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important nothings blog

"which of all my important nothings should i tell you first?" – jane austen

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gratitude

Permission to dream – first thing in the morning

Destin sunrise

Since I was a young child, I have always loved mornings. Cup of coffee, chilly air, birds chirping, indirect light – I love it all.

Two different times, I’ve been able to live above coffee shops. I would awake to the sound of people laughing or having conversations, which would cause me to jump out of bed and run downstairs, realizing that life was potentially happening without me. This is likely because I’m a huge extrovert, and just the thought of missing a moment with friends is enough to put me over the edge.

But over the past few months, I’ve had to change my strategy. I work from home, in a HOME, so that jolt of joy in the morning has to happen internally. That hasn’t always been easy.

So for the past few months, I’ve been more focused on not only waking up early, but to be intentional about what I do with that time. That means no TV. No looking at messages on my phone. That especially means no Facebook.

First – I’ve forced myself to breathe.

Now, I do 5 minutes of sun salutations (which translates to short series of yoga moves, to the uninitiated) every morning. This requires me to breathe deeply. To concentrate on nothing for a few minutes. It’s joyful. It’s centering. And wow, has it helped me at the gym. Even though life has kept me from working out as much as I would like, my lung capacity and my flexibility is better than it has been in decades.

Second – I write something. With a pen. On paper.

I write anything. Notes. A paragraph. Thoughts. A letter. While often this is just a 3-minute brain dump, it helps me get my creative brain in motion and helps me get a jumpstart on work writing. There was an immediate result, as writing for work has become something I actually enjoy. It’s given me a focus that has made my work more efficient. This has kept my clients are happy, and when they are happy then I am happy.

Third – I read something. That is printed. On paper. No screens.

And the result?

In just 4 months of 2016, I have read more books than I did all last year. Fiction, business books, memoirs, history books – all have an equal platform now. But the funny thing about reading – it’s addictive. I’m finding myself more drawn to reading at night, and likely it’s because my brain needs to wind down. My eyes need it after looking at a computer screen all day. By bookending my day (pun intended), I’m not only learning, but I feel like I’m resting better.

This little 4-month discipline has succeeded in another way – it’s given me permission to dream. Now, I am focused on becoming even more focused.

I plan to add into this morning ritual actual writing. Either for a certain amount of time each day or a certain number of words. That’s what I want to do in my life, so why wouldn’t I set aside time for that? I’m also prioritizing working out. I put meetings and events on my calendar, why wouldn’t I schedule my health?

So what do you want to do with your life? Where do you want to be?

I’m realizing, at least for me, I need to focus on my goals first thing in the morning. I need to set my mind on the stuff that matters for the marathon that will transport my life and my work to a better place.

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Avoiding the storm…

It is Monday – a crazy busy Mofishing-sea-boat-large.jpgnday. I get a few of these days per year where all of the forces that be converge, and you just know deep in your soul that it’s just going to be a brutal day.

Brutal. Things are a mix of good and challenging. I have deadlines. Parents have appointments. Friends are staying here. Our dog is injured. Projects are starting. Projects are ending. Celebrations and thank yous need to be a priority and fit in. Life is, well, life.

Last night, I was trying to finish devotional, and I ran across the story of Jesus sleeping in the boat and the storm arises (Mark 4).

You likely know the story – Jesus had just recently begun his ministry, the disciples were new to this whole concept. Jesus had a few brutal days. He’d been called out by the church leaders and his family, parables were flowing, crowds were gathering. Jesus suggests they get in the boat and go to the other side of the lake to get away from the people. Jesus sleeps on a cushion. Storms come. Disciples panic. Jesus calms the wind. Disciples say “Who is this guy.”

I have read this passage over and over over the years, but two things really struck out in this one particular reading:

First – The disciples’ boat wasn’t the only boat in the water.

And second – Jesus calmed the storm after they mentioned it to him. Mark 4:39 – and he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be Still!” and the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

I think I need to take these 2 things in consideration.

In my life, my boat isn’t the only one that faces storms. While the passage doesn’t say anything about the condition of the other boats, I can just imagine that they were all struggling against the storm as well. They didn’t have Jesus physically in their boat – but when Jesus calmed the storm for one, he calmed the storm for many. I need to remember that when I call on Jesus, when I live my life understanding that He is the source of peace, it affects those around me. My faith is not my own. It can’t be. By design, it has to resonate to those around me.

Second, Jesus calmed the storm when they asked him. Not even like the widow who nagged the judge so much that he gave her what she wanted. They woke up Jesus, asked for help and he calmed the storm. In my life, why don’t I just call on Jesus when I see the storm approaching? Why do I wait for the storm to be in a full scary, dark assault before I admit that it’s out of my control?   My first inclination was to ask why didn’t they just wake up Jesus to begin with…but then I realize just how often I get underwater before I ask for guidance, and often I never ever mention it to those in the boats around me.

It’s time. Before the sun rises, before the phone rings; before the emails start, the distractions arise and  noise and clutter start to cloud my focus and let Jesus know about my concern for the day. #Give it to him. Ask him to weather the storm with me and bring peace to not only my day – but to the day of those around me.

 

The Echo Factor –

Wow-last week work felt like work and I walked into the weekend just feeling…tired, lost and wondering if, perhaps, self-employment was a huge mistake and I needed just walk over to Starbucks and apply to spend my life in a green apron.

Ever felt that way?

If you’re like me, sometimes you need a little boost – you need to remember just why you were created. You feel drained by the routine and wonder if your voice doesn’t matter.  Well…

I just picked up this new book called The Echo Factor: Living A Life that Resonates Freedom by Kinda Wilson, and you need to read it.

Why? Well, it is a little hard to explain.

Is iecho factort a business book? – yes. A psych book? – yes. Motivational book? Inspirational book? Interactive book? – yes, yes, yes. The book is incredibly creative, merging fascinating tales from science and history with the writer’s personal stories.  Kinda is incredibly transparent about her fears and her hesitations.  She is able to give bold challenges simply because she has needed to hear these reminders herself.

echo factor 2Design-wise it deserves a lot of props as well. Please don’t do an audiobook on this one, because the print version is loaded with inserts, bookmarks, postcards, and even the author’s grandma’s pie recipe! (warning, one of the puzzles is making me a little crazy.)

echo factor 3The book boils down to this: Your life matters. Your voice matters. You resonate. Science can prove it.

If you’ve been feeling the push to speak up, to start that business, to begin writing, to speak at that event, it’s time to act. You have the power to change your environment. You have the freedom to make an impact. You have the ability to breathe life to those around you….

Just do yourself a favor…pick up 2 copies of the Echo Factor. Read 1 then follow the instructions at the end and give that one to a friend. Then keep the other for yourself, cause the content of the book and the creative packaging are worth adding to any book collection.

Found this little ditty by Kinda about being weird…this can be your pep talk for the day!

You can buy The Echo Factor here:http://www.kindawilson.com/echofactor/

Taking Advice from a Kardashian

“You become what you think about” – Earl Nightingale

I’ve been holding to my resolutions this year…and I’m GIVING myself ammunition for work, for productivity, for success….for change.

Eating better – check.  Working out (except this last week) – check.  Reading – check. Turning off the TV – check.  Facebook is disabled from my phone – check.  Box of thank you notes sitting on my desk ready to be addressed – check.

And I started reading a book by…

A Kardashian (GASP!)

I know. I’m not even sure where the book came from. But it was on the shelf, and during a GoodWill pick-up purge a couple of weeks ago, I found it and started reading it.

Dang. Ron Kardashian nails it.

ron kardashian

His book is 30 Second Solution. It’s about taking a beat before making a decision, before speaking, before committing. It’s about making 30 second positive statements.  It’s about changing your focus.

And ultimately it’s about action.

When I started the book, I had to get over a bit of the, well, Kardashianisms: I’m a succcess, I’m great, I’m in great shape, I’m quoting myself…but maybe that’s part of the point. We want change? We want to be healthy (mentally, physically, emotionally, financially)? First we have to believe that we can be. Once our brain believes it, we can become it.

In a nutshell, 30 Second Solution is about 3 things:

  • Think Positively
  • Speak Precisely
  • Act Purposefully

Small changes can lead to big results. The Unhealthy Anonymous program that I’m also doing proves that with our health. The same is with our mind. 30 Seconds of “I can do this” can transform our workout.  30 Seconds of “I’m good enough” can transform a job interview.  30 Seconds of “I am beautiful” can change our relationships.  And positive is addictive…and it spreads to those around us.

I want to have the integrity to speak with precision so I am true to my word. Sometimes I need to take 30 Seconds before I speak to make sure that is a reasonable offer.

I want to make sure I am a person of action, who doesn’t talk about what I am supposed to do – I just start doing what I’m supposed to do.

I want to be a person of happiness, who brings a positive spin into the world. I’m better about this when I’m out in public. At home, it’s not always the case.

I want to honor God, my family, my business, my community with my words, thoughts and actions.  I may need to set a little timer to go off a few times each day to make sure that I’m in check with those statements.

So – what can you do in 30 Seconds to change your life? Here’s a few ideas to get you started:  Say a prayer, say thank you, take a deep breath, read a food label, send a positive text message, write down a goal, plan ahead for a healthy dinner, tell someone you love them…

If you want to check out a copy of 30 Second Solution: Transform your body, business, relationships and life in just seconds at a time,  you can find it at Barnes and Noble (used for a really low price!) here.

 

 

 

 

 

Day 6 – #Give Encouragement

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I am sort of digging this #Give word.  Funny how God puts things on your heart and then you slowly realize why.

Today, I strive to #Give encouragement.  To people I know and those I don’t. By writing a quick note to a friend. By cheering on someone at the gym.  By acknowledging someone’s accomplishments.

Looking at my to-do and to-call list, this may not be as easy as I think…but I have all day to pull it off.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing…” 1 Thess. 5:11

What will you give to today?

2016 Day 4 – #givespace – New Morning Routine

It’s the first Monday of 2016…and it started quite a bit differently than every Monday of the year that just past.  The alarm went off at 5:30 – the spirit was willing but the flesh was weak, so for 20 minutes I read on my phone in bed.  No Facebook. No CNN.  I read my Bible app.  I read another book.  My body was tired from working out yesterday so staying in bed was a welcome relief.

Why is it so cold in our house?

Apparently, we never reset our house timer, so our HVAC system was under the impression that we were still on holiday hours.  I reset the heat and resisted the urge to jump back in bed,  and grabbed Chris’s sweatshirt instead.

Next up, run into the kitchen to make some liquid warmth and energy. While brewing, I had a glass of water with lemon (thank you Unhealthy Anonymous).  I wrote up a quick journal.   Coffee was ready in no time…and was served with cream and coconut oil.

morning lemons

Louis had gotten up so together we did a set of prayers/sun salutations. I tried to write a thank you note but Louis was persistent in his severe need to be scratched..  No TV news until 6:45. No email until 7:15.

I’m GIVING myself space to start the day on my terms.  Giving myself fuel. Giving my brain time to think about things more important than work.

When I woke up today I was dreading the return to reality.  But now the new week feels different. I think there may be something to this morning routine / productivity thing.

 

Give #oneword

xmas cookies pic

Ok ok ok – so several friends have talked about how important the idea of having a word or phrase to focus on each year has changed their life. How they need to have that direction. For a few years, I thought that was a great idea…but wow – that’s a huge commitment. I would sweat over what that word would be, make a lackluster statement and then completely forget about it by MLK Day.

But this year, a few days before the launch of 2016, I really started to feel a word on my mind. And I think this year needs a word. I think I have too much on my plate and this word can help with a grand-scale focus.

The word for 2016 for me is:

Give.

Give away stuff.

Give up what I can’t control.

Give myself a break.

Give to needy causes and people.

Give thanks.

Give it to God.

Give God the glory.

I could go on and on…but to start this focus, I gave away bags of cookies to some hungry college students and I’m starting to thin out some closets. Why let stuff drag me down and take up my time when I can GIVE the things that I could end up paying to put into storage to people who need it.

Do you have a word? What will you #GIVE to 2016?

 

 

 

Wisdom from Taylor Swift and Real Simple.  Ladies – let’s inspire each other in 2016!

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Christmas morning

unto us pic

It’s a morning like any other. The silent night was broken by incredible shouts of thunderstorms. The darkness created an incredible backdrop of a lightning light show, which created a sleepless concern for our pups, despite their exhaustion from a long w-a-l-k to the p-a-r-k yesterday. I try to get more sleep after the calm settles back in, but have too much on my mind. Too many lists. Much to do.

It’s 7:30 but the light is just breaking through thanks to the rain. The little white lights placed around the house are a relief to guide the way.

It’s time to put on some coffee: Kenyan single origin. It’s time to put on some music: Vince Guaraldi Trio playing “Charlie Brown Christmas.” Louis wakes with me and gives large puppy stretches walking into the kitchen. There are notifications on my phone. I don’t want to see the news. It’s still a demanding rain outside so I check our house for the spots with the typical leaks. So far so good, but my ears are on alert for drips that sound out of place.

It’s a morning just like every other.

But it’s a morning unlike any other.

It’s Christmas morning. Today, a promise was fulfilled. Today, we were given a future. We were given freedom.  After the darkness but now the dawn has come. We have seen a great light.

“For unto us a child is born. Unto us a son a given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6)

But I wonder. Does everyone see the great light? Do some choose to pull the covers back over their eyes and stay in the darkness? Either way, a child is born unto us. A light is given.

Unto Us: You. Me. Them. Saint and sinner alike. Unto us: The mother in the grocery store with the screaming child. The family celebrating a child being born. The people standing at the gravesite. The athlete and the artist, the blue collar and the white collar. Unto us: The party at the house that is full of laughter as well as the woman who is alone with her grief and memories, wishing she had one more moment with her child. Unto Us: The refugee and the military guard. The priest giving communion at the candlelight service and the soul in the back who thinks he’s not worthy. Unto us a son is given. A son who loves, who provides, who protects. But more than that. This son brings wisdom. Brings hope. Brings peace.

In case you needed to hear it, fear not. Light has dawned for you. A son was given for you. You.

“Do not be afraid, for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today, in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)

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