Do you ever wonder how to best show love for the ones who truly love you?  It’s one of those things I ponder over and struggle with. Am I giving in a way they are understanding?  Do they understand the deep emotions I feel in my heart?

I read the book 5 Love Languages many years ago and had all of my children and husband take the quiz. It was interesting to notice how completely different all 8 of us are in regards to receiving and giving love. From great hugs to a well thought out gift, it means something different to each of us.

If you have not read it I highly recommend it. As a quick overview the 5 different love languages are

  1. Acts of service
  2. Gifts
  3. Quality time
  4. Words of affirmations
  5. Physical touch

This adorable video is a sweet sum up of the Love Languages.

I thrive on words of affirmation and quality time.  For someone to take the time to be with me and then also express some sort of heart-felt emotion through words that lets me know they care in huge abundance. When I want a person to know how much they mean to me, I tend to tell them so. That comes naturally. I try to always tell people when I appreciate something they are doing. It’s my way of letting them know they are awesome.

As I was studying an old talk from Neal L Maxwell this morning I got to wondering, how do I show love for my Heavenly Father and my Savior?  Can love languages play a part here as well?

My conclusion…absolutely. But am I taking the time every single day to show my God, who has given me everything, how much I love Him?

The one who chooses to love will find appropriate ways to express that decision every day” Gary Chapman

Then I got to wondering, what am I currently doing to show that love?

When I take time to kneel in prayer and pour out my soul in gratitude, I am expressing my love and thanksgiving through time and words.

When I immerse myself in the words of God, I’m letting His love fill my heart and soul. And I’m also showing Him that I understand that He is worth my time.

Studying for and then delivering a lesson at church on Sunday shows my willingness to serve Him even though it might take away from things I would rather be doing.

But I know that’s not enough and I can give more.

When ye are in the service of your fellow being ye are only in the service of your God.” Mosiah 2:17

I can be aware of those around me who need something I can offer. Either time or service or a little note that says I care. I can lend a listening ear, take a friend to lunch or just offer a much-needed embrace.

Never will I be able to show Him the same kind of love He offers to me. The beauty of a perfect God is that He does know and understand what we feel in our hearts, and He sees our efforts. When we wonder if we are giving enough, we can always pray to know “what lack I yet?” What can I do more to show my love and devotion today?

The next question that came to my mind was, how do I feel God’s love for me?  It would seem to make sense that I would feel it through His words and time. But He is not going to hang out with me on my rough days, siting by my side telling me all I need to hear. Or does He?

I can recall a time when I was really struggling. I just felt so down and hopeless. The things I was dealing with felt too heavy for me to bear. I wanted to feel enveloped by my Savior’s love, but I just didn’t know what to do.

And then I heard a knock on my door. It was an older woman from church. She sat on my sofa and let me cry. She listened and understood in a way that was unique to her, because she had been through what I was currently going through. She offered wisdom that can only come with time, and when she left I went in prayer with thanksgiving. I knew God had sent her to me in my hour of need. He did not send her to give me service or a gift, because that isn’t how I feel love. But He sent her there to offer me her time and give me comfort through her words.

That was a rare occasion that I will always cherish. I believe more often I feel my Savior’s love when I read His words and they speak to my heart. Or when I take the time to really listen in prayer. Sometimes it will come through the love of another, as in my example above.

I do wonder how someone with a different love language hears and feels God’s love. If gifts is your love language, do you feel His love as you see the many gifts He has given you?

If acts of service are how you see His love for you, do you feel an abundance of love when He sends someone to your home to help with something you are struggling with?

What I do know is this, He loves us each more than we will ever be able to understand in this life. And He knows us each individually and is able to show that love in a way we will be able to understand, but we need to look for it and express gratitude when we see it. It is all around us.

Today maybe you will feel impressed to send a note or a thoughtful gift to someone you love. And maybe, just maybe, God is using you as a means to show His love for them as well. Susan

If you are interested in the book you can buy it here.

I slept in Saturday. Longer than normal. You see my kids are finally old enough to take care of themselves, and they were content to let me be. When I finally did wake up, all I wanted was to go on a hike with my people. But instead I continued to be lazy and laid in bed even longer. I started to feel really sluggish and just kind of grumpy. It’s weird how too much sleep can have the same effect as not enough sleep.

Then the thoughts of “I’m not a good mom” crept in, and all I wanted to do was eat candy while laying in bed watching a movie.

Sound familiar to anyone?


It’s a battle I fight, wondering if I am failing or not doing enough or becoming enough. I win some days. And I lose others. But I do keep fighting. I am determined to figure this out that I may teach my daughters and one day my granddaughters how to love who they are, in any situation.

So what is a person supposed to do when inadequacies seem to be staring her in the face? How do we overcome such intense negative emotions?

Here are 5 tips that can help you begin to love yourself.

1st-I have found it to be helpful to delay thinking about the negative. When I’m in a funk is the worst time to analyze what I’m doing right and wrong and how I need to change. It’s never productive or actually helpful. I seem to dig a deeper hole that takes longer to get out of. So instead, I try to involve myself in something else. Change the room I’m in, leaving the house if I have to. Read a book. Talk with a friend. Saturday I went on a bike ride by myself. When I came home the negative emotions were gone and the delay tactic seemed to work.

But then it came back Sunday afternoon, and I had no idea why. The voices came back, and I started to really believe I wasn’t enough. Now what you ask?

2nd- Here is the best tactic I have. The one I sometimes forget about and wait too long to do, pray and study my scriptures and other worthy and uplifting material. Asking my Heavenly Father to show me either His love for me or to show me my worth in His eyes.

When I am sincerely asking for His help, He guides me to the words I need to hear, right when I need to hear them. This morning it came quickly. Other times I have to search a little longer, but I have come to trust that He wants to help me but He can’t until I put my faith in Him.

“To lack confidence is to have feelings of low self-worth. We are preoccupied with our weaknesses, and we lack faith in the Lord’s ability to use those weaknesses for our good. We do not understand our inestimable worth in the eyes of God, nor do we appreciate our divine potential. Ironically, both pride and a lack of self-confidence cause us to focus excessively on ourselves and to deny the power of God in our lives.” Glenn L. Pace

I self-righteously can let myself think that I’m not good enough because I’m not trying hard enough. I profess to have faith in God but I forget Him when I am holding a pity party for one. In those moments I’m not trusting that He will teach me how to use my weaknesses. I’m simply feeling sorry for myself that I have weaknesses. I’m not seeing a daughter of God who is full of potential. I am parked in a spot of stubbornness feeling like I’ll never be able to change.

The problem with that line of thinking is that I take God out of the equation. I forget that I am His daughter, capable of more than my finite imagination can comprehend.

We are the children of God, and as His children there is no attribute we ascribe to Him that we do not possess, though they may be dormant or in embryo.” George Q Cannon

3rd- Trust the people who love you. My children are so loving. I have asked them in the past,”What do you think I do well?” Their answers can be funny and often bring me to tears. They remember the things I have forgotten. My husband seems to have blinders to my weaknesses, and if I ask him he is more than willing to tell me why I really am doing not just ok but fantastic.

When I am in a good place emotionally and spiritually I have taken the time to write down the things I believe I am good at. I made a voice memo on my phone where I recorded those statements. That was actually very difficult for me since I don’t love hearing my voice, but it has been more powerful than I even hoped. I made sure I only made statements I truly believed. So when I am feeling down, I can listen to and trust my own voice telling me why I really am doing ok.

4th- Another action I will try at times is to just let it be a bad day. I’ll tell myself, “I am having a bad moment” and then I will let that moment simply be. I won’t try to do anything with it. Just recognize that this one moment stinks and that I won’t always feel this way. The very hardest times for me are when I worry I will feel the way I do forever.

“Most people never fulfill their human promise and potential because they remain perpetually helpless children overwhelmed by a sense of inferiority. The feeling of being okay does not imply that the person has risen above all his faults and emotional problems. It merely implies that he refuses to be paralyzed by them.” Dr. Thomas Harris

What a fantastic statement. Refuse to be paralyzed by your faults. I will be writing that on my mirror later today.

5th- Utilizing my journal is one I am not very good at yet but am determined to get better. Writing down the good experiences so that when I can no longer feel the intensity of those powerful moments I can look back and be reminded that times can be good, so very, very good.

“With the help of the scriptures, words of the prophets, and personal revelation, we gradually come to an awareness of our true nature and destiny. Once we grasp this reality, we can obtain the faith to move forward and overcome any obstacle standing in our way of fulfilling our foreordained destiny–including the obstacle of feelings of low self-worth.” Glen L Pace

I feel the gradual awareness coming into my life of who I am and who I can eventually become. It hasn’t come as quickly as I would hope, but it has come line upon line, teaching me greater empathy for others along the way. Susan

If you loved the quotes as much as I did you can find the full article I took them from here.

 I have to admit, in our earlier years of marriage I allowed myself to be disappointed with Valentine’s Day. Maybe I read one too many romance novels but my expectations and understanding of a happy marriage had more to do with the world’s ideas of romance. Flowers, chocolates and fancy jewelry. Expensive well thought out gifts. But that is not who my husband is. He is so much more. And I can only hope my boys take note and strive to be like him. I pray my girls observe the man he is and look for someone just like him.

He wants to give me everything I need and want. And when he can’t I see the disappointment on his face. My needs are often put above his own. He listens to me as I talk about all kinds of topics I’m sure are not interesting to him. He truly cares about me and shows that in word and deed.

Somewhere along our journey I realized romance was so much more than a perfectly thought out gift. Gordon B Hinckley worded it perfectly

“I am satisfied that happiness in marriage is not so much a matter of romance as it is an anxious concern for the comfort and well-being of one’s companion. Any man who will make his wife’s comfort his first concern will stay in love with her throughout their lives and through the eternity yet to come.”

Because of the love and concern my husband shows towards me I want to be a better person. I want to be who he already thinks I am. I fall short all too often but he doesn’t seem to notice or even care. And to me that brings about more loving feelings on a daily basis than expensive jewelry once a year. SUSAN


Trying to get an over-tired-fussy baby to sleep used to feel hard, overwhelmingly hard. I might have shed a few tears as I prayed for peace and guidance and rest for both them and me.  But those days are gone, only to be remembered with fondness and an aching longing for the sweet smells of baby skin.

Back then I had trouble imagining the teenage years, and I was very afraid of what that would look like. Would they yell and scream at me. Would we fight all the time?  Would they disobey and rebel in ways I wouldn’t understand? Would they began to hate us as parents and wish they could just move out?

What no one told me was how lovely and desirable this phase really would be. We get to cheer them on in sporting events while we observe them trying harder than they ever have before. We watch as they learn how to become self motivated and then excel because of it. We participate in late night conversations where we start to see them as so much better than the person we are, and we cannot help but feel in awe that we get to be their parents.

And yet there are still moments that I cry out in pleading to my Heavenly Father for them. I see their suffering, and I pray that it will one day be turned into triumph. I know I can’t fix all their woes anymore. I can’t just rock them a little longer waiting for them to finally fall asleep. It’s time for them to find solutions and all I can do is offer gentle guidance and then they do whatever they feel is best. Most of all I want them to know how much they mean to me and I want them to feel deep inside their hearts.

I hope and pray that when they look back at their childhood they will know I was there whenever they needed me. But I know I let myself get distracted by technology more often than I would like, and it takes away from what’s really important to me. My little and not so little people.  It doesn’t matter if I’m talking to a friend, looking something up, or scanning through blogs or social media. They deserve all of me.

Since I am already treating Valentines untraditionally with my husband, I thought  I could give to my children something that would mean a little more.

“Your children need your presence more than your presents.” – Jesse Jackson

For the rest of this month I am going to stay off of my phone and computer while my children are home. They may not even notice my phone is tucked away or that I’m more present, but I do hope they feel more love from me. They might not even recognize why. This gift is one of time, for I want them to know they are worth all that I have to give. Susan

The best thing to spend on your children is time.” – Louise Hart

As a young girl I dreamed about being a wife and mother.  Never was a cat as cute as mine dressed in strawberry shortcake dresses while being driven in my strawberry shortcake stroller.  I was going to have 10 kids and have cookies for them every day and have a beautiful meal on the table every night when my honey came home.  I never thought things would be perfect but I don’t think I thought they would be hard either. If we were in love, then nothing else would matter and we would live happily ever after.

Isn’t that how marriage works?


Yes and no.  I absolutely adore my husband, and I feel that same adoration from him.  However, life comes at us at times, and it can feel rather heavy and burdensome.  Even more than we know how to handle.  Kids or work or church duties or any number of things can pile up all at once and just feel like too much.  I have seen the look of concern on my Husband’s face and wished I could just hold him and take it all away.  We have cried together and been there for each other and sometimes I am just too prideful to allow him to be what I need. I am striving to be a better wife and letting him be the husband I need.

 

A good marriage requires time. It requires effort. You have to work at it. You have to cultivate it.” Gordon B Hinckley

 

Valentines day this year I wanted to do something more than flowers, candy, or dinner out. While I am not above any of those things (who doesn’t love sweets and love notes and a fancy meal?)   I want to give my husband something he really wants or needs.  Not in a material way but emotionally, spiritually.

Last night we watched the movie “The War Room.” If you haven’t seen it, here is a little clip describing the movie. 

Our Father knew exactly what He was doing when He created us. He made us enough alike to love each other but enough different that we would need to unite our strengths and stewardships to create a whole. Neither man nor woman is perfect or complete without the other. Thus, no marriage … is likely to reach its full potential until husbands and wives … work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths.” Sheri Dew

While my husband and I have a happy marriage, I couldn’t help but admire the way the main character pours her heart out in prayer for her husband. That really got me thinking. Do I plead with the Lord with that kind of intensity for the man I love most?  Yes sometimes. When we “need” it. But what would happen if I prayed that way when he is already doing good?

I can plead with the Lord to give him what he needs, to help him to see it and feel it.  I can pray to know what is in my power to do to help him, to serve him and how to love him more fully.

This year I am going to give him something he will never see but hopefully will feel.  I asked him “If there was just one thing I could pray for you, what would it be?”  After much thought he let me know and then he asked the same of me.  For me that was simple, more peace and a greater sense of joy.

For the 14 days leading up to Valentines my true love and I will give to each other 14 days of pleading in deep and sincere prayer for our specific needs.  Really, I don’t think I could give him anything more powerful than God on his side.  And when he offered to pray for me the same way, I felt an extra measure of love and warm fuzzies for this man.  A heightened level of emotion I felt grateful for.

Are you up for the 14-day challenge of praying for your loved one?  If you do I would love to hear about it in the comments.- Susan

 

 

We have talked all month about different aspects of goal setting and starting the change process in our lives.  Now I’m really ready to start writing down my goals.  Sometimes I get a little over excited, and I’ll write down a big bunch of things I’d like to do differently.  It can be really exciting and energizing, which is why I do it. But I have to be really careful that I’m being authentic to myself and making goals that really pertain to my own life and development.

I do believe that it’s good to have accountability in our goals by sharing them with someone you trust, thus helping to keep each other on track. However, it can also be a bit overwhelming.

Can you guess what happens next? I listen to my friend as she shares what she is going to do, and I think “Wow, that’s really great, I should probably be doing that also” or “Why haven’t I been able to do that, it sounds really important” or “I wish I could do better like that.”  The problem with thinking like this is that now I feel like less of a person because I think I should actually be like someone else, instead of being me.

Why is it so hard to accept that each of us is in a different place in life.  My personality is different, I have a different home, different husband, different children than…. well, everyone else in the world.  While we may have some similarities with our friends and loved ones, we are each traveling a very unique and different road in life.

Susan and I like to joke that we were raised by different parents.  Even though they are the same “people” they were in such different places in their lives with each of us. When I was born, Mom was just 24, and I was her first, while Dad was still finishing college. But, by the time Susan was born, she was Mom’s last child of 4, born 10 years after me, and Dad was busy building a successful career.  (Plus there were two busy brothers in between.)

I suppose the point is that we can only live the life that we have, where it is, right now. Sometimes I’d like to go back and relive 10 years ago, but that just isn’t an option. (There’s no tardis in my life’s experience.)

My goals need to be pertinent to me, in my life now.  I know people who can run marathons or do triathlons, and I can totally admire them and cheer them on… from the sidelines.  That is just never going to be me.

It isn’t going to do me any good if I try to make my goals look like someone else’s because I want them to think I’m as good as they are. My goals shouldn’t be for the sole benefit of looking good.  They should be to help me to feel happier and more satisfied with my life.

By starting with my list of my own personal values and my “recognitions” I can begin to make a list of goals that are meaningful to me.

For example:

Value: Family

Recognition: I want to enjoy the time I have with my children while they are young.

Goals for this month:

  1. Make sure I’m holding them accountable for their chores and schoolwork.
  2. Do one home improvement project together.
  3. Spend some time each week doing something fun, just with each other.

I like to do home improvement projects with my kids, because it gets them thinking creatively, and they really enjoy feeling like they are contributing.  But that is my family and where we are this year.  I certainly wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, it’s just something we enjoy. This is an area that my goal will be very different from my friend’s.

By keeping it simple and do-able I hope to see some progress that will lead to even bigger things down the road.

Some of my other values and recognitions have much bigger goals, and for them I am using Susan’s post it board method to keep me on track.

Whatever you decide to do with your goal setting this year, make it personal, make it meaningful, and if it gets overwhelming go back to a method I talked about earlier.

When thinking about a certain goal, or action step in your goal, analyze how it makes you feel.  If you feel excited, happy or at peace, go forward with this step. It’s a good one.

If you feel anxious, stressed or nervous while thinking about this step, it may not be the right timing.  It doesn’t mean that you can’t have this goal or make this action step, it may be that you just aren’t ready.  Re-examine your recognition or value that lead you to this step, and think if there is something smaller, or simpler that can lead you in the right direction that feels a little more peaceful to you as you think about what it takes to accomplish this goal.

Any step in the right direction, no matter how small, is progress.

The goals that I set with my children in mind this month are simple enough that I feel like I can certainly work on them and not get overwhelmed. Thinking about them makes me happy.

As you work on your goals this month, I hope that you will also find happiness and satisfaction in knowing that you have the power to move forward to becoming the best you that you can be.

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There is this funny thing that can happen when we start to make changes in life.  As we think about New Year’s resolutions and making goals and what should be different this year as opposed to last, doubt and discouragement will try to sneak in.

When do they sneak in? The first time you fall back into an old habit and forget your resolve for the thing you wanted to do differently.

Good people who want to improve can also be really hard on themselves when they make mistakes. But the thing is, they are just mistakes. They are just a recognition of why you wanted to change in the first place. Mistakes are also just a stepping stone to getting to where you really want to be.  The truth is that we are all just human and we are going to make mistakes, or slip up, or just plain forget to do the thing that we wanted to do.

success is getting back up

Success consists of getting up once oftener than you fall down”

Whenever we mess up, the best thing we can do is say “oh well” and get up and try again. (It also doesn’t hurt to own up to the mistake, and apologize to anyone else that may be involved.)

Change can be difficult and it certainly can take time. It also often requires trying over and over again.

Accepting that this is a reality can help us in realizing the real truth.

Even though change is difficult… sometimes really difficult… it is absolutely possible, and the results can be amazing.“

I want to remind you of a technique that I have talked about before, to help you in a pre-emptive strike against discouragement.

As you look at your values and the things that you want to do this year, whether it is your recognition of what you want (from this post) or letting go of things that aren’t really you (from this post) start first by examining or evaluating your past for good things.

Make a list of things that you succeeded at in the past. Try to think of some things from last year, but maybe you will go back to years past.  Maybe there is something really big that you remember and feel really good about. These can be bad habits that you have overcome, or big projects that you completed. Maybe it is a relationship that is dear to you that took some work to save or build.

For some people this will be really difficult. Some of us are not used to boasting or looking for the good in ourselves. Some are afraid that this type of searching is “prideful.”

Don’t worry about being prideful in this exercise.  Pride is thinking that you are better than someone else, or smarter than the guiding you may get from the spirit. That is not what we are talking about here. Here we are looking for ways that you improved yourself, and probably helped others through these improvements. If you have trouble thinking of something, ask family members or close friends to help you. I promise there is something you have improved in, and maybe somethings you have conquered that you can feel really good about.

The reason why this step is so important is that it gives encouragement and hope to know that if we have conquered a bad habit from the past, we can do it again.

If we have learned a new skill in the past we can learn more.

If we have made a desired improvement once, we can surely do it again.

Once you have completed a list of a few things that you have been successful at, you can turn back to it and refer to it, as you make the list of changes you are now ready to tackle in your life.  As things get hard, you will find strength in the hope of change, knowing that you have already done some hard things in the past.

Our Heavenly Father wants us to grow and improve and to BE HAPPY!!  He will help us along the way, if we let Him.

The caution is that Satan knows the power of improvement that can come from us also, and he will try to prevent it any way he can. It surely scares him when strong people become even stronger. When you start to feel discouraged, know that it is coming from him. When you feel that a minor setback is a major failure, that is coming from him. His great lie of “you’re not good enough, you shouldn’t even try” will probably be thrown at you just when you are on the verge of growth and improvement.

When you start to feel this coming on, turn your focus back to the Savior.  His death and atonement is what makes it possible for us to fall and get back up again.  To continue to try, to grow, to reach for becoming the person He wants us to be and knows that we can be.  Through the miracle of repentance we can change. WE CAN CHANGE!! Even if it’s hard.  Even if it’s slow. It is possible because of Him.

I invite you to continue to work on your goals, and continue to strive for constant improvement.  Feel free to share in the comments some of the goals you are working on, and some of your past successes.

As we improve this year, we will combine to make this world a better place.

 

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In the last few weeks we have talked about making changes and moving forward in our lives in positive ways.  Susan discussed letting go of fear, and making that leap into becoming who you are really meant to be.  I (Laura) talked about letting go of the expectations of New Year’s Resolutions in favor of starting with declaring or recognizing what it is that I really want in my life.

From these two places we can start to make the changes in our lives that will be the most beneficial.

 

Today, I am deciding what my personal values are.  What do I want to be working on this year?  What is really important to me?

Values could be anything from: spiritual development, parenting, relationship with spouse, education, financial security, physical fitness, improved emotional state… and many other things.  It is personal to you and to the stage of life you are in. Your important values from last year may be different this year. It is easier for me to analyze and think about in a diagram.

This is an example of my values

Here is a blank bubble diagram of values so you can add your personal values.

These values can be even more effective if they are made more specific.  Service could be: giving more service to my neighbors.  Family could be: building a better relationship with ____. Fitness could be: feeling better about my body.

As I make my list I will analyze each area.  I consider the value and I pay close attention to how I feel inside, at my core.

Does concentrating on this value make me feel good or excited or at peace?  If so, this means I am headed in the right direction.

If looking at this value causes me to feel stress or tension or fear, it is probably not the right time for me to work on this area of my life.  It may be something to re-visit after some other areas are tackled first.

I believe that we are all meant for greatness.  There is a message inside each of us that we have for the world. Big or small, it is there waiting to come out. And when or if we can get it out, it will be amazing, not only for ourselves but also for the people we have influence over.

Getting in touch with our core values is a starting place to build around.  In his talk “What lack I yet?” Elder Larry R Lawrence said

the Holy Ghost will prompt us to improve

 

Our Heavenly Father is always on our side, and He wants us to improve and will guide us in our efforts. Allow Him to show you where He can help you grow in your life. Only He knows what we are really capable of and how much more we can grow. He knows more than any other the greatness that is in us just waiting to come out.

As you contemplate your values and the direction for your life this year, always making Heavenly Father a part of your process, you will be able to see a real shift in goals that are realistic, do-able, and can bring us into line with our true selves.

Let go of your fears, let God help you, and as you brainstorm your values and directions in your life, you will be on the way to discovering the greatness inside of you.

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A better method of improving than making resolutions

I got up this morning with the cheerful plan of putting away the Christmas decorations, organizing them all in the garage and cleaning my house.  It felt so good when it was all done, and although I miss the Nativity pieces around my home, reminding us of Christ, I enjoy the feeling of organization and cleanliness that followed.  I’m sure this clean slate feeling and the fact that it is a brand new year is the reason “resolutions” are the next logical thought.

I got so excited I searched the internet for help.  “How to clean your whole house in one hour.” “How to organize your office to work more efficiently.” “Finally get your finances under control.” “Top tips for your new best body.” “How can I go from couch to 10k?” “Start the new year with intentional mothering.”   The help is endless and the overwhelm starts to set in right…. NOW!

Resolutions are logical and seem like such a good idea. Until they suddenly become my worst enemy. Here are the reasons why they don’t work for me, and why I need a change of plan.

  1. A resolution is a resolve to change, and change rarely happens overnight.  But when I make a new year’s resolution, that is exactly what I expect to happen.  Over night from December 31st to January 1st, I expect my life to change magically to “be better at” all the things that I struggle with.
  2. It becomes overwhelming. My life is busy enough. To suddenly have a long list of more things to add to my plate all at once is just too much to even think about.
  3. Real life comes back and my “resolve” gives way to other demands. I really do want to do these new “good” things in my resolutions, but real-life demands often mean that there may legitimately not be enough time in each day for everything.
  4. When I can’t make the desired changes quickly enough, I quit and feel like a failure. No one should feel like a failure, especially if they are trying to make improvements in their lives, but that “failure” bug just keeps biting me.

So this year I have decided that I am done with New Year’s resolutions…

This year I am making New Year’s Recognitions…. What is a “Recognition” you may ask? This is where I narrow down what I really want for my life.  There are a lot of thoughts that float around in my head about how I might live a little differently, if only…. I had more time, more knowledge, more desire.  Well, they are all just thoughts until I take the time to write them down and come to really recognize what is most important to me. Once I know what I really want for my life, I can start making goals. (See this post for goal planning.)

Here are some examples of my “Recognitions”

  1. I want to be a better friend
  2. I want to be physically stronger
  3. I want a home where friends and family feel comfortable to come spend time with me
  4. I want to enjoy the time I have with my children while they are young

Can you see how these are not really goals, and they are not resolutions?  They are a recognition (or a declaration) of what is important to me and what I want personally for my life. From these recognitions I can begin to make goals that are more meaningful and have a better chance for success.

We all have something we want to change about ourselves, and sometimes it can be daunting, and sometimes it is a change that will take a lot of time, maybe more than we would like.  By keeping in mind what we really want for ourselves, the changing process becomes more manageable. It becomes a matter of doing what I “want to do” and less what I “have to do.”

I’m looking forward to writing down what I want to do, as I start my goal setting process for the year.  I don’t want to set goals based on what I “should” be doing, or what other people are doing, or even what other people think I should do.  I am learning to be true to myself and more intentional with my goal setting by taking the time to first come to the “recognition” of what I really want for my life,

I truly believe that I am setting myself up for more success on the road to making the progress I want.

Doesn’t that sound better than simply “resolving” to make change?

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It’s that time of year again where we start to reflect on who we are compared to who we want to be.  Our dreams and aspirations come to the forefront of our mind and we begin to wonder if this will be the year we finally figure it out.

At least that’s how I feel. Will this be the year I finally lose those 10 lbs, write my book, or become super present with my kids?

I am big on goals.  Over the years though I have come to see how goals work and don’t work for me. Saying I want to be skinnier never gets me there. But by coming up with a simple easy plan I am much more likely to achieve that.

Back in March I shared one way to make goals work for you. A system that uses post-it notes. You can find that back here.  Laura shared about the importance of dreaming back here.

Today however I want to focus on unbecoming.

unbecoming small

Maybe the journey really isn’t so much about becoming anything. Maybe it’s about unbecoming everything that isn’t really you, so that you can be who you were meant to be in the first place.

For a long time I have let my fears get the best of me. Fear of failure. Fear that I might make a huge mistake while trying something new, so I fail to even try. I don’t believe this is who I really am, a person filled with fear, Not really. It’s something I picked up along the way, and I have been working to unbecome afraid so that I may become more of who I was meant to be.  I desire to be more ok with failing from time to time because I recognize that is the path to success.

About a month ago Laura and I were talking about this very concept. We were discussing our fears and how they hold us back. I realized it was time I did something about it. Took the bull by the horns as they say. We thought of crazy things that scared us, like skydiving. We laughed and said “if we could do those things I’m sure that would help us overcome other fears” and then my mind latched onto this idea. I had to go skydiving. Not because it’s been on my bucket list (in fact I always thought people were crazy for wanting to do that) but because I really felt conquering one fear would give me the momentum to conquer other fears as well.

I spent the next several days stewing over this idea. I could tell it was a turning point for me. If I decided not to go it was evidence to me that fear was in control. But if I decided to go forward with it I would be given the confidence that I could do the things that scare me. So I decided to jump.

It was kind of surreal and I had no idea what I was missing. I made a real effort to be present and take in every single moment. Skydiving was the funnest thing I have ever done. Had I let my fear win I would have never known that.

When I was getting suited up for the jump my instructor said “the scariest part is simply the unknown” and so I began to wonder what else I could do. What have I been too afraid to do because I didn’t know how to do it or I didn’t know what it would look like or feel like?

I’m now working on a project I hope I can share with you in the next six months. It’s something I was too afraid to do in the past but now I’m looking it straight in the eye.

I don’t think everyone needs to jump out of a plane to start unbecoming all of the things they aren’t. Let me give you a simpler way. Something I have found to be very useful.

First you need to IMAGINE.  I usually began this process with a prayer asking for guidance from a God who knows me and loves me and knows exactly what I need. Get out a piece of paper and write down everything you wish you could do if there were no limits. Every single idea that comes to your mind put it on that paper.  Don’t judge yourself for your aspirations. Don’t worry about how you would make it happen just let your mind dream. Now think of the person you want to become. Do you want to be more patient, more kind? More giving, more faithful?  Again, don’t think of how you are not currently these things and don’t allow whatever self talk in. This is a time for dreaming and hoping.

Now set that piece of paper aside for the rest of the day. Before you go to bed add anything else you might have thought of.

The next day look at your list again. Read it through a few times. Now circle just one thing you want to do and one thing you want to become. The one that screams at you. Either it’s the scariest or the easiest. It could be the one that looks the most fun or the one you know you need the most. Listen to your inner voice and allow God to guide you in this process.  He knows what would be the very best thing for you to work on.

Two goals. If all you did this next year was accomplish those two goals, would it be worth it? I hope you are shouting out ABSOLUTELY!

Write those two goals in statements. For example: I will lose 10 lbs by May 1st. I will take my family to Hawaii by Dec 2016.

Now that you have established your two goals, you get to come up with a next action step. What is the very first step you need to take to become the person you want to be and do the things you have always wanted to do?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

If I want to lose 10 lbs do I need to join a gym first or look at my eating first?  I believe goals become overwhelming when we think of all that needs to be done before we can achieve them. So just think of the very first step. If you decide to join a gym then commit to when you are going to do that.

Here is the important part. Celebrate your victory and let that momentum move you into your next step. Now that you have joined a gym, are you going to hirer a trainer or look on Pinterest for workout ideas?

You never look farther than your next step. That way you are constantly feeling your progress instead of looking at how far you need to go. I like to use the post-it system I mentioned here because you get to see the progress you have made. If you are visual like I am, it really helps.

Are you ready to unbecome the things you aren’t so that your true self can finally shine through?  It’s as easy as taking one step at a time. Susan