What Are You Hungry For?

As I wrote earlier in the week, I was out of town for a while, so getting back home this week meant getting back to eating healthy. I didn’t eat well while I was gone so I have gone intensely back to eating right.

Photo Credit: Ben Stassen via creative commons

Photo Credit: Ben Stassen via creative commons

It sounds great and I would love to tell you how great I feel but honestly the only thing I can think about is how much I want to eat. I’m not starving myself, but after eating whatever and whenever I wanted since Christmas and even Thanksgiving to some degree it has been an uncomfortable change this week.

I feel like everyone knows I’m not eating anything remotely bad right now and they are all conspiring against me to put pictures on Instagram of food I love but won’t allow myself to eat. Maybe I should avoid social media as well. Although I don’t think it will help because it seems feasible and logical to sprint to Red Lobster right now and eat Cheddar Bay Biscuits until I physically have to stop. I don’t even like Red Lobster.

The hunger I have experienced this week has made me look at other areas in my life where I have slowly shifted over time and not realized how far I have drifted. I have realized, simply because you don’t feel much has changed doesn’t mean it hasn’t actually changed. I am looking at other areas of my life besides my diet and making sure I am where I want to be and haven’t drifted too far.

It can be sobering but taking a honest look at where you are at and where you want to be is necessary. Right now I’m hungry. When I see a picture of food I don’t look at it and think it looks good. I taste it. I want it badly and imagine how good it would be to consume. I’m embarrassed of how strong a desire I have for food right now because I can’t tell you when the last time I have desired a goal or my relationship with God this much.

Eating less causes your body to feel a change. If I didn’t have any goals I wouldn’t feel the physical impact but the long term impact is significant. I wouldn’t have the desire I do. If I hadn’t prayed much or gone to church I wouldn’t feel the physical difference I do right now but overall I would be in worse shape.

Take a look back at the past few months. What have you been hungry for?

Food?

Promotion?

A Relationship?

Change?

I want to hunger for the right things. I want to long for success and you are probably the same. I see other people who are doing what I want to do with my life and I want to be like them.

In order to be like them I know I have to hunger for the right things. I need to act upon it as well. At the end of 2015 the decisions we make right now will have a lasting impact on where we will be on December 31st. Make sure you chase the right things.

What’s Next?

Life is full of peaks and valleys. There are times when we look forward to a long trip or look forward to a new career and once it happens we don’t know where to go afterwards. What do you do when you have longed for something for so long and finally get it?

Photo Credit: Better Than Bacon via creative commons

Photo Credit: Better Than Bacon via creative commons

When things are not going well we sit and think about how happy we will be once we get to whatever it is we are striving towards. It could be a promotion, vacation, or just a day to wake up and not have to do anything at home. I want to focus on striving towards a promotion. When you finally get to where you have been heading for it’s normal to think, “what now?”

We can get so accustomed to unhappiness we think it is how we should feel all the time. Monday morning should always be awful right? We should always dread going to work or meeting with a client. Don’t buy into this lie.

I am at a point in my life right now which is so different than any other point I have been at before. In hockey, you have players which are called grinders. They are the working-class players. They don’t score much and hardly anyone buys their jersey. They do the dirty work. Every team needs a few of these.

For my whole professional career I feel like I have been a grinder. Constantly doing work I really didn’t want to do but it was necessary for the company and it was necessary for my career. You can’t start out doing something else.

I certainly have a long way to go but I am coming out of being a grinder and it is hard to shake the mentality I’m no longer a grinder. I am starting to realize I was not mentally ready for a change. When you constantly dread work and hate what you do every single day you don’t get over the feeling with a change in your job title.

Statistically over 50% of Americans are unhappy at work. You may fit into that category. Wherever you are at today I would encourage you to work on your mentality. There is nothing wrong with being there but make sure you don’t confuse happiness with a job title.

No matter what is next for you it won’t matter if you are stuck in your own self pity. Be content with your role while pushing for something greater.

Barber Shop Therapy

I went and got my haircut Saturday. For the past several months I have gotten it done by the same lady. For the purpose of this post we will call her Beth. She’s awesome. When I first think about why Beth is awesome I don’t immediately think of how great of a job she does cutting my hair.

Photo Credit: Leslie Kalohl via creative commons

Photo Credit: Leslie Kalohl via creative commons

She does an amazing job and is really quick which I love but it is not why I enjoy getting my hair cut by her.I love sitting there and listening to her talk. She doesn’t give me advice or drop a lot of wisdom.

She could care less what I think about anything she is saying. She shares about her weird family life. She shares about her troubles with relationships. She isn’t worried what I think. I wish I had more of her personality in my life.

I can’t tell you how many times I have said something and worried about what the person I was talking to thought about it. It happens on a daily basis. I’m not telling weird stories. I’m talking about things I enjoy doing. I may mention a book I like, a show I’m watching, or food I enjoy eating.

Why do we get so worried about what other people think?

Every time I sit down in the chair to get my haircut I’m reminded to take the filter off in my life. Beth reminds me we are all human and we all have flaws and there isn’t anything wrong with talking about it with people who are closer to strangers than friends.

I believe the older we get the more experienced we are in hiding our true beliefs and our true desires from people. No matter how old we get it still hurts when people make fun of us. Sure we are told we need to have thick skin and we need to deal with it but I think it’s alright to make ourselves vulnerable. It is what makes us human.

I love the way The Message translates Matthew 5:5:

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are – no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”

It’s not easy. I’m unsure what I should share and what I shouldn’t but I’m learning to lean on the side of not worrying what others think.

Winter Thoughts

It’s cold outside. Not the cold which consumes the Northeast for the better part of the year but the cold which hits the South out of nowhere for small segments of the year. You can feel the chill in your bones when you step outside and no matter how warm you get your car the cold never goes away.

Photo Credit: Jason A G via creative commons

Photo Credit: Jason A G via creative commons

The ground is constantly moist and you don’t crave anything to eat except warm soup. I also thirst for hot tea. I will go months in the summer without drinking it but when it’s cold outside I crave tea like a character on Downtown Abbey.

I’m a big believer in summer. I don’t understand how people live in areas where a warm climate doesn’t dominate the year. I love living in the South for a variety of reasons but near the top is the weather. It gets hot but it’s comfortable. I can’t get comfortable when it’s cold outside.

Sometimes I come home from work and I want to grab a blanket and lay on the couch for hours. I’m embarrassed by how good it sounds to me right now as I type this. It’s hard to feel motivated in the winter. I long for the days of sunshine and air conditioning. I feel more alive in those months. This time of year I simply want to hibernate and wake up in the summer.

Perhaps this is why there are seasons. I hate walking through the treacherous parts of life. The sheer thought of those moments are enough to make my stomach tighten up. Maybe God tries to show us these things so we will learn the valleys in life can be as rewarding as the peaks. Sammy Rhodes tweeted this a few months back: “Today was a hard day. Reminding myself that hard days are days the Lord has made too.”

There are certain things like hearing the voice of someone you love or listening to a song you love which you haven’t heard in a while which make us feel so alive. It makes me desire for time to stand still so I can dwell in the moment for as long as I want. It doesn’t work. Time goes on and good times fade away and bring other good times and bad times along. Seasons of life are very similar to the actual seasons. I hate some seasons. I love others.

I don’t have any children but I should love seasons of life like parents love their children. They don’t love one more than the other. They love them all for different reasons. This cold time of the year I’m going to do my best to stay positive when I wake up in the morning. I’m going to treat the day as a gift rather than as something I need to get through.

Besides, we can’t get to spring unless we get through winter.

Saturday Morning

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There is always a small, brief moment when I first wake up where I don’t know what day it is. My body isn’t quite able to open up my eyes and take in the day for the first time but my brain starts slowly thinking about everything which must be done at work today.

Suddenly, something wonderful happens. It isn’t a work day. It’s Saturday. There isn’t a price which can be paid to know you can roll over and sleep a little bit longer or don’t have to check that email, deal with that eternally unhappy client, or sit through a pointless meeting because, it is Saturday.

I’m a big coffee drinker. For whatever reason I always drink coffee out of our Keurig Saturday morning. I love walking into the kitchen to turn on the machine and hear the quiet roar it makes as it is starting up. I don’t have to turn on any lights in the kitchen because the sun is coming through the windows and I’m reminded again there is no work today.

I spin the k-cup carousel around and pick out either a Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend or a Caribou Coffee Daybreak Morning Blend. As I sit there and wait for the water to warm up my mind automatically wanders off into deciding what I’m going to do. It usually starts off with writing or reading a book. It’s amazing how the extent of one day can seem endless in your mind.

This time of year I usually plan out what football games I’m going to watch during the day. I think about what can be accomplished before 11:00 AM when the games begin to kick off. Then I think about what cocktail I want to make that evening. I make a mental checklist of all the ingredients to make sure I don’t need to go to the store.

My favorite part is I’m not obligated to do any of these things. If I decide I want to sit and read all day or sit and watch football for entirely too long that’s fine.

Saturday morning is my time to do what Jacob wants to do. I get recharged by making time to do something for me for a small window every week.

I know your Saturday’s may be nothing like this. You have kids jumping on top of your bed to wake you up or you work on Saturday’s and I get that.

The main thing I want you to take from this is no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it is, you need to find time to do something for yourself.

It’s extremely hard to do this no matter what you have going on but you have to find time to do something solely for you. It could be spending an hour in silence reading a book or driving your 4-wheeler through the woods. Whatever it is, make sure you do it for yourself and no one else.

Be intentional about making time to do this. We spend so much of our time doing things we have no interest in doing or doing things we are obligated to do that we have to find time to do something for ourselves to keep our sanity.

Carve out an hour over the next few days to do something you want to do. It doesn’t have to be significant to an outsider but it will pay dividends for you.

Striving for Something Better

Have you ever waited for something and when it finally came you were not nearly as happy about it as you thought you would be?

Most of us have felt that way several times.

A few weeks ago I was checking my work email constantly for news about some potential good news. I didn’t know a timetable of when I would receive the news via email but I couldn’t help but look what seemed like every five minutes to see if any news came in. I knew deep down nothing would change if I did get that email but I still kept checking.

I finally did get the email and after I did I felt empty. I continued to check my email repeatedly after that hoping for something that never did come.

We are constantly on the lookout for something. We want something better. We strive to find it and when it happens more often than not we are disappointed.

I’m a huge Apple fan so I watched along with thousands of others as they unveiled the new iPhone. I have had the iPhone 5 for about two years and I was excited to see all the new features in the 6 and 6 plus. As I was thinking about ordering it a thought hit me: Do I really need this phone?

Having a cell phone for two years is an eternity. I mean you might as well be carrying around a Zack Morris brick phone. However my phone still works amazingly well. My battery life is great. I have little to no issues with anything on the phone and I thought to myself, why do I need it?

The answer is simple. The iPhone 6 is better than the iPhone 5. I want it because it is better. Will I really see much of a benefit if and when I get the new phone? Probably not. I mean it is certainly faster, has a better camera, etc. but I’m not going to see a big change in my day to day phone use. I can do basically anything I need to do on the phone I currently have.

What is it your looking for that is better than what you have? Perhaps it’s your living situation. If you could get in a new house things would be so much better. If you had those new floors it would be better. If you had whatever you don’t have now it would be better.

Deep down you know this isn’t true.

I know you may think if you aren’t striving to go forward than you are going in reverse. Being in neutral is not where you want to be. I get that.

However, there is a big difference in being content and being lazy.

Go buy new gadgets if you can. Strive to be better.

But make sure you don’t let your happiness depend on what you don’t have because once you get it, you won’t be as happy as you think you will be.

Why Are You in Such A Hurry?

We are all ready for the next step in life, but we are never satisfied with where we are at.

When you start high school, you can’t wait to drive.

When you are about to graduate high school, you can’t wait for the freedom to come in college so you can move out of your parents’ house.

When you’re in college you want to get out so you can make money and won’t have to study.

When you get a job you want to get a promotion so you can work less for more pay.

We are rarely satisfied with where we are at in life but we always look back and miss certain parts of the past.

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The truth is I miss being a broke college kid. There was a fast food restaurant right near campus at UT called Guthrie’s. For a while, Guthrie’s had a deal that was too good to be true, except it was true. It was a deal which made your taste buds and bank account equally excited. It was called the box meal. The box came with chicken fingers, fries, coleslaw, and Texas toast. When you’re a broke college student this is such a clutch meal. Probably the best part was that this cost $3.99. I cannot describe how many times I ate this meal. I’m sure I would be repulsed if I saw the nutritional facts but that was literally the last thing on my mind.

Honestly, the food was good but not great (I mean it was less than four dollars). However when I think about it I’m reminded about everything in college. I can taste the fried chicken in my mouth and I remember being so full but washing the food down with a Coors Light. The first sip of beer went down into my already stuffed stomach and I realized the box of food was too much. I remember laughing with my friends while eating it. I miss those days.

I never thought about this while I was in college. When I was about to graduate I was so ready to be done. I wanted to be out in the real world and I was ready to establish my career. I realize how foolish that was now. I couldn’t see it at the time though. Studying for five minutes took a herculean effort. Now looking back I would give anything to hang out with my friends one night after eating a Guthrie’s box meal. I don’t really miss the food but I miss the contentment. There was no real stress and we had our whole lives ahead of us.

Don’t focus so much on the destination you are trying to get to in life that you miss the journey. Enjoy where you are at in life. The best way to do that is by trusting God. If you seek contentment by striving for the next stage in life you will never be satisfied. If you are discouraged with where you are at remember a raise doesn’t bring happiness. A new job doesn’t bring happiness. Focus on your relationship with God and be thankful for the small things. You will miss eating cheap food one day.

Turn It Off

During a 7 day week I do this for 24 hours. It is a high number for some people and for others it isn’t much at all. How many hours a week do you spend watching TV? You probably feel like you don’t watch much but if you sit down and count the hours it adds up.

I don’t want you to feel bad about watching TV. I watch a ton of TV and I love it. With Netflix and the ability to record anything you want you can watch a great deal of it and have it not control your life because you can watch things when you want to watch them. I also watch sports constantly. This time of year on Saturday and Sunday there is more football on my TV then the TV’s at NFL Network.

Although I love watching it, I have to turn it off sometimes.

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Morgan and I rarely eat out. We make it a point to sit down at our kitchen table and turn everything off and focus on each other when we eat supper every night. There is no background noise. We don’t have our phones near us. We sit and talk. Initially, we never had a discussion about this. Later on when talking about it we both realized it is how both of our parents wanted things when we grew up. When it was time to eat at night you turned the TV off and everyone sat down at the table and you talked to each other.

I’m a prototypical introvert. I love being alone, but I need to spend time communicating with others, especially my wife. It fuels me and helps me talk about things I don’t want to talk about but need to talk about. There is something about being fully engaged with someone in person that trumps texting with that same person. I’m no psychologist, I can’t read body language but taking away distractions, like TV, puts blinders on me so I can center in on conversation.

I’m not telling you to watch less TV. All I am saying is turn it off occasionally. If you normally watch TV while eating supper attempt to turn it off one night and sit down at the table. You will be surprised how much you enjoy it.

Planes, Dreams and Reality

There is nothing worse than working in a career you hate.

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Obviously that is an exaggeration but when you are working at a job you despise it wears you down. You sit on the couch watching Planes, Trains and Automobiles and want to trade places with Steve Martin because you know what he goes through in the movie is nothing compared to the strenuous task of working a job you detest.

My first thought to myself when I think about this is to get defensive. I remind myself I have everything I really could want. I have a beautiful wife. I have a home. I have a car. I have everything I could truly ask for and more. I feel guilty for wanting more but truthfully it is what I want. I am thankful for all of that but deep down there is a burning desire to want more.

In my commute to and from work I go by the airport. It’s cool because the road I travel on goes between runways, so often there are planes taking off and landing right beside me while I’m driving.

Sometimes when I see a plane taking off I wonder where it is going and try to guess from the direction it heads in after takeoff. As I head to the office for another day of mundane work I often wish I was on the road next to me heading 30,000 feet into the sky.

I don’t wish I was going away just to get away. I’m jealous of the people who are traveling to a business meetings they are excited about. Those entrepreneurs who are truly living out their dreams every day. Or maybe those people who are traveling because they have made a lot of money and have the ability to go where they want to go when they want to go.

When I think about those people in the air who are drinking overpriced beer or studying for a presentation they have waited their whole life to give I think about how I can get there. I have read enough about successful people to know that a vast majority of them started the road to success by simply taking a leap of faith.

I had a dream last week that my wife and I were at the beach. We were on an island and we were standing on a cliff overlooking the water as waves were crashing into land drowning out the silence. I wanted to jump off the cliff into the water but there was a reef directly below. I told Morgan I wanted to jump off the cliff but I was afraid of landing on the reef. She calmly looked at me and said, “Just jump over it.” I took her advice and cleared it by a great distance.

Sometimes all we need is someone to tell us to jump. It doesn’t have to be an amazing feat but we have the innate ability to doubt ourselves and forget that we can do whatever we want and we have amazing talents we rarely reveal. I would challenge you today to jump. You know what it is you want to do, so do it. Take a leap of faith.

Being Comfortable Being You

We have all known those people who are different and weird in a good way. They may wear strange clothes, have bizarre music interests, or hate TV. Despite their odd behavior there is something that draws us to these people.

I believe it is because in a world where we are constantly encouraged to follow the trends and conform to society, we deeply long the opposite. We want to be accepted for our weird personalities and interests that we all have.

Last month, Larry Fedora, who is the head football coach at the University of North Carolina made quite a splash being photographed with his daughter on a beach. He had no shirt on and has an incredible six pack.

A few days later Duke’s football coach, David Cutcliffe, and North Carolina State’s coach Dave Doeren, posed with their shirts on and their own six packs of tall boy Budweiser’s and Bud Light’s. You can see all of the pictures here.

Obviously these pictures are funny but I believe there is a great deal of truth to be found in this. I love that Cutcliffe and Doeren fed off the six pack picture from their fellow ACC coach and showed off their own six packs.

I am drawn to people who don’t care about what is popular. They are simply themselves. I sometimes find myself straying for that version of me that I know I am. I’m glad I have people in my life that encourage me to be me and who also display their true selves always.

We all want to be comfortable in our own skin. If you truly are yourself you will be surprised how comfortable you will be.