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!

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.

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?

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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.

What’s Essential?

If we want to accomplish something in our lives or start something new, one of our greatest barriers is not having enough time. The questions then is,  how do we move forward in our goals? How do we make our dreams a reality? How do we move forward?

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I might have you trained well in my philosophy to say “ Baby steps Jen, that is how we move forward” and I don’t disagree with that. I do know though, that even baby steps take time. What I am trying to figure out is how to make more time for the areas that are most important to me. This will then give me more time for more baby steps, continuing to move forward, steadily,  towards what I want to accomplish.

What I am working on right now, is to find more time to identify and remove non-essentials in my life. Non-essentials generally fall into the category of “good” things in my life, not “best” things. I think all of our lives are filled with a lot of “good” things, but they do indeed fill up our time. I am trying to differentiate between the “good” and “best” and distill my life down to the essentials, the BEST!

What does this look like?

  • The first thing I have learned is that this is a very individual and personal process. What I may define as essential for me may be non-essential to you, and vice versa. It is important not to compare ourselves with others. We can use others as examples, but at the end of the day, we each have to decide and be comfortable with what is essential to us. I have asked myself if training for my triathlon is essential for my life right now. After putting some thought to it, I have decided that it is essential for my physical, mental and emotional health right now. I can almost guarantee that training for a triathlon is not essential to you. Your essentials will be very personal to you.
  • The second thing I have learned is that things change over time. Things that I may define as non-essential at this time might be able to be elevated back to essential in the future. It is up to each of use to decided. I play the upright bass, but I have put the bass down for almost a year now. It does make me sad that I have not played it, but I know in my heart that it is a non-essential right now. Here in a few months, my plan is for that to change. After my intense training for my triathlon is done, the nights start getting longer and the weather starts getting colder, it is my plan to prioritize my bass playing again. If you have to set something aside for the time being, know that it can be picked back up at a later date.
  • Non-essentials take different forms. So far I have found non-essential thoughts that need to be removed from my life. I have found non-essential possessions, aka clutter, that needs to be removed. I have found non-essentials in my schedule that need to be removed. Non-essentials are anything that fall into the category of “less than best”.

How do we move forward on our dreams and goals by eliminating non-essentials?

  • I have found that identification of non-essentials is the first and most challenging step. I have spent the last 5 months asking myself what I can remove from my life, what is non-essential. It has been a slow process of many baby steps to identify the many “good” things in my life that I am willing to give up for the “best” things. In the end, we have 24 hours in a day and we have to make choices. If we want to find time and move forward with our dreams and goals, non-essentials will more than likely need to be removed.
  • Removing non-essentials is the next step which takes time and that is hard to find in our schedules as well. A non-essential I recently removed from my schedule was my container garden. The past few years I have set up a container garden on my back deck. I did the same this last spring, but with a very different schedule this year and very dry weather, my container garden required a lot of time and attention that I just did not have. Instead of being an enjoyable experience, it became a burden. I decided that, for now, the container garden needed to be closed down for the year. It took time to do that, but it has brought relief in the long run.
  • Next, I keep an eye out for the next non-essential that needs to be removed. Just this week, we had some small renovations done at our house. In the process, I have had to move some things around and find new homes for a few things. It has come to my attention through this process, that it is time for me to say goodbye to some non-essential possessions. It feels like I am drowning in clutter right now. My plan for the next week or so is to identify and start to remove some of the physical clutter from my space and life.
  • Lastly, we have to be on guard for non-essential creeping back into our lives. I think the more we spend time focusing on what is most important to us, the easier it is to identify the things that are non-essential, but we still have to watch out for them in our lives.

The end result to all of this is to spend as much time and energy focusing on what is most important in our lives and removing the things of less importance. This is hard and it is a process, but as I am finding out, I will not have time for the areas that I want to move forward in unless I make these hard choices.

Join me in focusing on the “best” and working to remove all of the non-essentials in our lives.

I want to…but it’s just too hard!

One of the challenges we face as we want to make improvements in our lives is the feeling of “I want to….but it’s just too hard!” We live busy, full lives that require a lot of energy. Sometimes we are excited and motivated to get going with a new project or goal, but we soon find ourselves hitting a wall because we never imagined it could be so hard.

Too hard

This is exactly where I am right now with the running part of my training for my triathlon. I feel like I am in pretty good shape. Biking and swimming come pretty easily for me. I cross train two times a week, I should be able to pick up this running stuff relatively easily, right? Wrong! I am not fooling myself into thinking I can do this overnight, but I have had to take my baby steps down so small that I don’t think I can make them much smaller. I have asked myself a number of times this week, if it’s time to throw in the towel and realize this was not meant for me, but deep down I don’t want to give up.  I will not continue if I feel like I am at the point where I am hurting my body, but that is not the case. How than do you and I keep going when things are so hard?

  • We keep showing up. In other words, keep doing something, because doing nothing will set us back even farther. Take your baby step down to an even smaller step. There is nothing wrong with it because you are still moving forward. For me, I get out to walk and I throw in some jogging here and there. I do as much as my body can handle, then I do it again in a few days. Triathletes that are reading this post may think that I will never make it at this rate, but I will surely not make it if I give up. The same goes for you. Show up. Keep doing something.
  • Set a goal date. I want you to know right up front that my first goal date was April of this year, then June, then July, now it’s September. Many people might ask “what’s the point in a goal date if you don’t meet your goal?” Well, what it has done for me is kept me moving. I keep the picture in my mind of me participating in a triathlon and it keeps me going. With this being as hard as it is, I can guarantee I would have done nothing if I had not committed to these dates. One of these days I will hit my goal date. What date can you set to help you keep moving forward?
  • Change things up a little. If one thing is not working for you, try something else. Yesterday I spent some time thinking about the areas of my body that are not happy with me when I run. I then decided that I was going to start a new set of stretches to see if I could loosen them up and get them moving better. For you, it might be changing up what you eat, or what you are trying to cut out. Think a little bit about what is not working and see what you can tweak to see if it will work better. Life is one big experiment. Let’s learn from what works and change what does not. We will get to our goal if we don’t give up.
  • Try not to get discouraged. It is hard when we are not seeing the results we expected. Keep reminding yourself that you have not given up and that you are doing something small to continue to move forward. If you have given up, pick back up and do something small. We see all around us those who “did it” and it was “so easy”. That is a lie! Sure, some things are easier for some people than others, but everything in life that is worth doing is going to have it’s challenges. Keep going and know that whatever you are doing is great. I am proud of you for it!

I am proud of you for working hard every day to live your BEST! It is hard work, but you keep going! Know that you are not alone, we are in this together! Keep going, keep showing up, keep moving forward towards great things!

Here’s to showing up even when things are hard!

Mid Year Refresher

It’s hard to believe that August is right around the corner,  but, with August comes a feeling of a fresh start. Whether you have children in school or not, the beginning of a school year and the feeling of getting back into a routine feels refreshing. With this mid-year fresh start, I wanted to touch base with you on the concept of baby steps. I don’t know about you, but baby steps have kept me sane and moving forward through the twists and turns of life so far this year.

Foot Steps

Here is what baby steps have done for me this year:

Baby steps reduce pressure. Life is filled with constant pressure from work, family, friends, and probably the biggest culprit, ourselves. We all feel continual pressure, but when we can stop and ask ourselves “what small step can I make to move forward?”, it removes the enormity of the task and reduces pressure.

Baby steps allow us to move forward even when we don’t feel like we can. For me, this came to play in my physical health. There were times that my body felt tired and sore and I felt like I could not possibly do any more. When I reminded myself of baby steps, I would realize that I could, at minimum, take a walk or get up and stretch. Even though it was a small step, it was better than doing nothing. Baby steps kept me moving forward, no matter how small the step was.

Baby steps make life manageable. There is so much to do each day of our lives. When I focused on ALL that I needed to get done, I would quickly feel discouraged, even defeated. But when I broke up my day and what I needed to get done into small pieces, I would get one thing done, then another, then another. We know our “To Do” list will never be completed, but before I knew it, I had a few things marked off. My “To Do” list became more manageable.

Baby steps make goals achievable. Every day is a new day and a fresh start when it comes to baby steps. It is not about looking back, it is about looking forward and asking, “what small thing can I do today to move forward?” As I reflect on the goals I set at the beginning of the year, I realize I have not “arrived” at any of them. Today, I remind myself of what I wanted to achieve and ask myself what I can do to move forward. We can all achieve our desires as long as we keep moving forward.

In January, I sent out a video series on Baby Steps to help us get off on the right start this year. I spent some time watching them last night and I felt like you might enjoy a refresher as well. As a subscriber, I have included the link in the email you received for this blog post. If you are not yet a subscriber, you can subscribe to my blog on the right hand column and I will be sure to send you the link for the baby steps video series.

You all are amazing! Keep doing amazing things, one small step at a time! Here’s to living our BEST!

Start Talking!

In most cases, I am an advocate of listening over talking. I find my relationships are much stronger when I can focus on listening to others versus focusing on what I am going to say in response. There is one instance though that I am learning the importance of talking over listening and that is when I have dialog with myself.

Talk to yourself

Just recently, one of my blog subscribers, Pat, sent me an inspiring blog post from Jon Gordon entitled “The Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard”. In the post, he shares an inspiring story of Dr. James Gills, a man in his fifties, who completed two triathlons back to back not just once, but six times. When asked how he did it, he shared some very wise words. He said “I’ve learned to talk to myself instead of listen to myself.” In the blog post he continued, “If I listen to myself, I hear all the reasons why I should give up. I hear that I’m too tired-too old-too weak to make it. But if I talk to myself, I can give myself the encouragement and words I need to hear to keep running and finish the race.” It’s the same way with life.

I have been putting some effort the past few weeks into paying attention to the things that I say to myself, the things that pop into my mind throughout my day. Here are some of the common themes and what I have done to start talking to myself instead of listen.

“I am tired!” I found this to pop into my head on a regular basis, even when I am not really all that tired. Every time this thought would pop into my head, I would start to feel more tired. Once I started to recognize this, I would ask myself if I was really tired. If I was, I would prioritize some rest, but many times I realized I was fine. I started to talk to myself by telling myself that I am fine, that I am not tired, that I have plenty of energy for my day.

“I don’t have enough time to get things done!” Well this is the truth, right? There never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything done. What I found though is that when this thought popped into my head it would drag me down, it would make me feel like a failure. The thought that I have been trying to replace it with is two-fold. First, I have been reminding myself of all of the things that I have accomplished in that day, which is a ton! Second, I have been reminding myself that the time I have “is what it is” and to use the time that I do have, the best I can. Essentially, I tell myself that I am doing great and to keep going!

“Others think poorly of me and are unhappy with me.” In our busy lives we have periods of time when we don’t see our family and friends as much as we would like. It is during these times of absence that thought pop into my head that others are displeased with me. As I write this, it sounds so silly, but the thoughts do pop into my mind. I have to remind myself that these thoughts are not founded in truth, but if the thought will not go away, I take action. I learned a while back that the best way to remove a fear is to take action against it. If I am fearful that someone is unhappy with me, I take action and give them a call. They are usually as happy to hear from me as I am to call and talk to them. I quickly find out that the thoughts that had popped into my head were completely wrong.

Well, you have just gotten a glimpse of my thought life, but I imagine if you start to pay attention, you will find certain thoughts that pop into your mind on a regular basis. Start to recognize them, ask yourself if they are making you feel better or worse, make an effort to refute them, and start talking positive things into your mind and life.

Pat, thanks for the article you sent me which helped me tremendously, and will now help so many more.

Here’s to talking to ourselves more and filling our minds with positive, life-giving thoughts!

Be Energized!

I like to look at the energy that we have for each day similar to how we see money in a bank account. Sometimes we make deposits, sometimes withdrawals and sometimes our balance stays steady. If I had to guess though, I would say most days, our energy bank accounts experience more withdrawals than deposits. The question is, how can we deposit more and withdrawal less to live our best?

Pig BankIn my day job, I work within my strengths most of the time. I am very fortunate that my energy bank account does not get depleted there. I do have to admit though, that my day job generally does not make deposits in my energy bank account either. I end up with a pretty neutral balance. It all changes when I start to add in all of the “stuff” before work, after work, and on the weekends. I can suddenly find my energy bank account plummeting. How do we take control and produce more energy for our lives?

Identify withdrawals. What are the things in your life that drain you? These areas are specific to you. Pay attention to the times in your life that you feel drained. What is causing it? Identifying these withdrawals from your energy account is the first and most vital step.

One item I have identified that will drain me almost immediately, is to be forced to rush.  When I am forced to rush out the door or from one place to the next, I can feel the anxiety rise and the energy drain.

What are the things in your life that drain you of energy?

Reduce withdrawals. Once you begin to identify these areas that drain you of energy, it is time to ask yourselves if and how you can reduce these withdrawals. In my example of not wanting to be rushed, I have learned to build in a buffer in my day as much as possible which gives me time to move at the speed that works for me. Yes, I am forced to rush at times, but most of the time it is within my control to slow things down to the pace that works for me.

How can you begin to take control of the areas that drain you to reduce their draining effect?

Identify deposits. On the opposite side of the coin, what are the things in your life that replenish your energy? These things make you feel great when you are done. I am an introvert. What this means for me it that I fill my tanks by having “me” time. I have found a number of things that I can do by myself that replenishes my energy. You might be able to relate with me, or you might be the opposite and feel replenished by being surrounded by as many people as possible. Identifying the things that make deposits into your energy account is a great step towards living your best life.

What are the things in life that energize you?

Increase deposits. I think this is an obvious next step, right? Do as much as we can to add energy to our lives, but it is easier said than done. Life is filled with a lot of obligations and many of them zap our energy. The reality is that it is hard to find the time to add these positive things into our day. It is also hard, at times, because we tend to take care of everyone else and give ourselves what’s left over,  if there is any. Increasing the things that bring us energy in life will be a process, but remember we can do amazing things if we just focus on one small step at a time.

What small step can you take today to start to increase the positive, energy giving deposits in your life?
Learning to live our best life is a journey. An important things to remember is that we are in the driver’s seat. We have control of the breaks if we need to use them, we are in control of the accelerator, the steering wheel, but most importantly, the gas tank. Let’s make sure we are doing what we can to fill up our tanks so that the journey of life is the best it can be!  

Perspective

I have to be straight with you, I have been struggling quite a bit lately. The transition from working from my home, for myself with all of the flexibility in the world to working outside of my home with very set hours, has been a lot harder on me than I could have ever imagined. I am not going to go into all of the details of the transition, but will share with you that I knew part of the solution for me was I needed a perspective change. I probably knew that I needed a perspective change for a good month before I was ready for it. I had to grieve, for lack of a better word, and work through things at my pace. But ultimately, I needed a perspective change.

Perspective

My perspective change came right when I was ready for it. I read a blog post from a woman who has done some pretty amazing things in her life. In this particular blog post, she shared with her readers some very sad things that have happened in her life and in her marriage. My heart absolutely broke for her. She is picking herself back up, healing and moving forward, but what her blog post did for me, was to bring my life into much-needed perspective. My life is not perfect by any means, but it helped me to change my focus from all of my struggles to the things that are going well in my life, to all of my blessings. Now, I am not neglecting all of the tough stuff, because I think it is important to work through that stuff, but I am trying to be thankful for what is right in front of me, for the things that I do have in life.

My purpose for this blog post is to encourage you to be open to a perspective change. If life is tough right now, know that a change in perspective might be a part of your solution. When we are open to the idea of a perspective change, life usually serves one up for us.

Even when we do all we can to live our best, gook happens. Here’s to working through the tough stuff and embracing a perspective change when they come our way.

Be Inspired!

Have you ever felt blah? Unmotivated? Maybe even a little depressed? You know there are things that you want to move forward on in life, but you just don’t have the energy to push forward. A trick I have used to get going again is to be inspired.

Be Inspired

If you have read my blog for long, you know that one of the goals I am working towards is to participate in a triathlon. Between my schedule changing and my body not cooperating, the progress towards this goal has not been smooth sailing. An April triathlon was my first goal, but that did not happen. I was clearly not ready, but as luck has it, they had to postpone the tri until June. Surely I could be ready by June. Nope. As the June date approached, I was losing motivation and getting discouraged. I was close to giving up, but I knew, deep down, that I wanted to do this. Even though I was not participating, I forced myself to go. I knew my will power was low, so I volunteered for the event knowing I would have chosen sleeping in over attending. My lack of willpower was confirmed the morning of the tri when I had to get up at 4:30 AM. Was it bad of me to pray that it would keep raining so it would be cancelled and I could keep sleeping? But something really cool happened when I arrived. I got to see people of all walks of life and of all fitness levels put their heart and soul into swimming, biking, running and crossing the finish line. Every single person out there inspired me to keep training. They helped me see that I needed to keep trying, that I could do this!

What is an area in life you desperately want to move forward in? Here are a few ideas to help you gain the motivation and inspiration you need to keep going.

  • Ask yourself “what inspires me?” Do you love reading an inspirational book or article? Do you enjoy watching an inspirational documentary or movie? Events inspire me. I love when a bunch of people get together for a great cause. I get to see people who have struggled and persevered. I get to stand alongside amazing people with amazing stories. I also love a good inspirational book. I love hearing about how others have pushed through tough times. I need to hear that I can do it too! In the past, when have you felt inspired? What was it that inspired you? Whatever it is, consider adding more of that to you life to help you continue to move forward.
  • Make a commitment. I can guarantee that I would not have gone to the triathlon if I had not signed up to volunteer. I knew my will power was low and I needed to know that someone was expecting me to be there. Whatever it is that you want to move forward in, make a commitment to do it if you can. Sign up for a race, ride, class, conference, seminar, or group. Commit to meet up with a friend or co-worker. Sign up to volunteer. A great motivator is to invest money in it. Whatever works for you, making a commitment will help you get up and get going.
  • Show up and gain momentum. I have heard it quoted that “you never regret a workout when it is over.” Man, it is hard to get going at times, but when we show up, and make something happen, it feels so good. This past week I got up and went for a run. Running is not my favorite thing to do, but I know this is what I need to do to participate and finish a triathlon. It took all of my willpower to do it, but when I was done, I was pumped. I did it, and I know I can do it again. The more we show up and do what is hard, the better we get at it, and the more momentum we gain to keep going.
  • Be inspired by others who are working toward the same goal. No matter what we are trying to accomplish, someone had gone before us, someone is in the process of learning how and someone is just starting out. Be inspired by all of them. Know how hard it is for you and realize that it is just as hard for them. We are all in this together. It is easy to think that everyone else has it all together, but none of us do. We are all plugging away, trying to do our best in life. Be inspired by those who have gone before, commiserate with those who are going through it with you, and encourage those who are just starting out.

Whatever you are wanting to move forward in, remember to keep taking baby steps to move forward. Know that one of those baby steps is to gain some much-needed inspiration for your journey ahead. All of us can use fuel to keep going strong.

Here’s to being intentional about finding inspiration in our lives and living the best we possibly can!