The Chicken or The Egg?

chickenOReggIn 2010 my husband, Joe, began the official journey of writing his first book. He was writing for a daily devotional site and one particular week he wrote a series on the life of Joseph. The readers gave tremendous feedback and wanted to read and learn more. This was the inspiration Joe needed to get his dream of writing a book off the ground.

So, what came first – the inspiration or the writing?

Think about the question this way: What if Joe had simply been waiting for inspiration (the right thoughts, ideas, audience, a publishing company to offer him a book deal)? Would the book be written?

I venture to say that he would not have been writing for the devotional site in the first place if he was waiting for inspiration, waiting for the invite, waiting for the phone call, or waiting for the eager audience to emerge.

The writing came first.

ProjectJosephWriting daily was just the beginning. This daily habit and desire to share with others caused Joe to pursue writing for the daily devotional site. He was not invited. Well, it was a very loose invitation and it required initial action on Joe’s part. After several months of writing, the devotional series on Joseph emerged and was ultimately the catalyst for putting those initial thoughts into the pages of a book. Project Joseph is an amazing tool for dealing with past pain and gaining a new, life-changing perspective.

Are you waiting for inspiration before you take action on your dreams? What action do you need to take or what habit must become part of your daily life so that you are in a place where inspiration can appear.

When inspiration comes, will you be ready to receive and act on it? I hope so!

Be Extraordinary!

Bulbs Bulbs Bulbs

daff bulbsOne thing I learned after making it through the long Northern Michigan winter of 2012-2013 was how much I crave color come spring. “Spring” is a loose term here. We experienced snow on the ground from November until May, and my craving for color showed up sometime in early April. Perhaps it was all of the Facebook photos of blossoms and green grass from my friends in the lush Oregon valley. Or perhaps it was because white was the only “color” I had seen outside in more than five months (not even gray pavement).

When “spring” arrived in early May the snow was melting and my tulip bulbs were peeking through the snow-covered flower beds. I have about fifteen tulip bulbs that come through and ten that bloom. These tulips are here from the previous occupant of our home. I had intended to fill up the flower bed last fall but never really got around to it. In this part of the country, if you don’t get the bulbs planted by early October then it probably isn’t going to happen. That was the case for me last year, but not this year!

sm bulbI enjoyed a beautiful Sunday afternoon of bulb planting in early September. As I held the bulbs, dug the holes, and breathed in the wonderful scents of the outdoors, I thought about and envisioned what “fruit” all my labor would produce. I was dreamed about spring (while taking in as many warm days of fall as I could).

The seeds and bulbs don’t look like much – they are not beautiful – and they aren’t even colorful. The work was tedious and a little tiresome (I planted 44 bulbs!) I don’t even have anything to show for my labor except some fluffed up dirt in the flower bed. In fact, come December, February, and even April I will likely have no signs of color. I don’t even have a guarantee that they are going to emerge from the dirt or bloom into color.

BUT I have hope. I did the work. I made the investment. And, with hope, I trust that the results with come.

bulbs in handSo often (almost everyday) I want to see the results of my efforts now. Instant gratification does not usually bring about the real and lasting results I really desire. Because the results I desire don’t come fast enough, sometimes I slack on the effort and investment I make today. It doesn’t seem like it will make that big of difference, but six months from now when there are no flowers in the flowerbed, vacations taken, work promotions, or meaningful relationships, I will know why.

What about you? Is there an area of your life where some bulbs need to be planted so that in the season(s) to come you will have fruit? Please share your thoughts in the the comment box; let’s see if we can encourage each other to make the investments and plant the bulbs now that will lead to an extraordinary life. I will go first.

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!

Waiting for Tomorrow . . or Not!

photoEvery day.
Every week.
Every month.
Every year. . . until it is complete.

Are you that committed to your big, hairy, audacious goals (BHAGs)?
Most of us fit better with Mandisa’s song, Waiting for Tomorrow.
“Maybe tomorrow I’ll start over
Maybe tomorrow I will finally change my ways
Said the same thing yesterday
Don’t know why I’m so afraid.”

Often it feels easier to make plans for tomorrow than to live out those plans today regardless of the results we may see immediately. Who doesn’t want big results with little effort? The most successful people appear to be sitting there while money, friends, and accolades are poured into their laps. But at a closer glance, most successful people have daily habits (that they follow) which over time produce results.

Jordan Kemper is one of the most successful young men in the company I work with. His success appears to come so easily and I think it does–now. I heard Jordan share about the struggles he faced in the first year of his business. Nothing came easy and it didn’t look like success would come at all. What did Jordan do? He kept working. He did what he knew was right. He didn’t take short-cuts. He worked his butt off and followed the wisdom of his mentors. Daily. Weekly. Monthly . . . until success came and kept coming!

We can create that too if we are willing to pay the price up front.

Are you willing to pay the price of working daily for your goals and dreams? Are you willing to work at that relationship, that pile of debt, that book you’ve been meaning to write, that business venture daily, weekly, and monthly until you see the results you desire?

It isn’t always easy, but paying the price up front is always worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

Moomers, Paper Piles, and Candy Crush (Part I)

I am a yo-yo. Not a silly, goofy girl (although some have seen that side of me). I am a yo-yo goal-getter. I’m on, then off, then on again. I’m on health kicks and business runs and then I’m not. This is very problematic when it comes to achieving big goals. The short goals (30 days or less) are not so bad, but some of the things I want for my life and business as well as dreams that Joe and I have together are bigger than a 30-day challenge or even a 100-day challenge!

After many years playing yo-yo, I am finally saying “ENOUGH!” I want the goals – the life of my dreams – more than I want to stay in my yo-yo comfort zone.

How do you stop the yo-yo?

Determine what is holding you back.
When you look at your goals and dreams, what is that one (or two or three) constant that keeps showing up and robbing you of those dreams? If you are like me, at least one of these answers will come to your mind without any hesitation.
Most of us know what our Achilles heel is in life. And, if you’re like me, you won’t want to speak that answer out loud. Why? Because acknowledging what holds me back now makes me responsible. From this point on, I choose. I either choose to address this beast or ignore it, but either way I choose.

Maybe you can relate to one of the three biggies that are holding me back:
moomers open#1 Moomers
Moomers has been voted the best ice cream in America by Good Morning America and I would have to agree – it’s amazing! Moomers is not actually holding me back, but represents one of my biggest struggles – sugar! I love sweets! When I consume sweets . . . I eat too much, I crave more sugar, I have less energy, I gain weight, I am moody (more than usual), etc. Sweets do not serve me.

paper piles#2 Paper Piles
These paper piles include bills, junk mail, important mail, receipts, forms for the kids. Paper piles are overtaking my desk, kitchen counter, table, bookshelf, and any other available flat surface. Seeing the piles causes me stress. I don’t work well in the chaos; phone numbers are misplaced; important documents are missing and we don’t even know it. Do I need to continue? I think you get the point. All of these things cause me stress and I am not very productive in the midst of them.

ipad apps#3 Candy Crush
I enjoy Candy Crush along with a lot of other games for my iPad. I like the challenge. If I am honest, these games contribute more to wasting my time than building my mental muscles. When I choose to play one of these games I am often avoiding other things that need to be done. I play longer than I intend to, meaning that I stay up later or don’t accomplish important tasks. “Just one more time.” I’ve said that more times than I can count – to myself and my family.

So, there they are. Three things that are holding me back from living the life of my dreams. What are yours? Can you identify one, two, or three? Are you willing to name them “out loud” in the comment box below?

Identification is good, but there is more. Part II is coming.

Seriously pursuing the life of your dreams is not easy, but it is worth it!

Be Extraordinary!

New Year’s Resolution . . in February!

new day resolutionWhat resolutions have you made for this new year? Is your response like mine? You answer “no” along with a little head shake because you KNOW that resolutions don’t work! Maybe you did set a resolution and it has already been broken. So often resolutions are broken and it seems that many are set with the idea that they will be broken. Due to the lack of accomplishment I have resisted setting New Years resolutions. I have set goals and talked of dreams for the new year . . . and broken those too so really the wording doesn’t matter.

I do know people who have had success with resolutions. Like AJ who went one year without candy or soda, I went a year without fast food or soda which was a huge accomplishment at the time. A friend went a year without French fries. Resolve is necessary to accomplish these goals and the personal discipline required is huge.

By means of accountability, and to set the stage for many of my blogs this year, here are my 2014 resolutions:
I resolve to create freedom in three areas of my life.
I resolve to be healthy by releasing weight.
I resolve to be wealthy by releasing debt.
I resolve to be peaceful by releasing stress.

** NOTE: I originally wrote this blog towards the end of January. It is still very fitting and lines up perfectly with some posts to come in the near future.

This is just the beginning. I cannot create freedom, health, wealth and peace by simply making these statements or reading them daily. I have a detailed action plan for each one. I have several levels of accountability in place in each area. These statements, however, give me an easy filter for all of my choices. When facing a food decision I can ask myself, “Does this move me toward health?” When choosing how involved to be in an activity I can ask myself, “Will this promote peace?” Arriving at my goals and accomplishing my resolutions is ultimately a matter of choice. Every choice matters – big choices and, especially, small choices.

Have you resolved to make this year different than the previous year, or the previous 5 years? Today – right now – is the best time to get started!
What are your resolutions? Is it time to put some on paper?
What choices will you make today to move you in the direction of your dreams and goals?

It’s not always easy, but it’s always worth it!

Be Extraordinary!