So how do you keep it all together? What's the secret to handling the complexity that is life? I believe you need one simple thing. It gives you something to keep you grounded. It gives you peace. It can help you keep it together when everything else is flying apart. It's the one thing that can help you keep your perspective when life gets crazy.
It's a hobby.
I know it sounds crazy, but it's true. We all need to have something in life that's our own; something that's ours and ours alone; something that nobody else in life can put their hands on. You need to have at least one thing in your life that you choose to have in your life. Something that isn't inherited, passed on, or pushed on you. Something that you choose for no reason other than the fact that it brings you joy. It's something that's uniquely you.
That's not to say you can only have one hobby. I have several: I like to write, read, cross stitch, hike, and growing roses. But I believe that if you're blessed with hobbies then naturally, one will rise above the rest, and this is the thing that is "your own." For me, it's writing. That's the thing I choose to have in my life. That's the thing that is uniquely mine and that nobody has a right to touch in my life. When I face tough times or stress, I know I have that one thing I can go to as an outlet to express myself. I love creating stories that reflect my life, and I hope that people who's passion is reading will connect with the stories I create and find an outlet through them.
We all need to have that one thing that is our own, and there's too much to choose from to even list them. What's important is that it's something that you enjoy and that allows you to have an opportunity to follow a passion, even if only for a little while. Something simple and fun that you do just for the joy of doing it.
Simple but true. One thing in your life that's all your own can make the difference between you getting the best of stress and stress getting the best of you.
That's all today. Happy Friday tomorrow and have a great weekend.
There are a lot of vacancies in my life these days, it seems. Both of the pastors at my church left early last year. One of my colleagues resigned to take a job in another division of our agency, and my boss recently announced that she's retiring this summer. I've been asked the question "what do you want?" in their replacements a lot in recent months, and my response is always the same:
I want someone that's not afraid.
What does that mean? People ask. Afraid of what? Well, frankly I want people who aren't going to be intimidated by the hard work it takes to be a pastor, or a program assistant, or an administrator. I want bold people that are committed to doing their best. I know lots of people have sky-high expectations of perfection and struggle with "putting their feet back on the ground," but I'm content with effort. If you're doing the best you can and your effort is sincere, that works for me. I can be patient with a learning curve as long as I see that you're making a sincere effort to learn and to grow from what you are into the best you can be.
Simply stated, I want people with internal motivation. I want people that WANT to be their best and to bring life to that job description. I want them to be alive and not merely surviving. I want people that are bold enough to make it more than anybody expects.
I don't think that's too much to ask. Let's be honest, we all know that there are two primary motivators in life: faith or fear. Everything we do, every decision we make, is either to gain a reward or to avoid consequences. That's it. They've preached that since my college days, it hasn't changed in a decade and a half, and I doubt it will ever change. All of human history is a testament to it, and I think it's obvious that the people motivated by faith; the people that believe they achieve their dreams and make their corner of the world a better place, usually accomplish more than people that simply try to fly under the radar and not get attention or change things.
It all really boils down to the internal motivation factor too. Let's face it, making the best of life and achieving your dreams is hard work, and a lot of people are so scared of failure that they never get started. It does take a bold person to stick their neck out and risk losing their head - but fortunately, this is largely figurative. It took me a lot of years to learn that fear isn't fatal and even more years to realize that it's usually the thing that gives us the wisdom to keep working until we succeed.
Did you know that my first published book was a failure? I couldn't get that thing off the ground if I taped it to a 757. I don't know why, but all of my efforts to get an inspirational writing career going flopped. But I loved to write and wasn't ready to give up so I prayed, and thought, and studied up on writing, and realized that I could have a second chance if I worked smarter and was patient in my efforts and timing. I switched to writing fiction (which I like much better anyway) and decided to give e-publishing a try. It took me 7 years to get that second chance, but I just knew in my gut that I shouldn't give up so easily and I came to see that the traditional path wasn't right for me anyway. The rise of ebooks has been a golden opportunity, and I believe my failures as an inspirational writer helped me to grown and learn about writing better and the publishing business so I was able to take this opportunity offered by the rise of technology. I was rejected a lot - more times than I can count - but I forged on, believing that I was building up and getting ready for just the right moment. As frustrating as it was to work, fail, wait, work more, fail more, wait more for all those years, it prepared me for the right time, publishers, and opportunities when our paths finally did cross.
If you want to succeed at having a well balanced life, you have to get your spirit right. You can't live by fear. Nobody achieves success by the way of avoidance. If everything you do is to get out of things, you will live in bondage to others. It's like the quote I read on Twitter recently said: If you aren't living your dream, you could become part of a nightmare created by others. That's true. The winds of fate are a poor life course guide. You often get caught up in the turbulence of other peoples' drama and problems and wind out in places that benefit them 100% and you none.
I see a lot of fear in the world and people around me, and it scares me. Perhaps people would be less jealous and depressed if they made a conscious decision to be bold and live their life to the fullest instead of being afraid of it and dodging everything that looks like work and responsibility. Stop despising the day of small things and open your eyes to the fact that victory comes through sincere dedication to master these small building blocks to a bigger life.
Sure, I'll agree that there are times when other peoples' decision affect your life. I didn't want any of these people to go, but I've learned from life experience that people are going to do what's best for them, and they should. And while it's not fair for your life to be bumped around, it happens. We live in a comminity and that's a side effect of it. Balance and peace come not from dodging the storm, but through going through it knowing that it can bring an abundant new crop if you are willing to seize the opportunities that blow in and plant things and ways for the situation to be beneficial. That's why I want people around me that aren't afraid. That's why I want people around me that have that internal motivation to make life the best it can be. Sure it isn't perfect and there will always be things there that we don't want, but if you're committed to doing the hard work to reap the rewards and put things in right balance, then it will lead to better days.
So what's it going to be? Are you going to seize life, or are you going to let it seize you?
That's all today. Have a great weekend.
Villians may make the story, but let me ask you - what happens when YOU'RE the villian? It is possible to sabatoge yourself and self help experts and gurus will be the first to say that very often, the only thing we fight more than other people is ourselves.
It's true that we can fall into bad thought and behavior patterns that can sabatoge our own best efforts. In fact, this is a topic I'm pondering for my next book. The idea I'm working on is about a woman that compromises her integrity While she does struggle with other people and there will be a clear antagonist that will aid her in this endeavor, the true enemy is herself. The real battle is in how her thoughts and perceptions influence her actions and attitudes. And, in my classic fashon, it will turn toward mystery with a supernatural creature (I'm considering a djinn), a way-out-there-where-the-hell-did-that-come-from turn of events and, of course, a twist somewhere. Geeze, I hope I'm not becoming my own worst enemy by becoming cliche or (gulp!) predictable after 4 books. Hmm, it might be time to mix it up a bit. We shall see.
I feel this is a good theme to run with because I've seen it over and over, not only in other people but in myself. We all have tendencies that work against us, and the devil loves to use them. Fear is a pretty universal one that we all struggle with. We get scared and that pushes us in all kinds of places we don't intend to go: Stagnation, laziness, complacancy - heck, I call fear "the devil's shovel" because it's a handy tool he uses in us to dig those ruts we find ourselves in.
Our emotions can also get us into trouble. Whether we realize it or not, emotions are learned. YES THEY ARE! When we have an emotional response to something the first time it happens, we tend to continue to have THE EXACT SAME RESPONSE every time it happens after that. They can become conditioned. For example: You have an annoying friend that tends to call you every Tuesday at 3:00. Tuesdays are busy and you tried to explain that but they don't get it, so after the first 2 calls you grow annoyed with them. So how do you feel the third week when the telephone rings at 3:00? You get annoyed, right? Before you even pick it up, you associate a 3:00 call on a Tuesday with that person that annoys you, and just the sound of that phone ringing at that time makes you angry. Maybe you wise up on Week #3 and don't answer but you're still angry when the phone rings. How dare them, you think, without even answering this week - but still, you're mad because they made you mad the last 2 weeks. So we do learn many of our emotional responses.
Another way we sabatoge ourselves is through wrong thoughts. This falls into that same pattern where we learn emotional responses. We do something and one or two people have an unfavorable response to it, so we avoid it in the future because "that doesn't work out." This is something I struggled with a lot when I went through my job transfer. I was at my former place a long time, so when I moved I tended to assume the people at the new place would have the same reactions and attitudes as the people at the old place. For example, the former place where I worked didn't think much of my writing. They didn't like it and even told me that it wasn't company related and to keep it out of the office. So when I moved I assumed my new colleagues would feel the same. I had to fill out a "dual employment" form when I got my book contract for Blurry, so I turned it in as quietly as possible. Imagine my surprise when my boss called me in her office and asked me to tell her more about my writing! She loved that I was doing it. In fact, it turns out that many other people there have "side ventures" and the agency regularly featured these on their internal website - they even featured me when Blurry was released and shared the link to my Amazon.com profile. (In fact, they sent out an email earlier this week asking if anybody had news or accomplishments to report so they could celebrate it at our employee appreciation picnic in a few weeks.) I was absolutely shocked by how enthusiastic and supportative my colleagues were, especially when I spent so many years in a place where I was ordered to keep it quiet. It took a while for me to get used to that, but it also made me realize the other areas where I had wrong thoughts. Even after 2 years I still struggle with that and have to stop and tell myself "remember, they aren't the same people and don't see things the same way. Be fair." Thank Got I realize it and am working through it.
Yes, there are many ways we can be our own worst enemy, and we really have to guard against that. Sometimes we even project our own faults and reactions on others - but this entry is long enough, so let's save that for next time!
I'll close with a challenge - think about it. Are there any ways where you are your own worst enemy? Do you have thoughts or reactions that work against you? Think it over. It's worth it because really, these are easy things to correct. Often just stopping and realizing it is the path to breaking the pattern.
That's all for today. Happy Friday and I hope you have a great weekend.