Could I be the Hero?

DSC_1421.jpgThis morning I’m mulling over the idea of letting go of waiting on the heroic moments.  Letting go of waiting around for the character of a hero to suddenly appear within me.

I feel like I’m one to just hope that I’ll arrive to the character that I’m called to have and to just maintain that state of being effortlessly from there on.  Wouldn’t it be nice to arrive to such a state?  But what if we won’t?  That doesn’t dare mean to give up on becoming who we’re called to be.

Take for example the proclamation that you might have said to a partner, spouse or dear friend that goes “I would die for you”.  Those are some hearty words that have a lot of meat on the bones.  They bear weight.  They’re badass.  The thing is, for most of us it’s unlikely that our devotion would be put to the literal test of those words (and I pray that we never have to be so harshly tested).  Most will walk down life alongside others who we love without facing the challenge of taking a bullet for them.  No, we face the challenge of living for them.  When we say “I want to live for you” it doesn’t sound as epic as dying for them.  We even feel an inkling of dislike for that idea.  For me, my knee jerk response is to live for myself and if you’re kinda human like me, you’ll have the same adverse reaction to that as well.  The intimidating thing about choosing to live for others is that it’s not always certain they’ll reciprocate such a devotion. Sometimes sharing life is a bore if not a chore.  Wow, I didn’t mean to rhyme there but I’m keeping it!

I’m not speaking as if I know, but rather this blog is a bit personal processing for me here. So don’t assume you’ll read to the end and be able to enjoy the impeccable revelation of what it means to live for others perfectly.

I know we all will face those moments of where we must be the hero.  This could be the moment of forgiveness against a bitter wrong made against you.  It really could be taking a bullet.  Or maybe it’s starting the difficult but necessary conversation you’ve had on your heart for awhile.  If we are living with our necks our there even slightly we will have to face moments that require epic character.  But here’s something to consider.  What if we are waiting for our character to grow just as we are waiting to be heroes?  What if we are missing on pondering our character in the mundane and cultivating it there?  Maybe the big moments aren’t where the character is developed but merely proven.  What if we’re just living to prove ourselves?  I think we could be missing out if we aren’t careful.

We might want to consider the scary thought of having to be intentional in the daily to becoming a person of true character.  I don’t want to reach the end of my life realizing that I have mostly the character of a person I don’t admire because I didn’t put in the effort in the moments that counted but looked boring so I passed them by.

I feel that we have to let go of hoping to be a person of integrity in a moment of grandeur but instead take it seriously when we are at the office when the boss is away that week.  I feel that we might only have a handful of moments between now and our last breath where we could see that we were an epic hero and maybe even less than that.  My point is that your character matters now.  It matters today when you walk into work this morning.  It matters when you pick up the kids from school this afternoon. When you say ask for forgiveness from your spouse.  It’s in all of the mundane and unacknowledged moments.

My hope is to encourage you to know that who you are is only who you see in the mirror today.  We might never be a hero as we picture heroes but we can have a choice to build and grow heroic hearts every day. We always have the choice of character.

So with whatever you are living for, live it well my friend.

With so much love,

Sara

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Fly Fishing: Present vs. Positive

DSC_0998.jpgYou been casting, casting, casting and casting all morning.  No luck. No hits. Nada. Are there even fish in this river?  Wait obviously there is.  This is the Mighty Mo you Space Cadet!

I have found so much value in mornings like that.  It requires for me to stop being overly positive in what I have tied to the end of my line and to look around and see what I haven’t taken in.  What bugs are out right now?  Do I have a fly convincing enough for a fish?   Am I mending my line so my fly is keeping pace with the right water? Oh crap, maybe if I slowed down to take a look I might have noticed  that I’ve had a bunch of slime caught on my fly for the last half hour.  If I were a fish I wouldn’t want fresh water kelp on my breakfast either.

I can also see the times when I have been stubbornly casting the same fly I had tied on that morning because I simply don’t want to switch out what I got on.  You could say that I was staying positive about what I already had.  I’ll admit that sometimes with a bit of patience I might get a hit eventually by staying positive but it usually doesn’t pan out as well as the other times when I took in what I needed to adjust and did.

The funny thing is that this conversation just became a lot more than fly fishing.  Lately I have heard and seen so much where people are throwing out the mantra to “stay positive”.  Oddly, I have found a recoil in my gut every time I hear that and I have been asking myself why for the last few days.  Isn’t it good to stay positive?  Shouldn’t we keep persevering by staying upbeat, happy, and positive?  Do I think negativity is a healthier alternative?  What am I missing? What the heck does staying positive do for me when I need to stop, breathe, and take in what I need to process in my life?

I guess where I get the recoil from is that there have been times that I have been told by well meaning friends to “just stay positive” that did more damage than good or did nothing at all for me.  It was like they were throwing out words that have the same effect as comfort food in the way they look good, taste good and are empty calories.  I knew that there was something I needed to get through a time of learning, but being positive wasn’t all of it.  That advice made me feel inadequate.

I feel like if I were a soldier running into the fight I wouldn’t need my commander to yell “stay positive!!!!” to me.  What the heck does that do for me when my army is getting torn down by the enemy and I have to survive despite my wounds, the blood on my face and the odds stacked against me?  I think I would want him to tell me to “stay present!” instead.  A battle might be a dramatic example (especially when this started out as a conversation about fishing) but for a few of us, life might be a battle as we sift through anxiety, disconnection and depression.

It seems like people who have stayed present in their circumstances have the ability to see their end game despite of what is casting a shadow over them.  I feel like the times when I had to go through growth that hurt I had to just look at where to place my footing next.  When I stopped telling myself to be positive and instead acknowledge when I was lonely, anxious, or belligerent I was able to see life without rose colored glasses.  I could see what I need to develop and even to extent of admitting my need for help that otherwise might had been lost if I just kept telling myself to see the bright side.  If I “stayed positive” I never would have walked into my therapist’s office.  I never would had called my mom when I needed advice.  I wouldn’t have asked my husband for forgiveness when I needed to ask it of him.

By choosing present over positive I found something deeper than an exterior perception to aim for. I found hope instead.

Hope. Let’s talk about that.  I feel that’s a concept that has a bit more meat on the bones than positive.  Hope can always be within you even when you are seeing the reality of what’s surrounding you.  It can be in your soul even when you can’t smile and doesn’t have the shallow requirement to be happy the way that positive does.  You can see the light at the end of the grief, trial and pain.  I don’t think you can just step into hopefulness but rather it’s the product of seeing what needs to be done and finding the tools to do it.  It’s the assurance of things unseen by having the audacity to get through today.  Hope is the souls gumption to survive.

My sincere desire is to let you know that you are not failing for not seeing the bright side today.  Please stop feeling like a letdown because you haven’t been able to smile as brightly as you used to. Maybe we need to stop making others feel inadequate by throwing around shallow advice but instead just sit down, let them verbalize what they’re processing, tell them we love them and say that it’s okay to cry.  Maybe this means looking at yourself in the mirror and saying “I’m done doing this alone”.  It could mean walking into a therapist’s office for the first time.  Talking to your spouse about the hidden addiction. Or to put on those gym shoes collecting dust.  It means doing whatever it is you know in your heart needs to be done and finding the support to do it.

Like fly fishing maybe we can be done with casting that same old fly that worked last week.  Look around, see what’s actually happening on the water and tie on something new and see what you land.

With so much love,

Sara

 

Fly Fishing: What Most Days Are Like . . .

DSC_3434.jpgSo this week hasn’t been the hottest for landing fish for me.  I got out on the river four nights and didn’t land a single one.  It’s one thing to have a fish on, battle with him a bit and lose him despite your best effort so at least you can come up with an excuse for why he got away, and entirely another when you seriously suck. A couple nights ago I missed about a dozen hits for no good reason at all. Last week I had fabulous luck with a big ugly hopper that was attracting fish with every other cast and now this week the fish have changed their minds yet again.  Picky little turds!  And everyone can stop telling me to use a size 20 snarky pale little dry fly.  What is the point of tying that one on when I can’t see the darn thing out there?  In my opinion the best fly to tie on is the one you can actually see!

Of course I’m not gonna walk around saying “Hey, today was the best day of fishing ever. Nope, I didn’t catch anything but I learned so much. They all got away and it was awesome!”.  Nah, I’m gonna post pictures of when I land pigs so that you can always think that I spend all of my time being the best fly fisher ever.

My point is that even fly fishing can breed contempt the more familiar I become to it.  Most of the time literally is spent switching out flies, casting, snagging a tree on my back cast, climbing trees, casting, casting, casting, watching my husband catch lots of fish, and myself not seeing much action while saying under my breathe “It’s not fair”.  But then there are those few moments of fighting fat fish, landing them and remembering that jolt of excitement you get that erases the hours of all the mundane stuff.  I feel like fly fishing is such an example of the rest of my life; which is that there are those moments in between the work and learning that are amazing, but if I’m not careful those glorious moments will eliminate and misplace the value of where most of my time is spent in the daily.

You don’t see any of us taking selfies whilst opening bills, getting the oil changed (I’m overdue on that), snagging flies on our waders, walking from the car to the office, telling your kid that they don’t need another cup of water tonight and to get back to bed (for love of God!!!) and all the other things that are required of us to make our worlds go round. We all define ourselves by our triumphs, the moments when we reached the summit, got that degree, walked down the aisle, see our kids take their first steps and all of those sorts of milestones.

But what about what makes the most of who you are and where the majority of your time is spent?  Why is there no praise for that?  Did you feel a dose of profound humility in the moment when you won the challenge? Or can you place the humbling times better in the hours of work, monotony, and having to ask for help over and over again from others who are better than you?

As a newlywed I can see how I need to choose to take in those moments with my husband that aren’t just when we’re looking like a couple of cool kids loving life out on the river or traveling to incredible places but rather when we are talking candidly about finances, how much money to put into my car, and the phone calls we get at the end of the day when he’s away for work (if we’re lucky enough that he’s got service wherever he’s at).  We have mountains and valleys in our lives but do you see us staying on top of our peaks continually?  No, you don’t.  I absolutely feel that we need our times on the mountain top but to not misplace all our value by thinking it’s all in those sole moments of standing there.  We are designed for spending the majority of life in the valleys, climbs, and the way back down.  It’s where we forgive, grow, love and live.

Life requires each of us to put in passionless hours, hard work, failures, resets and the choice to never let go of hope that we are becoming who we are called to be in the end.  Our character is never made when the moment doesn’t require it of us.  Marriage doesn’t last because you feel exactly how you felt on the day of your wedding but rather by the continual choice to honor and to love even when love is costing you a lot.  Careers don’t happen because you absolutely love what you do all the time all day long and if that were the case we would all quit our jobs by next Thursday and not even try to make it to the weekend.

So when you are looking at pictures of other people living grand adventures, making friends with cool people, relationships that are thriving, and families that are getting along perfectly don’t loath yourself by comparing while you’re sitting at the kitchen table avoiding the dinner dishes at 10:45 pm on a Saturday night.  Please don’t do that to your soul.  Just realize that for every one of us humans, most of the time surrounding our defining moments is mundane but it’s time that’s valuable because it’s making us us.  See your own value in those times when you are doing the best for your kids, when you have to admit you need advice in relationship, and when you decide that you need to see your counselor again.

Honor where your time is most spent by asking yourself what part of you needs to grow in this experience.  What can you learn?  Who do you need to encourage and affirm?  What can you do to help your spouse through this again?  What tools can you find to become well after being unhealthy for so long?

Don’t get me wrong.  I want every single time of fly fishing to be fabulous, and a lot of the time it’s not.  But I know that when the fish are being picky turds is when I’m learning the most.

With so much love,

Sara

Do You See the Value in Others?

DSC_1170.jpgHave you had those moments when you are at the counter of that little retail shop and the clerk manages to ask you “How’s it going?”?  But not just out of the obligatory sense because you’re upping their commission but from their genuine interest in how you will respond?  If you’re anything like me, you’ll feel that for some reason they recognize you as valuable.

Lately I’ve enjoyed a little internal process of attempting to recognize opportunities to do what I can to value people by asking questions and seeking reasons to give praise.  I have begun to realize that we all crave to be asked the questions but we’re all fearful to be the ones to ask them.  We may have this tendency to crave praise without giving it with our spouses, friends, children, coworkers and so on.  We want others see what we offer without having to prod them to recognize it.  Some of us may not crave relationship, sex, fame or fortune most of the time but I have this feeling that each of us always has the inherent desire to be valued in whatever unique way it is that we add value. In whatever sphere of influence you are existing in, you have the ability to help people realize their value, and it’s not that hard to accomplish.

Maybe you don’t even know how you add value beyond what your daily demands of you.  So I’ll ask you to consider trying this.  When you are interacting with someone with whom you have some bit of influence upon, intentionally find a question or a way to compliment them in a manner that’s relevant to the context of your relationship with them.  This is sounding borderline cheesy, but just see what this does to their demeanor.  You might see that they light up and start talking about their kids, or that they had a difficult time getting out of bed this morning.  But also, see what this does to your own heart.  When you begin to take on the opportunities to help people recognize their value, you will begin to find  that you’re able to see it for yourself.  And when you begin to value people you will come to love them.  And what is more noble than loving the people that you can love, and to love them well?

We live in a world where too many people feel too alone where they shouldn’t, so be the one to make a change in that feeling.  You don’t have to be an executive in a company to do this.  You have this opportunity as a parent, partner, employee, someones daughter, husband, etc.  Maybe you’re the one who feels alone.  The great thing about feeling alone is that the onus is on you all the more to help others not feel that way, and the place to start is with the simple interactions in your daily life.

In whatever context you are living in, just do your best to love people by valuing them.

With so much love,

Sara