No Risk = No Reward

No Risk No Reward 2

Children are fearless and their tenacity has no boundaries. It’s wonderful and exciting to watch a child get an idea for something and because they have absolutely no fear and no worries about rejection they go for any and everything. I wonder at what age we lose that fearless, tenacious spirit. Adults are far less likely to try new things, unlike children, because all of the fear seeps in. They wonder, what if I get hurt? What if it doesn’t work? What if someone else does this better than me? What if no one gets it? What if no one accepts it? Children miraculously don’t worry about such things. They just go for it! If it fails they simply get back up and try again as if the failure never happened to begin with. Why do we lose that as we get older?

In my more recent journey of becoming more spiritually grounded I knew that one of the things that I needed to work on within myself and that needed to be changed was my many different degrees of fear. I have a lot of defense mechanisms that have become sort of a crutch for me. One particularly bad one that I’ve been trying to break is one where I play out all of the worst case scenarios in my head when thinking about attempting something new or, in my case as a writer, submitting something. And while it is good to be realistic about the good and bad of something so that you can be prepared for either outcome, in my case dwelling on the possible negative outcomes have somehow held me back from even attempting things at all. It wasn’t intentional but I would find ways to talk myself out of doing something or submitting something because I had convinced myself that it was never going to be accepted anyway so why bother.

I have no idea when it happened? When I began to think about all of what made me afraid of going after the dreams I have instead of the wonderful things that can come from achieving them. I wasn’t always so fearful and I used to like taking risks but perhaps my risks were met with too many rejections and not enough rewards. But that’s life isn’t it. Looking back on all of the “failures” I have had in attempting my dreams I can ascertain the many lessons that came out of them. However, I am also realizing that some of the more recent “failures” I have had happened, not because of the risks that didn’t pan out, but rather because of the risks that I was too afraid to take to begin with.

A lot of times we don’t try new things because we can’t predict the outcome. We don’t want to fail so we think that it’s better to never actually try. Somehow it is more appealing to not put ourselves out there because then it means that we can’t get hurt, our ideas can’t get rejected, and no one can tell us that what we’ve poured our hearts into is somehow not good enough. However, that also means that our ideas don’t get heard at all and that what we have effectively poured our hearts into just sits around never being seen by anyone. If we never leave the place that feels comfortable for us, the place that’s safe for us then we miss out on so many things and we will never truly succeed. At that point we would simply be living in our fears instead of living up to our dreams. So, while our comfort zones may make us feel protected we can’t stay there if expect to get to where it is we are destined to end up.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Plant Seeds, Water Dreams, and Persist Until Success Blooms

 

planting the Seeds of Dreams 2I’ve been thinking a lot about the time limits we impose upon ourselves when it comes to getting the things we want done. For a planner like me who had her life plans mapped out from the time I was ten years old it is extremely disheartening when things get thrown so far off course that you don’t even recognize the road you’re on anymore. A childhood friend of mine read my blog post the other day about going back to the beginning of a dream and provided some much needed words of encouragement that I needed to hear. He reminded me that just because I have not yet accomplished the things that I thought I would have by now that it doesn’t mean that I won’t. He reminded me that a lot of times the success comes later on in life and he let me know that he still believed in me as he always had since the 8th grade poem that a group of us wrote together.

True enough, my plans for making an established career as a writer have not worked out quite the way that I envisioned but I’m not completely sure that I would change things. I can say that now because hindsight is twenty-twenty and looking back at some of the things that certain detours in my plan have brought into my life (one main blessing being my daughter) I can honestly say that I wouldn’t trade the experiences that I’ve had or the obstacles that I have had to work through for anything. I think that when I finally do reach the position in my writing career that I am striving for that those same obstacles and experiences will provide a great foundation for the lasting success that I saw for myself from the very beginning.

There are no time limits on when a person can achieve the success that they are looking for in life. We would like to get to the level of success we desire in a hurry and sometimes that can end up being to our detriment because far too often people aren’t really truly ready for the success they are seeking. I think that we’re often tested to gauge whether or not we’re even serious about what it is that we say we want. Will we throw our dreams away at the first sign of a major hurdle? Will we get halfway down the path to our goals and then get so impatient with how long it’s taking that we turn and double back before we’ve even reached the end of the road? Just how important could our dreams be if we run away from them at the first sign of resistance?

I think things happen for a reason, be it good or bad, and we have to be sure that the journey we are on has our full commitment and that our plans of action matches our level of desire. We can’t just quit on the dreams we have because it gets a little harder than we thought it would be to achieve them. They say that the hardest battles come with the sweetest victories so just imagine how sweet the success will be if you don’t give up on the goal just because the storm became too hard to bear. You’ve already planted the seed so just make sure you keep watering the dream!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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The Picture Isn’t Always Perfect

Nothing is Picture Perfect 2

Oftentimes we like to paint a picture for people that things in our world are running smoothly. We like to put a smile on to pretend that things are perfect even if they aren’t. We like to highlight the things that are going well and leave out all of the mistakes that we have been making as we go. It’s the whole fake it until you make it syndrome. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to have positive self-talk and to tell yourself that you can do this or that, even if deep down you are unsure of your capabilities. But to leave out the things that went wrong in your journey sometimes does a disservice, not only to you but to the people that you hope to inspire along the way.

If you think about it, there are no real mistakes in life. Everything that happens to us or even for us is by design and has already been mapped out by God. Even the slight detours we take are to teach us something, to show us what we are made of when we start to lose sight of the true depth of our purpose. It is in the failures that we truly triumph because we learn perseverance and it forces us to get back up again even when we don’t feel like we can.

I’ll admit that it feels good when you are presenting yourself to people as if you have everything all together and figured out. Particularly in the instances where you want to impress someone who impresses you, you want to seem like you can make all the pieces to the puzzle fit perfectly. Sometimes you fake it so well that you may even start to believe it yourself and it kind of gets you motivated in a way you may not have been otherwise.

The problem with faking it is that in leaving out the mistakes that you have made you also tend to leave out the lessons that you have learned from those mistakes as well. The people that you want to inspire and who may be looking to you for guidance are being mislead by this false perception of what success looks like and that really isn’t fair to them or you. There is no such thing as a flawless road to success and trying to pretend that there is only makes things look pretty on the outside, but it doesn’t change the reality of how messy the journey really is.

Stop trying to make everything look easy to everyone else because by doing that you diminish all of the hard work that you have likely put into your journey. Your path has more substance because of the obstacles and failures that you have had as you have walked along it. All those times you fell that you would like to instantly forget are important because they taught you that you are not a quitter and that you can get back up again. The detours on that straight and narrow road that you had planned to take likely gave you something that you needed at those particular times. Don’t leave out what you believe are the bad parts of your journey because odds are the good that came out of it wouldn’t have happened any other way.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Back To the Beginning of the Dream

Back to the beginning of a dream

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I felt when I first felt I was meant to become a writer. I was only 6 years old when I realized the way that words can affect people and when I knew that writing was what I wanted to do with my life. However, I was 10 when the words finally began to come to me, first in the form of poetry, and then in the form of telling stories. I’ve always had a wild imagination and when I started writing I felt so confident in my talent and my abilities to craft a story and to express my feelings through the art of poetry.

In fact, at that age, and with such low self esteem in so many other areas, it was just about the only thing I was confident and sure about. My passion for writing then was like no other that I had ever felt or have felt since. I worked relentlessly on my craft, night and day, oftentimes neglecting sleep just so I could get the ideas down. I studied different styles of writing, I’ve studied and continue to learn from other writers and I love every single aspect of the craft of writing.

The business side of writing however, the tedious marketing strategy that goes into getting your words out there in front of other people, the networking that is required of a strongly introverted person to do, that is the one aspect that I am not entirely passionate about doing. Throughout the years I have been hardened by the rejection that has come with dealing with the business side of writing, the constant revolving doors of no’s. If it were up to me I would just write and let someone else who’s good at the business part do that side of things.

My passion for making a living with my writing hasn’t weened but I think somewhere along the line the confidence I had in myself as a writer has been battered and bruised a little. The lack of business savvy that I have when it comes to writing has taken the wind out of my sails just a bit. I’ve started to question myself more and more about whether or not I am really good enough and do my words really matter that much. I keep letting the fear of everything that’s not working in my favor influence the drive towards what I know in my heart I’m meant to do and that’s because the confidence I had in the beginning has been damaged. I realize that I have to go back to the beginning, to when I felt sure about my writing.

Now obviously, making a living as a writer there’s no way to get around the business aspect of writing because financially I am not in a place where I can just hire someone else to deal with it and simply write. But I realize that I have to have more creative days where I solely focus on the craft of writing and not how I’m going to get it out there. I still love writing. To be able to write is like being able to breathe to me. I have to return back to what made me really love writing to begin with and I have to nurture that passion. I think that I had gotten so focused on the other stuff that I was starting to lose the part of the craft that fed my soul. I don’t ever want to lose that part of being a writer. Sometimes we have to go back to the beginning of a dream to make sure that we get back on the right path that will enable us to see it through.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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An Agent of Change

agent of change 3

There’s something about myself that I readily admit to people but that I am not entirely proud of. I absolutely do not like (strongly detest) change. I like things to be a certain way, I have a routine that I follow, pretty much to the tee and I don’t particularly like to deviate from that routine. In my mind it keeps things balanced, it keeps things flowing smoothly and it keeps a sense of order. Well at least that’s what I had convinced myself of.

I’ve been working a lot more over the last couple of years on my spiritual growth and on improving my relationship with God. I’ve been steadily working on following God’s instructions for my life and the direction that he wants it to go in. It’s a path that has brought me so much peace and joy and it has helped me rediscover who I am again. I hadn’t even realized that I had somehow lost who I was and forgotten what it was I was supposed to be doing, my purpose.

Sitting in church the other day as my pastor talked about growth, and that change equals growth so if you hate change than you can’t grow. It was a moment of clarity (one of many I have had recently). He spoke about how if you’re listening to God’s instructions for your life and following the path he wants you to be on, which is not always the path you had intended to take, then you have to be willing to open yourself up to something different, something new. You can’t hear the instructions for your life and then, because they don’t exactly fall in line with your daily routine, just not take action on the instructions that you have been given.

I’m a creature of habit and I had always led myself to believe that it wasn’t entirely a bad thing that I had set plans, set times in which to do things, set days in which to work on this or that, that I knew what I would be doing any given day at any given time because it would be the same. I call it routine but some might call it being stuck and unmoving. They would be right. I had never thought of my growing habitual routines as being afraid of changing but I can see now that it was exactly what I was afraid of doing.

If I changed things what if something bad happened. If I changed my routine what if the outcome was a bad one. I think I had gotten to a point where I had just made it so that nothing would happen that I didn’t already know was going to happen. That way there would be no bad outcomes, there would be no rejection, and no one could say no. I didn’t realize that it also meant that nothing good could happen either, and that no one could say yes. How could I say I was open to new opportunities of any kind if I was unwilling to change?

It’s not going to be easy to dial back my need for having a habitual routine. It’s opening myself up for an outcome that I don’t know and the thought of that is downright frightening. However, if I truly want to grow and reach new goals, and soar to new heights I have to be willing to change.

Change can be scary but it’s critical in order for us to grow. We can’t get so hung up on sticking to what we know and what our routine is that we miss the opportunities that are waiting for us right outside our little box. The box is good at times and we tell ourselves that the box protects us but does it really? Or does that box that we try so hard to keep ourselves in only hinder us from reaching our fullest potential? Our greatest accomplishments and our highest of heights tend to lie beyond the confines of the box of comfort that we trap ourselves in.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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What You See Is Not Always What Is Real

FINE Depression post

There have been a lot of reports in the news within the last year or so regarding Depression and people from young children to successful people in the prime of their lives committing suicide. A recent CDC report states that the rate of suicide has risen nearly 30 percent since 1999 (link to CBS news clip) and this report comes in the wake of the two most recent high-profile suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. These two people in particular were people who everyone around them, thought was happy and who, on the surface, appeared to have it all.

They wore the required smiles and they exuded joy and gratefulness for all that life had afforded them. Yet still, they felt that whatever pain they were feeling deep down inside was just too much to bear and perhaps they even thought the world would somehow be better off without them. Now people who knew and loved them are left behind to try and make sense of it all. They’re trying to figure out how they missed the signs and why they didn’t see how much pain they were in or the perpetual dark cloud that was looming over them.

The truth is that if people are suffering through depression and they don’t want you to know it then you won’t know it. Not until they are ready for someone to pull them out of it. They strategize and practice ways to hide their sadness and when they can’t hide it they simply hide themselves. I’ve talked on here before about my many bouts with depression and the thing is only the people who are closest to me, as close as family, ever knew that even the tiniest thing was wrong with me and that was only if I had decided that I wanted to open that window just a sliver. The darkness that I felt was just so dark and the sadness was so deep that I just didn’t see a way out. At least that is how it feels when I am in that state.

I have this running joke with people when I am in the midst of a state of depression. When they would tell me that I was always happy and smiling I would respond by telling them “then that means the act is working” and they would take it as a joke but I was never really joking. Over the years I had developed defense mechanisms that kept people at a distance and fell back on my solitude as a writer to explain the isolation. Since I’ve started going back to church a couple of years ago I haven’t really found myself in that deep state of depression anymore. I still have my days where some sadness creeps in but I’ve gotten better at not allowing it to linger too long. Therapy is good but I like the added sense of joy and peace that being in the house of God has brought me and it truly gives me strength that I didn’t realize I had before.

I am so thankful that I haven’t felt that deep darkness in a long while but the thing about having a mental illness like Depression is that you’re never really cured from it. At any given time that wave of sadness can hit you like a ton of bricks and it could happen literally out of nowhere. My hope is that people with depression find a way to talk about it before it gets to the point where they feel so overwhelmed by it that they just can’t speak about it. Don’t treat it as if it is something to be ashamed of and fearful to talk about because not talking about it is how it turns into the growing problem that it has become.

You can’t always wait for the signs that you could be missing. People who suffer from depression are just too good at hiding it for anyone who’s not paying attention to notice. Don’t wait for them to cry out for help. You have to hear the words that aren’t being said, distinguish the nervous giggle from the actual laughter, and be able to see the frowns that are hidden behind the smiles. If you have a friend who is drowning then reach in and grab them out of it kicking and screaming if you have to. Odds are they don’t know how to tell you that they are sinking.

**If you find yourself feeling like you are in a dark place and you are having thoughts of suicide please, please, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 any time of day or night.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Along the Way

Along the way

Let’s talk about appreciating your journey! When you are pursuing your goals and dreams there is no telling just how long the journey will be to reach your destination. If you are low in the patience department like I am then you want more than anything for it all to come together overnight. You want to be able to map out an efficient plan, put in the action, and quickly see the rewards of all of your hard work and effort.

We can sometimes get so caught up in the end game of what our plans are that we take for granted the small victories that happen along the way. We don’t take the time to celebrate the accomplishments that we manage to achieve as we go along. We want the pace towards success to be quick and preferably painless but that’s not the reality of most people’s journey in life. We even waste time comparing the trajectory of other people’s journey to ours. We get so busy looking over on their road, trying to see how fast they’re going that we miss the scenery of our own journey.

Your journey is your own and you should go at whatever pace is comfortable for you but don’t miss out on the journey trying to rush the process. Stop dwelling on the things that you haven’t been able to check off of your list yet. Appreciate where you are right now and the progress that you have made so far. Don’t rush the journey. Instead, take your time to enjoy the scenery along the way!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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The Words We Tell Ourselves

Be Careful what you say to yourself

Let’s talk about self-doubt! I think everyone can admit, if they are being honest with themselves, that they talk to themselves. We tend to debate with our own conscience and question our every move, oftentimes second guessing things that we instinctually believe to be good initial decisions. We are sometimes our biggest champions but we can also tend to be our own worst critics. If something doesn’t go the way we think it should, or the way that we had planned it to go we lose a little bit of hope each time our plans falter. The problem that I don’t think that we realize we are inviting is that we are now speaking negative outcomes to things that we have positive intentions for.

It does no good to speak positively about what we are wishing to accomplish and then turn around and name all of the reasons that we think will cause us to inevitably fail. That negative self-talk that we do to ourselves is precisely what can change the course of things because now we’ve spoken negativity into the goals and dreams that we once had such a positive outlook on. There is no guarantee how anything that we map out will ever go so to talk ourselves down from following through with any idea we have, already assuming that it won’t become a reality, is just us sabotaging ourselves.

We have to be more mindful of how we talk to ourselves. We have to take special care to make sure that we are not talking ourselves out of things simply because we’re afraid that we may not succeed in it. We have to make sure that we are not talking down to our own inner conscience and that the negativity that someone else may be projecting onto you doesn’t get ingrained within our deepest thoughts. We have to make sure that we are our biggest and loudest cheerleaders and that the criticism that we give ourselves isn’t negative but rather constructive. How you talk to yourself matters, probably more than anything anyone could ever say to you. So be kind to yourself and always believe in the power that is within you. You are your greatest champion!

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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The Fabric that Creates Our Stories

Fabric that creates our stories

Let’s talk about the stories that make us! We all have moments in our lives that we sometimes wish hadn’t happened. There may be certain experiences that we wished had gone a different way than they did. Or even just a small rough patch that you wish you could’ve somehow dodged along the way. I know that I have a huge chunk of childhood experiences I’ve wished I could have replaced with better ones and some mistakes that I’ve made in my teenage or young adult years that I would do over again if I could.

The problem with trying to recreate history, however, is that if we were to do that we would completely miss out on the lesson that we were supposed to learn. In addition to that we would also not have the experiences that help to shape and mold us into the people we were meant to become. I was watching an episode of Oprah’s Master Class and the guest was talking about the fact that the stories that we share with others, the wisdom that we tend to draw on from other people’s experiences, come from the rough patches in life.

We wouldn’t have those experiences and those moments that give us teaching tools for life if there were no rough patches to begin with. What I’ve gone through in my life, the issues I’ve had with deep depression, the abuse I suffered in my childhood, even my struggles with my weight throughout most of my life, sure I may wish they hadn’t happened, but they could very well be the inspiration that someone else needs down the line.

I think of all of the inspiration that I’ve gotten from other people’s struggles and the obstacles that they’ve overcome to get to the level of success that they’re at now and it’s amazing. Knowing that when I finally achieve the goals that I’ve set out to accomplish and when I get to that level of success where I can truly influence others, to think that I could possibly provide some inspiration to someone else in the future and possibly give them feelings of hope is extremely comforting to me.

Our struggles that we endure and the obstacles that we battle through become some of the greatest fabric to our story. To ever try and wish that away would more than likely be a costly mistake because so much of our trials and tribulations are woven so intricately into our lives that without them we could be completely different people and not necessarily who we were ever meant to be. So when you start to dwell on the hard times that you’ve experienced, stop and think. If you were to wish those hard times away, those rough patches, then you wouldn’t have a story to tell. Those experiences have built your character and they are the reason that you can inspire the world around you. So make your stories count and let them be a way to heal somebody else.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Progress Doesn’t Happen In a Straight Line

Progress is Not a Straight Line 2

Let’s talk about progress! Moving forward doesn’t always mean that the trajectory of that movement won’t come without taking a few steps backward. The problem with that is that at times the backwards steps can throw us for a loop and it can take the wind out of our sails. Naturally we lose the momentum that we had and have to reconfigure how we’re going to get everything back on track again.

Every backwards step is not necessarily a negative. Sometimes we have to go back and look at what we did wrong to begin with so that we can figure out how to effectively navigate our way through the mistakes and find the positive lessons to take with us to the next level. The only way you can truly move forward in the journey is to be able to honestly assess everything. We can’t just highlight the good moments and overlook or completely ignore the bumps in the road.

There is no straight line that gets us from point A all the way to Z. This course has many twists and turns and even some ups and downs that we aren’t always going to see as a necessary part of the journey. But even though these pit falls seem like huge boulder sized obstacles that can completely derail us, they oftentimes are bigger opportunities to learn something that we might not have learned if we had never stumbled to begin with.

The key to getting back on track with your goals is to accept the fact that you’ve had a setback and allow that misstep to be a lesson. We don’t progress if we don’t educate ourselves on what we don’t know and sometimes getting knocked backwards is the only way we begin to realize what it will actually take to move forward. Most of the time it’s not the tripping, or even the falling backwards that becomes the reason we don’t eventually succeed. It’s the staying down and never getting back up to move forward that stunts our growth. So stop trying to protect yourself from making mistakes. Just make sure that you learn something from the one’s that you make.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter
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