A truth that will help you reach your dreams

You are greater than you know. You are more than you believe.

No matter what credentials, diplomas, status, or net worth you have (or don’t have), you possess the power to change your surroundings, your habits, your career, your life. You are more powerful than you know. What you say, think, and do impacts those around you. You create ripples in the pool of life. You have power. Use it. Bless others. Do good.

You are more beautiful than you feel. Although you long for beauty, to be it, to have it, to hold it, to be united with it, you are glorious just as you are. Yes. Don’t believe the lies of the media, our culture, glossy magazine covers, or social media posts. They are fantasy, untrue. There is a beauty that lays hidden from plain sight; it’s more profound, more vibrant, more authentic than what we see. It can be cultivated and grown in anyone, in you. The real beauty is the person you are, your kindness, gentleness, integrity, justice, love. By those, anyone can beam with blazing splendor.

You are more capable than you think. Don’t let the voices inside you, around you, the mistakes from the past, the fears of the future, sway you from seeing what you can do. You can learn new skills, start a venture, pursue a dream. It’s not beyond you. Every day is an opportunity to try. It’s before you always, beckoning. The only person holding you back is you. Go.

You are more competent than you think. Maybe you’ve failed here and there. But don’t count them as signs of incompetence. See them as opportunities to learn. You aren’t a failure; you’re experienced, seasoned. You’ve been around the block and got mugged and lived to tell the tale. You’re a survivor. Now it’s your chance to thrive. And you have enough smarts and skills to do more than you can imagine. Take your experience, interests, and effort and create something. It’s in you. You can. Try.

Cast off the negativity, naysayers, self-criticism, hate. There’s too much of that already.

See your capacity to achieve, change, grow.

You are more than you think.

Believe.

I want you to be blessed

Peace. Let it wash over you, soothing you like an embrace of a loved one, as you ease yourself into this vision.

You are in a beautiful garden, surrounded by blooming flowers, red, orange, violet, indigo, yellow. The green is greener than you’ve ever seen it, covering rolling hills, treetops, bushes. It’s vibrant and rich. The sky is deep blue, and the sun is bright. A warm breeze caresses your skin like a lover. You release.

A stroll among the foliage along a stone path looks delightful, so your feet whisk you there. Then you slow your pace to drink the moment in. It’s intoxicating. Your fingers are outstretched, brushing the blooms around you, and you hear birds chirping songs of joy. The path softly curves this way and that, drenched in colors, leaves, shafts of light, and beauty.

You see a grassy knoll, and you decide to lie down and bathe in the sun’s luminous embrace. You can’t help but smile because it’s too wonderful, too glorious, too good. You’re soaking in all of it, absorbed in glory, basking in the bounty.

And memories begin to visit you like old friends you’ve missed and longed to see, and there you are reunited. You’re a child playing gleefully, freely, unencumbered, without a care. You remember the happiest moment of your life and relive it and relish in it.

Then, you journey into the present, and you see objects, people, and opportunities for which you are grateful, and it reminds you of how richly adorned you. And you can see clearly.

You are blessed.

One of the most important people we forget to be kind to

Be kind to yourself today. 

You might have screwed up, but you’re not a screwup. 

You might have made a mistake, but you aren’t a mistake. 

You are worthy. You are lovable. You are beautiful. 

Punishing yourself will not right the wrong. That would only add to it. 

Forgive yourself. Let it go. Move forward. 

Love yourself.


The pic below made my day when I saw it. So I thought it might brighten up yours and help you get on the path of self-compassion.


If you want to read a book to help you with this, I recommend Daring Greatly by Brené Brown (affiliate link).

It’s a fantastic read, what helped me see my need for self-compassion.

You don’t need to be angry

A gas station attendant made me pay a dollar for hot water (which I thought was absurd) and treated me rudely. And I learned something.

It was compassion.

It was a magical day. My family and I went apple picking. We drove down two-lane highways surrounded by wood and canopied by leafy branches that were starting to show signs of fall. The air was crisp, and the sun was beginning to break free from the clouds. The orchard was small, but the apples were sweet. We picked some Fuji and Gold Delicious. We felt rich. 

And after lunch, a pony ride, and feeding some farm animals with our kid; we decided to return to the city. We shared our favorite memories of the day before we got back to our building. 

The rental car needed to be returned, but, before that, I had to refill the tank. And there’s a station fairly close, so I went there. I got to the pump and pumped. And, as I jumped in the seat to leave, I saw my empty paper cup with my teabag that I usually use twice before I throw it away, but only used once. I went into the gas station to fill my cup up and get the most out of my teabag. I had my phone in the car and didn’t want to linger in the store. So, I ran in and filled up the cup and ran out. 

And as I was leaving, I hear, “Excuse me!” I check the car for my phone and then pop back in. 

“Yes,” I say, as the hulking attendant glares at my cup of freshly steeping tea. “It’s my cup and tea, and I just got hot water for it.”

“Would you just barge into someone’s living room and take hot water?” the attendant asked. 

I didn’t think it had anything to do with living rooms or hot water. He thought I stole from his shop and realized I just got hot water. So he wanted to save face. He did that by telling me to pay him for the hot water. It was outrageous, but I asked him how much to see what outrageous costs. He told me one dollar; I tossed it onto the counter, wished him a nice day, jumped into the car, and zipped away to return my rental. 

As I drove uptown, I was seething as I replayed the situation in my mind. I was drenched in anger and incensed with injustice. All of the bliss from the day was melting away. “It’s not the dollar; it’s the principle of the thing,” I told myself, feeding the fire. 

Then I realized something that changed my whole perspective. It was this. 

Pain is contagious. People who are in pain tend to inflict it on others. When one is in misery, they often make others miserable. I mean, anyone who likens a gas station to their living room can’t be enjoying their life that much. 

That perspective extinguished the fire of anger I had for him. He made me feel momentary pain, but he seems to dwell in it. I had compassion for him, and that stopped my pain from him and allowed me to be pained for him. 

And if we all took a moment to stop and reflect on what the person who hurt us may be experiencing, we might, just might, make this world a little better. 

If nothing else, you will be. 

You need to know that you really are enough

No matter how many likes, hearts, or comments you get, you are enough. Yes. You are. 

We’ve always lived in a world where we’ve compared ourselves with others; the problem is now we have ample data to measure our comparisons. 

If we get less engagement than we want on a post, we feel like we are less, somehow subhuman. 

But you aren’t; you are enough. 

You are a son, a daughter, a friend, a colleague, a human. 

You love and are loved. You create, contribute, make. But you don’t just do; you are. 

You are a person, not just a profile. 

You are a living being. 

Remember that. 

Remember that engagement doesn’t make you enough. 

Being who you are does.

Sometimes rest is the best thing for your work

We want to succeed, improve our work, write better. So we grind away, working more, harder, believing that’s what we should do. 

But that’s wrong. 

Yes, we need to work hard. And yes, that often equates to long hours, dogged days, grinding away. 

Yet, there are times when no matter how many hours you put in, hard work just doesn’t work. In fact, working harder works against you. 

When the ideas stop flowing, solutions don’t arise, or words stop prancing from your fingers, that’s a good indicator that you need to do something different, drastically different. 

That’s when the best thing you can do is this. Stop. Walk away. Rest. Roll your chair back and take a walk around the block, maybe even go for a hike. 

Sometimes even that’s not enough. You need to unplug. Get out of your phone, out of the state, out of the country, for days, weeks. You need to get lost. 

You need rest. 

Resting can be the best thing for your work. It’s where you can recharge your energy cells, your brain, your heart, your soul. 

When you’re lost, read a book, a novel, something entertaining, something that makes you laugh. Paint a landscape painting, journal in your Moleskin, drink good wine. Do anything else but work. 

And you will feel yourself being restored; the space to recuperate will leave you refreshed. You will be renewed. You’ll feel the energy to work return.

When you get back to your desk, you will find that the ideas will flow afresh, solutions will come anew, and words will dance from your fingers again. 

As a result, your work will be better. 

Great work comes with good rest. 

One of the most powerful things you can do for yourself: Forgive

We all make mistakes, and we forgive others. But often forgiving ourselves is harder. 

But we must. 

Do you know what I’m talking about? It’s that thing you did or continue doing that you can’t release and forgive yourself. Instead, you punish. 

I know all about that. 

Defiance marked my teenage face, as I screamed at her. She stopped speaking. And I started calling my mom unspeakable names, unleashing words like armed missiles. She would flee, and I would seethe. It was ugly; I was ugly. 

In college, I started to follow Jesus and accepted his forgiveness. But I would always say that there was one thing I could not forgive, and that was the way I treated my mom. 

So I held on to my guilt and shame. Unknowingly, I beat myself up, launching armed missiles at myself, perpetuating an old wound. It was ugly; I was ugly. 

Then one day, some guy I knew talked to me. And somehow we got on this subject, and he said something that I would never forget, “If God can forgive you for everything, why can’t you forgive yourself? Are you better than God?” 

I was stunned. 

The truth of his statement and the utter blindness of my behavior and mindset were stunning to me. The understanding washed over me like a wave washes over you on the seashore. 

My burden melted away from me; I was free. 

What I didn’t expect was how much better I was going to feel. The quickness and sharpness of my anger lost its snap and edge. My missiles were disarmed. I felt calmer and was kinder to others, to myself. 

It was work, though. It wasn’t just a one and done kind of thing. I had to continually forgive myself, reminding myself of what my friend told me, remembering that it was foolish to beat myself up over my past failings. 

And slowly over the years, I wasn’t just continually forgiving myself; I forgave myself. 

Forgive yourself. Holding onto your failings, shame, sin doesn’t do anyone good. It certainly does you no good. 

It’s counterintuitive to think that if I forgive myself that I will become a better person. It’s tempting to believe that if I just keep on lashing myself with the past, I’ll get better; but it doesn’t work that way. We don’t get better. We get worse. 

Shame begets shame; unkindness begets unkindness. It’s a cycle–vicious and bloody. 

It takes a radical act to break it.

Forgiveness is the only door through which true healing comes. And that’s exactly what we need to mend our wounds and cease to perpetuate them. We need balm and bandage. We need to forgive ourselves. 

And you will find that you will no longer see yourself as that person who did that terrible thing. You will see yourself as a person who can change. You will no longer be trapped in the cage of the past. You will be released to live anew. 

You will be free. 

Do you know how valuable you really are?

You are more valuable than you think you are, believe you are. 

Even with all of your mistakes, guilt, shame, sin, flaws, and failures, you are worth more than all of the gold in the world. 

The people who told you you are worthless lied to you. They spoke out of their shame and lack of understanding of their value. 

They are wrong about you. 

No matter how many have rejected you, you are worthy: worthy of love, worthy of belonging, worthy of dignity, worthy of being, worthy of forgiveness, deserving of infinite value. 

You are kings and queens, adorned with honor, grace, and light. 

And no amount of makeup, muscle mass, injections, bronzed skin, jewelry, or the like can add to it. The numbers on the scale, in your account, on your blog do not make you better or worse, nor will your accomplishments, what you’ve done, are doing, will do.

You are valuable as you are now, as you were born.

Your value is inherently infinitely valuable. Even with nothing, you are priceless.

I am not lying to you; it is true. This is what I remind myself. 

When I look into your face, I see the face of God. 

You can conquer the fear of embarrassment

The fear of embarrassment is powerful, but it doesn’t have to overpower us.

But sometimes it does.

I know all about that.

An episode of a TV show kept me from blogging. Let me explain.

Billions, a show on Showtime, has a scene where two characters were talking about another person who got fired from their hedge fund, and one of them wanted to know where he ended up. And the other said that he thought the guy who got fired started blogging, and then they looked at each other with this smirk that said something like this—loser.

Blogging was an idea I had toyed with for months. I wanted to try it. But I was unsure of myself. Then I saw that episode. And visions of others smirking about me made me cringe. I didn’t want to be a loser. I got scared.

And I didn’t blog.

Others’ opinions about us affect us all. Parents, friends, coworkers, strangers—for me, even fictitious TV characters—can, and do, stop us from pursuing good things.

All too often, we care too much about what too many people think about us.

Dreams, goals, and hopes are squashed even before they begin because of that dynamic. A threat of a smirk halts us.

And what’s interesting (and sad) is that often it’s not the actual embarrassment that stops us. It’s our fear of it.

We don’t want the possibility of others thinking that we are a loser. But living that way robs us of reaching our potential, trying new things, becoming better.

And that fear, it’s often the fear of feeling embarrassed. It’s the fear of fear.

But we don’t need to live that way. We shouldn’t.

And this truth can set us free.

Most of what we believe other people think about us doesn’t exist. It’s not real. Most of the time, we don’t know what others think about us. It’s just our imagination, and we usually imagine something snippy or snide. It’s never anything positive, or cheery.

But really, most of the people whom we are afraid are thinking those negative thoughts aren’t thinking about us at all. They are too busy worrying about what other people are thinking about them. Their thinking about their problems, stresses—not you.

The issue isn’t them. It’s us. We tell ourselves a story of what we think they are saying about us. But it’s just our inner critic; it’s self-hate. We are calling ourselves a loser: They’re not smirking. We are.

Being aware of that is power.

Anytime we start worrying about the opinions of others, we can pause and assess the thought.
Then, we can call it what it is—a lie. It’s a false story. And we can move on. We can pursue our dreams, start that company, make a career change, be ourselves, blog.

For me, this isn’t just a battle; it’s a war. It’s fought daily. Assessing that inner critic and calling out the lies needs to happen far more than I’d like to admit. But that’s just what it is. So I fight. Many of you may need to, as well.

If so, fight on friends. It’s a practice. It’s life. And we need to get on living freely, unchained by the smirks, fear of fear, and opinions of others, free of self-hate.

Sure, there are haters out there, but that’s for another post.

For now, let’s overcome the hater within.

Suffering is one of the best ways to find meaning

Suffering defines us, but we get to choose its definition. 

That’s what Victor Frankl, a holocaust survivor, psychiatrist, and author of Man’s Search for Meaning (affiliate link) wanted us to know. 

He told his story of suffering and survival, from a personal perspective but also as a psychiatrist. It was sad, but, more than that, it was profound.

What we suffer isn’t something we like to post on social media. Instead, we hide, ignore, and are ashamed of it. Suffering can be a subject that brings shame, embarrassment, negativity. 

But, for Frankl, it’s an opportunity. Frankl writes that when we suffer, we have one of life’s greatest opportunities to find meaning by how we respond to it. 

Suffering affords us a choice. You aren’t just a victim when you are put under pain. You may not be able to control the pain you are experiencing, but you can control how you will respond to it. You may believe that you can’t help but be bitter, angry, depressed, sad, etc. when the worst of times come. But that’s not true. You get to decide your response. You aren’t just a victim; you are an agent. Your suffering can’t rob you of that. 

Harold Kushner, a rabbi who wrote the Forward in the book, summed up Frankl’s idea of this choice: “Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you will feel and do about what happens to you,” (p32).

This Thursday morning was exciting: We were taking our firstborn to his first day in Kindergarten. The air was crisp and cool and beautiful. We walked and chatted as we wound our way through the narrow streets lined with brick townhouses, trees, and cobblestones. 

Approaching a major intersection, we saw our crosswalk lady, Dulce. She wore her little hat, blue uniform with her fluorescent vest as she said hello to all of the kids by name. It was the first time we had seen her since summer vacation started. 

So we stopped and asked her how her summer was. She told us heart-wrenching news. 

Her son died. 

He was 36 years old, and an “accident” took him in June. She found out when she was sitting in a Starbucks waiting for her next shift. Then she got the call. After she answered, her life changed unalterably. 

“God is with me, ju know. If I no have him, I would you know…not be ok,” she told my wife and me. “God makes me strong, more strong, ju know.” 

I do know. 

When I was eight, cancer took my father. And it wasn’t the funeral that was the hardest. It was every Father’s Day that proceeded when my friends would have a great day with their dad’s, and I watched TV. 

But, over the years of struggle and loneliness, something was happening inside of me. Bitterness did not hold me. That would have killed me.

Instead, by God’s grace, my life transformed. As I grew, my pain forged in me the sense that life is not only fragile; it is also precious: It can be snatched away from us in a breath. And I chose (and continue to choose) to be grateful for every day I get to be alive. I, too, with Dulce, was getting “more strong.”

Frankl chose to transcend the concentration camps. He accomplished that by envisioning himself seeing his wife again after the war was over, caressing her face, holding her hand, laughing with her. It helped him bear the once a day “meal” of watery broth, constant hunger and cold, wearing rags and shoes with holes in the winter, endless work, the dehumanization by the SS, and living under the threat of death and beatings every moment of every day. Frankl also decided to use his knowledge and skills as a physician to serve his fellow humans; he tried to help as many as he could survive with him. He also envisioned himself lecturing about his learnings from Auschwitz, passing on his insights into humanity to the next generations. His meaning was to love his wife, help his fellow humans, and to teach. Through his suffering, he learned his meaning.

“He who has a Why to live can bear almost any How,” Frankl repeats this Nietzsche quote throughout his book. We will all suffer, but not all of us have a Why to live through suffering. Frankl believes that it’s critical to find meaning so that you can endure. When Frankl observed his friends who suffered with him in the camps, he noticed that those who stopped seeing meaning tended to die quickly. They just stopped trying. Meaning can mean the difference between life and death. 

Suffering isn’t just a choice; it’s a chance to change and become a better person. Frankl states, “Even the helpless victim of a hopeless situation, facing a fate he cannot change, may rise above himself, may grow beyond himself, and by so doing change himself. He may turn a personal tragedy into a triumph” (p146). 

Don’t we all want to grow beyond and transcend ourselves? Don’t we want to progress, become better as people, partners, parents, friends, at work, in our communities, at home? Frankl believes that suffering is one of the most significant ways to do that. 

You don’t need to have gone through the Holocaust, lost a child or parent to suffer. 

It happens to us every day, in every experience of shame, inadequacy, failure. You suffer when you lose your job or feel like you aren’t good enough to keep it, or when you are in a marriage that makes you feel like crap or experience isolation.   

No matter what we believe, we all have an opportunity in suffering. Frankl’s account and thoughts are rich, deep, and profound. 

I hope you read his book. 

I hope you suffer well. 

And may you find meaning in your life, and suffering.  

Most of all, I hope you triumph.