The new you starts here

New doesn’t mean throwing out the old. Those mistakes, that failure are things you’d like to forget—but don’t. Becoming new means taking the old and learning from it, growing through it. Just as the flower dies in winter and feeds the seed in spring, your past helps your future bloom. Without the old, you cannot be new.

Happy New Year!


Recommended reading to become a new you in 2020 (some links are affiliates):

    The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F***: Now his language is what it is as you can tell from the title, so if that is too distracting or offensive, skip on; but this is a refreshingly honest book about how to see life.
    On Writing: Imagine Stephen King writing a book on writing, and this is what you get. King shares his own story of how he became a writer and his tips on how he creates his masterpieces. Now, I’m not an incredible writer, but reading this has improved how I write.
    The Bible: For spiritual renewal, this book holds the greatest words for true refreshment, telling us the story of the one who loves you like no other and went to lengths to show you his love that no one else dare do.
    Mere Christianity: Here’s another book for your spirituality. C.S. Lewis was one of the worlds foremost thinkers, and in this book he explores Christianity honestly and intelligently.
    Sleep better: This post shares all that I do to help me sleep like a mummy every night. Up your sleeping game by reading this post.
    Get fit: In this post, I share my story of going from being obese to fit, even in midlife. I hope it inspires you to build healthier habits in your life and know that your worth it.
    Start a business: Here’s my story of how I started my first successful business. Believe me, if I could do it so can you.

I hope these find you well and better, friends.

May 2020 be our best year, yet!

The most important thing that should matter to you

What matters, really? Your life does. The very fact you get to breathe, wake up, chit chat with your neighbors is paramount. Without it everything else wouldn’t matter.

Another thing that matters are relationships, getting to be with loved ones, the people who really love you and whom you love—for whom you would die—and know.

And that’s when you know what really matters when you’re about to die. It’s ironic, really, that you often can’t see what matters in life until you reach the end of it. What really matters is invisible until you’re about to close your eyes for the last time. But don’t wait until then. That’s too late, damn it!

Why not wake up and live for what is worth dying for before you’ve spent your life living for something or someone you never intended? Don’t make that mistake! Do what’s important.

Start by imagining yourself on your deathbed, drawing your last breaths, dreading the inevitable. In that, what or who are you thinking about, caring about? That is what matters. Death is the key to life.

Because when nothing matters is when we realize what really should matter and that we made what shouldn’t have mattered matter.

That insult, that heartache by that lover we spent too many years fretting about, that partner who cheated us, that parent who failed us, that job we never cared for, that failure we made, that money we didn’t make, that party we weren’t invited to, that flaw we have don’t matter when compared to what really does.

And remember this.

You matter.

One of the best friends you should have

We are often our own worst enemy because we haven’t learned how to be our own greatest friend: We criticize ourselves when we should encourage, rage against when we should extend peace, yell at when we should listen, hate when we should love. We shouldn’t just be kind to ourselves; we need to support and believe in what we are doing, who you’re becoming.

The one thing you should never do

There are times when life tries to drag you down, crush you, take you out. And you’ll want to surrender.

Darkness will envelop you, swallow you whole, blind you.

You will crawl, cry, pray, choke, scream. But it won’t matter. You can’t change what happened.

And you’ll be tempted to think that it will always be this way that you’ll always be crawling around in the dark.

But no matter what happens, you must remember this.

Never give up.

 

 

This is what it costs to live a great life

There is no forever without always.

There is no way to gain the riches of commitment without committing.

You can have great friendships but you need to be a great friend.

You can have deep connections but you need to connect deeply.

You can have a life together but you have to give them your life

You can be loved but you have to be loving.

So, you see, if you want forever, it costs always.

Wanting something that lasts is easy. To get it is hard.

It’s work. It hurts. It costs us.

It requires a price, committing, being faithful, connecting, loving—always.

If you want the reward, you need to count the cost. And pay it.

But it’s worth it.

I want you to have true peace

Rest isn’t just the sleep we get; it’s a state of inner being that we need.

It’s beyond memory foam pillows, Egyptian Cotton sheets, and goose feather duvets. We seek an inner stillness, a quietude in our soul.

So stop and relax your shoulders; quiet the voices clamoring in your mind. Focus on your breath. Breathe.

Remember happy moments, those sweet memories with loved ones, warm embraces, rooms filled with laughter, echoing love.

Imagine a future flowing with hope—like a river feeding a lush valley full of blossoms, foliage, and tranquility—living.

See the goodness in your life and relish the riches surrounding you: the people, privileges, freedoms, talents, possibilities that swirl around you.

Enjoy your life, this day, what you have, your loved ones, like a child playing in a calm sea of blue water on a hot summer day. You are alive. So revel in this moment.

And I pray that that moment stretches into eternity where the Spirit dances around and dwells within you.

And I hope you find, even if it’s just for a breath, this.

Peace.

Feel hated? You need to know this

Sometimes you feel cursed, diseased, abandoned, betrayed when you try to live courageously, greatly. But you are not alone.

Some people hate me, despise me, think me despicable, talk behind my back, consider me bad. And some of them even smile at me, tell me they love me, hug me, and wish me well.

But I know. It’s not real. They’re not real, like a Gucci bag hawked on Chinatown streets—fake.

People may hate you openly or in the shadows. But don’t fret. You’re not alone; you’re in good company. Even the best in the world were hated: Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jesus. People hated them so much that they killed them.

Recently, a friend, who is a leader and a good man trying to do good things, told me he was getting brutalized by certain people in the organizations he led. So he went to an eighty-year-old man who lived a courageous life for some advice. And he told my friend this: “Don’t let the asses get you down.”

So, never mind the haters. Continue doing the right thing. Move forward. Live your life.

And remember, don’t let the asses get you down.

One of the most surprising things about love

Love cannot be forced. It can only be found, discovered, like a jewel unearthed.

You may feel unlovable. You may feel unloved. But, love is there, waiting–waiting for you–longing to embrace you as much as you long to be embraced.

Wait for it.

Often, it finds us when we least expect it. When we stop looking and start getting on with our lives, it surprises us. It’s just one of the paradoxes of life. We find what we most want when we give up the search.

Surrender. Love desires to find for you.

For, you are a jewel.

An important thing I learned from being laughed at

Everyone laughed, and I was the butt of the joke. I hated it. But I realized something about life. 

A group of us sat around a large circular dining table, and a newly married couple started talking about how they met. It was a great story with surprising twists and turns. And then a guy shared about him and his girlfriend and how he wasn’t sure how it was going to work out. So I said something from my story to comfort him. It was revealing and somewhat vulnerable. But I thought it would help him, so I put myself out there. Then he turned it around and made it into a joke about me–and everyone laughed heartily.

It felt like being kids on the playground, except we were in our thirties and forties. It was silly, but real.  

It’s most introverts nightmare—to be outed, and publicly, and I’m an introvert. The embarrassment didn’t show on my face. But it was there, along with disappointment and disdain.

Afterward, as I played the moment over in my head more times than I’d like to admit, I was tempted to stop opening myself up to others. It seemed futile, useless. But truth be told, the utility had nothing to do with my reaction; I just wanted to protect myself. 

And I realized that I shouldn’t let any person stop me from giving of myself, being vulnerable, sharing my story—even the revealing parts—and living as I ought. Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly (affiliate), writes that vulnerability is fundamental to our being.

“Vulnerability is the core of all emotions and feelings. To feel is to be vulnerable. To believe vulnerability is weakness is to believe that feeling is weakness. To foreclose on our emotional life out of a fear that the costs will be too high is to walk away from the very thing that gives purpose and meaning to living.”

Brené Brown

We shouldn’t let others stop us from sharing our lives, opening our hearts, living with purpose. The cost is too high: we would lose you.

You have ideas, insights, knowledge, feelings, stories that can impact those around you for good. They are the inner workings you’ve been ruminating on over the years. Share them. Yes, someone may make you the butt of their joke; they may transport you back to middle school. But that doesn’t diminish the great value you can give to the world. Give generously.

Be vulnerable.

The truth you need to know about your pain

Pain. It marks and makes us.

The death of a loved one, the breaking of love, the broken promises, the promising future never realized, the realization that your body won’t stop aching…causes us great grief; but they often act as the compass of life, directing us to our true north.

Who would we be without it? We are marked, like babes at birth.

We yearn for it to disappear, though. How could we not? It’s pain. If we could rid ourselves of it, we would in a moment, a breath. Instead, we lie awake, swallowed in darkness—pining—dreaming of healing, sustained relief, a whole wholeness, love.

It’s there. We can feel it, sensing that relief is near, and sometimes we find it. But some pains are beyond the healing found in this world, now. That adds to our suffering; it’s the pain of pain.

But it’s that ache that grows us, molds us, deepens us, enrich us. It’s our seasoning. By it, our life’s song is more sonorous—richer. It lets us resonate and connect with others, so we can weep when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice. Our pain unites us.

Nevertheless, I believe there is a place where whole wholeness comes, washing over us like the inevitable tide washes the shore. And we will bathe in it like a hot bath in winter, relief, but not temporary—eternal.

For now, we must move forward through the pain, forsaking bitterness, jealousy, hopelessness. Forsake them. Choose to grow. Ask for help. Pray. Seek, and you shall find. And, in the process, you will be surprised.

Our pain is like the pangs of childbirth, throbbing, ornery, agonizing. But it births something, no, someone amazing.

You.


Book Recommendations:
Here are some books that I found very helpful in dealing with and thinking about pain. Now, to be upfront, these are coming from a Christian framework. Nonetheless, they are immensely beneficial.


1) Problem of Pain, by C. S. Lewis (affiliate): This is a philosophical look into the subject and answers the big questions about pain that we all have.
2) A Grief Observed, by C. S. Lewis (affiliate): After Lewis’s wife died, he wrote this book. It’s raw and beautiful.


This post is dedicated to Michelle and Matt, college friends who just lost their 19 year old son. My heart breaks.