Spring Refresh : Purpose and Authenticity

SO. MANY. DISTRACTIONS.  The lives we lead have us constantly like. . .

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Checking the FB twenty times a day to be greeted by eight notifications that friends-of-a-friend left a comment on the same picture you did. . . parties to plan. . . sweat sessions to keep your booty in shape. . . the endless list of to-dos that helps you to feel like you accomplished something in the day. . . tummies to feed. . . episodes to watch. . . people to see. . . distances to span. . . Carpool Karaoke. . . dust in the ceiling fan. . . family drama. . . “Wait. What day is it? AH! I have to bake something to take to the meeting tonight! Maybe I can pick something up on the way.”

You know the rhythm. It’s anything but routine. Almost every LifePlan I facilitate starts out with an overall objective: I would love to find balance.

Dig a little deeper and it doesn’t take long to see that Purpose is the root of Authenticity. If we know why we’re here, the driving force getting us out of bed each morning, then the break of day is refreshing and we can breathe deeply as the stars shine brightly in the night sky. The “balance” we seek is really about investing our time, energy and resources in the things that align with our Purpose and letting go of the rest.

After drawing up my Four Helpful Lists for this quarter, I shone a spotlight on my Purpose. This. This is why I want to bring all of me to the work I do. This is why I want to get involved. This is why I take time to refuel, renew, explore and grow. This is why I love on the people in my life.

Recently, I let my Purpose fade to gray. I was distancing myself, curling into a ball and preparing myself for any emotion that might accompany a cross-country move. Surely a heartfelt investment in this Colorado life would make the goodbyes more painful. Was it the right response? I can say with great confidence, “no,” but it’s how I responded. Now that we know we’re here to stay, it’s time to lace up the proverbial running shoes and get after it again. It’s time to shake off the things that hold me back.

When our Purpose is intact, when we have a deep-seated understanding of why we were created, it simplifies things. It boils everything down to what truly matters. In the end, the things that are no longer important don’t deserve a single line in our script. Paul makes it plain:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sad down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV

Why get caught up in the things that limit us, that paralyze us from living a life on purpose? Comparison is an ugly trap that leads down a dark, dark path. Procrastination doesn’t get the work done. Self-doubt drains every ounce of energy from our veins. Chasing after the mediocre and mundane is exhausting. Pride makes it all about us and leaves a disastrous wreckage of hearts in our wake. A lack of discipline hinders true growth. Fear accomplishes absolutely nothing. If we don’t understand the why, our being is calloused by everything that holds us back.

On the contrary, “going confidently in the direction of our dreams and living the life we imagined” (thanks, Thoreau) frees us to run hard after what matters most, to foster relationships that are rich in love, to come alive in our work, to see the beauty that surrounds us each day, to laugh deep belly laughs, to serve those in need, to be a voracious student of knowledge, to value physical health, emotional well-being and spiritual maturity.

Before another day of 2016 passes by, seek to understand your Purpose. As you live it out each day, you might be pleasantly surprised at how little effort is required to be authentically you!

LifePlan Toolbox

Now is the perfect time to update your Life Dashboard.

  1.  Starting with your Life Pathway, familiarize yourself once more with your Life Purpose, Vision and Strategies. This is where you’re headed! Don’t lose sight of what’s on your heart! If there is something that needs to be changed, this “GPS” is not written in stone. Recalculate your route.
  2. Move over to the Vital Signs. Do these still make sense? If not, change it up! Once you know what needs to be full for you to live out your Life Pathway, assess where you are today. Is each item a green (healthy, thriving, doing well), a yellow (caution, needs attention) or a red (bleeding, not healthy, shriveled and in need of immediate attention)? How “full” is that dot? Is it optimized or depleted. Move it to the correct spot on the spectrum.
  3. How about those things that can hold you back? Distractions. The things that will stop you in your tracks, leaving you paralyzed. Do the items on your Risk/ Obstacle Pyramid still make sense at this time? Make the appropriate updates and do a “gut check” on the red/ yellow/ green status of each.
  4. If you’re not checking in with your LifePlan Dashboard on a daily basis, get back into the routine! This simple panel is so rich and will help to keep you on track as you live out your beautiful purpose!
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Spring Refresh : Taking Inventory

First, it only seems appropriate to share an update since my last post. . .

WE’RE STAYING IN COLORADO!!!

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We are still pinching ourselves.  Staying in Colorado means that we will be able to put down roots and continue to invest in our family and friends.  What a gift!

Here in Colorado, we’re expecting temperatures in the 60’s and 70’s all week, the daffodils are in full bloom and the cyclists are out in droves.  There’s something about the return of sunshine (especially after that crazy spring snowstorm) that reassures us summertime is just around the bend.  Before we break out the swimwear and pitch tents under the stars, there is often a desire to “clean house” (be it literally or figuratively).

There is one particular space in our home that desperately needs my attention:

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What you can’t see are the items that are stashed away to the very back of these shelves.  Preparing a cup of tea starts with pulling out a layer of cups and lids, skewers and vitamins before I can even access the tea boxes.  Each time I open the door, there is a fair chance that a lighter or roll of tape will fall out with a loud crash to the floor (if I am able to move my toes out of the way fast enough!).  Conquering this space needs to happen sooner than later.  As with any organization project, it will start with an assessment of my inventory:

  • Is this helpful, valuable, often utilized? (Right)
  • Is this item rarely used, empty, easily replaced? (Wrong)
  • Where in the world did this come from?  What does it do? (Confused)
  • What items are running low that I need to add to my shopping list? (Missing)

With the trees in full bloom, I’ve had conversations with a number of women who are sensing that it’s time to align with their goals and make progress toward their Life Vision.

Similar to the way we might begin organizing the rooms of our home, the LifePlan process employs the question, “Where Am I Today?” to take inventory on our lives.  Looking at the Life Domains (Personal, Family, Career, Church and Community), we create a detailed list:

  • What’s right?
  • What’s wrong?
  • What’s confused?
  • What’s missing?

These four helpful lists are the starting point for a journey that ultimately leads to the action items for What’s Important Now.

Maybe you started out the year with good intentions of maintaining New Year’s resolutions.  Maybe your resolve is waning, maybe you’re still running strong.  Either way, the first quarter of 2016 is behind us and it’s time to get moving in Q2!

Carve out some time this week to create your own “Four Helpful Lists” and see what themes rise to the surface.  Does the direction you are running make sense?  Maybe it’s time to realign your goals to invest your time, energy and resources into what matters most.  If so, don’t delay!  Let’s rediscover our purpose and start living this day with fresh focus and strategy!

LifePlan Toolbox

*For those of you who have already completed your LifePlan, it’s time for a scrub!  Your LifePlan comes alive when you take the time to check in on a daily basis.  To keep it relevant, conduct a full review (scrub) each quarter.  Throughout this series, I will share some additional thoughts in the LifePlan Toolbox to guide you through your quarterly scrub!

  1.  Start with your Objectives.  What do you hope to accomplish in each of your Life Domains over the next three months?  If you struggle to find the words, go ahead and leave the objective blank for that Domain and then move on.  You can always come back to it!
  2. Four Helpful Lists – don’t sell yourself short here.  Don’t let distractions in.  Find a time when you can think clearly without interruption.  Have fun with it!  If you are getting serious about your Career, get dressed as though you are going to an important interview or giving a presentation.  Find a place that feels professional to you.  Maybe it’s in the lobby of a downtown hotel.  Maybe it’s at a table in your favorite coffee shop.  If your focus leans toward Personal, find a space that is part of your Replenishment Cycle.  Would you feel most inspired as you sit near a river in the mountains?  Do you need to think over this list as you paint or crochet?  Has it been a crazy start to the year?  Maybe you need to brew a cup of tea, slather on a layer of lavender lotion and snuggle up with your favorite pet in a comfy chair.

Next week, we’ll explore the “middle” of your LifePlan!  If you are struggling with how you should scrub a specific portion, I would love to hear from you.  You are likely not alone, so I can be sure to share insights on a particular point with the rest of the crew!  You know where to find me:  deanza@hearttochart.com

 

 

Four Short Weeks

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I’m quite confident that the clock is mocking me.  With every tick. . . tock. . . tick. . . we’re seconds closer to learning where we will spend the next five to seven years of our lives.  Mike traveled from city to city this winter, attending interviews at various residency training programs.  Now that interview season has come to an end, we determined how we want to rank each program and the residency programs are in the process of ranking the candidates they interviewed.  Once the lists are received into the system, a computer matches the rank lists, resulting in The Match.  The city where we hope to start raising little ones, lay a foundation for ministry, become established in our community and refine our craft as professionals will be revealed to us in four short weeks.  On March 18, 2016, the students who match into residency programs will find out where they will complete the next phase of their training.  Crazy.  It’s just crazy.  It’s also both daring and required, faith-testing and part of the process, unique and standardized.  The trajectory of our lives is totally out of our hands at this point.

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Once again, we are reminded that we never really had control in the first place.  Our lives are committed to following where the Lord would lead and the best we can do is to be faithful with what has been placed in our hands.  Looking back to the days when we started dating to how things have unfolded in my personal career path over the last couple months is proof that it is only by the grace of God that we are in this place today.

If you are in a place of the “unknown,” I encourage you to consider this verse.  Write it down.  Memorize it.  Share it with someone in your life who is also facing a season where they don’t yet know what’s around the corner.  It’s so simple, yet it is a solid reminder:

“Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!” Psalm 31:24

I’m right there with you.  While we wait, let’s choose courage and joy!

Mark your calendars and we’ll be sure to keep you updated on where you can find Team Jarrett this Summer!

 

 

Better Together – Strength in Numbers

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And then there were seven.  Seven women gathered in my living room for a simple purpose:

To celebrate.

To celebrate and connect.

To celebrate, connect and collaborate.

This group of (almost) strangers connected by a shared commitment to invest in the future of Heart to Chart.  I needed input from these individuals and recognized that there would be strength in numbers.

We tossed ideas around the room.  It wasn’t as much a “hot potato effect” as it was an AVALANCHE.  One, simple idea – a small snowball – eventually started catching speed until our final conclusions felt bigger than anything I could ever accomplish on my own strength.  The momentum was almost tangible.  The collective “GO!” was formed by the contributions of each woman, propelling Heart to Chart’s mission: to help women uncover their purpose, equipping them to leave a lasting mark on this world!

This is what it means to dream big. Our dreams can be limited by our individual capacity, but there is so much potential when we gather together!

Print“A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.  Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.” Ecclesiastes 4:12

What started as a “just another Thursday,” quickly turned to a night of excitement and creativity that launched Heart to Chart into a new season and the addition of “Let’s Talk Shop!

If you are working on a new product, a personal goal or even a movement to bring change to your community (and your world!), I encourage you to rally the troops.  Let’s be better together.

The Stir : Dodging Goose Poop

Savor your Summer. . . Savor your Summer. . .  Savor your Summer. . .

This is the current soundtrack to my stream of consciousness.  All Winter, we dreamed of these Summer days:  flowers blooming on the patio, triathlon training at the reservoir, strolling down the cobblestoned walkway of Pearl Street at dusk, family barbeques complete with water guns and a slowed cadence when compared to the bustle of the holidays.  With seven weeks remaining, I want to soak up every second of my all-time favorite season before trading flip flops for boots.

On top of the pumpkin-spiced everything and football on Sunday afternoons, I am secretly looking forward to Autumn workouts with cooler temperatures and the crunch of leaves under my feet.  I won’t be the only one to occupy the concrete trails.  Soon, there will be flocks of Canada Geese making their way to Colorado by way of beautifully symmetric ‘V’ formations in the sky.  Once they get settled in for the Winter, their unmistakable honking will be evidence of their arrival.  Hilariously enough, I’ve had a recurring dream about these crazy birds chasing me during my runs.  While I have yet to have a goose chase after me during waking hours, they do pose another threat.  It’s green and white and can be found all over.  Along almost every stretch of sidewalk there is a lovely maze of poo.

Goose Poop

Last Fall, it occurred to me that I have two options while trying to navigate their mess:

  1. I can watch every step I take when I’m in the middle of it.
  2. I can keep my gaze on what’s up ahead and use my peripheral vision to determine the safe spots to land before I even get there.

The latter is so much more efficient.  As I was thinking through the difference in each approach, I realized that dodging goose poop can be likened to dealing with the distractions in life that keep us from living to the fullest and accomplishing our goals.  Family drama can sneak up unexpectedly, coworkers can show up to the office in a terrible mood, vehicles can have expensive mechanical failures and dinners can be burned to a crisp.  These things can steal our attention and rob us of our joy in no time flat if we allow our thinking to get caught up in the mess.  Instead, we need to make the choice to see the bigger picture.  I love the way The Message translates Colossians 3:1-2:

“So if you’re serious about living this new resurrection life with Christ, act like it. Pursue the things over which Christ presides. Don’t shuffle along, eyes to the ground, absorbed with the things right in front of you. Look up, and be alert to what is going on around Christ—that’s where the action is. See things from his perspective.”

If there is a distraction holding you back, take some time to write about it, pray about it and MOVE ON!  Take your eyes off the poop and enjoy the view!

From the Bookshelf : Cutting for Stone

Over the weekend, I attended a baby shower for a beautiful friend who is expecting numero uno.  The hostesses perfected each detail in true Pinterest fashion, from the delicious Oreo truffles to the wooden blocks each guest decorated for the nursery.  Even the invitations included a clever note:

“One small request we hope it won’t be too hard,

Please bring a book instead of a card.

Whether Cat in the Hat or Winnie the Pooh,

You can sign the book with a note from you!”

Brilliant.  Just brilliant.  Instead of spending five dollars on a simple greeting card, we upped the ante a bit and included a children’s book with our gift.  I couldn’t help but to pick up a copy of one of my personal favorites:  The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear.  As an inquisitive little girl, my parents were patient to read to me on a regular basis.  By the time I was about five years old, I was “reading” What Is a Rainbow?, reciting each line by memory based on the illustrations on each page.  My affinity for reading increased through elementary school and must have peaked when my hobby was forced to be a requirement in Junior High.  Today, I truly enjoy relaxing with a good book, but I would not consider myself an avid reader.  Put a book in my hand to read before bed and I am guaranteed to be drifting off to Dreamland in no time flat.  I had full intentions of diving into my current read on our five hour train ride to Glenwood Springs (more to come on that adventure in a future post!), but found myself captivated by the landscape of the Rocky Mountains.  The distraction moved my goal from being leisurely accomplished on our Independence Day vacay to my list of to-do’s for this week.  I’m determined to get through it.  So goes my relationship with reading.

During one of his rotations this year, the Hubs was introduced to a novel that was also new to me:  Cutting for Stone by Abraham Vergehese.

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The synopsis on the back cover was intriguing, but the mere size of the 658 page brick sitting on our coffee table was clearly not going to fit into a summer schedule already packed with tri training and social/ family events.  It just wasn’t.  I may have cracked the cover, but I knew the inevitable would set in and it would be abandoned, left in my grey felt box for another day. . . or another year.

Both Mike and I commute a minimum of 70 minutes each day.  When I discovered a few quality podcasts, it was a life-saving moment.  My almost six hours in the car each week was now a time for learning, inspiration and GROWTH!  Mike followed suit by adding a shiny new Audible.com membership to our Amazon Prime account.  Between Audible and the OverDrive app, I expanded my drive time options to include some of the book titles on my list.  Once Mike finished listening to Cutting for Stone, he knew I would want to get through it for myself.

Through the month of May, I was transported to another place and time during my daily commute.  I even found myself enjoying the sound of  Sunil Malhotra’s voice as I pounded pavement in preparation for my next race.  His ability to bring life to the characters through subtle changes in inflection and various accents was truly entertaining.

Cutting for Stone is a fictional novel, laced with both historical significance and medical terminology.  The opening words set the stage in 1954 when twin boys make their way into this world – twin boys, born to an Indian Catholic nun who is working as a nurse in an Ethiopian hospital.  Through a number of dramatic twists and turns, the characters find themselves in challenging situations as a result of their own actions and the actions of others.  With the bit of anatomy and medical training I have, combined with Mike’s pursuit of his M.D., I found the details of the diagnoses and the high-stakes operations to be fascinating.  Vergehese doesn’t miss a beat in his ability to describe each situation with vivid detail.  His story incorporates a number of cultures, generations and personalities — all coming together to tell a tale of loss, triumph, betrayal, passion, change, perseverance, and love.

As a disclaimer, this book does contain some graphic content including strong language, some violence and risqué scenarios.  I would strongly caution against sharing this book with young readers.

The Stir : Decisions, decisions.

He invited me to the celebration.  I couldn’t turn down the offer.

We talked for hours over the hushed roar of the most popular Mexican restaurant in town.  The entire drive home I worked hard to convince myself that I couldn’t fall for this one.

He was about to take off on an adventure.

He invited me to his White Coat Ceremony.  I couldn’t turn down the offer.

Each member of the family was grinning ear-to-ear, so proud of their future doc.  Savoring the moment, I also fought to corral my emotions.  It could be four years before even the thought of buying a ring would cross his mind.

His adventure was underway.

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He invited me to spend the rest of my life with him.  I couldn’t turn down the offer.

Eight weeks later, we said “I do” before friends and family.  Vowing to love and care for each other in every circumstance.  Our hearts were now one.

This adventure belonged to us both. 

Time and time again, I moved cautiously toward crafting a post that would share a glimpse of our experience as Mike completes his Medical School training.  Every draft has found its way to the trash.

Earning an M.D. is a unique opportunity that is afforded to less than half of those who apply each year.  The year my husband started school, he joined 19,516 other students nationwide in first-time enrollment.  Within this small subset of the population, we found our way into an even smaller group:  married in Med School.

I was sure there would be rare moments I would want to record.  Besides, it’s not everyday that one is awakened in the middle of the night by a husband who is just coming home from a double lung transplant surgery.

And yet, this process is part of our life.  It is part of our normal.  The details might look a little different, but the reality is that we are working hard to chase after what we sense we are called to, just like so many others in a variety of situations.  We are making decisions along the way, praying for the Lord’s wisdom.

Eight months and twenty one days stand between this evening and the day we find out where we will spend the next chapter of life.

I cling to Proverbs 2:  “My son, if you accept my words and store up my commands within you, turning your ear to wisdom and applying your heart to understanding — indeed if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as silver and search for it as hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the LORD and find the knowledge of God.”

There is so much to consider at this point in the process and I know that the only way we will see clearly is to humble ourselves before the One who set our existence in motion.

As little kids, we must have read a book a thousand times that said, “Decisions, decisions.  God made decisions.”  Whenever there is a fork in the road, we still quote this line.  As it plays on repeat in mind this week, my heart is quieted.  I uncover joy when I consider that He has given us the gift of free will and perfect peace in knowing that He is faithful to lead us as we place our trust in Him.