Friday, January 25, 2019

Compliments are like cash. Everyone could use more.

I was trying to find a way to tell my husband what I needed last fall. (It can get especially stressful during the fall months heading into my Portraits of White show.) I know word pictures can sometimes communicate more clearly what I am feeling so I began pondering how I could describe the deficit I was experiencing. That's when this phrase popped into my head.

Compliments are like cash. Everyone could use more.

A few months ago a young woman (a complete stranger) at the local deli gave me a compliment. It was genuine and I walked away feeling "rich". I put the "cash" in my emotional bank and felt like I could buy the world. I was reminded of how easy it is to make someone feel special, just by taking a moment to notice them and compliment them.

I'm not writing this to ask for compliments. I'm writing it to sort through my feelings as my life becomes more public AND because I think the world would be a better place if we would compliment each other more.

The deli lady started it. I want to continue sharing the gift she gave me. I've started trying to compliment people more often. I've even started writing a few letters...yes, handwritten letters. It feels luxurious.

Why was I feeling the need to find a word picture in the first place? After all, Tom and I are celebrating thirty years of marriage this year and you'd think we'd have this all figured out by now. But pursuing a dream (like Portraits of White) has a way of altering the dreamer and it often affects the people closest to you. Like it or not, everyone living with a dreamer has to learn to navigate unique challenges. I haven't found many who have written about things like this—at least, not yet. So I decided to pull back the curtains and give you a peek.

My husband has always been so supportive of what I do, so the new territory we travel sometimes feels surprising to both of us, which has led to some of the challenges I alluded to earlier.

He often says, "I'm proud of you."

I used to soak that statement in. I didn't need any explanation. It filled up my emotional bank. But in this new stage of life, I want to know specifics. What exactly is he proud of? This can lead to some tension as I try to explain this concept and why I need examples. I don't even know what I need, exactly. So we're working at this together.

I've identified several factors contributing to the rising communication challenges, at least in our home. I'm calling them catalysts for upheaval. If you're a dreamer or you live with one, maybe this will help shed some light on your own path.

Catalysts for Upheaval:

1) Public life increases the need for privacy.

I have carved out a career/ministry by sharing my life with the world through songwriting, concerts, blogging and social media. But doing an annual Christmas show has created some serious upheaval in my soul. As I shared on a podcast episode, the more public my life becomes, the more I crave privacy and solitude.

I love to encourage people by being real, but then I feel the need to retreat. I become fragile inside the walls of my home and in my soul. This unfolding revelation has been a rude awakening. I wasn't expecting this to happen! No one warned me about this.

2) "Feedback is the breakfast of champions."—Ken Blanchard.

Another factor in my changing inner landscape comes from the implications of Blanchard's quote—a quote that I have embraced wholeheartedly.

I love a good "breakfast" and I want to be a champion in everything I do. Therefore, I eat a lot of "breakfast". But I also need a place to be loved and complimented just for who I am, whether I improve or not. I want that place to be in my home and with my family. I guess we all need a safe place.

3) Reality of aging.

Has anyone else noticed that as you age, you receive less compliments? (Goodness, this is being really honest). I mentioned this one day to some friends and they commented (sort of jokingly), "Well what are people supposed to say to an older person? Nice wrinkles?! Nice bags under your eyes? You look good bald!?"

Another person said, "I don't think people realize that YOU still need compliments. You seem so secure and successful."

Oh my...if you only knew. I guess I'm just "out there" enough to try anything! But that doesn't mean I'm above fragility.

So now what?

That's when I came up with this analogy: "Compliments are like cash and everyone can always use more cash." It stuck—at least, in my mind. It gave me a creative way to explain what I need to my husband. And the truth is, we could all use a compliment now and then. I'm trying to be more generous these days.

Maybe this will inspire you to give away some "cash". After all, what could be a greater investment than depositing "cash" in the soul of another human being?

Saturday, January 19, 2019

The In-Between.

"To go TO something, you must go THROUGH something."—Bob Hazlett

It was January 7, 2018 when I heard this phrase from the guest speaker, Bob Hazlett. I could tell that I was going to need my kleenexes when he started to speak. I grabbed my pen and little travel notebook where I write song ideas, shopping lists, to-do lists and inspiring messages from speakers. I couldn't write fast enough, in between blowing my nose. His words stirred my creativity and began to replenish my happy but greatly depleted soul.

January tends to be a month of trying to find ways to fill up my empty soul. It's an In-Between month for meIt used to feel like a "new year" season, but not anymore. No resolutions or goals for the new year. Just recovery and tying up loose ends from my December concert, Portraits of White.

Since I started the concert experience over six years ago, I feel as if I've gone from having a daily routine to "seasonal" routines. The change has been both subtle and surprising and I'm still trying to adapt. The show is over but there are accounting books to finish up, surveys to read and consider, thank you notes to be written to so many people who help make the show a success and next thing you know, it's time to start planning the show again and I wonder how I'm ever going to do it again. Eventually, new ideas present themselves. Until then, it's a lot of waiting.

It was in this state of mind that I sat in my seat absorbing every word from the speaker. The thoughts I share here are not Bob's words exactly, but the essence of what he shared and how my soul received them. He spoke them over a year ago but I could tell even then that they were for me—somewhere down the road. As is often the case with "words" I hear, they might not be for the current moment but are futuristic. In this case, one year later, they are exactly what I needed for this month, this year.

There are three potential things we experience in the In-Between stages and it seems we often have to go THROUGH these to get TO the next thing.

1) Uncertainty
  • Certainty of the last season is taken away. Now you have a choice; experience fear or hope. 
2) The Unknown
  • The greatest creativity comes from the place where you have questions you would have never thought to ask.
  • If you want to see a new thing, you have to stop looking at the old—old relationships, old pain. (I would add that there IS a time to look at the old, but only enough to understand, heal and move forward.)
3) The Unfamiliar
  • It's more of a feeling than an experience. For example, Peter—the guy who walked on water in the Bible—was used to boats, water and storms, but he had never walked on water before.
A few other random phrases he shared:
  • If you want to see new things, sing a new song. (I've been asking what the "new song" is for this year's show. It might not be literal, but I'm staying open to all possibilities and every now and then an idea twinkles in the darkness.)
  • Voo Ja De - when you see a familiar thing in a new way.
  • You may feel boredom—it's God wanting to move you forward.
  • Think of the In-Between as discovering "old things done in a new way".
  • A helpful prayer during this season would be: "Show me what I need to know about You in this new season."
My record producer, Eric Copeland, wrote a great song years ago that I pull out every now and then to remind me that In-Between isn't always a bad place to be.

So if you're going THROUGH something that's uncertain, unknown or unfamiliar, take comfort that it can potentially lead you TO something new. It's the In-Between stage that can be disconcerting, but it's worth pressing through it.

Click HERE to listen to "In Between Dreams"