Monday, April 24, 2017

Backroads and Alleys

I love backroads and alleys. 

They're the forgotten places, the faces we don't show to the world.  They're not shiny or perfect or polished but often they seem more real in this pre-packaged world we live in.

I accidentally came across this alley while driving around a little town in west Texas.  The name of the business stopped me and OF COURSE I had to snap a quick photo.  I love that they painted the building, the whole building--doors, garage, drainage pipes--a vibrant turquoise and then in big tall letters they proclaimed to the world who they are. 

They didn’t fix all that needed fixing on the back side of their store.  But they are calling you to them, welcoming you into their space.  They’re ready for you, if you’re ready for them and I love that. 

Maybe we need to take a cue from this small store in this small town.  Maybe we need to remember that people aren’t asking us to be perfect.  That we don’t have to be social media ready at all times. 

We need to be comfortable with WHO we are and WHOSE we are. 

Let’s not wait too long to get to that point.  Let’s do the work and spend the time to be who we are called to be and welcome the people God places into our lives into that space we are creating.  Don’t package yourself into looking like and sounding like everyone you see on the tiny screens in your hand.  Be you—be bold—declare who you are in giant letters and encourage others to join you and do the same.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Writing Your Life In Pencil

When you think about your life story, how do you see it?  A pre-printed script that was handed to you at an early stage?  A book that you don’t find very interesting, but feel like you should finish all the way to the last page?  What if we decided to write our lives in pencil, not pen?  With a big fat eraser to erase the mistakes.  And what if we understood that we can cut and paste and move the parts of our story around to suit where we are today.  That we can dream and envision the ending and write our own plot to get there.  And if we don’t like what we’ve written, we can erase the bad parts and begin again.

I want you to think about a manuscript.  A handcrafted piece of art that you are writing every day.  These words are important:  you are writing every day.  The writer, and that’s you, darling, decides on the main characters, the plot, the setting, and the overarching theme.  Is the plot one of daily disappointment?  Or one of embracing your season of life and seeing the beauty in it.  Is it a story of trudging forward on a path that seemed right twenty, thirty years ago?  Or is it choosing the best parts and fitting them into the person you’ve become and following another thread. 

We seem to forget sometimes that we get to choose these parts of our story.  What do we want the ending to be?  Everyone’s story is different—what is yours?  How will you get there?  What steps do you need to take today to make it come true tomorrow?  It can be a little overwhelming to think of the whole, so take it in chapters. 

“I want to grow old with my love.”  Then take care of the two of you now, so, that your relationship grows with time and care. 

“I want to go on grand adventures and see the world.”  Then plan how you can do that with your resources.  Is it the fancy hotels and resorts you want to see or is it the heart-stopping beauty of God’s creation?  Those are two very different things and one is much easier to attain than the other.

Who are the characters going to be in your story?  Are there people in your life that you wouldn’t want to include in your manuscript?  Is there anything you can do to change that dynamic?  If not, then begin to release them, with love.  If your interactions with them are hurtful to you, chances are they are not a good thing for the other person, either.  I know there are some relationships that are harder to disengage with.  Prayerfully consider how you should proceed.  Make sure those people are not affecting how you love and treat the people who love you. 

Not everyone should be in your core group of people.  Choose wisely.

Where does your story take place?  Is most of the action at work?  Is that where you spend most of your time and energy? 
Or is it taking up too much of your heart space and you’ve been neglecting the home where you long to be, with your people? 

See if your reality aligns with your manuscript.  Work is a blessing from above and fulfills a proper space and purpose in our lives, but it’s not the whole story.    Make sure the setting of your life is appropriate for you and for the story you want to tell.

And, lastly:  What is the theme of your life’s story?  What do you want people to think of when they think of the places you’ve been and the things you’ve done and the people you’ve loved?  This should direct all the other components.  This is what matters.  Fortunately, we have an Editor who has given us all the prompts we need to write a life story that matters and that will be a legacy we truly want to leave.  Seek Him and He will show you the way.

If you feel stuck, I pray you will find a way forward towards better and brighter days.  

If you love your story, I hope you will cherish it and share it with the world.  

And if you’re just beginning to write your story, I hope you seek His wisdom and plan for you.   “…for your Father knows what you need even before you ask.” (Matthew 6:8)   

Monday, March 6, 2017

Make Your Dreams Come True Tomorrow

Will you start that new project you've been putting off?

Will you finally finish the work that has been taking up all your bandwidth?

Are you ready to share your heart and wisdom and love with the rest of us
or will you hold it close, worried that it's not good enough?

Today, take that chance.
Make that leap.
Let go of what's been holding you back and start something new or finish something old.
We're all counting on you and waiting to see what only you can share.

All the
, friends. Go out there and be brave today!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Slow Progress is Still Progress

Some people quit due to slow progress, 
never grasping the fact that slow progress is progress.  ~Rolsey

There are days (and weeks and years) where you feel as if you’re standing still.  That all the world is rushing forward but your feet are firmly rooted in the ground beneath you.  You remember the dreams you had and the plans you made and think you’re no more nearer to them than the day they first captured your imagination.

We allow ourselves no grace when we compare ourselves with others.

Perhaps this is a planning season.  Dreams need to be mapped out, provisions secured, logistical decisions made before setting out on this new journey.  Carefully setting out the details in your mind can help clarify and smooth the path you are about to take.

Perhaps this is a not yet season.  I gathered with friends recently and we talked about the places we were in life.  A bit of wisdom from a sweet friend stood out in that conversation—this is just where we are right now.  It may not be where we will always be, but it’s where we need to be right now.  Maybe, just maybe, this season in life is preparing us for the next leg of our journey.

Perhaps this is a calling season.  It could be the reason we feel we’re standing still, is that we really are just standing still. 

Maybe your dreams are whispering to you and pulling your feet out of the clay to take that first step. 

Perhaps you’ve made progress, but don’t even recognize it as progress any more.  The baby steps aren’t registering and the mile markers seem so far ahead of you that you don’t think you’ll ever reach them.  We need to know and remember where we started to see if we’re getting any closer to where we’re going.  Maybe you need a travel journal for your life.  To write down, commit to paper where you’re starting, what you need for your trip, and where you’re headed. 

Maybe you’re farther along the road than you think.  Maybe you’ve just lost track.

Wherever you find yourself this morning, whatever season you’re in, take time to take stock of where you are, where you’ve been and what you need to do to move forward.  You may be going full speed, you may be puttering along, moving forward a little at a time.  Or you may be taking the scenic route, with a few side trips thrown in along the way. 

Wherever you are, I hope you take time today to think about your progress and your hopes and plans, and ask yourself,

What brave thing can I do TODAY 
to make my dreams come true tomorrow?

Helpful tips:

Sunday, January 29, 2017

There Is Only One Next Thing To Do

Sunday evenings are my dreaming and planning time.  I love to sit down with my calendar and journal and plan my week.  Meal planning, appointments, “white space” for spending time with family and friends—my journal and calendar help me keep up with all the things that make up a life.

My favorite part of the journal is my dream page.  What are my dreams and how can I make them come true? 

Figuring out the next great adventure and working back from that to the “right now” helps me figure out the next steps I need to take. 

Money saved every week moves me closer to the next big trip we can take.  Meals planned and time carved out for exercise and rest keeps me healthy and moves me toward my fitness goals.  Unscheduled and unstructured time is a treasure to be spent today and builds relationships for years to come.

I have lots of dreams for all the parts of my life, but I choose one goal at a time to focus on and create a new habit.  One step, every day, moves me closer to that habit and reaching the bigger goal. 

One step.  Every day. 

There is only one next thing to do.

What brave thing will you do TODAY to make your dreams come true?

Helpful links:

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Never Stop Feeling the Rain

Desert thunderstorms are some of the most vivid memories I have as a child.  The suddenness and ferocity of the rain beating down on the arid Sonoran landscape.  The warnings of flash floods and long-dry arroyos becoming raging torrents.  The lightning you could see for miles and the sulphur smell of ozone in the air.   

As we would run to get in our car or inside our safe, warm house, I was drawn to, mesmerized by this primal, violent force of nature.  

No rainstorm I had seen in my old suburban home could compare to the ones in this new strange place where we now lived.  

It was like we had moved to another planet, one with completely different weather patterns and landscape and plants and even people.  Experiencing a desert thunderstorm used all of my senses.  I was a part of it, not just an observer.  It was big, and real, and a gift from God and made me feel like I was, too.

Sometimes I think about those storms.  When I'm rushing around, moving from one task to another, trying to fit everything into the little cubby-holes I've allotted and something happens that throws everything off.  When I can't get back to where I wanted to be and I'm so frustrated by my schedule and my plans.  

I need something big, something that grabs my attention and makes me look up.  

Not just a gentle rain--a big, beautiful thunderstorm that shakes the earth with thunder and captures me as I feel and smell and taste something so much bigger than myself.  This gift from the skies grounds me--takes me out of my own head long enough to see the world around me.  How many other gifts do I not see because they're not dramatic enough to get my attention?  How many times do I just get wet, without feeling the rain?

I still sleep better with the sound of a rainstorm.  Not just a gentle rain, but a desert thunderstorm.  And as I drift off to sleep I dream of the wide open spaces, the lightning striking the mountains in the distance and the dry ground soaking up the water as it surrounds me, covers me, and washes away my little worries, replacing them with dreams of something big and fierce and wild.  One day I hope those dreams will capture my days, as well as my nights.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

This Is My Happy Place

There are people in this world who remind you that it’s the things that happen on a personal level that make this world what it is and show you how it could be.  A sweet friend sent me this pillow yesterday, just because she “thought of me” when she saw it.  She and I both made our careers in an industry where there are very few women and she has been a wonderful example of how to excel and succeed through grace, excellence and focusing on people.  Her smile is infectious and she makes you feel like the only person in the room when she’s speaking to you.   She’s one of my favorite people and I have truly been blessed by getting to know her as a mentor (whether she knew it or not) and a friend.

I hope to learn by her example and open my eyes to how I can encourage people  and help them find their happy place.  Through my writing and urging people to chase the adventure in the everyday, I hope I can help make this world a happier place, one adventure at a time.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Three Ways to Make Today Your Day One

We're almost to the end of January and if you're like me, some of your goals and resolutions are already looking a little ragged and beat up. 

We start off with good intentions, but those are usually not enough to get us through the tough middle and on to the end.

So, what do we do?  Give up?  Write it off to “that’s how resolutions go?” I’ve got a better idea:  let’s regroup and start over.  January 1 is not magic.  It’s a nice arbitrary starting point, but when you decide you’re ready to make a serious goal, any old day will do.  Let’s choose today.

Look at the scope of your goal.  Was it too hard?  Goals are supposed to be difficult, but reachable.  Was it not hard enough?  If it’s not a challenge, then you probably won’t take it seriously.  Choose a goal that will move you to work hard and give it your best.

Look at how you measure your goal.  Are there measurable steps?  “I want to lose weight before swimsuit season” is tough, but not really measurable.  How much weight?  What date are you shooting for?  Once you choose a specific goal, say 20 pounds by June 1st, then work backwards from that date and make specific smaller goals you can meet along the way.

Look at how many goals you set.  Much of successful goal setting is changing your habits.  Habits actually take 66 days to change and it takes perseverance to really make that habit stick.  Using a chart like the One Thing chart can help you visually see your progress and keep you from “breaking the chain”.   


Choose one goal at first.  Just one.  Make it difficult and measurable and figure out how you’re going to keep yourself motivated.  Once you’ve accomplished this first goal and made it a firm habit, then you can move on to your next one.   

I chose the goal of getting to bed by 9 pm and it has been TOUGH.  I chose more sleep because I think it will also help with my weight loss goal and productivity goals, so, I really want to nail this habit.  My 66 day chart looks a little sad, but I am choosing TODAY as my new day one. 

I hope you’ll join me in making today not just another day, but day one towards reaching your best goal.  

Monday, January 9, 2017

Hello, Monday.

Good morning, friends! Welcome to the second Monday of 2017! This one feels like "for reals"--holidays are in the rearview mirror and the new year is here to stay. I've done my goal setting for the week, meal plans are set and I'm looking forward to our first trip of the year in a few weeks. Diffusing a little stress away + a little peppermint to wake me up and keep me on my toes. 

Monday? Bring it on.

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Here's the link, if you're ready to get started for a healthier you!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Dream Big and Work Hard: Goals for 2017

It's 2017 and I AM READY!  Our family is still working on choosing our word of the year.  Last year's was adventure and I drew this on our kitchen chalkboard wall:

buy the 8x10 print here from Maine Mom Design's cute etsy shop

To the left of the drawing, the kids wrote down places they wanted to travel to and what outdoor activities those places offered, like snorkeling and paddle boarding.  We didn't get to as many as I would have liked, but we had fun on our trips to Garner State Park and Red River, New Mexico.

What I have found is that having these aspirations visibly in front of me makes me more mindful of them and more likely to make plans and make those adventures happen.  So, I'll be writing 3 things on my chalkboard wall this year, as an addition to our not-yet-chosen word o' the year:

Dream Big
I read motivational books all the time and the best productivity tip I've come away with is to make your goals big, specific and measurable.  Saying "I want to lose some weight" is a good start, but a better goal is "I want to lose 20 pounds by June 1st."  You have a specific, difficult challenge set and the time frame in which you want to achieve it.  After setting a goal like that, it's easier to work backwards and set smaller checkpoint goals and action items to make you successful.

Focus on Essentials 

Greg McKeown's book Essentialism

Greg McKeown's book Essentialism is one I usually read at least once a year because I need the reminder to step back and choose the most important thing.  I apparently didn't read it as many times as I should have in 2016 because I very much overloaded myself with commitments and I am determined to not let that happen in 2017.  I want to focus on my dreams and find the essential steps to make those dreams happen.

Work Hard
This year I want to make sure I'm working hard on the things that matter.  It's easy to get side-tracked doing a million different things that keep you busy, but don't help you advance your goals.  Make sure you align your work with your goals to make sure you're getting the most out of all your effort.

I would love to hear what your word of the year is and what steps you're taking to "make it so"!