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Sign-up for a Charity 5k

The sun is shining, birds are chirping, and greenery is peeking through the dirt giving me hope Spring is around the corner.

Warmer temperatures not only mean a changing of the seasons but charity 5ks are popping up everywhere.

Here are seven reasons you should sign-up for a 5k:

1. Raise funds for a worthy cause.

2. Physically showing support for the nonprofit and/or family.

3. It's fun! Nothing like gathering with hundreds/thousands of people for one purpose.

4. Opportunity to get in shape.

5. A family event that gets you outside, active, and disconnected from technology.

6. You'll learn something about yourself. I've been running 5ks for 25 years and each race I increase my mental toughness.

7. Snap a few pics and share your experience and the charity on social media. Nonprofits love to see their message spread!

I believe in giving to others and to yourself. 5ks are an opportunity to do both!

Which race will you register for today?

P.S. Today's challenge is in memory of Roger Bannister. He was the first person to break the 4-minute mile. He did so much for the sport of running. Today the running community lost a champion.

Blessings,

Stephanie

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About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com

Support Small Businesses and Shop Local

Did you know there are over 28 million small businesses in the United States?

I've found small businesses to be more personable and are what help make a community great. Many small businesses are also involved in philanthropic initiatives in their communities

If you are in Northwest Indiana, I love Extra Mile Fitness Company for my running shoes and Aster + Gray for a gift or home items.

Also local to NWI but available online is my favorite face cream Pelle by Lauren and homemade soaps by BUN’s Soapbox.

I not only love all these products but I made new friends with the owners.

Today if you are out and about, stop and support a local small business! You never know, you may make a new friend!

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com

Send an Encouraging Text

I recently started writing articles for a police magazine and I submitted my second article today.

My husband is my proofreader and after he read the article he sent me the texts below. They totally made my day!

My husband is as honest as they come and if there was an issue with my article he would have said so.

Even though this gift only took him seconds to send, it set my mind at ease that what I wrote was worthy of publication.

I struggle with confidence issues as relates to my writing. Being dyslexic adds a layer of stress because my grammar isn't the best and I make mistakes that I can't see. I proofread everything over and over! At some point, I say a prayer and hit send!

So you may not think a "kudos" text means a lot to someone but you never know what insecurities they are facing. If we build each up with our words, we'll also build up the self-esteem of others.Who in your life needs a little encouragement today?

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com

Share a Memory

Last week my friend posted this newspaper clipping on FB.

25 years ago, the reserve basketball team I played on finished the season with a perfect 18-0 record.

What a fun memory!

My friend tagged the players and we were all commenting and engaging with each other.

Over the years I've been saddened by all the negativity on social media. Sharing good memories is a way to add positivity to your feed and is a free gift you can give your friends!

What memory will you share?

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com

Several years ago Joellyn bravely stood up in one of my dream board workshops and shared a dream she'd never shared with anyone.

She wanted to write a book. She had zero experience but it was dream God laid on her heart.

After the workshop, Joellyn signed up for my coaching. As they say, the rest is history.

We've been working together ever since!

After we met, life threw her a curveball when her son was diagnosed with dyslexia. Joellyn didn't just become an advocate for dyslexic children but went on to become a dyslexia specialist.

Months later I was thrown the same curveball, just much later in life. I'd always knew something was different with me, but most times I just thought I was stupid. Why could I not get things others kids got?

At age 39, I discovered I’m dyslexic. The roles reversed and Joellyn was now helping me! Our paths were definitely meant to cross.

We both have dreams of standing on a stage, sharing our incredible journey together. And guess what? We know it will happen!

This morning I sent Joellyn a text, “Good luck today! You’ll do fabulous!”

Several hours after that text, I sat at my desk, tears streaming down my face, watching my client, and friend, Joellyn, testify in front of the Indiana House Education Committee on her experience with dyslexia. What a moment!

I’ve spent years being one of her biggest cheerleaders! Who will you cheer on this week?

Blessings,

Stephanie

P.S. Haven't read The Giving Challenge? Purchase Now!

Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

About the Author:

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is the author of The Giving Challenge-40 Days to a More Generous Life (on sale NOW!), a speaker, life success coach, and a daily giver. Stephanie empowers people to change their life through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com

www.GivingGal.com

In an instant, our lives can change on a dime. A horrific car crash, a divorce filing, or a sudden job loss. I usually think of “in an instant” as a bad thing. Like eight years ago today, in an instant, my college friend Leslie, was gone after a brave battle with cancer. She was 32 years old. Even though we hadn’t spoken since graduation, I followed her journey through her blog. Each post brought tears, and sometimes sobs, and prayers for Leslie’s healing and comfort her family.

But in an instant, Leslie’s death changed my entire life. Yes, I have lost friends in the past, but for some reason, her death hit me hard. Like a ton of bricks. Maybe it was because she was my age. We went to same the college. We were both married. Our lives looked similar. Her death came at a time when I was transitioning from being a police officer to starting a career in the corporate world. Months after her death I would become a workaholic, making a lot of money and wondering why the money wasn’t making me happy. I was living the same day, every day. Working long hours both weekdays and weekends. Was this what I was meant to do? To be? To work to make money?

Leslie’s death started me questioning everything in my life. What the heck was I doing? How was I living my days? I started thinking, knowing, that in an instant, it could all end. It could all end and what would I have done?

Years earlier I had created my dream list. Things I wanted to do. People I wanted to meet. Places I wanted to go and things I wanted to learn. It was saved in a file on my desk. I only opened it when I had something to add, rarely, if ever, checking anything off. Leslie’s death challenged me to live my list. To be intentional about each day.

My husband and I had a come to Jesus meeting August 2008. It was a heated discussion in our kitchen, I remember it like it was yesterday. I remember yelling, “what the hell are we doing with our lives?” I wasn’t angry, I was scared. Scared that the day would come and I would have a ton of regrets. The day would come and I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I wanted to do. The things that had been sitting trapped in an excel file on my desk.

Shortly after that discussion, we decided to take our first step to living our lives. We started planning our dream vacation to Hawaii. It had been five years sinceUntitled design (1) we’d been on vacation because we were always “too busy.”

The trip was amazing. I learned to surf. We got up at 2:30a.m. to drive up a mountain to see the sunrise above the clouds and then biked 20 miles down. I thought I was going to die, but I did it. I was living! I took my first helicopter ride and I swam with dolphins. Did I mention a dolphin pooped in my hand? But I didn’t care. I…was… LIVING!

Since Leslie’s death, here are some of the cool things I have experience (click here for full list):

  • Saw Duke win a NCAA National Championship…LIVE
  • Learned to kayak and now do so almost every weekend
  • Ran a marathon with my mom
  • Planted a garden and learned to make and can my own salsa
  • Learned to knit (but I need to finish a scarf)
  • Took ice skating lessons
  • Swam with sharks
  • Sat in the audience at an Oprah Show
  • Walked 60 miles in three days, raising funds for cancer
  • Took my dad to see Washington D.C. during police week

I think of Leslie almost every day. Every July 26th, her name pops up on my calendar. It’s a day for me to be thankful for her journey changing my life, to remember her family and make sure I’m living the life she can’t.

Friends, right now your life can change in an instant. From here on out you can choose to live a different life. If there is something you are struggling with or going through, don’t let it steal your happiness…your joy. What are your priorities? If you don’t know, sit down and make a list. Do you have a bucket list? If so, are you living it? If not, write out your list and keep adding to it. Then pick one and make a plan to live it!

I’ll end with one of my favorite quotes by Eleanor Roosevelt, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

Blessings,

Stephanie

About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and soon to be an author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Lifer (pre-order now!). She challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish and live their big dreams, and bless others daily through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

Do you know the dreams of your friends? Two years ago I watched my niece construct all sorts of amazing things with Legos. She had music playing and I asked her about the song and artist. She stated it was the Newsboys and how she would love to see them in concert. Memories flooded my mind as I attended several Newsboys concerts some 25 years ago. I love everything concerts offer. Dancing, singing, good energy, fun and memory making with friends. I loved she was showing an interest in live music, as it has been a big part of my life over the years.

After our brief discussion, I could have easily forgotten about the conversation and went on enjoying our time together. But I think we have a duty to help others accomplish their dreams. If we can, we should take action, especially where they may not be able.

Want to support someone's dream? Here are 5 Handy Tips that you will help:

  1. Listen. Sometimes we do a good job of speaking, but often don't listen and hear what others are telling us. People share their dreams with us all the time, but we may let their words go in one ear and out the other.
  2. Make Their Dreams a Priority. Write it down. Put it on your to do list. Keep it in the front of your mind. We all live busy lives and it's hard to remember our own goals and daily tasks in addition to someone else's.
  3. Research. Start researching how you can help your friend accomplish their dream. For the concert, I continually checked Newsboys tour page on their website. I was so excited when a location and date that worked popped up!
  4. Get Your Friend Involved. It's their dream, but for one reason or another, they hadn't been pursuing it. It may be confidence, time, ability, etc. By you doing some of the leg work, it may be enough to jump start them to making progress on accomplishing their dream.
  5. Be an Encourager. Let your friend know you are there to support their journey. From time to time, check in. Ask for next steps and discuss a time frame for accomplishing the steps. Be a cheerleader along the way and before you know it, they'll be accomplishing their dream.

IMG_7742After two years, I was finally able to take my niece (and nephew) to the Newsboys concert. It was an incredible evening. We laughed, sang songs, danced, ate popcorn and enjoyed time together as a family, as I couldn’t leave out my mom and sister. Sure I could have bought Legos, for her birthday, but making a memory that will last a lifetime was so much better. Experience gifts are one of the best gifts you can give. If it helps someone accomplish their dream, even better!

Blessings, Stephanie

About the Author:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a life coach, speaker, daily giver and soon to be author who challenges people to be bold in their actions, accomplish big dreams, and bless others through giving.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

I’m having surgery tomorrow, it’s scary, but I’m not in control. The scheduler calls to review the operation time, procedure and goes through a series of questions based on information from a prior surgery. The scheduler asked, “Do you have GERD?”

I answer, “No.”

She asks if I’m on any medication for GERD. I say, no.

She then questions, “How did you get rid of GERD?”

I said, “I stopped eating gluten?”

We have a long discussion about it, I tell her I fall off the bandwagon at times, but always revert to restricting gluten.

She says, “I could probably solve a lot of my problems if I could get off caffeine.”

“You CAN get off caffeine,” I said.

No, no I can’t.

Sure you can. Why not?

The questioning goes on for a couple of minutes, and after encouraging her a bit, she gets it and says, “I guess if I were positive I’d have better success.”

It’s a start!

All of that to say, our thoughts dictate many of our actions. They dictate if we not only dream but pursue our dreams and then believe enough in ourselves to accomplish those goals.

There is something you want to do right now, but you’re stuck. Stuck in bad habits. Stuck thinking negatively and you think your situation is never going to change.

I’m here to tell you that’s not true. That’s not true at all.

Change negative thoughts to positive and watch how your life changes.

Two years ago I talked to a group of moms about DREAMING BIG. During the workshop one mom stood up and shared, with a crowd of strangers, she’d always wanted to write a book. She was scared to utter those words. She knew nothing about writing. But guess what? A year after standing up and sharing her dream she submitted her book to a publisher!

She shared her dream, hired me as her coach, we worked on a game plan, she took baby steps and made progress every week, focusing on her goal. She invested time and money into herself, and her life is on an amazing new path. We both have no doubt she’ll be a published author, and we are excited where else God is going to take her.

Today is the day you…

  • go after what you want.
  • turn your can’t to can.
  • stop thinking you’re not worth it. You are!

You were created to do AMAZING things.

Write your dream down. Share it with someone. Write the next three steps you need to take that are going to get you closer to accomplishing your goal. Start taking action!

If I can help, let me know. I’d love to go on the journey with you.

Blessings,

Stephanie

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About the Author:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stephanie Jones and her husband, Mike, live in Northwest, IN and enjoy lake life and travel. Stephanie is a writer, speaker, life coach, daily giver and the author of The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life. She challenges people to live their dreams, discover their gifts, and do amazing things.

You can contact Stephanie by email at stephanie@GivingGal.com.

 

Sitting on the edge of the tub wincing and talking to myself, turning around from shaving my husband says, "Pull it off quickly."

Yank! Ouch! Jetting up and hopping around I'd done it. I pulled off my toenail and now was in excruciating pain. Sitting back down, I said, "I'm feeling woozy. I may pass out."

I was a little dramatic. But my toe did hurt.

It's been two months since I ran the Chicago Marathon and I'm still feeling the effects. I've lost two toenails in two nights. I'm processing the experience and trying to hold on to my greatest accomplishment of the year, my Everest.

What's that quote by Helen Keller?

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved."

The quote by Ms. Keller sums ups my training and the marathon. It was not easy and definitely not quiet. Ask my husband. I whined, cried and complained. Every training run came with a trial, from being chased by dogs to jumping in ditches because of distracted drivers. The first couple of months I suffered with every step. I was out of shape and nagging back problems wore on me more mentally than physically.

After crossing the finish line, I knew I had been strengthened, inspired, and success achieved.

Like mile 17, I was still running through a wall. I drew my inspiration for mile 18 from Brian Dickerson, Everest Solo Summiteer, Former USN Air Rescue Swimmer and Author of one of my favorite books, Blind Descent.

Brian and I work at Cisco and I had an opportunity to hear him speak at a company event. After the event, I logged into Amazon and bought his book, Blind Descent. I've been obsessed with Everest for years. A love passed down from my father. I've watched all the movies and read many books on the world's highest peak. If there is an IMAX on Everest I'm there!

My review on GoodReads summed up my feeling for Blind Descent and why Brian was my inspiration for mile 18.

" There are several things in life I’m obsessed with in reading about, Navy Seals and Mt. Everest. I think the draw for me is the understanding of those that are not just physically tough, but extraordinarily mental tough and Brian Dickinson definitely falls into this category. I started the book on a Saturday morning and couldn’t put it down. I’m a slow reader, so I literally did not accomplish anything all weekend except finishing the book. He had my attention in the prologue and never lost it. I might add he had me in tears on page two of the prologue also. This book was written with so much emotion I felt like I was on the journey with him and his family and friends. I’m not sure how one doesn’t believe in God after reading this book. I have ready many books on Everest, the tragedies and stories of survival and this by far is the best I’ve read. Even if you are not into Everest it would still be an excellent read. Anyone going through a struggle or a hurdle they think is impossible needs to read this book. There is always hope."

As I struggled with each step I would think about Brian's journey on Everest. I would think, it's sunny and warm while I'm running. Brian faced subzero temperatures. I had plenty of oxygen and Brian ran out. I was surrounded by thousands of people, cheering and supporting me each step of the marathon. Brian was alone. I could see the path in front of me, read the signs fans created and knew if there was a pothole that needed to be avoided. Brian experienced snow blindness and couldn't see his hand in front of his face.

If Brian could make it off Mt. Everest blind, I was going to make it through mile 18 and I did. No excuses. I suffered through mile 18, but character was developed. I was nearing the peak of my Everest. I ripped off the label with Brian's name etched, gave it a kiss, whispered a thank you and flung it over my shoulder. I was onto #19.

As we approach the New Year, I challenge you to think about what you want to accomplish in 2016? What's your Everest? Here are a couple of steps you can take that will put you on the path to success.

  1. Go read Blind Descent. It will motivate you to Dream Big and pursue those dreams.
  2. Grab a pen and paper, find a cozy, quiet place in your home, and jot down your goals for 2016.
  3. Pick one goal to focus on and write the next three steps you have to take to move towards accomplishing your goal.
  4. Shoot me an email at Stephanie@GivingGal.com or post on my FB wall one thing I can do to help you accomplish your goal. Accountability is key to success!

I'll wrap up with my favorite line from Blind Descent,

"Whatever your mountain is-no matter how impossible it seems at times, no matter how many obstacles you face along the way, and no matter how many people tell you it can't be done- it is possible for you to summit. My parting words are simple: Live life. Create goals, and then chase after them."

Blessings,

Stephanie

If you missed my first 17 miles, you can check out my stories here:

Miles #1- #4

Miles #5- #8

Miles #9- #13

Miles #14- #15

Mile #16

Mile #17

 

P.S. Never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!

I have an exercise for you.

 

  1. Grab a sheet of paper and pen.
  2. Write numbers 1-26 down the left side of the paper.
  3. Jot down people that have inspired you.
  4. Once your list is complete, write notes to everyone on your list. If they are no longer with us, find a family member and send them a note.

#3 may take you 15 minutes or a couple of months. That's okay. I can't tell you how powerful it was for me to make my list. I know the process affected me and those of you that are kind enough to follow me on my mile by mile journey. It helped me get through a difficult time and may help you get through something in your life.

I asked you to go through the exercise so you'd understand that the task is more difficult than first perceived. There are hundreds of people that I love, that challenge and motivate me in various ways and the list wasn't intended to slight anyone. I wish I could share the formula I used to narrow it down to 26, but most of it was based on feeling. Feeling strong enough about someone's situation that it would motivate me mile by mile.

I must be honest…I cheated on mile 17. I didn't choose one person for this mile, but three people, one family. Their story is intertwined and there is no way I could choose only one. I knew that for this mile, I needed to keep them together. I needed to pray for them as a family and draw from the strength they pull from each other.

Mile #17 was dedicated to a high school friend and fellow track/cross country runner Pam. In high school, I strove to be a runner like Pam. She worked hard and each time she stepped onto the track it seemed so effortless. She left nothing to chance and when she crossed the finished line it was evident she had given it her all.

Pam's children Brookelyn and Derek have Dysautonomia, a medical condition that causes a malfunction of the Autonomic Nervous System. Here's a little physiology lesson, the automatic functions of the body are the ones we consciously don't have to think about, such as heart rate, digestion, blood pressure, kidney function and body temperature control.

They have also been diagnosed with mitochondrial disease which is a group of disorders caused by dysfunctional mitochondria, the organelles that are the powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria are found in every cell of the human body except red blood cells, and convert the energy of food molecules into the ATP that powers most cell functions. Symptoms include poor growth, loss of muscle coordination, muscle weakness, visual problems, hearing problems, learning disabilities, heart disease, liver disease, kidney disease, gastrointestinal disorders, respiratory disorders, neurological problems, autonomic dysfunction and dementia (wikipedia).Can you imagine being a child and having deal with such a diseases?

Pam shares the struggles of this disease honestly and openly with her friends and family on facebook. But I have taken note, as others have, of common themes in Pam's journey.

  1. Thankfulness. She is often thankful for friends, family and coworkers. Never losing sight of what is important or taking these people or things for granted.
  2. Fighters. I love that she shows us pictures of her children in the hospital smiling and snuggling together. She refers to them often as fighters. I love that term. A fighter never gives up. A fighter pushes through tough times. And fighters, as she notes, don't complain.
  3. Faith. Pam often draws on her Christian faith to get her through the day. She shares her faith openly and provides encouragement to all that read her posts.
  4. Heroes. Her heroes are not in capes, tight pants and in a comic book. Her heroes are her children and she is theirs. Heroes are admired for their bravery, courage and noble qualities. Several weeks she posted one of my favorite quotes which I think perfectly aligns to the topic of heroes.

I must admit, mile 17 was a difficult mile for me. I wanted to walk soooo bad. I pulled out all the stops to keep me running. I have always had a passion for music and songs have been with me almost every moment, good or bad, throughout my life. And songs propelled me forward through every step of the Chicago Marathon. I knew what I needed to keep me going. I flipped through my iPod to find Jason Aldean’s She's Country and Hicktown so I could hear Adam Shoenfeld jamming on the guitar. I found myself running, playing air guitar and smiling. I'm sure I looked CRAZY...but I didn't care. Anything to get me through another mile.

Blessings,

Stephanie

If you missed my first 16 miles of the Chicago Marathon, you can check out my stories here:

Miles #1- #4

Miles #5- #8

Miles #9- #13

Miles #14- #15

Mile #16

P.S. To make sure you never miss a post, enter your email address on the right and hit SUBSCRIBE. Thank you!marathon3