Monday, December 29, 2014

Obligatory Year in Review Post- 2014

It's that time of year. It's time to reflect and set goals and intentions for the New Year. Since this month marks my one year anniversary of blogging, it seems only appropriate to make my final blog post of 2014 a reflection post. So, ladies and gentlemen, here's my year in review.

In January, I hired a personal trainer. I didn't really have an aesthetic or weight-related goal in mind. It was more about becoming a better me. I knew I wanted to take up running and possibly run my first race. Prior to January, I hadn't as much as run around the block. But, I wanted to stretch myself to do something I didn't think I could do. Well, it turns out I ran not one but two races this year, and have two others in mind for the first quarter of 2015. I'm still not sure I'd call myself a runner, but I definitely run, and that's a really cool aspect of the new me.
Also, in early 2014, I became a Zumba instructor. I figured I was already a class regular and dance was my happy place. Why not make a part time living at it? In fact, I left my full time salaried position and ventured into freelance work in order to make room for a life of movement and exercise. I won't lie. It wasn't easy. There were many meltdowns and moments of second guessing. But I can honestly say that it was a sound decision. I'm happier and more fulfilled in my work life. Sure, revisions will continue to be made, but I'm undoubtedly more aligned with my passion than ever before.
My personal life in 2014 has I witnessed single girlfriends who had nearly thrown in the towel, meet and marry men they love within a period of months. Another friend got pregnant and happily welcomed her first child. Other friends have dated quite a bit and enjoyed every minute of it. My life, on the other hand, has been crickets on the relational front. Even after reluctantly delving into online dating, it's still been crickets. I'd love to say I handled this gracefully. No. It frustrated me and a few more meltdowns ensued. But then, I decided to embrace it. I intentionally reached out and rebuilt my social network from the ground up. I cultivated new connections and deepened old ones. I opened my home and hosted parties. It was all for the purpose of establishing community. I wanted to feel like I could have an active social life and a sense of family, with or without a mate. In reflecting on this year, I can say I have that. I wanted the walls of my home filled with laughter and fellowship, so I created it. I think that’s pretty awesome if I do say so myself.
All in all, it's been a good year. Even with the emotional turns at each point, I can honestly say that I accomplished everything I set out to do. I was intentional and I generally got the results I wanted. This encourages me as I prepare myself for a new year. I'm not huge on resolutions but I do set goals. And if I set goals and a game plan to achieve them, I'm confident I will. So stay tuned folks. With all that's happened in 2014, there's no telling what's in store for 2015!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Faith like a child

I remember one year in grade school we were making Christmas lists. It must have been one of those fun, non-academic activities you do right before holiday break. I remember distinctly informing my teacher, "I might need a second sheet of paper please." To be as shy as I was, I had no qualms about listing all my wants, no matter how grand. For me, it wasn't even about whether or not I'd get everything on my list. I just knew if I asked to my heart's content, I was bound to get something I wanted.

Fast forward to today. Usually when people ask what I want for Christmas I’m like, “Um, an ink cartridge for my printer, AA batteries, and a Starbucks gift card.” In fact, over Thanksgiving my friend asked me what I want before the end of the year- not just what I wanted for Christmas, but what did my soul want to happen in my life. What was my expectation for the future? She told me to be specific and take my time with the answer. I reflected a few moments. Then I felt my chest tighten and a lump form in my throat. I was frozen. I couldn't, or perhaps wouldn't, allow my mind to visualize anything. I realized I was afraid of desire. Gone was that confident little third grader. Somewhere along the way I had become a jaded adult. Why didn’t I believe anymore?
You know why kids are so optimistic? Because for most kids, life hasn't beaten the crap out of them yet. They are 100% sure of their lovability and worth and there's no question of good things in store for them. But then a shift takes place as it does in all of us. Innocence is lost once your heart is broken and your hope is disappointed. It can't help but change you. Sure, your mind rationalizes that everything happens for a reason. You tell yourself you probably dodged a bullet and were spared from something you didn't know about. Your heart, however, concludes that desire is dangerous. It hurts to want something so badly and not have it work out. You learn you can avoid that hurt if you have low or no expectations. It seems like the only sensible way to cope in a world where stuff happens and you don’t always get the outcome you expect.

The problem with this “sensible” approach is that while it keeps you from major disappointments, it also keeps you from truly amazing experiences too. Let’s face it. You become incredibly vulnerable when you open up your heart to possibility. The stakes are high and you could plummet to the ground. You could also soar when you realize you got what you always wanted and more. Of course, it would be great to get something you weren’t expecting. But what if you made your intention known and believed for it? How much more complete would your joy be, had you been waiting in hope rather than shrinking from hurt?

Christmas is all about miracles. It’s about believing. It’s about light coming into a dark world and restoring hope. We don’t just have the promise of eternal hope. We can lay hold of hope now. We can fully expect positive change in our present circumstances. We can ask freely for each and every desire of our heart knowing that the Giver is able and willing to give us all good things. This Christmas season I want to return to the faith I had as a child. Whether or not I get everything I want, I will ask boldly like I did before. It’s scary. But when you think about it, what’s the harm in believing?


Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Made to fly

I finally saw the Broadway hit Wicked. It was amazing. All the acclaim is well deserved. Like many people, I was moved the most by the piece, "Defying Gravity." If by chance, you haven't seen or heard it, here it is.

The background story of the number is that Elphaba, later known as the Wicked Witch of the West, dreamed of meeting The Great Oz. After suffering years of pain and rejection for being different, she believed she finally had a greater purpose. Her life would now have meaning because she’d use her previously misunderstood gifts to join forces with the most powerful man in all the land. When she realized that things were not as they seemed, she had to face the pain of letting go of a dream.

Have you ever been there? Have you had to let go of a dream? Have you had to walk away? Have you had to tell yourself, “I don’t want it…I can’t want it anymore”? Well, you can conclude dreaming isn’t for you and decide not to dream anymore. Or you can decide, hey, it’s time for a new dream. I need a dream that’s not dependent on what anyone else can be for me. I need a dream that allows me to be myself, maximize my potential, and fly higher than I ever knew I could.

The reason we get chills at the climax of this song is because we align with Elphaba. We root for her. We see ourselves in her. We believe right along with her that everyone deserves a chance to fly. No, everyone was made to fly. In order to fly, you must let go of what pulls you down and set your mind to soar above it. Flight requires defying gravity. To overcome the law of gravity, you must first accept that something greater exists. Sometimes it’s not until you’re stripped of the dream you thought you wanted that you realize how much more you were created for.