'2014' photo (c) 2013, Artis Rams - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

I had a request to write a 10 things list on my Facebook page today.  And I realized I missed writing these more than I realized.  And what time is better than now to write up a list?  Right?  Right.

1.  I learned that success has a lot to do with attitude.  Especially with me.  If my attitude gets down, it affects every aspect of my life.  Sure, there are bad days, but a positive outlook throughout everything going on is priceless.

2.  The human body can do incredible things.  This was especially important for me to know in May when my grandmother went through open heart surgery.  Seriously.  They basically cut you in half, stop your heart, fix things and then put you all back together.  And then three months later at 76 years old she’s pretty much back to her old self.

3.  No is a complete sentence.  I don’t have to give any sort of explanation.

4.  I can’t handle everything.   Don’t get me wrong.  I can do a lot of stuff.  And I’d probably argue that I can probably do just about anything that I put my mind to.  But I don’t have to do it all at once.  My friend Tracee had me write down at one point this year all the things I was responsible for between home work and church.   Four pages later I realized I may have a problem.

5.  While there are some things I can do, there are also things that I shouldn’t do.  Life is too short to do work on things that really don’t matter.  I could spend 90% of my time making sure my house is presentable and in perfect shape to entertain visitors.  But then when it’s not, I’d be stressed out when everything wasn’t in its exact place.  Sure I think having a clean house is something to work towards, mainly because I don’t like living in chaos, but to me it’s definitely not as important as spending the evening talking to people and getting to know what’s going on in their lives.

6.  Family living 1,000 miles away very close to the ocean and beaches is awesome.  Until you want to see them and can’t take four days off work to make the trip down there.  But it does make the times I do get to see them extra special.

7.  Some hurts will never go away.  They stay with us as scars.  Still visible.  They show us where we were once hurt.  But they also show us where we have healed.  And prove to us over and over that we are stronger than we think we are.

8.  In order to move forward, we need to be able to take a good hard look at where we have been and where we are now.  Every decision we have made up to this point has brought us here.  Every decision we make from here on out decides our future.  It’s not always easy, but I promise that it’s worth it!

9.  No one needs to know my opinions.  They’re mine.  I’m sure they’re not all right.  Some are probably misguided.  And some are dead on.  I don’t have to be right.

10.  It’s not always the most important thing to stand up and tell the world what you believe.  Your actions should be doing that for you.  I think the most important thing is to show the world your love. My opinions and my beliefs are only clanging noise to a world that doesn’t know love.  Show love.  THEN change the world.  It has to be in that order.

So, yeah.  Some of those lessons haven’t been particularly fun.  But I am glad I’ve been able to walk through them with friends.

How about you?  Learn anything last year?

'journey' photo (c) 2009, Nicola Jones - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ~ Romans 15:5-6

I was just doing some reading tonight and these few verses stuck out to me.  God gives us the gifts of endurance and encouragement.  We need it.  He knows the road is going to be hard, the journey is going to be long and the nights are going to be restless.

So he puts people in our lives to walk with us.  Not because they’re entirely on the same route, but because they can help us along the way.

We were never meant to walk this road alone.

Today I’m just thankful for those that have been placed in my path offering strength when I have none and encouraging me to give just a little more when I feel like there is nothing left.

'J. Crew Construction Sign #3' photo (c) 2010, Ingrid Richter - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/There are a lot of times* in my life (*read virtually every time) where I’ve gone into something with a picture of what I was expecting to come away with.  And a lot of the time I’m not surprised by what happens because of history or other circumstances surrounding whatever it is.

But then there are times where expectations are blown away.

I followed a link on Twitter from a girl I had met a couple of times at Catalyst.  She was offering coaching.  I had always considered doing some sort of coaching, but didn’t really want to go through it with someone I knew.  Not that I had anything against anyone.  I just thought it would be an interesting experience for someone I didn’t know to look at my life and tell me how awesome I was.  I wanted to see if I would actually be comfortable enough to be completely honest with a virtual stranger.  And I just enjoy hearing people speak wisdom into my life and help guide me along whatever path is before me.   And talking.  I enjoy talking.

Over the last few months, my sessions with Tracee have been the highlight of my week.  And I’m not just saying that.  We’ve laughed a lot.  Seriously.  She’s a riot.  I’ve cried way more than is natural for me.  And, man, I hate to cry, but I am absolutely loving this process.

I really don’t have any idea how to put into words how grateful and thankful I am for the time we get to chat.  But I can tell you without a doubt that this is the first time in a long season for me that I feel alive again.  I don’t know that I would have told you I was stuck, but I was.  What felt like a perpetual season of in-between is now feeling like a season of growth.  In-between can be quiet.  It can be difficult at times.  And if you don’t have any idea what you are stuck between, it can be especially frustrating.  To find someone to talk to and just sort out thoughts and dreams in a completely safe and nonjudgmental atmosphere is like a dream come true for me.

For real.

I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about coaching or if you even know what it is, but I can tell you that wherever you are right now, you need to definitely consider this.  Go look at Tracee’s website here.  Go check out her Coaching page here.  She is wise, considerate and kind.  And a lot of fun.  Seriously.  You’ll have a ball.

And I’ve written a whole post and still can’t come up with the right words to say thanks.  But go check her out.  Sign up for some sessions.  I have a feeling you’ll be coming back and telling me how right I was.

Now is the time to do something to change your future.

Disconnect

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'unplugged' photo (c) 2008, Bill Selak - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/I’ve been kinda absent from a lot of things lately.  I’d love to sit here and tell you that I knew exactly why, but I can’t.  Maybe you haven’t noticed, and that’s okay.  But I have.  Little by little I’ve been shutting things off in my life.  Saying no to things that I could while keeping commitments I had previously made.  Just kinda stepping back and taking a look at what all is going on in my life.

You know what I’ve realized?

Things still go on whether I’m involved or not.

Whether I’m in charge or not.

People step up when they need to, and people you hoped would step up kind of disappear into the background.

These last couple months have been, in a word, interesting.

And I could tell you I’m tired.  Which I am.  I could tell you I’m burned out on some things.  Which I am.  And I could tell you I just need to step back and not try to control everything.  Which I do.

But honestly, this is something that I don’t quite understand deep in the depths of my soul crying out telling me to slow down.  Telling me that less noise all around you is good for the soul.  Less distraction can help you to really hear what’s going on.  A friend of mine mentioned the word pruning.  Getting rid of unnecessary to make room for new and good and better.

There are things that I’ve stepped back from that I feel like I’m ready to start up again, but for some reason, something is holding me back.  Maybe I just need one more week’s rest.  Maybe my mind is trying to tell my spirit when to move, and at this point, it doesn’t seem to be making any headway.  I feel like I’ve been having this conversation with God for a while now.  But they need me to do this.  I need to be there.  I don’t need to be here, but I want to be here.  This is good for me, I promise.

And you know how He responds?  Beloved, trust me.  I know what’s best for you.  I promise.  Just wait a while longer.  You’ll see.

So, yeah.  I’m resting.  I’ve been a little absent.  And it’s possible that I will be for a bit longer.  But I think that the main thing I want to tell you tonight is that I’m still with you.  Except you may not be reading as many of my words.  And hopefully I can be physically with you and we can talk.  We can talk about what is going on in your life.  And if you want, we can talk about disconnecting.

One thing I will say, though:  I haven’t had my house this clean in a long time.

10 Things About Me

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'Piano' photo (c) 2009, t.spang - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/My friend Alece wrote a list of 100 things on her blog the other day.  There is no way I would be able to come up with 100, but I can probably do 10.

1.  I have no idea what my natural hair color is.  I’ve had highlights since the 7th grade.  That’s what you get for being a young girl who doesn’t mind two hair dresser aunts messing with her hair.

2.  I used to play the piano.  There are a lot of times I miss it.  One day I hope to be able to relearn this time playing chords.  I think it would make it a little easier for me.

3. I love playing video games.  I don’t do it very often, though, because I would spend hours and hours playing.  My house would never get cleaned.

4.  My house never gets cleaned.  I just don’t like doing it.  I would much rather sit here at my computer and write something in my blog or read what you have to say than to dust my furniture.  Or vacuum.  And forget about the dishes.

5.  As much as I complain, I secretly love when I get up early in the morning and get things accomplished before most people are out of bed.  For me to be home at 6:30 after a full and hard workout and not have to go back to the gym the rest of the day is awesome.  And sometimes I just get up early because I have things that I want to get done here.  It makes me feel pretty darn good.

6.  I say yes and commit myself to too many things.  I’ve got to get better at saying no.

7.  I love talking to people about ways to make their businesses better.  I can get really excited when people start talking about ways they want to increase their business.  And I can throw out a number of ideas right off the top of my head usually.  A lot of them are bad ideas, but you’ve got to wade through some bad to get to the awesome.

8.  I had a chance to apply for a job and move to Denver, Colorado, before I started working back in Fairfield.  I would have taught court reporting at a national school out there.  I just couldn’t make the money work on it.  Otherwise I could be a long way from home.  Some days I wonder how my life would be different if I had gone that direction.

9.  Most days, though, I can’t imagine my life any differently.  Or better.  Seriously.

10.  I think I’m going to start training for a triathlon.  Ridiculous?  Absolutely.  But so was running a half marathon, and I did that.  I think everyone needs a little bit of ridiculousness in their lives.

So tell me about you!

'Television' photo (c) 2008, ccharmon - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/The fall television season is upon us.  Some shows have already started, and some are getting ready to next week. I’m pretty excited about a few.  There are a few in their last season, which is kinda sad.  But all in all it should be a pretty decent television season!  Here are 10 I’m watching:

1.  New Girl.  Love this show.  It premiered this week, and was pretty good.  I read an article comparing it to Friends.  It’s not there yet, but I do laugh every episode.

2.  The Mindy Project.  I missed the whole first season last year, so my friend and I are catching up on it.  It premiered this week already.  The premier did not disappoint.  Can’t wait for the rest of the season!

3.  Bones.  One of my top two favorite crime dramas.  They were dealing with a crazy serial killer at the end of last season and left us hanging.  I currently have the season premier on my DVR, but haven’t had a chance to watch yet.  I’ve heard it was a little stressful, but I’m okay with that.  It’s probably going to be until they catch this guy.

4.  NCIS.  My other favorite crime drama.  I’m sort of excited for this one.  But only sorta because Ziva is leaving the show.  I’m having a hard time figuring out how they’re going to fill her shoes, but they did a pretty good job when Kate left the show, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed.

5.  Big Bang Theory.  Consistently funny.  Just a good winding down show to watch.

6.  Hostages.  It’s like a 9-week show.  I will probably have a headache after watching each episode, but I think it could be decent.

7.  The Crazy Ones.  Robin Williams being, well, Robin Williams.  I’m expecting a lot from this show.  I hope it doesn’t disappoint.

8.  How I Met Your Mother.  Last season, 8 years in, and we finally get to meet the mother.  It’s about freaking time.

9.  Elementary.  Sherlock Holmes.  Just good TV.

10.  Revolution.  I missed the last five episodes because my DVR fried and had to be replaced, but I’m still looking forward to it coming back.

You looking forward to any shows?

Seasons

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'Fall' photo (c) 2010, Danielle Tsi - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/Spring and fall are my favorite seasons of the year.  I think mostly it has to do with the weather.  There are a lot of awesome days that happen within the course of a year, but most of them usually happen in these two seasons.

I think it’s kinda cool that spring is when you plant the seeds and things come to life, and fall is when you are able to reap the harvest.

I like seeing things come full circle.

I like results.

I’m not one to wait patiently for years.  I know that there are seasons in our lives and I know that there are some seasons that last longer than others.  I just don’t love the long ones.

But I’m learning to be patient.  I’m learning to trust through the uneventfulness.  I’m learning that my idea of how things should go just might not be the best way.

It’s a process.

And it’s okay.  I don’t have to have things completely figured out.

And I’m learning to be okay with that.

Quiet

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'1996 Jocassee Quiet Solitude' photo (c) 2007, anoldent - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I live a little over a half mile north of a main east/west Interstate.  I can’t see it because of the trees and the way the ground rolls into the hills behind my home.  And quite honestly on most day I can’t even hear it.  I don’t know if some days the sound doesn’t carry as much as others or if I’m just so used to the noise that I just don’t notice.

This morning, though, as I was getting home from the gym at about 6:30, it was all I could hear.  There was a stillness about outside.  No breeze.  I didn’t even really hear animals.  Just the cars driving 70 miles an hour behind my house.

I wonder what I miss on those days that I’m too busy to hear.

I wonder if there are days that I’m just not supposed to hear the sounds.

So I’m making a conscious effort to be quiet more.

Not that I want to hear the cars to flying by.

I just don’t want to miss what I’m supposed to be hearing.

'Earth - Global Elevation Model with Satellite Imagery (Version 2)' photo (c) 2012, Kevin Gill - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/I write on here a lot about things that the average person can do in order to make a change in their lives and in the world around them.  It’s pretty simple, really.  It’s not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s simple.  And it takes a conscious effort.  But here are 10 ways I’ve found that can make a huge difference:

1.  Be kind.  There is no excuse for not being kind.  I don’t care if you don’t agree with someone.  You can disagree and still be kind.

2.  Forgive.  People do stupid things all the time.  We say stupid things.  We make horrible decisions.  And I know sometimes the actions of other people have impact on our lives in a negative way.  The ONLY way to truly overcome the hurt?  Forgive.  I promise.

3.  Realize that just because someone doesn’t think like you, it doesn’t mean they’re bad or wrong.  It just means that they don’t think like you.  And any amount of argument probably isn’t going to change that.

4.  Agree to disagree.  I have friends who live on completely opposite sides of certain arguments.  AND THEY’RE STILL MY FRIENDS.  I know.  It’s ridiculous.  But as I mentioned in a couple above, we’re not always going to agree with people, but if we treat them with kindness, that will be the basis of our friendship instead of the wedge that the argument puts between us.

5.  Be a person of integrity.  Integrity is defined as: the state of being whole and undivided.  Whatever you stand for, stand for it wholly.

6.  Hate social injustice.  Stand up for something.  There is more slavery in the world today than ever before.  Racism is rampant.  Hate crimes still exist.  There is always something you can stand up for.

7.  Connect.  The thing that most people in the world crave is connection.  Connection to another living and breathing human being.  Whether you’re introverted or extroverted, you still crave connection.  Go seek it.  Seek deep and meaningful relationships.  And sometimes that means having hard or uncomfortable conversations.  Do it.  Connect.

8.  Be willing to help.  If someone is in need, help them fill that need.  If someone is hurting, be willing to listen.  The effectiveness of your ministry is directly proportional to your willingness to be interrupted. – Christine Caine.  Do something out of your schedule and unexpected.

9.  Be willing to admit that you just don’t know.  There is no “my way or the highway” mentality in changing the world.  There is in politics.  That is why politicians aren’t changing the world.  Be willing to be okay with not understanding everything.  We water everything down by trying to understand it.  One of the most beautiful things about this life is the mystery to it all.  It’s also one of the hardest, but if you accept that sometimes the answer is just, “I don’t know,” then your life will never be the same.

10.  Shut your mouth.  Sometimes you don’t need to say anything.  People are going to remember what you did more than what you said.  I was listening to a podcast this week, and Andy Stanley said something that hit home.  And I’m going to paraphrase, but essentially he said that a lot of people have a lot to say about things that they’re never going to do anything about.  You can make a lot of money taking one side or another and talking about it, but never doing anything.  Why would you choose to make a point when you can keep your mouth shut and make a difference?

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but all of the things I’ve mentioned don’t have anything to do about starting a new nonprofit or business or anything like that.  They’re about getting to know people where they are and meeting their needs right there.  Use what you have, where you are and start now.

And that’s how you can change the world.

There’s More

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tracee sign(Photo Credit Unknown)

I was asked to make a crazy list the other day.  Goals so audacious and crazy that only God could pull them off.  So I sat down and made my list.  I put on there some crazy things that I wanted to happen or I wanted to do.  Dreams, if you will.

Two weeks later after another discussion with my friend I realized something:  My dreams didn’t really leave any room for God to move.  The things I wrote down were all things that I knew I could do.  Things perfectly within my realm of talents and capabilities.

The thing is, I know my limits.  I know how far I can go, and I can see things playing out to a certain point.  So that’s the point I set goals for.  Nothing further because I have no idea how things will play out beyond that point.

But every day normal people are doing incredible and impossible things because they step out of the box.

Sometimes they jump off the box.

But it just takes the first step.  And maybe a little bit of crazy.

What are you waiting for?