Later this month we will celebrate Thanksgiving. This is the perfect opportunity for me to express my appreciation to all of you who have joined me on this journey over the past eighteen months. When I started in June of 2016, I committed myself to post a blog each week through Labor Day of that year. I was thrilled when I made it! To continue for over a year in addition to that has been quite gratifying.
The time has come to close the chapter on this portion of my life. It is bittersweet for me because I have enjoyed the results of this discipline. I have become a better writer. I have explored how to communicate more effectively. I have delighted in publishing every week.
I feel there are other responsibilities that are more appropriate for me to focus on right now. Continuing to blog takes a significant commitment, and it is not the best use of my resources during this season of life. A looming hard-publishing deadline every week is not something I will miss!
When I started blogging, I always thought it would be “forever”. I am not accustomed to starting and stopping something. Observing several online entrepreneurs over the past few years I see that introducing and ending projects is common. It is a new experience for me, but it is the right decision for now.
In conclusion, thank you to all of you who have joined me on this adventure. I am grateful for the comments and encouragement. I hope that some of the words I have shared have provided inspiration and motivation for you in your life. God bless you all!
Now that we have moved into November we are rapidly approaching the holiday season. With it will come gatherings of family and friends. Many people will travel both near and far. Shopping will increase traffic on the road and lines inside stores. All of these situations increase the risk that we will experience some level of frustration associated with this season. It will tempt us to lose our cool and get stressed out.
The holidays would seem to be a time for enjoyment and reflection, but too often they become a source of conflict and stress. Dealing with the crush of people and responsibilities during the end of the year can leave us dealing with blame, annoyance, and discord.
One of the most daring acts presented at a circus is trapeze artists performing without the aid of a safety net. In actuality, this is probably a fictionalized account of days gone by since that kind of thing would not be allowed in today’s regulatory environment. Why? For the safety of the performers, of course!
Rarely in life do we have a physical safety net when we set out to do something we have never done before. Perhaps we could take a lesson from this scenario and attempt to put some things in place to act as a safety net when we attempt something new.
Today is a day I have been aiming at for almost six months. I am attempting to conquer an obstacle standing in my path – a professional actuarial exam. The preparation can be grueling, and I am ready to be done with this exam. I look forward to freeing up time to spend with my family and take care of some other responsibilities I have been putting off.
There are times during the season of studying that I wonder about continuing to take exams. Since I transitioned to my career as an actuary after 15+ years in the insurance industry, I am in a different life stage than most exam-takers. I question whether I want to work this hard and sacrifice so much. Moments certainly arise when I want to stop and give up.
Several months ago I was listening to a radio show when a caller graciously laid out how the host had overcome a multitude of circumstances to become very successful. After the inspiring soliloquy, the host responded with thanks and then said something that stuck with me. “Your comments will fuel me for another ten years because it validates what I am doing and what I believe about my audience.”
Wow! Did you hear that? Ten years?!? I was immediately quickened with the thought that our words have the power to be the fuel in the rocket that is other people’s success.
Words are very important to me. In fact, from the Five Love Languages, I am a “Words of Affirmation” person. Because I am primarily influenced by words, I am keenly aware of the power they have to build up or tear down. At various times in the past, I have struggled with my own self-worth because I was not receiving verbal affirmation from others.
One sleepless night my wife and I struggled to try to understand how to help our eight-month-old daughter have a good night’s rest. Because she has been unable to settle into a nighttime routine, the sleep deprivation has worn on our family. With no ability to control the sleeping habits of an infant and the seemingly unending pressure of life, it is easy to get dragged down by the reality of our situation. It takes little effort to begin to feel alone and sorry for ourselves.
In the midst of my own struggles, I awoke to the news of a mass shooting that occurred in Las Vegas. Then I received news this week that a good friend’s son was diagnosed with leukemia, another friend’s mother passed away, and yet another acquaintance’s father passed away. Suddenly, the issues of life that I was facing seemed less significant. My perspective has been changed.
The year was 1992. I was on a cultural trip to Spain between my junior and senior year of high school. Because of the time difference, Game 6 of the 1992 NBA Finals started in the middle of the night. Even though I grew up in Illinois, I was not a Chicago Bulls fan. But I did admire Michael Jordan. He is why I woke up in the middle of the night to watch that game.
I remember that the Bulls got behind that night and were struggling to make it competitive. By the end of the third quarter, they were down 15 points. Phil Jackson, the coach, started the last period with one regular and four reserves who didn’t play substantial minutes. It was almost as if he was conceding the game and resting some of the other regular players for a Game 7. Something funny happened that night. With four reserves on the floor, a spark was ignited and they began a tremendous comeback. The Bulls pulled even and then ahead to win the game and the championship!
This week I read an article that reminded me of a Dave Ramsey quote. “To be unclear is to be unkind. Be a truth teller.” Ooh. The sentiment behind that statement strikes me as right on the money, but walking it out challenges me greatly.
My desire is to be a leader. Not just any kind of leader but a really good leader. A great leader as a matter of fact. Recently, I have been challenged in this pursuit. I find myself in situations where I am uncomfortable. In the back of my mind I think, “This is leading. This is what you have been asking for.” It is humbling to say the least! I recognize how far I have to go to become the person I want to be.
It was perfect timing. My wife had just delivered an uproariously funny comedic line causing me to begin to laugh violently. The only problem was that I was exactly in the middle of a swallow of Sprite…and driving at 70 miles per hour! Needless to say, that laugh hurt and caused me to spew Sprite all over myself. I have never experienced trying to laugh mid-swallow before or since, but I do not recommend it. The most humorous part of that experience is that neither my wife nor I could ever remember what it was that she said!
Based on the internet research I did, it appears that no one person is credited with coining the phrase “Laughter is the best medicine.” It seems there are several similar phrases credited to various individuals. Others consider it to derive from Proverbs 17:22 in the Bible which says “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Regardless of its origin, it seems to be something that most people believe to be true.
Writing this week’s post has been exceedingly difficult. Although I have attempted to diagnose why I cannot determine a specific reason. I have definitely met with resistance while attempting to write this week. Trying to compose my thoughts has felt like trying to wade through molasses. Assembling ideas into a coherent narrative has been all but impossible. Frankly, it was maddening.
Moments such as these have been few and far between for me over the past year and a half. There have only been a handful of weeks where I faced writer’s block. But it hit me hard this week. I tried physical activity to stem my restlessness. I tried sitting in quiet solitude to find inspiration. Nada. Zip. Zero. Nothing.