Wednesday, October 7, 2015

How to Say No

Living Life on Purpose means I have to define my priorities (my Core Values and my Mission Statement come into play here). I have to decide what is important and what is not - I have to learn what sidetracks me, what distracts me, and eliminate those distractions that can be eliminated...or at least reduce them! I need to know when to say "No" ... I need to learn how to say "No" .. 
Saying "No" to non-priorities sets me free. (Tweet this)
Saying "No" was difficult for me - I'm a people-pleaser by nature, and setting boundaries was always my challenge. I hate to disappoint, I hate to feel like I'm not doing my share... so I always over-committed - I would say Yes even when No was the only sane option! Needless to say, this was a recipe for burn-out...

Saying "No" is an act of Love...

Learning to say "No" when I needed to is an act of Love - Love for myself, and Love for my family(who suffer when I burn-out). Learning to say "No" is also an act of respect - Respect for my time, yes - but also Respect for the person who was asking for my time. How disrespectful to say "Yes" when I can't commit 100%!

Saying "No" frees me to say "Yes"...

Learning to say "No" freed me to say "Yes' when "Yes" was the right choice. Saying "No" to time-wasters, saying "No" to projects that don't bring me closer to my goals, saying "No" to distractions, saying "No" to activities or people that take me away from my purpose... saying "No" to all of this gives me space to breathe, time to think, options for "Yeses".

But HOW do I say No?

Learning to say "No" was hard for me. Oh, it was easy when my son or husband wanted somethign and I was frazzled and snapped, "NO!: in frustration - but saying "No" to others? Saying "No" in a loving manner? That was hard. Remember, I'm a people-pleaser at heart - and saying "No" doesn't give me that reward of having pleased someone. 

I had to practice saying "No". I had to think about it, I had to rehearse it, I had to anticipate when I would be asked to do something I would have to say "No" to. It felt fake - like I was a child playing a game - but after some time it became real. 

Today, take a little time out to see what you should say "No" to in your life - where have you over-committed? where are you shortchanging yourself or your family? where are you being pulled away from your priorities? your goals?

What can you say "No" to in your life?

Join me for tomorrow's challenge: When to Say Yes

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Seeking Beauty

So this is about Living Life on Purpose - so what does seeking beauty have to do with anything?
Appreciating the beauty in our lives is part of living in a moment - part of living on purpose. (Tweet this)
Beauty comes in many forms, in many ways - a perfect flower, a baby's smile, sunlight streaming though brightly colored autumn leaves, an inspiring piece of art... 

Beauty can be big and breathtaking, like the Grand Canyon - or it can be small and intimate, like the first wee delicate flower breaking through the crust of snow in late winter.

Life can be so busy, so hectic - that we forget to stop and look, to breathe deeply in the fresh air, to notice the moments of beauty in our lives. I have to remind myself from time to time to be "on purpose" - to be here and now when I letting myself get distracted. 

One of my favorite activities is to take my toddler grandson to the local gardens - I sit at the fountain, and watch him watch the water. He is fascinated with the water - water in the pool, water flowing from on high, water droplets sparkling in the sunlight. He notices the sounds, he sniffs the scents, he touches the water, he observes the water with 100% commitment. I try to imitate that focus, that commitment - its almost a meditation - I try to use all of my senses to observe, to experience the beauty in that moment. 

Commit now - commit to looking for beauty in your life! 

Take a moment now - just a moment. Look around you, really look. Look at the ordinary things we thins we see but that we really just glance at. Look deeper. 

Do you see interesting features on a building? or a flower peering from a garden? or a beautiful piece of public art? Do you see an interesting house? a tree with blazing scarlet leaves? 

Look deeper. Now look closer. Really look. Listen. Inhale. Observe.

Look at the details on the building, observe the way the glass catches light. See the intricate veins in the leaf, marvel at the delicate shadings of color. Look at the arrangement of petals on the flowers, inhale the scent. For just this moment, this is your purpose - to observe and be present with this moment of beauty. To be ON PURPOSE.
What have you noticed?

Join me for tomorrow's challenge: How to Say No 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Practicing Gratitude

I have not always been a grateful person - I have had seasons in my life when I was discontented, envious, covetous... when nothing satisfied...when it was easier to blame everyone but myself for my own discontent. Gratitude came naturally to me as a child - but as a sulky teen? or as a 20-something struggling single mom? I was not so graceful then in my thoughts and feelings...

Gratitude frees us from discontent, from envy, from all those not-so-nice emotions that hold us back from living life on purpose...

I realized one day while journaling that my feelings of discontent were actually holding me captive, keeping me from appreciating - moment by moment - the life I had, the beauty and grace that was mine if I only cared to notice... 

Practicing gratitude freed me from the slavery of materialism.

I immediately started a :fake it til you make it" practice of daily gratitude. I spent 5 minutes every morning writing out 5 things in my life I was grateful for. Didn't matter who big or small (I was grateful for teabags on day). Every night, I spent 5 minutes writing out 5 things that happened that day that I was grateful for. Sometimes, I really had to stretch - some days this exercise felt really, really stupid and fake - but I persisted. In time, I had a gratitude journal filled with people and places and things and events that I was grateful for. All of this gratitude shifted my attention away from what I did not have to what I did have - and to a deep appreciation for everything and everyone I do have. 
Practicing gratitude made me present in my own life. (Tweet this)
My simple gratitude journal - written in a cheap mini-notebook - taught me something important. IT TAUGHT ME THAT I HAD BEEN COASTING through too many days - not noticing, not being present, not appreciating. After a few months, gratitude became a habit - noticing moments to feel grateful became a natural part of who I am - I started really living on purpose.

Try this - commit to spending just 5 minutes each day writing down what you are grateful for in your life. 

Just until our 31 days are over. Just to see what you learn during this challenge. And then let me know if you found it to be a useful exercise.
How do you practice gratitude?

Join me for tomorrow's challenge: Seeking Beauty

Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Day of Rest

Living Life on Purpose isn't about the mad dash to the goal - it isn't about all work and no play - it isn't about putting yet more demands upon an already busy schedule. 
Living Life on Purpose is about knowing when to say NO. (Tweet this)
Today is Sunday - a day of rest in many cultures. For Christians like myself, it is the day we set aside to STOP our every day labors and REST - we spend time with the Lord - we RE-CREATE ourselves. 

Today is a day of rest...

Take this time to recharge, to relax, to think, to daydream. Maybe dabble in a craft - or spend some time coloring in one of those uber-fashionable grown-up coloring books! Spend some time in nature - whether it is sitting in your yard or walking in the park or hiking. Study after study shows the value of spending time in nature - our eyes and brains are programmed for certain amounts of green and blue inputs, for sunlight to enter our brains and be absorbed by our skin - we need time in nature to thrive. So let Sunday be your day to explore your surroundings, and relax in the outdoors. 

Today is a day of rest...

but rest really isn't sleeping all day or lazing around on the sofa in from of a screen - true rest involves enjoyable activity - a change from the every day. True rest might be puttering in the garden, or visiting a museum, or hiking in a national park. I find I feel closest to God,  when I am walking in nature - whether a 5 mile walk around my suburban town with the baby in a stroller, or hiking small "mountains" with my wee nieces. When I spend time in nature with children - away from any electronic toys - I discover hidden beauty in God's amazing creation...
Today is a day of rest!

Join me for tomorrow's challenge: Practicing Gratitude

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Writing Your Life's Mission Statement

When companies want to define their direction - define their values - they write a mission statement. I find it useful to write mission statements for personal projects, like my blogs...but then I thought,
Why don't I have Mission Statement for my Life? (Tweet this)
After all... its the biggest project of all!

But...what is a Mission Statement anyway?

A Mission Statement is simply a formal declaration of aims, direction, core values, and beliefs.Now that we have our personal Core Values in front of us, a Mission Statement is easier to prepare.

A Mission Statement keeps me focused - a decision either fits or doesn't fit my Mission.

A Mission Statement isn't complicated, it isn't fancy -  its a simple statement - one or two sentences tops. Think of it like those header topics on an old-fashioned outline  - it keeps you on track, like a map when you zoom out and see the line from one and to the other.  A Mission Statement isn't about the details, its not about plans or timelines - its a theme for how we want to live.

I tend to update my Mission Statement every year, just as I modify and update goals - it keeps me focused, it keeps me Living on Purpose.  
What does your Mission Statement Say?

Join me for tomorrow's challenge: A Day of Rest

Friday, October 2, 2015

Determining Your Core Values

Today we start to define our Core Values...narrow down 4 or 5 values that underpin our life...the ideas and beliefs that influence and inform the decisions we make and the actions we take. Our Core Values influence - or should influence - everything we do. When we work against our Core Values, we feel unsettled, unsatisfied, not right, not on purpose.

But how do I figure out what my Core Values are? (Tweet this)
One way we can determine our Core Values is to examine certain aspects of our life so far. Try answering these questions and see where it leads you. A word of warning - you don't want to get to caught up in reliving these moments - just observe them and appreciate what they brought to your life - and then put them back to bed.

What were the happiest moments in my life?

Our happiest moments can tell us a great deal about what we value  - examine these moments for common threads:What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? Was there a specific need that this moment fulfilled?

What were the proudest moments in my life?

Our proudest moments can also tell us a great deal. Again, examine these moments for common threads: What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? What did I accomplish? How?

What makes me - right now - feel the most peaceful and content with my life?

The moments we feel peace, contentment - the moments we feel like "ah, this is just right" are the moments we are living in our purpose. Even if we don;t know it. Even if what we are doing isn't big and important. What does this for you? Close your eyes and imagine one of these moments - ask yourself: What am I doing? Who am I with? Where am I? How do I feel?

What were the moments in my life when I felt shame?

Those time when we felt shame can help us to identify the "un-priorities" - the people or activities that we want to be sure to avoid in future. Sometimes we can identify self-destructive tendencies by looking at these moments - but remember that this is not the time to get caught up in the past - just observe these moments and let them go again. Look for common threads:What was I doing? Who was I with? Where was I? What about this made me feel so bad?

Now, take all of this and look for the themes, the beliefs, the values that lie underneath.

This isn't a pop quiz, its an exercise that should take some thought - perhaps a bit of pondering. Some values may pop right out - others may be more subtle. This is your life, so take the time to really think about what is important to you.

Not sure? Feeling stumped? Need a nudge? There lists of common values all over the web - a not very comprehensive list would maybe include:

Acceptance, Achievement, Adaptability, Adventure, Balance, Beauty, Boldness, Cheerfulness, Cleverness, Compassion, Curiosity, Dependability, Discipline, Elegance, Empathy, Faith, Family, Fidelity, Freedom, Generosity, Grace, Honesty, Honor, Independence, Intelligence, Intuition, Justice, Leadership, Love, Loyalty, Originality, Optimism, Patriotism, Perfection, Practicality, Professionalism, Prudence, Reliability, Resourcefulness, Security, Selflessness, Service, Simplicity, Strength, Teamwork, Thankfulness, Thoughtfulness, Tolerance, Trustworthiness, Uniqueness, Usefulness, Vision.

So select 4 or 5 words that seem to fit your patterns...

I know - all the words look good, they all look like values I want to have. And choosing 4 or 5 seems I'm not choosing others, right? but not choosing, say, patriotism doesn't mean you aren't patriotic - it just means that it isn't one of your most important values. We want to identify the most important - because those values are the keys to our purpose, to how we tick, And - surprise! - they will change over time. My younger self would have made some different choices...and that's ok - its normal. We grow, we change, life around us changes - so why would we not shift the importance of certain values?

Values help us identify what our priorities should be!

What did you discover?

Join me for tomorrow's challenge: Writing Your Life's Mission Statement!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Welcome to 31 Days of Living Life on Purpose

Life happens to me and to you whether we pay attention to it or not - so why not choose to live our lives on purpose?
(Tweet this)

Welcome to 31 Days of Living Life on Purpose! (scroll down to see links to the daily posts)

But ... what is Living Life on Purpose, you ask? 

Well...what is purpose? Oxford Dictionaries defines purpose as "the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists" ... 

The Online Etymology Dictionary tells me that on purpose, meaning "by design", dates from the early 1400s... and that the roots of purpose mean "intention, aim, goal".  

So...Living Life on Purpose is living life by design - with intention - with aim - with goals.

Easy, right? or maybe not so easy...

I know how easy it is to become sidetracked, to be caught up in life's busyness and then suddenly realize "WOW - another year gone by..." 

That would be me living my life without a defined purpose, without direction - without the results I desire. In fact, that would be a lot of my life - time spent working really, really hard with not an awful lot to show for it, time spent running around in circles...too many moments of wondering where all the time went...too many regrets... 

and then I realized...

the time didn't go anywhere, I just didn't always choose where to spend it, where to aim, I far too often let my time - my life - slip away!

Now - I am certainly not perfect, and I am not promising a miracle cure - not for you and not for me (smile). But I have learned and I have developed skills and created new habits that I want to share with anyone else who sometimes wonders where the days have gone.

My goal for the next 31 days are to explore Living Life with Purpose... Living Life Deliberately... Living Life with Considered Choices... 
Will you join me?

Daily Living Life on Purpose Posts:

Monday, September 14, 2015

Coming October 1 - 31 Days of Living Life on Purpose!

Life happens to me and to you whether we pay attention to it or not - so why not live our lives on purpose?

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday - Father Forgive Them

Good Friday - the day of Our Lord's Crucifixion - but what is Good about such a terrible death? What is Good about such suffering? What is Good about betrayal and torture and death?

"For God so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." - John 3:16

Good Friday - The Legend of the Dogwood

Two thousand years ago, few trees in the Middle East were large enough to use for building. However, one tree was valued for its thick trunk and fine, strong wood. When the Romans came to rule over Jerusalem, their government used this same wood to construct crosses for executing criminals.

One day, an officer of the Roman court came and said, "The King of Jews is to be put to death. Deliver an extra-large cross made from your finest wood." A fresh tree was cut from the forest of the trees with thick trunks and fine, strong wood. An extra-tall cross was quickly made and delivered.

The tree was distressed at being used in such a cruel manner. Sensing this, Jesus - with gentle pity - said to it:

"Because of your sorrow and pity for My sufferings, never again will your kind grow large enough to be used as a gibbet. Henceforth all will be slender, bent and twisted - and the blossoms will be in the form of a cross, two long and two short petals. In the center of the outer edge of each petal there will be nail prints, brown with rust and stained with red, and in the center of the flower will be a crown of thorns, and all who see this will remember."

Three days after the death of Jesus of Nazareth, the chief wood gatherer received alarming news.

"All of our finest trees are withering," the messenger whispered. The wood gatherer hurried to the forest and saw that it was true.

Several years later, the old wood gatherer heard that every spring people visited the forest that had once made his job so easy. Despite his advancing years, he set out to discover why. He saw the remains of forest, now like a wilderness, with only a few trees still standing tall - baked, lifeless and rotting.

But what was this? As he drew closer, his feeble eyes could make out the people walking among thousands of beautiful, flowering bushes. Seeing one of his own workers there, the old man said, "No one could ever make a cross out of this twisted wood. Our finest tree has gone to the dogs!"

And then he noticed the beautiful white flowers, each blossom looking as if it had been burned from the touch of a miniature cross...