acceptance · change · obstacles · renewal · self · simplicity

Sometimes, Love Makes Us Do Difficult Things


[This content is cross-posted to the author’s blog at LaPalm Books.]

Sometimes having a degree in Psychology is … cool. It encourages me to view life through a different lens. I seek to better understand myself, others, experiences, everything.

Psychological upset is the primary inspiration for the fiction I write. I love (in a demented-author kind of way) putting my protagonists through difficult situations and seeing them come out the other side (hopefully wiser and happier but definitely stronger). I also do it because I am forever an optimist. I believe in the power of the human spirit. The ability to push through the darkest of times and overcome personal hardships deserves to be celebrated and shared.

I believe in second chances. Do overs.

But sometimes, having a degree in Psychology is … not so cool. It leads me to become overly introspective. I begin to question myself, others, experiences, everything.

I am a solver. I look for whatever might be broken and try to fix it. I want to right every wrong – in my little world and elsewhere. If not kept in check, I attempt to solve problems that aren’t even problems at all. As someone who seeks answers to infinite questions, things can become very messy very fast, and it is easy to feel worried, overwhelmed, and unfocused. In these moments, I have learned to be patient. I wait. And when I wait, something wonderful happens.

Life resets itself. I begin again.

Lately, writing has fallen down on my list of personal priorities. And as I searched for a way to push it back to the top, I considered the obvious reasons: family responsibilities, frequent travel, social requirements, home workloads, overscheduled calendars, personal care, the list goes on. To put it bluntly, my process was not working and was in desperate need of repair. So I paused. Went silent.

And in the silence, there often comes clarity.

After some deep reflection, I realized the problem wasn’t everything else. It wasn’t due to a lack of balance, a need for simplicity and organization, more discipline or more time. The reason everything felt off with my writing was well … because of my writing.

I thought it was simple burnout from publishing a book a year or stress from trying to create full-time or frustration from the neverending need to market or being overwhelmed by the demands of the industry or fatigue from doing it all on my own. The truth is, it was. It was all those things.

But it was also something more.

For the past ten years, I have neglected parts of my life in an effort to create quality content and keep up the countless tasks that come with being an indie writer. When I write, I write not only for myself but for others. To show we are more alike than different. That what troubles you troubles me. That we can get through dark moments and difficulty and come out better on the other side.

There is no doubt that writing occupies a big space in my heart. It is not only WHAT I do, but WHO I am. I love it.

But sometimes, love makes us do difficult things.

Love for my family is making me move toward them. Love for myself is making me the highest priority. And love for writing is making me take a break from it.

WHAT DOES THIS MEAN? It means I will work – but less. I will write – but not with the intention of finishing or publishing a new book. I will blog – but even less than I do now. I will post to social media – but only when I feel like it. I will market – whenever. Nothing will be scheduled, planned, or expected. There will not be any goals or deadlines.

And the beauty of it is … I haven’t a clue how things will go.

I refuse to give up – but I am unafraid to give in. To the instinct, the known, the feeling that I do have to change things up and let go a little so I can hold onto what matters.

WILL I RETURN FULL-TIME? Maybe. I will take the coming months off and reflect on what has been. And when the new year comes, I hope to have a better plan for what might be.

I am not done. I am just getting started. And I can’t wait to come back and share it all with you.

How can you help?

~J

compassion · health · renewal · self · spirituality

Rest You for the Best You

Photo by Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash

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

Remember being a kid during the summer? We would do nothing for hours or do something that felt like nothing because it was so undemanding. We would move through each day with play and fun or pass idle moments without a care. We did not fill every waking thought with to-do lists, and we would (gasp) complain of being bored.

We would relax. We would rest.

In a modern world of non-stop everything and endless responsibility, it becomes almost impossible to pause. Life and its demands do not stop for longer, sunnier, blue sky days.

We need to create pockets of downtime, force ourselves to rest.

For some, it is a few quiet moments reading at the end of the day when everyone else has gone to bed. For others, it may be found rocking in a chair with a hot cup of coffee while watching the sunrise. The good news? There is no wrong way and there are countless ways to find peace. To begin, discover what part needs the most attention.

BODY
The most obvious need comes from our physical selves. We know the signs of physical exhaustion and can easily solve it by getting much needed sleep. Of course the best solution is to follow a structured schedule where we routinely go to bed and rise at the same times each day. Doing this trains our bodies to adapt during the day without the need for naps, caffeine, sugar, or other temporary and unhealthy fixes. Make this the summer you get quality rest every night so you can make the best of every day.

Not sure how much sleep you need? Find the ideal amount at Sleep Needs.

MIND
It never stops. The notifications, the texts, the to-do’s and don’ts. Thanks to ever-present technology and daily demands, we cannot catch a break. Our brains are in overdrive due to excess information coming from our devices, work, family, home, school, church, and more. It is an easy trap to fall in:  the need to stay updated on everything and everyone. But the fear of missing out and desire to stay on top of every detail not only overwhelms but hurts our health. Make this the summer you rest your mind and shift focus to what matters. 

Wondering how to free your thoughts? Try these simple tasks at How to Settle the Mind.

SPIRIT
To many, the spirit is elusive, a mysterious known yet unknown thing. It is in the difficulty of definition that we find it hard to give it the attention it needs. The answers are simple, however. For though the spirit is unique to all,  it is easy to pinpoint whatever brings the greatest joy. When we do something that feeds our spirit, we get a sense of feeling balanced, content, and perhaps even complete. It can come in any form – reading, gardening, prayer, mediation, music, dance, writing, etc.

When you have found yours, you will know it. And when you know it, engage in it. As often as possible.

For it is the spirit that does not necessarily need to rest but be reassured. It needs us to tend it and when we do, it will nourish every other part of our lives. Make this the summer you do more of whatever makes your heart happy.

Need some help? Learn how to Take Care of Your Spirit.

My go to? A simple 10 minute morning meditation. Meditation does not have to be some complicated, time consuming process. It can be as simple as tapping into our senses while sitting still in a quiet setting. I like it because it declutters my mind, pauses my body, and replenishes my spirit while leaving me focused and ready for the day.

The internet is full of information about the mind, body, and spirit. I encourage you to educate yourself with reputable and trusted sources. The options are endless! Find visual video techniques. Read tips and tricks on health sites. Discover a positivity blog like Inspired Me, Joyful Be :). There is something for everyone. Begin now and I guarantee that the ‘rest’ will fall into place.


P.S. – I am taking my own advice and getting away. There will be no July post as I road trip around the country with my little family. I look forward to reconnecting in August and wish you the happiest of summers!
daily life · discovery · learning · self

Live Your Story

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

Our lives tell a story. Sometimes it resembles a Greek tragedy, other times a lighthearted comedy. There might be bits of action, romance, suspense, a touch of the supernatural, or even sci-fi mixed in. And much like an entertaining tale, there are:

  • ROLES – the parts we play from childhood through adulthood
  • SCENES – the different life phases spanning birth to death
  • CHARACTERS – the people we interact with along the way
  • SETTINGS – the backdrop of where we live out the years
  • PLOT – the moments, milestones, celebrations, memories, challenges, heartaches, and losses

As we go, we often find ourselves so busy and caught up in the story that we are unable to do anything other than wait and see where situations and events lead us. We forget that every day represents a new adventure, another chance to choose what will happen next.

We are the creator. We hold the power to change everything.

Without realizing it, we constantly edit our story in an attempt to rewrite the past and manipulate the future. Yet as we step into each part, move through every phase, interact with those around us, adapt to our surroundings, and provide a performance, we often fail to do so with any true intent.

We need to remember to dream big, set goals, make plans, be open to change, pause to reflect, follow our heart, relax, and breathe.

Living a life of purpose is not easy. There will be many times when we must release control, go with the flow, and accept what is happening around us. View those bumps and bruises as simple plot twists put there as opportunities for personal insight and growth.

The overall journey, however, is filled with so much possibility that without some concentrated effort, we may never get to where we hope to be. Look closely at your own story…

What is the main character doing? The majority of your actions should be meaningful.

What is the purpose of every part, scene, setting, and supporting character? They should move you closer to whatever you envision.

What is the desired plot outcome of this one life? Go after your happy ending.

Whether you find yourself in the middle of a current chapter or beginning a new one, what comes next is up to you. Make it memorable. Make it matter.

Live your story.


Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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 …

SUBSCRIBE to Blog Posts and LIKE on Facebook so you don’t miss out!


Photo by Ray Hennessy on Unsplash

change · discovery · goals · renewal · self · simplicity

Happy YOU Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Want a better 2019? Forget resolutions.

I am not a fan of setting unrealistic goals and unfair expectations. Instead of resolutions, I prefer reflection. Rather than find imperfection or dream of perfection, I seek real change. The beginning of a new year is a chance to see what is not working and focus on doing better. It is an opportunity for a reset.

In place of resolutions, I suggest we make promises. To put ourselves first. To find more joy in the everyday.


Time is not something we have, it is something we make. ~unknown

While tending to the people and responsibilities in our lives, it can become easy to cross ourselves off the list to make room.

  • THE PROMISE OF PAUSE: Release the guilt and move You to the top of the list. Whether overdue health needs, a favorite hobby, or quiet moments for mind, body, and spirit, make time to care for yourself so you can go on to care for others.

There will be areas requiring attention and never-ending to-dos on the list, but do we ever question WHY we are doing them?

  • THE PROMISE OF PURPOSE: Whatever brings joy – do more of that. Whatever does not – prioritize, delegate, simplify, or eliminate so you can spend your limited time and energy on what truly matters.

To let go does not mean to get rid of. To let go means to let be. ~Jack Kornfield

Keeping up with everyone and everything 24/7 via social media and news can leave us feeling inadequate, overwhelmed, and helpless.

  • THE PROMISE OF PEACE: Release the excess. Simplify the information that crosses your path. Clean up your inbox. Detox your newsfeed. Create small steps to declutter your home. Unplug and unwind to make room in your mind, heart, relationships, and world.

A hurried pace creates a sense of chaos and stress and makes it impossible to focus. Details get overlooked. Time with others feels rushed.

  • THE PROMISE OF PATIENCE: Breathe. Then breathe again, deeper. Do this until you are fully present. You have this one life! Appreciate the beauty of a moment. Accept the things you cannot control. Linger within the things you can.

Notice every PROMISE begins with the letter P and that two are missing?

Do not put PRESSURE on yourself to do it all every single day. Do not aim for PERFECTION in everything you do.

This is to be a New Year of Happy!

One of mindfulness. Of presence. Of making time for what matters. Of letting go of what doesn’t. A YEAR OF YOU.


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 …

SUBSCRIBE to Blog Posts and LIKE on Facebook so you don’t miss out!


Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash

acceptance · celebration · home · self

The Gift Of Good Enough

The most wonderful time of the year can also be the most stressful. We put pressure on ourselves to give the perfect gift, bake the perfect cookie, serve the perfect meal, decorate the perfect tree, provide the perfect everything.

Do not allow the world to tell you how to celebrate. Whether simplified or with fanfare, a little bit or a lot, the best memories are created in the imperfect, unplanned moments. As long as they are done with love, you will never fail.

THIS HOLIDAY, GIVE THE GIFT OF BEING GOOD ENOUGH.

Struggling to keep up? Let it go. Wishing to do more? Let it BE.

Be unapologetic – Release the guilt and take care of your own needs.

Be kind – Depression and loneliness rise around the holidays.

Be considerate – Stop logging on and start powering off technological distractions.

Be real – Not so ideal photo? post it anyway. Cookies a bit burned? eat them anyway.

Be realistic – Celebrate within your means.

Be you – Stop comparing, quit competing. We are meant to be different.

Be grateful – Life may not be what you expected, but there is always something to appreciate.

Be positive – Focus on the good and more will come.

Be picky – Do not be afraid to say no to one thing so you can say yes to something better.

Be understanding – If gathering with others, remember this is their holiday, too. Embrace new experiences.

Be mindful – Linger over that cup of coffee with someone special.

Be present – Focus your whole heart on friends and family.

Be patient – Do not be in such a rush. The next thing can wait.

Be generous – If you can help another have a better day, do so.

Be thoughtful – Hold a door open, say thank you, lend a helping hand.

Be gracious – Maybe a gift is not the prettiest, but it if was given with love, it is the best.

Be honest – If you need help, ask for it. If you are overwhelmed, admit it.

Be still – Rest your mind, your body, your soul. Breathe.

Be blessed – You are here, living this one life.

Be Merry.

Be.


Wishing you an Inspired Christmas and a Joyful New Year!


Photo by Greg Weaver on Unsplash

celebration · daily life · gratitude · happiness · self

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