Happy for the Holidays: 7 Ways to Savor the Season!

The holidays can go by very quickly, and if you’re not intentional, it’s easy not to make the most of the season. Research shows that “savoring,” intentionally living in the moment and noticing good things as they happen, creates positive emotion that can improve your health, happiness and relationships. So this year, savor the season! Here are seven ways to do just that:

1. Make decorating the tree an event, not a chore.
Create a meaningful, memorable tradition out of decorating the Christmas tree. Get the whole family involved. If you live alone, invite others over to take part. Turn on the Christmas music, cook or order in, have some hot chocolate, and take pictures. Have fun.

2. Give Christmas cards in person.
Now, this one is hard if you have 100 people on your list. So choose just a few people to hand deliver cards to. Drop by for a quick visit. It’s a great way to reconnect and adds a personal touch. With so many cards pre-printed with no personal acknowledgment inside, personally signing and delivering a card will make it heartfelt for the recipient.

3. Kiss under the mistletoe.

There are few better ways to savor than a sweet kiss!

4. Go Christmas caroling.
If you really want to get into the spirit, start singing. Whether it’s singing Christmas carols in your own neighborhood, at church or to the elderly at a local nursing home, the camaraderie and fellowship are a great way to savor the season.

5. Play Christmas music.
This is an easy one. Grab your favorite Christmas CD – is it the Temptations? Nat King Cole? Mariah Carey? – and enjoy the music. There’s no other time of year to listen to it, so between now and December 25th, play away!

6. Have a get together.
Celebrate the season with a get-together.
Whether it’s just three or four friends for coffee and conversation, or a Christmas party for 50, get together with the people you care about.

7. Worship on Christmas
In the midst of all the shopping and parties and gift giving, it’s all too easy to forget the reason for the season. Savor the season by going to worship services on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, or having your own sacred time at home.

My challenge to you this week:
Savor the season. From now until Christmas Day, commit to accomplishing at least 3 of the steps above.

Coaching question:
What will you do to ensure that you are able to enjoy the holiday season with those you love? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

Get Organized!

This week, I challenge you to get organized!

 

Life in today’s hectic world can move so fast that sometimes you can feel like you are doing great just to get through the day without falling behind. But being organized is a fundamental skill that makes it easier to live, work and play successfully. You may feel that you don’t have time to get organized, but the truth is, you don’t have time not to get organized. It is costing you more than you may think in time, money and energy with issues such as:

 

. Procrastination

. Chronic lateness

. Missed opportunities

. Lack of productivity

. Redoing projects and assignments

. Paying more for flights, bills, and expedited services

 

What steps can you take to get more organized over the next week?

 

1. Take a break.

It is impossible to get organized when you refuse to take time out to evaluate where you are and make a decision about where you want to go and how you want to get there. Can you imagine if football games offered players and coaches no time outs, no half time and no breaks between quarters? They need that time to re-organize before getting back into the game. To be effective, you need regular time to evaluate and get organized before moving forward.

 

2. Decide what you want.

Don’t organize your life to support a vision that you don’t want. If your life isn’t producing the results you want, it is quite possible that you haven’t organized it to produce the results you want. Decide what you would like to see happen differently in your personal and professional life. Pray for the wisdom to know what is best for you, and the courage to embrace it.

  

3. Decide why you want it.

Even more important than deciding what you want is deciding the purpose behind your desires. If your vision is to lose 20 pounds, the purpose is not losing the weight. The purpose is the outcome – perhaps it’s more energy, a more attractive body, or simply feeling more confident about the state of your health. Knowing why you want something gives you a compelling reason to change your behavior, and sustains you when you don’t feel like pressing on.

 

4. Set up systems to make it easier to achieve the result.  Identify what isn’t working well in your current lifestyle. Perhaps you’re frustrated because you never seem to have time to eat breakfast, or enjoy enough quality time with your children, or complete your new business development projects in a timely manner. Ask yourself, “What would make this easier for me to do?” Give yourself three minutes to brainstorm every idea that comes to mind – and if you need more ideas, ask someone else to brainstorm with you. Be open to learning from others – you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to find the best way to organize your life. Choose the top one to three changes and replace the system that is not working with one that will.

 

5. Implement your new system.

There is no need to organize a system for yourself if you are going to go back to doing things the way you did them before. If, for example, you decide to get up 30 minutes earlier so that you can make breakfast and sit down for 15 minutes to eat with your children, then take action and do it. Many people are stuck at the planning stages of their dreams, but dreams come alive through action. Ecclesiastes 5:3 says, “A dream comes through much activity, and a fool’s voice is known by his many words.”

 

Take action to get organized so that you can strengthen the foundation on which your dreams are built. Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

 

Be Intentional!

So often in life, it is easy to fall into the habit of “living by accident.” Whatever opportunities or requests cross your path, you simply follow. Without a clear purpose or vision, it isn’t always obvious which choices are best and which ones are best left alone. I want to remind you to live on purpose – intentionally spending your time, talents, and resources in a way that is truly meaningful for you. Revisit the vision you’ve set for your life and confirm whether your actions are still aligned with it.

Being intentional is the only way to reach a goal or achieve a vision. It means breaking out of a rut and consciously choosing your actions each day. It means noticing when you are tempted to veer off your preferred path and choosing to step back onto it. You may stumble along the way, but don’t dwell on the setbacks. Simply get back up and keep moving forward.

This week, consider the five key areas of your life – your relationships, work, finances, health and spiritual life. During this season of busyness, what ways could you be more intentional? Perhaps it’s time to choose to slow down and attend only one or two events that are special to you – or stay home rather than traveling out of town. Maybe being intentional during this season means not overspending. Instead, you commit yourself to a budget and stick to it. Or perhaps for you, being intentional is about tuning in to the spiritual significance of this season, and tuning out the commercialization of it. Whatever “being intentional” looks like for you, ask yourself, “How can I be more intentional in the coming weeks? And when January rolls around, how will I know I was successful?”


My challenge to you this week:

Be intentional. Consciously make choices that are aligned with your vision for your life.

Journaling assignment:
What is the vision I have set for myself in my relationships, work, finances, health and spiritual life? If I don’t have one, what vision would I like to set? How will I be more intentional in the coming weeks about aligning my actions with my vision. Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

Thank You!

A couple of days ago, my brother Wade – who now works with me, walked into my office with a non-descript box that had just arrived from my publisher. Inside, five copies of a hot pink paperback book with foreign symbols I couldn’t make out. “What’s this?” I asked as I squinted carefully, as though staring more intently would somehow make the words make sense. The only symbol on the cover to offer a clue was the number “9.” “Ohhh … I know what this is! It’s one of the new foreign editions of “Successful Women Think Differently: 9 habits to make you happier, healthier and more resilient .” Recently, I received word that the book will be translated into several foreign languages, including Spanish, French, Russian, and Portuguese. This new arrival was the Russian edition.

Sitting in my office, staring at the cover, I thought of who might read it. What is that woman’s daily life like halfway around the world? And how amazing that my words have a chance to reach and encourage her. A wave of gratitude rushed over me as I thought of the series of events and people required to make something like this happen – and one of those thoughts settled on you. Yes, you! You see, I can write to my heart’s content and hope that my words will resonate with readers, inspiring them to live more fulfilling, purposeful lives. But until those readers buy the books and start talking about them to their friends, spreading the word of mouth, the words don’t have the opportunity to make an impact. So as we head into Thanksgiving week, I want to tell you THANK YOU. It is because of your enthusiasm about this book that it is now garnering interest around the world!

Success doesn’t occur in a vacuum. We can’t “go it alone.” Without you forwarding my newsletters, buying my books for you or your friends, or hosting book club and small group discussions, this opportunity would not have happened. I wrote my first book 15 years ago and self-published it using my nearly maxed-out credit card with a plan of breaking even the first month. It came off the presses the day before Thanksgiving in 1999. Reaching out to everyone I knew, I broke even by selling 400 books in the first three weeks – most of them purchased as Christmas gifts I personally signed. Back then, I filled every book order myself, packaged them and made constant runs to the Post Office, sometimes selling books to the postal clerks who were curious about what I was up to – and the customers in line around me. I kept copies in the trunk of my car “just in case”, and called up local television stations for interviews. Some pretty wonderful people help me with those things today, but I’m grateful I was once the author, the editor, the publicist, the accountant, the order-taker, the salesperson and the marketing director – because it makes me appreciate where I am on my journey so much more.

Every once and a while, you need to stop and remember when – when you used to dream of being where you are now. Whether you’ve made it into a new career or finally found the love of your life or become a mom or climbed your way out of debt, you might not be exactly where you want to be, but thank God you are further along that you used to be! Researchers point out that gratitude counteracts our tendency towards “hedonic adaptation,” the process of adjusting to continually improving circumstances. As you succeed, you can raise your expectations and become discontented more easily. But looking back at how far you’ve come gives you perspective on your life and makes you more grateful for your journey.

My challenge to you this week:
Notice how far you’ve come!

Journaling assignment:
In what area(s) of your life have you come a long way? Spend a moment remembering what life was like before your circumstances improved or progress was made. Then write down what you are most grateful for and to whom you are grateful. Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

The Power of Surrender

Surrender. It is a word that conjures up thoughts of giving up and giving in. I picture soldiers on the battlefield, rifles above their heads, allowing all their hard-fought efforts to dissipate, all they’ve fought for coming to nothing. It is no wonder then that the idea of surrendering is not an idea I naturally embrace-even surrendering to God. I have to talk myself into it. I have to remind myself of the wisdom of surrender.

Fighting the Battle

Sometimes, we find ourselves stuck because we are fighting the wrong battle-one we will never win because it is not ours to win. We work ourselves into a frenzy creating plans, devising strategies, and repeatedly hitting a roadblock in our life management. Determined not to give up on our goals, we go back to the drawing board and come up with a new plan. Surely, this plan will work. We’ve learned from our mistakes, accounted for them, and sought advice from all the right people. We try again. And once again, we hit a roadblock. This cycle can go for some time before we get so worn down we even secretly question whether God is on our side. Have you ever been there?

It isn’t something I pride myself on admitting as a believer-the idea that I have ever questioned God. But I have. I have had my moments-quiet moments-lying in bed pondering a situation and wondering why God was withholding something from me. Am I being punished for something? What am I doing wrong? Why does it seem to happen so easily for so-and-so, but not for me? And as I ponder more, the temptation is to become angry.

Asking the Right Questions 

Instead, I grow curious. I’ve walked long enough with God to know those questions are the wrong ones to ask. I’ve been humbled frequently enough to know my good deeds and obedience fall short of deserving even the blessings that have already overtaken me. Those questions are the enemy’s whisper, not God’s. In moments of deep disappointment and frustration, when I lean on my own understanding rather than trusting God’s process, my ears are open to hear the lies. It is a line of thinking that gets me stuck, asking, “Why? Why don’t You know better what I need? Why don’t You see the timeline I see? Why don’t You open the door that would be so easy for You to open?”

Rather than look at such questions rhetorically, I believe God invites us to actually answer the questions. I mean, He is God. And there must be an answer, right? And if He truly loves us, there must be a reason your timing and God’s timing aren’t aligned-an explanation for that closed door.

Spiritual surrender is to stop fighting for your own agenda and turn yourself over to the service of the Almighty. It is to want what God wants for you. It is to stop battling with Him and ask, “Lord, what are You trying to show me? What are You trying to teach me? How do You want to use me?” There is a reason the door isn’t open. But in our finite understanding, we may never know the answer why. Our alternative is to keep fighting, to keep pushing against circumstances that push back with equal or greater strength-and remain stuck. Or we can throw our hands up in courageous trust of the Lord. When we do that, we are no longer stuck. We are no longer pushing against what is. Instead, we rest in the Lord and flow in His plan. We find the good in what He has given us and trust that He knows best. We breathe. We trust Him. We surrender.

Trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (ɴɪᴠ)

My challenge to you this week: Surrender. Stop fighting for your own agenda and turn yourself over to the service of the Almighty
 
Journaling Assignment: Pray and meditate on what God is trying to show you in this season of your life. Ask, “Lord, what are You trying to show me? What are You trying to teach me? How do You want to use me?” Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you! 

This post is an excerpt from my book, Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable: Step Into the Amazing Life God Imagined for You.

It’s Not Too Hard!

Have you ever gotten a divine reminder – a little message that reminds you of something you needed in that moment? I got a little reminder and I think it’s a message I’m meant to share with you for whatever you may be facing.

Each day, I begin by acknowledging what I am looking forward to that day. I end the day by acknowledging the experiences, people or things for which I am grateful that day. Recently, I began jotting these down in a gratitude journal that has short scriptures at the top of each page. When I finished writing in the journal yesterday, I closed it and ended my quiet time with prayer. I prayed for something that seemed pretty major to me. It was the kind of prayer that requires a lot of faith to believe it can be manifested. As I got ready to move on with my day, it dawned on me that I had closed the journal without reading the scripture at the top of the page. That’s when I was reminded that a request that seems major to me, isn’t necessarily major to God. It read:

“I am the Lord, the God of the whole human race. Is anything too hard for me?”

- Jeremiah 32:26-27

This week, I want to remind you to have faith that something that seems hard to you – perhaps even impossible – is absolutely possible! Sometimes we are afraid to hope for something more for fear we won’t get it. Refuse to allow fear to dash your hopes and diminish your prayers. In what area of your life have you stopped dreaming? What circumstance have you settled for despite a persistent feeling that it isn’t the right fit for you? What hope do you need to rekindle?

It’s time to exercise your faith muscles. Build them up to believe that more is possible – and you will begin taking steps that demonstrate your belief. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Your heart’s true desire may take more time than you thought to manifest in your life. It may look a little different than you imagined. It may take more work than you signed up for. But your dream is possible. Believe. Persevere. Have faith.

My challenge to you this week:
Stretch your faith. Pray for something that feels “too hard.”

Journaling Question:
In what area of your life have you stopped dreaming? What circumstance have you settled for? What hope do you need to rekindle?

Resistance Means That There’s Something There!

A few months ago I hired a new coach, presumably to help me navigate the multiple transitions I’ve enjoyed this year and to get clarity of my vision moving forward. Several times over the last few months, I hung up with my business coach feeling – to be blunt – a little peeved. I found myself pushing back on his tough questions because, a) they forced me to face some of my habits that might be counterproductive to my goals and b) I didn’t feel like changing those habits and wasn’t totally convinced I could. So our conversations were at times tense, and yet beneath it all, I felt a little tug saying, “Hey, you need this. No coach has ever quite challenged you like this. Don’t run from the challenge.” So I didn’t. Despite my defenses going up, I stuck with it. I was intrigued by the questions and my strong response. What was going on?

To go to the next level, you must get bigger. That means stretching beyond your comfort zone. And that is uncomfortable. Growing usually means growing pains. When a question or opportunity leaves you resisting, defensive and uncomfortable, it is often an indication that there is something there that you need to explore. Rather than run from it, press in. Your boss gives you feedback that hit a nerve? Someone makes a valid observation that left you feeling defensive? Has your journey to a goal stretched you more than expected and left you questioning your own abilities? All are likely to cause resistance.

Breakthroughs happen when you do the hard work of looking honestly at yourself, your habits and the patterns of fear that can get you stuck. Whether it’s exploring why you feel guilty about stuff you didn’t do wrong, or notice how the overachiever in you is really just craving approval and acceptance, “doing the work” requires courage, time and honesty. Take criticism and learn from it. Get better, not bitter. Push through it. That’s how you have a breakthrough.

This week, my breakthrough came – a major shift in how I see my mission. And that breakthrough gave me the insight I needed to see what I believe my next season looks like. It is the vision I have been seeking for months. And finally, thankfully, my eyes are open to it. But without the hard work of pressing in rather than giving up when I met resistance, I’d still be waiting on my breakthrough.

My challenge to you this week:
Ask yourself the hard questions and answer them. Find the grain of truth in criticism. Stretch!

Journaling assignment:
Where are you resisting? What are you defensive about? What is the real issue beneath the resistance? What message is your resistance offering you? Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have your copy of my brand new book Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable yet? Get it here now or any of your favorite retailers!

Are You Ready for Something New?

While unpacking a box in my new office this week, I found a little, brown, leather pocket Bible that was given to me almost ten years ago at a business meeting with a publisher. I used it often until a couple of years ago and the satin ribbon bookmark sewn into the binding still marked the last page I had read. I flipped it open, secretly hoping to find a moment of inspiration – a little nugget that might give me some direction. Highlighted with my own pen marks and scribbles, I found this:

“Forget the former things; Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”

 

Until a couple of years ago, that scripture from Isaiah 43:18 was completely unfamiliar to me. I mean, I must have read it at some point, but it wasn’t something I remembered. Then oddly, a couple of years ago, that scripture kept crossing my path. I heard a pastor mention it in a sermon. Then I read a book and the author quoted it. Then I turned on the television, and someone referenced it. I took it as a sign that I needed to pay attention. This was the message I sensed in my spirit and this week, as the scripture appeared randomly as I opened my little, old pocket Bible, I wonder if it is a message I am meant to pass along to you:

Forget the old stuff you wish were different – you cannot change what happened or did not happen in the past. Don’t dwell on it because something new and better is forming right now. Can’t you tell? You are not alone. Out of desolate and desperate situations, God will make a way. Believe it. Then receive it.

I believed the message, even though it didn’t look like anything was springing up at all. But isn’t that what it means to have faith? To believe and hope and move towards a vision which can only be seen in your mind’s eye. At the time, my hope and vision was for a beautiful marriage and family. I could sense it springing up, even though there was no evidence of it yet. And today, that is exactly what I have. But I honestly don’t believe I would have it if I had dwelled on the past and given up hope for my future. After all, faith is the substance of things hoped for. Faith cannot exist without hope.

I don’t know what you are hoping for, but this week, I invite you to forget the former things and stop dwelling on the past. A new and good thing is springing up. The next chapter of your life awaits you. But you cannot write your next chapter while you are still re-reading an old one.

My challenge to you this week:
Open your eyes to the new thing that is springing up in your life! Give yourself permission to hope for it. Believe it.

Journal about it:
What are the “former things” you need to forget? What is it time to stop dwelling on? When you get quiet and pay attention, what “new thing” do you perceive springing up in your life? Post your comments below or share this message on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you have your copy of my brand new book Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable yet? Get it here now or any of your favorite retailers!

The Power of a Small Gesture!

We took a family trip to London a few weeks ago. Maybe you saw some of the personal pics on my Facebook fan page. It was so much fun – my first time in England, and my first time back in Europe since living there as a kid. One night, after going to the West End to see the hit musical Wicked, I was tired, but knew if I didn’t do my hair before going to bed, I would regret it the next morning. My hair is as light as cotton, so no style survives eight hours on a pillow – even a satin one. Despite how tired I was, I stayed up, washed it and then stood in the mirror twisting my hair. My husband, already under the covers about to drift off to sleep, looked over curiously and asked if I would show him how I twist it. I did. He twisted it. The next morning I untwisted it and loved it. I declare, that man can do anything!

 

As he brushed out my tight curls to make sure they were as smooth as possible before twisting them, he said, “I just love your hair. It’s so pretty, so soft.” I felt an unexpected wave of emotion. It wasn’t the first time he’s told me how much he loves my curls. But I guess the combination of him doing my hair and genuinely appreciating its beauty felt like salve on an old wound. Caught off guard by the tears I felt welling up inside, I said quietly, “I know you will probably never understand why your words about my hair feel so good, but thank you.”

To be honest, until I was 35 years old, I really didn’t like my hair at all. I did all that I could to make it look different than the way it grows out of my head. I didn’t think it was long enough, straight enough, thick enough, pretty enough. What I was really saying to myself is that my hair wasn’t acceptable as is. When I finally went natural in 2008, I was shocked to see that my hair, without chemicals, is hair that I like. More than acceptable, it is authentically me. And to have that punctuated by Jeff’s compliment as he cared for my hair that night was a beautiful thing. Being fully accepted and appreciated just as you are frees you to fully be you.

Words are powerful and healing. The words you say to yourself, the words you say to others and the words you ingest from others. This week, I invite you to affirm someone in your life for the authentic beauty you see in them. Don’t keep your thoughts to yourself. Share them. Be genuine. It only takes a moment to bless someone with your words. Whether it is your spouse or your child or a co-worker or friend, your words just might be the healing salve they need that day – the words God uses to speak truth to their soul.

My challenge to you this week:

Affirm the beauty you see another that they may not see in themselves.

Journaling assignment:

Who needs your words of affirmation this week? What could you genuinely say that would be meaningful and even healing to that person? What are you waiting for – when will you say it?! Leave your comments below, I’d love to hear from you!

Do you have your copy of my brand new book Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable yet? Get it here now or any of your favorite retailers!

Gear Up, Don’t Give Up!

There’s often a point as you are moving towards your vision when things just get hard. You get tired. The road is longer than you expected it to be, and you wonder if things will ever come together. And to be honest, you feel like giving up. In fact, you can try to convince yourself that the vision is not all that big of a deal. You don’t really want it that much. Yeah, that’s right. You’ll be just fine without it.

But your spirit knows that is not true. And today, I want to encourage you to gear up rather than give up. Gear up for the final stretch! Stay in the game. Admit you want it. You really want it. And you are willing to go all out to get it. If it doesn’t work out, you’ll deal with the devastation then. But today, you’re all in! Fear of disappointment tempts us to pretend our desires aren’t that important. Courage says, “I want it and I’m willing to risk failure and heartache to get it.” Where is this message true for you right now? Maybe it is the relationship you desire or the financial breakthrough or the dream career or a family of your own or healing from a health challenge.

I just want to encourage you today to be bold and courageous. Be willing to be ridiculed for being a dreamer, an optimist, a fool. Your tenacity will be rewarded, one way or another. I’d rather be a dreamer, an optimist or fool than a settler, a pessimist and full of regret.

My challenge to you:
Gear up, don’t give up! The road might be long, but it will be worth it.

Journaling assignment:
What does this week’s message mean to you? In what way do you need to gear up for the long haul? Leave your comments below; I’d love to hear from you!