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Archive for the tag “Make it happen”

Waves of Change

There’s a different flavor to this entry – much more personally vulnerable than usual, but hopefully helpful to those facing a similar situation.

Alteration, modification, variation, transformation, adjustment, amendment. I like all of these words better than plain old “change”. More syllables somehow gives a sense of fluidity and even feels gentler verbalizing than the abrupt and harsh “change”.

I am facing unwanted, fast change in my life. I don’t mind things ebbing and flowing over the natural course of time. I don’t mind a surprise now and again. But massive, out-of-the-blue change – the kind that knocks you on your rear end and the breath out of your lungs? Or how about the baited change – when you expect one thing and get the other. Of those I’m not much of a fan.

You can utter all the platitudes, repeat all the affirmations, read all the quotes, get patted on the back by friends, and try to pick yourself up. And, most times, in your head you know that things will eventually smooth out and you’ll get back on track again.

Then there are those times when forced change can spin you into the Kubler-Ross Five Stages of Grief. (Here’s a quick list so you don’t have to search: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.) I think there should be another step squeezed in there somewhere: being frozen.

For more than a few months now I have been going through a tough time spurred by a rising river of unwanted, uncontrollable change. I was expecting some change, but it came in greater number, speed, and force than I had prepared for. It spilled out of the river banks and wiped away the sandbags I had stacked around certain areas of my life. Nothing was protected. All I could do was stand there and watch it pour over me and around me and watch it carry everything in every area my life away with it. There has been nothing that hasn’t been affected. I haven’t really talked about it with anyone at any length and prayer bounces off the ceiling. Writer’s block has taken full root (this entry is one of maybe three things I’ve written in months). I put up a barricade by freezing myself from feeling anything or reacting to anything, relegating myself to a sort of half-life:  there physically but not emotionally.

Then last week, something sort of happened.  I continued to be deluged by unexpected blows and watching myself not responding. Maybe it was a “last straw” type of thing but when I received one certain piece of news I sunk down into the chair I was sitting in and thought to myself, “But I don’t want to be an empty shell person.” When you stop fighting all the changes, but not in a let’s-figure-this-out-and-move-on kind of way, then you allow the changes to beat you up and toss you emotionally and spiritually into nothingness. I’ve seen people like that. They’ve resigned themselves to victim status and accept whatever is thrown their way, thinking it is what they deserve, too worn out to hope for anything more. Their lights go out. And they never recover. I said, out loud, “I don’t want to be like that. I want to recover. I don’t want other people to face that, I want to help them recover before it’s too late.” And a little spark was lit. 

It wasn’t a blinding revelation, there was no instant transformation.  I still feel very deflated.  But there is a spark.  A lot of tears have blurred my eyes as I’ve written this entry. I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen from here. I don’t know if Burn Bright will change (or even continue) as a blog or business. I don’t know where I’ll be living or working or worshipping or people I’ll hang out with, or activities I’ll participate in this coming year. But rather than roll up in a frozen ball and be tossed in the waves as the changes continue, I’m going to try to thaw, stretch out, bodysurf, and ride them to whatever shore they are taking me. 

Adjustments Along the Way

adjustsailsEarlier this year I got a new vehicle – I went from a sedan to an SUV. There were definitely some adjustments to be made. The simple act of putting the key into the ignition and turning the engine on was no longer one smooth move. It took me almost a week to get used to positioning my fingers and hand differently. Then there’s the gear shift. In my car it was on the floor, in my SUV it’s on the steering column. At times I still find myself grasping in midair for the stick.

As I changed careers and started building my own business, I found myself grasping in mid-air for things as well. Simple things like working outside of the standard eight-hour workday and catching up on my sleep at 2:00 in the afternoon, felt odd and at first produced massive guilt. And having worked for years in a highly professional arena, where the rules of deportment were clearly established and followed, it was a shock to my system that not everyone knew appropriate business etiquette (and didn’t want to). Slowly I learned to reposition my way of thinking – not to ignore or forget what I knew, but to adjust my expectations and learn how to shift the way I approached people and problems while maintaining my values.

As you pursue the purpose for your life, you should expect change to be a given. Don’t feel threatened or fearful. It’s not always about having to throw out your ideas or standards you value. Many times it’s just a simple adjustment in the way you approach things, a small change in the way you are holding onto something, or a new way of looking at people and their needs. It may be a bit uncomfortable and require a little bit of time (and practice), but you will eventually stop grasping the air and move into a new flow along your way.

There’s Nothing Wrong with New Year’s Resolutions

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making New Year’s Resolutions.  A resolution is simply a firm decision, a determination to change something.  Nothing wrong with that… but don’t leave it at that.  Doing two simple things will take it out of the realm of mere intention:

  1. Tie your resolution to the purpose God has for your life. Fitting it into the big picture gives it a meaning and value that will take it beyond just the heady rush of the first week of the new year.
  2. Write down the resolution in the form of an actual goal.  Use the SMART acronym to get it on paper and in your heart and mind.


There’s absolutely nothing wrong with making New Year’s Resolutions, but without a form to them, an actual reason and an actual plan, what’s the point? Be intentional. Burn bright.

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Stir the Embers

Whether you are just discovering your purpose or have been on this journey for a while, you know that it’s not always easy or comfortable.  You can’t always expect immediate results.

You may have had a smoother transition to something in the past, or you may see someone else who seems to have it easier than you.  It can be frustrating when you have a picture of what you want but it’s not coming together in real life.

Your purpose does not have to be big or perfect coming out of the gate – it’s not intended to. We are pursuing our purpose – which means “to follow, continue, or proceed along.” Real progress takes time, so you need to learn to apply yourself consistently and patiently.

You do not create your purpose out of nothing.  It’s not just an idea out of the blue.  Rather you take what is already within you and stir it up.

fire2It’s like a fire on the beach.  People build campfires near the dunes and when it finally burns out and they’re ready to leave, they bury the remains in sand.  You can find where the fire was because the sand covering the place is warm.  Then you can dig down to the embers and stir them up and create another fire.

So it is with your purpose – it’s burning deep within you and what you need to do is find where it is, dig down, and stir it up.    It takes time and patience.  Fires and purposes need to be stirred up and built gradually in order to Burn Bright.

“A fortunate few cherish that flame, nurture it, hold it as a torch to light their way.”
(Haruki Murakami)

Don’t Settle

Don’t ever settle for ordinary, average, unexceptional.  I’m not talking about the scale, quantity, or fame of your achievement, but rather in the quality and influence of your purpose.  Investing in people, building your confidence by stepping out of your comfort zone, and being bold will drive you forward and bring increase.

The value of your purpose is neither in its size nor in the acknowledgement of others.  Feeding a family in your neighborhood, feeding the homeless downtown, feeding millions in Africa – which has more value?  Whichever one is done with passion and out of compassion.   Whichever one challenges you to step outside of yourself.  Whichever one is done with excellence.  And no one can really know this except you.  How many you reach pales in comparison to the quality of your reach.

Even when you’re feeling small, or others think of you as small, don’t settle for mediocre. Taking the easy route will always leave you feeling less than confident in what you have to offer and keep you from moving onward and upward in your purpose.


Getting Out of Your Own Way – Part 4 of 6

In order to fully pursue the purpose God has placed on our lives, we are looking at how to avoid self-defeating behaviors.  Each week for six weeks we’re looking at one of the following:

To get out of you own way, you need to remember…

1. …your identity
2. …what you are doing 
3. …your purpose 
4. …the people 
5. …to be strategic 
6. …the outcome

This week:


Your purpose in life is never all about you.  While you discover your purpose by considering your own abilities, passions, and desires, gratifying those traits is not what it’s all about.

Focusing only on you – what you are doing and what will benefit you – may be one of the reasons you find yourself frozen and unable to move forward.

A business or organization may focus their mission statement on marketing a product, but they cannot lose sight of their customer.   Your purpose – whether written on paper or on your heart – cannot lose sight of those who will benefit from your commitment to your purpose.

When you take what you are doing out of the realm of self-fulfillment and consider the influence/support/service/relief/comfort you provide others through it, you reshape the nature of your approach and your expectations.

Thinking about the needs of those you impact can often give you the kick you need to lift yourself out of those self-sabotaging behaviors of procrastination, lack of focus, perfectionism, fear, etc.



Getting Out of Your Own Way – Introduction

On Burn Bright’s Facebook and Twitter accounts, I recently asked readers to complete the following sentence: “The biggest obstacle keeping me from truly pursuing my purpose is __________.”

The overwhelming response boiled down to just one word: MYSELF. Whether exhibited as procrastination, lack of focus, perfectionism, or fear (of change, of failure, etc.), this self-defeating behavior is a challenge everyone faces. We undermine ourselves and become paralyzed, unable to move forward.

Can we get unstuck? Yes, we can. And we must. How do we get unstuck? In order to break past our block, we have to change the way we think. Easy to say, hard to do? Yes, but as writer/speaker Denise Vaughan says,

“Moving forward, even if I’m scared, is a better feeling than being stuck – or regressing.”

From my own experiences of self-sabotage (and there have been a few), I have discovered that there are six things to consider, specifically related to pursuing your purpose, that will help you get out of your own way.

It’s a big subject, so over the next six weeks I’ll focus on one step per week, digging into detail about what each one means and how to correct the way we think about it. So bookmark this blog and come back and join the conversation.

To get out of you own way, you need to remember…
1. …your identity
2. …what you are doing
3. …your purpose
4. …the people
5. …to be strategic
6. …the outcome


Self sabotage is when we say we want something and then go about making sure it doesn’t happen.
Alyce P Cornyn-Selby

Competition or Just a Kick in the Pants


“The fact is, that to do anything in the world worth doing, we must not stand back shivering and thinking of the cold and danger, but jump in and scramble through as well as we can.”
(Robert Cushing)


  • When Person A was the only game in town they encouraged Person B to pursue their heart’s desire, knowing full well it was similar to their own.  When Person B’s version of the business started doing well, Person A cut off all contact.  That was even though A’s business was not diminished but was even promoted by B.  Person A felt distinctly threatened.
  • There is a writer who limits herself to writing small articles now and then.  The reason?  Too much competition.  She says when she walks into a library and sees how many books have been published it discourages her that she’ll probably never stand out.
  • K. doesn’t understand why their career never took off while watching enviously as other in the same field flourish.  K. has much more talent than others I know in their line of work, but I’ve never seen them try to move forward.  They keep waiting for people to come to them, and keeps growing in resentment as others hard work pays off.

I found myself similar circumstances recently.  One of my friends was talking about preparing a book for publication – something I’ve been talking about for a couple of years.  She asked for some direction and advice. As she talked excitedly about it I realized that I had been kind of slow – okay, okay, lazy – in my efforts in that area. I thought I had so far to go, but realized that I really was almost there.  As I spoke to her I was surprised at how much I actually did know about it and how close I was to being ready to take the next step. It would have been easy for me to feel threatened by her coming close into my territory.  I could have been discouraged that she was moving at a faster pace and could easily surpass me.  I could become resentful  that she is probably nearer our mutual goal than I am.  I could see her as competition that threatens my existence.

Instead I decided that I to take this as reinforcement and inspiration – a kick in the pants, if you will.  I invited her to the Northwest Christian Writer’s Association meetings and Writer’s Renewal.  I gave her ideas of what to do next and suggestions for her to research.  I want to encourage her as much as  possible to pursue her purpose and to equip her for it.  I also want to see it as healthy competition – not to be better than her, but to keep myself in top form as I pursue my purpose.  To make sure that I am doing and giving my best towards my own goals, but with the realization that I am not the only game in town but am willing to help others succeed – even to a higher level then me.  I want her to be successful.  I want me to be successful.  It can be mutual.  In fact it must be mutual.


if you are true

What I Learned from My Mistake (It’s Not What You Think)


I made a mistake this week that has stayed with me, but not for the reason you may think.

I was singing with a quartet at a public venue.  One of the songs we do is an a capella rendition of Oh Come Emmanuel which is quite beautiful and haunting.  In the middle I have a couple of solo soprano notes, the last of which is the note everyone else keys off of for the next part of the tune. I sang that second note wrong.  In the split second (which was to me an eternity of self-flagellation) my three colleagues took a beat and then recovered as only seasoned veterans are able. Very few in the audience realized what had happened.  I felt like crying – first for missing a note I had never missed before, and second for the complete grace that was shown me by my friends.  When our set was done I apologized to them and each was completely kind and forgiving.  Yes, I had made a mistake.  And we recovered together. That did two things for me.  One, it made me want to keep singing with them.  If they had degraded me, I would have had a hard time continuing with the group.  Two, when I started to keep hold of the humiliation I felt, I had to ask myself, “What would I say to someone else who made a mistake?”  I would also be kind and forgiving and encouraging – so I had to do that for myself. Since I was already thinking of the application for this in pursuing my life’s purpose,  a Sunday morning sermon on Making Mistakes  made my ears perk up.  The pastor used a variation on a certain phrase several times – about how when you create an atmosphere that fears making mistakes, you kill creativity and risk taking. I recalled several times when I was on the job and made mistakes that were somewhat more serious than a missed musical note and impacted more than just a few people.eraser

The times I was berated and the mistake was held over my head, I was terrified to try again.   When the mistake was acknowledged, discussed, and released, I would willingly try again, and sometimes even come up with a better way to approach it. To me there is an emphasis in my musical experience, the sermon, and my work experience.  That emphasis is on relationship.  When those in a relationship have a culture of forgiveness and acceptance and camaraderie, the mistake – even though it may be great – becomes easier to overcome and creates a connection, a bond if you will, as you work together to overcome it and prevent it from happening again.   And when you live and work in that kind of environment, it will rub off in how you treat yourself when you make a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes – so expect them along the way as you pursue your purpose.  But do something for me:  If someone else makes one, be kind and gracious  and intentional in helping the person recover.  Change the atmosphere for someone.  When you do make one, ask yourself, “How would I respond to someone else who did this?”  Be kind and gracious and intentional in helping yourself recover.  Change the atmosphere you have created for yourself.


“Don’t be afraid to take God-led risks, eliminating regrets. There is enough life in you to do all you desire… everything is gain, including the hard times.” (Jevon Bolden)


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