Finish Strong : A Seat for Nostalgia

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“Would you like it?”

I was still recovering from a slight case of tree envy I acquired while helping Grandma set up her new, flocked tree when she offered to give me a nativity set Mom hand-glazed and fired years ago. I’ve been dreaming of ways to bring unique touches to our home this Christmas. In this moment, I realized that even more than having a perfectly trimmed tree, this scene would serve as a reminder of how faith is central to the celebration of Christmas in our family.

We’ve closed the chapter on another Thanksgiving and December is almost upon us. In the middle of this holiday season, there is evidence of history and culture shaping our traditions.

This year, I am inspired to uphold traditions that have been part of our family for as long as I can remember. Driving around to look at lights, reading Luke 2 aloud on Christmas morning and baking cinnamon rolls will all make the list.

I’m making room at the table for Nostalgia.

What about the childhood days of my grandparents? What traditions may have been lost along the way that I might be able to restore? This might require a little digging and a trip down Memory Lane, but I have a feeling the conversation will be a treasured moment.

With the opportunity to hold to traditions of the past, we create new experiences, making memories to last a lifetime. Need a few ideas to get the wheels turning?

  • Keep the artificial tree in the box and go on a hunt to harvest a live tree.
  • Start a batch of wassail on the stove and invite friends over to watch a Christmas movie.
  • Let the warmth of candles light your home in the evening.
  • Research how people around the world celebrate.
  • Go caroling.
  • Gather the family to see the Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol or a Christmas concert put on by the local symphony.
  • Skip the mass mailing of Christmas cards and send a few handwritten notes to the ones you hold dear.
  • Go on a winter excursion to see your favorite summer view covered in snow.
  • Attend a Christmas Eve service.
  • Take the kids shopping for toys and groceries to support a local drive.
  • Craft a handmade ornament or learn to knit a scarf.
  • Bundle up to watch a light parade.
  • Add a Christmas classic to your December reading list.
  • Hunt for unique decorations at the flea market or second-hand store.

In it all, let’s discover the joy of rediscovering tradition. 2016 may be the year when we begin (or begin, again) a tradition to be carried on for generations to come!

Finish Strong : Get Outside

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  1. Inhale.
  2. Exhale.
  3. Repeat.

Now, pencil some time into this busy season to make that happen outside.

When the weather turns chilly, we retreat into the great indoors. The crackle from the warm fire, paired with a peppermint mocha and cozy slippers invites us to slow our tempo and enjoy the quiet moments. (Don’t worry, there will be more on the importance of rest in the coming weeks, but those words are saved for another day.)

There is a concerted effort to help our nation’s children spend more time playing outside and less time in front of their electronics. As adults, we could benefit from doing more of the same. We rely on the treadmill belt to help us improve our fitness and we receive information from a variety of sources, most of them louder than our own thoughts. Rarely do we invest time to increase our heart rate while breathing in oxygen recycled by the trees lining a hiking trail, recovering to the sound of a flowing stream. Taking our workouts outside might open our eyes to the wonder of the beauty around us, allowing even a few moments to listen to what’s happening in our minds and hearts. What an adventure it is to explore Creation, while talking to the Creator of the universe!

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker.” Psalm 95:6

There are six weeks left in 2016. Join in the challenge to #finishstrongin2016 by incorporating at least one outdoor workout into each week. Shred the gnar on your favorite mountain or take a walk on your lunch break. Post pictures of your adventures and share what you learn along the way!

Finish Strong : Giving Thanks and Giving Back

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Do you have friends who are “fired up” this week? You do. I do. There are voices of passion in the wake of the election. From every point on the spectrum, someone is making his or her enthusiasm or disappointment known. When our hearts are deeply rooted in a cause, we cannot help but to be moved to words. The words come easy.

“For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Luke 6:45

Our words can carry with them great force, but talk can be cheap. We can go on and on, a mile a minute, sharing thoughts. At the end of the day, where is the action?

In light of both the response to the election outcomes and my work with clients, I have been thinking about how it relates to the Thanksgiving holiday. We post to social media all we are grateful for, most commonly the people, places and things in our lives. What if we take time in this next week to come at this from a different angle? What if we consider giving thanks for the passion that stirs in us? From a place of gratitude, what would it look like to then give back, taking steps to move the needle?   We are all equipped with such unique purpose and our purpose becomes tangible when we put action to our passion.

During a walk with friends this weekend, we talked about how difficult it is to raise children to see beyond the “getting” of gifts for birthdays and holidays. Our conversation turned to ways we can show them what it means to have hearts of servants, authentically loving the world around them through both word and deed. The children of the next generation are watching us closely to see our response. If we can demonstrate this idea of putting action to our passions, they have the potential to be better equipped to heed our instruction and take it to the next level.

Start big. Start small. It doesn’t matter. Finish strong in 2016 by identifying a single act that will make an impact before this year comes to a close. Take it one step further by including friends and family to team up in giving back. It’s time we live out our passion instead of making noise.

Finish Strong : Stay in your lane.

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Today is the start of an eight-week series, designed to challenge us to close out this year with a sense of the true spirit of the holidays, discovering and searching along the way, setting us on a course to catapult us into 2017. “Finish Strong in 2016” is not a one-way conversation. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else.

In a few hours, the next chapter of our nation’s history will begin.  Our ears have been filled with the voices of each candidate, pointing out the failures and flaws of the other.  By the end of it all, it was difficult to decipher the core values and true intent of each person running.  Many voters feel they are unable to cast their vote for someone they truly believe in.

If comparison has infiltrated your own thinking, it’s very likely that your response to life is tainted by a measurement of where you are, in relation to everyone around you. We look to our right to find someone who is living a very different story than our own. Look to the left? Another story. Scroll through social media feeds to find bits of stories. You hear echoes of a story as you listen to the woman in line at the checkout counter. Your colleague in the cubicle across the way? Another story is played out and you are a witness. Our stories often cross over like threads in a tapestry and yet, our contribution is unique. Each thread composed of the fiber of our being – the individual we are created to be.

32 trips around the sun and I am still learning what it means to honor and celebrate the stories of those around me without plotting my own story on a chart right next to theirs – Happiness on the Y-axis and Success on the X-axis.

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“Sure, they just learned they are having another baby, but they look EXHAUSTED.”

“What a gorgeous wedding gown! To have found the love of your life AND have that body? I would give anything.”

“I’m surprised he landed the promotion. Whatever it takes to pay off those massive luxury car loans, right? Maybe someday my boss will recognize my talent.”

“Oh, don’t mind me. I’m over here sipping my coffee in the backroom of my retail-store-prison while they float around the coast of Santorini.”

There is a phrase that has been ringing in my ears for the better part of 2016: Stay in your lane. On August 9, Michael Phelps went up against Chad le Clos at the Olympic games in Rio. At one point, Le Clos looks over to see Phelps gain the lead. I bleed red, white and blue during the Olympics. Even so, I wanted to yell at the television screen, “STAY IN YOUR LANE!!!” I’ve been there. I’ve done that. Someone in my line of sight takes the next step on their journey and a wave of defeat takes me out.

It’s not a perfect science and it requires loads of grace, but I believe we can begin to change our attitude toward our own situation, even over the course of this next week. When we encounter the stories of others, we have the opportunity to both honor and to celebrate their present situation. The people in our lives will be encouraged by words that are spoken from a place of authenticity. From there, we get back in our lane. Their story might inspire us to run faster, swim harder, be bolder, but we cannot let it slow our pace. One glance in the wrong direction can take our thoughts into a vicious cycle that leads us to believe we have less than what it takes.

So take courage, my friends! Leave no room for comparison to take up space in your day. Today is the starting point to our strongest year-end finish yet.

Heart Stories : Cindy

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Over a year ago, I realized that I had lost my sense of purpose and personal balance. For many months, I felt like the picture of the life I was leading was becoming more and more drab and distorted. Did I know I wanted to create a better life for myself? Definitely! Did I know how to get to that better life? Hardly! So, my search for a solution commenced. That’s when I crossed paths with DeAnza, an old friend I hadn’t had contact with for over 10 years. It was perfect timing.

Since DeAnza is as personable as she is professional, I knew my desire to discuss what was missing in my life was in capable and trustworthy hands. She guided me through exercises that revealed my talents, strengths, and interests. Instantly, I saw the disparity of where I was and where I wanted to be. It was no wonder that I was struggling! That’s where the LifePlan process came in. DeAnza and I worked as a team to set creative and manageable goals to help clarify the picture of who I wanted to be as a whole person, and how to get there.

At the end of our time together, my balance and purpose came to the forefront.  I didn’t realize it at the time, but the LifePlan was an impetus that set into motion a series of transformations in my life. Some hopes came to fruition only months after our meeting. Other goals that I formerly thought were unrealistic to consider came to pass later.

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 I can’t think of anyone I would rather go through this process with than DeAnza. Focused, caring, and inventive, she offers encouragement while creating space for future growth. Nowadays, the picture of my life is so much more defined and colorful. I owe this relevant transformation to working with DeAnza. The LifePlan is a life changer!

Heart Stories : Clara

When I first heard about the LifePlan process, I honestly wasn’t sure what to think. As a Human Resources professional, I’ve seen more than my share of professional assessment/ personal inventory tools and programs come and go. Most of them have a few great kernels of substance, but largely consist of fillers and sawdust. I was willing to give it a shot because sometimes, those few kernels of substance are worth it and because I know DeAnza to be a person of great personal integrity. I thought to myself that if it was something she was investing in, I might get a better than average substance to filler ratio. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

This process takes the idea of assessment and inventory to a whole new level. When I started this process, I thought I was on the right path. I’d found a career that fit my skill-set, and felt like a match with my moral compass. On paper, everything made sense, looked great, and seemed like the job I was in was a step in the ‘right direction’. I remember thinking that just because the ‘right direction’ still hadn’t really revealed itself to me and lacked clarity, I was surely doing all of the right things to get myself ‘there’, where ever ‘there’ was. I’ve always relied on my moral compass to call the shots and I’ve always assumed that I just wasn’t one of those people who was lucky enough to be born with a calling. What I learned was that a compass is a great tool, but if you don’t have a map, you still end up wandering the desert looking for water.

The Paterson LifePlan process drew my map. It gave me the terrain, charted the geography, and gave me a sense of my destination. By walking me through the decisions I’d made, the ground I’ve already covered, and the general direction I’ve always  been heading, it gave me a road map to where I need to be. My job at that time looked great on paper, but it still wasn’t right. The LifePlan process showed me that by moving a little to the left and again to the right, I could easily get on the highway and on my way to a destination that became extremely clear.

Having a map to go with my compass gave me the confidence to take a leap and go for a job that I probably wouldn’t have gone for before, because I wouldn’t have seen how it fit with my direction. I am now in a position that is a great fit, going toward something that not only compliments my abilities, but also will allow me to be in a position to maximize the things I’m best at for the greater good. I can say that with confidence now, and that’s an amazing feeling. I couldn’t have done this without DeAnza’s patience and steady guiding hand. She’s a great companion to have on this journey and I’m so grateful to have had a chance to work with her. I can’t recommend the LifePlan enough. No filler, all substance.

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Heart Stories : Jess

Before I participated in my LifePlan, I felt lost, alone and very discouraged with where I was in my life. I felt like I had little to offer the people around me, like I was “faking it” and hoping that no one could see the pain and confusion I was feeling in almost every area of my life. When I was able to participate in my LifePlan, I felt relief and a little apprehension – I didn’t know what to expect or what I was going to take away from the experience. Going through the pre-work was more painful than I had anticipated. It really forced me to be completely honest with myself and look at areas that I knew were suffering and needed my attention.

When I first met DeAnza over breakfast, I felt an immediate connection. It was like she and I were destined to meet at some point in our lives and the timing could not have been more perfect! She was nothing but caring and attentive, asking questions in a way that made me feel safe and comfortable.

Through the entire LifePlan process, I felt empowered. I was with someone and in a space that was safe and  where I could be completely honest and open about who I was. I didn’t have to pretend or fake with DeAnza during the process. It was so freeing!

The LifePlan process helped me to truly realize what my ultimate purpose was – a purpose I knew was always there but that I had turned away from in attempts to make others accept me. I no longer feel like I have to deny who I am, what I want and what my purpose is. I have clarity, passion and drive to meet my Action Initiatives, to achieve my goals and to be proud what makes me ME!

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It was incredible to see my life on paper – standing in a room with my life literally hanging on walls was a truly unique experience. My favorite part of the LifePlan process was defining my purpose – taking words that I have said about who I am and what I want and pulling it all together was a once in a lifetime feeling.

I have achieved more than I anticipated since my LifePlan, both professionally and personally, and am proud of progress I have made since my time with DeAnza. I know that without going through my LifePlan, I would be at my one of my lowest points with little idea of what my next step would be. But, because of my LifePlan, I have clarity with who I am, what I am made to do and have steps for accomplish my goals while leaving a worthwhile legacy.

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