Whose Life Are you Living?

Your calling sign
What will your biggest regret be as you near the end of your life?

Bonnie Ware wrote a book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying. After spending time with those nearing death she found the number one regret:

I wish I had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expect of me.

Too often we live our lives quieting our own desires as we try to meet the expectations of others.

I wonder who wins? I mean, at the end of those people’s lives will it really matter if you did what they wanted?

It’s time to listen to your inner voice. The longing you have that burns within you, tired of being silenced. And you need to answer that one little question that shouts-“What if?”

What if you went after what you really felt called to do?
What if you spit in the face of fear and kept going?
What if __________?

As long as we’re breathing, there’s still time. The time is now.

Look at the things that have been stopping you.

Fear is an obstacle to face

Too often we let fear win. We believe the obstacle is too large, or that maybe it’s too late for us.

Well, it’s not too late. Time is going to go by either way. Isn’t it time to go for it?

In high school, when it was time for Driver’s Ed, my dad would not sign for me. Since I was afraid to drive anyway, I never learned how. Then when I was in my 30’s, as a married person whose husband was in the military, I started thinking about learning to drive. But I was still afraid.

And yet, my desire to take care of my child was bigger than my fears. Or at least enough for me to face them. So I learned how to drive in hilly Colorado with a stick shift. I did it.

What does responsible look like? 

We grow into adults following one set of rules religiously. But what if it’s the wrong set?

Too often we listen to the voices of others, silencing the ones within us. My friend Jeff Goins has written a book, The Art of Work, which really challenged me in the area of calling.

Each person is responsible to not only do what she is capable of, but also what she is meant to do.

Do obstacles stop you?

What do you do when you are met with an obstacle? Freeze? Retreat? Start questioning yourself?

Maybe you do all three. I know I’ve let obstacles block my path. And I’ve questioned if I was even right in the first place. In his book, Jeff says,

We may even be able to celebrate setbacks and trials, the things that once seemed so daunting, knowing they are all signs that we are on our way.

Pain used to stop me

My life is riddled with losses. One after the other they rendered me immobile.  At times I’d work them into my writings, into my talks. But I saw them as intrusions on my way to my calling.

In 2013, one week after I launched my first book, Real Love, my brother Steve had a heart attack and died.

I froze. How could I promote my book? I couldn’t even think about it.

For a while after his death, I just went through the motions of writing.

But in 2014,  I listened to the voice within me. I embraced my pain and wrote my memoir, Broken: A story of Abuse and Survival. It was one of the hardest things I did.

Finding your life’s work is not easy. It may, in fact, cause you more pain than comfort, but it will be worth the cost.

Jeff’s book validated my pain, and I saw it was a viable part of my journey. My experiences were intertwined with my calling. 

What I’ve learned 

Jeff’s book taught me to look at my life and recurring themes and patterns.

I am now looking for opportunities, and expecting doors to open. I view detours as necessary steps on my journey. Children’s books started bubbling out of me, after writing Broken.

Writing children’s books was a different direction, but still part of the whole picture. Something I would have missed, had I not been willing to walk into my pain.

I’m determined to fulfill my calling of writing and speaking. It doesn’t matter if others are doing similar things. My life experiences and how I respond to them makes what I have to offer unique.

It’s one shaky step at a time. But I’ll know when I take my last breath that I’ve been responsible in pursuing what I was called to do. I’m living my life.

If you need help on your way to your calling, or you have any questions at all, I highly recommend The Art of Work. You can order it here.

It will change the way you think, and maybe it’ll change your life too.

book@2x

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What if it’s Not too Late?

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We’ve all seen them. People who knew what they wanted to be from the time they were little ones. A teacher inspired them to pick up a piece of chalk and make a difference.

Or maybe the lack of a good doctor when their family needed one, lit a fire in them to become a good doctor in someone else’s life.

We have greenly looked at those who knew, whose certainty dripped from their every movement. And we kept looking at our own lives, wondering what could have been.

It’s never too late to pursue your calling.

Because we weren’t made with cookie cutters, we think differently, act differently and accomplish goals differently. And that’s okay. Maybe more of us would pursue our callings if we better understood the process.

And then I read The Art of Work, by Jeff Goins. A book that not only acknowledges our differences, but also gives us the right to pursue our callings, no matter how our maps differ. This is not a marathon where only one winner is crowned. And the time it takes to get there doesn’t matter, just that we do finish.

For years, I was frustrated, watching others pursue their crystal clear calling and cross their individual finish lines.

While I outwardly congratulated them, inside these questions burned, “Will I ever reach mine? What is wrong with me? Why do I keep getting delayed?”

What about me?

At times, I wondered if I had misunderstood what my calling was. My uncertainty gave me more time to figure it out. The only problem with that was I could hear the clock ticking loudly.

The Art of Work has changed my thinking, even some of my cemented thoughts. Goins not only paints a clear picture of what a calling looked like, he shows us getting there looks different for each person. With each story I could feel myself relax. And that gave me hope.

A calling is not some carefully crafted plan. It’s what’s left when the plan goes horribly wrong,

It all matters

Maybe we all have the power to turn our lives into significant stories if we start to see our difficulties as opportunities.

He had my full attention. After all, I thought I had missed what others had achieved. Hadn’t I? Page after page, I let the words soak in, untangling misunderstood concepts which held me back.

All along, her life was teaching her something, even in the pain. And if she hadn’t paid attention, she just might have missed it.

He may as well have been talking to me. Pain had been a constant companion. One I thought was preventing me from pursuing my calling. One I tried to avoid, though unsuccessful. It had gotten to the point I was afraid of pain. Fear had slipped in again.

Fear needs to be recognized

Some people, though, let fear run their lives. They avoid risk, hoping to minimize the chances of failure, and in effect move in the opposite direction of a calling.

Fear used to stop me cold. I had recently heard Larry Crabb speak. “Sometimes we avoid the very things in our lives God wants to use to teach us something. We do this out of fear.”

Often my stubbornness requires repeat lessons. Two people saying basically the same thing. I needed to respond accordingly, instead of shrinking back.

And now I sit with confirmation of my calling. It doesn’t matter what the date is, or how long my journey has been. None of that matters. The only thing that matters is that I reach my destination.  Circumstances I mistook for intruders, were necessary steps. Part of the whole picture.

One step at a time

With renewed confidence I acknowledge my scrambled journey.  I will stop condemning the calendar, but instead celebrate every step which brings me closer.  One more statement that speaks volumes to me and causes me to face my fears.

Yes, you could fail, but we all know what happens when you don’t try—nothing.

And so I move forward. I will not be paralyzed any longer.

And now you have an opportunity to change your thinking. Maybe you’ll realize you’re not too late.  You may be right on time.

Click here to find out how you can get the Art of Work for only the price of postage. Reading this might be the one thing you need to get you started, or maybe like me, it will restart you. Isn’t it worth finding out?book@2x

What if Every Piece Does Fit?

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So often in life we start down a road, with our dreams in the GPS of our minds. But we don’t seem to meet the destination as we expected.

And after a while we wonder if perhaps we’re on the right road to our calling. Did we miss something? Is this thing even working?

Jeff Goins says, “A calling is what you have when you look back at your life and make sense of what it’s been trying to teach you all along.”

Reading that line was liberating.

Sometimes you’ll read a good book, loaded with tools for navigating your journey. Helpful tools.

In another book by Jeff, The In Between, I learned the value in the waiting part of my life. That the in between part is to be enjoyed, not just tolerated.

In his new book, The Art of Work, Jeff gives me other tools. This one helps us look at the experiences of our lives in a new light. All those times we thought we were being delayed.

For the longest time I have felt I was called to speak and write. And while I’ve been thankful that my poetry has been in stores, I couldn’t see how one road would lead me to the one of speaking.

Was I wrong?

Nothing seemed to lead me to my desire. Had I been mistaken?

Then I began getting Bible studies I had written published, and published articles followed. Each one fulfilling, but not in the area of speaking.

I enrolled in writing courses and improved my craft. I had to write. For me it was like breathing.

In the meantime, I lived life. Then I wrote about it. I learned what helps others is vulnerability. I wrote my memoir, and then put it out there.

Still these experiences were not moving me in the direction I thought they would. They seemed disconnected. And a frustration grew within me.

In The Art of Work, Jeff Goins addresses the whole picture. Telling real-life stories, we learn what it looks like for someone to fulfill their calling. What surprised me was that it sometimes looked very different than the person expected.

There’s the story Jeff tells of Jody Mayberry, whose dream was to be a park ranger. Whatever obstacles Jody saw he overcame. Becoming a park ranger was his deep desire.

But by the time his story was told we learned being a park ranger was only part of what he was called to do. His calling would consist not only being a park ranger, but influencing park rangers everywhere. He had to remain open to the possibilities.

But what if he hadn’t been open to that?

I believe The Art of Work is a must-read for anyone who is trying to figure out his/her calling.

Story after story, we see people with passions. Some who aren’t sure of their callings, some who needed to just live life and then they saw them revealed.

I look at the extraneous experiences in my life right now. Like puzzle pieces, I have been unsure of where they fit, and it they fit at all. But this book has given me a different perspective. One that makes me grateful for each of these odd-shaped pieces.

A fresh look

Instead of looking at these pieces as hindrances, or at best delays, to what my heart longs for, I see them all as necessary to the bigger picture. Now I am welcoming them instead of resenting them.

Instead of seeing our experiences as setbacks, we can start seeing them as they really are.

You don’t know how much time I have wasted regretting what I thought was lost. Goins says, “Life is full of surprises, and it doesn’t help us to fixate on regrets or trying to recover what was lost.”

So if you want to better understand the whole concept of calling, if you want to recognize how each part of your life may work together for the whole, you need to read this book. And after you’re done, you might want to mark it up and read it again. That’s what I’m doing.

And for those of you who seem to be stopped by the difficulties, Jeff encourages us, “Maybe we all have the power to turn our lives into significant stories if we start to see our difficulties as opportunities.”

Thank you Jeff, for casting a light on an area I struggled with. I have renewed hope that I will fulfill my calling. And I’m not as concerned with the timetable, for I see each experience as a valuable step in the right direction.

To get your own copy of The Art of Work, Jeff is offering it free. All you pay for is shipping. This is an offer you won’t want to miss.book@2x

Finally, I can see value in a lot of extraneous experiences. And it further confirms something I truly believe. That God doesn’t waste anything.

3 Reasons You Should NOT Join TribeWriters

Tribe Writers

I heard TribeWriters is starting up again. It’s an online course by Jeff Goins, that promises to give you skills for writing that will move you forward.

And while that is true. I’m here to tell you three reasons you should NOT become a TribeWriter.

1) It’s scary

Now hear me out on this one. Do you know Jeff expects people to not only write things that are inside of them, but to also share them? I am not kidding.

It’s one thing to write in a journal. Many of us have spiral notebooks stored in all corners of our homes. But to open ourselves up before people? WHAT?

If you open up, you might discover others share the same feelings. That you’re not that unique. You might find out others CAN relate. You might even free others up to share their feelings because you took a risk.

But that’s not your responsibility. No. Better to just leave your feelings stuffed inside, nice and cozy. It’s more exciting that way, not knowing when they’ll burst out of you.

2) You will be part of a community

Now this is really important. Why would we want to know more people when we have at least 683  friends on Facebook already? Not to mention our 1032 followers on Twitter. People who follow us even though we’re not going anywhere.

And with Facebook friends, we only show them what we want to show them and they LIKE us. They made us a friend, didn’t they? We get to lol all over the place. And if there is a problem in our friendship, well, we can unfriend them. Now that’s a community we can feel good about.

Although Jeff didn’t realize how important the Tribe Writers community would become, he went too far with that one.

Why would I want to interact with those who might encourage me. And why on earth would I want honest feedback? That might hurt. Sure, it might help me grow in my writing, but did you hear me when I said, it might hurt? I do not gravitate toward things that might hurt.

And as far as fans. I’ve got family members that tell me how good my writing is and how they don’t know why a publisher hasn’t discovered me yet. Family.

And let’s not forget my friends. So what, they sometimes change the subject when I talk about another writing project. While it’s true they don’t return my umpteen text messages, they COULD be in the bathroom, you don’t know.

3) You can get published

Okay this is the real biggie. If you take this course, you just may get your book out there. The one that’s burning inside of you.

You may get the tools you need and the confidence you lack, so one day when you go on Amazon, your book is there. No longer is it just an idea in your head.

And not only is it there, but it’s rising up the ranking. People are buying it, people are reading it. And dare I say, people are liking it. Real people who don’t share your name.

But, who needs to be published, anyway? I mean then you might get a big head. You might even think you have more inside of you to share. And you might actually start feeling good about yourself. That would be a change.

Change

Status quo is comfortable. Change is hard. And you’ve fought it this long. Just hang on.

It’s better to just keep talking and dreaming about writing. Setting goals you might not reach? That’s just crazy talk.

Hopefully by now I’ve convinced you why you should NOT become a Tribe Writer.

Still, I think it’s only fair to disclose that I am a Tribe Writer. In fact, I joined the first group Jeff Goins started. He has even started different groups, like My 500 Words. Yes, I’m part of that one too.

I’ve learned I can do scary things. In fact, it gave me confidence to try other scary things as well.

And yes, I did become part of a community which helped me grow in my writing and as a person. People I’m proud to call my friends.

And finally, yes, I am published. Five books are out there with my name on them, since joining Tribe Writers. One that was really hard to write, called Broken. And three children’s books you can see here, here and here.

I don’t know, it is your decision. For me, it was one of the best ones I’ve ever made.

In case you feel like checking out Tribe Writers, click HERE. (You need to know it’s an affiliate link.)

Whatever you decide, it’s your decision.  Maybe you’d like to hear an interview I did with Jeff Goins.

One thing you need to realize is that you are unique. No one can tell your story because no one has lived it but you. The world needs to hear what you have to say.

Either way, I wanted to share my story. I’ve been doing that a lot lately.

Let Your Words out

 

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I have to write. From the time I was young, writing has been an escape for me. While things were difficult at home, I could go to this imaginary place. my new home.

The spiral notebooks stacked in a box don’t look like much. But tucked inside are the pages of my life. The days when we didn’t know where my sister was, the endless prayers, “God give us an answer.”

The days leading up to the births of my children. Each emotion scrawled onto the paper. Scrawled because not everyone could write like Mary Ann Kenny.

Looking through those journals I see a younger me, someone whose feet were not wet, someone whose heart was still intact. Someone very young and inexperienced.

Writing is not a hobby to me. Writing is like breathing.

I place my fingers on the keys and my mind opens. Out tumble the words which had been waiting by the door. Sure, sometimes they trip over each other because of their exuberance at finally being free. But even that’s okay. They know I’ll come by and reposition them.

I love words. They are the only thing I can manipulate without protest. Tweet.

 

And even the words who don’t make it in this story know that there will be a place for them somewhere. I’m not going to exclude them. I know what that feels like.

Writing is a chance to pull back the curtains of my life and let you into my world. To let you see who I am.

Yes, I have to write. People were created to touch each other. To be in community with one another. And it’s our words whether spoken or written that can reach out. Without that we are islands that shrivel up inside.

A couple of years ago I had a desire to pursue my writing. I took a writing course called Tribe Writers, by Jeff Goins. Little did I know what it would do for me. I thought it was just about the words. I was so wrong.

Tribe Writers gave me the tools I needed to hone my writing. It also taught me that while we may be individuals, we share so many common emotions. We may look differently and have different roles in life, but we are so alike. We all hurt. We can all experience joy.

I found a place where my writing was read and accepted. Where I was accepted.

And I wrote the book I was meant to write. I opened up my life and jumped onto the paper. Tribe Writers created the place where I could learn the things I needed to learn and then practice them.

What about you? Do you have a story within you the world is waiting to hear? Or are you yearning to know how to release those captive thoughts inside you?

Maybe Tribe Writers is the launching ground for you. You can find out more about Tribe Writers here at this affiliate link.

It’s not to late to sign up, if you need help in getting those words out.

I know I’m glad I did.

Tribe Writers

Why do I Write?

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Photo courtesy of Jessica Peterson.

To me, writing is breathing. I have to write.

As a young girl, I remember reading Robert Louis Stevenson’s Garden of Verses in  Aunt Jeanette’s TV room. I’d slip into a chair with the book in my lap, and into another world. A world where I felt safe to be who I was. A world I liked.

I love telling stories

A few years later, I won a writing contest in 5th grade. That day I recited my winning entry on the radio in downtown Chicago I found something out about myself. I had a passion for telling stories. Writing what was on my heart.

Artists put color on canvas, mindful of each stroke. Creating the right tone with each piece. My canvas is the computer screen. I tap into words milling around my head, who wait to be seen, to be heard.

And in time I open the door of my mind, coaxing them to come out. Don’t trip over each other, take your time. There’s room for everyone.

I write poetry

Some of the pieces I write are poems where words dance out onto the paper at just the right time. They don’t force their way out, wanting to be seen. They know it will happen if they are just patient.

With words I can be in charge.

I love words—they are the only thing I can manipulate without protest.

Whether it’s writing in a classroom setting, scribbling in a spiral notebook, or pecking away at willing keys, I have always loved writing.

Even letters scrawled to friends and family overseas were opportunities to express myself. Opportunities to touch others.

I write to tell my story

We’re all different. And though we go through similar experiences in life, our perceptions vary as much as our fingerprints.

So I take the events in my life and shine a flashlight on them. And when they’re clear to me, I coax the words to come out and tell their story. To create a picture so vivid you can’t help but be drawn in.

Why do I write? Because it’s what I was made to do. And I take it seriously.

Each and every word.

This post was in response to Jeff Goins post  http://goinswriter.com/why-i-write/