Archive for the ‘Trying New Things’ Category

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: cellar_door_films via Compfight cc

Have you ever been in a situation where you feel like you’re a failure no matter what you do? Or how about one where you walk away defeated every time a certain person speaks to you? Or maybe you’ve been in one where you feel like you’re just hanging on for dear life and are afraid to let go for fear that you will fall further than you can get back from. I can honestly say I’ve been there. In fact, I can think of at least one situation in my life right now where I feel like that.

The question I have at times like this is, do I give up or do I hang on? The reality is, I could do either one. And either could turn out for my good because there are good and bad to both decisions. Currently, I have a situation whereby I have to decide if I need to stay where I am at or look for a change. That’s difficult for me because I have invested a lot of time and effort into this situation. I have worked hard and have had a lot of successes. There was a point when I woke up wanting to be a part of this situation.

Those days have passed. So now, I have to ask myself, do I stay or do I go? Do I survive or do I live? Do I give up or do I let go? That last question might seem like I’m asking the same question twice. But I’m not. Giving up means I stop trying. I just give up and let things fall as they will. Letting go means, I make a choice to walk away. I’m not giving up; I’m choosing a different path. Giving up means I probably stay in the situation that is defeating me. Letting go means I look for an opportunity to learn and grow and change – and hopefully be built up.

Right now, I feel sometimes like all I do is survive. I do what I have always done because it’s what has worked for me in the past. I’ve probably mentioned I like to stay in my comfort zone. That’s because I know it works for me. The problem is, I think I’ve become stagnant. And that is probably part of the reason I feel frustrated and defeated all the time. I’m tired of doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. That never works for me (duh!). Instead of things getting better, I fall further and further into defeat until eventually, I either am forced to get out, or I fall so far I can’t get myself out.

I no longer want to survive. I want to live. I want to grow. I want to be built up and build others up. I do not want to stay stuck in a place where there never seems to be a win any longer. I no longer want to be in a place where I feel like I’m a failure every single day of my life. I no longer want to listen to all the things I’m doing wrong (and believe me there are lots of them). I want to hear what I’m doing right once in a while. I’m tired of dwelling on the negative. I want to hear and see the positive.

So, the question I pose to myself today is: “Are you going to give up or are you going to let go?”

Your turn! Have you ever been in a situation where you spent each day feeling defeated? What did you do (or are you doing) to better that situation? Do you think there’s a difference between giving up and letting go? I’d love to hear from you!

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit:  By Martin Wessely  (

Photo Credit: By Martin Wessely (

I am not one to try a lot of new things. I prefer to stick with the things I know and like, rather than try something that I might not like. However, lately, it’s been getting to the point where I am tired of the same old thing. I feel like I am trapped in a room, looking out at the world and seeing everything I wish I had the guts to do pass me by. A lot of that has to do with the fear of trying something new and not liking it or maybe even failing at it. I think for me, failure is the biggest fear I have. I think somehow, deep inside, I think it means that somehow I am lacking – that somehow I’m not good enough.

Much of my fear has to do with the fact that I have done so many stupid things in my past. I have a litany of events in my life that would illustrate the extent of how stupid I can really be. And for the past few years, I think I’ve done all I can to distance myself from that failure and make myself out to be this person who seldom messes up. It’s all about the image because if anyone saw who I really had been, they would perhaps not like me quite so much. Forget the fact that my past has taught me so many things. To let others see me as I really am might mean rejection. And I have faced enough of that in my life – at least that’s what I tell myself.

The reality is, my past is my past. I can’t change it, but I can look back on it and see how far I have come. Or rather, I can look back and see how far God has brought me. He took a scared, stupid, insecure little girl and He has grown me into someone who, while still scared, and still able to do stupid things, and often insecure, is also learning to be courageous and strong and to depend on Him. As a result, recently I have started to do things I never really expected I’d be able to do. For example, I went back to New York, where my roots are a few weeks ago. To say that was a step out of my comfort zone is an understatement. I was terrified. But I did it. That’s just one example, but I have others that I can point to. Except, that’s not the point today.

When I refuse to step out and take a risk – whether it be failure, rejection or something else unpleasant – I do myself a disservice. I put myself in a cage. I lock myself up into a tiny little box and instead of growing, I shrink. I go deep into myself and I lock everyone else out. And that’s a lonely life.

Paul says in Philippians 3:13-14, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it (perfection) yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (NASB). Paul had a lot to be ashamed of in his past. After all, he persecuted, imprisoned and caused the death of many followers of Christ before he went through is own conversion experience. He could have chosen to hate himself, belittle himself, or lock himself away from other believers. Instead, he chose to do the opposite and as a result started many different churches, not to mention the prevalence of his letters being included in the New Testament.

Paul went on to say in verses 15-16, “Let us therefore, as many as are perfect (or mature), have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (NASB). In other words, live up to who you are. I am a child of God. As a result that means I am sanctified, redeemed, and can rest in God. I don’t have to keep looking back in shame at my past. I can use it as a learning experience, but my life isn’t in the past. I am to be embracing what God has for me in the future, and that is that I am going to get to be with Him someday. And if that’s the case, then what do I have to be afraid of here? What am I avoiding?

With that in mind, I have a few “bucket list” items I am planning on this year, such as kayaking, driving to New York with my kids this summer, taking a chance and entering a couple of writing contests this year, and so much more. And I can do those things because I am free. Yes, I might fail. Yes, things can go wrong. Yes, I can get hurt and it’s going to be a risk. But, in the end, I am going to grow and learn, and most of all, I am going to escape from that cage I have locked myself into.

What about you? Have you locked yourself in a cage too? Are you avoiding certain things out of fear of failure or rejection? What do you do to get past those feelings and live the life God has called you to?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

Photo Credit: vandan desai via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: vandan desai via Compfight cc

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” – Lao Tzu

So, today you’re getting a “special edition” blog posting because my schedule was off yesterday due to traveling. Today, I am writing from the comfort of my hotel room in Rochester, NY. It’s a balmy 25 degrees here on this beautiful, sunny day. I am a little surprised at how calm I am, to be quite honest. I tend to be a nervous traveler, but today, I am just feeling calm and relaxed. I guess that’s a good thing. Anyway, while I’ve been traveling, I’ve been considering how different I am seeing things these days – especially as it relates to doing things out of the ordinary.

A year ago, I would not have traveled any distance alone just because I felt like it. I would have wanted to go, but I wouldn’t have had the courage to take any action (and in fact, didn’t). For so many years, I have made excuses about why I couldn’t come back to NY. It was always something like, “I don’t have the money right now” or “I just don’t have time to go.” And while those things were somewhat true, I do believe that I could have figured out a way, had I possessed even a small amount of courage.

That’s why this trip is such a big deal to me. I think in a way, it’s proof to myself that I have changed. I have grown, matured, and become more adventurous than I have been for so many years. It’s like there was a part of me buried inside that I had hidden away because I thought I could never be that person again. And over the past few years, and especially in the past year, I have slowly begun to dig that part of me back out.

See, when I was younger, I wasn’t this scared person who was unwilling to try anything new. I was actually quite outgoing and loved to go new places, meet new people and do new things. Somewhere along the way, what with the hurts and the disappointments, that person disappeared, and only a shell of her was left. The longing inside of myself was buried so deeply, I couldn’t see it. But lately, staying in the same patterns, doing the same things day in and day out, has become monotonous and is no longer palatable to me. I have started to feel the pull of getting outside of my normal and being more spontaneous.

So, on this trip, I haven’t really done a lot of planning of what or who I will see and when. I have only made a few plans, and the rest of the time, I intend to take things as they come. I want to fully experience this trip in a way that I haven’t before. I want to go home feeling like I have been renewed and have a new outlook. This is the biggest thing I have done in so many years, and I am excited to see where my “adventure” takes me. So, with that, I’m off to enjoy myself on this journey I have undertaken.

Your turn! Do you have things that you’ve wanted to do, but you’ve made excuses about why you can’t? What can you do now to take even a “small” step toward that dream, goal, or desire?

~Until Next Time,

Karen Signature

I’m a huge proponent of always being on the lookout for something new to learn, so when I start to get to the point where I feel like I’m not learning enough, I look around for something new to learn, or even just something to break up the “monotony” of my life. (I used the work monotony, not because everything stays the same in my life, but because I tend not to break out of my comfort zone unless I have to.)  This has led me to more Bible Study, learning new leadership concepts or ideas, rekindling my love playing my clarinet, and most recently, I’m learning to knit.  By recently, I mean since Saturday morning.  Yes, that’s right, 3 days ago.

It all started with a thought, “I think I want to learn how to knit.”  See, I am one of those people who has to always have something to do with her hands.  So even when I watch TV, I have to be doing something.  This generally means, I sit on my laptop a lot because I can do mindless things on it that don’t keep me from paying attention to what I’m watching.  Well, I don’t like that I am spending so much time on my laptop doing non-productive things.  So, I got to thinking about what I could do at the same time as watching TV or movies with my kids.  The only thing that kept coming to mind was different people in my life knitting while listening to a sermon, or sitting in a doctor’s waiting room, or pretty much anywhere.  And that was an aha! moment for me.  So, that’s when I first thought about knitting.

I’d love to say that I jumped right into it.  But, alas, it is now about 6 months since I had that first thought, and I just bought the supplies on Saturday.  6 months!!  (Did I mention, I don’t jump out of my comfort zone much?)  There were a few times I almost bought a “learn how to knit” book or kit, but every time, I just put it back.  I kept telling myself that it just wasn’t worth the money, or I didn’t have the coordination, or some other excuse.  Yes, I’m great at excuses.  I think I might have even shared that before!! Haha!

It might have gone on forever, except that my friend had recently learned to knit and told me about a book, Teach Yourself Visually: Knitting by Sharon Turner.  Then she told me it wasn’t really that hard to learn.  We talked about it a few times over the past several weeks.  And finally, on Saturday, I remembered, “I have a Michael’s gift card that still has a balance!”  So, without further ado (or much thought), I went to Michaels.  I picked out 3 balls of yarn (well actually I think only one is technically considered a ball…the others are skeins or something like that, but I digress) and one set of needles.  I got everything for $3.71 because of that gift card.  Just think how much sooner I could have begun “enjoying” a new hobby if I had just gone and gotten the materials.

In any event, I was excited to start, so after a few more errands, I rushed home and into my bedroom to start learning my new craft.  After what seemed an hour of frustration (but was really only a few minutes), I ‘cast on’ and got pretty good at that.  I soon learned that it’s the easiest part – well at least the version I was doing.  After a few mishaps and unravellings, I got one row knitted.  And then I met my Waterloo – the second row.  Who knew following pictures could be so difficult!?  I could not figure out how to get my second row to look like the picture, and top of everything, I kept knocking the entire row off the needles and unravelling everything.  After three times and an hour of trying, I threw in the towel.  I was practically in tears of frustration.

Yesterday, I thought maybe I’d try again, so I went back to the beginning, cast on, and knitted my first row in less than 15 minutes.  I was ecstatic!  But, alas, I still couldn’t figure out that second row.  I had to leave for choir practice, so I set it aside yet again – but this time without accidentally unravelling it.  (See?  Progress!)

This evening, I picked up that knitting again, determined to knit a second row.  And I did!! I got a second row completed, and have even started a third row!  I’m so excited!  Now, granted, I haven’t gotten very far, but I feel like I have accomplished this huge task!

Which brings me back to my purpose for writing this.  Oftentimes, I tell myself I can’t do something, or I make excuses to not try something new before I have even given myself an opportunity to give it a shot.  I sell myself short and belittle myself, making me feel small and frustrated.  But I noticed that when I finally decided to just try, I actually could do it.  Maybe I can’t do it well, but I can do it.  The quality comes with practice.  I think maybe I need to stop looking at the “reasons” for why I can’t do something and look for the reasons that I should try.  Maybe I should stop thinking about all the bad things that might happen and think about all the great things that are more likely to happen.  If I never try, I might miss out on some pretty great experiences.

My adventure in knitting has taught me that I need to try before I say “I can’t.”  I knew that intellectually, but now I know that in reality.  I have said this to my kids for as long as I can remember, but  never realized I wasn’t following my own advice.  I think after this, I might be more willing to try other new things.  But first, I have to get past the third row of knitting!!

Have you ever fallen prey to your own excuses?  Do you sell yourself short?  Or do you try new things without issue, knowing that the rewards most likely will outweigh the risks?  Maybe you’ve got an idea for how to combat fear and insecurity.  I want to hear from you.

~Until Next Time!

Karen Signature