Choose Life!

ChooseLifeDaisy“Choose life! Only that and always! At whatever risk. To let life leak out, to let it wear away by the mere passage of time, to withhold giving and spending it is to choose nothing.” -Sister Helen Kelly

Wow! That is a powerful statement!

I admit, the past few months have not been months where I squeezed every ounce out of life. It has been a time of healing, some numbness, sadness (and joy), and even depression. I do believe there is a time for every season, and this was a season on the melancholy side of life. However, I also believe there is an end to every season and that without intentional action I would remain in my previous season for many more months.

I realized, while listening to some speakers at my recent business convention, that I am ready to move forward. I am ready to experience energy, passion, and the extraordinary life that I love so much. I do not want another day, week, or month to go by and have it be marked by the “mere passage of time.”

ChooseLifeI choose life! I choose to make the effort necessary to engage my life. I choose to engage my senses . . .
– breathing in the scents of fresh air and a new rain
– taking in the sights of a beautiful sunrise and clouds that look like fire
– listening to the laughter of my family
– touching the soft skin of my children as I tuck them in at night
– tasting my food and enjoying the flavor of each bite

There is so much to experience in this life.

Is your life marked by the mere passing of time or are you fully engaged?
What experiences and senses energize your life and passions?
Will you choose life right now? What step will you take today?

Be Extraordinary!

Joe’s 40 for 40 . . My Perspective

Joe bday cardsOn May 24 my husband turned the big 4-0! There are times in life when we take extra care to look back over our lives and look forward to what lies ahead. Turning 40 is definitely one of those moments.

I spent my 40th birthday on a beautiful beach in Hawaii with Joe and our friends Andy and Jodie. Then, twenty-four days later, I celebrated the next phase of life by donating my kidney.

My friend Danny celebrated his 40th birthday recently by running 40 miles with a different friend or family member each running one mile with him. It was a great picture of how we ought to run the race of life.

It took my husband, Joe, 40 days to turn 40. Joe took the 40 days leading up to his 40th birthday to write a post on his blog. Many of you read Joe’s posts and know that they were not fluffy little notes about his first 40 years of life. There were no short-cuts. Each post was filled with humor (of course!), events, stories, meaning, and challenge to live life outside the confines of the comfortable boat. You can read his 40 for 40 here.

Whether you read every blog post or not, there is something I’m confident you did not see. . . behind the scenes. Here is a behind-the-scenes glance of 40 blogs in 40 days from my perspective.

Joe lived these 40 days with incredible discipline. He set the alarm clock earlier and even avoided the snooze button. He stayed up later on many occasions. Sometimes this involved conversations with coaches, writing blog posts, or thinking through ideas. There were photo albums opened and pored through looking for pictures. (You know, the ones you remember seeing, but have no idea where they actually are. Oh, and not everything is digital!)

On top of the discipline of producing a meaningful blog post each and every day for 40 days, other aspects of life did not stop or even slow down. Joe did not take 40 days off from his job at Lake Ann Camp. In fact life around here is amping up with summer camp right around the corner. Home life did not slow down either. Kids still need their dad and he did not let them down. Joe and I are also in the midst of navigating one of our most difficult seasons to date. (Don’t worry, not marriage issues, but still a matter for lots of prayer!)

If it is importantIt is in the midst of life and challenge that I have personally witnessed Joe take on 40 blogs in 40 days. It would have been easy to do nothing because work is demanding, family life is busy, situations are stressful, and a number of other excuses. It is in these moments – when it seems most inconvenient – that the greatest impact happens and the greatest results in life occur.

This is Joe. He is not just telling us how to live the Overboard, out-of-the-boat life. He is showing us how to live that kind of extraordinary life.

This is not about writing blogs, running great distances, or giving kidneys. It is about letting go of the comfortable, ordinary, common life and choosing to live for something greater. It is giving, inspiring, impacting, and living bigger than we ever thought possible. It is making a difference first in our own lives and then allowing that to make a difference in others.

What about you? What step do you need to take next? Is there a challenge you are avoiding because the timing,  money, fear, or feelings of “too hard” are keeping you from getting started? The extraordinary life is not always the easiest or most comfortable life, but it is the life worth living.

Be Extraordinary!

Farewell Moomers, Paper Piles, and Candy Crush (Part II)

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. (Read about my “yo-yo” here.)

The first step in crushing the yo-yo is to determine what is holding you back.
As I shared in part I, the top three things currently holding me back the most are sugar, paper piles, and iPad games. My commitment to these three is keeping my goals and dreams at arm’s length month after month and year after year. Acknowledging what holds me back makes me responsible. From this point on, I choose. I either choose to address this beast or ignore it, but either way I choose. I am choosing to engage these top three in battle — and I will win.

Yes, I say with confidence, “I will win!” How do I know I will win? Because I am burning the boats like Hernan Cortes in 1519. During the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the commander scuttled his ships so that his men would have to conquer or die. There was literally no going back. In the same way, I am not giving myself an out or a return pass to my former life. I am creating my future by making a decision, creating boundaries, and setting up strong accountability. Come back to my next blog post where I will discuss the hard-core accountability necessary to ensure success.

The Three Boats I Am Burning:

ice cream mmm#1 Sugar
I am breaking up with sugar for good. It does not serve me – mentally, physically, emotionally, or spiritually. I have toyed with this breakup many times, but enough is finally enough.

“What does this mean?” you ask.
No sweets, desserts, soda, candy or sugary treats.

“When will you eat these delicious treats again?” you ask.
I won’t. Yes, I have considered the plethora of sugary opportunities that will come my way. No, this was not a light or easy decision.

#2 Paper Piles
I am done making excuses about the mounds of paper on my desk, the kitchen counter, bookshelf, and any other flat surface in the house. I am done watching my stress increase with the increasing mounds.

“How will you eliminate all of this paper?” you ask.
I will set a timer for fifteen minutes and work on these piles every day I am home.

“How will you keep these paper piles from returning?” you ask.
Fifteen minutes a day. This is my new habit for life. Yes, for life.

candy crush#3 iPad Games
I went 100 days without iPad games last fall and was amazed at how much I did not miss them. I will enjoy using this newly acquired time blogging, reading, crocheting, playing a game, connecting with my family, and working on my business to build our future and our fortune.

What is holding you back from living the life of your dreams? What are you willing to say “farewell” to for good?

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

Blessing in Disguise

20131108-093403.jpgI really do not like having life mess with my plans. (My husband, Joe, and my parents are probably laughing hysterically already). Coming home to a messy house, a call from the school, a cancelled appointment, a spill down the front of my shirt – any of these things – can get the best of me. I was reminded today that I often don’t see what happens as a result of an unforeseen change-of-plans. These changes can, and often do, create greater blessing than we will ever know. I just so happened to have the privilege of knowing about the other end/side of one of these “things didn’t go as planned” moments.

Recently, I have had the privilege of getting to know Julie through Facebook and Skype. She has an amazing story and she is walking through her story in an extraordinary manner. She was scheduled to have surgery, so I decided to order her flowers and have them sent to the hospital. (I live in Michigan and she lives in Oregon). The surgery was quite major and I was under the impression that Julie would remain at the hospital for at least a week, so scheduling the flowers for five days later seemed reasonable.

On flower delivery day I received a call from the man in charge of shipping and receiving at the hospital. He said, “Nobody by that name is here.” Then he did something unheard of (unheard of to me). After he did some checking, he wondered if I would like to have the flowers delivered to her home. Really? Yes sir, please and thank you. He didn’t even ask for an address (which was good because I didn’t have one).

What had happened? Julie was released from the hospital after four days, then headed from Corvalis, Oregon to Seattle, Washington for another procedure. She arrived home several days later. This is what happened next, in Julie’s own words:

“So here’s life doing what life does – which usually works out so much better than I could have planned. I just got home – feeling drained – sick of feeling sick and tired of infusions, tired of doctors and pretty much have felt like I was on the sinking ship by myself. There sits this box on the stairs. Something else I need to get up to my room. Literally in tears I open this box and out pops this amazing plant and planter, which totally did their job in adding a smile to my face. Reminding me to press on – this is when recovery gets hard. The perfect thing happens to what I assume could only be against your plan as the hospital sent it to me from there. Thank you a million times! I am now reminded to be extraordinary and why sometimes our timing isn’t everything. It was perfectly needed today!”

Bouquet from ProFlowers.com

Bouquet from ProFlowers.com

Julie’s story is my reminder that next time things don’t seem to be going according to my perfect little plan, there is another side to the story. And most likely it is a blessing in disguise — or at least that’s the way I will choose to see it.

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!