Growing a Thriving Life

Ready for a secret?  Growth hurts.  Yep, I love growth but it sure can hurt sometimes.   It hurts to go from paying only a few thousand on taxes to many thousand because you’ve increased your income.  It hurts to go through a divorce, believing that you will find a more balanced man or woman on the other side.  It hurts to get yelled at or disciplined by God, knowing that your life needs change.

When growth hurts it’s because an area of your life is being “pruned”.  No, not the shriveled up, funny looking plum, but what it’s called when you cut or trim a tree or bush.  Something that has stuck with me for the past few months was a seminar by Dr. Henry Cloud based on his book Necessary Endings.  I’m not a big Dr. Cloud fan, but I’ve been through quite a few endings in my life and they always seem painful, even when I know that there are better things to come, and this seminar exceeded my expectations.

Something we’ve not been able to assimilate into our culture is that failure, pruning and endings are necessary and healthy!  In fact, you can’t expect to thrive if you don’t prune, fail or have endings!  I don’t know about you but I would love to live a thriving life.  In order to get to the place of thriving, you have to grow, and that takes pruning, and usually failures and endings.

What are your thoughts on this?  Do you see things in your life that could use a little pruning?  I’d love to hear your thoughts below.  Next Wednesday I’ll share some more thoughts on this, so stay tuned!

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A Life of Choice

Lately I’ve been thinking about and hearing a lot about choices.  Are you good at making choices and decisions?  Many people really struggle with them, they’re stuck on the truth that they may make the wrong decision.  I’ve made some decisions that weren’t the best ones, some that I wish I had decided differently. But I’ve accepted that I can’t do anything about what I already decided; I can only do something about the decisions I will make in the future.  What about you?   What will you decide today?  Here are a couple from me:

~to love more

~to communicate more clearly

~to be more forgiving

~to spend more time reading the Bible

~be more creative

~read more books from other spiritual perspectives

~make decisions I’m proud of

What about you?  What are you choosing to do or be today?  Joshua 24:15 reminds us “Choose today whom you will serve.”  I would love to hear what you’re choosing to serve, be, and do below, as well as your thoughts and reflections.

Finding Your Purpose this Summer

One thing most people would love to say they accomplished this summer is to say that they discovered their purpose!  Here are 4 things you can do this summer to help you discover your purpose.

Read books:
Check out some from John Maxwell (some of my favorites are Failing Forward, The Difference Maker, and Make Today Count), Tony Robbins (I just finished Awaken the Giant Within), more!  Books like these can help you to grow personally and you can open your mind to the place where it can put together all of the different things you’re good at and discover your purpose.  There are books out there too that have quizzes that can help you narrow things down too.

Take quiet walks:
Here you’ll be able to listen to your heart and think about what you enjoy without getting distracted.  If you can’t hear your heart and mind think together, and therefore aren’t open to spiritual inspiration, you’ll have a much harder time discovering your purpose.  Leave those ipods and mp3 players home, and just enjoy nature in all it’s glory.  But bring your cell phone so you can write down your brilliant discoveries!

Try new things:
One great way to know what you are and aren’t gifted at is trying new things.  Open your mind this summer to reading new books, trying new creative activities, eating new foods and spending time with new people.  As you try these new things listen to your body and check in to find out what it thinks about your new activity.  If you’re feeling peace or excitement, you could be on the right track!  But if you’re feeling drained, unsatisfied, scared, basically any negative emotions, you’re probably not headed in the right direction.  Don’t anticipate what way you will feel though, feel what you feel as it happens.

Follow your heart:
Ultimately, what it really comes down to is trial and error and following your heart.  I learned about my purpose by reading the Bible and being creative.  Those two things still “feed” me and help me keep the passion in my purpose.  I didn’t get it right the first time,  it’s still not perfect,  and it may never be.  I’m ok with that.  I’m a work in progress, and I know the path I’m to walk on.

What will you do this summer to bring you into the path of your purpose?  Share your thoughts below.

Deciding to Relax

Your first priority should be to relax this summer.  We’re all very busy people, but the best thing you can do personally and professionally is to take a break from your work.  Just for this summer I challenge you to adopt one or more of the ideas below.

Take time off: each and every week either leave work 1 day early, cut down on your weekend activities or go to bed early.

Be yourself: don’t try to please anyone, don’t lie to try to pacify someone, don’t be anyone but who you are.  Spend time with those you love, not those who piss you off.

Let go of a couple rules: everyone has rules that they live by.  This summer cut one or two of them free, let them go and see what life is like without them.   But be warned-big life changes could be ahead!

Try new things: this is one of the easiest things to do on this list.  You can try a new vegetable, go to a farmer’s market if you’ve never been, go somewhere different for vacation or actually support your partner.

Meet new people: are you shivering already?!  Go to that barbecue this summer that you’re dreading and make a point to talk with someone you don’t know.  You never know what amazing worlds your eyes will be opened to if you take the opportunity to meet someone new.

Rest: this is very hard for some people.  If you don’t take time each day to sit with a cup of tea or coffee and enjoy nature, go to bed each night for the right amount of sleep for your body, or do an unstressful activity each day, you’re missing out!

Nap: summer is the perfect opportunity to learn how amazing naps can be.  Your kids take them, why shouldn’t you?  You’re definitely missing out if you don’t take a nap each week.

Read: you can read a book on the beach, by the pool, in the backyard or in bed before you go to sleep.  With the arrival of the Kindle and other reading devices, it is easier than ever to read at least 12 books in a year (1 a month). Whether your preference is history, mystery, romance or non-fiction, reading is a great way to relax.

Walk: for all you exercise fans out there this may be difficult. Yep, I’m suggesting that you take a break from your vigorous workouts this summer and just walk.  Ok, powerwalking is fine, but take the opportunity to slow down and see more of the world.

What will you do this summer to relax?  Share your decision below.

Old and New

The past few weeks we’ve been talking about the changes summer will or could bring in our lives.  I’m excited to continue down the path of changes to wherever they will bring me, but I know that’s not the case for many or post people.  This week in my Bible devotional readings I read from Matthew 13, and stumbled upon this verse:

“Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.”

Let me give you a bit of background here.  Jesus is talking about what happens when Pharisees, Sadducees and other Biblical teachers of His day believe what He is teaching-which is an extension of what they were teaching.  The teachings they had (the Old Testament) weren’t bad or no longer important; actually, Jesus is the fulfillment of many of their teachings.  So what the other teachers had was a storeroom of old gems of truth, and Jesus brought new gems to the table.

Our lives are just like this.  We’ve got our pasts, things that have happened to us, around us, near us, or because of us that will always be part of us.  It’s impossible to separate yourself from what was.  But you’ve got the opportunity to transform it into what will be.

See, when you bring the old and the new from the storeroom of your life, you’ve got the opportunity of hindsight and blessing of hope.  When you bring your past with you into a new relationship with Jesus, you’ve got the ability to speak to someone who doesn’t know Jesus in a way that only someone who had been in a similar situation could.

Taking advantage of both new and old in your life means that you can’t be focused on living in the past.  Rather, you have to let the past be what it was, bring only the lessons and not the baggage, and move into the future.

What old gems do you have in your life?  Do you need to focus less on them?  How have you incorporated both old and new gems in your life?  Share your thoughts below.

Boosting Your Self-Esteem

Feeling a little beat up by life?  Take some time to renew your self-esteem!  Summer is the perfect excuse for taking this time since everyone goes on vacation.  You can take personal days or go on a personal retreat to take the time to attend to your self-esteem.  What are some things you should consider when you take that personal time?

Love yourself
You are amazing!  Has anyone told you that lately? No? Shame on them!  I know that you are an amazing person, with lots of gifts and talents.  But what I think really isn’t the important thing.  For you see, no matter how many times I tell you you’re amazing, your self-esteem may get a little boost, but it won’t really improve.  If you want your self-esteem to grow, you have to believe that you are indeed amazing.  You have to love yourself.

Each day spend time doing something that reinforces the belief that you do indeed love yourself.  Maybe it’s having a piece of fruit or a salad.  Maybe it’s taking a walk so you can relax.  Maybe it’s that glass of wine or cup of tea at the end of the day.  Maybe it’s meditating every morning when you get up.

Renew your passion
If you’re not passionate, life will get boring pretty quick, and your self-esteem will quickly disappear.  Self-esteem is fueled by passion for life, by hope for your future and by living life in a way that makes it all matter to you. Do you actually care what your future holds?  What difference you will make in someone’s life?   Do you know how amazing your life would be if you lived it with passion?

Do something each day that gives  you the opportunity to renew your passion for life.  Maybe it’s being creative.  Maybe it’s doing yoga.  Maybe it’s taking a walk.  Maybe it’s being with your partner, quiet and alone.  Whatever it is, take the time to do it!

You’ve got the opportunity to do something about your self-esteem.  It’s not something that is created by chance, you have to put work into it.  Take time this summer to do exactly that.  Share your questions and thoughts below.

Find Yourself This Summer

Summer has to be one of my favorite times of year!  I love the warm weather, but more importantly, I love how everyone focuses on taking some time off.  Although many people take the time off to be with their families, I want to encourage you to do something special for yourself this summer.

Walk: take walks as often as you can this summer, taking the time not to listen to your ipod, cd player, mp3 player, partner or kids.  Go by yourself, and just let your mind be free.  Yep, just take your walk (not run) all by yourself and let your mind connect with spirit, with earth, and with yourself.  It’s a great time to just relax and not be under the pressures or influences of anything else.  Bring your phone though!  I know that when I give my mind the opportunity to have down time like this, it gives me a list of things I forgot to do, or great ideas I can use in my writing or businesses.

Read: I love taking a book and sitting under a tree or in the sun and reading!  While I highly recommend taking time to read some books that help you expand your spiritual, personal or professional growth, I also recommend that you read some books purely for pleasure.  Whether you prefer romances, mysteries or historical fiction, reading books like those help your brain be creative!

Create: summer is full of inspiration!  You can visit the beach, a park, watch kids playing or capture inspiration from some of the amazing wild creatures who show up in summer.  Try working on new creative projects too.  Summer is the perfect time to be inventive, try new things and get your hands a little messy.  Don’t forget to keep a camera or sketch book with you, you never know when you’ll find the inspiration you’ve been looking for.

Meditate: whether you’ve ever meditated before, this is something that is not only beneficial mentally and emotionally, it’s also beneficial physically.  Before you decide that it’s not right for you, I encourage you to think about meditation in the broadest sense of the word: quiet reflection or contemplation.  I’m not asking you to sit down, cross your legs, close your eyes and sit there forever, but you should try it.  What I am suggesting is that you get outside, touch the grass, touch the trees, wander slowly around a park or pond and just be quiet.  Pause occasionally to sit or rest against a tree, taking in nature and life.

Don’t let this summer pass you by without taking time for you.  You’re really important and it’s so essential to care for yourself. What ways do you find that you connect best with yourself?  Share your thoughts and suggestions below.