Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Through Someone Else's Eyes

The strap on my normally comfortable shoes had been pressing on my ankle for hours so the last thing I wanted to do was stand in a line trying to check into a hotel. It was after midnight and I’d had a long day. It began early and was spent doing a walking tour of a brand new cruise ship. Following the walking tour, I had a two-hour plane delay that caused me to miss my connecting flight, and thus, I was stuck at a hotel when all I wanted was my bed. I was definitely tired. Right in the middle of that line, with my swollen ankles, I learned a valuable lesson about perspective.

There were about ten people in front me. In order to amuse myself, I was sending text messages to my friends, telling them about my adventures. Just then, the entire lobby of the hotel noticed a woman, with a stroller, on the phone. She said, “There’s no formula at the hotel." That’s when it hit me that the stroller was not simply another piece of luggage—that stroller had a baby in it.

There are many times when we are inconvenienced. I have done quite a bit of traveling so being stuck in a city overnight isn’t new to me. What I hadn’t considered, though, is that as real as my fatigue was and as swollen as my ankles were, someone with my same travel issues had much more serious consequences. I was merely inconvenienced. She had a real concern. I wanted my bed. She wanted to feed her baby.

Seeing her did not make me less tired or make my ankles miraculously feel better, but it did make me a little more grateful. Instead of focusing on my fatigue and my sore ankles, I chose to focus on what really mattered. I was safe, unharmed, and I had a warm place to lay my head.

The next time life doesn’t go exactly as you planned, take a look around. Someone else is going through something more. I don’t mean to minimize discomfort or disappointment, but no one should give discomfort and disappointment more power than they deserve. Acknowledge those feelings and move on. When life doesn’t go as planned we can always find something to be grateful for. Sometimes it only requires us to see our situation through someone else’s eyes.

In case you're wondering, one of the hotel employees went to the store to buy some formula for the baby. I saw the baby this morning before I left and she was fine.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Toss Those Expectations

The weather has been the leading news story for much of the winter season. Regions of the U.S. have seen record-setting snows and rain. Temperatures have been fluctuating greatly from day to day. The atmosphere has taken what is considered normal and tossing it aside. If weather patterns can break out of norms and expectations, what are we waiting for to do the same?

Each one of us has patterns of behavior that give people—including ourselves—expectations. These expectations determine what other people anticipate from us. Some of these expectations are set from childhood. One of my grandmothers still chuckles when she thinks about me as a toddler. She says I liked to sit off in a corner, entertaining myself, and that I was fine in my own company. As an adult, that hasn’t changed much, but based on my behavior, the expectation was set that I was comfortable being in my own company. For that reason, no one in my family has been surprised that as an adult I am comfortable with solitude.

While this is a harmless example, consider the impact expectations have on your behavior. Consider how your life has been shaped by the set of behaviors you established a long time ago. Now think of what happens when that behavior no longer meets your needs or matches up with who you are trying to become. What if you have a history of being overly cautious? Irrational? Unfocused? Does that mean you have to remain overly cautious or irrational or unfocused because it is what you’ve always been? Are you able to use that as an excuse to continue exhibiting these behaviors? No, and absolutely not! You are never required to live out the expectations of others and you would not be wise to use expectations of others as an excuse for anything. 

If it can be seventy degrees on Tuesday and get down to thirty degrees by Thursday, you can alter your life pattern. If one city always gets fifty inches of snow every season and one year it gets eighty-five inches, you can change your routine. The key is, you have to think of changing, you have to want to change, and then your behavior must reflect the change you desire. The expectations you think you have to live up to (or live within) are only permanent if you permit them to be permanent. You are always welcome to change your life the minute you change your mind. Shake things up a bit. Make your life changes your own lead story.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Change Requires Action

It is difficult and scary to initiate change. Change requires stepping into the unknown and that can be intimidating. The alternative, though, is worse. Imagine waking up, day after day, in the same rut. Imagine never progressing. Never improving. Never growing. Never expanding. Imagine your life today being as good as it will ever get. Does that sound appealing? For most, that is an emphatic no.

While I am grateful for my life as it is at this moment, I want to be better, wiser, more giving, more loving, and make more of an impact. That all sounds great, but I cannot and will not achieve any level of improvement—no matter how great my intentions are—by merely thinking about it. If I really want to improve, at some point, my thoughts must develop into action.

If you find that you’ve been stuck, that’s the bad news. The good news is that you do not have to remain stuck. You can change your life as soon as today! Consider the areas of your life that you would like to improve. Write them down. Think about the steps needed to make progress, keeping in mind that any step you take toward your goal is progress. If you want to go back to school, start researching programs. If you want a new job, update your resume and begin your job search. If you want to save more money, slightly increase the dollar amount that is automatically transferred into your savings account(s). The key is to put action, no matter how seemingly small, behind your desires. Whether you realize it or not, when you do not act, you are making a decision. You are deciding that change is too hard and that you are not worth the effort. Please know that while change is difficult, it is not impossible, and more importantly, please trust that you are absolutely worth every effort it takes to make your life better.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome to Try-Umph

Welcome to the first edition of Try-Umph! This blog is designed to provide some insight, practical advice, and words of encouragement as I chronicle my life. I contemplated over the name and I'm sure you're wondering why it's called Try-Umph. Two reasons. First, when I considered the purpose of this blog, I wanted it to be something more purposeful than sharing what dinner selections I made or what movies I'd seen. I wanted this to be uplifting, insightful, and maybe even lead readers to make some positive changes in their lives. Ultimately, I want this blog to push people to live a fuller and more satisfying life. I want people to try to live with some umph.

Additionally, the reason why I think I am capable of sharing uplifting and insightful pieces is because I have had to triumph. I have had to pick myself up and navigate through some difficult times. If I can encourage someone else to fight through the heartache and do the same, then this will have definitely served its purpose. I hope that something written in the coming months will lead you to try living your life with a little more umph.