Do You Inspire Others?

Extraordinary kidsOne night the kids and I were hanging out in the living room. I was on the couch with Celina snuggled on my lap. She is 8 years old, but I think she will always find a way to snuggle on my lap! BJ was in the chair working on a drawing and AJ was standing near us. I don’t remember exactly what he was doing, but probably tossing a ball in the air as he is often found with a ball in his hands.

The topic of conversation moved to BJ and her desire to be a fashion designer. She loves fashion, style, and music. AJ asked her a question or two and BJ’s response indicated that her belief about the fashion designing dreams were mere fantasies – she didn’t really believe they could become reality. AJ jumped on this disbelief quickly and reminded her of her passion, talent, and skills. He said in a number of words and number of ways, “You can do it!”

At this moment Celina piped in with a statement that added fuel to the energy building in the room. She said,

“AJ, you always say stuff that makes us feel like our dreams can come true.”

AJ quoteIn the hour that followed papers were pulled out, drafts of ideas were made, and brainstorm lists were created. BJ created outfit designs. Celina had a list of her dreams consisting of a big red barn, farmhouse, and all the animals that we would find there. AJ has plenty of dreams of his own. He plans to be a wise and godly business man – first with USANA and then owning his own store by the time he is 30.

The greatest thing about all of this was the belief that I saw well up in each child. There was great excitement, energy, and bonding between the kids. They were helping each other and even discussing how each one would help the other in the achievement of their dreams.

Without even realizing it, AJ showed leadership that night. He inspired greatness in his younger sisters. He uncovered and stoked their belief.

When you are in the room, what do you inspire in others? What conversations are created because of your questions? Is there energy, positivity, and belief in your presense? I think we all can learn a valuable lesson about the extraordinary life from AJ’s example – I know that I can!

Be Extraordinary!

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!

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.

5,000 Thank Yous!

thank you
Starting a blog has been a challenging and humbling experience. I published my first post in September of 2013. After more than a year of consideration and much gentle persuasion by my husband, I took the plunge. This week the blog has reached 5,000 views and if I could I would send out 5,000 thank-yous!
5,000 views later I am so grateful for the journey, but I really hesitated to begin a blog . . .
First, I’m not a writer. (Not sure I can still say that since I have now written more than 45 posts.) However, if blogging were purely about eloquence I’m not sure anyone would follow this blog. I love reading eloquent blogs, but that isn’t me. This blog is an avenue to share my story in my words and with my personality.
(Note: I am super grateful for my friend, Sharilyn, who graciously edits this blog so you don’t have to read a constant flow of sentences ending in prepositional phrases!)
Secondly, there is a vulnerability and humbleness in blogging. After all, I am placing my mistakes, challenges, and personal thoughts in a post and inviting others to read, contemplate, and give feedback. I have grown in this area and although I desire positive feedback from my readers, the learning process I am going through is worth putting myself out there in the open.
Here is my realization:  blogging is just one way to express my journey and desire to live an extraordinary life. It is not an isolated experience – it is my life. I share my life, journey, and experiences through Facebook, church small group, business, ministry, and blogging. It is about connecting, inspiring, challenging, and moving people (including myself) toward a more extraordinary life.
Get connected – share your life with others. Be inspired and inspire others. Embrace challenge. Allow yourself to be moved. The extraordinary life is worth it!
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!