Tag: gratitude

5 Things I’ve Learned About Change

One quarter of 2018 is past. It’s supposed to be a year of metamorphosis around here, but what has really changed? If nothing else, I’ve learned a few things about the process of making changes.

In January, I posted my word for the year. I made a lovely graphic.

And then a few weeks later, I adopted a new branding design. Which included a lovely new logo.

Things were off to a metamorphic start. Oh yes.

I penned blogs about what was changing: career,website and me. And maybe a few people even read them.

But when change happens to someone else, it doesn’t affect us. I mean, really. Other people move or find a new job or send a kid to college. We might feel for them (especially if we’ve experienced these changes before), but there’s no metamorphosis in our life when that happens.

1. Change Takes Purpose

Let me explain this. Things change in our lives without our PERMISSION. That’s a circumstance.

In order for us to truly “become something better” there has be be purposeful change.

For example, we get laid off. That was a job we loved and felt called to do. Now we hit the streets to find a new job. After a few dozen applications and some not-so-fruitful interviews, we are offered a new position and we accept it.

However, the new job might end up being only a circumstance. If we don’t embrace this new place and employ our gifts toward this different mission, we won’t change.

WE won’t change.

Just because circumstances change, it doesn’t follow that we will change.

So when life throws you a new circumstance, be a good Marine. Adapt. Improvise. Overcome. And most of all, set your mind to making the most of it so you become a better person.

2. Some Change is Excruciating

I have no idea what the caterpillar feels inside a cocoon. I’ve always imagined the little guy spun his secure bed, fell asleep and woke up as a butterfly.

We aren’t caterpillars. If we sleep through a change, nothing will happen.

My experience this past year is that the longer I’ve been in one place, the more difficult it is to change. More than that, it’s often an unpleasant experience.

Think of it this way, your car is stuck in the mud. You rev the motor. Wheels spin. You sink further into the mud. The more you struggle to get out of the rut, the deeper you get into it.

So it is with changing something that has been static for many, many years.

In order to pull ourselves out of the rut, there’s going to be external force needed. And then there will be internal struggles to accept that application of brutality.

Metamorphosis in the human arena is agonizing.

3. Change Can Be Small

We want big and flashy. This is most often true in areas where we’re making physical changes.

We start a diet and exercise plan. Three days later, our muscles scream and our stomach rumbles. We step on the scale and see:

We’ve lost one pound

One pound?!? For all this misery? Why am I doing this again?

Because big changes start small. Think of the avalanche. It can start with a single pebble sliding down the slope. It hits a larger boulder which rumbles. Dirt loosens around it. When it goes, it takes trees and more rocks with it, leaving behind a corridor of destruction.

The thing about a small change might not even be that it becomes bigger. Often it remains a small, simple thing: filling out a gratitude journal every evening before falling asleep.

But that ONE LITTLE THING bleeds into every area of life. It might begin as, “I have to pay attention to what I’m grateful for so I have something to write in the journal.” Soon enough it becomes a habit to give thanks for all the little things.

The rain stopped when I walked out to get the mail. The cat didn’t run away when I needed to load him into the carrier (and I’m not wearing scratch marks in the aftermath).

The truth is:

4. Real Change is S-L-O-W

Weight loss is another one of those things we want to happen now. Nope, actually, yesterday.

How long did it take me to pack on that extra fifteen pounds? A year? Two years? And yet I think I should be able to drop it in a couple months.

What I’ve discovered is that when I try to be diligent about eating a low calorie diet and exercise every day until my muscles STOP aching, I get burned out. My limit for persevering in both of these things is about one month.

One month? Can I even lose FIVE pounds in that time?

But when I think about it like that, it discourages me. So instead, I look at things as progressive. My sister the Beachbody coach has lots of motivational memes, and they make me feel like a failure if I let them.

Instead, I pull out my calendar and see all the times I know it will be difficult to stick to low calorie eating. I make sure I can up the intensity of my workouts during that time, but I don’t plan to follow the restrictive eating plan.

Why set myself up for failure? Instead, I shoot for MAINTAINING the strides I’ve already made.

After the week of vacation, I return to another 21-day focused eating and exercise plan. At the end, I give myself a week or a weekend to relax in the kitchen.

No, I don’t eat everything in sight. Usually, I’ll reward myself with pizza (and I don’t eat the whole thing) or baked goods (that I give away or share so I don’t eat them all). Then my head is in the right spot to do another 21 to 30-day focused weight loss plan.

It could take me six months or ten months to lose those fifteen pounds, but that’s still LESS time than it took to gain them.

5. Change isn’t always Better

Sadly, change isn’t always the best course of action. It’s difficult to admit this in a post extolling the virtues of metamorphosis.

I’m not talking about YOU attempting to improve something and it falls apart. That’s failure. And failing is the key to success.

Sometimes we were OKAY in an area of life we decided needed to change. Maybe we’ve decided to double the number of books we read in a year. Reading is great, right?

But if we forfeit family time, sleep and preparing nutritious meals (because we’re reading!) then we’ve missed the point of making a change.

Sometimes, we are healthy even if we aren’t a size six anymore. This doesn’t mean we should indulge in a daily dose of ice cream or cookies. Let’s not become UNHEALTHY. But we don’t have to strictly count every calorie. If we miss a workout, there’s no need for self-flagellation.

If reading self-help books makes me adopt a negative self-image, this isn’t a change for the better. We must weigh the change from every angle.

The world is filled with excellent things that I’ve never tried. And if I tried them they could hurt me or deter me from the best course for my life.

So it’s important to remember that a change doesn’t have to be permanent. If you make a change and discover it’s actually detrimental to your life purpose or mental or emotional health, you can change back. Or better yet, re-evaluate WHY you wanted to change that and see if there’s another way to achieve the end result you desire.

What have you learned about change? Have you experienced any of these five lessons about change first-hand?

I’m Thankful for YOU

Even though I’m hung over from too much cornbread dressing and pie, I still wanted to take this moment to thank you for reading my blog.

I know I don’t always post the most exciting and riveting things. Sometimes, you might even skim through the posts.

But you’re still here. You didn’t hit the “unsubscribe” button.

And for that my gratitude bubbles over.

To show my appreciation (and to celebrate the fact that the release is only TWO months away now), I’m going to share an excerpt from Reality Ever After.

Haven’t met Ronnie and Marcus yet? Read about their virtual romance here. Then find out how reality tried to take a bite out of it here.

Are you as excited about this release as I am (this is hard for me to imagine)? Click on the button below to help spread the word.

My Take on Charity: FIRST STREET CHURCH Blog Hop

Charity should be a lifestyle if we’re patterning ourselves after Jesus Christ. Do I succeed in charitable living? Nope. Not at all.

As we get closer to Christmas, awareness for charities will rise. Does this mean we feel more charitable during November and December?

I doubt it. 

Especially when consumerism sticks decorations and the latest-greatest-gadgets under our noses as soon as they get the back-to-school shelves cleared.

In recent years, this marketing push has made me relegate thoughts of Christmas to the back burner until later and later in December.

And that makes me sad.

Because I truly believe the spirit of Christmas is giving. Back in Bethlehem on that first Christmas, God gave us His only son, born in human flesh and humbled with a manger as a crib. That Son grew up to give His life as payment for our sins, purchasing eternal salvation for us—a gift we could never have gained any other way.

But all the media focus on giving to others sounds like another marketing sales pitch.

Charitable Causes

Which doesn’t mean I don’t care about those charities or give to any.

In the past, the ladies from our church have filled shoe boxes for Operation Christmas Child. This is a ministry of Samaritan’s Purse that focuses on getting essentials to children in third world countries.

It’s sobering to pack a toothbrush, toothpaste and soap alongside socks and a small stuffed animal. I can’t imagine my kids needing a new toothbrush for Christmas because they get them at their semi-annual dentist visits.

Oh, the things we take for granted in our First World society.

Our church chooses a missionary family to shower with Christmas gifts. We know the ages of his children and purchase gifts accordingly, being sure to include a package for the man and his wife, too. Everyone loves opening presents (don’t they? I sure do!) and that’s part of the excitement of Christmas morning.

If we can’t ship the food for a Christmas feast, we send a gift card to a grocery store close to his mission field. How many people don’t have a food or dessert they connect with their Christmas memories?

For my sons, it’s the sausage roll-ups I always made for Christmas morning. For me, it’s Russian teacakes. My sister loves the decorated sugar cookies.

Traditions are a huge aspect of Christmas, and we want our missionaries to enjoy building them.

Charity after Christmas

Christmas isn’t the only time for being charitable. Christians should demonstrate charity every day of their life.

A recent project our church began is a barbecue lunch for the first responders in our county. We make a simple lunch (pulled pork sandwiches and smoked chicken) and take it to the main fire station.

We box up lunches that someone volunteers to take out to the 911 call center and the outlying fire stations.

It’s such a small way to thank these men and women for choosing to serve our communities every day. In fact, they put themselves in harm’s way and don’t stop to think about it.

That deserves more than lunch and a thank you, I think.

Still, the small things make a big impact. They touch a person’s life and the impression stays with them.

Sure, you can offer a coat to keep away the winter chill (and should if you can). However, what about the frozen tundra of the heart that is abandoned and alone during a time of year when it looks like everyone else has family and friends to celebrate with?

Charity should reach from your heart to the heart of the person you’re helping. And sometimes, all it takes is to meet their eyes and smile.

Who can you thank for their service? Who can you help with a few simple hours of your time?

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How is that Year of Gratitude Coming Along?

If you follow my on social media, you know that I’ve been posting and tweeting everyday about gratitude. Some of those memes have gotten a little more toward the “refecting on life” side of things.

And since my brain is just as fried this week as it was last week, I thought I’d share some of this months memes. You know, for those of you who don’t follow me on Facebook or Twitter.

(The truth is, I’m so busy working on several writing projects at once that I don’t want to spend the time previewing videos I think you might enjoy. I just want to get this post written so I can get back to work on the novel, short story or nonfiction project).

Gift I’m Grateful for this Month

Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.
Day 275: Drinking coffee like a superhero.

Something Small to Make me Smile

Day 275: Feeling super thrilled to have another fantasy story debuting this month.
Day 275: Feeling super thrilled to have another fantasy story debuting this month.

Words of Wisdom

Day 282: One of the motivating saying from my video trainer. What excuse is holding you back?
Day 282: One of the motivating saying from my video trainer. What excuse is holding you back?

Kit-Spiration

Day 286: Rain pattering on the glass makes me so so sleepy. No driving in the rain for this girl.
Day 286: Rain pattering on the glass makes me so so sleepy. No driving in the rain for this girl.

A Little Sunshine

Day 288: I am not ready to say goodbye to the sunshine.
Day 288: I am not ready to say goodbye to the sunshine.

Truth to Seize

Day 291: Everyone needs a hand up at some time or another.  Remember to pay the kindness forward.
Day 291: Everyone needs a hand up at some time or another. Remember to pay the kindness forward.

What are you feeling especially grateful for this month?

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Who knew there was so MUCH to be thankful for?

July buzzes along. Maybe things are heating up weather-wise where you live.

In my neck of the world, I like a little sunshine with my summer. Blue skies dazzle my personality. In short, sunny days make me smile.

Here’s what I had to be thankful for this week:

Monday

D200

Thinking of a hidden lake in Colorado. What’s the most beautiful place you’ve climbed high to see?

Tuesday

D201

My weakness for ice cream is genetic. I inherited it from my mother’s side of the family. I love Tillamook’s Brown Cow. What’s your flavor of choice?

Wednesday

D202

For the love of the game…some have gotten shoulders x-rayed, broken toes, or worn icepacks over their eyes.

Thursday

D203

Which is the reason I ascribe to the philosophy that there is no such thing as owning too many pairs of shoes.

Friday

D204

In fact, I’m dreaming of watching my Giants take home another World Series Championship come October.

What about you? What makes you pause and say “thanks” right now?

It’s a short work week – and other reasons to be grateful

Another Friday. Another week of life slid past. Where did it go?

Maybe the week seemed short because there were only four work days.

Or we could be getting old.

Nah! Short work week all the way.

Here’s this week’s gratitude memes in review (only five since it IS a short week and all):

Monday

Do you light off fireworks? My kids are adults and they still play with sparklers.
Do you light off fireworks? My kids are adults and they still play with sparklers.

Tuesday

Most of the time my cat lays UNDER my lounger, but he's keeping my company.
Most of the time my cat lays UNDER my lounger, but he’s keeping my company.

Wednesday

Wash away the dead weight, my friend. Be free to pursue your dreams.
Wash away the dead weight, my friend. Be free to pursue your dreams.

Thursday

I apologize to all the golfers and fishermen. Your good times bore me.
I apologize to all the golfers and fishermen. Your good times bore me.

Friday

Hey but I'm outside getting my daily dose of Vitamin D so I'll stop complaining now
Hey but I’m outside getting my daily dose of Vitamin D so I’ll stop complaining now

What are you feeling thankful for this week? You made it through another one. It’s the weekend.

Life is short. Celebrate everything.

More Reasons to Love Your Friday

Can you believe it’s July?

And it’s Friday. (I actually heard Friday in song.)

That means it’s time to review this week’s gratitude memes.

I thank the person who actually read to the bottom of last week’s memes. You know, where I asked what my readers thought about the “new” sarcastic/funny memes. She gave them a thumbs up. Since none of the rest of you voted, I guess that means you LOVE them too.

Saturday

Laundry day again. Glad I didn't have to take my clothes out and clip them to a line to dry.
Laundry day again. Glad I didn’t have to take my clothes out and clip them to a line to dry.

Sunday

Go ahead and take a break! Even God sat down after working six days.
Go ahead and take a break! Even God sat down after working six days.

Monday

It was Mr. Wonderful's birthday. Let him eat cake!
It was Mr. Wonderful’s birthday. Let him eat cake!

Tuesday

"I'll be watching you" sings the spider (and he sounds like The Police)
“I’ll be watching you” sings the spider (and he sounds like The Police)

Wednesday

Do people actually like to iron? It's as much a waste of time and effort as dusting.
Do people actually like to iron? It’s as much a waste of time and effort as dusting.

Thursday

So I lose my car in a crowded parking lot. I don't mock your idiosyncrasies.
So I lose my car in a crowded parking lot. I don’t mock your idiosyncrasies.

Friday

If your friends are bringing you down, you might want to trade them in.
If your friends are bringing you down, you might want to trade them in.

Hope you have a great day and a wonderful weekend!

Remember to salute your flag, sing the National Anthem and give silent acknowledgment to our founding fathers and the soldiers who gave us a reason to celebrate Independence Day.

Seven Days of Smiles

Smile! It’s Friday. Your face can do this. I promise.

Some weeks are rougher than others. No matter what, Friday always looks better when we can regurgitate the good parts.

Still sounds gross?

Sorry. Here are the memes. I included last weekend because, hey, I didn’t want you to miss out on more reasons to be thankful.

You’re welcome.

Saturday

I was at the coast. No chance I touched the freezing Pacific Ocean.
I was at the coast. No chance I touched the freezing Pacific Ocean.

Sunday

D171

Monday

Wouldn't you like to lasso up the Presidential candidates and get some straight answers?
Wouldn’t you like to lasso up the Presidential candidates and get some straight answers?

Tuesday

Am I the only one who's directionally challenged? Or the only one whose GPS steers them wrong?
Am I the only one who’s directionally challenged? Or the only one whose GPS steers them wrong?

Wednesday

I shudder every time I see this photograph. Some pets are NOT for petting or cuddling.
I shudder every time I see this photograph. Some pets are NOT for petting or cuddling.

Thursday

D175

Friday

The irony? The day I made this meme wasn't sunny but I had a headache anyway.
The irony? The day I made this meme wasn’t sunny but I had a headache anyway.

And there you have it! Another week full of reasons to say thank you.

What do you think of the new memes? Too snarky? Not your style? (The change is a direct result of consultation with the Social Media Jedi Master. She’s sure you guys will share these ones.)

Bring on 2016 and My New Year’s Theme

Can you believe the year is 2016? What happened to 2015? Didn’t I just post something about my focus for the year?

Apparently, it’s been twelve months or 365 days since that amazing post.

Remember how my focus for 2014 was “be the change you want to see”?

Then I decided to get an attitude adjustment in 2015 with a little “accentuate the positive” encouragement.

positive-attitude quotespositive

As the year sped toward completion, my creative brain began plotting how to make my campaign epic in the new year.

Enter Thirty Days of Thanksgiving.

You saw the posts on Facebook, right? What a great way to introduce the American holiday held the fourth Thursday of November.

You know, Thanksgiving Day. It’s my favorite of all the holidays (and it’s not because of the cornbread stuffing).

All this thankfulness got me thinking. Who can list all they are thankful for in a single month? It would take a year or more to even scratch the surface of how blessed we are.

A year of thanksgiving, then? My mind churned the title through its many layers of imagination and editing.

In the end, I settled on 365 Days of Gratitude.

Such a nice ring to that, don’t you think?

Which means, of course, that there are 366 days in 2016. You know because it’s a Leap Year.

Why can’t the Earth make it’s way around the sun in 365 days? Why does it have to take 365 days and six hours? That means we have to add an extra day every four years. It messes up the perfect synchronicity that is February and March.

Wait a minute!

I’m practicing the attitude of gratitude in 2016. Let’s try a new vein of thought here. I’m thankful for February 29.

However, I’m not changing my Twitter hashtag. I want my posts to reappear in years to come when anyone happens to search #365DaysofGratitude.

Maybe this thing will go viral. People everywhere will express their gratitude for the everyday things we take for granted. You know like waking up. Having air to breathe. Walking to the sink to turn on water for a refreshing drink (not everyone in the world can do this, you know).

What would the world be like if every single person
displayed an attitude of gratitude?

Join me in sharing your appreciation this year, and let’s find out.

Feel free to follow my hashtag on Twitter. Retweet the daily graphics I’m making and sharing. Make some of your own. Share them everywhere.

For example, this is today's tweetable meme
For example, this is today’s tweetable meme

Let’s start a revolution of gratitude.

What are you feeling grateful for today? Could you come up with 365 366 things for which to express heartfelt gratitude?

There’s so much to be thankful for this year

Givethanks sunrise

If you had asked me in January if I thought 2014 was going to be a good year. My answer would have be a solid no.

After all, who wants to say goodbye to their mother? Watch so many in the family weep? Wake up in tears for weeks on end (if able to sleep at all)?

But God is faithful. He felt my wounds and wanted to comfort me.

This year, I have surged forward in my writing career. Am I published? Not yet. But I do have a publishing contract (more on that later).

I am also in the process of gaining a daughter (maybe two if my other son can figure out what he wants to do). I love my sons. I’m especially grateful not to have shared my home with hormonal teenage girls. I’m excited about getting a fully grown daughter!

There is so much to be thankful for – aside from the rudimentary things: life, air to breath, roof over my head, car to drive.

I know a few of my regular readers have had some struggles this year, too. I hope they’ll chime in and share a blessing or two in the comments.

What are you thankful for this year?