Aspiring To Adventure

  • Update: Things are Moving

    I’m building a coaching business.

    We got back from France, and we loved it. We’re going to go again, God willing, and the mrs is learning the art of venoisserie from the French baking book.

    I’m continuing to get over my crazy, and learning to be peaceful.

    The question is when do I want to take dramatic action? When do I want to go crazy and build this business that could catapult me into a new lifestyle?

    Maybe now. I think the answer is now.

  • Travelling Abroad

    We are now in the middle-to-end of a 3 week trip in Europe, we are on an adventure with our family.

    The mrs bought tickets, and we suddenly had to get lodging, trains, and some new clothes for everyone (because we hadn’t been getting out of the house enough).

    What could life be like if we just made decisions and took massive action on everything?

    I wish I could say everything is different about me, but I’m still struggling to discover the meaning and purpose that God has for me.

    But even still, being in France is amazing, with all the croissants and coffee and great food and beautiful architecture.

  • Maybe the last post for a while

    I was hoping this blog was going to be a place for mrs and I to reflect on our year together as it happened.

    And that there would be huge things to report at the end of the year.

    And there are some big things that have happened. There’s been massive shifts, and I may be embarking on a new career that is both exciting and a bit scary to me.

    We have gotten over our hesitation to spend our money on doing the things that we want to do.

    After years of complaining that my office was crowded and messy, I finally bought what I needed to buy to make it a more human environment, and now I have everything here I need.

    After years of complaining my workshop was crowded, I finally am doing the project to create outdoor storage so I can move a bunch of things out of it.

    After years of wanting to be financially independent, I am finally free to do that or not, but it’s not something that’s bothering me per se. I have the freedom I was looking for now, without needing to stop working. I’m free to do what I want, and I’m doing more and more of what I want all the time.

    It’s not the change I started off aiming at, but it’s a big change, and there’s been real growth, and I am not the same person I was at the beginning of this journey.

    Am I disappointed that I didn’t (yet) make a million dollars?

    Not really. I might start pushing on those things again, but for now, I’m exploring doing the things I want to do, and I may do some things that are way scarier than the things I was initially avoiding.

    I’m different, and I even see ways I could be radically more free, and radically more engaged in my life. I see a path to Really Living and I just need to keep taking the steps on that path.

    Money, it turns out, was never really what I was after. It was the freedom to do what I want, and I discovered I have it. The desire for money evaporated after that, except insofar as I have enough to keep creating the life I want for my family.

    So now the question is – what’s the dream for the life I want for my family, for myself, and what would that require?

    That’s something I’m working on getting clear on, but I don’t need to know everything to take smaller actions to make things better.

    I hope to develop a clear vision for a future, but I hope to also be comfortable just doing something fun and challenging and keeping my options semi-open. (i.e. 3-6 month sprints, instead of 5 year plans). I’m not that into 5 year plans, because I know I get bored and need something new.

    Why label that as bad? Just let it be what it is until I really need it to be something else. Maybe work with myself instead of try to change everything about me.

    You get to choose who you are, but you don’t get to choose all of who you are. Some of it is what God gives you, and some of it is what you do with that.

    Your choices are unlimited but still constrained. The constraints aren’t always clear, which is why you have to have an adventure to find out who you can be.

    So – onwards to the rest of the adventure, and if it seems worth posting an update here, I will.

  • Not a good blogger; semi-final thoughts

    I’m not being consistent with this blog, because it no longer represents to me what I want to do on an ongoing basis.

    However, what I have gotten from the experience of coaching is this:

    I am free. I can do this or I can do that, and I don’t need to make up a story about whether or not it means I’m lazy or stupid or unpopular or people are going to laugh at me, or that it matters if people laugh at me.

    I can be me, and I don’t need to quit my job, and I don’t need to not quit my job. I can, or I could just slowly explore what’s interesting to me and keep taking action on something.

    I want to grow because I like to grow.

    I want financial independence because it would be nice.

    But I don’t NEED either of those. I may want them, and I can take the actions to get them, and I can do it simply.

    I can be simple and direct, and not create a lot of extra steps between where I am now and where I want to go.

    I don’t need to be an online marketer to find customers. I just need to connect with people and solve problems and create value.

    I don’t need to be anybody else. I can be me, and that can be enough.

    I can be imperfect, and I don’t need to fix anything about myself.

    I can be perfect, and still improve.

    In short, I can just be where I’m at without making a whole thing out of any of it.

    Am I that way all the time? No. I still get caught up in the internal head chatter. I still have lots of insecurities.

    But I have glimpses of a more genuine and authentic way of being, where the false self can die, and pass away, and I can just be present to what God asks me to do at every moment, without “having too much to do”, because I can just be where I am doing what I’m doing, and let that be “what I have to do”.

    So – definitely some growth, and from these changes I have started to see new results in how I am, and what I do, and eventually there may be some lagging indicators (like more wealth) but I don’t have to prove myself to myself. I feel free.

  • You already have it

    I did an exercise yesterday, where I placed myself in the future where I already had what I needed. I already accomplished what I wanted.

    “You already have freedom. Now what do you do?”

    “You already have friends and community. Now what do you do?”

    “Your health is amazing. Now what do you do?”

    “Your house is a wonderful oasis you bring friends to, now what do you do?”

    I realized a few things.

    First, my house is not a wonderful oasis, and my health isn’t yet what I want. But I have a great community and lots of friends. I could lean into those areas harder, by simply letting go of the stories that keep me from really committing to the groups I am a part of, the stories that make me keep myself as a bit of an outsider.

    And I already have freedom, so I don’t need to make 1 million dollars to get that. I don’t need to pay off all my loans.

    I don’t need to protect myself from people, which is perhaps a massive motivation that makes me want financial independence. I think I need to be beyond certain material harms to be truly free to be myself.

    But I do not.

    I can be free to be myself now. I can truly love people openly right now. I can speak boldly and confidently now.

    I can be who I want to be, right now.

    So then, when I say “What do I want next?”, perhaps the answer is as simple as finding places in my life where I am not expressing these things.

    The answer is perhaps… make your home what it could be. Make your office what it could be. Fix the things in your life that are falling apart, like the hole in the wall that’s been there for 2 years, waiting until you “get time for it”.

    Have the faith needed in God that you will be able to be happy no matter what happens, and that every challenge you get is for your good.

    What about a bit ambition? What about a big direction?

    I think I will start to find that by living every day, authentically.

    I had this beautiful experience of a deep and powerful conversation with a close friend, which makes me think that I could truly come from a place of peace, and be powerfully present in the lives of other people.

    That I could make a powerful and bold invitation into the deep personal work that changes lives.

    And that people really do want that.

    But there’s more. There are other possibilities that start to open, as I put down this “need”.

    I am realizing that I’m afraid not to have a big “need” for something, because it makes it difficult to navigate life. There is nothing telling me what to do. I have too much freedom, and it makes me uncomfortable.

    In order to truly be at God’s disposal, that’s probably the place of freedom I need.

    Remember the parable, where the King invites everyone to the feast? One is newly married, one has to go see about some land, and so on and so on. They all have goals that are keeping them from the abundant life God has right now, and so they miss out on what would truly satisfy.

    How much then do we miss what truly satisfies us, because we’re putting a lot of obstacles and complexity in the way? What would be different if there was no fear, and no complex stories to protect our egos from the risk of not knowing the outcome of a bold outcome?

    What would be possible if we were open to what’s next, to being in our present moment in a posture of relaxed open readiness? Ready to receive the gifts and opportunities God places in our path every day, to be loving and present and appreciative of the people around us?

  • What’s not working?

    This journey has not been without benefits.

    But centrally, at the core, something is not working.

    That something is me. I’m not making this thing happen.

    Why?

    There is still a story, deep down inside, a rehearsed and well-trodden path, that I am allowing to color my perceptions.

    Every day, when you feel “tired” and “unmotivated”, what is the filter you’re listening through?

    When “it doesn’t matter”, and “It won’t make a difference anyway”, what is your filter?

    Are you defeated before you start?

    Who are you when you are this way?

    How much of that bleeds into your interactions?

    What are you saying to the people you meet? What are you putting out into the world when you’re in that mode?

    The deep inner work is the work. Who I am being, who I am consistently, is what makes the biggest difference in my days.

    After that, it is the direction I choose, and what I aim at.

    But when coming from this weak position, what do I expect my results to be?

    I could have many great opportunities, but when I let myself be in this state of mind, I would just look at them with tired eyes, and a weak heart.

    Faith and hope are what’s needed. I hesitate to use those words because I hate bungling up theology and life in a confused way.

    But it’s true. I must believe that something can and will happen, that it might happen, if I am to have the courage and perseverance necessary to keep going even when there’s no initial evidence that anything will ever work.

    You have to start over every day.

    Just get back on the path.

  • The path is always there

    I’ve been avoiding the critical tasks, critical conversations, critical activities for starting a business.

    It’s really simple – find a customer.

    But instead of all that, I’ve been doing a lot of other activities that are like that but not that.

    When you find yourself drifting away from what you were going to do, do you say something like “See? That’s it! It proves it. I suck, and I can’t do things.”

    Or do you simply gently redirect your attention back to what you are trying to do?

    The path is always there, ready for you to take another step.

    The struggle isn’t usually on the path, but with the parts of yourself that keep trying to convince yourself the path isn’t what it is, and that you shouldn’t be on that path.

    “I’m not good enough to be on that path”

    “I don’t have what it takes”

    None of that matters. It’s just a story you’re telling yourself.

    Just take the next step.

    Your energy could be used walking instead of harassing yourself for not walking.

    Gently bring your attention and your action to what should be done.

    Take a step on the path.

  • What story do you tell, even when it’s awful?

    Recently, I have been grieving the loss of a child who I will never get to hold.

    And when I think about this child who never got to be born, who died just a month into her short life on this planet, I think about all the things that will never happen as a result of her not being born.

    “Things will never be right”

    I won’t get to hold her. I won’t get to swing her up in the air, or toss her on the bed and hear her giggle. I won’t be able to play silly games with her and put her up on my shoulders.

    “Nothing will ever be right”

    I won’t see her grow up or learn about her gifts and her struggles. I won’t try my patience against her particular flavor of crazy when she turns 3 or 4, or when she does something unbelievably gross (like painting on a wall with poop during naptime). I won’t get to try to teach her what I know.

    “Everything is hopelessly broken forever”

    She won’t come down to see me in the middle of the night when she has bad dreams. She won’t refuse to eat some food she hates. She won’t dance around when she’s happy, or fuss and cry when she wants something. She won’t smile at me, or laugh, or play games.

    “There’s no point, you can’t fix it.”

    The story that is emerging for me is an old one that has less to do with the loss of my precious daughter, the one who my heart aches over, and more to do with the constant temptation towards despair that I have to fight.

    Who am I to say “what’s right” or “what ought to be”? God knows. He knows, in His Infinite Wisdom, what would have come to pass were this child to have been born. Perhaps it would have been untold suffering and an eternal loss. Perhaps he made her to be especially loved and to be a source of grace for our family so that we too can be especially loved.

    I want to say that I know what things ought to be like.

    That I’m the one who has a complaint against the way things are.

    That God can’t fix it or make it right.

    But the truth of the matter is that I just don’t know that.

    God can redeem anything. After all, He redeemed my life, which was hopelessly broken, and getting worse. He redeemed my wife’s life. He is working with us and on us still to bring us ever closer to Him, to bless us in new ways even as the trials become harder.

    It’s so hard to keep going when you feel this ache, an ache that is for something so much more profound than your goals or your vision, but for one whom you love.

    And yet, God asks us to keep going. To be joyful even. To share our sorrows and our joys, and to become blessed through all of it, so that we can call others to Him and to fuller richer more abundant life.

    But I can’t do that if I’m telling my story of despair.

    Yes, I lost my beloved child. But that is not the end of the story, and most of the story I do not yet know.

    Therefore, I must trust in the One who gives all good things, and hope that some day I will be there with her, and that we will see why it was all better to be what it was instead of what I wanted it to be.

  • If you want to get up to word count with half the work, just scavenge from your journal.

    I started a “5 minute journal” at the beginning of 2023.  I wrote in it every day for the first few days, then once every couple of months thereafter.  I just went back and reread it (it didn’t take long, as it only comprised a couple of pages-thanks, past me for being a slacker).

    It was such a gift from past me to present me.  Here’s something I wrote tonight, before rereading the journal, “I feel completely overwhelmed by the house, the kids, the mess, the chores.  And of course all the obligatory ruminating on everything.  All the time.  While I’m trying to keep up with the house and the kids and the mess and the chores, the errands and the groceries, the stupid appointments for stupid things because my body is falling apart.”

    And swing on back to March 7, 2023, “Lent.  I wonder if I didn’t choose enough of my own penances.  I don’t know why I feel so disheartened and discouraged and grumpy and angry and flaily.  We keep getting sick.  I feel like I can’t accomplish anything that I need to, much less the things that I want to.  I can’t seem to climb out of the pit of chores, errands, and duties that dominate my life.  That sounds dramatic.”

    So there’s some perspective.

    First of all, Lent is for serious.  

    But second of all, I’m fighting the same battles as I was a year ago.  And reading on, I see that I’ve backslid from some of the victories I won last year.  Not that there haven’t been other victories, but those particular ones might be forfeited, were it not for past me and her record of them.

    Husband has been trying to get me to blog here, and something in me just does not want to. I think it might be the part of me that has given up.  On something.  I’m not sure what.  We’ve just been through a dark winter, and it’s tempting to stay in the dark and hide from the light, because the light calls for action.  And we’re weary.  I am weary.

    Past me had not just been through a dark winter.  Past me, Lenten lamentations aside, was eager, optimistic, and energetic (I mean, not all the time…but in comparison to present me…)

    “I think this is our year.  I kind of feel like I’m coming alive, or like I have been working on coming alive for the last year and a half or so since what I affectionately refer to as my midlife crisis.  And now the snowball is really starting to roll.  It makes me nervous, as all good things seem to.  

    Who does God want me to be?  What does God want me to do?

    What do I want to do?  What do I enjoy?”

    I think past me saw something I’m not seeing right now. I think she saw the hope and endless possibility that come with saying yes to God, trusting in His plan, and jumping into the unknown.

  • Doing versus Evaluating

    Where is your focus?

    On the thing you are doing, or on figuring out if you’re doing the thing you’re doing well?

    On the outcome you want, or on how you look when you’re trying to get there?

    Simply being mindful and present, and removing your thoughts from the situations in which they shouldn’t be there will change the way you perform entirely.

    We get in our own ways when we try to see if we are doing what we want to do instead of just doing it.

    Mindfulness is one way to do this. Peace and simplicity is where we need to be.

    Living now, in the moment, without anxiety about the next hour. Knowing that we have put everything in place for ourselves to get to our goals so that we can focus on just what we’re doing now, and not carry the weight of the future.

    All our plans are laid out somewhere that isn’t our mind. We don’t need to keep checking in to see if we’re on track.

    This only works if you have somewhere else to do your planning and to build your future. Otherwise it’s going to crowd out what you’re doing right now. All the time.

  • Who do I decide to be?

    Reading about TBOLITNFL got me thinking about “Who I am” again.

    It’s a really interesting thing.

    Our future is created by the actions we take today. Now.

    What we do now happens because of how the situations around us occur to us. What looks possible.

    Part of what is possible comes from who we are.

    But who we are is not static. Nor is it completely given to us.

    God gives us an immense freedom in deciding how we will be.

    The Mrs. was telling me about some alzheimer’s patients who become really sweet and loving as they lose their memories, even though they were a bit sour underneath.

    It reminds me of how we all have thoughts we use to protect ourselves and that often comes out in ways that are less than kind to others. If we forget those things, who would we be?

    So then, if I were to let go of some of those thoughts that make me who I am now, and then look at where I want to be…

    Who would I declare myself to be? What kind of person has what I want?

    How do I live like that person today? What does that person do in my circumstances?

    Because your circumstances change due to your actions, and your actions come from who you are being, so if you decide who you will be, you will start to change your circumstances and your actions and everything changes.

    Of course, you have to persist against your environment, your habits, and all the baggage you’ve accumulated in your mind from your experiences and your anxieties.

    But if you realize how you’re feeling isn’t what’s truest about yourself, you can be something new from now on.

    There’s something about who you are that God gives you. How do you tune into that? How do you find the fullest expression of it?

    You have to go deep until you find the declaration of who you will be right now that is true and also new. Something you are afraid to acknowledge in yourself.

    It’s tricky work, but fortunately you can mess it up and keep going, because failing is part of the process.

  • What Your Judgements are Costing You

    A friend pointed out to me, who I’ve been talking to, that when I’m driving, I tend to complain about the other drivers on the road a lot.

    “What’s with this guy?” “What an idiot” “People are crazy today”

    Somehow or another, the conversation ended up connecting something for me.

    All those casual commentaries on the personal qualities of other people that are apparent from their behaviors was costing me a fortune.

    It was costing me my life.

    Every time I put a judgement out there, there was an implicit “and I’m not like that.” “I don’t want to be like that”

    And that means that an ever increasing part of my mind is now preoccupied with making sure I’m “not like that” with an ever increasing list of rules.

    And all that meta-awareness of myself makes me miserable. It keeps my focus off of just going after what I want directly, because now I have created a large bureaucracy in my head of all the things I can’t do on the way to doing that thing.

    Now I’m a people-pleaser, wasting time and energy pleasing all the people I now represent to myself, in the form of the crowd of inner voices all telling me how I ought to behave in this or that scenario, so that I’m not “like them”.

    Jordan Peterson, in some place I can’t remember (podcast or book), mentions that thinking about yourself is almost synonymous with negative emotion (from brain scans, not just as a conjecture) and thinking about something else is almost synonymous with positive emotion. (Sorry JP if I am misremembering this).

    What does that mean? It means that if we have this little crowd of critics in our heads watching us, we have a baseline negative emotion happening all the time.

    The amazing thing is realizing you can let that go whenever you want.

  • Just Today

    When I think about some of the changes I want to make in my life, they feel overwhelming.

    Too many flaws and defects in my thinking, too many things I have to root out and eliminate.

    Too many inclinations to fight.

    Outside of the problems with that mindset, it’s also overwhelming to extend it into the future.

    What if I just stopped all that, and just tried to be my best self for 24 hours at a time? And maybe didn’t worry too much about it?

  • Making Space

    I am reflecting on my goal for the year. It’s all about creating some freedom and some space for myself to be able to do what it is I want to do.

    But if you ask me “What do you want to do with that space?” I think most of my answers are things like “spending time with friends”, “reading books”, “playing with my kids”.

    So why do I need to pay off all my debts to do that?

    I don’t.

    I could just do those things.

    And this is maybe why this vision isn’t really connecting. The vision is more about a fear that I have.

    I am afraid I will lose my space to create if I give myself that space now. I think I need to spend all my time and energy on things that provide value to other people, so that they will pay me, so that I can have a particular set of things.

    And then some day (ha!) I will have a stable life and I can finally sit down and do the work I want to do.

    Which is what?

    This is to say, perhaps I’d be more interested in my goal if it was based on what I do want, instead of what I don’t want.

    Is there something I really can’t do now because of my situation of being not-financially-independent?

    Or do I simply want to do that so that I can have freedom?

    And if I want this freedom (for no particular purpose) why don’t I just give it to myself now?

    I could simply detach from all the things I own and we could simplify our lives so that we have more space. We could move somewhere cheaper.

    But then again, maybe I could stay where I am and just negotiate things in my own life to make more space for myself. Or appreciate how much time I actually waste just not doing what I say I wish I had time to do.

    Hit the limits of what you can do in your current situation, and then you’ll know what actually needs to change.

  • Fear and Loathing

    What are you afraid of?

    Do you even have the courage to find out?

    Do you secretly hate yourself for cowering away from what you’re really going after?

    If the answer is yes, you’re not alone.

    I recently had a great call with my coach, where I asked him, based on what we’ve been looking at, how I’m getting in my own way the most.

    At the end, “I’m hedging a bit, risking offense, I experience you as cowardly”

    This has also been coming up in prayer as well.

    My greatest fault is cowardice.

    Interestingly, I do a lot of things that other people might be afraid of.

    I have no problem doing public speaking. I am able to have difficult conversations with people about tough topics. I ran my own business for years. I like trying new things.

    But underneath it all, there’s some deep fears, some things that keep me stuck. The things I am papering over with a lot of external successes to prove to myself I’m actually brave.

    My new resolution: I am going to reflect and find things that I’m afraid of. And I’m going to do things with a reasonable chance of those things happening.

    What are my fears?

    Some that I have identified: Rejection. Public humiliation. Injuries. Physical pain. Mockery. Being dismissed.

  • Love the Climb

    If you can’t reward your brain for your daily activities, but only focus on the eventual results of your efforts, you’re going to burn out.

    If you aren’t getting a reward from the actions it takes to succeed, then you will not enjoy it, and your motivation will require more and more willpower.

    Somehow, you have to love the difficulty, the practice, the little wins of getting better.

    If you only like the celebration at the end, you’re not going to have a lot of motivation, because those are far away and a lot of work.

    This is what I will put my focus on now. Clearly define the endpoint, and love the process of getting there.

  • Getting to clarity

    Will my current job become a client? What can I expect there? What will I be able to get?

    As I’ve been having bolder conversations and asking for what I want, I haven’t been getting completely rebuffed. But I also wonder if it’s because a clear yes or no could risk me as an employee.

    And of course, managers manage people, but to the interests of the organization.

    Red lights aren’t failures. They’re clarity.

    Get clear so you know what next.

    I can’t help but feel I am wasting some time where I am.

    But if I get clarity, then I can turn this into my case study quickly, even if I can’t get an immediate financial reward.

    So – what do I do? Slow burn my work until I get a yes or no, or just go full throttle?

    If I do the latter, I lose negotiating position to some extent (b/c you delivered already, we don’t have to pay you)

    But if I do the former, I lose negotiating position to some extent (b/c where are the results, you are now less credible)

    What other possibility is there? What if this isn’t a binary?

  • Holding yourself accountable

    Am I really serious about reaching my goals?

    Do I have an idea of what I actually need to be doing by any given time?

    Am I clear? Do I actually reference these things?

    No, I generally avoid looking at progress if I’m afraid it’s going to “make me feel bad” about how things are going.

    This kind of avoidance is also why I don’t usually get clear enough on what I’m doing when I’m feeling stressed.

    Stress leads to avoidance, which leads to living in unreality, feeling comforted by the fact that the things aren’t there when you can’t see them.

    This is a massive problem, as a habit or pattern.

  • Updates?

    When nobody probably reads your blog, you don’t really feel that obligated to keep writing.

    Who cares if I do or don’t?

    The answer ought to be: I do. I write for me, to work things out, and to share what I learn. All of this writing clarifies my thinking, and creates a record of where I was.

    If at some point, I start to be different enough, and get the results I want, I may be able to share this journey with others, to encourage them, to help them see their struggles aren’t weird or unusual.

    Greatness comes from not needing immediate feedback from your environment that you’re on the right track. From being able to stick to a vision that your immediate reality (your past, your circumstances, habits of thinking and feeling) don’t actually support.

    Change is resisted by what’s already in progress. The more relationships with things in your life keep you in place, the harder it is to change.

    So – we have to disentangle our minds and emotions until we are able to make space for something new.

    And that’s scary, and sometimes every fiber of our being resists.

    And then we thrash about and we think “It’s easier to stay where I am right now”

    And that’s true. But you won’t be happy because you’ve started to see what you could be. So you thrash more.

    But… you’re still not there. The thrashing seems to make it worse.

    It’s not until you achieve a new way of being that the thrashing stops. You’re inhabiting new habits. Your emotional responses and habitual thoughts have started to take a new shape. You react in the way you want to respond.

    Then, and only then, is the real power of what you’re doing realized. Things will start happening because you are now being in a state that is ready for the things that were already happening that you could not see or could not yet act upon.

    And that’s where I am now. Preparing, building, and occasionally thrashing.

  • Things are hard

    There’s a strong temptation to give up your agency, and wallow sometimes.

    Where’s it from?

    Not God.

    Praise the Lord for a good wife who helps me give up my BS.