This summer I have set a goal for myself to get in shape before I head back to school in September. In previous summers unfortunately I had done the exact opposite. My mentality was that I was on “holidays” so I deserved to live a little. Keeping with this thought process, I would allow myself to have a lot of unhealthy food and basically do as I pleased, not concerned about exercise in the least. Well that kind of approach caught up to me. When the clothes started to get tighter and the scale began to go up, I had only myself to blame. For the past few years I have established workout routines that have been successful, yet staying consistent is something I am striving to overcome. My new workout routine includes something I have never done before: running. Ironically, while I had been considering running earlier this summer, that very week my son suggested I take up running as well. That was all the confirmation I needed to get off and "running." No pun intended. Although I have just begun this process, I have learned the value of working toward a goal with a proper plan. These tips apply to more than just running, but to life in general.
Make Realistic Goals
When I first started running, I was given a challenge of running from Point A to Point B which was a very short distance. I remember rolling my eyes thinking it was too difficult, but somehow to my surprise, I did it. The secret of my success was I began with something achievable. This is so important because I was setting myself up to be successful, not to fail. I have really developed an even deeper respect for Terry Fox and all he accomplished as a runner through this process. In life many of us struggle because we set goals that are too difficult for ourselves, and when we don’t achieve them, we get so discouraged. Setting attainable goals and achieving them will inspire you to strive to set new ones. There is no greater feeling than accomplishing something you thought you could never do.
Have Friends by Your Side
It is no secret that having people run alongside you in your journey will keep you motivated. My kids have been running with me. As they are getting in shape too, we are encouraging each other. My son often times me when I run a lap at the track, and validates me when I am finished. When I feel like quitting, he will run alongside me and cheer me on to reach the finish line. Having people by your side who encourage you is so crucial to your success. It can be the difference between finishing strong and literally giving up. Having people by your side also increases your accountability which is so vital for sticking to your goals.
Keep Your Eye on the Prize
When you are working hard on any goal in life, there will be good days and bad days. Sometimes you will feel that you are on top of the world and there is nothing you cannot do. Other days you will struggle with motivation, and your efforts will reflect that. This is where many people can make the mistake of giving up. One bad day should not throw you off. Give yourself permission to learn from the process and get back at it as soon as possible. Remind yourself of why you started this journey and remember that things that are important in life are often difficult to achieve.
Set Yourself Up For Success
I would not go running in the heat of the day in jeans and flip flops. To do so would be totally ridiculous. If I am outside running, I choose the cool of the day later at night and wear proper clothing and footwear and have a water bottle with me. I also take lots of breaks in between where I will run and then walk for a bit. My stamina will eventually increase, but it takes time. Many people want what others have, but don’t want to put the time in. I know that I cannot expect to be running marathons right now, but each day I can try to run a bit further than the day before if I keep focused. I can already see improvement and I have only been running a short time.
Stay Focused on the Process, Not the Results
I used to be so consumed with weighing myself every day. It was funny the one day my scale was acting up and I was trying to explain it to my friend. I said “There is something wrong with my scale. Every time I get on the scale, I weigh less.” She was confused and said “What’s the issue? Way to go! That is fantastic!” I went on to say “No you don’t understand. If I get on in two or three times in a row, every time the scale reads less.” Now she understood. I wish scales really worked that way! When you are trying to reach goals, being faithful is the key. Just like when you plant seeds in a garden with proper sunlight and water you will see growth when the time is right.
Keep the Positive Talk Coming
At first I kept telling myself I could not be a runner of any sort. I had so many excuses why running was not for me and why I would fail. Then I had a revelation and thought to myself “Why am I telling myself that I will fail when I haven’t even tried?” Ouch! I recalled other times in my life I had done the same thing. I would admire others who were doing well and cheer them on in particular life areas, yet tell myself I could never do what they are doing. As long as I believed that negative self- talk I was truly stuck. Instead of saying “I can’t,” I have started to say “I will do my best and not give up.” Instead of believing that things in life are too hard, I strive to believe that I have what it takes to be successful if I just believe in myself. The Bible says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Over and over the Bible gives positive validations and Christ is in my corner cheering me on too! This is very encouraging.
So keep on running your race, whatever it may be. You are not alone. Remember these tips and believe you can do it. It is truly incredible what you can accomplish when you focus and decide to not give up until you reach the finish line!
Until next time,
Hebrews 12:1 ~ Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.
Little Lesson Learned: Keep on running after your goals. The race may seem longer or more difficult than what you anticipated, but crossing that finish line is truly incredible!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015
Last summer my daughter and I heard that our favourite recording artist Hunter Hayes was coming to a nearby town that December for his “Tattoo Your Name" tour. To say that we were ecstatic and overjoyed was truly an understatement. We had been following Hunter and his touring schedule for quite some time on social media and were huge fans of his incredible talents. Not only is he extremely gifted musically, but also is a very well -grounded individual who is really a great role model for today’s youth. The fact that we were going to go to that concert was a given, but when I heard about a local radio contest to win a pair of tickets, I was immediately intrigued and very enthusiastically on board. Little did I know what was in store for me on this wild and crazy quest to get tickets.
One of Hunter’s songs is called Invisible. The radio station put out a challenge to email in your best “invisible” picture to win tickets. At first as you might imagine, I was very confused. How do you take a picture of something invisible? As I read more about it on the website, I understood and then thought of some really cool options. Basically what you were supposed to do was to send in a picture with something missing, yet imply that it was there. I came up with some great ones in my humble opinion. I sent my bare left hand to show off my awesome, invisible engagement ring. My mom showcased her shoulder to show off her impressive, invisible tattoo which was another of Hunter’s songs. I thought of everything from the invisible yard sale, to the invisible kids' first day of school, to my personal favourite which was the invisible man takes the Ice Bucket Challenge. As the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was all the rage that summer, I thought it was genius! I cannot lie. I was very proud of myself and my creativity and was quite sure that I was a key contender for the coveted pair of tickets. In total I sent in about 30 pictures, so needless to say I was very optimistic about my chances. Well sadly, to my disappointment I did not win as I had misunderstood and thought the most creative picture would win the tickets. This was not the case. It was simply for every picture you sent in, you had one more chance in a random draw to win. I was discouraged, yet still fiercely determined to still try to win tickets.
Faithfully I tuned in to our local country music station as they were giving away tickets daily to a “certain” caller. I could do this! I would not give up and I so wanted to tell my daughter I had done this for us. Well as fate would have it, on a day that I had very little faith, my second chance to win tickets miraculously arrived. After hearing the phone ring and ring and ring to the radio station, to my shock, the radio host actually answered. I was the “right” caller! I had won the tickets! I was ecstatic and so proud of myself that my persistence had paid off. Wrong! This particular day you had to answer a trivia question about Hunter to win the tickets. The host said “Now listen carefully …” as he proceeded to read at lightning speed, a very impressive list of facts about Hunter. My mind was racing. My heart was pounding! I kept thinking what else could I say that he hasn’t mentioned already? Truth be told, I wasn’t even listening because I was reviewing Hunter Hayes' song titles and other interesting facts about him in my mind like a mad woman. What happened next is a very painful memory for me that left me in heartbreak and tears. To this day I still cringe. The host asked me two very fair questions about things that he had just mentioned about Hunter, yet to my horror I could not recall either of them. I felt sick. I desperately tried to remember as I frantically said to the gracious and patient host “I knew I should have written things down!” My heart sunk as he said “I’m so sorry Dana. Keep trying o.k.?” Not only was I so discouraged about losing the tickets, I was also extremely embarrassed for not winning what was a very fair contest.
My family was very supportive of me and felt very bad about the whole scenario. They actually found it quite humorous, but I still could not see anything to laugh about at that particular time. Still I was determined to get the tickets somehow. It became an obsession. I had no problem paying for them, it was just that they were to go on sale when I was at work and I was so afraid they would sell out. Here’s where the story gets real interesting. When I least expected it and when I felt that going to the concert may never be a reality for me, a light came through the darkness from none other than Hunter Hayes himself! What? Yes my friends, it is true. That night on Facebook on his page Hunter was advertising a presale for his biggest fans. I one of his biggest fans, not to mention at present very discouraged fan, felt suddenly very optimistic. By entering the word “flashlight” you could beat the box office and purchase tickets ahead of time. I jumped at the chance to finally have my long sought after tickets. We purchased what was called the “Wild Card Package” which was based on another one of his songs. We had excellent seats and little did we know just how close to Hunter we would actually get that night. There was a little stage right beside our seats and when we inquired what it was for to a security person, he proudly replied “Hunter is coming out to sing right there!” Could we be any more lucky and excited?
Well the concert was amazing as we anticipated and we could not have had a better time. We wore bracelets that lit up in different colours that pulsated to the song beats, got lots of great pictures and made some wonderful memories we will always cherish. My daughter kept saying over and over again “This is the best night of my life!" I was determined that my quest for Hunter Hayes tickets would have a happy ending and we got it! I can laugh about it now, but for a while this was painful for me to talk about as silly as it sounds.
So what was the reason for sharing this little story? Well you know me and know by now I find the “little lesson,” in many of life’s most painful moments. I included this to remind everyone, myself included that things that are important to us are worth fighting for, no matter how big or small and that a bad situation can get better when we least expect it. I was determined to get tickets, yet getting them was not easy. I suffered disappointment, embarrassment, frustration and stress, but I was eventually successful in the end by my decision to not give up. Securing concert tickets are one thing. Trust me I realize many of us have much more serious things we are fighting for. In many areas of life we are striving to better a situation, yet try as we may, we see no change in sight. It is during those times that I encourage you to not lose hope. Keep the faith. Just like Hunter himself coming to my rescue over a pair of tickets with the word “flashlight,” a light will come into your dark situation, if you are patient, diligent and willing to realize that important things in life take time to materialize. Sometimes we can be so close to a positive change or breakthrough in our lives, but just can’t see it. God is with us and wants to help our darkness turn to light and to turn our tears to joy. Trust me if He saw fit to get me a pair of concert tickets which is a small thing in this thing called life, He is able to partner with you in the bigger things. A song I often sing is called He’ll Find a Way.
The chorus states:
“For I know that if He can paint a sunset and put the stars in place,
If He can move a mountain and calm the storm tossed waves,
If He can conquer death forever to open Heaven’s gates,
I know for you, He’ll see you through!
He’ll find a way!”
My complicated quest for Hunter Hayes tickets had a happy ending after all. I am believing for that for you too in what your heart is seeking. No matter how big or small your struggle may be, there is never anything too difficult that God cannot solve. Be encouraged!
Until next time,
Psalms 37:4 ~ Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Little Lesson Learned: Breakthroughs come often when we least expect them. Hang in there!
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015
Well summer has arrived and we are already two weeks into this exciting and wonderful time of year. I have been enjoying the chance to sleep in, relax, and enjoy the sunshine and pool. One thing I have also always appreciated about the summer is it gives me a chance to reflect and look at what I personally need to improve on in my own life before I head back to a busy, fall season. It is so easy as moms and career women to put everything ahead of us in the line called life. I am guilty of this and have come to realize how important it is to make sure that we as women take care of ourselves properly. There is a reason on a plane that they tell us to put our own oxygen mask on first before we assist someone else. If we neglect ourselves, we are essentially useless to others. Putting ourselves as a priority is easier said than done, but it is doable by following some practical steps.
Self-Care Step One: Take a critical and serious inventory of how you are doing physically and emotionally. Recently I booked a doctor‘s appointment and went over many little things that had been concerning me. I had no urgent matters, but it felt good to address things that have been bothering me that I had put on the back burner. Do your best to get adequate sleep, eat well and exercise. I have been really trying to develop better habits as I had been slipping in this area. I have even started running if you can call it that! Maybe more like wogging (walking – jogging) but with my son as my coach, it feels wonderful to accomplish something I thought I never could.
Self-Care Step Two: Reconnect with those you love. I have reconnected with many people over these past two weeks, and it has been refreshing to visit and feel up to speed with what is going on in other people’s corner of the world. Oh how I have missed these dear friends and family. We had all been so caught up in our own busyness that we felt out of touch. Spending time with the special people in life is so invigorating. To laugh, share, and feel genuine acceptance with a group of people we love is so liberating. It leaves us feeling reenergized, like taking in a much needed breath of fresh air.
Self-Care Step Three: For those who work or volunteer outside the home. Please, keep your career in perspective. I have learned the hard way on this one! I am a teacher and believe me I understand how all-consuming work can be at times. I was so obsessed with getting a teaching contract at one point in my life, my life was way off balance, yet sadly I could not see it. The A- ha moment came one day at church when I went forward for prayer about my job. A sincere and direct pastor shared with me that he felt God wanted me to know. He shared that my career had become an idol to me at that point in my life and to be who God wanted me to be, I needed to smash it. Ouch! I had never looked at my career that way before but he was right. I never looked at my career the same after that day. I am very thankful for that blunt, but needed reality check I got that day. Many years ago I read about the analogy of the balls in a book by James Paterson called Suzanne's Diary for Nicholas. It had some powerful words about keeping work in its proper place. Here is what it said… “Imagine life is a game in which you are juggling five balls. The balls are called work, family, health, friends, and integrity. And you're keeping all of them in the air. But one day you finally come to understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. The other four balls...are made of glass. If you drop one of these, it will be irrevocably scuffed, nicked, perhaps even shattered.” This simple analogy has never left me and I have shared it with many others along the way who have felt the stress of busy and demanding careers.
Self-Care Step Four: Do not forget to laugh and do things you enjoy. Make time for reading, watching movies, playing games, going for walks and eating ice cream or whatever it is that you love. These little things along the way can really help to improve your overall mood and feelings of self-worth. Find what encourages you and pursue these activities often. Doing so will help you feel like you are making yourself a priority and that feels absolutely great.
Self-Care Step Five: For the married gals, take time for date nights. No matter how old your kids are, this is so necessary. Getting a babysitter is a great thing! Life gets so busy with all the chores and family schedule that if we are not careful we can become more like roommates with our spouse. Strive to make sure this does not happen in your marriage.
Self-Care Step Six: Last but certainly not least take time to address your spiritual life. Take time for prayer, Bible reading and meditation. We need to realise that God does not want us to feel burnt out, discouraged and spread thin by the many hats that we are currently wearing. He instead wants us to feel energized and ready to bless others from a full and abundant life. By letting God guide and direct our lives our lives take on new purpose and deeper meaning.
So what do you think? Taking some much needed time for ourselves is not only healthy but oh so critical to our success. Being a little selfish every so often can reap great benefits for not only us, but those we love as well. By doing so we are better for everyone so that sounds like a win – win situation to me.
Until next time,
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
Little Lesson Learned: We are so good at making lists of all we need to do to take care of everyone else. Make sure that your name is on the list too.
Copyright: littlelessonslearnedbydana, 2015