Life Purpose Hack: 4 Letters

Life Purpose Hack: 4 Letters

If we looked at life purpose on a smaller scale, how do you think that would affect the way we’re living each day? Would you even allow a little time in your schedule to work on it? I have two questions to guide you to answers.

In case you missed it

In my last post I asked 3 insightful questions pertaining to our life purpose: What was it that blindsided you to lose sight? What are you putting into your mind that effects your actions?  What motivates you? Life purpose is an enormous and sometime’s sensitive topic to undertake. Many times people make it more complicated than it needs to be…I’m guilty of that…however when we break it down into smaller discoveries our own individual purpose has a chance to bloom.

Jesus said in Matthew 22:30-31 that the greatest commandment was to: Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’  The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 

How to understand Love.

The question of “What is love?”comes into being here. Golly, love is another massive topic! This is probably why ‘life purpose’ can be complicated. There are many different facets of love. According to the ancient Greeks there are eight different kinds: Unconditional, Romantic, Affectionate, Self-love, Familiar Love, Enduring, Playful, and Obsessive Love. But when it comes to life purpose which one of those ‘loves’ is greater? What one will people remember most? What one will have the biggest impact on your life and others?

If there is anyone who knows how to educate us on life purpose it’s Rick Warren, Pastor of Saddleback Church. He wrote “Purpose Driven Life” and “What On Earth Am I Here For?” Excellent reads. Over 50 million copies have been sold. He goes to the Bible on this topic and gives understanding in a down to earth approach. Pastor Rick says, “When you give someone your time, you are giving them a portion of their life that you will never get back.”

The ultimate hack to life purpose

This quote gives us a clue to life purpose. It’s TIME. The greatest gift you can give someone is your time, says Rick. Time is the most precious aspect of life, because without time, we don’t exist. Yet, without love we feel like we don’t exist. And when we feel like we don’t exist, we lose sight of our identity and become somebody we’re not meant to be. This is some pretty deep stuff, but this piece of our lives is more important than anything else. Because it’s love that gives us life and giving your time is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:13 Paul says, “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.”

Gosh, what does that look like? I could go into the “Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman, but he does a better job at explaining it than I do. Again, another must read for strengthening relationships and understanding love. Let’s switch gears for a minute to get more clues.

Two questions for your life purpose:

1- What do you already know that you were made to do? Think about what you’re really good at. What do you do in-which you lose track of time because you’re enjoying yourself so much? What exercises your gifts and skills? If you don’t know, ask someone to help you. Look back on your life or even your day and write down the things that gave you joy and a sense of meaning. It doesn’t need to be big events or accomplishments, it can be as small as producing a smile from a store clerk. My recommendation is to check out this book “S.H.A.P.E” see if there are any clues that surface. It’s actually really fun.

2- What audience do you connect with most? Younger generations, middle aged, or seniors? You could go further with demographics but think about the people you have a heart for, or that you can relate to, or that stimulates your emotions. This helps you find ‘your people’ to love on.

What is life purpose?

The way I see it is if we made someone else’s day a little brighter by giving them our time and gifted touch, then we lived our purpose for that day. In other words, Life purpose is loving others with your time while using your God-given gifts. Ask your Creator to give you more clues on moving forward with your life purpose, but don’t be afraid to step out in faith. This is not a destination, it’s a daily practice. I hope I got you thinking. Below are the books I mentioned.

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By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Life Purpose? 3 Insightful Questions.

Life Purpose? 3 Insightful Questions.

Life purpose is an enormous topic. The best way to approach it is step-by -step. Many of us think that when we figure it out, we’ll have this euphoric experience; I know I have thought so, but it isn’t necessarily like that. ‘Purpose’ is truly a passion of mine. And my goal is help people navigate their way to ‘meaning’. This is by no means a blog post to answer life purpose, gosh, I can’t answer that; but today you will get a good start on figuring it out.

Timing

There is no special timing on diving in on this topic, but this time of year is strange. When I did a keyword search on the word “purpose”, the month of November was the highest month people searched for it. Maybe it’s because summer-fun is over and winter holidays are coming? I don’t know. So how do we get our drive back?

The first thing we’re going to want to ask is: what does purpose mean to me? Let me help you by narrowing it down by category. What area do you feel you need more purpose?

  • Career?
  • Big Picture?
  • Identity?
  • Serving?
  • Other? Define___________

You may have more than one answer, that’s okay, it’s normal. Just write down the most pressing and ask yourself these three insightful questions:

The Blindside – Question 1

What was it that blindsided you? When we get stuck, there is something that caused us to get off the road. We just don’t get stuck from nothing. Identify what contributed to where you are now. Was it an illness, a loss of a loved one, a financial dropout, a divorce, an injury, abuse, car accident, demotion, addiction, or a career change?

When we can identity what happened and when it happened, we’ll get a better understanding of the mind shift that occurred. Knowing this information we can now approach our immobilization with a different tactic to free ourselves of the muck. And most of the time that is with the opposite effect you felt. For instance, if an illness changed your game, wellness and good health need to fill that hole. If abuse was the factor, love and trust come heal the wound. Here’s the money of it all: we must not let the event win. Our goal is to use the event to better ourselves and others. God never wastes a hurt.

man standing alone on a straight paved road with mountains in the background

The Mind Games – Question 2

With this being said, let’s get started to overcome. Paying attention to our thinking is a huge jumpstart. Rick Warren says, “The way you think determines the way you feel, and the way you feel determines the way you act.” This is so true.

Question 2 is: What are you putting into your mind? Are you replaying the trigger? Watching the news? Listening to BS? How is what you’re hearing and watching affecting how you treat others? How is it impacting your health?

If you want to feel better, that’s right, you need to want to feel better, then replace what you put in your mind with better memories, positive shows, good conversations and amazing music. Part 2 of 2 is when we start working on the mind, we can begin working on the body. I’m an advocate for a healthy body, a happy size, and a simple menu. When we look good, we feel good and that’s motivation in itself. But it first begins in your head. If you want to learn an easy way to do this without the overwhelm, enroll in the My Wellness Way course today.

The Stimulant – Question 3

Speaking of motivation. What motivates you? When I’m done sulking in my stuck-ness…yes, its okay to have a pity party but for only one day…1 DAY! As for motivation I need something or someone to motivate me to move. Self-motivation is a hard thing to do. It’s not impossible it’s just harder to train for the marathon, stick to the diet, meet the work goals, go after the dreams, etc. If you can’t find someone to hold you accountable or to keep you on track, turn to motivational speakers. Here are two short videos I thought you might like:

Okay, so we know what area we want to work in. We know what our turning point was. We know that our mind plays a big role in moving forward. Let’s shift and ask what is missing in all these things?

The Foundation of Purpose

Drum-roll please: Do you see what is missing? Even if you think you know, look under that layer.

In 1 John 4:8, John says “God is love.” Whether you’re conscious of it or not. Love is the bottom line. Love for ourselves, love for others, and the love to embrace our gifts to make things happen. God created you out of love and wants you pass it on. Do you see it? Think about that for a minute.

It’s love that leaves a legacy. Look at Mother Teresa, John Muir, Nelson Mandela, and the people who have influenced you in your life. They didn’t spend their time on you because they were selfish, they poured into you out of love. I’ll leave you that to think about. Until next time, answer those questions and ask God to reveal a clue to your unique path.  

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By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Finding Grace in the Cards We’re Dealt

Finding Grace in the Cards We’re Dealt

Challenges build character, right? I try to remind myself of that every time a ‘crisis’ rises. But why are we so hard on ourselves when trials surface? Part of the reason is perfectionism. Impatience comes to play. Then anger seeps into the equation. With all these feelings spinning, we lose sight of how to get through it. God put us on this planet to teach us, to love us, and to get us ready for eternity. One of the ways He demonstrates His confidence in us is through grace.

The Cards

A few years ago I was talking with my husband about my physical ailments. You see as a kid, my deep desire was to achieve optimal health. I exercised, I ate well, and I wanted to run a marathon. Then disease kicked in. As a kid I got sick numerous times a year, as a young adult I fracture my hip which has left me ‘run-less’, and later in life my immune system attacked my digestive health; among other unforeseen troubles, my dream was turning into dust or was it? As I was going through my list of hurts, my husband said something I’ve heard many times but for some reason it struck a chord in me that day. He said, “You gotta play the cards you’re dealt.” It was a way of reminding me that I’m not in control, yet to trust the One who is; and that I have a choice to fold my cards or to keep on playing them.

Right now in this post, I’m probably supposed to tell you to not “fold your hand”; but it’s in the folding of our hands where we learn how to play. When we ask God for help in our hardships, He helps us find the right path to run down…if we’re willing to step in that direction. So yes, fold when you have to, not to get out of the game, but to study the game and learn a better strategy.

Grace wants to play

There are times when we need to be our own advocate when it comes to our health. I made it my mission to get healthy. With this quest, I tried a lot of things and failed. I’m not where I want to be right now, but I’m not giving up. This is where grace gets dealt into the game. When we’re in a swirl of emotions, it’s critical to get some space to find the grace. And it’s there in which all becomes clearer and we get wiser with our decisions.

What ‘grace’ am I talking about? The grace of civility towards ourselves; when we’re going through a rough season, remember to love-on yourself, not to punish or blame you. Be good to yourself, respect your well-being, and understand where you are and where you want to go; because it’s in those moments of grace, where the untangling begins, and where we see what cards to play next.

The mindset

camper with dog

One late August I rediscovered how to wrap myself with a little grace. To transition from a busy summer to starting the school year, my family and I went camping. We hooked up the RV (don’t judge me, we got our tent badge years ago) and settled in a wooded campsite. Faint smells of last night’s campfires drifted under my nose, the quaking leaves and distance boat motors rested on my shoulders. And the canopy of trees comforted my busy head. That weekend I made it a point to go for a walk at least twice a day, not for exercise, but for rest.

As I walked through the sun beamed shadows my mind went back to my roots. As a child I played in the woods for hours on end. My imagination soared between the branches. And my energy and creativity glowed with every step I took. It was there where I felt like I could accomplish anything, where I felt strong and confident, where I felt healthy. And here I was once again in the mindset I needed to continue to take-on.

The power of your refuge

My childhood goal for optimum health gave me a run for my money. My body has failed me over and over; funny how that works. If God wants me to have good health, He’s not going to give it to me on a silver platter; He knows I’m smart. He knows that if I want it bad enough, I’m going to use the gifts He gave me to figure it out. When I face a new challenge with my health, I head to the woods and fold my hands. I can’t stress enough of how many times I’ve heard Him speak and direct my path of who I need to talk to next, or what to try, or with even getting a last minute appointment. It’s been in my special sanctuary where I get instruction on what cards to play next.

God puts our special place of refuge in each of our hearts; mine is walking down a lined path of trees. Yours may be the beach, the mountains, the lake, the prairie, the park, the farm, or the river. Think of where you feel your best in nature, then go there for a dose of grace. You just may find your card strategy in reaching your goals and get a rekindle under feet.

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Courage and confidence? Go to the source.

Courage and confidence? Go to the source.

In 2007 my courage collapsed and my heart panted for fullness. My independence, which I held on to so tightly, attached to others. The attitude of do more than exist went to merely existing. But most of all my confidence and courage seeped further away from my core. Have you ever felt this way? Did you wonder how you were going to pull through? Our adversities are not only confusing, put paralyzing. However, there are a five antidotes to help resurrect us.

white dog running across bridge with courage and confidence

A little background

My hardship started in September of 2007 with a pregnancy disease that birthed at five weeks and proceeded to torment me for 31 weeks thereafter. During that anguish my skin was pale green, my mind a twisted mess of nausea, and relief was too far to be seen; I literally was fighting to just exist. Being dependent on others to help me function, let alone trust, made me feel like a failure. Things like, I can’t even take care of myself, swarmed my thoughts. Any physical excursion or consumption, of even water, was a cautious and fear-provoked decision. My ribs pierced from wrenching, and dehydration was the foremost threat.

The instant my healthy 7.1 pound baby boy was born, the sickness disappeared. Yet, the mental anguish was far from healing. Have you experienced an event like this in your life? Was it an illness, an unexpected break-up, a massive hit to your bank account, or a loss of something that meant so dear to you? I think the worse of it all is when it’s done, when we think we made it through, after-shocks sucker-punch us with unforeseen triggers we didn’t see coming.

When things don’t go our way

Those days still impress on my psyche today, how can it not? Yet immediately following the birth of my son, the fear of pregnancy halted our family plan. Two years later I knew I had to fight it. I knew I had to give it one more try; after all every pregnancy is different. This is where I’d like to tell you the second time around was easier, but friend, it was far from that and left our arms empty.

Answers to ‘how was I going to recover my confidence and courage’ slowly inflated my hope. Those answers didn’t come from a special diet, therapist, or medical doctor. The true answers came from one source, Jesus. He had a plan that didn’t match up with ours and I had to trust Him.

You see when I prayed before our second pregnancy, I didn’t hear a “Yes” like I did with our first. With our first baby, my husband and I waited eight years before I drummed up the courage to even pray about it. And when I did pray, I heard a clear “Yes!” But the second go around, I heard a solid “No”. Of course I didn’t want to believe it, a no to another child? That doesn’t make sense! So I took my destiny into my own hands. And it didn’t turn out as planned

Subtle answers

Bit by bit I had to rebuild my confidence and courage using my anguish as building blocks and my faith as mortar. Jesus didn’t come down from a cloud and profoundly say, “You are healed child”. I certainly would have accepted that if He did! It was through His followers who physically passed His love on. He used other people in subtle ways to comfort my broken heart and body. Jesus equips us to love, and honestly that’s all he wants us to do, is love. In 1 Corinthians 13:7-8 Paul says, “It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (NIV)  

I needed to not only learn to love who I was now, but I needed to learn how to use love to become the confident and courageous person I sought out to be. Moving from just existing to living a life of fullness isn’t about accomplishing amazing feats or earning a special degree, and so forth; it’s about loving others the way Jesus does. It sounds easy, but it’s the doing that’s hard.

tools to give us confidence

Five easy additions to build courage & confidence

Since God is love. Who do you think we need to connect with to learn how to love? Rick Warren says, “When you are disconnected from God, you’re not really living; you just exist.”

So, how do we connect with our Heavenly Father? How do we hear clear answers? I go to church. I pray. Isn’t that connecting? Yes friend, it is. But there are some easy additions which can lead us to live a do-more-than-exist kind of life. Let me share with you what I have learned so far in this journey:

1 – Emotion. When clarity is the question, I don’t hold emotion back. I pray with strong emotion, whether it be anger, sadness, joy, or excitement. Expressing it to Him helps keep things real. Emotion develops a relationship with Him, a trust.

2 – Music. Listening, singing, humming, and dancing to music that is good for our souls, brings us closer to our Creator. In this day and age Christian music isn’t just hymns. It has developed to feed all our genres. The writers and bands have done a great job at helping us fend off the Enemy and open our hearts for answers and comfort. Give it a try.

3 – Nature. Our beloved Anne Frank says, “The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely, or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy amidst the simple beauty of nature. …I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.”  Numerous studies show that… simply sitting looking at the trees reduces stress-related hormones. And the University of Minnesota says there’s “a growing prevalence of depression caused by ‘nature deprivation’.” Maybe we should think about spending more time in God’s creation.

4 – Church.  There is something to be said about being around other Christ followers. It’s kind of like a family reunion. Being surrounded by a common denominator encourages us, comforts us, and brings us closer to Him. We all have the same goal so-to-speak. The hard part is finding a church that fits you and your worship style. Keep hunting until you find it, you’ll know when you found it.

5 – Gratefulness. Being grateful changed my game. For me to love myself and to pass love on to others, I had to learn how to be grateful even when it didn’t make sense. Gratefulness brought me out of adversity. Before we move forward, understand I’m not grateful for the hardships we face in life. I’m talking about the little things that surround us, those things we don’t even notice; like clean water out of our faucets, cozy beds to rest our bodies, medical help at our fingertips, and grocery stores to feed us. I’m talking about the love He gives us in delicate ways like music, flowers, and comforting smells.

Yet, what about those moments when you step-out and help someone? When you smile at someone even though you don’t feel like it…and they smile back? Sometimes to get what we want we have to give it first. I’m grateful for those promptings where we use our gifts to brighten someone’s day even when our life is a mess. It takes courage and confidence to make those things happen. And I’m grateful for our time He gives us and the freedom to choose how to use it, especially if it involves our calling.

If you’re hurting in a specific area of your life I encourage you to begin with being thankful for each comfort you receive every day. When we recognize the little things, the small achievements, the flickers of love passed hand to hand, then our courage and confidence surfaces and we begin to see what life is all about…love. 

By CT Copyright © 2019 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved. 

Baby picture can untangle an identity crisis?

Baby picture can untangle an identity crisis?

Have you ever looked at your baby picture and asked yourself, “Am I the person you thought I was going to be?” baby sittingI know that sounds weird asking a baby picture a question, but what do you think your answer would be? Identity, or lack of, affects not only your own well-being, but the goodness of others.

Back in 2006 I had one of those “clarity moments”. I’d been in the corporate life for a few years; I had a nice paycheck and benefits. Yet I was anxious. I remember looking around the office and asking myself, “Is this what I want my life to look like?” Windowless office, sitting, doing more work than my superior, sitting, trying to look busy on slow days, and sitting. My eyes were tired, my butt was sore, and I felt underappreciated. The worst part was I started to feel disconnected from myself. My abilities and gifts were not being used the way I imagined them to be. Have you been there?

I wanted to blame someone else

I wanted to blame someone else for my circumstance, but I couldn’t because I owned it. You see, I’m NOT a desk-sitting-for-8-hours kind of person, but I didn’t know that then. In fact, I didn’t know who I was anymore. I just went through the motions, identifying myself with my job like everyone else. Get this; more than 70% of people in the work force aren’t satisfied with their career choices. Well, I was certainly one of those people.*

“Oh Dear God, what do I do?” I prayed. I wasn’t expecting to hear anything back; I just prayed to get it off my shoulders and put it on His.

About a day after that prayer I felt a thump, thump, thump. Something was trying to get my attention. “Who’s there?” A few days went by and again I heard the thumping. On that particular weekend, my parents cleaned their book shelves and gave me my old photo album. I used to look through this album all the time as a kid. But that evening after I got home, I sat quietly on my bed and flipped through the pages with adult eyes. As I looked inside myself through the pigtails, dirt scuffed knees, and dress-up clothes; I could sense God talking to me but I wasn’t sure what He was saying. So I left it.

‘eh, no big deal’

In 2007 I memorized a few Bible verses thinking ‘eh, no big deal’, but before I knew it I was sitting in my boss’s office reciting the verses and giving up my desk chair! It wasn’t all unicorns and rainbows after I left. In fact, the funny thing was…it didn’t solve my core problem at all, but I now knew what my problem was. My whole obstacle in finding Joy in my journey was my lack of validation that I even existed! 

Back to the photo album I went to look specifically at my baby picture. I wanted to see what God saw when He created me. As my eyes warmed, my heart dropped a little. After a catch of my breath, I squinted deeply into the picture. My heart thumped, like that thumping I felt earlier. And I whispered, “I see you. Don’t go anywhere. I’ll catch up.”

DMTE started from an identity crisis.

It’s taken me a while to understand that Identity isn’t a fixed ‘thing’. It music notesisn’t a job, label, health issue, birth order, or past event ‘deal’. Identity isn’t something perfect in its right place. It’s a breathing beat that influences our choices. At times we hear the beat clearly and in a rhythmic pattern; other times its faint and conflicting. During those faint times life can be frustrating, stressful, and a bit depressing. I’ve been there. And to think this crisis only affects you, is wrong. The people around you feel it too. From that point on I was on a quest to figure out how to make harmony with my identity and what the world throws at it. It’s been a fun ride and an eye-opening venture; I can’t wait to share all I’ve learned and experienced. So I made it my mission to help people find value in themselves and for them to live a life that brings value to others.

One of the ways to do this is to get a better understanding of our identity. Not just by searching within, but looking up. We were made for a reason, so why not ask Him what it is? I want to play my unique beat in a way that sends an inspiring message for the world to hear and learn from. Don’t you? So when you feel the thumping; I hope you know where to look to find out ‘Who’s there’ because without your unique beat, the world suffers a little bit more. Take a look at your baby picture this weekend and ask it a question.

*For more reading about your career and shocking statistics Forbes has a good article here.

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By CT Copyright © 2018 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

3 Ways Depression Can Make You Stronger

3 Ways Depression Can Make You Stronger

We’re climbing out of our crevasse of depression; occasionally we slip back, but catch ourselves by our jagged fingernails. We’re exhausted, feel weak, but try to press on. Out of desperation we continue to reach for the next ledge. How do we gain life from a dark icy hole?

For five years+ I suffered from depression due to events in my life. To make matters worse I became frustrated during those years because depression was messing with my identity. I felt like I just existed.

Depression is a common illness that negatively affects how we feel, the way we think and how we act. It can last a couple days, a few months, a handful of years, or a lifetime. It is a perplexed state of not knowing how to shut it off.

People don’t like to talk about depression. But people don’t talk about it enough.

How does depression happen? There are a number of factors…too many to list, but usually it’s when one event piles up after another. Recently we’ve heard social media being a player (or layer) in depression. Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, says, “It’s not an exaggeration to describe iGen as being on the brink of the worst mental health crisis in decades…it’s largely because of Smartphones.” Social media is a false measure of our identities.

This isn’t just for iGen, it’s happening to other generations. Why? We want to be accepted yet be ourselves and for people to ‘like’ us no matter what. When this happens our values collide. Could this desire alone be the root of all depression?

But here’s something I bet you didn’t know: Depression can make you stronger.

This post isn’t about how to get through depression or manage Smartphone apps; it’s about what to do with depression when you’re climbing out of it.

“Sometimes when you’re in a dark place you think you’ve been buried,    but you’ve actually been planted.” – Christine Caine

Our dark days can bring strength or weakness; it’s how we see it. You know how I said I just existed? Of course I’m going to feel that way. But as I look back, I noticed this period of life wasn’t to hurt me, it was to strengthen me.

“Experience brings understanding.

Hurt develops empathy.

Renewal cultivates compassion.”

– Christy Troy

When we’ve ‘been there’, we start to see the eyes of people differently. Let me reiterate, depression can make us stronger or weaker by how we use that experience in our life.

Using our troubles to help rather than hide-in produces strength. Our strength in moving forward, in doing more than existing, is having the courage to help people who are going through the same trials we’ve been through. This heals.

Here are 3 ways of how I used depression to make me stronger:

1- I sought God, my Creator, the Truth.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. It is then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing, and perfect will” -Romans 12:2.

God gave me light. This verse gave and gives me permission to step away from the world, its expectations, and false gods; and to seek the truth, to strengthen myself, and to use my experiences to test God’s will for my life.

2- I sought someone out.

This isn’t easy. People don’t talk about this stuff. So I had to be the one who pursued people who went through what I did, and to talk with them about it. Talking with someone who ‘gets-it’ brings comfort.

I sought out a professional who brought clarity on my issue.***

3- I sought my identity.

I looked at my baby picture. I looked in the mirror. God didn’t create me to be sad. He created me to have joy.

In John 15:11 Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” He’s saying come to me, know me, and I’ll sustain you when adversity hits.

I dug into the Word, I helped others, I took better care of my body and stress, and I explored my heart to help me see the big picture.

We will all occasionally be visited by depression. But at least we know how to climb out a little faster and stronger than we did before. The hardest part is reaching for that next ledge. What do you want?

Action Steps: write Romans 12:2 on a note card and put it somewhere you can read every day. Write one thing you have learned about yourself in the dark days, how are you going to use that?

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Disclaimer

*** I’d be happy to recommend a certified counselor or therapist who I trust and respect.

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

4 Ways to Make Your Own Trail

4 Ways to Make Your Own Trail

“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I read these words from Ralph Waldo Emerson on a whiteboard in college. “Say what?” I thought, “Make my own path?”

When I graduated college (20+ years ago) I couldn’t find a job in my major. Making my own path was unheard of. The road to my field was blinded by red tape and jammed with people. CNBC states, “51 percent of graduates from the classes of 2014 and 2015 said they are working in jobs that do not require their college degree…” Yet we still pursue our loves, don’t we.

My frontier-of-a-career-path looked far-flung. I worked hard in other jobs, I tried new things, I even had my own business for 10 years; yet I never…felt…fulfilled.

When we are born, God plants a seed in us. People call it purpose, will, calling, or gift. I call it a journey. Some lucky few know their ‘purpose’ right away. For others it takes more time. Yet for some they never cultivate the seed and it dies.

Here’s the hope: when we are on the wrong path, God will correct us IF we ask Him. Proverbs 3:6, “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” He will instruct by a whisper, words through a person, His Word, or an event. He will point. My redirect was an event. I suffered through a harsh pregnancy and miraculously gave birth to a healthy baby. My eyes were certainly opened!

My perspective transformed from wanting an ‘important’ career, to wanting to be ME again. Can you relate? I want my child to see ME, the person who is passionate about her dreams, not a rat race pretender. If there is one thing I can give this world, it’s the yield from the seed God planted in me, the light He breathed into my dreams; which leads me back to my beginnings.

Let me ask you a question: What were your dreams when you were 20?

Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.” It’s in this context that helped me get back to being a pioneer of my own path.

Joyce Meyer, Christian author and speaker, says this, “Your priority is NOT to keep everyone else in your life happy by doing all the things they expect; it is to live a life that is pleasing to God and one that you can enjoy.”

My path got pushed, pulled, twisted, and stretched in some directions that made me stronger yet in other tracks made me wonder; exhausting, yet priceless. Today my path is straighter, full of experiences, stepping stones, and challenges all which help nurture my ‘journey’.

Here are 4 ways to get started in developing your own path:

  1. Proactively seek a relationship with God every day.
  2. Make peace with past decisions; and see how they helped rather than deterred.
  3. Never lose sight of what you want.
  4. Practice bravery.

Ralph Waldo Emerson wasn’t talking about how to climb the corporate ladder, he was talking about well-being. Your unique path is a journey based on bravery, faith, and being true to yourself. Explore your existence; listen for direction, and create new ways to leave a trail.

We’re here to make trails, not to follow ones.

By CT Copyright © 2017 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

References:

* http://www.cnbc.com/2016/05/16/college-grads-enjoy-the-best-job-market-in-years.html

Want to get more out of life? Be Aware.

Want to get more out of life? Be Aware.

“Shh…walk softly on the dock, we don’t want to scare the fish,” my dad instructed. It was a summer morning. The lake was glass. Today, at seven years old, I was going to learn how to fish.CTFishon

We got into our boat, started the motor, and trolled to our fishing spot. My dad whispered instructions on how to bait the hook. He showed me how to adjust the bobber, and he demonstrated how to be quiet watching for signs of a hungry fish.

I wasn’t just learning how to fish; I was learning how to become more aware of my surroundings.

What exactly is awareness? Wikipedia explains it like this: Awareness is the ability to directly know and perceive, to feel, or to be conscious of events, objects, thoughts, emotions, or sensory patterns.

As the world drives to go faster, being aware of what’s going on around us and in us is getting lost. We get so focused on our to-do lists, phones, and work that we forget to stop and look around.

There were two major events that helped me understand how important it was to be aware of my surroundings. One was the fishing. And the other was when I endured a rare sickness.

Awareness doesn’t come naturally; it is a skill that can be learned or in some cases forced. Not too long ago I felt that force…not Luke Skywalker ‘force’, more like the ‘dark side’. My body suffered, so much so, the tiniest movements made me fall ill… for months on end. It was hard for others to understand what I was going through.

What I noticed while going through this torturing sickness was the love and compassion of others. I never really paid attention to it before because I wasn’t the receiver of it. I became instantly more aware of how powerful a card was, how impactful a visit was, how humbling a listening ear was, and how a small smile from a stranger made me feel.

I also became more aware of the power and reality of spiritual presence.  My faith grew stronger every day I suffered; I became more aware of His grace and protection. If I hadn’t endured this suffering my eyes would have missed these little gems of light in our broken world.

Want to get more out of life? Be aware of the peace that is offered daily by nature, the kindness that is freely given by others, and the small blessings that are awarded without reason. I encourage you to stop and look around; for I know you’ll be amazed of what you see.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Running CAN Change the World

Running CAN Change the World

It was the first day of track practice. I was a freshman in high school. This year I was going to run the 800 meter. But today I was in for a surprise I would carry for years to come.

My track coach guided us to dirt trails in the woods behind the school. He said, “Ok guys, we’re going to do the three mile loop before we practice on the track.” I looked at my friend with wide eyes and whispered, “I’m a sprinter. I’m not sure I can do this.” My stomach fluttered. I took a deep breath. My coach instructed, “Pace yourself.” I had no idea what he meant.

That day was the start of a new habit I would use and apply to my personal life, work, and spiritual arena. Who knew running would be so beneficial for not only the body, but for the mind. I was definitely tired that day, but more so I was amazed that I was actually running long distance!

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My self-doubt turned into self-confidence. As I practiced long distance running more and more I began to feel it change me. It changed not just my physique, but how I thought. I learned how to think about nothing; yet also how to think and solve problems. I learned how to take notice of nature. I learned how to think creatively. And I learned how running can make me go further in life. I gained more confidence in school, I thought clearer, and I had more courage… all because of running.

Just knowing I had an outlet (running) for hard days, was comforting. I knew that running may not solve all my problems, but it would get my blood flowing and mind working on how to understand my challenges.

My Pastor preached awhile ago about how we can help the world. He mentioned during his message that he was a runner and how much he depended on his runs. He said running helped clear his mind and solve problems. I could relate.

But he said something I disagreed with. Nonchalantly he slipped in there, “Running doesn’t help the world”. Well that caught my attention and I wasn’t going to let that fly. That afternoon I e-mailed him and said, “Pastor, you say a lot of things that are right, but today you got something a little wrong… about running. It may not be the activity that helps the world, but it’s what the activity does for the person who can change the world.”

Outdoor activities like running, cycling, walking, hiking, even gardening do more than you think. Keep at it, you’ll change the world.

By CT Copyright © 2016 More Than Existence All Rights Reserved.

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to the Light of the World! May you soften hard hearts at unexpected times and ignite the Holy Spirit in our own spirit to become more like you. Thank you for your love, unforeseen blessings, and the desire to do more than our existence.

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