Monday, December 28, 2015

You Don't Get to Just Conquer

Alexander the Great didn't just randomly start conquering the world.  Michael Jordan didn't just randomly start throwing a ball around and then he found out he was an amazing basketball player.  Charles Dickens didn't put miscellaneous words on a page and hope it became a coherent thought and then a story.  That's not how it works.

I have been looking back over this last year in order to figure out where I should set my sights for the coming year.  I'm setting goals for different areas of my life. One area I'm looking at is physical.  (I'm also evaluating family, financial, spiritual, business and personal, but for now I'm talking about physical.) Here is one goal for me for 2016.

And this is how I know that I will reach it: I decided to reach it. It's the same way that Alexander the Great, Michael Jordan, and Charles Dickens accomplished their tasks: they decided...and then they took action.  It's the same way I earned my black belt.  It didn't just happen.The decision came before any action.  That's the order it must go in.

What will you decide to do in 2016? Now go conquer it...and just so you know, it's gonna take some work, too.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Don't Read This On Christmas

You should go spend time with your family and loved ones. Seriously. We'll catch up next week. Take this day and just chill.  Have a beautiful Christmas, fantastic readers.

That's all.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Company We Keep: Part 2

Last week I wrote about the company we keep in regards to who my kids are hanging around. They've made good choices for the most part.  It's not that we're perfect parents, because we're not by any means.  However, I will say that we've shown them the value of choosing our friends wisely.

My hubby and I have beautiful friends.  I don't mean that they are all pretty people (even though they are, but that's not why we've chosen them).  They are all beautiful souls.  Just like us, they are flawed and imperfect, but they do life well.  They love and discipline their kids.  They seek God and His love and wisdom.  They make family a priority.  They make friends a priority.  Work is important to them, but it's not only thing.

Case in point, the week before last, I was blessed to be able to attend a customer appreciation lunch put on by some very dear friends of mine.  We just happen to have our retirement money with the husband half of the couple through his financial firm.  I watched as my beautiful friend seemed to almost float around the room greeting people by name and genuinely making them feel welcome. People are always excited to see her because she always makes them feel known.  She knows their names and she remembers their families.  The really cool part was to watch her do this with her own kids in tow.  Two-year-old, 12 and 9-year-olds watched as the lovely mom worked the room.

 UL warm stone & lilac bouquet

I understand that there is a certain amount of "being on" at an event like this, but some people have a natural ability to do it with style and grace, with honest love for people.  These are the kind of people that I like to surround myself with.  My hope is that it rubs off on me, and I believe it has to a certain degree.  More than anything, though, I believe my kiddos have seen what it means to have real friends that are true and honest people.  

What does the company you are keeping say about you?

Friday, December 18, 2015

Take Inventory of Your Life

My birthday was last week.  Yay!  I turned 39.  Thirty-eight was a great year.  I earned my black belt. My business started to take off.  I learned a lot about myself.  I started this blog--and am still doing it. I started to take over another business.  I had a couple great trips with my family and/or my hubby.  I took on a huge project as a side hustle and have it 99% completed at the time of this writing--which is way ahead of the scheduled completion date, I might add.  I had some fantastic time with my kids as we traveled and as we just lived life.

As I was talking with my coach last week, she asked me what rating on a scale of 1-10 I would give myself for this year as we talked about setting goals for next year.  My initial response was 4 1/2. Her beautiful and patient response was to calmly say, "Would you like to tell me more about that number?" To which I immediately thought of all the things I didn't get completed.  I didn't get all my debt paid off...but I did host Financial Peace University alongside my husband to help others get on track to getting out of debt.  I didn't cut back on my hours at my job to part time from my current full time...but I managed a huge project in my off hours and got it done in a timely manner.  I didn't finish writing the novel I started...but I started it.  It took me 6 1/2 years to get my black belt...and I got my black belt.  Hello.  I didn't reach my goal at the gym to do a one-handed handstand on a kettle bell...but I did conquer the rope climb for the first time in my life.  And I got my black belt.  I didn't surprise each of my friends with lavish gifts on their birthdays...but I did do lunch or coffee with almost all of them.   I didn't read all of the Bible...but I did consistently read and do devotions.  What an amazing year I've had.

I'm not telling you all these things to tell you how great I am.  It is very easy for me to go to that place where I see that I didn't measure up, that I didn't accomplish all I wanted to accomplish, where I wasn't perfect.  I will never be perfect, though, and sometimes just reaching for excellence is enough. I'm learning to have joy in the journey.  It still amazes me all the lessons I learned on my path to black belt;  It's never too late.  We all have the same amount of time.  It's how we use it that matters. You're never too old.  I am disciplined.  I enjoy the process.  I'm a writer.  I can choose to make family and friends a priority.  

 UL mint julep

As we head into 2016 in just a couple weeks, I'm reflecting on 2015.  It has been amazing.  It's beautiful.  I would encourage you to look back before you turn and look forward.  What are you thankful for?  What did you accomplish?  What did you mess up on...that you will do differently next year?  As I went back over the year in my mind, I changed my answer from a 4 1/2 to a 7 1/2.  There are still a lot of things that I want to accomplish, but I'm enjoying the journey and I'm giving myself credit for the things I did do.  Growth is a process and it doesn't happen overnight.  What's your top 3 favorite events in 2015?  I'd really love to hear about it below.

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Monday, December 14, 2015

The Company We Keep

My kids have made wise choices about who their friends are, for the most part.  There have been a couple of minor incidents where we were able to help them see that the people they were associating with weren't the kind of company they wanted to keep.  I've never told my kids they weren't allowed to hang out with a particular child...I let them choose for themselves.  My son had a friend that he had known for several years, but they didn't see each other on a regular basis.  They would see each other a couple times each year.  

It was one such occasion that the boys were together, along with several other kids.  As the boys were playing soccer, the friend in question started harping on one of the other friends that was present, just because he wasn't as athletic.  It wasn't cool to watch and we tried to calmly correct this situation, but it's tricky disciplining someone else's kid.  Yuck.  It was awkward, at best.  After the gathering, we had opportunity to talk with our son.  I told him that it was fun to see Kid A at the gathering because we don't get to see him very often.  I reminded him that Kid B is a great friend and it's fun to get to see him on a weekly basis. And then I asked him if he had seen how Kid A was treating Kid B.  He had.  Did he like it?  Nope.  He then made the decision on his own that he probably wouldn't invite Kid A to hang around when there were other kids around.  He actually hasn't invited Kid A to hang out at all after that.  Bravo!  

 UL mustard seed

It's not that we want to just hang out with people that puff us up with empty ego stroking.  It's not that we should only hang out with people that are just like us and believe everything we believe.  It's good to be stretched sometimes.  But our core circle of people should be people that are honest, and trustworthy, and fun, for sure.  More than anything, though, I want to like who I am when I am with them.  I want to be genuinely me, and still like me when I'm with them.  I don't think that's too much to ask.

Do you like who you are when you're with your core group of friends and associates?  Choose wisely because it will reflect on who you are--even if you are a person of integrity.  In the book I read, it says "bad company corrupts good character." 

Friday, December 11, 2015

I Just Fired My Kids: Part 2

Three months ago, I fired my kids.  (More on that here.) It's been interesting since then.  Their initial response was to literally follow me and take the trash bag out of my hands, or come finish whatever particular chore I was doing for them.  As expected, that lasted for about 2 days.  They were running on emotion--namely guilt.

Unfortunately, chores still need to be done...They still have to do them, but now they don't get paid at all.  Fast forward to a week ago.  My daughter decided she needed money.  A month ago, I asked her how she felt about being fired and not having any money.  Her response? Eh. She said. No big deal...until she REALLY wanted to buy something.

 I noticed she started writing down her chores on her chore chart again.  What was she doing as she stealthily walked by me. "I'm just marking my chores on my chart--even though I won't get paid for them." Hello, sarcasm. Yep. She's my daughter. We then discussed how she would need to reapply for the job she got fired from. Why should we hire her when we already fired her?  (Here's why.)

 UL sunshine yellow & italian turquoise

Well, needless to say, she made a good case for herself. She was rehired. Then I queried as to what she needed the money for.  Christmas gifts.  I probably would have given her some money for that, but then this opportunity would have been lost. She had finally made the connection that in order to have money, she needed to work. Breakthrough! I was glad I kept my mouth shut. She spent her own hard earned money to buy a gift for her brother. How cool is that?

Every now and again well have an aha moment.  When is the last time you had a breakthrough?

Monday, December 7, 2015

Parenting Failure #952,337

The martial arts are known for teaching discipline.  I often tend to think of the self-discipline that is the by-product of learning martial arts.  That was one of the benefits that I, personally, learned on my way to black belt.  It's often the lessons we learn that aren't actively being taught that are the most valuable.  Last week was, again, one of those times for me.

We were working with the kids and my daughter had decided she was mad about something.  She's normally the compliant one, but on this occasion she was upset.  Because I like my kids to behave (and me to look like a stellar, together kind of parent), I was a little miffed that my angel was making me look bad.  (I'm just being honest, here.) What I didn't notice very much was that while my daughter was acting out, my son was being genuinely helpful with some of the younger kids.  At the same time--and I'm sure it wasn't a coincidence--that I pulled my daughter aside to remind her that she should make a better choice about her attitude, my professor was pulling my son aside to give him accolades on making a great choice and to thank him for being really helpful.  Ugh.  Parenting failure #952,337.  

 UL sunshine yellow

My professor was in no way trying to humiliate me.  That's not his style, at all.  He was showing me a better way...without teaching me with words.  He was teaching by example.  Fortunately, I caught it. I'm a little slow sometimes.  He was publicly praising my son, rather than publicly embarrassing him.  Isn't that what we all want: to be recognized for our legitimate achievements and good choices rather than being embarrassed or corrected for poor choices?  I'm sure I'll be working on this one.  It's not  often enough that this is my first response.

When have you seen a great example and realized it was a great lesson to be learned?  Tell me about it in the comments.

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Friday, December 4, 2015

Do Family Well

It's the land of the bayou, hollers, and cricks  (translate: creeks for my fellow northerners).  It's the land where my husband's family hails from.  Where good ol' boys still wave as they drive by on the road. The men (and sometimes women) go hunting before breakfast, and if you're lucky, you'll have squirrel and dumplings for lunch.

That's where my family and I went for Thanksgiving week. I would be lying if I said I was completely looking forward to the trip before we left. It's just such a completely different world than we choose to live in everyday. Once we get there, though, it's good.  It isn't just good.  It's sweet.  It's family and welcoming, and wonderful, homey food.  Homemade wine and cans of beer seem to be the beverages of choice. It's not that we don't have those things at home, but somehow it's different there.

 UL pumpkin spice

I'm under no illusions that life or family is perfect there. It's not. There have been some really big bumps and lumps along the way for many of these folks. But it took one of these wise folks saying something to open my eyes to how truly special this family is. As we sat outside on the porch drinking some of that homemade wine and telling stories of loved ones and days gone by, one of the uncles piped up with his not surprised, but accurate none the less, observation of what a blessed family we are. Blessed indeed in so many ways.  I do get to say we, not because I married into the family 16 years ago, but because they have welcomed me from day 1 into the family.  They are just honest to goodness, genuine people.  They are doing family well.

How does your family do family well?  I'd love to hear some of your high points of family gatherings.  Tell me about it in the comment section below.

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