Punch Fear Right in the Face

Photo Credit: Red Bird Hills, redbirdhills.com

My friend Tiffany was a bigger-than-life personality. She wore bright red lipstick that made her white teeth look even whiter. Her smile took over her entire face. She had an amazing laugh. We worked together at the front desk of a restaurant in high school. I loved working with Tiffany. We would laugh away the hours amusing ourselves. We lost touch and reacquainted years later through social media. A few years ago, Tiffany was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and tragically died. Even in her last months, she continued to be her bigger-than-life self. She had a beautiful faith. As a pastor, she preached a sermon titled “Fear is a Liar.” I don’t remember the specifics of the sermon, but I will always remember the title.

Over the last month, I have been battling fear, not my own fear but I’m in proximity. I’m battling fear with my words, with my thoughts and with my prayers on behalf of this person I love so much. I hate seeing fear take root. This battle with fear has brought me back to a time not too long ago where I was battling fear myself. Almost a year ago I was in a season that I never want to repeat. It was a season where stress and fear were coming from every angle. I let fear consume too much of me. It was a dark season. I feared daily, I cried daily, and I didn’t sleep well (some of you know that an unrested Elena is not a good Elena). One night I had been tossing and turning with so much fear and anxiety, it felt like a physical weight on my chest, and it hurt. I went out in our living room, sat on the couch, and cried out to God. I made the decision that I couldn’t live like that anymore. Fear was not only taking up so much room, but it was also forcing good stuff out. It was forcing out my joy.

Has fear ever served you well? There are very few times in my life when fear did serve me, perhaps the time I was 75 feet away from an adult bear at the cabin in my neighbor’s yard. Fear struck and it moved me to action and ultimately safety. I assessed my options in seconds, decided to run to safety. I impressed myself with how quickly I responded. In my forty years, there’s not many other specific situations where fear served my best interests.  

When hasn’t fear served me well? Um, let me do the math…all the other times. It’s so rude. It’s so selfish. It doesn’t serve me. It doesn’t tell the truth. Like Tiffany says, fear is a liar! Fear plants a seed in your mind and heart. It grows fast. Normally, I like to kill all the other things I thought I was trying to grow. Not fear. Fear grows without water, and without sun. It grows especially when it’s planted in a space where no one else knows about it. The more you try to hide fear and push fear away, the more it grows. It grows into other areas of your mind and heart. The worst thing about fear, it starts to demand everything good. It suffocates other good things. It suffocates the truth, the love, the generosity, the common sense, the peace, the joy, the excellence and sometimes it suffocates relationships. It suffocates everything good. It grows quickly because it’s completely protected within the confines of our human brain and heart.

The truth is we all live in a world with a lot of “what-ifs.” Fear would have us completely surrender to those what-if’s and make us feel as small and vulnerable as possible in the process. It takes incredible energy to absorb fear and live with fear.  It sucks. When you allow the seeds of fear to not only get planted, but also to take root in your life, it takes incredible energy to let that fear flourish in your brain and in your heart. It’s hard work. It makes you cry, it hurts your body when you start reaching for unhealthy coping mechanisms. The worst part, sometimes it makes us not very nice people. Living with fear is crap-load of hard work.

That night on the couch, I learned it takes a lot of energy to fight fear. It takes a lot of energy to examine your thoughts and re-route them. It takes a lot of energy to play your fears out and examine the worst-case scenario. It takes a lot of energy to claim the promises God has made to us when sometimes it just feels easier to be a victim. It takes a lot of energy to claim God’s promises alone by myself in the middle of the night. God didn’t give me a spirit of fear but of power, of love and sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). I claimed that repeatedly. It was a lot of freaking work that lasted for months.

Here’s the lesson I learned. Living with fear and fighting fear both take a lot of energy. Elena, don’t be a dumb-dumb. Put up a fight – start swinging. Don’t allow yourself to live in fear! It will try to take everything good. My friend Tiffany so courageously fought with God about her fear of dying and leaving her family. God challenged her and said, “Tiffany, what if I take it all? Will I still be God, will I still be good?” She said “yes, if you take all of it, you’ll still be God, you’ll still be good.” Play out whatever it is that you’re fearing, and you’ll likely find truth, love, peace, joy, generosity, and common sense. You’ll find everything good that fear was suffocating. Unless there’s an actual bear in your living room in the middle of the night, fear isn’t serving you, it’s not serving me and it’s not serving this person I love so much.

In that season, I learned that to start fighting fear took the same amount of energy as living with fear, but the goodness that was uncovered in the process created an additional energy source for me. As I exhaled fear, I inhaled truth. As I exhaled anxiety, I inhaled love. As I exhaled worry, I inhaled peace and joy. It was hard to start fighting, but once I was swinging, momentum started to build.

One of the myriads of things that I feared in the year of 2020 was that I would lose my job. Oh my gosh, guess what, I lost my job. I got laid off. And you know what, I’m so thankful! That’s not lip service. God closes doors but opens windows. When one of the things I fear most happened, I was not just fine, I was great. What I feared most happened and it turned into a good thing. FEAR IS A LIAR!   

If you are like this person I love and you’re getting crushed with fear, I want you to know that fear isn’t for you. It’s not serving you. And I know that it feels like you don’t have any way to fight back right now. I remember being in that dark place. You are exhausted. And I know it takes incredible energy to move around the fear, but YOU CAN DO IT! You can choose fear, or you can choose love and trust but I can’t find a scenario where you can choose both.

Being paralyzed in fear is not what God has for us. Having Power, Love and a Sound Mind is exactly what God has for us. If you’re going to expend the incredible energy anyways, you might as well punch fear right in the face!

EncourageYou Opportunity:

Is Fear lying to you? Fight back, punch it right in the face. Consider this your nudge, your reminder to fight for yourself. God didn’t give you a spirit of fear. You have a spirit of power, love and sound mind. Go ahead, fight!

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs you to battle fear alongside her? Maybe she needs you to get in the ring for her and show her how to fight for herself for a period of time.  Maybe you’ve successfully walked through this years ago and can just be someone’s biggest cheerleader. If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!

EncourageHer Leader’s Corner: I have learned that many of the people that read this blog are people leaders, leaders of leaders, or entrepreneurial leaders in their own businesses or organizations. As a result, I want to provide some context for you specifically as you step into your leadership.

We are in a season of so many unknowns for many organizations. If you are a leader and you see someone on your team fighting fear, don’t let them fight alone. Shine a light on that fear so it doesn’t continue to grow. If you are working in a season of unknowns, provide as much clarity as possible so people don’t make stuff up for fear to snack on. My mentor Ray Kelly used to always say to me “Elena, the first job of a leader is to define reality with as much clarity as possible. The last job of a leader is to say thank you.” If you are the leader, and fear is lying to you, it’s not serving you. When you (or someone on your team) are fighting fear, you can’t also be your best self at work. If you’re going to expend the energy anyway, you might as well fight fear.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

Mom Guilt and Her Gross Little Chaser

Last week I started to feel it, just in time for school to start. It’s a feeling I know well. We’ve been together for over a decade now. It’s a feeling that tells me I didn’t do enough with my children over the summer months. It tells me I allowed too much screen time. It tells me I didn’t schedule enough pool parties or play dates for them. It tells me they didn’t read enough. It’s a universal parenting phenomenon. I’m pretty sure dads feel mom guilt too. She’s sneaky like that.

In a variety of weird scenarios, it tells me I’m not a good enough mom. It’s not so strong to say I’m not a good mom altogether, just not as good as other moms. It creeps up in weird ways. Other moms already have their school shopping done. Other moms ordered school supplies in July. Other moms did music lessons all summer. Other moms did daily devotions with their children. Other moms take their children to a National Park every summer, the moms that care about nature and preserving it (I don’t know where this one came from, somewhere along the line, I adopted this weird idea). Other moms…fill in the blank. But what’s weird about Mom guilt is that it sort-of lives under the radar. You don’t really know it’s replicating itself until it’s just right there. All of a sudden, school starts tomorrow and you’ve pitted out your t-shirt with mom sweat.  

Here’s the other nasty thing about Mom Guilt, she’s served with a gross little chaser. It’s kind of like when you order a Bloody Mary but when it’s served to you, it’s completely average. It’s so average that comes with a light beer chaser to wash it down. If you have to have a light beer to wash anything down, something’s broken with the original order. In the case of Mom Guilt, the gross little chaser is the ticking time bomb to empty nesting. “You’re not as good as other moms and it’s really unfortunate because after this summer you only have seven more summers with Joey until he goes to college. And all high school moms know that the summer after tenth, eleventh and twelfth grade don’t count because he won’t want to spend any time with you. So, you’re basically down to four summers left. You probably should have done more with him while you had the chance.”

The craziest thing about Mom guilt, it’s total crap. It’ a lie. I think I’ve always “known” this, but we still allow it to have a weird voice in the background. I know for sure it’s crap because in the year of our Lord 2021, the boys and I had the most amazing summer. At the beginning, we did almost all the things that I’ve always wanted to do with them. I entertained them. We went to the parks, the falls, the cabin, the farmers markets, the lakes and the amusement parks. We had picnic lunches. And then they weren’t entertained. We had long mornings. We had lazy pool afternoons. We made cookies, banana bread, and eleven hundred chocolate protein shakes. We read books and took advantage of our public library. It wasn’t always entertaining like I had once envisioned in my mind. We watched movies on the two rainy days we actually had rain. They learned to clean the house better. They helped plan the meals and went grocery shopping. They learned to fold their clothes better. They contributed to the home and also enjoyed just being home with me. We took walks. We rode bikes. We worked out together. We had time to talk to each other. We also had so much time we didn’t feel the need to talk to each other. I got to hear their sweet little conversations that I didn’t get to hear when I was working full time. They taught me how to pitch a baseball with correct form (please don’t expect much from me). We raced to the mailbox when the mail lady came and to the door when an amazon delivery came. We discussed our fears and we discussed what we’re hoping for. In addition, dental appointments were had, well child visits were scheduled, and bible camp was attended. It was the sweetest time together in my whole life. I’m so grateful for my boys and the sweet memories of just being their momma this summer.

My point isn’t to rub in how great our summer was though. My point is that Mom Guilt and her gross litter chaser still tried to show up last week. Somewhere in the Pinterest and Instagram curated reels (Reels, don’t worry, I still love you), I internalized that motherhood was about loving but also about performance. If your performance isn’t worthy of an audience, you’re doing something wrong. But when I had the summer with my boys I’ve always wanted to have, I still felt like I was doing something wrong. I started to feel that feeling again, that I wasn’t enough. What the heck? Oh no Mary and Joseph, there’s no room in this inn. See the previous paragraph detailing Best Summer Ever 2021. Mom Guilt, you back that ass up! Nothing to feel guilty about here.  

I was a great mom this summer. But here’s the deal, I was a great mom last summer, and the summers before that. I asked Joey what his favorite summer was, he said “this summer.” I asked him why, this was my moment of glory. But, it wasn’t because I was home with him. He simply said, “we swam more this summer.” When you’re a new middle schooler, you don’t feel the need to expand. My little guy Charlie said “I liked having you home but I missed going on field trips with Kids’ Company.” Kids Company is our local school’s summer program. What? So, I could have had a day or two a week by myself while they frolicked with their buddies??? Moms, as it turns out, just get your kids a pass at the local pool or splash pad, that’s all you need to be mom of the year. Their happiness isn’t and shouldn’t be tied up in us as their parents. If we believe that enough to create that, we’re going to put some pretty messed up adults into the world. They will show up entitled with a gross little chaser called dependence.

So let me get this straight, Mom Guilt isn’t rooted in reality and the behaviors it promotes only create unhealthy kids??? Kids still just want to be loved and cared for? They don’t want and shouldn’t be entertained every moment of every day? They just need time to play and rest? And when we provide love, care, play and rest to them, we are great parents, and they are healthy?

The verdict is out. You are a good momma. So am I. Tell that little twerp Mom Guilt and her gross little chaser to exit stage right. The performance is over. The kids are loved and cared for. We’re already enough.

EncourageYou Opportunity:

Is Mom Guilt lying to you again? Does the new school year have you feeling like you’re not enough? It might be time to reflect on that inner dialogue. Mom Guilt internal messaging was likely adopted after watching someone else’s highlight reel, it’s not ‘reel’ life (see what I did there😊). It is not serving you. Reflect on the values that you’ve decided are foundation to your parenting and check in on how those values showed up in your summer. I think what you’ll find is that your children are in great shape. You’re already enough! If negative thoughts surface easily for you, it might be time to keep a journal about all the great ways you’re parenting your children. Sometimes, you just need a pat on the back, from yourself.

Now, go meet a friend for brunch and treat yourself to Bloody Mary, hold the gross little chaser.  

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs encouragement from you as she navigates transitioning to the new school year or season? Can you be a mentor to her? Can you be a peer supporter? Maybe you’ve successfully walked through this years ago and can just be someone’s biggest cheerleader. If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!

EncourageHer Leader’s Corner: I have learned that many of the people that read this blog are people leaders, leaders of leaders, or entrepreneurial leaders in their own businesses or organizations. As a result, I want to provide some context for you specifically as you step into your leadership.

Mom guilt is just one of the negative narratives that your team might be telling themselves. However, when you allow any negative self-talk to run on autopilot, it can really affect results in all areas of life, especially work results. Yes, how you address Mom Guilt (or any negative narratives you’re holding on to) affects your work results! I wish I could go back ten years and uncover some the narratives I was believing about myself. They weren’t grounded in reality, and the behaviors only created unhealthy results. Your role as the leader is more important than ever. You may not feel comfortable checking in on your team’s internal narratives, but you can start by reinforcing and reminding them of how you see them showing up at work, at home and in community. They need to hear this positive news all the time from their leader…YOU! An exercise that might be helpful is to have them write down what they would want to be true about how they show up in their work. Ask them to share it with you if they feel comfortable. Example: “I am an exceptional leader. I drive exceptional results that drive our company towards our mission. My teammates can rely on me. I focus on the most important activities to drive results, even when it’s hard.” You get the point. Ask them to keep this in front of themselves on an ongoing basis. Guess what, when we continue to focus on new narratives, the brain will start believing those new narratives and figure out a way to make them true.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

Trust Transition

Photo Credit, Red Bird Hills

My oldest son went to middle school orientation today. He had a little nervous energy last night, he was a bit quiet and introspective. I asked him how he felt on the drive in. He said he was ready and excited. When I dropped him off, he got out of the car confidently and walked right into his new school. As I watched him walk into the school, I was so proud of him. I was also a bit sad knowing that we are leaving behind everything that elementary school represents, being a little kid. We’re also entering everything that middle school represents, being an older kid. It seemed like this transition from elementary to middle school happened overnight. For Joey, transition is so positive and exciting. But somewhere along the development path, transition becomes somewhat scary and negative. Why? At what point does transition go from positive to negative?

I often think about transition as going from one place and getting to another place. I think of it in terms of a new destination. But it’s not a new destination. It’s the waiting room between the parking lot and the doctor’s office. Transition is its own space and process. Sometimes the time spent in the waiting room is longer than the actual appointment. That’s super annoying when you’re waiting to see a doctor and you’ve got a crying child on your lap. Yet it’s necessary when you are making major personal changes in your life. The transition time matters. I’ve come to respect the transition time so much even in the last two months. I don’t always enjoy it, but I’ve come to respect it.

Last week, I shared the power in finding your purpose. If you haven’t discovered your purpose, I wrote that you have permission to start figuring that out. You are on this planet on purpose, with a purpose. You have amazing gifts to share. People need your gifts. The world needs exactly who you were created to be. If you haven’t read that blog post, I would start there. Here’s the link. I’m learning that once your purpose is uncovered, it often leads to a period of transition. For some, maybe you haven’t left where you are yet, and you most definitely haven’t arrived at your destination. If you’re like me, you might not don’t even know exactly where you’re going yet. It can be uncomfortable and yet it’s ok to stay in discomfort. The discomfort is where I’m learning to grow my trust not just trusting that this transition will serve me well but also trusting that God has a plan.

The word transition comes from the Latin word ‘Transire’ which means going across or over. It literally refers to the process and not the result. The visual that comes to mind is a steep sloping bridge in Florida that I’ve driven over. When you’re on the first half of the bridge and haven’t reached the peak, you can clearly see where you’re coming from, but you can’t yet see where you’re going. You literally just see sky. The slope is too steep, you haven’t reached the peak of the bridge, and due to your lack of visual perspective, there’s a specific spot where you actually feel like the bridge might just end and you’ll come crashing down into the water. I don’t like that part of the bridge. It makes me feel a little sick. At some point though, you must make the decision to trust the bridge. Even though you can’t see where you’re going, you just keep moving forward. Then, suddenly, you reach the peak and can see where you’re going. Once you’ve reached the other coast, it’s easy to say, “trust the bridge and in time, you see your destination and you eventually get there.” But in the moment where you can almost feel the water submerging your car, it’s hard to trust the bridge. In the same way, it’s hard to trust transition.

Since I’m in transition, I notice that people like to label my stages of transition. They say, “you’re in the XYZ stage and there are 3-4-5 stages of transition.” There’s truth in their assessment but I’ve come to learn that transition isn’t linear like the bridge. It’s a back and forth. Every day is a little different. You take two steps forward and one step back. Then you take three steps forward and four steps back. But eventually, if you’re open to it, you progress. You move forward on the bridge. One of the things that I need to remember when I’m not feeling as much progress as I want, is this isn’t my first major transition. If you’re in transition, this isn’t your first either. Life is literally a series of transitions from very minor to major. It’s easy to underestimate the magnitude of transitions. It’s also easy to overestimate the magnitude of transitions. But just take a moment to think of the change and transition you’ve successfully managed. Child to adult (some old adults are still transitioning 😊), school age child to college student, single to married, independent person to mother, every work-related transition, sleep to awake, awake to sleep, walking to running, only child to sibling. The examples are endless. But take some time to think through some of your significant transitions. You successfully navigated the “bridge.” You trusted when you approached the peak, and you reached the other side. You can trust your ability to transition. You’ve been literally training for this your entire life. You’re a pro!

In my current season, I’m learning to trust transition. I need to remember (maybe you do too) transition doesn’t mean I’m stuck. It means I’m moving, I’m in process, I’m going across or over, so are you. Transition also means we’re going to get to grow and change to accommodate our new surroundings. What I’ve found in my experience though is that God is growing us and changing us long before we even approach the bridge. I love the verse from the bible, Isaiah 43:19:

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun. Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43:19

Something new is coming for you. It’s coming for me too. It’s already in motion even though we don’t see the destination yet.  I love that part in the verse where God says to Isaiah “Do you not see it?” God knows we’ll have the panic moment on the bridge when we can’t see anything but blue sky and blue water. But a pathway or a bridge will emerge. We’ll get to the scary point right before the peak, and you know what, we’ll just need to keep on going. I’ll be right there with you in my own transition. And before we know it, we’ll see behind us, we’ll see ahead of us and the water won’t look quite so scary, the water will be beautiful illustration of God’s hand on our lives. Trust the bridge, trust transition, trust God. We’ve successfully grown through transition, and we’ll do it again. I can’t wait to see the amazing version of us waiting on the other side.

EncourageYou Opportunity:

If you’re like me and you’re navigating through a transition, is there an opportunity to reflect where you’re at and how to successfully navigate through this season? In my reflection of past seasons of heavy transition, here are some of the questions I’ve asked myself. Perhaps they will serve you in your transition.

  • Do you have a mentor or guide to reach out to for support and encouragement?
  • Do you have trusted friends or peers that are going through the same thing? Can you support and encourage each other?
  • Are you living in alignment with your values and taking care of yourself through this time? If not, read this blog post for more info.
  • Through your reflection on past transitions, can you identify learnings that you want to do more of or less of during this time?

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs encouragement from you as she navigates a new transition? Can you be a mentor to her? Can you be a peer supporter? Have you successfully walked through a season of transition that others are struggling through? If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!

EncourageHer Leader’s Corner: I have learned that many of the people that read this blog are people leaders, leaders of leaders, or leaders in their own businesses or organizations. As a result, I want to provide some context for you specifically as you step into your leadership.

Are the people or business you lead in a period of transition? If so, your role as the leader is more important than ever. The hardest times in my career during a major transition were the times when I had a leader that was too uncomfortable to get into the weeds with me during a time of transition. When that would happen, it would indirectly tell me one of a few things. First, if they were intentionally avoiding the real pain points of the transition (things they didn’t want to hear or address), it reinforced that they were more concerned with their personal comfort than they were concerned with supporting me. If they were avoiding the pain points unintentionally, it told me they lacked self-awareness and the ability to read the team culture. Either way, it reduces trust in leadership when that happens. Trust is key during times of transition. Here are some prompts that you may consider incorporating into your business, organization, ministry or even your home.

  • I want to acknowledge all the change and transition you’re experiencing. It’s a lot. I don’t want to assume I know how you’re feeling. How are you doing?
  • During times of change, transition and potentially stress, it’s more important than ever that you’re living in alignment with your values, how’s that going?
  • How are you taking care of yourself during this time?
  • Do you have a trusted mentor or coach that can be helpful to you in processing this change? As the leader, you can’t be the solution for everything, make sure your team knows there are external resources that can help them during this time.
  • Do you have a group of peers that you’re connecting with on a regular basis that can be a source of encouragement and support?
  • In reflecting on past transitions, is there anything you want to incorporate more or less of that helped you in the past?
  • For those of you who are leaders of leaders or running a business, check in to make sure each of your leaders has a plan to check in with their team. Everyone deserves this type of support during times of transition.
  • Are there any other needs you have that could support your transition?
  • If you think trust might be broken, check-in! And know that if trust is truly broken, you will need to work to establish trust again before you get an honest answer.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

When Purpose Collides with Courage

Photo Credit: Red Bird Hills, redbirdhills.com

The alarm goes off. I pass through the living room and trip over one of three junior size footballs on the floor. It turns over itself and like a slightly less fit version of Abby Wambach, I kick it out of the way. I’m acutely aware now of other potential threats, nerf bullets, balled up socks and what used to be the most serious threat, Legos, is slightly less threatening than a iPad charger standing with the plug in facing up…the worst! Don’t step on those. I stumble to the kitchen and fumble for the lights. I start the coffee…dang it. I realize I forgot to set up the coffee the night before. I try to be as quiet as possible as I grind the coffee beans. I have a fleeting thought about how high maintenance I am that I need fresh ground coffee every morning. The thought immediately passes as it does every morning. I recommit to setting SMART goals, stepping away from fresh ground beans is neither achievable or relevant. I make my way back to the bathroom and start a hot shower. I wake up my kids. They’ve reached a new stage of life where they get themselves showered and dressed. I pat myself on the back. We’ve come so far; Mike and I are such good parents. They immediately push back on the teeth brushing. I take back that last statement. Alas, we have some work to do. I remind them to brush for the seventeen hundredth time. I pray for them and send them off. I realize it’s already 7:30 and I jump into work. Before five minutes pass, I’m engrossed in the work of the day. I run back-to-back meetings. I lead my team. I try to sneak away for a quick bite to eat, whatever is fast and already made. It’s likely a hodgepodge of leftovers if I’m lucky. If I’m not so lucky, fried eggs and random chip crumbs left in the bottom of the bag. I recommit to healthier eating after I pour the chip crumbs into my mouth like some sort of chip commercial model. The workday comes to an official close but it’s still on my mind. I do the best I can to transition my brain and my body to my family. I race one or two children to some sort of activity. We rush home. I start the dinner and serve it. If I’m feeling motivated, I engage my kids in a game. If I’m not feeling motivated (which is most days), I let them watch a show. If I’ve lost all the will to parent, YouTube. I put them to bed. Mike and I turn on the TV and I doze on and off as I watch the Netflix show we’re currently into. At 11PM, Mike gets me up off the couch and ushers me to bed. The day comes to a close, sound familiar?

How many days in the last seven have you gone through the motions? Has a full 24 hours gone by when you’ve never engaged your purpose or even thought about it? It has happened to me, more often than I care to admit. It happened on a regular basis. There were many days I was just going through the motions. I think because I’m in a time of transition, this is on my mind more than ever. How do stay obedient to God in living out my purpose on a daily basis?

What if you’re one of those people that never identified your purpose? Sometimes people don’t even know that they have permission to live a purpose driven life. Sometimes we don’t believe we’re worthy of a purpose driven life. Totally false. God has a purpose for you and a purpose for me. It scares the crap out of me sometimes.

If you’re still with me and you’re wondering what your purpose is, I want you to hear from me that you have permission to start figuring that out. You are on this planet on purpose. Girl, you have amazing gifts to share. I can’t wait to hear what they are and how you can share them with the world. People need your gifts. People need exactly who you were created to be. Here are some quick ways you can start brainstorming what your purpose is:

  • Spend time thinking about what breaks your heart.
  • What are the things/ideas/problems that inspire action, passion, or fear?
  • Engage with leaders who do work in this space. For me, I’ve hired a consultant who helped me identify my purpose and narrow down my values.
  • Pray that God would help you uncover your purpose.

My purpose has evolved over the years a bit but it has stayed steady over the last few years.

To encourage women in knowing, embracing and stewarding their unique gifts in order to fully step into their purpose, to be exactly who they were made to be at home, in business and in community.”

Living out my purpose is the primary reason I’ve started this writing and speaking project. God planted the seeds to serve women deep in my heart and soul. It brings me to tears to see women leaning into their God Given gifts and doing excellent work. The work they were literally created to do. For some that’s raising their children. For others it is running a business. For others, it is helping a company live out its mission. For others, it’s becoming the first female president of the United States of America. Please, if that’s your purpose, step forward lady!!!

It also brings me to tears to see a woman who doesn’t know what her unique gifts and abilities even are. If you don’t know what they are, how can you embrace those gifts and steward them? It’s not that those gifts don’t exist. They exist and they are so dang beautiful. They are just waiting to be pulled to the surface. You have so much to offer this world.

So what are your gifts, what is your calling? These gifts are often things that not only come easy to you (which isn’t to say that these gifts don’t need to be stewarded) but they are also things you likely enjoy doing. There is a local leader and author named Richard Leider that created an interactive tool called Calling Cards (you can find them on Amazon if you search for “Calling Cards: Uncover Your Calling”). It’s an exercise I’ve revisited over the years to really reflect on my unique gifts and what I really enjoy doing. In the season I’m currently in, I recently pulled them back out. My personal gifts that surface to the top are below. I share them because there is power in knowing and claiming your gifts. I believe God can best work through you to love people when you are working within those gifts.

  • Leadership
  • Communication and Writing
  • Speaking to Influence
  • Resolving Conflict
  • Adding Humor

So, let’s bring this back to where we started. What happens when your purpose and gifts collide with courage? I’d encourage you to take a few minutes to write down that question and think about it. What would happen? What comes to your mind? If I’m being as honest, this questions totally freaks me out. When I start brainstorming what this could look like for me, God really stretched my thinking. I actually really get nervous because the result of that question would stretch me in ways I haven’t been stretched in a really long time. It’s exciting and also super scary. Part of the reason I’m even writing this post is to provide some personal accountability for myself through all of you to step out in courage. I’m not at point of arrival yet, not by a long shot. It’s not easy to trust God and let your purpose collide with courage. But in stepping out in courage, maybe God will use us in a way that’s way bigger than we ever imagined. Maybe in ways that totally crush our safe and secure bubble that we’re so comfortable in. No matter what, when we allow our purpose to collide with courage at the very least:

  • You serve people the way God intended you to serve.
  • Your confidence grows.
  • The results of your work are extraordinary from a kingdom perspective.
  • You inspire and empower others to do the same.
  • You start a movement in yourself to do hard things.

But I’ve also seen those that have gone before me to extraordinary things, they’ve literally changed the course of history. They weren’t always women of influence. They weren’t the most educated. They didn’t always have significant resources. They weren’t at the peak of their career. They had a God Given purpose and stepped forward in courage. Here are a few specific women in history who gave us a path to follow. Of course this is not an exhaustive list but just the ones that immediately came to mind:

  • Esther: a young Jewish queen who comes into new influence and uses that influence to save the Jewish people from exile. Esther 4:14 “Who knows if you were born for such a time as this?” You guys know that Esther is my home-girl.
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Was one of only a few women at her time to go to law school. She broke legal ground that led to equality for women and underrepresented people for generations to come. #notoriousRBG
  • Rosa Parks: Sparked a movement when she stood firm in her humanity as a proud black woman deserving a seat on a bus.
  • Harriet Tubman: led hundreds of slaves to freedom through the underground railroad. She followed her purpose to save lives.
  • Oprah: Now one of the most powerful woman in the world, inspiring women globally but stepped out in courage when there was no one that looked like her in her field of work. #yougetacar
  • Malala Yousafzai: the youngest Noble Peace Prize winner for supporting education for girls in Pakistan. #dropthemic
  • Greta Thunberg: a Swedish environmental activist who started her work at age 15. She’s known for challenging world leaders to take immediate action for climate change mitigation. BTW, she’s only 4 foot 11 inches. #smallbutmighty

I’m sure not all of these women had a goal to change the world. But they had a purpose. They changed the world when their purpose collided with their courage. Maybe changing the world for you is one person at a time. Maybe you change the course of history. But you’ll never know if you don’t start figuring out what your purpose is and step fully into it. I’m preaching to the choir here. I’m telling myself this as I write these words to you because I’m going through the internal stress of trusting God to step fully into who I was created to be. We’ll never know if we continue to walk through the monotonous motions of the day without engaging the exact person we were made to be. Trust me, it is scary to think about what it might mean to live out your purpose. It is scary to think about what people will say, what roadblocks we’ll encounter, what it will mean financially etc. But courageously pursuing your purpose does not mean it’s not scary. It means you move forward with pursuing and activating your purpose even when fear is staring you in the face. I love this definition of courage, “showing courage is not facing situations without fear, it is facing them despite fear.”

People are waiting for you right now to activate your purpose. Your family, your community, your workplace, the world is waiting for you, yes, you! Yes, me! My encouragement to us today is threefold.

EncourageYou Opportunity:

  • If you don’t feel called to a specific purpose or if you haven’t given yourself permission to think about it, take time to think through, pray about and brainstorm. When you get something, write it down, read it often, refine it, pray about it, pray over it and share it with people.
  • Take time to think through your God Given Gifts. Do the Calling Card exercise. How can you use them in the best possible way?
  • Share back with a friend or a community. I’d love it if you share back with me. I’d love to hear from you. I’ve even thought about pulling together a group of people that are in this same phase of colliding their purpose with courage.

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs encouragement from you to move forward in discovering her gifts or purpose? Who can you support this week in their purpose or dream? Have you successfully walked through a season that others are struggling through? If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are amazing!

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

Rest, Wait, Encourage Others.

Photo Credit: Red Bird HIlls, redbirdhills.com

I had a totally different blog post for today, for yesterday. It was fine. Actually, it is a really important message that I will share another day. But even as I was writing, I felt a nudge letting me know that it wasn’t what I was supposed to share this week. In my blog, I’m experimenting on what days are the best days to share my encouragement with you. My goal for this week and last week, was to post first thing Thursday morning to test the engagement. If you know me, you know that I like to follow through on commitments that I make to myself. And even though, no one is checking on my work, I was starting to feel nervous as I was lying in bed on Wednesday night. I was nervous because I knew that if the message that I wrote wasn’t the right message, then I wouldn’t meet my commitment to myself. I don’t like not following through. I’ve been trained throughout my entire career to set daily commitments and follow through. It’s engrained in me. Apparently, it’s so engrained, I will even push back on a nudge from God to reach my personal commitment.

The problem is, it’s my commitment, it’s not God’s commitment for me. It wasn’t what I was supposed to share. I’m just trusting that sharing my heart will serve you today in a way that God wants, even if what I wanted was a different message.

I also want to share (if you’re new here) that I’m in a season of transition. I’m in a season where I am trying to be as sensitive as possible to the nudges that I get from the Holy Spirit. In this season, God has made only one thing crystal clear to me. I am to rest and wait on God. You might already be anticipating where this is going. I don’t like to rest and wait…on anyone, especially as it relates to my ability and desire to produce and grow things. Turns out God knows this about me, so I receive reminder nudges every.single.day when I start resisting the waiting and the resting. The message is very clear. “Elena, rest and wait on me. In the waiting, encourage others.”

This morning I was feeling particularly punchy in my desire to “do” literally anything productive. I’ve taken the last thirty days off. It has been wonderful AND I’m feeling ready for what’s next. I knew I needed to start negotiations with God. By the way, if you’re one of those people that thinks that negotiating with God is not ok, I get it. I believe that negotiating is part of being in a relationship. God can handle me. My conversation went something like this, “God, it’s been wonderful resting but I’m good now. I’ve heard all I can from you. Vacation is over and it’s time to produce, it’s time to move something forward, it’s time to make decisions, it’s time to go. Ok? Ok, good.” I guess you could say it was a one-way conversation. It felt really good to just let myself think those things. It’s what I’m used to thinking. I felt like myself again. Then I opened up my devotional and the first message was from Psalms 37:7 “Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.” Annoying. What in the actual heck God? Are you kidding me? We’re still in the waiting??? Didn’t you hear me? We’re moving forward!

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him. Psalms 37:7

Because I’m already annoyed, I go about my day and decide I’m going to ignore the direction about my blog post. I’m going to post the other one anyway. I trip around my website, it’s literally a fight every week to get something posted. If you ever thought you were a big deal but then want to be totally humbled, create your own website. You will feel like a total idiot. I open up my phone to play some music and I get a notification from the Bible app, Verse of the Day: Psalms 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in his word, I put my hope.” Seriously??? God, why are you being such a know-it-all?

I wait for the Lord, I expectantly wait, and in his word, I put my hope. Psalms 130:5

A few minutes later, I get a message from a previous colleague of mine. He’s an advisor that is about two years into starting his own business. He is just one of those people that I’m always cheering for – I want to see him win in everything he does. He works so hard and he’s so well intentioned. He’s smart. His heart is to serve people. His message to me said “I need some encouragement please, I am struggling.” In that moment, I knew where I had gone wrong. I was asked to “Rest and wait. In the waiting, encourage others.” My other post would have been informative (for so many people, God!!!), but it wasn’t what God asked me to do. He asked me to Encourage. As if I might not be paying attention, God shows off again. This verse popped up from Hebrews, “Let us consider how we may spur on one another on toward love and good deeds…encouraging one another.”

Let us consider how we may spur on one another on toward love and good deeds…encouraging one another. Hebrews 10:24-25

I immediately responded to my friend. I took some time to encourage him with scripture, to build him up with my words. I don’t know how that will serve him (if at all) but I know that it got my attention off myself and on to encouraging someone else. Maybe that was exactly the encouragement he needed to pursue his purpose. Maybe in his pursuit of his purpose to serve people financially, he was the answer to a future client’s prayer for a financial guide. As his future clients engage with him and receive great advice, perhaps they can be generous with their resources and bless someone else’s socks off.

Here’s the deal, it’s not very often that God is this clear with me about what I’m supposed to do. I wish I was one of those people who gets DM’s directly from heaven. But it doesn’t work that way for me…yet. God wanted me to rest and wait and in the waiting, asked me to encourage others. It’s so clear. Yet my human nature couldn’t stop thinking about myself. If I’m being completely honest with you, it wasn’t that I was just focusing on myself. I was allowing fear to take root and move me to action. For me, maybe you too, fear is extremely motivating. It isn’t always a bad thing. In this scenario though, it’s not healthy for me. If I don’t get productive, I’ll become irrelevant. If I don’t get productive, I’ll run out of money. If I don’t get productive, people won’t respect me… As I was engaging the fear and thinking about myself, I was missing the opportunity to serve other people, to encourage other people. I was missing the opportunity to do what God had told me to do. I needed that nudge from my friend to get centered on what I’m supposed to be doing…Encouraging Others. In my obedience, perhaps a ripple effect happened to serve so many other people. Who knows?

My question to you (and myself) is what are you focusing on that might be holding you back from doing what God has called you to do today? You might push back on me thinking “You don’t know what I’m going through. How can I serve people when I’m going through illness, cancer, infidelity, divorce, infertility, job transition etc? How can I not engage fear?” I get it. I’ve had those thoughts and questions too. You’re human. Your human needs, desires or challenges are real. My desires and needs are real too and I know God has a plan to fulfill those desires in a way so much better than I could even imagine. I’ve also experienced personal devastation for my family when what we were fearing most came true. I think specifically about when we lost my beautiful mother-in-law to cancer. And yet, engaging fear didn’t actually help us prepare for that devastation. Fear only kept me from experiencing joy in her final days. It also likely prevented me from serving other people during that time.  

God has called you to something today. It is likely different than what I’ve been called to do. But, don’t underestimate that calling, even if it feels like something so small. You might be part of a much bigger picture. Something that you will do in obedience will create a ripple effect. God never makes mistakes when he calls people to step forward in faith, ever. You’re exactly the right catalyst to serve and love people. If you’re self-focused or wading in fear like I was, it will prevent you from that calling, from your purpose.  

EncourageYou Challenge

Is God calling you to do something and you want to ignore it? Is it hard? Will it take you out of your comfort zone? Will it expose you to rejection? Don’t wait on the sidelines in fear. Don’t underestimate how fulfilling your calling could create a ripple effect to serve and love people. What is the one thing that you can do to follow through on that calling?

  • Are you a leader that needs to make a bold move?
  • Is there a change that needs to happen in your parenting?
  • Is there a bold conversation that needs to happen?
  • Is God challenging you in your faith?
  • Is there an investment you’re called to make that feels challenging to you?
  • Is God challenging you to make a financial gift? It’s been on your heart but feels like a stretch?
  • Is there a career shift that God is leading you to make?

EncourageHer Challenge

We’re not always ‘in the know’ when it comes to how God is challenging the people around us. However, we often get bits and pieces from family, friends and colleagues about their goals, dreams and challenges. How can we come alongside them to support them? Is there a way for you to come alongside someone as she pursues her calling or as she steps forward in obedience? Does she need to be encouraged? Does she need to be challenged? Do you just need to be beside her? Could you take a moment to send her a text, give her a call, write her an email, or drive to her home and be with her face to face?

I hope this helps you. I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

Do the next right thing. Then ask for help.

Photo Credit: Red Bird HIlls, redbirdhills.com

In my recent professional life, I coached and led financial advisors that were all entrepreneurs running their own business. Most of them came to our company to start a business from scratch. To start a business from scratch is freaking hard. It requires so much courage and straight up grit. For all of you entrepreneurs in my life, just know that I’m so proud of you. You are such cool humans. Thanks for inspiring me every single day.

If you’re an entrepreneur, you know that there is a honeymoon phase. You’re so excited about your business and vision. You realize the people that are really behind you, you had no idea they would be behind you. You actually think the thought “Maybe this won’t be as hard for me as it is for others. Maybe I’m just really called to this work. God really has his hand on my business. Everything seems to be aligning.”

Then, shit gets real (sorry if you’re offended, there’s just no other way to say it, if you know, you know). The people who said they would be behind you start dragging their feet. It feels like a personal rejection. It’s like in 6th grade when you were “going with” Jared and then you find out Jared’s going with someone else. It’s like that rejection times one hundred…thousand. Don’t these people know how much you can help them? Don’t these people know your sincerity in serving them. They have no idea how much you can improve their financial planning. You actually think the thought “This is hard. Maybe I’m not really called for this work. God, where are you? I thought you had your hand all over this?” Then you see your paycheck, and it’s $191 before you withhold for taxes. Insert face into palm.

Before I started as an advisor, I remember thinking that I was a resilient person. I did some hard things (I didn’t, I was 22 and life was pretty posh). I remember thinking that when things got hard, I would do what I normally did, just work through it. Like when I wasn’t doing well in my corporate finance class, I really needed to “dig deep and work through it.” Look at how resilient I was – I went back to the professor two times to ask for help – I went to the library to study when I really wanted to go out with my friends…so much grit (eye roll). In life, how often do we go back after getting rejected? Do we go back once, twice, maybe three times? Then we “wash our hands of it” and move on to something else.

As an entrepreneur, you have the “this is hard and maybe I’m not really called for this work” thought every dang day, for years. You also have some good days too. But on those hard days, you often wonder if this is God’s way of telling you to stop. I’ve literally had hundreds of conversations with advisors on this topic. God called you originally to this work, you prayed and discerned whether this was the right thing for you to do, for your family. You felt clearly called. After all of that, do you think that the God of the Universe would lead you to this just to watch you fail? I think no, God would not do that. God is good. But, in those moments of fear and doubt, how do you deal? You can’t hear God. It’s radio silent. Your fear is taking over your vision. Your doubt is drowning your confidence. Your anxiety and stress are at record levels. What do you do?

Do the next right thing. Then ask for help.

You do the next right thing. Then you ask for help. This is probably the best advice I can give to myself or to you. And BTW, I’ve had to lead myself in this way more times than I care to admit. You just do the last thing you clearly heard God speak to you. In my business, you pick up the phone and ask for the appointment. You just make five more calls, before you know it, you’ve made twenty more calls and you’ve scheduled appointments. You pick up the phone and follow up with clients who were on the fence, you ask for the business. Before you know it, you’ve secured commitments to move forward. You pick up the phone and ask for help from a mentor. Before you know it, you’ve got lunch scheduled with someone that will pick you up by your bootstraps and hold you accountable. You just do something, you just do the next right thing. Then you ask for help. Notice I did not say, ask for help then wait for them to tell you what to do. Go to action first. Then you can ask for help. But waiting around for someone to return your call/email/text is not productive. They will likely get back to you. But take action no matter what.

Even if you’re not a financial advisor or an entrepreneur, this still applies to you. This always applies when you’re stuck. Did you have a dream and now it’s hard? Do the next right thing. Then ask for help. Are you hoping for a baby and it’s just not happening within your timetable? Do the next right thing. Schedule the appointment with the specialist. Then ask for help. Reach out to a friend/therapist who’s been through this. Is your dream to get back into shape? Don’t run a marathon today, that’s paralyzing. Just get out and run the first mile and see what happens. Then ask a friend to join you in the process. Do you dream of finding your forever partner, just get online and do the dang thing. Go out on a date. Then find a friend who’s going through the same process. You two will laugh your butts off as you sift through the available inventory. You have a dream of growing in your faith, don’t feel that you need be an ordained pastor on day one. Just do the next right thing. Say a prayer or open the bible. Then ask for help. Find a friend/colleague/neighbor who’s on the same journey just a little farther along then you.

For others, your dream is just to get out of bed. You’re dealing with depression. You’re dealing with addiction. You’re dealing with illness. I am no expert here. But I know that action and support will serve you. Do the next right thing, then ask for help.

Whether you are building a business, or fighting addiction, God did not get you this far, just to leave you here, alone. God still has plans for you, plans to prosper you, not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. You aren’t just enough. You’re a freaking work of art. God’s plans for you are way better than you can imagine, they’re way bigger than you can even fathom. You can’t stop where you are, now is not the right time to stop. You never stop at a low point. Just do the next right thing. Then ask for help.

You have this dream in your heart for a reason. When God puts a dream and purpose in your heart, it isn’t a mistake. Pursue this dream. Pursue your purpose. Even when it gets hard. This is exactly who God called you to be. The tools will arrive. The people will arrive. The business will arrive. Maybe it was never supposed to be easy. Maybe there is purpose and wisdom in the struggle. Keep moving forward. You maybe can’t do everything right now. Just do the next right thing. Then ask for help. I can’t wait to see the abundance waiting for us when lean into our purpose, exactly who we were made to be all along.

EncourageYou Opportunity

Are you feeling discouraged in your pursuit of something important to you? Me too!!! Here’s exactly what to do.

  • Do the next right thing.
  • Then ask for help.

Ok, I know I’ve oversimplified this but I don’t know what your pursuit is. You do though. Trust yourself that positive action is always positive, no matter how small the action seems. Consistent action leads to consistent results, trust me. Consistent results will lead toward your vision. In this next week, do you need to create or adjust a system to make sure that when you’re at a standstill, you know what action you will take? What is the one thing you will do when you hit the wall? Who is the one person who’s on the same journey, just a little farther along than you? Who can you call that will support you and help you move forward?

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman (or person) that needs encouragement from you to move forward? Who can you support this week in their purpose or dream? Have you successfully walked through a season that others are struggling through? If this is you, you’re a woman in position to help another woman! This is great news. Just go ahead and pick up the dang phone to EncourageHer. You are the life-line. This can be life changing. You can change someone’s life!

  • You are a successful entrepreneur? Call that woman in your life just getting her business off the ground.
  • You successfully transitioned from “stay-at-home-mom to professional?” You successfully transitioned from “professional mom to stay-at-home mom?” Call that momma that’s just making the transition. Pick up the phone.
  • You successfully transitioned from full-time-mom to empty nester with significant purpose? Phone a friend!
  • You’ve dealt with the trauma and fear that comes with illness successfully? Your experience and action will serve someone else. You have wisdom, empathy and direction that needs to be shared.
  • You’ve grieved the loss of a spouse or child? Someone needs to hear from you today.
  • You’ve dealt with a major shake-up at work? Call that woman going through this for the first time. You’ve walked through the chaos and came out stronger. EncourageHer!

The scenarios are endless but you get my point. You have successfully navigated something, something really hard. EncourageHer in the same pursuit. You have knowledge and wisdom to offer, don’t you dare keep that to yourself. You are the help. The world needs your encouragement and support. You will make a difference in someone’s life…today.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

Self Care = Self Love

As a mother, some of my favorite daily moments are when I’m laying with my babies at night while I put them to bed. I see them so still. I hear their unique breathing patterns, patterns that are just their own. I see the tiny freckles on their faces, freckles that will never be repeated the same on another human face. I move the hair away from their faces and feel their soft skin. Their skin is changing all the time. It’s skin the has changed from baby skin to toddler skin, from toddler skin to little boy skin. I love how their becoming more of who they were created to be. I see my oldest son’s superpower which is empathy for people. He feels things deeply. He also is starting to recognize that the world doesn’t always celebrate this in men, I notice when he tries to swallow his empathy to be tough. I see his desire to please and his big, curious brainy brain. God made him by design and he’s a beautiful person. I see my younger son’s super power which is grit. I see his authentic self confidence that was there even as a toddler. I see his desire to share his own voice, a voice that is different from his big brother. His personal character is so strong, he leads naturally because he’s already so comfortable with who he is as a unique person. God made him by design and he’s a beautiful. Within moments of gazing at these tiny humans (that I grew myself, no big deal, no recipe or instruction manual needed, I just made them from scratch), I feel like I can see right into their heart. In return, my own heart feels like it will burst of love, like and pride for my boys. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude for the thought and creativity that went into their blueprint. The architect made no mistakes in designing who they are and the gifts they bring to the world.

As a mother, there’s nothing more important to me than to love and care for these boys. To do everything I can to nurture them into exactly who they were meant to be. I love them so much that I want to model for them how to take great care of themselves. I invest in learnings, experiences and things that will help them grow spiritually, intellectually and physically. Then I do the obvious things to make sure thew are well cared for, I make sure they are well rested, well fed, and well exercised (God knows these kiddos have energy to burn). No one would ever question me for caring for these sweet boys until they are old enough to care for themselves. However, I have experienced real and perceived judgement for caring for myself in the same way. Who am I to prioritize my health? Who am I to prioritize my rest? Who am I to prioritize my happiness? The world sends messages like “your care most come after everyone else’s care. Otherwise you aren’t a good woman.” The world reinforces an inner dialogue “if you care for yourself, you aren’t caring for other people.” It’s such a lie.  

In January of 2020, I didn’t set my normal New Year’s resolutions. I didn’t have a weight loss goal. I didn’t have a financial goal. I had one thing that I wanted to improve in 2020, my goal was to grow my self-love and self-care. I was working on seeing myself the way God sees me. That was going well. I was reminding myself every day. I was appreciating who I saw in the mirror. But was I really loving myself if I wasn’t also taking care of myself? It was time to make self-care a priority.

As it turns out self-care wasn’t a check the box type of resolution. The world wants to sell you self-care. But no one knows what you need to care for yourself except for you. Self-care isn’t a spa day that you do once a year. There isn’t a breakfast and lunch high protein whole-foods shake for that. There isn’t a 30 day guided journal for that. There isn’t a hand-crafted artisan designed piece of jewelry that is engraved with the right words to remind you of that. There isn’t a multilevel marketing firm that is selling real self-love and self-care on a monthly service renewal program.

I needed to slow down and really listen to myself. On days that I felt most like myself, when I felt most happy, when I was living in alignment with my Values, what was I doing? How can I recreate my best days. This take some time to do, and for me it’s constantly getting tweaked (even after I reviewed my list, I added one that felt important). I’m not at point of arrival by any stretch of the imagination but I can tell you that I started by listening to what I needed? How can I take care of myself so that I’m happy and living in alignment with my values. I started to take care of myself like I took care of the other people I loved. I made sure I carved out time for myself. I made sure I took care of my body because I loved it. I made sure my self-talk was positive. I made sure I had things to look forward to. I made sure I had fun. It was intentional work. I got to know myself and learned what I needed and then I took care of myself. At the very beginning of Covid, I created a check list to make sure I was doing the things that I knew helped me to love and care for myself.

I started doing these things and guess what, no one was neglected. No one died of starvation or thirst. I’m not sure anyone even noticed. Some days when I’d miss my early morning alarm clock and have to make it up after work, I’d tell Mike “I’m going to work out quick and then we’ll get dinner going.” Or I’d say “I’m going to get in a quick work out before we leave for basketball.” At first, I felt like I needed to ask permission to do these things. I felt like I was really putting him or the boys out. As it turns out, they didn’t even notice. They say “sounds good.” It was as if they expected me all along to take care of myself. Duh!

There are plenty of days where I can’t check everything off this list. But it’s a small system I implemented to prioritize my values and self-care. Maybe I have a particularly busy week and I can’t get to some areas, I notice it, but I don’t beat myself up. I just figure out how I can reincorporate it as soon as I can.  You might review the checklist and think, “I don’t have enough time to do all these things.” I remember thinking that too. I’ve learned that if I don’t make time to do these things, I’m not running optimally. When I make time to take care of myself, I’m more efficient but I feel better too. I’m just happier.

  • If I get a good night sleep, I won’t have time to work out in the morning. No, just skip Netflix and go to bed earlier. Or work out at night (I know plenty of night owls that need to release energy before going to bed). Or workout as soon as you get home from work, ask your kids to join you. Spend time with your spouse on this one and go for a walk.
  • If I move my body every day, it means I prioritize myself over my family and work. Yes and Yes. One of the best ways for you to serve your family and perform at work is to be physically healthy. Your body isn’t the only thing that gets healthier, your mind is sharper, your ability to focus improves, your ability to lean into hard things gets easier. So yes, your family and work are served well when you are a physically healthy person. More on this topic later.
  • I don’t have time to have fun. I’m too stressed to have fun. This one requires some intentionality. I love fun but I’ve been in seasons where it’s easy for me to push it to the backburner. If I’m not having fun it’s because I’m not being intentional about having fun.  I’m not scheduling date nights with Mike. I’m not scheduling girl nights or girls weekends away. I’m not incorporating it into my work culture. Don’t be a fun victim, you control this. I’m preaching to the choir here.
  • I’m too busy to think about what I’m thinking about. Wrong! This takes literally one minute. My mentor Doug Lennick of Think2Perform calls this the freeze game. It’s a quick personal assessment to understand what I’m thinking and feeling. What are my emotions trying to tell me? I like to ask “What stories am I believing today about myself that aren’t serving me?”
  • I don’t have time (or money) to eat well. I can’t unpack this one in a sentence. And there are also so many triggers that come along with this commitment. I just started by asking myself “what are the things that Elena eats and drinks that help her feel best?” Notice, I don’t say “what are the things I eat…” I take care of myself better when I think about Elena as a third party. Much more on this topic.
  • I don’t have time to do devotions/prayer/meditation every day. In full transparency, this doesn’t happen every day for me, just like being active doesn’t happen every day. However, once I realized this was serving me so well, I wanted to make sure to prioritize it as much as possible. Being spiritually and physically healthy is a game changer. This doesn’t require 60 minutes of prayer and meditation, even ten minutes can make all the difference in the world when done on a regular basis.
  • I don’t have the energy or time to deal with the unresolved tension/conflict right now. This is a lie. This will derail your day if you put this off. Putting off this conversation will make every other task longer. It doesn’t matter if the conflict is with your partner, your parent, your sibling, your child, your friend, your boss or colleague. If you care about the person, resolve the conflict early and often. If you resolve the conflict early, you’ll be more productive in every other area of your life. If you want to think about lost energy and time, think about all the time you’ve lost worrying over unresolved tension.

This checklist isn’t perfect. It’s not going to be perfect for you, it’s a tool for me. It’s a small system to prioritize my values, the things that make me happy. It’s not a grading mechanism that will just produce more shame. It’s a system to treat yourself like a priority, so that you show up as the best version of you.

EncourageYou Opportunity

In this next week, do you need to create or adjust your systems to make sure that you’re taking care of you? Are you caring for yourself with as much love as you the other people you love? What is one thing that you can commit to in order to care for yourself more meaningfully? Even better, can you find a friend to hold you accountable? If you haven’t gone through some sort of values exercise, here is one that I have used for myself and my husband, I’ve also used it with literally hundreds of people that I’ve led. If you’d like to purchase the values cards, you can find them here at the think 2 perform website.

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman that needs encouragement from you to care for and love herself? If you are a partner, father, brother, friend to a woman that needs to be empowered to make sure she has the time to care and love herself, what can you do to help? If you are a woman in position to help another woman see that she needs to prioritize herself, how can you encourage her? How can you come alongside her? Could you send a text or make a call? Could you watch her kids? It might make a world of difference to hear you say that she is someone that deserves care.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

“remember that an airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford

Photo Credit, Red Bird Hills, redbirdhills.com

When I was nine, my parents bought a local battery distribution franchise associated with a national company. It was a huge step in courage. It required years of sacrificing for my mom and dad. They consistently lived on 50% of their income so they could still tithe and save money to buy a business. From 1989 to 2007, I saw them invest, grow and love this business into success. It was a small business, but they created jobs and they invested back into the community. They loved their employees and customers. They worked so hard. From time to time, people will give me a huge compliment and ask me where my work ethic comes from, it comes from Mark and Sue. I also witnessed their loyalty to the company. Until one day, their world and identity, as they knew it, came crashing down. Long story short, they were forced out by the parent company. At the time it was heart breaking. Their identity professionally and personally was wrapped up in their business, in the brand. They could have fought back in a legal battle but they knew it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to fight. They made the decision to walk away and sold their business at the top of the market. Over the next two years, my dad had to do some serious unraveling of his identity as owner of the business, owner associated with a national brand. He humbled himself and worked for the new owner and let his non-compete play out. When the time was right, they recreated themselves and two new businesses. It was difficult and messy. It was courageous. They pushed through and they held on to their faith the entire time. Watching my dad through that process was hard. I wish I could go back and support him more tenderly through that transition. Up to that point, I had always been so proud to be Mark Theorin’s daughter (and if you know my mom, it goes without saying that I was proud to be Sue’s daughter, she’s a ‘freaking work of art’) but seeing him pivot and move to productivity so quickly is something I will never forget. I respect my dad so much more having watched him go through that season and I can’t even begin to describe the pride I have in him now. I saw him lose his business and move forward to success with strength, vulnerability and a strong sense of self. I’m so glad to have witnessed him in that season. When everything was going against them, I watched my parents launch a commercial airplane into flight, against the wind.

Some of you might be feeling that right now. Maybe you aren’t losing your business, but maybe your feeling major head winds in your business. Perhaps there are decisions or investments you need to make for your future, those decisions are important and meaningful but the decision fatigue might be weighing you down. Maybe you’re a leader and feeling the pressure to drive results or make significant decisions around your team. Maybe you know a relationship change needs to happen in your life with an actual person, an addiction, a habit or crutch. Talk about headwinds and stress. Maybe you are like me and in the middle of a life shake-up. You are at a crossroads. One day, your scenario feels like wind at your back and the very next day it feels like you’re trying to fly a plane directly into the wind. It feels uncomfortable because it is uncomfortable. I am with you, I get it. We each walk through seasons where in the moment the head winds don’t feel as though they’re serving us at all. They just feel like wind, in our face, dust and dirt in our eyes, making things harder than they need to be.  

When you feel those feelings – when I feel those feelings – I remember this quote from Henry Ford. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that an airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Why do airplanes take off into the wind? I had to do a little research on this myself. Ultimately, if you take off into the wind, it puts you in a position to achieve higher altitude in less time, with less speed and I’m guessing less fuel. As an example, a large commercial plane needs about 150 mph of airspeed to be airborne if flying into the wind. If there’s little-to-no wind present, the plane must accelerate to 180 mph before it’s airborne.

Throughout our lives, we all experience challenging headwinds. The question I ask myself during these times of challenge, transition and/or change, “am I experiencing head wind, or is it that I’m in the perfect wind environment to lift this airplane off the ground?” What is the airplane that you need to get off the ground and put into flight? You are in this season for a reason. You are growing a business for a reason, people need your products or services. You are making investments into your future for a reason, you need to reach more people for good. You are the right leader at this time and the future of your organization is relying on you to make tough decisions. Your company needs your leadership and conviction to grow and serve. Whatever the scenario, the wind may be at your face but it’s going to allow you to get that plane into flight faster and with less fuel.

Like my parents, you may look back on a challenging time and realize there was someone watching you. There’s a young woman or man, seeing you approach the headwinds, just like I saw my parents lose their business and move forward to success with strength, vulnerability and a strong sense of self. That young person needs to see you get that plane into flight. They need to see you fly the plane because they too will someday come across major headwinds. I know that there are some of you that need this nudge in order to go do the dang thing. Some days I don’t need a nudge, I need a kick in the butt. Consider this your kick in the butt. God has amazing things in mind with your name on it – amazing experiences, amazing results, amazing relationships, amazing freedom and amazing serving opportunities. Remember, you are the only one like you. There’s no one else that can be you, better than you. You were not created by accident. You were created by design. You were given a purpose and it’s time to live it out. But until you acknowledge that the wind in your face will help you fly, you’re just going to be standing on the runway with dust in your eyes.

EncourageYou Opportunity

In this next week, how do you need to adjust your perspective to realize that you’re not just experiencing headwinds, you’re in a perfect environment to fly the plane? What is one or two decisions or actions that you can take to get the plane off the ground?

EncourageHer Opportunity:

In this next week, who is a woman that needs encouragement from you to see that she’s not just experiencing head-wind, but can you help her see that she’s getting ready to fly the plane. Some ideas for you:

  • Who is in a job transition or transitioning into retirement?
  • Who is a leader in the middle of a tough decision, perhaps a leader on your team?
  • Who is losing their identity due to a work change?
  • Who is in a relationship transition or needs to be in relationship transition?
  • Who is experiencing head winds with parenting or becoming a parent again or for the first time?
  • Who is experiencing the loss of kids going off to college, losing their identity as a parent?
  • Who is experiencing the profound loss of someone they love?

How can you come alongside her to encourage her during this time? Could you send a text or make a call? Could you remind her of the God-given gifts she has to share with the world? Could you sit with her on the couch with a glass of wine and just listen? Could you just tell her that you believe in her and that you love her?

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

You’re not only enough…You’re a freaking work of art

Photo Credit: Red Bird Hills, redbirdhills.com

One of my favorite summer memories is going to outdoor concerts with my hubby. There’s nothing better. I love the experience of live music anywhere but being at a summer outdoor concert with my guy is the ultimate date night. We’ve seen Paul McCartney to the random band at the small-town bar and everything in between. We drink cheap beer and hold hands – it’s perfect. I love my husband. There are certain concerts that I will never forget. I remember it all, the temperature, the smells, the people sitting next to us. And I can still feel the songs to this day. I can still feel the feelings of hearing those songs live and experiencing the artist’s work real time.

When you hear the story behind the song and then experience it real time with the artist, it feels a little bit like being in their personal studio. It’s so intimate. You can feel their work, their creation, their passion. Not only did they create this piece of art, they’re sharing it with you, with the world. It’s such an act of vulnerability to share your art with people. People will misinterpret the art, they won’t “get it.” When people don’t get your art, it’s painful. Yet, the artist continues to put their work out into the world, because they know that when the right person experiences it, the art changes the way people feel. I imagine it’s so rewarding.

Last week, I shared the idea of believing you’re already enough. If you haven’t read that one, go back and read that blog post first. The question was asking what would happen if you believed you’re already enough? What fruit would you produce? How would people experience you and experience your gifts? After sharing that blog, I had people so many people reach out to share privately that I hit a cord. They have felt alone in their self -limiting beliefs. They were so hard on themselves. The negative self-talk was so strong, it drove them away from people. As they drove people away, the negative self-talk only got worse. It became a self-fulfilling prophecy. I also want to mention that this doesn’t just impact women, I heard from as many men. As it turns out, many of us hear negative self-talk on replay in the privacy of our own minds. We all compare ourselves to each other but forget that we’re a unique piece of art.

I’m going to tell you something that you already know. I probably should have said this in the last blog post. You are the only one like you. No one can be you, better than you. You were not created by accident. You were created by design. You are a work of art created out of love and passion. You started as a draft that was reworked and reworked until you were just right, perfect and imperfect. Your imperfections aren’t mistakes, they are a reflection of the artists vision, style and creativity. You are just what the artist had in mind when she started putting you on paper, into clay, winding the chords together. When people experience you just as you were created, they are moved by you, they are moved by the art. They can feel you like I can feel a summer concert. They don’t forget you and they definitely don’t forget the way you made them feel. The story of you and the experiencing of you is something people remember. The world needs you. People need you.

You are the only one like you. No one can be you, better than you.

And sometimes art isn’t appreciated by everyone who experiences it. When I hear a song for the first time or see a painting for the first time, I might not love it. Not because it’s wrong, I just don’t get it. Then I hear the story of the song. I hear the inspiration for the painting, and I’m drawn right in. When I experience the music through the musician, when I see the painting through the artist’s lens, when we hear the artist tell the story behind the piece of art, I am often moved, sometimes to tears. We are overcome with emotion because we see the art as it was created to be seen. That is you. When we see you through the lens of the artist, you come alive. There is no one like you. You are the only one like you.

Sometimes we are in jobs, in communities and in relationships that disconnect us from seeing the piece of art that we were created to be. We start seeing ourselves through someone else’s lens and we see ourselves in relation to their story of us. This lens only gives us a visual of who we are as it relates to producing results for the business. We aren’t someone else’s business results. The lens may only give us a visual of who we are within a defined community. We aren’t how one defined community sees us. The lens may only give us a visual of who we are from someone else’s human perspective. How an individual human sees us is often a reflection of how they see themselves. If they are broken, they will see us and treat us as broken. We aren’t broken. We are perfect and imperfect. But we aren’t broken. We’re not only enough, we’re a freaking piece of art! We are created by design by an artist who wept tears of joy and love over her creation process.

This doesn’t mean that we have to step away from the business, community or relationship, it just means that we have to know who we are and be confident that we weren’t made for just their benefit.  

If one of my sons came to me and said “I’m not enough in this job. I’m not enough in this faith community. I’m not enough to be in relationship with this person.” My heart would break for him, this person I love so much. I’m totally biased but I think I see him through the artist’s lens. I love the design. I love the story of him. I can see how God made him. I can see his unique gifts. I can see how he will lead and love so well. The artist did an amazing job with him – even in his flaws. His flaws make him human. I would say “it’s not your job to be enough for a job, a community or a relationship. Run back towards yourself.”

If you are in a business, community or relationship that is making it hard for you to see you as the work of art that you are, you need to run back to yourself. If you try to come back to yourself and you can’t get there, you may need to go back to the artist. You may need to see yourself, the art, through the artists’ lens. You may need to rehear the story of you. You may need to redo those things until you see the work of art, until you cherish it, until you see what the artist sees. I want you to know this so deeply right now that you stop what you’re doing and find a way to run back towards yourself.

This isn’t to say that we can’t reach for more. We can always reach for more. But our reaching for more isn’t because we aren’t enough, it’s an expression of stewarding the art. Stewarding the uniqueness of the piece, our unique gifts and abilities. “I’m enough and I’m want to honor the work of art that I am. I will honor myself by growing my gifts and abilities. And by serving others in new ways.” Reaching for more is not an expression of realizing and internalizing that we aren’t enough. “I’m not enough so I need to prove to the world, my boss, my community, my spouse that I’m worthy only if I am or am producing through the lens in which they see me.” Reaching for more is knowing you are already enough – you’re a freaking work of art.

You are the only one like you. There’s no one else that can be you better than you. You were not created by accident. You were created by design.

“God saw all that she had made, and it was very good.” Genesis 1:31

Encourage You Challenge

Do you see yourself as the work of art that you are? Do you need to run back to yourself? Do you need to take some time to see yourself through the artist’s lens? Do you need to rehear the story of you? Go back to the blog post dated June 25th, 2021 and follow through on the Encourage You Challenge.

This is also a great time to check in to make sure that you are spending time in work, communities and relationships that see you and appreciate you for who you are and how you were made, with your unique gifts and abilities.

Another perspective on this is that there are times when we come to the table in a new job or relationship and we show up as something other than ourselves. We show up as someone else because we don’t see ourselves through the artists’ lens. We aren’t convinced that who we are is enough. However, the business or new relationship might love who we are and what we bring to the table. If this is the case, run back to yourself. It’s what the other party was interested in in the first place. They saw what the artist created and they were moved to be in relationship with you.  

Encourage Her Challenge

I also want to encourage you to Encourage Her. Is there a woman in your life that needs to hear from you about how you see her, as a freaking work of art? Does she need to be encouraged that she’s created by design? Does she need to be challenged in her work environment, her community or her relationship? Is she seeing herself through a broken lens? Could you take a moment to send her a text, give her a call, write her an email, or drive to her home and tell her face to face.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena

What if you believed you’re already enough?

Photo Credit: Red Bird Hills, redbirdhills.com

What if you’re already enough?

I turned 40 in December.  Naturally, I know a lot of other friends who’ve recently turned 40 or are about to turn 40. I’ve heard so many women say that the 40’s was their favorite decade. I can see that will be true for me as well. I’ve also seen a lot of women feel stressed going into a new decade. It makes me sad. In a text conversation last week with a friend, she wrote to me “My goal is to be my absolute best self by 40!” The statement made me almost fall off my chair – if you knew this woman, you would just die of pride. She is everything! She’s a strong leader, a good friend, a great mom, So Accomplished! It literally took my breath away. That statement triggered something in my heart. It first triggered a memory of a not so distance past where I felt the same way, always in a pursuit to change myself. Then it triggered a protective response, I wanted to say “Don’t talk about this amazing woman with anything less than total awe and gratitude. However, my actual response was to simply offer “you already are your best self.” It wasn’t just the nice thing to respond with, I meant it with my whole being. She is already enough.

Three years ago, if someone would have said that to me, I would have immediately responded with some sort of agreement as to the areas of myself that I needed to improve. “Yes, I’m with you. This year I want to lose weight, improve my work results, drink more water, add mileage, be a better mom and of course, clean up my diet.” As an afterthought, I’d throw in some sort of spiritual goals just to make sure the person on the other side of the table knew how holistic I was when it came to my overall mental, spiritual and physical health. I knew this game well. Let’s make sure that we aren’t just self-hating in the privacy of our own minds and hearts, let’s make sure that we self-hate as a community of women. If we self-hate in community, in a weird way, we’re actually encouraging each other…WTH!  I look back on this now and want to grab that woman, pull her into a bear hug and tell her over and over “Elena, you are already enough!”

In sales, business and in professional circles, we call this behavior “negative self-talk.” I actually think that dilutes the actual behavior. It isn’t just negative self-talk. It’s self-hate and self-bullying. If we perpetually treated and talked to other people the way we treat and talk to ourselves, it would be considered verbal abuse. Can you imagine talking to your child or a colleague the way you talk to yourself when you see the wrong angle of yourself in the mirror? By the way, your hubby/wife/significant other/stranger passing you on the street, sees that “bad angle” and absolutely adores it.

There was a specific day when I realized that my self-hate had gone too far. I could hardly think about myself without infusing some sort of garbage into my internal dialogue. I decided it was time to invest in myself and hire a therapist. I knew, in my actual brain, that there was a better way to love myself. I just didn’t know how to get there. I felt removed from the person I wanted to be and I wasn’t getting closer, I was traveling farther away.

During one of our sessions, my therapist asked me to walk through my typical morning and think about the thoughts I was thinking about myself. [Side note, if you aren’t thinking about what you’re thinking about, take this as a nudge. You need to start today.] She started the exercise and asked me to reflect on my day. We started as soon as my alarm went off. I hit snooze two times. “If you were as disciplined as your peers, you’d already be downstairs working out.” I walk into the kitchen to grab coffee. “If you were really committed to your health, you would be drinking green tea and you certainly wouldn’t be using heavy cream in your coffee.” I should have recognized this as an extreme call for help. Who is this woman and what’s her beef against God’s sincere and thoughtful gift to coffee…heavy cream? I get into the shower and see my naked reflection in the mirror. “You have completely let yourself go. You’ll never look as good as Karen. Mike probably isn’t even attracted to you anymore.” My boys get up and eat breakfast. “If you were a better mom, you’d serve them a balanced breakfast of protein, healthy fat, whole grains and fruits/veggies. You don’t have time to serve them a better breakfast because you’re prioritizing your work over your children. Do you even track how much fiber they’re getting?” Open email and read random message from boss, consultant, or colleague. “If you prioritized your work, you could drive better results. You’re letting the company down. You have x hours/days/weeks/months/years to hit xyz strategic goal, and you’re behind. Hire a nanny and home manager/personal assistant. Another option would be to enter into polygamous relationship and marry a wife to do this work. This is why your male colleagues with a full-time wife can do more than you. You need to be better. You are your results.”

This was all within the first hour of being awake. I’m so sad even writing these words.

My therapist then asked me to observe myself and my thoughts as an objective third party. How do I see Elena? How would I observe her in her marriage, in parenting, in community, in her work and her in self-love? What would I think about her as she walked through her typical morning? When I started to think about Elena from an objective perspective, the tears started to roll down my face. I was so proud of her. She was so sincere in her approach to life. She was trying so hard. She was carrying so much and she still had the desire to serve and love others more. She was striving to grow in her faith. She was doing such a good job as a momma – her boys are so well loved and growing in their faith. She prioritizes her marriage and tries to honor her husband. She cares about her work and her company. She worked so incredibly hard to drive results. She should be so proud. Why isn’t she proud? As I write these words now, the tears come back again because I remember the flood of self-compassion rushing into my perspective. How could I not see how wonderful this woman is? How could I treat her so poorly? How could I talk to her the way I was talking to her? Give her the self-love she deserves! She is already enough!

That Tuesday afternoon, sitting on the stereotypical therapy couch, crying my eyes out, was the day I made the decision to end my self-hate. I was on a mission to sincerely love myself. I finally realized, I was already enough. It wasn’t a magical moment though. It was more of a start of a journey, a journey I’m still on frankly. In weeks to come, I will share more about what that journey looked like at the beginning and how it looks now. It’s a decision I make every day to make sure the way I see myself is a reflection of how God sees me. When I see myself through God’s eyes, I see how wonderful he made me. I see the gifts and abilities he’s given me. I hold the gifts and abilities sacred. I steward them well in order to live out my purpose. I am exactly already enough to be loved and to love others. It’s a daily decision to be intentional about the way I talk to myself and think about myself.

How are you seeing yourself and talking to yourself? Is it with love and appreciation? Gosh, I hope you’re so much farther in this journey than I am. I hope you see yourself like the queen you are. I hope you catch your reflection and sing “This Girl is on Fire” (I would be remiss if I didn’t mention here that self love will also only enhance your karaoke skillz, so that’s also a valid reason to do pretty much anything). I hope you’re so far in this journey you’re already leading others. If not, please start. Share the message. There are billion dollar industries benefiting from you and I engaging in self hate. The are benefitting – no one else is. Can we start normalizing women appreciating and loving ourselves? What would happen if you believed you were already enough? How much more time, money, energy would you have to do amazing things in the world? I think it would be a lot!

EncourageYou Challenge

I want to encourage this community today to think about the way you are thinking about yourself. How are you talking to yourself? Are you engaging in self-hate? Or are you on mission to sincerely love yourself? How can you EncourageYou? What would happen if you sincerely loved yourself? Would you be happier? Would you have healthier relationships? Would you demand more respect? Would you produce better fruit in work, community, your family, your faith? Here are some things that helped me.

  1. Take the time to do the exercise I shared earlier. Take an hour and walk through your day. What are the things you are thinking about yourself? What are the things you are saying to yourself?
  2. Write a letter to yourself from an objective third party? How do you see yourself? How do you see your intentions and results?
  3. Even more powerful, if you are a person of faith, write a love letter to yourself from God’s perspective. This is actually life changing. At some point, I will share my love letter with this community.

EncourageHer Challenge

I also want to encourage you to EncourageHer. Is there a woman in your life that needs to hear from you how much she is loved? Does she need to hear from you about how you see her trying so hard. Does she need to hear that she’s already enough? Is this your wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, neighbor? Could you take a moment to send her a text, give her a call, write her an email, or drive to her home and tell her face to face.

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!

Elena