It's Yours If You Want It

PERSPECTIVE.

That's what this week is all about for me.

Sometimes it takes shaking things up a bit to make us realize how blessed we really are.

 

 

I've had a hell of a couple of weeks.

Some big things are going on at work, and at home, and I've been stressed to the max.

Sometimes we come to a crossroads in life.  Or in our relationships.  Or our career. 

Sometimes we have to make a choice.  Make a turn in one direction or another, or stay where we are. 

I had a choice this week.  A big one.  I was told "It's yours if you want it" regarding more than one opportunity.

I had put myself out there, asked for something that I believed impossible, and the response was:  "Of course.  It's yours if you want it."

Ummm.  This caught me off guard.  I had expected rejection or a flat out NO.  But instead I got the opposite. 

So now I had to answer the real question:  Did I really want it?

You know, I think that a lot of life is easier than we think.  When we put ourselves out there and actually ask for something, it's not always that hard to get. 

The had part is deciding what to ask for.  The hard part is figuring out WHAT WE WANT.

When faced with this question this week, I realized that I had no idea what I wanted. 

And that's ok too.

We're allowed to try different things, to feel our way around until we find our sweet spot.  No one is born knowing exactly who they are and what their purpose is.  Well, at least not most people.  So why do we think that we have to get it right the first time?  Why do I feel like I get one shot at life, then I'm stuck with whatever that is for eternity? 

But when I realized this week that I had no idea what I wanted, I panicked.  I thought that it was black or white, take it or leave it.  I felt ashamed and embarrassed that I didn't know.  News flash:  no one knows! 

I've been learning a lot at work lately.  And by a lot, I mean a mind-blowing amount of new information bombards my brain every second of every day.  I say something foolish at least once every 5 minutes and blatantly reveal my ignorance to everyone around me.  I struggle and curse architecture school and The stupid Fountainhead for ever making me interested in architecture in the first place.  I have a stack of books a mile high at my desk because I have to look up EVERY SINGLE THING I do.  ALL DAY.  EVERY DAY.  It's exhausting.  And overwhelming.  And painful.  These growing pains suck. 

And I'm tired.  I'm emotional.  I'm hormonal.  I want to sit and cry a lot.  I want to bawl my eyes out, gnash my teeth, howl and moan like a wild wildebeest.  I want to let it all out.  I am STRESSED.  I want to drink wine all day.  I want to complain to anyone who will listen.  I want to talk incessantly about myself and my hard times. 

BUT, when I put on my perspectacles, as Glennon Doyle Melton would say, I also realize that I am so lucky.  I am finally in the arena; I am facing my biggest fear in life, I'm struggling to develop into the architect that I know I'm capable of being... and I have an office full of people who support and encourage me every step of the way.  I have decades of cumulative knowledge within 10 feet of me.  My pals John, Randy, Jim & Donna are more than willing to help me and explain things to me and share their knowledge.  Sometimes I don't even have to ask... they sense me struggling and come to my rescue before I even know I'm in trouble.  What an amazing gift that I have been given!

So I try to control my howling and gnashing of teeth.  I don't let it all out...well, ok, maybe some of it.  But most of it I keep inside.  Why?  Well, because that wouldn't be very attractive now, would it?  And also because this is what I wanted!  This is what I've been waiting for.  This very opportunity to learn, to gain experience, to have my own project and be responsible for it's success or failure.  That is what I've been wishing and waiting and asking for for years, and I'm not gonna blow this opportunity now by complaining about every second of it. 

But now that it's here and I'm in the middle of it, I'm asking IS THIS STILL WHAT I WANT?  I'm allowed to change my mind, you know.  I'm allowed to try something and decide it's not for me, and move on to the next thing - guilt free. 

But do you know what I have decided?  Yes.  This is still what I want.  I thought I wanted the other thing, but maybe I was just trying to escape from the thing I already have because its hard.  And I wanted an out.  But I am happy where I am.  I'm learning.  I'm growing.  The stress and the struggle are worth it to me right now.  That might not always be the case, but right now, I'm exactly where I WANT to be.

So here I am, at the end of this stressful, emotional, exhausting week, in the exact same place that I started out on Monday.  But the difference is that I'm changed.  I have a renewed sense of purpose and commitment to my life just as it is, and I'm filled with gratitude for what I already have.  I don't need a change.  I just need to appreciate how blessed I already am.

Are you where you want to be in life?  If you had an opportunity to make a change in your life, would you take it, or would you decide that you're actually good right where you are?

Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What's The Point?

Do you ever find yourself at work or in life wondering: What is the point of all of this?

I certainly do.  And I've spent countless hours, read hundreds of books, and poured my heart out in the pages of my journal trying to answer that question.  What's the Point?

I had a conversation with a guy at a bar years ago about our career aspirations and life in general, and he said something that I'll never forget.  "I always knew that I was meant to work on something special."

Although I had never put it into those words, I realized that I had always felt the same way - like a yearning and a knowing deep in my soul.

I want to work on something special.

I think we all long to do something special.  We all long to do meaningful work that makes us happy and makes the world a better place.  We all long to do something special in our private lives, to BE someone else's someone special.  We all want to feel love and acceptance and value.

The bar guy told me all about his job at a national security complex, and how he was finally doing his something special; he was living his dream.  Despite the trials and the difficulties of his work, he made a point to keep the idea that he was doing something special at the front of his mind.  I'm sure that was great motivation for him when the job got hard, or boring, or mundane... he just checked in with himself and remembered that THIS IS MY SOMETHING SPECIAL.

Sometimes I struggle with finding this kind of meaning in my day-to-day life.  I wonder WHAT'S THE POINT?  I want to help others, and have a purposeful existence.  I enjoy my work enough, but I don't always see an immediate connection between what I'm doing and how it is making the world a better place.  I have trouble sometimes stepping back and looking at the big picture of not just what I'm doing, but why I'm doing it. 

Last week, I was able to make that connection in a real and immediate way at work, and it felt amazing.

I met with one of my company's school clients to select interior finishes for their project.  The project manager and I sat with the school principal for hours, pouring over tiny squares of fabric and color, making sure we found just the right shade of gray.  As we got to each different classroom, the principal called in additional opinions.  The band director had input on what she wanted in her room - nothing to busy but something that hides dirt well; a splash of color on the walls.  Then the art teacher got to select colors for her new art room - she wanted black counter tops and tack boards to set the background for the student artwork.  She hadn't seen the design for her new space yet, so we walked her through it on the drawings.  She practically cried with happiness when she saw the new space that she was receiving.  This new school, this classroom, it was HER space.  She would spend eight hours every day for years to come existing in this space that WE created.  

At some point during this encounter, it dawned on me that something I had helped to create affects her happiness so directly,  and THAT is something special indeed!

I was talking with a very wise man this week, and he said to me:  "Haley, the Point is LOVE."  Our purpose in life and in work is to grow in love and acceptance of ourselves and one another.  It's that simple.  And the good news is that we can do that WHEREVER we are.  It doesn't matter if I'm designing skyscrapers in New York City, or picking out colors for someone's bathroom, or raising small children at home.  In any of these situations, I have the opportunity to love the people around me; to love myself; to accept myself as I am; to accept others as they are; to be compassionate.  No matter what situation I find myself in, the point remains the same:  LOVE.

What's your something special?  How do you find meaning in your day to day life?  Let me know in the comments below how you express LOVE in your work or in your life?  I'd love to hear from you!

Till next time,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Why I left Tribe Conference in Tears

I attended Jeff Goins' first ever Tribe Conference this weekend in Franklin, TN.  It was absolutely amazing and blew my mind in ways I never even dreamed possible.  This was my first writing conference.  Being new to the writing world, I had no idea what to expect, and I certainly didn't expect to cry.

But, I must admit that I cried the entire weekend.  I cried at the very beginning when Ally Vesterfelt told us to embrace the rawness and realness of our own voices, and told the stories of how she and her father found their voices amidst the least desirable of circumstances.  And I cried until the very end when Grant Baldwin encouraged us to take care of ourselves, our health, and our families as we do great things in this world, because without those things, what is the point of great success at work. As I listened to each amazing speaker, different parts of my soul called out in recognition and yearning for the lives these extraordinary people were living, the things they were building, and the impact that they were making in this world.  I held back my tears as best I could, although several made their way down my cheeks as I watched Jeremy Cowart's illustration of his story of overcoming self doubt and realizing that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, and the amazing work that he is doing with his photography in Haiti and Rwanda.  

As the last speaker left the stage, and Jeff wrapped up with the story of his own high school experience with fitting in, coping with death, and embracing community, I couldn't hold back the flood any longer.  I quickly said my goodbyes and dashed out of the meeting room as the tears came freely: waves of joy, sadness, pain, frustration, regret, hope, determination, a lifetime worth of searching and waiting and quietly doing my work, and most of all, gratitude.  Gratitude for finding a place that felt like home, for hearing a familiar language that I have been searching for my entire life, for finding my voice, for recognizing the best of what I have to offer the world and making a plan to share it, and most importantly, at long last, for finding my Tribe.    

Till next time,

Haley

 © Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Mommy Blogs, Penis Etiquette, and the Search for Meaning

Yesterday, after shopping for baby shower gifts for two of my girlfriends, I told my husband, Dan I wasn't sure I even wanted to keep trying to have a baby of our own anymore.  I meant it. 

Today, I told him I want to adopt a Guatemalan baby.  I meant that too.  And tomorrow, who knows where the wind may blow my fickle fertility preferences.  It's all so very confusing.

I've been reading a lot of mommy blogs here lately.  I like to say that I read them to "broaden my horizons", but really I think it's because I love torturing myself.  Because every time I read a mommy blog, I'm jealous of the writers' poignant stories about finding the sacred in the midst of the mundane experiences of raising children.  It seems like, for these ladies, raising kids has a way of putting things into perspective, and making them realize what really matters in life.  It seems like they have a bird's eye view of the true meaning of our existence here on earth that I don't have access to.

I feel the same twinge of jealousy when I listen to my friends and coworkers and random strangers talk about their kids.  They tell stories of the adorable and ridiculous things these tiny little humans do, and I can't help but feel like I live on some entirely different planet.  I struggle to relate to them.  The other day, some friends of mine, who are parents of young boys, were bemoaning the constant talk about penis etiquette in their homes.  I cannot EVEN wrap my head around that one.  The thought of Dan and I someday having these kinds of conversations in our home seems hilarious and impossible.  This makes me feel like I'm missing out on something very strange and important.

But as I was worrying about not being in on the parenting gig, and wondering if I'm somehow missing the whole point, I realized that even though I'm not raising children, I have my own opportunities to find meaning, purpose, and grace in my life.  I have my own people to love on.  I have my own life to live.  And even though God has chosen not to put any little ones in it for now, that doesn't mean that I can't keep evolving as a human being.  I realized that my major opportunities for love and growth are in my relationships and my work.  

So I choose to focus on those things.  I will keep on putting my heart and soul into my marriage and my friendships and my family and my job and my writing and my art.  And I will keep on loving my mommy friends and listening to their stories and learning from them.  And who knows, maybe someday I will have a little Guatemalan baby of my own and I can join in on that strange and important adventure.

Much Love,

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Capture Your Creativity - Step 3: Get Real (And Start Where You Are)

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So far in this series, I've talked about the first two steps in learning how to live your best creative life:  Step 1:  Tune In, and Step 2:  Face Your Fears.  Today I want to talk about Step 3:  Get Real (and Start Where You Are).  This step serves as a reality check and a kick in the butt!  It was just the push that I needed to really make changes in my life.

Here's the deal:  You are not going to be able to create award winning art at first.  You will not write a best-seller the first time you put your thoughts down on paper.  You are going to go through the learning process just like everyone else on the planet.  No one is perfect, everyone is a beginner at some point or another.  This was a huge problem for me.  I had been carrying around this grandiose notion in the back of my mind for years that I was an artist, but I wasn't actually creating art.  News flash:  Just thinking about it does not count.  You are not going to improve while you sit around thinking.  The journey doesn't start until you do.  As Marie Forleo says:  "Clarity comes from engagement, not thought." 

For so many of us, perfectionism keeps us locked in inaction.  It makes us think:  "I'm not going to get started until I know that I will succeed" or "I don't want to look stupid if I make a mistake so I just won't do anything."  But this is keeping us from the very thing that we need to do to move forward, which is learn from our mistakes.  Lots of experts will recommend that you do a certain number of projects, just to throw them away.  So, if you're an artist, go ahead and do 10 paintings that you know you are going to chunk, just to get your juices flowing.  Or write 10 blog posts that you know you will never post.  I know this may sound like a waste of time, but you are not going to improve until you have put in the time and effort to develop your skills.  There is no shortcut to this.  You have to be honest with yourself about where you are currently, and what it is going to take for you to get to where you want to be.  Then you have to take action.  Consistent action.  Every day.

Get Real also means not expecting too much from yourself and your circumstances.  Maybe you have obligations such as children or aging parents or providing for yourself and your family, and you cannot just quit what you are doing to chase after your dreams.  So What.  Do what you can within the constraints of your current circumstances.  Stop putting off starting until things are perfect.  Start where you are.  Elizabeth Gilbert suggests that when the heroine of the story can't manage a full-fledged heroine's journey, that she opt for a mini-quest instead. This is something that can be accomplished within the span of an afternoon.  Challenge yourself to find something beautiful, create a ritual around releasing something in your life that is troubling you, do whatever feels right for you within the constraints of your current circumstances.   Your goal doesn't have to be a life changing event that would require you to become an entirely different person.  Your goal can simply be to start carving out an hour here, two hours there to devote to yourself and your creative life.  It doesn't sound quite as glamorous as a life-changing experience, but it is realistic, and that's what we're going for.

For me, Getting Real meant that I could not quit my day job to pursue my passions.  I have bills and obligations and student loans that are not going to wait around for me to find myself.  So I have to work around them.  In fact, my working life has provided invaluable material for my art.  I face challenges at work that show me where I need to focus my attention, where I need to grow.  Life is what gives us creative material.  I had the opportunity to not work for several months a few years ago and it was disastrous.  Instead of using the time to focus on my art, I spent the entire time desperately searching for a job, anxious and lacking direction.  I realized during that time that I need structure in my life.  And a full-time job provides just that for me.   Sure, sometimes it is the absolute pits to have to leave my own personal projects to go work on someone else's all day, only to come home in the evening too tired to do anything that I had planned, but at least it keeps me interested and on my toes and excited about my work when I do have the time to focus on it. 

But here's the really cool thing that I've learned:  You will get where you need to go no matter which path you choose or which road you are on in life.  It does not matter if you are working full-time, caring for your family, and juggling a variety of other obligations, or if you are able to devote 100% of your time to your creative life.  If you are awake and aware and consistently facing your fears and tuning into your inner voice, you cannot go wrong.  It took me a while to understand this.  For years I worried that I had chosen the wrong path, that I was spending my time on the wrong things, that I was going to miss the thing that I was born to do.  Not gonna happen!  A great illustration of this concept is Santiago's journey in Paulo Cuelo's book The Alchemist.  Santiago learns what he needs to know in all of the different things that he does along his journey and all of those things ultimately lead him to his treasure.  But the key is... he makes the most of each situation that he finds himself in.  When he is a shepherd, he is the best shepherd that he can be.  When he works in a shop selling crystal, he excels there and helps the shop owner to make more money than he ever thought possible.  Neither of those jobs were his ultimate destiny, but they were practical situations in which he could learn the skills that he needed for the long term.  That is how life is.  Everything that we do along the way is leading us to our destiny, we just have to trust the process.

So, I challenge you to take the first step to get started on that project that you've had in the back of your mind for months (or even years!).  I challenge you to schedule time for yourself this week, to do whatever you need to do to feed your creativity.  I challenge you to Get Real, acknowledge your situation, and then Take Action in whatever way you can.  Let me know how it goes!

Must Read for "Get Real":  The Alchemist by Paulo Cuelo.  Also, watch Elizabeth Gilbert's conversation with Oprah on 'Mini-quests' here.

Next time I'll talk about Step 4:  Take Yourself Seriously.

See you then!

Haley

© Haley McManigal 2015

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Photo credit:  © Stevanovicigor | Dreamstime.com - Start Line Photo

Are You a Writer?

Many years ago, I had a conversation with a random guy at a bar.  It was one of those special conversations that allows you to see things in a different way, one that makes you question some things that you have never thought to question before, one of those conversations that changes everything.

 We were talking about our passions in life and I was telling him about my cakes and my addiction to journaling and he said “So you’re a writer?”  Well, no, not really, I just write in my journal a lot.  “So you write?”  Well, yes, but only in a journal.  “Then you’re a writer.”  This conversation has really stuck with me over the years, and I think about this concept a lot. 

Am I a writer?  Am I an architect or an artist for that matter?  What makes one qualified to claim a title?  I feel comfortable claiming that I am an architect because I have put in my time and passed the state licensing exams.  But a writer?  Maybe I don’t feel qualified because I don’t have any formal training, or because I haven’t had anything published or been paid to write.  Its the same with art.  I have a minor in art, and a degree in graphic design, but I still feel a little weird calling myself an artist.  But here’s the thing:  I feel driven to write and to create art.  I know that whatever comes along in life, I will continue to participate in those activities no matter what.  I will find a way, I will work it in – whether or not I get paid for it – because I have to.  When I don’t write and when I don’t create art something is missing and I’m  not completely myself.  So, which is more qualifying:  getting paid to do something, or knowing in your soul that you have to do it?

I’ve been a closet writer for a very long time, filling thumb drives with more crap than anyone would ever care to read.  But I finally got to a point where I realized that I had to start putting myself out there.  I had to get this out.  I was about to explode.  So I started my blog, and I’m starting to submit my writing to various publications as opportunities arise.  I realized very recently that I finally have something to write about.  I have gone through a lot of crap and figured a lot of stuff out through my writing.  And it’s pretty ironic that the very things that I have figured out through writing are the things that I feel the need to share…my struggle with finding my place in this world, my journey to loving and accepting myself as I am, my search for my purpose in life.  Those very struggles are what have given me something to write about.  I had a major aha moment when I realized this.  Every single trial, obstacle, problem, and painful situation that I have ever encountered were really just God giving me something to write about.  I love this.  What problems are you encountering right now?  Try to realize that they are gifts.  God is giving you something to write / sing / paint / whatever about.  Whatever it is that you do will inevitably have a deeper meaning and a stronger impact on others after you have crawled through the trenches and emerged on the other side and can share what you have learned.  It will carry your blood, sweat and tears; it will have a part of your soul and your struggle in it.  And others will connect with that, because they will recognize their own journey in it.

© Haley McManigal 2014

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Haley McManigal and haleymcmanigal.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

That awkward moment when....

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the fragile, terrifying, and utterly exhilarating act of  putting yourself out there and going for something that you want.  I think of the times that I have scoffed at someone doing something new or different or out of character for them.    In the past, I would look at someone awkwardly going for their dream with pity, I was embarrassed for them, bless their heart.  But now, I only notice the beauty in these acts.  I smile every time I see someone making a fool of him/herself trying something new.  I cheer when I see young people trying to grow into a role they aspire to.  I used to think of these kinds of things as someone trying to be something that they are not.  I used to see these people as amateurs or wannabes.  Especially myself, I was so uncomfortable putting myself out there to experiment with new and different things…  I didn’t want to be a fraud or a fake.  The part that I didn’t realize though is that no one is born knowing what they want to make out of life.  You have to try different things on for size.  Sometimes they work out, sometimes they do not.  But trying is the only way to find out. Now, I realize that when myself or others reach toward different and greater things in life, maybe instead of trying to be something that we are not, we’re simply learning how to be what we are.

How do you know when it's "right"?

For some reason, I expect that when something is “right” in my life, I will hear angels sing and be in a constant state of euphoria, a happiness induced high that will last forever.  But lets get real, that’s ridiculous.  What I have experienced in real life instead, when something is “right”, is more like blankness or indifference.  It’s kind of like when you have a toothache.  Until you have the toothache, you never even give your teeth a second thought, its like they are not even there.  But when it starts to hurt, you can’t get it off you mind, it’s always there nagging you to fix it.  How unfair to your poor teeth that they never get any attention until something is wrong!  But that’s how I experience life situations too. 

For example:  When I got married, I quit my job and moved to Nashville.  I didn’t have any idea what a major effect it would have on me.  I was excited for the new adventure and excited for our new life together there.  But after a few months, I knew that it was not right.  I didn’t want to admit it or accept it and I definitely did not want to ask Dan to leave his new job, but I was miserable.  I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was so wrong about it, but I just knew that it was not right.  Luckily, Dan was feeling the same way, and we got ourselves back home.  Now that we’re back in Knoxville, it is not like I’m ecstatic to be here.  I am just at peace with living here.  I don’t even think about it.  There is just a sense of rightness, nothing profound or particularly enlightening, just a simple knowing that I am where I’m supposed to be.  This experience is much less glamorous or exciting than the singing angels that I imagined, but that's ok.  It's reality, and it's my life, so I'll take it.

I sometimes wonder if I’m on the right track in certain areas of my life.  My career has been that nagging toothache for a while now, something that I just can’t get off my mind.  But lately with my new job, I’m starting to think about it less and less, which in my experience is a good thing.  A very good thing indeed!  I used to wonder the same thing in relationships until I met my wonderful husband Dan.  Now, I never question my relationship with my husband.  We fight sometimes and have our issues just like every other couple on the planet, but I do not sit around wondering if maybe I should not have married him.  It almost seems too simple, but if you are questioning something at all, then it is probably not right.  Maybe its not entirely wrong either, but something just needs to be adjusted so that you can get back to that peaceful place. 

.I want to get to that place of peace in every area of my life.  Some days I feel like I’m getting pretty close, and others I feel like I may never get there.  But then again, I’m alive - and trials and challenges and growth are what it means to live.  So maybe I should just embrace the challenges and enjoy the ride.

Just Do It

Have you ever heard or read something that felt like a kick in the pants (or a blow to the ego)?  Yeah, that just happened to me.  Over the last several years, I have been so busy trying to figure out what my purpose in life is, that I have been procrastinating actually doing anything.  I’ve been stuck in my head.  I’ve been paralyzed by fear and self-doubt and the endless cycle of thinking too much.  I was brought back to reality when I heard Marie Forlio say this: “Clarity comes from engagement, not thought.”  Aha moment!  I have been really scared of doing the wrong thing or wasting time doing something that is not my life’s purpose.  But that is nonsense.  That is the only way to grow.  Failure is the quickest path to success.  Thinking about something does not count as putting in your time.  Your 10,000 hours start when you stop thinking and start doing!  Maybe you will start something and soon after decide that its not for you.  Awesome!  Now you know and you can move onto something else.  In the words of my dear husband  “Life is only a waste if you don’t learn from the experiences it bestows upon you."

Do What You Can

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For many years, I have been trying to figure out WHAT I am SUPPOSED to be doing with my life.  It finally dawned on me that I have been asking myself the wrong question.  I’ve been thinking about my situation all wrong.  For years, I have been beating myself up, desperately searching for  my elusive “purpose” in life.  I’ve been expecting something to fall from the heavens or come knocking on my door in the middle of the night, and present itself on a silver platter.  I’ve been giving my power away.  What I finally realized is that there is no one thing that I am “supposed” to be doing.  I am not going to miss out on “the one thing” that I should have done with my life.  Rather than  asking myself “what SHOULD I do?”, I need to start asking “what CAN I do?”  This changes everything!  First of all, it puts me in the drivers seat as the navigator of my own destiny.  Secondly, it eliminates all sense of pain and regret about my life’s work so far.  I have not missed out… instead, everything that I have done up until now has been preparing me for this and the challenges ahead.  I’ve been mistakenly thinking that my purpose lies elsewhere, somewhere completely outside and separate from what I am doing now.  But that is such a waste of my valuable experience.  Why can’t my purpose naturally grow from what I am doing now?  I believe that it can.  So now, when I catch myself wringing my hands in angst asking GOD what in the world he wants from me, I stop, collect myself, and simply ask myself:  what do you want?  What can you do right now that will make your immediate situation better?  What can you start to do now that will make your situation better long-term?  What one thing can I do NOW that will take me in the direction of my dreams?   

We’ve all heard the wise quote:  “Do what you can, where you are, with what you have.”  This is the essence of personal responsibility.  It leaves no room for blame, or procrastination, or an endless search for meaning and fulfillment elsewhere.