Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Stay the Course

As we reflect on this year's choices and outcomes, many of us will make plans for 2014. December 31 seems to naturally encourage us to pursue change. Everywhere we look and listen people are writing and discussing resolutions. However, every year isn't one of correction or redirection. The passage of time or a life season can indicate a need for resolve more than a need for change. There are phases of our lives when we are required to firmly continue with the plan(s) we have set.

My year has been filled with repeated tests of healthy boundaries. Occasions presented themselves and I had a choice to make—I could relent and weaken my resolve or I could stand by my decision and grow. The greatest lesson I learned this year was to stand by my choices, even when others didn't understand, even when others didn't approve, and even when others resorted to using guilt as a tactic. Negative reactions and conflict are not cause to jump ship or justification for an alternate plan. The reactions I received externally, both positive and negative, forced me to seek clarity internally. What I discovered was that my life track was indeed the best one for me. The road to greatness will have moments of doubt, disappointment, and solitude, but I learned that I would always have what and who I needed as long as I remained on the right course.

Life is filled with changes. At times change is not necessarily an actionable one, but a mindset. As this year comes to a close, think about your life path. You may need to redirect your focus and make better choices. However, if you have made positive changes, stand by them. If you have connected with people who appreciate who you are and support where you are going, stand by them. If your life is already on the path to professional fulfillment and personal triumph then I implore and encourage you to remain strong and committed to stay the course.

Read the last post, Space to Walk.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Space to Walk

On a snowy day, I was walking to my apartment building. It was 25 degrees so I was in a hurry to get inside, but a man and what I assumed were his sons caught my eye. The father and oldest son walked on the shoveled sidewalk. Their path was easy and clear. The youngest son, while going in the same direction, took a different path at his own pace. This little guy choose to walk in the grass. He had to step up higher to get through so he was slightly behind. He ran at times as he kicked through the fluffy snow. It was as if there was no other place he would rather be than on his whimsical walk.

I have this incessant desire to be supportive. If those I love need a word of encouragement or a shoulder to cry on, I want to be "Johnny on the spot." At times, that's appropriate. There are other times, though, when people need space to sift through their feelings. They need to process and listen inwardly in order to develop. At those moments, as much as I want to be right there, I have to love them enough to let them walk in their own space. I have to put my needs—and really, my insecurities and fears—aside and allow them to walk on their own even when I would prefer to walk with them.

We walk through life with others, but even when we're together emotionally, we're not always supposed to be directly side-by-side. We have to give those we love the space to walk. It can be difficult because we fear separation or we want to provide up close and personal support. However, just as the father gave his little boy the joy of walking through the snow, we can give our loved ones the satisfaction of self-reliance just by providing a little bit of space.

Read last week's post, The Spirituality of Natural Gifts.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

The Spirituality of Natural Gifts

As a kid I developed a love affair with stories. I was fascinated with the idea that people, events, and places could be created from someone's imagination. Over time my fascination evolved and I began writing my own plays, poems, novels, and short stories. My love for writing makes it easy to consider that I'd pursue publishing. I would take what I already love and share it for public consumption. What would be surprising is if I expressed myself utilizing a method that I'm not naturally inclined to do. Using my talent where I feel most comfortable and safe—creating fiction—is not nearly as impressive as tapping into something greater.

The space outside of your natural comfort zone is where spirituality patiently waits. It is where your skill becomes larger than you and any pleasure you receive from engaging with or producing it. This is where your gift becomes more than a source of inspiration and encouragement for others, it is when your gift inspires you.

My gift began to inspire me when I gave myself permission to not just write stories but to tell my story. I felt a tug of responsibility to shift from writing for entertainment to sharing a story that would invoke change. That internal tug led me directly to a place that I feared. I wrote stories so that I could mask my emotions. Openly expressing what I felt and not hiding behind a character or situation was terrifying. It demanded that I use my natural talent in a manner that I never intended. At that point I wasn't just writing, I was sharing my soul.

Take your natural talent to another height. Stretch yourself and acknowledge that your life absolutely matters. Your gifts matter. They are to be nurtured, strengthened, surrendered, and shared. When you extend your talents outward you welcome internal fulfillment. Your internal dialogue stops discouraging, doubting, and crushing your confidence. You become less focused on natural, short-term elements and more aware of spiritual, lifelong development. Be brave and committed enough to fully foster your gifts. When you thoroughly exercise the range of your natural talents you position yourself to thoroughly experience life as your story has always been written, through the lens of security and spirituality.

Read last week's post, A Life of Gratitude.