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Is Failing To Plan Really Planning To Fail?

I have an issue. Well, I have many issues, but seeing as we’re still getting to know each other, I’ll keep the list short… For now.

It’s an issue that annoys me and interferes with every part of my life. I’ve tried denying it, justifying it and ignoring it, but they say the first step to recovery is admission, so, here goes. You ready? (That was rhetorical, I’m assuming you’re ready. If not, pretend I’m pushing you down the slippery slide and you have no choice but to be ready).

I’m a planner. A big, compulsive, plan-ny, planner.

I love the feeling planning brings. It makes me feel like I actually have my life sorted out. For a second, I have control. For a moment, nothing bad can happen. Why? Because it’s not in my plan.

It all started in my childhood, like all good ‘you need therapy’ stories do. As a little girl on holidays I would wake up before the sun had drunk it’s coffee, jump on my parent’s bed and insist on planning our day, from breakfast to bedtime. My family would break my heart with the news we were having a plan-free day. They wanted to head down to the beach and, “see what happens.

See what happens? That was the worst plan ever (this was the type of thing I had to deal with as a child. It was traumatic)!

These days, I’ve learned to go-with-the-flow a little more, however my planner alter ego still pops up, kind of like Sasha Fierce, except less Fierce and more Sheldon Cooper-ish.

Now before you sign me up for an intervention, deciding that I’m totally crazy and incapable of social etiquette, let me clarify that I have learned how to be spontaneous… Sort of.

I love going on adventures, impulsively going Christmas light looking and having impromptu BBQ’s on the beach in summer with my friends. I love it, just as long as my calendar is clear and it doesn’t interfere with any other plans.

Planned spontaneity. It’s totally a thing. 

And yet, as I think about some of the most memorable, fun moments I’ve had, most of them weren’t planned. In fact, very few of them were.

Some of the best nights my friends and I shared as teenagers were spontaneous summer nights at my friend Smithy’s house (Smithy is his nickname, his last name is Smith. I know. We’re pretty creative). We would all migrate from the beach to his pool, break out the BBQ and hang out well passed our curfews.

They were nights of fun and freedom. We had nowhere to be other than exactly where we were.

And none of it was planned.

There’s nothing wrong with plans, but when we’re flexible, I think we’ll find God’s plan is better than anything we could come up with.  I think God likes to mess up our plans from time-to-time, not to be cruel, but to remind us that He can surprise us with something better.

These days, guess what my favourite plan is? To go down to the beach… And just “see what happens.”

 

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Common Sense? Common Schmense!

photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc
photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ via photopin cc

It’s a new day.

Stop living in last year, last week, or last night.

Stop living in its pain.

Stop living in its failures.

Stop living in its disappointments.

Stop reminding yourself of all the reasons why now is not the right time to pursue your dream.

It’s a new day, the perfect opportunity to go after a new thing. So what is that new thing? It’s the thing that you’ve tried to forget about, tried to subdue. Perhaps you tried it once before and failed. But your heart reminds you of it constantly, when you wake up, before you go to sleep, when you are alone.

But what if you fail? Good question, I have a better one (as usual). What if you succeed? The truth is if you don’t try, you will never know if it could have worked, but I promise you will always wonder. I’m no expert but that’s got to be one of the cruelest methods of torture, because it is self-inflicted.

You don’t want to retire in the town of ‘shoulda, woulda, coulda.’ It’s overrated and its population exists entirely of bitter, under achievers who have no one in their football teams, only sideline hecklers. No one wants to bring a family up in that neighborhood, so don’t. Pack only what you need, take anyone who will join you and move.

I get it. It’s scary. So many things could go wrong. There are so many questions without answers. It’s all too soon. You probably should just wait until you can make next years resolutions. It’s just not common sense. Maybe. But what if common sense is overrated? Here’s what I’ve discovered (with a little help):

Common sense is for common things. It is not for destiny decisions. (click to tweet)

Common sense has its place in life, certainly. Looking both ways before crossing the road is common sense. Not licking a steak knife is common sense; trust me on this, I’ve learned from experience. Not texting the guy/girl you like just because you’re lonely is common sense (ok so perhaps common sense isn’t always that common, but you get the picture).

However when it comes to big destiny decisions, I think common sense can be one of our biggest enemies. It can birth a fear in us that stops us from doing the very thing our heart longs for.

Living in fear causes us to hand over our possibilities, dreams and adventures to someone else. All we are left with is a heart of regret.

Perhaps, if we were honest, we would admit that the real reason we haven’t taken that leap of faith or made that big decision is not because we don’t know the answer. It’s not because we don’t know what to do. Maybe the real reason we are still teetering on the edge, looking over the edge, is because we are afraid of how far we could fall.

Taking a leap of faith isn’t common sense. But I’m pretty sure no one ever changed the world by stepping back and walking away.  They did it by knowing when to shut off their common sense and when to listen to their heart.

What’s your heart saying to you today? Where is that whisper in your spirit directing you? My advice? Go for it! Step off the edge (figuratively speaking, very much figuratively speaking)!

Take a leap of faith and be assured of this… He will catch you. (click to tweet)

Because here’s the harsh reality: If you don’t go for it, someone else will, and they will get the reward. New things aren’t new for very long. If you don’t grab ahold of the new thing, it will soon be old. Now is the time. So, what are you waiting for?

It’s a new day. Get going. Before someone else does.

 

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You're Gonna Hear Me Roar

photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc
photo credit: Tambako the Jaguar via photopin cc

Year ten formals are a dress rehearsal for year twelve formals, I think we can all agree on that.

The year ten formal (or 'prom' for my #murica friends) is a time for girls to wear dresses that will later be shown at their 21st party, in the “remember-that-one-time-you-actually-wore-this” category (yes, there’s a whole category for that). It’s a time when your friends put in $10.50 each, so you can hire a limousine that looks like it came straight from Austin Powers. It’s a time when boys give girls floral corsages, and the girls actually wear them. It’s a time to awkwardly dance with your date, while avoiding all eye contact, but managing to step on their toes every three steps.It’s the first time you see your teacher’s dance, and the first time you wish you never had to see your teachers dance.

I remember my year ten formal, and to my delight/horror, it included all of the above experiences. My most vivid formal memory? My dress. It was exceptional, in the worst possible way, and yes, it was shown at my 21st.

It is difficult for me to convey in words just how spectacular this dress was, but for you, I will try (you’re welcome). Imagine a dressmaker taking Bindi Irwin, 1995 (the entire year of fashion), a family of leopards and Nikki Webster (Strawberry Kisses era) and putting them into one magical dress. That was my year ten formal dress.

Let’s just say it didn’t exactly compliment my awkward, teenage figure. The dress finished at my shins (flattering, I know) in a handkerchief style, like leopards had actually attacked me.

I looked like Jane of the Jungle, without my Tarzan, or any hand-eye coordination.

Go with the leopard print, she said. Everyone will love it, she said.

Three weeks prior to my formal, my sister and I were standing in the fitting-room of a major department store in the city; she had taken me out to play the role of “big sister” in search for the dress that would ensure my popularity in senior school. The pressure was on. It had to be perfect. It had to be brave but beautiful. I was stressing and had even had nightmares of turning up in the same dress as another classmate (hopefully a girl)… aka, social suicide.

I had tried on countless dresses and found nothing in the category of brave or beautiful… until these two dresses. They were now hanging up in front of us. The first option was a beautiful, electric blue dress that was very classic, very pretty, very boring. The second choice? One big, bold, brave statement of leopard print.

My sister clearly loved the leopard print dress, and went into sales-pitch mode:

“If you don’t want to be brave, go with the blue one. It’s pretty, I guess, but no one will remember you…”

I want to be brave! I want to be remembered!

“…Go with the leopard print dress, and no one will forget you…”

I don’t want to be forgotten!

“…The blue is safe, the leopard print is a statement.”

I love statements!

I picked up the brave dress (also known as “Jane of the Jungle”) and walked out of the change-room like I had just received the Nobel Peace Prize for bravest year ten girl, ever to live. That’s a valid category, right?

My poor date, Blake. All the boys had asked their dates what colour their dresses were so they could buy her a matching corsage as a gift. When it got to my turn it was clear Blake immediately regretted asking me to formal. The other guys got “pink” or “blue” or “red.” Not Blake. He made his mum go searching florists around the city just to find a corsage that matched the description, “leopard print.” The result? Orange. Crazy hair, crazy dress, and orange flowers stuck on my wrist. I was definitely a sight to be… uhh…  Remembered.

The formal came and went. But it will never be forgotten.

It took about two years for me to be able to look back, to realize and to admit how crazy I looked. But once I realized, I regretted.

In my search to be brave, I forgot how to be beautiful.

To this day I still get tagged in social media posts and receive texts from my friends whenever they see leopard print anything. For so long I didn’t wear leopard print, it was too traumatic. It was only a little while ago I plucked up the courage to admit it, to use the L word.

I actually love leopard print.

These days I wear it all the time, in moderation of course. But hey, year ten formals are a dress rehearsal. I learned my lesson and stuck to classic instead of brave at my year twelve formal.

So what did I learn? Opinions are great, but ultimately we are the ones who wear our decisions. Be careful who you listen to.

Disclaimer: As a response to this blog, my sister would like to be put on the record as saying, “the leopard print dress was awesome, the rest of Elyse’s class wasn’t cool enough to get it yet.”

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Waiting On My World To Change

photo credit: Brandon Christopher Warren via photopin cc Confession: I’m kind of impatient. To clarify, when I say kind of, it’s only an attempt to soften the fact that I’m completely impatient.

I hate waiting in traffic. I hide my 11th item at the supermarket just so I can go through the “10 items or less” checkout. I can’t wait for a song to finish before I switch to something different. The idea of watching a six hour game of cricket makes me want to scream and say bad words.

It gets worse.

Last night I YOLO’d like a fourteen-year-old at the midnight screening of the new Hunger Games because I was too impatient to see it the next day at a reasonable hour.

It gets even worse.

This one time (not at band camp), I actually threw my phone across the room when the company I was trying to contact asked me if I would mind being put on hold. Again. I’d already been on hold for 48 minutes and this was the fifth person I had spoken to. It wouldn’t be ladylike of me to name which company that was. (cough) Vodafail (cough).

Waiting isn’t one of my strengths. Here’s why:  I feel like it means I’m missing out on life.

I’m just too impatient to be patient.

Recently I’ve been through one of the biggest waiting seasons ever. God’s teaching me a lesson. That lesson is patience. And I’m learning. Slowly.

I was waiting for God to open a door to my next season because my current season was coming to a close. I felt like I was in a horror movie. It was the kind of movie where the walls are closing in on the girl and there’s nothing she can do. The kind of movie where you pull your legs up on the couch in suspense and bite your nails, terrified that the girl is about to get squished by the walls.

I was that girl.

I prayed, begged and even tried bribing God to show me what to do. I hoped that He would give me a clue as to where to go, which direction to head, or who to talk to. But there was nothing. And with everyday that passed, my current door closed a little more, and with nothing opening, I was getting claustrophobic.

I convinced myself that the reason I wasn’t getting an answer was because there was something I had done wrong. I was feeling guilty, confused and lonely. I wasn’t sleeping well and I had isolated myself from my friends.

I was convinced God He had forgotten about me.

In the middle of all this, I agreed to go walking with a friend and mentor of mine from church, Ann. I didn’t really want to go because I knew she’d challenge me and quite frankly, I was happy with my little, isolated, pity party.

As we walked I told Ann how I was feeling. Like, really feeling. I told her that I felt forgotten because God had gone silent on me when I needed his direction most.

Here’s what you need to know. Ann is wise, like Yoda. She speaks in parables, like Jesus. She YouTube’s, like J-Biebz. She is entrepreneurial, like Steve Jobs (but way prettier). She is amazing and unpredictable.

So naturally, instead of answering any of my questions, she told me a story.

The story went something like this: Whenever she took her three sons to the park, the oldest two would have to wait so the youngest could go to the bathroom. Often the older boys would get impatient and annoyed that they couldn’t just leave straight away. Ann explained to the boys that there was nothing they could do to speed this process up and they should just relax until everyone was ready. Eventually, they learned to relax on the couch until it was time.

“Elyse, the boys hadn’t done anything wrong. They weren’t in trouble. In fact, the delay had nothing to do with them. They just needed to wait until everyone was ready to go,” Ann explained to me.

That was my a-ha moment.

Maybe waiting isn’t always about me.

Maybe God was working with some of the people around me. Just maybe, although I felt ready to move into my next season, there were people around me that God needed to prepare.

“In order for you to walk with God, you need to walk in His timing. Let Him prepare the others. Relax, He knows where to find you when everything’s ready.”

It was a whole new perspective on an area I had always seen negatively. I had always thought if I was waiting, there was something I was missing or something I needed to do.

But sometimes, we just need to wait. And chill. And relax. And knowing that, is so releasing.

And when the time is right, we’ll all be ready for the next season.  And no one will pee their pants because we didn’t let them have a bathroom break. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Enjoy the wait. Maybe it’s not as scary as it seems.

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That One Time I Was The Blonde Joke...

photo credit: Sprengben [why not get a friend] via photopin cc
photo credit: Sprengben [why not get a friend] via photopin cc

Have you ever had something so embarrassing happen that even the thought of telling someone makes you cringe and look for the nearest exit? I have. Actually, it’s kind of a regular occurrence for this blonde right hurrr.

I remember one time I gave reason for every blonde joke from now until eternity.

Dad and I were on a ministry trip to the United States of #Murica. We arrived at Dallas airport and…

Before I go on… I’d like to make an official complaint. Surely there’s another time #Murica can make me go through customs? Perhaps a time when I haven’t just been sitting on a place for 15 hours, a time when I don’t look like I haven’t showered since the Middle Ages? I’m not being critical, in case you revoke my VISA, just offering some constructive criticism. (Thanks, I feel better now)

…As dad approached the customs desk I half watched, half looked for a Starbucks and half went through the security checklist in my head (wait a second…)

My checklist went something like:

  • Explosives in my bag? No.
  • Drugs? Oh, you mean apart from my massive stash of… KIDDING! (calm down)
  • Free Wi-Fi? Yes!

I looked up from my phone. Dad was not where I had left him. After darting my eyes back-and-forth as if watching an Olympic ping-pong match, I found him. He was being led away by two burly security guards into a small room (aka the room no one comes out of alive) with no windows, a security guard protecting it, and a massive DO NOT ENTER sign on the door. My happy thoughts were not so happy.

Just as I was about to extend my arm and scream “noooooo” ever so dramatically, I was interrupted by the custom officers husky voice,

“Next!"

I felt like I was walking to the principles office, feeling guilty but not sure why. I was devising a plan so as avoid getting stuck on afternoon detention… Or I guess juvenile detention in this case. I decided to work the playful, blonde, Australian card.

“G’day! How are you?” I chirped. Don’t judge me. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

My big smile was met with no eye contact, no smile, no sign of life.

“PASSPORT,” he demanded.

I could see my American Dream shattering before my eyes. I tried four times to make conversation. Fail. Fail. Fail. Fail.

He commanded I place my right thumb on the finger scanner, using as few words as possible to get his order across. My shaky, sweaty hands followed his orders.

“LEFT THUMB,” he continued.

“Yes sir.” Yes sir? Seriously? Shut up Elyse. Just follow instructions.

“RIGHT ELBOW.”

Right elbow? Was this a new procedure they had introduced? No time for questions. I began to raise my elbow. As I lifted it to the scanner, a crooked smile broke out onto the officer’s face. His eyes met mine for the first time.

“I’m just messin’ with ya. I just wanted to see if that blonde hair was real... and it is!”

A deep, husky laugh erupted from within the officer and left me feeling relieved and embarrassed in the same breath. Mr. Angry was actually Mr. Sarcastic, a trait I very much appreciated, and even more so once he stamped my passport.

(Stop laughing at me. I was fighting for my right to be allowed entry into America instead of being thrown in jail… Or executed! I would’ve barked like a dog if he asked me to!)

As I made my way through customs dad met me, apparently they needed to check a couple of details on his passport. I met him with the story of the year.

Surely there’s no lesson to be learned from this? Probably not, but I’ll give it a shot anyway. So often I persuade myself of the worst-case scenario before anything has even happened. I convince myself I’m going to be thrown out of a country, that my friends all hate me or that I’ll fail before I’ve begun.

Maybe you’re in the middle of something and you’ve already decided that the outcome will be negative. Can I give you some advice, one elbow to another? Take a step back, lower your elbow, and maybe you’ll discover that most of what you’re scared of is just speculation.

Today, pour some more water in that glass of yours and see it half full. Change your perspective. Then drink the water. It’s good for you.

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