Even If It’s Not Broken, It May Still Need to Be Fixed

What has God been able to teach you lately? That question was one that my pastor posed to us yesterday and it was a very thought provoking one. To put it in context, he was talking to us basically about getting out of the comfort zone of the things that we know and start walking in the path of the things that we don’t know. I love how the things that I had already been processing in my own mind for myself, when I hear them from another wiser and more experienced person it just makes that much more sense.

I am one of those old fashioned people who can’t really stand the drastic changes in technology and the way that we communicate today. I am much more “comfortable” doing things the way that I know how to do them and the old adage of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ is my personal favorite mantra. My pastor preached to us yesterday about learning how to evolve with things and being willing to gain new knowledge so that it could help us take the skills that God has blessed us with, that we have always had, and nurture them and grow them into something even better and bigger with the power to do more good within this world.

When I heard those words I thought about all of the limitations that I have been placing on myself and my dreams just from the shear inability to allow my mind to expand and let myself learn new methods of doing things that just might actually allow for growth and exposure to something better. It’s so odd for me because I consider myself such a student of life and a person who just loves learning overall but when it comes to doing things in a way that’s unsure I just stop there.

I suppose my writing career could be in a far different (and better) place right now if I had been more adaptable to change a long time ago. New can be scary for me, especially if I had gotten so used to doing things in a way that seemed to be working so well but the thing is sometimes you do things the same for so long that you can’t even see when they stop working. You’re too blinded by the familiar and you keep walking in what you know because it feels right to you.

When you finally realize how much you haven’t grown it can be a jolt to the system and one that can either cause you to crumble or to kick it into high gear and get moving in the right direction. I guess you could say I did some crumbling first. I suppose I just have to keep reminding myself of how good change can be when I start to regress and back away from something new. The fact of the matter is that what God wants me to do with the gifts he’s given me, what he wants me to pour into this world is far more important than my wanting to remain ‘comfortable’. I have work to do and I don’t get to complain about being uncomfortable!

Until next time… #BeUncomfortable #BeInFaith

Jimmetta Carpenter

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The Never Ending Balancing Act: Structure versus Spontaneity

Change versus Spontaneity post

I’ve been thinking over the weekend about change. There are a lot of experts that advise you that change is good and that you shouldn’t be resistant to it. Then you have plenty of experts on the opposite end of the spectrum that say that setting deadlines is a good thing and that having structure and routine is something that can help stabilize someone’s life and help them to stay focused on the journey ahead of them.

I tend to lean more to the side of routine and structure, perhaps I lean a little too far in to it. It’s no secret to anyone who truly knows me that no matter how open I appear to be to change and spontaneity, I am extremely resistant to it. I’d like to say that I’ve only recently grown a barrier to the idea of change but I think I’ve always been this way since I was a little girl. I like knowing what’s going to happen, to know the way the day is going to go and precisely what I’ll be doing and when. That kind of structure pretty much guarantees the same outcome and while that may seem boring to some, it’s also safe. I guess the problem is that it may be a little too safe.

The odd thing is that the kind of life I’ve always dreamed of having for myself, since I was ten years old, could never be possible without embracing the idea of change and being spontaneous. There are a lot of things that I would change about my life and one of the things at the top of that list is my resistance to change itself, and my anxiety over the things that I do not know. So what is the right way to go about things?

Do you go with throwing caution to the wind and embracing every change that comes your way or do you plan and set deadlines and stick to a structure that helps keep you on track? I suppose that is what I struggle with because I want to be spontaneous and accept whatever changes may come my way but then I lose my balance and the shifts that begin to happen don’t allow me to stay focused and on track. Where is the middle ground on change versus structure? Is there a good balance between being overtly open to every changing scenario and still keeping enough structure to stay on course?

It’s easy for me to just say that structure is what works for me and leave it at that but if it was truly working then I would be where I want to be by now. Perhaps the very reason I haven’t reached that next level just yet is because I’m too afraid to reach out and grab the ledge above me because that means I would have to actually let go. To let go is scary. That means I have to trust what’s coming next, in an outcome that I can’t see.

Change is necessary to go to the next step on my journey and I know that but it’s hard to not know how things will turn out. So I guess the question is can I have structure and still fully open myself up to change or am I just going to keep holding on to the things that I already know. I don’t know how I truly feel about letting go of the structure that keeps me so grounded but I guess this year (my year of no excuses) will help me see just how open I can be.

Jimmetta Carpenter

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Dreams Don’t Die, They Simply Change, and That’s Okay

dreams don't die 1

One of my first childhood dreams for my future was when I was somewhere between eight and nine and just knew that I was going to be a New York Time’s Best Selling Author by the age of thirty. Needless to say that has not yet come true and I am almost forty. I spent a lot of time last year continuing work on my novels all while submitting other novels to various agents. I got a rejection letter from almost all of them (some still haven’t responded yet, which I suppose is a response in itself) but they weren’t the regular form rejection letters. They were all nice and complimentary of how well my writing is and how the story sounded intriguing yet it was not particularly what they were looking for. There were a few who even made some suggestions of certain areas of the story in which to make it a little stronger but still making sure to let me know that they thought I had great potential of getting traditionally published down the road.

I suppose that the fact that they didn’t send back something generic and formal and actually took time out of their already busy schedules to personalize my rejection a little more means something but in the end a rejection is still just that. I’m not going to lie, I was beginning to doubt myself and my writing ability just a little bit but then I decided that this year was going to be the year of no excuses and I was not going to let someone else’s approval stop me from putting my work out there. Truthfully, that I’m not further along in my career as a published novelist (and not just someone with about four or five novels just sitting completed on a flash drive) is my own fault.

My first time being published was back in 2010, and it was by a small publishing house, and if I look back now I honestly wasn’t ready for the business part of being a published novelist. I was also a little too excited and a little too naïve in thinking that this small publishing house would do the same things as a traditional publishing house, in terms of marketing and publicity. I wasn’t really knowledgeable about social media and how best to use it to market myself and when it came to promoting my own book, well I tended to shy away from putting myself out there. I know more about social media now as opposed to what I knew then and I think I am more ready now then I was then to be published.

You know they say be careful what you ask for because you just might get it and in terms of receiving something that you’re simply not ready for yet, that saying couldn’t be more true. I used to tell people that I regretted my first experience with publishing because I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t know what I had gotten into when I signed with that small publishing house. It wasn’t a very successful experience and I had expected to just be able to write and let someone else handle the rest. That was misguided thinking but now those lessons that that experience taught me are priceless.

Now, because of that experience, as I get ready to reenter the arena as a published author by publishing my own work, I understand all of the work that the process will entail and while I am not yet a marketing or social media genius, I am substantially better at it then I was then and what I don’t know or understand I am prepared to research and learn. I was smart enough then to make sure that I got my rights back to my novel that was published back then in a reasonable time and I plan on republishing that novel (possibly renaming it what I wanted to name it to begin with) because I still believe in the story that lied within those pages.

We tend to waste time trying to control things that are not within our control instead of focusing on what is. We do ourselves a great disservice when we hold onto the notion that we can somehow go back and change the mistakes that we made before. Sometimes we have to learn how to let go of the dream that we started out with and grab on to the dream that has bloomed where the old one once was. Now I’m not saying that I don’t still desire to be published with a traditional publishing house but this is the year of no excuses right, so to waste time waiting for that to happen when I have ISBN #’s waiting to be used for my own novels would be pointless. The things I dreamed for myself ten or fifteen years ago aren’t really gone, they’ve just morphed into newer, bolder dreams that require me to have the courage to let what once was go and grab onto what can be now. Are you ready to let go of the dreams that didn’t survive your past and grab onto the dreams of your future?

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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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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Letting Go of What Holds Me Back

Letting Go of Whats holding me back

I had a conversation with a very successful singer/songwriter a few weeks ago right at the point where I was starting to feel my creative block turn a corner. It was an unexpected phone call through a friend who knew that I needed the motivation and we had a 45 minute conversation about artistry and creativity. We talked about fear and being blocked and pushing past those obstacles that are in your way to fulfill a purpose.

Truthfully I suffer with bouts of depression and when these periods of depression come on (far more often than I would like) I get stuck in this fog of gloominess for an indefinite period of time. After talking to this artist I felt reinvigorated and once again energized but the fog was still there. For anyone who has ever suffered with depression or is currently suffering from it then you know to just say I don’t want to be in this state anymore is not enough.

One of the main things I remember her telling me in our conversation was that I needed to write down my list of fears because the fear is what is paralyzing me and sending me into depression. Then she said once I had written down everything that was paralyzing me with fear I needed to work on letting it go. I am guilty of dwelling in things for far too long. I dwell in the things I can’t change more specifically and I dwell in things that I fear that haven’t even happened yet. I get hit with a setback and I completely sit in the stickiness and muddiness of that mess of a setback and I dwell there.

It’s not something I am proud of but I figure if I can admit that this is my problem then I can better work on fixing it. So that’s what I am working on, letting go of those fears that old me back and that paralyze me. Learning to let go of the routine of things because the fact is that things do change and everything will not always go how you planned it out. My life is definitely not where I want it to be and in order to get it there I need to get over the fear of change and let go of all of the negative self-talk bouncing around in my head. Some things you just can’t hold onto forever.

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

My Write 2 Be is…

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The Time to Incite Change is Now

Yesterday was one of those days that make you want to incite change, not only within yourself but in the world.  Between it being Martin Luther King Jr. day and the Inauguration day of President Barack Obama you couldn’t help but to be inspired and hopeful for the bright future that this country has ahead and the mark that you could someday leave on it.  It just feels like the time to change things is now and that in this present moment you have to be willing to stand up and be that difference that this world needs.

When I think of all of the great people who incited the change that has been made in this world, I think about the fact that these were people who refused to remain silent or stand still.  They were people who didn’t care if no one else shared their beliefs or their opinions they were going to make their belief and opinions heard anyway.  They were not going to be afraid to step outside of the box that other people kept trying to keep them in.  They weren’t afraid to be that change that the world needed and make their mark.

I would like to think that I have already started on that journey to make a great change within this world.  While it is only the beginning of this year, with the release of my new magazine and my first guest blog post, which was published last week, that seems to be well received, I am feeling more and more like everything is starting to fall right into place.  There are so many things that I want to do in this world and so much change that I want to make.

My dream started off with just writing, then evolved into wanting to build a publishing house, and evolved even more into wanting to create a media empire to pass on to my daughter that not only encourages artists to not conform to what society says they should be, but that they should celebrate their uniqueness.  I also, as I saw my daughter begin to experience the bullying that I also once went through as a child, developed an urge to want to use my message for my media company to begin communicating to young children that they should feel okay with being who they are and know that being different is not something to be ashamed of but rather something to embrace.

I’m not sure what it is about this year that feels so different but it just feels like it’s going to bring about the changes that I’ve been waiting for.  Of course some of those developments I am working towards are still in the making but I feel like I’m getting so much closer to my destination.  I am going to change this world, in my own way and in my own time.  I believe all of us have that power.  We just have to tap into it.  Did yesterday inspire you to want to move toward change?

I have the Write 2 Be Motivated and Empowered… What is your Write 2 Be?

 

Jimmetta Carpenter

Writer/Editor

The Diary: Succession of Lies (Now Available)

Writing as “Jaycee Durant”

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