This month I’ve been talking about looking ahead into this wild, unknown that is the start of 2014. We are about to wrap our first month of the year and hopefully you have spent some time in over these weeks thinking about what you want this year to look like for you. What are your hopes for this year? Would you like to stop living under the yoke of perfection? Would you like to stop second guessing yourself and instead start living brave? Would you finally like to separate your sense of worth from what you do and what you think others think of you? If so, I believe 2014 is your year to do it!
As you know, I am a huge fan of Brené Brown, bestselling author and TED sensation. Her research and writing on shame and vulnerability have been life changing for me personally and professionally. Last June, I started the process of becoming certified to facilitate her newest workshop, The Daring Way™ and am thrilled to announce I am offering my first Daring Way™ retreat: Daring Women: Show Up, Be Seen, Live Brave™!
What is The Daring Way™? It is a highly experiential methodology based on the research of Dr. Brené Brown. The material was developed to help men, women, and adolescents learn how to show up, be seen, and live braver lives. The primary focus is on developing shame resilience skills and developing a courage practice that transforms the way we live, love, parent, and lead. If you are tired of wrestling with feelings of not being good enough, if you would like to let down your guard and let people really know you, if you would like to discover, or maybe rediscover, your true voice that has gotten silenced and covered up, you do not want to miss this opportunity.
The two-day retreat will be held in Atlanta on Saturday, March 1st- Sunday, March 2nd (9:30AM-4:30PM both days) with plans to add dates in April and/or May. These upcoming retreats are specifically for women, but I will be holding Daring Way™ retreats in the future for men and women, moms, couples, and individuals in the helping professions (clergy and mental health counselors). The retreat consists of teaching, discussion, individual reflection time, and small group processing. Over the course of these two days, we will discuss:
– What is the arena in your life you want to show up and be seen
– Vulnerability, vulnerability myths, and the connection between courage and vulnerability
– How to practice empathy and self compassion
– The armor we use to “protect” ourselves from being vulnerable
– How to identify and change our thoughts of unworthiness and feeling not good enough
– How to create a life of courage as we embrace our story and step into the arena
The Daring Way™ is a cost-efficient, personal growth experience. If you have thought about beginning a personal growth journey or you are feeling stuck in your life, The Daring Way™ consolidates weeks of therapy and can jumpstart and accelerate your personal development. Having gone through the material myself, I can tell you that the content and exercises help you discover the keys to living the life you were created to live. This retreat is a great opportunity for individuals or girlfriends or even your small group to set aside time to uncover the things that are holding you back as you look ahead to the future you want and deserve.
Seating is very limited (8-12 participants)and the Super Early Bird Registration rate is $325 and the deadline is this Friday, January 31st. The Early Bird Registration ($375) deadline is February 14th and Regular Registration rates ($425) apply after that. Included in the cost of registration is a personalized notebook, a Daring Way™ workbook, a journal, a copy of one of Brené’s books of your choosing, and two catered lunches , snacks, and beverages.
Feel free to contact me if you have any questions or would like more information. I look forward to daring greatly with you!
In January 2012, I read Shauna Niequist’s Bittersweet. I. Loved. It. As I combed through the pages, daring anyone to interrupt me, I was in awe of how this woman so beautifully described almost every thought and emotion I had wrestled with over the past several years. I dog-eared and underlined basically the entire book, but there was one chapter, in particular, that challenged and spoke to me.
In the chapter entitled “Things I Don’t Do,” she starts the chapter off by relaying a piece of advice her mentor gave her years ago:
From there she discusses her own struggle with the “do everything better” mindset and how she lives under this constant expectation of “do everything better.” She then shares two lists: “Things I do” and “Things I Don’t Do.” She lists things such as her faith, working on her marriage, motherhood, becoming a better writer, living in community, cooking/entertaining on her “Things I Do” list. She puts gardening, DIY home improvement, baking, scrapbooking, and spending time with negative people on her “Things I Don’t Do” list.
Reading this was huge for me. It was like a revelation…
Hold the phone… are you telling me I can declare there are things I don’t do and let that be it? I can decide there are things I am no longer going to force myself to do because I think I “should” so I can really invest my time and energy into the things I believe in and am passionate about?? You mean I can finally stop feeling guilty that I have never planted one flower in our yard??
This was huge for me and resulted in a complete shift of how I allocate my time and energy. You see my problem isn’t that I can’t figure out what I want my life to be about. I have all sorts of ideas of what I want my life to be about. I have all sorts of ideas of what I would like to do with my time. If someone tells me about something I should do or see or read, before you know it I have hopped on that bandwagon and I am looking into it. The problem with hopping onto bandwagons is you can only hop onto so many of them before you are exhausted from traveling around with no clear goal or vision of where you want to end up. You end up feeling lost and scattered. My problem is that I want to say yes to so many things (both big and small) that I lose sight of what is truly important in my life.
There was something about the way she wrote that phrase that it finally clicked for me. Mazi, you must decide what you are no longer going to do so you can really do the things you want and feel called to do! Sometimes we can hear something 100 times, but there is just something about the 101st time that it just clicks for us and it feels life changing.
For example, sometime back I was thinking to myself that I wished there were 36 hours in the day because then I could get more things done. My follow up thought was that perhaps the problem wasn’t that there were only 24 hours in a day. Perhaps the problem was that I 1.) committed to do too much and 2.) had an unrealistic expectation of what I should accomplish in a day and how long it takes to do certain things. Again, it felt like a revelation. I am trying to do too much in a day!! It’s so incredibly obvious it’s like looking in the sky for the sun and wondering what that bright orb is that is blinding you. I’m slow, but I do get there.
It can feel like a risk to say here are the things I do, here are the things I don’t do, and I’m no longer going to feel guilty, make excuses, or beat myself up for not doing them. At the time, it felt like a risk to begin applying this piece of wisdom to my professional and personal life. I identified what the clear priority in my personal life was – my family – and recognized that everything else had to play second. I clarified what I wanted my counseling practice to look like and what populations I wanted to serve. I also identified the things I needed give up; things that either drained my energy, that I had no interest in doing but did out of guilt, or just did not align with my values and sense of calling. Two years later and I still use this little quote as a tool to keep me from chasing after every idea that pops into my head.
Giving yourself permission to say no to some things so you can give a more resounding yes to other things is the pathway to more freedom and sense of purpose in your life. You will always struggle to know the purpose and direction for your life if you are saying yes to everything for fear of saying no and missing out. You will never experience freedom in your life if you live under the yoke of fear of disappointing someone or of failing or of being criticized.
A couple of weeks ago we talked about what is the one thing you want to work on or work towards in your 2014. To dedicate yourself to your one thing- whether that be investing more in your marriage and family, taking risks professionally, healing some old heart wounds- you will have to give yourself permission to let go of some other things. You will have to give yourself permission to say, “Here are the things I don’t do.” There is freedom and purpose at the end of that permission slip.
So what are the things you do? What are the things you don’t do? This may be the exact permission your overscheduled, scattered, exhausted spirit is looking for right now.
We are a week in… a week into 2014. How’s it going so far?
The holidays are over. Christmas decorations have been taken down (or at least there are plans to take them down). New calendars have been purchased and filled with upcoming events. Children have returned to school, and adults have returned to the daily grind of emails, meetings, and carpool while visions of the next vacation dance in their heads.
Last week we discussed how to wrap up one year before leaping into another. We looked at ten questions designed to help us reflect on 2013. In keeping with that theme, here are a few questions to ponder as you start 2014.
What are some things you would like to do differently this year?
What are some things you would like to repeat from last year?
What relationships would you like to cultivate or invest more heavily in?
What would you like to learn in 2014?
But here’s the big question…
What do you want your 2014 to be about?
This is your 2014. You only get one. You only get one 2014. What do you want to do with your 2014?
As we all know, the start of a new year often means all sorts of plans for turning over new leaves. I’m going to go the gym ___ days a week. I’m going to stop ________. I’m going to start ________. I’m finally going to take up that hobby. Resolutions, goals, plans. Our minds and journals are filled with them.
But what do you really want your year to be about? If you set a goal because you think you should do it, chances are pretty slim that you are going to actually accomplish the goal. If you are really going to “cut back” or “ramp up” or “start anew”, then you have to have something much deeper motivating you than the self-imposed yoke of should thinking.
Not sure how to discern what you want to make of your 2014? Try this… Fast-forward eleven months and a few weeks. It’s the end of December 2014. You are trying to figure your New Year’s Eve plans and your cursing the person who decided New Year’s Eve should be a big social occasion. You realize, once again, you are only days away from the turning of yet another year, and you start looking back on what you have done in 2014.
When you put yourself in that picture, what is the one thing you want to be able to say you did? What is the one thing you will regret not doing or working on in 2014?
I think there are a lot of things we can say we want to work on or try or accomplish this year. But, in truth, there are only one or two things that are so significant to us that we will feel regret or disappointment if they go untouched. Regret leaves a terrible aftertaste and can be an interesting motivator. So what are your one or two things that you want to be able to say you did, or at least worked on, in 2014? What are the steps you need to take to insure against regret?
Is it surrendering a self-destructive habit or letting go of an unhealthy relationship? Is it repairing a broken relationship? Is it repairing your broken spirit? Is it facing old fears and insecurities and finally going after that dream or goal?
My hunch is that we all know the one thing we need to work on that will have positive ripple effects in other areas of our lives. It is hard to ignore unhappiness, conflict, and dissatisfaction- the telltale signs that always point us to the one thing starving for our love, time, energy, or courage.
So how do you start this journey once you’ve identified your one thing? You know what needs to change so that you will stop kicking yourself at the end of each year. You know what you want your year to be about. You start on your journey by answering these two questions:
What has kept you from this goal in the past?
What is presently keeping your from this goal?
We have to know two things to move forward- we have to know where we want to end up and we have to know where we were. The first step is identifying what you want to be different in your life. The second step is figuring out why you are there in the first place and what is keeping you stuck.
Last week on Facebook I kept seeing this quote:
Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.
You get one 2014, and you play a significant role in making it a good one. What do you want your 2014 to be about? What is your one thing?
Here’s to 2014, friends! May you have joy in your heart, peace in your mind, and courage in all your endeavors!
As someone who likes to over-process, over-analyze, and over-reflect on life’s major and minor transitions, New Year’s is my kind of holiday. This annual celebrating of the end of one year and the start of another brings with it the inevitable assessing of the past and planning for the future. A whole period in the calendar set aside for reflection- could there be anything better? Not for this girl!
And don’t get me started on the anthem that is synonymous with New Year’s- Auld Lang Syne. It could be 90 degrees with 90 percent humidity in the middle of July and those opening strains can still bring tears to my eyes. I don’t know all the words and (confession) I have to Google what the words actually mean each year (the song is about friendship and the passing of time, by the way), but Auld Lang Syne, does it to me every time!
So with New Year’s, we have a holiday based around the idea of marking time and it has a theme song that makes me cry- well, I’d say that is just about perfection in my book!
I recognize, however, not everyone relishes this final holiday of the year. The pressure to have a memorable rockin’ New Year’s Eve saps most people’s enjoyment of the holiday, and not everyone jumps at the opportunity for life reflection and pondering. Some years, we are so thankful to see the year finally pass that reflecting is the last thing on our minds. We are just holding our breath until 12:01 AM January 1st when we can officially exhale and turn our backs on the year that we thought just might be our undoing.
It is in that exhale that lies the other reason I love New Year’s. It is an opportunity for second chances. You get another January 1st. You get another chance to face your fears and defeat your insecurities. You get another try at being the person you would like to be. At 11:59 PM, December 31st there is all the hope and anticipation of a better year, a fresh start, a do over. I’m a sucker for a good comeback.
But before we start planning the next year, we do benefit from stopping and looking back on the previous year. Even if this was an extraordinarily tough year for you, just take a few moments and reflect. After all, it is hard to know where we want to go if we are not clear on where we have been. Here are some questions to get those reflective juices flowing.
What are you the most proud of from this past year?
What was your greatest challenge this year?
What was the most fun or exciting or memorable thing you did?
What were some of your happiest moments?
What do you regret or wish you had done differently?
What relationships were life giving, reciprocal, and encouraging?
With whom do you wish you had spent more time?
What relationships caused you hurt or disappointment or were in some way unfulfilling?
What are you grateful for from this past year?
What was something your learned that was interesting or helpful?
In reviewing the past 12 months, what would you say was the theme of your 2013?
Whether your year was terrific or one of your most challenging, I hope you will give yourself a moment to pause and reflect on where you’ve been and what you’ve done. We will plan and set goals and make resolutions in the days to come. But for now, let’s look back. Let’s unpack the suitcase so we know what to leave behind and what to bring with us.
Happy New Year, friends! May the experiences and lessons of this past year turn to the blessings of of your new year.
P.S. If you want a little tear jerking music to go along with your reflecting…
When I was little, my favorite Christmas carol to play on the piano was O Come, Come Emmanuel. I loved the contrasting textures in the music, and when it came time to play those glorious chords of Rejoice, Rejoice, I tickled those ivories with all the passion my little fingers could muster. A few weeks ago, I was singing this same hymn in church and the words of the first verse struck me in a way they never had before.
O Come, O Come Emmanuel and ransom captive Israel that mourns in lonely exile here until the Son of God appears. Rejoice, Rejoice, Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.
Mourns in lonely exile…
Waiting to get out of Exile…
Emmanuel shall come to thee…
What does it mean to be in exile? To be in exile means to be away from one’s home, to be in foreign territory. Although political and physical exiles are still realities throughout the world today, I am going to venture to guess none of us have ever experienced that type of exile.
Instead, our experience with exile is less obvious and a little harder to explain. What does Exile look like in our lives today? It looks like feeling far from “home”- far from where you would like to be, or thought you would be, in this stage of life. It looks like struggling in relational exile where there is broken fellowship and no clear path on how to forgive and rebuild trust. It looks like wrestling in spiritual exile where you wonder why and how long and what is the meaning of all of this. You feel far from God. You question more and more and soon your questions give way to silence.
We feel our Exiles much more keenly during the Christmas season. It’s unfortunate, but true. Just ask anyone in Exile. Christmas seems to shine a big, blinding spotlight on our Exile. Maybe it is the marking of another year and the evaluation that inevitably comes alongside. Where am I compared to where I was a year ago? Did I do this? Did I accomplish that?
Or maybe it is because we all have in our minds the picture of what our lives and relationships are supposed to look like at Christmas. When your “Christmas Card” doesn’t look like everyone else’s it can feel like nails screeching down the chalkboard of your heart.
Or maybe this is your first, or fifteenth, Christmas without your loved one or that someone special or the answer to your heart’s prayer for a child. It’s hard to feel the wonder of Christmas when we keep tripping over the gaping void of an absent parent, spouse, or child.
We don’t choose our Exiles. We don’t choose the timing or the circumstances, and we really don’t get to choose when they end. We can choose, though, how we move through them. Your Exile can make you bitter or it can make you better. That’s the part you do get to determine. So if you are in Exile this Christmas, here are two things to ponder.
Keep living. Keep showing up in your life.
When we are in Exile our temptation is to either passively wait or find a shortcut. Passively waiting keeps you from growing, and searching for a shortcut keeps you running in circles. Keep living. Don’t delay some decisions or choices in your life because you are waiting for other things to happen. Waiting for your Exile to be over before you start living your “real life” is not always the smartest choice. Keep showing up in your life and taking care of one day at a time. The Israelites had to wander for 40 years in the wilderness, but they kept walking! You have to keep climbing the mountain no matter how many times you slide to the bottom. The slides to the bottom are not losses- they are opportunities to climb again. Only this time you know the paths that will and will not work.
Know what you KNOW
When you are in Exile you have to remember what you KNOW– not what you feel or what you’re presently telling yourself, but what you KNOW. What do you KNOW? What is your hope based on? I KNOW I cannot always see the big picture. I KNOW that I am not alone. I KNOW that everything can be redeemed. I don’t always feel these things, but I KNOW them. Some days what you KNOW feels like a great comfort that lifts you high above the clouds, and other days it is just the mustard seed of courage you need to keep moving forward an inch at a time. Do you know what you KNOW?
Are you in Exile this Christmas? Yes, whether it is your first or fifteenth year without your loved one, your realized dream, your restored relationship, or your answered prayer, this year may feel especially difficult. In years like this it may feel challenging to rest in the Good News of Christmas.
What is the Good News of Christmas? The Good News of Christmas is that we do not stay in Exile. It does end. There is freedom. There will be big, banging chords of Rejoicing.
So Fear not, my dear friends, I bring you Good News of Great Joy, which shall be to all people…. There are plans for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future… for this holy night the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
That’s the Good News. May you have a blessed Christmas.