Posted in Thinking out loud

I don’t have anything innovative to say.

You may find yourself in a similar position as me. A cool thing has ended and you are waiting around for the next cool bus to jump on. Maybe it’s a project. Maybe it’s a job. Maybe it’s a calling. Maybe it’s just a feeling that something is coming down the line. I may not have anything innovative to say But I do just want to remind you of three things if you are in a holding pattern.

  1. Do something. Twiddling your thumbs may be all the energy you can pull up after this last phase of your life ended but do something. Sometimes doing nothing is the best thing you can do but don’t let that dictate your everyday existence. Do what only you can do. Write, call, create, organize, research use some brain cells during this waiting time. Learn a little something new.
  2. Don’t go to pot. Literally or figuratively. Take care of yourself. If something has ended in your life then something is definitely about to happen. We are always in preparation for the next stage. Do you need to rest more? Sit on the patio and read a book? Hold a baby? Drink more water? Eat pizza with friends? Take a social media break? Actually exercise? Cut out the sugar? Meditate? Pray? I know for me, the last few weeks have been re-connecting with friends and family to build an anchor for my soul. It’s also been important to move into disciplined and consistent exercise.
  3. Don’t beat yourself up. We have created a vicious un-loving culture centered around DOING rather than BEING. Just as you never what to get Number 2 confused with Number 1 in bathroom life Don’t get number 3 on this list confused with number 1. We have fallen for this trap that if we are doing something then we must have value. It has to be something big. Something important. Something highly instagrammable. If a season of your life has ended that took up much of your identity it is easy to fall into a pit of despair when “That Thing” is over. I know for myself I have had those stupid self-pity sessions starting with “I don’t have anything to offer that anyone would want anyway.” Thus, one of many reasons I have picked up my blog again.

There really is a time for everything. Time for waiting. Time for healing. Time for grieving. Time for dreaming. Use this time that you have to gear up for the next BIG Important Deal in your life! Let me know what’s working or not working for you.


Photo by Qusai Akoud on Unsplash


Posted in Life, Thinking out loud

Invisibleness for Self-Preservation

I’m struggling to get out of bed these days. I can blame it on daylight savings time. On this particular morning I could blame it on the spring rain darkening and calming my bedroom even more. I can’t seem to bounce out of bed at my typical 5:15-5:30 a.m. when normally I  wake up before my alarm goes off. I don’t feel languid or lounge-ful.  It almost hurts to think about getting up. My mind and soul seem to have joined magnetic forces with body into a feeling of self-preservation.

There is a sense of child playfulness of seeing exactly how slowly and noiselessly  I can slide out of bed. Can I move so stealth like my husband is not disturbed? Can I actually slide out from under all my quilts where it looks like I’m still sleeping under them? Images of soundlessly and unhurriedly moving down the hallway come to me. Can I not tiptoe, but purposely, slowly walk heel-to-toe and feel the cool hardwoods below my feet. I won’t avoid that squeaky board near the stairwell but walk so slowly over it that the squeak becomes just a sigh. I can melt through my living room in the dark without bumping into anything but the thought occurs to me to take another slow moment to light a candle. To just hover for a moment as the spark grows over the wick and the light starts to warm the surface of the candle. Could I make my cup of coffee without waking up the puppy sleeping in the kitchen? I could blend into the darkness so well that he just perks his ears up for a bit to notice, give a slight warning rumble,  then lay his back down to go back to sleep.  If I could continue this Harriet The Spy mode of self awareness and invisibility I would, just for a moment longer, make myself as small as possible on the couch, shrouded in a quilt, warmed by the first cup of coffee and hidden behind a book.

Most of my life I have been that “Notice Me Kid.” Jumping up and down in the old family reel to reels showing off goofy mugs and frightful cartwheels. I seem to be rapidly moving into a stage of life where my hidden introvert is taking over for the sake of self preservation. Even activities that would lead to more self preservation like exercise and nutrition have no interest to me. The energy I currently have available seems to only be able to generate a cocoon. It’s hard to form thoughts. It’s onerous to think critically and productively. It’s arduous to complete tasks.  I don’t feel beat up exactly.  But more like when you’ve spent a glorious full day at the beach. After a long while you realize although wonderful, you’ve had enough of the constant sea winds and warm sun battering you. You have that good feeling of just “worn-out-ness” from that constant motion of wind and water on your body.

Your mind and body and soul tell you it’s time to step into the gentleness of the shade for awhile.

Posted in Thinking out loud

Why I Won’t Be Saying A Certain Phrase Anymore: Becoming The Leader I Already Am

My son told me he had to write a short paper on a great leader. He told me he wanted to write about me but he wasn’t sure what kind of great leader I was. 

I could relate. Up until recently I’m not sure I could tell you who I was a leader either. I spent a great deal of time trying to look and sound like other leaders I admire. While I’m trying to figure all that out, I can tell you what kind of leader I am not. 

I’ve spent the better part of the last 2 years becoming something I could have never imagined on my own. It was all new territory for me.  I felt like I had to be 15 minutes ahead of everybody else. I felt obsessed in proving my longevity and reliability. I latched on to every new idea I saw, devoured every article on leadership, tried to aligned myself with people I saw as great leaders. I tried with all my being to incorporate all those concepts, ideas, taglines,  and catch phrases and create this exceptional leader persona.

But it wasn’t me. 

I kept seeing this theme of leader burnout and how to avoid it and you have to pull away and make yourself less accessible. But I realized I’m no where near burnout and I love being with people and making myself accessible to people renews my energy, keeps me accountable. I’m not that kind of leader. 

I read tweets, blogs, and facebook posts about how leaders motivate their teams, and good leaders pull their teams away for retreats, and strong leaders know when to push. I realized as much as I love being people I’m not in that stage of development yet. I still have a ton of relationship building to do to understand our teams, and how they communicate, what is truly their inspiration and motivation. They really, really don’t like to be pulled away from their environment and all my little creative outlets mean squat to them. I found I am not the kind of leader who can push a thread through a needle, but I am much better at pulling a thread when I know where to point them. 

My natural tendency is to move forward and figure it out as we go. Planning is tedious. Minutiae is maddening. Deal with your hurt feelings on your own time. I tried to be the leader that just plowed ahead and if you were with me great, and if you weren’t, well, don’t get in the way. Even though that is my natural tendency it wasn’t effective. I tried catch phrases that worked for other people. The feedback was most people saw me as hyperactive pinball machine, I was exhausting to work with, and they didn’t know where I was going to land next or which direction I was going to go. If you keep being that kind of leader, pretty soon you find you’re aren’t leading anybody at all. 

In becoming the leader I already am I am discovering the value of time overall. 

1. Time for relationships to develop trust and transparency.

2. Time for planning and executing together as a team.

3. Time to make sure we’re all together before we move forward. 

4. Time to center myself in my identity before God.

There’s a certain phrase you won’t hear me saying anymore because it’s not mine and it belongs to another leader, who is not me, and I need to stop trying to be like everybody else. 

I still working on the kind of leader God intends me to be but I can pretty well tell you who I don’t want to be. 

Have you been surprised to find yourself in a leadership role?

What have you discovered about yourself as a leader? 

Posted in Leadership

Why We Are Not Vampires

I’m returning from New York City where I attended a fascinating one day workshop with Les McKeown. Author of Predictable Success and The Synergist. The purpose was to help really anyone in an organization get from Point A to Point B. I’m sure I’ll be writing more about the actual experience as I have more time to process all the incredible knowledge Les so graciously shared. I have 3 things I learned from this trip overall of reaching our goals. Today, I’ll talk through the first.

  1. We aren’t vampires.

When I arrived at the workshop, I picked up the mandatory name tent with my name nicely printed on the front. The narcissitic 7 year old side of me loves this because as a kid I never got to have those personalized cups or pencils because my name was so unusual. During the introduction Les had me re-tell the story that my name is not a typo and how one of my many nicknames is Noel. I went on to explain where I was from and what I did. Just exactly what you would expect.

An additional part of the workshop was spent going over four types of people represented on successful teams.  Not surprisingly, I have strong Visionary but also Operator tendencies. I dream big but I can usually also put those dreams into action if given a tight task list.

I think basic self awareness of our natural gifts and talents is very important. It can keep you from going down a road you really have no business going down but it can also reinforce the confidence you need to succeed when you know exactly who you and have sense of what you can accomplish because of who you are.  In the relational realm I know who I am as a woman, wife, mother, friend, or sister. I know the boundaries and limitations of those identities but I also reap the benefits and blessings of being Carissa Elaine, Mrs. Robert Figgins, or Emma, Sam, or Alex’s mama.  In the vocational realm, I know I am a educator, advocate, and somewhat of an social entrepreneur.  I have specific skills sets and bodies of knowledge that help me do my tasks but would not identify me as a firefighter or surgical nurse. Because I know who I am, I know what I am good at and what I am not good at.

Knowing who I am also transcends to the spiritual realm and dictates all the other identities I have as a woman. I am an adopted child of God, a baptized believer, a redeemed trainwreck, a person in need of continual grace, love, and mercy.  This identity is not only who I am but whose I am. I am a daughter of the King, bought and paid for. I belong to God and I am inseparable from Him. Every moment I try to stray from that identity I lose track of my final goal . Every time I try to attach myself to something separate from that eternal identity I lose of true piece of who I am.  I want you to see Christ when you look at me.

We are not vampires. We need our own mirrors but also the mirrors that others hold up for us. We need to be reminded of who we are so we don’t lose whose we are.  This identity keeps on track for our ultimate goal of heaven.mirror

How do you identify yourself?

Who would you say you belong to?

What tools or mirrors do you use to show you who you are?

Posted in Thinking out loud

Little Deeper Than “The Devil Made Me Do It”

I don’t like to make excuses for who I am or how I do things. I mess up. A lot.

But I don’t like to apologize for my personality either.  Since age 9 we’ve all cycled through those thoughts and superfluous statements, of “I don’t like this about me, I’m going to change it.” “I don’t like that I think this way, I’m not going to do it anymore.” And then what happens?

We find ourselves right back where we started. Trying not to be who we are.

I’m not talking about cyclical sin or addiction. I’m not talking about bad habits or reprehensible decisions. This goes a little deeper than “the devil made me do it.” This is more about honoring who God has made us and working within the beautiful framework He has made around us.

I’m reading this fascinating book by Les McKeown called The Synergist. He describes in acute details 4 leadership types he as identified as Visionary, Processor, Operator, and then of course, The Synergist. McKeown speaks truthfully about the good and tricky part about each type. He doesn’t condemn one or say one is better than another. He says it’s just what is is, they are all needed, and there are certain ways they need to respect each other differences in order to move to success.

But the thing we have to realize is this idea is not isolated to the business world. I think we need to stop fighting who God made us. We need to stop thinking the grass is greener over there, that they’re life is so much better than ours so we need to be like them.

Be self aware enough to see God’s handprint on you,

but not so self aware that it turns into self reproach.

Some people like working with me so much they get their nose out of joint when I’m not completely accessible to them. They like the visions and the non traditional way I may push through to get things done. They seem to be drawn to the creativity and conversation. I drive other people absolutely insane because I don’t have a set way of doing things. I don’t have routine. I have to talk through things to wrap my head around them. I feel trapped by policies,procedures, and systems and don’t like the idea of revising any of them. I make them nervous because I look like a pin ball machine to them. They’re never sure where I’m going to bounce next. As McKeown says I’m more than likely to be chasing “the shiny blue bouncing ball” than returning their phone calls or calendar requests.

But whether in a business setting, a church setting, a family setting or whatever, if we can just accept the beauty of how God really did make each and everyone of us unique and beautiful I think some of our angst might dissipate. If we spent more time trying to work together rather than trying to change each other or ourselves we could accomplish a lot more good.

If we accepted the art of God’s creation with in each of us how could life be different?



Posted in Fitness, Thinking out loud

So a wuss, a diva, and a stubborn wench walk into a bar…

I’m a messy, creative, flighty type who abhors being labeled or put in a box with the exception of schedules. I have 3 calendars. To not know what is suppose to happen next sends me into cardiac arrest. It can literally keep me awake at night if I didn’t look at my calendar the night before to see where I’m suppose to be when Now the ironic part is I tend to run late, I’m obnoxious to reschedule with, and I don’t remember every time when I’m suppose to be somewhere. But I am quite aware that I’m a morning person only if I don’t have to talk to someone and I’m a night owl only if I do have someone to talk to. About 3-5:30 p.m. I usually shut down mentally. 5 hour energy drinks were designed specifically for me.

That’s another reason I’m kicking myself for going for my run today at 2:30 p.m. I almost always run exclusively in the early mornings. But I’ve had a hard time lately squeezing that in. So I thought I would run during the boys quiet time. But that’s usually when I’m recharging myself as well. My stomach was still full from lunch. It was flipping hot out. This was possibly one of the worst runs of my life. 1.5 miles into and I still hadn’t found my pace. By my turn around I was walking. At 2.78 I was sitting on the sidewalk in the shade trying to slow down my heart rate and figure out why my legs had turned to jelly. I refused to stop but the wuss inside of me was calling “Uncle.”

I’ve joined Carlos and Grant  in the  Taking Sexy Back Challenge. I’m not new to diet and fitness. I’m a diva who loves to work hard. I run, I bike, I reluctantly swim, I play basketball, and I  own the tetherball court. I prefer vegetarian and organic over most anything but I do t end to eat and drink whatever I want and whenever I want and we all know that will come back to bite your big, white bahuga in the end.

I tell you all this simply because if you starting out again like me trying just to lose a measly 10 pounds ( that refuse to move) or if you have 100 lbs to lose. Know yourself. Help yourself be successful by choosing the right time and the right activity for you. But don’t use that as excuse either. You need to take care of what you have been given and don’t sell yourself short.