Fall Leaves

Somehow it still surprises me whenever the seasons change. I see it coming on the calendar, but fail to prepare for the real life process of letting the weather, my wardrobe and the family activities shift into a new experience.

In our work lives, we go through different seasons as well – times when we are intently focused on building greater security, times when we crave riskier passion projects or times when our personal lives will require more of our attention. Yet often, our circumstances shift and we fail to notice that a new season has started. We may continue plowing along with mismatched expectations for the role work can and should be playing in this new phase of our lives.

Your life stage and your work dreams are intimately connected.

This week’s intention

Assessing your unique work needs requires spiritual reflection and there is no “one size fits all” plan for what you should be doing in any particular life stage. I’ve known people to birth successful businesses or thrive in demanding jobs in the midst of life circumstances that would make me pause on my work aspirations, while they aggressively charged ahead. So don’t assume the stage dictates the changes you need to make. Instead, set the intention to take time to consider whether the seasons of your life are shifting and how that impacts what you need from your work.

What has changed or will soon be changing in your life?  Some examples may be:

  • You are exhausted, managing a family crisis, have a high-needs child or are taking care of an aging parent – is it time to take a safe or more stable assignment to refocus your energy at home?
  • Your children are older, your parents are gone or you’ve stepped back from another significant obligation – is it time to birth a new dream with your expanding capacity?
  • You’ve finally saved enough to be reasonably secure or you’ve grown bored with the status quo – is it time to take more risk in your work life?
  • You’ve been battered by grief or weathered a personal crisis (health, financial or emotional) – is it time to use the wisdom you’ve gained toward a new purpose?

These are only examples of shifts you might be going through.

My intention is to examine my life and assess the role work is meant to play during this season.

This week carry this intention with you throughout each day. Bring it to your prayer and meditation time. Set aside time to journal specifically on this topic. Ask God what is next for you and expect to hear the answer.

More on this next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Spirtual ServiceIf this weekend in Virginia is any indication, I will soon be packing up and putting away the items that served me well this summer. Whenever I switch over my closet for the winter, I inevitably find a lost item (usually a bathing suit) I failed to unpack. I look at it sadly, knowing that I missed an opportunity to use and enjoy it.

In our work lives there may be entire parts of our personalities that never make it to our place of employment. They stay “packed up” and reserved for our personal or spiritual life. Which brings us to our focus for this week – giving ourselves permission to bring our fullest self out into the open and especially into our work lives.

Your true self is the only person capable of your highest work.

This week’s intention

What part of yourself has the world told you to play down or put away entirely to be successful? Did being naturally sensitive turn into being “too emotional” to be viewed as a steady leader or a shrewd negotiator? Did being naturally expressive create too much transparency for workplace politics? Have you been made to feel that wanting a balanced life was a sign that you aren’t motivated enough or not a team player?

This week we need to drag out all of the glorious traits, desires and needs we have packed up and put away in the name of being someone else’s definition of the right kind of leader, colleague or employee. The version of ourselves we bring to work attracts our future opportunities. Do you want to steer yourself to a work environment you can fully thrive in or do you want to “fit the mold” even if that keeps you at a place that isn’t right for you?

My intention is to honor my authentic traits by allowing them to show up in my work life.

This week we are setting an intention to let our fullest and truest selves rise back to the surface. What are you like at home? What were you like as a child? Is this the person you are bringing into work each day? If not, take this week to reflect on what parts of yourself may be packed up and why. Bring this intention to your prayer, journaling and meditation time. This may not seem like much of a task, but it is an important step toward finding and doing your highest work. The world needs every bit of who you really are.

See you next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Wish

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you want more from your work life. You dream of getting up on a Monday morning filled with joy to do work that matters. You want to rise full of energy ready to engage in work that not only pays your bills, but expands your consciousness and reinforces the spiritual life you are trying to lead.

That’s the dream. It’s an amazing and achievable dream, but it is not yet your reality. It may not be the reality of anyone you know. Do you believe it can be for you?

Dreams come easy. Believing in them is hard.

This Week’s Intention

The first step of creation is always sparked by an intention. In this case, our intention is to open ourselves up to the vulnerability of believing in this dream. I’m not talking about thinking about the dream. I am talking about embedding this dream deep in your heart and soul. Maybe you had this dream once upon a time and you gave it up. You’ll need to bring it back to life.

My intention is to believe that joy and fulfillment from work will be my destiny.

Believing is all I want you to focus, pray and mediate on for this week. It is where we have to start our journey together if you hope for a better work life. Is what I described above your dream? Are you willing to truly believe in it?

Once your intention is set, bring that intention to your daily prayer, journaling or meditation time this week. Say the words to yourself before you begin each workday. You may need to say it more often if you find yourself exhausted or especially irritated. We’ve all been there, but we don’t have to stay there. For now, just believe.

See you next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Openwounds

Has your August been a month of relaxation, anticipation or a mix of both? If you’re like me, you may be feeling more anxious than peaceful this week.

I’m a bit nervous about the start of the school year and the ramp up of my work travel. I wonder if September will bring new projects or opportunities I haven’t planned for. I worry that my days (especially weekdays) may become overburdened with tasks and responsibilities.

My workload is about to shift, but I don’t know if I’m ready.

This Week’s Intention

I want to quickly connect before the relaunch of Simply Service on September 3rd. The purpose is to get you thinking ahead about what you want from your work and life experience this fall. My hope is to help you set a clear, specific and guiding intention for whatever is about to come your way.

My intention is to ease into this next season ready to appreciate each day and energized for the work ahead.

I want to stay mindful of the gift that each day holds and trust that I am capable and prepared. I will spend this last week of August placing this intention deep in my heart when I meditate and pray.

I hope you will take some time this week to reflect and set the intention that meets your unique needs and will serve you most in the days to come.

See you next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Blossom

Simply Service was launched in 2013 with a broad focus to include the philanthropic, volunteer and relationship aspects of service. I thank you for being a part of that vision as a frequent reader and subscriber. Your comments, support and questions shaped my life in many ways.

After much reflection, Simply Service will be officially relaunched on September 3, 2018 centering specifically on the career and work life aspects of service. My goal is to create a site that will support you as you discover and birth the work of your life. To learn more about the new site, please visit the updated Purpose page. To learn more about me and my work, please visit Kourtney’s story.

Let’s stay together.

I wanted to give you time to consider whether your work life is all you hoped it would be and if the new Simply Service site would be of value to you. If so, I hope you will stay with me in this next season. All content from previous years has been archived under the category “Older Content”. If there was a post you loved from that time you can still find it on the blog.

I look forward to connecting again soon.

Art Child

Last week, my husband and I took a cruise to celebrate our anniversary. We love traveling together and enjoy being on a cruise ship. This year, we choose to travel on one of the largest ships in the sea. It was massive and had a number of features we had not experienced on previous cruises.

One of my favorite features was finding art in every stairwell, landing and hallway. Each piece of art was curated from a different part of the world. They covered countless countries and cultures. With the luxury of free time, I stopped at different pieces to read about the artist and his/her inspiration.

Each piece took on a new meaning when the artist’s background and what they hoped their work would bring to mind was explained.

Context changes everything.

Unfortunately, context is rarely obvious at first glance. We have to dig deeper to understand the context behind a piece of art. We have to do some research to understand the context of quotes or religious scriptures. We have to build relationships and ask questions to understand the context of human lives, actions and emotions.

I left our trip wanting to work harder to understand the context surrounding the lives of the people around me. It is hard to serve people well if I don’t truly know them.

Here are a few questions I plan to ask more frequently (when appropriate).

  1. How did the place you are from shape who you are today?
  2. What are the one or two most defining moments in your life to date? And why?
  3. What is something people think about you that isn’t true?
  4. How close is the life you live today from the life you want to live?

These questions may be too personal to ask in some relationships. Don’t be alarmed or offended. Do feel privileged if someone is willing to share any of these answers with you. Clearly, they trust you.

Which question do you think reveals the most about a person?

 

Waterdrops

“Nothing will change if nothing changes”

-Unknown

We know the world needs our help, but it can be hard to know where to start. Start here. Some of the items on the list below are easy and some are a bit harder. Some of the items will take you 30 seconds to complete and others will require a little more time. Most of these are free of expense, but some are not. Use this list if you’re having a hard time channeling your concern over all the tragedies and conflicts in the world into tangible action. It’s our work and NOT simply our compassionate thoughts that change the world. Start small, but start today.

100 Ways to Love on the World

  1. Send encouragement to someone caring for an aging parent.
  2. Donate coats and blankets you won’t use often.
  3. Get to know someone on a deeper level. Who did they love? What did they lose? What matters most to them?
  4. Enrich a livelihood. Donate to fund a microloan to help people in other parts of the world increase their earning potential.
  5. Marvel in the power of human expression. Buy tickets to music, dance and other live performances.
  6. Make an effort to use both sides of your paper.
  7. Laugh long and hard. Laugh loud enough for others to hear you.
  8. Plant something and watch it grow.
  9. Buy art that moves you and says things words can’t.
  10. Donate batteries to keep lifesaving appliances and smoke detectors working.
  11. Shop kindly. Choose to shop from companies that donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.
  12. Say no. Knowing you can set limits will give you the confidence to serve more.
  13. Join a bone marrow registry.
  14. Raise your awareness of the employee working conditions at the companies you support.
  15. Help them live the dream and share their art. Dine at chef-owned restaurants.
  16. Tip generously.
  17. Advocate for a minimum living wage in your community.
  18. Put a Band-Aid in your wallet to give away when needed.
  19. Text someone a specific compliment. (e.g. “I admire how much patience you have with me.”)
  20. Learn the warning signs of suicide and take them seriously.
  21. Buy local produce.
  22. Hear gossip and refuse to spread it.
  23. Adopt your next furry family member at a rescue or shelter.
  24. Plant a passion for service in a child’s heart.
  25. Keep the craft growing. Support new and independent artists.
  26. Choose books that broaden your view of the world.
  27. Shovel your neighbor’s walkway.
  28. Donate your old computer to a school.
  29. Offer your home repair skills to the elderly, ill or a military family.
  30. Learn CPR.
  31. Register to be an organ donor.
  32. Be a designated driver.
  33. Choose to shop at small businesses more often.
  34. Be bold enough to ask for help. Let someone else experience the gift of giving.
  35. Make a small change to conserve energy such as not pre-heating your oven or opening it while food cooks.
  36. Be a connector. Introduce two people with mutual interests or career pursuits.
  37. Multiply the impact of your donations by joining a giving circle.
  38. Share a meal with someone you love.
  39. Brighten a teacher’s day. Send in an unsolicited treat or thank you.
  40. Treat your spouse to an unexpected display of passion.
  41. Do online research about the distinction between charity and philanthropy.
  42. Encourage someone to share their faith with you in a place where it is normally kept quiet (work, school, etc).
  43. Grant someone the freedom to parent differently than you without judgment.
  44. Bring a neighbor an unexpected gift.
  45. Register to vote or correct your voting information.
  46. Offer an elderly pet owner peace of mind by suggesting you care for their beloved pet whenever they are unable.
  47. Choose to share something shameful or painful in your past if it will help another feel less alone.
  48. Rally around an acquaintance going through a difficult time. Sometimes it’s the most unexpected acts of love that touch us the most.
  49. Act! Move beyond sympathetic thoughts. Vow to do one small thing (donate, advocate, etc.) to address a world problem that seems hopeless.
  50. Give someone the freedom to live an unconventional life and still be accepted.
  51. Donate school supplies.
  52. Offer support to a grieving soul long after the funeral.
  53. Share a piece of wisdom that only comes with age.
  54. Make a call and check on an elderly family member.
  55. Create a disaster plan for your family.
  56. Give someone a gift you made yourself.
  57. Take a walk with a loved one. It serves the body and soul.
  58. Drive cautiously and without distractions.
  59. Admit you’re biased. We all are. Facing that we have biases (racial, class, religion, etc) helps us to better address our issues and to serve more sincerely.
  60. Loan someone a book you love.
  61. Don’t let it sit in a drawer. Give your old cell phone and chargers away or donate them to a charity.
  62. Treat a pet with kindness and respect.
  63. Make a small change to conserve water such as not prewashing your dishes before using the dishwasher.
  64. Donate suitcases to foster children.
  65. Share public service information (traffic detours, power outages, flood warnings etc.) via social media.
  66. Turn off and unplug electronics you aren’t using.
  67. Pick up trash that wasn’t properly discarded.
  68. Give someone more credit than they deserve.
  69. Believe someone’s dream is possible. And tell them. They need the support.
  70. Fight indifference and don’t look away. Let yourself feel sadness when you see a homeless person.
  71. Tell someone you forgive them. And mean it.
  72. Contact an elected official via social media to quickly advocate for a global or domestic cause you believe in.
  73. Call someone you usually text and tell them you just wanted to hear their voice.
  74. Pick up an extra item or two from the grocery store to donate to your local food bank.
  75. Make a small online donation to a global, domestic or community nonprofit with a mission you believe in.
  76. Practice empathy. Take a few minutes and imagine the struggles of someone you know.
  77. Listen carefully. People yearn to be heard and understood.
  78. Thank a healthcare provider for their service.
  79. Tell someone a joke.
  80. Save someone from a work conversation they aren’t enjoying. “I hate to interrupt, but can I borrow you for two minutes.”
  81. Actually take your reusable bags into the store with you.
  82. Actually take your reusable cup into Starbucks with you.
  83. Pray for someone.
  84. Teach someone something. Anything.
  85. Get or stay committed to a recycling program
  86. Give someone you love your undivided attention.
  87. Hold a door open and wait while multiple people pass through.
  88. Take time to write a supportive comment to someone on Facebook.
  89. Hug someone.
  90. Share any online article that raises awareness of a service need.
  91. Let that busy person behind you go ahead of you in line.
  92. Leave change in a candy machine.
  93. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  94. Thank a solider for their service.
  95. Discuss with a younger relative a piece of your family history.
  96. Cheer loudly for someone else’s kid.
  97. Give away an extra umbrella on a rainy day.
  98. Keep your brain sharp and body strong. Serve on!
  99. Share this post and spread the love around.
  100. If you love them, tell them.

What are some others?

Celebrate

What a great month! In just the last few weeks, I had Mother’s Day, my wedding anniversary and last night we celebrated the 10th wedding anniversary of family friends. It was a joyous expression of their love and commitment. So much so that my feet are still hurting from all the dancing.

Anniversaries give us a time to honor the important milestones in our lives. We could let these days pass by unmarked, but by celebrating them we renew our gratitude for the original gift. On my anniversary, I was celebrating with my husband but I was also thanking God for sending him into my life. So the physical celebration was between the two of us, but the gratitude was between me and God.

Here are 4 anniversaries you may not be celebrating now, but should consider. This doesn’t have to be an outward celebration. Truthfully, nobody other than you even needs to know about it. You can just set a day to remind yourself to be especially grateful because that’s what an anniversary is all about. Letting more gratitude into your heart WILL motivate you to serve others more.

Four new anniversaries worth celebrating

  1. The day you gave up something that wasn’t serving your life anymore. Was it a substance you were abusing? Was it an unhealthy attachment to someone? A compulsion to outspend your means? A job you hated? A life that wasn’t authentic? Either way, at one time this thing had a hold on you. And now it doesn’t. Take a day to celebrate that and thank God for seeing you through to the other side.
  2. The day you met a close friend. If you aren’t sure of the exact date try to agree on your best guess and celebrate that day every year. You can do it with them if you want. But this is more about you acknowledging that they are a blessing in your life. Remember on this day that there was once a time that you could not lean on them for support, but now you can.
  3. The day you met a teacher that changed your life. This is similar to the day you met a friend, but this person may not share a friendship with you. They may have been your boss or a high school teacher. They may have been someone you didn’t even like at the time or someone that hurt you. But if they came into your life and left you forever different (for the better) you should choose to celebrate that.
  4. The day you met God. Try to pinpoint the time you first felt God’s presence in your life. This is not about religion; it’s about faith. This is the day you went from “hoping” there was a God to “knowing” there is a God. This is the day your world expanded and the earliest seeds of peace, gratitude and service started growing in your life. This day changed everything. This day is truly worthy of an anniversary. Celebrate it.

 What else should we be celebrating?

 

Justice

Disclaimer: I realize that candidly discussing what limits our ability to care about social justice risks offending someone. You may read my thoughts below and think I’m grossly misinformed and misguided. You may think I’m oversimplifying, missing key points or “missing the boat” completely. I understand that and will admit that this list is far from complete. It’s just a start. Feel free to send this around with comments about your thoughts or even how wrong you think I got it. Either way, let’s start talking about why we don’t care about each other. If I’ve gotten it wrong here (and I might have) I want you to correct me because it’s important that I get it right.

Since you decided to read this post, I’m going to make the assumption that you are a “reasonable, good-hearted” person. I don’t need to know your gender, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, racial nor economic status. All I need to know is that you are an intelligent human being capable of understanding social complexity and feeling compassion.

When discussing injustice there are two points of view – the oppressed minority and the privileged majority. You will likely find yourself moving between categories depending on the issue. For example, if the topic is racial injustice I’m in the oppressed minority but if it is sexual orientation discrimination then I’m in the privileged majority. No matter the issue, you probably prefer to discuss it with those in the same category as you. They likely share your opinions and around the same level of interest (i.e. is this consuming your world, a major issue to keep track of or simply a passing news story.) You many not want to discuss the issue at all. If you are in the oppressed majority, you have little choice but to take notice of topics that directly affect your life. But if you happen to be in the privileged majority, you have options – care a lot, care a little, don’t care at all. I’m hoping to define the factors that play into that decision?

What limits you from caring about injustice and social unrest when you’re in the privileged majority?

  • You may be embarrassed by your ignorance and unconscious bias. You may avoid topics about an oppressed minority because you’ve never cared enough to learn much about them. You’re afraid that you will accidently say the wrong thing or express an opinion that opens you up to critique and embarrassment. But here’s the thing, the oppressed minority doesn’t expect you to know much about them. Yes, they would like it if you knew more than stereotypes and characters’. They would also like it if you cared more, but it is definitely NOT an expectation. Your assumption that the oppressed minority expects you to know more about them comes from your own experience of being in the privileged majority. In the privileged majority, your experience is the standard that everyone has to learn. Minority groups don’t expect that. If you’re talking to a “reasonable, good-hearted” person in a minority group they would much rather engage with you in an ill-informed discussion that highlights your unconscious bias than to assume you don’t care about the impact injustice has on their life.
  • You don’t want to create conflict within yourself. You walk a delicate balance between privately supporting social justice and not getting so emotionally drawn in that you can’t fight the urge of making your belief more public. You know that publicly supporting the oppressed minority could create tension with the subtle and not so subtle bigots you like and love. They might be your family members or your church members (yes, unfortunately there are church-going bigots) or the people you work with. They don’t know what you support in private, but you are careful not to get too informed or too emotionally drawn in because it may mean that you have less tolerance to ignore the comments and views of the bigots around you. It may get harder to fully believe the reasons why injustice is really the victim’s fault.
  • You can’t decide which issues (and how much) you have mental energy for. You have significant problems of your own. Perhaps there is another category for which you are already an oppressed minority and you’re dealing with that struggle. Perhaps you have life circumstances (illness, grief, heart ache, failure, etc) that are consuming your every waking thought. Perhaps you just have a calendar terribly packed full of stressful work and family obligations. It’s probably too selfish to say publicly, but you have enough on your plate to add someone’s injustice. You have a hard enough time being grateful amidst your daily struggles, you don’t want to add any additional negative news nor tough conversations. You wished you cared more about injustice because clearly the oppressed minority is in a some sort of pain, but its easier to make a joke here or there and mostly ignore it. You don’t have the time to question whether it’s worth more time. You don’t have the time to debate your obligation to humanity or your faith. You don’t have the time to ask yourself what kind of life or legacy you want to leave. You’re a “reasonable, good hearted” person but you don’t have the time for justice.

What else should be on this list? What did I get wrong?

Clothes

Spring cleaning is usually a good time to rid your surroundings of unnecessary clutter. It’s also a good time to think about what “enough” looks like for you. When you have enough it allows you to reallocate some of your money from buying new things to saving for financial security, creating new experiences and investing in the greater good.

But, how many jackets are enough? How many pairs of shoes are enough? How many ties are enough? There’s a good chance that you have more than you “need” in several areas, but how much do you “want”? I hope you will take some time to think that through.

If you decide to take on your closet, attic or garage this month below is a list of questions that may help you decide what to keep and what to donate.

 Do I love/need it or should I release it?

  1. How many items in this category do I think is enough? (i.e. How many T-shirts? Pairs of sneakers? Coffee mugs?)
  2. If someone stole this item from me, how long would it take to notice it was gone?
  3. If I didn’t have this exact item, would I to buy it again within the next year?
  4. If I didn’t have this item, is there something else I’d use in its place?
  5. If someone offered me the price I paid for this item would I sell it to them?
  6. How do I feel when I imagine this item meeting a need for someone else?
  7. Would holding on to this item for one more year reduce its value as a donation?
  8. Might someone else find more joy in this item than I do?
  9. Would I give this item away to a friend that kept admiring it?
  10. After answering these questions do I feel more inspired to keep this item or donate it?

What was the hardest thing you ever let go?