gratitude · celebration · self · daily life · happiness

A Grateful Heart

In a modern world, it becomes easy to miss the blessings in the everyday. With all there is to do amid the weight of responsibility, we become lost, trapped in a cycle of obligation and distraction.

Realizing how fortunate we are. Recognizing the beauty that surrounds us. Finding joy in the simplest of things. Noticing what people do – not in service or duty but from kindness. These are often overlooked or forgotten in the mix of a busy day.

How do you react to what is around you? What is your message?

I encourage you to pay attention. To the blessings. To the world. To your life. To the stranger who holds the door, the co-worker who makes you smile, the friend who never fails, the family member who always listens. There are little signs everywhere and in everything, reminders of all that is good – in others, in ourselves.

This holiday season, begin a journey toward gratitude.

  • perform an act of kindness
  • tell someone they are loved
  • offer forgiveness without condition
  • thank anyone who comes to your aid
  • show compassion for those in need
  • lift another up without expectation
  • acknowledge your own worth
  • receive apology without judgement
  • look for lessons in the everyday
  • create joy in everything you do
  • accept what has been
  • embrace what might be

Begin with a foundation of basic appreciation, allow the smallest of blessings to build upon each other, nurture and watch them grow into something beautiful. Go forward with a grateful heart.


Photo by Alfred Schrock on Unsplash

bookshelf · celebration · goals · gratitude · obstacles

(Almost) Crossing The Finish Line

In my other life, I am an author of contemporary fiction. Like much of this past year, it has been a challenge getting my latest project from chapter one to publication. But, I am happy to announce I am almost there.

The Breakup Effect will officially release later this month, and since it was directly inspired by this website, I thought it fitting to share the news here.

As a THANK YOU, I am offering a special FIRST LOOK PRICE for KINDLE*. Download your copy for just 99CENTS! This price expires midnight EST 11.9.18. Please feel free to share this offer with others.

Find Out More …
Read SAMPLE CHAPTERS [extended excerpt]
View BOOK PAGE [details, sample, buy]
Visit LAPALM BOOKS [official site]

*No Kindle? No problem. Amazon offers a FREE Reading App so you can read any Kindle eBook on any device (computer, tablet, phone). GET THE APP.

There is more work to do but after dedicating every available moment to this book, I look forward to blogging regularly and re-connecting with everyone here. I have missed it so …

discovery · goals · happiness · obstacles · self

FALL In Love With Life [2]: Let Nothing Destroy Your Joy

This is the second post in a two-part series FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE which I hope will inspire you to regain control, discover what matters, embrace change, and get back to living a life you love.

In the previous post STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME I shared how viewing our difficulties solely as the result of external circumstances could lead us to believe we have no control. Blaming outside forces for our inability to reach goals is not only unproductive, it can be destructive, particularly if we project our frustration or resentment onto other people. Making and relying on excuses prevents us from gaining insight into what we want and the reasons we are not getting it.

PART TWO: LET NOTHING DESTROY YOUR JOY

We need to go back to the beginning and define What We Want. This can be difficult because our instinct is to make a list of every little thing we wish was different in our lives. That is a trap, a distraction, and unrealistic. Instead, we need to look deep within and diagnose What Is Missing. What is that ONE thing that is not working or broken?

This. This is what we want.

Discovering the core want has two benefits:

  • While it often seems we have many things to repair, there is usually a primary issue disrupting other areas and creating imbalance. Working to correct one can heal and improve others.
  • If we dedicate our thoughts and energy on one topic, the focus becomes clearer, the task appears less daunting, and our success is more likely. We realize real change is possible. We can do this.

First, ASK and ANSWER the tough questions:

1) WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Think about what is missing. If you had unlimited free time, how would you spend it? On a hobby, travel, education, self-care, a goal, certain people? Write down everything you would do without the worry of a job, caring for others, home projects, etc. Once you see what your heart desires, rank them. What comes out on top? That is your Joy – pursue it.

2) WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK?
Determine what stands in the way. There is something preventing you from getting what you want – people, things/clutter, chores, self-esteem, fear, confidence, guilt, money. Yes, some things are out of your current control. There are people who need you and places you must be. Find the workable things you can simplify, delegate, prioritize, influence, or change.

3) WHAT ARE YOU HIDING BEHIND?
Be realistic but more importantly, be real. Pinpoint the excuses you use to procrastinate, distract, or even sabotage progress. Chronicle your actions for a week. Is it perfectionism, unnecessary tasks, perceived needs of others, your personality? You might be surprised to realize you waste a lot of time. Only when you accept your role and responsibility can you bring about change.

4) WHAT IS THE COST?
When we fail to nurture the person we want to be, we lose something. Frustration and resentment over not getting what we want can lead to broken relationships, poor health, risky behaviors, a lack of purpose, and a desperate search for peace. What do you pay for not doing what you want?

HONESTY is a requirement. When we believe we are stuck and just going through the motions, like our desires are not met, or that we are ignored, rejected, invisible to the outside world … THIS is when we must look inward and find out what lies at the heart of our frustration. Because that is precisely what frustration is: not getting what we want, expect, or need.

For me, it was an inability to make time to write effectively. I battled stress which led to emotional exhaustion which led to physical fatigue, procrastination, unrealistic expectations, and a life out of balance. I was letting go. In most instances letting go can be a positive move. The problem arises when we are constantly required to let go of the things that bring us joy in order to make room for things that do not. I got tired of putting off – my time, my aspirations, my dreams, my life.

LIFE IS NOT SOMETHING WE SHOULD EVER PUT OFF.

I challenge you to figure out what is missing and when you do, do everything in your power to reclaim it. Become committed to giving yourself more of what you want. Find a way. There is always a way.

Research multiple solutions
Develop a flexible plan
Delegate when possible
Let go of what does not matter
Prioritize what does matter
Determine the motivation
Take small steps and reward yourself with big happiness whenever you overcome one

CREATE A LIFE WITH YOU IN IT.


Photo by Sandis Helvigs at Unsplash

acceptance · change · goals · obstacles · self

FALL In Love With Life [1]: Stop Playing The Blame Game

This is the first post in a two-part series FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE which I hope will inspire you to regain control, discover what matters, embrace change, and get back to living a life you love.

PART ONE: STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME

A new season is fast approaching. I love the changes they bring – to nature, to tradition, to ourselves. This coming fall, however, is a sad reminder of personal goals not met. One year ago, I was scheduled to finish edits and publish my latest novel. That didn’t happen. Then I planned to complete it in spring. That didn’t happen. Now, I intend to publish within months and am fearful I will fail yet again.

The PERCEPTION? Everything was to blame.

Family: It was not an easy year. I spent the majority tackling life’s bumps and bruises for the two people I cherish most – my husband and son. They needed me, I happily delivered. The time, attention, love, care, patience, worry, and stress dedicated to them is not something I regret.

Personality: We introverts require ample time to pause and recharge in preparation for the next day or challenge. And in my perpetually overwhelmed state, I gave myself the necessary moments to reset. But now I wonder … did I really need SO much downtime?

Priorities: There was always something more important. In addition to the family, jobs, home, school, sports, pets, travel, and the simple demands of daily life required my immediate attention, pulled me away from the long stretches of free time needed to work effectively.

Exhaustion: Thanks to cancer, I still suffer from extreme periods of fatigue. I have limited physical energy and once it is spent on the most pressing needs, all else gets pushed aside to the miraculous day when I will feel “better” and have “more time.”

Work: Getting a book to completion is not a simple task. Aside from the writing, editing, and rewrites, there is proofing, formatting, covers, marketing, blogging, launching, promotions, updates, and more. Finishing one step was daunting. Knowing another twenty waited? Sigh.

Every person struggles to manage work and home life. But, the needs of family encroached into such a large part of my day and at an unfair pace that I became overwhelmed and frustrated. There was not enough time set aside for my goals (namely, finish my book). I was last on the list. Heck, I wasn’t even on the list anymore.

The REALITY? Life had become unbalanced.

I am notorious for setting high standards for personal productivity. If I can’t give my best effort, I do not want to do it. So rather than tackle something half-way, I lowered expectations for myself as a writer. Yet even though my standards decreased, my desires and aspirations to improve, be better, and succeed never went away. In fact, they just kept piling on.

I wanted to be the best wife and mother. I needed to recharge. I kept getting more to do. I needed to rest. But amid it all, I still had a book that needed to be finished.

I was stressed and emotionally exhausted. And with so much weighing heavy on my mind and heart, I sought every possible escape, excuse, and method of procrastination.

Oh, and did I mention the enormous guilt? I felt it when I did the things for me (like wrap myself in a cozy cocoon of introversion), and I felt it when I did not (like neglect my passion for writing). I mean seriously, why should I want to do something so demanding and all-consuming that it steals time away from the people who need me, the family I love? Why should I want to publish another book? BECAUSE I DESERVE IT.

We all deserve something of our own. And if we are not getting that something, we need to stop blaming others and take responsibility. Be open to hurt and frustration but also be prepared to accept your role, your choices, and what you can do to change things and move forward.

There is an old saying that perception is reality and in my case, it became true. However, once I realized my perception was negatively impacting my capacity for joy, I sought something else:

PERSPECTIVE…

There will always be too much to do and too little time. There will always be distractions, worries, and reasons to complain. There will always be something holding us back from our hopes and dreams. But rather than search for imaginary scapegoats to everyday problems, we should seek greater insight into what might be wrong and then find workable solutions.

NEXT TIME: I ask (and answer) the tough questions in my quest to get what I want.


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

daily life · obstacles · simplicity · technology

Seek Loves Rather Than Likes

It is no secret our online lives are consumed with likes. Personal validation often comes in the form of a digital thumbs up or colorful emoji. But amid the lighthearted posts, reactions, and comments, there is a dark side. Insecurity, rejection, jealousy, deception, procrastination, and addiction are negative aspects of logging on and the problem is, we might not realize it until it is too late.

Social media strengthens family bonds, fosters old and new friendships, informs, leads to exciting opportunities, inspires dreams, and even helps people find love. Yet in an ironic twist, the very tools intended to connect and encourage deeper relationships can also create division and a severe sense of loneliness.

Social media is not for everyone.

Like many, social media had become a habit for me. And while some might not view it as a negative experience, time online took over a large part of my day. And the more it did, the less I accomplished – for family, around the home, as a writer. I needed to make a change, a dedicated effort to redirect my energy and purpose.

For the past year, I have been shifting my personal life away from the virtual world, back into the real one. I decreased my screen time, logged on less often, and allowed myself to deal with the discomfort that comes from missing out.

It has been a test that I failed many times. I admit I felt left out knowing others were keeping in touch more. I worried people would no longer think or care about me because I was not posting or commenting enough. I wondered if they would view my absence and lack of interaction as indifference to their own lives. It took a long time to find peace with my decision and in all honesty, I am still working on it.

The longer I stay offline, the more I realize how little it serves my personality. I love seeing photos of my friends, their funny posts, and news about their accomplishments and travels. But I also find it overwhelming. It is too much to process for a mind like mine that single tasks and works methodically. I am simply wired differently, thriving on face to face interactions and deep conversations.

This is not a rail against technology or social media. In fact, as a writer and blogger I am very involved in both. As part of my job, I enjoy staying informed, learning new things, connecting with others, and meeting interesting people. But I also need balance and in seeking that balance, I remember there are many things to love – offline. Nature, home, travel, health, animals, self, people, solitude, companionship, work, and hobbies to name a few.

When we step away from the screen and focus on what is tangible and in front of us, we reclaim a part of ourselves and re-discover the simple joy of being in a moment.

It is okay to give in to modern world expectations and be social. Like your laptop, but seek to love your life more.


A FEW TIPS:

Decide. Does logging on create tension within family or friendships? Does it interfere with work or productivity? Does it keep you from doing what you want? If it does not enhance your current life or future goals, a change may be needed.

Start. Make a conscious and logical decision to log off. Ease into the change and realize it might take time to retrain yourself. Begin with short breaks – one hour, one day, one week – to find what is manageable.

Simplify. If you log on, go back briefly to see what has been shared in your newsfeed. Focus on notifications and private messages. Reach out and connect with those who love hearing from you.

Plan. When you log off, have an idea of what will fill the time. To stay motivated, combine small and large projects so you can feel an immediate sense of accomplishment while working toward a larger goal.

Enjoy. You are giving up online time for something greater. Spend those regained moments pursuing what you love, with people who matter. Making the perceived sacrifice worth it will lead to a successful transition.


Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

celebration · daily life · gratitude · happiness · self

This One Life

Today I celebrate six years cancer free.

At times it has been easy,
easy to forget the fear and struggle that came with diagnosis and treatment.
Other times it has been difficult,
difficult to remember the pockets of hope that come with remission.

For within peace, there lies chaos.

Life loves to stir the pot, rock the boat, press every button.
It gives and takes. Pushes or pulls. Hurts then heals.

Surviving has not made me perfect,
it has made me purposeful.
I have been gifted clearer eyes with which to view my world
and myself.

Parts of me are better than before,
others not so much.
I do not always like what I see,
but I love who I am.

I have changed. There is no doubt I have changed.
It is impossible not to…

I have always been curious,
but cancer gave me insight.
I was always outspoken,
but cancer amplified the voice
within my mind and heart.

Yes, I have changed the way I live and love and spend my time.
Some believe I no longer care enough but the truth is this:
I care too much.
So much that I made the decision to release the hurt, let negativity go –
from people, things, emotions.

I do not have much time.
No one does.

The moments that matter? Limited.
They come in waves and I choose to get lost in them. Swim in their joy.

We all have choices. Whether right or wrong, they are ours to make.
Love them.
We all have this one life. Whether short or long, it is ours to take.
Live it.


Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

confidence · fears · happiness · letting go · self

Declare Your Independence

Happy Fourth of July!

Today, I hope you find the courage. Courage to break free from:

HOSTILITY · DEPRESSION · FEAR · ANGER

STRESS · DISTRUST · THINGS · SADNESS · GUILT

JUDGEMENT · COMPARISON · PRESSURE · CRITICISM

HURT · FRUSTRATION · IMPATIENCE · NEGATIVITY

PAIN · INTOLERANCE · DISRESPECT · HATE

Seek all that is good. Celebrate it – by yourself and with those you love.

Live. Liberate. Pursue your happiness.


Photo by Trent Yarnell on Unsplash