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Hope can be defined as:

intransitive verb
1:  to cherish a desire with anticipation:  to want something to happen or be true. hopefor a promotion. hoping for the best. I hope so.

transitive verb
1:  to desire with expectation of obtainment or fulfillment. I hope she remembers. hopes to be invited
2:  to expect with confidence: trust. Your mother is doing well, I hope.

I have a soft spot for the sentiment of hope.  I feel it as a mixture of sadness and optimism.  Sadness for where you are and optimism for where you would like to be.

I’ve faced a lot of adversity throughout my life, but there is always one thing I would never give up on, and that is hope.  During the difficult times I would tell myself, “You are going through this for a reason.”  And the belief that life would get better always got me through it.  Hope is essentially positive thinking.

Now, I’ve been pondering over this idea of hope for a while.  I actually wrote those opening paragraphs months ago but didn’t have all my thoughts together to finish up this post. And in true fashion where things happen when you need them to, I recently came across the research of C. R. Snyder. Snyder was a psychologist who studied positive psychology.

Snyder believed that hope is not an emotion but a cognitive process.  He believed that hope is a combination of setting goals, believing in ourselves to achieve those goals, and finding a way to produce the result.  He also believed that hope can be learned.  (How cool is that?!)

In terms of children:

Children who have been given the opportunity to struggle, (versus being rescued by a parent during a difficult time), learn how to believe in themselves, assert themselves, and deal with conflict.

But this totally applies in adulthood too.

In leadership, we are taught that sometimes we have to let others fail, so they can learn for themselves.  It’s essentially the same thing as the parent letting their child struggle.  You come out of adversity stronger and more resilient.

Growing up with depression, sometimes, it felt like the only thing keeping me together was hope that it would get better.  I think that this is why I feel so strongly about hope.  It literally saved my life.

I would consider myself a very hopeful person, because it’s still something I hold onto almost everyday.  Though my reasons for feeling hopeful have changed, the need to be hopeful has not.  I don’t know if it was the many years of hopeful practice during depression that has made hopefulness such a norm in my life or not.  But if hope can be learned, then it seems to have definitely proved true in my life.

But back to Snyder…

He believed that how hopeful you are could be measured by The Future Scale.  The Future Scale is a series of questions that combines the score of your Pathway answers and Agency answers for a total Hope Scale score. The Pathway questions measure our perceived ability to produce routes to achieve our goals, and the Agency questions measure our motivation to follow these routes.

So, I was curious as to how hopeful I really am.  Like is this just something I think of myself highly or am I really practicing what I preach here?

When you take the quiz, you’re supposed to read each question carefully.  Of course, I was quite eager to see my results and kind of rushed through the questions.  With a total possible score of 64, I scored 53.

I honestly didn’t expect such a high score and am now kind of wishing I didn’t rush through the questions to see if I would have gotten higher!  But what didn’t surprise me is that my Agency answers scored higher than my Pathway answers.  This actually makes perfect sense.  I have a lot of motivation to achieve my goals, but I don’t always necessarily know how to achieve those goals.  While I already kind of knew this, seeing it in black and white really clarified where I need to put more of my focus, so this has been great feedback.

If you’re curious to see how you’ll score, take the quiz here.



I’ve been thinking a lot about worry. I’m thinking that it has to be one of the worst emotions. Sadness, pain, rejection – these are all emotions that are felt after an event occurs. Worry is really just anxious anticipation of something bad possibly happening. It’s an unnecessary evil, but also human nature.

I used to think that a little worry was a good thing. It meant that you deeply cared about something enough to actually worry about it. But now, I feel like nothing good comes from worrying. Feeling worry makes me feel worse about everything else too. It’s like all of my insecurities become elevated. And stress is just another form of worry.

Worry doesn’t actually prepare you for the pain, rejection, or sadness that a traumatic event invokes. We worry as a defense mechanism thinking it will ease negative affects, when really, it seems to almost invite things to go wrong. How many times have you reacted with, “I knew something bad was going to happen”?

I’m a big believer in mind over matter, and I truly believe in the Buddha saying “What we think, we become.” I’ve seen this ring true in my own life and in the lives of people close to me.

Everything in life takes work. So while I would like to say, try not to worry and let the chips fall where they may. It’s not that easy. There really is power in positive thinking, and we need to turn that worry into faith, hope and/or prayer.

We may not have the ability to control the outcomes of things in our lives, but we do have the ability to control how we feel about them. Sometimes that means owning our pain and sometimes that means changing our thinking. But this takes a lot of work and practice. We have to self-reflect enough to be self-aware, so we can self-control.

And this is just as much of a reminder for me, as it is for you.



I’ve been working in the office a lot lately. While I don’t mind paperwork (to some extent), I really miss being out in the field. I miss the sunshine, the dirt, talking to our foremen, mud on my boots, and even the often miserable Santa Maria wind.

I had to take a break from preparing for audits. My brain has been so overloaded that I couldn’t even think straight anymore. I’ve been going to lots of meetings, a training, and talking to so many people trying to navigate the changes. The politics, the wrong perceptions, the misinformation, and the over regulation as a result of it just had me feeling very defeated about where our industry is headed. (Not to mention outbreaks…ay.)

So today, I escaped to the ranches.

As I repaired a sign, all I could think about was how good it felt to be outside. As I put the drill bit in my drill, all I could think about was how great it felt to work with my hands.

I put the shovel in the bed of my truck, and waved to one of our tractor drivers. As I got in and shut the door, I looked out the windshield to a field of young romaine plants. I sat there for a minute. And in that moment, I was happy.

I spent a very long time, many years, going from job to job, from industry to industry, searching for a sense of belonging. While I recognize that I will change, and agriculture may not be my future, it is my present. And it is the perfect present for me, right now.

To be able to say that is special. They say that when you find a job you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. While work is still definitely work, overall, I do love what I do. Today was the perfect reminder, and for that, I am thankful.

Braving the Wilderness – Part 5

Braving the Wilderness – Part 5

The key to joy is practicing gratitude.

When I read this statement, I sat in disbelief for about 5 seconds.  Then I immediately stood up, walked to my office, grabbed a Post-it and wrote down the word “gratitude.”  I propped it up like a teepee and set it on my night stand facing my bed, so that it is the first thing I see in the morning.

This morning I had been complaining to a co-worker that my boss implied that only lateral movement would be available to me.  I was so disheartened when my boss and I had that conversation.  I told him I was looking beyond just a manager position.  After all, that’s what I’m working for.  That’s why I attend leadership programs, why I read books, why I seek out learning opportunities.   After his implication, I immediately came to the conclusion that if I was going to see a C-level position, it would have to be with another employer.

Like, whoa.  Right?  I went from 0-60 in an instant.  Who’s to say that I’m even going to want a C-level position in the next few years?  Life changes!  I work for an amazing employer that values my opinion, includes me in the hard conversations, allows me to influence their leadership, and truly cares about my well-being as an employee and a person.  My employer is a diamond in the rough, and I should be grateful that they afford me the opportunities that they do!  But I was so focused on what they may not offer me, that I completely overlooked what they do offer me.

As I continued with my reading, Brown went on to say that we should stop looking for confirmation that we don’t belong or that we’re not good enough.

That is exactly what I was doing.  I was looking for confirmation that I don’t belong.  I’ve been having a hard time at work though.  I’m going through growing pains, and so is the company.  Instead of owning my pain, I was looking for an exit strategy.

It’s funny too, because at work, I am leading a movement to change our culture from being reactive to being proactive.  We’re trying to recognize and reward positive behavior in the effort to minimize disciplinary action.  Then here I am, automatically assuming the worse, seeking out the negative.  So tomorrow and days in the future, I will choose gratitude.  It will take self-discipline to recognize when I’m falling into the trap, but “the key to joy is practicing gratitude.”

Braving the Wilderness – Part 4

Braving the Wilderness – Part 4

Brown explains that we tend to put on an “armored front” for two reasons:

  1. We’re not comfortable with emotions and equate vulnerability with weakness
  2. Traumatic experiences taught us vulnerability is dangerous

These resonated with me.  As I’ve shared in previous posts, I have a fear of vulnerability, but I never really considered myself to have an “armored front.”  I always considered myself pretty open with people, except when I’m not…

Here are some examples:

Vulnerability in Dating:  I personally feel like I will come off as needy and desperate if I express interest in someone first.  Even if I do express interest, it’s so nonchalantly that it’s not taken seriously.  Then I will not continue to pursue it in the fear of coming off too strong.  What I realized is that my insecurities in dating do come from traumatic experiences.

The summer before my freshman year, my sister kissed a boy that I had been crushing on.  They both knew I had a crush, and he was a friend.  I felt betrayed by both.  I felt he had played me to get to her.  I remember what my sister said when I confronted her about it: “Don’t tell mom.”  And I didn’t, until years after the fact.  I was completely devastated, and I had to go through it alone.

This experience (and others) has shaped my view of how to initiate new relationships: It never works out when I like someone first.  If I express interest first, I still have weariness and disbelief that he can return that interest.  But when a guy expresses interest first, I feel like he is upfront with his intent.  It’s less intimidating to let my guard down, when he’s been vulnerable first.

Vulnerability in Expression:  I am terrified of sharing my creative work, especially my writing.  I would rather hunker down in my bunker than to receive criticism over something I believe or experienced. First step was putting it on the web.  I have yet to share the link with family and friends, aside from my one dedicated reader (Hi, Mom!).

I have not personally received criticism, so I don’t have first-hand traumatic experience.  But we see it play out all the time on the web.  I’m afraid that my opinion, my belief, will cost me my job, my friends, or even cause me to receive threats.  But I also know that without risk, there is no reward.  One day, I will have to muster up the courage to be vulnerable and share my work, but even the “one day” scares me.

These are just two examples, but in thinking it over, I’m not as open as I thought I was.

One day I was talking with some guy friends who were teasing me about being single.  I played along with it.  Then one said something that hit a nerve, and it was all I could do not to let the tears fall.

If I had said, “Guys, can we not talk about this?” when they started off, I could have avoided the whole issue.  But I didn’t realize how much it bothered me, until the one comment triggered hurt.  Playing along was a defense mechanism all along.  Because if I had to say, “Can we not talk about this?” they would know that it’s a sensitive subject.  I would have had to of been vulnerable in that moment, but that little bit of courage up front could have saved me from pain down the conversation.

My point with that story is that because I was willing to poke fun at myself, I misinterpreted playing along as letting my guard down and being open.  What I was really doing was trying to shield myself from them knowing how I actually feel about being single.

In analyzing my own behaviors, I realized that I wear armor more often than I originally thought.  A lot of self-reflection goes into braving the wilderness.  You have to be acutely aware of yourself in order to experience true belonging.