Posts Tagged: 'journaling'

Where I Have Been

In recent months I have pulled back considerably from all forms of social media. My blog has sat quiet since 2017. This has been somewhat intentional and somewhat a byproduct of who I am and, perhaps most importantly, who I am becoming.


The older I get – I turn forty in December (!!!) – the greater the pull to put my personal needs first. Like so many of you, I imagine, I strive to meet each day’s goals. My ever-growing task list is at the ready. The bed is made each morning. The trash is taken out. The dogs are fed. The laundry is washed, dried, put away. And on. And on. And on.


At work and in my various community commitments and passions, those lists are just as long (if not more so). Emails, text messages, and phone calls are returned. Meetings are scheduled. (Sometimes they’re rescheduled.) Meetings take place. And then comes follow up. And follow up. And even more follow up.


Precious time with my husband, our dogs, our families brings me tremendous joy and peace. It is a balm that I find increasingly necessary in a world of my own choosing – a world of important work and human interaction on a daily basis.


Which is why my need to share Every Waking Moment and Every Fleeting Thought on social media and even this very blog has dramatically declined. Radical self care, personal creativity, knitting, gardening, reading, journaling, time alone each morning in prayer. Those hours populating my social media accounts have been replaced with daily habits that have proven far more satisfying and far more beneficial to my own wellbeing.


That’s not to say I still don’t find laughter and comfort and solace and hope in what all of you are sharing on social media. I am. These days I’m just far more selective about what I am sharing.


I have my dear friend Angel to thank for helping me find a morning prayer routine. She introduced me to the Prayerful Planner late last year. When 2017 became 2018, and I dove into the Bible each morning, I was called to reconsider my day’s priorities. And since then, my life has changed dramatically.


The Illustrated Faith community has brought me equal amounts of joy. The 100 Days of Bible Promises book was a creative exercise I gingerly joined back in April, and quickly found the melding of color and words to be inspirational. The book itself was a soft landing for so many emotions – emotions that I imagine you experience on a regular basis. Those one-hundred days changed me for the better, and I’m eager to continue on this journey.


And just yesterday I spent six hours blissfully alone in silence at the Rainforth Retreat Center. My morning hours were spent sprawled out on the most comfortable, oversized couch with coffee and in prayer. As a few passing thunderstorms moved through after lunch, I put the finishing touches on the manuscript for my next book. (More details on that coming soon. Promise. And fingers crossed.) At 2 p.m., I clicked send on an email to the publisher of my first book, Nerdy Thirty. It has been eight years since Nerdy Thirty was published, and it has taken as many years – if not more – to determine what my next foray into the book world would look like. Hammering out another collection of breezy essays could have easily come sooner, but it would not have been the book I wanted to write.


I needed to live life more, figure out the stories I wanted to share. Selfishly, I wanted my next book to be just for me. And it took me a while to determine what that looked like. But yesterday afternoon I landed on a collection of essays that I hope gives you a sense of where I have been and who I am becoming.

Intentions Versus Goals for 2016

Allow me to let you in on a little secret. The beginning of anything new – new job, new romance, new year, new you – is less about goals and more about intentions. This is a lesson I learned recently following a rich, two-day retreat lead by three wise women: Daphne Eck, Melissa Kopplin, and Abra Poindexter.


As I continue to bask in the far-reaching and honeyed glow of this experience, I consider its impact not only on my marriage and my personal life, but also my professional and community life. Finding satisfaction in these varied areas requires me to be intentional on a singular focus, with the understanding that an intention lasts much longer than a goal.


Once you reach a goal, your work is done. You obviously have the opportunity to create a new goal, but it isn’t always required. And it is far too easy to allow that goal to fade away and be replaced by bland distractions.


When you enter into uncharted waters with an intention, however, the experience is vastly different. The intention is purposely more vague to allow for greater impact. Here’s an example.


One of my intentions for 2016 is to be more present and mindful wherever I may be – to avoid distractions and fully immerse myself in my surroundings. To accomplish this requires a lot of effort: tucking away my iPhone, allowing myself time between meetings and appointments (and between home and work) to reset my mindset and truly prepare for what I have to do next. Self-care and continual reflection are a big part, too.


These steps, I am certain, will spill over into other areas of my life, producing positive and long-lasting results.


If, however, I only created my intention as a goal, it might sound something like this: “One of my goals this year is to not be so busy.” The inherit challenge with such language: it is far too limiting. It leaves me no direction, no roadmap on where I should be or what I should be doing.


As we, the Greater Omaha Young Professionals Council, look to 2016, my hope is that by December we found a similar purpose. Not that we met our goals, but that we established our intentions and kept them close year-round.


Goals are a great place to start, but true change comes from intentions. Being open to where you are now and where you will be next will only open new, exciting doors of opportunity. Get ready.


Editor’s note: Previously written for the Greater Omaha Young Professionals in January 2016.



Attempting Daily Gratitude

It seems so simple, doesn’t it? Saying “thank you.” Being thankful. Welcoming gratitude at whatever the day may bring.


This movement toward gratitude surfaced on Facebook the first of November. Suddenly hundreds of people were beginning their days with status updates focused on gratitude.


“Today I’m thankful for …”


To say I was tempted to join the conversation would be a true statement. Gratitude — in the best of times and the worst of times — is good for the soul. It centers you. It calms you. It reveals what matters most.



Rather than logging on to Facebook each morning, I reached instead for my favorite pen and a new pink journal. The journal was a gift from the Girl Scouts Spirit of Nebraska, thanking me for speaking at their YWE Lead Conference earlier this month. What better place to privately record thoughts of gratitude than within the pages of a thank-you gift?


The timing was just too perfect.


My first journal entry is dated November 2. I sat in front of my journal, a latte nearby, and just began writing. Journaling is something I’ve never quite felt comfortable doing. As a writer and journalist, my essays and articles have always been crafted for public consumption. Writing something for my eyes only rarely felt natural.



Yet I owned this new journal. Everyone around me (on Facebook) dug deep to identify gratitude. And I felt that I arrived at a place in my life where a greater focus on deeper, more meaningful issues were needed. So, I began to journal on the first blank page.


My most productive and creative hours occur before 9 a.m., which is why I strive to journal before work during the week, and before starting my day of errands and such on the weekends. Before picking up my pen and turning to a clean page, I’m certain to have a one-word answer to the question, What am I thankful today?


And then, I just write. Free writing. Unlike magazine articles and blog posts, I’ve given myself permission to write without an outline, to develop ideas as I go. From a writing perspective, I find it to be a foreign concept.


As I write about gratitude every day or two, I have unwittingly made discoveries about my own life, my behavior, my relationships with others. Such inward reflection wasn’t something I expected, but it has proven to be a welcomed byproduct. The little lessons I have learned just by putting pen to paper have made me grateful for simply that.