The Year of Integrity

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My “bridge book” between 2015 and 2016 was Oola. That’s right, pronounced just the way it’s spelled: OOLA. The subtitle read, “Find balance in an unbalanced world.”  The subtext read “The 7 areas you need to balance and grow to live the life of your dreams.”

I have no intention of doing a book review or summary here, but I will say that this book – that the concept of Oola, rather – has had and is still having a profound influence in the way I am approaching this new year. In fact, it’s completely altered my perspective of living life.

Timing is everything, and I got this book at just the right time: at the tail end of a 3-year trek through a valley of sunshine, depression, self-pity, and pain, during which it sometimes felt like I was doing what I love but mostly felt like I was simply doing what I had to do. It was a stagnant and difficult season.

“The 7 areas you need to balance and grow to live the life of your dreams” are fitness, finance, faith, field, friends, fun, and family. In the book, these areas are actually referred to as OolaFitness, OolaFinance, etc, as they all relate to living the OolaLife. There are also Oola BLOCKERS, obstacles that get between you and your OolaLife, and Oola ACCELERATORS, the things that maximize the forward motion of you OolaLife. (All of these Oola concepts and more can be found at  oolalife.com. If you are intrigued enough to go read the book yourself, you can buy it at the Oola Store.)

One of the Oola accelerators is integrityI found this chapter of the book particularly inspiring. I suddenly saw how keeping integrity WITH MYSELF is the key to consistent self-motivation. Integrity with myself? Yes. As in, keeping my word to myself. 

How many times do you break a promise….to yourself?  Aw, next time. I didn’t get around to it today. Maybe I’ll go tomorrow. How many times have you lied…to yourself? I was gonna start working out this week but there was just no time. I have yet to read that book I said I was gonna read last month. How many times do you let yourself down? Man, I really needed to buy that, but I just don’t have enough money. I have to cancel tomorrow’s hike; too many other things came up. 

Suddenly, Oola blockers like self-sabotage and guilt made sense. I feel lousy and unreliable and therefore am not up to a challenge. My lack of integrity with myself has been keeping me not only from reaching goals, but also from setting them! Productivity, time-management, and finance-control have been serious struggles over the last few years because I haven’t been in living in integrity with myself!

In 2016, I am resolving to live with more integrity, integrity that starts with ME holding MYSELF accountable for the things I say I will do, things I want to do, things I need to do. Integrity that drives me to take  ownership of my life. 

Life happens. You can find those two words on plaques, t-shirt, coffee cups. But those two words aren’t enough. The life that was happening to me for the last three years was really not the life I wanted to live. Today, I am still not where or what I want to be. That changes now. 2016 is the year I make life happen.

Happy New Year! May 2016 be the year you make the life of your dreams happen.

DON’T FORGET: JANUARY IS READER APPRECIATION MONTH! IF YOU ARE READING/FOLLOWING/SUBSCRIBED TO THIS BLOG, I WANT TO GIVE YOU A THANK YOU GIFT. CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR GIFT!

 

 

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2014 in 365 words

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An unbearably rough start. An incredible 26-mile victory. Facing pain and beginning a journey of letting go. Creating new memories through celebrating the Lunar New Year the local way. An involuntary sabbath. Finding stability through maintaining physical strength. 8 weeks of counseling that changed my life. Rediscovering independence through shedding unhealthy layers of dependence. Rowing with my dragon boat team to the championship. Honesty; not just with the people close to me. The emotional phenomenon of simultaneous closeness and distance and coping with it. Emotions. Reopening up my heart. Rebuilding and re-establishing community between me and other people. Practicing thankfulness as a lifestyle and releasing my hopes and expectations. Crying all the time about everything – in a good way. Completely losing control simply to find the true meaning of happiness. Making plans, finally moving towards my future after almost 2 years of dormancy. Going home and finding healing, fostering connection, loving my family. Rediscovering myself. Saying good-bye to depression. Reaching new heights. Actually completing goals. Stepping into a radically different season: working less, studying more, moving into my own apartment, a new residency status. Launching new things. Getting completely knocked off balance in the storm of transition. Regaining balance through routine, relaxation, productivity, friendship, and rest. Sifting through thoughts in search for truth that has somehow been forgotten. Re-discovering contentment and personal fulfillment through independence, spirituality, and acceptance. Enduring the sea of transition and all the pain and victory that comes with it. Writing more. Reading books again. Reviving personal tradition and making new friends. Discovering the doorway of repentance, the only way that brings one closer to God. Accepting the constancy of change. Re-embracing progress. 

And as 2014 comes to a close and the eve of yet another year is upon all of us, I realize the only clean slate any of us get comes at birth. After that, a clean slate is a choice. So in 2015, I am saying no to self-pity, no to bitterness, and no to every distraction that has ever kept me from what I REALLY want. Because this is truly the only way I can start again.

To 2015! Happy New Year, everyone.

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Toxins

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Comparison is toxic. It brings about jealousy, which is like poison penetrating your bones. Once something has penetrated your bones, it affects your movement; and the way you move suddenly becomes indicative of the toxin that has permeated the system. It also keeps you from doing certain things without great anger or pain, such as smiling, saying thank you, helping other people reach their dreams, or having general happiness for you neighbor’s welfare.

The truth is, I am an invaluable individual. We all are. As soon as we start comparing one to the other, we became mere merchandise, lined up on shelves for retail. Inventory and profit take priority over uniqueness. Being different doesn’t matter, nor does being yourself; you just need to be better. You need to win.

“What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?” Mark wrote in his Gospel.

Inventory and profit, being better, winning the game – these things don’t take our souls into account. They don’t give us the benefit of the doubt. They don’t listen to the excuses: “I’m tired today so my performance was a little worse than yesterday.” “I’m busier than normal right now, so I didn’t get everything finished today.” They don’t listen to the apologies: “I’m sorry I forgot today was your birthday!” They only see the people who did remember, those who won.

This is not how human souls interact with each other. The beauty and grace of existence is that my soul is loved, no matter how good or bad a person I am at the moment. That people care for me, whether or not I show I care for them.

And if we can truly grasp the truth of our invaluable existence, all comparisons will die away. Alas, we can finally wash the toxins from our lives. 

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re-growth

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She stepped back, afraid. Afraid of herself. Things she was once so confident in she now doubted. It was like she could no longer read these feelings that she had. She didn’t trust them. She didn’t trust herself. 

She hated the barricade this produced. the feeling of being cut off that came as a result. But she didn’t know what to do, how to take it down. How to reconnect freely.

She especially doubted herself when she was with him. She didn’t have any freedom anymore; progress with him felt impossible. She didn’t even know what that was supposed to look like. She didn’t know where to start.

So many things that were once there were now gone. The fire had taken everything but the roots, the basic truth that still held her reality together, the reality she now clung to for dear life. But as she experienced old things, they felt new; and this scared her. She didn’t trust the feelings they evoked.

She reached out, tried to touch what she was feelings. But she was so scared. So scared to fall back into the hole and so scared that she would end up digging another one.

It was so odd, this position. Nothing had changed around her, yet everything was completely different.

Moments

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Part I

Moments.
Moments missed, moments passed, moments seized
All of them shape who we are at this very moment
A moment of hurt
A moment of triumph
A moment of shame
A moment of love
The moments we want to last forever never do
And the movements we wish would pass never do
A moment is all we ever have
And every time we don’t see that, it’s another moment wasted
A moment shared
A moment alone
A moment of stupidity
A moment of genius
We can never choose when these moments will come to us
What are we left with then, if all we have are these moments that lead us forward to the next?

Part II

When we’re in it, feelings on fire and emotion all we know,
It’s hard to believe the moment will pass.
In fact, many times it’s impossible to even believe there is life outside what were are currently experiencing.
But that is where the resilience of the human soul is stronger than you may realize.
Do not sell yourself out in the moment.
Esau’s moment of hunger cost him his inheritance as the first born son.
In the moment…
Don’t make decisions; just breathe. Let yourself experience the present intensity of your feelings.
Some moments last for seconds, others for hours, still others years. But no matter how long you find yourself with these feelings, don’t give it power.
Because the moments we experience in life do not have the last word. They don’t control our destinies. Life is bigger than the momentary happiness or sadness we experience.
We must take 4 simple words to heart. We must repeat them to each other and repeat them to ourselves: THIS. TOO. SHALL. PASS.
Say it again: this too shall pass.

Even the moments we want to last forever will come to pass. But the passing of present happiness doesn’t mean you’ll be sad the rest of your life. And the moments we feel might end us we must endure, because this to shall pass.

This too shall pass.

Whatever it is right now. THIS. TOO. SHALL. PASS.

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poison

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It had been days now since the drug had been removed. All of the emptiness and dissatisfaction she had once been hiding and even ignoring was now revealed for what it was. The poison had deeply penetrated her soul. She writhed in pain almost every night, and it was all she could do to not cry out. 

Slowly but surely the poison was working itself out of her system. It was being driven out, and now had no way to fight back, the source having already been cut off. But it was a slow process; and as the poison diminished, she felt a new kind of pain.

It was a pain that was accompanied with memories and reminders of what once was. It was the pain of letting go. Because unless she did that, she would never be made new. She would never rediscover herself. She would never take back what was lost. 

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SHE WAS DESIGNED to live in union with her Maker. This union does not negate who she is; it actually makes her more fully herself. When she tries to live independently of Him, she experiences emptiness and dissatisfaction. She may gain the whole world and yet lose everything that really counts.

She must find fulfillment through living close to her Maker, yielding to His purposes for her. Though He may lead her along paths that feel alien to her, she must trust that He knows what He is doing. If she follows Him wholeheartedly, she will discover facets of herself that were previously hidden. He knows her intimately – far better than she knows herself. 

In union with her Maker, she is complete. In closeness to her Maker, she is transformed more and more into the one He designed her to be. 

**Taken and paraphrased from the book Jesus Calling


independence

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You need nothing from others, only God.

That’s what they said to her. It had brought so much joy and pain to her spirit to hear that. She needed to be independent.

Why was it so hard, then, to completely detach herself from the world around her, all the people, all the experiences, all the desires? What did this mean? That she no longer needed people?

Of course, she needed people. She simply needed nothing from people.

This was a message He had etched in her from the beginning, but until now it had been hidden from her. The timing was… perfect. She hated to admit it, but this was exactly what she needed right now, to need nothing from people. 

You are the apple of my eye, He was saying to her. Only I can take care of you.

It couldn’t be true. How could it? Her current desire was not for Him to be the only one to take care of her. She didn’t want this independence.

But this was her original design.

silver silence

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It was happening to her again. Her words were stuck in her head and the silence that was coming out was not golden. There were so many things she wanted to say, so many more questions she wanted to ask, but she held them inside. 

She couldn’t tell if she was holding these thoughts back intentionally or because she was scared or if she simply didn’t think the timing was right. She knew all of them needed to be expressed eventually. To him. She just didn’t know how right now. 

For now, feeling safe was good enough. Feeling supported and loved was good enough. Conversation was good enough. But she knew the word enough wasn’t going to hold for long. It was already coming a part at the seams. She could feel the pressure of the pending break.

And after everything finally broke free, she had no idea what would happen. How she would feel. What he would say. 

Would there just be more silence?