Journeying to 101. A Personal Manifesto.

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Two weeks ago,  I had the opportunity to lead a discussion with some colleagues on the work of Simon SinekIn short, Simon Sinek argues that everyone has a why that motivates them daily. He defines our why as the purpose, cause, or belief that inspires us to do what we do. Our why reflects our core values and personal convictions. If you have a few minutes, check out his TED talk, I think it’s pretty good.

It turns out that identifying my why made it onto my 101 list! Seems like that’s all I write about on here these days (I have to save my other writing for that big project I’m working on). On the list this item looks like, “Identify my core/guiding values and display these in my home,” but that’s simply an extended phrase for identifying my why.

After thinking a bit about my values, I came up with the above manifesto. Because I’m driven to challenge myself, I tried to flex my teeny-tiny creativity muscles to come up with something appealing to the eye. I gotta have something nice to display in my space. So, what guides me?

  1. My Faith. At the end of the day, that’s really all I’ve got. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no stranger to throwing a temper tantrum with God. We roll like that, but He’s been so faithful to me. Some folks casually say the God has always been by their side, but I can truly say that God has seen me through some things. Many times, I’ve fought Him the entire way, but I’m clear that my faith wins. So before anything else, my faith is at the top of my list of my guiding values.
  2. An Acceptance that I Am Enough. Hands down, believing this has been the greatest struggle of my life. But, with lots of therapy and hard work (and I’m talking real hard work), I am now at a place where I know that who I am is enough! I am lovable and I am just who God wants me to be, flaws and all! Recognizing this truth has been the key to me giving myself permission to explore those things that bring me joy, deciding what’s most important in this moment, letting go of things that have held me back, and being open to making crazy changes in my life!
  3. My Dreams. At 17 years old, I decided I would be a biology major. I liked science, I liked lab experiments, I liked dissecting things, and I thought I wanted to be a doctor. Within a few years, I no longer believed I was smart enough to go to medical school, and had to figure out something else to do. So, public health was it, and public health is good, I can talk about infectious disease epidemiology for days, but that’s not where my heart lies. There’s a side to me that I’ve never honored –  a creative side, an inspirational side, a deeply loving and compassionate side. I’ve always needed to do the “right” thing that aligned with the image I thought I needed to portray for others, but now my 36-year-old self knows that I need to follow my dreams! I deserve to follow my heart and chase my dreams! I may crash and burn, but I also may find great success. And, I think I’d rather live this life knowing that I sought after my dream and gave it a fair try. If I fail…well, at least I gave my dream a chance to live! That’s what matters most, right!

In writing this manifesto, I feel a bit selfish because it really revolves around honoring me, it doesn’t make much mention of family or friends, but that’s what I need in this moment. I’ve spent lots of time doing things that have pleased others…now it’s time for me to follow my heart and LIVE!

Until next time…consider your own guiding values!

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Journeying to 101. Year of Yes!

Happy Sunday!

Since beginning my 101 list, it’s been my intention to post on here at least weekly, but last weekend, I seemed to run out of things to say. I’m not quite sure why, so I simply blamed it on having a writer’s block. But, I’m back this week…

I’m continuing on my journey to 101. I managed to check one big item off of my list last week…more about that later this week after I’m able to edit some of the pics. In the meantime, I’ve finished another book, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be You Own Person by Shonda Rhimes. I started this book quite some time ago…it was a Christmas gift from 2015…and decided to make it my vacation read. I think it was a pretty good choice.

In short, the author chronicles a year of her life where she goes from never saying yes to anything to forcing herself to say yes to everything – herself, her children, her family, her health, and her happiness! The author did a great job of pulling me into her story of facing her personal fears, I could relate to the things she was feeling and experiencing with an uncomfortable amount of ease. I highlighted and underlined several things in the book, but two points sunk deep into my soul – “That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself,” and “I’m great at taking care of other people. So why am I so bad at taking care of myself? Why am I so unwilling to show myself the same kindness and consideration, to cut myself the same slack, to give myself the same protection and care that I would give anyone else?”

That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.

Shonda was referencing her longing to follow in the footsteps of Toni Morrison in this particular section of the book. She wanted to be a Nobel-prize winning author, but she mentions that while she was dreaming, she was also living in her sister’s basement not reaching her potential. Her dream kept her from being who she was created to be. That hit too close to home for me. I want to write a book and I want to move this blog to its own site…I dream of doing these things…I’m talking I look at others and say, “Wow, one day I hope to be like them…I hope to write like them and I hope to have great impact like them.” I say these things in my mind over and over again, but truthfully, God has not created me to be like others, He’s created me to be me and only me. Sometimes I try too hard to make my circle fit into a square, but I’m not a square…I’m a circle! God created me to do my thing and have my impact, but only in a way that I can do it, I’m uniquely me! So instead of dragging my feet and doubting myself, I think it would serve me well to get a little bit busier becoming myself! That’s not to say I’ve not done anything…I’ve been doing some work, but I’ve been moving slow, so maybe it’s time for me to pick up the pace and march a little faster to the beat of my drum!

I’m great at taking care of other people. So why am I so bad at taking care of myself? Why am I so unwilling to show myself the same kindness and consideration, to cut myself the same slack, to give myself the same protection and care that I would give anyone else?

Now this is the big one for me…if one could earn a PhD in everything that statement says, I’d have it! For more years than I’d like to admit, I have struggled greatly with showing love, care, and compassion to myself…I am hard on me! But this book challenged me to say yes to loving me…ALL of me – my curves and edges, my greatest hopes and my biggest fears, my beautiful smile and my kinky, maybe curly (and quickly graying) hair, my low tolerance of people at times (the introvert in me) and my love of making others laugh! Loving all of me is hard stuff! My natural tendency is to pick myself apart and declare that I am a broken mess that’s beyond repair! But really I’m not…I was made in God’s image with the kind of love that only He can give, so I’m following Shonda’s lead and deciding to say YES to loving me a bit more, caring for me a bit more, showing compassion and kindness to me a bit more, and giving myself the same protection and care that I would give anyone else. I deserve it!

The journey continues…I’m excited about what is still to come!

Journeying to 101. The Gifts of Imperfection

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“My story matters because I matter.” – Brene Brown

For the past few weeks, I’ve been focusing on reading more…it’s one of my 101 challenges. My goal is to read 10 books that I currently own but have not completed. Some days, I manage to get in a few chapters, while others just a few pages, but I’ve been intentional in reading and reflecting for a few moments daily. It’s been good, and I’ve now managed to read two of the ten books! A few weeks ago I finished In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson.

Today, I finished reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. I’ve had the book for a long time, but I’ve never managed to get through it. Perhaps this is because the book requires one to do the tough work of self-reflection (the book’s subtitle hints at this very thing – Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and EMBRACE Who You Are) or maybe I’ve just been too busy doing a bunch of nothing to stop and read a book! I’m certain it was the self-reflection piece that kept me from reading the book. For me, genuine self-reflection is hard stuff (I bet the same is true for you), but it’s so freeing for the one who is daring enough to do it! I’ve learned that many of us are content not digging deep into the depths of our souls to deal with our life issues, but I’m convinced that honesty is still the best policy. Unfortunately, over time, we’ve mastered the art of “wearing the mask that grins and lies”…oh yes, “with torn and bleeding hearts” we know how to smile, but somehow we’ve managed to forget how to truly live. Living authentic and wholehearted lives is a daily struggle, well for me at least…but this book challenges its readers to face this struggle with an open heart and a sense of expectation. I would encourage anyone to give this book a try.

Now…I must offer this disclaimer, I had a major meltdown in the middle of the book. I’m talking an “I’m done with God” meltdown! This book made me want to cuss (ok, I did cuss…I’m just being honest)! In dealing with me…I was left feeling quite vulnerable. For a moment, I felt like my life was shattered in a million pieces with no hopes of repair! I felt like I had failed myself, I felt like I had failed God, I felt like God had failed me, and I just felt downright sorry for myself! I’m currently recovering from the meltdown…I’m still feeling the effects of it…but I pushed myself to keep reading the book and I’m still doing the hard work that goes along with this journey! And, I think I’m glad I did.  The author ends the book with a statement that sums up my present journey pretty well…one minute you’ll pray that the transformation stops, and the next minute you’ll pray that it never ends. You’ll also wonder how you can feel so brave and so afraid at the same time. At least that’s how I feel most of the time…brave, afraid, and very, very alive.

Will you embrace your gifts of imperfection?

Journeying to 101. Swim Lessons.

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I’m so excited to be on the journey to 101! Today, I’m checking swim lessons off my list…yay! I took swimming lessons as a child, but that was a really long time ago, and I’m pretty sure I never managed to perfect the art. So…I decided that now was a great time to jump back in the pool and take lessons again. Today was the first class and I think I did rather well (if I must say so myself). We started nice and easy with bobs and progressed to swimming laps using kickboards. The competitor in me was happy to take on every challenge the instructor put before me. While I could feel the fatigue in my legs when I got out of the pool, I had a great time! I can’t wait to get back in the water and practice my kicks this week…

Just a Little Whitewater…

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Well, I managed to check another item off of my 101 list over the weekend!  While in Columbus, GA with B and his family for their family reunion, we opted to go on a whitewater rafting excursion.  Initially, I was a bit nervous about going (as I’ve gotten older, I’ve become a real coward…having absolutely no control over my fate is increasingly hard for me to handle), but what an awesome time I had!  After my nerves settled, our time on the water was the most relaxing two hours of the entire trip.  We were on Class I-III rapids, so they werent’t too bad.  In fact, by the end I was thinking, “That rapid wasn’t even that challenging!”  We did 360 degree turns through the rapids, we jumped in the middle of the raft and let the water carry us through the waves, we surfed the rapids, and we jumped out in the water and floated down a lazy river for a bit too!  No one fell out of the boat, but B’s cousins weren’t so fortunate.  Their raft capsized as they were surfing the rapids…from what they say, flipping over was kinda fun!  Had that been our boat, I’m pretty sure I would’ve been that one who was kicking and screaming!  I’m thankful to have been spared that bit of embarrassment and shame.  But given how fun the experience was, I’m hoping I’ll be more open to trying more new and adventurous things in the future, even if they may be a bit nervous.

Now about Columbus, GA…what a neat small city!  B and I have become quite the tourists whenever we travel together.  We tend to be the ones in the group who go out and explore the stores, restaurants, and museums in the area.  On our first night in town, we tried out a donut burger at Nonic Bar and Kitchen.  While a trendy dish, it wasn’t my thing…I really wanted a polish dog, but we decided to go with the recommendation of our waitress.  It was certainly an interesting mix of sweet and savory, but it was way too sweet for me.  I don’t think I’ll order that again. We also ate at a neat little “inexpensive” spot called Plucked Up Chicken.  We split an order of chicken and biscuits and a biscuit sandwich with ham, goat cheese, and jalapeño jelly.  The food was AMAZING!!!!!  The chicken and biscuits was definitely a play on chicken and waffles…they were sprinkled with chopped bacon and drizzled with syrup.  I’d definitely go there again.

We also spent one of our afternoons at the National Infantry Museum at Fort Benning.  The mission of the museum is to honor the legacy and valor of the U.S. Army Infantryman. Hands down, this has to be the best museum I’ve ever been to.  We didn’t get to spend nearly enough time there.  We got to walk through the last 100 years of 10 major battles fought by the infantrymen of the US Army, view lots of weapons, tankers, helicopters, and uniforms, watch amazing videos about the army, Ft. Benning, and the infantry experience, and read the stories of some amazing soldiers.  The figures in the museum were incredible.  According to our curator, several soldiers from Ft. Benning were sent to New York where their bodies were cast and used to create the replicas observed in each of the exhibits. The replicas were so lifelike…it was insane!  While I’m not a history buff at all, I left the museum wanting to learn more about world history.  I was quite sad that we could not see the entire exhibit, and will definitely go back if my travels should ever take me to Columbus again.

So, I’m very thankful for another opportunity to live life to the fullest!