What If You Fly?

I've started a collection of inspirational quotes I find on Facebook. Lately the ones that have caught my attention relate to overcoming fear and stepping out in faith toward accomplishing my dreams.

IMG_0486As I've written before (for example, here), most of my life I've been afraid to try new things for fear of failing, and even more, fear of looking foolish in front of other people. I've missed so many opportunities because of fear.

IMG_0485The older I've gotten, though, the more I've realized life is too short to sit on the sidelines, watching everybody else have all the fun. So although I'm still afraid a lot of the time, I've been trying to drag myself out of my comfort zone, swallow hard, and try things instead of just dreaming. Like the podcast I launched earlier this month.

IMG_0506It sort of comes down to this question: Am I more afraid of failing, or more afraid of reaching the end of my life, looking back, and saying, “If only . . .”?

IMG_0509For now, it's the latter.

It's still easy for me to think about the things that could go wrong, about the ways I could embarrass myself, especially when I choose to attempt something new in a public arena. But I'm trying to remind myself to focus on the positive–the wonderful things that could result, the joy I could experience (and maybe bring to other people).

IMG_0773Yes, when we dream big and step out in the direction of our dreams, failure is a possibility. But oh . . . what if we succeed?

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What about you? Is there something you've dreamed about but been afraid to try? What amazing things could happen if you try and succeed? What could I do to help you take a step toward giving it a shot?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me

**Honor and credit are due to the unknown artists created the beautiful graphics in this post. I only wish I could be that artistic.**

The Productive Woman 002 – The Big Picture: Priorities & Guiding Principles [podcast]

_podcastTemplateWhen people think about productivity, they often think about calendars and to-do lists and project management, and all of those things are a big part of what we will discuss in coming episodes. But there's a big difference between being busy and being productive. True productivity requires a purpose to guide the activity. In this episode we talk about a process for coming up with principles to guide our decisions in such a way that our activity is consistent with our true values.

A brief summary of the basic steps:

  1. Set aside a time when you can be quiet and undisturbed. Gather your calendar, your to-do lists, paper and pen, and your favorite beverage.
  2. List/describe the roles you play in life, and the relationships that are part of your life.
  3. Taking into account your personal values, prioritize these areas of your life. Don't forget to make your physical, mental, and emotional health a priority.
  4. For each role, answer this question: “What kind of ______ do I want to be?” For each relationship, ask yourself, “How do I want this person/these people to remember me when I'm gone?” Spend some time journaling your thoughts about what each role/relationship would look like if it was all you want it to be (your part, not theirs!).
  5. Honestly evaluate where you are today in each of these areas. Write it down.
  6. What will it take to get you from where you are to where you want to be? Write down two or three specific steps you could take in each area to move in the direction you want to go.

Tip of the Week: Back up your digital data.

For more info, check out this article from the University of Pittsburgh's IT Department on Backing Up Your Data

Tool of the Week: Some great options for online backup services.

Resources:

Next week's episode will be a discussion of my “Top Ten Tips for Managing Your Day,” and another upcoming episode will talk about setting achievable goals. If you have questions about either topic, please leave a voicemail message by clicking the pink tab at the right-hand side of my website, or email your questions or suggestions to feedback@theproductivewoman.com. You can also join the conversation at The Productive Woman's Facebook page.

I look forward to hearing from you, and welcome your comments, questions, and suggestions.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

What Does It Mean to Forgive?

Forgiveness: the action or process of forgiving or being forgiven.

When someone you care about hurts you, or you hurt them, the wounded person has a choice:

  1. forgive,
  2. stay and punish the offender, or
  3. walk away.

If the relationship is worth keeping, then forgiveness is the only choice.

But what does it mean to forgive?

forgiveness_2The dictionary tells us that to forgive means to “stop feeling angry or resentful toward (someone) for an offense, flaw, or mistake” or to “cancel a debt.”

Wikipedia says that “Forgiveness is the intentional and voluntary process by which a victim undergoes a change in feelings and attitude regarding an offense, lets go of negative emotions such as vengefulness, with an increased ability to wish the offender well.”

Both of these definitions refer to a change in feelings–the giving up of anger and resentment. Not easy at all. Human emotions are powerful things.

It's a process.

It's a choice. Intentional and voluntary.

And once the heat of initial hurt and anger are past, the choice to forgive–which is the choice to preserve the relationship–is relatively easy. (That is, the choice to begin the process of forgiving is easy. Certainly it takes time, intention, and effort.)

The harder question, though, is whether the memory of the “forgiven” offense will change the nature of the relationship going forward.

How often have you heard someone say, “I've forgiven, but I haven't forgotten”? How often have you said it yourself? I know I have. Usually what we mean is we “forgive” the person who's hurt us, but we won't let ourselves forget, because we must protect ourselves against future hurt. We're not going to demand justice and we're going to stay in the relationship, but we'll make darned sure that person doesn't hurt us again. By definition, we are putting up walls intended to protect ourself against this person we care about enough to keep him or her in our life.

But what does that act of self-preservation do to the relationship? Is the relationship forever changed? Are we keeping that person at a distance in order to protect ourselves against pain?

When we say “I forgive, but I don’t forget,” are we really forgiving?

Does truly forgiving an offense really mean we don’t take it into account at all in our interactions with the “forgiven” person?

That’s how God forgives—when his holy nature is offended by my sin, he chooses to forgive and to forget.

Heb. 8:12: “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”

 

Psalm 103:11-12: “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

When God forgives, the offense no longer has any effect on the relationship between the forgiver (God) and the forgiven (us).

In Isaiah 43:25, God tells his people this: “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sin no more.” He says he does this for his own sake (maybe because he values the relationship and wants to sustain it?)–he chooses to not just forgive, but to blot out the offenses and remember them no more.

Is there a difference between forgetting and “remembering no more”? Is it that forgetting is something that happens to you, an almost involuntary event that occurs as time passes, but to “remember no more” is a voluntary act, just like the act of forgiving? God chooses to remember no more. He chooses to put the memory of the offense away and never look at it again. That's so different from the way we act–we allow the memory to return, and we rehearse it, turn it over in our minds, actually relive it.

If our standard of behavior is God (rather than each other), it's reasonable to assume that his approach is how we should respond when someone wrongs us: forgive and forget. But are we humans even capable of this? Certainly we can make the choice to forgive, to do the hard, hard work of purposely surrendering our anger and resentment, to welcome the offender into our lives and to actually stop thinking of him/her as an offender. These things are an act of the will, and we can control our will. We can choose. It's a process, certainly. Because we are human, the wounds continue to hurt, and we must choose, over and over again, to forgive, to let the feelings of hurt go.

But even if we've done that, can we follow God's example and forgive to the extent that we no longer take the (forgiven) offense into account in our interactions with that person, that it no longer colors our perceptions of who this person is and where this person fits in our life and in our heart?

I don't know.

But what’s the alternative? If we can’t truly forgive, can the relationship survive? Or does it become something else, something less than it was before the offense occurred?

And if so, are we okay with that?

What do you think? How do you deal with the process of forgiving (and forgetting?) the offenses of the people you love? What happens to a relationship if we choose to forgive but not forget?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me

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Nerdy McNerdnik Goes to the Big City

I realized this week that I will never be sophisticated or cool.

Yes, I’m sure if you know me you are thinking, “No kidding.”

But after 15-plus years practicing law at a big-city law firm, I was still holding out hope. I mean, my colleagues and clients are a lot of well educated, smart, sophisticated, cool people, and I thought perhaps someday some of it would rub off on this small town girl.

But no.

This week I traveled to New York City to attend a charity function with clients. The gala (dress code “festive cocktail attire”–what in the world does that mean!?) took place in the Grand Ballroom of the venerable and historic Waldorf=Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue, so that’s where my firm’s travel person booked my room for the night (at the corporate discount rate, of course). Waldorf_Astoria_Hotel

I’ve traveled a fair amount since becoming a lawyer, and have had the privilege of staying in some beautiful hotels. I don’t really ever get used to it. I certainly don’t take it for granted. I do, however, try not to gawk or to act like the hick that I am.

But when I walked in to the Waldorf’s ornate, beautiful lobby, I started to cry. It took a few moments for me to compose myself enough to check in. It was more than the elegance, beauty, and imposing size of the place. I simply felt overwhelmed by the fact that this truck driver’s daughter was staying at this grand hotel where kings and presidents and notables from all over the world have stayed. I felt incredibly grateful for all God has done in my life from the time I was that little girl growing up in western Washington’s tiny logging towns. Main Lobby

Add to that my status as an Extreme History Nerd. I kept thinking, “I am walking through the very same lobby where world leaders and celebrities have walked, in a place where people have come to make history.” It almost made me feel giddy to imagine what it was like to be those people in that place. I wandered around enjoying the beauty and the atmosphere, watching people moving through the lobby, gathering in groups to talk, and I imagined their stories. I reveled in the displays, tucked into a corner of the immense lobby, of historic Waldorf furnishings, dishes, menus, and photos, chronicling the hotel’s front-and-center role in the city’s and world’s life. Sigh. (I’m thinking there will be a Waldorf-set scene, or a whole story, in a book I write someday.) waldorfastoria_v5_460x285

Anyway, I’ve accepted the fact that I’m too much of a nerd, and still too awed by places like the Waldorf=Astoria, to ever qualify as cool. But I’m okay with that. I’d rather be awed and grateful than sophisticated and complacent any day. It was a blessing to be part of that world for a day.

By the way, the charity that was benefitted by the gala I attended is Project Sunshine, a program that provides support and services for pediatric patients and their parents. A worthwhile cause if ever I’ve seen one. Check it out here, and consider getting involved. 

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

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Goal-Setting and Rest

Are you a resolution-maker? A goal-setter? How's your new year going so far? Is it off to the start you hoped for?

As I've mentioned before, I spend time at the end of each year reviewing the accomplishments and events of the year just past, and imagining possibilities for the year to come. I love to set goals and work toward achieving them. I am an admitted productivity geek.

dreamstime_l_25458594I believe it's important to make wise and productive use of our time, to use the gifts God has given us to accomplish the things he's put in our hearts.

But the hazard of setting goals and focusing on being productive is that we can become too future-focused, too production-focused. We can come to identify ourselves by the things we do, the goals we achieve, the accomplishments we rack up. We can wear ourselves out trying to do more, reach higher, and miss the opportunities to savor the here and now.

Being productive is good. But it's also important to enjoy the people and experiences that come into our lives. It's even more important to remember that we are not what we do. Whether practicing law or writing a novel or cleaning a bathroom or curing cancer, the things we do–no matter how worthwhile or admirable–should not define us. And there is much to be lost in the constant striving to do more, achieve more.

IMG_0013I don't advocate abandoning the practice of setting goals and working toward achieving them. I am, and probably always will be, a productivity geek. (I'll be launching a podcast on the topic in the very near future.)

But I am trying to remember that I am not what I do. My identity is not found in my accomplishments. I'm trying to remember to not be consumed with building a life for the future that I don't make time to enjoy the life I have today. And I was reminded recently that life shouldn't be about constant striving to do more, be more.

After all, Jesus said “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)

What do you think? How do you find the balance between being productive and enjoying your life?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . . 
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me