Are your first instincts to find a reason to agree or to argue?
Not just with others, but with YOURSELF.
An opportunity arises, and maybe it is a bit out of your wheelhouse but the thought of it scares yet excites you…do you say yes? Or do you talk yourself out of it before the thought ever becomes a thing?
Recently a friend marveled at some of the things I’ve been able to pull off in my 55 years, and most of it had nothing to do with credentials (though I’ve got them), connections (didn’t have many) or luck of the draw (I’m still counting on winning the lottery one of these days.)
All of the “wins” – getting in to voice-overs for commercials, or gaining speaking engagements – were because I said yes to life…and yes to ME.
Yes equals, “I have faith in ME.” And if you keep building on that faith, the challenges that inevitably come can’t win. Those temporary setbacks become stepping stones; opportunities for growth. Developing that YES on the inside shapes your resilience until it becomes your default.
The wins don’t always come fresh out of the gate. But if you keep saying that three letter word, the wins will eventually follow.
If you were a horse in a race, would you bet on YOU?
I hope the answer is…well, you know what I hope it is!
Saying NO and saying YES shapes your life…which is a great lead in to this week’s message:
Hey, if my sister can pick up a ukulele and master it, I can do the same with a guitar.
There are a few songs that bring out the fight in me when I’m feeling down.
The theme from Rocky always does it for me. Bill Conti’s horns always make we want to jump up and down on the couch with my arms raised in the victory pose.
Then there’s that “I get knocked down, but I get up again” song by Chumbawamba. Its actual title is Tubthumping, but I never understood that (or most of the other words.) However, that fighter’s chorus just gets my blood thumping. (Or rather, “tubthumping?)
Our Word of the Week was WILLINGNESS and the truth is, sometimes I get knocked down and I DO NOT WANT to get up again.
I want to slink into the bedroom with a vat of pistachio gelato, curl under the covers and hibernate for at least a few days. No phone calls; no texts: I “vant to be alone” in full-on Greta Garbo mode.
That’s how I felt when I lost the final round of my Toastmaster’s Humorous Speech competition last fall. I had won the club, area, and district competitions and gave what I felt was my best-ever performance at the BIG finale.
And I didn’t even place.
I smiled through the excruciatingly long awards ceremony, wanting to appear to be the good sport that I hoped I would be.
But I was mad. And I felt robbed.
I swore I would never grace another Toastmasters’ speech competition with my presence and even considered quitting the organization altogether.
No, I am not 9 years old, but I was acting as if.
When the dust settled, I remembered why I got involved with Toastmasters in the first place. I wanted to compete and perfect my craft; I wanted feedback and a track to run on to pursue my dreams.
When you feel like quitting, friends, go back to your “Why?”
Your why is the fuel that will take your legs up to the top of the Art Museum.
Your why makes you willing to try again.
As I write this, I am preparing for a Saturday competition in which I will deliver “How To Fertilize Your Life” – the speech I wrote about a few weeks ago.
Yes, I want to win. But more than that – I want to inspire the crowd assembling at the Gulf Gate Library on a Saturday afternoon. I want to give them something to take with them that will encourage them to kiss their spouses, say thank you to a co-worker or compliment a stranger.
Oh, and yes, I want to win.
My dream is HUGE. I want to be the Toastmasters International Public Speaking Champion. Which means, if I am fortunate enough to win at Gulf Gate this Saturday, I’ve got several layers of the candy cane forest to travel through to get to my destination.
One step at a time, right?
Here’s the thing: We all get hurt. Some wounds are minor bumps and bruises, like losing a speech competition.
Some are more profound, like finding out a church was really a cult and saying, “I’ll never darken the door of another church again.”
My nevers, however, are usually wrapped up in fear. Today I find myself attending a sweet little Center of Light with Mark every Sunday morning and finding joy in the ritual of a spiritual community.
Willingness is not only a trademark of resilience but also of saying YES to life itself.
Let’s not let our failed marriages keep us from being open to love.
Let us try yet again when we fall flat on our faces…
…and not let the past dictate our futures.
We so often wall ourselves up to protect from future disappointments, but then I remember that with every disappointment has come loving comfort by friends who have wooed me back to health. And whattya know, I’m up again and back in the fight.
More on willingness here…and I’ll keep you posted on Facebook about the competition!
Hefty doses of self-acceptance to all of us (no matter HOW the judges rule.)
This recipe has been through A LOT…yet the stains and markings comfort me.
In a year that has been tumultuous (to say the least), Mom-Mom’s Raisin Bread recipe, (which I wrote down when I was a teenager) is proof of resilience, endurance, bounce-backability and most of all, the prevailing power of LOVE.
This recipe has traveled with me to at least ten different homes and each year when I get to baking I think about how Mom-Mom packed love into every loaf.
I already burned out one Kitchen Aid mixer in 2014, because this dough is NO JOKE. It’s thick and sticky and clings to EVERYTHING. (This includes my walls, my bowls and me.)
Each year the list of people I send the bread to grows. It’s my one claim to fame; a tradition that honors my Mom-Mom and lets the people I love know they RATE when the package arrives.
So this was what my first UPS trip looked like:
I needed elves to bake, wrap, address, package, tape and ship.
All I had was me, myself, and I.
But I had the recipe for resilience! L-O-V-E.
Every moment that I felt like waving the white dish towel, I conjured up thoughts of the dear people on the receiving end of these packages. When a friend saw my war zone of a kitchen covered with flour, he kindly observed, “These are loaves of love.”
Yes, they are.
I talk more about how love fuels resilience in this week’s video, but before we go there, let’s make your mouths water:
Yep, they are crunchy sweet golden brown outsides with soft, cake-y, raisin-filled insides. This treat is best served toasted and SLATHERED with butter.
Sorry to tempt you so. But you are resilient! And here’s more on that topic:
Loving and embracing the TRUTH with you this week!
And loving YOU. It means so much that you are out there.
My brain can be like Grand Central Station; a steady flow of traffic with each thought vying to gain some traction.
I’ve entertained far too many thoughts that never deserved my attention.
Entertain is a good word choice. Thoughts knock at our door and the majority should be treated like unwanted solicitors. Would you invite a stranger in for coffee and to set up housekeeping in the spare room?
Of course not.
So why did that pretty mist-colored laptop on HSN end up in my house?
Well, I kept LISTENING, and the more I entertained the thoughts surrounding the laptop and imagined using it, the less the $500 price tag troubled me.
Even though I already have a perfectly good laptop.
(Yes, I returned it.)
But the point is, what thoughts we entertain give us imaginations or VISIONS that can actually become reality.
I’ve learned to approach my thoughts like a buffet. I used to try to get my money’s worth and took advantage of “all you can eat.” Indigestion and regret usually followed.
I’ve learned to be more choosy at the buffet, only selecting what I’m in the mood for at the moment. (This can lead to a focused attack on the desserts, but that’s another story.)
When it comes to our thought lives, it’s wise to understand that not everything that flies into our brains merits consideration.
But some things DO.
I bet some of the most brilliant entrepreneurial ideas started with just a thread of a thought.
This very blog started with a “Hmmmmm” moment in a float tank.
How many relationships ended in happily ever afters because someone thought, “I’ll give online dating a try!”
My sister took a calligraphy class decades ago, and she has been gainfully employed doing what she loves ever since.
Does it make your heart leap? Does it bring hope? Then by all means HOLD THAT THOUGHT!
Nurture it and let it breathe. Water it and fertilize it and who knows – it can end up being a full-blown vision.
Were you as captivated as I was by Prince Harry’s engagement announcement this week? I didn’t know much about Meghan Markle until I saw this video, which is an example of holding a THOUGHT and taking action based on that thought to effect change:
I think Diana is smiling, don’t you?
So let’s not get caught up in VISIONS of grandeur that overwhelm us. Let’s start with a thought, and then play with it a little.
I did that this week and it turned me a bit upside down!
Many years ago, a friend suggested to me that complaining and feeling sorry for myself was like “crying on the devil’s shoulder.”
This analogy struck me with a visual that always caused me think twice about letting my feelings run a muck.
When I reflect on my teens, 20’s and much of my 30’s, I wasted a bunch of time crying over things that wouldn’t change by crying.
The tears didn’t serve me, they only fueled the pain.
To be clear, I LOVE a good, cleansing cry. The kind that makes you want to call everyone you know and tell them you love them; the kind that relieves stress like air leaving a balloon – and a good snotty howl from a heartrending movie or book (yes, I’m talking about YOU, The Notebook and The Art of Racing in the Rain.)
Those pity party, “Oh woe is me!” cries? As Janet Jackson would sing, “What have you done for me lately?”
When I peel back the curtain on those quicksand feels, I see they predominantly began with negative thoughts that, left unchecked, grew exponentially. I played with those thoughts in the shallow waters and next thing I knew, the undertow whipped in and I was drowning in the deep end.
Which brings me to RESILIENCE, our most recent word of the week. Resilience, to me, is like a tank that fuels our get up and go. Every complaint, every negative thought entertained, every pity party or surrender to fear depletes the tank.
When your get up and go has got up and went, check your resilience tank.
For me, encouraging someone fills my resilience tank. Checking off an item from my to-do list; surprising a friend with a gift and yes, self-maintenance in the form of a mani, pedi, massage or blow dry fits the bill.
A walk on the beach at sunset.
Or simply deep breathing.
What fills YOUR resilience tank?
As we end this week, I hope the only parties you had were on Memorial Day (and certainly not pity parties!)
Isn’t it true that compassion is best appreciated when you need it most?
Like when you screw up.
I’m a cross your t’s and dot your i’s kind of person, so discovering that my best laid travel plans were utterly flawed this week left me flummoxed.
I was already operating on a deficit of sleep. A late dinner with my dear friends Roseann and Mike to celebrate our last night in Montreal resulted in just four hours of sleep before I had to hop in a taxi for the airport.
Just one agent manned the desk at 5:30 AM, and I observed him patiently handling the travelers in line ahead of me.
When finally my turn, I observed his name tag and said, “Good morning, Joe! I hope you can help. I need my connecting flight to now be my final destination.”
In my mind, it was a simple matter. Already booked from Montreal to Charlotte; no new flight was required. I just needed my bag to deplane, too (and not travel to Sarasota.)
Joe looked at me and said, “You realize we need to completely re-ticket your flight?”
No, I didn’t realize.
And it would be costly.
I looked up at tall, handsome, kind, smiling Joe with my bleary red eyes from a scant four hours of sleep and said, “Oh my.”
And my intended destination wasn’t even Charlotte; it was Chicago.
You’re thinking exactly as I was; perhaps we could get me on a flight from Montreal to Chicago! Problem solved!
Absolutely…for $700+ dollars.
Thoughts of renting a car and driving the 13 hours to Chicago flashed through my mind. I imagined getting to Chicago on my originally booked flight – without my bag and the need to shop for the essentials to help me survive the next two days.
My crestfallen face and deer in the headlights paralysis tripped a compassion switch in Joe.
Click, click, click click click. More clicking. A brief consultation with his manager.
What was Joe up to?
A boarding pass, non-stop to Chicago from Montreal spit through the printer.
No, it wasn’t free, but it surely wasn’t $700 dollars. It was less than $200 – and that was a pill I could swallow without too much bitterness.
In an era when poor airline service goes viral and it seems that most carriers need a crash course in customer service, my encounter with Joe affirmed the goodness of people who stick their necks out to help a stranger in need. Joe would have been perfectly within the confines of the employee manual to require strict adherence to a complete re-booking.
Ah, but Instead, he followed his heart and had compassion on me.
Here’s to you, Joe! You not only gave me a great story about compassion, but your actions put a smile on my face as I wait these five hours for my new flight to Chicago.
Let’s move onward to new adventures and the new Word of the Week (but first some closing thoughts on Compassion)!:
It’s not over. Nope.
Yes, you may fall, but you can keep getting back up.
They call it failing forward; every bump in the road teaches you something to prepare you for the next step.
You are STRONG. You are RESILIENT.
Just look at how many times in your life you seemed down for the count, only to bounce back and rise higher as a result.
So with theaters packed with people seeing Finding Dory, I can’t wait to get my ticket. Dory exemplifies resilience, our recent Word of the Week, with her “Just keep swimming…” philosophy.
I reflected a bit this week on when my tank of resilience wanes and there’s a clear connection.
One of my favorite scriptures (Ps. 77:3) provides the insight: Complaining overwhelms your spirit.
Your body and soul may give up, but your spirit has indomitable resources. The catch is NOT to overwhelm your spirit with complaining and to let that unsinkable cork inside of you WIN.
There’s a catch that sometimes snags me, though. In the effort NOT to overwhelm my spirit, I sometimes choose to not “talk it out” (whatever IT is) with someone else, somewhat afraid that negative energy will be expended and sprinkle its evil pixie dust, making matters worse.
Then I realized that talking something through with the end goal to glean insights from an impartial party that might actually bring relief, resolve or at least COMFORT is a good thing.
If my intent is simply to whine, murmur, have a pity party and otherwise indulge the negative vibes that seek to swallow me into a quagmire of muck, then no – it’s best for me to shut my trap.
Perhaps Dory’s short term memory loss aids her ability to just KEEP SWIMMING.
She can’t obsess over that thoughtless comment or perceived slight. May all of our offenses have short-term memory!
Final thoughts on resilience and the new WOW coming right up…
There are SO many ways to look at this new WOW.
Aside from being WILLING personally, how do you view the world?
Here’s a nugget to chew on this week (I know I’m going to): What if you believed that at ever turn, things were actually working to benefit you; that God (the Universe; however you choose to define the Source) is WILLING to more than grant your desires.
One of the companies for which I work has a credo to “delight our customers and exceed their expectations.”
If a business can make that claim and fulfill it, how much more can the Author of life and the very Essence that is love make good on that brand promise?
Instead of expecting a fight (based on past experiences in the school of hard knocks) what if you made the shift to seeing every person and every circumstance as a willing participant in your happily-ever-after?
I’m willing to meditate on that this week. How about you?