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wisdom

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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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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part Two)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc Dear Teenage-Elyse,

It’s me again! I hope this isn’t turning into a creepy, Ghost-From-Christmas-Future type thing.. Of course, we're PK's, therefore we don't believe in ghosts, right?

Anyway, below is some final advice I want to give you... So here goes:

6. It’s ok that you love leopard print. Rock it.

The crazy little quirks that make you feel like an outcast right now? They are exactly why I have learned to love you. Please, stop trying to hide them. Stop trying to do what everyone else is doing.

Here’s a secret:  None of your friends know what they’re doing either; they’re just as insecure as you. So, they’re going to copy someone, it may as well be you!

Learn who you are now before the world tells you who you should be. Should is overrated, I mean the world itself is just weird, go on, look at it. Weird right?

So, stop hiding your freckles with foundation, enjoy your Fanta instead of sparkling water with lemon, and work the leopard print everything. You are so much more fun when you are you.

7. Cheating is overrated

In the ninth grade you’re going to get caught for cheating on your English assignment. Apparently you’re not as stealth as you think because you forgot to read through your stolen assignment before you handed it in. You're story about “wishing I wasn’t the only son in my family" kind of gave it away. Your brother won't be too thrilled either, he worked pretty hard on that.

Here's a tip: do your own work.

The feeling when you receive a good grade on your own work is amazing and (heaven forbid) you might actually learn something! Plus, if you do cheat, Mrs McGovern will find out, and the feeling of getting caught will make you want to crawl in a hole and die. 

8. Stop kissing boys.

(You totally skipped down to reading this one first didn't you...)

Despite what you think, the excuse that you’re trying out for The Bachelorette is not valid. Neither is the excuse, "but he looked like Zac Efron!"

I know you think doing this kind of thing will make you feel attractive and wanted, but it won't. All it does is leave you feeling lonely and guilty. Trust me, I know better now.

Deep down your heart desires love and value. I get it, you want to be swept off your feet and looked after. You'll have that, just be patient. Trying to rush your fairytale will only leave you running out at midnight, with no shoes, feeling like a pumpkin... With no Prince.

9. Your friends are waiting for an invitation. Just ask.

You know how much you want to go to Josh’s party on the weekend, but you’ll pretend you don’t care until someone invites you? Your friends are they same. They want to come to youth, but they don’t want to invite themselves.

Your friends see an invite, any invite, is a verification of your friendship. That includes church. Let’s face it, right now their only plan is to sit at home and watch re-runs of Saved By The Bell.

They won’t definitely come if you invite them, but they definitely won’t come if you don’t invite them.

When you leave school, your biggest regret won’t be missing a party, forgetting that it was mufti day (although that sucks) or getting a detention. It will be that you kept your mouth shut. Please, speak up. Their eternity is more important than your reputation.

10. It's ok to fail.

In fact, it’s kind of liberating. Don’t put so much pressure on yourself to get it right, every time, all the time. That kind of burden will make you feel like you've just run a marathon, without burning the calories. Exhausted yet unsatisfied. Trust me, you’ll learn more from your failures than your successes.

 

I’ll write to you again one day. For now, have fun. Appreciate high school, your really fast metabolism, and the fact that mum still makes your bed.

Oh, and don’t try to “grow up” too fast, I know right now it seems as exciting as the idea of being BFF with Miley Cyrus. But, as cute as she might look now, having the “best of both worlds,” one day you’ll be glad you didn’t make her your best friend.

Love, Elyse x

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A Letter To My Teenage Self (Part One)

photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc
photo credit: incurable_hippie via photopin cc

Dear Teenage-Elyse,

How do you start a letter to yourself? How are you? What's new? Seen any good movies lately? Uh oh, I hadn't thought this far ahead, and apparently I suck at talking to myself... Which may not be a bad thing.

I've only thought about the idea of writing this letter, but I've thought about it a lot. I've wondered what I might tell you, what advice I might share with you now that I'm older and wiser (maybe only a little wiser, but that's something, right?).

So here's where I'm at in life – I’ve finished school, had an adult job, and decided adult jobs aren’t that much fun. I’ve made friends all over the world that will last me until forever o'clock, and I've had my heart broken. And now that I’m here, 24-years-and-5-months-old, I think there are some things you should know. There are some things I wish I’d known earlier, some lessons I wish I learned sooner, and I want to share them with you.

And maybe, just maybe, someone will look over your shoulder while you read. Maybe there is a teenager who will read this and learn from my mistakes. Or even an adult. After all, you’re never too old to learn something new.

So here are ten things I want you to know, five today and five later this week. You see, I write blogs now and, to be blunt, I need to spread this kind of thing out.

So here are the first five:

1. It all makes sense in hindsight.

There are going to be opportunities you miss out on, relationships that end, things that don’t go your way (I know, shocking right?). It will hurt and there will be ‘ugly cry’ tears. Sometimes it will leave you really confused, and you may even question God. That’s ok. He can handle it.

But just know, there will come a day where most of it makes sense. And the things that don’t make sense? I’ll write you another letter when I’m 50. Surely everything makes sense when you’re 50.

2. Let him go.

There’s going to be a boy that sweeps you off your feet. There will be kisses in the rain and dancing without music. He will write you letters and songs and for a little while you will feel like the luckiest girl in the world. But it will end. There will be broken hearts and you will wonder if anyone else will make you feel like he did. It’s really going to hurt and I’m really sorry I didn’t walk away sooner.

But please, don’t go over every text message, every photo, every conversation and every memory like a broken record. Don’t shut yourself off from the world because you feel like your best days were with him. You need to let him go.

Let Jesus in. Let Him put the pieces back together again. He’s got someone better for you, I promise. So, turn off PS. I Love You, call the girls, put on your heels and go out. It’s time to move on.

3. Bullies aren’t just a ‘high school thing.’

Remember how you thought once you left high school you wouldn’t have to deal with jerks anymore? Well don’t shoot the messenger (especially since the messenger is you), but some people never grow out of it.

There are some girls that never grow out of trying to be ‘Queen Bee’, bullying everyone else so they feel better about their own lame lives. There will still be guys who use girls, breaking hearts as easily as they broke curfew in tenth grade. Some people will bully you for the decisions you make. You’ll find out later on (at your school reunion when they’ve had three hours too many drinks) that it’s only because they secretly wished they could’ve made the decisions you did.

My advice for the Peter Pans of the world, the ones who refuse to grow up, the ones that think Tinkerbell and her ‘special dust’ can get them out of trouble, is this: Don’t try to change them. Let them go to Never Never Land and discover that it doesn’t actually exist.

Those people have more issues than a Dr Phil marathon, and ‘aint nobody got time for that’ (that’ll make sense in a few years)!

4. Get back in the race!

Even though dad calls you his little angel, you aren’t (don’t worry, we can still pretend you are). You are going to mess up, and you’re going to do it a lot. Just when you think you have it all together, just when you feel safe to call yourself a Christian, you will do something so stupid.

In that moment of ‘oops-I-did-it-again,’ don’t listen to the voice that tells you to run away from God. Tell that voice to “go to hell” and run to Jesus. He will be waiting for you, with open arms. He’s already forgiven you. He dealt with the sin issue ages ago. The quicker you accept His grace, the quicker you’ll be back on your feet.

Jump up, dust yourself off, and get back in the race.

5. Crimping your hair isn’t as cool as you think it is. Trust me.

I think that’s enough for now, see you in a few days. Oh, and the purple tracksuit you wear every day isn’t as cute as you think it is. Sorry love.

Love, 24-Year-Old-Elyse xx

 

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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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