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Dreaming Big

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I'm a recovering workaholic.

When my husband worked the afternoon shift, I'd work all day and late until the evening. 

If he worked weekends, so did I. At times I worked 80+ hours a week.  

I said yes to every request. If I wasn't working, my evenings were filled with meetings, dinners and volunteering. Many times, doing things I didn't like, with people who sucked the energy and life out of me.

A couple of years ago I hit rock bottom. I'd done two keynotes and was scheduled to give the sermon at church. When Sunday morning rolled around, I stayed in bed as long as I could without missing the service.

That was the beginning of May and it wasn't until August I started to human again. I took the entire summer off. I said no to almost every request and even though my team at work doubled in size I learned to scale back and shutdown the computer.

I spent almost every weekend kayaking, reading, napping and doing activities that didn't require much physical exertion or mental work.

I think the way I lived my life is how many others live. They just don't know how to gain control of an out of control life. They are hanging on by threads on an unraveling sweater. And before they know it, the small snag is a gaping hole and they start to unravel.

The crazy thing about the crash, is months before, my doctor warned me it was coming. I'd spit saliva in tubes and the hormone test, especially the cortisol warned of what was to come. But I ignored the warning from both the test results and my doctor. Don't we think we are invincible? Well we are not.

Ever since that summer of regaining and taking charge of my health and schedule, I've reprioritized my entire life.  

In the past, I'd feel guilty for sitting on the dock, reading and well, accomplishing nothing on my to do list.

And especially feel guilty if I just came back from a vacation, which I did on Wednesday.

But my June is crazy! Starting today, I'm out of town 13 out of the next14 days.

So, guess what, this past weekend, I'm relaxed at the lake. I sat on the dock or in the boat while my husband is fished. I kayaked. I took a nap. And yes, I did a little work, as I have commitments I've made and deadlines to hit.

If you're at the edge of your thread, there is hope, but it's not easy. It's a lot of work, not to work, to free up one's schedule, but it can be done. 

Trust me, I've lived that crazy life for years and what I've discovered is the less busy I've become, the happier I am.
If you need help reclaiming your life, email me at stephanie@GivingGal.com, to schedule a complimentary coaching session. Let's work together to set your priorities and a plan to decrease your stress and increase your happiness.

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”

Memorial Day marks the unofficial start to summer. Before we know it, August will be here, the children will be back to school and the warm, long days will start to dwindle.

How do we make the most of summer? We be intentional.  Sit down, either by yourself or family, and make a list of how you want to have fun this summer and then hang it in your home where you see and plan to take action.  

The dream list doesn't have to be expensive or extravagant.

Here's my list. What will you include on yours?

  1. Hiking at Starved Rock State Park
  2. See a movie at the drive-in
  3. Run a charity 5k
  4. Go on a picnic
  5. Rooftop family dinner at the Stray Dog
  6. Watch the sunset at Lake Michigan
  7. Take a four-wheeler drive with my dad
  8. Run trails with my mom
  9. Family and friends' weekends at the lake house
  10. Kayak the perimeter of the lake
  11. Enjoy a country concert
  12. See Mamma Mia at the Memorial Opera House
  13. Solo vacation

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

"The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life"

Recently, I keynoted a women's breakfast and had the opportunity to meet Fran.

At the end of every talk, I challenge the audience to take my 40-Day Giving Challenge.

Afterwards, Fran came up to me and exclaimed she'd started the challenge by giving away the beautiful hanging basket of petunias that she won.

Excitement filled my heart and I had to snap a picture with Fran.

This is my why.

I speak and write about giving to inspire others to give in ways they never thought about before.

My original goal, back on January 1, 2011, still rings true today.

Me, one person, looking for ways to make a difference in one other person's life, each and everyday.

And now Fran is on the same journey!

She shared with me how she's given a gift everyday since the talk.

A message from Fran.

Can you imagine how our world would change, if like Fran, when I put out the challenge to give daily, we all took it?!

Thanks Fran for inspiring me to keep spreading the message God's laid on my heart and thanks for taking the Giving Challenge!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”

I went with a friend to the range in college and well, let's just say it didn't end so well. I whacked the guy next to me with my golf ball. And I'm pretty sure I whiffed the ball more than I hit it. Did I mention golfing hurt my back? Overall, the outing at the range wasn't fun and from that moment on, I haven't wasted my time learning to golf. Girls, got better things to do with her time… lol!

With that said, I couldn't help but notice all the buzz on Sunday with Tiger Wood's Masters win.  Pretty incredible if you ask me. Think about, 2005 was the last time he won the masters, 14 years ago when he was the best of the best. Top of his game. Through a series of poor choices, addiction and injuries, he went from number one to not even being able to compete. Yet through all the trials and tribulations, he never quit. Tiger was made to golf. It's his passion. And even when everyone counted him out, most likely even himself at times, he kept swinging.

You know what else was interesting about Sunday's Masters? There was a guy who placed an $85,000 bet, that Tiger would win. The odds of winning were 14-1.  Guess what, his bet paid off and he won close to $1.2M, history's largest golf-related payout. I'm not a fan of gambling, but this man's bet on Tiger reminded me that we only need one person to believe in us. One person that says, "I'm willing to take a chance on you and your talents."  

My questions for you are, one, is there a dream you put aside and through a series of tragic events appears to be at the bottom of the pond on hole #3? If so, take a dive and fish the dream out. And two, who can you get to take a chance on you? Who will give you a little confidence and hold you accountable to putting in the work and then acting on your dream.

I think my new saying will be, "Your dream isn't dead until you stop swinging!"

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”

Several weeks ago, I recommended reading, A Thousand Splendid Suns. I'm still making my way through the book, as the content is heavier than most fiction books I read.

The story is from the perspective of two Afghan women. This morning the chapter I read, the Taliban have entered Kabul, where the women live.  The rule of law is changing. The women will no longer be able to leave their home without a male relative. They are forbidden to wear makeup, jewelry, charming clothes, and nail polish. They are not allowed to speak unless spoken to, make eye contact with men, laugh in public, and attend school or work.  If the women break any of these laws, they will be beaten.

As I read the list, tears streamed down my face as I looked down at my polished nails and sparkling wedding ring. The thought, not once, ever crossed my mind that if I were in public, my colored nails and my rings could lead to a beating.  I'm sure the same thought never crossed your mind. Can you imagine?

I whipped out my gratitude journal and wrote down a list of all the "insignificant" things I'm grateful for that I take for granted living in the USA. Will you do the same?

Taking notice of the small things in life can help change our perspective. If we write down what we appreciate in life, when we are having a bad day, the list can be a tool we use to remind us that, even in the misted of trials, there is still a lot of good in life.

What are you grateful for today?

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

"The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life"

I have a confession, last week I shared that I was taking a break from speaking to work on editing my second book, taxes and getting back on track with eating and working out.

I didn't work on any of those things. I've been productive but done everything I could to avoid tackling what I need to accomplish.

Can you relate?

I call this resistance.  It's an internal battle between what I know I should do and what's easy.  Over the years, I've experience resistance. I know I'm on the right path when it rears its ugly head, especially with creative projects like writing.

If I keep delaying edits for my second book, it doesn't get released. And if it doesn't get released, people can't reject it.  

If there are dreams and goals we want to pursue in our life, we first must recognize the resistance. Not ignore it. Then we can dig into the root cause of the resistance.  Once we know the root cause, then we can face the challenge head-on. If we ignore the cause, then we'll just make excuses. And excuses are why dreams die. Or at least in part.

So today, to my faithful followers, I'm committing three things. 1. I'll work five hours on book edits; 2.  I'll complete my tax paperwork; and 3. I'll work out three times this week and keep my sugar intake at 25 grams or below.

What commitment are you making this week?

How can we work together, to stay on track, and make the best of the life we've been given?

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”


Happy March! I can't believe we are starting our third new month of the year. Can you feel my excitement?!

I love new beginnings.  

February is behind us. Whatever happened is in the rearview mirror. What's in your windshield? What's coming up? What do you need to plan for, so you aren't rushing around last minute? What goals do you have and what do you want to accomplish?

Or maybe the last two months has been rush, rush, rush or filled with unexpected challenges and you need to take this month to reset, recuperate and recharge. There is nothing wrong saying no, staying home, and taking time for yourself and lightening the load, so that as you go into Spring and Summer you can enjoy the long hours of daylight and warmth.

For me, I'm taking a break from speaking this month. It's been a whirlwind January and February, and my mind needs a break. I'll be editing my second book, The Gratitude Challenge, preparing my taxes and getting back on track with my diet and exercise regimen, as both fell by the wayside the last couple of weeks.

Comment below with what you have cooking for March. How can I support you? Pray for you? I'm here to listen and cheer you on. Let's do life together, making the most of each day!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

"The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life"


After midnight, I surfed the Internet and clicked to Oprah's site in hopes of an opportunity to sit in her audience.

Only one show was accepting applications, the After Oscar Show in Los Angeles.

I thought what the heck!

I applied and weeks later, I dang dear fell out of my chair when I received an email stating I'd secured two seats to the show.

Months later my sister and I, two girls from rural Indiana, were living it up in LA.

We were so excited we only ate one meal, as we had so much to see and we didn't want to waste precious time dining.

To keep our bellies full we munched on a fruit basked my hubby sent to our hotel room. I guess we were eating like the stars…fruit, water and a bit of wine.

One evening we found ourselves in the hotel that hosted ABC's pre-Oscar party. We sat on the lobby couch acting cool as the stars of the Desperate Housewives and other shows mingled.

The night of the Oscars we made friends with a police officer, shocking I know, and he secured a prime spot for us outside of the Vanity Fair After Oscar party.

We waived at the stars and giggled like school girls as the best of the best in the industry exited their vehicles, waived and entered the party. Some even coming over to shake hands.

If I wasn't such a rule follower, I'd have a picture of Oprah interviewing Sandra Bullock after she won the Oscar for The Blindside.

It was a dream come true adventure with my sister that I'll never forget. But the trip wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't taken action and the steps to make the trip possible.

If you have a dream, even a crazy dream to go to Hollywood for the big show, take a step towards making it happen.

What's your wild and crazy dream?!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”

My hands sweat and my heart races every time I watch the TEDxCalvin video spotlighting me as one of the speakers.

I keep telling myself, "God gave me this opportunity, He has gone before me and will be on the stage with me."

The only way I can get on this stage is by His strength. I can not do this alone. 

You may be thinking, "Stephanie, you get on a stage all the time and speak, why is TEDx any different?"

No notes, no slides. 

My entire talk is memorized, which in all the years I've been speaking, I've never done.  

I don't read from my notes but they are a guide to help me stay on topic, order and so everything flows.

With that said, I've put in the work. 

I've been working on my talk since November. I've rehearsed it no less than seven times each week. When I'm in the car, I turn down the radio and give my talk. When I'm soaking in the tub, I give me talk. And some mornings, I shout it out in the shower! 

I've recorded my talk and practiced it in front of a few friends. 

I'm prepared. 

A TEDx Talk has been on bucket list for years. And this is definitely one that I couldn't just show up and check off. 

The preparation for the talk also made me realized I don't have to be a procrastinator which I've proclaimed to be for…oh…my entire life. 

It's a label I've given myself and lived up to on many occasions. But I've learned through this process, we have the ability to change. 

The event is on March 2nd. If you are the praying type, please add me to your prayer list. I'd really appreciate it. 

Thanks for all your love and support!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

“The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life”


This weekend I had the honor to keynote a women's breakfast at a local church. The next day I spoke at the same church and the pastor said, "I heard the event was transformational."

What an impact his statement had on me. God laid on my heart two years ago to get The Giving Challenge in churches. I could see the vision but many couldn't. I had a director of women's ministry tell me my talk didn't have enough scripture. Well friends, I'm more concerned about living out scripture than reading it from a stage.  

Two women saw my vision and worked tirelessly to make a dream become a reality. Several months ago, on a dark, cold night we gathered and believed a success would be if 30 women showed up.  A women's event was the first of it's kind for this small church. We were giddy exclaiming our stretch goal of 50 women. We had 35 RSVP and were ecstatic! But you know what happened the morning of the event? 70 women packed the room. We had to set up more tables and chairs. My assistant ran out to my car to get more books. And somehow there was enough food for everyone!

After the event, I saw hugs, tears and excitement of going out into the community to give in ways the women had never thought about giving. I heard stories that would break your heart and stories of new connections made between women that want to pursue a dream God laid on their heart.

I can't quite put into words everything that happened on Saturday, but God showed off. And I need to thank Him for giving this gal something bigger than she could ever dream.  

If you have a big dream, you gotta do more than pray. You have to share your dream with others. You have to work hard to make it happen. And when the opportunity is presented, show up like your life depends on it. Put in the work, knowing you deserve the opportunity that was given to you!

I love what Mark Batterson says in his book on prayer, "We are called to pray about everything, but there comes a time when praying can be a form of disobedience, laziness, or negligence. We can't just pray like it depends on God; we also must work like it depends on us."

I wonder how many prayers go unanswered because people don't act to follow a path God had laid before them.  

Pray for your dream but also take the steps to make it happen. If you're on the wrong path, God will let you know. But if doors keep opening, keep walking through them!

Now go make your dream happen!

Blessings,

Stephanie

Inspirational Speaker and Award-Winning Author of

"The Giving Challenge: 40 Days to a More Generous Life"