In this Voice Studio episode, Andrea discusses the one thing you need to be sure to bring to every conversation of intentional friendship.
Mentioned in this episode:
Episode 21: How to Find People to Challenge You to be Your Best with Laurie Hock
In this Voice Studio episode, Andrea discusses the one thing you need to be sure to bring to every conversation of intentional friendship.
Mentioned in this episode:
Episode 21: How to Find People to Challenge You to be Your Best with Laurie Hock
“I wasn’t depressed anymore, but I wasn’t happy either. I wasn’t sure what I was.”
– Unfrozen prologue (read it by clicking –> here<–)
I can tell you one thing I was. I was cold. It didn’t come out all of the time. Of course, I shared as much warmth as I could with the outside world by engaging with people in heart to heart conversations and mustering up as much kindness as possible. But when I was warm to the outside world, it was like I depleted my resources so when I got home I had very little warmth to give my family. It made sense, in a way. They asked more from me than anyone else. When I was around them I felt like a failure because they needed things from me I wasn’t sure I could give. So every request for me to meet their needs felt like a neon sign flashing “FAILURE! FAILURE! FAILURE!” I knew I shouldn’t resent my family for highlighting my weaknesses, but that knowledge only made me feel shame for the fact that I often did. It was a spiral of self-centered self-hatred and bitterness.
*Don’t miss out on the contest at the bottom of this post!!!*
When H2O is in it’s liquid form, it can flow freely, in and out of the spaces open to its movement. But when it freezes, it’s stuck. It might clunk around from place to place, but it doesn’t move freely and it keeps it’s goodness to itself.
The life-blood of our hearts is like that. When our hearts are hard, it’s difficult or even impossible to give or receive love.
When I think of that frozen kind of feeling, I think of a coldness of heart. I think of a heart that is so scared of being further wounded that it hunkers down or runs away from the threat of pressure or shame. The frozen heart feels paralyzed, isolated or trapped.
And when I feel trapped, I feel like there’s no way out.
Wherever you are right now, you are not stuck. You may have given up on the idea of being open to giving and receiving love. You may feel you have no choice but to hunker down or run away. But you do have a choice. The beauty of the image of a frozen heart is that all it needs is warmth to get back to the free-flow of love. And that warmth can come with a gradual change in temperature or it can come in instant waves of heat.
One of the first things that has helped me in the thawing of my own heart is to come out of isolation and bring my heart into the light. But that was the last thing I wanted to do. I didn’t want to admit how fragile I was and then be vulnerable to the possibility of being broken. I didn’t want to admit how ugly I felt inside and then be vulnerable to judgment and shame.
I wanted to watch NCIS and Castle and eat away my longing. Sometimes I still do.
But that’s not the answer. We need a safe haven for our hearts. An environment where we can lift our eyes to see one another – to come out of hiding and gently begin to share the truth of what we think and feel.
The very first image of Disney’s Frozen is the image of huge saws ripping through a thick layer of ice and a chorus of men singing about the dangers of a frozen heart. Then they claim that the frozen heart is worth mining.
Your heart is worth mining. Your heart is invaluable and you have an immeasurable amount of love to offer others. But you have to take the first step.
You have to decide that your heart is worth mining.
I long to see your heart thaw so you can give and receive love freely. I long to keep mine soft and open. I long for my daughter to have a foundation for understanding that she doesn’t have to hide in the cold and become paralyzed by the fear that once trapped me.
That’s why I wrote Unfrozen: Stop Holding Back and Release the Real You. I wrote it to:
I also want to offer you the opportunity to create your own safe space to vulnerably share and connect with others. That’s why I’m creating a free video discussion guide based on imagery from the movie and personal stories. You can use it with or without the book but it is a great companion to the book. The features of this special video discussion guide are:
If you would like to check out the Unfrozen Video Discussion Guide, sign up Start Here to receive notification when it’s available and access into the private Unfrozen Community group next week. Only people who sign up through this link or enrolled in the video discussion guide will be able to enter the group.
Enter to win one of 3 packages (including the Unfrozen audiobook & audio of Unfrozen keynote speech, etc. – a $27 value) by doing the following by Monday, August 30th:
**Previous winners are allowed to enter into this new drawing.***
Do you have a dream? Do you think about what could or should be? If so, you may just be an idealist who longs for Utopia, a heaven on earth where perfect peace and justice reign.
It’s not easy being a dreamer.
At some point people and the world will disappoint you. Leaders cheat. Gunmen take out dozens of unsuspecting people in the blink of an eye. Friends speak harsh words to one another, wounding each other at the core. Families rip apart over pain and betrayal.
Good people suffer at the hands of other good people, making us wonder why we say they are “good” in the first place.
And when an idealist encounters the heart-wrenching, back-breaking, soul-searching painful realities of life, they begin to wonder, “Why bother dreaming of something better? It will never happen, anyway.”
Friends, that’s one reason why some of the beautiful idealists you know are so often depressed. I know. When I realized that I wasn’t the ideal me I wanted to be and I didn’t have the power to make the world the ideal world I believed it could be, I gave up trying.
Why bother with futile dreams?
I talk about this more in my upcoming book UNFROZEN, but there came a point where I had to find a deeper truth to sustain me through the heartache of life. It came down to this:
No amount of joy in this world could overcome the heartache of never achieving the ideal. But being a living, breathing display of God’s love to the world…now THAT was something I could live for.
While I am usually frustrated with anything less than the ideal, it’s often that frustration that motivates me to stand up and make a difference in the world. I see potential everywhere. Nothing and no one is without hope, until my world crushes in on me and I stop believing in dreams.
Will we refuse to acknowledge the pain of this world? Will we succomb to the heartbreak and get lost in the loss of what “could have been”? Or will we sacrifice our need to make everything ideal so we can offer who we are to the world anyway?
Sometimes it’s easier to settle for being happy over making a difference.
Sometimes it’s easier to give up.
But not you. You have it in you to let go of your need for everything to be ideal so you can offer the best of who you are to make the world a better place, anyway.
I created something to give you the opportunity to discuss what it means for idealists to face the hard truth.
Download this discussion/reflection guide for Disney’s Zootopia.
She walked across the street, brow pursed as she stared at the ground. Our once exuberant 6-year-old threw irritable glances at her brother as soon as she got into the car. I couldn’t figure it out. What was going on at school that made her so upset? She loved kindergarten and the first half of first grade, but as she got into the second semester, her after-school outlook dimmed.
A year later her 2nd grade teacher informed us that she was beginning to lose ground in reading and comprehension. As words got smaller and closer together, she struggled more. Her self-confidence and love for school diminished. That’s when Aaron decided it was time for a more thorough eye exam. We found out that our daughter could see 20/20 when tested, but her eye muscles were working so hard that she easily became fatigued and words began to float on the page. We tried special glasses for a year. Amelia struggled to keep them on and I struggled to remind her. Then last week we went back to the eye doctor and decided it was time for eye therapy: computer-led exercises 20 minutes a day and therapy with the doctor once every 3 weeks.
My enthusiasm for helping our daughter turned into anxiety as we hit the road for our two hour trip home. How could I possibly motivate her to do exercises that cause her discomfort every day? I haven’t even been able to keep track of her reading log for school or help her stick to a routine for practicing piano. I’m horrid at keeping routines and the kids know it. The dark sky around us loomed as I asked the kids if they had any ideas for how we would fit eye therapy into our day. They seemed as lost and defeated as I felt.
But as we turned onto the interstate, I turned a corner in my mind. I was preparing to speak the next morning about how what we say to ourselves about ourselves is important. I know what it’s like to beat myself down for my lack of a detailed routine and focus. And I know that beating myself down never makes me perform better. Instead, with self-shame I become self-focused and I lose my ability to offer myself to my family. I wanted to search deep for words that are more true than, “I’ll never be able to do this. Other moms would do a better job at providing what my kids need.”
As I searched for truer words, I recalled a phrase I learned from a friend of mine who knows about walking through life, confronting hard things as a mother. I took a deep breath and with Kimberlye Berg’s words in my mind I said, “You know what, kids? We are going to figure this out. We are smart. We are creative. And we can do hard things. We’re going to come up with a plan to fit it all in and we are going to stick to it, even when it gets hard.”
Something about saying those words changed my perspective. I felt like a grown up. I felt like a mom who refuses to be tossed around by expectations and chooses to serve her family with purpose. And I knew that in order to accomplish our goals for the next few months, our whole family would need to be more intentional about our routine. That which changes one of us must change us all.
The next night I outlined our weekly schedule and determined how to fit in the things we want to accomplish, as well as the things we want to enjoy. It requires me to get up and go to bed much earlier than I prefer. It requires Aaron and I to be more intentional about planning out our work time and family time when we usually prefer to do whatever feels right day-to-day. But you know what? I believe that we can do it. Because we can do hard things when we decide the benefits are worth the sacrifice. We can do hard things for one another.
This morning I woke up at 5:30 and desperately wanted to roll over and go back to sleep. But my determination to lead our kids by example propelled me to the gym so I could come back and start the day with our kids. Even if Amelia doesn’t gain ground in reading, I’m hopeful that she will gain confidence in the next few months and retain an important lesson: “I can do hard things.”
You can too.
Read more about replacing self-shaming words with powerful words in my article for Her View From Home this week: How I Lost and Found My Dignity
Read more about Kimberlye Berg in Book Impact: Schema Of A Soul
Read more about: Vision Therapy
It was time for bed and my daughter was distraught, “It could happen anywhere!” She overheard the news about Paris that morning and then managed to avoid thinking about it. But when the hubbub of the day calmed at bedtime, she had nowhere to run. Fear chased her down and mocked her. My sweet 8-year-old begged me for a distraction, “What can I do so I don’t have to think about it? I’m too young to know about stuff like this!”
Aren’t we all? I don’t know anyone old enough to be comfortable with the possibility that a gunman could come into a restaurant and take us out while we’re enjoying a glass of wine. And who is mature enough to handle the picture of a real-live human being strapping explosives on their chest and pushing a button that scatters pieces of their insides throughout a crowd of unsuspecting people?
I don’t blame my daughter for wanting a distraction.
I totally understand why she feels afraid. In the moment of my daughter’s intense fear, I felt confronted with my own. I know what it’s like to be taunted by the terrifying possibilities of what might happen. I experience it more often than I’d like to admit and all too often I get the feeling that something is chasing me down. In times like those I need a distraction to help bring me back into balance.
But there is an art to the use of distraction.
Distractions are helpful in moments of distress. Sometimes I need to shift my focus so I can stay calm and think clearly. In those moments I need a distraction to help diminish the fear I feel. But when I continue to use them to avoid thinking about painful things altogether, distractions increase my fear.
Because monsters are more frightening when they are hiding under the bed.
So this night when fear was mocking my daughter, I knew what she needed. She needed me to look under the bed – to give her the opportunity to bring her deep doubts, questions and fears into the light so she could see that they aren’t the big monsters she imagined them to be.
“Ask any question you want, Amelia.” The next hour was a beautiful outpouring of real, deep and intense questions. I hardly answered any of them. She didn’t really need answers, nor could she probably have handled it all. She just needed to know that it’s OK to ask the questions.
I savored every moment. When all was said and done I asked, “How did it feel to ask so many tough questions, Amelia?”
“It felt kind of good – you know – not to hold them back.”
Doesn’t it, though?
Holding back or distracting ourselves from the fear of pain isn’t necessarily a bad thing in the moment, until holding-back becomes locking-in. Avoiding. Refusing to be honest with ourselves, God and others. Fear feeds on secrecy and avoidance. So perhaps one of the most merciful things we can do for one another is to invite fear into the light.
Find a few Words To Say when you’re left speechless. Grab your free mini-eBook today and be the first to know when my book is released. Click Here
Purpose and calling may not always have a measurable reward. Stay at home parents know exactly what I’m talking about. The day-to-day humdrum of life keeps beating and they keep-on keepin’-on without financial reward or recognition for their often extraordinary efforts to fend off tantrums, sickness and boredom. Some of the most important jobs are not paid.
Over a year ago I desired to spend time on a curriculum on friendship that I’ve been developing for forever. Aaron and I looked at our schedule and decided that I would spend time working on it while our youngest was in preschool. Expending time and energy on it felt self-indulgent until I started thinking of writing as a part-time “job.” We decided to devote job-like time to it because it was that important to us. I wasn’t getting paid to do it, but thinking of it as my job to read, think, write and teach was freeing! It was like stretching out in a big soft bed after having been cooped up in a box – a little bit of pain, a lot of relief.
I don’t know if we really had a choice about how much time I could spend on this sort of thing while the kids were tiny. Though I’m sure I could have, I’m not going to say I should have done it a different way or that anyone who feels boxed up doesn’t have to maintain their responsibilities. I don’t want to turn stretching into running away from responsibilities for me or you. I don’t want to neglect my kids when I’m with them or prioritize writing over my family.
But I do want to prioritize it. I do want to take a hard look at the week and our commitments with my husband and come up with ways that we can each find time to stretch into who we are. The fact is that I am a better mom, wife and friend when I stretch out into these other parts of me. Most of the time I have more energy, focus and momentum to carry out my responsibilities. And when that happens, my perspective sees beyond the tantrum or barking dogs and I interact knowing that hard moment will pass.
Things that feel self-indulgent might actually help me fulfill my calling as a family girl and a writer.
When my husband and I work together to consider how we want to spend our time, we become mutually invested in each other’s growth and purpose in life.
Sometimes that means we don’t get what we think we want coming into the conversation because through open discussion we realize we want something else even more – time together, sanity for our partner or maybe just rest. Great team-building conversations are open like that. They aren’t demanding, they seek the best for everyone. Of course, not all of our conversations are like that! But when they are, great things happen for both of us and we strengthen our team.
Tackle It Together: Discussion ideas to explore with someone you love.
1 – What “you” sort of thing would you do if you had more time or energy? How would it help you stretch into who you are so you can offer more of YOU to the world?
2 – What box are you cooped up in? Where is there room to stretch while still maintaining your responsibilities/prioritites? What could you cut so you can add something more important to you? (Sometimes saying “yes” means saying “no” to something wonderful!) What things could you set aside for now or for the evening or for the week?
3 – If you live or work with your loved-one, how can you work together to accomplish other tasks or provide specialized time or encouragement for you to each stretch into who you are? (Maybe it’s 30 minutes, maybe it’s a whole weekend! What works this week, in this stage of life?)
I hope we can look at those we love and with all our hearts be able to say: Stretch into you like it’s your job (even if it’s a very-part-time job).
What would you do more of if you could call it your job? Let me know in the comments here or on Facebook.
The world came to a screeching halt as all eyes turned on me and I turned beet red. “Is she supposed to sing that loud?” My worst junior high fears were coming true in the middle of the music room. My voice was too much. Our teacher disagreed with my classmate and we moved on, but I took note:
Don’t stand out or someone might call you out, Andrea.
Indeed, they may. This very point is one reason why I struggle so much with figuring out what to say and how to say it and why it took me so long to start writing. But here I am. I’m sure it means that eventually I’ll be called out for one thing or another. But I’m at a point that I’d rather speak up for others than hide from them.
I wonder if the possibility of getting called out is why so many people hold back when they have something real to say in conversation? It seems safer to blend in unnoticed than go “off-script” and say something that questions the status quo and makes people think. Maybe we all have a tendency to get stuck in the unofficial script written by the tribe around us. It’s nice to have social norms to help us know how to interact with others, but there are times those norms become a cover for the real voice inside.
Perhaps when someone asks how are you, you say “fine.” But what if you’re not fine?
Maybe when you tell someone you are struggling, you say “but God is good.” But what if your heart really isn’t sure of God’s goodness in the midst of your brutal struggle?
What about the times when someone gives you a compliment and you say you’re “no big deal?” What if you really are a big deal and saying you’re not is saying your friend doesn’t know what they’re talking about?
I know a lot of amazing people. If I’ve met you, you’re one of them. (If I haven’t, I hope to get the privilege someday.) And each of these amazing people are way more amazing when they use the voice of their hearts instead of simply saying what they’re supposed to say.
I know a lot of people who are quiet. I love those people. They seem to have wisdom I long to hear. Quiet wisdom is powerful, but there is a difference between quiet and silent. Many people have great things to say but hold back because they are afraid of standing out for fear that they might be called out for rocking the boat or upsetting someone else.
It’s hard to know when to go off script, but I would like to suggest a few times when it’s good to say what’s on your heart. Find “Words To Say” that go with these situations by subscribing to my weekly email “Voice Lessons”.
If you want to connect with others and nourish their souls, try going off-script in these situations:
I realize that going off-script in these moments can be really difficult. That’s why I created a little list of things you could say in each of these instances called, “Words To Say: 25 Sayings for Awkward Moments.” You can have this pdf to print or keep on your computer or phone, along with a weekly email from me offering resources and inspiration to help us communicate in life-giving ways that make deep impact. Find it by clicking here: Words To Say.
Please share this post with others who might be interested. I am hoping to give another 30 copies away this week. I will have more to share very soon!
I realize it’s hard to find real friends. I’ve heard a lot of complaints over the years about how people don’t really listen, they don’t really care and they don’t really want to connect deeply. But I believe that while it may seem that way on the surface, there are actually WAY more lonely people longing to connect than we realize.
Yesterday one of my articles ran with Her View From Home. The point of the article is this: there are more kindred spirits out there than you probably realize, but it takes courage to find them. I offer some suggestions about how to do so: (click here to read the article and share it if you think it might help someone.)
We are all different on the surface. Our differences are enormous. Different genders, religions, cultures, stages of life, hobbies, interests, etc. The list is not infinite, but it seems like it is. With all of those differences, how could we ever find someone like us? How could we ever find a kindred spirit?
Let me tell you! By focusing on our humanity. What makes us all human? We all have bodies, thoughts, feelings, goals, longings and deep fears. And we all need love. But you’ll only have surface-relationships if you only talk about surface things. You will keep feeling alone and distant from everyone else if you try to “fit in” by doing what others do and saying what others say. No. If you want to actually connect and be known, if you really don’t want to feel alone, you’ve got to be brave and get to the heart.
Simply being there to listen and see the insides of a person is helpful. You don’t have to change them. Simply inviting a friend out of the darkness of secrecy and shame and into the light where they are loved can change a life! There may be a time for advice, but stick with the 80/20 rule. Listen and acknowledge 80% of the time and then when it feels like the other person is ready, go ahead and offer your wisdom – but only about 20% of the time. If you meet their pain with your wisdom all or most of the time, they’ll start to feel disrespected and tune you out.
Don’t give up on finding kindred spirits. Don’t give up on connecting and love and hope and the power of loving people right where they are.
Do you know those days where you push toward a goal with everything you have and you come to the dark hours of night thinking you’ll give a little more and then, you realize that it’s OK to press pause?
So I will. But before I do, I have something I want to say to you.
Tonight I’m that good, “gave it all I had today,” kind of weary. That, “I’ve got nothing left to give,” kind of exhausted. That, “I care too much about this to give it less than my best,” kind of foggy.
And at the same time I have that strong, “This could make such a difference in people’s lives,” kind of faith. That, “If nothing else I hope they feel my love for them,” kind of hope. That, “I’d do it over and over for the heart of the one who needs to hear they matter” kind of love.
So I press pause tonight, knowing that we’ll do it again tomorrow and the next day and the next until this message reaches every heart it can.
Because your voice matters.
Good night, deep friend.
I wonder if this day marks the beginning of the end of a fairy tale. You may know the one I’m thinking of – the one where the young knight is inflicted with a paralyzing wound that can only be healed by a kiss.
A mother’s kiss.
It’s a fairy tale, but somehow the power of this special magic has instantly stopped end-of-the-world screams for help. It’s completely blocked floodgates of tears on the spot. It’s turned a paralyzed boy on his heals and turned him into a knight ready to fight again.
Today I walked my little guy into kindergarten. My bright, confident, enthusiastic, sensitive boy. The paperwork I handed his teacher answered the question “What are your concerns?”
I said that I’m concerned he will get upset and think he needs me to be there to comfort him. Sometimes he runs away and hides under our bed when he’s upset. Sometimes he refuses to talk when his feelings are hurt. And mom is the only person he will engage.
But as I sit here this morning, searching for the truth inside my heart, I am realizing I’m not really concerned about all that. Honestly, I’m more concerned that when he gets hurt he will realize he doesn’t need me to be OK. I’m sad that my special magic is sure to lose it’s power as he grows up and into an independent young man.
I don’t know how many times I’ve kissed his boo boos. Probably two a day for 6 years. Let’s see…that would be over 4,000 magical kisses. That’s a lot of power for one person to wield.
It’s a lot of power to hand back.
I’m guessing my kissing-booboo-days are numbered. I will take his cue to know when it’s time to settle for a hug, to stay in my seat when he falls on the field, to bless him when he finds someone else to adore.
He may forget my kisses, but I pray that his heart will always remember the power of a loving, tender connection in life’s most difficult moments. And I pray he will use that knowledge to fight for the hearts of others with all of his bright, confident, enthusiastic, senstive self.
For more about this topic click here: (What The “Movie Move” Means To a 5 Year Old)