A Year Without

I was really hoping this post would be my first vlog (video blog) but I failed miserably at shooting and editing, so although you can’t see her beautiful face and hear it in her voice, Emily Blomme’s story is nothing short of inspiring and incredible!

To say I love and respect the heck out of this woman would be an understatement. Emily has faced serious trauma in her life. She has devoted most of her work life to careers that support others facing trauma (currently is the executive director of Foundation 2 – a human service agency that crisis prevention and intervention programs to people of all ages). She has seen and experienced so much darkness in this life, yet she is a bright light in our community and to everyone she meets. Each I have the joy of bumping into her I get the same intense smile and long hug. True compassion and love pouring out.

In 2018, Emily committed to a whole year of “Lents,” although she didn’t call them that because she doesn’t associate with a particular religion. Emily is a nonbeliever…an atheist. But let’s not get caught up in labels. The fact that we have different views when it comes to religion is one of our favorite things about our relationship. We have the most interesting, loving, and inspiring conversations. She has opened my eyes to what it means to coexist. She doesn’t judge me and I don’t judge her. We learn from each other and we love on each other…and it’s beautiful. In Emily’s words, we are similar and different in very profound ways. The ways we are different could easily tear others apart but they have actually brought us closer together. They’ve made us curious and encouraged discussion. We both have more respect for others whose beliefs are different than ours because of one another. Knowing Emily at this level has deepened my own faith in God. I could go on, but back to the “Lent” story…

Emily bravely coined it her 40 days of self-discipline and self-sacrifice. We all asked why are you doing this? Why would you put yourself through that? Why would you purposefully suffer? She said she wanted to quiet the noise and remind herself what she was capable of. She wanted to rid her life of things, thoughts, and actions that didn’t matter so she could remember what was truly important.

A year of this is nine different 40 day periods of deprivation. Whoa. Emily gave up physical things like sugar, alcohol, and spending money, but she also gave up things like negative self talk and judging others. Having witnessed her journey, I saw a change in Emily’s demeanor…in her spirit. When I asked her what she learned she said, “I figured out what mindfulness really meant, I remembered how disciplined I can be, and I was reminded how important it is to take time to show myself love and care.” Yes, we all need that.

For 40 days at a time Emily was focused on one thing. She had the ability to engage with that thing more deeply. It forced her to think about how that thing interacted with her life. She realized there are things we do a disproportionate amount of time and an opportunity to consciously reset. Amen to that sister! My Lent this year is about reconnecting with God and with others. If God is a priority to me…my time sure hasn’t reflected it. Lent gives me the opportunity to reset and try again.

Emily did a lot of trying again. Failing and starting over. Finding compassion for herself and practicing forgiveness. She pushed herself outside her comfort zone. She told me a few weeks ago that taking risks has become so much easier after her year of deprivation. The pain was only temporary and what you actually need to live a good life is pretty minimal. She said it was an incredible practice for her self-awareness.

One of the best gifts from this experience were the valuable conversations that it prompted with others. No doubt Emily was able to inspire people like me through what she was doing, but she also got to know others on a deeper level when they started discussing her journey. People shared what they felt bound by or felt compelled to give up, what they needed to reprioritize or make space for, or just how out of control life can feel sometimes. By publicizing her journey she inspired change in others.

Lent is the start of spring. Whether you are religious or not, this the time for renewal and reawakening. Shed the darkness so you can let in the light. Recalibrate and reset so you can be your best self. What is holding you back? If you’re like the rest of us, maybe it’s your moody and negative attitude because of all the cold and snow? 🙂

Start your day with positive thoughts. A short reading, an affirmation, your favorite saying. I cannot even begin to explain the impact positive self talk and affirmations have had on my attitude and mood. Two weeks ago I decided that as soon as I open my eyes I am going to say, “Thank you God for giving me another day. I will make best use of it by spreading your love and light today.” Small action, enormous difference.

How will you let go of the dark and live in the light?


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