inspiration

Time For A Check-up…Target Change

Modify reasses Target Change figure-magnifying-glass

On January 9th I posted a blog titled Target Change offering suggestions to modify how to effectively articulate New Year’s resolutions, written and verbal. Instead of declaring what we want to give up, goals are best identified by the change we want to experience. It’s been three months since many of you may have identified target change in 2018. This is the perfect time of year to acknowledge progress and implement modifications, if needed. Yes! It’s time for a check-up! This article will guide you on ways you can celebrate your achievements and how to identify where you may have struggled, with suggested modifications to get you back on track!

Successful start to 2018!

Way to go! Congratulations!! It’s time to recognize your success, big and small.

  • Acknowledge progress. Often we immediately move on to the next goal and step over the achievement. Eventually, this can lead to burnout. Pat your own self on the back and be proud of the goal you attained or progress made these past few months. Depending solely on others to acknowledge your success (small steps or big change) may not happen and this can be (unnecessarily) discouraging. If you see a another person’s positive change, say something! People like to know, others are taking notice.
  • Journal your successes. This can be done through an iPhone app (Day One Journal is the app I use), a mason jar or a notebook that stores a collection of success notes. On those days when you are not feeling so positive, read the notes and you’ll have a great opportunity to reset how you feel about yourself and the direction you wish to go.
  • Do what you love. Whether spending time alone with a great novel, watching an inspirational movie, enjoying a quiet soothing bath with your favorite music in the background, planning time with your spouse, special friend(s) or a fun outing with family, celebrate positive change. All steps that move us forward are milestones, even the smallest ones! Yes, wherever you are on the achievement map, you deserve to pamper yourself.
  • Play it forward. Share your testimony and don’t wait until the goal is fully realized. People learn from people. People are motivated by the success of others. Hoarding experiences can appear selfish. Encouraging others through personal success stories is an incredible and generous way to inspire others. Be this person, especially as a role model to our youth and elderly who often struggle with dwindling hope.
  • Pride? Be Aware! Feeling invincible after achieving goals can be a slippery slope. Guard yourself and set healthy boundaries that will keep you focused. Goals are a lifetime work in progress and not a one-time sprint.

Get back on path!

Achieving goals, whether physical, emotional, family related, personal, spiritual or career focused (perhaps a few if not all of the above) require some form of suffering because change is needed for change to happen. The desire for change was most likely triggered by a feeling of discomfort. And, therefore, identifying and working through weak habits in order to target change will most likely feel uncomfortable. When discomfort brings a level of “suffering” that we didn’t anticipate, it’s easy to become disillusioned and quit. I have come face to face with discouragement just when I’m about to reach the summit of attaining a goal or finishing a project, sometimes fighting the urge to give-up in order to keep moving forward. Funny how this always happens!! Being at the precipice of significant change/reaching a milestone can sometimes damper our spirits instead of feeling empowered by victory so close to becoming a reality. Hang in there! No pain no gain as the saying goes. Imagine that your level of discomfort or discouragement is really saying…job well done, you are almost there!!

Identifying Challenges For Steps Towards Success.

  • What led to setbacks? What could you do differently? Do you need to better prioritize your commitment? Being honest is a critical step to moving forward.
  • Is this goal or change what you want or what others want? Motivation can only persevere if YOU own and are passionate about the experience you are looking to attain.
  • Are you setting a realistic amount of time to achieve your goal? Or if your goal is to overcome an emotional weakness, are you getting enough sleep? Fatigue weakens the motivation and strength to be emotionally healthy? Fatigue has always been my worse enemy and it could be yours. Identify a good cushion to prevent fatigue from becoming a wedge between you and success.
  • Overcommitment a distraction? If you are finding lack of time because over other commitments then assess your day-to-day activity. If the passion and goals of others have become your focus and work, you might need to reflect on ways you can reprioritize and graciously learn how to decline such requests. You alone are responsible for prioritizing your ambitions as worthy. If you don’t, no one else will.
  • Quit?? If you slipped down the slippery slope and quit, it’s OK. Get back up! Be patient and kind to yourself. Realize that some of the greatest world inventors and leaders changed the trajectory of how we live simply because…they got back up!!! You can, too!
  • Personalize your approach. Methods that have worked for others may not work for you. Do something about it. Great article published April 2014 in Harvard Business Review, The Key to Lasting Behavioral Change, Think Goal Not Tactic by Elizabeth Grace Saunders. The author elaborates on four points to encourage perseverance through challenges; determine where you’re stuck, brainstorm other tactics, test your hypothesis, get accountability.

Yes, habit change takes discipline, patience, and practice. But no, it shouldn’t feel like you’re constantly trying to force yourself to do something you really don’t want to do. That’s unsustainable. To make new habits stick, they must work with the reality of who you are and what’s best for you.

Christians around the world are about to celebrate a significant religious holiday, Easter, symbolic of forgiveness, grace, and new life demonstrated by Christ’s death on the cross. In order to successfully attain target change often forgiveness and grace is a required qualification, to others and ourselves to bring us to “new life”. A very special young woman in Africa, my sponsor daughter, recently shared wise words beyond her years. “Faith makes all things possible. Hope makes all things work. Love makes all things work. I am optimistic about the future.” You, too, can be optimistic about your future as you seek positive life change. Embrace faith, hope and love. Be kind and patient with others and yourself. Pamper yourself to celebrate small steps and big change. Honestly assess setbacks and recalibrate to get back on path. And as my sponsor daughter also shares in her writing…”be like the eagle that is strong, has focused vision, and can fly through storms when other birds hide.”

Resources

Target Change, Modify…make life simple

The Key to Lasting Behavioral Change, Think Goal Not Tactic by Elizabeth Grace Saunders, APRIL 07, 2014

Day One Journal 

inspiration

Target Change!

Target Change_edited-1Making New Year’s resolutions offers a great opportunity for setting self-improvement goals. Some of us look forward to making resolutions each New Year but often struggle to stay on track. Many of us don’t make resolutions either because of a lack of interest to do so or previous failed attempts. It’s not uncommon for enthusiasm to wane within weeks of the New Year, however slight modifications in how we practice goal setting can make a difference between success or failure. The purpose of this post is to inspire readers to engage in annual resolutions. Let’s look at the history of resolutions, the statistics that indicate a different approach is definitely needed, and how to target change simply through positive modifications.

History

New Year’s Resolutions have been the cultural norm dating back 4000 years ago, when Babylonians made promises to follow through on financial commitments to their king. A similar practice is recorded in 46 BC when Romans committed to good behavior in the coming year. They honored their god, Janus, (month of January is named after), who symbolized looking back at the year just passed and looking forward to the coming year. Self-improvement resolutions we practice today resemble that of which originated in the Protestant faith – Methodism in 1740 AD, however such goals were spiritually focused at that time. Today only about 45% of Americans participate in making New Year’s resolutions.

Statistics

Research conducted January 2017 and data shared by Statistic Brain notes that 37.8% of people in their twenties achieve resolutions each year while 16.3% of people over 50 achieve their goals. US News reported in December 2015 that 80% of New Year resolutions fail. These facts are not to discourage you but to encourage you to modify how you practice setting goals for the 2018 New Year, taking a different approach for a greater chance of success. Adjusting the practice is especially important if historically you include yourself in these disappointing statistics. If a plan isn’t working, modify the practice instead of getting frustrated or giving up. It’s amazing the impact slight modifications can make. If resolutions have failed you in the past, start by calling them something else to remove the negative stigma. How about calling your New Year goals, Target Accomplishments? Target Change? Or, choose a title that works uniquely for you! Just using the word TARGET keeps me focused!

Modifications – A Positive Approach

Regardless of goals that may change year-to-year, ingrained thinking and habits will determine whether you succeed or fail. Often, just feeling restricted can lead to failure. The mind will also embrace the last instruction you give it. For this reason it’s important to articulate your goals, written and verbally, in a positive way. Instead of declaring what you want to give up, let your goals speak to what change you want to experience. Here are some examples that illustrate how to modify target changes for a positive planned and effective approach.

TIME

A good friend of mine recently shared her New Year’s resolution, blog image Clock_lede1300NOT BE LATE. Just a week into 2018 and being on time has been a struggle. After speaking about the goal and the challenges she faces, here is a modified approach.

  • Positive Affirmation Be On Time replaces Not Be Late.
  • Challenge – “I take on last minute distractions that eventually make me late.”
  • Solution – Be fully ready to leave 15 minutes BEFORE you need to leave.
  • Another Challenge – Then I get antsy and find something to fill the 15 minutes.
  • Another Solution – Have your mail, favorite magazines or a book set aside JUST for this 15-minute fill. Set your smart phone to remind you a few minutes before you need to get up and get out.
  • Response – “I think this might work!”
Blog exercise Target Change bbd6dc606e4787cb9d072eb21dd7ade5
SMOKING

Here is an example about smoking from my own personal experience, many years ago. Saying I’m going to “quit smoking” made me feel as if my goal was about restriction and not choice. My attempts to “quit smoking” therefore always failed. At that time I decided to change what wasn’t working and modified the approach to achieve being smoke free.

  • Positive Affirmation Be Smoke Free replaces Quit Smoking.
  • Challenge – Fear…I don’t want comfort food to replace smoking!
  • Solution – Determine in advance what will replace cigarette time. Coffee became my replacement with health and exercise, my focus. I did drink a lot of coffee which eventually tapered off. Today, catching up on email, walking around the office, stretch and breathing exercises, herbal tea, etc could fill this space. Just know, it’s important to have a new healthy habit replace the cigarette habit to avoid the void!
  • Another Challenge – I’m restricting myself and this makes me crave cigarettes even more!!
  • Another Solution – Embrace this truth…it’s about choice and not restriction. I kept a pack of cigarettes in a drawer with a lighter. I was no longer restricting myself because I knew I had access at any time BUT was choosing daily to be smoke free.
  • Response – 1989 marks the year I successfully became smoke free without succumbing to temptation and cravings.
 ALCOHOL

I have not been feeling as energized as I would like. Drinking a ½ glass of wine each night soon became a full pour and eventually on some nights, 2 glasses, through the month of December with all the holiday social gatherings. Alcohol is the trickiest and easiest slippery slope, pulling you down without warning! Here is my 2018 New Year’s Target For Change.

  • Positive AffirmationDaily 4PM Tea Time replaces Quit Weekday Wine Time
  • Challenge – Finishing the day with a glass of wine gives me permission to conclude the day and relax!
  • Solution – Exploring and investing in premium herbal teas that I can serve in a fancy IMG_1102cup, special just for me, is a great substitute. Some teas provide that soothing and relaxing feel, too!
  • Another Challenge – I’m restricting myself when out with friends who are having wine.
  • Another Solution – I can order wine too, but instead, choose herbal teas when out with friends Monday through Friday.
  • Response – First week has been a success! I feel great choosing weekday herbal teas and weekend wine. I am already sleeping better and far more productive and energized during the week!

Below are simple steps to summarize how to target change. Accomplishing any goal is most often about changing behavior, habits, and thought patterns.

  1. Identify the change you want to see in 2018. This might include exercise, better eating habits, being smoke or alcohol free, improve finances, expand socially, thriving in relationships, increasing quality personal downtime, planning a needed vacation, furthering education, pursuing spiritual growth and perhaps offering or accepting forgiveness and seeking emotional and/or physical healing, etc.
  2. Articulate your target change based on the simple practice the examples above illustrate.
  3. Anticipate temptations and plan your responses, in advance, so surprises don’t become a distraction.

2018 can be the year we change the trend on New Year’s resolutions! Focus on the target change you want to achieve stated in a positive affirmation. Anticipate challenges and temptations that could get in the way and prepare responses in advance. By following these simple modifications you have a good chance of celebrating achieved resolutions at the end of 2018! Inspire others and share your experiences. I welcome you to share your success in the blog comments. Best wishes!!

Additional Resources

inspiration

Target Change In The New Year!

Target Change_edited-1

Happy New Year!! 

The start of every New Year feels like the best time to set new goals and refresh resolutions, which is really a misnomer since this is possible throughout the year. After many New Year’s resolutions my success rate is less than impressive and I’m not alone. “By the second week of February, some 80 percent of those resolution-ers are back home with a new kind of remorse staring back at them in the mirror – the remorse of disappointment.” (US News 12.2015) Recently, I realized, resolutions should be about targeting change rather than simply declaring idealistic goals. Just this simple change of wording from resolutions to targeting change already makes me feel as if I have an excellent chance for positive accomplishments in 2018 because of how I might be led to approach the practice differently. You might feel the same.

Stay tuned for this year’s first published blog, which will be posted next Tuesday, January 9th titled Target Change!!  

Best wishes to all in 2018! 

Debra

inspiration

Thanksgiving – Past, Present, and Future

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Henry Van Dyke  (1852 – 1933)

Thanksgiving kicks off the holiday season and family customs! It is, however, a day that stands alone in its own rich meaning and tradition. My hope is that the significance of this special holiday does not become extinct over time…each year the enthusiasm and holiday rush comes too close to leap-frogging in front of our country’s celebration of thankfulness. Below is a brief refresher list of Thanksgiving historical facts. Following, is the Thanksgiving I enjoyed growing up along with a unique idea; Thanksgiving Gift Boxes we shared with our son from the time he was 8 years old until he went to college. Although he is now 25 years old, we are bringing these ornamental gift boxes back and sharing the idea with you.

Historical FactsSource wikipedia.org

Thanksgiving Day, American public holiday, fourth Thursday of November that began as a harvest festival. “First Thanksgiving celebrated by the Pilgrims after the first harvest in the New World, October 1621, lasting three days attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.

Thanksgiving has been celebrated nationally on and off since 1789 and became a federal holiday in 1863 when President Abraham Lincoln stated…”Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwellers in the Heavens.”

The New England colonists were accustomed to regularly celebrating “thanksgivings”—days of prayer thanking God for blessings such as military victory or the end of a drought.

Tradition

I live a few states away from the location where Thanksgiving was always celebrated at the home of my Uncle, Aunt and cousins. Each year, however, when I awake to the excitement of watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade, cooking and baking, it’s those family get-togethers growing up that tug at my heart and fill me with awesome memories; the amazing aroma of turkey in the oven with many courses being prepared including pasta and, yet to ever experience again, my Aunt’s incredible 3 meat stuffing! Traditional desserts covered the entire dining room table, too. It’s especially the conversations, old stories and laughter shared, which embellish those sweet memories. As families grow we become a generation spread out across many miles. But, time and space is graciously fluid when we can bridge holiday past with holiday present through such love filled reminiscences.

Time is “Too slow for those who Wait, Too swift for those who Fear, Too long for those who Grieve, Too short for those who Rejoice, But for those who Love, Time is not.” Henry Van Dyke (1852 – 1933) American author, educator, and clergyman 

fullsizeoutput_4125
Christmas 2000

Our own unique tradition began in 2000, when my husband, son, and I created Thanksgiving Gift Boxes. As shared in the blog post, Thriving Relationships, 1999 was a difficult year. To celebrate our renewed marriage and promising future in 2000, we identified heart-felt gifts from God, life transforming, which blessed us. The questions that led to “gifts”…In what way do we feel especially blessed this year? OR What gift (God’s grace and mercy) carried me through this past year? Here are some examples…forgiveness, emotional healing, physical healing, unconditional love, patience, perseverance, humility, faith, trust, joy, answered prayers, family, spouse, parents, good grades, genuine friendships, sports, extended family, church family, etc. The goal…choose one significant gift that was a blessing throughout the year. In 2000, though, our tree was FULL of boxes feeling generously blessed through a challenging year.  I’m excited that I found the photo to share with you! The ornament boxes hanging on the Christmas tree inspire the sentiment of thankfulness from Thanksgiving to Christmas and New Years.  fullsizeoutput_4101This year my gift box reads trust. May you enjoy these gift boxes with your family as much as we have throughout the years. How to make the boxes? Plain paper with colorful ribbon can be used or festive wrapping works, too. Labeling standard size gift boxes to place under the tree is another option instead of hanging as ornaments. Small size (jewelry) gift boxes can be found at Michael’s, Walmart and Amazon.

Thanksgiving Thanksgiving 2017.jpegis a holiday connecting the tradition of our country’s past to what we are presently grateful. Often these blessings are not tangible. Helen Keller perfectly states, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched – they must be felt with the heart.” What has touched your heart this year? What challenges have you overcome or generous blessings received and enjoyed? Wishing you a Thanksgiving reflecting heart-felt memories of yesteryear, gratitude of present and being filled with hope for a future paying forward tradition and blessings, being a gift to others.

And, with deepest gratitude to our military who have served and are serving our country today, especially those not able to be with their families this holiday, deployed or lives lost. We are grateful for YOU and your families, the gift of freedom of which comes through such selfless service. Thank you!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

inspiration

Life Balance

Processed with MOLDIV

There are times I feel as if I am walking on a tight rope ready to fall off! Feeling this way, I’m probably not alone. We have become a culture where multi-tasking, task or goal switching and over committing is applauded; a modern measurement gauge for being efficient and well rounded for abundant living. There’s even a misconception that being exceptionally BUSY is admired and respected, be it in the workplace, school campus, neighborhoods, church, family, friends, etc. Those reading who have already traveled this road, you know, it doesn’t end well. Even when we think our priorities and focus are balanced, we slip now and then and balance becomes shaky at best. This post shares the consequences of multi-tasking, benefits of blocking time including self-care, and the necessity for calendaring health checks as a safety net.

Multi-Tasking Consequences

Recent studies have proven multi-tasking (a more accurate term is switch tasking) doesn’t work. Our brains can only thought process well through one task at a time. Quotes below summarize the effects of task switching. Recommend reading the hyperlinked articles for the reports on studies conducted. A blurry focus and divided brainpower does not produce quality work, a quality life or quality relationships.

“Recent estimates are that you can lose up to 40% of your productivity if you multi-task.”  The True Cost of Multi-Tasking, Psychology Today, 9/18/2012

“The neuroscience is clear: We are wired to be mono-taskers. One study found that just 2.5% of people are able to multitask effectively. And when the rest of us attempt to do two complex activities simultaneously, it is simply an illusion.” Why Multi-tasking Doesn’t Work Time.com, 4/20/17

…switching back and forth from project to project, like a hummingbird darting from flower to flower and then back to the original flower, can impair our ability to function at our finest. Why Multi-Tasking Is Bad For You. Time.com April 20, 2017

Time Blocking

Time blocking on a calendar is an effective and efficient means of staying on track, managing tasks and activities to function at our best. Have you heard or read the analogy of Rocks, Pebbles, and Sand in a jar? It was written to help people understand how best to prioritize life. This example never quite worked well for me because my rocks need wiggle room. A jar so tightly packed gives me anxiety just thinking about it!!! When you block time, consider what YOU need to function at your finest. What works for others may not work for you nor was it ever meant to. Self-care is identifying how you best function and allocating down time that nourishes YOUR mind and body. Here are some ideas to ponder.

  1. Self-Care – What do you need to feel your best? Self-care is so important it should be the first you calendar at workable times. If you don’t feel your best, you will not do well in other areas of your life. It’s like the example of the oxygen mask on an airplane…put it on yourself first BEFORE you can function well for anything or anyone.

Sleep – at least 7 hours per night

Exercise – regularly to take care of your body which benefits the mind

Downtime – that brings you joy and builds confidence; hobby, reading, prayer/meditation, other? AND, guilt is not welcome to downtime.

Body rest is great for the mind. Love this quote a friend shared by bodyholiday, Saint Lucia, “Give us your body for a week and we’ll give you back your mind.” So true!!

Prioritize Relationships – What time is committed to your spouse, your children, and those closest to you, in this order. If you are a person of faith, God first.

Work – Realistically block time on your calendar, be it a flexible schedule or structured workday. This is focused time in order to be productive. And, when able, breathe and take mental breaks necessary to clear the mind, especially in between tasks.

2.  Distractions – Although you may have successfully blocked time on your calendar, distractions can FAIL best-intended plans. Identify temptations and have your response planned in advance.

Bite size distractions that are disruptive, with jumbo size consequences, for you. Everyone is different.

Emailtake it off your menu bar and check it twice per day Identify important emails by flagging, star, or smart phone VIP (instructions by Techlicious)

News and Text NotificationsMUTE

Phone callscustom ring tone those calls you must take and voicemail all others (Instructions by Whistleout)

Social Media (not work related) – take off the menu bar and check after work hours

To Do List (work & personal) – trust what is on your calendar and focus only on today

An important note or situation to remember – use smart phone journal app, such as Day One, and voice dictate to instantly record thoughts 

 Deep rooted distractions that dominate concentration and focus?

Commitments that are not a priority – consider revisiting to delegate or eliminate when a commitment has run its course

Influenced by the goals of others instead of maintaining passion for your own work, commitments and ambitions– only you have authority over what is important to you

Life struggles – financial, relational, health causing worry and angst – create a plan for progress to solve life struggles, because worry only robs what you are able to control

Other?

Health Checks

It’s easy to slip and not even realize it’s happening until stress and despair is felt again. We slip when feeling so well balanced we become vulnerable to the illusion of “I can take on more” fed by overconfidence and pridefulness. Once a quarter review self-care, family and job responsibilities, goals and ambitions, along with all commitments on your calendar. Make adjustments where needed. Typically, I have found self-care always needs refocus, which led me to writing about this topic. Health checks ensure we remained balanced and catch ourselves before we are so far off the mark…we fall!

Living life well is like walking on a balance beam. Multitasking day-to-day tasks, task/goal switching and overwhelmed by commitments only leads to racing against the clock, taxing the body and mind. It doesn’t end well. To live a joy-filled life know and accept the authority you have over your priorities, ambitions and time including managing self-care. If you don’t assume this role, others will. What can you do differently today to balance on the beam of life?

Resources 

The True Cost Of Multi-Tasking, Psychology Today, September 18, 2012, Susan Weinschenk, Ph.D

Why Multi-Tasking Is Bad For You, Time, April 20, 2017, Cynthia Kubu and Andre Machado

Rocks, Pebbles and Sand

 

 

inspiration

A Climb With A View!

FullSizeRender-9

Last week I received an inspirational email from a dear 15-year-old very close to my heart. She lives in Africa. We became her USA family when she was 9 years old and I had just turned 50. Every time we receive a precious letter from her, we are inspired. In a recent email she shares a quote from Nelson Mandela, writing ,“once you climb one mountain there are also other mountains to climb”. Here is Mandela’s quote in its entirety.

“I have walked that long road to freedom. I have tried not to falter; I have made missteps along the way. But I have discovered the secret that after climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come. But I can only rest for a moment, for with freedom come responsibilities, and I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.”

We are to always be moving forward, to be the difference for change, not hoarding experiences because with freedom comes responsibility. What caught my attention reading this quote is that Mandela chooses to use the word “climb”. He could have chosen words such as  “walk” or “hike” a hill but he chose not. Climbs are challenging and require perseverance to give of our best, applying giftedness, skills and talents, as well as patience in all circumstances, especially challenging ones. Sometimes our climb brings us through tragedies and difficult times that we simply cannot avoid, appearing without warning, independent of any action on our part. It’s like a thief in the night who comes and suddenly turns our world upside down. This year I have heard too many unfortunate events take place in the lives of those we know, like that thief in the night, turning almost perfect worlds into sheer chaos. This is when the hill becomes a steep mountain and the scariest is fearing the length of this climb and wondering where you will land. When you are able to rest, will the view be that same glorious vista that surrounded Nelson Mandela?

Recently I read a book titled, Embrace the Moment by Bonnie Lee Mahler. The author knows about climbing personal hills. And, like Mandela, she too has climbed many but a mountain came with a steepness of terrain that could have been paralyzing. And, with only a brief reprieve, another similar climb followed. The author shares her journey traveling through a dark time experiencing tragedies, losing both young teenage sons within a 2-year period from unexpected accidents. Ultimately, she finds peace and joy and she reveals the secret in her book. We are each responsible for choosing whether to have dark times shape us in a positive light or pull us into darkness, a pit of bitterness. In this tar pit, bitterness flourishes and there is no freedom. The author’s struggle included doubt, insecurities and fear, but she eventually discovered how to break free from the heaviness of her loss. The help of positive and loving people to encourage her also contributed to that forward movement in life, when it could have been so easy to slip into the abyss. “I honor the past in every way. I’ve loved, I’ve Lost, I’ve trusted, I’ve hurt, I’ve missed, I’ve made mistakes, but above all, I’ve learned!” WOW! Sharing her story to inspire others is continuing the climb. As Mandela so well articulates, “I dare not linger, for my long walk is not ended.” It takes great strength and courage to revisit horrific loss in order to write so others can benefit. She is using her life experiences and giftedness to continue, share, inspire, make a difference as the Mandela quote models for all of us to do, and of which our dear 15-year-old young lady in Africa is so inspired to do, too!!

The past 5 years have been challenging for me, dealing with circumstances beyond my control, facing fear, discouragement and hurt. Often I’ve said to my husband, “When can I dance again?” Well, I realize now I never had to stop dancing unless I choose to allow difficult circumstances and the negative actions of others control the measure of my joy. The same applies to you.

Mahler quotes in her book, “Looking back, I realize more than ever how everything has purpose; life flows with people and experiences.” We all deserve glorious vistas and it’s already ours on this long journey, living our life purpose to make a difference! All we have to do…choose to feel deserving of this awesome rest and give ourselves permission to experience the surrounding beauty!!

Resources

  • Children of Grace  Sponsor a child and be the difference for that child’s future! 
  • Embrace the Moment by Bonnie Lee Mahler, Live life fully..”Honor the Past, Release It, Live the Present, Embrace It, Create the Future, Ignite It.”
  • The Land Between, Finding God in Difficult Transitions by Jeff Manion, “The Land Between provides fresh biblical insight for people traveling through undesired and difficult transitions such as foreclosure, unemployment, uncertainty, and failure.”

inspiration

Breaking Free

Breaking Free

Celebrating independence these past few days, I have reflected on the word “freedom”. Realized, perhaps we all might be cheating ourselves from the FULL benefit of what it means to be free. What are we doing with our “personal” freedom? And, what should personal freedom look like? It should begin, from within.

This week I thought of Eleanor Roosevelt, one of my favorite historical figures. She is a true role model reflecting the “freedom” I am referring to in this writing. Not knowing her past one would think she lived a perfect, flawless, challenge free life. This is not the case. Both her parents and one of her brothers passed away when she was still a child. Her marriage to Franklin Roosevelt, serving two Presidential terms,  was difficult including common knowledge of his infidelity. She also had to contend relationally with his controlling family. Her success, however, is the result of living personal freedom. She did not allow herself to be defined by early life circumstances, past failures, or judgments and opinions of others. If Eleanor accepted the tragedies and challenges in her life to define her, she never would have been the confident and influential voice for equality (women, race, refugees, youth) during her tenor as First Lady, 1933-1945. One of my favorite Eleanor quotes, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”, is spoken from the harsh realities she had to endure, rising above negative interferences. She didn’t allow others to influence the trajectory of her life. When she passed away in 1962, she was renown as one of the most powerful and admired women of her time. Acknowledged again in 1999, she ranked 9th in Gallup’s List of Most Widely Admired People of the 20th Century.

The message from Eleanor’s life is about accepting and embracing personal freedoms. When we choose to be defined by circumstances and the condeming judgment of others, we actually forfeit our freedom while residing in a country that’s all about “let freedom reign.” Ironic, isn’t it! It’s like living in a country that is founded on freedom but we say, “no thanks!” and voluntarily we give it up.

How do we make this change, from within?

  • Know and act on what is important to you. Guard your beliefs and respect the beliefs of others. If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything.” Alexander Hamilton, First Us Secretary Of The Treasury, 1780–1804
  • Determine your own dreams and the plan to get you there. Don’t be swayed by the passions and dreams of others in exchange of your own. Frances Chan in his book Crazy Love notes; “Oswald Chambers writes, ‘Never make a principle out of your experience; let God be as original with other people as He is with you.’ To that I would add, ‘Be careful not to turn others’ lives into the mold for your own.’ Allow God to be as creative with you as he is with each of us.”
  • Don’t judge or label others and don’t accept judgement and labels on yourself. Be the change! “Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962
  • Personal freedom is for everyone. Be this champion to yourself and others. Freedom is tolerance, which means being able to co-exist peacefully and with respect when beliefs and opinions differ NOT when they are the same. “One’s philosophy is not best expressed in words; it is expressed in the choices one makes… and the choices we make are ultimately our responsibility.” Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962
  • Use past tragedies, failures, and tough circumstances (beyond our control) as a bend, not end, in life. With the new day comes new strength and new thoughts. Eleanor Roosevelt, 1884-1962

Personal freedom is not up for vote. It is our God given right. Faith gives me the confidence to know that my life, my beliefs, my choices are truly between me and God, the only one of whom I choose to give reverence. Breaking free is enjoying the benefits of personal freedom, which takes practice. Don’t cheat yourself from experiencing the full spectrum of YOU and don’t cheat others, either! Live personal freedom, and, let others live this freedom, too.