Category Archives: Encouragement

Seeking Simplicity

Coffee in bed on a lazy morning. Puppy snuggles. Forehead kisses from my sweet hubby. Home-cooked meals. Connecting with friends and family. Giggling over random silliness. Feeling the love and comforts of home.

These are the things that my heart has been craving.

The past six weeks in my world have been a bit of a whirlwind. Work travel has taken me away from home and placed me in airports and hotel rooms and moments of solitude. Soul unsettled. Missing the simple pleasures that I sometimes overlook as blessings during ordinary days.

Funny how we miss the things we often take for granted when we are distanced from them. The things we crave most are the things we already have. That’s why we miss them. And oddly enough, it isn’t actual things – like our new fancy television or my closet full of clothes. It isn’t stuff at all. What we really miss are experiences and feelings and time spent well.

Much of my time last year was spent chasing after accomplishment, but that was not at all my intention. I chose a guiding word that I believed would bring about what I was yearning for at the time. “Create” was my word for 2015 and when I selected it, I didn’t think it was a results-based word. I thought if I made efforts to create space for the things I wanted more of in life, I would be fulfilled. The concept should have worked! And maybe it would have if I would have been less driven by outcomes. But I tend to measure my success by the end of the story instead of the brave beginnings or the meatiness of the middle. Wondering why I feel the need to measure it at all?

Simplicity. That’s what I’m seeking now.

Less stuff, more meaningful moments. Back to basics. Rebuilding foundations. Tending to relationships that feed my soul. Spending time well. Loosening my grasp on outcomes. Relinquishing my need for control. Letting go of things that don’t nurture me. Allowing myself to just be.

“Simplify” is my guiding word for 2016. And my soul is thrilled for this beautifully simple and pleasingly pressure-free journey.

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Wanna join me on my quest for simplicity? One simple step I took was to read Breaking Busy by Alli Worthington. Her words of wisdom reminded me to “never confuse a busy life with a full life”. The things that make our lives full have nothing to do with busyness. “We have to break the cycle of busy in our lives if we are going to have enough room to discover our destiny.”

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The Permission Slip My Soul’s Been Craving

Hey Friends! Today – on this lovely Tuesday – I am sharing a book to add to your “must read” list. I’m honored to be a part of Emily P. Freeman’s Launch Team for her new book Simply Tuesday – hot off the presses and available TODAY!

In a world that screams for attention at every turn, this book whispers the wisdom my soul’s been craving. Accepting that not all moments in life are glamorous or glittery somehow makes way for the mundane, but in the best possible way.

Emily’s words are the permission slip I’ve been hoping for – to celebrate ordinary and to embrace exactly where I am on my journey, without the pressure of comparison or the regret of incomplete to-do lists. She addresses relatable challenges in practical ways and shares her unique perspectives, inviting her readers to sit awhile and allow our souls to just be.

Simply Tuesday is more than a book… it’s a realization and a way of life. It is a beautiful blessing wrapped in poignant paperback pages!

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Silencing our Inner Critic

Some of my greatest suffering in life has come at my own hand, it turns out.

When I was a kid, my sister and I would argue. I am four years younger and had made it my life’s mission to irritate her. I was good at it!

Pushing her buttons was my specialty. I would pinch her, mess up her room, and wear her clothes. {Oh sweet Jesus, how I wish I could wear her size small clothes now!} I would mimic her, and follow her, and tease her.

Then, when she just couldn’t take it anymore, she would grab me tightly, take ahold of my own flimsy little arm, shake it back and forth in a flapping frenzy, and slap me with my own flailing hand.

“Stop hitting yourself,” she would say, over and over until we both giggled our silly heads off.

She used my own hand to punish my irritating behavior. And I use my own thoughts to punish myself too.

Maybe you can relate to being harder on yourself than anyone else could ever be? Or holding yourself hostage to your flaws? Or wallowing in your worries? Or your own personal version of self-created suffering?

I’ve been an “in your head” kind of person since I was a kid, and it wasn’t until recently that I began taking notice and taking steps to silence my inner critic. It still battles to be heard, but I am better prepared for it now.

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Here are a few tidbits of hard-fought wisdom that will help you refocus your thoughts and regain your peace of mind…

3 Ways to Turn Your Thoughts Around

31 Days of Soul Searching {Self-Talk}

5 Ways to Choose Happiness

Harnessing Your Power

The Power of Aligning Your Thoughts and Actions

Celebrating Your Superpowers {Confidence}

Message in a Misaligned Shoulder Pad

A quick glance in the bathroom mirror at work today uncovered something interesting. Something was amiss. Catawampus.

My black blazer’s left shoulder pad – because lots of jackets made after 1988 still have shoulder pads – had gone missing. I reached in and dug it out of where it had settled in to create extra hunchback-like volume, and returned it to its rightful place. As I lingered on my reflection to make sure it was okay to return to public view, I realized what a monumental message that misaligned shoulder pad conveyed.

It wasn’t really about one shoulder being taller than the other one. Or a weird bump in my upper back. Or the stitching that had given way to years of wear and tear.

It was about more than my symmetrical appearance. It was about balance – both inside and out.

If you’re like me, you know when you’re out of balance in your life. I knew today. Not because I caught my shoulder pads awry in the mirror, but because I felt it. Deep in my bones, I just know when something is amiss. Catawampus.

Today’s moment of clarity in the mirror reminded me that balance is important in all areas of my life. I know when things aren’t quite right, and I need to take steps to regain my balance.

Questions for you to ponder…

– What areas of your life feel out of balance?

– What steps can you take to realign your priorities?

I am seeking more balance by creating time and space and opportunities for the things I want more of in my life.

Faith. Health. Connection. Mindset.

These are the key areas that yield the greatest impact in my life. Fueling my faith, focusing on my health, increasing opportunities for meaningful connection, and managing my mindset all contribute to my greater good.

I am seeking things that fill me up instead of depleting me. Things that energize me and prepare me to give more, do more, and be more. These things are the cornerstone of my contentment. And they are my roads to a more balanced life.

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15 Minutes in 2015 – Creating a Plan

Our much needed new beginning arrived yesterday like an unopened gift. Inside contains beautiful renewal, an awakening of our minds, limitless potential, and 365 opportunities. Let’s tear it open and enjoy every moment!

Yesterday, I shared my guiding word for 2015. The theme that I want to live by in the new year. The power-packed prompt that I will use to infuse into my thoughts, my choices, and my actions. And my word is CREATE.

What word did you come up with?

Now that we have our words, we need to set some structure for the word to work its magic. At least I need there to be structure. Because I can be passive. And a procrastinator. And a wait-and-see’er.

The structure helps me to be proactive. And in the moment. And a do’er. And those qualities are instrumental in a life well lived. Although those qualities don’t always come naturally for me. How about you?

So to remedy my reactivity, I need structure and am creating a plan!

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Here it is… (and maybe it will work for you too!)

I looked at the key areas in my life that I want to CREATE opportunities in, which helped me narrow my focus. Certainly I want to create wonderful things in every area of my life, but that scope is too wide. Too much. Unmanageable. So the areas that are a true driving force for me are the areas I will intentionally focus on. The things that have the greatest impact on other things and lay the foundation for my best self.

What are the 3 or 4 most important areas for you? Take a few minutes to work that through in your mind.

Mine are faith, health, connection, and mindset. Let me be elaborate.

Faith: I know that when I fuel my faith, I feel more centered and more peaceful and far more connected to my purpose. When I create opportunities to nurture that part of my life, I am just plain better.

Health: I am not very good at focusing on my health, so this one is a challenge for me. I want to be healthy, but I don’t always want to do the things I need to do to create health. Like eating right and exercising. Because I love french fries and dessert and lounging around. There, I said it. The unpopular truth. So I need to focus on creating opportunities for a healthy lifestyle.

Connection: We are made to crave connection in our lives. We need to know we are not alone and we take comfort in sharing thoughts and feelings and ideas. It is a key component of community and it wards off depression and isolation. Although, I admittedly love my alone time, so I need to create opportunities for meaningful connection in my life. My relationships are so much better when I nurture them. And I am better when I am filled with a sense of love and acceptance and understanding.

Mindset: Our thoughts are a powerful force in our lives and our choices and actions are a direct result of our thoughts. So I need to consistently create opportunities for my thoughts to surface in positive ways, and I need to create ways to redirect my thoughts when they are not serving my well-being.

Now comes the real action…

I am choosing to commit 15 minutes each day to each key area. 15 in ’15 to create my best self!

15 minutes each morning to fuel my faith and create greater spirituality in my life. I was blessed to receive two devotional books this Christmas, and am going to set the tone for my days – every day – spending 15 minutes reading and pondering and praying and rejoicing.

15 minutes each afternoon to enhance my health and simply get my butt moving. I will take a walk, do some jumping jacks, dance around like a lunatic, or whatever will get my blood pumping. I know that 15 minutes doesn’t sound like much, but I am doing zero minutes right now, so carving out 15 minutes in every day to create a healthier lifestyle is totally doable!

15 minutes each evening to cultivate connection and nurture the relationships in my life. Simple gestures like sending a caring email, calling a friend, making plans to get together, or being truly and fully present in conversations will go a long way in creating deeper connections with the people who matter most to me. I do these things now, but a commitment to be more intentional in this area of my life will improve this area of my life.

15 minutes each night before I go to bed to stimulate my mindset and create a peaceful and positive headspace. I spend a lot of time in my head now, so 15 focused minutes will be easy for me. I will read something uplifting, watch an inspiring TED talk, add to my gratitude journal, write down my thoughts, or meditate. Any activity to infuse my internal chatter with hope and possibilities and power and positivity will be a wonderful way to nourish my mind.

15 minutes in 2015! It’s easy. It’s doable. It’s manageable. It is a minimum, not a maximum, so longer time frames are perfectly fine. But for me, 15 minutes is an amount of time I can embrace and can be energized about. 15 in ’15 is admittedly a little corny and gimmicky, but it is memorable and that will help me stick to my focus to CREATE an amazing year.

I realize that my 15 minute plans actually equate to an entire hour. And I recognize that there will be days where finding an hour may be challenging. But it really is all in how we manage our time and what we choose to prioritize. Set a kitchen timer or phone reminder or schedule an appointment with yourself in your Outlook Calendar. You have the time. You’re just spending it on something else right now. And so am I.

But I want things. I want more meaningful connection in my life. I want relationships that add to my joy and well-being. I want ample opportunities to love and to be loved. I want to be understood and accepted. I want to learn and grow. I want passion and purpose to surface every single day. I want to be healthy and happy and active. I want to express myself creatively. I want to embrace my imperfections and allow myself grace. I want to fuel my faith and protect my peace. These are the things I want more of.

I need to CREATE space and time and opportunities for all of those things to occur. Life doesn’t just “happen” to us. We create it with every thought, every choice, and every action. And we can take actions that will create the best version of ourselves and our best year yet!

A few things to ponder…

Can you commit to 15 minutes of focused time each day to reinvent and reclaim your life?

What key areas do you want to nurture?

What do you think the outcome will be if you apply structure and action to your wishes and hopes?

Here’s to a year filled with all the things we wish for. Here’s to thoughts and choices and actions that support our goals. Here’s to being a life-giving force to the people around us. Here’s to giving ourselves grace for our imperfections. And here’s to a beautiful, exciting, meaningful and memorable new year. Here’s to our best year yet!

Setting the Tone for 2015

I am beginning to believe there is one full week between Christmas and New Year’s for a darn good reason. And that reason is so that I can have a complete and proper meltdown before embracing my new beginnings.

I use the term “meltdown” lightly, but it pretty accurately describes the feelings I’ve had over the past week. All of the built up anxiety over several weeks of planning and preparation to make Christmas magical peaks in one day. One quickly disappearing day. And we are left with mounds of dirty dishes, crumpled wrapping paper, mangled boxes, lots of decorations to take down, and quiet. The kind of quiet that amplifies my thoughts. And my thoughts shouldn’t always be amplified, it turns out.

I am recovering from my meltdown and I am wrangling in and focusing my thoughts on the year to come. The year that begins today.

My internal thoughts are often served up interview style, and here are the questions I’m asking myself…

What do I want more of in 2015?

What tone do I want to set?

What hopes and dreams and goals do I have for myself?

After my thoughts pop in rapid fire mode like the last 20 seconds while making microwave popcorn, there is calm. There is anticipation. There is excitement. And there are answers.

I want more meaningful connection in my life. I want relationships that add to my joy and well-being. I want ample opportunities to love and to be loved. I want to be understood and accepted. I want to learn and grow. I want passion and purpose to surface every single day. I want to be healthy and happy and active. I want to express myself creatively. I want to embrace my imperfections and allow myself grace. I want to fuel my faith and protect my peace. These are the things I want more of.

So, setting the tone for those things means making some choices and establishing some structure.

My first set-the-tone choice is to select one powerful word that sums up my want-list. I’ve been pondering this for days and have come up with… wait for it…

CREATE!

I can create space in my heart and in my life for all the things I’m wanting. I can create opportunities to pursue my desires. I can create an environment to support my wishes. I can allow myself time to be creative. I can create the best version of myself and in doing that, I can create an amazing year and a beautiful life.

CREATE is my set-the-tone, powerful, inspirational, guiding word for 2015.

What should your word be? Can you think of one?

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Now that we have our words, what the heck is next?

Well, here’s what’s next for me… I am going to apply some structure to carry out my word. Because my word is a verb, I am going to need to DO something to spring it into action. I’d love it if just choosing a magical word would make all my dreams come true, but this girl did not lose my glass slipper at the stroke of midnight last night. I lost an entire freaking year, so I need to get cracking on some practical ways to put my word in play.

But for today, I am going to let my word sink in. I’m going to let it simmer in my brain while I take down Christmas trees, vacuum up the remnants of our holiday cheer, and watch football games with my hubby. Today I am going to ponder.

And tomorrow I am going to CREATE and share my plan! Join me here tomorrow, won’t you? And bring your word. We can plan our awesome years together!

Slow Your Roll ~ Nurture Your Soul

Happy Weekend Friends!

I know that for many busy families, weekends are when you scramble to a dozen soccer games, prepare for sleepovers and snack times and such, and drop off and pick up extra kiddos to everything. I know that because there was a time when my stepsons were younger and we would be scrambling on the weekends too. Except it was hockey games with sweet, but smelly boys.

But I am in a different season of my life now. No kiddos at home and my busy time is during the work-week. Last week I had the pleasure of traveling and teaching training classes to eager new employees. I love every minute of imparting knowledge and sharing stories and answering questions. But staying away from home is not quite as enjoyable. Living out of a suitcase, sleeping in a much-too-big and entirely too empty bed, and losing an epic battle with a corkscrew and wine bottle resulting in red wine splashed everywhere were the non-work highlights of my trip. Really, the wine kicked my butt.

In those away-from-home moments, all I can think of is how much I love being home. The comfort of routine and the reassurance of love are missing when I travel. Phone calls and texts are just not the same.

So this weekend, I am slowing my roll and nurturing my soul.

My morning agenda consisted of puppy snuggling and coffee sipping from bed while my hubby lovingly kissed my forehead and went off to work. The quiet moments when I’m not rushing or trying to accomplish anything are the moments that I need to refresh and renew.

Looking forward to Saturday date night and Sunday with friends. Making a point to be fully present in every moment. Seeing beauty in the regular scenery that I may normally speed past and miss in a blink. Feeling the blessings that sometimes get buried beneath responsibility.

How about you? What are your weekend plans? Will you have a chance to slow down a bit and to nurture your soul?

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