When I see the Handwriting~

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Just recently I took some time to rearrange my office to make a portion of the room into a tiny bedroom for my growing granddaughters. As I rearranged furniture, removed excess books and craft materials, I came across a large box that has followed the every time I have moved; a box that is precious to me.

Sitting down with the box in my lap I began to spill the contents onto the floor ~ cards and letters saved from the time I was in High School until now.  As I looked over the different birthday cards, cards of congratulations, Just thinking of you cards, and Get well encouragements the thing that drew me to instant tears was the unique and special handwriting I had loved and now cherish from those who have played such key roles in my life.

Reading through the written thoughts of my Grandma Eva, My “Nanny”, incredible encouragements from my dad and from my mom, my sisters, my husband, my sons and their brides; I would know their handwriting anywhere. What had been meaningful before has now become priceless as some have passed away.  I am so grateful that I keep that box of every growing kindnesses.

In this busy day and age it is so much “easier” to send an encouragement or holiday  wish by texting, emailing, and Facebook messaging.  It is easier for certain but those messages, though perhaps rich in content, will lack part of what makes you “YOU” ~your personal handwriting!

I don’t expect everyone to save every card or letter I have ever sent but I do hope that as I get older that when my children or grandchildren will open a box they might be saving they will see my handwriting and will be flooded with memories.  I hope they will be reminded of the love and care I try to pour into their lives every; I pray that the wild flourish in my writing will make them smile.

Have you ever looked through a box of old cards and letter?  Have you seen the handwriting of someone dear to you?  Did it move you emotionally?  If so, grab a pad and paper or buy card; send your handwritten encouragement  out today!  Don’t lose what represents “YOU” ~~~ Your Handwriting!

“In the days of oversimplified communication, receiving a “just to say hi” email can feel like a big deal. So imagine the powerful message you convey when you actually write out your thoughts for another person by hand, purchase a stamp, physically deliver your note to a mailbox and wait days for your special someone to receive it. Their beaming smile at your thoughtfulness will say it all. ”

Alena Hall, Huffington Post

For Better or For Worse~

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When we were graduating college students, preparing to get married over the summer, we engaged in a solid Pre-Marriage course at our university.  The leader addressed all the hard questions to which we responded with twitterpated eyes, ” yes, we understand, but we won’t struggle with “that”. When our wedding day arrived Greg looked so handsome and I felt like a beauty queen in the wedding dress my mother had made.  Towards the end of the ceremony the pastor asked if I would marry Greg “For Better or For Worse”.  I think I probably giggled and said an emphatic “Yes!”

On the front side of a committed relationship we cannot imaging not seeing eye to eye, we can’t envision hurting one another or experiencing extreme challenge; it’s just not a reality we had come to experience at that point in our relationship.

However, the “For Better or For Worse” is the most important sentence in the traditional wedding vows!  For Greg and I, we experienced being very poor, getting pregnant 3 months after being married, moving 7 times in 5 years, health issues, and relational strife.  The reality of what “For Better or For Worse” began to sink in.

Greg and I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by incredible friends and family who were “for ” us in every way; even if that meant speaking the truth to us directly. After 16 years we knew we had hit a challenge we couldn’t fix on our own. Could we navigate this “For Better or For Worse” or would we crumble under the weight of our relational challenges?  We had to decide we were going to work, and work hard to be faithful to those words we had committed to so many years before.

IF we had given up and thrown in the towel during those most challenging times we would have missed the incredibly precious season we are experiencing now.  It would have been so very sad!

Greg and I had to learn new skills to appreciate our differences, learn to communicate and know that we were heard, and we needed to check in with each other asking key questions to help us begin to protect and care for our relationship.  I want to share a couple with you:

  1.  Take time every week to sit together in a quiet place ( before you are exhausted by the  day) and ask one another these three questions:   A.  This week did you feel loved by me?  B. This week did you feel that I truly listened to you?  C.  This week did you feel respected by me?   IF you will answer honestly letting your partner know how you feel and what you need from them you WILL grow closer!  It’s a commitment that will rock your relationship!
  2. Learn Active Listening!  So much of our interaction at home is impacted by kids, TV, Phones, Computers, Sports, Etc.   It’s so easy to assume we have had a good conversation and yet, no one really paid close attention to what each other said.  We assumed we have passed on information well only to find out that you may not have.  Ever heard your partner say this,:  ” Did you ever tell me that?”  😦  Active Listening is about sitting across from each other and while our partner is sharing we just listen and WRITE!  When they are done sharing the listener repeats what they’ve heard and asks of they have “gotten it”.  When there is agreement that the one partner has been heard~ SWITCH ~ and start the process over with the one who was listening before!  Sounds a bit intimidating and new but it will revolutionize your relationship!
  3. Make sure you have some shoulder to shoulder activities on the calendar: go to the gym, take in a movie, go to a cooking class, ride bikes or hike together, play cards, or just simply read books side by side while sipping on a favorite beverage. You need time to play, laugh, and have fresh experiences!

Certainly there are many tools to help build your relationship and to make it easier to navigate any of the ” For Better or For Worse” experiences you may have but these are a few we have found to be tried and true!

This Valentines Day- beyond the flowers, dinners, and chocolate- how about making a commitment to having a rock solid marriage to your Best Friend!

“So it’s not gonna be easy. It’s going to be really hard; we’re gonna have to work at this everyday, but I want to do that because I want you. I want all of you, forever, everyday. You and me… everyday.”  Nicholas Sparks

HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!!

What’s Your Word for 2017?

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Words are powerful. Words can encourage us, give us clarity, and words can be a powerful catalyst for change in our lives.   What do you feel when I say “broken”,” hopeless”, or ” powerless”?  What do you feel when I say “impacting”, “empowered”, or “inspirational”?  Isn’t it amazing how words can actually have an emotional impact on us!

As a Coach I always like to ask my clients if they have a “word” for the year, a word that would serve as a laser beam to keep them on track with what they’d really like to accomplish or apply to their lives.

If you were asked to stop and consider a word for the coming year what might that word be?  If you look back over the past year; what you experienced and what you learned, and then you look toward the year ahead….what kind of person do you want to be? What actions do you want to apply? What is an area of needed growth?  What WORD could serve as a target for you in the days ahead?

Just to help you out, here’s a short list of a few words but please remember, there are so many amazing words and you are unique so I only list these to get you thinking!

Abundant, balanced, consistent, aligned, creative, free-spirited, gracious, glowing, healthy, honest, mindful, peaceful, radiant, impacting, spiritual, vibrant, motivated, spirited, positive, abiding, brave, committed, courageous, or goodness ~~ just to name a few.

What’s Your WORD for 2017? Choose Well!

🙂

 

When a big storm hits~

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Snow!

Right around the Christmas holidays I was excited that the weather forecast was calling for snow! A white Christmas is always fun.  I remember numerous holidays where the weather was chilly, but no snow on the ground.

Christmas came and went–and the snow never stopped falling!  Schools closed, community services closed, roads were dangerous ~ the snow just kept falling!  Some folks lost electricity, others found it impossible to leave their homes due to unplowed roads leaving them stranded.

It is in these moments when we were all challenged on how “ready” we were for a storm of this nature.  Did we have food, water, candles, batteries, snow shovels, or even better a snow blower! Were our neighbors prepared, our family members, were our  Senior Citizens prepared and safe?

When a big storm hits it can be virtually impossible to gather all you need to be successful, sustainable, and safe ~ wisdom begs us to be prepared BEFORE the storm hits.

What about in real life?  Do you think it’s important to be prepared for “the storms of life” before they arrive?  Life happens to us all and it can catch us off guard.  How can we be ready to weather the challenge and discomfort of a “life storm”?

I believe that if we live our lives with routines of self-care, relational harmony, physical health, and spiritual wealth our capacity to face challenges, changes, and concerns with greater fortitude would be entirely possible.  When we are depleted and completely unprepared for the storms of life we can easily be battered to and fro in the waves of the storm.

We have just walked through the biggest snow season that our state has experienced in over 20 years.  It came without any “real” warning and it lasted much longer than any of us had anticipated.  As folks rushed out to buy space heaters, snow shovels, snow blowers, and other necessities AFTER the storm hit they were faced with the dilemma that stores had run out of all those items.

This can be a challenge in real life; we can’t effectively prepare for life storms once the storm hits but we can make choices to live a  proactive life where we apply wisdom to the rhythms, disciplines, and habits in our lives to keep us strengthened for when storms come; because they always do.

Are you ready for a life storm?  What are your successful practices?  What changes could you make to be positioned to face future challenges with strength?

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship”  Louisa May Alcott

Holidays didn’t go the way I had planned!

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Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined I would find myself in the Emergency Room late at night the day after Christmas!  I had been experiencing sharp pains in my upper abdomen, right side, for four days but I brushed it off to the effect of a busy schedule, holiday foods, lots of lifting my precious grandchildren: I was sure it would go away “real soon”.   After four days the pain was really getting my attention!

After some discussion with my husband, he felt we ought to at least get it checked out so we headed for the Emergency Room.  The night didn’t unfold the way I had planned but rather it began a 2 night hospital stay with surgery to remover my gallbladder!  Seriously, not in my holiday plans!  I still had company at my house!!

After the surgery was complete and I enjoyed sweet visits, calls and responses from caring friends and family members, it was when I sent my husband home for the night that I lay there in the stillness of the hospital room surrounded with strange lights, beeps, and an occasional nurse coming in to check my blood pressure.   In the silence of that room I had an important opportunity to assess my life, to throw a wide gaze over my life and decide whether or not I am living the way I know is best in all my Life Accounts.

It’s interesting how vulnerable one can feel in a medical institution.  Being a patient is such a stark reality of how fast life (or health) can be taken.  In the Emergency Room when we arrived there had been numerous accidents on the icy streets of Bend.  A number of folks had passed away, numerous others were badly injured.  I couldn’t help but to be faced with the preciousness of “life”.

In the quite of my room I pondered the use of my time, my finances, my talents, and my energy.  I was forced to consider that if my situation had been more serious would I have had any regrets?  What would I change in the coming year?  How would I take better care of myself?  The opportunity to ponder my answers and make fresh committments was actually a gift to me.   Though I am not grateful for my gallbladder attack, I am grateful to have been given a little “wake up call”.

As a Life Coach I do try to live by the same values that I encourage my leaders to abide by: focus on health, priorities, relationships, self-care/growth, spiritual life, and being engaged in “cup-filling” activities.  However, it’s easy to say “well, this is just a busy season! I’ll get back to my good disciplines soon!”   And then one season runs into another and our busy, over-extended life becomes a life-style.  Right? We’ve all been there!

Having surgery was not even in my wheel-house of possibilities when I looked toward the coming holiday season; a total surprise!  With the help of amazing nurses (especially those precious gals who work the night shift) and caring and supportive family; I am on the mend.

As I assessed my life there were many areas that, frankly, I would not have changed; it felt good to lay there knowing that my family, friends, and colleagues do know that I care for them; they are a priority in my life and calendar.  Physically I need to be more mindful of myself and thus, I am putting key appointments on my calendar even now.  I always want to grow more in my relationship with God; as I lay there in the quiet I pondered all I still wanted to know and understand about God; I will dig deeper this year.

My opportunity to “take some time to ponder my life” was a little bit dramatic, but you have the chance to do the same as you enter this new year that is full of promise and possibilities!  Where are you in your key life accounts?  What’s lacking? What’s working?  Where do you want to be a year from now??  Take time to ponder these things by choice and not by a surprise crisis, as I experienced!

Wishing you a fruitful, impacting, balanced, healthy year ahead!

Happy New Year!

 

 

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men ~ Let it begin with me.

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Ah, Peace on earth, Good will to men.   I would love that.  A world where everyone loved and respected on another, valued each other, and did all they could do to live at peace with one another. I think that actually only lasted for a short season in the Garden of Eden way back in the beginning of our Biblical history.   It’s a fabulous way to live…………but nearly impossible when humans are added to the mix.

With our humanity comes competition, envy, drive for power, and  the desire to conquer.  We’ve seen this down through the ages.  However, with humanity also comes kindness, a giving spirit, willingness to compromise, and the desire to help others be better. But, it’s a fine tension.

Do you believe that change in the world begins with us?   Do you believe we can influence peace at all?    How can I make a difference?  In elementary school I was in the  Glee Club and we sang a song that started like this: “Let there be peace on earth and let if begin with me…..”  I do believe we can impact the world around us!

As we all enter this new year where there will be much good and yet also much unrest, let’s all be people who encourage others, smile at our neighbors, reach out to those in need, and share the true hope that we know we have in God. And if we find ourselves in a place where we have to stand up for what we believe or stand against those with whom we disagree, let’s speak the truth in love.  The shouting matches of 2016 did nothing to promote “peace on earth”.

I wish you a 2017  full of impact, influence, joy, legacy, and yes, peace.

“Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”
~ Albert Einstein

Holiday Aggravation!

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I laughed. I knew I shouldn’t.  I knew I should be empathetic.  But, I laughed as a friend shared her shopping experience this weekend!

Holiday woes.  We are so busy, even manic!  Here’s the story:

My friend went to shop in an early evening this past week, grabbing many, many items needed for the holidays.  As my friend went to check out it was obvious to see that the woman behind her was aggravated, anxious, and in a hurry!

In a quick move, my friend’s hand slipped and she spilled her entire Starbucks coffee into her shopping cart.  As she wiped the items clean the aggravated shopper glared at her and in a snarky voice said  ‘Good girl for cleaning the floor”.

Once clean,  my friend proceeded to place her items on the cart. The shopper behind her began to tap her toes, showing even further anxiety.   Once the items were unloaded  a slow checker began pricing and bagging the items.   In a surprising moment the checker, by accident, knocked over a coffee beverage in a glass container onto the floor; another mess!!

The anxious shopper, at that moment, threw her hands in the air and screamed ” Can you just check my items out already????”  Her heightened aggravation, her tight time schedule, and her holiday frustration now affected everyone!   Is the busyness worth it? is it worth making a spectacle of ourselves and impacting others?

As we navigate the holidays let’s be people of patience, grace, kindness, and joy!  Can we all commit to forgiving the blunders that are simply human, and can we simply extend kindness?  Let’s help others have a very Merry Christmas!

Don’t let the holidays change the good person you are! 🙂

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!

 

 

 

 

First World Problems~

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Imagine my surprise when I entered the garage to get some water out of my 2nd refrigerator that holds all my extra drinks and food. Upon opening the door I saw that every drink (and there were many) had completely blown up and now covered the entire inside of the refrigerator with product and glass!  For some reason everything froze and blew up!!!  It was a mess!!!

What a  disappointment! Now I faced the frustration of having to clean that mess up!   My husband, in a wonderful attempt to show empathy said ” oh wow, that is such a bummer, will you be ok?”.  Hmmmm….. Will I be okay??  Such a telling question and  I needed to ponder my response!   I had to laugh because this was, obviously,  a first world problem.  My extra drinks in my extra refrigerator  were ruined!   Really?  Not a huge issue and, of course, I will be ok!

Isn’t it true, however, that we can often let first world problems ruin our day, discourage us, even make us mad, when in all reality these challenges aren’t really such a big deal in light of what the rest of the world is forced to navigate day in and day out!

The definition of a first world problem is this:  a relatively trivial or minor problem or frustration (implying a contrast with serious problems such as those that may be experienced in the developing world).

Issues such as :  My internet is too slow, I had to wait too long to be seated at a restaurant , my storage unit is too full, the road in my neighborhood is too bumpy, or my TV Cable is out.   May sound silly but these are things that we can allow to make us unhappy.

Perhaps in this season of gratefulness, of Thanksgiving, we can really see how blessed we are as well as being mindful of the many challenges people around the world face every single day:  no running water, no internet, poor medical care, no streets,  and very little safety.

Every day that we turn on the tap for fresh water, enter a warm building, enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables, and freely enter our churches we must realize how very blessed we are.  Our mindful approach to gratefulness can be richer this year in a fresh way if we appreciate ALL we have and we run from a sense of entitlement.

I want to wish you all a wonderful, heartfelt Thanksgiving this year ~ we are so very blessed!

 

 

Raw~

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One the eve of Election Day America is raw.  As a nation we have sloshed through months and months of hurtful, harmful bantering that has left so many weary and blistered emotionally.  We have seen and heard verbal wars consisting of snarky,  shameful comments that even our children should not be privy to.  Many of us have found ourselves saying and posting things that do not present the best version of ourselves but because the “bar” has been set so low by those in leadership, we still look pretty good.  This season has wounded us all in some way and we are raw.

As we walk through the Election week ahead, well, it will be bumpy; no one will really win in the end.  Our nation is so deeply divided that no matter who assumes the presidential seat, we will face the future fractured.  Families, churches, companies, and communities will have those who are grieved by the results while others will celebrate and throw their “win” in the faces of those around them.  No one will really win, we are raw and weary as a nation.

I have sat alone many times over the past year and wondered how I should navigate my own behaviour during this tumultuous season.  I have consoled myself with the thought that government wise ” I didn’t cause it and I can’t fix it”.  However, I have felt God nudging my heart as to what I can impact.

First, I can pray, specifically and in earnest I can pray that God will heal our land as found in 2nd Chronicles 7:14.  I can care enough to set aside time to intercede for the country that I love.

Second, I can vote.  Yes, this year voting has been more challenging than any year in my adult life and yet, my right to vote is a right that was fought for by generations before me and I will honor that right always.

Third, I can be the kind of leader I wish our government would be.  I can be honest, walk with integrity, make good clear choices that will impact those in my life and my community, and I can use diplomatic words of kindness in all that I do to keep the “bar” higher than what I have experienced in our government leadership over that past year.

Fourth and last, I can be kind.  I have the choice to impact my world with kindness, love, inspiration, and the hope that I have found in God.  I can choose to mentor. volunteer, coach, and come alongside those in my community.  I can choose to DO what is right regardless of what our government may or may not do. It’s truly up to me.

We all have a choice to be a beacon of light to the world around us that is just a little raw these days.  Our anger and angst over this election could easily cause us to lose sight of the kindnesses we can show every day.  The rifts between those who believe differently than as us could cause us to miss opportunities to share the good news of hope into a heart desperately in need.   This could be the true church’s finest hour if we remember that we were sent here to be salt and light in trying times, to be a healing balm to a raw generation.

THIS is my challenge for this election week and beyond.  May you be encouraged and challenged in the same way.  May YOU share the hope that is within you. 🙂

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