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▪️PICK YOUR BATTLES

The world needs skilled fighters

The subject line of his email read “People are messy.” Now that’s a a piece of bait almost everyone can relate to. And as I clicked through to see the rest of his content I almost laughed out loud 😆 his video message was entitled, CONFLICT.

Oh how I wish we were all seated on my living room sofa together, cozied up and sharing our war stories of conflict. Why is conflict so especially difficult for women? Whether it’s in your family sphere, your professional sphere, or dare I even say in your friendship sphere – can we all relate that if we had a choice we would never, yes I said never, engage in conflict?

This is the attribute that I have had to work through the most. It’s the attribute that has broken me down and built me up as a person. The attribute that calls me to stick up for myself and others has forced me to learn how to pick my battles and fight right.

And what I’ve learned is, knowing how to fight gives you courage.

Sometimes when I’m on my morning jog I fantasize that I have one of those totally ripped P90X bodies and the kung fu fighting skills to go with it. I think I’ve created an alter ego. She is the physical embodiment of my inner convictions. She emerges when I’m faced with battling the things and people that are wrong and unjust in my life. She belongs in every Marvel movie sticking up for what’s right and fiercely upholds the truth. She is everything I aspire to be.

Alas, when my jog is finished and the endorphins subside, she is gone, and I am left to do the fighting on my own.

I have a deep need to see all things GOOD, RIGHT, and JUST prevail in every way and my fight girl goes into battle mode when I’m faced with these conflicts. However, her superpowers are fiction and the real me, the “please God don’t make me engage in conflict” me is left to strive and sweat for the GOOD, RIGHT, and JUST on her behalf. I’m learning this is the hardest of all the ATTRIBUTES for me to develop. This post is for me.

Here are a few tidbits I’ve gleaned from my battle scars.

#1 – YOU HAVE PERMISSION. I needed permission. If you’re a rule follower like me sometimes you just need permission. You have permission. It’s always OK to stick up for yourself and others.

#2 – KNOW YOUR BOUNDARIES. This one takes time. Decide what you will and won’t tolerate for yourself and others in your care. (which might include strangers at times!) If you can, make a list about words and actions you will and won’t allow in your presence. You need to know your own boundaries before you can protect them.

#3 – PROTECT YOUR BOUNDARIES. This step is where courage needs to kick in. We all operate with a different code of conduct so expect that people will violate your boundaries. You need to decide how to give a “warning” and when you need to load your weapon.

#4 – USE YOUR WORDS. Your words are your ammunition. You need to know how to carefully and confidently address a boundary violation. Most people know how to manipulate, avoid, and use their words in a destructive manner, few know how to fight right.

I’ve learned in most cases you will be leading yourself and the other human through this process. It’s hard. Humans are wired with the fight or flight instinct – learning how to fight in a way that makes someone else feel like flight isn’t their only option is a life skill – a relationship skill.

As I said before, this has been the hardest ATTRIBUTE for me to develop. I’ve got battle stories with both positive and negative endings. Mostly, the relationship has at least ended in mutual respect. Sometimes there wasn’t a need to either deepen or continue the relationship and the discomfort of the conflict just sent each party on their way. No outcome is ever guaranteed that’s why we have to decide early what battles are worth fighting.

The point is this, we don’t know our future and it might just be that the greatest work we are ever led to do will require us to have the courage to fight. The world needs skilled fighters, courageous leaders, and P90X kung fu girls with hearts full of conviction. What about you… do you have an alter ego?

ATTRIBUTE # 5

PICK YOUR BATTLES

If you’ve got tips in this area I’d love for you to share them with the rest of us.

Until next week – be strong and courageous,

▪️PAIN HAS A PURPOSE

Pain is a great teacher

Not again.

As I scrolled through my Facebook feed there it was, another “I did it” post. It’s a double edged sword. They’re excited to share their success and want to encourage the “others” who have yet to win a BIG victory.

Unfortunately, in the process their win can be discouraging.

When you’re just getting started and you haven’t achieved the big MO…momentum, you are emotionally fragile. Fragile is a gentle word. What would the word be exactly for something suspended in such a volatile state that it could easily rupture like a bubble? Maybe that’s the right word, volatile?

I wasn’t planning on writing about this today, yet it’s truth caught up with me – or did I find it while I was getting caught up on Facebook?

When we get all caught up in our negative emotions, death creeps in. Our small wins become losses. Our potential gets starved. Our dreams die.

In case you didn’t know the death of a dream can be as emotionally painful for a human as the death of a real person in their life. The loss is real. 💔

Our emotions are strong and unruly and if we don’t keep them in check they can do a devastating amount of damage to our lives. I say this from experience as I’ve looked over my shoulder and personally surveyed their destructive remnants.

My Facebook discouragement is legit. My emotions have a well rehearsed response when someone obtains something that I have yet to possess. We are possessive by nature. God is possessive. We’re made in His image.

My brain says abundance. My emotions say scarcity.

My brain says they’ve been working at it longer. My emotions say I’ll never get there.

My brain speaks words of truth. My emotions pour out a cocktail of lies.

Why do we have emotions anyway if they can reek havoc on us? Jealousy, envy, anger, why are they necessary?

Is it possible that they’re the mirror we must gaze at to discover who we really are and what we really want? I say, yes. More so than any book, podcast, webinar or personality profile, it has been my emotions that have informed me about who God made me to be and the purpose He has for me.

The jealousy and envy reveal to me – that’s what you want. Well then I say…go ahead. Put effort in that same direction.

The anger discloses – you’re not in control of the outcome. Hold everything with an open hand…do your part and let God do His and trust that He has your best interest at heart.

Pain is a great teacher of our hearts.

I don’t need to explain to myself what’s going on when my emotions are positive because my brain and my heart have aligned. Like a slot machine signaling JACKPOT with blinking lights and blaring sirens, my emotions are affirming the YES! YES! YES!

It’s not so with negative emotions. It’s not so with emotional pain.

I do believe God uses the pain to help us on our journey, it serves a purpose. All we have to do is discover that purpose. Physical pain and emotional pain are both opportunities for self discovery. Pain can change us for the better.

Taking the journey toward our pain takes courage.

It’s this deep dive into our emotions where we can find the desires of hearts, hold them carefully in all their fragility as we carry them to surface of our lives.

It takes oxygen to make this journey. Breathe.

I intended to write today about a recent reflection I’d had while getting a therapeutic message. However, today’s pain was real enough to share, I’ll get to that story another time. Just keepin it real friends.

ATTRIBUTE #3 : PAIN HAS A PURPOSE

This is our conversation starter for this week.

Where’s your pain point? Share what you’ve learned from pain with us – you’ll encourage someone along the way.

As always, be strong and courageous,

▪️FACE YOUR FEAR

I was done being vulnerable

It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a year since I was up on that mountain. The weather was unexpectedly cold for our Spring Break trip. I’m not a fan of the cold, actually that’s a gross understatement.

I hate the cold – there I said it. I can handle the judgement.

I was born in the Florida Keys, island is my natural habitat. My cold belongs in calendar images and Instagram feeds, it’s not meant to be felt.

I think that’s what’s so hard about fear – we feel it.

My mix of irrational feelings and rational thoughts that day was embarrassing.

I insisted on leading our trail of family members, each mounted on ATV’s, as we lined up with the other riders behind our guide. It’s nearly impossible to keep your own fear at bay when your momma bear instincts are at full throttle. Thus it was I who led our little pack up the mountain.

The sky was bright and clear. The trees were a mix of barrenness and evergreen. It was an unfortunate opportunity to be alone with my inner self, thoughts and feelings of a crazy girl would have been an appropriate conversation bubble 💬 doodled over my head.

My fear of heights is deeply rooted in my lack of trust in people. If I fall will there be someone there to catch me? This is the source of my fear.

The people who should have been there from the beginning weren’t, aren’t, and won’t be – people can’t give what they don’t have.

Some of our soul damage will always be there – and we must be content that the awareness of our scars can help us appreciate brokenness and mending without the discouraging expectation of perfection.

Perfection remains in glory and is not planning on visiting our chaos.

Chaos would be a great adjective for my mix of wrestlings.

“Melissa, you can trust that the people who made this vehicle understand the physics of the incline and what is required for all four tires to support you without tipping over.”

“But how do I know I can trust those people.”

“Don’t you trust the people who’ve built the airplanes you’ve flown in?”

“I guess I never thought about that.”

“Do you trust God?”

“Yes… just not through people.”

“Well, how exactly do you think God works in the world.”

“Through people.”

“Then how do you explain why this is any different?”

“I can’t” … ” I’m done talking now. End of conversation.”

I was done being vulnerable – even if it was only with myself.

It takes courage to be vulnerable about your fears and trust that people won’t take advantage of you. It takes courage to ask for help.

Because I’ve been deeply wounded by the people who I should have been able to trust, I have a hard time being vulnerable enough to ask for help.

This year one of the areas I’ve challenged myself to be more courageous in is asking for help.

I’ve been aware of this underlying reason for my fear of falling for many years. I know it’s there – but I don’t let it bully me around. I’ve been to the top of the Eiffel Tower, Sistene Chapel, Jupiter Lighthouse… been zip lining, cave diving, and mountain climbing on an ATV…all to keep this fear in its place.

That’s our conversation starter for this week.

Attribute #3: FACE YOUR FEAR

This week I want you to grab that FEAR by the neck and give it a good shake.

Tell us what you did to put your FEAR in its place.

Be strong and courageous… you’ve got this!

▪️DON'T QUIT

And there it was

As I gently slowed the car while approaching the stop light God was already responding to my gritty prayer.

This year I have inadvertently committed to read through The One Year Bible – again. Some of you feel intimidated by that statement, well don’t, anything I do with consistency is a miraculous act of God. Give Him the glory.

This particular morning’s reading included Genesis, shamefully detailing the hot mess that was the family of Jacob. If you are unfamiliar I highly recommend you read from… oh let’s say Genesis, Chapters 28-35. You will definitely come away as I did, encouraged, whatever state your family is in – there is hope. 😂

In a gracious response to my prayer God reminded me of what I had just read hours earlier. Why? I needed the encouragement.

The drive to school felt more like being a soldier stationed in enemy territory than it did being a mom. Locked in the confines of my Honda Pilot I was exposed to hostel sibling infighting – it had almost brought me to tears. It wasn’t even 8 a.m.

Even though this was not an encouraging parenting moment, God in His immeasurable kindness reminded me of Jacob and his brood. And as He did I thought to myself, “at least we’re not that bad.”

And there it was.

A tiny rep to give me strength, because courage is like a muscle, if you don’t use it, you lose it.

ATTRIBUTE #2 : DON’T QUIT, Persevere when things get tough, make ‘finish what you start’ a personal mantra.

Parenting has made me stronger that any other adversity I’ve ever faced. It causes me the most pain and begs every cell in my body to scream “Uncle” – or “I give up”, “I quit”, “I can’t”, “I won’t”, “I’m throwing in the towel”. It’s my kryptonite.

On this day I needed to be encouraged that there would be better days.

Truthfully, sibling infighting is normal and I need to realize that it’s more likely than not that I will have much harder days than this one. Day’s that want to break me – days that will require more COURAGE.

So today… I #cultivatemorecourage one tiny rep at a time.

That’s our conversation starter for this week friends,

ATTRIBUTE #2 : Don’t Quit.

What in your life requires the most perseverance and how are you going to make ‘finish what you start’ a personal mantra?

Can’t wait to hear from you…and as always, be strong and courageous.

▪️COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE

First we borrow, then we posses…

I pulled into the parking lot about 11 minutes early.  Just enough time to slowly walk through the lobby, notice the gallery of artwork, and wait a bit for the elevator doors to open.  There it was the ding announcing the elevator’s arrival, the doors opened and invited me to enter the vault like interior.  I took the few short steps in, turned around and pressed the button for the second floor.

Why does time seem to stand still when we are uncomfortable?  Seconds of waiting for the inevitable discomfort can stretch as if days.

It was long enough for me to notice the padded walls and the cardboard taped down to protect the marble tiled floor.  “They must be moving furniture or boxes or something” I thought.  Anything to keep me from thinking about what may come next.

As the doors heaved apart I reluctantly put one foot and then another in the direction of my destination.

Suddenly, there I was, seen, there would be no turning back.  They greeted me with smiles and handshakes, and sign in sheets, and agenda – it was all a bit overwhelming.

There is an extraordinary amount of protocol to participate in this group.

Protocol is not my strong suit – I’m casual, laid back, informal – I lack pedigree.  While I’ve spent years scoffing at such ceremony – I now revere it.   I respect the effort.  In all honesty, it takes a level of self control and discipline to be ceremonial that I have yet to possess.

Maybe this will get absorbed into my soul?

I have metaphorically jumped into the deep end – will I sink or swim?  These are the feelings of a girl getting outside of her comfort zone.  But I want the BIGGER vision I have for myself and my life – and for that I must be stretched, transformed, and become a BIGGER me.

The hour was intense.  It required me to graciously receive the encouragement extended by those who were veterans of the endeavor.

I borrowed their courage to endure.  First we borrow, then we posses.

Wanna know what it was that I did?  Have any guesses?

I attended a Toastmasters Club meeting – my intention is to join.  Not familiar with the Club?  In a nut shell, it’s an intense hour of practicing the art of extemporaneous public speaking.  Sounds like stressful fun right? Ha! Even so, I already have week #2 under my belt.  Which was a bit more intense than week #1. 😳

Here’s the thing… I had just enough courage to email the club for info and make myself get to the meeting.  Not enough to get me through the meeting or attend again or join shall I dare.  But enough to start.

I used their encouragement to supply me during the hour.  And wouldn’t you know… as I rode that same padded elevator back down to the first floor… there it was.

New courage.

A fresh supply deposited in my spirit.  Enough to put a slight bounce in my step and have the audacity to commit for a second week as a visitor.

Attribute #1: COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE – Get outside of your comfort zone, make trying ‘new’ things a habit.

This attribute of courage stretches you – makes you BIGGER than you currently are. The courage to try new things increases your ability and your capacity.

What about you?  Did you brainstorm ways that you could get outside of your comfort zone?  If so, would you share with the rest of us?  We wanna hear from you.

That’s this week’s conversation starter.

Now it’s your turn – share your ideas 💡 in the comments and let’s support one another in the attribute of COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE.

Until next week my friends…be strong and courageous.

Archives

START HERE – STEP TWO

YAY 🎉 you made it!  I’m already encouraged… this means I’m not all alone here lost in the vastness of cyberspace.  I promised that this week’s post would unpack the ‘how’ behind #cultivatemorecourage so let’s start there.

HOW exactly can you cultivate more courage?  Well, it’s like anything else that needs to grow or be strengthened.  You have to use it… a little bit at a time until it builds up – gets strong.

Example: lifting weights 🏋️‍♂️ regularly builds strong muscles.

The tricky part is this… what is COURAGE exactly?

Well according to psychologists  there are several different attributes that help us define courage.  I’ve selected six of these for us to work on as we #cultivatemorecourage together.  I’ve come up with my own summary titles for these and they are:

SIX ATTRIBUTES OF COURAGE

  1. COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE – Get outside of your comfort zone, make trying ‘new’ things a habit.
  2. DON’T QUIT – Persevere when things get tough, make ‘finish what you start’ a personal mantra.
  3. FACE YOUR FEAR – Do it anyway, we all have fears but it’s important that we don’t let them hold us back from everything we want in life.
  4. PAIN HAS A PURPOSE – Suffer with dignity, understand that pain is a natural part of life and that it too can change us for the better.
  5. PICK YOUR BATTLES – Stand up for yourself and others, because it’s the right thing to do.
  6. PURSUE YOUR PASSION – Living life doing the things you’re passionate about inspires others, and we all need inspiration.

TIP… you might want to keep a copy of this, right? I thought so, here’s a cute copy for you to keep, since you’ll be growing in these areas all year.

You can download it here   ATTRIBUTES OF COURAGE

OK girls, you still with me?  Excited or terrified?  Well, either way this is where we are headed in 2019… as a community we are going to share our experiences right here on the blog, as well as other places I have planned for us later in the year!

(SHOUT OUT TO… Mary, Betty, Toni, Janine, Karen and Jeannie for being courageous enough to comment on last week’s post 🙌🏻)

Remember, I’m the ‘host’ here and as your ‘host’ it’s my role to open up our conversations around these areas of cultivating more courage.  Which means… yep, I’ve gotta go first, yikes!  But I shared last week that I’ve got some pretty big stuff coming my way in 2019 – whether I like it or not.  The kind of stuff that you have to prepare for; like hurricanes, and relocating aging parents, and sending your first kid to college… that caliber of STUFF, life stuff that requires strength.

No, these aren’t the things I’m dealing with this year – but maybe some of you are… don’t you think you’ll need some extra COURAGE to get through these well?  Let’s face it the emotional effort we use to live a quality life requires courage.

Copy of Everything BIG we desire for our lives exists on the other side of courage.

That’s why I’ve taken this task on, to build a community where we are committed to #cultivatemorecourage TOGETHER.  I’m thankful you’re in this with me.

OK, actionable items for this week…

Think about the SIX ATTRIBUTES OF COURAGE and what you know about your upcoming year along with your DREAM, GOAL, and/or PLAN.

  1. COMMENT on this post and tell us which attribute you think you need to work on the most, and share a little about why you choose that attribute.
  2. Start brainstorming ways you can grow that attribute and write your ideas down. *save this list for the future

You hanging in there?

I’ll tell you a secret… I’ve already began working on #1 COMFORTABLE WITH UNCOMFORTABLE and the experience I went through wore me out.  The day I stepped out to do this ‘new thing’ I was in bed before 9:00pm due to pure exhaustion.  But, I did it and I can’t wait to share some of the experience with you next week.

So, here’s how this will go moving forward.  I’m gonna post about one of each of these six areas each week and ask you to chime in.

Simple right.

Well, simple if you’re already a part of this community and you receive these posts via email.  If you haven’t joined yet I encourage you to do so.  Super easy just use the COUNT ME IN sign up at the top of this page.

Don’t forget to do your homework 📚 for this week listed above ⬆️ and until next time…

be strong and courageous,

Melissa

Archives

START HERE – STEP ONE

If you’re reading this… you’ve found your way to STEP ONE – which is where I explain what #cultivatemorecourage is all about.  

2019 is a year that I already know will require me to possess a whole lot of courage. There are big things coming my way – some uninvited, none the less they are going to happen, so I need to be wearing my big girl panties or my life will mow me down like a fresh cut lawn.  Meanwhile, I also find myself allowing old dreams to find new life, setting some goals to live with intention, and blowing the dust off of some plans that needs to get back on track.   I’m just a regular girl trying to live a life that is worth while – and even that takes courage. But I’ve used up most of the courage in my tank – so I need to get some more to move this life forward.  The good news is – that’s totally possible.  I can cultivate more courage.  Because courage is the fuel that moves us forward into ________________  (you can fill in your own blank)

Maya Angelou says this about courage;

Screen Shot 2019-01-08 at 11.14.38 AM.png

“Courage is the most important of all the virtues because without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

Yes, courage is the fuel for everything else we will need. This is my mission in 2019 to #cultivatemorecourage and this is your invitation to join me.  So, here’s how we do it TOGETHER.  This year I am committing to ‘host’ conversations around cultivating more courage for our ‘online’ community.  This will come in the form of a blog post weekly on topics that I will outline in my next post.
What I’m asking you to do is – be a part of the conversation.  Read the post – and comment when it resonates with you, what’s going on in your life, etc.  I want us to do this together.  This way we can spur one another on in this journey to #cultivatemorecourage in 2019. Because I believe…everything BIG we desire for our lives exists on the other side of courage.
Give yourself a pat on the back because you’re half way through Step One.  Now, what I would love for you to do is comment on this post and let me know what your focus is for this year : Dream, Goal, or Plan…or of course all of these 🙂 .

Not sure… ask yourself these questions.

Dream – do I have a desire to reach a goal that feels completely unrealistic and far fetched at this point?  Am I passionate about this goal and does it connect with the sense of purpose I have for my life? Clue 🔎 this may be you if… you’ve selected your one WORD for the new year and have created your Vision Board but aren’t quite sure how to move forward.

Goal – am I currently, or have I been recently putting some effort toward a tangible end? Do you know your target?  Maybe you’re using your Full Focus Planner 😂 to be intentional about your effort, or have your S.M.A.R.T.  Goal Worksheets filled out for this achievement.

Plan – have you mapped out the steps it will take you to get from where you are currently to a Goal you have?  If you said YES, and let me show you my notebook, resource file, and all my FREE downloads on the subject, then girl you’ve got a Plan.

In addition with your comment tell me a bit where you rank yourself on the courage scale – remember that courage is fuel for your Dream, Goal, and/or Plan.  If your courage was an emoji would you be the flame 🔥  burning but no forward movement, the firework 🎇 enough spark to get a bit off the ground but ends in a fizzle, or the comet ☄️ enough energy to travel some distance? We’ll have fun looking back at the end of the year to review our progress!

I can’t with to hear from you and taking the journey to #cultivatemorecourage TOGETHER in 2019.

Don’t forget your homework 📚

1.) Comment on this post with Dream, Goal, and/or Plan AND how much courage fuel you currently have 🔥 🎇 ☄️.

2.) Read the START HERE – STEP TWO post next week where we will unpack the ‘how’ of #cultivatemorecourage.

Until then … be strong and courageous.

Melissa
P.S.  If you haven’t joined our community yet, I encourage you to do so… I’ve got a special gift I’ll be sending to all my ‘friends’ in the next few weeks that I don’t want you to miss out on!