Small Enough to Make a Difference



This past week, Calgary experienced what has been dubbed as “Snowtember”. Three days of heavy, wet, snow that put 2014 into the record books. Power wiped out to thousands, dozens of traffic lights on the blink, numerous closures and collisions, and “Treemagedon”. An abundance of leaves still on the trees plus a large amount of snow combined to cause approximately 2,000 trees to collapse onto roads, power lines, and vehicles, and thousands more to fall on private property. Countless other trees lost branches that still litter driveways, roadways, pathways, and sidewalks.

Last night, I went for a long walk to enjoy the beginning of the gradual transition back to seasonal weather. As I walked, I couldn’t help but survey the “Treemagedon” damage because it was literally everywhere. But, what I found most surprising was that the majority of smaller and more delicate trees survived virtually unscathed while the larger and seemingly hardier trees were the ones that tended to suffer damage, many irreparably so. Which was strange because, after all, it’s the mighty who stand and the weak who fall.


Well, just ask David and Goliath about that.

Goliath was a giant… approximately 10 feet tall. Huge by anyone’s standards. To make matters worse, he was a nasty giant.

He was so cocky that, after taunting the Israelites twice a day for forty days, he challenged them to send out a worthy opponent to square off against him once and for all. The stakes were high… if the Israelites lost, they would become subjects of the Philistines (also a nasty bunch…). Typically, matters of that nature were settled by a full scale battle, not one man against another. So, to challenge the Israelites in that way, I think Goliath was convinced he was invincible. I also think he just wanted to show off. He knew that any opponent would be very small by Goliath standards.

Well, the opponent who stepped forward to accept the challenge was small. In fact, little more than a boy, according to the Bible. So, I’m guessing the Israelites must have been despairing at that point, since the pending duel was looking like it would be a case of no contest. But, appearances can be deceiving, and they certainly were this time.

David cast off the armour that the king tried to put on him because it wasn’t familiar to him. It’s interesting that, in contrast, Goliath was decked out in armour from head to toe. Ten feet tall and you need full armour??? Seems like a case of overkill to me (no pun intended…).

But, David didn’t miss a beat. He didn’t let fear of his opponent turn him into someone he wasn’t. Staying true to his shepherd roots, he stepped forward for battle, not with a sword, but with a slingshot and five little stones. The Israelites must have really been sweating by then!

Just five little stones. But, four of them proved to be unnecessary.

Predictably, Goliath made the first move but David courageously responded by not just running to the battle line but by running quickly (!) to the battle line to meet him.

And then it happened.

David slung the first and only stone, and the giant came tumbling down. Dead before he hit the ground.

Oh, how the mighty fell.

Appearances can be deceiving… that statement bears repeating. It’s often a storm or other adversity that separates the oak from the seedling. We naturally assume that the oak will prevail but size and outward appearances are no guarantee of strength or success.

History is full of examples where the underdog prevailed. Often for reasons as inexplicable as the smaller, delicate trees surviving what the bigger, hardier trees did not.

I’m reminded yet again that it’s what’s inside that matters most. David had character, courage, persistence, and humility. He was a small boy with unwavering faith in a God who was way bigger than the giant in his life. A God who is way bigger than the giants in our lives.

The challenge is often given for us to dare to be a Daniel (good advice, btw) but I would also throw out the challenge to dare to be a David.

Be small but mighty. Go and slay a few giants.

To quote an African proverb… “if you think you’re too small to make a difference, you haven’t spent a night with a mosquito”.

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At nearly every turn, I see articles and/or books about love, friendships, and relationships but I don’t nearly as often see things written about trust.  Yet every aspect of our lives hinges on it.

Consider this… we trust that our car won’t malfunction and put us in harm’s way while we’re driving, we trust the pilot of the airplane we board to get us safely to our destination, we trust that the company we work for will pay us regularly, we trust that restaurants will serve us food that has been properly stored and prepared, we trust the medical profession to properly diagnose and treat us, we trust the bank with our money, we trust that our friends, family and/or significant other will not betray us in any way.  Trust is foundational to our lives. We all trust whether we like it or not.

We’re often not consciously aware of all the ways that we trust.  And that’s ok.  If we stopped to think every single time before we said or did something – about whether or not we should trust in that instance – life would grind to a halt.  It would actually breed two unwanted things… paranoia and fear. To coin a phrase, we would start finding a demon under every doorstop.  That wouldn’t be healthy or productive.

But the flip side of that coin is that sometimes we trust too much or our trust is misguided.  We shouldn’t trust blindly, although blind trust does have its place.  If your house is on fire and the fire fighter climbs up the ladder to the third floor to rescue you, that is not the time to insist you never trust anyone to carry  you.

One thing I appreciate the longer I live is the benefit of first hand experience.  I’ve learned that I couldn’t trust people I should have been able to trust, and I learned that if someone starts out as untrustworthy, that’s most likely the way they’re going to stay.

I also appreciate the God given gift of gut instinct.  Think of it… if someone betrays your trust, the first place you feel it is in your gut.  It’s like you’ve been kicked in the stomach.  So, while I’m aware that my gut instinct could potentially be wrong, I’m not apt to outright dismiss it.

Instinct always deserves careful consideration.

I’ve decided that the older people get, they often fall into one of two categories… they trust everyone or they trust no one.

You’ve heard about the too trusting ones.  Scam artists target them by phone and/or by e-mail.  If you act in the least way official with these people, they’ll tell you anything.  “Hi, I’m with Bank XYZ.  We inexplicably need you to verify the banking information we should already have.” So, of course, they tell you everything.  The next thing they know, their account is empty.  Or their credit is ruined.  Or both.

But, you’ve also heard of the chronically suspicious people.  They’ve never learned who or what to trust so their policy is to distrust everything and everyone.  Relentlessly.  Irrationally.

I don’t know about you but I don’t want to ‘grow up’ to be either of those people.

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I have been badly burned in the trust department – as I’m sure most people have.  Some of it could have been outright predicted; some of it no one saw coming.  Regardless, it would be easy to just decide to never trust again.  After all, it usually only leads to heartache, right? That way of thinking schools us to end up like person #2.  Or we could just keep trusting everyone regardless… and become like person #1.

For me, the hardest part of choosing to trust is letting my guard down.  Allowing myself to be vulnerable is, well, kind of vulnerable.  But, I believe the experiences I’ve had in life to this point have equipped me with the knowledge to make better choices in all areas, including who I can and can’t trust.  That being said, I will probably always go to doctor’s appointments having done at least some background research. I don’t care how good the doctor is, I’m not going in there blind.  And I’ll probably continue to keep certain people at arm’s length because of damaged trust in the past… which is along the lines of eyes wide open.

But, my ultimate goal is balance.  Surrounding myself with quality people who I know I can trust implicitly.  Who I can let my guard down with.  Who I can just be me with.

It’s worth it to figure out the difference.

Trust me.  I know.


Fear not…

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Last night, I watched the movie, After Earth, starring Will Smith.  I won’t give away any spoilers but one line in the movie (which incidentally is the tag line) really got me thinking…

“Danger is very real, but fear is a choice”.

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I stopped to consider that statement and here’s what I’ve come up with…

Fear can be instinctive – and sometimes even justifiable – but anything beyond our initial gut reaction truly is a choice.  Fear can be rational but it is far more often paralyzing, life controlling, and irrational.

An emotion intended to protect us actually works to destroy us the longer we experience it.

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Fear holds us hostage more than any other emotion.  Even more so than hate, at least in my opinion.  In fact, I think fear is often at the root of hate.  But, that’s a different subject for a different day…

F.E.A.R. – False Evidence Appearing Real

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Like most people, I’ve had my struggles with fear – disguised as worry, anxiety, apprehension… you name it.  I know what it’s like to have fear rule my life.  But I also know what it’s like to conquer fear to a great degree.

Just over a year ago, I drastically changed my life in literally every way.  I got to the point where my fear of staying the same was far greater than my fear of the unknown.  I made the choice to live beyond my fear, and it’s been one of the best decisions of my life.

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Notice that I said “best decision” of my life and not “easy decision”.  The first few months were unbelievably tough.  I wrestled with fear like I have never wrestled before.  Most days it felt like I was walking with my feet encased in cement.  But I kept walking.  Speed doesn’t matter.  What matters is that you keep moving.

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When the hard knocks came, I focused on the facts.  When the harder knocks came, I focused on faith. Faith that God has everything under control, and that He never gives us anything we can’t handle with His help.

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Ecclesiastes 11:10 says to “banish anxiety from your heart and cast off the troubles of your body”.  It’s not speaking about casually doing these things.  Banishing and casting off are intentional actions to get rid of negatives within us that cause internal damage.

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I can’t honestly tell you that I don’t ever experience fear anymore.  But I can honestly tell you that I’m living more “fear free” than ever before.  I’ve realized that life is going to happen whether I live in fear or not.  So, to me, it makes much more sense to focus on living life and just deal with things as they happen.

As opposed to letting fear tell me how to live.

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Fear is faith that it won’t work out.  I’d rather have faith that things will work out.  Either way, faith is involved.

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My choice?  Well, my running days are over.

Life begins where fear ends.  I know this for a fact.  I’ve lived it.  And I’m committed to keep living it.

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I’m fearless…

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Take a flying leap…


If someone tells you to take a flying leap, you can be reasonably certain they’re not wishing you well.  It’s the equivalent of them telling you to go away, take a hike, or take a long walk off a short plank.  It’s not something you ever hope to hear.

But, taking a leap of faith is something altogether different.  It’s not so much a leap away from something as it is a leap towards something.  Something that you can’t quite see but still believe exists.


In many ways, it’s relatively easy to live a safe life.  Many people do.  Their lives are very predictable, risk is a four letter word, comfort zone is their favorite zip code, and change rarely happens unless every angle has first been considered and accounted for.

Don’t get me wrong.  I like my comfort zone as much as the next person.  I prefer to have all the answers before I make a change.  I like a certain degree of predictability in my life.


I only have one life to live.  I want to live the length and the breadth of it.  And, in order to do that, sometimes it means taking a leap of faith.


I’m at that place right now.

You’d think I’d be comfortable with taking a leap of faith.  After all, much of the past year has been a huge leap of faith on my part.  But, I don’t think it ever gets easier because we humans are generally inclined to feel most comfortable when both feet are planted solidly on the ground.

Even if the ground is less than solid.

Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, as the saying goes.  Better to deal with someone or something that you’re familiar with and know well – even if it’s less than ideal – than to take a risk with an unknown person or thing.


I believe God is in control of my life and its direction, and that He will place solid ground under my feet.  As the song says, “takin’ a giant leap in the air, steppin’ out on nothin’ and findin’ somethin’ there…”

That being said, I don’t take any leap of faith lightly.  I exhaust all other avenues first.  Otherwise my actions would just be reckless.  But, when every road you travel leads you to a precipice, you’re faced with the decision to either take a leap of faith or to continue wandering around aimlessly – and miserably- going nowhere and getting nowhere.

Honestly, I’d rather jump.


I confess that it scares me a bit but I’m confident that taking a leap of faith is the right thing to do and that it’s the right timing to do it.  I don’t know exactly how or when it will work out but I believe it will.  Where I’m headed is better than where I currently am.  Of that, I’m certain, even without knowing the destination.


You may be wondering what I’ll do if I take my leap of faith, and it doesn’t turn out as I’d hoped.  If it doesn’t turn out well at all.

I’ve had that happen.

The thing about God being in control is that, while He’s always faithful, He’s rarely predictable.  So, sometimes His answers don’t make sense.  Sometimes it feels like you’ve jumped into quicksand.  That’s because He sees the whole picture while we only see our own little piece of the puzzle.


I haven’t always liked the answer but, in hindsight, I’ve always been able to see the blessing, even if I’ve never fully understood the reasoning.  And I know that God is always faithful.  Always.  It’s not in His character to be anything less.

I look at it this way.  If I do absolutely nothing, I’ll know the outcome almost absolutely.  But, if I take a leap of faith, I’ll be doing something, even if the outcome is uncertain.  And, I would much rather be doing something than be stuck in a rut.  Usually by the time I’m ready to take a leap of faith, I’ve been in a rut much longer than I’d planned because I spent so much time trying to find any other solution.

A leap of faith may be all that’s standing between what you are now and what you want to be.  It could be that easy… and that hard.  But, it could well be the only way.


Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m about to take a flying leap.  The good kind.  It’s terrifying, and exhilarating, and life changing.

But, consider this… no one has ever been able to change and still remain the same.

So, lace up your sneakers.  You can go first next time.


Keeping a handle on my insecurities…

blog 5There are few, if any, people on this planet who do not have insecurities of some sort.  Insecurities about their looks, their bodies, their talents, their weaknesses, things that don’t come easily to them, their fears, their failures.  The list is pretty much endless.

What I’ve found is that my insecurities have changed over time.  I used to have insecurities about how I looked and what I weighed, and it grew to be an obsession for many years.  To say it was easy to overcome would trivialize the agonizingly difficult and time intensive job of countering the negatives with positives, and then following through until I reached the point of physical and emotional health.  I could never go through that again, ever.  I still like to look my best but how I look no longer has any power over me.  I’m on to other things.

My main insecurity has to do with whether people will like me or not.

I’ve had this insecurity for most of my life and, once upon a time, I would change myself as much as possible to try and be other people’s expectations so it would minimize the chances that I would have to experience their rejection.

There were two flaws with that plan.  God made me who I am for a reason, so why should I think I have to be someone else in order for anyone to like and accept me?  And who was going to like and accept me if I didn’t even like and accept myself?  Then, there was the matter of it not even being possible to have every single person like me no matter who I presented myself to be.  So why not just be myself and let the chips fall where they may?  So, I resolved to just be me.

The problem was I didn’t even know who me was so I had to figure that out in therapy.  It was tough but worth it.  Now I’m thankful to be me, and I don’t ever want to be anyone else.

So, here’s the scoop for where I’m at today.  I don’t necessarily care if everyone likes me, only that certain people like me.  If they seem to, my main insecurity is that, at some point, they’re going to come to their senses, change their mind, and go away.  This insecurity has been a particularly huge struggle over the past 9 months because 99% of the people I’ve encountered are people who are new to me.  And, since I have the same insecurity with people I’ve known for ages, it’s that much harder with people I’ve known for a much shorter period of time.

I’m working on hurdling this insecurity.  Some days are easier than others but other days are tough.  What I need is a little perspective, starting with the greatest counter to this (and every other) insecurity.


We need truth because insecurities are lies we tell ourselves that we choose to believe.

So, what’s the truth?  Well, I’m me.  There’s nothing wrong with being me.  Not everyone is going to automatically like me.  Sometimes people won’t like me when I take a stand for something, in which case the principle is more important than the person (although I would still hope we could agree to disagree).  The people who truly like me will like me, flaws, imperfections, and all.  They’re not going anywhere.  The people who change their minds… well maybe they weren’t the best people to be in my life in the first place or maybe they were just in it for a reason and for a season.

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What it comes down to is that I just need to concentrate on being the very best me I can be (channelling Dr. Seuss…), living my life the way I believe I’m supposed to live it, and striving to make a difference no matter where I am or what I’m doing.  The rest I need to leave to God, trusting that He knows best.  I also need to leave my insecurities with God because I’ve seen with my own eyes that He can heal them and change lives.  He did that for me, and He’ll keep on doing it for as long as I’m in work in progress.

Right now, I’ve got a handle on my insecurities and I’m about to show them the door…

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Keep on, keeping on… per severe…

So, I’ve paused my job search to consider what it means to persevere.  Interestingly enough, this has been a huge encouragement to me.


Continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no indication of success.

First of all, persevering is a verb.  So, when people tell you to “hang in there”, you shouldn’t literally “hang in there”.  That implies staying put, no action, holding on for dear life.  That would be an anti-verb.  If you’re just hanging in there, you’re not persevering.

CONTINUING in a course of action… EVEN in the face of difficulty… OR with little or no indication of success.

Continuing.  That means “keep going”.  Sounds easy enough.

BUT, then add the caveat.  EVEN in the face of difficulty.  OR with little or no indication of success.  It’s like “keep going” but with a burden added to each shoulder.  A heavy burden on each shoulder.  A burden that feels heavier the more you keep going.

I was thinking about the word persevere itself.  Break it into two parts and you have “per” “severe”.  By way of being severe.  Basically, it’s tough whether you consider it in part or in whole.


  1. Demanding great ability, skill, or resilience: “a severe test of stamina”.

I can’t say for sure if I have great ability or skill but I know I can choose to have great resilience.


  1. The power or ability to return to the original form after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.
I’m definitely being stretched.  22 days without a job and without income.  Having to move out of my apartment because I don’t have the financial means to maintain a place of my own.  Not a great feeling.  None of it.  But I have two choices.  Either be stretched through this experience or be inflexible.
What doesn’t bend, breaks.  And it’s not an option for me to break.  So I’m determined to be resilient.

To revert to the original definition of resilience,  I have a burden on each shoulder.  I’m in the face of difficulty and, even though I’ve sent out countless resumes, I’ve had little or no indication of success.  It would be soooooo easy to give up.  To throw up my hands and say this is impossible.  To say it’s too hard and quit.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve told my son that the only failure is in not getting up when you’re down.  To give up instead of keep going.

My son is now 34 years old but I’m still his mother.  I know he pays close attention to what happens in my life.  That he still looks up to me as an example.

This situation might be hard.  It might be scary.  It might seem insurmountable sometimes but I AM DETERMINED to make something good out of it.  The answer is out there somewhere.  I just have to keep going.

I’m not going to quit.  I’m going to be an example to my son and to others that, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.  I’m going to be one of the tough ones.  I’ve been through a lot in the past.  I can still go through a lot now.
Many, many years ago, my mother used to tell me I was stubborn.  I’m pretty sure she didn’t mean it as a compliment.  But, stubborn can actually be a good thing.


  1. Bullheaded.
  2. Characterized by perseverance; persistent.
“Bullheaded”.  Hmmm.  Ok, maybe being stubborn isn’t always a good thing.  But, “characterized by perseverance; persistent”… that’s a very good thing.  In my opinion, it refers to perseverance twice in the same definition because persevering isn’t easy to do.  It’s at least twice as hard as you’d expect.
Hey, that means I qualify!  I’m stubborn!!So, now what?Well, I just keep going.  At some point, the answer is going to present itself.

Consider storms.  Storms can seem like they go on forever but they always come to an end.  So do the storms in our lives.  Some just take longer than others.

  I’m glad I don’t know how long this storm is going to last.  It makes it easier to persevere.

I’ll leave the final quote to Napoleon Bonaparte.  I’m pretty sure he knew what he was talking about.

Here’s to persevering and to eventually sharing the victory.  Until then, I’ll keep on, keeping on.  Per severe.

From N.O.J. to N.O.P. to NOW…

I have a confession to make.

I’m a closet procrastinator.

That’s not to be confused with chronic procrastinator.  My procrastination is confined to just one area of my life, albeit an important one to me.

For a very long time now, I’ve believed I’m supposed to write my autobiography.  I’ve had a tough life that’s taught me some valuable lessons that I think are worthwhile sharing with others.

So I immediately took action and thought about it for several years.

Ten years ago, I came up with the title, “No Ordinary Joy”.

So, I thought a lot more, wrote a few chapters, got discouraged, deleted the whole thing, scrapped the idea, resurrected the idea, and then wrote quite a few chapters that I’m pretty satisfied with.

Sounds positive, eh?

It would be, except I moved from writing NOJ (No Ordinary Joy) to NOP (No Ordinary Procrastination).

Oh, I’ve been busy.  I’ve just been busy doing everything but working on my book.  And it’s been driving me crazy.

I’ve had my excuses but, in reality, I have no excuse.  Let’s consider the facts.  I started writing my blog on July 2nd.  In just under 4 months, I’ve written 26 blogs.  It’s not going to take anywhere near 26 chapters to finish my book.  I could have been done already!!

So, what’s my problem???

It’s ‘curtain’ number 2.

If I don’t finish, I can’t fail.

I’ve written lots of things over the years but I’ve never been invested in anything even remotely as much as my book.  And it scares me to death.  Once my book is published, it’s permanent.  The end is in sight and it paralyzed me.  I don’t want to fail.  But, it’s a double edged sword.  If I don’t finish my book, I will fail.

The only real failure is in not finishing.

I am not a quitter!  A practiced procrastinator perhaps, but not a quitter.

I’ve considered the best way to change this, and I’ve decided to start by confessing in this blog.

After all, I can’t change what I don’t acknowledge.  No one can.

No more excuses.

I was phoned by a publisher this week, and he made a suggestion that I think has real merit.  He suggested I lower my expectations and just write.  Not when I want to, not when I feel like it, not when I feel inspired but just write something, anything every single day for at least five minutes.

Everyone has five spare minutes in a day.

Some days, five minutes will feel like an eternity and other days it’ll feel like five seconds.  Some days I’ll struggle with what to write, and other days I’ll get carried away and write endlessly.  But, step by step, word by word, chapter by chapter, day by day, I’m going to get that much closer to finishing.

And, if I finish, I haven’t failed.

That doesn’t mean everyone will like my book.  In fact, if I’ve been true to myself, I can guarantee not everyone will like it.  Critics are everywhere.  But, if my book makes a difference in even one life, it’s going to be worth it.  And, truth be told, it will have already made a difference in one life… mine.  It’s already been worth it.  So, I’ve got nothing to lose.

From N.O.J. to N.O.P. to NOW starts now!

Got change?

Change has been a major theme in my life in 2012.  I lost my beloved dog, Max, to cancer very suddenly on Easter Monday, and I was laid off just as suddenly four days later. The remaining changes began mid-June, when I separated from my husband and moved three provinces west to Alberta.  Since then, I’ve gotten a new address, new job, new car, new church, new friends, new wardrobe, new hairstyle, and new hair colour.

Years ago, it was popular to complete a checklist of all the major changes that had taken place in your life, tally the score, and then see where you fell on the stress scale.  It didn’t take a checklist for me to recognize that, at least on paper, my stress levels were off the charts.  But, while I went through a phase of intense stress, I persevered, and came out the other side, emerging into a place of great peace and happiness.  I wouldn’t want to relive the past few months but I’m deeply grateful for them because, otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

As much as we wish it were otherwise, there’s often no gain – or little gain – without pain.

I think change has gotten a bad rap because it’s assumed that change = stress.  All pain and no gain (an urban myth).  So change tends to inspire fear.  What fear accomplishes is that it keeps us paralyzed, determined to avoid change at all cost.  The longer we give into fear, the more it grows until, before long, we find ourselves firmly ensconced in our comfort zones.  Comfort zones are misleading because the very word “comfort” inspires warm and fuzzy when, in fact, the longer you stay there, the more it becomes your prison.  Life becomes very scaled down.  The sky is no longer the limit… the ceiling is.

Think of it in terms of football.  Players love to make it to the end zone because that’s where the touchdowns are scored.  It’s where the gain is.  The rest of the field is where the pain is.  But just image if the players decided they were never going to leave the end zone.  It would lead to a very boring game.  In fact, it wouldn’t even be possible to have a game anymore.  The players would be left living in the past because that’s where the action was.

That’s one of the ways you can tell who is in their comfort zone a little too securely.  They’re largely left living in the past.  Or living vicariously through other people.  Their world has shrunk until it fits into all too comfortable dimensions, effectively cutting off change, and eventually even the possibility of change.

This often happens, at least to some degree, to people as they get older but it happens to younger people too.  The constant is that they experienced negative and unexpected change at some point.  Maybe they lost a job, failed in university, had a failed relationship or marriage, went bankrupt, etc.  But the common thread is that fear paralyzed them into thinking that if they just stay in their comfort zone from that point onward, they will never have to experience that sort of  change again.  Even if it’s true, at what cost???

The best things in my life have come from change.  At the very least, the world is constantly changing, whether I like it or not.  I can either embrace some of that change or get left behind.  Become irrelevant, dated, out of touch.

The way I see is that I only have one life to live so I want to live it to the fullest.  I want to take chances, make changes, try new things, keep an open mind, push through fear, and focus on the positives.  I want to be hopeful, joyful, optimistic.  I want my best and most interesting years to be the next 50 and not the last 50.  I don’t want to be defined by walls or ceilings but to be continually reaching for the stars.  I don’t want the question to be “what if” but “why not”.

So, have I changed anybody’s mind?  I hope so.  It might mean taking a total change in direction from time to time but the benefits of change will far outweigh the negatives.  It’s time to change it up!!!

“I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back, turn back. . . .” — Erica Jong