The Beautiful Winds of Change

On the slick drive from the chiropractor tonight, I decided to take the back way home because the roads are usually not as slick in bad weather on these roads. Another reason I love this way home is because of this spot on the highway that passes right along the shore of Lake Winnebago. There’s about a quarter of a mile that hugs right up alongside the shore and one particular place where the trees open up enough to see a clear view of the lake.

This view is always gorgeous and always different. Every single day the view is different. The sun is shining, or it’s not. The water is a blue color, or green, or gray. There are whitecaps on the water or it’s completely frozen over, like today. As I was driving along, a truck was coming from the other direction and behind it followed a cloud of snow. This reminded of something that happens on the lake every year, twice a year – the hatching of lake flies. At the peak of the hatching, the flies swarm just like that cloud snow behind the truck. So thick, you almost can’t see through them. It brought me back to summer for a moment…

Anyway, I digress…. change…

This ride home always reminds me that everything is in a constant state of change and that change is beautiful. It may not seem beautiful at first. It may seem scary or uncertain, but a slight change in lighting or a twist in the breeze and it’s something utterly breathtaking. It’s all about your reaction and perception. The sun still exists on the other side of the clouds.

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A photo I took during one of the hardest times of change in my life. One of the most beautiful times, as well. (c.2015)

Fighting change will never go well, because everything must change. Tomorrow can never be exactly like today. Learn and grow from today so tomorrow is better than today. When I look back at my hardest times – the times that really challenged me and pushed me to my edge – those were the times I grew the most. Those are the times where I learned the most about myself, learned more about God and His mercies, and learned the art of not just surviving, but of thriving.

Today, if you are struggling through a change, know that you are not alone. Take the time to reflect, meditate, write, read, pray, observe. Do whatever you can to let this time grow you, mold you, and teach you. It will be worth it. It will get better. And hopefully one day you can look back and see the beauty of it all.

Mourning the Loss of What Wasn’t

A friend of mine who has a strong social media presence recently posted on Facebook about how we filter our lives on social media — the facade that is often put up to show how great our lives are. He made a point to say that while he aims to be positive, he is also real. Everyone has stressful days or bad things happen to them. His point was to say, “Hey, I keep a positive mindset, but shitty things happen in my life, too. You’re not alone.”

While I’m well aware of this fact about him, or any of my other friends on social media, it was relevant for me that particular morning. The previous night, my uncle passed away after a 10 year battle with colon cancer. I wasn’t particularly close to my uncle. Then again, he wasn’t really close to many people outside of his immediate family. But growing up, he was a fixture in my life. I spent summer after summer at his house hanging out with my aunt and cousins. My aunt doesn’t have any daughters, so I was the next best thing.

She took me shopping and let me wear makeup. I spent endless summer days at the ballpark watching my cousins play baseball and listening to my aunt and uncle scream, holler, and cheer. She took me to swimming lessons and let me watch movies my mom and dad would never let me watch – I promised I wouldn’t say anything (Sorry, Aunt Lyl! Secret’s out!)

All through these memories, my Uncle Wes is on the fringe. A few things I knew about Uncle Wes: He loved music and even owned a guitar, though I never remember hearing him play. But he had a classic sound system all the neighbors could enjoy. He loved his hair and his cowboy hats. One summer he taught me and my cousins how to play 5 card stud. He worked for “the union”, which, as a kid, meant we got tickets to see WWF or the CMA Awards dress rehearsals. And we got lots of free stuff from the trade shows that came through town. One summer we had an endless supply of fun sized bags of Spicy Doritos. Those are still a guilty pleasure to this day.

It’s always heartbreaking when someone close to you dies. But when someone dies who you aren’t that close to or you wish you were closer to, it’s a different kind of tragic. You no longer have the opportunity to learn more about them or build a stronger relationship. There’s always this time of mourning. But rather than mourning the loss of something you had, you’re mourning the loss of something you didn’t. You’re mourning the lost opportunity of what could have been. I’ve felt this particular sense of loss more times than I care to count. Another word for it: Regret.

Now, if I would have reached out, called more, or spent more time with my Uncle Wes, would we have been closer or had a better relationship? Honestly, maybe not. But, maybe so. Did we have a bad relationship? Not really – in fact, we had gotten closer over the last 10 years.

I guess my point is to spend more time with people you love. You may not have the same lifestyles or see eye-to-eye on things, but take the time to show you care. Make a 5 minute phone call or send a 2 second text – because you just never know when you won’t be able to anymore.

Tonight I Told Myself To Blog

Several months ago when I was being disciplined in something.

Tonight I told myself to blog, yet I don’t feel like I have anything profound to say. This is odd for a couple reasons. First, if you asked my mother (or my boyfriend, for that matter), they would tell you that I have something to say about everything. Second, they are right.

While I have plenty to say about most anything, I’m really bad at blogging. If I’m being honest, and I am, I’m not that good at consistently doing anything — besides eating. I never forget to eat. I like to tell myself that everyone has this problem. Everyone struggles with consistency and being on top of things, which may be true to some extent. But I know there are people out there with so much more discipline than I have.

If I were to ask someone with incredible discipline, I’m 99% sure they would say they learned discipline by being relentless and driven and doing (fill in the blank) even when they didn’t feel like it. Don’t get me wrong. There is a small percentage of the population where discipline was started young and comes much more naturally. For most of us, though, it takes work. It takes day-by-day, week-by-week, month-by-month work. You have to schedule it. Reschedule it. Break it down into small chunks. Reschedule it again. And give yourself a lot of grace– but not too much grace. We don’t want to get complacent.

So here’s what I know – discipline takes time and repetition. It takes action, big or small. It takes guts. I also know when you do something you’ve committed to, your self-confidence increases and you’re more likely to do it again the next time. And tonight I told myself to blog, and I did.

Hurt People

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I am overwhelmed with emotion in this moment. On my way home tonight from church I felt the pull to write up a blog entry on how we deal with hurt. I haven’t posted a blog in a year – exactly one year. On September 17, 2014, I wrote the blog titled Everyone Needs a Cheerleader. The post is a short entry on being a cheerleader for others because we are all hurt and when we are hurting, we hurt others. I was in a season where I needed a cheerleader. It is no coincidence that one year later I am drawn to writing on almost the exact same topic. It’s been a rough year – full of growth, stumbling, confusion, heartache, falling flat on my face, and understanding. In fact, I’ve gone through all of those motions in a single day.

I’ve been listening to Brene Brown’s latest book Rising Strong: The Reckoning. The Rumble. The Revolution. In the book, she discusses her research on what it takes to rise strong after falling flat on your face. Her research focuses on vulnerability, courage, worthiness, and shame. Without going into too much detail (because you should seriously read the book – yes, you), she discusses the ideas around human-ness and how we respond to feeling hurt – founded or not. Recently in my life, I’ve made some poor choices that are completely out of character for me. I hit what I like to describe as a rock-bottom. There was a moment when I looked back on my choices and thought, “What the hell are you doing? And who is this person?”

After listening to most of Brene’s book I came to realize my choices were a result of me being hurt. But wait, I didn’t feel hurt. I was fine. Life was great. Well… not exactly. The closer I looked, the more I realized that I was really hurting. I had been burying my pain in travel, nights out with friends, food, and alcohol. Those actions were not the regrettable ones, but they helped me not feel all the feels I was having. Burying that pain and heartache in fun times and social activities led to making other choices that were regrettable.  I didn’t even know myself – and my heart was broken.

When everything came to a screeching halt, I realized I had hurt so many people unintentionally – all because I was hurting. And when I looked back at why I was hurting, I realized the person who had hurt me was also hurting. What did I draw from this? A couple things:

  1. Hurt people, hurt people. This is not a new concept to me. I know this. I think this is where my capacity for massive amounts of compassion and understanding comes from. I thank my mother for this. She’s always been a benefit-of-the-doubt kind of person.
  2. Understanding how I deal with hurt. Having compassion and knowing that hurt people also hurt others is not, in and of itself, enough for growth. You must see your own patterns and understand how you hurt others, intentionally or unintentionally. What is your go-to comfort? Some examples are food, alcohol, TV, gaming, sex, shopping, drugs or any combination of these. And maybe you’re like me where your go-to comfort depends on the type of hurt you have experienced. Once you understand your patterns, you can then begin healing and choosing healthier patterns for yourself. Those could be writing, reading, exercise, or, what I would first recommend, talking with the person who hurt you.

I will not claim to be an expert on this topic, but I do know what I’ve learned so far in my own life and observed in others’. I would consider myself an expert on falling flat on my face. However, it can take some time for me to truly understand how I got where I am (think: ten years!). If you want more tips on what to do next, I truly recommend Rising Strong. In fact, I also recommend Brown’s two previous books, The Gifts of Imperfections and Daring Greatly.

I am sorry to those I may have hurt in this process. While I have a ton of personal growth to experience, I take comfort in knowing that I am living wholeheartedly and I am in the arena.

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. – Theodore Roosevelt

Xoxo

Everyone Needs a Cheerleader

I am a cheerleader. I love to encourage people and tell them how much God has in store for them. It’s one of my favorite things to do. I do it because I know it’s true. We are all able to do amazing, extraordinary things.
So many of us, though, have been told otherwise. Life has beaten us down. We have been dragged through the mud. We are beaten and bruised.
I am here to tell you that God loves you and you are designed for greatness.
We have all been hurt. And sometimes we hurt others because we are hurting. Don’t let your hurt define you. Rise above it and do your best to not hurt others because of your hurt. That being said, we have all hurt others because we are hurting. Intentional or not. It’s okay. Apologize, forgive yourself, and move forward.

Everyone needs a cheerleader – even us cheerleaders. Be someone’s cheerleader today. It can change someone’s day – or their life.

Xoxo

Goals, Dreams, and Resolutions

Several years ago I was told something very important: What gets tracked gets done. At the time I did not understand how important that maxim was in life. Over the last two years, however, that has become very evident in my life. I’ve always had high hopes, aspirations, and BIG dreams. What I didn’t have, however, was the knowledge and guidance on how to get to those dreams.

In high school, and even in college, they do not teach and focus on the importance of goal-setting. However it’s been proven over and over again that if you put your goals down on paper and read them on a regular basis, then you have much more success in reaching those goals. If you are regularly aware and reminded of your dreams and why you do what you do, then you are less likely to give up and let life take over. As a health and nutrition coach, one of the first things I have my clients do is write down specific goals they want to hit over the next 12 weeks. I encourage them to read these goals every single day. Getting healthy isn’t easy, but when you are reminded of your WHY every single day, it makes those hard days (pizza party at work, birthday cake, too tired to work out) easier to overcome. Your WHY becomes bigger than your excuses.

The point isn’t even to hit all of your goals. The point is to make an attempt because if you set goals and work towards them, but come up short, you are closer than if you never set them in the first place.

To help show that I’m willing to take action to accomplish my big dreams, here are a few of my goals for 2014:

1. Finish one of the five books I am currently reading (hit this goal last night)

2. Lose 10 more lbs and tone my body up.

3. Help at least 5 people make choices to change their lives.

4. Get completely out of debt.

5. Buy a house.

6. Read 20 books.

Sharing your goals is not an easy task by any means. It means you are actually accountable to some extent for the things you want to accomplish.

Here’s my challenge to you: In the comment section, put down at least 2 of your goals for 2014.