When your dreams are bigger than your fears…

It has been so fun this past year watching my friend Tiffany Ashley, of Delightfully Chic, grow her blog and now launch the Delightfully Chic Shop, her brand new online store. All of her hard work over the past few months has paid off as she’s ramped up to this exciting new venture. In the first two days alone, she has already exceeded her expectations in sales. Tiffany is incredibly gifted in the area fashion and design and is now using these talents to live out a lifelong dream.

 

 

I got the opportunity to interview her today and want to share a few words of wisdom from this up-and-coming entreprenuer.

The goal you’ve been working toward for so long has not only been achieved, but you’ve already seen success! What is the most rewarding part for you so far?

Getting back to what I love to do. When you get to the point where your dreams are bigger than your fears, you have to just go for it. That’s what I’ve finally done and it’s so exciting!

What has been the most difficult part of the process?

Having to juggle many different responsibilities. The key is to stay focused and keep your eye on your dreams. Remember, they are always in reach. My favorite quote, and the thing I keep telling myself is, “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.”

What advice do you have for others who are trying to accomplish big goals in the midst of big responsibilities and… just life in general…?

Soul search and figure out what’s going to make you happy. Your dreams should be so big that they give you butterflies in your stomach. If they don’t, you’re not dreaming big enough!

Be sure to check out the Delightfully Chic Shop and stock up on fabulous prints and home decor. Perfect for you or to give away as gifts this Christmas! Happy shopping!

 

Day 20 – An older gentleman and a prosthetic leg

I am cheating on my favorite book, Bittersweet, with my new favorite book, Cold Tangerines. They are written by the same author so I don’t feel that bad. Yet again, Shauna Niequist has made me think. A lot.

This book is such a beautiful expression of life’s little moments, which more often than not, we take for granted or miss altogether. I’m reminded of how rarely I break from my busy schedule (and equally active thought process) to take in life’s treasures.

Take for example a newborn baby’s tiny smile. Although it doesn’t vary much from the expression they make when experiencing digestive issues, it means something totally different and if you look real close – there it is! I could stare at babies for hours. They marvel at the smallest things. Or what about the gift of nature? Red, gold, yellow and orange sprinkled throughout the typically green (or this time of year, bare) landscape, like a confetti-covering in the fall. Moments like these are meant to be noticed and are especially fun when shared with others.

Back when I was running a lot, I couldn’t help but notice the intricacies of the human body. Hours upon hours of pavement pounding have a way of showing you what you’re made of.

I ran the LA Marathon with my friend Courtney during our sophomore year of college. Talk about a long time to just think and take stuff in. (It was almost six hours to be exact. Clearly, the goal was to finish, not break records). Courtney and I hardly spoke. We listened to music on our walkmen (yes I did mean walkmen) and aside from trading off mix tapes (yes I did mean mix tapes), we stayed in our own little worlds. As I pushed my body farther that day than I ever had before or have since, it was the little things that sustained me.

Take for example, the elderly gentleman and the woman with the prosthetic leg. We traded off passing each other throughout the 26.2 miles. They would run ahead and then we would pass them. Then they would catch up to us and we would watch them from behind, in awe of what their bodies could handle. Running a marathon is no picnic for anyone but to do it at the age of 100?? (Okay, he may not have been 100 but the oldest marathon runner I could find on the internet was a hundred-year-old man who completed the Toronto Waterfront Marathon). And to do it with a prosthetic leg? Wow.

If we stay stuck in our own heads, in our own bubbles, we miss out on the sparkle and umph that can be found when we least expect it. While I was complaining about how heavy my legs felt and how I didn’t think I could make it another step, the older gentleman was trudging along with a smile on his face and the woman with the prosthetic leg had the focused determination of a professional athlete.

Thank you Shauna Niequist for the little treasures you have given the world! Your stories, your vulnerability, your reminders to celebrate small gifts amidst big bits of chaos and clutter. Our world is a crazy place sometimes but you’ve offered a much-needed breath of fresh air.

“The Little Things”… via Pinterest

Day 18 – New traditions…

Like I said in my last post (Day 17 – Imagining the Worst), my dad has a blood clot in his leg. As a result, my family can’t make it to North Carolina for the week as planned. I find myself feeling a bit meloncholy and haven’t been able to pinpoint why. Maybe because they were supposed to be here right now? While I totally understand why they’re not and practically insisted they didn’t come anyway because flying is too big of a risk right now, I’m still disappointed. We had been planning our to-do list, collecting Thanksgiving meal ingrediants and preparing for weeks.

When I think of this upcoming weekend, I am not sure what it will look like. Thanksgiving has always been a family day. It feels weird not to have my family present.

I have been reflecting on this for the past few days and I finally had an “ah ha” moment.

Jake and I are family.

Marriage is a funny thing because while you love each other intensely on your wedding day you don’t automatically feel like family just because you said “I do.” You do become family that day. You vow to be there for each other no matter what. You publicly proclaim your commitment to your spouse. But you don’t necessarily feel like family.

We both lived close to our families our first year of marriage which perpetuated the myth that our true families were the ones we grew up with. They are our families – most certainly. But this new person who we have vowed to be with is our family too.

I am sad my parents and brother are not going to be here for Thanksgiving. Even though I told them not to come, I was pretty bummed when the clock struck six last night and we were supposed to be at the airport picking them up.

But it’s times like these that remind me that my husband is my family too. And after Thanksgiving, we will have one more memory to solidify this feeling. Not the reality, that we are in fact family, because that’s always there. I’m talking about the feeling, deep down inside.

Perhaps we’ll even make a new tradition. (Pecan and pumpkin pie for example)! And we will be in our new home. Our very own home that we bought together.

I’m not sure what the day will have in store but I do know that I am grateful to be spending it with my husband, my family, my love.

Day 17 – Imagining the worst

Last week I found out some news that really scared me.  My dad had been experiencing bruising and pain in his foot for several weeks and then woke up one day with a rock hard, swollen calf muscle. He had an ultrasound done and it revealed a blood clot.

I don’t claim to know much about the medical profession at all. However, oddly enough since we moved to North Carolina I have met a significant number of people who happen to work in healthcare. Nurses, doctors, the works!

So I went straight to them to find out how a blood clot forms, what the treatment entails and any and all other details about what has happening in my father’s body. I have since learned that one of the biggest risks is that the clot could become dislodged and travel up to his lungs or heart. Scary.

Daily my sweet family crosses my mind and I pray for my dad and the rest of my family way out in California dealing with doctor’s appointments and the stress that comes from health issues. It is hard not being nearby to just drop in for a family dinner, games or any other spontaneous “hang out” time.

As I processed this news over the weekend I immediately started imagining the worst. I found myself feeling distracted and blue for days.

And then it hit me.

The worst is not what’s happening. What’s happening is a challenging health issue that can be resolved if certain steps are taken. If my dad is consistent with his medication and follows the doctor’s orders the clot should eventually dissolve.

I think sometimes we falsely believe that focusing on the sad stuff, the “what ifs” proves somehow that we really do care. We feel guilty if we manage to smile amidst our sadness and worry.

Imagining the worst doesn’t solve anything. It only serves to depress us and keep us from moving forward.

Sure, feel sad when you first receive bad news. That’s natural. And feel free to allow your emotions to take their course. But don’t allow your imagination to take you places you don’t need to go. Because imagination, by very definition, is not based in reality.

My thought? Don’t waste your sadness on something that is not even really happening.

Be realistic. Be hopeful. Be grateful.

Remember that time is precious. And tell your friends and family you love them.

 

 

 

 

Day 16 – On life’s twists and turns…

Crazy story. Every other week I attend a large women’s small group. The first hour we all listen to a speaker present on the study topic and then the second hour we break off into smaller, table groups. I confess, it’s been about a month since I have attended so I don’t know the other women at my table very well (minus the friend I actually joined the bible study with).

So last night there were only four of us at the table, plus our leader. We really got a chance to get to know each other better and I couldn’t help but think that one of the girls looked so familiar. Yet, I just couldn’t place her. At the end of the night it finally hit me. She had interviewed me for a job once and needless to say, I did not get the position! Awkard.

The table discussion eventually ended and I was debating whether or not I should say anything. On the one hand, I had no idea what she thought of me seeing that I didn’t get the job. However I wasn’t sure if she recognized me and I did not want things to be weird in the future if she did.

Turns out, she did remember me.

Here’s the kicker: The first thing she said to me (after confirming that I was in fact the one she interviewed and didn’t choose!) was “Wow, God really protected you from a horrible environment!” She went on to tell me how dysfunctional the workplace was and how the other woman who interviewed me ended up getting fired shortly thereafter. The gal in my bible study no longer works there either (by choice).

I couldn’t help but think… we have no idea what’s really going on in a situation, outside of the small part we are involved in. It makes me think of a Where’s Waldo (or some other crowded picture like that), where your eyes are zoomed in on Waldo only. And then you slowly move the picture away from your face and gradually begin to see everything else that’s going on. Those pictures are chaotic and so is life sometimes.

There is so much more going on in our lives than the teeny, tiny area we live in. And the teeny, tiny circle of friends we associate with. There is so much more.

Here are my takeaways from this oddly comforting encounter last night:

  1. Remember the bigger picture. Don’t get stuck in the minute details of life.
  2. There are reasons for things that we don’t always understand. Sometimes we find out the reasons later and sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we have to make a decision to accept reality before we fully understand why our circumstances occured. Don’t get me wrong, this is hard! But it often brings about a sense of peace that is even more powerful than understanding.
  3. All of our lives are impacted by the lives of others. Say for example, you apply for a job and you don’t hear from the company for weeks. In your life, this job opportunity might feel like the most important thing going on. But for the employees of the company, there might be other meetings taking place and deadlines to meet. Making a decision about the job you applied for might not be the first priority on a long to-do list. Recognize that what’s most important to you might not be most important to others. It’s not that it isn’t important at all, just not most. Timing plays a part. The needs of the other people involved play a part. Be patient. Take a deep breath. Wait.

Life can be really confusing at times. And really hard. But it doesn’t always have to be as hard as we make it. And we can choose to accept the confusing stuff for what it is and keep pressing on.

So that’s my encouragement for you – press on!

Day 15 – Some Serious Inspiration

The gorgeous and fashion-savvy, Giuliana Rancic, reporter on E! Television,  promoted 31 Bits last night, an awesome organization benefiting internally displaced women in Northern Uganda. Rancic and many others have enjoyed the fabulous jewelry made by the talented Ugandan women. So many of us are searching for ways to partner with those in need, especially this time of year. Perhaps you’ll choose to join forces with this incredible organization.

via

“Who knew recycled paper could be so stylish?”

– Giuliana Rancic

Here’s why I love 31 Bits:

  • The jewelry is made from recycled paper!
  • The mission is simple: Empower the Ugandan women to use their skills and rise out of poverty to purposeful and productive lives (my words, not theirs).
  • 31 Bits is not just about helping the women make money. Programs are offered to teach English, personal finance and foundational business skills. There are community support groups and HIV/AIDS education to provide holistic care to the women. By the time each women finishes the program they will have learned the skills necessary to provide and care for themselves on multiple levels.
  • The women make jewelry which is purchased monthly by 31 Bits to provide stable, consistent income.
  • The values of the company are solid. Loving and respecting the women is of utmost importance.

31 Bits has also been spotted by Delightfully Chic! Check out “I Spy” today and view some of the standout pieces! Delightfully Chic always has displays the latest and greatest in fashion!

To learn more about the organization’s mission or to go shopping click here:

31 Bits

Day 14 – On getting older…

On Saturday I celebrated my 33rd birthday. Thirty-three used to sound so old. I remember just graduating from college and meeting a group of friends who all happened to be about five years older than me. They seemed so much more grown up. And a few of the people I worked with were – gasp – almost 40! And then somehow, without even realizing it, the years passed and I passed into adulthood with them.

My mom used to tell me that as you get older, you may feel the same but it’s the mirror that has a funny way of reminding you you’re not young anymore. The proof of a lot of laughing and more frowns than I’d like to admit are written all over my face.

I don’t want to simply see the proof of another year gone by ingrained on my face. I want the memories ingrained in my mind and heart as well. I want lessons learned to shape me. So here is my attempt at reflection. Originally I was going to list out every happy, sad and mediocre memory I could think of but I am feeling a bit philosophical so we’ll see what ends up unfolding here.

Good versus Great.

The best way I can describe my Good vs. Great process over the last year is like this: Imagine a beautiful splash of colors far off in the distance. You can’t see it clearly enough to do anything about it but its beauty is undeniable. A voice inside of you is screaming to reach that majestic far off land but physically you can’t get there. Not yet anyway. You have mountains to climb and bubbling brooks to cross and large unsteady branches to surpass. Eventually you’ll get there but for now all you can focus on is what’s right in front of you. And there are choices upon choices along the way. Do you take the long route or the short? Do you find your footing on the rocky path right before you or do you take the winding back roads?

The point is, in this journey toward the bright, bold, beauty in my future I have to remember the following:

a) Smell the roses. There’s a lot in this world that can disgust us. But if we choose to focus on that we miss out on the sweet smell of roses. Or my personal favorite, lilies.

b) Slow down. If we’re moving too quickly and only focused on the finish line, we miss out on the precious little moments that can easily go unnoticed. A compliment from someone who is not quick to hand them out or that single line from a song that makes you stop in your tracks because it’s like the singer knows you better than you know yourself. These beautiful, split seconds in time are too easily muted out by the sound of our car engines rushing us off to the next destination on our list. Or by the TV. Slow down.

c) Say thanks. Our small group leader posed the following question last Friday night: “Have you thanked God for the blessings He provided this past week?” Have you slowed down enough to think of God period? A spirit of gratefulness can change our entire attitude. When we don’t stop and say thanks, we allow wonderful gifts, realizations and again, precious moments to pass by. No longer am I the person who sits back and watches life from the sidelines. A little dirt and stains never hurt anyone.

After graduate school I took a break from self-analysis and personal growth. Well, not totally but there is only so much evaluating one can go through before it starts to become a repulsive past time. The break helped and somehow, without even realizing it, I began to yearn for deeper connection and a deeper knowing of myself again.

Enter the Good versus Great process. I wonder what next year will bring…

 

Day 12 – “What I Learned About Leadership from a Root Canal”

This is an awesome post. Unfortunately my own experiences with root canals haven’t been this smooth (some of you know all about my dental woes) but even so, I love that at least for one person the experience was painless. Not only that, but there were lessons learned that can be applied to many other leadership situations.

A pain-free root canal plus some leadership lessons gleaned make for a great Points to Ponder post if you ask me.

Check out what Michael Hyatt, Chairmen of Thomas Nelson Publishers has to say about leadership. Who knew that a root canal could teach us so much.

What I Learned About Leadership from a Root Canal

Day 11 – How to love those who are hard to love

Yesterday was all about the benefits of loving our enemies. But it’s a lot easier said that done. Today is all about how we do it. Or at least some thoughts on how we can try.

Martin Luthor King, Jr. gave a sermon called Loving your Enemies at Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1957. I included a few excerpts from his talk as well.

1) Get to know the person. It’s a lot easier to be hateful to large, abstract people groups, than to real, live individuals we actually know. So often we pick an issue we disagree with and somehow the people who fall into that category – “them” – become an object of our disdain and disapproval. It’s one thing to disagree with an action but don’t turn the individual into an object of hate as well.

Another way that you love your enemy is this: When the opportunity presents itself for you to defeat your enemy, that is the time which you must not do it. There will come a time, in many instances, when the person who hates you most, the person who has misused you most, the person who has gossiped about you most, the person who has spread false rumors about you most, there will come a time when you will have an opportunity to defeat that person. It might be in terms of a recommendation for a job; it might be in terms of helping that person to make some move in life. That’s the time you must not do it. That is the meaning of love. In the final analysis, love is not this sentimental something that we talk about. It’s not merely an emotional something. Love is creative, understanding goodwill for all men. It is the refusal to defeat any individual. When you rise to the level of love, of its great beauty and power, you seek only to defeat evil systems. Individuals who happen to be caught up in that system, you love, but you seek to defeat the system.

– Martin Luthor King, Jr.

2) Take a walk in their shoes. Once you’ve had a chance to get to know them a bit, try to imagine what their life must be like. They face struggles and hardships like the rest of us. They may put on a tough front, but is that who they really are? Once your empathy kicks in, it will be a lot easier to love them.

3) Take a deep breath and walk away. Sometimes the best thing to do is just take a break. My husband and I learned this in pre-marital counseling. When you’re in the midst of a fight you can keep yelling, screaming and refusing to understand one another or you can walk away (on the condition that you’ll come back later to work things out). Sometimes you reach a point where there is nothing more to say or do and all you need is some time away to process. The same goes when you’re feeling unloving or even utterly disgusted at someone. Walk away, gain perspective and come back fresh.

4) Find something to appreciate in “your enemy”. There has to be some redeeming quality in the person. Find it and remember it always. Once you’ve found one, try to find another. It is hard to hate someone who you actually like in some ways.

A second thing that an individual must do in seeking to love his enemy is to discover the element of good in his enemy, and everytime you begin to hate that person and think of hating that person, realize that there is some good there and look at those good points which will over-balance the bad points.

– Martin Luthor King, Jr.

5) Forgive. Is this person your enemy because of something that happened in the past? Forgive them. You’ll experience great freedom when you do.

6) Pray for them. God will change your heart. He will soften it if you allow Him to.

These are by no means profound. This stuff is hard! These are baby steps that might get you thinking about forgiving and learning to love those people who are hard to love.

Any other ideas?

Day 10 – Love Your Enemies

It’s really easy to “love our enemies” in theory. I mean, for the most part we can generally avoid being around them. So what if you have a falling out with some of your old high school friends and then go your separate ways. You don’t have to see them anymore, you can choose not to ask about them and pretty much distance yourself from them entirely. Piece of cake.

Not that avoidance is a healthy answer but when it happens naturally it certainly makes “loving our enemies” easier.

But what about those people you see every day? The ones who just rub you the wrong way? The people who are a lot harder to love.

Whether you are a follower of Jesus or not, this idea is a valuable one. Yes it is biblical, but the truth is, hating people spreads misery and allows bitterness to fester inside of you. To love others is to be free and joyful so why not follow this principle?

I was reminded of this today. To love. Here are some compelling reasons I am trying to hold onto on days like this when it’s more difficult:

1)      Loving people will make me happier. Sound a bit selfish? Maybe it is. But to love others is to take the focus away from my own frustration  and shift it to the outside. My husband often jokes with me because he’ll leave me alone for a bit and inevitably I end up having all kinds of crazy ideas, new worries, irritations, stress and more. He tells me I can never be left alone for long. It’s true that when we have too much time to focus on ourselves we get stuck in our own thoughts and often lose perspective. Focus on others. Love others. You’ll be a happier person.

2)      Loving people will make others happier. Love is contagious. So is joy. Entire atmospheres can be improved when people are willing to let things go and focus on the positive.

3)      “To love another person is to see the face of God.” I learned this from “Les Miserables.” Isn’t it true though? God is love. So, to love others is to show them a taste of God. And a chance to experience His goodness for ourselves.

4)      Loving people sets a good example. It’s not that I’m suggesting you try to impress people or appear better than you are. But just like point #2, when you’re loving and accepting, others might see your example and strive for that as well. Especially if you have children or are a leader.

5)      Loving your enemies builds character. I feel like I am in a serious character-building time in my life right now. Let me tell you, it is not easy and it is not fun. But I am learning how to be a more patient person, more loving, more prayerful and did I mention more patient?

 

Tomorrow I’ll get into some “how-to’s” but hopefully by now you’re convinced that even though it can be hard, choosing to love is always the better option.

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