The Best Life
  • at September 20, 2022
In just 7 weeks my book will start getting into the hands of actual human people.  People are going to read it.  People with opinions and critiques.  As I march closer to that date, I feel all of this anticipatory vulnerability about my book going out into the world. It can be a very squirmy, uncomfortable feeling. Some days I’d like to just crawl in a cave, wake up in a year and skip all the uncomfortable parts.  Man, it makes me appreciate the inner work that so many people do to write, create, dream, stretch, and risk. If I’m honest, nearly every step of the way there have been new layers of vulnerability that made me falter; from submitting my book proposal to the editing and rewriting, to the audio recording, and definitely inviting people to pre-order it, whew!  Take a minute now and think of a book or show that you’re enjoying. Someone put their heart out there for that thing to get created. Every creative piece we enjoy has a story of risk and love behind it. I’m appreciating it all in a new way.  As I contemplate all of this, I realize one important truth:  I’ll take vulnerability over regret any day.  I’ve given up on enough projects in my past to know that I didn’t want the regret of not finishing this time around. And I don’t think that there’s any path forward worth taking that doesn’t bring some sort of tension. So, to all of you authors, artists, speakers, leaders, and creative types–my hat’s off to you; vulnerability is hard! And for anyone who may be reading this today who is considering backing off because the way forward feels to vulnerable, I hope you’ll pause, take a breath and carry on. The world is a better place when we all are willing to bring our special sauce out into the open.
  • at September 5, 2022
This is a picture of my step-father, Howard, just 3 weeks shy of his 80th birthday, waterskiing. Seeing him ski made us all whoop, cheer, and celebrate. Later that night, while working on a jigsaw puzzle and sipping wine, my mother brought us all into giggly fits as she quizzed us on random Montana trivia (how many of you can guess Montana’s state gemstone??) that she found on a postcard. When writing my book on how to restore souls, I was acutely aware of the role of laughter, playfulness, and celebration in reimagined self-care. At several points during the intensely busy times while writing, I was convicted about my own long work hours. I had to remind myself to do fun things like: · Listen to 80’s hits while walking instead of smarty-pants podcasts · Plan game nights with friends · Watch comedies that made me laugh. Left to my own devices, I get way too serious and stressed in the face of deadlines and a packed clinical schedule. For me, levity and laughter really are the best medicine. But…during crunch times, I have to be intentional to get them. I become far too task-focused and intense otherwise. As we move past vacation season, we do well to make sure we have enough levity, fun, and laughter in the midst of the crazy schedules that most families face in the fall. So, ask yourself: · Have I been laughing enough lately? · Am I/Is our family doing enough playful, fun things? · What do I really enjoy that I could plan to do during this busy season? The most soul-restoring self-care is the kind that is woven into our daily lives. Learning to keep lightness and joy in the days and weeks is one of the essential skills!
  • at August 18, 2022
I dearly hope that, at the end of the day, my book has essential integrity with the way I actually live. But man, there is a level of accountability to authoring a book about soul-restoring self-care that continues to challenge me! The central message of my book is that we can learn to practice self-care in the moments, hours, and days or our lives in a way that prevents us getting overwhelmed, fatigued, and burned out. Many of us tend to apply self-care the way our cultural messaging suggests; as occasional, out of the norm efforts to recover from a life that doesn’t work day to day. So, from cover to cover, I’m describing why and how to live better every day. Kind of challenging, no? So, throughout the process, from the initial draft through editing and in the audiobook reading, I found myself asking, “am I living up to all this?” These are just a few moments that got me along the way:
  • I’d be writing about not letting our phones interrupt our focused work times and before having a conscious thought, I’d realize my own phone was in my hand and I was 75% through an article about the world’s tallest dog
  • I’d be drafting a section about shifting attention away from unhelpful thought patterns and catch myself in a 30-minute swirl of thoughts about all the people who may hate my book and slime me on the internet
  • After writing a section about how important connecting with beloveds is to self-care, I caught myself saying “nah, let’s just watch our show” when Dan asked if I wanted to spend some time together
  • I’d have read a section on how important it is not to judge ourselves harshly for the emotions that arise in us and then I’d hear my inner critic berating me for experiencing envy
  • I talk about the importance of soul-restoring rhythms and then blow off my commitment to pause in the middle of my day for prayer
I don’t want to be too hard on myself about it; no one can do all the soul-restoring things all the time! And I’m happy that the book has relevance for me every time I go over it again. One of my endorsers (author Alice Fryling) said about Restore My Soul; “this is not a book to be read and put on the shelf”. And she’s right! Our efforts at soul-restoring self-care need retooling as we meander through different seasons and life situations that require different kinds of effort. We never really arrive! We do well to revisit these concepts frequently. The thought of my book being an ongoing resource for people committed to soul-care and having a rich and fulfilling life brings me great joy! I certainly hope that is what it will be for you.
  • at December 14, 2021

There’s a left-handed toilet in my new office. Never used one? This is what I experience; I’m sitting there—you know, on the toilet, reaching back to flush. My hand reaches back to the right and swipes air because the flushing handle isn’t there, it’s on the left side. But I forget this every time I use it…day after day after day. Surely even left-handed people would be thrown by this, right? (Note the correct, right-handed toilet in the photo☺)

Our lefty toilet is one of a handful of things that we didn’t notice during the build-out of our new office space and never considered asking for. “So, in the bathrooms, we would like to make sure that we have right-handed toilets please.” Yeah, no. We never had that conversation. So…we get what they had left in the warehouse, I suppose. Something I never knew existed and must have saved the owner a few bucks.

I’m grateful that it actually amuses me. It’s like living with a big, porcelain, white elephant gift, only all year long! It could needle at me…remind me of other little annoyances at the office; like the unused, reserved parking spots for the weight loss center (ironic, no?) or the water dispenser that fills my water bottles as if it is squeezing out molasses, eating up precious minutes between my sessions. On a bad day, my blood can boil. But, I’ve tried to consider these things invitations from Jesus to a lighter attitude. As I walk to my car, I’m trying to be intentionally grateful for the things that make my life easy. And when I wait for my water bottle to fill, I pray for my next session. And when I reach for the toilet handle on the wrong side, I remember not to take myself so seriously and I laugh.

What are you tempted to be angry about that could shift to amusement and light-heartedness? The nationwide shortage of workers in stores and restaurants will mean we will all have opportunities to either rage or chuckle as we wait longer for services. The bogged down supply chain will mean that we wrap printed out images of gifts not-yet-arrived and put them under the tree. The Omicron variant may mean that we have to mask for longer, travel safer, and be extremely kind to our beloved medical workers for longer. We may be tempted to let these things eat us up, but perhaps a shift in perspective could help. Can our inconveniences draw us to a contemplation of our shared humanity? Can we wait for each other, encourage and support each other…maybe offer a little humor?

While writing this, I’ve realized that for a man who stands in front of the toilet in my office, the handle is on the right side when he goes to flush. So, from a masculine perspective, my left-handed toilet is actually a right-handed toilet. **Mind blown** Perhaps many of the small and not-so-small irritants in our lives have a whole different meaning to someone else.

For now, I say, let’s lighten up on the small stuff. It’s way too intense out there.

  • at September 23, 2021

I love this phrase and I love this book. Victoria LaBalme has written a book that helps the reader create space for their own discovery of purpose and unique direction. It is a visual wonder; each section engages the right and left brain to help the reader sit in spaces of confusion, tension, discernment, and yes, risk!  The design of each page stirs and invites the reader into out-of-the-box thinking and bolder consideration that mere words would do alone.

Risk Forward has become a contemplative tool for me. The book does not have to be read/experienced in order, so, on a day I’m using the book, I’ll refer to the “circle of contents” and choose a section that pulls at me. Then I go to it and engage it slowly, trying to notice what is coming up for me. That’s the power of this book. During this season of trying to refine my own direction with writing and other projects, Risk Forward has been a welcome companion and guide, helping me risk forward in more way than one.

Most recently, I took a bold, risky step forward by starting a group for four exceptionally talented women. Every element of doing this felt like a risk forward; committing the time, praying for what to do with the group, inviting each person, and even deciding what to make for lunch during our first meeting! But…using Risk Forward helped me realize that developing leaders was essential for me and currently missing in my life. The messages in the book helped me challenge the personal blocks that crept up as I considered putting myself out there as a leader.

My question to you is, is there a risk out there that you’ve been afraid to take? Or a step that you’ve talked yourself out of? Or a dream that you’ve avoided developing? The back of the book says, “some people in life know exactly what they want to achieve. Risk Forward is for the rest of us.”  I hope you’ll benefit from it as much as I have.

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