What is your ‘life score’?

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michael-hyatt-quote-progress-only-starts-when-you-get-clear-on-where-you-are-right-nowDo you sometimes have trouble seeing the forest for the trees?

I seem to be in that state of mind a lot more often than I’d like.

I’ve set many goals over the years (physical, spiritual, financial, business and otherwise), but sometimes I get so caught up in the overwhelm of life that I have trouble moving forward.

Sometimes I need help to gain clarity on where I stand so I can get to where I want to go.

Most of life is a journey, not a destination, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set goals, work toward outcomes and assess our progress along the way. (That’s the journey.)

Progress, not perfection, is a phrase I’ve had to cling to when I catch myself falling back into my perfectionistic tendencies.

For nearly two years, Michael Hyatt, his team and their resources have helped me have more clarity as I work toward a more effective, confident version of myself. (I want to use my own little corner of the internet – here at To Well With You – to help you on the journey toward being the person God intends for you to be, as well.)

As Michael says, “What you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”

If you’re not already in the habit of assessing where you are, Michael’s free LifeScore Assessment will help you get started. It’s a measure of 10 interconnected areas of your life.

I just took the assessment and scored 70.

This simple tool, where I was asked to rank myself on a scale of 1-4 in 10 categories, pointed out areas where I’m doing great and areas I might need to put some more thought and time into developing (such as physical health and finances).

The results were very encouraging, because they gave me a base from which to work.

I’d love it if you’d take this quick assessment and share your results and any thoughts with me (either in the comment section of this post, or in private by emailing me).

If you’re honest with your self-assessment, you might just be pleasantly surprised at where you are, or maybe you’ll decide to reach out for more tools (accountability buddy, perhaps?) to nudge you toward making some needed changes.

We’re just four weeks (FOUR WEEKS!) from a new year, a time when many people like to start fresh and move with greater focus toward self-improvement.

Personally, I look forward to 2017 as a year to #focus and #bebrave.

What are you looking forward to in 2017 – or for the next four weeks? If you need some ideas, take the assessment and share your thoughts.

And, as always,

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Letter from my dad, 1989

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dadquote1989I’m feeling a little sentimental as I write this tonight, so instead of issuing some goal-setting challenge as we prepare for the new year or bragging about how I actually lost weight over the Thanksgiving weekend (trust me, it had been going the other way for several weeks, so I was due for some good news), I thought I’d share something incredibly special to me.

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letterfromdad1989_pg2Here’s what I wrote a few minutes ago in a “get organized”-type private Facebook group I’m a part of:

“This is what happens when you start mining through the detritus of your life. You find diamonds under all that dirt.

Thing 1: I found this letter today while clearing out old file boxes. My dad wrote it in 1989, around the time I graduated from college and was preparing to spend 2 months as a summer missionary in Guatemala. He didn’t finish the letter before I graduated, and he wrote on it some more while I was in Guatemala. We found the letter – still attached to the legal pad – after he died (Dec. 23, 1997), and then it was lost again in a bunch of file boxes. Until today.

Thing 2: A few days ago in a short burst of decluttering, I found a poem Dad wrote me for my birthday many years ago. I may post it tomorrow (my birthday) on my blog or my social media (we’ll see).

Thing 3 (but really it is the MAIN thing): God is GOOD, and he’s good ALL THE TIME. This has been a stressful year for my family, with accidents, illness, financial hardship and [other things]. My dad wrote a TON of stuff (I got my love of reading and writing from him), but these two gems were written specially for me. They give me such a feeling of being loved – by my earthly dad and my heavenly dad. If you’ve kept reading this far 🙂 thank you, and I hope it has inspired you to #bebrave and keep digging!”

So … normally I’d try to end this with some type of life lesson or challenge, but I’m going to let you come up with your own take-away. We all know we should embrace our loved ones more often and tell them how we feel. And, as we’ve just come off of Thanksgiving, we’ve read all the “I’m grateful for” posts – and that’s wonderful. (I even have a “gratitude partner,” and we email each other a list every day.)

But tonight I’m letting you enjoy the rest of your weekend guilt-free and full of my gratitude that you’re a reader here, whether regularly or sporadically. Until next time …

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Finish strong this year and get a head start on 2017

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nietzsche-claireequote2016 has been a year of challenges for my family.

Without boring you with the details, I’ll just say that, if Nietzsche and Ms. Clairee were right, I should be able to bench-press a couple of tons by now.

It’s been a tough few months.

A year ago, I set out to make 2016 my best year ever. Did I?

I’m still working on it. (I have a few weeks to go, though. Don’t write me off just yet!)

The good news? I can make a fresh start any time I want. I got off track on some of the goals I set, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to waste the last few weeks of the year in disappointment and regret. I’m using the next 40 days to:

  • Review where I am right now (the good and the not so good, the wins and the losses).
  • Refresh my commitment to those areas where I drifted off course.
  • Focus on what’s truly important.
  • Set myself up for a phenomenal 2017.
  • Finish the year STRONG!

When I set my 2016 goals a year ago (personal, professional, physical, financial and spiritual), I had significant help. I’ve been following Michael Hyatt for about a year and a half, ever since a friend from church recommended him. Since then, I’ve been somewhat of a Michael Hyatt evangelist.

Why? Because every piece of his content I’ve consumed (blog posts, podcast episodes, online courses, his Platform University and his books – most recently Living Forward) is topnotch. He embodies quality, integrity and commitment – values that draw me to him as a person and a brand. He helps me see the positive side of … well, just about everything. And he has given me some of the most meaningful phrases I use to motivate myself. (My favorite? Remember Your Why.)

So, how did Michael Hyatt help me set goals for 2016?

Among other things, it was his course called “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.” The course included a workbook and video instruction from Michael. He helps you lay out a plan for visualizing where you want to be and how to get there.

I’ll tell you more about that later, because the 2017 version of “Best Year Ever” is coming soon. But first I want to let you know about a FREE ebook that is available to you starting tomorrow, Nov. 21. (Don’t worry; I’ll email you a link tomorrow – to be sure you get the link, provide your name and email address in the turquoise and gray “Subscribe to” form on this page.)

The book is called Achieve What Matters in 2017: 8 Strategies Super-Successful People are Using Now to Accomplish More Next Year.

You’ll recognize the names of a lot of the people Michael interviewed for the book: Dave Ramsey, Lysa TerKeurst, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Tony Robbins, Lewis Howes and many more. These high achievers shared their strategies for setting up the new year for success.

I got a preview copy of the book and read it over the weekend. It’s pretty good, my friends! This book will prime you for your “Best Year Ever” and whet your appetite for what the course will help you accomplish.

TOMORROW: Download the ebook (when you get my email), and get ready to hear more from me in the days to come about “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.”

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3 tools to help you find your purpose

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hamlet quotes shakespeareWelcome to a new week! It’s been a challenging one in my family and circle of loved ones – including an epic ER visit (nine hours), multiple illnesses, physical therapy and two funerals – but we have survived and it’s a brand new day.

Before our ER visit with Mom, I had started writing a post with the famous Nietzsche quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” but I decided to move in a different direction with today’s post. (I’ll still get to that one – because I truly believe adversity makes us stronger and allows us to help others through what we’ve learned – but not today.)

Last week we talked about apps that help us find margin in our lives. This week I’d like to share some less-tangible (but arguably more important) applications to move us along on the journey to well-being. These are things that are going to require you to think about what you want out of life, so warm up your brain.

The first one is a book, and I’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating because it’s the best nonfiction book I read in 2015. Then a short video from a pastor with a different perspective on volunteering. And, third, a post from my favorite “virtual mentor,” Michael Hyatt, whom I’ve written about before.

Here are your three thought-provoking applications for this week:

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  • Boil everything down to essential vs. nonessential. I’ve mentioned a particular book several times on my two blogs: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (the best nonfiction book I read in 2015). I learned of Mr. McKeown on Michael Hyatt’s podcast, then I bought his book and devoured it. He gives a formula for how he decides what’s essential and what isn’t in his own life. I also wrote a post called “The art of saying no” (on my other blog), which wasn’t a direct result of the book but has the same goal: margin. Subscribers to To Well With You get the free PDF “8 tips for saying no graciously” as my thank you gift. (That PDF is a modified version of the one that accompanies my “saying no” post.)

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As you serve Him, you’re likely to find the greatest work God is doing is not through you, but it’s in you.” – Cory Lebovitz

  • Why is volunteering important, and what is its purpose of it in a Christian’s life? A pastor named Cory Lebovitz. followed me on Twitter last month, and I followed him back after viewing his recent Tweets and his website (I don’t follow back without checking out someone’s posts). Today I viewed his 3-minute video on volunteering, and it made me stop and think about why I volunteer and what it means. I hope this gives you something to ponder.

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Few things in life are more rewarding than marketable work fueled by passion and competence.” – Michael Hyatt

  • How to find satisfaction in your work. Pastor Cory’s video addresses volunteer work, and Michael Hyatt’s post is about finding meaning and fulfillment in the paid work you do. I’ve followed Michael for about a year and a half, and I’m so grateful to my friend Rusty for recommending that I check out his site. Michael has resources, wisdom and insight on so many topics, and I find myself seeking info from him on the regular. I subscribe to his blog and his podcast, I’ve read some of his books (still making my way through the list) and I’ve taken a few of his online courses. (More on that in a future post.) This week, you need to read his post on “The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction.” He has a podcast episode on this topic, too, and it goes into more depth than the blog post. It’s called “How to Discern Your Calling.” (It’s 36 minutes long.)

Your turn: Which of these three areas do you need to work on this week? Share with us in the comments, then schedule some dedicated time to think about it, even if it’s for just 15 minutes.

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Time to get organized – let’s do it together

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Time to get organized – let's do it together
This gives me the illusion of being organized. The blank grid in the No. 1 position means I finished something!

I used to think I was organized.

People would say to me things like, “You’re so organized.”

Proof, right?

Ha!

That was before I was juggling a full-time job, two blogs, freelance work, several social media accounts, two dogs, a husband with a chronic illness (and recent surgery for a fractured collarbone – no relation to the illness), laundry, dishes, lawn mowing, household repairs, budget maintenance (ha!), piles of paper, digital to-do lists, electronic calendars …

OK, OK, you get it.

You get it, because your list is as long as mine, if not longer. (And, trust me, that paragraph contains just a fraction of the balls I’m juggling these days.)

But pretending to be organized, and giving others the impression I’m organized, is not the same thing as actually being organized.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

What’s the purpose of “being organized,” anyway? For me, as I assume is the case for you, it’s so that I can have a bit of “margin” in my life.

Margin. Space between all the obligations, commitments, buzzers, alarms, demands, dog barks, appointments, meetings …

Margin allows us to spend more time with loved ones, relax once in a while, have a measure of control over our schedules.

So … it’s time to do something about it.

To get serious.

I’ve been researching productivity and timesaving tools this year. I’m really good at research. (If you call reading and half-hearted implementation good.)

So I’m going to start testing – in earnest – some of those tools, tips, tricks and time-honored habits.

For each one of the things I’ve downloaded already, I’m going to keep using it (more regularly, in a lot of cases) until I’m convinced it’s either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. And I’ll share with you the results – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I’ll do the detective work for you.

I may download more tools, but not until I’m convinced that what I already have isn’t going to work well and get me (and you) farther down the road to margin.

If you’d like to join me on this journey, subscribe (see box at upper right if you’re on a computer and at the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device) and you’ll get to help me decide what works and what doesn’t. We’ll figure it out together. Subscribers not only get a notification every time I post here, they get content that I don’t always include on the blog. (Private tips via email.) That may be just a quick heads-up about something I’ve learned that week or a timely notification about something that’s coming up.

WHAT ALREADY WORKS

I already have a few tools I use, love, and love recommending. Here are three you should check out:

  • For keeping track of practically everything: Evernote. It allows you to dump everything in and forget about it, because there are so many ways to find it later. (The beauty of Evernote is in its tagging system.) I keep all kinds of notes in it: articles saved from the internet, to-do lists, shopping lists, blog ideas, freelance tips … I even created my own calendar from scratch when I couldn’t find an acceptable calendar tool to integrate into other apps and sync across all my devices. Jury’s still out on my calendar, and we’ll explore that later, but here’s a screen shot of the rudimentary one I made a few weeks ago (I didn’t make links from any of the calendar items, but you can totally do that – make a link from a piece of text in Evernote to another item saved in Evernote, sort of like creating your own index). The free version is awesome, but the paid versions have features such as sharing. I created a shared notebook in my premium version with a shopping/to-do list that my husband can access (and edit) in his free account. Sweet! Free for Basic, plus three paid tiers – Plus, Premium and Business – that you can pay for monthly or annually.

organized productivity apps

  • For tracking habits you want to establish (or break): the Way of Life app. It’s the best habit tracker I’ve tried, and it’s easy to keep it up to date. It’s customizable (you get three habits, or “journals,” in the free version and unlimited in the paid version). In the screen shot below, you can see that I didn’t do yoga or strength training on any of the seven days pictured; I shredded junk mail every day except Tuesday (Tuesday is in red for No, and the other days are green for Yes); I ran only one 🙁 of my intended five days that week (the two light gray days are when I didn’t intend to run, so they don’t count as No – they count as Skipped); and I flossed five out of seven days. My longest streak is in flossing, and on those streaks I get a sweet little celebratory sound and a dot in the middle of the day tracked. (A few weeks ago, I told my hygienist I had flossed more in the previous month than I ever had. She was impressed and wanted to know more about the app!) Free for three journals, $4.99 for unlimited.

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  • For drowning out distracting sounds: the White Noise app. I’m an extremely light sleeper. My dad once commented to my mom, “She could hear a mouse pee on a cotton ball.” Noise-canceling devices have been my friends since my first job out of college: at a daily newspaper at which I worked until 2 a.m., I never – and I mean never – got enough sleep during those newspaper years. (Did I mention I’m also a “morning person”?) With that first job, I bought a floor fan and kept it turned on the highest setting next to my bed. Eventually I bought a little fan to take with me when I travel. I had a good one until a couple of years ago, when it wore out and I got one that is the wimpiest excuse for white noise that I’ve ever (not) heard. So when Michael Hyatt gave me the idea for White Noise (he’s also where I got the idea for Way of Life, and he’s an Evernote fanatic), I jumped on it. I use White Noise when I travel, instead of having to pack a fan in my luggage, and also when I’m at home trying to concentrate and there’s some distraction (such as two barking dogs or Bruce eating crunchy food 🙂 ). White Noise is a lifesaver, my friends. Free, with upgrades that I don’t use or know much about.

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Now it’s your turn. Please answer one or both of these questions:

1) Have you found a tool, tip, app or habit that makes your life better, even just a little bit? If so, please share it with the rest of us in the comments. We want to know! 2) Do you have a problem or dilemma that an app or a life hack – or maybe just a little info – could solve? Tell us what it is, and I’ll do the detective work to help you solve it.

NEXT UP: I have more tips for saving time, being more productive and having a better life (margin) – and one or two of them may surprise you.

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The Well Well Well Project – what’s for lunch?

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PrettySaladJust thought I’d check in with you this evening before heading off to bed.

I’m gearing up for an awesome week, and I want the same for you.

I have a few items on my to-do list for Monday (I’m sure I won’t get them all done, but I’ll get more done than if I hadn’t made a list).

ToDoList07112016On the elimination diet I mentioned the other day, I have attempted to set myself up for a successful week. I started the Whole 30 on July 1 (a Friday), and I’ve been on vacation since that evening. I start back to work on Monday, after a successful 10 days on the plan.

OrangeSlicesI didn’t realize it when I scheduled my vacation, but that was the perfect set-up. After surviving Day 1, a workday (I came home for lunch and fixed myself Whole 30-compliant snacky foods), I’ve been home for meals and couldn’t be more happy with the results. (I’ll tell you a couple of the things that are improving – besides weight loss – at the end of the week.)

For now, I’m sharing with you some inspiration, in the form of my lunch for the next couple of days (when I make a salad, I throw in whatever veggies and fruits I have on hand, and a lot of it comes from the farmers market); a snack (I’ll have half a boiled egg and some raw almonds with half of the orange pictured at right); and a wish:

May your week be filled with healthful, delicious food, positive thoughts and the knowledge that God loves you beyond your ability to comprehend.

Tell me in the comments: What is your game plan for this week? If you don’t have one, pause for 5-10 minutes to think about one way you could make a positive change in your life. (Baby steps.)

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The ‘Well Well Well’ Project – life declutter

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This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!
This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!

It’s time to take my “decluttering” mission seriously.

In that vein, I’m going to be painfully, brutally, embarrassingly honest.

(I can’t seem to do life any other way.)

I’m going to show you pictures. (Embarrassing pictures.)

This is such a big deal to me (and to you, I hope) that I’m giving this sucker a name: The Well Well Well Project.

I’m doing this for two people-groups:

1) Me.

2) You.

Why did I list myself first, when my purpose for this blog is to help others live their best lives?

Well, you know how the flight attendant always instructs you to don your own oxygen mask first, before you help your child or other helpless loved one do the same?

Same principle applies here: I have to help myself so that I can help you (does that make you my helpless loved one?). I can’t guide you on how to declutter your life without doing it myself first. With pictures. (Ugh.)

That’s my oxygen mask: starting the ball rolling on my own mess. It’s also how I’ll be able to tell what works and what doesn’t, what I can recommend and what you can skip, plus other helpful information. (With humiliating pictures.)

My desire is to dispense with everything that’s cluttering my life so that I can live it without regret, confusion, delay, displaced priorities or any other kind of stress. And I want that for you, too.

WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN

Here’s what I want to declutter:

  • My home (household items, personal files, finances, car and property).
  • My body (with exercise, healthful eating and weight loss).
  • My mind (family calendar, freelance scheduling, email inbox and other things that tend to stress me out on the regular). This one is the real challenge.

Most of the process involves purging the unnecessary and organizing the necessary (after deciding which is which). I have many sources to draw from (I’ve been reading declutter/organize books and articles for years), and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

This will require a lifelong maintenance plan, but let’s get the clutter out of the way first. We can learn about maintenance along the way.

I’ve already started this process in a few areas:

This chick has a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see her husband’s collection!)
That’s a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see my husband’s collection!)

1) Home: A year ago, I reorganized my bedroom closet (just mine; I didn’t touch Bruce’s). I wrote a bit about it on my other blog, including a “before” photo (above), but I never finished the whole-house project. I’ve been taking baby steps along the way (started working on a kitchen purge last month), but this time it’s going to happen – by Dec. 31. Period.

(What’s gonna be different this time? My expectations about how much I can get done at one time and how much time I have to write and post pictures about it. Also, setting a deadline makes a project much more likely to be completed – so the experts say.)

2) Body: I’m on Day 7 of a 30-day elimination diet (one that excludes potential “trigger foods” in an effort to find out what might be causing certain physiological problems). I’ll tell you more about that in a future post, but I can say that it is a CHALLENGE and I’m glad I’m on vacation this week. Being home makes it sooo much easier.

3) Mind: The best nonfiction book I read last year was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I wish I could say I had published a review of it, but that was one of my “good intentions” that I didn’t follow through on.

One of my failures to follow through involves my blogs (I’m probably cray-cray for having two, right?). For instance, I finish a great book and intend to review it, then I don’t. Or I start a great book and decide to write a multipart series on the book’s sections, then I write one post and don’t write the others (or finish reading the book). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, anyone?

Sometimes I think I have attention-deficit disorder (maybe I do), but a lot of it has to do with blogging and freelancing on top of my full-time day job. My schedule is overloaded, and my mind can’t keep up with the clutter.

BOTTOM-LINE IT FOR ME, SISTER

Here’s how I envision this project:

  • I tackle a particular area, take pictures (if appropriate – I will NOT be posting pictures of me in my underwear for the weight-loss portion), post here and on social media (this is going to get interesting) and basically humiliate myself – all for you (and, yes, for me).
  • You decide to join the fun by tackling a challenge in your own life. (Don’t worry; we won’t expect you to post pictures of you in your underwear, either.) Your challenge can be about ANYTHING you want it to be. Maybe you need to get into the habit of flossing your teeth every night (I finally started doing that this year, and I’ll tell you later about the two things that helped). Or maybe you want to start eating better. Maybe you need to start going to bed an hour earlier each night. Or cut out the late-night Oreos (not that I would know anything about that). You just pick a thing and tell us about it.
  • Or you wait awhile. Maybe you know you need to change some things but you’re not ready yet. I hear you, my friend. Change is hard (I believe I said that once before), and no one can make you ready before you’re ready. I’m here to hold your hand, though.
  • Expect at least one post a week. I’m not going to promise more than that (see? I’m learning), but I might write more if my schedule permits.
  • Let’s figure out together whether this needs to be a bigger thing: Do we need our own Facebook page, Instagram challenge, Pinterest board? Crisis hotline? Pint of Ben & Jerry’s? (Oops – nevermind that last one!)

Tell me what you want and need. Better yet, tell me what you’re going to commit to. Then you can tell me what you need.

Life is hard enough on your own; let’s do this together.

SOME RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED

Here are a few books I’ve read, apps I’ve used and websites I’ve visited over the years that have helped me along the journey to sanity. In fact, I plan to read a few of the books again. Take a look at some of them if you need help deciding what to tackle.

IT’S YOUR TURN

Ready? Your first assignment, once you’ve decided what you’re ready to tackle (something small, like flossing, or something big, like eliminating processed sugar from your diet): Tell me about it in the comment section.

Let’s do this!

(On social media – Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, wherever – use the hashtag #WellWellWellProject.)

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Primrose Hill: ‘Made better by our story’

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Psalm18-16You don’t have to be a former meth addict to appreciate the words of David in Psalm 18.

David was running from a human enemy, and the Psalm is one of thanks for God’s rescue. At Primrose Hill Teen Challenge, you’ll hear stories of rescue from drug addiction, alcohol addiction, fears and failures.

So many stories of second (and third) chances …

Jenn, who survived a methamphetamine addiction, divorce, jail, loss of family relationships and more, quotes Psalm 18:16 and says that’s exactly what God did for her.

He took hold of her:

“God’s grace and mercy started working miracles in my life. He restored my family and transformed me into a beautiful and loving woman, mother and child of God.”

Jenn is just one example of the power of transformation that begins at Primrose Hill.

PrimroseHillGraphicAt the recovery center (located in north-central Missouri), the women learn life skills, social skills, parenting skills and work skills. GED classes are available for those who didn’t finish high school, and the women are discipled in their faith.

Benefits to the children include in-home care, learning and a loving environment, according to the organization’s website.

One way the residents help the organization pay for their care is by making soaps, lotions and lip balms.

The tagline on every label: “Made better by our story.”

PrimroseHillPhoto
The folks at Primrose Hill sent me a gift set, a brochure and a newsletter telling stories of women formerly in bondage and now free from addictions because of the love of Christ and the care of those at the recovery center.

Primrose sent me a box of goodies recently in the hope that I would like them, talk about them and spread the word to my peeps (that’s you). Each woman involved in the production hand-signs each bottle, jar, bar and tube. (Lindsey, thank you for the lotion and the sugar scrub. Stacie, thanks for the hand and body soap. Krista, the Sweet Dreams bar of soap smelled … sweet and dreamy! And the Honey Bunch lip balm? Well, I guess the label was too small for a signature, but, to the young woman who produced it: hugs and kisses from me to you!)

I can’t squirt out a dollop of liquid soap or lotion, or run a bar of the Sweet Dreams soap along my arms as I sit in the bath, without thinking about the women who made them … without praying with every breath for each resident, each child, for each beautiful soul at Primrose who cares for the women and their kids, without thanking God for such an organization.

Places like Primrose change lives.

I am grateful for the soaps, lotion, lip balm and body scrub, but I’m even more grateful that Primrose invited me to be a part of its story.

So, whether you need a Primrose Hill product (no synthetic ingredients, and includes a fragrance-free option) or simply would like to make a donation and/or say a prayer for the ministry and those involved, please visit the website and look around. You’ll be encouraged and enlightened.

It takes about $2,000 per mom and $100 per child each month to operate the Primrose Hill recovery center. I hope you can help, and I know the families will be eternally grateful.

Click here to visit Primrose Hill’s website.

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3 tips for sticking with exercise when you want to quit

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Bonus tip: Exercise is usually more fun with a buddy, even when it’s your much-faster husband! (Photo courtesy of Hatch and Maas)

This morning I ran before church. I used to run early every Sunday morning, but it’s been a while, and today I had to do some convincing. It was 37 degrees, and I was cold!

I’ve been running (consistently, more or less) for about 5 1/2 years, and I’ve come up with plenty of excuses not to lace up and JUST DO IT.

Here are three tips that will help you get your franny out the door and not stop until the job’s done, even when you really don’t want to. (I use running as an example, but you can substitute your chosen activity – and I’m not talking beer-drinking marathons or Oreo-eating contests.)

  1. Don’t accept excuses from yourself. Running is 10 percent effort and 90 percent self-talk. (OK, I made that up – running is hard, and probably more than 10 percent of the equation – but you know what I mean.) I am the queen of excuses. Today I didn’t let my excuses win. (Note to self: Don’t be five minutes late to church next time you’re slaying the excuses.)
  2. Find a mantra. I have all sorts of little phrases I use when I need to keep up the effort. Nowadays they call them hashtags 🙂 but the concept has been around for ages. Some of mine, when I need convincing:
  • #IAmTough and #MindOverMatter (these two truly help me keep going).
  • #RememberYourWhy.
  • #BestYearEver.
  • #HeartToRun (since my heart surgery).
  • #WRA2016 (Bruce and I help coach the annual Women Run Arkansas clinic).
  • #ThxCoachBruce (he’s helping me get faster for a goal race in June).
  1. Believe in yourself. This may be the most important of all. Each year, when we recruit participants for the 10-week WRA run/walk clinic, the leaders meet ladies who need convincing that they are worth the effort – that taking care of themselves by getting fit is just as important as taking care of their families. If we are out of shape, unhealthy and/or self-loathing, how can we take the best care of someone else? Believe me when I say: YOU ARE WORTH IT.

I’m in danger of getting on a soapbox here, so I’ll leave you with this extra tip, which I plan to write about in greater depth toward the end of clinic, when it will be easier to quit:

REMEMBER YOUR WHY.

Remembering your “why” makes all things easier. (And if you don’t know your why, it’s time to get busy figuring it out.)

What is your “why”? Leave a comment to share it with the rest of us.

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Get yourself – or a loved one – a Road ID

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You can put whatever info you need to on the band – up to 7 lines. I have my name, year of birth (so EMTs will know my approximate age), phone numbers of hubby, mom and brother, “No Known Allergies” at the bottom of one and “Mitral Valve Prolapse” on the older bands (before my surgery). Bruce has “Run for Fun” on the last line of his, and on my mom’s I put “Diabetic.”

In the years since I started wearing a Road ID, I’ve become somewhat of an evangelist for the ID bands.

When I received my first band, I wore it only when I ran outdoors – especially if I was running alone. I got Bruce one, too.

Then I got us each a second band. Gotta have a backup for when the original one is sweaty and in need of a wash, right? By then I was wearing a Road ID whenever I ran – and whenever we traveled – and I urged Bruce to do the same.

Then, in 2013, I had heart surgery. Took my Road ID with me to the hospital, and I kept it on at all times. (You never know when they might wheel the wrong unconscious patient down that long hallway to the OR – I didn’t want them to remove a kidney when they were supposed to be fixing my leaky valve.)

By that point, Road ID was a no-brainer. I now wear my bracelet any time I leave the house. Period.

A couple of years ago, when I was buying a dress for my cousin’s wedding, I decided it was time to order a “dressy Road ID” (something besides a fabric and Velcro version that I could wipe clean easily and wear to church and nicer events and not feel so … sporty). I ordered myself a white one and Bruce a black one – both silicone bands.

So, a few days ago, when I discovered that Road ID has an affiliate program (I’ll explain that in a minute), I leaped for joy!

I believe in Road ID.

I nag people to order their own Road IDs.

I bought my mom a Road ID. She’s diabetic, and I make her wear it during travel and hospital stays.

ROAD ID COULD SAVE YOUR LIFE.

I’m not going to nag you, but I want you to understand the importance of having identification and emergency contact info easily accessible in the event of an accident that incapacitates you. I’ll let the testimonials on the website speak for themselves.

So now I’m an “affiliate” of Road ID. This means that if you click the Road ID ad on my page (at this writing, I have it as a banner on top of the page, but I might move it to the right sidebar in the future), or this link, and you make a purchase, I’ll get a small commission.

I would never endorse – or become an affiliate for – any company or product that I didn’t believe in wholeheartedly.

Ask my friends how long I’ve been singing the praises of Road ID, and nagging them to get one (or two, or three – they’re not pricey).

A long time. And I only got approved as an affiliate yesterday.

So … click the link, pick out a custom band for yourself or a loved one, or buy a gift certificate and explain to the recipient the importance of this gift … and gain a little piece of mind.

You can buy a band for your wrist, your ankle, your shoe … there are lots of options, my friend. Lots of colors and designs, in case plain black or white bores you. There’s even an interactive version, in case you want to sign up for an annual membership and be able to update your info electronically any time it changes.

Ordering a Road ID is worth the small investment of your time and a few dollars, especially when you consider the pricelessness of a human life.

Just do it. You’ll be glad you did.

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