Grapefruit By Christina Loveless

Grapefruit By Christina Loveless

A friend was opening an essential oil the other day and exclaimed, “It’s like joy in a bottle!”

The oil was grapefruit and I really couldn’t agree more. I love grapefruit, it makes me feel like there’s sunshine on my face and a song in my heart whenever I take a bite.

The thought crossed my mind that I could never give up grapefruit, but just as quickly I realized that I have had to give it up for a while. A whole host of prescription medications have an interaction with grapefruit and grapefruit juice: anti-anxiety, cholesterol, mood stabilizers. While I love grapefruit, I needed my medication more. It was a choice I had to make.

Sometimes we have to sacrifice something we enjoy in order to preserve something more precious, like our health or our family.

I suffer from anxiety and depression and for now I am not taking any medications, so my self-care is incredibly important. I need to stay active and carefully manage my sensory input. My grapefruit, what I had to give up, was rock music. I am a huge fan of alternative music. I have been to many concerts and I have a ton of CDs. The drawback of listening to that genre is the overwhelmingly negative verbiage in the lyrics. My Chemical Romance had a hit song titled “I’m Not Okay” which just does not help when one is struggling to begin with.

Since making a switch to upbeat, positive music, my internal monologue is much better. I have far less days where I’m having to scrape myself off the floor. It’s another choice I’ve made.

Through The Journey Training, I found out that I have more control over the choices I make than I ever realized. I’ve been able to see things more clearly and take better care of myself.

What is your grapefruit? What do you need to give up to be living your best life?

Extraordinary Love By Alison Loyd

Extraordinary Love By Alison Loyd

When you come visit me, you’ll come to an apartment complex that was selected by a friend as likely being the perfect one for me. You’ll be 2 miles from my work place, where coworkers generously pick me up and take me home every day. You’ll walk into my home and see furniture transported and assembled by wonderful friends. You’ll see evidence of my parents’ unceasing generosity in the form of a washer/dryer and patio furniture. You’ll see items on the walls, hung by a handy friend, and there’s a custom-built mantle over the fireplace. You’ll see a magnificent work of art on the wall, painted just for me! You’ll see lamps and tables freely given and painted by friends. You can even trust the safety of my smoke detector, thanks to the battery replacement by one friend during an ice storm.

I couldn’t do this alone. I will be the first to admit I’m not the decorating type. I know people with an eye for that. I may be single, but have wonderful men in my life to move, assemble, and hang pictures on the walls.  I wouldn’t have known how to best tackle an apartment hunt, but I have an amazing friend with great knowledge and instinct. I couldn’t buy something even a fraction as phenomenal as the piece my friend painted.

It’s not about the stuff. It’s about the love behind the stuff. It’s about being exceedingly blessed and surrounding myself with amazing people with beautiful gifts of love.

Before The Journey Training, I would have felt like I had to do something in return. I felt like I could I could not possibly reciprocate. The Journey Training taught me how to accept love and gifts from others, not as pity that demands a response, but as love and support, and the blessings they are intended to be.

The training also helped me see gifts in myself and I found value in my own gifts like I’d never known. I may not be able to hang art on the wall, but I can spend a few hours with a friend in a wheelchair to give her company and her parents a break. I can listen to a friend and give advice at 10:30 at night. I can pray anytime and anywhere for my loved ones. Oh, and when people do come by to visit or help, I can serve them the best coffee in town!

Mother Teresa once said, “Do ordinary things with extraordinary love.”   It’s not about the stuff or the amount of things you can do. It’s about the love!

Do you want to experience giving and receiving extraordinary love in your life? Consider enrolling in the next class!

Sentence of Isolation or Window of Opportunity? By Rhonda Wise

Sentence of Isolation or Window of Opportunity? By Rhonda Wise

Over the past few months I have had to deal with some physical issues that have led to the doctors putting a lot of limits on what I can and cannot do.  I’m the type of person who loves being around others and usually hates having to depend on others for anything.  In fact, for the last 5 years I’ve generally faced life with a “God and I can do anything” attitude, staying strong for my kids, family, and friends. So when the doctor said, “ You can’t drive for at least 2-3 weeks. You can’t lift heavy objects or even walk without being attached to a tank of oxygen,” it kind of threw me for a loop.

At first, I was tempted to go into a dark place, feeling sorry for myself and wondering how on earth I was going to get my kids to and from school, pay bills (without working), and basically keep life going at all.  I felt like I was being given a sentence of isolation and being punished for something I had done. Fortunately, I had friends and family that reminded me of some things I learned through my experience with The Journey Training.

In The Journey Training I learned that I always have a choice and I was challenged to see circumstances that I face from a different perspective.  Even the Bible says, “My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways…” (James 1:2)  In every situation, we have a choice on how we view it and respond to it.

I was seeing the restrictions placed on me by the doctors as a sentence of isolation and a form of punishment. I was dwelling on the fact that I couldn’t get out and do all the things that I enjoyed and be around those that added to my happiness.  I saw myself as weak, stuck in the house, alone and broken.

As I was talking to a friend about my situation, they gave me a different perspective that I could possibly choose to see.  They brought to my attention that there are people who pay large amounts of money to go someplace where they can be alone, have time away from everything and to refocus.  They told me that I was being given this kind of opportunity for free.

A light bulb went off in my head and made me say “hmmmm”. How could I look at my situation differently than a sentence of isolation?  How could I turn this situation into a window of opportunity?  What could I do during this time of limitation that would take me closer to my dreams after this season of rest was over?

As I contemplated these questions and realized, I actually had a choice, new thoughts came to me.  I could: spend more time with God, journal about where I wanted the next phase of life to look like, allow myself to get the rest I needed to heal properly, spend time dreaming more, and a multitude of other things.  Instead of focusing on the “bars on the prison window”, I could focus on the light of the sun that was shining through it and all that the light could possibly represent.This brightened my attitude, increased my energy level and allowed me to enjoy the season I was in instead of dreading it.

What are you facing right now?  Are things that are beyond your control placing limits on what you can do?  How can you turn your focus from the prison bars to the sunshine?  The Journey Training and the friends I made there have truly changed my life and given me tools that help me in everyday life continue to reach for my dreams and actually live life rather than just exist in it.


Balance. It Was Not on the List! By:  Joanne Reuss-Kirtley

Balance. It Was Not on the List! By: Joanne Reuss-Kirtley

Life can be overwhelming and exhausting. There, I said it. I’m sure anyone reading this has thought the same at least once or twice. If you are like me, you might even think it hourly. The list of things to do and focus on in my brain is so long I need lists to remember the lists:  categorized, bulleted, sub-categorized, color coded, and in order of importance – thorough lists. Those lists will make it better, right? Those lists will make me feel safe and secure, won’t they? Those super lists will make all of this exhaustion go away and make my universe super productive. I just know it.

Ahahahahaha.  Wrong.

Every night before I go to bed I look at my lists. Every day I wake up and look at my lists.

  • I add to the lists.
  • Re-arrange the lists.
  • I make lists for others and then another list to keep track of the lists I delegated.
  • Chore lists with corresponding days and rotations.
  • Shared calendar lists.
  • Lists for the present.
  • Lists for the future.
  • Lists for each family member broken down by health, finance, fun and relaxation.
  • Lists for employees.
  • Lists for both businesses.
  • Lists of what color “ewws” were in my children’s diapers.

You’d think my world was the picture of efficiency. Yet in the past week we’ve missed 3 doctor appointments, 2 jobs, run out of diapers and my house looks like 7 tornadoes hit it.

On my fridge is this beautiful grocery list. I designed it to be aesthetically pleasing to encourage my family members to use it. It’s there for anyone in the family to write down what we need. When anyone uses the last of anything in the kitchen, all they have to do is walk right over to the fridge grab the attached velcro’d pencil (in case they need to erase) and write the item on the list. Those items are then transferred to my master grocery list on my iPad. I take the iPad list shopping with me once a week and gleefully cross off each item.

Yesterday morning I woke up and we were out of coffee. I panicked; full-fledged perspiring panic. I ran straight to the list on the fridge to see how I could make such an error. Coffee was not on the list on the fridge. Therefore coffee did not make it to the list on the iPad. Thus coffee did not get purchased at the store. This was an epic fail in my list system. I must re-calibrate.

Immediately, I called everyone into the kitchen for a review on how to use the “fridge list system.”  “Whew”! Crisis averted. I felt better. I can now move on to my day.  “Where did I put the fire engine red to-do list?”  “Wait, it’s 2pm and I haven’t made any of my 9-11am phone calls or sent any of the emails I was supposed to send. I haven’t eaten breakfast. Wow, nor have I eaten lunch. Where are my children? How is this possible?” Consulting the lists. Combing the lists.   – It’s all ON THE LIST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Time to kick it into high gear.  “Stop being a slacker, Joanne. I need a cup of coffee. Oh wait. It wasn’t on the list.”

DING DING DING DING!!!!!  “Stop, Joanne. Just stop.”

In the narrative above I have all of these important things on the lists. I also have something I “need” that never made it to any of the lists. I don’t understand. How did I fail at so much when I had such amazing lists?  I wasted an entire day being unproductive. I felt defeated and overwhelmed and exhausted. Aren’t the lists designed to make me more efficient and productive? Life is exhausting. There, I said it again.

In my efforts to achieve productivity, keep up, do the right thing, better myself, be giving, loving, supportive, a good employee, a good spouse, a good parent, good pet owner, good driver, good cook, good example, good friend, good aunt, good steward, good citizen, healthy, intelligent, educated, funny, creative, inspiring, well-rounded, joyful spirited, I’ve become unbalanced and miserable.  ***I*** did this.  Me.  Great, no coffee, no productivity AND an “aha” moment.  This is spectacular.

I’m way out of balance. DING DING DING DING!!!!! “Stop, Joanne. Just stop.”

Drawing from the knowledge I received in The Journey Training I am able to identify the lack of balance. How do I get back into balance? Back to basics: I have the tools. I have the knowledge. I need to put it to use.

It’s probably obvious that my default personality loves details – lots of details and information. For the next week though, I will focus on one item from each of the “other” personalities.

I will:

  1. Take Action –  Making lists does not produce forward momentum.
  2. Have fun –  This rejuvenates my spirit and gets me out of my head.
  3. Be thankful – It’s perspective.  An attitude of gratitude can work wonders.

Back to basics. I’m a free and fierce woman. I’m hopeful I will be able to write another piece on the progress I’ve made.  Wish me luck!



Greater Love

Greater Love

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13 NIV (New International Version)

I’m going to guess that almost everyone has heard this verse before, or some variation of it, whether you identify yourself as a Christian or not. It’s a verse that is typically taken very literally and it moves us emotionally to feel and believe that the ultimate display of love is to die for someone else. That’s how I grew up understanding it anyway and that interpretation was certainly reinforced during a 20-year military career.

Am I the only one that sees it that way? Are we supposed to look at it only in that extreme way? Or is it possible that we can also look at it in simpler terms?

My purpose for this blog is not to try and prove that any particular viewpoint about this verse is “right or wrong”. I’m not a theologian and I certainly don’t have the right to tell anyone else what to think. Most importantly, I do not diminish what Jesus Christ did for us on the Cross or what any service member / first responder has ever done in their service to our country and communities.

I’m simply curious about the possibility of a different perspective on this and if a different perspective could help lead us to a greater love for each other.

When we choose to think about this verse and other things in extremes, we tend to think and believe that we can only make a difference by doing something big, or difficult, or ultimately final.

A Different Perspective:

What could life and love be like if we choose to think about this verse and other things in a much smaller and simpler way?

  • What if we choose to put our phones down or turn off the TV when our children or spouses want to sit with us and be held?
  • What if we choose to change our plans when a family member or friend calls with an urgent need?
  • What if we choose to stop what we’re doing and really pray for someone when they ask for prayer, instead of just saying “I’ll pray for you”?
  • What if we choose to really listen to someone else so they feel like they’ve been heard and appreciated?
  • What if we choose to leave our job or ministry when our family needs us more?

I’ve come to believe that “laying down one’s life” can mean dying for someone else (the extreme) and it can also simply mean giving your full attention to someone else in their time of need. It’s taken me a long time to see this simpler perspective. The examples I listed above are actually from my own life and struggles.

The cool thing about this simpler perspective, every time I have chosen to “lay my life down” for someone else I have received “greater love” than I gave.

What do you think of when you read this verse? What do you believe? If this blog has made you think, or if you want to think about things like this more, join us at The Journey Training.

How We See It       By: Christina Loveless and Alison Loyd

How We See It By: Christina Loveless and Alison Loyd

Have you ever actually walked in someone else’s shoes? What would you do if you could see what others see? How do you compare what you see to something you’ve never seen? In this blog, we’ll explore how two very different people “see” typical daily activities.

If you know Alison, you know she’ll say she “sees” through gifts from God and her intuition. As someone who is legally blind, the question she is asked most often is what exactly does she see? She’s had different responses over the years, but to be completely honest, practically speaking, it’s hard to describe when she doesn’t know what YOU see.

Alison recently read an article that compared the everyday sights through the eyes of perfect eyesight and the eyes of a legally blind person. She decided to ask her friend Christina to do their own comparison.

Brief history: Alison’s eyesight difficulties have been lifelong, with the beginning of notable impact not being until middle school, due to the distractions of a weakened left side from a prenatal stroke.

Christina actually had better than perfect eyesight before a car accident caused some liquefaction of the gelatinous mass inside her right eye. She now has close to 20/20.

We will use 20/20 as our definition for perfect sight and 20/200 as our definition to describe legally blind eyesight. We use sight instead of vision, as one can have poor eyesight, but perfect vision.

Grocery Store

Alison: If I go to grocery stores I don’t know, I get a headache. If they move items around on me, I feel overwhelmed. I like to shop where I know exactly where to find everything. If that means that I go a little farther or spend a little more, I do. I don’t have the luxury that some of my friends do of going to multiple grocery stores to accommodate coupons or different product needs.

Christina: I frequently go to two or three grocery stores in one day. I comparison shop all the time and get irritated when I don’t have the ability to branch out even further. I load up my daughter and go, go, go – until we get it all done.

Crowds of People

Alison: I often feel overwhelmed. It’s too visually overstimulating, and I can’t focus. I fear getting lost. When I was in Tokyo, thankfully, I had a very tall friend to be my focal point. When I’m walking with a group of people, I have to stay super focused on the people in front of me. I often just have to trust that the people behind me will keep up.

Christina: I hate crowds. I have a huge anxiety problem with feeling out of control in a crowded setting. I often use visual cues to distract me from the butterflies in my stomach; for example, I’ll count the number of bald guys in my immediate vicinity or people wearing orange shirts. I tend to be the person at the back of the group, constantly counting to make sure no one is left behind. I’ve been the “mom” of my friend group for many years. If I can see everyone, it gives me a sense of security.

Person Waving

Alison: I’ve confused or hurt a lot of feelings over the years. People wave, honk or even smile. I don’t acknowledge them. They think I’m ignoring them. If I’m walking and deep in thought, my face may even confirm my ignoring them. I don’t usually see them beyond about 10-20 feet. If I know them well enough to know their figure, they stand a better chance of being recognized. Some people have a distinctive walk or posture. That helps.

I’ve hugged, yes hugged the wrong person. I once thanked a nice elderly man for dinner, calling him Grandpa. In college, I once hugged a stranger, thinking he was a friend of mine.

Turning that situation around, I once was in a crowd of people when a whirling figure ran up and hugged me. I didn’t know his identity until the hug.

Who hasn’t hugged a random stranger by accident? I once called out an (unfortunately off color) inside joke to someone who resembled a friend of mine. Turned a bunch of different shades of red on that one. My excuse is straight up obliviousness. I’ve gotten so much better about paying attention in the past few years, though.

Recognizing People

Alison: You KNOW when I recognize you. There’s a definite change in my voice and my face. I go from a polite hello to an excited HELLO! The hugging arms come out! I have the nickname Alison Loud for a reason more than a typo.

Christina: Oh my goodness, I have a tendency to avoid people that I don’t want to see. Once on a trip back to my hometown to visit my parents, I saw my middle school bully/frenemy and hid behind my husband until we were out of Walmart. I have no idea if she saw me or not, but I avoided a confrontation I didn’t want to have. Though for the life of me, I can’t remember if it was her face or voice that cued me into her presence.


Alison: Mountains majesty! I love them! I love them from a distance, and I love hiking them. I love anything mountainous! From a distance, I see majestic beauty but not to the depth and detail you do. While hiking, I make people nervous. As someone with very little depth perception, I can’t see how deep the cliffs go, as I look over them. I go on what I feel, leading to some falls….but not as many as I used to have! Thank you exercise and a strong core!

Christina: I love mountains too, and as it so happens, I’ll be moving closer to them in the near future. Alison is already planning her visit.

Alison: Yes, yes I am!


Alison: Having a condition of the retina, my eyes are sensitive to light and glare. I love fireworks. I love the atmosphere. Contrast is really key to my eyesight, so the bright colors in the dark sky are BEAUTIFUL!

Christina: As a child I could not stand fireworks, they were so loud and in my face. I frequently would watch from inside a nearby building. Now, my family launches their own fireworks on the Fourth of July and I truly enjoy them. I prefer to watch though. Once, I accidently knocked one over and it launched at my aunt who had just had surgery!

Watching Sports

Alison: If I want to see what’s going on in football, I need to be close to a big screen TV, If I REALLY want to see football, I should watch it entirely in instant replays. The slow speed helps tremendously. In college, not knowing anything more about football than touchdowns and marching bands, being in marching band myself, I became highly dependent on my friends. They are my commentators. They are my eyes. They give me the play by play. I cheer with everyone else and then ask why. I always knew when we were doing poorly with one friend – he stopped talking.

WAIT- I did marching band?! Yes! Four years in high school and two years in college. I depended on the people immediately next to me. I couldn’t see the drum major. Lining up the form was, well, special. But hey! Only once in six years did I march on the wrong side of the field!

Christina: See, a big difference between Alison and me is that I just don’t enjoy watching sports. I will occasionally get caught up in a game that is playing at a restaurant or something, but most of the time I find my attention drawn elsewhere. I once spent an entire Super Bowl party making paper crafts.

Alison: I used to watch the Super Bowl solely for the commercials. I once ran down the hall of my freshman dorm and asked, “Who won? The red team or the white team?”

Playing Sports

Alison: What do kickball and 4 Square have in common? They were my favorite sports to play as a child. What else do they have in common? Yep, a giant playground ball. I actually played tennis for a long time because my parents were big tennis players. I don’t know how many bad line calls I made. Countless. I’m sure I ticked off a lot of people. A small, brightly colored ball flying through the bright sky…no contrast there!

Christina: I had undiagnosed childhood asthma, so I was the last kid picked for most everything we played. When I got an inhaler in seventh grade, my basketball game really improved! I played softball for a long time, which was a really good game for me in that it was intervals of activity followed by rest. In high school I became a competitive cheerleader, so my asthma got strained with all the shouting initially. By the time I was a senior, my symptoms had become much more manageable, and I was able to complete my routines with no problem. I can’t imagine trying to do basket tosses with Alison’s eyesight! I’d never catch anybody! And when you’re the only thing between someone and a ten-foot fall to the ground, you need to be able to see where they’re going.

Alison: In all of my time playing basketball, I had one moment of glory. Someone passed me the ball, I dribbled it all the way down the court and launched it toward the basket. It didn’t go in, but for a couple of moments, my parents were on their feet!


Alison: No, I don’t have a driver’s license. Through a series of unfortunate events, we didn’t fully understand until middle school that I didn’t see well enough to drive. I thought I would be the only 8th Grader with a parking spot!

I am persistent, though. I spent a lot of years pressing a lot of people for the chance to drive their cars. A few people caved…and those parking lots will never be the same.

As much as I want to drive, there are plenty of practical reasons this is a bad idea.

1. Driving isn’t a textbook procedure. Even if they did everything they could to get me behind a wheel, the other drivers aren’t so predictable. Dangers like being cut off are even worse because I wouldn’t know they were happening.
2. I can’t see what the signs say or see the colors in a stoplight unless it’s overcast or right when we are going under them.
3. Some of my best of friendships began with a car ride. Except Christina. That began with The Journey Training.

Christina:Alison kept offering to drive when we first met. I didn’t realize what was so funny about that, other than I knew she had flown into Tulsa, and thus wouldn’t have a car. I had no idea about her visual impairment! I personally hate driving; it’s a chore and an obligation. Whenever I have the option to defer to someone else (usually my husband) I take it! I will always take my turn as the driver if the other’s in my group need me to. I just prefer to be the passenger and fall into my oblivious natural patterns. Unfortunately, it means car conversations often make me lose track of directions, and occasionally I distract the driver that way as well.

Coffee Shop or Restaurant

Alison: If I’m at a familiar restaurant, I typically know exactly what I want. If I’m at a new place that is candlelit, I have been known to use the flashlight on my phone. If I’m at such a restaurant, I’m typically with someone who can help me read the menu. If a place has a menu board, I always ask for a handheld menu. It’s just what I do.

Christina: I avoid going to new restaurants, because of a food allergy. Once I find a place that I like, with a menu that I find favorable, I keep going back. I also tend to order the same things at these restaurants, more out of habit than anything else. I make a joke with my husband of not liking the things I order out of my usual, “That’s what I get for trying something new”. I always look over each option and consider trying something new, but I just stick to the same old choice, because I know it’s good and it won’t make me sick.

What began as a comparison of literal views of everyday life – revealed a lot of different perspectives and things they have in common. Christina may not have an eyesight problem, but still has to make special considerations when she goes out to eat. Alison may not have had asthma, but can relate to the feeling of being picked last. In fact, Christina and Alison’s friendship started because of how Christina saw herself and how Alison in turn saw her (differently!).

Everyone has a story. Every time you come in contact with a person, you’re coming in contact with a different perspective, a different way of SEEING the world. Alison flew from Georgia to Tulsa to attend The Journey Training in order to meet a Coach who inspired her. Christina followed the advice of her mother in law who had found her own freedom in the Journey Training. Not only did they wind up sitting next to each other and gaining a new best friend, they experienced all new elements to their stories. The Journey Training gave them new perspectives, not only to see from someone else’s shoes, but also to more freely walk in their own!

Are you ready for a new perspective on your life? Join us for the next Journey Training.