As you look back on 2019, what was the best feeling you felt?
Think of all the days, all the experiences, all the things that happened over the course of 365 days. Which moments felt the best? Which feelings would you like to feel again?
This is a powerful question.
So many times we think about our life in terms of what we have done or what we have accomplished or what we want to do in the future. Right now, in fact, you might be thinking about making some new goals. All of these goals are likely to be things you want to do in the coming year.
But instead of thinking about your new year in terms of what you want to do, I love the idea of thinking about what you want to feel. 2020 is a blank slate. What feelings you do want to be sure to feel during the next 365 days?
And what will you need to think in order to create those feelings?
Remember it's never what we do that creates our feelings. Every feeling is preceded by a thought not an action.
Do you want to feel excited? Do you want...
Every year I write a letter to our friends and family about what I have learned throughout the year. This year it was all about what I learned about fear and self-doubt. I thought it might be helpful to some of you as well.
Dear Loved Ones,
This fall, Olivia was traveling in China from Nantong to Wuxi, a ten-hour trip through a country she knew nothing about. She couldn’t speak Chinese so she couldn’t even buy her own bus ticket. A stranger helped her get a ticket, but when he handed it to her, she couldn’t read the characters to see if had been issued for the right destination. When she went to board the “bus” to Wuxi, disconcertingly, it turned out to be a non-descript, 12-passenger van. She had no idea if it was the right bus, going to the right place, or even, if it was a bus at all. She couldn’t read the highway signs along the way and her phone couldn’t access the internet to verify her route. Was she going...
It's no secret that I am a Christian. This week my family and I will celebrate the birth of our Savior which occurred over 2000 years ago.
For over four millennia before his birth, Christ's coming was just a thought. God told his children that he had provided a way back—that there was a way to escape all the pain, and heartache, and mistakes, and grief of earth life.
He said there was a way to try again. And again. There was a way to be together again. Even after death.
This was only a thought, of course. Jesus had not come yet. The Messiah was only a promise of something wonderful to come.
But this thought sustained the people that believed it and allowed them to endure and overcome the sorrows and sins of their earth life experience and look forward to his arrival.
And then he came. He lived and he died and he made an infinite sacrifice for all mankind.
And now, again, the miracle...
I told my husband this morning that our to-do list is winning. No matter how much we do, it just gets longer.
Which means I'm losing to an inanimate object—that I created.
Can you relate?
But then, I remembered something that helped me and maybe it will help you too.
Whenever we feel overwhelmed it is because of our thoughts—our thoughts that we have too much to handle, that we can't possibly do it all, and that consequently, we are all going to die. (Our brains throw that last part in there every time.)
But the truth is that, even though I always feel overwhelmed during December, to date, no horrible, catastrophic thing has ever happened because I didn't get something done. I haven't died yet.
I've just had a lot of painful, anxious, irritated Decembers.
Which means, maybe my brain is wrong about all of it.
Maybe whatever I choose to handle will be enough. Maybe I don't have to do it all—at all. Maybe I'm not...
Last night I went to a concert at my son's school.
His band teacher did something unusual. Instead of having a concert that featured the bands from each grade—5th, then 6th, then 7th, then 8th, then the high school band—she chose to hold the concert with only the 5th grade band and the high school band.
The other grades had their concert on a separate night.
She said she wanted parents to be able to see the remarkable difference between these two bands, one at the very beginning of their band experience and one at the end for many of the students.
Most of the 5th graders have only been playing their instruments for three months. Many of them have never read music. When they played, they struggled to play in tune. There were lots of squeaks from the clarinet section. They plodded slowly and painfully through "Jingle Bells."
And then the high school band took the stage. They sounded like the London Philharmonic in comparison, with...
This week my mom celebrated her 70th birthday.
And I have been thinking about all the things she has taught me. There are lots, of course.
How to sew curtains and make pie and set a proper table.
When to use cold water, when to add the yeast, and when to call the doctor.
What to do when the baby won't stop crying or what to take camping or what to plant in the spring garden.
Where to find truth, where you can go through the pages of a book, and where to buy high quality dress shirts.
But of everything she taught me, the most important are the why's.
Why you sacrifice. Why you grow. Why you love.
She taught me these by the way she lives every ordinary, insignificant day of her marvelous life.
In the end, the why's are the only things that really matter.
Why do you do the things you do? Do you do it for growth? Do you do it for the stretch and the sacrifice? Do you do it for love?
In a life full of how's and when's and what's and where's, don't forget that what really counts is why.
Early on Wednesday morning we went to take family pictures.
We had to get up at 5 a.m. to be dressed and ready and in the right place when the sun came up.
No one wanted to do it.
I mean, no one.
But we did it anyway. And they turned out beautifully.
And now we have these pictures forever.
All the way home, I said, "I'm so glad we did this." And future me will always be glad that we got up and made ourselves a little bit uncomfortable in exchange for that picture.
That is always how it works.
We all have things we'd like to do. But they are hard. They require us to be uncomfortable in optional ways. And In the moment of doing, we'd all rather opt out.
Today, choose to do the hard thing that future you will thank you for.
You'll always be glad you did.
P.S. The holidays can be the best and hardest time of the year for many reasons. But no matter how big or small the problem, the solution is always found in your own mind. Sign up for a free coaching session and I'll show you...
There is a simple little thought choice that we make every day—that we make many times a day—that can change our entire perspective on our life.
That choice is between the words "have to" and "get to."
In our lives there are all these things we could do because we have to do them, or there are things in life we do because we get to do them.
And the most amazing part of this choice is that neither perspective has anything to do with the truth of what is happening. It only has to do with the way we tell the story.
This week my kids are coming home from college and we get to spend a few precious days together. But I noticed this weekend that I was feeling put out and irritated because I had a whole list of "have to's—things that I "had to do" to prep for their arrival and things I "had to do" to get ready to relax and enjoy my time with them.
As I was coming out of the grocery store last night, feeling ragged from my "have to's," it suddenly...
My bathroom scale has bluetooth that connects to an app on my phone that records my weight data every day.
The other day, I stepped on the scale and my app flashed a question: "April, is this you?"
Apparently the data was so different than what it usually is, the app was unsure if it was recording data for the right person.
Yes, it is me. (There's nothing quite as humiliating as when the inanimate objects in your life start to pass judgement on your current results, right?)
Of course, my scale and my app cannot pass judgement. Technically, they can't think for themselves. Which is what judgement is. Judgement is just thinking.
And only I could do that in that moment.
Only I could judge my current result because I was the only one in the room that was thinking. And my thoughts were not positive. My thoughts were creating the humiliation I felt.
When my app asked if that was really me, I had all kinds of judgement about what that meant about...
Did you know you get to believe whatever you want?
I mean, really. Whatever you want.
There is a man in my neighborhood who believes the world is flat. He has a truck that he wrapped with vinyl graphics advertising his belief in the "Flat Earth Theory" and letting the whole wide (round) world know that they've got it wrong. He even has a website you can visit for more information.
This week as I saw him driving, I thought about the things I believe—about myself, about my life, about my potential.
Do I limit myself by what I've done in the past?
Do I limit myself by what I think "is reasonable?"
Do I limit myself by what is considered "common knowledge" or even "logical?"
What would happen if I was willing to suspend all my current beliefs about myself and consider the radically audacious? Or even the ridiculous?
I just want you to know there are no belief police. No one can tell you what you can and can't believe about yourself. (Or anything else for...