5 Things to Be Thankful For When Times Get Tough

Do you ever find yourself feeling overwhelmed with all the negative in your life?   Life is filled with obstacles none of us want to face, but are unavoidable and beyond our control. Through my own struggles I’ve learned so much about myself and how I’ve been able to make it through really tough times.

Before, I’d find myself dwelling in the sorrow and pain; it seemed much easier to stay there than to pull myself out of it. The easy option is not always the best. As painful as it is, we have to keep moving forward and grow from our life experiences. They mold us into who we are today, and they impact how we influence others. I’ve learned throughout the years, to let go and trust that life happens on purpose. The explanation for things we all feel is so vital to understanding why something happened may not surface in an obvious light, but this doesn’t mean it’s not there.

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

Photo courtesy of flickr.com

As we look at the world today, we realize we’re in a scary time with a lot of things happening that leave us feeling lost, confused, disheartened, and even angry. Through all of that, we can’t lose sight of the little big things happening around us everyday. One of the best things I’ve learned to do in my own life is find the time to give thanks for the little things in my life that often get overlooked. We tend to get so caught up in what’s going wrong we forget to notice what’s going right.

Instead of focusing on what brings you down, focus on what is impacting you in a positive way. Each morning I devote some time to be thankful for something in each of the following areas of my life:


Whether it’s the basic five senses, or the ability to stand or walk, there is so much to be thankful for. I often give thanks for what I used to have, but no longer do. I look at all aspects of my health; I give thanks for my mental and spiritual health as well.


At times I can get so irritated with my husband, I think that just comes with the territory of marriage. By giving gratitude to our relationship everyday I’m able to keep the reasons why we are together in the forefront of my mind. Despite our imperfections, we are perfect for each other.


My gratitude is often my children. Their small moments are so huge to me, and they are a constant reminder of the wonder of life. I also give thanks for the love and support of the rest of my family, even those who are no longer with me. I’ve found so many blessings in each of them.


This is an area of significant stress for most of us, but I’ve learned to find some really incredible things to be thankful for. I’ve learned so much about myself through work, and those lessons have been invaluable for my personal growth.


Another area of high stress. We tend to always want more, but I’ve found how blessed I am to be able to provide the very basics to my family: food, water, shelter, clothing. In the grand scheme of things, these are the most important financial investments we can make.

Growing up, my mom used to talk about these little big things, but she called them “Tiny Wonders.” She gave me some of the best advice that I still carry with me to this day. She taught me to stop, take a moment, and appreciate the world around me. There is so much to be thankful for. Those “Tiny Wonders” add up to incredible strength to pull us through difficult times.

What are you thankful for in your life?

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3 Ways to Move Past Our Differences

FSU vs Notre Dame 2014This past weekend we were a “tailgate divided.” We went to one of the biggest college football games of the season; Florida State vs. Notre Dame. We went with some long time friends, who just so happened to be huge Notre Dame fans. For those of you who don’t know, my husband Greg is a die hard FSU Seminoles fan. As for me….I’m a Noles fan all the way.

As we walked around the festivities together, all day we got looks of confusion from FSU and Notre Dame fans alike.  We sat next to each other in the stands laughing and very much enjoying each other’s company, despite our “difference in opinion.”

It was by far the most intense football game I’ve ever been to. I couldn’t help but giggle to myself as I listened to both Greg and his friend go from a friendly conversation with each other, to yelling at the top of their lungs cheering on their own team or trash talking the other’s.

When it was all over, FSU came out on top, and the Notre Dame fans left heartbroken at a surprising loss. With both men being such passionate football fans, and a game so intense, I wasn’t sure how the car ride out of the stadium would be.

Much to my relief, the tension stayed on the field;  and the two close friends continued to laugh and joke with each other win or loss. As I listened to them, I smiled and appreciated the true friendship they have; seeing why it’s lasted the many years it has.

These two knuckle heads and their friendly football rivalry were a wonderful reminder for me on how important it is to be able to look past our differences in life and appreciate each other despite them.

All too often we get so focused on and wrapped up in our own beliefs of what’s right and wrong that we let our differences with each other drive us apart.

The reality is we’re all different. We all have our own opinions, and sometimes we will disagree. Those disagreements can be healthy and valuable if we handle them appropriately. We can make them work for us instead of against us. Here’s how:

Have Respect

When someone feels disrespected, you can almost guarantee they’ll shut down. We’ve all been there; someone says or does something to disrespect you and you’re hurt and find yourself wanting to remove yourself from that interaction as quickly as possible.

Sure, we will have different views and opinions, and sometimes we’ll be passionate in our opinion. That doesn’t mean we have to lose respect for each other. Maintain your composer, treat others as you would hope to be treated.

Listen with Open Ears

To actually listen is one of the biggest challenges we face when it comes to appreciating our differences. Most of the time, what happens is, one person will voice their point, while the other is only half listening, already preparing their counter attack.

If you’re on the other end of that conversation, and you feel not listened to, your natural response is to follow suit, and even become defensive. If, however, we give each other an opportunity to voice our opinions, and we listen to each other, you break through the tension that can build.

Sometimes when we find the humility in just listening to each other, we realize how much we can learn from one another. We can begin to understand the “why” behind a point of view. Our opinions still may not change much, but at least we gave each other a chance to express them.

Let it Go and Appreciate the Value of Another Perspective

The old adage “agree to disagree” is important advice when it comes to moving past our differences. We need to learn we can’t expect everyone to change and think the way we do. After sharing your opinion and hearing someone else’s, then let it go. Don’t let your desire to change someone gnaw at you. Let. It Go.

Having a diverse group of friends and colleagues is a blessing. We can learn from different perspectives which can help us to grow. No one’s perfect, none of us are right all the time. Keep your heart and mind open to hear another perspective and appreciate the value it may bring to your world. You still may not agree with it, but it may bring a new way of looking at a situation.

One of the most beautiful things about being human is our uniqueness. We all come from different walks of life and our experiences and opinions make us who we are. We can benefit from each other once we learn to look past our differences. If we have respect for one another, listen with open ears and hearts, and learn to let go of what we can’t change in each other and appreciate the value of another perspective, we can all benefit so much from those unique differences.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned from someone with different opinion than you?

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Special Announcement! A Women’s Weekend Retreat You Don’t Want to Miss


Find Yourself By the Sea Women’s Weekend Retreat Jan. 23-24, 2015

I’ve got some incredible news that I just couldn’t wait a moment longer to share! For the past two months I’ve been working with two amazing women; Beverly Lewis and Karen White, to put together a women’s weekend retreat right on the beautiful Emerald Coast of Panama City Beach, Florida.

Wait just a minute guys! Keep reading….this is important for you to know too! If you have any special women in your life and you need a Christmas gift idea, I might have just become your new best friend.

Karen, Beverly, and I came up with this idea because as women, we  know how chaotic life can be.  We believe it’s vital for our well-being to be able to shut off all the noise in our lives sometimes and enjoy the beautiful simplicity of just “Being.” We all need some time to rejuvenate, refocus, and recommit to taking care of ourselves.

The retreat is called Find Yourself By the Sea, and will be held at the Blue Horizon Lodge and Retreat Center on January 23-24th, 2015. While the accommodations are “rustic,” we ensure it’s the perfect venue to help us all reconnect, and even discover our dreams and potential within.

We’ve prepared a wonderful agenda filled with all three of us leading inspirational sessions, as well as plenty of opportunity to realize our spiritual strength, resilience, and the beautiful story we all carry within.

As my readers know, the message of Back to Center is one of Resilience. “Resilience is not just about overcoming something, but thriving because of  it,” my dear friend and mentor Toby Warren once told me as he described how resilient I’ve been in my life.  Those powerful words hit me to my core, and I realized how true they were. I’ve overcome some pretty tough adversity my whole life, but I continue to thrive.

I’ve looked back on my life, and realized there have been six key concepts I’ve applied to my life that have allowed me to embody the word Resilience. My latest and most important project, has been putting those concepts together into content to share with the masses. I’ve titled it Rise to Resilience, and I’m beyond excited to share it with the women who attend the retreat. We all face adversity and we’re all tested at times in our life.  We all overcome incredible things, and I can’t wait to help you thrive because of them.

I can’t say enough about how important this retreat is for women. The agenda is packed full of ways for us all to leave the weekend peace-filled and rejuvenated.

So! What are you waiting for? Early Bird Registration is open! Don’t wait to secure your, or your special lady’s spot! We have limited space and it’s filling fast.  Start 2015 with purpose and clarity….Find Yourself By the Sea.

Visit www.findyourselfbythesea.com for more information!

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3 Ways to Stay Productive With Your Time

Photo courtesy of  pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

This last year has been one of the most productive I’ve had.  Hard to believe that one year ago, I wrote the  first Back to Center blog post.  Since then, I’ve written over 100 posts, published my first book, spoken at over 20 events, and met some amazing and inspiring people along the way.

It’s been a year of significant learning and development as I’ve found my voice, and the vision of Back to Center Wellness has become a reality.

Being productive with our time is a challenge we all face. We set goals, make plans, and come up with brilliant ideas; but often find ourselves disappointed when they don’t materialize. When we start out, we’re filled with motivation and inspiration, but as time goes on, the momentum can slow to a crawl, and maybe even come to a halt. So how do you keep going? How do you keep that fire burning?

As I look back at this last year, I see there were three things that have kept my momentum moving forward and my time well spent.

3 Ways to Stay Productive With Your Time

1. Be Genuine In What You Do

I truly believe this has been one of the biggest reasons I’ve continued with the blog and development of Back to Center. It’s a representation of who I am.  I genuinely believe in it, so I  look forward to the time I get to spend on it.

When you invest your time and energy in something that’s not in line with who you are, it’s almost impossible to stay motivated. This is a big reason people can be so unhappy in their jobs. Life should be filled with things that bring us joy and purpose. Make your actions represent your heart. When you do, you’ll be able to harness powerful motivation that turns into productivity that feels great.

2. Be Intentional

We all have the same 24 hours. It’s so easy to waste time. To stay motivated, we have to be intentional with our time. That means, not waiting for something to happen to you, but going out and making it happen for you. I’ve written this year a couple of times about how I do this. I wake up around 4:00am and sit in my closet, of all places, to get my time in.

In my crazy world with three kids, a husband, and career, it’s the only place where I can really focus. It’s amazing to look back at all the things I’ve accomplished in the one and a half hours of being intentional with my time every day.

We all have distractions and challenges. Which is why it’s vital to  find a part of your day you can protect to be intentional with your goals. When you do, you’ll see the fruits of your labor. Seeing progress, results, and positive change, are what keep us engaged.

3. Be Ready for Failure

Yep, that’s right. I said it. We all have ups and downs. We’re all humans which means we will all make mistakes, stumble and even fall.  Know it can and will happen at some point and be ready for it. Be ready in the sense that you accept not every idea is going to work, not every thing you try will succeed.

When we succeed, it’s easy to use our success to carry us into our next task. It’s when we fail that we lose the momentum. Look at failure differently. Look at it as an opportunity. What did you learn? How can you be better? What went right vs. what went wrong? Dave Ramsey calls it “Failing Forward.” As long as we grow from our mistakes and failures, they were absolutely worth making. Use that lesson learned to keep you moving forward.

As 2014 comes to an end, take a look at how you’re spending your time.  Keep working towards your goals. When you feel you’re losing your motivation, remember to ensure you are being genuine in what you’re doing, being intentional with your time, and you’re ready for failure.

What’ s the biggest thing you’ve accomplished this year? What kept you motivated?

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4 Reasons to Be Ok with Being Told No

If you told me 11 years ago that being told “No” would’ve been one of the best things to happen to me, I would’ve thought you were a crazy person. I mean seriously, who likes to be told “No?” Let’s face it, rejection is one of the hardest things to deal with. We all have to face it, and we all know how hard it can be to move past.

One of the most difficult “No’s” I’ve faced in my life happened when I was 23 years old. I was a young and quite determined Airman in the United States Air Force. I joined the military when I was 20, after completing two years of college. I’d been through the disappointing realization that my major in Broadcasting wasn’t for me.

I quickly latched on to my new found passion of health after taking a Biology class in college. I felt confident in my decision to pursue a career in healthcare. I took a leap of faith, left college after completing my Sophomore year, and joined the Air Force as a medic.

I knew I wanted to eventually become an officer, and I was determined to finish school as quickly as possible to do so. I had it all planned out; I would finish my Bachelor’s in Nursing and move on to ultimately become a Physical Therapist. I had quite the plan, and worked diligently to make it happen.

I volunteered for any and all activities on base and took classes in the evenings after my duty day. I managed to land some impressive awards and my GPA was excellent. I found a nursing commissioning program and applied with the reassurance of my commanders that I was a shoo-in. With my hard work, I’d far exceeded all the requirements.

I turned in my package, and waited for several weeks. I was so excited as I planned the next stage in my life. The days seemed to drag, but eventually I got the notification I’d worked so hard to receive. I sat down at my computer, opened the email, only to find the word: DENIED jumping off the screen at me.

I was absolutely devastated. What went wrong? I’d done everything right! I was shocked, hurt, embarrassed, and defeated. I had to know what happened, so I called the phone number on the email. The voice on the other end of the line informed me my package had been disqualified. The Base Education Office didn’t sign my cover letter, so it was denied without ever being opened.

As difficult as it was then, now I realize it was the best thing that could’ve happened.  Sometimes “No” has so much more to offer us than “Yes.”

4 Reasons to Be Ok with No

1. It Brings Us Humility

I was so confident as I submitted my package, I think if there were a body of water nearby I may have tried to walk on it. I just knew it was going to happen just the way I intended. While confidence is an important attribute to have, over confidence can be your Achilles Heel.

Sometimes we need a wake up call and reminder of the value of being humble. When we embrace humility, it helps us to appreciate the value of our achievements as well as our failures.

2. It Helps Us Regain Perspective

Being tested by rejection can help you regain perspective on why you’re doing something in the first place. Sometimes those moments of reflection affirm how much we really do want the goals we’re pursuing. That affirmation can help us to refocus and come back even stronger the next time.

In my situation, I had to rethink what I really wanted. I knew I didn’t want to be a nurse ultimately, it was a means to an end for me. Through my rejection, I realized it wasn’t right for me. Sometimes the perspective we need is an eye opener to help us realize we’re on the wrong path.

3. It Brings Awareness of Other Opportunities

Graduation from Phase I of PA school

Graduation from Phase I of PA school

“When one door closes, another one opens.” We’ve all heard this, it’s very true, but hard to see in the moment. Opportunities are plentiful… if we’re aware they’re there.

When I regained perspective on what I really wanted, I saw the program I applied for wasn’t for me. In my application process, I met a Physician Assistant student, and learned about a whole new career I’d never considered before.

When I was denied, I looked more at what PAs do, and felt much more connected with that career. I eventually applied and was accepted school. I came out of that program with not only my Bachelor’s, but my Master’s degree as well. I’ve been practicing as a PA now for almost 8 years and love every minute of it!

The most important thing in my life also happened because of my denial; I married my best friend. I met Greg right after I submitted my package, and if I would have been accepted, I would have left four months after meeting him. Who knows what would have happened then?

4. It Helps Us Grow

I’ve always believed our failures, mistakes, and disappointments in life are an opportunity. They have so much value in the lessons they teach us. Those lessons help us to grow and become even better versions of ourselves.

Look for the lesson when things don’t work out like you planned. Find the opportunity to grow from the experience.

None of us like being told No, but when it happens to you, remember: The No’s in our lives are often more valuable than the Yes’s. They teach us humility, help us regain perspective, open our eyes to opportunity, and teach us important life lessons that help us grow.

What has been the biggest thing you’ve gained from being told No?

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Why We T.R.Y.

Dylan learning to ride his bike

We’ve started teaching my two-year-old son Dylan how to ride a bike. He seems to light up each and every time we hit the driveway and he gets to don his helmet. His little walk turns to a strut as he walks up to his bike with confidence as if he’s about to conquer the world. As we begin to work on the complicated and daunting process of pedaling, I watch him struggle.

He doesn’t quite understand yet how the foot is supposed to push the pedal forward and down to create the forward momentum of the bike. He pushes so hard, but often in the wrong direction, resulting in him activating the breaks. Seeing him struggle with this breaks my heart, and I begin to feel the frustration for him.

But then, I look past my own perception of what’s happening, and notice the pure joy and determination on his face. He’s not frustrated at all; just happy to be on the bike.

As I watch my little guy naturally look past his inability and focus on the enjoyment of just being on the bike, I realize again how my children offer me such important lessons.

Do you ever feel like you’re getting nowhere despite your efforts? I know I do. As adults, we tend to focus on the outcome, performing a task over and over again, becoming frustrated if we don’t get every step down perfectly. In doing so, we can lose the pure joy of doing things. When we find we aren’t accomplishing the task at hand to the standard we’ve set, we get frustrated and sometimes even quit. When we do, we beat ourselves up for the disappointment. Sound like anyone you may know?

What Dylan so graciously reminded me of, is the value in Trying. Sometimes the result is not as important as what we put into it.

Why We T.R.Y.

  • Tap into your Potential

The only way to see what you’re truly capable of is to take a chance. Try something new. It’s such an incredible feeling to uncover a whole new level of potential within yourself.

That potential may be the ability to conquer something you never thought possible. It may be a completely new direction that was unearthed from the experience. Go into each experience with an open mind and heart knowing you have amazing potential in so many different facets of your life.

  • Realize Your Strength

We all have incredible strength that often goes unappreciated. We don’t realize how strong we are until we’re tested. Trying something unfamiliar, or uncomfortable is a great way to learn more about your strength. Sometimes that strength comes in how you deal with disappointment, or things not turning out the way you intended.

Each and every time we Try, we get another opportunity to witness firsthand how strong we really are.

  • Yield a Valuable Experience

Learn to appreciate the experience, no matter what the outcome. To have tried and failed is so much better than doing nothing at all. Even in our failures, we learn and grow. In fact, I believe we can actually grow more from our disappointments than our successes.

Remember the value that you’ll gain from the experience alone.

Life is filled with success and failure, elation and frustration. As you experience all of these things, remember Why We Try. Remember the amazing potential we discover, the incredible strength we all have within, and the value of the experiences we have. Dylan still hasn’t mastered the bike, but he’s having the time of his life Trying! What a great reminder for us all; Have the Time of Your Life in all that you TRY.

What is something you’ve realized in yourself by trying something new?

Your Words are Powerful, Are You Making Yours Count?

“Walk Through the Pain” are four words I speak to my patients almost every single day. When I said them to a man named Jack almost two years ago, I had no idea the impact they would have on his life.

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

Photo courtesy of pixabay.com

I met Jack as a patient. He came to see me about leg pain. As we talked, I began to suspect that he may have a condition called PAD (Peripheral Arterial Disease), a disease that effects 1 in 20 American adults over the age of 50.

PAD is caused by a build up of fatty deposits called plaques in the arteries. These plaques can obstruct the blood with oxygen and nutrients from getting to the tissues. One of the classic symptoms of this is called claudication; derived from the Latin word claudicare, which means to limp. Claudication is a pain or fatigue in the legs that occurs with exercise and resolves with rest.

We tell our patients to walk through that pain to help their bodies compensate for the blockages in their arteries and generate what we call collateral blood flow; circulation through surrounding blood vessels. Over time, this can not only improve the circulation, but also help reduce the symptoms of pain in the legs.

That day, I told Jack this information in hopes he could make some positive lifestyle changes. I had no idea how much those words would impact him. He took that recommendation very seriously. A year later, he came back to the office and told Clark, one of my colleagues, how much he walks, and how much it helped. He told him, “I just picture Jennifer sitting on that stool pointing her finger at me telling me Walk Through the Pain!”

Clark couldn’t wait to share Jack’s success story with me. When he told me how much it impacted him, we noticed his birthday was coming up soon, so I wrote him a birthday card, and on the bottom I wrote those four words again. I put it in the mail with a smile. Six months later, Jack returned and saw Clark again. This time, he told him he had that birthday card sitting on his treadmill, and he looks at it every day.

He went on to tell him, that now he’s taken those four words and used them to impact others. He helps coordinate a prayer list for his church and sends out the list of requests every week. Guess what his email signature is? You got it…..Walk Through the Pain. He tells everyone he meets that is suffering in life, to walk through their pain. He’s been amazed at how those words have helped the people in his life as well.

I couldn’t believe it. One fifteen minute appointment….four words….and look at what an impact it had on his life and those that he loves? Jack’s story is an amazing illustration of how powerful our words are.

Your Words Are Powerful, Make Them Count

Has anyone ever had a significant impact on your life by something they said? I can think of many people in my life whose words have had a huge influence on me. They’ve said things to me I’ll never forget; words that have often been just what I needed to get through a difficult time.

As you interact with others, remember how powerful what we say really is. When you talk with someone, remember:

  • You Never Know What’s Happening Underneath the Surface

We all have so much going on in our lives. There can be a lot happening with someone you speak with. What you say may be more relevant to them than you’ll ever know. Your words may be just what they needed to hear to give them the strength to carry on.

  • Timing is Everything

How many times have you heard a message, whether it be from a speech you listen to, a sermon, or even a conversation with a friend, that hits you in your core? You feel like it couldn’t have come to you at a better time.  You never know, your words may just come at that perfect time for someone in your life.

  • Don’t Underestimate The Power of Connection

One of the greatest things about people is how we’re able to connect with each other. Sometimes you just click with someone. It’s in those moments that our words can have an incredible impact.

One of the most precious gifts we have in life is the ability to impact each other in a positive way. Our words are incredibly powerful, make them count!

What is the most influential thing someone has said to you?

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Must Read Advice On How to Cope When Your Loved Ones Make Bad Decisions

Sometimes God can speak very loudly to us about certain lessons in life. The key is how we choose to listen, and what we do with those lessons.

A Helping HandThis last week has been a parade of disappointments as multiple people in my life have made bad decisions despite the help and advice offered by others. It’s heartbreaking to watch someone you love go down a path you know is the wrong one. There’s a sense of helplessness as you try desperately to reach them, but to no avail.

Unfortunately, this feeling is not unfamiliar to me at all. I’ve watched people I love dearly, my father in particularly, continue to make self-destructive choices. I’ve struggled with the pain of watching him from the very early years of my youth. It used to break my heart into a million pieces each time I spoke to him, knowing the help I was offering was not being received.

I feel it important to share a piece of his story that I don’t often. For the past six years, my father has been homeless. The worst part of his situation is that it’s 100% by choice. He still has a job. He makes enough money to support himself, but  doesn’t. This has been one of our family’s biggest challenges, and continues to test us all.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons from my father, and the pain I’ve experienced from his situation. What’s interesting, is seeing the same lessons resurface in multiple ways, with multiple people throughout my life. This last week in particular. I’ve seen a lot of people hurting, and I’ve shared a lot of that pain. So, today, I want to share some of the insights I’ve used my whole life when it comes to the pain in other people’s decisions.

This particular pain and how it can rear it’s ugly head in both the people we influence as well as those that influence us.

In Those We Influence

We all have influence on others. Sometimes, it’s in a formal role in our careers as a leader or supervisor, within the family as a parent or elder, or even as a friend. Our actions and words impact others. I often speak about the importance of using that influence in the right way, knowing how powerful it is. But sometimes, it falls on deaf ears.  No matter how much you love someone, they may not be ready to hear what you say.

How do you deal with that helplessness? It’s not easy, it still hurts, but I’ve found comfort in the following ways:

1. Live Your Own Advice

We’ve all learned how much louder our actions speak than our words.  The people we influence are watching us much more than they listen to us. By living what we advise, we reach people through both.

2. Love Them Genuinely and Fully

Sometimes this is all we can do. To love another is often the most powerful way to help them. Even when our advice and offers for help aren’t accepted,  never stop loving. Love more. I’ve learned the best way to build our own spiritual strength is to love.

That doesn’t mean you give and give and give until you have nothing left to give. It means you offer your support and advice when you can, and when you can’t, you find other ways to love them.

 In Those That Influence Us

The people that influence us such as our own parents, supervisors, and friends can make bad decisions that may impact us significantly. The pain from their poor decisions is difficult because we hurt from someone else’s mistakes. It often catches us off guard, leaving us feeling betrayed and confused.

How do you move past this?

1. Seek the Lesson

There always is one. Sometimes it’s easy to see, and others it takes a while to surface. If we embrace that it’s there, it helps us to understand. I’ve learned so much from others’ mistakes. While it hurt me; I learned things to avoid, decisions not to make, and how it feels to be on the receiving end of a bad decision.

Become very intentional in taking those lessons learned and applying them to your own life. Learn to make it count.  Condition your mind to think: If I had to go through this, I better take something from it.

2. Focus on Forgiveness

Forgiveness is not easy by any means. It took me many of my adult years to come to a place where I could forgive my father. When I did, I felt a huge weight lifted from my heart.

We must learn to forgive and free that space in our hearts that our anger, sadness, and pain lived and replace it with what brings us value.

We all have trials and tribulations we must face. We will take many different roles in the lives of others as they face their own. As we all come through those difficult times, we must remember the power of love and forgiveness.

Where do you draw your strength from?

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Learn to Appreciate the Journey as Much as Where It Takes You

“Life is a great big canvas, and you should throw all the paint you can on it.”~Danny Kaye

Ever find you’re way too focused on the end result that you forget to appreciate how you got there?

The Story

Our First Picture as a couple in 2003. Taken a week after the 1st Date

Our First Picture as a couple in 2003. Taken a week after the 1st Date

I was 22 years old, and it was the night of my first date with my husband Greg. We met when we both lived in Las Vegas.  I planned the date, thinking it was a great opportunity to impress him with a night of good food and fun. I decided we couldn’t possibly go wrong with P.F. Chang’s for dinner, and so I quickly decided that’s where we would share our first meal.

Anyone who knows me at all, knows that my sense of direction is certainly not one of my attributes. Many, including Mr. Greg Clark, would argue it’s the extreme opposite. The problem is, I seem to elude a strong sense of confidence in where we’re going, even if I really have no idea where we are.

Greg learned this very early in the relationship, the night of our first date actually. I just knew without a doubt the restaurant was on Charleston Blvd.,  so that’s where I directed him to go. We drove up and down that road at least five or six times searching for P.F. Chang’s hoping it would perhaps “magically” appear. After about an hour of driving, we decided to try another location we were both sure of. So, we drove clear across town, only to find the wait for a table on a Friday night was at least an hour.

So, we got back in the car, and drove back towards Charleston, both starving. We didn’t care where we ate at that point, just anywhere that had food. Eventually, we stumbled upon a wonderful little Italian restaurant, and after a two hour drive around Las Vegas, we finally had dinner. Later, we found out the street the place was on was Flamingo…not Charleston. “Oops!” I said with a smile.

It could have been so easy to get frustrated; especially since we were both starving, but we didn’t. I probably should’ve been  embarrassed that I led my future husband on a “wild goose chase” on our first date, but I wasn’t. We could’ve left that evening and never spoke again because it didn’t go as planned…but we all know that didn’t happen.

Why? In that two hours of driving around, we had the best conversation. We learned so much about each other, we laughed and joked, and got so caught up in enjoying each other’s company, that where we were driving to was the last thing on our minds.

Now, almost twelve years later, Greg knows better than to trust me when I say I know where we’re going, and I’m very thankful for having a GPS.

The Lesson:

As silly as that story is, it carries an important message. Sometimes we need a reminder to embrace and appreciate the ride just as much as where we’re going. Don’t get so focused on “getting there” in your world, that you miss some pretty incredible things that happen along the way.

When you find yourself frustrated because things aren’t happening as you thought they should, take a deep breath, and reflect on the journey you’ve traveled to get where you are. What have you learned? How have you grown? What have you gained from the experience?

Remember our lives are filled with moments. Moments that come to define who we are and what happens next. Don’t miss those moments. Cherish them instead.

Today, and everyday, be aware of those moments, and be grateful for them.

 How have you grown from unexpected detours in your life?

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It’s Never too Late to Let Go of the Baggage that Weighs You Down

Why do you suppose we hang on to things in our life that do nothing but bring us down? We’ve even gone so far as to give it a name….we call it “Baggage.” I’d like to share a story that gave me a whole new perspective on the importance of letting go of the unnecessary things in our lives.

It was early 2006, Greg and I were engaged and living in Las Vegas. We had a brand new Harley Davidson motorcycle and decided one fall weekend to take it on a trip to the Grand Canyon. I’d always wanted to go, and what better way to go than on the bike?

Jenn and Greg Grand Canyon 2006Once we arrived, we woke up early and made our way to the park. As soon as we got to the edge, I was speechless as I took in the beauty in front of me.  No picture I’d ever seen could do it justice. It was majestic. As we took it all in, we sat and daydreamed of what the future had in store for us, knowing in just a few short months we’d be married.

After that moment together, we decided to see more of the park. It was when we got up that we met a lady I’ll never forget. As I was walking by her, I could see her looking out into the canyon with a certain kind of determination in her eyes.

She kept rubbing something in her hand.  She saw me and asked, “Excuse me ma’am, can you please help me?”

I looked closer and saw she had tears in her eyes. “Of course!” I said, “What do you need?”

“Can you please take my picture?” I nodded with a smile as I reached for her camera.

“It’s not just any picture,” she continued, “I need you to time it just right, to capture me throwing this into the canyon,” she said as she opened her hand to show me what she’d been holding. I looked at it with disbelief. It was her wedding ring!

All I could say was “Are you sure?

She smiled and said, “This is the one thing I’ve never been more sure about in my life honey! I’ve traveled from clear across the country to do this.” I could see the painful determination in her eyes, and knew her words were genuine.

We got in position, counted to three, and then she threw it. I couldn’t believe the relief that came over her face as soon as she did it. She looked almost gitty as she gave me a huge hug of thanks, and took a deep sigh of relief as she looked out into the canyon.

She took her baggage, and not only got rid of it; but threw it into the Grand Canyon! If that’s not closure, I don’t know what is! I’ve remembered her in the many years since that day due to her courage in being able to let go.

We all have unfortunate things happen that hurt and disappoint us. We tend to hang on to those things and let them bring us down. Imagine the freedom, the relief we could get if we learned to let them go?

Let’s take inventory of some of the most common things we carry and how we can benefit from letting them go:

  • People:

People can be the heaviest burden we bare. We can let other people’s opinions, judgments, words, and actions creep in and fill our hearts with pain. We have to learn to recognize who really belongs in our worlds, and who we need to let go. I call it the  “Forgive and Release.”

It’s not easy to forgive, but when you can, you are truly able to release that person from your heart. If you don’t, they will continue to occupy space that could be filled with someone who truly loves and appreciates you for you. The people in your life should bring you value, and you to them. Look at the space in your heart as precious real estate, reserved only for the perfect tenants.

  • Bad Habits:

Man! These things are hard to let go of! It takes so little to learn them, and so much to get rid of them. But, we have to continue to be aware of what we do and how it affects us and those we care about. Remind yourself of what those habits are doing to your health, your mindset, motivation, and attitude. If it’s negative, what can you replace it with instead?

We’ve all been taught our actions are much louder than our words. The more we can replace our bad habits with things that make us better, the more fulfilling our lives become.

  • Failures, Mistakes, and Short-Comings

If we had a way to measure how much time we celebrate our successes vs. how much time we dwell on our failures, I can guarantee the vast majority of us would be spending way too much time in the later. We give so much more energy to what goes wrong instead of what goes right.

Don’t get me wrong, we need to give it some energy, but we can’t dwell on it. Instead, look at your misfortunes as an opportunity to grow. They all have a lesson, they all give us humility and the tools we need to move forward better than what we were before. Once you find what you needed from it, let it go.

The world is filled with so much that can weigh us down. Find the courage to let go of the baggage that becomes dead weight. Fill your life with people, habits, and experiences that improve, energize, and bring your balance.

Why do you think we carry so much baggage in our lives?  

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