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

discovery · goals · happiness · obstacles · self

FALL In Love With Life [2]: Let Nothing Destroy Your Joy

This is the second post in a two-part series FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE which I hope will inspire you to regain control, discover what matters, embrace change, and get back to living a life you love.

In the previous post STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME I shared how viewing our difficulties solely as the result of external circumstances could lead us to believe we have no control. Blaming outside forces for our inability to reach goals is not only unproductive, it can be destructive, particularly if we project our frustration or resentment onto other people. Making and relying on excuses prevents us from gaining insight into what we want and the reasons we are not getting it.

PART TWO: LET NOTHING DESTROY YOUR JOY

We need to go back to the beginning and define What We Want. This can be difficult because our instinct is to make a list of every little thing we wish was different in our lives. That is a trap, a distraction, and unrealistic. Instead, we need to look deep within and diagnose What Is Missing. What is that ONE thing that is not working or broken?

This. This is what we want.

Discovering the core want has two benefits:

  • While it often seems we have many things to repair, there is usually a primary issue disrupting other areas and creating imbalance. Working to correct one can heal and improve others.
  • If we dedicate our thoughts and energy on one topic, the focus becomes clearer, the task appears less daunting, and our success is more likely. We realize real change is possible. We can do this.

First, ASK and ANSWER the tough questions:

1) WHAT WOULD YOU DO?
Think about what is missing. If you had unlimited free time, how would you spend it? On a hobby, travel, education, self-care, a goal, certain people? Write down everything you would do without the worry of a job, caring for others, home projects, etc. Once you see what your heart desires, rank them. What comes out on top? That is your Joy – pursue it.

2) WHAT HOLDS YOU BACK?
Determine what stands in the way. There is something preventing you from getting what you want – people, things/clutter, chores, self-esteem, fear, confidence, guilt, money. Yes, some things are out of your current control. There are people who need you and places you must be. Find the workable things you can simplify, delegate, prioritize, influence, or change.

3) WHAT ARE YOU HIDING BEHIND?
Be realistic but more importantly, be real. Pinpoint the excuses you use to procrastinate, distract, or even sabotage progress. Chronicle your actions for a week. Is it perfectionism, unnecessary tasks, perceived needs of others, your personality? You might be surprised to realize you waste a lot of time. Only when you accept your role and responsibility can you bring about change.

4) WHAT IS THE COST?
When we fail to nurture the person we want to be, we lose something. Frustration and resentment over not getting what we want can lead to broken relationships, poor health, risky behaviors, a lack of purpose, and a desperate search for peace. What do you pay for not doing what you want?

HONESTY is a requirement. When we believe we are stuck and just going through the motions, like our desires are not met, or that we are ignored, rejected, invisible to the outside world … THIS is when we must look inward and find out what lies at the heart of our frustration. Because that is precisely what frustration is: not getting what we want, expect, or need.

For me, it was an inability to make time to write effectively. I battled stress which led to emotional exhaustion which led to physical fatigue, procrastination, unrealistic expectations, and a life out of balance. I was letting go. In most instances letting go can be a positive move. The problem arises when we are constantly required to let go of the things that bring us joy in order to make room for things that do not. I got tired of putting off – my time, my aspirations, my dreams, my life.

LIFE IS NOT SOMETHING WE SHOULD EVER PUT OFF.

I challenge you to figure out what is missing and when you do, do everything in your power to reclaim it. Become committed to giving yourself more of what you want. Find a way. There is always a way.

Research multiple solutions
Develop a flexible plan
Delegate when possible
Let go of what does not matter
Prioritize what does matter
Determine the motivation
Take small steps and reward yourself with big happiness whenever you overcome one

CREATE A LIFE WITH YOU IN IT.


Photo by Sandis Helvigs at Unsplash

acceptance · change · goals · obstacles · self

FALL In Love With Life [1]: Stop Playing The Blame Game

This is the first post in a two-part series FALL IN LOVE WITH LIFE which I hope will inspire you to regain control, discover what matters, embrace change, and get back to living a life you love.

PART ONE: STOP PLAYING THE BLAME GAME

A new season is fast approaching. I love the changes they bring – to nature, to tradition, to ourselves. This coming fall, however, is a sad reminder of personal goals not met. One year ago, I was scheduled to finish edits and publish my latest novel. That didn’t happen. Then I planned to complete it in spring. That didn’t happen. Now, I intend to publish within months and am fearful I will fail yet again.

The PERCEPTION? Everything was to blame.

Family: It was not an easy year. I spent the majority tackling life’s bumps and bruises for the two people I cherish most – my husband and son. They needed me, I happily delivered. The time, attention, love, care, patience, worry, and stress dedicated to them is not something I regret.

Personality: We introverts require ample time to pause and recharge in preparation for the next day or challenge. And in my perpetually overwhelmed state, I gave myself the necessary moments to reset. But now I wonder … did I really need SO much downtime?

Priorities: There was always something more important. In addition to the family, jobs, home, school, sports, pets, travel, and the simple demands of daily life required my immediate attention, pulled me away from the long stretches of free time needed to work effectively.

Exhaustion: Thanks to cancer, I still suffer from extreme periods of fatigue. I have limited physical energy and once it is spent on the most pressing needs, all else gets pushed aside to the miraculous day when I will feel “better” and have “more time.”

Work: Getting a book to completion is not a simple task. Aside from the writing, editing, and rewrites, there is proofing, formatting, covers, marketing, blogging, launching, promotions, updates, and more. Finishing one step was daunting. Knowing another twenty waited? Sigh.

Every person struggles to manage work and home life. But, the needs of family encroached into such a large part of my day and at an unfair pace that I became overwhelmed and frustrated. There was not enough time set aside for my goals (namely, finish my book). I was last on the list. Heck, I wasn’t even on the list anymore.

The REALITY? Life had become unbalanced.

I am notorious for setting high standards for personal productivity. If I can’t give my best effort, I do not want to do it. So rather than tackle something half-way, I lowered expectations for myself as a writer. Yet even though my standards decreased, my desires and aspirations to improve, be better, and succeed never went away. In fact, they just kept piling on.

I wanted to be the best wife and mother. I needed to recharge. I kept getting more to do. I needed to rest. But amid it all, I still had a book that needed to be finished.

I was stressed and emotionally exhausted. And with so much weighing heavy on my mind and heart, I sought every possible escape, excuse, and method of procrastination.

Oh, and did I mention the enormous guilt? I felt it when I did the things for me (like wrap myself in a cozy cocoon of introversion), and I felt it when I did not (like neglect my passion for writing). I mean seriously, why should I want to do something so demanding and all-consuming that it steals time away from the people who need me, the family I love? Why should I want to publish another book? BECAUSE I DESERVE IT.

We all deserve something of our own. And if we are not getting that something, we need to stop blaming others and take responsibility. Be open to hurt and frustration but also be prepared to accept your role, your choices, and what you can do to change things and move forward.

There is an old saying that perception is reality and in my case, it became true. However, once I realized my perception was negatively impacting my capacity for joy, I sought something else:

PERSPECTIVE…

There will always be too much to do and too little time. There will always be distractions, worries, and reasons to complain. There will always be something holding us back from our hopes and dreams. But rather than search for imaginary scapegoats to everyday problems, we should seek greater insight into what might be wrong and then find workable solutions.

NEXT TIME: I ask (and answer) the tough questions in my quest to get what I want.


Photo by Roman Kraft on Unsplash