2017, the year of…

2017, the year of…

Tomorrow is a new year, and it’s time for a new word. For 2017, it is the year of Endurance.

2017-the-year-of

Halfway through 2016, this could have honestly been my word instead of Independence. My mind was already shifting to this focus. This year I wasted a lot of time being disillusioned about my life; I fantasized way to much and ended up disappointing myself because, surprise! life isn’t a fantasy. My writer mind wishes it can create my own story just as easily as it creates others, but I’m not the only one who can throw curveballs into the fray. By October 2016, I figured out what word I needed to focus on next. It came like a clear beam of sunlight through the reddening autumn leaves.

Here’s why Endurance is my word for the year: I’m a wimp. I’m not saying that because I started hating on myself. I really am a wimp. Or, in nicer words, I don’t have as thick skin as I thought I did. I am a naturally emotional person who quits on things too soon because I didn’t get an instant “click” within the first few days. This bad trait has caused me to make several regretful decisions that I try to distract myself from to keep the shame level low. I don’t seem to have any endurance, for anything.

I think it was when I came across Hebrews 10:36 one September morning as I was on the bus that I decided on the word:

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised.

“Patient endurance” kept playing over and over in my head. It certainly was what I needed right now. The Bible has so many examples of people who endured through much suffering in order to finish and receive the reward: Joseph, Job, Elijah, Paul…not to mention Christ himself.

With a focus on Endurance, I want to develop every part of my endurance: physical, mental, emotional, spiritual. I don’t want outside forces to determine my choices anymore. I don’t want to be such an easy quitter anymore. I don’t want to be controlled by flighty emotions that just end up driving myself and others crazy. I want to endure, especially during the hard parts. I want to get strong. I’m working out this year, and I mean my mental muscles.

year-words-so-far

past years’ words

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If you want to be inspired, hang around these people

If you want to be inspired, hang around these people

Whether we will it or not, the environment we surround ourselves with, the peers we connect with, heavily influence our creativity, productivity, and attitude. You’ve probably already been told a million times who NOT to hang out with, but as a creative who desires to be inspired for their art, who do you hang out with?

  • Someone who has had an adventure

This is the person who perhaps lived in another city for a time or went on a hike or vacationed to a foreign country or studied abroad or pursued a business endeavor or what-have-you. Even if their adventure wasn’t particularly successful, this is someone who isn’t afraid of trying new things, finds excitement in the unfamiliar, and can be some strong motivation for you to go on your own adventures.

  • Someone who is fiercely independent

Hanging around people who won’t take action to move out of mom and dad’s house is going to hold you back. An independent person who has had experiences will influence you to make some confident, independent decisions, perhaps the same ones that helped them get out the door.

  • Someone who knows people

It’s not unwise to actively seek out people who have valuable connections that can benefit your career. This is someone who is probably more social than you, someone who makes friends easily and is likable, which will make you likable. Those who work in creative industries know that connections are the life of artistic success.

  • Someone who has strong opinions

We don’t usually care for opinionated people, as they can at times be annoyingly stubborn and arrogant. However, someone with strong opinions is a greater influence than someone who is ambiguous and indifferent. They are much more likely to be listened to, and they emit a personality of self-confidence and morality. They can be the person who points out flaws in your plans that you are otherwise biased about and provide constructive criticism, which could help you make smarter decisions. It must be someone you trust very deeply, else their opinions will go unheeded.

  • Someone who is moved by aesthetic experiences

People who admire and appreciate beauty in different forms are extraordinarily deep and creative individuals who are not only pleasing to be around but are contagious of passion. Hang around someone who notices the architectural details of an old house or who wonders at the natural causes of a geographical monument or who enjoys breaking down the aspects of a good film.

  • Someone who participates in a physical hobby

Even if it’s just working out, a person who spends time being active for fun as well as health is overall a more productive, more positive person. And they may influence you to take up a sport as well.

  • Someone who is not affected by chaos

NOT someone who creates chaos (no one needs that in their life). This is someone who is strong-willed and is not easily upset by unstable environments. Whether they truly are unmoved or are just extremely good at faking calm, they’ll keep your feet on the ground in stressful situations.

  • Someone who is not easily offended

Name-calling, stereotyping, and difference of opinions goes over this person’s head. They hold their own beliefs and standards while not pushing it on others, at the same time being unconcerned with what others think.

  • Someone who is exceptionally intuitive

They can be a little scary, but you’ll appreciate having someone in your life who can read you and know what’s on your mind before you even speak. They’re like a psychic without all the weird supernatural stuff. They just know you that well. Hang around someone who knows how to point out what needs pointing out as well as holding back for the sake of better timing.

 

Surrounding ourselves with the right formula of environment can make or break a career, can make us a positive or negative person, and can open up opportunities that wouldn’t have been available in a different place. The people, most of all, influence the strongest. If your crowd is not inspiring you, then it’s time to make some new friends.

 

Why Are You Afraid?

Why Are You Afraid?

Whenever I end up in that conversation with someone who’s in the same place in life as I am but don’t appear to be going anywhere or doing anything, look out. I will not shut up. If I know you personally, you will be chastised. If we are only acquainted, you will be politely chastised. If there’s one thing that ruffles my feathers, it’s a young person who has no ambition.

But there’s something I realized from recent conversational occasions: the problem isn’t always lack of ambition. In fact, I’ve actually not encountered a situation where the problem was solely lack of ambition. There was always ambition. The problem lied with fear. And each fear that was uncovered was unique: fear of failure, fear of disappointment, fear of exposure, fear of inexperience, fear of change, fear of independence. I’ve heard of all of these. Each one was so extreme that it kept dear friends and fellow twenty-somethings from achieving, or even just going after, their dreams.

When I discovered this, I realized that my tactic of spit firing suggestions and pushing borderline overenthusiastic optimism wasn’t the best option. It wasn’t addressing the underlying problem. I switched over to a different question: “Why are you afraid?”

I now suggest to others to dig deep and figure out why they are afraid to move forward. If they identify the fear, they can identify what caused it, and if they identify what caused it, then they can identify how to deal with it. Fear will never be gone completely. In fact, we need it to make cautious decisions and keep us aware of danger. That’s the fear we can comfortably operate through life with without it hindering our ability to get to the next step. But it’s necessary to address the bad kind of fear, the kind that keeps us in one place, the kind that holds us back. That’s done in patient steps that are hard but not impossible. The first step is…

ask yourself: why are you afraid?

5 Moments that gave me an Inspiration Surge

5 Moments that gave me an Inspiration Surge

We can’t easily forget those moments, when something or someone so deeply inspired us that it birthed an idea in our minds or changed our way of thinking or made us take action. I’ll bet you can name one significant event. Let me share five.

  1. The day I watched The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I saw the first Chronicles of Narnia movie when it came out in 2005 before I even knew about the books. It was thanks to my brother who expressed enthusiasm for this unbeknownst story, and his insistence of me reading the books. I saw the movie, and I fell in love. “What is this story?” I asked my brother. He gave me his big fat copy of all seven books when we got home, and that was the start of a lifelong infatuation with Narnia and C.S. Lewis. And this was all before I discovered I wanted to write just like him…
  2. The first day of seventh grade English. My teacher, still a good friend and inspiration to this day, welcomed us to her class, and then ordered us to take out a pencil and paper. We were to write in silence for five minutes. We couldn’t stop, and we couldn’t erase. If we had nothing to write, then we wrote don’t know what to write over and over. When the timer began, I was thinking about The Legend of Zelda. I would watch my brother play the games, and he had recently finished Ocarina of Time.  So, in those five minutes, I wrote a short story about Link and the little MarketTown of Hyrule. That was the story that, at the end of the five minutes, I leaned back from and stared at with a tingling sense of awe. It was the moment I realized, I loved that. 
  3. When I heard my fourth grade teacher had said, “she’s going to be a writer.” My fourth grade teacher (who was also my second grade teacher) was another teacher that made a mark on my life. She saw the gift in me first, years before it came up on its own. I didn’t know she said this until years later, because she wrote it in a letter to my mom. It was confirmation to me, and a surge that kept me going.
  4. After I cried on the bathroom floor while healing from a broken back. There was a point during that season when I feared that I would never run or dance or climb ever again that I broke down in the bathroom. My mom found me and prayed over me. Something changed after that day. My attitude toward my injury shifted. I began to see the opportunities that lay in wait. And when God let me know, “Even if you were paralyzed, you’d still be able to fulfill your purpose,” it was all different after that. I thanked God I wasn’t an athlete.
  5. December 31, 2015. I made the decision to quit a previous position this day, and though the process was hard, I relished the feeling of a fresh start when it came to pass. It was a great way to launch the year of Independence with a reassuring message that I can move my feet and not make an earthquake if I didn’t want to. I can move my feet and make a path appear.

What are some unique significant moments that inspired you and made a little change in your life? What event gave you a surge of Inspiration?

Today’s the day…stronger than yourself

Photo May 17, 3 11 46 PM

We’re fiercely independent creatures, aren’t we? Some of us probably more than others, but dependency, especially on that which is bigger and stronger than us, can be difficult and maybe a little humiliating. But we only hurt ourselves when we don’t look for help. Perhaps, today, lay a little dependency on that which is stronger. Give yourself a little rest.

Today’s the day you’ve been waiting for. Now make a reason why.