For When You Just Can’t Let it Go

They’re searching for Amelia Earhart again. They call her disappearance “one of the most enduring mysteries in aviation history.” I certainly can’t argue with that.

Some unknowns are just too hard to let go.

Hilton Head

Standing on the beach as the sun lifted over the water this morning, I thought of a few things I’d like to leave behind, a few mysteries I’d like to stop trying to figure out. But as we headed back to the house through the sand after over an hour of quiet, I realized I was still carrying some things with me.

For a moment, shame stomped on the floor of my soul. Gotcha.

But I remember how Jesus goes with me even when I’m not yet able to release everything. Just as the sun will rise up in the morning, he will go with me wherever I go, even when I’m carrying a burden I know better than to carry.

Vacation plays tricks on you, tempts you to believe that rest will come if only you show up in a beautiful place. Even though I know this isn’t true, sometimes I’m still surprised by it. Today at (in)courage, I’m sharing a few good reminders for your soul (but mostly for mine) about vacation. Join me there?

Permission to be Unremarkable Today

Last night we made fish tacos and talked about the day while slicing tomatoes and warming beans. It was a good day, a full day, a hard day in part. We ate together at the table like usual, making plans for summer.

5 copy 2

After dinner John took two to the pool while our first-born twin, stayed home by choice and loaded the dishwasher. I left the kitchen and played Chasing Cars on the piano. I’ve been playing a little every night after dinner, finding comfort in the simple melodies I know by heart and the easy chords my hands gravitate towards, mainly the key of C.

Yesterday was difficult for reasons I’m not sure. Everyday in a thousand ways we see pain and injustice in a broken world pushed around by fear. I see it in myself too, how fear bullies me into corners.

But we have many exciting, fun things on the horizon for our kids, our family, and for me. Still, it’s good to remember how fun and excitement can live in the same house as anxiety, and that beautiful parts of life don’t cancel out the hard ones.

It helped to process some of that through conversation with John as well as through music. Sometimes the wrestling that happens beneath skin and bone takes a heavier toll on the body than physical wrestling ever could. And music has the ability to travel through small spaces that conversation can’t quite reach.

As I sat in front of the keys the phrase came to my mind – at least tomorrow is Tuesday.

Weird, right? But Tuesday is the most ordinary day of the week and when you’re hanging on to the tension of excitement and sorrow, that can be a comfort. Tuesday gives me permission to be unremarkable.

Maybe this simple Tuesday perspective is beginning to take root.

Later today I’ll share a little more about what has me jazzed this week. Two posts in one day?! That never happens.

Because June is as Good as January for Setting an Intention

Hopefully everything you read here will help to create space for your soul to breathe, no matter if I write it or if I invite someone else in. That’s why I’m happy to welcome Claire Diaz-Ortiz to the blog today. I love Claire’s gentle reminder that you don’t have to wait until January to be intentional about your life. Here’s one simple way to do that today.

Like most of us, I want to be happier. Whether it’s waking up with more spark or going to bed more satisfied with my day, I want to open my life to the opportunity for greater joy.

As such, I love to read books about happiness. Gretchen Rubin has written a few of those, and in one of them she recommends a small, powerful idea that has taken hold to become a big, strong force in my own life.

The Importance of Setting an Intention

That idea is to choose a word each and every year that represents the year you have in front of you. Rather, to choose a word for your year. (Oh, and take a cue from Gretchen: years don’t need to start in January.)

Choose one single word that imbues the type of year you wish to have, one word that can serve as a guidepost for what you want in the season to come. A singular word you can always harken back to in moments of darkness and doubt. One word that informs your decisions, crystalizes your passions and priorities, and embodies you—the new you!—in the months ahead.

Depending on the type of year you seek, there are many words that can do the trick. Words like Move, Pause, Breathe, Dance, Less, Family, Health, Travel, and Choose all hold a certain special sauce.

The guidelines are simple. The word can be a verb or a noun. It can be a long word or a short word. But it is key that the word brings together everything you fervently hope to live and breathe in the year to come. One word to inform and synthesize the year you have ahead of you. One word to mean everything you want the year to be, and one word that will help serve as a guiding light when times get tough and you’re not clear on where your priorities are.

A few years ago, my word of the year was Rest.

It was a word that meant the world to me in that season of my life. I was harried and overwhelmed from a few too many years of corporate globetrotting, and I needed a daily reminder to do less. And so I did.

Although my Rest might not have been as restful as the Rest that some might be able to enjoy (I saw nary a beach that entire year), my word still served as a key force in getting me to slow down. It helped me to make decisions, and to keep in mind what was really important when difficult choices arose.

Should I go to that social event—or stay home? Should I say yes to what could be a great opportunity, or pass it up to wait for something better to come along? Should I travel to that work meeting—or call into it instead?

When life and work calls for us to be busy, it is hard to slow down. However, by attempting to make this word forefront in my mind, I sought to make small strides that would lead to notable changes and positive transformation. I knew I wouldn’t be perfect. I knew I would never get it 100 percent. But I did know that by setting the intention, I could make some progress.

In the end, I did. And you can, too. Set a word now, and watch your year rise up to take shape around it.

51be5Z-MwOLClaire Diaz-Ortiz is an author, speaker and Silicon Valley innovator who was an early employee at Twitter. Named one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company, she holds an MBA and other degrees from Stanford and Oxford and has been featured widely in print and broadcast media.

She writes a popular blog at and is the author of several books. The above is an excerpt from her latest book, The Better Life: Small Things You Can Do Right Where You Are.

Who Else Wants to Find Hope in the Dark?

We drove through dusk on I-85 several nights ago, the sun sinking behind the trees next to the highway. The car faced mostly north, the moon rising higher out my passenger side window. I kept my eyes trained on the clouds ahead of me, knowing it was only a matter of time before the setting sun sent her purple reflection to the sky across the way.

who else wants to find hope in the dark?
From the backseat the kids noticed me snapping photos and began to look around to see what was the big deal. That’s when they saw the sun setting out the opposite side of the car, color closing eyes, leaving behind a trail of glory.

My daughter grabbed her iPad and started snapping pictures, the longing to hold on to the beauty too strong to ignore. I could tell none of those photos would turn out – too many trees, not enough sky. Blurry, grainy, too far away.

But still, she continued to snap. Every time I look at it, it’s different, she said.

And so it was.

I had to crane my neck to see it, but I can tell you the sunset that night was stunning, all neon orange and pink light. The kids loved it. I did, too.

Mostly, though, I kept my eyes trained straight ahead in the direction opposite of that sun show. I watched the more gentle, unassuming, quiet rise of the moon.

moonrise over carolina

Words from a Walter de la Mare poem came to mind like they always do, lines I memorized years ago:

      Slowly, silently now the moon
      walks the night in her silver shoon;
      This way, and that, she peers and sees
      Silver fruit upon silver trees.

As we drove beneath the invisible arc between them, sun sinking and moon rising, I thought about all the ways I tend to look for the brightest light. I want to capture it, hold on to it, keep it close when I sense it sinking away.

But the darkness can be a kind companion as well, comforting and still. The moon reminded me of that, how it’s important to find a way to live with both, to find a way to walk between them without only facing one or the other.

The brilliant purple reflection I was hoping for in the eastern sky? It never really came. In her place, a soft gray quietly descended. I realized I was satisfied with that.

Sometimes we don’t know what we’re looking for until we find ourselves in the midst of it. And what we thought we wanted turns out to be not quite right.

Rejoice and lament, sacred shout and thoughtful silence. Hope and glory, all of it.

These posts come 2-3 times a week. Want them to slip quietly into your inbox? Simply sign up with your email address here and be sure to click “blog posts.” And if hope is something you’re fumbling through these days? Perhaps you’ll consider joining us over at Hope*ologie.