How Long Will You Stay There?

What utter horror are some of the areas in our head we allow ourselves to travel to. We can travel towards them for a while. But even a mere moment may be too long.

The problem is these areas of despair will continue to call for attention once fed. It’s the duration and distances we allow ourselves to stay there which will do all the harm.

For me, it seems like I even go a step further and find a pickaxe to help dig deeper down into the spaces of negativity. Assisting this doesn’t help at all.

We need to rush towards the narratives which lift us up. Which tell us our true value. It comes from outside of us often enough we mistake these affirmations as not us because it comes from someone else.

While I’m busy digging away with my pickaxe someone usually comes along and pays me a compliment. And I’m stubborn enough to tell them thanks but I’m kinda busy digging further into all my failings at the moment.

Embrace these affirmations. Take hold of the slightest one. Grab what you brush off as something you do naturally and could do in your sleep.

The compliment is not a waste at all. It is someone outside yourself telling you how valuable you are.

Rush towards those spaces of praise and travel those distances to get there and build them up. Collect them and store them and reflect on them.

So when the despair comes, which it comes, we can hold fast to hope in the new creation we are becoming. The creation constantly redeemed.

Realization Of Change

If you can come to a point where you are humbled enough to know things aren’t working the way they should be then there is an incredible opportunity at hand. The moment is right there for a major pivot point in your life.

Awareness is something which begs to be acted upon. I become aware of the situation I am in and know it is not what I want, I know it is not what I need, I know it is not where I am suppose to be at at all.

This is exactly the ripe moment. This realization is the catalyst for change.

It doesn’t have to be acted upon right now. Because if it’s strong enough of a realization it will stay with you for a while. It will prod your mind and heart for however long it takes for the next part to kick in.

This part is the action. To do something about it. And it can be the smallest change or alteration to what you need to accomplish. I mean the smallest. But you got to find yourself acting upon it.

But first and foremost it truly is this moment of realization. Coming to grips with change is tough because of the humbling aspect of it. I really think it’s the main, if not only hurdle.

I find the hardest part of change is arriving at the realization I have to change, and then doing something about it.

Once I accept I don’t have much right, the act of changing isn’t challenging. The work can get started finally. The work is actually the exciting part.

Remember The Actual Lesson

It’s an all too familiar story. In fact I’ll shorten the setup.

  • College undergrad is walking around aimlessly on campus.
  • Doesn’t know what they will major in, which of course, determines the rest of their entire lives.
  • Wanders into the department doors of a subject matter they’ve never heard of but by title alone sounds very intriguing.

There I was, standing in the Urban Studies department office, no more than a glorified windowless closet in the main campus’s equivalent of a high school building. Urban studies. Hmmm, I wonder what this is. I mean, I picked up the pamphlet a couple times, and I knew I loved tall buildings, main streets, and walkability before I knew walkability was a word.20171009_102936

The undergrad director at the time was in his office and gladly welcomed my unannounced visit. After stating what could be the most repeatable line any college professor hears, “hi, my name is ____, and I have no idea what I am majoring in,” this professor launches. I mean, he must have either been caffeinated or just waiting for this moment. I’m certain there’s no way I was the first to do this to him. But what followed gave me the sense he was just muddling through his day until I showed up.

A few things were said about urban studies. Maybe a couple. I think you’re obligated to at least address a person’s direct question at first to be polite.

Then he started to make his transition. It flowed rather naturally. Although, as I would discover later on after taking a course with him, he had indeed been preparing.

His message to me, paraphrased:

Do you want to change the world? Do you want to make an impact? People like Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi changed the world by finding something bigger than themselves and throwing their all into it. Something they couldn’t direct on their own, but something they certainly could bring hope to others by their actions. Do you want to do something lasting which changes the lives in your own life?

I don’t think we actually came back to urban studies after that. He may have handed me the brochure.

All I knew while he was talking was this: I need to take any course I can with this guy. If this is how he is when I just waltz into his office, I can only imagine what a class is like.

Not long after I signed up for the co-major of urban studies. A co-major meaning it didn’t have enough core classes to be a full major, so I still needed to pick a major.

Which he then suggested something audacious. Pick something I really like. What a strange concept. So I picked history because I love, love, love history. I also loved seeing the faces people would make after I told them I was in college and they asked “what is your major?” My answer made their starting smile which read ‘good for you kid, being responsible and stuff by going to college’ turn to shear terror of ‘God bless your soul and future career.’

I figured I would go on and obtain a masters in urban planning (which I would). But here is what I neglected.

Somewhere along the way I allowed his message to be hijacked by all the usual trappings. His message to me that day was not ‘sign up to urban studies.’ His message was ‘change the world you live in, help people in your life, and grow into the person you really need to become.’

It wasn’t go get your masters in urban planning.

It was go do what you like and help others while you’re at it.

Drew Carey Is Responsible For All This

…and my grandparent’s dedication to The Price Is Right.


It’s early November 2016. Somewhere between the time of 11am and 12pm. I don’t remember the date but I’m spot on with the hour block.

The Price Is Right is on, as it should be if all is well in the world.  The channel is on CBS after all.

I wondered out loud “how did Drew Carey lose all that weight?”

This single question leads me to an inspiring article about him. The article mentions his love of Tim Ferriss, among several other inspirational, career driven authors.

This leads me to the library to check out Tim’s The 4-Hour Workweek (and Jon Acuff’s Do-Over, and a couple other career/self-improvement books based only on title or partial familiarity with the author). I find myself diving head first into an entire genre of books I cynically kept a distance from up till this point.

Which then leads me to the slow-carb diet on Tim’s blog. Before starting the slow-carb diet I already lost 30lbs in 11 months. However, I hit a weight loss plateau for the previous four months.  Implementing the slow-carb diet doesn’t just get me moving on the plateau, it pushes me down, taking off an additional 40lbs in the next four months!

I followed through with something prescribed by these gurus of self-reinvention. And it worked, big time.

Which by then leads me into my natural state of intellectual curiosity. What else works?

Subsequently I’m consuming reading material by several thought and career leaders (influencers?) to find out what else is going on here.

I’m discovering common themes. A bit of an echo chamber. Echos of advice that work and are simply out there for any of us to subscribe to and apply to our lives.

Which leads me, well, here. Writing for you.

But to be honest, writing for myself because I have to. I have always had to. Somewhere along the line I stuffed a lot of natural skills and passions of mine down, smothered them slowly, ran them over with a bulldozer, and buried them.

The resuscitation began when I simply asked a question about a game show host out loud. The answer I discovered was more than I bargained for. The actions I’ve taken since are critical pivot points of complete reinvention.


Thank you Drew for not succeeding at suicide (twice).

Thank you for not letting unworthiness continue to define you, even though at one point little Drew did: “Carey has described himself as a nerdy loner who spent his childhood feeling unworthy of happiness or success.”

Thank you for having the courage to talk about your story.

Thanks for the enthusiasm you have in carrying forward a message of change.

Never would I have imagined my grandparent’s love for The Price Is Right would lead to actual winnings for me.

What Do People Ask You For?

Over the past year I notice people ask me to give them the following for free:

  • Information, articles, and my yet-to-be-written book on how I lost a significant amount of weight.
  • Tips to learn songs on the guitar efficiently, what my approach to learning a song involves.
  • Advice on how to advertise a business by providing a clear message.
  • Reasons why I believe in God, despite everything happening in the world around us (and in us).
  • Encouragement to make major life decisions.

No one has asked me to give them, for free, a map displaying demographic data.

Which is odd because this is all I ever put down on a career resume. It was, for a while, how I answered the obligatory societal question “what do you do?”20161231_132446

The free part is an important intentional emphasis by the way. It’s an indicator how people sense pure enjoyment and passion coming from me regarding those subject areas, along with expert knowledge. They see my face light up after I’m asked for information on the issues listed above. And I freely give what I know about all of it.

Again, no one has asked me how to make a map.

What do people ask you for? I believe the answer to this question is a major signal leading you in the direction you should head towards.

Misfit Mission

As I was laying out the concept of this blog I asked myself the following questions: Who am I writing to? Who am I talking to in this vast digital ocean? Whose heart am I really trying to stir with this central message of purpose and love and self worth?

A couple weeks ago I had an aha moment.

I realized I needed to talk with the person I am very familiar with. Someone like me. The person who needed this message of value the most:

The metal-head, the goth, the emo kid, the scene kid, the speech therapy kid, the misunderstood, the mistreated, the reject, the unloved, the ignored, the beaten down, the emotionless, the awkward, the pimple faced kid, the made fun of in church youth group kid.

This space is really for anyone and everyone. But I am hopefully reaching you. The Misfit.

The Misfit? I was going with outcast and baggy pants person from the 90’s.  Who are the Misfits? I mean really, I wasn’t using that term just a week ago.


But then my friend starts bumping this rap group I’ve never heard of called Social Club Misfits. Their mantra jolts me because they are basically talking about how much they are geeks, weird, boring, rejects, misunderstood, etc etc. Stuff rappers shouldn’t be saying out loud. And they are comfortable with this identity.

This short sermon song  pops up. I’m tearing up a bit hearing it. He’s talking to me. I’ve never heard the embracing of being a Misfit as he defines it with such confidence. With such assurance of self.

A Misfit is one who’s uncomfortable with his or her surroundings. Oh yeah, that’s me. Raises my hand slowly out of discomfort.

and is seen to be disturbingly different than others. Always have. And if you’ve experienced this too, you can rest assured you are not different. You’ve got me at least. And all of us Misfits.

And as Misfits one of our greatest discomforts is inconsistency amongst our peers. The dare is to be comfortably, consistently yourself. Be authentic. Be who you are. Wear socks with sandals if that’s your thing. You’re a Misfit.

There is a humble confidence, if I can use that phrasing, throughout this definition of a Misfit. They have put to words and music what my aha moment was trying to grasp at.

Trying, because I was only just beginning to become (finally) as confident as they are about being Misfits. It’s kinda amazing it all happens within a couple weeks of each other.

Social Club Misfits could not clarify any better in my mind what is pressed deeply into my identity and calling:

We are Misfits here if we are taking on Christ daily. And we are further Misfit (rejects, goody-two-shoes, freaks, geeks) if we are the kid who got picked last, the only non-swearing kid at bible camp, the person painting your nails black, the parent who is in prison, or the constantly laughed at.

But. Chin up.

You are loved. You just are.

 

 

Look At What You Can’t See

That is why we never give up.
Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.
For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long.
Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!
So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now;
Rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.
For the things we see now will soon be gone,
But the things we cannot see will last forever.
2 Corinthians 4:16‭-‬18 NLT

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Build Who We’ve Become

Do not rebuild my life in the exact same way it was before. It’s time for me to rebuild based on who I am growing into.

Author Maria Goff essentially summed up the main lesson from the past year of my life lovelivesherein her book Love Lives Here.  In the excerpt below, she is referring to her family’s long-time cabin burning down to the ground.  Everything inside of it was now gone, every item which contained countless memories.  There was an instant temptation to rebuild the cabin exactly how it was before.  As if the memories, the lessons, the warmth of friendships birthed and grown in the cabin could be rebuilt physically as well.  However, with wisdom as the guide, Maria clarifies:

We’ll build something that will serve who we’ve become, not just repeat who we were.  The biggest mistake we could all make in our lives [emphasis added] is to rebuild things we’ve outgrown or to live in constant fear that we might lose what we have all over again.  It won’t be the fires that destroy our lives and our faith.  It will be obsessing over not getting burned again that will.

Ouch.  This drilled way down into me.  I think dental work from the 1800’s would be less painful to endure than this quote.

Maria’s focus on two aspects of this strike me.  The first is the temptation to rebuild things we’ve outgrown.  It is hard to admit to defeat in an area in life.  But it may be harder to pivot in an area of life because we have grown up since we first set out on the mission.

It could have been years ago when we decided on X, but the conditions we were in when the decision was made are no longer present.  I could hold onto the romanticized version of the way I hoped it all would turn out when I started out on a venture.  Or I could let the cold-water-splash-in-the-face take more of an effect than just sending shivers down my spine.  The conditions are no where near the way they were before.  There’s no good use utilizing old blueprints drawn up back then to start the process all over again now.

Her second emphasis is on the fear of building again at all.  More poignant for me, this weighs heavy as I can carry the metaphor of not being burned again, or at all, to extremely fearful bounds.  Something of great value was lost to Maria and her family.  Yet, there was a resilience in building something new and different based on who they have become.

Not only will the cabin be new, but it will be built.  I can paralyze myself just thinking of getting back up and trying again.  But why try the exact same thing again?  We all need to try again but in step with her first point, it will be different this time.

In a sense it will be different anyway, even if we want to start the same task or goal over the exact same way.  We’ll have the experience of the failure with us.  It will be a different time in our lives.  We’ll maybe even be physically somewhere else.  Regardless, if we start with new or old blueprints we must be willing to risk fire getting to our final product again.

Weren’t all the memories created in the first cabin worth it all anyway?  That’s why we build again.  But it’s also why we build based on who we are now.

 

Finally, Three Years Later

Late May 2014, I intended the picture on the left to be a before picture. I definitely was reaching my fed-up moment and wanted to add some accountability, so I shared it with some friends. And I told them in 4 months, on my birthday, I’ll take an after picture of my progress. Well, 4 months later, I hadn’t lost any weight.

Today, 3 years later, I decided to follow up on that May 2014 commitment by taking the after picture I always intended. It’s not a ‘finished’ picture. It represents what I have accomplished in only a year and a half of actually following through with my commitment. It portrays a lasting change in lifestyle.

Even if it takes 3 years instead of 4 months, keep going.
If it takes another year and a half to get started, get started.

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May 2014
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May 2017