What Matters Most

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Many people make resolutions, vowing to do things differently in the coming year.  Some people choose to live from “One Word”, letting that word give their lives direction and focus.  Either way, the intention is to create forward progress in our lives, and that’s a good thing!

Ultimately, the New Year is a perfect time to take inventory – of the past, present and future.  I was recently inspired by my friend Amy Volk to take a look at my life through a three-word question – “What Matters Most?”.  I was fooled by its simplicity, thinking it would be a breeze to catalog what matters most to me.

But this question requires that we dig deep to determine what REALLY matters most!  What I love about this question is that it distinguishes the landmarks that help keep us on track during our journey.  What matters most isn’t necessarily related to an end result or a big goal, instead it directly influences the steps we take in our day to day living.

We can choose to compartmentalize what matters to you most, and answer that question in relationship to your career, your family or your fitness.  However, with this being my first time tackling this exercise, I prefer to answer the question on a more general basis.  What matters most in my life, regardless of what role I’m playing.  So here goes…..

WHAT MATTERS MOST TO ME…..

Live an authentic life – I lived much of my younger life not liking who I was, and therefore trying to be something other than me.  ME is who I am!  I don’t want to run from the truth any longer, I want to embrace it and be AUTHENTIC, and in so doing, hopefully give others the freedom to do the same.

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Make time to be quiet – I’m discovering that I have a pattern of filling my life up with things to do, to a point of overwhelm.  Typically, there is never enough time to simply fulfill my commitments, let alone take time to be QUIET, reflect, and connect with the universe.  Making time to be quiet has become essential to my well being.

JOY – Be joy, do joy, have joy!  Having lived this past year with JOY as my one word – it has become an integral part of who I am, and I don’t ever want to live without it again!

Be present and live in the moment – I have few regrets over the course of my life.  I do believe everything happens for a reason and I’m grateful for all the life lessons I’ve experienced.  If I were to get a do-over, the biggest change I would make is to live life PRESENT!  I missed way too much of my life by focusing on the conversations I was having in my head, with myself, instead of fully engaging, participating and connecting with what I was experiencing or who I was relating to.  I’m learning that when I am 100% present in the moment, regardless of what I’m doing, my life feels fuller.

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Make a difference – It wasn’t until my recent past that I began to really distinguish my ability to make a difference.  Perhaps it started once I got out of my head and stopped having so many conversation with myself (LOL!).  But I can honestly say I have become addicted to the feeling of contributing to others and making a DIFFERENCE.

Be a student of life – I don’t necessarily have a picture or expectation of exactly what this looks like.  I just know I want to live the opposite of a stagnant, predictable life.  Trying new things, stepping outside my comfort zone, and being scared, all give me the opportunity to experience a bigger life and discover more about myself and the world we live in.

Cherish my relationships – As I filled my life up with things to do, to finish, to succeed in, to accomplish….it left me little to no room for my relationships.  When it’s all said and done, what I’ve accomplished doesn’t impact me nearly as much as who I am in relationship with!  Regardless if it’s a 3 minute interaction with the grocery store clerk, a 30 minute conversation with my Dad, a  2 hour lunch with a friend, or an evening out with the family – the quality of the interaction and connection far outweighs the quantity of time spent.

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Be grateful – There is nothing more powerful than putting life into perspective through gratitude.  Discovering the practice of daily gratitude has made the life I have, the life I live, perfect just the way it is!

LOVE – I can’t fully speak to this one yet.  I haven’t totally owned it, but all signs are pointing towards LOVE as my one word for 2014.  I know in my heart that LOVE matters most, and as this year unfolds and I embrace it, experience it, seek it out, share it, and speak it – I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to write about love!

Wow – what a gut check!  I’ve mastered some elements of what matters most to me (joy and gratitude for sure).  But I clearly have some work to do in other areas.  Regardless of my destination, I will keep the things that matter most with me, knowing they will be the landmarks that keep me on track for my journey!

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Ready for a gut check too?  What matters most to you?

with Joy & Gratitude,

 

It’s That Time of Year Again….

It’s early December, which means it’s time to start the journey towards discovering our ONE WORD for 2014!  I’m beyond excited, both for the process of uncovering what my word is, and for the opportunity to live my life this next year from the simplicity of just one word.

If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then don’t waste a second, go to amazon.com and get yourself a copy of Jon Gordon’s “One Word That Will Change Your Life”!

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Let me be loud and clear when I tell you that I am NOT being paid, reimbursed, or rewarded in any way for promoting this book!  My motivation in sharing the one word concept with you (and strongly encouraging you to purchase the book) is simply because it changed my life.  It CHANGED MY LIFE, as in – my life will never be same after discovering and living from one word.

I first planted this seed in my One Word Wednesday post, which explains the premise of the book, how and why the one word concept works.  What I want to share now are some real life stories of my experience with my one word.

Jon Gordon shared this concept of living from one word at a conference I attended in 2010, prior to the book being published.  I connected with it, and chose contribution as my word for 2011, and purpose for 2012.  I read his book as soon as it hit the stands last December, and I finally had some structure to the process of identifying my one word.  While the first two years were impactful, this past year was powerful beyond words!

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Shortly after reading the book, the word that instantly came to me was JOY.  But sadly, I didn’t accept it as my word.  I felt like it was frivolous, so I disregarded it in search of a stronger, more powerful word.

During this time, while I was resisting the word JOY, I designed our family’s annual holiday card.  It wasn’t until I received the shipment in the mail a week later that I realized the coincidence of what I had created.   All my previous holiday cards were what you might call traditional, and somewhat typical, as far as holiday cards go.  I didn’t make a conscious decision to create a holiday card that was not only filled with joy, but had the word joy in it.  It just happened.  Perhaps the one word JOY spilled over into my design.  Or perhaps the card was a sign, a validation that JOY was the right word for me?

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As much as I tried to find a different word, a better word, the right word….the word JOY kept showing up, until just before the new year when I finally surrendered to it.  Yet even then I was still a bit skeptical.

Until the next sign came screaming loud and clear!

On January 2nd, my guy and I were on a plane together, flying to Hawaii for an incentive trip I had earned.  The trip was scheduled to take place in Waikiki, but we decided to go in a few days early and my guy booked us a room at a JW Marriott, in an area called Ko Olina, on the western side of the island.

It was during the flight that I shared my one word JOY (along with my initial resistance to it) with my guy.

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The view from our room in Ko Olina!

The next morning we enjoyed our breakfast at an outdoor cafe on the hotel property overlooking the ocean.  I was sipping coffee and fiddling with my iPhone when the waitress came to check on us.  My guy, always in search of a history lesson, casually said “So tell me about this place, this part of the island”.  To which the waitress replied “We are in Ko Olina, which means Place of Joy“.  My phone fell from my hands as I turned and stared at the waitress in both amazement and disbelief.  “Excuse me, what did you just say?”, I asked her.  Slightly confused, she repeated it “Ko Olina means Place of Joy“.  Before she could finish her sentence my eyes locked onto my guy’s eyes and without saying a word, we both knew that JOY was absolutely the most perfect word for me.  I couldn’t keep the poor waitress in the dark, so of course I shared the whole story with her….and encouraged her to get the book too!

The third and final sign that sealed the JOY deal for me occurred in late February at a local Silpada event I was participating in.  Following some morning training (I led a segment for our team on One Word – go figure!), we hosted an open house for guests to preview the jewelry.  While I was in the banquet room, one of my customers arrived and approached the check in table where she was asked to specify which representative had invited her.  She said she couldn’t remember my name, but she began to describe what I looked like.  Based on the description given, the woman assisting her said “Oh, is her name Debi?”, to which my customer responded “No, I think her name was Joy!”.

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SOLD!  I didn’t need that last sign to validate my word choice, but it certainly solidified that JOY was absolutely the word I was meant to live from for 2013.  I can tell you theoretically about the one word journey, but so much of it needs to be experienced personally!  Initially I thought I was supposed to simply give JOY to the world.  What I didn’t realize was that JOY needed to be present in my life, it needed to start within me first.  Truth be told, I was living a joyless life and I didn’t even realize it!

This past year has been a pivotal year in my life, for more reasons that I could possibly include in a blog post (maybe a book?).  But when I look back over the details of 2013, everything revolved around my one word – JOY!  I created new areas in my life that brought me joy, I rediscovered joy in parts of my life where it had been lost.  I chose joy in situations that others would have deemed joyless.  I immersed myself in the concept of joy – feeling joy, being joyful, doing things that brought me joy, living with joy – regardless of the circumstances!

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It took me 47 years to understand the true meaning of this 3 letter word.  Joy is not synonymous with being happy.  Joy is a choice.  Joy comes from within.  For me, joy is a feeling of peace and perfection in the face of all that is chaotic and imperfect.

The result of living from my one word JOY for this past year, was that I not only learned to live a life of joy, but it ended up seeping out of my pours, such that I did ultimately give joy back to the world.

Each of our one word stories will be different.  But I’m confident, if you go all in, you can experience a life changing year by focusing on and living with the intention of just one word!

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I’m going to reread “One Word That Will Change Your Life” this week, and begin the journey towards discovering my one word for 2014.  I’m excited and nervous all at the same time.  What I know for sure is that I learned my lesson, I will not resist the word that shows up for me this year.  Instead I will trust that in all my unknowing, it will be the perfect word for me.

Stay tuned – I’ll be sure to share my 2014 word with you in a future post.  In the meantime, I would LOVE to hear from you!  Did you have a word for 2013?  Do you have any one word stories to share?  How has living from one word changed your life?  Will you choose a word to live from in 2014?

P.S. – You can connect with Jon Gordon on his blog and Facebook.

with Joy & Gratitude,

Awesome Action Friday – PLAY!

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Our lives are filled with so many responsibilities.  We have obligations to our jobs, spouses, children, pets, homes, volunteer organizations, churches, and the list goes on.  We work hard all week long.  Often times the weekend comes and goes, and our time was spent managing the details of life and attending to our responsibilities.

WE WORK HARD!

So we’d better make sure we PLAY HARD too!

I decided to google the definition of weekend and was pleasantly surprised to find that it is not only defined as “the period from Friday evening through Sunday evening” but also included “regarded as a time for leisure“.  If a weekend is intended to be a time for leisure, which is really just a grown up word for play, then we need to make sure we are making time to play….and to play hard!

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PRACTICE RANDOM ACTS OF AWESOMENESS

PLAY!!!  The awesome action challenge is to have a weekend with intentional PLAY time!

Playing is not the same as relaxing.  To play is a verb, which means “to engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose”.  What a powerful definition!  I think I need to post that on my kitchen wall as a constant reminder.

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Be silly, be childlike, be uninhibited…..just PLAY!

  • Have a bubble gum blowing contest
  • Walk in the rain and jump barefoot in puddles
  • Go for a bike ride, and make a detour at the ice cream shop
  • Have a water balloon fight (or use Silly String)
  • Put 1 marsh-mellow in your mouth at a time, and say “Chubby Bunny” after each one
  • Turn your favorite music up really loud, and dance like no one is watching

What do you LOVE to do?

What brings you JOY?

What puts a SMILE on your face?

What gives you a belly LAUGH?

What makes you feel like a KID again?

Whatever it is – make it a priority to do it this weekend!  Plan some PLAY time into your life!

*Awesome Action BONUS*

Want to play really hard?  Double your play time!  However much time you were intending to dedicate to playing, double it!  While you’re at it, go ahead and schedule your PLAY time for next weekend too!

I’d love to hear from you!  How are you going to PLAY this weekend?

with Joy & Gratitude,

Sing, Sing a Song…..

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What is it about music?

It’s like a drug, coursing through your bloodstream, affecting your mood from the inside out.

Music can calm a racing heart….

Music can put a smile on a somber face….

Music can force the body into rhythmic movement….

What is it about music?

The sounds, the rhythm, the melody, the vibrations, the tune, the beat – music speaks a language unlike any other.

Music can be soothing….

Music can tell a story….

Music can create energy and enthusiasm….

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A musician is an artist who paints with sound.  Their creations come from a vulnerable place.  When they allow us to experience their music, they are speaking, from their soul to ours.

Music comes in as many different genres as there are flavors of ice cream – and the possibility to create something new is endless.  Whether you whistle, hum, sing, head bob, toe tap, or full out dance to the music of your choice, one thing is certain – music elicits a response!

Just like a child’s taste buds develop and expand over time, one’s propensity for different music types evolve as well.  Music has played an integral role in my life, more so than I realized, until I decided to take a brief walk down memory lane.

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My introduction to music was falling asleep each night to my mother singing to me.  Once I got my feet under me, I would twirl, skip and dance to Carol King, Frank Sinatra and a variety of show tunes.

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My school years consisted of ballet and jazz classes, singing in the school chorus, and flute and saxophone lessons.  By high school, I regretfully decided that dancing to and creating music wasn’t ‘cool’ – so I stopped.  This is when I fell in love with listening to music, simply for the sheer enjoyment of it.  The Who, Jackson Browne, The Doors – I know, I’m totally dating myself!

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Thanks to some awesome, music loving roommates, my college years were consumed with an eclectic repertoire of music.  That was long before we had ‘playlists’, so we relied on making our own mixed tapes.  I still have a few of those in my memory box, but unfortunately I no longer have any equipment to play them on.  Listening to pre-recorded music is awesome, but having the pleasure of experiencing a musician perform live in concert is most definitely doubly-awesome!  My college favorites included The Talking Heads, B. B. King and The Grateful Dead.

 

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I got caught up in the post college rat race of getting a job, paying bills, and trying to ‘find myself’….and somehow I lost my connection with music for quite a few years.  But at the birth of my first son, I rediscovered my need for music, when I spontaneously began singing him the very songs my Mom had sung to me.  It wasn’t long before Barney’s ‘I Love You’ and Raffi’s ‘The Wheels on the Bus’ became the most frequently listened to tunes in our household.  Our home quickly filled up with music, and included everything from children’s songs to classic rock.

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In the blink of an eye, we had teenagers!  With that, came iPods, iTunes, iPhones – music, music everywhere!  I have a vivid memory of being a teenager and battling with my parents over what music we would listen to on the car radio.  To say they didn’t like my music choices was an understatement.  I remember thinking “I will not be one of those parents”.

You’d probably think my playlist would be drastically very from my 14 and 17 year old boys, but it’s not!  They have been generous in sharing their love of current music and I’ve been open minded and accepting of most of it.  The common question we ask as we’re about to cook, play cards or just hang out together is “Your playlist or mine?”

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Music has been like a best friend – always knowing exactly what I need in the moment, and always there for me!  I’ve gone under anesthesia to James Taylor, done a flash mob dance to the Black Eyed Peas, sat anxiously through a 2 hour dental appointment to John Mayer, survived a grueling workout to Eminem, boogied on the dance floor to Donna Summer, driven down the road with all the windows open to Bruno Mars and written countless blog posts to Natasha Bedingfield, The Script, Adele and Train – just to name a few.

Let MUSIC be your addiciton!

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I had forgotten how much I LOVE being a part of a live performance until this past weekend.  While singing and dancing (and smiling from ear to ear) at the Maroon 5 concert on Friday night, I paused and noticed how grateful I was for the sheer bliss I was feeling!  I’ve definitely added ‘going to concerts’  to my  LOVE LIST!

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Let MUSIC be your medicine!

Let it comfort you when you’re sad, let it partner with you when you want to dance, let it hug you when you’re lonely, let it take you back to the ‘good ole days’, let it connect you with your kids, let it sooth you when you’re anxious, let it tell you a story, let it make your soul sing!

 

This YouTube video is a PERFECT representation of how music can make us feel – worth watching more than once!  I have to forewarn you that Grandma lets a 4-letter word slip out of her mouth at the very end.

with Joy & Gratitude,

What Do You Love?

 

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What do you LOVE?

At first glance it may seem like a simple question to answer.  Perhaps for some of you, it is?

When my friend Amy first suggested I start a blog, my first question to her was ‘What do I write about?’  She replied ‘Write about what you LOVE!’

That sounded easy enough – except it stopped me in my tracks!

Of course there are the obvious – I love my husband,  our children, our 2 yellow labs, my extended family and friends….

But then what?

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So I decided to start a LOVE list.  There were no rules or guidelines as to what could be added to the love list – this was mine to create.  With pencil in hand, I set out to write down everything I could think of that I loved.  The first item on the list was skiing, followed by  photography…..and then a long bout of writer’s block.

That was it?   Just TWO items on my list!

I felt defeated as I shoved the list in my purse and went about my day.  It was at least 6 hours later when my next love item hit me, and I felt giddy with excitement remembering how much I had loved throwing clay on a potter’s wheel.  I grabbed my crumpled list from the depths of my purse and with great satisfaction I added the third item to my love list.  That opened the flood gates and the list quickly grew to a whopping 6 things I love.

That’s when I realized my love list was a work in progress.  The reality was I had lost touch with what I loved, and I needed to recreate it one  love item at a time.

Each of our stories are different, but chances are many of us have our focus on our children, homes, spouses, jobs, ailing parents, volunteer positions, pets….everything BUT ourselves!

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When we fulfill so many different roles in our life, our “giving” cup gets drained over time.  If we continually give our time, energy, and support to others, without taking care of ourselves, eventually we will feel depleted and have nothing left to give.

Taking care of ourselves by exercising regularly, making healthy food choices, getting enough sleep and scheduling doctor’s appointments is necessary, but that’s simply critical maintanence.  It doesn’t fill our cup back up!

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A requirement to replenishing our “giving” cup is to frequently put ourselves first, which means making time to do, have and experience the things we LOVE most!

My love list has grown since I first started it, but here are the first 20 items on my list:

1. Downhill Skiing

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2.  Photography

3.  Pottery

4.  The sound of running water

5.  Long bike rides

6.  Girl Scout Cookies

7.  Crossfit

8.  Early mornings by myself

9.  Cribbage

10.   Boating – tubing, wake boarding, water skiing or just cruising

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11.  Red wine

12.  Snow

13.  Rainy day movie marathon in my pj’s

14.  Sleeping outside

15.  Dancing – all by myself or in large groups

16.  Thanksgiving

17.  Playing my flute

18.  Ping Pong

19.  Handstands

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20.  College campuses

There is no limit, so start your LOVE list and watch it grow.  Remember, creating your love list is just the foundation.  Incorporating things from your love list into your life is where the magic happens.

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Fill YOUR cup up!

with Joy & Gratitude,