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The Power of Habit

 

 

 

 

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an act but a habit.” -Will Durant

 

 

I’ve been reading a lot about habit-building and I’ve discovered a problem with me:  I’m great at identifying big things that need to change. I mean, great at it! I’m a world-class goal-setter.  But I lack the attention span to institute wholesale changes in my life.  I really need bite-sized goals that can be done repeatedly over the long haul. These sorts of stepping stones to change are more achievable and less soul-crushing should I – gasp! – fail for a day or a week or entirely.  So, as I’ve identified the bigger things I want to accomplish or change, I’ve tried to break them down into micro habits that feel doable and will still feed the larger goal.  I’ve been amazed at the effectiveness of this system so far.  Here’s an example of one (that I recently mentioned on Facebook that generated a lot of emails and questions and led to this post):

 

 

Big Goal:  Eliminate Clutter (it’s a really big goal for me! I’m super cluttery.)

 

Micro habit: I will wear the very first outfit I put on in the morning for 21 days.

 

The thing is, I really love clothes and I have too many options. It is not an exaggeration to say I sometimes change five to ten (!) times (I know), which means my bed was always piled high with the mess of rejects and who has time to hang all those up when you’re trying to get out the door?  This one bad habit was creating six days of clutter in about fifteen minutes, which I was coming home to at the end of a long day.  It also created stress.  The more I changed, the more I felt my blood pressure rising from frustration and insecurity with my decision-making abilities.  Finally, this one little habit was breeding discontent. I had trained myself to believe my first choice couldn’t be the best choice, which created a nagging dissatisfaction with a perfectly good wardrobe and worse, with myself in general.

 

So, I did it.  I made the micro habit an essential part of my day and, as I mentioned, it was hard.  It was especially difficult on days when I was speaking and felt the pressure of the big screen weighing heavily on my outfit choice.  But I stuck with it and you know what I discovered?  Once I left the house, I never really gave my outfit another thought and – here’s the bigger piece – neither did anyone else!  No one pointed or laughed or told me I should have taken another crack at it. Turns out, at the root of my clothes-changing-addiction is an unhealthy self-focus. (You probably figured that out like three paragraphs ago, but I’m a slow processor.)  I wouldn’t have called it pride before, I would have called it insecurity – but they’re really just two sides of the same coin. Here are the wins from this micro habit:

 

  • I have a  new awareness of the role clothing plays in my identity. I needed a wake-up call there and didn’t realize it.
  • I make more intentional decisions about what I will put on in the first place, which is leading to greater levels of intentionality in other areas as well.
  • I have more peace and less frantic in the mornings, which means this is good for the boy who shares my home as well.
  • Remember when I said “I love clothes and have too many options”?  Yeah, that became the subject of my next micro habit which I may write about soon.
  • There has been SO much improvement in the clutter situation  – and I’ll remind you this was the only reason I started this experiment in the first place.  Turns out, I got so much more beauty than I bargained for!

 

Have I stuck with the habit?  Yep, pretty much.  I still have relapses, but I always notice them and recognize the negative things they produce and I think that’s a win as well.  Overall, I’m thrilled with the results of this one tiny, little, baby step.  So, enough about me – are there any new micro habits in the works in your life?  How’s it going?

 

With hope for powerful habits,

 

Bo

 

PS: Books I read and really enjoyed on this topic:

The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg

The Happiness Advantage, by Shawn Achor

Before Happiness, by Shawn Achor

 

 

 

March 12, 2016 - 7:15 am

Miranda - I love the idea of a micro goal to accomplish the big goal. I have been striving these last 2 years especially to become more organized and keep our home better. It took me a while to realize that it was not going to happen with 1 major decluttering session, but rather with my every day habits. I’ve never actually sat down and written anything out – mostly because iam great at lists and not so great at follow through 🙂 But I think I am going to try the micro goal idea.

March 12, 2016 - 3:38 pm

Jody Collins - Bo, I need to lose 15 pounds and exercise more (I know, bo-ring…)particularly since arthritis has decided to visit me recently, something I’ve never dealt with. I”m 63; I suppose it’s time.
A mini-solution: every time I find myself with 5 minutes to spare I do leg lifts on my stairs, calf stretches at the cabinet or arm windmill-y things for my shoulders.
Baby steps…
Now, if I can figure out a way to make the pounds melt…

The Thing About Number Six

 

 

It’s Monday and Monday is usually a fresh start for me.  I love Mondays.

 

 

Except today.

 

 

Today, I woke up feeling hunched over. Pushed down.  And the funny thing is, it’s not my immediate circumstances that feel weighty.  My life is really pretty solid right now. It’s the stuff outside and the process of determining what gets to come inside.

 

 

Politics are driving me crazy.  I’m passionate about most things – it’s a good and bad thing in me – and I therefore have a pretty strong opinion about every thing I read or see flying around on facebook.  I even have an opinion about your opinion, though I’m better about letting that go than I’ve ever been. Today I’m wondering, how much should I care about this Very Big Deal in our country? How much should I pray, how much should I say, how much more noise does this thing really need?

 

 

Social issues are weighty and pressing. Syria, orphans, human trafficking, racial tensions and our country’s divided view of their reality, ALS and other deadly diseases, lack of clean water, the need for young women to get an education…everything is important.  Most of these things even carry life-and-death consequences.

 

 

And people.  People right here in my city are hurting – longing for connection and community.  I get emails nearly every day, asking for a coffee meeting to talk about why I think the Bible is absolutely true or could I call someone’s friend who was just diagnosed with cancer or connect with someone’s daughter who just moved to Bend and has no friends.  They are all good, kind requests and any one of them is possible in my schedule, but not the bulk of them and so the decision about what to let inside becomes a weight in itself.

 

 

When Steve died, I sat down and wrote some things I definitely wanted for my new, single life.  At the top of the list:  Well-ordered priorities.  In my world right now, the priorities are currently:

 

 

  1. My own health and healing – spiritual, emotional, physical. If this one doesn’t work, none of the rest work either.
  2. Parenting well – the sense of responsibility I feel as the only parent is not something I could easily describe. It’s just very, very real.
  3. My job, which both pays the bills and provides a great sense of purpose and fulfillment.
  4. My tribe. They are people who have been with me through thick and thin and have a voice into my life. They often serve as a Steve surrogate, listening to my heart and helping separate the wheat from the chaff.  I would say there are about two dozen people in this category and they are GOLD to me and not easily replaced. But like all relationships, they don’t maintain themselves. They require time and nourishment and conversation.
  5. The ALS Community.  I will almost always push an ALS need to the top of the pile. The disease is so vicious and rare, that those going through it are desperate for mentors and encouragers and I want to be one of those, but I do often wonder how to fit it all in.

 

 

And then there’s Number 6.  Number 6 is where my problems start.  It’s the blank space, the open territory that could be occupied by politics or coffee with young women who want to be pastors or research on the Syrian civil war. Number 6 could be almost anything, because after the first five everything else is somewhat equal. But the problem is when, like today, Number 6 becomes weightier than the main list. There’s something about it’s lack of definition that makes it noisier than those others.  Maybe it’s because the first five have been around a long time and can seem like they’re doing fine compared to Syrian refugees.  That blank space has an of-the-moment appeal that moves my short attention span toward shiny things.

 

 

One thing I know for certain is true:  I only have a certain amount of seed (time, talent, treasure) to sow and I can’t magically create more. I can only use what’s left after the others are well cared for.  Number 6, therefore, is a daily exercise in listening to the Holy Spirit for what I should do with this handful of seed.  Where will it land and grow most effectively?  What are my motives in sowing?  I recently spent hours on a blog post about my current political leanings only to realize: this isn’t going to help anyone.  My motives in writing it were, frankly, to spout off and look smart.  The end result was two hours of seed, thrown to the wind.  Sigh.

 

 

So, that’s my thing today.  What to do with Number 6.  Have you found a good way to order your priorities and deal with the onslaught of seed-hungry opportunities?  I’d love to hear about it.  Help a sister out.

 

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

 

March 7, 2016 - 10:08 am

Kaci - Love. Every single word of this. Number 6 in my life needs some supernatural wisdom. Praying for us both… Seriously!

March 7, 2016 - 11:40 am

Debbie - #6 as you categorize it is probably a hard one for most of us. For myself I have delegated a couple things that might tend to weigh some people down. Politics and volunteer work are the 2 that can drive me crazy. I hate politics and my husband is political enough for our entire family, lol. I do trust his judgement and so I let him lead and I follow. Not to say that I don’t have an opinion because I do on most things but this year the politics are just too much for me. So for me I can hand that one thing off. You may not be able to actually hand any of 1 – 6 off but maybe you can rely on someone else’s opinion now and then on some things.
Now volunteering has been an issue of late – I am learning to say NO. Your word this year is YES, mine might be NO.

Good luck.

March 7, 2016 - 1:58 pm

Nikki - My go-to for the overwhelm of ambiguity and just…ALL THE REST…is to just do the next thing, without thinking or contemplating or pondering or analyzing its purpose or direction or outcome or…

Just do the next thing.

If that means the dishes, then so be it. If it means the phone call that comes in right at that moment, so be it. If it means sitting on the porch staring straight out into space and feeling every single feeling, so be it.

Perhaps #6 is not to be defined. Ever. And that’s the point. 🙂

March 7, 2016 - 2:16 pm

Kathryn Vai - First, huge hugs!

Second, I love how you lay your heart bare and tell the truth. Life can be so hard and knowing that we all struggle makes it so much easier to bear. Thank you.

Third, yes. I totally relate to the challenge of allocating my energy with faithfulness. It sounds so blasted easy, but I often find myself trying to stretch my resources past what I can reasonably manage. I rely on systems to keep me on track- prayer before I start my day, fix my breakfast and lunch for work the next day before I go to bed, get off the train one stop ahead so I can squeeze in some exercise- but sometimes I think all those systems do is keep me so busy I don’t have time to do what’s really important!

It finally occurred to me last week (LAST WEEK- don’t ask me how old I am!)that I spend so much energy on work that I don’t have any left for the thing I always say I would do if I didn’t have to work. You know, when someone asks what you would do if you won the Lottery? The answer that practically bolts out of my mouth before the question is even completed? Yeah, THAT thing. So my challenge is to figure out how to make that a priority and not use up ALL my reserves on stuff that is important, but not most important. So I am now back to praying more and asking for some suggestions. LOL

March 7, 2016 - 2:22 pm

ChrisAnn McBride - Hi Bo,
I just wanted to say thank You for sharing. Your words are so nourishing.
You’ve managed to bring out some of my feelings from within to words on paper that completely discribe some of them. Such a gift. Thank You again.

I love that you realized your motive and changed it, I love that you are working thru your priority list.

Most importantly that allowing Holy Spirit to lead. All of this is so nourishing to hold dear, infact, I’m going to print out and highlight what speaks to me and place in my planner/ diary.

March 8, 2016 - 7:05 am

Kristen - One thing I started doing about eight months ago that has helped me with #6 is that I started quarantining it. You want to have coffee with me? Fantastic. But I can only meet on Fridays. You want me to review your manuscript? Excellent. I’ll get through what you send on Fridays. I have a great idea for a blog post! Good for me, but…can’t devote time to it until Friday. That goes for you, too, pedicure.

By telling #6 where it’s allowed to hang out, I’ve been able to (mostly) keep it from wreaking havoc on Numbers 1-5.

March 8, 2016 - 7:17 am

Jennifer Wassel - Blessings on you, Bo! I’ve followed & quoted you (w/references to your site) over the past year as I cared for my father, diagnosed w/leukemia til his home going, & both cared for & then oversaw my mother who had Alzheimer’s til she went to join my father. Your faithful & honest words were a source of comfort, & I prayed for you & your family.
What a gift you have, to be able to express what is so familiar to so many. As I am juggling all of the 1’s through 5’s on my list, after battling through the events & consequences of the events of 2015, I so related. Just when you think it’s safe to go into the water….???!!!! And the swirling dervish of the current political arena is a HUGE distraction. I’m with you, & I’m sure we’d solve all the world’s problems, but that most definitely IS throwing seed to the wind. I second that sigh!
When you said you couldn’t “magically create more,” it triggered something I’ve been thinking about, as I’ve struggled to manage my time & resources . . . And NOT to always say ‘Yes’ to absolutely every need that crosses our path, but didn’t Jesus create more out of little? I’ve been thinking about how we emphasize tithing in our finances, but what about tithing in ALL our God-given resources? (Not being legalistic here either, so I mean in the spirit of the tithe, & also not “tithing” to get more of what I want/need from God; just being obedient & letting the chips fall…)
Soooo, I’m trying to experiment with this thing called obedience, focusing on not OVERdoing any of 1-5 & re-apportioning my time & resources, then just trusting that if Jesus could multiply the loaves & fish, He can multiply whatever I need to be obedient to all the items, 1-6,7,8…. (Or whatever comes up in the number 6 slot!)
Thanks for sharing all your beauty, Bo! I appreciate you very much.

March 8, 2016 - 5:13 pm

Jody Collins - Bo, I have no good way to set daily priorities other than to say pray and ask the Holy Spirit and trust that He will tell you.
Which sounds like what you’ve been doing all along…
I will say how much your words resonated re: the whole ‘number 6’ thing. YOu’re right–after we prioritize the top 5, there are so MANY other things that could be next. I think it’s the number 6 things that occupy our sowing time (and end up maybe being chaff instead). The number one things seem more obvious.
May God give us all grace to tell the difference and keep clinging to him.

March 22, 2016 - 9:39 pm

Jewl - I’m re-reading your recent blog posts. It all resonates. The power of habit. Priorities: And yes! It all seems important: politics, giving a helping hand, prayer, … oh, yes, and meals. Shoot–add in sleep (right now the clock shows it’s after midnight and the dishes still wait). The pull of 6: 6 is enticing because I don’t “have” to do it, at least right away. Or the fear that if I don’t write that friend back now, it won’t ever get done. The crazy idea that “Do the quick now” so to better tackle the “BIG,” but meanwhile, I never do get to the BIG projects, the piles grown, and they paralyze me even more, and no one in this home is chronically ill! Yet, I know that that conversation with my teen trumped all those projects, so yea! (And good for you for designated touch points with J.) Praying with you for greater understanding and choosing the best in these days, while giving ourselves grace for the journey.

Doing What’s Working: A Purely Subjective Take on Surviving Sorrow

 

 

Confession:  Seven months after losing Steve, I have yet to make it through an entire book on dealing with grief. Partly, because I read too many books at once and the grief books are easiest to put down.  But more because the minute I run into subjective truth that’s stated as universal, I tend to tap out. I’m not defending that method, just being honest about my response system.

 

I never want to be someone who spits out easy answers or weary platitudes, but I do want to be a helpful voice in the journey for those coming along behind. I really, really do. In fact, I feel it’s part of the reason I’m even on this spinning planet to begin with.  So, I want to share my entire strategy for walking this weird road in one sentence and it is this:

 

Do what’s working.

 

 

If something works, I try to stick with it.  If something doesn’t work, I put it on the shelf for a bit and maybe I’ll try that thing later, but for now, I put the bulk of my limited energy into the things that make me the happiest in the long run.  Here’s my short list of current Happymaking habits – these may not be happy for you, but I encourage you listen to the rhythms of your life and make a list of your own.

 

 

Movement. After five months of resisting running (which I LOVED before), I finally re-prioritized it.  Actually, I prioritized walking, which led to running which has led to new levels of health and happiness on nearly every level. Running, for me, involves the great outdoors, fresh air, great music and those beautiful and mysterious endorphins.  I try to get a trail (or as a last resort: treadmill) beneath my feet 4-6 days each week.

 

Social Connection.  I made a contract with my introverted self to connect with three people for coffee or happy hour each week.  I further promised that I would, in each of these connections, share honestly and transparently about something going on in my life – not everything, but something. Every Sunday, I take a look at how I did with this and determine who I will connect with in the week ahead. This habit has brought so much life and healing and I know Steve – who was the extrovert in our relationship – would be really proud of me for doing it.

 

Food with Joe.  This is a whole, big long story that I will probably write more about down the road, but for now I will say that many failures led to the formation of a new habit which has proven to be a huge success: Eating with Josiah four times each week.  We cook together three nights a week (for convenience and fun, we use this company and sometimes this one, and we love it!) and have an official lunch out every Sunday during which Joe gives me an update on his relationship with time, grades, money, friends and Jesus. We’re on our fourth month of this system and I can’t tell you how much it’s impacted our relationship and my happiness level in general.

 

Sleep.  I’m not an awesome sleeper, but both science and experience tell me it’s essential.  Honestly, my life implodes without good sleep.  So, I’ve had to establish strong and often unpleasant micro habits, like going to bed earlier than I want to and saying no to that afternoon cup of coffee, in order to make it a priority. I’m still not great at it, but I’m learning what works and what definitely doesn’t.

 

Mornings.  Starting the day with solitude is probably the single most important habit in my life. It gives me a chance to think, pray, plan and just sit with the sunrise. This has been true in my life for about ten years, but I wasn’t able to stick with it the last year of Steve’s life because of the aforementioned sleep situation.  It’s good to be back to mornings.

 

There are other, smaller things, like crying when I need to, journaling the journey, talking with friends who are farther down the sorrow road than I am, etc., but these five have been the most consistently effective habits I’ve committed to thus far. Within each one is a list of micro habits that make the big one easier to tackle, but that’s another post for another time.

 

Wherever you find yourself today, I hope you feel the warm grace of a good God breaking through the icy edges of winter.

 

With hope for spring,

 

Bo

 

 

February 25, 2016 - 11:16 am

Flor Nunez - Thank you for always bring your best to all of your followers! I am so blessed with your advise which comes to awaken the real me in the midst of a season of health struggles. May our good God continue to inspire you to bless us!!

February 25, 2016 - 11:38 am

Holly McKim - Bo- Thank you for sharing nuggets of truth, wisdom, and your journey. I do not have anything that comes close to paralleling the road you are on, but I am often challenged and encouraged by your words. I recently told a friend “Don’t be the you, you don’t want to be. Create a support system. Make a plan. It’s time to stand up and do something!” It turns out that I was talking to myself as well and I really like you action steps 🙂 Thanks for bringing more ideas to the table so that I might glean one or two. Ultimately, I’ll land on what works so I can “Do what’s working”. Vastly different journey- same God.

February 26, 2016 - 9:55 am

Marlys Johnson - When I was first widowed, I worried that I wasn’t grieving the right way … because I wasn’t falling into any deep, dark holes. Because I have yet to cry myself to sleep (not that I haven’t cried … oh yes, I’ve cried), but not to sleep. And because I could sit in church alone; I could walk the trails alone that Hubby and I hiked together; I could come home alone to an empty home. What was wrong with me?!!

But as you surely must know from your blog, everyone grieves differently. And here is what works for you. And I love that you don’t want to spit out weary platitudes, but you do want to be helpful. Thank you for your good, honest, down-to-earth tips and insights.

February 27, 2016 - 9:06 pm

Miranda - I have been reading your blog for a while now. I always want to comment but I don’t really know what to say. Thank you for sharing your story.

5 Happy Things: Monday Edition

 

 

Well, okay.  Full disclosure?  Last week was not my very favorite week in all of history (aside: my grandson says “frayvrite” and it’s lodged in my brain that way now, so I hear his cute voice every time I type that word.)  I’ve been reading a lot about the science of happiness and one thing I keep running into is this idea that the happiest people are not necessarily those whose lives are going perfectly, but rather those who have learned to quickly and automatically identify the good and beautiful in a world full of hard and ugly. I’m trying to learn to scan my surroundings for happiness instead of scanning for threats and, it may sound like a flimsy strategy, but it’s helped me through some really rough days so I’m keeping it.

 

I really AM going to write more this week, but for now, here are Five Happy Monday Things.

 

  1. Arugula – because it’s delicious, but also sounds like a sunny vacation spot.
  2. Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in every single color.
  3. Fresh starts
  4. Omnifocus for managing the fresh starts.
  5. Go, Broncos!
  6. Bonus: Tonight is Grandma Fun Night at my house!  Grey & Finn are coming to make Valentine cookies and Grandma Fun Night is my frayvrite.

 

 

What’s making your eyes light up this week?

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

 

January 25, 2016 - 9:13 am

cathy Turk - Two big Happy thoughts to get me through the week.
First; our youngest (Parker) becomes an adult on Wednesday. How did that happen?
And second, we’ll be in Bend on Friday to see our Grandson Maxx whom we haven’t seen since Labor day weekend.
Bonus happy thoughts: Going to church at Westside at some point as well.

January 25, 2016 - 9:20 am

Kris Souza - Bo,

A couple years ago a friend challenged me to see “happy” in every day for 100 days. So I accepted.

Here’s how it works. Every day find something that makes you happy – and take a picture of it. Post it on your fb wall as:

Day 1: then the description
#100happydays

I was amazed at how much God showed in those 100 days.

Blessings to you.

Kris

January 25, 2016 - 11:48 am

Christine Duncan - I really love this idea… mine would have to be;
I get to meet with a new blogger friend tomorrow in my favorite coffee house, cause what, I ask, is better than making friends over yummy food and hot beverages and….
The way the winter sun finally shone in through my window by my desk, enabling my dull-sky-weary brain to work a little better today.
Keep having happiness moments, Bo!!!

January 25, 2016 - 10:13 pm

Jean E Taddonio - Bo My little sister Jane Williams has shared her love of you w I with me so of course I love I love you .too! Xox Jeane in San Diego

January 26, 2016 - 8:20 pm

David Jorgensen - I was just introduced to your story and your website tonight. My sister sent me the link and she does live there in Bend, OR, as well. To be brief, a life-long family friend was just diagnosed with ALS and she mentioned your site. The family is still trying to understand what they were just told. I will mention this site to them. Thank you for all your work with ALS and the care for them. The man who was diagnosed was a vietnam vet and a faithful church member for decades. His wife of 48 years is trusting the Lord through this and already feels a peace from Him. Thanks again for your work.

January 27, 2016 - 7:50 pm

Hope - It’s been 91 days since my husband died…and I always read your posts with care knowing you are a bit ahead of me on this journey. Strangely, I also have been recording five items to be grateful for each morning in my prayer journal. God’s provisions are amazing even in the midst of heartache and darkness. Keep writing and sharing your story. Hugs!

January 28, 2016 - 6:47 am

Marlys - Well said, Bo. I identify with so much of what you write. Hubby and I eventually learned – instead of focusing on every searing piece of spread-of-cancer news – to focus on what was left. What do we still have, in this one irreplaceable day, to be thankful for? Much.

February 12, 2016 - 1:35 am

j - Sometimes …late at night I go here just to read beautiful words that almost always wash my eyes with tears and create new perspective. I love “Saying YES to Snow”. I love that you love this little mountain town as much as I do. Thank you for your words of peace and comfort.

Getting to Know Single Bo

 

 

I met Steve Stern when I was 16 years old.  We fell in love when I was 18 and were married one year later. Knowing him, loving him, making a life with him – it’s most of what I know in this world.  When I lost him a few months ago, I felt a little like I and all my history had been erased – it was as if I couldn’t see my own face in the mirror anymore.  The first month was filled with spinning, spinning, trying to find solid footing. It was so easy to focus on what’s been lost, and very hard work to fully appreciate what remains.

 

About six weeks in, I sat down and had a good heart-to-heart with myself.  I made the decision to stop looking back and figure out who I am now.  I wanted to get to know this Bo.  Single Bo (which still sounds super weird to me.)  Steve will always be such an enormous part of my life because that’s what truly great people do to you. They weave their way into your thoughts and opinions and hopes and dreams, and when they’re gone holes happen.  Gaping holes. Scary holes. I’ve watched some sorrow-sojourners fill those holes up with someone or something else so they’ll stop hurting.  No judgement on this method, I’ve seen it work for some, but it’s just not for me.  I don’t want quick fills.  And I don’t want to form this new season of my life around another person.  Quite transparently, that means I don’t want to look a certain way or cook a certain way or fold my laundry a certain way because of someone else.  Not yet.  Maybe not ever.  But I’ve been around long enough to know that in the “not yet” and the “maybe not ever”, unknown possibilities are often incubating inside the sovereignty of God.  I’m more than content coexisting with that mystery, and in being on a need-to-know basis with Him.

 

 

In related news, a few friends have asked about my wedding ring, which I recently moved to my right hand (baby steps) and will eventually put on a chain.  I didn’t move it because I’m ready to move onto another person, but because it felt like an important step in the next phase of the journey (though again, lots of people do it differently and that’s perfectly great!) I’m saying yes to this season of life, however scary and crazy and uncomfortable it may feel. I am in no condition to date, so refrain from sending me suggestions. Just know that I am alive and well and trying to lean into the adventure. I can’t change that loss and sorrow are a part of my story, but I can choose to write the narrative around it to include discovery, development and joy in the me that I am now and the me that I will (hopefully!) become.

 

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know this is intensely personal and perhaps even really awkward to read. If I’m honest, it was pretty awkward to write.  But this is my story and I’ve come to believe my story is good. And also? I’m grateful for you.

 

With hope,

 

Bo

 

 

 

 

January 8, 2016 - 1:36 pm

Phyllis B - As always, thank your for sharing.

January 8, 2016 - 1:47 pm

Debbie McKenney - Dear Bo,
Thank you for your words of wisdom. I wish you had been writing these words 20 years ago, when I walked this road . . . only I don’t wish that for you, because I’m glad you had all those years with your Steve.
I was 12 1/2 years into marriage when my husband died suddenly, we had 2 children, ages 7 years and 10 months. I too had met him young, married young. I too had to learn who I was and only by the grace of God was I able to figure that out. I’m still working on it because my children are now adults, so the ‘Mom’ title has diminished and the ‘Me’ title has increased.
Baby steps are the best. God’s grace is amazing.
You have been in my prayers for the past few years and I will continue to pray for you as you walk this road God has you on.
Again, thank you for sharing your heart.
In Him,
Debbie

January 8, 2016 - 1:51 pm

Sue Powell - I didn’t find any of the thoughts your shared here to be ‘awkward’ in any way! But whole and raw and honest,just like your books,just like YOU.What a blessing to be able to ‘look in the mirror’,and see that new version of who you were;married Bo to single Bo,and be content to let Abba work out all the details,without all the ‘stress and strain’ of trying to ‘fill in the gaping holes’ yourself.One of those ‘mysterious ways’ of our Father;when He fills us up with His Presence..there is ‘room enough for whomever He brings along with Him’.Love and hugs,Sue4Him

January 8, 2016 - 1:55 pm

Darleen - I love your updates and take in every word and anticipate the next as if I’m in the middle of an amazing novel! Bo, thank you for being such a great example as a Christ follower, you are needed in a dark, what appears to be hopeless world, you are salt and light! Darleen

January 8, 2016 - 2:11 pm

Jalet - You are the bravest, broken, healing, faith entrenched, visionary, with rock solid transparency, that elevates us all on life’s chaotic journey, I know. I love you and the weird correlation that single yells and vibrates into the quiet space you are newly discovering. You are sojourning, so well.

January 8, 2016 - 2:14 pm

Christine Duncan - Bo, your courage, no matter how awkward, is so needed in our time… praying for you all, and your journey is an inspiration. Feeling blessed to have discovered your beautiful blog almost two years ago.

January 8, 2016 - 3:01 pm

Rebecca - Bo, my husband passed away on August 12, 2015 after a 5 year struggle with vascular dementia. So close to the time of your loss. My thinking is much like your’s. However, we were married for 47 years. I am sorry your love was so much shorter. I have been told I will always feel married. That felt so comforting to me because I could not imagine thinking otherwise. I have known my husband my entire life. He will always be a large part of my thinking. Your writings are an inspiration to me. I can feel the raw in this writing as I am right there with you–feeling raw myself. The healing is yet to come. Love to you.

January 8, 2016 - 3:28 pm

Angie - Your story is good. 🙂
Thank you for sharing so transparently. I’m proud of myself that I made it all the way to the last paragraph before I started crying.
Thank you for inspiring us throughout your journey. I can’t say it as eloquently as I would like, but please know that the seeds you are sowing are growing and beautiful things are happening (and I think I am speaking for lots of people) in our hearts and attitudes because of you.

Angie

January 8, 2016 - 3:36 pm

Lori - You inspire. Keep going strong, girlfriend.

January 8, 2016 - 4:11 pm

Debbie Earlywine-Jackson - Love you Bo!! My the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine, shine, shine upon you his beautiful daughter!!

January 8, 2016 - 4:14 pm

Joy - Good luck in your venture of moving forward getting to know yourself. That is courageous and brave! God go with you!

January 8, 2016 - 4:28 pm

Lori - Not awkward at all…..just different. Hugs to you! And your kids:)

January 8, 2016 - 5:24 pm

Karen - Ah Bo…..my learning to be single came from a very different source and was in some ways a time of celebration for me, but also very sad and hard….and you know in your heart that you need lots of time to learn to be “Single Bo”, or, could we just call you “Bo 2016”? Be ever gentle with yourself and I’m confident that a new and glorious chapter is unfolding in your life.

hugs,
Karen

January 8, 2016 - 8:26 pm

Toni - You don’t know me, but that doesn’t mean we don’t know each other. Sorrow-sojourners…..what a word. I know you already know this, but don’t give up, don’t stop and don’t worry too much about what other people think. Keep being brave. God loves us brave girls.

January 8, 2016 - 9:11 pm

Patti - Thank you for sharing this season with us!!

January 9, 2016 - 8:23 am

Debbie Hammagren - Bo, I love your words and your transparency. “Incubating inside the sovereignty of God” That phrase is where we should all live. Love to you!

January 9, 2016 - 1:13 pm

Lisa - Keep writing
We will be here

January 9, 2016 - 2:14 pm

Wanda Stewart - Bo,

I continue to enjoy your blog with tears and smiles. Stan and I were high school sweethearts and married short of 37 years at the time of his death.
I can so identify with the “not yet”, “maybe never” thoughts and said 6 weeks prior to his death that to be involved with anyone else would have to be “God-sent”
Knowing what to do with the wedding ring was another struggle for me. At times I thought it was a protective shield and took comfort wearing it. Stan work his on a chain and I like the idea of that possibility.
God Bless you in your journey!

January 9, 2016 - 2:33 pm

Jody Collins - God has anointed you with such wisdom on this side of your ‘single’ journey, Bo. Wow.
These are amazing lines: “I can’t change that loss and sorrow are a part of my story, but I can choose to write the narrative around it to include discovery, development and joy in the me that I am now and the me that I will (hopefully!) become”
So wise. And not wierd at all.

January 9, 2016 - 7:17 pm

Pat Whitson - Although we are strangers from the unbeliever person’s perspective, in the Body of Christ we are sisters… So, yes, I’m still ” with you” in your journey… In the Manual we both read for guidance and direction, namely the Bible, we are instructed, “their is wisdom in the counsel of many”… And, indeed, Bo, I see you, in this blog as a wise, vulnerable, and courageous counselor for our family to continue listening to regarding how to grieve… ” Jesus wept” at Lazarus’s tomb, and then He raised him from the dead, following that miracle up with instructing the witnesses to unbind him from the grave cloths he was still all tangled up in… I am so grateful that you seem to let us loving family members be a part in the Holy Spirit’s holy work of unwrapping you from Steve’s grave cloths. You remain in my heart and prayers as you continue walking on this path… Pat

January 18, 2016 - 2:27 pm

Jim Marr - I came across this blog post via a Facebook article from Charisma magazine. I could immediately relate to your journey somewhat as a widower. I know in those early stages of grieving, I found solace in the writings of other men who had lost their wives–thank for sharing your story for women facing such a great trial in life. As it turned out, I too found writing to be a cathartic process and a memoir was birthed: http://www.itwasoutoflove.org–free ebook for anyone to share

Your reference to moving the ring to your right hand very distinctly brought back those memories on my journey. You might find a couple paragraphs on Pg 194 interesting to read concerning my wedding ring and the right hand.

Blessings as God fulfills His purposes in your life.

–Jim

January 18, 2016 - 2:29 pm

Jim Marr - Oops, some characters got stuck together in that ebook link:

http://www.itwasoutoflove.org

January 21, 2016 - 4:23 pm

Bernard - Hi Bo,
Here in New Zealand, or Aotearoa as us Maori call it which means ‘Land of the long white cloud’, Focus on the family have been doing a re-run of their shows from 2015. I guess a re-run of the ones that made the most impact, and I must say that after having the privilege, over the last couple of nights, of listening to your journey with your husband and your children, I just wanted to thank you for sharing your journey. A journey that, I must mention, also included our Almighty Father in Heaven, Our Lord and Saviour Jesus, The Awesome Power of the Holy Spirit. Thanks again for sharing your story Bo.

Blessings from Aotearoa,

Bernard.

January 24, 2016 - 7:28 pm

Marlys Miller - You are such a great inspiration. Thank you for sharing from your heart. May God richly bless you and your family.

January 24, 2016 - 8:35 pm

Chris Collins - Day 167 for me. Thanks for putting into words how it feels.

January 29, 2016 - 12:12 pm

Andrea - Dear Bo, Funny how God directs us. Sitting here on a rainy Friday and some how happened upon your blog. My Aunt was diagnosed last year with bulbar ALS. Her decline has been so rapid I can’t really wrap my mind around it. Her physician said if we are lucky she might make it to spring. She is so hopeful to see the garden we planted for her come into bloom. Thank you for sharing your story and I hope you will continue.I guess that’s why we are called to help carry each other’s sorrows. Today mine feel a little lighter. God bless