Category Archives: personal responsibility
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.
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.
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?
Choice: One of the most powerful aspects of life.
I took part in a team building activity recently. You’ve likely heard of it. It was the trust fall. We had to stand in front of our partner and fall backwards, trusting that they would catch us. Understandably so, emotions, screams and nerves were evident in our team as we took part in the activity. Afterwards we named our emotions.
The naming of our emotions out loud is powerful.
Here’s why: If we’re honest with ourselves, how many emotions do we have throughout our day(s) that we actually address head on?
How many of those emotions do you allow to stay in the depths of who you are, only to be wrestled with and overthought to to the extent that it becomes a permanent part of who you are?
Saying the emotion out loud brings clarity. It either sheds the light on it so that you can then work through it with whomever you shared it with. Or, you see the fallacy in it.
Here’s the reality though: Naming it takes risks, because you expose yourself to others. We have such a pressure to appear strong in our society, as if we don’t have struggles in life. The real goal we should be working towards is naming those struggles, exposing our realities, so then we can overcome them. Because it is through that process that we become stronger.
Naming the emotion was step 1.
Step 2: Choose to overcome it.
In our trust fall, I had a tad amount of nervousness, but I immediately made a choice. “I’m going to remain calm and not get caught up in the emotion,” is what I said to myself. I put myself in that mindset. Does that deny the emotion? Absolutely not. It simply denied it’s ability to control me.
And, the trust fall was an activity that was much easier to embrace.
You see, it’s in those moments we are made–those moments when we’re feeling emotions (which is completely human and should be validated), we name them, and we overcome them by choice.
It is as easy as that? No, it takes practice. And, there are some emotions that will necessitate a deep reflection as to the “why” of that emotion. But, having that ability to pause in the moment, name the emotion and put it in its rightful place in your life are powerful steps to take.
What emotions have you kept hidden that you need to name? What choices do you need to make about those emotions that will allow you to overcome them?
For me, courage is supreme of all core values.
I can’t speak to any other time in history, but in our current society, it’s paramount because so much in our society says we should do “x” often times at the expense of what is best for us.
After listening to Michael Hyatt’s podcast entitled “How to Achieve More by Sleeping More,” I began to write a post about sleep, particularly since there was one night I didn’t get much sleep this week and my mental, emotional and physical health didn’t even compare to the rest of the week. I wrote the post, then thought, “the message here is bigger than sleep. The message is about courage.”
As Hyatt talks about in the podcast, I hear conversations almost daily of people talking….really bragging about their lack of sleep, as if it’s a badge of honor. People even say to them “You’re amazing! I couldn’t go on four hours of sleep.”
Let’s have courage in the face of this cultural acceptance of lack of sleep and instead look at those who are disciplined with their sleep and thus more productive and happier and say to them “You’re amazing. I can do that, too.”
Does this take courage? Sure it does, because it’s going against the norm, the cultural norm.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not on a pedestal here. I am the wife of someone who owns their own business. I have a three-year-old son. And, I work full time as well. I don’t always get my sleep.
And, there will be seasons in your life where it’s necessary that you go without sleep. The goal is to not make that your norm.
Following LifePlan, I made it more of a priority and it has opened up doors like crazy. I am able to maintain emotional stability when things get stressful at home. I am able to exercise more effectively. I am able to be a more productive worker. And, I am happier.
A sobering fact was shared in Hyatt’s podcast. A research study showed that people who only got 6 hours of sleep for two weeks, functioned at the same level of impairment as someone who is legally drunk.
“We act like sleep is a luxury or an indulgence. As a result, sacrificing sleep in the name of productivity has become routine. But the opposite is true. Cheating our sleep is like maxing out our credit cards. There’s a benefit now (at least it feels like it), but the bill always comes due in the form of decreased health and mental ability.”
Have courage. Be different. Take care of yourself. Watch your achievement soar and, more importantly, your health and relationships be given the priority they deserve.
Identity is an interesting sort of thing. Do we think about it enough? Do we think about it too much? Or do we think of it in the wrong way?
Prior to LifePlan, I had ton of thoughts and frustration in my head, so much so that I spewed out about 17 pages of frustration, thoughts and revelations I had. Much of that, had to do with my work life identity. And certainly, in my head, that’s where my thoughts were. You see, I had this silly little need to be the leader I was aspiring to immediately. I had a growth mindset, but yet I couldn’t shake the frustration that I wasn’t “there” yet. My psuedo identity suffered.
Why do I say pseudo identity? Because that wasn’t my identity, I just unconsciously put all my ducks there. I was and needed to be more than just my career. I know this because I was struggling in my marriage. My intensity of exercise decreased. I was just lacking in so many areas. But, my thoughts focused on the leader I wasn’t yet. I thought that was my biggest issue.
I loved that LifePlan walks you through five domains (personal, family, god, vocation and community). Because my thoughts were heavy into career, but in the back of my mind, it was gnawing at me that I felt “deficit” as a mother, wife and athlete. LifePlan allowed me to refocus and become “whole again.”
I’ve listened to Matt Ham’s podcast, Whole Life Matters, Episode 1 three times now. (Yes, folks, it’s that good).
In this podcast, Matt talks about his focus on “whole life” in his work. He felt like he came to this after getting his identity from the work on his book, Redefine Rich.
I freakin’ love his honesty. Here’s why: honesty and truth in one person, somehow allows the same to be released in another. I heard that and without pause I said to myself “me, too!” For so long, I got my identity through work, through achievement. (There’s reasons for that in my root system, including a challenging childhood). LifePlan opened up the doors again for me to focus on all aspects of my life.
I’ve stated before, that after LifePlan, it’s up to me to “make something of it.” This is why I’m so glad I’ve discovered Matt’s podcast. It’s exactly what I need at this point as I maintain my “wholeness.” And, that’s awesome, because let me tell you, it’s a great feeling!
Where do you get your identity from? Are you being honest with yourself about that? Where are your thoughts, energies and time spent the most? Is that where they should be spent?
LifePlan gave me the perspective, tools and plan I need to carry out my best life. But, it doesn’t mean that I will be without struggle.
Because I am human and I am flawed…there will be times when I…
1. Have to remind myself that my self worth doesn’t come from achievements or other people
2. Respond with emotional immaturity in a heated discussion
3. Don’t respond with enough grace
4. Have to fight off self doubt
5. Am too hard on myself
6. Don’t think I’m achieving enough
7. Struggle with a multitude of things
But, here’s what Lifeplan caused: An ability to catch myself in these moments and respond with self-knowledge and to calmly ask “why” am I responding this way. I can pause and ask “What in my root system is causing me to react the way I am?” What LifePlan gave me was a tool to overcome emotional immaturity (yes, we all have that at times!) It allows me to identify the roadblock, gain perspective on it and work through it so that it doesn’t hold me and my relationships back.
Was LifePlan transformative? Yes, but there was no wave of a magic wand that suddenly fixed my flaws. But, it gave me something even better, the tools to overcome them myself.