Grow Through What You Go Through

grow through

We had a sermon on this topic a few weeks back at church. And to be honest, the timing was perfect. While the majority of my life is flowing beautifully, there are a couple of areas that I wish I was experiencing less struggle.

Life can be a struggle. And some of us seem to have to struggle more than others. In fact, there are times when we feel like, “enough already.” We complain that it isn’t fair. We complain that it never works out for us. We complain that the cards are stacked against us.

But, what if, instead of complaining, we show appreciation for the challenge? You see, being fixated on the obstacle keeps us from seeing the purpose of the journey and keeps us from getting through the struggle to victory. Because every obstacle and struggle is just a life lesson that allows us to progress forward. Sometimes it is a lesson we have to learn and sometimes it’s a lesson for others to learn through us. And not seeing the lesson keeps us stuck where we are. We have to learn and appreciate the lesson before the struggle has served its purpose.

You cannot survive what you are experiencing if you allow it to crush you and your spirit. And as my minister reminded us, not being crushed is our responsibility and no one else’s. It is our decision whether we will be crushed or we will grow.

Growth only happens outside of our comfort zone. Growth only happens as a result of struggling through something. That struggle prepares us for the next step. The step that is better than where we are today.

So, the next time you are struggling – the next time you are facing something you are not sure you can endure, rest easy in the fact that it’s part of the journey. It’s part of the process for getting to an ideal place. Rest easy and know that God will give you the peace and creativity to find a better, and meaningful, way through to the other side.

Don’t allow your spirit to be crushed but instead listen closely to learn what or how you are to grow through what you are going through.

 

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Problems vs. Situations

Jamaica.JPG

Life lessons are all around us if you are open to receiving them. Last year on our family vacation to St. Lucia, I learned the importance and benefits of unplugging. (You can read all about it here: “What I Learned from Unplugging”.

This year on our trip to Jamaica, I learned something that I immediately knew I needed to share with you. John and I have been to Jamaica before and one of the things that makes that location so special is the people. Jamaicans just have an envious demeanor and outlook on life. That laid-back, “no worries mon” attitude is contagious while there.

At dinner on our first night, we had the pleasure of meeting this wonderful young lady named Arlene. (That’s me with Arlene in the picture.) She works at the restaurant and was a complete joy to be in the company of. I can’t remember if it was our daughter or her friend that asked Arlene why Jamaicans always seem so happy. Arlene shared this analogy.

She said that Jamaicans are generally happy because of the way they deal with challenges. You see, most challenges fall into one of two categories – problems or situations. Now, situations are those challenges that have a solution. For instance, if your wine glass is empty, you just fill it back up again. Easy. Ain’t nothing but a situation.

Now problems, on the other hand, are challenges that really can’t be solved in a satisfactory manner. Using the wine glass example again, she said a problem would be that your wine glass is empty because you dropped it and it broke. Even if you were able to pick up every single piece of glass and glue it all back together, its never going to hold wine without leaking. No matter how much effort you put into it, it will never be the same again. So, really there is no reason to put the effort into it. Easy. Just move on.

Now I know that this doesn’t work for every challenge that appears in our lives but what a brilliant way to look at those smaller challenges that we usually get the most worked up over.

So, the next time you have a challenge or something that is just pulling you down decide if it’s a problem or a situation. If it’s a situation, then stop stewing over why and how, and fix it. No worries mon. And if it’s a problem, stop stewing over why and how, let it go and walk away. No worries mon.

It’s a beautiful way to approach life.

If You Believe, So Will They

Believe

Are you ready? I have another volleyball story. But this time it’s about me, not my daughter.

My husband and I sit at the scorer’s table for every match. Him to keep the official scorebook. And, me, to do libero tracking. We make a good team and most of the referees who work our matches enjoy working with us.

Recently, my husband was out of town and unable to make a match. I arranged for someone to sub for him so the scorebook would be covered. Long story short, there was some mis-communication and the sub didn’t make it. We had no-one to keep the scorebook…except for me. The only problem with me keeping the book is that I have never done so before.

Now, I have been playing volleyball for over 30 years so am intimately familiar with the sport. Since I get the sport, I was fairly confident that I could figure out how to do the book. So, I sucked it up, swallowed my nervousness, and got to work setting up the sheet for our match. (And frantically looking through past matches in the book to see if I could figure out how it is done.)

A few minutes later, the referees walked in. Both were people that my husband and I have worked with before. They both approached the scorer’s table and said, “we are so happy to see you and so glad the book will actually be done right tonight.” No pressure, right.

Since I was sitting there looking like I was in charge they just assumed that I knew how to do the book. And I wasn’t going to correct them at this point.

Normally the home team keeps the official book and we were the visiting team that night. Shortly into the first set the home team scorebook keeper missed that the home team was out of rotation. The referee closest to me walked over to the table, told her that I was now going to keep the official book, and then asked her to sit right next to me so that I could teach her how to do it. What? I’d never done the book before so I certainly wasn’t officially “qualified” to teach her but I went with it.

The evening went well. I now officially know how to do the book…and so does the girl from the other team. So, what’s the point of me telling you all of this?

So many of my clients, and quite honestly, me, suffer from imposter syndrome. We never feel ready or qualified to put out into the world that we are experts at anything. That little voice in our head constantly screams that we don’t have enough experience or asks who are we to say we know what we are doing. But 95% of the time, we do know what we are doing. There are always going to be people more qualified or more experienced than we are but it doesn’t mean we don’t know what we are doing and shouldn’t be ready to step into our personal expertise. We aren’t talking about pretending to be a heart surgeon if we’ve never gone to medical school. We’re talking about stepping into and owning what you already are and how you want to serve people. Whether that’s a business owner, a coach, a personal that specializes in a particular niche, etc.

You see, if you believe in yourself even a little bit and then build on it from there. If you trust in yourself enough to know that if you run into unfamiliar territory your life’s experiences and intelligence will allow you to figure it out – they will begin to believe in you too.

Manifestation Observations

manifestation observations

This post is brief but I want to share a personal observation that I recently made about manifesting. Now, I do believe in the Law of Attraction and in the power of manifestation. However, I struggle with fully implementing the concept in my life. I have a life-time of beliefs that cause inner conflicts that keep me from really allowing things to show up.

For example, one of my conflicts is the fact that I am a believer in God. My struggle is that I feel that if I’m manifesting then I’m taking the glory away from what God is providing by claiming it was me instead of Him. So, I’m working to remind myself that what I’m really manifesting is the awareness of the opportunities that He provides so that I can take advantage of them.

I recently had a family situation around manifestation that shed some light on another internal conflict. Here’s the story:

Our daughter asked to go to a concert – a really expensive concert – in another city (which would require a plane ticket and hotel accommodations). I wasn’t willing to spend the money but one of her friends (and family) was attending and they invited our daughter to go along. We decided to let her go but only if she raised enough money to pay for the entire thing herself.

At first, she was super motivated and created a plan for making the money. The plan included getting a part-time job, baby-sitting, and selling things she no longer uses. She put the word out and then just sat back and waited for the opportunities to arise. Which they did. And she worked them as they came. But after putting the word out, she completely let the stress of raising the money go.

Within a couple of weeks, she had raised 80% of the money she needed. And I found myself getting frustrated with her. Frustrated that she wasn’t working hard enough to make it happen. Frustrated because I wanted her to struggle with raising the money because life is a struggle. I didn’t want her to think that life was just going to be this easy. And then I caught myself and I saw it clear as day. All of my limiting beliefs that you have to work hard to achieve anything. That nothing worthwhile comes easy. That life is meant to be a struggle smacked me right in the face.

Why wouldn’t I want my child to understand that life doesn’t have to be hard? That if you are clear on what you want and then you take advantage of the opportunities as they arise, life can be a lot less stressful and a lot more enjoyable.

And I’m really glad that I caught myself because I almost ruined her positive thinking and beliefs with my limiting beliefs. So, here’s the moral of the story. Our limiting stories are typically passed down to us through our family. If you are aware that our stories impact our lives and also are aware that we are capable of rewriting our stories to improve our lives, then be very careful of the stories you tell your children. Why make them spend their adult lives trying to re-write what we programmed when we can break the cycle now by supporting and reinforcing their empowered stories. It’s one of our gifts to them.

What To Do When You Are In a Funk

a funk

Have you ever worked so hard to build/adopt/acquire a routine that one day you wake up and realize you are in a rut? We constantly read articles about the importance of daily routines and how it accelerates success so we work really hard to develop one that works the best for us – because we all know routines are not one-size-fits-all. We devote ourselves to making the routine stick and exercise all the discipline we can muster to ensure it stays grounded in our daily activity.

I am one of those people who has had to work really hard to develop and then commit to a routine. I have a morning routine based off of Jack Canfield’s suggestions in his “The Success Principles” book where I devote 20 minutes to moving my body, 20 minutes to meditation and affirmations, and 20 minutes to reading. In all of my years of trying to get a routine to work for me, this one has worked the best because its very straight forward and easy to do every day. Which translates to the fact that I can’t really justify not doing it.

Recently, I noticed that I was doing the exact same stretching/moving sequence every morning, I was no longer in tune with what my body was feeling, and my mind was running a thousand miles per hour. I was mindlessly doing the motions which means I wasn’t getting the full benefits of having a routine. I found the same, not so much with my affirmations, but definitely with my reading. I was spending the time reading but I wasn’t mentally invested in the words. This completely defeats the purpose!!

It was clear that I was in a funk that I needed to get out of or I might as well ditch the routine. Here are 3 things I did to mix it up enough to get me back on track.

1.       I changed my stretching sequence. This seems really easy and a no brainer but I’m here to tell you, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you’ll actually do it. There is much less resistance to doing the same thing over and over again – even if it isn’t effective – than to spend the time to try to figure out something new. So, I scheduled a time in my calendar to spend a few minutes researching a program that would work for me in the time frame I have allotted for stretching. (Scheduling the research may seem extreme but if it isn’t on my calendar, I’m not going to get it done.) I found a program on Daily OM that fits exactly what I’m looking for, gives me a new sequence every day, and ensures I complete each lesson because I paid a nominal fee for it. And the great part is that once I’m done with this program, I can move on to another without having to put too much thought into it.

2.       I changed my physiology when doing my affirmations. Sometimes to break a rut all you have to do is change your position. Now, instead of sitting at my desk to go through my affirmations, I stand. A simple change but it allows me to go through them with more authority and emotion.

3.       I changed my location for reading. This is another part of my morning routine that I would complete at my desk. The business books that I like to read are in my office so it makes it easy to grab what I need. But over time, I have felt the pull to check my email or work on a project rather than really immerse myself in what I am reading. The solution? Take my book somewhere else. I found that if I read in a different location or even outside, I absorb what I’m reading so much more…and that’s the whole point.

If you find yourself in the middle of a rut doing the things you’ve committed to do as part of your routine, you can mix it up by making the smallest of adjustments. You don’t have to overhaul the whole routine. Little tweaks can make a big impact and get you back to enjoying all of the benefits you wanted when you started your routine in the first place.

Do you have little – or even big – things that you do to help you get out of a rut? I’d love to hear what you do so please drop a line in the comments and share. And if you find yourself actually stuck and can’t get out, feel free to reach out to me at stacy@minerva.partners and I’ll help you out.

Being Grateful – Even for the Bad

grateful

How many of you have either a formal or informal gratitude practice? I think that most of us who have been working on personal development for a while probably have a pretty consistent routine of acknowledging those things we are grateful for.

Your practice probably includes writing down three to five things you are thankful for every day. Or maybe you talk about them at the dinner table each night. Or maybe you have a gratitude journal you write in every day.

You probably started by recognizing the obvious things like a house, a car, food, your family, etc. Over time you needed to get a little more creative and recognize the not so obvious things in order to keep from repeating items. Maybe it was being thankful for electricity, or song birds, or the bad traffic that gave you extra time to practice patience.

What I have found over the years is that it’s pretty easy to practice gratitude when you have good things to be thankful for. But when things move past inconveniences, like bad traffic, to bad things, it becomes a little harder to be grateful.

I heard an interview recently there the discussion was around the practice of gratitude. The interviewee mentioned that his gratitude practice was easy as long as he focused on good or neutral things. But his gratitude practice went to a whole new level when he started being grateful for the bad things. You see, finding gratitude in the bad flexes a muscle that doesn’t come naturally to us as human beings.

I mean you hear stories of individuals who have turned misfortune into something positive. You’ve heard of failures that have turned into huge successes. You’ve heard of injuries and terminal illnesses that have turned into inspirations to others. But how do you do that in your own life?

While I always try to look on the bright side of things, its easier when you are talking about a missed appointment or that job you didn’t get. Its harder when you think of sadness, badness, or tragedy. But there is beauty in the sadness and there is always something to be grateful for, if you really want to find it.

My mother has dementia. She has been battling it for a couple of years and its not getting any easier on any of us, her included. There isn’t much that I can find to be grateful for about dementia. But after hearing the interview I mentioned earlier and being challenged to find gratitude in even the bad things in life, I spent the time to search. I didn’t find it immediately. I didn’t even find it within a few days but after some intense soul searching, I have found it. Her dementia is forcing me to face vulnerability. And vulnerability is something I just don’t do. The problem is, if I don’t allow myself to be vulnerable with her disease, I’m going to miss the best parts of our time left with her.

Not only will I miss it with her, but my refusal to be vulnerable across the board will cause me to miss a lot of gifts through the rest of my life. Because you have to allow vulnerability to allow joy. And I’m grateful for that.

Is Your Life Full of Incompletes?

Incompletes

Raise your hand if you have heard that cluttered spaces lead to a cluttered mind. I’m sure most of you have. Research has shown that whether it be your closet or office desk, excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.

Did you also know that leaving things that you start in a stage of incomplete does the same thing? When you start something – projects, tasks, relationships, etc. – they go into your memory bank and take up what Jack Canfield calls an “attention unit.” The problem is that you only have so many attention units available at one time. If you use them all up on incomplete items you won’t have enough left over for new opportunities, inspiration, and abundance.

Why is this even a problem? To succeed at anything you must complete it. You have to finish. Unfortunately, most of us get almost to the end and then never actually get it done.

 There are a lot of reasons for leaving things incomplete. Typically, incompletes represent areas where we lack clarity. Sometimes we overcommit and then regret it – so we drag our feet to get it done or avoid it altogether. Sometimes we have to make decisions that are difficult or uncomfortable, so we just let it pile up. Sometimes incompletes come from just not having the right systems in place to make it happen. And sometimes they happen because we have poor work habits.

But whatever the reason, there is a way to break the cycle. Here are a few steps you can take to turn your incompletes to complete.

1.       Take stock of your current incompletes. Just keep a running list of everything you can think of. Don’t forget to include both professional and personal incompletes. For my personal incompletes, I grab a stack of index cards and walk around the house listing the things from each room that need to be addressed. That includes relationships as well.

2.       Implement the 4 Ds. This is a pretty basic management principle. Evaluate every item on your list and decide if it must be done and if it must be done by you (Do it), if it must be done but could be done by someone else (Delegate it), if it must be done but not right now (Delay it), or if it really doesn’t need to be done (Dump it). This is a great way to organize and prioritize your list.

3.       Choose four items and start completing them. Choose items that will immediately free up the most time, energy, or space for you. Your goal should be to complete a major item every quarter and a smaller item every month.

Sounds easy, right? It is! Well, maybe not easy (depending upon your list) but the process is definitely simple. Just remember, when you clear out the old by completing them you make room for the new. It also allows you to operate at a higher vibration because you are showing gratitude through your attention to each item and then completion of each item. For example, completing professional projects shows your gratitude for the work that you do have thus allowing more to come into your life. And, taking care of those household projects shows your gratitude for the possessions you have opening you up to receive more.

I will leave you with this quote from Julia Cameron. “When we clear the physical clutter from our lives, we literally make way for inspiration and good, orderly direction to enter.”

If you need assistance with your incompletes and clutter, please reach out to see how I can help you through that process. I can be reached at stacy@minerva.partners.