Category Archives: Thinking

90 days later!

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I began the AIP (Auto Immune Protocol) diet in January & my original intention was to only follow it for 2 weeks until our Greatest Loser Weight Loss Challenge at work ended. After the 2 weeks, I extended it for a month. It’s suggested to follow the plan exclusively for 90 days as an elimination process identifying triggers that exacerbate auto immune symptoms. In my case it was excruciating neuromuscular pain from fibromyalgia & osteoarthritis unrelieved by any measure I attempted. I never thought I’d ever make it for 90 days! 

I can honestly say that 90 days later I’m ever so grateful for the challenge & sacrifice of well loved foods. I feel so much better, have lost weight, have increased my energy & activity related endurance levels. I still have to respect knee pain, but am not limited because of constant neuromuscular pain. 

People asked how I could possibly resist some of my favorite foods & my response was easy. When people have peanut or other allergies that cause untoward reactions,  they live their lives purposely & consciously avoiding those triggers. My pain was so intense I wanted to have lab tests & X-rays performed to determine what the culprit was. Those who know me well knew this was extreme because I avoid this at all cost. Constant, continuous, unrelenting pain is my allergic reaction! For years, as a nurse, I took care of patients who had diabetes, renal, cardiovascular, or other disease processes & couldn’t understand how they could be so non-compliant with diet & exercise. I would be instantly irate when they nonchalently responded, ”everyone has a vice & eating or smoking is mine.” Or, ”everyone has to die, so I’m going to eat what I want, take extra insulin or my doctor can just prescribe a stronger blood pressure pill.” Really?? Really. They were consciously aware of what made their disease progress quicker, were already experiencing debilitating side effects & refused to take control of it because of simple pleasures. In my case, simple pleasures were stealing quality of life from me & I couldn’t allow it any longer. 

Most of our lives we’ve heard the saying, ”We are what we eat.” During my childhood we raised all our own vegetables; had abundant access to fruits & berries; raised cows, pigs, & chickens for meat, dairy & eggs; plus we dried corn for grits, cornmeal & even made our own hominy. We also fished & hunted! Veggies & farm animals were raised & grown as organically natural as possible, then canned or cooked without additives or preservatives. My parents used wild herbs such as sassafras root, mullen tea, pine needles, & other natural sources for medicinal purposes. We lived off the grid before it was popular! Later in life, choices of fast food, preserved everything & foods severely lacking any nutritional value were my daily diet. Even after giving up fast foods & being careful to stay away from preservative laden foods, I developed systemic pain. 

For many, many years the only dairy products I consumed were cream for my coffee, kefir & yogurt. When I ate cereal I only used soy milk.  After watching the documentary,  Food, Inc., I boycotted soy bean products because of Monsanto. I began drinking rice milk then converted to almond milk. My pain was confined only to arthritic joint pain manageable with large doses of daily Naproxen Sodium. What was healthy about this picture? Once I was introduced to the fermentation evolution, I began making my own yogurt & kefir to use in my daily smoothies. I tried making them with almond or coconut milk & never got the consistency I liked, so I purchased an amazing ultra processed, lactose free, extra calcium dairy milk. My yogurt & kefir was very delicious. What could be wrong with that? I would’ve never related my increase in pain to this had I not participated in the AIP diet. Also….for many, many years I never considered myself having an intolerance to gluten. When someone mentioned gluten intolerance I automatically assumed it was digestive related, such as Celiac disease, & knew this wasn’t my problem. Ignorance wasn’t bliss on my part regarding gluten effects.  Once I learned, through my fermentation education, that the gut is as important as the brain & plays a mirrored correlating role in our health, I realized gluten affects us in different ways. I never ate much bread, but had recently been consuming a fabulous, healthy brand maybe once or twice weekly. Then….. although I was careful not to comsume a bunch of carbs, without readily having the label to review, gluten is mixed in many common foods we aren’t aware of.

90 days later has helped me realize I love AIP & while I may introduce some foods back in, I intend to continue this practice as a lifestyle. I’m allergic to excruciating pain, lack of energy, & limited mobility! If you experience any auto immune disease related symptoms, I strongly recommend you read this article & begin the AIP diet. 

Life is just what me make it & I was making myself sicker. 

Blessings, 

g

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Measurements…

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There are many ways to measure success.  Materialistic measures are most visibly noticed.  We’ve seen, however, this is not an accurate measurement. Unless you know that the person is debt free, pays cash for said materialistic pleasures, lives a complimentary lifestyle portraying character & integrity……this measurement is merely a mirage. 

Reading has become one of my favorite pastimes & early in my TEAM LIFE System Book of the Month years, a great book came down that, to date, I normally have in my trunk.  The book? Critical Choices, authored by Dan Castro  – a fellow Texan.  This book  portrays choices men & women made against all odds.  Many of  their choices & creations we continue to enjoy.  We travel in airplanes that are not supposed to exist & they just landed on Mars!! We drive Eco-friendly,  flex-fueled or electric cars that were laughed at! Many enjoy gadgets preposterous to most cultures & etc. Hotels are built into the atmosphere, or out of ice.   Talk about successful accomplishments!  Another book of the month that depicts how people pushed through tremendous odds is Dance Until It Rains by author Vic Johnson.  As you read, each chapter personally resonates  within you .  

A more common measurement many of us endure on a regular basis are naysayers or critics.  I gauge business ventures on leadership & only surround myself with the best of the best.  Why should I consider the number of critics as a measurement?  Hope.  Yes, that’s right, hope.  A critic surfaces when you challenge their belief & will be your best cheerleader.  They have to be right regardless of  what you can prove. It’s all about them! In the moment, their fury & their hurtful or unnecessary words never sound cheerful or welcome.  In the end, when you win, not only did hope in yourself prevail, but there is hope for them.  Our worst critics may be family, friends, acquaintances or people you’ve just met. We all have them & lets face it….they’ve been around for eons.  Jesus could do nothing in His own home town.  He mentioned to the disciples to shake the dust off their feet & walk away from certain circumstances.  There is also a scripture that warns us not to give that which is holy to dogs or cast our pearls before swine.  People didn’t receive or respect Jesus. They are not always going to receive or respect us regardless if we offer Christianity or business opportunities.  Don’t take it personal, but continue to walk in what you feel is worthwhile.  Attacks generally don’t happen to people who aren’t attempting to make a difference.  Kudos to you! 

I like this quote concerning criticism: 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; because there is not effort without error and shortcomings; but who does actually strive to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement and who at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly. So that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” – Theodore Roosevelt

There are a few amazing books I would suggest for you to adopt for personal victories;  Resolved: 13 Resolutions for life by Orrin Woodward, Slight Edge by Jeff Olson, & The Compassionate Samurai by the late Brian Klemmer.  I truly believe once you obtain a personal victory & silence inner criticism, limiting beliefs, or self sabotage, you can endure any external sources.  

People may never exhibit the courage to do what you do.  Even if it’s just barely tolerance in the beginning, love them anyway.   Measure your success, not so much in the number of critics you accrue, but the number you offer hope to in the end.  

Blessings, 

To escape criticism: say nothing, do nothing, be nothing”   –Elbert Hubbard

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Winning-vs-finishing

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In light of the Olympics taking place right now in London, our morning devotions were centered around a very familiar passage of scripture.

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.

-1Tim 4:7

ImageMany times the end result focuses on whether or not we win or lose.  Olympians train for years in hopes to receive a gold medal. They are not celebrating a piece of gold valued around $10,000.  They celebrate what years of preparation has done in them as individuals, for their team & their country. They would never trade that for anything!

In life, each of us have fought good fights, although they may have seemed pretty bad at the time!  We have finished a particular course & in no way does this measure whether or not we won.  Finishing a race or course, regardless of the difficulty endured, speaks volumes of us as individuals.

We can look around & see how many people have not finished any course.  Let’s face it…..America is filled with “given-ups” not grown-ups.  Once we endure a struggle, trial or test, we look back & realize it helped define how strong we truly are.  Win or lose, not giving in or giving up is the most important trait to possess.

Keeping the faith is not as easy as it sounds.  I’ve got amazing friends who have endured traumatic experiences & have completely relinquished faith.  Not just relinquished faith in God, but faith in people/humanity, trust, Christianity,  & worst of all….themselves.  This truly grieves my heart.

I want to take a moment to congratulate you the Olympians for their extraordinary accomplishments.  Mostly I want to congratulate you for fighting when you feel like you don’t have another punch left, finishing when you feel like quitting every day, & keeping your faith in people who love you, a God who will never leave you & most of all…..the phenomenal person you are. I love the picture used in this blog. The London Bridge represents what happens when you finish your race.  You gain wisdom, sometimes born of pain, & strength.  You can bridge the gap & pass the torch to someone who is experiencing their own fight or battle.  Run, finish & keep the focus on what your victory can portray for others.

We may not always win, but we can always finish.

Blessings,

g

Why take the 90 Day Mental Fitness Challenge??

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While reading one of my favorite “cyber mentors” blog this morning, Bob Burg discussed having a weak or strong team is a direct result of leadership who surround themselves with superior people.   Of course my experience has been extremely positive.  As with all good resources, his blog got me to thinking.  Trust me, you want to associate with people who cause you to think, not just think tell you what to think.  Here was some my response:

Of course Bob you know my greatest examples are Orrin Woodward #6 & Chris Brady #11 on the World Leadership Guru Top 25 List!! Their examples have definitely trickled down & continue to saturate throughout our entire organization. I listened to a CD by Orrin yesterday back to back because it totally resonated in so many areas. Since 2006 I’ve become a hungry student in so many areas. Who would have ever put a conversation about politics or economics with me in the same room, much less contributing to & enjoying it! 😉

I went onto thinking how following such men & women of influence have impacted many areas of my world.  Without this association, I don’t want to even begin to imagine where I would be.  I would’ve never developed a passion for reading or taught my singles Sunday School class out of “You Don’t Need A Title To Be A Leader” by Mark Sanborn. Through those principles, our band of singles had the most leaders within the adult ministry structure!! This was ministry, what about family? How does something like this affect family?  Because our organization has a top 5 book list, I was able to refer “Personality Plus” to my daughter, Summer, in an effort to deal with my beautiful, strong-willed, granddaughter.  Shortly after, Summer & husband, Russell, pastored a church in Arkansas where other TEAM biz partners happened to attend. They decided to teach a weekly  adult class on personalities in an effort to develop better relationships within the church. This past weekend I suggested my daughter re-read the chapter on cholerics!! Said granddaughter is now 9!

One of my favorite family examples comes from my son.  Summer married a few years after my divorce leaving Bryce & I to live at least 14 years discovering the glorious ins & outs of single parenting.  My only regret is not having been exposed to all the amazing information I now have access to during those painful experimental years.  Anyway….. back to my favorite example right?  I was driving to Arkansas to spend Christmas with  Summer when Bryce called me. We had celebrated Christmas early & I gave him 3 books with an assignment to read, write book reports & he would get the remainder of his Christmas gift of cash. He wasn’t happy, but loved cash!  He chose “The Anatomy of Peace” by the Arbinger Institute as his first book. During this call, his first question to me was, “Did the mom & son characters in this book remind you of me & you?”  I spent the next 2 hrs. of my journey conversing with him about the book.  This made the trip better not just that the roads were dreary, dark, & icy, but I just loved discussing it with him.  He renamed the characters with people he associated with in his every day life enabling him to relate to it better.   His full-page book report was amazing & stated everyone in the world needs to read this book.  Of course I carefully chose that book because it taught me a valuable lesson on how to communicate with Bryce. I was obviously failing & falling short in that category!  Sadly I must admit, I was the character of the mom to a “T.”

Story after story follows in how books, CDs, & associations with quality leaders have helped thousands develop character, integrity & the fortitude necessary to not only cope & survive, but develop other leaders & thrive.  Marriages have been restored, families have been strengthened, finances have been controlled, debt irradiated & much, much more.  My life has completely changed.  I strive constantly & continually to improve developing  into the person God designed me to become.

Charlie “Tremendous” Jones (fabulous books too!) stated, “You will be the same person in five years as you are today except for the people you meet and the books you read.”

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.– Charles William Eliot

Recently LIFE launched, what we believe to be, the most brilliant expedition yet!  The testimonies discussed in the paragraph above are multiplying across the nation.  Average people have accepted the challenge & are realizing this is an asset they can use in every area of their lives.  I encourage you to take the 90 Day Mental Fitness Challenge.  After taking the self-test, order the pack which includes three phenomenal books & thought-provoking CD’s.  During the 90 days, you will associate with amazing people through Challenge groups & experience for yourself the opportunity for a  lifetime of change.  It is only the beginning of change & as I came to realize 6 years ago, will be the greatest decision you ever make.  We are quick to engage in fitness for our bodies, while neglecting our most valuable asset, our minds.

I hear people all the time saying, “You can’t change the way things are, just accept them.”  This statement tugs on my last reserve of self-control forcing me to answer with emotional intelligence…nicely!  Together we can begin to change ourselves & assume responsibility for change within our family.  As a family we contribute to the change of our community.  The effect of change within communities will infiltrate into our towns or cities.  Cities taking responsibility & instituting change are catalysts for causing change within our state.   States will reinforce such change through influence with other states.  As a whole, states will bind together & foster change within our nation.  Nations will unite wherefore changing our world.  When we look at the HUGE picture it can be overwhelming.  When we practice incremental changes as defined in the book, “The Slight Edge,”  change occurs.  I didn’t do this purposely, but doesn’t this sound like how our precious United States became the resilient nation it is.  A few brave men & women accepted their duty to change so others, you & I,  would experience freedom & liberty.  Can you institute this challenge in your church?  Support group?  Book club?  Of course you can!  As one of my favorite historic characters stated: “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.” Sir Winston Churchill.  Legacy can begin with you!

Be the ripple & pay it forward.

Blessings,

g

Enroll in the 90 Day MFC, using # 61244967

Who are we not to?

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ImageBeing involved in a leadership development organization allows me the opportunity to utilize otherwise wasted time to invest in my self-directed education.  Let’s face it, we all lead busy lives.  I inventoried the time I have in a 24 hour period & determined where I could cut activities out which do not get me closer to my goals.  I love listening to music.  Pandora is currently playing my favorite genre selections of ’80’s, soft rock, country & instrumental right now.  In the morning while getting ready for work was time I could carve music out of my routine & plug into some amazing teaching CD’s.  This time, along with traffic time, is dedicated to feeding my psyche & not my emotions.  Over the past 6 years I have been educated in areas including politics, economics, relationships, finances, leadership, living my dash & leaving a legacy.  If you would’ve told me 10 years ago I’d be comfortable enjoying  a conversation about economics with anyone, I’d have to question what substance you’d been on!  Seriously, certain (most) subjects were met with rolled eyes & fell on deaf ears.  The only thing that changed where I was then & who I am now is associating with people hungry to learn, grow, change & make a difference in the world.  I became a hungry student & love the quote, “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.”

This morning I was listening to a CD & this comment caught my attention.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”  — Marianne Williamson

While all of it was brilliant, the one sentence that burned in my spirit was, “Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”  WOW!  When we buy self-sabotaging excuses daily, who does it serve?  I’m fat! I’m single! I’m middle class! I’m not popular! I’m……insert your excuse here……. WHAT?  What could possibly carry any weight against the paragraph above?  Nothing!  All of these excuses can be converted to empower yourself & others.

I invite you to join me & others in taking the 90 Day Mental Fitness Challenge.  Locating where you are, where you want to be & what it takes to get there is a vital step in the right direction.  Self evaluation is a critical & often an overlooked or avoided test we should all take at different life intervals.

I recently watched the movie, The Help & adore one of the lines, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.”

You IS!

Blessings,

g

Seasons

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During the time of being the Singles Director, I taught a lesson on recognizing the need to change seasons in our life.  This was learned many years ago during Bible College. One of my favorite evangelists mentioned that not changing seasons when God clearly positions you to do so can be dangerous.  It’s as detrimental to your life purpose as doing your own thing.  In fact, that is exactly what you’re doing.  This caught my attention.  At the time, I wanted to teach adults.  Up to that point, for several years, I had the most amazing honor of teaching kids.  This was extremely fulfilling, yet there was a tug that it was time to lengthen my cords & strengthen my stakes.  In other words….. I had to step out of my comfort zone into a place that required me to learn & grow.  Hearing this man speak that sentence was a defining moment &  so much so, that over 20 years later I still remember where I was sitting in church when I heard it.

It reminds me of this verse, Like apples of gold in settings of silver is a word spoken in right circumstances.

What are some things you feel a “tug” about doing?  It can be a number of things.  Ministry? Career? Business? Relational?  I have felt a stirring for the past several  months in several areas of my life.  I have learned all too well this requires prayer & seeking the heart of my Daddy God.  I feel at peace about some things, while others are clouded from my knowing.  I constantly hear the scripture….to everything there is a season…..

Around the same time period in my life of hearing about the seasons, I heard this quote:

People change when:
a.they hurt enough that they have to–hurts, disappointments, failures, abuse
b.learn enough that they want to–mentors, educational programs, life skills
c.receive enough that they are able to–validation, benefits, incentive programs, rewards
–John Maxwell

Again, this was such a revelation, I remember hearing it & tears immediately filled my eyes.  I quickly realized I wanted to be obedient to change as necessary, be flexible & adaptable to the call or “tugs” of God.    I can’t possibly know what you may be facing concerning changes that need to occur in your life.  I can understand the turmoil it brings when you don’t obey.  I pray the peace of God that passes all understanding guards your heart & your mind in Christ Jesus as you make decisions involving current & future seasons of your life.

Always remember…..you are never alone in this journey & each season of life brings beauty, strength, courage & ability to reach for the next. You are also planting & empowering someone else to make changes.   I encourage you to take time & perform an intense self-evaluation & prepare to embrace change.

Make this your quest in every area of life.

Blessings,

g

Restoring the joy of giving through pattern interruption

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I love Mondays!  I love Mondays!  I love Mondays!  What I focus on expands so…… I am practicing expanding my love for Mondays!  I had to share a quick post about a tiny portion of  my morning with you. I work for a non-profit organization who is responsible for placing Angel Trees throughout cities nationwide.  I, however, work in a department processing grants & contracts for funding throughout the Texas Division.  It’s not rocket science, but we are two totally different ends of the spectrum.   For some reason, most complaint calls regardless of the nature, are forwarded to our department.  I believe it is because we are very resourceful & truly dedicated to helping humanity. I say “we”  loosely because my boss is the best person for running interference.

With that being said, this morning I received a call from a dear, sweet lady who was extremely concerned & overly frustrated regarding an “Angel” she adopted from one of our many DFW Angel Trees.  Immediately I thought this call should be forwarded to someone more equipped to handle this situation.  Then she told me her dilemma.  The child is 7 yrs. old & his “want” was a hand-held game.  She quickly explained almost every Angel she viewed on the tree wanted a MP3 player except this one.  She continued to tell me how guilt ridden she is because she has looked at EVERY store possible & can’t find a DS or other hand-held game consoles.  Of course she interjected the obstacles of her disabilities, traffic, busy stores, the price, extra games &  how she couldn’t stand the fact that this 7 yr. old wouldn’t have his wish if she couldn’t find it.  The words frustrated, guilt, overwhelmed, & guilt, kept coming up in conversation.  Did I mention guilt?  As I listened to her, I carefully wanted to help bring her back into the true focus of Christmas & the goodness she displayed for adopting an Angel.  Once she finished explaining, I thanked her for picking an Angel off one of our trees & emphasized how much I appreciated her supporting our organization, but most of all blessing the life of a child.  Guilt was again mentioned & I explained that guilt was her choice.  This was nothing we remotely wanted her to feel or experience.  I suggested other gifts similar to hand-held games & explained the child was 7.  I confided, from my experience,  my own children would make out their lists & there were more times than not, when they didn’t receive all on the list.  I inquired about her children & how she personally handled this.   I suggested other shopping venues that offered a bundle which included games & console.  Most of all I listened & reminded her the guilt & frustration was not the reason for the season.  The joy of giving should be the dominate force, not guilt.  I mentioned the frustration & anxiety she feels right now is not the expectation for my organization as we would not want it to hinder her from adopting another Angel next year.  She quickly explained this was her yearly practice.  I attempted to help her see what she would feel next year if she continued this emotional roller coaster ride instead of enjoying the reason she has this practice.  At every turn, I tried to be a part of the solution, not the problem.

Another very hard subject was to discuss the following months ahead if the child did receive a game console requiring new games.  Could the parent supply additional games or would they be at the mercy of yet another  opportunity to provide them?  Was there something just as enjoyable that wouldn’t require a financial commitment to maintain?  There is cyclic behavior we are attempting to break & something as simple as a game forces this behavior to continue.  I wasn’t trying to damper the spirit of giving, but offering an alternate solution that would also assist the parent.

Our conversation continued as I helped her understand her heart & motives were pure, & again thanking her for participating in this beautiful seasonal opportunity.  The frustration & guilt were robbing her of the pure joy she deserved to experience as the reflected what the child would experience upon opening his gift.  I shared the indescribable feeling I treasure  from years of watching children during Angel Tree distribution times. Working with volunteer fire department staff, as they lovingly joined their hearts to ours, is a priceless moment in time never to be taken from me! Seriously as I write these words, tears fill my eyes as I can see the precious faces of children elated with joy & happiness.  That is something I wish everyone could personally experience.  I assured her whatever she decided upon, her chosen Angel would have a smile & a warm feeling of gratitude in his little heart knowing he was special enough for someone to pick him.  Isn’t this what we want to accomplish?

We laughed & by the end of the conversation, she felt at peace & was very thankful I helped her.  You know what?  I’m glad too.  I realized I could have forwarded the call, it would have gone to someone’s voicemail [this is our busiest time of year & everyone directly or indirectly involved with Angel Tree Distribution is crazy busy], & her emotions would have escalated.  Or she could have gotten in touch with someone who had dealt with a million calls by 10am. Quite possibly this person would not have been prepared or equipped to re-frame the spiraling emotional minefield this person felt.   I was never equipped to understand or intervene with this method until I began learning & growing personally through LIFE, an amazing leadership & personal development organization. When you take the time to  pattern interrupt a situation, diffuse it at the root cause, resolve can then be accomplished.  The initial heart motive is illuminated, as in this case, the pure joy of giving shines as that faithful star shined ever so brightly from the heavens leading Kings & shepherds to our greatest gift.

Jesus is the reason for the season!

Merry Christmas & Blessings for a prosperous New Year!

g

If we must protest, protest ignorance.

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Last week my BFF’s & I attended the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for a GNO event.  Traffic was blocked at several locations for the Occupy Wall Street protesters.  I had heard this happening in NYC, ATL, & now it was in my home town.  I have to admit, I was completely ignorant as to why this was going on.  As we passed the protesters, I read their signs & watched their passionate attempts to have their voices heard.  The Dallas PD was doing a great job as well with traffic, crowd control, etc.

In the next few days I Googled the term, 99% and found this site that helped me understand some of the reasons for the protesting.  As I scrolled through reading the comments one caught my attention.  I guess the reason it did was because the writer resonated many of my similar beliefs.  I realized at that point, I too, was a protester.  However, quite different from the ones that stand on the corners of Wall Street or other government buildings across the nation.  I believe the type of protesting I support is the fiber of what will truly make a difference in our nation.  Let me explain.

Many of the comments made in the referenced web site complained about missed opportunities, loss of jobs, inability to purchase homes, unfair treatment from the government, bank bailouts, capitalism, the rich getting richer & etc.  As I read, I realized years ago I used to chime in on such convos, but today I will not entertain being a part of them.  Instead of being part of the problem, I am becoming a part of the solution.  Following men such as Orrin Woodward & Chris Brady,  who develop leaders globally, I have learned many of the problems we tend to blame on the government are self-inflicted.  In reading & listening to the audio, “The Creature from Jekyll Island,” I understand historical beginnings of government control on money.  Gaining new information from credible sources have helped me learn how to alleviate my position as a “victim” of society & become a catalyst for change.  I am a protester against why our nation is disseminating before our eyes.

How can such change occur?  Simple.  Everyday practices done in small increments over time compound into affecting a person, community, generation & nation.  Slight edge mentality develops long-term results in every area of our lives. How much more do you think these changes will make a difference as opposed to public protesting?  A closer look at this quote reveals how:

 “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead.

Imagine, if you will, a small group of committed people practicing these methods stamping out the ignorance of how to live sensibly. 

A. Live within your means & begin to eliminate debt-all of it! Sit down & write out all of your monthly expenses paying attention to all purchases made within a three-month period.  There are little “foxes” that spoil the vine when it comes to sucking the life out of your income.  Such “foxes” that virtually go unnoticed are vending machines, coffee shops, convenience stores, unreturned video rentals,  purchases that allow a year or more to begin payment toward the balance, credit cards of any kind,  eating out for breakfast, lunch & dinner  during the week, smoking, alcohol, & other vices.  Mint.com, a free service, keeps me posted on purchases dividing them into categories.  Once you discover all the areas you spend money, begin targeting what you can carve away. If 50% of all marriages that end in divorce are largely because of financial stress & differences, what percentage can be eliminated when we resolve debt?

1.       Bring your lunch to work. Stop the fast food frenzy!  Your wallet, health & waistline will love you for it!  If you must stop & purchase coffee, I suggest McDonald’s.  Great coffee, great prices. This is the ONLY thing I purchase from there!  When eating out in a restaurant, drink water instead of tea or coke (I’m from the south where everything is coke first, & then you say what kind!)  Share a meal with a friend.  Did you know it takes 20 minutes for your stomach to signal to your brain that it’s full?  Do you realize how much food you can consume before that happens?  Seriously…..portion control helps your body & wallet!

2.      When you stop to get gas, don’t go inside. Pay at the pump to avoid purchasing the junk causing your total to creep beyond the necessary.  You stopped for gas!

3.      If you need furniture, appliances or other major purchases, save & pay cash for it.  We live in a micro-wave, self-entitlement dispensation of time & this mentality has caused people to falter in their basic responsibilities of food, clothing & shelter.  There are terrific places where I live that  offer the same exact furniture at half price or less than that found at those “wholesale to the public” places offering extended credit terms.  When it comes to major purchases, I’m a research shopper.  This has paid off for me tremendously.  If you can’t pay your rent, chances are when that payment comes due, you won’t make it either.  Go even deeper than this….do you really need it?

4.      Vices can include smoking, drinking, nails, hair, spas, etc.  I have a business partner that realized he could have purchased a ticket to one of our leadership conventions with the money he spent on cigarettes.  I admire him so much for making the choice to stop smoking.  His lungs, heart, body & bank account will reveal the harvest of doing so.  Local beauty schools offer hair cuts at reduced prices.  Learning how to color your own hair or having a friend to help will benefit all involved. Set goals for other things once you have paid debt down or carved some of the other areas out of your budget if there are “must haves” in your life.

5.      Purchase used vehicles.  Vehicles depreciate the second you drive off the lot.  Reading the book, The Millionaire Next Door, enlightens us on how first generation millionaires live.  It was amazing what I realized when I read that book.  Having to have the appearance of being rich has caused us to become broke.  The wealthy don’t care about appearance.  In paying cash for used vehicles, you also save on insurance which can be applied to other areas of debt. Please be careful of the kind of used car you buy because as parts need to be replaced, you don’t want that to be a “fox.”  Mentor with someone before purchasing.

6.      Utilities can be a tremendous area of savings.  Go wind!  Use smart meters when available. If you live in a power vacuum, MOVE!  I live in a well insulated loft & never once used my heat during the winter.  Even when we were shut in due to the snow, I never used it.  There were 2 months that I actually had a credit on my utility account.  Sweet right?  I have to admit, I was the woman who would never, ever adjust the thermostat when I left for the day.  During the heat wave this summer, I complied with the request from our loft manager concerning adjusting thermostats to 85 when we left for work.  You know what happened?  Every time I got home, my thermostat was never above 76 degrees.  It was comfortable & I lowered it only when I went to bed.  I also unplug everything I can reach. This has made a huge difference.  These are the type of adjustments you make & put the extra money toward other debt & maybe you can squeeze in something you can’t live without.  Not both, either –or!

7.       Commute to work.  I never rode on public transportation until I worked a nursing strike assignment in San Francisco.  On the few days I was off, during the month there, I rode the BART.   My friends in La were very concerned for me, but when I saw elementary school children & the elderly riding it daily, I felt safe.  The first time gas prices spiked to almost $4/gallon, I asked if our workplace offered reduced bus passes.  Several of us decided to partake & it changed my daily commute costs.  Instead of being stuck in Dallas traffic, I could relax & leave the driving to someone else.  Many apartment complexes are on the public transportation lines.  Save gas, contribute to lowering the carbon footprint, resist road rage & take a nap if you want.  It is also the greatest harvest field to encourage hurting people.

8.      Cable, dish network, etc.  Get rid of it all!  How much do you currently pay in these areas?  How much are you short each month once all bills are paid?  This is a huge “fox” stealing not only money from your budget, but precious family time.  The average father spends 38 seconds a day looking into his child’s eyes yet how many hours does he spend looking at TV?  So you think you can dance is more popular than so you think you know what your children faced at school today.   There is a serious epidemic of ignoring the most important things in our lives…..the only thing we are able to bring to heaven….our family.  Replace this time with reading great books on finances, relationships, history & see how your life will change for the best!  Read with your kids.  Instill this habit at an early age. Unplug the TV & plug into your real life, not reality portrayed by someone else. If people are so far in debt, they should start a home based business or get a second job. Either way, nightly entertainment from T V isn’t the answer just like blaming Wall Street isn’t the answer.

9.      Out of town travel costs can be cut tremendously by using services such as Priceline.com & bidding on flights, hotels & rental cars.  I have radically saved in this area as I never pay full price.

B. Shelter is an essential part of our budget.  There is controversy whether or not it is better to own or rent.  I have done both & for this season in my life there is no way I would own anything unless I paid cash for it.  Unless your house creates an income or is paid for, it is a liability.   I am a design & landscape freak.  Admittance is the beginning of overcoming right?  As an empty nester, I choose to live in a loft.  I have a wonderful maintenance man who replaces my light bulbs, replaces my air filters & fixes anything that breaks (which is a tiny savings in itself right?).  I don’t pay water, trash or sewage which is at least a $60/ month savings.    There is a fabulous lawn management group that keeps our property manicured year round.  I live 8-10 minutes from work saving even more money on transportation & it is located on the DART line, within walking distance to my beloved AA Center & the popular Katy Trail for walking / biking.  I do not pay HOA fees, property taxes, high insurance prices, or other expenses included in being a homeowner. You may not believe you could move your family into an apartment complex, but there are alternate choices.  Either way, I would suggest looking at where you currently live & decide if it is the best place or if it is the source of your frustration.  Are you fighting over the lawn?  Garbage? Neighborhood situations? When you work 60-80 hours per week to make ends meet, when are you actually enjoying your oasis?  If you must purchase a home, consider an unconventional way of doing so & use NACA.com.  Not only do they offer no down payments programs, low-interest rates, but also utilize a strict budget management program which assures you buy what you can afford.

C. Clothing is a subject some people will argue over.  I speak to people on a regular basis who place this above many other areas of living importance.  Really?  Why?  Appearances right? I used to sew for myself & my kids & I know what goes into clothes.  In my area there are fabulous thrift stores, outlets & other choices where I find fashionable clothing at amazing prices.  It is my choice to shop thrift stores as a point of actually giving back to my community.  Numerous times I have found pieces of clothing with the price tag still on them.   I have also met vintage store owners shopping at the same thrift store I frequent to purchase items to sell in their shops, at an increased price of course.  I buy what I like & am not a label girl at all.  Interestingly enough, my closet contains designer clothing purchased at thrift store prices.  Buying seasonally is a great choice as well as holding clothing swaps between friends especially when small kids are involved.

D. Food, primarily grocery purchases, soars with the increasing costs of fuel necessary for distribution.  Many cities have instituted farmers markets.  This not only provides healthy alternatives, but supports local businesses.  I shop at a small, neighborhood, local, market that features all natural / organic foods primarily from local farmers.  It costs me much less than the big box stores because it is their specialty.  I purchase smaller quantities that prevent spoilage which prevents waste.  There are many wonderful ways to cut the grocery budget.  Do inventories of what you purchase versus what you never use & eliminate the difference.  Again, stop the fast food frenzy.  Allocate this cost back into your grocery budget & watch the savings add up.

I realize this has been a long blog, but after reading the reasons for the Occupy Wall Street Protesting, it has been on my heart to write.  By gaining control of our expenses, eliminating debt, taking a risk for successful entrepreneurial opportunities & making contributions to our communities, we will be the percentage of people who provide the answer our nation needs to thrive.  Just as our forefathers left the tyranny of an evil king to establish a new nation, it’s our responsibility, not our government, to establish personal change. We can’t continue to blame the wealthy simply because they choose to sacrifice & risk what it takes to succeed, while we choose to rack up debt & complain. Imagine a group of people who practice the things outlined above.  We will impact our economy in a positive way increasing capacity.  In becoming economically independent, we will provide the stimulus instead of needing one. 

Don't just carry a sign, be one!

If these suggestions are elementary to you, please consider taking the time to mentor someone who is struggling.  

Blessings,

g

 

Stoplights of Life

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I had a “eureka” moment on my way to work this morning. This certain event has happened millions of times during the past 38 yrs., but somehow this morning, it caused me to think differently.  

I have been tweaking my quick route to work & there are two stop lights that regardless of what I do, I am always stopped by.  There is one located at the Market Center & World Trade Center, Dallas, which is iffy!  While stopped at the Market Center light this morning my “moment” occurred.  I was in the center lane behind one other vehicle & just as the light changed, cars on each side of me zoomed past.  The vehicle in front of me finally took off & we continued our journey.  Nothing extraordinary, just normal stuff right?  

As this happened, I was enlightened that this is exactly what happens to us in life.  We are all on a journey & there are things that could stop us along the way.  Some things are unavoidable, while others are distractions.  I have realized in the past 5 yrs. most are self-instituted distractions.  Once you stop the momentum, even for a season, it is extremely difficult to gain it back.  Being in the “middle lane or middle of the road” in life is not always the best lane.  The story I often use to describe myself is “The Tortoise and The Hare.” You know the story & we see it hundreds of times in life & business.  Some people start off zooming past everyone, have a false sense of accomplishment, stop to rest, & lose the race.  The others are steady, confident, & never stop focusing on their goal.  The journey is the destination & we often miss the most beautiful parts of it.  The cars this morning were a metaphor of  our journey.  Many things break our focus & cause us to stop pursuing the things that will produce the greatest results for us.  We look around & it appears others are zooming past us. Stopping, being distracted, or just quitting on your dreams & goals take much more effort to get started again than if we would have simply exercised the example of the tortoise & just kept going.  You may not appear to be gaining traction or zooming past others, but you will win the race.  Here are some great quotes on momentum. 

If you have the guts to keep making mistakes, your wisdom and intelligence leap forward with huge momentum. -Holly Near

One way to keep momentum going is to have constantly greater goals.-Michael Korda

Success comes from taking the initiative and following up… persisting… eloquently expressing the depth of your love. What simple action could you take today to produce a new momentum toward success in your life? -Tony Robbins

If you are stopped in life, I can only suggest making the choice to begin again.  If you have goals & dreams that you have longed to accomplish, begin again. If you are at an “intersection” in life & don’t know what to do or which path to take, please find a credible mentor & discuss a game plan.  Playing it safe, staying in the middle of the road is something I would suggest for you to reconsider. Following those who play is safe is even more detrimental to your goals & dreams.    I love Ben Franklin & believe he is one our greatest examples to follow. He says, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”   It isn’t about you!  It’s about the countless thousands of people who could be given a spark of hope by your courage & momentum to accomplish great things.  Here is something to ponder, “Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of ‘crackpot’ than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.” – Thomas J. Watson   I couldn’t have found better words to say it!  Sounds like a Rascal to me!  

I encourage you to count the cost of what each decision will make in your life & in the lives of others.  What will the result be if you quit?  What will the result be if you succeed?  Who will benefit or lose from each decision?  The choice is yours. Choose wisely. 

Blessings, 

g

Where are the Leaders?

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Many years ago, 27 to be exact, my best friend’s husband was being relocated to a military base.  This in itself was difficult as I loved her dearly. The other factor making a huge impact was the part of her being the director of a well-known AOG children’s ministry, Missionettes.  She was fabulous!  I on the other hand was her “helper.”  I served perfectly happy as the craft person.  I went from class to class each Wednesday night & devoted time with the kids performing arts & crafts.  This was my niche.  We were a busy group with meetings, camps, promotions, etc. & I loved to assist!

The Christian Education leader was a brilliant, resourceful, passionate, woman named Doris Asbury.  She talked about kids as though there was nothing more important on the face of the earth than ministering to them.  I, on the other hand, had 1 kid of my own, but didn’t like kids.  I know that is weird, but it was true.  I liked crafts.  Teaching kids annoyed me. Doris would tell stories that would hold your attention forever concerning how to teach kids.  I would listen & think, there is no way I would ever get this thrilled over children’s ministry.  You can imagine the number of times I rolled my eyes & let the speech go in one ear & out the other.  Yes, I was not interested.

No way until my friend moved leaving a huge, gaping hole for that program.  Doris called me to her office & informed me I had to be the director because I knew everything about the program.  I laughed & said, “No way, I am a follower not a leader!”  She strongly encouraged me that I had to do it because there was no one else.  I leaned across her desk & told her she had one month to find a replacement.  30 days!   I was adamant the director was not going to be me.  I went home, got on my face & admitted my dislike of teaching kids to God & asked Him to give me His heart.  One month turned into 4 yrs.  Our program grew, we had teachers & assistants for each class, each child & teacher had uniforms, we entered & won many promotions, attendance was at an all time high, missionaries would visit us while on furlow & I sincerely learned to love kids.  Each age group that I declared I would NEVER teach, I taught  at some time, falling deeply in love with them.  One night during pre-class praise & worship, a 3 yr. old gave her heart to Jesus.  A couple of months later she & her father died in a car accident.  Children would pray for their parents, friends, lives & their tender spirits melted our hearts.  That 4 years was the most incredible time I have ever had.

Having that background, several years later I was the program director for Saturday Sunday School which operated out of our Bible School.  Along with my administrative duties,  I was a clown!  Literally!  I painted my face each Saturday, wore my bright clown outfit & loved my time with kids. To this day, kids have a very special place in my heart.  Such a place that there are times I feel like giving everything I own away, taking my favorite red back pack & moving to Brazil to work in our MORE Project.  I would trade room & board for teaching Life Skill Classes!  This haunts me more some days than others.  Working in Singles Ministry for over 17 years, having such a passion for single moms & their kids mirrors the ministry there & I feel it would extend I feel called to do.

This passion & love would have never been developed had Doris not strongly encouraged me to stand in the gap, & make up the hedge.   She was a leader who developed leaders.  Leaders accept you where you’re at, but love you into the future.  I am forever grateful Doris loved me enough to love me into children’s ministry.  Since 2006, I have been extremely blessed to be partners in a leadership development organization. I believe leadership is lacking in our nation in epic proportions.  I listen to personal development CD’s every morning while getting ready for work & throughout the day while driving, or at home instead of watching TV.  This morning a quote was given that I had to research because it pierced my soul (mind, will & emotions).

We live in the crucible of a most extraordinary moment in time. Never
before have we faced the vast ethical and leadership challenges that lie
before us today. Those leaders who guided the moral fabric of society
up to this point are coming to the end of their leadership careers. New
leaders must be empowered to take their place. Who will share the vision
of emerging leaders? – Mentoring Leaders , Arrow Leadership

My story of time spent with children is just a mere fraction of what our nation needs.  Percentages of absentee fathers, abandoned children, divorce, business failures, & character compromises increase on a minute to minute basis.   I have repeated the word crucible over & over today. The definition that screams loudly at me is this:  a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development. 

Never before has our nation, or planet for this matter, needed a more concentrated force of influence than right now.  I can’t force anyone to change.  I can, however, change myself & emulate the change.   John Maxwell, #1 World Leadership Guru says, ‘Leadership is influence.”   I love the quote,  “A rising tide raises all ships” & I believe we need a tidal wave of leadership development in our midst.

Just as I fell in love with teaching kids, I have fallen in love with learning.  There are ka-zillions of sources for leadership development, but I have always had discernment on who to follow.  Numerous opportunities, both in business & ministry, have presented themselves to me, yet in my spirit, I knew to walk away from countless many.  I have had the privilege to learn from the #7 & #12 World Leadership Gurus, best-selling authors, & other credible men / women who have earned their  respect. This association has broadened my horizon & helped me gain a perspective unlike any other. This is a leadership movement like no other.

If you feel called to become the person God has intended you to become  & have no idea where to begin, there is hope.  There is a world-class educational system in place for you to learn from.  Executives, corporations, renown ministries & organizations use it on a daily basis. It is a level playing field as we all have much to learn & lots of growing to do. Peter Senge once stated in an interview, that a learning organization is a group of people working together to collectively enhance their capacities to create results they really care about. This describes the mutual passion of those involved in our education system to the letter.

As the quote mentions above, who will share  in the vision of emerging leaders?  Will you answer the call?

Blessings,

g