Inaccessibility….

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Inaccessibility….say what?  At the age of 24 I was given the opportunity to take over as the General Manager of a hotel.  What comes with that is being on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week, working long hours and I have always had the rule that my office
door is always open so this idea that there is an art of inaccessibility was daunting and scary.  I knew over the years that I would have to start thinking about how to protect my time but I honestly had no idea what in the world my time really was.

My time up to this point was normally when I went to bed and watched the inside of my eyelids.  Perhaps it was a few stolen moments on the couch watching the news or a show.  Most years I would try and take a couple of days off for a “sabbatical” but inevitably what happens is my phone would still ring in the middle of the night and I always made sure to check my emails.  Nothing in that last sentence screams “inaccessibility” it only screams busy.

Not long ago I had the opportunity to read an incredible leadership book called Pivot Leadership Small steps…big change and one chapter that I found myself making notes through, highlighting and underlining was The Art of Inaccessibility.

“If we want to continue to be passionate and engaged leaders, we must learn the art of inaccessibility.” (pg 33)

Initially I was confused…. I had built my career on always being accessible so this idea that I not only needed to learn to be inaccessible but that it could be an art, seemed to confuse me.  That is, until I dove in and really began to understand what she was talking about.

Hotel business isn’t for the faint at heart and to add to that my husband and I were called to join with our dear friends in a church plant 3 years ago.  Over the years I worked incredibly hard to make sure that I could anything and everything possible for both organizations, fully committing myself to them and filling every ounce of time completing tasks and projects.  While the idea was great I noticed that it was taking both a mental but also physical toll on me.  Gaining weight back to where I swore I would never get back to and sleeping less and less I knew that I had to make a change.  For me filling my day with tasks was a measure of who I was, what my contribution was and it was how I thought everyone else measured my importance to them.  I honestly believed that if I wasn’t doing something for someone then I wasn’t needed.  Angela says something in her book that made me stop, highlight, circle and make notes on

“Leaders can hold on to busyness like a weapon of protection.” (pg 41)

Busyness was my protection and I had to be willing to make a change.  Even if it was small.  One of the great things about this book is this concept Small Steps….big change.  For me it wasn’t about throwing everything out the window and starting over it was about taking even just 1 hour and making a small change.  Taking 1 hour to ride my bike home the 13 miles rather than sit in my car for 30 minutes was introducing a small step in changing my health.  Turning notifications off on my phone created this space of freedom.

“Space will remind you that your phone alerts are not the measure of your existence.”

I had to learn that getting or not getting that email response that I had been waiting for really had no bearing on who I was as a person, who I am is determined by God and I needed to be better about reminding myself of that truth.

I wanted to just leave you with this encouragement.  You may not be the GM of a hotel or a pastor in a church but we all have something or someone in our life that we are leading.  Even if it is ourselves, because let’s face it, in life, leading ourselves might just be the hardest place that we need to pivot to make even the smallest steps which can turn into the biggest changes.

If you are ready to pivot and make even small steps in the way that you lead, even if it’s just yourself check out Pivot Leadership Small Steps… Big Changes

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Perspective

Perspective

Am I the only one who finds myself looking at the same thing, or being in the same place just standing in a different position and yet what I am looking at, or where I am looks completely different from anything familiar?

I ride to and from work the exact same way every time.  There is a 1/2 mile stretch along the trail that when riding one way I know exactly where I am but when riding the other direction I always feel completely turned around and have no concept as to where I am other than the fact that I know I am just a few miles from work.  Nothing changes about this part of the trail overnight!  No one comes in the replants and bushes or moves the river just to confuse me.  It’s simply about perspective.

Think about this with me for a moment.  The definition of perspective is pretty simple : a point of view.  How is it then that the actual concept in our life isn’t quite so simple.  Depending on what we are looking at, how we are looking at it, when and where, our surroundings may look radically different.  It’s all dependent on our perspective.

One day the way that you are looking at something or a situation it seems to have this shape of beauty.  For example, on my ride home I have the river glistening to my right, the winding trail before me and blue skies above me.  There is a mansion on a hill not far away; I know exactly where I am.  On my ride to work in the morning all that I seem to see are overgrown bushes that protrude into my riding path, more hills that I remember from the night before and I have to search to find that glistening river.

I can honestly say that my own perspective in life is greatly defined by how I am looking at something.  Maybe I am the only one but just the simple act of looking at 1 word, or 1 act with a different perspective can greatly alter my reaction and how my gut can either churn or rest in stillness and peace.

For me, it’s mainly stress that alters my perspective.  During that part of the ride, when I am heading home everything looks beautiful because I have only ridden 2 miles.  The next morning, I am 10 miles in and just want to be done.  At times, in life, it is no different.  I need to focus on this:

“So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen.  For the things that we see now will soon be gone, but the things that we cannot see will last forever.”  2 Corinthians 4:18

When it comes to this however, I am not always the best and handing them over to God and allowing His perfect will to be done.  I am the one who will ride in circles until I realize that I am in the same place that I was before it just all looked a little different.  There has to come a point that we start to see things the same.

I need to stop looking at the bushes overgrown into the pathway and the hills ahead of me and rather, fix my gaze and my perspective on what cannot be seen, because that is what lasts forever.

When I just wanted to quit

When I wanted to quit

It was a beautiful morning ride and I was on a mission.  My first triathlon (sprint distance) was only 4 short weeks away and I knew that I had a lot of work left to do to be ready-ish.  My life is crazy busy and I, in no way, would say that I am in shape but it was once written about me that I am not easily deterred and that was truth.

I realized quickly that I was going to be riding into the wind once I turned around to head back, and we all know how that goes.  (If you don’t know what I am talking about see previous post here)  I wasn’t looking forward to it but I knew at least that I would be on my way back, not just starting out.  A few short moments later something rather minor happened that made my mind go a little wonky.  My heart fluttered, skipped a beat… whatever you want to call it.  Now before we get all excited (and by excited I mean concerned) about this please trust that I am monitoring this carefully.  However, for the first time ever I was terrified for some reason that I wasn’t going to make it back.  I just wanted to quit.

What happened in my mind in that moment left me having no interest in completing this ride.  I wanted out, I wanted off the bike and just wanted to crawl back into bed.  However, I knew that wasn’t an option in this moment,  so I had to keep going.  Remembering that I was in the middle of this blogging series I figured I could use this experience to think about that rather than what just happened.

How often in our lives do we come across something, no matter how large or small and something clicks in our minds and we are just done.  Timed out, ready to throw in the towel, quit.

Friends, when times get tough or if you are anything like me, I get stuck inside my own head so much that sometimes I can’t see reality… that it just might be easier to quit.

What would happen if we all just quit when things got tough, when our minds get the best of us or when the world tells us that we can’t do something??  Think back in your own life of the things that you almost gave up on, but didn’t.  What were they?

For me, well the list is lengthy but I can start with being called to a church plant, becoming GM of a hotel at 24 and I can’t wait to add “completing a triathlon sprint” to that list.

The worst part about quitting is having to start over.  There is a reason that we take on the things that we do in life.  Sometimes we may never be meant to complete it but I like to try and leave those decisions up to God.  He knows.  He already has the plans in place, it’s just our responsibility to not be easily deterred and keep going.

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.  Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you.  I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Isaiah 41:10

Hills

I love riding hills.  It’s true.  There are actually a set of hills that I can train on if I am looking for an extra challenge in my down time.  It wasn’t always like that however.  I remember thinking that hills were the worst thing in the world and I hated them.  And then I learned how to take them.

For the longest time, as I would pedal, I would take all of the energy that I had in my body and try to tackle the hill with my legs, back, shoulders and arms.  It was quite painful by the time that I got done.  I would get home and my neck and shoulders would be a mess and I felt like I just wasn’t doing something right.  I wasn’t.

I recall one day on my way home I was at the base of a decent sized hill that I climb daily and it occurred to me that my posture wasn’t correct.  Instead of utilizing my neck, shoulders, back and legs I needed to focus on my core.  That’s when it all changed.  When my core was engaged it drove my legs, my shoulders stayed relaxed and I didn’t arrive at home with neck pain!

How often do we find ourselves climbing these hills in our spiritual walk?  I think sometimes we don’t even realize that we are in the midst of climbing a hill until we are about half way up, realize that it’s getting harder and harder to climb and we have to shift down in order to make it to the top.

In the midst of the climb we realize that we are using every part of ourselves that we can in order to make it but we are forgetting 1 thing; to engage our core.  My question to you is this!  What is at your core?  Who is at your core?  Are you taking on this hill with frustration, anger, hurt and confusion at your core?  Well, more than likely you will face a greater battle to get to the top.

It’s not because those things are necessarily bad but it’s because in the midst of great battle it’s as though they have this crazy ability to rob us of the joy, passion, determination and victory that comes from climbing the hill!  When I am climbing on my bike, I try and at least smile and I can tell you whenI am climbing in life, or walking along side someone who is I will always try and be the optimist.

The battles that we face in life are against the enemy and sometimes multiple things of this world that seem to press back against us during the climb.

“God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.”
Psalm 46:1

I will be the first to admit that when the hills of life come I want to take them on with every part of me that I can and try to decipher them, solve the problem, fix the issue, overcome the “hill” on my own but as soon as I allow whatever the hill might be to rob me of my joy it also robs me of the energy and stamina to make it to the top.

“In my desperation I prayer, and the Lord listened;
he saved me form all my troubles.”
Psalm 34:6

Riding into the wind

Riding into the wind

Where did this term headwind come from?  In looking this up the actual definition, a headwind is “a wind opposed to the course of a moving object.”  Well isn’t that fitting?

When it comes to cycling a headwind is something that I absolutely cannot stand…

Imagine that you are riding at 18 miles an hour, into a headwind of 10mph  The amount of energy that you will have to exert to maintain that 18mph is double what you would need on a calm day.

As if riding at a sustained 18mph isn’t hard enough, with that kind of wind, right in your face, you have to work twice as hard to get the same results!

Not long ago I was riding into a 15mph headwind and had this thought as I was trying to think of anything other than the wind….. sometimes, in our spiritual journeys we have this headwind, a “wind opposed to the course of a moving object.”  The “moving object” is us, striving to be more like Christ and the “headwind” is the enemy, who wants nothing more than to throw us off course.

As we journey through life there are times that we feel as though it takes twice as much effort to do something the things that we know we are called to.  That’s because we have this enemy, a “headwind”, that when coming at us straight on, it is opposing our course of action, this path that we are trying to continue on.

What does this look like for you?  Perhaps you are in the midst of riding head-on into the wind, perhaps you just got through a storm and maybe you are in a place where you are starting to feel a slight breeze….

I don’t know what you are being called from, through or to.   Regardless, at times you can be going 18 mph toward the place in life that you feel you should most be. Then there is a headwind that comes in, blasts you in the face and you quickly find that you are having to put forth twice as much effort just to keep up the pace you were at…. let alone being able to increase your speed at all.

How easily do we just want to stop!?  Like… really?  This headwind is just sucking all my energy, I will just stop and pick it up another day.  But can I share something with you?  Please don’t quit now.

Please don’t put whatever it is that you were working on, whatever race that you running, whatever course you are on… don’t put them on hold just because of a little headwind.  There is strength that comes from overcoming that.  Our muscles are strengthened, our hearts are made stronger, our faith is increased our desire grows and the next time that we come across that 10 mph wind we find that this wind doesn’t have the same negative effect on us.

“Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things that we cannot see.”   Hebrews 11:1

In the midst of the greatest wind storm, blowing straight at us, we cannot always see how God is moving in our lives, but we have a hope a promise that He is there and that He is moving.

Just getting started

Following Jesus getting started

Ironic that as I try and find the words to start this post the hardest part is just getting started.  I find myself writing, erasing and then re-starting because I want the words that come out to be perfect.

I want everything that I do to start strong.  To have a great beginning.  To wow, to make a difference.  What I often lack is the elegance to just get past the starting line.  Truthfully, this blog and the fact that I have posted more than 10 of them on a semi-regular basis is the best “start” that I have had in a while.  When it came to getting on this bike and peddling my way through life it was the same way.

The day that I went in to “try on” the bike it was terrifying.  I literally looked the gal in the eye and asked her if it was going to be able to support my weight.  Go ahead and laugh, I did!  She assured me that I would be fine and off I went riding this thing down the street in my jeans and t-shirt because I of course did not plan any better and foresee actually having to ride this bike.  Please tell me when “trying a bike on” did not include actually riding it?  I obviously wasn’t thinking.  Regardless, off I went.  I recall thinking to myself that it had been years since I was on a bike and truthfully struggled with wether or not I would remember how to ride it.

I recall the same feelings when I was in the midst of making the decision to follow after Christ as an adult.  Growing up we were raised going to church and even in high school I went back but as an adult it felt so much different.  I totally understood the concept, I prayed the prayer and felt in my heart what it seemed like I was  supposed to feel but I really had a hard time getting started.  I wanted to start off with a wow look at how she’s changed but it just seemed like it was a struggle to get there.  I didn’t feel like I fit in!  I felt like I was riding a bike with jeans on… there was something not quite right about that picture.

That’s when it hit me.  It had nothing to do with what I was wearing, with what was on the outside.  It had everything to do with the change that was happening on the inside.  When I “tried on the bike” I didn’t think far enough ahead to wear other clothes.  It didn’t dawn on me that I would actually be riding it, I just knew it was the next step in getting my bike.  Making the decision to follow Christ was the same I may not have looked all put together on the outside but handing over my life on the inside was the next step.  It was all about just getting started.

“If only you would prepare you heart and lift up your hands to him in prayer!  Get rid of your sins, and leave all iniquity behind you.  Then your face will brighten with innocence.  You will be strong and free of fear.  You will forget your misery; it will be like water flown away.  Your life will be brighter then the noonday.  Even darkness will be as bright as morning.  Having hope will give you courage.  You will be protected and will rest in safety.  You will lie down unafraid and many will look to you for help.”  Job 11:13-19

Following Jesus from my bike seat

Following Jesus title

If you were to take one look at me, I can almost guarantee that you wouldn’t consider me to be your typical “cyclist.”  Good.  Because I am not.  I am just a girl who loves the great outdoors, likes a good challenge and is trying to make an effort (no matter how small it might be) to better myself one mile at a time. I used to want to be a runner.

I remember morning after morning laying in bed praying that this would be the morning that I woke up with the body of a runner, no bad ankle, no shin splints and all the energy in the world.  Now, I realize that irony in that I was asking for these things while laying in bed but stick with me here people!  The fact was that it just wasn’t going to happen without some effort.  I tried to run but it’s true, I have a bad ankle and shin splints.  I was frustrated, discouraged and figured whatever… why even try? And then I bought a road bike.

It was the largest single investment that I had ever made in my life (aside from a car) and I was both excited and terrified.  When I bought it in the fall of 2013 I had a dream that it would be my mode of transportation to and from work.  All 13 miles, each direction.  I remember the first day that I got on that bike and rode a few miles after work.  I felt like I was on top of the world.  Needless to say, like other things in my life, the excitement wore off, fall turned into winter and there was no more time to ride that bike.

Over the past 18 months I did finally accomplish that goal of riding to and from work.  Even now as I sit here looking at my bike it blows my mind that it has the ability, with my pedal power, to transport me all those miles to and from work but between it’s make-up and my willpower it does and I do.

Something occurred to me over the few weeks and it has brought on this blog series called “Following Jesus from my bike seat”

Over the course of the next several weeks I want to tackle some things that I have realized are parallels between cycling and living our lives to be more like Jesus.  I understand that it might sound a little far fetched but my prayer is not that you will completely understand my crazy brain,  but rather that we will understand ourselves a little better and see areas that we can be less like us and more like Him.

See yall on the next ride!