Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Don't wait. The time will never be just right.

This quote from Napoleon Hill, sent to me by HeartMath, was a shocking wake up call to me this morning.

Ever have one of those days when someone says something to you that answers a question, calls you to action, or makes you rethink a decision you thought you had made?

This was one of those moments because it went along with a question I read earlier in the week:
Where do you see yourself in the next 5 - 10 years? Who are you with? Where do you live? What do you do?

I've seen this before many times, but not recently. Not when I stop to think about where I was in my life 10 years ago. I have another child now. I live in a completely different community. I have worked in five different job arrangements since then. I have met scores of new friends. I have reconnected with some dear old friends. I have had financial and relationship difficulties.

As I am ten days from our ten-year-old son turning 11, I am thunder-struck by the notion that in 10 years, our son will be an adult, 21, and likely in his third year of college. Our daughter will turn eight the week after her brother, and she will be an 18-year-old high school senior. Not that I didn't know this wasn't coming, but it feels like I'm the winning coach of the Big Game and my players have just dumped the cooler of Gatorade on my head!

The previous post talked about taking a risk and really focusing on what is important in your life. I have seven to ten years left of my children in my house. There's so much left to do. So, I'm not going to wait when it comes to them. I don't want to have another wake up call like this ten years from now and have regrets.

What are you waiting for? Are you waiting for the right person to come along? Are you waiting for the right job? Waiting to lose weight? Will you be happy when this happens? Why wait for happiness, satisfaction, or feeling like life is not passing you by? Remember, the time will never be just right. Start now.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Taking a Risk

In yesterday's post from "zen habits," guest blogger Jonathan Mead challenges us to have the courage to stop caring so much about things that really don't matter. He suggests that it's these little things that soak up our energy and obscures our path to living our dreams. Letting go of those things that really don't matter is worth the fear of uncertainty. Mead refers to it as taking a step without knowing what, if anything will be under our feet.

In my family, this kind of unhelpful caring about little unnecessary things is what we call worrying about potential problems, and we have made an art form out of it. "Well, what if this happens? Then what will we do?" That'll keep you stuck in the rut of fear. I know first-hand by personal experience and then watching others do exactly the same. Habits, even bad ones, are hard to break even if we know they are bad for us. The behavior is familiar, we know what happens, we are comfortable in the pattern. That's why change is so hard. When we make changes, we don't know what's going to happen next, and that level of uncertainty is scary enough to make us stay right where we are, thank you very much... for better or worse.

But before I begin to consider stepping out of my comfort zone, I have to answer the question, what are my dreams? What is my passion? What dreams am I risking my happiness for? Because that's exactly what's at risk. We think we are happy now, but if we were really living our dreams, wouldn't we be happier than we are right now?

A quote from author Leo Buscaglia encourages me to be a little risky, because I am risk-avoidant thinking that being the one everyone can always count on is my God-given role. Leo says, "If I kept both feet firmly planted on the ground at all times, I'd never get my pants on." Okay, I get it.

What is your passion? What are your dreams? What were you meant to do with your life?
What joy are you risking by living by your fears rather than your dreams?

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Surprises of Life

"Into all our lives, in many simple, familiar ways, God infuses an element of joy from the surprises of life, which unexpectedly brighten our days." Samuel Longfellow

A week ago, our son John had appendicitis. It was an "atypical" presentation.

He had pain once.

Because the biggest thing that helps physicians diagnose appendicitis is pain, we went for a week believing he had a bout of stomach flu. In fact, it is usually unnecessary for patients to have a CT scan and blood work to diagnose appendicitis. With John, it was the only way to find out. He actually walked from the doctor's office to the hospital to the lab, up to radiology, and into the surgery department. Most people would be doubled over in pain and would be wheeled into surgery.

"John, on a scale of zero to ten, where zero is totally without pain and ten is the absolute worst pain you have ever had, where would you say your pain is right now?" the nurse asked him as he sat in pre-op.

"Oh, probably a two," replied John.

"Are you sure?"

"Okay, maybe two and a half."

What started out as a regular follow up visit to the doctor turned into a tour of hospital departments and a weekend at the hospital. A surprise of life.

And the joy that came from this surprise came in many ways. From my co-workers who heard the news spreading through the hospital that Friday afternoon. A bouquet of sunshine-colored flowers in his room when he arrived. Those who came and sat with us during his surgery or stopped in to give a hug. My great PR teammates who got a gift certificate from the hospital deli so I didn't have to think about an evening meal. To church members who cared for Emily, the PEO's who brought in meals, and John's friends who stopped by to bring a gift and a smile.

There were many elements of joy in a stressful time. A time that reminds you of the wide-reaching network of support that is there when needed. That's a time when you feel humbled, blessed, and grateful for the people in your life, and I certainly am.