If I knew then what I know now . . .

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I’ve heard that phrase so many times before. I would venture to say I’ve heard it hundreds of times. At some point or another, I think we all have!

Wisdom comes from experience. It can’t be learned in a classroom or in some type of intense training. No doubt, your experiences will make the biggest impact! And while it is nice to be young and innocent, there is something to be said about being older and wiser.

So last week I thought, what if I had the opportunity to give my younger self some valuable advice? Here’s what I would share to let her know some things I know NOW, that I didn’t know THEN.

Dear Younger self,

Commit today to eating healthier, no excuses! Keep in mind we are what we eat and eating poorly will and does catch up with you later in life. Don’t stress over the small stuff and believe that everything will work out in the way that it’s intended to.

Be certain that “what’s meant to be will not pass you by.” So there’s no need to hold on so tightly. Learn to place more trust on that little voice inside of you that speaks whenever things don’t feel right and allow it to guide you better.

Younger self, I would encourage you not to be so hard on your self when it comes to raising your babies. Learn to feel proud, because you are always trying to do your personal best and most of the time you do. As for making mistakes, I will tell you they are essential! How else will your children learn that people are not perfect, and that YOU are no exception?

When you lose your patience remember you are only human and patience is a virtue that takes time to develop. As for your messy home, you are allowing your children to be children and so encouraging them to build tent houses out of bed sheets is in fact a GIFT.

Younger self, don’t forget to spend as much time with your parents before it’s too late, because they are a gift worth more than gold!

Please allow yourself more “me” time as often as you can. And all those answers you desperately seek, I will tell you younger self, you DON’T have to have all the answers. Remember you only know a PART of your story, but God knows the WHOLE. So trust and let it go!

Oh, and younger self, one final note! When you come to a fork in the road, and you don’t know which way to turn, learn to accept the advice and assistance of the people who have your BEST INTEREST at heart. Ultimately your decisions will be YOURS to make. But keep in mind those decisions will CHART the course of your life.

As for the person reading this, as you reflect on your own life, I suppose like me, you wish you COULD’VE known then, what you know now. But I think that would be considered cheating.

Besides something tells me, the better teacher will be not from the PASSIVE reading of this post, but from the ACTIVE participation in YOUR OWN LIFE!

More Than Meets The Eye

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Society often defines us by things that can only be SEEN.

Our profession, outward appearance, material possessions, educational degrees, and financial status are some examples of things valued by society. When we have some or all of these things, our value increases.

But my hope is that one day society will begin to redefine what is valuable.

Instead . . .

We should be defined by the kindness, love, compassion we are willing to give, not by the things we possess.

We should be defined by our character, not our profession.

We should be defined by the life lessons we were open to learning, not by our educational degrees.

And, we should be defined by our inner beauty, not by our outward appearance.

You see, for me, I don’t believe we can flaunt the things that define us, for what truly defines us cannot be easily SEEN.

We have to look closer and be impressed by more!

Since fundamentally, we are so much more than meets the eye!

Time Goes Bye

 

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Always in a rush? Seems there is always some place to be or some appointment we must keep. Time flies! In the blink of an eye days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months.

But we are all given the same 24 hours each day! And aside from having to work, the remainders of the hours we get are ours to use as we see fit.

But the big question is are we using our time doing what MATTERS MOST to us?

Recently I had to remind myself of one important fact.

TIME IS A PRECIOUS GIFT!

It’s January! The beginning of the New Year! There is no better opportunity to begin to look at this precious gift of time with a different mindset.

Starting TODAY, I will begin to look at each day like there is no tomorrow.

I will make more time to take long walks.

Build friendships.

Try something new.

Laugh.

Love.

Give.

Worship.

Watch more sunsets.

Read.

Travel.

And never, ever miss an opportunity to tell the people around me what they mean to me!

Time will still go BYE!

But instead, IT WILL BE FILLED WITH ALL THAT FEEDS MY SOUL!

 

 

 

 

NEW YEAR: Reflect, Learn, and Grow . . . Then Repeat!

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If you’re like me, I’m always thinking! With the New Year fast approaching, my “thinking” is kicked into high gear! We all do it, some of us more than others. We think about our past and what went right, what went wrong, and everything in between. We think, and think . . . about EVERYTHING! In fact the average person has between 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day! It’s hard to believe, right?

This new year however, I am challenging you to try something different. Let’s REFLECT instead. Reflection is analyzing our experiences. This allows us to make changes based on our mistakes, keep doing what is successful, and build upon or modify past knowledge based on new knowledge. It’s really quite simple, but don’t get me wrong, I am still a work in progress. I find that the more I reflect however; my life’s mental picture becomes clearer. This in turn acts as a compass on how to move forward with my life. Through this process in 2016, I learned . . .

That things don’t always turn out the way you’ve planned or think they should go. TRUST the process! I learned that joy and sorrow are a state of mind. I learned that we grow the most through our adversities and that they are a necessary part of life. I learned being STILL feeds the soul. That stress and worry are a WASTE of time. I learned that people come into our lives to help us or to teach us something. I learned to trust God and that He has a plan for our lives. I learned that our families ARE our greatest blessings. I learned that you could always find something to be grateful for so pay close attention. I learned that you don’t need to chase people. The ones that want to be in your life will make the effort. I learned to live in the HERE AND NOW because tomorrow is not promised. I learned that your children are 50% what you taught them and 50% who they were born to be (percentages may vary). I learned that people change for two reasons, either their minds have been opened, OR their hearts have been broken. I learned to NURTURE your body and mind, because you can’t give what you don’t have. I learned that you cannot change anyone; they FIRST have to want to change themselves. I learned that friends are the cherries on top of our cake. That life is full of LESSONS, so remain open. I learned that just like our human families, dogs give unconditional love when you need it most. I learned that change is the only constant and that our circumstances can change in a second. I learned to always be HOPEFUL. I learned that our words have power, so use them wisely. I learned to BE NICE to every one because you never know what battle someone might be going through. I learned to follow your PASSION. I learned that LOVE is the most powerful emotion you can show others, so don’t be afraid to show it . . . often!

Life is a journey! Reflect, Learn, and Grow . . . Then Repeat! After all, we CANNOT become what we need to be by REMAINING what we are.

All the BEST for the NEW YEAR and beyond!

Everyone is an Accountant

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Investing is one of the best ways for anyone to create wealth. We deposit funds into our bank accounts to save for a rainy day. After all, the more money we save, the better. But we rarely think of investing in each other the same way. Similar to a bank account, we each have an emotional bank account where we can make deposits into each other. An emotional bank account is an account of trust instead of money. This account is a metaphor for how much trust exists in us and in others. But how often do we truly invest in others?

Perhaps we don’t think of investing in others because we view ourselves as SEPARATE from each other. That’s YOUR life and YOUR circumstances, and this is MY life and MY circumstances. We don’t trust others enough to share pieces of our life. And so we end up feeling discouraged and alone. But we NEED each other!

As different as we are, we are all connected as one. I want you to take a moment and say this statement. “I am not separate from you, just like you are not separate from each other”. This is a powerful statement and one that can change how we view those around us. We are not meant to do life alone. God placed the people in our lives for a reason, a bigger purpose. It is no coincidence!

Everyone is an accountant. Invest in your relationships and don’t take those around you for granted.

Here are some ways you can begin your investments. Be present for someone else even if it’s just to listen. Seek first to understand. Show compassion, respect, and kindness. Keep promises and be loyal to someone, even in their absence. You will be surprised how much you have to offer someone else! Don’t underestimate the power you have to help others. You never know when you will be a blessing to another person. Our accounts with the people we interact with on a regular basis require our constant investment. Building and repairing relationships takes time and effort. But it will be well worth it. When you give cheerfully from the heart, you will receive a tenfold return!

Today, begin by taking the road less traveled. Speak kind words, give without receiving, love without condition, be the first to forgive, and listen with zero judgment. Leave people feeling better than when you found them.

“Maybe we are not here to see each other, but rather to see each other through.”

 

We were made to be COURAGEOUS!

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“Courage doesn’t mean you don’t get afraid. Courage means you don’t let fear stop you”

We were made to be courageous! We gain strength and confidence by every experience in which we stop to look fear in the face.

Courage is defined as “the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty”. Courage is not the absence of fear, but bravery in the midst of fear. Right smack in the middle of our fears, deep within lies our courage.

I am the first to admit that courage is not something that comes easy to me. It is something that I have had to be mindful about and work very hard towards. Many times our soul pulls us toward one thing, but we allow the lack of courage to override it. We allow the voice in our mind to be louder than our spirit’s voice. Your spirit knows things that your mind cannot explain. Learn to have enough courage to listen to that inner voice, your spirit’s voice. It is here where you will find your truest self!

We live in a world where we are distrusting and tend to look at the negative in circumstances, first. But I can tell you that courageous people trust first, regardless of what they see. They give the benefit of the doubt. Courageous people say what they mean and mean what they say, without expectations. Courageous people live in a positive space, where they look at the glass half full instead of the glass half empty. Courageous people build others up, they don’t tear them down in order to feel better or bigger. Each of us are born without fear, but as we grow older the world around us teaches us to fear. We buy into the knowledge that we can’t say what we are truly feeling simply because we fear rejection. We don’t pursue our dreams because we tell ourselves we are not enough, once again giving into fear. Dare to be true to yourself. Have the courage to not be afraid to be who you are and who God intended you to be.

Start living the life you are meant to live. We all have a purpose in this world! Pay attention to that nudge in your gut, listen to that voice in you spirit, and be courageous enough to follow that. It is in this space that we will find true happiness for our life.   Our spirit always has a way of speaking to us, if we are open to listening! Remember that Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, “I will try again tomorrow”.

My “Spiritual Breakfast”

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Breakfast. Nutritionists recommend that we start each morning with a well-balanced meal. Our mornings set the tone for the rest of the day. We all know that! In fact, we have all experienced this whether in a positive or negative manner. But what if we think about our mornings a little differently by adding something extra. What if we add a “spiritual breakfast” to our morning routine by feeding not only our bodies, but our spirit. I can tell you in my own life this has had a tremendous impact. In fact I have found that I can have something simple to eat, such as coffee and a piece of toast and feel good. However, if I go without my spiritual breakfast, I feel empty, like something is missing. After all, we are spiritual beings having a human experience, not human beings having a spiritual experience.

My “spiritual breakfast” consists of reading 7 simple, but powerful spiritual disciplines. Whether I’m going to work, or just sitting on my couch in my pajamas on a Saturday morning, this list gets my day started with a fresh and peaceful perspective.

Here are the 7 spiritual disciplines and a short description of what they mean to me personally:

  1. Celebrate everyday – you woke up this morning, let’s start there. You have food on the table, a place to call home. Celebrate! Life is short!
  2. Be steady on the inside – no matter how crazy the world seems, do not allow that craziness to get inside of you. Breathe!
  3. Be anxious for nothing – anxiety is “fear of the future”. The past is gone and the future is still not here. Learn to live in the here and now. Worry robs our joy. Remember the present is the only moment we truly have.
  4. Pray with gratitude – Start by thinking about 1 or 2 things in your life you can be grateful for and give thanks for that. With practice you can add to your list.
  5. Think about what you think about – this is a BIG one for me! The mind is a powerful thing. Think about positive and good things. And when the bad thoughts start creeping in, just like a T.V., change the channel in your mind. This takes practice and a lot of will power, but the more you do it, the better you will get.
  6. Follow good examples – remember that we learn and teach others not by what we say, but by what we do. Try to do good always and with good intentions. And if you fall short, don’t be too hard on yourself.
  7. Learn to be content – stress happens when we wish our current situation to be different than what it is. Be accepting of your life, your current situation, and what you have or don’t have. Remember things always change!

Remember, practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes better.  So practice these each morning, I promise it will get better!