An Extra Hour of Life

carribou“Life is getting up an hour early to live an hour more.” -Caribou Coffee

I am generally not a morning person so my personal life motto would read more like this: Life is sleeping in an hour later because you can.

When I read the Caribou coffee-cup quote at an airport recently, I realized that my thinking about life and time are very selfish. I work for myself so I can use my time how I choose. I love that I don’t have to answer to a boss or request a boss’s permission in order to chaperone a field trip, take off for the day with my husband, or grab a long lunch with a girlfriend. These are all good things – freedom!

I wonder whether, because of this freedom I have, am I living the hours I do have in an extraordinary way? Do I hunger for this life and time, and for the difference I can make? An extraordinary life is one lived with hunger, fire, and passion. There must be purpose and vision. There must be direction and drive.

I shared in a previous post how I went through a season recently where life was marked by the “mere passing of time”. Rediscovering my passion and purpose was a process. Reengaging life with hunger and drive took time. But, finding the reason and desire to live more each day is vitally important.

Wherever you are on the journey, may you put more into life and get more out of life in the days, weeks, and months to come.

Are you hungry to get up and live another day?
Are you living your life with purpose?
Does that purpose drive you to get up and get more out (put more in) to your day?

Be Extraordinary!

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.

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!

#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.

Traci’s Test Kitchen: Baked Almond Chicken

I made a decision years ago to embark on the journey toward healthier eating. The philosophy I chose then and still believe in today is that of eating low-glycemic. I also chose long-term lifestyle changes rather than short-term diet fads. This has definitely been a journey of progress, not perfection! (If you would like to learn more about low-gi eating and the program I use and recommend, click here.)

I am a simpleton when it comes to cooking. I thrive in baking more than cooking because I am good at following directions, but not so good at improvising with a little this and that in the kitchen. In fact, when I began this journey I didn’t even own a proper knife. I didn’t even know that I didn’t own a proper knife!

The person who supplied me with the greatest recipes, resources, and support during my slow journey was my friend, Kendra. I am so thankful for Kendra and her patience with the pace of my health journey as well as her patience with my lack of kitchen supplies. It was so bad that Kendra would bring her own knife or peeler to my house, and then eventually gifted me my first set of “real” knives. I feel so professional cutting my veggies now!

Today’s recipe is one that Kendra gave me and it quickly became a family favorite. It fits my criteria of being simple to make with ingredients that don’t require a search on wikipedia.

* Note: The quantities of this recipe are not exact. I actually don’t measure and don’t feel like I need to. You can decide if you like more or different spices, more cheese, etc.

AlmondsBaked Almond Chicken

1-2 pounds fresh chicken tenderloins (This is my favorite cut of chicken for this recipe.)

1 cup ground raw almonds

1 cup fresh grated parmesan (not the stuff in the green can!)

Seasonings to taste (i.e. fresh ground pepper, thyme, oregano, etc.)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 deg.

Mix all dry ingredients.

Coat chicken in dry ingredients and place on a non-stick baking sheet (or parchment paper)

Almond ChickenBake 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite, healthy chicken recipe that meets a criteria of healthy and simple? Please share in the comments below or post to my Facebook page.

This extraordinary journey is tasty and fun. Let’s enjoy it together!

Be Extraordinary!

Don’t Worry. Be Happy.

don't worry be happy“Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don’t worry, be happy
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don’t worry, be happy……”

Those of you born in the 90’s and beyond may not remember this catchy little tune that actually hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for two consecutive weeks in 1988. Those of you who do remember may have the pleasure of this song being stuck in your head for the next two weeks!

Let’s begin with a big parenthesis. “Happy,” as it is used in the English language, is not the goal of this life. For this post, and for the future when this song is stuck in our heads, let’s redefine “happy.”

Happy: extraordinary peace; joy in spite of circumstances; placement of people and situations which I can not change or control into the hands of a God who loves me and wants the best for me.

If you were to make a line with worry on the far left and happy on the far right, where would you place your dot? Where would your marriage dot, parenting dot, financial dot, health dot, safety dot, future dot, and death dot go on that line?

I have a lot of experience with worry. I don’t have a PhD, but I would not say that I am a beginner. (By the way, this isn’t necessarily a good thing!) One thing I know for certain: worry does not serve me. Worry in one area of my life (i.e. finances) impacts areas of my life that are relatively free from worry. Worry impacts my emotions, responses, relationships, productivity, and even the fine lines and wrinkles on my face! Worry is not worth it!

“Don’t worry, be happy” is a choice.

Nobody makes us worry. We choose worry when we hide instead of owning our part in a situation, procrastinate, leave bills unpaid, don’t communicate clearly, and don’t resolve grievances.

What are you doing — or not doing — that is causing worry in your life?
Honestly evaluate key areas of life (dots listed above).
Take 15 minutes and come up with a solution or take an action that will move your spirit in the direction of happy.

John 10:10 says that Jesus came so that we might have “life, more and better life than we ever dreamed of.” That is the kind of extraordinary life I want to live; how about you?

Be Extraordinary!

4 Reasons to Work on YOU!

4 reasonsPersonal development is an absolute necessity to live an extraordinary life. My first real experience with this type of learning (besides life events) was in 2007 when I attended a weekend, experiential, personal growth and development seminar. Since then I have attended many more seminars and trainings. I have also read and listened to books to enhance my personal growth and learning.

The method of gaining knowledge is not as important as the consistency of learning and the application of the knowledge. I attend seminars, submit myself to one-on-one coaching, and read/listen to books that force me to see where I currently am and challenge me to live out more of my potential.

There are many benefits of taking the time and spending the money to learn more in this area of personal development. Remember that the benefits will only be experienced by taking action, making changes, and being held accountable to help the changes stick long-term.

Encouragement
Discouragement comes in life. Shocking, right? I am amazed at how many times my area of frustration in business or parenting is addressed in the books I am reading. It is encouraging to find a solution and to discover that I’m not the only one who has experienced the same struggle. Personal development is a great way to combat discouragement.

Challenge
The books I read, coaching I receive, seminars I attend are not just fluffy, feel-good, rah-rah times of encouragement. I am challenged – challenged to look honestly at MY behavior and choices. (Remember this is personal development.) If you are not being challenged then you may want to change what you are reading or listening to.

Growth
This is where the learning meets real life. Am I going to take the challenge I received and do something about it? It is in the process of living out our awareness (challenges) that I experience real growth. I change! Change is difficult and this is where accountability comes in. Not many people have the sheer will-power to make big changes stick. I am thankful for my husband, coach, and others who hold my feet to the fire so I can grow, change, and live a truly extraordinary life.

Impact
This, to me, is the exciting and rewarding part of personal development. During and after difficult periods of growth and change, I have the opportunity to take what I have learned and impact others. Many talk about wanting to change the world but don’t know how. I think the best way to change to the world is to first change ourselves – one lesson, one habit, one challenge at a time.

The cost of living an extraordinary life is often high, but always worth it!

Be Extraordinary!