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!

Delicious Dessert Jars

Christmas is a flurry of craziness and anticipation and family and food in our house. I am still washing our dishes from two days ago! And many of those dishes are jelly jars, licked clean – but not quite clean enough to put away.

We host a big Christmas Eve dinner every year and this year I made something new for dessert. We have chocolate lovers and fruit lovers and cheesecake lovers and cookie lovers in our family, so covering all those bases can be hard. But I figured out a way to make 24 servings of 4 yummy flavors without all the usual slicing and dishing up hassles. And they were a delicious, delightful dessert success!

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These little cuties were easy to make and appealed to everyone’s tastes. We made 6 of each flavor and bought 2 dozen jelly jars to fill up with the sweet, creamy yumminess. Here are the simple recipes for you!

Banana Cream Pie

– 1 banana
– 1 large box of instant banana pudding
– 2 cups of milk
– 1 cup of Cool Whip (thawed)
– 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
– 1/2 stick of butter
– 1/4 cup of sugar

Simple steps: First, melt the butter a bowl and then mix in the graham cracker crumbs and sugar with a fork until crumbly. Then drop a big spoonful in the bottom of 6 jars. Add a few slices of banana next. Now it’s time to whip up the pudding – I used my hand mixer to make it quick and easy. Pour the milk and pudding mix into a bowl and mix until it begins to thicken up. Then with a plastic spatula, fold in the cool whip until it blends in. All that’s left to do is to layer the rest of the jar with the pudding mixture, then some crumbs, then bananas, more pudding, and top with a dollop of cool whip and a sprinkle of crumbs. Finally, seal the jars and refrigerate.

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S’mores

– mini marshmallows
– 1 large box of instant chocolate pudding
– 2 cups of milk
– 1 cup of Cool Whip (thawed)
– 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
– 1/2 stick of butter
– 1/4 cup of sugar

Simple steps: First, melt the butter a bowl and then mix in the graham cracker crumbs and sugar with a fork until crumbly. Then drop a big spoonful in the bottom of 6 jars. Add a few mini marshmallows next. Now it’s time to whip up the pudding – I used my hand mixer to make it quick and easy. Pour the milk and pudding mix into a bowl and mix until it begins to thicken up. Then with a plastic spatula, fold in the cool whip until it blends in. All that’s left to do is to layer the rest of the jar with the pudding mixture, then some crumbs, then marshmallows, more pudding, and top with a sprinkle of crumbs. Finally, seal the jars and refrigerate.

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Cherry Cheesecake

– 1 can of cherry pie filling
– 1 large box of instant cheesecake pudding
– 2 cups of milk
– 1 cup of Cool Whip (thawed)
– 1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
– 1/2 stick of butter
– 1/4 cup of sugar

Simple steps: First, melt the butter a bowl and then mix in the graham cracker crumbs and sugar with a fork until crumbly. Then drop a big spoonful in the bottom of 6 jars. Add a generous amount of cherry pie filling next. Now it’s time to whip up the pudding – I used my hand mixer to make it quick and easy. Pour the milk and pudding mix into a bowl and mix until it begins to thicken up. Then with a plastic spatula, fold in the cool whip until it blends in. All that’s left to do is to fill the rest of the jar with the pudding mixture, almost to the top. Add 3 cherries and a sprinkle of crumbs. Finally, seal the jars and refrigerate.

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Oreo’s

– 1 large box of instant Oreo pudding
– 2 cups of milk
– 1 cup of Cool Whip (thawed)
– several Oreo cookies

Simple steps: First, place a whole Oreo on the bottom of 6 jars. Then crush several Oreo’s for later layering. Now it’s time to whip up the pudding – I used my hand mixer to make it quick and easy. Pour the milk and pudding mix into a bowl and mix until it begins to thicken up. Then with a plastic spatula, fold in the cool whip until it blends in. All that’s left to do is to layer the rest of the jar with the pudding mixture, crushed Oreo’s, more pudding, and top with crushed cookies. Finally, seal the jars and refrigerate.

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These tasty little single serving desserts can be made a day or two ahead. We labeled each of the jars so our guests could easily tell what flavors we had made for them. When it’s time for dessert, just take ’em out of the fridge, stack ’em on the counter, set out some spoons and let the fun begin!

My Big Girl Letter to Santa

I loved writing my Santa letters as a kiddo. A freshly sharpened pencil scratched intently on wide-ruled notebook paper. Neat and legible so he would be sure to know exactly what this good girl wished for.

I always asked for a few reasonable gifts, and I usually got them. I was sure to include my Mom and Dad in my letters too, because I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed on Christmas. I could count on Santa to read my letter and deliver what I asked for and he knew exactly how to make wishes come true in the most magical ways.

Somewhere along the way, Light Brights and Easy Bake Ovens gave way to wishes that Santa could no longer deliver. Maybe it’s not his lack of magic, but rather my lack of letters? Just maybe what I need is a big girl letter to Santa to make my wishes come true?

Dear Santa,

I have so many wishes for Christmas this year! I hope you will read my letter and be reminded of that wide-eyed little girl who looked for magic in the world. I still look for magic, all these years later, but I am jaded and often disappointed. I want to believe in goodness and love, but the world has a disturbing shortage of those things these days.

So this year, I am choosing to believe and to put my hope for magic in you. Partly because I have been watching too many Hallmark Christmas movies, and partly because I just miss that mystical feeling of wonder.

I wonder and I wish, and here is my big girl Christmas list…

I wish for smiles on the faces all around me. And on my own face too.

I wish for simple and sweet gestures from strangers, like holding open a door or a wave when I let them go in front of me in the busy parking lot.

I wish for gentle reminders that the human spirit is alive and well. May there be more instances of generosity and love than of corruption and selfishness on the local news. And may I be pleasantly surprised by the hearts of others when I see them interacting with kindness and tolerance.

I wish for a to-do list that reads more like a to-be list. Frantically checking things off by buying them at a store is not nearly as important as joyfully checking things off because I accomplished being understanding and enthusiastic and loving and forgiving and approachable and inclusive. And may the things that I “do” cause me to “be” the very best me.

I wish for a less-stressed and more-blessed Christmas. To realize that whatever I do will be exactly enough and to soak up the beauty and bounty all around me.

I wish for gratitude to be given and to be received for every act of kindness. A simple acknowledgement is all it takes to remind us that we matter and are appreciated.

I wish for laughter and the buzz of family and friends to drown out even the slightest whisper of sadness.

I wish for snuggles and hugs and plenty of “I love you’s”.

I wish for the feeling of magic in the air. The thought that anything is possible if you just believe. And truth in the mantra that THIS really is the most wonderful time of the year.

I hope you can grant my wishes this year Santa, just like you did when my list contained Donny and Marie Osmond dolls. I promise to leave out plenty of milk and cookies for you and I will be sure to put the fire out before I go to bed. And I promise to cherish the magic moments this holiday, knowing that those precious, passing moments are the things that matter most to this good girl.

Love,

Tris

P.S. I realize that you have to consider my road rage and that it might move me to the naughty list. Maybe you can bring me mittens this year so they will think I am waving? Just a thought.

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3 Ways to Turn your Thoughts Around

Some days things are just tossing and tumbling in our heads, like thumping tennis shoes in a dryer. Thunk. Thunk. Thunk. The heavy thoughts are up one minute and then come crashing down the next.

I’m a thinker, which is just not always a good thing. And my thoughts can consume me, if I let them.

The most prevalent thought I have about any situation is…

How is this all going to turn out?

It is an innocent enough thought, right? And you think that too, don’t you?

But here’s the problem with this pesky little thought…

It hijacks my brain and pulls my focus toward that which I cannot control!

Controlling outcomes is not one of my superpowers, it turns out. But somehow, I try and try and obsess over the outcomes anyway. And that can be disappointing. And exhausting. And did I mention disappointing?

Just this past week, I was having coffee with the most amazing woman and she shared some of her life’s struggles with me. And I listened. And my heart hurt for her. And I wanted to fix things, but since I cannot control outcomes, I felt utterly useless.

Because I can’t decide and orchestrate how things will turn out in my own life, I was very certain that I wouldn’t be able to do that for her either. And that was what she needed from me, right? Ummmm, no!

Clearly that wasn’t an expectation she had of me, so why was that an expectation I would have of myself? Good golly, I am not God! I am not in charge of the universe and all that happens here. I am just little old me! I can barely be in charge of myself!

As I listened, I realized one little thing that I could do. I could share a few simple ways that I wrangle in my own thoughts and worries and fears about how things will turn out when I am feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Because the one thing in our lives that we can control is our thoughts.

So today I am sharing those simple actions with you as well. Here are a few ACTION STEPS that may help you turn your thoughts around and remind you that you are awesome, and loved, and exactly enough, regardless of the outcomes…

 

  • To set the tone of your day – sometime before you leave your house each morning, take time to read something inspirational or listen to an inspirational message. Just a few minutes to fill yourself with something positive and uplifting will start your day off with positive possibilities.

 

  • To help overcome mid-day mood dips – when you feel your mind wandering in the afternoons or at a specific scheduled time, actively acknowledge 3 things that you are grateful for in your life. Either type or write those 3 things and spend a few minutes reflecting upon those blessings and their importance to you. This works best for me when I continue using the same piece of paper, journal, electronic list, or email so that I can see the previous entries and build on each day’s gratitude choices without repeating the same three things each day. When we actively look for our blessings, it completely changes our mindsets and allows us to experience contentment and peace within our hectic days.

 

  • To end your day on a positive note – as you’re going to bed and reflecting on your day, think of at least 1 thing that happened that day that you are proud of. It could be a situation you felt you handled well, something you crossed off your to-do list, the way your hair looked that day, or a good choice you made at lunch. Really anything from that day that you feel good about. Let that positive thing be the last thought you leave yourself with, about yourself.

 

Our thoughts will overtake us if we are not mindful of them, there’s no doubt about that. And sometimes our challenging circumstances begin to run our lives and ruin our peace of mind. The only way to take back our deeply desired control, is to refocus and redirect our thoughts. And while we can’t control the way things will turn out – much to my dismay – we most certainly can take control of our thoughts.

 

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Today’s post was inspired by the Five Minute Friday prompt, TURN. The rules are to write for five minutes each Friday on the prompted topic. And I am apparently quite the rule breaker, because it is Saturday (not Friday!) and I wrote for more than five minutes. But my fingers kept typing, so why stop a good thing, I figured!  

This morning when I woke up I had no intention of writing, but we just never know when inspiration will hit us. I was blessed by the dinging delivery of my sister’s words in my inbox this morning and am so grateful for her perspective on “turn”. Her post can be found by clicking here.  

And to read what the other talented bloggers are writing about, click on over to Kate Motaung’s blog.

Celebrating your Superpowers – Day 31 {Perseverance}

Today is here! It is the final day of our superpower celebration, and I’m so glad you have joined me.

31 days is a long time to commit to anything, let’s be honest. If I had to give up coffee for 31 days, I would be a crabby and lethargic basket case. If I had chosen to take up knitting for 31 days, I most certainly would have gouged my own eyes out with those sharp little needles by now. I need my coffee! And knitting is just not my thing. So committing 31 days to either of those ventures would have been decidedly painful.

But this month, I chose to accept a brilliant challenge to write for 31 days. {you can catch some of the other bloggers who took on this 31 day fun here}

I chose a topic that fueled a fire within me, and for 31 days I decided to highlight and showcase the pieces of power that we just don’t bring to the forefront often enough. Our everyday, ordinarily amazing, regular remarkable, occasionally downplayed superpowers. Because within our lives, we just don’t celebrate the awesome things about ourselves with the consistency and fanfare that we should. So for 31 days, we have!

Some days were awesome and my enthusiasm and optimism propelled me through. But some days were hard. Some days I wanted to do other things. And all of the days, I was doing other things. My regular things. Like work and appointments and responsibilities and spending time with friends and cleaning and cooking and grocery shopping and traveling. And each of these 31 days contained only 24 hours. The same amount of time each day had before I committed to writing every day. So some days, I struggled to find motivation. And there were certainly days that I questioned if I had anything worthwhile to share, and my confidence was hard to come by. But I never gave up.

“Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul.”

~ Douglas MacArthur

Goodness knows I have plenty of wrinkles due to age. But I refuse to wrinkle my soul!  So today, as we wrap things up, our grand finale is to celebrate our amazing superpower of PERSEVERANCE!

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Before I started writing this year’s series, I asked my Facebook friends to share their superpowers. I received several wonderful responses, but one really stood out. Following a tragic trauma in her teen years, this particular superhero wasn’t expected to live past her tender age. She survived and today, 27 years later, she is celebrating her birthday. She beat the odds and overcame her challenges and credits her superpower of perseverance.

“I would say perseverance and optimism are mine. People tell me that I’m a miracle, but all I did was not give up and pray that some day things would not look the way they did then. I have since learned that this same ability can help me to continue to grow and progress, and to believe that things always have a chance to get better, as long as you don’t give up.”

 

Such powerful words. And such an inspiration!

Perseverance is our continued effort to do or achieve something, despite difficulties, failure, or opposition. That’s how the dictionary defines it. But I define it as simply never giving up.

We all have setbacks and obstacles in our lives. We all experience failure from time to time. And we all occasionally want to just stop trying. The roadblocks seem too big. And our desire to overcome them seems too small. That disproportionate match up happens to all of us at one time in our lives or another. And for some, the challenges are more frequent and hold greater significance.

Those are the moments where perseverance plays a key role. Those are the moments we decide to keep on going. One step at a time, moving forward and continuing our progress. Persevering despite the odds.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Our greatest glory is in rising up. Digging deep. Holding on. Keeping faith. And simply never ever giving up.

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My deepest gratitude for sharing this 31 day journey with me to celebrate our superpowers! I encourage you to continue this celebration, far beyond this month. Keep encouraging one another. Keep focusing on your strengths. Keep finding ways to acknowledge the amazing qualities you possess. And keep persevering like only a true ordinary extraordinary superhero can!

A few things for you to ponder past this 31 day celebration…

  • What are the qualities you most admire in others?

 

  • What are the qualities you most admire in yourself? 

 

  • How can you redirect your thoughts when you begin to focus on your weaknesses?

 

  • How can you consistently surface and celebrate your strengths?

I would love to hear more about YOUR superpowers, or maybe superpowers that I didn’t have a chance to honor during this past 31 days. Share them with me! Let’s keep the celebration going!!! 


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*This is the 31st post in a 31 day series called “Celebrating your Superpowers”. Catch the series from the beginning by clicking here and you will be directed to an introductory post containing links to each day’s topic.

Thank you for joining me in celebrating your superpowers this month!