Friday, September 14, 2018

The Year of No-Guilt-No-Excuses

I need to be frank for a few minutes. Because for the last nearly 15 months, I have not really been forthcoming at all. I've been pretty sneaky. Pretty clever. But not really all that honest.

Shortly after the twins were born, I slouched, sank, and eventually spiraled pretty hard into postpartum depression and anxiety. And I worked my ass off to hide it from everyone. And I never got the help that, looking back, I really needed. All a saga for another day. 

But now, as we approach the twins turning 15 months, summer quickly fading into shorter, cooler days of fall, I am struggling to shift gears into a healthier, happier version of life that I expected to find by now. Some aspects of life have improved significantly. The mobility and food-freedoms of growing toddlers have alleviated many of the stresses of earlier life all-consumed with nursing/pumping schedules and baby carrying/wearing/strollering options. And sleep, while certainly not perfect, has settled into a mostly viable routine for all of us. So much of life in our current state is so much fun. New skills, words, and daily discoveries are exciting and make my heart smile.

But at this point, I have some desires bubbling up that are remaining largely unfulfilled. Because, let's be honest, it's just damn hard! All of it. Working, parenting,'s just hard. But there's got to be alternatives to my current situation which looks like morning-rush-no-lunch-evening-rush-bedtime-routine-facebook-zombie-do-it-all-again-tomorrow, sprinkled with hefty amounts of never-finished-laundry-sticky-surfaces-and-pee-or-diapers-everywhere. 

So alternatives. I've considered them all. And I mostly greet them with excuses. I'll speak on my desire to workout first. Alternative: workout over lunch. Excuse: I don't usually take lunch so I can get home earlier to be with the kids, a chaotic exercise in survival until bedtime. Alternative: keep kids in school for an extra hour a day to workout after work. Excuse: mom guilt piles on big time because I do really want to see my kids during their waking hours, even if it's not always fun. And let's talk about meal and grocery planning. Because our current method of pantry scrambling and fast food aren't exactly always delicious or nutritious. Alternative: spend one hour a week making a plan, a list, and running to the store. Excuse: Okay, but like when? (Ya'll did see my facebook-zombie mention earlier, right? Clearly not every moment of my life is occupied well.) Alternative: once a month meal planning. We've even done this before, and it was hugely successful. Excuse: I'd have to send the kids away for a weekend a month to make it happen. One more. Let's talk about the state of my house. I never really envisioned myself as the hot-mess-mom type until I had three kids within two years, but let me tell you - I am indeed, a fully hot-mess-mom. Like, seriously. Don't come to my house unannounced. I'm not ready. Ever. Alternative: facebook-zombie time needs to go. That's enough time for a full load of laundry and a kitchen scrubdown before bedtime. Excuse: I'm too tired/don't want to think/exert effort/do anymore today. 

But today, I just can't with it all anymore. I can't keep gazing longingly at my alternatives as if they weren't really possible, piling excuse after excuse on top of them. Not anymore. It's time to gear up for a real change. A life change. Not because my kids need it, or even my family unit as a whole needs it. Not for my husband or outward appearances (even though I do appreciate at least appearing within socially acceptable ranges of normal cleanliness and functionality).

I need this. I need to be healthy. I need to be motivated and functional and honest and real. I need to get out of the spiral-sink-slouch of the last 15 months and take pride in my life, the daily doings that make up the very core of who I am. It's gear up time. Gearing up for the next phase. The phase of life that will make me a better wife, a better mother, because I make me a better me. 

So, six weeks in advance of my birthday, I dedicate my upcoming year to No-Guilt-No-Excuses. A year for me to right myself, to take pride in something, to shake the last shreds of depression, anxiety, and burden that I have carried for too long. It will require fight, tenacity, and effort, but it will also require grace, acceptance, and humility. And, for fun and accountability, I'll take you along with me. 

Phase One will be drafting a plan. I tend to be highly motivated by plans, goals, visuals (sticker charts, anyone?), and progress. Over the next six weeks, I hope to prepare the strategy that will carry my no-guilt-no-excuses life changes. I do this all the time in my professional life, with an excellent track record. Why it hasn't transferred into my personal life, I do not understand. But this year, it will. It must. For my well being, for my children, for my spouse, but most importantly, just for me.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Sneaking back from Leave

A very fast ten weeks have past of my maternity leave. A blur of feeding, pumping, diaper changing and washing and assembling. Lather, rinse, repeat. I'm very thankful for the time to home with my boys, as the blur has been exactly what they need - food, comfort, a present mama trying her best. But with one looming project left half complete upon departure, I sneak away from my leave and into my office, just a few hours at a time, when no one else is around. And it is weird. 

In my absence, my biggest program came and went. And while it wasn't perfect (they never are), students arrived, moved in, were oriented toward their new campus experience, and got their start in classes. I stayed far away during this program's happenings, knowing that my presence would intimidate and shake those around me, and I'd be far too tempted to meddle in the details. But my first sneak back into the office after that program this weekend was were things got weird. 

I pulled into my usual old parking space, walked up to my office using the usual back elevator, but the scene I had left ten weeks ago was not the scene I returned to. Despite not seeing a single moment of my usual orientation programming with flocks of excited and anxious new students surrounding my every moment, there were indeed students around. The cafe was full of loungers and diners, the sidewalks carried noisy clusters of students to their destinations. Campus was full and buzzing. Compared to the relative quiet of summer months, it was a stark contrast that I, perhaps, wasn't mentally ready to see.

But here I am, plugging away at those promises I made before I left. And at this point, I don't feel quite the load of guilt that I carried as I left. I did what I could. And I can finish the rest even as the rest of campus is already rolling on without me. I'll keep quietly working behind the scenes, where I prefer to be, finishing what I started before I start back up again on the next round of projects and promises in December. 

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Emotionality of an Impending End

As the weeks wear on in my pregnancy, I find my emotions running a little deeper than usual. Usually, this would be more of a first trimester occurrence, but the emotions I feel now aren't the hormone packed rush of illogical, sudden, and unpredictable extremes. No, these are far more sensical and ordered. 

I have a little countdown chain on my bulletin board above my computer in my office. As of today, it holds only thirty one little metal paperclips. That's the maximum number of working days I might have in the office if I make it to the end of this pregnancy. And in twin pregnancies, the odds are not necessarily in my favor that I'll cruise through all of those days before two tiny humans decide to make their grand entrance into the world. Thirty one days. 

The gravity of that ever shrinking number has been weighing heavier with each paperclip that gets taken down. I promised a lot of things this academic year. I promised I could accomplish enough to make my biggest programs happen without a hitch. I promised that I'd have solid notes prepared and systems set up. I promised that I'd meet with all my teams and walk them through everything they'd need to know. I even promised myself that I could do it all, and do it with an attitude of personal challenge not personal overworkedness and overstress. After all, I have a pretty good track record of upholding my promises even when I've got little to stand them on. I've kickstarted many firsts here - Homecoming parades, new scheduling models, giant "pilots" of courses with the entire first-year class at once. I've pulled off nearly miraculous J-term experiences, held to impossible budgets, won some folks over to some new concepts that seemed completely insurmountable. So I thought surely, surely I could keep one more string of promises, even with no foundation under them. I could do my job, the busiest most chaotic six months of my job, before I'd need to leave, and expect results similar to my being present. 

And staring down thirty one days or less of possibilities, I realize now that my word might perhaps fall short this time. It's too many projects. It's too many details, that I usually rely on years of experience to just make up on the fly, needing to be figured out and cataloged and advanced in excess. 

Perhaps the most emotional part of all of this for me is that as the years go on, I am realizing the value of making oneself dispensable in their professional roles. I spent probably the first half of my career working hard to make myself indispensable. I'd take on the really hard stuff, I'd make promises and work my ass off to keep them, I'd try new things, things so complex that I knew from the start that they maybe weren't all that sustainable. But I also knew I could do them. So I forged on. 

Somewhere in the middle of my years here, and maybe more recently than I care to admit, I began to realize that my commitment to being the only one who could do what I do was flawed. It forced me to work harder than I had to to create successful programs that relied solely on my experience, skills, and talents, and while that was totally working for me, it wouldn't work forever. What if I disappeared someday? What if I quit? What would become of all of that work, all of the layers of complexity that were designed by and for me? 

Transitioning next door to your former professional life taught me a few hard lessons. When you choose, for whatever reason, to let go of everything you've built and worked and fought for, it immediately becomes someone else's. And that someone else is going to take all the impossible, just-for-you stuff and chuck it. I watched it happen. And it nearly crushed me. But I took a valuable lesson away from it - I need to work toward dispensability. 

The only problem with that lesson is that it came too late. And now, the what if has turned into a guarantee. I will be gone. I will disappear. I will not be the one to execute all of the just-for-me complexities I created. And as much as I want to weasel away from it all, shrink into a corner and let someone else take over, I am still managing systems that are designed for me, not just anyone. And I'm working toward my leave by accomplishing things so ridiculously challenging that I'm convinced I'm one of few here that could actually get them accomplished. While I know that's not really true, I also know that it's still trickier than it needs to be, more complicated than it should be. And that really grinds at me these days. 

As the impending end of my days in the office draws nearer, I so desperately wanted to leave on a high note, walking away knowing I did what I said I would do and did it well. The reality is that I'll be leaving a complicated mess in my wake, one that will burden colleagues, one that will leave many promises broken. I fight battles in my mind, fight back the emotions of failure and defeat, knowing I really did work my ass off, I really did try to make the best of things. I couldn't have done any more. So I waffle between desperately desiring to just escape now, to give up and go home knowing I was bested by my circumstances this time and clinging to some ludicrous hope that I've got one more indispensable miracle in me before I go.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Biggest Professional Challenge

I am about to embark on quite possibly the most significant professional challenge of my career.

A number of months ago, my husband and I decided we were ready to start trying for baby number two. Well, I was maybe more ready than him, but after some discussion, we really were ready to try. Not having tried at all for our first, we weren't really sure what to expect. After a few months of dutifully tracking my fertility and timing things out, nothing. We thought it would be easy and instant like the first time, but it wasn't.

I had already done the math in my head. Certain months are far better for being pregnant and taking an extended leave than others in my line of work. For me, August through October is my busy season with little time off and little forgiveness when it comes to tasks that need completing with near perfection.

At first, we were trying for an April or May baby. Then we were trying for a June baby. Then as the calendar wore on, I got anxious and knew we'd need to make an intentional choice: Stop trying for three or so months to ensure we'd avoid the busy season...or take our chances not knowing how long it might take us to see success. As dedicated as I am to my career, I am also dedicated to being the best mom and wife I can be. So to me, knowing that pregnancy wasn't going to be instantaneous, it made sense to keep trying and take any accompanying risks to my professional life.

We're pregnant. Due in July. I will miss my entire busy season, not just part of it.

But I'm choosing, with an obvious nervous quake in my voice, to see this as a professional opportunity. A challenge, if you will. Can I professionally ensure that my many tasks, events, and trainings are as successful with me away as they would be with me there? Can I really pull it off?

I've spent much of my career stepping into new challenges and roles without a lot of preparation or knowledge of the terrain. I've looked so many of my colleagues in the eye and said, "Trust me," and I meant it. I've had no proof of my abilities to accomplish what I say I will other than the results that I produce after the fact. In a few weeks, I will step into my boss's office, I will look him in the eye, and I will as him to trust me as I step away from my role and responsibilities during a critical time. I will have no way to ensure near perfection of the tasks and events that I need to pull off. I will have no guarantee of success. But I do have a track record. I have a record of success that I'll stand by, and hopefully by boss will to.

Yes, this will be the greatest professional challenge of my life. If I can do this, I know I can do anything.

Year of Intention: Do it now or later

One of the biggest struggles in my life and frankly a catalyst for this year's theme, is that I tend to delay non-gratifying projects. A prime example of this is our current method of laundry completion. It looks something like this: 

1) Let the laundry pile up for several days until we start to run out of things to wear.
2) Line up several laundry baskets and begin washing and drying one after another. 
3) Put clean and dry laundry into baskets.
4) Place baskets in random places throughout our living space.
5) Dig through baskets for several days to find what preferred clothing and wear it wrinkly.
6) When baskets are nearly empty, bring them to bedrooms, toss onto dresser top, and gather the next succession of dirty laundry waiting to be washed.

Now, for those with their laundry routine under control, I'm sure you're asking why in the world one would want to do laundry like that. The clothes is always wrinkled, always in view, and never in a home of its own like a closet or drawer. It is frustrating, to be sure, to have to hunt through several rooms of the house to find the cardigan I had intended to wear each morning. Was it in the clean pile on the dryer? Is it in the basket of darks on the couch? Maybe it's on top of my dresser? Ridiculous. 

If I'm honest with myself, I really don't like doing laundry. Not at all. So I delay it. As long as possible. I try to do as little as possible in the laundry department that still allows me to be a somewhat functioning human being. But the fact remains that it still needs to be done. So is it better to delay and do as little as possible and endure the frustration of having laundry in many places unfolded, or do I try to change my habit and deal with laundry daily in an attempt to get it cleaned, folded, and put away in order to avoid the added frustrations? 

This is a tougher decision than one would think. It's a conscious choice of enduring something either way. I either have to endure doing something I don't like to do in order to be satisfied at having done it after the fact or I have to endure the things that are frustrating about my current habits of delay and not worry about the fact that I'm rarely satisfied at all. 

For me, it's also question of motivation and available resources. I really am motivated to change my habits because as part of this year's quest, I want to develop a tidier home. A tidy home does not have laundry strewn about in three rooms, unfolded, and a short sleeve away from falling behind the dryer. A tidy home doesn't have visible laundry anywhere. And this vision of tidiness would give me satisfaction. But it comes at a cost, the cost of doing something I don't like every single day. Can the motivation change my view of this disliked task? Could it eventually be something that I don't dislike at all because of the satisfaction that completion brings? And then those available resources, like time. Does a system get thrown off if I'm gone three days in a week? Can I uphold a change in behavior if resources are scarce making it harder to accomplish? The question of available resources, especially time, are always on my mind. 

And let's not pretend that I only engage in this now-or-later battle over the laundry. This is actually so many things. It's the now of throwing away junk mail daily or the later of stacking it up and tossing it once a week. It's the now of putting away all of the work, lunch, daycare bags and containers as soon as we get into the house or the latter of tossing it all inside the back door and clean up the piles at the end of the week. It's the now of wiping up the spilled toddler dinner off the table and floor as soon as dinner is over or the later of getting to it after he goes to bed or the next morning when I step in the remnants. 

Getting this picture? The now is always something I don't like to do coupled with the satisfaction of having it done immediately, and the later is the satisfaction of not having to do it right away coupled with the frustration of leaving it undone. Add to this the pressure of feeling like it all needs to be done whether or not I have the available time or energy to do it, and you've got one conflicted flailing woman. 

But this Year of Intention was not meant to overwhelm or send me into a spiral of despair and strife. It was selected as such to create points of clarity and purpose, meaning and motivation. My habits to date are mostly just defaults in a busy world. It seems easier, albeit less pleasant, to delay doing things I don't like, but does that match the vision of the life I want? Well, that would require me to a have a pretty clear vision of the life I want. So I'll be starting there. Stay tuned as I work to craft this vision.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

The Year of Intention

A few years back, I started what has since become quite the tradition. I decided on my birthday to give the year ahead a name. I wanted to focus on a theme of sorts, something to keep me moving forward when I struggled, something to give me focus when I lacked it, perhaps something to blame when I wanted to cast blame. I'm not sure exactly. But this tradition has evolved into a self-fulfilling prophesy of sorts, not by some cosmic mystical accident, but because perhaps I want it to be so. 

My first dedicated year was the Year of Go. Leading up to this year, I was becoming envious of my adventuresome friends as I felt like a hesitant, almost shy, sidelines participant in life. I needed to give myself permission to move ahead confidently, knowing that I could embark on new adventures, deepen relationships, and cast of inhibitions that were holding me back. And from what I recall of that year, I did. A casual acquaintance invites me over for coffee. Let's go! A colleague asks me to try out a new project with them. Go! It was a life-changing year of experiencing depths that I just hadn't ever allowed myself to experience before. 

The years that followed were the Year of Celebration and the Year of Enough. Seeming opposites, and for good reason. The Year of Celebration brought into my life a marriage built on commitment, love, difference, and adventure; the completion of a hard-earned terminal degree through the defense of a dissertation I was proud of; and the growing of a new life inside me for the first time, an unexpected miracle that was the biggest celebration of all. I also spent the year centering myself by celebrating the small things in life, the daily gratitudes that welled my heart full. The Year of Enough allowed me to be okay with myself as I was. And while I still struggle with my enoughness, I have learned that it's a daily process coming to terms with your own limitations and being okay with them. 

And so this year, I move ahead, wanting to move from acknowledging my limitations to pursuing both my weaknesses and my strengths with purpose. I hope it to be a season of evaluation, of reflection, and of making meaning of the things I do each day. And for those things I can make no meaning of, this year will be a process of eliminating them, clearing a path for those things that do have value and importance in my life. 

It sounds so easy, you know, living with intention. But when I begin to think of all of the things I do without intention, without aim or purpose or goal, the task seems overwhelming. But these assigned annual titles are more than stand alone ideas. Luckily, they build on each other, making me a more whole person than I was the year before. So I will take the lessons learned from the Year of Yes, the Year of Celebration, the Year of Enough, and I will add those beautiful life lessons into my Year of Intention. I will move ahead fearlessly and without inhibitions. I will approach each day with a heart of gratitude for the opportunities that lie ahead. I will acknowledge the imperfection of my pursuits and my limits as a human, knowing that no process, no intention, no concept of wholeness or integrity is or can be perfect. And with all of that, I will pursue purpose and meaning and intention. 

One last note about the Year of Intention. Upon looking up the definition of the word intention, I discovered a use for the word I did not know existed. In the medical field, intention means the healing process for a wound. I find this new discovering to be a very profound way to approach this year. While I know that I certainly have wounds of my own that need daily attention and evaluation and care, I also acknowledge the great many wounds that surround me in those that I love, in those I encounter, in those within my reach. And maybe this Year of Intention is less about the healing of my own wounds and more about the purposeful pursuit of the opportunities to aid in the healing of the great many wounds around me. And maybe, just maybe, those processes are really one in the same.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Encounters with the Risen Christ

I was asked to share a brief message with my church this past Sunday, a reflection of my encounters with the risen Christ as an extension of celebration this Easter season. I shared the following message that had been on my heart for a while.

I have been a parent for 389 days. 389 days of seemingly endless diaper changes, tears, tantrums, giggles, spit ups, wiping up, and so many firsts. In 389 days, I feel like I've learned more about the heart of Christ than perhaps any other time in my life.

After the longest days, the days that I'm not sure I can make it through, the days that rub me raw and edgy, the days that Kip pushes my every button, even on these days, there's this moment. This quiet moment where I lay my child down to sleep in his crib, and I pause and just look at him. And my heart wells up like it could explode, and this little voice whispers, "I love you so much I could die."

That's a really funny response when you stop and think about it. I love you so much I could sing and shout! I love you so much I could squeeze you for days! I love you so much that I want to give you the world. But die? I love you so much I could die? That's downright illogical. There's only one place a response like that could come from. Jesus looking lovingly at his people must have whispered, "I love you so much I could die." My heart is only a small reflection of his level of love.

But I'm supposed to be here talking about my encounters with the living Christ, the Jesus who beat death and lives in our world today. In 389 days of parenting, I have learned that the living Christ is woven deeply into my son. Kip was born with a heart built for joy and love. As he has grown and developed, he has found ways to express this joy and love through his daily existence. He wakes up eager to throw his arms around the neck of anyone he sees. He finds delight in the littlest things, a shared smile or giggle, reading books, knocking down block towers, experiencing the wind and sun of nature. He brings joy to those around him, playing peek-a-boo with strangers at Target, waving bye-bye to anyone who seems to be leaving, flashing his toothy grin.

Before Jesus left earth, he promised his followers that the Spirit would be in their hearts. It is this very Spirit that builds our hearts full of joy and love. And we are reminded in Romans that where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom…freedom that my 13 month old son seems far more familiar with than I.

Kip's heart is profoundly free. He merely exists and makes an impact on the world. He does not worry if he's happy enough, if he shared enough, if he loved enough, if he's served enough people with his gift of joy. He doesn't count up his mistakes each day, those times he doesn't want to listen to his mama or climbs the stairs even though he knows full well he's not supposed to. He never wonders if his heart is good or bad. He just lives in joy and love and freedom. And I can't help but wonder if this is the sort of freedom we're all supposed to be dwelling in. The freedom of knowing we have the Spirit within us, that we will make mistakes and learn from them, and that we, just by merely existing, by freely and fully dwelling in joy and love, have an immense impact on God's world.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

In Transition

Lately, my life has been filled with comments like, "You're the happiest I've ever seen you," or "You just seem so relaxed," and "Something has changed about you." Especially for those that haven't seen me in a while, the change seems almost sudden, as if a light switch has been flipped in my life. But for those I see daily and weekly, the change has been much more of a transition over time, changes being made over months and years in nearly indistinguishable differences. But the scope of those changes collectively have been far from indistinguishable. It is apparent that I am a woman in transition. 

There are many possible reason for such a transition. Maybe I'm just getting older, and maybe this is just what happens when a person gets older. Maybe the years of experiences start to add up to an equation that looks much different than the equation of youth. Maybe it's my influences. Marrying one of the calmest people on earth tends to have an effect on one's daily living after all. Maybe a new professional position has the possibility of altering one's entire life. Maybe. 

I think the most significant change however, the one with the most impact on a personhood transition of such magnitude, is nothing more than a shift in perspective, a tip in the scale of priorities and how one views such priorities. And after a little contemplation yesterday, I think I am finally able to put words to it.

You see, much of our lives are spent striving. Measuring. Learning how to be the best, or in some cases, just managing to feel good enough. Children are taught that they can be anything they want to be, that they can have it all. But when we grow up and somehow achieve it all (or much of it, anyway), suddenly we look around and realize our own inadequacies. We have the big house but can't keep it clean. We have the good job, but someone else in the office is better at it than we are, and we're all after our boss's job anyway. We got into the grad program but can't live up to the expectations of the rest of the group. Heck, some days, even keeping my inbox or voicemail box clean is too much for me to bear. As a society, we've been taught that the only way to be happy in life is to be enough, to meet the benchmarks, to beat the competition. 

And this kind of measuring, toiling, competing life is, in a word, exhausting. It is not uplifting, not energizing, not joy creating. Sure there are moments of exhilaration, successes on projects, promotions or raises, that give us a glimmer that all the measuring against some standard was somehow worth it. But in the end, the perspective drains and destroys us. Why? Because we never can be good enough in all of our areas of measurement all of the time. We just can't. But every missed mark, no matter how small, begins to pick away at us, eat away at our very souls until we are captured in a blanket of disappointments that we've knit around ourselves. 

I've spent much of my life pursing the ruler, attempting to always be better than mark on the wall. I am naturally competitive and set my sights high on the professional ladder, the sports ladder, heck, any ladder I could find, I was looking at the top rungs only. It was the central focus of my being for much of my young adult life. And frankly, it's made me miserable. Uptight, combative, jealous, and sad. 

There's nothing wrong with being competitive, per se. Nothing wrong with desiring successes, promotions, being good at something. The problem comes when it is our sole aim in life. When the blinders are up and that's all we see - measuring up. Because no matter how driven or focused or competitive we are, we are still, indeed, human. And that humanity limits our abilities to be enough. But do you know what it doesn't limit? Our capacity for joy. 

Enter, the new perspective. 

When I changed my central focus from being enough to just being, but being with joy, everything, and I do mean everything, looks different. When you can just be, for the sake of joy, you allow yourself the option to not always measure up perfectly, with the realization that that is completely okay. It gives you permission to not feel like a horrible person when the dishes don't get done. It gives you the allowance to enjoy what you are doing without your only focus being the prize at the end. It takes away the gnawing, nagging, pick-away-at-your-soul-ness that the measuring marks do to us because the measuring marks are secondary. Joy is primary. 

Right now, life is filled with joy. My husband and I have a comfortable home that is sometimes messy and sometimes clean. We have a baby on the way this spring with not a single product picked out or purchased yet. My job is enjoyable and flexible, and I work with fantastic people to provide some amazing topics to some wonderful young adults. Some days, I screw up the grade book. Some days, I forget announcements I should have made. Some days, I'm late to meetings or miss deadlines. It's part of the journey. Sometimes I succeed on the journey. Sometimes I fail. Either way, I learn on that journey. Either way, the focus is not my ability to get the higher paycheck or the bigger programs (though I still work toward some of those goals). The focus is joy first. And things like serving others, being kind, working with instructors, and managing the details bring me joy regardless of their less than perfect execution. 

Eckhart Tolle says, "Life isn't as serious as the mind makes it out to be." This is a profound statement, especially when you learn to apply it. There's nothing forcing you to climb the measurement ladder if there's no joy in the journey toward the top. There's nothing telling you that you must measure up or that you absolutely cannot fail. And there's nothing stealing joy from your life except the way that you perceive life. Joy first. Everything else will follow.