Monday, January 26, 2015

How To Be Strong In Your Weakness {unlocking your true self}

How to be strong in your weakness - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I am proudly introverted.  In a small, safe group I might be funny or engaging but in a large arena I will willingly fade into the background.  I am a wallflower.  I would much rather observe quietly from the wings than be the center of the party.  I am wired differently than a charismatic, outspoken leader.  I look on the world through a lacy romanticism and dwell in an introspective poetic protection that slows me down and has me dwelling on the texture of hope rather than some public fame that would have me dressed up in quick wit and leather pants.

Goals are essential.  Dreams are divine.  Trying to fit a round peg into a square hole is excruciating.  The fastest way to kill your spirit is to pursue something that just doesn't exist within yourself.

I do believe you can teach an old dog new tricks.  I don't believe you can turn a Cocker Spaniel into a Border Collie.

The last few weeks have been a time of deep reflection for me.  Of self-searching and rediscovery and making choices that, though painful in the moment, have freed me to be exactly who I was made to be.  

For years, I have been heavily involved in the worship ministry of our church - happily involved because I love music and have a heart for it - but never quite fully delivering because I could not be the leader I was asked to be.  It wasn't in me to speak an anointed Word over the congregation or to charismatically lead 300 people to some emotionally heightened precipice where they might meet God.  I led worship like I lead my life - quietly - independently - responsible only for my own personal experience.  If others followed along behind my quiet leadership and met Jesus in a moment of lyric or chord progression - wonderful!  If not, you wouldn't find me raising my hands from the platform in some plastic call to 'lay aside the burdens of your week and come into the holy presence of God' because that is not the person I was made to be.


I am not a preacher - I am a musician. 


And that's okay.

Finally realizing and accepting this has allowed me to breathe again.  It has shown me that for years I have been holding my breath and existing on this plain that has had me anxious and pretending and that is no place to be.

I need to be free to be me.

I had a lot of fear as I drafted my resignation letter.  Fear for the future of the ministry.  Fear that I was letting people down.  Fear that I was letting myself down.  But as I finished and read it back to myself I felt an incredible peace and knew - without a doubt - that I was making the right decision. 

It's hard to admit defeat.  Because defeat feels like failure and failure feels like ending.  But, in stepping out of your own way, you might just find yourself reintroduced to the self you left behind in your arrogant pursuit of the impossible.

And that's a freedom unlike anything else.

And it's very much like coming home.

So, how can you become strong in your weakness?

1.  Everyone is good at something and it's okay to admit the things you struggle with.

I am good at leading a team - at creating camaraderie, at encouraging, at pushing people musically, at pulling together an engaging set of songs and including everyone in the creation of something beautiful.  I am not good at leading a congregation, at being a charismatic front person, at speaking into the lives of people with anything but direct scripture...these are the things that were wanting in my leadership and these are the things I was unable to give because they aren't in keeping with who I am and where my strength lies.  

2.  Ask yourself if you are happy.  Who are you trying to please?

Forcing myself into a position that wasn't suited to my personality was destructive - not in an obvious way but in a slow corrosive manner that eroded my spirit - I lost sleep, my love for music was replaced by a need to please which ultimately affected my song choices and creative liberties, I was not myself.  There were pieces that made me happy - those beautiful moments with my band-mates when we'd arrive at the perfect arrangement that seemed to open up the heavens - but those were always outweighed by the pressure of charisma and {for lack of a better term} 'star power'.

3.  Listen for still, small voices and big, loud proclamations.

When you get out of your own way, it's amazing how many people and things might speak into the exact situation you're wrestling through.  As I pondered this particular choice a co-worker, knowing nothing of what I was working through in my head and heart, caught me by the lunchroom door and put her hand on my shoulder.  "Be true to who you are," she said.  "I just needed to tell you that for some reason."  I had just gone to refill my mug with water but in that moment, she spoke into my life in a way she'll probably never truly understand. I am a people-pleaser at heart.  I hate to let anyone down.  Had I not taken the time to listen to the nudging of those {not so} still, small voices, perhaps I would still be in a position which - for me - was really a lie.

4.  To thine own self be true. 

We are all made with a purpose, with different gifts and abilities.  How boring life would be if everyone was good at everything.  I may not hold the position of Worship Leader anymore but you can be very sure that I'll still be up on that platform come Sunday morning, playing my guitar or letting my fingers dance along the piano because that is where my heart is at and that is what brings me great joy.  I don't feel anointed with spoken words, I feel anointed with a gift of music and a heart for worship.

5. Let it go.

Holding on to something that isn't feeding your truth means you're holding back something that will.  By letting go of the thing that is hindering your own contentment the door is swung wide open to new possibilities - to joys and peace and good old fashioned happiness.  Letting go is hard.  Fear of the unknown can be crippling but if you can step beyond it, the possibilities could be endless!  

Tweet: The world is your oyster - if you stop farming snails you just might start collecting pearls! via @alannarusnak

The world is your oyster -
if you stop farming snails
you just might start collecting pearls!

Keep yourself inspired with great products from DaySpring Cards Inc
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Monday, January 19, 2015

Thrift Blitz Episode Three

Thrift Blitz - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
It has been three months since the last episode of Thrift Blitz.  Three months!  And I really haven't done three month worth of thrifting.  Interpret that as you like - it's good because it's kept money in my pockets - it's bad because thrifting brings me some weird kind of joy...not that I've been joyless without it...hmmmm, I'm rambling.

For my birthday, my mother-in-law gave me a gift certificate for Value Village.  She should get a prize!  She obviously knows what makes me tick!

I headed up to the roaring metropolis of Owen Sound for some much appreciated time among the racks, overflowed my cart and spent much too long in a little change room.  But that's how you make it count - trying on a million things that don't fit or that you don't completely love once you've got it on {like that blue sweater in the photo below} in order to find the few that do fit and you do love.  It's all worth it in the end - though the bored teenager might differ in his opinion of the whole thing...

Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakBut first things first - to highlight a participant from Episode Two.  Last time I had a whopping two people share their great finds.  That's double what I had for Episode One!  I'd call that a victory!

My friend over at CrossRoad Farm found this thrifted beauty and it was ABSOLUTELY FREE.   She has great plans to bring it out of it's dated funk into some glorious new version of itself.  I have to admit, I'm quite jealous of the piece - just look at the interesting detail - I can't wait to see her finished product!  And if you have the time, wander around her blog for a while - she's quite funny in the way she shares her day to day life on her never-boring farm!

thrift blitz reader feature from crossroad farms

And now to my own finds...
Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

1. Little Black Housewife Dress {Value Village, $9.99}
Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

This is taking simple dressing to a whole new level.  It's basically a blouse that keeps on going right down to my knees and when I wear it I feel like a 1950's housewife because of the A-line shape of the skirt...all I'd need is an apron.

2.  O Holy Sweater {Value Village, $7.99}

Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakFirst of all, this is so soft and the blue is so pretty.  I love it's homemade feel {though I'm pretty sure it's a Marks Work Warehouse special}.  Obviously it has to be worn with something underneath {I'm a 35-year-old mother of three for goodness sake!!} but I just happen to have a collection of camisoles that will make this sweater an appropriate addition to my wardrobe.

3. Three String Bling {Value Village, $2.99}

Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakBecause it's nice to dress things up every once in a while.

4. Lacey 'In The Army' Blouse {Value Village, $4.99}

Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

I really chose this one for the lace detail on the back...isn't it pretty?  I also like the length and drawstring waist {it didn't photograph well so you're not seeing the whole thing} - it's good for those lazier work days when you want to dress frumpy but don't want to look it.  Comfort in a lovely green package!

5. Vampire 'Bite Me' Boots {Value Village, $12.99}

Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

If you know me even a little bit you should know my affinity for Anne Rice's Vampire Collection*.  I liked these boots on first glace but one look at their inner label 'Lestat' and I knew they were to be mine.  Unfamiliar?  Lestat is one of Anne's most enticing vampire creations, whom I revisit among her pages by rereading the series every couple of years.

6. I've Got The Whole World Bookend {Value Village, $2.99}

Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
I have a thing for globes.  I don't know what it is.  Perhaps I'm lamenting this new generation who depends on GPS to take them anywhere...

7. Just a Little Lady Seam Cardigan {Value Village, $7.99}

Thrift Blitze Episode Three - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

Yes, yes, we've established that I love cardigans** but I love this one for it's feminine seaming along the back that gives it a little more shape and a little more of a flattering fit.

Now it's your turn. What great finds have you made recently?  Share them in the comments, link up your post using the inlinkz tool below, or tweet it with the hashtag #ThriftBlitz {be sure to add @alannarusnak to your tweet to make sure I see it, or just use the button below}.

Happy thrifting!

I'm hoping my next Thrift Blitz will be a special 'FREE' edition in which I share great treasures I've found for free...perhaps even giving away some of my secrets for keeping your money in your pocket!  Stay tuned...

33% off all orders on*Anne Rice's books are not for the faint of heart or the easily offended - they are rich and dark and eloquent and fascinatingly powerful.  Read at your own risk and don't say I didn't warn you.

** My unapologetic love for 'The Cardigan' can be seen in both Thrift Blitz Episode One and Thrift Blitz Episode Two.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

I Want To Go Back To High School {not really, but kind of}

I want to go back to high school - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
I look upon him and I can't believe the passage of time.  I can't believe how we've arrived here in this moment where I am taking him to learn about high school.  I can't believe he's taller than me and his feet are the size of a yeti's and he's ready to shake off the childishness of elementary school and enter through the doors that will pave the way to his future.

We walked into that building on Thursday night and it still smelled like 1996 and I felt young and giddy and proud as I led him down hallways that hold the echo of my memory - walls and walls of scars that tell the tales of generations.

I found myself there - in the history classroom where Ms. Rowntree let us watch Grease on our lunch break - in the english classroom where Mr. Abel played Beatle records and let me learn my own way - in the math classroom where I wanted to cry but Mr. Mengers told me not to give up - against the locker with a squirrel painted on it where I kissed the boyfriend who became my husband...

People say you couldn't pay them to go back to those years but I think I would go for free.  Sure, I had my fair share of teenaged angst and cried my broken heart out behind the out-of-bounds stairwell but it was also a time of great discovery and expectation and thrilling fun.  I would go back knowing I had to appreciate my youth, that I was beautiful, that life would never be as easy as it was the days I walked those halls....

I want to go back to highschool - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
left: my friends and I hanging out in the hallway   right: me and the other editors of the school poetry magazine
I want to go back to high school - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
1998 - high school graduation

As we sat through the presentation by the principal and guidance counselors I felt thrilled that my boy - the little Zander I rocked and sang to through colic and nightmares - would soon leave his own mark on the same place I left mine and that years from now, perhaps he too will gaze on his own child with warm memories of the great moments he found in that old building.

Thrift Blitz - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
Thrift Blitz Episode Three will go live on Monday {if the world works in my favor} and I'd love to have you participate by showing off your latest and greatest thrifted treasure - be watching for your opportunity!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Top 10 Posts From 2014

2014 is already long gone.  I don't even know how that happens.  I remember watching the clock tick over to the year 2000 like it was yesterday and how we all kind of held our breath because a tiny piece of us thought that just maybe the crazy people who thought the whole world would shut down because computers didn't understand the year 00 we're right and we'd be facing a future in the darkness.  

That was fifteen years ago.  

Time flies.  

It's strange.  I'm already writing 2015 on documents without even thinking about it...

Top 10 Posts From 2014 - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak

To honor the great year I had sharing my life and spilling my thoughts out into the internet ether I've decided to look back through all of my 2014 posts, find the most popular based on views received and share them here.  Because maybe you missed one.  And because it's fun to look back at memories made over a twelve month span and realize that they still matter all these months later...

The Conversation Every Couple Needs To Have - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak"What's your passion?" he asked me. "You aren't allowed to say family or your work.  What are five other things you're passionate about." 

We were driving somewhere, that yellow lined highway dashing by and my head spinning circles with the question out of nowhere.  Because really it's a question of Who Am I? Stripped down to the core. What makes me tick? What stirs my blood into a fury of passionate pursuit?

He'd listened to an interview on CBC, a man who posed this question and it had stirred something in him.  "It's hard, isn't it?" And it was because society dictates and expects your response to be family and career - that's what every good Canadian would say.  So he modified the rules to make it a little easier.  " about three things? Just name three things."  {keep reading...}

take me back, mr. time machine to anti-Vietnam America and I'll kiss the first twenty boys I see - Alanna RusnakHe smiled at me when I came through the doors of the coffee shop - this man as big as a house and beard all white and wise - smiled like he knew me though I had no idea under heaven.

"You don't remember me, do you?" he asked, having left his coffee on the table by the window to approach me as I stood in line.

"Sorry," I said.

"Ha! Not a worry! You still singing?"

"When the mood strikes," I tell him, still without a clue to his identity.  {keep reading...}

How To Pack For A Writers Conference - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak Writing is a private affair. It's a locked-in-a-closet, introspective exercise most often engaged in by textbook introverts who dream in colour, compose better than they speak, and birth their darlings upon pages only to weep over their death-by-edit later.

To take the writing creature and plop her down in a crowd of like-minded beings is to invite anxiety and excitement and fear and hope and a whole plethora of other emotions.  {keep reading...}

Blog Guilt {3 things to tell youself when you just don't have the time} - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna Rusnak
I have found myself struggling to fit in the time to blog recently. We have been so busy. Summer is crazy. I am exhausted. Evening comes and all I want to do is catch up on True Blood and eat peanuts.

Blogger's Guilt is a funny thing. {Ridiculous actually, if you're like me and aren't doing it to feed your family.} Still, I've built up a following of faithful readers and I feel this profound obligation to continue to provide them with the content they've come to expect. Plus it's fun. I really like it. It fulfills some unnamed need within me.  {keep reading...}

#6. My Missing Computer Gave Me Phantom Limb Syndrome

My Missing Computer Gave Me Phantom Limb Syndrome - SelfBinding Retrospect by Alanna RusnakWhen you've been together long enough you become that beautiful kind of union that people write songs about. You may be a full entity on your own but when you find yourself without the other you suddenly recognize your dependence and think, for a moment, that perhaps Tom Cruise really had it right when he stood before his love with his heart leaking out his eyes and said, "you complete me."

My computer and I, we've been through some hard times. I've known the benefit of her therapeutic keys while she sat and listened and spell-checked and never grew too tired.

Until she got too tired.  {keep reading...}

The Things I Forgot About Babies {Reminders For Care-Takers Who Have Been Out Of The Baby Game For Too Long} - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect#5. The Things I Forgot About Babies

Some people are made for babies. I am not one of them. There has been no harder stage of life for me than when I had mini people in my house. A seeming endless forever of waiting for them to become complete humans*; for vibrant personalities and meaningful conversations and for thinking myself more than a frumpy, bouncing milk machine. It was never a question of loving them or not but there were days {years?} of questioning whether I loved myself...of even knowing myself.  {keep reading...}

Compliments may affirm me but insults will not define me - Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
When my parenting post received international recognition I was thrilled.  Trying to break into a writing world that's already so noisy is not easy and any little crack that lets you whisper through is a huge victory as far as I'm concerned. 

But recognition means more people. 

And not all of them are nice.   {keep reading...}

I have a recurring dream about roller skating:
roller skating, fear of falling, fear of missed chances
I am in the halls of my high school.  Lights are bright and there is no ceiling.  I am screaming at people to get out of my way, waving my hands frantically, jumping the stairs, whipping past the office.  I am a comedy bit that ends poorly.  Always in a pile in front of the library.  And then my mouth fills with the taste of onion...
I don't know where the dream comes from. I hadn't put on a pair of roller skates since I was 17 when I used to go to The Forum and wait for boys to ask me to 'couple skate' to Guardian's Never Gonna Say Goodbye.

Needless to say, when my sister invited us to the free Family Day roller skating at the ancient rink beside her house, I was a little apprehensive.  {keep reading...}

#2. Repurposed Sentimental Stained Glass Window

make it monday, stained glass, diy, repurpose, vinyl lettering, sign
When I was four the big white moving truck rumbled up the driveway through the shadow of that massive apple tree and parked in front of the trailer.  Red brake lights still dotted the back end of the house and dark paneled walls decorated every surface and I would have sworn that it was Mary and the sweet Baby Jesus peeking out from a certain stain in the bathroom veneer - oh, that gorgeous green porcelain that stood so proud for so long!  Every room was carpeted and in the (carpeted) kitchen, a skinny little room divider held a piece of yellow glass that was probably pretty in 1964. {keep reading...}

#1. Dear Walmart Father
"Children are like flowers; tend to them and they will grow into something beautiful, step on them and they will wither." Alanna Rusnak, SelfBinding Retrospect
I understand that you've probably had a tough day. The dirt on your jeans and the stains on your hands tell me that you've worked hard. The slant of your eyebrows and the furrow of your forehead tell me that you are tired, that you'd rather be at home watching Storage Wars, that this is the last place on earth you want to be: here with your lovely wife and two beautiful children.

How old is your son? Four? Five? He oozes a bright curiosity that reminds me of my own. 

The questions are exasperating. Believe me, I know. You think they won't end. That there's no finale to the answering. That nothing can ever happen where he won't demand "Why??!!"

I'm here to tell you, it does end. And when it does, your heart will shudder and you'll find yourself begging him to talk to you, to ask questions, to wonder about the world beyond Minecraft, to hug you, to say "I love you, too."  {keep reading...}

And there you have it - my top ten posts of 2014.  Here's to a New Year, new adventure, and new stories!  Thanks for being part of my journey!

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