Making a Change that Sticks: New Year’s Resolutions

Things Have Got to Change

Things Have Got to Change (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I stopped ascribing to New Year’s resolutions many moons ago. I, like many others, found out that midway through year or even the first month, excitement wanes, no one is paying attention to whether we are keeping them or not (they don’t want us looking at their failed resolutions either!), and suddenly change doesn’t seem so important (the extra 20 pounds you put on last year really aren’t that bad).
Instead of resolutions which, amount merely to a change in behavior I am going about my life a little differently now. I am convinced that the reason most resolutions don’t work is because we attempt to change behavior without changing attitudes. We want things to be different, but we still feel the same way about them. Now I’m not saying because you give up having chocolate fudge brownies every other day that now you should be repulsed at the sight of them. But as they say, your relationship with food has to change. No one gains 50 pounds overnight. But somewhere along the way you convinced yourself, whether consciously or subconsciously that keeping your temple in sound condition wasn’t as important as tending to other things in your life. Or somewhere, your spending got out of control because you were persuaded that you couldn’t possibly do without all those things now cluttering your basement and closet. Now at every year’s end you’re hell bent on getting out of debt by making the same resolution. And every year you fail.
But I propose that we change our spirit; I propose that we embrace the principles of God to love Him first, then ourselves, followed by others. We when are focused on living in this truth we began to reach for the tools that affect real change. We focus on changing our lifestyle so that we can be healthy and sound and whole enough to achieve our life’s purpose. We learn how to control our spending because living a broke life limits our ability to help others and keeps our focus on that dollar instead of on that which really matters. We renew our spirit, cleansing it from toxic thoughts, letting go of fear and hurts and all the stuff that eventually pours over into our souls—affecting our mind will and emotions. And lastly it shows up on our bodies.

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Yes, your spirit is the essence of you–the true you. And when it is in poor health, every aspect of you is affected. You will try to change from the outside in and it won’t take. Take a look on the inside and line it up with God’s Truth. No more pretending, no more faking it, no more comparing, just live in truth. In doing so you will find yourself slowly living out every resolution you’ve ever made.

The Relevancy of your Faith

japanesewomangivingthankstothecreatI’ve watched one or two of those reality shows that gather some of the brightest and gifted minds in the entertainment industry for a game of show; those who have fallen by fame’s wayside for one reason or another and are now attempting to make their second or third resurgence via reality TV. (The genre is a forgiving haven for those cast from the spotlight.) We are always asking, whatever happened to…

After a few painful episodes of this show and that one, I came to this realization: mere talent is not the main variable to success. Being the smartest or most gifted person in the room is become less and less a deciding indication of your escalation to fame. Do such things give you an advantage? Yes, sometimes. But often they are the greatest hindrance.

Those people that believe they are particularly bright, gifted or beautiful or have some kind of peculiar and intriguing talent usually rest in that very talent. They rely on it like an eagle does its wings. And when it fails, the fear settles in as they flutter around seeking Plan B. And no I’m not seething with jealousy or any kind of envy. I am just an observer.

Most of us have to confess our fears and insecurities upfront before we experience any kind of success. Our fears are daunting and undeniable and have to be dealt with head on. For that group of exceptional they can hide it for years behind the glossy beauty of talent and gifts. This is not to say that the rest of do not possess some kind of gift. I believe we all do. But for the majority no one hears us flawlessly playing Beethoven’s Fifth at six years of age, most of us aren’t 6’2 at 12, dunking shots off of grown men. No, for most of us we have to seek and find that place where we fit.  We have to work hard and face so much failure we threaten to quit every day.

It is here that our faith becomes the most relevant factor. It becomes the single most undeniable force; this is the fulcrum for our success. It is the Plan B for the most talented but necessary for us all.

Consider this: more than 300,000 books are published in the U.S. each year; and that is not including e-books. To sit for days, weeks, months and sometimes years at a keyboard with the sincere hope and belief that within that haystack someone besides our parents, siblings and spouse will find us takes some kind of faith. There will be many times where this feeling of ridiculousness will overwhelm you and you will question the validity of your project. And you will press through. Writer’s block will leave you stumped and confused. And you will not give up. Sometimes, you will count time vested as time wasted. You will blow this off.

And when the work is done, they will tell you that the real work hasn’t even begun. You’ve got to market that baby, they will say. You will sigh and roll your eyes and huff. Then you will get to work. You will read; how to publish a book in 30 days; 21 ways to double your Twitter followers in a week; Five thousand Fabulous Facebook Followers. A tiny voice will whisper that it is all gibberish and worthless. And you will initially be convinced to believe it (some of it will be), but quickly realize that doing nothing will result in eminent death of your project. And then your faith will push you, prod and demand from you.

And finally when you have done all that you can do your faith will compel you to release the reins. It is then you will see it clearer. Your marketing will make sense. Those who are needful to you will become more apparent. And most importantly, your faith has moved the hand of God. And He my friend is the most relevant factor of all.

It Won’t Work Unless You Work It: Living the Dream

The thing about success is that it is elusive to most of us. It is a risky thing to work at something for weeks, months or even years before seeing results. In the beginning everyone is your biggest supporter because we all like a hearty success story; more than that, people just like new, including me. That fresh, clean smell of a brand, spanking new project is like euphoria unleashed. The air feels cleaner, the sun seems brighter, your back’s a little straighter and you have a positive word for everyone who crosses your path.

Even if you haven’t quite done anything yet; you’ve thought it through, talked about it, prayed over it, read as much as you could take on it. You’ve inspired yourself into a type of: Tony Robbins/T.D Jakes/Joel Olsteen fit. The numbers have been run, and your parents and mentors and sisters, brothers and closet friends all agree that this is the perfect time to do it.

So there it is. Grinning like a guy in an ad for a Colgate commercial, you give your sleeves the proverbial roll-up, turn from the inspiration to the task it takes to get there and…sigh.

 It is then you remember the errand you have to run, that phone call to what’s-his-name that has to be made now because you haven’t spoken to him in forever. You find everything to do but work. I could call this procrastination, but this really wouldn’t be digging deep enough.

It is that fear of not enough that creeps in after the dust clears and all you can see is labor. Let’s face it inspiration doesn’t last forever. It’s like falling in love. At some point in the relationship, your stomach doesn’t do that, ‘thing’ when you see him, down the line you won’t think of him every hour or giggle to yourself when you do. Nope. It’s doesn’t mean that the love is gone. It simply means that you have settled into something more sustainable. The energy of love is still there but it has been redirected to the needful things; sharing the remote, washing his clothes, backing down from an argument because being right is always necessary.

Likewise, with projects the energy of shouting it to the mountaintop has to be redirected to actually developing the business plan, making the cold calls and perhaps hearing a 101 ‘nos’ before you hear a ‘yes’.

There is always the fear that you will invest time and money in this and your project will mock you and then keel over and die. A tiny dark voice will whisper that you are not enough; no one will ever buy, invest or believe in this thing and that they will all stare at you with glazed eyes in the middle of your presentation. There will be that sickly feeling inside that all those who are on board with you will be embarrassed and disappointed by this fantastic dream of yours. And you will have to tell yourself that this will work and it is meant to be. When you stop believing it, will you will have to say it again, and again until you believe it again. Eventually you will have to find that place inside that will sustain you through this task. It is this fine line that separates the winners from those that just like winners; we all do.

Your dream is not for any prize or accolades. No, it’s because something has weld up inside of you and won’t go away until it is realized. It is the God inside of you telling you this is His plan, His will, His way. But it won’t work itself. So…work it.    

The problem with Kanye West’s Genius Theory

Genius

Genius (Photo credit: Celestine Chua)

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

There are a plethora of famous and infamous eccentrics that claim to be misunderstood, misquoted or misjudged. Most couldn’t care less about what you think of them. Kanye West isn’t one of them.  He’s the one who will whine and complain when the media gets it wrong, mixed up or simply steps on or over his delicate line.

I’d like to think that I’m sympathetic to the plight of the underdog, the misunderstood. The media has a big voice and it is often the only one the world hears. Like anybody, they often get it wrong–even with a guy like West. So when I read that Jimmy Kimmel had done a spoof on his show, West retaliated with words, they both said some things and so on and such, it piqued my interest (probably a little more than it should have, after all it is not like I am a huge West fan). But I just prefer it when people get it right. So I watched the show, the one where Kimmel invites West on so that they could settle their “beef”.

He begins somberly talking about himself, how difficult it is always being perceived by the press as arrogant and pompous when in fact he is doing everyone a favor by showing up for work every day.  He called himself a genius; he said it as casually and offhandedly as I would call myself a woman. He went on to say that many people feel they are genius, but are too caught up in being socially correct to admit it. We, he says are clothed in false humility. He is not. He is honest about his genius factor.

Among other narcissistic, self-absorbed clamoring he lamented that the media and the powers that be in the fashion and entertainment world are constantly overlooking his indelible stamp in the industry and he is not getting his due…uh no… he didn’t mention any of his 21 Grammy wins. I’d hope to find something redeeming, something graceful about him throughout the interview but found myself wishing I’d read a book, taken a walk, skipped rocks or done anything but watch it.

I have a problem with labels. Firstly, they are confining. They place you in a space that is often unrealistic, if not inauthentic. As humans we are rarely any one thing all the time. We are complex, multi-faceted and insanely imperfect. In one aspect we are brilliant and in another we are bumbling and almost idiotic. We can be both humble and foolishly self-absorbed.  Our humanity is the best and worst part of us. Once we think we have it all figure out, the entire thing falls apart, for reasons we can’t explain.

Once we start believing these labels, they trip us up and baffle us as we try to live them out with a fantastic-like fervor.  And when we fail we are both frustrated and confused.  What you are is simply what you are; whether it’s innate or something you grow into. It isn’t covering you wear like Prada, or Gucci; it is not a tiara or a crown for the world to see and admire. Your diva or pimp-status isn’t freeing, it’s debilitating.  It causes others to look at you in one way, and one way only. And when you fail (and we all do) the world will shake their heads and wonder.  And you will wonder too.

Who you are, who you truly are is a part of your design for a reason and purpose. And when you are walking authentically in such glory, the bullhorn becomes unnecessary. No need to scream it on the mountain top or prance it in front of the grown folk like toddlers do when they’re donning Momma’s high heel shoes trying to look the part of that which is much too big for them.

If you are a genius, you will never have to speak it. People will admit it, in spite of themselves.  They will love and hate you for what you possess.  Not once did Jesus say he was the King of the Jews. That was their proclamation, (indeed it was true). You will not have to whine that you do not get your just.  Your reward will seek you out. If you have something the world wants they will come to you as you walk out your truth. But most importantly, if you do possess these things people will see you in action.  Your movements and ways and voice will change lives, create movements, and they will hail it even as they see you coming. Your announcement of your label isn’t confidence; it’s your need for confirmation, to consistently hear your own voice remind you that you’re OK. People who are truly OK don’t’ walk around saying, “I’m OK.” (Those are the people you avoid for obvious reasons.)

Save the labels for clothes and canned goods. Live what you are and you cannot be denied.

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

When dreams die, they die young: Confessions of a Writer Part I

I knew from the first moment I looped twist ties through a thick stack of notebook paper with the edges still frayed that I wanted to be a writer. There was this feverish excitement to watch written words come alive. And when you’re six years old and add a few pictures sketched and colored with Crayola crayons, well you might as well be a NYTBSA.

Yep, six years old with these characters that seemed to come from nowhere. They were my creation, my friends and once they were out on paper they were no longer imaginary, they were real people.amazing_silhouette_photograph_14

I started telling anyone who would listen that I was going to be an author when I grew up. I was going to write fiction. I don’t know where I got such a big, complex dreams but it seemed I knew and understood them intuitively.

After a few years I stopped this ridiculous confession because as I looked around no one in my circle of influence was talking about writing books and authors and such. Do those people even get paid? What would you even write?

By sixth grade grownups were always asking me what I wanted to be when I grew up. By the looks on their faces I knew it had to be something that required college and a degree I could hang on the wall in my office.

When I grow up I want to be a psychologist.

When I said this people drew in long breaths and smiled with admiration. Psychologists were smart people. Educated folk, they said. This was a wise choice. With a clear head and a dedication to school I could become that or even an accountant. You see my Daddy said I should become an accountant and I could, once I learned how to be good with numbers. His brown eyes let up as if he could see it in his mind’s eyes.

Yes, I would be either a psychologist or an accountant as Daddy suggested.

My father worked at General Motors for 30 years. On the, weekends he wrote and read every day, for hours. About a year after he retired he died. After his death we found piles of notebooks filled with his writings. I wonder if anyone ever asked him what he wanted to be? I wonder when he sat in the big chair with his tall legs crossed looking over his bifocals writing in those notepads did he ever wish he could do that all day?

Well, I went to college and graduated with honors.  I got a Bachelor’s in Journalism so at least I would be sure to get paid if I just insisted on writing.

I don’t quite remember when my dream to become a fiction writer began to die. I suppose it was a slow process, like someone who is terminally ill and finally stops struggling against the inevitable. It’s almost a relief just to give in. There’s a feeling of satisfying indolence when you’re no longer struggling. I guess that must be what a physical death feels like.

When dreams die, they usually die young.

They die in the womb; at the point when they should be cared for the most, tended to to  make sure the roots are strong.  They don’t usually die brutally; but go the way of neglect. We stop speaking over them, we don’t feed them anymore. We smother them with the expectations from others, disappointments and fears we’ve learned from our environment and all the lies we tell ourselves.

Eventually, as a young woman, I discovered this little seed; hidden and long forgotten.  Stories played in my head, like when I was six. They needed to be recorded.

Whenever there is something still alive there is hope.

Not all dreams die young. Some dreams just refuse to die.