Here in northern Indiana, inches, and inches of snow fell from the sky and blanketed the ground. My husband hopped on the 4-wheeler with a plow and began moving the snow around to clear off our driveway.
I grabbed a shovel and worked on the sidewalks. My job took less time, but my hubby seemed to be having way more fun as he sped up and down the driveway with a big smile on his face.
After I finished shoveling the sidewalks, I slipped my boots into my snowshoes, grabbed my hiking poles, and hit the trails. Some areas had been untouched by nature, and other spots looked like a racetrack where deer, squirrels, and rabbits sped along the cleared paths.
As I worked my way through the woods that lined our driveway, I noticed my husband standing in the middle with a garden shovel, not a snow shovel. What in the world was he doing?
I glided off the trail and clickity clacked up the driveway. The closer I got to my husband, a big heart revealed itself in the driveway.
Oh, I loved it!
What a thoughtful gift. I wrapped my husband in a big bear hug, thanking him for such a sweet gesture.
When we got into the house, I looked out the living room window and commented how I loved looking out the window seeing the heart.
He responded, "I made it so you could look out your office window and see it while you are working."
Wow! He had put some thought into the heart. My office is on the second story and overlooks a portion of the driveway.
As we head into the month of love, find simple ways to say I love you.
Maybe it is a heart in the driveway, cooking someone's family meal, drawing hearts on your sidewalk, sending out Valentine's day cards, or better yet, carrying a few around to hand out to strangers. No matter what gifts you give this month, put a little heart and soul into them.
This weekend I celebrated the 4th birthday of the launch ofThe Giving Challenge. Honestly, I still pinch myself that I have a book I wrote, people read, and like. Life is surreal some days.
As I thought back on the journey, there are five lessons, probably more, that bubbled to the surface that may help you as you are pursuing a goal or thinking about making a pivot in your life/career.
Think long-term. The Giving Challenge took me about five years to write and launch. Success doesn't happen overnight. Don't get frustrated if you aren't moving as quickly as you would like. Keep plugging along, and over time you'll pick up wins and momentum.
Only get advice from people who have been there, done that. This lesson seems like common sense advice, but we often let people who have never done what we are trying to influence our decisions. When it comes to my books, I have a small team of experts who provide advice and guidance in their expertise. Take, for instance, hiring a coach. I'll only coach people on activities I've done myself. You wouldn't hire me to teach you how to fly a plane, but I could help you write and launch a book.
Put perfectionism in a drawer. Are you a perfectionist? If so, your perfectionist tendencies may prevent you from accomplishing a project or goal you are pursuing. I got stuck in the perfectionist wheel for quite some time. That is why my book took forever to complete. I kept swapping out stories and editing and reediting. At some point, what your working on has to be good enough, and you have to get the darn thing competed. I still cringe when I find a mistake in my book, but then I remember that even James Patterson made mistakes in his books. I know because I've caught them, and they make me feel just a little bit better. No one is perfect!
Not everyone is going to support your big dream. It's hard when friends or family members don't show any interest in a project you are working on. It's easy to spiral into negative thoughts of why someone isn't supporting you. Focus on the people that do help you. Please give them your gratitude and appreciation. Turn the tables. I know there have been numerous projects, due to schedule, conflicts, etc., that I couldn't help someone on. It wasn't anything personal; I couldn't commit. Remember, usually, their lack of support has nothing to do with you or your project.
It's okay to go back and make improvements. On the first version of The Giving Challenge, I must admit that I had no idea what I was doing. I had some connections in the industry, but they were few and far between. Also, I wasn't the best writer. But over the years, I attended writing conferences, developed relationships with experts, and even received an endorsement from Dave Ramsey. Instead of being satisfied with my first book in the original form, I went back and made improvements. The stories have more depth. The writing improved. Resources were created. And the cover got a facelift. Total redos aren't always necessary, but if you feel like you need to make improvements to get you to the next level, by all means, go for it!
I hope the lessons I learned, from writing and launching The Giving Challenge, help you as you set out to conquer a goal or two this year!
Hello from the Bolt Farm Treehouse in South Carolina. I've been here over a week and I have lots of lessons to share, but those stories are for another day, as I'm still living and processing the experience.
Yesterday on Facebook, my husband posed the question, "What's your dream job?". Immediately friends engaged in conversation.
Some joked with their responses, such as, lottery winner. Many were serious, with over a hundred people commenting on their "dream job."
As I scrolled through the list, I realized that only a few mentioned they were doing what they wanted to do.
Why is that?
It's a question I'd love to know the answer to. Some of their dream jobs seemed very realistic. They were not impossible. Others, okay, may have been a stretch, but you never know until you take the steps to turn a dream into an actional goal.
For me, it's to be a full-time author. I'm working on that dream. Everyday, I take actions that put me one step closer to accomplishing that goal. With that said, that dream has evolved over time, and it's taken me years to get to where I am today, and maybe years to get there. But the way I look at, the days will continue to go by. I should be doing something I love. Something I feel God has called me to do.
So, what's your dream job? Are you doing it? If so, AMAZING!!! If not, why not? Is there one step that you could take that could get you closer to that job? If so, what are you waiting for?
I'm grateful for the opportunity to vote early, as I'm heading out on an adventure on the 3rd. With an hour to wait, I took the opportunity to get to know the lady in front of me. I gotta be honest, she struck up a conversation with me. I welcomed the distraction, as I was not dressed to stand outside in the cold. We didn't talk politics, even though we were there to vote. I have no idea if she was a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or writing in a vote for Kanye West. We found common ground in chatting why were voting early. That discussion led to me sharing about my life as an author and a speaker. We moved onto chatting about travel, where we discovered we both want to visit Italy. We ended on the topic of running. In her late 60s she's still an avid runner. And even though she doesn't feel safe to hit the roads at 4:30am, she still hops on her treadmill. In the hour we stood out in the cold, my shivers subsided, and my heart warmed with a new friendship, even just for the hour. If we shut off the news and stop scrolling through social media, we'll discover we have way more in common than we think. Who will you meet at the polls?
Well friends, I'm doing something that scares the crap out of me! I'm launching a podcast. Giving Your Best Life. Where I'll focus on three of my favorite activities, Goals, Gratitude and yes you guessed it, Giving.
I'll still continue to blog and send out my newsletter, but I've discovered, that many of you love to listen to podcasts. You can listen to them while you work, workout, or just need a little positivity boost.
If you have ideas you want me discuss or questions you want me to answer, send them along to stephanie@GivingGal.com. This podcast is about giving to you and assisting you in giving your best life!
Thank you for your continued support over the years. We can't grow and expand without you.
When I heard of the tragic death of retired Captain/Chief David Dorn, I knew I had to take action to ensure his murder didn't get lost in all that is going on in our country.
David Dorn retired from the St. Louis Police Department at the rank of Captain, after serving, and incredible 38 years on the department. But he didn't stay retired for long and took the helm as Chief of Police for Moline Acres Police Department.
For over four decades, he selflessly served his community. As I read through various news articles, his friends, coworkers and family members described him as having a personality larger than life, put people on the right path, kind of leader young officers looked up to, and a family man that love his wife, children and grandchildren.
At the age of 77, he still had a heart for protecting his community. On June 2nd, as looters ravaged his friend's pawn shop, he responded to check on the shop, when cowards shot him.
Oh, what has become of the darken hearts of so many, they are willing to take another's life, for meaningless material possessions.
In gratitude of his service to his community, noting that he often spent time volunteering with disadvantage youth, I'm asking you to join me in a Giving Challenge to honor the life of Retired Capt./Chief David Dorn.
Do an act of kindness for someone you know, a stranger, or even a police officer. Share why you are giving. And challenge them to keep spreading the love, one gift at a time.
We don't change the world by hate, rioting and divisiveness, we change the world by one gift of kindness and love, to another human, at a time.
Share your gift with me or on social media and let the family of Retired Captain/Chief Dorn know he is not forgotten. #GivingChallengeforDorn
My first book took me five years to write and publish. Those five years were some of the most frustrating years of my life.
God called me to do something that, quite frankly, I didn't want to do. I didn't know how to do. I didn't feel worthy, as writing and grammar had been a weakness. Writing was uncomfortable and a constant battle.
I cried. Quit. And threw little tantrums like a kid who was just told, "no you can't have a candy bar," at the grocery store.
Yet through my unfaithfulness and trust that God knew what He was doing and where he was leading me, He never wavered. He always remained faithful.
Over the past year and a half, I've been on a journey to get back to studying the Bible. I've spent almost every morning in devotionals and the Bible. I switched out my morning music from pop and country to praise and worship. I became faithful in just showing up and listening to where God was calling me next.
In December I had a whirlwind of travel from Nashville, to Las Vegas, two trips to my hometown and The Big Apple with my bff. It was a trip of a lifetime, experiencing New York City at Christmas time.
My Vegas trip was an adventure to work on my goals. I had started the process before I arrived and over the course of two days at Oolapalooza, I heard God tell me not to focus on speaking in 2020. Instead, use your time to write three books. Not publish, just write three books. At the end of the event we were encouraged to go on stage and share one big goal. Nervously I stepped up to the microphone and exclaimed, "My big goal is to write three books, because I feel God calling me to do so."
For many onlookers the goal seemed crazy, but not to me. After I shared the goal, I was confident that if I stay disciplined (my word of the year), I could write three books in one year.
In 2018, if you came to me and told me give up speaking for a year, I would have told you you've lost your ever-loving mind. I've worked years to get where I am in my speaking career. And that there was no way I'd write three books in one year– I was struggling to get out my second in seven years.
And guess what? 2019 was my most successful speaking year, in revenue, number of events, types of events, etc. and yet, God asked me to walk away from the success and to write.
I had two speaking commitments booked for early 2020, one in February and one in March. And do you know what happened three days after my last speaking engagement? My husband and I were put on a doctor ordered quarantine. The weeks following our country would shut down and events across the country would be canceled. And do you know how much time and effort I put into securing speaking gigs...? Zero.
Because being in the word for a year had me attuned to listening and hearing God's whisper. So here I am on May 19th and I haven't been writing just one, two, or three books, but five. Each day since, December 28, 2019, I have sat down with a pen and paper and God has poured ideas and stories into my mind. Stories I'd forgotten have surfaced just at the right time.
We are almost halfway through the years and I'm not frustrated that I have no speaking engagements on the books. I'm grateful that when God whispered, I listened and followed the path, even when it's unknown to me, He's leading. Why? Because I have faith and trust that his plan is better than mine. It's taken me awhile to get here, but the journey has been worth the wait.
If you have made it to the end, I thank you for reading what's been on my heart these past couple of months. Thank you for your commitment to supporting me on this journey. If you are struggling with where you are in life, I encourage you to get in the word of God. Read what he has to say and listen to where he's calling you. If I can be of any help, don't hesitate to reach out.
If we are unfaithful, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny who He is. – 2 Timothy 2:13