News + Muse

Retreat Makes You Putrid

I went on a diet the end of last summer and learned two things:

1). Consistency, if we practice the discipline of keeping it up, accumulates to real, tangible progress.

Day after day, as I plodded along, there was change over time.  I did start lean out.  I did begin to feel cleaner and brighter, more optimistic and energetic.  Really! I was surprised to receive fruit for my labor.  That was exciting and satisfying! 

What I needed was to trust the process.  I needed to be patient.  I needed to keep believing that if I kept showing up it would translate into change over time.  Do you hear what I’m saying?  I was not motivated by what I saw. I was not motivated by what the scale told me that morning, or the tape measure, or the mirror.  If I was looking at those things, I would have felt defeated so many times. 

Instead, I was motivated to continue by what I believed – that if I placed good choice after good choice, step after step, if I linked them all up — that it would, it absolutely would, it HAD to, convert into progress.  And it did. 

As I’m getting up and trying again at this illustration thing it can look like such an Everest.  It’s so large and looming; the climb feels impossible.  There is so much to learn and re-learn, so much risk, so much to face that is uncomfortable, so much hard work ahead.  And man, if I look at my feet, if I try to be motivated by the failed drawings in front of me (there are so many of those) I will certainly be discouraged.  Instead, I want to apply what I’ve learned: to trust the process.  Believe that if I continue to show up day after day to work the gift, to train the gift, to spend the gift, to apply myself instead of avoid – that it will, it absolutely MUST grow in effectiveness over time. 

Fight for consistency.  Trust the process.  Be patient for the fruit.

2).  The ability to sustain that consistency comes from fostering a positive mind.

The nutritional team I was working with was full of encouraging words.  There were exclamation marks, motivational quotes, and verbal hi-fives everywhere.  And I mean everywhere!  I was saturated and swimming in the stuff.  Immersed in that context, I noticed for the first time how full my mind was of negative voices and how I consistently gave those voices audience.  I considered their negative counsel to me.  I let them convince me to leave things undone.  I used words like “work” and “hard” and “fail” instead of “adventure” and “challenge” and “grow”. 

But you know, it wasn’t hard when I realized that to flip my mind’s patterns.  That was surprising – how easy it was to change my attitude.  I decided to call my diet a game and an adventure.  I decided the challenge was fun.  I decided to enjoy what the moment required of me as a wonder, and not get all cramped up about results.  And you know, when I was looking at it from this angle the diet quickly became infused with energy instead of drudgery.  My insides were going “Hoot, hoot!  Yip-yip!  Let’s do this!” With that mindset I was totally game on.  It made it much easier (and can I say fun?) to choose the right thing.

It’s not hard to change our perspective to a positive one.  Decide it is so, and wow, how quickly those negative voices flee.

So, as I’m looking up at my illustration Everest, I say to you mountain “Challenge!  Adventure!”  and I literally feel in me this flush of excitement and adrenaline.  Deciding to be brave gives ruddiness to your cheeks and heartiness to your laughter.  That’s so much better then retreat and regret which just makes you putrid.

News + Muse


Here’s an illustration for all the swimmers out there. You know the flip-turn:  pull … pull … you’re gliding right toward the wall.  And then at the last moment you tuck your head into your gut, make a spiral and a twist, plant your feet firmly on the wall, and thrust off like a rocket in the other direction.

Disappointments can be like that; like the wall, I mean.  They can really wreck us if we head at them full speed ahead.  But we can also use them to our advantage.  Just a flip, and we are set up with a marvelous springboard; incredible momentum to start off a change in direction.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been choking on life a bit as of late.  But with the disappointments (and the regurgitating of the disappointments) I’ve also been finding this wonderful springboard action happening: in reaction to the things I can’t control there is this burst of power, this gritty determination, to focus on the things I can.  The pain is met with resilience.  There is in me courage, a spirit of adventure, an ear tuned to God’s positive voice, a fire to be industrious, hard-working, and self-controlled.

Flips and changes heading toward the Light belong to the category of repentance.  To turn around, to change not only our mind but our actions because of a change in mind, have these accompanying springboard disappointments, I think.  The knowledge of the need for change was already in me, and I had been making some slow piddly progress, I suppose.  But the explosive burst that comes from feet planted on death’s floor … it is a refusal to die. It’s resurrection power!

I shouldn’t say much more; “show, don’t tell” is how the old adage goes.  Just this — I had a friend for a short season who was deeply motivating to me, and what was so attractive was not what he said but what he did.  He was actively and positively engaged in the combat of good choices, working hard at his responsibilities, doing his best, playing his part.  I want to fight like that. I want to growl at the wind.

Show, don’t tell.  Let’s get to it and rebuild.