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Three Mistakes to Avoid in the New Year.

Many of us feel relief with the start of 2020. And it’s not only a New Year, but a new decade! To start out right, there’s three mistakes to avoid in the New Year. Maybe you’re like many leaders I know who reflect and write down their goals. Or, you might be relieved to just say “good-bye” to 2019.

Wherever you are, all of us want to start the year out right. And of course, we want to avoid mistakes.

Here’s three mistakes to avoid in the New Year. Those include: ignoring regrets, ignoring accomplishments, and ignoring vision.

Mistake # 1 – Ignoring Regrets

As much as we try to admit that we don’t have regrets, really, all of us do.

My writing coach, Marion Roach Smith said to me several times, “Judy, it’s not what you did. It’s what you did with it.” This wise advice was more than therapy to me as I wrote my memoir, Beyond Messy Relationships.

A universal part of our humanity is both the light and shadows of our authentic selves. When we don’t admit our “shadows” (which includes poor choices, judgements, and regrets) we will subconsciously be driven by them. In other words, we’ll easily judge others because we clearly see their “shadows.” But we’re blinded by our own. And those closest to us are mirrors to the blind spots in our lives. When they reflect our “shadows”, we get reactive.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. — George Santayana Click To Tweet

What do we do with our regrets instead? After all, none of us like the feelings that come when facing them.

1. Examine life lessons.

There’s purpose in all our human struggles. Our lives are worthy of examining. The “bad” feelings are temporary messengers to the soul. I believe it’s God’s way of showing us how to live a full and abundant life. Let’s listen to the feelings of our humaness.

None of our feelings are designed to be permanent. They’re meant to flow with the rhythm of life. Plus there’s life lessons waiting to be discovered.

2. Extract the learning.

The messiness of life helps us discover our values and need for growth. There are patterns. A good way to notice patterns of our messiness is through journal-writing. Writing our experiences, thoughts, and feelings brings clarity.

Fresh learning comes through admitting the regrets. Then we can experience the feelings and messages we need for wisdom. The journey through our past wasn’t meant to be forgotten. Our life experiences have meaning and valuable lessons for us.

Mistake # 2 – Ignoring Accomplishments

It doesn’t matter if you’re a high-achiever, or you’ve endured a season of darkness in 2019. Rather, it’s vital that you don’t ignore your accomplishments. It’s common for my clients (or any of us) to be the last to notice our own growth.

Why is that? I’m glad you asked. It’s likely a combination of these four factors.

1. We focus on comparing ourselves with others.
2. We all have blind spots that keep us from seeing what others see in us.
3. Those closest to us focus on what we’ve not done.
4. The negative harsh critic in our heads convinces us to ignore accomplishments. By the way, the human brain has a natural negative bias.

Here’s how we can shift to acknowledge accomplishments.

It’s important to hang out with friends who know us well enough to show us our resilience and bravery. When we don’t have a positive social network, the right therapist can realistically bring affirmation, honor the struggle, and enlighten us.

The lessons of 2019 are catalysts for transformation in 2020. Click To Tweet

Mistake # 3 – Ignoring Vision

Last year, I took the time to find pictures and create a “vision board.” One was a picture of my book, Beyond Messy Relationships. Another was of me and my husband looking lovingly into each other’s eyes. I posted those and other pictures on my computer screen and planners. They were daily reminders of what I wanted 2019 to be.

Our choice of focus makes a difference. We all have God-given imaginations that are powerful. Guided meditations can be positive affirmations for our mental health and well-being.

How do we get a vision that’s bigger than our reality right now?

1. Expand the imagination of our ideal life.

In the book, Living Forward, authors Hyatt and Harkavy give us structure for creating a life plan. There’s more resources to expand the imagination and intentionally plan for 2020.

2. Experience communities and friendships that honor our growth.

We’re like the five people we hang out with the most. Take inventory of the quality of relationships you have now. Be intentional to nurture yourself and others through positive groups, mentors and friends.

3. Explore what you do best.

Our self awareness increases through relationships. Be intentional to allow relationships to reveal your giftedness and talents. Dan Miller’s weekly Eagerprenuer Mastermind group helped me envision what’s possible. My mentor, Shannon Ethridge, continues to enlighten me in ways I’m unable to see on my own.

As for me, I’m thankful that my book became top finalist for Best Memoir with Author Academy Awards. Although, 2019, I do regret being so scattered, and disorganized without a clearer plan for getting this powerful message out more. Yet, these experiences have given me a clearer vision and purpose for 2020.

Now that 2020 has begun, it’s time for all of us to move forward and avoid the mistakes. Instead, be willing to gain life lessons, envision accomplishments, and envision your best year ever.

And don’t ever forget that your life is valuable and worthy of living well. In addition, your past doesn’t define you. Instead, it has wisdom for you. And most of all, you can be better than ever in 2020 as we start a new year and a new decade.

Your Next Steps . . .

Schedule your Life Plan Consultation

Check out Resources for a DIY Life Plan

Are You Hanging Out With the Right Friends?

It was an awesome time in Franklin, Tennessee with new friends who traveled there from across the United States and Canada. It was my first face-to-face group event from Dan Miller’s Eaglepreneur group. Not only did we experience camaraderie, but it spurred a question we all need to ask. “Are you hanging out with the right friends?”

As we develop relationships with others, there are three qualities to look for: courage, curiosity, and calling.

The right friends are courageous

Since writing “Beyond Messy Relationships” I’ve been more aware of what resonates. I’ve been encouraged by most acquaintances, family, and friends. But there are a few who’ve left me feeling discouraged.

Of course, not all who’ve known me over the years are target readers for my book, Beyond Messy Relationships. Yet, it was a message I had to write. It was risky to be vulnerable. To practice what I’ve written motivates me to take deep breaths of AIR: Awareness, Intentionality, and Risks.

The group I met with in Franklin are not perfect people. But they are courageous friends. Our being together and hearing each other’s stories encouraged us all to be courageous.

The right friends are curious

We met at The Sanctuary, what Dan and Joanne Miller have named their dwelling. I was compelled to read Joanne’s book, “Creating a Haven of Peace.” Of course, I was curious about her’s and Dan’s 51+ year marriage. How did they create magnetic peace in their home? Why did others gravitate to this couple?

Everyone has a story. And it’s easy to make assumptions and make up stories in our minds about others. But when we take the time to be curious, we connect. And we become more aware of ourselves. We allow others into our lives and create sacred space between us.

When we take the time to be curious, we connect. Click To Tweet

Curiosity is the opposite of judgments and assumptions. It’s a remarkable gift to ourselves and others when we take deep breaths of AIR with attitudes of curiosity.

The right friends tune in to their calling

My new friend, Teresa McCloy is an Enneagram expert. After our Eaglepreneur group event, I participated in her Real Life Process Retreat. When I heard her story, I was touched by her clear calling. Figuratively, she breathes life into others and helps business owners tune into their purpose and calling.

Are you hanging out with the right friends? Or a better question might be this. Are you the right friend with attitudes of courage, curiosity, and calling?

Be aware, intentional and risk growing toward curiosity, courage, and calling. Click To Tweet

Your friendships may not be from across the United States and Canada. It doesn’t matter whether our friends are local or long-distance. But it does matter that we are aware, intentional, and take risks of growth. (Notice the acronym AIR?)

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

Your next step:

Sign up for the first three chapters of “Beyond Messy Relationships: Divine Invitations To Your Authentic Self”

Soulmate

How To Be a Soulmate Without Losing Your Soul

It’s a continual process to balance how to be a soulmate without losing your soul. It takes attitude changes and pressurized reality to learn how to balance between “we” and “me.”

When we travel by plane, we’re used to hearing the flight attendant’s safety instructions. He or she usually says something like this.

“If there’s a loss of cabin pressure, the panels above your seat will open, and oxygen masks will drop down. . . Be sure to adjust your own mask before helping others.”

If we attempt to help others before adjusting our own mask, we may end up passing out. Then we can’t help anyone. We need to take that same advice for our relationships.

We need to care for our own soul-needs before attempting to care for others. Click To Tweet

It takes attitude changes to be a soulmate

Marriages are like a pressurized cabin at various times. They are not so even-keeled. We experience turbulence and high altitudes. Storms and fair weather affect our differences. Our ears pop. The ride gets rough. We’re required to stay in our seats with seatbelt securely fastened at times.

Early on in romance, our differences are exciting, novel, and energizing. After marriage, and sometimes before, our differences can become outright annoying. That’s when they can escalate into major conflicts.

Other life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. But we can get beyond messy marriages.

Many Christian couples vow, “The two of us are one.” It doesn’t take long to realize one or both are subconsciously saying things like this.

We two are one. And yes, I’m the one.

Or, in a patriarchal or what some consider a “biblical” marriage, a bride may live her life like this.

We two are one. And, yes, he’s the one.

As years go by, both lose opportunities to develop their character. They lose their individual selves as well as the relationship. One of them becomes invisible. The other one gets caught up in self-delusions. Neither has insights into their own souls.

Neither one attempts to adjust their own oxygen mask. They’re too busy trying to improve, fix, or help the other. They become bitter, resentful, angry and resistant. Their world gets smaller. They become stuck. Or, figuratively, they pass out.

Life transitions expose the soul storms of a marriage. Raising children, career development, loss, and core differences create turbulence in life. Click To Tweet

It takes pressurized reality to be a soulmate

It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. And it still takes two to do that in a relationship. Here’s points to consider.

  1. Conflict is necessary for personal and relationship awareness.
  2. Don’t avoid it or run from it.
  3. Don’t criticize your partner or try to win them over to your side.
  4. Instead, be open. Listen to understand. There are more than two ways to resolve a conflict.
  5. Seek counseling or outside help to resolve resolvable conflicts. And to adjust to unresolvable conflicts.

World-renown researcher, Dr. John Gottman, gives us clarity. Sixty-nine percent of happily married couples have unresolved conflict. The difference between the “masters” and the “disasters” are this. The “masters” are the ones who adjust and accept their partner’s differences. The “disasters” allow perpetual resentment and negativity to grow.

Here are ideas on how to adjust our own soul mask

  1. Do breathe deeply when you feel reactive, irritable, angry, or triggered by your spouse. Slow down. You’ll get clarity when you do.
  2. Be curious about what’s going on inside of you. Ask yourself, “What’s unfinished in my life? Why did this situation or comment make me feel this way? What is the meaning I created from that interaction?”
  3. To increase self-awareness, reflect on this question: “How is my spouse experiencing me?”
  4. See your spouse as a gift from God. When you do, you can develop an attitude of thankfulness. You’ll nurture your soul and grow your character. Be willing to accept your spouses’ issues as helping yoube more understanding.
It takes two to honor each other and respect one another’s differences. Click To Tweet

The cabin pressure of your marriage will change. Those oxygen masks will drop. Always adjust yours first. Balance the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. Your beautiful life is worth keeping your soul intact.

I’m writing more on the steps for balancing the “we” and “me” in romance and marriage. So, let’s stay in touch in the meantime.

For now, sign up for updates and preview on my new book

Beyond Messy Marriages: Divine Invitations Toward Your Authentic Self

 

Feature Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash

Marital Growth

One Thing You Must Know About Marital Growth

One thing you must know about marital growth is this. There’s a difference between closeness and intimacy.

We’re all designed for relationships. We may be single, married, widowed or divorced. But when it comes to marriage, there’s one thing you must know about marital growth – the difference between closeness and intimacy.

We desire to be loved by another human being in spite of our flaws. Yet we balk at knowing and being known. It’s risky because our spouse may not accept us. As a result, we keep an emotional distance to hide our vulnerability. Or we’ve been authentic in the past and it wasn’t worth it.

We desire to be loved by another human being in spite of our flaws. Click To Tweet

Marital Growth Can Heal Our Childhood Pain

It’s during our early experiences that we learn how to protect ourselves from pain. We learn ways to hide our real selves. The ways we hide keep us from being intimate in our marriages. Here’s an example.

I learned to hide my vulnerability when I was “held back” in the second grade. Our family moved in the middle of the school year. I had difficulty reading at grade level. A diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder didn’t exist then, and while I was diagnosed as an adult, it didn’t stop me as a child from believing something was wrong with me.

“You’re eight and only in the second grade?” kids would say.

“Yes,” I said trying to make light of it. “I was held back.”

“You flunked,” they laughed at me and pointed their fingers. “You flunked,” they said over and over again. I wanted to hide. And I learned to keep my past a secret. Instead, I pretended to be a year younger than I was. It was too painful to admit I “flunked.” As most children do, I chose to hide. I learned to keep my distance from people who would cause me pain.

We all need to grow beyond our childhood pain. A growing and partnered marriage is the way to do it. Otherwise, we fall into stagnation and mediocrity. But we long for energy and vibrancy.

Marital Growth Needs a Healthy Dose of “Closeness”

An example of being close is cuddling up on the couch with your loved one. As a couple, you’re watching a Netflix movie or an episode of your favorite TV show. You share a bowl of buttered popcorn. Physical touch between the two of you adds warm fuzzy feelings. It doesn’t take effort for either of you. It’s easy and comfortable.

To clarify, closeness could be:

  • Enjoying time on vacation together, whether it’s a cruise or a camping trip.
  • Having fun during a shared activity.
  • Comfortable silence between husband and wife.
  • Predictability of routines.
  • Finishing the sentences of another.
  • Knowing what the other wants on their pizza.

Being close because of shared experiences is a vital feature of marital growth. Yet, every marriage needs to be intimate. And I’m not talking about sex. Here’s what I mean.

Marital Growth Needs a Healthy Dose of “Intimate”

Most people think of intimacy as sex. But that’s not all it is. In some cases, sex is the opposite of intimacy. It can be a facade for real intimacy. Close physical connection through sex can be like super-glue for married couples. But it’s not enough. Authentic knowing of another comes through vulnerable conversations.

Here are examples that can apply to either spouse.

When a wife tells her husband she’s attracted to a male co-worker, she’s being vulnerable. As partners, they could be stronger by breaking the power of secret attraction. But she also bears the risk of rejection, insecurity or judgment. The husband could accuse, misunderstand or resent his wife. Even though she chooses integrity, he may reject her vulnerability.

But when her husband welcomes her internal struggles, they can strengthen their union. They can show up as partners for each other. And it takes two to do it.

Vulnerability plus acceptance equals intimacy. Trustworthiness increases. The marriage grows a stronger bond. They know each other’s weaknesses and have each other’s back. Intimacy invites partnership between the two. They both fertilize their unconditional love for each other. They grow through intimacy.

Intimacy in dating is seeing the other person as worthy of dignity and respect. It’s honoring the other’s differences. Resist the attitude of “what can my girlfriend do for me” to “how can I honor her?” Choose to nurture a friendship before a romance. Be willing to grow through relationship.

Intimacy requires two people in the relationship to choose to be real. One may pave the way for the other, but both are willing. Reciprocity is key.

Intimacy requires two people in the relationship to choose to be real. Click To Tweet

Marital Intimacy Is:

  • Leaning into giving and receiving love when you’d rather run away.
  • The confession of a shameful past to allow the other to forgive.
  • Saying a heartfelt, “I’m sorry” without the “but” or “if” words.
  • Letting go of bitterness, resentment, or cynicism.
  • Being willing to risk comfort and choosing to live in truth.

Remember, a growing and partnered marriage needs both comfort and intimacy. Our risk of intimacy and acceptance by our spouse helps us overcome the pain of childhood. When we reciprocate, we can grow our marriages with energy and vibrancy.

Questions to Ponder about Marital Growth

How are your relationships close?

What does the word “intimacy” mean to you?

What do you think of with the word “vulnerability?”

Your Next Step

Share this blog post with a friend. They can get their first three chapters of Beyond Messy Relationships for free.

Vote now for Beyond Messy Relationships!

Here’s how to do it. Just click on 2019 Author Academy Awards.

Then click on page nine (9/16) and scroll near the end. You’ll find the cover to “Beyond Messy Relationships” near the end.

 

Featured Photo: by Toa Heftiba through Unsplash.com