What are you reading? Top 5 from 2020

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Assuming you agree 2020 proved to be a year like no other—at least in our lifetime—you might find yourself in one of two camps: during the past 12 months, you read more than ever (whether to escape reality or to preserve your mental health or all of the above); or, you remained unable to read anything other than your pervading news feeds (understandable). Regardless of which camp you reside, if one of your New Year’s goals includes reading [more], check out my Top 5 from 2020:

  1. Greg Olsen’s “Lying Next to Me“—for fans of suspense
  2. Gay Hendricks’ “The Big Leap”—addresses limiting beliefs & finding your “zone of genius”
  3. Scott Allan’s “Do it Scared”—shares techniques to charge forward with confidence
  4. Alice Feeney’s “Sometimes I Lie”—takes readers on a psychological thrill ride (eked into 2021)
  5. Tina Radcliffe’s “Finding the Road Home“—for lovers of stories with heart, humor & faith

What book did you read last year and recommend?

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The key to a successful year ahead: resiliency at work

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Happy New Year! I wager it’s safe to say the vast majority of the world shared a collective sigh of relief as we bid adieu to all things 2020. And now, as we enter 2021 with cautious optimism, we must gird ourselves with something called resilience. But before I dive into today’s post, I have a favor to ask: If you find my ramblings encouraging and/or thought-provoking, I invite you to sign up to follow my blog—if you aren’t already—by visiting https://alwaysthewritetime.wordpress.com/contact-me/. This ensures you receive updates about my new website and eNewsletter (under construction), and opportunities for free giveaways. Now let’s talk about the key to a successful year ahead: practicing resilience, or the ability to bounce back when knocked down; to “pivot” or change course. Here’s a peek into resiliency at work in my life: I wrote five short stories before selling a first. And when Christmas “plan A” failed, 25 letters still remained in the alphabet.

What does resilience look like to you?

Image source: http://www.betterup.com. 

Surrendering: the painful process of pruning

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How often do you pray for patience, and then without warning a situation occurs that demands an inner fortitude that a) you never knew you possessed and b) you wouldn’t need to tap into had you not asked for patience? I wrestle with this lately. But not patience so much as seeking to live out my word for the year: growth—which shows up as frequent “pruning” and a daily practice in humility. Merriam-Webster defines pruning as “to cut off or cut back parts of for better shape or more fruitful growth.” As a Christian, this can be a painful process of surrendering in any number of ways, such as letting go of a position, possession, relationship or some other desire to better align oneself to the image of Jesus. In my case: be careful what you pray for. Yet without a season of pruning, we carry around “dead branches” that hinder our ability to grow. And to eventually flourish.

What area of your life could use pruning?

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Milestone moments: celebrating victory

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As I stand with my fellow countrymen and women, observing the unrest in America that hangs over our heads in the midst of the global pandemic, my words today might seem shallow. A mere drop in an ocean teeming with discord, corruption, grief and unbelief. Yet, like many, I choose to search for good, which means diving beyond the surface into the murky depths. But oh, the treasures to be found. This led me to share my post “… discovering plenty amidst the lack,” and why tomorrow marks a monumental milestone moment in my life (shared by those who’ve walked alongside me). One year ago, on June 10, 2019, I surrendered thought patterns shackling me to an addiction, otherwise known as bulimia. Some professionals categorize an eating disorder as a mental health or psychosomatic disorder; however, I know what I struggled with—daily—for decades. And I’m here to celebrate this victory, and to encourage you: hope lives on.

Let’s flood social media with milestone moments: What’s yours?

Image source: quotefancy.com.

When life is spinning out of control: what we CAN control

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One day you’re anticipating a new decade ripe with possibility. Big things—good things—finally appear within your grasp. But then: boom! Life as you know it: kaput. Unless you’ve remained sequestered from #allthethings, you realize this is your new normal. As a human being, compassion toward the collective face of humanity—splashed across myriad news reports and social media feeds—proves a concerted effort at times. As a Believer, the status quo tests my faith. Yet, after I wade through my battered emotions, I acknowledge a call to action: to reprioritize. To re-evaluate my direction. To shift my focus from the race and to grasp onto the one thing—literally!—within my control: what I can do this moment.

  1. Pray… continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17)
  2. Connect… with friends/family/neighbors/support groups via social distancing/texting/calling/emailing/FaceTiming
  3. Appreciate… every blessing
  4. Extend… love/kindness/help/laughter/smiles/forgiveness/encouragement/grace
  5. Begin… a new project/book/craft/online course/wellness program/etc.
  6. Breathe… and be present

Feel free to add to my list… and reach out anytime through my contact page.

Top 2 Ways to Get the Most from Life

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James R. Doty, in his book, “Into the Magic Shop,” talks about growing up in an environment of poverty and neglect. At 12 years old, he entered a magic shop and, through a simple act of kindness extended toward him, the trajectory of his life was transformed. If Doty had chosen to blame his upbringing for a lack of potential, this world-renowned neurosurgeon likely would’ve proven another sad statistic. Instead, he focused on his abilities through the power of both the brain and the heart. When tempted to obsess over our circumstances, we must, instead, choose to focus on our capabilities. In other words, rather than look for excuses to set ourselves up for failure, we should latch onto everything we can do. And then do it. I’d like to take it a step further: It also requires faith. Because faith knows we’ve already received and then acts accordingly. It’s like dressing for success before walking out the door.

Do you focus on your circumstances or your capabilities?

Image source: https://psychcentral.com/.

 

Hop aboard: hanging on for the ‘thrill ride’ of your life

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Thrill ride. My new favorite phrase coined by my great niece, Julia. That’s life in all its glory, right? A journey that sometimes feels like a roller coaster I close my eyes on until it reaches steadier (and safer) ground. Other times its scary twists and turns require faith that I’ll make it from Point A to Point B—my body often jostled and bruised from the onslaught of life’s challenges. But then there are those frissons of joy that bubble up from within as I share the ride—all its ups and downs and unexpected surprises that delight—with those closest by my side. And, if I had a choice, I don’t think I’d pick a different ride or trade my seat for another. I’m simply hanging on since it won’t last forever. Because, one day, the ride will slow and inevitably come to a stop, and it’s at this moment I want to shout: “Wow! What a [thrill] ride!

What does your thrill ride look like?

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A new way to approach the New Year: what’s your word?

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I think it would be much more sensible
if resolutions began generally
on January the second.
~ Helen Fielding (Bridget Jones’s Diary)

Resolution—a word that can conjure up anxiety, ill will, self-defeat—even before we put wings to it. For decades I’ve attempted to ring in the new year with resolutions, plans, intentions. This year, however, prior to the advent of Jan. 1, a single word settled upon my soul: “Exercise.” And because I already strive to incorporate 8-10 hours of weekly physical fitness into my life, my first thought sounded a lot like: WTH? But then I began putting pen to paper: Exercise… kindness. Exercise… my spiritual muscles. Exercise… self-control, self-discipline and my faith. Exercise… gratitude, creativity and my mind. And, yes, exercise my physical body. Each insight also includes tangible ways I can live out my word—a reference to measure my journey throughout the days and weeks ahead. It’s going to be a good year—I can feel it.

What’s your word for 2019?

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Got faith? Your story isn’t over yet.

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On any given weekend over the past several months, I’ve hung my “closed” sign, packed my bags and driven up north. Each time, these getaways prove a source of inspiration and a form of self-care. Opportunities to refresh from “the grind,” to rediscover and reconnect with who I am—a faith-filled wife, mother, sister, employee, friend, writer, yogi, hiker and dreamer. And what I desire out of this one life—simple pleasures like that first sip of liquid magic in the mornings before the sun makes its ascent; autumn’s burst of vibrant color; raw, belly laughter; music and books that stir my soul; a connection between two hearts. To be a light in the world. To make a difference. Yet even if a lone tear slips from my eye when plans fail, I still choose to be grateful, knowing it’s simply part of my story. One that’s not over yet. After all, when our faith is tested, our endurance earns a chance to grow.

How’s your faith life?

Newsflash: it’s not all about you

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news flash

 

When the familiar ache in my heart warns me a self-inflicted pity party might be in progress soon, I remind myself of the truth in Gretta Brooker Palmer’s quote about how making someone else happy serves to sprinkle joy into our own lives. A backwash of blessings, if you will. Mary, the woman I write about in ‘The secret to a happy life,’ whose partner withholds communication and touch on a regular basis, has taught me much about removing self from the equation. To take what I’m missing in my life and turn loss into an opportunity to pick myself up for the umpteenth time, dust off the ashes and allow my faith to create beauty in the lives of those around me. The hardest part is keeping our gaze fixed ahead of us, rather than focusing inward on our lack. Just for today, let’s discard our metaphorical blinders and do something kind for someone else. I guarantee we’ll both feel better.

How can you change your focus?

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