RIGHT NOW YOU CAN…DON’T DELAY!

I woke up this morning to an email inbox filled with “ACT NOW”, “DON’T MISS OUT”, and “LIMITED TIME OFFER” emails. It did not surprise me since I am writing this post just a few days after Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. It dawned on me that the message of “DON’T MISS OUT” can cause havoc in our lives and our Holidays. There are so many fun things to do that come around only one time a year after all, and we suddenly feel the pressure to fit it all in. DON’T DELAY!

man-with-watch-cropped

As my business is growing, one of the areas that I am taking time to learn about is how to get my products and services into the hands of wonderful and amazing people like you. Like it or not, this is called “marketing”. As I learn more about the marketing world, one of the strategies it employs is creating a sense of urgency. When companies and organizations create a sense of urgency, we act quicker because we don’t want to miss out. And I hate to tell you, it works.

During the Holidays this sense of urgency is all around us and if we do not recognize it and take control over it, it will control us.

Here are three areas for us to recognize and take control of this Holiday Season.

  • There are many Community Activities that only come around this time of year. Do you feel the urgency to participate in as many as possible? There is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying these activities. I hope to get to a few of them myself. Just remember that many of them will be back next year and it is not necessary to overwhelm you and your loved ones schedules with too many activities. You have control.
  • How many sales ads and coupons have you received this Holiday? Do they build a sense of urgency inside of you? I love sales and I love coupons but sometimes I forget how they really impact my life. Yes, they can save me some money, and that is great value in and of itself but, they can also consume a lot of time. When I transitioned to working at home, saving a buck was very important since we had to make ends meet on one income. I would travel to multiple grocery stores to hit the best deals at each one, and yes, I saved some money. What I realized over time was that I was spending a lot more gas money, for one, and a ton of time running in and out of stores. We each have to decide for ourselves what is most important. I simply want to help you see that sales and coupons not only impact your pocket-book, they impact your precious time. Don’t forget, you have control.
  • How many invitations have you received to different events this year? I have not received very many. What I have received is expectations. We are no longer invited to things and no longer given the choice of declining the invitation. In most cases these days, it is communicated that we are expected to attend. I want to remind you that you are invited to attend these events. Yes, there are trade-off to attending or not attending. I simply want to remind you that it is within your control to accept or decline the invitation.

Your choices this Holiday Season will have a huge impact on you and your loved ones. You are their rock and the glue that holds things together. They need you, they value you, and you have so much to contribute to their lives. Accepting and taking control is vital for all of us as we are bombarded with messages of “URGENCY!”

Here’s to taking control of what we can and having our Best Holiday Season Ever!

Two Options for Navigating Obligations and Expectations this Holiday Season

How is everyone doing the day after Thanksgiving? The topic of obligations and expectations may be fresh in your mind. Obligations and expectations during the Holiday Season can be a good thing or a bad thing. There are wonderful events that we feel obligated to attend and there are the not so wonderful events that we feel obligated to attend. The same goes for expectations. Some are healthy, some are not. So how do we navigate these obligations and expectations this Holiday Season so that we can have our best Holiday Season ever?

Mother and daughter baking together

I just recently started reading a book that came highly recommended called Essentialism, The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. Through the years, I have worked hard in my life to keep things as simple and as enjoyable as possible. With that in mind, this book looked like it would enhance what I already knew and held dear. I did not pick the book up with the Holiday Season in mind, but I have found the concepts to be very applicable. Here are two options I want us to consider when it comes to obligations and expectations in the next few months. The direction we decide to take will not be cut and dry, but hopefully, we find a middle ground that will help us to focus on the right stuff.

One option is to say yes, yes and yes. So many times it feels easiest to just say yes to everything and everyone who makes a request of us. We certainly feel a sense of reward when we say yes, because everyone is happy with us. But what happens so many times when we say yes to everyone and everything, is we start to fall into a cycle of “I have to”, “It’s all Important”, and “How can I fit it all in?” We take on so much “good stuff” but we find that other areas in our lives start to suffer. We start to feel out of control and unsure of whether the right things are getting done. Especially during the Holidays, we start to feel overwhelmed and exhausted. I’ve been there, and I am pretty sure you have too. In fact as I have spent time with wonderful individuals already this month, folks are already feeling the stress as they anticipate the months to come. That is heartbreaking to me. The Holidays were never meant to be miserable. They were meant to be filled with wonder and joy! I want to remind you, as I have to remind myself, that we do have a choice in how we fill our time and energy. There is another option.

The second option is to say yes only to the Best things, and no to the rest. The first thing that comes to my mind when I read that heading, is dealing with the many people who I might have to say “no” to. I almost get a knot in my stomach. Wow! It feels so much better to just say “yes”, at least in the short-term. I need you to trust me on this, choosing the best and saying “no” to the rest is the best thing. The initial interaction of saying “no” might be hard, but it will pay dividends in your life and relationships. Greg McKeown even mentions that in the long run, people respect you more for saying “no” and prioritizing what is most important to you. Choose the few best things over a quantity of good things. Saying yes to the best requires making a choice. It requires discerning what really matters. It requires accepting trade-offs, because there is always a trade-off. When we choose the BEST things we feel in control. We get the right things done. We experience more joy in our life. Isn’t that what we all want?

One strategy I have employed over the years when I am unsure whether I should say “yes” to something or not, is to tell people that I will get back with them with an answer. This creates a time of “pause”, which allows me to ask myself how this fits with what is most important to me. Just recently, a friend of mine was looking for volunteers to help with a fundraiser for a very worthy cause. She was getting desperate, so she sent a plea out to her friends and family to see if anyone could help. When I received the message, I held off for a day or so and asked myself if this fit with what is most important to me. I also thought about how it was going to affect my time with my husband. Once I had thought it through I agreed to help. Yes, I said yes! But I only said yes when I knew I was going to have plenty of time with John the rest of that weekend and that volunteering fell in line with an area of my life that is most important to me. When you receive a request, slow things down, take time to think, and know that your “yes” or your “no” is the right thing…is the BEST thing.

We have SO MANY CHOICES with regard to how we spend our time each day and during the Holidays. It is great to have options, but ultimately we have the power to choose. Let’s try to stay zeroed in on what is most important to us and center our lives and our Holidays around those most important people and things.

Thank you Mr. McKeown for your book Essentialism. A number of the above concepts were pulled from a simple graph he created on page 8 of his book. If you want to live more intentional and focus on the few most important things in your life, this is a great book to add to your Christmas Wish List this year.

Here’s to saying YES to our BEST!

See How Easy You Can Bring the Spice Back Into Your Life

Every day we wake up, work, eat, and go back to bed. I know that is an oversimplification of what our days look like, but it can be pretty regimented at times. What is it that brings spice to our life? I believe it’s people. Even more specifically, the real spice comes from the people in our life that are closest to us, those most important people. I don’t know about you, but it is easy to fall into a day-to-day rut and start to take our most important people for granted. They enrich our lives and we enrich theirs. How can we spice up life and show them how much they mean to us?

Happy loving family

My life is filled with many amazing people. I could not even begin to list them all because, in my absent-mindedness, I would surely leave someone out. Each person in my life holds a very special place in my heart. I am truly thankful for each of them. Just yesterday as I was driving to visit family, I spent some time mentally listing out all of the people that I am thankful for and why. I immediately felt peace and joy in my heart. We are so fortunate to have special people in our lives.

How can we tap back into our most important relationships? How can we show how much we care? Here are a few ideas:

  • Our thoughts become our actions. Spend some time when you are driving or waiting for an appointment to think about all of the people in your life. Think about how special they  are to you, how they contribute to your happiness, and how your life would not be the same without them. These wonderful thoughts will bring joy into your day and it prompts us to take action. I know when I take time to think about how lucky I am to have John, my husband, in my life, I can’t help but want to spend time with him, send him an encouraging text or give him a hug. Take some time today to think about and be grateful for the people in your life.
  • Make it personal. Have you ever come across the perfect gift for someone? Or came up with an idea to surprise someone special to you? Remember the feeling of excitement it built in you? You were so excited to see the joy on their face when they received it. Ask yourself “what is one small thing I can do today to bring a smile to someone I care for?” It might be as simple as buying and giving them their favorite candy bar. It could be sending them a text message telling them how much they mean to you. It could be surprising your child by picking them up from school in person or bringing lunch to your significant other at work. Whatever it is, doing something special for those we care about reminds us of what is most important.
  • Allow for fun. Every relationship looks differently; therefore this looks different for each of the individuals you care for. John and I enjoy spending time together, but many of our hobbies are independent from each other. It is important to enjoy time together, but I also enjoy giving John the freedom to go off and enjoy his hobbies without me. Figure out what that looks like for you, but prioritize fun for those most important to you. Life is too short not to enjoy it!
  • Keep life simple. When I am running around with my head cut off, I do not have time or energy to do any of the above. We all have limits to our time, energy and focus. We can either give those we care for some of our focused time, or we can give them the leftovers. I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, I don’t have much leftover. My creativity is used up, my energy is gone and fun is the last thing on my mind. The simpler we keep our lives and schedules, the more energy we have for those most important to us.

Who is most important to you? What would you like to do in the next 24 hours for them? Write yourself a reminder and make it happen. This small act will bring joy to you and those you care about!

Here’s to prioritizing those who are most important in our lives!

What Everybody Ought to Know – We are doing Great!

I spend a lot of time talking about how we can keep moving forward, and it is incredibly important in the pursuit of living our best. Today, I want to stop and remind you that you are wonderful and doing so much in your life that you should be proud of. Many of you are parents who pour love into your children every day. We all work hard at our house to make it a place where we, and our loved ones, can call home. We keep it running smoothly. Many of you work outside of your home meeting deadlines, working with challenging individuals, and providing financially. We volunteer at church, school, take care of loved ones, and continue to take baby steps towards our dreams. We are doing GREAT!

Man a fireworks resized

Just this week a dear friend of mine lovingly suggested that I should recognize all that I do and how far I have come. This same friend is one of the individuals in my life who holds me accountable. As part of our accountability, we keep a log of what we are working on how we want to move forward. It was in these logs where I spent some time reviewing my past year. I found some interesting insights.

  • I realized that over the past year I have had the privilege of spending wonderful times with my parents, who are now in their 80’s. I would not trade that time for anything!
  • I realized last year this time, my husband was changing jobs. There was a lot of uncertainty, and we knew that the year was going to be a year of transition. It has been filled with personal challenges, but we are making it through, and opportunities are unfolding.
  • I have grown leaps and bounds! Things that I used to avoid like the plague, I am moving forward on. I have not let my fears hold me back! For that I am immensely proud!
  • I have stayed steady and strong in the areas that are most important to me. My love for God, myself, and my husband has never been stronger. I have more energy than I have ever had physically because I have stuck with eating well and pushing myself with exercise. I love the people I spend my life with. Strong and steady!

I want you to celebrate what you have accomplished! Will you take time over the next few days to look back over your past year to see how far you have come? If you do not journal, take a look back on your calendar to see what you have accomplished. Look back on all of the pictures you have taken, remembering those important times in your life. You have done and accomplished so much!

You are an amazing person, having an impact on many lives for good. I am proud of you and your heart to live your best! Let’s celebrate what we have accomplished!

Here’s to US and how GREAT WE ARE!

Special note: It is my heart to encourage as many individuals as possible through my blog! If you know someone who could use a little bit of encouragement, would you invite them to subscribe? I would love to send an encouraging post straight to their email inbox each week! – Jen

3 Ways To Add Sweet Moments To Our Lives

Our hearts beat a special way, even flutters a little bit when we experience a special moment with someone or something that we hold dear to our hearts. It could be that moment standing out in nature when you have that awe-inspiring feeling in the presence of it’s beauty. It could be that precious moment a little one looks up at you in that way that is special just between the two of you. It could be that moment when your significant other gently puts their hand in yours. These are special moments in our lives, and they feel so great. Yet how can the days pass by so quickly and these moments become so rare?

baby-baby-with-mom-mother-kiss-tenderness-67663 resizedMy husband, John and I were not able to have children ourselves; however, we have been blessed to have been adopted as “Aunt Jen and Uncle John” by many families. We adore these families and love spending time with them. I especially enjoy the moments when the little ones try to tackle a project on their own, but soon find they need a little assistance. Aunt Jen is always glad to jump in to help! Just recently we had a crew of kids making S’mores, roasting their marshmallows over the fire then assembling their gooey, melted, scrumptious snack. A few of the younger kids brought their freshly melted marshmallows over to the table for assembly, and a perplexed look fell over their faces. “How do I get this gooey thing off my stick and make my S’more?” I happened to catch that look of uncertainty that allowed me to jump into action.  It took less than a minute as we worked together to assemble their S’more. The moment passes so quickly, but my heart skipped a beat when I handed them their ready to eat S’more. They looked up at me and they gave me something so sweet. It was that special look with that special smiles that said “thanks Aunt Jen.” No words needed.

These moments rarely happen on their own; they require some effort on our part. Here are three things that help facilitate special moments.

  1. Slowing down. Think back to the special moments you have had. Did they happen when you were running from one place to another feeling rushed or running late?  It’s possible, but mine have always been in those slower, more peace filled moments. Our lives are incredibly busy. More and more is expected of us on a daily basis.  Opportunities for special moments will slip by if we do not take the time to slow down.
  2. Ask ourselves what is most important? Is it more important to fold that last load of laundry or to sit down for a short period of time and talk with someone you love? Is it more important to run one more errand or to pull over into the park and enjoy an amazing sunset? Sometimes the laundry and the errand has to get done, I get it. But we will miss out on so much if we forget to remind ourselves what is most important.
  3. Look for opportunities. We have the opportunity to turn “normal” moments in our day into special moments. Looking for opportunities to create a special moment requires us to step out of our own world and into the world of others. If we are getting ready to stop by a friend or family member’s house, ask ourselves if there is something special you could pick up for them that would make their day. What do they love? Imagine the look on their face when they realize that not only did you go out of your way for them, but you remembered something that was special to them. The feeling in your heart will be priceless.

When you opened this blog post, what sweet moment immediately stirred in your mind? What did you have to do to make that moment a special moment? I, along with my other reader, would love to hear about your experiences and what made them special. Please comment below! You might have to set up an account the first time to leave a comment, but you only have to do it once and then we can chat all we want!
Here’s to a great life, filled with sweet moments!