Day 90: Bounce well.

Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce. (Vivian Komori)

Ok. So I’m not perfect. I set out to write/post a blog post every day for a year. Well, on Saturday, I forgot. Truly. Just plain forgot. I led a half day retreat in New York City, and then we had an event at my husband’s church. I woke up at 4am just to remember that I forgot. As for yesterday, well, it was Sunday, we were traveling, and I had a killer headache. Judge if you must, but nobody died because I failed to post in my blog for two days.

So, just think, you too could fail! We all do it at one point or another. We set out with the best of intentions, we do really, really well, and then life intrudes and we miss the mark. Unless you are a firefighter, or an astrophysicist working on a space mission, or an ER doctor/nurse — most of us do not put others lives in danger if we have an off day. So own it. Just remember to bounce.

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The important thing about failure is not whether, when or why it happens — it does. We may feel that we fail at times through no fault of our own. At other times, we know it’s all our fault. It’s not about whose fault it is, it’s about how quickly we get ourselves back on track.

What goals are you shooting for? What New Year’s resolution did you start three months ago that has gone by the wayside? Is it time to pick that back up, dust it off and decide what it would take to make it happen? Call it your spring resolution. It’s not just about setting goals, but setting out what it will take to meet the goals we set. Do we have the social support that we need? Do we have the tools? What do we need to put in place to make success more likely? What would it take to do that?

It’s about this time — three months in — when we can no longer achieve our goals through sheer power of will. We can usually make it through the first 90 days, or close to it. This is why when you are beginning in a recovery program for substance abuse, they will tell you that you need to make 90 meetings in 90 days. You need to exercise that “will” muscle. You need to establish a habit. You need to create community with others in your AA meetings, so that they will notice that you are not there. If you are serious about changing your life, you need to make 90 in 90.

What do you want to change in your life? Where do you need to bounce?

So it’s not important whether or not you fail. It’s more important that you get back up and start again. So here goes. I’m back on track. Keep reading. More wisdom to come.

Day 87: That’s what I said.

That’s What I Said by April Bernard

It pricks the arms like poison,
knowing that some things, once chosen,
are yours and that meanwhile the night comes
much too soon this time of year.
There are things you will not be allowed to say.
You think them anyway, until they become you.
The two boys in shirt sleeves are in the street
again, skateboards balking
where the sidewalk buckles in geologic fault.
They seem mirthless, as they yell and fall
and the cold mist tries to veil them from passing cars.

Yesterday’s storm slammed the leaves to the ground.
Hiss, hiss, the tires go, against the scraps
of piano music, not Chopin today, from upstairs.
Someone tried to understand you once
and he’s dead, though not from trying.
Clunk, clunk, goes the landlady’s daughter,
trying out her new boots on the back stairs.

Things have narrowed to a point
and no gorgeous diction can get you out of it.
There’s just the flats of your feet,
willing each new step out of empty pockets
where change, keys, pens once rattled.
You threw them into the bushes on the next block
and then came home with the grey linings hanging
from your jacket like socks.
You forgot to check the mail
and when you opened the door
you brought the night in with you.

 

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Day 86: Make every second count.

 

“It’s all in the view. That’s what I mean about forever, too. For any one of us our forever could end in an hour, or a hundred years from now. You never know for sure, so you’d better make every second count.”

Sarah Dessen, The Truth About Forever

This has been one of those days. That’s why I am only now getting around to posting on this blog. I have done everything I can to make every second count, and even though I squeezed more into this day than usual, it still has the same amount of seconds as yesterday did. And as tomorrow will.

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We are given finite time on this earth. We don’t know when this life will end, or how — we just know that it will. Life, as some would say, is terminal.

If you knew that you were going to die tomorrow, how would you live differently today?

So go do it. Don’t just sit here reading my blog, or Facebook, or Linked In. Make a phone call. Walk your dog. Call your mom. Kiss your spouse. Live like every second matters, because it does. Live like tomorrow isn’t promised — because it isn’t.

Make every second count.

 

Day 85: Claim your solitude.

Women need real moments of solitude and self-reflection to balance out how much of ourselves we give away. (Barbara de Angelis)

I can’t imagine a day without solitude. So many women I know can’t imagine a day with solitude. Which are you?

You can’t give what you don’t have. You can’t ask others to commit to things that you yourself would not be willing to do.  You can’t encourage others to slow down, if you are never willing to do that yourself.  If I am challenging my clients to slow down, spend time in prayer, find time to do what they love, and I am not doing the same — what kind of a coach and spiritual director would I be? Physician, heal thyself!

One of the most important things I have in my day is my solitude. It allows me to concentrate, read, write, plan, and pray. It gives me the mental space to accomplish what I need to do for the realm of God. I can’t give to others on an ongoing basis, if I am not taking the time I need to re-energize my being, reconnect to God and replenish my spirit. Solitude gives me the opportunity to do all that — and more.

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So decide how much you need and make it happen. Take 5 minutes to start. Slow your roll. Let your brain take a breather. Try to stop thinking for just a minute or two. It can feel really uncomfortable at first, but stick with it.

I was having a conversation with a client of mine who just recently realized that she can only be present to the people and activities in her life because she is spending time in solitude and prayer. Because she has made this change in her life, I have seen her transform before my eyes. She is energized, loving, vital and prayerful. She is being reminded daily of all that she is being called to do — and that includes being a mother, a daughter, and a wife — as well as a pastor.

In our society, you have to decide how to claim your solitude, because our lives are not designed with that as a part. You have to be intentional. You have to live it out.

How, when, and where will you claim intentional solitude? Just do it. Take time to be present to yourself, your thoughts, your breathing. Do it today. Be good to yourself.

Day 84: Taste the apples.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ― Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum LP

This week I lost a dear friend. He was a dear and difficult man, but as kind to me as anyone I have ever met. I once got so close to his car on a narrow country road that I took off his side view mirror. I was 16 years old. He didn’t yell, or fuss at me, or make me feel bad — I felt bad enough.

Instead, he decided that he would love me for the rest of his life. I was his “girlfriend.” Whenever I would come back to my hometown to visit my parents, his face would light up with joy to see me. We had 33 years after the night we met on a dark narrow country road, and now he’s gone. I will miss him.

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Our relationship could have been so different — in fact, it could have been non-existent. I remember George when I am tempted to take a young person to task for something that they did, or failed to do — particularly when there was no malice intended. I think that George must have been just about the age that I am now on that night that we met.

Have I ever done anything that will change one person’s life 33 years into the future? I hope so. I pray so. I want to be George for someone who needs me to affirm them — someone who has been broken, betrayed, or made a mistake. I want to remind them that it’s ok to sit by the apple tree and take it all in. I want to be an example of grace for someone else in the same way that George was the ultimate example of grace for me.

So today, if you are broken, if you think that life has the upper hand, if you’ve been hurt or hurt another, I want you to know it’s ok, and it will be ok, and it really does get better. Maybe someone will choose to love you warts and mistakes and all. Maybe you will choose to love yourself, and let God’s grace cover you in ways you can’t even begin to imagine.

Maybe, just maybe, you will find a friend who will be a walking talking example of grace for you.

Day 83: Keep it real.

“Tis’ better to live your own life imperfectly than to imitate someone else’s perfectly.” ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love


As those many years my junior would say, “You’ve got to keep it real.” Be who you are. Have integrity. Don’t be afraid to live your own life.

I remember being 13 years old and wanting to be anyone other than who I was. I had glasses and a bad haircut. I was a little pudgy, but I thought I was ENORMOUS. I was smart, but who cares about being smart at 13? I just wanted to be pretty. I wanted to be thin. I wanted to look like the girls in Seventeen (even if they were photoshopped, or “re-touched” as we used to call it.) I didn’t want to wear glasses, or have pimples. I wanted to be like everyone else. Exactly like everyone else. I wanted to wear make-up.

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One day on the school bus coming home from school, a beautiful girl who was a senior (so much older and worldlier than I!) told me how pretty I was — and that I had a “fresh face” (aka no makeup). God bless her. I remember that her first name was Diane, but I can’t remember her last name. She was an angel to me. She was older and pretty and kind. I think she was elected Homecoming Queen that year. And she was the first person who made me really feel like it was ok to be me — even if I didn’t look or act like everyone else. And she didn’t fit the beauty queen mold either, she had red hair and lots of freckles.

God doesn’t create any of us to be just like someone else. God created us to be just who we are — with certain gifts and graces that grow and blossom over time. We may not live our life perfectly, but it’s better to live our life imperfectly than to try and live someone else’s life perfectly. It’s not our life. It’s not who we were called to be.

As a spiritual direction and life purpose coach, I love helping my clients discover who God is calling them to be, and what God is calling them to do. I love helping them live into the life that God has for them. It’s not about me, or what I think, it’s about them and the nudging they are experiencing from the Holy Spirit. It’s about breathing deeply and allowing your heart to find it’s way. It’s about living with a decision for a while to see how it rests in your spirit. It’s about living the life that God has for you, and you alone.

I love what I do, and I know that God has called me to this work. What is it that you are called to? What makes your heart sing? What shimmers in your spirit when you think about it? Do you want to write, to speak, to preach, to teach, to counsel, to create beauty, to cook, to clean, to garden/farm/landscape? How can you live into the person you feel is most deeply you?

It takes courage to change; but it also takes courage to be your most authentic self. Take it for a test drive and see how it feels. Love that person. The world needs what you uniquely have to offer.

Day 82: Find your calling.

“I’ve come to believe that each of us has a personal calling that’s as unique as a fingerprint – and that the best way to succeed is to discover what you love and then find a way to offer it to others in the form of service, working hard, and also allowing the energy of the universe to lead you.” (Oprah Winfrey)

Over the course of my life, I have met many people who struggle to find what they are called to do and who they are called to be. Yet, I deeply believe that God has called us to find what it is we are called to and do it. For most of us, that may be through a series of trial and error, trying to do things — to do them well — and determining if these things we try are things about which we can feel passionately.

I have had a multitude of callings in my life. I felt called to teaching, to pastoral ministry, to advocacy, to writing, and now to life coaching and spiritual direction. I have called to positions, and I have felt called from them.

God wants to be in conversation with us, and needs us to discover where our deepest longing meets the world’s deepest need.

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Your vocation or your calling may be the way you earn a living, or you may have another activity by which you earn your money. You may have both a job and a vocation, or they may be combined. You may find that your deepest passion is something that you give yourself to, beyond your work life.

What is it that makes your heart sing? The thing you would do even if you never were paid a penny to do it?

Find what you love to do, and do it. The world needs your passion.

Day 81: Own your stuff.

“We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.” ― Katharine Hepburn, Me: Stories of My Life

We all know someone who believes the lie that it’s always someone else’s fault. Sure, there are bad people in the world, and there may be a few that really are out to get us. There are also situations that are beyond our control. It happens. Get over it.

At the end of the day, we have to be responsible for our own life, our own decisions, and our own actions. We don’t change because we don’t really want to change. We stay stuck because it’s easier to stay stuck than it is to do the hard work to get unstuck. We may not like where we are, but it’s easier to stay where we are than it is to change.

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As a spiritual direction and life purpose coach, I see people all the time who want to do things differently, but don’t know where to begin. Or they know what to do, but haven’t decided to just do it. Working with a coach, they are able to both outline their action plan and be held accountable to do what they said they will do. This is the “magic” of coaching: there really is no magic at all. But it works.

We can choose to make changes, we can choose to live differently, we can choose to do the work that we need to do to take responsibility for creating the life we want to live. You get to do this. You get to choose everyday the life you want to live. And our lives change with every decision we make.

So decide today what things you need to change in order to create the life you want to be living. Own your stuff. Make different choices. Live like you already are the person you want to become.

Day 80: Practice awareness.

“Remember, remember, this is now, and now, and now. Live it, feel it, cling to it. I want to become acutely aware of all I’ve taken for granted.” ― Sylvia Plath

Have you ever had the experience of thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute! How did I get here??” We move through our days sometimes with very little awareness. We function in our own personal “auto-pilot” mode with regards to work, school, and family, to the point where we can literally lose time.

We rush from work to our children’s school functions, to and through dinner, homework, bedtime – with barely a moment to spare. We wish we could be more present to our spouses and our children, but that requires energy that we just don’t have. Awareness can be a difficult thing, but it is a practice. You don’t have to do it well, you just have to do it.

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Start with one thing that you want to pay more attention to – at home, at work, with friends. Visualize what that would look like and feel like, if you were to practice that awareness. Experience the difference it would make to be fully present, aware, and in the moment. Don’t take this moment for granted. Ever.

Repeat. Do it again with something different this time. When you find yourself really present to what you are doing, take a deep breath. Feel what you feel, and acknowledge that. Give thanks to God for that moment. And move on.

The more you do it, the easier it gets. Awareness leads to greater awareness. And greater awareness leads to more satisfaction in life. Our days are numbered; no one lives forever. But we can live an eternity in a moment well-lived.

In what parts of your life, would you like to have greater awareness, presence purpose? If for one moment you could “live it, feel it, cling to it” which moment would you choose? How would that change your life?

Day 79: Try something new.

“I’ll try anything once, twice if I like it, three times to make sure.” ― Mae West

I think that one of the most difficult things to do is to try something that you have never tried before. A couple of weeks ago, I tried kickboxing. It still intimidates me. But I go, because to not go is to concede defeat. And I don’t concede defeat.

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Life is a series of things that we have never tried before; things which we have no choice but to try. We have to try in order to learn, and we are constantly learning by trying even when we don’t want to. What girl wants to go out and start dating again after getting her heartbroken? How many times have you heard a teenage girl say, “I’m never dating again!!!” and you know that they mean it?

Of course, it isn’t practical to quit doing the things that we don’t do well. We rarely do anything well right off the bat. But we try and try and try and see if we can’t get the hang of it. We learn what we like and what we don’t like, and what we might just like if we try it one more time.

I’m looking forward to playing tennis once the weather improves, with my husband who is my teacher and a much better player than I am. I had tried tennis several times before but it never stuck – I think because I didn’t have a partner, or I didn’t have a convenient place to play. Now I have both. And a decent tennis racquet.

I never really thought I would end up enjoying tennis. But now I’m getting good enough to enjoy it. Not to win, mind you, but to enjoy it. To be competitive. To win a game here or there, or perhaps even a set. But I would have missed out on this enjoyable way to spend time with my husband and stay in shape if I hadn’t been willing to try.

So decide today to try something new. You never know where it might lead.