend. When you cultivate the relationship with sadness it won’t end well for you. I promise you that. The stinkin’ thinkin’ has got to stop.

You cannot control everything thing, but your thoughts are one hundred percent yours. You get to control your thoughts. It takes a lot of practice, and it’s It’s a huge challenge for me because I have a crowded brain. I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder and I get easily distracted staying OFF the bunny trail is really, really challenging for me. In fact most of my life has been lived of the bunny trail. I make a plan, it gets derailed. I get back on task – and, “SQUIRREL!” My doctor prescribed meds to help me stay focused a few years back, but there were side effects. I was also prescribed anti-depressant meds for a while but the negative side effects always outweighed the benefits so I decided with the help of my doctor that they were not the answer for me. And quite honestly I just didn’t want to become dependent on a drug to make me think straight for the rest of my life. Also, I’m not comfortable loaning my brain to a pharmaceutical company for years only to realize that the drug they created has been recalled a few years later after people had to deal with the sometimes serious side effects. Call me jaded or paranoid, but hey – it has happened and I don’t want it happening to me. Instead of trying to fix my “faulty wiring” I’m choosing o embrace it.

Sometimes I realize (often after I reach a goal or destination) that I got off track. I made it harder than it needed to be, but the lessons learned along the way were priceless! I have made a lifetime of “failing forward” so when I start having that silly stinkin’ thinking’ like, “oh no, I’m so far behind” our “I’m so distracted and so far off the beaten path- I don’t even know the way to get back on track”. I nip those thoughts in the bud by asking God to show me the lesson on the bunny trail! I have learned to enjoy the view on the “bunny trails” of my life and stop and ask Father God, “What are you teaching me here Lord? What do you want me to learn? Who am I supposed to minister to? If I’m way off track, forgive me Father for YOU KNOW I’M PRONE TO WANDER, but I’m YOUR LITTLE LAMB- draw me Lord and put me back where YOU want me! Oh Father BIND MY WANDERING HEART TO THEE!”

I am writing this blog – to encourage you (and myself if I’m going to be totally transparent with you). You alone can decide to take responsibility right now and change whatever situation you find yourself in. I am an expert at doing just that. Let me introduce myself, I am Shawnie and I have been battling the darkness pretty consistently now for over fifty-two years. It is exhausting some days – I am not even going to try to say staying positive and encouraged in this present dark world we live is an easy thing to do because it is not, but I can assure you I’m not giving up on joy. Joy is not a “one and done” experience – we get to experience joy whenever we choose.

I met with a few ladies yesterday who did not believe me when I told them that I was an introvert. I shared with them the fact that I battle depression and they acted surprised. I have known these ladies for several years. But they only see the me I portray, not the inner me. They don’t get to know my inner thoughts (and all the saints said, “glory hallelujiah”!). They don’t know the girl who bullies herself and rarely feels like she measures up to the world’s standards. The girl who is prone to wander off topic and follow bunny trails when I have conversations out loud with people or even the inner chatter that races, switches gears or slams on the breaks when she’s just done. The know the girl who just wants to be filled with joy and peace, and dance in the sunshine! Even some of my closest friends think I am an extrovert and they thought perhaps I did not understand the meaning of the word “introvert”. Oh, but I do. Here are a couple of definitions that helped me understand the word “introvert’ (pay close attention to the definition of the word “reticent”): 1. Introvert[ˈintrəˌvərt]NOUN a shy, reticent person. 2.Reticent[ˈredəsənt]ADJECTIVE not revealing one’s thoughts or feelings readily. Another definition I found for an introvert according to introvertdear.com is “someone who prefers calm, minimally simulating environments. Introverts tend to feel drained after socializing and regain their energy by spending time alone. This is largely because introvert’s brains respond to dopamine differently than an extrovert’s brain.” Yeah that describes me perfectly. My friends and even some of my family members don’t know how often I battle that inner mean girl. They don’t hear from the girl in my head who belittles and bullies me pretty consistently and truth be told has opinions I don’t want to agree with. I sound crazy, don’t I? I’m willing to risk that. Letting my crazy peek out doesn’t give me anxiety- I’ve got nothing to hide if it’s going to benefit another person. I’m not afraid of being judged by others because quite honestly the bullies I’ve battled for years are just shadows and so are judgements. IF PEOPLE ARE JUDGING ME – WELL, THAT’S THEIR BUSINESS! I don’t allow myself to indulge in the question of what other people think? I honestly don’t worry about that. I care about what God thinks about me. Understanding who we are and how we are wired by God and accepting that as a gift helps us to be kinder to ourselves, don’t you think? I used to think I “should be” more outgoing, so I learned how to act like an extrovert, but that is not how God created me. I have raised (and homeschooled) three children, and now I am blessed with four grandchildren. As I watch these tiny humans grow and mature one thing is certain – each one is wired differently and I love each one of them individually and equally.

I believe other people’s opinions and my own anxious thoughts are simply shadows. They’re just like the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz when I pulled back the curtain and revealed the truth, that inner chatter has to bow to Jesus Christ. He runs this show. His Holy Spirit teaches and guides me. It is Him I answer to. I have learned how to take control over the inner chatter and put her in time out, but she’s there brooding in the corner of my mind waiting to blurt out her opinions at any given moment. I’ve been known to put my tongue between my front two teeth and bite down hard in order to take control of my tongue and the potential it has to become a weapon of mass destruction. The Bible calls that taming the tongue. It’s also a form of self control. Thank God I have cultivated the fruit of self control which is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit who is my gift from God. I don’t know who’s reading this or where you might be sprititually, but a christian receives the gift of the Holy Spirit once they ask Jesus to become the Lord over their life and accept His gift of salvation. Its a pretty sweet exchange, but you only get this exchange by having a relationship with Jesus Christ. If you don’t believe me – ask Him for yourself. He turns no one away who humbles themself to Him. In my experience without Holy Spirit I’d still just be a pretender, a wannabe’ Christian – it is Holy Spirit who guides and directs and teaches me – My Comforter – The One who sticks closer than a brother. Without Holy Spirit I’m pretty sure I would not have self control and I probably would not be writing this. I might not even be alive, who knows? But I am, and so are you. So let’s choose to live. I mean really live. Let’s live this one wonderful life – this gift- ON PURPOSE FOR GOD’S GLORY. I’m going doing it one day at a time. Will you? It’s your choice.


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