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Dreaming Big

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Since June, my mom has battled severe pneumonia. It got so bad she spent eight days in the hospital and has been off work for three months. 

My mom is a runner. She was training for a half marathon (13.1 miles) when pneumonia knocked her for a loop. When I visited her in late July, she struggled to walk up and down the driveway. But she made a comment that encouraged me.

She said, "Even though I could walk in any shoes, I'm putting on my running shoes. I have two goals, one to get back to work and two to get back to running."

Wow! 

Such a small action, but each day, as she walked, she was choosing to focus on a goal she'd set for herself. She was mentally telling herself every day; I will run, and to run, I must lace up my shoes and start walking.

Yesterday, I told her I was going for a run. She said, "I'll come with you. I ran four minutes last week. Two minutes and a break and then two more minutes. My goal tonight is ten minutes."

As we go through tough times, we might need to start small, and that is okay. Two minutes of running doesn't seem like much, but when you were in a hospital bed or could barely walk up the driveway, two minutes of running is significant progress.

We laced up our shoes and hit the trails. I couldn't believe the pace she kept. She was step by step with me and chatting up a storm. It's hard enough to chat when you are in shape, let alone recovering from pneumonia. 

"Mom, we are at six minutes; how are you feeling?" I asked.

"Great!" she replied.

"Mom, we are at ten minutes. Awesome job!" I exclaimed.

"I'm going to keep going to twelve." She stated.

"Mom, we are almost at thirteen minutes. Do you think you can go fifteen?" I asked.

"I can if you keep talking." She replied.

"You got it!" And I proceeded to chat away for two more minutes. 

I can't tell you what a huge accomplishment running fifteen minutes was for my mom. As we ate dinner, she already set her eyes on trying to run half of the half marathon and walk the other half. It's in November. 

I didn't want to burst her bubble, but I said, "Let's see where you are at the end of October."

My mom is under close doctor's care, and it was running that probably saved her life. She was in excellent physical condition before pneumonia. And her recent appointment with her pulmonologist, he encouraged her to get back to running.

So, next time you are going through a tough time, think of my mom, set a small goal, and do something every day, even if it's as simple as lacing up your shoes, to help you focus on the good that is on the other side of your current trial.

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"

We learn by trying new things. Life gets stagnant, staying in our lane on cruise control.

Stepping outside our comfort zone is, well...uncomfortable, which is why many prefer to live a life where today reflects yesterday, and yesterday reflects the day before.

But what happens when something piques our interest?

When an idea pops into our mind, and we get excited?

Curiosity unfolds.

The mind strengthens with new connections as learning is good for the brain.

I recently came across this picture, and it reminded me of a time in my life where I planted a garden.

I had no clue what I was doing. 

But I loved reading books about gardening, scouring websites of what's best to grow for homemade salsa, and finding natural ways to keep bunnies and deer from eating my fruits and vegetables.

The garden was a labor of love. 

But at the end of the season, the garden gifted me sunflowers, glass gem corn, and enough veggies to make salsa and feed a small community.

If life seems to be playing the same record on repeat, get hopping to learn a new skill or find a new hobby. 

You never know what can happen if you try.

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”

The post from @rubiofuerte (and I have no idea why I'm following or how I came across him, but I digress) stated:
Nobody cares:

  • What you almost did.
  • What you want to do.
  • What you say you'll do.
  • What you didn't do.
  • What you could have done.
  • What you did a long time ago. 

Just take action!

Yikes! I'd consider myself an action taker and a doer, but this post reminded me to pay attention to my words. Am I holding myself accountable for the things I've committed to doing? Are there activities I'm talking and talking about but never seem to be making progress on? If so, I need to stop talking about that activity or take steps to move me forward. 

The list above is a great reminder to make sure we live life and not just talk about living or living way, way in the past. 

Over the next week, take inventory of the experiences you are chatting about and bounce them against the list above. If you almost did something, want to accomplish a goal, etc., ask yourself why aren't you making progress?

A few weeks back I discussed when it's okay to delay a goal. You may have a legit reason. But if the reason is more of an excuse or downright fear, jot down one action you can take this week that will move you out of the talking phase of your goal to walking that goal forward to accomplishment.

I talk a lot about running and physical challenges, but I haven't done a challenge since February 2020. My spider bite/infection delayed my progress, so I'm committing to you by next week; I'll be signed up for a half-marathon. Let the training begin!

Kick butt this week,
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”

How do you make big decisions? I don't know about you, but I look at my current goals and priorities, make a pros and cons list, and finally, I consult my board of directors. 

My board of directors is a group of individuals I go to for their opinion, advice, input, and expertise related to helping me make decisions. 

Back in May, I shared with you an influencer who reached out about helping him write his book. I reached out to my BOD and everyone, but one person said, "Yes! Go for it!"

I have to decide, but they usually bring up questions I hadn't considered and provide a different perspective. 

Do you have a board of directors? If so, fantastic! If not, make a list of people with whom you value their opinion and insight, reach out to them, and ask if they'd be on your BOD. If they say yes, next time a big decision comes your way, reach out to your BOD for input and support!

Having this group of individuals makes my decision-making more thoughtful, and I look at decisions from more angles than in the past.

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"

For the past several months, a friend and I have met to check-in and hold each other accountable for a collaborative book project. 

Last month we got so excited about the project we set a goal to launch the book by the New Year.

Over the past month, as I worked on two other new books (which you can pre-order now!), Thank You Notes to God, a prayer & gratitude journal, and Giving Gal, my first children's book, I knew our deadline was too aggressive.

Both books have hit hiccups with design and printing. If these same issues arose with this new project, I have not allowed any wiggle room in our plan, hence setting us up for failure.  

Yesterday I met with my friend, and he brought up the timeline. Whew! What a relief! We both had the same doubts. I'm grateful we were honest with ourselves and each other.

As we chatted through the project, we realized we wouldn't deliver the best product for the reader if we stuck with our quick timeline. Adding several extra months gives us more time to tighten the writing, add resources, and ensure the book is excellent, not just good.

I'm not one to often recommend delaying a goal, but there are times when it is okay. 

  1. The original target deadline was unrealistic.
  2. Progress is being made. The delay isn't because you haven't put in the work.
  3. The delay makes the project, trip, product, etc., better. 
  4. A goal/project with a more pressing deadline pops up. Sometimes we have to be willing to adjust and be flexible.
  5. Life happens, and you are not physically capable (safely) of completing your goal. For example, getting bit by a spider and then getting an infection delayed all my physical goals for 2021. They pushed to 2022. 

There is no time like the present to evaluate your goals for the year. Do any need adjusting? If so, don't get down about the change; remind yourself you are setting yourself up for success. 

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”

Bring on the heat, humidity, and the long sunshiny days of summer!

At the beginning of each season, I like to look ahead to the next three months and ask what can I only do during summer? What fun activities do I want to do over the next three months? We need to ensure balance the busyness of everyday life with activities that fill up our cup and give us energy. 

These questions ensure we are not just going through the motions. They can help us take advantage of our time, stay focused, and maybe embark on a few new adventures. 

I challenge you to look at the next three months (July-August-September) and ask yourself:

  1. What do I want to do?
  2. What do I want to see and experience?
  3. Where do I want to go?
  4. Who do I want to spend time with and soak in the long days of summer?

For me, I want to tool around Lake Geneva with my hubby, go on an adventure in Georgia with new friends, take a solo trip for my birthday, continue weekly runs at the park and popping in on the farmer's market, and enjoy a day or two at the Dunes, sitting at the beach relaxing.

What is on your list?

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 always have a book with me. If I'm waiting in the doctor's office or at the salon getting my hair colored, I have a book in hand or on my kindle, flipping as many pages as I can.

I can almost guarantee the conversation I'm going to have with those I encounter. "I'd love to read more, but I don't have time."

Here's the thought that flows through my mind, but usually not out of my mouth. They have time; they just aren't taking the time to read. Therefore, reading is not a priority in their life. 

Sixteen days ago, I decided to embark on a physical challenge that would require me to work out for 90 minutes every day for 75 days. 

Since my spider bite, I tried desperately to get back into shape, but I often didn't feel well enough to work out. As a result, 30-45 minutes had been my max.

I'm slowly coming out of that fog and regaining my strength. What better way to get back on track than to follow a program. This program isn't just focused on working out; it made me double my water intake and eat healthy with no cheat meals or sugar for the same 75 days.

The food and water I could handle. But how in the world would I find 60-90 minutes every day?

My schedule is filled with a non-negotiable morning routine, a demanding day job, and five book projects. And there are those pesky chores, eating meals, and continuing to make spending quality time with my hubby a priority.

But guess what? A small miracle has occurred. For 16 days, I have created more time in each day. 

Before I go to bed or after I wake up in the morning, I write down my schedule, find any gaps of time, and insert my workout(s), totaling 90 minutes. I've been amazed how with a little planning and focus, I've been able to create an extra 90 minutes.  

We all have the same 24-hours in a day, but what I realized is, I must have been wasting at least 90 minutes of those.

So ask yourself, what have I wanted to do or what goal have I been putting off due to time?

Ask yourself how much time you need to find each day or week to progress on this goal. 

Pick a timeframe, like 75 days, and commit to yourself, no excuses, to make your goal a priority. 

If you stick with it, you'll be amazed at the progress you'll see. 

I'd love to hear what you are committing to working on.

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”

When he gets up at 3 am to walk me to the bus for a race, my husband's face is a not-so-happy look.

This is also the face he makes when I forget his birthday.

Yes! The Giving Gal forgot her husband's birthday.

It hit me at noon, the day of his birthday, and I couldn't believe I forgot.

Poor guy left for work and got the usual hugs, kisses, love you, and be safe.

I share this because sometimes I fail. And I fail big time. 

This is from the gal that has given a gift almost every day for ten years. Yes, a decade, and I forgot my husband's birthday!

He could ask for a boat right now, and I'd probably say yes...lol! 

I wrote a blog last year about giving up guilt. Well, friends, she's come back with a vengeance.

I write this half to be funny and a half to say; no one is perfect. That even in areas of life where we are our best, we will still stumble and fall. 

That okay. 

That is life. 

Get up. Wipe the tears. Say I'm sorry if it's necessary, and move forward.

I shared this blunder on social media, and I'm amazed at the messages and responses I've received. What we see on social media is just a glimpse into someone's world, and often, life appears grand and perfect. But, unfortunately, that is usually not the case. 

We need to do a better job of sharing our failures, messes, and the not-so-perfect times in our lives with our friends and family. Social media has done wonders, negatively, for many and their mental health. People compare their life to the lives they see of their friends. When in reality, their friends are struggling just the same or maybe even more. It's just hidden behind the lens of a snapshot in time, then posted on social media.

Next time you want to compare your life to something you see on social media, stop and remember, the Giving Gal forgot her husband's birthday, and the life we see isn't always what is going on.

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 gave a presentation, and honestly, when I finished, I didn't know how I performed. But, I had a lot of doubt. 

Within moments of finishing, someone from the audience texted me, "That went really well! Nice job!"

What?

I was grateful for the immediate feedback. 

Later, when I chatted with my bff, she said, "You are always so much harder on yourself. You always doubt how well you do when you always do great!"

She was right. 

Why do we doubt?

Sometimes we lack confidence in the work we are doing, but other times I think it has to do with perfectionist tendencies. I know for me, when I'm walking into new territory, I think of all the things that someone may or may not like. So I focus on constructive criticism vs. all the positive feedback. 

Next time you make a big presentation, give a sales pitch, interview for a new job, or pursue a new goal, dig a hole and dump doubt in it. 

And a gift we can give others is to ensure we provide positive feedback and any constructive criticism. So let's always strive to lift people up instead of tearing them down.

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 morning as I brushed my teeth, the phrase, "When God moves, do you?" popped into my head.

Excellent question!

Last week an influencer contacted me about working on a collaborative project. Yikes! I've never done what they want me to do. Out of fear, the unknown, lack of ability, it would have been easy for me to say, "Thanks for thinking I could tackle this project, but no thanks."

But in our conversation, I felt God moving. So I tentatively committed but then spent the weekend in prayer, consulting with trusted advisors, and researching. 

As I read through a book on the topic, fear turned to excitement. And then the writer said, "It's a gift."

Tears welled up in my eyes; God gave me the answer I needed to move forward through that one-word gift. 

Gift is my word. I love it. It's a word I live by every day. I'm a daily gift giver!

Don't get me wrong; I still have doubts. And to date, this will be the biggest project I've embarked upon, but as my husband so eloquently stated, "Stephanie, this is one of those moments you don't want to look back on and wonder what would have happened if you would have taken on this project. Have no regrets."

I knew I married that guy for a reason! He's a man of few words, but when he speaks, I better listen, as it's going to be good. 

So today, friend, if you see God moving in your life, but what he has laid at your feet seems too big and too scary, go to Him in prayer and take the first step of faith. What I've discovered over and over again is that when God moves, and then I move, a whole new world I never could have dreamed for myself opens up. But He requires our obedience and trust. As the old hymnal by John H. Sammis goes, "Trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey."

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"