4 Keys for a Joy-Filled Life~~

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Life is unpredictable.  Life has challenges.  Life can sometimes steal our joy; let’s just be honest about that.  We cannot control everything that comes our way, even if we wish we could! This is why we should be compelled to maintain some key elements in our lives that will help us keep our balance and joy even when faced with uncertainties.

Here are 4 keys that I believe to be essential to maintain a joy-filled life:

1.  LAUGHTER:   There’s just nothing like laughter to release the tension that builds up in our daily lives. A good belly laugh can turn our day completely around! Kathryn Hepburn was quoted as saying  “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.”  I have to agree! Laughter takes our minds off our “to do” list, our sadness, or our anxieties and allows us to catch our breath!  Ignoring the need for laughter will cause us all to become very serious and introspective.  So plan to lighten up a couple of times a day~~LAUGH!

2.  FORGIVENESS: Martin Luther King said; Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.” This means forgiveness is a choice.  I “choose” to be unoffendable yet when I am offended I will seek to walk in forgiveness as a gift to myself! Walking in unforgiveness can change us.  Walking in unforgiveness is draining. Walking in unforgiveness steals our joy.  In an article written by Charles Stanly he said that  “It’s probably not surprising to hear that resentment impacts the mind and spirit, but you may not have realized what a physical toll it can also take on us. An attitude of bitterness ratchets up tension and anxiety, which can affect everything from muscles to chemical balance in the brain. Over time, that kind of mayhem weakens the body.”
Therefore If we seek reconciliation when we can and choose forgiveness always, we will stand a greater chance of experiencing a consistent joy-filled life.

3.  Quality Relationships:  Quality relationships are those that bring energy to you as a person.  I’m talking about the deep, unreserved relationships you have within the circle of family and friends that you have. Who are the people who know you and have weathered storms and joys alongside you?  Who are the people who love you unconditionally and call just to see how you’re doing?  Who are those who would never indict you but would have your back in any situation? Isolation is a joy stealer, we all need a handful of people who will lift our spirits when we are down, laugh with us when we need to unwind, and celebrate with us when we are experiencing even a small victory! These are the relationships that deserve to be placed on your calendar and nurtured!  Friendship is the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person, having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words.
George Eliot

4.  Times of Solitude:  Unplug.  Turn of your phone. Back away from the computer. Breathe.   Take some time to be silent.  To read or reflect. Take time to pray or journal.  Don’t see this as a waste of time, but as an integral part of your day. We all need periods of solitude, although temperamentally we probably differ in the amount of solitude we need. However, some solitude is essential; It gives us time to explore who we are and how we feel. Solitude gives us a chance to regain perspective. It renews us for the challenges of life. It allows us to get (back) into the position of driving our own lives, rather than having them run by schedules and demands from without. Times of solitude are also a time to connect with God, giving you time to listen to what He may be saying to you. Making times of solitude a priority in your life will help you to find joy; even in the midst of a busy, or challenging season of life.

Begin to practice these 4 Keys on a regular basis and you will begin to see how valuable they are right away!  I want you to live a life that is Joy-filled. THAT is my hope for you! 🙂

It’s a Screen Free Day!! Enjoy it!!

On a trip to Kauai a couple years back Greg and I went on a Catamaran Excursion.  We love to to that; just to get out on the vast open sea looking for dolphin, flying fish, turtles, and perhaps even a whale or two!! On this particular trip we were most struck by something else we saw~~ a couple who were aboard spent the entire trip using their cell phones at opposite ends of the boat!! They didn’t really interact much, appreciate the view, or enjoy the romance of it all. Nope~ on their phones the entire time!!

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Recently, at one of my favorite restaurants I looked across the crowded room only to observe a family of 5 having dinner together.  Well, actually they were eating in each others presence, but they were all on their “smart phones” sending texts or playing games! So much for their family dinner!

Driving home from work I always pass a great little park filled with kids; there’s a climbing wall, fun slide, and lots of room to run.  Along the outside of the park there are places for parents to sit to watch there kids playing.  This particular day  I observed that 4 out of the 5 moms had their eyes firmly fixed on the screen of their “smart phones” missing out on the fun and giggles coming from their young children!

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Yesterday, a gal driving a small car right behind me on the overpass continually came up too close behind my car as I headed home.  Looking in my rear view mirror I could see that she was looking down at her lap sending and reading texts the entire time, rarely looking up to see what was ahead.  Had I needed to stop quickly we would have been in a frightful situation!

So, I think it’s time for everyone to start to take some “Screen Free” time!! Catch your breath, disconnect from social media and your phone for a little while.  Remember back in the “old days” when we would come home and get our phone messages? Back when we weren’t so readily accessible?

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Read, connect with a friend face to face, play with your kids, go for a walk~~ so many wonderful things to enjoy!  Give yourself permission to regularly disconnect from your screen, any screen, and fully engage in your life in fresh ways!  It’s the weekend, try it today! 🙂

Time to sail away from the shore~

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During the past week I came across a quote that caught my attention right away; I felt that it embodied how I feel about this season of life.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

As a young girl I don’t think I would have called myself brave or daring, rather I was most comfortable with things that were steady and safe.  Certainly I could get excited about the “idea” of taking big, bold action but in the end I would always stay safely on shore!

I believe that my fear of failure kept me on tasks and in situations that had fairly sure outcomes, no real risk or adventure involved. I never wanted to feel the weight of personal disappointment nor did I want to disappoint anyone. Thus, I did very little that was competitive in my early years.

In High School I branched out and joined the Swim Team; practicing hard to prepare for the swim meets on the weekends.  I remember one particular swim meet where I realized no one was in the lanes next to me and I felt a twinge of excitement that, perhaps, I was going to be the first one to the finish line. As I pulled to the edge of the pool with all the speed I could muster I popped my head out of the water to find that, actually, I was the last one in! That was my last swim meet.

Today, with years of hindsight under my belt, I fully recognize the value of taking risks, challenging myself, throwing off extreme cautions that choke my ability to dream, and giving myself permission to “fail forward.” Without being free to “sail away from the Harbor” I would never have had the life I have full of rich memories, opportunities, relationships, and fresh challenges!

Everyday I learn that life is short, mistakes only cause me to grow, challenges strengthen my resolve, and risk makes me depend more on God in every way. So, 20 years from now I don’t want a laundry list of things I should have done; wanted to do~yet feared exploring! Rather I would love to have a journal full of memories, experiences, and adventures to recall with satisfaction!

What about you? Playing it safe, hugging the shoreline? Perhaps today is your day to explore what it would look like to “catch the trade winds in your sails.”  Dream big! 🙂

I am a Millionaire~~

I am on vacation with my family…On the island of Kauai. This fact alone is enviable and I apologize if it even remotely appears I could be bragging.  However, this trip is not what makes me a millionaire! Rather, it is the people I am sharing this experience with that makes me feel incredibly rich!

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Today we spent 6 hours on a lovely beach; the sun, palm trees, and amazing, warm waters were sincerely lovely BUT the sweet conversations, deep laughter, family banter, rough housing, and the love expressed remind me again, I AM RICH!!

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My family fills my heart.  These individuals are kind, smart and interesting. Watching them interact, respond kindly to those we encounter, and listening to their thoughts and engaging ideas, make me a MILLIONAIRE! It does!  I am deeply grateful and I do not take this precious family for granted!

I pray that when you experience your own families you feel so rich, so fortunate, so blessed~~ Aloha, my friends! 🙂

Are YOU really going to play with me?

Recently I had the fun of visiting my friend in another state.  She is a great mother yet had a new precious little boy only 3 weeks ago. I came to visit in hopes that I could occupy her 3 1/2 and 2 year old for her ~to lend a hand for a few days.

My days at home are filled with many “mature” focuses: Coaching, running a household, handling finances, and building richness into the many family and friend relationships I am privileged to have. So, having a few days to “play” felt truly amazing.

I was fortunate that I had sweet favor with these precious children; they allowed me into their hearts.  We played at the park and in their big basement playroom; I spent many hours on my knees as a dog, being an engine behind a fast moving car, and sitting in tiny chair pretending to be floating in big boat! My goal was to be fully present when I was with them as I knew it would be many months before I would get to play with them again!

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The reason I share this with you is that the oldest son said something to me 3 times that gripped my heart, he looked up at me as I heading towards the playroom with him and said ” Are you going to play with me?, my new friend…are you going to play with me?” What struck me was the look of uncertainty in his eyes….he seemed to wonder if I was really planning to “play” with him!

This boy is dearly loved and certainly NOT starved for attention; yet I think he truly wondered if I was going to be ” in the room” with him or if I was going to “play” with him! I had to think, how often am I with people yet not truly engaged?  How often am I physically in the room, yet mentally far, far away?  I wonder if there are those in my life who would look at me in wonderment and ask ” are you going to be fully present with me?”

What about you?  When you are with those you care about in your life are you fully engaged or only in the room with a busy mind? What I learned was that I gained the most by getting down on the floor with those precious children; I returned home with a full heart.

In the days ahead, try to be mindful about how “present” you are with those in your life–really engage–really play!

Now, seriously, who could resist this face?? I couldn’t! 🙂

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