I woke up unreasonably early this morning. Usually, I can roll over and fall back to sleep, but not this time. I felt led to go ahead and start typing this up at 4:00 am. If this is your first read, welcome to a season of encouragement! That’s right. I will be right here, encouraging you through the rest of this year! You are just in time for Day One. I am using suggestions from Og Mandino’s book, A Better Way to Live.
Count your blessings. Once you realize how valuable you are and how much you have going for you, the smiles will return, the sun will break out, the music will play, and you will finally be able to move forward toward the life God intended for you…with grace,strength, courage, and confidence.
It may sound silly, but one of the most powerful tools I utilize is making a gratitude list. Waking up early while the house is still quiet. Grabbing pen, paper, and coffee if desired, I start writing out the first thing that comes from my heart to my mind. It starts off slow and simple, like “I’m grateful for waking up”. The words start flowing, and before long I have listed quite a few words and phrases on a piece of paper. Make note of the date, because it’s fascinating to look back at months from now to see where you were.
If your mornings are crazy busy like mine were when my children were small, take note in your mind while driving to your destination. Even if you can only think of three things, ponder those throughout the day, and feel the gratitude for them.
One of my favorite sayings is, “What we take for granted, someone else is praying for”, so be grateful. If you’re reading this, you already have the beginning of your list. You woke up.
I cannot believe it’s November. Strolling by the aisle of Halloween candy, admiring the 50% off sign, I was pondering, ‘Christmas is right around the corner’. Unreal!
That prompted me to ponder outside my box, and wonder what other people’s holidays are going to be like. Long gone are the days when I was distraught because my florist hadn’t arrived on time to start decorating the staircases. That seems like a lifetime ago, and its hard to believe it was in my lifetime. Thank you Jesus for the simple life I have today.
How can I encourage others within this time of year that so many dread, or wish to ignore?
When I first started this Blog, I did an Og Mandino post, The Seeds of Success. Months later, readers still find it and view it, so that gave me a revelation. Another one of Og’s book is A Better Way to Live. Within that book are some rules to live by, so here we go.
Each week, now through Christmas, I will post a couple of rules a week. The posts will be brief, I hope, so tune in here for some heartfelt encouragement! It’s time to enjoy, Thanksgiving, Christmas, friends and family and reflect over this past year. A new year is less than a couple of months away, so start believing now…it’s gonna be the best year ever! Believe.
Do you embrace change? Do you run toward it, or away from it? Most avoid it like a plague. I know I did, until I just couldn’t stand any longer. I was in a world of pain, but was it painful enough to do something about it? We tolerate it for so long, our mind and body get used to it and adjust.
Then it happens. God sends someone right up to you, to gently point out how miserable you are. In my case, it was my daughter. She asked me if I was ever going to smile again? How’s that for ‘in your face’! My parents stayed together for four of us kids, and I was doing the same thing. My child knew I was miserable, so what was my reason? I was out of excuses. It was time for a change.
It was time to get disturbed. Becoming complacent and settling was not where I wanted to be. It was time to decide, would it be more painful to stay stuck, or step out in change?
Are you disturbed? If not, maybe you should be. I encourage you today to reflect upon your life. Is there an area that needs change? It could be something small to something big. When I made a large change, it was easier to make the small changes on a regular basis. By taking a personal inventory on a regular basis, I can keep my side of the street clean.
Over a year ago, I ran into a wise friend of mine. She could see I was struggling with what life was throwing at me. I had a new life, and wasn’t sure of everything, or everyone I was letting into it. I told her, “My life is becoming unmanageable, and I don’t know what to do”. She said, “Look at it and tell it to….STOP IT”! How simple was that? Like you would tell a small child that was being annoying…just stop it!
So, I did. Every little annoyance I had in my life, I told it to STOP! The air cleared and I could see the beginnings of a fabulous life waiting for me. I got rid of the clutter, and could see the beauty! Is there something or someone in your life that needs to hear, “Stop”? I pray today that you will tell them and get ready for every good thing God has in store. God has a life for us that is so much more than we could ever imagine! Sometimes it’s laying under a pile of clutter.
It amazes me the people we allow to come into our lives. They influence our behavior more than we are willing to admit. I enjoy teaching people how to let go of unhealthy relationships. We all have relationships on many levels, but are they healthy for you? Are you feeling the three R’s? Refreshed, Renewed and Revitalized by these people in your life? If not, it’s time to let go and give ’em up!
Over the years, I’ve trained myself to ‘Never Give Up’. That is my screen saver on my laptop, so I’m reminded every time I glance at it, which is throughout the day. I have learned, if you want a great life, you have to give up what looks good to you. What looks good to me is a far cry to what looks good to God, and His plan for me. God is always showing off and out doing me! This prompts me to continually raise my standards and not get too comfortable with what I have. There is always better.
The power of Letting Go is a beautiful thing! I wrote down three affirmations daily for weeks. There is something about letting the words flow through you, onto paper that extinguishes the power of the situation. That along with a gratitude list is what caused a major shift in my life from good to great!
Every eagle has a nest. I’m very careful who I allow to enter my nest. It’s not a large nest, so no more than a handful of people fit comfortably.
I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog, but here is my criteria for nest dwellers. Look at the people closest to you. These are the people who influence your life the most, and ask yourself these questions about each one.
Does this person: Love you? Motivate you? Encourage you? Inspire you? Enhance you? Bring you happiness?
If you answered ‘NO’ to any of these, it’s time to look deeper. Let’s let go of good, so we have room in our nest for great.
Years ago, I had this poster hanging on my office wall in plain view. I had a successful business and worked it day in and day out. My office was gorgeous, as was the rest of the house. A well-known designer from Austin, TX came in and did her magic. I was probably living the majority of the populations dream, but was I living mine?
I don’t recall being happy. Here is something I learned the hard way. “Don’t let your happiness depend on something you may lose”. C.S Lewis. That business slowly declined to the point where I had to let it go. A few months later, I had to let go of that magnificent house and a lot of its beautiful belongings. Did my dreams go too? Even though this was one of life’s hard lessons, the business was just a business and the material things were objects. No one can take away your dreams.
No one can take them, but we can lose them. Life get’s in the way, and dreams get set aside or put up on a shelf. When life hits hard, its human nature to go into ‘Survival’ mode. This is not a pretty place to be! Been there, done that and didn’t like it.
Looking back on those years, it’s obvious it was all a part of God’s plan to get me where I am today. I had to go through some pain but it was worth it. The choices I made with money and relationships were not wise, but needed. I can see everything God has given me, when I used to just take care of it. Today, I get to see, feel, and enjoy every moment! What is your dream?
Is it buried under life? I encourage you today to dig deep, uncover that dream, and then take a step toward it. Your dream is waiting on you.
In less than two weeks, I’ll be 50 years old. I don’t know what that is supposed to look like, but I don’t feel like I’ve been here for half a century! The picture you see of my pier is how my life looked almost a year ago. Making the decision toward the very best outcome for my daughter and me, was the scariest but most fabulous thing I ever did. It’s been a ride, but I’m a country girl, so God knew I could handle it. Take chances.
I’ve made a lot of decisions this year, and most have taken me on a path of goodness. The wrong turns, God worked out for my good. I started this Blog back in June, and just want to encourage others and give them hope for a beautiful life. My first Blog was about a Keith Urban song entitled, “Little Bit of Everything”. I wasn’t sure what I wanted, or what my new life was going to look like, so I just thought a little bit of everything in all areas would be cool. Today, I have that and my disco ball still hangs from my ol’ oak tree. My life is more than I could ever hoped or dreamed for, and I want that for you! Make a decision.
The next photo is a morning view from my front porch. I wake up around 5:30 am and take my coffee to the porch and wait for the day. This is my first semi conscious moment with God, and I thank Him for waking me up! Yes, I’m just grateful to wake up, have a new day and be healthy. I took a 6 week Yoga class with my daughter, so this week, I’ve taken my Yoga moves to the porch. It’s a delightful thing to do while waiting for the sun to come up. Once the sun hits, it gets hot because this is Texas! Take care of your body. You only have one.
By starting my day like this, you may be wondering if I’m independently wealthy? The answer is NO. I have made choices to simplify my life to the point, I don’t need much. I’ve had a full life of expensive houses, the right car, clothes hanging in a closet with tags still on them, travel, and just about every material object you could want. Today, I rent a small house, less than 1,000 square feet, on 40 acres of land. I can clean my entire house in the same amount of time it took me to sweep the pool. Freedom.
I’m a Virtual Assistant for two different companies, and get to work from home with very flexible hours. Having had my own successful businesses in the past, I chose to let go of the pressure of success and help others. That was a hard thing to let go of, but having found a blissful balance in my life, allows me to give that to others. I enjoy being behind the scenes now instead of the spotlight. Even though my daughter will tell you, I still go BOOM…into the room, and there’s nothing quiet about me.
Oh, how I love my daughter! This selfie was taken the day she got her braces off. I think she’s breathtakingly beautiful! When I look at Bailey, I see everything good and pure that God made. She makes me laugh until I can’t breathe. We do and say the craziest things to one another, and it works. I have allowed her to be technologically savvy, which a lot of Homeschool Mom’s don’t. Google is our friend, which makes most Mom’s look at us in distaste. That’s okay because she knows a little bit about a lot, and that makes for great conversation. She probably knows more sexual innuendos than I do, but will hold fast to her virginity. Being involved with Twitter, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, to name a few, she sees and hears it all.
God has raised this girl, and I’m just the vessel that looks like Mom. She makes Godly choices and takes paths that are pleasing to Him. Because she has ‘street smarts’ she is able to guide and protect others that may be looking at a tempting path. I know she keeps me outta trouble. Not long after we moved, I saw a hot looking guy mowing his grass. I said, “He can mow my yard anytime’! She said, “NO Mom. You don’t ever want to say that to a guy”. That’s how we roll.
Walking out to get in our truck one morning, Bailey grabbed me and yelled, “Sefie”! It was a cool morning which made our eyes water, and we were not wearing any makeup. I think that is one of my favorite pics with her because she wanted to do that. She wanted a pic with her Mom, and she does it quite often. How many teenagers include their parent in their life? Take time with your kids.
She is extremely gifted and creative, but has a sound mind. I think that’s important with creativity. One of her first Photoshop pics was this with a tiger. That is so Bailey. Nope…we’re not holding a cute little bunny, or watching an aquarium full of colorful fish. We’re strolling down the road with one of God’s fiercest creatures. She loves art, music, and photography, and God is opening doors for her that no man can close. Be willing to walk through every door God opens.
This next picture is awesome. To further her knowledge of photography, and combine her love for music, Bailey reached out to artist’s via email. She types an email to agent’s of artist’s she would love to photograph. She loves Tyler Ward. His talent and integrity as a person is who she admires. Tyler was probably the third artist she photographed, and even though none of the agents have used her photo’s, she still emails and doors open.
She does the next right thing every time. Taking at least 300 shots of the artist, coming home to sort them for hours and only edits a few. She emails them to the manager, and sometimes the artist, and that’s it. She doesn’t hear another word, or see them posted anywhere. By doing her part, and walking by faith, I know God is going to bless her. This is just practice for the big thing He has in store. Everyone needs practice, and this time has allowed her to learn about her camera, lighting, and how to work the crowd to get to just the right spot.
Having these opportunities at a young age is going to take her to magnificent places. There are always older, more seasoned, somewhat snobby photographers at the same concert as her. Some are paid to be there, which Bailey is not. I’m sure the agents use their photo’s, but I’m also sure, those guys wish they would have been standing there at 15 years old instead of now. She has her whole life ahead of her, and we stay grateful for every door God opens. Stay in gratitude.
It’s a little after 10:00 am, and it’s time to start cooking our brunch. This is another little thing I get to do for us. I love setting the table with colorful place mats, old china from an antique shop, and cloth napkins. Scratch that. Today we have haircuts at noon, so it will be homemade Pumpkin Bread from a local Farmer’s Market, with real butter and a pot of tea. That is an example of how we make every little thing count. I want that for you too. If nothing else, start with cloth napkins. Today can be beautiful and it starts by waking up.
The one phrase that will make my skin crawl is, “Deal with it”. I don’t enjoy hearing that from someone’s mouth and directed toward me.
That usually means they have provided or pointed out something distasteful in my life that needs to be resolved. Good things add goodness to my life. If it’s not good, then I have a choice whether or not to keep it. Life happens fast, and the key that I have found, is to ‘deal’ with everything it throws at me immediately.
Being a woman, this usually brings up an emotion or two that I need to get a handle on first. If something happens unexpectedly, I have to sit back and look at it for what it is. Acknowledging how it’s making me feel, and sit with that feeling. To feel the present moment.
One thing I have found is you have to reach out and touch it. Whatever it is that’s bringing up this flood of emotion, whether it be anger, loneliness, panic, frustration, desperation, overwhelm…whatever it is, just touch the root cause. Every cause has calmness on the other side. Just feel it out.
Something or someone is trying to get your attention! We need to pay attention to every moment. When I reach toward it, what’s waiting for me is exactly what I needed, whether I knew it or not. It’s not scary. We just talk through our sides and come to an agreement that works for both of us. Then comes my favorite part….LETTING GO! Once it’s discussed, I get to let it go, and have more room for what’s next.
This is present moment living for me. I feel it, reach toward it, talk it through and move on. This prevents worry, grudges, procrastination, disappointment and all the nastiness of life. If you don’t reach toward it, you will probably put it in a box up on a shelf to deal with later. This is not healthy. It never goes away like that, and it will sit and wait. This also kills growth and nothing good grows in darkness. Face whatever is coming after you, because somehow, it needs you right now, in this present moment.