(embrace) imperfection: my word for 2018

dented car adam-griffith-252508

Photo by Adam Griffith on Unsplash

I chose a word last year, but wasn’t writing faithfully, so never put it out there for others to know. That’s not important since a word for the year isn’t chosen to flaunt or compare with others, but rather to help focus attention, effort, and growth for the individual who choses the word.

This year I am back at it. I am sharing my word with you, not to say you should pick a word yourself or to show off mine, but rather because somehow putting it into print gives it a kind of “officialness” – a concreteness for me – maybe even a bit of accountability from the few who read this and know me well enough to ask me about my word during this next year. 🙂

2018: embrace imperfection

Ok, it’s sort of two words, but again, that’s not important. What matters is that I have struggled with perfectionism most of my life. It has caused me to be very critical of myself and others. It causes me to be continually discontent: nothing is ever completely finished, good enough, or all that I would like it to be. It drives me to want more, to do more, to be more. All. The. Time.

im • per • fect: (n.) someone or something characterized by faults or weaknesses that do not necessarily impair its use; not fully formed or complete; still in process

As I have grown, I have learned to temper my perfectionism. With four children, it didn’t take me long to realize a perfect home would never be a reality. My love for them made it not too difficult to value hospitality, community, and other’s learning over picture-perfect decoration and neatness.

At work, valuing teamwork, shared leadership, and coaching new leaders fairly easily took priority over my personal perfectionist tendencies. I care more about encouraging and empowering others than I do about imposing an unrealistic perfection standard.

I know I don’t practice this perfectly (duh!), and I know others don’t always experience the grace I would like them to get from me, so this year I want to focus on embracing my imperfection.

I am convinced that other’s won’t feel that imperfection is OK in them
if I don’t feel that imperfection is OK in me.

I recognize that when I play my tape forward, my internal unrelenting desire for perfection reflects the ridiculous delusion that if I just worked at it hard enough, I could actually get to the place where I never need grace myself. I would never make mistakes. I would never need forgiveness. I would never need help. I wouldn’t need a Savior.

That’s crazy. Perfection will never be my reality. It is not possible. It isn’t even desirable in my heart. I long for community and I long for connection with God and others.

Imperfection enables closeness.

Imperfection does not have to prevent closeness as I often erroneously think it does. Rather than withdrawn from people because I am not handling my thoughts, words, or actions perfectly, I can lean in closer to others and experience their grace and support that encourage my heart and help me grow. Truth is, imperfection makes me more accessible and people have continuously surprised me with their judgment-free acceptance of my imperfection.

This year I want to get better at embracing my imperfections rather than running from them or attempting to hide them. This may be one of the most challenging words I’ve ever chosen. Maybe I will be brave enough to let you know how it’s going as the year goes on.

What are some of those “crazy-makers” that you battle in your heart? 

If you have one, what is your word for 2018?

the BEST of 2013

antique trophy

Where has the time gone? I think I say that every year! It has been an eventful year… events that have brought travel to new places -internationally for work and eternally for beloved family members. I have laughed, and I have cried. I have written about many of the adventures, body and soul, here in these posts.

Thanks so much for accompanying me on my journey. I have loved your feedback, your pushback, and your encouragement along the way. I prefer to do my processing verbally, so your interactions with me make the challenging process of disciplined writing worthwhile.

There are days when I think I am ready to give up this work, but I know it is good for me to write out my thoughts and some of you have expressed that it is helpful for you too, so I think I will give it a go for another year. I hope you will travel the journey with me!

Here are the top-read posts written this year. I hope you will read any you’ve missed or re-read any favorites!

(Each post is available in English and Spanish. Feel free to look around in the archives!)

Most Read English Posts:

2013 top postshow to know yourself better

destroying double standards

when holidays hurt

creating more leaders

a bucket list

Catching Fire leadership

2013 top posts spanMost Read Spanish posts: 

rompiendo las barreras

peleando como un “ezer”

un ogro (grinch) del Día de San Valentín

espiritualidad e integridad para líderes

asombroso pastel de cumpleaños

destruyendo la doble moral

You can also read more about how the blog got started here: About Me  and here:  coffee as a way of life or here: why a blog

And you can check out earlier posts on:  The Best of 2012  🙂

THANKS AGAIN for reading! I really do appreciate you!

What were the biggest happenings in your 2013?

realization of a dream

Do you have a dream? Something you long for? Want to see happen? Wish you could change?

I have lots of dreams… personal growth milestones, work goals, hopes for my children, my friends, my community, my world.

Not every dream comes true, but they come true more often if I have given my best effort to make the dream a reality.

We enjoy visiting local coffee shops whenever we travel. We met Dazbog Coffee Co. in Denver, Colorado, and I love the history behind the dream they made come true. Certain elements of their story helped make their dream a reality…

Vision – Leonid and Anatoly Yuffa had a dream. They envisioned a better life – freedom, democracy, opportunity – a new way. On a cold, quiet evening in Russia they were pensive, reflective, talking together… and a dream was born. I am often too busy to slow down and think, but new creative visions don’t come to my mind when I am running from one thing to another. I need to take time to think, process, and dream…

Do you take time to discover your dreams?

Values –  Successful organizations, families, and people know their key values; they carry them around or post them on the wall as a constant reminder. The Yuffa family chose to combine old world heritage and tradition with new technology. They committed to a quality, rich cup of coffee, and these values permeate all that they do. Sometimes desperation to make something happen tempts me to drop my standards or set aside my values, but that will only detour my dream. Consistent values are the bedrock and the decision filter for any new venture.

Do you know and live by your values?

Unique style Red, black and yellow details are on everything: coffee cups, bags of beans, clothing line, and posters on the wall. They name their coffee blends based on the history and character of their homeland. When you walk into a Dazbog café, the Russian influence is obvious. I am often guilty of trying to live someone’s dream rather than my own – trying to look like, act like or produce like another. That’s not a good strategy (!), so I am learning to live comfortably in my own skin… and pursue my unique dreams.

Are you comfortable with your unique style?

Celebration Turning dreams into reality requires hard work, perseverance, focus, wise choices, the right people, …and God’s blessing! When I go after a vision, I can focus so much on achieving the dream that I forget to celebrate the steps along the way. The Dazbog way “celebrates life itself in each and every cup”. From their profits they give back to community projects to help make the world a better place. I want to remember to celebrate progress and process and not just a finished product. I have a sense there will be many more realized dreams that way.

How do you celebrate on the way to your dream?

happy 1st anniversary, maturitas cafe!

I wish I could invite you to my Maturitas Cafe coffee shop for a free just-your-style coffee (or tea!) “on-the-house” in honor of our 1st year anniversary! Maybe we would request a basket of Mexican sweet bread for the table to celebrate. In an ideal world, we would definitely have sunshine lightly entering through the windows and energetic, lively music playing in the background… It would be such a treat for me to visit and talk with you!

I have been blogging for a year now… hard to believe! Some of the stats milestones:

  • over 5000 views (wow! that’s kind-of exciting for a newbie like me…)
  • grown from 5 to 50 views per day (that’s fun!)
  • over 80 posts (this has not been easy for me…)
  • over 250 comments (thanks for interacting!)
  • 30 regular followers (please do follow, if you enjoy the posts!)
  • 164  # of views on my busiest day
  • top blog for the year “cleaning house, cooking meals and a greater cause

All in all, blogging has been a great mental challenge for me this year. I have learned about widgets and pingbacks, WordPress and twitter, tags and hyperlinks, word counts and (a little) html… It has been invigorating (at times frustrating) to push myself into something new. I have learned to process and summarize my thoughts, take feedback, increase my vocabulary, and be more creative.

My favorite part has been connecting with dear friends and making new friends – other bloggers, visitors from all parts of the world, friends of friends. Since busyness and geography make it impossible for us to visit regularly face-to-face, I am grateful for this media means to share and interact with you. I so appreciate your visits, I love reading your comments and learning from you, and I look forward to connecting with you more in the months to come!

The hardest part for me is the discipline to write regularly. Blogging helps me to set aside time to reflect on life’s experiences and lessons. As a true extrovert, I would much prefer to just talk out my thoughts – although they would often be an uncontrolled, jumbled, free-flowing mess! Here you get the sanitized, edited, organized me. 🙂

No telling what next year will bring… but I pray I’ll be growing, processing, influencing, leading and living for Him. I hope you’ll accompany me on the journey!

What is something new that you are learning?

¡feliz primer aniversario, maturitas café!

Como me gustaría poder invitarte a mi cafetería Maturitas Café por un café gratis (o té) justo-como-te-gusta, “la casa invita” en honor de nuestro ¡primer aniversario! Quizá podríamos ordenar una canasta de pan dulce mexicano para celebrar. En el mundo ideal, tendríamos la luz del sol entrando por la ventana y música energética y vivaz escuchándose de fondo…¡sería un increíble regalo para mi poder visitarte y platicar contigo!

Ya he estado escribiendo este blog por un año… ¡difícil de creer! Algunos hitos estádisticos:

  • más de 5000 visitas (¡wow! Es emocionante para una novata como yo…)
  • aumentó de 5 a 50 visitas por día (¡qué divertido!)
  • más de 80 publicaciones (esto no ha sido fácil para mí…)
  • más de 250 comentarios (¡gracias por la interacción!)
  • 30 seguidores regulares (si te gustan las publicaciones, ¡por favor, conviértete en seguidor!)
  • El mayor número de visitas en un día: ¡164!
  • La publicación más visto del año: “limpiar la casa, cocinar y una gran causa

Al final de todo, escribir este blog ha sido un desafío mental para mí este año. He aprendido acerca de widgets y pingbacks, WordPress y twitter, etiquetas e hipervínculos, contador de palabras y (un poco) de html… Ha sido vigorizante (a veces frustrante) forzarme a mí misma a hacer algo nuevo. He aprendido a procesar y resumir mis pensamientos, a recibir retroalimentación, a aumentar mi vocabulario y a ser más creativa.

Mi parte favorita ha sido conectarme con amigos queridos y hacer nuevos amigos –otros escritores de blogs, visitas de todas partes del mundo y amigos de amigos. Ya que las ocupaciones y la geografía nos impiden visitarnos regularmente y vernos cara a cara, estoy agradecida por tener este medio para compartir e interactuar contigo. ¡Aprecio tus visitas, me encanta leer tus comentarios y aprender de ti, y espero conectarme más contigo en los siguientes meses!

Lo más difícil para mí es la disciplina de escribir regularmente. Escribir un blog me ayuda a apartar un tiempo para reflexionar sobre las experiencias y las lecciones de la vida. Como una verdadera extrovertida, preferiría sólo decir mis pensamientos – ¡aunque frecuentemente serían un incontrolable,  confuso e imparable desorden! Aquí recibes la versión purificada, editada y organizada de mí. 🙂

No sé lo que viene el siguiente año… pero voy a orar para crecer, procesar, influenciar, liderar y vivir para Él. ¡Espero que me acompañes en la travesía!

¿Qué es algo nuevo que estás aprendiendo?

supermom doesn’t live here

I have no delusion of having been a supermom… 🙂

My husband and I have determined that we will never be ones to write the “How to…” parenting book.  The other day, however, a new friend asked me for a few tips about parenting young ones, and I quickly thought of a few things that helped me enjoy the process. I hope they might be an encouragement to you…

1. dynamic walk with the Lord… I just couldn’t ever make sense of the daily struggles and sacrifices, contrasting opinions and peer pressure, if I wasn’t secure in Him. Time with Him was often just snatches of desperate pleas for help during the day, but I realized that when – although I didn’t always get it – I longed for time with Him, I was probably doing OK.

2. investment in my marriage: Conferences, counseling, regular (every week) dates, communication, getaways…  so essential and very worth it for us to stay connected as partners! We loved parenting, but we always understood that our marriage was a priority, and we made time for us. Now that the kids are almost all moved out, we are really looking forward to being together – just the two of us – not dreading it or wondering what we will do without the kids around.

3. with #1 and #2, reflect on and choose what works for YOU and YOUR family! I am not a “kid’s world” person, so I needed time with adults each week. I loved being involved with the university ministry – discipling and mentoring, and involving our kids. I also home-schooled for many years and loved it. I have the gift of leadership and always led side-by-side with my husband. I used a lot of organization and structure to make life “livable” for me. Living in a foreign culture, I had help with cleaning and cooking. (I still don’t do much of that!) BUT… that worked for ME… each woman and marriage is different… God’s incredible creativity isn’t limited to creation… it is available for each marriage and family also. It is available for you!

4. last, but related to #3… do what YOU need to do to get refreshed… I spent so many years feeling guilty because I thought I “should” want to dress up and go out to a fancy dinner for a date, when I really preferred to lay out in the sun and read/discuss a book with my husband… or go to a yard sale… or run by myself… coffee dates with friends and women’s Bible study groups were also great for me. My recharge is not the same as others – I finally figured out that was ok…

I was so encouraged that my friend was asking questions, because asking questions is the first step to finding the way in a very complex and challenging life… May God bless you on your journey!

What are you doing to enjoy the process? Are there some other “tips” you would suggest as an encouragement to others?

process ’til the end

Last week I wrote a bit about “the process“… focusing mainly on the early years with a young family and times of growth and development. I am still in that process.

Sadly, this week I have been reminded more of the other side of the process… the years when life is coming to an end and it is time to prepare for a home-going.

Although I am not in that process personally just yet, I love very dear ones who are there. Their struggles cause me to reflect on life and challenge me to…

  • Live life to the fullest. This is not a new idea for me – I have heard it so many times.  But how very quickly I forget to really treasure the moment, the people in my life, and the blessings I have received each day. I lose focus easily and worry about the most insignificant things. I want to learn to get less frazzled about little things and take more time to give a hug and a smile… listen to the birds and the rain… smell the flowers and the freshly baked bread… see the good in people and respond to their needs… While I have energy and health, I want to work hard at the right things with great people and honor Him with each day.
  • Let go of the petty.  Recently I also read a sweet blog by a friend of mine about her interview with Corrie Ten Boom. It was such a powerful reminder of how important it is to forgive those that hurt me. I tend to take things personally and care too much about what people think about me. I get frustrated by indifference, criticism, gossip, lack of support. These are such small issues, but my bitterness can rob me of emotional energy and spiritual peace. I don’t want to lose precious time because of my stubbornness and unwillingness to forgive.
  • Train for the long haul.  Although it is true that good physical health may prove irrelevant at my eventual death, it is also true that good health will be a plus if I have to fight a disease at some time… and good health enables me to fully engaged in my life process today. If I exercise and eat well, I have more energy during the day and sleep better at night. I have better intellectual capacity, more stable emotions, and a better attitude for daily challenges. I don’t know how much time I have left in this world; I think it is a good idea to plan for a long ride.
  • Prepare the heart. I have already lived more years than a lot of people. I am grateful for the incredible, exciting adventure that I have had. I am especially thankful for the eternal security I have in my relationship with God. Coming to know Him in college has given purpose to my life and peace to my soul. I want to help others know Him.  I want to live for Him while I am on earth in such a way that I am ready to go home with Him whenever He calls.

So, until then, the process continues…

What is important in your process? Are you ready if your home-going is today?

it’s a process

Get back in your chair.
Eat your food.
Chew with your mouth closed.  
Stop goofing around.
There will be no desert, if you don’t eat the vegetables.
Just try it – you might like it!

Doesn’t sound much like leadership advice, does it? I had four little ones, living far from family, and often felt like I was just hanging on by a thread.  Especially at meal times.

I remember reading a parenting book during those days where the author described family mealtimes as a treasure… all the family gathered around the table, telling stories, laughing, enjoying the togetherness… and I thought, “What planet are they from?” I couldn’t even imagine ever treasuring meal times; they were just a lot of work for me.

And those mealtimes were work – for a season.  We worked on basic manners, and we worked on gratefulness, respect, patience, self-discipline, conversation skills, and the willingness to try new things.  Character issues.  Future leader issues.

It was easy for me to get discouraged and tired and lose sight of how the small daily details fit into the big picture. It was easy to compare and feel like others were doing something more significant for the Lord…

I still struggle with that today.

But when I take time to get away with Him, God reminds me that every experience in life is an opportunity to grow and develop… or to invest and build in to others – future leaders. The small things are significant. My life matters. The daily disciplines help develop character. I just have to remember that the spilled milk and the sticky hands are all part of the process.

Do you get lost in the daily grind? What helps you remember that the process is important?

PS: Today I understand. Mealtimes with my crazy, incredible family are a treasure… but I still have to encourage them to eat their vegetables.

anger management 101

Have you ever been so frustrated and angry that you weren’t sure what you might do? Someone didn’t do their share, left you unprotected, criticized you unfairly, took credit that wasn’t theirs… As I was coaching someone through their anger the other day, I realized I was “talking to myself”. I decided I better write down my tips; I might need them myself tomorrow!

1. Ventilate and validate – I’ve learned that it is ok to go ahead and “let it out” with a SAFE person. Anger and frustration are a normal, often very valid, part of life. It is so much better to verbalize the frustration than to drown it in food, drugs or alcohol… or haul off and hit someone. A safe person won’t use my reaction against me, but they might “push back” a bit against my reasoning, or find some bit of humor in my extreme emotions, or guide me to God and spiritual truth in the situation – all good for me and part of the process.

2. Consider my part – Once I’ve calmed down a bit, the next step is a willingness to consider that I might have some responsibility in the problem or, at least, that I might have something to learn through the situation. No matter what others have done, I am  called first to look at myself and what I can change in me… I don’t want to fall into the blame trap or the victim mindset.

3. Find some good – When I am angry, I see only the bad; I am blind to any good or positive element. We are in a spiritual battle and, no one is exempt. History proves that our anger can progress to judgment, stereotypes, and hatred of whole people groups – some pretty nasty stuff. Instead, I can turn to friends or God for help and discipline myself to find something that I can appreciate and be thankful for in the midst of difficult circumstances.

4. Follow through – Sometimes I need to deal with whatever caused the frustration and anger and initiate a difficult conversation, require restitution, or apply consequences… If it falls under my authority or responsibility, I need to follow through with appropriate action with the person – not just let it slide and keep grumbling behind their back. If there is “nothing” I can do, I can always review steps 1-3!

How do you handle your anger?

running for my life

runner free digital photo Sura Nualpradid
My birthday caused me to consider how to best invest the next years of my life. Often good physical health contributes to reaching other dreams, so I got motivated to lose some weight and increase my running routine.

In the process, I learned about reaching other life goals!

  • Getting better takes time – I am not a patient person; I prefer instant results. However, I am learning to persevere and trust the process. There were weeks when I wouldn’t lose one pound, and I wanted to give up, but if I kept doing the right things, I would finally see the weight drop. I often want to quit in other areas of life also – habits I can’t break, changes I can’t make, or relationships that aren’t working like I want. If I stop trying, I guarantee not getting better… but if I give it time, doing the right things, I just might get results!
  • Getting better takes hard work – I have never really liked to run. For me it is just plain discipline. Some days I feel pretty good; some days my feet feel like lead. Often, if I push through the first discomforts, I start to feel better and go farther than I initially thought I could. No great athlete achieves success without consistent practice, lots of sweat, and often pain. Neither will I get better – personally or professionally – without intentional effort. I have found that an honest evaluation (like a 360) and a personal development plan, accompanied by a coach or mentor, can help me grow and improve. 
  • Plan for hard days and easy days – A training plan allows for “pushing for distance” days and rest days. Going all-out every day will inevitably lead to injury and burnout. Life is similar. There are days when I have to give more than I have to handle a conflict, help someone, or get something done on time, and there are days when I need to rest. Without the rest, I don’t have the energy needed for the tough times, and I am resentful and tired. When I am regularly refreshed and rejuvenated, I have the stamina and strength to give the extra effort – even when it’s hard.
  • I am unique –  My husband can eat a lot more calories than I can and still lose weight. But, I am not my husband, and my weight-loss plan is not the same as his. Nor is my exercise plan the same as his… nor is my life plan the same as his! I need to stop comparing – and complaining(!) – and figure out what will work for me. Often I want to “cut and paste” someone else’s gifts or abilities or experience into my life, but God has a singular, individual plan for me. 
  • Getting better gets harder – Many people can run one mile or lose a few pounds. On the other hand, keeping weight off or running a marathon is much more challenging. As much I as would like to have earned an easy road due to past accomplishments, that is not how real life works. Instead, the older I am, the more responsibility I get, the more leadership I take on… the harder it is to get better! There is no “downhill” slide. It will always be “uphill”, and I don’t want that truth to surprise or discourage me.
What are principles that help you reach your goals?