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Expect Another Year Just Like Last Year, Unless You Change Directions

Once midnight hit and 2016 officially began nothing changed other than the date. Even the energy around you was the same. If you looked around there was nothing that you could identify that miraculously happened at 12am. Your waist didn’t suddenly shrink. Your bank account didn’t suddenly triple. Yet, the great thing, is absolutely everything has the potential to change. And it can change this year. One thing is consistent you are the determining factor as to how 2016 treats you.

Even if you only have a little inkling deep inside you to make a change, listen! And make a significant change today that supports and feeds that deep, down urge to do something different. You know you aren’t happy with everything in your life today, so do the courageous thing and use your energy to change the “old” energy. Out with 2015 and in with something new for 2016.

If you want anything to change you have to fight for it. You have to fight to get away from your old way of doing things. I say fight because you – your mindset, thoughts, perspective, and environment are all conducive to you remaining the exact same year after year.

The fight is really within you. Will you continue to just flow in the direction your life is going or will you change the course. Once you’ve determined, truly determined, in your heart that something is worth turning your world upside down to obtain- you will. Not a moment sooner. The power is in your hands or rather your decision. You are the catalyst. You are the deciding vote to what takes place over the next 300 something days of this year.

If you really want to change something in your life, you have to stop doing what we normally do. Have you ever noticed when anyone does something remarkable, like loose 100 pounds or pay off 50k in debt in one year, they drastically changed their habits. They cut and added things, they made themselves uncomfortable, they sacrificed just to reach their goal and they created very strict boundaries to live within. If you have a goal and it really matters to you, you will be willing to cut things out, live uncomfortable and sacrifice if needed. If this does not sound appealing to you, then quite honestly, that goal does not matter to you that much.

Entering a new year seems like you have such a long time to accomplish whatever goal you set forth. You can move at a snails pace because you have a long time to get that thing done, right? Nope, wrong. This year will fly by. Do you remember getting to last December and suddenly everyone started talking about how they couldn’t believe the year was almost over. There was a sadness or sameness for many, because they were leaving yet another year the exact same way with the exception of being one year older.

Respect Time my friend because it’s fleeting. If we honor time then we’ll get busy and stay focused. I mean we are already into the third week of 52 weeks. There is something that you should/could be accomplishing this year in your life. And I promise you if you don’t accomplish that thing, whatever “it” may be, it will not get easier next year because you’ll have something new to tackle. When we leave things unaccomplished and then decide to do it later, it’s more difficult and takes way more effort. Think about working a real full-time job and going to college. (Been there, done that and it was hard!) It’s so much harder doing things out of their season. Flow with the season you are in to prepare for the next season in your life. There is a scripture that says not to put off tomorrow what we can do today, because tomorrow is not promised.  The opportunity to do that thing (whatever it may be) is not promised to you tomorrow. Next year is not promised to any of us, so let’s make all the days of 2016 count for something other than simply existing.

Have you every put on a dress you use to love and suddenly it’s too tight. It use to hug you in the right places and now it simply suffocates you (hello holiday weight). This year I hope you have some areas that get “too tight” and you become uncomfortable enough to buy something new. I pray this year is a year of outgrowing the old and ordering something new, so that your joy is increased. New energy for a new year! Stay focused and motivated!

Mountain Climbing 101: How to Conquer Life’s Problems

I love love love to hike! Hiking easily takes me to my happy place, so much so that when I was 7.5 months pregnant I hiked almost 8 miles. Now mind you, my hips still hurt a bit even a year after having my baby, so don’t do what I did. LOL! But seriously, one of the reasons I love hiking is I get to push my mind past my perception of my body’s limits. Even still, hiking for me is less about physical endurance and more about the symbolism of “conquering” the mountain. It’s a very literal parallel for me. Each time I hike, I always have this image playing in my mind that climbing a mountain is like handling one of life’s difficult problems.

Sometimes life makes us feel like we are in a valley, looking up at an endless mountain humbling us in its presence. Mocking and intimidating us simultaneously. All while fiercely blocking where we are presently and where we desire to be. You know, it isn’t a tiny mountain you can just gingerly skip across on a whim. This is one of those mountains that requires provisions and focused attention because you’re going to be at it for a while and it’s going to take some fight to make it to the top. And let’s be honest those mountains can be overwhelming. Those mountains make us wonder is it really worth the time and the energy? And then there’s the conversation we won’t willingly admit out loud to most anyone. “Can I really do this? Am I strong enough? Will I quit? I mean I’ve easily quit hard things before. Do I even want to go through the hassle? Where I am, though uncomfortable isn’t really that bad. I mean I’m alive, right? So and so encountered a similar mountain but she’s this and that and I’m not any of those things.”

So here’s the deal, that internal conversation you are having with yourself will either keep you from ever attempting to climb the mountain or it will give you enough courage to start the climb. Your problem, like that mountain, will not just go away. It’s there and will continue to be there, waving it’s little annoying, nubby finger right in your face until you conquer it. It’s all up to you. You have to decide, put on your big girl panties and start moving.

I’m not asking you to close your eyes and just endure until your problem is over because chances are it will not resolve itself. I’m not asking you to take a passive position. No, climbing (forward movement) takes strength and endurance. One doesn’t just stand at the base of a mountain and simply hope to reach the top. No. One must put one foot in front of the other. Effort. And push past any physical discomfort until the desired result is achieved. So your mountain looks like a looming divorce. Deep debt. Being a single parent. A dead-end career. Depression. Bad health. Abuse. Infertility. Desiring to be married. Starting a new business. Fill in your own blank. It can all be conquered, if you only have faith to begin the climb.

No mountain is the same; no step on the mountain is the same. But a few things are always present when conquering a mountain.

  1. You will exert physical energy and you will have to push past all pain barriers – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. At times you might have to ignore your pain just to keep moving. Despite physical exertion you will use more mental strength and energy to keep moving.
  2. Rather or not you make it to the top is based on your mental capacity. Not only do you have to make sound decisions while being physically spent, but you also have to keep motivating yourself – maybe even out loud. Yea you might look like a crazy person talking to yourself, but you have to give yourself mental pep talks.
  3. I can guarantee without question you will want to quit at some point. Likely when you are closest to the top (and don’t know it) and it gets the hardest to climb because you are exhausted. What was required to get halfway up the mountain is not what is needed for the other half.
  4. You will need some sort of a guide like a map. There are some people who’ve climbed very similar mountains before….successfully. Consider seeking them out and learn what they did to win. Granted their story will not be your story exactly, but it might be helpful or inspiring.
  5. You may have to go seek out reinforcement to help you get up the mountain…a friend, sister, somebody! The more physical energy is needed the more you will need someone else to help support you. And if you don’t have anyone, I’ll cheer for you.
  6. You may be alone on your climb most of the time and that’s OK. You are strong enough to conquer the mountain by yourself. Everything you need is already in you to win.
  7. Once you start don’t give up. Consider what you’ve already invested to this point. Don’t let those tears and sweat be for nothing.
  8. At this moment you could be seconds, minutes, hours, days, or months from beating you problem. Think of this when you want to quit, “I could be seconds away…” Though an end may not be in sight, this is when you bare down, grit your teeth and give it all you have.

When you are tired of circling the same mountain, dealing with the same problem year after year, conquer it once and for all.

Hopeless?

Awhile ago I became complacent. Stagnant. Stale. Sounds terrible right? I wasn’t happy with a few situations in my life, but I was learning to accept them. The blunt verb to describe what I was doing was settling. And I’m anti-settling. But “settling” started slowly creeping into my life because I was tired of wishing and releasing mental energy for change that was happening. I lost my hope for those things to actually change.

One of the beautiful attributes of hope, is its ability to instantly “lift” your spirit. It happens the moment you believe in the possibility of being better than you were yesterday. This belief sparks a sensation of joy and peace. Then hope brings a lightness to your mood and spirit. It’s a defibrillator for your spirit. It pulls you out of depression into a world, wide open with endless possibility. Suddenly a good marriage doesn’t seem too far off. A new home isn’t out of door. Or simply being consistently happy isn’t a stretch.

Hope gives you aim. You are able to “place” your faith. It brings a desire from fantasyland to an intimate, right-in-your-face-I-can-really-have-that place. No longer is it just wishing to have a good marriage but “oh yea it’s possible for me and my husband to be madly in love with one another again.”

Hope allows us to order something else from the menu of life. If you don’t like what you see in your life today, politely raise your hand to order something more to your liking. When looking at what you really want in your life remember to check out the price. Maybe to get that happy marriage you wholeheartedly desire, you have to stop talking so much and listen or stop telling your business. Or to get the new job you have to be diligent where you are today. Whatever the cost may be don’t be discouraged by it, you can handle it.

Hope allows us to see potential where previously it was void. Situations don’t seem so bleak anymore. And that spark of hope lights a fire for us to go and do something.

Hope doesn’t stop at possibility; it should propel you to go do something to manifest what you would like. Faith without works my friend is dead. Don’t let your hope or faith die due to your inaction.

As for me…my hope is very much alive today. And when I have moments of doubt or discouragement, I have a mental image full of faith I replay. Sometimes I’m instantly brought back to my place of hope and other times it takes more effort. Either way, I’m not letting hope…or faith die with me. I encourage you to think of the possibility of what you really want your life to be like. Don’t be afraid to dream and imagine yourself in the life you deeply desire. Allow that hope to revive the faithless places in your life. Pray the prayers that scare you because they are so big you cannot accomplish them in your own strength!

Be Selective Who You Share Your Problems With

I’m going to ask a question I already know the answer to, but for the sake of pondering a new thought I’m going to ask anyway.

Have you ever pulled up a chair, curled up on the sofa, laid on your bed sobbing about a problem to your best girlfriend, mom, sister, auntie, second-cousin-twice-removed-named-Amanda? I mean you went into the long version of the story. You know the one that started with memories from 10 years ago, present-day feelings and perceived intentions of the party. You described in painful detail what your problem was and how insurmountable it seems and just how unfair life is to you. I. Mean. Why. Is. This. Happening. To. You? You’re a good person. You buy Girl Scout cookies from all your neighbors’ kids. You’re a good – fill in the blank. You let it all out and you were all cried out. Your best girlfriend agreed with your position and/or maybe, just maybe, threw in alternative way of looking at the problem. How did you feel?

Did you feel better? I mean everyone says all you need is a good cry. A good night’s sleep. A listening ear. But really how did you feel?

I’ll venture to answer, you probably felt the exact same. No better. Maybe even worse. You reignited your disdain for the person that wronged you and now you are steaming. You stirred the pot of emotions and now they are boiling over again. You might have felt more validated in your pain. All or most of your emotions were sympathized and fussed over, so that you are resolute in your heartache.

Honestly, I too have had those conversations to many times to count. I even talked about the same problem to multiple family members, friends, coworkers, even a stranger or two. It happened so effortlessly because the pain of the problem gnawed relentlessly at me, so it was way too easy to transition from discussions on what I had for dinner to just how unfair life was at the moment. At the end of each conversation I felt the same or worse. And more than anything – nothing, absolutely nothing, was solved. The only victory was I had more sympathy and yet another person knowing intimate details of my life.

I had an ‘Ah hah’ moment awhile back to be way more selective with who I share my problems because I don’t just want to complain or vent. I actually want help solving my problem in some way, shape or form. Yes, sometimes venting and hug from a friend is all you need, but most other times useful insight from an outsider is needed. So why waste time sharing with someone who cannot give you good, sound advice?

Here are a few reasons why I’ve come to the decision to be extremely selective when it comes to sharing my problems:

  1. Life and death are in the power of the tongue. Seriously it is. Dwelling on my problem by talking about it, is not creating life. Unless I’m genuinely having a conversation with someone who can HELP me with my problem, which will ultimately breath life into a dead situation, I will not share. And I’m sure you can feel when you are having a conversation that will help you transition from one position in life to a better position. Have those conversations, but not the ones that keep you stuck where you are.
  2. Talking about a negative problem only perpetuates an environment of negativity. If I truly want the problem to change I have to change my posture, meaning change my attitude towards the problem. Yes, it is hard. I know. But you can make it through this problem without feeling the fire. Majority of you changing the way you feel about the situation has to do with your mouth again. Start using your words to improve the situation. For example, instead of talking about how crappy your husband is, talk about how he always takes out the trash without you asking even when he’s mad at you. (Start small if you have to.)
  3. I will not simply vent to anyone because everyone is not equipped to help me with my problem. I would not go to my hair stylist to birth my baby. Simple enough right? We should be selective in who we share our problems with because not everyone will give wise, unbiased, sensible feedback. Most of us tend to give advice solely from our worldview.
  4. If your problem has another person on the other end of it, they are likely the best person to communicate with not your girlfriends. If you cannot communicate with the other person, consider adding a professional or a mature 3rd – party to help you navigate the waters. Again choose the appropriate party.
  5. This is a big one…you vent to your mom (or whomever) about your husband. You get over the situation and move on. You and your husband are in a good space, but your mom still brings up that situation and judges your husband poorly because of it. Here’s the deal relationships are tricky. When you involve others through sharing your problems, you run the risk of making your significant other look bad and for others to hold a grudge. No one is perfect in a relationship. Since your mom isn’t there to see all the good your husband does she could possibly judge him only by the negative things you share. Most of us tend to vent about the negative things someone does and forget to share all the good things.

Talking about your problem isn’t changing it. Use your precious words to bring life, a new perspective, some good energy into problematic situations. If you need to talk about it, choose wisely and only share with a person/people who can truly help. Run away from those people who just want to listen, so they can run and tell someone else.