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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All You Ever Wanted – Words of Wisdom

have it all, busy, crazy, life, creative, time,

have it all, busy, crazy, life, creative, time,

A Praise for the Creatively Wrecked

You are a genius.

You, who write in 3 journals at once.

You have a journal for ideas, one for notes, and one to document your life.

Your most excellent, extraordinary, ordinary, hectic, busy, boring life.

You write articles and clean toilets.

You create beauties from scraps of yarn and fold laundry like a pro.

You create lesson plans and school your children at your dining table,

While cooking dinner, making jam, and playing phone counselor.

You shun hairspray and adorn extremely sensible shoes.

Or, more often, no shoes.

Shoes mean going out. There’s no time for that.

You have guest posts to write, photos to edit, and crafts to sell.

Your website needs updating, you missed the webinar, you have 200 unread emails.

You have self-imposed adult homework to do.

You love it. You know you do.

You creative genius, you.

You’re creating flyers, advertising seminars, and designing sales funnels.

There’s that agricultural fair to go to, the reenactment to see, and exhibit at the Capitol.

You have choir practice, church service, and Sunday naps.

The wisdom of the world sits on your bookshelf.  You must find time to read just one more.

You’re a wiz with a hot glue gun and make all your gifts by hand.

You make your bread from scratch and raise chickens.

You wonder why you can’t fit in that drawing class or keep the kitchen table cleaned off.

The days fly by and you wonder how you could waste so much time.

After all, the bed still isn’t made and you barely got a shower today.

That e-course you were going to write is still only an idea in the back of your mind,

And a few notes in your idea journal.

The dishes are done, the floor is swept, the menu planned.

Groceries, banking, and errands on Friday.

You have appointments and volunteer work this week.

You read about minimalism and dream of empty rooms.

So you box up some excess, but let it set in your living room.

You creative genius, you.  Life is so dull.

Why can’t you keep up? Move forward? Reach the dream?

How could you get so little done in a day?

You should exercise more.  Call home. Send out thank-you cards.

Your to-do list only gets longer as the back-log gets bigger.

Simplify. Say no.  Clear your plate.

Say no to what?

The kids? The housework? Helping? Reading? Creating?

You wanted it all. You got it. It’s all good. Keep it.

Don’t call yourself lazy one more time.

You’re creative.  And we love you for it.

You have creative, mommy, homeschooling, housewife superpowers.

You creative genius, you.

You may feel like you never get anything done.  You may only see the opportunity cost when you spend your time.  If you spend your time housekeeping, you could have been creating something.  When you spend your time creating, you should have been doing housekeeping.

You do.  That’s all.  And that’s a lot.

Be so thankful that you have so much to be thankful for.

I’d rather be creatively wrecked than bored.

What do you spend your days doing?  Do you feel like you should always be spending your time doing something else?  Leave your comment here.

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Don’t Drown. Stand Up.

stand, overwhelm, forward, life, dreams

stand, overwhelm, forward, life, dreams Some people have a fear of water.  Just getting near water gives them anxiety.  They can’t swim and they fear drowning.

That’s a healthy fear, if you can’t swim.  And you’re in deep water.

If you’re jumping over a puddle or crossing a creek or wading in a kiddie pool, the fear is unnecessary.  While it’s true that a person can drown in a small amount of water, it’s impossible to drown as long as your head remains above the water.  Water can only enter your lungs through your nose and mouth.

Life can be overwhelmingly heavy.  We get bogged down with schedules, responsibilities, expectations, chores, jobs, and side-hustles. Not to mention people, politics, money, relationships, and emotions. That’s a lot to lay on one person’s shoulders.  Yet every one of us have these loads to carry.

We have our individual ways of carrying our loads.  Some like to carry it in their arms so they can keep their hands on everything all at once.  They want to feel in control of everything but often feel out of control while they juggle it all at once.

Others will sling their loads on their backs so they can stay focused on moving forward.  The projects aren’t managed the best (Out of sight, out of mind.) but they get where they want to be.

And some are forever dropping their load or trying to get someone else to take responsibility for it.  They don’t want to be bothered with carrying it at all.  They feel it’s their right to be free of their responsibilities.

We all get to carry the same loads. It’s our responsibility as human beings.  Yes, it gets heavy sometimes and you have to take a break.  That’s fine. But don’t sit down.  Sitting down is called giving up. 

Most adults can stand in a 4-foot pool and be completely safe from the possibility of drowning.  But if you decide to sit down, that’s when the danger happens.  Suddenly, the amount of water that was safe is now overwhelming.

The difference between standing and sitting in life is a change of mind.  Just one decision.  But the effects of that decision have critical consequences.

While sitting down might seem restful, it puts you in danger.  Your head goes underwater and your ability to get to dry land disappears.  Your decision to fold your legs takes away your hope of survival.

Don’t give up on life.  Don’t give up on your dreams.  Don’t sit down no matter how overwhelmed you feel.  Don’t drown when you can make the one decision to stand up.  

If you feel like your drowning, check your position.  Are you taking life standing up or sitting down?  Stand up.  Put one leg in front of the other and keep moving forward.  You’re going to make it.

Are you struggling to stay standing?  How do you cope when your load gets heavy?  You can share your responses here. 


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When You’re In The Desert, Make Sandcastles

dry, spell, creative, art, juice, sandcastles, idea, flow

dry, spell, creative, art, juice, sandcastles, idea, flowSchool is back in session in my house.  

Homeschooling is more than just safety and shelter for us.  It’s about teaching my children to use their creative abilities to learn and process the world around them.  We use very little out-of-the-box curriculum.  Instead, we choose from a variety of sources from which to learn.  We spend a lot of time learning together.  We read, write, travel, engage, and discuss.  It’s a lot of fun, and a lot of work.

This is my first year homeschooling a high-school student.  The game plan is the same but the stakes just got higher.  Working up subject goals, scheduling field trips, answering questions, grading papers, and tracking progress uses up a lot of my creative time and energy.  Some days, after the school books are put away, I feel drained.

I often sit with my laptop open and stare at the screen.  Trying to squeeze one last drop of creative juice out of my brain.  It’s a struggle.  I feel dried up.  Like the flow of inspiration has run out and the ground is cracked and dry.

Perhaps you feel the same way after spending all day at work or in classes, you come home with your reserves empty.  You give your best to someone else and then fight to come up with something original for yourself.

Instead of waiting for the rain to fall and some new idea strike you, just work with what you’ve got.  Art can still be made from the driest of places.

Here are some ways to get the ideas flowing again in a creative desert.

  1. Re-hash some old ideas.
  2. Consider ways to improve some previous projects.
  3. Start a gratitude list of things that you’re thankful for.
  4. Jot down some notes from a book that changed your life.
  5. Read some quotes.
  6. Draw Whinnie the Pooh or some other cartoon character.
  7. Create blackout poetry.
  8. Teach someone a portion of what you do.
  9. Clean your creative space.
  10. Take yourself on an artist’s date.

There’s no use getting frustrated over the creative dry spells.  In fact, frustration with yourself only makes it worse.  Instead, enjoy and appreciate your past successes and let your inner artist take a break.

Life is hard.  We can’t always have the best in life, but we can make the best of life. When things go sour, make lemonade.  When things go dry, make sandcastles.

What things in your life are creatively draining?  How can you give your inner artist a break?  Share your ideas here. 


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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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You Don’t Need the Want-To, You Just Need the Right Reason

reason, goal, dream, motivation, marathon

reason, goal, dream, motivation, marathonYou’ve heard it, I’m sure.  Someone comes along and tries to motivate you by pumping up your enthusiasm to do the work quicker and more effectively.  “You gotta have the want-to,” they say.  “You need to be motivated, turned on, set on fire.”

Motivation is good.  Enthusiasm is helpful. But it’s not everything and it often grows cold. It’s hard to stay excited when things aren’t going well.  It’s hard to be enthusiastic if you’re having a really bad day or just not feeling well.

Motivation is the nitro in your engine.  The espresso shot in your coffee.  The supercharge that moves you.  It’s great when you have some.  It feels incredible.  But it doesn’t make more creative.  And it doesn’t prepare you for the long road ahead.

If the guy’s an idiot and you motivate him, now you’ve got a motivated idiot. – Jim Rohn

Going after something meaningful is like running a marathon. The process isn’t all fun and games.  There are weeks of training.  Miles of ground you cover that nobody counts. Rainy days. Hot days. Muscle aches. Joint pains. Blisters. Sweat.

Sure, there are some great runs when you feel like you’re on top of your game, but that’s not enough to motivate you do it again tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s another day, with it’s own set of hurdles, weather patterns, and other surprises.

So, if it’s not motivation, what is it that pushes a runner to complete a marathon?  

It’s not the destination either.  It’s not like the finish line is in the garden of Eden or Paradise Island.  It’s just a ribbon down the street.  Probably a street you’ve already been down before. There’s nothing special there that’s going to make you feel like you’ve finally arrived.

It’s not even the journey or process of getting there. Although there are plenty of lessons to learn along the way.  Those lessons are actually more important that the destination itself. But no one runs a marathon to take in the scenery.  Towards the last few miles, you’re not even aware of anything outside of your breathing and footfalls.

The reason we run marathons, chase dreams, and set goals is to press ourselves to become more.  More of ourselves.  A bigger, clearer version of who you are inside. It unlocks the potential in you. In becoming more, you give yourself a higher spring board to the next big possibility.

After you’ve run the last mile and crossed that finish line, you are now a victor. A winner. A finisher. You are someone who sets their mind to something and completes it. You now have the “been there, done that” t-shirt. There were witnesses and celebrations.

And then the question.  What next?

You have gained skills and work habits and relationships and training hacks that will help propel you to the next big thing.   Your reason for completing a big audacious goal is the next big audacious goal.  The goals are the stepping stones to the best version of yourself.   That best version of yourself.  The strong, healthy, creative, happy, rested, peaceful, fulfilled version of you.

Want to meet that person?  Put in the hours, motivated or not, and get another step closer to an introduction.

What does the best version of you look like?  What are you doing to get there?  Leave your comment here. 

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