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
Fear is a liar. I have a shirt displaying these words and some days I believe the quote and others, well, I'd rather curl up in a ball and hide under the covers.
On March 2, 2019, I walked through a door, onto a stage with a spotlight focused on yours truly. It's the most terrifying stage I'd been on in all my life.
I'm a professional speaker and the weeks leading up to this event, TEDxCalvin, I'd spoken to hundreds of people from a women's retreat, a church service, and a women's giving circle but there was one big difference.
With the three events, I mentioned I had notes. I don't read from them, but they are a guide to keep me on track, and within the timeframe, I'd been given.
TEDxCalvin, there were no notes, no PowerPoint, just my memory.
I'd spent months and months rehearsing. Sometimes I recited the talk perfectly, and other times I blanked. I mean to the point I couldn't remember anything. No words flowed from my mouth.
Blanking was my biggest fear.
What would I do if I started my talk and all of a sudden, poof, my talk was gone. I'd make an incredible fool of myself in front of hundreds of people. Strangers.
Do you want to know what happened? I confidently walked out onto that stage and gave a flawless performance. I'd done something that I almost let fear kill. Speaking on the TEDx stage was a big dream of mine. It's a hurdle I needed to jump to grow as a speaker and expand my audience.
Why do I share all of this? Because I know there is something you want to do. Right now with the pandemic fear is floating around everywhere. Some for good reason, and other for not.
What's your TEDx? What's the thing you've been putting off that's going to take your personal or professional life to the next level?
Author and pastor Chris Hodges writes, "Courage is the condition of your heart that allows you to believe you'll succeed without knowing how you'll succeed."
When I applied for a TEDx talk, I didn't know how I was going to succeed. I honestly didn't think about the stage. I just had the courage to apply.
Applying wasn't scary. Well, okay, maybe a little. But if I didn't apply, I'd never be able to speak on the stage.
I'm guessing that's how your BIG dream is. The end result is scary; that's why you haven't taken steps to pursue it. But usually, the first step and sometimes the subsequent steps aren't that bad.
The worst part of TEDx was the final step, but I knew I'd put in the hard work. I'd left nothing to chance. I put in hours of hours of rehearsals. I had lots of people praying for me. I truly prayed and believed that God had given me the opportunity, that he'd laid a path for me and all I had to do was walk through the door. Have a little faith and trust that everything was going to be okay.
And you know what, if I would have completely bombed on the stage, I'd at least gone down having the courage to succeed instead of wondering if I had what it took to grace the stage, constantly living in regret, wondering if my speaking career was staying steady because I hadn't been a daring woman to take a leap of courage.
My friend, you only have one life to live. Will you live in fear or courage? The choice is yours. Choose wisely.
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.