My One Word

WOOHOO!  The New Year has arrived….

I’m ready to kick off 2019 with my ONE WORD – COURAGE!

By definition “courage” is “the ability to do something which frightens you.”  It is the mental or moral strength to venture out, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.  The history books are full of social activists, like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, who spoke out against injustice at great personal risk. Entrepreneurs like Steve Jobs and Walt Disney, who took financial risks to follow their dreams. They are like modern-day knights, exemplifying the rewards courage can bring.  Courage can range from physical  strength and endurance to mental stamina and innovation.

So why did  I pick this word?  Believe me I didn’t pick it, God placed it on my heart many times over the last few weeks.  I have A LOT of things which frighten me…  In being “courageous”, I have begun planning for 2019 – stepping out into some fearful territory.  Check out some of the NEWNESS coming…

  • The expansion of Rays of Hope – Angel Connection
  • Monthly mystery themed “pink boxes”
  • Monthly random acts of kindness to those who are struggling
  • Applying for disability and learning to live with and accept my MS struggles

Looking back over my “one word”, I realize God is answering my prayers, in his time not in mine.  My vision is to make a difference in the life of others but I need to know my limits.  My life has always been an open door so I can help others.  Over the years, I have stopped sharing those experiences – it is time to have the courage again to share the good, the bad and the ugly.

My first year selecting “one word” was In 2013 and my word was FAITH.  Faith to believe when the way is rough and faith to hang on when the going is tough will never fail to pull us through and bring us strength and comfort too. Helen Steiner Rice. “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.” Matthew 17:20

FAITH led me to my word in 2014 which was EMBRACE.  The goal was to EMBRACE all of the blessings God had in store for me.  I needed to have FAITH before I could EMBRACE the me everyone else saw – confident, thinner, and some might even say fun.  I learned to EMBRACE challenges as blessings without a visit from Doubtful Debbie or Negative Nellie.

Having FAITH and moving forward as I EMBRACED the blessings in my life, I had to learn to TRUST in 2015!  Learning to lean on God for ALL things and TRUST him to direct my path was probably the toughest for me.  I had to learn to stop taking control when things didn’t go my way.  God is in control and I TRUST he will direct my path. I grew in my FAITH, knowing God will provide for my needs.

The inner gremlins were rearing their ugly head so in 2016, my word was CONFIDENCE!  I needed CONFIDENCE to believe when the way was rough and the going was tough.  CONFIDENCE as I learned to live with my recent diagnosis of MS.  CONFIDENCE as I squashed the inner gremlins which had haunted me all of my life.

Then in 2017, it was all about being ACCOUNTABLE.  Being accountable meant in all areas of my life not just my business. It meant watching what I ate, working my business as a business. Most of all, it meant being fully transparent in my relationships which was scary as HELL!

In 2018, my goal was to be intentional in my words and my actions. It started off a bit rocky but at the halfway mark, I was being intentional and making thoughtful choices in my life. Was it easy? NO!  Did I struggle?  Without a doubt.  I learned so much over the year as I started to grow as a person. You would think when a person hits the age of 61, they have learned.  Sadly, many old behaviors had crept back into my life and I needed to face them before I could move forward.  I can say, I ended the year by no longer doing things by the “seat of my pants”.  I plan and actually bounce things off of other people to get their input before I take action.  A new concept for me but one which reaped many benefits.

All of these lead me to this year of COURAGE!

Whatever your word is for this year, I wish you a safe, healthy and Happy New Year.  May this year bring you everything you desire….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When a Dream Dies

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

I sat on my porch with my Bible in my lap and a hot mug of steamy coffee in my hand. Early morning is my favorite time of day. Just me, Jesus, and a smattering of birds.

I closed my Bible and looked out across the backyard. My eyes landed on a rounded mound of fur nestled in the grass under the willow tree.

I got up and moved in for a closer look. My heart sank as I discovered what appeared to be a curled-up baby fawn lying lifeless in the grass. Probably the same fawn my neighbor had seen nursing from its mom the day before. My heart broke. I understand the circle of life, but still. A baby fawn lay dead in my yard. Most likely the target of the coyote I’d seen roaming around.

I couldn’t get close enough to see the wound. Sometimes that is the way of things.

I did get close enough to see the sunlight passing through the velum-like ears, the intricate spots on its back, and the Bambi-like eyelashes resting on a perfectly shaped snout. I would have to wait until Steve got home to take care of the situation. I didn’t have the nerve.

All morning long my mind returned to the lifeless form lying in the sun. Hours passed. At noon I looked out of the window and the still fawn remained unmoved. Untouched. Undisturbed. I couldn’t stand it. I had to know what had happened to it. So I mustered up my courage and made my way to the fawn. Three feet away. Stop. No signs of an attack. I inched closer.
Finally, I knelt down by the beautifully crafted creature, admiring God’s handiwork. But I couldn’t see what had killed it.

“What happened to you, little deer?” I whispered.

Suddenly, the fawn’s head popped up! Startled eyes stared at mine…wide-eyed. Me like a deer caught in the headlights. The fawn simply caught. I fell back on my haunches! And time stood still for a moment as we stared at each other in disbelief!

Finally, the fawn sprang to its feet, wobbled a bit, and scampered off like a drunken sailor. I sat in the grass and laughed, and laughed, and laughed. So the fawn wasn’t dead after all. It had simply found a bit of grass and fallen asleep…until almost noon.

After my heart stopped pounding in my chest, God spoke to my heart, Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

I pondered those words for the rest of the day. I called a friend who was struggling in her marriage—in a very bad way. The sort of way that leaves you wondering if it will survive. I told her the story.

Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

Sometimes a marriage is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a friendship is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a dream is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

I think of how God told the prophet Ezekiel to speak to the valley of dry bones. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:4-6 (NIV)

I imagine Ezekiel felt pretty silly talking to those dry bones. And honestly sometimes I feel pretty silly obeying God and speaking life into the dry bones of some of my situations.

So here’s my word for you and me today.

For my friend struggling in her marriage…

For my friend who cries for her adult son who walked away from God…

For my friend who longs to cuddle up with a good husband rather than a good book…

Don’t assume the dream is dead. Sometimes it just needs to be woken up. Don’t give up too soon.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

What Dream Do You Need to Revive?

Are there dreams you have given up on?  I don’t mean the one you had when you were a child to be a ballerina or a super hero?  I mean the ones you had as an adult. Maybe FEAR and doubt got in the way.  Maybe life got in the way – taking care of everyone else so you let the dream fade.

I will admit, I have let dreams fade over the last few years.  Life definitely got in the way – health issues caused me to struggle and doubt whether any of it was possible.  But the dreams are slowly starting to resurface.  I have faced some of my fears and am struggling through a vision casting process.

Vision casting is when you place yourself in the moment of the dream becoming a reality.  You let go of all fear, doubt and negativity while you enjoy and FEEL the moment.  My director did this with me many years ago – the year I promoted to Director.  As she shared the story with a hundred other women on a call last week, the tears came back to me.  I remembered the moment we broke through and I could actually feel what the moment would be like.  It was a miracle on many counts because I actually remembered the conversation AND I was inspired to dream again.

Think about this for a minute:

You are the only person who can decide to pursue your dream. Books don’t write themselves. Businesses don’t launch themselves. You’ve got to take the first step and keep stepping.

So, let’s talk about how YOU can dust off the dream and bring it back to life…..

1. What dream is sleeping in your life you wish were still a possibility?

Have you buried your dream so deep you forget about it?  Think about it for a moment. The dream which needs to be awakened could be connected to your professional life, your finances, a relationship,  your health, or your personal life. What is the dream for you right now? Write it down!

2. What do you need to give yourself permission to do it?

We bury things which are important for a variety of reasons.  Whatever reason made you bury the dream, it’s time to give yourself permission to dream again.  It’s okay.  Were you hurt and decided it was safer not to go down a certain road anymore?  Did naysers convince you it wasn’t possible?   Did responsibilities in life dictate it was better to let your dream die?  Or did the dream seem impossible to achieve, so you gave up?  Whatever your reason, use the past as a learning tool to recast your dream. Have the faith to believe nothing is impossible.

3. What do you need to say about it?

Speak life into your dream NOW!  Remember “The Secret” and positive attraction?  Say your dream out loud.  Hear the words, I mean really hear them!  Attract the positive, not the negative!  Share your dream with someone else!  Then observe how you talk about it.  When you state all the reasons you can’t have what your heart desires, you speak negativity (death) to your dream.  Each negative word is like a shovel, digging the grave and then piling dirt onto it until you can no longer see your dream. Negative words will steal your vision.  Are you going to let “words” steal your dream?

4. What action will you take next?

Did you know we kill our dreams with inaction?  When you don’t make any steps, even baby ones, towards the dream, you have sentenced it to death.  The best way to revive your dream is to take some action.  Never stop believing your dream is possible,.  As long as you are taking steps towards it, it is!  Don’t put a time frame on it.  Just continue to step towards it and things will start to happen. Start with one small step, then another. Even baby steps, when taken consistently, will get you to the finish line.

I challenge you to dust off your old dream and give it new life.  Whether you use the questions above or vision cast – let yourself dream again.  My dream is to promote to Senior Director with Thirty One and be a member of the Gives Council.  TWO BIG dreams which are really scary but I’m not letting go of them this time.

Share your BIG scary dream with us!  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Is Impatience Your Problem? –

Patience can be developed with practice. 

As a recovering addict, patience has not been one of my strong points.  Sure I had patience (most of the time) with my daughter as a single mom BUT not when it came to other things it was non-existant.

What about you?  Is there a goal or desire are you rushing toward? What is the one thing in your life you just can’t wait to see happen?  I’m usually an “instant gratification” person but I’m working on changing which takes time (and patience).  Are you getting the vicious circle?  LOL.  It is usually the thing we want the most which take the longest like the struggle to reach your goal weight.

And while we’re waiting for things to happen, we are usually tempted to make things happen — we want the magic wand for things to happen NOW!  In most cases, the solution we find to the problem or desire is not a perfect fit and as a result we muck things up.  We get a SMACK to remind us it is time to practice patience!

The truth is a lack of patience is often a sign of fear and those inner gremlins called fear are waiting to squash your  goals and desires.  We want what we want now!  I know I am not alone, right?   We get anxious and worried then begin pushing for things to happen before their time (remember it is His time, not ours).  We need to learn to slow down.  We need to trust.  We need to breathe. Patience is an act of faith, even when we don’t know when or how things will work out.

Here are four key areas of your life where you may need to practice more patience…

Relationships

Are you short-tempered with people? Does waiting in line at the store irritate you?  Do you get impatient with someone who is trying to do something especially when they don’t live up to your expectations?  Are you scared your dream relationship will never happen?  If you are single, have you pushed a relationship to be “serious” when it may not have been meant to be.  Why?  Because you fear someone special won’t come along, or maybe you think you’re getting too old to get married, or your choices are limited so you are tempted to marry the wrong person.   Love happens when you least expect.  I was one of those who always rushed a relationship.  It was when I made the decision to let things happen it did.  In fact, I told hubby I didn’t want a relationship.  Here we are almost 16 years later and still together.  Don’t rush into things.  Be patient. Trust. I am a definite believer of when you relax about things, the door to love (and other things) will open. Are you willing to wait?

Work

Patience was a lot tougher when I worked in an office. I found my lack of patience sabotaged my relationships with coworkers and clients who came into the office.  Now with my own business, on days I have no patience, my relationships with my customers are in jeopardy.  I was a job-hopper for many years because I thought it was the way to advance in my career.  Then in recovery, I learned some patience and VIOLA things changed.  I worked for 9 years at the Aids Alliance before moving into a consultant position. Then I was with Bethel for about 7 years – both of these long term positions allowed me to put my skills to use.  Is your job hopping depriving you of the chance to let you sparkle?

Finances

The lack of patience and the need for instant gratification leads to consumer debt.  For those, with no patience, we also tend to have a sense of entitlement because we think we deserve things even if we can’t afford them.  The result is we rack up credit card debt instead of saving for things we really want.    Yup, I have been guilty of this which is another part of my addictive personality. We often play the comparison game too.  We want to be like everyone else but never realize we are probably comparing their end to our beginning or middle.  When you have a little patience in fulfilling material desires, you might be able rein in your spending.

Health

If there is one thing which takes patience and perseverance, it’s eating healthy and exercising. It took me 7 years to reach my goal weight and it takes LOTS of perseverance to maintain it.  I lost and gained the same weight many times because I wanted the quick fix.  It wasn’t until I joined Weight Watchers where I learned patience.  The results were slow and steady and before long the changes were noticeable!   Are you looking for shortcuts to good health? There aren’t any. Make a commitment to start making one change on at a time and you’ll build up good habits which lead to good health and better looks.

This week I challenge you to practice patience in an area of your life where you are struggling.  What are you afraid will happen if you are patient instead of racing to the goal line?  Practice patience. Good things do come to those who wait.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

This Isn’t How You Planned It

Is your life going the way you planned it?  Are you living out your dreams?  Or are you on the verge of giving up? Are you working at a job which seems fruitless?  Is your relationship hitting a brick wall?   Do you get a little extra money, and then an unexpected expense saps the money as quickly as you got it?

I’ve been there and some days I’m still there.  Sometimes life is all about moving ahead when the road is long and hard. When you’re exhausted and weary, it’s essential you take charge before you burn out or give up.

Like you, I’ve been there, done that!  I never planned to reconnect with the love of my life 16 years ago. I never planned on leaving my dream job.  I never planned on being diagnosed with MS.  Life happens and the plan changes.

The best skill you can gain in life is the ability to navigate unexpected turns and setbacks life throws your way. NEWS FLASH!!!! Life doesn’t always go the way we plan it. The truth is, it rarely does.  So, let your challenges build character and perseverance to empower you to stay the course and win your race.

Here are some tips from the amazing Valerie Burton on just how to do this:

1. Stop expecting things to be easy.

The quickest way to become discouraged is to expect life to unfold just the way you planned it, with few or no obstacles or opposition. Raise your hand if this is you?  I know I’m not alone here.  Life is so much easier when the expected challenges appear –  you know, the ones you planned for.   Don’t get caught up in feeling sorry for yourself when hard times come.  This is the perfect opportunity to tap into your strengths, character, and faith to courageously face whatever life throws your way.

2. Get some fresh air.

When your inner gremlins get the best of you, and you start traveling down that dark tunnel, it might mean you need a break.  Have you been focusing on your problems, rehashing them over and over in your mind? Remember, focusing on the negative brings us more negative.  Take a walk. Do something different. Get out of your normal environment. It can energize you and redirect your thoughts.

3. Get some perspective.

Fresh air will give you perspective and clear out some of the cobwebs or maybe even blow away the inner gremlins.  The greatest difference comes when we focus on someone else’s life. When you start focusing too much on what’s wrong in your life, force yourself to notice what’s right. STOP and think of three things you’re grateful for. Believe me, you probably can’t stop at three! Now, open your eyes to others’ stories about determination and strength.  Despite what we may think, we are not the first person to face our challenges.  Look for someone who has gone through them with strength and grace? When you realize you are not alone, you will feel the rush of power. In face, you may discover someone who has triumphed through far greater challenges and can be a source of inspiration.

4. Commit to running your race to the best of your ability.

Who knows why you are going through what you are going through? It may not even be worth the energy of attempting to figure it out. What is worth your energy is expanding your character and capacity in the process.  Think about the ways will you become a better person by persevering through this? What growth do you intend to glean through it all?

5. Be an inspiration.

Yes, you can be an inspiration for someone else.  Your story may be just the thing someone else needs to hear to overcome their obstacle.  Every person who has faced a challenge has overcome them with their attitude, determination, and faith. Tackle your challenges in a way your children, friends, family, and coworkers will be inspired by your example. You can give others hope by simply acting with the courage to live and love fully in the face of fear and disappointment.

The first time I was told I was an inspiration, I laughed because the truth is, I never believed I could inspire anyone.  My life was my life full of challenges and obstacles.  Some I have overcome and some inner gremlins I still do battle with.  About 2 years ago, when the diagnosis of MS was “unofficially” given, I made a decision to allow my setbacks to build character and perseverance. Truth was my life’s journey had brought me to where I was today.  The challenges were actually a blessing in disguise.  Do I always understand it? NO!  Do I always like it? NO!

If you are struggling, I challenge you to stop feeling sorry for yourself.  It is time to gain  some perspective which will inspire and empower you.   When you get discouraged, what thought will lift you up?  Share it with us, maybe you can inspire someone else…

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!