Letter #639: Documentation vs. Experience

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Dear documenting,

We’re so worried about you that we often forget to experience.

Ben worked at K-West and Kanakuk is a huge fan of his. This concert was a mini Kanakuk reunion (from 12-year-olds to college students to young professionals like me!). Blair & SK….K-West OU staff girls!!!

You know what I’m talking about. The cold meal you ate because you were instagramming your animal style In-and-Out burger. The one handed catch you watched on Sportscenter’s Top Ten highlight reel because you missed it live attempting to film the game-changing moment. The conversations you bypassed with a friend you’ll only see once this year when you stopped at Chick-fil-A passing through their town on a road trip because you’re so worried about taking the perfect picture.

We miss so many moments because we care so much more about having proof.

Last weekend I went to a Ben Rector concert. My friends and I were the oldest people at the show outside of the moms who brought their 13 year olds. As I took in the concert from a spacious viewing area (zero desire to be in the middle of a bunch of sweaty high schoolers!), I couldn’t help but notice the hover of rectangle lights above the crowd.

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Before I go any farther, you need to know his show is fabulous! He sounds awesome live, is a great conversationalist between songs and the people and atmosphere at his shows are just fun. Love this guy’s music A LOT.

You see, I’d guess that at any given time 65% of the audience was recording Ben’s performance rather than enjoying Ben’s performance. 65%. I took video to send a couple friends who weren’t able to attend and instagrammed my night, so I’m not against documenting.

What I am saying is I watched 1,800 people experience about 35% of a phenomenal show while they documented the rest. And for what? So other people can see how “great’ our lives are?

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You see all those rectangle lights?! This was actually even a minimal moment.

We so often care more about documenting for everyone else to see that we completely miss what’s right in front of us.

I’m all for pictures. I want to have memories to look back on for sure. But I also want to experience the moments and live my life. I want my burger to be warm, my games to be viewed live and my friends to be valued by my intentionality. I want to be in the 35%. And I believe we’d all enjoy life more if we focused as much on our experiences as we did on our documentation of them.

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My cute cousins who go to OU…show was in Norman!

Document quickly and carry on (Ben’s playing his I Wanna Dance with Somebody cover, and it’s time to dance!),

Experiencer before documenter

Letter #631: Discipline Despite Chaos

Dear discipline,

I need you to be implemented in my life now more than ever. Today, I start my traveling adventures. While fun will absolutely be had, chaos undoubtedly will also ensue.

Drive. Drive some more. Stop and eat. Drive. More driving. Arrive at show. Tell people about Kanakuk. Interview. Finish late. Eat dinner. Hang out with staff. Sleep”…not very much. Early wake up. Breakfast with staff. Interview. Lunch. Drive. Drive. Arrive at show. Do it all over again.

You are SO hard to maintain. In every area of life. Exercise. Sleep. Food choices. Way time is spent.

But really, I’m not sure you’re ever easy. Discipline is a combination of big picture vision with moment by moment choice. And I’m going to need lots of in the moment choices to maintain any form of you during the ensuing chaos.

Thus, I’ve created some big picture vision for myself and am committed to being faithful in the little along the way. Sure, chaos will occur. I will do grown up early mornings on top of late night college nights.

But really, I’m not sure you’re ever any different. You are never easy. You’re always a choice. And not just one choice that lasts for months but rather hundreds of choices”…

So the chaos begins. As does the adventure. As does a great test of how much I truly value you. It’s one thing to be disciplined in a controlled environment. It’s a whole new ballgame to be disciplined when you control very few variables in your daily schedule.

Chaos cannot define me. If it does, I’ll never sleep, eat a bunch of crap without working out, gain 15 pounds of late night pizza and ice cream, never spend alone time and be miserable for the next six weeks. I need discipline, but it’s on me to implement it or not. Just like it’s up to you to practice it in your life, no matter what your life looks like.

Here’s to instilling and executing discipline despite circumstances,

The girl who needs discipline

Letter #621: The Little Things…

Dear decisions,

You don’t just decide what you want your life to look like in 20 years, wake up and it happens. Honestly life isn’t made up of too many big decisions, but rather thousands upon thousands of little ones.

I didn’t just get offered a job. Instead, I worked many summers through college and proved myself to be a worthwhile hire. Today at 26, many of the ones I made of you years ago are why I have the job I have today. Had I been a lazy, lack of integrity 19 or 20-year-old staff girl, I’d never be doing the job I am today.

A few posts ago we celebrated me being debt free. Holla”…still stoked about this one! I didn’t eliminate $18,000 of debt overnight. #nonprofitprobs Instead, small choices daily turned into monthly payments which eventually resulted in 18 grand.

Whatever area of life it is, I am here to tell you that we have to choose in the moments. Nothing is going to come easy. Nothing. We have to fight, battle and go to war with creating disciplines in our lives.

In every area. Working out. Eating healthier. Waking up on time. Not texting and driving. Prioritizing our time. Being intentional to shift conversation to things of eternal significance. Finances. None of these things just happen. We must choose in the moments and let the little add up to make a big difference.

Oh, this gets me fired up!!! Choose in the moments. Be a person of integrity and someone who values the little things.

This being said, after my debt free post multiple people asked me how I did it. Over a series of posts, I’d love to share a few really simple insights. Today I’ll start with two.

1)   Every little bit helps.

Even when you only have $5 extra, put it toward your debt. Five bucks isn’t much but it’s still $5. You see, I don’t make much money. I work for a nonprofit. And for one year of the about three it took me to pay off my debt, I was an intern. Large amounts of money weren’t coming in (still aren’t), so they for sure weren’t going out. Yet, turning down an Andy’s run here, a movie there and unnecessary new shoes adds up. I promise you can do it. I also promise that life is expensive and ending up with hundreds of extra dollars each month isn’t easy. Finally, I promise every little bit helps.

2)   Make conscious choices.

This goes hand in hand with the first point. You must choose that you want to get out of debt, then put feet to execution. Choose Great Value over name brand. Choose to walk. Choose to go to ice cream with friends but just hang out”…don’t be lame and let your choices to be wise with money tell you that you can’t have a social life. This is not true. But like my friend Dave Ramsey says, we have to choose to “live like no one else if we want to live like no one else.’ Being debt free is fun, but you have to choose to get and stay there.

Life is full of little things adding up and being the big things. Michael Jordan had to tie his shoes properly every game he played. Little thing. He is now the greatest basketball player ever. Little become big. Start small. Choose in the moments. This applies to debt, but more importantly, to every area of life.

Decide now and choose wisely,

Little things lady

***The rest of my financial tips will come in the next few posts. Stay tuned.***