Thursday, December 22, 2016

Lighting the World

Twenty five acts of service in twenty five days during the month of December to "Light the World" - that was the invitation from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the world for this Christmas season.  

Let me share a few of the wonderful acts that I have seen and heard about:

* A single mother, her 2 daughters and her 9-year-old foster daughter were driving along and came across a car accident.  One of the drivers had only a sweater and flip flops on in the very cold winter air.  The family stopped and gave them a coat they had in the car.  Then they went home and got some socks that they had bought for their son for Christmas and took those back as well for the driver's cold feet.  They left with their own hearts warmed as well as the driver's.  

*A young stay-at-home mom with two tiny children wondered what she could do to serve during this holiday season.  Then she realized the many things she does in her own home every day and started paying attention to the service and love she was bringing to her own little corner of the world, and the positive difference she was making in the lives of her own children and husband.

*A busy mom found she had a flat tire.  A neighbor offered to fix it for her while his wife took her to pick up her daughter and take them to their appointment at the doctor's office so she wouldn't miss it.  Another woman brought back the purse that she accidentally had left at the doctor's office during that stressful time.

*One morning someone scraped off the windows of a truck that did not belong to him.  When the woman went out to leave for the day she was so grateful because she could not reach to scrape off the middle of the windows herself.

* One woman paid attention to who was feeling down, or overwhelmed, or just needed a smile.  She baked them something special and took it to them so they would know they were loved.  It made her feel wonderful to know that they felt cared about.

*Another woman had the privilege of honoring her mother by lovingly dressing her body for burial on the day that "Jesus honored his mother and so can you" was the "Light the World" invitation.  She said it was a sacred experience.

* Some children took the time to write handwritten notes to their parents telling them why they were lucky to have grown up in their home.

*A man walked up to a woman about to get gas, swiped his credit card to pay for it, and said, "Light the world!" and walked away.  What he didn't know was that she was using the last of her money to get gas that day.

This is just a smattering of many thousands of acts of kindness that have been done this month to help light the world.  It has been a magical and heartwarming experience to be part of.  May this kind of love, awareness of others and good-heartedness continue throughout the new year.  What a positive difference it would it would make to "light the world" the whole year long!

Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 11, 2016

It Is Not Where You Live That Matters

Recently I read a wonderful book called "The Rent Collector" by Camron Wright.  It is the story of a young mother who lives at the dump near a Cambodian city with her husband and infant son.  They survive from day to day by what they can find at the dump.  This young mother is influenced by an old woman who also lives at the dump.  The old woman helps her learn many great things.  One piece of wisdom that fairly flew off the page at me was this: "It is not where you live, but how you live that matters".  The idea that HOW you choose to live your life regardless of your circumstances puts a whole new spin on what is important.  It does not matter whether you are among the most humble and poor, as was this young mother from the dump, or whether you are wealthy and well-known.  What matters is HOW you live your life.

Anyone can be kind to others, regardless of their circumstances.  Anyone can build up other people, notice and point out the good, and be positive.  Anyone can serve others.  These things are true to all of us, regardless of our circumstances.  We all have the innate ability to treat others well.  We all have the ability to make the world a better place.

Most often making a positive difference in the world happens in the smallest of ways on a daily basis.  These little things add up to make us what we are.  Just as a painting comes together one stroke at a time, or a beautiful quilt is made one stitch at a time, or a lake is filled one drop at a time, living a good and meaningful life comes one moment at a time, and one tiny act at a time.  These small moments  manifest in a million tiny ways that add up over the years. Things like being kind to your family, even when it is hard; giving a soft answer to someone who is less than kind; smiling, giving encouragement to a child or others, letting someone else go first, showing respect, striving to slowly root out character flaws and replace them with positive virtues, being patient and forgiving.  It means correcting children in love.  It means forgiving as fast as possible.  It means being a light to those around us; being a good listener; being caring and non-judgmental.  It means being kind to strangers.  It means giving all those around us the best of ourselves.  It also means being patient and loving with ourselves, which allows us to love others better.

This month the LDS Church has a wonderful campaign of service called "Light the World".  Serve others in 25 ways in 25 days.  The suggestions for each day are small and simple yet meaningful ways to make the world a better place.

As my family and I have worked to accomplish some small act of service every day for someone else, we have felt the joy that comes from doing something meaningful to make someone else's day a little brighter.  What I have discovered is that it not only lights someone else's day when I give, but it also lights my own, probably even more than theirs.  That warm and wonderful feeling inside is one of the best feelings there is!

It is not where you live, but how you live that matters.  How will you live your life?  How will you light the world?  How will your being here make the world a better place?

Monday, December 5, 2016

What I Learned From a Pine Tree

What I Learned From a Pine Tree: Actually, it was a giant sequoia, it just looks like a mammoth pine tree.  Recently I happened to spent some time studying the giant sequoia, which is the largest tree on the planet.

These giant Christmas-looking trees are native to California.  I was very surprised to learn that they can grow taller than the Statue of Liberty and are extremely heavy, weighing more than a million pounds each at maturity.  Surprisingly, their roots grow shallow and wide rather than narrow and deep.  These giant trees can survive the strongest and fiercest winds and storms without being blown over.  As I wondered at this and explored further I learned that this is because the sequoia trees grow together in groups and intertwine their roots with their neighboring trees to share resources and strengthen each other.  When storms come, they literally hold each other up.  When these trees grow alone they often fall when heavy winds and storms come.  They need to grow in groups. They need each other to survive.

I could not help but think about the lessons these trees offer us.  The one that hit me most strongly was that none of us thrives well when left to ourselves.  We all need the support of those around us.  When we intertwine our lives with the lives of those around us, family, neighbors, friends, coworkers and community, then we are able to stand strong together when hard times comes, when storms rage and winds blow.

Each Christmas I think back on years past when other people's intertwined "roots" kept our family vertical during strong storms at this season of the year.  Christmas is a difficult time to have trials, be they financial struggle, grieving, or a myriad of other possible hardships.  During our trials I felt like we were in the middle of a raging storm, but we did not fall.  Many around us kept us standing.  Strength came to us in so many forms and from so many people, especially at this season of the year.  We received emotional support from many around us. We were given means to provide Christmas for our children when we had no means of our own.  We were doorbell ditched with gifts, food and money.  Those around us intertwined their roots with ours in amazing and meaningful ways to strengthen us and hold us up so we would not crash to the ground.  I will NEVER be able to thank those people enough for the service they rendered us, for intertwining their roots with ours to hold us up and strengthen us.

Christmas is a special time where we have more opportunity than the rest of the year to look around us, intertwine our lives with others, serve, share resources, and uplift and hold each other up. As we do this we stand strong together, just like the sequoia.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

An Empty Basket

If you are ever placed in a situation where you need to interact with people who seem less than friendly, then this post is for you.

Consider that you carry an invisible and empty basket with you.  When any positive interaction happens between you and another person it is like they are putting a beautiful egg in your basket.  When you respond positively back it is like you are putting one in theirs.  Where do these eggs come from?  They are in a pouch that you carry on your side, also invisible, of course.  

If you go into these types of situations with your empty basket and expect to leave with it still empty, then any eggs that end up in your basket will be a bonus, as will any that you give out.

This analogy came to me after a particularly difficult interaction in which I felt that I had failed.  I had gone into the less than friendly situation determined to look for and see positive, but I was not successful.  What I saw instead was negative, and it drained my energy for some time afterward in mulling it over.  Had I envisioned every interaction with the above analogy in mind, I would have left that situation feeling good about myself and others.  

Next time I am faced with such a situation, I will indeed take my invisible basket with me and expect to leave with it empty.  Any positive eggs that come my way will be considered as a treasure, and I will seek to also give those treasured eggs to others as well.  

This analogy seems much more appropriate for another holiday coming up next spring, but I felt I should share it now.  Perhaps someone out there has some holiday interactions coming up that this could help with.  

May we all seek to see the positive around us as we go into this holiday season:)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Learning to Live in Balance

Learning to have balance in my life has been an ongoing process for many years.  Even though I teach classes about living a balanced life, I am still figuring it out myself.  It comes in layers.

For many years I have been so busy that when I look at my calendar with every day filled in with many things, it is a bit overwhelming, yet all those things have felt necessary, like I had no choice but to do them.

Amazing how standing back and looking at life from a different perspective changes the definition of priorities and balance.

Two months ago I had surgery.  My doctor told me I could not exercise or lift over 10 pounds for two months.  That took exercise and babysitting grand kids, as well as many chores off my plate immediately and without my consent.  In addition, my recovery was much harder and slower than expected, so I spent a lot of time in bed.  My energy level was very low, so I spend a lot of time reading and thinking.  (and watching movies, which was super fun!)

When you step out of your life like that, it allows you to look at your life from an outside viewpoint, rather than from being in the middle of it.  I was amazed at what I saw and learned!

One thing I started doing was writing down my favorite thing at the end of each day.  I started this in an effort to focus on the positive.  I did this for two months.  When I went back and read all the things that I had written, nearly all of them were relationship focused, not task focused.  Surprisingly, I discovered that getting things done off a list was not what brought me joy and satisfaction.  This was especially interesting considering that I am have been such a task-oriented person in the past.  You know, the kind that makes lists every morning and then feels discouraged if most of those things are not crossed off every night.  What I realized was that while my life focus had been on getting things done, the things that brought me the most joy were from investing in relationships that matter to me.  This conflict of focus has kept me out of balance for years and I had no idea!  It was a true aha moment for me.

Now as I slowly add things back into my life with my improving health, I am making a conscious shift to make the things that make me happy my highest priority, which includes putting a few fun things as priorities.  And that endless task list... well, some of those things still have to happen, but how I feel at the end of the day no longer depends on what tasks I accomplished.

I have realized that being happy is the biggest factor in having a balanced life.  It is, in fact, the purpose of finding balance.  You don't need to have surgery to get a perspective shift.  Take the time to write down your favorite thing about each day before you go to bed.  Do this for a month.  You will find definite patterns that will lead you to know which way to shift your priorities to have greater balance and happiness in your life.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

More Lessons from the 50/20

Last year I wrote about Thomas, a young man who completed the 50/20, a grueling 50 mile walk/run that takes about 20 hours.  The only other person in his group to complete the 50/20 was his leader  Keith.

Last year Keith completed the 50/20 in just over 21 hours.  His feet were covered with blisters.  Every toe was covered in blisters.  Many of those blisters popped with 10 miles still to go in the race.  Nevertheless, he kept going.  During those toughest miles he had a "revelatory moment", a realization, a desire to change, and he developed a rock-solid determination to finish the race.  It was the beginning of a momentous change for him that would carry him far beyond the race.  His determination helped him to finish the race, though those last 10 miles were excruciating.  He described to me how he literally crawled into his house and up the stairs when he got home.  He wore slippers to church the next day because he could not wear shoes.  He was sore for 2 weeks afterward.

A few days after that first race Keith decided that he was going to do the 50/20 again.  Why???  Why put yourself through that?  He said it was because he wanted to prove to himself that he could change and do better.  He realized that he had been completely unprepared for the event.  He had had no clear goal going in the first time, no preconceived idea about finishing.  He thought he could walk forever on flat ground.  He had not used the moral support available to him like he could have, not realizing he would need it so much.  He was not physically or mentally prepared.  What he realized afterward was that he did not understand that he needed to prepare, or how to prepare, or what he would need.  He decided that he needed to do the event again, and this time be prepared.

He began by losing 20 lbs, and then getting an experienced trainer who helped him with a training program strategy, nutritional outline, and accountability.  Keith began with short workouts at first to toughen up his feet and skin, gradually increasing his workouts as the event drew closer.  He also figured out the calories per hour he needed, as well as hydration requirements.  He passed his knowledge on to the youth who would be doing the event with him.  Sometimes he would get discouraged because his workouts were not coming along like he had envisioned, or he was not able to meet all of his training goals.  He learned to look back and see the progress he had made, and felt a determination to continue.  It also helped him to be accountable to his trainer who would ask him about his workouts on a regular basis.  He didn't want to tell his trainer he had not done his work.  By the time the 50/20 came he had logged 500 hours in training miles and was much better prepared than he had been the first time.

Although there were some set-backs the second time around, the race was delayed by 2 weeks throwing him off his training schedule, and he had to go out of town shortly before the race, which knocked his sleep schedule off, Keith knew he was much better prepared than the first time.  This time he had trained, figured out nutritional and hydration requirements, developed confidence, knew what to expect, and had the moral support he needed.  Keith finished the race 8 hours faster the second time, completing it in 13 hours and 12 minutes.  He had only 2 blisters on his feet at the end, one of which was very small.  He walked into his house instead of crawling when he got home, and wore his church shoes to church the next day.  He was not sore for even a day, let alone 2 weeks.  What a difference!

As Keith told me his story I could not help but wonder at the parallel lessons to life his story represented.  Keith himself shared his own thoughts on the subject.  Here are a few of the parallels.

1.  Just as a marathon gives your body a pounding, so life itself gives your soul a pounding.
Just as training physically toughens your body and increases your stamina, spiritual training toughens your soul to withstand the rigors of life better so that you can walk, not crawl to the end.

2.  The event was the same, but Keith's changed approach to the event made his experience completely different.   Being prepared made all the difference.  Being prepared in life also makes all the difference.  Often we cannot change what we face, but we can change our approach and our attitude, and do all we can to be prepared.

3.  Keith sometimes got discouraged during his training for the 50/20, but then he would look back and see how far he had come.  This helped him to stay positive and motivated.

Sometimes in life we get discouraged because we have not accomplished all the things we thought we would by this point in life, or things don't seem to be working out the way we had planned, or our progress seems too slow.  Look backward and see your progress!  See how far you have come.  This will help you to stay positive and motivated.

4.  Knowledge is power.  Just as Keith learned about toughening his feet, hydration and nutritional requirements, moral support and training strategies which ultimately helped him succeed, so we have great access to knowledge in our pursuits.  As we fail and then get up again, we can learn from the past and make better choices for the future.

5.  Instead of keeping his knowledge to himself, Keith shared what he was learning with others around him who would be doing the race, which helped his whole group be much better prepared and more successful.  As we share what we learn with those around us we will build and lift and help those around us as well.

6.  Don't give up when the going gets tough.  Though at times life can be full of blisters and pain, keep pushing to the finish.  It is worth it.

6.  Start small.  Just as Keith started with short training's instead of taking on a huge goal, often we can be more successful when we start small instead of trying to accomplish something huge out of the gate.  Weight loss for example - decide to lose 5 lbs to start with, not the whole 25 you want to lose.  Smaller goals get you where you want to go incrementally.

7.  Be accountable to someone.  Keith was accountable to his trainer.  He talked about how much that helped him to be successful.  I suggest being accountable to a higher power, a spouse, a friend, or a combination of these.  This is an important key to being successful.

8.  Moral support.  On Keith's second race he employed the moral support he needed.  This same moral support was available to him the whole time, and could have been more utilized during the first race had he only accessed it.   Let us use the the moral support around us as well.  When we all help hold each other up we are stronger together.

What other lessons did you pick up about life from this story?  Of the many listed here, or others you thought of, pick one to think about this week, and to work on through your own journey through life.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Morning Routine

Would you like to be more clear and focused, and have more mental energy?

I recently read an article about the morning routines of some top professionals around the country.  It was interesting to note the patterns that I began to see as I ready through how they spend their mornings.  I started to make a list of the patterns I saw.  What I learned was that  nearly all get up early. For many, though not all, their mornings include exercise, eating a healthy breakfast, meditating and spending time with family.  Everyone's routine was a little different, but they all had similar patterns.  One of the most inspiring was a man named Jase Wilson, CEO of Neighborly, who makes a list of things he is grateful for every morning, as well as a list of things he wants to have happen that day.  He also says declarations (sometimes also known as affirmations), which are positive statements that train your brain in the direction you want your brain to think.

Surprisingly, I also noticed that many of these professionals also spend time on social medial and news in the morning, which I would not have expected.

I learned about having an intentional morning routine less than a year ago, though I had done some form of this for years.  Because I am a religious person, mine includes prayer, scripture study, focusing on goals and exercise.  Though this routine only takes a small part of my day, I feel more clear and focused throughout my day.

Though everyone is in a different place in life, some with little children who wake before they do in the morning, some who are night owls and not morning people AT ALL, some who run so fast they cannot imagine doing one more thing, I would like to suggest that having an intentional morning routine really does set the tone for the whole day and makes a big difference in having increased mental energy, and feeling more clear and focused throughout the day.  A morning routine can be as short as one to five minutes, or as long as you want it to be, but making that incremental improvement is so worth it to gain the great benefits available to you!

Adapting a morning routine to fit your life is key.  If you have little ones who wake up early, you may need to do your routine during nap time.  If you are a night person, morning might be at 11:30 a.m.  Adapt it to you.  As one who has practiced the morning schedule for almost a year now, I am here to tell you that an intentional morning makes a big difference in how you feel and what you can accomplish!  Give it a try!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The 1% Factor

I recently learned about a very technical sounding, but very cool concept.  It is called the "aggregation of marginal gains".  I think I will call it the "1% factor".  James Clear explained this concept as  “the 1 percent margin for improvement in everything you do."

He said, "It’s so easy to overestimate the importance of one defining moment, and underestimate the value of making better decisions on a daily basis.

Almost every habit that we have — good or bad — is the result of many small decisions over time. And yet, how easily we forget this when we want to make a change. So often we convince ourselves that change is only meaningful if there is some large, visible outcome associated with it." No matter the ambition or goal, "we often put pressure on ourselves to make some earth-shattering improvement that everyone will talk about. Meanwhile, improving by just 1 percent isn’t notable (and sometimes it isn’t even noticeable), but it can be just as meaningful, especially in the long run."

"Most people love to talk about success as an event, but the truth is that most of the significant things in life aren’t stand-alone events, but rather the sum of all the moments when we chose to do things 1 percent better or 1 percent worse". The small 1% improvements makes the difference.  

A wise educator, Paul Barth added that "Most often our greatest successes will never be recognized with a trophy or plaque. No one will stand at a banquet to applaud our multiple triumphs." Most often our greatest successes come "when we choose to try again after failing at something or when we give our best effort in making progress toward accomplishing a goal. It is found in the small decisions that we make on a daily basis as we continuously improve ourselves."

graphic by Jeff Olsen

Amazing isn't it!  Working to incrementally improve something in our lives by just 1% consistently can lead to incredible long-term success!  I invite you to join me in choosing just one or two things to improve by 1%.  You can do great things, so count all those little decisions you make that head you in the direction you want to go, 1% at a time!

To read the entire article by James Clear, here is the link:

Sunday, October 9, 2016


I am definitely a list person.

When I was a young mother I would make lists of our family routine and post them on the fridge.  I had our family day scheduled down to the minute.  I also had to-do lists of things that needed to be done, preferably in priority of importance and urgency.  I admit, I was a bit over the top.  I have become more balanced, but I still keep lists.  I keep a running grocery list on my fridge at all times.  I admit that at times I get such great satisfaction out of crossing things off my to-do list that I even write things on my list that I have done that were not originally on the list just so I could cross them off and feel the satisfaction of having accomplished even more! (I haven't figured out the psychology behind being a task person yet, but maybe someday.)

Yep, I am a list person.

While keeping lists is not a bad idea, and can keep you organized and accomplishing things (which is a good thing), it is important to remember that the key is BALANCE.

I was definitely out of balance!  I would work my tail off all day long, just to fall in bed exhausted at night with my to-do list never completely crossed off.  The next morning I would make a new list and be off and running again.  Sometimes I would even make the to-do list the night before so I would be ready to hit the ground running.  It was like chasing a dangling carrot that could never be reached.  I could never completely accomplish my list, and always went to bed somewhat discouraged at my lack of accomplishment.  I would think, "What is wrong with me that I can't seem to get everything done?"

Oh, how I wish I knew then what I know now!  Instead of looking at what I was not getting done, I have finally learned to look at what I have accomplished and celebrate that!

Becky Edwards, a friend for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration, came up with a great way to celebrate what we do each day.  Becky is also a list person.  She writes a to-do list each day, but she also writes a ta-da! list.  This is a list of every-day things that we do that we seldom take the time to acknowledge.  How many diapers did you change today?  How many children did you run places?  Did you drop what you were doing to help or listen to a child?  Did you cook for your family or prepare snacks?  There are many, many things we do each day that we do not acknowledge or celebrate.  These every-day things, these little things deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated! Make a list of those things at the end of the day, and you will really feel good!   Instead of focusing on what we did not get done, lets focus and emphasize on all the many, many little good things that we do that make up our day, and that keep life going!  Give yourself credit for all that you do!

So write your to-do list, but keep it in balance.  And at the end of the day, or sooner if needed, write a ta-da list as well to realize and celebrate all that you REALLY do, because........... YOU ARE AMAZING!

Sunday, May 8, 2016

How to be FEARLESS

For as long as I can remember I have been deathly afraid of bees and spiders.  I have almost gotten in accidents several times because of a bee or spider. (and when I say bee I mean any flying black and yellow insect that stings)  My neighbors have learned to ignore sudden screams from my yard.  They know I have just encountered one the the dreaded insects.  Once one of my neighbors saw me literally go crazy when a bee flew into my hair and got stuck.  There I was screaming and flailing my head all around like a crazy woman in melt-down mode.  It literally took me 45 minutes to recover afterward.  I was not stung.  My husband used to tease me that I would jump out of a moving car in order to get away from a bee.  I used to think he was wrong until one day I "thought" I heard a bee when we were on the freeway and I started panicking.  My husband calmed me and pointed out that it was a fly.  Then he pointed out where my hand was - right on the door handle poised to pull it open.  We were going 65 mph at the time.  What was I thinking??

I had put up with these irrational fears all my life.  Then I developed PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from a traumatic accident my husband and I were in.  It developed gradually, but got worse and worse until I was afraid to ride anywhere in a car.  I considered staying home from important events, made my husband miserable on dates, (even to the extent of picking the closest restaurant in order to avoid driving) and made my children worried and nervous when I was in the car.  While I was at my worst point we had to drive an hour and a half away to my sister's wedding.   My family joked that maybe they should blindfold me and lay me down in the back seat.  In the end I kept my eyes closed the entire way there and back while I sang soothing songs in my head to distract myself.  That is when I knew I had to make a change.  That is when I knew I had to conquer fear or be debilitated for the rest of my life.  That is when I decided to fight back.

I began by researching my irrational fears.  I asked questions and read books.  I learned that if you feed fear it grows, but if you starve it, it dies.  I learned that if you ignore the fear and find something very creative to focus your mind on, that your mind will clamp onto the creative.   It can't be creative and fearful at the same time.  I was writing a book at the time, so  I began working on my book in my mind any time we drove somewhere.  My mind couldn't think about both the book and my fear at the same time.  The more I starved the fear, gradually the smaller it got.  I found that the creative focus could be anything! Planning a party, designing something, structuring goals, anything creative that would take all your concentration and imagination to work on!

This was a great technique in the moment, but I also really needed to get rid of the root of the fear.

Have you heard of a vision board?  It is basically a a goal with pictures. You place your pictures in some kind of boundary or frame. (frame meaning any border, even painter's tape in a square shape on the wall).  In this frame you put a picture(s) of what your goal is.  You also write positive words about your goal with your picture.  Then you spend 3 minutes first thing in the morning, and 3 minutes last thing at night looking at this image.  While you are looking at it you imagine that you already have it, what it feels like, what it smells like, what it tastes like, what it sounds like - using as many senses as possible.  Using a vision board I began to imagine myself in situations in which I was fearless.  Driving with no fear.  Having a bee land on me, feeling fearless.  Having a spider crawl on me, feeling fearless.

The next thing I did was come up with what is called a "declaration".  A positive statement that I say to myself loudly 3 times every day.  "I AM FEARLESS".  I stretched my arms out to the universe to declare with boldness that I was fearless!  The more I said it, the more my brain believed it.

I also wrote "because" papers.  This is an amazing technique to get to the root of what is going on in one's mind.  My first paper was called, "I am afraid because...." Then I just wrote and wrote whatever came to my mind.  24 hours later I went back and read what I wrote.  This gave me insight for a new "because" statement.  I did this 3-4 days in a row, reading what I had written the day before, and getting new insight as to what was really going on in my brain that led to a new dimension of what I was afraid of.  After 3-4 days of "because" papers I was able to really pinpoint the root of the problem, which then helped me resolve it.

During all of this I was also praying to be fearless.  In the Bible John 4:18 states that "Perfect love casteth out ALL fear".  Nobody wanted to cast out all fear more than I did.  I was so tired of living with it.  I studied this verse over and over.  It seemed to me that fear and faith were more likely opposites than fear and love.  After much study I realized that John meant love of God, or trust in God.  Perfect trust in God casteth out all fear.  I needed to trust God, believe that He was standing beside me, and that whatever happened would be okay because he can heal anything. I didn't need to be afraid.  The more I prayed for this, the stronger I became.

This is a lot of work to overcome fear.  I never would have done it if it had not gotten so bad.  It forced me to search for a solution.  I can tell you that today I can ride in a car without fear.  Most of the time I do not even think about it.  The bees and spiders are just starting to come out.  There was a spider on the ceiling the other day.  I got right up and killed it.  I was not afraid.  I even looked to at the toilet paper to make sure it was dead, and my skin didn't even crawl.  That was a new experience for me. The old me would have screamed and danced around begging for someone to kill it.  If no one was available to save me I probably would have sucked it up in the vacuum with the longest attachment, then left the vacuum on for 5 minutes just to make sure it was really dead.  I would have been totally creeped out.  I am truly NOT AFRAID for the first time in 50 years.  I feel sad that I have lived with crippling fear for so long  and let it control me.  Now I am in charge.  I AM FEARLESS.

If I can do it, so can you!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

What You Plant in Your Mind

I have been doing a lot of studying lately about how what you think about affects the results of your life.  It is a fascinating topic!

This last week I ran across an audio recording of a man named Earl Nightingale.  In this recording he describes that our minds are like the land, and our thoughts like the seeds that can be planted in that land.   The land does not care what we plant.  If cultivated it will bring forth in abundance whatever we have planted.

 The mind is the same.  Whatever ideas we "plant" and cultivate will be brought forth in abundance.  It is an empowering thought!

 I am attaching the audio recording.  It is 40 minutes long.  It would be perfect to listen to on your phone while you are driving somewhere, or while you are working around the house or whatever.  It is well worth 40 minutes!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Good Intentions

Isn't it amazing how sometimes someone can teach you profound without even realizing it?

A while ago I was having a conversation with my dear friend Kathy G.  I cannot remember the exact topic of our conversation, but I do remember that I was questioning someone's motives for doing something that did not make sense to me.  She said the simplest thing to me, as if we had had a long conversation about it and this was just a reminder.  She said, "presume good intent".  That stopped me in my tracks.  If I stopped to look at the situation through those lenses, I would assume something different that what my current assumption was.  I also noticed it felt a lot better to assume the best in someone's intentions instead of the worst.  It felt lighter, happier.

Though she was not aware she had said anything profound to me, I mulled over her three words for the next few days and began applying "presume good intent" to situations around me.  For example, instead of assuming the person driving 25 miles per hour in a 35 mph zone was on their phone or just not paying attention, or worse yet, trying to annoy me, I decided to assume maybe they had a good reason for driving that slowly - perhaps they were feeling sick, or for some reason didn't feel safe driving that fast, or perhaps they were old.  It made it so much easier for me to be patient and assume the best.

Now when I observe or hear something that does not make sense to me, instead of judging or assuming the worst, I am trying to develop a habit of  "presuming good intent".  Why not think of the best possible scenario instead of the worst possible scenario?  Reasons why my teenager might not be answering their phone, or is late for their curfew, or why a spouse fails to do something they said they would, or a neighbor or stranger does something that could be interpreted as less than kind, or a million other assumptions that we make every day.

Imagine if we all cut each other some slack and assumed the best in interpreting each others actions and intentions.  How would that change us?  How would that change the world around us?

I, for one, have felt much lighter, less burdened, and happier since I have learned the MAGIC of  presuming good intent.  And isn't being happy what we all want?