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500+ for 50 – day 48: my “why”

Chasing dreams takes great strength and resiliency.  Anyone can have a vision for success, but it takes guts to develop a plan for action and begin working it relentlessly in pursuit of life’s greatest aspirations.  That’s why it’s so important that you have a “why” in place to serve as a persistent motivator for all that you wish you achieve.  Your “why” needs to be something powerful, something so valuable to you that as a result of its presence you will never settle or give in to the inevitable urges you receive to retreat or quit.  When you decide to commit to being a dream chaser you will need to recognize that along your journey you will undoubtedly be tempted by fears and doubts with stubborn regularity.  There will be encounters with great adversity along with moments of pain and darkness.  But if you want to see things through, you will need to remain committed to your course of action despite any obstacles that may arise.  You will need to be able to call upon your “why” to inspire you to keep going when times get tough.

My faith has always been the number one motivation encouraging my efforts to pursue my dreams.  When I began to recognize years ago that God had gifted me with a talent for writing and connecting with and inspiring others, I knew that I had to listen to His call.  After all, He had lifted me from the depths of despair to unveil my purpose for living.  He offered me life when the one that I had known had completely withered away.  He revived me as I died to my former self.  And I cannot imagine a more powerful bond to have with anyone or anything than the one that I have established with my Savior.  To know that God has taken a vested interest in you is a pretty amazing feeling.  To him I owe everything.  How could I possibly allow myself to let Him down?  I may turn away momentarily, but ultimately I will understand deep inside that I must always return to pursue my dreams not simply for me, but for Him as well – because those dreams are now OUR dreams.  I am called to live for Him.

A lot of dream chasers feel called to action to fulfill the needs of the people.  A pledge to achieve success for the purpose of enriching the lives of others is a great “why” to be embraced.  Beyond my commitment to the Lord, I too feel called to action to empower members of society.  I recognize that I have a powerful story to share, and that by playing it small I would be doing a great disservice to those in need.  By offering my own personal experiences as a sacrifice to those around me, I seek to summon the will of the oppressed and downtrodden.  I intend to offer hope to those who are lost and misunderstood.  And I pray that in leading by example I will inspire action among individuals who have lived their lives hiding from fears of criticism and judgment.  It is my goal to challenge the negative stigmas associated with mental health related issues so that I can lessen the burden that they have on the individuals who suffer silently.  I chase my dreams to motivate those like me to do the same and to prove that there is no shame in being honest and true to oneself, and there is certainly no shame in being “flawed”, as we are all the products of a perfect Creation.

Finally, at 31 years of age, I now also actively pursue my greatest aspirations for the benefit of my unborn children.  Many of my friends have already found themselves well established in their family lives with little youngsters running around their homes.  It’s adorable to see how their children seem to monitor every step that they take and every move that they make in an effort to be more like their mothers and fathers.  I see that as a great responsibility.  When I become a parent, I hope to be ready to set a tremendous example for my kids.  And I don’t want to have to think about the actions that I take; I want my steps to be second nature.  From the moment that my children take their first breaths, I want them to recognize their father as a man of consistency and faith.  I don’t want to ever have to explain my career to my children; I want for my vocation to be evident in everything I do.  When my son invites me to Kindergarten to talk to his class about what I do for a living, I want him to say, “This is my Dad, and he inspires people.”  I want my children to know that it’s sometimes best to be unconventional, and that it’s okay to believe in miracles.  I intend on creating an honest, open environment for them to share with me their feelings, their needs, and their own unique ambitions.  And I hope to empower them to be shining examples of compassion and love among those around them.  I chase my dreams today for the sake of my unborn children, so that I am sufficiently prepared for the responsibility that will come with their arrival.

Everyone needs a “why” (or two, or three)…tell me, what is yours?

May God Bless!

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500+ for 50 – day 47: beating mental blocks

Every writer goes through days when they just can’t seem to get their thoughts organized well enough to allow for their words to flow freely.  You’ve all seen the images of the author sitting at his keyboard staring at the blank screen before him as he watches the nagging cursor blink repeatedly, hypnotizing him into submission.  We all hit walls from time to time.  Mental blocks are certainly not something unique to writers only.  They happen everywhere to hardworking folks employed in countless different professions.  There will be moments during our careers when we will catch fire and it will appear as though nothing can possibly disturb or discourage our efforts.  But there will also days when we will find ourselves feeling that we are unable to focus…days when we will feel overwhelmed by our responsibilities and perhaps defeated before we even take action.  We can’t allow for those moments to leave us immobile.  We must continue forward despite the urges that we may receive to quit or retreat.

I’ve found in my life that no matter how dedicated I’ve been to my vocation I will routinely stumble unexpectedly into stubborn mental blocks without any prior warning.  Sometimes these encounters will occur completely out of the blue.  One day it may be a function of my general mood which has been disrupted by irregular rest, new eating habits or less exercise.  And another it may be brought on by something more apparent such as the loss of a valuable client or an unforeseen financial burden at home.  No matter the stimulant, there tends to be a familiar pattern with which the foundation of these mental blocks takes root.  And that pattern unfolds like this: general discomfort leads to procrastination, procrastination leads a broadened fear of taking action, fear leads to a heightened emotional state and an elevated, irrational perception of the obstacles lying ahead, and that irrational perception leads to a feeling of being completely overwhelmed, ultimately resulting in shut down, or inaction.

When we shut down, we risk sacrificing all of our previously hard fought efforts to develop our pursuits for the sake of eluding one battle with fear.  And that battle is one that we can generally fight and win with ease.  But when our systems are polluted with discomfort, we feel less capable of initiating the fight.  So rather than pursue and conquer our goals, we place them on hold until a time when we hope to feel more equipped to achieve them.  And as a result of our procrastination, our tasks grow more complex in our minds with each passing hour, leaving us feeling completely intimidated by the idea of getting started.  Our emotions sense our apprehension and start initiating widespread panic causing us to label ourselves as incapable of processing the tasks at hand.  With a racing mind and heart sometimes our most feasible option appears to be to close the door on the day and deal with scaling that wall another time.  But the longer that we wait, the steeper the climb becomes, and the more difficult it will be for us to recover our recent successes and get back on track with our purpose.

Everyone gets a case of the Mondays every now and then.  Just like a writer can’t always avoid a block, some days you too will be unable to elude the fogginess and mental fatigue that will await you at the office.  That part is inevitable.  There’s no need to apologize for feeling the way that you do.  But if you want to remain on course with your recent accomplishments and turn your day around so that you can catch fire again, you will need to remain aware of your state of mind and direct your response to it accordingly.  This is not a time to begin engaging your feelings of discomfort and allowing your emotions to take over.  This is a time to be honest with yourself and do whatever it takes to remain true to your commitments.  The fog will pass when you begin taking action.  If you procrastinate however, it will only envelop your mind further, and panic will set in as you lose sight of the wall that you had hoped to climb.  So instead, give everything that you can in an effort to harness your will, and you’ll see your way over that hurdle with ease.  Before you know it, you’ll be back at the top of your game without ever missing a beat.

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned here on my 47th consecutive day of writing it is this…You don’t need optimal conditions to achieve your dreams.  If you are passionate about what you do, your actions will carry you on days when discomfort and adversity seek to impede your progress.  If you write for a living, start stroking some keys…if you’re an athlete, head out for a jog…if you’re an artist, grab a pencil and begin doodling on a tablet – the inspiration will follow, and the fog will clear.  Don’t allow yourself to follow a pattern of defeat…you’ve worked too hard to get here.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 46: redefining “normal” at an early age

When I was a young adolescent and I first began experiencing the effects of OCD and anxiety in my life, I really had no idea what it was that was going on.  To a certain degree I was able to recognize that my thoughts and corresponding actions were not “normal”.  And I felt a lot of shame for my behavior.  My mind was manipulating me, and I understood that I was not necessarily like everyone else.  That observation led me to feel a lot of pressure to conceal what was taking place inside of me.  I felt powerless over my mind.  Fear ran rampant, and I listened to its commands.  It was as if I had no other choice.  Right or wrong, my peculiar means of surviving life was the way that things had to be for me….this was the hand that I had been dealt, and it was my job to play it.

I was fortunate to grow up in a home with a very supportive and loving mother and father.  I had every opportunity to share with my parents my feelings and lean upon their understanding and guidance to help direct the course of my life.  But even with the knowledge of a strong network of support behind me, I could not bring myself to talk to my parents about my fears, obsessions, and unstable patterns of thinking.  I was embarrassed.  While I wanted more than anything for someone to set my mind straight and restore my sense of inner peace and stability, I was reluctant to ask for help because I feared how they might judge me.  What would they think if I truly opened up to them and shared the vulnerabilities of my mind?  How could they possibly begin to offer me comfort for things that they themselves were so unfamiliar with?

My parents were my only option to utilize as a sounding board.  I wasn’t going to seek out a conversation with anyone else.  Certainly I was not going to share my afflictions with friends, classmates, teachers, or coaches when I felt far too apprehensive to even talk to my own Mom and Dad about things.  So I did the only thing that I felt that I could do.  I swallowed it.  I subjected myself to the demons in my head, carrying out their egregious demands, and I suffered silently, making every effort to hide my internal battle from the eyes of those around me.  It was difficult. Looking back on those experiences now I can conclude that my early encounters with fear and obsession were seriously impactful with relation to my development as a teenager and later an adult.  Perhaps if I had spoken up sooner I could have avoided the devastating turn that my life took in the direction of anxiety years later. 

In writing about my life today I am seeking to fulfill a mission to empower the lives of others who have suffered silently with mental illness due to their fears of judgment and criticism.  I’m hoping to create more conversations about mental health related issues and dispose of the negative stigmas associated with disorders of the mind.  Often the disorder itself is not nearly as devastating as the pressure that an individual feels to conceal it.  If we could encourage more positive discussions with regards to creating a healthy mindset and overcoming mental afflictions among society, we would open doors for healing everywhere.  And the world would most certainly be a far better place.

Unfortunately, long ago society unjustly defined mental illness as a sign of weakness and failure.  And that’s simply not at all accurate.  I am a living, breathing example that our deepest afflictions can be our greatest sources of strength.  There is no shame in acknowledging a battle within one’s mind.  Some people are asked to confront physical setbacks while others fight to restore their mental well beings – there is no difference.  We should always offer the same level of compassion and care to those who suffer with a disease of the mind as we do to those who encounter diseases of the body.

I believe that in order to make a significant impact in the futures of those prone to mental health related issues we will need to begin our conversations at an early age.  It’s critical within our society and within our homes that we create an environment for children to speak openly about what they’re encountering in their minds.  We need to rework the definition of “normal” so that children don’t feel so pressured to conceal the issues that have led them astray.  It’s not enough to simply be loving, supportive parents.  We need to lead by example as adults, showing that we are openly willing to challenge the stigmas of society so that our children can feel comfortable in seeking our support in their own personal fights for freedom.  We need to show that we are open to the idea that it’s perfectly fine and perhaps best to not fit-in.  Because the reality is that we are all unique and when we embrace that idea the pressure that our children will feel to run with the “popular” crowd will lessen quickly and their ability to perceive and accept their flaws will become far more palatable.  If children are given the opportunity to choose to view their weaknesses as nothing more than a part of what makes them who they are, they will tend to learn to handle their afflictions more effectively, and the strength of their mental health related issues will diminish rapidly, setting them up for a far more healthy future in their lives as adults.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 45: don’t be swayed

A lot of people make the mistake of believing that a life born anew in faith is one that will be lived without any major trials or pain.  While an individual who has experienced a renewal in spirit during their personal growth transformation may experience more positive days in their future than they’ve had in their past, they will not live a life without stress and hardship.  In fact, in all likelihood more than ever before they will be positioned as a target of evil.  Because the devil hates to lose dominion over those that he has had the ability to deceive and manipulate in the past.  And he won’t relinquish his control without a fight.  Anyone searching to change the course of their lives and follow their faith should keep in mind that they will have to battle to protect their beliefs.  A choice to follow the Cross comes with tremendous responsibility.  If you’re going to live by the Spirit you will need to be committed, no matter how hard you are tempted by the evil one.

I’ve found in my own personal journey that it’s often when things have been going extremely well in my life that I am challenged to remain committed to what’s been instrumental in keeping me healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually.  The devil seems to have a way of picking his spots.  He tends to make an effort to prod me when I’ve momentarily let my guard down.  That’s why it’s so critical that I remain in tune with the habits that have led me to my positive outcomes.  If I take for granted the position that I find myself in as a result of my hard work, I will leave myself open and susceptible to a strike.  And sometimes it’s completely unintentional.  It could simply be that I’ve gone a few nights without sufficient rest or that I’ve allowed a recent occurrence in my life to sway my mindset in the direction of negativity.  No matter what the trigger, I find that I am tested in moments when I am less than one-hundred percent.  The devil preys on weakness, and he delights in opportunities to seize control when we are not at the top of our games.

Yesterday was a wonderful day for me, but it was an exhausting one at that.  I woke up early and wrote my blog and got in a run, and spent the rest of the day with my best friend, his fiancé, and my girlfriend enjoying the first football weekend in Chapel Hill.  We had a great time together, but admittedly, I could not seem to shake the feeling of exhaustion that I was carrying physically.  I just did my best to ignore what my body was telling me and continued to make the most of the day.  By the time that we got home from our game and settled in to watch the end of a few of the late evening contests on ABC and ESPN, I was absolutely dragging.  I was struggling mightily to keep my eyes open.

When I finally called it a night and retired to bed, I passed out almost immediately.  I tried my best to get through my prayers but I don’t recall making it very far with them.  I was beat.  But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to rest easy for long.  Because forty-five minutes or so into my sleep I awoke in a horrible panic attack.  It was the type of anxiety that I used to encounter in my sleep with regularity when I was heavily afflicted by my disorder.  I was sweating and shaking tremendously, and for a brief time, I felt as though I was dying.  It was terrifying.  And even though I was able to regain control of myself fairly quickly, I didn’t sleep well for the rest of the night.  I was too shaken by the experience to truly be at ease.

With last night’s experience, I could have headed in one of two directions this morning.  I could have chosen to reflect on my setback and fear what obstacles might now await me in the day ahead, allowing my mind to feel defeated and vulnerable.  Or I could have decided to view the incident for what it was, simply a hot iron poke from the devil seeking to steer me off course, and continued on with my day in confidence knowing that with perseverance I would prevail over his futile attempt.  I chose option two.  And that was an easy decision for me.  In the past, I would have struggled to make that choice.  I would have likely allowed my mind to be manipulated by fear and in doing so I would have only opened myself up to greater harm…harm that might potentially impact my ability to carry out God’s plan for my life.  But not today.  Today I was aware – today I was strong.  

Do not let the devil fool you.  Be aware of his schemes.  When you are weak, you will be tempted.  Do your best to evade the circumstances that might lead you into harm’s way.  But understand that you cannot avoid every poke and prod.  Sometimes you will just need to take it with a smile and keep moving forward in faith.  In doing so you will disarm him, and his ability to influence your life will diminish over time.  If you choose to follow the Lord, you will need to accept that you will become a marked target of the evil one.  But fear not, as the devil cannot do anything with those who refuse to be influenced by him.  When you live your life with Christ, your road will not always be smooth, but I assure you, it will be the most fulfilling journey that you could ever imagine.  Don’t allow yourself to be swayed by evil.  Stand firm, keep the faith, and know that just like a panic attack, it will pass quickly if you simply remain aware of what’s happening and keep moving forward with confidence.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 44: if today was my last day

There are a lot of uncertainties in this life.  But one thing is true.  There will be a day when each of our numbers will be called and we’ll depart from our lives in the body and move on to our final resting places.  We can’t escape death.  We can only make our best efforts to promote a healthy and fulfilling lifestyle during the time that we’ve been allotted on God’s green earth.  I believe that the way that we choose to spend our days is very important.  Our Creator called us to live with a purpose.  And the best way for us to fulfill our calling is to live embracing the gifts that we’ve been given and utilize our strengths to promote the well beings of others and love those around us.

If you’ve never encountered it personally, you’ve probably seen movies or videos of individuals on their death beds, calling family and friends to their side so that they can tell them all things that they’ve kept stored up in their hearts over the years.  It’s really sad for me to think that it could take the knowledge of one’s imminent passing to spur on the sharing of one’s true feelings.   We should be telling those that we love and care about how much we adore them every single day.  Not everyone will be fortunate enough to know when their day is approaching.  Only God knows when our time is up.  Today could be the day that we that we take our very last breath.  It could come without warning at any time. 

I know that it sounds cliché, but it truly is best to “live each day as if it’s your last.”  There are no guarantees that we will see tomorrow.  So we really need to embrace the life that we’ve been given and love without bounds.  No one wants to take their true feelings to the grave with them.

In the spirit of this post, I’ve decided to share five things that I would want to be certain that those around me knew if today was my last day of my life on earth:

  1. To my family, I love you unconditionally and I am forever thankful for your support… Things haven’t always been perfect in the Deibler household even though on the exterior we sure worked hard to make it appear that way.  But despite our flaws individually and as a unit, I am forever thankful for my Mom, Dad, and sister – I love you all and could have never learned to navigate life independently as an adult without you.  You guys have seen the best and the worst of me, and you’ve always supported what has made me happy.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for loving me.  I certainly haven’t always made it easy.
  2. To my girlfriend Kelly, I will never leave your side… It’s safe to say that my relationship with my girlfriend Kelly has been the most spiritually rooted, deeply committed bond that I’ve ever had with anyone in my life.  We came to each other somewhat broken, and the scars of our pasts have not always made love easy, but we’ve remained devoted to one another through thick and thin.  And that’s very special to me.  I know that you’d love for a ring, and I’d like for that, too.  Try to be patient with me, and don’t worry, because I will never leave you.  I love you.
  3. To my best friend Jamie, thank you for remaining true…We’ve known each other since we were little.  And even though sports were constantly driving us to compete with one another, we never let that get in the way of our bond.  Competition only seemed to make us stronger.  We benefitted mutually from the growth and development of our own personal talents and skills.  And we excelled as a team, not only in athletics, but in life as well.  No matter where we are, no matter what type of distance may separate us, or how many days may pass in between our conversations, you’ll always be my best friend.  I know that I can count on you.  Thank you for enduring a lifetime by my side with a smile on your face…I’ve enjoyed every moment that we’ve spent together.  I love you, bud.
  4. To my cat Dixie, thank you for being a loyal partner in life…  From the day that you were born, you never had it easy.  The volunteers at the SPCA where I adopted you told me that you had a home, but that your owner gave you up.  That must have been difficult.  I’m thankful that now you are forever a part of my home, no matter where that may be.  You drive me crazy at times with your constant energy and pacing, but I wouldn’t trade you for anything.  You’ve been loyal to me through some very difficult times.  And you’ve witnessed my battles with the darkness on a level that no one else has and you’ve never left my side…you’ve only offered me more love and comfort.  I’m sorry for the inconsistencies and heartaches your eyes have seen over the years.  I’m doing my best to make a better home for you today.  I love you, Dixer.
  5. To the world, lead with honesty, faith and love and embrace your uniqueness… I’ve learned a lot about life in the 31 years that I’ve spent living on this earth.  To truly capture the lessons that I was intended to receive I needed to make a lot of mistakes along the way.  But what I’ve grown to understand as a result of my life experience has been priceless.  I’ve learned that there is most certainly a God, and He is absolutely miraculous in nature.  I’ve learned that very little of what the masses deem as important has any significance.  Money and things will not make you happy.  True fulfillment comes from knowing the truth and living it with love in your heart.  When you lead with faith, anything is possible.  And always, always remember that God created you with His PERFECT hands.  So embrace who it is that you are and excel at being YOU – no one can do it better.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 43: wear your colors proudly

This morning I had to head in to downtown Chapel Hill and pay a visit to Franklin Street to run a quick errand.  As I walked up the block I noticed in the window of my favorite Tar Heel sports apparel store a sign recognizing today as National College Colors Day.  Across the U.S., alumni, fans, and students alike take to the streets on the first Friday of the collegiate school year proudly donning the colors of their respective colleges and universities.  It’s a fun tradition and it’s special to me because it’s a holiday (of sorts) that coincides with the beginning of football season.  What better way to get ready for Saturday gridiron action than to gather in numbers sporting your team’s colors a day in advance of kickoff?

I take a lot of proud in my affiliation with the University of North Carolina.  I wear my Carolina blue proudly and not just on national designated holidays or game days.  Carolina is a part of who I am.  And Chapel Hill is my home.  No matter how old I get, I can assure you that I will always have a drawer littered full of Tar Heel apparel to wear.  And I won’t save it for special occasions.  Putting on my team colors is as natural for me as reaching for my underwear and socks in the morning.  I’m not a Tar Heel part time…it’s who I am day in and day out.  I’ve bled blue since childhood when I had the opportunity to take my first drink from the Old Well.  You won’t need to know me personally to understand the passion that I have for my university as you’ll most certainly be able to recognize it from afar.

UNC has served as a major contributor to the development of the qualities that make me who I am.  But Carolina blue is not the only color that I wear proudly.  My affiliation to my university is something very special to me, but the character that I embody as an individual is what really carries the most weight in my life.  When you see me on the street, I intend to display for you an accurate representation of the person it is that I have become.  I want you to see my true colors.  I am a man who is flawed.  I’m a person who has failed far more times than he has won.  But I’m also a fighter.  I’m a dreamer.  And more than anything else, I’m a believer.  So when you look at me, try to see beyond my day’s chosen attire (be it Carolina blue or something different) to witness the true colors that I have to offer you.  I wear those colors every day, and they are what truly make me unique.

In life we often spend so much time residing in fear of judgment and criticism that we never allow ourselves to feel comfortable displaying who we are to the masses.  We wait for the perfect, non-threatening opportunity to appear and invite us to securely share the traits that make us the distinct human beings that we’ve become.  Not surprisingly however, that opportunity almost never presents itself.  And as a result the world never gets to see our true colors.  No one is going to designate a holiday to celebrate our own individualities.  And even if they did, how could we possibly be satisfied with celebrating the uniqueness that we cherish within ourselves just one lonesome day out of the entire year?  That’s not enough for me.  I want to celebrate who I am every day of my life. 

Don’t wait for a special invitation to wear your colors.  Display them proudly for the world to see no matter the occasion.  If you bleed blue like I do, bleed it all year long.  You don’t need an army of like-minded individuals to give you the blessing to embrace what it is that you’ve become.  Society can’t possibly broaden its color palette until you offer your unique flavor to the rainbow of life.

May God Bless

500+ for 50 – day 42: kickoff – the intersection of passion & purpose

Today marks the beginning of a new college football season.  I don’t know about you, but I awoke with a spring in my step this morning in anticipation of tonight’s match-ups.  Eight months of waiting finally comes to a close this evening.  There’s nothing like witnessing the toe meet the leather for the first time of the season during the opening kickoff.  It’s truly a special moment for players, coaches, and fans alike.  Because it’s the signal that an inspired battle is about to take place for the next sixty minutes that will serve to potentially direct the course of an entire season for both teams.  Opening kickoff is a rebirth of sorts.  It’s an opportunity for players to connect passion with purpose and stake their claim on a new pathway to success.

The opening kick of every game has always been an emotional moment for me, both as a player and as a fan.  I can remember back to my high school days feeling the butterflies build in my stomach as we approached the gate to head into the stadium.  By the time that we flipped the coin and lined up our special teams units, I was absolutely electric.  I would feel charged with so much eager anticipation that I could hardly handle it.  I simply could not wait to get out there and deliver (or take) that first hit so that I could reset my mind and focus on the task at hand.  And the same has been true for every contest that I’ve attended as a fan cheering on my Tar Heels in Kenan Stadium on Saturdays.  There have been moments when I’ve been so torqued up prior to kickoff that I’ve felt as though I was going to pass out in the stands.  In fact, I’m getting choked up now just thinking about it.  What an amazing rush of adrenaline!?

I think what makes the opening kick so special is the fact that it is in that very moment that passion intersects with purpose and opportunities for greatness are revealed.  As a player, you spend the entire offseason dreaming about the achievements awaiting you in the fall.  You train with great intensity to develop a mind and body capable of excelling at peak levels of performance throughout the course of a four month season.  You study film, you study your playbook, and you immerse yourself full-time in football so that when the season arrives there is no need to think about your reactions in live game situations…your movements and decisions simply become second nature.  When you prepare to take the field for the opening kick, all you really are focused on is that fire burning deep within you.  You know your assignments, and you know the game plan.  Now is the time when you turn up the intensity and get ready to lay it on your opponent.

As the kicker strikes the ball and sends it high into the sky above the gridiron below, passion turns to purpose.  It’s time to get down to business.  In a matter of seconds your adrenaline will calm and a new mindset will prevail…one that is focused on execution.  This is what you’ve trained for, the moment that the rubber meets the road.  It’s time to take all of the hard work done in preparation for this day and put it to good use out on the field.  Now is the time to seize control of the battle and embrace each and every opportunity for success that presents itself.  This is your chance to blaze a new trail.  It’s a fresh start – you are undefeated, and only you will impose the limits on how far you can go in this new season.

I’ve found that when I’ve connected passion with purpose in my life, actions taken in the direction my goals and commitments tend to feel virtually effortless.  And that’s the way that it is on the football field as well.  When toe meets leather, your desire to control and overthink things goes out the window.  You just move and react, losing yourself in the game.  Your preparation directs your course and your passion allows you to excel in critical moments when you are given the opportunity to create separation from your opponent.  It’s amazing how systematically the battle unfolds when inspired effort connects with defined objectives.  Success is inevitable when you pursue goals that make you feel alive and connect with the core of your being.

If we all spent our lives matching passionate drive to identifiable purposes, I have a feeling that we’d be very pleased with the eventual course of the season of life ahead of us. 

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 41: find a way

There are going to be days when life will push you to what feels like your breaking point.  Some mornings you will struggle to pry your eyes open and get moving.  It could be the aches remaining from the day before that have you harnessed.  Or perhaps what has you off to a sluggish start is simply your anxious anticipation of the obstacles lying ahead of you.  Regardless of the primary influence causing us pain, some days just will not begin as we would like.  There are mornings when the sun will seem to rise only to awaken us to begin tackling the pile of adversity that’s been forming as we’ve rested.  And that can be difficult to handle.  We really have two choices.  We can turn off the alarm and pull the covers over our heads, choosing to save our troubles for another day, or we can remain committed to winning the next twenty-four hours and get up and begin taking action.

I’m not here to address option number one, because I’m not a proponent of hiding from life’s responsibilities.  I believe that God will never give us more than we can handle.  And I don’t expect for life to always put the wind at my back.  That’s just not realistic.  Some days we’re going to need to swim upstream to fulfill our commitments.  The destination does not change simply because we encounter less than favorable circumstances.  If we are committed to success then we must understand that certain days we may need to work a bit harder than others to keep ourselves on course.  Sometimes to win the fight we must simply be willing to commit to outlasting our opponent…it’s not nearly as complicated as we often make it.

Your actions taken on the days when you are tested will be what will define you moving forward.  Greatness is not as much about the final realization of your goal as it is about the process that you must commit to in order to get there.  It’s about remaining dedicated to doing everything that it takes on a daily basis to follow through with your vision, no matter what life throws at you.  That means ignoring pain, it means making time when your schedule is overbooked, and it means derailing every ounce of negativity seeking to lead you off track so that you can create positive outcomes for yourself each and every day.  Your grit, determination, and willingness to sacrifice comfort for growth will be the characteristics that will lead you to unprecedented new heights in life.

It’s easy to find excuses to tone back your commitment when the world knocks you over with adversity.  We’ve all had that internal conversation when we’ve bargained for a day off with our mind.  It can be very difficult not to listen.  Our past conditioning can be quite persuasive.  And sometimes it does truly present a seemingly justifiable case for its position.  But we cannot allow ourselves to get lost in the chatter of hesitancy and doubt.  We must simply take action.  These are the days when we will begin to separate ourselves from the masses.  These are the moments when we will have the opportunity to set a new, firm precedent for our future…one that states that we will not quit until the job gets done, no matter the circumstances.  These are the times when our true greatness will be revealed to the world.

So when your system sounds an alarm at the presence of pain, fear, doubts, and other distractions seeking to toss your day into chaos, respond with a resilient determination to keep heading in the direction of your dreams anyway.  Let the signals of distress be nothing more than a reminder of the opportunity that lies before you to showcase your true greatness.  And take pride in standing tall and fighting the battle when lesser individuals would have instead chosen to retreat back to comfort.  Champions remain focused and excel in all circumstances, not simply those that occur when the wind is at their backs.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 40: twenty-four hours at a time

Forty days ago I began my quest to contribute five hundred or more meaningful words to my blog each and every day for fifty consecutive days.  So after tonight, I will have completed eighty percent of my goal.  And I have to say that it feels pretty good to have reached such a milestone.  The fulfillment of my commitment is now most certainly within reach.  I can see the finish line off in the distance.  The ten days that follow will pass with ease.  And when it’s all said and done, I’m sure that I’ll feel sad to part ways with this journey.  But ultimately I know that I can keep on heading in whatever direction that I choose, and that’s very exciting.  The future is brighter for me than it’s ever been.

I’ve been approached by a number of people who have been unable to comprehend just how it is that I’ve been able to balance all of my other priorities and still find time to commit to this venture.  To be honest, it hasn’t always been easy.  I’ve had to take on quite a bit outside of my writing throughout the course of the last forty days.  My girlfriend and I just recently completed a move into a new condo in Chapel Hill.  And we’ve had our fair share of visitors this summer…my parents were in town for a weekend at the onset of this project, and my girlfriend’s parents were also here for five days just a couple of weeks later.  This weekend will be no different…my best friend and his fiancé will be spending the first UNC football weekend with us in our new place.  And I couldn’t be more excited for their arrival.  My writing will get done.  I will not break my commitment.  And if it means early mornings or late nights, then so be it.  I will see this through to its completion.

I believe that most people can relate to the busyness of life that has been so characteristic of my last forty days.  It’s our demanding and unpredictable schedules that make committing to ventures like these so intimidating.  Many people will tell you that they’d love to have the time to follow through with something meaningful on a regular basis, but that with their current schedule it’s simply not possible.  The reality is if you’re waiting until the day that you have enough time available to get started you might as well get comfortable, because you’re going to be waiting for a long, long time.  Life is not able to offer you more than your allotment of twenty four hours each day.  So you’re going to need to make time.  And that will require prioritizing.  It will mean cutting out the things that are wasteful.  If you wish to create opportunities to develop your talents and skills on a regular basis, you will need to be disciplined in your efforts, skillful in time management, and relentlessly committed to your pursuits.

Too often in life rather than taking action we instead sit idle contemplating the difficulty of the tasks that lie ahead of us.  And in doing so, we totally disarm our efforts.  We allow our doubts and anxieties about the process to discourage us, and rather than give ourselves the opportunity to fail, we quit before we even get started.  That’s why it’s critical that we restructure the way that we envision the demanding journey lying ahead.  If we focus on the monumental task that it will be to, for instance write five hundred or more words for fifty consecutive days, we’ll be sure to feel overwhelmed.  Instead we need to break it down into parts.  In my particular case, that involves visualizing how it is that I will find the time and inspiration to write today’s blog…not tomorrow’s or any day after’s.

Several years ago I remember hearing Chip Kelly, now the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and at that time the head coach of the Oregon Ducks make a statement about the motivational mantra he used with his team throughout a very successful season to keep them focused and on track with their lofty pursuits.  The words that he used were “win today”…simple but profound.  As a goal seeker with significant aspirations for my future, I found Coach Kelly’s slogan to be a very powerful visualization strategy and I sought to immediately put it into practice in my own life.  So I began making every effort to win the day with my sights locked in on the ultimate sense of achievement that I would feel when I was able to finally reach my desired milestones.  And slowly but surely, I developed a grit and tenacity within me that was unbreakable.  I grew to understand that I could routinely win the twenty four hours in front of me if I simply summoned the will to dig deep and make it happen.  Day by day, by getting the best of every twenty four hours given to me, I knew that would undoubtedly inch my way to my final destination.

Success is about commitment.  If you remain committed to the realization of your dreams, you will reach them in time.  But you can’t allow yourself to get overwhelmed by an apprehensive view of the arduous journey ahead.  You must simply take it one day at a time with resolute determination to win the battles before you and then allow yourself to rest well in preparation for the inevitable challenges to be presented tomorrow.  Don’t overthink things.  Just keep moving and remain committed to taking action no matter how challenging life may be for you tomorrow.  It’s your duty to win the day, no matter what it offers you.  If you stay committed to that principle, before you know it, you will have trained your mind and body to find victory in any circumstance.  And the tasks that originally seemed so daunting will become effortless for you to complete with regularity. 

Eighty percent sure feels like a wonderful milestone on this present journey of mine.  By I know in my heart that day forty is just another day.  So tomorrow I will go out and win day forty-one, because I understand that that’s what it is going to take to be successful.  And I know that when this journey ends, I’ll still be ready to push it again on day fifty-one.  Because all that I have are the twenty four hours that lie before me.  And I hope to make the most of them every day until the moment of my last breath.  I hope that you will choose the same for your life.

May God Bless!

500+ for 50 – day 39: one in 50 million

Inside of each and every one of us lies a dream.  And while there are many of us who are blessed to know the nature of our callings, there remain countless others still unaware of their greatest inspiration.  No matter whether we’ve had the opportunity to fully visualize the tremendous feats lying ahead of us or not, our most significant aspirations are most certainly a part of our make-up.  They were planted deep within our souls by our Creator when we were given life.  And when we make an investment in the truth and in the development of our God given purpose, our most meaningful dreams will undoubtedly manifest themselves in our minds. 

You see each of us has the potential to contribute greatly to the advancement of humanity.  No matter our skin color, no matter our birthplace, no matter the city or neighborhood that we were raised in nor the difficulties that we encountered in the early stages of our development…WE WERE ALL GIVEN LIFE FOR A VERY REAL REASON.  It’s hard to pose an argument against this.  The nature of conception is an absolute miracle in itself.  And to think that we were all chosen as one of 50 million sperm cells to be the basis of a new life….wow.  That’s absolutely amazing, isn’t it?  Someone upstairs sure must have thought that we were all pretty special.  So it’s important that we always recognize that, too.

I spent the better part of my first thirty years never really understanding how I fit into God’s plan.  To be honest, for most of that time I didn’t really care.  I was governed by selfish desires.  And I think that’s probably the reason that I felt so lost.  I was never that kid growing up who knew that he was going to be a doctor or a fireman.  I didn’t have any real direction.  I left college with a degree in History and began seeking a career that would offer me the best opportunity to make money quickly.  Because to me, that’s what was most important…get ahead, accumulate things, live the dream.  But those desires weren’t characteristic of the dream that had been planted in my heart.  Whether I had things or didn’t, whether I was loaded or broke, I never felt fulfilled living the life that I came to know chasing worldly pursuits.  And as a result I felt very conflicted inside.  It was as though life was trying to mold me into something that I was not.  And that made me feel very resentful.

After multiple bouts of heartache and more trials and tribulations throughout my twenties than most people will encounter in an entire lifetime, I finally hit my bottom.  And when I reached that breaking point, I turned to God to rescue me and offer me His guidance.  Soon after, my dream manifested.  And it’s been taking shape within me ever since.  I have admittedly thoughtlessly steered my focus away from my dreams from time to time, because honestly the world hasn’t stopped making every effort possible to influence me to head in other directions.  But ultimately, I’ve always returned.  Because I know in my heart and soul that the aspirations that have been revealed to me are critical to my fulfillment, and they’re also critical to the advancement of humanity.  So I cannot let go of my dream, no matter how difficult it may be at times to hold onto.  I know that I’ve been called to visualize my purpose for a very real reason, and I believe that God will bring my dreams to pass in this life, because that’s why He chose me, one out of 50 million, to take my first breath here on His green earth in the first place.

The tragedy of this life is that very few people remain committed to defining and pursuing their true callings.  Many of us simply float around for an entire lifetime as I did in my first thirty years, cashing paychecks, keeping busy, and following a program.  Never mind that we feel completely unfulfilled in what’s become our routine way of living.  “That’s just life,” we say as we begin to rationalize a subpar existence.  Before we know it, we’ve grown old and gray. And as things begin to slow down we finally have the time to look back on our achievements and the overall direction of the course of our lives.  Far too often, our conversations lead with “I wish I had…when I was younger” or “what if I had pursued…?”

That’s a scary way to die, and one that I hope that I never have to encounter.  I want to be able to rest easy in my final days knowing that I turned over every stone and gave absolutely everything that I had to the pursuit of my purpose.  I don’t want to sit back and remember all of the gifts that God has given me along with the dream that He put in my heart only to state that I was always too busy or too intimidated to ever develop my talents and skills and pursue my greatest aspiration.  How can I say that I ever really lived if I was never willing to invest in what He called me here for in the first place?  I don’t want to go to my grave feeling unfulfilled, knowing that I left the best of me hidden behind a distracted life.  What if God had planned for me to live a life that would change the world forever?

Imagine the society that we’d live in if everyone had the courage to believe in their purpose and follow the dreams planted within their soul.  Do you have any idea what we’re leaving on the table each and every day when we settle?  Don’t allow your ideas, your skills, your talents, and your abilities to die with you.  You’ve been called to greater service.  You’re one in 50 million – NO ONE was created like you.  And there is a very real purpose behind what it is that makes you unique.  There’s a very real dream within you waiting to take root in your mind.  And there’s a very real God watching from above and eagerly hoping to guide you to the fulfillment of the miraculous life that you’ve been given.  After all, it is He who called you.  So live it for Him before it’s too late…the world will thank you for it.

May God Bless!