Many of us say we want to experience something new, but we don't do, or seek out, anything new. Many of us say we want things in our lives to be different, yet we approach our lives the same way every day. For those stuck on the treadmill of life (walking or running in place), why not take action to discover new and different paths; to change your life positioning to explore enriching experiences and create new memories? Perhaps it's volunteering your time and/or talents; finding or living your life purpose; taking a mission trip, etc. Sometimes, it only takes one step to change your course/position. It could be the difference between just going through the motions and living a joyful life.
We are ofttimes myopic in our thinking when we've set a goal(s), and march full force ahead in the pursuit of it. We know what we want, we know when we want it, and we know how we plan to go about accomplishing it. But sometimes in our quest, we overlook the beauty in the process. There's beauty in deciding to do something we've never done; trying something new or different; stepping outside our comfort zone; taking steps to improve ourselves. What about the joy of taking the first step toward reaching your goal? There's beauty there. Did we learn something new? There's beauty there. Did we meet new people who are making the same journey? There's beauty there. Did we learn something about ourselves we never knew? There's beauty there. Did we inspire or encourage someone else by beginning our project/moving towards our goal? There's beauty there. If we take the time to look, there's beauty to be found right there in the midst of our journey. And it's important not to miss it. Because in the event it takes longer than we planned to reach our goal(s), or the goal doesn't fulfill us in the way we thought it would, it just may be the beauty we found in the journey that helps to sustain us.
Do it, why don't you? Live your dream. Do it while you can. Why live a life regretting what you didn't do? Take a chance on yourself. Why just watch others live their dreams when you can be doing the same? Do you have a fear of failure? If so, you're in good company. Just bear in mind that what you desire is on the other side of your fear. And if/when you get to the other side of your fear, you'll likely wonder why you wasted so much time. Wouldn't it be nice to know we will succeed at every pursuit? But how would we learn the lesson(s) we need to grow? It's the setbacks and disappointments of life that teach us some of our greatest lessons. They're stepping stones to help us reach higher ground. Lessons we need to learn to reach our intended destination.

Not trying is failure to me. As it's said, nothing ventured, nothing gained. So why not venture into living your dream. Dreams are gifts--opportunities to use our mind, our talent, and our creativity to stretch ourselves beyond our self-imposed boundaries. So let's stop making excuses and get busy living our dreams. Because when we do, we'll have more pep in our step, more curve in our swerve . . . Ok, I know that didn't work, but you get my point. If you need a pep squad, get one. If you need someone who will hold you accountable for the things you say you want to do, find that person. Whatever you need to do to take the first step and beyond, it's time to do it. It took me getting ill and facing the possibility of death to start living my dreams. Your inspiration needn't be that extreme. So live your dreams now, why don't you . . . while there's still time.

The older I get the more it seems I am bombarded with distractions when trying to accomplish something. Half the time I can't remember what I was supposed to be doing in the first place, so the last thing I need is a distraction. I've even gone shopping for something in particular only to come home with something else or something in addition to what I originally intended because I got distracted by something that looked good, pretty, and/or interesting. Not something I remembered I needed, but rather something I decided I wanted. All/most/some of us have been there, right?

Staying focused on our tasks can be difficult as we have so many things vying for our attention on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.
And if our task is particularly daunting, challenging, complicated, boring, or perfunctory, we may welcome distractions--even if unwittingly. Clearly, there are some distractions in life that are unavoidable--things beyond our control. But there are other distractions we allow or choose for ourselves--things we voluntarily give our attention to rather than staying focused on the task at hand. Distractions such as the internet, social media, television, gaming, gossip, texting, talking on the phone, a person . . . you name it, whether at work, home, etc.

No doubt, distractions are part of life, and not all distractions are bad. It's the nature and timing of the distraction, as well as how we handle the distraction (i.e., whether we give life to it via our time, attention, and actions) that often make the difference in the outcome of a particular situation. Distractions . . . what many disappointments, lost dreams, lost connections, broken promises, botched finances, failed relationships, and lost opportunities are made of.

Life is full of change--schools, jobs, relationships, locations, seasons, life phases and stages. Some people just accept change as a necessary part of life, some actually embrace change, and others resist change of any kind. For many, it depends on the particular change since, as we know, change can bring excitement, exhilaration, and joy, as well as pain, sadness, and devastation, or some combination thereof.

One thing is certain: change will occur whether we accept it or not. It's how we handle the change that makes the difference--whether we transition with the change. While I know that technically change and transition are the same, I believe change can occur without us making a transition. For example, the season has changed from summer to fall. If those who live in less temperate climate conditions refuse to make that transition and continue to dress for summer, they may suffer when the temperatures fall significantly. Change without transition.

Some changes are more subtle than others and it may take a while for us to notice.
But once we recognize a change, it's important to make a transition in our actions, thoughts, and/or attitudes. Absent transitions, we may become stuck, stagnant, apathetic.
Even painful change can result in hope, growth, and new opportunities if we're willing to make a transition. Some folks are so resistant to change that they would rather be unhappy, miserable, and dissatisfied in their current situation (i.e., job, relationship, financial status) than transition into the possibility of something better. You know, that old "devil you know" issue.

Some transitions are more difficult, and take longer, than others. And while major changes can be challenging, we need not become permanently unhinged by them.
For example, if change introduces limitations into our lives, we can transition by focusing on and celebrating the limitations we don't have. We're better served by embracing what's possible rather than impossible. Refusing to let go of what was prevents us from fully enjoying the present and moving forward. Even when it's difficult to accept change, it's important to remain open to it. Accepting change and making transitions may be the difference between realizing our dreams and regretting that we didn't pursue them. It may be the difference between living a joyful life and living life on the sidelines. Transitioning with and through life's changes . . . it's up to us.

Living My Joy
Conventional wisdom says we should live below our means, specifically, our financial means. Makes sense, right? Because living above our financial means can have repercussions that ripple throughout our lives.

I've been living above my means for years. Not my financial means, but my life's means--my own personal capabilities to make things happen. When confronted with circumstances I cannot handle on my own--for example, forgiving what seems unforgivable, mustering the strength and courage to handle serious health issues, dealing with life's various setbacks, living my dreams, etc.,--I find it necessary to tap into my faith line of credit. Sometimes, the amount available is very small. But I've found that each time I access the line, my faith balance grows. My repayment plan consists of regular deposits of gratitude for what I have and what's on the way, as well as sharing my journey (the challenges and the victories) with others to provide encouragement. Living beyond my means is recognition and acceptance that winging it is sometimes/ofttimes necessary. And through it all, I'm still standing.
Living My Joy
Many of us spend significant time and effort trying to manage, enhance or maintain our outer beauty--for example, our hair, face, clothes, image. Do we spend as much time and effort on our inner beauty--our souls, who we really are? Because at some point, there will be cracks in our exteriors. In those instances, will the light of our souls that shines through be bright or dim?

As human beings, our lives have many layers. If the layers of our lives were peeled back, could we honestly say our inner selves are as beautiful as--or more beautiful than--our outer selves? If there were such a thing as a "SHA" (Soul Housing Authority), upon examination would our inner selves be written up with numerous concerns? Do we do enough self-examination to be able to assess honestly the state of our inner lives? How about to assess whether the things others say to and about us are true? We tend to agree with the positive things others say to and about us, but dismiss the negative things out of hand. But we know the truth (about the positive and the negative)--that is, if we're being honest with ourselves. Sometimes, we can dismiss things legitimately because we know the person doesn't know us or have sufficient information. And, sometimes, if/when we know someone has an agenda behind what they say to us, it's "convenient" to ignore them. But there may be value in what they say. We shouldn't miss a message just because we have an issue with the messenger. At a minimum, we should be open to examining whether there are issues that need to be addressed.

I believe that without adequate attention, time, and effort to pursue inner beauty, it's difficult to live and sustain a joyful life. Without internal work, our external beauty becomes our priority. But external beauty will not sustain us. Life's dark moments will come. There will be cracks in the exterior. It's what's on the inside that will strengthen us and provide light on our paths. It's the inside job that will help to keep that light bright.

. . . I remain a prisoner of hope and joy!

Sometimes the hits just keep coming. My vessel gets weary. Feels tossed from side to side after taking hit after hit after hit. And I'm hanging on by a toenail for dear life. Don't know how I can take any more. And then I remember I have an anchor. And that means that even though I may feel unsteady, I don't have to hold on so tight. I'm secure. And I remember it's in the eye of the storm that there is calm. Peace. So I take the time to be still. And in that stillness I realize that in spite of it all, I'm still standing. And that while the storm all around me may be fraught with peril, all storms come to an end. And that while it may not be easy to weather the storm, this too shall pass. So I lift my head and raise my hands in gratitude for my blessings--those I have and those I have faith are on the way. Why? Because I remain a prisoner of hope and joy.




Living My Joy

1) Am I grateful for today? Yes.
2) Do I intend to give today, and all with whom I interact, my best? I do.
3) Will I continue to work on not letting my past dictate my present? I will.
4) Will I stop procrastinating and do (or at least begin) the things I say I want/need to do? I will.
5) When will I begin? Today!

As we know, tomorrow is not promised. We must live today, cherish today, and act today.

Some of my favorite quotes:

“Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” Mother Theresa.

"Yesterday's home runs don't win today's games." Babe Ruth

"Don't let yesterday use up too much of today." Will Rogers
Do you ever view life through the lens of bowling? Sometimes (ok, maybe just today) I do.

Strikes and spares. (Living my dreams) It's awesome when I roll a strike--meaning things turn out the way I planned. What a euphoric feeling and tremendous confidence booster. But there are times I roll the ball and it looks like I'm headed for a strike, and at the last minute the ball curves to the left or the right. What?! Desperate for a shift, I lean in the opposite direction of the ball (sometimes with the other foot lifted) and wave my hands in the direction of my lean, thinking that somehow the ball can detect my energy and miraculously turn in time for me to get the strike. (Those of you who bowl are familiar with this maneuver.) While things like this happen from time to time (i.e., just when I think I've lost out, something shifts in my favor), many times I have to be content with trying to pick up the spare--Plan B. If successful, at least I'll get something for my effort. Later on, with some distance, I find that Plan B was just fine.

Splits. (In the midst) There are other times in my life when it looks like I'm about to throw a strike, and lo and behold it's a split--right down the middle. In those cases, I have to decide whether it's worth trying to throw a curve ball to pick up the spare (outside my comfort zone), or just concentrate on getting whatever I can. It's a difficult decision, and sometimes I don't know what to do. But whatever decision I make I've got to be willing to live with it. So I reach into my arsenal of experience and step outside my comfort zone knowing it's a growth opportunity. And even if I get nothing in addition, I'll be grateful for what I have.

Gutter balls. (Baggage) Finally, there are those dreadful times in my life when I throw gutter balls--sometimes in succession. I don't mean to, but some things just don't work out at all. I go in to each situation believing (at a minimum, hoping) I'm going to roll a strike--especially when I know I'm giving it my best. But sometimes there are lessons I need to learn, which may only be presented through the gutter balls. And after throwing gutter balls, I may be so disappointed, frustrated, or devastated that I fall on my knees--especially depending upon what is at stake. In those instances, I have to examine and address the issues that caused the problem to avoid the same result in the future.

Lesson learned. Don't get too comfortable with the wins, or discouraged after the losses. Whether I throw a strike, spare, split, or gutter ball, it's important to remember that until the game is over there's always another frame.