Obedience Is Better Than Sacrifice

creative, create, obey, passion, sacrifice, dreams, goals, fulfillment, life

creative, create, obey, passion, sacrifice, dreams, goals, fulfillment, lifeCreatives are often stuck between a rock and a hard place.  They are pulled between the longing to do something meaningful and enjoy the creative process, and the fear of being called selfish and irresponsible.

I feel like creative people, me included, often sacrifice our creative nature, tendencies, and passions in the name of other people and causes.  We somehow believe that giving into something we find easy and pleasurable is selfish or sinful.

You don’t want to be viewed as selfish or indulgent by giving into your desire to create.  So you trade in your dream for a martyr’s badge and a martyr’s mentality.

Others see you as a saint because you give so much and are so accommodating. When you’re actually in agony and slowly dying inside.  Your inner artist dies a martyr’s death and you become an empty shell of who you were supposed to be.

It’s not for nothing.  Often there are great causes for your sacrifices.  Family, church, charity, school, deadlines.  You’re needed.

John wants to travel to a creative writing seminar, but the flight and admission are costly and the couch the family wants is on sale.  So John gets the couch and stays home. 

Laura has always wanted to open a flower shop but she’s a key player in the children’s ministry at church.  She just doesn’t have time for both. 

Patti loves decorating cakes and dreams of doing it full time but she’s a single parent and needs to bring home a consistent income to provide stability to her 4 children.  She never decorates more than her own children’s birthday cakes. 

This thought process tricks you into thinking that suppression and subjection are the ultimate forms of maturity and spirituality.  That you must sacrifice yourself on the alter of selflessness in order to be worthy of any praise or admiration.  And it works. People think you’re amazing.  Always available.  Incredibly giving.  So thoughtful.

Service is service. 

The problem we have is we somehow build up this hierarchy of service in our minds.  That serving or teaching is more noble than arranging flowers or baking cakes.  And generating reports is more important than writing fiction.

We are all called to serve but not in the same ways.  It’s not more spiritual to be a monk than a merchant.  It’s not more benevolent to sell life insurance than hand-made baby clothes.   There is a need for all of it.

Instead of being stuck in the mindset of sacrifice, experiment with being obedient to the true calling in your life.  When something ignites a passion within you, that’s a clear sign of the direction you need to walk in. 

Some people are passionate about finding a cure for cancer.  Some people are passionate about gardening.  If we could kick the idea that one thing is better than another and just obey the call we have in our own lives, we’d have the right people in the right jobs and life would be more efficient and people would be happier, content and fulfilled.

Sacrifice is not better than obedience.  You can only sacrifice so much of yourself until you’re all burnt up with nothing left to offer and no hope for a brighter future.

But when you obey your calling and follow your passions, you get to take all of you for the ride.  Your heart, mind, body, and soul can engage and enjoy this wonderful, creative journey of life.  Not only that, but you have more to offer and share with others in a meaningful way.

Save your inner artist from a martyr’s death.  Obey rather than sacrifice.

What are you sacrificing for the fear of being labeled selfish?  What direction are your passions telling you to take?  I’d love for you to share your thoughts here.

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Celebrate Today Because You Can

9/11, September 11, twin towers, New York City, Celebrate, Remember, Reflect

9/11, September 11, twin towers, New York City, Celebrate, Remember, ReflectToday is a day to reflect, remember, and celebrate.

Remember

14 years ago, cowards flew planes into the twin towers in New York City, the Pentagon in D.C., and a field in Pennsylvania, killing thousands of people and changing millions of lives forever.

It was a day that caused everyone in the nation to stop and take inventory of their lives.  We rallied together to search, support, and pray.  Most of us will never forget.  We won’t forget where we were when we heard the news.  We won’t forget the images of desperate jumpers, crumbling towers, and ashen faces.  We won’t forget the fear, anger, and confusion.

My children won’t remember, though.  I was 6 months pregnant with my oldest child when the towers fell.  I wondered what kind of world I was bringing him into.  If our nation would recover.  What the future would look like.

My kids have no memories of a calamity before their time.  But it’s important to them to know the history, that seems like yesterday to some of us.

We teach our children about 9/11.  We have remembrance books, newspaper clippings, and they’ve seen video clips.  We teach them that lives matter. We must pray for those who hate, help those who hurt, and support those who protect.  It’s not the color of the skin that divides, but the condition of the heart.

Reflect

In light of the solemnity of the anniversary of 9/11, this day also marks the 100th post on Coffee & Confidence.  It’s a small achievement but a reason to celebrate nonetheless. It will only happen once and never be repeated again.

When you’re headed toward a big goal, it’s important to celebrate every little step along the way.  It helps you to make landmarks along the way that you can look back and measure how far you’ve come.

Sometimes the weight of a big goal keeps you bogged down.  You’ve got your chin down and your shoulder to the wheel, grinding away and working hard.   One foot in front of the other is all you focus on.  Often, you don’t realize just how far you’ve come until you look up and see the starting line getting farther away and the dream getting closer.

Take time regularly to look back and see how far you’ve come.  Take all the experiences you’ve had and invest them into your future.

Celebrate

Today is also my husband’s birthday.  We will celebrate with some cards, gifts, and going to dinner with family.  Birthdays are great times for celebration.  So is every other day.

I want to appreciate and celebrate the people who make my life so great everyday.  I want to remember all the good times we’ve had, reflect on the hard times, and celebrate the possibilities ahead.  I want to be thankful for the opportunity to be a part of something bigger than myself.  Like my family, my community, my country.

Every day you have is full of possibilities, wonders, and treasures. Don’t miss them.

Make every day a celebration.

A celebration of lives.  A celebration of memories.  A celebration of little victories and milestones.  While you’re hustling on your dreams, look up and appreciate what you have and how far you’ve come.  Take time to be thankful for the opportunities you have and the people you share them with.

Every day you’re still breathing is a gift. 

What are you celebrating now?  Are you surprised by how far you’ve come without realizing it?  I’d love for you to share your little victories in the comments


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Create Abundance Through Negative Space

abundance, negative, space, schedule, overwhelm

abundance, negative, space, schedule, overwhelmI often feel like I’m up against the clock.  That I’m running to beat time, make time, or find time.  I’d throw away all my clocks if it would make any difference.  But it wouldn’t.  Time would just keep on ticking anyway.

We have a name for feeling like the clock is your enemy.  We call it Time Poverty.  The feeling that somehow we are lacking the time.  We imagine some people must have an abundance of time while we’re time poor.  Fortunately, or unfortunately, we all have the same amount of time in a day.

What’s the difference between having enough time or being time poor?

Negative space. 

Negative space is a term that artists use to describe the blank space that surrounds a picture or design.  It balances the positive space in the artwork.  Musicians use silence, or rests, as negative space in compositions.  Home decorators refer to negative space when talking about empty space left on a bookshelf or under a piece of furniture. The empty space creates balance, gives rest, and simulates openness. 

Negative space gives us feelings of abundance. It’s easier to feel gratitude and appreciation when you feel abundance in your life.  You feel like you have room to breathe and grow.

Conversely, abundance gives us the feeling of deficiency.  Too much stuff, too much on your to-do list, too much glut leave you with feelings of not enough space, not enough time, and not enough energy.

Being overwhelmed by too much clutter and too much to do often leads to inaction.  There is so much pulling on you that you become paralyzed.  You sit and do nothing because you know there isn’t enough time to do it all.  In the meantime, more stuff piles up due to neglect.  Dishes, laundry, errands, bills.

Feelings of deficiency zap all energy and motivation.  It leaves you feeling depressed and woeful and wishing for more.  What you’re really wanting more of is space.

Unfortunately, that feeling of wanting more often translates into accumulation.

  • You buy more stuff to add to your already crowded house.
  • You take on more projects thinking it will make you feel more fulfilled.
  • You eat more because you want to be satisfied.

When, in actuality, you’re just squeezing yourself into a tinier space and magnifying the deficient feelings.  So be very careful what you allow into your life when you feel like you’re lacking something.

Knowing that your feelings of deficiency come directly from your abundance lets you know that the opposite must also be true.  Negative space gives you the feeling of abundance.

The answer to time poverty?  

You need a schedule of abundance.  It has to have a lot of blank space in it.

Be in the business of dropping things off your plate. Enjoy the simple life and try not to get caught up in the frenzy so easily.  Scaling back and having some empty space in the house, on the schedule, in the calorie count will make you feel like you have more room.  An abundance of space and time.

Keep an abundant attitude by guarding the space in your schedule.  Say yes to the right things and no to the wrong things. Be very careful what you allow in your life and what you bring into your space.  Remember that feeling a lack of time in your life doesn’t mean you need something more fulfilling.  Often, it means you need less.

Abundance comes from negative space. 

 

10 Things Cover


If you need some help scheduling in that negative space and improving your life, check out 10 Things For 12 Months.  It’s a printable 12 month planner that will help you stay on top of your dreams and create some positive habits.


How can you create some negative space in your life?  Have you ever tried to soothe the feeling of deficiency by bringing more into your life?  Share how those decisions affected your life in the comments. 

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When Your Creativity Outgrows Your Circumstance

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creativity, world view, potential, seasons of life, grow,The creative’s world-view is expansive. You see the whole picture.  Your life is founded on growth and you feed on potential.  It seems so strange that others can’t step back, consider where we are now and where we want to be, and simply take the steps to get there.  You know there is always room for improvement.

The fact that some people are so close minded often frustrates the artist.  When there is an infinity out there calling us to grow and expand and use the limitless capacity that each one of us has, why would anyone be content to stagnate and tread water?

You may find yourself in a situation where your world-view is too big.  It intimidates smaller minded people.  You’re told to follow procedure, take orders, and don’t get so excited.  That’s not how we do it around here.

Don’t settle.  You don’t have to conform to mediocrity. 

Not all places are suitable for your talents.  Though some positions may call for your exact skill set, the ability to reach your full potential may not be there.  They just don’t have the capacity to grow with you.  Before long, you hit a ceiling.  When you hit that ceiling, then it’s time for a do-over.  A jump.  You’ll never be happy or satisfied again in that position, even though it “fits you perfectly.”

It’s possible to outgrow a job, a relationship, a ministry.  You may be stunned for a bit when it happens.  It may seem sad and unjust.  But it will always happen to people who grow.  Eventually.

The world was created in circles.  There is a cycle to everything and the seasons of your life are no different.  There are summers of toil and hard work.  The autumns full of abundant harvest.  The winters of scarcity and endings.  The springs of potential and new beginnings.

You may be facing a winter in your life right now.  But spring always follows winter.  Always.  The circle never goes backwards.  Your obligation to yourself is to keep expanding with every spring.  Keep growing.  Keep learning.  The mind is boundless.  There is no limit to how much you can fill it with.

The hermit crab finds a new home every time it outgrows the last one.  Instinct tells it when it’s time to move up.  Your instincts are telling you too.  Now.  Right now.  It’s too cramped in here.

You’ll know when you’ve reached the limit in your situation.  You’ll feel restricted, dissatisfied, and unappreciated.  If you current position does not have the capacity to grow with you, then find somewhere bigger.  You’ve gone as far as you can go here.

But what about contentment?  Aren’t you supposed to be happy where you are?

Happiness has nothing to do with contentment.  Contentment means to be grateful for what you have while working for what you want.  Keep your optimism up.  Thankfulness opens doors of opportunity.  Cynicism closes doors.

Be thankful for your skills and passions instead of cynical about where you can’t use them.  Work towards what makes you come alive.  Then the right space will open up for you.  Then you can grow again.

Until the next season.

What season are you going through in your life?  Can you still see personal growth in your current situation?  You can leave your comment here

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The Unfair Judge

judge, creative, artist, blocked, truth, standard, fail

judge, creative, artist, blocked, truth, standard, failThe Unfair Judge

You take a beating.
Often.
The last bruises still show.
You didn’t meet the standard.
You didn’t hit the mark.
It’s a moving target and the judge is unfair.
You should have.
You could have.
You didn’t.
Now it’s in the past.
Forever etched in your history.
Everyone knows.
You’re an embarrassment.
A failure, a liability.
Focus.
Try harder.
You deserve the correction.
It hurts. 
You break a little.
It’s for your own good.
You can do better.
You did your best.
Try again.
Raise the bar!
Set the standard higher!
No! Higher still!
It’s a moving target and the judge is unfair.
You’re losing ground. 
Is it worth trying again?
You’ll never make it.
You’ll never measure up.
You set the standard higher.
Your judgement is unfair.
You beat yourself up again.
The bruises still show.


It’s true.  You’re unfair to yourself.  Your expectations surpass anyone else’s when it comes to your performance. You’re often ashamed of your imperfections.

Creativity and art are direct reflections of who you are at your core.  Expressing yourself in art makes you extremely vulnerable.  It’s like looking at yourself in a two way mirror.  Other people see you as you see you.

So many creatives stay blocked for a lifetime because they judge themselves, deem themselves unworthy of any success and repress their true essence as to not allow anyone else the opportunity to judge. It’s safer in the shadows.

And yet, they do.  People judge.  It’s what we do best.

The problem is when you hide yourself and play pretend, people can and will judge you only on what they can see.  A fake.

You are misread and misunderstood and it causes you extreme bouts of frustration and heaviness.  Then you judge yourself even harder for not being real.  You know better, but it’s scary to be real.

Examine the areas in your life where you judge yourself the harshest.  Where does the truth of who you are end and the facade begin?  What are you trying to prove?

What if the things we shame ourselves for has less to do with righteousness and more to do with appearances? I wonder how many of the “rules” we have are things we do to keep up the facade of a higher standard.  When a higher living comes when you open yourself up instead of locking yourself up.

We get life backwards sometimes.  It’s not about keeping out the bad and the dark.  It’s about letting in the light and the good.  When you live in the light, you have more light to share.

Living life on the defensive sets you up for negative thought processes. It shows up in your countenance and your conversations. Instead of backing into a corner and defending your territory, move forward and gain some ground. Take that next right step.

That first step is to stop beating yourself up for being who you are, feeling what you do, and doing what you love.

Open up. Be real.

At least with a few close friends.

You have some true beauty and light in you.  You can make a positive impact.  That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

The truth is that we’re all vulnerable.  We’re all imperfect.  We’re all talented and messy and creative.  And we’re all our own worst critic.

Stop beating yourself up.  The bruises show.

Do you feel like you have to prove yourself to be accepted?  How can you be real with someone this week?  Comment here. 

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Sculpting Your Inner Artist

artist, creative, nourish, feed, potential

artist, creative, nourish, feed, potentialThere is an artist inside of you.

Even if you have a hard time believing it’s true.

Your artist is the real you.  It is your potential.  Pure and innocent.  It is the stored kinetic energy.  Creativity waiting for an opportunity to be turned loose.

Think of your artist as a young, timid but brilliant child that lives in your soul. It has to be handled gently and nurtured with great care. It must be coaxed out and given a safe place to belong.  It must be fought for and protected.

You need to be aware of what your creativity needs and what is harmful to its growth.

Some things that can repress your inner artist are:

  • Man-made drama
  • Mental clutter
  • Emotional confusion
  • Environmental shifts
  • Whims of opinionated people
  • Too much verbal adversity
  • Negative stimulation

All these things can send your artist into hiding.

What can you do to nourish and protect your artist?

  • Prune away people who create drama in your life.  Ain’t no one got time for that.
  • Carefully examine your social media feed.  Remove those who fuel your frustrations and jealousies.  No matter who they are.  You have no obligation to view the intricacies of their lives.
  • Let your time alone be sacred and unadulterated by fits of melodrama.
  • Take time to be quiet.
  • Let your mind flow freely.
  • Check in with yourself a few times each day.  How are you feeling?  What are you needing?
  • Ask your artist what she/he wants to do next.

Potential is nothing until its energy is released.  Freeing your inner artist isn’t like releasing a rubber band.  It’s not an energy that’s waiting to burst forth.  It’s more like excavating.  Or perhaps sculpting.  Removing all the parts of your life that don’t look like your artist.

Michelangelo once said, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”  You have an artist in you.  You have to chisel away the excess until you set it free.

Your artist needs room to breathe and grow.  Life is often harsh and the conditions are rocky and smothering.   Cares of life will easily use up the resources that fuel your creativity.  Your artist needs you to make room for creativity by meticulously removing the things that hinder and restrict the freedom of creating.

When you have chiseled away to reveal your artist, your life will have clarity.  Your focus will become sculpted and defined.  Your art will reflect your true self.  Your potential will be released in a beautiful and satisfying way.

It won’t be long if you keep up the process of pruning your life until your artist’s thoughts will become your thoughts.  You will no longer feel the conflict between your creativity and your obligations. Belief and confidence in yourself will make you a strong and thriving creative.  When you and your artist become one and the same person, your art will become a shadow of the divine perfection.

You will finally believe in your artist.

What are somethings that you need to change to protect and nourish your inner artist?  What would your artist like to do next?  Comment here.

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How Can I Get Over It? – Words of Wisdom

get over it, bother, trouble, let it go

get over it, bother, trouble, let it goSomething is troubling you.  Your spirit is vexed.  Your mind is cluttered.  There’s this thing that you just can’t get let go.  Just when you think you’ve got it figured out and laid it to rest, it rears up again.

Those same old feelings of frustration and aggravation come at you again.  It bothers you.  And the fact that it bothers you bothers you also.

Why can’t you just get over it??

It’s easy to hide behind phrases like, “Let it go” and “I don’t care.”  But you do care and you can’t let it go.  Saying these phrases only shows that it hurts you deep inside and you can’t stop thinking about it.

But you should care.  And, why doesn’t it bother everyone??

Some situations don’t have an answer.  They just don’t.  I wish you could fix it.  I wish it would work out right.  I wish truth and justice always had their way.  But that’s not always the case.

So, how do you get over it?

Get out from under it.

You have to take the high road.  Get your thoughts above the negativity.  Think of lighter, happier, glorious things and let the junk slide off your back.

The negative feelings of aggravation and frustration are restrictive.  They narrow your focus until you can’t see beyond what’s troubling you.  They also affect your expressions, your posture, and your speech.

Here’s a trick.  When you notice your thoughts lingering on troubles, change your position.  Roll your shoulders back. Open your palms up.  Breathe deep.  Let your thoughts go higher.  Soar above the trouble.  Leave the heaviness on the ground.

Look up!  

You don’t have to get over it as in forget about it or pretend it’s all okay.  But you do have to get your mind above the problems.  It doesn’t go away, but the scenery is lovelier.  It’s peaceful above the turmoil.

You can chose to find the sunny side.  And the sun is always shining above the clouds.

Are you struggling with something that just won’t leave you alone?  What ways have you tried to get over it? Comment here.

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