Archive for Personal

Shine Brightly For You And Others

Starting anything new is a process. We may consciously plan it out or just start trying it out. Some of us dive right in while others dabble near the shore. However we do it, a new loop of thought, action and habit is being created.

A good friend of mine, Angie Lee, started a project on her blog called Shine Brightly. This was not an easy project to start. It is just as hard, if not harder, to keep up. I think part of the reason is because it involves other people catching a vision and running with it. I believe in Angie, she initiated a valuable action and sowed seeds encouraging greatness.

I’ve always carried a passion and purpose to share hope and healing to the world. I had many ideas, I had desire, dream & drive. But I had a lot going on. Honing in on something to take action on, consistently, was not easy. (I take action on all kinds of things, but keeping up the actions that produce good fruit… now that’s key.)

That’s why I’m glad Angie created the Shine Brightly Monthly Planner. If you’ve been wanting to start a project, eat better or exercise more but you’re having a hard time mustering up the motivation, this tool will help break down what you want to accomplish. And it’s very doable. Download the Monthly Planner PDF from her post here.

There’s also a cool way to assess how you did the previous month. You can find that as a Shine Brightly Project Reflection PDF from her post here.

I want to take a moment and share my own Shine Brightly Project Reflection for the month of August 2017, as well as my Monthly Planner for September 2017. You’ll see them below. Thank you Angie for creating this handy tool to help others see their goals better!

August 2017

September 2017

Screen Shot 2017-09-07 at 9.46.20 PM

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When You Free Write

Have you ever “free written”? It’s very therapeutic.

Free Writing lets you freely express what you’re thinking and how you’re feeling.

See The Bottom Bar created for the Lighter Every Day Journal

Using this tool, I’ve saved myself extra trips to a therapist. This isn’t to say it’s a replacement to seeing a professional, nor is it the solution for every problem in your life. By all means, some issues are too complicated to untangle alone in front of a piece of paper or computer screen.

But free writing is a great starting point for figuring out what’s going on inside of you. It can be a helpful supplement to other forms of therapy. It’s also a superb way to ensure that changes stick after therapy sessions end.

In this post I’m going to simplify free writing so you can whip out this tool anytime you feel you need to talk to somebody and nobody’s available.

Should you choose to take up this very cool way to “get things off your chest”, here’s what you can expect:

  • A short & simplified definition of free writing
  • A break down of what you can do to free write
  • A prompt for what you can free write about

What is free writing?

Free writing is a way to write whatever. That means, write whatever comes to mind. Grammar, spelling or sentence structure can pretty much fly out the window. You want to express your thoughts and reactions to situations that happen in your life in a continuous flow. In psychological and entrepreneurial circles, you’ll hear free writing referred to as stream of consciousness writing or brain dumping. The idea is to keep the pen writing or the fingertips typing, even if you don’t know what to say.

This starts to unlock the real thought behind your thoughts and feelings. What this does for you is it diminishes any blockage inside that causes you to feel disconnected in life. Often, these “blocks” are so deeply embedded inside your mind that it will not be obvious what you’re going to find. But it will increase the feeling of connection within you, leading to more joy and happiness.

Free writing increases the feeling of connection within you. Click To Tweet

What you can do to free write:

  1. Get out a piece of paper or pull up a new Word or Pages document on your computer.
  2. Pick a topic to write on: an enjoyable event or something someone said (or did) that bothered you.
  3. Set your timer for 5-10 minutes. Write freely what you think (or how you feel) about the topic you picked in #2. Let the words flow from your pen or fingertips. Keep going.

Here’s a prompt for you:

Write at the top of the page, “What am I good at? What do I need work on?”

When you’re finished writing, read through what you wrote. What stands out to you? How do you feel reading certain words or sentences back to yourself?

Touch Points To See How You Are Doing

Touch Points is a time to check in with yourself. See how you’re really doing.

See The Bottom Bar created for the Lighter Every Day Journal

Have you ever had somebody ask you, “What’s wrong?” and you couldn’t answer them? Maybe you felt like something was bothering you, but you didn’t quite know what it was yourself.

If so, you’re not the only one who has felt this way.

Many people can’t put a finger on exactly what it is that might be eating away at them. That’s because a lot of this stuff has happened over long periods of time – maybe decades – and continues to happen below the surface of what many people are aware of.

This “stuff” can be important feelings that have been bottled up, locked away, stuffed down. But bottled-up emotions don’t just disintegrate and disappear over time. They come back in different forms. And they get triggered by different situations and people.

Bottled-up emotions don’t just disintegrate and disappear over time. They come back. Click To Tweet

In this post, I’m going to share a tool that will help you gain emotional awareness. This will empower you to identify and eliminate factors in your life that create the emotional baggage that could be eating away at you on the inside. You’ll want to be aware of them, because what eats away on the inside can show up in the body in the form of health issues.

A Touch Point gives you a solid way to check in with yourself and see how you’re really doing.

It’s a tool from a section of my book, the Lighter Every Day Journal.

The goal of Touch Points is to guide you to see how things are going in your life under the surface. When you fill out the Touch Points for Emotional Awareness section, you are doing a diagnostic check-in with yourself.

Hard questions (that we likely avoid) get asked. Questions like, “What thoughts may be living in my mind that’s sapping away my enthusiasm?” You would identify these as Energy-Draining Thoughts.

Identifying an energy-draining thought accurately may not be easy right from the get-go. This is why we want to look at two other factors to give us more clues. One comes from the Food Cravings you’ve had throughout a given week. The other is about where you’ve felt Body Pains or aches.

We then work on eliminating the factors that are creating emotional baggage that you don’t need in your life.

Access your inner motivation to make the healthy changes you’ve been wanting with more ease and fun. Click To Tweet

Questions like, “What new thoughts can I place in there that’s true?” get asked. These are Renewing Thoughts, and they counteract the energy-draining thoughts. Chances are, when you’re feeling drained, yes it may have been you had a busy day… but what’s underneath the busy day? It’s thoughts that are not necessarily true. They’ve just had a lot of time to marinate in the mind… making them seem believable.

Finding the right Renewing Thoughts also takes practice. And so we supplement with Nourishing Foods you can eat to replenish your energy and Body Workouts to release tension or tightness from your body.

Do you have the book Lighter Every Day? Then use the Touch Points for Emotional Awareness section on a weekly basis. You’ll gain greater emotional awareness and feel lighter.

To get Lighter Every Day, go here.

Strength Rest To Recharge Yourself

Strength Rest is down-time for you.

See The Bottom Bar created for the Lighter Every Day Journal

As you get things done and grow in different abilities, what happens when obstacles come up along the way? Much like a bow and arrow in ready position to shoot its target, obstacles stretch us to get us on target. What we do with the tension created will mean the difference between an obstacle becoming a setback… or a stepping stone.

Having a lot of abilities doesn’t necessarily make us successful. Having stability in an ability does. Click To Tweet

Stability connects you to your inner strength. It enables you to stay calm in crises, so you can more accurately “shoot your arrow at the target.”

I can’t recommend it enough. Initially it may take some time to get used to the idea of “relaxing and treating yourself well.” If you feel you don’t deserve it, consider this. Treat yourself as well as you treat others, and you’ll feel as happy as you want others to feel when you’ve treated them well. The better you treat yourself, the more joy you have to give others.

So during your special time to Strength Rest, connect with your reservoir of strength. Relax after a period of work or tension. Let your body unwind. Rest. You’ll gain balance and perspective when you unwind from the work. And you’ll appreciate the stability that’s generated for the next cycle coming up.

Here are 3 things you can do to Strength Rest:

  1. Carve out 5-20 minutes for listening to your heart and body.
  2. Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. Notice any tension you may be holding in your body or heart.
  3. Pick one of the following to release the tension: Treat your feet to a rub. Laugh, play, have some fun. Take a walk in nature. Listen to music. Create art.

This is your chance to practice slowing down. Imagine being more productive in less time. When you’ve strength rested, you’ll gain clarity on what things tend to get in the way of your progress and when to let go of them. You’ll also gain the stability to engage in the next level or cycle with more confidence.

What will you do to Strength Rest today?

The Value Of Brokenness

Crying can be cathartic, helping to release pent-up feelings. Frustration, anxiety, anger… and many more emotions we have yet to feel and show in the coming months.

As a nation, we are being rocked aren’t we? Never before have we dealt with issues that are now suddenly thrust upon us.

As individuals, we each need to – and get to – pull the good out somehow, somewhere. We can reach out to others, reach deep inside ourselves and/or reach up to God.

What that looks like for you will be different than what it looks like for me and for others.

For me, sometimes I need to be with people, sometimes alone. Other times, I need to journal and pray. Today, I needed to cry.

I am at peace after a cathartic cry. As though grieving on behalf of myself and people that feel like we’ve lost something personal. Something dear to us. Something rocking us at the core, potentially breaking us.

It might be safety, freedom, dignity.

It might be security, belonging, love.

Whether on a national or personal level, any problem has its own complexity. There is no one-size-fits-all solution; neither do pat answers reach the soul. Feeling threatened or uncertain about the future may be a constant for a while. But we don’t have to give in to anxiety or fear. These are just temporary states of feeling whose power can be broken.

Light to Illuminate

Fire to Refine

In Brokenness

Does Gold Shine

Hope to Build Again

 

HOPE. One word. When we have some, even a little bit, we live. Without it, we as a people cannot survive no matter what nation we’re in.

As I drove my kids to school today, we felt palpable anxiety hanging in the air. Certainly understandable given the extreme uncertainty the presidential election of 2016 brings to the table. There’s so much we don’t understand.

We can mourn, we can cry. Ultimately, we need to heal. And then, we can rise. Just as we exercised our right to vote, now we are presented once again with the right to take ownership for what is ours. In an alarming, almost frenetic way, this election has reached into our soul and tinkered with our human need for safety and security.

Today I’m thankful for coaches, mentors & like-minded people in my life. Collectively, they remind me that we don’t need to be divided amongst one another because of our choices. The founding fathers believed in God. That foundation proved secure all these years.

We don’t need to put all our hopes in one human.

Now more than ever, what matters is what we build on top of that foundation. The most powerful asset any person can claim is their connection with the One that loves all and desires to see none perish. Division in faith is what the enemy of souls wants. America did not become great because of one person. Neither is a country run by one.

Maybe these thoughts seem simplistic for such a complicated time, but I feel because there’s so much we don’t understand, we cannot judge accurately. All the more we need to hang on to God who knows all and works everything out for the good of everyone involved.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” ~Romans 15:13

It’s time to rise and take responsibility for our roles as individuals and as families. If we need help, ask for it. If we can give help, offer it. We can, together, find hope to build something great again.

What do you want to build today? Leave a comment and let’s talk more.

Who Does Your Heart Beat For?

HeartAs I sit down with the love letter, I feel a longing in my heart. I finger the paper on which it is written, old and frayed at some of the edges.

A question rises from within me, from a place that contains only a shadow of what I could know intimately. A whisper of a longing so deep, it almost gets lost in the shuffle of the everyday. But every once in a while, it surfaces. And re-surfaces, when I listen.

Can you hear it too?

“Who does your heart beat for?”

I take a few deep breaths and ponder this question. It feels like an important one. One that would either lead me on every decision that I will make from this point forward in my life, or one that I can ignore and keep living for myself on my own terms.

I am tired of myself. Tired of living for me, of doing things from a limited, selfish perspective. Nothing in this life matters if I don’t have a purpose for it. It would be meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

In a few minutes, an answer floats into my mind. There is a special place in my heart. A place set apart for a special someone.

Lately, this place is growing bigger each day, but sometimes it shrinks. It seems to depend on how much thought I give to this someone. How much time, how much care, how much energy I put into cultivating this relationship.

This special man deserves a lot more than I give him.

Still, he gives me the kind of love I wish I had since I was a little girl longing to be swept off her feet. When I’ve ached with loneliness, he’s filled my heart until it burst with radiant sunbeams. When I’ve felt ugly, he’s made me beautiful.

He warms me. Shows me possibilities. Comforts me during heartbreak. When I’m with him, I feel surges of hope, rays of light. Happiness grows happier as joy dances with peace. I’m wrapped in the arms of his presence.

When someone asks me, “What kind of hope is this that you have?” I can look them gently in the eyes and answer softly, “When I did everything wrong, he made me right. When I was sure I was the ugliest girl he’s ever seen, he called me beautiful and wonderful. He loves me more than I can ever know, more than words can ever say.”

This love is lifting, expanding in the wind on the way out of this world, reaching the heart of heaven. My own heart nearly bursts knowing he thinks of me every single minute of every single day. Knowing he protects me under his wings as I navigate planet earth.

I love you back, my Lord, only after knowing how deep and wide you love me first. I mess up a lot and make more mistakes than I want to admit but Jesus, I am finally declaring your love to the world.

***

Inspired by 1 Peter 3:15. “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”

Ready to Breathe and Believe?

Flow

Klunk! Splash! Water flew everywhere happily as two excited kids jumped into the deep end of the pool.

I smiled as I slowly made my way over to the shallow end. I hadn’t swum for the whole summer, and many months before that. I didn’t mind taking my sweet time to get into the pool. After all, we were here to relax on a mild, sunny Saturday afternoon near the end of summer.

What I didn’t expect was the feeling that came over me as I entered the water. My feet felt it first. Cold. I glanced at my kids splashing about. They were obviously NOT cold.

Slowly, I walked down the steps until my legs were immersed. Eventually the water came up to my waist. I felt unusually cold. And resistant. Like something inside me wasn’t ready to put my head in the water.

Funny. It’s not like I didn’t know how to swim. I normally felt confident doing the freestyle stroke.

Even as I stood there pondering this, my body and my thoughts seemed to separate from each other. A piece of glass looked like it was covering the surface of the water, making it hard for me to enter.

Genuinely surprised by my own hesitation, I tried to will myself to go under. “I’m not scared to go.” Nope, didn’t budge. I tried to reason myself to go. “I’ve done this before, I can do it again.” Nothing.

I drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. And remembered.

I believe.

I believe I can let the water support me and carry me. I believe I don’t have to strain myself to do the perfect stroke, or even to be any good. I believe I can feel the water and feel myself relaxing atop. I believe I can glide gracefully across the length of the pool. I’m here with my kids, relaxing…having fun!

Living water flows from within me as I believe. And just like that, I take off. Quick as lightning, my fingertips break the surface and my legs kick with vigor as my head moves in rhythm to the rest of my body. Fluid movements. I feel like I am gliding effortlessly, as breathing comes more easily than ever before. I swim four lengths of the pool non-stop. Last time I swam, I topped out at two, maybe three.

“I wonder what that was about,” I thought to myself as I stopped to rest, feeling somewhat amused – and amazed – by this experience. It was quite a personal thing.

Deep down inside, I know this experience is an outward expression of an inward emotion I am carrying. It’s showing how I’m feeling inside about the next set of adventures awaiting my family and me. This year of 2014, I had set an intention towards intimacy with my family. Together, we are experiencing teamwork, fun, mystery and trips to fascinating places.

What about you? Have you ever felt similar to this?

What do you want to “breathe and believe” for yourself or your family?

New Years Goals and All That Jazz

Some people like to set goals. I think many more don’t – at least not in writing. That’s about 90 percent of us.

Do you like setting goals? Maybe it’s easier to look at it this way…

What are some things you’d enjoy this year?

  • Doing the ONE thing you always wanted to do but never got around to
  • Scratching items off your bucket list
  • Catching up with friends
  • Getting into a new relationship
  • Something else?

I spent some time over the holidays reflecting on the past year of 2013. What would I do differently this year?

photoAfter writing down some thoughts and doing some artsy stuff, the answer came in a word: intimacy.

I want to feel connected.

To achieve that, I get to nurture and grow meaningful love…

Especially with the people close to me.

Up until this year, setting goals was not one of my favorite things to do. I hardly ever did New Years resolutions. Same with goals – I didn’t set solid goals for myself.

But then I rarely got to do what I truly wanted to do. In fact, I barely knew what I wanted to do. I did things for other people, but was a fuzzy blur when it came to myself. So what I ended up doing was, I did what others expected of me.

And soon, I was always doing what I THOUGHT others expected of me. I lived and breathed other people’s expectations and lost myself in the process. I was a performance machine – surviving, but not truly happy.

If you don’t know what you want in life, take heart. You’re not alone. Try to sit down in a quiet place and ask yourself, “How do I want to feel in 2014?”

Let a few words pop into your head, or an image. Jot it down. Draw it out. Let it gently guide you into a New Years theme. No need to try to hammer out what goals you HAVE to have. Let it come to you.

If you boil it down, a goal is just a want with a date attached to it. Before you can even get to having a goal, you have to want it.

So, what do you want?

We’re more than halfway into the first month of the new year. Ever since I set an intention towards INTIMACY, I’m feeling more connection and love with the people closest to me – my husband and kids. Prior to this, intimacy was a dangling carrot that I didn’t know that I always wanted.

But when I opened myself up with a few trusted people, I let them see the real me and where I was in life. I found deep healing, the kind that heart and soul cries out for, that has no language. Almost magically (almost, because some effort still needs to go into it), what used to be boring daily tasks are turning into fun, exciting and happy times of connecting.

And it started with me allowing myself to feel something I was afraid to feel all my life – intimacy.

That’s the power of “all that jazz” surrounding setting goals. It’s more than trying to achieve something, and it starts with setting an intention towards something you want – or something you want to want, in your deepest heart of hearts.

What do you want to feel, or want to want this year of 2014? Feel free to leave a comment, I’d be tickled pink to hear from you.