Surrendering to God – 2017

What Happened when I chose to Surrender 2017 to God – An Intentional Spiritual Journey and Journal

IDEA

I just woke up after accidentally falling asleep, I must have been asleep for 1.5 hours, it is Sunday, January 15, 2017 and this idea came to me:  documenting the upcoming year in one blog but waiting until then end of the year to publish it.  I don’t know the story yet; this could also be an interesting study in faith.

(I start out pretty detailed and then realized no one will want to read all this!  So it becomes less detailed but still summarizes how I spent the entire year (it may be relevant in the future) There is a Summary/Conclusion at the end, so bear with me, or if you’re like me, skip the details and scroll to the very end!)

WHAT CAUSED THE IDEA

Earlier today, I attended service online via The Crossing STL, and the message was:  we need to be still at times to connect with God (Psalm 46:10): meaning don’t save our prayers for “on the go” multi-tasking moments, because we are not fully present to connect when we have other stuff going on.  I am a restless person, I’m always thinking, but this gave me a different choice:  Be Still.  So, after the 9 am service was over, about 10 am, I became still, cleared my mind, in my room, in my bed and focused on God asking him to guide me with His intended purpose for my life.  One of my prior stated goals for 2017 was to pray every day, and I’ve been doing that. I’ve also acted on whatever thoughts popped into my head in the morning when I wake and I’m not sure this is always the right thing to do (especially recently when I didn’t remember if I asked God for guidance), but it’s my intuition that I’m acting on.  This is Faith, the faith I’m putting in The Holy Spirit/Jesus/God to provide me with “the direction of the day” when I wake.  When I became “still” at 10 am, before I knew it, it was 11:30 am and I just woke up.  Wow, I’m getting good at this napping thing, which I NEVER did before, I could never fall asleep in the middle of the day unless I was sick, my mind would always come up with thoughts and those thoughts would keep me awake, but this was a different experience!  I woke up in a cheerful mood too, which is most common for me, but when I woke up from my night sleep this same day, I had a little bit of anxiety, from acting on a wake up thought from yesterday, Saturday:  sending a “facing fear” kind of message to a friend (who didn’t reply), so I was thinking maybe I shouldn’t have sent that?! But there is no way to take it back once it’s out there. It’s finished. So, for me to wake up without stress after my nap, that’s a positive already!

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SPECIFIC GOALS

My goal for each day in 2017 is: at night, before sleeping, say a pray of gratitude, then clear my head/meditate until I fall asleep and in the morning:  say a prayer asking for daily guidance.  I’m excited about this, hopefully it will be an interesting and exciting positive year!

THE FIRST WEEK – EXPERIENCES ALREADY?!  FEELING DRAINED

I had an incredible weekend with my kids: connecting with them individually, laughing and enjoying time spent with them, I am so grateful!

But, being honest, right after the good times, when I felt like all was going so well, I came to the realization that a few friendships I had were finished. It happened subtly over time, not an event at all; it was just one of those moments when I realized it was time for me to move on; but at the same time it hit me hard because I care about them and I am sad, but seemed like the right thing to do. There are times when it makes sense to put in the effort to keep a friendship going and there are also times when it’s best to just let it go.  And it was the “let it go” time for me.  This was not how I was anticipating the start of my “spiritual intercession journey” at all, because I care about my friends.  But I’m having faith that there is a reason for this, and maybe someday I will know.  (After all this, later in the year I realized the friendships didn’t actually end, it was simply a break! But we never realize these things until time passes and we look back!)  Heading into the weekend, at this moment, I am drained, I feel like doing nothing, but staying in bed or lounging on the couch.  I don’t want to be around anyone. My bubbly, happy, positive, cheerful self is crashing right now.

Donald Trump becomes the 45th President- this was the first inauguration I watched, so I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I thought his speech was touching and look forward to the future with hope.

donald-trump

I’m not sure if this is appropriate to enter here, because it’s really a culmination of recent events but it’s hitting me hard on this date.  There was so much fun, excitement, and new change that I was experiencing that kept me going, positive, looking forward, but tonight, I’ve gone to a depressing place I’ve not been in a long time, and I don’t like it.  It could be grief that I am dealing with from all that happened in 2016.  I was non-stop and didn’t have hardly any quiet time last year to deal with reality, or if I did have the time, I chose to do something active rather than experiencing the grief.

Seeing bright sunshine in the morning made my next day start better.  But I had two full days of crying, I guess getting it out of my system was what I needed, I’ve not been motivated either, only trying to stay focused on what absolutely needs to be done.

SUNDAY JANUARY 22ND 2017 – TRYING TO REFOCUS

I went to church, by myself, and the staff talked about upcoming programs, which they have mentioned in the past, about getting involved and one was starting on Monday, so I signed up online Sunday night:  “Body Life”  the focus is on the church community and relationships and is a basic class for members to take before getting involved.  So this week, again I was disorganized just trying to keep on top of the most important things, but still distracted.

FRIDAY 1/27/17 – TEMPORARY RELIEF, AN “ESCAPE FROM REALITY” AGAIN

Then Friday night, I had a ticket to the Parmalee concert at Ballpark Village, of course, friends who were planning on going, couldn’t. So once again, I attended the concert solo, this is the second concert this year, that I attended solo, the first was the Red Hot Chili Peppers, concerts are easy going solo because I love music, so it doesn’t matter. But on this night, I didn’t follow through with my 30 Days to Healthy Living, I was close to the end of the 30 days, but with everything that was going on, I decided to have a Redbull and Vodka drink to stay awake, but also calm down, because I didn’t get much sleep the night before, and had a lot on my mind.  The night turned out great, a couple of people I ended up standing next to, invited me to join their group after they found out I was there alone, which was nice.  Then one of the waiters remembered me from last year’s winter concerts, kinda funny,…and said he would look out for me, so sweet!  He had been an awesome waiter with my friends and me last year.  Then the band played new songs…one was:

that haven’t been released, which was awesome because I have seen them 3 times in the past year; they are one of my favorites, so it was good to hear new music. I can’t wait for it to be released, good music!  So after the concert, Parmalee announced they would be hanging out at PBR.  Going there crossed my mind, but instead I decided to go home because I didn’t think it would be appropriate hanging out at a bar, by myself!  So I decided to post a picture on Instagram from the night and was leaning up against a column near the exit, just before I was about to leave and heard: “Excuse us please” …it was the security guards escorting the band to a room I was standing near.  I looked up and said “hello” There was a spot for a meet and greet with only 2 people there at the time, so I went there and texted my daughter to see if she wanted a Tshirt or anything while I was there, and ended up with this picture:

parmalee-01-2017

The night turned out good, I went home and talked with my daughter and her friend until midnight when her friend left and then my daughter and I ended up talking until 1 am.  Good time spent together!

SATURDAY 1/28/17 – FAMILY TIME

My phone has been blowing up with unexpected texts and messages from people that I least expected wanting to make plans.  So I made plans with them. The rest of this day is dedicated to my mom and kids, celebrating her Birthday (which was yesterday) doing what she said she wants: family time and home cooked meals.  Plus we are going to see the movie: “A Dog’s Purpose” tonight.  So my spirits are lifted!   For the weekend, I was uplifted.

family-time

“BAD LUCK” STRIKES – SLUGGISH, UNMOTIVATED, QUIET, SAD AND TRYING TO GET OVER THAT FEELING

Then Sunday afternoon I pulled into the garage and once inside after the door closed, the spring snapped and trapped my car there until late Monday afternoon.   I had to reschedule meetings for the day and get my son to school a different way.  And some awesome friends helped me out too:  Angie S., Lisa A. and Beth S. For the next week, I was unmotivated and struggling; I tried to get out of the mood, but would only for a temporary amount of time, when I was working out or listening to music.  My friends planned a weekend trip to see Florida Georgia Line, but I wasn’t up for it this time, very unlike me.  So I stayed in town and decided to take my car to get the tires rotated, which needed to be done. Well several hours later, after visiting the dealership too, I found out from two opinions that I needed some major work done to fix my car: $2,600.  That’s Murphy’s law isn’t it?  Things tend to snowball, good or bad for me!

I ended up going out Saturday night for sushi and a live comedy show with my good friend, Beth.  It was good to laugh hard. I worked out in the morning then spent Superbowl Sunday with another group of friends which was fun, but still not back to my usual self. Monday class at BodyLife, I was not very talkative and felt down, then Kelly B. texted me right after class making last minute plans to get together after work on Tuesday with a third good friend, Christi J, whom I haven’t seen in so long; so I was looking forward to it.

FRIENDS WHO LIFT US UP

My friend Beth helped me out, again, picking me up in the morning after I dropped my car off for a full day of repairs.  Tuesday evening was motivating, Kelly B., Christi J. and I met at Brick Tops Restaurant and just couldn’t stop talking, discussing plans, ideas, ventures, catching up, etc.  It definitely elevated my mood.

friends-at-bricktops

 

PURPOSE/FAITH

Part of the “BodyLife” class is discovering our personal gifts.  I took two tests to determine what my natural gifts might be and the top 3 from the first test were:

  1. Faith
  2. Mercy
  3. Leadership

The second test I did indicated:

  1. Faith
  2. Hospitality
  3. Tied: Mercy, Creative Communications, Wisdom

I guess my next step is figuring out how to serve based on those gifts.

MID FEBRUARY- STILL IN A RUTT

Despite daily prayer twice a day, I’m still struggling with this mood I’m in and I don’t like it, but can’t seem shake it.  A lot happened last year and I’m wondering if this indoor winter season gray skies is affecting me?  Or is it grief from my dad passing away this past Father’s Day?  Whatever it is, I want it to end ASAP!  Church keeps reminding me God’s timing is perfect but doesn’t align with our timing. Patience, yes that is my problem, I am not patient; I do things quickly.  I’ve been working on patience and maybe that is what I’m being taught?

This weekend is supposed to be unseasonably warm, close to 70 degrees and my friends and I are hitting the Soulard Mardis Gras – Taste of Soulard.  I’m excited about that most definitely!  Can’t wait!

taste-of-soulard-event

Several friends dropped out, or couldn’t make it due to good reasons, and the one remaining seems to be wanting to cut the event short, which is completely unlike her normally.  Kevin Hart nailed it in this YouTube clip…I’m feelin it!!  I understand this is part of life and it’s okay.  I can do whatever I want with, or without people,  but it is always more fun with people, than alone!  I decided to add some positivity to my chalkboard:

laissez-les-bon-temps-rouler

So Friday, I woke up thinking: “stop being a whiner; focus on helping other people!” and I’m in a good mood too! Turning point?

So late afternoon I get a text from my one friend, most likely canceling for tomorrow.  So question…do I really do this alone?  Uber?  The weather is just sooo nice, I love the festival atmosphere, but who to talk to?  How awkward will this be? I went solo to a St. Pat’s parade years ago and ended up meeting a group of people that I actually spent all summer with and we all went on a lake trip mid summer too, with one of my girl friends it was so much fun that summer.  I just might do it again?  I just know if I stay home, I will be regretting it all day…so I guess I’ll “face fear” again!  I’m going…there….decided.  Well my original friend did cancel, but then to my surprise, two friends who were not sure if they could go, texted, telling me they can go!  Yay!  It all worked out.

MARDI GRAS

We had a great time and ended up going both days…

BACK TO WORK THE NEXT WEEK

I had a productive work week in commercial real estate and started a new Instagram account for my Arbonne business (working on it until 2 am) on Saturday night.

https://www.instagram.com/franchise_4_u/

MY MOTIVATION: TRAVEL

So another passion of mine is traveling.   I’m always ready to go; I absolutely love it and will do it any chance I get, so this year, I made some travel plans for March and April and can’t wait for those trips. The trips give me something to look forward to!

March 2017: Spring Break with mom, visiting relatives in California and sightseeing

April 2017:  Arbonne Conference – Las Vegas (and I bought a ticket to see

The Chainsmokers!!! I’m going solo, but this is one concert I am really looking forward to seeing and it doesn’t matter!)

May 2017:  (Background) Last year, late one afternoon, after pulling into the garage I received a phone call from a Colorado area code.  I work with a real estate team located in Denver occasionally, so I answered the call thinking it might be them.  It happened to be a time share spokesperson calling with a discounted vacation package to Breckenridge, so I figured since I was going through the divorce at the time, I might need this getaway within the next couple years so I bought it. (This year) So this year I have my kids for Memorial Day and we don’t have plans so I thought maybe we should use that trip and bike ride, zipline, go rafting etc., so I booked it, but before I bought the airfare, I happened to think about this again; the weather isn’t going to be ideal temperatures…what was I thinking?!  Then I started looking for places in South Carolina, Florida, but I also have experienced rain in the gulf area of Florida in May. So after a few hours of searching, I ended up booking a trip to Arizona!  The desert!  We should get good sunshine and warm weather there!  So I postponed the Denver trip and we are headed to Arizona in May!

June 2017:  Following our Mardi Gras weekend, and me being on the lookout for events, I found the CMA Fest in Nashville in June….all it took was one text to them and I got an immediate “Book It”….so we are going!  I’m slowing down on the trips after this because I may have another business trip in October which may coincide with Denver or there may be two separate trips, but either way, I am ready! This is going to be my Travel Year!  I forgot to mention that I may also go to Utah in late June with a couple other friends!

LAST CLASS AT CHURCH

I finished the 6 weeks of the “BodyLife”classes at The Crossing on this night and decided I should serve in some manner, but wasn’t sure of what to do.  I thought maybe “Outreach” to start, but most of the dates I had conflicts already, so I spoke with one of the Pastors and told her my top gift was “Faith” asking what would be a good match for that and the answer was, really anything!  She suggested the IT/Video production group, which is a little interesting to me, but also asked more questions about what is important to me, I felt passionate about helping teens. So I then spoke with the Pastor who heads up the Teen Program and it turns out their events are on Wednesday nights 7-9, so that might really work out best with my availability. I need to submit an application and then have interviews before this happens though.  At the end of our class, we were invited to write a prayer message on a rock that would be added to the new church site under construction, if we were ready to become a part of the church. I chose to do so and my message was “I surrendered to Jesus 2017; help me follow thru”

MARCH 2017

One of my favorite winter things to do is attend the Friday night concerts at Ballpark Village, on 3/3/17 I saw Canaan Smith for the first time and really enjoyed the concert.

SATURDAY NIGHT-CHURCH

I went to church with some friends 3/4/17 and we planned to check out the acoustic concert in the cafe afterwards.  There were some unusual things that happened that night. First, briefly into the service I thought I better silence my phone and as soon as I reached for my phone, my friend’s phone went off! Then, numerous times I was”thinking ahead” when the Pastor was talking and he actually said the things I was thinking. It was happening frequently enough that I noticed how weird it was. Then the message was something that was highly relevant to a conversation I had earlier in the week. So much so, that I had to send a message to that person which I usually don’t do in church, but this time I did.  As soon as I sent the message, Pastor Greg mentions the name of the person the conversation was about. It actually brought tears to my eyes.  I let the person know the next day what happened;  too many coincidences at one time, very strange.  The rest of the night was normal fun, nothing strange just a good time out with friends.

The highlight of this month was the trip to California to visit relatives.  This getaway was perfect in every way:  I was able to spend time with family, explore and be so distracted by the beautiful surroundings and mini-adventures; it was such an enjoyable trip.  I felt re-energized coming back home but also felt like “home” is temporary for me.  I really want to move away, but need to wait for the kids to get to college.  I wrote about the places we visited in this blog link.  One day back from traveling and I went to another concert, I had tickets for both kids but Lauren had to work since she missed hours/pay from her trip to the Bahamas and Nick wanted to hang out with a friend instead, so I went on my own.  It was a fun night, great band, Judah and the Lion; and yes music is a happy place for me!

I haven’t yet signed up to serve at church, but I need to do something soon.  I’ve just had a lot of changes that I’m adjusting to and trying to get settled: taxes coming up, new estimated tax payments as a 1099 instead of a W2 filing for 2017.  All new to me, and trying to get my personal finances, will, insurance, etc. in order too.  I’m a little unorganized right now but working towards getting settled.

I received an email from church looking for people to serve at Easter, so I signed up for Good Friday at 7 pm and filled out all the paper work.  I feel much better that I’ve finally taken action on this.

I enjoyed serving on Good Friday  4/15/17, I ended up with the Pre-K kids and they were so darling, fun, and interested in singing and playing.  They had so much fun while their parents attended church.

APRIL 2017

First part of the day, Beth and I went to the Battlegrounds Bootcamp at Kor Fitness and LOVED the experience!  Such great training and strategy on approaching the obstacles; I wish I had more weekends free to do more obstacle training but this was the only one I could fit into the schedule.  Excited thinking about the upcoming mud run even more now!

So once again, Saturday night, I had tentative plans to go to the April 1st Spring Opening Celebration at Cedar Lake Cellars Winery, but as time progressed more people were unable to go (and my friend Kelly suggested an alternative plan: the Cardinals Home Opener on Sunday, which sounded even better), so my choice was go to the winery solo on a Saturday night or volunteer at a fundraiser benefiting kids that my friend was chairing…well that was an easy decision: I volunteered.  Several friends were there volunteering too, so it was a fun, but late night, with the photos (our station) and surprisingly I met someone that evening.  I was not ready to meet anyone and actually tried to avoid it when I heard that someone asked about me; I  handled everything very awkwardly but this person was someone I had seen before, many times, although we never actually introduced ourselves, we were frequently in the same places, so much that my daughter and I had a running joke comment “there is that guy again!”  So I was curious, but nervous.  Then Sunday some friends and I went to the St. Louis Cardinals home opener and had so much fun once again, he was there with friends also and ended up meeting my friends. My friends liked him, so that made it easier.

It’s so nice having good friends to spend time with and the weather was beautiful too.  Springtime!

So, I decided I’d accept the offer to meet and we stayed in touch for awhile.  Being a mom, I was most concerned about my kids and this.  I didn’t want them to find out from anyone other than me, that I was going out with someone, but it was also way too soon for my kids to meet anyone, so I asked a generic question wondering if they would want to know whenever their Dad or I decided to go out with someone following the divorce.  And my daughter responded: “I don’t want to know anything!”  then immediately questioned: “Are you dating someone?”  Needless to say this didn’t go over well at all and I decided to not say anything to my son for now.  Fast forward, and this didn’t work out anyway! So I thought all those coincidences of repeatedly seeing this person were “a sign” that I should give it a try, but not in reality.  I also have always thought people come into our lives for a reason, but maybe it takes awhile to figure out why!   Relationships or getting to know someone is best left personal and not blasted out to the public, in my opinion.   It works out, or it doesn’t, and the world doesn’t need to be involved!

On April 29th I joined a long time mentor in my life, Vicki, who has been such an advocate in helping others and mentoring, ever since I first knew her.  She had a table for the annual fundraiser/auction for Safe Connections and invited me and a guest to join her. I was pretty moved by the stories as well as the 500 attendees who were there supporting the organization in their 10th year.  It made me think more about what I need to do for others and how important it is to give back in some way.

Concerts:

Zed’s Dead and Hippie Sabatoge

MAY 2017

This month was a busy and fun one with music, travel and fitness:  Eric Church Concert, The Battlegrounds Mud Run and the Phoenix Arizona Trip.

JUNE 2017

This month was more concerts and more travel:

Luke Bryan/Brett Eldredge concert

Nashville during the CMA fest

Muse & 30 Seconds to Mars Concert

Tour of UNC visiting Nashville and Banner Elk, NC.

Florida Georgia Line Concert with Nelly 

311 Concert

Visiting the newly opened Tin Roof STL.

JULY 2017

This month again I kept very busy with more concerts and events:  the way timing worked out, I didn’t have my kids for almost 3 weeks, so I had to occupy my time with something fun and it was packed with events!

Sports:

I went to the Cardinals Game with some friends.

Live Music:

Tin Roof STL again

Jake Owen and Dan + Shay Concert on the 4th of July

Sam Hunt concert (had to take down my post due to reported copyright infringement)

One Republic Concert (my first time seeing them, one of the top concerts I saw this             year –  an unexpected surprise)

Third Eye Blind Concert

St. Louis Magazine – A List Party with Broseph Lee performing

Kip Moore Concert

Jason Aldean and Kane Brown concert

Echo & The Bunnymen with the Violent Femmes concert

Nickelback concert with Chris Daughtry

Dierks Bentley Concert,Cole Swindell, John Pardi

Country Line Dancing:

Stovall’s Grove

AUGUST 2017

More music and travel this month:

Incubus, Jimmy Eats World and Judah and the Lion

Taste of St. Louis (Chesterfield)

A trip to Washington DC

Lady Antebellum, Kelsey Ballerini, and Brett Young

The Solar Eclipse

Zac Brown band

SEPTEMBER

Getting back to the subject of Surrendering to God, I’ve been attending church frequently throughout this year, more than ever before, and praying most every day and night since I made that decision in January 2017.  I guess I had expectations that my life would change for the better right away, but it didn’t, I actually had things I didn’t want happening, happen to me, but I also had good things happen at the same time.  At this point in the year, I have to say that I may have learned something from all of this and that is:  Patience!  Patience has been a struggle of mine forever but I’ve learned to be patient, and it definitely reduces stress in my life.  Patience and letting go, not forcing anything, these were two significant experiences that truly changed my outlook on life and how I respond to change, or lack of change!

More music, events and travel this month:

Labor Day weekend at the lake– non stop laughs and relaxation!

Sublime, Offspring, The Urge

Ballpark Village entertaining clients

Brantley Gilbert, Luke Combs, Tyler Farr

This concert was such an unexplained mix of events and Tyler Farr’s song “Damn Good Friends” really summed up the night. Looking back on the night, it was one of those evenings that is best summed up numerous times: if this hadn’t happened, then that wouldn’t have happened.  Hindsight puts things in a different perspective and sometimes it seems that things happen for a reason in our lives.

Wildwood BBQ Bash/Drake White

Brad Paisley

Colorado Trip to see the Aspens

OCTOBER

Cedar Lake Cellars

Football: KC Chiefs Game vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Satchmo’s to see Johnny Henry perform

Montelle Winery in Augusta

NOVEMBER

Drinks and Movie night out with Friends

Birthday Celebration with Friends

I decided to become more involved with Music, since that is what I’m continuously            drawn towards so I took action and signed up as a volunteer with Sofar Sounds.

Lantern Festival

Smithfield at Tin Roof STL

Bebe Rexa and Marc E Bassy (this one was canceled unfortunately because I was really looking forward to it!)

Tom Petty Tribute

Football: Green Bay Packers vs Baltimore Ravens

Nashville

DECEMBER

Lee Brice, Easton Corbin, Midland Concert (John SpicerBand substituted since they were snowed in Atlanta) – a memorable evening with another hindsight: if this hadn’t happened, then that wouldn’t have happened.

Old Dominion, Lo Cash, Walker Hayes

X Ambassadors

New Years Eve – ended with a quiet night at home, publishing this blog post, but the first event of the day was attending the Crossing, a great start of the day, click here for the recorded service and message it’s much better to listen directly but in summary, Tim Bounds covered one of the 10 Commandments:  regarding keeping holy “the Sabbath” the importance of giving ourselves a day of : REST (literally) , DELIGHT (enjoy what makes us happy:  friends, family, nature, etc) , WORSHIP (give thanks to God)  AND PEACE (note: Peace is not the absence of something, but the presence of Someone (God)- it’s a time to connect with God…it’s important that we all set aside time to personally connect with God

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

I arrived at a point in my life when I questioned everything about my life: my purpose, my decisions, my career, my relationships- absolutely EVERYTHING!  Looking back on my life there were definitely plenty of great moments, but I still felt like I unintentionally made bad decisions along the way and wanted that to stop, or at least lessen them, become a better person, and the only way to do that, in my thoughts, was to surrender it all to God, build a better relationship with God through prayer, because I obviously wasn’t doing exceptional at this life thing that was happening! 

This year I learned the following, from my personal experiences:

  1. Pray frequently:  in good times (be thankful and grateful) and bad times (ask for wisdom and guidance)- prayers are answered, but timing is not always understood until hindsight happens
  2. Accept the low points and bad experiences in life; those points are teaching moments and make us better people…so it’s really a positive thing in hindsight.
  3. Get comfortable being alone: take the time to improve: physically, spiritually, reflect on relationships and interactions with others, improve our personal skills during this time.
  4. Follow what we are drawn towards, even if it doesn’t make sense, don’t rush for the answers, stay in the moment experiencing everything, it will become clear with time and there will be a sense of calmness and peace when we eventually see why were drawn to something; it’s only in retrospect that we understand…just let it be, let it happen, naturally, unforced.
  5. Change equals growth; don’t fear it, there is something better on the other side!  Embrace change!
  6. Let go of what causes pain; experiencing pain is telling us something is not right, let it go: don’t hold on to anger about anything (it holds us back and keeps us in a bad place), pain teaches us lessons…”Pain is Gain” if we let go, we grow, improve and life becomes better!  
  7. Patience:  we have to be patient in order to follow through, because it all takes time and if we don’t develop patience, we will feel frustrated.  Patience is developed, it doesn’t come naturally; it’s something to acquire over time by letting go (the opposite of trying to control).
  8. People and relationships: come and go in our lives. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense “why” but I believe that people enter our lives to teach us something that we need, we will learn something from everyone, if we allow ourselves to be open minded.  People in our lives are extremely important: they can lift us up or bring us down, so learn to add more people that lift us up and eliminate time with those who bring us down or don’t support the same values as we have and be friendly to everyone you meet: kindness spreads kindness, if we want better relationships, it starts with each of us 
  9. Honesty: this is the foundation of any type of relationship; it means more than simply telling the truth: it means speaking up when something is important to us, it means not hiding something relevant, it means delivering the truth in a way that doesn’t hurt others, it means introspection about who we are, what we feel and what we need to improve about us (being authentic)
  10. But the greatest thing I finally understood was to love God above all (have faith, hope and trust) because everything comes from God.  Our individual and personal relationship with Him is the most important; He provides what we need.  There is no better way to explain this then to experience it personally; that’s the only way to grasp this concept, which probably doesn’t make sense unless you have faith, pray and then experience “unexplainable” things in your life, in retrospect.  That’s how it happened for me.   I grew up in a faith based home, so the faith concept was probably easier for me than for anyone who didn’t grow up that way.  If you struggle with this, but are open minded to explore and question everything, and are looking for a resource to grow spiritually: I recommend getting to know The Crossing, which is available online.  

I don’t like to admit this but, I grew up Catholic and when multiple friends first suggested this church to me, I pushed back and thought I’m not into that demonstrative religious service atmosphere (which is what I thought it was before I visited) :  my faith is between God and me,  I grew up conservative and that is very different to me!  However, I am also open minded enough, and know it’s not fair to draw a conclusion without exploring and experiencing it personally.  So that is what I did. I found The Crossing is led by well educated, knowledgeable, welcoming leadership who don’t force anything on anyone, but direct every question back to what is written in the Bible for answers.  This is a non-denomination Christian Church, a place where it’s okay to question whatever doesn’t make sense to us and grow in understanding through questioning.  Everyone is welcome.  I found that much of what I’ve learned through my religious education is supported by the Bible, and by this church, but I’m still learning, questioning and exploring the differences, and I’ve been participating in this church service since December of 2015, and now becoming more interested in exploring the differences and understanding why. This church also appealed to me personally because music is a passion of mine and is very present (as a form of worship) in this church.  I’ve never been to a church with greater musical talent than I’ve seen at The Crossing , truly incredible!  If you love music, you really should experience The Crossing.

 I realize 2017 was only the beginning: a year makes an impact, but there is more to come.  Surrendering all to God helped my perspective in life and someday in the future I will understand why I’m doing what I’m doing and see where it takes me; it’s a never ending commitment to improve, follow life with passion, purpose and ideally help, and be of value to others.  I’m excited and hopeful about the future!  Wishing you the best in 2018! It will be what you make it!

 

 

 

 

CHANGE, RELATIONSHIPS, MUSIC

It’s 4:30 am and this is what comes to mind?  Well, why not write about it?  Most people are probably still sleeping, so when this happens to me, seemingly out of nowhere, it’s time to write about it, because it doesn’t happen all the time.

Tomorrow will be one month before February 14, 2017…. Valentine’s Day, so maybe it’s a good time to do this?  If you’ve seen the acronym CRM in business: Customer Relationship Management, this is somewhat related, but in this, it’s personal and it relates to Change, Relationships and Music.

ABOUT MUSIC…

“Passion for Music” probably means a lot of different things to different people, but for me, it means music is a constant in my life, and will always be, I’m rarely in silence from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep, music surrounds me and I couldn’t imagine it any other way!  That is why I refer to it as a passion of mine.  Music has an incredible power and can literally change an emotional state for us, that fact still completely amazes me!  If I think about that fact, music truly is more powerful than drugs or medication; it really is!

Here are a few links and examples of this:  Music is a source and a gift for health and wellness and used for the following, to name a few:

Military, Autism, Alzheimer’s, Correctional Facilities, Trauma, Medicine, Pain Management, Young Children, Depression, Substance Abuse

http://www.alzheimers.net/2014-07-21/why-music-boosts-brain-activity-in-dementia-patients/

http://www.musictherapy.org/research/factsheets/

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-answers/music-and-alzheimers/faq-20058173

Getting back to music and relationships, for me, and others I know, a certain song will bring back memories of a person, an experience or a specific time in life, just like a photograph does! Music captures the emotional state of being in that moment of our memory.  What we remember in life is our experiences and how the experience made us feel and if music is a part of someone’s life, it gets tied to music, good or bad! The same holds true for people in our memories, what we remember in life may not be the exact words spoken, but how the person made us feel.

It’s interesting how we may relate a certain genre of music, a musician, or a song to a person in our life, just because of an experience.  I am one who connects first with the melody, the rhythm, the sound, including the voice.  The music can be amazing alone, but when the right voice is paired, it becomes incredible and irreplaceable. Eventually I learn the words, but I have friends who immediately seem to pick up all the lyrics.  I connect with the message in the lyrics, but I’m usually one of the last to memorize the exact words for some reason.

ABOUT CHANGE….

Change can be uncomfortable, even when change is chosen, it happens when a person finally faces the fear of the unknown and decides facing the fear is better than remaining the same.  Change makes us grow, improve and learn, but it’s not easy.   In my experience, music helps us get through change.  Sometimes change happens without our choice, but it always seems to result in growth, self- improvement and learning if we stay positive with our outlook and thoughts during the change.

Change can be good, sometimes it forces us to do things we never thought we would be able to do. We may not know our strength, until the only choice we have is to be strong.  Change is about improvement and improvement is good!

Change is also about becoming a better person, it doesn’t matter how long we’ve been a certain way, if we don’t like that way, we can change it at any time, but it’s a decision that only we can make, no one can make that decision for us.  Because change is uncomfortable, we need to want that change more than anything because the effort to change will require commitment and isn’t easy, it’s work.  But I believe we can be anything we desire, it just takes effort; nothing lasting comes without continual effort and commitment. If we want it, work for it!

ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS…

We learn the most about relationships from experiences and observations.  And those who’ve had a lot of life experiences know more, but the key to success is applying what we know, experienced and learned to improve our relationships.

This relates to the “Never Settle” topic: if we learn something once from a bad experience, then don’t settle into that familiar place again, because if we are not making a change, we are likely going to get the same results and that is how people get stuck and stay stuck, don’t do it.

Experience also relates to recognizing good experiences and applying them.  We often become so immersed and self-absorbed in what’s happening in our lives, that we forget to be grateful for what we have and forget to show appreciation for those important to us.  That forgetfulness lowers our quality of life in relationships.  Relationships need attention and when it’s not given, the relationship suffers.  It’s important to recognize what we value in life, what means the most to us. We don’t have unlimited time, so the time we do have should be spent on what is most important: our priorities.

Relationships will always experience change and they only last if there is a reciprocal involvement, they don’t if it’s one-sided.  Let that person, who is important in your life know they are important.  Relationships are constant work, but rewarding.  If we get lazy with relationships, we can lose them.  If those who are important to us are not treated as a priority, we lose them.

CRM- Change, Relationships, Music

Pulling all these topics together, there are some good examples of people doing things right, and I personally respect them for this.  My blog since inception has been tied into Instagram, which is an interesting media, and powerful, so be careful how it’s used because it can make a difference: both good and bad as I’ve experienced.  As you know, I love music and follow some of my favorite musicians on Instagram.  I look forward to posts about upcoming events or concert details because sometimes that is the way I find out about new festivals, events, etc.  I also like seeing the journey musicians go through:  the creation, behind the scenes joking, and rising in success; Instagram is a great tool for connecting with fans.  There is also something that some do well and that is appearing authentic and inspiring.  While we all know that no one is perfect (everyone is human and imperfect), and everything is not as it appears on social media, there are a few who do something a little different and step out of the norm.  I can’t even imagine what it is like for musicians and their partners to have a long-term relationship, talk about a massive amount of work to keep it real and keep it a priority especially with all the outside influences!  But there are a few who seem to do this well, they appear genuine, know their priorities, live by them and are very inspiring people because of this.  They have a special gift – musically talented and staying true to, and publicly acknowledging, their values, especially in a culture that often glamorizes the opposite.  These are a few that stand out to me:

@lukebryan, @sammyhagar, @thomasrhettakins, @michaelraymusic, @flagaline

There is also one more on this list, who isn’t really in the music arena…yet (haha)…but if you follow him and know his very early on comedy scripts, you will know the tremendous amount of change that he has been through, a master of change and very inspiring:  @kevinhart4real

There is no time like the present to Make It Count –  create an incredible relationship this year and get out, enjoy the music!

 

 

 

 

2017?

So what will 2017 be like?

Reflecting on what happened in 2016 helps me focus on how to make 2017 better, below is an outline of my end of year thoughts and action plans (the first chart is  blank, if anyone wants to use it for themselves, and the second one is filled out- hopefully the filled-out version will motivate me to follow through, after publicly stating this):

2016 Reflection My Thoughts 2017 Plans 2017 Specific Actions
For what am I grateful? Make plans to do something that enhances, improves, what I am grateful for:  Make It Count, Make a Difference.

 

What did I enjoy most? Spend more time and energy on what I am passionate about and identify ways my actions will benefit others:  create purpose!

 

What did I do to benefit, give back to others who are important to me? This is success.  Continue with more and if something is lacking make specific plans to elevate this action.

 

What improvements did I make from the prior year? This is success.  Continue with more, what else can be done? Change is constant, keep it up, find ways to improve more, or lose it; complacency will lose it.

 

What didn’t work out? This is failure, but temporary, because I will learn from it and make changes.

 

What were the challenges? List them along with what I learned from it.

 

What did I want to do, but didn’t get around to doing it? Schedule it in 2017.

complacency

2016 Reflection My Thoughts 2017 Plans 2017 Specific Actions
For what am I grateful?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Faith

·        Family

·        Friends

·        Health/Fitness

·        Music

·        Nature/Outdoors

·        Travel Opportunities

·        Business Opportunities

·        People who have supported/mentored me throughout my life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make plans to do something that enhances, improves, what I am grateful for:  Make It Count, Make a Difference.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Get involved in a helpful way with church to contribute/give back with my time

·        Plan and Spend quality time with Family and Friends

·        Research and Improve Nutrition through better meal planning

·        Schedule 3-4 days of workouts per week and stick to it

·        Support Musical Artists by attending concerts, buying music, blogging

·        Nature/Outdoors/Travel:  plan trips and share experiences and resources with others

·        Make weekly goals and follow through to grow business

·        Find an organization that helps people act and improve themselves; I’m not much a believer that “just dumping gifts in someone’s lap is the best way to make a long-term difference (if they are not trying to improve themselves on their own), but I want to help people who are trying

 

What did I enjoy most? ·        Time spent with those I care about

·        Music

·        Traveling

·        Improving via Design or Personal Fitness

Spend more time and energy on what I am passionate about and identify ways my actions will benefit others:  create purpose! My Lifetime Goal/Dream:   I have a grandiose dream of creating or being involved with a luxury get away place that provides a place for people to get healthy, relax, work on fitness and enjoy music – all without leaving the getaway place.  A place for others to recharge, reflect, improve.

 

What did I do to benefit, give back to others who are important to me? ·        Time spent with those I care about, I tried to be present whenever someone needed it.

·        2016 I probably spent more time than ever before reflecting, so next year I want to increase the time spent in action.

 

This is success.  Continue with more and if something is lacking make specific plans to elevate this action. ·        Increase time spent on actively giving back to others – this area needs improvement for me.
What improvements did I make from the prior year? ·        Stayed physically active throughout the year

·        Attended more often at Church

·        Acted to improve my situation, rather than complaining about it

·        Acted on Real Estate renovations

 

This is success.  Continue with more, what else can be done? Change is constant, keep it up, find ways to improve more, or lose it; complacency will lose it. ·        Continue plans and focus on health and fitness

·        Get more involved with church

·        Find other opportunities to renovate real estate

·        Continue focus on self-improvement/purpose

 

What didn’t work out?

 

·        Failed relationship

·        Relationship damage with others

This is failure, but temporary, because I will learn from it and make changes.  

·        Try to keep interactions peaceful

·        Make efforts to repair relationship damage with others

 

 

What were the challenges?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        Stress

·        Turmoil

·        Negativity

·        Disrespect

·        De-valued self-worth

·        Flight

·        Escape

·        Sadness

·        Emptiness

·        Simply existing, not living

·        Fallout

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

List them along with what I learned from it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

·        I learned to Let Go.

·        I learned not to let significant time pass without positive action and improvement in any given situation.

·        Improved Independence

·        Let go of stress related to unimportant/insignificant events

·        Remove myself from turmoil and surround myself with positive people

·        Exercise relieves stress

·        All people deserve respectful interactions, even if there is something bad happening

·        Self-worth: continually work on self-improvement and don’t be affected by others who de-value that self-worth- ignore it

·        Fleeing from a problem doesn’t solve it; it must be tackled head on

·        Get away from environments that can’t be improved and cause sadness

·        Improving my relationship with God and following what I am passionate about removes emptiness

·        Pursing a passion with a purpose leads to happiness and is living, not simply existing

·        Change will create fallout; that is a tradeoff unfortunately and will require more effort to improve but if not; let it go; nothing forced works in the long term.

·        Finding forgiveness for “wrongs” because they fueled improvement, so the “wrongs” turned into a positive outcome.

 

What did I want to do, but didn’t get around to doing it? ·        I wasn’t as affective as I wanted to be in 2016, because I didn’t spend enough time on it. Schedule it in 2017.

It is important to me to live life the way it matters most: TODAY.  When I look back on 2016, I can’t really say that it was a good year, or a bad year, because there were both experiences, almost to the extreme at each end, and somewhat surreal in retrospect.  So many disruptive changes occurred all at once (my dad’s death, a new business venture, loss of employee benefits at my current job but at the same time, my best year ever there, a divorce, giving up a condo on a lake, moving into a new home, renovations, challenges with my kids brought on by the divorce; it’s just been busy); so, I’m hoping that 2017 will be a little bit calmer.  I welcome change, just not as much disruption all at one time, it was an emotional roller coaster year for me and a bit of a blur with so much happening.

I plan to make 2017 a better, calmer year.

I also will pray for guidance, every day, in 2017, it can’t hurt, that’s for sure!

I hope to have the opportunity in 2017 to work with other motivated individuals, to pursue further success in life, because that aligns best with my passion: continued improvement.  This is what I do in my current real estate career (help successful people become more financially successful) and my new business venture (which provides motivated people an avenue to become financially successful).

If you read the original reason, “ABOUT”, from the menu in my blog, which I just started three months ago, this is it:  I am looking to connect with like-minded people and collaborate. 

I realize the internet is filled with a lot of fake people and get rich quick schemes…and this is NOT me, nor what I’m pursing.  I believe I put enough information out there about me, my thoughts, in my blogs, so you can get to know me and hopefully realize I’m a “normal” person, if there is such a thing.  If you search social media (Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram):  annm2705, you will find all my information.  I’m simply at a point in life, ready for the next step in a new venture and excited about the possibilities and opportunities in life.

ACTIONS NOT WORDS

SUNDAY REFLECTIONS

I don’t attend church every Sunday, but when I do, it’s truly because I want to be there and connect with God in a different way, than personally through prayer; it is meaningful to me.  It really seems the discussions are relevant to things happening in my life when I am there too.  So in my thoughts, this is God’s message getting through to me.

THE DRIVE TO CHURCH – DECISIONS

This past Sunday, on the way to church, I was talking to my son about “why I go to church and what happens” and about how sometimes when I’m making decisions I will just “have a feeling inside” about which direction I should go, and truly, it’s not always the easy decision “I want”, but I just have a feeling inside that “I should”do it. Is this God letting me know what I should do, because it’s not always what I want to do? During the service, my son and I looked at each other, because it was really ironic, the things we talked about in the car on the way there were the things that Pastor Greg was talking about, almost as if he heard our conversation.  My son noticed it too.

kenny-desheilds
From The Crossing- Facebook Page

THE MUSIC – CONNECTING PERSONALLY

Another interesting thing happened, this church has phenomenal music by the way, so that probably explains more of why I connect so well.  Anyway, one musician told us a story of how he and a friend had a falling out after a very long friendship, and that he felt like God was telling him to apologize to his friend, which he did apologize, but didn’t get the response from his friend he was expecting.  Anyway that night at 2 am this melody came into his head and he wrote this song until about 4 am; it was a beautiful song. Here is the link:  Kenny DeShields “That’s When You Love”   Relating to this event, in my own experience, I also seem to get middle of the night ideas or early morning ideas.  Is this God providing guidance or influence?

THE MESSAGE

The bible topic this day was the two most important things we can do: “Love God and Love Your Neighbor” The Pastor went into detail on what it means to “Love your Neighbor” and the relevant scripture passage was the Good Samaritan Parable  I’ve heard this story many times before, but he made it more relevant, by asking questions:  he asked everyone to come up with reasons why the first two people didn’t help the beaten man and the answers were: “no one was looking, they didn’t want to be inconvenienced, it was someone else’s job or duty, didn’t want to get involved, etc.”   It is here where it relates to all of us, those could all be OUR reasons for not helping someone in the present day.  How many times have we thought those things in our heads when we didn’t help someone? 

1-john-3-18-1920x1080

The Pastor also made another point, if we were truly starving and we were offered a) bread or b) the recipe for bread?   Which would we want at that point in our life?  Of course, the actual bread more immediately addresses the need.  He related this concept of the bread and recipe to people offering empathy or sympathy in WORDS to others, but not taking ACTIONS.  Wow!  I bet we can all relate to that in our lives!  Have you ever had someone tell you what you “wanted” or
“needed” to hear, but not make the personal effort to truly connect with you or take action?  It really feels like empty words, doesn’t it?  Have we done that to others?

SUMMARY: Loving your neighbor may be inconvenient.

MY LIFE EXAMPLES

This also related to me, personally, with the access we have to technology today, we are always connected.  I made the mistake this weekend of multi-tasking, I was distracted by a message that I hadn’t seen.  The message came in about 4 hours earlier so I was curious what it said and clicked on it when I should have been paying attention to the conversation I was having with the person.  This person is 100% more important to me than the message, but I didn’t show it when I quit paying attention to look at the message.  I wasn’t being present in the moment and I offended the other person and felt terrible about it, but I couldn’t take it back!  I did apologize, but the damage was already done at that point.  Sometimes being there for a person may simply mean being fully present and truly listening –  without distractions.  This situation has happened to me, with roles reversed before and it made me feel like I was unimportant.  An action not words example can simply be actively, truly listening to someone, and hearing what they are saying.  And I blew that this weekend!

When someone gives you their full attention, isn’t that awesome? When this happens, it is not only noticed, but remembered, even years later, because not many people truly listen.  So many people have other things going through their minds and may only capture a fraction of what is said.  I seriously remember specific people who listened attentively, because they stand out from all others.

FRIENDS TAKING ACTION

I also had another example of Actions Not Words, that I will always remember:  Our family was away on vacation and had a death in the family while we were away.  A fairly new neighbor heard about this and took immediate action:  Michelle C. contacted people that she met through me and spread the word. She went grocery shopping and Maria R. provided a meal so when we got home we could focus on family and not have to worry about the food basics.  This completely amazed me, the action she took and the other friends who did as well. Logically people do not have much food in their refrigerators when they leave for vacation, so she and others took care of that for us and we didn’t even have to think what we needed!  By the time we arrived home, it was already in our refrigerator!

So in summary, the next time someone is in need the message was to try for Actions not Words in addressing their situation.

THE CHURCH

If you are looking for a Christian Church, they offer online Live service every week, so you can log in where ever you are located as long as you have internet service. Here is their website:  https://www.wcrossing.org/, they are on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter too.

This is an amazing church in my opinion!  My friend, Michelle C. had encouraged me to check out the church years ago, but I was  a member of another church, so I didn’t. Then another friend of mine Krista K. also encouraged me, and I finally did in December 2015.  It was definitely something I should have done a long time ago and since then, I’ve found many of my friends from all different denominations also attend this church.

Have a Make it Count week!  

Mental vs. Physical Strength?

Tough mudder Missouri -2016

Participating in the Tough Mudder was suggested after our Bootcamp Fitness Group completed the Battlegrounds Mud Run this past May.

 

img_2677
May 2015- Battlegrounds Team- Big Mat Attack

 

In a moment of wanting another challenge, I agreed to do this.  I was most skeptical about completing the 10.5 miles, but we had five months to train before the event, so decided to do it.  Over the past five months, the anticipated team dwindled down to two of us, remaining committed to the Tough Mudder:  Beth and me.  But unfortunately the two of us didn’t fit in all the training we intended to do, so we were a little concerned about being able to finish.  There was late talk of canceling, but being so close to the date, the personal challenge and commitment were too strong and over-ruled.  I was thinking: “never give up”- now this is more about having the desire to complete this for many reasons.

TEAM MOTIVATION

Leading up to the date, Beth and I both ended up injuring ourselves. First, Beth injured her shoulder then I ended up with Tennis Elbow overusing it during my recent move and home renovations.  So this was turning into an endurance experiment:  Can the mind push through the physical setbacks and enable us to finish?   In my experience, my mind usually quits before my body does, as soon as it starts getting too tough, I don’t push through, I stop.  This is where “team motivation” comes in and is so important: My friend, Beth, was thinking that she might have to cancel if her shoulder didn’t improve, which I completely understood, because there is a lot of upper body strength required on the obstacles.  Of course I was disappointed when she said that, but understood.  But in this very same conversation, she added, “I’ll still go and run to support you!”  How amazing is that?!   A great example of being a motivating friend!  No one had to convince me to continue!  I was thinking there are people with greater physical challenges than I currently have who do way more amazing things, I need to push through it and just do it! I’ll use my other arm, and won’t let this be a limitation!  So we agreed, we’d give it our best shot and make it fun!

THE DAY OF THE EVENT

We had a 6 am departure with a 3-hour drive ahead and the forecast was sunny and 71 with a low of 46 degrees.  You really learn about a person during a long drive!  I learned that Beth had completed a video as a potential participant for the Survivor show, so I’m thinking heck yeah, I’ve got the right team member here!

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Traveling, I learned that Beth hasn’t kicked that Mountain Dew Habit! haha

The weather was absolutely gorgeous; we were so lucky!

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Pre-race:  Head Down Eyes Up- HDEU

The adrenaline started in the warm up zone with a very energetic DJ who motivated and entertained us doing the running man and had a few dance offs with some of the participants. We were all laughing.    At this event you will meet all kinds of people, the serious, the scared first timers, and those who plan to have the most fun: men dressed as women, spiderman, teenage mutant ninja turtles and on, hilarious.  Our wave time had some really fun people which made the day even better.  This event really emphasizes:  the race is not about time, it’s about teamwork.  And it certainly was!  Each person was challenged to give back in some way along the course, and we did.  We were limited in helping due to our upper body injuries, but we did wall squats and let people climb up us to get to the higher walls. They helped pull us up many mud walls!  The team attitude is amazing and a moving experience.  If you enjoy athletic challenges, this is a must do event!

THE OBSTACLES

Unfortunately, we didn’t have cameras with us for the obstacles because those would be fun to see, they did have photographers stationed so I’m hoping to get some later.  Here is a link to the obstacles. I think pictures and videos do more justice than any description I can give!

The last 4 obstacles occurred in the last 2 miles and were very noteworthy.  I didn’t count, but we had several mud hills with pits of water. Teamwork happened when someone would give your foot a boost at the bottom and another would grab your arm at the top and drag you up the muddy wall, then it was your turn to pull someone else up or give a boost.  We gave boosts, then helped hold the stronger guys’ legs as they pulled people up the wall.  There was once where I nearly slid face first back down into the water while holding someone’s leg, we were lifting a big guy but luckily he got a grip before the two of us plunged into the muddy water head first.  The most challenging were the last two:  The Arctic Enema and the Electric Shock.  By this time, I was cold and weak and the Arctic Enema challenge is to slide into an ice filled container of mud water then over two fences to get out with water up to your chin.  I’ve never felt so frozen! The last obstacle before getting the headband was the Electric Shock, that is intense!  The challenge is to run through water and over straw bales with electrical wires hanging from above. We were told as first timers to cover our heads with our arms, which we did.  I didn’t run, I tried to dodge the wires and crawl low, which might have been the wrong choice as I was popped four times.  The one that hurt the most was on the back of the head, which blew me forward and I screamed!  But I made it through to earn the orange head band and t-shirt!

THE AFTER PARTY

For me, just after getting shocked, mud from head to toe and freezing cold, with my teeth chattering uncontrollably, all I wanted was to get warm!  The event has rinse off areas consisting of hoses with spray nozzles.  I did the best I could to get the mud off, but couldn’t stop shivering so I just quit trying and went to get my clothes, my muscles were cramping so badly.  Finally, warm!  After changing we headed out for that beer, some photos, the DJ music and watching others go through the electric shock zone.  We had a blast and enjoyed the crazy fun people we met throughout the day.

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some photos,

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the DJ music and watching others go through the electric shock zone.  We had a blast and enjoyed the crazy fun people we met throughout the day.

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These were the crazy guys from our wave time, they called themselves “The Attention Whores”

So getting back to the question of physical vs mental, probably mental motivation as it relates to teamwork is the most important factor to finish this course.  The people you meet just make it awesome, the best team environment I’ve been in, helping one another. It was an incredible experience and one that I will remember forever!  Just do it someday, you won’t regret it!

A Digital Journey- set S.A.I.L.

Instagram as an outlet during a period of transition.

The purpose in sharing my personal story is to find others with positive attitudes, who share similar passions, embrace change, have a desire to keep improving and enjoy collaborating.  I envision combining these passions, collaborating and creating something that I don’t believe exists today.  If you relate to this, let’s collaborate.

So here is the beginning of my story:

This is my first blog; it took several months for me to finally put my thoughts into words. I spent the past year reflecting on, and questioning, my purpose in life.  This eventually led to significant changes I never expected: a divorce, a new home, contemplating new expanded business opportunities and trying to stay bonded with my children following the divorce. I certainly have more free time now, and I plan to use it to improve.   So often I see people who are unhappy then give up, and accept that as the way their life will be.  They lose themselves and no longer seek improvement.  Outwardly they appear to be okay; but they really aren’t if you get to know them; they are just stuck for various reasons but don’t know what to do about it.  That was me, but I got to a point where I questioned if I really wasn’t happy, am I really able to contribute my best?  I felt I was simply existing, “doing the right thing,” but suffering personally, I was not being my true self and the best way to describe it was: “just existing.” I focused on my children which was most important to me.  But my children were getting older and not needing me as often and I wanted to “escape;” it was not a balanced life for me, and unfortunately, I made mistakes in how I dealt with it.  My lack of doing anything about my personal situation was negatively affecting others in my life; I wasn’t being proactive, only reactive.  I’m not going to say anything more about any negative aspects of my former situation, I only want to focus on the forward positive aspect of improving.

MY INITIAL REACTION- ESCAPE FROM REALITY

During this time of reflection, I began reaching out to friends with similar interests, and for me, this interest was music and exercise.  So we attended concerts, about once a month; it was my escape. I also made a commitment to regularly exercise; I was usually good at exercising through the summer and fall but as soon as winter came around, it all stopped and then every spring or summer I’d start all over and it would be painful.  So I found an excellent fitness app:  FitStar by Tony Gonzales (which is personal training on your iPhone or iPad, in the privacy of your own home or where ever you want) It was excellent.  My fitness improved and I stayed committed.  Then a friend of mine put together a Bootcamp style fitness group with a personal trainer, so I joined too; and made even more progress.  Exercise truly uplifts my mood and does this for most other people I know, it was a positive outlet for me.

I also started an Instagram account @annm2705.   Honestly, the account was created to make sure my kids didn’t get into trouble with it.  I didn’t post much, or follow people initially, except my kids, but then connected with a few Facebook friends and eventually discovered the Explore part of Instagram. This really captured my interest, I basically and literally “followed” my passions through Instagram accounts. I hadn’t thought much about my passions for a long time, but this awakened me.  It was a time of searching and reflection on my life.

I came to a realization one evening when I photographed a beautiful sunset on the lake with boats in the dock harbor; the scene just gave me a sense of peace.  Then I started thinking about the symbolism of the boats in the docks along with the open water, and found a quote that stated it best, the author is unknown, but the quote is: “A ship is safe at harbor, but that’s not what ships are for.”  I was in a “harbor” in my life, but I wanted to sail and I wanted this for my children too. So after that, “set SAIL” then became acronyms for what I was seeking in life:  Serenity Adventure Intimacy Laughter- this was missing.  My use of the “Intimacy” means a deep connection to what I’m passionate about, but I didn’t want to give people the wrong impression so the word has since evolved to “Innovation” because I also am passionate about Innovation in everything; I love new ventures, ideas, creations, technology, etc. From that point forward I began following my passions through the Instagram accounts I found during this time listed below.  The various topics are separated by the subject line so you can skip over whatever doesn’t interest you.

PASSION: TRAVEL AND NATURE IG ACCOUNTS

The first inspiring account I found was the @kjp account; the quotes were clever and creative, and photos just made me want to be there: in nature, so peaceful with water and the outdoors, so I started following the account and became really intrigued, asking myself:  Who is this person? What is his story?  So I Googled and found a write up on KJP: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/03/fashion/the-designer-kiel-james-patrick-evokes-the-perfect-new-england-summer.html?_r=0 from the New York Times; and this is an innovative inspiring story, definitely worth the read.   I was hooked and intrigued by what he did with social media.  This was awesome; so if you like the East Coast, nature, Kennedy style, Land Rovers, and dogs you should check it out.  Next I followed locations I love to visit, and some I plan to visit in the future, so I would have a constant feed of beautiful nature scenery. I stumbled upon another awesome inspiring account: @jeremyjauncey ; his account is so inspiring in social media and for the travel industry! Currently, his account is exploding and he’s hiring people to be part of his team, I would do that in a heartbeat, but don’t want to travel that often having children! If you haven’t seen this account, please visit, you will be amazed!

PASSION: MUSIC IG ACCOUNTS

I love music so I started following accounts of my favorite (mostly new country, pop and rock genre) musical artists and also new aspiring musicians whose talent and drive are noteworthy to me.  There are too many to list here, so you’ll have to go to my account @annm2705 for all of them.   The people behind the music inspire me first by their talent and secondly because they simply appear to be genuine, real, down to earth people with qualities that I also value, so I follow them. So a few examples are: @chaserice because while I am a fan of his music, I also noticed the logo he often wore, so I searched that because I liked the graphic, but I liked it even more after I learned the meaning and story behind it #HDEU , @kennychesney because he’s been one of my all time favorite artists  since forever it seems, and the amazing talented  @official_flo  , hit after hit, with upbeat energizing music!

PASSION: LOCATION PHOTOGRAPHY IG ACCOUNTS

I found amazing location photographers:  @sennarelax (founder of Switzerland Vacations), @maxrivephotography (who has this unique “fantasy” type quality to his photos that is unlike any others I’ve seen, super talented) and @elena_shumilova (she  has a very creative quality to her photos that is recognizeable from others)

PASSION: SELF IMPROVEMENT IG ACCOUNTS

I found @ThinkGrowProsper and started following the account, very thought provoking, then I signed up for a series about “being stuck” and it hit home for me!  I was influenced by social media content because I am a very curious person and continually seeking improvement in everything I do; I’ve always been that way.  Finding this didn’t lead me down any given path, it just made me reflect on my life, and this personal reflection led me to my personal decisions which are unique for every person out there, depending on their own situation.  From this account I found a few more that intrigued me and followed them:  @hdfmagazine @prsuit I joined a webinar they hosted and was quite impressed, but still not ready to do anything other than explore until about 6 months later, then I decided to get more involved with their offerings and I just started this past week.

PASSION: DESIGN, INNOVATION, CREATIVITY IG ACCOUNTS

I started following creative people, people and businesses I like in the fashion industry, interior design, architecture, innovative or creative products or services, all of which inspire me.  One that really stands out for me is:  @PamandGela, their book: “The Glitter Plan” is very inspiring and real, so worth reading and really speaks to those with an entrepreneurial mindset.  I love their edgy style and how they don’t hold back, just tell it like it is! A little rebellious, for sure, inspiring, and good people!

PASSION:  FITNESS IG ACCOUNTS

I followed accounts of people and places that promote fitness through personal training or through outdoor activities; accounts that really stand out from others because there are a lot out there, and you can really tell when there is dedicated passion involved in what they do, after visiting the accounts.

Here are a few accounts:  @zuzkalight @bretcontreras1 plus this nature account for trails @railstotrails  (this account is a perfect source for rainy days if you don’t want to get muddy because the trails are converted train tracks so mostly paved, I’ve found)

PASSION:  LAUGHING IG ACCOUNTS

I also followed accounts of people who really make me laugh:  @JoeGatto of Impractical Jokers– his personality is more evident on the actual show and is hilarious with his high school buddies: Sal, Mur, and Q; @JimmyFallon (because I like his show) and @KevinHart4real who I have to say is so committed to hustle and success, and hilarious…he is nonstop motivated, pursing his passions- a successful person who keeps giving more, trying more and doing more.  Very inspiring and entertaining!

PASSION:  FAITH IG ACCOUNT

One of the most important paths to finding purpose in life is having faith.  For me, I am Christian, and find that my life is much better when I pray more and that unexpected surprises often happen, taking care of “the stuff” that’s bothering me too.  I also think that our world gets too hung up on which religion is the correct one, and I may offend people in stating this, but it’s not intentional; I believe that whatever you believe in, that leads you to do good and improve, is the right choice and it doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing, you choose what is right for you and what makes you a better person.  No one should judge!  And if you are the judging type…judge yourself, because that’s all you have control over, leave everyone else alone.  So if you like inspirational faith based inspirational quotes, I follow an IG account @trustgodbro and would recommend that one because it’s not “preachy,” just inspirational.

CHANGES 

Social Media continued to be my escape from reality, learning more about the people and places I followed while I reflected on my life at the time.  Eventually it became clear that divorce was the last and final solution.   I want to tell you that I am not an advocate of divorce, I’m actually the opposite of that, and believe that couples having challenges, especially if you have children, should try every possible way to make it work, but in determining the final outcome, the choice is a personal decision, and no one else’s business.  The focus should remain on what is best for the children from that point forward.  Divorce is hard on everyone, whether you initiate or the other person initiates and the children have the hardest time unfortunately.  So they should be the continued focus.

In my situation, after some discussion, we decided that I would move out and we would share custody.  This wasn’t ideal, but I always try to see the positive side or outcome.  In my case, I love renovating, design and this became a project I could throw myself into and create something, so I started another account for my projects:  @s.a.i.l._solutions on Instagram.  I involved my children in the process of making selections and working on projects together, when they wanted to help.  I thoroughly enjoyed this project and put in some long hours staying up until 1 am and getting up at 5 am for about a month.  Things are finally settling down now and I am at peace, but I know it’s only the physical transition that’s occurred and there is much more to this journey ahead.

THE FUTURE

With the creation of this blog, I hope to connect with other like-minded positive people who want the best for their children, pursue growth, self-improvement, and seek to connect with their passion. I will always strive for new ways to be a better parent, a friend, to collaborate and to make life a combination of serenity, adventure, innovation and gratitude.

Hopefully we will have the opportunity to connect, collaborate, inspire, grow, give back, and create something awesome that others will enjoy too!

Serenity Adventure Innovation Laughter

faith | family | friends | travel | nature | music | fitness |design | gratitude