celebration · happiness · home · self

Joy To Your World

I hope you are wrapped in the warmth of a magical holiday season.

That your children are amazed and filled with wonder.
And your family is overcome with unbelievable joy.
That you find inspiration in little things so you can go on to do big things.
And you are surrounded by people and things you love.
That you recognize the blessings not only in these days but in the everyday.
And you are in this moment and each one hereafter.

Because although this is THE season of giving gifts, it is also about what we give to ourselves: In self-care. In thoughts. In spirit. In hearts. In time. In purpose.

Spread happiness on the outside, but do not neglect the inside. For while it might seem difficult to make the self a priority … when we give to ourselves we can give more to those around us.

Christmas becomes merrier.

The New Year seems happier.

Traditions shine brighter.

Family feels closer.

Memories linger longer.

May your world be filled with joy. May your family be touched by peace. May you have a very Merry Christmas.

~ INSPIRED ME, JOYFUL BE

letting go · renewal · self · simplicity

The Bright Side Of Going Dark

These past months have been difficult. Not in the crisis-horrible-things-happened kind of difficult. But more in the way of stressful.

Fall is always a busy time for us. My husband resumes heavy work travel, I resume full-time writing, and my son resumes a hectic school and sports schedule. I know I am not special. Everyone, especially parents, struggles with the daily demands of basic living. But the thing I know is this: I can manage extreme multitasking and chaotic days for a while (and thrive!), but there always comes a breaking point. One where I must say no more.

This is when I go dark.

When many people think of the dark, they become anxious and scared of the unknown, fearing what might lurk in the shadows. Others may see it as a depressing state or one where negativity lingers. It is different for everyone but for me, it means stepping back.

I view it as a way to reset.

1. DISCONNECT SO WE CAN RECONNECT
Texts, phone calls, emails, messaging, news feeds, social media, surfing online, television, movies, gaming. We become so caught up in the “keeping up” it can overwhelm and consume precious time that could be better spent elsewhere.

GO DARK: When staying current on news, in touch with family and friends, and up-to-date on my author and writer tasks takes a toll, I step out of the virtual world and into the real one. I go dark online by reducing social media logins, unsubscribing to unnecessary blogs and news feeds, and powering down devices. Decreasing an online presence and replacing it with in person interactions or conversations not only improves relationships, it nourishes the soul. It also allows for activities we love or time to care for ourselves. A few extra unplugged minutes every day can change everything.

2. SAY NO NOW SO WE CAN SAY YES LATER
We all feel guilt for not doing enough – for our family, friends, home, job, church, school, community, ourselves. And thanks to external pressures by society, we begin to believe something is wrong with us, that we are somehow failing when we aren’t doing all the “things.”

GO DARK: I try to weigh the value of each new task or activity and seek to prioritize. But when I become caught up in the doing, I pause and ask what really matters. I go dark socially by putting family needs first, being realistic about my ability as an introvert, and ignoring the fear of missing out. Simplifying schedules by keeping the important things leaves more room for real appreciation and a sense of peace. Being in the moment might seem like a luxury but it is definitely within reach. We can do it all – just not all at once. And if we cannot do it all, let something go so we might fully embrace something else.

3. LET GO SO WE CAN HOLD ON
Too often we place importance on external things – big and small – regardless of their true worth in our lives. It is easy to fall into the trap of making lists and intricate plans or acquiring items in an effort to reach some unrealistic fantasy of how things should be.

GO DARK: I cannot do everything well and when I try, something inevitably suffers. With the holidays and sports ramping up, I know I must release the image of perfection. I go dark personally by freeing myself from unattainable goals, eliminating unnecessary tasks and clutter, and focusing on what brings true joy. By ridding ourselves of the excess we create space for meaningful relationships, cherished memories, and peaceful moments. Strive for imperfection. Decide what goes and what stays. Realize letting go does not mean doing without. Yes, some things might be gone forever but what matters will remain.

It is important to know when to retreat into the dark. And when you do, go willingly and with purpose. Reclaim your time, rediscover who you are and what you want life to be. Do not be afraid to turn out the lights because when you turn them back on, life will shine brighter than ever before.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by John Silliman on Unsplash

acceptance · letting go · obstacles · relationships · self

Expect Less, Live More

SOMETIMES WE EXPECT TOO MUCH

from OTHERS – because we want people to treat us as we would treat them or believe they should think and behave a certain way.

from OURSELVES – because we think we are overly capable or are unable to recognize our limits and become self-critical when we falter.

If the realities of life do not match the expectations in our mind, it is natural to feel:

ANGER (as if we have somehow been disrespected by another or believe we have completely failed ourselves)
RESENTMENT (because others are not giving us what we need or we are unable to fill a void)
FRUSTRATION (when people are not doing what we want or we are not reaching our own objectives)
HURT (if someone does not seem to care about us or we do not care about ourselves)
REJECTION (the belief we are not good enough for others or doubt our personal worth)
FEAR (because we planned for one outcome and now have no idea how to cope with another)
HOPELESS (if nothing goes our way, our efforts begin to appear useless)
DEPRESSED (when everything seems to come easier to others, we believe we are inferior or at fault)

Setting goals and following dreams is vital to creating a purposeful life. And quite often, holding onto hope is the only thing to keep us moving forward in the most difficult of times. But there are enough challenges along the way – imagining or manufacturing problems that do not exist makes everything harder than it needs to be.

Life is never predictable – not for anyone. And we cannot control anything – or anyone.

We must allow others to be unique, true to who they are, and living a life independent of external wants or desires. We also need to give ourselves the same courtesy.

The next time you find yourself upset because things did not go as planned…

PAUSE – BREATHE – REFLECT – SEEK TO UNDERSTAND

If someone has disappointed you, remind yourself it is not intentional or a personal affront. We are human. We make mistakes. We are individuals free to live as we choose.

If you have disappointed yourself, remember it is not the end of all things. In fact, it could signal a new beginning. Be patient. Be compassionate. Be willing to let go or start again.

Bad experiences can carry a hidden good. An opportunity to become more aware – of others or yourself. A much-needed break or relief from unnecessary worry or stress. Or perhaps a second chance to right whatever is wrong. A failed expectation may be nothing more than the universe sending a sign: This is Life, happening as it should.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash

change · discovery · learning · obstacles · self

Clear The Roadblocks To Learning About Yourself

I read – a lot. Sometimes too much.

I realize I do not know everything. Most days, I feel like I know nothing. This is why I read. It is also the reason I write.

In fact, the original pull toward becoming a writer was to figure things out. Writing not only keeps me sane in an increasingly crazy world, it helps me navigate the everyday. My NOVELS highlight contemporary women facing the complexities of self, family, love, and daily life. And the basis of this blog is to promote the positive, inspiring moments that can come from personal exploration.

I am not an expert – on anything – which is why I will not proclaim to know everything about any one particular topic.

I am simply a seeker, a searcher, a firm believer in the possibility of all things.

I desire a fuller understanding. I want to know why I am who I am, why others are who they are. I do not expect a final answer or conclusion, however, because I know this is not possible. In truth, part of the fun of the journey is the not knowing. I enjoy the finding of little clues along the way.

Life truly is a puzzle. One where we get only a few pieces to fit at any given time, revealing just part of the actual picture.

Some of my book and blog topics carry hidden lessons I have learned while others are me working to solve this beautiful mystery. I will continue to try one thing, then another, hoping to glimpse the whole picture, even if only for a brief moment.

I am proud to say I have been loved and rejected, succeeded and failed. I have wandered around lost too many times to count and at times, believed I had been found. And when I come upon something that has helped me, I want to share it, possibly ease the struggle for someone else.

But while I might hope to serve as a guide and offer support, I cannot fix what is broken for others. Sometimes I cannot even fix what is broken within myself.

There is no shame in learning about the self. But each of us must learn on our own, in whatever way we can, no matter how long it may take. Yet problems can arise when we …

ARE IMPATIENT WITH OTHERS: sometimes people refuse to change, do not realize they need to change, or are caught in the process of change.
ARE IMPATIENT WITH OURSELVES: we are continuous works-in-progress and any type of improvement or self-realization takes time.

RESENT OTHERS FOR MAKING A CHANGE: if you become jealous when someone else makes a go at a better life, look to understand why.
RESENT OUR NEED FOR CHANGE: change becomes easier when we accept and embrace the idea rather than fight it.

JUDGE OTHERS: hating on someone who has raised themselves up is often due to envy or failure to understand their true situation.
FEEL WE ARE JUDGED: the path to well-being is a very personal thing. Seek people who share your enthusiasm and lift you up rather than tear you down.

MAKE FUN: someone choosing to better understand themselves and improve their outlook is not to be ridiculed or minimized.
NO LONGER HAVE FUN: fixing whatever is broken can be a serious undertaking, but it should not be pursued at the expense of loving life.

SABOTAGE OTHERS: intentionally making an effort to undo the results for another person for your own benefit is never okay.
SABOTAGE OURSELVES: stop and assess whether it is your excuses or the process keeping you from making it to the next step.

FAIL TO ACKNOWLEDGE REALITY: nothing can ever change if we fail to look within and accept we are not always right, not perfect, and not in control.
SUCCEED AT THE EXPENSE OF OTHERS: improving your situation should never be accomplished by exploiting or hurting another.

PUSH OTHERS AWAY: we should never become so caught up in bettering ourselves that we forget to love and appreciate those who matter.
PUSH OURSELVES: everyone has limits. Recognize them, seek to compromise, and find a healthy balance.

Open minds can lead to open hearts – within us and toward others. And when we use what we learn to not only better our lives but the lives of people around us, we begin to change the world. Because in the end, we are all in this together, navigating the bumps and bruises as we go.

Seek to learn. Seek to change. Seek to help. Continue to seek even if you never find what you are looking for …


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash

goals · letting go · self

Simplify The Task Of Living

We hear it all of the time: Life is a journey, not a destination.

Sometimes we have a detailed map to mark the way but more often there is no set course. Throughout our journey, we will have many different paths from which to choose. No perfect route exists for everyone nor is there an easy shortcut to get where we hope to be.

Expect roadblocks or unwelcome surprises around every corner. Assume the road will be littered with unwanted detours and wrong turns. Learn to adjust the direction and adapt as you go.

Blaze your own trail.

And when the travel leaves you weary, stop and rest. Feeling stuck and unable to move is an ideal time to pause and reflect.

WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING FROM?

What has been is a vital part of who we are in the present moment. There is the good (childhood memories, milestones achieved), the bad (disappointments, failures), and the ugly (extreme heartache, loss). We cannot (and should not) discount what has happened to us before today, because it is necessary for creating our current circumstances.

Dwelling in a painful past, however, can foster discontent and self-doubt. And such negativity often leads to disruptive behavior as an attempt to escape or cope. Substance abuse, food addiction, self-harm, dysfunctional relationships, excessive spending, depression, or anger may mask a deeper problem.

If we continue to pick at a wound, it will never heal. And what does not heal, does not change. A lack of learning from what hurt us along with the inability to let go means we cannot truly enjoy the life we deserve. It taints everything, even the happy moments.

It is important to address the discomfort head on – whether on your own or with the support of others (family, friend, professional). By acknowledging the hold the past has on your present, you can begin to overcome whatever has hurt you and live the life you always imagined.

WHAT ARE YOU RUNNING TO?

What might be is an equally vital part of who we are in the present moment. The future shapes our current actions. It influences the people we allow into our lives. Knowing where want to go and who we wish to be defines our choices and decisions, directly and indirectly.

Our personal hopes, dreams, and goals are worthy of our thoughts, but they are also deserving of our time. There is nothing wrong with seeking a different or better life, and we do not owe explanations to anyone other than ourselves. It is ours to live and as long as we do not hurt another, we have every right to pursue it.

The key is to find a balance, a way to manage our wants and desires with the people and things we value. Do not sacrifice the present or precious time with those who matter most for the sole sake of succeeding or reaching some idealized end.

When you look back, look back with pride. Pride that your dedication, hard work, and determination paid off. And while you bask in the glory of your accomplishment, see the people around you who helped make it possible. Those who supported, cheered, listened, advised, lifted you up. For that will be the true measure of your success.

WHY ARE YOU RUNNING AT ALL?

If the challenges of the past, future, and present day are overwhelming, look for ways to lessen the load. Find your voice. Release the guilt. Follow your heart. Practice self-care. Prioritize your time. Say no to non-essential activities. Organize your space. Seek solutions to your problems. Fix what might be broken, once and for all.

Simplify the task of living.

Work towards understanding how the past has affected you and accepting it will always be part of your today. Just be careful of letting it have too much influence over your tomorrow. Life moves fast enough. Slow down and be in the right now. And if there are times you feel the need to run, run toward something worth celebrating rather than from something you cannot change.

Do not fear the journey, live it.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Lucas Favre on Unsplash

change · discovery · learning · self

Master The Game Of Hide And Seek

Life is a lot like the game of Hide-And-Seek.

THE HIDING
Everyone has moments when they need to be alone, away from anyone and anything. For some people, the solitude and quiet is renewing and welcome. For others, the fear of being alone is so debilitating it overshadows any good that might come from it.

The Ups: It is important to understand that hiding within our own thoughts and spaces is a necessary part of living. Think about it. We all have secrets. We all do things privately we would never do in public. Incredible growth can come from simply being within ourselves and without outside demands or judgment. Diving deep into our heads and spending quality time there can provide clarity, leaving us stronger, more focused, and ready for new challenges.

The Downs: When we prefer to stay hidden, however, there might be a problem. If we constantly shy away from people and places to the point where it makes us uncomfortable, we should look to understand why. There are many possible factors (personality, psychological, social, etc.) that influence our ability to bounce back. And while the reasons may seem impossible to overcome, there are countless resources to help us manage the struggle and realize we are not alone.

The In-Between: Work to create meaningful personal moments and when you do find those pockets of time, place all energies on fixing whatever is broken and clearing away the negative. Nurture you so you can nurture others. And when you are done, be sure to venture back out and share the good with the rest of the world.

THE SEEKING
It is not only human nature to seek solutions to our problems, it is imperative to personal growth. Yes, we may fear the realities of what we might find, but we can never move past the troubles or hardships unless we open our minds and explore the unknown.

The Ups: It can be difficult to admit we might be the one who needs to change, that we are not doing life the best way. The harsh truth? We are not always right. We make mistakes and wrong decisions, hurt others and fail. And when we do, we must own it. Acknowledging our role leads to improved situations and relationships, but more importantly, it leads to self-discovery. Learning more about who we are is an amazing thing. Accepting who we are is even better.

The Downs: If we become so caught up in solving our own problems we might miss out on what is happening around us. We miss out on experiences. We miss out on people. We miss out on joy. We miss out on love. Life is not meant to be easy. Nor is it meant to be figured out all of the time. Sometimes we just have to stop searching, let the questions go unanswered. Finding who we are can be a lifelong process and one without a true end.

The In-Between: We are always changing, ever evolving. The person we are today will not be the same person we are tomorrow. So keep looking, follow the clues, and fix what you can. But as you do, stay steady in the idea we are a mystery that will likely never be solved.

Too often we find fault or blame others for whatever is wrong in our lives when what might be required is time alone, introspective thought, and meaningful change. Hiding may seem deceitful – as if we are avoiding something by staying in the shadows – but when we use that time to better understand ourselves, it can bring us into the light. And if we go to the next level by combining what we learn with the search for improvement, life becomes more fulfilling, more purposeful, more inspired, more everything.


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~Inspired ME, Joyful BE


Photo by Cole Hutson on Unsplash

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