The Wisdom of Harold and His Purple Crayon

Ahh the wisdom of children’s books… One of the gifts of motherhood has been rediscovering children’s books. Reading them as an adult, I have discovered a treasure trove of poignant wisdom. My son, like most children, enjoys reading the same story over and over and over and over and… well, you get the picture. The latest book du jour is Harold and the Purple Crayon. Somehow I missed this book growing up but am thoroughly enjoying it as an adult. Oh what a lovely story! If you’ve never read it, you really should go to the bookstore or library and read through it.

As I have been reading this story for several nights now, I’ve had some time to reflect, shall we say, on Harold’s adventure. Harold and the Purple Crayon is about a little boy named Harold who creates an entire world with his purple crayon. Harold goes on a mighty adventure filled with apple trees, dragons, oceans, ships, picnics with pies as far as the eye can see, mountains, and tall buildings until finally he decides it time to find home and go to sleep. I know, I know, it sounds too simple to be profound, but it is such a beautiful commentary on the power that lies within us to bring our dreams to life.

This evening, the beginning of the book really struck me…

One evening, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight. There wasn’t any moon, and Harold needed a moon for a walk in the moonlight. haroldmoonresized_9737

And he needed something to walk on. He made a long straight path so he wouldn’t get lost.

haroldpageAnd he set off on his walk, taking his big purple crayon with him. But he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So he left the path…

But he didn’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So he left the path…

Sometimes we need the long straight path to guide us so we don’t get lost, to give us security and direction when we are just starting out. The long straight path is indeed helpful. Necessary.

But sometimes we discover that we don’t seem to be getting anywhere on the long straight path. So we leave the path. We have to leave the path for the unknown adventure.

We need the long straight path and we need to leave the long straight path. If we stay on the straight path forever, we lose the opportunity to stretch ourselves and experience the glorious uncertainty of adventure. However, if we are always leaving the straight path for the unknown, then we never establish roots or plant seeds that will one day bear fruit. Our lives need to be a mixture of both… following the straight path when we need security and creating a new one when we realize we are not going anywhere.

What is your heart longing to do? What does your journey look like right now? Do you need the long straight path to keep you from getting lost or do you need to leave the path and set off on a new adventure? Wherever you are on your journey, remember you can choose the path… and don’t forget your purple crayon. ;)

Do You Want To Be Well?

Do you ever fall into this trap? You start your week and you think This is going to be the week that I start exercising, that I start eating healthy. This is going to be the week I finally muster the courage to call the doctor, the counselor, the friend I’ve been avoiding. This week I will finally start having a quiet time, meditating in the morning, spending less time on Facebook. Do you ever fall into the trap of planning for and then delaying change in your life? What keeps us from changing? What keeps us from following through with the things we want to do or we know we need to do for our own health and wellbeing? Why is change SO difficult and staying stuck so easy?

Here is the dilemma that I think a lot of us live in- we want change, we want health, but we aren’t always sure if we want to do what it takes to get to that end. Or rather we don’t believe we can do what it takes to move us to that end. So we stay stuck.

I’ve found that the key to change is not necessarily doing something, but often it is not doing something. Change often involves giving something up, and I think that is why change is so difficult. Letting go of the ragged security blanket, stopping a habit, surrendering… that is tough business.

We have to ask ourselves- do I want to be well? Do I really want to be well? Because to be well- to be emotionally, mentally, relationally, physically well- we have to pay the cost of being well. We have to give up what we know for wellness.

To change the marriage, we have to give up always trying to keep the peace or always simmering in anger. To change our discontent with the direction of our lives, we have to give up the need for certainty and we finally have to make a decision and take a leap. To change the loneliness we feel, we have to give up some of the heart clutter that keeps us from being truly known and seen in our relationships.

Being well is hard work. It is hard work because it requires faith, trust, surrender, and a long, hard look in the mirror. Being well means we have to get honest with ourselves. How do you answer when life presents you with the question Do you want to be well?

Honestly, how do you answer?

Most of us don’t give a yes or no answer. Most of us give the reason we are not well already. We live in the yes, but…

Yes, of course, I want to be well, but this is such a stressful season that I can’t deal with making those changes right now. Yes, I want to be healthier emotionally and physically but I don’t have time to do the work right now. Yes, I want to go to counseling and start healing from this old baggage, but I can’t find a counselor. Yes, I want to make some changes, but I don’t have anyone to help me. Yes, but I don’t know where to start. Yes, but I have tried everything and nothing has worked Yes, but you don’t understand how bad my pain is… nothing can help me.

The yes… but is a powerful tool. It creates a weird safety net that keeps us imprisons us from positive change. And I think if we are really, really honest with ourselves, for a lot of us it’s not so much that we want to get well; I think it’s more we want to stop being in pain. We want the pain to stop. That’s what we want to change. We want the pain to go away.

We want the insomnia to go away. We want the stomach aches to go away. We want the headaches to go away, the racing thoughts, the sadness, the depression. We want the symptoms of our mental and heart stress to go away, but we’re not entirely sure we want to be well.

Wanting the pain to stop and wanting to be well are two different things. To be well means we have to get to the root of what keeps us up at night at, what makes our stomach hurt, and our heart race. To be well means we have to dig, and most of us prefer to stay above ground.

We will never be well if we’re just treating symptoms and not actually addressing the root issues. To get at those roots, it means we’re going to have to do things that are uncomfortable and that we really do not want to do. We are going to have to talk about things we don’t want to talk about, to be honest and assertive rather than silent and passive. It means we’re going to have to surrender how we’re living, the schedule we’re keeping, the people we’re trying to please, the shame based beliefs we’re bowing down to.

No wonder we stay stuck. It is a lot easier.

One of my mentors used to say you have two choices: Pain and Pain. You can choose the pain you know or you can choose the pain you don’t know. The pain you know will get you what you’ve always gotten, but the pain you don’t know just might get you freedom. There is going to be pain, but you can choose productive pain that moves you toward wellness or you can choose unproductive pain that keeps you exactly where you are.

So it’s a really legitimate question- Do you want to be well?   If your answer is yes, go one step further- what are you doing to move yourself toward wellness? If you hear yourself giving a yes… but answer or if the way you are living indicates a yes… but answer, then start from there. Be honest with yourself about what is keeping you stuck when you say you want one thing but your actions and choices are pursuing a different direction.

Be well, friends! It’s hard work, but it’s a whole lot better than staying stuck!

Decluttering Your Soul

I cannot stand clutter. It literally stresses me out. When my kitchen counter gets too overrun with unopened mail and my son’s artwork and stacks of other papers that I don’t know what to do with, my heart starts racing and I can feel my body temperature start to rise. That being said, I am not one of these super organized people. As much as clutter stresses me out, so do those pictures on Pinterest of organizing solutions and color coded, labeled bins. I look at those pictures I simultaneously feel jealous, annoyed, and overwhelmed. That level of organization just seems like so much to get organized

So as much as I dislike clutter, the truth is I’m no stranger to jam packed shelves, overstuffed drawers, and stacks… oh I love my stacks.

Whenever I think of clutter and things that I need to let go of, two items in my house always come to mind: the double Slanket and the ice cream maker

Let me start with the ice cream maker. I don’t know what my husband and I thought our lives as a married couple were going to be like when we were registering for gifts twelve years ago, but apparently we thought we were going to be entertainers extraordinaire. We registered for an assortment of entertaining items and household goods that in a million years I don’t know how or when we could have used all that stuff.   Over the years, I have managed to part with some of those things, but there is one item I simply cannot let go of- the ice cream maker

This ice cream takes up a rather large amount of real estate in our pantry/laundry room, and truth be told, I have never even gotten the thing out of the box. Never. Yet, I will not give it away. I feel bad that someone spent all that money on a gift and feel like I should hold onto it. I tell myself that someday I’ll make ice cream for my son… and there will be memories… and laughter. There will ice cream, laughter filled memories. And so there the ice cream maker still sits

Then there is the Slanket. About six years ago you may remember that the Snuggie appeared on the market. You could by a Snuggie at Walgreens for $14. But a Slanket, the original blanket with sleeves, was sold on television for $40. I have no idea what prompted my husband to do this, but one night he saw a commercial for a double Slanket, a Slanket with four armholes so you and your loved one can sit cuddled under this contraption, and he spent $40+ on this double Slanket. He was beyond proud of himself and so excited to have solved all of my nightly temperature challenges.

Well, the $40+ Slanket arrived, and I have no idea what this thing was made of but you couldn’t sit under it for more than five minutes for fear that your body would burst into flames. It didn’t just keep you warm. It set your body on fire… a sweaty, fiery mess.

So use of the Slanket was very short lived yet it lingers in one of our few cabinets we have for storage because my husband refuses to let me give it away. Clutter. It is the worst.

We all have things we hang onto and things that are easier for us to let go of, and we have all sorts of reasons we let things linger in our lives:

So and so gave me this so I feel guilty if I give it away. I might need it in the future. It might come back in style. I’ll reread it someday. I will read it someday. We got these on that trip years ago. I’ll hold onto these in case I lose the weight… in case I gain the weight back. I spent a lot of money on this- I can’t just give it away. This might be worth something someday. We have to keep it for nostalgic sake.

After we stare at the cluttered cabinet and closet for far too long and muse over this laundry list of reasons, we most likely end up feeling overwhelmed and we shut the door and think, “Ugh I’ll just deal with that later.” And the clutter stays… stays taking up space… taking up room… taking up opportunity that something more beneficial, more productive, more necessary could inhabit.

Isn’t that the problem with clutter? It takes up valuable space. Even if we don’t want to make room for something else, it is still taking up space. Clutter makes things harder to find. It clouds our vision and all we can see is the mess, the clutter. We can’t see the thing we’re looking for, the thing we need in the moment.

The cost of clutter in our homes is similar to the cost of clutter in souls. Like old sweaters we can’t let go of or kitchen appliances we’re convinced we will use someday, there are some things that we hold onto in our lives sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly. Habits, quirks, worries, fears, decisions, regrets, hurts, relationships, images of who we think a loved one should be, images of who we think we should be, criticisms, dreams, nightmares. All of this stuff clutters our lives. It may not clutter our physical lives- on the outside those may look pristinely organized with color-coded, labeled bins- but it clutters our inner lives.

Just like the stuff in our closets and cabinets, this clutter keeps us from seeing what we need to see. It keeps us from finding answers, from using the resources available to us. It keeps us from trying new habits. It keeps us from going after new, healthy relationships because we’ve learned to live around all the clutter.   We’ve learned to accommodate the clutter.

What are the worries, concerns, and insecurities that are cluttering your mind? What are the feelings of anger, disappointment, and shame that are cluttering your heart?   A cluttered mind races at night and spaces out during the day. A cluttered heart is overly guarded, a little raw, and sometimes lonely. Mental clutter keeps us from doing the things we were meant to do while heart clutter keeps us from being the people we were meant to be.

What do you want to let go of in your life? What are you ready to let go of in your life? It’s the same question with one very important word change. We have to be ready to let go. We have to be willing to do the hard work to let go of the clutter that has become so much a part of our lives that we may not even notice it any more.  It can be a scary endeavor to think about letting go of the clutter that has become your constant companion, your excuse, your rationalization, maybe even your identity. But when you let go of your mental and heart clutter, you make room for the answers, wisdom, love, freedom, and joy that your mind and heart truly need.

What do you want to let go of in your life? What are you ready to let go of in your life?

I'm a Quitter

If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I love those pictures with quotes on them. Recently, I was scrolling through my News Feed and saw one that said quitting is never an option. Immediately I heard Eye of the Tiger in my mind and images of Rocky and football teams practicing in the rain and the U.S. Hockey team doing that skating drill over and over in Miracle flashed through my mind. (I LOVE sports movies. I am in no way an athlete, but sports movies and documentaries move me to chills and tears.)

After I came to from my movie montage daydream, I thought about how often we hear statements like that. Never quit. Never Give Up. Those statements are indeed inspiring and encouraging. We do have to learn to keep going. We have to push through, hang in there. A life of always giving up ends up not being much of a life.

But this time when I read this quote, I didn’t think Yeah charge the mountain, fight the good fight. Instead, I thought…

I’m a quitter.

I thought for a few more moments and decided yep I’m a quitter and I am totally okay with it.

We think of the word quit as one of the worst four letter words out there. It’s right up there with lose and lazy. You never want to be a loser. Heaven forbid someone call you lazy, and you never, EVER want to be seen as a quitter. We run from these labels as if they were ghosts chasing us in a dark forest.

But you know, as I think about all the things I have quit in my life, I have to say I’m pretty thankful that sometimes I’m a quitter.

I’m thankful I quit certain toxic relationships. I’m thankful I quit blaming myself for things that weren’t my responsibility. I’m thankful I quit music so I could pursue teaching. I’m thankful I quit teaching so I could pursue a career in counseling. I’m thankful I quit being afraid to leave my comfort zone and started taking leaps of faith. I’m thankful I quit wrestling with certain decisions and took action. I’m thankful I quit being angry with certain people. I’m thankful I am working on quitting worrying about what people think of me. I’m thankful I have been a quitter.

I think most people fall into one of two camps- There are those that quit everything and never push through the difficulty of hard work, uncertainty, and disappointment. And then there are the people who never quit and stay long past the point of healthy dedication and perseverance. They never quit because they don’t want to be perceived as a quitter, and they’ve developed a distorted sense of loyalty and commitment. They never quit because they are afraid. They never quit because they have lost all sense of self and what is right and wrong and how they deserve to be treated. They never quit, and instead their spirit slowly dies.

Yes, sometimes it is okay to quit. Sometimes the healthiest thing you can do is quit. Sometimes we have to become broken enough to discover we are strong enough to quit. Sometimes quitting is the thing that will save your soul.

unnamed

One of our most difficult tasks in life is learning to discern the difference between when we should keep moving forward and when we should lift our hands in the air and say I’m done. How do we know when to quit, move on, try a new direction, and how do we know when to stick it out, pursue, and persevere? There is not a formula for deciphering this equation. Every situation breeds a different answer.   Every story requires a different ending. Finding a balance between quitting and persevering in your life is the mark of health and maturity.

If you quit everything, then you will never learn the beauty of hard work nor will you learn the depth of your own strength and faith.   Conversely, if you hold onto everything, you may never know the power of healing and the exhilaration of letting go and trying something new.  It is emotionally dangerous to live under the notion that quitting is always wrong. Quitting can be the doorway to freedom and wholeness.

Yeah I’ve been a quitter in my life, and I’ve also been a keeper on-er. Knowing when to hang in there and knowing when to surrender have been some of the hardest decisions I have ever made.   I’m thankful for those times when I haven’t given up and hung in there, and I’m also thankful for the times I reached the end of myself and quit.

The new year is just days away, and as you are contemplating resolutions and major and minor life changes, think about where in your life you need to persevere and where you need to quit. Ask yourself if you need to quit something but are afraid to do so. Challenge yourself to wisely discern the difference between when you need to dig deep and find extra faith and strength and when you need to quit. My friends, here’s to knowing when to hang on and knowing when to quit in 2015!

What do you need to quit as you wrap up 2014 and prepare for the new year? What have you quit in your past that opened the door to healing and new opportunities? How do you discern when to quit and when to persevere?

The Truth about Anger (Part 2): Getting to the Root of Our Anger

Has this ever happened to you: you are going about your day and something happens that totally ticks you off. You become completely frustrated and irritated as if from out of nowhere. The dust settles, some time passes, and then you wonder Why in the world did I just get so angry? Why do we get angry?? What is our anger really about?

Last week we started a discussion on anger. We defined anger and discussed that anger does not have to be destructive. Stuffed anger is just has harmful to our spirits and relationships as out of control anger. We keep anger from being destructive when we learn to identify what anger feels like in our bodies and how we act in anger.   It’s normal to feel angry; it’s what you do with and in it that really matters.

We left off last week by saying that anger is a secondary emotion. Of all the things I’ve learned about anger, this little fact has been the most helpful. What does it mean that anger is a secondary emotion? Like an iceberg with it's tip rising above the ocean, there is much more going on than initially meets the eye.  It means that there is always another emotion behind anger, and that emotion goes much deeper than the anger that is exploding above the surface. Yes, you may feel angry… really, truly angry. But there is another emotion that is fueling that anger.

Learning to manage your anger means digging past your anger and identifying that root emotion. It is that root emotion that needs to be recognized and shared. Staying in your anger rather than taking the time to understand the true emotion that is fueling that anger will block anyone, including yourself, from really knowing and understanding you. Your anger then becomes a mask that keeps your authentic, vulnerable self from being seen. If we want to develop closer, more intimate relationships, we must learn to lower that mask.

The three emotions that I find are often at the root of our anger are fear/anxiety, shame (feeling insecure or not good enough), and hurt (specifically disappointment). Let’s take a closer look at how each of these feelings can pave the way to anger.

unnamed-1
unnamed-1

FEAR/ANXIETY

Anxiety is a feeling of fear or dread of something unknown that may or may not be real. Anxiety and fear are parts of life. Yet, so often when we are angry, if we dig real deep we may realize we are actually feeling anxious or scared. We can feel anxious over everything from running late to church (confession: I snap at my husband more on the way to church than any other time we’re in the car. Lovely I know) to worrying if our children are going to grow up to be serial killers because they won’t eat to green vegetables to wondering if our job is in jeopardy. When we are feeling anxious or stressed, we are much more likely to respond to someone in anger.

Let’s look at how this might play out… Work has been particularly stressful lately and there has been talk of layoffs. The environment is tense, and you are taking on extra projects trying to prove your worth and value to the company despite the air of uncertainty. You also notice that everyone in your life just happens to be especially irritating lately, and you have been arguing more with your spouse and family members. Simply put, you just feel crabby, irritated, and all around angry.

What is going on here is not that you are now an angry person or that everyone you know is all the sudden irritating, but really you are feeling anxious about the uncertainty of your job. Anxiety and fear leave us feeling weak and exposed. We counter that powerless feeling with an emotion that makes us feel “powerful”. All that adrenaline pumping through our veins certainly does make us feel powerful. In truth, though, it is a false sense of power… a false sense of power that is very seductive. That seduction is why we keep returning to the trough of anger again and again when we feel weak and powerless.

If you can slow yourself down and identify the anxiety, then you will be able to handle your anger in a more productive way. You will be able to communicate that you are feeling nervous about your work situation, and you will connect with your loved ones at a deeper level. Understanding that we are angry but then understanding what is actually behind that anger is what allows us to build emotionally honest and vulnerable relationships. Recognizing this connection between anger and anxiety/fear can be a real a-ha moment and learning to honestly and vulnerably communicate your fears can prevent all sorts of unnecessary conflict.

SHAME/INSECURITY

There is nothing that sends us into anger quicker than feeling insecure, unworthy, or not good enough. Feeling inadequate quickly triggers both our anger and anxiety, and in these situations we are inclined to either withdraw or lash out. Take a second and think of a time when you felt insecure or unsure of yourself? In that moment, how did you react to those around you? Did someone else bear the brunt of your feelings of inadequacy?

When we are feeling insecure or wondering if people are judging us, it is so easy for us in turn to become disgruntled and critical of others. When we are feeling bad about ourselves we are much more likely to use criticism and shame as our weapon of choice. We spew our shame onto someone else as a way of disconnecting from the pain of that shame. Looking at this root of our anger takes a lot of courage because we do not like to admit we feel insecure, and we really do not like to pinpoint the things that make us feel insecure. We feel insecure about our insecurities.

Slowing yourself down and learning to identify that your anger is masking deeper feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy, allows you to begin to address and heal those painful feelings. You can then share what is truly bothering you rather than picking a fight with someone and covering them in your shame-induced-anger.

HURT/DISAPPOINTMENT

Feeling hurt is a raw and tender root of anger, and hurt is often linked to disappointment. Whether we mean to or not, we have expectations. We have expectations for everything from a trip to Target to what our future is going to look like to how a dinner or a conversation or a vacation is going to go. When things do not go as planned or hoped, we feel disappointed and that disappointment may manifest as anger.

This happens all the time, and it is a great example of how we try to bury sharing our true feeling and deflect that disappointment by getting angry. Disappointment-induced-anger can be especially dangerous when we are unaware we had any expectations to begin with. It is in those scenarios when, if we are unaware of our own expectations, we are more likely to react defensively and blame another person. We do this because we are in a fight/flight response and our mind’s automatic response/goal is survival. We try to “survive” this disappointment by shutting down the emotion and turning it into anger. We have to teach our mind’s automatic response that there is another way. In sharing our true emotion, in this case disappointment, we are actually practicing vulnerability and openness, which will create more intimacy in the relationship.

Are you seeing a pattern here? We use anger to shut down and mask the emotions that leave us feeling weak or exposed or uncomfortable. But ultimately, this mask does no one any good. We have to slow ourselves down from reacting impulsively in our anger. Anger that is impulsively fired off injures individuals and relationships. But when we slow ourselves down, peel back the layers, and look at the true emotions behind our anger, we build awareness in ourselves and intimacy in our relationships.

So here’s our challenge. Everyone is going to have a bad day. Everyone is going to have a day where they have a little less patience. Everyone is going to feel frustrated, anxious, insecure, disappointed at times. It is normal. It is okay. The challenge is what are you going to do with those feelings. Are you going to let them turn into anger or are you going to spend some time understanding and sharing them?

Yes, we get angry, but anger is not always our true emotion, so to speak. Often, anger is a mask hiding our genuine heart. If you want to live authentically, if you want to be known and understood, if you want to practice vulnerability, you have to name and share the true emotion behind your anger. That is being emotionally honest. That is letting people really see you. That is how you find your voice.

Think about the last time you got angry. What was the true emotion you were experiencing? What would it be like to share that truth with the person who received your anger?

How would your life change if you made it a practice to ask yourself when you get angry, “Am I feeling anxious/fearful, insecure/not good enough, or disappointed/hurt?” and then shared those feelings with someone you trusted.

The Truth About Anger (Part 1)

When was the last time you were annoyed? Frustrated? Irritated? Down right angry?   Was it sitting in traffic with no end in sight when you were already late for an appointment? Was it taking your brood grocery shopping only to spend most of the time picking items up off the floor rather than putting them in your basket?   Or was it when you even shocked yourself at how animated (yeah we’ll go with that word) you became watching the latest sporting event?  

Anger is such an interesting emotion.  Sometimes our anger is totally warranted and sometimes it stems more from an overreaction. Anger is an emotion that a lot of people dislike to the point of fearing it. They dislike feeling it themselves and seeing it in others. This is probably because they have seen too many displays of destructive anger.  Over the years, we’ve heard all sorts of myths and mistruths about anger, which feeds our reluctance to acknowledge and understand our anger.   So anger remains this mysterious and scary emotion that most of us try to avoid at all costs.

But when we ignore or avoid our anger, we run the risk of either becoming very quiet or adopting a false voice- a harsh voice, an invulnerable voice, a voice that does not let anyone know us or get close.  Understanding the truth about anger helps you live a more authentic, vulnerable, and emotionally honest life.  Your self-awareness increases and your relationships benefit.   This is the first of a two-part blog post on understanding the truth about anger.  Why do we get angry? What is the purpose of anger and what can we learn from our anger?

All of our emotions serve as a signaling system of sorts for our mind.  Our feelings let us know how we are experiencing a situation. When we are feeling angry that tells us something has gone wrong, some sort of boundary has been crossed.  Often, it means something has happened that goes against how we think the world should work, we should be treated, or we should act.

Anger is an emotion and like any emotion it is natural for us to feel it.  It is not wrong to feel angry.  Anger is not innately destructive, but it becomes destructive when we don’t understand what triggers it or is at the root of it.  In those circumstances, we let our anger get out of control.  Anger is not a bad thing, but what we do with anger can be destructive because most of the time when we are angry we are reacting, rather than choosing to act.  When we are reactive, we are usually (okay… always) out of control.

It is neither realistic nor human to try and go through life never getting angry. Everyone gets angry.  Yes, even the sweetest, most patient peacemakers amongst us get angry.  However, it IS realistic to learn what is behind your anger so you can choose your actions and they are under control and non-harmful.

So what does it feel like to be angry?  That’s an interesting question.  We may not always realize we are angry.  What?  Yep, you read that correctly.  Many of us are so uncomfortable with anger that we stuff away any inkling of anger and redirect that energy to other activities and/or people.  But just because we stuff our feelings does not mean that our body is not still experiencing that emotion. If we know and understand how we physically experience anger, we can pay attention to our body’s cues and use that as a signal to say, “Whoa what’s going on here? Let me step away from this situation before I do or say something I’m going to regret.”

For example, if one of your physical symptoms for anger is a racing heart then when you notice your heart is racing let that be a signal that you need to stop the conversation, leave the room, etc. until you are in a more settled state physically and mentally.  Let’s be honest, this is hard to do sometimes because when that adrenaline starts pumping you just want to hang in there for the long haul. But to continue in the situation leads to destructive anger, which is never what we want.

As we become more frustrated, we become more stressed and our bodies start experiencing a physical stress response- the whole fight or flight response that has been programmed in us since cave man days when you either had to fight the tiger or run like hell.  Except now there is no tiger, but your brain doesn’t know that.  There is only your spouse or your child or your boss. (Maybe a tiger would be better!)  Your adrenaline is pumping and your brain and body are thinking, “This is it. We’ve got to either run or fight the tiger.”

In an instant, the following things start happening in your body so you can either get ready to fight or get ready to run:

  • Increased adrenaline
  • Muscles tighten
  • Increased alertness
  • Digestion stops in order to save energy  (you don’t really need to keep digesting that hamburger if you’re about to be “eaten by a tiger”)
  • Increased blood sugar
  • Increased heartbeat and blood pressure
  • Increased breathing
  • Pupils dilate and peripheral vision increases
  • Increased perspiration

All of this happens in less than two heartbeats! (Side note- isn’t the human body AMAZING?!?)  Perhaps some of you can even feel it happening.  You can feel your temperature rise and your heart race. You can feel yourself digging your heels in and getting ready to fight.  But when we get in this adrenaline pumping fight or flight mode, we don’t think clearly. When your mind is in this mode it has one objective: survival (aka win).  Your mind is not in a state where it can reason or think through things.  That is why when we are angry or frustrated we say things that we don’t mean, give consequences we have no intention of carrying out, or do things we would never do in a calm state. We are in survival mode and we will do or say anything to survive (a.k.a. win).

OR maybe your experience with anger and the proverbial tiger is different.  Maybe you are thinking I really just don’t get angry. I don’t dig in my heels. I actually am fairly calm.  Maybe you are not a fighter; maybe you are a withdrawer.  Instead of feeling a hot flash on your cheeks, you feel as if a shield is descending, and you can feel yourself pulling inward and tuning everything out.

One thing to note, whether you fight or withdraw when you are angry, you are still angry.  Some people do tend to withdraw or freeze when they are angry, and it is easy for those people to think they never get angry or don’t have a problem with anger.  This is false. Remember, we said everyone gets angry. Regardless of how you respond externally, you are still angry internally.  Stuffed anger always comes out.  It may come out a week a later, a month later, or twenty years later. It may come out in the form of depression and anxiety.  It may come out on someone or some thing not even related to the original feeling, but it always comes out.

If we want to be the healthiest versions of ourselves and if we want to have productive conflict (this can happen) in our relationships, we have to understand what happens when we’re angry, why we get angry, and how to communicate what is really going on with us.  In Part II of this blog post, we’re going to look at what is really behind our anger.  Anger is what we call a secondary emotion, which means there are always other emotions that are at the root of our anger.  Yes, it’s honest to admit you’re angry, but it is a brave act of emotional honesty and vulnerability to say, “Yes, I’m angry but really I’m scared, I’m anxious.”  If we can learn to identify and express those root emotions, then we will have those open, healthy, authentic relationships we long for.  Our hearts will thank us, our bodies will thank us, and our loved ones will thank us.  Check back in a few days for Part II: The Roots of Our Anger.  See you then!

But There Was Meat in Egypt!! (Lessons on Letting Go)

Are you good at letting go of things? I’ll be honest; I’m not. A few weeks ago I shared that I have been trying to make a conscious effort to let go of fear and control.  But letting go of fear and control are really just two smaller parts of the greater challenge of letting go.  I’m not good at letting go of anything really.  This is a constant area of growth for me.

Instead of letting go, here’s what I do.  I ruminate.  I obsess.  I glorify things from the past that do not necessarily need to be glorified.  I replay conversations.  Not only do I replay conversations, but also I rehearse conversations I would like to have where I tell that person exactly what I think.  I’ve got several scripts all written and ready to go in my head.

Like I said, this is a part of my personality I really don’t care for because nothing good grows out of it.  This struggle to let go only brings forth more angst and anxiety into my life.  I would love to be that super peaceful-at-one-with-the-earth-wearing-long-skirts type of person who is all, “Go. Fly away worries, hurts, and resentments. I am releasing you.”  But instead, I’m more of the going-to-sit-and-spin-like-a-tornado-on-a-scratched-record type of person who is all, “Why? Why?  How could this happen? It’s not fair! What if, what if???”

Last week, I had a five-hour car ride to get in some good ruminating, and as I was moving into hour three it hit me- you’re glorifying Egypt.

Egypt?  Let me explain…

One of my favorite Biblical figures/stories is that of Moses and the Israelites.   The entire account of Moses and the Israelites starting with Moses being called to go to Egypt and set the Israelites free to the great exodus to the wandering in the wilderness for 40 years really resonates with me.  No, I’ve neither been enslaved nor led a nation of people to freedom. And no, I’ve never wandered in the desert for 40 years, but I love the accounts of Moses and the Israelites because I am an Israelite.

I think we like to judge the Israelites. We like use the Israelites wandering in the wilderness as poster children for complaint-filled doubt.  We like to wag our finger in disapproval at their repeated lack of faith and frequent grumblings about their circumstances.   But come on, if we’re honest, haven’t we all been like the Israelites at some time or another?

Oh sure, I would love to think that after I had seen the ten plagues I would have walked up to the Red Sea and instantly thought God’s got this.  I would love to think I would have been in grateful awe of the daily provision of manna and water in the desert.  But the truth is I’m sure at some point I would have resented the manna and found it to be bitter.  I’m sure I would have complained that the pillar of fire guiding me by night was keeping me up because it was too bright and that the cloud by day was blocking my view of the sun.  I am sure I would have joined in dancing around the golden calf because my memory is short and my fears are mighty.   And I am absolutely positive I would have joined in the mass moaning about how life was better in Egypt and how at least in Egypt there was meat, fish, fruits, and vegetables.

Forget freedom.  Forget reaching the Promised Land.  Forget seeing the impossible become possible.  In Egypt, there were cucumbers and onions and fish!

At some point along our journey, aren’t we all guilty of glorifying the Egypt of our past?

I’ve found that sometimes when we have a hard time letting go of the past it is because we are glorifying the past.  We remember the cucumbers and forget the slavery, so to speak.

Yes, I know the relationship was bad and it kept my heart broken and anxious, but we had a connection and what if I never find a connection like that again. 

Yes, the job was soul crushing and mind numbing, but I had all those vacation days and now pursuing what I really want to do means starting at the bottom of the ladder again.

Somehow in the midst of the pain of change (and change is painful… that’s why so many people choose not to change), we forget how unhappy, unfulfilled, unhealthy we were in our “Egypt”.  Instead, we remember some distorted version of the past where our “slavery” wasn’t that bad.  We convince ourselves there were some good moments and maybe if we could just go back it would be different this time.  Or we think that it will not be that good in the future.  Oh the lies we are susceptible to when we are in the midst of change.

Discomfort clouds our vision.  It is hard to leave our past behind, especially when we are struggling in the present.  Occasionally when we are confused and feel like we are wandering it is because we are truly lost, but sometimes when we feel like we are wandering it is really because we are being prepared for our future.  When we revere our Egypt, we don’t see the healing and freedom that is happening all around us.  But mind you, there is always a price for freedom and health.  And sometimes the cost of health is the pain of letting go of those unhealthy habits, relationships, and parts of yourself that are keeping you enslaved in the past.

Do you have an “Egypt” in your life that you sometimes glorify because the present is challenging?  What do you need to remember about your “Egypt” that will help you let go?

It's Easier Not To

Several months ago I was feeling particularly overwhelmed by some work related responsibilities and deadlines.  The to-do list kept growing and growing and my energy reserves kept shrinking and shrinking.  One day I thought, “It would just be easier not to.” Isn’t that so true?

It’s easier not to.

It’s easier not to try.  It’s easier not to change.  It’s easier not to put yourself out there, not to speak up.  It’s easier not to be vulnerable, not to take the risk of uncertainty and exposure.  It’s easier not to unpack the baggage that keeps tripping you up.  It’s easier to quit when it gets hard.  It's easier to believe you can't.  It’s easier to keep doing the things you’ve always done even though you know they are bad for you.  It’s easier not to choose health.

Or is it?

I’ve thought about this phrase a lot since that day.  I’ve thought about how true it feels, yet how dangerous this belief is.  Yes, it is easier… in the short term.

In the short term.

That’s the key.

It’s easier not to in the short term.  But in the long term, that easy path turns into a pothole filled road.  Choosing not to rarely leads us to where we want to be or who we were created to be.  Choosing not to leaves us outside the arena looking in.  And when we are on the outside looking in that is when we are most likely to be judgmental and critical of those who are on the inside.

Isn’t that the kicker?  We choose not to, but then we resent those who choose YES over NO.  When we choose not to, we end up staring through the window and watching as people pursue new adventures and opportunities, as they unload their cumbersome past, as they make healthy changes that bear sweet fruit.  We end up staring through that window as we wrestle with the most uncomfortable of emotions- resentment, regret, fear, and frustration.

No, it’s not easier not to.  It feels like it in the short term.  It feels like it, but although our feelings are valid, they are not always true.

Everybody has those days when it feels easier not to.  That’s normal.  The challenge is how do you keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off.  How do you keep going?

We keep going by learning when we need to sit and be still and when we need to move.  Sometimes the very thing we need is rest.  Stepping away from the problem and doing something totally unrelated might be the very thing that gives you the perspective you need.  Giving yourself compassion and validation that this is a tough mountain to climb is often just what the doctor ordered.  More often than not, sharing your frustration, concern, and anxiety with a trusted loved one gives you the ounce of energy you need to keep moving forward.  We keep going by refocusing on why is this so important to us anyway.  Why does this matter to us?  What do we feel called to do?  When you push through the temptation to choose not to over I’m going to, you move closer to your unique purpose and farther away from your fears.  Yeah it may feel easier not to.  But when you choose not to, you miss the blessing.

I hope this week you give yourself the rest or compassion or time with loved ones you need to continue in your journey.  Choose long term over short term.  Choose purpose over fear.  Choose the blessing.

Do you ever have those days when you think, “It would just be easier not to”?  How are you learning to choose “I’m going to” over “not to”?  Which path are you choosing today?

Spring Always Comes

I turned the page of my calendar earlier this week and noticed that Spring officially starts on Thursday.  The back and forth of our weather lately certainly has most of us anxious for consistently warmer temps and sunnier days.  I love Spring, and I love Spring in Atlanta.  It is really quite breathtaking.  One of the reasons I love Spring is because  with this changing of the seasonal guard, we literally witness in nature one of life's most important lessons. Just when we think there is no way life and beauty could emerge out of the cold, dreariness of our lives, Spring always comes.  

 

After witnessing the magnificent reds, yellows, and oranges of Fall, Winter begins to set in. The lingering signs of Fall's grandeur appear on trees here and there, and sometimes those leaves trick you into believing that maybe winter will not come this year.   Like those leaves hanging despite being whipped around by wind and rain, you hang onto the remnants of your Summer dreams and Fall glory days.  You hang onto the relationship hoping the other person will change.  You hang onto the hope that your job won't be cut.  You hang onto the hope that this time, this time, things will be different.

IMG_9361

 

But Winter does come.   One day you get the call or the text or the email, and you realize it's done.  You've been given your answer, and it is not the one you wanted.  There's nothing left to hang onto.  The relationship, the dream, the plan is gone... dead.   You're not sure what to do next or where to turn .

tumblr_lu4c7omf0c1qhjfdso1_1280

 

And you start to wonder where is this road going and when will it end.   All you know is that your winter of discontent feels extremely isolating.  The loneliness of this journey simultaneously fills you and drains you.

Road to Wegrow

 

 

But one day, you lift your head and you see it... you see signs of life.

spring shots 002

You sees signs of life, signs of hope.  You discover buds of new found hope, of new found energy.  You start thinking of a new plan.  You start putting yourself out there again.  You come out of hibernation and you start slowly living again.

 

With each step forward, that cold, dark endless road turns into a beautiful, lush path.

beautiful spring path

 

With each step forward, you feel more alive and more like yourself... except not your old self, but a new, reborn self.  Your reborn self is stronger, livelier, and bolder.  You learn your Winter was not the end; it was just the end of that season.  Your Spring means another chance to fulfill that dream and a new opportunity to reach that goal.

spring-blooms-longwood-gardens-680uw

No matter how cold or dark or lonely your winter was, Spring always comes.  Light always follows darkness.  Each year, Spring teaches us that gardens do emerge out of deserts, life does emerge out of loss, and sometimes letting something die is the only way that it can be reborn into a beautiful, vibrant, life-giving  creation.

Are you ready for Spring?  What is being reborn in your life right now?

You Learn Courage by Couraging

A year ago today, I sent an email that set in motion a series of events I never could have predicted.  Here’s the backstory… In the Fall of 2012, I started reading and thinking more about what it means to live brave and be courageous.  I’ll admit when I think of courage the name Mazi Robinson does not immediately come to mind.  I am still afraid of the dark.  I don’t see scary movies.  I still have weird fears about attics, crawl spaces, and storage rooms and will not go in them by myself. (It is a hard and fast rule… much like my no fruit policy.)  I have no desire to jump out of a plane, bungee jump, or do anything that is remotely adrenaline rushing.  So when I started thinking about courage and living brave, my instant thought was I am not a brave person.  And my next thought was I want to be.

Over the next several months, I learned that living brave was not just jumping out of airplanes, but living brave had a deeper meaning to it.  Living brave means letting others really see you.   It means letting yourself be vulnerable and leaning into that vulnerability rather than running from it.  Vulnerability and courage go hand in hand-  anytime time you are being courageous, you are being vulnerable.   So I got honest about all the things I avoided and ways that I hid.  I started challenging my justifications for why I didn’t do or try certain things.  I started to identify and peel back all of my armor that I thought was protecting me but was really keeping me small and hidden.

How do you build courage?  You learn courage my couraging.  You stop hiding.  You stop avoiding and justifying.  You start doing.

 Slide1

As I began to make little changes here and there, I noticed a shift within myself.  As I stopped doing some things and started doing others, as I tried new things and let go of old, I started wanting more.  I wanted to try more new things and let go of more old habits.  You learn courage by couraging.  I still felt some intimidation and second guessing- should I do that, say that, try that- but I learned to navigate through that dialogue in my head because I knew it was coming from my shame self, not my true self.  I was on a nice little personal growth journey, and then… and then I spent a weekend in January with a wonderful group of women.

Last January, I was asked to speak at a women’s retreat for a local church.  Let me say that it is not unusual for me to cry on the way home from a speaking engagement.  I usually feel so grateful for the opportunity to speak and teach that crying seems to be the only way to let that emotion out.   But on the way home from this retreat, I cried out of sheer awe.  Later that week a friend asked me how the retreat went, and I told her it had been the single most powerful experience of my professional life.  Because you see these women… these women asked for prayer.  They didn’t ask for prayer for their aunt or their neighbor’s cousin or their co-worker’s niece.  They asked for prayer… for themselves.  They said I’m lonely, I’m lost, I’m hurting.  With tears streaming down their faces they boldly admitted that they were tired and struggling to connect with God, with their husband, with their family.  And they didn’t write it on a notecard or say it sitting down with their head hung.  They stood up with heads held high and were vulnerable.  I have never seen such cut open, let-yourself-be-seen courage in all my life.  I was in pure awe of the vulnerability expressed and the courage lived out.

Brené Brown says that courage is contagious.  It certainly is.  These courageous women moved me, and I wanted to be brave and vulnerable.  I wanted to stop giving into my fears of I can’t and what will people think.  I knew exactly what I needed to do, what I had been avoiding doing for a year.  A year prior to this I had the idea for this blog.  I spent all of 2012 trying to convince myself not to do the blog, but the idea stayed with me.  I realize that for a lot of people starting a blog does not seem like that courageous of a step, but for me it was, and continues to be, the definition of vulnerability.    You see, I don’t consider myself a writer.  I have always been incredibly insecure about my writing.   (I am well aware that comma splices and other punctuation crimes litter these pages and am deeply appreciative that no one ever corrects me.  My deep issues with grammar are for another post…) Yes, I speak and teach all the time, but for some reason having people read my words, rather than hear them, feels much more exposing for me.  But the idea of this blog, and other changes I wanted to make in my  life, just would not go away.

February 5th, 2013, I emailed my friend, Kristen, and told her all that I said above.  I told her that this felt like a big step into the arena for me and that I believed she was the one that could bring my ideas to life.  Kristen has this amazing ability to infuse grace and beauty into everything she touches.  I wanted her fingerprints on my daydreams.  I knew that I could entrust my little brainstorms and hopes to her and that she would get it.  From that email, she began designing this blog and events started to unfold that I never could have imagined.  All of my little daydreams that I had silenced with thoughts of you can’t do it and what if you fail finally came to life when I started my own counseling practice in June and a whole new world of experiences and opportunities opened before me.

You learn courage by couraging.

You learn courage by being around courageous people.  I think of all the things I learned in this past year, the most important lesson was that you never enter the arena alone.  You never take your leap of faith alone. You enter the arena with the people in your life that have modeled courage for you.  You enter the arena with the encouragement of friends’ words ringing in your ears.  You enter the arena with the One who will never leave you alone or ill-equipped.

Have you been thinking about making a change recently?  Do you have a dream you would love to bring to life?  Do you want to start facing your fears and living more courageously?  Are you ready to step into the arena?  Do it.  Do. It.  Life inside the arena is riskier; it is more exposing.  Life is messier in the arena, but it is better than sitting in the stands watching others live bravely and boldly.  The stakes do get higher when you put yourself out there.  But let me tell you, it is so worth it.  Maybe it doesn’t feel like it in those first 30 minutes or hours or days when you are still wrestling with doubt and uncertainty.  But one day you will wake up, and you will realize I did it… I survived the uncertainty and I now taste the sweetness of being brave!  

You learn courage by couraging.

You never take your leap of faith or step into your arena alone.  The models of courage precede you, and the speakers of truth and encouragement walk beside you.  And maybe, if you are lucky, God will send you a special friend who can make it beautiful. :)

To those wonderful women last January… thank you.  To Kristen… Happy Anniversary.  Thank you for bringing this past year to life.  Here’s to more daydreams becoming reality.

Thoughts for Thursday- What are you willing to give up?

In January 2012, I read Shauna Niequist’s Bittersweet.  I. Loved. It.  As I combed through the pages, daring anyone to interrupt me, I was in awe of how this woman so beautifully described almost every thought and emotion I had wrestled with over the past several years.  I dog-eared and underlined basically the entire book, but there was one chapter, in particular, that challenged and spoke to me. In the chapter entitled “Things I Don’t Do,” she starts the chapter off by relaying a piece of advice her mentor gave her years ago:

 Slide1

From there she discusses her own struggle with the “do everything better” mindset and how she lives under this constant expectation of “do everything better.” She then shares two lists: “Things I do” and “Things I Don’t Do.”  She lists things such as her faith, working on her marriage, motherhood, becoming a better writer, living in community, cooking/entertaining on her “Things I Do” list. She puts gardening, DIY home improvement, baking, scrapbooking, and spending time with negative people on her “Things I Don’t Do” list.

Reading this was huge for me.  It was like a revelation…

Hold the phone… are you telling me I can declare there are things I don’t do and let that be it?  I can decide there are things I am no longer going to force myself to do because I think I “should” so I can really invest my time and energy into the things I believe in and am passionate about??  You mean I can finally stop feeling guilty that I have never planted one flower in our yard??

This was huge for me and resulted in a complete shift of how I allocate my time and energy.  You see my problem isn’t that I can’t figure out what I want my life to be about.  I have all sorts of ideas of what I want my life to be about.  I have all sorts of ideas of what I would like to do with my time.  If someone tells me about something I should do or see or read, before you know it I have hopped on that bandwagon and I am looking into it.   The problem with hopping onto bandwagons is you can only hop onto so many of them before you are exhausted from traveling around with no clear goal or vision of where you want to end up.  You end up feeling lost and scattered.  My problem is that I want to say yes to so many things (both big and small) that I lose sight of what is truly important in my life.

There was something about the way she wrote that phrase that it finally clicked for me.  Mazi, you must decide what you are no longer going to do so you can really do the things you want and feel called to do!  Sometimes we can hear something 100 times, but there is just something about the 101st time that it just clicks for us and it feels life changing.

For example, sometime back I was thinking to myself that I wished there were 36 hours in the day because then I could get more things done.  My follow up thought was that perhaps the problem wasn’t that there were only 24 hours in a day.  Perhaps the problem was that I 1.) committed to do too much and 2.) had an unrealistic expectation of what I should accomplish in a day and how long it takes to do certain things.  Again, it felt like a revelation.   I am trying to do too much in a day!!  It’s so incredibly obvious it’s like looking in the sky for the sun and wondering what that bright orb is that is blinding you.  I’m slow, but I do get there.

It can feel like a risk to say here are the things I do, here are the things I don’t do, and I’m no longer going to feel guilty, make excuses, or beat myself up for not doing them.  At the time, it felt like a risk to begin applying this piece of wisdom to my professional and personal life.   I identified what the clear priority in my personal life was - my family - and recognized that everything else had to play second.  I clarified what I wanted my counseling practice to look like and what populations I wanted to serve.  I also identified the things I needed give up; things that either drained my energy, that I had no interest in doing but did out of guilt, or just did not align with my values and sense of calling.  Two years later and I still use this little quote as a tool to keep me from chasing after every idea that pops into my head.

Giving yourself permission to say no to some things so you can give a more resounding yes to other things is the pathway to more freedom and sense of purpose in your life.  You will always struggle to know the purpose and direction for your life if you are saying yes to everything for fear of saying no and missing out.  You will never experience freedom in your life if you live under the yoke of fear of disappointing someone or of failing or of being criticized.

A couple of weeks ago we talked about what is the one thing you want to work on or work towards in your 2014.   To dedicate yourself to your one thing- whether that be investing more in your marriage and family, taking risks professionally, healing some old heart wounds- you will have to give yourself permission to let go of some other things.  You will have to give yourself permission to say, “Here are the things I don’t do.”  There is freedom and purpose at the end of that permission slip.

So what are the things you do?  What are the things you don’t do?  This may be the exact permission your overscheduled, scattered, exhausted spirit is looking for right now.

Your One Thing in 2014

We are a week in… a week into 2014.  How’s it going so far? The holidays are over.  Christmas decorations have been taken down (or at least there are plans to take them down).   New calendars have been purchased and filled with upcoming events.  Children have returned to school, and adults have returned to the daily grind of emails, meetings, and carpool while visions of the next vacation dance in their heads.

Last week we discussed how to wrap up one year before leaping into another.    We looked at ten questions designed to help us reflect on 2013.  In keeping with that theme, here are a few questions to ponder as you start 2014.

What are some things you would like to do differently this year? What are some things you would like to repeat from last year? What relationships would you like to cultivate or invest more heavily in? What would you like to learn in 2014? But here’s the big question…

What do you want your 2014 to be about? 

This is your 2014.  You only get one.  You only get one 2014.  What do you want to do with your 2014?

As we all know, the start of a new year often means all sorts of plans for turning over new leaves.  I’m going to go the gym ___ days a week.  I’m going to stop ________.  I’m going to start ________.  I’m finally going to take up that hobby.  Resolutions, goals, plans.  Our minds and journals are filled with them.

But what do you really want your year to be about?  If you set a goal because you think you should do it, chances are pretty slim that you are going to actually accomplish the goal.  If you are really going to “cut back” or “ramp up” or “start anew”, then you have to have something much deeper motivating you than the self-imposed yoke of should thinking.

Not sure how to discern what you want to make of your 2014?  Try this… Fast-forward eleven months and a few weeks.  It’s the end of December 2014.  You are trying to figure your New Year’s Eve plans and your cursing the person who decided New Year’s Eve should be a big social occasion.  You realize, once again, you are only days away from the turning of yet another year, and you start looking back on what you have done in 2014.

When you put yourself in that picture, what is the one thing you want to be able to say you did?  What is the one thing you will regret not doing or working on in 2014?

I think there are a lot of things we can say we want to work on or try or accomplish this year.  But, in truth, there are only one or two things that are so significant to us that we will feel regret or disappointment if they go untouched.  Regret leaves a terrible aftertaste and can be an interesting motivator.  So what are your one or two things that you want to be able to say you did, or at least worked on, in 2014?  What are the steps you need to take to insure against regret?

Is it surrendering a self-destructive habit or letting go of an unhealthy relationship?  Is it repairing a broken relationship?  Is it repairing your broken spirit?  Is it facing old fears and insecurities and finally going after that dream or goal?

My hunch is that we all know the one thing we need to work on that will have positive ripple effects in other areas of our lives.  It is hard to ignore unhappiness, conflict, and dissatisfaction- the telltale signs that always point us to the one thing starving for our love, time, energy, or courage.

So how do you start this journey once you’ve identified your one thing?  You know what needs to change so that you will stop kicking yourself at the end of each year.  You know what you want your year to be about.  You start on your journey by answering these two questions:

What has kept you from this goal in the past?

What is presently keeping your from this goal?

We have to know two things to move forward-  we have to know where we want to end up and we have to know where we were.  The first step is identifying what you want to be different in your life.  The second step is figuring out why you are there in the first place and what is keeping you stuck. 

Last week on Facebook I kept seeing this quote: 

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book.  Write a good one.

So true.

You get one 2014, and you play a significant role in making it a good one.  What do you want your 2014 to be about?  What is your one thing?

Here’s to 2014, friends!  May you have joy in your heart, peace in your mind, and courage in all your endeavors!