… 1 … Resolution creation and memorization time!

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Happy Last Day of 2015, everyone!  Today is your final day to create your 2016 Resolutions in time to start them on day 1 of 2016.  If you haven’t seen steps 1 and 2 of this three-step process to creating realist, joyful, life -fulfilling goals for 2016, I encourage you to click here and here.

Let’s get in the proper mind set to create and choose our goals.  Read again the story you created for step 1.  Then look at what you created for step 2.  Anyone have any dreams about what you will be in 2016?  Anything just jumping out at you from your step 2 creation?

In step 3, we are going to choose between 1 and 3 goals for 2016 and then we’re going to make these goals memorize-able and SMARTER!

After reading my story and reviewing my “map” of everything I want to do in 2016, I have narrowed my focus down to the following three goals:

  1. Going hiking once a month
  2. Completing monthly goals for my new coaching business
  3. Allow my obsession with Painting to grow and go wild

The first thing I want to do is memorize these goals.  Here are a few techniques that I teach my students for memorizing psychological terms:

  1. Create and use flash cards
  2. Use alliterations to remember sets of words
  3. Tell yourself a story and connect the key words to the key plot points

I think I’ll create an alliteration out of my three.  Hmm … let’s shorten each goal to one word:  hiking, coaching, painting.  H, C, P … C, P, H … P, C, H, … Have Clothes Pressed … Create Prized Haven … Presenting challenging hotel … hmmm

I like Create Prized Haven.  That seems to represent the ideals of New Year’s Resolutions.  Create Prized Haven – Coaching, Painting, Hiking.  I think I can remember that.  Hmm … I may even have to use that for the inspiration for a painting …

Now that I have my goals memorized – now it’s time to make these goals SMARTER.  You may have already heard for SMART goals, but the lesser known SMARTER goals are something that we discussed in my Christian Coaching Institute class.  Here’s what SMARTER stands for:

Specific

Measureable

Attainable

Relevant

Timely

Evaluate

Reward

For each goal you create – make the goal SMARTER by answering these questions:

Specific – What exactly are you looking for in this goal?  What do you hope to accomplish?

Measureable – How will you measure success towards your goal?

Attainable – Is your goal attainable?  If not, how can you amend the goal to make it attainable?  Are there resources you need to make the goal attainable?  Can you get those resources?

Relevant – Is the goal relevant to your life?  Is the goal worth working towards?

Timely – What is the timeline for attaining your goal?  If you created benchmarks in answering any of the previous questions, when do you want to meet those benchmarks?  If you haven’t done that yet, are there benchmarks you should create?  When would you want to have those accomplished by?

Evaluate – When will you evaluate your progress?

Reward – What will the reward be for completing this goal?

Here’s an example based on my third goal:  Allow my obsession with painting to grow and go wild!

Specific –  I want to use painting as a creative outlet.  I want to paint with wild abandon.  I want to set aside time to do something where I stop evaluating the product and just allow myself to be.  I want to do something where I can be as authentic as possible.  I want to do something that gives me the experience of the journey of life.  Painting has been that for me in 2015 on a small scale and I want to give myself over to that on a larger scale in 2016

Measureable – I will complete a minimum of 100 works in 2016.  Each work I create will be numbered 1 – 100 and given the date of 2016 so as to make counting easier.

Attainable – Yes, this goal is attainable.  This is less than 2 paintings a week for the entire year.  I have been given money for canvases, an easel, and paints for my birthday and Christmas.  I will use that to get a good start on what I need to make this goal attainable.  I will set aside a night, probably Thursday evenings, as my art night.  I will invite others to join to me in my art nights.

Relevant – I am excited to try to reach this goal.  I believe the number of canvases will stretch my creative skills.  I believe this goal will require me to face the journey of life even when I may not feel like it – forcing me to put “self care” on my to do list even when I start to think that my schedule is too full for self-care.

Timely – The goal could be more timely … hmm … Let’s set a monthly goal of 9 canvases.  This will mean that I’ll have 99 canvases done by November 30, 2016.  This will be perfect because I may not have a lot of time to paint in December.  This also means that if I don’t make it one month, I have some wiggle room.  I can further break this down to 3 canvases a week per month with one week off.  This allows me to take some time off of the painting if I so choose.

Evaluate – I will evaluate my progress towards reaching my goal the last week of each month.  I will incorporate this evaluation into my weekly calendar sessions that I already do.

Reward – I will put in a jar $1.00 upon completion of each canvas.  This means that upon completion of the 100 canvases, I will have $100.00 to spend however I see fit.  (I will have to confer with my husband to make sure he is comfortable with this reward.)

Do this with each of your goals and you’ll come up with goals that you not only will be able to successfully complete but that you will want to track the completion of not only in January, but in March, July, November, December and all the other months of 2016.

One more thing – once you’ve done this with each of your goals – answer this last question:

On a scale of 1 – 10, what do you believe is the likelihood that you will be successful at completing this goal?

If you choose a number less than 6 – I encourage you to edit the goal until you can come up with a number higher than 6 – or just throw the goal out completely.

If you choose a number higher than 6 but less than 9 – I encourage you to edit the goal until you can choose a number that is larger.

If you choose the number 10 – then you’re well on your way to being able to say “I succeeded in completing my 2016 New Year’s Resolutions!”

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2 … 1 … It’s Resolution Dreaming Time!

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Step 2 of the three-step journaling plan for creating realistic, joyful, life-fulfilling goals for 2016

If you missed step 1 of this plan, take just a few minutes and click here to go back and read yesterday’s post which outlines step 1.  No worries, we can wait …

Now do yesterday’s journal prompt.  We’ll wait again …

Okay, now all of us are caught up.  Those of you who did yesterday’s prompt yesterday, I encourage you to pull it out.  Everyone review what you created again.  Take a deep breath.  Notice the smile on your face.  Take another deep breath.  You are already accomplished and now it’s time to accomplish more.  Step 1 was to remind ourselves that resolutions do not always fail.  We’re setting ourselves up for success here, people.  Our success is not a new thing – but it’s something we’re going to continue in 2016.

Today I encourage you to think about all of the areas of your life on which you might want to focus.  If you like to make lists, make a list.  If you like spacial maps, make a spacial map.  If you like to draw, draw something to represent those areas.  As always, create something to represent an answer to this prompt: What areas of your life do you want to focus on for 2016?

Need some ideas to get the juices flowing?  Here are a few:

  • Read this post on the barrel theory.  Label your slats.  Which are the shortest?
  • Thinks about your PIES: your Physical self, your Intellect, your Emotional self, and your Spiritual self
  • Who are the most important people in your life?  What can you do to further connect with them?
  • What are the key aspects of your life that you want to focus on?
  • Create a list of adjectives that could be used to describe yourself.  Ask your close friends and family to do the same.  What adjectives do you wish were there?  Which would you like to highlight in 2016?

Don’t make any decisions yet, but take a look at what you created.  What are you currently drawn to?  Post whatever you created by your bed or wherever you’ll be sleeping tonight.  Allow yourself to dream about the life you’re envisioning for one day BEFORE you narrow down your focus to one or a set of specific resolutions.  Allow yourself to dream big or dream about small details.  Let’s see if what you seem to be drawn to right now is what you are drawn to tomorrow.

Here’s what will be by my bedside tonight:

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3 … 2 … 1 … It’s 2016 Goal Creation Time!!!

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New Year’s Eve is just around the corner – my husband is humming “Auld Lang Syne” – and I’m thinking about my New Year’s Resolutions.

Honestly, I can’t remember what resolutions I set for myself last year … which means I really do not remember whether or not I succeeded in completing them.  Maybe this year I should resolve to remember my resolution(s) …

To that end, I’ve come up with a three-step journaling plan for creating realistic, joyful, life-fulfilling goals for 2016.

Step 1:  Think about and write out in story form (or draw a comic or paint pictures or in another creative way tell the story of) how you kept a promise to yourself in 2015.

Here are a few examples of what is meant by “keeping a promise to yourself”

  • maybe you remember and kept your 2015 resolultion
  • maybe you said you wouldn’t gain weight in the 2015 holiday season and you succeeded
  • maybe you told yourself you wouldn’t eat that last doughnut – and you didn’t!
  • maybe you wrote down a to do list and you crossed off all of the items on that list
  • maybe you decided to focus on gratitude and you started a gratitude journal
  • maybe you set a bunch of super lofty goals, didn’t succeed at any of them, but then were able to tell yourself “that’s okay, I’m still awesome for what I did get done.”

Once you remember what promise you kept, no matter how large or small that promise may seem, write out the story of how you did that.

Here’s my personal example:

In 2015, after throwing an adult temper tantrum about being unhappy at my job and not being able to use my degrees to the fullest, I paused my whining and started a life-coaching certification course.  Even the application for the course was scary (insert more whining here).  It was like jumping off a cliff and fearing the water below was going to hurt and be freezing cold.  I was accepted to the program and everything started falling into place.  The finances worked out and the time for class and homework was carved out of the schedule.  I went to the classes, completed most of the homework, made friends, and created a business plan.  I faced my fear and started to take steps towards the life-schedule and life-work of my dreams.  I fear another tantrum coming because the path I have chosen doesn’t bring immediate financial security – but, honestly, I think that is the fear of possibility springing forth.  By taking action, I can avoid the tantrum.  As one is truly never done – even if this feels incomplete – this short story has an end.  I am officially a Christian Coaching Institute (CCI) graduate.  I promised myself I would complete the program and I did.

Okay – your turn.  Create your story.

Once you have your story created, review it a few times.  Allow yourself to experience how it feels to keep a promise to yourself.

If your story doesn’t include keeping such a promise – I encourage you to write one that does.  You’ll notice that in my own story the homework was not fully completed and there’s a lot more work to be done.  As I was writing a success story, the story started to focus on the areas where failure sneaked in.  It turns out, the internal story I tell myself isn’t one of success.  I had to tweak and rewrite the story so I could focus on the completion of the program.  Don’t worry if something similar happens to you, just make sure that the final product is a success story.

Congratulations on your 2015 success story!  Be sure to keep the story out where you can find it and have it for step 2, coming tomorrow.

Knowledge and Love

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I want to discuss these two statements:  “Our love for ourselves cannot be wholly-reliant on self-knowledge.  By extension, our love for one another cannot be wholly-reliant on our knowledge of one another.”

What feelings, thoughts, pictures, visions, etc., do these statements bring up in you?

Sit with those feelings, thoughts, pictures, visions, etc., for a minute.  Jot them down really quickly so that you’ll have your reaction down before I influence you with my reaction.

I feel a sense of serenity when I read these statements:  It’s a feeling I get when I’ve run into something True – that’s capital “T” true.  There’s an irony built into this post because the over-arching theory of this blog could be summarized as saying “know thyself (through journaling) in order to love thyself.” But then I turn around and say that knowledge cannot be the sole basis for love.

I picture a bright light with rainbow lens flairs all around it when I read these sentences.

I have a vision of a couple in the early stages of a relationship.  The couple has only been dating for a little while.  They’ve just said, “I love you” to each other knowing that they love what they’ve learned about the other so far, they love how they feel around the other, and they know there is still so much more to know.

Love is temporal, and yet, love also transcends time.  When I experience love from another, sometimes I don’t know why I am loved by the other.  Love is transcendent because love doesn’t end the minute we’ve been hurt by another person.  Love is transcendent because when we learn that someone has done some horrible things in their past, we can still choose to love that person.  Love is both temporal and transcendent because when we tell someone we love them, we’re not only saying that we love them in this very moment, we’re saying that love is present even when we’re not in the same room together.

Love for yourself is an undervalued resource.  When we wake up in the morning and we choose to love ourselves, we make better decisions.  When we choose to love ourselves, we eat better, we work out, we find those people in our lives whom we can trust and we go to them for guidance, we make the tough decisions that require self-trust, we connect to our authentic and spiritual (for some religious) parts of ourselves, we ask others to treat us with more respect, and we try harder to respect others.  When we love ourselves, we’re choosing life.  We’re choosing the journey.  We’re choosing to say that there is more to who we are.  We’re choosing to affirm that we are the embodiment of whatever it is that our friends, family, and God love about us.  Or, if we’re feeling undervalued or unloved, to love ourselves is to say, “I am a person of value.  I may not have a clue as to what about myself is lovable but I know there must be something – I’m going to love until I can figure out what that something is.”

Love is an act of acknowledging the known and the unknown.  We will never fully know ourselves and we will never fully know another person.  Therefore, to love yourself fully is to give love to parts of yourself that you are not even aware exist.  To love another is to do the same.  That love may be what allows new parts of yourself to shine.  Or, it may be the thing that brings something painful to the surface, but in such a way that it can be examined, remembered, dealt with, worked with, polished, and maybe even, with time, valued.

Love that is only based on what is known … is that liking?  I’m tempted to say that love that is based only on what is known isn’t really love.  Yet, I hold such a reverence for love that I hesitate to make such a bold statement.  If you can only love what you know – that’s a start.  I will say, however, that there is a deeper love that embraces the unknown.  Love is an act of bravery.

It’s scary to love!  Did you catch what I said just a paragraph ago about the potential for love to bring out something painful?  I mean, it could bring to the surface that stuff that we work hard on a daily basis to HIDE!  If you’re not a little scared, then maybe you’re just super brave or maybe you’re still working towards that deeper love.  If you are a little scared, take a few deep breaths and know that the fear is normal, healthy even.  Know that when you love, you are showing the world your absolutely bravest self.

In some ways, I wish the English language had a plethora of words for the variety of experiences of love.  Communication might be clearer if we had more words to express the many ways we can love ourselves and each other.  That being said, I’m a fan of the one word being very rich in meaning.  There is a diversity in the meaning of love that is as diverse as the human population.  This diversity is a reflection of the unknown to which love points.

Knowledge is an amazing and powerful thing.  I will continue to be an advocate for self-knowledge.  Loving yourself will become easier and you learn more about yourself.  Loving others becomes easier as we learn more about them.  But there’s something important about remembering that to love is to acknowledge, even implicitly, the unknown.  You don’t need to know to love.

love, umbrellas, both/and

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I’m not sure when this happened to me, but let me know if this has happened to you:

At some point, Love became a word associated with the culmination of an expression.  God’s love for the world was “cemented” through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.  The apex of the life of Jesus was love.

And in a way, love became unattainable.

How many of you have heard this statement?

“Christianity has to be about more than just good values.  It has to be about more than just being a good, loving person.”

And in a way, now love is not enough.

Ugh!  Who doesn’t want to love and be loved in return?  If love is either not enough or entirely unattainable, what am I doing in life?  Am I just spinning my wheels?

Every fiber of who I am says NO!  Love is attainable.  I have felt it in my life and the feeling is so amazing that I want everyone to experience it in their lives.  Love is enough.

This isn’t to say that love is easy.  If it was easy to love our neighbor as you would love yourself, Jesus probably wouldn’t have had to make it the number 1 commandment.

But what is love?  I want to use the term love as an umbrella term.  By this I mean that the term love encompasses or includes all the terms and actions that might also be defined as kindness, familial love, romantic love, friendly love and many more.

Take 5 minutes and do the following:

Take out a piece of paper, draw a large umbrella on it.  That umbrella is love.  On that paper, on the umbrella, under the umbrella, where-ever is most meaningful for you – write down as many words as you can think of that are encompassed in the word love.

I did this experiment for just five minutes just now and came up with the following picture*:

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*And now you’re all reminded why I’m not an artist 😉 Is it a flower, is it an umbrella?  It’s abstract.  You get it.

If you’re comfortable sharing, leave a comment below and share your drawings or just a list of a few of the words/actions you came up with that correlate or comprise the term Love.

One final thought for today:

In my counseling practicum, we often talked about an idea we termed “both/and”.  We would often use this term when we were working with indecisive clients.  “Should I do this or this?” a client might ask.  “Would you find healing in one or both of those solutions?” I might ask.  Usually what would happen is the client would say something which indicated that both would help them take necessary steps towards healing, but that it wouldn’t be complete healing.  “No problem, ” I would respond “and what else do we need to do, then?”

Both/and is how I approach love.  Love is both this amazing gift from God, and the purist expression of that love may only be attainable by God.  Love is in the small things that we do for one another – tipping our waitress, not screaming at the person who just cut you off, not huffing and puffing in line when someone at the front is taking forever. Love is also the sacrifices that we make for our family and children, to put their needs in front of our own for a period of time.  Love is both a small action and a large action AND it is something even bigger and better.

Love is the one resource that is abundant and never finite.  You can always ask God for more love.  You can always ask your friends and family members for more love.  That love may not come in the language or the form that you are expecting or that most easily speaks to you – but there is always more love.  That love may not fix everything – it may not take care of your basic needs of food, shelter, and water.  It is not an immediate cure-all.  But, if we love our neighbor we will want to provide them with the basics in life.  If we love our neighbor we will want the best for our neighbor.  If we provide these things to our neighbor, aren’t we loving our neighbor?

What will you do today to respond to the call to love your neighbor?  Can you point to one thing on your umbrella of love and strive to complete that action or that term today?

The Unknown: A poem

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I often fear what

I don’t know.

I get the feeling that life’s greatest moments of bliss, life’s most loving surprises are built into the unknown.  I get the feeling that the unknown is what shows up in the face of the ultimate egotistical moment and smacks me right back down.

And yet, I don’t really know.

I look at myself in the mirror, I smile.  Am I happy?  I look at a picture, the people are smiling, are they happy?

I don’t know.

I schedule my day, my life, this hour.  I prepare for joy, for sorrow, for … something.

I don’t really know.

The past is a story.  I look back and find meaning for the future.  What will I learn if and when I do this again?

I don’t know.

The future, is it as determined as the past?  It comes, again and again and again.  It’s here now, now I mean now, no now, now, now, now.

Ugh, I don’t know!

I’m convinced that something won’t come, won’t happen, but then it does.  My mind is blown!  I’m ecstatic and outside of myself.  Joy, pure joy, stemming from

I don’t know.

I’m convinced that I know what I cannot know.  Maybe not the details, but in general.  I know what I do know and, thus, the rest is what

I don’t know.

The project is done, the presentation coming to a close.  The hand raised.  A question asked.  The answer

I don’t know.

A quest is a journey.  The destination

I don’t know.

By now, it’s obvious, I don’t have all the answers.  Do you?

I don’t know.

But together, the I don’t know is smaller and,

I don’t know,

but somehow that simple fact puts a smile on my face, tears of joy sparkle in my eye, I grab your hand, we face the world together and I’m able to say with less fear and more excitement,

“I don’t know.”

Book Review: “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson

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     One mark of a really good book is when the book sticks with you when you’re done reading it.  How long after you’re done do you still find yourself going back to the world, the characters, the thoughts, the feelings, the philosophy of the book?  I finished the book “I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson on Friday afternoon.  It’s Tuesday morning and in all my free moments I find myself going back to this book.
     I want to meet the characters of this book.  I want to hang out with them.  I want to see how they grow from the end of the book.  I want to be friends with them.  I want to talk to them about being wobbly people (a phrase you’ll understand better after reading the book).  I want to see the art work they may create on this concept.  I want to use that artwork for my own writings.  I would love to talk to Jandy Nelson about the philosophy that undergirds this book.  A large part of this book is about learning who you are, embracing that person, and finding a way to be that person with others.  I want to know why the author chose the variety of forms of creative expression that are sprinkled throughout this book over other forms of expression.  I want the author to know that this book has inspired me to continue my creative endeavors – especially writing and painting.
     By now, I’m sure it’s obvious that I highly suggest that you read this book.  Shall I actually tell you a little about it?  The story is about a set of boy/girl twins and their parents.  When the story opens, the twins are 13 years old.  The girl is athletic and popular.  The boy is creative, quiet, and not popular.  Both twins are artistic.  Each twin has a unique relationship with their mother and father.  As the book progresses, each chapter is told from either the point of view of the boy, Noah, or the girl, Jude.  Throughout most of the story, the Noah chapters are told from when they are 13 years old.  The Jude chapters are told from when they are 16 years old.  What a difference 3 years can make!
    In those 3 years, the relationships with the parents change, both Noah and Jude experience romance, and the close relationship that the twins share shifts and twists.  The writing is vivid, the emotions are experienced by the reader, the story is so real you hope that the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Even as the reader is given insight into the knowledge that each twin has, the plot still provides surprises.  And, the end?  Well, I don’t want to give anything away, so all I will say is that it is worth it!  I laughed, I cried, I gasped, I felt my heart breaking, I longed to hug my inner child, and I loved every minute of reading this book.

The Difficulty of Loving through Experiences

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In case you haven’t guessed it yet, I’m obsessed with thinking about and learning about how we understand our individual selves and how that relates to all of our other relationships.

How do I know who I am?  How do you know who you are?  How do you know how to make a decision?  Or, maybe more interestingly, how do you know what decision you will make in the future?  I’m not asking what decision you think you should make.  I’m asking how you know what decision you will make in the future if/when faced with a decision.

Let’s make this more concrete.  Here’s an example that we can all relate to:  If you’re given the option between two of your favorite types of ice cream (or gelato, if you prefer) which one will you choose?

Or, let’s talk about a harder decision:  If given the option to cheat on a test and assure yourself a passing grade would you cheat?

There are so many factors surrounding this question.  What if you weren’t able to study for the test?  What is the subject matter of the test?  What are the consequences for passing or not passing the test?

Can you imagine a scenario when you would cheat on this test?

Or a third example:  Imagine that you’re in a heated argument/yelling match with a close friend or family member.  There are true things that you know you could say that would sway the argument in your favor but that would really hurt your friend or family member.  Do you say them?

Take a few minute to think about what you would do in these scenarios or just go with your gut.  Tell yourself what you would do in these situations.  What ice cream or gelato would you choose?  Would you cheat on the test? Do you win the argument or do you hold back because you know that winning would be hurtful?

How do you know?

By now, you might be thinking to yourself, “no one can know for sure what they will do in the future”.  If we go to that sometimes scary place of raw honesty, we have to admit that we just do not know with 100% certainty what we will decide in the future.  We live every day with this uncertainty about our very selves.

I know for the longest time I denied this uncertainty.  I was sure that it was possible to know how I would react in the future.  I was convinced that I knew myself so well that I knew what I would do in all situations.  I believed that I knew what I would do when faced with hard decisions.  I had gone through the “what if scenarios” and determined ahead of time what I would do.  If asked or prompted, I would even tell people what it is I would do in these scenarios.

Then one day I was faced with a situation and my gut reaction was not what I anticipated it would be.  Not only did I not act as I said I would act, I pretty much did the OPPOSITE of what I said I would do.  And, almost in an instant, my entire world was turned upside down and shaken to pieces.  Confidence in myself? gone.  Who was I?  Could I trust this person who would react in this way?

It was through this situation that it I learned to ask a different question:  How will I love myself when I don’t act as I think I will or as I used to think that I should?

In the scenarios I offered before, I now ask you the following questions:  How will you love yourself if you cheat on the test when you said you wouldn’t?  What if you thought you would cheat but then chicken out and end up failing the test?  How will you love yourself if you’re currently telling yourself that you would never say something that would be that hurtful to a person you love, but then during that fight you find yourself verbally expressing a sentiment that is meant to drive home your point and you do hurt the other person?  How will you love yourself if you keep quiet but you know that the long term consequences of keeping quiet are more harmful, or you keep quiet but you know your very valid point has gone unheard/misunderstood?

What I have learned is that I can no longer say to myself that I know myself 100%.  I can’t even be sure that if presented the same situation again that I would make the same choice.  And I say that believing that the choice I made was a worthy choice.  I’ve had to learn to love myself including those parts I do not know.  I’ve had to learn to love myself when I realize I’m not the person I thought I was.  I am continually learning to embrace my own unknown and I am still learning how to love what I know about myself, what I’m continually learning about myself, and what I may never know about myself.  Love is a process, it’s a decision I make every day to embrace myself.

But I now live every day knowing that in the next decision I may act in a way that will disappoint me or that may catch me off guard or may change my own understanding of who I am.  I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit that this fact scares me and excites me as I wonder what my future holds.

How about you?  Do you think you know yourself 100%?  If so, how do you know that?  If not, what are your thoughts and feelings on the fact that you don’t know yourself fully and will never know yourself fully?

Facing Writer’s Block

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On Monday I journaled about the voices that enter my space when I experience Writer’s Block.

Today, I encourage you to do the same.

What are the voices in your head saying?

How do you respond to them?

I encourage you to share this with others.

Together, we will end the secrets that allow these voices to infiltrate our minds.

Writer’s Block and the Small Voices in our head

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I’ve been staring at the computer for about an hour in an attempt to write this post.  Here’s what I’ve done so far:

I’ve written and deleted a blurb of apology and explanation for accidentally taking a month off from the blog.  It didn’t feel authentic, however.  It isn’t that I’m not sorry, but I felt more obligation to write the post than a feeling that doing so would add value to your life, reader.

I’ve written and deleted at least 5 draft titles.  Including but not limited to:
“What I’ve Learned in One Month Off from the Blog” (which when I wasn’t sure what I’d learned, I decided to try something else)
“Know Thyself” (which is pretty much my motto, but it wasn’t quite right)
“Knowing Thyself Allows you to Be Authentically Yourself” (which is a better title, but after sitting with a blank page under that title for 30 minutes, I may not quite be ready for the post)

Which leads me to this post … hello writer’s block, hello old friend and adversary … Have you ever noticed that when you’re around, you either bring the friends “negativity” and “self-doubt” with you or you simply open the space for them to make an appearance?

Does this happen to anyone else?

This morning, I haven’t even written anything yet and what keeps popping into my head are things such as, “It doesn’t matter what you write, you’ve been working at this for over a year and you have, what, 50 readers?” or “You can’t think of something you learned in the past month?  You’re a waste!” or “You’re simply using other people’s ideas you don’t have anything original to say” or “You know that you’re not a very good writer, you personally know good writers, they understand grammar, they understand discipline, you barely know grammar and you dabble in the discipline they dwell in, you’re not a writer, why are you trying?”

Yeah, it’s not always very pretty to hear what is being said in by the small voices in my head.

This is why I’m sharing them with you.  As Brene Brown has taught, part of the strength of these voices is found in their secrecy.  I do not share them so that you will feel bad for me.  I share them because I hope that together we can call them out for fraudulent ideas that they are.

Here goes nothing, my first attempt to journal about “shhhh”ing these voices:

To the voice that says:”It doesn’t matter what you write, you’ve been working at this for over a year and you have, what, 50 readers?”  here’s my initial gut response:  While I love and appreciate everyone who has read this blog, while I would be lying if I didn’t get a small high every time I look at the blog stats and see that my numbers have gone up and there are times when I’m sad that this blog hasn’t become a Nation-wide sensation, I also know that the motivation behind this blog is not numbers driven.  There are a lot of things I could do (should do?) to increase my numbers.  I haven’t made this a priority … yet?

To the voice that says: “You can’t think of something you learned in the past month?  You’re a waste!” here’s my gut initial response:  Oh, be quiet! I’ve learned a lot this month.  Is all of it blog-worthy?  Maybe, maybe not.  You may have had an argument until you said I was a waste.  No matter what, my life is not a waste.  My friends and family would be so upset to hear you say that, I am blessed to have a family that would never say that, what gives you the right to say it?

To the voice that says: “You’re simply using other people’s ideas you don’t have anything original to say” I say this: As long as I don’t plagiarize, using or adding to the ideas of others is pretty much all of life.  As I believe that everyone’s voice is unique, then there is a chance that what I have to say may be fresh and new.

To the voice that says: “You know that you’re not a very good writer.  You personally know (like have met in the flesh and had amazing conversations with) good writers, they understand grammar, they understand discipline, you barely know grammar and you dabble in the discipline they dwell in, you’re not a writer, why are you trying?” I say:  Ouch.  I don’t know why it hurts most to hear that I can’t apply the label of “writer” to the definition of Megan Fackenthal. I don’t know why of all the voices in my head this one is the loudest one, the most prevalent one.  This is the one I can hear in so many different voices ranging from teachers to my own.  I have tried and failed to use this voice to fuel a drive to learn grammar.  This voice is the biggest de-motivator.  This voice hurts the most.  I know this voice is filled with flawed and simply inaccurate data and comparisons which cannot be validated.  I’m trying because I want to defeat this voice!