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I’m blown away by the creative genius involved in marketing for the holiday season. Yet despite all the clever and cheery commercials, I know that the reality of our lives during this time of year is often quite different. We don’t spend our days singing and dancing in the aisles of stores. If anything, we may find ourselves less content and focused than usual with added pressures that tax our time, patience, emotional fortitude, and finances.

In the mist of all that the last five weeks of 2018 may bring, we each have a unique opportunity to create space for reflection and spark new ideas. This process takes time because often we don’t know what we want until we spend time reflecting on it.

It takes work to figure out what we truly want.

This week’s intention

If we aren’t careful, we can end up allocating all of our mental energy over the next five weeks toward completing holiday tasks instead of reflecting on our desire to live year-round with joy, purpose, and meaning. We can look up five weeks from now having only found great shopping deals, decorated our homes and attended social events – charging into the next year without being any closer to knowing what we want from it.

My intention is to set aside dedicated time for reflection.

Instead, I want to encourage you to be deliberate about shifting your energy toward reflection. Commit to spend the next five weeks reconnecting with the truest parts of yourself through joyful activities and cultivating inspiration for what next year could bring. This week, start with two simple questions:

What brought meaning into my life this year?

AND

What topics do I want to learn about next year?

I realize that journaling is not for everyone. I recommend writing out your thoughts if you can, but if not, simply set aside time to think on each question during your commute to work. Pray about them or ask them aloud just before starting your daily meditation. Hold each question in your spirit as you take a walk outside and see what answers come up for you.

We’ll have more questions next week. See you then!


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


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Know someone else that needs peace and inspiration in their work life? Please share.

Christmaslist

“Do you remember me?

 I sat upon your knee

 I wrote to you

 With childhood fantasies”

As long as I can remember, I’ve had a favorite Christmas carol every year. I pretend that I select this song myself, but really the song selects me. Shortly after Thanksgiving, I fire up my holiday playlists and wait to see what song I start singing in the shower or while standing in an elevator. This year that song is definitely “My Grown Up Christmas List.”

 “Well, I’m all grown up now

 And still need help somehow

 I’m not a child

 But my heart still can dream”

For many people, this holiday season is bittersweet. In the midst of a season known for peace and love we are bombarded with grief, sorrow, disappointment and even rage. For some they are dealing with personal tragedies and heartaches. Many others are fighting injustices. Even more are struggling with the painful loneliness that accompanies a guarded or closed heart.

“So here’s my lifelong wish

 My grown up Christmas list

 Not for myself

 But for a world in need”

I’ve been questioning the best way to celebrate my Christmas this year. Can I ignore those in pain and dive blindly into gift giving and decorating? Should I condemn the holiday festivities I love as trivial in a world with much more serious problems?

“But heaven only knows

 That packages and bows

 Can never heal

 A hurting human soul”

Yet, I need holiday spirit this year more than ever. I need to remember what we are actually celebrating. Christmas marks the start of Jesus’ life, but as we all know, that life was not easy. It is a story with birth, enormous pain, death and ultimately renewed life. I need the reminder that our world can and will heal as we learn to love and serve each other better.  I need to be reminded to celebrate the start of change even if the journey is just beginning. And most importantly, I need the reminder that there is a divine order that goes beyond my own understanding.

 “No more lives torn apart

 That wars would never start

 And time would heal all hearts

 And everyone would have a friend

 And right would always win

 And love would never end”

This year, it’s helped me to focus on what I’d add to my grown-up Christmas list. I’m celebrating believing that those things will one day arrive. Are you ready to celebrate the holidays? Is your heart open to the promise of healing and the promise of change? Are you inspired to serve?

What’s on your grown-up Christmas list?

 

2014There is a natural synergy with the holiday season and the spirit of serving others, but January tends to be a month when we take on self improvement, self development and other individualistic pursuits. This year, I’d like to challenge you to consider adopting a service way of life instead of restricting service and philanthropy to November and December. Below are five ideas meant to get you thinking about ways to weave the spirit of service into a glorious start to your new year.

Consider trying one or two, but please don’t try them all. This will be a great year and I want you still with me come February.

  1. Take the time to notice the people around you. Many people are especially lonely following the holidays. Start in January to take more time noticing and engaging with the people around you and not treating those moments as mere transactions. This is something I often fall victim of as I can get caught up in my own thoughts and schedule. The smile, word of encouragement, or simply valuing their presence may be the only positive interaction they receive that day. Often people with numerous loving personal relationships tend to assume that everyone else has them with equal abundance – they don’t.
  2. Share your story. The New Year tends to bring on goals, aspirations and pressure to achieve perfect lives or perfect versions of ourselves. We have all been through some measure of difficult times and have failed to meet this ideal. I was an overweight adolescent, struggled with the early years of surrendering my life (and sleep) to motherhood, and still battle shame from a failed first marriage. It is important to share our failures with others just as it is important to show success to the world. People need to know they are not alone and more importantly that perfect lives do not exist. Don’t hold your story back if an appropriate moment to share it as a service to someone arrives.
  3. Try to burst out of your bubble. I consider myself a “glass half full” kind of person which in the past prompted me to turn away from topics that brought with it inherit negative emotions. I filtered my news consumption to just enough to be aware of what was going on in the world, but not enough to draw me in emotionally. I was concerned that if I knew too much I’d be emotionally engaged, but unable to help in ways that mattered or on the many things that might need my attention. In some part, this is exactly what happened when I started opening myself up to more information. I do give more financially now than ever before. Still, I know there are limits to how much I can do and for how many different things. But caring is also an act of service. This January, make a commitment to learn more about the world and how your actions (or lack of action) impacts that. I can’t and don’t serve all the things that move me, but I can align things like my consumer spending and political affiliations with my beliefs. If you are like me and hiding in a safe and uninformed bubble, spend this month making small or large steps to let the world in.
  4. Get active. Do you really want to go to the gym in January? We all know it’s going to be like a crowded zoo that will be cleared out significantly by February. I know there are many gym promotions in January so feel free to join now, but don’t start going until February. Spend January getting active in your community. We all have different passions so I won’t tell you how or where to serve, but use the spirit of the new year to push you forward and get you active. Let one of your new goals be to serve your community in a tangible way. Set a specific amount of time to volunteer and commit to it. I can promise it will be a lot easier to achieve this goal than your average New Year’s resolution.
  5. Out with the old and in with the new. This January you probably have many new gifts and toys around the house which has left some great quality items that have been replaced for newer models. Consider drawing a line in the sand and declaring your home a place where you have ENOUGH things and don’t need any MORE. That doesn’t mean that you never get new things, it just means you commit to donating things with every new purchase or gift. Do you have enough in your home? If so, spend January gathering things for donations and choosing the organizations you want to give them to.

What are some other ways you plan to focus on service in January? Tell us below. You know you want to. Happy January and serve on!