The Ugly Middle

Middle of NowhereI borrowed the term “The Ugly Middle” from a writing blog I follow called The Write Practice. You can read the original blog post here.  That post refers specifically to writing, but as with so many writing related topics, the lessons can apply to much more.

Beginnings are exciting.

Endings can be triumphant.

The middle though…sometimes the middle is the mess.

It’s far enough from the excitement of the beginning that you sometimes forget why you started. And so far away from the end that you wonder why you started in the first place.

But the ugly middle is where you get things done.

If you’re changing old, dysfunctional patterns, the ugly middle is where your mind catches up to your heart.

If you’re moving toward a physical transformation, the ugly middle is that space where your body is strengthening itself on the inside but the changes aren’t yet visible on the outside.

If you’re a creative, the ugly middle is where your character finds its voice, it’s where your art takes on personality and it’s where you separate yourself from the hobbyists.

And if it’s your life, the ugly middle is where you live it. It’s the day-to-day stuff that feels mundane and repetitive, but it’s the stuff you do that results in your children being loving and compassionate. The ugly middle is where life-long friends are made, where faith is tested (and passes), and where you understand that your life is blessed – regardless of your current circumstance. And it’s the way you love the people you love. Day to day. Right there in the ugly middle.

In our 40s we’re, literally and figuratively, in the middle. Some days it feels really ugly. Some days it’s the most beautiful life we could have imagined.

Whatever day it is for you, don’t give up. There’s a wide open road in front of us leading us to a triumphant ending if we can just make it through the ugly middle.

Embracing change

j0402579 Something Tricia said in Monday’s post got me thinking about change. Specifically about adopting the mindset of embracing change, in whatever form it comes, as opportunity – opportunity for growth, expression, and reinvention. Change can take the form of the end or beginning of a relationship, a move to a new city or country, or as in my case, a layoff. Or more accurately, another layoff.

Unfortunately, or fortunately as I now see it, layoffs are nothing new to me. I’ve been handed my walking papers three times in my almost 20 year career. And although that might not seem like a lot, when you’re a dedicated employee who (for the most part) enjoys the work you do, a layoff can feel like a punch in the gut.

The first time I was laid off was while I was working at an adult vocational school. There’d been a curriculum change that made the courses I, and a few other instructors were teaching, obsolete. After they told us about the impending change, they told us that they’d be serving cake and ice cream in the break room to say thanks. Today, although I know they meant well, getting sugary treats with my walking papers still feels a lot like Marie Antoinette saying “let them eat cake!” Continue reading Embracing change

A few things we could learn from men

j0443287 Men get a bad a rap. I know because half of the time I’m the one giving it to them. And with gems like John Edwards, governor Mark Sanford and Hulk Hogan (a grown man calling himself the hulk? Really?) on the forefront of manhood these days, it’s easy to see why. But the truth is, one bad apple doesn’t spoil the whole bunch.  Intelligent, conscientious and trustworthy men are everywhere, and we can learn a lot from them. Here are just three of the great lessons I’ve learned from men over the years…

Just Do It

I have a close friend who became an importer/exporter in a matter of months because someone told him he needed a product and my friend knew where to get it. He didn’t know anything else about the industry or business, but asked a ton of questions, made a bunch of mistakes along the way and found a way to meet the need. Will he do it differently the next time around? Yup. But the point is, he’s doing it. Meanwhile, I have folders full of projects that I literally “thought” to death. Sometimes you’ve got to move fear aside and just do it.

Continue reading A few things we could learn from men