Sometimes, this is how God speaks. His voice comes like a spray of rain. It mists your face or a portion of your skin. It unsettles you for a moment. But then you let go.
Another shower comes and another spray of rain kisses you. And another. Until you begin to pay attention. Is there someone in the rain calling?
The rain stops. You wait for it, now earnestly. Until you fall asleep.
You wake up — the earth and plants are drenched.
You say the next one is yours to fathom. You shout to the sky and ask the clouds to pour. Silence. More silence. More and more silence.
There will only be silence until you’re ready. And when you’re truly hungry, it returns.
The first drops are unsettling. The next ones are cold on your skin. Oh the discomfort of wearing clothes half dry and half wet! Big drops keep hitting you on the head, face, shoulders, back, arms, everywhere. You’re offended. Should you run a way and save your ego before it’s too late? You stay.
Moments later, clothes dripping wet, heavy and clinging to your skin… You realise there’s nothing left to do but let your guard go. Soaked. And soaking still. You let the rain break you. And bathe you.
As it does, invisible chains break off you You didn’t realise they’re wrapped around your neck, Your body, your hands, your feet. And you begin to dance. A happy dance. A gotcha dance. A you-didn’t-get-me-this-time dance. A thank you dance. A wild, free, undignified dance. A there’s-no-tomorrow dance. An I’ve-been-waiting-for-this-my-whole-life dance. A [fill in this bracket with what you’ve been dreaming of] dance. You thought the rain was heavy. It was the chains that were.
Sometimes, this is how God speaks. He bothers you. He triggers you. He lets you sit in desperation. He pours water on you and you freak out. You in prim and proper clothes and all. Until you pay attention. Is there someone calling you into the rain?
If there’s an adjective that can accurately describe me at any day of the year, it’s “dissatisfied.” I am not just talking about this year (2014), but all the years of my life. Yes, I find myself difficult to please. No, this is not to say that I am very dissatisfied with people, and no I am not judging you all my readers right now. Geesh. But I am often disappointed with myself. I am a perfectionist and I am my worst critic. As you can see, this habit has it’s pros and cons. It helps me in my work as a writer, but it also makes life a bit more miserable than it should be. If you’re like me even just a bit, I feel yah…
Moving on though, with 33 years behind me, I have also come to seasons of learning to be more gentle with myself. I try to celebrate myself now more often, my victories, my successes, but this is often very difficult because I am hardly able to meet most of my ideals, goals, and plans. Hurray to disappointments right? But I’ve learned to become more accountable for my own misery as well as learned to device ways to become more productive (rather than wallow in regret and disappointment). Perfectionist or not, we all need this. We all need the skill and ability to move on from mistakes and disappointments, if only to seize our next chance at success. Do I hear an “Amen”?
And with this new year coming up…. we all need something ultimately refreshing. We need to see HOPE. We need a sense of having the opportunity to start anew. However, with all the glitches and failures of 2014, how do we move forward with MORE hope than FEAR of repeating the wrongs of the past year? Believe me, success has nothing to do with pounding your fist and banging your head against the wall until you get this right. It has nothing to do with how strict and intense you dive into your new year’s resolutions and goals. No, no, no. If you want to start anew, you need a new formula to success. “Goal setting” and “new habits formation” are good, but beyond our intelligent plans and formulas, what perfectionists like us need (if you are one) is a NEW way of seeing. We need a new way of treating ourselves. We need to love and celebrate ourselves a bit more. And yes, yes, I’d like to share my little secrets with you. Here’s how I survived 33 years of being my own bitchy boss.
Probably, you’ve noticed by now, the key word: CELEBRATE. As the year closes… (it’s December 31st on my side of the world, hello), here are 4 things I choose to celebrate.
#1 CELEBRATE blessings in disguise.
Pleeease read carefully. I’ve encountered people use this phrase wrongly so many times!!! Arrrgh, the editor in me cringes and wants to make a tantrum. Ahahaha. Just kidding! Sorry for sounding arrogant right there. A blessing in disguise is NOT SIMPLY an unexpected blessing; neither is it SIMPLY a bad incident that was followed by a blessing. For example, you were sad and then suddenly someone sends you chocolates on your birthday, or you lose in a contest somewhere but afterwards someone gives you a free vacation to Europe. A blessing in disguise is something you really consider a misfortune (or undesirable) but after a while (it could be a day or even a year), something shifted and it turned out that if that undesirable thing had not happened, something far greater would not have become possible, therefore cancelling whatever negative effect the bad event had caused. Yay!
For example, you got fired by your boss so you looked for a job. After a few months, your old company got sued and you were saved from the negative consequences of that misfortune. Or something simpler than that. Have you ever experienced something like that?
About this time last year, my Macbook laptop crashed on me. I mean, it would make this loud humming sound when doing certain tasks (even not so tough ones) and it would just freeze or take forever to recover. That’s such a downer since I wasn’t able to save enough money yet to get a new laptop. But it’s really well overdue for replacement. The battery is no longer working so I would stay plugged in to a power source all the time. Hello inconvenience! Also, it’s kinda heavy for a girl who takes the train and walks to meeting venues a lot. But because it was December, someone bought me a MacBook Air. Oh yes, who doesn’t want an upgrade? It turned out that losing my old laptop became a blessing. After that also, I learned to save money every month to be able to buy a new one when this new one eventually gets overworked. Do you have bad stuff happening? Maybe they are “blessings in disguise” in the making… Keep your hopes up!
#2 CELEBRATE things you did right this nth time around.
Tell you what, I came across jamesclear.com and this blog has a lot of productivity tips that I’m learning so much from. One of them is to not overreact when you miss a routine or habit you’ve been trying to form. This is one thing I’ve learned to do right this year! Instead of feeling bad when I missed my workout, I would remind myself that I was at least able to move from 0/week to 1x/week or 2x/week, then I would resume and keep that consistency or increase it until I reached my goal of say, 5x/week. 🙂 I used to give up on myself altogether or get really disgruntled that I spend too much energy feeling bad. This energy spent distracts me from just focusing on getting back up and trying again.
Celebrate something new that you overcame this year, or something you started to do right after doing it wrong for quite some time!
#3 CELEBRATE the difficult things that have failed to crush you even thought they are still there!
This is important. Some of us want to quit running just because we don’t see the finish line yet. For example, my parents have been fighting a lot this year. I live with my parents. I work from home. Fighting parents is not good for home based work. Why? Environment. It sets the tone for a lot of things we do. I really should move. Well, I can but then it’s not practical. My Dad wants to retire. I’m starting a company. I really can’t afford renting a new place it right now. Maybe I can sleep at the office when we finally get to have one. Haha. But you get the point. I’m still alive. I wrestle everyday. Before going out of my room, I make sure I more filled with positive vibes, enough to counter any negativity out there. That’s just how it works for this season. And I choose to celebrate the fact that I’m still alive and kicking despite. Things may not be perfect, but we continue to thrive! That’s worth celebrating!
What are the things that oppress you but are not crushing you? Don’t give up just because things aren’t changing so fast around you, celebrate the fact that you have the strength to keep on. You may not see the light yet, but it sure will appear soon if you don’t quit! As long as they still don’t suspect that you’re a real cat, remain standing! You got this. (See image below.)
#4 CELEBRATE the times when you’ve been rescued!
No words could express how stressed I was trying to figure out how to prepare gifts for “everyone” this Christmas. Mind you, “everyone” on my list does not include “everyone.” I’ve practically cut my list short like a business streamlining due to recession. Chop, chop, chop. After shopping for my nephew and niece (Thank God there’s only two of them!), I literally took out a few more from my list. No more moolah! So as it turns out, I just baked cookies for most of them but since most of “them” included people on my parents’ list, my parents requested me to add their names on the gift tag. I know, I know, this may not be acceptable on other parts of the world, but “business in recession economy” remember? Besides, things should light up next year. Going back, I ended up not paying for the expenses. LOOOOOOOOL. In short, I took care of the baking, they took care of the ingredients. OMG. I know, chocolate chip cookies, right? I’m sorry, but that’s all we can afford this year. As for me, I’ve been rescued of $100 worth of gifts. I know, just $100. That’s how bad it was this year. Don’t worry, friends, we’ll make it up to you next year. Eh?
So there, celebrate times when you’ve been rescued. God loves you. He makes a way when there seems to be no way. You don’t always have to pretend to be the strong, “I have everything under control” super girl or superman that people think you are. God sees your struggles and he’s ready to catch you when you fall. Sigh.
So after the celebration, don’t forget some tough girl or macho guy decisions you have to make at the beginning of this year. But this list has a lot to do with the above “things to celebrate” list, because this list has a lot to do with ACKNOWLEDGING the fact that there is what we call GRACE and it works miracles in our lives if we know how to use it. You see, I leave the strategic goal setting to management and success coaches out there. This is a list of things that will add the missing touch to all your goal setting. It’s a list of things you do to open your life up to miracles and breakthroughs.
#1 IDENTIFY areas for surrender.
Okay, don’t overdo this one. List one or two or three. Don’t list 10 or you’ll get overwhelmed and get swept right into the cycle of self-beating. But we all have at least one area that we need to LET GO! What is that one thing you cannot change and only a miracle can change? Tell you what, the world teaches us to NEVER GIVE UP. Well, there are SOME things we CAN NEVER change but it does not mean these things CANNOT change. What??? For example, the weather, can you change the weather? Okay, maybe you can but some of us can’t. Next, addiction. Can you change substance dependence? No, you can’t. You need help to get free from it. Yes, that’s it, for some things in life, WE NEED HELP. We need to surrender the things we cannot change to someone who can change them. For me, the ultimate miracle worker is God. I’ve surrendered my parents’ relationship to Him. I try my best to be cheerful at home. But the rest is for God to change. I can’t change people, I can only LOVE them and help them be better. But change them? Cannot lah.
#2 IDENTIFY risks to make.
Oh yes, baby. It’s time to take some risks. For me, it’s actually launching our business. We’ve been brainstorming and planning for more than 1 YEAR! Would you believe? It’s time to step out into the Red Sea. So please pray for us. Thank you!
What’s your chicken line. Oh come on. Don’t tell me you’ve been standing there for a decade waiting for the chicken to cross the line without lifting it’s feet. :)) Now, do the world a favor and turn that chicken into a risk taker. The rest of the world will thank you for it, believe me.
#3 KEEP at it!
We should not let go of the things we earned for ourselves last year. Let’s build on them instead. So if you were able to start a blog and gained a few following last year, continue to celebrate it by posting quality entries faithfully. Makes sense? Sometimes we plan too many new things that we forget to build on the ones we’ve started. Wink wink.
For me, it’s my commitment to read in the morning. I sometimes still miss it but heck have I become so much more consistent last year more than ever. So I celebrate it by being thankful for where I am (especially each time I fail again – just to keep me from that old habit of putting down myself). So yeah, don’t get sidetracked by distractions and discouragement!
#4 IDENTIFY things to keep an eye on and to persevere at.
When I say “keep an eye,” I mean to say things that are in the danger of sliding back the old, unacceptable way. For example, you overcame cigarette addiction last year and you want to keep that freedom this year. Staying free is just as important as breaking free. So don’t throw the towel on this and just “let it go.” Don’t just build momentum on new things, let’s keep the momentum we’ve started.
Personally, I need to avoid entering into a chain of negative thoughts. I’ve caught myself a number of times starting this early in the morning when I wake up. I gain awareness and boom, a negative thought with a series of other thoughts tied up to it. What I did? Boom again. Haha. I shut them out and gave them no entry. I declared a Bible verse and went on to focus on truths rather than bad thoughts.
So there, what a long post! I hope there’s something here that you find helpful, and I hope trying these out will also bring some freedom to your life the way they brought freedom to mine. And by all means, also share you secret ingredients to getting geared up for the new year. Would love to hear them!