How to Be Ready for YOUR Next Big Thing

If I could turn back time and go back to my very first day of work at my very first real job, I’d tell myself, “This too shall pass.”

I was 21, three credits short of my college degree, married, and—let’s face it—poor. I needed the paycheck, even if the job didn’t feel like the work I was meant to do.

I can’t turn back time, but the words remain.

This too shall pass.

When you feel stuck, you think you’ll be stuck FOREVER, and forever is a really, really, really long time.

I blame it on humans’ woefully incompetent ability to measure time with any real accuracy.

I mean, we didn’t even have standard time until 1878, when it was invented by Sir Sanford Fleming, who thought it would be a good idea to synchronize all the clocks within a geographical area to a single time standard. Easier for weather forecasting and train travel, he reasoned. The geographical areas weren’t evenly spaced into time zones until the 20th century. The 20th century! Since I was born in the 20th century, I feel like it was a very short time ago.

So yeah, apparently we’re still learning.

Bill Gates spoke to business people when he said “Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.”

And then Gretchen Rubin came along and told all the moms, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

But my all-time favorite is the message the late Andy Rooney had for all of us when he said, “I've learned that life is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes.”

That’ll preach.

But seriously, time is just WEIRD.

And maybe that’s why I continue to go back to this verse from the Psalmist:

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
— Psalms 90:12

To number something means to count it, to keep track, to pay attention.

Remember when your mom said, “Young lady, your days are numbered!”

You knew she meant business.

That’s why your “SOMEDAY” dreams are so important.

Someday we’ll be here before we know it. And if we haven’t been numbering our days we’ll look back and wonder what happened to them all. It’s time to take back time—and I mean business, young lady!

Here’s a simple plan for making sure your someday dreams happen:

1) Clarify what it is you actually want. (Do you want to launch a nonprofit, start a coaching business, or quit your full time job and stay home with your kids? Whatever it is, be very clear about the big picture goal.)

2) Then get very specific, not only about what you want to accomplish but about the time frame in which every step will be done. (Here, it’s helpful to make a step-by-step list of things to do, sort of like a recipe. For example, first, I need to research nonprofit business plans, next I need to contact an attorney who can help file my tax exempt status and on and on and on. Checking things off a to-do list can be very rewarding, especially when every check is like a virtual mile marker on the way to your final destination)

3) Identify the cues that will signal you’re on the right track. (Do you need to have a certain amount of money in the bank? A certain number of addresses on your email list? How will know you’re moving in the right direction? Attach a success metric to each step of your detailed plan.)

4) Write everything down! (This last one is the most important. I tell you this because I’m getting old and my memory isn’t like it used to be. It’s October, and I just now remembered that I made a beautiful powerpoint in January and titled it “Big Picture Goals 2019.” Guess what? I haven’t looked at it since about the middle of February, and only just now remembered that I saved it because I had a meeting with my accountability partner last week and she asked me a question about the life I really wanted—the one I keep saying is important to me. “I don’t know,” I stammered. “I need to go back and take a look at my Big Picture Goals and see if I’m on track to do what I said I was going to do.” As I looked back over those goals, I realized that I had said to myself over and over again, “I’ll do that tomorrow” or “I’ll research that next week” or “I need to ask so-and-so to help me with that, and I’m not sure how to do that yet.” After a while, I forgot about tomorrow as TODAY exercised its power over me.)

5) And finally, what is the story you want to tell? (My first job felt like a disappointment, but that first job was only the first in a long string of derailments and delusions. I’m older and wiser, and now I know that none of it was a waste, but rather a proving ground for preparing me for the work I was meant to do. Your story belongs to you, and when you look at it—especially from the vantage point of time—you’ll see interesting patterns begin to emerge. Pay attention. They are clues to who you are and who you’re ultimately becoming.

This too shall pass.

Will you be ready for what’s next?

Want to take it to the next level?




WINSday on Wednesday--Make a Memory

Father Time waits for no man.

Or woman.

“I thought getting older would take longer,” I often moan.

But here we are, smack dab in the middle of middle age.

The sands of time must be made of quicksand.

And it is in that quicksand that we grownups find ourselves admitting to being “stuck,” “in a rut” or just plain “set in our ways.”

(Ouch.)

Did I just say that?

Because I don’t want to be a boring old person!

And neither do you.

Harnessing the power of the moments we have is the key to combatting the curmudgeon living inside all of us.

Today’s WINSday Wednesday inspiration comes from my friend Ginny Starr. She knows how to make even the most ordinary day feel like a celebration. If you ask Ginny how she does this, she’ll say she’s a curator of memories.

  • I’ve watched her create special moments for the teachers at her kids’ school.

  • I’ve watched her create special moments for the staff at our local church.

  • And I’ve watched her create special moments for the people in her regular life—the friends and family who pass through her welcoming front door every single day.

I’m not talking about the “carefully curated” moments we see plastered across our Instagram feeds.

I’m talking about the kind of real-life intentionality that leads to real powerful visceral responses.

So what does it mean to be a curator of memories?

The word curate comes from the Latin cura, which translates “to care for.”

When Ginny says she want to be a curator of memories, what she’s really saying is “I want to care for you.”

In caring for people, we’re not just manufacturing special moments; we’re literally making them feel special.

People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
— Maya Angelou

You know why I love going over to Ginny’s house?
It’s not because she makes delicious soup (although she does).
Or because she always has a pot of my favorite tea (although she does).

It’s because when I’m at Ginny’s house, she makes me feel like I’m the most important person in the world.

And I know it’s not just me.

Everyone who spends time with Ginny feels special, and that is because while they are with her, they are being cared for.

And being cared for with intentionality and purpose is transformative.

There’s real power in the moments we spend together.

Chip and Dan Heath wrote a book called The Power of Moments, and it’s an excellent guide for anyone seeking to create more value with the time they have.

In the book, they describe four types of moments (using the acronym EPIC):

• Moments that Elevate: Creating moments that rise above the everyday.
• Moments of Pride: Helping people feel proud of accomplishing milestones.
• Moments of Insight: Helping people understand an important truth.
• Moments of Connection: Forging transformational alliances among people.

Curators are noticers.

To create memorable moments means you’re going to have to start paying attention. No more “this is the way we’ve always done it kind of thinking.” Curators gather the best of what they have, then safeguard and share their art with the world. It is both tedious and magnificent, a gift to those who experience it.

An easy way to slow down time is to shake up the status quo, to do something a little different than you’ve done it before. That’s how memories (and friendships) are often formed.

I want to live a life punctuated by happy moments spent with dear people. When I think about the sands of time, I don’t want the picture in my head to be one of me falling through quicksand. I’d rather think about the me that lives among the sand on my favorite beach, windswept and frolicking in the waves. happy and free and smack dab in the middle of a MOMENT IN TIME.

This week, take a page from the Ginny Starr handbook and make a memory.

1) Invite a friend over. Use the good china!
2) Write a letter—on real stationery!
3) Have sundaes on Sunday—your kids will love you!

Who do you know that needs caring for this week?

Ready to take it to the next level?



6 Areas to Nurture

“I don’t want to be a different me; I just want to be a BETTER me!”

That’s the message I consistently hear from women. No one wants a different life or even to be a different person. We all just want to be BETTER versions of the people we already are.

So where do we begin?

Here, I think it would be helpful to direct our attention to six areas of focus. During different seasons, we may find that we are thriving in some areas and coming up short in others. In a perfect world, we would be happy and fulfilled on all six axes.

Let’s explore:

1) Spirituality: Our internal well-being

For some, spirituality is deeply connected to religion. For others, it’s all about aspiring to something bigger than ourselves. No matter how you define spirituality, it’s universal. This is also the one area that’s often the easiest to let go because prayer, meditation, and reflection not only take time, but also can be viewed as boring or worse—unproductive. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our sense of the Divine or of God is our connection to the source of creativity.

2) Exercise: physical activity carried out to improve health and fitness

The older you are, the more self-aware you probably are about this area of your life. “Are you getting enough exercise?” our doctor asks at our annual checkup. “Ummm…” we stammer and stutter. What is enough? Is it the amount we want to do? Feel capable of doing? Or is it the amount recommended for a person of our age and gender? No one really agrees on the right amount. Some people say 30 minutes of moderate exercise three times a week is enough to maintain cardiovascular health. For the purposes of this post, I believe it is the amount that makes you feel energetic and whole. Consistent exercise and clean eating are linked to productivity, sleep, and happiness, among other things. Ignoring your body isn’t just bad for your health, it’s bad for your life.

3) Play: Activities of recreation and enjoyment

Why is it that the things that brings us the most joy and that we find the most rewarding are the most elusive? Maybe it’s because even our kids barely have time these days for free play. We are overscheduled and overtired and overworked and overstimulated, and even though we are OVER IT, we find ourselves zoned out in a chair and staring at a screen at the end of every day. What if instead of saying, “I’m done!” we could say, “Let’s go have some fun!” A couple of weeks ago I bought a piñata, filled it with candy, and bashed the be-jesus out of it just for fun. Last weekend, my husband and I tried axe throwing at a friend’s party, and it was satisfyingly cathartic. Make time for play—it’s worth the work!

Speaking of Work…

4) Work: Both paid and unpaid experiences for a purpose

Speaking of work, it’s time to have a little heart-to-heart. Humans were made for work. It is closely tied to our identity and our worth—and I don’t just mean our net worth. Our work is a manifestation of those things we find worthwhile. Because work is so closely tied to who we are, our place in society, and how others view us, we tend to assign great weight to the work we do. It is our calling. We are compelled. People depend on us. We have something to prove. And prove it we will! I would encourage you not to find your identity in your work, but rather to let the work flow from your identity.

5) Friendships: Our relationships

Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.
— C.S. Lewis

My youngest daughter and her best friend have known each other since they were both just a year old. I have pictures of them carpooling home from preschool, side-by-side in their little car seats, holding hands across the aisle of my old mini van. Now they’re in middle school, and they go to different schools. We are getting ready to move to a different town, not too far away, but still—I am in my 40s and I know the pain of saying goodbye to dear friends. I also know the pain of friendships that fade due to variations in place or convenience. We were built for connection. You can count your friends on social media, but can you count on them? Will they be the ones to stand by you when it really counts? Fostering friendships, like anything that’s worthwhile, takes work. How you spend time with the people you care about probably looks different than it did in your twenties. No more bar-hopping at 3 AM. But maybe, like me, you’re totally up for a cup of coffee after the kids get off the bus at 3 PM.

And here’s a bonus for those with a significant other:

6) Romance/Adventure: mystery in love and life

If you’re lucky enough to have found “the one,” you are lucky indeed! This person usually gets both the best of us and worst of us. When the other five things on this list are jiving, I think it’s easier to make romance work. When something feels “off,” we tend to shun romance and adventure in favor of more egocentric activities (like binge-watching Netflix and day drinking). I have a few recommendations: The Love or Work podcast and the Lasting app (couple’s counseling right from your phone, right from home). Also, sometimes, the easiest thing to do—and one of the most effective—is simply to spend time together—EVEN WHEN YOU DON’T WANT TO. You don’t even have to do anything fancy. Right now, my true love and I are on “The Great American Taco Hunt.” Date nights are easy and cheap. We feel like we’re doing something fun every week when the reality is we’re just getting a bite to eat. We have to eat anyway!

Adventure, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

And I think that’s one of the things I love most about the human experience.

Every day is like the Choose Your Own Adventure books from our childhood. We get to decide what we’re going to do right now and we get to decide what we’re going to do tomorrow.

If you want to be a Better You, you have to decide what that looks like.

Ready to take it to the next level?

WINSday on Wednesday--How Not to be an Imposter

“I’m going to be found out!”

“I don’t deserve this!”

“I just got lucky!”

“They must have made a mistake!”

And yet here you are and someone is saying you did a good job and you feel like that person must be talking about someone else because how could it be…YOU?

Oh, honey, it is!

You just have a bad case of Imposter Syndrome!

You feel inadequate. Like you don’t quite measure up. Like you should be farther along in life by now. Or like others are passing you by despite your best efforts to work hard and get ahead.

Sound familiar?

Success by the world’s standards often includes a healthy measure of money, power, and influence. We tend to think that only the richest, brightest, and most powerful CEOs have what it takes to be successful, but the truth is we have all been given a portion of money, power, and influence to manage.

The lucky ones will be recognized for the effort it takes to steward that responsibility well.

Over the last year, I’ve interviewed more than 50 women—women who lead organizations, nonprofits, and small businesses, women who have started movements, overcome incredible personal challenges, and sacrificed all of the above to care for their families at home.

They may not have as much money, power, or influence as they want, and they may have less than they had a decade ago. Who knows? Maybe one day they’ll have even more. I didn’t choose to interview them because I thought they were successful. I chose to interview each and every one because of a quality that’s much harder to identify, let alone quantify:

INTEGRITY.

My friend, Jen Soong, is the inspiration for today’s WINSday on Wednesday. She says, “I wanted to define success on my own terms…Success is doing work that’s meaningful and making meaningful connections, and building a life that I’m proud of everyday.”

We talked about her aspirational self. For Jen, there’s three important questions:

Am I living a life of integrity?

Am I stoking my creativity?

Am I showing up in a honest way that allows myself and others to be seen?

We all have inklings of self-doubt. The Imposter Syndrome rears its ugly head at the most inconvenient times.

It’s that feeling of inadequacy despite evidence of success. Comparison. Fear of failure. Pressure to achieve.

The truth is you don’t need to fear being exposed as a fraud as long as you are being true to yourself.

I wish I could tell you that I have this thing figured out. I don’t. Every time I’m in a board meeting or at a conference or sometimes even sitting in the bleachers with other moms while I watch my kid play football, I feel like an imposter. I hear that voice in my head telling me I’m not smart enough or interesting enough. In the bleachers, I spend precious minutes wondering what the other moms think of me than whether or not my kid will make that tackle. (Why are they all wearing jerseys with their kid’s number on the back?) I can only do what I can do. There will always be someone who does it better than me, but just because they do it better doesn’t mean they are better, and it also doesn’t mean that my contribution is any less significant.

Here’s What I’m Working On Right Now:

  • Replacing imposter syndrome (which is laced with fear and comparison) with humility (which always chooses to believe the best about other people)

  • Accepting compliments. A simple thank you will do. Compliments are a clue to the work you’re supposed to be doing in the world. A compliment is an affirmation.

  • Being courageous in both my decisions and my actions. My friend Jen moved from Atlanta to Davis, CA, started an MFA program after age 40, and began work on a memoir about her life as a Chinese American. The transitions have been scary, but have reminded her that she is both capable and strong.

    Remembering that doubt is a requirement for faith. (My husband is a pastor, and he always says that to people who are wondering about God). I like it because platitudes like “believe in yourself” and “you can do anything you set your mind to” are hollow, and not entirely true, either. Doubt fuels discovery.

  • Actively choosing not to be an imposter. An imposter is someone who pretends to be someone else. I promise not to rob the world of the best of me, and I don’t want you to, either.

Want more GOOD STUFF?

Integrity: the beautiful synergy between who you say you are and what you do.

To learn more about Jen Soong:

Watch our full interview here

Jen Soong in the Washington Post

Jen Soong in Gay Magazine

The Key to an Inspired Life

Ahhh…the sweet smell of fall.

It’s still too early for bonfires and chili, but today I wore boots for the first time, and I saw a couple of people at church sporting flannel shirts. Maybe the summer heat was extra oppressive this year, but I always welcome the change in season, whether it’s summer to fall, fall to winter, winter to spring, or spring to summer.

They don’t call Atlanta HOTlanta for nothing We’ve been slogging through 90 degree days since the beginning of June. Four months of HOT-HOT-HOT can make people pretty grouchy. Everybody’s complaining about something, and nobody wants to do anything.

But yesterday was different. Yesterday the temp dropped, a breeze moved in, and suddenly everyone was outside waving to one another and talking about how excited they are to be in this new season.

And the best part was that the grocery store had stocked up on my favorite food of the season….

Hello…Mallomars!

(You thought I was going to say Pumpkin Spice, didn’t you? Puh-LEEZ! As if I would pair something from the squash family with my morning coffee!)

So I shouldn’t have been surprised when a friend stopped me in the parking lot and rolled down her window: “Got my Mallomars!” she called. “Can’t wait to try one!”

Another friend saw me in the cookie aisle: “You didn’t take all the Mallomars did you? Hope you saved some for the rest of us!”

I have a bit of a reputation around here.

That first bite of Mallomar is oh-so-delicioso.

Mallomars are my thing, but you probably have your own thing, those special somethings that put you smack dab in the middle of what has the potential to jump start an inspired life:

  • A clean house

  • Fresh sheets

  • A haircut

  • A new toothbrush

  • A sandwich that somebody else makesA towel hot from the dryer

Isn’t the world a lovely place?

All these things signal the senses and make you go “Ahhh….” They seem so small, so insignificant, and yet…

They wake you up.
They make you pause and say thank you.
The word that comes to mind for me is JOY.

Each of those tiny things—the haircut, the toothbrush, the sandwich—are gifts we don’t take for granted. We notice, and our day becomes a little brighter.

What is it that wakes you up? The thing that makes you inhale deeply so you can savor it just a little bit longer?

INSPIRATION
the drawing in of breath; inhalation.

But inspiration is more than just the act of breathing.

INSPIRATION
a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea

I’m pretty passionate about Mallomars.

Photo--Mallomars1.jpg

They make me so happy.

PHOTO--Mallomars5.jpg

I want everyday to feel like that.

PHOTO--Mallomars4.jpg

Like I’m biting into a Mallomar for the very first time.

PHOTO--Mallomars3.jpg

Can a Mallomar really be the key to an inspired life?

I don’t know.

But I do know that when we fill our lives with more of the things that bring us joy we become happier, healthier, more generous people. We become participants rather than observers of life. We reveal the best of who we are. And that’s not only good for us, but for the people around us as well.

Breathe in. Breathe out. And let the inspiration take you to new places.

What’s your thing? (I’d love to know, so hit reply or share in the comments below.)

Want more GOOD STUFF?

Wednesday WINSday--TAKE THE FIRST STEP

Some people say the first step is the hardest because it’s the scariest.

Some people say the middle steps are the hardest because they can be the most challenging.

And some people say getting to the end is the hardest because the end is never really the end. By the time we get there, things have changed so much, it’s time to start again.

For over a year, I’ve been recording Mission Driven Monday, a weekly video-cast series. I interview women I admire, and we chat about our proudest accomplishments, the things we’re learning in our current season, and the legacy we want to leave. It’s been a lot of fun, but one thing I’ve learned is that people have short attention spans, so I’m trimming the fat and spending the next 52 weeks sharing the best little nuggets from every conversation.

Meet Amy Phelps!

My friend, Amy, was my first interview subject. She’s a mother and a wife, a former teacher, and a current autodidact.

Don’t know know what an autodidact is? If I was a teacher, I’d tell you to look it up so you would remember it better. You probably should look it up anyway because an autodidact is a self-learner.

I met Amy in the way that all young moms do—in the preschool carpool line. All the minutes we spent together at birthday parties, mother/daughter teas, and school programs, added together to create a beautiful friendship.

I say this a lot, but none of us are JUST moms. We make PB&Js AND we make art. We give baths AND we give time to causes that matter. We do homework AND we do both paid and unpaid “job-type” work.

All these responsibilities can leave us feeling both full and empty at the same time. Our kids don’t need us less as they get older, but they do need us in different ways. Nothing stays the same, and so we must do the very thing we tell our kids to do—adapt to change.

Amy, a former Biology teacher, is learning how to do photography and web design, a strong departure from her former world of plant physiology and animal dissection.

She says, “All you have to do is start. And then you realize you’re not alone.”

There’s this song I love from the 1960s, a turbulent time in the United States for sure, but I also think it fits here.

These lyrics of “The Times They Are A Changin’” are as relevant today as they were more than fifty years ago.

Come mothers and fathers
Throughout the land
And don’t criticize
What you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters
Are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly agin’
Please get out of the new one
If you can’t lend your hand
For the times they are a-changin’
— Bob Dylan


It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that getting anywhere in life requires taking a step. I need to be reminded that while taking steps is good, the payoff isn’t always at the end. Who we meet along the way is usually the best part of every adventure.

My friend Amy knows that. College ends, and life with family begins, children grow up, and the things that worked for us in the past may no longer be the things that sustain us as welcome the future.

I’m grateful for our friendship. And it wouldn’t have happened if we both hadn’t taken steps toward each other nearly a decade ago. As our paths crossed, so did our work.

If you want to see our full interview, you can watch it here.

Want more GOOD STUFF?

I wrote this FREE GUIDE, and it’s just for Mission Driven Women. Fun fact: Amy did all the design and layout! You can get it free here:

Take the first step

You don’t have to know what you want to be because there’s so much joy in discovering WHO YOU WANT TO BE.

All you have to do is start.

And then you realize you’re not alone.

WHO ARE THE PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN HELPING YOU BECOME THE PERSON YOU WANT TO BE?

Does Anything Really Last Forever?

With this ring, I thee wed.

Those were the last words I heard before the wedding ring I wear now was gracefully slipped over my finger. For 23 years, I have worn the ring, a reminder of a promise we made to love, honor, and cherish each other for as long as we both shall live.

However long that may be.

They say, “Diamonds are forever.”

This slogan has been around for as long as I can remember. It’s been around as long as your parents, their parents, and even their parents can remember. In 1902, DeBeers, which controlled 90 percent of the world’s diamond production, came up with this catchy phrase and marketed the diamond as the only way to express everlasting love.

Did you know, though, that diamonds are NOT forever?

(Warning: Things are about to get nerdy around here.)

Diamond’s sibling structure, graphite (of #2 pencil fame), is actually the more stable structure and so all diamonds are slowly turning into graphite. This will, of course, take billions of years, but more alarming is the astonishing news I recently discovered that when diamonds are burned they simply disappear. When a diamond gets red hot, it leaves no trace of anything. Nothing at all. It just vanishes into thin air. Poof! Rubies and sapphires are impervious to all kinds of heat. They won’t burn. But diamonds—diamonds have no such stamina.

I don’t think I’ll ever look at a diamond the same way again.

The word diamond is derived from the Greek adamas, which means “unconquerable” or “indestructible.” It is comprised of pure carbon, the building block of all life.

My last name is Adams, which sounds a lot like adamas. I’m left to wonder if my ancestors, as they were considering possible surnames, thought of the hallowed diamond and marked themselves as “unconquerable” and “indestructible.” Maybe. There’s lots of Adamses around here to prove we’ve been around for a long time and don’t plan to go anywhere anytime soon.

I think we just found out, though, that the lofty diamond, while certainly hard and unyielding as it goes about its business here on earth, can be altered.

And all it takes is a little FIRE.

For who among us has not been burned in our lifetime?

But how did diamonds get here? Didn’t it have something to do with heat?

Yes!

Diamonds are formed deep within the earth surface under intense heat and pressure. It takes billions of years. Volcanic eruptions underground pushed them up toward the earth’s surface, where they became buried in cooled magma, and then mined for our enjoyment.

But did you know that a diamond can be destroyed in just a few seconds?

If you heat a diamond to 700 degrees Celsius in open air it will burn. If you place a super heated diamond into a container of liquid oxygen it will turn into carbon dioxide, a gas you cannot see with the naked eye. Not only that, but despite a diamond’s hardness (which is simply its ability to cut other objects), a diamond can be smashed to bits with one well-placed blow.

Humans aren’t all that different from diamonds. We, too, are made up of mostly carbon. Tough on the outside, perhaps even showing off flashes of brilliance, but fragile just the same. Personal failures, disappointments, heartbreaks, and regrets all have the potential to act like fire and destroy us in an instant.

Diamonds can only be scratched by other diamonds. They are rare. They are valuable. They are among the hardest minerals found on earth, but they are also fragile.

They can be fractured in one blow.

Oh, it’s so easy to feel to find ourselves in situations where we feel we are on the verge of breaking clean in two!

I’m left to ponder whether or not this information is comforting or depressing. Mostly I’m wondering how I even find myself contemplating such things. What we have in common with the natural world is astonishing to me. I am filled with awe at the magnitude and beauty of it all. As I sit here writing this, I can look down and see my left hand where several diamonds given to me by my true love rest. I take great care of these gems because I know how much he sacrificed to give them to me. They have value, though, not because of their size or brilliance, but because they are a symbol of his love for me, his promise to love, honor, and cherish me forever.

Whether of not the diamonds last for all eternity, I don’t care. I do, however, care about the human soul.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down but not destroyed.
— 2 Corinthians 4:7-9

Apparently some things really do last forever.


Want more good stuff?


Mission Driven Monday--Orly Wahba

Meet Orly Wahba!

Orly might just be the most interesting woman in the world. I’m not kidding! When you read her bio, your jaw will drop. This woman is a mover and a shaker! She was first introduced to me by my friend, Lydia Mays, founder of See Beautiful.

I had the distinct privilege of being one of the first to read Orly’s book, Kindness Boomerang. It’s beautiful and deceptively simple, not because it’s lacking in any way but because Orly envisions a world where kindness isn’t the exception but rather the EXPECTATION.

Orly Wahba is an educator, entrepreneur, motivational speaker, author and community activist, passionate about inspiring and motivating people to make the world a kinder place. Orly began her career in kindness as a middle school educator at the Yeshivah of Flatbush in Brooklyn, New York, teaching the children to embrace unity, build their self-esteem, and use the power they have to influence the world for good.

Yearning to make a larger impact with her philanthropic work, Orly founded Life Vest Inside—a non-profit organization with a mission to empower and unite the world with kindness——in 2011. Through Life Vest Inside, Orly encourages people to embrace the incredible power of giving and recognize that in times of hardship, kindness——like a life vest——keeps the world afloat.

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Life Vest Inside gained international acclaim when Orly’s award-winning film Kindness Boomerang went viral, receiving over 30 million views, landing her a spot at TED2013, where she presented a talk on the magic of kindness. Orly and her work have been featured on The Today Show, CBS, NBC, Bloomberg TV among others.

Orly's first book Kindness Boomerang: How to Save the World (and Yourself) Through 365 Daily Acts was released in January 2017 and serves as a lesson-a-day guide to living a kinder, happier life. Her cross country Kindness Boomerang tour was a huge success, delivering over 50 talks in a 5 week period. The mission: to spread kindness & foster positive dialogue. Orly created and runs Dance for Kindness, an annual global event uniting people in over 50 countries, 120 cities under the banner of kindness.

We are all unique, significant and special in our own way——each of us with something to contribute to this wonderful world that only we can give.
— Orly Wahba



In 2014, the seeds for a new venture were planted and in the summer of 2019 finally became a reality called - Abraham's Legacy: A Social Network for Prayer launched on both iTunes and Google Play. Orly created the app in memory of her grandfather and hero, Albert Nackab Z’L

Orly attended Trapeze School NYC, directed community theater, plays drums and piano, figure skates, plays basketball, softball and is a mean ping pong player. She also has hopes and dreams of infusing positive change in the political arena by focusing on ethics, character and values.

Orly serves on the Board of the Pay it Forward Foundation and the Brooklyn College Foundation. Orly received her BA in Film Production and English from Brooklyn College, and her MA in Jewish History from Touro College.

Orly is following her mission, not the madness. I’m excited for you to join us for this conversation.

Important Links from this Episode:

Orly’s 2013 Ted Talk: Kindness Matters

Kindness Boomerang: How to Save the World (and Yourself) through 365 Daily Acts

Dance for Kindness: Worldwide Flashmob on Sunday, November 10th, 2019

Abraham’s Legacy: A Social Network for Prayer

Want more great content?


Tell the Truth About Who You Are

Last night my family attended a monster truck race. I’ll just say…it wasn’t what I expected. Except for the food. The food was EXACTLY what I expected. Aaron got a funnel cake, and Cari Jill came back to the stands carrying a large cellophane bag emblazoned with the words:

Cholesterol free!

Preservative Free!

Gluten Free!

Fat Free!

Now, before you congratulate me for having raised a child dedicated to making healthy choices, I’ll just go ahead and stop you right there. She was holding a giant bag of—wait for it—COTTON CANDY!

Conveniently left off of this bag were phrases like:

Artificial Color!

Loaded with sugar!

Spin the truth much, eh?

But I’m not one to talk. I do this every single day. My carefully curated life would make you believe that my kids are always happy, my dog is the cutest little thing on the planet, and my food should be in a magazine.

I’m reminded how easy it is to spin the truth in my own life, how often I’m not honest with myself about what’s really inside.

Last week, I was asked two important questions:

What do you want people to know about you?
What do you NOT want people to know about you?

Yikes.

My accountability group full of women who have known each other for only the better part of this past year answered these questions. We let the vulnerability tumble out. Tears spilling down our cheeks, we spoke of the hurtful things said to us when we were children and the things we’ve allowed ourselves to carry into adulthood. We talked of dreams deferred and mistakes we’ve made. We spoke of how we’ve grown and changed. We confessed that we wanted to be difference-makers. It was cathartic, and it was truth.

Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity. If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.
— Brene Brown, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead

One day, you will be able to trace the work you’re meant to do to your life story. I always tell my kids to tell the truth about who they are. I tell them that because those are words I need to hear.

I don’t know where you are today. Maybe it looks like you have it all together, but inside you feel like you are crumbling. Maybe you feel lonely or maybe you feel unequipped. Think about why you feel that way. What do you want people to know about you? What do you NOT want people to know about you? Both are clues to who you really are and the work you’re meant to do.

That fluffy bag of cotton candy might have looked pretty, and the words on the bag weren’t lies, but the truth wasn’t on there either. My daughter only ended up eating about half of what she purchased. She didn’t feel very good.

Inauthenticity never makes us feel very good.

This week, make a pact to tell the truth about who you are.

Want more?





Mission Driven Monday--Darcy Wiley

Meet Darcy Wiley!

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Over the past decade or so, I’ve had the opportunity to meet some incredible creatives—women who are writers, leaders, and social activists. Darcy Wiley checks all three of those boxes. She’s a talented author, a beloved mentor, and a passionate advocate for minorities and immigrants. She and her husband are on a mission to raise their three suburban American kids to be curious and compassionate citizens of the world. When she told me that, I thought, “Me too! Me too!”

With all the things currently competing for our time and attention, I can think of nothing more satisfying than being a part of a family that’s truly following its mission, not the madness. Join Darcy and discover the lovely in the mundane of our everyday lives. Perhaps you, too, will discover that your ordinary life is actually pretty extraordinary.

Important Links from this Episode:

The Yes Effect by Luis Bush and Darcy Wiley

Relentless Devotional (a six week study guide about the book of Judges)

Darcy’s Blog:

The Artist’s Way: A book for rediscovering creativity

Daily Rituals: Women at Work

Ready to take it to the next level?

Slowing Down Time: The Easiest, Most Obvious Hack in the World

When it comes to getting things done, I know how to rock a to-do list. I can write things down and check them off like a boss! But when it comes to getting important things done, I have to admit that sometimes I struggle to just begin. Can you relate?

It’s the ‘ol tyranny of the urgent scenario that gets me every single time.

These last few weeks have felt like that.

The kids have been in school for about six weeks, which means the grace period for being unprepared is over. By now they should be in a good routine, and by default, so should I. Why, then, do I feel like I’m falling behind with every passing day?

That got me thinking: Is there a way to SLOW DOWN time?

Everyone knows there’s two kinds of time: Fast Time and Slow Time.

Let’s break it down:

First, the Fast Time. Think of something you dread. For example: Going to the dentist, giving a presentation in front of a large crowd, or the time between when you drop the kids off at school and they’re back on your doorstep asking “What’s for dinner?”

You could also think of something you enjoy greatly: Being at the beach, the best night of sleep you’ve ever had, or a foot massage. During all these times you find yourself saying, “Time—please slow down!”

In contrast, there’s Slow Time, and that’s for things like doing a one minute plank at the gym or when you’re waiting for brownies to cook or for an acceptance letter for your dream job to arrive.

Overall, though, as you get older, all time begins to act like fast time. Someone once explained it to me this way: “Time is like a roll of toilet paper. The closer you get to the end, the faster it goes.”

We can’t change our lives by making more time, but we can change our perception of it.

When you’re doing something new or focusing on what you’re doing, you actually can slow down how your brain perceives time.

I don’t want my life to slip away, but I do need to get stuff done.

And chances are you do too because if you’re anything like me, when you’re feeling rushed, you tend to get less done rather than more. And the things you are getting done have the tendency to be the most pressing rather than the most important. I have found that when I’m feeling rushed, I substitute my normal “focus on what I’m doing” rituals with poor substitutes that lack any sort of conscious processing whatsoever.

Instead of eating breakfast, doing my daily devotion, and spending time on morning pages, I find I do a quick workout at home, snack all morning, and then scroll through social media at five minute intervals throughout the day because I didn’t plan a solid chunk of time for getting my real work done. With no space for creativity, I end up filling these dead minutes with distractions.

What if there were one ritual I could do that would set the tone for the whole day?
Is there something I’m missing that would summon the rest and peace I crave?

Hey, friend, let’s make a pact this week to SLOW DOWN time.

I’m getting up in time to do morning work (i.e. plan the day, eat breakfast, devotion, and journal)—even if I have to trick myself into thinking I’ll get fired if I don’t show up for my own life. Hey, I can always fire myself!

And I’m JUST SAYING NO to distractions. Are you with me? No more scroll. Don’t be fooled—you can get a lot done in five minutes (Read a few pages of a book you’ve downloaded, open the Bible app, pack the dishwasher, transfer a load of laundry to the dryer, make the bed, or write a quick “I’m thinking about you” text to a friend.”)

If I would have known that Intentionality was the secret sauce for slowing down time, I could have saved myself a lot of wasted minutes. And I know what you’re thinking, “That’s so obvious, Chantel. Of course intentionality is the key.” Yeah, yeah.

Easier said than done.

But not this week: I’m doing it!

Want to take it to the next level?



Mission Driven Monday--Sharon Moye

Meet Sharon Moye!

Sharon Moye is the founder of Peony Market, an online shop of carefully curated products designed to encourage women's worth and identity in Christ. It was inspired by the message of Isaiah 61. In this episode, Sharon shares the story of discovering God's grace and learning how to live with intention and purpose with the people around her. The good news is it's never too late to become the person we're meant to be! Check out Peony Market at www.peonymarket.co and Sharon's life verse:

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
— 2 Corinthians 3:18

Important Links from this Episode:

Peony Market: Gifts for home and those you cherish

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Ready to take it to the next level?

A Simple Exercise to Discover Your Purpose

By Guest Contributor, Kristi Porter, Founder and Chief Do-Gooder at Signify.

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I first met Kristi about three years ago. At the time, I was just beginning my own journey into entrepreneurship, and the learning curve was steep. I felt like I had no idea what I was doing! Someone sent me the link to Signify’s website and blog and there I found a guide who seemed to know exactly how I was feeling and exactly what I needed in order to lead my growing business with confidence. If you’ve ever felt overwhelmed, unequipped, or just plain stuck, then I encourage you to check out both the free resources and paid offerings at Signify. You won’t regret it!

I

And now, here’s Kristi:

I’m sure this has never happened to you, but there are times in my life when I’ve felt aimless.
Directionless.
Purposeless.

 It’s not a good feeling. In fact, it’s a pretty discouraging feeling.

 Ever been there?

 At times like this, one of the best exercises I’ve found to get back on track is one I discovered in the Experiencing God workbook. Three times I’ve done this Bible study, and three times it’s changed my life.

I’ll give you the 50-cent tour of this exercise below, but what I think it does so well is give me perspective. Perspective brings clarity, both for where God has brought me, and potentially where He is leading me.

When we’re feeling sad, restless, or like we have no vision for the future, I think it’s often because we’re caught up in our own stuff. It’s like not being able to see the forest for the trees.

However, when we have perspective, we can rise out of our own circumstances to see the path we’ve been on and, possibly, the direction we’re headed—even if it’s only the next step.

 

Share Your Story to Gain Perspective

I’ll give you a small example from my own life to illustrate. I’m a solopreneur, so I have no co-workers. If you’ve ever tried to do something big on your own, you know there are lots of moments of doubt. I go through those pretty much daily! Plus, because I have no one working alongside me, there’s no one to constantly talk me down off the metaphorical ledge.

It’s at these times God has been so faithful. Without a doubt, He sends me someone new, and I get to tell my story. It could be in a new client meeting, someone I met at an event, or just a new friend. Regardless, they don’t where I’ve been, so I get to tell them.

In the process of sharing my story, I listen. And by the time I arrive at the present, I think to myself, “Wow!

That’s MY story! I got to live that, and now I get to serve the people and causes I care about. That’s amazing!”

Just like the exercise below, sharing our stories gives us perspective. It’s not about our busy calendars; it’s about the journey. And I think it’s that kind of outlook that truly gives us vision.

So, if you’re feeling restless, burned out, or looking for deeper insight in your life, give this exercise from the Experiencing God workbook a try. It can be an incredible opportunity for breakthrough, especially when trying to discern those things that bring meaning to your life, and maybe even your purpose.

 

Take an Objective Look at Your Past

The first step is to figure out where you’ve been. Getting perspective can be incredibly difficult in the day-to-day. There’s so much being thrown at us all the time to keep us busy and distracted. This could be a source of great unrest for a lot of us, because we feel like we’re just moving through life on autopilot. And autopilot is the opposite of what we’re after—purpose.

So, to move forward, we’ll start by looking backward.

Essentially, what you’ll need to do is list your “sign posts,” as the study calls them. These could be major milestones as well as meaningful moments. Think about the points in your life that stand out.

Oh, and before you begin to “put pen to paper,” also think about how you personally like to process information.

Me? I love bullet points, so I keep a list of these sign posts in Evernote. I’m a list maker at heart, and I don’t like keeping up with paper.

But if you’re a more artsy type of person, maybe you want to take a big piece of paper and create a map or draw your sign posts visually.

Find a way to help you get the information out of your head so that you can analyze it later.

 Okay, back to it! Here are a few prompts to get you started:

·      What are the major milestones that have occurred in your life? (ex: moves, college, marriage, kids, jobs)

·      What moments have been meaningful? (ex: pivotal conversations, experiences)

·      When/where/why have you grown spiritually? (ex: What did this look like?)

·      What other times stand out in your life?

Having done this study three times, I started with the big transitions and then began to fill in the gaps. Now, I add to it annually with anything I think adds a dot to my personal timeline.

The important thing here is write down anything that stands out to you, and that you consider to have shaped you in some way. 

Look for Common Threads

Whew—that’s a lot, right? Some good stuff and some not so good stuff? Me, too.

There are definitely days I’d rather forget about heartaches, bad bosses, and having chronic health issues, but those experiences shaped me, too.

So, after you’ve written what amounts to the abridged story of your life out of your head, move on to the evaluation. Basically, connect the dots of your life.

Look for common themes, threads, and occurrences.

What continues to pop up?
What trends do you see?
What makes you happy?
What makes you sad?
What do you want to see more of?

If you’re having trouble spotting themes, ask someone you trust to take a look. They might be able to spot them more quickly.

Next, add your own summary section so you have a dedicated place for your takeaways. You’ll want these to stand out for future reference.


Move Forward with More Clarity

Hopefully, you’re starting to see more clearly. You’re able to identify lessons, ideas, and values you couldn’t see as easily before.

Maybe it reinforced your thinking, or maybe it surprised you. Regardless, I hope and pray God has revealed Himself to you.

 Here are just a few of my own insights:

·      Justice has looked different to me over the years, but it’s always been important to me. I volunteered for years with social justice organizations, but I realized that I needed it to be a bigger part of my life. So, while I love working with all my clients, my favorites are definitely in the social impact space.

·      Writing has been a big part of my life since I was a kid. Even when I wasn’t doing it full-time, I had to start a blog to not only keep up with the practice of writing, but feed this source of creativity.

·      Traveling brings me both enjoyment and clarity. Over the last couple of years, I’ve made it a point to figure out ways to travel, even short distances every couple of months. It’s not just for fun, but to use as periods of reflection for my business.

·      It’s not uncommon for me to have major spiritual breakthroughs after moving to a new location. I think one of the reasons I’ve felt spiritually stagnant recently is because I’ve been in the same place for too long!

 And remember, new experiences can change your perspective. I think it’s a good idea to do this exercise each year to see what new insights appear and where God might be leading you next. Your purpose might indeed look the same throughout your life, or may shift from season to season or year-to-year.

What about you? What has been revealed to you through this process? With all of this newfound knowledge, what will you do next?

 Whether you found a new direction or purpose or not, you should see that there is order to the chaos we call life. You have been created and called, loved and led, gifted and given, restored and redeemed—over and over again. You have not been forgotten, you have been favored.

 

 

 Kristi Porter helps nonprofits and for-profits with a social mission get noticed and grow through effective marketing and communications. She also teaches solopreneurs and small businesses how to incorporate easy philanthropy strategies. Essentially, Kristi makes cause-focused organizations look and sound more professional so they can build a larger audience, increase sales or donations, and do more good. Connect with Kristi here.

Kristi Porter, Founder and Executive Director of Signify. Focus and Shine!

Kristi Porter, Founder and Executive Director of Signify. Focus and Shine!


If you missed our interview with Kristi Porter for Mission Driven Monday, you can catch up HERE.


Ready to take it to the next level?

 

 

 

 

Mission Driven Monday--Ashlee Gadd

Meet Ashlee Gadd!

She’s the founder of the popular blog, Coffee + Crumbs, a place where mothers across the world share stories of hope and grace. If you've ever longed to feel safe, known, and encouraged, and loved, then Coffee + Crumbs has a place at the table for you. In this episode, listen in as Ashlee talks about what it means to be a mother and how she’s thriving in a new (albeit short) season of rest. She's a 3 on the Enneagram, an Achiever, so I thought it was pretty funny when she talked about how she tricks her brain into resting by making a list of all the ways she's going to rest during her month-long and well-deserved sabbatical. This mom with three little ones is holding it all together and living her best life now. Join us as we follow our mission, not the madness.



When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would have a single bit of talent left, and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.’
— Erma Bombeck

Important links from this Episode:

Coffee + Crumbs Blog

Ashlee’s Personal Website

The Magic of Motherhood, a book that’s a “love letter to mothers everywhere.”

Ready to take it to the next level?

Follow your mission, not the madness.

Your Job is not the Problem--You Just Didn't Know it Was Work

One of the best icebreaker questions I ever heard was, “Tell me about your first job.”

Our first job not only teaches us a lot about ourselves, but also prepares us for future work.

The very first job I ever had out of college was as a fitness consultant in a Ladies Only gym. Newly married with a degree in Biology, a passion for exercise, and aspirations of medical school, I thought I had found the perfect job.

Spoiler alert: that job had almost nothing to do with health and wellness and almost everything to do with high pressure sales techniques.

I haven’t had a real job in nearly twenty years. But my life has been filled with purposeful work.

In this post, I’ll show you how the way you work in every job is a clue to the real work you’re meant to do.

Problem solving, and I don’t mean algebra, seems to be my life’s work. Maybe it’s everyone’s life’s work.
— Beverly Cleary, Children's Book Author

Oh, I do believe it is everyone’s life’s work!

For the past five years I’ve been a part of an Atlanta nonprofit called Plywood People. They have a motto I’ve adopted as my own: “We will be known by the problems we solve.”

Being known.

Those two words by themselves can be really scary.

We want to be known and yet we want to remain anonymous.
We want people to understand us but we want to retain an element of mystery.

And over the past year, on Mission Driven Monday, I ask women this final question: “Can you tell me about your aspirational self?” That question is essentially, “What do you want to be known for?” The answers vary, but one thing remains consistent: all the women want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. When they talk about work, it’s in the context of the values they uphold.

We all want to do work that matters.

Even if you don’t believe in legacies you have one. And you get to choose what you want that legacy to be.

I interact with lots of women caught between the threshold of having babies and raising kids. It’s important work, but sometimes I hear the longing in their voices, the shy whispers that “one day” they’ll go back to work, that their education “won’t be wasted,” that this is “just a season” and that “real life” can begin again “when the kids are all grown up.”

What are you waiting for?

When I was a young mom, I couldn’t even imagine a day when I didn’t have to get up in the middle of the night or change a diaper. I felt like I would always have someone at home and that I would always be a servant to someone else’s needs. And yet here I am, with one child out of the nest for good, one with one foot already out the door, and two more squarely in the throes of middle and high school. I will blink, and they too, will be gone.

No one ever told me that I could find intellectual fulfillment in the expression of who I was apart from paid work. I had always thought that the job I got paid to do and the work I was meant to do had to be the same thing. It wasn’t until I became a mother and set aside my so-called career that I discovered on my own what it means to live life within the context of a larger story.

Young moms tend to think that all that time spent at home is like putting a sweater on hold at Anthropologie. You’ll pick up where you left off—when you’re ready. The sweater will wait for you; the job probably won’t. You could spend the in-between contemplating whether or not you actually need the sweater or whether or not it makes sense to invest in something so seasonal and trendy. Maybe after you’ve walked around for awhile you’ll discover you don’t really want that sweater anymore.

The Tension

Our lives are not sweaters to place on a shelf. And a job isn’t just a job. For some, a job defines who we are, even though we know deep down that we are not what we do. “But if that’s true”, we wonder privately, “then why does everybody I meet keep asking me about work?”

How can we place “the job” on hold and still participate in work that’s fulfilling?

I remember someone telling me once that they never answer that question about jobs with a one word answer of their own. For example, when my friend is asked, “What do you do?” she says something like, “I inspire small children to aspire to a lifetime of curiosity.”

Ooohhh, tell me more about that.

Is my friend a teacher? A therapist? A children’s museum director?
Or is she just a mom?

A job is simply the expression of our work, so while jobs come and go, the expression of ourselves within that job is the real clue to the person we are meant to become. I wish I had known that when I was a 22-year old fitness consultant biding my time and waiting for my real break. I would have discovered that the part of my job that made me feel most alive was when I was learning something new or when I had a chance to hear transformation stories from clients one-on-one.

If you’re wondering about the work you’re meant to do, I recommend checking out The Good Life Project. Jonathan Fields developed an incredible tool called Sparketype that helps you identify the work you’re meant to do. Once you’ve taken the test, I’d love to know what you learn about yourself! Leave a comment, and let’s chat.

Bonus:

There’s a book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. It’s one of those books that comes up constantly in creative circles, but until now, I’d never read it. Let me tell you—YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK. I’m only three weeks into what feels like a 12 step program to unlocking creativity, and it’s the first time in a long time that I’ve felt freedom to explore the artist within. One of the activities in that book is to write down your Imaginary Lives, those dream jobs you would do IF ONLY you had the education, training, experience, and connections to make them a reality. Two of my imaginary lives include Professional Tap Dancer and TV Chef. I will never be either one of those things in real life, but I can live my best life now by either taking an adult tap class (which I did a few years ago with some of my best friends and we had the best time) and by pretending that I have my own show and hosting demonstrations in my own house with my own kids (Fun Fact: One time I did get to cook on the Food Network, and it’s all because I believed I could when I was at home). When we give ourselves permission to imagine, what we’re really doing is giving ourselves the space to practice and discover new ways of making our dreams come true.

So whether I’m at home with my kids in my kitchen or volunteering in my community, the expression of who I am is front and center.

  1. Live your best life now. If you could be anything, what would you choose to do? How can you bring the best of that life into the life you have now? Is it a class you need to take, a party you need to host, a book you need to read, or an organization you need to to support?

  2. Identify your “why.” Think about that very first job. For example: Why did you want to work in healthcare in the first place? What do you love about marketing? How can you use your passion for systems and organization in a fresh new way? I thought I wanted to be a doctor. When motherhood came calling and asked me to postpone medical school, I shelved that dream and decided to become a certified doula. It gave me the patient interaction I craved, allowed me to work alongside real doctors and nurses in a hospital setting, and provided valuable practice scenarios for things like honing my bedside manner and researching the challenges and tensions facing healthcare practitioners today. Becoming a doula was just one of many opportunities I was able to cling to when my kids were little. As they got older, I realized I was finding fulfillment in a wide range of creative pursuits. I no longer needed to become a doctor to feel like I was adding value to the world.

  3. Your job is what you do. Your work is who you are. Learn the difference, and you’ll be able to find joy in both the mundane and the magnificent. Think about how you can describe the work you do in in a fresh new way.

Ready to take it to the next level?

Follow your mission, not the madness!







Mission Driven Monday--Chantal Sheehan

Meet Chantal Sheehan!

I’ve never met an accountant I didn’t like. There’s a special place in this world for people who choose to do math. And Chantal is a special kind of accountant. She doesn’t just calculate the value of numbers, she provides value to her clients by simply being helpful. I am grateful for the wisdom she’s shared with me, and I think you’ll fall in love too.

Self proclaimed numbers nerd Chantal Sheehan is the founder of Blue Fox Accounting. If you thought accounting was boring, then you haven't met Blue Fox. Chantal believes the key to a successful business is knowing where you've come from, where you are, and where you're headed. That's what we believe here at Mission Driven Woman, too! The past, present, and future shape the stories of our lives. Can meaning and purpose be QUANTIFIED? Watch and find out! And follow your mission, not the madness.

And if you are a nonprofit or a social entrepreneur, let me be the first to recommend Chantal Sheehan for all your accounting needs! (Yes, I know that was a shameless plug)

Important Links from this episode:

Blue Fox Accounting: Take a moment and check out their incredible website and helpful blog. You’ll find all your most pressing money questions answered here.

I just love their manifesto!

The Blue Fox Manifesto

This is what makes us tick and keeps us on track.

We believe in having fun every day.
We believe that life is short and work done well makes a workday worth living.
We believe in solving problems.
We believe that there is no substitute for authenticity.
We believe in making the world a better place.
We believe that egos get in the way of progress, so we try to check ours at the door.
We believe in servant leadership above all other forms.

We believe in giving back - always.

We believe that our clients deserve to be served with dignity, respect, and heart.
We believe that our clients are doing critical work effecting our planet and our communities.
We believe that the world is best served when our clients focus on change making and we focus on counting the change.
We believe that our impact in the world can be magnified by our clients' success.
We believe in a service model of true partnership and collaboration.

We believe in outfoxing the competition.
We believe in intrapreneurship, innovation, and iteration.
We believe that a warm, kind human + the latest tech = an accounting superhero.

We believe that we can help create an accounting and finance industry that actually makes a difference.

Ready to take it to the next level?

Your Children Are Not Your Accomplishment

Treehouse Subs.

If it sounds like the name of a trendy fast-casual sandwich shop, that’s because it is. Not a real one, of course, but the one my son created seven years ago in our own backyard.

As soon as the treehouse he built with his daddy was ready, eight year-old Aaron ran an extension cord from our house to that house, hung a string of lights, and, and plugged in the box fan and the mini fridge. We filled it with drinks and snacks. And by snacks, I mean CANDY.

The kids came in droves! As predicted, the candy didn’t last long, but when Aaron proposed a custom sandwich delivery service, friends and siblings alike clinked cans (of root beer) and toasted the new venture!

Treehouse Subs was born.

It was the first of a string of robust business ventures, and today, if you ask fifteen year-old Aaron what he’s most proud of, he may regale you with the tale of Treehouse Subs. It was his baby, his first foray into the world of entrepreneurship, and it launched a lifetime love of work in the name of the almighty dollar.

But what if I asked YOU about your proudest accomplishment?

What would you say?

Would your kids be at the top of that list?

I really started to think about this this year as I interviewed women for our weekly episodes of Mission Driven Monday. I always start these interviews by asking my guests to tell me about their proudest accomplishments. I quickly learned that if I was interviewing a mom and I didn’t qualify the question by expressly asking her to tell me about something she had to personally overcome, she would always say her kids were her proudest accomplishment.

News Flash: Your kids are not your accomplishment. They have their own accomplishments!

And I know that’s hard to read. Some of you prayed hard for those kids. They feel like an extension of you. You’d definitely say that they are a reflection of you.

But I think there’s more to it than that.

As moms, we believe that other people EXPECT us to say we’re proud of our kids.

I think we’ve equated femininity with personal humility and motherhood with our children’s achievements. All moms are proud of their kids, aren’t they?

AREN’T THEY?

Being radically honest about the real work we’re doing in the world can be hard.

Let me be crystal clear here.

I am not saying that raising kids is not real work. We’ve all been told that being a parent is the hardest job in the world.

And I think one of the hardest things about parenting is how easy it is to lose yourself in the midst of it.

If you’ve ever longed to tell anyone about some of the other good stuff you do—the unpaid work, the invisible work, the work that has become an expression of your passion, not because it’s what you studied in college or what you dreamed of doing as a child, but because necessity has called you to it; if that’s you, and you’re proud because you’ve sacrificed or overcome or done something you never thought was possible, let me congratulate you: “Good job, Mama! Way to stick with it and do your best!”

I am giving you permission to toot your own horn. You are educated, well connected, and driven. You are successful. And you should be proud.

Kids who grow up thinking they are someone else’s accomplishment carry a heavy suitcase filled with the generational hopes and dreams of their parents . My child needs to know that he is an individual with his own unique set of strengths, gifts, passions, and skills. That’s the message that will give him the freedom to become who he is meant to be.

It’s also the message that will give you the freedom to become who you are meant to be.

Let your kids be their own accomplishment.

Then tell me: What are YOU proud of?

Ready to take it to the next level?

Mission Driven Monday--Julie McKevitt

Meet Julie McKevitt!

Have you ever wondered if your heart was big enough to welcome a child into the world? What about a second one? Have you ever wondered if you could make space for a new opportunity when the one that’s right in front of you is practically perfect in every way? Have you ever wondered if you have the courage to forge a new way?

Artist. Entrepreneur. Mother. And social activist.

Julie McKevitt paints the world with kindness and invites others to do the same. In this episode, we talk about staying grounded even while dreaming big and how sometimes the hardest won battles are those between husband and wife. This is a story about BECOMING. Join us and follow your mission, not the madness.

Important Links from this Episode:

Paint Love: Extraordinary arts programming for youth facing poverty and trauma

Julie’s Instagram: Follow the Kindness Day journey

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Could Your Definition of Success be Too Small?

Success’s Dirty Secret

Everybody wants to know the secret to success.

We know all the famous quotes, read #allthebooks, and have our own idolized images of success in our heads.

To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and to endure the betrayal of false friends. To appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

But the truth is there is no secret to success. Despite what the gurus will tell you, there is no magic formula.

And that’s both bad news and good news. The bad news is that success is never the result of a lucky accident. The good news is the time is always right to make a new decision about the future you want to create.

Fun fact: the word “decide” comes from the Latin word “decidare”—meaning “to cut off all other possibilities.”

When we cut off the possibilities that aren’t working for us while keeping the ones that move us in the direction of our dreams, we create the kind of future we want and that equals success.

When do you think most about what it means to be successful?

If you’re like me, then it’s probably when you’re in the same room with actual successful people. And despite what we say success is, if we’re hard pressed to define it, we end up saying things like:

  • earning lots of money

  • having lots of respect

  • being the boss

  • being happy

At least this is what I learned about success when I asked a group of rising tenth grade girls this very question last weekend. I definitely wouldn’t turn down more money or more respect or more influence, but when I’m asked about success, I often say that success isn’t about any of those things at all.

True Success

Lately I’ve been wondering if the reason my definition of success has changed is because the trajectory of my life looks different than I imagined it. Have I adjusted my definition of success to fit my life or is my life a reflection of the hard (but very good) choices I’ve had to make to ensure my life doesn’t take a wonky turn for the worse?

The thing is most of us say we want to be successful, but without a clearly defined definition about what that actually means we don’t make a plan for ensuring that what we want will come to pass. The world is big and often scary.

This is not an EXCUSE.
It’s an INVITATION.

There’s clearly potential for every single one of us to make a difference. Using our unique gifts to make the world better today than it was yesterday is how we leave a legacy. It’s the measuring stick for determining whether or not we have lived a successful life. And sure, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by “the world,” but my world isn’t all that big, and I can definitely do something around here. After all, I would love to foster a strong marriage, raise healthy kids, and contribute to a thriving community. All of those things are real and possible!

How to be Successful

1) Make sure your goals reinforce your values. Prioritize the process. Discipline and success go hand-in-hand.

2) Remember that time and people are your most important resources. Steward them well.

3) Successful results come from successful processes. Don’t confuse good luck with true success. They are not the same, and if you are successful, it will not be an accident.

4) Failure is a gift. Successful people learn from their mistakes. My daughter has a sign hanging in her room that says: Unless you puke, faint or die, keep going. Thanks, Jillian Michaels. That’s good advice!

5) Success is a journey, not a destination. Change over time yields results. Although your definition of success will evolve as you mature, may you always remember that the quality and direction of your life will be determined through the choices that you make.

And finally, I feel like I have to say that as women there are a number of things that make us feel successful in our many different roles (wink, wink).

What makes you feel successful as a mom?
A wife?
A daughter?
A sister?
A volunteer?
A board member?
A CEO?

I bet that you have a different definition of success for each one of these roles. And sometimes those definitions are in conflict with one another, which means it can be really easy to feel like you’re failing in more than one area. Who hasn’t dropped the ball at least once? (I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve forgotten to pick up my own kids from school!)

I used to subscribe to the theory that we didn’t need to itemize our various positions, that we could simply lump what it means to be a success or a failure within the context of the most important facet of our identity:

“What makes me feel like I’m successful as a WOMAN?”

Things like adequate time with my children and a thriving relationship with my spouse and time to learn and grow made me realize that I was actually defining success in terms of what I was already achieving, not what was actually possible.

This is important because our lives are not stagnant. If we’re not growing, we’re dying. I’d hate to think that I have already reached the pinnacle of my capability.

A New Way to Approach Success

The Magic of “WHAT IF?”

“What if” is an extremely powerful phrase. We often start sentences with these two words when we’re grieving time gone by, but we use the same phrase at the beginning of sentences that enable us to dream about the future.

Today, think about your own “What If” moments.

What if you felt valued and appreciated and free to pursue your dreams?
What if you were free from the expectations that come from both work and motherhood?
What if you could connect emotionally with the work you were made to do?

Successful people are obsessed with creating value.

What if you could embrace your calling without the well-intended comments of others that the thing that makes you come alive isn’t worthy of your love, energy, or attention?
What if we didn’t care what they think? I mean, who cares if they can’t see how the things you love could lead to success?
What if we didn’t allow the limitations other people try to put on us to stifle our own potential for expression, connection, meaning, and joy?

Examine your assumptions about what is and is not a worthy pursuit in your life. Decide what kind of life you want to have and how you want to live it. That’s the only way to have a life that’s not dependent on circumstances, so when you lose the job, somebody you love gets sick, the kid goes to college, and the house forecloses, you can still feel successful.

Because let’s face it: the things you love most almost never have monetary value. That tenth grade definition of success—the one that was about money, and influence, and respect, and being the boss—when you decide to be the boss of your life, the influence and respect will follow. As for the money, I can’t promise that, but I do know that when you have the love and support of your family and friends, you find that you can feel happy and successful with less of it.

Here’s to your success!

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Mission Driven Monday--Jennifer Robinson

Meet Jennifer Robinson!

She and her husband are the founders of My Audio Pet, which was born out of a need to create new work for their family after her husband was let go from his corporate job. Jennifer and KJ hit the ground running, hustling hard, and putting one foot in front of the other until some big companies took notice, including Oprah Magazine and Good Morning America. She’s a firm believer in the power of prayer and her unofficial motto is: “Keep going.” God’s grace lives in the midst of the mistakes.

The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed.
— Isaiah 50:4

Important Links from this episode:

My Audio Pet: the tiniest, cutest, most kick-butt blue tooth speaker on the planet. Makes a great gift! Use Code MISSIONDRIVENMONDAY for 20% off until 10/31/2019.

Living Beyond Yourself: Exploring the Fruit of the Spirit by Beth Moore


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