Category

Dreaming Big

Category

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"


Anytime we pursue a #goal we learn lessons. Here are six lessons I learned launching my second book. These lessons can apply to any goal we pursue.

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”

For the last, oh I don't know, ten years, I'd committed to reading through the entire Bible. I'd get excited, open the Bible daily and read a chapter or two, but as with many goals, by the time I read through Genesis, fifty other books stole my attention and the remainder of the year, reading through the Bible was hit or miss. 

I'd failed miserably.

In 2019, I set a rule for myself. The first activity I would do in the morning would be to read a devotional and the Bible. Temptations of social media, email, television, and any other distraction use to steal my mornings but no more, because I'd set a boundary and I wanted to stay within the bounds.

I missed a couple of days here and there, mainly when I was traveling. I'm almost through the entire Bible and it's amazing how God speaks to us when we are in his word and listening to his ever guiding voice.

On December 28th, God turned on a facet of writing ideas that hasn't shutoff.  What he is given me is good. There is no way on Earth I could have come up with what is flowing through me onto paper. 

I share this story of commitment because as I was chatting with my friend/personal trainer Zach and it hit me, that if we want to see change, results, or difference in our life, it doesn't happen overnight. 

We reflected on my weight loss journey. For three months, as I trained with him, eating healthy and working out, I saw almost zero results. The lack of evidence of my hard work frustrated me, but he kept telling me to stay on the course. I trusted his expertise and continued to do as he instructed. And sure enough, after the three-month mark hit, still staying faithful to the plan, the pounds started to melt off.

I share both stories to say, if you've been working toward a goal but aren't seeing the results you expected, keep going, even if you stumble, move forward.

Yesterday as I read my devotional, the verse Proverbs 16:3 smacked me in the face, "Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed."

The verse doesn't state commit your good intentions, it says, "commit your actions."

I believe the good book has given us all we need to be successful if life, but at the end of the day we have free will and we must act to succeed.

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 Sunday at church, the speaker mentioned his wife was working on a book proposal.

My ears perked up and I initially thought, "Oh I should go introduce myself. Maybe there is a way I can help her."

Within moments of that thought, doubt crept in.

Oh, I hate going up to strangers. It's awkward.

What if she doesn't need my assistance?

Maybe I don't have as much insight as I think.

As the negative thoughts crashed down, I had to stop myself.

Sure, introducing yourself to strangers is a bit difficult, but I've done it hundreds of times during my giving journey.

And maybe she doesn't need help, but what if she does? It's better to offer and she not need it then to not offer and she did need it.

And I do have a tremendous amount of knowledge to share with someone writing a book.

In fact, I'm coaching others on writing their own books.

I'm not a fraud.

I proceeded to go down the list of all my writing and publishing experience.

After church ended, I walked, against the flow of people exiting, down the aisle and introduced myself.

And I'm so glad I did. I had nothing to worry about it. She was so kind.

Offering our experience and our talents to others is a great gift we can give.

Maybe your children are grown, and you can give a little advice to a new mom.

Or did you recently lose weight and have a friend that's struggling in this area? Share a few tips what worked for you.

We all have gifts to share with others but often we feel like a fraud. We might downplay our knowledge and experience, or think there is someone better.

If you feel a tug, to share your knowledge, have the confidence to push past fear and doubt and help someone, you may be the difference in their failure or 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”

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”


Do you have a goal you've been working on, but you've haven't made progress in a while? Or maybe it's not a goal, but you feel stuck where you are in life.

Over the past couple of years, as I work with coaching clients, I've discovered that many times, excuses are what is holding my client back.

For example, several months ago, I met with a client and she shared a goal she'd been working on for years. But every time the opportunity became available to move forward, something tragic always happened, or so she made it sound that way.  

As I listened, I realized, one of two things, either she didn't want her dream as bad as she said she did or two, she created excuses so if she did take a step forward, she didn't have to face the possibility of rejection.  

The latter is quite common.  

We don't even show up, for if we show up, we may fail. But if we don't show up, there is no disappointment and we can, in fact, continue to lie to ourselves, about why we aren't progressing like we think we should.

One powerful way to move forward is to be brave enough to step over an excuse. But how do we do that?

First, we must be real with ourselves.  I'll give you an example. I'm training for a Disney running challenge. In February, in three days, I'll compete in a 5k, 10k and marathon.  If I want to enjoy the races, I need to train.

I have a training schedule printed and so far, I have been sticking to the plan. But on Saturday, excuses started to bubble up to the surface, to skip my training run.  

Excuse #1: I spent longer at the post office than I intended. My run would have to be shortened from thirty to twenty minutes. Since I can't run the amount of time I wanted to run, I should just go home. EXCUSE!

Identifying the excuse is the half the battle. If we don't recognize when we are making excuses, we can't move forward on our goal or becoming unstuck.  Ask yourself, is what I'm telling myself an excuse or is it a fact?

I knew questioning the time was an excuse. Twenty minutes is better than zero minutes.  Move forward.

I drove to the park and when I got out of the car, the wind sliced through my long-sleeved shirt.  It's not that cold out here I told myself and I started to run. I didn't even give the wind time to make an internal debate, I just got moving.

But guess what happened? Moving didn't help. As I ran, I pulled up the weather app on my phone and the temperature felt like 37 degrees and the winds were 20 mph.  I thought, "I should go back to the car, it's too cold out here." Excuse #2!

Yes, it was cold, and the wind gusted around me, but I was already out on the trail, and I've ran in colder weather.  I talked myself into continuing my run. All I had to do was make it another ten minutes. I'd survived the first ten minutes, I could survive the last. 

Do you know what happened, it got windier and I just kept plugging along? And I didn't just run twenty minutes, I ran thirty minutes, completed my original workout and when I got home, was still able to stay on the schedule I had planned for the remainder of the day.

Guess how I felt when I returned home? FABULOUS!!!

Guess how I would have felt if I would have gone home after my trip to the post office? Guilty, disappointed, a little overwhelmed that I was off my training schedule, and dinner out wouldn't have been as enjoyable as now I wasn't too concern about the mash potatoes I consumed.

Do you know what else battling through excuses helps use accomplish? Our mindset starts to change, and our confidence grows. You see, the next time it's thirty-seven degrees outside, and not windy, I can tell myself, "Stephanie remember the day you ran thirty minutes, in the same temperature, but the wind was blowing 20 mph? This run will be a walk in the park."

Also, identifying and working through our excuses gets us one step closer to accomplishing our goal or becoming unstuck. The more running workouts I accomplish, the easier running the 5k, 10k, and half marathon are going to be.

What's the excuse you've been using that is stopping you from living the life you were meant to live? Take the power step to move past your excuse and get to tackling the goal you've wanted to pursue.

Blessings,

Stephanie

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


Do you get overwhelmed thinking about all you have to do in the upcoming week, month, or even the remainder of the year? I know I do.

I wear myself out scrolling through my calendar and looking at all my upcoming travel, events, and projects. And in the past, this is where I'd shut down. Instead of spending my time wisely and take actions to ensure I'm prepared and meet deadlines, I'd plop my butt in a chair and veg out–numbing my feelings with sugar. 

Repeatedly, I've seen people give up on amazing opportunities because looking at the end, and then thinking about all the work it would take to get there seemed like an impossible mountain to climb.

Speaking of mountains, have you ever climbed one? Several years ago, my mom and I skidded down Sleeping Bear Dunes in the sand, only to get to the bottom, and look and up and be nearly paralyzed at the climb ahead.

Sleeping Bear Dunes, is in the top ten for number of rescues at a National Park, and at the top, there's a sign that states, "Enjoy the view from here. Don't risk injury and rescue fees by going down-or the two hours it may take to climb back up!"

Why do so many people quit, when just moments earlier they were excited to climb the mammoth dune? 

Because anytime we discover something new and shiny, we get a burst of energy that gets us started. But as we start to climb, muscles ache and it's painful. What we originally thought was going to be fun, has been littered with hurdles one didn't expect.

That's how the dune was for me. Instead of looking up at all I had to climb, I put my head down and took one step at a time. And in under thirty minutes, I'd reached the top.

If you are looking at the week, month, or year ahead, and you are wondering, how will I ever get everything done?

Take these steps:

  1. Make a list of all you must do. 
  2. Prioritize what needs to get done today. 
  3. Remove frivolous time wasters. 
  4. And start on one item, completing that task and moving on to the next.  
  5. Once that day is over, start all over. 

I've lived by this method for years and it's how I work a full time job, write books, speak around the country, coach clients, and yes, take time for myself to have a little fun!

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”

Each year the local high school National Honors society members, the Boys Scouts, and even your local letter carrier, go door to door and collect food for the local food pantry. I love the idea of communities coming together, one home at a time, to feed those in need and fill the bellies of their neighbors.
I'm grateful that at a moment's notice I can fill a couple of bags of non-perishable foods, as I always stock up on canned goods at either Costco or when the grocery store is having a sale.


You can help your local food pantry in four easy steps:

  1. Locate your community food pantry.
  2. Make a list of most needed items.
  3. Either clean out your pantry or pick up items the next time you are at the store. Give what you can afford. Even if it's one canned good, that item, compounded with the donations of others makes a big impact.
  4. Drop off the items!

I love this giving challenge because it's simple and doesn't take much time. Also, if you want to make a bigger impact, add a few items every time you go to the grocery store. Could you imagine the effect of making a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly donation to our food pantry would have on our communities? ‘


What items will you donate?


Happy Giving,
Stephanie


P.S. If you choose to donate foods from your pantry, please don't donate expired food. I know this seems like common sense, but every time I volunteer at a food drive or pantry, I'm amazed at how many people donate expired food.

Day 13 Giving Challenge: Donate nonperishable items to your local food pantry.

Did you know... 15 million households in the United States suffer from food insecurity, which means the people who live in these households are often hungry.

Chat with your Children: There may be children in your child's classroom that doesn't have enough food. Chat with your child on how you can feed children in need in their school. Maybe it's paying for a child's lunch, adding extra snacks to their book bag, or even sharing their lunch. The children who often go hungry, may also be the children who need a friend to sit with at lunch.  If your child sees another child sitting alone, teach them ways to befriend someone sitting alone at lunch, whether it's joining a lonely child, or asking them to sit at their table. These acts of kindness can change the course of a child's life. 

Bonus Story: Giving Gal is doing her part to feed the hungry. We partner with Rice Bowls, to feed children in orphanages. For every copy of The Giving Challenge sold, we donate three meals to a child in need. In two years, with a generous corporate match, we've provided over 24,000 meals to children in need. I've started handing out rice bowls at my speaking engagements, so the audience can get involved in giving their change. Want a rice bowl? You can order one here.

Have you heard of the Between Me and You Journals?  They are fabulous hard back journals created by my friend Winston.  He and I met on my giving journey and we've been meeting for breakfast since 2011!  Boy how times flies.

Years ago, I bought the "mother" journal and gave it to my mom to fill out.  There is a page in the book that asks, "If you felt the need to offer some advice to me, what would it be?”

Instead of advice, my mom wrote her favorite quotes and Bible verses. I view the list as a simple gift she gave me, that I can pass along to you, to them pass along to others.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

“If you want to increase the power of God in your life-see how many times a day you can give.” – Joyce Meyer

“Lord- how do you want me to live this day? What is it you want me to do with this one day you have given me? What is the work you want me to accomplish today?”

“It is better to be kind than right.”

“When God tugs at your heart, that’s the moment to act.”

"So don’t worry, because I am with you. Don’t be afraid because I am your God. I will make you strong and will help you; I will support you with my right hand that saves you." -Isaiah 41:10

“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

“Those who say it can’t be done are usually interrupted by others doing it.” -Joel A. Barker

“It's kind of fun to do the impossible.” -Walt Disney

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” -Gandhi

“If it weren’t for running, I’d go crazy.” -Martin-lead guitarist for Jethro Tull

“Hills are speed work in disguise.” – Frank Shorter- 1972 Olympic Marathon Champion

“Pray hard. Work hard. And leave the rest to God.” – Florence Griffith Joyner “Flo Jo” 

"Be joyful always; pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

“Instead of thinking about all the reasons that I couldn’t do it, I started thinking about all the reasons that I could do it.  I encouraged myself and allowed the word of God to empower me.” – Victoria Osteen

"The Lord will hear when I call to Him." Psalm 4:3

I don't know about you, but if someone gives me a compliment, text me a positive quote or post an uplifting video on social media it gives me a little boost and pep in my step. Kind words make us happy.  

As we go through the second half of the summer giving challenge, and beyond, let's, as a group, think about the words we speak to others, find ways to fill people up with kindness, instead of tearing them down, and post only positivity on social media. You up for the challenge?!

But think about the opposite of kind words.  What happens if someone puts you down? How do you feel?  If you read a negative post or rant on social media, do you get angry, sad, anxious, maybe even a little depressed?

Happy Giving,

Stephanie

Day 8 Giving Challenge: Give compliments, speak words of kindness and post a positive story or quote on social media. 

Did you know... John Gottman, a researcher, conducted a study on predicting if a couple would get divorced or stay together based on the words they spoke to each other. Couples who spoke five positive comments to every one negative comment were more likely to stay together vs couples who divorced, which had an average of four negative comments to three positive comments. The take away, whether it's your friends, coworkers, spouse, and children, the higher ratio of positive comments with a lower number of negative comments, will improve those relationships.

Chat with your Children: The old saying, "Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." really isn't true.  Words hurt. Usually children who are hurting, many times will use their words to hurt others. Our children need to know and understand that many children don't mean the words they say.  Often, the hurting children who hurt others, home life is difficult, they aren't being treated well, and they want attention, and acting out is a way to do that. I'm saddened every time in the news when I hear a child has committed suicide due to being bullied. I've recently seen a child, as young as eight years old, take his life, due to kids bullying him. Think about that. Because of someone's words, another child takes their life.  This is a difficult conversation and must be had with an age appropriate child. With that said, children need to understand there can be devastating consequences, to our actions. 

Bonus Story: We never know how our words are going to impact those around us, even when we don't realize they are paying attention and listening. Kindness Matters!