Normalizing Failure

Photo Cred: Amy Humphries

The number of times in my life that I have done anything at all, perfectly is approximately zero. I’ve done some things well, other things even better, but nothing in life have I executed or carried out perfectly. As a matter of fact, some things I’ve attempted in life… many things… I’ve absolutely failed in. I’ve failed to show up for friends and family when they’ve needed me. Failed in carrying out duties at work. Failed in my workouts and fitness life at times which I take pretty seriously as a lifestyle and habit.

And yet through my failures I’ve learned. Overcome. Transitioned. And grown. Through my failures I’ve seen things from a new perspective I didn’t know mattered. Through my failures I’ve been able to stand up and try again.

John Maxwell, a bestselling author and expert on leadership says, “A man must be big enough to admit his mistakes, smart enough to profit from them, and strong enough to correct them.”

Applying this concept to my life, I’d like to introduce the idea of failure being quite normal even freeing. Because in failure we get the chance and opportunity to try again and overcome.

An example of this could be a child learning how to read or trying a sport for the first time. It would be insane to expect that child to perform a new task perfectly. The beauty of being a child is they are given the right (for the most part) to make mistakes in things, learn consequences if there are any, and get better.

I remember my first swim meet ever, I was 7 years old, maybe 8, and was supposed to swim a 25-yard breaststroke. I got to the end of the lane and popped my head up, thrilled to see I had won. For all of 3 seconds when the person running the timer in my lane said I was disqualified. I actually swam freestyle, not breaststroke. Oops! I learned the lesson and never made the mistake again I don’t think through all my years on a swim team. I had failed. But no one held it against me.

So why would we hold failure against ourselves as adults? Why do we take such considerable strides to HIDE failure on social media and with friends and family? I’m all about putting our best foot forward in life, but what if that is actually crippling us at the end of the day rather than living authentically with our stories of not being where we want to be yet that could be encouraging and helpful to so many people.

I submit to you now that failure is more normal than carrying out any task in life perfectly.

I’d like to see failure normalized, not hidden behind pretty social media posts and trying to hide our faults and failures to the enormous extent that we do.

Another example comes from my own life with working out and Triathlons. I used to compete in regularly 1 to 2 times a year in Triathlons around the northeast of the US in new cities and towns each race. My first year I had a HORRIBLE race time. I put so much effort into training and making a goal time for the race, yet I completely blew it the day of the race. I briefly thought to myself “I’m not made to do Tris.” I almost gave up this hobby and lifestyle because of a bad race. It took about two weeks until I missed the swimming, biking, and running and chose instead to say, “Well, it seems I have a lot to learn and become better in with regards to workouts and training. I can do better next time.”

I think giving into the first statement, “I’m just not made to do this” isn’t going to help me win and become better at the next thing I choose to focus my time and energy on. It isn’t going to help me succeed. It isn’t going to help me really at all. Though I failed in reaching all of my goals that first race, I chose instead to see my end time as a reason to adjust, get educated on workouts, include other people in my training by talking to a couple of other athletes who had done way more racing than I ever have.

I chose to realize that “failure” was just a matter of personal definition, not an absolute that determined an end to something that I really enjoyed— in this case swimming, biking, and running—despite my slow pace and poor choices in the race that really set me back.

Normalizing failure for any and all can be a way to rethink failure in general. If you personally “did bad” in something— could be anything from baking a cake that turned out horribly that you meant to give to someone for a special occasion, to showing disruptive and “bad” behavior at an event that in retrospect you realize you shouldn’t have acted that way—and you choose instead to learn grow and change based off of that perceived failure, have you really failed at all?

I don’t know a single person on planet earth that has done ANYTHING perfectly in life. But everyone I know has messed up in big or small ways around me my whole life, including myself, and the world still moves on.

Instead of getting caught up with our failures, beating ourselves up, ruminating on went wrong, what if instead we chose to focus on the positive that might be a result of that failure? What if that time we didn’t show up as we should for someone we learn the art of apologizing and making amends? What if we recognize that no matter how old we are, we are fallible human beings and failing is a part of life. Failing is actually… normal… and can bring about positive change including overcoming obstacles and achieving greatness in some area.

This new year, let’s embrace our “failures” as we might call them and realize that as Maxwell said, “The only guarantee for failure is if we stop trying.”

As long as you admit the mistake, change the course, make a new decision next time you’re faced with a problem or dilemma that you “failed in” then truly failure isn’t the end of the story.

I’m sure many people are making new year’s resolutions and vowing changes for 2021. Let’s not see 2020 as a failure, but a year of learning and growth. Let’s choose to walk into 2021 refreshed for amazing opportunities that if we keep going, don’t give up, and try again in we can have the greatest personal success imaginable, no matter what our goals are be them relational, financial, spiritual, physical, or any area of life that you may be holding onto failure in.

There is always hope. There is always room for growth and change. There is always a new time to keep the faith and change the course for better next time. At the end of the day, without failure we will never fully understand the deep feelings that success brings.

The Biblical Side of Living Like a Glutton and The Fattened Calf Mentality

It’s holiday time and I couldn’t pick a better season to write this post that has been mulling around my mind for about two months. I’m glad I’m writing it today because of the timing of the year and I hope it brings encouragement and FREEDOM to your health, eating, and relationship with food… especially if you are like me at all and have struggled with eating in the past.

The Fattened Calf Mentality.

This is a term my brother said to me once and though I don’t recall how many years ago he and I discussed “the fattened calf way of eating” I can honestly say through the years it is the best mindset I’ve adopted when it comes to food. More on The Fattened Calf mentality in a second, but first a little history of my personal, messed up turned healthy, relationship with food.

I had struggled with what works for my body since middle school and though I eat healthy compared to many people around me, I’m sure I look like a pig compared to many others. Therefore, after finally finding a food lifestyle I am comfortable with in my late twenties, I realize how personal diet is and…

1) I don’t really care what other people eat and…

2) I don’t really care what other people think about what I eat…

After all even Jesus was accused of being a gluttonous, drunk (more on that momentarily).

Through the years, I’ve listened to and watched foodies, men and women in the fitness world, doctors who wrote books, food bloggers, and have done my own reading and research. I have accepted and rejected lots of information on food either by trial and error… actually consuming food, or by comparing and contrasting information without even picking up a fork.

My current diet works for me and that’s what counts. I love to share it with people, but it doesn’t even have a name, so therefore instead of telling you what to eat (though there are non-negotiables like you must eat multiple fruits and veggies daily to be healthy), the best takeaway after losing 20 lbs in 10 months and maintaining this new weight for about two years, is what I’ve adopted and call The Fattened Calf Mentality. With it, I feel good about myself almost every day with the eating part of the healthy lifestyle I try to maintain. Workouts are the other side of the same “Healthy Lifestyle Coin,” but are not what this post is about.

Food is very personal. Tastes, preferences, age, baseline health, cultures, family background, lifestyle, habits, education around eating, and so many other things play a role what you and I put into our bodies every day to keep them running—we hope at their optimum level. No two people eat exactly the same thing all the time, unless you’re pregnant and consider what you eat as the same as the baby within you. The Fattened Calf Mentality has less to do with what you are eating and more to do with how you are eating and therefore can apply to everyone. This is also why I won’t go into the specifics of what I eat on a day-to-day basis.

So, what is The Fattened Calf Mentality?

The Fattened Calf mentality comes from looking at the Bible and what Jesus, and everyone else, ate as a Jew living in the first century. I cannot talk about much of anything in my life without tying in the Bible. I cannot escape the value of a biblical worldview/perspective/ drawing from the history of the Bible and applying it to my life. So, if I’m being honest as I write this, I stole the concept directly from God and as I choose to believe, His Son, Jesus.

As I struggled to figure out how to get food to work for me years ago, I questioned how did Jesus “do food”? He was sinless so binging and purging, starvation, and gluttony weren’t things He sinned doing– like I seemed to struggle with daily. But did He starve himself as you and I might define starving or eat gluttonously in comparison to others? Maybe, yes, and I’m pretty sure there He was accused of BOTH things, plus being a drunk while on earth (Matthew 11:19).

In my dive into “the perfect diet,” I learned that Jesus consumed a Mediterranean diet, which from research AND personal experience is one of the best diets out there. You can Google what a Mediterranean diet is, but another key thing I learned is that as a Jew, one thing Jesus wouldn’t have eaten is pork. A number of cultures don’t eat port the way say, Americans do with their hams and bacon. If you do eat pork and it doesn’t cause any bloat, headaches, swelling, or anything else and you like it, great! Keep eating it. Again, this is NOT a how to on what to eat or not to eat. Just an important discovery of what I found and works for me ESPECIALLY AROUND THE HOLIDAYS. Additionally, Jesus also had his 12 disciples around him through most of the accounts we have, many of whom were fishermen. Jesus himself performed a miracle by feeding 5,000 people out of just 2 fish and 3 loaves of bread (Matthew 14:13-21). I truly love fish and seafood and don’t feel the need to cut that out of my diet as I slowly implement a more plant-based diet. Maybe someday, but not right now!

What is most interesting about the Bible when it talks about food is how much FEASTING there is all throughout the entire book. The old testament drips with talk of feasts and parties that God planned into the year to give people a break and let them… simply party. And from what I understand those parties lasted weeks sometimes. Gorging on food and drinks during seasonal planned events was a lifestyle. These times of feasting remind me very much of the holiday season we are currently in.

It’s interesting because as much as feasting was a part of the picture, so was fasting.  It’s just that we don’t hear about the fasting as much. It’s not really talked about. There are only a few verses in the new testament about fasting. But we know it happened. And for me personally, breakthrough occurred when I married these two concepts of feasting and fasting together and coming up with The Fattened Calf Mentality.

There is a time to fast. There is a time to withhold from eating. There is a time to give up. There is a time to be okay with being hungry. I think we have been lied to, through marketing, about needing to eat 3 times a day + snacks. When I embraced the idea of being hungry, that it’s actually really healthy for my body to be hungry, I felt better doing that act of letting my digestive system rest and refrain from eating. The health benefits of fasting are quite good for you. Just Google all the positive things that intermittent fasting can do for your body. Even a 24 or 36 hour fast to just rest your body and give it a break from all the digesting and breaking down it’s constantly doing from the generally heavy foods we dump into our systems, is cleansing and healing and has many health benefits. I choose to embrace hunger at times, to me it feels better than being stuffed.

But let’s not forget the feasting. If you shock your body with too much food every once in a while, this can actually jump start your metabolism to kick it up a notch and burn more. Also, food produces dopamine and serotonin—naturally produced chemicals in your brain that simply make you feel “happy!” This is science. But beyond the science, feasting and parties are historically and culturally important around the world. Why does so much of our world revolve around food? Feasting is important and over doing it with food is actually… okay, I think. I used to beat myself up when I ate too much, but not anymore. I appreciate knowing that God blessed me with too much food to enjoy. Gosh, what’s better than a good meal with awesome people?

And for me, though refrain from many foods and am slowly walking into a more plant-based diet, I can’t forget The Fattened Calf.

One story Jesus tells his followers is of the “prodigal son” who leaves his family trying to make it on his own. Definitely paraphrasing here, but the son ran out of money, spending it on women and booze, and was too embarrassed after going broke to return home. He got a job at a pig farm, and because he was starving would eat the pig slop he fed the pigs because he had nothing else. Eventually he realized that the servants that took care of his Dad’s property were taken better care of than his current situation. He decided to go home and see if his Dad would hire him to work his property after so many months away.

The Dad who loved his son waited months for his return. And that particular day, seeing his son a long way off coming up to the property, ran for him. He hugged his dirty, smelly son, and the moment called for a party. He ordered the fattened calf to be killed. Though I don’t fully understand the historical and cultural meaning behind the fattened calf, I’ve heard it was a big deal. (The story comes from Luke 15.)

I’ve learned that there are times and seasons each year to go crazy and eat big, binging and having a good time. There are times to kill the fattened calf and enjoy it. Then, there are other times to fast, embrace being hungry, and refrain from eating the same way as the kings of the world through history. (Seriously only kings though time ate the way our first world nations eat and it’s crazy the surplus of food we consume.)

There is so much more I could say on The Fattened Calf Mentality that I’ve adopted when considering food consumption in my life, but I will end it there for now.

Diet and food are complex. But by simplifying it to the one phrase has helped me grow in leaps and bounds by having a healthier relationship with food. I know I can enjoy food to its fullest, like now, during this holiday season, while making fasting as much a part of my life, if not more, at other times. After unpacking my research and history, I’m hoping this post brings freedom to those who are controlling, strict, and limited with eating as I used to be– and shed light on how we can enjoy food, and drinking even (without actually becoming gluttonous-drunks).

My encouragement is this: be cognizant of what you eat, you only have one body and need to take care of it. But be sure to recognize, embrace, and celebrate those fattened calf moments in life and consume food that you normally wouldn’t– like meat, wine, and an extra dessert– without guilt.

Candy vs Soul Food Relationships

Anyone who knows me well, also knows the value I put on health, wellness, and disease prevention. I do this through whole food, high nutrition eating and a balanced weekly workout routine. These things are fundamental to who I am and how I function on a day-to-day basis.

A prime example of how seriously I take my physical health and wellness lifestyle is this: In 2018-2019 I lived in Madrid, Spain for almost a year. I would drag a small suitcase through the Metro and city streets, EVERY SING DAY, to and from class, the gym, and home… filled with healthy snacks, my gym clothes and shoes, and my laptop. I didn’t have a car to haul it all in, and working out and eating right are just that important. When I moved back to the US from Spain, I ditched the suitcase, but continued my daily walks, working out at 6 AM without fail, plus gravel and road biking on the weekends. I’ve kept up with this lifestyle from the time I was in middle school and high school, active in sports and learning to appreciate salads and vegetables as a meal, not just a side every once in a while.

For as much as I pursue and put time, energy, and effort into my physical health and wellbeing, I can’t say I have always done the same when it came to pursing romantic relationships.

I had written this post for a group of women, The Higher View, about a month ago, just before getting married, and felt compelled to turn it into a personal blog post, which I am finally doing today… three weeks after getting married.

SO, here goes with the initial post!


I think in light of getting married this week, this post shared by a friend stood out to me and I wanted to pass along the concept. Hoping it brings encouragement to single ladies, or anyone struggling with friendships or other relationships in general!


Candy vs Soul Food in Relationships.

Are we entertaining relationships and people that are producing FRUIT? The good, life producing, healthy and wholesome food that we need to survive? Or are we entertaining the sweet looking, tantalizing, fake candy “food” that does no good for us? The latter may cause more harm in the long run as it brings a sugar rush and high, and then leaves us worn out and burnt out with the drop in levels when it’s all over.

The same friend that posted this [quote] graphic told me something years ago that helped get me where I am today in not chasing fake relationships with guys, but instead to go after the life giving kind.

We were at some restaurant, having our fill of chips, guac, and margaritas. I was bemoaning some guy and she encouraged me to look at his fruit, checking in with God about it. When I did that, it turns out he wasn’t producing any fruit despite me wanting and wishing it.

NOW, years later, I’m about to get married to a man with a generous heart and kind soul. He’s pursing God. He treats strangers with love and looks out for his friends and family. I think of my friend’s wisdom often. And the change happened in myself first in what kind of men I was willing to feed my soul with.

Real “Soul Food” relationships will be filled with Fruit that satisfies as they are connected to the One who gives true life. They won’t leave you crashing and burning. Just like we choose what eat and what we put in our bodies daily- junk or whole foods- which determines the health of our physical bodies, we can choose who to put ourselves around, talk to, and entertain on a daily basis. Are they connected to the Vine and producing fruit? If not, you may want to let them go and pursue healthier people who do.

Don’t neglect your soul and what you are feeding it with via the relationships you have!


Jesus’ says in Mathew 7: 15-20 about knowing a person by their fruits.

Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.

The fruit of a person is life building or soul crushing. Let’s be wise and as much we pursue bodily health, let’s take care of our souls by what and who we are feeding them with.

Held Back By Money… or Not?

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I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time. For two years now, I’ve pondered the words my older brother said to me when I was considering grad school, but concerned about the cost, he said, “Don’t ever let money be the reason to do, or not do something.”

It was a statement of freedom. Of empowerment. That money doesn’t have to dictate my choices. He followed the comment with, “There is so much money in the world, and if God really wants you to do something, He’ll provide the money to make it happen.”

I did end up going to grad school, and just five months out of student life, back at work, it seems I’ve settled back into a mindset of “well I don’t have money, so I can’t” and “I’m living a poor person life right now, sorry” and “I wish I could take trips like them.”

Money is important, and we need to live within our means. The repercussion of spending what we do not have could wind us up in a position of vulnerability, debt, and destitution.

That said, living like a “poor person” is a mentality and lifestyle that goes beyond mere frugality. It’s the opposite of empowering and is a self-inflicted state of being that gets rid of choices, and puts you at the disposal of others.

I feel the crunch of getting out of debt, living paycheck to paycheck, and wanting to save up in order to move on to a new market where I can make a decent wage for my degrees and experience. But, I’m not going to get there by living as a victim to my circumstances and with the mentality that I’m poor.

I’ve yet to see a paycheck for my work, yet I’ve published a book that a whole slew of people have bought. I’ve gotten engaged, and used mileage built up via credit, to make the flights possible on my most recent trip to see my fiancé in his country. I can buy groceries every week, put gas in my car, and pay all the car bills that make it possible for me to get to work each week.

I’m not poor.

Nothing about what I do in my daily life depends on other’s charity.

And after paying another round of payments off with my last piddly squat paycheck, I know that as long as I continue to dream big, and however slow or fast make moves of living my best life, money has no authority over what I can and cannot do with my life.

God knows the plans He has for me. And I will continue to prosper under His hand, knowing full well He has all authority to give me more or take it all away, like Job, the wealthiest man of his day from the Bible, who at God’s allowance, lost EVERYTHING including his children. Imagine losing your home, money, job, and children, and health all in the same week. Job lived through it and came out more blessed on the other side as he trusted God during the process.

God’s perspective is higher than mine, and He sees what I need and how he’ll provide, before I do. So far, He’s been gracious to give me a job to at least be making something during this transition period after grad school, but I know this is not the end. It can’t be. I need more and I ask him every day to show me the jobs I should be applying for that pay in a way that I can be a blessing to people, instead of a burden.

On the flipside, when a high paying job presents itself to me, I don’t want money to be the sole purpose of taking it. As my brother said, “Don’t ever let money be the reason to do, or not do something.” I want to be passionate about my work, not just take a higher paying one for the paychecks.

Money shouldn’t be the reason (a reason, yes, but not the ultimate reason) for making any life changing decisions. DO YOUR LIFE. Think about what you want, then go for it!

Live the life you want, now.

Be happy, now.

Be debt free, now.

Give generously, now.

Set goals, and then achieve them, now.

Money isn’t the mindset and lifestyle that will allow you or I to live your best life. It is a part of it, but money never needs to hold us back.

The Cost of Money and The Blessing of Less

 

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Photo Cred: Katie Harp

Everything comes at a price they say. The water we drink, the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the education we get, the entertainment we buy, the technology we use, who we put ourselves around because of how we spend our money. And the more money we have, the more we can eat, watch, consume, buy, waste…

I’m a lucky one. And to be honest it doesn’t matter what living conditions you had in the United States, if you were born and raised in the USA you are a lucky one too. With the highest GDP in the world, the US is one of the strongest leaders in technology, business, investment, and “getting rich” in the world. And think about the 1,000s of people trying to enter the US right now. No. It isn’t perfect. But, yes, if you grew up there your life was ‘better’ than most of the rest of the world and this is how I know:

I moved to Spain a few months ago now and started classes at an international business school in Madrid. Here, I’ve met people from all over the world, and it has been wonderful. But while in school, I’ve realized that though everyone comes from different places, I’m meeting a certain “type” and “class” of people from all over the world. The wealthy 1%. Columbians, Indians, Venezuelans, Spaniards, Australians, Scandinavians, South Africans, and people from so many other countries across the world, I’m meeting the type and class of people who can afford a top-notch master’s program in Europe and all of the costs that come with it.

And that’s how I know that coming from a middle class family in the States, the USA is rich.

When I hear on Facebook people in the US complaining about their quality of life I ask why? Because you have freedom to choose a profession? Because you GET to go to school, and work without force, and have freedom to worship whatever deity you so choose? Because you get to buy a new TV and phone every year? And can afford Netflix, internet, data plans, and food? Because you have a place to live that you can afford, even if you don’t like the price?

You see, it’s EASY to want more. It’s easy to play the “if only” game and then feel sorry for ourselves. I know this because I just caught myself doing it a few weeks ago.

“If only I earned more…” “If only the government didn’t take so much tax out…” “If only my car insurance didn’t cost so much…” “If only I had more money so I could…” What? So, you could… what? Truly what would more get you?

Probably a lot. More money could get you a lot more. But a lot more of what?

Where are you putting your money? What are you spending your time doing because of your money? Investing? Giving? Entertainment? A new couch, because the old one is dated? A bigger house because each kid deserves their own room? Do you ever just buy someone a little gift at work, like a cup of coffee or lunch just because? Do you ever say, no don’t worry about Venmo-ing me this time, I know you’re going through stuff?

The reason I ask these questions is because of my current Spain situation. I don’t have “extra” I have enough.

I have enough for rent, for groceries on a budget, minutes for my phone, and enough to take a few trips while I am in Spain to other countries… I believe that to not take extra trips would be a waste while I am on this side of the pond.

But here is the thing, a few weeks ago I was PISSED. I was jealous of people around me who are planning weekend trips every weekend, shopping for fun, and can afford better apartments closer to the school. I was angry at my tight, gotta watch every penny budget. Until I realized something.

My tight, gotta watch every penny budget is actually freeing. It has freed up my time and energy to now focus and be choosy with my life.

I deleted Netflix because that is an extra that I can’t afford right now, but now, my time is more free and I’m not wrapped spending HOURS watching shows or movies each week. I deleted Spotify for the same reason, and now at the gym I’m not engrossed in my own music, but I listen to little conversations in Spanish around me. I can’t afford to jet off every long weekend like most students around me at school can do, so that means I get to know Madrid better and I get to be super picky about my “special” trips this year while I’m in Europe. And lastly, I don’t spend my time shopping the 100s of beautiful shoe and clothing stores here (when I already have way too many shoes and clothes in the USA). THANK GOD I can’t afford more on that end, I don’t have the space for it in my life back home!

I’m honing in on what actually makes me happy, what is actually important to me and ultimately God, as far as money, how I spend my time due to money, and who I let influence me due to where I spend my money. (Right now, my money is being spent and invested into my education and because of that I’m letting a school and master degree students from around the world influence me).

Money comes at a cost. Not for the money itself, but for what you do with the money, and the people you let influence your life because of money.

Money is good. And I want more of it, someday soon. But right now, I’m experiencing the blessing of having less.

Think about your own money habits, is there anything you can change, get rid of, or do that would free up your time in a new way or bless others by?

Can you jot down any good uses for and how you can be more purposeful with your time and money?