Reminder: You are not a tree!

After moaning to myself over the weekend (in my head! You’ll be glad to learn that my long-suffering family weren’t forced to hear all about it!) about how I wasn’t writing enough, I woke up this morning realising that there was only one way to fix that – write more!

And it seems so simple but how many times do we talk (or think!) ourselves in knots?

Overanalysing, planning, following every and any random link on Facebook that promises to be the ultimate guide to getting all of the things done (or maybe that’s just me?!?) when ultimately, all any of us really needs to do is decide what the thing is (or isn’t – moving away from something is perfectly valid too!) and take steps in that direction.

And so this morning, as you step into a brand new week. take this as your gentle reminder (or kick up the pants if that’s more likely to get you moving!) that, if you’re not happy with something, now is the time to do something about it. Because you are not a tree! ?

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What if you made a contract with yourself?

I just got back from a Friday morning coffee with my fella and something we were chatting about got me thinking about you. Let me tell you the story …

So we were talking about 10 years from now when he can retire. (No, he’s not as old as all that. He’s a policeman and the job is structured such that he could leave as young as 50 if he wants to.) That totally fits with my dreams of travelling round France ten years from now and so I agreed that it was a fab idea. Between you and I, I’d love him to leave sooner, it’s not a fun job and there are days when it breaks him but, we’ll see 🙂

Anyway, as soon as the words were out of his mouth he started second guessing himself. He said that lots of his colleagues, when they got to that age, start talking themselves into staying a little longer because of what it does to the pension.

And that’s when I said the thing that also made me think of you …

“What if we do the sums now and get things set up such that, when it comes time, there is no discussion about if you should stay on a little longer because we’ll have already been planning for it and anything else would be breaking what we’d promised ourselves?”

Clever chap that he is, he agreed. (He knows better than to argue with a woman on a mission!) But of course I thought of you …

What are those things that are important to you? And what’s it going to take for those things to become a reality?

What if you promised yourself that it would be so, no excuses, no second guessing, just taking it as so and moving forward from there? What would that look like?

Too often we make all sorts of promises to other people but when it comes to our own passions, the things that get us fired up, we let them take second place to the wants and needs of others.

And there are times when this must be so. Children need to be fed. Nappies need to be changed. Homework needs to be helped with.

But who says that that stuff must be all that you’re about? And (dare I say it?) who says that you must be the one to do it all? (Gasp! Sacrilege, I know!) But seriously, you don’t have to do everything and you certainly don’t have to do everything to the detriment of yourself.

The stuff that lights you up, that thing that you can’t forget about or let go of, that stuff is vital to this world. It is your magic. Your secret sauce. The very essence of what it means for you to be you.

Choose you.

Make a promise to yourself and keep it.

Decide what’s important and declare that it will be so.

Show up, all you, all in.

And on behalf of the world, I thank you 🙂

What if it wasn’t difficult?

So this morning, before writing this little post, I wrote the latest El Post letter. I’d done my usual trick of giving myself a deadline and then pushing up next to said deadline, so close they totally need to get a room! 😉

Ironically, this edition is all about stories and how the stories we tell ourselves (either consciously but, more often sub-consciously) impact day to day life. I say ‘ironically’ because one of the stories I seem to have sub-consciously told myself is that writing anything of length is hard. I write these missives to you easily, they are fun, but longer form stuff is a whole other ballgame.

The reality is that this is totally not true!

Once I actually got started I had a blast writing that letter. I need to go back and edit it a little ahead of tomorrow’s printing and posting of course, but the piece I’d been putting off as tricky? Anything but! If I wasn’t British and totally rubbish at tooting my own trumpet, I’d even go so far as to say it’s actually really good stuff and I wish I could send it to more people because it could be really helpful.

So why all the drama around starting? Because of that stupid story of course!

What if it wasn’t difficult? What if we told ourselves it was easy?

That reminds me of the time I cut up a whole chicken. I don’t remember why I was doing it (I usually go to great lengths to avoid touching raw meat!) but I remember that the instructions I found from Delia Smith told me that it was easy. I simply followed the steps and bingo, it actually was easy! I didn’t know it at the time but I was totally living a story (even if that story came disguised as cooking instructions!) The story was it was easy, and so it was.

What things have you been putting off, holding back on or just plain refused to do because of rubbish story telling?

What if you changed the story and decided it would be easy?

Give it a try and let me know how you get on.

 

Limitations breed creativity. AKA: The real reason I love Twitter!

If you’ve ever heard yourself making the excuse that you can’t do thing x or y because of lack of time or talent (and thing x or y is actually something you’d love to do of course!) then today’s post is especially for you.

For the last seventy-something days I’ve been playing along with the 100 Day Project on Instagram. My creative thing for the duration has been a daily haiku, largely because, historically at least, I’ve been terrible at maintaining any sort of a challenge past the first week so I wanted to do something that I had at least a fair chance of sticking to!

It’s been fun and although, yes, I’ll be glad to have the freedom to say “Good Morning!” however I fancy once the 100 days are up, I realised this week that having those constraints in place has forced me to exercise my playful side a little more, as well as get creative.

Same with Twitter. I love playing with the characters, seeing how I can stretch and massage them to get as much meaning from the little space as possible.

All of which got me to thinking …

How many times do we decide to put off starting something, simply because we don’t have enough time or ability or energy? (Leaving aside that all of which are massively subjective of course!) If the things we put off aren’t all that important to our mental, spiritual or physical well-being then it’s not that big a deal of course.

But what if you’re putting off stuff that would make a day feel delightful?

What if that thing you’re relegating to “some day, one day, maybe, I wish!” is actually really vital to you?

Why would you not do that stuff??

Oh, you don’t have a full hour to dedicate to it and you’re probably not the best at it anyway plus, you didn’t sleep well last night so maybe it would be better to do it another time.

Nooooo! If you wait until the perfect time you’ll be waiting forever! It’s time to work with the constraints and do it anyway. You only have thirty one minutes? So what? You can do a lot in thirty-one minutes.

You’re not an expert at it? Whatever ‘it’ is, me either! 😉 Is it fun to you? Does doing it make you lose all sense of time? Does it light you up? Great! Sounds like the perfect reason to add more of it to your day 🙂

Constraints breed creativity. It’s time to work those boundaries to your best advantage and start doing more of what makes you smile.

Ready? Get to it! 🙂

What if it was ok to tweak and adjust as you went?

If you’re a heart surgeon this is terrible advice but for the rest of us mere mortals, there’s something to be said for having a target in mind and then allowing for adjustments along the way.

As an aside, if you are a heart surgeon, send me a tweet and tell me. If you’re also a massive Doctor Who fan, you get double points, ok? 😉

OK, so yes, I am still thinking about that challenge that we started yesterday. If you need to play catch up, click here. By the power of the Internet, I’ll be here waiting for you when you get back.

See? Told you didn’t I. Wasn’t that neat.

So anyway, yesterday was the very first day of a brand new mini-challenge that I’m calling the “one new thing” challenge and you may remember that I told you that my one new thing, for the next 21 days only (because it feels kinda silly and pointless) is to write my 3 major goals down, every morning.

What I didn’t tell you was how. Or where.

Because yesterday I wrote them on my white board in plain view of my desk, or so I thought.

Can you guess how many times I walked past that white board yesterday? Probably, I dunno, maybe fifty times.

Guess how many times I looked at and remembered and reflected on those goals I’d written down. You’ve guessed it …. zero!

So today I’m adjusting and tweaking, just slightly, and I now have a piece of paper stuck on the wall in front of me. Not very pretty or subtle, but that’s kinda the idea 😉

All of which got me to thinking …

Whether it be in relation to the “one new thing” challenge or something else in your day to day life, here’s your challenge for today – if you choose to accept it 😉

Take a look at the things in your life that are “business as usual”. What might today look like if you took one of those things and tweaked it, just slightly? How might it make you smile more? Love more? Have a little more faith?

Think about it, but then, when you’re ready, give it a try.

OK? Excellent! Get to it! 🙂

Are you ready to try one new thing?

Just one. Maybe something small and seemingly insignificant. But new.

Accordingly to clever old brain box Albert Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results.

And if we’re doing the same thing over and over and over and over again, day after day after week after month, that’s almost certainly true.

But you know what’s also true? You’ve got to give stuff time to stick.

I’m all for trying new stuff, new ways of doing things, hacking daily life to make it more fun, more loving, more productive, more profitable, but the one thing I’ve learned from trying lots and lots (and lots!) of different ways at doing life, is that some things take time.

It’s sooo ridiculously easy to try something for three or four days and then, because we’re not immediately seeing the results we expected, give up and try something new.

That’s not what today is about. If you love the feeling of trying new stuff only to give up and switch to another new thing after a small handful of days, keep moving. I have nothing for you today. You can come back tomorrow 🙂

For everyone else, I give you the “one new thing challenge”. Are you ready?

Here’s how it’s going to work …

Today, and only today, pick one small thing, one small new thing, that you’re willing to commit to, for today and the next 21 days.

Not sure what to pick? Don’t sweat it! For the purposes of this experiment, pick any one new thing that feels right for you and give that a go. The fun thing about this is that it’s only for 21 days and, probably most importantly, it doesn’t need to be something massive.

Are you ready? Get to it! 🙂

 

If something’s not working, try changing the view.

Creatures of habit that we are, it’s all too easy to slip into the same old same old each day. Days turn to weeks turn to months and before you know it, it’s Christmas, again.

And that’s fine (actually, that’s great. I love Christmas!) but if we’re wanting to build a life that we can look back on and smile about, sometimes we need to fight against the same old, same old.

This morning, after dropping the children off at school, I tried something just a little bit different. Instead of sitting at my desk to write this email, I grabbed a couple of boxes and set up my ad hoc standing desk. A really teeny tiny tweak but you know what? It feels fabulous!

I can feel my feet firmly on the floor, bare toes wiggling.

Every now and then I move a little, roll my shoulders, enjoy the sensation of a good back stretch.

And with each movement I feel a little breeze as my dress dances with me. Summer is back in my corner of the world today and, right here, right now, I feel a little more alive and connected with the planet.

All that from three boxes!

And it got me thinking … routine is great. We all need varying degrees of certainty in our day to day lives and without it, our brains would probably implode (and that would get very messy!)

But, for those times when things are feeling a little bit less than stellar, when things aren’t quite rolling along as we’d like, how might things be different if we changed the view?

One of the things I love digging into is the impact upgrading our environment can have on day to day life. And just like my teeny tiny tweak today, sometimes the smallest of changes can make a massive difference.

And so to your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it … 😉

How might you change your view today?

This might be a literal change of perspective (things look a lot different from where I’m standing!) or, for you, we might be talking metaphors and brain gymnastics.

Whatever it means for you, remember, our God is a creator God, and you were made in his image, which makes you naturally creative too. Allow that clever brain of yours to mull over today’s challenge and see what ideas rise to the surface.

And then give those ideas a try, if only for one day. Try stuff out and see what fits 🙂

And when you’re done, let me know how you got on. I’d love to hear about it 🙂

Until then, keep smiling 🙂

What if people didn’t notice as much as you feared they might?

The eagle eyed amongst us might have noticed that yesterday’s blog post was the first one for ages. No announcement that I was writing again. No explanation. It just showed up.

And yes, one or two people noticed. Thank you for that, very sweet 🙂

And then there was everyone else. Everyone else for whom it was business as usual. No fuss and nonsense. Just life moving forward.

And it got me thinking … you know how sometimes we make decisions which, for us in that moment, feel like a pretty big deal? And we wonder how to make it known that things are going to change or that we’re setting new intentions.

And sometimes the fear about how to get started can hold us back from actually starting.

Because what if we change our minds?

Or what if we mess it up?

Or what if it’s amazing?

What if we just started? What if we just showed up, acted like it’s business as usual, no fuss and nonsense, just life moving forward?

One day at a time. One small step built on another. What might that look like?

Because you know what? Most people are far too preoccupied with their own stuff to notice what’s going on with you even half as much as you think they do.

And sure, sometimes our very first step might not be as neat or well put together as we might like (between you and I, I lost the original audio file for the podcast version of the daily dose and the temporary version I’ve pulled together is rubbish in comparison!) but done beats perfect every time.

And so your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it 😉

Whatever that thing is that you’ve been holding off doing for fear of what other people might think, just do it. No declarations or statement of intent needed. Pick a first step forward and go for it.

Are you ready?

Get to it!
Until the next time, keep smiling 🙂

Read this if you don’t know what to do next

Sometimes it’s really easy to know where we’re headed. We do the sensible thing and create a plan, mark a route with guide posts along the way. Sure, sometimes creating the plan is a whole lot more fun than having to do the hard work of implementing it, but at least we know what to do.

And then there is everything else.

The times when we know where we want to get to, the end result, but we don’t know how.

Or the times when we don’t even really know what the end looks like, but we’re fairly sure we’ll know it when we see it.

Or even the times when we know we want to get somewhere excellent, but we haven’t yet figured out what ‘excellent’ actually looks like for us and the people we love yet.

Frustrating, is it?!?

And yes, that was putting it lightly. Sometimes it’s a right old pain in the arse with a side-serving of other stuff we’re far too polite to say out loud.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do next?

On my way back from the World Domination Summit, whilst waiting to board my last plane before home, I found myself sat next to a man who I didn’t know. Not that surprising, I was at an airport in Amsterdam! Me being me, the man and I got chatting and it turns out that he was from a place not all that far from where I live, although maybe that wasn’t as much of a surprising coincidence as it would have been, had I bumped into him on my flight to Portland but still, it was a nice coincidence to hear a familiar accent.

He asked me about what I do for work and, me being me, I fudged around a bit, mentioned the project management stuff and then got to telling him about Heaven And El.

“I’m on a mission to reclaim Christianity”, I told him.

“How are you going to do that?”, he asked.

He didn’t ask it in an antagonistic kind of a way. He sounded genuinely interested and it was a very good question. A very good question that I didn’t have a very good answer to yet. I still don’t really.

And that’s where I’ve been sat, since July 15th, until today.

The summer holidays arrived and the children finished school for the six week break.

Never mind, I thought. I’ll have plenty of time to figure it out when they get back to school.

September 1st. School starts tomorrow. Do you think I’ve figured it out yet?

You guessed it, nope, I’m still stuck, not knowing what to do next.

So, what do you do when you don’t know what to do next?

I don’t know about you, but I did what any self-respecting writer does when she’s stuck, I wrote about it. I doubt it’ll be winning me awards any time soon, but it did serve one purpose … it got me taking a step forward.

Oh, alright then, a shuffling half-step forward, but the net result was the same (forward motion) so I’m taking that.

I figured that while I don’t know all the answers and I haven’t yet got a clear grasp on the “how are you going to do that?” piece, I could choose one tiny little shuffling half-step action and do that, safe in the knowledge that lots of little half-steps have the uncanny knack of working together to add up to one giant leap, if given enough time and provided the one taking the half-steps doesn’t quit too soon.

And so that’s your challenge for today, if you choose to accept it 😉

If you think you’re stuck and don’t know what to do, ask yourself and God what that one tiny little half-step action is. Listen for the whisper (or even the loud clanging of a whole new idea that you have no idea from whence it came!) and do that.

Are you ready?

Get to it! 🙂

Is there a connection between our capacity to love & the speed at which we’re travelling?

I’m on a bit of a space and productivity quest.

Space for fun and laughter and, well, sometimes just space to breathe, because life feels very busy right now and I’m not sure I’m convinced about how very wonderful that is.

And productivity because, if less really is more, I’d love to find that balance, the sweet spot.

After two days thinking about love (well, a whole weekend of it really but only the last two days showed up here in the daily dose) and realising yesterday that there is a real, solid correlation between our capacity to love and the speed at which we’re travelling, finding that sweet spot feels more important than ever.

I’m done with being the grumpy, stressy one.

I’m done with multi-tasking so I can squeeze more busy into the day.

I’m done with getting by.

I’m ready to really step up and enjoy each new day.

I’m ready to show my children, by example, what it looks like to smile at the sun rise and really thrive.

And if that sounds just a little more poetic than usual, you can totally blame a new writing app I’m playing with. I’m listening to gentle music as I write and it’s setting a beautiful scene 🙂

What might your today look like if you really believed it were possible to thrive, every day?

What would you differently?

What would you allow yourself to make time for?

Today, I dare you to do all that stuff anyway, even if you don’t believe how thriving is actually possible yet.

As Christians we talk a lot about how to follow Christ means to take up your cross. To accept struggles and persecution. To be people who know what it is to hurt.

But Jesus also talked about his yoke being light. He promised rest and refreshment. He told us not to worry.

What might life look like if we took him at his word? Embraced those promises and really stepped into them and owned them?

You won’t know unless you try so go on, I dare you 😉