acceptance · confidence · fears · letting go

When Failure Is The Only Option

Our little family is officially on summer break, but my thoughts are still wrapped around something that happened at the end of the school year. My son had a presentation due in the final weeks of the last quarter – an in-depth, visual, interactive, role-play type of assignment.

Now, while I am a hands-on parent and actively involved in my son’s education, I am also a realist.

He is in middle school so I only help when absolutely necessary. He is responsible for class assignments, school projects, homework, studying, deadlines, teacher communications, library returns, etc. I no longer interfere or assist or remind about his academics because he is old enough to be held accountable.

He needs to succeed on his own which also means he needs to fail on his own.

So it was that his presentation was due in two days, and he had neglected to mention it. I scrambled to purchase the most basic of supplies and offered to proofread his final report (I am a writer; I can’t help myself). And as I did, I realized he was probably not going to do very well. The example the teacher provided as a guide was far more elaborate, very detailed, extremely organized, and painstakingly set up to impress.

After rushing between school and baseball to print, cut, arrange, paste, and label, he declared himself to be finished and ready for the big presentation. I studied his project board – it was neat, organized, easy to understand. It was … presentable. But still, I am a writer, a person who loves to create and research. I enjoy the planning and effort it takes to make a project shine – pop – and wow.

I feared his project would not wow.

To be honest, I did not even care about his grade. What truly worried me was that he would feel inferior to other kids who had cooler projects with interesting props and better information. But as I watched my son gaze over his finished product with pride in its creation and satisfaction in its completion, I let it all go.

This was his and his alone – he would decide whether he did just enough or more than enough. And he would ultimately pay the price or be rewarded with his grade.

The next morning my husband went to the presentation (parents were invited) and texted a picture of my son smiling beside his project board. Over dinner that evening my son said a lot of people stopped at his station to listen to him speak and complimented his interpretation of a young boy from ancient China. He compensated for a lack of decorative props and colorful design with extensive knowledge and sheer confidence.

He proved less was more. He succeeded when I feared he might fail.

Too often we believe we know the right way to a happy ending simply because we have already walked the path ourselves, found how to get there. And because of this, we hope to save others from the pain or struggle, make it easier somehow.

The problem? If another person constantly tries to guarantee our success we will never understand the importance purpose, desire, and determination play in the achievement of goals. We will never experience the incredible sense of accomplishment that comes from difficult work or rough days. We will never know our victory is sweeter because we fell down and then picked ourselves up (as many times as it took).

And while sharing personal experience is important, it is not always the best predictor of success. Sometimes we must heed the advice of others who have been there while subsequently ignoring it. We must jump into something with nothing more than the simple faith we will be okay because we have done all we can do.

We need to rely on our ability, believe our best is good enough until we are told it is not. And if we do fail, we need to learn how to avoid failing again. On our own.

Mapping our own path often means we will stay on it longer. Perhaps more importantly, it might reveal that pushing to be better is not always a marker of success. Just because we try harder does not guarantee we will get what we want. Sometimes, perseverance is simply a reminder we are able to do great things, things we may have believed to be out of reach. Yes, we might reach a little too high and tumble to the ground. But that is the beauty of failure. It reminds us why we want something, makes it more desirable, and helps us determine if it is really worth it.

I still plan to nudge my son, encourage him to try a little harder, work a little more, and go above and beyond the moment when he thinks he is finished. But I am also going to let him make his own mistakes and allow him to fail. In truth, I hope he fails a lot because that would mean he stepped outside his comfort zone, took chances, and pushed the limits.

Perhaps then he will see himself as I do – so amazing and talented and smart and funny and loving and a reflection of all that is possible in this world. Only then will I feel I have succeeded.


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change · confidence · goals · renewal

Dream Big And Work Small

Too often when we want something, we do not want to wait for it.

Instant messages, fast food, quick loans, overnight delivery, one hour glasses. The world has been wired to coddle and appease on-demand tastes. And with the increasing speed of everything, our desire to want experiences now has not only become commonplace but expected.

It is human nature to focus on the destination rather than the journey. But while a hurried approach might be fine for the service industry or technology, the rapid-fire tempo of life does not work everywhere, especially when it comes to far-reaching dreams or goals.

Change – real and meaningful change – does not happen quickly. It requires determination, organization, and extreme patience. And this is often the very reason why many people do not pursue their true dreams. They think big but do not work small. They want the reward without taking an honest look at the steps necessary to get there.

We cannot always get what we want simply by wanting it. We must work, then wait, work, and then wait again. Rushing toward satisfaction in certain areas will only lead to 1) disappointment with the result 2) lack of appreciation for the result 3) lackluster result or 4) complete failure.

Life is a project. Treat it that way.

Whether it be physical or mental, a career path, school, relationships, home improvement, or a major life change, mapping out the ideal end and expectation is the key. And the best place to start? At the beginning.

  1. Where do you hope to be? What exactly do you want? I mean truly want. Focus on the overall picture, aim high and dream big but be sure you are specific in your goal. Envision the intricate details of your final reward. Imagine the incredible feeling of accomplishment. Having a clear visual along with the anticipation of a successful end will help propel you forward when times get tough and all seems impossible.
  2. How will you get there? What is your simple plan? And I do mean simple. Create a few manageable steps. Again, you have to start somewhere so start at the beginning. Decide what must be done and go in order – do not jump to an easier, more appealing task if others must be completed first. Work diligently and once done, move onto the next. And do not forget to take pride in the smallest of victories and celebrate along the way.

And for those times when you feel stuck, defeated, or in need of a reality check:

BE DETERMINED Short term pain for long-term gain. If you made a decision, stay committed and resolve to see it through. There will be times when it all seems too much and overwhelming. With any large undertaking it is inevitable. You will question whether it is worth the time, energy, or emotional and physical effort. But if you obsess and get caught up in the amount of work involved, you will never get anywhere. When it all seems too much…

GET ORGANIZED Work small for big results. Think about it: a bridge is not built road first – it needs a stable, strong foundation, a base to rest upon. Even this article is not published immediately, it goes through stages of content creation, research, editing, proofreading, etc. Work in an organized manner and find a way to overcome every step, no matter how involved or consuming. If that way does not work, seek another. Simply crossing one thing off the list and moving onto the next can be a great motivator to…

HAVE PATIENCE Stay the course. Be sympathetic to the process and your journey. If you need to reassess and alter the course, do it. If you got through a rough spot, treat yourself. When you need a break, take it. And if all becomes too much, show some compassion. Just do not forget what you are working toward and the hurdles you are willing to overcome to get there. Baby steps can turn into long distance marathons and crossing that proverbial finish line will feel unbelievable.

If there is something on your wish list that seems unattainable, do not fret. It can be yours.  Just don’t expect to get it overnight.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

change · confidence · goals · self

What To Do When No One Has Your Back

Face it, there will be times when no one supports your decision, when you are on your own, and when it is all on you.

We like to believe we achieve goals or succeed because someone helped us along the way. And to be honest, the majority of the time that is the case. Many of us would never overcome the bumps and bruises of life or exceed our own expectations without the aid of a spouse, family member, friend, neighbor, school, church, or community.

While it is true we pull our strength and motivation from those around us, there will come a time when we have no one to lean on – when no one has our back.

If you find yourself adrift in a sea of doubt and alone in your dream, it might be time to look inward rather than out for the validation and support you need.

3 WAYS TO BE THERE FOR YOURSELF

Become your loudest cheerleader –
When the crowd around you quiets to barely a whisper, that is the perfect time to unleash your inner voice and speak up loud and clear. In the most difficult and darkest of moments, seek whatever is good. Positive affirmations, celebrations for small victories, and personal rewards or incentives can all be the driving catalyst to keep you moving forward. Telling yourself “you got this!” or shouting out an “atta-girl!” (even if you do not completely believe it) may seem silly or insignificant but it can make an incredible difference when it matters most.

Do not give up on yourself (even if others have) –
A goal, particularly a far-reaching one, may take a toll over time. People will come and go and possibly tire of your journey, but that is to be expected. It is not their desire, it is yours. Dreams are tricky things. They can seem awesome and attainable at one moment and then ridiculous and out of reach the next. If living with it 24/7 pushes you beyond your limits, it might be time to reset. When at your lowest, focus your mind and heart on the end game and try to remember how great it will feel to reach the highest point. The ability to say you did it when no one thought you could can be an amazing motivator.

Remember the impossible is possible –
At some point someone will tell you it is a waste time and you should let it go. That is okay, especially if it is something you really want and believe in. A personal passion does not always need to be understood by an outsider. If you want and believe it that should be the key motivator. Some of the greatest inventors, doctors, musicians, artists, leaders, etc. were told they were crazy and wasting their time. But they had a vision, something no one else could understand in its beginning stages because it seemed too abstract and unreal. Even when others may not see it, keep your eyes wide open. Fight for what you know to be true and when you are done, share it in all of its entirety and beauty for the rest of the world to see.

In a world where we gain affirmation from virtual thumbs-up, social likes, and shares, it can be difficult to find and place value on our own thoughts and actions. Support comes from a variety of sources and whatever is given should definitely be appreciated. Just do not forget that sometimes, the most important person to have your back is you.


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confidence · discovery · fears · learning

Sometimes We Fall Before We Fly

Lately, I have been repeating a favorite quote in my mind.

“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask “What if I fall?”
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?”
― Erin Hanson

As a writer, I have to deal with many more downs than ups.

It is not uncommon for someone who creates and shares their work to feel this way. The fear of putting myself out there and having no one care. The feeling of being ignored, unappreciated, or unacknowledged. The disappointment. The rejection. They are all part of the business.

Life is much like a roller coaster. Some parts are simply more thrilling than others.

The good? An official book release. The best? Hearing from a reader who loves my work. The worst? A not-so-flattering review. In an industry validated by book sales, viral shares, and best seller lists, it is easy to fall into the trap of negative thought. To somehow believe I am not enough or have failed.

But, there is one thing I believe more: without a little risk, there is no reward.

I can either play it safe where I know the outcome or seize an opportunity and see where life carries me. My choice? Take an enormous, frightening leap outside my comfort zone and fall into the unknown rather than deal with regret. Following my heart is the true measurement. I decide whether I am a success or failure. No one else.

Sometimes, life only gives us one chance.

Anytime we become caught in the web of criticism, missed expectations, or self-defeat, it is natural to turn and place the blame inward. A game lost, a job opportunity or promotion missed, an error of some kind, a broken relationship. Missteps like these and others may seem unfair, especially when we tried our best and believe winning is the only option.

But the perceived losses are actually part of the plan and that plan is always greater than any we could dream for ourselves. As such, a setback – big or small – should never be the deal breaker for quitting. Instead, it should serve as a reminder of how much we want something.

Have a little faith. Muddle through the not-so-glamorous in search of the true beauty. Realize the bumps and bruises we seemingly suffer will not only heal but strengthen and propel us forward. Without the low moments we can never begin the slow, exhilarating ascent to the top. View the struggle, the uphill climb as an integral part of the journey toward something better.

The next time you feel like giving up, stop. Straighten your wings and try again. Yes, you might fall. But you might fly.


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acceptance · confidence · self

Dear Introverts: Stop Apologizing

I am a slow learner. For much of my life I believed I was an extrovert. After all, I enjoy time with friends and family. I love a happy hour stop, glass (or four) of wine, and girl chat. I appreciate a good party or dinner out. I volunteer when possible, attend school and sport events. I socialize and subscribe to the adage “the more the merrier.”

But a while back, I stumbled upon an INTROVERT explanation which completely changed my view. The part that stood out? The use of ENERGY.

For while extroverts gain their energy from stimulating events and being surrounded by other people, introverts derive their energy in the quiet moments and by being alone.

It does not mean introverts are anti-social. It simply suggests they tend to lose energy and become drained more easily than extroverts, and as a result require ample time alone to recharge. In addition, introverts typically enjoy the moments spent on their own and gain satisfaction from solitude.

This. Is. Me.

I do well with groups and crowds and nights away from home … I just cannot do a lot of it, especially in a short time. I need to step back, take a break, renew and recharge – alone. Once I do, I am ready to get out again.

I AM AN INTROVERT. Or, more specifically an outgoing introvert!

Of course as a blogger/author who works hour upon hour from home and in isolation, that might seem obvious. In fact, writer often comes up under suggested professions for those who are introverted.

It is also possible I have changed. As we age, it is natural to simplify our time and surroundings. Perhaps my personality shifted when I embraced the concept of MINIMALISM fifteen years ago. Maybe that was the turning point – the one of filling my life with experiences rather than things? But then again, maybe not.

In truth, I am not concerned about why or how I moved toward the category of introvert. What bothers me is that I somehow made myself believe something was wrong with me.

I try not to be busy every day and night of the week. I avoid over-scheduling. I do not organize tons of interesting kid activities or adult gatherings. I am content to spend time at home. I have not mastered the art of keeping up with calls, texts, emails, and social media.

What is wrong with me?

Turns out, nothing is wrong with me. Once I understood what I was and what it meant, I made the decision to spend my time more efficiently and without explanation. My days are now better tailored to my personality.

I intend to live with purpose.

Yes, I still feel judged once in a while, especially when I meet someone new. And I feel left out at times, though it is often by my own design.

When an introvert says no too often, others stop asking. They are not the first to be invited or asked to help. They are not the person others think to call or text. It is easy to feel forgotten or dropped altogether from the friend list. And for an introvert who does not feel comfortable reaching out, this can be upsetting.

Please know, none of this is a sign that you are unlikable or unloved. It is not a measure of your worth or popularity. And above all, it is not rejection. It is simply a reflection on the business of life.

It is not uncommon to internalize these feelings or believe we are the problem. Society is geared to reward those who are more extroverted. And sadly, there are countless articles on managing introversion as if it is a chronic affliction in need of a cure.

You are not broken.

Even still, people with introverted tendencies often feel the need to explain and inevitably apologize. Stop doing that. Now. If you are content with your life, you do not owe an apology. Not to yourself. Not to anyone.

YOU ARE NOT

  • selfish
  • uncaring
  • lazy
  • inconsiderate
  • rude
  • obligated
  • unworthy of affection
  • boring
  • too serious
  • intense
  • shy
  • reserved
  • anti-social
  • socially inept

Introversion is a character trait, not a problem to be fixed. Do not feel guilty. Do not feel sorry. Do not be ashamed or embarrassed. BE YOU.


WONDER IF YOU ARE AN INTROVERT?

What Is An Introvert

23 Signs You’re Secretly An Introvert

KNOW SOMEONE WHO IS AN INTROVERT?

They are not a label nor do they fall into one category. Many enjoy conversation, socializing, possess an excellent sense of humor, and are generous, compassionate, and willing to help.

10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With The World

6 Reasons Why You Should Appreciate Introverts

QUICK TIPS

  1. Be patient
  2. Give them a break now and then
  3. Do not pressure
  4. Avoid guilt trips
  5. Do not judge their decisions
  6. Do not try to change them
  7. Keep extending invitations
  8. Welcome them into your circle
  9. Do not make them feel forgotten
  10. Appreciate the time spent together
acceptance · confidence · self · simplicity

7 Ways To Simply BE

Sometimes I wonder what is wrong with me.

In any given day, there is that inevitable moment: the one where I realize I am dropping the proverbial ball.

I want to do all things. BE all things.

A wife who dotes on her husband so he might realize how amazing he is, how much he is loved, and how wonderful life is with him in it.
A mother who expertly walks the delicate balance between tough and pure love while teaching her son how to succeed, fail, respect others, challenge himself, dream big, be realistic, and thrive in this crazy world so he might one day change it for the better.
A daughter who is not too wrapped up in this current life to appreciate the woman who gave it to her.
A sister who never forgets to thank her siblings for the memories, laughter, and unconditional support.
A niece who feels blessed to have funny, loving, caring, and giving women who are not only aunts but friends.
An aunt who loves her nieces and nephews as if they were her own children.
A friend who has time to listen, help, advise, laugh, and simply be there when needed.
A writer who understands the purpose of her words and the need to share them.
A woman who is all things for all people – one who never wavers, has the right answers, provides eternal praise, rarely criticizes, never hurts another, does not judge, always knows what to say, puts herself first, dresses impeccably, maintains a spotless home, prepares gourmet meals, never forgets an appointment/grocery item/to do item, is always on time, and all the while making it seem effortless.

Of course, this is a fantasy. Succeeding in one area of my life often means I am struggling in another. And to be honest, I am okay with that. Struggle is a part of life and as long as I am not failing completely in any given area, then I am fine.

It simply is not possible to be all things to all people all of the time. It is not only unrealistic and exhausting but impossible to perform at top speed and perfection every minute of every day.

I have learned to give myself two beautiful gifts: patience and compassion. And once I willingly accepted those gifts, I realized something: I am everything I hope to be. For even when I am not consciously performing some act to prove it, I am all of those things. They are part of me.

I have not lowered my standards, but I refuse to set too high of expectations. I no longer push myself to work toward something I will never master. More importantly, I do not even want to. I have learned:

7 Ways To Simply BE

  1. FACE REALITY – Take a ruthless look at your schedule and decrease the load wherever possible. Do not be afraid to say no! If letting things go is not an option, work to make it more manageable by simplifying tasks.
  2. BE PROACTIVE – Beware of the trap, the one where you juggle multiple things and seem to be doing well. Inevitably, a ball will drop and when it falls, it will fall hard and possibly shatter. Look for ways to lessen the stress before it is too late.
  3. SET PRIORITIES – Sometimes one area of life will require all of your time and effort. Focus on health, family members, education, career, etc. as needed. And once life is on track, carefully widen the circle to include the people and things you missed.
  4. REACH OUT – Let others know when you are overwhelmed. Ask for patience (or forgiveness). And if someone offers, do not be afraid to accept help.
  5. ANALYZE – Is leisure time being used wisely? Technology can be a huge benefit but it can also be a tool for procrastination or avoidance. Cutting back on screen usage (TV, phone, computer) can free up time for health, quality interactions, a hobby, etc.
  6. DIVIDE AND CONQUER – Consider working on one area of your life and once it is under control, move onto another. The nice thing here is that you completely focus on something you hope to organize and improve for a short time and then once it has become easier to manage, you tackle another one with equal and dedicated attention.
  7. ACKNOWLEDGE – Realize how much you actually accomplish. It is pretty amazing when you look closely at the things you do during one day. Make a comprehensive list – include everything, no matter how small. You will be amazed at all you do. An added bonus? It will show how time is spent and reveal areas to improve or simplify.

Balancing every aspect of life is not easy and as we pass through each new stage, the path only becomes more difficult to navigate. Even when life comes at us fast and hard, however, we can enjoy it. The key?

Show yourself kindness. Be patient and compassionate. Discover how to live this crazy, beautiful life on your own terms. Just BE.


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acceptance · confidence · letting go · relationships · self

When Your Best Is Not Good Enough

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Sometimes you will not be good enough for someone.

I discovered this over time and although I knew it to be true, I convinced myself that if I only tried harder, acted better, or did more, I would be fully accepted by this other person. After constantly wondering why the relationship was not working and some extreme soul-searching, I acknowledged the problem: I had been compromising myself and my beliefs and my very personality to please someone else. More importantly, I decided to stop.

When we hide or attempt to erase part of who we are, we lose more than just personal comfort and self-esteem – we lose ourselves.

In my experience, I tried to be different from the person I truly was because I feared hurting my friend. I had shown my true self before, opened my heart, offered every real part of me and when I did, they gave judgement rather than understanding. Instead of appreciation, I received disappointment. This person claimed they wanted to be close to me yet when I provided honesty and a genuine desire to share, I was rejected. So in order to maintain the relationship, I altered the way I acted whenever in their presence. I chose my words carefully, stepped lightly, and did not rock the proverbial boat.

I pretended to be someone who matched their standards for approval because I did not want to create more disconnect. I did not want to hurt my friend. I hoped to make them happy. I needed to be accepted. The problem with this? I lost sight of who I was. I became disconnected. I hurt myself. I felt unhappy. I failed to accept me.

Accepting who we are is at the core of everything we hope for in this life. It is our essence, our very being that touches all we do. It is what gives us the confidence to face challenges, bravery to overcome fears, compassion for others, and the ability to love and be loved. A genuine, healthy relationship should not carry expectations so rigid they force one person to change things they once loved about themselves.

I do not believe in grudges or pushing good people away. As such, I still have the aforementioned person in my life. I consider them a dear friend. I love them. I truly care about them and think they are a fantastic person. We just do not interact the way we once did, and I no longer share what is in the deepest reaches of my heart. Our relationship needs are simply different and it took me awhile to understand and appreciate these differences are not only okay but necessary. It was a beautiful reminder to allow others to be whoever they want to be and give myself permission to do the same.

I released the painful grip it held on me and finally let go. Because in the end, my best may not be good enough for them, but it is good enough for me.

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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE