Tuesday, December 13, 2016

words I live by

I shared this story on instagram last week
so if you follow me there
sorry for the repeat.
To me it's worth the re-run
in case someone needs this like I once did...

A package arrived last week on my front porch.
When I first saw it
my heart kind of stopped.
I was expecting a large piece of artwork
for a new client project
{more on that soon ;)}.
My first thought was crap, I misread the dimensions.
Then I saw the word "sugarboo" on the return address.
Panic turned to excitement.
I knew immediately what it was.
It was the Christmas gift I bought myself in October.

I knew what would happen when I opened the box
so I waited until the next morning.
After all the boys were in school.
I carefully took it out of the box,
avoiding eye contact with what it said.
I hung it in our entry hall,
a place I'd always change around because it never felt "right"...
until now.
It's right where you can see it coming or going,
inside or outside,
upstairs or downstairs.
I want my kids to see it,
breathe it,
live it
from this day forward.
I didn't actually read the words
until I had it hung on the wall.

Once it was steady on its perch
I stepped back,
sat on the stairs,
and read the words...
and the tears rolled down my cheeks,
just like they do every time
I read these words written by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910...

"It is not the critic who counts,

not the man who points out 

how the strong man stumbles,

or where the doer of deeds 

could have done them better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena,

whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood;

who strives valiantly,

who errs,

who comes short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming;

but who does actually strive to do the deeds,

who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions;

who spends himself in a worthy cause;

who at the best 

knows in the end 

the triumph of high achievement,

and who at the worst, 

if he fails,

at least fails 

while daring greatly."

These words,
written over one hundred years ago,
are how I live my life now,
every day,
day in,
day out.
The tears fall
because these words
are like oxygen to me.

My tears fall as reminders...
of how incredibly brave I was
when I entered the arena in January of this year
and faced my demons.

They fall because I know
how hard I fight every day,
telling the voices in the cheap seats of life
to sit down and shut up,
including the ones in my own head.
Especially those.

Because this time last year
I sucked at self compassion
and perfection was my goal.
I finally
that perfection doesn't exist.
I'm doing my best and that's enough.
It doesn't mean life is perfect,
that there aren't ups and downs.
Because there are and we all know it.
We all experience them, no one is immune.

Here's the difference now...
I learned how to take off armor I used to put on
to protect myself from things I didn't know how to process.
Perfectionism, foreboding joy, people pleasing, withdrawing, the list goes on.
Piece by piece I took every piece of armor off
and I faced my demons head on.
The armor that had gone unnamed,
until Brene's books deciphered the code for me.
Her courageWORKS class was like that show
 "naked and afraid" but the emotional version.
But man, I kicked some ass y'all.
Sorry. I cussed. I did. I do.
Maybe you don't struggle with anything in life.
I know people in life who seem not to.
I. Am. Not one of those people.
And you know what?
I'm more than ok with that.
I've learned more by overcoming my so called crazy
than by anything that ever came easy for me.

I used to think I was weak because of my struggles.
Oh baby doll, how wrong I was.
Weakness, for me, would have been staying in the same spot,
thinking something would change on its own
without any effort whatsoever on my part.
Strength is knowing you need to change
and not stopping until
you've asked yourself the toughest questions,
unlocked the secret boxes of your heart,
the ones you tuck and bury pain and hurt in,
and done the soul-baring work.
I'm a warrior y'all.
My work will never be finished.
I know this just like I know the sun will rise in the morning.
I'm a work in progress
but my goal will never again be perfection.
It doesn't exist in this realm.
I know that now.
Now I wake up every day and say thank you God for a new day,
for giving me another chance at this thing called life.
Every day is a gift.
I'm going to open it with joy and I do.
When my feet hit the floor I'm in the arena.
In case you're like me and have this vision of an actual ancient arena...

This is seriously what I think of every day.
Especially when someone or something comes near a trigger button.
I imagine I'm down there somewhere in the pit of this arena...
some of the people in the picture are in the cheap seats...
casting dispersions, yelling negative things, being ugly.
{that's a southernism for not being kind}
Those people, their voices, no longer matter to me.
Yes, I can still hear them but now...
now I know they suck, and them being ugly???...
well, that says more about them and their own issues than it says about me.
What others think of me?
It's none of my business.
Let me tell what a weight off my shoulders that lesson was.
In the course I identified the people who matter to me,
the ones that support me no matter what,
the ones that tell me honestly when I'm wrong or screw up,
the ones that love me in spite of my crazy ;)
and the ones that are like "me too!"...
those people, you know who you are, those people are my tribe.
Those people are whose voices I choose to hear,
but my own voice is the one I listen to most now.

I'm in the arena,
I know I'll fall,
getting covered in dust and dirt,
blood, sweat, and tears.
I do and I have.
I'm human, I try and I fail.
But I know that I'd rather have tried and failed
than never have tried at all.
That is certain failure.
I choose to look at failure as, in the words of Henry Ford,
 "the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely"
in other words, learn from your mistakes. ;)
At least that's how I'm rolling.
And by the way, in my humble opinion, I'm thriving.

If you're in the arena, slaying your dragons, come sit by me.
Maybe you don't have an arena to declare...that's ok too.
Just don't sit in the cheap
In case you're not in your arena, but you think you want to or should be...
what's stopping you?
Think about it.
Good news is there's a new courageWORKS semester starting next month.
Just saying ;)


  1. Love this, and needed to read it today. My oldest just made a VERY difficult decision, all on her own, but did it because she needed to once and for all listen to herself and not everyone else. The funny thing is that new opportunities have already been offered to her as a result.

    1. I love it! can't wait to see what lies ahead for both of y'all!

  2. Nancy this is a beautiful post! Thank you for being such an inspiration, I read this post twice and I'm proud to be part of your tribe ❤️

    1. you're so sweet! thanks for your kind words :)'d you do the heart emoji? never seen that before on blogger. pretty cool.

  3. You are an inspiration!!!
    Love you!!!


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