As I set up my calendar for the month, I select a quote I’ve found that speaks to me. I write it in my planner and leave space below it to capture phrases I hear or read that speak to me and relate to the quote. I found this practice centers me throughout the month, and helps me be more present in my conversations, meetings, and readings. For November 2022 the quote was, “it’s time to test your limits.”
The majority of this month’s quotes came late in November. Interestingly, they really began to sprinkle in when I began setting a daily intention and give gratitude each morning before I got out of bed. Here are quotes that caught my attention in November:
- What a blessing to outgrow your ceilings
- Every experience creates an imprint
- Healed people hear differently
- Whatever makes you feel the sun from the inside out, chase that
- Recognize people’s humanity
- Everything that is good is wild and free
- Enthusiasm is the force that bends reality
- What’s your legacy?
- Work with ease
- Are you hunting antelope or field mice?
- Don’t let your ice cream melt while counting somebody else’s sprinkles
- What you appreciate… appreciates
- May all that has been reduced to noise in you, become music again
- If you don’t step forward, you’re always in the same place
- When the winds of change blow, some people build walls and other build windmills
- Choose the door that leads back to you
- A bold kindness muscle
- How can I be of service today?
- Amplify greatness
- The mouth speaks what the heart if full of
- You don’t find your ground by looking for stability; You find your ground by relaxing in instability
- So, pluck up your courage and take that risk
- Verified magical being
As I read this list having just typed them all, I feel positive. I feel opportunity. I feel the energy of growth.
What immediately popped in my head now was how as kids we constantly grew – both in size and experiences. I was eager to get tall enough ride the big ride at the amusement park. I was eager to be old enough to stay up and watch “The Love Boat” rather than have to go to bed early (ugh, I now have the show’s theme song stuck in my head). I was eager to try out for a new role in the community theater. I was eager to head off to summer camp to cook on a campfire and make new friends. Newness was a sought-after adventure laced with the thrill of joy.
Then somewhere, somehow, safety came into play. Being practical became a thing. Responsibility took hold and my Phoebe-like run toward the next new opportunity stalled and became a cautious stroll.
What I’ve begun to realize… or rather remember, is that growth is where the magic is. The magic of wonder, of anticipation, of play, of adrenaline, of silliness, of healing, of the unknown, of clarity, and of possibility. Growth (aka change), with all it scrapes, scars and successes, is where the indelible memories are. To continue to grow as a person, a coworker, a partner, a family member, a friend, requires that we test our limits.
We all have limits. Some rest on the surface others so buried and baked in we don’t know they are there. Limits on how we see our abilities… our bodies… our career… our friends… our health… our money… our faith… our partners…our love… our potential.
Testing our limits is where we are forged. It’s where we continue to take shape.
As I think of my limits – and testing them – I already feel parts of me tightening in anticipation of the failure, the fall. Bracing. My head takes hold of my heart keeping me “safe” from harm, away from adventure, and stagnant.
What I am starting to understand is that testing our limits as adults might not be as dramatic or carefree as when we were kids on a bike cruising the neighborhood, but it’s no less daring, exciting, informing, or fun. Our growth might be more refined – more nuanced – as we age, but it’s no less impactful.
Testing a limit can be as simple as inviting a new coworker to lunch, taking a meal to a neighbor, volunteering for a new cause, inviting someone to join you at church, taking an art class, taking time to really learn how to pronounce someone’s name, doing your first 3 minute meditation, getting fitted for running shoes to walk your first 5K, making a medical appointment for what scares you, reading a book on racism, taking ownership of your financial health, starting meatless Mondays, or saying no.
The jolt of joy that is sparked in that moment of action (which for me is usually proceeded by a slight wave of nausea or quickening of my heartbeat), gives just enough of a sense of accomplishment that we take another step forward. Each action we take to test limits and move forward gives us more understanding, confidence, and line of sight as to where to go next.
To move beyond who we are today.