Practicing to see a change.

Practicing to see a change.

Practicing. It’s an interesting concept because there’s often no final stop – no end. At least at first. People practice until they are either bored, they can no longer continue or they reach a level of proficiency with which they’re contented… Sometimes practicing something carries on for a lifetime.

Is there something you find intriguing enough to practice – repeatedly – for an extended time period?

For a number of years, I’ve chosen a specific word to focus on for the year. It was through OneWord365 that I was introduced to the concept, and for this year – 2021 – my word is “Today”. And the idea is that I’m putting into “today” all the things I want to practice. Things like being thankful, encouraging, and other tangible skills.

With this in mind, one item I wanted to explore was to learn how to hand-letter. What’s “hand lettering,” you ask?

Years ago I called it caligraphy.

So, pulling from a list of 100 optimistic words, my practice began. And to facilitate this practice of “hand lettering” 100 words, there’s a challenge many use called The 100 Day Project. (You can learn more here.) That’s the framework for my practice.

And now I’m…

One Quarter Done

As this article is published, one-quarter of this practice hand-lettering is done, that is 25+ words of #the100dayproject is completed.

Here are a few interesting things along the way:

  • I’ve changed a few words on the initial list, (see the old list here) because practicing means change
  • gave away many of my practice pages and that helped me connect with new people who appreciated my practice lettering,
  • and solicited new words. The two new words are “give” and “share”, suggested by one of my new connections.

If you’re interested, here are the first 25 optimistic amended words:

  1. thankful
  2. hopeful/hope
  3. bliss(ful)
  4. persist(ent)
  5. merry
  6. cheerful
  7. encourage(d)
  8. assure(d)
  9. optimistic
  10. comforted
  11. enchant(ing)
  12. content(ed)
  13. pleased
  14. grateful
  15. expectant
  16. happy
  17. cherish(ed)
  18. courage(ous)
  19. promising
  20. peace(ful)
  21. glad
  22. joy(ful)
  23. zippy
  24. share
  25. enthusiastic

While practicing, things change.

This translates into so much more of life than just putting marks on a paper…

If I practice thinking/speaking optimistically, my mood changes.

Because of practicing piano, I make fewer mistakes.

When I practice putting good stuff into my relationships, they improve and grow. (Rob and I are doing 37 unique date nights in 2021 – you can never stop practicing being a good partner.)

When I pray more, I become closer to God and experience His presence in greater ways.

Practicing in any area will make a difference. Hopefully for the better!

Even though I’m not sure if I’m getting any better at hand-lettering yet… there’s still practicing ahead of me…

Things change when you practice.

What have you been practicing? What’s changed for you during your practice?

Practicing to see a change

If you’re interested, CLICK HERE to go to YouTube and see the video connected to these images.

And you can download the ammended list of 100 optimistic words for yourself – it’s a Word Document.

Plan to learn and grow.

Plan to learn and grow.

Though the calendar may be a human invention, we can usually see the differences the seasons bring – at least in our outdoor world. The southern hemisphere is opposite to where I live. Right now it’s cold in North America. In Australia they’re at the beach.

Sometimes we see the differences in our view in the mirror. (There are more wrinkles and grey hair this year.)

How do you mark moving from one time to another?

As seasons come and go, how do you plan to learn and grow?

Many people keep a calendar – digital or paper.

Some journal.

Others keep lists of goals.

How have you successfully made a record of time passing? I don’t usually do resolutions when my birthday arrives or the calendar year changes. But I have used a word to focus on… Just one word.

One year my word was “connect” and that’s the year where I made an effort to meet people who have become online friends for years. Some of those friends we’ve met in person and continue to be invested emotionally on the path their lives have taken. Tom and Debi Walters is one couple who come to mind. You can read their encouragement about marriage here, and about Debi’s word for 2021.

In 2018 and 2019 I had the same word: Thankful.

You might see where that grew into this website…

And last year my word was “Make”. I did “make” a lot – physical items, and less tangible output! My focus on making things became what kept me calm in the midst of our mess of 2020. I even completed an entire journal of collaging and 25 videos to commemorate it. What grew out of focusing only on one word for 365 revolutions around the sun became an immense amount of learning.

A plan to learn and grow was encompassed in just one word…

Writing down the plan to learn and grow.

When we pass to another year – whether it’s a birthday, an anniversary, or a calendar year – if we have a plan, (even if it’s just one focus word), there’s a much better chance we’ll grow in a specific direction.

(And yes – I believe even though I make my plans, it’s God who directs my steps. Before I choose my word for the next time period, there’s a lot of questioning and deep listening to hear His will for me.)

In this year – 2021 – my focus word is “today“. Perhaps it’s come from the past year, where it’s been completely evident that none of us are guaranteed a tomorrow… but we are here today. “Today” does have value! What can we put into it?

All the incremental actions put into each “today” will add up. If I choose to put positive things into each day, it should add up to a great year to learn and grow… regardless of how many days the Lord intends for me.

So – how to begin documenting those simple things that’ll go into “today”?

A simple planner to document how I learn and grow.

To follow through, I’m documenting what God brings into my life using a simple planner. It’s a way to record 3 things I’m thankful for each day, to plan out and document who I’m going to connect with through “snail mail”, and record a few things I’m learning – things from what I’m reading and listening to or watching.

When we’re holding ourselves accountable for making each day count, then it’s important to put good stuff into it. Sometimes we think we know what we’re planning, and then comes…

An unexpected resource to learn and grow.

In addition, completely unexpectantly, I found a new journal resource. It’s called, “All Things Are Possible: A Guided Journal for Christian Women with Inspiring Bible Verses and Creative Prompts” by Melanie Redd. I was going to give it away as a Christmas gift but liked it so much, I kept it for myself. *LOL* (I’ll be ordering other copies to give away.) The illustrations are beautiful and there is a great expanse to journal/doodle/collage. The best parts are the questions posed – they’re open-ended and thought-provoking. Rob and I often admire authors who can ask good questions.

What unexpected resources are showing up for you?

a year to plan and grow

But wait… there’s more! 37 more.

We will be married 37 years in May 2021.

It’s crazy to think we’ve been dating for more than 40 years. Yet we still need to continue to work on our relationship – to make it good… better… more… And that goes for every couple no matter how long they’ve been dating each other!

To that end, Rob suggested we plan 37 dates this year – no two will be alike – and it’ll be to grow a bit.

Sure, we’re like everybody – sometimes a date night is a movie (at home in 2020 style) and dinner. It’s easy. Convenient. And even pleasurable. But…

Not in 2021! (Or at least we’ll only allow ourselves one of those dates in front of the TV. LOL) We need a plan to learn and grow!

So… you guessed it. Another book.

“52 Uncommon Dates: A Couple’s Adventure Guide for Praying, Playing, and Staying Together” by Randy Southern and Gary Chapman”.

The book just arrived, so we will need to take time to go through that book to find the dates we both will like. In the meantime, our first date will be this week – and it’s going to be an idea from Debi and Tom in an article from 2011! I’ll post a picture on our personal Instagram if you’re interested.

Summing it all up…

We all need a plan to learn and grow. And it doesn’t need to be a big plan… it can be as simple as one word.

I encourage you to make your plan!

Do you choose One Word for your year? Or do you have favorite resources you use to plan? What are your go-to ways to plan to learn and grow? Leave a comment!

Here’s a video I did to review the book from Melanie Redd, and I also give you a little look at my planner and how I’m using it in an unconventional way… (click here if you don’t see the video player)

Need some encouragement on being thankful? Here are a few posts you might like:

Completion may be messy…

Completion may be messy…

Completion may be messy, but it does have its positives… To elaborate, I just completed something. And to be specific, I completed two different – but related projects – and have the results to show for it!

Completion may be messy but it feels good. Here's a project (or two projects) that I've completed - 30 little Hymn Journaling booklets.

Do you enjoy the feeling of completion?

Rob, my husband, is a great proponent for the value of Achievement. And in his vernacular, completing something is a part of the achievement. Needless to say, he’s very happy for me. Our adult children have also encouraged me along the way and complimented me on finishing.

But it’s been messy. Yes, completion can be messy.

All the paper bits and pieces, all the inky and glue-y fingers, and all the embroidery thread and everything else strewn around our living space is messy. I don’t have a dedicated spot to craft, so use our dining area until it’s time to clean up when we have a meal as a larger group.

One solution to the “paper-poop” (so named by a fellow crafter) has been a sticky clothes roller to use on the carpet to pick up the tiny corners clipped off of each piece of paper. This helps between vacuuming events.

Another wonderful solution to the mess has been the on-going patience of my beloved, who sees the benefits – it shows up in my uplifted mood. *wink* He’s the one who is neat and tidy, so this is a huge gift to me.

While there have been many ways to deal with the mess, one includes focusing on the end product.

It feels good when the end product works out well, doesn’t it?

Completion may be messy but it's satisfying!

Now, let’s be real here. Not everything we do in life has a start and end date…

And sometimes completing something won’t have a tangible outcome.

And that’s OK.

Don’t beat yourself up! (Hey! I consider having done the laundry a completion — at least until the next dirty thing hits the bottom of the basket!)

Regardless, I’m sure you have had experiences in life with the feeling of completion. Consider:

  • moving from one place to another
  • pulling off a festive event
  • birth of a child (or an idea)
  • the journey to a healthier “you”
  • completing an educational endeavor
  • one growing season to another (literal or figurative)

If you need some encouragement on taking a step toward a goal, read this!

What have you completed recently?

How did you deal with the mess?

And how did you feel when the project was completed?

What did I complete?

I finished 30 little Journaling booklets as homes for a project of 30 words exploring courage. For each word, I did a journaling card with portions of hymns on it. Here’s one as an example.

It was a challenge through a Facebook Group called “Jesus Journal Junkies” – August’s challenge was to use 31 words to explore how God encourages us to be strong and courageous. (I didn’t like the last word so I only did 30. *wink*)

And now I’ve completed 30 journals – one for each card.

That’s two big crafting things complete!

Along the way, I’ve “met” many other “Junk Journalers” Including Marci at the Creator’s Call Shop. She did a challenge and I WON! (insert big happy face here) I’ll show you what I won when it arrives… (or you can check out Marci’s video where she announces it!)

I invite you to take a look at some of the videos I’ve been making about the process of moving from doing to completion on my latest project:

31 Ways to Challenge Yourself

31 Ways to Challenge Yourself

A few days ago, in a post, I promised ideas on ways to challenge yourself in the upcoming month. Remember – our whole life is filled up with little increments 60 seconds at a time, 1440 minutes a day, 52 weeks, 4 seasons…

So, here they are – 31 options for your consideration.

Are you up for a challenge?

Choose one idea.

There’s a chance your little action, over 31 days, might make a bigger impact than you imagine. A good habit, growth or development, or even a renewal of heart, mind, and soul can come from simple, small, positive actions over time.

Do one for 31 days.

Just try one…

As you read through these ideas, stop and consider what it would or could look like in your life. Don’t let a negative “But…” creep in. Rather, imagine what it would feel like if you did do it!

Here you go:

1. Go to bed early 31 days in a row.

Ah, sleep. It’s a beautiful thing.

2. Drink 6 glasses of water every day.

Many times headaches and fatigue can be linked to dehydration. What if in this month you felt energized and clear-headed and all it took was drinking more water?

3. Use only cash for 31 days.

(No credit or cards.) Would you be more aware of your spending? Could that have a positive impact on your overall money situation?

4. Take a break from social media for the month.

What could you do with all the hours you spend on social media? Would you be able to pray more, move more, visit others, read a good book, or… Fasting doesn’t just mean food.

5. Read every day for 15 minutes.

Talking about reading – what topic are you curious about? When was the last time you went to the library? Find a good book and finish it in 15-minute increments. This is a book Rob and I have read that we enjoyed.

6. Write down 3 things you’re thankful for each day.

This one is huge. Many, many people have talked about the power of gratitude. I’ve been researching thankfulness for the last two years, reading books on the topic and making my own lists. Do this practice for 31 days and you’ll see an immense shift in your head and heart. Here’s a journal to print out for your 31 days. If you want a more intense experience, make each item (93+) unique. (It’s not as difficult as you might think.)

7. Eat only at home for 31 days (no take-out).

So, maybe you can’t be “at home” to actually eat, but you can make your food at home and bring it with you! The idea is to not eat food prepared by a restaurant. You decide whether that means all from scratch foods, or if frozen/prepared meals bought at the grocery store are included. The idea is to not to give your money to a restaurant/take-out and explore the beauty of re-discovering your home – the peace, the loveliness of your own kitchen.

8. Do a stretch and weight routine once a day.

If you sit at a computer for any time at all, then stretching is important! What if you stretched every day – deliberately – to become more flexible, to raise your physical abilities, and become stronger? In what way would that change your life? Weights don’t need to be fancy – use water bottles or cans. Stretching can be done in a chair. (Use YouTube to find videos to follow.) This is about doing more than you regularly do – without stressing yourself or costing money. Remember – it’s about small incremental change…

9. Complete a jigsaw puzzle – a little bit every day over 31 days.

Relaxation that you can see develop. It’s simple. Easy. Tangible. Set up a table, find your puzzle, and begin. Do a little bit each day. Rejoice over the finished end product. I’ve talked with people who like to do a jigsaw puzzle on holidays – why not build a bit of holiday into each day?

10. Initiate a random act of kindness each day for someone.

Here’s a list of 51 ideas – and another list with 75 ideas – or another list with 100 ideas. I’m sure you can find 31 ideas from these lists. <wink>. How would it change your life by being kind all month long?

11. Take a photo every day – document your life.

Your life has worth. You’ve been put here on this earth, at this time, for a reason. Use your smart-phone as a way to document your life. If you need ideas, then use this list, or this one. But you could just take a photo of the same tree, each day, as the leaves turn…

12. Go to bed each day with a clean and empty sink.

That’s the first step in an organized space according to the FlyLady – or – do her 31 baby steps! Many years ago, when our kids were small, I found The FlyLady. Her baby steps made a huge difference in our life as a young, busy family.

13. Compliment someone in your family (your spouse!) every day.

Very often we can find ourselves in a negative spiral – only seeing the mistakes, the failures, the overlooked, etc. By demanding of yourself to find one good thing, and saying it aloud to that person you love, can change an atmosphere completely! 31 days to a better relationship can begin with one compliment every day. Try it and see! (This can even be done long-distance.) Think character qualities you admire, accomplishments, happy memories…

14. Knit or crochet every day for 31 days.

Make something! And if you don’t know how to crochet/knit, then use YouTube to learn. At the very least you’ll have a gift for Christmas to give someone!

15. Send 31 cards of encouragement to friends – one a day!

Snail mail! This one will take an investment. But it’s small. Less than a Starbucks a day… How will you feel at the end of the month after telling 31 people how much you value them? Invest in relationships. Isn’t it time?

16. Give away 31 items you no longer use – one per day.

Less IS more. Really. We lived in 282 square feet for 5 years. I can say confidently, that you don’t need all the stuff you think you do. Purge. Feel free!

17. Make your bed each day for 31 days.

Come on. It’s one small action. You could…

18. No complaining for 31 days.

None. About anything. Could you? I think you can.

19. Have a conversation with a stranger every day for 31 days.

There are times in our life where we become stale – isolated – small-minded, even. Each day when you’re out and about, ask a stranger a question. (Start with the weather – ask if they’re enjoying the sun, rain, temperature, etc.) Here’s a list of 48 questions you could ask. Expand your world!

20. Listen to a TED talk each day.

They’re only 20 minutes. Learn something new in science, technology, education, entertainment, nature, society, and so many more categories!

21. Put your change/coins in a jar for 31 days.

Only use the bills and see how much you’ve saved up in one month.

22. Learn a new word in another language every day.

DUOlingo is great and it’s free! With whom would you like to connect – what language do they speak? What’s your country of origin – learn (or improve) that language.

23. Memorize 31 Bible verses.

I put together a PDF of a list to download and print with 31+ short Scripture Verses to memorize. Sometimes we need better messages to tell ourself… memorizing Scripture shifts focus and gives something to tell yourself that’s positive and affirming. Try it.

24. Pray with a specific focus each day for your spouse.

Here’s a list for women to pray for their husbands – here’s a list for husbands to pray for wives. Prayer is a positive, action-oriented way to add value into your marriage. And if you’re not married (but waiting for the right one) you could still pray over your future spouse. If you’re a widow or widower, do you have a son or daughter who is married (or wants to be)? Pray these over their future spouses. This is powerful.

25. Eat at the dining table at home at least once a day.

No social media, television or even a book. The only conversation you can have is with another human being – in person! Or enjoy the quiet. <wink> Light a candle – you can make even a simple sandwich into a romantic meal.

26. Use the next 31 days to focus on people – not your phone.

Be fully present. Pledge you’ll put away your phone when with others. Specifically, only use your phone as a source of interaction/amusement when alone.

27. Answer this question over 31 days (so, 31 answers):

“What character qualities in people, and/or which actions do you notice daily and admire? (You’re putting Philippians 4:8 into action!)

28. Bring your own lunch to work every day.

This will cause you to think about what you’re eating, and may very well cost less than a restaurant/take-out lunch. Extra points if you have something to share with co-workers!

29. Write out a Scripture verse each day.

Here’s one for October by Sue at Woman of Noble Character. It’s 31 days focusing on what Scripture has to say about worry and anxiety. Writing is a powerful way to focus your attention.

30. Explore a new place on the planet every day.

Use EarthRoulette if you need inspiration! Even if you can’t travel physically, you can in your imagination. Let yourself dream…

31. Smile at everyone you meet all month long!

You may be the only friendly face someone meets that day. It could make all the difference in their life. Sure, you might not want to give the wrong impression, so a closed-mouthed small smile counts with strangers – a pleasant expression may be less creepy than a full-out smile. <wink>


There’s great satisfaction from completing something!

Many people have seen positive benefits from using 30-day challenges to boost change in their lives; reading through their stories can be uplifting.

How could your story lift up others?

Think about it

– let’s make the most of the 2,678,400 seconds in October!

Challenge yourself to do something positive!

October Invitation to Challenge Yourself

October Invitation to Challenge Yourself

October 2019 is just around the corner. Yes, there are all these autumnal colors and themes floating about in social media, in the stores, and probably in our workspaces and homes. That’s all good.

Noticing the change in the seasons is important – it identifies how time is moving forward, even if you’re experiencing what I am… 90-degree weather. <eye-roll> Or, if you’re in the southern hemisphere of our world, October is heralding the arrival of new growth. (Because we have flipped seasonal experiences.) If you’re closer to our equator, then likely there are few weather indicators to show a change in seasons…


October is almost upon us.

A new month.

31 days to make a difference in your own life, and those around you!

How will you begin? And end? What’s going to be different, noteworthy, and extraordinary in this next month?

Invitation to challenge yourself!

You’re invited…

31 Days of …

How will you fill in the blank? What’s on your agenda? Here’s your invitation to challenge yourself:

With what would you like to challenge yourself? It’s personal. But we all still have 31 days – it’ll either be more of the same, or it can be MORE!

  • more activity: dancing, walking, stretching, travel, exploring, adventure…
  • greater achievement: learning, writing, creating, timeliness, proactivity, planning, earning, saving…
  • enhanced well-being: in positivity, prayer, eating, tidiness, relationship building, thankfulness…

Our lives are built with small habits. 30 or 31 days is a way to practice. In which areas could you enhance your life?

In the next few posts (before October) I’ll suggest some ideas. I invite you to choose ONE. Yes, just one. A single challenge for your own October.


Leave a comment with your ideas!

In September I challenged myself to post on Facebook a different hymn each day. This is part of my desire to enhance my own ability to follow-through over the long term and to make time to explore a facet of my faith. One challenge. Multiple gains.

Near the beginning of 2019, I read this book. It’s filled with 500+ random ideas on where to challenge yourself. I believe we can do (almost) anything in the short term… and isn’t our whole life filled up with little increments 60 seconds at a time, 1440 minutes a day, 52 weeks, 4 seasons…

What are you developing with your little increments of time?

If you need some ideas, stay tuned… <wink>

If you haven’t already – subscribe!

Be encouraged!

Until the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Until the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Just take the next step – until the ordinary becomes extraordinary!

Diligence. Perseverance. Dedication.

These three values are where the excellence shows up and what makes the ordinary become extraordinary…

Just think about it: we all have 24 hours in a day. Every. Single. Person.

Each year is made up of 8760 hours.

The difference between an ordinary day and an extraordinary life happens in the hours we diligently persevere with a dedication to our goal.

One hour at a time.

A step.

The next step.

Until the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Even if it’s only one step every hour, it’ll still bring progress…

You can do this. Every ordinary person can live an extraordinary life. One step at a time.

Just take the next step!

Three words can transform your ordinary into extraordinary. And they're achievable by taking just the next step. You can do this - Read more!

“Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.” 

~ Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Samuel Johnson was an English literature poet, playwright, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor, and lexicographer.

Despite many physical afflictions, including

  • childhood tuberculous scrofula resulting in deep facial scarring,
  • deafness in one ear
  • blindness in one eye,
  • gout,
  • testicular cancer,
  • a stroke in his final year that left him unable to speak,
  • his autopsy indicated that he had pulmonary fibrosis
  • along with cardiac failure probably due to hypertension
  • and displayed signs of depression
  • and Tourette syndrome,

he persevered. (Read more about his life here.)

One of his notable works was a dictionary. Can you imagine the detail it would take to write and compile a dictionary?

One word at a time until the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

Samuel Johnson’s dictionary took 8 years to complete and was the most commonly used and imitated for the years between its first publication in 1755 and the completion of the Oxford English Dictionary in 1928.

You’re extraordinary.

All of us have the same number of hours in a day, days in a month, and months in a year. That’s ordinary. But if we practice Diligence, Perseverance, Dedication, that’s where our ordinary changes…

What’s your “extraordinary” going to be?

What step will you take today?

Because you’re not ordinary… you’re extraordinary!

Courage, dear heart. Begin Again.

Courage, dear heart. Begin Again.

Courage, dear heart.

Begin again.

Each morning there’s a new chance to begin again.

You can do this.

Courage, deart heart. Each morning you have another chance to begin again. You can. It's possible. Have courage and move forward. It's time.

C.S. Lewis is one of my favorite authors.

His words hold answers to mysteries, they cause me to stop and wonder and then make me smile. I feel encouraged.

Sometimes a phrase causes me to take a breath – stop – and give thanks.

This is one of them.

Courage, dear heart.

Courage, dear heart. Each morning you have a chance to begin again.


Encouragement has the word “courage” embedded. Undeniably, reading with a positive focus will encourage you, and ultimately cause you to feel courageous.

That’s why I like “children’s” literature. Most times authors write with a bent toward encouragement. It’s rare to feel discouraged after reading a child’s book. Have you noticed? Pull out a few of your childhood favorites, and experiment…

The quote above is from C.S. Lewis’ book “Voyage of the Dawn Treader” in the Narnia series. There are 7 books in the whole story about the land of Narnia. And it’s just as relevant for adults as it is for children. Never, ever, feel like you’re too old to read a child’s book. We’re all children at heart!

Specifically, I like to read this series in chronological order – but everyone has their favorite way to read. C.S. Lewis wrote and published them differently from the land of Narnia chronological order, and expected us to make our own choice in where to start. Wise man.

Aslan in Narnia

If you step back from the Disney movie versions of these movies and read the original book series, you’ll realize, eventually (or possibly very quickly) that Aslan is special.



Ultimately, discovering why that’s so will be a beautiful adventure, should you choose to accept it…

In the meantime:

My wish for you today is to hear that small, still voice whisper…

“Courage, dear heart.”

More encouragement to keep going…

Read more – click HERE

You haven't come this far to only go this far. Just do the next thing.
Learn how to be optimistic.

Learn how to be optimistic.

Learn how to be optimistic. Basically, you aren’t required to be born a positive person – optimism can be learned. Don’t give up just because you’re not good at it! Because there’s a way to…

Learn how to be optimistic.

But how, you ask?

If I’m being candid with you, (and my husband, Rob, can attest to this,) compared to some others, I am not naturally a positive person.


Did I really say that?

Yes, I did. I’m a learned optimist.

It’s deliberate.

It’s a choice.

I believe anyone can learn how to be optimistic, and with deliberation, choose to act that way.

If so, then all of us can take action in a strategically positive way.

In all areas of our lives:

  • in how we think about ourselves,
  • as we talk to ourselves (our inner dialogue),
  • how we make choices in our life,
  • when we interact with people,
  • in our business world, church world, and family,
  • as we pursue our side-hustle, our hobbies,
  • and/or entrepreneurial life,
  • while setting and embracing our goals – large or small
  • and everything else life holds!

Here’s the path – with 4 aspects – on how to learn to be optimistic:

1 – Begin with love.

Start by feeling love for yourself. (Yes, it’s a journey.)

Firstly, I believe I was born on purpose and for a purpose. As were you! No person is an accident. Everyone has value.

For all those mothers who long to get pregnant, and parents who are trying and trying to conceive a child, this concept of a child being born on purpose is real. (As is the heart-wrench and ache when a child dies before you can hold her or him in your arms.)

Plus, as a Christian, I believe God loves me. He loves you. There’s a plan for us. As a great example of true, perfect love, Jesus, the Son of God, gave up His life in a horrible death for no reason other than He loved me. And you. And everyone. All people. Regardless. (If you’re looking for a romance story, the Bible is the ultimate one.)

Maybe your life thus far hasn’t shown you much love. If that’s the case, I just want to tell you:

It’s not the end of the story!

You can feel loved. There’s time.

Just as you have time to love others. It’s a journey.

And you CAN!

What comes next…

2 – Be thankful. Optimism grows from gratitude.

Gratitude is so much more important than the world around you wants you to believe. Being thankful is a special sauce, a magic formula, the ultimate elixir on the way to being positive.

How do you track your thankfulness?

Being aware of what you’re thankful for is one thing. Because of this, it’s powerful when you see all the items concretely logged with writing or images.

Whether you use an app, a journal, a planner or a plain old notebook, keeping an ongoing list of all the items you’re thankful for on a daily basis is important!


Did you hear that?

I can’t think of another way to state it. Make it a habit at the beginning, middle or end of a day to list what you’re thankful for. Begin recording your thankfulness.

I challenge you to start with a list of 100 items. A while ago Rob and I did an exercise like this together and it was so much easier than it seems… From this, we realized that the greatest to the least little item provides many, many reasons each day to give thanks.

” Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

~ from an article at Harvard Health

Therefore, you can learn how to be optimistic if you use gratitude as a tool!

So, being loved and being thankful. Right.

And after that – what’s next?

3 – Being encouraged and encouraging others helps you to learn how to optimistic.

Thirdly, what is encouragement?

“Encouragement: words or actions that give someone confidence or hope and words or actions that help something to happen.”

~ from MacMillan Dictionary

To learn how to be optimistic means you understand the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is an action. It’s having hope for the future. People who are positive-focused know how to help themselves and others make something happen – something good for the future.

Optimists are confident that if they keep trying and continue to persevere, regardless, there will be an improvement.

And once an optimist is feeling hopeful, then…

4 – Optimists take action.

Lastly, some of the skills on the path to learn how to be optimistic are the ability to make a plan, work the plan and take action on the goals that’ll get you to the finish line of the plan. Does this sound familiar?

What if things don’t work out? Failure is part of the plan – it’s gonna happen, and optimists who take action have contingencies at hand to fail forward.

So, if something doesn’t work out, the optimist finds another way.

Above all, it’s about taking action – not getting stuck in inertia or analysis paralysis. Equally, if a positive person does get stuck, they look for help from another encouraging person! Do you have someone like that in your life?

Are you someone who takes action? Is there a chance you’re also a learned optimist?

Being Positive on Purpose

All in all, life isn’t always what you expect. There are curveballs…

It’s important to realize there are days, weeks and even years where being optimistic is hard. At times it feels almost impossible. I get it. I really do – due to circumstances we all encounter, I’ve experienced it and it’s difficult to be optimistic when in crisis. (Especially if others around you expect optimism from you and you’re feeling like you’re running on empty.)

What can you do when it’s hard to be optimistic?

Actively seek support. To clarify, surround yourself with people, activities, and resources which will support you in practicing:

  • loving yourself and others,
  • being thankful – in all circumstances,
  • accepting encouragement and giving encouragement,
  • and taking action.

To be transparent – that’s why this site was born. I needed something to keep my focus on remaining and then growing in being positive. So, that’s what is for… it’s for me and you!

On the positive side, there’s no end in learning to be optimistic.

You just get better at it. Certainly, it takes ongoing practice, but the benefits of practicing optimism impact everyone around you for the better.

Indeed, it’s not going to hurt anyone if you learn how to be optimistic… in fact, it’ll help make the world around you a little better!

Just because you're not born an optimist doesn't mean you can't learn how to be optimistic. Explore the 4 points along the way - anyone can learn!

Big Goals Take Many Turns

Big Goals Take Many Turns

Big goals – do you have any?

If so, it’s important to be flexible, and stay positive and thankful because big goals take many turns.

Some are a gentle arc, and barely noticed. Those turns are easy.

Other turns are like the Tail of the Dragon – 11-miles of twists in Tennesee that car and motorbike aficionados use to challenge their driving skill. Sometimes a challenge can be exhilarating.

Regardless of the severity of the turn or turns on the way to that big goal, what thinking skills do you need to navigate your way? These intangible skills will work for the easy turns and the challenging ones alike. And along the way to your goal you’re going to need these skills!

Navigating the turns in Big Goals

Traveling with our 5th-Wheel up and down the coast, into big cities and across expanses, required many different skills compared to zooming in a little car to the store.

Rob often talked about thinking in 3 dimensions – not just length and width, but also height as we navigated through our RV-ing adventures.

Big Goals also need a different style of thinking from everyday duties.

Here are some I’ve practiced and seen others do along the way to a big goal.

  1. Clarity. What do you really want? If you know what you really want, then at every turn you’ll be able to choose the way forward.
  2. Focus. Make a plan to get to your goal that includes all the turns you can imagine. Follow the plan.
  3. Review. Goals need a plan and those huge goals are probably made up of many smaller plans and goals. Review it all regularly, because there are going to be turns you haven’t anticipated on the way to the win.
  4. Flexibility. Be ready to shift. You may be in 1st and 2nd gear for a long haul before you get to that open road where you can let all the power out!
  5. Thankfulness. No matter what turn you hit, be aware of the good stuff and express your thankfulness.

and finally…

Stay optimistic.

Optimism is going to be the overarching need, regardless of all the different skills when navigating the turns in a Big Goal.

Have you encountered a turn on the way to a big goal? What did you do to navigate that unexpected shift?

Making a Plan…

Plans and goals go hand-in-hand. Rarely will someone reach a goal without one. So, how do you record your plan? How do you keep track?

I currently use notebooks – just the dollar-store kind – to keep track of what I’m working on. I even decorate the cover because I’m playing with paper these days. But I have tried other planners. Some just had the months and weeks listed. They worked just fine. And then on my way to seeking a change, I used this planner for 100 days. (I wrote about it here.)

Planning for a bigger goal requires some reflection. (The kind of thinking included in the above 5 ways.)

I found what I needed to do some reflective thinking with the Happiness line of planners. If you’re interested in what I’m speaking about, there are downloadable printables to do some reflecting and planning. Click here to see – they’re free!

If you wanted an undated planner for 365 days, take a look at this one. (Why undated? Because it’s rare that we start a big goal at the obvious beginning of a year. Life usually isn’t that simple.) This kind of planner is much more – it’ll work toward getting you from where you currently are to your big goal. If you want to, download a free PDF of a page of its style to see if this planner will work for you.

No matter what you choose – notebook, regular dated planner, or something else – your Big Goal will need some way to capture all the twists and turns. I urge you to take the thinking actions first!

52 weeks to get your focused on your plan to a big goal!
Mistakes are proof you’re trying!

Mistakes are proof you’re trying!

Don’t be afraid to mess up, because mistakes are proof you’re trying.

Persevere even when you’ve blundered left and right.

At least you’ve identified what doesn’t work.

Challenge yourself to find another option, regardless if you’ve cycled through everything you already know.

It’s the miscalculations that introduce innovation.

Mistakes do not define you.

Do we view Thomas Edison as a failure just because his invention of the Electric Pen, the Talking Doll, and the Home Projecting Kinetoscope (and more) didn’t work out the way he envisioned? Umm… nope!

Thomas Edison is known for his statement:

Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

Don’t give up. It’s that simple.

Not easy, for sure. But simple.

Keep on going.

Continue tomorrow.

Try again.

And again.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Nelson Mandela

Nelson Mandela was criticized by some for being too eager to negotiate and reconcile with apartheid’s supporters… and by others for being a communist terrorist.

He didn’t give up, even in the face of criticism on all sides.

Don’t let someone else’s opinion stop you – their view is not yours!

Someone else’s opinion doesn’t need to impact your self-worth.

Keep on. Try something different. Big goals take many turns. The ones that are not sucessful may just lead to a new innovation.

Mistakes are proof you’re trying!

Your mistakes aren’t going to stop.

There’s every certainty that you’ll make more.

Who’s going to benefit if you stop trying?

It won’t be you!

“Never give up, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.”

―Harriet Beecher Stowe

That’s what you’re waiting for, right?

The place and time the tide will turn is just beyond your next mistake.

Keep going.

You’re trying.

Mistakes are proof you’re trying!

If you’re in that spot where analysis paralysis has hit, try these 10 statements to give yourself a boost, and if you’re worried about how long things are taking, read this!

Let’s make it a positive & thankful day!

Structure your Happiness – 100 days experiment.

Structure your Happiness – 100 days experiment.

Happiness is fleeting. In my life, the feeling of being happy shifts like the weather – the only surety is a change in and out and in again of happiness.

I’m imagining you might relate? It’s rare for anyone to be happy every day. (By-the-way, being joyful is a different story from the average happy moment. Read some thoughts about JOY here.)

Most of us merely want to have more happy days than we’re already experiencing.

Just like choosing to live in one part of the continent with more days of sunshine, than a different part of the continent with fewer sunny days, we do have the choice to structure our lives to experience more moments of happiness.

Is every day sunny? No. Will every moment be happy? Of course not. However, you can…

Structure your happiness – 100 days experiment!

Just so you know, I don’t think you need a special book, app or planner to take action toward structuring more happiness in your life. Purchasing something isn’t necessary. You could design your own map, print your own tracking pages, or just use a plain notebook to make notes.

The idea is to have a plan and then track progress over a period of time.

Happiness 100 days - plan to have more days of happiness.

I ordered the 100-day Happiness Planner for my birthday a few years ago. It was during a hard time. No tragedies – just life.

During this time I felt like I needed to take strong, decisive steps to structure my days to include opportunities to feel happy. I looked at many programs, considered creating one of my own, and then – for my needs – I decided to invest in the 100-day Happiness Planner.

This resource provided certain properties I needed:

  • a short period – 100 days is just over 3 months – to try new ways to structure my days/weeks and experiment with specific goals
  • no particular dates (undated) so I could write in my own dates and begin/end as I chose.
  • opportunity for reflection – questions and room to journal my thoughts
  • planning space for daily and weekly events
  • space to record thankfulness every day/week
  • a way to track what I was learning via Scripture and actively listening in church services
  • positive affirmations (although, I replaced some with God-honoring statements for the ones I didn’t like.)
  • and more – you can read about the 100 Day Happiness Planner here – I liked this resource so much that I became an affiliate.

This site, grew out of my time working in the 100-day Happiness Planner.

What do you need to structure happiness into your life?

More happy moments may not happen all by themselves. Sometimes we need a boost, a trigger, or a tool.

I hope this site, which grew from my time of reflection, can be a boost and trigger for your life. My goal is to provide positivity and gratitude prompts so we all have what we need to add some happiness into our life.

What other tools to structure happiness could you use?

Maybe you need to focus on adding some healthy boundaries to your life? This is a good book to learn how to do that.

Perhaps you feel it’s time to pursue deepening your marriage.

  • Rob and I talk about this book with couples all the time. It’s practical and easy to implement, no matter in what state your relationships exists.
  • Or maybe your marriage is just fine, but you need to do some planning as a couple – this is an excellent resource.

Have you ever done a “vision board”? In simple terms, it’s a collection of photos/images of what you’re working toward pasted or printed onto one paper. (I couldn’t find a resource to link to here, so I guess I’ll be creating one in the future!)

What other tools do you need?

Leave a comment – what has helped you find more happiness in your life in the past?

structure your happiness with the 100 days of happiness planner
Click here to explore this resource – but remember, it’s not necessary to buy this – you could do it on your own if you feel motivated…
structure your happiness - 100 days Happiness Planner
Have you made a list of those things which make you happy? Ranking items is a powerful way to make this idea real…
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Practice Realistic Optimism

Practice Realistic Optimism

Go ahead. When you’re practicing realistic optimism it’s part of the process to identify and acknowledge the constraints.

Because there will be obstacles and issues. Bad stuff happens. We have dilemmas and barriers.

Nothing is perfect. Ever.

But don’t stop there!

What you do after you’ve identified the constraints makes all the difference.

Realistic Optimism

Here’s a short video by Caroline Webb on realistic optimism – please invest a few minutes to watch it!

(If you can’t see the video player click HERE to go to YouTube)

Identify the Wriggle Room!

Caroline Webb, Economist, and former McKinsey partner says,

“Acknowledge the constraints, then identify the wriggle room within and around them…”

This process is what she calls realistic optimism.

What is the ideal?

What’s the first step toward to ideal?

  • where have you succeeded before – use that!
  • how and what have you learned from past endeavors that you could translate to this?
  • who could help you get a step toward your ideal?

Optimists (realistic optimists according to Caroline Webb) get into discovery mode once they’ve acknowledged the constraints…

In which area do you need to enter discovery mode?

In which areas could you get out of your fight or flight mode and into discovery? Where can you identify the constraints and move on toward the ideal situation? Leave a comment!

On a personal note, perhaps one of the reasons I found this interesting is because of my values. Rob and I have identified three shared values as a couple: Loyalty, Optimism, and Discovery. We use our values when we make decisions. If you’re interested, you can read more about this idea of shared values and our value of discovery HERE.