So many people, experiences and events came together to inspire this post.
It may even be you reading this!
Without going into great detail, I had to sum it all up to 2 thought provoking quotes.
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you.” Jesus Christ
“For David….served his Purpose of God in his own generation.” Acts: 13:36
What is in me? In You?
Will we bring it forth in our generation?
If we don’t, will it hurt us?
Loaded questions but worth exploring, especially now.
It’s seems a lot of people I have talked to are at a point in their lives where change has happened suddenly, is happening currently, or has to happen to move them forward.
Change rattles the norm. It shakes up our world. It also presents an exciting opportunity to reflect on the direction of your life and do something different or more meaningful.
So what is in you?
Will you bring it forth in your generation?
This is not to say you need to do more than you already do…just something else.
Perhaps God wants you and I to redirect our lives. To live with more purpose everyday.
To start to align our life on earth for the next chapter.
Maybe it’s time to jump over the lines in the sand you set for yourself.
You see, I believe God’s got glorious plans for you on the other side.
To be his experience on earth.
To bring out that little light that is deep inside you.
So that you can use it for good, on earth, in your lifetime.
He needs your help to inspire change.
And, look after his people on earth.
You ARE here for a reason.
Your passion and wisdom of experience is a torch we need to light the path forward. If you blow out the flame and walk away, we stay in the dark. If you find a match, light the torch and share it, we can see again.
So, get it? We need you. What match will light your torch?
Tell me what you want, what you really really want.
What do you sing about? What makes you HAPPY?
What do you cry about? What makes you SAD?
What do you dream about doing or becoming? What is your VISION for your FUTURE?
Take the time to answer these questions.
They are the keys to your next chapter.
Pursue what you sing about. Bring forth more of what brings you joy. You will bring happiness to you and the world around you.
Turn your pain into purpose. Your experience grieving and lessons learned along the way will help heal others on their life journey. If you do not bring forth the realness of what you know, others stay lonely and in the dark and so may you. Ouch. Bring on the light.
Go after the dream that been tugging at you for years now. God’s waiting for you to bring it forth. Write the book, start that blog, start that new biz, start a tribe, book that bucket list trip, sign up for that race, run for office, go on that mission, make that call.
Why wait anymore?
You have a positive impact to make. Let it shine in your generation.
In closing, I leave you with this quote by Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms company and the One to One business model:
“I believe each of us has a mission in life, and that one cannot truly be living their most fulfilled life until they recognize this mission and dedicate their life to pursuing it.”
PS. Let me know if you need some help on this. You may also enjoy reading the short book How to Find Your Mission in Life, by Richard Nelson Bowels who also wrote the life changing book, What Color is My Parachute.
The possibilities of each day are within this year for each of us.
Aren’t you excited? I am.
I have decided to let go of the long list of resolutions and keep it simple for 2017.
I am setting 3 goals and committing to them.
Here they are.
#1 Begin each day with gratitudes and a positive lead.
#2. Finish 1st round of my book by Dec. 1.
#3. Focus on achieving my best health ever.
Today I will focus this post on #1: Gratitude.
I am going to start the day with more gratitude and lead with the positive. Having been doing this off and on for years, I have witnessed instant benefits in my attitude, happiness and impact on others.
So how do we turn the ordinary dawn of a new day into the extraordinary?
Use awe as a catalyst. What gives you awe?
Our church minster, Joe Clifford at Myers Park Presbyterian in Charlotte, NC spoke about this concept in a sermon where he recited a beautiful poem I had never heard before.”I thank you God for this amazing” by EE Cummings.
Here it is along with two verses and one very powerful video that was done over Christmas. That should help put us in a positive mindset for 2017.
“i thank You God for most this amazing” by E.E. Cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun’s birthday; this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings:and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)
how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any–lifted from the no
of all nothing–human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?
(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)
Isaiah 40:28-31 28 Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. 29 He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak….31 but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
The creative director at Forest Hill Church did this funny video over Christmas. 20 million have already viewed this video. Have you? Click here: Funny video on Gratitude
Want to join me on this road to glory in 2017?
For the next 21 days start your day with gratitude.
First, say this before you get outta bed every single morning.
Psalm 118:24“This IS the day the Lord has made, Rejoice and be glad in it!”
I bet it will light a tiny spark of mojo to get you going.
Keep a journal by your bed. In the quiet of the early am write down what or who you are thankful for that day.
Then do a “power lead” into the day by keeping your first comments, texts, posts or emails to your family then friends, neighbors or co-workers positive. Be intentional on this. You may have to bite your tongue! It’s worth it.
A few years ago my husband and I had the great opportunity to meet Dan Buettner who is a world cyclist, adventurer, researcher and author of health books The Blue Zones and Thrive.
His talk was about his research into the healthiest communities in the world.
He started out by asking the audience of 100 adults a powerful question:
“Did you walk or bike to school as a kid?” Every one of us raised our hand.
“Do your kids walk or bike to school now?” Not one person raised their hand.
That got our attention Dan!
His research was inspired by the Danish Twin Studies, among others, which established that only 25% of how long the average person lives is dictated by genes. In other words almost 80% of how long and how well you live is up to you.
Beginning in 2004 Dan, along with longevity geneticists, medical researchers, anthropologists, demographic scientists, epidemiologists funded by National Geographic, identified pockets of people across the world who live the longest and are the happiest.
Then they went to visit them!
They were searching for evidence-based common denominators among all places.
They termed these healthy pockets “Blue Zones.”
In these Blue Zones they found that people reach age 100 at rates 10 times greater than in the United States! And they have astoundingly low incredible lower rates of cancer, heart disease and diabetes, those big and nasty killers in the US. Here is what else they found.
9 common traitsin Blue Zone members:
1. They move naturally all day.
The world’s longest-lived people don’t just pump iron, run marathons or join gyms. Instead, they live in environments that constantly nudge them into moving without thinking about.
Think: Do I really need to drive to the library or grocery store? Can I walk or ride a bike? Can I get a stand up desk? Take a walk at lunch outside? Get a dog and walk it?
2. They know their Purpose.
The Okinawans call it “Ikigai” and the Nicoyans in Costa Rica call it “plan de vida;” for both it translates to “why I wake up in the morning.” Knowing your sense of purpose is worth up to seven years of extra life expectancy!!!
Identify what you are passionate about and pursue it as your purpose daily.
3. They take time to Down Shift.
They experience stress like we do. But they take time to relax every day. Okinawans take a few moments each day in the am to remember their ancestors, Seventh DayAdventists (Lomo Linda, CA) pray, Ikarians (Greece) take a nap and Sardinians (Italy) do happy hour with friends.
Take time to relax, meditate, and give thanks daily. We know stress leads to chronic inflammation which contributes to very major age-related disease. Why feed the monster?
4. They stop eating when they are just 80% full.
“Hara hachi bu” –Is the Okinawan, 2500-year old Confucian mantra said before meals which reminds Okinawans to stop eating when their stomachs are 80 percent full.
Think. Do you really need that extra helping?
5. They eat a lot of beans and plants.
They have a “Plant Slant.” They eat what they grow too. Vegetables and beans, including fava, black, soy and lentils, are the basics of most centenarian diets. Meat—mostly pork—is eaten on average only five times per month.
Start small: Double daily intake of beans and veggies.
6. They enjoy wine moderately.
People in all Blue Zones (except Adventists) drink alcohol moderately and regularly with friends and/or with food. Moderate drinkers outlive non-drinkers in these zones. The trick is to drink 1-2 glasses per day (preferably Sardinian Cannonau wine says Dan).
If you can drink just 1 or 2, do.
7. They have a faith-based community.
All but five of the 263 centenarians they interviewed belonged to some faith-based community. Denomination doesn’t seem to matter. Research shows that attending faith-based services four times per month will add 4-14 years of life expectancy!
We need God and each other. Find a faith community and connect.
8. They put loved ones first.
Successful centenarians in the Blue Zones put their families first. This means keeping aging parents and grandparents nearby or in the home (It lowers disease and mortality rates of elders and children). Neighbors of all ages are also active in visiting other families and learning from elders.
Have you talked to or hugged your family lately? Checked in with your neighbor?
9. They have like-minded friends
“The world’s longest lived people chose–or were born into–social circles that supported healthy behaviors, Okinawans created ”moais”–groups of five friends that committed to each other for life.
Research from the Framingham Nurses Studies shows that smoking, obesity, happiness, and even loneliness are contagious. So the social networks of long-lived people have favorably shaped their health behaviors.”
Connect with a healthy, caring tribe daily.
It is so interesting that 6, 7,8 and 9 are all about the power of connecting in community.
Try to apply some of these tips today and let me know how it goes.
Check out Dans new mission – Creating Blue Zones across the US! http://www.bluezones.com/live-happier/thrive-centers/
“I believe each of us has a mission in life, and that one cannot truly be living their most fulfilled life until they recognize this mission and dedicate their life to pursuing it.” -Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms company and the One to One business model.
I love this quote. Life is so short and precious.
What is important to you? What do you want to accomplish? What drives you? What do you love doing but are not doing?
Find out what it is and pursue it.
Think about Tom’s founder, or Mother Theresa, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Lincoln, Einstein, Martin Luther King! Think of all the inventors, leaders, parents, teachers, athletes, career changers, missionaries and others who found out what they wanted to do, went after it and changed their lives…and our lives. Imagine where we all would be if they had ignored that passionate spirit inside?
So what are you passionate about? What do you want to change in your life? Your career?
First, find out what you need just to thrive.
Years ago in my early twenties I was at a cross roads. My dad had died, I was questioning my career choice (and college major), and knew a better career or job was waiting for me. I just needed directions on how to get to it.
I turned to the book “What Color is Your Parachute?” by Richard M. Bolles. This is the same book my Dad turned to when he made a career change when he was 40 years old.
I read it thoroughly and put great effort into each lesson. It was hard work. No career counselor could do it for me. I had to dig deep inside to identify what made me thrive, excited and happiest when and where I was working.
I filled two yellow legal pads with my notes.
The author encouraged me, the reader, to narrow down the discernment into one short, vision sentence. By the book’s end, I could do this because I re-discovered what drove me, my passions, and my dream for an ideal career…the one sentence became my mission.
Freedom to start or work for a great internet start-up
Freedom to call on whom I wanted
Freedom to travel
Freedom to connect to the outdoors. I had to have a big window in my office!
Freedom to make more money
I found all this in a new career. I was really happy.
Thank God I did this!
Who knew I would have to leave this career 3 years later when Mom got dx. with ALS?
My dad also had a similar experience after doing the work in the book. His mission in life had changed. He left his job, pursued a new career and new life, moving our family from the Chicago suburbs to near Washington, DC where he was raised and still had family. He was really happy. He thrived.
Thank God he did this work!
Who knew he would die from Cancer by age 51?
Maybe that is what drives me.
Life is so short friends. Why not do what you love?
Why not find out sooner rather than later? Why live with regret?
I advise people to identify their passions and strengths, then to use them to serve themselves and others in work, family, ministry, careers and the community. Knowing and honoring your passions, strengths and weaknesses is liberating, and can be a guiding light to propel you forward to do great things.
Now, look back to the quote above. It is notable that after over 45 years of career counseling and many career books, Richard Bolles most recent book is a simple spiritual guide called “Finding Your Mission in Life.”
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Twenty-Five.” I need these 2 vowels to not be silent today.
“I” for Inspiration:
Last summer, people of all races, ages, abilities, and incomes were inspired by the #ALSIceBucketChallenge (IBC) to dump a bucket of ice on their heads or donate money in the name of ALS …including me!
Multidisciplinary ALS clinics that had been previously closed are begin re-opened and re-staffed, new research is being funded, essential patient programs, services, and technology are being re-ignited and delivered. See http://www.alsa.org for details.
I learned to LOVE running when I finally made a choice to focus on my form.
Over the past 30 + years of running, playing soccer and countless races, I learned to run slow, fast, short, medium and long distances, to hydrate, to eat well, and get sleep (if you can) before races.
I never thought about my form as a runner.
As a result, I ended up with a slew of injuries and x-tra gear; pain in my metatarsals (across toes), IT band pain, piriformis pain, rotator cuff pain, heel pain, shin splints, a ganglion cyst on my ankle, x-rays, the “boot”, and $350 orthotics, and many stabilizing shoes.
It’s just the life of a runner! With each visit to the doctor, he would say “Don’t run for at least six weeks!
Gasp. I just HAD to run ya know? So I would go right back out there exactly 6 weeks later and get injured again. 🙂
Alas! The running skies opened in 2005.
That was the day I read a small article about running form in our local paper, The Charlotte Observer. The author suggested that we consider our body mechanics and alignment while running versus just the shoes. It made so much sense! But who knew? My previous foot doctors had never analyzed my form, nor had I!
Was the author actually saying it might be me not the SHOE?
This reminded me CarTalk on public radio! He suggested we poor injured readers reach out to ultra runners Barefoot Ted or Danny Dreyer for additional help. Dreyer had just published a book called “ChiRunning” which combined good running form, with physics and the ancient martial art of Tai Chi.
I was not ready to go barefoot then but decided that day as a trainer, and an injury-prone runner, to pursue ChiRunning with all my might.
My injuries went away almost overnight.
You can imagine how I became a RAVING fan! Such a fan I decided to become an instructor and have been teaching this form and philosophy along with instructors all over the world since 2007.
Chi Running decreases injury while enhancing energy efficiency, speed, mental clarity and joy (because you are not injured and probably faster).
The key components of good form: Excellent posture, alignment and relaxation of your shoulders, arms and feet, an engaged core, a quicker, shorter mid-foot stride and a very slight lean from the ankle (Why lean? Physics).
The fee: Free.You just have to be mindful. As we instructors like to say, focusing on your form with every step you take is a tiny price to pay if it will enable you to run injury free, or get back to running.
Are You Injured? Let’s check your form!
Look down at your feet. Do you splay your feet? That splay in your right or left foot may explain your ongoing knee, IT band and hip pain on the same side. Tip: Align your feet hip width and parallel.
How is your posture? Do you stand, work, walk and run hunched over or with poor posture? Got text neck? This creates stress in your neck, upper and lower back, hamstrings and knees. Pore posture also compromises your ability to inhale and exhale efficiently when exercising. Tip: Run tall and lightly. Align your ears, shoulders, hips and feet in a vertical column and engage your core. Check what this looks like in a mirror.
How do you use your arms? Do you even use them? You should! Do your arms “sashay” or swing laterally as you run? Hello IT band and hip pain! Maybe even rotator cuff pain. Tip: Align arms parallel and at a 90 degree angle on flats. Allow them to glide fully as you run.
Check your shoes. Are the heels of your shoes built up? Are they clunkers? Not everyone needs a light minimal shoe, but long ago I learned that it is YOU not the shoe that needs to work harder to prevent injury! Tip: Try on a lighter neutral shoe.
Why? If you have a shoe with nosebleed heels or a high heel-to toe drop, it will simply encourage heel striking and related pain (think shin splints, plantar and achilles pain, fractures, runners knee and back pain). Note, if you still prefer cushion, there are several popular new cushy rides on the market such as Hokas.
Run to cadence. Our military figured this out long ago! Tip: Run with a metronome or find songs with a 175-180 bpm. Or run to your own waltz, right 2,3, left 2,3 and so on.
Tight shoulders? When running, do you ruminate about your job, the family, boyfriend, girlfriend, bills, competitors, and your to-do list? Tip: Get in the flow. Use runs to focus on you – your form, nature and breathing.
As you focus on your form and relaxing whether running solo or with groups, you will run more efficiently, faster, and eventually look or feel like you are gliding like a Kenyan!
Use these tips! Your running life may truly change! You may change! Just ask the thousands of recreational, fitness and competitive runners worldwide who ChiRun, run with great form and even barefoot run!
Last year the “Ick” arrived again by complete surprise.
You may have experienced this kinda “Ick” yourself when you got some awful news!
Personally, I was blindsided. I lost my trust in other’s. I felt misunderstood. I was angry. I was hurt, bruised and confused.
I even got physically sick.
Then, while living with the “Ick” over a few long weeks, I finally came to realize something had to change. The”Ick” had way too much control over me.
“Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn” say’s author John Maxwell.
It was my season to learn.
I made a concerted effort to gain wisdom from the “Ick.” I took the time to learn how leaders of all kinds faced crisis and prevailed, or failed at something and applied lesson’s learned to move onward with success.
Then I wrote it all down.
Doing this work helped turn the “Ick” into light and my loss into a win.
Ya think you are so over a loss of a parent or someone you love, then boom, it hits you.
It still hurts!
A wake up call for me.
Can I get over this please?
When “it” hit me after church, I ran through my rolodex of people who would understand…Mom (gone), Aunt Jo (gone), Friends who are in same boat? I only knew a few. Call them on father’s day? No way! Old deep tears started welling up inside. Crap!
Thinking of Dad, searching for pictures, thinking of all the loss this past week, thinking of kids without dads. I returned to this earlier post I wrote for solace. In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Audience of One.”
The audience is with my father who died of Agent Orange related cancer March 6, 1991 and returned from Heaven for an unexpected visit.
I am talking, he is mostly listening.
My dad walks in the room.
Dad! Daddy! Poopsee!
You are here???
My God, my God, what a surprise!
Am I dreaming?
Please sit down Daddy! We have to talk!
My handsome smiling Dad sits across the sofa from me, with his right leg crossed at an angle, and a drink steadily balanced on his right knee, just like he always did during our “talks.”
“Yes, Amy?” He asked.
Daddy….I just have to ask this first question before anything else!
What is Heaven like?
When you got there did you meet up with everyone? All our family and friends who have gone on?
Do you get to fly free, soaring high among the celestial skies?
You must be out there!
When I am traveling on a bumpy flight, I always imagine you on the wing, taking control of the plane, with that crazed smile on your face, and a peace comes over me like none other. It is very real.
We were only together for 21 years!
That was just not enough time.
I miss you still.
Quite a lesson for me.
All the words we did not say.
All the photos we did not take.
All the hugs we did not share.
Did you know how special you were to us?
In the years right after Vietnam when I was a very young, I sensed your sadness intensely. I never had a name for that behavior. You were funny and gregarious but also pensive and strict.
Thankfully, I was given the will to stay near you, maybe to soften your burdened heart on those days when I wanted to run away.
Now I know what “that” behavior was!
You just never talked about it.
Today we call it PTSD.
My God Daddy, how did you get though this alone?
Well, you had us, but was that really enough?
You lost your father by age five.
Then to lose you mother at age sixteen!
You were practically an orphan.
Then to follow in your fathers footsteps serving in the U.S. Marines.
You saw the best of friends die, disappear or go undercover.
When you came home from war there was no “Welcome home Solider!” “Thank you for serving!”
There was not much support for Vietnam Veterans. For this, I am so sorry. We should be ashamed. Thankfully now we seem to be doing a better job of honoring our vets and soldiers of all wars.
Daddy, despite all those hurdles you were an engaged and loving father and husband!
You taught me to tie my shoes! You played guitar for me! You let me chew Dentyne gum (just in your car)! You snuck in our room after tucking us in to scare us and make us giggle! You took me to Don’s for lunch, grocery shopping at Jewel, shopping for Mom at the old Marshall’s, and would always take me to the bakery for one of those big yellow smiley face cookies!
You did NOT coach me in soccer or say “run, run, hustle your buns” to me from the sidelines like you did my sisters (thank you!).
To my utter shock, you told me my classmate was right when you said:
“Yes Amy, Leprechauns are for real.”
You let me draw on the back of your white undershirts. I got to have fun, and you got your back scratched, demonstrating a “win-win” early on.
Remember when you left us for a weekend seminar in 1980 called “What Color is Your Parachute?” You came back and immediately changed the direction of your life. I still remember the phone call, then us waiving goodbye as you drove away in your little red car to be closer to your roots in Washington, DC, and the career you wanted.
You finally pursued your dream and passion and changed the direction of all our lives!
In last ten years we had together, you reminded me to mind my manners always, “not to take a lazy boy load,”and brush my hair in those days as a teenager when I was into wearing black and listening to The Cure.
You tought me humility and perseverance. You were non-chalant about my win for class president. You demanded excellence in math when I complained, and constantly joked with me about my “sensitive” side and choice in dates.
When it was time to leave for college, I did not want to leave you and Mom! But you were so supportive of me being at UGA it made the transition easier. You were a true Dawg at heart!
I miss biking with you Dad!
Are their biking trails in Heaven?
Remember those days on the C&O Trail?
You always raced ahead of me! I could never keep up.
Then that one day came I never ever imagined.
You were way behind me.
Looking back at you, I sensed something was really wrong.
When I questioned it, you said you had hip pain.
We soon found out you had tumors on your hip and in your lungs.
When I had to go back to school, your lungs filled with fluid.
Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks. CANCER SUCKS.
During treatment, you were amazingly calm. You renewed your passion of flying and forecasting weather. Mom took up art and Chopin.
Cancer took over your body so fast! 16 months!
We had ONLY 21 years together.
Did you see how packed the church was at your funeral?
Standing room only.
Did you see everyone crying? It was intense. Nobody was prepared to let you go.
It was a blur.
In truth, it was really hard for me Daddy.
The last pictures I have of us are from high school!
Yep, it has been a long journey. I am stronger for it. I have made great progress over the years in releasing grief, dealing with loss, whatever you call it, and trying to help others.
Running really helped me!
In fact, as I was headed out for a run last week, “Unchained Melody” came on my Pandora station and the wind was knocked out of me! I immediately thought of you and mom and started to get teary! Wow!
A longing…you know?
Look who I married? You were on to something in those final words!
Look at your grandkids! You would love them!
They all resemble you, have your persistence, smarts, and sense of humor!
Can you believe you got 3 grandsons after having 3 girls?
Yes, males! And one is a naval aviator!
All are engineers like you!
You must be so proud!!
Oh no….what did you say? Our time is up? You have to go?
Dad, I could stay here talking with you forever.
I don’t want to leave you.
It is a dream to be with you.
I don’t want you to go now.
Thank you for listening. Thank you for being my Dad.