Friends, Family & Fun

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the wonderful people in my life. I am truly blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family who love and care for me. As I have reflected, on all those I hold dear to my heart, I have felt deeply blessed to be the recipient of so much love and affection.

Each and every morning our bodies awake and arise, from the sleep so desperately needed during the night. As we open our eyes, and take in the morning, a new day awaits us. Our mind begins to churn with the thoughts of what our day might bring. Our heart begins to beat a little faster. Our senses begin to work in earnest, at the realization that a new day is upon us.

Often we begin our day with a quick, mental countdown of everything on our “To Do” list for the day. Sometimes…we awake slowly, and take time to savor those early morning feelings of peace and contentment, and the realization that today is a gift from God.

I have thought often lately of the many gifts that God has given me. Family and friends seem to be at the top my my list. I have been blessed with a wonderful family (immediate & extended), and I have been blessed with so many wonderful, and caring friends.

It is easy to get caught up in the challenges of the day. Each day we are faced with so many choices. What will we eat? What will we do? Who will we see? How will we act? Will we be kind? Or, will we lose our temper? Will we be observant of those around us? Or, simply focus on our own needs? Will we notice how our words affect others? Will we take the time to express gratitude? Will we stop and take a moment to truly observe those we are interacting with? How are they feeling? What can we do to lift them up?

When we take time to put others first, our whole world begins to change. Suddenly, it is as if you can read their thoughts and sense their feelings. You sense their frustration, their sadness, and how lonely they sometimes feel. You can sense their desire to be loved, and their quiet yearning for friendship.

You smile as you observe their joy, as they observe something simple that brings happiness to their heart. You watch as they go about their day. You understand that what they show on the outside (through their words and actions) is often very different from what they are feeling on the inside.

You feel all of their emotions that they try so desperately to hide. You feel their sadness, their pain, their longing for something better. You feel their joy, their happiness, and their love for others. You wish desperately that you could help them to understand how loved they are and how truly important they are in this journey we call life.

It is with new eyes that I observe those around me. My family, my friends, and even strangers that I encounter in my daily life. I am deeply grateful for each and every person who has been, who is, and who will be a part of my life. Each person brings unique gifts and talents to this world and each one seems to have a profound impact on my life.

It is for this reason that I write this post. Know that YOU are a gift from God. He has placed you on this earth to learn and to grow. You have been placed here for a special purpose. You can bless the lives of so many. There are some lives that only you can touch, in the way that is needed. Will you rise to the task? Or, will you go about your day oblivious to those around you. Only you can decide…

My challenge to those of you reading this post is to take the time to be more observant of those around you. Be less judgmental and more loving & kind. You may never know the trials and challenges facing those around you, but rest assured, they have them just like you.

Take the time to express gratitude, to show kindness, and to be patient. Pay attention to the body language of those you interact with. While you can, and should, listen to their words, their body language will tell you so much more. Listen to what they are really saying. Often, when we think others are angry, it is in reality that they are feeling hurt. When you recognize this simple truth, the outcome can be so much different. You can help to heal broken hearts if you will but truly listen.

“No Act of Kindness, No Matter How Small, is Ever Wasted” Aesop

Beauty Forgotten

So, this past year my family moved. We had lived in the same home for 18+ years. After moving 18 years worth of “stuff” to the new place we went back numerous times to clean, touch up paint and spruce up the yard before listing our home for sale.

On one of our trips back to the old house my son said to me, “Mom, we have to take these!” I looked over at him to see that he was pointing down at our beautiful lillies in the front yard. We had planted them the year before and they provided a vibrant and bright splash of color to the front yard. Of course, it was early Spring and the lillies were just beginning to grow and their vibrant color had not yet emerged. At first I was hesitant to move them, afraid that they would not handle the move well. My son won out and we finally dug them up on a later trip back to the house and brought them to our new home.

Anyone who has moved knows that its a BIG job! Somehow, our lillies were forgotten and left in temporary pots under the deck at our new home. We had become busy with unpacking and getting settled in our new home and forgot to re-plant the lillies in the ground. Each time we worked in the yard I would walk past the lillies and say to my son, “We really need to transplant those to the yard.” Well, we got busy and Spring soon turned into Summer.

One day, as I was sitting in the family room, I looked out the window and a flash of color caught my eye. As I took a second look, I realized that my lillies were in full bloom in their temporary pots under the deck. I quickly got up and walked outside to investigate further. I was amazed to see that each and every flower was in full bloom! I was surprised to see them in bloom as they had not received much light under the deck. In fact, I was shocked that they had bloomed at all. They were all leaning in odd directions as we had failed to support the stems due to the fact that we had quite literally forgotten all about them.

As I stood staring at the beautiful flowers a smile lit up my face. I LOVED my lillies and they were absolutely beautiful! It seemed that they didn’t care where they were planted, they were determined to bloom full and bright regardless of their surroundings. They had endured the shade and reduced sunlight. They had endured the small meager amount of dirt that we had planted them in “temporarily”. They had endured the lack of water as we had “forgotten them” quite literally. In spite of all the hardships they had endured, they were bright and beautiful.

I couldn’t help but think about all my wonderful friends as I stood looking at my lillies. I knew that many of my friends were enduring hardships of their own. We each face our own set of challenges in life and sometimes we may feel like these lillies, left and forgotten.

While many may be struggling to find nourishment spiritually or temporally, we can continue to shine forth as beacons of hope to others.  Regardless of our circumstances, we are important. We matter. There will always be someone who’s life we can touch through our example. Rather than hibernate in the dark we can shine forth and bring light to others through our service. Just as my lillies emerged from the darkness and overcome obstacles, we can overcome our trials and find beauty in living.

How will you choose to beautify the world around you? Whose spirit can you lift today? Is there someone you know that could use a good dose of laughter, a gentle touch,  or a kind word? How will you make a difference in the life of another. Will you? When we forget about ourselves and seek to lift another, our burdens become lighter.

Don’t despair if you are feeling “forgotten”. Search deep within yourself and find your “roots”. Whether you are planted on a firm foundation currently, or tipping slightly over, let your roots grab hold and pull you back to where you can stand firm again. Remind yourself that YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL! YOU MATTER! Grab on to the HOPE that you will again STAND TALL and FIRM in your foundation.

Take one day at a time. CHOOSE to find the beauty in today!

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?

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.

Life Happens…

It was early this morning as I decided to put on my shoes and take a quick walk around the yard. It was raining lightly as I walked outside. The fresh air felt good and the light sprinkling of water upon my face actually felt refreshing. As I soaked in the fresh air, and the rain, I lifted my hand and turned on my camera. Let’s see what I can photograph today…

My walk was brisk as the rain began to descend with a bit more weight to it. As I strolled around, snapping photos, I tried to ignore the obnoxious crow that had been making noise all morning. It appeared a few days ago and has perched itself permanently to the top of our neighbors tree. It “caw’s” from about 4 am on, each and every day.

As I was making my way along the back of the yard, I knelt down to snap a photo of one of the many foxglove that have been blooming. As I zoomed in to snap a close up I noticed something on one of the flowers. It looked like a tiny, fury green bug. At first I wasn’t sure what it was. I ran inside to get my “better” camera and snapped a few more photos. As I continued to get closer to the tiny bug I realized it had wings. Could it be a bee? It looked almost green to me and did not look the same color as a normal bumblebee. Yes, I think it’s a bee.

Do you hold steadfast and immovable when the storms of life come? Or, do you climb inside a hole and hide? What do you see this bumblebee doing?

As I sat pondering this little bee’s predicament I felt rather sorry for it. It had been caught in the rain. It looked sad and helpless, sitting there on the flower. I knew it could not fly away in the rain and would most likely spend most of the morning perched on the flower, waiting out the rain. I thought about how often in life we are caught “in the rain” so to speak. LIFE HAPPENS. Sometimes we too, get stuck just like the bee. We are forced to wait out the storms of life, sometimes in places that feel a little uncomfortable for us.

As I sat watching the bee for quite sometime, I wondered why it didn’t climb inside the flower to protect itself from the rain. It could have easily taken a few steps and nestled itself inside the flower to be protected from the rain that was beating down on its little body. Instead it sat patiently, perfectly still, while the rain continued to beat down upon it.

Are we like the bee? Do we brace ourselves for the storms of life and endure them with patience? Or, do we climb inside a hole and hide from the world around us, waiting and hoping the storm will end?

I’d like to think that I”m like the bee. That when the storms of life come I will face them with courage. That I will stand steadfast and immovable, holding fast to the truths I know. Having hope that if I endure the storm well, I will be stronger and wiser when it has passed.

I must admit that there have been times in my life when I have felt the desire to climb inside and hide from the pressing storm. In fact, there have been times when I have done just that. Thankfully, with time, I have learned to climb back out and face the storms of life with courage and faith. It is when I stand steadfast and immovable, exercising my faith and working hard to do my part, that the light at the the end of the storm comes.

Realizing that the storms will come is the first step. Bracing ourselves to endure them well and to learn from them is step two. Having the faith that there will come an end to the storm is the next step. Understanding that when one storm ends, and time passes, we will most likely be faced with another storm. This is LIFE. This is how we LEARN. Each and every day we are being tested. Will we choose the right? Will we be strong?

Sometimes, when we are in the midst of our own trials, we are so focused on ourselves that we forget that there are others who are suffering too. Everyone has trials and to each is given our own unique set of “storms”. The question is not to ask, “Why me?” but rather, “What is it that I am to learn from this?”

When the storm finally does pass, and the sun shines, do we go about our life giving no thought to the purpose of the storm? Or, do we take time to reflect on its purpose. Has it refined us and made us stronger? Or, did we allow it to weaken us? If we have allowed it to weaken us, we can rest assured that we will most likely endure another storm, and another, and another until we finally learn the lesson we are being taught. If the storm has made us stronger, we will not be free from trials, however our future trials will be for the purpose of teaching us something different.

A new shade of purple popped open yesterday. I love the delicate shape of the Iris.

This life is a testing ground. Our lives are filled with trials and storms. They are also filled with joy, happiness and love. The simplicity of life is where we find our real joy. It may come in the form of a child’s smile, the laughter of a friend, or the still small voice that speaks to your soul, giving you peace in a time of need.

The next time you find yourself in the midst of a “storm” think of this bee. Don’t crawl inside and hide…stand steadfast and immovable. Be strong and have the faith that “this too shall pass”. This is LIFE. It’s all we have. Embrace it and find the joy in it. There is always joy…sometimes you just have to look a little harder than others.

Remember to LOOK and then remember to LIVE. Life is a gift, use it wisely…

P90X Challenge – As Of Today, It’s Officially Over…

My Random Photo of the Day - I noticed that the Cherry Blossoms are almost done blooming...

Rather than beat myself up all week over my injury I’ve decided to officially end my P90X Challenge. My leg is recovering but it is taking longer than expected. This past week has been extremely difficult for me as I’ve been dealing with a pulled muscle in my right calf. I’ve re-injured it again and again, trying to exercise before it is really healed. I find myself feeling depressed each day that I’m unable to complete P90X. So, rather than let myself get deeper in depression over not completing P90X while I recover, I’ve decided to end my official challenge.

With the exception of the last week, I completed my workouts faithfully, 6 days a week. I feel good about that. I have grown to love the routines and will begin again as soon as my leg is fully healed (hopefully next week).

My plans for the future are to still workout 6 days a week as I continue to get in shape. Of course, I won’t be able to do that for at least a few more days while my leg heals. My intent is to continue with P90X with a few slight variations. I want to add back in some running so I’ll be substituting a couple of routines with runs outside instead. I won’t be giving daily updates of my workouts, but I will try to provide weekly updates on how I’m doing with my exercise.

I have some other great ideas for upcoming posts so keep checking back as I continue to add more ideas and thoughts to my blog.

Thank you so much to all of you who have supported me in this challenge. It has been fun, exhausting, and enlightening, all at the same time.

The Honest Truth

My sister asked me recently, “How do you get your motivation to work out like you do?” As I’ve pondered her question I’ve come to realize a few things.

Here’s the HONEST TRUTH…

I used to hate to exercise. Honestly, that’s the truth. I hated sweating. I disliked the smell of sweat and disliked the feel of it on my body. I avoided it whenever possible. With the exception of 2 times in my life (18-19 yr old & 25-27 yr old) I have never really worked out on a regular basis.

It’s not that I didn’t want to…well, maybe that’s not the truth…I didn’t like sweating, remember? I always seemed to have the excuse that I didn’t have the time. Quite frankly, that statement was true. I was a workaholic and I was a wife and mother to 5 children. No matter how hard I tried to adjust my schedule, there were always other things that seemed more important…until last year.

I can remember the exact moment that it finally “clicked” in my brain and I knew it was time to do something. I finally got the motivation I needed.

What was that moment? Well, quite honestly it was the day I finally stepped on the scale for the first time in quite a few years. I was shocked by the number I read on it. I had NEVER weighed as much as I did on that day. That’s when I knew something had to change.

I have struggled with losing weight for years. My life was always busy and I often ate on the run, grabbing whatever was easy. More often than not, what I ate was not very healthy. I rarely ate breakfast, and quite frequently skipped lunch, as I rarely had time between appointments. That meant that when dinner time came I was starving.

When I finally saw the number on the scale I was blown away. That is when my motivation finally kicked in. I believe for each person, motivation comes in different ways and at different times. I had finally reached a time in my life where I knew I had to do something about it, and I finally had the time to devote to it.

That’s when I discovered the book, “Master Your Metabolism” by Jillian Michaels. It came at the perfect time for me. I was finally ready to DO SOMETHING about my weight.

My goal is not to just weigh less. It’s more than that. I want to BE HEALTHY. I know people who don’t weigh very much, but they’re not necessarily healthy. My goal is to be FIT & TONED. I want to LEARN TO EAT HEALTHY by making better choices. I want to have a HEALTHIER ENVIRONMENT in my home and I want to EAT HEALTHIER FOODS. I want to FEED MY BODY the proper nutrition so it can HEAL itself and thereby provide me with the ENERGY I need to LIVE A HAPPIER LIFE.

That may seem like a lot, however it is truly how I feel. My motivation initially came from the weight I saw registered on the scale. Yes, in part, that still provides motivation. However, something finally clicked in my brain and propelled me into motion towards living a healthier life. Sure, I still struggle from day to day, just like everyone else. I’m not sure how I keep my motivation going….only that it’s there, every day, moving me forward.

What is it that will finally motivate you? It’s a choice. You have to make it. Noone else can make it for you. ARE YOU WORTH IT? Of course you are!! ARE YOU WILLING TO DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT? That is the question that only you can answer. Will today be the day that your brain finally clicks on and DECIDES to ACT and DO SOMETHING about it?