Incomparable. . .Indescribable. . .Amazing!

Maya continuing her tradition of topping the Christmas tree with her daddy.

Maya continuing her tradition of topping the Christmas tree with her daddy.

I witnessed and lived miracles in 2012.  It was a year so amazing that I never could have predicted it.  Two major miracles were that I had a successful open heart surgery followed by an amazingly quick recovery, and that I left the world of full-time employment to follow my passions.

My amazing family. Poor babies are tired from too much Christmas shopping!

My amazing family. Poor babies are tired from too much Christmas shopping!

When I think of 2012, I think of the lyrics to my favorite song, “Indescribable” as sung by Kiki Sheard:

“Indescribable, uncontainable, You place the stars in the sky and You know them by name, You are amazing God.
All powerful, untamable, awestruck we fall to our knees as we humbly proclaim, You are amazing God.

Incomparable, unchangeable, You’ve seen the depths of my heart and You love me the same, You are amazing God.
You are amazing God.”

My photo doesn't do this beautiful Christmas tree in Orlando justice.  It was huge!

My photo doesn’t do this beautiful Christmas tree in Orlando justice. It was huge!

God is incomparable, indescribable. . . simply amazing.  And I am humbled that He cares enough about me to be intimately involved in the details of my life.  I’m awestruck that He loves me enough to make everyday miracles in my life.I am looking forward to 2013 and waiting expectantly for more miracles!

What are you expecting for 2013?  I know you will experience amazing miracles this year!

Nuggets of Gold

This pen and pad have become my constant companions.  And I do mean constant.  I carry them everywhere — in my car, at my dinner table, next to my bed.  And those very rare times when this pad of paper is not with me are the exact moments when I come up with a new idea or a new angle to write from.  Since I’m a freelance writer, these new ideas are like nuggets of gold falling from the sky.

I love my pen and pad because to me they symbolize new ideas –a constant flow of new ideas that sometimes come so quickly that I can barely capture them.  I love my pen and pad because it wasn’t always this way.  A few years ago my mind was as dry as the desert when it came to new ideas.  I longed for fresh business ideas but all I could see was dust and tumble weeds.

Then suddenly I’d get an idea and I’d write it down.  And then I’d contemplate it, looking at it from all angles.  And I’d contemplate some more until I’d overanalyzed it and planned it to death.  But never, ever would I act on it.  And then it would be another three months before I‘d get a good idea again.  Back to tumbleweeds and dust.

I’d think to myself, “Why do some people always get these amazing ideas that result in successful businesses?”  I’d wonder if it was because of their great networking skills.  Maybe their ideas were generated from interacting with other people.  Or maybe it was from their specialized training.  After all, I didn’t go to business school and sure didn’t have the patience for a master’s degree.  Then one day I realized why my new ideas were rare and far between.

Ideas come from action.  My inactivity was sucking my creativity dry.  I believe that great ideas come from God.  So why would He keep downloading into someone who never made His ideas come to life?

So I got busy.  Every time an idea popped into my head, I’d write it down and (gasp!) act on it.  Even if it wasn’t perfect, I’d get moving.  I could work out the details as I went along.  And amazingly, as soon as I got moving, another idea would come along.  So I’d get moving again.  Soon the ideas were flowing as if the faucet had been turned all the way on.

Now that I’ve discovered the secret, I’m never at a loss for writing angles or business ideas.  I just keep moving and catching those nuggets of gold falling from the sky.

Do you ever have a problem generating ideas?  What’s your secret to keeping the golden nuggets coming?

Making It Happen

Every since I’ve been a mom, I’ve had two burning desires – to have my own business and to live a balanced life.  In my ideal world, I’d be able to use my skills to make a living on my own terms while balancing motherhood and family.  And every since I’ve been a mother, these two goals have seemed more elusive than world peace.The main reason that these goals were so elusive is simple.  I NEVER truly spent any time making them a reality.  Sure I’d talk about them and I’d fantasize.  I’d even toy with crafting a business plan or two.  But I really focused ALL of my energy on the 9-5 grind (which of course, was always much, much longer than 9-5).  I was a good employee, because I would give my body, mind and soul to my work.  But I was always a frustrated employee.  Frustrated because I was achieving someone else’s goals and not my own.  Frustrated because work always seemed to take precedent over my family and my sanity.  Frustrated because at the end of each long work day I had no energy left to make my dreams come true.But then life changed in April when I chose to leave my job to take care of my health and make my family a priority.  Although I knew that I made the best choice, it was a scary time for me.  Obviously it was scary dealing with a major health issue, but it was also scary to be facing unemployment.  Because no matter how frustrated I had been on the various jobs that I had, I’d always had a nice strong safety net underneath me.  And honestly, the safety net wasn’t just about money.  While I loved having my very own steady paycheck, the reality was that my husband could easily support our family.  The safety net was in knowing that my efforts resulted in something worthwhile and productive – something of value to the world.  Now for the first time I was without a safety net – just dangling over an idle sea of ”what ifs” and “hope you make its”.But I’m pleased to say that I didn’t dangle long.  Having surgery showed me how fragile life really is.  Tomorrow isn’t promised, and I want to live a life with no regrets.  After I recovered from surgery, I actually started hunting for freelance writing, editing and communications opportunities.  I ordered business cards.  I told my friends about my new business.  I outlined my target audience and started a business plan.  I even went online and inquired about opportunities with online magazines that I follow.  I actually put the time and energy into making my business a reality!

And shockingly, people responded!  Friends gave me writing leads, and I received responses back from my online inquiries.  AND I nabbed my first freelance writing opportunity!  Now that I’ve stopped fantasizing and spending my time building up someone else’s business, I’m actually on my way to having a successful business of my own!  I’m actually making it happen and I couldn’t be prouder of myself.

So what’s standing in your way?  What’s keeping you from making your dreams happen?  Are you frustrated enough to make a change?

Those pesky foxes

Have you ever been so busy dreaming about living the life of your dreams, that you didn’t realize that you were ALREADY living the life of your dreams??  Or maybe it’s just me!Well this summer, I woke and up realized how very blessed I am.  I have a lot to be thankful for.  My husband is amazing.  And I’m a parent, which was something that I worked for and prayed to be for years.  I’ve gotten a major health battle behind me.  And now I’m living the flexible work-from-home schedule that I always wanted, while launching my freelance writing business.  On top of all that, I’m surrounded by wonderful friends and the world’s best church family.

So why did it take me so long to see how great my life is?  I think it was because I’m easily distracted by the small things.  You know – those little annoying things that can suck the joy out of life if you let them? For me, these little things have come as a part of adjusting to island life.  Instead of seeing Nassau, Bahamas as a tropical paradise, this little American girl felt imprisoned by the island inconveniences that were working my nerves.  All it took was a random power outage, unreliable cell phone service or a cultural misunderstanding and my joy was gone just like that!  I was spending far too much time daydreaming about the opportunities, friends and conveniences that I missed at home.   I was spending way too much time clicking my heels and waiting for the American fairy to swoop down and take me back to my comfort zone.  By the way – the whole “clicking heels” thing only resulted in sore heels.

Somehow this summer, I woke up and realized that life was passing me by – and it was my fault.  I was focusing on the small things that don’t matter at all.  I was overlooking the beautiful beaches of Nassau and the quaint hometown feeling of everyone knowing your name.  Once I started focusing on what matters – my family, the new friends that I’m making, the direction that I wanted my career to go and most importantly, my relationship with God – my world brightened up.  It’s as if a dark veil was lifted off of my window and now the sunlight is streaming through.  It feels great to see this bright, sunny world full of possibilities.

Now I’m making a conscious effort to get over those little annoyances that seem to wait like little evil ninjas wanting to attack my joy.  I’m confident that I have what it takes to squash these little buggers and enjoy the blessings of life here in Nassau or wherever life may lead.

The Song of Solomon talks about “the little foxes that ruin the vines.”  I had let island life become a little fox ruining my blooming vine of life.  But I’m sure that I’m not the only one with a fox in the vine.

What about you?  Are you living the life of your dreams?  What are you letting hold you back?  And when will you take control of your own joy and dreams?

Quietly Remarkable

I have been blessed to know many fabulous women.  I know divas, fashion plates, and movers and shakers.  But the women I admire most are those quietly remarkable forces of nature.  You know – the ones that don’t make a big fuss but manage to do amazing things while making it look effortless.  These women seem to be driven by some invisible force to make a difference in their little piece of the world.   These aren’t your flash in the pan, one-hit-wonder type of chicks.  No—these are remarkable women who consistently show class, grace and strength even under tremendous adversity.  Whenever I feel overwhelmed or wonder if I can make a difference, I look at their lives.  I look at them and know that by persevering I can be like them.

Over the years I’ve studied these ladies (mainly because I desperately want to be one!) as I’ve tried to learn the secret to their success.  Here are a few things that I’ve learned:

  1. These ladies are consistent.  Every day they get up focused on their end result.
  2. They’re not easily shaken.  These ladies seem to understand that even though bad things happen, there will be a brighter day and the sun will come out.
  3. They’re giving.  Ever notice how selfish women usually find themselves lacking in all areas (time, money, resources, and friends)?
  4. They’re transparent.  They don’t mind you taking a peek into their lives, even at the not so glamorous parts.  After all, they know that keeping it real can strengthen someone else who is going through.
  5. They are genuine.  They genuinely care.  They genuinely love.  They genuinely make a difference.

I do want to be one of these women.  And I want my daughter to be one too.  So every day I’m working on it.  And I’ll continue working until I achieve my goal.

What characteristics in other women do you admire and aspire to?

Bye, bye Superwoman

I had the opportunity to be a speaker at my church’s women’s conference last weekend.  While I was there I heard an amazing presentation by an even more amazing woman named Erin Brown  (ww.erinbrownconnects.org).  Her topic really slapped me in the face.  It was “I’m Not Your Superwoman.”  Can you say “Wow!”

Her presentation talked about the pressure that we put on ourselves as women to be everything to everybody.  Hearing her presentation made me reflect on my recent decision to be a stay-at-home mom.  For years I’ve been a “superwoman” juggling career, community involvement, church obligations and family.  This year the juggling act became overwhelming.  I knew that I was getting out of control when I found myself working at home ALL the time.  My 5 year old daughter began complaining that I was always in a meeting.  My husband and I were ships in the night passing on the way to our next work meetings.  I felt out of whack and unhappy.  And we all know the saying “When mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy!”

It was hard tearing myself away from a career that spanned over 15 years of nonprofit management.  But for me it was the right choice.  I’ve made a personal decision to put my family first, and for me that means staying at home, doing part-time consulting and managing the family full-time.  It’s not a decision for every working mama, but it works for me in this season of my life.  It gives me time to really be there for my family, pursue goals that I’d put on the shelf and forgotten, and most importantly take time for me.  I’m a firm believer that we women are amazingly strong.  We’re stronger than we know — but we all have our limits.  The reality is that Superwoman is a burnt-out, overloaded, crazy woman who rarely puts her needs first.

Ladies, the superwoman myth is just that – a myth.  We CAN do it all, but just not at the same time.  It’s time that we start reprioritizing and making decisions that work for us.  Forget the world’s expectations.  Life is short and at the end we all want to look back and know that we spent our time where it counts.  For me reprioritizing meant being a stay-at-home mom.  For you it may mean letting go of activities that waste your time.  Or it could mean abandoning your career to pursue your true dreams.  Or maybe it just means reserving a weekend every month just for you.  Whatever it means, it’s time to put what’s important to YOU first.

So are you ready to burn the S on your chest and replace it with what really matters?

We All Need Sisters

It’s now 3 weeks after my open heart surgery and I’m feeling stronger than ever.  I have God to thank, and the motivation of my two extremely fabulous sisters.  These chicks didn’t just motivate me – they kicked my butt in gear as only a sister can!

Nicki, my youngest sister, came to Nassau despite her busy work schedule and stayed with me for a week and half.  Not only did she cook great meals for my family and take care of my (often unruly) child, but she motivated me (actually she forced me) to take a brisk walk every day.  I absolutely hated every moment of these walks.  Walking after a major surgery takes a lot of effort. But despite my protests and attempts at procrastination, she was there every day badgering me like a pitbull until I would get my butt in gear.  And for this I thank her.  It’s because of her constant hounding, that I’m almost back up to my normal walking speed now.

My other sister, Felencia, came for four days.  It was four days of sheer laughter and joy.  Every day she’d say something like “To have just had surgery, you look great!” and “You’re doing great!”  She affirmed me so much, that I started to believe her words.  I think her words somehow made me stronger.

Most importantly, they both made me laugh until I thought I’d split my poor little chest stitches.  I can’t tell you how many painkillers I popped just because of too much laughter.  But I’m convince that laughter is essential for healing.

I’m so thankful for sisters who lift me up when I’m down, and give me the nudge I need to keep going.  Do you have women in your life that keep you encouraged?  If not, find some quickly.  We all need “sisters” to make it through this unpredictable life.