Thursday, October 31, 2013

pimpslaps and popsicles... a study in fear

Does anyone else compare?  As in, do you compare your talents to someone else's?  Your Walk to someone else's?  Your abilities at work, your grades at school, your waistline to someone thinner, your muscles to someone's bigger, your tummy to someone's six pack?  I do.

I posted this on Facebook this morning, and its one of those things I'm glad I wrote because I feel like people understand it... they get it... they know what I mean.

I compare myself to everyone.  When I log onto the Facebook and get all Facebooky, I scroll and read the posts by other people involved in the Experiment Formerly Known as START (its my online community of choice) and I read all sorts of successes, milestones and even funny comments I wish I had made.

I don't know about you, but I don't like being used.  I would imagine you don't either... so you need to know that Fear uses you.  That's right, Fear takes your talents, abilities and awesomeness and tosses them in my face...

Fear begins to then tell me things like... 
  • "You'll never be as good as ______"
  • "You will never be as talented as ______" 
  • "Look how much they love _______, you'll never get that kind of adoration"
  •  "_______ is real with their life and fears and struggles. You come off as fake. Just don't say anything."
  •  "Its OKAY to compare yourself. You don't match up with ______. Just keep it realz, yo."
  • "You typed this into Facebook earlier.  You put this on your blog too, and people will think you are just full of yourself.  So play it SAFE, and let it go."
Fear likes to tell people that "You can't..."  Personally, Fear doesn't tell me that "I can't..."  Fear actually tells me the worst thing of all:
"Oh, sure, you could... but why would you.  No one cares, and you don't matter." 
Have you felt like this?  Especially recently?  Fear is a jerk.  Fear will tell you things, use other people's voices to lie to you and make you feel like anything you do won't be enough.  You aren't enough.  You'll never be enough.
And that's when you have to come to your senses.  You can.  And you should.  You are enough.  Your awesome.  I may not even know you, dear Coffee Drinker, but you are awesome... I mean, you are reading this, right?  Right! 
Here's the thing about Fear... Fear has never led me in the right direction.  
It's made me be safe when I needed to step. 
It's led me to be quiet when I needed to speak up. 

Keep talking, Fear.  I have a Buttermilk  Popsicle
waiting for me...
It's led me to try and rely on ME when I should be relying on HIM (HIM as in God, not Fear)....
Fear is that crazy old drunk Uncle at a party who says he is looking out for you, but every piece of advice that comes out its mouth will lead you to destruction (and possibly a court date)... Fear is the bad friend who was never a good friend but you still end up wanting to listen to, even though he's bad news.  Fear is only as strong as you make it...
(hmmm... that's pretty good... I need to write that down... give me a minute... *grabs pencil and post-it*... fear... only has the... cred... ibil... aty... *scratches out 'aty'*... ity... you give... it...)
Here's what I like to say... and when I say, "Here's what I like to say", I mean I'll start saying this now because I think its good...
I'll simply look at Fear, and say, "Fear, you can suck it. I'm going to say something encouraging and funny. If it works, great, if not, that's okay too. Then, I'm going to eat a popsicle. Cause I want to"
Then I pimp slaps Fear, walk away, leaving Fear holding its reddened cheek as I mutter "...Jack wagon..." under my breath, taking a nibble off of my Steel City Pop.
So thank you for allowing me to chime in, pimp slap Fear and eat a popsicle.
What about you?  Have you faced Fear, pimpslapped it and called it a less than civil name?  What is your treat of choice after a good Fear pimpslapping?

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

the final walk

I am not really sure about other guys, but I have an abundance of shoes.  I know I have at least a dozen pair, some sneakers, some sandals, some more dressy, and some just old that I couldn't bear to part with.

Take for instance, my American Eagle... well, I call them clods.  Closed toed and heel, they are slip-ons with a buckle on them to tighten them.  They are heavy.  They "clomp" "clomp" as you walk across the hardwood floors here at The Cabana... and I love them.

Originally, I purchased them around 1999, for a grand total of $60.  I can't remember the last time I was actually in American Eagle in our Galleria Mall, and especially the last time I actually bought anything from there--it might have been these shoes, so that tells you that AE isn't my first choice...

I always thought that American Eagle was kind of the hipster older brother of Abercromie & Fitch... maybe the cool kid until a younger, more sultry, his-friends-thinks-he-is-awesome-the-adults-thinks-hes-an-idiot Abercromie came on the scene.  Now Aber and his friends look at AE and say, "Whatevs. You were cool.. now you're just a loser... obvi."  Where was I even going with this?  I dunno.

So, I wore these AE shoes with khakis, to work, probably to church a million times, and they were one of the only pairs of shoes I'd ever actually paid a shoeshine boy to polish.  They were my "Dress" shoes, for all purposes, and even just "Date" shoes on those rare instances when  I had a date, and so on. 

Even when the sole of one of the shoes split, putting a big cracked divide between the front of my foot and my heel,  I wore them anyway, going out and purchasing some Gorilla Glue to mend them.  Ended up doing this for the right and the left shoe...  I loved these shoes.

The shoes in question.  Worse for the wear.  Heavy, formerly comfy, living
out its last few days here.
And over the years, no matter how many pairs of shoes I obtained or discarded, the AE Clods were always in the mix.  Eventually, about a year after we moved from the apartment (Case de Pesos) to the home we are in now, "The Cabana", those AE shoes made the move, missing the cut of things--shoes, clothes and otherwise--that were discarded for non use and age. 

A few years later, The Lovely Steph Leann insisted that we do something with the shoes all over the place, to which I went out and bought one of those shoe rack things that go over the back of the closet door.  And there the AE Clods went...

...and stayed.

You know how you own things, especially shoes and clothes, that you wouldn't dream of getting ride of, and you think "I'll wear them soon" and "Oh, haven't worn that in a while, I'll do that this week"... and it never happens?  That was this pair of shoes.  I loved them, they were my favorites back in the day, and they sat on the bottom rack of this shoe rack, me intending to wear them, never doing it.  I am sure in the last four or five years I've worn them... but I can't remember when.

So, Sunday morning, I decided I would, in fact, wear them.  I pulled the off the rack, dusted them off, and took them downstairs.  I slipped them on at the bottom of the steps, waiting for that familiar feel of those Clods, waiting for those ol' reliable AE shoes to grip my foot, to wrap my heels, and if I'm quiet enough, if I listen hard enough, I might... just maybe... be able to hear my feet say to the shoes, "Well... hello, old friend..."


They felt funny.  They felt... foreign.  It would be easy to say "They felt like I hadn't worn them in 4 or 5 years" and that's probably the truth of it, but... still... these were my old school American Eagle shoes, my favorite pair from back in the day.

The traction, gone.  The split, which is similar to the one on the other
shoe, is deep.
I took a few steps and slid on the hardwood.  Not much, I didn't fall, but my foot slid a little. I looked at the bottom of the left shoe, and saw the traction was almost completely gone.  And there was that familiar split across the middle of the sole.   Walking into the kitchen, I realized these shoes had gone from "favorite pair" to "they'll do the job for now", and had a half-mind to run upstairs and put my Merrill slip-on shoes that I love so much now. 

I wore them all morning without a problem, no pain, they walked just fine.  But they weren't my favorite shoes I remembered.  They were an old pair of shoes, a pair that... well, it was probably time to get rid of, because I knew I wouldn't wear them again.  Not when I have so many other pairs of shoes that are far more comfortable and actually look a lot better. 

I even wrote about shoes in 2009, in "kicks just keep getting harder to find", and mentioned these AE Clods in particular, saying "my friend called them "clods", but they were like loafers, and are approaching their 12th year in my care and unfortunately are drawing near to the end of their life..."   And that was in 2009!  The math doesn't quite add up from what I said earlier, but no matter.

Sometimes we have things that used to be awesome that just aren't awesome anymore.  And those things need to be discarded, to make room to allow the other awesome things to be more awesome.  For me, it was a pair of shoes.  I can free up that space on the shoe rack, and I've even thought of getting rid of two more pair that were never favorites and I also never wear (The Lovely Steph Leann is reading this, nodding in agreement)

Sometimes things need to be edited out.  Sometimes its things... tangible possession.  Sometimes its activities.  Sometimes its people.  Sometimes its a number of other things... but sometimes there are things that just don't belong anymore.  And you know it.  You feel it.  Perhaps they are awesome still, but to move forward with your hopes, dreams, plans, you realize that space and time become invaluable resources, with finite limits, and in those limits, you have to prioritize what the most important things are.  Figure out how much space and time in your life those use up, then see whats left.  Keep going until you are out of time and space in your life... and then figure out what to do with what you don't have time and space for.

I mourn my shoes.  Its a silly thing, and I tend to be nostalgic and have personal attachments to things that have no emotional relation to me--like shoes or a favorite "lucky" pencil (I still have the automatic pencil that I took every important high school test, all 4 ACTs, wrote a 144 page story called "Dayton's Quest" and wrote my college graduation paper with, protected in a velvet box... oh, I wish I were kidding)... and I mourn other things edited out. 

That's a good thought... what needs editing... what needs discarding... what might have been awesome, but now is just not important enough to devote time to, or takes away too much time from the things that are really important...

Do you need to edit?

Thursday, October 03, 2013

great or greatly known

First and foremost, you should watch this...

This is a poem written by author Jon Acuff, who read it aloud to close the STARTConference in September.  It was then taken by a young lady named Libby Norcross who has turned "doodling" into a fine art, and then edited by a dude named Todd.  I know it took over a week to put together, and its quite a work of art. 

So, second, my favorite line?  "Will you be great, or greatly known?", circled with a big, fat fancy circle for emphasis.  Its like, if you write the words "Go by the market and pick up my prescription at 715p", then you circled 715p to make sure that that one part stood out... same thing.  Its important.

Will I Be Great?  Or Just Greatly Known?

Now, it isn't a bad thing to be neither.  Just because you aren't great doesn't make you an average person.  But I think just being okay makes you miss on the impact you could have at being Great... or Awesome... or Audacious... or whatever nomenclature you want to put on it.

That's not the question though... the question isn't "If you are going to be Great...", the question is, in fact, "Will you be great?  Or just Greatly Known?"  Its automatically assuming you'll be one or the other, so see, the confidence in you is already there.

I have thought that I wanted to be greatly known.  People would know my name, know my work, know my face, and maybe not be necessarily "famous", but known. 

Never mind that I wasn't necessarily Great at anything.  When I am Known, I'll have the resources to be
great, when I am Known, then I'll become Great.  As a matter of fact, the options of being great now are finite.  But when I become Greatly Known, the options of being great?  Limitless!


Is it right to depend on my fame and notoriety to become Great?  Maybe I should become Great first.  Think about it.. how many people do you know that are Greatly Known?  The Kardashians.  Paris Hilton.  Ke$ha.  Whether they are Great is a matter of opinion, but for me, I'd say no.  But they are undeniably Known.

But I'll bet you know lots of people who aren't Known, but are exceedingly Great.

For example... my buddy Justin Fisher is in a wheelchair due to lifelong cerebral palsy.  Rather than being whiny about it, he became more than a speaker--he is a public storyteller.  So much so that he even wrote a book... He's not Greatly Known outside a southern circle of churches and people... but he's Great. 

I know a chick who writes chick blogs with Jesus and stuff.  Her name is Jamie Harper, and even though I'm not, nor have ever been, a chick, she writes oh so well, and I love reading her posts.  They inspire, they make me think and her personal rawness is so genuine.  Outside of our church and other blogs she writes on, maybe she isn't Greatly Known, but I know she's Great.

My friend Meredith also wrote a book... my friend Kim writes an amazing blog... my friend Wade Morris is crossing that rare line where he is Great AND Greatly Known... Jon Acuff, who this whole START mess stemmed from, is also Great AND Greatly Known...

I am by no means a mature Christian, in many ways, I'm kind of a dork... but one thing I think--I hope--I am learning is that being Great is much better than being Greatly Known.  And I don't mean "look at me, I'm so great!", I mean being someone who lives a life chasing Greatness, chasing what God meant for me to be, not to be mired in a ho-hum existence that I will look back upon with great regret at 74 years of age.

And if I can be Great, if I truly have a heart that desires Greatness first with The Great One, then in the purposes of my own life and those around me... it won't matter if I am ever Greatly Known. 

I cannot speak for Justin, Jamie, Kim, Meredith, Wade, Libby (the doodler in the video) or even Jon... but I suspect if you asked them "Would you rather be Great and inspire 50 people to achieve their goals, to strengthen their walk, to be Great themselves, or would you rather just be someone who lots of people know, and just be Greatly Known...", my guess they would all pick the first option. 

So... do you want to be Great?  Or just Greatly Known?  Me?  Spent 30 years wanting to be Greatly Known... spent the last 30 minutes just wanting to be Great, and even moreso, wanting YOU to be Great.  Maybe I'll get Greatly Known.

For now, I'm content.