Week 50: The Courage to Fail [Loveable 051]

“Courage is ignoring the jeers and feeling the fears. Courage is returning to the edge of our comfort zone and choosing the place where our fear dwells, because we are worthy of another chance at life. Regardless of what the critics say.”

People who experience success aren’t better at being successful; they are better at failing. They don’t misinterpret failures as a sign that they should be doing something else. They don’t listen to the people who tell them their failures define them. They get back up and try again, believing their passion is truer than their setbacks. In other words, success doesn’t always feel great; more often than not, it feels like failure that didn’t stop us.

In Episode 51 of The Loveable Podcast, we will turn your definitions of success and courage upside down, and cultivate the courage to fail by listening to the right people.

loveable podcast episode 51

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • A job is not a passion. A job is a place to practice your passion, or a place you are leaving for a new place where you can practice your passion more consistently.
  • Everyone is making it up as they go. Don’t worry about needing to know the outcome before you get started. The outcome unfolds as you act bravely.
  • The mindset necessary for beginning to practice our passions: “Learn to be a rookie and love it.”
  • Fear makes you quiet; defy it by telling someone you trust about it.
  • Stubborn is another word for courageous.
  • You don’t have to be over your fear to practice your passion; you have to be sick of it.
  • Whenever we pursue a passion that is an authentic expression of our true self, we will also experience misfortune, disappointment, and pain. Hardship is not necessarily a sign you should stop.
  • We are defined not by the criticism we receive but by the courage we live.
  • Failures don’t have to be conclusions; they can be course corrections.
  • Impostor syndrome would evaporate if we could all admit we’re learning and making mistakes as we go.
  • Practice say nothing at all. Defending oneself and justifying oneself are just distractions from the work of pursuing our passions.

Continue Reading »

Let’s Be Grateful for What We Cannot See

gratitude

Photo Credit: kaban (Bigstock)

This blog space was birthed out of gratitude.

In 2011, I was in the midst of a reckoning with my anger, fear, and shame. I was drowning in a deep, deep sense of scarcity: my fear of never having enough and never being enough. Somewhere in the midst of that reckoning, that drowning, a friend handed out a bunch of free copies of a book about gratitude. In a world full of supposed life preservers, I decided to reach for it, in the hope it would keep me afloat.

It did.

For several months, I engaged in the daily practice of gratitude, writing down everything that I noticed around me and within me for which I was grateful. The dancing of sunlight through treetops on the dining room table. The sound of my kids’ laughter in the other room. The taste of a single raisin. The still-quiet place of peace at the center of my soul. By the end of 2011, I wasn’t just staying afloat.

I was beginning to glimpse the shoreline.

Suddenly, I knew goodness was abundant, both around me and within me. I resonated with the words of David Steindl-Rast, who wrote, “We can’t be grateful for everything, but we can be grateful in every moment.”

Even when we are in pain, goodness and abundance continue to exist. It’s possible to feel the sorrow while seeing the beauty. Such double-sight can sustain you in the hardest of times, and it can inspire you in the best of times.

By the beginning of 2012 I knew that, regardless of how badly people might react to my writing, goodness and beauty and abundance would still exist within me and around me. So, gratitude in me gave rise to courage in me gave rise to writing in me. And on January 6, 2012, I published my first blog post. I’ve been practicing gratitude ever since, but an email I recently received from a reader has inspired me to change my gratitude practice.

Now, instead of being grateful for what I can see, I focus on being grateful for what I cannot see, as well.

She told me she’d been reading my blog since the beginning and had never reached out before, but she was grateful for the words I’d shared over the years, and she wanted to let me know. I told her I was grateful for her. Though I’d never known she existed—and though I haven’t been able put a face or a name to the vast majority of my readers over the last seven years—I’ve been grateful for every single reader since that January day in 2012, including the ones I’ve never heard from.

Thank you.

If Seth Godin is right and art isn’t art until it has been shared, you’ve made it possible for me to make art. You’ve given my words a place to belong. At times, when I thought the sanity I was finally experiencing might just be crazy, your enduring presence has assured me that I’m not going nuts. You’ve made the cold, dark, frustrating mornings at the keyboard worth every moment of it. You’ve given publishers a reason to believe in me. You’ve given me, by virtue of your very existence and faithfulness, hope for humanity. Because of you, that hope will never go away.

Gratitude for that which we cannot see may be the most enduring gratitude of all.

Continue Reading »

Week 49: What to Do When Our Feelings Are Lying to Us [Loveable 050]

“Life is a gift in terrifying disguise, and we are here to open it, until we find the still-quiet place in the center of it, where fear no longer decides.”

In Episode 50 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk about fear. It is an important emotion. It causes us to buckle our seatbelts, run out of burning buildings, and grab our pepper spray when we hear footsteps behind us in a dark parking lot. But in the modern world, our fear has gone rogue. We now get afraid not just about life-threatening situations, but also about life-changing situations. We are afraid not just of dangers, but of opportunities. It’s time to quit letting fear make our decisions for us…

loveable podcast episode 50

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Practicing our passion is not a leap, it’s a step-by-step process, with each step preparing us for the next one.
  • To add just a little beauty to the world is reason enough to practice your passion.
  • Our passion only requires an audience of one, and sometimes, for a little while, that audience might even be ourselves.
  • If you pay attention to the world instead of the news, you discover that reality is more inspiring than it is terrifying.
  • Our fear may not go away, but it should be a passenger in our lives, not the driver.
  • Welcome your fear, listen to it, become familiar with it, then discern whether or not you will continue to listen to it.
  • If you practice your passion in order to be successful, you will accidentally feed your shame.
  • Sometimes fear isn’t telling you to avoid something; it’s telling you that doing it is going to feel vulnerable, but you should do it anyway.
  • The voice of your self-encouragement tries to convince you there is no reason to be afraid; the voice of grace tells you that there are good reasons to be afraid but you will be able to handle it.
  • Sometimes, fear is telling a half-truth. Be slow. Discern. Listen to the true half. Then quit listening.
  • Sometimes you will let fear decide. That’s okay. Learn from it. Choose differently next time.
  • If you have strong faith you might have more fear, because you will live boldly and bravely in ways that challenge you anew.

Continue Reading »

Week 48: The Good Life vs. the Redemptive Life [Loveable 049]

The so-called good life is a hollow promise. It’s empty of the things we desire most, like passion, purpose, and peace. It bores us. Makes us restless. We crave something else. We ultimately crave a redemptive life.

In Episode 49 of The Loveable Podcast, we shift our focus slightly to something that will clarify not what our passion is, but the direction we want to go with it. That something is our pain. This week’s episode revolves around a hard but simple formula: passion + pain = purpose. In other words, when we practice our passion in the service of redeeming our pain, a sense of purpose is almost guaranteed…

loveable podcast episode 49

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • People don’t hold us back from following our passions; we allow them to hold us back. Instead, we need to set a boundary on their influence upon us.
  • Getting healthy usually means developing a healthy sense of inner authority. When this inner authority comes into conflict with our authority figures, we must enter an intentional process of discernment.
  • “Sometimes passion needs something to contain it, focus it, and to turn it in a direction that is good, holy, and meaningful. And sometimes that something is our pain.” –Loveable
  • “Sometimes, redeeming our pain is about coming to value it so much, we let it lead us.” –Loveable
  • “Where are our most vibrant passion meets our most visceral pain, we discover a sense of purpose.” –Loveable
  • A sense of purpose arises within us when we face the pain of our story and realize the transformation of it will be the direction of our life.
  • Transient happiness is a hallmark of the good life; enduring joy is a hallmark of the redemptive life.
  • As we practice our passions, we gradually discover the pain they are intended to redeem.
  • Build a life you love rather than living one you tolerate.
  • When we embrace our pain, we release our suffering, which is for the most part simply resistance to our pain.
  • The redemptive life makes us an active participate in redeeming our pain, rather than a passive participant in receiving our pain.
  • You can’t force the redemption of your pain, you can only be faithful to it.

Continue Reading »

This Is How to Find Your Place in the Family of Things

death and resurrection

Photo Credit: Michael Schroeder (Bigstock)

This year, the maples all turned purple.

They usually die all at once in an explosion of blood red and burning orange. This year, though, it looks as if they all got together—had a tree-meeting of sorts—and agreed to die differently. Purple, at first, instead of red. Starting at the crown, and then pausing for a couple of weeks, before turning fully red. Slower than ever. Better than ever? I’m not sure about that.

But definitely different.

I have a friend who says that death and resurrection is the pattern of everything. It’s not just trees in their ancient, seasonal rhythm. Whole forests burn and whole ecosystems are resurrected from the charred remains. Our skin cells shed to dust and are replaced by new tissue. Every night, our consciousness dies in sleep and is resurrected by wakefulness. Every twenty-four hours, the day dies at sunset and is resurrected at sunrise. Everywhere you look, everything finds itself somewhere in this cycle of death and resurrection. And this year, the maples reminded me: the death and resurrection is different every time.

This autumn, for instance, I died differently than I’ve ever died before. Three times.

Continue Reading »

Week 47: What a Life of Vulnerability Really Looks Like [Loveable 048]

“We are healed when we reveal our mess to another and put our real self on the line. When we connect in our brokenness—not in spite of it—we discover what makes us messy is also what makes us beautiful. And we give everyone around us permission to be broken and beautiful, too…A world torn apart by invincibility can only be healed by vulnerability and weakness.” 

In Episode 48 of The Loveable Podcast, we are focused on the biggest barrier to practicing your passions. It is not lack of clarity about what they are. It is not lack of resources for pursuing them. It is something much more basic, much more common, and much more formidable. It is fear. This week we talk about vulnerability, courage, and what it means to be truly successful in the practicing of your passions…

loveable podcast episode 48

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • Be humble enough to let your life unfold, be attentive enough to learn from it as it does, and be courageous enough to choose a direction, even if there is no guarantee you will head in that direction forever.
  • Our passion at first may take the form of jealousy about someone else who is practicing their passion.
  • If you can’t connect with a passion, that’s okay. Take the time to reconnect with your true self and your worthiness, and eventually your passions will surface.
  • When tragedy strikes, we have two options: get anxious and hold on even tighter to what will eventually end, or accept the impermanence of things and replace anxiety with a healthy urgency about living and loving well.
  • When we quit investing our time and energy in our invulnerability—our protection and pretending and perfecting and performing—we can become the artists we already are.
  • Courage is not a character trait; it’s a direction.
  • Success isn’t trying and winning; success is simply trying, regardless of how afraid you are.
  • Creation isn’t finished. We are co-creators. Our passions are the brush. The world is our easel.
  • The people we belong to love us enough to shelter us from unfair criticism, and enough to give us constructive criticism.
  • When we lack courage to be vulnerable and to practice our passions, we don’t need a group of people to cheerlead us, we only need one person we can trust to en-courage us.

Continue Reading »

Let’s Stop Dismissing Our Young People (Our Decency May Depend Upon It)

My son recently pointed out how much I break the law. At first, I resisted what he had to say. Eventually, I surrendered to it. And, in doing so, I realized how much young people have to teach us about how far we adults have strayed from the decent, dignified lives we once aspired to, and once tried to inspire them to…

wisdom of children

Photo Credit: Borakovskyy (Bigstock)

I’m driving a lot slower these days.

A month ago, my oldest son Aidan got his driver’s permit. He’s taking Driver’s Ed and he has read The Rules of the Road and he’s learning how to do this whole driving thing by the book. He’s learning about why speed limits exist, and where you should stop at a stop sign, and how to stay precisely in your lane when making a turn. Which means he’s a total pain in the butt when I’m driving.

Because I break the rules all the time.

He points out regularly that I don’t keep my hands at 10 and 2—in fact, I rarely have two hands on the wheel. I pay way too much attention to my phone. If I stop completely at a stop sign at all, it’s at least two yards ahead of it. I treat the speed limit like a speed suggestion. I treat yellow lights like commands to speed up rather than slow down. I treat my blinker like its optional.

I don’t drive according to The Rules of the Road; I drive as if I rule the road.

So, he’s been teaching me how to drive properly again and, I’ll be honest, at first, I dismissed him. At first, I appealed to my driving record—one ticket in twenty-five years and low insurance premiums. Then, I appealed to comparison—other people break the rules worse than I do and at least I don’t look at social media while I’m driving. Finally, I appealed to my age and experience and authority—“You know, Son, The Rules of the Road are one thing but the reality of the road is something else altogether.”

Fortunately, he won’t let me get away with that kind of defensive, dismissive, condescending, authoritarian, patriarchal nonsense.

So, in the end, I agreed it would be best for me to drive according to the actual rules of the road. And yesterday, while I was driving to the grocery story, I was thinking (now that I’m going the speed limit, I have a lot more time to think while driving) about how much better my driving is now that I have surrendered to what he is re-teaching me about the proper ways to drive. And it made me wonder:

How much better would my life be if I let him re-teach me about the proper ways to live?

Continue Reading »

Week 46: You Aren’t Here to Be More Happy (You Are Here to Be More You) [Loveable 047]

“Life doesn’t have an easy setting. Remembering who you are isn’t an all-or-nothing endeavor. It’s not a pass-fail assignment. The truth is much closer to this: life is like a sieve and everything we do runs through it. If we watch closely, we’ll notice passing through the sieve all those things that aren’t really us. And we’ll notice, captured in the sieve of life, the parts of us that are who we’ve always been.” 

We often confuse our passions and our skills, and this week we unconfuse them. A passion is “something we are extravagantly fond of doing.” That is very different from “something we are extra good at doing.” The former produces meaning in our lives, the latter just…produces. In Episode 47 of The Loveable Podcast, we talk in detail about the difference between passion and skill, how you might get more clarity in differentiating the two, and how that clarity can change your life.

loveable podcast episode 47

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • When you protect the time you have set aside for practicing your passions, you are not being unfaithful to others, you are being faithful to your true self.
  • If we want to be serious about practicing our passions, there will be some good things—people and commitments—which we have to set boundaries on, or let go of altogether.
  • Our skills lead to productivity; our passions lead to peaceful productivity.
  • Our understanding and clarity about our passions never ceases to evolve.
  • Skill doesn’t generate passion; actually, passion is the fuel that bids skill.
  • Don’t let others tell you what you are good at; tell them what you are passionate about.
  • Where skill and passion are both along for the ride, make sure your passion is in the driver’s seat, not your ambition.
  • Passion does not protect you from hardship; but it does give rise to the joy that sustains you through hardship.
  • We fully own our passion when we boldly announce it to our circles of belonging.
  • We don’t become familiar with the many layers of our passions by thinking about them; only by practicing them.
  • Shame will tell you that you have to practice your passion to be worthy; grace will tell you that you get to practice it because you are worthy.

Continue Reading »

Week 45: Why the Most Mundane Life Is Sometimes the Most Passionate Life [Loveable 046]

“Be regular and orderly in your life, so that you may be violent and original in your work.” –Gustave Flaubert

In Episode 46 of The Loveable Podcast, we are focused on taking the space in your life created by last week’s exercise and doing something a little counterintuitive with it—we are going to build some monotony into it. In other words, we are going to focus on building structure around the practicing of your passions. By the end of this episode, you are going to be more motivated to make a habit of doing the things you love.

loveable podcast episode 46

Here are just a few of the takeaways from this week’s episode:

  • When we quit an activity to free ourselves up to pursue our passions, we are not quitting that activity for a day, nor are we necessarily quitting it forever; we are quitting it for now, for this season in our life.
  • Adventure is made possible by that which is routine.
  • We don’t practice our passion after we overcome all of our fears; we value it enough to practice it in spite of not overcoming all of our fears.
  • The practicing of our passion is built on a foundation of rituals, routines, and rigor that seems very ordinary and unexciting.
  • You can avoid creative blocks by building creative habits.
  • In a busy life, little happens unless it is on the family calendar; put your passion on the family calendar.
  • Make particular time slots in your week sacred, by giving them to your passion.
  • Calendars are like budgets for your time. Where are you spending your valuable time?
  • Practicing your passion always leads to feelings of vulnerability and thus always requires courage; tune in next week for that discussion!

Continue Reading »

Why I’m Glad My Daughter Got Kicked in the Face with a Soccer Ball

kids resilience

Photo Credit: golubovy (Bigstock)

Several years ago, when my daughter was five, she played soccer and got kicked in the shin during a game. From the sidelines, judging by her behavior, it seemed like the leg would have to be amputated. We were able to save the leg (with a bag of ice), but she never really recovered emotionally.

She takes after her father in this way.

Eventually, she finished the season and decided she’d rather dabble in extracurriculars with lower odds of getting kicked with a cleat—dance and gymnastics and piano, for instance. However, this autumn, she decided to try soccer again.

The first practice, she looked like Frogger.

She ducked and dodged away from every other player on the field. When the ball came toward her, she turned away from it and hugged herself tightly. She never actually fell onto the grass in the fetal position, but it seemed like it could happen at any moment. She explained that the kids at this level were bigger and she was afraid of getting kicked in the face with the soccer ball. I told her the odds were long that it would ever happen.

Whoops.

By the time our third game rolled around, she’d become less afraid and more aggressive on the field, refusing to back down on defense and inserting herself into the scrum for a loose ball. Her fear appeared to be melting away for good.

Then it happened.

A giant, precociously pubescent fourth grader launched a ball directly into her little third grade face. I didn’t see it happen—I was busy trying to get four players on the sidelines to sit still and quit squirting water bottles at each other. But, when she arrived at the sideline, the evidence was there: a big, rosy welt covering most of her left check. She was in tears, head in hands.

But I’ll be honest, a part of me was glad it happened.

This was her biggest fear about soccer, and you can’t play your best soccer if you don’t know that you will be able to endure your biggest fear. The same is true of life. A good life isn’t one in which we avoid all of the loss and heartache and disappointment and loneliness and rejection and failure of being alive; a good life is one in which we become confident we can survive all that pain.

In life, most of our anxiety comes from fearing the soccer balls that will be kicked in our face, while most of our resilience comes from feeling them.

Continue Reading »