What if ?

life

Last summer Greg and I had the pleasure of sneaking off to Kauai for a little break before jumping into a very busy Fall. The news prior had been fairly disconcerting as there were headlines expressing that the Hawaiian Islands were an easy target for North Korean Missiles!! Greg and I even shared that we had some reservations about going.

The evening we arrive in the Princeville area we unloaded our groceries and proceeded to make a nice dinner to each on the lanai as the darkness began to settle in.   Fifteen minutes into our meal we say what we thought was a very big and very bright “falling star”. We both remarked how strange it appeared………..Five minutes later there was a quiet but huge explosion in the sky with white sparks flooding the sky right in front of us. Greg and I sat there frozen! Was this our worse fear? What had just happened? I quickly looked up the local news and there was nothing to be found. Had we just seen a missile?

The following morning it was announced that one of our military carriers had accomplished a “practice run” to see how prepared we were for any incoming missile. Whew!

Two weeks ago it was wrongly announced that there was an incoming missile and those on the island needed to find somewhere to go. Panic ensued. For 35 minutes there was no announcement that the alarm was sent out by mistake; for 35 minutes people rushed to connect with loved ones, pray, get inside “safer” buildings, and feel all the anxiety that someone might experience after realizing this could be their last day. Wow!

I only felt a fraction of that anxiety when I watched a missile explode in front of us during dinner; the idea that this could be our last day has definitely spurred on meaningful conversation between Greg and I.

Faced with the possibility that we would not have another day we have looked at the breadth of our lives and have begun making adjustments that we could have regretted missing; people, relationship with God, places we want to see, impact we want to have. As scary as that experience was we have used it as a catalyst for fresh growth and stronger priorities.

What if you had been in Hawaii two weeks ago? (I had 8 friends on the island at the time!!) What if you felt like you had a second chance after it was announced that the alarm was sent out by mistake? What would you regret? What would you change? Would your priorities look a little different? I encourage you not to wait until you are in harms way; make those adjustments this year because truly, none of us know when our last day will come. Live with no regrets!

A Goal without a Plan is Just a Wish!

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Facebook added a “memories” feature this year where daily you can receive photos sharing exactly what you were doing on THIS day last year.  Today I was reminded that exactly one year ago I was taking some time to ponder my goals and dreams for 2016; I am jolted by how quickly this year has passed!

I had to ask myself the question, ” did I complete many of my goals and am I ending the year well?”  Hmmmmm………Yes, and no.   Company goals?  As a team I believe we exceeded our goals!  Friend and family relationships? I am confident that  I stayed true to my goals of keeping people a key priority in my schedule. In my faith?  I wonder if I will ever be truly satisfied with my yearly growth; there is always so much more to understand, so many areas to grow.  In my health?  Not my best account and one that I need to move up the priority list.  I’ve done a bit of the unthinkable……..allowed my schedule to affect my strict disciplines!  I know, I know……I can hear you saying “but you are a Coach!”  You are correct…..just trying to be authentic!

However, there are other questions I found valuable in assessing my year in preparation for a new year ahead and I thought I would pass them on to you for that when you access your year and set fresh goals for 2017:

  1.  Did I love my family well?
  2. Did I use my gifts and talents well?
  3. What were some of the notable blessings and memories from this year?
  4. Was there a particular book/teaching that caused me to grow this year?
  5. What goals didn’t get completed? What do I need to change to be successful?
  6. Was I a grateful person this year?
  7. What is one thing that went really well? did I celebrate it?
  8. Was I a gracious host this year? Did I practice hospitality?
  9. Was I kind to others who serve me in the community: grocery stores, gas, etc?
  10. What term would I use to describe this year?

Take some time, before the hustle and bustle of this wonderful holiday season, grab a journal, and consider how you spent this year.  Did you achieve your goals? Were you the kind of person you wanted to be?  What would you like the coming year to look like for you, your family, your company, and your community?  Then, make a plan, calendar dates and steps, and celebrate the wins along the way!  Time really passes quickly so it’s never too early to get started!

Remember, A Goal without a Plan is just a Wish!

 

 

 

 

Oops!

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It’s going to happen.  It’s inevitable. At least once in your life you are going to fail at something.  Everybody has failed even if they refuse to admit it. Interestingly enough, some of the greatest success stories were born out of some form of failure: Steve Jobs, Walt Disney, even Oprah.  C. S. Lewis said it best “Failures are the finger posts on the road to achievement.”

Failure can be a real opportunity!

  1.  You can learn a great deal from failure IF you choose the to.  For all of us there is room for improvement; failures can bring those needed areas to light and give us the chance to grow!   Hindsight is, indeed, a great teacher. A failure can become a defining reference point when faced with a similar challenge or opportunity.
  2. Failure can make you stronger.  When some people fail they throw in the towel, give up.  Others fail and they seem to find a deep strength within to learn from it and do better next time.  Though it feels really bad in the moment but it shouldn’t stop or break you.  Getting through a challenging failure; in business, a relationship, or experience should help us to learn how really strong we are!
  3. A failure may lead to new opportunities.  Sometimes a failure can lead to a necessary ending; a new direction.  A failure can help us assess if we are on the best path for our lives. A failure, as painful as it can be, might lead you to considering fresh avenues for your life.
  4. Failures simply make the successes so much sweeter! To have grown and learned from a past failure and having  fresh success in a previously challenged area is the best feeling in the world!  The learning and hindsight gained somehow makes the challenge worth it.
“Success consists of going from failure to failure without the loss of enthusiasm”  Winston Churchill
“Failure should be our teacher, not our undertaker. Failure is delay, not defeat. It is a temporary detour, not a dead-end. Failure is something we can avoid only by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.” – Denis Waitley
 
Learn from failures, forgive yourself, stand up tall and move forward with fresh resolve.

Some Relationships are Worth Extra Effort~

 

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Do you hate conflict? I sure do!! I used to run from it for many years; never expressing myself, wanting to please and appease! But I have learned two things:

1.  It’s so important to address challenges/disagreements in relationships.

2.  It’s so important to be willing to be humble to “not be right” in order to maintain relationships that DO matter.

In my life I am clearly aware that I have friendships/relationships that I want to, well, last forever.  There are times, even in those key relationships, that there may be disagreements.  How do we navigate some of those challenges without losing the friendship? Well, I am still learning.

There are times when it’s important to set boundaries on toxic or untrustworthy relationships…but there are also times when we might want to walk away from a relationship where there has been a challenge and yet, we know in our hearts we want them in our life!

Questions we can ask ourselves in these instances are these:

1. Though there may be a conflict right now, would I be saddened to lose my relationship because of our present challenge?

2.  Could there be a bridge built in our relationship if I humble myself and try to understand the heart and season of my friend?

3. Can I extend grace and am I willing to move forward?

Relationships are so important, take care, wisdom, and a humble heart to navigate~~ but they are worth it!!!

Proverbs 17:17A friend loves at all times, And a brother is born for adversity.

John 15:13“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.

When Life Feels Uncertain~

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Our lives are full of uncertainty. Pick up a newspaper, watch your evening news!  There’s change and challenge all over the world.  Weather, finances, government policies, and global conflicts swirl around our lives every day. For some, uncertainty at this level has left them paralyzed with anxiety and fear of the future.   Uncertainty is so uncomfortable; our minds want clarity and good closure.  Certainty is almost always preferrable to the unknown!

Yet, we all experience uncertainty in our lives in a more personal way; health diagnosis, job changes, relational challenges, and financial transitions just to name a few.  Times of uncertainty are really challenging to navigate because our head and emotions tend to respond negatively to the discomfort; thus anxiety can set in and hold us captive.

So, how can we find a way to thrive amidst uncertainty?  Is it even possible?  In her blog on uncertainty, Katherine McHugh says “disorienting storms of life are not just about survival, they are about learning to thrive.  It is not in spite of daunting circumstances that we grow, but because of them.”

Scripture puts is this way:

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.”
James 1:2

There are many moments of uncertainty in life. There always have been and there always will be. Sometimes things turn out the way you want them to, sometimes they don’t. Yet, accepting the uncertainty rather than trying to fight it, trusting God to guide and lead you, remembering that you cannot predict the outcomes, and watching for opportunities to grow and learn in the middle of uncertain times really helps.

My life has been full of seasons of uncertainty.  I’ve moved 11 times in my marriage, lived in 5 different cities, we pastored in 5 different churches, served 9 years in a non-profit organization, and have built our own Coaching Company from the ground up.  We have faced physical challenges, family changes, and relational transitions.  Many of these seasons of uncertainty left me anxious, fearful, and discouraged as I walked them out.  However, now that I’m older I am able to look back and see how all these situations have played a big part in who I am today.  Some situations turned out as I’d hoped, some disappointed me, and some were a complete surprise to me!

If I could speak into the life of my “younger self” amidst a season of uncertainty I would encourage her to catch her breath, spend time with God, look for the good that can be gleaned, spend time with life-giving people, and fight the urge to need to know NOW!  If I had consistently made those choices I can only imagine that my experience would have been a bit different!

Are you sitting in a season of uncertainty? If you are then it is my prayer that you will begin to walk in greater confidence that there will be a resolve and that there will be “nuggets of wisdom” to pocket in the days ahead.

Remember:

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

 

 

Could It Be Time For A Needed Break?

 

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More often than not, we finally take a break long after the need for it began to arise!  However, what would it look like if we would give ourselves permission to take a break BEFORE we needed it!  Well, perhaps it would be helpful to list some of the telling signs that show us that we are “spent”:

1.  Even upon rising in the morning we feel a sense of dread rather than hope and anticipation. We dread the tasks of the day;we just feel tired.

2.  We find ourselves having a shorter fuse than we normally have. We will react strongly to situations that we would have navigated better when we had greater life balance.

3.  We start to sabotage the “good systems” we have had in place~ excercise, rest, quiet time with the Lord, and “screen free” time. We make excuses saying that we just don’t feel like taking the time.

4.  Often our food choices start to waver.  We start eating foods we know make us feel bad. We tell ourselves “We’ll start eating better on Monday”.

5.  We can begin to feel apathetic.  We can waste our time surfing the web, watching mindless television, ignoring  phone calls, and even turning down invitations from friends.

These are just a few of the signs that we are in need of a break!

Now sometimes we need a break at a time when we cannot take a vacation; cannot disengage from our responsibilities. So, how can we find ways to re-group and catch our breath?  Here’s a few:

1.  Get offline.  If we are overwhelmed the last thing we need is to burden ourselves with media information, mindless games, and even an over-dose of Facebook.  We need to give ourself a chance to breathe!

2.  Take a “staycation”.  Use local attractions to your benefit; live music, picnic in a park, go to a Museum, take a hike, rent a Kayak, take a cooking class, simply take the opportunity to make a refreshing memory.  It’s amazing how activities like these lift our spirits and give us a fresh attitude.

3.  Read or watch something light-hearted~ something that causes rich laughter.

4.  Take a spiritual retreat.  Set aside a full day – somewhere private or peaceful where there would be time to rest, read inspirational thoughts, pray, journal, eat chocolate, a dream again.

5.  Grant permission to say “No.”    We are often exhausted by maintaining activities that have served their time.  Allowing yourself to re-think the activities that fill your weeks and to say “No” to create greater bandwidth is a gift you give yourself!

For all of us; learning when enough is enough will be key. Learning to recognize when our energy is expiring will help us to take that needed break BEFORE we need that break!!  🙂

Navigating Transitions~

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Life transitions have a crazy way of causing some emotional imbalance–for almost all of us! Transitions, even happy ones, can be stressful and bring up some surprising mixed emotions.  These reactions can often time come as a surprise to us, causing us to feel especially sensitive for seemingly “no reason at all.” Moving to a new city, becoming a parent, selling the family home, transitioning from one job to another, marriage, or a personal loss can all create the opportunity for us to feel imbalanced for a while.

I graduated from my University, married, moved away from my family and friends to a new city, and became a mother within a 16 month period of time. Even though there was so much that was good and new –my equilibrium was off and I had to find a way to create a new normal for myself.  It was an emotional time.  My life since that time has had numerous changes and transitions. Each time it gets a little easier to understand how these transitions affects me and I work harder at being proactive during this time.  I am going to pass a few of these tips on to you!

1.  Transitions can shake your sense of IDENTITY.    It’s natural for us to define ourselves by the job we have, church we attend, neighborhood we live in, family we belong to, or financial status we have known.  When these kinds of elements get shaken up we have to find a new normal.  During this particular time, be gracious with yourself and others, remain consistent to keep your spiritual/self-care routines in place, and  surround yourself with life-giving people. These efforts will remind you that you are not defined by external titles or experiences.

2. A transition can be a wonderful opportunity for GROWTH.  Sometimes transitions give us an opportunity to see areas of ourselves that need attention. Fear, lack of faith, uncertainty, even anger have roots in us somewhere. Being keenly aware of ourselves in this season we can take a good look at these responses and begin to take some steps to address and challenge ourselves to grow. Transitions are a great time to begin new habits.

3. Keep reminding yourself WHY you chose this transition.  In my coaching I encourage my clients to assess their current situation and cast a clear vision for where they want to go.  Though this kind of thinking can take take time and consideration; the greater challenge is in the in-between…actually applying the steps that will make the transition complete.  Matthew Kelly in his book “Leading Through Change” says, “It is often said that people hate change, but that is not true.  People love change; they just don’t like the time of transition.”  If, during our transition we keep the end goal in sight, celebrate incremental changes along the way, and remind ourselves of the fruitfulness of our transition, we will navigate this time so much better.  However, I have also walked through seasons where I didn’t choose the transition, wouldn’t have asked for it, and didn’t understand it’s value at the time. Yet, in hindsight I have learned to find the value even in those tough situations. I call those moments “looking for the pony in the poop”.  There is always something to learn, nuggets of growth, even in un-chosen transition.

4.  Remember your past transitions and apply some of the skills you learned during that time.  No matter what our lives look like, we have all walked through transitions since we were children.  There are ways that we have responded, lessons we have learned, and maturity gained that, if we reflect on those times, can even give us keen insight to our present transition.  I love to journal for this reason in that it captures past responses in my life reminding me of tools and understanding gained during a previous transitional time.

5.  Don’t leave God out of the equation.  No one cares or knows us more than our heavenly Father.  Draw close to him in these time.  Sit still with Him; breath and wait.  Trust that He will see you through.

Transitions can be invigorating, uncertain, challenging, even terrifying for some.  Yet, we all face transitions.  May you find great success in the days ahead as you apply some of these small principles for great success.

                                                                          🙂