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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"

This past week has been crazy. On Tuesday I launched my second book, The Gratitude Challenge, and unexpectedly on Thursday my husband worked a 20-hour shift. Yes, you read that correctly, twenty hours!

On Friday, family came into town and on Saturday we hosted a belated Christmas gathering. Needless to say, our one on one time over the past week didn't happen.

Sunday, as I sat writing book number three, boom! The house rattled, startled I jumped, what the heck was that?

I continued writing and moved to checking off tasks on my to do list. 

Boom! Again, the house rattled and this time I yelled to my husband, "What is that sound?"

He chuckled, and responded his friends were shooting exploding targets. 

"Oh! Why aren't you over there with them?" I replied.

"Because you asked me to stay home with you for the Super Bowl."

A twinge of guilt permeated my body. 

I'm sure he'd rather be with his friends on Super Bowl Sunday than sitting at home with me. I even told him a couple of times to go and don't worry about me.

To be honest, I was fine to be home by myself and tick through the 200 things on my to do list that I needed to get done before tomorrow. 

But then I thought back to what I often preach from the stage and even in my writings. 

I'm often asking my coaching clients, "Are your actions aligning to your priorities?"

If the answer is no, sometimes we must make sacrifices to get in realignment.

And so even if my husband would rather be watching the super bowl with friends, though he never indicated this, just sounds more fun to me than hanging with your wife...lol, and I could use the time to work through my to do list, at the end of the day we are each other's priority.

Sunday wasn't about watching the Super Bowl. It was about him cooking me dinner. Us sitting together, while the Super Bowl was on, and chatting about the past week.  Discussing what we had going on in the coming week. Our time together was about reconnecting and getting synced up from a crazy week. 

I believe, on reason, a relationship fails, is due to continuing to kick the can down the road. We go weeks or even months without focused time together. And this doesn't just have to be in marriage. I see it in companies where managers don't connect with their employees, where parents don't make time for their children, and when friends no longer get together because life is "busy."  

Yesterday taught me, as life has repeatedly, I'll never regret the time I spend with my husband, my family or my friends. My "to do" list, can always wait.

Who do you need to make a priority this week? Take out the calendar, cancel a meeting, and schedule time with someone that is your priority.

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"


It's Christmas Eve and I'm shutting down for the remainder of the year. I hope you are also.

I recently attended Oolapalooza, in Las Vegas. In short, it was a goal setting experience for 2020. The event was challenging, fun and stretched me outside of my comfort zone on numerous occasions. 

In 2020, I'll be brining you a new program to help you with your goals, work through challenges and accelerate creating and living the life you want to live. 

One of the most meaningful exercises I participated in was the "Year in Review."  

Grab a warm drink, find a quiet place and take a moment between now and December 31st to reflect on 2019 and answer these questions. Feel free to share with me any revelations you had during this process.

  1. The three best things that happened to me in 2019.
  2. My three fondest memories in 2019.
  3. The three "not so hot" memories of 2019.  (I want you to write them down, and if you are struggling with something that happened in 2019, make a goal to move forward in 2020. 2019 is in the past. Focus on the present and your future!)
  4. Three goals I accomplished in 2019.
  5. Three goals I missed in 2019. (Maybe jot down why you missed these goals.)
  6. The greatest lessons I learned from my "not so hot" and missed goals.
  7. The three most influential people in my life in 2019 (note if they are good influences or bad).
  8. What one thing would you do differently in 2019?
  9. What word best describes your year in review?

I hope you found this exercise helpful. I look forward to serving you in 2020. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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"

As we countdown to Christmas, I would love for the Giving Gal community to sprinkle kindness everyday between now and Christmas. Here are a few ideas, but feel free to share in the Giving Challenge FB group, ways you are giving!

December 18th– Send a Christmas card to someone that's not on your list. Better yet, give a card to a stranger.

December 19th– Leave a treat for your mail carrier. I'm filling bags with chocolate, a hot chocolate packet and a note.

December 20th– Give a donation, any amount will do, to your favorite nonprofit organization.

December 21st– Have a family baking day and give sweet treats to your neighbors. Bonus points for giving to a neighbor you don't know.

December 22nd– On this day in 2003, my friend, Trooper Scott Patrick was shot and killed in the line of duty. In memory of Trooper Patrick, buy a meal or a warm drink and say thank you to a police officer.

December 23rd– As you ramp up for the final days of the Christmas holiday, find a way to give to yourself. 

December 24th– Call a relative or friend who can't be home for Christmas.

December 25th– Spend quality time with friends and family.

I would love to hear your stories and better yet, spread your Christmas joy in giving on social media and challenge your friends to get involved. Use #GivingChallenge.

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”

I don't know about you but my December is crazy. I just got back from a speaking engagement in Nashville, TN and flew directly to Las Vegas for a goal setting conference. I'm home for a couple of days and then head to southern Indiana for a baking event, then New York City, and back to southern Indiana. Whew! I'm tired. Can you relate?

Yesterday on the plane ride home, I whipped out my laptop and scheduled my workout times. This morning I called and scheduled a massage. I'm scared if I didn't put myself on the calendar, I wouldn't think to give to me also.

Your "give to yourself" challenge is to get out your calendar and schedule "me time." And then more importantly than scheduling, is to be disciplined and don't schedule over your appointment and give it to someone else. Make you a priority!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”


Years ago, my husband told me his dream was to see a game at the Big House, where Michigan plays football.

I remember the day I surprised him with the tickets. I think I was more excited than he was…hello I love giving gifts!

I'd never really had an interest in college football, but since it was something he loved, I thought I would try to watch and go to a game.

And guess what?

I L❤️VE going to the games! 

Over the years, we've seen numerous games at the Big House, including a night game and watching a game from the sidelines. An experience we never thought was possible.

Do you know what's on your spouse's dream list? If not, ask. 

If you do, what steps can you take to make their dream a reality?

I keep my husband's list on my phone and am always trying to help him accomplish his dreams. 

Go Blue!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of “The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”