I am totally guilty of this.
We have been forced to take a harder look at ourselves in the mirror and ask ourselves- What DRIVES me. What am I PASSIONATE about. Why did God put YOU here right now, at this time, in this city, surrounded by these people. What stirs up my heart? What do I HATE about what I see around me? What problems need to be solved? What strengths and talents have I been give that I not just can, but MUST use to make a difference in this world? What do I need to spend LESS time doing? What do I need to spend MORE time doing?
It has been such an amazing time of reflection, but at the same time, of chaos. Our house has turned from being neat and polished for the holidays, to a dumping ground for toys, puppy paraphernalia, books, papers, and a lot of other junk.
A few weeks ago, I decided to pull my boot straps up and get to work. By the time I collapsed in my bed at 3 am, I had accomplished 3 loads of laundry, 2 loads of dishes, a clean kitchen, dusted house, clean bathroom, Ben’s room clean (he was sleeping in my bed with Jason, thankfully), a packed toddler (for a weekend at grandma's), 50 of my 66 email responses, all text messages and phone calls, and for the first time in weeks I finally felt like I could tackle this monster.
While I was dusting and organizing Ben’s room, I started to take note of things I pass by daily but rarely stop to note. His changing table, diaper storage, tiny socks hidden behind the dresser, rattles and teethers still in the toy box. Tears filled my eyes as I dusted his chair-rail and baseboards. I remembered setting that room up for the first time just a few weeks before he made his grand entrance and wondering what life was going to be like with a baby. I pictured sitting in that room night after night in the now barely used rocker, nursing my sweet tiny miracle and thanking God for him. I remember the sounds, the emotions, the exhaustion and anticipation.
What would this boy be like? What would his little voice sound like? Would he look more like me or Jason? What will his interests be? How can I best teach him about Jesus and how to love God with his whole heart, soul and mind? Am I going to be good at this Mom thing?
And yet here we are. All alive and well. Ben has turned out to exceed my expectations in every way, and I am positive he will continue to do so- and I don't pretend to have had much to do with it. I have learned just a tiny bit more of what God’s love is for us in the way that I love my son.
Both 2013 and 2014 have brought some of the biggest challenges of my life, and yet also the biggest lessons, growth and rewards. In the course of 2 years we have had the mourn the loss of 4 sweet babies, and learned how truly delicate, and precious human life is.
I learned how to turn that mourning into dancing (literally, most times :)) and how to fuel that same energy into something positive. I learned that although I certainly spent necessary time grieving, how amazing and powerful it felt to overcome even my own emotions and funnel it into changing someone else’s life. Go figure.
I think above all else I finally began to understand the sacredness of life, and how quickly the years pass. That time is the only thing you can never, ever get back. Our days our numbered and I am determined to spend mine well. And that circumstance is NOT the lord of my life. God is, and He is perfect and loving, and I can trust in Him.
That has allowed me to look at circumstances and try to find the lesson in them. Circumstances are all too often not in our control, but our reaction and response to them ALWAYS is. I truly believe our response to our current circumstance largely impacts the circumstances we find ourselves in in the future.
As always, it is an incredibly imperfect process. And I am SO ok with that! In fact, that’s why I started by blog. A big ol’ celebration of IMPERFECT processes, and imperfect progress.
So to sum it all up, I figure I'll share with you the 6 main things I learned in 2014 (and in true ELS style, a challenge for 2015):
- The importance of being present in relation to accomplishing goals- and pretty much everything else in life. (If you live in the past or the future, you will not accomplish your goals.)
- Motions precede Emotions (John Maxwell) -- and along that note, how to turn mourning into dancing. (spoiler alert- when you're in mourning, you JUST. START. DANCING.)
- That circumstances are often out of our control but our response to them is entirely in our control. (Control, you seek? Start by controlling your reactions.)
- Sacredness of life (Talk about out of our control).
- Time is the only non-refundable commodity (Spend it well).
- Most times, things don’t go according to plan. Plan accordingly. (And always have a good book with you at all times. See #2 and #3)
- Prepare, do, review (Time wasted always planning is never spent in ACTION. Sometimes it's all Ready, fire, aim. Learn from your mistakes.)
2015 6-STEP CHALLENGE: 21 Day Process Project, but each day focus on being present all day, every day.
STEP ONE: (Sorry, step one is like a 3 in 1)
1) Identify 3 things you are GREAT at. What are your strengths?
(ie: Relating to people, connecting to people, inspiring others, making people laugh, listening, etc)
2) Identify 3 areas where you can improve.
(ie: not worrying about what people think of you, implementing tools to reduce stress, etc)
3) Identify 3 things that will be different about YOU (not your circumstance, not your schedule, just YOU) and state them in the present. (ie: I am more confident. I am bold. I am a loving mom who is patient and kind with her children.... etc)
Now, WRITE THEM DOWN. If you have just been thinking of those things in your mind, now is the time to write them. Plain and clear. Think of Habakuk 2:2, “Write the vision. Make it plain and clear.” and Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” On that note- do you realize that you need vision in EVERY area of your life? Not just business ventures and weight loss goals? I challenge you to consider your vision for your marriage, as a parent, your vision for your relationships… etc.
Post it somewhere. Somewhere you’ll look every single day. On your fridge. On your steering wheel. I post things on my bathroom mirror that I don’t want to miss. I regularly keep bible verses and names of people I want to pray for throughout the day pasted on there.
What if someone sees it?! AWESOME. Now you get the chance to pay it forward. Don't get all awkward. OWN it. This is YOUR life… YOU have to live it, YOU are responsible for it. Not anyone else.
Be present. EVERY. DAY.
That’s it. I don’t want you to obsess about working out for 10 minutes every day, or not eating any fried foods. All I want you to do now, now that your vision is plain and clearly stated and you will read it multiple times each day, is BE PRESENT.
Here is why- When you KNOW your goals, and your subconscious is focused on that, the only missing piece is focusing on what you’re doing RIGHT now.
Several people who started the first "Process Project" fell off about 7-9 days in. Most likely because it became reactionary. It's 9pm and you're like- crap what did I do today in regards to my process!? They didn't really take the time to dig deep to discover their goal, and then find the why of the why of the why. That's called purpose. And if you forget about your purpose until 9pm, let's just say, honey, you ain't dreamin big enough.
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson says it lil this, "The first step in achieving your goal is to take a moment to RESPECT your goal. Know what it means to you to achieve it."
When you're reading about The Process Project that's the "Why of the why of the why" part of it.
When you KNOW your goal, and you’re 100% present, you make the right choice.
Spend TEN MINUTES each day reflecting on that day. At the end of the night before bed, go wherever you need to go to be alone, grab a notebook, set a timer if necessary, and reflect on that day. What went well, what could have gone better? Ask God to open your heart and show you areas of improvement, and also to highlight the things that went well. Use that time to make mental notes of mistakes you won’t remake the next day. Be careful not to have a judgmental attitude towards yourself and your shortcomings, but instead be excited and proud of yourself for taking this time to invest in yourself.
***Blog coming soon about how selfish it is to keep your focus on all your weaknesses. Until then, think about this verse: 1 Corinthians 12:10 " My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of CHrist, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities.For when I am weak THEN I am strong."
Spread the word. There is POWER in numbers. I have an OVERWHELMING urge for #TheProcessProject to blow up all over the country. And this is why- TOO MANY PEOPLE ARE FAILING in life- in their marriage, as parents, as friends, in their jobs, etc. And each time we fail, our faith grows weaker. I know because that was me (and could be me if I don't keep a close eye on things)! I was always so great at starting things and terrible at finishing them. Each time I quit something, I had a line up of really great reasons (read: excuses) for not completing it. And although on the outside I kept things calm and like I had it all in control, inside me I was becoming insecure and my fear of stepping out of my comfort zone grew stronger, while my faith grew weaker. Each little failure added fuel to the fire of defeat.
It took getting MAJORLY uncomfortable OVER and OVER and OVER again before I finally began to realize I wasn’t destined for failure. But it would take work to get out of that vicious cycle.
Working with hundreds of clients over the years I have seen people fail and I have seen people succeed, and there is only ONE difference. The process. That was IT. One quit on the process, the other plugged away day after day. (If you haven't already, read more at "The Process")
That is striking a cord in some of you right now! Some maybe are even feeling a little bit offended. But here’s the deal, you can’t fail if you don’t quit. And if you quit, you failed! And if you're offended by that, I probably can't help you.
But it’s not over yet. If you’re reading this, that means you still have a pulse. And if you still have a pulse you still have an opportunity. You and I can lock arms and hold each other up when we feel like quitting again.
There is such a need in our society to stop focusing on the shiny objects and start focusing on being PRESENT in the PROCESS. Will you help me do that? Help me spread this message. If it tugged at your heart strings, chances are it will tug at the heart strings of your friends and family. Join together, lock arms and march forward!
So step 6 is to think of at least 10 people that you think would be inspired to join you in this. The first 10 people that come to your mind (or more if there is more!), send them the link and ask them to join you! Ten people you know who want MORE out of life, who deserve more, and are ready to make some changes.
LET'S DO THIS!!!!!!!!!
If you sign up here, you will receive daily encouragement in your email inbox through the entire 21 days!! Pass this page along to your friends and encourage them to get signed up for the emails, too!
Oh! And don't forget to connect via social media!