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how to get strong

A couple of weeks ago the following quote showed up in my Twitter feed: “I prayed for strength and God gave me challenges to make me strong.”.   I haven’t been able to forget it.

It was a lightbulb/aha moment for me.  It likely shouldn’t have been.  But for some reason, these words, at that moment, made the kaleidoscope twist into focus, in a couple of different ways.

One way, is that I’ve sometimes found it challenging to be fully comfortable with the idea that my prayers will be answered, just because I asked.  And this quote, aligns more with the idea that our personal and spiritual growth doesn’t happen magically, but will require something of us.

The other way the quote was an aha moment, was the realization that just like the way to build muscle in our bodies is to lift weights and be active; the same is the case if we want to build emotional strength and resilience.  We don’t get stronger by doing nothing, it doesn’t just happen.  Often part of the experience of getting physically stronger, involves sore muscles, hard work, and some aches and pains along the way.  Again the same is often true when it comes to building other types of strength.  I’m not sure why I’ve never before seen this comparison between developing physical strength and emotional strength.

God will provide us with strength, but it might not be with the “magic wand” approach that we were hoping.  But that’s okay, because whatever type of strength we are building; physical, emotional, or spiritual; hard will and challenges will result in the outcome we were hoping for.

that’s just the way I am….

It’s easy to use the phrase “that’s just the way I am” as a justification for your actions, to rationalize your approach or beliefs, or to let yourself off the hook from doing and being better.

When we were children and teenagers, most of us were encouraged to think for ourselves, to be our own person, to not give in to peer pressure.  This was sound wisdom for someone at that age and stage of life.

Lately, I’ve been wondering if these messages from my youth are a bit too ingrained in my mind.

I don’t have to be just like everyone else, but could I be a better me?

I don’t need to do the same things as all my friends; but are the things I’m doing, helping or hurting (both myself and others)?

Maybe the problem isn’t with the “that’s just the way I am”  idea, as long as I don’t finish the sentence with “and I’m not going to change”….

There is nothing wrong with embracing and valuing the person you are.  It’s even better when you can see ways you can maximize your personality and gifts to be the best person you can (even when that means changing).

 

 

They are life ideas….

Seth Godin has create this list and entitled it “17 Ideas for the Modern Work World” (for the full article click the link).  I keep coming back to it, and I share it with you, because I think it’s a great list for life.   These ideas/rules apply to work, they apply to relationships, they apply to things we do each day and the way we life our lives.   Be encouraged and inspired.

You are more powerful than you think
It’s bigger than you
Leaders are made, not born
Leveling up is a choice
They say you can’t, we know you can
Dance with fear
See, assert, change
Overwhelmed is temporary
Out loud, in public
Hard work is far better than busy work
The crowd is wrong. The critics are wrong. Useful feedback is precious…
Management matters. So does leadership…
“Here, I made this.” Or possibly, “Here, we made this.”
See the end before you begin the journey
Culture defeats everything
It’s personal

Learning & Teaching

Most of us have things we want to learn.

All of us have things we could teach others.

Learning and Teaching are activities that seldom happen in isolation.  Learning and teaching involves interacting with other people.  Even on-line learning and teaching involves interacting with someone, whether it’s the person who created the written material or the person who posted the video on YouTube.

There are so many people and groups and communities that want and need you.  Some have skills and want to share them with you.  Others need you to teach and share the skills you have.

But learning and teaching also means change.  You never know what will happen when you connect with others (even indirectly by posting a video) as part of sharing what you have to teach.  You never know how you will grow or your life with change as a result of learning about something new or gaining a new skill.

 

If you weren’t afraid of change, what could you learn?

And if you weren’t afraid of rejection, what would you teach?

Today consider what you want to learn and who might be able to share that with you.  Also consider what you have to teach and who you could share that with.  If it’s easier to take a small step, maybe consider people you already know.  Or maybe it’s time to take the big leap.

Either way, consider this thought: “Each of us is becoming, becoming something better or something worse. And we become what we teach and what we learn.”

What do you want to learn today?  What could you teach someone else?

A side effect of slowing down

I’m not a swimmer.  So I apologize to those who are, as this analogy many not be perfectly articulated.  If while swimming, the current is strong or there are lots of waves or you have been swimming for a long time and are getting tired; you turn your focus to staying afloat.  You don’t worry about if the strokes are perfect (or even if you are doing an official swimming stroke), if you look ‘pretty’, or even if you are really getting anywhere.   In these situations and at these times, you just make sure you don’t drown.  But in calmer waters, or when you have more energy, or when you haven’t been swimming for hours; then as you swim you might think about how you are kicking your feet, if you are swimming in a straight line, what is in the water beside you, etc..  It’s when you “slow down” (or you change the environment around you) that you can focus on what you are doing and the world around you.

It’s been almost 2 months since I reduced the hours I spend at work (by this I mean my official, out-side the home, paid job).  This was a change I welcomed and was excited about.  I’m still happy to be working few hours each week.  The positive side effect of this change is that I feel less rushed overall in my life, have time to explore new activities, and am spending more time connecting with the people who are important to me.  In keeping with the swimming analogy, you could say the waters are calmer and I don’t constantly feel like I’m treading water.

A more challenging side effect of this change is that I have more time to reflect on so many things.  I have more capacity to notice and reflect on my interactions with others, the choices I am making, the way I respond to various situations, the emotional wake I may leave with my words (and in many cases what I’m noticing is not always positive).   And given that I have more capacity and more time these days, that means I can’t give my self any excuses or let myself off the hook.  It means I need to try and do better.  It means I need to try and be better.  It appears I need to start changing my swimming strokes.  And hence the challenge.  This is a side effect of slowing down that I had not anticipated.

 

hiking – change of plans

Due to the unpredictable weather forecast these past few days, we made some changes to our hiking plans.  We had originally planned on hiking for two days (Monday and Tuesday) and finishing up the Beaver Valley section of the trail (near Markdale).  But the risk of thunderstorms resulted in some changes.  Instead we choose to hike only 1 day (Monday), and so with this change, also changed the hiking location.

We spent a beautiful, hotter than expected, Monday hiking through parts of the Dundas Valley and then into the west end of Hamilton.  While we had been to the Dundas Valley to hike several times in the past, perhaps our recent hiking pattern of being on less traveled sections of the Bruce Trail, caused to forget how well maintained and “easy” the trails are through the Conservation area.  The first portion of yesterday’s hike was on wide, gravel packed trails.  No worries about roots, no worries about brushing against poison ivy, no long grass with the risk of ticks.  All these positive features, also means there were lots of people, bikes, dogs, and babies.  We were out of the habit of seeing people when we hike.

A highlight of the hike was meeting a couple of hikers who were from Vancouver.  They had come to Ontario just to do the Bruce Trail. It was day 7 of there month long of hiking.  We celebrated that they identified us as fellow “hikers” (vs dog walkers – their words).

It was a beautiful day for a hike.  And today while I write this and look out my window at the gray, overcast, sky that looks like rain, I’m happy with our decision to only do one day.

The photo below is of Sherman Falls – which is visible from the trail, but apparently privately owned.  Thanks to the waterfalls owners for letting the trail pass by this beautiful site.

The Beaver Valley

We did some hiking on Friday and Saturday.  Well 27.2 km to be more specific.  There is a section of the Bruce Trail where the trail goes south along the Beaver Valley and then turns north and goes along the west side of the Beaver Valley.  We are now hiking along the west side.  While it’s kind of neat to look out over the valley and see the places we hiked and looked out on the east side; it also feels like we have been in hiking in this part of the province for a long time.  We are starting to feeling like Flesherton regulars.

The sections we hiked on Friday and Saturday we a mix of roads, fields, grass lands, wooded areas, wet areas, and hills.  So I guess you could say a good representation of the entire trail.  And our feet and muscles are feeling it.   And despite some other challenges, we focused on the fact that the weather was perfect for hiking.  To keep that positive feeling going, we choose to only do 2 days of hiking and not hike on Sunday as we had originally planned.  When we have a moment when we aren’t sure about our decisions to hike (or in this case not to hike), we remind ourselves that this is supposed to be fun and enjoyable.  We like hiking and we liking hiking the Bruce Trail, and we are happy be working towards our goal of doing the entire trail.  But we no longer feel obsessed with doing as much as we can, as quickly as we can.

And perhaps there is the wisdom from these couple of days on the trail.  To quote Linda from one point during our Saturday morning “Sometimes you hike up a mountain when you don’t need to”.  I wasn’t sure of the life lesson at the time, but now I think perhaps the learning in that statement is that it’s not about doing as much as you can, as quickly as you can; sometimes it’s just being not about achieving.

The waterfall where we had lunch on Friday.  There was a newly built deck with benches here.  And so even though we had only begun hiking 7 minutes before we got to here, we stopped to have lunch and enjoy the view.

I think perhaps I took pictures of these red roofed buildings from the other side as well. The ridge in the background is the East part of the trail, just north of Old Baldy.