Try Not to Act Surprised

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I spent last weekend in LA. This was not your typical, go to Disney, happen to see a B-level celebrity at Starbucks trip. This was business with a bunch of pleasure thrown in. The weather was great. I stayed with friends. I rented a car so I could get where I needed to go in my own time. And I spent some of my time attending the Taxi Road Rally, an annual songwriting conference.

Nearly everything exceeded my expectations. Each morning, I enjoyed coffee in a beautiful garden. I easily moved through traffic. I even got a private tour of Disney Hall and their pipe organ. I met some great new people and learned some valuable things about the music industry. I even found a beautiful scarf on sale in a drug store. I felt completed charmed.

On Sunday, I sat with new friends on a deck in Laurel Canyon. The view was stunning (see the photo above), and the conversation hit me like a ton of bricks. I have been standing in my own way. I have been limiting myself for years. The midwest and plains states are filled with talented people who are taught to never be a bother. All the time I was trying not to inconvenience anyone, I was inadvertently limiting my own potential.

“Ask and ye shall receive,” is one of the most paraphrased Bible verses (Matthew 7:7-8). How did I miss that? Over the years, my desire not to impose left me never really asking for what I wanted. You could say I wasted a lot of time waiting for someone to offer me something they had no idea I could use. I became good at identifying what I didn’t want, but that’s not the same thing as naming your desires. “Sometimes just saying it out loud is enough,” was one of the bricks lobbed at me on that deck. I wasn’t avoiding putting someone else out. I was giving away my own power.

Then I caught myself sounding surprised. Humility is a wonderful trait, but it almost sounds ungrateful to someone who gives you something from their heart. Here’s the way it should go. Someone asks you what you want. You tell them. They give it to you. You thank them. Our big world wonders what we want most from it. It’s impolite not to answer. What I learned, just last weekend, is receiving life’s gifts and being grateful isn’t selfish. It isn’t the same as grabbing food out of someone else’s mouth. I will work on asking for the things I want. The biggest challenge might be to not act surprised when I get them.

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