How are you doing?

We are about to complete the first month of 2017. That’s right, we’re almost 1/12 through the new year already! It’s a great time to measure our initial progress. I set a few large goals for this year. Did you? How are you doing on them? Are you winning at some and have room to improve others? Well beating yourself up won’t do any good. Do y need to adjust some actual goals or do you need to alter your approach? I challenge to you ask yourself: Which goals have you achieved? Tell somebody of your accomplishments! Pat yourself on the back. Which goals are still in process? Are you making progress on them? Which goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps your goals weren’t SMART enough. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Is it possible you’re not focusing on the right areas for now? (Click on Rate Your Life to see if you’re putting energy into the parts of your life that need the most attention now.) Success is not just about accomplishing all your goals, but also seeing where you need to adjust, setting new goals, or tweaking your approach.  Don’t beat yourself up for your failures. Rather focus on your accomplishments and make adjustments to continue moving forward. It’s not too late. After all, you still have 11/12 of the year...

Toothpaste

I like to think I’m a fairly responsible person. I’m a firstborn, and we are the responsible folks of the world. (OK, so much for the stereotype.) When I see something that needs to be done, I do it. Or I procrastinate! Do you identify? I recently did a deep clean of my bathroom and found not one, but FOUR tubes of toothpaste with a little product left in each one. I think I’ve maybe had two before, but FOUR! When I’m getting ready to go somewhere or to bed at night, I just want to brush my teeth. I don’t want to mess with little bits of toothpaste (that I perceive to take too much of my energy.) There is little counter space in my bathroom, so getting that last little bit out adds a few annoying seconds to my busy lifestyle. This all sounds rather terrible; surely there are bigger fish in life to fry! And certainly, there are MUCH bigger problems in the world to solve! But we all have little things in our lives that bug us until we take care of them. Maybe it’s the flowers that need to be deadheaded so they can bloom again, or that phone call you’ve been meaning to make, or that closet that desperately needs cleaning out. Research shows that simply writing something down—getting it out of your head—can reduce mental and emotional fatigue. Not only do TO-DO lists help you prioritize and plan, but they also help reduce what you are burdened to carry around in your head. Many self-development gurus, like Seth Godin and Rob Bell talk about the importance of saying “yes” to the things we really want and then committing to STEP 1. Saying yes means you commit to...

Mid-year Checkup

As we begin the second half of the year, it’s a good time to do a quick self-assessment. Perhaps you wrote down some desires or goals, or wrote thought thoughts and aspirations in a journal. I actually poked around my computer notes and realized it was exactly four years ago now that I started life coach training. Part of this included being coached myself. Kicking off the process was writing down some desires and expectations I was to work on, with 4 guiding questions: What are the one or two things that are on God’s agenda for my life right now? If I could change one thing in my life right now what would it be? What are the obstacles that are holding me back from reaching my potential in this season of life? When I think ahead to 3 years from now, how do I want my life to be different? I can’t tell you how encouraged I was to go back and see that I have either realized what  I expressed or have made significant progress on each item. The things that seemed quite fuzzy four years ago are no longer fuzzy, and I have made significant life changes to live a healthier life. How are you doing on the goals you set for yourself this year? If you’ve made progress on any, congratulate yourself and tell someone! If you still have work to do, remember that you still have half of the year left! Renew your commitment. Which goals are still in process? Are you making progress on them? Which goals need to be adjusted? Perhaps your goals weren’t SMART enough. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) Success is not just about accomplishing all your goals, but also seeing where you need to adjust,...

Lessons From A Pup

I got a puppy. I’ve had dogs before, but they were older rescue dogs, so this is my first adventure into being a puppy mom. Izzy, as she was to be called a few days after we met, was only 6-weeks old and 4.2 pounds (1.9 kilos). In only ten days, she has gained 1.8 pounds and learned so much! I also try to learn from life’s experiences, so learning from the new pup is no exception. Everything is new. Like human babies, puppies come into the world knowing not much. Therefore, everything is a learning opportunity! Izzy has been challenging me to look at life through new eyes. What do I notice that I’ve been blind to before or haven’t “seen” in awhile? How can I see things from a new perspective? What might I do in order to see with fresh eyes? What can I learn today? Life is an adventure. It’s amazing how much entertainment, exercise and learning can come out of the smallest thing like a toilet roll! A simple piece of round cardboard functions as a teething ring, exercise equipment, toy and something to be conquered! What new adventure might I try? Doing the same things put you in a rut. Literally, doing the same thing over and over creates ruts in the brain. Puppies lick up love (literally). They are not afraid of affection, praise or compliments. In fact, they thrive on them. Anyone who has successfully trained a puppy or raised a child knows that love and affirmation are key in teaching discipline. Nothing says, “Don’t pee in the house,” like a reward of affection outside in the grass. Are people loving and affirming me in ways I’m ignoring? What keeps me from accepting compliments? Puppies give...

Crap

Crap has really been on my mind this week. First of all, toilet water backed up into my bathtub. When I saw the brown water, I knew I had a problem and I suspected it was time to get my sewer line cleaned out. Because I have an old house with underground clay tiles for disposing of wastewater, tree roots grow into the pipe looking for moisture. Then every year or two, the roots become too much and I have to have the pipes rooted (cleaned) out. But this time was different. This time the rooter technician found a blockage and recommended I get a camera inspection. So the next day, a tiny camera on the end of a cable descended into the pipe and revealed the problems. Tiles had caved in and created blockages requiring a whole new sewer line. The problems became more evident when excavation began. Crews dug down to the pipes, even descending some 8 feet (more than 2 meters) below street level. They found that some pipes were not where they thought they were. They could only devise an appropriate solution after they dug down and uncovered the mess. Like buried pipes, we have a lot of stuff deep in our personalities that is not evident until we dig down. And when we do, we often find things are not as we thought they were. On the surface, we feel the results of buried problems, but don’t have the full perspective of the location or causes. It’s only when we dig do we get an accurate perspective. When my toilet backed up, all I knew is that I had a problem. I could see the murky water. I could smell that all was not well. I could have ignored...

All That Jazz

April is jazz appreciation month, which the Smithsonian (a U.S. National Museum) calls both a historic and living American art form. Since jazz is the most free and flexible of all musical genres, this seems like a good time to examine those characteristics in our lives. Acclaimed trumpet musician, Herbie Hancock said, “The spirit of jazz is the spirit of openness.” I think that’s what many people find so fascinating about the musical form. It is by nature, open. It’s open to ideas, changes, improvisation, expression, collaboration, and creativity. I find it interesting that in playing jazz, a musician can be both part of something, yet unique at the same time. There is the whole, but there is the distinctiveness of individuals. But some people don’t like freethinking, creative expression, or new ideas. No wonder jazz was outlawed in various times and places like Nazi Germany. The Soviets didn’t outlaw it, but they openly criticized it. Even in the U.S., at least 60 communities banned jazz from being played in public dance halls in the 1920s. One has to ask what people were afraid of! Which begs the question, what you YOU afraid of? Like much great art, jazz came out of tremendous suffering. It is the product of slavery, oppression, and struggle. Sounds like the great themes of life, doesn’t it? Sometimes we are tempted to let the hard knocks of life close us down and make us hard. But if we let tough times change us, we can actually become more open, honest and trusting, and graduate to a new level of personal maturity. If musicians had been satisfied to maintain the status quo, we would never have experienced jazz. Rather, many transformed their pain and struggle into life, beauty, and openness; they continue...

Know Thyself

How well do you know yourself? We tend to have a view of ourselves we think is accurate and complete. However, it’s just not true.

How do you start your day?...

“You’ll never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”  So said author, pastor and leadership guru, John C. Maxwell. We all have a morning routine. Of course it includes things like brushing your teeth, getting dressed and enjoying your favorite beverage. For some it also includes getting the kids ready, making lunches and ensuring everyone has what they need for the day. No matter who you are or what roles you rill, you need time to quiet your soul. And how you start your day can determine not only how your day goes, but how your life goes too. I used to get up and turn on the television to hear the morning news. But what I found over time that it was a terrible way to start my day. The chatter and stress of world events set me up to carry noise in my head throughout the day. What I discovered was key to changing my behavior. I realized that how I start my day influences the rest of the day…and my life. We all have to find our own path—our own routine and practices that work for us. I want to share what has worked well for me. Reflect. Read. Resolve. Reflect – A mark of our fast-paced “always on” lives is that we forget to take time to be silent and reflect. My morning routine involves making a lovely espresso drink and sitting in my favorite chair. I reflect on recent events, issues I’m dealing with, and the status of my relationships and goals. It means being silent and giving myself space to just be, think, process and feel. I give myself permission to just reflect. Read...

Escaping Pleasantville...

“Unless there is some pressure, social or parental, pushing [an] infant the beyond pleasure principle, human nature tends to largely take the path of least resistance. We really do need prods, goads, ideals to help us think outside of the little boxes we all create for ourselves.” So said Franciscan and spiritual leader, Richard Rohr. We only know what we know. Unfortunately, we don’t know what we don’t know. If someone grows up in a house where daddy beats mommy everyday, the kids just thinks is normal. We naturally think that what we experience is what is real; it just is, and until we are exposed to an alternative, we think it’s normal. So unless we are exposed to different ways of thinking and living, we are destined to repeat the realities we previously experienced. Too often we prefer to live in the certainty (but very small town) of Pleasantville than face the uncertainty of a really big world full of wonderfulness. Pleasantville is a film released in 1998 about two modern-day kids who escape into the idealist 1950’s, black and white town of Pleasantville. If you haven’t read my post about the film, please click here. Unfortunately, we are often destined to do the same things over and over, expecting a different outcome, or maybe even happy with the same ole same ole. We get stuck, really stuck. A car stuck in the mud is useless. Muscles that are unused atrophy; they become dead weight. And a world that never changes succumbs to chaos and death. Do you really want a piece of you to die everyday? Do you want to grow increasingly irrelevant? Do you want to be the person you are today to be the you in ten years? Change can...

Pleasantville

It seemed everything was perfect. Kids were happy, fathers got a fully cooked dinner after a long day at work, the streets were clean, and there was no crime anywhere to be found. It was the idealized American 1950s. It’s all the residents of the small town knew. But life turned messy when two teenagers from the next century invaded their perfect space. You see, the place was a fictionalized town inside a fictionalized movie called Pleasantville released 1998. The film starred Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon, William H. Macy, Jeff Daniels and Don Knotts. The film began in the 1990s. Tobey’s character David longed for the simplicity of the 1950s. The victim of his parents’ failed marriage, a stressed-out mother, and an absent father, David escaped his painful reality by watching old re-runs of a 1950s TV show, Pleasantville. And Reece’s character, Jennifer, was obsessed with being popular at school and sleeping with every high school boy she could seduce. Her value was based on being liked by others. One day, while fighting over the television remote, David and Jennifer were magically transported into the 1950s world of Pleasantville, only to find the town residents living in black-and-white, just like the TV show. What they found were isolated, ignorant and shallow residents. While everything seemed wonderful on the surface, the reality was that the townsfolk knew of nothing outside their tiny world, and were ignorant to the beauty of art, the mind-expanding knowledge of books and the intimacy of deep relationships. David and Jennifer could not help being who they were (their selves from the 1990s). As they interacted with Pleasantville’s residents, things began to change. As folks experienced beauty, choice, knowledge and passion, they began to change from 2-dimensional characters in black and white, to...

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