Inspiration For Sale (Tamale Purchase Required)

InspirationFrequently on Facebook I run into something extraordinary. More often than not I hear people complain about all of the complaining and drama on Facebook, but the amazing stories are there too if you look for them.

I was inspired by a post written by my Facebook friend, Heather. If you are ever looking to buy or sell a home in the Willamette Valley of Oregon, Heather is your woman. Here is Heather’s story one Wednesday morning in September:

“I’m home working this morning. Two offers, a couple new listings coming up, and inspections to complete. Kinda busy, but handling it fine in the quiet of my home office. Kids are at school – you know – a normal early fall morning. Then there is a knock at my door. Standing there was this little lady I have seen in the neighborhood before. She has a few little ones and I was thinking maybe she lost her dog or something. I say good morning and she does too, then she asks me if I want to buy some tamales. I see a heavy pack on her back. Weighted down with a bunch of them.

“I decline.

“I wish I hadn’t. But who buys homemade food from someone knocking on your door, right? Then she asks me if I have received her flyer and hands me a flyer about housecleaning. We talk a little more. She is bonded, licensed, and lives nearby. I promise to refer some clients her way who also live nearby. I tell her I am a Realtor and she recognizes my name. She gives me a couple extra flyers and we say goodbye. I go back to my desk and start working again, but I can’t stop thinking of her. What must it take for her to provide for her family, walking door to door selling food? She obviously spent a lot of time on the tamales AND she cleans houses too.

“The strength of women I meet often inspires me. It fills my spirit, but this lady really did today. Next time she comes by, I will buy the tamales. Sending her lots and lots of success energy today. Feeling inspired.”

There are so many things to draw from Heather’s story. When you think about what it means to live an extraordinary life, what lessons can you draw from the lovely woman selling tamales and house-cleaning? What lessons can you draw from Heather and her response to the situation?

So far in the story there are valuable lessons and I hope you are seeing them, but Heather did not become Senior VP at Coldwell Banker or receive numerous awards in her profession by sitting back. Heather was moved, even “inspired”, and here is what she did next:

tamale“I went and chased her down!!!
“My conscience was YELLING at me!
“We are eating them right now for lunch! They are still warm!! Soooo good!!”

Heather was moved, inspired, and then she took ACTION!

Are there any lessons for you now? How can you take the lessons of this story and apply it to your business, family, health, marriage, or finances?

There are ‘tamales’ worth having and they often require getting off your butt, getting out of your house, and even chasing them down the street. And the payoff is totally worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

Connect with Heather for your house-buying or house-selling needs by clicking here.

An Extraordinary Craving

pursue GodDo you have specific times of reflection throughout the year? For most people birthdays (even the birthdays of our children), anniversaries, and New Year’s are times to look back at where we have been and what we have accomplished. They are also times to look forward to what is next, sometimes even setting goals for the future.

I have noticed that extraordinary events do the same thing. It was two years ago today (October 23, 2014) that I was rolled into an operating room in Portland, OR and left that operating room six hours later with only one kidney. Several hours later Rhonda would leave that same operating room with the other kidney.

That transaction changed my life. For the first year there were so many things that brought me back to the feelings of that time and experience. There were several songs that were particularly meaningful. I noticed when it was the 23rd of every month that first year. And the one year marker was very emotional.

Miss RhondaThis past May (2014) our whole family did a kidney walk in honor of Rhonda. The walk was put on by the National Kidney Foundation and held at the Detroit Zoo. It was a great day to remember all our family did and sacrificed to give this gift. I love my family so much and am so grateful that they were willing to partner with me in this extraordinary gift. They were directly involved and each person stepped up in their own way throughout the process.

kidney walkBut here is the interesting thing I am thinking about today.

You have probably heard me say in some form that being part of extraordinary events, people, and journeys brings me huge satisfaction and energizes me greatly. The experience of donating a kidney has long passed. Yes, the story continues . . . Rhonda is doing amazing! I still live with one kidney and am doing great! The story still happened. The story has been used to inspire, encourage, challenge, and bless others and I pray that it will continue to do so. But,

I am left with a craving for more of the extraordinary.

My life story is not over and donating a kidney does not, by itself, equal an extraordinary life. I have passion and desire for more – more of the extraordinary journey. Just like there are adrenaline junkies, I am a bit of an “extraordinary” junkie.

Sometimes the extraordinary life is loving my kids – taking extra minutes to tuck them in at night, signing up for a field trip, waiting for them after school, hugging them extra tight when they’ve had a rough day, or being super silly with them. These “simple” things are extraordinary and occasionally more difficult than gifting a kidney.

Sometimes the extraordinary life is taking the family on a mission trip to South Africa, moving across the country, or inviting someone to join your family.

This is what I do know:

A life lived in pursuit of the extraordinary is extremely difficult and even more extremely rewarding. After all the scary, exciting, difficult, joy-filled, and uncertain extraordinary living I have been blessed to do – I still want more. I have an extraordinary craving to leave this life having experienced everything God has available for me. I don’t want to miss any of it.

Are you living your own extraordinary journey? May you pursue all God has for you today as you live out your unique opportunity . . . your extraordinary life.

Be Extraordinary!

458 Reasons to Live Extraordinary

458reasonsThe journey of an extraordinary life is a series of small, important steps. It is easy to see “successful” people and think they simply got lucky or that success fell in their laps. I have experienced just enough success and just enough failure to know that it is not merely luck that gets a person anywhere worth going.

Happy marriages, booming businesses, new cars, and first-class tickets do not come to those who sit around and do nothing. These things – and so much more – come to those who take chances and make choices daily to do the right thing. And not only a good choices, but choices that move life in the direction of one’s goals, dreams, and desires.

Here is an example from my own life. When Joe and I had to put a new transmission in our van we also had to take out a loan of $4,000 (nearly $5,000 with interest) to pay for it. Finances were a bit tight so this was no pocket change for us. We payed our minimums for over two years. I really don’t remember how long because it seemed like forever! In that time we received a gift specifically for the tranny. The gift was $1,000 from some very generous and kind-hearted friends. At last we were able to pay the loan down to roughly $1,200. All interest was on the front end so we knew exactly what was left on the loan.

This is when we made one small, important decision. We began taking $25 every Friday and putting it on the loan, on top of our regular monthly payment. It didn’t seem like much. Fast forward four months:

I went online to make a payment and when I opened the website it said, “Balance: $0”.

I thought it just meant that I owed $0 because I was ahead on my monthly payments. But when I looked further it stated that a reimbursement check of $458 was on the way! The bill was paid in full and much more!

What if I had just made my minimum payments? First of all, I would still be making monthly payments! Second, I would have missed out on this awesome, surprising, and rewarding blessing!

All of this took place because we were willing to make consistent, small, sacrificial choices and action steps in the right direction. Did we get lucky? Maybe, but we would not have experienced this “luck” if we hadn’t been actively making efforts that put us in a place to receive this “luck.”

What small, sacrificial step can you make today that will move you in the direction of your goals, dreams, and desires?
Will you commit to taking an action step for the next 30 days, or the next 30 weeks, in anticipation of “luck” turning in your favor with this new, consistent habit?
Please share your commitments in the comment box below.

The extraordinary journey comes as a result of small, important steps.

Be Extraordinary!

Do You Need an Achilles’ Tendon Rupture?

achillesAchilles’ heel: a fault or weakness that causes or could cause someone or something to fail
i.e. I am trying to lose weight, but ice cream is my Achilles’ heel.

It took the rupture of my Achilles’ tendon to make me aware of an Achilles’ heel in my life.

In August of 2002, Joe and I had been married for nearly 6 years. AJ was 14 months old. I was 10 days shy of being 6 months pregnant with BJ. I was coaching middle school volleyball. I was the janitor for our church. Joe was a full-time youth pastor. Life was full and challenging, or so I thought.

On August 27, towards the end of volleyball practice, the other middle school coach and myself were playing a little 2-on-2 with our girls (yes, I was 5 1/2 months pregnant and felt great!) I bent to pass a ball and felt the fateful snap as though someone had hit me in the back of the leg. I waddled (yes, waddled) to the ball cart and wrapped up practice immediately. I then went and sat on the sideline and wondered if it was my Achilles. (I considered this because my brother-in-law, Dan, had ruptured his Achilles just 6 months earlier with a similar story.)

Our only car was a stick-shift and so I had one of the moms drive me home, and then Joe took me to Urgent Care. It was on that table in Urgent Care that I heard those awful words: You’re Achilles’ tendon is ruptured. Knowing what Dan had gone through (4 months of on-the-couch recovery) made the news so real. A thousand questions rattled in my mind, like “How in the world are Joe and I going to manage our busy little life now?” I was benched!

Ten days later (the doctors wanted to wait until I was a full 6 months pregnant), I had surgery. I spent a good part of two months with my leg elevated above my heart. Pain was intense and there was little I could do without help.

The rupture of my Achilles’ heel revealed my personal Achilles’ heel: I preferred to tackle life without help. I was a Lone Ranger. I thought I was stronger if I did things by myself.

The list of things I needed help with and the numbers of people who stepped in are countless, but I am going to recount a few because it was through this humbling process that I realized how much I need other people in my life.

* Joe coached girls volleyball (girls anything) for the first and last time. Those girls still call out, “Coach Joe!” when they see him around town.
* Joe did my janitorial job at the church.
* Debbie offered to watch AJ and her son, Josh, would come pick him up. This began a great relationship and all of our kids ended up spending time at Debbie’s Daycare over the years.
* Janice cleaned my bathroom. It was disgusting and she did it without complaint, without question, and with tons of joy.
* Meal after meal after meal came to our door by loving people from our church.
* Taking a bath and washing my hair. Yes, I needed help with these tasks too. Getting around on crutches at 6, 7, and 8 months pregnant was no easy feat, let alone getting into a bathtub while trying to keep my casted leg out of the water.

Life is best lived in the companionship and company of others. In fact, this is how we were created. Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 sums it up well.
Two better than one“Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their work:
If one falls down,
his friend can help him up.
But pity the man who falls
and has no one to help him up!”

What is your Achilles’ heel in life? Are you willing to acknowledge it and take action to make changes? Hopefully it won’t take the rupture of an Achilles’ heel to get your Achilles’ heel in check.

Be Extraordinary!

Birthday Ice Cream . . Yummm

starbucksThe extraordinary journey doesn’t always seem all that . . extraordinary. Sometimes it lacks the intense feelings and emotions that are experienced in other moments. I had one of these experiences on my birthday.

No, my whole birthday was not one of those experiences. The day was filled with peace, fun, laughter, new friends, old friends, hugs, cards, texts, Facebook messages, phone calls, and free coffee from Starbucks. It was a wonderful day and I knew (as I know now) that I was loved, appreciated, and cared for by many.

But I did have one little moment.

birthday moomersI honestly thought my trip to Moomer’s (America’s best ice cream and only 15 minutes from my home) would be an emotional and inspiring experience. That sounds so silly even as I write it, but I really believed that would be the case. After all, I had gone more than eight months without eating ice cream even though I have been to Moomer’s well over ten times in those 8 months.

I love ice cream! I worked at Baskin Robbins for several years in college and did not grow tired of it, but only found more flavors to love and enjoy.

And yet, in spite of this love, I held to my commitment of no sweets, treats, or ice cream for more than eight months. Because of this “ice cream fast” I thought that eating the ice cream would be an amazing, thrilling, and emotional experience. I pictured a “What About Bob?” moment when he is eating dinner with Dr. Marvin’s family and truly enjoying his mashed potatoes and hand-shucked corn. There were so many moans, yums, and looks of pleasure on Bob’s face.

My chocolate peanut butter and peppermint stick in a cup was just ice cream – really great ice cream – but just ice cream. I enjoyed every bite, but it was still just yummy ice cream. In fact, the anticipation of the ice cream was so much greater and even more fun than the eating of the ice cream.

This may sound silly, but I have a feeling some of you understand.

This was a victory. Food, especially sweet food, has had a grip on my life for years. To simply enjoy something, without obsession, is amazing and I am so grateful I was able to experience ice cream in that way.

Darren Hardy talks about fasting from things (movies, wine, ice cream, spending money) that potentially have a grip in his life. The only way to really know if something is controlling you versus you have control over it, is to fast and take great notice to your response. Hardy does a 30 day fast of some sort every few months just to make sure he is still the master.

Is there a ‘master’ in your life that needs to be put in its proper place? What do you need to fast from in order to regain control?
Be specific. How long and from what specifically will you fast?
Be accountable. Now share what you are going to do so you can receive support and greatly increase your chances of success. The comment box is open.

Be Extraordinary!

#13.1 Life Lessons

we did it halfSunday, October 5, Joe and I completed the Sleeping Bear Dunes Half Marathon. Because of my foot injury I had only run one time in the previous three weeks without pain. That run was five days before the race and a distance of 3.5 miles. Also, the longest distance I had run before the race was 8.02 miles and 8.5 miles for Joe.

Race day was filled with many firsts, personal records, and (of course!) life lessons.

1. I can do hard things.
When I make a decision and commit to that decision – regardless of how difficult the task is – I am capable. Often I don’t commit to things because I question my capacity. I discovered in the training and the race that I am capable of much more than I believe.

2. The journey is easier (and made possible) with a buddy (Joe).
I honestly could not, or would not, have completed this journey without Joe by my side. Joe’s questions, encouragement, persistence, and sometimes being a pain in the butt were all for my good. I needed every bit of prodding Joe offered.

3. Having people who are further in the journey (Clay, Lisa, Evey) is crucial to my success.
I received good, sound, positive, encouraging advice and help from runners who had already run 13.1 miles. The words they gave were a big part of being prepared race day.

4. Without training there is no chance for victory.
If I had never trained I could not have finished. The training was not only physical, but there were many mental barriers conquered during the months of training before the race.

5. The best way to finish is to keep moving.
When we came to the “12 mile” sign everything below my waist was in agony. We slowed to a walk, but I knew if I stopped the motion, or sat for a minute, starting again would have been nearly impossible. It was so important to keep moving.

6. Quitting is not an option.
Joe and I had two goals for the half: start and finish. “Quit” was not a word in our vocabulary. As we ran mile after mile we talked of finishing – we never talked about stopping. I had seen the piles of cut oranges before we started and in the latter miles I had my eyes and tastebuds on that prize too!

7. The goal for the race is personal.
Every runner out on the course had a different objective. Some set out to win. Some set out for friendship and fun. Joe and I ran as a metaphor for the life we are living in 2014. We are “running the race” of life and all we faced in the training and running of a half marathon has lessons for our personal journey too.

8. Remember how far you have come.
When I began training I could barely run one mile. It was fun and rewarding as we ran 13.1 miles to recount along the way just how far we had come.
“Remember the first time we ran a 5k?”
“I remember finishing my first 4 mile run. I was exhausted, but it felt so good.”
And then at 9 miles we had run the most consecutive miles we had ever run. We had so many memories to relish as we kind of applauded ourselves for how far we had come.

9. Injuries and obstacles are bound to happen.
Early in my training I suffered a lower back injury that halted my training for nearly four weeks. And in the final three weeks of training I injured my foot. This prevented me from getting in the 10 mile run I had hoped for before race day and limited my training to one 3.5 mile run in those final three weeks. I discovered that my attitude was key during those times. It would have been easy to quit at that point, but I was able to wait patiently and still complete the half marathon goal.

10. My mind and my self talk is powerful.
It is easy to speak lies to myself. It is easy to tell myself that it is too hard or I can’t do it. 13.1 miles showed me how crucial, valuable, and powerful positive self-talk is. When I speak positive truth it has great impact – my thoughts are powerful!

half medal11. Utilize the aid stations.
Water, gatorade, goo, and grapes were necessary parts of the journey. I suppose one could think they are stronger for not needing any of those things along the way, but I would say they are foolish. We can not complete any journey without nourishment. In fact, I unashamedly downed 12 orange quarters at the end of the race!

12. Know the limits and push them.
If I had never pushed the limits in training, I probably wouldn’t have run further than three miles. Mileage beyond that was hard and a 5k was the furthest I had run all at once up until that point. Pushing the limits helped reveal unknown strength.

13. There is always a wall.
“There are no shortcuts to anywhere worth going.” – author unknown
In everything worth pursuing my experience has been that there are walls. The question is, “what will we do when we hit the wall?” Many turn around, stop, or hope it goes away. If knowing the limits and pushing them reveals our ability, then busting through a wall shows the depth of our character, will, and desire. Every big desire we have is on the other side of a wall.

.1 Just a little bit more.
This is not only about the distance, but going “just a little bit more” requires digging deep and finding the reservoirs of inner strength.
What area of your life needs “just a little bit more”?
You are spending time with your kids. What would it look like to spend just a little bit more?
You are working your business. What would it look like to work just a little bit more?
You are loving your spouse. What would it look like to love just a little bit more?

The extraordinary journey is often long, difficult, and tiring, but it is also so worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

Read Joe’s Half Marathon thoughts by clicking here.

Read my half marathon training post by clicking here.

1/2 Marathon: Training

runWhile training for my first half marathon, I wrote out some thoughts and lessons I was learning. The following was written about five months before the race.

I am in the midst of training for my first half marathon. Actually, truth be told, I am in the midst of training for the training for my first half marathon. Every marathon or half marathon training program I have seen begins with the ability to jog or run three easy miles. It does not begin at “Couch to 5k” pace.

Running a half marathon – like most big goals or dreams – is not something we decide to do one day and go out and complete the next. This is especially true for an occasional, recreational runner like me.

Prepping for half marathon training has come with victories, challenges, and some life lessons in living an extraordinary life.

Pay the Price

The first way I payed the price was by actually signing up for a half marathon. I payed the money and the race is on my calendar. I will run (jog) the Sleeping Bear Dunes Half Marathon on October 5, 2014.

The next way I payed the price and will continue to pay the price is through accountability. I committed to my life and business coach that I would exercise four or more days each week. There is a financial risk attached to this commitment.

Obstacles will Arise

I began my training in the gym, on a treadmill. This winter was especially long so many workouts were spent on the treadmill. Three or four weeks into my training I injured my lower back. This was a first for me and I was immobilized for several days. After a full week of no running it was a big challenge to work back up to my previous pace and distance. In fact, it took me longer to regain my distance than it did when I first started. During this time the issue in my back moved to my hip and led to weakness in my left leg. I met with a personal trainer and did the required exercises to get back to full strength. This little obstacle was a three to four week detour in my training.

Use the Buddy System

My husband, Joe, made the decision to join me on this half marathon adventure and that decision has made a huge difference in my training. Now that the weather is better and I am running outside, Joe and I are doing many of our runs together. I have noticed that my pace per mile is almost a full minute faster when I run with Joe. Having a buddy makes a difference!

I have many “buddies” on the half marathon journey. The journey originally began with my friend Rachel who wants to run her first full marathon. We both committed to Sleeping Bear Dunes and signed up the same week. Now Ashley is running the marathon with Rachel. Clay, Lisa, and Terase are all running the half along with Joe and I. These buddies are encouraging me in my running journey each time I see them.

Application

Have you payed the price for your goals by setting a date and being accountable?

Are you so committed that no obstacle will keep you from achieving your goals?

Are you running the extraordinary life race alone or do you have race buddies who are in the thick of it with you, encouraging you along the way?

The extraordinary life is not always easy, but it is always worth it.

Be Extraordinary!

Read Joe’s post-half marathon thoughts by clicking here.

Read my post-half marathon thoughts by clicking here.