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 …

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

celebration · daily life · gratitude

Giving Thanks

Now is a perfect time to pause, reflect, and celebrate.

PAUSE to enjoy the season.
REFLECT on the blessings given.
CELEBRATE those who matter most.

Gratitude is not a one-time event nor should it be reserved for only one day. Find the goodness. Big or small, it is there – in the everyday.

Be awake. Be alive. Give thanks with a grateful heart.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!


HOLIDAY HOURS:  I am slowing down for the rest of the year so I can be present with my two favorite blessings – my husband and son. I will post and respond to correspondence, but please be patient with any delays. #beinthemoment #makememories  ~JL

gratitude · health · renewal · self

What Is Waiting For You?

Last week was one of those weeks. The kind where everything is more difficult than usual and nothing seems to go right. I won’t expand on the gory details, but I will say this: the new-school-year honeymoon is over, my son is a soon-to-be teenager, my husband is travelling extensively (again), unexpected house problems keep popping up, and oh well … life.

I felt like all I did was put out fires. Every back-to-school fall is just different enough – just challenging enough – to change the rules for our little family. I generally do not like surprises. And last week surprised me with its continuous onslaught of frustration. Oh, did I mention I also don’t like being frustrated? Of course, I am a realist – I do not expect things to go smoothly every moment of every day. But it would have been nice to have one day pass with ease.

Yet even in the midst of catastrophic thinking, my mind kept returning to one glorious thought: I have two blog posts and a novel to draft. My writing is waiting for me.

In truth, part of my overwhelming sense of frustration comes from the simple desire to work. Back to school always means back to full-time writing for me. And not finding the necessary and appropriate times to do so leaves me flustered. You would think after almost eight years of doing this gig that I would have a very strict, set schedule, right? Well, I did. Once. But that did not last.

As with any family, our needs are in a constant state of change. Despite my effort to keep my son perpetually small and snuggable, he continues to grow and as such, the responsibilities grow. Also, my husband’s career is increasingly demanding, requiring frequent out-of-state travel. And of course, I have changed – in many ways. So though I crave structure and scheduled hours, I choose to be flexible when life builds up and overflows.

I could easily say “I can no longer do this, I’m done,” but I don’t. The reason? Writing is not only my job, it is my outlet. Aside from any financial benefit, it provides an escape, a purpose, a sense of accomplishment, the ability to connect, an opportunity to learn about myself and the world. Writing is not only entertaining but therapeutic. It challenges me, pushing me beyond my imaginary boundaries.

A whole lot of who I am is figured out when I write. Aside from the people I love, it is one of the things that truly matters – which is why I make time for it even when I do not have time.

I find comfort in knowing I have something waiting for me. 

WHAT IS WAITING FOR YOU?

Is there something that makes the outside world go away? If so, do not become so trapped by the duties of daily life that you neglect to do it. It does not matter what it is – reading, writing, art, gardening, cooking, baking, decorating, exercise, meditation, a sport, a craft, anything.

When you are caught up in the craziness of life, listen for what is calling to you. What do you wish you could be doing instead? What do you look forward to at the end of a long day? What truly matters?

Take a look at what you make time for. Identify your outlet. And when you do, plug into it.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

celebration · daily life · gratitude · love

Capture Your Life: Get In The Picture

with my dad, circa 1974

I am a mom. And as the mom, I do many things others might forget. One such thing? Taking pictures. I am the official family photographer.

My husband and son often complain when I whip out the camera and proceed to snap shot after shot after shot after shot (I take a lot). But what they do not realize is this: they will thank me someday. Some day when one of us is gone, we will be grateful for the moments captured.

Today is my father’s birthday. And on his birthday, I look at photos of him. I go back in search of what I cannot remember. It is a difficult couple of days – August 17th his birthday and August 20th the day he died. It is a strange stretch of time where I celebrate and mourn.

There are many regrets that follow a loss so big and wide. I was only eighteen when he died. Still technically a kid – so full of my own worries and focused on my own dreams to realize and understand how fleeting and precious every moment was with him. But one obvious regret? I wish I had more pictures to help me remember him.

The year of his death – 1988 – was in the pre-technology, electronic boom. Yes, we had Walkmans, boomboxes, and Polaroid and disposable cameras. But access to photography was still a haphazard and annoying process. You had to have the camera. You had to remember to bring the camera. You had to take the actual picture. You had to bring it somewhere to have it developed. And finally, you had to go back and pick up the photos.

I feel very fortunate to even have the photos I do. His childhood was on a small-town farm and the few pictures taken during that time are monochromatic, rare, and only covering a couple of years. Later, there are snapshots of his life as a husband and father and farmer but again, there are not many.

When he died, I believed he would always be here – in person – so I could physically hug him, love him, and see him up close. I think about him every day and often wonder what he would look like as a thriving 76-year-old man rather than a timeless 47-year-old. He was still in his prime, and I instinctively imagine him much the same – strong, active, and ever-handsome, with those sparkling, mischievous eyes.

I am left to create my own image of him and carry it as a memory.

This. This is why I take so many photos and selfies.

I want my son to look back and say “I remember this day.” But more importantly, I want him to remember me. And his father. And the rest of his family. And his friends. I want him to see how we were then and every time after. I do not want him to have the fear of forgetting the people he loves.

So to all you out there – the ones who stand behind the camera rather than in front of it – get in the picture. I guarantee even the most horrible selfie will one day be cherished because you were there. Stop worrying about taking the perfect photo. Stop imagining how many likes and comments you will get on social media. Focus on making an image perfect for your memory. No one else needs to see them. In truth, that is how much of life should be. Live the moments for you rather than an online audience.

Capture the people you love, your moments, your life. Say cheese!


END NOTE: In a digital age, it is easy to store photos on a cloud, computer, or phone. I suggest you get those photos into print form. And once you do, put those actual pictures into an honest-to-goodness photo album. (I use THIS ALBUM – it looks like book spines on my shelf!) I also recommend writing dates, names, and places on the back of each picture before filing. I promise you will be happy you did. One of my favorite things to do is look through these physical albums with my son. He loves seeing pictures of milestones and vacations and everyday life. And the moment is made more special snuggling on a couch and touching fingertips to real images rather than swiping left on a screen.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

acceptance · daily life · gratitude

Stop Wishing Your Life Away

I am still on summer hours but the countdown to school has begun. My little family has two weeks left before our strict schedule officially kicks in. That means there are only fourteen more days to ignore bedtime, sleep in late, linger over meals, and enjoy whatever life brings.

My husband is already setting up weeks upon weeks of work travel for this fall, and my son is back to evening baseball practices. We have finalized appointments, shopped for locker supplies, and entirely revamped a middle school wardrobe. And amidst all of the preparation, I feel sad.

The end of summer always saddens me.

In my mind, it signals a loss of freedom. Our family will again be held hostage by to-do lists, alarm clocks, homework, and busy nights. Rather than spend carefree days together, the three of us will become proverbial ships passing in the night as we hurry through meals and rush out the door for games, practices, and other obligations.

Summer is what dreams are made of, a season where everything seems possible and the fun never ends.

It is easy to become caught in this trap: the one where we wish for a special phase in life to last. Often it seems the good times – the really marvelous moments where our hearts are simultaneously filled with joy and peace – are too fleeting.

Much like a summertime memory, we want to catch the best days, collect them as if they were fireflies to be bottled in a jar. We hope to hold them close so we might experience the magic again and again. We want more – to not only capture the moments but relive them. We wish the happiness could last forever.

But we all know nothing is forever.

Just imagine if those happy moments were never-ending. Would we look forward to them? Would we appreciate them? Would we even notice them? Probably not.

The occasions, vacations, milestones, and other unique times in life give us something to work toward. We eagerly anticipate their arrival. When they do occur, we value them. We celebrate their existence. They provide an escape from the reality of daily demands, an opportunity to recharge, a reminder of why the hard days are worth it.

Maybe the answer is simple: we should stop waiting for something special. Every day – no matter how ordinary – is reason enough to celebrate.

Rather than complain or fuss over our hectic schedules this school year, I intend to embrace the crazy. Yes, it will be more stressful. Relaxing and uneventful? Forget about those. There will be fewer quiet moments and more responsibilities. But they are mine. All mine. The reality is that I have an active son who thrives on competition. I have a hardworking and amazing husband. I love them. I love what I do. I love it all.

I will stop wishing my life away. Because in all honesty, my dreams have already come true.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE