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March 2020

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These are challenging times, and I'm not going to gloss over the fact we all are dealing with unprecedented times. I'm grateful that I've worked from home since 2008, so my daily life really hasn't changed. It's gotten busier.

But for many, maybe even you, they are going a bit stir crazy. Over the past week, I've stumbled upon various activities that might help you and your family to keep your body and mind active and healthy.

  1. Want to learn a new language? Rosetta Stone is giving away free lessons for students. Maybe it's an activity for you and your child can do together.
  2. Spending more time on the couch than you'd like? Beach Body is offering 14 days for free. This program could help jump start moving your body and getting on a healthy food plan. This is one I'm seriously looking at taking advantage of. 
  3. You know I can't have a list of activities and not include giving!  The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation has these notes that you can print, fill-out and leave at your neighbors' door. Let's all get through this together!
  4. Scholastic, oh does that word take me back in time. I loved their book fairs!  If you have kiddos at home, they have great free resources to keep children reading, thinking and growing.
  5. Ever want to go to an Ivy League School? It's never really been on my list, but I just might have to add it after reading about the Science of Wellbeing course at Yale. It started on March 29th, but I think you can still sign up. If not, check out another free course from Coursera.
  6. Put up Christmas lights. I don't know about you but twinkling lights always make me feel better. Maybe decorate the tree for Easter or spring! See how others are spreading cheer through their lights.
  7. Have you always wanted to watch a Broadway Musical?  If so, Broadway HD is offering a 7-Day free trial. Just remember to cancel so you don't get charged. My favorite musicals: Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables. The music is spectacular!
  8. Are you a fan of the arts? Travel and Leisure have compiled a wonderful list of Museums around the world that are offering virtual tours. Which museum will you visit?
  9. Got a young girl in your household? Cisco Networking Academy is offering free Girl Power Tech courses. I'd love the take the entrepreneur class!

Check back with me and let me know what activities you enjoyed!

Stay healthy,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life" and “The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life”

P.S. I'm not affiliated with any of these programs. They've just come across my path over the past week and I thought one or more of the offers might be helpful to my friends and followers. 

Quarantined.

Never had it on my dream list but now it seems like an adventure I should add and then check off in a couple of weeks.

Over and over this past week I've heard God whisper, "Don't waste this time."

For me, much hasn't changed during the week because I've worked from home since 2008.

And I'm grateful that my job has continued, when many jobs are uncertain, on hold, or lost.

If you know me personally or have followed me for any amount of time, you know I don't waste much time.

Outside of my corporate gig, I write books, speak, life coach, read a lot of books, set and work on goals, love to organize, and find ways each day to give and make a difference.

Over the years, people have stated the following to me,

"I'm jealous you read so much. I'd love to but don't have the time."

"I'd love to clean out my closets and cabinets and donate the items I don't use or wear, but I don't have time."

"When do you find time to write? I'd love to write a book, but I don't have time."

Well friends, for many of us, time is all we have right now.

Our excuses of "I'm too busy," is gone.

This is where the rubber meets the road.

If you really want to get organized, find ways to give, write a book or read one, now's the time.

My bookshelves are overflowing with books I've read. Many I've donated to Little Free Libraries, but others I've been clinging onto in hopes of "someday" giving them away to my online community.

Well someday for me has come.

Over the next weeks and months, I'm going to give away some of my book collection on Facebook. Follow-me if you aren't so you can get in on possibly getting free books!

There are many ways we can look at this time of uncertainty, right now I'm choosing to look at it as an opportunity to do the tasks I've been wanting to do. What about you?

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life” and "The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life"


Crazy. That's how I would describe the COVID-19 pandemic. Did I ever think we'd live through a time where March Madness would be canceled? Schools would shutdown for weeks and months, and toilet paper would be a hot commodity?  

No.

But as is life, it's always changing and some days throwing us bigger curve balls than the day before. 

The pandemic is serious. 

At the end of the day, we all have a chance to be infected. Just typing those words, give me a bit of anxiety. Maybe you are reading this and you or someone you know is already dealing with the virus. I'm so sorry.

Over the past couple of days, I've tried to not let fear rule my life, consume my thoughts, or cripple me to inaction. All are very real possibilities. 

Here's six ways I'm staying positive during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Keeping up with my morning routine. It's easy to get sucked into the news or social media first thing in the morning but I'm getting my cup of coffee and reading my devotionals and books. 
  2. Practicing gratitude. Several of you have written to say The Gratitude Challenge is helping you through this difficult time. Wonderful!  You can either use The Gratitude Challenge (snag a copy here) as a tool, or just grab a notebook and each day, when you start to worry ask yourself, "What good can I find in this moment? What am I grateful for?"
  3. Getting outside. You don't have to congregate or be with people but get fresh air. Go for a walk. Yesterday, I put on a backpack, grabbed my hiking stick and hit the trails. My mind cleared and I was able to focus on the deer running through the woods, looking at animal tracks and jumping all over to avoid mud pits. My soul felt refreshed.
  4. Talking with friends and family how I'm feeling. I'm not ruminating in the state of panic and focusing too much time on the topic, but it helps to verbalize how we are feeling. We are all in this together.
  5. Giving to others. I've spent time sending text to friends, writing and mailing cards, and even sending little gifts that have been sitting on my desk for weeks.  Giving always makes me feel good and it will you too!
  6. Ask what can I control. It's easy to get spun up with all the news. I'm constantly trying to take a step back and ask what can I control? This one question helps me in all sorts of ways, not just with the virus. It's a great tool for work and life. It forces me to realize that it doesn't no good to worry about what I can’t control and to put my efforts and energy into what I can control. Here are some things you can control.

I hope this list helped. Please take care of yourself my friends. Stay hydrated. Stay home if you feel bad. Get rest. Give others the benefit of doubt and do what you can to stay positive and healthy.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life" and “The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life”


Sunday, we celebrated International Women's Day.  I spent the prior day with my mom, sister and niece shopping, eating cake and catching up.

On the two-hour drive home, I took in the day, but was reminded how grateful I am to have amazing women in my life. Women that challenge and support me and my crazy big dreams. But also realizing how lucky my niece is to be surrounded by strong women who support her in all her endeavors. 

Many young girls and women aren't so lucky and it's our duty to step in and fill the gap. Here are four ways you can give to girls and young women in your community. 

  1. If you are a momma of girls, ask your daughter if there is a gal in her class that could use support. Maybe invite this young girl to dinner, church, or help her out with clothes, school supplies or take her along on a family outing.  
  2. Girls on the Run is a fabulous nonprofit that, according to their website, "is a life-changing program for 8-to 13-year-old girls that promotes girl empowerment by teaching life skills through lessons and running." My mom has been involved with this organization for decades. I've witnessed firsthand how powerful the lessons these girls learn and the impact it makes in their life. Volunteer to be a coach, sign-up for the 5k and be a running buddy, attend a fundraiser, share info on social media or donate. 
  3. Do you live in a college town?  I do and over the years I've found various ways to support collage gals.  Invite them for dinner. Take them out for dinner. Make a connection for them. Be a reference. Give them a job. Offer advice when asked.  Invite them to come to laundry at your home. If you aren't in a college town, you can send care packages, encouraging texts and send pizza.  Trust me, anything you do for a college student, that has to do with food or laundry, they'll be grateful.

There are tens of ways we can give to the women in our lives.  Finally, we can even find ways to give to strangers. I love this story from my friend Melanie about a recent way she gave to a momma she recognized could use a little kindness and encouragement. 

Yesterday one of my kids and I were at Noodles and Company for lunch. There was a mom with three small kids, maybe 8 and under. She was trying to order while the older two were trying to help watch the youngest (maybe three), who ran around the restaurant. Other customers looked at her with a "control your kids" look in their face, all the while she did her best. 

After we finished our lunch, I went back up and bought her a cookie and a rice crispie treat. As I gave her the treats, I shared with her how she was doing a great job, that my kids are teenagers now, and I remember those days and it will get easier. 

She teared up and said her husband was deployed and it meant a lot to her to hear the encouragement because she was raising her children alone. We chatted a few more minutes and I told her little's they had to eat their chicken and veggies before they could have the cookie.

When I returned to my table, my son asked me why I bought the treats and chatted with a stranger. I explained I remember taking him and his brothers out and it not going well. Most people were not kind about it, but occasionally, there would be someone who did a small act of kindness that made the craziness ok. I could now pass the kindness onto others. 

We ran errands and went to his swim meet. I saw him hold doors open more, say thank you to salesclerks and cheer on other kids at his swim meet."

Friends, there are opportunities all around us to help women and girls we know, and the ones we don't. 

Happy Giving,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life” and "The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life"

Reclined in a comfy lounge chair, sunk in the sand, waves crashed on the shore and the words from Rhythms of Rest by Shelly Miller, sucker gut punched me, "I don't do guilt."  

That's a mantra of Shelly's mother-in-law, that she's adopted, and I'm working to change my mindset and also stop the guilt.

I'm grateful I read these words early in my vacation, so I could put into practice my new mantra, "I don't do guilt."

Being aware of our bad habits or thoughts often goes unnoticed because that's the way we've lived for so long. 

I've spent the last week relaxing on the beach and by the pool and worked to be conscious of my thoughts and feelings, especially when it comes to guilt.

Do you struggle with guilt?

Let me dig in a little and give you a couple examples:

Eating: I know I'm not alone in a constant battle of thinking about what I eat and then feeling guilty about what I put in my mouth.  Leading up to vacation, I was on a healthy streak, lost weight and felt great. 

But then vacation. 

I decided on vacation, that I wasn't going to feel guilty about what I ate. I indulged in chocolate cake, chocolate dipped strawberries daily, and scoops of gelato.  I snacked on French fries and nachos, and sipped on sweet, non-alcoholic dirty monkeys (try one) and strawberry daiquiris. And guess what, when I got home and stepped on the scale, I'm only up a couple of pounds. And with going back to focusing on healthy eating, I'll drop those pounds over the next week or two.

Can you relate?

I think there is a healthy balance to work towards to eating to nourish our bodies, and yet being okay when on a vacation, celebrating an event or taking a break on weekends.

Rest: I've focused on rest for the past couple of years and if you struggle with rest, I'm here to tell you change can happen. But you'll need to move through the guilt of taking time for yourself, putting your to do list on hold and saying no.  

While on vacation, I found guilt creeping up for literally doing nothing but sitting in a cabana and reading and dozing off. I'm not talking an hour, but days of doing nothing. And guess what? It felt great!  But also, what I've learned over time is that rest, reading and doing nothing helps my creativity to flow. 

As I sat focused on nothing, words flowed from heaven and I couldn't move my pen fast enough to write the ideas, that turned into chapters, and hopefully another book. 

When we give our minds time to rest, opportunities we may have not seen in the past, creep to the surface.  Rest is good.

Do you struggle with giving yourself time for disconnecting and resting?

If so, look at your calendar, and schedule time to sit back, relax, take a nap and rest.

The past week, even though I felt I did nothing, besides read books, write, nap and eat, working on my mindset with guilt was a huge win. Day after day, and now that I'm home, when guilt surfaces, I whisper, "I don't do guilt."  

The change in mindset and the simple tool of acknowledging when I feel guilty and whispering those words has been freeing.

Are you willing to join me in not doing guilt anymore?

With gratitude,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of "The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life" and “The Gratitude Challenge: 41 Days to a Happier, Healthier, & More Content Life”