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Tracy's Blog is Moving!

I'm in the process of moving over to WordPress.  You can find the new site at:

www.travelingclues.com

It's still under construction, but I did put up a new post today called, "You've Got a Call Waiting".

By the way, any Word Press experts... I have a bunch of things I can't figure out and would be glad for some help :)

See you over there!

Tracy

Success Begins With Failure

Have you ever experienced a failure so deep that you felt as though your life was over? I know I have.  Or have you ever felt as though you could not possibly pick up the pieces and go on, or ever face that person again, or ever show your face in that place again?  Maybe you haven't experienced that level of failure, but we all experience failure.

A while back, I accidently sent a very confidential e-mail, meant for one person, to an entire group of people.  I remember that sinking feeling when I realized what had happened just seconds after I hit the 'send' button.  I called support services and pleaded with them to figure out a way to retrieve that e-mail,  knowing full well it was highly unlikely.  It was a desperate attempt.  From there, I went to talk with one of my colleagues, and as I told her what had happened, I cried and cried. I felt awful. And due to the nature of the e-mail I knew that  I had really blown it. My career was over.  At that point, all I could do was pick up the pieces and try to make right whatever I could, ask for forgiveness of the intended recipient, and acknowledge before the entire group of people my failure.  My kids have words for this.

Epic Fail

It happens to all of us.
  •  Maybe the business you always dreamed of having couldn't stay solvent and one day you closed the doors for the last time
  • A marriage hits the rocks
  • The cause you gave heart and soul to ends up being nothing but one relational difficulty after another
  • You lose the career you worked so hard to obtain
  • The art you invested many hours into isn't well received
  • Or maybe you find yourself in the middle of someone or something else's failure
The natural tendency with failure is to quit.  We're done.  We won't love again, we won't try again, we won't open our heart again, we won't risk again, we won't put our neck out there again.  We are afraid. So we batton down the hatches and let life happen to us. And that is where the true failure lies.

Micheal Jordan, Wikipedia
I love Micheal Jordan's insightful perspective:
I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career.  I've lost almost 300 games.  26 times, I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed.  I've failed over and over and over again in my life.  And that is why I succeed.
Or, in the words of my favorite rock star: "There's no failure here sweetheart.  Only when you quit." (Miracle Drug, U2)

We step on the path to success when we get back up and are willing to try again, having learned from the failure what to do differently the next time. And then what?  Rinse and Repeat.

Often its in the multiple attempts that we begin to find ourselves in new territory, new discoveries about ourselves and others that lead us to the breakthrough we needed in order to see the result we desired. My parents used to say, "If at first you don't succeed, try and try again."  While that phrase is a bit tired and worn out, it still rings true. It's true because its in the trying and trying again that we gain valuable learnings and insight  if we choose to.  And those learnings can be the ticket to success- to finally see the fulfillment of our dreams and passions, to become the person we want to be, to accomplish the goal, whatever it might be.

Life is an uphill battle of 2 steps forward, 1 step back. Whatever mountain you are trying to climb, don't stop climbing.  Don't give up.  Keep moving forward in the direction of your dreams and sense of call.  It will be worth it.


By the way, in case you were wondering, I didn't lose my career, and life wasn't over after the e-mail incident.  I did learn some things in the process, ate a whole bunch of humble pie, and moved on.  I still send e-mails.

Rise Above Average

BE YOUR TRUE, UNIQUE AND BEAUTIFUL SELF, NOT WHAT OTHERS THINK YOU SHOULD BE

KEEP YOUR PROMISES

ALWAYS  BE HONEST

DARE TO FOLLOW THE DREAMS IN YOUR OWN HEART

DO SOMETHING EVERY DAY IN THE DIRECTION OF YOUR DREAMS

CARE MORE ABOUT OTHERS

BE GENEROUS

GET OVER YOUR FEARS

STOP WAITING TO BE PICKED


BELIEVE THAT YOU CAN DO GREAT THINGS

BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE IN THE WORLD


GO THE EXTRA MILE, TAKE THE HIGH ROAD



Turtles and Burning Bushes

My goal over the summer break is to walk 4 miles every day.  In reality, that amounts to about 4 or 5 times a week rather than every day.  I know myself. I'm not the best at actually achieving the goals I set, so I set them high and fall short.  It works for me because I don't stress about that and neither do I  feel like I'm failing.  In the end I walk more often than if I had set a more realistic goal to walk  5 times a week.  Because then I would probably only be walking 2 or 3 times a week.   I guess that's just how I roll, as they say (I can see my daughter rolling her eyes right now)!

Anyways, today on my walk, I saw ANOTHER really large turtle along the path (click here for the back story).   Crazy, but in one week I have now seen more enormous turtles in the "wilds" than I have ever seen before in my entire life.

OK, you've got my attention.

If turtles remind me of how at times we are to stick our necks out there for the right reasons, I'm thinking that  perhaps something, someone is trying to speak to me

There's a story in scripture of Moses, a man just minding his own business and doing what he did every day, which was watching sheep, when out of nowhere he encounters a bush that appears to be burning.

Those of us familiar with this story may have stopped thinking about how absolutely astounding that is.

Moses thinks to himself that this is quite amazing.  He stops what he's doing, and walks over to look at the bush.  Exodus 3: 4 says it like this:  "When the Lord saw that he had caught Moses' attention, God called to him from the burning bush."

What do you do when something catches your attention?  You stop what you are doing, and pay attention.

Messages come at us every day, fast and furiously, through e-mails, tweets, facebook, blog feeds, text messages, and on and on. Most of these no longer really capture our attention.  They mostly have become part of the noise that we live with.  Something needs to be pretty unusual or unique to capture our attention any more.

But these turtles now have my attention.  I'm asking if there is something that I'm supposed to be seeing, or hearing, or understanding?  Something that I'm to do that means sticking my neck out there?  It could all have been coincidence and not amount to much of anything, but I at least want to be open and asking the questions just in case there is something that I am to see through this.

In the story of Moses, God gets Moses' attention and then invites Moses to be a part of God's epic story to rescue his people, a story which continues to this day.  All I know is that if there is the possibility of taking another step towards engaging God's story, I don't want to miss it because I wasn't paying attention.

I believe God loves us and cares about us enough to not just let us live our mundane lives, but to catch our attention if he must in order to invite us to be a part of his story, the greatest Love Story of all times.




Lessons from Turtles

Charles and I were taking a walk the other day and saw a really large turtle in a field... probably the biggest we've ever seen in the "wilds".  The turtle was off the path quite a ways, and what struck me, even from a distance, was his outstretched head and neck. In fact, it was  the long neck sticking out from the shell  that probably caused us to even notice the turtle at all. 

Being quite a distance from us,  the turtle felt quite safe.  It was a good time to stick his neck out.  Had something come nearer, I'm quite sure the turtle would have felt threatened and immediately retreated into his shell.

It made me think about how easy it is to stick our neck out there when everything seems safe.  And how quickly we can retreat at the nearest perceived threat. I recently read a blog post by Seth Godin that said this:

You will be judged (or you will be ignored). Those are pretty much the only two choices. Being judged is uncomfortable.....The alternative, of course, is much safer. To be ignored. Up to you.

I don't know about you, but I do not like being misunderstood or rejected.  I recognize in myself a tendency to play it safe, so that I'm not rejected, judged, or misunderstood.   Maybe its human nature. We don't step out because we're afraid. Yet, the alternative may mean that we don't get to live out our sense of call, courageously being true to who we are and what we are to bring to the world. And we miss the blessing of the joy and fruit that comes with pursuing our calls and our destinies.

Every time I write something and post it publicly, I am acutely aware of the two ends of the spectrum- judged or ignored.  What if people don't like what I write?  What will they think? What if I'm misunderstood? Will people think less of me? Even though I love writing and believe I am called to write, it would be much easier, safer and more convenient  to just keep writing in my journal, as I have done for years. There, no one else sees what I write. There's no risk of rejection or being misunderstood or judged. Journal writing was safe.  Writing here is not safe.

Steven Pressfield calls this battle within "resistance".  Everyone who has ever stepped out towards a better future has experienced it.  Some learn to act in spite of the resistance and do extraordinary things, and some let the resistance determine whether they ever act or not.  And you can be sure that if resistance has its way, there will be no action.

You and I were created for more.  Let's stick our necks out there together for all of the right reasons!  Yes, we may be misunderstood, judged, and even rejected.  But in the end it seems to be a better alternative to being safe and never have stepped out courageously to pursue our callings, passions, and dreams. Acting, in spite of the resistance, can lead to new and exciting places of fruitfulness, joy and growth.

What, for you, takes a determined will to do even at the risk of being misunderstood, judged or rejected?  I would love to hear!



The Pits

In high school, if something didn't work out or wasn't like we thought it should be, we would say, "That's the pits."  Does anyone say that anymore?  If not,  here's to bringing that saying back because life can be the pits. And here's to talking about the pits because our American culture sets us up to expect happiness and success.  So when things seem to be falling apart we have no idea what to do or where to turn. And worse, we feel like something is wrong with us as we look around  and see everyone else who seems to have it all together.

Hey, you're saying, I thought this was supposed to be a place with encouraging and inspiring thoughts. Right.

Life itself has its pits, as we all know.  It's those times when life doesn't  go like we anticipated, or thought  it would.  We feel lost, confused, let down, disoriented, maybe even hopeless. Uncomfortable.  That's a good way to describe how I feel during these times. Sometimes the pits last a few days, and at other times these seasons can go on and on for what seems like forever.  Or, maybe we went through the pits of life a few years back and thought we were "Done!"  only to find ourselves back in another pit years later.

Richard Rohr, OFM,  says this: "Don't be too afraid of being thrown into the pit."  My dad says it like this:  "What goes up must come down."  The Biblical pattern is clear.  There is no going up until you go down.  Joseph had to go down into the pit twice before he came into his destiny.  The examples of this pattern in scripture are numerous,  ending of course in the example of Jesus's death and resurrection.

If it's true that times of defeat, humiliation, failure, brokenness are part of life, then why do we try so hard to avoid them?  I suppose we each have to answer that for ourselves as the reasons come from our own dark side.  But what if we learned to not run from, fear, dread, or avoid the pits of life but learn to embrace them as they come our way?  Where we even learn to say, "This stinks, but through it I have the opportunity to become a better person  if I choose to."

The pits of life can be good for us.   It's during those times that God, if we allow it, meets us in profound ways. Not only do we learn things about God that we wouldn't otherwise see, but we learn things about ourselves. Corrie ten Boom and Victor Frankl are great examples to me of people who survived the Holocaust concentration camps and came out better people for their suffering.

Here are some things I've tried to live out during the pits of life, as a way of embracing these seasons:

  • Be honest about where you are and how you feel.  
  • Stop pretending that everything is alright.
  • Stop lying to yourself that you should have it all together by now
  • Stop comparing your journey to that of those around you.  Your journey is your journey.  Your journey is not their journey.
  • Find a good friend to walk with you through this season, not one who has to fix you, but one who can ask thoughtful questions or just simply walk alongside.
  • Bring all of the mixed up, confused, hurt, let down and whatever else feelings to God
  • Ask for insight to see things within that can't be known during the happy and good times of life.  Believe me, the dark times have a way of exposing junk in us.
  • Surrender to allowing your heart and inner self to be worked on
  • And finally, hang on like crazy to the One who can begin to make sense out of the pits of life, even turning it into something good and beautiful in time.
Maybe you find yourself in a pit now and it seems there is no way out.  Know that one day you will be emancipated.  You will be free again.  And you will have become a better person for your experience in the pit.  In the meantime, just keep holding on like crazy.