Welcome to A Life Examined

What is the examined life? A life worth living! As I look at the road ahead, I take all the baggage from the past and use it as experience - the pain and the passion, the sorrow and the joy - allowing it to carve wisdom into my mind and hope into my spirit.
There is no experience that can't be useful to me at some point in my life. There is no lesson learned that cannot make a contribution to the future.
A tiny drop of water is a part of the ocean. A tiny speck in the night sky is a ginormous star in the distance. It all depends on perspective.
So, this examined life is to offer reflections in the hope of discussing things which are of value to myself and to others.
Love, Sarah

Thursday, 20 November 2014

New Beginnings - Part 6: What is the ultimate fresh start?

My Wedding Day

In a few days' time I will witness a wedding between two lovely people, as they agree to become one in spirit.

Two most obvious circumstances that represent new life come at birth and at marriage. But new life may also spring from any major change: confirmation, graduation, a new job, or a new home. 'Firsts' mark new beginnings: the first time you buy your own clothes, the first job, the first mortgage, the first baby - these are a few markers of change, responsibility and maturity. Card shops even encourage a new take on tragedies such as divorce, and encourage us to see the beauty and majesty when a loved one dies. Almost any change then, is a spark toward the new - the new being a trigger for positive feelings and hope.

While I'm in the process of experiencing the upheaval and excitement of a transcontinental move, I will pause and gaze at the newlyweds, who are full of hope, anticipation and the challenges of a new life together. I will look forward in my life with its own quirks, and will reflect back on the good fortunes and surprises life has given me. Yet, at such a time as this, nothing quite compares to the enthusiastic confidence between a couple of young adults, about to embark on momentous change: from depending on themselves to depending on each other, trusting in love, and a future full of promise. In whatever life may bring, they will stand together through it all, strong in themselves, but stronger with each other.

Next week I'll be back in Spain, with more thoughts and reflections about change, and how I manage to grapple with New Beginnings.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

New Beginnings - Part 5: Hiatus

Whirlwind Season

Makes me smile:

Wedding wonders

In my pathway to adore.

Visiting homeland

Number 2

Great Britain, great friends

And family too.

Off from Spain, to England I roam

When I'm done

I'll go back home.

Home is a new land

Adventure is near.

Home - where my furniture

Plants me for now.

Feet are stayed

On firm rock of truth:

Never forsaken

I'm looking to hope.

Feet escalating

From sand to sky to roads

Excited and feeling

Joy inside.

For wedding and wonders

Renewed ties galore

Love never-ending

Expression and release.

I'll attend the wedding

And celebrate their joy

Then go back to my new life

Ready to comply

With all of the changes

All new, fresh and real

My idea is "live,

Love, laugh.

And celebrate."

Whatever the countryside,

Language or verse

I'll climb every mountain

To gaze on this earth.

(This week I've returned back to England after a 5 year absence. It's great to be back among family and friends. Returning for the joyous occasion of the wedding of my step daughter, family and friends meet and embrace, and laugh together. It's wonderful. I hope you'll enjoy your occasions this week, be they formal or informal.)

Ready to Celebrate!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

New Beginnings - Part 4: Low Point

Mediterranean Waterfront by Sarah Tun

I reached a low point in The Adventure this past week. Someone else who has already experienced the transcontinental move to Spain calls it 'a wall'.

I felt weary at this wall, isolated and unfocused.

Have you ever felt like that? Have you ever felt defeated, disappointed, alone and weary all at once?

Some might call the feeling 'depression', though it didn't last more than a day; it was sharp but mercifully short.

The low was triggered by our finding the possibility of a new home. Was it distressing because it symbolized permanence? It should be exciting, a relief! But the near-certainty of it brought me low, I think in part because I'm aware it isn't ideal. The location is a bit isolated.

This triggered my awareness of isolation.

The low that came upon me last week was exacerbated with my son being on school holiday; home all week, we used the time for him to catch up on worked missed because he joined the school in mid-October. But my son doesn't home school well. He's a perfectionist who rushes through everything, so it's never perfect, and he's repeatedly upset.

In giving him my time and attention, I had little left for myself. My outlet is creative writing and prayerful consideration of relationships and circumstances. Without quiet and solitude, I cannot process my own thoughts and impressions. I get lost.

Last week I got lost.

Further, we've attended the same church three consecutive weeks and are beginning to engage in some meaningful conversation. But we will, by necessity, be absent for the next few weeks. Have we had a false start at relationships?

I'm feeling better now - circumstances haven't changed but I found time for peace and quiet reflection during the wee hours, while the rest of the house slept. Putting pen to paper, solitude and time with God has changed me.

Over the wall, I can now look back at it, inspect it and learn from it.

What was I experiencing during that low dip?

Lethargy. Sadness. The desire to curl up and keep warm (although the room temperature and outside temperature has been over 20 degrees Celsius). The need to be held (though human arms won't satisfy my need).

The cure? Prayer, silence, writing, and knowing I have the choice to persevere. This is the place where I find God's perspective, and the reminder of why I'm in transition in the first place: because I sought the LORD and His will. Every time I've surrendered, my life has blossomed. Why would this time bring anything different?

Now, there is praise. It came both during and after the low. For praise in what is certain lifts us out of uncertainty. And praise helps our determination. We know that this season won't last forever, that old friends are available, and new friends are around the corner.

Now isn't easy. But now is always temporary.

Until next week... may you be richly blessed, stay blessed, know yourself and enjoy being you.

Getting my toes wet by Sarah Tun

Thursday, 30 October 2014

New Beginnings Part 3 - Recognizing the blessings in a foreign land

I used to wake up to the sun. My house in Bath, Ontario, Canada overlooked Lake Ontario. Our house sat 50 feet from the lake and my bed overlooked the sunrise.

Today I drove my son to school. It's a short drive from La Cala to Fuengirola, along the Costa del Sol. I drive along the Mediterranean, facing east as I travel.

The sun rises in Spain after 8 am. Today, as every day since my son began school 9 days ago, I drove him to school and faced the red round ball as it came over the horizon. But today was special. Today I realized a blessing. I still get the sunrise in the morning.

It's a simple thing, being blessed. But often it takes us hours, days, even years to realize just how blessed you are.

I am a Christian. But you don't have to be a Christian to be blessed. You just have to realize that in every situation is the opportunity to recognize the blessing in it.

It has taken me 9 repetitions to realize I still experience sunrise every day. I love it. And I am aware, again, just how very loved I am.

God bless you all, readers. May you discover a new blessing today.

End Note: I would really value if you would consider inviting one person to join this blog. If you follow it because it comes into your inbox, or you're on Google+ and you see it there, would you consider joining it? I'd really enjoy having you 'on board'.

May you enjoy your week ahead, and until next Thursday, Buenos Tardes.

The Universal Wonder of a Beautiful Sunrise

Thursday, 23 October 2014

New Beginnings - Part 2 Personal navigation in a foreign country

I have moved country and am in the process of seeking a new home for my family and settling in. So, I have important decisions to make. How can I be sure my decisions will be the best decisions? How can I be sure to keep myself on an even keel, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

How do I navigate in a new society, where so little is familiar?

A few days ago I did the unthinkable for me: I chose random experience as my decision-making strategy. I threw two pieces of paper up in the air, each which had information for a different potential home, with the view that whichever one landed first would be the one I would pursue.

One did land before the other; I contacted the relevant realtor/estate agent to pursue that first one.

So far, I've not had a clear response from the agent connected to that property, and I continue to pursue a home through other contacts. But this was a fascinating experience -  a one-of-a-kind for me - because I am the sort of decision-maker that usually makes a decision using facts, gut instinct and prayer. I can't remember ever being so 'random'. It's one way, but not usually my way of choice, to make a decision.

Right now my family is living in a cozy, safe, quiet, pleasant apartment on the Costa del Sol. We have much to be grateful for: the climate is warm and sunny, the people are friendly, the environment is safe, we know some people from England who live here.

But have you experienced how difficult it can be to stay grounded, clear-headed, and focused, when you are not in your own home, in your familiar neighbourhood, surrounded by familiar places, people or things?

How do we navigate when we seem to have little that is familiar on which to lean?

For me, the keys are accountability and structure.

If I keep to a routine of self control in diet, exercise and prayer, it's helpful.
If I continue in my writing, my reading and my reflection, I am able to maintain my sense of identity and emotional balance.
If I continue to relate to friends from abroad (the internet makes that so easy!), stay close to my husband, and allow events to take their course rather than seeking to control my circumstances, I find I remain connected to myself in surroundings that are so new, and yet am able to enjoy discovering this new world in which I find myself.

My son has found his school. My husband has his job. They are settling in in their own ways.
And I find I have time to be myself, with you and within, which helps me to navigate through tremendous change.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

New Beginnings - Adventures through Transcontinental Moving

What does one do to settle into a new home? Magnify that by 1000 and you have a sense of what it's like to change country.

My son began in his new school this week. Thank goodness there was room in our first choice of school. This meant he could begin with only a week's break between our living in Canada and our living in Spain. It also meant God heard our prayers and the over-subscribed school's waiting list had dwindled enough to get to our son. Yippee!! He's in.

Now to find a home.

Home is where the heart is. Where is mine? With my son, my husband and - although not homesick - it is, I confess, a bit with my shoreline of Lake Ontario.

Today I was driving along the Costa del Sol. Driving along the shoreline of the Mediterranean, who wouldn't say, "Wow!" It is beautiful. But it made me think of my lake and reflect on the languid peace and quiet there.

What will I do away from my shoreline? How will I write? Will I write, or will I find myself trundling back and forth between Jordan's school and my hubby's workplace so that I can have the car during the day? Will we settle near the school? Or near the job? Or neither? What will our neighbours be like? Will there be children? Will there be neighbours?

The questions go on and on, if I let them.

Instead, I search for a home by locality, narrowing down the circumference a little each day.

We have a bank account but no medical care. There are hairdressers galore and cheaper than in Canada. Everything will all work out.

What do you do when you leave everything and move to a new land? You trust! If you don't, you panic. And there's nothing - no productivity, no power - in panic. No. You trust. You trust that everything is going to work out. And one day, you'll have as many friends as you left behind, as many responsibilities as you were tired of, and just as many projects on the go. Life will be all the sweeter for the memories you have of the past, and the anticipation for the future.

For now, I'm relieved my son is happy and my husband is fulfilled. As for me? They'll be time enough for me, once we have a home. Such are the nesting instincts, it seems, for this wife and mother.

Maybe by next week I'll have something to report about a new permanent home. In the meantime, I'll enjoy the warm October sunshine. Whether you're experiencing North American autumn, chilly Northern Europe or a gentle Antipodean spring, may you make a memory this week that will last a lifetime.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 6 Ode to what is passed

A Poem of Farewell

I bade farewell to fond friendships:
Some exchanged, some too busy to explore -
I know I did my utmost
To receive and give once more.

I came from there and now I'm here; 
I know not when to return.
But in this world of brief encounters -
I've had my share and more.

I love my homeland, O Canada
With people, plans and places
I bade goodbye with many a sigh
And gratitude to the beautiful faces.

Now, as I see: new land is home.
Such interest and so bright;
The sun shines strong, the air is warm
And I'm ready to begin once more.

I was born and raised in Ontario, Canada. After teaching for a few years, I left to study. Eventually, I found long-lasting love in England. Twenty years on, returning with my family to Canada (after extensive travel to all but one continent), I re-engaged with my homeland and its people, loving every precious moment. Five years in Canada have passed pleasantly. I love my culture, its work ethic and easy way with people.

Now, called elsewhere, I've arrived in Spain. How thrilling, how daunting, how surprising to be here!

I stand in the balance between here and there, so grateful for all that has passed, so hopeful for what is to come.

As I begin anew - once more -  I hope I'll be staying for a good, long while. Ready to settle, I hope visitors will come - galore.

Have you ever moved country? It's funny really, but no matter where I live, I've found, I'm always with me. And the more I change location the more I grow, and appreciate my own roots and those of others.

One day, I believe, Heaven will come to the Earth, and with it will be a grand sense of 'arrival'. Until then, we create our own paradise if we appreciate what we have and enjoy ourselves and the people around us.

As for me, I seem to have a habit of landing in lovely locations... Here I am again, on the south coast of Spain, very blessed.

To synthesize, I've learned a bit from the trans Atlantic experiences in my life. I'll summarize my perspective this way:

Enjoy where you are. Never wish to be anywhere other than where you've been placed for this time.
Enjoy who you have in your life. Accept and explore life with those people and places you encounter.
Life is full of surprises... and each person is a blessing to your life. Take on board the opportunities you have for relationship
, and don't delay; you never know how quickly circumstances may change, and you don't want to regret the exchanges that 'might have been'.

Next week, I plan to share this new journey with you... twists, turns, surprises and all.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 5 A fond farewell

I will mourn departure from my homeland... Canada, the True north, Strong and Free.
Amherstview Lake Shore, Lake Ontario, Canada

A week or two ago, activity in the North comprised of the Russians encroaching on Canadian air space and the USA passing over until the R's departed.

Canada, Russia and China are the largest countries in the world (Brazil holds it's own in that department but for this conversation isn't relevant). Each of these reaches to the North, but only Canada is a truly free nation. I am truly free to vote, think and speak my mind without fear of Government reprisal. In fact, social oppression is slight in Canada and even political correctness, though present, is not pervasive. We are truly free. And as anyone from First Nations can attest, we are truly north, too. (Brrrr!)

I live in a country I love. For the past 5 years I've enjoyed the sights and sounds of my own culture after being absent for 20. Wholeheartedly, I felt welcomed back. Now, as I prepare to leave for sunny Spain, anticipating blessings and challenges, I mourn, a little, the departure.

I love Canada. The winters are white, the summers are smooth, the people are gracious and the heart of the nation is to befriend.

I will miss you, Canada. Thank you for raising me to be who I am. Thank you for showing my husband the grandeur of a humble nation, and my son the integrity which is a part of his Canadian heritage. Thank you for reminding me I come from good stock, worthy of respect but modest in demeanor, quietly proud.

The Sun rises in the East - from My Bedroom Window I Gaze

I will miss my lake shore view: daily I rose facing east and enjoyed the sunrise, the waves lapping.... or often the water was as still as glass. Morning by morning I scrambled for my child's breakfast, hastily putting together lunch and nagging him to catch his bus: Yes, the proverbial yellow school bus made famous by Hollywood and the Networks... and our own "Timothy Goes to School".

I will miss the unique vigour needed to shovel snow. I will miss the Bath Canada Day Parade, where candy is tossed lovingly into a crowd full of children, and the fireworks are second to none - thanks to Lafarge. And P's huge Canada Day party, where anyone and everyone converges for the day onto their corner lot for wine and cheese and friendly chatter. I will miss people, I will miss church, I will miss the scent of the land.

Canada, I will miss you.

I am stronger than when I returned 5 years ago. I am more loving, more gracious, more patient. This is largely due to my walk with God, but in part due to my beloved Canada and its people.

Thank you, Canada. Thank you, Ontario. Thank you, friends and church family and God, for bringing me back.

Long may you continue, strong and free in the north, true to self, true to history, true to what is right in the world.

Next Thursday I will be living in Spain. I am excited and enthusiastic about the move. 'Moss does not grow on me.' I look forward to writing to you, and hope you'll continue to look forward to all that life offers and share some of your moments with me.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 4 Testimony of Peace

I have peace in my heart because of choices I've made along my way to trust.

How do I make a choice to trust when I've been damaged or hurt in the past? How do I know I can trust? My answer to the pain and hurt I experienced was that I learned to trust a trustworthy person. I learned to trust Jesus.

I trust Jesus, and while it took a longer time, I also trust Yahweh: Father God the maker of Heaven and Earth.

Along my way, I also learned what's in the Bible. I studied for myself, allowing my own mind and heart to look into what the Bible had to say. I learned by experience and answered prayer, to trust what was in that book and to trust the one who inspired it.

I trust the Holy Spirit and the Holy Bible and recognize that the where the Spirit leads there is truth, safety and majesty.

These may seem like sentimental or religious concepts, but they are the truth of my experience.

You know those weight loss images of 'before' and 'after'? Well, in my self image, there is the 'before' and 'after' of my life. While I always had a belief in Jesus as the Son of God, I didn't trust him or know him as a friend and Lord until I was 24.

Before 24 I was an emotional mess. At 24 I had a moment where I said, "If you're there I'll follow you." Then, he gave me a job where there was none, and new hope, and I realized He was there. So, I followed.

Now, at 55, I am following him still.

This time, I have peace in my heart through an international move. My family is moving to Spain (from Ontario, Canada) and I have peace.

Oh, it's busy, exciting and an emotional roller coaster. But it's a wonderful time.

There is a verse (2 actually) in Proverbs in the Bible that says,

"Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;
In All your ways acknowledge Him and He will give you the desires of your heart." Proverbs 3:5,6

I am preparing my family for the move. We have all chosen - even my nine-year-old - to trust this move is for our good and for good purpose in the bigger picture. Our attitude to trust makes it all the easier to make the move, even though moving is up high on the list of stressful circumstances, such as divorce and job loss.

Trust was an initial decision I made 31 years ago. And trust has deepened with each experience, as each experience has proven worthy of trust; every outcome has brought a good end. I've naturally deepened my trust. This has been my journey of some thirty years and so I continue.

Peace in my heart reigns because I choose to trust, every time, the God of the universe.

Best to you for the week. May you have wisdom in each of your decisions, and people worthy of your trust in your life.

Me, taken by my son

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 3 Finding Peace with Supernatural Heart

The Supernatural is all around us. But when I examine my heart, I know there is only one source of the supernatural that is truth and goodness. Holy Spirit comes from God and is our comforter, our convictor, our teacher; He loves, cares for, understands, protects and keeps us. He offers perfect advice. There are other forms of peace and other forms of the supernatural, but they are a counterfeit of the life that is intended for us. How do I know what is the true source of peace? I know, because I've experienced the counterfeit in many forms. I have friends who have also who, like me have come to experience the genuine article. There is no comparison.

For those who know and follow Jesus personally, this won't be new news. For those who do not, it may be a new reflection to consider.

He is my source of peace.

Last time I wrote about peace of mind. Now, I write about peace... peace in my heart that surpasses all other peace. It reaches beyond circumstances, beyond relationships, beyond the ups-and-downs of life.

For example, in the mundane of my life, it looks as though the family is going to be making a trans continental move. That is huge! I've done it before. I may again; who knows? God knows, and I have perfect peace.

I've learned that stressing and trying to control is fruitless, while diligence and rest in perfect balance get the job done, while enabling me to enjoy life at the same time.

Oh, there is the stress of moving: packing, settling a child, finding new friends and maintaining long-distance relationships with those I treasure (... and when they realize they treasure me back, oh how lovely an experience it is, just to be alive!), re-organizing, ensuring stimulating work while not overloading myself, adjusting (first time) to a foreign language - though my move to England proved to require a more foreign adjustment than expected... ha!... but that's a sidebar for another time!

If the Holy Spirit were to be the guide for all of us, there would be universal peace. Terror, friction, war, dispute, contention reside in insecurity, fear, or the desire to control. The peace of God - through the Holy Spirit - surpasses understanding. Its proof is in the experience. If you've experienced it, please raise a hand. If not, please don't knock what you don't know.

Where there is animosity or conflict, there is a lack of peace; where there is assurance, there is peace.

I suppose that's what Heaven on Earth offers, if only we can get our minds around it.

Until next Thursday, may God's peace invade and pervade your life.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Going Deeper into Self - Part 2 - Have you faced the Authentic You?

"What really lies inside me?"

Do you ever ask yourself that question?

Are you conscious of every nuance within your heart? Have you acknowledged every yearning? And if you've plunged 'the depths of your soul', what have you found? A deep need, passion or ability yet untapped? If so, have you surrendered it or have you surrendered to it?

Do you ask yourself: "Are there still unresolved passions within me, for better or worse, that are unfulfilled?"

I do.

I wrestle with myself. On the one hand, I want desperately to tap into the spiritual chasm within me, to discover what I value the most. And yet, it's hard work to go that deeply into myself. I can't help feeling helpless as I do it; I'm driven, compelled to understand my inner world, and yet simultaneously, I fear it.

What is it that I'm afraid of? I don't know which is worse: the thought of dark passions that are heinous and harmful, or the possibility that there is nothing of significance within me. To be 'bad' or to be 'dull' are both undesirable.

Nevertheless, I do press on... Hungry for truth and aware that truth will set me free. I keep digging, searching, questing for who I am. Because deep within me - within all of us, I believe - is a golden core of creativity and energy that is invaluable. I was created for a significant purpose and I desire to find that purpose and fulfill it. And I admit, I hope the same for everyone.

I believe that we are a bundle of thoughts, feelings, ideas, impressions, creativity, and productivity. I believe we've been born with a purpose and we are naturally driven to discover and achieve it. And when we are engaged in activity that draws us toward our innate passion, we are closer to fulfillment.

I press on in my search for fulfillment. I yearn for it because in fulfillment I will find peace of mind. Peace of mind comes when the truth of my desires and my purpose are aligned. Peace of mind comes when the reason for my being is in harmony with my activity. Peace of mind comes when I know that what I am doing is precisely what I was put on the earth to do. There is satisfaction in that.

Still, as I am digging for that purpose, I am also apprehensive, wary and hesitant. What if I miss it? Or what if I find it and it is too difficult for me?

Pursuing, I am full of nervous energy, imagining myself perfectly aligned with my raison d'etre.

Like an archaeologist with only a pick and chisel, I chip away at the layers of my life, at the layers of my heart until the blood vessels are exposed. Then I find relief because the light pours in and exposes those hidden things and the discovery sets me free.

When the dig is complete, the light of self-knowledge, hope, love and revelation will bring me to myself.

And in my mind I will have peace!

Next time I'll share about peace within my heart. Until then, may you dig deep and experience great reward.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

New Series - Going Deeper into self: Part 1 From Disengagement to Engagement

Ever feel disengaged with yourself, thinking: 'Am I going out of my mind?'

It's wonderful to be back, sharing my thoughts with you. Summer was wonderful in so many ways, but I love to sit at my computer composing, and gaze over the top of the screen onto a scene most extraordinary: my backyard on the shore of Lake Ontario.
Me and 'my lakeshore'

I'd like to share a reflection from a few days ago...

'I suppose I'm "out of my mind." Not crazy, but rather experiencing a sense of mindlessness - of being conscious but with my intellect/concentration/focus distracted. A feeling of vagueness - being unable to think deeply. I seem to be experiencing life differently from usual. I sense I'm outside of my head, detached and unclear, and I don't like it!

Ever feel like that? Like you have ideas to be expressed but you can't quite connect with them in your conscious mind?

As I compose this, it is Labour Day in N America - when the summer season's decline gives way to a new school year for children (and a new start for families; with mothers and fathers also effected by children's return to their routines, it gives room for the adults' return to theirs.

Over the last few months I've been wondering about continuing with this blog, because I write a few different ones. This summer I've come to realize:

I have to keep this blog!

Those of you who have been following will know I've been dithering about this for a while. Friendly encouragement has kept me going after I'd built a new website last spring, including a 4-path blog which developed through that site.
( www.LarusPress.com/category/larusblog for posts ).

Now I'm self-motivated too.

"An Examined Life" is important to me because it's me on paper, with glimpses of wisdom and universal truth others seem to benefit from... But I also gain from composing my thoughts, even making them public. I recently wrote in a gift book to a friend, "Words written down are experiences remembered."

Best of all, "An Examined Life" allows me to connect my thoughts with my feelings, and vice verse and for that I am truly thankful. The bridge between emotion and thought enables creativity, and occasionally wit and expression, which I use as a guide for making life choices; life is not random or confused, but rather it is clear and deliberate; writing grounds me and comforts me, who lives a self-imposed busy life on this demanding sphere.

I discover myself daily when I pray, but when I write I synthesize that which I discover. Sometimes its worth sharing, and I love those moments when life, composition and relationship intertwine.'

So, here I am, with you 100%, excited for the new season which lies ahead.

Next week I'll dig deeper still into self, digging to discover universal truths about our minds as our thoughts intertwine with our feelings to produce activity and productivity.

God bless.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Final week of holidays

May your mountains be small and your valleys rich and plush. May God bless you and keep you, the LORD make His face to shine upon you and give you peace....

I plan to be back with new thoughts and ideas next Thursday - 4th September.

In the meantime, enjoy past posts and may you have a wonderful Labour Day Weekend.


Thursday, 31 July 2014

An Examined Life by Sarah Tun

Inspiring Christians to Soar
An Examined Life by Sarah Tun may continue but it cannot be posted via email any more.

If you have followed this site and have received by email in the past and have enjoyed receiving it, check it out by going to:
sign up and become a follower directly from this site by clicking the 'join this site' box to the right of the posts window directly on the site.

I'd love to know your comments, share your insights, but I can't if you don't check it out.

I am going to take the month of August off, and so until September you can browse this website: http:sarahtunexaminelife.blogspot.com and join, so that when I post anew starting in September, you will receive the post directly as you have ordered.

I also post at: www.LarusPress.com/category/larusblog. You can join to receive those posts directly by signing up for the weekly newsletter, Soaring Post.

Hoping the best for you.. wanting that all share in the glory God has for us.


Larus Press

I am the founder of Larus Press: Christian-based books, blogs and literature to inspire, encourage, equip and empower your living spirit. Those who know Jesus Christ will receive spiritual nourishment; those who have not yet chosen to walk his path may discover their desire.

See: www.LarusPress.com

Thursday, 24 July 2014

How to overcome the fear of success - from Fear... not - Part 7

Obscurity. What is the opposite of success? Obscurity is the opposite of success.

Do you know a cure for fear of success? Self knowledge is the cure for fear of success... at least it is for me.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke on the subject of Fear... not I branched into the subject of Fear of Success. I have continued to think about this issue, because until recently I'd not put my finger on why I am afraid of success. Now, I believe I have discovered the cause.

Last week I reached out, stretched forth, eager and willing to strain toward success and overcoming fear. Then, I hit on the root cause or the essence of my fear. Allow me to explain.

As an author, in order to achieve success my name needs to be recognized so that my words and my books will be read. Now, thanks to Lance Wallnau ("Take All 7" (c) 2008, Lance Learning Group), an expert and public speaker on personal and organizational transformation, I've recognized my own hand in my failure.

What provokes failure? In my case, success has eluded me because I've shrunk from notoriety. I have held onto my identity as a person who is unknown. I have done so because - at least in my perception - my peer group, who has different aspirations and interests, exists in relative obscurity.

While I've worked hard to perfect my writing craft and have sought to grow as a person with a worthwhile message, in secret I've wanted to maintain the status quo... I have remained obscure and have resisted the very success I have worked so hard to achieve, because I've clung to my peer group. I have feared the notoriety I need to become successful.

In order to succeed, I need to allow my identity to change... I need to allow myself to connect with a different set of peers. I don't mean I can't keep my friends. I mean I need to allow myself to reach into an identity that has a set of peers who is 'successful', who has the sort of notoriety I need in order to be successful.

I have friends and acquaintances that excel in their work. But for the most part, I don't have friends or acquaintances who strive for the public recognition that I strive for. In fact, the thought of belonging in a peer group of famed people intimidates me. And that is what has held me back. I have feared success because I've feared relating to people of that sort of success.

How do I change? My attitude needs to grow into one of accepting all people and of recognizing that notoriety is just a facet of some people's lives.

Without allowing myself the recognition I need to draw people to buy my books, I'm not going to succeed. I need to allow myself to entertain the notion of belonging to a different set of peers. I need to face the fear of loneliness. I need to allow myself to accept this new set of peers before I meet them, so that I can accept myself as a part of this peer group.

I need to accept myself as a person of notoriety; I need to accept who I will be as a person of success. I need to trust that I will not be different just because my position is different. And I need to be willing to allow myself to be in that different position.

Last week I said I was eager to soar. Now I need to spread my wings. I need to embrace whatever encounter I may have with whatever set of people I may encounter.

Then, I will no longer fear the recognition I need to build, and I will be ready to succeed.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Fear of Success (continued) : Fear... not - part 6

I stand at a deciding moment - the edge of the cliff. As I consider the options open to me someone asks me, "Imagine yourself in thirty years' time and you are in your rocking chair. Looking back what would you most regret not doing."

The answer is clear. I must jump. Here I go.....

A time to Soar

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Fear of Success: Fear... not - Part 5

How can anyone be afraid of success? Well, I have been.

I have worked hard most of my life. I'm a bit of a workaholic I suppose. Enjoying diligence, creative expression and doing my best to do my best, I don't mind how many hours I put in. But, while I love to achieve, I'm always held back by one thing: being in the spotlight.

I like to achieve in a craft. I have a work ethic that says, "Work hard, use your talents, enjoy the satisfaction of a job well done." I've always lived that ethic, I have the credentials and output to prove it.

But notoriety and worldly success have so far eluded me. And here's why...

I choke. I never quite get to the top.

First, I'm too modest. I find it difficult to promote myself, and get self-conscious when complemented. I guess I feel shy at the attention. I love it and I dread it. I have this tape inside my head that says, 'don't show how you really feel'. I am delighted by encouraging words. Yet, I tend to deflect compliments, thanking someone graciously, yet, rarely allowing myself to enjoy the experience of my work - or myself - being appreciated.

Where does this sabotage of joy come from? Who knows. It doesn't really matter. I value generous words but I don't fully receive them. And that causes an even bigger problem, which is that...

Second, every time I climb toward a major accomplishment, I can't quite get over the ridge. I don't quite let myself succeed.

There's a story in the Bible. 12 men are told to check out the Land of Milk and Honey that God has promised they will have. They go and spy on the land, which is inhabited. Then, they go back to Moses, their leader, to report on what they saw.

Two men are very excited. The land is, indeed, flowing with milk and honey - it's rich and luscious and very promising. The other ten men see the land but are seriously intimidated by the people who live there, the people who they'd have to conquer in order to gain the land.

I've always thought I was like one of the two men who saw the possibilities and did not shy away from the challenges. But now, I think I'm seeing myself as I really am. Perhaps I've always been like one of the ten. Although I'm disguised, wearing a cloak of courage to take a risk, I'm actually clothed in fear underneath, and never quite go for it all.
Contemplative Gull

Right at this moment, I am at a precipice of decision. Shall I press forward in a particular aspect of my
work, or shall I draw back? Shall I soar, or hold back; right now I'm just thinking... I guess what I've always done in the past is to press forward in action but in heart, I've held back.

Now that I see this in myself, which choice will I make?

In the Bible story, the ten won the vote over the two, and the people waited 40 years before they got to the Promised Land. I'm not getting any younger. It seems to me, either I push forward 'for real' or I don't bother even to pretend.

What would you advise?

God bless... I remind you to have a look at the website for my publishing company, Larus Press: www.LarusPress.com. Have a look at the blogs... consider signing up for the free weekly newsletter, Soaring Post. Everything I write is to encourage others to discover their identity and purpose and to grow to be all God has created them to be. Larus Press seeks to inspire, encourage, equip, empower your living spirit.

Until next week....

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Fear... not - Part 4

Lack of Control produces Feelings of Fear.

Previously in this series looking at Fear, I suggested that control is evidence we are trying to fight fear.
We fear some event or circumstance in the future, and so we attempt to control our situation in order to control the outcome. BUT control is an illusion. We don't have the power to control our circumstances, but only our own attitude to or behaviour in those circumstances. It may seem like a fine point but it is a significant one.

Control is an attempt to shortcut our own frustration or pain. It's a knee jerk reaction to our fear of a situation where we otherwise feel helpless, scared or unable to be effective. But because we haven't absolute power, Control is ultimately futile. We can use control to contain a situation in the short term, but we'll never dominate it in the long run.

Control usually involves other people. Parents of a willful child will punish uncooperative behaviour, but punishment in itself does not destroy the willfulness of the child; it will contain him only in the presence of the parent, or only until he is a teen.

Spouses may dictate or even abuse a partner to get what they want, but it may also lead to isolation, loneliness, loss of intimacy and, eventually, separation.

Control seeks to get what it wants but it destroys the relationship it's trying to hold on to. If we fear another person's attitudes or thoughts, and try to repress them, though this may be an instinctive response, it's the wrong one. It may give the controller what s/he wants immediately, it may achieve superficial compliance, but it will destroy good will and intimacy, trust and mutual respect.

Trying to control others is self-defeating.

What about finding yourself in a situation where someone is trying to control you? Sometimes you are put in a path where a dominating person uses abusive remarks, criticism, or mocking to knock your self confidence or sense of purpose. When that happens - and it usually will at some point - consider it a complement. The other person, in trying to impose, dominate or control you, is demonstrating their fear. You needn't let them get to you. Remember, they haven't any real control over you - you always have a choice to agree, ignore or disagree with them. As you overcome their domination, you will see your character becomes stronger.

Sometimes people will be put in your path to try to control you. While their control is unhealthy, the situation is an opportunity encouraging you to grow. Trust that truth, and watch how you can overcome domination and control simply by being detached from their manipulations and true to yourself.

Until next week... enjoy every encounter and experience, trusting that all has been a part of your journey to becoming who you were created to be.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Fear... not - Part 3

Fear of Failure:

What is failure? Why are we afraid of it?

Although I touched on the issue of failure last week, I'd like to look into it more deeply now.

Failure is not achieving the outcome we hoped for or worked for. It is an unpleasant experience. We tell our kids the best lessons come from making mistakes, yet in schools we don't like to dwell on their lack of achievement, and anymore, kids are rarely held back or 'fail' a grade.

We certainly don't like to dwell on our own shortcomings or a failure to achieve. But the truth is, failure is like medicine; it makes us stronger. Failure teaches us what we need to learn. Then, if we're wise, we take the lesson and apply it, making success a greater possibility.

So, if failure is our best teacher, then why do we fear it? Wouldn't it make more sense to embrace it as an opportunity?

Failure is a bit like pain: we need it to tell us we're at risk, in over our heads or aren't ready for a particular experience. But we don't like the feeling of failure. Failure, like pain, hurts. We don't want to experience pain, and so instinctively we wish to avoid it. We fear it because it is uncomfortable and because - we believe - it is undesirable.

We also fear failure because it exposes our weaknesses to others. Perhaps we'd rather appear strong and confident than weak or lacking in ability, because we believe if our weakness is seen, we'll be less attractive or will receive less respect than if we appear strong, able and proficient.

But you know what? When I am vulnerable, I receive love, compassion and respect for my openness. I am affirmed in my weakness for my ability to be real. Friends draw closer and relationships deepen when I allow myself to risk failure and am open when things don't go the way I'd hoped.

Allowing others to see us at our weakest can be a scary experience. And yet those others reflect back the uniqueness that is 'us'. They hold up a mirror to us so we can better see ourselves. We might not like everything we see, but if we never look at ourselves, not only do we miss seeing the failings, but we don't see the beauty either.

Failure happens to everyone at some time or another. There is no shame in failure, but is a common experience. While it isn't something we seek, inevitably, it does find us. Isn't it just as well to get the most from it? Embracing failure when it comes demonstrates maturity, humility and confidence.

We can learn from our failures and grow.

So, let's not seek failure, but when failure does come to us - and it will inevitably - let's embrace it so we get the most out of it that we can. Embracing failure is an heroic gesture and a demonstration of wisdom. Be courageous: admit failure, learn and move ahead, stronger, wiser and more resilient than before.
Seagulls Soar: See Over All Repression*

Everything I write is geared to encourage us of all to overcome whatever tries to hold us back. Fear is a prison when it prevents us from being all we were created to be. Seagulls are survivors. They soar freely across the sky, symbolizing survival and freedom.

So, will you embrace fear and overcome it? Then you'll soar to be all you were created to be.

*Larus Press is Sarah's publishing label. To learn more see: www.LarusPress.com

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Fear... not - Part 2

When fear looms, look at your situation this way...

What are you most afraid of? Chances are it has something to do with the future. The thing about the future is: we can anticipate it but we can't predict it. We can prepare for it, but we can't control it.

Focusing on the future is the road on which fear likes to creep, because fear often revolves around the anticipation of what if... I fail?

When we want a particular outcome it's good to work hard for it. We study for exams, we network with key people, and we focus diligently to achieve success. What we can do about the future is to prepare for it and hope for the best. But we cannot control others or outcomes. It is not for us to make a specific future happen. We aren't sovereign.

Sovereignty means having ultimate control; as much as we might like to try to prepare, influence or concentrate, our will is not all-powerful. So what's the point of worrying about it?

Sometimes, don't we try to trick ourselves into believing our future is under our control? We make plans and consider all the possible outcomes, aiming to ensure our future is bright. But this sets us up for worry. With disease, natural disasters and busy roads, we can not be sure of our life span, never mind of determining our destiny.

Recognizing this simplifies life. It is freeing...

We are responsible for being the best we know how to be - now, and doing what we know is right -now, of loving ourselves and one another - now, and of being kind and considerate - now. For those who have made a commitment to God, we are responsible for being as godly as we currently understand. The results are out of our hands.

It's a relief to me. I make my path, and make my effort as concerted as I can, without tromping on anyone else. I follow the opportunities and healthy relationships as they present themselves to me, and I forgive when I'm wronged. I'm grateful for opportunities and aim not to miss any, knowing if I do I will learn from my mistakes. Being open to learning is one of the keys to overcoming fear. We're not in charge of the future, only of our own choices, and our choices are based on what we know - now.

This is my path. Knowing I'm responsible for my life but that I'm not ultimately in control, releases me from fear. I don't know the future. I know I'm not in control and so I am free from failure. I live, I love, I learn. There is no room for fear.

There's a lot more to talk about failure and control. See you next week.

In the meantime, do stop by www.LarusPress.com/about and sign up for Soaring Post, a weekly blog about how God moves in and through us to make us all we've been created to be.

Have a great week... may you enjoy the moments.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Fear... not - Part 1

Nothing to Fear

Invisible. I like to be invisible. And yet, as a writer, I want my words to be heard, considered, quoted, remembered. I hide behind words, my identity wrapped in my thoughts but my body preferably secluded from show. Odd that I used to be an actress. Or perhaps not so odd, as I quit.

Seeking Reflection by Sarah Tun

Invisibility is, perhaps, a bi-product of fear. I prefer my own company out of habit, having chosen a profession that requires vast amounts of time in solitude in order to perfect the writing craft, and complete projects that, for the most part, are one-person jobs.

I like the company of friends; I even enjoy large gatherings from time to time. I'm not afraid of people, per se, though I do shy away from superficial conversation as I find myself self conscious and awkward with silences. But I am immobilized by fear, from time to time, challenged by change - the unknown - whether it's a new project (or digging deeper into one I'm working on) or facing new people.

Then I remember I have nothing to fear. Nothing to fear.

The opposite of fear is not courage. The opposite of fear is love. When we focus on fear, we do become immobilized. But when we focus on love, there is nothing we won't do to accomplish the task, as we are motivated by the desire to display or convey love to the person or situation we need to face. Love conquers all fear. Perfect love casts out all fear. When we love, whatever challenges we may face - real or imagined - become surmountable, necessarily because we need to show our love. Love is the motivating factor that enables us to face our fear and to overcome it.

So, as I sit by my computer, recognizing I need to go a lot deeper into a particular project (currently it's a novel I'm working on), I fear - failure, the unknown, success. But as I remember the people for whom I am writing, ministering, praying for - the audience I know needs to hear the voice of my character and read the thoughts and insights I want to convey - I overcome the immobilization I want to hide behind, and I begin to dig. I dig, not for fame or finance, nor for personal achievement. These motivators are not enough to enable me to take a risk, to face my fear. The one motivator that engages me to look into the mirror, and to overcome what holds me back, is love.

This is the first in a series about fear - identifying it, facing it, overcoming it.
I hope you'll also sign up for my signature newsletter, Soaring Post, through my website: www.LarusPress.com. The newsletter is free, weekly and particularly palatable and nutritious for Christians seeking to discover their purpose or deepen their identity in Christ.

Love Hearts by Sarah Tun