Sometimes, being brave is like eating stinky cheese

I just snuck away to the refrigerator for some late-night cheese. I’m not talking about a block of cheese or a slice of cheese. We’re talking some stinky, crumbly blue cheese that I had to scoop out of a tub and directly into my mouth.

Oh, the shame.

Was this a good life choice? I currently have zero regrets. I scanned the fridge for other potential snack items. My eyes landed on some suspiciously old-looking cherries, forbidden strawberries (the roommate’s), and chips atop the fridge that would make way too much noise and potentially stir the roommate should I open them… (it is, after all, MIDNIGHT.)

Point is… Other healthier options were clearly available to me. And yet, I stuck with my gut. I stuck with the cheese.

Sometimes, I make some pretty stinky blue cheese decisions in life that just feel right. Other decisions may look healthier, better for me, and like something I would usually  choose. Yet, there I am… at the midnight hour of the crux of decision-making, digging my fingers into the stinky cheese of life.

Maybe you can relate to this. Do you ever make a gut decision that, by all means, doesn’t seem like something you would ordinarily do? It’s not along the route you’ve been walking, and it maybe doesn’t make sense alongside all the other decisions you’ve been making for so long (re: it involves change). Yet, your gut/the Lord is saying, “walk along this path. Let go. It’s okay. Eat the stinky cheese of life, and trust it’ll be OK….”

Here’s the thing. I’ve been faced with a stinky cheese decision recently. Remember that time I said I was going to do a thirty day brave challenge and then disappeared for a month at the end? Oh yeah, that’s because being brave brings on the crazy. It’s also bringing on the change.

But first, my compadres: the crazy. The end of May was quite possibly two of the most ridiculous, eventful, good, and stressful weeks of my life. Here’s a summary of the effects of my Brave challenge, from Beginning of May –> End of May:

  • Jobless –> employed in sweet new job
  • Starting to pursue photography more –> Getting paid photography shoots (for the first time)
  • Afraid of running into my ex –> having a reconciling conversation that was so very healing (ok, that was June, but STILL. Really good.)
  • Having moneys –> Being almost broke (also for the first time)
  • Living far away from my job –> finding an incredibly affordable place to live for the summer much closer to work (also June… Brave ask, nevertheless!)

Lots of great things! And yet…. lots of things. By the end of May, I looked something like this:

hot_mess_1024x1024

Except maybe not as put-together as she is. Jewelry? Who has time for that?!

The Lord has been really good to me. Now, I’m faced with a pretty tough decision.

You see, I have an idea in my head of what I think I should be doing, and I’ve been moving in that direction. Yet, I’ve come to a point where I’m hitting a huge road block, and I don’t know why. I keep pushing and trying, and I feel a total lack of motivation and resistance. There’s an obstacle between where I stand now and the other side of the wall – where lies the very thing I’ve wanted for so long.

Have you ever felt that way before? Where you’ve wanted something for so long that you’re sure it’s right? It must be right! How could it not be? Everything you’ve done up until now has led to this!

Maybe, sometimes… just maybe… God is moving us in a different direction. Maybe He has something unexpected and better for us. Maybe there’s a different method to get to the other side of the wall, or maybe I won’t cross the wall at all.

I was talking with one of my best friends about this tonight, and she said, “God can steer a moving ship better than one that’s standing still, Lauren.”

It’s scary to move when you don’t know where you should go. When everywhere you’ve gone up til now was in one direction, and suddenly, you’re shifting course.

Where do you go when you shift course? Will there be sandy beaches and glorious sailing when you head that way? What’s in that direction?

I can’t see off into it. I don’t know, if I decide not to even try and cross the wall, if I’ll get the chance to do this same thing again. I thought (know) this is what the Lord called me to. I thought I had it all figured out.

I don’t know if I’m going to let go or not. The hard part about letting go is trust. Letting go doesn’t always mean “not ever.” It might just mean “not right now.” It might also mean, “this is still going to happen, it just might be in a different way than you were expecting.”

This is some real life FOMO. It’s taking some serious bravery to take a chance and be honest with where I am in the process so that I can move forward. The worst enemy of the great isn’t the bad, after all. It’s the good.

Sometimes we have to let go, even of something good, so that we can make space for the great. It takes faith to believe God is good. It takes faith to go for the stinky cheese.

Sometimes 15 minutes just isn’t enough

Hey you guuyyssss. Sorry for turning Saudi rapper and going M.I.A. on ya. This week has been crazy. Crazy good!… but… crazy.

Sometimes I wish I had more 15 minuteses in a day. Sometimes, fifteen minutes just isn’t enough time to do all the things I want to do.

However… it is enough time to get started.

This week has been a very brave week. I’m already starting to see amazing results from being brave – just for two weeks! Examples: That job I asked for at that company? Got an interview for it next week. The interviews I had last week with staffing firms? Worked one job this week and had two interviews today with great companies, one that I’m particularly excited about. The photography business I’m building on the side? Took a couples shoot of one of my favorite friend couples on Tuesday and ended up getting request for head shots and couples shoots across the board. (Holler if you want one!)

Wow. Can you believe all the awesome that happens when you have the courage and the faith to move forward and ask for it?

One of my good friends and one-half of one of my favorite couples EVER forwarded some sweet, holy wisdom the other day:

“One verse [to] meditate on is John 14:13. Trust that God will lead you and ask specifically for what God wants and for it to be clear as day. Pray in His name and you will see what He can do. Ask for the Holy Spirit to live in you more than ever before… [that] your vocational stuff may be clear as day and that you can hear the Lord so clearly it’s nearly audible! Praying for you…”

Word, G. Word.

I got to have drinks tonight with one of my amazingly talented friends and talk loads of photography, faith, and life. We got into the subject of having free will and also letting “Jesus take the wheel.”

I really sort of dislike that expression, BUT I think it brings up a great and long-running philosophical faith discussion of the balance of free will and God’s will. I think the thing is that we approach it as a balance and think that we can close our eyes, let go of the wheel, and trust that Jesus really will take the wheel. I don’t doubt that he can and he will, but I also think that maybe it’s not so much a balance of our will and God’s will as it is a perfectly integrated approach to life.

I’ve personally found that as I really start taking steps in faith and knocking on doors while also praying for the Lord to move and open doors, the right doors open. Oddly enough, the doors I end up walking through are often doors that come out of nowhere. But, they don’t open on their own. It takes initiative. I like the quote my friend often says where “it’s easier for God to guide a moving ship than a still one.”

After the momentum gets going from all this fancy initiative (cue Paragraph 4ish), I think that’s where the more than 15 minutes comes in. That’s where it really takes discipline to follow through on your dreams, whether that means consistently taking 15 minutes a day to reach out to people to build a business or taking an entire day to build a website. It could mean taking fifteen minutes to call someone and apologize or taking a few hours to talk through and restore a relationship. It can mean a number of things, and it can take a number of minutes more than just fifteen. I think God really honors that discipline and sowing the field as well, particularly when you’re prayerful and see how He guides your ship.

Fifteen minutes is enough to get it started. Fifteen minutes is enough to keep move forward. Fifteen minutes is also definitely enough to pray for both of these things.

I encourage you, my friends, to pray and to follow through.

So, do tell… What awesome things have been happening in your life? Where have you been brave this week?

#IwannaseeyoubeBrave #SaraBareilles….

{Day 6} What does George Michael have to do with my future? Everything.

Sometimes, as a blogger, the inspiration doesn’t come. Sometimes, when it does come, it comes in the form of an 80s pop idol.

Enter #GeorgeMichael.

It is ridiculous how catchy this song is. Anytime I find myself in a situation where I need a little faith, there’s George Michael. He’s waiting for me with his catchy, booty-shaking antics, beautifully feathered hair, and acid wash jeans, snappin’-and-a-singin’ “Cause I gotta have faith-uh-faith-uh-faith. I gotta have fai-aiiithhh.”

These days, I’m finding George Michael is right. George Michael is (almost) always right. I gotta have faith.

Faith is 100% requisite for moving forward, particularly when the going gets tough. And, for me, the going has been getting tough.

In 2014, I started the year with a strong feeling that it would be awesome. And, it was. It was the year of awesome. This New Year, I had a feeling 2015 would be tough. It has been a year of tough.

I was wondering about it yesterday – what’s the difference between last year and this year? Why is it that this year feels so much more difficult?

I figured it out. Last year, I had this bold recklessness that I was just going to do whatever I had always wanted to do. I wasn’t going to think about the critics. I wasn’t going to worry about the long-term. I was just going to pray and do it.

In a way, that was super refreshing, and I got to do a butt-ton of cool stuff because of it. But, now I’m here with fears, failures, and fiscal responsibilities weighing on me – the three Fs that spell and smell of adulthood.

Part of this whole 20-something adventure and the BRAVE challenge, for me, is learning how to be an adult. Being an adult doesn’t mean riding the roller coaster of your emotions, doing everything you want without giving it much thought, or not really having a plan or goal that you’re moving towards. I used to think being an adult sounded like being a party pooper, but it’s actually liberating to cast a vision for your future and have your decisions, prayers, financial choices, and life moving in that direction.

I think it’s liberating for this BRAVE challenge, too. Rather than going about this shindig haphazardly, I think it’s time to George Michael this business with some adult-like bravery. Here’s a little strategy that I believe will help us accomplish just that:

1. Pray – What are the challenges and goals you’d like to tackle during this time? What is holding you back from moving forward in faith?

2. Have Faith – Let go of the fear and worry. Have faith that God has got you, He loves you, He hears you, and that, if you’re in a tough spot, it won’t last forever.

3. Take Action – What is your goal? What are the little tiny baby-steps you can take each day to reach that goal?

I think these three are the building blocks of this BRAVE challenge. It all is centered on having faith.

When it comes to taking action, I love the Amy Poehler quote where she says, “Great people do things before they’re ready.” That’s freaking scary, Amy. And yet… inspirational.

My sister’s friend did that. She was telling me the story of how she didn’t know much about photography and hadn’t done much with it. Yet, one day, she just decided to advertise to people asking if they wanted photo shoots, went out and bought the equipment, and did the shoots. I was so impressed with her ballsiness and realized, “why can’t I do the same thing?” The only things holding me back are the fear of failure and a lack of faith.

Here’s the thing: Failure is inevitable. You will fail at something someday. If you spend your time trying to avoid it and being afraid of going after what you want, you will fail along the way. If you spend your time running hard after what you care about and diving full-in with the gifts God gave you, you will fail along the way. You just will. It’s human nature.

So, if we’re going to fail at something someday no matter what we do, let’s fail big! Greater falls come with greater lessons. The harder you fall, the stronger you will be when you get back up again.

So yesterday (#HilaryDuff), my moment of brave was a really tough emotional conversation with my mom about our relationship and manner of communication. It got vulnerable, and it took some bravery to be that vulnerable. Today, I applied for a job I’d really love and reached out to someone asking them to forward my resume to the hiring manager. That took some bravery. (I’m afraid of and don’t like asking for help. I’m a bit stubborn and proud, really, and also afraid of rejection.)

Here’s my challenge for you today: go through the building blocks. Take a second to get before the Lord and ask: What are the things I’ve always wanted to do? What are the gifts you’ve given me? What are the little tiny baby steps I can take to move towards those things?

Write them down. Keep praying. Keep the faith! The Lord can and will open doors, my friend. I’ve already seen Him start to!

SHARING TIME! (Sharing is caring…)

What did you do today for your 15 minutes of BRAVE? Share it in the comments below! Post it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or send me a message! Tag it with #BRAVE and #GeorgeMichael. Just because.

You could even take a selfie with your best George Michael power pose and Snapchat it to me (@odderball). #GeorgeMichael

George Michael of Wham performing live on stage during their farewell concert

{Day 3} The FOMO is real

Last night, I had the opportunity to hang out with three very special friends from the college years. We were sitting outside one of my favorite people-watching cafes in Arlington talking about introversion and extroversion (a favored topic).  Our table was half and half – two outgoing introverts and two outgoing extroverts. If you don’t know me that well, I 100% belong to the extrovert category.

Later in the evening, my other extroverted compadre and I were trying to find something to do. As were sitting in the car coordinating plans over text, we talked about this mysterious concept of saying “no” to hanging out with people. For all you introverts out there, this particular gift comes easily to you… and, occasionally, we envy it. My friend and I came to the conclusion that we are people pleasers who have a difficult time saying no to hanging out with people. That, or we’re afraid of missing out on the fun. Aka we has the FOMO.

For those of you who don’t speak text language, FOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. It’s a real thing.

Our convo got my gears turning today. Why is it that we’re so afraid of missing out? What’s at the root of that fear?

I think it’s because I am not wholly accepting and loving myself for who I am, and, therefore, I’m seeking that acceptance and love from other people. I think that’s why we become people-pleasers – because we want to be well-liked. There’s validation in being well-liked. That’s why I don’t want to turn anyone down for a hangout sesh. I want to be there for that person, and I also want them to like me. There’s genuineness in spending time getting to know them, but there’s also an undercurrent of fear. If I turn them down, I’m afraid that they won’t like me as much or that they’ll stop inviting me if I’m not there to hang out one time (the FOMO).

Never you fear, my extroverted companions. Introverts have people-pleasing tendencies, too. In fact, I think it’s a normal part of our life. The weird thing I’m finding is how often we can act out of fears like these rather than our faith.

Since beginning this #15minutesofBRAVE journey, my fears jumped from subtle to obvious in my mind. Little degrading thoughts are popping up everywhere, battling the “Jyou can DO IT!” mentality driving this time. Thoughts like What are you doing with your life? You’re not good enough, smart enough, disciplined enough, _____ enough to do things or get what you want. What if this fails? 

In the past 2.5 days of this BRAVEventure, I’ve realized two things:

1. Part of being brave involves getting to the core of a) what our fears are and b) why we act out of them. Being brave takes some serious self-love.

2. Being brave looks different than I initially thought.

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about being brave? When I think about being brave, my first thoughts jump straight to starting a business, conquering a fear, and being a bold, freakin’ person! The more I think about it though, the more I see that being brave isn’t always about doing the sexy, adventurous thing. Being brave also looks like growing up, getting over FOMO, having integrity, healing relationships where I’ve hurt someone, or sharing with someone how they’ve hurt me.

These sparring thoughts over the last few days generated a more structured approach to the BRAVE challenge. The fears I’m going to conquer all fall under one of these areas:

  1. Business/Career
  2. Relationships
  3. Funsies/Something I’ve always wanted to do that scares me (think bucket list)

Moving forward, I think this will help shape the framework of our BRAVEventure. (If you think of another area to add to this list, let me know!)

My challenge for you tonight is to:

1. Share what BRAVE thing you did today! (I’m going to call someone and apologize for gossiping about them). Post it here, on Facebook, Insta, Twitter, your bathroom wall, wherever! It definitely takes some courage to share your brave moments. Props to you for that!! Give yourself a little love-hug, you brave human, you.

2. Do a little self digging. Ask yourself: What are my fears? Why are those my fears? What is at the root of those? (a past experience? lack of self-love?)

3. Make two lists:
I. The list of brave things you’re going to do during this challenge
II. A tracking list – the list of the brave things you’ve already done (add to it each day).

I’ll make a separate tab for my tracking list under the Menu so you guys can see what I’m up to. 🙂

A number of people have been remarkably supportive over this blog over the last two days. You guys are AWESOME! Thanks for reading, and thanks for being BRAVE!

{Day 1} I think I can. I think I can…

Fifteen minutes of sporadic bravery. That’s what today looked like.

After getting this blog going yesterday out of enormous gusto and excitement, today I thought, “Well, what now?” I mean, what time of day do I post? How do I know which acts of bravery to take each day? How do we move forward in a somewhat organized and effective manner (particularly given my sometimes effective, often disorganized mind)?

I went to this conference last weekend where, on a break during the day, we were asked to call the one person we didn’t call. You know… that guy. The one where I was the big jerk but I made up some big story to turn them into the big jerk and make myself feel better.

Let me tell you… it was terrifying. To the point of tears. I was sitting there with the person’s number in my phone crying when my newfound (and awesome) friend Megan came running up to me saying, “Heyyy! What’s going on? Are you okay?” I told her who I was about to call, and she looked at me and said, “You are so brave! You can do this! You’ve totally got this!”

Then, I hit send. The phone was ringing, and somewhere, I knew, on the other end of the call was the very person I had been afraid of running into, talking to, seeing, etc for so long. And the phone was ringing. The door, so to speak, was open.

Once that door was open, it wasn’t so bad. I felt relieved. Being brave and calling the person I was afraid to call became so easy.

What’s the one thing you’re most afraid of doing today? It may be a person you’re afraid to get in touch with (good or bad) or taking a step toward something you’ve always wanted to do but you’ve been afraid of starting. What’s that one thing?

I think that’s the trick to this challenge – the way to organize chaos and decide what my fifteen minutes of brave will be for each day – asking what am I most afraid of doing today? 

Today, when I asked myself that question, two things came to mind:

1. Kicking into gear with fundraising for Peru and making phone calls to set up appointments
2. Telling a nice guy that I don’t really want to date him
3. Calling someone who I didn’t have clear communication with and owning up to that

I realized there are little fears hiding everywhere every day. People I don’t want to call because I messed up with them, people I don’t want to be honest with because I’m afraid of hurting them, and the big one: people I’m afraid will reject me.

Fundraising scares the buh-poops out of me. When it comes down to it, though, fear is just fear. I was pep-talking myself before making the first call today. Taking deep breaths in, “1-2-3… here goes. Just do it.” It looked a little like this:

Deep-Breathing

Then, I pressed send. The phone rang. The door was opened.

Once that door is opened, it’s not so scary. It opens up a world of possibilities that weren’t possible on the other side of the door where fear resides.

Maybe they won’t pick up the phone (they didn’t, but I left voicemails). Maybe they won’t say yes (don’t know yet). Maybe they’ll be hurt or rejected when I tell them the truth. At the end of the day, the door is opened. And, when the door is opened, making more calls gets a little bit easier. Telling the hard truth gets a little bit easier.

Being brave gets a little bit easier. 

What BRAVE thing did you do today?

Write it below! Share it on Facebook! the Twitter! Instagram! Don’t forget to tag #15minutesofBRAVE! Maybe even just sharing it can be your brave move of the day 🙂 (it’s scary to put yourself out there!)

Extra credit: To prep the way for moving forward, the second question is: When I think about these 30 days and what fears I want to conquer, what are the first things that come to mind? That’ll help set a framework for where the challenge lies – for what steps of faith you’ll take this merry month of May.

All it takes is 15 minutes.

Fifteen minutes. The amount of time it takes to run two 7:30 miles, make five homemade lattes, or drive from point A to point B. To take a shower, a quick power nap, or a really long and satisfying poop.

What could you do with fifteen minutes? Could you end world poverty? Start the business you’ve always wanted to create? Heal a relationship?

Yeah. You can.

Ask yourself – what are some things you’ve always wanted to do? What is holding you back from doing them?

For me, fear and self-doubt hold me back. There are a number of dreams and ideas residing comfortably in my mind that I haven’t acted on because I’m afraid. I want to be a photographer and start my business, make a socially entrepreneurial jewelry and crafted cards line, write and record a song, and live and work in Peru with the mission that I love. Then, my mind kicks into a self-doubting autopilot with myself on the judgment seat: What if I’m not a good enough photographer? What if people don’t like my stuff? Do I really have to fundraise to go to Peru? What if people reject my fundraising? Isn’t there another way? Are you even creative enough to do these things? People don’t see you as creative. Maybe no one will buy my jewelry or cards. Maybe people won’t like my photography. 

The funny thing is that I assume everyone else is putting me on the judgment seat when, really, I’m putting myself on the judgment seat. If the only thing holding me back is my own fear, then the only thing holding me back is me.

What would it feel like to be living your dream? What would it feel like to have zero fear for just fifteen minutes a day? What would it be like to cast the self-judgment, doubt, and fear out of your mind and take brazen steps of awesomeness towards what you want? That’s what we’re here to find out. That’s what I’m challenging myself (and you) to do.

Fifteen minutes is a lot more time than we realize, and we have a lot of fifteen minuteses during the day! Like… at least 20.

So, here’s the challenge: For the next 30 days, I will be brave for 15 minutes each day.

I will call the person I’m afraid to call. I will send emails asking for the business, opportunities, and funds. I will make a piece of jewelry to sell online. I will establish a seller profile on Etsy to sell my print cards. I will make the print cards. I will record a cover of a song and post it on YouTube. I will sing and play at an open mic night.

I WILL BE BRAVE. For 15 minutes. I will cast aside all judgments and fears that I place on myself or believe others are placing on me. I will take the little steps, day by day, to get one step closer toward my dream.

And then… I will post about it here! I have no idea where I will be at the end of these 30 days or what crazy cool things will or won’t happen. It’s risky… but this post is my fifteen minutes of brave for today (fear of exposing my writing to the world – check!). I have faith something will happen if we knock on and open these doors.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. – Matthew 7:7

I invite you to join in on this challenge. If you’re down, leave a comment with the statement below, say it to yourself in the mirror, and/or go outside your cubicle or house and say it to someone! In the days to come, leave a comment on what brave thing YOU did today on the new post of the day. Let’s share in this opportunity together and see where we are in just 30 days.

Every day for the next 30 days, I, (state your name), will be brave for 15 minutes. I cast my self-judgments aside and kick fear out of my mind. I believe crazy cool doors can and will open when I have the faith and courage to knock.