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Have a Mindset of Courage

"I am not afraid. I was born to do this." Joan of Arc

Joan of Arc was only seventeen when she was inspired to take massive action.

Daughter of a poor French farmer, she believed God had chosen her to lead French troops in an ongoing war against England.Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

Her first step in this unlikely journey was to request a meeting with the man in line to be King of France. Miraculously, she succeeded.

She cut her hair, dressed like a man and went to battle with men.

Even though she successfully led French troops in battle, she eventually faced charges of witchcraft and heresy.

At the age of nineteen, her own countrymen convicted her of dressing like a man and she was burned at the stake.

What must it have taken for her to begin? To answer the call?

Surely, she had her doubts. Her internal dialogue might have gone something like this:

“That’s stupid. I’m going to leave my farm and go request a meeting with the king? Yeah, right! I’m just a girl! They’ll laugh at me and call me crazy! And besides, my family needs me. I can’t just leave them. Who’s going to do my chores?”Photo courtesy of pixabay.com published on strong-woman.com

She showed tremendous courage when she answered the call.

Certainly she could’ve ignored it or talked herself out of it. She was human, after all.

Few people have that kind of courage. To ignore doubt and say, “I’m not afraid.”

That’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Someone once said:

Fear kills more dreams than failure ever will.

Fear of:

change

hardship

struggle

pain

rejection

abandonment

the unkown

failure


Everyone’s afraid of something at one time or another. Fear is normal, and powerful. It can be hard to get past it.

Instead of letting fear paralyze you, shift your focus.

Focus on what you have to gain by taking action, instead of focusing on what you have to lose.

Instead of thinking, “What terrible things might happen?”, consider, “What wonderful things might happen?”

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Shift your focus.

What could you do if you weren’t afraid?

Joan of Arc, a young peasant-girl, in early fifteenth-century France, was inspired by her belief that God was calling her to action.

And she exhibited incredible courage when she answered the call, stepped away from her traditional role, left her family, went to war, faced trial by her own countrymen, and died by fire.

Even after 500 years, her story is incredible and inspiring.

Have a mindset of courage, instead of fear, and you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.

For more information about Joan of Arc, read Britannica.com – Saint Joan of Arc

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Why Oprah’s Message Matters More Than Her Weight Loss

January’s the time of year when you can’t get away from commercials for gyms, diet programs, and diet pills.

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You may have seen Oprah’s new commercial in which she gives us an itty-bitty glimpse of her life and shows off her 40 pound weight loss. If you haven’t, you can watch it here.

It’s hard to say what effect the new commercial will have on Weight Watchers’ sales, because that’s the real objective of this ad campaign.

Increased sales or not, congratulations to Oprah! She’s lost 40 pounds! That’s a great accomplishment. And yet, she doesn’t look thin, slender, or super fit.

What’s the selling point? Other than Oprah saying the product is great.

The underlying message here is to live well while losing weight without feeling deprived.

If you’ve watched Oprah for a while, you know that she’s struggled with her weight for years. Imagine having that kind of history and doing this program publicly.

It took courage for her to put herself out there and make herself vulnerable, even if she is getting paid for it. And even if she is Oprah.

No, she’s not skinny.

Has she reached her goal? Does she really cook her own food? (Really?!)

Is she okay with her current weight and ready to maintain it?

For anybody who’s ever lost weight and then gained it all back, you know that’s the hard part.

 

I heard this advice years ago and it’s changed my way of looking at losing weight and dieting: “Pick a weight loss plan you can live with to maintain a healthy weight, not just to lose weight.”

That’s the tricky part – maintaining a healthy weight.

The secret? Find what works for you and then make it a lifestyle.

For me, low-glycemic eating put an end to years of yo-yo dieting. Read more about yo-yo dieting and low-glycemic here.

Oprah’s message is about more than losing weight and being thin.

It’s really about making healthy-living a lifestyle.
Being happy and healthy.
And then getting on with the business of living your life.

Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t the easiest thing to do. But it’s do-able and well worth the effort.

Does seeing a celebrity endorsing a weight loss plan or product motivate you to try it? I’d love to hear your take. Feel free to post in the comments below.

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Believe In Yourself and In Your Dreams

She believed she could, so she did.

It’s a simple, but powerful statement.

Powerful because it tells a story about a woman who had a goal and, because she believed she could, she accomplished her goal. She realized her dream. Yay! Happy ending. But wait.

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We get the beginning and the end. What’s in the middle?

The details. Those moments of doubt and fear. The setbacks, the sacrifices, the battles. The victories she faced along the way. The people who stood by her. The people who didn’t. How she’s changed and what she’s learned. Those moments when she wanted to quit, but her belief kept her moving forward.

This story is for you and me. What can we learn from this incomplete story?

She believed she could, so she did.

If she can do it, so can you. So can I.

Is it enough to know the beginning and the end? Do you need to know the middle parts? What the highs and lows will be?

The unknown can be scary. Don’t let that stop you…

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let your belief be strong enough to get you started and carry you on the road to reaching your goals, realizing your dreams.

Wishing you a happy and healthy new year!

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How to Set SMART Goals and Make Your New Year’s Resolutions stick

As the end of 2016 quickly approaches, there’s more talk about New Year’s resolutions and setting goals for 2017.

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A common approach for setting goals is to set SMART goals.

What’s a SMART goal?

SMART is an acronym for

S – specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – reasonable

T – time specific

Setting SMART goals is a simple way to set goals in any area of your life, such as fitness, health, finances, professional, personal, family, etc.

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Here’s an example of a SMART goal:

I want to lose 5 pounds by Valentines Day 2017.

Specific – Lose 5 pounds

Measurable – Get on the scale and current weight minus 5

Attainable – Valentines Day is February 14 so that’s 6 weeks from January 1 so that would be slightly less than a pound a week. Yep. That’s attainable.

Reasonable – A pound a week seems reasonable

Time Specific – February 14 is my end date

Even if you’re long term goal is to lose 50 pounds, meeting short incremental goals like this will add up. So in mid-February, plan on setting another goal:

I want to lose 5 pounds by March 30, 2017.

If you were to stay on that course for the year, by the end of the year, you’ll have lost more than 40 pounds. That’s significant!

Here’s an example of a Non-SMART goal:

I want to lose weight in 2017

“lose weight” isn’t specific enough and 2017 doesn’t make it a timely goal.

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Here’s an example of a SMART goal in the area of personal finances:

I want to pay off a $1000 credit card balance by June 2017.

S – The specific goal is to ay off a balance of $1000, taking into account interest and other charges

M – It’s measurable because by June 1, 2017 I’ll either have a balance or not.

A – Is it attainable? Come up with an action plan so you can decide if you need to adjust your goal.

Realistic – Creating a plan of action will help you decide if it’s a realistic goal.

Time Specific – June 1, 2017 is specific.

Also not a SMART goal.

I want to get a new job and make more money.


Yogi Berra once famously said:
If you don’t know where you are going, you might wind up someplace else.

Yogi Berra

When setting goals, it’s important to write them down and not keep them floating around in your head. The process of writing them out helps make them real so you’re more likely to commit to them.

Set goals for things you’re ready to work for and not things that you wish would happen. Focus on areas of your life you’re ready to improve and that are really important to you.

Once you’ve got your goals set, come up with a plan to reach them. There are a ton of people and resources to guide you if you need help. Remember to take it a little at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.

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Reflect on the past year as you look forward

As you look forward to the new year, also take some time to reflect on the past year. What were some good experiences? S

ome not so good things? What did you do that you loved? How did you overcome a challenge? How did that make you feel?

Remember that the negative tends to stick out in our minds and the good stuff tends to blend into the background. Look at pictures from the past year to help jog your memory. When you look at the tough times, think about how you handled it, how you got through it, and what you learned.

I hope you accomplish all your goals in 2017 and that it turns out to be a fantastic year for you.

Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. I’m truly grateful for time and attention.

Blessings!

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Dream of the finish and then get started

Mindset Monday

Whatever it is you desire – whatever you wish were true for your life, believe in yourself, dream of the finish, and then get started and keep going. One step at a time. Rain or shine.

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Start and then keep going.
Go the distance

The conditions for the annual San Antonio Rock and Roll Marathon and Half Marathon were miserable this year. It was cold and the rain was constant.

Even so, people of all different fitness levels and ages showed up to run the 13 or 26-mile course.

It’s hard to imagine running that distance being soaking wet from head to toe. There’s no way to stay dry. Those athletes could’ve stayed home and said, “Yeah, that’s gonna be horrible. I’m not doing that.”

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One step at a time

But they didn’t. Everyone out on that course made a decision to show up at the starting line and run the course, one step at a time, one mile at a time, until they crossed the finish line.

Truly awesome.

Isn’t the same true for any goal, aspiration, hope, or desire?

Dream of the finish line, but don’t expect to start there.

The only way to cross the finish line is to cross the starting line.

In between, you’ll need determination, grit, commitment, and action. When things get tough and uncomfortable, stay strong in your belief.

And then keep moving forward. One step at a time; one mile at a time.

Amazing things are accomplished by those who start and then keep going. Rain or shine. There’s no reason it can’t be you.

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How to Stay Committed to a Healthy Lifestyle

Have you been wanting to lose weight? Maybe you need to gain weight? Are you concerned about your health? Do you have a pretty good idea what to do, but you’re having trouble getting started? Or, do you get started just fine, but can’t stick with it?

Maybe you’re skipping the first step.

The first step – and it’s a doozie – is to commit.

Yes, a nutritionist can teach you about nutrition, a trainer can tell you what exercises to do, a doctor can tell you how much you should sleep and hydrate, etc., but those are really the details about “how” to get healthy and that is secondary to making it personal so that you’ll stick with it for life. You need to make a rock-solid commitment to yourself, a hard and fast pact to live a healthy lifestyle so you can be healthy, strong, and the very best you can be for the rest of your life.

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Take the first step to a healthy lifestyle – commit.
Committing to a healthy lifestyle means you’re in it for the long haul; you’re choosing good nutrition for life, not a temporary quick fix diet; you’re choosing to improve your level of fitness; you’re willing to take the good with the bad and you’re going to stick with it even when “life gets in the way”. It’s different than wanting it or wishing for it. Committing means you’re willing to do the work and you accept that no one else can do it for you.

Here are some tips to help you take that first step and then stay committed to yourself and your healthy lifestyle:

Be grateful for your body and all that it does for you.

No matter how much you weigh, your current level of strength, your current aches and pains, etc, embrace your body with gratitude for all it does for you every day. When you value your body it helps you value your health and valuing your health means you’re more likely to stay committed and make healthy choices now and in the future.

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Evening Run
Treat yourself like the treasure you are.

You’re one of a kind. No one else is like you in this world and you’re meant to do more than “get by” or just “survive”. Believe you’re a one-of-a-kind, exquisite creation and treat yourself like the treasure you are by committing to take care of yourself in the best way you possibly can.

Love yourself; love your body.

One of the most iconic images of Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel is the “Creation of Man”. If you’ve been to church or Sunday school, you’ve heard that we are created in God’s image. That’s truly awesome and humbling. The human body is amazing. Stop and consider for one minute all that you do every day without even thinking about it – how you move, think, breathe, create, decide, etc. Don’t take your body or your health for granted.

Michelangelo's "Creation of Man"
Michelangelo’s “Creation of Man”
Make your health a priority.

You’ll always have obligations that require your time and focus – spouse, kids, job, family, etc. That’s a given, and it’s a good thing! Don’t use those obligations as an excuse for not taking care of yourself. Stay committed to a healthy lifestyle and put yourself on your priority list.

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Take a few minutes of quiet time each day.
Stop and be silent.

Connect with yourself and your thoughts whenever you can throughout the day – no radio, phone, television, computer. Try meditating by focusing on nothing but your breath, even for 5 minutes a day. Don’t have 5 minutes? Make it 3 minutes. Seriously. Shut your brain off and be silent. It may be hard at first but it gets easier. Quieting your mind is a great way to keep focused and balanced.

Accept yourself as you are today.

We get older, we age, we may have days when we feel like our bodies are falling apart and it’s tempting to feel discouraged about graying hair, wrinkles, middle-age spread, and saggy skin. A wise person once said, “Do not regret growing older. It’s a privilege denied to many.”  Celebrate every day and do what you can to stay healthy, strong, and vibrant. The best anti-aging strategy is a healthy lifestyle. Stay committed.

Happiness and health start with you. No one can do it for you. It would be great if we could have some one else to do the work, figure it out, and fix it for us. Maybe a temporary fix is possible, but for long-lasting results, it has to be a lifestyle. And the first step is committing to it. You’re totally worth it. Now, just do it.

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Book Review: ‘The War of Art’

At a recent work training, a few of my peers and I chit-chatted about various things and we started talking about what we’d really like to do with our lives – what we want to do when we grow up. We each talked about our aspirations and dreams we’ll pursue some day. But when?

How does a person get from the desire to do something to going for it and just doing it? To taking a leap of faith and getting out there?

War of Art CoverSteven Pressfield’s The War of Art answers those questions and serves as a call to action, starting with the section entitled, “The Unlived Life”. He writes, “Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.”

Pressfield’s book is a non-fiction manual of sorts in which he calls each of us to do what it is we have been called to do, for which we have God-given gifts, and it is our responsibility to use them: write the music; paint the scene; write the work; start the business; improve your health, spirituality, education, etc.

What I love about the book is that he explains his theories with stories, interpretations of other works of art, and personal anecdotes. He also develops a cast of characters in this work of nonfiction: Resistance, the muse, and the person who will bring forth the work (artist, genius, entrepreneur, etc.) and identifies the conflict between them. He writes, “Any act that rejects immediate gratification in favor of long term growth, health, or integrity. Or, expressed another way, any act that derives from our higher nature instead of our lower. Any of these will elicit Resistance.”

Pressfield presents his ideas in a deeply spiritual way so that the reader is left with the understanding and knowledge that whatever calling, gift, talent, inclination to a higher calling we have is not of our choosing. He calls it “genius, in the Latin sense of ‘soul’ or ‘animating spirit’. It is a gift that requires action from a human being to express it, to make it real.

The beauty of this book is that it describes Resistance with the knowledge of experience. He’s identified it, totally called it out for us. Like any formidable foe, Resistance has many devices, disguises, forces that work for it. He knows Resistance because he’s seen it. When I heard his description of Resistance, I knew that I’d seen it too and, in fact, see it every day.

The War of Art is philosophy, psychology, analysis, how to guide, and a little autobiography. Pressfield presents his discovery in an effort to enlighten us all to do our work, to know all about Resistance in all its forms and to get busy anyway.

If you’ve ever wondered why you do what you know isn’t good for you instead of doing what you know is good for you or if you’ve ever procrastinated, caved to peer pressure, talked yourself out of an awesome idea, or been paralyzed with fear that prevents you from getting started, The War of Art will help you battle Resistance so that you can begin living your “unlived life”.

3 Songs and a Message

The other day on my way to work I had an unexpected reaction to a string of songs playing on the radio. The songs were “When I Was Your Man” by Bruno Mars, “Fight Song” by Rachel Platten, and “The Heart of the Matter by Don Henley.

When I heard “When I Was Your Man” that morning, I’m not sure what it was, but it’sBrunoMars as if I listened to that song for the first time, even though I’d heard it before. I was touched by the powerful sense of regret and anguish in Bruno Mars’ voice. Even though the song is about a lost love, it got me thinking about regret in my life and brought to mind something I’ve thought about a lot lately. For years, I didn’t listen to something inside that told me, “You want to write. So write.” It made me sad to think that it may be too late for me.

The next song started with the quiet opening line, “Like a small boat on the ocean, sending big waves into motion…” and I knew it was “Fight Song” with Rachel Platten’s amazing message of resilience and belief. I felt encouraged. I cranked up the volume and sang along at the top of my lungs. Yes, I got it! I feel like she does when she says, “I still got a lot of fight left in me.” There’s no time for regret. I have to believe and it’s not too late. Yay! I felt better.

Then Don Henley – “The Heart of the Matter” flashed on my radio info screen and I heard the opening chords and something happened to me at that moment. Now let me say that I know this song very well because when I was going through a particularly rough patch many years ago, this song helped me through it and the message has stayed with me ever since. So when I heard the opening chords and saw the title, something inside me snapped. Suddenly, tears came to my eyes as I drove down a very busy road on a Tuesday morning before sunrise. The tears came and I couldn’t stop them. It was as if a floodgate opened and I could not go on driving.

I pulled into a parking lot and parked under a lamppost as the song played and I cried more. He sings, “I’ve been trying to get down to the heart of the matter but my will gets weak and my thoughts seem to scatter but I think it’s about forgiveness.” There it is. My message for the day. My gift that morning. My truth. My comfort. My spiritual hug.

When I was finally able to get myself together, I took a deep breath and got back on the road. The sun had started to light up the sky, making the clouds a fiery red. What a beautiful picture. It looked something like this.Sunrise

I smiled and thanked God for all that had just occurred. I accepted that string of songs as a gift that gave me the message that I needed that day: Forgive myself (and others) for words not said and things not done. Move on. I’m on the right track. It’s only too late when I’m gone, so keep going, stay strong, and believe. 

I’m telling you this story because I thought you might need to hear the message too. I know it’s not easy, but whatever it is you have in your heart, go after it. It can be scary, I know, but that dream, idea, or passion is there for a reason. It’s not too late, and no one else can do it for you. It has to come from you.