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April 2020

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Fear is a liar.  I have a shirt displaying these words and some days I believe the quote and others, well, I'd rather curl up in a ball and hide under the covers. 

On March 2, 2019, I walked through a door, onto a stage with a spotlight focused on yours truly.  It's the most terrifying stage I'd been on in all my life.  

I'm a professional speaker and the weeks leading up to this event, TEDxCalvin, I'd spoken to hundreds of people from a women's retreat, a church service, and a women's giving circle but there was one big difference.

With the three events, I mentioned I had notes. I don't read from them, but they are a guide to keep me on track, and within the timeframe, I'd been given.  

TEDxCalvin, there were no notes, no PowerPoint, just my memory. 

I'd spent months and months rehearsing. Sometimes I recited the talk perfectly, and other times I blanked. I mean to the point I couldn't remember anything. No words flowed from my mouth.  

Blanking was my biggest fear.  

What would I do if I started my talk and all of a sudden, poof, my talk was gone.  I'd make an incredible fool of myself in front of hundreds of people.  Strangers. 

Do you want to know what happened? I confidently walked out onto that stage and gave a flawless performance.  I'd done something that I almost let fear kill.  Speaking on the TEDx stage was a big dream of mine.  It's a hurdle I needed to jump to grow as a speaker and expand my audience.  

Why do I share all of this?  Because I know there is something you want to do. Right now with the pandemic fear is floating around everywhere. Some for good reason, and other for not.

What's your TEDx? What's the thing you've been putting off that's going to take your personal or professional life to the next level?  

Author and pastor Chris Hodges writes, "Courage is the condition of your heart that allows you to believe you'll succeed without knowing how you'll succeed."

When I applied for a TEDx talk, I didn't know how I was going to succeed.  I honestly didn't think about the stage.  I just had the courage to apply.  

Applying wasn't scary.  Well, okay, maybe a little.  But if I didn't apply, I'd never be able to speak on the stage.  

I'm guessing that's how your BIG dream is.  The end result is scary; that's why you haven't taken steps to pursue it.  But usually, the first step and sometimes the subsequent steps aren't that bad.  

The worst part of TEDx was the final step, but I knew I'd put in the hard work. I'd left nothing to chance. I put in hours of hours of rehearsals.  I had lots of people praying for me. I truly prayed and believed that God had given me the opportunity, that he'd laid a path for me and all I had to do was walk through the door.  Have a little faith and trust that everything was going to be okay.  

And you know what, if I would have completely bombed on the stage, I'd at least gone down having the courage to succeed instead of wondering if I had what it took to grace the stage, constantly living in regret, wondering if my speaking career was staying steady because I hadn't been a daring woman to take a leap of courage.  

My friend, you only have one life to live. Will you live in fear or courage? The choice is yours. Choose wisely. 

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"

I gotta admit friends, this past week was rough.  My day job is overwhelming. I feel myself slipping back into my workaholic tendencies, people pleasing, and spinning out of control thoughts causing anxiety.  On Friday I went to bed at 5:30. Yes 5:30, because I was exhausted.

Earlier in the week, Carole Baker interviewed me, and we chatted about Sacred Reinvention. You can check out the interview here. As I prepared for the interview, I jotted down ways to shift my mindset through these difficult times.

Here are four tactics I came up with. They've helped me navigate these difficult times, and I thought they could help you also. 

1. I have a choice as to what I media I take in, watch and read.  When I'm tired, I want to scroll through social media, or zone out to the news.  I've worked hard this week to avoid doing both, as much as possible. Instead, I'm reading. When I want to turn on the television, I pick up a book instead. When I want to mindlessly scroll, I close my Facebook app, and switch over to my kindle app. I'm choosing to pour positivity, instead of chaos and craziness, into my mind.  

2. I've mentioned it before, but it's worth repeating, as I'm having to repeat the tactic to myself multiple times a day.  Ask yourself what you can control. I've found what makes me anxious and overwhelmed at work are tasks and requests that I can't control the answer and/or information. It's just not available.  This goes for thoughts that may have us spinning out of control. Stop yourself and ask, what I'm thinking about, can I control it? If not, move on and make a list of what you can control. 

3. I found myself this week commiserating with a coworker about my job. It's ironic and sad, that at a time when so many are out of work, I'm working more hours than I can handle. I had to choose gratitude. I had to choose to focus on what I do have, instead of what I don't.  I have a job and I'm grateful for the steady paycheck. Right now, I don't have the hours to be focusing on myself and my passion business. But I know it's not forever. It's easy to get wrapped up in what we don't have. 

4. It could always be worse. As I start to complain, I gotta stop myself. There really is no reason for me to complain about anything in life. I have a roof over my head, food in my pantry, heat when it's cold, a closet full of clothes, running water, and the list of what I have is endless. I have my health, and family and friends that do also. This week I found out that a sweet little boy, I wrote about months ago, passed away. I'm reminded of the conditions my friends in Africa live in. It could always be worse. When you start to complain, just utter those words. They'll stop you in your tracks.

Friends, each day as we roll out of bed, we have a lot we can control, and the hardest, at times is what we think about and take in. Hopefully my tactics listed above are helpful.

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”

This past week I was chatting with my friend, Rashawn Copeland, and he asked me how I'm still giving while being stuck at home. 

We discussed the obvious gifts such as texting friends, checking in on each other, and mailing cards. After we got off the phone, I dug a little deeper into the gifts I had been giving. This weekend I also added new kindness acts that were on my "to do" list.

1. During these times I'm a bit sad to not live in a neighborhood.  I love my home, that is nestled in the woods, but people aren't just walking by to see decorations. I decided to do a gratitude chalk the walk.  Because you know who is coming to my home? ShipIt Shoppers, Door Dashers, the mailperson, and delivery drivers from USP, FedX, and Amazon. And oh! My neighbor Joe. He always seems to drop off a random food item. Grab some chalk and make a gratitude chalk the walk on your porch, steps, sidewalk or driveway. 

2. Have you heard of the Heart Hunters? I've also seen another group called Hearts of Hope. Either way, I love the meaning. I've yet to cut out hearts and put them in the window, but I did add colorful hearts to my Chalk the Walk.  Grab some construction paper, or white paper and markers, and post hearts around your home for all to see. Check out this facebook group. There are hundreds of cool ideas!

3. What talent can be used during these times? Many of the women from my hometown are sewing masks for hospital employees. But maybe you are like me and can't sew. This weekend, my husband, as a gift, used his talents to make me, as he called it, a "bird condo." What talents do you have that you can share with others?

4. Laughter is good medicine.  I can't remember if I mentioned this in previous blogs, but it's worth repeating, because it's getting me through this craziness. See a funny meme, share it.  I have a group chat with coworkers, family, and friends. And guess what we do every day? We share funny memes. Last night my coworker shared one with me. I died laughing and I payed it forward. I shared the meme with my family and my mom loved it! She said she couldn't stop laughing.  Friends, get the laughing started and keep it going!

5. Share books.  I have a closet full of books and I'm giving them away. It's fun to make a little note and send the book on its way.  Want a chance to win a book? Make sure you are following me on Facebook or have joined the Gratitude Challenge group. That's where I post my giveaways!

I'm sure over the next couple of weeks I'll continue to find fun ways to give. What ways are you giving?

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"