acceptance · confidence · relationships · self · spirituality

Faith Takes Many Forms

After the New Year, I wrote about promises. To ourselves and others. This month I focus on the promise of faith.


Faith is a difficult concept to define. For some, it signifies confidence in a spiritual power. For others, it might simply mean placing trust in the unknown. The path can seem clear and straightforward or prove cloudy and unpredictable.

Regardless of how faith is viewed or what method is practiced, it is important to develop a higher level of awareness, connect to a layer beyond the known. A deep belief in something greater than ourselves serves as a guide. It reminds us things will be fine whether we follow the proven course or explore new territory. Faith enhances the lifetime joys while minimizing the challenges of daily living. It celebrates. It cheers. It comforts. It heals. It provides strength when at our weakest and direction if we become lost.

If the idea seems overwhelming, think of faith more as a positive way to approach life, one in which hope and optimism rather than fear and pessimism are the norm. And the good thing is: the more it is practiced, the easier it becomes.

Unsure how to build a solid foundation of faith? There are two basic types that can be drawn upon, no matter the time, situation, or individual.

FAITH IN SELF
Believing in ourselves is faith in its truest form. We hold the power within to push through any obstacle placed in our way. Unfortunately, many of us are the root cause of those obstacles. Negative thoughts, doubt, and critical internal dialogue often lead to self-sabotage. We allow small hurdles to grow and manifest into more than they are, leaving us so unsure of our ability that we become frozen and unable to move forward. It is easier to pity ourselves and give into fear than face adversity and seek solutions. We construct imaginary comfort zones and reasons we cannot succeed to protect us from hurt, disappointment, or failure.

Why inflict unnecessary pain and impose limits when we should be giving ourselves love, compassion, and patience?

The next time you stumble upon a personal roadblock: 1) step out of yourself and think how you would treat a family member or friend in the same situation and then 2) bestow that same kindness upon yourself.

Reclaim the power within.

FAITH IN OTHERS
During times of trouble, it can be easy to fall further into ourselves rather than reach out. And while we often carry the power to solve problems on our own, there will be moments when life proves too much for us to handle. When this happens, do not be afraid to seek help from external sources. Support comes in surprising ways – spouses, children, family, friends, neighbors, employers, school, church, community, and even complete strangers. Asking for assistance may seem daunting but humans are instinctually wired to aid others in crisis. We want to help. We want to be needed. And when given the chance, we want to improve the experiences for others.

No matter how much we try, we cannot do this thing called life alone. We need people throughout our journey.

Open your heart and mind. Listen to ideas other than your own, appreciate advice of those who have gone before, and realize that sharing the struggle has unexpected benefits. Deep bonds are created once we realize we are more alike than different. Limitations become challenges to overcome rather than boundaries we cannot cross. We become reminded of just how wonderful people can be.

We are stronger together.

Believing – in self, in others, in anything – is a unique experience. There is no right or wrong way to believe. If someone imposes opinions or ideas on another, that is not a natural act. It is in the power of personal decision, the devotion to whatever is good for the individual that leads to the very success of one’s faith.

There will be times, however, when we may question the usefulness and purpose of beliefs held for so long. That is okay. Faith tests us – it is only fair we should test it back. If that time ever comes, do not be afraid to dig deeper into the reasons and facets of your conviction. Faith – in any form – should serve us well.

To believe is to hope – for something better, greater, more than what can be seen with the actual eye. It should be exciting and rewarding and above all, fulfilling. The next time Life trips you up … see what is within you, search for what is around you, look beyond the obvious.

Have a little faith.


Join me for A YEAR OF PROMISE!

Follow along as I focus on a different promise each month. This will not be some hard-core, paid program but a gentle exploration of changing how we view (and do) life. And in the end, maybe some parts will remain unchanged while others will be done in an entirely different way. The future is open, it is waiting, and it is all ours …

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Photo by Ray Hennessy 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

confidence · fears · goals · happiness · obstacles

All The Things You Did Not Do: Risk, Reward, And Regret

My son is officially on summer vacation. Over the next few months my heart, energy, and time will be even more focused on family. But this doesn’t mean my mind stops. It never stops. And lately, I have been thinking a lot about regret.

Regret is a funny thing.

For some, there is the fear of missing out on the REWARD. The prospect of learning, improving, or gaining something we have always wanted can be a great motivator. It can push us to open ourselves to new ideas and worlds and experiences as we fear we may never have another chance. If there is something beautiful at the end, we believe the struggle will be worth it.

For others, the RISK can prove too much. The sacrifice required along with a fear of failure can overwhelm to the point of inaction. The perceived cost – relationships, time, energy, money, pride – may prevent us from moving toward something we desire. And sadly, some view life as an ‘either/or’ situation, one where there is limited choice and opportunities are lost forever.

We are only one person, given just one life. Sometimes we have to jump in and have faith everything will come together. Other times, it may require more insight and extensive planning.

Weigh the risk versus the reward. Maybe the reward is worth the risk, maybe it is not. But isn’t it better to be sure before you say no altogether? Perhaps there is a balance to be found. Or there might be a period of chaotic imbalance to get through. Sacrifice is a part of goal seeking. Map it out – the pros and cons, available resources, potential timelines. You might realize it is better to be sorry and try rather than be safe and disappointed. We all have responsibilities – to ourselves and others – but we also deserve to fulfill needs, feel purpose, and find personal happiness.

Live without regret.

FOR ALL YOU DID NOT DO If you wish you would have done things differently, do something today to change the situation. It is never too late to alter the course. Make amends with someone. Rewrite your dream. Start completely over. Sure, you might not get to the exact place you wished for years ago but maybe, just maybe, you will end up somewhere far better.

FOR ALL YOU ARE DOING – If you feel guilt because others make you believe your path is wrong, release the pressure. Pursue the life you envision (as long as it does not hurt someone else) and do so without apology or explanation. We are all unique with different choices and goals. Seek those who put joy over judgment and support your efforts without condition.

FOR ALL YOU HOPE TO DO – Find a way.

Regret nothing.


Photo by Austin Neill on Unsplash

acceptance · confidence · daily life · letting go · simplicity

The Power Of NO

This week I said NO to 5 things that were not already on my schedule. Why?

1) I had too many other non-negotiable, everyday activities (i.e. have-to-dos, need-to-dos, family, home, work, appointments, errands, etc.).

2) I knew that doing the everyday things + these 5 extra things + whatever unexpectedly popped up would have required me to give more than I had to give.

I realize I cannot do it all. More importantly, I no longer try.

Saying NO is not easy for many people. I have little problem doing it. In fact, my first instinct when I am asked something is to politely turn it down. Perhaps this is a major quirk of being an Introvert and a Minimalist all rolled into one. I am severely protective of my time, particularly the rare, free time.

My knee-jerk reaction might be NO, but sometimes I honestly and truly have to say NO so I can:

1) maintain my sanity
2) focus on what matters

Release the guilt of putting your family, your needs, and yourself first.

When we say yes to everything, we never really give our full attention to anything which can = lost memories and disconnect.

When we say yes though our heart screams no, we give away pieces of ourselves which can = anxiety and frustration.

When we say yes to things we do not want to do, we give away irreplaceable pockets of time which can = anger and regret.

When we say yes because of pressure, we give away our control which can = resentment and powerlessness.

Sometimes we must say YES because it is simply the right thing to do. We have compassion for others. We make promises to keep. We have commitments to those we love. We make goals and carry dreams.

But, the next time your instinct questions whether to do something, stop and ask: Why are you thinking of doing it? What are you sacrificing to do it? What are the ramifications if you say no? What are the benefits if you say no?

Saying NO may seem like you are letting someone down or missing out, but it can also bring opportunity.

A chance to:
-enjoy the things you do rather than rush through them
-complete the things you have to do with purpose, detail, and pride
-free up time to take care of yourself
-have cherished, ‘do nothing,’ memory-making moments with the people who matter

The benefit of letting go of the non-essentials is that we make room. Room to pause, reflect, plan, think, rest, relax, appreciate, love. Rather than chasing whatever might be coming next, recognize what is right in front of you.

These are your moments, live them on your terms. Consider saying NO so you can say YES to something better.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

confidence · love · renewal · self

Nurture Your Best Self

A person close to my heart recently shared a video with me. It was about embracing who we are, releasing the hold others have on self-perception, and reclaiming our power. It was a sweet, gentle reminder presented by a passionate and charming young man. And although it was catered to women, it could (and does) apply to everyone.

The core message? Recognize our true worth, realize we are loved, and above all, love ourselves.

If you have ever read my blog, you know I am a strong proponent of self-love. I believe we can show ourselves love by looking deep within, finding what inspires, doing whatever brings joy, and catering to personal needs.

It is okay to be a bit selfish. I do not mean in the arrogant “me me me” way but more in the “take care of myself so I can take care of others” way. Personally, I require a lot of quiet time alone to recharge so I can tackle the challenges life throws at me, and I make sure to find a way to do it. For others, it might be something else.

All that matters is this: dedicate time to being you. Carve out moments to nurture your best self. Show yourself some love.

In today’s chaotic world it is far too easy to move our desires to the bottom of the to-do list or cross them off altogether. Home, family, work, school, hobbies, church, friends, volunteering, etc. are gratifying and can satisfy most needs. But an overlooked problem is that we often become caught up in external demands, crushed by the weight of their importance. And when we do, we try to reach some self-set goal of performing each role effortlessly and with perfection.

How often do you push beyond your personal limits in order to please someone else? Do you ask What Do People Want From Me? and then scramble to meet their assumed or perceived desires? Are your hopes and dreams and wants and needs last on the list?

Living takes enough energy and effort and emotional strength as it is. Let’s stop trying to do so much. Let’s stop worrying about fitting into an unattainable mold. Let’s stop being self-critical whenever we believe we have failed to meet the manufactured expectations of others – and of ourselves. Let’s stop allowing invisible forces to determine our worth.

Rather than What Do People Want From Me? let’s begin to ask What Do I Need?

Spend time on you. Be a bit selfish. Love yourself first. Once you do, you will be able to give more – more of your self, focus, energy, compassion, patience, love – more of your everything to those who need and deserve it.

referenced video link


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

acceptance · confidence · fears · letting go

When Failure Is The Only Option

Our little family is officially on summer break, but my thoughts are still wrapped around something that happened at the end of the school year. My son had a presentation due in the final weeks of the last quarter – an in-depth, visual, interactive, role-play type of assignment.

Now, while I am a hands-on parent and actively involved in my son’s education, I am also a realist.

He is in middle school so I only help when absolutely necessary. He is responsible for class assignments, school projects, homework, studying, deadlines, teacher communications, library returns, etc. I no longer interfere or assist or remind about his academics because he is old enough to be held accountable.

He needs to succeed on his own which also means he needs to fail on his own.

So it was that his presentation was due in two days, and he had neglected to mention it. I scrambled to purchase the most basic of supplies and offered to proofread his final report (I am a writer; I can’t help myself). And as I did, I realized he was probably not going to do very well. The example the teacher provided as a guide was far more elaborate, very detailed, extremely organized, and painstakingly set up to impress.

After rushing between school and baseball to print, cut, arrange, paste, and label, he declared himself to be finished and ready for the big presentation. I studied his project board – it was neat, organized, easy to understand. It was … presentable. But still, I am a writer, a person who loves to create and research. I enjoy the planning and effort it takes to make a project shine – pop – and wow.

I feared his project would not wow.

To be honest, I did not even care about his grade. What truly worried me was that he would feel inferior to other kids who had cooler projects with interesting props and better information. But as I watched my son gaze over his finished product with pride in its creation and satisfaction in its completion, I let it all go.

This was his and his alone – he would decide whether he did just enough or more than enough. And he would ultimately pay the price or be rewarded with his grade.

The next morning my husband went to the presentation (parents were invited) and texted a picture of my son smiling beside his project board. Over dinner that evening my son said a lot of people stopped at his station to listen to him speak and complimented his interpretation of a young boy from ancient China. He compensated for a lack of decorative props and colorful design with extensive knowledge and sheer confidence.

He proved less was more. He succeeded when I feared he might fail.

Too often we believe we know the right way to a happy ending simply because we have already walked the path ourselves, found how to get there. And because of this, we hope to save others from the pain or struggle, make it easier somehow.

The problem? If another person constantly tries to guarantee our success we will never understand the importance purpose, desire, and determination play in the achievement of goals. We will never experience the incredible sense of accomplishment that comes from difficult work or rough days. We will never know our victory is sweeter because we fell down and then picked ourselves up (as many times as it took).

And while sharing personal experience is important, it is not always the best predictor of success. Sometimes we must heed the advice of others who have been there while subsequently ignoring it. We must jump into something with nothing more than the simple faith we will be okay because we have done all we can do.

We need to rely on our ability, believe our best is good enough until we are told it is not. And if we do fail, we need to learn how to avoid failing again. On our own.

Mapping our own path often means we will stay on it longer. Perhaps more importantly, it might reveal that pushing to be better is not always a marker of success. Just because we try harder does not guarantee we will get what we want. Sometimes, perseverance is simply a reminder we are able to do great things, things we may have believed to be out of reach. Yes, we might reach a little too high and tumble to the ground. But that is the beauty of failure. It reminds us why we want something, makes it more desirable, and helps us determine if it is really worth it.

I still plan to nudge my son, encourage him to try a little harder, work a little more, and go above and beyond the moment when he thinks he is finished. But I am also going to let him make his own mistakes and allow him to fail. In truth, I hope he fails a lot because that would mean he stepped outside his comfort zone, took chances, and pushed the limits.

Perhaps then he will see himself as I do – so amazing and talented and smart and funny and loving and a reflection of all that is possible in this world. Only then will I feel I have succeeded.


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change · confidence · goals · renewal

Dream Big And Work Small

Too often when we want something, we do not want to wait for it.

Instant messages, fast food, quick loans, overnight delivery, one hour glasses. The world has been wired to coddle and appease on-demand tastes. And with the increasing speed of everything, our desire to want experiences now has not only become commonplace but expected.

It is human nature to focus on the destination rather than the journey. But while a hurried approach might be fine for the service industry or technology, the rapid-fire tempo of life does not work everywhere, especially when it comes to far-reaching dreams or goals.

Change – real and meaningful change – does not happen quickly. It requires determination, organization, and extreme patience. And this is often the very reason why many people do not pursue their true dreams. They think big but do not work small. They want the reward without taking an honest look at the steps necessary to get there.

We cannot always get what we want simply by wanting it. We must work, then wait, work, and then wait again. Rushing toward satisfaction in certain areas will only lead to 1) disappointment with the result 2) lack of appreciation for the result 3) lackluster result or 4) complete failure.

Life is a project. Treat it that way.

Whether it be physical or mental, a career path, school, relationships, home improvement, or a major life change, mapping out the ideal end and expectation is the key. And the best place to start? At the beginning.

  1. Where do you hope to be? What exactly do you want? I mean truly want. Focus on the overall picture, aim high and dream big but be sure you are specific in your goal. Envision the intricate details of your final reward. Imagine the incredible feeling of accomplishment. Having a clear visual along with the anticipation of a successful end will help propel you forward when times get tough and all seems impossible.
  2. How will you get there? What is your simple plan? And I do mean simple. Create a few manageable steps. Again, you have to start somewhere so start at the beginning. Decide what must be done and go in order – do not jump to an easier, more appealing task if others must be completed first. Work diligently and once done, move onto the next. And do not forget to take pride in the smallest of victories and celebrate along the way.

And for those times when you feel stuck, defeated, or in need of a reality check:

BE DETERMINED Short term pain for long-term gain. If you made a decision, stay committed and resolve to see it through. There will be times when it all seems too much and overwhelming. With any large undertaking it is inevitable. You will question whether it is worth the time, energy, or emotional and physical effort. But if you obsess and get caught up in the amount of work involved, you will never get anywhere. When it all seems too much…

GET ORGANIZED Work small for big results. Think about it: a bridge is not built road first – it needs a stable, strong foundation, a base to rest upon. Even this article is not published immediately, it goes through stages of content creation, research, editing, proofreading, etc. Work in an organized manner and find a way to overcome every step, no matter how involved or consuming. If that way does not work, seek another. Simply crossing one thing off the list and moving onto the next can be a great motivator to…

HAVE PATIENCE Stay the course. Be sympathetic to the process and your journey. If you need to reassess and alter the course, do it. If you got through a rough spot, treat yourself. When you need a break, take it. And if all becomes too much, show some compassion. Just do not forget what you are working toward and the hurdles you are willing to overcome to get there. Baby steps can turn into long distance marathons and crossing that proverbial finish line will feel unbelievable.

If there is something on your wish list that seems unattainable, do not fret. It can be yours.  Just don’t expect to get it overnight.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE