Thursday, July 9, 2020

Thriving in Unexpected Circumstances, Key Strategy #1

If you have a fb account, you may have seen and chuckled at the following meme:

Of course, it’s referring to the pandemic, self-quarantining, etc., of the past several months, but for many of us in the 2nd mile of life, it applies in other ways as well. For one reason or another, life has taken unexpected twists and turns, and we’ve ended up with a life we never anticipated.

I’ve come to learn there are 3 key strategies to adapting to and thriving in unexpected circumstances, and as I promised in my last post, I’m going to share one of them today. 

The first and most important strategy in thriving when life doesn’t turn out as expected is to nurture and maintain your spiritual strength.

Of course, what constitutes “spiritual strength” will vary, depending on a person’s spiritual beliefs; consequently, the path to spiritual strength will vary. 

Similarly, because every 2nd-miler and his or her personality, values, circumstances, etc., are unique to them, I can’t offer a blueprint or list of step-by-step instructions. I will offer examples or suggestions, but they are definitely not all-inclusive; each person must do what is right for them.

As a Christian, I have found that the more time I spend in prayer and in the study & application (in my own life) of God’s Word, the stronger I am spiritually. Last year, I completed a variety of Bible studies of various lengths (30 days, 6 weeks, etc). This year, I decided to participate in a Facebook group called 12 Minutes; I begin every morning by reading that day’s Scripture passage, and I follow that with a time of prayer. I also pray throughout the day, as thoughts or concerns come to mind, and again before I go to bed. I finish each day by reflecting (through journal writing) on my day from a spiritual perspective. 

A dear friend who is agnostic shared with me that meditation has helped him deal with the devastating effects of an unexpected job loss just at age 55. He explained in a recent email that “had it not been for meditation focused on the words of a wide variety of very wise individuals these past 18 months, I don’t think I could have coped with losing my job and starting over at this stage in the game.” 

A former coworker has faced several life-threatening medical emergencies and is, at age 55, living in an assisted-living facility. She has found that spending a minimum of 1 hour in solitude in nature feeds her spirit, so after breakfast every morning, she wheels herself to a garden on the property and enjoys the flowers and watches the birds and squirrels that share the space with her. 

Perhaps you haven’t given much thought to your spiritual life or beliefs in quite some time, or even not since you were a child. You will probably want to begin by considering what you actually do or do not believe (and/or believe in). There are many resources available: books, magazines, websites, professionals, practitioners, etc. It’s important, of course, that any sources you consider are reputable and reliable.
You might, on the other hand, already incorporate spiritual practices in your life, and that’s wonderful. Consider, then, how you can improve or enhance those practices. A close friend told me that while she’s been a Christian since age 12, it has only been in the last year or so that she began reading her Bible every day. A lady I met at a writers’ conference last year shared with me that reading, for the first time in her life, about the foundations and history of Judaism helped her be more intentional in her own spiritual life. “No more casual recitations of memorized passages. Now I am intentional in my faith-practices, and that has made an enormous difference in how I handle life stressors,” she explained. 

I challenge you to consider your own spiritual life and how you can develop, maintain, and increase your spiritual strength. Consider practices that fit your belief system, your personality, your circumstances, and that you can actually implement. Choose one or a few of them and apply them on a consistent basis.

I hope, too, that you’ll share your thoughts and experiences — as much or as little as you are comfortable sharing — via a comment below. What is working for you already? What are you willing to implement? What was the outcome of any changes you made?

I’ll be back in 2 weeks with key strategy #2!

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Get Ready to Make Lemonade

If it’s one thing those of us in the 2nd mile of life have learned, it’s that life rarely turns out as we planned and expected. In fact, it could be argued that we often find ourselves in circumstances that we would not, even in our wildest imaginings, have foreseen. Circumstances that are less-than-ideal, at best, and sometimes absolutely overwhelming.
Some 2nd-milers, for example, are entering this phase of life alone due to divorce or the death of a spouse. Others find themselves working full-time far past the age they had hoped to retire, and some are dealing with difficult, even life-threatening, health issues. 

And while the old saying admonishes us to make lemonade when life hands us lemons, making something good from the not-so-good circumstances that come our way is rarely so simple.

So what can we do when life circumstances don’t turn out as we’d hoped? 

It depends. It depends on what constitutes the negative circumstances. It also depends on our own personalities. What might help one person in a particular set of circumstances might actually be counterproductive to someone else dealing with a very similar situation.

But I’ve found through personal experience, talking with other 2nd-milers and experts in a variety of fields, and research that there are a few key things that anyone facing negative life circumstances can and should do. 

These strategies will not alter our life circumstances. Rather, they equip us to deal with — and hopefully even triumph over — the lemons life has thrown our way.

But before I share the first key strategy with you next Thursday, I’m going to ask you to do one thing. 

Between now and then, I want you to focus on keeping an open mind.

As I share the 3 key strategies, I may mention incorporating something you’ve tried before or that you used to do but somewhere along the line stopped doing. 

I may share the benefits of something you’ve never done. Even something that you’ve always dismissed out of hand.

I want to be very clear. I’m not going to tell — or even ask — you to do a single thing over the next few weeks. I’m simply going to share 3 key strategies. I’m going to share how I and others have personalized those strategies.

Then I’m going to invite you to think about how incorporating those strategies might play out in your life, in a way with which you are comfortable.

That’s it! 

I’ll be back next Thursday with Key Strategy #1. 

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Stop the Hypocrisy

We’ve become a nation of hypocrites. 

Adults decry bullying, demanding schools “do something”, while at the same time engaging in bullying on social media and among their peers.

We complain about the proliferation of fake news yet share without fact-checking articles on social media. 

Racist language is met with outrage. Sometimes. The same people who are outraged often use it themselves and pay to see movies with it, laugh at stand-up comics whose routines are filled with it, and spend millions of dollars each year on music in which it is rampant. 

The appropriation of cultural clothing/jewelry, even by those who were unaware of the object’s significance, is vilified. A group of white politicians wearing kente stoles and kneeling in a carefully-orchestrated arrangement is applauded. 

We expect our children to obey our rules but are angry at the teacher who catches them breaking school rules and at the police officer who catches them breaking the law. And, of course, we deliberately break the laws we don’t agree with. 

A Christian man holding a Bible at a burned church is labeled a “photo op”, but that same group of politicians kneeling while wearing, for presumably the first time in their lives, a kente stole, is not; in fact, it is applauded by many.

At least 65 % of Americans claim to be Christian, yet politicians who vow to vote for or even have a track record of voting for practices that are blatantly anti-Christian are elected by wide margins.

We demand tolerance yet do not extend it to others.

The Hollywood elite and and many wealthy individuals denounce a wall protecting our citizenry from those who willingly break our laws to enter this country. Those same people live in homes surrounded by a wall or inside gated communities patrolled by high-priced security teams.

It’s far past time for people to stop pointing the finger at the actions of others and focus on our own.

It’s far past time for all of us to truly practice — day in, day out — the beliefs and values we claim to hold, to uphold the same standards that we expect others to live by.

It's time to live authentically. 

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Challenge Yourself

That image -- all those books in one place -- makes me smile. I love books, books, and more books!

That's why I was so excited back in December to find not only 1, but 2, Facebook reading challenge groups. Both had a list of categories — book published in 2020, book by author whose last name begins with the same letter as your own, etc. One challenged readers to read 52 books, the other was a challenge of 56 books. 
Throughout January and the first half of February, I enjoyed reading books, posting what I’d read on the appropriate fb group, and reading about what others had read. And then, as if the proverbial switch had been flipped, the once-congenial, book-centered conversations on both fb groups changed. 

First, someone shared that for the category of biography, they’d read one of a famous American Christian. In less than 2 hours, there were 163 comments by other group members, 159 of which were negative — even mocking and condemning — in nature. There was very little discussion of the book itself, as had been the norm in the group; instead, the comments were all directed at the idea of reading a Christian book, at Christianity in general, etc. When, finally, a few of us attempted to turn the conversation back to the topic of the book itself without responding to the vitriol, the moderators closed comments. 

A few days later, another member posted that she was uncomfortable reading a book in which LGTB relationships were the focus. That poster faced a barrage of comments that ranged from amazement at her close-mindedness to comments wishing horrible physical consequences for their “hate” and lack of tolerance. Again, when a couple of people bravely admitted they were also uncomfortable with that category, the moderators stepped in. This time, one of them reminded members that “tolerance” and “open-mindedness” was a hallmark of the group.

I contacted the moderators of each group privately. I explained politely that I respected their right to have whatever categories of books they chose, but that I hoped that next year, just as there were categories such as “New Age” and “witchcraft”, there would be a challenge that was Christian-focused.  I explained that since, from the comments on the thread about the biography of a Christian, it appeared most participants were not Christian, that would indeed be a category that required participants to step outside their comfort zone. Or, better yet, simply broaden all categories so that they were challenging but more neutral.

I  heard back from both moderators. Both indicated that categories such as those I mentioned would not be included because some participants might be offended and because they do not want to “push any agenda”. Hmmmm . . .   

I didn’t bother to respond. I merely left both groups and continued the challenge on my own. 

But the whole experience made me sad. Sad that in a community of people who love to read, who want to challenge themselves to read beyond their normal genres and outside their usual preferences, the majority of participants was unwilling to do so. Perhaps even worse, the overwhelming number of readers who were championing tolerance of others vilified anyone who did not conform to their philosophies and worldview.

I’ve thought of starting my own fb reading challenge in 2021. A group with categories broad enough to challenge participants and encourage them to try new things *without* forcing them into specific philosophies or world views. A group in which members focus on the books and are respectful of those who disagree with them. 

I’ve been jotting down and ideas and have created a fb “page” (not yet public). I hope you’ll consider joining! 

I’m curious. What categories would you like to see included in a (book) reading challenge? 

If you're interested in being part of the challenge, follow my author page on FB (Patti Miinch). I'll be sharing information about the group in late November. 

Thursday, May 14, 2020

The Domino Effect

My grandma taught me how to play dominoes, the basic kind where each player tries to make the dots on all the “end” domino-halves add up to a multiple of 5, when I was about 4 years old. Since then, I’ve learned several other domino games, and I enjoy playing every single one.

One thing I’ve never enjoyed doing with dominoes, though, is building winding patterns of dominoes set on end before toppling one domino to cause the remaining ones to fall, one after another.

The domino effect. 

The domino effect occurs quite often even without dominoes. I start what promises to be a simple task, and before I know it, I’ve got five more that need to be done.

It happened to me yesterday. I was searching for just the right Scripture to have embroidered on a gift for my new grandson (and yes, he is absolutely adorable!). I went through my Bible, looking at verses I’d hi-lited or annotated, and I searched on line using a few Bible apps and google. The perfect verse eluded me.

Something told me I’d find just what I was looking for in one of my books.

And the first domino fell. 

I pulled from the bookshelf any book that I thought might contain what I was searching for. As I did, I was somewhat embarrassed at how many books I own that I haven’t yet read. 

I decided that after I found the perfect verse for my grandson’s gift, I’d pull from the shelves every single unread book, put them all in a pretty basket by my bed, and then read them all before the end of 2020.  

But first, I needed to find a Scripture, and I did.

That done, I went to the storage area of the basement and found that basket I knew would hold look so cute underneath the cute little piano bench next to my bed. 

More dominoes tumbled over.

By the time I was finished, I’d . . . 

    pulled the unread books from the shelf

moved a couple of large bins of things I really need to sort to the front of the basement (so I don’t  
         forget) while searching for the basket

      found the basket I had in mind
  discovered the basket wasn’t nearly big enough, but that it’s the perfect size to hold 
                  magazines under the coffee table

                         gathered the magazines from the bottom of the bookshelf and put them in the basket

                rearranged the books I have read to create a shelf (or two or three) to hold the
                                unread books
I always thought that lining up dominoes just to knock them over again served no real purpose and was just a waste of time. But in life, the domino effect can bring some pleasant surprises. 

A simple search for the perfect Scripture led me to some nearly-forgotten treasures to be read. 

Who knows how many more dominoes will fall as a result!

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Journaling with a List

I don’t remember when I first began keeping a journal, but I do know that by the time I was in fourth grade, I was recording my thoughts almost every day. 

I journaled just before going to bed. I’d retrieve my journal from its current hiding place and my favorite pen from my nightstand drawer. Then I’d pull back the side curtain from the canopy bed that my grandmother had converted, with a little help from me and inexpensive sheer curtains from the Sears catalogue, into a four-poster

Cocooned inside, with only the light from the clip-on lamp I’d attached to the bed’s headboard, I’d write. 

I was never a “I did this or that” type of journal-keeper. Instead, I poured my heart onto the pages of my journal. My dreams, my hurts, my hopes, my frustrations, my crushes . . . all recorded and then hidden, not to be seen by anyone else’s eyes.

As a lifelong journaler, I was intrigued by a recent blog entry by Cathy Baker, a writer I greatly admire. In it, she talks about keeping a topical list journal. 

I had an unused dot-matrix insert in my traveler’s notebook. Back in January, when I set up my bullet journal and inserts, I didn’t really need it.  But I had room for it, so I inserted it in the back. I knew that its purpose would eventually show itself, and it had. 

I’ve been creating a topical list journal for a few weeks now and am so excited about it that I wanted to share Cathy’s blog post with you. 


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Where's the Romance?

"Where's the romance?"
The literary agent sitting across leaned forward slightly, looked at me quizzically, and waited for my answer. 

"Actually, there is no romance. It’s a book about a woman who learns to find happiness despite the lack of romance in her life,” I responded.

"But it's expected. That's what will give the story a happy ending."

I wasn't surprised by the agent's response to my pitch for my (in-progress) novel. You see, I'd gotten the same response, almost verbatim, from a different agent a year before. 

No, I wasn't surprised.

I was disappointed.

Of course I was disappointed that when I pitched my idea neither agent showed any real interest. Any writer would be.

But it was more than that. 

I was disappointed because it seems, that despite claims to the contrary in workshops, interviews, and keynote speeches, many editors don't want something new, a plot that's innovative. No, they want to keep churning out the same plot found ad nauseum, with the exception of mysteries and police procedurals, in women’s literature today. 

If you’ve ready many women’s fiction books lately, you probably  know what I mean. Does any of this sound familiar?

A newly-widowed, financially well-off woman wanders through her too-empty house or a woman discovers that her husband is leaving her for a younger woman with whom he has been having an affair. 

After spending most of her adult life as a wife, and perhaps a mother, and facing an uncertain future, she decides — or her circle of 2-3 very close friends point out to her — that she needs to rediscover the woman she once was and fulfill the dreams that younger version of herself.

She heads off to a beach, probably to visit the family beach cottage she visited every summer while growing up OR she learns that Aunt Gertrude, an eccentric aunt with no children of her own, has left her a charming home.

Either way, off she goes. She settles in and within days sees a handsome, well-dressed man unloading groceries from a sports car at the cottage/house next door. 

And yes, you know where it goes from there. They meet, sparks of interest are followed by fireworks of new-found love, and then comes trouble in the form of disgruntled children, returning exes, fear of commitment, etc. Of course, in the end, love prevails. 

I have nothing against happy endings; in fact, I love a happy ending. But I also like books with characters and plots I can relate to. 

But I and not a single one of the widows or divorcees I know — and I know more than a few of them — live a life even remotely similar to the protagonist in the plot outlined above.

No charming cottage. No hefty bank account. No handsome, wealthy next-door-neighbor. No fireworks. Not even a spark. 

But they’re happy. 
So you see, it’s not just romance that gives a life — a story — a happy ending.

A few days after the editor informed me that without romance a woman’s novel won’t sell. I came across a wonderful quote by Beverly Cleary:

       If you don't see the book you want on the shelf, write it."

And that is exactly what I’m doing. 
So stay tuned!
Do you agree? Does a women’s literature book need romance to have a happy ending? What do you look for in a good book? Join in the conversation by sharing your thoughts via a comment. 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Try It On For Size

Once you’ve taken the time to examine your life and to determine what aspects you want to keep, what to alter, and what to totally eliminate to create a life that is more authentic, more what you want and can be most productive in, you might feeling discouraged or even apprehensive.

As you look at your blueprint, what you want may seem impractical or even impossible. Maybe you’re simply not sure the steps you need to take — and can take — are the right ones, and you don’t want to burn any bridges. 

That’s completely understandable. And there’s a solution to your dilemma, a way to find out if a proposed change is right for you. 

The majority of changes people contemplate can be tried on for size. Some may take a little ingenuity, but every proposed change people have ever shared with me has been doable on a smaller scale or on a trial basis.
If you dream of selling your 4-bedroom, 3-bath home and moving into a tiny house now that the kids have moved out, for example, you can easily try the tiny-house lifestyle without selling your current home and making such a drastic move. 

If, for example, you are absolutely sure you want to downsize but just aren’t sure a tiny house will be big enough, experiment a bit before you list your home. Determine a square footage you’re comfortable with as a starting place. Measure a space that size within your existing home and mark it off with electrical tape (on the floor). Put everything you plan to sell or give away in a bedroom, the basement, or the garage, and move everything you want to keep in the space you’ve marked off as your new living space. Live in that space for 30 days — or more — to see if it’s doable. If you find that the area you’ve marked off to live in is more than adequate, adjust the tape to make it smaller and try for another 30 days. 

If you find that at this point in your life you can’t live within the square footage of a tiny house, you at least know how small you can live in comfortably. List the large house and look for either a smaller home or an apartment that is as close as possible to the size you were most comfortable in as you experimented. Who knows? Maybe after living in a 2-bedroom apartment for a year, you will find that you’re ready to go even smaller. Experiment again and see if that’s the case.

You may not want to use electrical tape to create imaginary smaller rooms or move to a smaller space, only to move again into a tiny home at a later date. You can always rent a tiny house and live in it on your next vacation.

Do you dream of retiring in 2 years to travel around the country in an RV? You can try out that lifestyle by renting an RV on weekends and on vacation and taking mini-trips. If boats are more your style, rent a houseboat for a weekend or several weeks at a time. 

What if you dream of quitting your stressful corporate job and developing a home business? Unless you have a really large nest-egg to live on until the home business produces the income you need, it’s probably not feasible to leave your current job. But you can “try on” being a small business owner. Determine the type of home business you’d like to develop and get started, working the new job an hour or two every evening and on weekends. At the same time, put as much of your income as possible into paying off any debt you have and squirrel it away for a cushion when you do quit your day job. Sell off any unwanted items sitting around the house and put that money into that account as well. 

Or perhaps you simply want to change careers. Consider what you’d rather be doing and look for either a part-time job or a way to volunteer in that field. A former colleague was, after 15 years on the job, unhappy in her job as a high school secretary. She began volunteering several hours of week at her local public library; 7 months later, she applied for and was hired as an assistant librarian in the reference department. She’s currently taking online classes to earn her library science degree and hopes one day to be a head librarian. 

Another friend is planning to retire January 1, 2021. She has always dreamed of working with children in underdeveloped countries. She has completed the application and screening process of a well-respected volunteer organization that utilizes adults of all ages in its program, and she will be using her 3-week vacation this summer to volunteer as an English-language teacher to children overseas. She shared with me that if this experience goes well, she will apply for a short-term assignment that begins right after her retirement.

These are just a few possible changes and a few ways to try them on for size before making a commitment. 

Look at your blueprint for life redesign. For each change that is perhaps a bit bigger than you’re comfortable making all at once or that involves something totally new to you or that you’d like to try out first, make.a list of ways you can do that and then try out one of them and go from there.

Trying on something for size is a great way to see if a proposed life change is the right one for you.

I’d love to hear about how you’re going to try on a life change or about your experience doing so! Please share via a comment. And if you can’t think of a way to experiment with something on your life redesign blueprint, please share. Perhaps someone in the community has an idea or two that might work for you.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Decisions, Decisions

We do it 35,000 times a day. 2,000 times every hour. Once every 2 seconds.

We make a decision.

Some we make with little thought, and rightfully so. We see a stop sign, and we slow down and then stop before entering the intersection.

The problem is that we make far too many decisions with little or no thought at all.

We are such creatures of habit that even when we have options, we often select the same one over and over, even if the consequences are less than ideal. For example, for many years I didn’t eat breakfast. I knew that starting the day with something healthy with protein was what I should do, and even though every once in awhile I promised myself I’d eat whatever healthy breakfast food I put before my children in the morning, my “breakfast” of choice was usually a soft drink consumed while driving to work. When it wasn’t a soft drink, it was a Snickers bar!

If we aren’t acting out of habit, we often make choices on the spur of the moment. We don’t take the time to consider the options available to us, and their ramifications, until it’s too late and the damage of our collective poor — or just not-best — choices catch up with us.

No matter why or when or in what situation our choices are made, they add up. As Jean-Paul Sartre said, "We are our choices."

It's important, then, that as we make decisions, we make not just good ones, but the very best ones.

But how do you do that?

It’s really not difficult; in fact, making the best possible decisions involves only 4 steps.

First, it’s imperative that you know your beliefs and values. You may be tempted to quickly skip this step because you’re confident that you know what you believe and what your value system is. Do you?

Let’s take a quick test. Grab a piece of paper and jot down your top 2 values, or priorities. If you’re like most Americans, you’ll list God (or faith), followed by family. But write whatever 2 things you value above all else. Now, look at your planner/calendar and your checkbook. Does the use of your discretionary time (the time left over after your job, necessary chores around the house, and sleep) and your money (after true necessities) indicate that you truly value what you wrote down? If they do, good for you!!

When I was challenged a few years ago by something I read to give myself that quick test, I could no longer ignore the fact that I was not making choices that were aligned with what I claimed to value. I wasn’t alone. Several studies indicate that over 90% of Americans use their discretionary time and/or income for something other than what they say they value or, at least, not in proportion to their values.

Second, you must have a clear picture of the life you want to live. If you don’t, work through the Life Redesign Blueprint I wrote about a few weeks ago or read any number of books on life redesign available at your local library, local bookstore, or online bookstore. Whatever route you take, make sure that when you finish, you know what you want and don’t want in your life from this point forward.

Third, be more aware of the opportunities you have to make a decision; in other words, be more intentional in noticing when you have options. Of course, not all decisions required that you go on to step 4. Wear brown socks or black? That one doesn’t require you consider much more than what color pants and shoes you’ll be wearing. :)  But if you recognize that your decision has some true consequence, move on to step 4.

Four, pause and consider every option available to you. Weigh each one first against your own belief system. If more than one option remains, ask yourself which one is the one most likely to take you to the life you want to live. I realize that someone may be pressuring you to make a decision; their may be a deadline involved. Tell the person you need time and, even if you must work through step 4 quickly, that’s an improvement over not evaluating the options at all.

Simple, yes.  Easy, no.

It’s going to require a change in your habits. It’s going to require that you stop acting out of habit and reacting mindlessly.

It’s going to require intentionality.

It’s time for you to join in the discussion. What decisions do you tend to make without pausing to consider the consequences? Do you have any suggestions or tips to share with others that struggle with this? Any examples of how this has worked out in your life? Please share your questions and/or thoughts via a comment. 

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Ready, Set, Change! (February Challenge)

photo courtesy of pixabay
So you've decided to make some changes to your life.

It doesn't matter if you only want to make a few minor adjustments, several or more major changges, or if you're making a complete life redesign (Creating a Life Redesign Blueprint).

The time to begin is now.

But change can be scary.

Our current circumstances, uncomfortable -- even painful -- as they may be, are familiar. We know them, we've survived them so far, and we know we can continue to do so. It's much less intimidating to stay where we are than to step out into new territory, even if that territory looks awfully enticing.

And let's be honest -- brutally honest -- for a minute.

Sometimes were less intimidated by the change itself than we are the fact that it's going to take effort and work on our part to bring it about.

I know first-hand how overwhelming it can be to make life changes. I know first-hand that it takes work.

I also know it can be done.

While some people can completely change their life in one fell swoop, quitting things cold turkey and adopting totally new practices or a whole new lifestyle by diving in head-first, most of us simply can't.  Legitimate lack -- of funds or knowledge or resources or time or something else -- holds us back.

Fortunately, you don't have to implement change in an all-or-nothing fashion. Instead, you can make one -- or a few -- changes at a time. You can take large steps or tiny ones.

photo courtesy of pixabay
For example, if you’ve decided that you want to quit your job and go back to school to study for an entirely different career, but there’s those pesky things like a mortgage and feeding yourself and your family standing in your way, you have options. Selling your large, expensive house and purchasing something more affordable, that would free up some funds, is one. So is taking one or two classes a semester for now.

One step, two steps, or a clean-sweep life change — it really doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get started . . . now!

I want to help you do just that.

Here's what I want you to do. If you've worked through the Life Redesign Blueprint process I shared a couple of weeks ago (link provided above), select the change(s) you can reasonably begin implementing right away. If you haven't worked through the blueprint process, do that now or simply decide on one change (or more) you can make now.

You might decide to remove something -- sugar, the purchase of non-essential items, smoking, gossiping, fast food and restaurant meals, social media, to name just a few examples -- from your life.

Instead, you might decide to add something: taking a 15-minute walk every day, memorizing one Bible scripture or inspirational quote each week, clearing out the clutter in your closets (or just one closet), researching and planning a vacation trip, finding and attending a grief support group, etc.

Or you might implement a change to your routine. Perhaps you will eat 4 vegetables a day instead of 2, go to bed 30 minutes earlier than normal every night, use only cash instead of credit cards, or install apps on your electronic devices that help you spend less time on the internet and then spend that freed-up time establishing that home business you've put on the back burner for months, maybe even years.

You've got your change in mind? Good.

Go one step further. Commit to that change for the entire month of February.

Starting Saturday, February 1, be very intentional about incorporating that change into your life. One day, one hour, one minute, at a time.

You won't alone. I promise. I'll be making a change right along side you.

Not only that, but every Thursday here on my blog and every day (except Sunday) on my Facebook page (Patti Miinch) and my Instagram feed (@PattiMiinch), I'll be sharing tips and helpful information and offering you encouragement.

Like and follow my Facebook page and follow me on Instagram. But don't stop there. Join in the conversations here and on social media. Share your challenge, your thoughts, your successes and struggles; offer support and encouragement.

We can do this!
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Friday, January 17, 2020

Family and Friends and Coworkers, Oh My!

I received an email two days ago from a gentleman I’ll call Fred. With his permission, I’ll share a bit of his story.

Fred’s marriage ended almost a year ago, and he was spending most evenings and every weekend eating meals and dozing in front of the TV. His daughter read my post about making life changes (Creating a Life Redesign Blueprint).  Worried about his uncharacteristic but now-chronic listlessness, she told her dad she thought he needed to make some changes and she knew just the way to get started.

After first he discarded creating a life redesign blueprint as “too touchy-feely” for him. Tired of his post-divorce life, though, he decided to give it a try.  Plus, as he explained in his email, his daughter kept nagging him, so he did it “just so she’d hush up about it”.

Fred jotted down a few ideas and then, feeling intrigued by the possibilities, visited his local library, searching for information on fly fishing camps and African safaris. A helpful librarian told him about podcasts, and he was introduced to a new avenue by which he could learn even more.

He was, he explained, feeling optimistic about life again, and things were going great. Until, in his excitement, he shared what he had been doing with his fishing-buddy brother-in-law and with a coworker who was also a good friend.

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Their reactions were mixed. The coworker/good friend was intrigued by the African safaris and even suggested he might be interested in joining Fred. On the other hand, the brother-in-law was at first amused and then dismissing, mentioned the phrase “midlife crisis” a few times, and alerted his wife (Fred’s sister), who in turn paid Fred a visit to share how antidepressants had done her a world of good after her youngest went off to college.

Fred suggested in his email that I warn people in the act of redesigning their life to keep quiet about what they’re doing.

Fred raises an important issue. Unfortunately, and for a myriad of reasons, not everyone in your life is going to be supportive of your desire to make life changes.

I’ve learned in the past 10+ years, as I’ve made my own life changes, that people fall into what I consider 4 camps, and how you handle people you care about and interact with, according to their “camp”, could make all the difference in your journey to successfully and positively redesign your life.

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First, there will be the enthusiastic supporters, the cheerleaders in your life. They will support you 200%, be interested in your progress, and may even help by sharing information and resources. You may be tempted to surround yourself only by these folks, but that would be a mistake. Yes, you need people who consistently and wholeheartedly encourage you to follow your dreams. But you also need some people who, while supportive of you and of your happiness, do not unwaveringly support your every idea and action.

You need realistic supporters. These people care about you and are supportive of your efforts to make positive changes in your life. But — and this is important — they will consistently temper their enthusiasm with practicality, and they will share with you honestly, without pessimism, when asked for their thoughts. You need a couple of people from this camp in your life. They are the ones who, at the end of a long, grueling work week, will remind you that singing Johnny Paycheck’s “Take This Job and Shove It’ to your boss  with only 1 month’s living expenses in the bank and flying on a one-way ticket to Tahiti to lie on the beach while writing your magnum opus is probably not the best course of action. They are the ones who will understand your frustration and encourage you to lay the groundwork (financial and otherwise) before buying taking any drastic steps.

You probably also have at least one or two skeptics in your life. They can’t really understand what you’re doing because they avoid change themselves and can’t fathom anyone else being willing, much less eager, to alter a “perfectly good” life. These people can be dangerous to your life redesign. Because they may feel their relationship with you is threatened by the changes in your life, they will be careful not to appear too negative or unsupportive. As a result, they may appear to be realistic supporters and insidiously erode your enthusiasm. Be very carful how much time you spend and how much about your plans you share with a skeptic. Typically, the more time and information you share, the more negative they become; so be prepared to change topics or make an exit if  that happens.

Hopefully, there are no openly oppositional people in your life. A friend of mine calls them Debbie (or Davy) Downers because of their chronic negativity that never fails to suck the enthusiasm and joy out of those around them. It would be wonderful if you could avoid them altogether, but if you cannot, you might simply do what Fred suggests: don’t tell them about your life redesign process. If they find out anyway — and it seems that Debbie/Davy Downers often do find out what we least want them to know — be prepared. You might want to simply tell them that this is important to you and that you’d appreciate them offering you, if not their support, at least no discouragement. You might have to take other steps such as determinedly changing the topic when they criticize what your doing, avoiding them as much as possible, etc.

None of us exist in a vacuum, completely isolated from other people. It's crucial that we treat both ourselves and others, no matter how they view what we life-redesigners are doing, with respect.

Share your thoughts via a comment. Give a shout-out to someone who is a positive force in your life. Share about a less-positive situation and, if possible, how you've successfully handled it. Let's help each other as we journey to more fulfilling, joy-filled lives.