The home stretch: bidding farewell to 2019

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How’s the year wrapping up in your world? Mine resembles a project still in the works: missing pieces to the puzzle; loose ends, tangled and frayed. Unfinished business: words left unspoken; goals unrealized. As well as one certainty: I don’t want to arrive at the end of my life or the end of next year—or the end of next month—without seeing progress. Although baby steps still mean we’re moving forward, we might fall on our hindquarters, take two steps back for each one we advance or veer off the original course. But we shouldn’t drop to our knees where we are and stop—unless it’s to pray. So as we bid farewell to 2019, I pray for: a clear vision for the New Year, favor to succeed, strength to overcome, confidence in our convictions and the peace that passes all understanding. And that any loose ends or unfinished business or missing pieces to the puzzle serve as stepping stones from one chapter to the next.

Cheers!

Image courtesy of Krishna arts at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

It’s your birthday! Sharing the gift of ourselves.

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To know even one life has breathed easier
because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.
~ Bessie Anderson Stanley

As we mature, birthdays can be a funny thing. Some people dread them; others don’t afford them a second thought. Still others, like me, welcome them with a childlike excitement. Recently, I renewed my annual membership in Club 50, complete with “signature” tiara and full-day (OK, three-day) celebration. Nothing fancy—except my princess attire—I embraced every moment. Because here’s the thing: birthdays are non-negotiable until they run out. And, if nothing else, they offer an opportunity to reflect on the past 12 months of our journey, as well as provide a blank slate on which to write our stories for the next 365 (or 366) days—much like a brand-new calendar year. My plan? To be a better steward of my life going forward. After all, there’s no better way to give to others than to share the gift of ourselves.

What’s your take on birthdays?

Brave enough: finding strength to admit our brokenness

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From the start, my purpose for writing “A nasty word called addiction…” centered on a message of hope and redemption, as well as a way to mark a milestone in my own journey of healing. It’s no secret that many of us suffer in silence from a laundry list of afflictions. Yet, the older I get, the more I feel a kinship with those who hide behind the fake smiles, the false bravado. Because I, too, share the DNA of brokenness. Yet, as I navigate—aka stumble, skip or sidle (depending on the day)—this season of Club 50, I often entertain second thoughts about broaching various “taboo” topics in conversation or my writing. However, if we’re unwilling to allow ourselves the discomfort of vulnerability, then we miss an opportunity to engage in deeper connection with humanity, and ourselves. Transparency, I believe, serves as a catalyst to healing and a collective oneness. And affords us strength when we’re brave enough to admit our brokenness.

Are you brave enough?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

How to determine if you’re an amateur or a professional

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In a recent post, I talk about taking massive action to fight for your goals. The article I reference focuses on the importance of changing our mindsets. And that it isn’t just trying something once, or trying and failing and then quitting. It means trying until we get the results we want; i.e., mastering daily habits that ultimately lead to success. According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits and the creator of the Habits Academy, it’s about the power of schedule and creating a daily routine. Clear says, “Stop waiting for motivation or creative inspiration to strike you and set a schedule for your habits. This is the difference between professionals and amateurs. Professionals set a schedule and stick to it. Amateurs wait until they feel inspired or motivated.” Further, give yourself permission to deliver a less-than-average outcome. “The only way to be consistent enough to make a masterpiece is to give yourself permission to create junk along the way.”

So what’s the verdict—amateur or pro?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

A time for everything: the key is in the knowing when

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I can obsess over life’s minutiae with the best of them. Pounce on an idea or thought, roll it around, pound it out, stretch it and kneed it, worry it and ruminate on it—until I become paralyzed—hashing and rehashing, attempting to establish if or when I took a wrong turn, misjudged or misunderstood. Oftentimes, I seek freedom from my thoughts through journaling, a safe place where I scrawl my uncensored soul across the pages of my college-ruled notebook. Mostly, though, I pray. Absolved of conventions about where or when or how, I unearth solace on the mountain trails. Just me and God and nature’s playground. It’s here where I often find the answers—and healing—I seek. I’ve mentioned it before, how there’s a time for everything according to the Good Book: A time to keep and a time to throw away… a time to be silent and a time to speak. The key is in the knowing when.

Do you struggle with the knowing when?

Taking massive action: fight for your goals

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I’ve mentioned a friend of mine—KM—in previous posts. We met during a four-day writers’ retreat in Port Townsend and, in some ways, I’m surprised by our connection; in other ways, it makes sense. As she once said to me: It just is. Over time, she’s become a sounding board, the voice of reason (aka my conscience), a cheerleader and mentor of sorts. My hope: to reciprocate in kind. Recently, KM emailed me one such token of her “tribal” (e.g., the battle cry of writers, bloggers, yogis, etc.) affection—a link to an article intended, I believe, to make me think (she’s subtle like that) about why I haven’t been fighting for my goals. After all, I’ve always believed if you want something bad enough, you will do whatever it takes to make it happen. A word of caution: avoid hinging that something on someone else. We must pick up the gauntlet and take massive action by fighting for ourselves.

Are you ready to take massive action?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net.

All the things we carry: how to lighten our load

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The Things They Carried, a collection of short stories written by Tim O’Brien (1990), describes the physical and emotional things American soldiers carried while serving on the ground in Vietnam. Years ago, I studied the compilation while enrolled in an undergraduate creative writing course. Today, I think about all the things we carry throughout our lives. The intangibles that are out of sight, yet weigh us down in mind: the heavy burdens of emotional baggage, the ugly scars from our pasts. Yet I wonder if there’s a way to purge—to abandon and/or forget—the things that impede in order to make room for the things we choose to carry instead: an attitude of gratitude, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. And always forgiveness. All the things that help lighten our load along the way. Or perhaps the most important thing is to help carry each other’s afflictions in order to share the load.

What things do you carry that should be left behind?

Image source: http://rickhudgens.blogspot.com.

 

Gain vs. gap: realigning our focus

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I’m notorious for making things harder than they need to be. And often creating more work for myself in the process. Anyone else relate? <raising hand> Lately, however, I’m finding peace in that space between now and then. You know the space I’m talking about: the gap. Recently, I read an article written by a popular motivational guru who encourages readers to focus on the gain, rather than the gap. Loosely translated, I take this to mean we must look at what we’ve accomplished vs. what we have yet to realize. Consequently, rather than fight the process—of growth, of attracting abundance, of [fill in the blank]—I’m learning to go with the flow when necessary, and to identify when a means or a method no longer serves me before I wind up spinning my wheels in frustration. To quote my good friend KM: “assimilate; make connections.” And then trust yourself to know when to act.

What things do you usually make harder than they need to be?

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The big picture: sacrificing on the front end

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Last Sunday morning, I woke up and declared aloud: “I’m not hiking today”—which was a pretty big deal, since anyone who knows me also knows a trek in the mountains provides me an opportunity to decompress, to recharge and to reconnect with my Maker on a deeper level. However, if past experience taught me anything, it required I consider the plans I hoped to accomplish before lights out that evening. In this particular case, it meant sacrifice on the front end to set myself up for success on the tail end. I spent roughly three hours (factoring in typical commute and trail choice) playing catch up: paperwork, goal setting and household chores. Plus, I prepared a hearty split pea soup for dinner. The pièce de résistance? A strong plan sketched out for the week, month and year ahead. And the bonus: enough time for a wild and crazy Trivial Pursuit game night.

What sacrifice have you made on the front end to realize a successful tail end?

One size fits all: except when it doesn’t

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One size fits all, a common phrase—whether referring to a hat or a pair of socks—that means to accommodate the varying preferences of most people. But then there are nutrition and fitness plans, haircare and skincare and anti-aging formulas, for example—that each sound life-changing when presented by enthusiasts who’ve experienced positive results in these areas. I’ve heard Keto is the way to nourish our bodies, yoga is the cure-all for whatever ails, apple cider vinegar is a magic elixir and XYZ is the only essential oil I should apply to my skin or hair. Recently, even I couldn’t resist the lure of a book claiming it’s the last “plotting book” ever needed. But guess what? Everyone is different, which means we must conduct our own due diligence—for the latest and greatest trends—and adapt accordingly. And instead of lamenting an overabundance of choices, we should appreciate it’s not the entire wheel we need to reinvent.

What success have you had with a one-size-fits-all approach?

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