Monday, October 29, 2012

Finish Strong: Thoughts of an Armchair Quarterback

I am a huge football fan.  I love the sport because of the physical strength of the players, the endless stats that can be derived from the games (yes I am a nerd like that), and the mental toughness that it takes to show up at every game no matter what.  Since my team (the Eagles) are doing particularly poorly this season I have decided to take an interest in random players on random teams.  And I am getting caught up in all of the drama that goes with the NFL.  Does Peyon Manning still have it?  How far does "Bounty-Gate" really go?  Are the Redskins going to protect their exceptional, record-breaking quarterback?  These distractions take the sting out of a cocky, overly-talented, bunch of individuals who can't seems to string together 60 minutes of teamwork to win decisively this season.  But about finishing strong....

I turned to the middle of fourth quarter of the Saints/Broncos game Sunday and I was pretty conflicted because these are two quarterbacks that I currently cheer for.  The score was 7 to 24, Broncos up.  The Saints were in possession of the ball and Drew Brees was cool, calm and in control.  He was trying his best to set up plays to put points on the board even though it was clear they were not going to come back and win this game.  He showed so much strength under pressure, going through the fundamentals and just plugging away at the plays and the steps he had practiced for countless hours.  Even in a losing battle he showed himself strong.  He had the resolve of a champion; he was very much in the game.  My takeaway: you may not win them all but don't let that reduce you to subpar performance.  Finish strong.

The journey of life is filled with many twists, turns, and opportunities.  You will not be victorious in every little battle, but you have the overall victory in life if you keep focus.  Don't let the small foxes take you out of the big game.  You belong here! You were created for a specific purpose.  Drew Brees was playing that losing game like the Super Bowl champion that he is.  You have a champion inside you! Finish strong!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Let It Go

I am a recovering "Yes Woman".  There, I said it out loud.  I was the person who used to commit to things that I did not really want or have enough time to do.   The person who just didn't want to make waves; go with the flow, you know the type.   But when you keep giving and giving and giving, you eventually have nothing left to give (particularly when you are spread across activities that are not your passion).  Living this way you will find you become depleted; devoid of energy, inspiration or joy.  Life is not meant to be lived this way.  We are created to live with purpose, having meaningful connections with mutual give and takes.  My personal road to recovery started with the following:

  1. Just Say No.  Seriously, if you are already over-scheduled and running on empty, you must decline any additional commitments until you are able to find a balance and recharge your batteries.  I started saying no to things and at first it was a bit challenging, but it got easier and more freeing the more I did it.  Look in the mirror and practice saying no.  You can do it.
  2. Delegate. I have been a bit of a control freak, I can admit that.  However, I have learned the value of allowing others to take on responsibility where they can.  Contrary to my former self, I have come to embrace accepting help and doling out tasks that others can do.  
  3. Determine your worth.  This is HUGE!  There are just some people that are not worth your time, effort or energy.  Don't want to get to deep here, but if you are always giving in certain relationships, or ones where that person consistently lets you down, it is time to sever the ties.  Save your best self and be energized for the relationships that add value to your life.
  4. Breathe deeply everyday.  The pace of life can leave us running all of the time (my people in the DC Metro can surely relate).  We run from home to work; from work to home, to church, to __________(fill in the blank).  This running makes us susceptible to making decisions in haste.  Breathing deeply, and I mean a concentrated, fill-your-lungs with air breathing, will give your brain the boost it needs to be at optimal productivity and less likely to make poor choices regarding how you spend your time.
  5.  Laugh often.  If I am not laughing and enjoying life it can't be good for me in general.  Yes, we all have times of pain or sorrow, but on a daily basis there should be joy and laughter in your life.  Complaining, grumbling, or dreading your basic day-to-day activities is WARNING sign for sure.  Don't ignore the warning.  Laughter is truly medicine for the soul and should be a part of your daily living experience.
The bottom line is Let It Go.  Whatever IT is.  Let go of the IT that drains on your time, your joy, your peace.  You only have one shot at this life and every single day you have left here must be spent living intentionally focused on what really matters.  Let It Go.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Be the Change

A few months ago I introduced the Breathe-Relax-Aim-Sight-Squeeze concept that I
adapted from my days at Army Basic Training to center myself.  Well, in the midst of the presidential campaign, the economic ups and downs, the dismal effort put forth by our elected officials, we must continue to create balance in out own lives. We do this by knowing where to place our hope.  It is certainly not in politics.  I truly vote my conscience so the reference to hope is NOT an underlying political message of any sort.  My hope is in God. It is that simple. I have begun a daily mantra: I will not be moved by circumstances.   My pastor just preached a sermon that put a renewed fire in belly.  He talked about the change that one person can make by keeping the faith and allowing their faith to shine through in their actions no matter the circumstance.

I work as a Federal Government employee and this time of year is always the most stressful (change of fiscal year); especially with a Congress that has not passed a budget in three years. There have been talks of personnel reductions, hiring freezes, and we have not gotten pay raises for two years.  The tensions are running high and most people are allowing the uncertainly to dictate their actions. But I have resigned myself to be the atmosphere regulator for my office.  There are many things that are out of our control, but we can control how we talk to one another, how do our jobs, and how we choose to see our circumstance.

In essence, we must be the change.  This again, is NOT a campaign slogan it is the only way to guarantee you live a life of substance and purpose.  Be the change you want to see.  You may not see it but seeds you plant will manifest.  So as long as most people think that it is someone else's responsibility or that it is not your problem, those seeds continue to manifest our culture of apathy.  Be the change! The most courageous thing one can do is take a stand. I am singing,

My Hope is in You God
I am steadfast
I will not be moved
I'm Anchored, Never shaken
All my hope is in You

I encourage you to find your inner strength and become the you want to see.  Little by little we can change the world around us.