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important nothings blog

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

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inspiration

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.

MondayMotivation

Have you ever just sat, looking at a blank page?  You have the paints and the canvas but no vision?  You got up early to write that song, start that new chapter, build that furniture, but then your mind just hits a blank?

I think every creative person knows that struggle.

jacklondon

Today’s Monday Motivation comes from Jack London, and I am realizing this my need to be my mantra for the day – “You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” – Jack London.

Here’s to a productive week!

Prioritizing … and some Snow Patrol

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It’s been too long since I’ve been to the gym. A conference. A work trip. A sore foot. Life. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse.

What I’ve realized is, when I don’t go to the gym, I have a tendency to be terribly crabby to my husband!  Since we’re together about 90% of the time, he’s the one who gets the joy of experiencing all of my stress, hormones, emotions… sometimes that’s good, but most days it’s not.

I’ve been spending a lot of time listening to podcasts and one thing keeps sticking in my brain – schedule the stuff that’s important.  That means, put going to the gym on the schedule. Don’t fit it in.

If it matters, you have to prioritize it, or the important stuff will get mixed in with those little irritating things that just have to get done. Lock in the time to have coffee with Chris. Don’t fit it in. Write down when I will spend time alone. Don’t fit it in. Schedule a time to write. Don’t fit it in. Drop by and see my parents. Don’t fit it in.

As an ENFP (for your Meyers-Briggs types) and a 7 (for you Enneagram types), this goes against everything I love, believe and stand for.  But it makes sense.  Richard Foster says “Discipline brings freedom” and there is so much truth there.

Join me!  Get the good stuff on your calendar.  Make room for what’s important. And if you need a little motivation at the gym today, how about some Snow Patrol!

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Ash Wednesday…

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Ash Wednesday.  It’s always an interesting day for me.  I didn’t grow up in a tradition that acknowledged Ash Wednesday, Lent, Fast days, Feast days…

…well, we did have a lot of potlucks so I guess feast days happened. They just looked a little different. They had a much different meaning.

Growing up, I remember a few people giving up things like chocolate, alcohol or eating pop tarts for breakfast.  I sort of assumed they were likely just seeking a good excuse to lose a few pounds instead of actually fasting from those things that may be taking up space in your life, or a way to turn your gaze more to the sacrifice of Christ.

Last night, I told Chris that I was trying to make a decision about Lent, and he suggested that I give up coffee. I sad no. An absolute no. No No No.

I think that may be because coffee is a part of my daily ritual. I read my Bible while the coffee is brewing. Prayer and stretching involves breathing in of that amazing, delicious aroma of coffee. It would be like abstaining from my alarm clock.

Giving up my alarm clock, on the other hand, may be a good option.

But I digress.

As I prepare to head to church during lunch-hour, I am still a bit torn. I have a new fun devotional (will share about that later), but it is remarkably minimalist.  I am not being pulled to one thing or another this year, and that is likely from feeling displaced from church.  Today I am going to go back to a church I tried out a few months ago. It felt cold before. Perhaps that is what you are supposed to feel when you kneel and receive ashes.

I’m thinking this is still the year of #Give. I need to give thanks, give credit, give stuff and give time.  Give thanks to God and to those around me.  Give credit to people who deserve it (but likely don’t realize it).  Give time to causes and give resources to those who need it.

How do you observe Lent? What does it mean to you?

(Graphic pulled from the http://abcdfinnestad.blogspot.com/2013/02/the-real-meaning-of-lent.html blog. He graciously gives permission for folks to use his graphics…and I’m grateful for that!)

Buechner on Lent…

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Frederick Buechner on Lent. 

“In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe the forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

“If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

“When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

“If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

“Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

“Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

“If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

“To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sack-cloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.”

– Originally published in Wishful Thinking.

I’m Stressed.

I’m stressed out.

Can you relate?

I’m stressed about a lot of things. Work. Time. Family. Finances. Health.

I’m even stressed about being stressed.

I’m glad I like both teams who are in the Super Bowl. That is one thing that isn’t stressing me out.

I’m tired of my shoulders hurting all the time.

I’ve done fairly well this New Year, with the inevitable “new year, new you” mindset. I’ve been focusing on being intentional, developing new and good habits each morning and being mindful of the whole One Word concept – my word being “Give” (and my favorite use of the word so far has been ‘#give myself a break!’)

So I started doing the Unhealthy Anonymous program (http://uha12.com/#hope ) a few weeks ago – it’s an inexpensive, targeted plan to help our bodies better adapt to stress. It’s about learning to breathe, thinking more about what we eat, being grateful….it’s about giving ourselves a break.

Science proves that stress is at the center of most of our health issues. The thought is, if we teach our bodies to handle stress better, we can save ourselves from future years of health issues.

It’s not expensive – ($14/month with the coupon code below) – it’s full of reasonable, small changes that can actually become a part of your routine. There’s a 21-day reboot….and guess what? The reboot doesn’t say that you can’t eat meat, carbs, or fruit…it doesn’t make you spend hours at the gym, it doesn’t say you can’t enjoy life.

The whole thing is just a lot of common sense. And I like common sense.

I won’t go into too much detail unless you want it. We are doing this with some friends – and you should join us so we can all support our new healthy mindsets together. We have a Facebook page, we’ll be posting on each other’s blogs…we can all start sharing the joys of using coconut oil for EVERYTHING….

Want to join? Want to try to de-stress for 2016? Want to take back your life? Remember, this one isn’t a sprint – it’s making long-term lifestyle changes that will make for a better future.

Sign up here! http://uha12.com/#hope – To get $1 off a month – put in promo code HOPE. (in all caps!)

It’s all in your head

pull up machine

It’s all in your head.

That’s what Jeremy said in passing. Jeremy is the trainer at our local Planet Fitness and he’s the best. He’s incredibly encouraging and helpful – all without that irritating super-work-out-guy-attitude. He’s one of those people that remembers names and details, which seems to be a rarity in my world.

A few weeks ago, as I was wasting time on Facebook, I ran across a conversation about the terribleness of high school gym class. Since I moved away from my hometown in the late 80s, I wasn’t aware that our gym teacher, Mrs. Peterson, had passed away a few years ago. The discussion ended up with how much we liked her … how much we remembered the dread of what we had to accomplish athletically.

Those Illinois health tests. Ugh. Run the mile. Do a pull up. Arm hang. Sit ups. Oh the agony.

Mrs. Peterson was great, but I, admittedly, didn’t have an athletic bone in my body. With me, she didn’t have much to work with, and so that “do your best!” mantra was something I heard A LOT.

Now, a few decades later, I think she would be proud of me. I am confident that I could ace that health test now…

Except…

Except for the arm hang. And definitely not the do a pull up. I have no idea how long I could hold an arm hang currently. I don’t really intend to find out.

But I decided it was time to have a solid goal for 2016. Do a pull up. Just one. That’s all.

I enlist the help of Jeremy who immediately introduced me to a very menacing, giant machine in the corner of the gym. This beast’s purpose is to be a counter-weight to help with that pull-up motion.

Whatever that means.

Being a gentleman, he skirted around asking how much I weigh – but he needed that all painful number to help me understand just what I’m working with.

I weigh 130. If he sets the machine at 100, basically it means that I’m doing a pull up with 30 lbs. If he sets the machine at 70, I’m pulling up 60 lbs. of my body weight.

Make sense?

Just from being more in the habit of working out, I can do 3 sets of pull-ups at 70 lbs. But during this test, Jeremy tried to trick me a bit to make me work harder. And I was able to do three at 40 lbs. That’s 90 lbs. of weight.

“It’s all in your head,” he said. “You convinced yourself years ago you couldn’t do this. You really need a tougher goal. You’ll have this in a few months if you keep at it.”

This as bothered me for a week now. What else is in my head? What else have I convinced myself that I couldn’t do?

Maybe I need to #give myself more credit.

So today I was going to get up at 5:30am to write. That didn’t happen. The spirit was willing… But maybe that will be the goal after I do the pull up.

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