Brave Not Perfect

Why public speaking, people ask.  Of all the hobbies, professional development, or Thursday morning options – why spend mine forcing myself to stand in front of a room full of people and face one of the most widely shared fears?  Typically my answer is this: I value quality communication.  That’s not a lie.  I do.  The bigger answer didn’t make it’s way into words until later and that truth is this: I have something to say.  I have something to say and when those opportunities present themselves: I’m going to be ready.

Years ago when I took to blogging the heart behind writing was the same.  It was my chance to bring a message.  To share.  To grow.  I put myself out there and I loved what that did for me.  It was a bonus when what I had to say made someone else step out in agreement.

As I was watching a TED Talk last week it really resonated with my soul.  Reshma Saujani’s talk was titled, ‘Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection’.  You should all watch it here.  We are raising our girls to be perfect and our boys to be brave.  Never the reverse.  She challenges the norms and I literally cheered her from my bathroom as I curled my hair watching her on YouTube.  Then I tweeted her a quick ‘I’m in for bravery’ as I grabbed my laptop and headed out the door to my technology related job and thought ‘she’d be proud’ (she teaches girls to code!).

I’m a little disappointed to say that bravery actually gets harder with age.  Each year the pressures mount and being brave seems to take a bit more effort.  As you get older your bravery has higher stakes.  I don’t just have parents to make proud and a report card to answer to anymore.  Now it’s the reputation of my company, the expectations of bosses, the spotlight of leadership roles.  It’s harder now, to be brave.

A friend and pastor asked to meet with me a few months back.  After agreeing I met him in the lobby of our church.  He explained that he wanted me to be completely open with him as we spoke about what my experience working in a church has been like.  I laughed and said something to the affect of ‘brutal honesty is my speciality’.

He asked me a few easy questions like ‘what do I love about my job’ and ‘how do I get along with my bosses’.  I sat Indian style in the big leather chairs and I answered.  Then he said, ‘what’s been the hardest thing for you about working at a church?’.

Um, knowing if I should actually answer this question honestly?

When people ask me questions I always wonder if they just want the token answer.  When they say ‘how are you?’ should the answer always be good?  That kind of thing.  But he asked to meet with me because he wanted to know so I had already decided that might include vulnerability.

This job has made me self conscious.  That was my answer.  His surprise was obvious but I jumped right into my explanation…

This job has made me self conscious.  I worry about what people think.  I care what people are saying.  I never use to do that.  I want to make my parents proud. It’s important to me to excel at my job.  I try to lead with excellence and to live with integrity.  But somewhere between 25 and 30 I realized I was worrying about how people saw my actions.  I grew up in the spotlight and somehow as an actual adult, miles away, doing my own thing – I got worried about rumors and reputation. Do you know that there was once a rumor about me at my place of employment that included me having a much older boyfriend?  Turned out it was started because someone saw a picture of me and my DAD of all people and just kind of ran with it.  Apparently they didn’t take the time to realize we are practically twins.

The last year I’ve really worked on this.  I’m thirty-one years old and somehow that just seems to be too old to worry about rumors and opinions.  Life is messy.  Ministry is messy. Christianity is messy.  What I desire most as I grow older is to embrace the dirty hands of it all.  I want to love others well.  Where they’re at.  Mess and all.

Trying to conclude it on a positive note in the conversation I said: I’m done explaining myself. That’s what I’ve decided.  For so many years I felt like I had to explain the way I’m wired and the gifts I have because they didn’t fit any of the boxes people were trying to squeeze me in.  As 29 became 30 became 31 I realized: I’m done.  I’m never going to be ‘normal’ so I’m just going to be wholeheartedly myself.  Some people have really loved and embraced that and if I’m honest, some people really don’t like me.  Overtime, I’ve become ok with that.

While I’m probably the farthest I’ve ever been from perfect I’m closest I’ve ever been to brave.  After a few years of Toastmasters someone said: you found your voice.  I responded: no, what I found was an audience.  I always had a voice.  A voice, a unique perspective, and a little confidence.  Toastmasters gave me an audience of encouragers and I grew a backbone that I’m not sure I would have found other wise.

Note from 2018: I was reading through old drafts (of which there are many).  I wanted to share this one today because I’m preparing to lead a Junior Toastmasters club at my local Dream Center.  We all wish from time to time we had known as kids what we know now. I’m excited to help 6th-12th graders use their voices.  I hope to teach each of them to be brave, not perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Year of Not Being Busy

Last year I decided to give up the right to use the word ‘busy’.  Why?  Because I had grown incredibly tired of busy as an excuse in other peoples lives and when I further pondered, my own.  I was sick of a world where the things I value and commit to become the excuse for why I’m aloof or untouchable.  I have time.  And I use my time wisely.  Why am I acting like life is happening to me instead of owning my intentional choices?

The year of not being busy was in no way the year of being lazy – so let’s clear that up.  When I gave up the right to use the term ‘I’m busy’ I did not give up all my commitments with it.  I read 136 books, participated in 2 book clubs (one I was in charge of that met in my home), hosted and lead a bible study as we read through the entire bible in a year, served on the prayer team at my church, traveled 15 week/weekends, and still managed to talk to my best friends every single week.  I flew all the way to North Carolina to date my nieces and nephews one-on-one and still had time to host monthly game nights and cook through about 100 new recipes while inviting new people to the table.  I also enjoyed the most opportunities to speak (in public!) that I’ve had yet.  It was a good, full year.

Here was the most valuable lesson of my sacrifice: let your no be no.  The bible is of course quite clear about how we should just say yes or no and let that be enough.  So why did I find myself having these long explanations?  Why did I ever believe people wanted to hear them?  This year I quit saying: I would but… and just said: no, not at this time.  As it turns out, that was enough.  People could respect it.  I’m on committees and in focus groups and leading a few too many things and when I say: no, I mean it.  I am protective of my time because when I’m not: I don’t like me.  I refuse to be the girl you ask to coffee who says: I’m available on a Tuesday at 6am 3 months from now – will you take that?  I require room in my life for the people I love. I need some space.

I’ve asked myself as January has been off to a rocky start – how will 2018 be different because of the year without busy?  I learned a lot about myself last year.  As it turns out, not making excuses was harder than I’d like to admit.  I’ve always said to anyone who will listen (especially at work) that I hate excuses.  It’s true, I do.  However, 2017 taught me how much I even hated my own excuses.  So I’m not bringing them back in 2018.  I tell myself almost every morning as I drag the laundry down 2 flights of stairs and throw it in the washer on my way out the door to work:  you’re not that busy.  Why?  Because I don’t want to feel busy even when my life is full. I want to enjoy the things I’ve committed too and the people I’m spending my life with.  I don’t want to be bogged down in the emptiness of busy.  So I pep talk myself: you’ve got time.  And then I fill it with what matters to me.

No excuses, just this intentional life I’ve built over the years and time for what I value.  For those of you who need this permission: what other people value doesn’t have to be important to you.  I get invited to do a lot of things.  Even to be in charge of them.  None of them are bad things or things that don’t matter – but they don’t all matter to me.  I know my strengths but I also know my weak areas (or areas of disinterest) and I’m really, really honest about them.  Also, just because I CAN do something, doesn’t mean I do.  I’m capable of things I quite simply don’t want to spend the time and energy on because they’re not ‘my things’.

So for those wondering, in the fullness of 2018 – I’m still not busy.  I refuse to live telling myself or anyone else I’m too busy.  What I am saying more and more of is no.  No to the wrong things so that I can say a lot more yes to what I value most.  As I say this I’m preparing to fly to Ft Wayne, IN tomorrow to spend a long weekend with my college roommate, her husband, and her 3 boys.  This is how I want to spend my life,  being present with the people I love and not too tired to enjoy it.  Full is still so much better than busy.

Ode to 31

Oh thirty-one you won’t quickly be forgotten.  As I prepared to write about this year I went back and read what I wrote about the year that was 30 and I loved it.  My heart warmed as I reread about what I had celebrated during a great year and how I had grown and loosened up as I tried to embrace what truly mattered a little more and leave behind the shore of perfection to embrace people.

So that brings me to summing up the year that was 31 as I turn 32 tomorrow…

Perhaps one of the greatest gifts of 31 is that my parents have lived in Florida for a year now.  I saw all but one of my Dad’s games last season and I have a Southwest account full of trips to cheer for him again this year.  I flew down and helped my mom move, I took my friends to the beach and taught them how to play pegs, and I slept on a very uncomfortable pull out couch in their condo when my whole family crammed in for a week this summer.  I’m glad I didn’t know just how much I was missing the last 8 years of not having family close – because this is AWESOME and I’ve definitely been missing out.

What was hard about this year? Everyone says as you enter your 30s you care a heck of a lot less about what people think of you. True.  But I also found it changes the way you feel about friendships. I reprioritized my friendships this year and I pursued harder friends that I felt would be lifelong friends – while backing off friendships I felt like I was making all the effort in.

Last week I realized how energizing it’s been.  As I flew home from North Carolina my friends reached out to me and said: where and when? We’ll be there to pick you up.  Then they came in and played games half the night.  I didn’t even have to ask!  And as I save to replace some flooring in my house another friend and her husband popped by to help me measure square footage on the way to lunch.  I found more community  this year.

When Irma was headed for Tampa yet another friend came to my rescue – dropping me at the airport and returning to check on my house after the storm ( I was in the first zone to be evacuated).

As it turns out, I needed community more than ever this year.  This year I faced a cancer scare that brought me to my knees in a humbling way.  I cried and prayed more than I have in a long time this year.  The girl who’s use to offering all the support, love, hospitality, and advice learned what it’s like to NEED people.  I needed the prayers. I needed a few shoulders to cry on.  For the first time in my adult life I called my family and said: send help!

Though I wish that nightmare on no one (even though I turned out to be perfectly healthy in the end) – I’m grateful for what it taught me.  I learned to be vulnerable and it was well rewarded.  My Mom came to take me to my biopsy and my sweet friend Glenda had a huge bouquet of flowers waiting on my porch when I got home.  Friend after friend prayed, called, and loved on me while I waited nearly 3 weeks for those results.  And we all celebrated together when I was pronounced healthy after the brutal waiting game.

When the ‘c word’ enters the picture you can’t help but ponder the future with ‘what ifs’. While I’m glad that wasn’t the literal beginning of a fight for my life; I’ve thought really hard about my life as a result.  When I flew to North Carolina to see my nieces and nephew I squeezed them a little tighter, cuddled them more, and woke up every morning  in my basement bedroom grateful for time. Who knows how much time but every day seems like an incredible gift.

I prayed hard this year over my goals and I’m excited to report I’m literally SLAYING them.  I reached a huge financial milestone 4 months early and I’m nearly 15 books ahead of schedule to beat my biggest, loftiest goal yet.  I’m traveling hard, hosting with some semblance of grace, and proudly leading an incredible group of women through the bible in a year.

I’ve always been a believer than each year of your life should get a little bit better and so far the 30s haven’t let me down.  I reunited with my college roommate and I’ve already been to see her, had her to Florida, and I’m headed back her way in October.  I’ve seen my best friend almost every single month this year (and I’m currently holed up at her house avoiding a hurricane).  This has been a year of friendship that I’m grateful for.

So what do I want out of 32?  To continue to do less of what I hate and more of what I love.  After reading and rereading time management books I’m working on ‘outsourcing’ the things that keep me from being able to spend my minutes living my mission: to love God and to love people well (while reading books, rabidly cheering at football games, and seeing the world – naturally).  I want to continue to learn to let myself off the hook for mistakes while pushing myself every single day towards excellence.

Most of all I want to play by my own rules.  If the best benefit of the 30s is caring less what other people think than I should be getting more and more comfortable in my own skin.  I’m still learning to be comfortable being myself and not fitting into the boxes other people design for me.  I am filling so many roles from aunt to friend to boss to investor but I’m purposing more than ever to do them my way.

So here’s to another year of living my commandments.  Of being a cheerleader for my family, my friends, and my colleagues.  To being a safe haven through welcoming others into my home, keeping confidences, and being someone people can come to in times of crisis.  To taking and making the time.  To doing what ought to be done (even when no one else does).  And of course, to taking everything a little less personally.  To another year of health, of growth, and maybe even the pursuit of happiness – cheers.

Thanks 31, you were good to me.

Here

Three states, four cities, in five days – that was my last week. I have 2 (very) full workdays between me and my next trip.  It’s very early in the morning and I’m alone on my couch, in my pjs, with a mug of coffee thinking about how in the midst of possibly my craziest year yet – I still don’t feel busy.  I feel excited, happy, a smidge ashamed of my laundry pile, and kind of hungry because why buy groceries?

Four months ago in my update on the year of fasting busy I wrote this: So cheers, to slow mornings and full lives.  To scheduling less but somehow doing more.  To having room in your head to solves a few of your friends problems.  To being thoughtful and fun.  To getting a lot done but knowing when to just be present too.  Trust me, full is so much better than busy.

I reread my whole Full>Busy post this morning with a goofy grin on my face.  This year is definitely full but I still don’t feel busy.  How?

The answer is annoyingly simple: contentment.

This year is fuller than any before it but peace doesn’t have to be altered by the chaos around us.  That’s what I’m trying to master.  And finally, 31 years into this journey – I’m winning.

Last year my parents moved to Florida into a fantastic beach condo a few hours south.  When they left for a few week vacation I grabbed 2 of my closest girlfriends and we headed down.  We spent 3 glorious days reading on the balcony, chatting by the pool, and  sweating profusely on the beach together.  Never have I ever felt so relaxed.  As the weekend drew to an end and we were all tempted to complain that we had to return to reality I found that I didn’t feel that way.  I was ready.

We drove back from South Florida on Sunday.  I dropped my best friend, Candy, off at the airport with a ‘see you in 6 days’.  I emptied the cooler, charged my laptop, and got a plan for a quick week.  6 days later I was catching a 7am flight to Kentucky.  For the next 5 days I enjoyed the superbly slower pace of small town living. Give me all the fireworks, cookouts, and evenings swatting mosquitos and playing board games there are.  As my niece says about Christmas morning present opening: I was made for this.

Alas, we know I’m not.  Slow paces and small towns thrill me in the short term but even my career coach tells me that my super power is the capacity for freakish amounts of life.  So it seems only fitting that when Wednesday came I was repacking my freshly laundered clothes and flying back to St Pete to catch an Uber to my house to get my car to drive 2.5 hours north to Camp Kulaqua in High Springs, FL.

Trains, planes, and automobiles has nothing on me.  My flight was late, my garage door was somehow misaligned, and  I hit a massive bunch of traffic with rain on my way. But just before dinner time I pulled into the camp store to begin my time in the snack shack as I like to call it.  Four days of being the coffee maker, candy seller, and break out speaker just energized me.  Where did we find these fantastic kids?!  I was so impressed with the nearly 300 middle and high schoolers that came through my breakout group on friendship (titled: Friends with Benefits) in 2 days.

Honestly, I expected to be exhausted. 2 weeks of travel, a long car ride, writing my talk, and running the store from 11am-midnight sounded like a lot.  You know what I found though?  I wanted more.  I found myself having heartfelt conversations with kids who would come to buy candy and drilling my shopmates about all sorts of topics.  There’s more to give, I thought.

We closed the store at midnight and I drove home til nearly 3am in a caravan with a friend/fellow snackshacker.  Finally back in my own bed, I thought.  I fell into bed sufficiently pooped but I woke up excited.  Instead of feeling like I had a lengthy list of things to get done before I leave town again Tuesday: I was present.  I went to dinner to celebrate a friends birthday.  I invited 3 more over after to play games half the night.  And I spent the perfect Sunday by the pool with my neighbors playing Pegs and catching up (for the record out of 8 games played this weekend: I won 7).  I admit I played a little longer than I should have and then hurried, sweaty, back home to lead bible study where one of my girls had already let herself in and taken a nap.

Here’s what thrills me: I find myself craving more time not because there’s more that I have to do but because I finally feel like I have more to give.  For years I wanted to say no to EVERYTHING.  Every time a boss asked me for one more project or a friend needs a ride, a place to stay, or just some one-on-one time from me I wanted to weasel out of it.  I can’t possibly do more was constantly running through my mind.  But I gave up busy and perfect and you know what?…There’s room in my head and my schedule.  I am peaceful and present.  I am having the most fun I’ve ever had.

So 6.25 months into the year without busy here’s my toast…

Cheers! To staying up too late to squeeze in one more game.  To booking your next visit with your best friend while you’re still together so you know you have it to look forward too.  Cheers to stollen cheek kisses from my nieces (2) and nephew at the beach this week and putting my professional DSLR to good use.  To 82 books read, 3 more flights booked, and visitors scattered throughout the summer and fall. Cheers to laundry mountains, tan lines, and the occasional netflix marathons.  And most of all:cheers to not being busy, just being here.

Roles

This week someone asked me, ‘Do you still blog?’.

Here’s the problem: I’ve never been the type of person who fits into a category.  Am I a blogger? Probably not.  What I am is a writer.  A writer of blogs, e-mails, hand-written letters, toasts & speeches, grocery lists, and the occasion sermon.  While I frequently wish I were dedicated enough to be a better blogger what I really love is to write and THAT I’m consistent in.  This week I wrote a post for another blog, a sermon, a long overdue e-mail, hand written thank you cards, and every morning before work: I journaled.

Often people ask me about my reading habits.  What do I read?  When do I find the time?     Will I ever write a book of my own?  I read everything.  Fiction, Non-fiction, magazines, cookbooks, and every single note my niece writes me in precious handwriting.  I read everywhere.  On my burgundy velvet couch before work every morning, in my SUV on my lunch break, at stoplights when I’m in the middle of a really good book and get stuck in rush hour, and in bed at completely uncool-ly early times like 8pm on a Thursday.

As you grow older and I suppose into yourself you find that so many things you once were don’t fit the way they use too.  I use to be a photographer.  Then I was an art school dropout turned social worker.  Then I became an event planner, fell in love with travel, and left to work for a church.  Later I got promoted and went from being an ‘admin’ to a data manager.  I quit traveling for work and started traveling as a missionary and eventually settled into the habit of traveling for fun.

When inspiration strikes or need arises I’m still a photographer.  I’m the family photographer who snaps endless candids of my nieces and nephews and while my work no longer graces the walls of galleries, they are proudly featured in my family’s homes.  I mostly use my sociology degree to counsel my friends and to make educated decisions about background checks of employees and volunteers now.  The events I plan are usually more like meals with board games for entertainment.  And from time to time I still find myself as the girl making the copies or typing up the notes.

I have worn a great many hats and I hope I’m only beginning.  While I’m not a blogger, a scholar, a social worker, a photographer, or an event planner in the proper sense of the words I like to think I get to be a mutt of them all.  Long ago I gave up on the idea of having been made for only one thing.  Now, I put my energy into making the most of every opportunity.  Some weeks I help write sermons, lead staff meetings, run detailed reports, and plant a pot full of succulents for a friend who bought a new house.  With full weeks and countless, varying opportunities I find that I only desire more.  Is it possible to try my hands at literally everything?  If I try hard enough can I learn or experience something new every single day?

Some of my favorite experiments have been in getting my hands dirty at things I am quite simply no good at.  In case you’re wondering: I am a terrible singer but I’m still not sorry to have tried my voice at karaoke.  As it turns out, photography was the ONLY aspect of art I was remotely good at.  Painting, drawing, and sculpting?  There are kindergarten art classes who would reject me.  I have weird taste in books that frequently makes me the wrong person to ask for a recommendation. And while I can bake just about anything without even using a measuring cup: I am truly terrible at making pizza on a grill.  You know, unless you like your pizza crust very doughy.

On my trip to North Carolina in May I took each of my nieces and nephew out on an individual date.  As I held their little hands and took them on adventures I couldn’t help but be introspective about who I will be in each of their lives.  I hope with all my heart they will always love to spend time with me.  That they will keep making art for my fridge and begging to call me and tell me the details of their days.  It is my dream that my niece will continue to carry my hand-written letters around in her purse and talk about the places we will travel to together.  Each of those things is important to me.  But I also want them to believe that their Aunt B is bold.  That she works hard and can laugh off the occasional failure.

I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up other than a life long learner and an endless adventure.  May the opportunities be many, the roles vast, and the lessons worthwhile.

Late and Limping

For 21 days my church is hosting a 6am prayer.  The idea is that you come and you pray over the names that have been written all over the walls – for their salvation this Easter.  So Sunday night after a busy weekend as I was winding down my much treasured Sabbath I decided I wanted to start my week there. In the quiet, dark sanctuary praying about what and who the Lord has on my heart right now.

If you picture just that: me sitting quietly on my couch with my study bible closing out another week deciding to head to the church 2.5 hours early the next morning it’s a pretty picture.  It’s the side of life we want, right?  I’m in the habit of saying: I wish I were one of those really calm, laid back people.

This is how my life (and often, my faith) really play out…

I had a hard time falling asleep (which NEVER happens to me).  I slept fitfully, I woke often.  When my alarm went off at 4:45 I was groggy.  I slapped my alarm and turned on the light before I was tempted to fall back asleep.  I hurried around the house realizing I hadn’t adjusted the coffee pot time so I wasted 5 sleepy minutes waiting for it to brew.  Then I carried the coffee and a huge mason jar of water up to the bathroom to get ready.

Somehow I knock said mason jar off the bathroom counter, crushing my toe and making a racket I’m sure woke at least one of my neighbors. I hopped around on my remaining foot thinking all of the upset emoji’s in my head.  The hobbling slowed me down and I got in the car and on the road later than I planned. I HATE being late, by the way.  All of the slow people were in the passing lane.  I repeated to myself that perhaps, this was all just part of it.

Don’t rush, I tell myself daily.  This morning as I’m driving 65 up the interstate running late with a throbbing foot I’m reminding myself that getting a speeding ticket on your way to a prayer meeting would be really pathetic.  So I set my cruise control and turned on a praise song, trying to accepted that while I was going to be 5 minutes late to my meeting, I didn’t need a special place to spend time with the Lord.

First song I choose on my iPhone as I drive: Trust in You by Lauren Daigle.  The lyric that jumped out at me was this: there’s not a day ahead you have not seen.  I have a lot going on in my life right now.  People counting on me.  Decisions to be made.  House projects, speeches to write, trips to plan.  I worry sometimes about the unknown so when I get a full plate I sometimes start to obsess over the minor details.  I don’t want to have so much on my plate that I fail at any one thing.  I don’t want to forget something important.  I need to be fully prepared for my next two teaching opportunities.  Always, always I find myself back here repeating to myself don’t rush, there’s not a day ahead he hasn’t seen.

I made it to the prayer meeting exactly 5 minutes late.  And I limped my way in on my injured, throbbing foot.  And I sat alone in the back in the silence.  I prayed about the things and for the people I most needed to start my week in prayer for and then I just sat: in silence.

I read this amazing verse last night from Psalm 75:3 – ‘When the earth quakes and the people live in turmoil, I am the one who keeps it’s foundations firm’.

There are a million days I feel like I’m a mess.  I’m late and I’m limping.  To be honest, I forgot to even check my outfit in the mirror before I hurriedly hobbled out the door.  But over and over I am reminded that I know the one who keeps the foundation of the earth firm.  What better, more solid footing is there to stand on than that?  And when I show up hurting and a little bit late – he’s there.

Try though I might I’m not sure I’ll ever be one of those super laid back people.  I’ll always hate being late and have to carry an extra shirt because I frequently spill on myself.  Clumsy seems to haunt me so I’ll probably kill a few more toenails and hop around a few more bathrooms with my face scrunched up in pain.  But there’s not a messy, slightly late, little bit broken day ahead that the Lord hasn’t already seen and planned for.  There’s an incredible amount of peace in that.

So, if there’s an encouragement in all this I guess it’s that life and the faith walk are not always pretty.  Even when we’re really trying to get it right, it can be a struggle.  The days are long, the years are short, and the walk is rocky.  So press into the one that keeps the foundation firm.  He can handle it.

The Life Changing Magic of Morning Pages

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(Morning Pages and all other things are better over a flat white)

Pinterest is constantly making me look good.  90% of what I make or bake I find on Pinterest.  It taught me to wash my flip-flops in the dishwasher (magical, y’all, magical).  And this year it taught me about morning pages, which have changed my life quite literally.

Mornings are important to me.  I rise before the sun to have time to read my bible, read educationally for 20-30 minutes, do a few chores, and still make it to work on time or early.  If it’s important to me, you can pretty much bet it’s done first thing in the morning.  This is in large part because I’m worthless after 9PM during the week but I digress.

The pin I found had a picture of a notebook, a pen, a cup of coffee, AND a glass of water.  This is how my mornings already start so I was curious.  While I liked the ideas the author of this particular article on Morning Pages suggested (do it first thing, on real paper, just write, make a to-do list out of it) I’ve made it my own.  So here’s my suggestions for morning pages:

  • Have a pretty notebook.  I love new notebooks.  So be it a moleskin, a notebook with a great quote, or something simple like my current grey and white notebook which reads: ‘Believe’ – choose something you like.
  • Do it early and do it often.  I write Monday-Thursday. I give myself Friday-Sunday off but sometimes I find I want to do them anyway.  I do not skip a single workday, though.  I do it early in the morning, before I get dressed and leave the house.
  • Vent.  People (especially in the workforce) are inclined towards venting.  But as you work your way up the corporate ladder and find yourself, like me, in management – you have to be very careful about this.  While I get frustrated , part of my job is to keep my opinions separate from the vision and mission of my company.  So morning pages is a good space to work through what (or who) frustrates me but keep it professional at work.
  • After venting I write specifically what I am going to do to make the situation better.  For example: I was recently extremely annoyed with a certain situation at work.  I wrote out exactly what about it bothered me and how it had affected the way I felt about the involved parties.  Then I took my emotions out of the equation and  I wrote how I would address the issue with facts only.  Next, I wrote how I would move forward whether or not my opinions were honored.  You know what?  It worked.  My confrontation was well received and my suggestion was honored.  Even had it not been, though, I would have been prepared mentally to handle it in a way that kept the workplace peaceful and my relationships intact.
  • Even if your work is peachy all day everyday  – this may also be a good place to work through your frustrations in relationships, friendships, or with your family.  I find that writing is therapeutic but also rereading my words and asking myself if they are A. True and B. Fair is a good way to know how to proceed.  If I’m right (which sometimes, I am) then I still require myself to write out how I will proceed with the best possible outcome in mind.

Here’s the theme, if you didn’t catch it: be intentional.  Morning pages is 15 minutes a day where I remind myself who I will be in my role at work, in my relationships, and in life.

Then, I write Today I Will… and I jot down bullet points of what I would like to accomplish.  I make sure to cover what I want to do work wise but also a good balance of chores, social events, and keeping up with the important things going on in the lives of my loved ones.  I’m a ‘doer’.  Or as some would call it: a task-oriented person.  So I find that it helps me to make items like: send birthday card to so-and-so, FaceTime my nieces and nephews, and call so-and-so to ask about their job interview, first date, doctors appointment, etc.  I’m BIG on handwritten cards (yes, including thank you notes) and on remembering important events.