Courage reveals itself in many ways. Sometimes it’s the courage to get up out of bed and face a challenging day. It might be the courage to walk away from a situation that doesn’t serve you when it would be easier to stay. Sometimes, when you least expect it, you may face a split second decision that could mean saving a stranger’s life.
Years ago, we took a summer vacation to a lake resort. Our cabins ringed a beach on the shores of Leech Lake, one of the largest lakes in Minnesota. It was a hot summer day. A storm was brewing. Our kids were small and we were playing on the beach. My husband and my father were fishing out on the lake.
The sky started to roll and took on a greenish tinge. Cold, hard rain began to fall. We grabbed up all the beach toys, hustled the kids into the largest cabin, and convinced them to all go into an inner bathroom, away from windows. We kept a nervous eye out for the fishermen to return. Massive waves battered the shoreline. It was a dangerous situation, made worse because they weren’t familiar with the lake.
We breathed a sigh of relief when we saw them coming in, their boat tossed around like a toy. We watched through windows facing the lake, wind making the glass tremble. The resort owner met them on shore. We assumed he would help them secure the boat. Instead, he was making huge motions with his arms and pointing toward the horizon. To our dismay, the boat turned around and headed back out, over the angry waves. The owner remained on shore, watching, pacing. Something was wrong and we were terrified.
We learned there was another boat, stranded out on the lake. The guide, who'd been taking a mother and two children out fishing, couldn't find his way back in the storm. Having no other options and little time, the panicked owner asked our guys to go help them.
The minutes dragged on. We couldn’t see much through the storm. A huge branch broke off behind the cabins and smashed down on someone’s pickup. Where were they?
Finally, we could see them heading back in, guiding a smaller boat. Later, they’d tell us how the kids had been huddled under a tarp in the bottom of the boat, terrified. Huge waves and pouring rain threatened to swamp their boat, making it heavy and hard to manuever. The guide had no GPS and was disoriented in the storm. The mother was so scared she wanted to try to jump into the larger boat. Dad convinced her to stay put. My husband used his GPS and larger boat to help guide the smaller boat back to the resort.
The whole situation could have had a tragic ending, but because two men never hesitated when faced with a potentially life or death situation, everyone survived that summer storm.
The appreciation shown to the rescuers was a powerful thing for our kids to witness, as was their act of bravery. People could have died if there would have been any hesitation.
Sometimes an act of courage can save a stranger’s life. Sometimes it can save your own. The danger may be imminent or it may be something else entirely. You may need to take a deep breath, muster up your own courage, and make a difficult decision because your heart tells you a change is necessary to improve your life.
I love this quote from A. Nin: “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Choose to live bravely. Expand your life. Cheering you on, Kim
Are you competitive? Is competition good or bad?
Some types of competition are certainly fun. I’m not much of a professional football fan but you can’t beat a playoff game to get into the Super Bowl between the Vikings and the Eagles when you live in a neighboring state to Minnesota (Skol!) and a young man from your state has done a phenomenal job in Philadelphia (proud of you, Carson). It promises to be an exciting evening.
But let me get back to my initial questions. Personally, I think competition has a place in life but it can be detrimental if we’re not extremely careful.
We’ve all heard the stories about, and probably witnessed, parents going crazy at their young children’s sporting events. When taken to such extremes, these high levels of competitiveness can strip all the joy out of participating in the sports. We need to remember it’s called playing basketball, or playing hockey, or playing football for a reason. Kids can learn to work as a team, get some exercise and build memories of fun and friendship that can last a lifetime if they can just play. But when sports are taken too seriously, starting with both parents and coaches, participating in a sport can start to feel like a chore for the kids and it’s no longer fun. The true benefits of participating in a sport are often, sadly, lost.
People will argue that kids need to learn to be tough and competitive so they can survive as adults in the real world. Really?
Kids do need to learn many things to live a happy, successful, productive life but I would argue that the need to dominate over everyone else, to be better than everyone else, is not one of those critical lessons. Almost three decades of working in the real world has taught me that some of the most important life skills include the ability to work with others, offer a hand up to those in need, and to learn how to be compassionate servant leaders. Even in fields deemed to be populated with extremely competitive people, it’s usually those individuals that are really good at helping others that succeed in the long run.
Many people around here are proud of Carson Wentz. For those of you who don’t recognize the name, Carson grew up in North Dakota and played quarterback for the NDSU Bison. He went on to be a second round draft pick a couple of years ago. He’s played well, but his notoriety is about so much more than football. He is a young man of strong convictions. He has made special connections with fans, especially ones suffering devastating personal hardships. He’s used his success to help many and acts as a leader, both on and off the field.
Because so much of our world is based on competition and “the hype”, it can be a struggle to remember it isn’t all about being number one. Can you imagine how different the state of the world might be if more people instead focused on personal growth? What if we worked to learn from our “competition” instead of working to beat them? Trying to be the best at anything is exhausting and quite literally impossible in a world made up of billions of people. But if each person instead worked to be a little better today than they were yesterday, and that was their own personal measurement of success, it would be so much easier to feel a sense of self-awareness and accomplishment.
I’m trying to focus on becoming a better writer. This means I need to write every day, read and learn from more experienced writers, and keep it fun by writing about things that excite me. While I learn how to write and publish books, I’m crossing paths with others that want to do the same. It’s so fun to be part of something bigger and learn alongside others.
If you like to paint or sell things or teach others, try to do things every day that make you a little better at it then you were yesterday. Help more people do the same. Then enjoy the sense of personal fulfillment you will feel because you’ve made this world a little brighter than it was yesterday. Everyone wins!
Cheering you on, Kim
A mid-January morning in North Dakota is not for the faint-of-heart. My phone shows -21 degrees. When I first step outside, the air hurts my face. Breathing feels…different. Sometimes I wonder why we live in this land of extremes.
I love the vivid beauty these extremes offer when I allow myself to stop to appreciate it.
These days, when dawn brings clear skies, my morning commutes are graced with stunning sunrises. The sun’s ascension coincides perfectly with my schedule. Other times of the year, I often miss this brilliant show by Mother Nature. Either the sun is already higher in the sky or it’s still too low to do more than tinge the horizon with light.
Now is when the sun dogs sparkle, halos of bright light to the left and the right of the sun. I think of sun dogs as our “winter rainbows”, spots of light and sometimes brilliant color on starkly cold days.
Sunrises are a beautiful reminder that each new day is a chance for us to start again. By now, some of the excitement we felt as we faced the beginning of the new year, full of high expectations, may have waned a bit. I know it has for me. Planning for success before we start is fun. Once the real work begins, some days aren’t so fun. I already feel like I’m slipping in some of the areas I wanted to improve upon this year.
But here’s the thing, folks. To live our best lives, we have to live in the present. We have to make today the best day we can because we can’t change yesterday and we can’t know what tomorrow will bring. Every sunrise can serve as a reminder to start anew. We can decide to start today with a clean slate and take some of those small steps we know we need to take to move in the direction we know we want to go.
If you’re a goal setter, be stubborn and tenacious about doing something every day to move in the right direction, but be flexible on exactly what that looks like. Sometimes life redirects us in unexpected ways, but that doesn’t mean we should ever give up on our goals. It may just mean the path to get there suddenly looks a little different.
My challenge to you, and to myself, is to start each day with determination. Start with a plan for the steps you'll take today. Arrange your day so you can accomplish as many of those steps as you desire. If you want to relax today, plan to do so. Stay conscious as to how you're spending your time. Aim for feeling satisfied at the end of your day. Make a little progress and let go of the idea of perfection.
Mother Nature shows us how a stormy day will eventually lead to a beautiful sunrise. Let go of all the disappointing yesterdays and enjoy today. It is a gift.
Cheering you on, Kim
I admit it. I’m guilty of it. I suspect most of you are guilty of it as well. I waste time. I’m not referring to an evening on the couch, watching my favorite shows. We all need a little downtime. I’m talking about getting stuck and coasting along for days, weeks or even months in the daily routine that becomes “life” vs. doing all of those things we keep putting off for “someday”.
As an accountant by trade, I help others figure out how to improve on their profitability. Together we look for ways to grow revenue and save on expenses in order to increase the bottom line. What I find fascinating, and have only come to appreciate over the past decade, is how careful and protective people are with their money ... but not their time. What a shame. I would argue time is a much more valuable resource than money yet we are all guilty of squandering it at times.
If you go to Pinterest and look up “time quotes”, endless examples pop up. We’ve heard many of them … numerous times … so many times we ignore them.
Time is a precious commodity. Each of us has limited time and, with a few exceptions, we have no idea how much time we have left. We can either chose to ignore this irrefutable fact, we can let it scare us, or we can use it to fuel our sense of urgency to focus on the things that are most important every day.
I’m going to try something. I want to start treating my time as I would money in a bank account, to think of it as having a “plus” and a “minus” column. We can’t measure time like we can money and know exactly how much we “have left”. Remember, that's what makes time so valuable - none of us can afford to waste it. But we can all make better choices with our time.
I have a question for you. When someone asks you how things are going, is your immediate response something like “Oh, I’m so busy!” Mine was until I realized what a boring, excuse-based answer that one little statement represented. It started to feel like what I was actually saying was “My days are filled with small, inconsequential things that I simple have to do, blah, blah, blah.” Now I try to avoid saying “I’m busy.”
We each chose how we spend every hour of our days. I know it can often feel like we don’t have a choice. Maybe we feel “stuck” in a job we don’t enjoy but we have to be there from eight to five, five days a week. Is it time to look for a new job?
Maybe we have kids involved in lots of activities and our days are consumed with running them around. Remember, the kids didn’t just magically get signed up for the activities. Either you personally signed them up or you allowed someone else to register them. Are all those activities valuable? Does your child even enjoy them?
If you don’t like doing the things that are consuming your hours, make different choices. Sometimes it will take conscious effort to implement changes but if it is important, do it.
We can chose to use more of our time to do things that might give us more hours on this earth like going for a walk to get some exercise or cooking a healthy meal vs. a fast-food drive-thru. This can help on the plus side, although there are no guarantees. We can say “no” to more things that consume our time but don’t fit in with our own priorities. I know this isn't easy but it isn't impossible.
What things do you do that, if you are being completely honest with yourself, feel like time-wasters? This will look different for everyone and I’m not here to pass judgement. What I would like to do is challenge you to think about how you are spending your days, and if you aren’t wild about how things look today, find ways to make some tweaks.
It’s like setting goals. Take a step back and figure out what you really want then figure out what you need to do to make it happen. If you want to spend more time with the people most important to you, plan that time. Free up some of your own time and schedule it with them. If you want to “find” another hour in the day to exercise or start writing that book, set your alarm clock an hour earlier (across the room so you can’t hit snooze) and actually get up when it goes off and go get started.
None of us would leave a wallet full of our hard-earned cash laying out where anyone could help themselves to it. Why do we do that with our time?
I can’t help but leave you with a quote by Harvey Mackay that sums this up for me:
Time is free, but it’s precious. You can’t own it, but you can use it. You can’t keep it, but you can spend it. Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.
What have you been putting off because you feel you don’t have time for it? What are you going to do “someday”? Someday is never guaranteed so get started now. Live life without regrets.
Here’s to ditching the excuses and making the most of every day! Kim
Kimberly Diede Author
Hello everyone and welcome to my blog! My name is Kimberly Diede and I'm a fiction author and family girl. When time permits, I am happiest with a great cup of coffee in one hand and a book in the other. I love to alternate between reading and writing. Winters here can be long, dark and cold. Summers are unpredictable, lovely and always too short. Every season of the year, as in every season of life, is a gift. Let's celebrate it together!