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By Lauri Mackey — 7 years ago2013 FireOut of the Ashes We Can Find HopeThis story of hope begins in 2013, when our county experienced a terrible fire. We were evacuated from our homes on a moment’s notice. The picture you see below with billowing orange smoke bombs was taken from my friends camera as we stopped to look back, perhaps for the last time on our neighborhood. I remember calling my mom while sitting in the long line of cars trying to leave and telling her of the situation. She expressed concern and told me to stay safe, but when I sent her that picture, she freaked out! It’s a lesson learned on how pictures speak louder than words. My husband and I truly thought that our home would be gone and that we would be starting from scratch. At the time, it just didn’t matter. I had just driven out of there with flames on the side of the road consuming trees that were 100 feet tall. I was alive, he was alive, I had rescued our kitties and our daughter had been at school. All was well as far as I was concerned.This particular fire burned hot and fast. It consumed everything in its path and in the end burned over 24,000 acres from a little valley, crossing the mountain range and ending at the ocean. Everything was black, sad and black. The smell of smoke and ash would be our constant companion for weeks. Words could not describe what we saw. We had people come drive out to see us and not truly get what had happened until they saw it for themselves. It is now just over two years as I write this and our beautiful mountains still carry the scars of this fire.The firefighters were the true heroes of the day. They miraculously saved our entire housing community. They had used our hose as our house faces a hill that was burned. A tree was knocked down by a fire truck. Trees surrounding the outskirts of the neighborhood were singed and blackened from the fire, but every home was safe. How was that possible? I saw the fire as I left. I saw the crazy big flames and felt the heat so hot that I had to roll up my car windows to not feel like I was getting burned. I had zero hope.(Our housing surrounded by blackened hills)As I look back, I’ve likened this very physical and temporal experience to a spiritual battle I had in my own life. So much is the same. The darkness was real and hope was not on my radar. Not so much as a little blip on the screen. When I read the saying that someone had “temporarily turned the light off at the end of the tunnel”, I could completely relate. (Stay with me now, because I found that silly little light-switch to turn on my own light!)Now, unlike the fire, I have no one to blame but myself. I made choices that brought me to that tunnel without a supposed light and had removed myself so far out there that my radar was actually damaged and couldn’t see that blip that turns out, was just hiding, not gone. Part of my lesson was realizing that I didn’t know how dark things had become. When you make wrong choices, consistently over a long period of time, they become your reality. My tunnel light had not been turned off, but there was so much smoke I had created that it just wasn’t visible to me anymore.My dark choices will not be the same as yours. We all have our own enemies to fight so I won’t bore you with the details of my battles, but I did win this particular war. The only way to win the war is to do exactly the opposite of what got you there to begin with. In my case, that meant not making decisions on my own. If I had tried to battle our physical fire around our homes I would have lost! I did not have the skills or expertise in that field. Everyone would have suffered the loss of their homes. The firefighters were the experts. I needed an expert in life. That meant turning to my spiritual power of prayer and getting on my knees and begging God to help me. He was my firefighter and I needed all of his expertise and knowledge of life to help me fight. All of my choices had brought me to that place…dark, lonely, afraid, sorely sad, and just plain miserable. Surely God could help me make better decisions than the ones I had been making.And indeed he did. It took some time, but I am grateful for my experiences I have had in my life. They have made me who I am today. Just like our mountains, I carry the scars from those days, but I believe, “A mended heart is stronger”. They remind me see that if I can make it…anyone can! I truly mean that with all my heart and soul. Ladies, if I can make it…so can you!Some people see the fires that burn hot and fast, while others experience a slow burn, but my goal in writing this blog today is to give you hope. Hope that you can become a magical electrician and wire your own switch for a light at the end of your tunnel. Hope that you see the sun and feel the warmth on your skin and in your soul. Hope that you find a flashlight along the way. Hope that your friend can loan you a flashlight until you can locate yours. Hope that out of your darkness and ashes, you rise like the fabled Phoenix to start again, renewed and strengthened for your journey ahead. Because once you are on that path, you need to loan your flashlight to others who can’t see their light and help them on their journey.Yours in Hope and Positivity…#makelemonade
By John Greywitt — 3 years ago
Bite Size Chunks
Now that you’ve Dreamed Big and had some time to Reflect, it’s time to set your actual goals by breaking them down into Bite Size Chunks. This year I decided I wanted to make my goals more fun instead of stodgy. I changed my goal title from Lauri’s Goals to Lauri’s Promises. I changed the Relationships category to Family Focus, Physical to Physical Well-being and Playtime, Financial to Abundant Wealth Prowess, Education to Cultivating Enlightenment, Spiritual to Soul Solutions. I even added two new categories this year: Creativity and my favorite? Recess!
Not only am I adding in more fun this year, but I have two pages of promises and this might help you, too. One set is a Promises Summary where it states my goals. The second set (and this is where the bite-size chunks come in) breaks down those promises into actual action steps. How will I accomplish my goals?
Let me share one with you so you get the idea.
Under my Recess Category I have a goal for a Weekly Date with guess who? Me! One my first set of Promises where it is a summary, it simply says, Weekly Dates with Myself. On the second set I have it broken out to say that not only will I have a weekly date with myself, but I will alternate each week from an evening to a daytime date. I have ideas written of a few dates I’ve done in the past and enjoyed and some I think might be fun. Not all of my dates have been a hit, by the way. Some felt as a downright waste of my time by the end, but consistency keeps me moving forward in the right direction so that I keep taking time for myself. Last week I simply set a date to pull out all of my stamp collection, see how much they were worth right now and make a list of a couple of collections I’d like to complete and added it to my wishlist for friends and family for my birthday and Christmas (yes, I’m the OCD one when it comes to lists and preparation…I always have a wishlist going! You should to!)
Now is time for YOUR action step.
You’ve Dreamed Big, you’ve Reflected on past goals that have and haven’t worked for you and where you are now. You are ready to make your Promises, but more importantly, ready to break them down into Bite Size Chunks so that you can actually see yourself accomplishing your goals.
Next week? The last piece of the puzzle to help you accomplish your goals or promises – Accountability. I’ll tell you that I’ve never taken this step before until this year and what I’ve done to make it happen for me.
Please leave a comment below and share one of your promises for this year. I love hearing from you!
By Lauri Mackey — 6 years agoA Letter to My GramBeing Sad and MadOur name for her was “Gram”. She was my mother’s mother who was born September 3rd, 1926 and adopted from an orphanage in Los Angeles when she was 5 years old. Her adoption records are sealed and so we might never know who her birth parents were, but the couple that adopted her were ever so kind and she grew up with loving parents in a beautiful home with lots of opportunities.She married, had four children, two girls and then two boys with a big gap between the girls and boys. For example, my uncle was in kindergarten when I was born and he had to bring something to class that started with the letter ‘B’. He brought me because I was a baby! She had a love for horses, dogs, and cats and made the best snickerdoodles you ever tasted. She always had cars that were fast and usually red even though she didn’t drive them fast. She didn’t have a lot to say, but I loved it when she laughed.Her house was always neat as a pin. We visited her more often as children and she always came to our house for Christmas bringing McDonald’s gift certificates for all of us. I have pictures of her at a few special occasions such as my 8th grade graduation and when I was first married. I remember meeting her for lunch at the Smorgy or The Depot in Oroville, CA for lunch.She was not what I would call a playful grandma like my mother is now for her grandchildren. In truth, it is because my Gram was not very involved that I believe my mother has been so determined to be in her grandchildren’s lives and is doing an incredible job…she makes me exhausted! Being a new Gram myself, I appreciate her efforts even more.This last Sunday morning I received news that my Gram had passed away. I was surprised that I was sad. I was more surprised that I was mad. Over the last 15 or so years, my Gram had alienated every single one of her family members and any friends she may have had.I am mostly sad over the years that were already lost. I am mad that she let this happen. I am confused because I simply don’t understand it all. I’ve sent birthday cards every year, emailing her on her birthday as well. I sent Christmas cards, all with no response.There will not be a funeral, no one would come. She pre-paid to be cremated and have her ashes spread over the fields where some wild horses roam around the place she last lived.In the wake of her passing the last few days, I have thought much about the circumstances that brought her to such a sad place. How awful it must have been to lead such a small and selfish life. It also got me thinking about all the good she brought into this world.She was an excellent mother to her children. She sewed beautiful dresses for my mom and aunt. She took them on camping trips and supported them in all they did. My aunt had excellent advice to remember her how she was and not who she became. On that note, I add a story she wrote to her granddaughters when I was 12 years old. It shows how much she cared in those days to be a wonderful Gram.She was my last living grandparent. I am her first grandchild and oldest granddaughter. I am here because she lived. I am grateful for her love of life in her younger years. I am grateful for her quiet moments. I am grateful for the afghan she crocheted for me. I am grateful for a couple pieces of jewelry she thought to give me about 20 years ago. I am grateful for her talent in the kitchen and what I hope I have inherited of her talent for storytelling.Thank you for being patient as I write this on my blog this week. I promise to have some more uplifting thoughts next week, but such as in life, there are ups and downs. Please take a moment after reading my Gram’s little story, The Day My Dolls Danced, and get in touch with someone you haven’t talked to in much too long. You know who it is…please do it. Leave a mark…no, leave a legacy.May 13, 1983To my sweet granddaughters: Lauri, Holly, Heather & Sarah.In this, the Springtime of your lives, may you still enjoy a fairytale.Much love from your “Gram”
THE DAY MY DOLLS DANCEDIt had been a long and busy day but the house sparkled and the clothes were washed and put away. There was an apple pie fresh from the oven, warm and spicy, for special dessert that evening. There was some time left before I needed to start dinner so I decided to take a little rest. I went into my bedroom, took off my shoes, closed the drapes and lay down on the bed.As I always do before closing my eyes, I looked at each of my little dolls, 14 in all, that stood on the shelf above my vanity. There was another larger doll that stood on the vanity. They were all dressed elegantly in long gowns of pink, blue, green, yellow, and lavender and I had given each of them a name; Jasmine from Japan, Heidi from Holland, my Irish girl Colleen, Cherie from France, Ann from Israel. Joining them were Leah, Honey, April, Sarah, Shirley, Lauri, Heather, Sunshine, Holly and my tall Southern Belle – Elaine. They were my little girls, dainty and sweet and beautiful.My eyelids grew heavy and just as I was drifting off to sleep I heard faint tapping sounds coming from where my dolls stood on the shelf. To my astonishment, the tiny ladies had come to life and are taking off their shoes! I wondered if perhaps I were dreaming but I lay very still and waited to see what would happen next.After each girl had removed her shoes she placed them side-by-side in the exact place that she stood on the shelf. Then one-by-one they tiptoed to the ends of the shelf and let themselves down the turned posts on either side of the mirror to the vanity below. Each girl in turn went to a small cart of silk flowers that stood on the table, selected a flower that matched the color of her gown, and laid it at the feet of Elaine, as though she were their queen. Elaine smiled and nodded to each lady in acceptance of their tributes.After their acknowledgement to their queen, the girls became carefree and playful, darting among the bottles of perfume and playing hide-and-seek with one another. While they were occupied with their games, I very quietly turned on my radio to music that seemed to match their bright spirits. They were startled and seemed almost fearful at the sound. Then, quite suddenly, my vanity became their stage and I was about to become an audience of one at a Ballet of the Dolls!Their tiny bodies moved with charm and grace and their joy at dancing was reflected in the sweetness of their faces. I was completely absorbed in the performance when suddenly, outside, a dog barked rudely. The dancing ended abruptly and the little ladies glanced my way, but I stayed very still. I was hoping they would decide it was safe to continue to dance, but the spell was broken. They scurried to put everything back into proper order. One-by-one, they returned to their Queen Elaine, curtsied and picked up the flowers and put them back in the cart, then made their way up the turned posts to the shelf. Each girl returned to her own pair of shoes, slipped them on, smoothed her gown and hair, smiled sweetly at their queen, then became motionless once again.Quietly I turned off the radio and marveled at the sight I had just been privileged to see, and hope that sometime I will see them come to life and play and dance on my vanity once again. Perhaps I had just dreamed the whole interlude. It would be quite fantastic to see dolls come to life and dance on the vanity. It must have been my imagination working overtime.Several days passed and one evening as I prepared for bed, I noticed a tiny object lying on my vanity. I picked it up and discovered that it was a shoe! I was very excited because I realized that I hadn’t been dreaming and it wasn’t my imagination and that my little ladies did really come to life after all! I laid the tiny shoe carefully on the shelf above, turned off the light and went to bed. I wondered if, perhaps, they would dance this night.The next day was house-cleaning time and as I reached up to dust the shelf where my girls stood, the little shoe was not there! I carefully picked up each doll and to my amazement, their shoes were all on their feet! They had indeed come to life and danced again while I slept. I felt a little sad that I hadn’t seem them. However, my ladies had known that once I had watched them dance and play, for as I turned to dust my radio, there, lying on the top was a lovely silk flower, a gift from my little girls!