Reality Reflections: Face Your Life

Today I have an interesting challenge for you, inspired by the words of Colette Baron-Reid: “So many people are realizing that in spite of outer conditions we all have the capacity to choose to face our lives, turn on our light and address the shadows we have cast head on.”

The words that stood out to me when I read this was that we first and foremost have the capacity to choose to face our lives. It’s really a big wake up call to those of us who are unhappy with our lives and haven’t made any decisions about how to move forward. You’ve heard it before: the only person who can really do anything to change how happy you are with your life is you. I may be able to help you be happier or bring you things that make you happier, but you’ve got to choose to be happy about those things and welcome them into your life.

The second thing that stood out to me was the reminder that we have to “address the shadows we have cast head on.” I get it, our shadows (and what causes them) can be scary. It’s not exactly exciting to look at the mess you may be in.  It can be intimidating to talk with our boss, our family or our partner about our unhappiness. You may think that you know the reaction (or rejection) they’ll give you. I wish that everyone had the supportive relationships that I do in their lives. The unfortunate reality is that not everyone has someone in their life that supports them (shame on you if you’re not supportive of the people in your life).

Sometimes we can get through the mountains we face by drilling through, other times we have to take the time to go around, and sometimes we have to take what might be the most challenging route and go over those mountains. But we’ve either got to pick one of those routes or we’ll never get to the other side (it’s very unlikely that the mountain will move for you, although sometimes it does).

As you look ahead to the last few days of this month and what you’re going to do with the last 4 months of the year, I would encourage you to grab the courage and confidence to face those mountains, those challenges, those people, those fears, those things that you’ve let hold you back and choose that you’re going to move forward from this point on.


Reality Reflection: Everything to Everyone

I’m a fan of saying no to people, you know why? Because you don’t have to be everything to everyone. Not only is is about being honest to who you are and not putting yourself in positions that you’re completely unqualified for or incapable of doing, but because every time you take on something that you’re only slightly capable of (or not at all), you take away an opportunity from someone else who is qualified. If we really want this world to be all it can be, I think we have to be willing to share a little of the control with others, have to be willing to let them do their thing, and not get in the way when they take charge.

Yes, there are time when you’ll go a little outside your preferred box to help a friend or to try something new, and that’s a good thing. We should be trying new things to keep our minds engaged and learning. But we have our safe zones for a reason. The good news is that my safe zone isn’t the same zone as yours. You’ve got talents I don’t have and don’t have any inclination for developing. I believe there are plenty of opportunities for us within the things that interest and drive us that we should never have to take work, resources or life away from someone else.

But that does mean that we all have to step up in that which we are gifted in, and a whole lot less slacking, hiding or letting someone else’s sub-par job suffice. You need to take responsibility for what you can do in this world with your unique talents. Be proud of who you are and what you can do. That doesn’t mean you have to start a business or blog, it may just mean finding a company to work with and bring your unique talents to (one that fits better than your current one), or donating your time on weekends or vacations.

This week I encourage you to give others the chance to do what they do best, and choose to do what you do best. Who knows, you may not cure cancer today, but you certainly may bring a smile to someone’s face or relief to their life in some other way.

Reality Reflection: Shine Like a Star

The adventure in Rio has begun.  Whether you enjoy watching events like the Olympics or others like the World Series or Oscars (as well as local events of the same types), or not, there’s something awesome about people coming together and showing what they’ve got.  These special or culminating events include people from a specific group or from around the world who are the best of the best at the time.  It’s a way of showing what they can do as well as an opportunity for the rest of us to celebrate what they can do.  I think these types of events are important because it’s important to celebrate the good, cool, and/or interesting things we can each do.  It’s a healthy way of pointing out and celebrating our differences and what makes each of us unique.

I believe that God has given each of us special gifts and talents, and that it hurts Him when we don’t use what He has given us.  You don’t go to the store and buy stuff you don’t like or use, you only buy what you want and need.  The same is true with the gifts and talents we have: we should use them.  Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about purpose and what I’m doing with my life and what I want to do with my life.  It’s always good to take time to reflect on your life and what you’re doing because it means you can stop the derailments that may be happening and curb unhappiness before it becomes full blown depression or causes more problems than it needs to.

Take time to do a reality check on your life this week.  Are you unhappy?  If so, why?  Life is way too short to be stuck and unhappy.  Don’t be afraid of letting your gifts and talents shine.  Don’t worry too much about the criticisms you get for having and using your gifts and talents.  Don’t bury your gifts and talents because you don’t think you can make a living using them or that they’re not useful gifts.  Everyone has valuable gifts, it’s up to you to find out how best to use yours.

“I always thank my God for you and for the gracious gifts he has given you, now that you belong to Christ Jesus.” 1 Corinthians 1:4

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”  Matthew 5:14, 16

Victories for Spring

Each day we’re faced with challenges, it’s one of the things I look forward to each morning and dread too.  There are days you don’t know what’s waiting for you, and sometimes what you are expecting that day isn’t something you’re looking forward to.  So today I have a challenge for you, as said by General George S. Patton:

“Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.”  

We can get so caught up in the struggle, and feel like we’re so far from ever reaching our destination that we can forget about what it feels like to have a victory.  The length and fight of the struggle dissuades many people from choosing or accepting challenges, so many people stay stuck, poor, unhappy and alone.  Because we’ve forgotten how great the victory is we’re living partial, unfulfilled lives.

This is one reason why I encourage all my clients to celebrate little victories as well as big ones, because if you don’t celebrate the little ones along the way you’ll never get to the big one.  If we don’t get to the victories the journey of life is one long stretch of challenges that are pointless really.  Challenges exist for two reasons: to help you grow and to get you to victories.  If neither of those is happening, what’s the point?

So this week and this spring choose some challenges to accept, challenges that you know will bring you to a quick victory, little or big.  Once you’ve learned how you personally work through challenges it becomes a lot easier to accept them and pace yourself so that you achieve victories on a regular basis and in every season of your life.  Let this spring be the start of the rest of your life.

Reality Reflection: Confidence

Today’s topic is one that most of us struggle with at one point in time or another: confidence. I heard on the radio today that confidence is one of the things that people check for when they meet new people.  Do you do a confidence check when you meet someone new?  Depending on the type of confidence they have you may feel overwhelmed, impressed, excited or even underwhelmed by them.

The confidence I want to talk about today is really based around people having a lack of confidence.  I talked with a consultant this week who had a simple but complete website and seemed like a nice person.  When I got him on the phone he didn’t really remember the emails we exchanged, reminded me several times about his lack of professional recognition (licensing/degrees etc.) even after I had already informed him that I wasn’t necessarily looking for anyone like that, didn’t seem confident about his ability to help me and it really put me off to wanting to work with him.

I’m not someone who leads with overwhelming confidence but I do believe in myself and my abilities.  If I tell you that I can’t assist you it’s not because I don’t have skills and capabilities, it’s because we’re not a good fit or you need other kinds of assistance than I’m able to or willing to offer.  I believe in who I am and what I can do, and won’t try to convince you I can or can’t offer assistance because I don’t fit in a society-approved box.

Confidence isn’t about always being right, being perfect, or having all the answers.  Confidence is about believing in yourself, who you are, what you’re capable of doing (even if it’s with the help of others), and believing in being able to make a positive difference on the future.  You don’t have to live up to the letter of the world’s law, you can make your own rules.  But if you choose to make your own rules and walk your own path, move forward with confidence in your ability to do so, don’t apologize for choosing to be different.

The Look and Feel of Health

One of the things we struggle with when it comes to health is other people’s definitions of health that we think have to apply to our lives. We think that we have to look like supermodels or fitness buffs. We think that we have to be taking all the top supplements or following the trendy diets. We think that beauty looks like whatever the magazines and social sites say is popular. The reality is that while we probably all could look like those people or follow the current most popular advice, most of us shouldn’t. We’re all created with similar bodies from a very basic appearance perspective, but that’s about where it ends because we all have different food requirements, physical capabilities and tastes which differentiate us from many other people. I don’t do well with a lot of meat, gluten or sugar in my diet, I prefer walks and the elliptical, and don’t really like flashy looks, but you may be the exact opposite.

And that’s more than OK.

The good news is that God says there’s a lot more to life than just how we look, and there’s a lot more to health than it too. No, we shouldn’t be sickly or trash our bodies or appearances, but healthy for each of us is different when it comes down to the details. Health is about looking and feeling good inside and out, in ways that we feel confident and honor the body, mind and life that God has given us.

Just because you don’t eat, look or dress like a superstar doesn’t mean that you’re not an amazing or healthy person. Make the right choices for your life in the food you eat, the daily exercise you get, the clothes you wear and what you feed your mind too.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”” 1 Samuel 16:7

Waiting Confidently for God

Sometimes it’s hard to see how God will work through your situation or how He’ll help you get out of it.  Sometimes there’s an easy answer like to be healed of the illness, but other times it’s not a black and white situation that you face.  Sometimes it’s easy to forget that there’s more to life than the pain and sadness that we face whenever we put on the TV or open a newspaper or news site.  It’s not easy to be confident in things when the world tells you you’re not good enough or not enough period.

But time and again in the Bible are shared reassurances that it will be OK.  It’s clear that we’ve always needed reassurance and encouragement, this isn’t anything new.  But now we do have the Bible to turn to and people from around the world who we can connect with who have experienced similar things or are just able to be there for us without judgment.

But back to the Bible, how do we know it will be OK?  How did they (the writers) know it would be OK?  Did they know something we don’t know?  I don’t think they did honestly.  Some of them had super deep connections with God, but so do some of us.  God did do some really big miracles for the people of Bible times but we can see God in so many little ways every day.

I think part of the difference was in how much faith they had.  In many ways we’ve been tainted by our world and all the very evident problems in it thanks to the internet and connectedness of our world.  So it’s become much more challenging for us to keep the faith that it will all work out when there’s so much that doesn’t work out.

But I have to agree with them, I do have faith that it will all work out.  I have faith that our connectedness will be a tool to build our faith and gives us the strength to believe that God does have a plan for our lives and does have a good future planned for all who believe.  Are you confident in the plan God has for your life?

“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”  Psalm 17:13-14