Fighting the Rut

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Thirty Days To Change Your Story – Day 30

Fighting the Rut


Thirty days have come and gone…

And I want to gush about it, using lots of shrill adjectives and big hand gestures.

Not because it was wonderful and dreamy…because mostly it was hard, harder, hardest.

What I learned more than anything?

The human spirit might want to be glorious and reach for the stars, but the human brain wants to stay fat, lazy, mean, stupid, rebellious, contrary, unimaginative, stuck, ratted and rutted.  It doesn’t want to try, it doesn’t want to succeed, and it most certainly doesn’t want to come near to glorious.

Every good thing that a human does, every kindness, every determination, every goal and endeavor is squeezed out through the sweaty rivulets in the fight against itself.

There is no one born to greatness, there is no one who has an edge or an advantage or a secret weapon.

There are only fighters…fighters who are scared of being the same as they were yesterday.  Battle-worn warriors chased by the fear of what they have come from.  With wolves nipping at their heels, they look ahead to the looming dragon of change and decide to fight it rather than be overcome by those chasing devils that want to drag them back to the rut.

Change is scary hard…and the desire for it is born out of desperation.

Almost every day of those thirty days I cried…tears of defeat, of loneliness, of fear…all the things that make us turn back in the dark.

That big voice kept shouting, “Can’t-won’t-don’t-even-think-about-it-pain-fear is COMING.”  “Go back…for your own good, go back.”

In the heat of the battle, I sounded like a baby, “Take me back to the rut!”

And you may be thinking this sounds like a corny adventure novel, rather than an almost-old woman trying to change her story.

But you see, what I discovered is what every moviemaker and fiction writer knows…life becomes an adventure during the desperate times.  That’s when things start to get interesting.

 to be continued…


Do It Now

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Thirty Days To Change Your Story – Day 25

Do It Now


Way back when I was young…long before I was almost old, a beloved college roommate took me to spend Christmas holiday with her family in sunny California.

It was a double treat for this Montana girl.  The first treat was enjoying a Christmas that didn’t involve heavy coats, mittens, hats, snowplows, and winter tires for the car.

The second and best treat was being with a family as different from my own as the weather was different from Montana.

I was smitten…and went on to spend more holidays with them, learning how to live more deeply, laugh lots and give back well.

But back to that first Christmas.  After the presents were loudly and laughingly opened and dinner was eaten, the momma of the house pulled me aside to explain her gift to me.

It was a puzzle, for sure…a marble-based letter holder with brass cutout words ‘Do It Now’ acting as the holder front.  And although I loved any gift she might give to me, it did seem an odd choice for a college student.

She explained that she bought the gift with purpose, after hearing of my penchant for procrastination and indecisiveness, and thought maybe a constant reminder to ‘do it now’ might help me seize the moment, not put off, just take a step.

It was a seed planted, way back when I was young, and not almost old.

And now today, after fifteen cross-country and cross-town moves that have gradually winnowed my possessions to the barest and most treasured…the ‘Do It Now’ letter holder sits front and center on my desk, where it has sat in every house, every state and every circumstance of my life.

do it now

Why?  Because those evil twins, procrastination and indecisiveness, do battle with my mind every day…still.  The now-worn letter holder is a reminder to do battle back, more fiercely every day…for the days are numbered.

Do It Now…and it will change your story.


In her blog, Christina Gaofalo, founder of Serendipidty Labs, quotes Doris Lessing, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in Literature, 2007:

“Whatever you are meant to do, do it now.  The conditions are always impossible.”

Want to Create Better Habits?

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Day 18 – Thirty Days to Change Your Story

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. – Aristotle

Years ago I had the opportunity to participate in a beta test about habits, led by BJ Digg, a professor who runs the Persuasive Technology Lab at Stanford.  In the years since, BJ has discovered a lot about creating and breaking habits.

Interestingly, motivation isn’t the primary key in changing habits.

Want to learn the secret?

Join one of BJ Fogg’s sessions of Tiny Habits by clicking here.

Let me know how it goes, will you?

The Default Life: Who Wants It?

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Day 17: Thirty Days to Change Your Story

Are Your Dreams Coming True?

It turns out that every person fills their head about what could be that is not.

Every person.

From the four year old in Anchorage, Alaska who determinedly strides through the day wearing a Superman cape, to the man gazing out his window in Kansas City, silently and achingly wondering is there is still time to carve out a memorable legacy after a life of eighty years.

The great drive of the human spirit is to matter…to make a difference…to fill our intended spot.

Why, then, does this human spirit, driven by the hope of a superman-ish future, a better story, a meaningful life get pulverized into stuck-ness, ruts, and hopelessness?

During my Thirty Days to Change Your Story, I have discovered something incredible.

As much as the human spirit longs for and wants change, there is a great battle and revolt inside that very spirit…an insidious, passive-aggressive type of revolt that knows the weak buttons, understands the handicaps and can throw a paralyzing doubt blanket to snuff out any dream embers.

And wouldn’t you know… it turns out that the comfort of stuck-ness, the deeper-the-better ruts and the leaning into the hopelessness-of-the-same is powerful…and can be more powerful than all the wanting of all the dreams of all the people.

It turns out that wanting and dreaming aren’t enough…a person has to fight.  And the weird thing is, the fight is mostly against against ourself.  Every minute, every hour, every day, the ‘default-life’ button must be cordoned off in our minds with yellow police tape, like a CSI crime scene.

The most important thing I’ve learned in Thirty Days to Change Your Story is it takes a military brigade effort to manage the cordoned off life-default poison that wants to live comfortably in your mind and heart.

And so, I’ve hired military to police my line…I listen to these people, read what they write, and follow their stories.  Most of them I’ve never met, aren’t collecting a military salary, and won’t ever know the job for which they’ve been commissioned.

But my heroes, my mentors, my military brigade have kept the line so I can’t lay down in the recliner next to my own life-default button.

I’m indebted to each of them.

  • Donald Miller – Storyline: he says it is possible to change my story, and I am telling myself every day to believe in this person I’ve never met.
  • Gretchen Rubin – The Happiness Project:  idea girl, fellow Seth Godin groupie and researcher of things that change our habits and then our minds.
  •  Dr. Caroline Leaf – 21 Days to Detox Your Brain:  the research is impressive, made more profound by introducing the work of the Holy Spirit.
  • Dustin and Courtney Koctar –  Stories We Tell: two average people who said yes to God.  They asked to change their story…wow, did God ever take them up on it.
  • Carrie Vitt – Deliciously Organic: health issues forced Carrie to change her eating habits, and she shares savvy third generation cooking expertise and wisdom, making gluten-free easier and understandable for the rest of us.
  • Leslie Yarbrough – my courageous daughter who is going to battle every day for a different story.  My heart is infused with courage watching her.

Thirteen ferocious battle days to go, alongside a military brigade of great force, all for the chance at a different story.

Change Your Story By Changing Your Mind

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Want to change your story?  Then change your mind.

Dr. Caroline Leaf has spent decades studying the fascinating processes of the mind.  She believes the landscape of the brain can be redesigned with the simple, yet challenging act of changing our thoughts.  She has led thousands of people through a deliberate process of changing their thinking patterns.

Deliberate is the key word here.  Taking thoughts captive, ‘rewiring’ circuitry, and habitually discarding toxic thoughts with healthy thoughts takes time and intentionality.

No drifting when a person wants to change their mind.

Dr. Leaf’s bold claims sound at once simple, preposterous and hope-filled.

And so, with a mixture of hope and skepticism, Dr. Leaf’s 21-Day Detox has been added to the to-do list for Thirty Days to Change Your Story.

What do you think?  Can a person change their story simply by changing their mind?


  • The List (

Line Quality

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Day 9 – Thirty Days to Change Your Story:

After months of struggling with speed of our home Internet, I finally called our Internet provider to see what could be done.  The person on the phone said there was a ‘line quality’ issue, which would need to be resolved by a technician.

Hmmm…after all these months of troubleshooting, resigning myself, troubleshooting again, and resigning again, the problem turns out to be a line quality issue.  I had been looking for an answer in all the wrong places.

The very next day a technician turned our irritatingly slow Internet into a beautiful, blazing-fast marvel.

Thirty minutes of his work versus three months of mine!

For three months I’ve been troubleshooting our grindingly slow Internet by looking through support group discussions, help columns, etc.  And each time I would start the troubleshooting session, a little voice inside my head would whisper, “Why don’t you call an expert?”  But I dismissed that little voice, thinking it would take too much time, be too much trouble, or too much effort…always supposing the answer to my internet problem would be right around the internet-support-group corner.

When the technician left us with with a fixed and blazing-fast Internet, it was a teaching moment in the Thirty Days to Change Your Story adventure.  I pondered the idea of line quality, wondering if that concept could be transferred to other areas in my life that don’t seem to work right, are lagging, or not performing at 100%.

What experts are out there who can help?

What areas of thinking or behaving have become unhelpful patterns?  Patterns that aren’t solving the problem and in fact, may be creating more problems?

I mean, with only thirty days to change my story, everything needs to be held under the microscope, right?

Time to create another list.

I’m calling the list ‘Line Quality Issues’.

What about you…do you have any line quality issues?

Do You Hear the Music?

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Day Four – How To Change Your Story


Can you hear it?

The Christmas music is coming…rounding the bend just out of sight, melodies floating out in front.

My favorite time of year are those brief few weeks of anticipation for the Thanksgiving and Christmas season…those dreaming days before the rush actually begins, when thoughts go to cozy fireplaces, afghans, slippers, cocoa and family.

The anticipation…my heart melts.

So, I turn on the Christmas music and revel in it!

This year, again, my favorite is Silent Night by Sixpence None the Richer.

What is your favorite Christmas song this season?