To the Full

Have you ever noticed how the universe has a way of getting our attention when it’s time for us to learn a life lesson? How it seems like every other conversation we have, or book we read, or music we hear, or sermon we attend, or movie we watch, there is a recurring theme or word or message seemingly designed solely for us; if only we have ears to hear, eyes to see, and a will to put into action.

My most recent message from the universe has provoked a question, an intrigue, an examining: What does living life ‘To the Full’ look like? on the outside? on the inside? How can I know if I’m living my life to the full?

But then I wonder, is it even possible, to live life each and every day, with such focus, verve, and single-minded application? Conceptually I embrace this maxim one hundred percent! To the full ~ full steam ahead! But in practice it almost seems wearisome and in-humane, like putting one more item on my already over-done to-do list.

You are going to have to give and give and give, or there’s no reason for you to be writing. You have to give from the deepest part of yourself, and you are going to have to go on giving, and the giving is going to have to be its own reward. There is no cosmic importance to your getting something published, but there is in learning to be a giver.
Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

As I’ve given some thought to this probing question, I’ve had time to consider how others live their lives to the full. And I’ve noticed something about those folks who seem to have overflowing, abundant, successful lives. Whether writers, runners, artists, mothers, fathers, teachers or business professionals: every ‘full’ life requires the giving of oneself…to one’s craft…to one’s multiple roles and responsibilities. Their purposeful repetition is required, EVERY – SINGLE – DAY. A full life cannot wait for fleeting inspirations or soaring energy levels. A full life needs each one of us to show up, with sleeves rolled in expectant anticipation.

Will I journey through my days as a sleep walker? a jaywalker? a bull-dozer? a butterfly?

When I came across the attached photo of the dog seemingly flying through the air, it was then that I realized the ultimate answer to my question: What does it feel like to live to the full? Life lived to the full feels like FREEDOM. Life lived to the full feels like JOY. Life lived to the full feels like OPPORTUNITY.

So, how can I know that I am living to the full, as “someone whose gate has been left open”? First of all, I think a life lived to the full is one in which I engage in meaningful, enjoyable activities, (running, writing, traveling, reading, having fun with family and friends); but I also know that a life lived to the full is spent in giving ourselves away for the sake of others. Because I am someone’s wife, mother, daughter, sister, employer, coach, friend, etc., I am the only one who can ‘show up’ and give my time and attention to those with whom I have relationship.

Living an abundant life means I can live and spend the moments of my life in lavish, giving, extravagance, as though I cannot outspend myself! This is what life is for, it is for the living of it…to the FULL.

And so we must ask ourselves: Are we feeling with our minds? Thinking with our hearts? Making every empathic leap we can? Are we witnesses to the world around us? Are we climbing on the shoulders of those who paved the way for us? Are we using every last bit of ourselves, living these lives of ours, spending it, spending it all, every single day?
Dani Shapiro, Still Writing


Exploit Your Weakness…Then You Will Be Strong

This morning’s run was only two and a half miles, which is short by definition; but running any miles on already tired legs becomes a strength workout, for body and mind. I knew I would likely struggle to stay mentally positive given the condition of my legs, but the simmering early morning temperature beckoned me out of doors before the sun rose high and hot.

So today’s run would require a suitable mantra to keep my mind off my tired legs. I thereby chose words that would make me think I was something which I was not altogether actually feeling. Today’s mantra would be: “I am strong…I am fast”. And with every breath in I would think, I am strong; with every breath out, I am fast.

The power of a focused mind is an amazing thing! This morning’s run was everything I hoped (thought and breathed) it could be: refreshing, revitalizing, inspiring and FAST! But then, a funny thing happened as I walked the final steps up my driveway to the front door. As I was relishing my short run accomplishment, a thought came to mind: “It is good to exploit the weakness“. Really? Exploit the weakness? How can that be good?

Exploit: to utilize, especially for profit; turn to practical account; to advance or further.

As I allowed that idea to clank around inside my head, I was beginning to see the value of working with our weaknesses. Yes indeed, this is what strength training is all about after all, which is namely, to exploit our weaknesses so as to advance our strength and balance in body, mind and soul. Yes, that’s exactly right! To exploit or expose the ‘weak links’ in regards to our fitness and strength training is to recognize those areas in ourselves in which our natural abilities have fallen short.

Admitting your faults isn’t a weakness – it’s a strength. Having your weaknesses pointed out isn’t a slur on your character – it’s an opportunity to improve your life. James A. Owen

These areas of weakness then, really become our allies for growth, if we only accept them as such. If our focus on weakness is positive, then we can embrace the opportunity to build and improve (repair) our weak links. If our focus on weakness is negative, then we may not be able to address our brokenness and thereby we become self-defeated. This attitude transcends every area of our life. We are, after all, what we think we are…

I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ’s strength moving in on my weakness. Now I take limitations in stride, and with good cheer, these limitations that cut me down to size — abuse, accidents, opposition, bad breaks. I just let Christ take over! And so the weaker I get, the stronger I become.  2 Corinthians 12:9-10 (from THE MESSAGE)

Live and Move Like You Mean It

Have you ever noticed that people measure things that matter to them. It doesn’t matter whether we measure things in minutes, repetitions, days, inches, pounds, miles or years, you can be certain that if something is important to a person, they will measure it. It’s just that simple.

Now consider your health and fitness goals. Are you flagging in your resolve to regularly eat healthy and stay active? Then ask yourself, “How am I measuring my progress? What am I tracking or counting?” If you can’t answer those questions using phrases like: I will reach 26% body fat over the next 6 months; or I will eat soup and/or salad for dinner twice a week; or I will do pushups once a day until I can do 10 in a row; then you have most likely not given yourself something measured to work towards.

The trick is to realize that counting, measuring, and tracking is not about the result. It’s about the system, not the goal. Measure from a place of curiosity. Measure to discover, to find out, to understand. Measure from a place of self-awareness. Measure to get to know yourself better. Measure to see if you are showing up. Measure to see if you’re actually spending time on the things that matter to you. James Clear

The genre of your measuring isn’t important. What matters is that you have an idea of what you want to reach, something towards which you must count…something of which you must focus upon…something that no matter how you are feeling on any given day or moment, you know you will certainly work towards completing; remember, if you will just  show up and do the work required by your measured plan…day after day, your intentional behavior accumulates in progress; and progress will not disappoint, because it is forward movement towards your measured milestone.

Your success requires only your intention. Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Count on your success…every day…show up and live and act like you mean it! Then don’t be surprised when you arrive at your desired outcome, but rather celebrate your arrival, because your journey of successful accomplishment has just begun…

The Nearness of God

Prayerfulness is fostered by the simple consciousness that God is. That God is near us at all times. That God is closer to us than the breath we breathe. That God is available, a silence in the midst of chaos, a voice in the midst of confusion, a promise at the center of the tumult.
Breath of the Soul, Joan Chittister

He is near; that He is able to rescue and deliver; that He is in all things that I experience because He gives his life, his breath, his everything to me. Thank you most faithful Father for loving your children so thoroughly! You never give up on us. How close are you to us? Closer than our own breath? You inhabit every atom of your creation! That thought I cannot comprehend and that thought reminds me that you, God, and you alone, are worthy of praise, adoration, and worship.

Be assured that I never abandon any of My children, not even temporarily. I will never leave you or forsake you! My Presence watches over you continually. I have engraved you on the palms of My hands.
Jesus Calling, Sarah Young