4:30 am is REALLY EARLY!

My adorable daughter and granddaughter who came to visit recently.

Okay, I’m back. It’s been about 3 months since my last post and time to write again.

This morning I awoke at 4:30 am to get up for my new morning workout schedule. I’ve been trying to determine the best time to workout as my life is much busier than last year. I finally concluded (with the help of my husband and daughter) that 4:30 am would have to be the time. I’ll admit that I had mixed feelings about getting up that early but I was pleasantly surprised when I found myself actually excited to head to the gym. I actually think I’m going to like that time.

When we walked in to the gym there were only a few people so it was wide open for anything we wanted to do. My husband, daughter and I all walked off in different directions as we had our own plans in mind for our morning workout routine. It was fun to have them there with me and just knowing that we are going together makes it a little easier to arise so early.

My goal is to go at least 5 days a week (preferably 6). After my injuries last year its taken me a while to get back into working out regularly again. My first day back was Saturday and just after Saturday’s and today’s workouts I am already feeling sore. I must admit that even though I’m sore, it feels good to be back.

I grew to love P90X last year and will most likely toss some of those workouts in now and then, but for now I’m hitting the gym and varying my workouts to keep my muscle groups confused and constantly improving. The one session of P90X that I plan to implement regularly is the Ab Ripper X routine. It’s brutal but REALLY WORKS! I’m going to start adding that in again next week.

Wish me luck as I “get back on the wagon” so to speak.

The photo I’m including was taken recently when my daughter and granddaughter came to visit. I just returned from visiting them last week as well and my granddaughter started walking while I was there. So fun to spend time with them. For those of you who are family, I’ll try to post some new photos soon of Ady’s first birthday.

Life Disciplines and Why We Need Them

I’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking lately with regards to life disciplines. It’s interesting to look around and observe others while also reflecting on my own personal life. I’ve been asking myself, “What life disciplines can I implement into my own life to improve and become the best that I can be, in all areas of my life?”

I suppose I can attribute the deep thinking to a recent class I took called Quantum Leap – Purpose, Direction and Personal Power. I’ve taken the class twice before but it’s been years since the last time I took it. It always provokes reflection and deep thinking, while also providing the direction needed to move forward. I guess the statement, “Third Times A Charm” worked. Even though I’ve gained a great deal from the past classes, for some reason this time the material is sinking in and REALLY making a difference.

One of the segments of the class reviews the various areas of our life where discipline is not only required, but very important, to success. Here is a breakdown of the 6 key areas of our life where discipline is critical:

Self-Discipline – This section reviews the model habit, the mindset habit and the proactivity and persistent action habit.

Spiritual Discipline – This section reviews the authority habit, the prayer and meditation habit and the thankfulness and gratefulness habit.

Physical Discipline – This section reviews the nutrition habit, the exercise habit and the stress management habit.

Time Discipline – The section reviews the play time habit, the pay time habit and the organization time habit.

Money Discipline – This section reviews the gross income habit, the 70/30 rule habit and the value/accountability habit.

Growth Discipline – This section reviews the ability habit, the leverage habit and the new capacities and repairs habit.

One of the statements that I really liked from the above section of the class was this, “Your current level(s) of happiness and success are determined by your current disciplines and habits. To change your level of success, you must change your disciplines and habits.

“Success always involves personal fulfillment and you are only truly fulfilled by counterbalancing your actions in harmony with your purpose in life.” This statement really got me thinking. I had to ask myself, “Are my actions in harmony with my purpose in life?” “What is my purpose in life with regards to the above 6 key areas?”

I then had to take a step back and analyze my perspective. I had to tell myself, “Success is an Inside Job”. Whether or not I achieve success in any of the 6 areas listed above is my decision. It’s my choice. You know the saying, “If it’s going to be it’s up to me?” Well, that statement is true. We cannot blame others for our failures or expect others to hand over “success” on a silver platter. WE are the determining factor in the outcome. If we are not achieving the way we would like then we need to look deep within ourselves and ask,”WHY?”

Life is not just about achieving, it is about BECOMING. Are we becoming the person we want to be? I really like this statement from the class, “Our real fear for our life should not be that we don’t achieve – it should be that we don’t become.”

Ask yourself this question:  When do you grow the most in your life? When you succeed at something or fall short?

Sometimes we are afraid of trying because we fear that we might fail. The point is this…The more you try in life the more you will fail. The more you grow physically the more you’ll grow spiritually. The more you grow the more you will become. So, essentially you need to go out into the world and fail a lot so you’ll grow a lot.

I know that many of you reading this are thinking to yourself, “Did she just tell me that I need to fail a lot?” Yes, I did. Of course, you are not trying to fail on purpose, but if you never TRY anything then you will never have success. Sometimes we have to fail our way forward. It is through our commitment to pick ourselves up when we fall that we eventually achieve the success we desire.

Think of it this way: At a higher place there is no success or failure. There are just levels of spiritual payoffs. Our first powerful perspective is to understand that in order to become the most we can become we have to get out in the physical world and try, try, try and never ever give up!

You have to accept the fact that your thoughts control your actions and therefore your future. Here are a few great quotes and insight into this idea:

Lester Sumrall, in his book “Imagination: Hidden Force of Human Potential” said it best when he wrote:

“…Until a person can correct and control his thought life, he cannot correct his real life of actions. We must get inside to learn to discipline the thought life before we can discipline the hands and feet…”

“…Your abilities are really not according to your learning or your education. Your abilities are according to your imagination. If you can see it (in your minds eye), you can bring it into being.”

Robert Stuber, in his audio-tape program “Creating Your Ultimate Destiny” says this:

“Actions are the physical result and manifestation of mental decisions. …Your thoughts control your actions – thus your life. …A mind of great thoughts has no room for small thoughts…”

Napolean Hill, in his book “Think and Grow Rich” wrote:

“Everything is a state of mind. this includes health, wealth, and happiness. For example, if your thoughts are on health – the best health possible for you will come to you. Your mind can become your greatest asset – or your worst nightmare, depending on how you care for it!”

To be human means to have choice. We decide what we will do with our life.

Stephen Covey says this:

“Whether we are aware of it or not, whether we are in control of it or not, there is a first creation to every part of our lives. We are either the second creation of our own proactive design, or we are the second creation of other people’s agendas, or circumstances, or of past habits.

The unique human capacities of self-awareness, imagination, and conscience enable us to examine the first creations and make it possible for us to take charge of our own first creation, to write our own script.”

“It’s a principle that all things are created twice, but not all first creations are by conscious design. In our lives, if we do not develop our own self-awareness and become responsible for first creations, we empower other people and circumstances outside our circle(s) of influence to shape much of our lives by default.”

Do we really want to live our lives by default? I don’t. We need to recognize that we will only get out of this life what we are willing to put into it. We can, AND MUST, play the leading part in our own lives. We determine who we will become through our thoughts and our actions.

Once you have your thoughts in the right place, and you have determined the key habits and disciplines needed in your life, you then need to commit to the process of mastering the basics of the subjects you have decided matter most in your life. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. Focus on the basics.

You know the old 80/20 rule? In 1897 Vilfredo Pareto discovered the pattern underlying the 80/20 principle. While studying patterns of wealth and income in 19th Century England, Pareto found that most income and wealth went to a minority of the people. Rather than site all the facts related to this principle I’ll share a few examples of how this works:

1. In 1963, IBM discovered that about 80% of a computer’s time is spend executing about 20% of the operating code. The company immediately rewrote its operating software to make the most-used 20% very accessible and user friendly, thus making IBM computers more efficient and faster than competitors’ machines for the major applications.

2. In the U.S. from 1973-95, average real incomes rose by 36%, yet the comparable figure for the non-supervisory workers fell by 14%. During the ’80’s, all the gains went to the top 20% of earners, and a mind-boggling 64% of the total increase went to the top 1%!

3. 5% of U.S. households own about 75% of the household sector’s equity.

4. A study of 300 films over an 18-month period found that 4 movies – just 1.3% of the total – earned 80% of the box office revenues! The other 98.7% earned only 20%.

If you were to review your closet you would probably realize that you only wear about 20% of your clothing 80% of the time. You probably only use 20% of your possessions 80% of the time as well. In any given business approximately 20% of the activities bring in 80% of the revenue. I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

In short, you need to get down to the basics. The reason you first master the basics is that the basics are always the 20%, and it is this 20% that always provides you your greatest leverage. Most people don’t get this principle. They spend most of their time doing the 80% that doesn’t really matter. It’s those key disciplines, the 20%, that bring the greatest results.

Leveraging your time and focusing on the 20% that matters most will change your life. The greatest levels of mastery and success are possible when you get the things done first that matter most. We all have the same 24 hours in a day. How you spend those hours is what makes the difference. You must make sure to spend your time making sure the most important things get done first. It’s easy to procrastinate. I know I do. By focusing on the 20% that matters most when you first wake up you will see more progress and success than by focusing on the 80% that matters least.

Sure, it’s easy to say all this (above), but let’s be honest, it’s a lot harder to DO IT. That is where the discipline comes in. We can read it, we can believe it, we can say it, but it will never happen unless we DO IT. We have to take ACTION.

When I completed the P90X Challenge a few months ago I had to take action and commit to being disciplined to complete the workouts 6 days a week for 90 days. It was hard, REALLY hard. I was sore every single day. My body hurt and there were days when I really did not want to do it. What kept me going was my commitment not only to myself, but to you (my readers). That’s when I truly understood the importance of accountability. When we hold ourselves accountable, or even better, have a coach to hold us accountable, we perform better. Why do you think so many pro-athletes have multiple coaches? They know there will be days when they will struggle. Having a coach helps to keep them accountable. In business, the same thing applies. Having someone to report to helps hold us accountable to our goals.

My mind has been stretched in many ways the past few months and it is liberating to recognize my true potential and the course that will get me there. As stated in the beginning, there are 6 key areas of our life where discipline is required. Don’t try to tackle everything at once. Start slowly, start with one area first. The key here is to JUST START!! You must be ACTIVE. You can either make life happen the way you want it or let life happen to you based on other peoples decisions. The choice is yours. I’m choosing to be actively involved in my life and make my life the best it can be. What will you choose?

Discipline, Focus and Balance – Three Items Critical To Success

Why is it that some people achieve at a higher level than others? Typically, when you look closely, you will find that they have implemented key life disciplines that they follow with superior focus. The truly great ones also excert a great deal of effort counterbalancing. They realize that it is impossible to maintain constant balance in all areas of their lives and so they implement the process of counterbalancing.

You may be asking yourself, “What is counterbalance?” Well, in order to understand the principle, just think about how you drive your car. If you are driving on a straight road you must still move your steering wheel slightly to the left and to the right to maintain a straight course. Bumps in the road, the wind, and other factors are constantly moving your car, ever so slightly. In order to maintain a steady path you must “counter” those outside influences through very small movements of the wheels, this in turn will keep you on the straight path you desire. So it is with life!

In order to have proper focus and discipline in our lives we must have goals and dreams. If you don’t know what you’re aiming for you will never achieve it. The first step is to have a vision of what you want. Then you must do your research and determine the proper course for achieving your goal. Once you have determined the proper course, you must implement key disciplines in your life that will help propel you in the direction you desire. You must also have superior focus with the end in mind.

You may be thinking to yourself, “I know what I want, but I’m not sure how to get it.” If that is the case, then you must look to others. Study the lives of other people who have achieved the same desire you have. How did they do it? Study their lives and figure out what the key disciplines were that they implemented into their lives. Then…model them. Do what they did. Don’t try to re-invent the wheel. In most cases, there are others who have achieved what you want to achieve. If they have succeeded, they have probably already learned a great deal about what works and what doesn’t. Learn from them. By modeling them you will often shorten the process and achieve success quicker than if you try to do things “your way”.

Maintaining proper focus is probably just as difficult as abiding by the key disciplines you implement. It is easy to get distracted and discouraged along the way. You must find ways to motivate yourself and you must know WHY you are trying to achieve your goal. What is your BIG WHY?

Having a goal is important, but perhaps what is even more important is understanding WHY you have that goal. If you don’t know WHY you want to achieve your goal then you will never be able to have the focus, and implement the key disciplines, long enough to achieve them. Understanding the “WHY” is the most important part. If you talk with highly successful people you will often find that their BIG WHY is what drives them to achieve. Knowing WHY they want to achieve their goals is critical to their success and helps them maintain focus along the way.

You will always be confronted with obstacles when trying achieve your goals. The question is whether or not you have a big enough WHY to overcome them. Knowing the WHY will improve your focus and chances for success.

Here are some questions to ask yourself?

1. What is my goal or dream? (DREAM BIG)

2. Why do I want to achieve it? Why is it important to me?

3. What will I do once I’ve achieved my goal? What will I do with my success?

4. Who has already achieved that goal, or a goal that is similar? Do I know them? If not, is there information available about them that I can study to see how they achieved it?

5. What key disciplines did they implement in their life to achieve the success they have?

6. How did they maintain their focus?

7. What acts of “counterbalance” did they implement in their life to help maintain their focus?

8. How important is my goal/vision? Am I willing to commit to achieving success by implementing the same key disciplines as those who have succeeded before me?

9. When will I begin? What is my target date for achieving success?

My challenge to you is to DREAM BIG! Then, take some time to determine your BIG WHY. If you have a WHY that is big enough to propel you forward then you will have a higher chance of success. Once you know your BIG WHY figure out the HOW. Study others who have achieved similar success and determine the KEY DISCIPLINES that you need to implement in your life. When you FOCUS on WHY you want to achieve your goal it will help motivate you to adhere to the KEY DISCIPLINES you’ve set for yourself. REMEMBER…you will never have perfect balance in your life, but if you FOCUS on the state of constant COUNTERBALANCE then in essence you will appear to have balance.

None of us are perfect. We all stumble and fall along our JOURNEY called LIFE. What is most important is that we continue to pick ourselves up and move forward towards our dreams and goals for a better future. Others do not determine our success or failure. WE DO! The question is whether or not we are willing to do what it takes to achieve it. Ultimately, it always comes back to US. We determine our future. We can create it, or we can let outside influences create it for us. What will you choose to do with your life?

Traveling Full Circle – Then Stepping Outside

Choose a path that will lead you forward. Hold firmly to the truths you know. Make sure you choose the "RIGHT" path. Only you, and God, will really know what that is.

I feel as though I have come full circle in many ways. What exactly does “full circle” mean? Well, if you imagine a circle, and you begin at any given point on that circle, and move in one direction, eventually you will end up in the same spot you started. How do you jump away from that circle and move in a new direction? First, you have to recognize that you are moving in a circle and STOP.

Once you have stopped, assessed where you are and where you’ve been, you can be purposeful, and gracefully step outside the circle and create a new path. This is where I find myself today.

You know that old saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know,” well that is absolutely true. Often, when we tap into the minds of others, we realize that we truly “don’t know what we don’t know” until we ask the right questions. Suddenly, our minds are enlightened and we learn and grow in ways not possible before.

I know that I have not been posting on my blog daily like I first intended to do. However, the past couple of months I have been experiencing a great deal of growth intellectually and spiritually. My mind has been flooded, day and night, with new inspiration, thoughts and ideas, that have moved me down a new (but also old) path. New because I am seeing things differently this time and my mind and heart have been enlightened to new ways of doing things. Old because the basic mechanics are the same.

The past couple of years I have spent a great deal of time reflecting and observing, not just on my own life but the lives of those around me. Recently, I have spent a great deal of time “stepping outside the box” so to speak, and asking questions of others. My questions were purposeful. As I dug deeper and deeper into conversations, I began to see and understand things from an entirely new perspective. My eyes have been opened and my vision is much clearer.

It seems as though each and every day I am surprised by something new that I learn. As I embark on this new (yet also old) journey, it is with new eyes and clearer vision that I see the path before me. This time I will not be traveling in a circle, this time my path is straight and moving in one direction only. That direction is forward.

Stop and ask yourself these questions:

1. How can you find out what you don’t know?

2. Are you asking the right questions to the right people?

3. Do you ever feel like your traveling in a circle? Doing the same things over and over again, getting the same results?

4. If those results are not the results you want, then how do you step outside that circle and achieve the results you want?

5. Are you achieving the results you want in the job/career you’re in? If not, why?

6. Do you keep traveling in the same circle? Maybe your career choice is the right one but you keep traveling the same course because you refuse to take off the blinders and see things from a different perspective. Or, perhaps there’s a different path altogether that you should be taking.

7. When was the last time you stepped outside the circle and evaluated your progress? Are you moving forward or backward? If you’re moving in a circle does it really matter? YES, it matters! You have to GET OUTSIDE THE CIRCLE and choose a path. Preferrably one that moves you forward.

Take a few moments, right now, to sit back and think about the direction your life is moving. Are you moving forward, backward, or in a circle. We are always moving in a direction, the question is, “What direction are you moving?”

Starting Over…

Yes, it’s true, I feel like a slacker. It’s been over a week since my last blog post. Life’s been busy! Last weekend I drove for 28 hours within a 38 hour time frame. I didn’t mind though. I was headed to pick up my oldest son from college, so the drive was fun. It was great to see him and to bring him home to be with the family again. My younger children are thrilled to have their brother home and so are we.

Yesterday, I finally ventured out for a walk to see how my leg & back were holding up. If you’ve been reading my blog then you know that after I finished my P90X Challenge I injured my leg. What you probably don’t know is that as soon as my leg healed, I injured my lower back. Both injuries have taken time to heal. It was difficult in the beginning and I ended up re-injuring myself on a couple of occasions by exercising before my body was fully healed. I finally conceded that I needed to listen to the doctor and let my body rest. It’s been hard for me to let my body rest as I feel like I’m going backwards in my efforts to get in shape. I’ve finally reached the point where I can begin exercising again and I feel as though I’m starting over.

This time I’ve decided to take things a little slower in the beginning. My back injury was extremely painful and I’m a little hesitant to push myself too hard at first. I definitely don’t want to endure that kind of injury again.

I’ve decided to mix things up a bit in the beginning and will not be as strict with myself for the first few weeks until I’m sure my body is fully prepared for the intense workouts of P90X. I’ll toss some of those in, but will most likely begin with walking and interval running to see how my body reacts. Once I’m sure my body is fully healed I’ll begin P90X again. I loved those workouts and want to get back to them soon.

With all that being said, wish me luck as I start over…

Re-Discovering Myself Through The Seasons of Life

As you come to accept yourself for who you are, you will find peace and tranquility.

Life has a way of throwing you a few curve balls now and then. As I reflect back on my life thus far, I am amazed at how each and every moment has helped to shape and mold who I am and who I am becoming.

My childhood years were filled with laughter, joy and happiness. I was raised in a good home with parents and siblings who loved me. They each played an important role in providing me with a solid foundation to build upon.

The teenage years brought with them the reality that sometimes hearts are broken and friendships are lost. I began to awaken to the reality that life was not always sunshine and lollipops. As I look back on those years I realize that they too shaped me in many ways. It is during this time that I began to think more deeply about what I wanted and who I wanted to become.

I’d have to say that my 20’s were some of the toughest years of my life. It was during this time that I experienced some of my most difficult trials. At times they seemed too difficult to overcome and there were times when I just wanted to give up. Fortunately, I persisted and gained the strength necessary to overcome them and endure them as best I could. Even though most of my 20’s were difficult, it was near the end of those years that I found the love, peace, and joy that I desired.

Then came the 30’s. Wow! Those years seem to be a blur to me in many ways. Life was busy, hectic and fun! Our family grew in size and my career took off and catapulted me far and fast. It seemed that much of this time I was just trying to keep up and do everything that was required of me. Life was good. However, this was when I started to reach deep within myself as I tried to figure out what I really wanted out of life.

That brings us to the 40’s. As I entered my 40’s I put on the brakes. I decided that I needed to slow down and catch my breath. I was purposeful in my decisions and began to evaluate all aspects of my life. I reflected on what was good and what needed some extra attention. I began to make the necessary changes needed, and this brought with it more clarity and understanding. My relationships with others took on a whole new meaning.

It has been interesting to contemplate where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I am headed in the future. I have discovered, over the past couple of years, what inspires me and what makes me tick. I understand myself better today than I ever have. I have waded through troubled waters, floated upon waves that carried me far beyond my wildest dreams, and sat peacefully in tranquility, contemplating where to go next.

Through the process of re-discovering who I am, I have come to realize that I am, who I have always been. I have come to accept that my strengths, and my weaknesses, help to shape who I am. I have discovered that those who know me best recognize my strengths better than I do. They see beyond my weaknesses and offer encouragement as I pursue my path in life.

Where would we be without friends and family? They help to shape and mold us throughout our lives. When we stumble, they are there to lift us up. They provide a shoulder to cry on, and they are the first to make us laugh when we are down. It is through my conversations with my closest friends and family that I have come to recognize that there are innate characteristics that form who I am. As I have made my way through life, I have come to accept and love who I am and who I am becoming.

Life is a journey. It is riddled with rocks and stones that at times can make us stumble and fall. However, life also provides many anchors and pillars of strength, that if we hold onto we will eventually find our way. Just as each year we experience the different seasons, and the changes they bring, we too experiences various seasons of life. Each one is important and brings with it new growth and a new awakening to what is to come.

Take time to enjoy the moment, and the season of life, you are in right now. With time, the seasons of your life will change and bring with them new opportunities for growth. Take time for reflection and learning, for they will bring with them a new outlook on life and more clarity as you move forward and into the next season of life. As you seek to re-discover who you are, you may just find that you are who you always thought you were. Accept yourself for who you are. Recognize your strengths and understand your weaknesses. When you do this, you will be better prepared to face the future with boldness. Then, aim high. Who knows, you just might reach your goal.

It’s Not About You

Turn Your Heart and Mind Over to God. Trust, Exercise Faith, and You May be Surprised by how Quickly the Gates Will be Opened and the Path You Should Take Will be Laid Out Before You.

When we finally accept the fact that life is not about what “WE” want, but about doing what God wants us to do, suddenly the path becomes crystal clear. As we begin to exercise our faith and walk down that path, obstacles are removed, we see with more clarity than ever before, and our fears are washed away.

As we begin to trust God we will find that the restlessness we have been feeling suddenly disperses and the dawn of a new day brings with it the conviction and warmth that God has a greater plan in mind for us. Our vision and purpose are suddenly crystal clear and the pathway is opened.

Are you telling God what you want and then asking him to help you to find a way to make it happen? Or, are you giving yourself over to God, trusting him to use you to be an instrument for good, to do His will and not your will.

When you finally accept the fact that it’s not about YOU, things begin to happen and you will feel a freedom and peace you have never felt before. Try it and find out for yourself. With God all things are possible.

*This beautiful photo was taken by Terry Winter. He has taken some fabulous photos. I love the way he captures the light.  To see this and other photos he has taken go to: http://www.flickr.com/photos/-terry-/2253119668/