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Dreaming Big

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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"

Happy May! I typically don’t share many insights into my life as a police wife, but something happened this weekend and I shared what it’s like to live the police wife life. At the end of the day, I’m always so grateful for our first responders. May is the month we celebrate National Police Week and Peace Officer’s Memorial Day. Please time time this month to thank the police officers in your community.

Last night we went to a retirement party for a state trooper.

As his wife spoke, I couldn't imagine the emotions she felt.

He made it.

He survived.

We have four more years until my husband hits 25 years and can retire. I never want to waste time away, but I'm tired of this police life.

I'm tired of the media.

The Monday morning quarterbacks.

The liars and haters.

I'm scared everyday that my husband, who has had an impeccable career, might need to make a split second decision, do everything right, and still lose everything we've worked for and built.

This year I've asked him on more than one occasion to retire early.

To lose part of his pension and other benefits because the risk is too great.

And yet he is unwavering to the oath and commitment he made.

And last night was no different.

As we drove home from the party, at 9:00pm, after a full day of working in his woodshop, on this day "off", he answered his dang work phone.

I hear him utter the phrases I've heard tens of times over the years, "I need to drop off Stephanie, change, and then I'll be enroute."

And that's exactly what he did.

We don't own our schedule.

We don't have the luxury of coming home from a long day and chilling.

He always answers the call.

I use to wait up and worry. I stay up as long as I can, say a prayer, and give him to God.

He rolled into bed at 3:30am. I knew what he dealt with couldn't be good as he had a fitful night sleep. No one will ever know what our officers see when they close their eyes.

Horrific scenes beyond comprehension.

I don't share much about our police life because I choose to focus on giving, gratitude, goals, and my faith.

But every once in a while I think it's good for wives to share our life to counter all the lies and negativity from the media and those who know nothing about law enforcement and the lives we live.

Today, like every day, I'm grateful for the men and women of law enforcement.

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"

Happy Spring! Oh, what a wonderful time of the year. The dead, bare branches, are popping with sprouts of color. In a few short weeks, we will not recognize our surroundings. 

At the beginning of each season, I like to look ahead over the next three months and ask what can I only do during this season of the year? Or what fun activities do I want to do over the next three months? We always need to make sure we 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 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 beauty spring has to offer?

For me, I want to go hiking at four state parks, have a mini-book club with a friend, watch some of my favorite athletes play baseball, start bike riding on trails, run a few of 5ks, attend a fundraiser for a police memorial, and celebrate a couple of birthdays.

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”

The more women I talk to about their goals, the more I realize we all struggle with the same challenges. 

Mindset. 

Change. 

Distractions.

Time.

Confidence.

And the list goes on.

I have created a no filter video series live from the trail, where I share tips, tricks, how-tos, and insight into how you can finally do what you have always wanted to do.

Friends, this is no makeup. No soft white lights. Just me, my iPhone, and sharing what God lays on my heart, as I am huffing and puffing on my trails. 

I believe God laid a calling on each of our hearts, but often we feel alone and do not think others are struggling like we are.

That's a lie.

I know it looks like I am accomplishing a lot of goals. I am, but every single one only happens because I keep fighting my way through the constant mental battle and obstacles that come my way. 

I keep moving and tackling my struggles because I know God has given me this grand life for a purpose. 

I also do this for YOU

I want nothing more than to help you get organized, lose weight so you can play with your children/grandchildren, pay off debt, write your story and share it through a blog or a book, start a nonprofit to impact your community, take a class, grow a garden, or learn to love yourself a little more. 

That's my WHY, friends.

That is why one day, I hit record and decided to start this series. I want to empower you to take a little time for yourself so that you have no regrets when you get to the end of your life. No saying, "I wish I would have done...(fill in the blank)."

So lace up your hiking boots, grab your walking stick, and hit the trails with me. Hiking isn't easy. There are thorns, holes, stumps, fallen trees, but there is so much beauty around every curve. So much joy. Come on this journey with me, and let us accomplish our goals together and get to giving your best life!

Check out the first four videos, with new videos dropping weekly!

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”

Two years ago, today I keynoted a women's giving circle event.

All the women in the room had one mission, to give back to nonprofits in their community.

I miss speaking.

As I type this, I should be keynoting a women's retreat, but it got canceled due to weather.

I could look at…

  • what I do not have right now.
  • the money I am losing in my business.
  • the opportunity to meet and connect with others in person. (FYI, Referrals are the number one way I book speaking gigs.)
  • the drop in books sales, as I sell lots of books at events.

Yet I am making the choice to look at the opportunities to work on because I have the "extra" time.

There are several fun projects in the works that only came about because I was not speaking.

If you are doubting where you are in life, or life does not look like what you've had planned, don't worry, God knows exactly what He is doing. His timing is always perfect.

I am reminded of His timing by reading Proverbs 3:5-6. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

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”

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.

How will you show and share the love this month?

Love,

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 weekend I celebrated the 4th birthday of the launch of The 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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!
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

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”