Hope – Its not just Fluffy

The beginning of the bolder being moved into change in my life started with FPU – Financial Peace University.  Something about the way Dave Ramsey – say things – Straight, Direct, No Excuse, Funny, with No Apology.  It got me moving.  I am on a plan, I am paying things off and making slow progress, but its is progress.  I only have 3 more years on my debt.  10 year on the student loan.  BUT I am on the road.  This started Spring 2008. 

Then I started on Medifast: Food plan that has gotten me to lose 85lbs so far (July 2010) so far.  But the biggest effect it has had is my perspective on food and the constant emotional struggle and fight I have with myself about control.  It really REALLY comes down to this one area I don’t want to surrender.  I am fighting with myself everyday these days.  But I started to start over every day.  I know this is the right plan and it is working out the character of my real life, who I really want to be.  This started July 2009. 

Even in my season of getting mad and fighting through the feelings of despair and hopelessness, I did not realize how the hope of success carried me.  It wasn’t just a delicate doily in my pocket that I waved in the air.  It was this Marble Pillar I grabbed hold of with all my might and pushed and pulled and wrapped my arms around because I knew what I knew what I knew that this was the future.  This WILL be my success, my HOPE that i would make those daily choices to allow me to keep hold of this victory became the sword that I wielded against every little thought that would attempt to pull me away from my goal.

More than Fuffy


This is just as important this year as last year.  It means JUST as much to me this year as last year.  It took me almost 2 years to get the Dave Ramsey stuff on track… WHY would the food struggle be any easier. 
Behavior change affect the attitude change. The same goes for motivation and achievement. It seems if we are just motivated we will achieve our goals. However, it is just the opposite…motivation comes from achievement. The more you achieve the more you will be motivated.

To me that is such the complete opposite of everything I remember hearing.  I remember voices saying just be disciplined, make the sacrifice, be uncomfortable, make the choice.  And as much as I am realizing there is definitely a place for each of those thoughts and attitudes.  I can definitely agree with a standing ovation in the cheering section, that when I achieve something, no matter how small how insignificant to the rest of the world; I AM MOTIVATED!!!!

I still do battle with the worthlessness, I still hear the voices of self-doubt and I still rebel against what is good for me.  But when I see the achievements, when I feel the improvement, when I KNOW what I know WHAT I KNOW that I have accomplished, achieved, even MASTERED something in ANY way.  My motivation is stronger.  My drive has returned.  My Hope is Brilliant and Glowing. 

It’s no wonder that I have 5 different songs on my iPod at the moment ALL by different artists with the theme of: It’s a brand new day, New Day, New perspective, New pathway, New Challenge to inspire my psyche as I spend more hours than I care to count in my car. 🙂


Goals can be a bad thing

A friend suggested I give myself A BREAK!!! Seems like such an easy, NICE, PERFECT idea, RIGHT?  Not for me some days… Most days… these days.

I have this NEED to improve myself, work on things, get things right, make progress, make better decisions, etc.  But I sometimes (ok BE HONEST – ALWAYS) set these INSANE goals… too lofty… too high… too difficult for almost ANYONE to achieve.

But that is what I was taught in Motivation and Leadership class in college.  That is what all the successful business people tell you to do.  Even the bible says that a wise man builds with a plan.  So everything I hear is about making plans, working harder, and setting goals.  Goal theory describes making goals DIFFICULT, SPECIFIC, and MEASUREABLE.  Difficult because you will push yourself beyond the comfortable to reach a higher level than if you just set an easy goal.  Specific because you can look at the details of your progress as you are making changes and taking action.  Measureable because if you can not see where you are in improvement by using some kind of measure then it is not motivational and you can’t say you ACCOMPLISHED or Failed.

If I look at my life in terms of grades (because that is a measurement, I understand at my deepest levels-having spent many many years in school), I would say I’m getting a C- or D+ on the food, exercise, and finances areas of my life.  I mean that is still passing; but BARELY.  And some how some way my psyche is expecting A or A+ on everything all the time.  Isn’t that how things are supposed to be done?  I try and try with gusto, passion, and good intentions… the results are supposed to be success and success with a perfect output.

I mean, come on, other people can do it.   Just look at all those sound bites we hear about the millionaires who worked and worked and is now successful.  Or the athlete that OVERNIGHT became this great amazing stupendous professional.  Or what about the person who just woke up one day and decided to exercise themselves to an amazing tiny size and POOF they did it.  Ok, Ok, OK I will fess up… most of those stories have some amount of failure, disappointment, or stagnation in the middle of the story before the GREAT GIANT AMAZING success.  But for some reason my mind doesn’t every HEAR that part of the story.  So I see myself as the below average non-achieving failure.  I ask myself: Why am I falling so far below the marker?  How come I can’t have instant or first time success like all these other people I have seen? 

You would think that I have some kind of logical approach to these areas in my life that are not easy.  That if I am not strong in this area, it’s not a strength for a reason.  It is going to take some training or retraining, maybe even some practice.  And by all means, I shouldn’t expect Perfection the first time, or two, or three DOZEN times, no matter how much I push or persuade or drive myself into some kind of evil, oppressive obedience (because as we all know that doesn’t work).

So this ties in beautifully with my post on the Re-Do button.  That I need to allow myself permission to mess things up.  I need to allow myself the grace to try and fail; to try and kinda fail; to try and almost not fail; and maybe then… JUST MAYBE to try and not fail so much.  I might actually make some progress to overcoming the weaknesses in my life… To making better decisions on my finances, food, exercise, and emotions.  I mean Rome wasn’t built in a day what makes me think a human can be changed in a year, or two or three for that matter.

So a BREAK it is… No judgement, no measurement, no goals right now… Just live, and laugh and BE… The goals will be there tomorrow.  I couldn’t bring myself to throw them away.

Trust – Parental Authority

I had lunch with my father the other day.  It had been almost 2 years since we had spoken, and even though I was still angry about the “incident” that was between us… I figured it was time to have a conversation at least. 

As we were wrapping up a 5 hour conversation, yes it was peppered with sports team discussions, the latest television offerings, and how much the area has changed here and there… but it was in that last hour that I decided to dive in head first into the topic and bit the bullet.  It really is tough to have a conversation with some one that has played out like a criminal court case in my head.  When I came to realize WHY it is that in a court of law they make both sides present the evidence first to the point that they almost have to agree on it.  Because it became increasingly clear through this conversation we were having that we did not have the same facts.  He was remembering all sorts of things and events that I did  not; and he remembers all sorts of things I said and did that I DO NOT REMEMBER.  At that point there was an in-pass, which I just resigned to accept as an agree to disagree type of arrangement. 

But it was actually in the parking lot that I was confronted with something, that really REALLY had me questioning things the whole 45 min drive home. 

Why don’t I trust my father’s judgement? 

It has been a well-known fact to most of my friends that my father is more of a 3rd base coach in my life; some times I go to him for advice, but most of the time if I want to run home plate I am going for it no matter what he says.  I have commonly been heard saying, “Eh, As long as we don’t talk about my life (major life decisions) and money then we get along fine”  in response to the question, “Are you and your father close?”

So in a life filled with friends who seem to go to their parents for advice on anything and everything, why have I never felt that pull in my life?  When I have to make a significant decision, I kick it around with my friends, I make pro and con lists, I attempt to find similar people in similar situations to ask their experiences… but rarely IF EVER to I ask my Dad for advice.  As I began to replay in my head how my childhood unfolded, there wasn’t a major significant trauma that paved the way for this massive amounts of distrust.  I can not point to any specific incident that set this idea in motion. 

But as I was attempting to pick apart these feelings and emotions I realized… it’s the little things.  For me it is ALWAYS about the little things.  He was a good talker to almost ANYONE at anytime, but the down side to that is when all a person does is talk, that is all it is… talk.  And I have definitely bought into the belief that talk is cheap, saying your opinion is easy but doing something with it is hard.  Telling someone how to do something is completely hollow in the midst of helping them do it or learn it.  So with my Dad it all boils down to inactivity.  Not physically, but emotionally, socially, intelligently, spiritually, and financially. 

So when we were standing in the parking lot talking, I shared some of my newest life accomplishments: getting my finances in order, managing my food, getting my career broadened, and going to a new church for friends and life.  In the midst of my sharing these new things, there developed a them from my Dad’s side: I told you how to do that years ago.  I knew that was what you needed to do to get over that.  I have been saying that for years.  And to his credit some of his statements are TRUE.  He has told me to get my finances in order and lectured me on a detail by detail method that I NEEDED to follow.  He told me that I should major in business and get into a corporation to make better money.  And at least a dozen more, but at the time I was in full rebellion to his opinion, his ideas, or his wisdom. 

But that is just the rub… at the time I did not believe it to be wisdom.  I did not believe it to be truth.  I was searching far and wide for a role model to follow and be mentored by; but I would not, could not look to my father.  I did not trust him.  I did not believe him. 

And last but not least I did not want to turn out like him-in so many different areas, that I believe somewhere in my subconscious conscious that if I don’t take his advice I can’t turn out like him.  So the battle continues… How much do I share? How much do I ask?  How much do I trust in my father? 

How much does a person need to do to prove their word can be trusted?  That their judgement is sound?  That they are truly communicating wisdom and not folly?  Or will I always have a defense mechanism in place against certain people in my life both family and friend?

Change – Is it for Everyone?

Somewhere in the Christian walk I find myself getting exhausted, overwhelmed, under pressure, and seemingly stranded in quick sand.  With each new day and each new lesson, I find myself thinking GREAT!!! Just one more thing wrong with me.  Just one more thing I have to fix.  Just one more way in which I suck.  Now it isn’t nearly THAT bad, but some days it sure does feel that way. 

I want to be a good person.  I want to do what the Bible says.  I want to follow God’s leading.  But some days it just feels like when I hear teachings and sermons and read the bible all I end up doing is tossing one more ball in the air to juggle.  And I don’t know if you know this… but I am not a juggler.  My friend Brent in college was a great juggler and I would always watch in awe as he could juggle just about anything and would try on a regular basis.  But the first couple times I would try and throw those couple of easy (designed for juggling) balls in the air they would almost drop instantly, once I added that 3rd ball. 

Now in life, I have been known for having 6 IM (instant messages) running at the one time.  I have been a director for a musical holiday production, for those of you who don’t know: dress rehearsals are a GIANT juggling act, between final run through, sound tech cues, lighting steps, costuming decisions, final character corrections, and scenery improvements – yeah that’s just the BIG STUFF.  I can watch tv, make dinner, bake brownies, have a conversation with a roommate, and check my emails all at the same time.  Just last night I was sitting at the dining room table with a 1/2 dozen people and while I was telling one gal right next to me a story; I interjected a comment or correcting statement into the other conversation the other 5 people were having (for some reason they thought that was impressive).  So for me, multi-tasking or coordinating multiple things all at the same time is just the WAY I do life. 

So when I think about all these things in my emotional life or spiritual life that need changing or improving all I can think of: I can’t do ONE MORE THING!!! I’m already doing _____ and ____ and ____ and ____ there isn’t anymore room or energy for just one more (now I could copy and paste those blanks for at least 4 more times).  So I believe that improving and changing is a definite part of life, a necessary part of our growth and improvement as Christians; but I can get overwhelmed to the point that I just say NEVER MIND… and toss the whole thing in the trash.  Then the next morning I take it out dust it off and start working on it again. 

But I was thinking the other day that a friend of mine really hasn’t changed AT ALL  in the last 15 years (ok maybe 20), but we are friends and I like him as a pal.  I know he has unhealth and dysfunction in how he deals with certain areas of life and some relationships in his life.  Yet I don’t challenge him to change.  I don’t ask those deep and probing questions into his personal life that would nudge him to change.  I don’t even think I have brought up to him those things I think he is bad at.  So why is that? 

There are sooooo many other people in my life that I am in a constant tug of war with about what they need to change and what they need to improve.  But with him I do not feel the same compulsion or nudge.  Why is that? 

His dysfunction doesn’t affect me directly and I have not be a direct witness to the harm his behavior causes.  So is that the reason I have not confronted him about it?  Is that why I excuse it and seem to ignore it? While others in my life at church act in unhealthy destructive behaviors, I can’t help but comment.  I see them so stuck in their own ways it drives me CRAZY that they don’t see the error of their ways and CHANGE!!! I am pushed to challenge them to change.  So why the double standard?  Why am I so passionate about growth and change for some bur not for ALL?

Why can some people continue in their unhealth, dysfunction, and selfishness, but we love and accept them ANYWAY: while OTHERS if  we do not see change or progress we become dissatisfied, distant, and even disgusted with their behaviors, personhood, and character?

Just a Woman with a Shovel

I was working on a service project yesterday with the singles group I have recently adopted as my new social circle (to which I am ecstatically happy about).  We were doing landscape work (you know laymen’s pulling weeds, trimming bushes, and digging out unwanted plants).  Yes I am sore and yes it was great refreshing work on an occasionally misting BRIGHT Overcast Oregon Day.  I even shed a couple of layers as the day progressed and I do not have a sniffle from working in the rain, so the weather must have been alright. 

My Tool of Choice on Saturday

As I was digging out the root systems of a plant that I know not the name of, I stumbled across an interestingly little attitude.  I am surrounded by men and women, single and married, young and old.  I am realizing the shovel I am using is not going to get all of the root system out and if I put too much strain on it the shovel might break.  Since it isn’t my shovel I thought I should be more careful OR I’m gonna end up buying someone a shovel. 🙂  So I start to think about how can I get this particular bush dug out since the tool I have isn’t going to cut it. 

One of the youngins (say 12 – 15 I THINK) had this pick axe type thingy so when I realized that my shovel wasn’t going to cut it, I called him over and asked for his assistance.  I didn’t know his name and I wasn’t even sure if he was ALL that thrilled about being here to help.  You know that typical teenage facial expression they have, when they just seem irritated at everything and everyone-kind of face?  Well I pretend I don’t see it and ask for help.  He graciously does what I ask and we were able to tackle 3 bushes that way.  I dig, he breaks the deep thick roots.  It was working amazingly effortlessly. 

Not to mention that I felt completely comfortable telling him where the root was that needed hacking.  He saw a few himself and I just dug around it, it seemed like quite the partnership.  I wasn’t insecure or worried or concerned about the words I was saying or HOW I was saying them.  It just worked and we got things done. 

Then there was this question… Why do I feel more comfortable asking a youth person for help with something than I do asking a man for help?  Now this wasn’t just some random fleeting thought that was making an appearance with no foundation in reality.  This received a definite head nod from the judges.  IT WAS TRUE!!! Even on that very day when I was working on this project if I would run into a snag or situation where I would need help, my mind would INSTANTLY reject the idea of asking another guy, man, dude in the group for help. 

So why is that?  Where does that come from?  Am I that much of a feminist that asking for a man’s help would result in betraying all womankind’s achievements in independence?  Or is it meerly that I refuse to swallow my pride and ask a man for help? 

When I spent the next dozen hours or so analyzing this newly realized attitude of mine, I came up with a few things I THINK might possibly be the reason:  1) I want to do things a certain way.  Yes there are times I am a control freak, but other times I think that if I ask for help I won’t get to continue along the method and process I am following.  2) I won’t get credit for the work I DID DO.  Not that there is this GIANT score card out there keeping track of what I have accomplished, but there are times where I want to prove my usefulness.  I want to do my part, make a contribution, and having been a valuable ADDITION to the current group of people.  And if a man does it for me than why am I there? 

FINALLY, and this one I think is the one that rings most true.  I DON’T want them to take it over.  I guess in my previous experience a lot of the men in my life have not been good at JUST HELPING.  So when asked for assistance on one particular portion or area, it is interpreted as DO THIS FOR ME instead.  As a result, I lose my ideas, feel ignored, think I am not needed, and can not say with pride and confidence LOOK AT WHAT I DID. 

And yes for this woman I NEED to be listened to, have my ideas validated, feel NEEDED, have pride and CONFIDENCE that I DID SOMETHING-no  matter how small.

Curious side note:  Less than 1 hour later, I was working on another project with a guy and I asked him to cut the area I was working in (since he had the saw) and over the course of 5 minutes proceeded to ignore every suggestion I made.  Not only cut in a completely different area, but didn’t cut the branches that allowed me to pull them out of his way so he could continue cutting.  At one point I do believe I made a mental *throws hands in the air in disgust* and mumbled, “… or not.”  At which point someone asked for his help on some other project.  Ahhh interpersonal relationships, gotta love em.

Making my Movie – Choosing Characters

In no other time in my life did I realize with such strength of clarity that I can choose my friends.  I don’t remember ever having a choice in who my friends would be.  The people that were my friends were the people who liked me, put up with me, talked to me, did stuff for me, and stuck by me – notice a ME theme?  This was not a matter of choice, this was a matter of it happened.  Now don’t get me wrong and please those of you who are my friends, please do not think for a second that I do not value the friendships I have and that you are not important to me. 

But in the last couple of years, I have begun to distance myself from people I have found to be unhealthy (and if you are reading this you are NOT one of those people).  But it was a distinct choice to no longer hang around them, no longer allow them influence in my life, and to some degree even take them off my regular interactions (facebook, text messages, and emails).  I didn’t quite know why I was doing this at the time, but when I stumbled across this movie making list I realized: OH WOW… YES that is the exact reason.  I wanted to be able to…

4. Choose the other acting characters

There is a realization I am having in my life that I the people I am around influence me.  For the good or for the bad, I am easily swayed.  I care about what people think, I want to fit in, I want to be accepted, and I want to know that my friends agree with me (most days) in the big stuff.  So if that is the case, that I will become more and more like the people I am around, shouldn’t I realize that the people I want to be around be: healthy, responsible, god-serving, growing, doing, loving, and accepting people?  I mean especially if that is who I want to be. 

I am reminded of that list of character questions I posted as a page in response to the idea of how do you (me) choose a significant other… but I am begining to notice that I hear the word character even more now and it is having more and more impact or depth to me.  Especially, since I am becoming increasingly aware that I don’t necessarily know what character looks like in a person.  So how much more important is choosing friends, mentors, support staff, and community based on character as well? 

Please do not hear me preaching some silly ideal that we should only be surrounded by perfect people who always make perfect choices, never make mistakes, don’t have addictions, can’t seem to overcome their past, or do not struggle to make the best of this life.  Because if that is the case I couldn’t be friends with myself. 😀 

Who is my Supporting Cast?

I would not have guessed this, but there is definitely something to be said for choosing friends.  Choosing to be friends with someone because they are a good person and do the right things most days.  Having a mentor in your life that are better at thinking of spriritual things and have walked longer in this Christian life, not because they are better, but because they can inspire you to grow to their level (not higher just deeper). 

Finally, knowing that you do not have to carry the people in your life because they are carrying their own responsibilities is such a freeing, lightening experience.  There is definitely a difference between helping someone in need versus feeling the obligation to carry them through each and every area of life.  That doesn’t feel like the kind of characters I want in my movie.  Not only is it exhausting, but over time without a balance of others, these characters will eventually drag me (maybe not others) downward or backward instead of towards the prize or towards the goal. 

Tips for Making the Movie of Your Life Great

1. Decide in advance what the story will be
2. Welcome challenges as “inciting incidents”
3. View every action as a scene in your movie
4. Choose the other acting characters
5. Remember, you are the director of this movie

Making my Movie – Every Scene Matters

Some of us have a tendency to over analyze, over think, and over apply simple statements or ideas.  This came to me in way that put me in a paralyzing place a few years ago when I was in college.  I was attempting to figure out what to do with my day.  I had 2 specific tasks ahead of me: go to the bookstore for some required supply and go to the mailboxes to check my mail at the Student Union Building. 

Pick Wisely - This DECISION matters!!

I don’t remember what parts of my life led to this being a catalyst for a spiritually altering debate in my head, but it did.  For some reason, I was walking down the street asking: Ok God, which one should I do first?  Needless to say, I didn’t hear an answer.  So then I asked again: Do I go to the bookstore first or go get my mail? again there was silence. 

At this point, I found myself getting frustrated because this seemed to be a significant decision I needed to make CORRECTLY. I mean after all if I do one first then my life will or could have a certain outcome, but if I chose a different option my life would be drastically different.  I mean but OF COURSE it would be.  This is a MAJOR, significantly life altering decision right here. 

It was then that I heard clear as day: Christina, I made you an intelligent woman with a mind to decide.  CHOOSE.   Which of course I responded: but God I want to do the right thing, I want to do your will, I want to make the right decision, one of these MUST be RIGHT.  But again I heard: Christina, I made you an intelligent woman with a mind to decide.  CHOOSE. So I did and I went to the bookstore first. 

But it was in that moment that I realized there are times when my ability to look at the little decisions and specific aspects of my life with such detailed analysis; that I wonder if I am doing myself more harm than good. 

3. View every action as a scene in your movie

Now while looking at #3 is a good overall approach to making intentional choices about how to live life, make a conscious choice about how one spends the time, and pursuing things that keep life positive, serving giving, healthy, integrity filled type of approach. I personally know, I need to be careful, that I do not find myself back in that place of scrutinizing every little move I make in life. Lest I find myself stranded on a street corner arguing with God in broad daylight about which direction I should go — to work mind you. (I am late enough as it is  most days.) 

I also need to be careful not to take the position of a professional film editor of the life I have already lived.  It is so easy to attempt to take that disconnected, neutral position of just watching the move for the purposes of putting it together in a well crafted, visually amazing, and true to the story method when it seems that while reviewing the reels and reels of film there isn’t anything good to show.  Because viewing life in retrospect, it is easy to be critical and detailed and watch things in slow motion and review every nuance of the scene.  And as an editor, those are important skills to know how to put all those pieces together in a way that will display a clever, clear, and creative piece of cinema. 

But if I am viewing my life in the MOMENT from the editor position-trying to anticipate how this will look in the cutting room-it can paralyze the actor position from trying anything for fear of how it will look.  It is at this moment that I realize I need to trust the director to see my performance from the outside and KNOW that he is telling me what looks good and what will make it into the final product. 

So without even realizing it, I have stumbled across a question: Whose the Director?  Is it suppose to be me?  Am I the one who is telling myself (the actor) what to do and how to act and what will look good on-screen?  Have I been trying to fill every role in every way which is only resulting in my self-destruction because having those roles in constant competition with each other does not produce positive results?  Or is it that each of those roles in my life have different goals and desires-which is why on any given day I can be moving from actor to director to editor-so constant internal conflict is just a by-product of the creative process? 

Sometimes having the ability to evaluate and analyze can devolve into an overly oppressive critical attitude toward every action and every situation.  So even though I know the intent of #3 is to spark living life on purpose – I need to include this caution flag in my own mind. 

Tips for Making the Movie of Your Life Great

1. Decide in advance what the story will be
2. Welcome challenges as “inciting incidents”
3. View every action as a scene in your movie
4. Choose the other acting characters
5. Remember, you are the director of this movie

I know I skipped #2 – I will come back to it, 🙂 for all of you keeping track of details people.