The past couple of weeks have been intense. They’ve been crammed with work, play, writing, reading, and people. So many people. After thirty-something years around them, I’ve come to realize and acknowledge that the more I’m around people, the more aware of myself I become. It’s draining to be hyperaware of your actions, word choice, tone of voice, and movement. What’s more draining about it is that I realize most people aren’t even paying attention, and yet there’s this creative spark inside of me that whispers, “But, what if they are?”
And so I overanalyze, overthink, and afterwards, rehash. Exhausting. The more tired I become, the more this exacerbates itself.
So this weekend was the epitome just waiting for a bang. I’ve been working with multiple people doing the #PitProm pitch contest (more on that in a coming soon blog!) and on Sunday morning, found myself among the team of people practicing the music for the church service.
I love to sing.
I love it, but I’m more of a back-up or ensemble singer. I’m no Taylor Swift. #ThingsIKnow #BTeam. There are times when people don’t make it to the practice at the last minute, and usually it is somewhat of an annoyance but no big deal. But yesterday, I wasn’t feeling it. I *was* feeling overwhelmed, tired, cranky, and in need of coffee. My voice kept cracking, I was kind of bloated because I had eaten pizza and a doughnut on Saturday, and I was receiving emails and notifications for work that I needed to keep up with. The nagging thought that I am tired but I show up so why don’t others too??? kept going through my head. I was out of my element. Out of my power. Can you see it? Charlie asked me why I wasn’t singing, and it was quite obvious I wasn’t singing because I was the only one other than him that should have been singing. I snapped at him, “Because I don’t know the song.” Eh. Wasn’t a great response, but what got to me was my tone of voice. I heard myself being so mean. I heard three-years-ago me answering.
You know what’s hard about working on yourself? Sometimes you miss the mark. Sometimes you find yourself not responding how you want, but you can’t seem to navigate the new waters in the new self, and judgmental snarkiness rolls out instead.
If you were ever wondering about this chica over here and what the struggle really is, well, I saw it this weekend.
I left the worship center, tears in my eyes, a mixed bag of emotions. My loudest thought was, “What if everyone expects me to react like this?”
I used to react like that. I know it. But I’ve made the effort over the years to be better. To react better. To be the kinder, more gracious person in conflict. Doesn’t always happen. But maybe my biggest fear isn’t actually responding badly, it’s what the other people think. Do they find it shocking, and therefore they are concerned about me? Or do they shrug and sigh, “Typical.”
You know what? I can’t determine what anybody else but myself thinks.
So when I drove to my quiet house, the hush wrapping around me like a fresh breeze, I sifted through the thoughts. I sorted the “why” and the “how come” and the “you stinks” and the “always” and the “never” and the “they should” or “I can’t” and settled on the one thought that got me straightened out again: I control how I react.
At the time, I was having trouble controlling the crying. Because as a female, that’s just part of the project. Insert tears here. They’re in there, they come out, you deal.
I needed to get back into my element, where the REAL ME resided. The real me, my heart and soul, knows I’m not based on ill-will and frustration. I needed to get her back at the helm. The tears, the “what if” thoughts were hijacking my reality. The thoughts you think? They’re not all true. Don’t listen to the false ones. Find the truth.
The truth was and still is this: I’m an amazing critic. I am so good at judging. I rock at finding the things that need to be improved and then implementing a plan to fix them. I am SO GOOD at that. I can order around people like tomorrow depends on it. It’s a great skill to have when directing plays, leading public relations campaigns, teaching classes…but it can be quite difficult to live with inside my head when I dwell on planet earth.
Since I’m one of the best versions of me when I’m critiquing and making lists….I sat down at my computer and graded an essay. Yes. I sipped on my coffee, gave notes on essay writing and compositional form, and when I stood up fifteen minutes later, I was a new person. No…I was my real person again. I got back in my element.
Once I refreshed my makeup and drove back, I apologized and explained what was going on. And you know what? We had some laughs. People chuckled. We related over past challenges and similar stories. The words were wrong on the screen. “You are the hope to the hopless and broken.”
You know what? At times we are hopless and borken.
But then there’s time to get back up again.
Three steps to getting your life back when your emotions or the situation hijacks you and your "not good enough" triggers you:
1) Take a break.
Relaxation, resting, and taking a break are the fastest way to resetting your entire body and mind. We stress ourselves out too often. This is the first and most important step to getting back on track. Think of a train derailing. What if the train just kept chugging forward, off its rails? What a mess! No! The train needs to stop so it can be hoisted back on the rails. Turn off the engine. Step away from the tracks. Take a break and breathe in deeply for at least several minutes. Be alone, be quiet, be still.
And while you’re quiet, hush any lying thoughts or voices. They don’t belong. Criticism doesn’t help, so take a rest from it as well.
2) Get back in your element.
Sometimes we call this “power.” Be in your power. Do the thing you love most. Do the thing that brings you joy, bliss, most importantly peace, and reminds you of why you are here on earth because of how much you enjoy it. Do the thing you’re good at. Do something you’re good at.
How do you know what your element is? What’s your power? Well, you need to know yourself first. If you don’t know what this is, then take some time to get to know yourself right now. Shut off your phone, go outside, and walk for an hour to begin figuring it out.
3) Trust your tribe.
You cannot manage other peoples’ perceptions. That’s not your business. Manage your own perception, your own mindset, your own abilities, and do your best. Apologize when necessary. Own who you are. Own that you’re learning. Own the opportunities and challenges. The people who love you will stick around regardless of the outcome.
We all have our lessons to be learned. The important thing is to learn them. We have the tools, so make time to use them. I know that I'm not three-years-ago me. She wouldn't have taken these steps or even known there was a problem snapping at someone how I did. Now the lesson is the thing. Because life is the thing. The getting back up is the thing.
If you feel this story and need your own set of tools to build your best life, get crackin’ reading KINGDOM COME, a reminder of the hero you are and the empire you were built to create.
Can you relate? I’d love to hear back from you about a time when you found yourself emotionally out of your element and what you did to get back on track. Feel free to hit reply with your story and tips!
Have you felt overwhelmed, unworthy, or ready to give up? How many times have you waited, unsure, hesitant, when faced with a decision? Is that ache in your chest old yet?
I’ve had that deep ache in my chest these past few months (years?), and I’ve done a lot of seeking. A LOT. I got tired of the ache. Instead, I tooled up. I learned that I can sit there sad, frustrated, burned out and cynical…or I can take action.
Did you know that you have incredibly powerful tools right within your grasp, and you are on the verge of walking through this mysterious, fabulous door to unknown new worlds? Oh, yes you are.
I hope that doesn’t sound too scary….actually, maybe I do. Because fear masquerades around you, calling you out. Are you ready to stop being afraid? Do you even realize when you’re afraid?
I used to think I was pretty brave until I looked at how I was going about my business, hiding out in the shadows, taking the safe path, and venturing only when I was sure the next step would find firm ground. Even putting this book out is the entry into a nail-biting, murky realm for me, but I firmly believe these tools are essential for us and we don’t even realize we have them. But they’re right there.
Opt in for an adventure to discover purpose, tenacity, and to build your empire. Even the most ordinary of humans can do impossible things. The elements of storytelling are tools to help us understand our purpose and to build a life greater.
My latest collection of seeking and soldering has led to a 150-page guide and workbook to help you change your mindset to change your life. Within these pages of KINGDOM COME we discover the three protocols every hero satisfies in order to fulfill the mission. You’re the hero in your own story. Transforming into the hero may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done.
Here we discover the ultimate objective in understanding and experiencing the combined unity of these three tools in your hero story. Get ready to travel the vast horizon of the hero plot line and forge new paths toward your legacy.
Available TODAY from Amazon, in paperback and ebook, you too can join the adventure. Come on, friend. I’ve taken some of these steps myself, and it’s beautiful over here. Let’s get crackin, together. Click here to purchase your copy right now. Only $1.99 in ebook and $6.99 in paperback, you’ll have my crazy little stories about life and how all these problems around you serve as the real excitement you’ve been seeking. The chapters are short and the questions might make you squirm, but I’d rather be out there on that sunny mountain than stuck, waiting for air. Here’s your fresh breath. From my heart to yours.
Did you know that sprints are the number one exercise to fight belly fat? About two years ago I began sprinting. I began with a ten-minute timer and have worked my way up to twenty minutes. I set the timer for twenty minutes and run as fast as I can from thirty seconds down to zero, walk for thirty seconds, and hit it again on the following thirty. Most of the days I've shot across the pavement with my jogging stroller, baby in tow, throughout sun, slushy puddles, and wintry clouds overhead. Last weekend was a first -- I went out on my own, the four-year old preferring to stay inside and watch cartoons. So my soles rammed against the concrete, amid potholes, leaves, and burning sun. While salty drips dribbled down my temples, my brain got to whirling.
Why do we commit? Why do we give up? How do we keep going? What do we do when we want to cave, want to decline, want to bow out? Do you call in sick, or do you buck up and slam the toes against the cold ground?
Here are my thoughts from my run last weekend. Hope the encourage you and inspire you to persevere, even when the winter clouds tumble down.
5 Tips for Committing (Life Lessons I Learned From Sprinting)
ONE: Do it for you and no one else. Make it your business to fully follow through your commitments.
You agreed to do the thing. Own your choice and dive into enjoying the work, offering your best capabilities, and hanging in until you no longer need to do the work. You control your action and attitude. Build your own excitement and fulfillment in the work. If you look at a job or task and tell yourself you are doing it because someone asked it of you, or you are “out” of something if you don’t do it, then that takes you out of your business and out of your power. Take hold of your capability to do the work you chose to do. You could be doing something else; you will eventually be doing something else. While you do this job, do it because you know you can do it and better the lives of others in the process. Look at your task as an act of service, for others and yourself.
Find something to be grateful for in the work and look for the opportunity to learn and engage your inner warrior. Consider this a time to build your tool box.
TWO: Employ grace for your season.
When I first began running, I pushed my forty-pound daughter in the jogging stroller. I’ve grown accustomed to shoving the burden ahead of me, with a slot for my water bottle and my phone to blast the tunes. But you know what? You can run so much faster without a stroller.
What baggage do you have? What season are you in? Have grace with yourself for whatever season you’re in. Do your best right now and keep working toward the coming season while celebrating the current one. Avoid comparing your story to someone else’s. One day you may be sprinting clear and free, no stroller, no handbag, no accompanying soundtrack. That may be relieving or intimidating. Regardless, employ grace for your season.
Whatever season you are in, whatever baggage you are dealing with in your commitments, allow some wiggle room. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt. As Jess Glynne sings, don’t be so hard on yourself. Run your race. Dig in to your sprints. And allow time and space for the extra weight you’re pushing along the track. If you insist on running full force and physically cannot do it, then don’t commit to doing more than you can handle. Be honest to the people with whom you’ve committed and allow space for the stroller. In the long run (especially the long run!) everyone will thank you for the honesty and grace you employed. That’s wisdom.
THREE: Set time limits.
Committing to something for an endless amount of time overwhelms most people. Deep in the trenches of life and stress and sinks full of dishes, even the heartiest soul considers giving up. So prepare to invest in your activities by committing for a certain time. Maybe it is a twenty-minute workout, three times a week, for six months. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to do something for thirty days. Can you do that? Maybe it’s to say, “I will do this every Monday for one year.” Can you do that? Specify your time limits and purpose your expectations.
Now, let’s level up. Extend the time. Extend what you think you can do. Add five seconds. Add a day. Add a couple inches. Many runners slow down at the end of the race. Expect the race to last longer. Place your mental finish line farther than you think you can go.
In my research into training and military exercises, I came across some videos instructing how to punch. Set your feet, own your placement on the mat, and punch through the punching bag. The strongest punch doesn’t aim for the front of the bag; the strongest punch aims for the back of the bag. Use this same strategy for your commitments. If you know that you can commit for six months, allow for seven, mentally. If you need to run a race, train by running farther. Don’t just end where everybody else is ending. Punch through to the other side of the punching bag.
Set yourself up to win by setting your expectations and accountability limits. Own your limits, and then blast through them. Intentionally focus on specific boundaries, and then go one step further. The only limits you have are the one you set for yourself. Detail them and raise the bar for yourself, for you are stronger than you know.
FOUR: The smoother the ground underfoot, the easier it is to stay upright.
How much do you believe in yourself? Do you have a solid foundation, confidence in your competence to do the task?
My neighborhood is apparently packed with crumbly streets, leaves, potholes, and rocks. And I’ve trekked over them for years. One street recently got the nice treatment and it’s smooth, black, and freshly tarred. The difference between running over the potholes and on this one fresh slab of smoothness suddenly illuminated a truth: you can run faster when the road’s clear, when there are no rocks in your shoes or on your path. While you can’t take the obstacles out of your path, you can believe in your abilities, your path, and your journey. What kind of foundation are you treading upon? Doubt in yourself serves as a pothole. Doubt in your capabilities, letting the fear creep in? That’s like running with a spike in your shoe.
Avoid comparing your road to anyone else’s. Your journey has a twisty, windy path with obstacles built just for you. The obstacles will help you get faster and stronger – are you moving ahead, one step at a time?
Get the rocks out of the way. Take the grime out of your shoes. The road will have obstacles and twists and hills, but you’ve got to trust your feet and find your own smooth track.
FIVE: Decide what story to tell.
What’s the story? When the plot has a great story, readers stick around to the end. This step consists of basically finding your “why” but maybe you haven’t personalized it enough or been intentional with it. What’s depending on this seven years from now? Twenty-seven years from now? What brought you here from seven years ago?
How do you know when to end a commitment you’ve made? Think about the ending of the story. Many times I’ve thought about giving up on my sprints before the time expires, shutting down my writing career, or just not going to the gym because I’m not “feeling it” that day. But then I think about the story I want to tell about it. How do I want the story to end, and what will make a satisfying ending for this task I’ve committed to doing? When I’m happy with the ending, that’s when the task has been completed. Not all stories have happy endings, but I’m determined to serve the character I will be in seven years. She needs me to follow through right now. I’m not sure why; but in seven years I’ll get back to you and we can chat about it. What story will you be telling in seven years about your commitments? And how will that story end?
Take a step back and consider the lives at stake, the risks involved, and what kind of story you want to tell about following through with the commitments. Maybe you just need a change in perspective to see how important this ability to persevere and commit will forge you into the hero you are. Go, hero, go!
Sprinting along the streets in my neighborhood, wobbling along with my jogging stroller, gasping in the sizzling Texas air, has offered me a wealth of knowledge. I’ve released some stress, some sweat, and gained some inspiration. Now it’s time to level up.
Run as fast as your dirty silver sneakers will carry you.
The timer’s running.
How will you commit to your promises? What story will you design? Are you running for yourself or in the name of something greater? Are you excited about the pavement? The gritty pathway awaits. I’m right here too.
I have some fabulous conversations with my college besties. Here's a transcript from a conversation we had the other day about accomplishing goals and realizing dreams. Hope you'll read through and be encouraged.
Part of me sometimes wishes I hadn’t started the journey of my book writing, because I feel like I can’t get anywhere near the level that I want to be, which is just having the book in my hand. It’s so far away. Most people around here don’t even understand that they’re published. They ask me, “When are you going to get those books published?” And I say, “They are published.” But then they say, “No, but when are they going to be published?” They don’t know what an ebook is, or they don’t read ebooks.
If I had not done all this book stuff, if I had not gone forward in pursuing what I really wanted to do—and I honestly cannot say “I felt God calling me to do it,”—it was just something I really wanted to do. It was this NEED, like this need to eat, I had this need to write this story out.
Truthfully? I wouldn’t ever go back, honestly. The biggest frustration is that I can’t get them in print, and that’s my biggest frustration, internally. But getting to where I am now, that has changed me completely from inside to outside. I’ve had to face some of my darkest demons, and I’m not even on the other side of it, but I’m in there. It’s given me such empathy and sympathy for the people who are in the trenches of doing hard things, and even just struggling to be alive. It’s opened my eyes to crushing heartbreak. And I had known it before in high school, when my cousin was murdered, I mean it’s not like I’ve been completely sheltered all my life. I’ve seen really hard things. So even going through this has been this whole new eye-opening experience.
Explore the things you are most afraid of. Explore what you really want to do.
What if God did not have one thing in particular for you to do? What if he had a whole bunch of things open for you? And what if he says, “Pick any of them.” And many of them may not lead to success, but they’ll make you better in your pursuit of them. Usually you will find those jobs in the things you are afraid of. So where you hesitate, I say pursue it.
What other people think about you should not influence the things you do. If you have a passion and a desire, then you follow that. Because God has given you that. He allows you to have fears so you will come alive once you embrace them. Now I’m not saying go crazy and do anything illegal or dangerous, but even if it is dangerous, it could be something life-changing. Like sky diving. Wear that parachute though.
What I have found in exploring all-of-the-things with my books, the fears that I used to have, the fear of failure, of being laughed at, of being a joke, it never looks like you think it’s gonna look in the middle of it and on the other side of it. And you truly can do more than you imagine. And it will always look different than you think.
Branch out. Try something new, something hard. It’s super uncomfortable, and totally worth it.
She Made The Wrong Decision
I’ve been getting some feedback from readers, which I LOVE, by the way, and wanted to chat about some of the themes/topics/plot points in my Young Adult trilogy, Insurrection. I’ve seen several comments about how in the third book, Indelible, the fact that (spoiler alert!!) Saylor listens to Breame and works with him is upsetting. Readers want Saylor to make better decisions than that! Readers want heroes/protagonists to make the better decision. Readers want to see protagonists DO BETTER THAN. Am I right?
Have you ever danced with the devil in the pale moonlight?
But seriously, have you ever, especially in your teens, made the decision to go against what you knew deep down to be right? Were you ever in a hard position where you didn’t know what was right or wrong, so you tried your best, but found yourself in what seemed like the wrong place at the wrong time? Have you ever found yourself listening to the lies of fear, hate, or doubt wandering about your brain?
Well, friends, this is what I want my readers to really ponder. I’m excited you questioned it, so that we could have this discussion.
Sometimes we listen to our demons. Sometimes we listen to our doubts instead of our faith.
Sometimes we listen to the crowd, or the false news, or the scary whispers, instead of finding the truth from the Commander. Sometimes we make the decision to go into the tunnel instead of letting the bombs blow up the mountaintop.
I wanted Saylor to face some hard decisions and waver. I wanted her to have to rally. I wanted to let her take a wild risk that turned out a bit sour. Why? Because I wanted to give her a chance to redeem herself. I wanted to give her Commander a chance to let her know the truth about who she was, who HE was, and all she could do. Saylor needed to see the darkness so she could choose the light. Too many spoilers there? I don’t know.
Additionally, I wanted to let readers get to know Wellington Breame and judge him for themselves. Was he a big, fat liar? Or was he a pitiable genius? We can’t often deal with our enemies until we’ve met them and named them.
Saylor needed some impossible moments to realize her full power. Could she have done that if she'd "made the right decision"? Sometimes there is no "right" decision. The right decision finds us. The right decision helps you realize your full potential, because it's exactly the decision you needed to make to be better.
Until next time, readers! Leave a comment, review, or a question on my Subscribe page! I’d love to hear from you! Choose the light. <3 Happy reading!
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