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

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

discovery · happiness · learning · love

Learning To Love When The World Wants To Hate

There is a lot of negativity in this world. Ask anyone. We see it on the news, scroll through it on social media, encounter it in public. It surrounds us.

I have tried to embrace every day of my second chance at this crazy life but late last year, I felt something shift inside. I became increasingly angry, frustrated, and impatient. I felt hopeless. In my attempt to stay informed of current events and socialize online, I was inadvertently subjected to the comments of strangers – people who prefer to label, stereotype, name-call, demean, criticize, and spread hate.

Why? Why do so many waste energy and time – precious moments of this life – infecting others with their own personal hurt?

At first I thought the people who prefer to knock others down rather than lift them up were doing it out of spite, a pure hatred for complete strangers who were different or disagreed with their views. And to be honest, I believe a fair number of people are like this and will never change. Then I wondered if maybe there are just that many mean and uncaring people out there and that I was now in the minority.

In actuality, I prefer to believe this: the anger directed at others is an outward expression of their internal pain, fears, and frustrations. They feel ignored and hope to be heard. They feel unappreciated and seek validation. They perceive the world as lacking in compassion for their plight and as such, refuse to give it to anyone else. They are tired (aren’t we all?) and unable to listen, consider another opinion, or try to understand. In their weary impatience, they choose the easy route – they lash out rather than look in.

What we need more of is looking in.

Whenever we are hurting, we should want to dig deep, stare into ourselves, and see what needs help. Yes, I know this sends many people outside of their comfort zone with a spiraling fear of what they might actually discover. But it needs to be done – by everyone.

Because although we may think we can turn away, somehow remain unaffected by the negativity, we cannot. It is contagious. Intolerance, rudeness, bias, and prejudice have a sneaky way about them. Hate compounds more readily than love and the more it is spread, the more it becomes entrenched in our society. We become immune to it. We begin to think it is normal. We accept it. And sadly, we do not see the breakdown until it is too late.

I saw the breakdown and did not like what the negativity was doing to me. I decided to look in.

I am not an expert at happiness. In fact, I fail way more than I succeed in its pursuit. But, I am a problem solver and when I ask myself a question, I become determined to find the answer.

The first step was to work on myself. In an effort to undo the damage, I began Inspired ME, Joyful BE with a simple mission: to spread a positive message and inspire everyday moments.

My original intent was to blog on a personal level and for self-improvement. I want to be a better person. I want to live a better life. My days here are numbered – cancer taught me that – and I want to be sure they are lived on my own terms. More importantly, I want to enjoy them.

I broke life into areas I perceived as important and these became the core topics. Some I hope to improve, others offer a simple reminder of what matters. I included the good and the bad because Life is not only lived on the bright and happy days but also the darkest and saddest, in every moment.

Choosing how to spend those moments is up to us. We can create our own inspiration. And when we do, we find joy.

Once the blog gained a little momentum, I realized something. There is a purpose. There is a desire. Not just for me but others. And although some may not know how to look in or refuse to do so, there is an inherent need for people to share what is good and encourage others to do the same.

I am not alone.

There are many of us who condemn the negative behavior. As such, we should not be ashamed of having the best of intentions and big hearts. Morals and values that advance society should be worn proudly. Despite an appearance of the opposite via news and social media, hope and love and tolerance and compassion are the majority.

It begins with one person. A looking in and shift within the self. Seeking and filling the days with more of what is good soon becomes a habit, something so familiar and welcome that when it is absent, we feel empty. As a result, we realize we are worthy of the joy. We deserve it. We demand it. We feed and nourish the soul with happiness to keep it content. And when we do, it spreads.

The more we embrace and share the good, the better chance we have to erase whatever is bad. Unlike hate which seeks to destroy a person, the virus of love is healing. It can be highly infectious – touching us first and then family, friends, neighbors, churches, schools, communities, cities, states, countries, and finally the world.

It is a slow process, requiring patience and diligence, but there is strength in numbers. Each of us holds the power to alter the course and restore a broken world. We can help the joy go viral. We are the cure.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE

celebration · gratitude · happiness · love · relationships

Sometimes We Forget To Love

love-the-world-you-made

Sometimes we forget to love. Not in the sense that we don’t have the emotional feeling, but rather we forget to tell someone why we love them.

Whether it be a spouse, partner, relative, friend, or child, the very act of loving someone can become stale.

We might say I Love You a thousand times a day and of course we express our love in a myriad of non-verbal ways: caring for home and health and school and work needs, volunteering, attending an activity, cheering an event, listening to troubles, showering hugs and kisses. These are all important and vital expressions of love.

But do we ever stop to remember WHY we love someone?

Take a moment to think a little deeper, perhaps love a little more. Focus on the reasons you fell in love with your spouse or partner. Consider the benefits your extended family and close friends bring to your life. And of course, if you have a child or children, realize the amazing beauty in their very existence.

Everyone is worthy of love and deserves to be appreciated.

Tell someone why you love them. Let them know the reason they hold a special piece of your heart. Remind them – and yourself – of their value. If speaking the words is difficult, write them. The sentiment does not have to be flowery or poetic, it just needs to be genuine. A simple card or note works. Or if you like to make it a gift, some ideas are below.

Love with joy. Love with purpose. Love and be loved.


Knock Knock What I Love About You Fill In The Love Journal – simple yet sweet, this book works for anyone but there are specific versions, too: mom, dad, crush, us, bestie.

52 Simple Reasons Why I Love You – Why I Love You prompts are easy and fun to fill in.

Why I Love You: A Journal Of Us  – Fun prompts for documenting your own unique love story.

Letters To My Love: Write Now. Read Later. Treasure Forever. – An Oprah’s Favorite Things Pick 2015 and an awesome keepsake for any couple!

I Love You Because – Wall Hanging Memo Board – Simple yet beautiful way to remind someone of your love every day.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE