Friday, January 2, 2015

Choosing What Matters in 2015

I found my voice again. Time to dust off the old notebook and re-sharpen the pencils… it’s been a little over a year since I’ve done either, and as usual, I’m re-kindling the flame from the road. New Years Eve creates a period of time for intentional reflection, and for the first time in too long, I’m taking advantage of that.

You have to learn which bridges to cross and which to burn. 
2014 has been what the sports world commonly refers to as a “rebuilding year”. It’s been riddled with a variety of fumbles, false starts, and hail Mary’s that have caused me to reevaluate my playbook completely, but as the year comes to a close, chaos has transformed into clarity, uproar into unwinding, hurt into hopefulness and pain has turned to peace. 

While much has been lost over the last 365 days, more has been gained.

If I’ve learned anything definitively (aside from the fact that a good shower can totally change your outlook on life and that dark chocolate saves lives) it’s that life is all about choices. Not a day goes by where we aren’t making choices. From the moment your alarm goes off in the morning you have a choice to either postpone the inevitable or to rise to the occasion, and in my own meandering experience, it’s that choice that sets the tone for the rest of your day. How do I know? I’ve made plenty of wrong choices.

I’ve perpetually put myself last. At times, that meant stretching myself too thin mentally, physically, and financially as a result. I’ve hitched my wagon to the wrong stars for what I thought were the right reasons. I’ve misplaced my trust and have had it shattered. I’ve chosen to settle for good enough instead of bettering my best. I’ve chosen someday instead of today and I know first hand what it feels like when tomorrow never shows up. I’ve chosen to speak in anger instead of act in compassion - and I’ve paid dearly for each of those choices. But they were choices, and what I know about choices is that they have consequences.

A choice, by definition, is the act of selecting or making a decision when faced with two or more possibilities. A mistake, by definition, is an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong. Clearly, they are not the same. I have made choices and I’ve made mistakes, but I do not mistake choices for an action or judgment that is misguided or incorrect. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction – whether or not you hold yourself accountable, you are responsible for the reaction your actions cause.

Accidents happen in the blink of an eye. Floodwaters rise and fires rage. Babies are born too early and in the same breath, someone dies too young. Bad things happen to good people and good things happen to people who don’t deserve it – but those are not mistakes, nor are they choices: they are circumstances. And in those circumstances – it is up to us individually to make the best choices we can and to forgive ourselves (and each other) for the mistakes we make along our journey through uncharted territory. There are plenty of things in this world that we cannot control – there is no excuse but to do our best with the things we can.

There is a quote in one of my all time favorite books The Secret Life of Bees where Sue Monk Kidd illustrates the challenge of choosing what matters: “Some things don't matter much. Like the color of a house. How big is that in the overall scheme of life? But lifting a person's heart--now, that matters. The whole problem with people is...they know what matters, but they don't choose it...The hardest thing on earth is choosing what matters.”

So many of you have made the time to lift my heart this year - most of you, in ways you'll never know... I have spent time in nurturing places with people who illuminate my path, and I hope I've been able to return the light they've given me.  I have learned many lessons the hard way, redefined myself repeatedly, and broken out of the self-oppressive chains I thought I deserved. I have done the hard work, and when I look in the mirror, I am no longer disappointed. You gave me hope through uncharted territory - thank you. 

I am committed to making better choices this year and I wish you the opportunity to do the same. I also wish for each of us the chance to take ownership of our choices - good, bad, and ugly. I hope you’ll join me in ditching the glorification of “busy” and in taking time for yourself so you can make time for others. I hope you’ll look in the mirror and see past your reflection. You are enough… and what I know thanks to 2014 is that I am too.

Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% what you choose to do with it. I choose to wake up, to breathe deeply, love fearlessly, and live intentionally. No more hitting snooze. The problem with time is you always think you have more of it - but someday isn't good enough. Today is your day, my day, our day - lets get on our way! 

Here's to you 2015, the year of no excuses.