A simple trick to lower stress and be more present

IMG_3684It can be so easy to rush from one thing to the next with a million things on our minds, constantly thinking, “What time is it? What time is it?”

And not only is it easy to be busy and rushed, it’s often worn as a badge of honor. “Look at me, I’m so important.” Or, “You think you’re busy, let me tell you my story…”

But this only gives us a false sense of significance and leads to stress and not being present. For me, I need to make a conscious effort not to “start” work before I actually start work. To not be checking the clock and thinking of all I want to get done while I’m listening to my three year old.

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Scheming Dishes, Red Taillights, and Silence

The taillights which had stopped red in the night just ahead of me seemed for once a relief. Traffic. Silence. Stillness.

The red glow of the lights jolted my sluggish and congested mind. Even traffic is a gift when children are sleeping.

Not twenty minutes earlier I had wisked my two littles into the backseat of our car and out into the cold. The house had gotten too wallish. The ceilings lower than what seemed humanly possible. Could I even stand up straight in there?! I think the dishes were even scheming and planning to multiply as I closed the door behind me.

We were going out. Anywhere.

In the quiet drive that followed, I felt myself unravel. Life always flashes before me in these moments, the wild beauty and mystery of it all.

It’s amazing how quickly silence does this to our spirits. We unravel when there is finally nothing to distract, or pull at us. We unravel when we give ourselves room to think.

We unravel and step back and think about how well we are loving and living out our one precious life.

Sometimes we think every moment needs filling, but it truly doesn’t. Or, sometimes every moment simply gets filled by default.

Either way, silence is what brings back fulfillment and refreshment.

Silence is like a mirror and though sometimes it is incredibly hard to look into (because when we look, we see ourselves and our lives all laid out bare) it is wildly important to do so.

In the silence we have no place left to hide and all we can do is look at who we have become and what we have done with our lives up to that point.

We need the silence because we need to look at whether we are making an impact, leaving a legacy, loving well, forgiving wholeheartedly, and living with courage and generosity!

As I drove home that night my spirit felt lifted. In the small space of silence I had, I became thankful for all that my life holds right now, both good and bad, easy and hard. They all have a purpose. Nothing is wasted in this life.

Even my dishes had stopped their scheming and multiplying as I walked through the door and the ceilings had grown upward by at least 2 feet, I am sure!

Silence offered me a gift that night, and it offers the same gift of refreshment every time I choose to embrace it.

Have you let silence unravel your spirit recently?

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When life is flying on by (6 ways to counter this)

Recently, I’ve been thinking about how in all our busyness, life can seem to fly on by at breakneck speeds. I find myself thinking things like, “Wait, it’s the end of the month already? I thought the month just started!”

It’s then I realize that I’ve probably had my head buried in something for too long. I’m not fully present and it’s making the days fly on by. It could be that I have my head buried in my work, a house project, or just all the weekly activities I’ve committed to. Either way, life is flying on by and I look up wondering where it’s gone.

In trying to counter this, I noticed it makes a huge difference when I allow time for things like introspection, reflection, reading, and silence.

And the irony is that the less we feel we have the time for these things, the more we actually need them. It’s the days where everything seems to be going crazy and that we need to go go go that we’d benefit the most from slowing down.

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The Rules of Coloring, or Why Perfect is a Perfect Place to Hide But a Terrifying Place to Live

A few days ago my son and I were drawing and coloring an imaginary town on a neatly flattened cardboard box.

The town had a scenic road which curled past houses, lots of trees, and even a stately brick church with a gold bell hanging from it’s steeple.

It was perfect (and I was perfect for having drawn it with him).

I was really proud of my (I mean our) town. And as I finished drawing some trees, I asked my son to start coloring them for me. “Sure mom,” he said as he grabbed a nearby purple crayon with his still chubby 3 year old fingers and proceeded to scribble (I mean color) all over the tree I had just finished drawing. Continue reading

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I Just Made My First Dollar on Amazon!!!

IMG_1571 copyI just made my first dollar (well, $4.02 to be exact) from the book I wrote and put up on Amazon!!! (!!!!!)

Finally seeing a spark of progress on something you have worked very hard on and offered to the world (with shaking hands) is truly encouraging!

For about 2 years now I have been experimenting with creating a source of income that is fairly independent of my time and completely independent of my location. My Braces Made Easy book is the finished product of one of those experiments.

(I also recently started, and am still building this site.)

I really love being involved in bringing in an income for our family, but I also don’t want to be working every day while trying to care for two small children. Thus, I’m trying things that enable me to combine both.

The projects that I enjoy pursuing are helpful, simple, scary, (Seth Godin talks more about scary, simple projects in this podcast) and use my current abilities and interests.

My goal with them is that they keep me stepping out and trying things and keep me moving forward.

So, who knows where they will lead. Who knows if they will work, or not work, but I’m trying something. Great beauty and growth come from trying (I have to remind myself of this often!).

Tell me: Is there a scary/simple project you could start to get you moving in the direction you would like to go? Or, perhaps you have started one already. Please share!

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Joanne Miller Answers 6 Questions About Her New Book

Joanne Miller934840765, along with Dorsey McHugh, recently released their new book, Be Your Finest Art. It is a book packed with pictures, quotes, and stories of how everyday people (including me!) have awakened their creative side and have been radically changed!

Because I think the message of this book is so important, I asked Joanne if she would be willing to do a little interview about her new book and her views on creativity. Continue reading

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Doing brave things

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My friend just started blogging again after a two year break. It was brave of her to pick up her pen again! It takes courage to do brave things, and most of us aren’t willing to try, or keep trying.

I’ve noticed, however, that something amazing happens when we decide to push aside the fear and questions, and try things. When we step out and start doing brave things we actually start to feel brave! And when we feel brave we have a tendency to do more brave things!

The cycle repeats and momentum builds. Continue reading

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Heads with holes

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Do you know why I blog?

I don’t just write here because I want to share my thoughts, I also write to get the words to stay in my own head.

You see, we have heads filled with holes when it comes to thoughts and ideas. When we read or hear something that resonates, we tend to forget most of it within a short amount of time, even if we really want to remember it. But, when we write, the words bypass our holey heads and go deep, they stay, they sink in.

The more I juggle and wrestle with ideas and carve out words from a tree of thoughts and write them here, the deeper the words are carved into my own heart.

The more I write, the more I believe what I say. The more I believe what I say, the more I live it out.

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I’m not that generous

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While getting ready to pay for our groceries today, my son overzealously set some of our items on the counter before the woman in front of us was finished checking out. She immediately pushed our items out of the way so they wouldn’t mix with hers, and said “I can’t pay for those things, I’m not that generous!”

She then started digging through her purse and mumbling (I wasn’t sure whether to herself or me), “I would really like to be more generous but I can’t, the pocketbook only stretches so far you know!” Then she packed up her items and left.

Her comments got me thinking.

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Writing Needed

Friends, it feels good to be back! I stepped away from writing for about 3 months while having our 2nd baby, and I have missed it incredibly!

Being away has only affirmed the importance of writing in my mind. I have heard some say there are eyes in pens and pencils, and how true it is! I am convinced we never truly get to know the deepest part of us (the part which begs to be known) until we consistently put ourselves in a quiet place and write. You can finally hear your soul there.

We become dried up, see through, and crusty individuals when we can’t hear our soul.

Words unwritten pile up inside. And when they find no healthy escape, they take on ugly character traits and leak out. They come out as angry, fearful, restless, and confused words.

They come out as words we don’t really mean, and often regret.

Words, whether spoken or thought, direct our entire life. And if we long to do anything of great value with our lives, or be anyone who leaves a legacy, it is vitally important that we know what words are going through our minds.

Writing gets the real stuff out and onto paper where we can stare it in the face. We need to know what we are really looking at before we can change it or unwrap it.

Writing is by far the best way I know of to get inside your own head and heart and figure out who you are and why you are here. It is the most exciting adventure you will ever embark on!

Question: Do you write? How has it changed your life? 

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