Category Archives: Blogs, Messages and Thoughts…OH MY!

This page will be home to some of my writings, thoughts and opinions on various topics as well as transcripts from speeches and messages I’ve given to different groups including youth worship and other church services and events.

Building with Your Brain

Whoa! Where did all the time go? 2018 is here! For many that means they’re either building off of what they experienced in 2017 or they’re trying to do something completely new and different. New Year’s resolutions anyone? Sometimes that new and different is letting go of habits, grudges or destructive behaviors. For others it is picking up new positive habits, discovering their untapped talents or reinforcing good behaviors like healthier eating or exercise. These are pretty standard as far as resolutions go. But if we are going to go with resolution standards then that means only 8% of the people that make these resolutions will succeed at keeping them. Ouch.

Some people don’t like to make resolutions for that reason, they don’t like to try something that they feel they’re more than likely going to fail at. Some people just don’t like to call them “resolutions” because that seems like such a complex word or that it means they’re resolving to change something about who they are and that is a pessimistic point of view. Some like to use the word “goals” instead as they seem much simpler and more positive.

Nonetheless, some people choose not to make any goals or resolutions or whatever else, they just decide to go into the next year, seeing it as just another day. I’m not going to say that they’re wrong to not make goals or resolutions, but it doesn’t seem like life could be very fun or exciting without something to look forward to or strive for. And if you’re not putting any energy or effort into your life you are missing an opportunity to make a difference in somebody’s world, maybe yours.

So whether or not you made a resolution or goal or whatever else you want to call it, let me implore you to do a few things in 2018 and see how your world changes. These challenges I give you will be different from your normal goals or resolutions, these are all meant to change the way your mind thinks and the way you see the world. Thus causing you to change it. Let’s see how you can build a better year in 2018 with your brain.

Dream, and never lose faith in what could be. Do you remember when you were a young kid in kindergarten or elementary school and the grown ups asked you what you wanted to be? And how they encouraged you and played along with that dream? I’m sure a lot has happened between then and now that probably derailed you from going after it. Or maybe your dream changed as you got older. But it is very important to still have a dream. And no matter how big or how small you should still take steps towards that dream. Need help getting there? Take a listen to my first podcast episode with Dream Manager Jonathan Dunn of Break Free Enterprises and find out how to contact him here. 

Create the future with positive thoughts. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, thoughts become things. When your attitude is negative and you keep thinking and worrying that things are going to come out bad, they generally will. But if you jump out of bed, excited for the day and the endless possibilities then your day will probably be that much more fun. Athletes use visual therapy or sometimes hypnosis to see themselves having a good game and they are known to perform better. To read more about how much your thoughts can have an impact on you click here. 

Imagine what could happen if doubt and fear were cast aside. Maybe good things don’t happen in your life not because of your negative thinking but more your reluctance to do anything. You might have found your dream job that would be perfect for you, but you don’t apply because you don’t think you’re qualified enough. That attractive person you’ve made eye contact with at a place you both frequent could be your soulmate, but you’re too nervous to talk because of fear of getting shot down. You don’t ask for a raise or promotion. You pass the ball instead of taking the open shot. Because you let fear control you, someone else got the job, the girl/guy, the promotion and the glory of the game winner. To paraphrase Barbara De Angelis, “you never lose by loving(trying). You always lose by holding back.”

Breathe, relax, and center yourself. Even with positive thinking, moving towards our dreams and overcoming fear, we still are going to hit stumbling blocks leaving us frustrated and disoriented. It’s okay, it’s part of life as a human. The important thing when this happens is how we react. We may find ourselves in scenarios where family and little ones are watching or people from work are watching when something goes awry, and how you react could be the difference in how they see you, and in the case of the little ones, what kind of behavior they believe is appropriate. It takes just one second for something to come flying out of your mouth that you can’t ever take back versus a few seconds more to take some deep breaths. For more ways on how to calm yourself and read a story on a donut shop manager that failed to do so, check out this piece here.

Inspire others to be their best and follow their heart. One of the most fulfilling things you can do in life is to help others. In the middle of last year I took a promotion at work that was nice, financially. But it took time away from finding more opportunities to be doing what I love, and that is helping people find the healthiest and happiest versions of themselves. I’ve since stepped down from that position and rededicated myself to my main focus. In addition hoping to help people is why I started this blog last year. Also why I added a podcast at the end of the year where I interview people who do inspiring work. I don’t know exactly how many people I’m reaching or helping and I know this page isn’t the most read blog in history, but that’s okay. Every now and then I get glimpses of someone being moved or inspired. Every now and then I get to celebrate achievements with my clients. I get to witness happiness of my friends near and far and try to lift them up in times of sorrow. I don’t do it for the appreciation, for the acknowledgement or the credit. I do it because it feels good to help others and see them do good.

There you have it, a blue print on how to build yourself a better 2018. Dream, Create, Imagine, Breathe, Inspire. That’s just 5 things to focus on and it all starts with your mind. That’s just the blue print though. It’s up to you to put them into action. Go out there and make 2018 your best year yet!

 

Like what you’ve read? Any more ideas on how to make it a better year or looking for some encouragement and guidance with your year? Fill out the contact form below and I would love to speak with you! Also, please feel free to share with anyone else you think would enjoy or benefit from this.

 

Holiday Survival Guide

Just when you thought you’d finally fully recovered from Thanksgiving, the holidays are here. And with the holidays comes family visits and/or company holiday parties. While many of us look forward to these times of celebration with merriment and glee, there are still many more that look at these with anxiety  and dread. Whether it’s awkwardness with the in-laws, a grudge with a sibling, or tension with a co-worker, what should be feelings of excitement and anticipation of the Christmas season seems to be quelled by situations such as these. That doesn’t sound like a fun winter break now does it?

I am fortunate to have a great relationship with my in-laws, be real close with my brothers and already survived my staff holiday party and had a blast doing so because I enjoy the people I work with. But it doesn’t mean I have not heard from other people their feelings of despair and nervousness for the visits to come in their lives. Allow me to share some advice I had for them.

Drop the dread. Ever walked into a room or stumbled across a couple people who weren’t talking at the moment and you could feel the tension between them? Well more times then not, people will get the same feeling from you when you’re holding onto anxiety about seeing them or an underlying anger about an old issue that may not have been resolved the way you wanted. When they sense that, their defenses go up and their mental troops start preparing for verbal battle. Is that how you want it to go? To help combat your feelings of anxiety over this, contact the person beforehand and tell them you’re excited to see them (even if you’re not) and share a memory of a good time you had together or a positive story you heard that made you think of them. The outcome might just be that you disarmed a potential bomb on the holiday for the both of you and set a new precedent and expectation of happiness for your visit instead.

Buzzwords for your buddy system. My supreme teammate, my wife, and I work together when heading into what we know could be emotionally dangerous situations. We create a buzzword or signal to give each other to say “Help! Get me out of this situation/conversation!” and we can then rescue one another with an excuse. Set something like this up with your significant other or friend or family member to help you the same way. Going to an event on your own? You can use the age old blind date trick of having a friend call at a specific time with an “emergency” so you can leave if need be or simply ignore the call if you’re having a good time.

Take a moment with john. Whether it’s a company party or a family get together, I’m pretty sure anywhere you go is going to have a restroom and even if you have to use a stall, you can find some privacy and time to yourself there. If you’re finding yourself starting to get a bit tensed, frustrated or flustered simply excuse yourself and take a breather in the bathroom to get re-centered. Just check your shoes on your way out to make sure you don’t have any toilet paper trailing you out, the embarrassment from that could be worse than the reason you went in there to begin with!

Treats are neat. If you’re hosting or going to someone else’s home, party favors are always a hit. Who doesn’t like a gift or prize?! You just might be the star of the party by having a little give-away such as ornament or little bag of candy. Yes it’ll cost you a little money up front, but the more people you have on your side because they appreciate a gesture, how bad can that party really get?

Avoid the obvious. I’ve been told a time or twenty by my wife to ease up on the competitive nature. If you have family members or friends that get overly competitive, then you might just want to skip the games to avoid any arguments or fights. Sore conversation topics should be avoided as much as possible as well such as breakups, job loss and of course, politics. Anything that is going to get people heated up and possibly cause drama is best not to be had at a party.

Take things outside. No, I’m not encouraging you to go outside and fight, per say. However you can cool off outside with a brisk walk, some Christmas caroling or some fun in the snow such as snowball fights, building a snowman or making snow angels. Things get too heated inside? Head right out the door.

Holidays can be stressful times, we all get that. But it doesn’t mean that they should be. We should be able to focus on what the holidays really stand for and represent. I hope that just maybe a few of these tips will help you and yours have a better season this year.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Got any holiday survival tips of your own? Like what you’ve read? Please feel free to comment or fill out the contact form below and tell me your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you! And please feel free to share this page with others!

Which character are you?

Keys clenched in her hand that’s almost visibly shaking with nervousness and anxiety, a woman walks through the doors of her local gym for the first time since she joined just a few days ago. She was a little anxious last time, but not nervous. Last time, she had the comfort of her baggy winter coat hiding her frame. Her body that she had at one time felt comfortable in, until that jerk ex-boyfriend of hers had started to make little comments about it throughout their relationship. They seemed like little comments to him, but a lot of guys don’t think about things the way girls do. Whether he was sincerely encouraging her to “take better care of herself” or was pushing buttons out of frustration, his little pebbles he thought he was tossing at her were more like blocks of C4 explosives,  being set with a timer at all the key foundation points in the building of her self esteem. All seemingly timed to detonate once he was out of the “blast zone”- at the end of their relationship. Now here she is, at the gym in her workout gear just under the safety of that baggy coat, “ready” to workout for the first time in a long time. She is “greeted” by someone at the front desk, scanning her membership card and asking how she is doing. The greeting and question probably would’ve helped relax her if the scanner person actually looked up from the computer or fully disengaged from the work they were doing.

She continues on to the classroom where the boot camp was being held and walks in to see several different cliques of people, standing around talking and laughing. She tried not to look directly at any of them and through the peripherals of her eyes she envisioned them all with “perfect” bodies. Muscles bulging where they should be, chiseled and toned everywhere else. Also relying on her peripherals, she didn’t look directly at them but swore they were all looking directly at her as she made her way to the back corner of the room, hoping she’d be under a light that was more dim than the rest. “They’re all staring at me! They’re all judging me! I don’t want to take my coat off! Maybe if I grab my phone and pretend I got a call I can walk back out…Shoot! I left my phone in the car!” Her mind is rapidly shooting through all these scenarios, trying to come up with things to say to people that stare at her. Trying to think of excuses why she should leave. Trying to convince herself she can workout at home tomorrow morning and she’ll “really do it this time.” There’s one small voice still within, probably the smallest and, ironically, the one that makes the most sense, whispering to her “You got this. You have no reason to be embarrassed or afraid. It’s just a class.” But she doesn’t hear it as the sense of touch overrides that small voice and instead she feels the car keys in her pocket again and decides it’s time to go.

“Hey, do I know you?” a voice asks in her direction, startling her as she makes her first step for the door. She turns to see someone’s eyes light up and their mouth stifle a giggle and then from the same eyes and mouth she receives what her senses tell her to be a sincere “Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to startle you! I thought you were someone I knew and hadn’t seen in a while. But come to think of it, I haven’t seen you before. Are you new here?” With the sincerity and innocence of the question, our new gym goer’s apprehension starts to dissipate as she answers “Yes. Is it that obvious?” Again with a giggle the stranger responds “Nah, I just have missed some sessions and so I didn’t know if you came here when I hadn’t. Welcome! You’re gonna love this class! I’m not much one for working out but this one is the right balance for me of just enough work to make me feel like I did something and being lots of fun with great music where I enjoy myself the whole time! Plus I feel less guilty about that frozen coffee I had this morning… or the scoop of ice cream I’m gonna have later. Put your coat over there then come over here by me and I can help you out since it’s your first time!” Suddenly, that whispering voice was the only voice she heard, loud and clear. And it sounded just like this stranger! As she made her way over to her new friend and the spot she reserved for her she finally took a solid look at the people in the room. She saw not all of them but some of the people in good shape, sure. But she didn’t see judging eyes or people leering and whispering to one another. She saw friendships and smiles, full of encouragement and hope.

Much like Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son, I’m betting each of us can relate to one person or another in this story. And with each point of view in this story comes a lesson to be learned. Did you catch the lesson? Let me offer some help.

The protagonist – Our main character, the woman is full of anxiety and nervousness about her first day at a new place. While this could of have been an exciting start to a new journey, she let the harsh memories of the words of an antagonist in her past dictate how she felt about herself, and in her mind, how she figured other people looked at her. She kept her eyes down and diverted away from the people around her, missing opportunities to connect were it not for the stranger at the end. Ethel Barrett once said “we would worry less about what other people thought of us if we realized how seldom they do.” Another smart woman, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt said “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

The stranger – This woman can almost be considered the hero of the story as she saves our main character from running out and giving up on herself. While it started out a mistaken identity, thinking she was approaching a friend, the stranger could tell that the woman was nervous and helped calm her and even invited her over to where she was to take care of her during the class. This was one of Jesus’ requests for us, to “love thy neighbor.”

The scanner at the desk – Our “supporting cast” character here was more like an “extra” in this scene as they didn’t do much to really support or welcome our main character. Maybe they were in the middle of what was given to them as an important task or they were just tired of being there after a busy day, but their role here could have been so much more important had they simply looked up and noticed the anxiety on the woman’s face and offered a warm smile and taken interest in the woman’s day. You never know how much of an affect you can have on someone by taking one moment. “A random act of kindness, no matter how small, can make a tremendous impact on someone’s life,” said by Roy Bennett.

The jerk ex-boyfriend – We’ve all said things we probably shouldn’t have and have probably had some of our words taken the wrong way, but words can do some serious harm. He may or may not have intended on being a jerk but we need to watch the words we use. Author Nelson Searcy said “Being intentional simply means refusing to be careless with your language any longer and becoming more conscientious of how you talk to yourself and the people around you so you can have a positive impact on their own life and on theirs.”

The others – Much like the scanner at the front desk, there was a room full of people talking and enjoying themselves and didn’t give much thought or consideration to the new person joining the class. Do you watch the world around you? Or do you have blinders on and are focused solely on what’s important to you? Would it be too much to simply greet someone you don’t know? “Kind words can be brief and simple, yet they echo in our memories forever.” – Chinese Proverb.

Did you catch that? The same story, different sides and different lessons. If there was a person that you related with most in this story, I hope that the lesson stays with you.

Like what you read? I’d be interested to hear your thoughts or even which person you related to in the story. Fill out the contact form below or leave a comment! Also, please feel free to share this with others, follow me on Facebook or subscribe so any new posts come directly to your email!

 

 

 

 

Thankful for a Year of Growth

It’s that time of year, the holidays have arrived along with the cool, crisp air usually accompanied with it. First, we have Thanksgiving, celebrated in America as a feast of epic proportions served with a side of family and/or friends. Most eat in the middle of a day of laziness between watching hundreds of people marching and performing in a parade and a large number of grown men playing football. At least, that’s what it has been for me most of the years of my life. This year was something different, however. For one, my wife and I are enjoying our first holiday season in our new home. But we also got involved with other traditions this year which included helping people who were in need and then spending Thanksgiving day with a couple families we’ve grown close to this year for a “Friendsgiving.” It was a fantastic day with them that just felt right, which has made me thinking about it since. I realized something- it wasn’t just this one day with these friends that made this year different- it has been the whole year with them. And it has been the whole year with my wife and I. As we drove home from Thanksgiving dinner that night, I said to my wife “This has been a really tough year…but, it’s been a really good year,” to which she agreed. How can you have a really tough year but have it be a really good one? Let me explain.

First off, there’s this thought that all things that hurt you or make you struggle are bad for you. That is not true in all cases. Sure, feeling hurt is no fun, nor is it to struggle. But often times when we struggle is where the most growth happens.

We grow in our faith. We learn to believe that there is something bigger at work here and we need to make it through the struggle to get to what is planned for us. When you step back and look at the situation objectively, you can sometimes see God’s hand at work in all the pieces around you. You might not see this right away, sometimes it takes months or even years later. But when you can look at it that way, your faith grows exponentially.

We grow in our relationships. Those pieces that God moves around you just might be the people He brings in your life for particular reasons. They are the people that support you and encourage you through the tough times. They are the people that lend an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on. They are the people that might be going through the same experience that you are themselves or they will go through it with you. But when you go through a life experience with someone at your side, that relationship is going to have some growth, usually closer together.

We grow in confidence of ourselves. Life isn’t just a beautiful view at the mountain tops or highs of our life. We must also go through the valleys, or down, sometimes dark times. But when we continue to move forward it won’t be long until we come across the trail to the top of the mountain again. The more we get through the valleys and to the top of the mountain, the more we grow in confidence and belief that we can make it through what comes our way because we’ve done it before.

As I mentioned earlier, it was my wife and my first year in our new home as we closed on our house in early January. A mountain top moment for sure for a newlywed couple. Our view made it to an even higher peak when my wife took a new job doing something we knew she would love and was perfect for her. But, once you get to the peak you have to come down. And we received news that felt like an avalanche was rushing us to the bottom…and burying our dreams there. We were told that biological children wasn’t likely to happen for us. Even if we used IVF (in vitro fertilization) our chances didn’t improve much better. Instead, it would increase the chances of my wife developing some form of cancer or another. With her family health history the way it is, that was a non-negotiable for me. It took 33 years of my life to find her, I didn’t dare want to attempt anything that could possibly take her from me sooner.

It’s been a long 11 months since we received that news. To compare it to a roller coaster ride would not be accurate in the least. The drops on coasters are the fun and exciting part. Our drops were full of confusion, grieving, sadness and tears. On one of our first dates when we met we laid out how kids were part of the plan for both of us in our hopes and dreams for our futures. We put it on the table early on so we could let the other know if they were just wasting their time. Now here we were, married almost 2 years after that discussion, with what was supposed to be part of “the plan” now off the table for both of us. My wife tried to “give me an out” one time, saying she couldn’t blame me and would hold nothing against me if I wanted to leave because we couldn’t have the family we wanted. I told her there is no way she was getting rid of me that easy. I told her that I said “I do” to a marriage and life with her, that she is the family I wanted. I made it super clear to her that I would always be by her side and I have been- for the break downs, the tears, the counseling appointments and most importantly, the prayers. She has been there for me for my moments of feeling weak as well. We have experienced them all together because it was our news that we got. And it has been our actions since. Lifting each other. Encouraging each other. Consoling each other. Making each other laugh, even when we didn’t want to laugh. Praying for one another and praying together. And through it all there has been healing and there has been growth. In our friendship. In our relationship. In our marriage. In our faith. We’re making our way back up that mountain. Not to say that we don’t still stumble and fall a bit every now and then. But we’re still looking up and climbing that mountain together.

Some may ask, “How do you grow in faith and continue to pray when you were given news that destroyed your dreams? When you keep falling down that mountain side? When God did this to you?” I can confidently say that they are wrong and right at the same time. They’re wrong in thinking that “God did this to us,” but they are right in that God is there in this situation. You see, it is in these moments, when you’re at a low that God extends His grace to you. At least I know he did for us. We may not know for a long time or maybe even ever at all why we won’t get to have biological children. But we do know God extended His grace to us in several ways. One of which is allowing my wife to love many kids as the job she took that I mentioned earlier is as a Director of Children’s Ministries at our church. It’s certainly not the same as being a mom but being someone that can love and influence many children is a special gift.

But one of the main ways God has extended us His grace in this situation is the friends he blessed us with. We have had so many friends and family members willing to offer up prayers on our behalf, give us hugs and talk to us, as well as listen when we were feeling down. We were so thankful for all the kindness we received from all those people. There were a particular few, however, that helped make this tough year a good year. And it was those that we had Friendsgiving with.

During the course of the year we formed accountability groups together, the wives in one and the husbands in another. An accountability group is where you can get together in a safe space and open up about what has been going on in your life. Your moments of weakness, of anger, of sadness, of despair and your moments of sin, or falling short of what God wants for you. You can open up about these things without fear of gossip or private matters being spread and you can share without fear of being judged. Your accountability partners are there to listen, to console, to advise and, when necessary, give you a loving smack on the side of the head or kick in the pants, metaphorically of course. Your partners also usually pray with you and for you and there is power in that with God. Matthew 18:20 says “For where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there with them.”

My wife and I relied heavily on our accountability groups, but they relied heavily on us too. Each family at one point or another during this year had a valley they were going through. But just as mountain climbers do, we linked ourselves together. We set our safeties on the Lord and we helped each other out of the darkness and back up to the mountain tops. The amount of growth our families had together in our relationships was simply undeniable. And it was clearly evident at the table on Thanksgiving when we shared the things we were thankful for. Not one of our answers was given without a tear and not without a mention of our thankfulness for each other.

My wife and I don’t know what exactly the next step is for us as we have contemplated several options over and again, including it just being us in our Gruss household. But we know that whatever we do decide and whatever comes our way, we are not alone. We have each other, we have our amazing friends, and we have our Lord that blessed us with both. And no matter what comes up in their lives, they know they’ve got us too.

The Difference between Dieting and Daily Diet – One is Phat!!

Overcoming fear. Getting through hard times. Showing appreciation. Setting goals. Creating new habits. I’ve covered many things on how to improve your life emotionally and mentally. However, one thing I haven’t gone into too much detail about is improving your life physically. I may have touched on it with the setting of smart goals in this post here: Be Smart About What You’re Trying to do, but I haven’t gone anywhere past that. One would think it’s surprising that I haven’t really tapped into physical health given my general occupation as a Personal Trainer and, of course, just how important exercise and healthy eating really is. Author and fitness professional Bill Phillips has been noted as saying that “food is the most widely abused anti-anxiety drug in America, and exercise is the most potent yet underutilized antidepressant.” I think this is a fantastic statement and one I wholeheartedly agree with because exercise does make you feel better. But when you look closer at the part of the food being widely abused, that’s just having an unhealthy relationship with food.

Most of the time people think of an “unhealthy relationship with food” meaning overeating or, the other side of it, issues like anorexia or bulimia. Yes, those unhealthy lifestyles can lead to many medical problems in the future. But, that’s not what I aim to talk about here today. I want to talk about the difference between a diet and your daily diet, or lifestyle choices when it comes to food. While most diets are designed in theory to improve your health or at least help your drop some weight, they can potentially lead to unhealthy habits and effects on your body. To be fair, the same can be said for your daily diet if you’re not careful. What I mean is that if you’re daily eating style consists of high sugar, high sodium (salt), high cholesterol, high fat- then it is only going to be a matter of time before you have severe health issues come your way. However, am I telling you to completely remove sugar, sodium, cholesterol, carbs and fat from your list of foods you can eat? Nope, I’m not doing that either. Especially when you are first trying to make a healthy lifestyle change.

One of the most common diet moves you’ll see people make is they try to completely cut out carbs or sometimes sugar. Completely cutting something out of your diet suddenly can benefit you health wise, depending on what that item is (we’ll get back to the carbs thing later). But mentally and even chemically you can cause your body to go through withdrawal when you remove something that you ingest daily, which can cause some emotional havoc for you and the ones around you. Think about it, how many times have you talked to someone that was sincerely happy when they said “I’m on a diet”? This is usually because people aren’t happy to be dieting. There are times those diets help them succeed at their goal and the dieter loses weight. Boy, are they happy to start eating those carbs again! But what happens over time when that one thing that they cut from their eating habits gets reintroduced to their daily meals? That weight starts coming back again. This is why you hear most diets called “fad diets” or “yo-yo dieting.” Because although the results can look great, they are rarely sustainable, specifically when you remove something from your diet for an amount of time, your diet ends, you start eating the food you cut again and before long you’re back where you were before the diet. So you went through the moodiness of being on a diet, then became temporarily “skinnier”, and now probably upset again because that weight is right back on. So did the diet work or didn’t it? Should you try the diet again or try a different one? These are the questions that leave people wanting to pull their hair out when it comes to dieting- and now you have to worry about going bald too?!

Before I go any further, this is where I let you know I am not a licensed dietitian. As a part of continuing education for my personal training certification I did complete a “Weight Management Specialist” certification, but that does not mean I am here to prescribe a food regimen for you. I just want to share some basic information with you, something I share with my clients, and then you can choose where to go from there. I should also point out that I’m not trying to bash anyone or any specific diet or lifestyle – if you find something that works for you, I am all for that. I just want to better inform everyone the difference of daily diet and dieting.

As I mentioned before my little disclaimer, most diets have you cut something out. Immediately. Now to be fair, we do tend to over-indulge in food as a society in America and some of those foods we could absolutely afford to cut out or eat less of. But to give it up so suddenly and completely?! That just seems cruel! And, it can lead those unhealthy relationships with food I spoke of earlier. Aside from withdrawal you could also face the mental anguish of temptation as that food is “forbidden” so you crave it more. You could face guilt when you give in to that temptation which could snowball into several other outcomes such as emotional eating because you’re disappointed in yourself, binge eating because you gave in and now can’t stop or bulimia to get it out of your system because you felt weak and gave in. Do any of those options sound healthy? Now, some people can quit things cold turkey (turkey? Where’s turkey? I love me some turkey!) and those people have a stronger resolve then some of us. But I can only imagine some of the internal battles they have going on in their head.

So how does one avoid these unhealthy scenarios and maintain a healthy relationship with food? For me and what I tell my clients is that the problem is going from the way we have been eating to suddenly cutting one of those main things out. For example, carbs. (I told you I was going to come back to this one!) For some reason carbohydrates have been labeled as evil in the surface health community when the truth is that carbs are your body’s main source of energy. The evil is the kind of carbs and amount of carbs we eat, kind being refined or processed and amount being too much. Will cutting carbs from your daily food intake help you lose weight? Yes, quite possibly because your body will start to feed off of it’s fat and muscle stores. But by not feeding your body it’s main source of energy you could find yourself feeling sluggish and again, failing to give your body it’s energy needed to do your daily routine and even fail to make your workout routine as effective.

Another example of having a healthy relationship with food by not cutting something completely out is, dessert. Desserts were made to be enjoyed and add sweetness to our lives, not necessarily inches to our waist. Again with an evil reputation, the same types of evil apply here as carbs: what kind of desserts we eat and how much. Now don’t be confused, I’m not telling you that dessert is something that you should be getting your energy from or even have it as part of your daily diet. What I am saying is that dessert is okay to have, just be aware of what you are eating and how much.

That brings me to my final point about having a healthy relationship with food and how to get healthier, while still enjoying the foods you love. When it comes to my clients, I simply tell them to track the food they eat. By using apps such as myfitnesspal, you can see what it is you’re eating and the amount of calories, fat, protein, carbs and many other nutrients that are in a serving and make healthier and educated decisions from there on how much of it you want to eat. Food tracking apps like this one do give you a recommended calorie amount as well as the other macronutrients, but I’m not telling my clients to cut to that amount right away. I suggest tracking the food you do eat for a week or two and look at it from a broader perspective. From here you can start to make adjustments to what and how much you eat, aiming for the goal of staying within the recommended amount. At the same time, this amount also adjusts based on your current weight, your goal weight and your activity level which means you’re not stuck at the same amount of calories or “points” forever. Meaning, the harder you work at your activities and more disciplined you are with your food then you’ll drop weight and increase your activity level which will give a higher recommended calorie budget.

As you see those gradual changes numerically you will also find yourself feeling better physically. These changes together will prepare you mentally to either continue down the road to even healthier eating, or you will find what I call “the sweet spot”, where you are happy eating what you want because you know your body is going to put in the work. When you’re in the sweet spot, basically you’re looking at maintaining and maintenance. What I mean by that is if I want to eat cake or ice cream, I’m going to eat cake or ice cream. I can do this because I know I can either put in hard work at the gym to burn that dessert off because my body is able to do so. Or I can eat a little cleaner the next day or two in order to even out my splurge and it won’t be hard for me because I eat relatively cleaner as part of my normal daily diet. Or I can do both. Thus maintaining a healthy relationship with food because over time I’ve made the cut backs on portions and what I eat, but I can still enjoy the foods I love because they aren’t “forbidden”.

As I said before, if you find something that works for you, such as making your way over to eating super clean, that is great! I am sure you are reaping the health benefits of it and are enjoying a very healthy lifestyle. But that is the important thing, you choose it as a lifestyle. Not just something to try to quick lose a bunch of weight in a short amount of time. Crash diets usually end with a crash. When you choose to find a healthier way of eating and one that you can sustain for your life, you will find yourself physically, mentally and emotionally happy.

If you find that you are addicted to food, suffer from an eating disorder or that the food you eat is causing you health problems you can find help here or information for a local dietitian here.

Like what you’ve read? Please feel free to share it with others using the social media links to the right. Also, you can stay up to date with me by liking my Facebook page to the far right, or subscribe to my blog through your e-mail using the sign up on the left. Feel free to let me know what you think using the contact form below!

Your Rainy Day Box

This past Monday ran like any other Monday for me, as far as the planned activities go anyways. But something else about it was different. I had the weight of management responsibilities at work off my shoulders for the first time so I was happy about that during the day and in turn my day flew by. But then evening came and I was at home alone while my wife was at a bible study. I had a list of things I wanted to get done but was struggling with the first, which led to dismay with the second and eventually all of them. I found my mood spiraling down to where I just felt exhausted and disappointed, eventually just laying down and waiting for my wife to come home.

Could this sudden mood change been my own doing? That I was just being hard on myself because I couldn’t figure out the solution to my first task? Quite possibly, as I’ve written about being hard on yourself before in my post http://stepuptogreatness.com/index.php/2017/03/05/do-you-love-you/. But sometimes, we just find ourselves feeling down and out for no reason at all. We find ourselves unhappy, sad, angry and of course unmotivated to do anything. Fortunately for me it was the end of the day and I didn’t have any real deadlines to meet or anything. But what about when you wake up in that mood, as we all have, and don’t want to face the day?

In his book, The Secret to Success, motivational speaker Eric Thomas tackled this issue of when you have days that just aren’t feeling right. Finding a solution to this was very important to him and his position because he was teaching and tutoring troubled youth at the time as part of a court ordered program for those youths. Coming from a troubled background himself, Thomas knew just how vital it was to have people that lent support, encouragement and the belief that you are capable of more to instill that drive in an individual. With Thomas now facing the task of helping these young, impressionable people, he knew that he had to be at the top of his game each day. What transpired from this revelation was what he called his “rainy day box.” It was quite literally a box, such as a shoe-box, full of things that inspired and motivated him.

This idea of a rainy day box completely resounded with me. After reading the Rhonda Byrne book, The Secret, years ago I knew how important the power of positive thinking is. I also talked about the importance of this in a previous piece, with a link to that here http://stepuptogreatness.com/index.php/2017/02/17/wheres-your-mind-at/. There’s the concept of “thoughts become things” and that when you think positively, you attract positive things in life. When you think negatively, you attract negative things. By having a rainy day box, full of things to improve your mood and thinking to a positive perspective, you’re going to be able to perform much better and be much happier in the process.

So what do you put in a rainy day box? Let me offer you some suggestions and examples of my own:

  • A movie. – We all have favorite movies that pick us up and get our mind juices flowing. They can be comedy, drama, romance or even documentaries. Really any genre and any movie that lifts you up. You can go with the underdog movies such as Rocky or Rudy as they persevered through great resistance to get where they wanted. Of course you need to be wary of time if you’re going to use a movie to lift you up when you got things to do. You can sometimes find popular scenes from the movies on YouTube.
  • A picture. – Whether it be a poster, framed photo or even wallet size, looking at a visual trigger can help change your mood pretty quickly. It can be of a place such as a destination you would like to visit or place you’ve been. It can be of someone who inspires you or whom you look up to or of course someone that you love that makes you happy. I was fortunate Monday night to have the real thing, my wife come home, to help get me out of my blueness instead of just looking at a picture of her. Together we talked and reminisced about fun and exciting things we shared rather than me thinking back on my own, which would’ve still worked well too.
  • A book, article or poem. – Again, time can be a factor here when it comes to a favorite book, but you could also distract or reset your mind by reading a chapter or two. Or a favorite article from a magazine or newspaper with an uplifting story or even advice on how to get through tension and sadness such as breathing techniques or beginner’s meditation. Some people even have favorite poems that lift them up. In my box, which is really the drawer of my desk, I have the front page of the newspaper the day after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the championship in 2016, the city’s first professional championship in over 50 years. It reminds me of the night it happened and how much fun it was seeing people celebrate downtown.
  • A prayer or favorite Bible verse. – The Bible is known as the greatest story ever told and being such is full of uplifting stories, parables and prayers. Finding a favorite verse or even have a prepared prayer can help just ease your feelings and fill you with joy and grace as God will undoubtedly be glad you turned to him. One of my favorite verses is Jeremiah 29:11, “”For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”” This verse always brings me peace after reading it and I often find myself giving a prayer of thanks after.
  • A favorite song – Music has always had a strong role in my life and is often one of the quickest ways to reinvigorate my mood. Whether it’s the song itself or a memory attached to the song of a concert or life event, the sense of hearing can trigger both nostalgia and hope for the future with the right song. Of course cd’s are a little outdated now but you can always create a great playlist on iTunes, Spotify or even YouTube.
  • Exercise – Okay, so this one doesn’t fit in a box, (but your membership card to a gym can), truth is working out is one of the best ways to relieve stress. Whether it’s going for a walk or run, attending a class, lifting some weights or even doing a exercise video, strenuous exercise helps release endorphins that chemically stimulates your brain and makes you feel better. I recommend HIIT, which stands for High Intensity Interval Training, which gets you a quick but hard workout in a shorter amount of time. You can Google “HIIT workouts for ideas. 

There you have some simple but good ideas on what you can have in your rainy day box to help turn your day around. Of course I should mention if you’re experiencing something more than a “rainy day,” such as depression and thoughts of suicide you should talk to someone and seek professional help. 

My Monday night I talked about earlier finished off with my mood lighter and me sleeping soundly because my wife helped me think of and recall some of the things that I keep in my rainy day box without actually opening it. And of course it didn’t hurt having her there snuggling up next to me either. The next morning I woke up refreshed and ready to start my day…but just to be sure I listened to a couple of my favorite songs and it was a great day! 

Did this piece help you? Or did you already have a rainy day box? If so, what do you keep in it? I would love to hear from you! Please feel free to comment on this page or find me on Facebook. 

May all your days feel sunny and bright! 

     

    Second isn’t first loser…

    As far as competitive people go, I’m right up there with the best of them…I mean, worst of them. I’ve been scolded a few times about getting too heated or obnoxious with my trash talk, especially in front of younger people who can be influenced by the things they see or hear. So yes, I hate to lose. But there is also a part of me that knows to recognize achievements and blessings when efforts don’t quite end in the desired fashion. After-all, I was raised in Cleveland- we’re used to not being first in a lot of things. Cleveland may be the punchline of a lot of sports jokes, but those from here are also used to being proud of where we’re from anyways. Up until Kyrie hit “the shot” that landed us our first professional championship in over 52 years, we still loved, reminisced and praised the “great” teams of our past, even though they fell short. The “Kardiac Kids”, the 1980 Browns team or the teams led by Bernie Kosar in 1986 and 1987. The Indians of the mid 90’s, falling short in the World Series twice. The late 80’s/early 90’s Cavaliers with legends like Mark Price and Brad Daugherty. Then again the Cavaliers with LeBron his first time through Cleveland, making it to the Finals once only to get swept by the Spurs dynasty. And we’ll reminisce on the Indians of these past two years. Losing in game 7 of the World Series in 2016 and then getting knocked out of the ALDS after a historic September including a 22 game win streak. All teams we’ll remember, memories we’ll cherish.
    So what about when we compete or try for something? Are we supposed to wallow in disappointment if we don’t get what we originally set out for? Or, on the flip side, is it wrong for us to be proud or satisfied with how we did even though we didn’t reach the complete fulfillment of our goal? I have had some ups and downs in my life, some very recently, that have made me realize it is about your perception.

    Does failing suck? Yes, absolutely. If you wanted first place in a competition or wanted to complete a specific achievement and you don’t get it, you’re going to generally feel lousy. But from there it is up to you to decide how to react to the lousy feeling. Frustration can be your achilles heel or it can be your driving force and motivation to get better. Or it can be the turning point in your life that makes you realize that maybe the thing you desired wasn’t meant for you. Or at least, not at that point in time.

    As part of my journey of self improvement this past year I had joined an organization called Toastmasters. They focus on improving your public speaking skills and in turn, your communication and leadership skills. I’ve seen some growth in my skills since I’ve joined and just a while ago had the opportunity for even more growth as I competed in our local speaking contests. I had to give a humorist speech, which, in itself was a challenge for me to write as most of my “humor” is usually off the top of my head and in the moment, usually some sort of corny quip or pun. One of my long time friends has always joked about me telling “teacher” or “dad” jokes. But I committed to the competition when I signed up for it, first participating in my local club. I came up with my topic, wrote, practiced and delivered… 

    After winning in my own club I moved on to the Area Contest, competing against winners of other clubs. I had almost a month to prepare for the next round, as far as dates went anyways. Right smack in the middle of that month I had a weekend retreat to attend in which I was also slated to give a 20 minute speech. One could say I was a little distracted with that as well as things in life in general. It was just 3 days before the next round of contests that I began making what I hoped were improvements and practicing what I had nearly forgotten. What a blessing my wife was as she sat through me practicing so many times the night before that she practically could recite the speech.

    The next morning I listened to other speakers give incredible speeches and I gave my all in mine and I felt pretty confident in how I did, trying to rate myself as objectively as possible. When a woman who I was sure had years of experience in the organization was announced for 3rd place I let myself think for just a second “I think I did it!” A moment later I was announced as 2nd and in that brief moment I felt the air knocked out of me. But then as I received my certificate, listening to the small audience applaud for me and seeing the proud look on my parents’ faces- I felt good! I anxiously reported the results to my wife via text and I’m sure I beamed with delight when I got the congratulatory response.

    You see for that brief second, hearing my name announced not for the position I desired but for “first loser”, I was bummed. But then I took a step away from the situation and really thought about it. In my first time ever, competing against experienced winners of other clubs, in something that was somewhat foreign to me just months before- I took second place. I took second place and I didn’t even get to prepare the way I would’ve like or like I should have. This wasn’t a let down for me, or disappointment. This was a stepping stone. Or it was a cornerstone, a foundation for what I can build and improve upon.

    You’ll hear from very competitive people that “second is just the first loser”. If that’s what they use for motivation and find it works, great for them. But you’ll here success stories from some of the best thinkers, workers, inventors, athletes, etc., that failure was a big part of their success. It is said that Thomas Edison failed 10,000 times before he finally created the electric light bulb. That obviously sounds crazy to think about, that he didn’t move on from that task. But I’m also thankful he didn’t and inspired.

    Since my second place finish I’ve been re-prioritizing the things that I do want to accomplish and focus my passion and energy on. Guess you could say that I am moving towards success thanks to my failure. You could also say, to those I’ll be competing against when competitions come around again, “watch out and good luck.”

    Reflections and looking forward

    One of the more common things that keeps us from being productive is checking our social media frequently. You have the status updates, the pictures, the check ins and of course the articles and advertisements. I’m aware of these procrastination traps but yet I still log in for “just a minute”. Most days I have plenty of stuff going on at work and extra curricular activities that I really don’t have time to check it out. But one thing that usually does get me back each day, just for that minute, are the flash backs.

    One of the reasons I like to look back at my flash backs is because my life has changed so much in just the last 10 years. Heck, the world has changed so much in 10 years. And 10 years flies by sooner then you know it. That favorite song of yours from “just a couple years ago”? Yeah, that was 10 years ago. That high school reunion you skipped figuring you’ll catch the next one? Dude, that second decade since you graduated is almost over. I’ll give you a minute for the stinging in the pit of your stomach to subside.

    Time passes and it never stops moving. Even the invention of a “stop-watch” is made to look like a gimmick when it comes to time always flowing. But when I take a minute or two to check the flashbacks on my social media page, I know I might be losing that time in the real world but some of the memories I have on there, I feel like they allow me to stop time temporarily and revisit those special moments. A birthday party. A visit with a friend or family member. A new relationship. A concert (crap, that concert was 10 years ago?!).

    Along with all those fond memories you probably have some posts that you can learn from. How crazy you sounded ranting over something so trivial. Not exactly a leadership quality is it? Oh wait, I forgot how time changes things and now we have a leader that rants on social media every day. Maybe he’ll learn from it too one day. Speaking of learning from posts, there’s the times someone might’ve put all their personal business all over social media. Probably regretting it a little bit now. There’s also the terrible jokes, ignorant comments and, of course, the questionable pictures we can look back on.

    These past few weeks I’ve been finding myself remembering milestones through the flash backs as they’ve held a lot of significance for me in those 10 years I mentioned. Aside from the 10 birthdays I had during those July months, I also made several huge life changes. One time preparing to move to Florida and then seven years later preparing to move back. A lot of fun in-between and since. A lot I’ve learned in that time too. And it just so happened this week, that as I was seeing the flashbacks of my big move down south, that I was able to share some of that experience and knowledge with a good friend getting ready to move to Florida with her charming fiancé. I already know by watching the two of them interact that they are going to have an incredible life ahead no matter what I would have said but sometimes good lessons are worth mentioning.

    Here’s some of what I told her:

    • Always communicate with each other about how you’re doing. It’s one thing if she was just moving by herself but they are going together and that’s 2 people’s different takes on the same experience. Meaning they are going to have different ups and downs but when you have a partner in life that you know is with you no matter what you can communicate about your struggles and know that they are going to help you through.
    • Immerse yourself in everything as soon as you can. When I moved 10 years ago it was exciting but also rough. I didn’t know the area very well or many people besides my family I had down there. I got homesick pretty quickly. Thanks to some friends I made that got me into a lot of fun and exciting activities my homesickness went away and I was able to enjoy the experience for what it was and still healthily miss my friends and family back home.
    • Do what’s best for you. Yea, moving away from family and friends is hard. But we all have our own lives we have to live and sometimes we have to experience things on our own to get to where we need to be. This may mean friendships change but sometimes those relationships were just meant for that particular time in your life. The people who truly care for you will wish you well, keep you in there thoughts and prayers and maybe even be around to catch up from time to time in the future. But you will always have your memories.
    • You can always come homeIf Lebron and I aren’t the two most prime examples of this then I don’t know who is. Oh wait, there’s the prodigal son Jesus talked about! For me, I never saw myself leaving home in the first place. But the winds changed and it was meant for me to go to Florida and gain some of the life experiences I had and meet some of the people I met. There were some incredible times there but at the end of it all my heart still called me to come back home where life has been great to me since. But now I am lucky enough to know a whole different group of people in another part of the country that I can call my family and call that area my second home.

    My advice to all of you- always feel free to take a moment to look at where you’ve come from. To remember what you experienced and who you experienced it with. To cherish the memories. To learn from the mistakes. And with those glimpses back don’t get caught holding onto the past. Experience life now, in the present. Make new memories and try to avoid mistakes. But know that’s its okay when they happen, it’s a part of life. And some times, the stone you trip over might just be a building block to your future.

    Upper Thirties

    Upper thirties. You might think that with me living in Northeast Ohio that I’m talking about the weather here. Normally, you’d probably be right. But instead I sit in front of the computer on the eve of my thirty-sixth birthday. I’m entering my upper thirties…crap. Well, that’s my initial thought anyway.

    I feel like just 2 weeks ago I was with my brother and all our friends playing softball on fields away from the street and parking lots so we could drink while we played. (I turned 21 that summer so it was the open container that was the issue as far as the law was concerned, not our age).

    Then it feels like just one week ago I was surprised by my friends and family in Florida with a 30th birthday party. They totally got me on that one because they directed me subconsciously to suggesting the restaurant they planned the party to be at. Tricky mind games, but I was younger and less wiser then.

    Okay so aside from me having these 3 birthdays in 3 weeks what else is ridiculous here? Suddenly, I’m hitting my upper thirties. How did this happen? Where did the time go?

    Again, more thoughts I was initially thinking. Then some impromptu reflection with one of my clients made me realize that even though time has flown by, a lot of great things have happened in that time.

    Between ages 21 and 36 I moved 7 times, once out of state. I have held multiple jobs and pursued multiple careers but am now in a place for nearly three years where I am positively impacting people’s lives. I have 4 nieces and 3 nephews. Although He was with me all along, I finally turned to see and find Christ. He led me through some difficult times, introduced me to some amazing friends, including my best friend- my wife. She and I are now homeowners (which is HUGE since I basically hit the “reset” button on my life when I moved back from Florida 3 years ago).

    So while time seemed to fly, a lot of amazing things happened in that time. That’s the thing, time is going to keep moving. It NEVER stops. But you can lift your head away from your phone screen and see what’s going on around you. You can interact with the people with you at lunch or dinner and reminisce about the good times you had and create new memories. And you can start planning things for your future.

    I hit the reset button on my life the summer I turned 34. I met, courted and married my wife and we now own our home. I have a career helping people become healthy.

    Looking forward, I am involved in side projects such as this webpage and working on my public speaking, trying to better myself so I can better help others in the future. Time has flown but I have so much ahead of me. So while I was a little nervous about entering my upper thirties, I know it’s just a number. God willing, I have a whole lot ahead of me still.

    And if the thought of your age starts to betray you, I leave you with some pretty amazing examples below:

    “At age 23, Tina Fey was working at a YMCA.
    At age 23, Oprah was fired from her first reporting job.
    At age 24, Stephen King was working as a janitor and living in a trailer.
    At age 27, Vincent Van Gogh failed as a missionary and decided to go to art school.
    At age 28, J.K. Rowling was a suicidal single parent living on welfare.
    At age 28, Wayne Coyne (from The Flaming Lips) was a fry cook.
    At age 30, Harrison Ford was a carpenter.
    At age 30, Martha Stewart was a stockbroker.
    At age 37, Ang Lee was a stay-at-home-dad working odd jobs.
    Julia Child released her first cookbook at age 39, and got her own cooking show at age 51.
    Vera Wang failed to make the Olympic figure skating team, didn’t get the Editor-in-Chief position at Vogue, and designed her first dress at age 40.
    Stan Lee didn’t release his first big comic book until he was 40.
    Alan Rickman gave up his graphic design career to pursue acting at age 42.
    Samuel L. Jackson didn’t get his first movie role until he was 46.
    Morgan Freeman landed his first MAJOR movie role at age 52.
    Kathryn Bigelow only reached international success when she made The Hurt Locker at age 57.
    Grandma Moses didn’t begin her painting career until age 76.
    Louise Bourgeois didn’t become a famous artist until she was 78.
    Whatever your dream is, it is not too late to achieve it. You aren’t a failure because you haven’t found fame and fortune by the age of 21. Hell, it’s okay if you don’t even know what your dream is yet. Even if you’re flipping burgers, waiting tables or answering phones today, you never know where you’ll end up tomorrow.
    Never tell yourself you’re too old to make it.
    Never tell yourself you missed your chance.
    Never tell yourself that you aren’t good enough.
    You can do it. Whatever it is.”

    Move through what scares you

    Spiders. Snakes. Mice. Sharks. Dogs.

    We all have things that make us nervous, fearful and scared. For instance many people are afraid of some of these animals I listed. While other coaches may encourage you to “face your fears,” I’m not going to tell you to jump in to shark infested waters or a pit of snakes.

    Enclosed spaces. Heights. Water. Darkness. Dentists. Hospitals.

    These are more of your traditional phobias, which is still defined as “an extreme or irrational fear.” But with these being more geographically or surroundings based, this isn’t what I plan on talking about either.

    Ambition. Trust. Commitment. A confession. An apology.

    What I do want to encourage you to do today is to move through the obstacles and fears similar to these that you may have that keep you from moving forward in life.  What do these fears have in common with the other fears? Why are these fears seemingly bigger than the other ones I listed? How can you overcome any of these fears? Let’s take a closer look together.

    One thing all these fears could have in common is they could all be debilitating. Whether it’s a seemingly dangerous animal, a scary place or an overwhelming call to action, these fears all have the ability to make us feel weak and stop us where we stand. Although not completely unfounded (I know I’d probably freeze and even wet myself if encountered with a shark), we really are not doing ourselves any favors when we are paralyzed with fear. Clearly we aren’t improving our situation with the shark by staying still in the water. Nor are we doing anything for ourselves if we don’t move forward on the things that we want in our lives because we’re too scared of failing that we never even try. And if we don’t move past the things that hurt us or are too afraid to have a tough conversation where you feel you might be letting someone else down, you’ll never be able to truly heal.

    Can good things happen to us without us trying? Absolutely. I believe that God is great and He has amazing things planned for us. However, He didn’t send Jesus down to earth to just sit there and wait for people to come to him. He had to go out and make miracles happen, to find the people and speak with them and lead them. He even had to overcome doubters, clerics and traps that were set for him. He also had to have faith and believe that God would lead him through. But even then, just having that belief took action. It took Jesus kneeling down to pray. Look at the change that he has made on the world.

    Now I’m not saying you have to be Jesus and overcome death. But I am saying don’t be scared to death of taking action. A lot of things out there can seem daunting and make you fearful. But often times what’s on the other side of fear is something incredible. You just have to have strength and faith to push through that fear to get there. And once you’re there, the weight on your shoulders suddenly drops. The chain that was keeping you attached to what you were dreading suddenly snaps and lets you go. And you’re free. But the reality of it is that the fear isn’t real. It isn’t an actual weight on your shoulder or chain locked around your ankle. It is something made up in your mind or even worse something the devil keeps whispering in your ears. It isn’t real, but the thought of the pain of things going badly can certainly make it feel that way. There might be some repercussions for decisions you make but if you surround yourself with good people that care about you, if you make decisions in your life based on the things you truly value and use them as a compass on what direction you should go in throughout your life, then I don’t think you should have anything to be afraid of. I say this from experience.

    I’ve had to have what I thought were going to be grueling, agonizing and terrible conversations where I was afraid I was going to disappoint someone. I’ve had different versions of it with my parents, with friends, with co-workers and most recently my wife. On another post I uploaded a few months ago I mentioned a promotion I had received and while it was an honor and much deserved, it also presented some challenges when it came to time management. A few months later and only 1 post here since lead me to this newsflash: I’m not perfect. Not even close. While I felt completely capable of the job and the work it entailed, the position itself was requiring a lot of time and attention. I felt myself getting pulled further away from the aspects of my job that I was really passionate about, which left me feeling buried in stress. Which led me to the conversation with my wife. While in my heart I had no doubt that she would support me, there’s still a tinge of fear in your brain, whispers of lies in your ear from the devil. This is sure to happen when you have to tell someone who is counting on you and relying you for so much that you need to make a major change that would certainly affect things financially. Would she be angry? Would she resent me? Would she tell me “tough, you gotta keep doing it”?

    That fear was built up in my head. She listened to me. She held my hand. She voiced concerns, yes, but she laid it all down when she told me that she believed in me and wanted me to do what I felt was best and what I thought would make me happy. And she affirmed her faith in God as well when she said she knew He has a plan for us.

    That weight? It was off my shoulders. That chain? She helped me leave it at the foot of the cross. With my wife’s support I felt rejuvenated and was thankful to God for giving me the right words  for my next talk, with my supervisor. And I was thankful for him understanding when I told him I needed to step down from that position but wanted to remain there doing the best work I could, doing a job I was passionate about and impacting people the best way I knew how. Since both of these conversations I’ve felt much lighter and a new fire within me leading me to capturing new clients already fairly easily by just being my normal calm and focused self. What’s going to happen when I put all my focus on it?! Ooh-wee!

    These two conversations clearly worked in my favor, does that mean all of them will? No, not at all. My past conversations didn’t all go smoothly, but here’s the thing: they are in the past! I moved through it and moved on. No matter the outcome of the conversations the important thing is that action is taken and you are moving forward. If you’re not happy with your situation or are dwelling on something, why would you want to continue to be unhappy or have the unnerving feeling of anxiety when you don’t have to?

    I still advise you to avoid those sharks and snakes and any other dangerous animal that would scare you. But when it comes to living life, I strongly urge you to move forward! You’ll never know what great things you can accomplish until you try.

    If you like what you’ve read and would like to talk to me about it or anything I can help you with, please feel free to fill out the contact form below and I will get back to you!