Mayhem Monday: Strap on your Power Pumps and Kick Failure!

When I was in grad school I often felt like I was climbing up hill. Alone.

By that time I was married with two small children and commuting about 600 miles (round trip) every week. Yeah, it was crazy. A few days each week I would sit in an empty apartment surrounded by books and papers, searching out the mysteries of some scholarly work, attempting to interpret some scholarly idea or—harder still—endeavoring to produce something scholarly myself!

Most of the time I was just climbing up hill.

There were smart people all around me. The students in my program were self-assured and articulate. They spoke eloquently about books I hadn’t read yet and professionals in our field whose names  I was still learning.  I liked being around them, though.  My hope was that their intelligence would rub off! So I smiled and nodded as the conversations swirled.

Still climbing…

In the car rides to school–during the long stretches of country road where there were few other cars besides mine–I would sneak peaks at the article I had yet to finish reading for class.  On the return trips home, I would mentally calculate how many hours I would have between the kids, the hubby and the home duties to complete writing and reading tasks before the next return trip.

Often the hill was steep.

Then that glorious time came when classes were completed–only exams and dissertation remained! Ah, but don’t  be fooled by the “only” in that sentence. It was yet another mountain.  Just when I could see the summit coming into view, the unthinkable happened.  I failed one of my qualifying exams.   My momentum halted. I began sliding straight down that hill. I thought I was done.

But, there were people around me who wouldn’t let me quit.  Two in particular—my husband and my advisor.  They made me look at that failure as a place to begin rather than end.  I had been so focused on pushing up that hill and getting to the top that I had actually missed some things along the way. I needed to go back and take a closer look. I had to slow down and think about each step. The journey was not just about the destination, there were some points along the way that I could only appreciate if I moved slowly and pondered them a little longer. My failure pushed me to  the apex of another mountain and once I pushed past the fog of disappointment, I was able to see my journey with fresh eyes.

And so, in spite of the setback, I kept climbing.

What I love about this verse in Habakkuk is that it says He’ll give me strength to climb “my hills” which implies that He is interested in my personal situation.  It means He knows what I need for the particular journey that I am on.  So, even when I feel like I’m unfit for the task at hand, even when I feel like I’m all alone, or it seems that I’m the only one in the room who doesn’t have a clue, this verse says He’s giving me strength to walk on “my high hills”–He’s telling me to take ownership of that mountain! To claim it as my territory and walk on it with all the power and might that He’s given me!

You know what that’s like? It’s like putting on the power suit and pumps and stepping out with full confidence that regardless of whatever failures you suffered yesterday, today is a new day and today you’re walking on your hills,  You can do it  with confidence because He’s got your back!  He’s not going to let you quit. He knows this climb is rough, but there are some lessons along the way He wants you to learn so He’s made your feet like “deer’s feet”—deer step light and leap gracefully over boundaries. God says do likewise.  Strap on your high heels and take to the high hills–He’s got your back!

Happy Monday!

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Monday Mayhem: Happy Mid-Year!

So, remember way back in January when you made your “New Year’s Resolutions”? Why would I be talking about those? It’s June! Well, isn’t now a perfect time to talk about them, precisely because you’ve forgotten? Aren’t you tired of it? Beginning the new year with all that hope and promise only to slip back into the same old rut by February? Now, here we are, half way through the year and what do we have to show for it?

Why not break the pattern?

Consider this is our mid-year check-up! Half way through the year we should re-visit those resolutions that we cast aside and see if we can breathe some new life into them, or maybe we need to re-assess. Were we too ambitious or unrealistic in January? What has changed since then? How do we need to round out this not-so-new year?

I’d like to surf into the second half of this year with renewed energy, how about you? Let’s commit to something new!

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So, when I looked back at my Welcome post for this blog I realize that I had some lofty goals. For example, I intended to have a monthly “Writer’s Block” challenge, to have a “Writing 101” column with writing tips from my writing courses and to feature writing samples as well as commentary and stories on other topics of general interest.

As I read over this list I see that I’ve done quite a bit with this last item. I’ve shared creative pieces, writing samples and plenty of general interest commentary, but I would say that I need to work on bolstering my writing tips and challenges for all of you writers out there!  I also had some New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Write daily.
  2. Allow yourself to write poorly. 
  3. Build a community of writers.

I do not write daily, but I have at least been writing more this year than ever before. I have certainly allowed myself to write poorly and that has been painful, but productive, and I have built a community of writers AND readers–that’s YOU! And I want to thank you for being here! You have helped me to stick pretty closely to these resolutions and I couldn’t have done it without the motivation that comes with having a real audience.

I hope that you will find the motivation you need to assess your own mid-year resolutions or make new ones! Come on, it’s not too late to make a new start.

Happy Monday!

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Click below, Emily Bacetis reveals how we can succeed at keeping our eyes on the prize!

Monday Mayhem: STRETCH!

Hear the audio version of this on the WLRH Sundial Writer’s Corner!

I’ve always wanted to be a dancer.

It’s a truth that not many know about me! But there it is. In black and white now, for all the world to see. When I was a little girl my mom spoke often of putting me in ballet, but the cosmos did not align in my favor for many things that I wanted as a little girl.

Life happens.

You grow up. You tuck away your childhood dreams and go on.

I admired ballerinas from afar, attended Alvin Ailey performances and with my daughter watched the Nutcracker with awe and wonder.

Fortunately, when she expressed a desire to dance, I was able to enroll her in a little studio not far from our house and I’ve watched with awe and wonder as she’s developed grace and poise in a very short time. When I registered her for the summer the studio owner reminded me, again, that they offer “adult” classes and I told myself, again, that I’m “too old for this” now. My time has passed. I’m past my prime.

It would be a stretch to take ballet at my age…literally!

But, then I thought, why not stretch? Stretching is good! Physically, stretching increases range of motion, prevents injury and  improves balance, but psychologically? Emotionally? Professionally? Stretching can be scary. Reaching for goals that are not just beyond my reach, but beyond my zip code!  Extending myself to attempt things that are so far outside of my skillset that I have to do research before I can even start? No. My courage is a bit atrophied from decades of settling for tasks that fall safely within the parameters of my paygrade, from sticking with activities that lie limply under the canopy of my job description. So, the thought of crawling out from under that safe, yet confining space was frightening!

When atrophied muscles begin to move, the result is resistance. When we wander into unknown territory, the initial move is hard. To stretch beyond the comfort zone is to pull away from the familiar and to risk pain. That’s why it’s easier to stay where I am, to stick to what’s expected of me at my age, to settle, rather than to stretch.

But, there’s another reality:  if I do nothing I die! For years I’ve watched others do things I wished I could do. I’ve spent much of my life on the bench, observing from the sideline. At the end of my life will I be content to say, “boy it sure was fun to watch everyone else living their life!” No! It’s high time I get in the game and do some living myself!  Physically, if a person doesn’t move, they will deteriorate. Psychologically, emotionally and professionally the same is true too. Because anything that is not moving is declining; anything that isn’t living is dying!

The bottom line is, I have two choices. I can either get old or I can grow old.

If I get old I stay where I am, in my comfort zone, doing what’s safe, completing the easy tasks that I know I can do, never stretching myself to do any more or to try anything new. And every year I’ll get older.

Or I can step out of my comfort zone. Break away from what’s safe, challenge myself to tasks that seem too hard for me, stretch myself to do more than I think I’m capable of and to try new things that I never thought I could. And every year I’ll grow older.  I’ll stretch, I’ll change; hopefully I’ll be stronger and better for the effort and experience.

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So, what about you? Do you need to stretch? Have you settled into a safe space and allowed your literal or metaphorical muscles to atrophy? Maybe it’s time to peek out from under your canopy. In the meantime, if, you’ll excuse me, I have some stretching to do, my ballet class will be starting soon!

  • Learn more about the benefits of stretching from Prevention
  • Learn more about my favorite little dance studio Arabesque Dance Arts
  • Also, check out “Hi, I’m K” where I’ve uploaded pictures from my ballerina daughter’s birthday “spa” party!

*Want more Monday Mayhem? Click here!

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