Pace Yourself

Some of us get a little ahead of ourselves. We dash ahead, zip around, keep the balls rolling. We are multi-taskers with a superb ability to juggle and zigzag the challenges in our path. Watch out priorities! We’re crossing things off our to-do list. Check. Check. Check. Who’s got time to shift down to second gear?

IMG_1439In some ways we’re like this clever squirrel in my backyard. (Look at those nails. Yikes!) He lunges and swings from my apple tree branches, daily nabbing tender green apples and feasting away. Chomp. Gulp. Toss. The little neurotic varmint only takes a few bites before dropping each partially eaten apple to the grass. Or to the deck with a clunk-clunk. He yanks another apple off the tree and repeats his snacking. Chomp. Gulp. Toss. Next.

Some days like this squirrel, we get in our routines and nothing is going to interrupt our flow. We chomp, gulp, and toss our way through our meals, our driving the kids to and fro, our projects, our meetings, our home and yard chores, our TV shows, our getting ready for bed, and starting all over again. Oh, I forgot to mention our devotionals, our workouts, our texting, our Facebook® catching up. Sigh.

Becoming aware of our daily pacing, is one way to sharpen our resiliency over time. Maybe it’s time that we consider how we chomp our ways through our to-dos, gulp down our meals, and rush through times with others, tossing out little peppy platitudes and “hang in there” advice.

To the squirrel’s credit, I do see him chillin’ at times, and early mornings he runs with friends across my roof (sounds like a bowling league!). He does have a life outside his sloppy eating habits.

Oh, the wisdom in nature around us. If only we’d pace ourselves to savor a few apple slices in the sun before fall knocks on the door. If only we’d toss some things off our plate and go scamper with our friends.

To tidy up my own pacing, I am beginning to plan a more carefree approach to my days. First, I think I’ll invite friends over for a deck barbeque. For a little stretch time, we can rake up the half-eaten apples in my yard. Rake. Bag. Lift. Next. (I’m just kidding . . . then again, it could be bonding way to build resiliency.)

Brave & Resilient Tip #78: Pace yourself as you savor each day.

Beauty Through Anything

Pummeled. Pounded. Pulverized. I could go on with words to describe the freakish twin tornadoes that decimated three-fourths of Pilger, Nebraska, the other day. And I know Liz, one of the hometown gals, from this quaint farming town now obliterated to rubble and nothingness. It was surreal to watch a nationally televised aerial sweep of Pilger and spot Liz’s family home still standing.

IMG_2584 - Version 2Pilger, with its 350 people, is three times the population of my hometown. I get the tranquility of small town living. The neighborliness of folks who even know your middle name. The recovering together when adversity roars with an unpredictable vengeance.

And I, like author Kathleen Norris, understand the tested resiliency of farmers, ranchers, and rural villagers. After living a number of years in voguish New York City, Kathleen returned to the rugged lands of her pioneer ancestors. Stumbling through her adjustment to the unforgiving landscape of western South Dakota, Kathleen wrote in her book Dakota, “I had to stay in this place, like a scarecrow in a field, and hope for the brains to see its beauty.”

Staying put. Riding out the isolation of the barren flatland or the desolation of a tornado-stripped community and hoping to see the beauty in the present. Somehow in our day-to-day and major life event struggles, we are designed to experience beauty poking through our layers of disbelief and depletion.

As the people in Pilger now exemplify, beauty comes in the people who stand by us through thick and thin. Beauty comes in learning to dwell on what we do have instead of on what we lack. Picking up the pieces unfolds fresh beauty as we shift our trust in the things of this world. Oh, for the determination to stay when we feel like running and the brains to see the beautiful good no matter which way the wind blows.

Brave and Resilient Tip #71: Determine to see beauty through anything.

Persistence vs Failure

Thomas Edison, the master scientist failed two thousand times before he invented the light bulb. When a reporter asked Edison about how it felt to come up short again and again, the genius inventor replied, “I never failed once. It just a happened to be a two thousand-step process.”

Light bulb illuminated,Edison patented 1,093 inventions in his eighty-four years, and every one of them required skilled steadfastness and patience. Thomas Edison was persistent and tenacious. His resiliency brought us the phonograph (think early, early iPod) and the motion picture camera.

Brilliant Mr. Edison doggedly kept at it, refusing to stop at attempt #1,999. How do we view a circumstance that just doesn’t quite work out according to our plans and our hopes? Call it failure or call it one less attempt to solve a problem. Call it failure or one step closer to innovation, progress, and success.

There’s just something about hanging in there with persistence that flips a switch to our discovering better things to come. Are you tiring of hanging in there? As French naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc Buffon exhorted, “Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius.”

Today may shine with a light bulb moment. Who knows . . . you may be on attempt #1,999.

Brave and Resilient Tip #54: Let persistence light up your life, day after day.

Sawing Logs

Hope for the Sleep-Deprived

Last week on vacation in the central mountains of Colorado, my friend and I drove to  Boreas Pass along the Continental Divide. She snapped this photo of freshly sawn logs outside the Boreas Section House, built in 1881 as a lodging place for railway workers. Today the section house is a visitor center in summer and an overnight lodge for backcountry skiers in winter. (Boreas is the name of the ancient Greek god of the north wind and winter). At nearly 11,500 feet, harsh winds and heavy snows definitely call for plenty of sawn logs for winter guests.

IMG_6013 - Version 2“Sawing logs” also means to breathe heavily while sleeping. Growing up, I recall a number of times my tired dad taking a nap and qualifying as a buzz-saw snorer. His catching z-z-z-z’s, with an occasional snort in his rest, actually lulled me into a relaxed state. The sounds of my papa snoring somehow reassured me that everything was right with the world.

Lately, I have struggled to either fall asleep or stay asleep until morning light. Perhaps like me, you can relate to stress or worry or over-exhaustion keeping you from sawing logs or at least sawing some small branches. Lack of sleep is not healthy for any of us. I’ve had some health issues over the years that make sleep tough for me at times, but often my fretting mind robs me of slumber instead of my aching body.

When I’m wide awake in the wee hours of the night, I’ve experienced some of my most honest prayers with God. Sometimes I beg for rest and relief. Other times I whisper my gratitude until my heart is calmed and I’m lulled back to sleep.

King David certainly had this share of troublesome worries to keep him from shuteye—hit men hunting him down, fleeing to hide in caves, (let alone accumulating a number of mothers-in-law and squeezing in time to write more song lyrics.) In the midst of his anxious days, David penned these comforting words, “At day’s end I’m ready for sound sleep, for you, God, have put my life back together (Psalm 4:8, The Message).

I love that God knows just how to put our life back together so we can sleep soundly at day’s end. I know I long for more rest and find encouragement in the advice of David’s son Solomon who wrote of the benefits of living life wisely: “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; When you lie down, your sleep will be sweet” (Proverbs 3:24, NASB).

So tonight, I give you permission to saw a few logs if need be. Sweet dreams. Trust that God is on watch putting your life back together.

Brave and Resilient Tip #42: Keep up your resiliency by safeguarding your sleep. 

Do It Anyway

I’ve always admired this poem adapted by Mother Teresa and inscribed on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta. Her words remind us all to “change the channels” as Dr. Helen wrote about last week and choose better responses to the things in life that want to wear us down. Enduring and persistent herself, Mother Teresa’s words describe a life of true resiliency.


Do It Anyway

People are often unreasonable, illogical, and self-centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you’ve got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

Brave & Resilient Tip #17:  A “do it anyway” attitude matters not just to others but to God.