New Year, No Resolutions

"Living" - 2016bestnine

“Living” – 2016bestnine

I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a few years ago.  It seemed extremely counterintuitive to keep setting lofty goals that I would likely abandon before making it past the first 30 days of the year.  There I was thinking that resolutions were supposed to get me pumped and excited about all that I was convinced I was going to accomplish while not once considering that perhaps the ingredients to this particular life recipe wasn’t something I would be good at cooking.  I stopped making New Year’s resolutions and started taking on my dreams and joys in Twix fun size pieces (fitting of course since it’s my favorite candy).  No longer would I subject myself into believing that on this one day out of the year was I required to critically think about how to make my life better.  Was I not equipped to do this on a regular basis?  Is champagne and confetti somehow supposed to ignite an everlasting superpower that will make me want to run to the gym, open an IRA, eat more carrots, save my change from a Hamilton, sail the ocean blue (yeah right, I’m all about the Boeing), tell people who are simply taking up space to go fly a kite…I mean you get the picture.  In my mind, that was a puzzle with a ton of missing pieces.

My “one day at a time”/nix the resolutions philosophy couldn’t have been more real than in 2016.  Sans a whole lot of details, I can tell you that you begin to understand the  multitude of privileges in each day when you wake up with pressure cuffs on your legs in the hospital, lose teammates to reorganizations, have to let go of relationships, get awakened by a phone call from the paramedics, and see a loved one intubated in the middle of a room that’s inhabited by professional strangers on a routine schedule.  All of that was my 2016.  And it reconfirmed my personal need to take each day in stride while taking on tasks fitting of the success for one specific day.  So, whether that has meant slipping away to write one page for a multi-chapter book, buying enough food to cook meals for three days of the week as opposed to five, or spending 20 minutes catching up with a friend between meetings instead of listening to Alessia’s “Wild Things,” I’ve opted for the celebratory factor of crushing the small tasks to get me closer to the fulfillment of my own happiness.

It’s funny because on my 2016 vision board I had pasted the word “living” that I’m sure I cut from some fashion or home and garden magazine (I swear those things are magnets for cobwebs, and we all know spiders ruin my life).  I wanted to see those six letters every day so I could get about the business of embracing my sometimes ordinary yet often unpredictable journey that I had the power to fill with some of what I hoped for.  Little did I know what meaning that word would take on throughout the year literally and figuratively.  But, through the highs and the lows, I can say the days were more bearable and/or exhilarating because I chose to consider what I needed to do or how I could be better for the very moment in which I was breathing.

A new year will happen every 365 days whether we have new year’s resolutions ready or not.  And the “new you” intimation that gets thrown around like that brown thing on Sundays happens in all of those days in between.  Because it’s the tiny victories in a single day that are resolved into a living, thriving, and happy being whose inscription will sparkle well beyond the stroke of midnight.

Happy New Year, friends! xo

I Choose My Peace

garden of peaceIf I had a choice between $1 million and my peace, I’d choose my peace.  First off, $1 million isn’t a lot of money once Uncle Sam gets his cut.  Secondly, peace can stay with me for the duration of my life; if you don’t make money work for you, then eventually it runs out.  I don’t ever want to be in a place where I no longer have my peace.  That tranquility.  That stillness.  That unshakable love for who I am and where I am (and even where I’m not).  Those are all things that money can’t buy, keep you happy, or plugged into the miracles of life.  I look for peace in everything.  And with age I’ve learned how critical it is to make a concerted effort to be peace, give peace, and accept that peace isn’t always going to look like you have the upper hand.

To be peace means that you choose to approach each day with gratefulness and an expectant heart for that which is good.  Every minute of every hour is not going to be something to write home about.  The volatile details that make up our lives can be challenging, annoying, and unnerving.  But, allowing those things to alter your attitude and drain the delight from your character will not change the story.  You have to be intentional about maintaining the energy that makes you bright, bold, and bountiful in your love for the delicate tapestry of your being.

To give peace means that you choose your battles.  I can think of more than a few things and offenses in my life that didn’t warrant a response or reaction, but I gave one.  And what exactly did that do besides cause a volcanic eruption of emotions between all parties involved?  I’d venture to say…nothing.  Sometimes it’s best to let things pass right on by.  And it’s not because you don’t have valid points, but because making those points is going to infringe on the harmony you need to be a better human.  In that moment, there’s so many more things of importance.

To accept that peace isn’t going to always look like the odds are in your favor means that you understand everyone you encounter is walking a path that you don’t know much if anything about.  Living ain’t easy, and all of us govern our lives according to our personal experiences.  The fact that we process and internalize differently can sometimes lead to rifts in relationships because we all want to be understood.  But, typically no one understands why we are who we are until the dust settles.  Frankly, some people have a little more living to do before they know what it means to give peace.  You have to be attuned to the concept of loving people where they are to tap into the peace of what it means to win the war instead of exhausting all of you on the battle.  A lot about life isn’t about you, and 99% of the time people know when they’re wrong.  So, when you have to be the mirror, be patient enough for people to see their reflection.  Accept that you haven’t lost anything or been forgotten.  You’re really a lifeline for someone who probably hasn’t had the courage to divulge and embrace they’re imperfections.

A life without peace is a life without joy.  And if you don’t have joy, then you simply don’t have life.  So, as long as I’m here, I choose peace because with that there are mountains I can climb, roads I can travel, seeds I can plant, and no limit to the skies that I can touch.

 

 

Monday’s Mantra: Show Up for You!

It’s about time some of us learned how to be selfish.  I know that’s prohibited and doesn’t sound all that compassionate or “churchy,” but that’s because it’s not meant to be either one of those things.  Women, in particular, don’t spend enough time loving who they are and celebrating what they do.  Instead we’re out here stressing ourselves to the max trying to

make our homes look like something from HGTV,

cook meals to satisfy a few picky palates,

refrain from being seen as “that employee” in the board room who goes against the status quo because you have a few non-conventional ideas,

make our selfies look like we’re having the time of our lives every weekend

and find the right outfit for a date with a stranger we’ve somehow been convinced we absolutely must impress because the holidays are coming and our eggs are vanishing one by one.

Well, that’s all fine and good until you recognize that you’re doing all of that for other people, and you’re basically a non-factor in the equation.

This week I challenge you to show up for y-o-u!  It’s not a bad thing for you to want to do something for yourself…to say no because you don’t feel like it…to spend your lunch break actually taking a break…to leave people behind who choose to act oblivious of your feelings…to confront who and what is giving you pause…to believe for a dream that’s so big that you have to chuckle…to let him figure out how you manage to make dinner, monitor homework, and pack lunches simultaneously (that’s what I call bad-assery!..he has no idea)…to take yourself out for dinner and pinot because you know you’re not desperate…to go outside and let out a scream because life is hard…to get in the car and just ride with no particular destination simply because you want to enjoy the scenery…to stop apologizing for how you feel…to present your business idea to the investors…to soak up every moment for what it is and continue handling life like a boss. Every day you have to live with you.  If you don’t ever invest anything into understanding what helps you to be great, everything you do, attract, and care for will be below average.  So, yes, do for others, but do for you too!

Monday’s Mantra: Live

It has been a while since I posted a mantra for the week, but hopefully you’re following my blog and have seen some of my recent posts on my Inspire page.  No days off here. 🙂  This week my encouragement is simple:

  1. Live – let your thoughts and actions be productive and good. It’s very easy to become budsdiscouraged or feel depleted when there’s so much going on around us every day.  But, like I’ve said on several occasions before, life is really short.  Get busy doing what brings you joy, shines some light on the somber places of your soul (and maybe that of others’ too), and what makes you feel like a kid again.  Adulthood is taxing and routine.  We forget that life is meant to be enjoyed.  And although I may not know what “living” means for you, I would guess that it’s something you haven’t been doing.  Don’t let the complexities of this life keep you from drawing near to the simplicity and priceless treasure of taking in all there is to your humanness.
  2. Lead – by now, you’ve probably realized that sometimes people will disappoint you.  If it hasn’t happened yet, just keep living!  Even if it takes everything you’ve got to respond in a way that doesn’t defame them or show your disdain, take the high road.  It might not make any sense now, but I promise in the long run it pays to be the compassionate and sensible example.  You’re probably the water needed to refresh, renew, and repurpose someone who has never fully seen what leading with love looks like.  Be the fountain.  Be the spring.  Be the reason new and better buds finally blossom.

Make it a great week, friends!

 

 

Change the Game

I’m always amazed when I’m sitting somewhere alone minding my business and I have an epiphany about the significance of relationships.  It’s true that not everyone you encounter along your journey will be there until the end, but do know that every person is playing a role in who you will become.  My most recent aha moment related to a relationship came as I was traveling across the country on another work assignment.  I find that God likes to speak to me on airplanes.  He clearly knows I have nowhere to go except to the front or back of the aircraft to the closet-sized restroom.  So, while He has me on the Boeing, our connection is flowing! *sometimes I rhyme, lol*

I decided to take advantage of the in-flight entertainment and came across an all-star interview with Kobe Bryant.  Now, I’ve never been too much of a sports enthusiast, but basketball and all its details is the one sport that intrigues me and gets me off the couch yelling incessantly at the screen.  Because they can hear me, right?  Ahmad Rashad went through the interview with the Lakers superstar asking him questions about the highs and lows of his career, his love for the game, and how he leveraged the differences in his personality and his teammates to lead them to championships.  Toward the end of the interview, Kobe explained that one of the things that helped him to be a good leader is to be okay with being uncomfortable about his teammates not seeing the best in themselves but still pushing them anyway.  He further explained that if you’re not okay with being uncomfortable, then you’ll go up against a team with a leader who is, and you’ll lose.  In that instant, it clicked.  I think I rewinded that clip at least twice to hear him say that again.

I realized in that moment that was the one thing a close friend and once upon a time sweetheart had been trying to get through to me during all the time we shared life together.  I can’t recall how many times I would mope, vent, and complain to him about how I felt like no one ever listened to me, how I felt alone, how it seemed like my friendships were fading, or how sometimes I just didn’t feel like being the one to initiate, organize, and push the envelope.  And every time without fail he would give me a kind, witty, and stern response that would leave me feeling like it was okay to feel that way, but I’ve been entrusted with certain characteristics to go the extra mile and get out in front because I was born to lead.  It almost seemed as though he was asking me if I was going to take the torch or let opportunities burn because the people I wanted to believe just weren’t getting it and/or what I had to say was the least of their concerns.  Talk about frustrating.

A 10-second perspective in this 48-minute video connected all the dots for me about this part of our relationship and further made me realize how God can use people to teach us about our individual characteristics.  I’m sure he wouldn’t be excited to know that there were times when he was engrossed in one of his tough talks with me, that I let it go in one ear and out the other.  Sorry!  But, I get it.  And I’m grateful for the confirmation not only about the intricacies of leadership and what it means for those who God will place in my care to be there for me in that capacity, but more importantly who He places in my path to embrace who I am, what I have to offer, and how I’m meant to change the game just as the seasoned and developing basketball superstars have done one play at a time.

Monday’s Mantra: Show and Slay

Whew!  I just needed to let that out because the last few weeks have been nothing short of eventful!  I recently wrote about how I was about to be full steam ahead into my travel season that would take me to med schools and conferences across the country.  What I neglected to consider was all the other parts of life that happen in between, the programmatic fires that would have to be extinguished from time to time, and the riveting surprises that bring success with almost always a side of new responsibility.  But, no matter how consumed I am with all the details, I’m somehow invigorated by the challenge.  My continued excitement and energy has much to do with God and less to do with me, but I also attribute it to the fact that I’m right where I should be.  There was a time in my life where I was literally drained by boredom.  I didn’t feel like my gifts, abilities, or knowledge was being utilized effectively.  That was painful…like getting your body hair waxed for the first time painful (eek)!  I felt undervalued and stuck in many ways.  But, thankfully trouble doesn’t last always, and I can now say I’m moving, growing, and building in several arenas.

Last week as I was headed home from a trip, I found myself reciting a phrase that most of us probably know very well…”to whom much is given, much is required” (taken from Luke 12:48)  This came following a sleepless night that was spent reviewing a few dynamic entrepreneurs and change seekers vying for a spot at TEDMED – the premiere conference for sharing creative ideas to transform the way we think and do health.  As a 2016 TEDMED Research Scholar, I have the privilege and difficult task of helping to develop the TEDMED programming!  Super exciting opportunity!  But, as I was trying to wrap-up my usual duties from my business trip and still garner what was left of my mental acuity for the day to write a comprehensive review, I definitely had a moment of “what have I gotten myself into?”  It’s funny how quickly you begin to doubt your abilities when the mountain before you looks steeper than anything you’ve ever climbed before.  Of course that’s easy to overcome with a long prayer requesting angelic toothpicks to hold my eyes open and several bites of a blueberry muffin paired with espresso to keep me hanging on until the final click of the “Submit” button.

You can expect that when you’re in the right place at the right time for receipt of your designated assignments, you will be stretched.  It’s part of the package.  You will learn the true meaning of sacrifice and be detached from your usual patterns.  You will have to do more not just because you’ve been furnished with more, but because you’ve been given all that you need to be more.  The days will be long.  The caffeine will be in short supply (I mean unless you have 24/7 accessibility to a Keurig).  Everything inside you will want to bow out gracefully.  But, the show must go on.  And if you’re blessed to have a role, your presence is required.  In the end, what is given to you deserves your best whether it’s giving a talk, organizing an event, writing a report, or baking for the community fundraiser.  I bet you probably asked for this moment at some point after all.  So, stay up[lifted], perform well (angelic toothpicks are indeed little miracles!), and believe in the possibility of the standing ovation.  You’re only given what you have the ability to slay (you know in the 21st century pop culture kinda way)!

 

 

Monday’s Mantra: Save the Sulks

I woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning.  Even though I don’t come close to being a morning person, I do my best every day to go forth, do great, and forget about my bed that doesn’t seem to want to let me go.  My morning routine was business as usual until I realized that one of my favorite pieces of jewelry was missing!  *insert music to signal impending doom* Now, I’m very much an analytic, neat freak who makes it a point to put all of my things in the place I’ve designated as their home.  So, I knew that if one piece of the jewelry I wear just about every day was in its place, then this particular ring should’ve been there too.  That was the rationale I had declared in my mind, but of course that wasn’t reality since I found myself looking all over my room and checking purses and cracks where it couldn’t have possibly been.  I had to look anyway.

During this intense 5-10 minute searching spree, my thoughts began to shift to all things negative.  Maybe I left it at Lather where I was trying a bunch of skin care options over the weekend (btw…they have great soaps!).  Maybe it has been missing a day longer than I actually thought and I’m now noticing.  Is it in the vacuum cleaner?  Great, it fell out of my car on the ground and it’s now being kissed by oodles of rotating tires.  I think I had about 20 thoughts go by in a matter of 30 seconds, all of which were negative.  Clearly, I did not awaken with any inkling of victory.  While I was grateful to see another day, my actions embodied defeat.  I decided that wasn’t conducive to a productive week, so I took all of those thoughts captive and re-focused my energy on my devotional.  Plus, I didn’t have anymore time to look up, down, and all around my room with a full day of work ahead of me.  My devotional this morning was from Exodus 16 when God gives the children of Israel manna and quail even after their complaints about not having any food.  Yikes!  Not even a few minutes before I had started reading I was distraught and grumbling about what I had lost too.  I’m always amazed how even in this day blessings will come despite our complaints and protests.  I felt like that was the perfect message to start my week even after losing my jewelry.

As I was getting ready to leave the house, I decided to check my jewelry box one more time.  You’d never believe what I found in one of the small corners that I had looked previously even though I don’t ever put this particular ring there.  Sitting right there in that spot was…my ring!!!  *insert sigh of relief*  I had spent part of my morning being a sourpuss and yet I had overlooked what was right in front of me.  *covers face*  Ultimately, I’m glad I found my ring, but more importantly, I’m encouraged by my effort to quiet the negativity that is always more of a distraction than it is help to what’s happening in life.  Sometimes you have to redirect your energy in order to produce an optimal result.  So, whether you’ve misplaced something or you’re struggling to make it over the hump, I urge you to quiet your pessimism.  Only then will you begin to find what you’re looking for.  Solutions, and I guess rings, tend to hide in unlikely, yet promising places.