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.

20 Seconds of Bravery

This is my new favorite quote.

Apparently it’s from the movie “We Bought a Zoo” (which I’ve never seen). Since seeing this quote, I’ve been wondering where I could squeeze 20 seconds of bravery – a little more courage – into each day.

We’re not talking firefighter bravery here – not in the physical  sense anyway. Some days bravery can be as simple as reaching out to someone you’ve missed, asking for something you really want, or putting yourself into a situation you’re afraid of, but need.  If you struggle with substance dependency or addiction, then bravery is saying “No”, and meaning it, when the desire strikes. It means telling someone “No” when they’re taking more than you are able or willing to give. It means saying “Yes” to sending that email, query letter, or resume.  It means admitting you really want something and taking that first step to get it.

So, what’s your 20 seconds of bravery today and how might it change your life?