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“We must let go of the life we have planned, so as to accept the one that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

We all start out life with ideas about what our life ultimately will look like. And those plans, obviously, don’t envision the bumps in the road or the tragedies that each of us inevitably will face.  We picture the future, we see only love, success and great friendships.

But if you’ve been on this earth for any significant amount of time, you know that life doesn’t go according to plan. Instead, we make our plans, and then we encounter the unexpected.

This is true for everyone. Once you accept that fact of life, believe it or not, it is liberating.  You no longer have to believe that your divorce or lost opportunity was karmic retribution for some past misdeed.  You also don’t have to live under the false idea that the whole world has it easier than you do.  They don’t.  (Into each life a little rain will fall.)

And once you accept that no one’s life goes according to plan, then the difference between successful and unsuccessful people becomes clear: Successful people are good at handling disappointment. And that means that they get past disappointments quickly.

I know people who talk about a divorce or the death of a loved one as if these events happened yesterday – except the event happened a decade or more ago. And then they choose to make the pain of that experience part of their current existence.

But that isn’t how God wants us to live our lives. It is reasonable to experience pain at the time of a loss.  However, it isn’t reasonable to keep reliving that loss over and over again.  God didn’t give us the ability to wake up this morning in order to feel the pain of an experience that we had 10, 15, or 20 years ago.  That is a waste of the day that we have been given.

I don’t know why God allows us to suffer. And I don’t know why we choose to hurt each other when we are so very blessed.  These are questions I cannot answer.  For instance, I don’t know why my first marriage ended in divorce. And I don’t know why my parents had a terrible marriage which led to my having a chaotic and stressful upbringing.  All of that seems very unnecessary to me.

But all of that is in the past. None of that is part of my present.  My present is a life with a wonderful second husband, a great daughter, an inspiring church family and, so far, good health.  I have a mini-zoo in my home, with a dog, a cat, and a dwarf bunny, all of whom provide me with amusement and affection.

My past has nothing to do with my present. It is over and done with.  My focus is on today and the future.  That is how I live every day.  I don’t need to dwell on the past because I have accepted that my life doesn’t always go according to my plans.

In fact, in some respects, my life has gone better than I ever could have planned. God has had a funny way of turning my negatives into positives.  I’ve just had to stay faithful through His process.

If you have disappointments or tragedies from your past that you are still holding on to, let them go. No one’s life goes according to plan.  We all have periods of pain and suffering in our lives.  That is part of being alive and on this earth.  So don’t allow your past to define who you are.  If you woke up this morning, then God has blessed you with another day to enjoy and savor.  Make the most of it.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

My book, The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother, is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.  If you purchase a copy, please consider writing a review.  I would be delighted to hear your feedback!

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“Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.” – Author Unknown

The older I get, the more I learn that your quality of life is not dependent on what you have been given. Rather, your quality of life is dependent on what you choose to create.

Every day, we are creating our life. We are choosing how to spend our time, and with whom to spend it.  We are choosing what words to say out loud, and which ones to keep inside our heads.  We are choosing how to care for ourselves, our loved ones and our homes.  And with all these choices, we are creating our life.

The act of creation always starts with a vision. Otherwise, you aren’t creating.  You are just reacting.  That is why it is so important to envision the life that you would like to have.  If you don’t take the time to do that, you will end up spending all your time meeting the demands of others.  Or else you will spend your time doing unfulfilling activities.

For instance, mothers can easily end up down the wrong path in this regard. As a mother, if you don’t take control of your free time, your children gladly will fill it with ways that you can “help” them.  Your free time then will be consumed with cleaning bedrooms, making lunches and supervising homework – all tasks that children should be doing on their own after the age of 10.

Our free time also can be filled up with mindless activities when we don’t know what else to do. So we end up wasting our time watching television, surfing the Internet, or doing online shopping.

Creating a good life requires you to be intentional with how you spend your time. You should be spending your free time doing things that give you pleasure or satisfaction.  But first you have to figure out what it is that you enjoy doing!  For instance, I enjoy reading, writing, going to church, ballroom dancing and playing my flute.  On days when I am able to incorporate at least one, if not more, of those activities in my day, I feel quite good.  However, if my free time gets consumed with serving other people’s interests, or if I spend too much time on the Internet, I feel frustrated.

That is why you have to guard your free time for the precious commodity that it is. We all have parts of our day that are spent doing things that we have to do.  Most of us have to earn money and do basic household chores.  And if we have children, we have caregiving responsibilities, as well.

So, our limited free time is precious, indeed. But our free time is where we have the opportunity to create our lives.  As a result, the questions you should be asking yourself every day are these:

What kind of day am I creating today? Will I fill it with unnecessary errands or mindless television watching?  Will I fill it with surfing the Internet or with hours on social media?  Will I spend my time arguing with others and feeling frustrated?

Or, will I do something with my time that I truly enjoy? Will I listen to beautiful music, cook an elegant meal, or read something spiritually uplifting?  Will I enjoy nature by taking a walk or gardening?  We have so many beautiful choices as to how we can spend our free time.

The bottom line is this: We choose what kind of life we will live. Yes, there are external factors that can affect our circumstances, such as illness, the economy, the behavior of others, etc.  But so much of the quality of our lives is in our hands.

How we choose to spend our free time is in our hands. Whether we allow the rudeness of others to ruin our day is in our hands.  Whether we spend our time with kind or unkind people is in our hands.  And the choices that we make in those areas determines the kind of life that we will live.

This week, consider whether you are making the right choices so that you can create a good life. Make sure to be intentional with how you spend your time.  A good life doesn’t just happen.  Rather it is something that we create.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

My book, The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother, is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.  If you purchase a copy, please consider writing a review.  I would be delighted to hear your feedback!

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This past weekend, I attended a family wedding. A lot of time and money went into this event.  It paid off.  The ceremony and reception flowed flawlessly.  It was a perfectly orchestrated event.

We expend a lot of effort on events like these – weddings, graduations, baptisms, etc.  And that’s all good.  There is nothing wrong with a celebration.

But so often we leave these events feeling a little hollow. I think we feel that way because we were hoping that the event would generate one of life’s Big Moments.  The problem is that you can’t pay for Big Moments.  You can’t plan for them.  They aren’t the product of a catered functions or glamorous trips.

Life’s Big Moments happen unexpectedly. They come out of nowhere and catch you by surprise.  They aren’t something that you can create.

For example, when my husband had surgery last summer, things did not go according to plan. While we were at the hospital, we didn’t have time to process what was happening.  All we could do was react to the situation as best as we could.  But afterward, we had a very honest talk about the stress of the experience and how grateful we were for each other.  That conversation was a Big Moment, and one that I will never forget.

Last year, my daughter competed at a ballroom dance competition. She performed a waltz with her partner to a gorgeous, lilting piano piece.  It was surprisingly magical.  She looked so beautiful and elegant when she danced.  The performance simply took my breath away.  Another Big Moment.

I wish we could pay for Big Moments. I wish that every penny spent on vacations, fancy dinners and outings yielded an appropriate number of Big Moments.  Unfortunately, life doesn’t work that way.  Vacations are opportunities to relax and sight see.  Dinners out are opportunities for good food and conversation.  Nothing more.

Big Moments occur when we least expect them to. They are moments when we experience unexpected beauty.  They can happen when we have a candid conversation with someone in which we share our deepest feelings about how important they are to us.  They can happen when we look at our spouse, child or friend, and realize how empty our lives would be without that person.

Big Moments are the ones in which we feel so blessed to be alive at that very moment, that it is almost overwhelming. How can we mere humans possibly create such moments?  We can’t.  They are gifts from God.

So, spend your time and money to enjoy life, to celebrate important occasions, and to give yourself opportunities for rest and relaxation. But know that the Big Moments that we all seek are not something we can pay for or create.  All we can do is to be exceedingly grateful when they occur.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

My book, The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother, is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.  If you purchase a copy, please consider writing a review.  I would be delighted to hear your feedback!

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“Healthy discontent is the prelude to progress.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Society tells us that we should count our blessings. We should have gratitude journals and focus on all that we have.  And that is all good.  We should feel grateful for what we’ve been given.

But as the quote above indicates, there is nothing wrong with “healthy discontent.” Healthy discontent is what motivates us to improve ourselves and our circumstances.

Without that nagging feeling that life could be (and should be) better, it is easy to stagnate. That nagging feeling is what propels us to improve our health, our relationships and our careers.  That discomfort is what drives us out of our comfort zones to make positive change in our lives.

I always have a certain level of discomfort. That discomfort drives me to work hard at my job.  I don’t just want to remain where I am.  Professionally, I want to keep getting better.  Likewise, I always have a certain amount of discontent about my home.  That drives me to always try to improve it by making it more functional or aesthetically pleasing.

My feelings of discontent about my job and my home don’t mean that I don’t appreciate them. It is an incredible blessing to be able to work and be paid for one’s efforts.  That is no small thing.  Similarly, if you live in a safe place, with running water, heat and air conditioning, you are incredibly fortunate.  These are not things to be taken for granted.

However, at the same time that we are grateful for what we have now, we also should be striving to improve. God gives us resources and talents not only to be used, but to be grown.

So, if you happen to be good at playing the piano, God’s intention is for you to continually improve your skills. If you have been blessed with a home, God expects you to care for it, and to continually work at making it a lovelier place for you and others to enjoy.

The same holds true for our personal development. If you have areas in your personality that need improvement, your attitude shouldn’t be, “Well, I am who I am.”  You should want to constantly be improving.

For instance, I can be very impatient. And I feel discomfort about that character flaw.  As a result, I work hard to try to overcome that flaw by at least not expressing my feelings of irritation simply because I have them.  I know that this is an area in which I need to improve, and I’m not willing to just remain the same.

When we feel discontent about ourselves, as I do with my issue with impatience, we have to be honest with ourselves. It is easy to make excuses for our bad behavior, and to push the discontent about our character flaws down.  But we need to face our discontent head on and say to ourselves, “I am not perfect, and I need to work on this.”

I would argue that when we feel “healthy discontent” that is God speaking to us. God is saying to us, “This needs to improve.  You can do better than this.”

This week, consider whether you have a healthy discontent in your life. Have you become so settled in your job or your relationships that you don’t see regular improvement? Does your home and financial situation remain the same from year to year?  Do you have a character flaw that you wish you didn’t have?  If so, you may feel a nagging pull to create healthy change in your life.  Don’t ignore it.  Take steps to address your areas of discontent and keep improving your life every day.

(Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

My book, The Secrets to Success for the Working Mother, is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.  If you purchase a copy, please consider writing a review.  I would be delighted to hear your feedback!