Saying No Is Hard To Do

The Holiday Party invitations are starting to arrive in the mail, and the calendar for the next couple of months is starting to fill up. But what is the solution if we have decided to slow down this Holiday Season? What do we do if our priorities for the rest of the year conflict with what everyone else wants of us? I don’t know about you, but saying “no” is hard to do!


This December I have a weekend scheduled to remove myself from my day-to-day life and focus on how to move my dreams for my book writing and other dreams forward in the upcoming months and year. This week I received an invitation to an important event  that is scheduled for that same weekend. The individuals hosting the event are putting their hearts and a lot of time in the planning  to make it very special. How can I possibly say “no”?

I have a dear friend who has been crazy busy for the past few weeks. Her family’s schedule shows no signs of slowing down. Everyone wants to do a ton of fun things. There is no way she could say “enough is enough” or “no, we are not going to add that to our schedule!” How can she possibly say “no”?

When we are on the outside looking at these scenarios, it is pretty easy to say “yes Jen, you need to get away for that weekend to keep moving forward on your dreams!” but when we are faced with these decisions ourselves, it is so much harder. It feels selfish to put ourselves before other people and their wishes.

I absolutely believe we must work for a compromise with those we love, but sometimes that compromise does mean putting ourselves first. After a week of waffling back and forth, I finally told myself that I had to make a decision. It was incredibly hard, but I decided to decline the invitation to the event and stick with my original plan of focusing on my writing and the upcoming year.

My purpose of this blog post is to remind all of us that it is okay to prioritize ourselves. We all give to others every single day of our lives, so it is good and right for us to treat ourselves with love and respect as well. It may be one of the hardest things you have to do, but remember your life and your priorities are very important, they are essential for you living your BEST!

It may take some time to work through it, but if you feel strongly about adding to or subtracting something from your holiday schedule, talk to those you love and make it happen, for you, this Holiday Season!

Thank you John Regan, for supporting me and my dreams! For taking care of things at home while I take some time away, for myself, to plan and dream about the future!

They Have Gotten Me Through

I have had a week filled with systems at work that failed and needed updating immediately, the health decline of an immediate family member, not prioritizing a loved one and letting them down, and I topped off the week today by catching a cold. With each of these came a multitude of tasks with urgent deadlines, except for getting sick, then everything halted to a stop!  In addition to all of these things, laundry still needed to be done, bills still needed to be paid, I still want to eat right, exercise and keep going. The one thing that got me through this week were baby steps. I kept asking myself “what is the next thing I need to do?” then the next, then the next, then the next.


I started this year out with a set of videos on the topic of baby steps. I never imagined that I would have utilized this concept as much as I have this last year. Baby steps have gotten me through the ups and downs of life. Even though it was stressful at times, knowing I could take small steps to move forward brought me some level of peace and comfort.

I also shared with you that many small steps over a long period of time bring us to great places. I now look back over 2017 and I am thrilled with how far I have come. For me,  it has not been a year of great task achievement, but it has been a year of essential learning that will propel me into a great future. I hope you can look back over this past year and say the same as well.

Whatever it is you need to do, even if it is get through the next 24 hours, take it one baby step at a time. Ask yourself “what is the next thing I need to do to move forward?” and do it…then repeat. Baby steps keep us inching forward even when we don’t feel like it is possible.

Whatever it is that life throws at you this week, keep striving for your best! You are doing great things, one small step at a time!

Let’s Decide Now!

Happy November! Halloween is over and the weather has become colder. We can’t help but think about the upcoming holidays. I sat down with my calendar in hand this morning and realized that it was time for me to decide. Time to decide what my holiday season was going to look like this year.

As you reflect back on past holidays, what are the things that you want to prioritize? What are the things that are of less importance to you? These are great questions to ask now, before our already busy schedules shift into an even higher gear. Just like the other areas of our lives, we have control during the holidays and we have to be intentional in order for them to be the best they can be. Take a few minutes to think about these two questions:

What do you want the overall theme of your holidays to be this year? High energy? Exciting? Fun? Filled with people and events? Slow paced? Relaxing? Filled with one-on-one people time? A little bit of all of the above? Deciding this ahead of time will help us make better decisions as the plethora of invitations come our way over the next few weeks.

I am going to interject one important theme here that we can tend to take for granted, it is staying healthy over the holidays. Yes, there are flu bugs that we may catch that are out of our control, but there is a lot we have that is within our control when it comes to our health over the holidays. Let’s prioritize rest for us and our loved ones. When we are run ragged, it affects our immune system and makes us more susceptible to getting sick. We are also bombarded with special food over the holiday. When we can, let’s add in some nutritious stuff that will give our bodies a boost. I have already started to eat an orange a day to increase my vitamin C. Lastly, if you or your loved ones are sick, and this is purely my opinion, stay home, rest, get better and don’t share the bug with others. Sometimes, we feel like we can’t miss out on an event and this decision can be very hard, but let’s remember that our decisions will affect others in a negative way, in this instance. [end of soapbox]

What are the essentials of your Holiday? Let’s decide now what our essentials are and get them on the calendar. I do not know if you have ever seen the big rocks illustrations. Imagine you have a one gallon clear bucket. You have sand, small rocks, medium-sized rocks and large rocks that all need to fit into this bucket. The bucket represents our life, the sand represents the non-essential busy work that we feel is expected of us, the small rocks are a little bit more important aspects of our lives, mediums rocks are pretty important, but the big rocks are those most important things that are very important to us. Many times, especially during the holidays, we can get wrapped up in all of the little stuff that everyone else expects us to do. This is placing the sand in our clear bucket first. The same goes for those small rocks, filling our time with non-essential things. The heart breaking aspect of this illustration and what can easily happen over the holidays, is that we fill our bucket with the less important stuff. When it’s time to place our most important BIG ROCKS into our lives, there is no room to fit them in. If we take a different approach and place the BIG ROCKS in first, the most essential things, them some medium rocks, them a few small rocks fit in and we can even fit some of the sand in too. What’s so important is that we first and foremost, fit in the most important things. Whatever is most important to you for the holidays, your BIG ROCKS, let’s get them on the calendar now, then fit the other items in after.

We all go into the holiday season with a very special picture in our mind of what we want it to be. Let’s do all we can to make this holiday season the best it can be for ourselves and our loved ones.

If we do not decide what our holidays will look like now, everyone else will decide for us. Let’s take control, be intentional and have a great holiday season living our absolute BEST!

Is It Contentment That I Seek?

I have been asking myself lately, “What is it in life that I want? Do I seek happiness? Joy? What is it that I want?” Both Happiness and Joy and wonderful things, but they did not seem to be enough or realistic on an ongoing basis. Then the word contentment came to mind. Finding contentment in my life, as much as I can, sounds really nice.

I don’t quote the Bible very often in my blog posts, even though I am a believer in Jesus Christ and rely on the Bible as my source of direction in life. In Philippians 4:11, Paul says he has “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Wow, I am far from that, but I would love to get to the point where I felt that way. As I was thinking about the concept of contentment, I took some time to think about what brings me contentment in life. When do I feel at peace? I found this to be an interesting exercise that might be worth giving a try. Here are a few things that I wrote down:

  • I feel content when I am strong (physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually)
  • I feel content when I am doing things for other people
  • I am content in the quiet
  • I am content living and working at a moderate, steady pace
  • I am content in the warmth
  • I am content in the presence of a positive, can do attitude
  • I am content in a clean, simple and organized environment
  • I am content when I am living the life God wants me to live

It would be great for each of us to live in this perfect world of contentment, but reality can be loud, fast paced, disorganized, negative and cold, right? I am not yet sure how to find contentment when life does not go my way, but this exercise of identifying what makes me content helped me out in one big way.

It made me realize that I want to fill my life with as much “contentment” as possible. There are a lot of things that are out of my control, but there are a lot that is within my control too. As I finished up the above list, I reflected on my life, on my list of “things I want to do” and compared them to the things that bring me contentment. Most of the things that I want to do in my life fit well with the things that bring me contentment, but there were a few that did not fit real well. I suddenly realized that I could use my “contentment list” as a tool to help me determine my future pursuits. I do have some control over bringing contentment into my life, and so do you.

Now, for those times when life is loud, fast paced, disorganized and cold, I am going to have to find a way to find contentment and peace in the middle of it. I am not real sure how to do that yet, but I have a lifetime to figure that one out. In the meantime, I would love for you to join me in creating a list of things that bring you contentment. Use that list to intentionally bring more contentment into your life. Life is one big experiment, right?

I would love to hear from you and your thoughts on finding contentment. Thank you to each of you who have commented or sent me an email in past weeks. You are all an inspiration to me! Keep the thoughts coming, and I am sure to incorporate them into future posts.

Here’s to adding more contentment into our lives in order to live our BEST!

As Good As One, Two, Three!

Be kind to yourself. Be true to yourself. Chart a course for yourself.

These three things are so important!

First, be kind to yourself! You and I can be our own worst critic. We know when we have fallen short. We do not need anyone else to beat us up about a mistake, because we are usually well on top of kicking ourselves when we are down. I am learning though, and I hope, you are learning along with me, that we are never going to be perfect. In order to live the best life that we can, we need to learn to be kind to ourselves. Just like learning any new things, we have to start, keep trying and over time and with practice, we will get better and better at being kind to ourselves. We all extend kindness to others each day, let’s keep a portion of that kindness for ourselves, too. Let’s also remember to treat ourselves every once in a while. It could be grabbing a yummy coffee, scheduling a spa day, or maybe spending some time with a friend. Whatever makes you happy, let’s make sure we get those things added into our schedule.  

Second, be true to yourself. This is one that I have been working through quite a bit lately. It is human nature to try to impress our desires onto someone else. Our desires are so much a part of who we are, it seems natural that others should feel the same way. For example, I have the desire to look at everything with rose-colored glasses. Because this is so important to me, I shared with my husband, John, that he should look at life the exact same way. He was kind and listened to me, but a few days later he explained that he does not see things the same way. It was a good reminder for me to allow John to be true to who he is, and it also reminded me to continue to be true to who I am. The same goes for our dreams for the future. It’s important for each of us to have our own dreams for the future. It is true, when we have a significant other in our lives, that we share our dreams with each other, but I am coming to see that John and I need to have our own individual dreams too. I have dreams of getting on my bike for multiple day trips to see the countryside. John has a dream of having an RV and seeing our country that way. I think we can make those dream mesh together, they are simply going to look a little different for each of us. It can be easy at times to just go along with someone else’s dreams, but I encourage you to have dreams of your own, and be true to them.

Third, chart a course for yourself. You have probably figured out by now that I am a planner. Chances are, if you have continued to read my blog for this long, you are too. The only way to get where we want to go is to decide where we want to go, figure out how we should start moving forward, and start take steps towards our goal. There are times that numbers need to be crunched to make sure we reach a goal. There are times where we have to learn new things to move forward, but regardless of what it is, I believe we need to chart a course for ourselves. John and I were out on a walk this morning talking about our future, and we both acknowledged that there are so many variables that make planning for our future a challenge. We have an end goal in mind, we know the things we already have in place, the things we need to work on, and we keep moving forward. But I also need to set my own individual course as well. Sure, John and I have shared goals, but I need to make sure that I am setting the right course for myself too. I want John to do the same for himself as well. Having a goal and moving forward on a plan gives us something great to work towards and hope for the a great future.

I don’t think you can go wrong if you are kind to yourself, true to yourself and chart a course for yourself. Enjoy your week ahead and live your BEST every single day!

You Mean There Is No Finish Line?

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. wrote in her book Mindset, “once a problem improves, people often stop doing what caused it to improve.Once you feel better, you stop taking your medicine.” She continues, “But change doesn’t work that way. When you’ve lost weight, the issue doesn’t go away.” “These changes have to be supported or they can go away faster than they appeared.”I AM DOING EXACTLY WHAT DR. DWECK DESCRIBED!!!…and I have done it so many times before. Wow this one is challenging!

My real life example right now is exercise. As many of you know, I have been training hard for the past year. It was challenging, but, it felt so good to be strong and vibrant. In my mind, I was determined to keep up that same level of exercise after I crossed the finish line at a recent event, but the past two weeks have not played out that way at all.

After achieving a goal, I have faced a big challenge and I wonder if you have dealt with this as well?

It has been my desire to stay “fit” after I cross the finish line, but I also want to move forward on other plans as well. Suddenly though, I realize I do not have the time or energy for both, so the fitness level I had just reached has started to slip. Another example is losing weight. Losing weight is tough stuff, but as the pounds come off, we feel better and better. Losing weight requires a tremendous amount of energy and focus. It is easy once we reach our goal to think we can move on to other things and not give our eating the same amount of attention. Unfortunately, when it does not get our focus, the scale starts creeping back up again. Yes, I think we can get into some level of “maintenance mode” with our goals, but I am having to face the fact that they will still require a lot of my energy.

This makes me sad, I’m not going to lie. Because I have a lot of things I want to accomplish and I want them all to happen NOW! But reality reminds me that I only have so much time in a day, and I only have so much energy I can put forth. Therefore, I am grappling with a truth that I do not like. If I want to put forth time and energy to stay healthy, and reach other goals in life:

  • First I have to choose which areas are most important.
  • Second, I have to limit the number of them that I pursue at one time.

It’s giving the most of my energy to a few big, important things, instead of spreading myself out trying to do a lot of little things. I still plan on accomplishing my goals, but it might just take a little bit longer to accomplish all of them. I guess it’s the bucket list concept.

Wow, the paring back continues. In the past I have talked about removing non-essentials, but I never imagined I would need to cut back this much. I will have to be honest with you, this process of paring back also brings me hope, hope that I can accomplish some things that are big and important to me. Trying to move forward on so many things at once in the past has drained some of the hope out of me. I do have a lot of great things to look forward to in life, they will simply take time and focus.

Please share with me your thoughts on this cutting back stuff. Feel free to comment below or send me an email. It is not easy stuff, and I am still trying to figure it out too. I would love to hear your thoughts, even if you do not agree. There is so much I can learn from each of you!

Here’s to a great week ahead trying to figure out this BEST life stuff!

I feel like I’m letting everyone down.

It is a horrible feeling to feel as though we have let others down in our lives. Is there a solution? Is there a way to live our BEST life and manage to be everything to everyone? I think we all know the answer to that, but it is not easy when you are in the middle of it.

As I was driving home for lunch one day this week, I was listening to a friend’s message sharing a story of a woman in her life who was feeling overwhelmed and brought to tears this past week. When my friend talked to her, she simply said “I feel like I am letting everyone down.”  As I continued to drive home, my heart broke for this woman, but, also exposed in me a very similar feeling. I too felt like I was letting a number of people down this week, and it was a horrible feeling.

I would love to come to you with an amazing solution to this problem, but I do not know of one. In fact, I was laying in bed last night coming to the realization that there was nothing more I could do this week. I did what I felt like I could do and sometimes that is simply going to fall short of the expectations of others. I forced myself to acknowledge what I did accomplish and find a way to be okay with falling short in other areas. It was hard to accept, but, once I did, I was able to relax and give myself a break. I felt my shoulders relax, not even realizing how tense I had been. I realized the longer I felt the guilt and pressure of letting others down, the more depleted I felt. I realized the more I focused on letting others down, the bigger that feeling grew in my mind and the worse I felt.

I certainly don’t want to make light of letting others down because many times it is our own choices and over-commitments that get us into those situations in the first place. It is not something I want to do often, because it does hurt others as well as me. I did find, though, that it is not healthy to ruminate on it either. I tried to learn from the experience so that I do not do it again. I got a good night’s rest and tried to treat the new day as a fresh start.

I know I am not going to be perfect, but I am going to try to put the past in the past, and try to live my best and give my best each day.

Here’s to being kind to ourselves! We are amazing individuals giving life our all. Let’s keep our heads up, give today our best, accept the fact that we won’t be perfect, and know that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities.

Anything I Can Do, You Can Do Better

I have been able to accomplish some fun things in my life, and I am here to tell you that you are capable of accomplishing even more than me! I believe you can!

woman-jogger-jogging-sport

I am super proud to share with you today, that this morning I was able to participate in, and complete, my first sprint triathlon!!!! I am sitting here is my recliner, unable to move my legs, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to write my blog post.

Today was a sweet day because it has not been a smooth road to get here. I am going to jump back to this weekend, this time last year. Myself, my husband, John, along with some of his co-workers, were scheduled to ride our bikes in a great charity ride here in St. Louis that raises money for cancer research. Just before this fun weekend, I bulged a disc in my lower back. I went from training rides to barely walking. My back kept me off of my bike for months, also causing me to miss a full weekend ride that I had planned with some wonderful ladies. But I had a dream of participating in a triathlon so I decided that December was the time to get a pass to the local rec center, start to swim  and run and be ready for a local Triathlon in April. Hee Hee, wishful thinking! The bulged disk flared up with a vengeance in the early part of April. My dream was put on hold even longer. Finally today, one year from my original bulged disc experience, I jogged over the finish line and reached my goals.

There are a number of things that I did to reach this goal, and I believe with everything in me, that you can do the same to reach your goals and live your dreams.

I did not allow my setbacks to be permanent, and neither should you! There is going to be a weakness in the area of my bulged disc for the rest of my life. I could have seen that as a defeat and stopped. But I knew deep down that I could do something to make myself stronger. I knew this was not a stopping point, but was the start of something new. Yes, I cannot do some things that I used to do, but I have discovered so much more that I can do and want to do, and that is what I focus on. I have found ways to grow and become stronger. Whatever setbacks you have experienced in your life, don’t let them stop you. Try some new things, become creative and see what new opportunities open up for you.

I learned what I was doing wrong, made adjustments, and so can you! I was doing a lot of things wrong, and my bulged disc was a result of many of those things. I learned what I was doing wrong, and what was causing me pain. I learned the new and right ways of doing things and kept moving forward. Those same principles apply to whatever you are trying to move forward in. If what you are doing is not working or is causing mental, physical, emotional, spiritual pain, identify it and try something new. I am constantly making adjustments is my life, and so can you!

I kept doing more of the right stuff, and so can you! Once you discover the “right stuff” to help you succeed in life and your endeavors, do more of that. Fill your life with the right stuff. This will be different for each of us, but pay attention to what works for you and do it!

I prioritized it, and so can you! In the past month or so, I have talked about our essentials in life and our non-essentials. I explained that even though a triathlon is not on most people’s “essentials list” it was on mine. This is something I wanted to do for many reasons and in order for me to make it a reality, I had to prioritize it. Many times we say we want to do something, but until it is placed at a very high priority, it will probably not get the time and attention it needs. If you want to accomplish a goal or live out a dream, you will need to make it an essential and most likely remove something else to make room for it. Boy this is not easy, but it is possible. You can prioritize your essentials to make things happen.

I am celebrating a great accomplishment today. I want the same for you! Please know that whatever I can do, you can do as well, and I think, even better. It takes work, but you can do it!

Here’s to accomplishing great things, resting in our favorite chair afterwards and living our BEST life!

And…..ACTION!

Is there any area of your life where you feel fear? Is there a situation at work? Do you have a big decision to make? Have you committed to something, but feel fear as the deadline approaches? Fear is a part of our everyday lives. The question then, is how do we live with fear and still live our best?

newton-s-cradle-balls-sphere-action-60582

Fear is a part of our makeup as humans. Fear keeps us aware of things that might harm us and allows us to respond to find safety. There are a lot of things that are out of our control in the world we live in, but there is a lot of fearful things that are within our control to change. That is what I want to focus on in this post. What fear is within our control to change and what is the best strategy? I believe it is ACTION!

Conquering fear with action is not a Jen Regan original idea. I have read this concept in countless books and articles. The concept has been around and taught for so long because it works. All you have to do is try it once to experience its positive effects.

Recently I needed to discuss an issue and a potential solution with someone in my life. The person I needed to talk to is a wonderful person, but, because she is a person of authority in my life, I was not sure how she was going to respond.  I became very nervous about the discussion. Because she was very busy, I wanted to wait until the time was right, but as the time passed, I became more nervous. It seems silly, but as she became available, I knew the time had come to approach her and my heart started pounding out of my chest. As with fear, I wanted to run the other way, but I told myself “just do it, NOW!” So I called her and asked if she had a few minutes to discuss something. I was still nervous, but I dealt with my fear with action. The outcome of the conversation is not relevant here. What is relevant is that I felt a huge amount of relief when I took action. The fear was gone and I know that I took control of it instead of allowing it to take control of me.

Here are a few things that I have found helpful with regards to taking action against fear.

Take action as quickly as possible. The longer I hold off, the more stress I fee and there is a greater chance of me giving in to the fear and not taking action at all. Now, I do believe in taking time to think through things and not rushing into them, but once I have made a decision on how to proceed, I try to take action as soon as possible.

Don’t allow the fearful thoughts to take control. Take control of your mind and remind yourself that you are very capable of handling the situation. I feel fear frequently because I am trying to stretch myself in a lot of areas of my life. As you continue to take baby steps towards your goals and dreams, fears will crop up as well. Many times we question ourselves and our abilities. If I am confident in the direction I want to take, even though I may not know completely what the future holds, I have to fill my mind with motivating thoughts. I have to remind myself that I can do what I need to do. I have to take action in my mind to fill it with good thoughts, and in turn, push out the fearful thoughts.

I acknowledge the great feeling that action against my fears brings. After I had the nervous discussion mentioned above, I walked away, caught my breath, smiled and said “Good job Jen!” Celebrate your successes! Give yourself some positive reinforcement. It takes a lot of courage to take action against our fears. We deserve some kudos! Taking action against our fears is not easy. I do believe that the more successes we rack up, the more our mind remembers that we will make it out the other side. Regardless of the outcome, we can and should be proud of taking control and taking action.

Fear is a part of life, even our BEST life. Here’s to taking action, taking control, and being proud of ourselves as we continue to move forward in the areas that are most important to us.

The Experiment

This past week I had decided to take on the challenge of trying to fill my time with the essentials and remove the nonessentials from each day. I learned three important things from my experimental week.

woodland-road-falling-leaf-natural-38537

  1. An essential does not always need to be work. I can find myself thinking that essentials always have to involve me doing something productive or making progress in an area of my life. This week, I was reminded that this is not always the case. Fun, play and rest are all essential at times, and it felt great to prioritize those things this past week. Have you been able to fit some fun into your life this week?
  2. I found one particular area that distracts me and tended to pull me away from my essentials. That one area for me, is projects around my house. I LOVE TO HAVE A CLEAN AND TIDY HOME! Did you catch the emphasis there? The challenge with this is that housework is never done. It kills me when I just finish cleaning the floors and I look down to admire my work and find something I had missed. Because my housework is never done, I could spend all of my time on it and never get to anything else. I do love to have a clean house, but there is so much more that I want to fill my life with. This week I had to label some of my housework as a nonessential for now so that I could spend time on other important things. Do you have one area that pulls you away from your essentials?
  3. It was nice and important to spend my time on my essentials, but it did not feel earth shattering. I think I was expecting my life to feel AMAZING when I focused on my essentials, but it did not feel all that much different. You are probably asking “Jen, what’s the point then?” Don’t get me wrong, I was able to move forward on some important things this past week. I guess what I realized is that moving forward on my essential things was still hard work, and there was no applause from the crowd for that hard work. It was the right thing, but felt pretty ordinary, and that is okay. 

My experimental week was good. In my heart, I know it was the right thing for me to do in order to focus on areas that I want to move forward on in the future. This week was just the start of a lifetime of trying to fill my time with essential things and eliminate the non-essentials. I acknowledge now that it is not always going to be easy and filled with applause, but, in the long run, I will get to where I want to go because I stayed focused and eliminated distractions. I wish the same for you!

Here’s to living our BEST, one day at a time!