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Life's Little Lessons

"If you ask me what I came into this life to do, I will tell you: I came to live out loud." – Emile Zola

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Be Brave

A couple weeks ago, I was bartending and as bartending goes, I was privy to hearing things. Two friends were talking about a friend they had in common whom had been struggling with depression and had recently been hospitalized for it. I heard “nut house” amongst other not nice things and it made me kind of grumpy as I finished my work. Sometimes you can’t unhear what you’ve heard despite all your best attempts to forget that you had.

Obviously, it wasn’t the kindest conversation. In fact, I felt they were rather brutal in talking about their so-called “friend” who had obviously been struggling and they appeared to have little to no sympathy for him. It broke my heart and made me think on the subject here weeks later. Here’s why.

All of us have probably received the news that someone that we loved, someone that we knew or someone that we knew of committed suicide. In my short forty-five years, I have had several acquaintances succumb to the depths of depression and lost their will to fight. And every time I hear of it, my thoughts are always the same: “I had no idea because they seemed like they had perfectly “normal” life. I wonder if they reached out for help. Did anyone know they were struggling?” Trying to wrap my head around such tragedies always throws me off-kilter, as it should.

And here I was again off-kilter as I listened to these friends make fun of and belittle someone for checking themselves into the hospital. It was taken lightly and ridiculed. I’m sure I would have been privy to a different conversation had their brave friend chosen not to get help. This needs to change.

There’s a stigma attached to reaching out for help, especially when it comes to mental health. No one should struggle. No one should have such thoughts or reach such depths. No one should fall a part and reach that level of vulnerability because when they do, they tend to be looked upon negatively in many different ways.

Weak.

Incompetent.

Crazy.

A danger not only to themselves but to others.

How do I know these things? I’ve been told these things by good and well-meaning people.

Personally.

A year ago today I got up on a Saturday morning and cleaned the house. I did the laundry and folded the towels. I made meals for my family and lined them into neat and tidy rows in the fridge and then I drove myself to the hospital, went straight to the ER and told the check-in nurse I needed to speak to someone in crisis.

Because I was in one.

I hadn’t harmed myself or anyone else but I was severely depressed, had stopped eating the week before and my thought life was a spiraling mess. I kept thinking I would get better on my own but the reality was I was scared that one day, in just one moment, I wouldn’t be able to fight the thoughts I had been having off any longer.

Looking back now, it was, without a doubt, one of the bravest decisions I’ve ever made and it showed me a lot about who I am. In all the right ways.

Since that day a year ago today, I’ve fought a hard battle but have persevered thanks to the love and support of my family and friends, particularly my children. I found a good therapist who helped me understand how and why I got to where I was and a good psychiatrist who did not think I was crazy or needed labeled with a permanent diagnosis, but rather realized how present day circumstances and our environment contributes to one’s mental health state. It’s been a year of hard work, taking ownership, assigning responsibility, establishing boundaries, accepting what is, letting go and looking to the future, but I’ve kicked some major ass and made it through. At the end of this week, I will be released from my doctors care. I did not take the chicken exit and am making it through to the other side. Happy Anniversary to me indeed.

But I have more to do.

God has been faithful and ever-present and for that, I am incredibly thankful. It’s been a humbling journey and I have learned a great deal about God, myself and others. If you ever find yourself sitting with a friend on the other side of the bar at a Beer Stube, remember your words and that everyone you meet is fighting a battle of some sort and sometimes, those battles are incredibly painful and hard. Once more, we need to do better. We have to. The ones that reach out for help are not weak, but brave. They need encouraged and supported. Not dismissed or jeered.

And if you’re like me and ever find yourself in a position where you need help of any kind, don’t go it alone. Don’t wake up day in and day out scared of your thoughts. I don’t care who you are or what you do. I don’t care of the title you hold or your position in the community, get the help you need. Don’t listen to the lies telling you you’ve failed or that’s it’s all your fault or if you were stronger or more this and less that, you would be better. Don’t listen to your Churches stance on medication and mental health. Pay no mind to what other people think or what they might say.

There is never ever shame in being brave and asking for help. Ever. I am with you.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

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Tapped Out

Last weekend I came home from a two-week trip; one week to California to celebrate my daughter’s graduation and the other to South Carolina to visit my grandson and his parents (in that order). Since both my daughter and son are in the military, intentional time with them is not only necessary, it is precious. It was a fantastic two-weeks packed full of new adventures and good memories and I’m grateful I was able to set the time and money aside. If you ever want to know why I have a part-time job at a Beer Stube…this.

But here a week later, I find myself waking up already tired for the day. Already behind. Already done. I realize I’ve been going non-stop since I got home. Life is good, but a busy life can be a draining life and I am drained.

So yesterday I said no to something I really wanted to say yes to and reset my life. I went slow, took a nap, was intentional with my conversations, did the dishes and ended up in bed on time. It was a conflicting decision to make but one that needed made because when you are tapped out mentally and physically, chances are it’s because you haven’t been taking the best care of yourself.

And I haven’t.

In the last three weeks, I’ve traveled thousands of miles in theory and in reality. I sat on seven different airplanes and heard the same speech seven different times. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival, you may ask? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask.

Looking back now, I probably didn’t have my own oxygen mask on this past week, maybe the past three. The over-achiever in me has died a gruelingly painful death over last few years and I no longer have the desire to collect the accolades and trophies that I did in my 20’s and 30’s, but I do feel the pressure to pack my life full of activity and maximize my time by doing all I can and making the next 45 years better than the last. And the last couple weeks have been packed full and then some.

And I know I am not alone. Many of us have homes we rarely live in, tables we rarely eat at and dogs we rarely walk. We are busy for all sorts of different reasons both intentional and precious, but if we are not careful, we get distracted by our busyness while little foxes sneak in and steal our time and our energy, leaving us waging battles on foreign grounds.

If life in the slow lane appeals to you, as it does me, here are some things I’ve found helpful to escape the rat race and enjoy a simpler, healthier life (even in the midst of a very large and crazy one):

  • Choose 3 things to accomplish each day. I know, you could probably come up with a list of 100 things, but don’t. You don’t need to prove anything so keep this number manageable and small. Keeping the list this size will force you to decide what’s really important day to day. Trust me. When you finish the list, the rest of the day is yours to do whatever you want to, not have With this approach you’ll be completing 21 important tasks a week. Seriously, I feel like I am winning at life when I go low and slow. If you do your three things and still feel like you’re drowning or being hit by a train repeatedly, reevaluate your commitments.
  • Learn to say “no.” Stop taking on more responsibility. Again, you will not win a prize for being the most stressed-out overachiever in your circle of friends. Volunteering is a noble way to spend your time, but stretching yourself too thin can rob you of what and who you say is important to you.
  • Be unproductive.Even if you can only manage 20 minutes a day at first, do it. Don’t read anything to further your career or impress your friends. Do something useless like walking into the yard in your bare feet just to feel the earth between your toes. Pick the honeysuckles that grace the farmers field and then try to get the “honey” out of suckle. Sit on the floor with your dog and get all covered in their hair. Dig back into your memory bank, because most of this stuff are things you probably did as a kid when your gusto for living a simpler life was the real deal.
  • Only check your email twice a day. This includes twitter, Facebook, stocks, sports scores, blog stats – anything. Checking these sites can become an addictive habit which steals time you could spend doing stuff that actually brings you joy.
  • Embrace quality over quantity. Listen to your Knower. Know what you need in the season of life that you are in and then hone in on it. Become a Specialist in that particular area. Listen to those Podcasts, read those books, go to those places, with those You don’t have to do or know it all, but what you do and what you do know, show up and give it your best.
  • Find a hobby. This is YOUR oxygen mask. Most times, we are too busy doing for others that we forget to do for ourselves. If you’ve been fed the lie that taking time for yourself is selfish, let me be your truth teller. You are essential personnel. The end. Find an oxygen mask and then regularly use it.
  • Spend time with people you love. Have you ever stopped and thought about WHY you are doing what you are doing? WHY is your life going 100 MPH? WHY are you working all the time? WHY are you ragged and worn out? Is your answer bringing you closer to or further from your inner circle of people? Relationships form the backbone of life. Sharing who you are, your hopes and your fears with another human is the surest way to slow down and enjoy life. Without close contact with other people, we grow into cold, lonely doings instead of human beings. I don’t want that and neither do you. Make time single.day to spend with the people in your life that you love. Nothing else is worth doing.

The truth is, you can do all these things; you can say no all day long and be as unproductive as you want while your feet are buried in your backyard’s dirt but if you are not intentionally being present in the moment that you are in, slowing it down won’t matter. You need to figure out, why you’re tapped out because sometimes, a day at home won’t make things better. They won’t make YOU better.

Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place.

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Last Night

When we’ve gone through something enough times and we get sick and tired of being “sick and tired“, we promise ourselves that next time, if faced with a similar and familiar situation, we will do better. We will make different choices. We will respond differently. We will do anything but be…sick and tired.

And I have been doing well. I’ve placed my feet upon the path of health *not happiness* and each day I’ve drawn a new breath and a had stronger step. But the other night, there I was. Face to face with a situation that was oddly similar and familiar.

Same story. Different day.

And through it, it brought up an immense amount of fear, an entire of ocean of it to be exact and I found myself drowning somewhere in the middle. No one likes to drown. I’m done drowning. It’s the sick and tired” I no longer want to subject myself to.

So, I swam. I swam far far away out of tide that was trying to pull me under. In reality, I literally hopped into my Jeep and didn’t look back and when I got home, I sat under the carport and cried.

And after things settled, and they always do, I was able to sit and listen to Truth and identify what was the similar and familiar that I could not quite put my finger on in the moment and call it by name.

Rejection.

Same story. Different day. Different person.

Here’s the things about rejection. It’s NOT a person though it is easy to attach a name with a face. It’s not one particular heartbreak. It’s a wound. A lie. An evil spirit from the pits of hell. It bides its time and patiently waits. It uses any hosts it can find without permission. People will show up in our lives as unsuspecting pawns in a game our emotional wounds try to play with us and unbeknownst to them, old situations arise in us that are similar and familiar and we are faced with the choice to sink or swim.

Or drive far far away.

The thing with rejection is that it feeds you the lie that you are not good enough which makes you feel small and insignificant. Flip the coin. Same story, different day…it can also feed you the lie that you are too much. Too much to handle. Too complicated or too messy. Heads or tails. It whispers one or the other.

Both lies place a heaviness in your heart that’s suffocating. A heaviness that makes you feel “bad” for being who you are, like if you could just mathematically fit into the equation, things would be different. But they are not different because here you are, finding yourself in a similar and familiar situation because you are feeling rejected and with rejection brings shame because if you had been more than or perhaps just a tad less….

And it’s your fault, so you apologize.

“I am sorry for being me.”

And that apology leaves your insides raw and achy because you know that you’ve stopped another layer of your identity away so you can be less or more of the person someone else wants you to be.

I wish I could go back in that moment the other night and know at that moments notice what I was dealing with but I didn’t. I just know what was taking place was hurting and I took that hurt personal. I made it about me. Things weren’t going the way I had hoped because there was something I was doing or perhaps not doing right. If I had been dot dot dot, things would be different.

Lies. Just lies.

Days later, here’s some things I’ve recognized:

1. There is no once and done. Learning, or rather, unlearning, is a life-long process. As Maya Angelou once said,

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

And each day after that, do your best until you know even better. And so on and so forth. It’s how this one wild life works. It’s not a race or a competition so go easy on others and yourself. I truly believe at the end of the day, we are all truly doing the best we can.

2.  Most likely what you are “sick and tired” of will chase you around your whole entire life unless you deal with it, and not once and done deal with it but continually and intentionally deal with it. You are not Jesus and are not the embodiment of perfection. Rejection has been my nemesis. My lie. My inner wound. Do I recognize it right away? Not always. Am I doing better with calling it by name and seeing it for what it is? Absolutely. Someday I’ll stand face to face before it and I won’t run. I won’t need a stone or a sling to knock it off kilter. I’ll just stand and rest in know that I am neither not enough or too much. I am who I am. I will just be.

3. I am not one to avoid confrontation. I am learning to say my thoughts and express my needs without being an asshole, to respond rather than react. I’m not necessarily afraid of that though I do not enjoy it. I don’t need someone to agree with me, in fact I question relationships that agree on everything because we are all different and unique with different and unique thoughts and experiences and yet we tend to show up to the table the same? Come on. I don’t buy it.

What scares me is that we out one another. We cross each other off our lists because we value being right more so than being in relationship with one another. So rather than be crossed off someone’s list, I’d rather run away or build a high wall to protect myself. I am afraid of is being vulnerable, of showing up and then being rejected for it.

These are thoughts that I’ve had since the other night. Knowing why you sink or swim or erect a high wall is important. Ask the question: What is going on inside of me? It’s revolutionary question because there is always an answer and that answer will help you do better next time.

4. Don’t take anything personally. My face-to-face situation that was oddly similar and familiar from the other day had nothing to do with me being not enough or too much even though my feelings told me so. The person in the situation was not trying to be malicious or harmful. How I felt actually had nothing to do with them either. Rejection is a blame-shifter. Since it won’t take responsibility for being an asshole, it tries to make everyone take the fall. We are all journeying along, reacting or responding to life and to one another. Keep your focus on where it needs to be.

5. I’d be remiss not to mention that I walked into the situation with high hopes. It’s enticing to go with the vision that pops into your head of how you think things are going to go and run with it. Needless to say, expectations, even seemingly good ones, can lead to being disappointed, which ultimately can lead a person with high hopes *like me* to feeling rejected.

6. Forgive and move on. I realize I still have healing to do which just embodies everything above I’ve previously mentioned. There is no once and done when it comes to healing a deep wound and forgetting it and calling it healed it doesn’t work. Forgiveness does. Do it with yourself and others and get on with it and when it come back up, which it will, do it again and again and move forward. If you don’t, it only reattaches the wound to you so you can drudge a heavy ball and chain through the mire and much creating more of a mess. Forgive and move on.

7. Jesus. ALL of Him in ALL of this. Always. The end.

Friends, my words of advice are to keep at it. Simple and sweet. Wherever you are at, keep going. Do the best you can with your one wild life. I think that’s the very best thing we can do with it.

 

The Opportunity to be Inconvenienced

For quite some time, whale watching has been on my list of things that I’d like to do and this past week, I had the opportunity to cross it off the imaginary pad of “someday maybes” that fill my head. I got to see one Humpback whale along the coast of California and it was an amazing sight but as sights go, once and done was once enough.

When we boarded the boat, we immediately sat in the back on one of the bench seats because in theory, it would make the best seat for sight seeing. It didn’t. It did however make the best seat to get wet *as in soaking* We eventually found our way into the cabin and sat beside a young couple with a baby visiting the states for the first time from the UK. In my good opinion, babies are better to watch than searching the ocean for a blowhole so it didn’t take long till we were talking because their baby looked close to the same age as my grandson.

Thankfully, my oldest daughter is wiser than me and we made the trip to Target to purchase Dramamine prior to our adventure. However, the young couple from the UK did not and it wasn’t long before baby Leo was thrust into my arms for half the trip because his parents became increasingly seasick.

Long story short, I got to see a Humpback whale, tail flip and all so I got my monies worth but in the in-between times, I ended up watching someone else’s baby…a baby who was also increasingly seasick. I won’t gore you with details of the experience but use your imagination and we’ll be on the same page. The captain of the boat ended up offering me two free tickets for a future trip because he felt badly but the truth was, I was grateful I got to help. I can only imagine being so sick that you literally hand your three-month old baby over to the stranger beside you because you can’t take care of him yourself.

It broke my heart.

In the end, I declined the free tickets because I think we all have opportunities in this one, wild life to be a helper and on that day, in that boat, was mine. When the moment is before us to step in and hold space *or hold a baby* for someone else, it doesn’t always look pretty and it usually cost us something *like a clean jacket and pair of pants* It’s how it goes. It’s an exchange that should not have a price tag attached to it because extending your heart or your hand to another is the one of the greatest expressions of God’s love that we have to offer to one another.

If you have an opportunity today to be a helper, take it. Be inconvenienced in the best possible way. I can guarantee you, it is worth it.

The Pursuit of Happiness

The other night I was standing in the yard when my youngest wrapped her arms around my waist and whispered, “Mom, I want you to be happy.” I breathed in deeply and closed my eyes realizing she had intentionally sought me out. The longing in her own heart broke mine and I could do nothing to mend it but exhale.

Happiness. I don’t long for it.

It seems that many of us have been pursuing the Wall Street version of happiness with a vengeance, like the 2006 blockbuster “Pursuit of Happyness,” in which Will Smith and his real-life son become best buddies in an epic journey from rags to riches. It’s no wonder that, in the minds of many of us today, the “pursuit of happiness” is unconsciously equated with the pursuit of wealth and security.

Conventional history and popular wisdom attribute the phrase to the genius of Thomas Jefferson when in an imaginative leap, he replaced the third term of John Locke’s trinity “Life, Liberty and Property” to “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness in the Declaration of Independence. However in 1776, the definition of happiness evoked a different meaning than it does today. The term happiness comes from the Old Norse term happ meaning “luck” or “chance.” Given the culture the term was penned in, it made sense to say “the pursuit of” because earning a living and gathering property in one’s own self interest was not a freedom given to all men at that time. Times were changing.

And in today’s world, we have taken the term quite literally and have run with it. We believe the notion that the “pursuit of” and eventually the “having” will make us happy without realizing that often the pursuit of happiness leads us to crossroads where we get to make hard choices, many that bring unfortunate compromises. The “pursuit of” is a complicated and often convoluted path where we start putting our own *and often selfish* interest first. The very things and people we say are most important to us, often get pushed aside for the sake of obtaining something we think will make us happy. We make harmful and often dangerous choices in the name of being happy and temporarily swooned however, I find when you step outside of yourself to go after the things you think will make you happy, the anti gets upped and the happiness you once sought after ends up never being enough and on and on you go.

Don’t get me wrong, being happy is important, but happy times pass because time passes. The pursuit of happiness is elusive; it is life-long and it is not goal-centered. I believe deeply we all long to pursue a meaningful life but often take short-cuts that are not healthy and sadly, in the long run, our choices only harm those we love and wreck our future hopes of a “meaningful” life.

Happiness indeed is an inside job.

Healthiness on the other hand brings happiness, in my good opinion. It is definitely the slower, less scenic and more crooked path. In Scripture, Jesus went from town to town healing unhealthy people. Chronic illness, demon-possession…Jesus was in the healing business. Not once have I read of Jesus laying his hands on someone and making them “happy” but He did heal their sight by reminding them of WHO they were and WHO He was. It was in their healing that Life, Liberty, but most importantly, Love was found because they had encountered Jesus first hand.

If you are in pursuit of happiness, I encourage you to take a step back and shift your focus and pursue healthiness instead. Avoid short cuts, distractions and the momentarily feel goods. Remember WHO you are and walk with integrity and honor because it’s in your DNA. Guard your heart and your thoughts and be mindful and intentional about what you allow into both. If you don’t, you may be pursuing happiness when it is healthiness you are seeking most.

It Is What It Is

You do a lot of praying. You cry and you lament and before you know it, one day turns into two and two in ten. You loose count of the week or the month or the year, but your heart reminds you of the loss and through it, the ache deepens. Your relationship hasn’t changed. Your health hasn’t. Your job is still the same. It is what it is.

Acceptance is a small quiet room. – Cheryl Strayed

One that is often padded.

Getting to the point of accepting what you wish or hoped would be different is a very hard and often lonely process. It’s a quiet resolve you make within yourself day after day to get up and show up. It doesn’t mean you’ve stopped praying or lamenting or crying, it just means you’ve begun living a new normal because the alternative is not an option. Acceptance is like having a wound hidden under the skin. You can’t see it and no one knows that it’s there and those that know, stop asking about it because they have their own wounds to attend to. It’s done its best to heal, but there’s a scar that’s naked to the eye so everything appears to be normal, but your not. When you are alone at night or the noise from the crowd dies down, your heart reminds you that you’re still longing for things to be different.

And with acceptance comes choices. You can choose do something or you can choose do nothing. Both have a cost. It is up to you and you alone to decide the course that you take with what you have so once more, you find yourself doing a lot of praying. You cry and you lament and one day turns into two and two into ten. No choice is easy and change doesn’t happen over night.

Changing the course of the stream, or dealing new cards, whatever metaphor you want to use, takes a lot of energy, a lot of wisdom and an immense amount of courage. There are times when it goes so wrong that you will barely be alive, and times when you realize that being barely alive, but getting up every day and trying to do what is best, is better than living a bloated half-life in a situation that is not.

When your situation won’t change, you must. It may not seem fair but life does not take sides nor does it try to even out the scales. You need to remind yourself and allow yourself to be reminded by others that you are a powerful person. You get to choose to rise up out of the ashes. You can sit and wallow or you can stand up and shake off the debris and take a step. Both are choices that you get to make.

Because in the end, it’s not so much that you are changed but revealed. Grief is a double edge sword. You mourn not only your outside loss but your inside heartbreak that needs contended with.

If there are any words of advice I could give you, it is this. Let it happen. Let YOU happen. You are worth the process. I wish I could that it is easy. I wish I could say that I am through to the other side and living my best and most happiest life, but I’m not. I’m in the thick of things like most and the pain is as real as it was on day one.

But I will not sit back down and wallow, neither should you. There is more of us to be revealed. We have an entire world watching, waiting for us to happen. There is more to us than this.

Own It

A couple of weeks ago, I showed up at the vet for an appointment with two dogs only to be told, “I’m sorry. Your appointment isn’t until tomorrow.” But it was on my calendar. I vividly remember booking the appointment the week before and going over the date. Could I be wrong? Perhaps. Do I think I was? I truly don’t.

And tomorrow didn’t suit.

I have had happier moments. And apparently kinder ones.

And this week, another vet appointment. I walked into the reception area and was greeted with a smile from the vet tech, the same vet tech whom said several weeks ago, “I’m sorry. Your appointment isn’t until tomorrow.”

As soon as I saw her, I remembered that I wasn’t quite the kindest as I walked out the door with two dogs wrapped around my feet who were most likely wondering why the heck they were walking in and then quickly walking back out.

Silence and *possible* stomping speaks rather loudly.

Truth was, I was mad. Was it because I cleared my morning and loaded two excitable dogs into my Jeep and drove across town which is never easy or convenient during a work day? Was it because I didn’t want to be wrong and admit I may have made a mistake with the date? Was I expecting whomever made my appointment to be held to a higher standard, one of perfection, than I myself would be willing to held to?

Grace indeed is a crooked road.

But is a doable one.

As soon as I sat down, I apologized. I told the vet tech I was sorry for not being the kindest the last time I was there and I left it at that and made no excuses.

She accepted my apology and told me that my silence *and my stomping* didn’t quite seem like me and maybe I was just having a bad day. Perhaps other things were going on.

Boy were they ever.

I wish I could say that I *never* behave badly and that I am the poster child for good behavior but I obviously have my moments and some of those moments are rather large. I take my frustration out on innocent people after I allow it to build its home in me deep and wide. Through a series of unfortunate events, I’m learning that it’s important to recognize the WHY and then make amends with the HOW.

It’s important when you realize that you’ve stepped outside yourself to allow your heart to be searched so you can figure out what is REALLY going on in it. I wish I could say that I could do the figuring out all on my own but I can’t. I get snippets here and snippets there but if I really want to be the person I say I want to be, to be the person that God says I already am, then I need His help. And He gives it.

And when He gives it, there is always a small charge, a price to pay on my end. Recognizing my error or places of potential growth usually cost me the things that I often try to hold dear and close like pride, the very presentation of myself. It’s humbling to make the journey to the offering slab and lay my heart in front of another person and ask for forgiveness and admit I made a mistake.

It’s called vulnerability.

You cannot change without searching your heart and taking responsibility for your behavior. You are kidding yourself if you think you can maneuver around this process and negate this step. And if you are in a relationship with another person who refuses to take ownership of their actions and would rather place blame then take ownership, you are in a relationship with a stubborn-hearted person and the same pattern will most likely cycle back around again and repeat themselves. It’s the very definition of insanity.

If your heart gets checked and you realize that you’ve stepped outside yourself an inch or two…own it. Say you are sorry. Be sincere. Don’t make excuses. And if your heart is rarely checked…you are the author and perfector of your own faith and I wish you well.

It is very hard to be in a relationship with someone who is never wrong.

The Crooked Road

Be careful listening to anyone trying to “sell” you something that will “make” you something.

Happier.

Skinner.

More energized.

Whatever.

Doctors will prescribe pills. Friends will try to sell you their coffee or their wraps. Your pastor will point you to Jesus *and I’ll join Him to an extent*

But in the end…

It all comes down to YOU. Nothing is going to “fix” you or “make” you turn into the person you want to be except YOU.

Hard truth.

Pills can help *temporarily* but they are not a fix. Talking it through, looking at hard things, taking responsibility, establishing boundaries and extending continual forgiveness are pretty good helpers.

Coffee and wraps? Heck I don’t actually know anything about these things but I do know that eating real food, being consistent with exercising and getting good sleep are great helpers.

And Jesus? He is not your Genie and He does carry a magic wand. Rarely have I heard a prayer come to be that was not attached to someone’s intentional action post prayer; their willingness to be changed along with their fortitude and humility. He promises to walk with you but you’ve got to show up and do the work and the work is hard, especially when it comes to your heart. The good news is, the Spirit of Jesus is the most excellent Helper. He has my vote.

So if you are looking for a “fix”, you will most likely keep looking for a slew of them your whole life and may fall for whatever is out there that seems quick and easy. Take it from me, there is no quick and easy anything to change the “you” you want to be.

You can read all the self-help books you want but if you don’t consistently apply the authors principles to your life, all you’ve done is read a really good book that someone else wrote. Someone who actually took the crooked road to grace because change, especially lasting change, is hard and it’s ugly…

But it can be done.

Gather your troops and find your tribe.

Change rarely happens on your own.

Overheated

Since I made the decision to take the front two panels of my Jeep off this summer, I’ve been able to drive it three out of seven days due to rain. In lieu of my Jeep, I’ve been behind the wheel of a school minivan or my daughter’s car. If you want to live your best life, drive a school van through town.

The thing with my daughter’s car is that it used to be my mother’s car. And then it was my oldest daughters. Then temporarily my sons. And now another daughter. It’s been faithful but it is tired and says “To hell with the Meyers” and has officially given up.

But I didn’t know this. The truth, I heard that the car was having a lot of problems but I wasn’t really listening.

Yesterday I needed to take the car to a graduation party due to a storm. Sadly, when I got there, my engine was hot and overheating. When I left the party, my eyes were on the gauges and it didn’t take long before I had to pull over, not once, but three times to complete the five mile trek home.

I realized though this what a hardship it is for people with unreliable transportation because it truly was not only dangerous for me to be in that car, but most likely dangerous for others on the road with me not to mention money and time no one has. If this is your reality, I am truly sorry. I have a school van you could borrow.

I also realized that I had not really been listening to my daughter as she explained her car troubles to me. There was another car for her to take and she worked it out with her father but it was not affecting me personally therefore I did not really listen.

But I WAS listening *loud and clear* because it was affecting me and that reality put a bad taste in my mouth. I didn’t want to be that person who listened half-assed…and I was.

And lastly, it showed me to pay attention. I drove the whole way to the party oblivious only to realize when I turned the engine off and had smoke billowing out the front that the car was majorly overheating. I did not make that mistake twice. I drove home with my eyes glued to the temperature gauge.

Awareness is key. Once you know something, it is hard to unknow it unless you simply don’t care and in that case, you might as well say good bye to your car, or the relationship you say you care about…maybe even your job.

It you want to avoid massive blow-ups in life, it is wise to take the time to listen, even if it doesn’t personally affect you. Listen not just so YOU can be prepared, but so that you can be the type-of-person that really cares about what SOMEONE ELSE is walking through. Then from there, pay attention to the gauges on your dash and be present. There are all sorts of “gauges” in life that indicate what is right and what is wrong.

Save yourself some heartache and unnecessary frustration. Take it from me, listen and pay attention.

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