Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Dreams Don't Expire

It's Never Too Late
For more than the last week I have been watching bits and pieces of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Like anyone else, I have my favorite events to watch; snowboarding, skating, and downhill skiing. Some events I pass on; not because they aren't interesting, but because I just don't get them, lol. I don't understand the logic or the thrill the athletes get. But that's the thing. Who am I to judge whether something is good or bad, when my ONLY expertise is that I know nothing about it? I would never say it's stupid or a waste of their time, just because it isn't something I would want to do. If they have the talent and the desire I would encourage them to keep going.

Dreams come in all shapes and sizes and they don't come with an expiration date. Is there something you've always wanted to do or accomplish, but it hasn't come to fruition yet? What is holding you back? Is it timing? Is it not having enough time? Is it financial backing? Is it motivation? Is it because you have other responsibilities to take care of?

Are there people who try discourage you? Do you they give you comments like, 'You're crazy to do that at your age? 'Why would you want to do that?' or 'You know, 9 out of 10 people fail at that so why would you even bother?'

To succeed at anything we need to push ourselves and not give up. We need people to support and encourage us (even if they think we're crazy for trying). Don't let other people determine your successes and failures; it's YOUR future. What's the worst thing that can happen? You try to achieve your dream and it doesn't pan out quite the way you always imagined? But guess what? Succeed or not, YOU have to live with your own conscience. YOU will be the one that knows whether you gave up because it was easier not to try. YOU are the one that will need to live with your choices. 

Yes, whether you succeed or not isn't the real issue; the issue is that you shouldn't give up on yourself. You shouldn't let society dictate to you what is an acceptable goal and when we are allowed to pursue it. If you're married or single, have kids or not, have a job or are currently unemployed, you still have every right to pursue your dreams. Sure, there are times in our lives when we're younger that perhaps we may have more energy to try something super athletic, but in 2010 I attempted to walk in a 3 day 60-mile fundraising walk. I was in my middle 40s at the time, did months and months of training, and was passed up many times by people on the route who were 30 years older than me. The didn't give up. They inspired me to push harder and instead of thinking, 'Can I do this?' I started to think,  'I CAN DO THIS!'.

What is your dream? Are you still trying to grasp it? How can we help you get there?

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

For The Love of Valentine's Day

My husband and I have a tradition of buying each other a card on Valentine's Day. Some years the cards have been more serious, some have been mushy, and some are silly. After 35 years of cards it can be difficult to find something unique. Going out on Valentine's Day for dinner was one of our first dates (I think it was actually our third). It turned out to be a make or break kind of date. I was overwhelmed; fancy restaurant, charming guy, falling snow, cool music, etc. He thought I wasn't interested and wasn't going to call me afterward. So what did I do? I waited a week and I called him! Needless to say, we had a fourth date and a fifth.

Valentine's Day for us can be pretty casual. We don't need to buy each other fancy gifts or go out for an expensive dinner. For us, we usually end up with a pizza and kicking back to just enjoy each other's company.

Don't get caught up in the Hallmark and candy side of the holiday. If you plan to celebrate at all, make a card (or buy one without all the bling), go for a walk, hold hands, and just enjoy the moment. Do something that feels special for you.

Yesterday I was looking at cards and came upon two other shoppers doing the same. We all took turns reading the cards and then flipping them over to look at the price. When did a good Valentine's card go up to $7.99? Oh my! One gentleman looked and looked and finally chose THE CARD he wanted and then grinned and proudly said, 'I'm getting the $8.00 card! You ladies have a nice night.'

I laughed and told the other lady that after 35 years it was getting more and more difficult to get the right card. She said, 'Wow! 35 years? That's awesome. I've only been married for four years. I think that's great you still buy each other cards.'

Who knew that standing in a store looking at an aisle of over-priced pink and red greeting cards could be an opportunity for three strangers to bond and have a real conversation?

In the end I picked out my perfect card (never mind what I paid for it, lol) and will tell my sweetie tomorrow that I love him, like I do every morning and every evening.

What will your Valentine's Day look like?

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

When You View A Talent As An Obstacle

Those that know me know that it is in my DNA to be organized, a list-maker, and a planner. I cannot help it, it is what I do. I've always been about being on time (although for me to be early is to be on time and to be on time is to be late, lol). I think and over think about lists, deadlines, and the consequences. I have a sense of tunnel vision; I look at deadlines as the big picture and everything that must be accomplished in order to get there. For years though I looked at my skill set as being a weakness.

I've had previous bosses come to me with a vision, a project, or a goal. Their gift was to be the visionary, have the idea of what they wanted to achieve. My gift was to look at all the details and things that would need to be done in order to make it happen. But as soon as I would start to remind them of the deadlines they would say, 'Whoa, you need to relax and learn to just go with the flow.' What? Were they really serious? Did they have a magic wand that I was unaware of? Would the results they were expecting mysteriously just fall in to place without any effort? Highly unlikely. 

After dealing with several bosses that thought that way I started to think there was something wrong with me; something wrong with my desire to get results. But guess what? There wasn't anything wrong with the way I thought or my process. Without my skill set a lot of their visions wouldn't have come to the fruition they did and the goals would not have been met when they wanted. I am all about being part of a 'team'. A good team sees and appreciates the strengths and skills of each member. A good team is a puzzle, but when a piece is missing it is not complete.

I spent a lot of time soul searching, looking at my skills, and finally being able to appreciate them for the asset they are. The way I see it, God made me the way that I am. He gave me the tools I needed to do the things I do and the desire to want to use them for good. I decided it was wrong for anyone to have a God-given talent and then to waste it. 

Learn to embrace your character and your talents. Everyone's are different which is what helps make the puzzle complete. We need each other. We need to appreciate each other's talents. There are things I know I cannot do at all and then there are tasks that although I try I can admit I am not very good at, which makes me appreciate other people's talents that much more.

What is one of your strongest talents? 
Do people appreciate it or make you feel weird about it just because it is different than theirs?

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Have The Conversation

A conversation is a dialogue made up of at least two voices. Ironically, though, some people think it is about one person mentioning a topic and then someone else speaking A LOT. The second person will start out by sharing their point of view and then it's like a 'snowball down the hill' effect. They talk, then talk some more, then keep talking until the eyes of the first person start to glaze over. It tends to gain momentum as it goes. It's normal for all of us to feel passionate about certain topics, but that doesn't necessarily mean that we know what we are talking about or that we even have our facts in order. We could just be sharing our opinion disguised as fact. Yet, the inner seasoned debater can come out in all of us. We're determined to persuade the other person that our opinion is the right opinion and they should share it.

Want to know what I mean, just watch or listen to any political talk show. The seasoned anchor will do their darnedest to convince you that their point of view is the only one that matters. Now whether the opinion shared is actually theirs or their bosses remains to be determined. But that's neither here nor there.

The thing about real conversations is that if executed correctly we can actually learn more by listening than by talking. A little give and take and equal talk time can teach both parties a lot. If we only want to hear ourselves talk and never listen to anyone else we may as well just have a solo monologue in our car. Then we know we'll never have to argue because the only one listening is us. BUT, if we actually want to discover something about our character and more than just the answer to the topic, we should make a conversation more like a chess match ... make your point (or move your chess piece), then hit the buzzer, then sit back, then wait for a thought out response, wait your turn and then go again. What a concept, huh?

It's okay not to know it all. Take a chance and have the conversation. In the end, you may learn something new.

Do you have those people in your life that like to dominate the conversation? 
How do you handle it?

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Look Forward With Anticipation

Sometimes I get inspiration for a blog post from something I've seen or heard. Situations like these are the best source; the conversations and actions are very real and spontaneous. I was recently part of a conversation regarding 'getting over and past the various struggles that we all face at one point or another'. We talked about the uncertainties that many of us face with with our faith and the ongoing question of WHY something happens; an illness, a death, the loss of a job. WHY would a God so great stand by and watch bad things happen to good people? Many of us question the WHY every day.

Fortunately, we tend to gain perspective as the years go by. When we are initially going through a struggle it's at the forefront of our lives; it's all we can see and all we can focus on. It's only later as time goes by that we recognize the good that came out of the bad. Our character became stronger. Our wisdom got deeper. Our priorities became more clear. 

One person shared that they've learned to look with anticipation at what is coming next. We like to believe that God won't ever give us more than we can handle, that He will provide us with the strength we need to get through and past the struggles. If we focus less on the overwhelming worry of the struggle and think more about 'what is God's plan for me?' the strain on our shoulders may lighten a bit. They shared that when facing a struggle they often find themself wondering, 'What is in store for me down the road, because this struggle is bigger than anything I would have planned? It must be key to God's plan for me.' What an amazing perspective to have.

When you're part of a conversation, it's so important to listen to all sides. You may just walk away with the nugget of strength you need.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Sunday, January 7, 2018

CHANGE Is Always Just Around The Corner

Some of us spend a lot of time trying to figure life out. We try to anticipate what will come next so we can better prepare ourselves, but things are always changing. Sometimes change is a good thing and sometimes it can be overwhelming. Some changes are overdue and welcomed, others can send us into a tizzy and make us feel defensive.

I was speaking with a group of ladies the other day and we were discussing some of the current changes in our lives. Our schedules have become different. Some of our longtime holiday traditions are changing. Our routines are becoming different each year. A lot of these changes are to be expected as we get older, as our children grow up and have families of their own, and as our family dynamics change. These changes will take time and patience to grow accustomed to them, but we will need to find a way to accept the changes. 

Then there are the changes that turn our lives temporarily upside down. We lose a job as the companies we work for downsize or merge. We get an unwelcome diagnosis from our doctor. We unexpectedly lose a loved one. These are the kinds of changes that we aren't expecting and have no control over. We have no time to prepare ourselves; we are dealt a blow and left to deal with it. These changes will take time (sometimes it will take a long time and that's okay).

If you are facing a change that you feel is wrong or not in your best interest, it is okay to challenge it in a healthy and well thought out way (if you are in a position to). IF despite your best efforts the change still happens, you will need to find a way to accept it and move on. It's not healthy to hold on to the baggage it will leave behind or the strain on your shoulders. If nothing else, you will know in your heart that you did everything you could, that you tried to be a part of the solution. There's nothing worse than not being happy about something and then some day realizing that you never did anything constructive to try to cope with it.

While sitting with this group of ladies I was reminded of the serenity prayer.

Next time you are expected to welcome a change of some sort, remember this prayer. It always helps me to gain perspective, helps calm my nerves, and lessens the strain on my shoulders just enough to move forward.

Is there change in your life right now? A positive one or a negative one? How are you handling it and more importantly do you have a support system in place to help you deal with it? 

Keep in mind, the best thing we can do for someone else is after we ask them 'How are you doing?' be prepared to actually listen to their response.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

A Fresh Perspective For The New Year

Most every writer feels compelled to write something about New Year's Eve at the end of December; including myself. But what can we write that is new and hasn't been said before? There are only so many ways to talk about resolutions and goals and dreams for the new year. Whether you will bunker down for the night with a book or a movie and a bowl of popcorn OR whether you will get dressed up and venture out to celebrate midnight and the 'dropping ball of lights' with friends. 

The last week, for many, has been a long one. With the Christmas and New Year's holidays falling on weekends many people had the week in between off of work or school, giving many of us a much needed break. A lot of people spent weeks preparing for Christmas; the cooking, the cleaning, the shopping, and the entertaining ... that when December 26th hit most of us could be heard letting out a big sigh. Don't get me wrong, I looked forward to the holiday like everyone else, but then there's a point where you long for 24 hours with absolutely nothing to do. For me, that will most likely be tomorrow; New Year's Day, lol.

This morning my pastor asked how many people planned to make a resolution for 2018. The raise of hands was about 50/50. Many people will make a resolution that they will lose the same 10# as last year, or try to get more organized, or start the dreaded exercise program, or finally begin that special project that is always sitting on the back burner waiting for 'some day' to arrive. The others will not commit to a goal because for some reason they are never quite able to achieve what they set out before them. Perhaps the goal is too redundant or just out of reach, or they have to overcome road blocks that get thrown in their way. Maybe they just need to take some time to reflect and focus on something new.

Personally I don't make New Year's resolutions anymore, not because I always fail (sometimes I actually succeed) but because I like to take the pressure off myself to start over every January 1st. See, that's the thing; a new season can start whenever you choose for it to. Maybe on February 17th you'll have an epiphany that it's the right time to tackle your goal. Perhaps on June 1st you'll decide to make an important choice about the direction of your future.

Your life is YOUR own journey. When and if you succeed in climbing your personal mountains will happen when it is right for you - not when the calendar says it's the day to do it. No two people are alike, making it reasonable that everyone's journeys won't always align on the same days.

Don't set yourself up for failure. Don't try to force your life to match up with everyone else's. Instead, use this New Year's holiday for reflection. Think about the direction your life is currently going and think about whether or not you'd like to see something change. Maybe there is a part of your life that needs some work or to be strengthened. Those are questions only YOU can ask. The answers are at your fingertips just waiting for you to grab hold of them. Give yourself all the time and grace you need. You are worth it.

In the mean time I wish you lessons learned as you look back at 2017 and the courage you need to make your life what you want in 2018.