Run At Your Our Pace

Dear Self,

When will you really start listening to me? You have more inside of you than you ever acknowledge or embrace! I hope today showed you a valuable life lesson — focus more on running YOUR best race at your own pace. Yes, you used to be able to run 4 to 5 miles everyday but that was 10 years ago when you were in high competition shape. You let life, work, and other things like metabolism and stress bring you to this point. (Ladies and gentleman, it is true…. 2 miles is now a STRUGGLE for this girl. She is not in the competitive or even physical shape that she used to be. In her mind, she thinks that she can get back to that point and knows that she can. However, one thing that she stumbles through sometimes is inconsistency and poor prioritization of self care. If she can finally pass that self-imposed hurdle then she will reach this goal. So far, she has been doing great).

When you first set out in your mind to run 3 miles without stopping today, I said “it’s about time that you get back at it.” But, I was nervous for you because this is not the first time you made this goal in the last year. You’ve started before with a image of ten years ago in your mind. Then, the burn in those legs starts about 0.5 miles in and you hear those voices of doubt telling you to just walk for a few seconds before getting back at it.

There was something different about today. You threw your headphones on and hit the road just as you did in the past. But this time, you said “even if I have to jog at the slowest pace of life, I will not stop” until this Nike Running App say “you have reached your goal.” I know that was a hard decision because you wondered how many people walking and running would wonder why you were running as fast as you could just as well speed walk. I saw you wondering who was looking at you and running past you but you stuck to the game plan. Although you were fighting the thoughts, I know you were worried that someone you know would see you struggling along with your little steps as you ran along the beach.

Oddly enough, with each step something physical and mental re-energized within you. You were finding yourself again because you finally embraced your strength, momentary weakness, and personal pace. What I loved about you today is that you were ready to embrace where you are today! I’ve been trying to tell you this for a while now — where you start is not where you will end. Instead of spending so much time trying to figure out the end (which is impossible to know with certainty), why don’t you continue doing what you did today — focus on learning to embrace the process!

Today, you zoned in, you took a first step (for the likely the 100th time) and you ran slowly, very slowly, at times even embarrassingly slowly. HOWEVER, you completed your goal! You ran 3 miles without stopping once and managed to do it with a huge smile on your face and in your heart. Tomorrow, you will be strong enough to pick up the pace. Then, a year from now you will be even stronger than that. You will never get to your ultimate goal if you don’t complete the process. You will find new determination to never quit once you fully understand that repeated small successes will someday equal big wins.

Life is a race, but you already know this. Don’t spend too much time trying to overanalyze the run. Just run at whatever speed you can push yourself toward today. Some days will be a series of sprints while others will feel like a long endurance training session. The next steps for you are to continue to listen to your life. Learn when you are supposed to sprint and when it is time to regroup and slow things down. Confidently stay in your own lane and focus on your own form and breathing. Your race was designed for YOU. No one else can run it and you cannot run someone else’s journey. Looking to the left and right, worrying about who is passing you and who might catch up are only distractions.

Embrace your own journey. Feel the burn and adjust; don’t feel the burn and quit. You were never meant to run someone else’s race. You were meant to master your own. As the Nike Running App’s Coach Bennett said, “finishing my best doesn’t have to mean finishing first.”

#dearself is a series of blog posts written to my past, present, or future self. To follow the #dearself series, join our email list or follow The Life Me Blog on Facebook and Twitter @thelifemeblog 

The Plan: My 2016 Resolutions

I am back! Or am I? The last two+ months have been oddly hectic– peppered with great highs, positive personal realizations, wonderful whirlwinds, and twisted tests of my personal stamina. I am pleased to report that — for the most part — I am conquering the tests of life. I am very proud of the growth I see in my responses to life’s ups and downs.

While there have been many wonderful memories this year, there are definitely a few areas I have neglected in the midst of grinding away at work– this blog, fitness and exercise, consistent sleep, social gatherings, building my other dreams, and reading. Honestly, these areas have been inconsistent in my life quite into 2014 too.

Well enough is enough, this post is about developing the plan that will hopefully help to rearrange my priorities so that I might find deeper fulfillment in my one life to live. After my admissions of guilt, you will find my plan and goals for 2016.

Today is about “I” statements. It is time to look in the mirror and figure out what role the person in the mirror [me] has played in my happiness and progress in life. The hopeful outcome is for me [and my reflection/inner self] to (1) figure out how to accept the contribution(s) I have made to where my life is (both the good and not-so-good) and (2) to figure out how to move forward toward living the fullest life possible. Usually I am not one for making yearly resolutions. However, this year I am not only going to make them, but I am also going to make them public so YOU can be my accountable partner. This mean it’s your fault if I don’t succeed, right?

 It is time to look in the mirror and figure out what role the person in the mirror plays in your happiness and progress in life.

Lofty would describe the plans I have in my head. I dream… I plan… I start… Some things I finish and for others I don’t even come close to the finish line. Although I know better, I still fall into the mental trap(s) that cause me to be paralyzed with inaction, to finger point, and to poorly prioritize. As I get older it seems more things require my time. Or, maybe it is more like I am not filtering and prioritizing efficiently. Life happens, work happens, feelings happen, I happen, the cat happens, and even the dog happens. At times, everything seems to happen besides what I personally would like to focus on in the moment.

Surrendering

Overall, I have had such a blessed life and a blessed year. Yet, there are a few areas that I would like to either better or to create. The first step on the road to recovery is admission (surrender), right? Well, here goes: This year, I had the problem of drinking subconscious excuse juice mixed with rationalization. Acceptance = My life is the way it is — good or bad — because (1) I allow it to be this way or (2) I create/d the circumstances that produce/d this life.

In life we blame other people and things for the outcome of our lives. Scapegoating and projecting our issues onto other people and things is the easier thing to do. We can’t chose the cards we are dealt, but we can chose (1) whether we want to continue to play the game and (2) what we want do with each card. I alone have the power to be happy or miserable about my cards.

Using a past post as inspiration, I am surrendering to the following:

  • I surrender my weaknesses and concerns over to God.
  • I surrender to the fact that God has given me the cards I have right now and will/can bring the necessary cards into my lives when the time is right. For now, I must learn to utilize the cards I have in my hands.
  • I accept that change will only happen when I get sick and tired of hearing my own excuses and rationalizations.
  • I surrender the defense mechanisms that cause me to anxiously avoid the idea that I played a part in those less than desirable areas of my life.
  • I surrender being upset about the things I cannot control.

Mental Adjustments

It is necessary to consider the honest reasons that we didn’t accomplish some of our 2015 personal goals. Here are some things I have learned during my reflection about progress, growth, and feeling lost in a whirlwind of deadlines and work/life expectations:

  • Change will happen when I get sick of hearing my own excuses.
  • Change will happen when I realize I’ve been talking about it for so long, yet have no real results to show for it.
  • Growth will happen when I am willing to slow down, readjust, and go at my own life pace.
  • Growth will happen when I don’t get frustrated when I don’t see immediate results.

Pre-Plan:

If you are interested in joining me, comment below, comment on Facebook, or send me an email in the “Ask Me” section

  1. Examine Reasons for Failure — In doing some more research about why people don’t accomplish goals and resolutions, some of the common factors were procrastination, disorganization, and fear. I am partly guilty of two of the latter reasons, maybe even three. Here are some of my additional my reasons:
    • I could have used my time more efficiently.
    • I did not prioritize healthy lifestyles choices.
    • I thought about worse case scenarios too much.
    • I allowed fear to dominate my thinking at times.
    • I was paralyzed by frustration at times.
    • I worried too much about what people might think about me or my decisions.
    • I kept to myself too much and became consumed with work and my own life.
  2. Health Check — Before we make this next push toward new goals, make sure that you are physically healthy. Any overdue doctor’s appointments? Book those appointments.
  3. Practice — Start practicing saying “no.” Sometimes it is just as important to say “no” as it is to say “yes” because sticking to goals takes sacrifice and discipline. We will have to prioritize our goals and schedule, so it is inevitable that will have to say “no” to things that take us away from our focus(es).
  4. Commit — Prepare to commit. That means saying “yes” despite fear, challenges, and pain. “Feel the fear and do it anyway.”
  5. Anticipate Challenges — Feeling tired is natural which means it happens to everyone. Sometimes the only way to push through doing something when we are tired will be to do it anyway. I know, it sucks…
  6. Get Rid of Guilt — Never regret putting your health, goals, or plans first especially if those plans are what’s best for you.
  7. Let It Go — We can no longer focus on the past as justification for why we cannot accomplish more.
  8. Plan — Create a plan and make check-in time tables.
  9. Partner Up — Find accountability measures if necessary.
  10. Forgive yourself for the mistakes you have made.

The Plan: 2016 Goals 

Step 1: State the plan — Write it out, don’t just keep it in your head. Make it public to add more incentive!

Here is my plan:

  1. Pray/Mediate More
  2. Read More
  3. Be More Fearless
  4. Be More Organized
  5. Travel More
  6. Maintain and Cultivate More Quality Relationships
  7. Write More
  8. Give More
  9. Regain Past Levels of Physical Fitness
  10. Dream Bigger

Step 2: Create accountability measures — Using people, timers, calendar remainders, etc. Make sure you have a plan to remember your goals! Trust me, life will get hectic and you will lose track of time. So far, I have a fitness fanatic friend texting me every week to ask me about my fitness progress. For the other goals, I am going to use you, the readers, as my accountability. Feel free to ask me how I am doing from time to time and I will give you an honest answer. In addition, I will be writing a monthly post check-in updating you on my progress!

For YOU: Tell me your goals/plan and I will check in with you to make sure you are staying on track! Let’s help each other! If there are multiple people with the same plan/goal, we will help support each other via The Life Me Blog’s Facebook page.

Conclusion

Though it looks like nothing more than a simple list, the plan is far from complex. It requires patience, passion, discipline, time management, consistency and stamina. I accept that there will be no one to blame in December 2016 if I haven’t accomplished these goals. That is why this year is about “I” statements. How am I taking control of the moments in my life? How I am taking control of my success and growth? I don’t know about you but I am ready to crush these goals!

What are you going to choose to take control of this year? What’s your 2016 plan? Please share below, even if only to put your plan out in the universe so the accountability gods can come and find you when you fall of the wagon.

Let’s do this!

Comment below or chat with me!

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Having Faith in Yourself.

“Faith is the bird that feels the light even when the dawn is still dark.”

As defined, faith is a strong belief in someone or something. That concepts seems very vague, somewhat intangible, and also requires a significant level of trust. If I trust a person or object, I believe in their/its ability to be who or what I know them to be. Subsequently, I have faith in them or it. For example, I trust that the ladder will support me as I climb to reach the top shelf because I believe it was designed correctly. Therefore, I can say I have faith in the ladder. If a person has proven to be trustworthy in their character and actions over time, you might say you have faith that they will be there for you when you need them.

In general it is easy to have faith in other people or objects. But what about having faith in ourselves? What makes it so difficult to believe in our own ability as confidently as we believe in others’ abilities? Is it because we cannot see ourselves as clearly as we can see others? Or, is it because our defense mechanisms and doubts blur our ability to see all the great qualities that exist within us? In my opinion, it is probably the latter. It is great to have faith in other people, but it should not outweigh the faith we have in our own capabilities.

Over the past two years, I have wondered even more about what I would do if I had no fears or doubts. I started praying that God would (1) allow me to continue to discover everything I am supposed to accomplish in this lifetime and (2) to have the patience, willingness, and courage to complete it. After a while, it was no longer a new prayer. My confidence to explore my interests increased, yet I was still doubtful and fearful. I knew some of my interests and goals were/are destined and ordained, but I was still hesitant to move forward without more reassurance from God.

Me: “God, I just want to know that you will be with me if I journey down this path. I know that if you destined this path for me then everything will ultimately work out in my best interest. I trust you God.”

God: “Yes, this is path I ordained for you. I am with you and will always be with you”

Me: “Thank you God, but I just need to know that you will be there for me…”

Repeat this dialogue every day about the same goals and paths and that’s how ridiculous I sounded asking the same questions over and over again. Unfortunately, having repeated reassurance didn’t result in me running full steam ahead down the path. Something was wrong and it wasn’t God.

I started to recognize a contradiction in the overall situation. I felt God signalling, encouraging, and supporting me to move down certain paths, yet I still kept asking for sign after sign that I would be successful. In some way I was looking for confirmation that my strengths and abilities were enough to protect me from failure — very unrealistic. If I had faith in God, then why would I doubt him so much? Why did I need to keep asking for reassurance? I finally realized that the problem was tangled somewhere within my fears, doubts, and insecurities. The problem wasn’t God; the problem was me.

With this realization I started praying instead for God to help me believe everything he already believed about me. He made me strong and intelligent (I believe), so I just needed to have faith that he knew what he was doing when he created me. I was not a fluke creation, but rather a destined life on earth. Ultimately, the goal now was for me to learn to believe the greatness he created in me and still sees in me.

Think of it like a parent-child, teacher-student, or coach-athlete dynamic:

Parent: “You are so capable, strong, and loved. I believe in you and I want you to reach for the stars. Just know that I will always have your back every step of the way. You will never be alone because I support you.”

Child: “I know. I know. But, I am still scared and afraid that things will not work out. I know you love me and believe in me, but I just can’t do it.”

Parent: “Trust me! You CAN do it and I am in your corner! Haven’t I always been there for you? Listen, I am very proud of you and I will continue to be proud of you even if you fail.”

Child: “Yes, you have always been there for me, but I don’t know what will happen if I fail. I don’t think I have enough in me to do this. I love you too, but I just can do it.”

I don’t know about you, but to me that is a sad dialogue. If I am ever having that conversation with my future children, I will wonder why my inspiration and encouragement doesn’t seem to garner even a little bit of faith that his/her goal is worth trying. I will wonder if my child trust that I will be there to catch them if they fall.

Coach:“You have so much talent and ability. If you are committed to the training, you will go very far. You can do it.”

(Athlete goes through weeks of training, is committed to the process, and begins seeing improvement in practice. )

Fast forward to game day

Coach: “You ready? Let’s do this! You are prepared. Now all you have to do is execute what we practiced, Go get ’em!”

(Athlete gets out there, observes the competition, and begins to doubt him/herself and the coach’s words).)

Fast forward to after the performance/match…

Coach: “What in the hell happened out there? You are better than that performance today.”

Athlete: I felt (insert lame injury or excuse here)… and when the referee (insert lame scapegoat excuse here) it threw me off!

(Or maybe the athlete will be more reflective and say…) “I felt great today coach. I don’t know what happened.”

Well, I will tell you what happen dear athlete: Doubt made you question you preparedness. You questioned whether your coach was just pumping you up because that’s his/her job and you froze! You didn’t have faith in yourself, your abilities, or your coaches words.

A few weeks ago I reached out to an old friend to touch base about a new project I am working on. For the most part I was super excited and confident that I was going to do a great job on this project, but of course my insecurities, doubts, and fears needed confirmation that my strengths were indeed strong enough to outweigh my weaknesses. To make a long story short, after chatting with this person for a while, I realized that although they had many great suggestions and resources to offer me none of the information outweigh the preparation and lessons I learned along the journey.

In essence, in that moment I realized that everything I went through — both the good and bad — had prepared me for exactly where I was/am. I didn’t need reassurance or more resources, what I really needed was to have faith that (1) God would not give me this path if he/she/it (whatever you what to think God is) knew I was not prepared for it and (2) that even if I hadn’t learned the lessons along the journey (as I was supposed to) that God would be there to support me when I fall. Therefore, success seemed to lie in whether I not only had faith in myself but also in his plan for me.

I have many weaknesses, but the good news is that I have many, many more strengths. Most of what we need to take those first steps toward our scariest goals are already inside of us; it is just a matter of whether we start believing the idea that (1) we are strong and (2) that God and the universe — already knowing our weaknesses — still thinks we have enough strength inside of us to positively impact the world around us. Maybe in the end embracing our weaknesses as much as we embrace our strengths is what makes us unstoppable.

Photo Credit: Zhao

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Shark Attack

Oh my goodness!

Does anyone know Mick Fanning’s blood type? Because his escape from that shark attack at the J-Bay Surf League Championship competition the other day was either pure miracle or he is certified half-human and half-beast! What a moment! Needless to say, for Mick’s sake, I am happy he survived; however, for the sake of everyone watching live, I am happy that we did not have to witness a tragedy.

After watching this near-death encounter, I started lecturing surfers everywhere… in my head of course. “If you know there are sharks in the ocean, why go out into the deep blue sea to dangle your little feet out there as bait? Is riding a wave really worth your life? Did the World Surf League even check to see if there were sharks in those waters? I would sue! This is exactly why I don’t go messing with sharks! If there is no boat to shield me from shark snack time gone wrong, then I am all set right here on the shore. Why play with danger? If you are silly enough to go out there, then you…”

Yes, for a split second I almost ignorantly suggested that someone deserved to get a limb chomped off because they were adventurous enough to live out a dream. Well, after doing my research I discovered that there is only a 1 in 4,000,000 chance of being killed by a shark. Mick was living his life and chasing his dream in the face of a low probability fear. Yet, there I was cowardly lecturing all surfers when I should have been asking myself about the low probability fears I have yet to conquer in my own life. At that point, I decided that I could probably learn a thing or two from Mr. Mick Fanning.

First off, Mick survived by only doing one thing correctly. The media headlines say, Mick Fanning “Battles Shark” and “Bravely Fights Off” attack. From the looks of it, Mick was terrified and did what any of us would do– scream, kick, and swim away for dear life! Overall, he did exactly what the surviving-a-shark-attack experts say NOT to do. He panicked. He turned his back to it. He tried to out swim it. The only thing that he did correctly was to hit the shark in an attempt to scare it away!  This is a great lesson because this means that (1) we don’t have to be perfect in order to win and (2) we don’t have to look perfect (or pretend to look perfect) while fighting the sharks of life. It is unrealistic to think that we will not break a sweat in the midst of a challenging battle. We are human and great human warriors sweat too. If you don’t believe me, then watch the movie 300.

Early on in life, I thought that defeating a challenge meant destroying it completely. If I was too weak to stand there, fight, and destroy it like David did Goliath, I would be disappointed with myself up for seeming weak. On the other hand, if I destroyed the challenge, but did it with a scary-cat panicked demeanor, I would also downplay the accomplishment. Mick teaches us that escaping and surviving doesn’t always need to be pretty and heroic; it just needs to be practical. In life there are sharks– plenty of them– and I am sure that (for the most part) in the end it doesn’t matter how we look when we are fighting them off. We just need to get the heck out of danger and keep living! Survival is not always pretty, perfect, and heroic; sometimes it is panicked and hectic, and that’s OK.

Secondly, thank God for adrenaline! Seriously. I don’t think that anyone would have anticipated this shark attack at the J-Bay Competition, but it happened unexpectedly anyway. When I think about life, I see similar situations happening to people all time. You are sitting there enjoying life, living a dream, accomplishing a goal, working hard to win, and then BOOM! A shark, or in our case, people and circumstances come to take a bite out of that body! Usually, this concept discourages me: I am on a mission to do good and then sharks try to destroy me! It is even more devastating when the human shark monsters attack you intentionally. What I admire most about Mick is that he fought back even though he was terrified! I can imagine that he saw his life flash right before his eyes. Ultimately, Mick decided that survival was more likely if he kept moving! Hitting the shark with force gave him enough time to get away– and that was all he needed. In the end it worked and he survived.

What is wrong with just “dodging the bullet?” What is wrong with simply escaping the shark attack? Surviving is just as courageous! At least you are alive to tell your story! Are there life-sharks seemingly appearing out of nowhere ready to eat you alive? Are you dealing with the unexpected and feel like it might be the end of you? Well, as in the case of Mick Fanning, KEEP MOVING; and if you are frightened, panicked, and everything in between, still keep moving! Remember, escaping and surviving doesn’t always need to be pretty and heroic, it just needs to be practical. You just might survive. Correction: You will survive!

Whatever you do, just don’t let the sharks take you under!

Photo Credit: CNN News courtesy of WSL

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Let it Go.

Don’t hold on to things or thoughts that are clearly making you sink. How silly is it that we feel ourselves sinking but refuse to release the weight pulling us down. What’s the worse that can happen – you float? Isn’t it at least better to float than drown? Let it go. No really, let it go.

Prepare for Success

One thing that I am always trying to get my students to realize is that they should take advantage of the time they presently have in order to work on building/exercising their skills in their own particular areas of weakness. Of course, getting high school students to see the bigger picture of the seemingly mind-numbing routine of the educational system can be at times a daunting and tiring task. I aim to get them to see that there will come a day when their career(s) or life in general will call upon these skills to perform. Life is lived skill upon skill, lesson upon lesson. However, as most teachers in any field, it is easy to forget all the times in both high school and college when I myself could have used my time more wisely to study harder and learn more; but of course, I preach to them nonetheless… a privilege of adulthood. *wink*

There is a valuable lesson to be learned in all of this for both the youth and adults: Use the time that you have in the present to prepare yourself to respond to the demands and dreams of tomorrow. It might be reading a book to keep your mind sharp for ideas of tomorrow; becoming healthier to be able to endure tomorrow’s journey; resting up today for the times when you might be working extremely hard on a goal; or, saving money for a rainy day or that dream vacation.

We, the “big people,” also need to be aware of the skills/areas in which we are weaker (in the hopes that if we put in the right effort those areas will improve over time). For some of us adults, those area may even be emotional. Maybe we need to become more aware of how our insecurities, poor communication skills, emotional issues, and past disappointments still linger around so that we are prepared to love and nurture those around us (and those that will come into our lives). Whatever the area, pay more attention to who you are, how you became that way, and also how you might change for the better, if necessary. Use your life’s time wisely to benefit your life (and subsequently the lives of those connected to you) and chase your dreams while you have the time. We are purposed to find success in life but we spend too much time doubting our weaknesses and waiting for life to change; maybe it’s time we strengthen our own weakness and changed our own life.And as they say, “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again”… but figure out why before you go acting like a fool by doing the same thing over and over again but expecting different results. As for me, I will keep trying to practice what I preach.

What are some things you do to grow and become a stronger person (mentally, emotionally, physically)?

Comment below, if you have time of course.

You Matter.

Sometimes we become overly concerned with wondering if we matter to other people. Do I matter? Does anyone care about me or what I do? Am I insignificant in the grand scheme of life? We can become so preoccupied with our level of significance to others that we neglect assessing our own value as worth much.

I had to remind myself that I matter to me and am important to my own story. If I neglect the importance of my own role in my own life story how can I ever expect the story to be complete? Often times, we wonder why our lives don’t feel complete; maybe it has something to do with making how much we matter to other people more important than how much we matter to ourselves. Stop looking outside of yourself for the assessment of your value. Once YOU start valuing yourself, you will see that your life feels more complete. And, you will start to pursue happiness and success more for you than for the wavering validation of others. How will you ever be complete without YOU in the equation? You are the entire equation.  You matter.

Getting Out of The Box: How I Get Over the Fear

“Step outside of the box.”

“Think outside the box.”

“Break outside the box.”

This little box must be made of some extremely durable substance because the entire world is either living it or trying to get out of it! No, seriously. I am not joking. I cannot tell you how many times I have heard these expressions about this box. Darn it, I have even said them many times. The funny thing is that it is always “the box” not “your” box, but I digress. It is very true that I need to “step out of the box” some more but I was wondering, can I bring the box with me? I mean the box has done so much for me in my life; its walls acted as a sturdy pillar as I tried to walk before I could crawl and it protected me from the elements (society) when I was not strong enough to brave it. Thanks to the box, I was able to grow and develop the skills I needed to survive once outside the box.

Some of our boxes are different sizes because some of us need more room to grow into the “element” fighting beast that we need to be. Then the time comes when the box has given us all that it can, and at that time and not a minute sooner, we should leave the box. Time is everything and leaving the box too soon might mean we are under-developed and too weak to sustain ourselves outside the box. See, that’s why I want to bring the box with me!

Don’t get me wrong, I believe we need to get our booties out of that box. However, that can be a scary task. Sometimes I am afraid to leave the box because I question whether I am ready to tackle the dream before me. Sometimes the fear is in wondering if leaving the box means that I won’t have anything to fall back on. So, I decided to think of it this way: take everything I need out the box, place the contents in an air tight container, step out of the box, and then say goodbye to the box. Genius! This way I figure that I am solving the problem of living as an oversize giant in a tiny box and the problem of worrying that I have the essential tools I need along the journey. With the goodies that make me strong and competent safely tucked away, I may pull them out whenever I feel I need to rest, regroup, and remind myself that I have already been nurtured to accomplish the task ahead. I don’t know about you, but envisioning that I can take everything with me that “made me” makes getting out the box less intimidating. Maybe it is all a placebo, but whatever, it is working and I am stepping outside of the box… and that’s all that matters.