4 Ways to Honor Our Fallen On Memorial Day and Beyond

IMG_1160“Have a great weekend! Have a happy Memorial Day!” are words many of us spoke on Friday as we left the work week and entered into the holiday weekend. It seems so counterintuitive to wish someone a “happy” Memorial Day when you look at what the day is about. Despite it’s solemn purpose, our nation fills the weekend with barbeques and parties year after year. Many refer to it as our “unofficial beginning of summer.”

I remember when I was growing up, the thought of joining the military was one of the farthest things from my mind. I had no desire or intention to serve; convinced I didn’t have what it took. To my own surprise one day, with two years of college under my belt, there I sat, in the Air Force recruiter’s office signing on the proverbial dotted line.

When I joined the Air Force, for some reason, I had a false sense of security assuming I would never be exposed to a combat situation, and I’d never have to deal with the devastation of war. Then 9/11 happened….and all of that false security went out the door…in fact I pushed it out. I watched the footage we all saw on the news that day from my dorm room as a young Airman, and practically begged my Flight Chief to let me go with the disaster response team to help in whatever ways I could. Just like that, I began to truly understand that the military, my service, was much bigger than me.

While I wasn’t tasked with a deployment in 2001, from that moment on I was ready to go whenever it was my time. Finally, in 2008, it was my turn; I had the honor and privilege to augment a team of US Army Green Berets on a very violent firebase in Afghanistan. For six months we dealt with the brutal realities of war up close and personal. Two of the men I served with were killed in action; Travis Hunsberger was killed June 27, 2008 and Greg “Rod” Rodriguez was killed in battle on September 2, 2008. Just like that, my world changed. War wasn’t “over there” the suffering and grief was no longer happening to someone else. Loss and death were now forever painfully burned into my heart.

Ever since 2008, my perspective on so much has changed, especially Memorial Day. Each year, I find myself thinking of the families of the two men I knew for such a brief time before their lives were stolen from their loved ones. I think of how those families spend Memorial Day weekend….and I’m so humbled.

All of that being said…by no means do I think Memorial Day should not be a fun and joyous event…in fact quite the contrary. I think the celebrating we do on this weekend is so important.  As we go into Memorial Day 2016, here are a few ways to honor our fallen on such an important holiday.

4 Ways to Honor Our Fallen On Memorial Day and Beyond

1. Pause and Remember

Before the party gets started…Pause. Remember those who sacrificed it all, and the families they left behind who continue to carry the weight of that sacrifice every day. In America we are blessed with so many freedoms that we have, and continue to fight so hard for. Your political affiliation doesn’t make a lick of difference when it comes to the gratitude and respect we owe our fallen service men and women for what they have done for our nation.

2. Live in the Joy of Right Now

One of the most important things we can appreciate from our fallen service members is that life is way too short. If you’re like me, you can very easily find yourself caught up in where you’re going, and if you’re not careful, you can completely miss the significance of where you are. Be intentional in your appreciation for right now. The people you are spending it with, the memories you are making, the love you are sharing are all such blessings.

The men and women that we remember this weekend were part of something so much bigger than themselves. I truly believe nothing would honor them more than us fully appreciating what we have in the amazing nation they worked so hard to defend.

3. Practice Forgiveness

To harbor resentment and anger towards another, or even yourself, is one of the most toxic human habits to have. Holding on to something so heavy does nothing but weigh you down. We all experience pain, betrayal, shame, and regret. The only thing you gain by holding on to those things is more pain. When you can come to a place of forgiveness, you set yourself free from the chains of resentment. Forgiveness doesn’t make the pain go away, but it does allow you to move on.

So many of our fallen didn’t have the chance to experience the freedom of forgiveness. Take the opportunity they didn’t have. Forgive.

4. Be Bold and Courageous

When we think of those two words, it is so easy to associate them with the heroes in our military. They are bold and courageous in countless ways each and every day. To be bold and courageous means to have a state of mind that allows us to face our difficulties, dangers, challenges despite our fear. That can seem impossible when it comes to looking at yourself and your own circumstances. It may seem that whatever the situation is, it’s way too big or unattainable to take on.

Every single day is a gift. When I think of my friend Greg Rodriguez and the many conversations we shared about our families, the stories he told me of his wife and kids, and all the things he wanted to do when he got home….I’m reminded of the incredible opportunity that I have in my own life to be bold and courageous. I have the chance to be an amazing mom and wife for my family. I get to reach for my goals.   I get to take a chance. I get to fail and pick myself up again. Greg, Travis, and the thousands of other fallen service members, no longer have those opportunities.

Embrace those moments that we all have and appreciate the gift that they are. Be bold and courageous in making a positive impact.


I hope you have the happiest of Memorial Days this year, and that you honor our fallen in these ways and others today and beyond.


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Learn the Value of a Different Perspective

Are you like me and guilty of assuming your own perspective is always the best way to see things? If so, I imagine you also experience frequent reminders that disprove that theory all together. Here is my most recent “reminder” courtesy of a kindergartener.

So there we were: sitting on the back patio as a family, on a typical Saturday afternoon, when I looked up and noticed something looked “different” about my six year old daughter Ayla’s hair.

“Come here for a second sweetie,” I say to her.

“Sure mommy!” she replies and plops in my lap and gives me a hug. I begin to survey the “situation” and sift through her hair. I soon discover the source of my intrigue; a huge chunk of the hair on the right side of her head had been newly trimmed about five inches shorter than the rest! ayla chopped hair 2016

I remember having a “Mom Moment” in those initial seconds of realization of what happened to her hair. I reminded myself to stay calm and approach the situation delicately. In all honesty, I was horrified as I thought about how on Earth we could fix it.

How did this happen?  When did it happen? Where did she get the scissors? I thought to myself. I took a deep breath, in effort to prevent my face from revealing how I was feeling. The last thing I wanted to do was make my poor little girl feel embarrassed.


“Yes mommy?” she smiled.

“Did you cut your hair yesterday at school with your scissors?” I asked, as my loving husband sat next to me attempting to maintain his stoic fatherly face, despite the overwhelming urge to erupt with laughter.

“Oh no ma’am! I sure didn’t!” she answered.

“Are you sure you didn’t do it honey?” I asked, trying to persuade the truth from her.

“Nope! I didn’t do it. It’s the truth! It was Chase. He cut it right off!” she said as she began to giggle. I couldn’t hold back my own giggles at that point as I looked at her smile and listened to her sweet laugh.

“Why did you let him cut your hair?”

“Well, he thought it would be funny! I thought so too! So I let him cut it! And it was so funny! Don’t you think so mama?” she giggled. I looked over at my husband, who was laughing as much as she was at that point. I gave her a big hug and gently instructed her not to allow Chase, or anyone else for that matter, cut her hair anymore…no matter how funny they think it may be.

She agreed and said, “Alright mommy, but it’s ok….it’s just hair! It grows back!” And with that, she went back to playing with her younger brother.

As I watched them play, her words continued to resonate in my mind. Something I was so concerned about was “no big deal” to her. It got me thinking about how differently we adults tend to look at life when it compared to children. Kids have a profound ability to tap into the Joy of Life, while adults can be such thieves of our own joy. What other people think and say becomes so important to us that we shift our concern away from what brings us happiness, instead focusing to what we need to do to meet the mold of what everyone else thinks is “right.”

Children are so much more resilient than us. We tend to dwell on things much longer than necessary, and often in excess; whereas a child can move on so easily. They don’t let things weigh them down. When something hurts, they cry, and when they’re done, they move on.

As parents, and adults in general, we tend to focus on modeling behavior that teaches our youth. We assume that our way of thinking is what they need to learn from and apply. While in many cases this is absolutely true; I think often we fail to recognize that our youth has something quite valuable to teach us as well.

This realization produced an even more profound one. In comparing the mindset differences of adults and children, I began to ponder the incredible impact the many differences between us all can have on our own lives. Just as we innately assume we are the sole “teachers” and never the “pupil” of our children, we tend to feel the same way in regards to our peers. Our own perspective is certainly what makes the most sense to us individually, so it stands to reason that it must be the way everyone else should think…right?

Or maybe….just maybe….we could learn to take our blinders off and see the world through someone else’s eyes before we assume our own way is the most correct. Could you imagine the impact if we intentionally sought out a different perspective?

With that thought, I’ll leave you with a challenge for this week and beyond: Be on the lookout for encounters with people who see the world through a completely different kind of lense than you. When you find those situations….

Pause. Listen. Learn. Appreciate.

I guarantee you, if we could all make this a practice in our everyday, we’d be better for it.

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I’m BACK…to Center!

That’s right!! I’m BACK! And so very glad to be!!! I must say….Wow!! My blog typing fingers are feeling pretty rusty! I suppose I could blame that on the fact that I’ve been on quite the hiatus from blogging recently. I’ve had many people checking in with me on a regular basis, wondering when I would get back into the blog. I am so pleased to say I’m finally ready!

jenn back to blogging

I appreciate all your patience and words of encouragement as I, and my family, transitioned through a very difficult move. I posted a couple of times since my relocation, but I just couldn’t get into my zone to do it as I had before the move. I feel it only right to offer an explanation to my readers for why it was such a long absence. Here comes the brutally honest truth:

The pause was very Intentional.

What I realized is that our move to Texas was not only a change for our physical location, but also an opportunity to push the “Refresh” button for a lot of different aspects of my life. One of those aspects, has been this blog, and my dream of Back to Center.

When I originally started this blog almost two years ago, it was right after my book 166 Days was newly published. I was on fire with energy and motivation to grow Back to Center into something great. As awesome as it felt, there was one major problem….I wasn’t really clear on what that “something” was.

I found the more time went on, the more I lost focus on what it was I was really trying to accomplish. I began to feel the energy draining from my project, instead being replaced with frustration and distraction.

This scenario I personally went through, is something that can occur all too often in life. You may even be able to relate to this through some of your own experiences…

As I dealt with (more like denied) the frustrations, I would literally sit down in front of the computer to write, but something kept preventing me from typing. Then it finally sunk in to my thick skull that the reason I couldn’t write anything was because I wasn’t ready to!

Through much thought and prayer I realized what was happening. God was delivering a very tender “nudge” to help me see that I needed to be ok with taking a break. It was necessary to embrace the time I had for what I needed, and for what was needed of me. I needed to focus on what was most important. Life slowed down just enough to help me see the beautiful things right in front of me that I had missed in all the hustle and bustle before. I began to appreciate and cherish my role as a mother and wife in a much more meaningful and effective way than I ever had in the past.

I also began to take stock on what I was feeling about the blog; I needed a clear definition of what it was I was doing and why. What I needed was Clarity.

Unfortunately, as you may well know from your own experiences…clarity is not something that comes easily, or quickly for that matter.  Thankfully, although it took its sweet time, with many detours and stops along the way, clarity did in fact arrive into my purview!

All of that to say, I am so pleased to re-introduce you to something so very important to me…my blog. Back to Center, a weekly blog focused solely on telling stories that help inspire and motivate people to heal from the inside out. As many people know, healing is my passion, expressed through my profession as a Physician Assistant, and also through my gift of writing.

My goal with this blog is to share my own stories, the stories of people I meet, and even people I haven’t met, that give you a fresh, uplifting start to your week. My hope is that what you read here will arm you with the strength and courage to find the joy in your life no matter how challenging your circumstances may be. I welcome your love and feedback, and even more importantly, I welcome your stories.

In fact, I’ve created a new page called Share Your Inspiration on the site for you to communicate directly with me about your own moments of joy or perseverance in obstacles you’ve overcome, or if you’ve found someone else’s experience inspiring and feel it can help others. I want you to feel this is a place for those stories to be heard and even more importantly…shared!

I am beyond blessed to be doing something that fills my soul with purpose and I so look forward to sharing it with you. So!! Ladies and gentlemen…it is my honor to welcome you Back to Center!!!



5 Reasons to Thank a Veteran

veteran's day1When you thank a veteran, do you know exactly what you are thanking them for? I’ll be honest, as an active duty service member I wasn’t quite sure what “thank you” meant myself. I’d hear it, and I’d appreciate the person who said it, yet I didn’t know how much they were really thanking me for until I got out of the military.

When you’re surrounded everyday by service members, it’s hard to recognize the qualities they have that make our country so proud. As we celebrate our active duty and veterans on Veteran’s Day, I wanted to share some of the reasons why thanking them for their service is so important.

Five Reasons to Thank a Veteran

1. Work Ethic and Dedication

Being in the military means you’re part of a team accomplishing something much bigger than you. Our service men and women understand that and are dedicated to making sure they give their absolute all to the cause. There’s no such thing as overtime, being in the “service” means you serve. These individuals take this to heart each and every day.

2. Comradery

By definition this means spirit and goodwill of fellowship.  I used to listen to retired military people tell me how much they missed that comradery when they got out, but I didn’t appreciate it until I did. It’s knowing that person next to you has your back, no matter what. Most of my closest friends are people I served with. There is a bond between us that’s unbreakable, and I’d walk through fire for any of them.

3. Honor and Integrity

Honor and Integrity are demonstrated as a norm; a standard set to be exceeded with all that is asked of them.  These are not just values or traits, these words are who our military is.

4. Sacrifice

The working long hours, deploying overseas and being away from loved ones, getting back and deploying again, putting themselves in harm’s way, and even losing a comrade.  All of these are incredible things to ask of a person, yet I think even more incredible is the sacrifice of themselves. Each and every deployment requires a service member to leave a piece of themselves on the battlefield, and often it’s their innocence.  War is something that changes us forever. These men and women go back into this environment over and over again for the good of our country, carrying with them the remnants of war for the rest of their lives.

5. Their Untold Story 

To me, this is one of the most important things to thank them for.  Military service brings moments into our lives that are the absolute most challenging; testing mental, physical, and spiritual strength. The things our service members go through make us proud, but often can break our hearts. Most veterans don’t say a whole lot about their experiences, yet if we knew even half of what they’ve done or been through, we would see things differently.

One thing I’ve realized since I became a veteran is that our service to the military may have ended, but our responsibility to be a veteran never stops. We continue to represent our nation every day for the rest of our lives.  We have a rare opportunity to share our experiences with others and continue to be a mentor.  The list above is just a few of the things we are thankful for in our military veterans. I can say personally, I’m so humbled to have kept company with such honorable people.

I always ask a question at the end, but this is one I hope you take a minute out of your day to answer as we pay tribute to our men and women who served.

How has a veteran changed your life?

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Do You Know the Most Important Things to Include in a Difficult Conversation?

If you told me three months ago I’d be putting in my two weeks notice at a job that I completely uprooted my family to accept, I probably would have thought you were crazy. But, unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened to me recently.

Once I started working, it didn’t take long for me to recognize legitimate concerns. I’ll spare you the details, but in a nutshell, there were way too many red flags flying around for me not to notice. I spent many days feeling sick to my stomach, and even more sleepless nights as things began to unfold.

It felt like I literally went through the five stages of grieving at warp speed:

  1. Denial: For several weeks I tried to “un-see” the things happening around me and convince myself there was a logical explanation.
  2. Anger: Then, I realized it was indeed what I thought and I became angry. I mean really! I moved half way across the country, separated our family temporarily, left a great job and great friends for this?!
  3. Bargaining: Once the anger calmed down, I tried to rationalize through it. Maybe I could just stick it out until something better comes along. Maybe I could just keep my head down, do the right thing, and just stick it out.
  4. Depression: The more time passed, the more I saw, and the worse it got. My plan to stick it out became more and more unfeasible with each day. It hurt. I felt like I made a horrible mistake and ultimately let my family down.
  5. Acceptance: Then, through much prayer and discussion with my husband, I began to realize what I had to do; I had to take a leap of faith, as scary as it was, and remove myself from the situation.

Then it came to the hard part….the conversation with the boss. I had to find a way to address my concerns and inform him I would no longer continue to work there. It was extremely difficult; he is a very charismatic individual, and there are parts of you that can’t help but like him. As I raised my concerns and listened to him lie his way through them, I felt the conviction I needed to give my notice. He tried to convince me to stay, and as much as I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, I knew I couldn’t. I worked through my two weeks and have since left the company.

It has been a whirlwind of emotion as I made yet another transition so quickly after leaving Florida, but it has given me a profound perspective and lesson in faith that I’m so blessed to be able to share.

We’ve all been faced with difficult decisions, which can often lead to the dreaded difficult conversation. No one wants to have a discussion with someone else about something unpleasant, but there comes a time when it becomes necessary. Through my recent experience, I want to share with you what I feel are the two most important things to include in that conversation the next time you are faced with one.

truth and grace

That’s it. Truth and Grace. I can’t take complete credit for this. Anyone who has spent much time talking with me knows that one of my favorite influential people is Pastor Andy Stanley. His sermons are my favorite podcast to listen to. Recently, I listened to one talking about how we are to love one another as Christ loved us. He went on to explain how difficult that is to do, because Christ’s love for us is messy. It’s messy because often times it can seem unfair, and hard to explain. But when you understand that his love is filled with truth and grace, it begins to make sense.

The Two Most Important Parts to Include in A Difficult Conversation


Truth is where every conversation, especially the difficult ones, should come from. When we allow ourselves or others to escape from the reality of the situation by making excuses, or telling lies we are actually committing a huge disservice to that individual.

In my situation specifically, as I said, he was a very likeable person, and as I listened to him make up lies and excuses for what I knew to be true, I felt myself wanting to believe him, wanting to take the easy road and say “it’s ok” and pretend like I didn’t know better. But, I will tell you the honest truth, as that feeling of giving in began to surface inside my heart, a much bigger one came in and took over. I thought of that sermon, and how we are meant to be held accountable for our actions. Truth. If I were to let him hide behind lies, I wouldn’t be doing anything for him other than feeding the beast. How much of an impact me leaving had on him and his company may or may not be significant in the grand scheme of things. But, I know I made a difference in his life that day, no matter how small, it mattered.


One of the most beautiful things that we experience in Christ’s love is his grace. The fact that no matter how far we stray or how wrong we may be, we are forgiven, we are loved. Grace. Such a powerful thing. When grace is extended towards us, we feel as if we have a second chance. When we are able to extend grace to others, not only do we help them, but we help ourselves.

As I closed the conversation with my former boss, he apologized to me for all the pain I endured from working there. Without a second thought, I quickly told him I had no resentment towards him, and I genuinely  hope he takes from this experience what he and his company need to be successful in the future.

To forgive, to let go, is one of the most powerful things we can do. When you let resentment and anger remain, you allow that person and their wrong doing to hang over you and keep you captive. If you have a difficult conversation, come from a place of forgiveness as you enter into it. When you do, you allow yourself to leave the moment with a sense of peace as you let go of the burden you’ve been carrying up until that moment.

No one wants to have those difficult conversations, but when you’re faced with them I hope you remember to equip yourself with the power of truth and grace. Through adversity we gain so much growth. At the end of the day, the most important thing we can do in life is love others as we would want to be loved.

What is the most difficult conversation you’ve had? Did it consist of truth and grace?



4 Tell-Tale Signs That You’ve Become Your Own Worst Enemy

I’m afraid I’ve created a monster when it comes to the dinner table. Allow me to elaborate…my childhood habits and the genetics I’ve passed on to my child have come back to bite me! When I was a small child, my mother and I battled every single night; the source of our epic conflict? Me….completing the daunting task of eating the food on my plate. Such a simple thing to ask a child right? Wrong….not when that child was me. I would sit at the table for hours in front of my plate full of food, while my poor mother tried everything in her power to convince her stubborn child to eat. I pulled out all the stops; scooting all the food to one side of the plate, hiding it in my napkin and under the placemat, even taking a bite and going to the “bathroom” where I would throw it away in the trash can.

Dylan at the Dinner Table 2015Fast-forward thirty years; except this time I’m the frustrated mom trying to convince my sweet three year old son to at least eat two bites of his dinner. I mean really! I’m not even asking him to finish his plate!  I just want him to swallow his food!

Much to my dismay, the child would rather sit at the table for an hour with his food stuffed in one cheek, with tears streaming down his face, instead of chewing it up, swallowing it, and being done with it. Hmmm….he gets his stubborn disposition from someone….I wonder who…..

As I watched my little guy torture himself in our most recent dinner table confrontation,  by refusing to chew his food, making his predicament so much more painful than it needed to be,  I couldn’t help but relate his struggle to the ones we can all face from time to time in our lives.

The struggle I am referring to is the one we seem to have with the person who can be our biggest, most powerful nemesis….ourselves.

Have you ever known someone who is struggling in a situation in their life, and you, being the “objective party” can see clearly that they are their own worst enemy. Their habits, their mindset, or even their actions are working against the end-goal, but there’s no way to reason with them.

No doubt, this is a horrible situation to be in….but have you ever taken the time to take the astute observations you made with someone else, and apply them to yourself? Have you ever taken the time to look at your own circumstances and see if you could potentially be doing the same thing to yourself?

We’re all human, which means we all struggle in life from time to time, and it also means we have the potential to become our own worst enemy and make situations much harder than what they need to be. Not sure how to tell?  Here are some signs to look for.

4 Tell-Tale Signs That You’ve Become Your Own Worst Enemy

1.  You Constantly Find Yourself Hiding Behind Excuses When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Intuitively, it may make sense to us  to make excuses for why we fail, or things don’t work out the way we’d hoped, or why mistakes were made. It’s self preservation at its finest…right? Wrong. By hiding behind excuses, we allow ourselves to escape the accountability that is so necessary for us to move on and grow from the circumstances we experience.

The next time you find yourself in an unfavorable situation, instead of making excuses for why things happened the way they did, look for the real reason things went south and address it head on. Face the demons so to speak. When you can be real with yourself, you can make real progress in moving forward.

2.  You Notoriously Blame Others for Your Misfortunes

It’s so easy and convenient to point the finger at everyone else around you instead of owning your own responsibility in a situation. No matter how much wrong someone else may have done, there is always an opportunity to own your role in things. If we don’t, we develop a toxic state of mind called “victim mentality.”

The bottom line is simple. No matter what external forces are working against us, the person ultimately responsible for how all of them influence your thoughts, actions, and beliefs is you.

3.  You Fill Your Vocabulary with “If Only’s”

Two words that can ultimately be the catalyst to your demise. Life is never perfect, there is always going to be a better option, an easier path, or a more feasible way. “If only” never goes away, because things could always be potentially better when those two words consume your vocabulary. So, get rid of them. Learn the value of adapting and overcoming with what you have. Trust that the resources that are available to you are exactly what you need to make it work. The bigger purpose to things may not present itself right away…but eventually it will, as long as you don’t clutter your perspective with those two little words…

4.  You’re Habitually Overly Critical of Yourself

Being transparent, this is where I personally struggle the most. If I’m not careful, I can easily become my own worst critic. This is a slippery slope; while it’s healthy to be open to ways to improve, if you’re so critical of your actions that you don’t recognize growth and achievement, then you never  allow yourself to be “good enough.” The danger in this is stealing your own joy. It’s impossible to be perfect, so why hold yourself to an impossible standard? Strive for excellence, and be happy with your very best, even when it falls short of perfection.

Life is filled with many opportunities to go to battle with the all-powerful worst enemy named “Self.” You will surely meet this infamous villain once or twice along the way, and when you do, remember to arm yourself with the tools to recognize the biggest weapons he or she may use against you. When you do, you’ll walk away the champion of one of the most difficult battles to fight.

Is there a time in your life when you recognized you were your own worst enemy?

3 Resources to Help You Through Challenging Times

With two weeks of being a Texan under my belt, I can personally confirm that everything in Texas in indeed much bigger! What a whirlwind this move has been. Leaving the comfort of the familiar, and having to acclimate to the ways of a big city has certainly been a challenge.

It’s been much harder than I imagined, leaving my close friends and family, my home, and my life in Florida; but it didn’t hit me just how hard it was until my husband had to return to Florida. My job started first, so I had to go first. I was lucky to have Greg here with me for the first week while I got settled in, but when he left, it opened the floodgates of all the emotion that was building up.

Being separated is never fun, but unfortunately it’s our reality for the next several months. Even though we’ve been separated several times before, I’ve become rather spoiled having a partner in crime readily available for all life throws at me. While he’s still only a phone call away, and still ever present at heart, it’s a lot different not having him here.

This situation has been hard, and I’ve had moments where I’ve felt so alone, despite the love and support of my family and friends. Have you ever been there? Feeling like it was you against the world? Sometimes life leads us to these moments that force us into reflection. Those moments, as challenging as they are, can often bring us priceless insight.peir

Perhaps you’re in a similar situation, or you know someone that is. If that’s the case, don’t let the discouragement take over. Instead, focus on the value you can gain from the experience.

3  Resources to Help You Through Challenging Times

The Value of You

While clearly not my ideal scenario, this situation has forced me to focus more on someone I notoriously neglect….myself.  We all know how important it is to take care of ourselves; yet we often make that our last priority after everyone and everything else.

As a mom, wife, career woman…you can call me “guilty as charged” in this case. Now, I have a lot more time available to fill. I could sit around and feel sorry for myself (which I admit I did initially) or I can use it to my advantage. I’ve gotten back on track with some personal goals that I’ve let slide for a long time. It’s been a healthy reminder of how beneficial spending some time on yourself is.

The Value of Where You’ve Been

Being in a completely new situation, I am constantly reminded of the value of where I’ve been. The experience I’ve gained and the people I’ve known have been such an integral part of who I am today. Sometimes we don’t realize how much our past prepares us for our present. The life experience, invaluable friendships, and special memories are something you carry with you forever.

Those things serve as a compass of sorts when it comes to what’s next. Lessons learned are some of the most valuable tools we have for shaping our future.

The Value of Where You’re Going

Change is incredibly scary sometimes. The fear of the unknown can often overwhelm us. What if, instead of looking at it like a big scary open space of unknown, you see an enormous blank canvas in front of you instead? Black hole of doubt and uncertainty….or a canvas of opportunity? I know which one I choose!

The point is,  don’t forget to see the amazing opportunity that comes with change. You get to paint the future with new memories and experiences. Why not do everything you can to make it the most beautiful piece of art?

Remember, every day is a gift, even the challenging ones. When you have those days, remember the valuable things that can help keep you focused on what’s important.

Today’s Challenge: Make every moment count…especially the challenging ones!

The 3 Essential G’s that Make a “Good” Goodbye

The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning.”~Ivy Baker Priest

saying goodbye to floridaAfter eight years filled with some of the most significant moments of my life, it’s time for me to say goodbye to Panama City, Florida. Over the last several weeks, I’ve found myself in many moments of deep reflection of the times I’ve had here. It’s where my husband Greg and I started our marriage, where we bought our first house, where I started my career as a Physician Assistant, and where our children were born. It’s been our home; a place where some incredible people have crossed my path and had such profound impact on my life.

Saying goodbye; moving on to the next chapter, has been far from easy. To be frank, it’s been an emotional rollercoaster. Often times we don’t realize the significance others bring to our lives, or even the influence we have on theirs…until we face that moment when we part ways.

When it comes to goodbyes, there is one thing that is certain; we all have to deal with them at some time. Whether it be due to a relocation or the loss of a loved one, we all face  it.

As I deal with it myself in this particular time in my life, sure it’s painful, but I’ve found comfort in knowing three essential things that should come with every goodbye.

The 3 Essential G’s that Make a “Good” Goodbye

1. Grace

To have grace is to love, to forgive, and to extend kindness. There are some times when perhaps we actually welcome saying goodbye. It’s something to look forward to because it means you no longer have to exist in your current situation, or you no longer have to deal with difficult individuals or stressful circumstances. In this case, the change is a great thing; however, that doesn’t mean you should leave on a bad note. Leave with grace. Remember the Golden Rule: Matthew 7:12 – “So in everything, do unto others what you would have them do to you.”

No matter what the circumstance may be, extend grace. End it on a good note. Forgive. Let go. Move on. By doing so, your heart becomes lighter. The pain of a bad experience isn’t nearly as heavy, and you prepare yourself to be in the right state of mind for whatever comes along next.

2. Gratitude

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”~Carol Sobieski and Thomas Meehan, Annie

Such a powerful thought isn’t it? When it’s time to say goodbye to a part of your life, take the time to be grateful for the value it’s brought to you. Be grateful for the people you met, the connections you made, the influences you benefited from, the experiences you endured and the memories you made. All of these things have played an important role in a part of your life.

To acknowledge the blessings despite the pain of letting go helps ease the transition. Allow yourself to feel grateful; let the joy outshine the sadness.

3. Growth

Every moment of life is an opportunity to grow. Every failure, every victory, every smile, every tear, and every goodbye brings us the precious gift of growth. We have an opportunity to become the best version of ourselves through all that we experience.   Take with you the knowing that goodbye brings with it the chance to not only reflect on the lessons learned through those experiences, but also to apply it.

As we start the next chapters of our lives in Texas, I want to extend the most genuine and heartfelt thanks to our friends and family in Florida. You have made our time here the most memorable and important years of my life. You will always have a special place in my heart and your impact will never be forgotten. I look forward to sharing a new Texas perspective with each and every one of you. What a blessing to have such incredible people to miss. Until we meet again my friends….

How has “goodbye” impacted your life?

Have an amazing day and please feel free to share!

Please Forgive a Temporary Hiatus

change_aheadI need a huge favor from you! I need you to excuse my temporary hiatus over the last couple of weeks. My family and I are undergoing some very big change; we are in the midst of relocating to Texas!

It is a huge blessing for us, and we are very excited, but it has been a whirlwind of logistics and details. I’ve tried to sit and focus on creating a new post, but my mind honestly seems to be stuck in boxes and packing tape right now.

There is a lot brewing in my head, and fresh new material for the blog is on the horizon; but I will need to get through the next week before it happens.

In the meantime, I’d like to point you back to the series I posted recently on Change. I’ve had to remind myself of my own advice recently, and in doing such, I think it’s a great opportunity to do the same for you.

So thank you for your patience and be rest assured this whole experience will generate some great new material.

I hope everyone has a great week!

3 Critical Areas for Healthy Habits

Delilah and Cone of Shame 2015Meet my pug Delilah. Yes, I do realize she has a very large, ridiculous, blue inflatable device around her neck. Believe me, that thing is pretty unavoidable. We’ve lovingly dubbed it her “cone of shame,” courtesy of the Disney movie “Up.”

The most logical next question bouncing around in your head has got to be; “Why?”

Well, allow me to explain. My sweet little pug Delilah has apparently developed allergies over the last several years, which cause her skin to get irritated and itchy. When she has a flare up she will lick, scratch, and bite her paws until they bleed.

After a course of oral steroids, antibiotics, topical anti-allergy shampoo and lotion, and a hefty vet bill, we can get her skin under control. Here’s the problem; over time, flare up or not, her licking and biting has become a habit. The minute her “cone of shame” comes off, she starts going at it; the right paw being her most frequent target.

As silly as she looks, we know without the cone she would continue to hurt herself. So, there you have it; a pug with a beautiful, and permanent new accessory. Believe me, settling on the blue thing was no easy decision. She literally chew threw and broke about five previous cones. Thankfully, we seem to have found one that works….at least for now.

Delilah, her cone, and her harmful habit got me thinking; perhaps we humans could benefit from such a protective device? Think about all the self-destructive habits we seem to acquire over the years. Could you imagine us all walking around with big blue inflatable “cones” to protect us from ourselves?

Ok….maybe not such a good idea, but it certainly argues a good point. Since a cone is out of the question, perhaps awareness of three areas in our lives we need to be protective of our habits will have to suffice.

3 Critical Areas for Healthy Habits

Your Influences

Influence manifests through many different resources; the material you read, the television you watch, the people you surround yourself with to name a few. Our influences can shape our opinions and thoughts which in turn shape our actions.

Be protective of what you expose yourself to. Remember the importance of being selective with who and what you decide to let influence you. Ensure the people you invest the most of yourself with are those that bring value to your life, and you to theirs. Surround yourself with things that motivate you to be awesome.

How You Spend Your Time

How many times have we all been reminded by our elders just how precious our time is? As we age, we all recognize how true that really is, yet we still tend to forget to heed the advice of those much wiser than us. We can waste the precious hours of the day so easily by spending it doing things that have no value or purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, we all need our “down time,” but the point is to be intentional about it. Don’t waste a day in front of the television or video games when you could be enjoying the beautiful outdoors, or having a great conversation with someone you love. Don’t spend your time feeling sorry for yourself for all the unfortunate things in your life, instead, spend it trying to make positive change.

The one thing we all have an equal amount of is time. Make yours something you’ve spent wisely.

What You Put Into and Do to Your Body

Maintaining healthy habits when it comes to our bodies can be incredibly difficult. We are a society that likes instant gratification, which means we don’t always make good decisions on what we consume. We do things like smoke cigarettes, drink too much alcohol, and eat unhealthy foods. Sometimes, we ingest even worse things.

In addition to the bad things we like to consume, we can easily fall into a rut when it comes to our physical health. We stop taking care of our bodies by not exercising, poor posture, not watching our weight, or not taking the necessary preventative measures to avoid long term health problems.

Here’s the thing; your body is your vessel. The better you take care of it, the more farther it can take you. If you remember to get the oil in your car changed every 3,000 miles, then there are no excuses why you can’t invest in some healthy habits to maintain your physical health.

Habits shape who we’ve been, who we are now, and who we become tomorrow. Make sure you’re developing and nurturing the ones that will help you be the best version of you. Be protective of your influences, how you spend your time, and how you take care of your body.

How are your habits impacting your life?

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