Tasting the Vibrance

“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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Freeing Myself From Captivity

I have been living my life as a captive. I have done what those around me want me to do or expect of me for fear they will reject me if I choose to make my own decisions.

In high school, I changed my clothing to match the popular girl because I thought it would have the same magical affect on my own life. I chose my profession based only on recommendations my mom gave me. I used to have a huge collection of DVDs – half of which I didn’t like. I only purchased them so my house guests would think I was cool. In college, I went into thousands of dollars of debt, specifically because I wanted to have the best party house. I gave parts of me to various men with the naive hope they would reciprocate with their love and protection.

My life has been full of desperate attempts to get others to like me or to accept me into their inner circle. As a result, I have learned to manipulate my behavior to entice those around me. Last week I met with my Naturopath. During the course of our conversation, he asked how much of what I do is externally motivated. In the moment, the only area that came to mind was that of my health. I want to be physically fit and healthy for my husband, not for me. After the appointment, I continued to chew on this question. I was quickly sickened to realize that pretty much everything I do and have done has been based on external motivation! It has been done with the hope that “If I do this action, then my family will love me more. They will finally be proud of me.” “If I do what this guy wants me to do, then he won’t leave me.” “If I am there for this friend, then she will be there for me when I need it.” How gross! How twisted!

This mentality has held me captive from being the person that is the real me. It is terrifying to be 31 years old and sit here wondering, “Who is the real Alana?” I don’t even know.

My theme for 2012 is The Year of Facing My Fears. I know part of this will involve learning to be who I was created to be. I admit, I am a little excited, but mostly I am scared to crap.

BUT. I know I have to do this.

I know I can only be fully free if I allow the real me to be free.

But…

Michael, Claudia and Jude Good

Let me introduce to you my friend, Claudia.

Claudia and I met through an online community of bloggers. One day the website rise365.com popped up on my radar. I checked it out and loved how Claudia and her husband Michael (with son Jude) are taking control of their Story! There is something special about the instant connection you form with people of like minds. Here’s Claudia!

But…

I don’t feel ready yet…I want more time. I want time to change before I need to change. And actually I sometimes don’t WANT to change at all, I just want to be changed already. I just want to press one of those little reset buttons…It’s gotta be here somewhere!

But darn it if life doesn’t work that way.

We were designed to change, move, always forward, onward…one day ends and a new begins, it never stops, always changing. A new sunrise at a slightly different time than the day before, the clouds of yesterday are nothing like the ones today, every thunderstorm is different, every leaf on a tree, every human eye color. Even our very own skin changes each day, shedding the old skin of yesterday, making way for new skin.

So why is it so hard for me to change when everything else about my whole world is constantly changing?

It’s easier just to think about it…to write about it than to live it. Living it takes action on my part. And I really actually enjoy being lazy. Its easier to live the life that other people think I should be living than to pave my own path.

And is it being lazy or actually taking advantage? I’ve been given the gift of life and assuming that I have forever to be here on this earth is just crazy! I’ve started to live like there is no big hurry to do or be anything…after all I have time right?! Maybe. Maybe not.

Its quite amazing, actually that we are given life and get to choose the direction in which our lives go. I mean, we aren’t programmed robots or anything…life is the most awesome gift and we treat it like an unloved sweater from Aunt Ruthee! We can live our own lives as happily, sucessfully, vibrantly and full of adventure as we choose. But what do most of us choose instead?! BORING sit in front of the tv, settle for the very least, do what others think I should do, poor me lives! Well, thats what I have been doing at least…just floating along, taking what comes…no goals, no direction, no inspiration, NO LIFE!!!

I have lived a life I thought others wanted me to live. Always bending because they wanted me to bend, speaking because they thought it was time for me to speak, laughing when appropriate, running when I didn’t know why, but boy I was running!

I’m starting to realize that I don’t even know me. Who is this me that I am? Am I the me I was created to be or the me that has been formed over years and years of trying to be who I thought others wanted me to be?

I think it has been the latter…and that is really dumb! Can you imagine getting to the end of your life and realizing you had lived your whole life based on what you thought other people thought you should be!? That would be awful! No, horrific!

ENOUGH!

Change has come…its wrapping around my ankles like a vine and I am being pulled in new directions and pushed into the deep water of the unknown.

I feel my body rebelling at the pushing. Fearing the newness, my mind wants to run wild with themes of panic, fear and worry. I struggle to hold on to hope, joy, peace.

I will not give in!!

I want to learn more of story, and how to write a beautiful one with my life…the only one I have been given!

To explore whimsy and how we were created to dream and live a wild adventure!

To learn of magical living – of stretching farther than I think I can be stretched, reaching into the unknown, pushing against myself (that self that wants to stay the same) to grow and learn!

I feel something coming alive in me. I do! Its in there.

My eyes look bluer, bigger, deeper. Something is getting ready to burst forth, to be born. Could it be the me I never knew? The true me, the real me, the authentic, strong, driven, hopeful, adventurous, full of life and peace me!? Dear God, let it be!

Here’s to change!!

“It is a sad fate for a man to die too well known to everybody else, and still unknown to himself.” Francis Bacon

***********************************************************************************************************

My name is Claudia Good. I like the sound of crickets at night, the smell of fresh hay and horses in a barn, the way the sun shines through green leaves, wearing a hoodie in the fall and laughing till I cry.
I am in full pursuit of writing a better story with my life!
Here is to life more abundant!

You can find Claudia, her husband Michael and their son Jude @ rise365.com.

25 Things I Love About Me

Identity Feature: I have, and will ALWAYS sport new 'dos

It comes more naturally for us to recognize our flaws and insecurities. It is easier for me to focus on the reasons why I don’t have what it takes to do the things I want to do or be the person I want to be. I am learning that the more I speak positive affirmations over myself, the more I believe them and the more they play out in my life. Today I proclaim 25 Things I Love About Me!

#25. I am trustworthy.
#24. I am not afraid to ask questions … a lot of them.
#23. I am experimental. Artsy and expressive.
#22. I know that “one drop” can change everything.
#21. I am vibrant.
#20. I challenge others to live bigger and bolder.
#19. Others are naturally drawn to me.
#18. My various hair colors and styles are part of my identity. I’ve had this identity feature since age 16.
#17. If you ask my opinion, I will tell you the truth.
#16. What others think of me does not define me.
#15. I recognize most every person I have met; even if I have not seen them for years.
#14. I can rock 5″ heels.
#13. I am not afraid to break out in dance at a bowling alley… or at a grocery store… or in the middle of the street.
#12. I am mesmerized by people and want to know them.
#11. I may get knocked down, but it doesn’t take me long to get back up and keep fighting.
#10. I like teen shows like Glee.
#09. I have a voice, and it will be heard.
#08. I will never be too old to play dress up.
#07. I do what I say I am going to do… if I don’t, I am at least striving for it.
#06. I recognize my past has shaped me, but does not identify me.
#05. I can relate to a wide variety of people – wealthy/not-so-wealthy, weak/strong, crazy and sane. ;)
#04. I wore dresses over jeans before it was popular.
#03. I am not afraid to be different.
#02. Even if today was bad, I have hope that tomorrow will be a better day.
#01. I am perfectly ME.

What are your top 25 Things You Love About You? Blog about it and leave a link or list a few of your favorites in the comment section.

What Part Are You?

Cari Troyer w/husband Steve and daughter Kaitlyn

Cari and I met at the Speak it Forward Boot Camp in October of this year. We immediately connected on our awesome tastes in fashion and our desire for others to understand their own value. You matter. Below, Cari shares the significance of knowing your purpose.

Few things matter more to me than the singular idea that each person has dignity and worth.

I believe very whole-heartedly that we each have been commissioned with a mission of hope—a message destined for a desperate world. And each message is as unique as the person it has been entrusted to – we are as the many instruments of an orchestra, our solo melodies blending together to create a master symphony.

Like parts of the body, we each have a specific purpose and are all necessary for the proper function of The Whole (1 Corinthians 12). But two things must happen for all parts to operate as they should:

1). Each part (person) must realize they are part of the body (or what I call ‘The Whole’ – or God’s Divine Plan), and
2). Each part must know and perform their job (or unique purpose within that Plan).

A hand cannot be used to see, just as an eye cannot be used to feel. No part of The Whole is lesser than another – for what is a foot without a leg? Or a head without a neck? Likewise, what good is an ear that doesn’t know its purpose is to hear, or that tries to be a mouth?! (It sounds absurd, I know, but consider how true to the mark this analogy may actually be — most of the difficulties in my life have occurred when I tried to play a part I wasn’t designed for.)

My vocation in life is to help provide the tools, information, and motivation to assist others as they identify their place and purpose. I am passionate about this idea because I myself once believed I had nothing to contribute to this world, that life was futile and not worth living. As scripture puts it, “… I gave up in despair, questioning the value of all my hard work in this world” (Ecclesiastes 2:20).

I chronicle my life-long battle with chronic depression and persistent suicidal thoughts in my book, Risen From Low Places: How I Overcame Depression & Despair. It was on that concrete floor, alone, that I made the choice to live. By the grace of God I have successfully treated my depression and have now achieved wellness. And let me emphasis this point, because it is pivotal: I got up off that floor and sought wellness because I made a decision. Fulfillment and purpose require Action. Choice. I chose to accept the fact that I had a role to play in this life, and I chose to dedicate myself to the diligent pursuit of seeking it out. That is where meaning is to be found. All else is waste and loss. And let me add that I don’t believe that people are afflicted with mental conditions, or difficulties of any kind for that matter, as punishment for sin; what I believe is that it is through despair that God can raise us up.

John 9:3 discusses this concept. The Jewish High Priests were dumbfounded when Jesus gave sight to a blind man. Jewish tradition held that tragedy and disability were punishment for sin. The High Priests asked who had sinned to cause the man’s blindness. Jesus said, “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”

Through my depression God molded and shaped me so that my story of survival and redemption might be an example of His divine patience, mercy and power. Be reassured, there is value in your struggle, and good can come of it. For God said in Corinthians 4:6, “’Let light shine out of darkness’”!

It is because of my trials, not despite them, that I now go boldly and unapologetically toward my dreams. My perseverance has given me hope. For it is written, “…we rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:3-4).

Again, I tell you, be assured: no matter your circumstances or struggle, you are part of a magnificent Whole. Through trial and difficulty God can mold and perfect you, and ultimately, He can use you to achieve a Greater Good.

Cari Troyer is an Author & Speaker, specializing in personal and professional development.

www.caritroyer.com