Second Chance in 2014

Tonight’s the big night. The next few weeks will be full of New Year’s resolutions and hope. A fresh start for us all. It always seems to come and go much faster than I anticipate. This past year hasn’t been bad, but as always, I’m looking forward to the unknown year that lies ahead.

For me, there stands a promise of things improving, because they seem to improve as I get older. I feel like I am finally learning to balance. I am a very different person than I was just a few short years ago. I think some of my bad traits have lessened, and hopefully the good have magnified. I still have the same struggles as always, but I’m beginning to understand. I see now that the demons are always bigger inside your head and much smaller in hindsight. I guess I’m a *little* more dramatic than I’ve always thought I am.

One thing I love about this time of year is that after the holiday feast, you come to New Year’s Day ready to start anew. It’s our second chance to be better. Since it’s marked on the calendar, it is there for us every year. New Year’s Day reminds us that we can still pick ourselves up off the dusty ground and try again.

I don’t think that success is as important as the fact that you tried. And if your efforts were not as good as you can make them, you get to try again next year. Even if it takes you five years to finally stick to the gym, at least you tried. And after all that time, you can still succeed. It’s better to set some plausible goals rather than sitting on the couch and refusing to use this time of year to hope. Because if you keep trying, really putting the effort in, I believe someday you’ll succeed. Sometimes improvement comes in small steps. Sometimes the goal is too big to start with, but if you allow yourself small improvements, you’re on your way.

 

Happy New Year to all! I hope 2014 brings you joy, peace, and lots of hope.

Little White Lies

Integrity, as defined by dictionary.com is “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.” There are other definitions as well, but this is the one I’m thinking about today.

Most people consider themselves people of integrity. But it’s easy to be blind to our mistakes. It is the little things that add up and consist of our character. If you are a person who likes to tell white lies (for someone else’s good, of course), you lack integrity. It sounds harsh, but I believe we have to be extra careful of the little stuff like this.

When I think of integrity, I think of someone who is honest in doing business with you. And that means someone who you trust with your money and perhaps even your future. I doubt you would condemn your banker for a white lie, but what if it really should be that serious?

I have an acquaintance that lacks this kind of integrity. She is not a bad person, and I like her, but I feel that she is untrustworthy. When she wants something to go her way, she immediately resorts to lies. I have heard her say “I’ll just lie to them and say…” so many times. She outright lies and she has no remorse for it. Apparently she has done it so many times that it no longer seems like it is wrong at all.

I’m not trying to dog on her. That is why she shall remain nameless. But this is exactly the lack of integrity that really bothers me. If I constantly lie about the little ‘insignificant’ stuff, don’t you think that will spill over into the big stuff that truly matters? Not to preach, but look at Luke 16:10 “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.”

I’m not blameless myself. I don’t post this to condemn everyone else except myself. I try to hold myself to that standard, but it is so easy to fall into a white lie and then believe that it didn’t hurt anything. White lies are the pebbles that can crumble a mountain if we are not careful.

 Just a little food for thought. It’s never too late to turn around and face the world with bold honesty.

Purgatory

Life is funny. You feel like you’re going towards something: old age, a successful career, creating a family, getting that expensive house in the fancy part of town, etc. I like having something to be working towards. Hopefully that something is not becoming an old fogey….But lately, I feel like I’m in purgatory. I’m just sitting here, waiting for something to happen.

Usually, I am an active, ambitious person. But somehow, since college, I feel like I’ve tamed. This side has surrendered to the difficulties of life. It’s accepted that nothing is going to change. But just as there are two sides to the coin, I have a yin to my yang. 

The other part of me wants to be released so it can scream and destroy something. It’s been caged too long. It’s restless and ready to roar. One of these days I’m just going to lose it and run down the street in my underwear screaming obscenities. There’s only so long you can wear such tight pants. 

This untamed beast knows that change is possible–and it likes change. It wants to mix things up. To have adventures. The tamed side is sighing right now from fond memories of such adventures. Even my tame side likes adventures. But just when I begin to give up on moving forward, that beast manages to whisper.  Yes, whisper. It tells me that change is inevitable. That life is going to get better. That purgatory will end.

I believe that you are more in control of your destiny than you realize. Choices create change. You have to do something for things to get better. Life is not passive. If you live your life like a person on a train just watching the world blur past, you will reach your final destination with disappointment in the life you lived and the person you became. I believe this, yet I find myself sitting half-asleep waiting for my life to change.

I know it’s best to be active, but I’m not quite sure what I should be doing. I think that is the curse of my generation. We want change. We want things to get better, but we don’t know what we should be doing. We have the hope in our future and more optimism than society thinks we should have. But what are we doing? Why are we just standing here?

Maybe I am not alone in this. Maybe we are all just trying to figure it out. What needs to be done to improve? How do we improve ourselves so we can improve the world around us? How can we bring change to world that needs it?

I don’t have the answers. I’m still struggling to find my way. It would be nice to get out of this dead end and start moving toward something.

As Sam Cooke sings, “It’s been a long, a long time coming but I know change gonna come.” I hope he’s right. I’m ready to crawl out of this box already. And I seriously doubt I’m the only one.

Blasphemy on the King of Pop

After Michael Jackson died, I felt like his life was a sad story. I felt like he had sacrificed his personal life and his health for worldly success. He traded the things that matter most for the things that don’t last: fame and fortune. It was tragic that he was seen as such a success, but it was at the cost of losing himself.

After watching him rehearse in the movie, This Is It, I see things a little differently. His gift, no doubt, was music. And though he lost many things along the way to pursuing his dream of making music, he can be commended on his dedication. He dedicated himself entirely to perfecting his craft. He took the gift God gave him and did the best he could with it. He aimed for perfection.

In a sense, I think that we all have a similar calling. We all have our individual God-given gifts. And I think it is part of our purpose that we should develop this gift and use it to help others. That’s where our meaning is.

We should do the best we can with the gifts we’re given. If you love crunching numbers, do people’s taxes and do it well. Use your gift. Perfect it. Devote yourself to it. God must have a reason for giving it to you. So do Him proud by using it to bless the people around you. I believe only good things can come from this. And maybe, just maybe, that’s why some of us feel so lost. We’re ignoring our gifts, letting them gather dust in the corner while the world needs them so desperately. We are all a piece of this big puzzle and it can’t be complete with even one piece missing.

I say these things like I’m so good at it, but don’t be fooled. I’ve been known to deprive myself of the things that I enjoy most. And I’m not even sure why I do it. But I need to stop. I need to open up to the world. I need to pick myself up off the floor and go back to enjoying myself. It’s time to share my gifts with the world.

Yesterday, I finished some major editing on my novel, Deliverer: Secret of Lake Burnish. It’s the first book of the trilogy. I finally feel like it’s ready for a reader, and I’ll be researching literary agents very soon.

I’ve been putting great effort into slowing myself down with my editing. I don’t want to throw the book out into the world before it is ready. This is no easy task for any writer. But I’ve rehearsed and edited and cried and celebrated enough with this book. My next step is looking for outside help, even if that means I have to go back to the editing board.

I am ready.