Sunday, January 18, 2015

I Just Wanna Fly

I had just turned 13 and I took to skiing like I had been born to it.  Every first run the feeling is the same – the cool wind in my face, and the sense that I am nearly flying – oh, the FREEDOM!!!!
The day before my last birthday, I decided to try zip-lining.  Now, I have wanted to zip-line for a while and my goal was to do it in some exotic place like Costa Rica.  However, an opportunity came along while I was in Las Vegas and well…..I took it!  You can watch me in this brief video my husband took.  I am the flyer on the far left coming out of the gate. 

I didn’t know the people I was “flying” with, but because I was by myself they (and the staff) were consoling me, telling me not to be scared.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I was not scared AT ALL!  I was totally calm.  While they were strapping me in I decided I would position my body to fly like I had always dreamed – with my arms out to my sides.  As the gate opened and the cable jerked us forward, I pushed myself off the mat we had been suspended over so that I could go faster. 
It was exactly how I imagined – and it was even better than skiing!  By the end of the flight I had tears in my eyes – not because it was cold (because it was) but because it was such a beautiful experience – I felt so free!  I felt so ME!

What I learned:  Some people know they are born to be in the water; some know they are born to be on stage.  I learned I was born to fly.  Perhaps one day I’ll sprout wings or I’ll obtain some super power, but until then, I guess I’ll just continue to fly in my dreams……and plan another zip-lining excursion.
What were you meant to do?  What makes you feel free?
~Tessa L. Charles

“I want to fly like an eagle, to the sea, fly like an eagle let my spirit carry me, I want to fly like an eagle, till I’m free….” – Steve Miller

Monday, January 5, 2015


Well, it finally happened.  A couple of weeks ago I reached the half-century mark.  I will be honest and say I was dreading it.  But then again, each time I have hit a decade, I have dreaded it.  My best friend is a mere 4 days older than I and she seems to handle each decade with much more certainty than I do and I admire this about her.  I tried to embrace “The Big Five-O” with grace, but maybe by the next decade I’ll do better.

In any case, she had a big 5 day long party in Las Vegas and she extended her celebration to include me.  It was a wonderful and raucous way to fling me, kicking and screaming, into our fifties.

What I learned:  In the Bible, every 50 years is called a Jubilee Year.  In the year of Jubilee, captives and slaves are set free, property that has been sold or lost in debt is returned to its original owners, and all debts are forgiven.

And so I claim this for myself and all those of my friends who are turning 50 this year.  The time for mourning has passed and now it’s time to have some fun.  Ashes have been traded in for beauty!  We ARE set free and all debts have been forgiven.  Now, I look forward to this Jubilee and all the yearlong celebrations that come with it!  Woo hooo!

"The Lord God has put his Spirit in me, because the Lord has appointed me to tell the good news to the poor.  He has sent me to comfort those whose hearts are broken, to tell the captives they are free, and to tell the prisoners they are released.  He has sent me to announce the time when the Lord will show his kindness and the time when our God will punish evil people.  He has sent me to comfort all those who are sad and to help the sorrowing people of Jerusalem.  I will give them a crown to replace their ashes, and the oil of gladness to replace their sorrow and clothes of praise to replace their spirit of sadness."  Isaiah 61:1-3 NCV

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanks, The Day After

Wednesday, as my husband and I were biking I began thinking of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving,  and I decided to seriously ponder the things I’m thankful for (to pass the time and to take my mind off of my aching muscles).  I have said it before (more like ranted) but I really don’t like the way commercial America like’s to go straight from Halloween spending to Christmas spending, skipping over the time of the year when we are just grateful for the things we already have.  
In any case, I hope you enjoyed your Thanksgiving Day with family and/or friends, eating and laughing – I know I did.  Here is a list of 25 things I thought of on that long, bike ride, in no particular order. I hope it inspires your own list.
My oldest son, who is a lot like his mother – in good ways and not so good ways.  His exceptional character and moral values continue to impress me.
My youngest son, who is also, a lot like his mother (but in different ways) and whose joy in life, he says, is to “make me laugh”.  His sense of humor and sensitivity floor me. 
My husband who puts up with a wife who’s as extroverted as much as he’s introverted.  Here’s to looking towards a new stage of our lives together as empty nesters.
The chipper, welcoming sound of promise, expectancy, creativity and potential accomplishment made by turning on my computer in the morning.
The peace and comfort that offers me solace and rest while listening to my selection of podcasts in the wee hours of the morning when worry and my task list rob my sleep.
The early morning caffeinated routine of filling my teakettle and the eventual pouring of boiling water into a cup; and then the aroma of orange spice tea steeping.
The TV show, “What Not To Wear” because not only do they deal with bad taste, but they inevitably get to the root of why a woman has poor self-esteem.
My best friends in whom I confide to, cry on and laugh with.  You are my strength; my ever present help in time of need; my comedians who tickle my sarcastic funny bone.
The magic and artistry of words, that can paint a picture, sculpt a thought and provoke tears of sadness or joy.  The power of words will create or destroy.
The pungent concoction of chemicals and creams that every 6 weeks makes me feel at least 10 years younger – also known as store bought hair color.  Because I’m worth it.
Netflix.  What a brilliant idea that one can experience a whole season or series of any particular show through binge watching.  Two words: Breaking Bad.
My crazy, funny, sarcastic, encouraging, hilarious, generous, quirky, laughing, noisy, inspiring, loud, joyful, weird and beautiful family.  Double goes for my all my cousins!
Autumn.  I love the crispness in the air, the clearness of the sky, the coolness of the weather, the colors of the trees and the promise of the holidays.
My church family.  These people, though not perfect, perfectly define a community of people who love each other and see each other through the eyes of our Father.
My house that warms me and my family during the winter, keeps us cool during the summer and secures us from the elements from the outside world each day.
FaceBook for reconnecting me with old friends, introducing me to new friends, making me laugh, inviting me to parties and events and providing a venue for this blog.
My new bike and the new fitness goals my husband and I have trained for and attained proving (with the help of a LOT of ice) that at our age, we are still contenders.
Make-up and nail polish.  It’s not that I feel unfeminine or uncomfortable without them, I just love that I get the option to be creative and use myself as the canvas.
My body.  Though most days I find myself unhappy with its bits and parts, I am awed at its strength enough to bear 2 humans and more recently getting me through a triathlon.
Dr. Bryant, the former Head of the Liberal Studies Department of CalPoly Pomona, who believed and fought for me to go back to school and finally get my BA degree last June.
Though shortened, I am ever so thankful for the opportunity to be blessed by the lives of my cousin, Kim and my Brother-In-Law, Danny.  Missing them both today.
My parents.  Though their marriage ended, I am grateful that they tried so hard and that no matter what, I knew that they loved (love) my brother and myself unconditionally.
People who call me stubborn.  I used to hate it until I realized what they really meant is that I’m resolute. No seriously. I’m resolute I tell you……..RESOLUTE DANGIT!!!!
The color purple.  Not the movie (well, that too) but the actual color.  It always captivates me and reminds me that I am royalty; a princess; a daughter of the King.
Girls Weekend Out. I get time reconnecting with my girls whom I’ve known since grade school talking, eating, napping, shopping, laughing, and enjoying each other.  Priceless!

"Come into his city with songs of thanksgiving and into his courtyards with songs of praise.  Thank him and praise his name.  The Lord is good.  His love is forever, and his loyalty goes on and on."  Ps. 100:4

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Sacred Places

My father used to have a collection of reel to reel tapes (a form of recording before there was iTunes).  One day, when I was very young, I was looking at it and I exclaimed, “This one says, ‘SCARED MUSIC’!!!!”  He barely looked up from what he was doing and he said, “Read it again, carefully.”  “Ohhhh,” I clarified after sounding out all the letters, “it says ‘SACRED MUSIC’! What’s that?”

That day I was taught the difference between sacred and secular and for most of my life I thought a sacred life and secular life were to be kept wholly (or holy?) separate.  I have since had a perspective shift.  A good article by Michael Stewart, D. Min.(   explains why and I’ve provided the link since the explanation of why I have come to change my mind is not what I’ve chosen to expound upon in this post.

What I do want to relate is one of my own unforgettable experiences where the Holy Spirit has ministered to me using a very seemingly secular medium to show me how willing he is to meet me wherever I am.

It must’ve been about 5 years ago or so while I was driving home late at night.  I was physically run down, I had had a difficult class and my family and I were living temporarily in a place we disliked. With the car radio on in the background I cried out my frustration, “God, I know in my head that I’m your girl; I know you ALWAYS have my back, but right now I really need to know in my heart that you haven’t forgotten about me and my family.  I need you to remind me of how you see me once again.  Please.”

Just then, a song by Prince that I have always enjoyed but NEVER considered spiritual came on.  I listened to the lyrics as if the Holy Spirit was directly answering me.  The chorus was especially meaningful:

U don’t have 2 be rich
2 be my girl 
U don’t have 2 be cool
2 rule my world
Ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with
I just want your extra time and your

What it said to me was, “Daughter, you don’t have to earn or do anything to be my Princess. Because you are mine, you inherit my Kingdom.  We are alike not by chance but because you are made in my image and all I want is your attention and to spend time with you.”

I think God gets a kick out of showing us he can speak to us in new and surprising ways.  I know he loves relating to us on a level we can understand.  Do you have a story of a surprising way God has revealed himself to you?  Feel free to share in the comments below.

-Tessa L. Charles

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Bionic Woman

Maybe it was because I was finished with school that I needed a new goal; or maybe because a friend challenged me to see the possible in what I thought was impossible; or maybe because my husband and I are now staring at each other in our empty nest thinking, “Who IS this person and how can we get reconnected?”  Perhaps it is because I’m reluctantly being confronted by the half century mark of life all up in my face that I decided to take on the physical challenge of a triathlon.

Let me be clear.  I have never been terribly athletic although I am coordinated enough and physically strong enough. But to be perfectly honest - I have always hated running and I abhor the 3 S’s – Sticky, Sweaty and Stinky!!!

So the day after my last class at school, I started back at the gym and a month later my husband (the high school marathoner, yeah, he’s that guy!) and I started to train for a triathlon.  It wasn’t easy for me. Like anything else, I had to build up my running endurance and strength but mostly I had to build up my mental strength.  Most of my training consisted of believing that I could run a 5K, bike 12 miles and swim 150m.  Well, that and a lot of ice!

In any case, on October 19, we did it!  I even finished 13th in my age division (don’t ask how many were in my age division!)! Ironically, the run turned out to be the easiest part and the short swim, the hardest (I swear, I thought I was going to drown!).

What I learned:
- I am better, stronger and faster than I thought I was (remember the Six Million Dollar Man/Bionic Woman?).
- To run a “race” (any race in life) one has to train - I had to get “bionic” in baby steps.
- I had to give myself a break.  I had to take days off of training to rest and repair;  I had to plan to give myself walking breaks within the run (previously I thought one HAD to run the entire 5K distance); and I had to give myself a break when I failed.  Failure is ALWAYS an option.
- I am never too old.

What “impossibility” can you challenge yourself with today?  I bet you’re better, stronger and faster than you think you are.  I bet you’re bionic too!

-Tessa L. Charles

“When you put yourself on the line in a race and expose yourself to the unknown, you learn things about yourself that are very exciting.” – Doris Brown Heritage, 5-time World Cross Country Champion

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Strong Enough For A Man, But Made For A Woman

Who remembers that ad line for Secret Deodorant in the 80’s?  So clever to tout the strength of the product to keep even the toughest perspiration and odors at bay, but yet be gentle enough for women to put on her “delicate” skin.

I come from a long line of VERY strong women.  Also, I grew up in a unique time which colored my outlook in what it is like to be a woman.  I was born in the middle of the somewhat misogynistic 60’s (ever watch Mad Men?), spent my formative years in the “women’s lib” 70’s, experienced the “me generation” in the 80’s, got married and had children in the 90’s when not only were women AWESOME, but men were asinine (think of the TV shows, Married With Children, The Simpsons, Home Improvement).  By the time the new millennium came around I began to wonder, why is it that just because one gender becomes more valued over time that the other has to become less so?

I have often been described by some as a “strong” woman and sometimes I have perceived that as a compliment, a backhanded compliment or an outright criticism.  When I experienced a miscarriage before my first son was born, a friend of mine said she knew I could withstand the pain of loss because, “You’re a strong woman” she assured.  This past summer, my former high school teacher, a few high school friends and I got together for dinner.  My former teacher said he remembered in high school I was funny, sarcastic with a mature strength “kind of like…..a guy”. Once when my husband and I were watching a TV program about the differences between men and women in marriage, my husband turned to me and said, “Geez, you’re more like the man in the relationship” (he has said that he meant that as a compliment, but I took it as a criticism).

I had occasionally resented when people would describe me as strong, because, as I’ve mentioned, I would perceive them as sometimes questioning my femininity, as if I couldn’t be strong without being masculine.  It’s the same pet peeve I have when men in some type of authoritative role will call male underlings, “ladies” or “girls” as a put down to insinuate weakness, I presume.

After much contemplation and prayer what I have learned is this:  I am strong, but not like a man.  I am strong like a woman. 

We are all strong in our own unique, creative, gifted way.  It is not necessary for all of us to be strong in exactly the same manner.  It IS however, necessary for us to appreciate and celebrate each other’s strengths; loving and embracing the differences in each of us.

Thanks to all of you who have identified my strengths because when I’m feeling like jelly inside, I remember and encourage myself with your words.

-Tessa L. Charles

"She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future." Prov. 31:25 NLT

Tuesday, October 28, 2014


So after almost a year of “radio silence” I’m back.  Did you miss me?

When last I left you, I was going to school full-time, which was taking up all of my spare time but I’m proud to say that I finally graduated with my Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies this past June! What was a surprise to me was that this last year of education was probably the most intense of my long (very long as it turns out) undergrad career AND I dare say, it was the most enjoyable!  In fact, I am considering continuing my education, perhaps a Master’s program is in my future………but not just yet.

Shortly after graduation, I wondered if I should start up this blog again and decided against it.   Although creative writing is one of my passions, I had done enough research and analysis for all of my school assignments and frankly, I was tired of writing.  Additionally, I thought I had said all I needed, and lastly, I figured no one really cared to read what I had to say anymore and it was here that I was apparently wrong.  Within a few weeks after I stopped producing submissions, women would ask me why.  Using school as my legitimate excuse, I expected that by the time a few months had passed no one else would even remember what I had contributed to the vast internet blog world.

That was until a few weeks ago, when 3 of my high school “bestie’s” and I went for our annual “Girl’s Weekend Out”.  One friend, whom I’ve known since we were 5 years old paid me a high compliment by stating that what I have to say frequently gives her a more positive perspective and my other friends agreed.  By the time the weekend had come to its end, I had promised my girls that I’d start up the blog again.  And so……………I’m baaaack!!

The point is this:  You may never know how your words will affect someone else.  Knowing that my friend is very sparing with her praise, I took her sentiments quite sincerely.  And apparently, I didn’t know that what I had to say made much of a difference as well.  I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing, encouraging friends near and far and I’m glad to be able to use their example to use my words to encourage others.

-Tessa L. Charles

"Words kill, words give life; they're either poison or fruit - you choose." Prov. 18:21 MSG