Your Story: Amanda Whitehead

Alana —  August 14, 2012 — 13 Comments

Reclaiming Lost Identity
written by Amanda Whitehead

Amanda pictured with her Mother.

No one is a stranger to hurt and pain. While the causes vary, the feelings are experienced by all of us. My story is about my flawed attempt at handling my emotional life, the aftereffects of that attempt, and the journey of finding real healing and learning to walk in wholeness. My story is a Jesus story.

I came to believe certain things about myself as I navigated my school years, unwittingly attempting to find definition. None of them were spoken over me by my parents or loved ones; I picked up and accepted them as I learned the ugly art of comparison. Carrying these falsehoods around like a heavy dark shroud, I spent the bulk of my teens and twenties trying to be perfect…to be extraordinarily productive…in order to earn value. I hid myself in busy-ness. I navigated a few significant broken relationships. I arranged my world to foster the delusion that anything lacking was lacking because I simply didn’t have time for it. Every choice I made, every motivation, was silently influenced by my warped identity. I was set up for surface success, but it was all built on a foundation of failure and misery.

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Tasting the Vibrance

Alana —  August 9, 2012 — 8 Comments

“There is a primal sense of wonder and awe in the face of a child when they are fully absorbed in the moment. They’re thrilled with a sense of anticipation – just what kind of experiences are right around the corner. It is something to behold – this pure, unbridled joy. Life has a way of beating that wonder and awe out of us… You pour your time & energy & money into something and then it blows up in your face… and so, gradually, with your arms folded over your chest, you become one… more… spectator.” Rob Bell

I can say, I have experienced this, sometimes even multiple times in a single week! I try so hard to get something right – whether it be juggling tasks at work, developing a relationship, or cultivating a new idea. I’ve put so much effort into it, only to have it blow up in my face. So, why keep trying? It seems like it would be easier to just let life happen to me. To just go with the flow.

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Your Story: Terri Spaulding

Alana —  August 7, 2012 — 4 Comments

My Orgasm of Purpose
written by Terri Spaulding

For nearly 47 years I didn’t question my purpose in life. I knew exactly who I was and what was expected of me.

I went from being someone’s daughter, to being a wife; a worker bee, and then a mom. My all encompassing purpose and focus became to raise good boys. And then seemingly overnight, they were no longer boys, but men, and beginning lives of their own. My daily routine, the one in which I knew my purpose, was no longer set by what was going on in their lives and I was no longer needed. At least not in the same way, and I panicked.

The panic I will describe as the feeling that I could no longer see my future. I was entering my second half of life and I wasn’t prepared. How had I not only failed to stay in touch with “me”, but also stopped paying attention to my passions? Who was I?

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The Speech

Alana —  August 2, 2012 — 7 Comments

“…And a last born will exhibit characteristics of charm, and a social and outgoing personality. They look for opportunities to have fun.”

I was on fire. It was 1999, and I was standing on stage, presenting my high school senior thesis on “Birth Order Psychology.” As I saw it, the parents and teachers were enthralled – hanging on my every word. Every few moments, a burst of laughter would erupt from the crowd in response to a witty comment I had woven into my speech. I was on cloud nine.

I had no idea then that thirteen years later, I would come full-circle and find myself passionately interested in a similar topic – personality styles and how our wiring affects our behavior and outlook.

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I am honored to begin the Your Story series with friend, author, speaker, marriage and family therapist, Carissa Woodwyk.

Finding Me.
written by Carissa Woodwyk

The Woodwyk Family

The Woodwyk Family

I remember the moment that I found out I was pregnant. My heart…it leapt, it soared. That dream so many women share, had come true. I was going to give life to someone…someone who looked like me.

After two years of “trying” and fertility meds and injections and ultrasounds and blood draws and prayer and cautious hope, we saw the + sign on the stick. The celebration and elation and dreaming began. The months of all-day sickness, an ulcer that led to Darvocet, months of numb taste buds, the gradual weight gain that every woman despises, the restless and ever uncomfortable nights, and the waning energy all ended with a sum of 40 weeks growing the life inside of me.

Mysterious, miraculous, unbelievable.

As an adoptee, the journey of becoming a biological mother didn’t come without reflection…reflection of my life in my birthmother’s womb. What was she contemplating? What was her heart feeling? Did she want to give me up for adoption? Was she forced to give me up for adoption? What were the voices around her telling her to do? Was I a secret? Was I planned?

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(This post is part 3 of 3 in a series called “I Thought I Wanted Balance”)

You will be surprised by the peace and fullness you experience as you begin to practice this new way of life.

Benefits for Living an Imbalanced Life.
1). You’ll save a lot of your time. Activities that don’t help you create these strong-moments will drop further down your list of priorities. Many will fall off completely.
2). You’ll free yourself from manic perfectionism. With your focus on creating a few specific moments in each aspect of your life, you are freed from trying in vain to do everything well.
3). You’ll feel more purposeful. You are now targeting something specific, rather than being yanked around by everyone else’s demands.
4). You’ll wind up being able to do more for others. Though you begin by focusing on what you need, your strong-moments will generate the strength you need to handle everyone else in your life.
5). Your life will come to feel more balanced. It won’t actually be balanced – you won’t be devoting the same amount of either time or attention to each domain of your life. But it will feel more balanced because each part of your life will now be giving you energy – all around strength.

I thought I wanted balance in my life, but it turns out, I am really looking for fulfillment.

(This post is part 2 of 3 in a series called “I Thought I Wanted Balance”. The below excerpt is from chapter 9 in Marcus Buckingham’s book, Find Your Strongest Life).

How to Intentionally Imbalance Your Life.

First – Identify at least two strong-moments in each domain of your life (work, family, marriage, faith, friends, service, health, etc.) and write them down. These are moments/experiences in your life that left you feeling energized, confident & alive.
Second – Do your best to find at least two strong-moments for each domain. It is okay if you come up with more than two, but it is vitally important that you come up with at least two strong-moments for each area of your life.
Third – Once you have identified these moments, be deliberate about creating them. This can be as straight forward as putting them in your planner so that you can prioritize and look forward to them. Or you could create a ritual that becomes part of the structure of your week. Or you could make a commitment to your spouse or to a friend so that they then hold you accountable for making these moments happen.
Fourth – Investigate them. View each strong-moment from a new angle, or a new perspective. When you discover something novel in a strong-moment, you’ll find not only that it’s easier to keep paying attention to it, but also that the novelty itself is its own reward. “I’ve never noticed that before,” you’ll think. Or “I hadn’t realized that…” and your discovery will delight you.
Finally – Celebrate them. The full meaning of ‘celebrate’ is to hold up something so that it can be honored. So if you talk about the moment with others, you are celebrating it. If you come up with new ways to make it special, you are celebrating it. If you capture it with a photograph, a blog, or a diary, you are celebrating it. If all you do is make yourself conscious of the moment as it happens, you are celebrating it.

On the flip side, if you can’t find any strong-moments in a particular domain of your life, your choices become more limited. Marcus first encourages one to continue to search for strong-moments, no matter how small or insignificant they are.

Now, here comes the part of imbalance. If you cannot find a strong-moment, you must find a workable way to diminish, even cut out entirely, this part of your life. This may seem socially unacceptable, verging on the impossible – “How could I stop playing with my kids? Shouldn’t all mothers love playing with her kids?” – but, if you truly cannot find any aspect that strengthens you, you need to face up to this truth and deal with it. In the above example, this doesn’t mean you stop hanging out with your kids. It means you confess to yourself that you are not the kind of mom who loves to get down on all fours and play endless car-racing-crash games with your three-year-old’s Tonka trucks. Instead, you draft your spouse or some other goofy family member to do this, while you get your mom-kicks from other sorts of moments – organizing fabulous play dates, or listening and soothing when your child’s feeling most vulnerable.

Personal Application.
A strong-moment for me is when I am discussing personality styles with another individual. I am energized the moment they realize, ‘Wow! You mean I’m not the only one who thinks this way or struggles with this particular thing in my relationships? There’s actually others out there, just like me?” I get pumped when I can be a catalyst to help others realize they are not alone… and when a person listens and applies what they learn and experiences a positive result – whoah! That just kicks me into a whole new gear of excitement! This high, this energy is what is described as a strong-moment. As we begin to tilt our life – imbalance our life – toward these strong-moments, we will begin to experience more fulfillment. We will feel energized instead of drained from trying to spread our lives too thin and trying to make sure that everyone around us gets an equal piece of us.

Warning: As Marcus mentions above, if you do this, some of your decisions may not be considered socially acceptable – it is likely you could experience disgust, outrage or rejection from your colleagues, your friends, or your family. People may not understand you. I’m sure I’m even getting a few raised eyebrows by merely suggesting to consider living life this way. 😉 But let me ask, is the risk worth it to you? If you could feel more vitality because you are willing to risk what others may say about you, is it worth it to you?

If you do the above things, you’ll notice that all sorts of good things will start to happen – Stop by tomorrow to see the benefits that will emerge as you begin to Imbalance Your Life.

(This post is part 1 of 3 in a series called, “I Thought I Wanted Balance”)

I used to think I wanted balance in my life – balance between work, free time, relationships, fitness… me time… That was until I read Marcus Buckingham’s approach on balance in his book, Find Your Strongest Life. Here, he describes balance as “a firm foundation, a sense of being in control in your life, and when you find it you are poised to move.” So, why wouldn’t I want this?

Well, because Marcus then goes on to explain “… and yet, you are not moving. Any movement implies a tilt, a tipping, a reaching toward something. Balance is the opposite of movement. When you are balanced, you are stationary, holding your breath, trying not to let any sudden twitch or jerk pull you too far one way or the other. You are at a standstill.”

Wow. This is the last thing I want in my life. I’ve been at a standstill for years. I am ready for movement!

Marcus suggests to instead, strive for fullness. “You don’t have five different selves that you can keep separate. You have one life. One mind. One heart. One cup, if you will. Your challenge is not to separate one cup from another, erect boundaries between each, and then somehow balance them all. Your challenge is to move your life, tilt your life, intentionally imbalance your life toward those few specific moments that will fill your one cup”. These moments are called strong moments and you can learn more about them here.

I want this in my life. I want to experience fullness. I want to feel like I am making a bigger difference in the lives of those around me and I want to feel alive. I am beginning to put into practice Marcus’ steps for creating Imbalance and already feel more fulfilled.

Stop by tomorrow to learn more about the steps to Imbalance your life.

This post was inspired by reader, Kate Rehmus, during our topic entry contest.

Synchronicity

Alana —  July 24, 2012 — 4 Comments

Synchronicity (n): an apparently meaningful coincidence in time of two or more similar or identical events that are causally unrelated.

The past couple months I have been feeling overwhelmed with life. I’ve mentioned before that I am a seven on the Enneagram. Sevens “constantly seek new and exciting experiences, but can become distracted and exhausted by staying on the go”. I’m filled with ideas for people I want to connect or projects and businesses I want to start. Sometimes I feel like I am on the verge of break down because I never… slow… down.

I’ve been searching for answers to some pretty big questions and seem to change my mind daily on what direction I am going to move or which project will get my attention first. I’ve often asked myself: How can I slow down enough to have a complete thought and experience some clarity? Then… last week I experienced Synchronicity.

Weds – met with a friend who felt her mind was always full of thoughts. She was looking for peace and a moment when her brain wasn’t on overdrive. I mentioned to her the practice of Morning Pages and how when I exercised doing them this winter, I experienced incredible clarity and found that I was better able to problem solve. It was essentially a “brain dump” to get the gunk out of the brain first thing in the morning. I recommended she give it a try.

Thurs – My friend Claudia posted about how journaling first thing in the morning helped her to untangle her thoughts. I responded to her post asking if she was referring to Morning Pages and that I had told a friend the previous day about how they help to clear your brain.

Fri – Josh and I were having a discussion and he randomly mentioned, “Maybe you should try doing Morning Pages again. Those seemed to really help you.” He and I hadn’t discussed my Morning Pages in months.

WHAT?

This is synchronicity.

I am going to begin Morning Pages again. I know this is going to provide clarity and I anticipate having my eyes opened to the root issues of problems I consistently face.

(Click here to see a video on how to do Morning Pages.)

How about you? Have you ever tried a practice like Morning Pages? Would you consider trying for the next two weeks to see what clarity and freedom you experience?

Your Story

Alana —  July 21, 2012 — 1 Comment

I am inspired and energized by hearing other people’s Stories. I especially love to hear how someone has overcome a particular fear or challenge or had a life-altering epiphany because it helps me realize – I am not alone in my journey.

Do you have a Story of personal triumph, growth or just straight-up perseverance you would like to share? E-mail me at: amokma@gmail.com if you would like to guest post. I’d be honored to share your Story.

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