AJ’s No Candy No Pop Challenge

IMG_0998My 12-year-old son, AJ, is a stud! 🙂 He is smart, athletic, witty, focused and a generally good kid. I love spending time with him – watching football, playing cards, or seeing him show-off some of his own sweet athletic moves.

I love many things about who AJ is, but one really stands out to me: determination. When AJ decides to do something or to save money for something it is an opportunity to witness amazing determination. One time he was saving money for an iPad and in that situation every penny counted. In the summer all the kids decided they wanted to get smoothies. I told them I was happy to take them to the smoothie shop, but I wasn’t going to pay – they were on their own. The girls got their money, but AJ told us to go ahead without him. When we returned he was having a smoothie. He had made his own with things we had in the house so he didn’t have to use his money. Creative determination.

August of 2012 I threw out a challenge to AJ: no candy and no pop for one full year. This may seem an easy task for some of you, but believe me it was a challenge for AJ. This came about after a fellow USANA associate shared at International Convention how his daughter, AJ’s same age, had gone one year without candy or pop. There was a monetary reward for this girl and I put a $365 reward out there for AJ, all or nothing. If he had candy or pop even one time in 365 days then his reward would be $0.

It took AJ two days to make his decision. He was in – all in! Consider, as AJ did, some of what this would mean . . .

Halloween – no candy, school (yes, they still have candy at school), friends and siblings (they do love to torture), Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, birthdays (his own and others), going out for burgers or pizza – no pop. Then to top things off, we moved to a camp with pop machines in the dining hall and candy in the Red Canoe (store). AJ was so determined that he wouldn’t even eat a cookie that had M n’ M’s inside. He eliminated every possibility of missing his goal.

P1020040WOW! It is so convicting to consider what was accomplished. I have goals (desires) that I want with my health, family, income, business, etc. and yet I often find myself saying, “It’s too hard!” Sometimes, as I’ve written before, these goals are only 30 or 90 days long. What could I accomplish in 365 days with the determination and focus of my son, AJ?

To be continued . . . because I want AJ to share with you how he was able to accomplish this great challenge. I think there will be lessons for all of us in what he has to share.

Be Extraordinary!

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Winning or Learning

6439f51a95518baeadc584fcaf7c5f85I have really enjoyed reflecting on life through this blog. I am so grateful for feedback from many of you, and for the opportunity to encourage many more of you to live your own extraordinary journey. I love writing about great experiences, influencial moments and opportunities fully embraced.

Today, however, is not one of those times. I set a few goals 89 days ago. The deadline is here – tomorrow – and I did not complete the goals.

My awesome, convicting and sometimes annoying (I usually feel that way when I am being a victim) coach, Tony, often reminds me that  “sometimes you win and sometimes you learn”. The only way that a failure is truly a failure is if I don’t learn. So today, on the precepice of my 90 Day Challenge, I choose to learn and to share a couple of those lessons with you.

lessons-learned

Lesson #1: Enlist Accountability

When I make a goal (commitment) I must set up firm accountability. I must enroll people on my “team” that will hold my feet to the fire. And in order for this to happen I must share my commitments with them openly. I recognize that I did not enlist firm accountability for the long, 90 day, haul. It looked pretty good for the first 30 days, but then I let things slide. It is difficult to enlist firm accountability without being firm in my commitments. Honestly I was not very firm in the commitments or action plan that would take me to my goal.

Lesson #2: Embrace Commitment

One goal I made was in relation to my health and releasing inches around my waist. Eating sweets does not serve me in reaching this goal. I really love sweets, but I committed to go without. That’s a great commitment but the problem is that I did not commit to going without sweets for the entire 90 days. I decided I would go until I no longer craved them. Go ahead and shake your head. I’m shaking mine too. What was I thinking? I made it 30 days with no sweets and I no longer craved them, but by day 37 I could no longer leave the sweets alone. My commitment was weak. My action plan was non-existent and I payed the price.

Lesson #3: Execute an Action Plan

Executing an action plan would require creating an action plan. Again, a 30 day action plan is not sufficient for a 90 day goal. Creating daily, weekly and monthly plans are critical in order to create real success. Sad to say, but I took more of a “fly by the seat of my pants” approach rather than developing a clear, concise action plan.

These lessons are great, but this learning is only as valuable to me as my willingness to implement change in the future. What goals are on your horizon? What are doing to ensure success on your extraordinary journey?

Be Extraordinary!

Kidney-versary: Had Two, Gave One

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A last visit with Rhonda before our move to Michigan, 4 1/2 months post surgery.

October 23, 2013 marks the one year anniversary of donating my left kidney to a wonderful recipient, Rhonda. This event and the six months leading up to this event radically changed my thinking, my perspective, and my life. I am forever humbled by and grateful for the privilege of being a part of Rhonda’s transformation story. And Rhonda’s physical life has been transformed. I had a front row seat to instant change. Knowing that one willing act created profound change in the quality of life of my friend is overwhelming.

How do I put this journey into words? One year later and I still don’t know the answer to that question, so here are my thoughts today.

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Surgery day.

As Joe and I headed to OHSU (Oregon Health Sciences University) in the dark, early morning of October 23, I pushed ‘play’ on my specially made playlist entitled “peace”. We had stayed at a hotel just one song from the hospital and as the song began we heard these words,
“The sun comes up
It’s a new day dawning
It’s time to sing Your song again
Whatever may pass and whatever lies before me
Let me be singing when the evening comes.”

After months of testing, preparing, testing, waiting, testing and more testing, we knew that this was the moment. The moment to put full trust and faith in God’s plan. My life was in the hands of the doctor, Rhonda’s receptiveness to the kidney was uncertain, recovery was unknown. God was ultimately in control of all these things and that knowledge gave me peace like I have never experienced before. I had heard people talk about ‘quiet confidence’ before and that day, with full awareness, I experienced it up close and personal. Those who have heard my story before know how I feel about needles, blood draws, IV’s and hospitals. I don’t like the smells or thoughts about any of those. I often feel faint (and have fainted). I’ve never even donated a pint of blood. Yet, on October 22 and 23 I experienced peace and clarity like never before. A wink from God (as a buddy of my husband once said).

Giving a kidney did not really change my physical health. After recovery from surgery (and a hernia surgery 7 months later), I really don’t feel any different physically. However, my heart seems to have undergone a transplant. My compassion for others has increased. My burning desire to live an extraordinary life has intensified. My influence is different. I think differently. I feel differently. I connect differently. My kids are changed. My husband is changed. The song in my spirit will never be the same.

“Sing like never before
Oh my soul
I worship Your holy name.”

Be Extraordinary!

To read my husband’s thoughts the day after surgery, click here.

To read my perspective one month after transplant, click here.

The day before surgery. Prep day.

Meeting up with Rhonda on prep day – the day before surgery.

The kids have a new love for kidneys - even at Famous Footwear!

The kids have a new love for kidneys – even at Famous Footwear!

Moments before I would begin surgery and Rhonda would begin prep.

Moments before I would begin surgery and Rhonda would begin prep.

Change Your Language. Change Your Life.

Life is rough! I had to wake up long before daylight this morning. In fact, I had to set my alarm for 5:40am so I could get a shower before having to drag the kids out of bed for school. I was so hungry that I had to eat an early breakfast, but the only thing I could find was PB&J. Then I had to make a sandwich for my son’s lunch. When everyone was finally ready I had to drive the kids to a school 25 minutes away from our home!

Are you feeling sorry for me yet? My life and circumstances are tough! Sadly, this reads like a lot of people’s Facebook feeds and quite honestly, I feel kind of down about my own situation after reading the above scenario. My circumstances seem worse and the hope of life looking different does not seem possible. How did my life become so bleak? One simple word: choice.

thEveryone has a choice for every circumstance in their life. Yes, everyone for every circumstance. In some instances we may not actually choose the specific circumstance, but we still have a choice in how we respond to the given circumstance. My husband, Joe, delves even deeper with this idea in his book, Project Joseph, where he unpacks the life of Joseph from the Bible. Joseph is a supreme example of someone who had every right to be a victim to his circumstances, but he recognized that he had a choice.

We choose. And when we can acknowledge the fact that we choose, then we have the power to make change in the future. One simple way we can begin to take back our power is by choosing our language around our choices. Let me illustrate be restating the first paragraph from a place of choice.

I chose to wake up early this morning, in time to to enjoy the peace of the quiet house. In fact, I chose to set my alarm for 5:40am so I could take a nice hot shower before waking my amazing kids up for school. I chose to eat breakfast and although it wasn’t great, I chose the food I ate. I chose to help my son by making a sandwich for his lunch. I chose to talk with the kids while I drove them to school. (And I chose to enroll the kids in an excellent school, where I am their transportation.)

I chose my morning and if I want the actual activities or the attitudes of my day to change, then I must control my choices and the language around my choices. This tiny change of language has radically changed my life and it can change yours too! Kind of like Clean Sinks, Floss, and Sit-Ups – little changes of habit can create greater results than we could ever imagine.

Be Extraordinary!

Except When You Don’t

I have found a lot of wisdom in the pages of Dr. Suess, including this quote from Oh The Places You’ll Go. This book was given to me when I got on the plane for my first year of college over 20 years ago. I have referenced this book many times over the years and this section seems very fitting today.

“Except when you don’t.

Because sometimes, you won’t.

I’m sorry to say so

but, sadly, it’s true

that Bang-ups and Hang-ups

can happen to you.

You can get all hung up in a prickle-ly perch.

And your gang will fly on.

You’ll be left in a Lurch.

You’ll come down from the Lurch

with an unpleasant bump.

And the chances are, then,dr-seussplaces

that you’ll be in a Slump.

And when you’re in a Slump,

you’re not in for much fun.

Un-slumping yourself

is not easily done.”

I have not yet found it within myself to embrace slumps. I want to be energized, excited, and extraordinary every moment of every day. . . but then life has a lot of ordinary moments too. Today’s thoughts are not necessarily about avoiding slumps altogether, but about how to get out of them more quickly. If you don’t want to face any slumps or obstacles in your life then I suggest you don’t go for the extraordinary – stay in your safe, comfort zone – and you will live a much simpler (and I think, far less rewarding) life.

How to shorten the “except when you don’t” times:

1) Kick the Victim Mindset to the Curb. The victim mindset is about blaming your life and your problems on anything and everything.

2) Embrace the Empowered Mindset. The empowered mindset is about owning the fact that you have chosen what you have in your life, and owning your response to the things you can’t control.

  • Your financial situation – own your part (the things you chose to buy, money you chose to spend, house you chose to purchase).
  • Your kids who are causing you grief – own your part (you chose to have those kids, or at least made choices that caused you to have those kids).
  • Your problems with your boss or co-workers – own it (you choose to work there – yes! you choose to work there).

WOW! Those are convicting. I will address these in a future blog because victim/empowered has been a huge lesson for me!

3) Accountability. Who do you have in your life that will lovingly tell you the truth? Who do you have in your life that cares more about the big picture of your life than the comfort you may experience for a moment?

Be Extraordinary!

Sweet 16

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Beautiful Tatiana. 🙂

We recently celebrated a “Sweet 16” in our house. Tatiana – aka Tots, Tatlianna, Cheesy Tots – turned the big 16! We first met Tati when she was 12 and started attending our youth group in Oregon. She has now been an amazing addition to our family for the past two and a half years. Tati is a beautiful, fun-loving, belly-laughing, successful and adaptable young woman. Our family loves her to pieces!

Adding Tati to our family is a piece of the amazing journey that began after I read the book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Let me pick up my side of the story in April 2011. . .

I was working through the study Experiencing God, and was very touched by the things I was learning. I would visit the Upper Room of the Broadway Coffee house and work on my study there,  overlooking the beautiful trees of Salem, Oregon. One particular day in April, following my time of study I journaled this prayer:

“Lord, I want to be part of YOUR extraordinary work. I realize that comes by connecting and depending heart and soul on YOU. YOU are the one who works. I am YOUR willing vessel. It feels a little fearful to say these words because I don’t know what You will ask of me, but I am willing. Help me to know You and stay close to You.

“Lord . . . I choose to be ok not knowing the big plan for this next year, but rather listening for and responding to your next move. I love You, God and I want to be changed and used by You for extraordinary things.”

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Taken 1 month after Tati joined our family.

Later that very same day I was driving AJ, BJ and Celina home from school when I received a call from Joe that went something like this. “I just found out that Tati’s mom will be heading back to prison for 2+ years and I think Tati should come live with us.” Short pause. YES! I knew without doubt it was God’s answer to my earlier prayer. My heart was fully ready and my answer was YES!

Have you ever found yourself in that place where you are ready for anything? So ready, that you are ok with what “anything” actually is? So ready that your eyes are wide open, ears are tuned up and heart is eager with anticipation for what comes next? It is an exciting place to be – fully surrendered and open – a place where great things are born.

I hope you take the opportunity to embrace someone or something new into your life, heart and family. I am so glad Tati is part of the journey God has for our family. I am so glad I said “YES!”

Family

Our family at USANA Convention, August 2012.

Be Extraordinary!

Clean Sinks, Floss, and Sit-Ups

Cleaning_Sink What do clean sinks, floss, and sit-ups have in common? Quite a bit actually. Each one of these is a relatively small act that has great impact. Many years ago I heard about Fly Lady, a woman who teaches people how to keep their houses clean. What is the first and continual step for keeping your entire house clean, according to Fly Lady? Clean the kitchen sink to sparkling clean and keep it that way. I was sceptical, but I gave it a try. What happened when I cleaned my kitchen sink? I ended up cleaning the kitchen counters too. I swept the kitchen floor. I cleared the kitchen table and even placed a centerpiece on the table. The entire house became more clean – not overnight – but very quickly the house was in better shape, starting with the simple act of cleaning the kitchen sink.

stick_figure_sit_ups_sticker-r48557f93248940129e6ee904b500d55c_v9waf_8byvr_512I have had similar experiences with exercise, most recently with sit-ups. I am currently participating in a 30 day Strong Ab Challenge. Day 1 involved 15 sit-ups, 5 crunches, 5 leg raises, 10 second plank, a healthy nutrimeal shake and protein snack bar. The rest of the day I could do and eat whatever I wanted. This relatively small challenge inspired even greater things out of me on that first day. I chose water to drink, I snacked less and I avoided late-night eating. Just like the clean sink, making a small, easy change can motivate change and better decisions in even more areas of the house and my life.

sanseusanaOne more example: I rarely choose to wash my face at night. I use the best skin care products and I love the feeling and smell after washing my face – in fact I think I even sleep better at night – yet I still choose not to do it. After my last dentist appointment, I made a decision to floss my teeth every night for the six months between appointments. Guess what happened 21 days into this new daily routine? I started washing my face! Flossing my teeth at night is a very small thing that very quickly impacted another area of my health and life – washing my face (not to mention the fact that my mouth is experiencing great benefits also).

So what’s the point? Go clean your kitchen sink, floss your teeth and do some sit-ups? The point is to embrace the small changes – daily – and allow those small changes to impact greater areas of your life. What is a small change you can add to your life that does not feel too difficult? Commit to doing this new habit daily for 30 days and watch what happens. This may be the thing that propels you into an even more extraordinary journey.

Be Extraordinary!