Ask and Listen! There are amazing people and stories all around us!

I was reminded recently that I should not only focus on myself and my needs, but keep others in mind on a continual basis. This is an obvious statement, and we do provide for so many needs in our lives. We support our spouse or significant other, our kids, our co-workers, etc. But how often are we intentional about truly placing the attention on another person? It is so much easier to focus on ourselves, talk about ourselves, and think of ourselves.

stories of others
Over the past year I have tried to shift my mindset about the conversations I engage in, and it has been amazing. I have learned so much about so many people that I would have never known if I did not intentionally ask. My husband and I meet up with his grandmother once a month for lunch. We take that time to catch up on life, but I have also started to ask questions about times gone by, times with her husband who is now diseased, how life was for her growing up, and the places she has traveled in her life. Her life and her stories are amazing! It brings great joy to her to share and reminisce about these times, and it brings me tremendous joy as I listen.

How often, in our daily conversations, do we really listen to people? How often do we put others first in our conversations? How often are we intentional about asking others about their past or present experiences? All of these things take some intentionality. For me, and I would guess for most of us, this does not come naturally. I have had to:

  • Prepare ahead of time by thinking if questions I can ask.
  • I take some time to think about the person I am getting ready to have a conversation with, who is important to them, and what is important to them.
  • I think about their hobbies and interests. If I don’t know of any, my first question is “what do you love to do for fun?”
  • I think of events that recently happened in their life and ask them about them.

What happens next is vital.

Listen.

When we truly listen and are interested in the person the next question comes naturally. Yes, there is a chance that you will not be able to talk about yourself, but it is very rewarding to put someone else first. I have had some of the greatest lunches, car rides, and walks with others when I make it all about them. Be the bright spot in someone’s day, ask about them, listen and make it all about them.

What upcoming conversation can you be intentional about? It could be someone right in front of you.

Beauty in the place where NEW and NORMAL meet!

Today’s post may seem like a contradiction to my normal “go get-em” posts. But as I reflected on my week, I realized that even though it was great, it was pretty ordinary. At first I interpreted this as a bad thing, but I also knew deep down that it was a great week. How can something so ordinary be so great?

I believe it is important to continually grow in life. For me, I try to grow by reading and hearing other perspectives. I also like to try something new every once in a while. Ordinary, on the other hand, is defined as “with no special or distinctive features; normal.” This week, I found beauty in the place where NEW and NORMAL meet.

beauty in ordinary
My week probably looked a lot like yours. Laundry, house cleaning, lawn work, work work, errands, exercise, bathed the dog (or kids for many of you), paper work, and appointments. A pretty ordinary week. I did not come up with any great discoveries, nor scale a mighty mountain (with the exception of the laundry pile). But I did:

  • Meet a new and extraordinary person.
  • I was able to show generosity by giving a large tip to someone who works hard but makes little money.
  • I was able to move forward in getting UN-STUCK by learning some new exercises to help my aching back.
  • I was able to support and encourage those close, special people in my life.
  • I was able to make my home a comfortable place to be and live.
  • I exercised and had a medical procedure to improve my health.

All of these things are very ordinary because we do them all the time, no special or distinctive features, but they are wonderful!

Give yourself credit today for the little things!

  • Be proud of the fact that you kissed and loved your kids and significant others this morning.
  • Remember and acknowledge the new people that come into your life.
  • Realize the smile you gave someone, or the door you held for someone, made a difference.
  • Consider the work you do around the house to be a job well done and a job that improves the lives of those you love.

Give yourself credit! Yes, there is always more to do, more to learn, places to go, people to see. But embrace the ordinary in your life as well!

What did you do today or this week that seemed ordinary, but needs to be seen as extraordinary?

I’m Stuck! There’s No Way Out!

There are few feelings worse than feeling STUCK. It brings along with it the feeling of hopelessness, fear, and anxiety, which drain what little bit of energy we have left. It is a horrible place to be. When we feel STUCK, we look around and it seems like there is no way out, no life-preserver, no helping hand.

But there is hope! There are people and resources all around us to help us get UN-STUCK. The question is, are we willing to do what it takes to reach out for that helping hand?

boat in mucThis week I had two incidents of feeling overwhelmed to the point where my chest muscles tightened, I felt short of breath, and I had a hard time calming myself down. I wondered if I was having a heart attack, asthma, or possibly a mild anxiety attack. I reached out to a trusted friend who has dealt with similar symptoms in the past and she confirmed my suspicion, anxiety. She shared her story with me and we talked through what I needed to do to get better, how to feel less STUCK.

In life, we make decision after decision that slowly slides us towards this place of “BEING STUCK”. We spend too much $, we don’t discipline our children, we stay at work instead of going to our son’s baseball game, or daughters soccer game, we lay on the couch instead of going for a walk, we watch 4 plus hours of TV a night instead of investing time with those who love us. All of these decisions gradually build up to the point where we feel like we are at the point of no return. Over time we get STUCK. The good news is that, over time with right decisions, we can get UNSTUCK!

What decisions have you made to bring you to a place of being STUCK?

The answer to this question is very important, because one of the first steps in getting UN-STUCK is to take responsibility for your situation. It is time to swallow your pride and come to the realization that you should have done things differently in the past. It’s time to replace the bad habits with good habits, get on track and get UN-Stuck!

There are many resources you have available, but a great place to start is to ask someone for help. We are fed a lie in our lives that “we should be able to do it on our own”. Science, psychology and religion tell us that we are meant to do things together, to depend on one another, not to be alone. Stop believing the “Lone Wolf” lie and reach out for a helping hand. Reach out to:

  • Someone you can trust. Go to someone who will keep your conversations confidential.
  • Someone who can actually help you. If you go to someone who cannot help you, you have to ask yourself if you are just going to vent and really have no intention of getting UN-STUCK.
  • Someone who has experienced the same thing you have, and have worked their way out of that situation.
  • You may need to find an organization to help like Alcoholics Anonymous, Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, Etc. There are organizations out there for you, you just have to make the effort to find them.
  • You may need to hire a Personal Life Coach to help you identify your next action steps and hold you accountable for following through on them.
  • You may need to hire a counselor, a lawyer, an accountant, whoever it takes to move you forward and get UN-STUCK!

It is a CHOICE. Your CHOICE. Are you willing to do what it takes to get to where you really want to be? If the answer is YES, what are you going to do today to move forward?