The Joy List

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A year ago, I put together a list of some of my favorite things.  I call it my joy list.  It reminds me to focus on the simple things that bring me joy, and helps me to be intentional about including them in my life on a daily basis.

When I’m feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed, it’s more often that not because I haven’t indulged in enough of my favorite things, and I’m running on an empty tank.  I’m an introvert, so I restore myself by being alone.  If I don’t make space to regroup, relax, and exhale deeply, I’m not much fun to be around.

But even when I don’t have the opportunity to get away or spend much time alone, there’s something powerful about stopping for a second to acknowledge the joy in an everyday moment.  Breathing in deeply, recognizing the beauty of what’s before me, and savoring the happiness it brings is invigorating for my soul.

Here’s my joy list:

  1. Quiet time with God
  2. Playing with my boys or just watching them play
  3. Date nights with my husband
  4. Bonding time with my girlfriends
  5. Walks or hikes in nature
  6. Listening to birds sing
  7. A steaming hot bath
  8. Chocolate
  9. Wine
  10. Thai Food
  11. Pedicures
  12. Spa retreats
  13. The smell of rain
  14. Road trips with my family
  15. Visiting new cities and trying new restaurants
  16. Cuddling in bed with my boys at night and reading to them
  17. Anything eucalyptus-peppermint scented
  18. Walks on the beach on a misty early morning
  19. Chai Tea
  20. Purple Tulips

What makes you happy?  Create your own joy list, post it up somewhere you can see it everyday, and indulge in joyful moments.

Mission Impossible? Writing a Personal Mission Statement

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Four years ago, I happened upon a book called “The Path.”  I discovered it on my book shelf, although I don’t remember ever purchasing it.  I love how God works.  Someone left it behind unintentionally for me to find.  It was written years ago, in the late ‘90s, by Laurie Beth Jones.   I read the book and completed the included journaling exercises, which focus on helping you discover and write a personal mission statement for your life.

After being asked to cull through a list of hundreds of adjectives and choose just three (a nearly impossible task), I narrowed the list down to three phrases:  To connect.  To create.  To share.  I then used those three adjectives to craft my personal mission statement:  To live a life of joy and creativity, sharing my experiences to inspire women.

The purpose of this exercise was to get at the basic motives and passions that drive me.  The process of discovering and identifying these adjectives was quite powerful.  The author suggests that if every part of our life is not in line with these most basic building blocks of our inner being, then our life will be constantly at odds, causing frustration, anxiety and stress.

Understanding that these core ideas are what really makes me tick was a huge eye opener.  They are a filter I use to make decisions about how to use my time and talents.

I have a deep desire to connect with women in my life one on one, so lots of quality time with my circle of close girlfriends is critical.  I am also creative and love the process of birthing new ideas and bringing them to fruition.  And sharing my experiences and what I’ve learned is life giving to me, which is why I love writing and inspiring women.

If you are a creative person, with a passion to help people, but you’re stuck in an office doing accounting work, you’ll likely feel dissatisfied.  If you have an innate desire for adventure and spontaneity, but every part of your life is mundane and governed by routine, chances are, you’ll constantly feel frustrated.

Going through the exercise of discovering what your inner passions are, and then developing a mission statement for your life based on those deep dreams and desires can be a very powerful and effective process.  Discovering your life’s purpose doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll quit a career you’ve spent years building to become an artist, or drop everything and move to Cambodia to run an orphanage.  But, it can give you important insight that will allow you to build these core values into your life.

If you’re creative, sign up for an art class, make time and space for pursuing a hobby, or volunteer for a project at work that fulfills your creative side.  If you have altruistic needs that aren’t being fulfilled, volunteer with your church or a local non-profit, or mentor a younger co-worker over coffee or lunch.

God created us all so uniquely and beautifully, with a plan and purpose for each of our lives.  Psalm 139:13-14 says, “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”

What passions, dreams and desires has God planted in your heart?  I encourage you to write your own personal mission statement.  Here’s a good blog on how to write a mission statement and a link to an online mission statement builder.

And when you’re done, post a comment with your new personal mission statement. I’d love to hear what inspires you!

Connecting

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Although the path has not been easy, and I don’t claim to have “arrived” – because life is a never ending journey – I do feel that I have reached a hard won place of balance in my life.  It helps that I’m doing something I truly enjoy, which is writing.  Also, I’ve come to appreciate and love my imperfect self, which allows me to truly connect with my husband, my kids, my friends, and God.

I feel that I am on the road to fulfilling my purpose in life, and (besides being a wife and a mother), that is to be an inspiration to others and to help them find joy and connectedness in their lives.  That is my deepest desire.

I think the key to true joy and balance in one’s life is connecting.  We are relational human beings.  It’s how we’re made.  It’s what drives us.  We need to find balance in our lives and feel connected 1) to ourselves, 2) to others and 3) to God – which I believe is the most important.  (By the way, my “Joy List” helps me to remember to connect in all three of those areas, which is why I’m sharing it with all of you, and encouraging you to make your own Joy List.)  But today, I want to talk about #3. Continue reading

The Precious Moment Called “Now”

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We live in a society focused on self-improvement.  Striving for success is an esteemed virtue, and the shelves of bookstores are filled with “how to” books, promising that in seven or ten easy steps you can improve, change, advance, discover, identify or uncover the person you are meant to be.  We’re bombarded with messages that we can and should be a better mother, father, wife, husband, employee or athlete, and we’re passing those directives on to our children, indirectly if not directly. Continue reading

Being Held in the Midst of Tragedy

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I originally wrote this journal entry 2 years ago when a mother in New York had her children murdered by their nanny.  I’m resurrecting it again as I’ve been reading this week about Ryan Saldana, the adorable 3 year old boy with wild red hair, who was killed by a truck.  My heart goes out to his parents.  I’ve felt the same sadness for them as I did for Marina two years ago, and it has made me hold my boys a little tighter and appreciate the preciousness and fragility of life.  May God hold this family tenderly in the palm of his hands.  #redballoonsforryan

I’ve found myself sobbing numerous times this week, as my thoughts have turned repeatedly to Marina Krim, the mother who lost her two precious children in New York last Thursday. It is every mother’s worst nightmare – the unexpected loss of a child. The viciousness of the attack and inability to come up with a motive make this mother’s loss especially tragic. Yet, any mother who has lost a child for any reason knows the depth of her pain. Continue reading