Now, Have The Best Holiday Season and Have a Ton of Fun!

We have the ability to choose if we are going to be happy. Granted, it is much easier at times than others to choose happiness, but we do have the ability to do so. I have to remind myself during the hustle and bustle of the holidays that I have the ability to have fun, and the choice to not have fun, and so do you.

Funny woman with mustache

I am, overall, a pretty serious person. I do have a silly streak, but it does not come out very often. I am okay with that because that is who I am. But I still like to have fun. What I find so often is, I can be in the middle of a very pleasant activity, yet find myself not having fun. My friend, Linda, has helped me with this specifically during bike rides. We would be riding along, chatting, yet my eyes would be focused on the gravel path before me. Now it is important to keep an eye on the path, but what Linda has taught me is to look up, look around, enjoy the day, feel the breeze on our face, check out the birds, the cliffs on the side of the path, and be a little silly every once in a while.

I do have to say too, that because I tend to be on the serious side, it is fun every once in a while to say something that is uncharacteristic for me and shock everyone. I will not go into any detail, but this happened once when we were on a three-day bike ride. It was a very cold night to camp and somehow the disposable hand warmers made it into my undergarments. It was quite a pleasant experience, both the warmth and the good laugh we had.

Remember to have fun in pleasant situations. This almost sounds silly, but let’s all try to slow down, and enjoy being right where we are. Look around and enjoy the Christmas decorations, the sound of music, people, and depending on where you are, either the warm cozy air or the fresh crisp breeze. Let’s remember to just BE, and ENJOY!

Remember our attitude is our choice when we are in unpleasant situations. First of all, it’s wise to eliminate unpleasant situations, especially if we are already tired and irritable. That might not be the time to go out in heavy traffic or do your Christmas shopping. I know, sometimes we do not have a choice about the traffic, but try to set yourself up for success. And yes, there are those events that you will attend that are simply torture (did I say that?). And shopping with the masses is inevitable. Just remember we have a choice whether to have fun or not. Today I was walking on an indoor track after my workout and an older gentleman passed  me (I was tired after my workout, okay?). As he passed by, he made a fun, silly, yet true statement that made me laugh. His silliness and fun was contagious and I really appreciated it. Spreading joy is good medicine for us and those stuck in traffic or in the checkout line with us. Choose Fun!

We are a group of amazing individuals who want to Live Our Best and Give Our Best. We may not know everyone who reads this Blog by name, but we all have one thing in common, we want to continue to grow and live better each day. Living Our Best does take some effort, but it is worth every bit of it and I am so very proud of you for prioritizing it!

Here’s to Being Our Best and Having Fun!

Special Announcement: I am starting to dabble with making short, encouraging videos for you and I threw my first one out on YouTube and social media this week. If you missed it, here it is!

I am practicing up so that I can include some really great videos in your January Goody Bag coming out on Tuesday December 27th. I am going to approach 2017 very different than I did this last year in the hopes of living with more joy. I can’t wait to share more details with you in January!

Reach Your Goals Like An Olympic Champion: Winning is a team effort!

It was fun to watch the Olympics! I know most people were getting tired of watching swimming, but swimming is a sport I love, so I enjoyed every minute of it! While watching swimming, it can appear that the athlete is a “one-man-team”, however, when we see the interviews after the race, the athlete is surrounded by a team of individuals who have coached, mentored and supported them and helped them become their best. Why is it, as we are trying to live our best, that we feel we need to go at it alone? We feel as though we have failed if we have to ask for help, when the opposite is the truth. Asking for and receiving help can propel us forward and speed up our growth and desired change.

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I frequently use examples from my experience with learning how to play the upright bass. It truly has been one of the hardest things I have taken on, and one that requires perseverance. Recently, I was working on learning a new song. I had been struggling for some time with motivation and excitement for playing. As I was practicing, I became extremely frustrated because my brain would not “get it!” I realized I was hitting a wall.

As I looked back over the past few months, I realized I had hit that same wall time and time again. This time, it truly gave me a headache! As I stood holding my instrument, resisting the urge to smash it on the ground, like the cool musicians do, I realized “I need help!” I needed someone to help me over this wall that I was hitting. I needed to get help from someone knowledgeable, who has been in my shoes, and who would encourage me to keep pressing forward. That is exactly what I did. I met with my music instructor. From his years of experience, he knew exactly what encouragement I needed and what steps I need to take in order to move forward. I walked out of my session almost in tears because I was so thankful for his help and much needed encouragement!

How about you? Do you have any areas of your life that you feel like you have hit a wall and you can’t seem to move past it? Have you been trying to take off those pounds and not finding results? Have you been trying to eliminate pain, physical or emotional, and it won’t go away? Are you ready to move forward and make progress? Here are some wonderful benefits of “asking for help!”

  1. Other individuals have knowledge that we don’t. Do you know what mixolydian mode is in music? I had never heard of such a thing until my music instructor taught it to me. This one concept made a huge difference in the song I was learning. He has knowledge of big and small things that will make a huge difference in how I learn and move forward. Someone knowledgeable in your areas of desired change can do the same for you.
  2. Other individuals have experience we can learn from. I love listening to other people’s stories. There is so much to learn as we listen to others and how they were able to accomplish great things and move past their areas of frustration. Their life may be very different from mine, but I find there is always something I can pick up just by listening to the experiences of others.
  3. Other individuals have perspectives we need to hear. This can also come as a “kick in the butt” too! In my frustration, I asked my bass instructor “how can you hear that? No matter what I do, I can’t hear what I am supposed to be playing!” He looked me straight in the eyes and asked me “how long have you been playing music?” I sighed “under three years.” He said “Exactly!” He helped me realize that I am still very new at this and all of these skills will come over time, if I persevere. I needed that perspective!
  4. Other individuals have encouragement that will help us move forward! We all need encouragement! That encouragement looks different for each of us, but we all need it. My personal trainer had learned that if he tries to encourage me with “RAH RAH” cheers, all it motivates me to do is roll my eyes at him. He has learned how to encourage me and keep me moving forward. We all need encouragement in our lives!

So what is your next step? Is there an area in your life where you feel you need help? Who can you ask? Do you see how it will help you get over the wall you keep banging your head against? Remember, winning is a team effort. We don’t need to go at it alone!

Here’s to no more wall banging headaches!

I would love to send you an email every time I post something new! If that sounds great to you, all you have to do is subscribe in the upper right hand column and I will make sure you get my new posts! My next post comes out next Friday, so don’t delay!

 

To Amazing Individuals Who Want to Make Their 2016 Resolutions a Reality

We are 232 days into 2016. Is there something you wanted to tackle this year but keep putting off? It happens easily because most of the things we want to work on or tackle are really hard and take a good amount of effort. If you are like me, you may have tried to get started, but fizzled out over a few weeks’ time. Let’s tie up our shoe laces, focus on one small baby step at a time, and move steadily towards accomplishing what we set out to accomplish at the beginning of 2016!

All time ready to run

For the past few years I have been learning to play the upright bass. I enjoy the fun, uplifting sound of bluegrass music and wanted to have some fun learning a new instrument. I had been going strong with my lessons and learning until 2016 hit. Then I fizzled out. I have had times where I have done okay, but overall It has not been “all about the bass” for me this year! Now it is time to get going again.

There is great news for all of us! We still have 134 days in 2016 to move forward on our dreams. Here are four things that will help you get moving in the right direction.

  1. Focus on ONE. Focus on one thing you want to work towards for the rest of this year. If you are like me, you have a laundry list of things you want to improve. Let’s focus on quality over quantity. Focus on one thing so that you can give it your all!
  2. Focus on ONE. Ask yourself today “what is the one small baby step that I can work on today?” If you read much of my writing you have heard this concept before, and you will hear it again and again. I believe focusing on one baby step at a time is key to our success. I have created the habit of taking time in the morning, because I am a morning person, to enjoy some coffee, breakfast, and inspiration reading. Before I get up from my kitchen table, I think about my baby step for the day. If I accomplished my last baby step, I have to decide on the next step. If I am still working on my current baby step, I take that time to remind myself and recommit to it.
  3. Inspire Motivation. I really wanted to keep going with the theme of “Focus on One”, but my creativity fizzled out! Hee, Hee! Sorry to disappoint! SQUIRREL! Anyway, back to the topic at hand! When I struggle with motivation I have found that filling my mind with the subject matter builds my motivation. For example, I eat a pretty strict diet because I have many intolerances to food. Because of this I have had to limit my sugar intake. I LOVE sweets, so this is an area I tend to falter in. When I find myself starting to crave sweets, I try to jump back into my books and magazines that remind me why eliminating sugar is so important to my health. I do the same thing with my bass. All I have to do is listen to my favorite bluegrass tunes and I find new inspiration. Think about your goal and ask yourself “What could I utilize to learn and inspire me as I move forward the rest of this year?”
  4. Write down WHY. Why do you want to make this improvement in your life? Our “why” is the heart of our resolution. As you think about this, get specific. Go beyond “I want to be healthy.” Why do you want to be healthy? Do you feel like you lack energy to live the life you want to live? Do you experience pain and don’t want to live with it the rest of your life? Do you want to have more fun in your life? Dig deep and answer the question “why?” Your “why” will be vital on the days you want to give up. That is when you pull it out and remind yourself what your heart desires.

What one resolution are you going to focus on for the rest of 2016? Why? How are you going to learn about it to inspire your motivation? What one baby step are you going to take today to move forward?

I would love to hear about your plans and your journey and so would my other readers! Please comment below and start the conversation. We are working hard to live our best together!
Here’s to an amazing journey and to the 134 wonderful days left in 2016!

How To Get Rid Of The Blahs

It is my desire for you to feel your best. There are many different ways we can work towards feeling great. The one that always seems backwards, but fills me with so much joy, is giving my time to lend a helping hand. We get so much back when we give our best at the right place and right time.

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I was raised in a house where my parents set an example of serving others. To this day, I go visit my parents, who are now in their 80’s, and they invite me to go down to the local nursing home to take care of the needs of the residents. None of our lives are perfect, but my life growing up was filled with joy because helping others was just as normal as breathing.

But sometimes the busyness of life gets in the way. Before we know it, it is all we can do to keep up with our own tasks much less take on those of others. I know when this is the case for me, I start to feel drained and down. If this is how you feel today, take a look at your calendar for the next few weeks and block out time now to lend a helping hand. It will bring you energy and joy in these four amazing ways.

  1. It reminds us that we have special gifts to contribute. I don’t know about you, but our world can be draining. It always wants more and more is not good enough. Sometimes it feels like we have nothing special to offer, but that is not true. When we give our time in an area we are passionate about, our love, strengths and unique abilities shine. Each one of us is amazing and has so much to contribute!
  2. It gets our mind off of our problems. When we share our time with others, and focus on their needs, it gives our mind a short break from our dreaded “ToDo” list, or issues that are on our mind. Joyce Meyers once shared that the best way to get something off of your mind is to fill your mind with something else. Filling it with caring for others is a great way to do it.
  3. It gives us perspective. I enjoy volunteering for Habitat for Humanity. In fact, a friend of mine just recently organized a work day that I was able to be a part of. I had the opportunity to help build a home for someone who was in dire need of a safe, reliable place to live and raise their family. As I worked on screwing in drywall, I was reminded of all the blessings I have in my life that I simply take for granted. Helping in areas of need help to bring perspective to our lives.
  4. We receive a gift that cannot be explained. I was challenged once, when I was down in the dumps, to get off my rear-end, get out of my house and go help a friend. It was the LAST THING I felt like doing, but I did it. As I drove home that night, I felt great. The load that was on my shoulders earlier did not feel as heavy. Some people call it karma, some say “you reap what you sow”, others “what goes around, comes around.” I don’t care what you call it, it works. It truly is greater to give than receive!

Has the busyness of your life gotten in the way of helping others in need? What gifts and talents do you have that would be a blessing to others. What baby step can you put in place today to move forward on helping others? You will get so much in return!

Here’s to feeling great and making a wonderful difference in the world we live!

Yep, We Can!

Doesn’t it feel great accomplishing something? To say that I love to check things off of my “To Do” list is an understatement. There have been times in my life that I have bordered on addiction when it comes to getting a “high” off of accomplishing things. But how, when life is incredibly busy, can we keep moving forward? How can we keep accomplishing the things that are most important to us when we can barely keep our head above water?

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I recently attended a profession conference, and like most conferences, I drank from the firehose for three days straight. It was great, but there is not enough room on one sheet of paper to include all of the “To Dos” that were added to my list during that time. During the hours of traveling home, thirteen to be exact, I continued to ask myself “How am I going to move forward on all of this stuff?”

Is there an area in your life where you would like to accomplish something or reach a goal? Does it feel too big to tackle? And because of that, is difficult to get started? Here are three essentials that help me continue to move forward in the most important areas of my life.

  1. Believe you can do it. This sounds simple, but, if deep down you do not believe you will succeed, it will continue to hold you back. Believing you can accomplish your goal produces action in your life. If you tell yourself you can cut back on your sugar intake (an example from my own life), you will start to look for ways to do it. Thinking “I can” produces action! Repeat “I can” over and over in your mind, and you will find a way to move forward.
  2. Focus on the next small step. I love to think BIG in my life, but with that comes big ideas that can be overwhelming. I probably have three million steps to take between where I am today and what I want to accomplish in my life. I get heart palpitations when I think of all that I have left to do. The same might be true for you as you think of all it is going to take to accomplish your goal. Let’s ask ourselves and focus on the next baby step, then take just that one step. Then ask and focus on the next step, and the next, and the next. Before we know it, we will look back and be amazed at how far we have come.
  3. Make a commitment. Life is incredibly busy and it can pull us in many different directions. If we are not intentional about staying on course, we will be detoured. Make a commitment to yourself and to your loved ones that you will stay focused on this most important area of your life.

Are you ready to tackle that important task or goal in your life? What is your first baby step? Let’s move forward, one step at a time knowing without a doubt that we can do it!

Here’s to a “Can Do” attitude and our next baby step!

Time for a Fresh Start

I love the changes of the seasons, both in nature and in our lives. The beginning of summer is exciting when the kids end the school year with the anticipation of summer vacations. It is equally exciting when the school year starts back up with the plans of a new year, new classrooms, and re-establishing a routine. Even without children, I love the feeling that the beginning of a new school year brings. It is a great time for a fresh start.

red-school-blur-factory croppedI loved shopping for school supplies as a child. I would bring everything home and get it  organized. I would write the name of each subject on my notebooks,  fill my new case with pencils, pens and markers. It was all new, organized and ready for whatever was to come. I loved it!

What areas do you want to feel new, organized and ready for the great things to come? Here are 3 questions to help us move towards a fresh start as the new school year begins and the beauty of fall approaches.

Is it best for me and my family? As we begin new things in our lives there are always expectations that we need to consider. Schools, church, family, friends, and work all have expectations of what we should do and how we should be involved. These are all potentially wonderful things, but also realize that it is ok to say “no” to them if it is not right for you and your family. We love to be involved, contribute and help others, but, at the end of the day, we have to make sure it is right for us and our loved ones.

What is most important? Take a moment to think about and even write down what is most important to you. Maybe prioritizing a family meal together is important. Maybe physical activity is a priority. Having fun and scheduling something fun together would be great. These things do not tend to happen by themselves. Many times life gets hectic and what we have decided is most important gets pushed to the side. Determine what is most important to you, put it on your calendar, and make it happen.

What can I remove? Take a look around and ask yourself if there is anything that you should removed from your life. This could be physical possessions, items on your calendar, bad habits, time wasters or even unhealthy relationships. Our lives become cluttered with “stuff” before our very eyes. Taking time to de-clutter and simplify can feel so good! It frees up time and energy for the important things, and allows me to give some of my possessions to people who are in desperate need of them.

Are you ready for a fresh start? What do you feel you can do to start fresh in the next few weeks?

Here’s to new and fresh starts!

P.S. If you enjoy these blog posts and would like to have them delivered directly to your email inbox, click “subscribe” on the upper right side of this page. I would love to send them your way!

Is it Perfect for You?

Is there an area in your life you would like to improve? Maybe get a good night’s rest on a regular basis? Figure out some new recipes to make? Get out for that early morning or late night jog? We all have something on our “I want to” list.  As we move forward to make the improvements in our lives, realize that there is no “one size fits all” program to success. We have to figure out what works best for us and then stick with it.
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When it was time for me to lose 20 pounds I decided to start calorie counting. At the time, I loved it because I could decide how I “used” my calories for that day. I could eat a banana or I could eat powdered donuts. Granted, my approach was not the healthiest at times, but it worked for me. It worked so well, that to this day, I track my calories religiously. Because calorie counting worked well for me, I felt like it was the solution for everyone. I shared my enthusiasm with anyone who would listen, but I soon found that my answer to losing weight was not the answer for everyone. Since this discovery, I have seen this played out in many areas of my life. I love to ride my bike, but it’s not for everyone. I eat a special diet that helps me feel great, but it’s not necessarily for everyone. I love to play a certain type of music, but it’s not for everyone. What works for me may not work for you and that is okay!
How do we figure out our “program for success?” Here are four things that have worked for me.
 
  1. Listen and learn from others, but in the end decide for yourself. One of the greatest sources of information is to talk to someone who has succeeded in what you are trying to accomplish. It is fascinating to hear their stories, what worked for them, and what did not. If you can, talk to more than one person to gather different perspectives. Gathering their thoughts and experience can be helpful as you figure out what works for you.
  2. Experiment. As you do your research and listen to others, you will quickly see that there are many different ways to accomplish the same goal. If you are not 100% sure which way is best for you, start one and look at it as an experiment. Move forward on your experiment. As you move forward, learn what works for you, and learn what does not.
  3. Recognize discomfort and make adjustments. When something is not working best for you, you will feel discomfort and maybe even frustration. Sometimes you may not see the results you want to see. Sometimes you find that it does not work into your current schedule. Whatever it is, take some time to analyze your discomfort then make the needed adjustments to move forward. On a side not, realize that accomplishing big goals in your life is not always going to be easy. There may be times where you just have to buckle down and do it, even if you are uncomfortable.
  4. In the end, be true to yourself. We are all unique and amazing individuals. Love yourself and be proud of your way of doing things. Yes, there are times I make compromises, but I compromise because there are people in my life that I love, I respect their uniqueness and I want to spend time with them. When it comes to what I want to accomplish, I will succeed when I am true to myself.
What is an area you want to improve in your life? Have you tried any of the above? Let me and my other reader know how it’s going.
We all accomplish amazing things every day! Don’t forget to celebrate those things! Here’s to loving ourselves and living our best!

Three Easy Ways to Brighten a Day

Every day I get wrapped up in my own world and my own problems. We all have plenty to deal with on a daily basis. With so much on my mind, I put my head down and get to work. But at some point I lift up my head and realize that the people around me are struggling too. I am reminded that we all could use a positive boost.

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Recently I had a rough day. It was one of those days that I could have used some positive mojo. I felt like I had gotten up on the wrong side of the bed. My mind was filled with negative thoughts and I was incredibly tired. That same day I was scheduled to bring my car in for service. My service center has always done a great job for me, but they are frequently suggesting additional “routine maintenance.” This particular day, I was not in the mood. Seriously, all I wanted was a simple oil change and tire rotation! I pulled up to the service bay and the place was packed. The gentleman who has helped me in the past jumped into the car in front of me to move it forward, making room for my car. As I saw him get out and head over to his desk I felt bad for this guy. He looked overwhelmed and exhausted, it broke my heart. My mood changed and I immediately wanted to find a way to give this guy a positive boost to brighten his day.

Here are three simple ways we can brighten someone’s day.

  • Send a message. It does not matter what kind of message you send; text, email, Facebook or snail mail. It will bring a smile and encouragement. It only takes a few minutes.
  • Give a compliment. It can be as simple as “you look very nice today” or “I am proud of you and how you handled that project!” It’s simple, impactful, and it will only take seconds.
  • Show appreciation. There are many people who work hard every day and are rarely appreciated. This could be anyone; the checker at the grocery store, the attendant at the gas station, the clerk in the drive thru, the nurse at the doctor’s office. You will bring a smile to their face in no time flat.

In what simple way can your brighten someone’s day today? Let me know how it goes! I love to hear your stories!

Here’s to bright sunshiny days!

 

What Gets Us Through The Last 6.2 Miles of a Marathon & Life

I don’t know about you, but I have a new appreciation for marathon runners. Life is hard enough, why put yourself through that torture? I say that, but I still love a good challenge!

There is one more insight I want to pull from the article I came a crossed “My Experiences With The Last 6.2 Miles Of The Marathon” http://www.runningthroughlife.com/2012/03/29/my-experiences-with-the-last-6-2-miles-of-the-marathon/ . Here is what he writes.

“When I was struggling the most I came upon a young guy who made me feel like I was doing okay. He was really struggling. He was walking (well really hobbling) and as I passed him I gave him a little slap on the shoulders and told him that he could do it and that we were getting close. He mumbled something back that I couldn’t understand but then he started to jog with me. As we talked I started to tell him that he was looking good, that we were getting closer, and that he would never be the same after finishing that marathon (It was his first). The thing that I noticed is the more I tried to help him and get his spirits up the better I felt about myself. In talking someone else through the rough spots I am talking myself through.”

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When we are down and out, the last thing we want to think about is helping others. It takes all of our gumption to get ourselves out of bed in the morning much less the effort to help someone else. But what Mr. Haag says in the article is so true. If we take just one ounce of energy and put it toward encouraging someone else, we find that we suddenly have more. More energy, more peace, more joy, more. I can’t explain it, but I think we all know deep down it is true. If you have never tried it, today is the day. I know this is a great reminder for me. I want to be an encourager of others and I love how I feel in return.

“Now in every race that I run I seek out those who look like they could use a little help or inspiration and try to offer some words of encouragement. I think life is the same, if we will try to find opportunities to help and give then usually we are the ones who receive the most.”

Whether you feel like it today or not, experiment and encourage someone around you. Genuinely care about them, and see what comes back your direction. It might just be the key to get us through the last 6.2 mile challenge we have in front of us.

Part 2: The Last 6.2 Miles of a Marathon

If you are just tuning in, I found a great article recently that is helping me walk step by step through my marathon of life. On March 29th 2012 Ryan Haag posted “My Experiences With The Last 6.2 Miles Of The Marathon” http://www.runningthroughlife.com/2012/03/29/my-experiences-with-the-last-6-2-miles-of-the-marathon/ and he touched on some pretty amazing correlations between his last 6.2 miles and how we have to run the race of life.

Friday we looked at the last 6.2 miles of the marathon. This is important, because the marathon is somewhat “easy” towards the beginning, but as it continues, it gets harder and harder to the point where you can only focus on putting one foot in front of the other.

PERSEVERANCE!

Marathon runners

Today’s subject is very similar because I don’t think we can take the subject of perseverance too lightly and only mention it and move on. As I continued to read Ryan Haag’s article he started describing a number of his last 6.2 miles experiences.

He shares “It was not long after this (seeing the 21 mile marker) that I experienced what has been my nemesis in the final miles of all but one of my marathons, which is cramping in my hamstrings.”

And his marathon a year later, “the hamstring cramps that I had felt the year earlier returned with a vengeance. I was trying to run straight legged and hobble the best I could but my pace started to slow. I found myself gritting my teeth and kind of growling to try to persevere through the pain.”

I do not want to make light of Mr. Haag’s pain and suffering, but I started to laugh as I read about him running straight legged and hobbling. Don’t get me wrong, it was not a laugh because I thought it was funny, it was a laugh because I feel right now, today, that I am hobbling and just trying to make it. I envisioned myself as the one doing all I could to keep going even if it meant running straight legged and hobbling.

One of the goals I have been working in this year, among others, is the physical goal of getting into better shape and strengthening my back (a cause of pain for me for years). I have made great progress with the help of my personal trainer. We have discovered and improved one area of my back, but with that improvement, my hip which has had to compensate for my bad back all of these years is now screaming. I know I am making progress. I know I am getting stronger. But I feel like I am having to run straight legged and hobbling. And yes, I have growled too!

Your struggle may be physical, it may be mental, emotional, spiritual, relational, financial.. Whatever it is, it can be hard!

The article continues “with about 2 miles to go someone was passing out ice cold wash clothes which I used to wipe my hot, salt crusted head and body with and then just laid it on my bald head while I ran. It was possibly the most refreshing thing I have ever felt.”

Each day we are blessed with “cold wash clothes” but sometimes in the middle of the mess and pain we don’t see how much of a blessing they are. There is no doubt that Mr. Haag had to focus all of his being on putting one foot in front of the other, but he was able to feel the refreshment that came his way that day. It may come from another person, it may come from nature, where ever it comes from, grab it, hold onto it and allow it to help encourage us in our race.

Stop for just a second and think about a “cold wash cloth” experience you have had recently. Take time to enjoy it! Then keep hobbling FORWARD!