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important nothings blog

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

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life

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!

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…

lent_desktop

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…

Lent_graphic.jpg

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.

Snow day. Fat Tuesday. Paczki. Mmmm.

paczkiLast night at 1:30, my weather alarm went off warning  of a winter storm watch through Wednesday morning.

Seriously. Why do storm alerts only happen in the middle of the night?

Anyway – that’s when I also saw the alert on my phone that our county’s schools were closed.  We don’t have kids, so I went back to bed. Nothing really changes in my life.

But this morning, I woke to snow. More than a dusting, less than what we northerns would consider impressive. You can still see the grass, and the little yellow flowers that bloomed a bit to early look shocked under the weight of the white.

But outside it is so still. So beautiful. So calm.  So clean. So quiet.

It’s like time stops in Tennessee after a snowfall.

And I’m not complaining at all.

It’s also Fat Tuesday so start cleaning out your kitchens kids. Make some shove pancakes. Play some games.  And, of course, PACZKI for everyone!!

 

 

When Security is Needed…

Just down our street, there is a sign on an unassuming brick building:

“Love for all, Hatred for none”

It’s pretty rare that I see people there.  Occasionally there will be cars parked in the small lot on a Friday night or Saturday during the day.  On even rarer occasions they have cars parked in their overflow lot across the street. Kids play outside and their laughter is contagious. Daffodils bring color to the building in the spring, and someone is hired to mow the lawn, but that isn’t much of an ask, as the rest of their non-daffodil landscaping is minimal.

From what I can tell, it’s the only mosque in our town. They are nearly impossible to track down – no website, no social media, no fliers around town welcoming people with promises of friendship, child care and donuts.

They are directly across the church from a medium size, mainstream church. This building, which is nearly exactly the same color of dark orange brick, has a parking lot is flooded with cars daily. No matter the day or the weather, something always seems to be going on there.  i

This small Islamic group, however is much more reserved.

I don’t think much about them most days. We get their mail occasionally, and when I walk there to give them the letters, they are very kind and soft spoken. As I’m not super up on the culture, I always try to be respectful and just approach the women, who are GORGEOUS with their flowing clothes and dark hair.

But there has been a change the past few weeks.

Now, anytime they meet, anytime there is a car in the driveway, a security guard is positioned outside.  This weekend they had some sort of event, and there were 2 security guards keeping guard the entire weekend.  On the sidewalk where I sometimes walk the dogs, there was a folding chair, a coffee mug and can of Mountain Dew placed under the seat.  Sometimes a guard rested his legs by watching the world from the chair, but mostly I think they walked back and forth, watching our sleepy neighborhood.

And despite 60 degree weather, I sadly didn’t hear the sound of kids playing during any part of the weekend.

It breaks my heart that they feel the need to have security. There are churches all around our area, and people happily come in and out, feeling safe in their own space. I hope that, perhaps, our churches may see this disparity and step in to help lower their fears. That we can literally love our neighbors as ourselves.

I hope and pray this was just them being overly cautious and not due to feeling threatened by come part of the community.

Love for All. Hatred for None. Shouldn’t that be the vision for all of us?

 

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