Delicious Uncertainty

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“Tell me all about it,” Judith said with wide-eyed enthusiasm, we met at a function a few months before and finally reconnected. I knew she was a good person right away; I felt it in my bones. Both Judith and I are planning events in the same season, and we’ve tried to be supportive of one another. But I hit a snag in the road, my ticket sales stalled and I felt stuck, so I reconnected with Judith for some advice.

“It’s going okay,” I mumbled trying to convince myself taking a quick sip of my coffee. I decided to come clean and leveled with her. “Look. Truth is, I don’t know if I’m doing this right.”

She listened intently and even finished some of my sentences.

“I called, met with them and then…”

“…You didn’t hear back, yeah I know,” she said nodding.

A wave of relief came over me.

“Yes, exactly! What am I doing wrong?”

“Nothing. You seem like you’re doing the right things.”

And then she described the challenges she was facing. As she continued, my body rocked with nervous excitement. She understood. She really understood. I had found a kindred spirit in Judith.

We both left our coffee meeting that day recharged and a little less deflated. And I left with another understanding. I realized I’m living with uncertainty. Oh, the agony of uncertainty. The not knowing. The elongated pauses. The appearance of nothingness.

It’s awful.

Getting from where you are to where you want to be seems thrilling when you have a plan. I thought I packed appropriately for anything. I was even ready to deal with shame gremlins that told me I couldn’t do it, but uncertainty … it’s awful.

Did I mention that?

So there in the middle of the coffee shop, I pulled out my notebook and tried to shed some light on my situation. Without thinking I wrote:

  • I am certain I am doing the best I can.
  • I am committed to this cause.
  • I am certain that I will see this through, even it’s just me and my husband sitting in a conference room.

I then realized that it all tied back to a seed I planted earlier this year. I said my one word would be resilience. I knew then I needed to learn how to bounce back, how to cope with stress and adversity, my stick-to-it-ness. I needed to work on my “grit” muscle. Well, here it is!

Me and my big mouth!

It sounds good when you say it, living it is just, ugh. I won’t say it.

Cheryl Strayed said it best in, Wild, she writes, “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”

So here I am feasting on delicious uncertainty while flexing my resilience muscle. I see fear over in the corner but I won’t let that bastard win.

How do you cope with uncertainty?

Here’s a promo video completed for the conference, let me know what you think. And if you’re on Google, subscribe to the channel.

I Really Thought I’d Be Much Further Along By Now…

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about gaining momentum. Do you remember as kids when running a race, we often took a few steps backward thinking it would help our stride and propel us forward? It seemed logical and instinctive in our juvenile minds that this was a surefire way of getting the boost we needed.

It’s funny how something so clear as kids somehow becomes a hindrance in adulthood. Then, it meant getting ready to run our race, and now taking a few steps backward could be interpreted as … we are not in the race.

But take heart – you are a contender.

In the stride of life there will be setbacks, and getting off our intended path or having to sit on the sidelines for a while or even taking 2 giant steps backward does not mean that you cannot win your race.

The word “backward” should not be made synonymous with a denial… and a step back is not a failure… and not being where you thought you would be at this point in life does not mean you failed.

Stepping back allows you to take a look at the big picture.

Stepping back allows you to confirm your direction.

Stepping back allows you to regain your sanity and composure.

Stepping back, intentional or not, adjusts your timing.

Consider this for today: If you find that you have to take a few steps back to get closer to your goal, do it with the confidence knowing that it’s only temporary and it will help push you forward in the long run.

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Righteous Indignation or Feminist Virtues (…that’s a mouthful)

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A women’s intuition is a powerful thing, I’m convinced that it’s a gift we’re born with. Some of us are more in tune with it than others but nevertheless all women have this innate ability of knowing when something just doesn’t quite add up.

“Who would like to give the closing prayer?” Sister Abbie would ask us. She was my first Sunday school teacher and very well liked among the kids because she had the best snacks. We were a motley crew of elementary and middle school aged students, southern, all from different socio-economical backgrounds.

Growing up I felt indifferent about church, even as a young girl I always felt that church was just that: church. It was something that you just did. No explanations, no exceptions. It was church. I loved praise and worship (the singing) and intercessory prayer but soon thereafter my attention was diverted elsewhere when the preaching began.

The room went silent.

Most of the kids started looking at the floor or their shoes. Nobody wanted to lead the prayer. An anxious feeling whelmed up inside me, I wanted to do it.

“No one?” she insisted. “We need someone to lead the prayer, children.”

I raised my hand. “I’ll do it, Sister Abbie.” She smiled tightly and walked toward me.

“I’m sorry, sweetie,” she said apologetically with the sweetest southern twang, “…girls don’t lead prayers in church.”

I felt all the air leave my body. I was stunned.

“Max, you lead the prayer,” she said pointing to the little boy sitting next to me and motioned for us to bow our heads. Was she serious? I mean, really. Even in my nine year old mind, I knew she was full of it.

While everyone bowed their heads, I didn’t. I was miffed.  What did she mean girls don’t lead prayers?

The class went through the motion of the closing prayer, I listened to Max stumble his way through. It wasn’t that good. I could have prayed better than that, I thought.

When we joined our families in the main sanctuary I couldn’t wait to tell my aunt. “…and then she said girls can’t pray in church,” I explained. My aunt’s face was expressionless. “She’s right, women’s roles in the church are finite,” she whispered touching my hand.

I looked into my aunt’s face. She was serious. She was wrong. I just knew she was. I felt it down in my bones – my nine year old bones.

That experience has stayed with me for a long time. I think it was probably one of the earliest memories that helped me see how some other people’s ideologies (and religious beliefs in this case) could potentially stifle someone else’s growth. There were other girls in the class that heard her, did they not have the same reaction? Did they question themselves? Was this the norm and I just didn’t notice that girls weren’t leading the closing prayer in Sunday school?

Now I know that everything ain’t for everybody. Some people are perfectly fine with the patriarchal structures in religious settings. That’s fine. I just knew early that it wasn’t going to work for me. I believe that God’s a little more flexible than that.

At thirteen I left that church, at the vehement protest of my family. I found another in walking distance from my grandmother’s house, after all I still had to do church. Today I attend church with my husband and children, I even listen to the lessons now. I still enjoy praise and worship and I make especially sure during intercessory prayer to affirm a special one, “…and God bless Sister Abbie.”

Amen.

Repositioning Yourself For Success Requires…

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about the comfort zone.

Take a look around you…did you know that the people and environments you’re most commonly associated with influence the decisions you make in your life?

It’s true.

Look left: Do you value the relationships you have with family and friends? Is it reciprocated? Do they honor you? Do they contribute joy and peace to your life? You should be able to be your whole self around them without pretense or facades.

Look right: Are you aspiring to a fleeting ideal of success based upon materialism and sensationalized versions of reality? From what or whom do you model your life? The unreality of the televised world is not meant to be the standard by which you live your life.

Look behind you: Everyone has a past, everyone has a story a defining moment in your life that has either propelled you forward and made you who you are or has continued to captivate you and keep you from your destiny. Remember the past but don’t live there.

Finally, look in front of you:  What will you do with today?

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Are You Addicted to Stress?

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It’s ‘Why Not’ Wednesday and today’s no fail message is about addictions.

When we hear the word “addiction” we often associate it with drug, alcohol, food or sex abuse, but did you know that you could be addicted to stress?

It’s true.

It means that there is a chemical reaction in your body that enables you to feel a certain way to get that “high” – you thrive under pressure, you live for constant deadlines and you think you are your best self this way. It’s actually quite similar to the intoxication that someone who is braving an addiction to drugs face. Not surprisingly, the effects are actually similar – over time you begin to lose yourself, physically, mentally, and spiritually. 

Consider this for today: Rethink the role of stress in your life.

Stress should be a tool that is used at specific times; you’re not supposed to dwell in a constant state of anxiety. I know that’s not easy and the truth is there is no magic bullet to eradicating stress. Like it’s first-cousin fear, the best way to manage it …is to get in front of it. Get present in the moment…and use stress to get the task done, then be done with it. Be the stressor not the stressed.

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The Best Way To Say ‘No’ And Not Lose Yourself

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Have you ever felt backed into a corner?images62RT9G57

You wanted to say “no” …needed to say “no”….knowing well that “no” would be the right thing to say, but somehow between your brain processing the request and your mouth opening, the word “yes” comes falling out?

It never ceases to amaze me how we make commitments all because we haven’t quite mastered use of one small word.

Notice I didn’t say simple.

Saying “no is never easy or simple.

The finality of “no” brings the burden of worry, guilt, and sometimes fear and shame. We don’t want to be misunderstood or perceived as rude, never want to miss out on a good opportunity, hurt anyone’s feelings or dishonor relationships.

But sometimes — often times actually – “no” is necessary. “No” is empowering, it can provide self-preservation, create boundaries, and “no” can open doors to future possibilities.

Recently I said “yes” to a clear “no” opportunity and while I’ve decided to grin and bear it this time, I wanted to be prepared the next go-round. To do so, I consulted the sage of sages: I went to Google.

I wanted to be prepared, have my script in pocket should the need arise again.

I read countless articles about how we should language our “no” because after all saying “no” and employing the art of tact are bedfellows, you shouldn’t have one without the other. After what seemed like forever, the articles were all pretty much the same. What I found were endless passive-aggressive ways to let the person down in order to keep the relationship in good standing. And you know what? I wasn’t satisfied.

Look, I’m Southern, we’ve mastered passive-aggressiveness with 3 simple words: bless their heart.

We don’t have to say what we think; we can smile and cuss you out at the same time. It’s a gift.

All the responses I saw to decline an “opportunity” felt like a maybe or a lame excuse, there was never something clear and direct.

I think I found the answer, you tell me:

When you’re asked to do something, assess whether you’re being asked from a place of love. You’ll know if the request is sincere…or selfish. Therefore, when you respond in-kind, do it from a place of love. Not spite, not hate, not fear of consequences, not from a place of lack or the need to fit in, but a sincere and honest response that will convey your truth. When you do that, there is no debate of about whether you did the right thing or not.

What do you think? How do you say ‘no’?

Hiding In Plain Sight

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I was alarmed and a bit irritated.

“Do you know why I stopped you, ma’am?” the officer prompted.

“No,” my response was clipped, but I honestly had no clue.

“What’s going on, Cece?” said a voice from overhead. I was driving home while engaged in a hands-free conversation with my mother. Her voice boomed through the speakers in the truck. “Just a sec, Ma,” I said turning the volume down, redirecting my attention to the guy standing less than a foot from my vehicle wielding a badge, and a loaded gun that rested at his side.denial

“You made an illegal turn at the light just there,” he motioned with his head.

“I did?” I began. “But… I didn’t −”

“License and registration, please.”

He made it clear that talking was not an option, and from his demeanor I knew a ticket was imminent.

Truth?

I traveled that road many-many times before, and have never seen a sign.

Ever.

More truth?

Recently there has been a lot of construction in the area resulting in road closures and detours. So, there… may… actually… be… a new sign there.

As I explained the situation to my mom her immediate reaction was, “just don’t turn on that road anymore.” Her voice had a slight edge and dripped with finality. I remember the tone well; it’s the same one that was used on me as a child when she felt something did not warrant further discussion.

At first, I laughed – it was a sad one, sort of half-hearted – but I laughed. I felt it in the pit of my stomach and it escaped through my slightly parted lips. The thought of avoiding a road only because I had incurred a traffic violation seemed ludicrous. It was, however, a typical Mom response: avoid confrontation at all cost, even if it means you have to inconvenience your life.

When the policeman returned with the citation, he offered a perfunctory smile. I drove away.

That night as I explained it all to my better half, I could not shake Mom’s words or my response.

We attributed the ticket up to my own shortsightedness (at least that’s what I’m telling myself so I can put this behind me). I shouldn’t have taken the road for granted. I may have known the area, but because of all the construction, I should have paid more attention.

I couldn’t help but wonder if there were other areas of my life where I am “missing the signs” because I’ve taken things for granted or I have consciously chosen to ignore them because I fear a certain outcome? The whole notion of conscious invisibility deludes us into thinking and seeing only what we want to think and see.

Am I the only one?

It could manifest in different ways, some would call it denial or avoidance others would say that it’s being human. We avoid the hard stuff. Most people choose not to face truth and conscious invisibility provides a sense of peace, the illusion of control, and the comfort of convenience.

Now that I am choosing to be aware, I’m going to give it a go and see where it takes me. I’ll be working through some hard truths. Notice I said some. I’m willing but am far from perfect, I’m pretty sure there are some things I will continue to unsee for right now.

What about you? Are there certain truths in your life that you’ve chosen to ignore? Will you face them? Or continue to unsee them?