Tag Archives: counseling

The lie we love to believe about why we fail at our goals – #FinishYear 2012

Photo courtesy of graur razvan ionut via freedigitalphotos.net

This week, you are likely reading a variety of posts about how to follow-through, commit-to, or stick-with your New Year’s Resolutions.  You will also likely read posts about the pitfalls to our plans that cause many “resolvers” (is that even a word?) to “give up” by right around Valentine’s Day (a third won’t even make it to the end of January).

We are really good about making ourselves feel better about that failure.  We tell ourselves lots of things in order to soften the sting of not being able to do what we said that we would do, especially in the presence of such an overwhelming body of knowledge and expertise in the world on goal-setting and follow-through.

There is a lie that is being overlooked, and it is a lie that we tell ourselves every day – so comfortably, so naturally, that the perceived truth of this lie permeates most ideas about time management in general.

There aren’t enough hours in the day.

This is a lie. Continue reading


30 While 30: Day 166 – Sweet Interruption…

I feel I owe some kind of explanation to the folks that follow this blog.  While back in June, I would have thought I would have been able to cross off #26 (Blog regularly.), it seems that the months of July and August (at least so far) have been fraught with interruptions.  To be honest, I am into the meat of a lot of these things.  For example:

1. I am in the gym at 500am Monday-Friday, doing a myriad of things.  Having finished Belly-Off Diet, and Turbulence Training, for the last two months, I have been to the YMCA a lot.  I am doing interval weight training on my main days, and on my off-days, doing interval running to train for the races.  Days that I miss my morning routine, I generally am there in the afternoons, with the Family.

2. Weight loss has stagnated at right about 21 pounds.  I would by lying if I told you that wasn’t frustrated with that fact.  I can’t seem to figure it out.  I will admit, I have backslidden a few times in my eating plan, and paid the price, but I can’t figure out what’s going on there.  In leiu of figuring out, I am still pounding the weights and the treadmill, in preparation for my first 5k of the season, in September.

3. I have earnestly begun looking through the notes on my Paw Paw’s book (see #29 Finish my Paw Paw’s Book).  That is going to be a feat.  The story has some promise, but at first, I am working on copying the manuscripts outright.  My Paw Paw didn’t have the most elegant handwriting, so it is taking some time.

4. I am kinda stuck in my most recent book, Drive, by Daniel Pink.  About 1/3 of the way in, I am wondering how many different ways he can say how important activating people’s intrinsic motivation is (For the purposes of personal and business success).  I get it.  It’s just a slow read.

5.  I am prepping for September, which will be the month of no meat (for #24 Go vegetarian for a month.).  A post next week on that … but I think the month of September might just be worse than the half marathon, maybe even harder.

So …. I have been busy.  Busy doing the things on the list, and not so much been able to write much about what I am experiencing.

And then there are the interruptions.

-Two weeks ago, a friend from school passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.  I wrote briefly about him here, but find the words lacking.  What resounds more is the overwhelming understanding of how short and how precious life is.

-On the morning after that event, I traveled to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, TN to be with my family as my grandmother passed away.  I was honored to speak at her funeral, as I had been as well for her husband, my Paw Paw, just 18 short months ago.

-In my line of work, I don’t often work in the evenings, or on the weekends.  There was surely a season of that in my career, but the occurrences are fewer and farther between.  The last two weeks has seen me working and extra 25 hours or so, due to special duties.  Some weekends, and some early mornings (as I tweeted about this past week).

. . .

So even the best laid plans are sometimes impacted by the gears of life turning.

It is easy to be frustrated with little interruptions in life.

The salesman at the door.

The unexpected traffic.

The phone call that you feel you should have just left for voice mail.

It’s easy to be frustrated by these interruptions, because we always seem to have the most well-laid plans.

Regardless of that, I was reminded by a post from a blogger that I follow, Rachel Held Evans, who shares that in our walks, we should embrace the unexpected moments in life.

You can read the post here.

We should embrace those interruptions because those unexpected moments are often the ones that contain the true purpose of that moment, or of that day.  Not only that, but if you read this and you are a follower of Christ, you also know that Christ often moved from interruption to interruption … and that’s often when he did his best work.  Countless times would he be summoned here or there, and if they couldn’t get Jesus to come to them, they would just bring the interruption to Jesus, even if it meant tearing off a roof, and lowering the interruption right down into Jesus’ lap.

You see, interruptions are at times the lifeblood of what makes life exciting, real, and engaging.  Think about how boring life would be if it all actually went according to plan.

Painful, that boredom.

Well, the fact is that I need to be more accepting of interruptions.  I need to be more open to the possibility that my path may be heading one direction, only to hit a bump and head the other way.  I need to be open to interruptions, lest I miss out on the wonder that today actually holds.

Even if that means the blog doesn’t get posted to, or a goal sets on the side.

Yeah, I said it.

Doesn’t make much sense when this whole year is about accomplishing all these important, amazing, meaningful, or silly things on this list.

Until you realize that it makes perfect sense.

Up until this point in my life, there have been idols, things that have taken the wrong place of importance in my life.  These have been (in no particular order): Work, entertainment, food, laziness, and ambition (and I am for sure I am leaving some out, and I count on my friends to share with me the ones I missed).

If I let this list (for the sake of the list) take up one of those same pedestals, I have missed the point of this entire exercise.

Life is a process, a “going through”.  It is not a checklist.  Granted, I know this seems odd coming from a guy who has openly committed on the internet to complete a list of things while he is 30, but the list was a jumpstart.

The list is me throwing interruptions into my own life.

So, I take no shame if there are gaps on the posting, if I fall off the wagon while dieting and exercising, if I have to walk a little bit on the half-marathon in December.  The story of this blog is not one of a “super-person”, a “biggest loser”, or other sensational story.  This story is the everyman.  The reality that we all face as we look to tomorrow and wonder where yesterday went.

So, tomorrow, I look forward to the interruptions … they are bound to make this story more exciting.


30 While 30: Day 145 – In the most unexpected of places ….

10:15PM, CST

A post at an odd time.  Many of you won’t even see this until the morning.  That’s ok.  This is a bit of a weird post.

That’s ok too.

You see, this was not the post I planned to make.  That one is saved for another day.

You know what else wasn’t planned?

That one of my most popular blog posts was about a little yellow bear, a bit out of his element.

The fact is, that little yellow bear has gotten me more traffic than any other single post on my blog.

Odd, isn’t it?  Also a bit unexpected.

The best things in life are unexpected – because there were no expectations.” – Eli Khamarov

What else is unexpected?

Well, today, of all days, of all times of my wife’s recent encouragement, I picked up my guitar today and played.  Not just played, but played ALOT. … and she isn’t even here, instead is out of town with the boys for a thirty-one party.


Unexpected is defined as when you hide all the pacifiers from your two year old (when he really only uses one for sleep) and on his second day without one, he waddles downstairs in the morning with nothing else than a paci in his mouth.  Where did that come from?


Unexpected is putting in your old 4-track CD that you made (in part) for an ex-girlfriend, and iTunes attempts to name the songs … then, somehow … it does … only the titles and composer (not me, by the way, according to iTunes) are in Spanish.  Um …. yeah.


Unexpected is sometimes is waking up at 30 … or 15 … or 65 … and wondering how you got there and how you might just not be the person you imagined yourself to be all those years earlier.  It is the definition of mid-life crisis.  “Am I today who I thought yesterday I would be today?” … Confusing, I know.  Life can be that way.  Y’know, let me take off some of the burden for you.  Let me share with you who I was going to be at different ages.

Age 8 – In the third grade, we completed these little “life-books” about our interests and what we wanted to be when we grew up.  Me? (and I quote) “I want to be in the Army … and married”.  You must understand that when I was in the third grade, we were going through the first gulf war, patriotism was running high, and being in a military infused community (though my parents were not active duty), made it all more red, white, and blue.  Pictured on the cover, by the way, was an old Game Boy.  Not these new fancy ones … one of the old black and white ones.  Epic.

Age 17 – I was a smart guy.  I mean, in high school, I really didn’t take a book home … ever.  Well, maybe to study for finals.  School just came naturally to me.  I was ranked academically 4th in my graduating class.  Because I was naturally gifted in Math and Science, my Guidance counselor recommended that I go to Tennessee Technological University.  I was going to be an engineer.

Age 18 (6 months into my freshman year at college) – I get a D in Calculus.  Actually, I was sure I had an F.  I knew enough about math to at least do that.  I remember writing my Calculus professor a letter, pleading with him to give me a D, and with a promise to retake the class, seeing as if I made an F, my GPA would fall low enough for me to lose my scholarship paying for my room and board.  An F would have flunked a really smart guy right out of college in his first semester.  I slipped the note under his door after for sure, failing his final exam.  My professor surely showed me grace.  That next semester, I would take a Sociology class.

Age 19 – I would profess in front of my home congregation my desire to go into “full time” ministry.  I was going to be a pastor.  By now, I am leading worship at the Wesley Foundation, and am president of the same organization.  That year, I would fly to a conference in Dallas Texas for up and coming students with the “call to ministry”.  At 19 I was serious about marrying a girl attending school 4 hours from me.

Age 20 – I would apply to Southwestern Theological University … and be accepted.  I would travel with my then girlfriend (who was a keeper, and ended up being my wife) and actually visit the campus in Dallas.  That same year, I would turn down that acceptance.  That year, I would come to a crisis of thought.  I would beat myself up, thinking I was “going back on God” that I was “lying to myself”.  The decision was made, that the path to pastoral care was not where my talents would be best be used.  I would take a job at 21 with the Department of Children’s Services.  This is where my path would begin as a life of caring for the “least of these”.

Age 21 – I would apply to graduate school for counseling.  I would begin a job (at Youth Villages) that for the next three years would do two things: 1) Teach me more things in that short time than I have learned since about counseling, managing people, marketing, clinical supervision, and agency politics and 2) What my limits as an employee, a husband … and within that time, a father, were.  At age 24, I would be one of the youngest (maybe the actual youngest) person within the company to be a Regional Supervisor, being responsible for the implementation of our program over a 15 county area, supervising between 9-12 therapists and 2-3 clinical supervisors in my time.  But that job was not for me.


Unexpected that today, I am a licensed professional counselor, working with children and families of active duty Army Service Members, that I continue to aspire to work and help those whose only church they might visit is my office (which doesn’t have a steeple, by the way), that I am married to an amazing woman and have the most amazing two boys.

Not to be too cryptic ….

but how unexpected is it that where I am “supposed to be” is right where I am right now?

This week, I encourage all of you, take joy in today.

Yesterday brought you to today, and tomorrow will be cast forward out of it.  What you do in the middle makes all the difference.

And sometimes you don’t know what that difference will be until many, many todays later.


30 While 30: Day 138 – Never stop learning … because noone expects a Spanish Inquisition

Photo courtesy from shirtoid.com

(Because of some recent warnings from my wife on copyright issues with blogs, I am trying to be more careful on what I use here at Thomsthoughts.  If you are interested in the clip from which this phrase was used, simply search on Youtube for “Monty Python Spanish Inquisition” … It. Is. Hilarious. … in a British sort of way)

Recently read this story about the United States post office.  In short, based on usage, costs, and business model, the USPS could go down to as low as 3 days of service a week within the next 15 years.

This got me thinking.  Why is the Post Office having so much trouble?

Well, lets look at what services the Postal Service provides, and how there are many different ways to do those things today versus yesterday.

  1. Sending packages – Aside from the impeccable service that the USPS provides to our military personnel overseas, FedEx and UPS, both privately run, publicly traded companies, are increasing market share in this process, often doing it cheaper, faster, and more reliably than the US Postal Service.
  2. Paying bills – I just payed my last bill for the month.  Let me tell you how these played out: 1) Electric Bill – hand delivered.  2) Water – mailed.  3) At&t (Cellphone) – iPhone app  4) Charter (cable) – online  5) Mortgage – online. 6) Lease payment – hand delivered.  One … one out of those I place in the mail.  All of the other have a less expensive or more convenient option for payment.
  3. Sending lettersUm … anyone heard of e-mail?  In conversation with a friend at work, she shared that while e-mail has been reducing the need for stamped mail in comparison to a year ago, that there is a certain “feel” to writing a letter in your own handwriting.  Did you know that you can make your handwriting into a font?  Granted, you’re reading a post from someone who has specifically on his list to write 30 handwritten letters to people that have impacted him.  There is a “feel” to it.  Even so, “feelings” aren’t the best premise for business growth … well, maybe for TUMS, not necessarily the US Postal Service.
  4. Mailing of contracts or other important original documents – Aside from #1 above, with the fact that overnight and express mail has been mastered by other private enterprises, many important documents have been digitized.  Several times even in the last week, as I complete graduate school applications and fill out a leave request form, I sign my name digitally, using technology through Adobe.

The point?

At one time, the United States Postal Service was the best at doing what it did … At one time.  It isn’t anymore.

Also in the last few weeks, Netflix (a popular way to get media – movies and teleivion shows – for home veiwing) reported that they were going to be raising their rates, as reported in a story here.  Now lots of folks are upset by this change in rates (increase of about 60%), but I will allude to how ridiculous that is in a minute.

Also recently reported, Redbox (oh how I loooooove Redbox) is increasing in it’s market share (as in 35% of total DVD rentals), demonstrating an effective method of renting movies with almost no staff, and relying on almost total automation.

But I have a question for you:

When’s the last time you stopped at a Blockbuster or Hollywood Video to rent a new release movie?

Yeah.  Seriously.  Remember when about 10 years ago, it would cost you $5 for a 48-hour rental, that would beat you up on late charges if you didn’t get it back on time?  (As I alluded to earlier … you netflixers … the increase really isn’t that horrible, is it? – and if you don’t like it, visit a redbox … or soon, stream from one)

No one expects a Spanish Inquisition.

Now, some people have the skill to anticipate market and resource changes and can capitalize on them.  Life Coaching is a great example.  This is a profession, largely unregulated from it’s similar or related professions (counseling, psychotherapy, etc.), that has exploded in the last 10 years or so, all based on the premise of helping ordinarily well-functioning individuals plan for their life and reach their personal goals.  It is a lucrative endeavor.

It’s not just that.  It’s Google.  It’s Hulu.  It’s Thirty-One.  Name them.  Name the businesses, ideas, and advances that weren’t present even 10 years ago.

You can’t ever stop learning.

Read a book. Take a class. Learn a trade.  Apprentice with a master.  Experience new things.  Consider your purpose.  Always commit to learning.

I consider myself a life-learner.  As I prepare two graduate school applications for a late fall deadline, I have those good feelings creeping up again.  Feelings of excitement and anticipation of sitting in a classroom and of listening to someone about something I may know little about.  I love learning.  I have a growing list of books that I am trying to read in this year.  I have subscribed to about a dozen RSS feeds, and dozens of Twitter’ers (sp?) because for a while, I though I was capped.  Sure, that sounds arrogant, but when you have excelled to a degree of plateau in your profession (independently licensed in a terminal degree) you tend to think “you’re there”.

Well, you’re never “there”.

Don’t be Blockbuster Video.  Be the next Redbox.

Don’t be the Postal Service.  Be the next Fedex.

Don’t be the person you were yesterday.  Be the person you will be 10 years from now … today.


(Disclaimer – In no way do I mean to portray a disdain for the honor and diligence of the US Postal Service.  My comparisons are simply a result of their current operational and business paradigms, not a testament to their continuing work helping people communicate with others and get things where they need to be)

30 While 30: Day 126(7) – Have a little help from my (blogging) friends…

(As it was mentioned over twitter, I am unsure about what happenned to this post.  Regardless, I am using it today as my Wednesday + “Book Review” post.  Enjoy!) 

Today, I wanted to share with you some of the blogs out on the interwebs that I am currently following (or attempting to follow).

In my progress on #26 and #27, I have greatly increased the amount of content I read digitally.  Not so much books (like I do with my Kindle app on my iPad – by the way which is awesome – especially while running on the treadmill … no annoying pages to turn), but moreso small batches of content, blogs, articles, and news.  All of this really in an effort to learn as much as I can in a short amount of time, find ideas for articles on this blog, and to increase my eposure to other ideas out there about personal development and change, especially as it relates to this year-long experiement I am enduring.

(Disclaimer: I do not endorse any of these officially, and to be honest, some of them are very new to me.  You are getting a real glimpse of where I am and what I am looking at, and at the stage I am at. Read: figuring out if these are even worth reading in the first place.  They are also in no particular order, and this isn’t even a complete list … yikes!) Continue reading

Take a moment, smell the roses, and watch a movie …

As I write this (Tuesday), a fever has me in the bed.  It’s been passed from Wesley, to Daniel, I think that Summer has it now … and my turn is just beginning.  Let’s hope the stomach cramps stay away.

Aaaaaaaaanyways ……

Sometimes, when working on anything important, it’s time to take a break.  Even if that means interrupting your 430am wake-up calls to go to the YMCA, sometimes you have to just take a break.  You have to breathe to take the next steps.  Especially when marching up a mountain.

So, simply for today, a recommendation … of a movie:

It’s Kind of a Funny Story.

A movie that I plan to own, and plan to use if this career of mine ever dips back into the teaching and mentoring of other counselors.  It’s just a movie about perspective, and about enjoying and seeing the importance of simple things.

So, like me: take a break.  Put on your flannel pajama pants (ok, maybe that was a little too much) crawl into bed (ok, for sure too much that time), and enjoy something simple.