The Next Journey

I look in the mirror for signs of aging. After all, this week I turned another year older.

I wonder if someone’s hair really can go grey overnight. You know, when they are terribly stressed or frightened. I think it’s true, but  I’ll never know for sure… this is one area of vanity I’ve COMPLETELY caved into.

But its proven true—as people go through rough stuff, it often shows signs of age on them.

Thinking back over the last year and exorbitant stress during my last 365 days—I stand at the 10x magnification mirror, questioning why I suddenly have tear-rimmed eyes. Is it exhaustion? Sorrow? Gratitude? Or maybe it’s just the bitter-sweetness of it all.

I study the lines at the outer edge of my eyes. The deeply set furrow in my brow. The purplish shadow and crease under my eyes. The submission to gravity taken on at the corners of my mouth. Am I too critical on myself, or has the last year actually taken a toll on me?

I leave the mirror and leaf through six Moleskine journals. Yes, this year required six. And that’s not even counting the 100+ pages of art journaling and drawings. And roughly 100,000 words of various published written works.

And then there are the books and scripture read. Clearly this last year I’ve been given the gift of time to process much. Enough to feel like I’ve been on a strange time-shift, where I live ten years of heartache, words, work, and wisdom. And now I’m back…and only one year has passed.

It’s been good. And yet it HAS been absolutely, without a doubt, the hardest year of my life. And truthfully there are things I would change if I could. Cruel, senseless, people only thinking of themselves. How I’ve been cruel to others—and myself—and God—and things that I would try to change or avoid. But for the most part—the hard and terrible parts that I’m not going to ramble about here—I accept and see how I couldn’t have gotten to HERE—this new year of my life—without the prior THERE.

This last year I’ve learned ten years of lessons through heartache, suffering, shame, and confusion. And I have gained so much that I am thankful (but please….no more).

In this last year, here are just some of the truths I’ve taken to heart. Straight from and unedited from the stack of journals this last year.

  • Sometimes, everything goes good. Notice it. Give thanks. Savor it…no matter how small it is.
  • Forgiveness is the hallway between the doors of the past and the future. Go through the hallway.
  • If someone makes me feel “less” than before I was around them…consider if I should be around them. It’s okay to make that boundary.
  • External voices and the pressures of the world will drown out the still small voice inside me that speaks the Truth. I must take time and whatever space I need to hear that voice. I must honor that voice. It is sacred. It is God.
  • I am not a hostage of my past and those in it.
  • It’s never too late to start over.
  • Make a commitment to work, to do good, and then just trust God to bless it.
  • My life is my responsibility. No one else’s. Period.
  • Coulda, shoulda, woulda is a stupid way to live and think.
  • I am the ingredient God needs to put my life into purpose. I need to be willing to do the work, the hard work. God needs me to make my life what it is meant to be. Just cooperate. Pray for and find courage.
  • Drop ALL shame. Feel guilt if appropriate AND then learn. But most importantly do NOT wear shame. Shame says “I’m bad”, guilt acknowledges I did something bad—but I will do better next time.
  • Too many moments, days, are wasted by comparing myself to others. Embrace my authenticity. After all, didn’t God give it to me. Just to me.
  • The opinions of others should NOT restrict the power God gives to me and can use through me.
  • I can fly. “The one who falls and gets up is so much stronger than the one who never fell.”
  • I will be okay. Somehow it has to end up okay. If it’s not okay, then it’s not done yet.

And lastly, something I learned through Patti Digh (go find out about her), was to construct simple 4-word wisdoms. Again, pulled from journals over the last year, here’s some wisdom and truth (for me).

  • Let myself cry hard.
  • Let other people in.
  • Recognize and celebrate others.
  • Speak up for someone.
  • Create my inner sanctuary.
  • Ask about their perfume.
  • Hold hands in bed.
  • Go on miracle walks.
  • Seek out amazing adventures.
  • Have a generous spirit.
  • Keep a camera handy.
  • Respect their perfect authenticity.
  • Acknowledge the good outcomes.
  • Seek Truth. Have Hope.

Thank you for being with me on this wild journey. I’m thankful. Blessed. Honored. And I truly look forward to my next 365-day journey around the sun, the truth, and the Light by which I’m guided.
Sherry Meneley Soiled Wings ©2009-2012 Sherry Meneley All Rights Reserved soiled wings create•heART create heart creativity life coach coaching art journal journaling

18 thoughts on “The Next Journey

  1. Wow, those are amazing thoughts! So much in one page – I need to read it many times to absorb the wisdom and experience….thanks, Sherry!! Happy Birthday and I wish you a year filled to the brim with God’s goodness and blessing!!

  2. Firstly, and most importantly… Happy birthday! I would pray for a day (even a year) of blessings… and perhaps easier ones than you’ve had to go through this past year
    … but I’d not want to rob you of all the richness that God has in store for you.

    I was struggling yesterday with the hard stories that seem to keep piling up. Like, Why God? Hasn’t (name) endured enough? And the more I wrestle with all of this, the more I come to the certainty that the pain is part of the gift. God never promised me a smooth trip. quite the opposite… I was warned to expect all sorts of opposition and persecution. But I signed up anyway. Because there was a promise that I would never be left alone… That was the promise that made all the difference.

    My wife is amazed at the speed at which my hair has changed from black to grey…. all the hardness of life can drive the youthful vitality from us. But I know that I have never had to face those obstacles alone. God is always there. And more than that…. along the way he brings us into connection with fellow travellers who can inspire, challenge, comfort and convict us. And for those gifts I rejoice and sing and (gasp) even dance!

    Sherry, thank you for your words for the way… thank you for your courage and perseverance. You are a rich blessing to many… all through God’s grace.

  3. You did it again…hit the nail on the head! So nice to see that there is something better and this monsoon will end. Do I have Hope? Not today, but maybe someday.

    • hope. it’s is a hard one…for sure! I will fully admit that.
      It’s the lesson I keep trying and I’m so far from having it down. But knowing it’s something I need to work on, is a good thing over all. Lindsay maybe your 4-word wisdom could be: “Learn to feel hope” (because I do think it’s something we have to learn, and it’s a scary thing to try, and trust)

  4. I’m reading your words thinking my own crazy and selfish thoughts…

    “I wish I could live next door to Sherry”

    And then I reach the end and realize– I already do.

    Blessed by you. Such richness that flows…

  5. Thank you so much for your words of wisdom. I have gone through a horrible 2 1/2 years, but it is beginning to be better every day. We have cried, just survived, and loved each other deeply. I can’t tell you all of it here, but the crisis has been one deep enough to reach through us to the tips of our toes and pull us inside out. My experience has been to honestly find who I am…who I am! We were never promised a free ride. What we do with the ride has everything to do with who we are. It has been good to meet you through your words.

    I would love to calligraph your four word phrases in a one up original piece. Please let me know if this is okay with you. My email is I am a master calligrapher.

    Again, your words are so beautiful. More people need to see them as they are life giving. Bless you.

  6. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world mistake! I love and hate that all at the same time….boy, life is easier when I “let go and let God!”

  7. Oh Sherry! I find myself saying yes, yes, yes on so many levels! Bittersweet, yes! “where I live ten years of heartache, words, work, and wisdom. And now I’m back…and only one year has passed, yes!, “It’s been good. And yet it HAS been absolutely, without a doubt, the hardest year of my life. And truthfully there are things I would change if I could. Cruel, senseless, people only thinking of themselves” (I am inwardly shouting Yes!!!) And then forgive my honesty, but I read the next part about you being cruel, and I wonder what would it have been like if I was cruel in return? I tell myself, “Don’t go there.” Thankful, yes, but please no more, oh yes! Yet I don’t let the words (please no more) come off my tongue, instead I surrender and say not my will but Yours be done God, knowing that statement is loaded with more heartache and even greater blessing. And then you put the cherry on top with the “what I have learned” and four word wisdom! You bless me! Thank you for your vulnerability and wisdom!

    • Christine… you are welcome. every bit of it. I’ve learned much, and still have so far to go (because I’m about as stubborn as the donkey gets)

  8. My dear friend I just run out of wrods to say to you (I know I use WOW too much but your work and words constantly WOW me). I have learned so much from you as I watched (and at times, was a part of) your past journey. God blessed me the day he brought you into my life and for that, and you, I am very grateful. Thank you for sharing and helping myself and so many others. ❤ you.

  9. You are always a blessing to me… to read about what God is showing you, to see you experience and be reflective about it.

    There are few people in life that I get a tinge of jealously wishing I was more like them- you are one of them. I check myself and remember God made me who I am and I need to be me even if my art journal pictures look like deformed humanoid instead of something I would show to others… yes, I have been trying to draw.

    I don’t want to ever be like the perfect people – the ones that most people esteem to be like – no, I pick the original ones, the ones that know after God made them he broke the mold, and the ones that are creatively seeking their expression and place in day to day and big picture purposes.

    For me you are one of these special precious people that are joyfully feeling, quirky unique and real-to-life–the best kinds of people in the word.


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