Excellence in Life’s Challenges

What makes you think of when you hear the word “discipline”? I have been listening to a book which includes instructions on personal discipline in the areas of daily focus and morning routines in order to start every day with excellence. After the work I have been doing this past year with energy zones this seems practical, however, it leaves me wondering if routines really do produce excellence.

I have been in some January blues. I knew I was, but didn’t know how to shake it. I have a daily routine and doing my best to be consistent with my energy zones. It’s a less busy time of year and I am curious if my soul needed some downtime. To me it looks and feels like blueness. So, instead of trying to shake it, I decided to just kept moving forward. I haven’t been my best, but it’s been good enough.

After falling while sledding a few weeks ago, my pain has been a steady companion. I have been allowing my own advice about pain to prevail, (see my previous blog). I haven’t rushed to fix the issue. I have been in the gym, to the chiropractor, taking appropriate pain medications and oh, yeah, I quit coffee. Coffee has been soul liquid for me since high school, but I have been struggling with reflux. My water intake has increased out of sheer sadness. I also allowed myself to splurge on a massage.

I woke up the other morning and the fog had lifted. The pain has improved and is not narrating my day. I have taken care of myself. The routines, yes, have been incredibly helpful, but I would argue routines and daily disciplines do not create excellence. I believe excellence shows up when challenges arise and we face them head on. We become healthy when we choose with courage to face what comes next in life.

I met an incredible mom this week. She almost lost her home in the Marshall Fires. Her friends have lost their homes. They had made it through Covid-19 right before and now her youngest was freshly diagnosed with a chronic illness as a result of the virus. How much more, she wondered out loud to me, can she handle. Yet, this beautiful woman had a smile on her face, ran towards the challenge of a new illness with boldness and was beyond kind to me, a perfect stranger. She knew she had plenty to grieve in regards to it all, but she choose to be present in that moment for her daughter. That is excellence in the midst of challenges. I pray I have that same grace when life hits me unexpectedly.

Years ago, I sat with a mom who was loosing her youngest. She asked me how she could go on. Knowing she had a home full of children, I told her this: you get up. You get up every day until you figure out how to move forward. Just get up. It was my way of encouraging her to not hide and loose herself in the loss.

Everyone will have times of exceptional achievement, but most days are just mundane. We can’t make every day epic, but we can make it excellent. Facing challenges can look different every day. Excellence may be getting out of bed. It may be doing the dishes for the tenth time that day. Excellence may be pursuing the dream you have for your life. Excellence may be ignoring all your responsibilities for the day to snuggle your ill child. It’s a word of kindness to the person ahead of you in line who has too many things in their cart. It’s showing up tired to your daughter’s homework without becoming frustrated…okay, maybe that one is just for me.

Excellence to me is facing whatever is next in our lives, not ignoring the difficulty it brings, but choosing to walk forward. Routines and daily discipline can help us through the moments of un-motivation, blueness and busyness. Routines help us become resilient. Energy zones can help us be productive and more efficient, but excellence comes from within.

If you are feeling blue, I understand. It is difficult to get out from under the fog, especially if you live in a grey weather area. So be gracious to yourself, kind to others and find those routines to get you going every day.



Published by Stephanie Trowbridge

Follower of Jesus. Artist. Wife. Mother.

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