Mental Post-Its

Thoughts, Notes, and General Mental Mayhem


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Storyline Conference Highlights

IMG_1564I’ve been a fan of Don Miller ever since a friend suggested that I read Blue Like Jazz shortly after it’s release. I immediately felt like I could be friends with this guy. Since then, I’ve read every one of his books, and consider A Million Miles in a Thousand Years one of my all-time favorite books. So when Don announced he would start hosting conferences based on this material, I was ready to sign up.

And that’s just what I did last month. Since he recently relocated to Nashville, one of the Storyline Conferences each year is now held there—a mere four hours from me. It was a really fun two days. It was a little like, and a little unlike, other conferences I attended. Don describes it as sort of group therapy and I have to agree. 😉

The basis for the time is that you are looking to develop a plan to discover and live out your God-given story. Before and after guest speakers, Don takes you through the process, much like he discovered along the way in A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Another element of a story is added in each session. Some of his material also comes from “logotherapy,” a therapy which helps you discover meaning and purpose, hence the therapy session. The guest speakers do some instructing, but I gathered that mostly you are to see living examples of the material Don presents. There were some really awesome speakers. And then, of course, because it’s Nashville, there were local musicians who contributed to the agenda.

Honestly, I still have A LOT of thinking to do about what was said over the weekend. But I really appreciated what I heard, and am looking forward to more reflecting on it. I had already started making some baby steps in my story before arriving, but I still have a long way to go. And I have the homework from the conference to prove it! It was a very affirming time, though, and I know it will help me in the future.

Here are a few of the pearls I pulled out of the conversation:

Don Miller

  • Living great stories involves changing the way we approach life. To live a great story, we need to know who we are, what we want, what conflict we will need to engage and then we must take action.
  • If people don’t find purpose, they will pursue pleasure. – Viktor Frankel, Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist as well as a Holocaust survivor (Invented “logotherapy”)
  • God did not create us to live in reaction, but to be co-creators of a meaningful life.
  • We are not our failures—or our successes.
  • Love your calling, not the applause of the crowd.
  • Your story is not about you. It’s about God using you to save many lives.
  • When you find a passion or purpose, you realize all the parts of your life have been leading up to it.
  • In some way, suffering ceases to be suffering at the moment it finds a meaning. – Viktor Frankel
  • What if God created you because the world needed to feel the impact of your story?

Becca Stevens, priest and founder of Thistle Farms

  • We learn more from mercy than judgement.
  • Love heals.

John Richmond, Federal Prosecutor at Department of Justice Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit

  • We are not entitled to anything. Every breathe is a gift.
  • Got wants to rescue us from thinking we have to measure up.
  • The ruler you choose matters, because it will rule you.

Shauna Niequist, author

  • God can give you a new name and a new story.
  • Hold up the hard stories in your life that have no place anymore. Lay them down and make room for new ones.
  • What are the old stories you are letting stand in your way?

Bob Goff, Founder of Restore International, Lawyer and Author of Love Does

  • See people for who they are becoming.
  • We’re afraid of our calling because we’re afraid to fail. Fail at the right stuff. Fail trying.

Joshua DuBois, emails daily devotions to President Obama

  • When we play the victim, life becomes about us.

Ryan Forsthoff, The Leadership Foundation

  • The most powerful moments in a person’s life are the moments in which they realize what they are capable of.
  • Great leaders recognize and respond to the capabilities of those they lead.

 

Don began and ended the conference with the question, “What will the world miss if you do not tell your story?” Um, that’s a pretty powerful question. I’m not there yet, but I’m pondering it. It definitely shapes the way I see things. I spend too much of my time comparing myself to others, and I think that was one of the things this conference does best. It reminded me that God created me. He took the time to form and shape me. I’m here for a reason. I better not waste it.

So…what would the world miss if you did not tell your story?


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Book Review: Love Does by Bob Goff

screen-shot-2016-12-10-at-1-46-07-pmLet me just start by saying that Bob Goff, if you’re out there reading this right now, I’m looking for an adoptive grandparent. Just sayin’.

For those of you just joining us, this book has quickly moved into my favorites category in the realm of the written word. I listed to it, as per my usual, via Audible.com and was delighted to hear that Bob Goff does the reading as well. I really adored the whole thing; hung on his every word. It was too short, by the way. Need more! Perhaps a sequel…Love Does…More?

If you don’t know who Bob Goff is when I say his name, you may recall his story being included in Don Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, another of my favorite books. Bob’s story was about the guy who helped his kids write letters to all the foreign dignitaries asking to come interview them. They received 29 yes answers and set off around the world as a family so the kids could interview these world leaders. At the end of the interview, the kids left the head of state with a key to come see them. My three sentence wrap up does it no justice, so go read it for yourself if you get the change. It’s a remarkable story. I cried and found it so inspiring. It is one of my all-time favorite stories, and it isn’t even about anyone I know! Anyway, that gives you just a glimpse of the type of guy Bob is.

Back to the book, Love Does, which is a pretty recent release and includes the same story along with many other amazing ones. I keep finding it funny that this guy is a lawyer by trade because he does so many uncharacteristically lawyerly things. He needs a TV show about his life and persona. Yes, he is a character.

The main theme of the book is about living with whimsy. He states that he doesn’t think people need more opportunities for whimsy in their life, they just need to recognize the ones that are readily available. He tells story after story about the ways he’s incorporated whimsy into his life, and consequently, the way his children, friends and family have caught the same vision.

There were two items the book instantly reminded me of when I started reading. The first is the movie Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, which is a favorite of mine. It’s chock-full of whimsy and imagination. I identify with facets of each of the characters as they strive to reconcile their own degree of imagination within a very concrete world. Some days, the skies the limit like Mr. M himself. Some days, I feel a bit stuck like Molly. And then, yes, I do have a few days like the Mutant Accountant where everything is just as it seems, and the magic has left the building. But, in the end, they each find their own opportunity to invite whimsy in, and in doing so, find the best parts of themselves and others.

The second item the book reminded me of was the book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. Isn’t he just fascinating? I don’t think I’m smart enough to be his real-life friend, but I’d like to try. I digress… Blink is basically about the thousands of things behind-the-scenes or in the past that allow you to make split second decisions when needed. And it talks about the cognitive factors involved. It’s really amazing, as are all his books. If you like sociology type stuff, he’s great to read. Anyway, there’s this chapter in Blink where he talks about improv, and that it’s a great case study for the subject matter of the book–“making sophisticated decisions spur of the moment.” He notes that improv isn’t chaotic and random, as those terrified of being asked to do it might seem, but instead it does follow a set of guidelines that are agreed up and rehearsed to an extent, before the actors take the stage. The most important rule for improv is agreement. Meaning, you say “yes” to whatever the situation and circumstance. You don’t stop, or block it. You catch it and move forward, as they said like basketball. “Good improvisors develop action,” said one of the performers from the group Mother in NYC. Malcolm pointed out that in real life, we tend to stop action. Probably 90% of us or more would never agree upon the first rule in the beginning, and therefore, improv becomes a type of stage performance rather than real life.

I think Love Does is an answer of sorts to what good improv could look like in real life. Allowing your mind to recognize whimsy is the first step. The second is the acceptance of it. The third is the action upon it. Oh, the places we’d go–Dr. Seuss would be proud! I know for those of you straight-laced sorts out there this probably sounds either silly or scarey, or a little of both. But I think it sounds exciting and adventurous. And really, who doesn’t need more of that? Whether we recognize it or not, we’d all do a little better with a bit more adventure.

One of my favorite trips was in college with my best friend, Heather. It was coming up on Memorial Weekend, I think, and it seemed like everyone we knew was headed out of town. We didn’t want to be left on campus by ourselves so we made the decision to leave for Colorado the next morning to go see a friend. We were really giddy, got to packing, and the next morning jumped in the car ready for the road ahead. As I started the engine, I eagerly asked, “Ok, so which way do we go?” Heather replied, “I don’t know. Do we have a map?” Love it! We just started laughing, and had to postpone our trip by about five minutes so we could Mapquest our way to Denver. But the excitement overtook us, and that is a delicious place to be. (The whole weekend was great, by the way.)

Even before reading this book, I’ve been influenced by this type of philosophy over the years through various avenues and people. I’m sort of prone to it, built for it, and sought out by it, though. I wish I had room here to tell all my stories of whimsy. There have a been a number of them, and even if all didn’t turn out the way I want, they make for great memories….and sometimes lessons learned.

But I realize not everyone is automatically cozy to the idea of whimsy. I say, just start small. Try one morsel before a big bite. I think you might get hooked. After all, calculated risk still involves risk. I know you can do it! Loosen those straight laces. I don’t think you’ll regret it. And if you do, it may just mean trying again. One fail doesn’t mean the whole project is a failure. It is worth letting some playfulness in.

I think Grandpa Bob just accentuates the fact that life is meant to be lived. Sure, there are responsibilities that you’ll still have to manage. But whimsy may just be five minutes in the beginning. You can still pay bills and get the laundry done and drive the kids to soccer. Bob Goff is a lawyer, nonprofit founder and Consul General to Uganda, for goodness sakes. If this man can take time for the whimsy, we all need to take a page out of his book. Literally, I’m taking the page with the kids writing world leaders. It taught me a lot.

Read this book. You’ll definitely laugh. Definitely cry. Also I hope you gain a wee bit more respect for whimsy and, in return, start a significant relationship with this little gem.

Just remember, I asked Bob to be my adoptive grandpa first.

 

(Note: Amazon links are affiliate links.)