“Sometimes my tries are outside the lines
We’ve been conditioned to not make mistakes
But I can’t live that way.
Nine years ago, during the height of my highly distracted, maxed out life, my family took a trip to the mountains. I chose to be a detached observer, rather a present and joyful participant, so I missed it all. I even convinced my husband we should cut our trip short. We left that cozy cabin in the mountains so I could go back and pour myself into “important” things I can’t even remember now.
I lived with regret over that choice and the way I behaved for quite a while. Then one day, I realized punishing myself for it was not helpful or healing. Although I knew I’d never get that time on the mountain back, I could do my best to live as wished I had – as a joyful and present participant rather than a detached observer.
I call it Living Inside the Circle, and it is not the easiest place to reside.
You face painful truths there.
You shut down your inner bully there.
You accept your loved ones’ weaknesses and imperfections; you accept your own.
You create boundaries to protect your time, energy, and attention.
You surrender control.
You let go of perfect.
You show up in all your glory, even when you feel less than.
Living inside the circle as a present and joyful participant takes courage … effort … struggle … and vulnerability. But inside the circle is where you grow – with love – and get to experience miraculous moments that are not within reach from outside the circle.
As you can imagine, pulling up to a cabin in the mountains last weekend with my family was quite surreal. While my family excitedly peered over the back deck into the vast mountain air, my eyes filled with tears. Nine years after that fateful trip, I was getting the unexpected redo. I would not squander this opportunity. I chose to be all there, and it felt like one of those magical moments you don’t want to end – not because it was perfect by any means – but because we laughed until we cried, we worked as a team, and we shunned the world’s pace and pressure so we could catch our breath.
There was one particular moment of the three-day trip that I’ll never forget. It happened when I lost my balance and fell from the raft during our white-water rafting adventure. As I began to panic and flounder in the shockingly cold water, a voice of calm came over the edge of the raft. It was my daughter Natalie’s voice. With calm assurance she firmly repeated, “You’re okay, Mom. I’m with you. I won’t let you go.”
It was her words and her tone that enabled me to think rationally and listen clearly so I could be rescued.
My daughter never looked to the raft guide or to her father before she spoke to me. She took matters into her own hands and kept me with her so I didn’t drift too far away.
My daughter knew how to be fully present in the moment that mattered.
She knew how to show up when it would have been easier to become detached.
She knew how to live in the circle – a place where missteps can be redeemed with presence, effort, compassion, and love.
I’d like to believe she might have learned a little of that from me.
And if so, it would have been tragic if I’d let regret convince me to keep punishing myself for past mistakes,
if I’d let failure convince me I wasn’t capable of becoming a present and joyful participant,
if I’d let perfection convince me it was a necessary requirement of a beautiful life.
Thank goodness, it’s not.
In fact, it’s the growth from the falling and the rising that put us in place to grasp life’s miracle moments – the ones we can’t reach as an observer from outside the circle.
Dear ones, if today finds you stalled by a past mistake or stuck in a current failing, please listen:
Don’t’ let pain convince you you’re not strong enough to take it.
Don’t let perfection say you can’t be redeemed.
Don’t let regret steal your joy.
Don’t let distraction pull you away from what matters.
Look pain, fear, discomfort, and shame right in the eye and step into the circle JUST AS YOU ARE.
You might be surprised to find a familiar hand there, inviting you to accept a redo you never thought possible.
With open hands, open eyes, and an open heart, I hope you take it.
Dear ones, the principles I touched on today (facing painful truths, silencing your inner bully, accepting weaknesses and imperfections, creating boundaries, surrendering control, and showing up in all your glory) are the topics of the first ever online course I will be offering in coming months. It has been a long-time dream of mine to use my skills as an educator and encourager to help people in an engaging and personal way that my books cannot. More information coming soon on this exciting opportunity. In the meantime, please check my speaking schedule below. A registration link has been added for the FREE event in Ohio, as well as a new date added for California:
- MOBILE, AL – Friday, September 22, 2017. Register here: Focus Women’s Conference.
- Cincinnati, OH – Saturday, October 14, 2017 at 9am. Tom York Speaker Series located at Knox Presbyterian Church Auditorium. Register here for this FREE event. Childcare available. Seating is limited.
- INDIANA, PA – Thursday, October 19, 2017. Spirit of Women Ladies Night Out sponsored by Indiana Regional Medical. Register here.
- Ann Arbor, MI – Saturday, November 18, 2017. Rise & Shine Brunch fundraiser for Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan. Register here.
- Layfette, CA – January 21& 22, 2018. More details to come.
- Homewood, AL – Friday, February 2, 2018 6:30pm. Trinity United Methodist Women Missions Fundraiser. More details to come.