You Have Options

Three Saturdays ago I was sleeping the day away, pretty sure I had COVID. Test came back the next day affirming my suspicion.

I test my health often by running. Can I? How did it go? Do I need a nap soon after? Yadda yadda.

Thankfully my case was mild. I “ran a test” with a decent 5k the following Wednesday, but not every run since has been an indicator that all is well.

Earlier this week I set a plan to run each day this weekend-a progressive schedule of six miles on Friday, seven on Saturday, and eight on Sunday. Nothing new. This was a routine schedule this past Fall.

Not sure what it is, but Friday runs since the Summer have occasionally been rough. Yesterday was one of them. I cut it short, ending up with 4.15 miles. I haven’t let my mind look at Fridays any differently…well, until yesterday.

So last night and this morning I debated how far I should run this morning. Not running wasn’t an option I considered. I landed on simply running the same route as yesterday and see how the six went. Around mile two my legs felt pretty much like yesterday, not quite as sluggish. I decided it didn’t matter what pace I had to adjust to, how much walk/running I had to do, six miles was happening today.

A little over three miles I stopped for a quick water break in the park. I didn’t stop long. I didn’t want my body to tell my mind what to do. Somewhere in mile four my legs perked up. I told myself, “Go with it.” I adjusted my course and ran past my next turn taking the next road instead.

I ended up taking four more such turns and completed just under seven miles…with more in the tank.

Here’s my takeaway. We all have days when things don’t go according to plan. We all have to deal with letdowns, apparent failures, missed goals. At the end of those days when we assess the next one, we have options. They range from shutting down to overcompensating. Usually, somewhere in the middle is the best option.

How your next day goes is entirely up to you. You have options.

Photo by Oliver Roos on Unsplash

2021 Library

For a fourth year I have followed a self-developed reading strategy with the objective to read broader. The goal: read books falling under nine headings. This strategy is still working for me.

For the curious, here is the library of 21 books (Look at that! 21 in ’21! Totally coincidental…or was it?) listed alphabetically and avenue of reading:

  • The Greatest Motivational Tool by Rod Olson (hard copy)
  • Simplifying Coaching by Claire Pedrick (kindle)…best book on coaching I’ve read in a while
  • The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby (hard copy)…most challenging book in this library
  • Presence by Amy Cuddy (hard copy)…book with best takeaway, “Fake It ‘Til You Become It.”
  • Hope Rising by Casey Gwinn & Chan Hellman (kindle)…favorite book in this library
  • Opening Up by Writing It Down by James Pennebaker & Joshua Smyth (kindle)
  • Now Hope by Paul De Jong (kindle)
  • Into the Silent Land by Martin Laird (kindle)…most surprising book in this library
  • Baca by Valerie Hyer (hard copy)
  • Unfinished Business by Lee Kravitz (audio)
  • When Mama Can’t Kiss It Better by Lori Getz (kindle)
  • The Journey by Lee Ann Martin (hard copy)
  • The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane (hard copy)
  • Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt by Jentezen Franklin (kindle)
  • Prepare by J. Paul Nyquist (hard copy)
  • Sound Doctrine by Bobby Jamieson (hard copy)
  • Awe by Paul David Tripp (kindle)…I read this annually
  • Don’t Give the Enemy a Seat at Your Table by Louie Gigilio (kindle)…favorite Christian living book in this library
  • How the Light Gets In by Pat Schneider (kindle)…second favorite book in this library
  • Heartbreak to Hope by Samuel Wright (hard copy)
  • Another Gospel by Alisa Childers (kindle)

I’m Here To…

Around mile 2 of my run this morning, I passed a runner who was struggling. And I might add, it’s December 31st and 70F at sunrise, so understandable. I feel you.

But what really caught my eye was his shirt. I hadn’t seen one, but maybe you have. Here’s an example:

Gave me a chuckle. And gave me something to think about the rest of my run.

Was that guy actually making a statement about his running? Or was it “just” the first shirt he grabbed?

Was his apparent struggle to be running supported by his shirt? Or was it a declaration a day early of 2022?

Whatever the case, this statement aligns with how we often show up. And it mostly has to do with that second word. That four-letter word says quite a bit. And it often says, much like a familiar bumper sticker, “I’d rather be somewhere else.” So maybe in that runner’s case, “I’d rather be sitting on my lanai, drinking another cup of coffee, watching College Game Day!”

In the spirit of improving how we show up, let me throw out a couple of suggestions.

One, drop the word “just” anytime you’re making a statement about why you’re anywhere. Whatever amount of tongue biting is involved (been there), stay silent until you can state why you’re there without sounding like you don’t want to be.

Second, on a deeper level in the spirit of New Year’s Eve, how about editing this statement to declare how you desire to show up? “I’m here to __________.” How do you fill in the blank this coming Monday at 8AM? What best completes that sentence for your hopes for the first month of 2022? The first quarter? The entire year?

Declare to yourself, to God, and to whoever else that would benefit, “I’m here to __________.”

Here’s to showing up with purpose in 2022!

If You Were a Flower Arrangement…

Today I had a terrific call with a coaching client. As they shared their reflections on the year, an interesting symbol came to my mind. It was somewhat fresh in my mind because I had just received it in a text this morning.

This image seemed appropriate to share because of symbolism we had used in the coaching work when we first began. The imagery was based on the petals of a flower. The exercise was to determine how many petals make up the different elements of one’s life and to create an image based on the importance of those elements – in essence, use the image of a flower to put your life in perspective.

That imagery for this client set the tone for eight months of work. Listening to them describe how they see themselves now and where they are on their journey, this idea came to mind. What if the exercise where expanding from the image of one flower to a bouquet of flowers?

So I pulled up this image to screen share:

This was an arrangement my mother received just this morning. After I pulled it up, I simply challenged my client to consider this: “How would a flower bouquet of your life eight months ago compare to one today?” As a person of vision and words, that spoke to them.

If that speaks to you, go ahead. Get out a pad. Write, draw, or both. Take an inventory. How would your life look as a flower arrangement? If you’d like it to look different, what are some things to address as you enter 2022? Pick one flower and start beautifying your bouquet.

Here’s to a nicer bouquet!

Tucson Reflection #4

A little travel trivia for you based on an article by Livability (2016):

  • The average American has visited 12 states.
  • The top five visited states are Florida, California, Georgia, New York, and Nevada.
  • California, Florida, and New York residents have visited fewer states than the typical American.
  • 10% of Americans have never been to a state other than the one they live in.
  • Americans take more than four leisure trips per year.

My Thanksgiving trip of 11 days, counting airports, took me to five states. Looking at these trivia points, it would be foolish of me not to see my life as privileged.

At some point on this trip, maybe on a plane or driving around Tucson, a thought occurred to me. The more I travel to new places the smaller I get. I’m pretty sure it was while I was in Tucson. I’m guessing because Tucson was unlike any other city I’ve visited.

Sure, it is American. Sure, it is modern. Sure, it is multicultural. Sure, it is a University town. Sure, it is picturesque. Sure, it is probably just about anything you’d want a city to be where you live or visit.

Something about Tucson, though, expanded my world and reminded me that the world is quite big. Therefore, I am quite small.

Now, someone might read that and the takeaway would be, “That sounds depressing.” Thankfully, with the worldview I have, my response is the opposite. I’m grateful for the reminder.

Too often my world revolves around me. I’m “bigger” than I really am. Is that because I’m American? Single? Male? White? Privileged? Floridian? Alabama fan? Probably. But it’s also because I’m human, in the lineage of Adam. I fall prey to wanting to be like God.

The smaller we children of Adam see ourselves in comparison to God the better our lives are. We allow the fullness of His presence; we give him more space to reveal he’s bigger. Bigger than us. Bigger than our stuff. Bigger than our circumstances. Bigger than our doubts. Bigger than our fears. Bigger.

On behalf of all the children of Adam, thank you, Tucson! You remind us God is Big!

Photo by REVOLT on Unsplash

Tucson Reflection #3

Running in the Holualoa Tucson Half Marathon had more than one first in store for me.

Yes, it was my first, and most likely only, race in Arizona.

One first I didn’t know was going to happen was sitting on a shuttle bus for over an hour to stay warm before waiting another 30 minutes before the start. It would be nice if that didn’t happen again.

The other first that I did know about beforehand was this…the course was mostly downhill. See below:

Sounds easy. Maybe looks easy. Here’s the deal: it messed with my head. I didn’t make an amateur move and start out too fast. It actually felt like I managed my pace pretty well. But it was deceiving. Although it felt okay, turned out my first, and most likely only, largely downhill race may have messed with my head in a totally new way.

You know the boiling frog syndrome metaphor?

Failing to act in a situation increasing in severity until reaching catastrophic proportions.

Well, it didn’t get catastrophic. No paramedics were involved. Nothing like that.

What happened was I thought I was fine and was going to be able to keep the pace I started, but my body didn’t agree with my head. The subtle impact of the course won. It gave me a reminder. Being comfortable, being fine, going downhill has its own challenges. Adjust. Keep learning. The course, the journey always has something to teach you.

On behalf of all us frogs, thank you, Tucson! May we never stop learning!

Tucson Reflection #2

Getting to Tucson was no joke. The trip started by a 5AM EST (3AM in Tucson) alarm in St. Augustine followed by a three-hour stop in Orlando before boarding flight #1 in Tampa. After a four-hour layover in Denver, the final leg of the trip landed me in Tucson; after a short ride to the AirBnB, I got in bed at 12AM. If you’re counting, that’s a 21-hour day. Not necessarily the smartest start to a weekend for running a half marathon.

When you arrive in the middle of the night to a place you’ve never been, you pretty much have no idea, nor do you really care, what that city has to offer. I apologize to you, Tucson, but I had no idea what you had in store for me when I walked out the door to go to lunch a few hours later. You slapped me in the face with this view:

I didn’t mind the surprise. In fact, I couldn’t get enough. For the next 48 hours, I kept shaking my head and saying to myself, and I guess to God, “What? This is spectacular.”

Maybe it’s because I’ve been in Florida most of my life. Maybe it’s because different is intoxicating. Or maybe it’s because most surprises just aren’t this good.

Regardless of the maybes, here’s what I do know. I will never get over that the Creator of things that slap me in the face also humbled himself to see me, to know me, to rescue me, to offer me hope, to say, “Just wait ’til you see what I’m making for you.”

On behalf of all who visit you, Tucson, thank you! You remind us there’s a matchless surprise to come!

Tucson Reflection #1

I’m 53.   That means I’m in the generation between the Boomers and the Millennials.  I find that space an important one.

Each generation plays an important role in passing along knowledge, values, beliefs, worldviews, etc.  In a best case scenario, that happens in homes and offices.  If you’re a Boomer, born between 1946-1964, chances are this happened fairly seamlessly for you.  That means your parents and bosses did their job.

As a Gen-X, born in 1968, I’ve noticed a breakdown.  Whether it happened in Boomer land or my land, the seamless passing along of life’s need-to-knows is no longer a given.  Why do I say this?  Because we’re all saying it.

One way I hear and observe this is the rejection of Millennials (born between 1981-1996) by Boomers and vice versa.  Why? Bunch of reasons. Tom Gimbel wrote this explanation:

Many baby boomers see millennials as impatient, unprofessional, and lazy, while millennials may see baby boomers as unapproachable or old-school. 

https://fortune.com/2017/04/01/leadership-career-advice-millennials-conflict-feud-mentorship/

These insights are barriers-barriers that can be overcome. One overcoming suggestion Gimbel mentions is the importance of setting success expectations. On this suggestion, I’d like to point something out to the Boomers. Root for the Millennials in your world. They may not do things like you, and that’s actually a pretty good reason to cheer them on.

While in Tucson for three nights recently, I watched one Millennial virtually and one in person doing some incredible work. And I thought to myself, I wonder how they are being treated by the Boomers in their world.

The first one was Tommee Profitt. A friend posted a video on Facebook from Profitt’s 2020 Christmas album. I hadn’t listened to the entire album, so I took the time one evening to listen on YouTube. Wow! What an inspiration. I hadn’t really paid attention to Profitt before this hearing, so I did the Google thing. As I read comments about his work, mostly moving and affirming, an occasional statement surfaced stating “he’s not for everyone.” I see that. But what gifts he is giving to the world. Those gifts are “thanksworthy,” from all generations.

That was Saturday night. The next morning I accepted a new acquaintance’s invitation to his church, Saint Philip’s in the Hills. Pleasantly, although the majority of attenders were older than me, there was a youthful presence on the stage. Most speakers in the service appeared to be younger than me. But the one who grabbed my attention was the Rector, Reverend Hendrickson. His reflection was memorable, relatable, engaging, and thought provoking. And the spirit in the room was supportive, celebrative, communal, unified, and worshipful. It appeared the Boomers in this church knew how to root for the Millennials.

On behalf of all generations, thank you, Tucson! You are living proof generations can thrive together!

We See What We Look For

Recently a friend gave me a copy of Michael Hyatt’s Full Focus journal. So I’ve taken the challenge to complete it’s 90-day design.

The journal page for today had a portion of this quote by author John Lubbock:

What we do see depends mainly on what we look for… In the same field the farmer will notice the crop, the geologists the fossils, botanists the flowers, artists the colouring, sportmen the cover for the game. Though we may all look at the same things, it does not all follow that we should see them.”

― John Lubbock, The Beauties of Nature and the Wonders of the World We Live in

I instantly narrowed that down to this thought: We see what we look for.

How we view what we see is very dependent on what we are looking for. For example, when we read current events or listen to the news, we have biases that filter what we read and hear. How often do we evaluate those filters? How often do we assess if those filters really are ours or are they residual from other influences? Do we ever alter what we are looking for?

As a suggestion, here is a list that I started in my journal to illustrate what I mean. As you read it, consider how such a list in your journal would read.

  • We see God when we look for him
  • We see enemies when we look for them
  • We see offense when we look for it
  • We see opportunity when we look for it
  • We see solutions when we look for them
  • We see danger when we look for it
  • We see rejection when we look for it
  • We see grace when we look for it
  • We see humility when we look for it
  • We see strength when we look for it
  • We see courage when we look for it
  • We see unity when we look for it
  • We see love when we look for it

What are you looking for today? This week? This holiday season?

Let’s Seek a Better Understanding

Last week I was given a book to read. Each page has grabbed me, but none like the start of chapter five, “Defending Slavery at the Onset of the Civil War.”

Let me share a few lines.

As historian Mark Noll has written, no single individual characterized the conflict better than Abraham Lincoln. When Lincoln was inaugurated for his second and very brief term as president in 1865, a Union victory was on the horizon. Robert E. Lee would formally surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, just a month later. Rather than gloat about his military success, Lincoln’s address struck a somber and reflective tone: “Both {Union and Confederacy] read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes His aid against the other…The prayers of both could not be answered. That of neither has been answered fully”…Throughout the conflict, Christians of both the Union and the Confederate forces believed that God was on their side.

This startled me. Change a few elements of the storyline, and I feel like he’s describing today’s America.

We should be startled. We should not be divided.

We should be humbled. We should not be puffed up.

We should be listening. We should not be yelling.

In his review of Tisby’s call to repentance, Daniel Williams ended with these words:

Racial reconciliation, Tisby argues, won’t occur without confession of sin and repentance from white Christians—a repentance that some Reformed churches have already started to model, but which hasn’t yet occurred en masse. With God’s grace, it can occur. For those seeking a better understanding of what this confession and repentance might entail, Tisby’s book offers a helpful guide.

History does not have to be repeated. Let’s seek a better understanding.