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.

Here's What To Do When You Have No Idea What Will Make You Happy

I think about happiness a lot.  I wonder what it really is.  I wonder if I'm actually very happy and I just don't know it.  I wonder if any thing "out there" will make me any happier than I already am.  I wonder if making changes in my life will result in more or less happiness.  One of the strangest things that I've noticed about happiness is that I'm usually happiest when I'm not thinking about being happy.  I'm happy when I'm in the moment, when I'm living my life to the fullest, and not analyzing or brooding over whether I am happy or not.  

I read something about happiness yesterday that really struck me.

It was an article by Brianna Wiest at Soul Anatomy about emotionally intelligent people and things that they DON'T do.  

"They don't assume to know what it is that will make them truly happy.  Being that our only frame of reference at any given time is what's happened in the past, we actually have no means to determine what would make us truly happy, as opposed to just feeling "saved" from whatever we disliked about our past experiences.  In understanding this, they open themselves up to any experience that their life evolves toward, knowing there are equal parts good and bad in anything"

Just think about that for a minute...  How many of us are out there, frantically searching for what will finally, once and for all make us TRULY happy.  I know I've been guilty of that in my life.  But looking at it this way opens up a new way of thinking:  if we have absolutely no way of knowing what will truly make us happy, then the only sane option is to just embrace where we are and see where that takes us.  Wow, this takes the pressure off, doesn't it?

This week has been a roller-coaster of a ride for me.  I've been doubting and questioning lots of things, wondering what direction to go, what to focus on.  I've set sky-high expectations for myself and others that can only lead to disappointment.  But I'm realizing that all of the analyzing and planning I've been doing is totally and completely pointless and ridiculous, and all I really need to do is embrace where I am, and fully engaging with what I am doing.  Just DO and stop THINKING about the doing.    

How enlightening to think  "there are equal parts good and bad in anything".  To me, this means that one of the most important things that we can do in this life is cultivate our ability to find and focus on the good in any situation.  The negatives will always be there, no matter what changes we make or different things we try.  We just have to learn to Re-Frame a situation or circumstance to be able to see the positive.

What about you?  How do you define happiness?  Are you able to find and focus on the positive in any situation?  Let me know in the comments, I'd love to hear from you!

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.

 

The Crescent Moon Room Conundrum

I'm feeling a little guilty.

I wrote a blog post recently on the importance of telling our stories and sharing our truth.  And I try to do just that in my life.  But I remembered a situation from earlier that same week where I didn't abide by this rule.  I broke my own honor code.  It wasn't that I lied, I just didn't tell the whole truth.  And maybe it was no big deal, maybe it will make no difference whatsoever in the long run of my life what I did in that moment.  But it's bugging me, so I'm going to take this opportunity to set the record straight.

Here's what happened:

I was on a site visit for work.  We were tasked with assessing the cabins at a local State Park, so that we could write a recommendation letter for the necessary repairs, and then provide a construction cost estimate to go along with it.  There were several of us there: myself, the client, the park maintenance manager, and others - all of them men, and most of them much older than me.  At one point, they were teasing me about the fact that I was far too young to know the meaning of a slang term for "going to the outhouse".  This sparked an extended discussion of outhouses, and surprisingly, all of them had one at some point in their childhoods.  I smiled and laughed, but otherwise, I kept my mouth shut.

But here's the truth that I kept to myself that day:  When I was 8 or 9 years old, my family lived in a house in Speedwell, TN with no running water and... you guessed it:  an OUTHOUSE!  (In case you're wondering, the year was 1988-89ish, WELL after the advent of modern plumbing).  We didn't live there long, maybe 6 months.  And what a memorable 6 months it was!  But not for the reasons you might think.  

Because, strangely, when I think back on that time in my life and that house, I don’t really think about the outhouse, or the makeshift toilet in the kitchen, or the aluminum tub in the living room with second-hand bath water.  What I think about are the experiences that I had there; like picking blackberries on the mountain behind the house, or playing in the creek with the fun neighbor girl, or walking to the gas station down the road for candy, or getting to visit my grandparents more often when we went to their house to take real showers.        

I learned from this experience to value love and family and togetherness over material possessions.  I learned that happiness comes from being grateful for what you have, no matter how small, rather than from getting more.  It may not have been very convenient at the time, but I'm grateful for that lesson.  I'm grateful that I still carry that with me today, when the idea of a house with no running water seems as foreign as a third world country and excess is everywhere I turn.

And, honestly, that experience gave my family a time to pause and reset our priorities.  It gave us a break from the constant pursuit of MORE that we're all so accustomed to.  It gave us time to just be together, without worrying about the modern rat-race or keeping up with the Jones's.  

I have to ask myself why I didn't join in on the outhouse reveries with my colleagues that day.  I know those guys wouldn't have judged me, they all had similar experiences, and this was probably one of the few things I actually had in common with them.  But I really don't know why.  Maybe I was ashamed.  Maybe I wanted to be perceived a certain way by them, and I thought that disclosing that information would tarnish my reputation.  I just remember thinking to myself that no good could possibly come from me fessing up.  But I was wrong.  I should have owned my story that day, I should have stood in my truth and basked in the fact that I ONCE HAD AN OUTHOUSE.  Heck, it would have been a freakin' badge of honor with that crowd, what was I thinking!

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.

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.

Does Your Attitude Need a Gratitude Check?

A friend of mine asked me this week if I was enjoying my new house and getting settled in.  My new house...? I had to stop and think.  Oh yeah!  MY NEW HOUSE!  

The truth is, I haven't even thought about my house, or the fact that it is new, in weeks.  I still adore my new house, but I don't walk from room to room in awe like I did when I first moved in.  I don't pamper my new hardwood floors, or meticulously weed the flower beds, or select paint colors and decor in my head.  I have lived here only six short months, and already, I've become accustomed to this house and have begun to take it for granted.  I do all of the normal "home" activities here; eat, sleep, relax, read, whatever.  But the newness has worn off, and sadly with that, my gratitude has waned.  How quickly I forget.  

How quickly I forget that just six short months ago, this dream home was just that... a dream.  My dream come true actually.  After moving around from place to place for most of my life, I had always dreamed of my own home, somewhere that I could put down roots, raise kids, and live happily ever after.  I dreamed of this home for 20 YEARS, and it only took 6 MONTHS for my sense of gratitude and wonder to fade??  WTH.

I decided then and there to make more time for gratitude in my life.  Yes, I will always be working on the "next thing", and that is ok.  I'm an achievement oriented person, and I thrive on new ideas.  But that doesn't negate the fact that I have AN ENTIRE LIFE of beauty RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.  It is already there, I just need to notice it and take time to appreciate what I have right now on a regular basis.

I especially need to remember this when I'm down and out, wishing that I had this or could do that.  It's in those moments when I most need a (gr)attitude check.  When we focus on being grateful for what we HAVE, what we don't have seems irrelevant.  When I think of my many blessings, or how far I have come and all that God has given me in this life, how on earth could I possibly be down and out for not having more!  And what's worse, when I don't cherish the things and people that are in my life - when I don't take care of my house and my car and all of the nice things that I have been blessed with, or when I don't spend quality time with the people that I love, and make sure that they know how special they are to me - how could I dare ask God to give me more?!

Do you need a gratitude check in your life?  I hope that you take time everyday to really see all of your blessings and thank your lucky stars for them.  How quickly we forget. 

Gratefully yours,

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.