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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Workout Regimen for The Failure


I've just come back from a 1.86 mile walk in my neighborhood. My knee hurts. It will hurt worse later. The tracker I use barely ticked off any calories. In fact, it took me nearly 20 minutes start to finish. Clearly, I am a long way from marathoning anything.

However, I consider myself fit in one way. I was reminded, while walking, thinking, podcasting .... my failure muscles are ripped.

My walk this morning took me past a home I once lived in. Friends took me in, offered me a room and shelter when I was in between living situations. They fed me, cared for me, and in fact, were wonderful hosts. I considered them friends.

Today, if that hostess saw me on the street he would look away. I'm someone he used to know.
That friendship failed.

In fact, I've had a whole line of failures. The memoir I'm going to write will most definitely be chapter after chapter of amazing feats of failure and disappointment with a smattering of triumph.
Which is why recently when I was asked how it is that I am so calm (an inaccurate observation in my opinion), I can say it is because I've lived so many stories that didn't turn out well (and, look at me here! I survived!) that I can trust whatever I'm facing, whatever I'm afraid of, whatever is daunting to me.... will either work out or it won't. While I certainly prefer it to work out, I have come to see also that if it doesn't it will make for a fantastic story, a powerful lesson learned or a stepping stone for the path I need to be on.

Actor Vince Vaughn recently said on The Tim Ferris Show podcast, "The thing about failing is that you realize failure is not as bad as your mind makes it out to be."

I agree. The fear of failing, in my experience, has always been more dramatic. The actual consequences of failing have not been as devastating.

That isn't to say disappointment doesn't sting, or a terrible idea isn't embarrassing, or broken relationships aren't painful, they certainly are. Instead, I hope you know you don't have to live in your brain where fear and what ifs are cranked out faster than dreams, hopes, and ideas.
You can try a new thing.
Take a new job.
Have faith in your parenting.
Trust people.
Write a book.
You can do any of those things and more when you've developed a failure muscle.
We already know that muscles are developed when a repeated, stressful action tears down the body. That tearing down must happen in order to rebuild that muscle.

That's exactly what failure experiences do for us.

We feel the ripping, or renting, of failing inside - in our hearts or minds - but as it tears we are being prepared for a building.

Don't miss out on the great experience of being built up - of working out your failure muscle - because you're consumed with propping up something that honestly, you need to let go.

Things fail. All the time. And each time it does, and you respect that moment, a strange little muscle you didn't know you have gets a workout.
You develop resilience.
Your failure muscle starts to poke through.
You find you're a little less afraid.
You have a bout of courage.
You discover failing didn't hurt as bad as you imagined.
You realize you're good. And worthy.
And ripped.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

FOMO No More

Let's talk about FOMO.

Or more precisely I need to process FOMO because I'm growing uncomfortable with this fear-y thing growing in fervor. I can practically feel it breathing down my neck. Recently I've even turned and entertained FOMO and I don't like the way it makes me feel.

What is it? Fear of missing out. (Shudders).

This may not be acceptable to admit to oneself - or even out loud, but I've worried about being left out. Worry about what everyone thinks. Worry about what make and model my kid will be seen driving. What I'll be driving. Where I'll sit. That comment thread on Facebook.
On Twitter.
On Instagram.
I worry about my posts, my likes, my shares.

And it can't be just me.

I see FOMO at work. People who won't shut their doors and get their work done because they're too afraid of missing a conversation, information or being seen. All the while work is suffering and stress abounds because piles add up on their desk.

I see FOMO in parents. Moms and dad buying and spending paying more attention to their child's appearances than to their character.

You know, character. The development of internal traits to DO good and BE good in dark places.

I see FOMO from the bleachers. Travel leagues and open gyms scheduled not to teach skills - not really - but organized to generate that warm fuzzy feeling of inclusion.

And FOMO is rampant on our phones. We scroll and refresh constantly trolling for virtual information that we weigh and measure against our self esteem. I'm tired of every conversation starting like this: Did you see on Facebook...?

It's okay to close your your door and get work done.
It's okay to tell your kids no. It's okay to not buy them what they want.
It's okay to not play a sport / get that lead.
It's okay to shut down the notifications on your phone.

You don't have have to be afraid of missing out.
You - there, at home tonight .... you with nothing exciting to post or tweet about ... you - as you are right now - are fine.

Listen, tell that little voice inside your head to sit down and shut up.
Because anytime you begin to think or start a sentence with "I'm just afraid ..." you've got to stop ... pause ... and rethink for a just second.

"I'm just afraid if we miss the deadline he'll be devastated"
(he will & probably should have lots of disappointments in life - lots! and that's okay!)
"I'm afraid if we don't get her a (_______insert expensive purchase) she just won't be able to (_____ insert activity she can live without).
(oh she can - she can most certainly live so a new phone / tv / car)
"I'm afraid if I let this relationship go nothing better will come along"
(Nothing better? Ever? Never? .... come on!)

Fear based decisions will rarely ever provide you a solid foundation for moving yourself forward in life.

Don't be afraid.
Let's FOMO no more.
I want to live life doing what I want to do. I'm ready to drop the hustle that at best, only produces a mirage of my own life.
I want to relax a little with what I have - who I am - and where I'm going.
And I'm not afraid to look for friends who want to join me on that journey.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Serving up Senior Night


My husband posted the following Facebook update last night. It moves me to tears every. single. time.

I've had an interesting amount of emotion with my son's last game last night. I told my wife a chapter has finished.
I started this journey taking both my boys to early morning basketball games at the Y. It all ended in the dark driving back from Kewanee last night.
My wife and I followed him to the high school to pick him off the bus. We watched the team exit and the bus pull away. After an extra long time Ethan still didn't come out of the school. Finally, I saw him and kind of joked with him about crying in the lockerroom. He said, "No, I carried the water cooler back inside."
"Wait...what? You're a senior it's your last game of your career and you end it carrying the water back inside the building.Of all nights this has to be someone else's job right?"
"Nope Dad," he said, "it's something I've been doing all season." he said.
My heart burst, the tears finally started to fall. You see, Ethan twisted his ankle last week and didn't get to finish his season on the floor, instead his last act of basketball was serving his coach and team.
Today I can't brag about how many points he had last night, or that he made the game winning block, or he hoisted the regional plaque. Instead I'm going to brag about Ethan - that he carried the water. I realize the greatest lesson he learned all these years is that in order to be great you serve and put others first. ~ Aaron
#proudDad #leaderseatlast #senior #characterisformed

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

What about Today?

My entire adult life I've gravitated towards books, quotes, and speeches about combating worry and fear.

And that's a long time. 
And a lot of information.
And yet I continue seeking out how not to worry advice.

It's because I'm human. And I have a brain. And my human brain wants so badly to be an unbridled train going to whatever destination it wants.

Being the conductor of my thought life is a full-time job. The more though, that I take the controls the better I manage my stress and fear. So I keep practicing, keep charting the journey and keep moving through each day.

"Give us this day our daily bread" Matthew 6:11

The Lord's prayer, a very well known prayer, asks only what we need for today; not tomorrow, and not too much; please, provide me only what I need to satisfy me for today.

When stress and worry rise to the surface of my thoughts I recall this prayer and I ask myself, "How much of what I am stressed about right now will happen today?"

Will I have enough money for my bills  ... today?
Will my kids find a good spouse ... today ?
Will I sell a house ... today?

Turns out of all the things I find myself worrying about NONE of them are going to come to fruition TODAY.
Therefore, I am spending a lot of mental energy on something that isn't going to even happen to me today.
So whenever I feel that tightness in my throat creep up, my heart race a little faster and my mind wander down a track that feels scary I ask myself, "Do you have what you need today?" and the truth is Yes! Yes, I do.

I remember "Give us this day our daily bread" and I close my eyes and thank God because it's clear to me that today, right now, in this moment I am well taken care of. And that is very much enough to be grateful.
And thankful.
And happy.


Truth is asking myself if what I'm worried about will happen today has revolutionized my insides. Peace comes quickly every time I remind myself today I am not ruined. Today I have what I need. 

"So never worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about itself." Matthew 6:34 

I hope you examine your day and find that you have what you need to make it today. And if you do be at peace. You've made it this far. 



Check out Rob Bell's podcast Wisdom Part 8: Two Things I Ask of You for the inspiration behind these thoughts today! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

I Just Can't Even


They say the speeches you hear or books you read that profoundly impact your life have little to do with the dynamic presentation but instead have articulated the ideas you've not been able to express.

I think that's true.

Of all the countless church services I've sat through, and the hundreds of conferences in my professional carreer, I can graphically remember only a dozen or so messages.

One message I'll never forget, and quite frankly am recalling for my own encouragement this week, is this; while attending a leadership conference, the speaker asked us to stand up. He then instructed each individual to keep their feet planted but to turn at the waist and try to see behind them.

We did.

He asked us to pick a spot on the wall behind us and then to try and twist in order to see even further.

We did.

Holding the pose and still looking behind us, the speaker asked us to take note of how much further we were able to see when asked to put in more effort.

I remember turning and feeling the stretch in my back when I looked behind. I was curious to see how much further I could see if I tried and I remember a feeling of satisfaction when I realized I could see more than I thought. Just as I was pondering the experiment the speaker asked us to turn ourselves as far as we could.

Thinking it was a ridiculous request I tried to turn myself even further and to my own surprise I was able to look way further than I thought I could.

My favorite Bitmoji

Think about that.

When I thought I had twisted, turned, flexed and stretched to my max, I found I had more room to go.

I had more room to go.

So the next time you think you, "Just can't" pause and ask yourself have you really reached the end of your capabilities, or do you have some more stretch in you?

If you're done - you're done. Know when it's the end. What I'm talking about here is grit. And digging deep. And not quitting without at least trying.
You might surprise yourself.
You might think you've put in as much effort as you can but with one ... more ... twist, yes into that place where you're afraid it might get uncomfortable, you might surprise yourself.

You might have more room to go.
And you might see something you've not yet noticed.

And that might be your next best thing.

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Oh Hey there Junior High - I see you haven't changed much.


I spent one of my junior high years at a private school and the second at public school and as I dig deep into my memories I cannot find a positive memory from either experience.

But I shook those rough years off and then, well ... grew up.

When my daughters entered junior high my past remained faithfully tucked away in a dusty old yearbook somewhere. This was going to be their experience. This, I was certain would be better.

But, oh hey there Junior High. I can see you haven't changed much.

I wondered if my fraternal twin daughters - who are a sun and a moon, they couldn't be more different in every way - would stay together or use the freedom junior high has to offer - to branch apart; find their own set of friends, activities and hobbies.

They haven't. I've noticed in a group of girls, they still stick together and I'll admit at first I thought it was a good sign; their bond would remain intact. But as time went by it appeared they were less sticking together and, I began to wonder, more being left out.

Maybe they were but my heart told me they have what they need inside of them to navigate the social scene. Not climb to the top of the social ladder - we're in no way interested in our Tribe to be on top people, we're more interested in being happy, kind, make the world a better place people.

I decided not to worry about them.

And it seemed I was making the right decision when teachers, coaches, and even other parents on the bleachers stopped to tell me how much they were enjoying the girls, especially my 'sun' (the shiny sparkly one of the sun/moon combination).

Until. Yesterday twin sister was visiably upset. Upon investigation she confessed she was privy to some hateful conversation about her twin. Apparently my sun is too sparkle-y, too loud and obnoxious.

I looked at her beautiful face, eyes rimmed with tears dangerously close to spilling down her cheeks, masked my own grief and asked what she was going to do with that information.

We talked about the reprocussions of approaching the mean girls as well as the probability of just keeping quiet about it all. I asked her to consider all of the possible outcomes and instructed her to understand whatever she chooses to do, she has to own the consequences. We hugged it out and we'll see what happens on Monday, if anything.

I find it ironic how the same qualities celebrated by the adults who have met twin sister are the same characteristics annoying her peers.

I think that is the very hardest part about parenting; raising children to be people who have the skills to navigate the bigger, wider, and sometimes harsher world, while fostering the belief that they have a meaningful contribution to make to it.

Turns out potty training was not the hard part of raising kids. Releasing them out into the world prepared is. Thank goodness we get to do it in stages. First junior high, next the rest of their lives.

What about you? Have your daughters had 'mean girl' experiences? How did you handle it?

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