NaBloPoMo

You have value. You have something to offer.

When Life and the World tell you something about yourself enough times, it becomes very difficult not to believe it. You can capitulate to feelings of failure or inferiority, you can fold, or you can fight back in whatever way you can. This month, NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) was my weapon. I proved to myself that I still have the ability to set a goal and reach it.

If Life or the World are telling you that you are not worthy, that you have nothing to offer, fight that voice. You have value. You have something to offer. There are many wonderful days ahead. You just have to be here to meet them.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

 

Christmas Cheer

You are welcome.

We have passed Thanksgiving. Thus, we have officially entered the Christmas music season. There is a radio station dedicated to these beautiful pieces of music and when the universe is feeling especially kind it bestows upon my ears the glorious 80’s synth classic below. You are welcome. Enjoy!

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Neighbors

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you.

I feel powerless over so much in the world.

People kill each other. People kill themselves. People die of disease, of starvation. People get lost. People get taken. There is so much of the world that I am powerless to touch, or to help, or to heal. The interconnectedness of the world places many of the world’s ills in my view and there is nothing that I can do about most of it. And sometimes that powerlessness paralyzes me.

Do you ever feel powerless?

Good people take care of the people around them. I want to be a good person. But in the face of such overwhelming despair, how do I accomplish that? I can’t reach half-way across the globe and change the state of the Middle-East or solve world hunger.

But what if that is not really my responsibility. In my mind, I have a concept that would work spectacularly well if implemented properly and that would expand exponentially. What if I am only responsible for helping the people that I come in contact with? What if I just focused each day on helping the people I encounter? Just them. What if I stopped agonizing over the people on the other side of the world and only focused on the cashier at Walmart, or the guy walking his dog, or the person sitting next to me at the library?

I used to think of power as a single force that was binary in nature. Either you possess it or you don’t. Now I think that power is a snowflake in a blizzard or a droplet in the ocean or ants in a colony. It is thousands of small and simple things all pushing in the same direction toward the same goal.

Imagine if everyone did that. What if everyone focused every day on lifting the people around them? Imagine the love that would pour over the earth as that tidal wave of service moved from person to person across the globe.

That is the power that I want to have. That is the power that I want to be a part of even if I am only one snowflake or one droplet because that power will change the world.

I don’t care if you are religious or not. I don’t care if you love God or hate Him or think He’s made up or you just don’t know or care. If you are a good person, then you want to take care of the people around you. So during this season when some of us will be celebrating Christ, and some Christmas, and some other Holy Days, and some just enjoying family, make an extra effort to lift your neighbor. They are not hard to find, they are all around you.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

NOTE: If you need some ideas on ways to serve, go to Light the World (Mormon.org). Full disclosure this link will take you to a religious website, but it also has really good ideas for nice things that you can do to be good to others, so if you don’t like the religious stuff on there, ignore it and just steal the good ideas. 😉

Fearless

What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear?

Little children are the best teachers in the world. They don’t know rules. I’m not saying that they don’t know what the rules are, I’m saying they don’t know that rules are even a thing. So they just do stuff. They do what they want whenever they want. And it is this näive hedonism that I want to talk about today.

There are hard and fast rules in the world. There are. I didn’t make them up, but you have to live by them or face the consequences. Rules like never put something on the floor for a pregnant woman to pick up, and only wear double denim when you want to look amazing. Just kidding. But really there are rules. Learning them is really important. I’m not going to list them all here, that’s not really my point here. There are also a ton of rules that people just made up, and life seems to be the intersect of trying to abide by the real ones and ferret out and ignore the fake ones.

This is where children are the best teachers. They push other children down out of anger or greed and we tell them no. We teach them the rules that you don’t hurt others because they make you angry and that you don’t hurt others because they have something you want. We teach them to avoid what is wrong, but they teach us about embracing what is right.

They teach us about unconditional love, about forgiveness, about trying new things without fear or embarrassment or shame. What would my life be like if I didn’t make any of my decisions out of fear? What would your life be like?

Maybe we should find out.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Expanding the Circle

There are some life experiences that come upon you without warning

I have my circle. I have always aimed to keep it’s circumference small. It doesn’t really extend that far and I am ashamed to say that for much of my life I have not been interested in expanding it. I have my family and my friends and that is it.

There are some life experiences that come upon you without warning and give you the opportunity to expand your circle out and enhance your ability to empathize with others, or shrink your circle down to the point where pretty much the only person inside of it is you.

The first choice makes your life more complicated but more fulfilling. The second simplifies things tremendously but it stunts your growth.

My family went to a close friend’s house this year for Thanksgiving with her family. She is amazing so she welcomed in several other people to celebrate the Holiday as well. She is always looking for ways to expand her circle and others circles by extension. She is wise. I was nervous, she was not, but we ended up having a great time, and a far better time than we would have had with fewer people.

Never acquiesce to the impulse to shrink, to restrict your circle, to carve out a place for yourself and put up walls to keep others out. If you do, you may end up keeping out the very people you need most.

Light the Darkness,

Dana Nevels

The Audit

I performed an informal audit of my life this weekend.

I performed an informal audit of my life this weekend.

Some people do this just before January 1st.

I do it just before Thanksgiving as a gesture of good faith that my body will survive the avalanche of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins that I will subject it to.

Here is what I discovered during my audit: If everything that I care about was assigned a value according to my “Time Spent Voluntarily” with or doing that thing, Facebook might be at the top of the list. I mean, I would make a chart, but that might be embarrassing . . . okay, you win. See my Life Audit Chart of Shame below:

capture

 

Suffice it to say, I have cut my Facebook usage down to zero for the foreseeable future.

But it made me think about what an incredibly accurate unit of measurement “Time Spent Voluntarily” is. If you value something, you spend time doing it. If you value someone, you spend time with that person. You don’t have to be forced or coerced or threatened, you engage voluntarily because you want to.

Time is also an unflinchingly honest measure. Time doesn’t lie. If you are an artist, and you consistently spend exactly 0% of your available time drawing or painting or sculpting, then your art probably is not really of value to you. If you value your family more than you value fishing, and you regularly spend twice as much time alone in a kayak with a fishing rod than you do at home, you may need to reassess which you really value more.

There are obviously things that are more or less out of our control like working hours (although there is something to be said for spending those hours doing something that you value too) and sleep hours (for me those are sacrosanct). But for the rest of our lives, how we spend our time says everything.

Sometimes we just get into our routine, and we lose track of where our available time is going. We think we are putting it into the things that we value most, but our timecard tells another story. If that is you, consider doing a life audit of your own. Watch where your available time goes for a day or a week and assess if you are putting those free hours toward the things that you value most.

Please do not believe that I am saying that you should never spend time on things you like (fishing is awesome as is art), I am actually proposing the opposite. Spend your free time doing things and being with the people you love. Be intentional about how you spend your time and you will never regret it.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels

Enough

When you do your best, it is enough.

I have learned something about love from being a parent. Not from my love for my children, but from their love for me. I feel like everyone is born with a heart the size of the universe and life does its level best to shrink it down small enough to fit inside your chest. Then we spend the rest of our lives trying to make it grow back again.

But the love of a child is so earnest, so pure. You don’t have to do much to retain it or earn it. When you do your best, it is enough.

If you are a parent or a human you inevitably have times when you feel like you are not worthy because you are flawed. But you are worthy. You are enough. Just you. Just as you are. Do you have room to improve? Yes. Are there things about you that can be better? You bet. Are you a work in progress? We all are.

Being enough is not failure. Enough can take you past perfectionism. Enough can ease you through self-doubt. Enough can bring you to the point where you can start to like yourself again. Enough can carry you safely through the darkest of nights into the sunlight beyond. Please do not feel ashamed of just being enough. It is all you ever need to be.

Light The Darkness,

Dana Nevels