Category Archives: Goals

The Truth about Fear

The Truth About Fear

Over the last four months, fear has taught me some truths.

Truth #1: Fear is real.  Fear is simply a threat to something you care deeply about. It’s a natural and very human reaction that elicits your emotions. It can dominate your thoughts, affect your mental capacity as well as your emotional and physical state.

Truth #2: Fear is real, but it is also a liar.  Fear tells whispers in your ear, “You can’t.”  Don’t listen; that is a lie.

Truth #3: Fear plays the role you allow it to play in your life.

Beginning on Oct. 10, 2015, life threw our family a curve ball; one that brought about medical conditions that caused severe and continuing headaches, extreme fatigue, numbness in my body and a poor quality of life. We thought it was as simple as degenerative disc disease.  I did in fact have that, but I learned that was very manageable.

What was not manageable was what I later learned that I had: sleep apnea and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS).  My condition causes me to quit breathing about 15 times an hour and wake up, on average, 41 times an hour.

I began to have extremely restless nights getting very little sleep that was non-restorative.  My muscles were not getting the oxygen they needed and were fatigued to the point where this avid exerciser had to forego anything physical.  Just walking up the stairs took a lot of energy.

During my initial sleep study, I unfortunately had technicians who lacked a servant’s heart (in addition to poor bedside manner).  During my sleep study, I was supposed to wear a CPAP machine, which is basically a machine, with a mask attached that blows air into your nose or mouth so that your airway doesn’t become obstructed.  Long story short, the experience was horrible (one the business later apologized for).

Fear entered my life.  And over the course of several weeks, it consumed me.

How long can I go on living extremely fatigued?

How long can I continue with this headache?

Am I going to get extremely sick because my body cannot get the rest it needs and fight off sickness?

What kind of mother am I right now?

Will my husband lose me?

Will my son have to be raised without me?

What will my husband say to my son when he asks “Where’s Mommy?”

With all this said, it’s important to know that sleep apnea is a treatable condition.  Unfortunately, CPAP therapy can take weeks to adjust to, accept emotionally, and beat mentally.

I eventually got a second sleep study and was able to wear the CPAP so the neurologist got the information they needed to give me my own machine.

Though a hurdle was jumped, the fear remained.  For many, definitely for me, the CPAP wasn’t something I adjusted to easily.

There were emotional breakdowns due to fear.  What if I can’t do this? I am failing.

There were tears due to fatigue.

There were nights that fear said, “You can’t do this.”  You’re not who you thought you were. You don’t get the life you wanted.”

Honestly, this is when fear consumed me.

But it was also at this point, that I stopped it. I put fear in its place.  I had to, because living the life I was choosing to live left me drained in every way possible.

You see, thoughts of that machine and my life expectancy and condition consumed me. Despite that,   I kept working full time.  And, I attempted to continue to be the mother my son deserved.  I continued to try to keep a functioning home.  But, what was in my thoughts despite the fact that I kept putting one foot in front of the other  was fear.

I knew it had to stop. So, I stopped it. 

I quit thinking about it. I put what little energy I had into things I cared about.  Impacting others through coaching.  Beginning my reading again.  Spending time with my husband, not thinking or talking about my condition.  Being mentally present when interacting with my son.

Then, at night when it was time to sleep, I just put the machine on, laid down and didn’t allow fear to say, “You can’t.” I tried to make that the only time I thought about the machine.

I put fear in it’s rightful place in my life.

Is it still there, at times?   Sure, I’m human.

But, when it pops up, I put it away. Because it’s a lie. Because if I allow it to, it consumes me.

I am now learning to sleep with the CPAP and beginning to get my energy back.  It is still going to be a process and there will still be ups and downs, but fear no longer determines my path.  I do.

As I walked into work each day, the kids in our school were learning about courage. One classroom had this posted outside their room: “Courage is the ability to persevere through any emotion.”  There’s no promises of this being easy.   But the chance is there and the path lies in our ability to choose.  Choose the role fear plays your life.

The last four months of my life have been the hardest I’ve ever lived. But, it has provided lessons that I have never experienced to this depth. I am grateful for the experience. I am stronger because of it.

 

 

 

 

 

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I am the Writer of my Life

I am the Writer of My Life

I am the writer of my life.

I have choice in my setting

I choose the home I live in, based on my values of living debt free and close to family.That means I am choosing to not live in my dream home yet.

I choose my place of refueling–outside, in the solitude and quietness of the morning.

I choose the place where my talents benefit others.  For now, that is a school setting, and specifically in a classroom so that dialogue about students can take place with teachers.

I choose the characters written in my story. 

I choose my significant other who I will walk through life with. I choose him daily because of who he is.  I choose him in the good times and bad.

I choose to bring children into our life.  I choose to make our son one of the most important people we pour into.

I choose my mentors, both face-to-face and the ones found in books and virtually. That means being proactive about contacting mentors of my past.  And pursuing mentors of my present.

I choose my friends, who add value, joy and connectedness in my life.

I choose my mastermind, a group of ladies who hold me accountable and celebrate my successes.

Within the pages of my book is the plot of my life, constantly being reaped in the small habits that I partake in. 

Sure, I didn’t choose my very beginning, the family I was reared in or their values. But, I did choose to allow them to impact me in a positive way or not to allow them to impact me in a negative way.

I chose to study hard, work hard and be my own person in my K-12 education and athletics.

I choose to exercise on a consistent basis.

I choose gratitude in the small moments of the day.

I choose to lead myself and thus lead others.

I choose to see the beauty in the pain.

I choose to see the beauty in others and in myself.

I chose humbleness and confidence.

I choose courage to be honest with myself.

I choose grace.

I choose to believe that I have significance that is special and unique and will lead to the climax of my story.

I am the writer of my life…and look at the degree of choice I have in it all. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Be an Effective Leader: “Lead Me”

To Be an Effective Leader- -Lead Me-

“Lead Me.” 

That’s what I heard on my drive to work as I contemplated what small thing I could do that day that would have a big impact on my ability to lead others.

“Lead me.”  I wondered, at first, would that be “enough.” to effectively lead others that day?

But, then I paused and considered some of my core values. What I believe…no, what I know to be true is that if I am living by my core values, then I am truly leading myself.

The question is this: Would that also be leading others? 

Let’s consider some of my core values.

  1. Confidence with humility – If I exhibited confidence in the knowledge that I had, while showing humility and a growth mindset with what I didn’t know, would I be leading that day?  Of course I would.
  2. Stewardship – If I kept a focus that day on serving others, contemplating how I could add value to their life, would that be leading others?  Yes, it would.
  3. Authenticity – If I focused on being my true self, capitalizing on my unique strengths and knowing that who I was and what I could provide was not only “enough,” but also “effective” in my role, would that be leading others?  That is also true.
  4. Courage – If during those times of the day when a tough decision had to be made or I had to navigate a difficult conversation or I had to have the courage to do any of my other core values, would that be leading others? It would, because a leader has to exhibit courage, even if standing alone.

After considering just these core values, it was evident to me that what I was hearing (“Lead Me”), was indeed my path to being a great leader.

If found this interesting and powerful. So much of what I listen to and read on leadership is focused on systems thinking, on navigating the personality of others, on the change process, etc.  All that is important as well. But, if we’re not leading ourselves during those small moments of the day, we’re not leading.

What are your core values?  Let them be your guide.  Because whether you’re a leader by title or not, you are a leader in some capacity (a father, a mother, a friend, a neighbor…all our roles have a component of leadership). 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking Growth? Ask Questions

Seeking Growth- Ask Questions

We live in a society of bold statements. We like bold statements.  They elicit our emotions.  They give us the perception that someone is a leader.  It can even yield group think. 

What if, instead of bold statements, we asked more questions of ourselves, of each other, and of the ideas and beliefs we hold?

Would that not allow us to grow more? Even, if we don’t agree with the answer?

I find this to be true in my work as an instructional coach.  Upon entering this field, I felt I had something to offer. I had knowledge due to my voracious reading and passion on the topic of reading and instruction.  It was my opportunity to invest in others by sharing that knowledge.

I’ve learned coaching is so much more.  In a nutshell, the most effective coaches ask questions.  It is during these conversations that those who I coach grow the most. It’s when I don’t offer them all the answers, but allow them to do the reflecting.

Wouldn’t it be quicker to just tell them what they need to know?  Sure, and sometimes the situation necessitates that.  But, are we going for quicker or more effective and lasting impact?  When I facilitate questioning in a way that allows them to have their own aha’s, the impact is permanent.  When, I tell them what they “need” to know, the impact is short-lived.

Applying this to my personal life, I would say this.  I could easily make bold statements about who I am and the beliefs that I hold.  But, there’s no growth in that, because I’m discussing the truths I already know or the truths as I currently understand them. But, if instead of that, I challenged myself with questions about my talents, my beliefs and the direction in my life, would that not lead to more growth?

For example, I could quickly say “courage” is my top core value, because it allows me to attain my other core values.  It’s a simple, yet bold statement that….stops right there.

Or, I could ask myself: How am I applying courage to my everyday life?  Did I have courage when I was challenged on a topic at work?  Did I have courage to address a difficult conversation with my husband.  Did I have courage to entertain the possibility that I could be wrong about something?  You see, it is these questions that allow growth.  Not the statements.

What questions do you need to ask yourself today?  What questions do you need to ask your team? What questions do you need to pose to your spouse?  

 

The Next Five Minutes

5 minutes

“Don’t worry about step 2 or step 222, worry about step 1. What is the next right thing you feel like you’re supposed to do?” ~ Matt Ham

One of my key strengths is listening.  Typically, it’s in regard to conversation, but today it’s in regard to listening to one’s life.  When I first read about listening to your life in Jeff Goins’s book The Art of Work, it really stood out to me. I instantly knew that’s what I needed to do.

What does it mean to listen to your life? That’s a question that could be a post in itself, but for today, it specifically means listening to those statements, oftentimes singular, but powerful statements, that are said to you that could profoundly change your life.

The statement above about focusing on just the next step is one of those statements.

The summer has brought a lot of contemplation about the future. So much so that I consistently awake in the middle of the night. I’ve never been one to do this. I wake with nothing specific on my mind, which causes me confusion as to why I keep awakening. I do think it’s in regard to the future, the enormity of it, what I want and need it to be, the possibilities that exist and the actions I need to take.

Thoughts like that can be both invigorating, but overwhelming.  Thoughts like this:

1) I want a marriage that is solid, strong and one that builds each of us up so much that we can them help one another, our kids and others.

2) I want to significant impact others so that they can live their best life.

3) I want to seize every moment with my son because I know the moment he is little is brief and precious.

4) I want to give all that I need to, all that I’m supposed to, before I die.

Though I think it’s important to take on those thoughts, it can cause us to lose sight of the next five minutes.

Take a listen to this podcast with Matt Ham and Robert D. Smith.  Robert speaks about it in a way that one can’t help but listen to.

Here’s what I believe: If we apply this concept every day, all these small moments will lead to those big moments in life we want to accomplish.  In fact, I would argue, it’s those small moments we need to celebrate because that’s when the change happens. That’s when we affect lives.  That’s when we live our best life.

So, on my list of my “next five minutes” today, I have:

1) Awake early so that I can have reflection and refuel time.

2)  Write this post.

3) Eat a breakfast this is a good balance of protein and fiber.

4) Have a focused and intense work session tonight to prepare for delivering professional development next week.

5) Proactively make the interactions with my husband in a way that shows that I cherish him.  Choose not to let the stress of being the wife of a business owner negatively effect me.

6) Be 100% present.

7) Choose patience, love, and light-heartedness as I interact with my son.  Know that it’s not the amount of time I get with him, but the quality of the time I do.

What will you do with your next five minutes today?

 

Defining Achievement: Part 2

Achievement path

One of the biggest revelations I had during LifePlan was that I got my self worth from achievement. What I’ve realized now is I have to figure out what achievement means to me.

The previous post, Defining Achievement, Part 1, began my journey in defining what achievement means to me.

I had an idea swirling around in my head for part 2.  There were two parts to it:

1) Achievement isn’t what society/culture tells me it is.

2). My definition of achievement in the past may have worked for me, but it doesn’t have to be my definition now.

I re-listened to Christy Wright’s video message about life balance.  I heard something there….something that’s leading me to my definition.

She described what she believed “life balance” to be:

1. Being 100% present

2. Living from your values

3. Living a life that is reflective of what matters to you

One of the most powerful statements she said: Put your time, money and energy in the places that matter to you, because trying to keep up with the demands others have for you will lead to inconsistencies in your life. Then, you’ll be frustrated and bitter.

How many of us do that?  I know I did in my yearning for achievement.  I felt such a pressure to do more, give more, work hours after hours at the expense of my health, my family and my values.

So, I’ve learned to say no this summer. In all honesty, are there times I still feel guilty?  Sure. Because I’m in a transition of living in a way where I allowed culture to determine what and how much I should do; And now,  I am deciding.  That’s a big jump.  Don’t get me wrong though. I allowed that to happen. I’m not pointing my fingers at others, but I do think this is a challenging aspect to our culture, especially if you are someone driven to succeed in work life. I’m also not saying you don’t have to work hard; work ethic is one of my top values.  (I would venture to say I’ve worked more this summer than others. I’m just saying I proactively decide the amount of work I do and where I devote my energies. The result: I am happier.

So, in an attempt to further define achievement, could I say this?  Achievement is not jumping from accomplishment to accomplishment.  It is not letting guilt get to me because I choose to say no to some aspect of my life and yes to another.  Achievement is me being true to myself, living by my values and life purpose (as was outlined in LifePlan). It is being present where ever I am. (Something I struggled with a bit in LifePlan–I was overly concerned with the time and making progress during the event.  So many times, my LifePlan facilitator said: “The only thing that matters is the conversation right now.”)

Achievement is living a life that is reflective of what matters to me.  I wasn’t doing that FULLY prior to LifePlan. 

Defining Achievement: Part 1

Defining Achievement- Part 1

I felt a pressure on me, a self imposed one, to achieve.

Man, that’s so true. The truth is, I’ve always felt this pressure and even thrived off of it. It allowed me to academically excel through school.  It allowed me to be a leader through performance and example on the softball field. It allowed me to earn several scholarships to attend college.  It allowed me to change the cycle of poverty that I grew up in.  It allowed me to enter leadership positions.

It was my motivation….to jump from achievement to achievement, from “end point to endpoint” and say “what’s next?”  I was always thinking ahead.

I appreciate the role achievement has played in my life.

However, I’m wondering now, if achievement is defined differently, post LifePlan.

This question came to me after an early morning run that lasted 70 minutes.  (It’s been at least three years since I’ve ran that much at one time). What I felt after that run was different than what I used to feel after I “achieved” something.

I think previously I would have made a mental check mark in my head and it literally took pressure off of me. Whereas, if I couldn’t mark something off my achievement list, my emotions, my  mood, my drive suffered and I questioned myself.  Not outwardly, but inwardly, I beat myself up.

My definition of achievement is not yet solidified and perhaps this post will help me navigate that.

So, if I attempt to describe how I felt after running this morning….did I feel a sense of accomplishment?  Sure, but I didn’t bask in it. I felt like I was being a good steward with my body and health.  And because of that, I could then invest in others better. My impact on others would now be more than if I would have slept in and ignored my physical health. I didn’t make a mental checkoff, but instead, I had a sense of a higher purpose, much higher than that one achievement. I was ready to invest in others.

Perhaps, before LifePlan, it was about the achievement itself.  And, now, it’s what the “achievement” allows.

I’ve always believed in serving a higher purpose and that has been a big part of my motivation.  But, now, I’m truly living it. Truly feeling it.  It’s about the journey and the impact, not the achievement.

So maybe achievement defined for me is being a good steward with all that I’ve been blessed with so that I can serve a higher purpose, more than I ever have before. It’s not a destination, a goal, or an endpoint.

 

 

How Long Would You Work Towards Your Dream?

Dream

How long would you work to make your dream come true?

I loved this question discussed in Dan Miller’s podcast “A Positive Mind Repels a Negative Life.”

Three very important questions were asked that made me think.

1. If you had to work towards your dream for one year, would you do it?

2. If you had to work towards your dream for five years, would you do it?

3. If you had to work towards your dream for 10 years, would you do it?

But, what really caused me to pause was when Dan shared this: Let’s say it takes 10 years and you’re 3o now.  That means by the time you’re 40, you could be living your dream.  Those 10 years, will go by fast.

And, what I thought in my head after that was this: “There is STILL so much life to be lived after 40.   So many lives I could impact.”

What I’m currently navigating is this question: How do I balance patience in making my dream come true and tenacity to make it real sooner than later? What’s the right balance?   How many sacrifices are appropriate?   I don’t have the answers yet, but I’m lovin’  the journey!

What’s your dream?  How long would you work towards it?  How important is it, especially when you consider “a life well lived.”

 

Seasons, LifePlan and the Journey

I am motivated by having a plan. 

LifePlan gave me that…a plan.

I am stoked beyond measure to build my discipline and daily habits so that I can successfully navigate my LifePlan journey.  I’ve begun to develop those habits with daily early morning exercise, clean eating (though I’m still lacking discipline in completely cutting sugar out of my life!), time to read or write every day, weekly dates with the hubby, making a plan to proactively be a good steward with my talents in reading, teaching, coaching and leadership, preparing my mindset to add worklife back to the mix….all while balancing motherhood (which has more demands than ever now since my husband is starting his own business).

Truth be told, after I became a mother, I always felt a sense of guilt….when I was fully devoted mentally and physically to work, I felt guilty because I wasn’t with my son.  When, I was at home, fully devoted to family, I felt guilty I wasn’t working.

It’s interesting. I had a chat with a co-worker this last year who is also a mother.  Her kids are teenagers, so I asked her “Does the guilt ever go away?”  It seems, as a mom, you’re always feeling guilty about something. At least I was. It was her experience that the guilt is always there.

I put that conversation in the back of my mind because something didn’t set right with me.

But, if I ask myself why I feel this way (guilty)….it’s likely tied to my high need for achievement….and not just average achievement, the yearning to go beyond average.  After learning in LifePlan, that this yearning was tied to my root system, a root system where I had to work my tail off just to break so many cycles–poverty, unhealthy relationships and an unhealthy mindset.  This meant working three jobs while going to college full time.  There are reasons in my childhood that caused me to tie my self worth to achievement. Thus, when I wasn’t achieving, in my eyes at least, I struggled.

I still have a high need to achieve, but it’s not tied to my self worth.  This is key to the success of my LifePlan, particularly as a working mother.

The reality is this: My current season of life requires me to balance, the best I can, at least. (Are we ever truly balanced?!)   The reality is I have a three-year-old that demands my attention and, just as importantly, he won’t always be three.  Someday I’ll miss this time.

Despite how much I want to be awesome at every area of my LifePlan, I have to proactively give myself grace that the level I want to move forward at may not be there in all areas.

And, that’s okay.

But, see, there’s even a problem in that…it’s not about the destination. It’s about the journey.

Do I still battle guilt, at times?  Sure, I do.  But, that’s emotion.  What I know to be true is what I learned in LifePlan. My self worth doesn’t come from where I am at in “accomplishing” my LifePlan.

And, I don’t have to be guilty, because I’m on a journey (that has different seasons).  A journey, I might add, where I determine where my time is spent.

My season in life is what it is.  My LifePlan is my guide….and my LifePlan is a journey.

 

Growth…in All Domains!

At one point in my career, I was working 70 hours/week.

Why?  I learned that in LifePlan.

The core reason was that I has a high need to succeed.  Why?

1) Succeeding had become part of who I was because I had to work myself out of poverty, in both the financial sense and the emotional sense.  (Being in poverty embeds a unique mindset in people…to be discussed in a later post).

2) My self worth was tied to my level of achievement. It’s how I measured myself. Oh man…did I just say that?!

Post LifePlan has caused a cascade of discoveries. One of them was something I already knew to some  extent, but didn’t live enough.  To live your best life, one has to grow in all areas, not just career.

Of course, I intellectually knew this. I read marriage books with my husband.  I took up running in eighth grade and never stopped.  I took personality surveys to learn how to communicate with family better.  I listened to health and wellness podcast.  Etc.

But, the fact is, that my balance tipped way more towards my career than anything.  (My Twitter profile was an example of this: it only shared who I was as an educator).

In LifePlan, your facilitator will walk you through all five domains: personal, family, vocation, god, and community.  Prior to LifePlan, so much of what I envisioned LifePlan to be was career related. Little did I know there were so many other areas I needed to dive deeper in.

I’ve spent an immense amount of time since LifePlan focusing on things other than career…making exercise more effective, communicating with my husband, contemplating how to effect community more….

I have to admit, there’s a tinge of guilt that I am not spending hours after hours reading professional material as I had done in previous summers.  But, what I learned PostLife Plan is to identify the emotion, talk about it, then grow past it.  July will led to more professional reading, but for now, growth in the other domains take priority.

The thing is, this time I am spending now, focusing on personal, family, god and community, will make me a better educator/coach later.  I’ll be a stronger person. I already am. I was the minute I left LifePlan.

Is your life balanced in these five domains?  Are you ignoring one area that could be impacting your growth in the other areas?

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