Tag Archives: comparison

A Different Kind of Cleanse

jan22_2017

Point to Ponder:
What is there from 2016 that you do not need to bring into the New Year?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Whether you are iGniting in Austin or in San Diego, both cities have experienced severe and very scary droughts as well as incredible recent rainfalls. For Austin, a fierce drought that started in 2011 ended in May, 2015, and in San Diego, off and on the city has been bone dry, but especially since 2014. When my family moved to San Diego in August 2015, I vividly remember driving to our neighborhood that sits in a valley of rolling hills and canyons and being confused. What I thought was going to be lush, green fields of Birds of Paradise, was instead brown, hot, dry and dusty terrain. What I didn’t realize was that San Diego was in a drought, which is what makes the current rain so extraordinary. Amazingly, the drought has been lifted!

For sure, too much of anything is too much: too much rain can be depressing and too much sun can also have a similar effect, but there’s one thing that’s certain, and it’s that the weather is wonderfully unpredictable, which leads me to the opportunities that the recent rainfall and somewhat crazy weather has given each of us (especially the extreme winter highs and lows in Austin).

For starters, weather always serves as a brilliant reminder that as much as we might like to be in control, we never are, and to quote Austin Meteorologist Troy Kimmel, he said, “I’m convinced that Mother Nature likes to remind us that we don’t know everything.” And thank goodness for that! As much as I often times wish I had a crystal ball so I can be adequately prepared for everything that comes my way, one of the sweetest parts of life is seeing how it reveals itself and the necessary lessons, opportunities and surprises that unfold. Like weather, the surprise can be a gorgeous sunny day or much needed overcast cloudy and rainy day to force us indoors to rest. Thanks to the rain in San Diego, excitingly we’ve been able to wear our rain boots and use our umbrellas- Whew!! Furthermore, thanks to the heavy rainfall on Friday, class was moved indoors and I was able to teach one of my personal favorites that I haven’t taught in San Diego yet– Cardio Kickboxing. It’s always good to mix it up!

Next, weather shows us that like in life, there are fruitful times of great harvest and times of substantial scarcity. It’s never always one way or the other, but instead, life is a constant ebb and flow of “Amazing, we did it, give me a high-five!”, to my toilet not working because Barbie was flushed down it. Yep, that recently happened in our house, because anything goes when you have a sassy and unpredictable three year old who out of the blue makes Barbie her archenemy.  As a dear friend recently coined, at times our lives can feel like a flat-out disaster, and then within minutes, things can shift and we can experience our best day ever. And so, what I feel like weather teaches us is to be flexible, open to change and to manage our expectations. This is not at all to suggest that we should have low expectations, but instead, we should expect highs and lows and rain and sunshine. Weather gives us the refreshing perspective that change can be good, change is inevitable and nothing is permanent. Some days will be fruitful while others not–and that’s the consistency of life.

Finally, rain presents two important roles: it’s cleansing and nurturing. Like a baptism, rain gives us an opportunity for renewal and growth and as a result of the recent rains that we have received, I feel like Mother Nature has given us the ideal opportunity to cleanse ourselves from anything that we cannot control and/or things that do not serve you. Some examples are: a relationship, unrealistic expectations you have placed on yourself, people’s opinions and actions, assumptions, unrealistic expectations that other people have placed on you, guilt, pride, resentment, negativity, control, trying to please others, taking things personally, social media, gossip, busyness, comparison, and anything obligatory that is left over from 2016 that you transferred to your 2017 list that doesn’t excite you. It’s all your choice, which is the best part!

I can only speak for myself, but I am amazed that we are only twenty-two days into 2017. Normally, time feels like it flies by, but for me, I love that it’s only Jan 22. Technically, it’s still the New Year, which means that I have plenty of time to set my 2017 intentions and goals, but for now, I’m going to create space for 2017 surprises by following Mother Nature’s lead and spend time determining what I need to let go of–the unproductive thoughts, behaviors and actions that need to be washed away with the rain and will allow my body, mind and spirit to be cleansed, nurtured and refreshed. I sure hope you will join me! (If you’re interested in a physical cleanse that will also benefit your mind and spirit, I encourage you to join us in our 10-day Self-Care Body Re-Boot, taking place in Austin from Feb 2 through Feb 13. Couples are welcome!!)


Action Item:
Make a list of the behaviors, thoughts and actions that do not serve you and work on letting them go.


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Forever Forward, Never Back

iGnite - go forward, never back

Point to Ponder:
Do you ever find yourself living in the past?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

From September 3 through last Tuesday, September 15, I’ve had company staying with my family. Knowing that I was in a new city with children while my husband Russell was traveling, my father, stepmom, mother and sister all made special plans to come out and be with me on and around my birthday. And, unbeknownst to me, my dad, who is a total worker-bee and can’t sit still unless he’s quickly eating or watching a sporting event, had a specific agenda: to help get us out of boxes and settled into our new house. A.k.a. WORK!

It was wonderful to see my family, and I was so thankful to have them, but by Tuesday I was eager to get the kids and I back to a routine (a.k.a. CONTROL!). The time for exercise, uninterrupted time, responding to thirteen days worth of email and an opportunity to tackle my ever-growing personal and professional to-do list had finally come, and after dropping my children Durant and Malaine off at pre-school on Tuesday, it was MY time!

I planned to take a quick walk around the neighborhood near the kids’ preschool and then go to a yoga class. It was sprinkling outside, but the idea of walking in a light rain sounded delicious. Just before heading off, a dear friend called so I grabbed my phone to walk and talk.

The friend asked how I was doing with our recent move, and I told him I was struggling. I expressed that I was not questioning God’s plan, however the greatest challenge has been adjusting to no longer having an amazing community of family, friends, and support (CONTROL). And, having felt so purpose-filled in Austin, I was struggling with finding my purpose in San Diego, which was why I was clinging to my life in Austin. He listened intently and having moved a lot himself, he validated my feelings and gave me some helpful advice: take baby steps forward, take care of me, and don’t compare my life in San Diego to my life in Austin. It was a new time and I needed to work on slowing my brain down and releasing my expectations. I agreed with everything he suggested, and I proudly told him that today was the day that I was going to focus on Neissa — hence the walk and yoga class.

During my walk, the sprinkle turned into a solid rain—so much so that my eyes burned from the little bit of eyeliner I was wearing. I was totally fine with this because I had clothes to change into, it was MY DAY, and San Diego needs the rain. So, within twenty-five minutes I was back at my car to grab my yoga mat and a change of clothes when I realized my worst nightmare — my purse, wallet, and work bag with computer, day planner, mail, and work notebooks were all gone. They had been stolen! My driver’s license, expired passport, credit cards, check books….gone. It was ALL gone, including MY DAY! “My day” quickly turned into the misery of filing police reports, canceling bank accounts and credit cards, calling pawn shops and driving around with the hope of finding my things lying around the area.

As you would expect, “the day of me” and getting anything on my to-do list accomplished was no longer an option. I won’t bore you with the un-fun details of trying to get an California driver’s license when you have no form of ID except a paper copy of an expired driver’s license, a paper copy of your birth certificate and a Costco card, but what I do want to share is what I learned through the process, as I think it can be universally applied. I’ve had to find reason and some glimpse of positivity in this incredibly frustrating experience. Ultimately, I think it relates to our ability to shine throughout life, as I wrote about a couple weeks ago in It’s Time to Turn On Your Shine.

4 Things I’ve Learned the Hard Way:

  1. For starters, my work, technology and to-do lists have been and are my idols. They give me purpose and security and keep me distracted. Upon realizing that all of my things were taken, it became absolutely clear that God was telling me to let go, trust in Him and let Him take over. Do I think He made this happen? Of course not. Bad things happen to good people every single second of the day, but He knows that I am feeling completely out of control and have been clinging to every thing that makes me feel safe and secure. I shine when I find comfort, hope and security in God rather than things.
  2. Second, while it is a terrible and sad inconvenience, it’s actually nice to have my to-do list stolen! For the first time ever, I’m not busying myself with it and frantically trying to find time on my computer so I can respond to emails. And, you know what? Life is going on! I actually thought I was that important! Yes, I am skimming email on my phone, but I’m not checking email on my phone and computer. It’s actually liberating! Will I get another computer? Of course, and I pray I can recover everything I lost. But for the first time, I am giving myself a real break– because I don’t have any other choice. My poor kids actually get a focused mom. I shine when I am a present mom, wife, friend and person.
  3. Third, you must keep moving to survive. Always go forward, never back. I actually wrote down this quote weeks ago in a notebook…that was of course stolen from my work bag. I heard the words from the goofy kid movie “Shark Boy,” and for weeks I’ve thought about how perfect the advice is for our move from Austin to San Diego, and most recently, how I’ll deal with recovering my stolen items…and really for any of us who struggle with living in the past or comparing our present to our past! As for my recent move, it’s critical that I stop looking back and comparing my life in Austin to my life in San Diego. My spirit will not survive if I continue to do this. I have to move forward every day. Regarding my stolen possessions, I so badly want to live in the past and cry over what happened, dwell on it and talk about how unfair it is, but again, I won’t survive by doing that. I have to move forward, take baby steps and make progress in the recovery process. What’s done is done. I can’t change it and there’s no looking back. Just as with life in general, our past does not define us! Thank goodness we have evolved and aren’t the same people we once were. Most importantly, we will not survive nor thrive unless we focus on our future and on becoming who we need to become and are created to become. Our past has been given to us for memory’s sake and to give us wisdom — but not to live in. Sometimes our past can motivate us, but too often we get stuck in it and are unable to move forward and appreciate what we have right now. For women specifically, we are usually desperate to be the same weight as we were pre-children, on our wedding day or at some point when we were younger. I get that, but that’s no way to live and thrive. I think we would be better served and our bodies would respond in the ways we are hoping for if we treated it with more appreciation and gratitude. We beat ourselves up — thinking we need to look how we used to look. That is torture, and the antidote is to always look forward. We shine when we give thanks and appreciate what we have.
  4. Last, within one hour of the theft, iGnite leaders and dear friends Kathleen Parker and Catherine Sanderson randomly called. It was so comforting and calming to hear their voices. Then, I immediately texted the iGnite Team, informed them of what happened and asked for their love and prayers. Knowing they were praying and sending me love made a significant difference in my attitude and spirit. I knew this before, and I continue to be reminded of the importance of community. You can’t have enough community and supportive friends. We shine in community and are #strongertogetHER!

Action Item:
Remind yourself that your past has been given to your for memory’s sake and to give you wisdom — but not to live in. Look forward only. Appreciate and be present in the now.

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Hard Lessons Learned from the Big Move

iGnite - make sense of change

Photo above taken during a Susan B. Komen rafting trip during the iGnite Escape to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Point to Ponder:
What changes are you currently experiencing?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I suppose I can officially claim California as my new home state. While I’m a Texan and Austinite at heart, I’ve lived in San Diego for a grand total of sixteen days, and I am pleased to share that with each passing day I am feeling more confident, comfortable and accomplished, as I have achieved the following three goals:
I found a babysitter (actually, Durant, our four year old spotted her out at the hotel pool and the rest was history).
I can get myself to the Pacific Coast Highway and all beaches with no GPS (thanks to the wonderful iGnite member Jill Imhoff who lives part-time in San Diego and has taken me under her warm wing.) #StrongerTogetHER!
I can get to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for an awesome hike, and I actually know where the heck I am going
While I am thankful and proud of these emotionally grounding steps and stabilizing pillars, this whole moving picture was and has been nothing short of frantic, sad and angry, as sixteen days ago I was a wreck and the canvas was an ugly mess!

The week leading up to our departure to the west coast was bittersweet. The ‘sweet’ being spending time with dear friends and family members, and the ‘bitter’ being seeing our home that we brought both of my children Durant and Malaine home from the hospital to and was also filled with amazing memories, become an empty house. That just plain stunk. The absolute worst of the worst was saying goodbye, which if I never had to say another goodbye as long as I lived, I’d be okay with it!! I know that’s not realistic, but it’s my truth.

In the moving ‘blender’ were absolute physical, emotional and mental exhaustion, the emotions that come with a husband who has been gone for two months due to his new job and now being physically back in our lives, along with real sadness and anger. I had been faithful, strong and positive throughout the entire job loss, job change, putting the house on the market and the sale of the house. Then, when the reality of leaving everyone and everything I loved set in and we set off to San Diego, the blender produced an ugly mess of emotions.

When we landed in San Diego, it was of course sunny and there was a cool breeze blowing, but really I couldn’t have cared less. I was legitmately sad, mad and a house overlooking the beach in La Jolla would not have satisfied me. As we drove to see our new house (which I had not seen in person yet), everything was unfamiliar, and directionally nothing made sense. I couldn’t tell which way was North, South, East or West. When we got to our empty house, the rooms seemed small and the house felt cold, and even though the neighborhood was highly recommended and described as the perfect place for families, it felt unfriendly. Ultimately, it wasn’t Austin, “my people” were missing, and my in-control, comfortable and happy world had just been rocked and turned upside down.

Looking back, of course these were normal emotions which I should’ve anticipated (especially because I have never moved like this before), but I’m a’ glass half full’-type and a faithful person. I knew I couldn’t change the situation, and we had moved to a pretty spectacular place, so complaining or feeling sorry for myself was just not an option. However, this was still a big change and even the most optimistic attitude couldn’t combat my sadness.

I’m not writing this journal to give you the play-by-play on our move, rather, in the past two weeks I’ve learned a lot that I want to share. As summer has officially ended and the fall season and school year has begun, there is a lot of change that is and will be occurring in not just mine, but many of our lives right about now. And if you aren’t experiencing change now, there will be a day when you will, so I thought I’d share what I’ve learned thus far:

1. Being sad and mad are normal and healthy emotions, but they must get out. I was being totally passive aggressive and ugly to my husband Russell, which was terrible for him and created a ton of tension between us. It wasn’t until I told him exactly why I was mad and sad and that I would get over it, but that I needed him to let me be mad and sad and not try to fix it that things started to get better. It was like having the flu, and the emotions needed time to run their course. Thankfully they did, and things became better quickly.

2. Manage your expectations, take baby steps and accept feeling out of control. I wanted to have San Diego ‘figured out’ the day we landed. I wanted all boxes unpacked and the house looking great and feeling like our old house within days of arriving. I was craving organization and control! Of course all of this was absolutely not possible, and thanks to the advice from iGnite Leader and dear friend Kathleen Parker, I needed to “relax, breathe and focus on having fun with my family. There were no deadlines.” Then, my sweet cousin Craig reminded me to “not lose any sleep over unpacked boxes.” What profound wisdom! And so, I’ve doing what I can when I can and am making great strides to chill and realize this whole process is a journey.

3. Don’t compare your new life to your old life. As soon as we got in our rental car and left the airport to begin our new life, seriously, my brain immediately started trying to fit my Austin life into my San Diego life. It was the strangest thing, as I could physically feel my brain trying to make it happen. I was in complete compare mode. Though San Diego and Austin have similar cultures, San Diego is it’s own place — as all places are– and while I can and will certainly partake in similar activities and develop endearing and meaningful relationships like I have in Austin, they are different. It’s a new time and place and things are automatically going to look and feel different. I will of course hold onto all friendships and memories in Austin, but in order to fully experience and make the best out of our time in San Diego, I need to fully embrace it.

4. We are StrongerTogetHER. It was intentional for our summer shirts to read StrongerTogetHER. We believe that living, sharing and experiencing life together and in community is the best and only way. Plus, we believe we are created for community. But what I didn’t expect was how badly I was going to need it and appreciate it once I got to San Diego. As I mentioned earlier, sweet iGnite member and friend Jill Imhoff lives part-time in Austin and part-time in San Diego, and the day we landed she reached out to me and validated all of my mad and sad feelings. Then, within three days she was offering to help me unpack. Letting others help me is not something I accept well, but I was drowning in chaos and confusion and I knew letting her help me would be the best thing. Then, three days later, she drove me around to help me get the lay of the land and most importantly, get to the beaches. She also took me to Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, where we hiked. What I’ve learned is how important it is to be vulnerable, raw and let others be your neighbor. We can’t and aren’t created to do anything alone, and change is much easier to accept and move through when we allow others to help us. Reach out to others and allow them to give you the gift guiding you down a path that they’ve already walked down and are better equipped to show you through.

So, I challenge you to ask yourself: what change(s) am I experiencing right now? Do you have a new job, are you new to iGnite or Austin, or have you recently moved? Is your first or last child entering Kindergarden or are you an empty nester? Are you expecting a child or are you a new parent? Are you newly married or recently divorced? Are you in a new relationship or have you recently lost someone you love?

Change is everywhere and all around us. The key to managing it and getting through it without losing your mind is letting go and sharing it with others. And so, here’s to a fall season of new beginnings togetHER!

Action Item:
Stop trying to control your changing circumstances, whatever they are.
Instead, let go and allow yourself to share it with others.

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How Alli is In the Game

Battling Feelings of Inadequacy
Continued from Are You in the Game or On the Sidelines?

iGnite - Courage

Point to Ponder:
Do you find yourself comparing yourself with others?

by Alli Phillips

by Alli Phillips

To compliment my teaching classes at iGnite, I have accepted a new position at Mecca Gym & Spa, where in addition to iGnite and Backyard fitness, I have worked off and on as a fitness class instructor and personal trainer for many years, hired initially when I was pregnant with my oldest child, Laney, who is now 15. I am very excited (actually “excited” doesn’t even begin to describe it!) about this opportunity, the new direction my career in health and fitness is taking, and about going “back to work”. But I have also felt incredibly, even debilitatingly, nervous approaching the official start date. My new title is…. drumroll…. “Marketing and Communications Director.” (So important sounding right?!) And over the last few weeks of negotiations, which included writing my own job description!, while pinching myself to make sure that this “dream job” isn’t just a dream, I have come to realize that my nervousness has been due to, in large part, comparison, specifically comparison of myself to a co-worker and friend who is leaving Mecca and from whom I will be assuming many responsibilities.

One of my favorite quotes is “Comparison is the thief of joy,” by Theodore Roosevelt, and I have been living this truth for about two weeks now as I have been learning the details of my new responsibilities and transitioning with my co-worker/friend. I have felt joy and confidence, which at times was “sucked out” of me when I have allowed thoughts to enter my head like, “She’s so creative and smart, I’ll never be able to fill her shoes.” But, in the last few days, by sharing with others my feelings of inadequacy, and more specifically admitting my feelings to the friend with whom I have been comparing myself, I have recognized my “faulty thinking” and been able to start re-channelling my nervous energy positively.

Through conversations, emails, and text exchanges, with her as well as with other friends and family, I have been reminded that not only am I qualified for this position, but I am highly and uniquely qualified; and more important, I have passion for this job! I have spent more than half my life leading fitness classes and educating others about lifestyle exercise, so it’s not just what I do, it’s who I am, and this job will be a new platform to continue teaching and sharing my passion with others.

So now, although I still feel a little queasy when I think about this new chapter in my career and in my life, my feelings of inadequacy have been replaced with eager determination to be the best “Marketing and Communications Director” I can be. And although I still feel nervous about my new job and my big fancy-pants title, it is a “good nervous” energy fueled with joy.

Action Item:
Remind yourself that comparison is the thief of joy, and ask your loved ones to remind you of your unique qualities and skills instead of comparing yours with someone else’s.

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How Kathleen is In the Game

Vulnerability Lost is Intimacy GainediGnite - Share your StrugglesPoint to Ponder:
Are you struggling with something that you haven’t shared with others out of shame or fear of being judged?

by Kathleen Parker

by Kathleen Parker

I am truly not afraid of trying anything new, especially if it involves a good dose of adrenaline!! But since childhood my biggest fears have been failure and judgement by others.

In my classes I have often shared my father’s philosophy on happiness: “Happiness is found through your accomplishments.” Growing up with this mantra was quite scary. If I was not winning, getting a promotion at work, or raising perfect kids, I was not going to be happy. I was so proud and would not share any of my misfortunes with others. Even my best friend in high school didn’t know about my crazy family situation I was going through for four years! My four daughters were FAR from perfect and gave us a wild ride for many years. It wasn’t until the last few years that I embraced my NEW mantra: “Vulnerability lost is intimacy gained.”

Being afraid to show vulnerability kept me from having fuller and deeper relationships for years. How great it feels to be transparent and hopefully help others through all of the trials I have lived in my 54 years!

Facing my other fear — the fear of failure — I still have. When it comes to competing in the Austin Fittest Competition each year, I go to win, not just to compete. That sure makes it less fun. iGnite member Martha Lynn Mangum opened my eyes this year to focusing on having fun and enjoying the competition and not thinking about the win. I have to say it was the most fun out of the four years I participated! I took down my guard and got to know my competitors on a deeper level afterwards and the day ended with all of us being friends instead of competitors. The bonus was I still won, but had much more fun!

Action Item:
Consider opening up to a loved one about something you’re struggling with, and notice how your relationship deepens and your burden is lifted.

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Your Story Matters

Inspiration from the iGnite Archives
(Originally published July 2012)

iGnite- Share Your TestimonyPoint to Ponder:
Do you view your life experiences as opportunities to provide comfort, support and encouragement for others?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Seven wonderful women and I just flew to Asheville, North Carolina to enjoy an iGnite Escape. During the trip we experienced a delightful variety of adventures. From laughing hysterically at a Paula Dean and Julia Child skit hosted by our eclectic B&B inn keepers, to hiking to a majestic waterfall, to touring the renowned and enormous Biltmore Estate, to sipping on cocktails while overlooking the Smoky Mountains at the historic Grove Park Inn, the entire time was loads of fun! Sweet memories were made, and while all of these events and others throughout the trip were special, the real highlight for me was the newly formed and enhanced friendships.

Over the course of two days we took the opportunity to share our life stories, which was an endearing occasion that allowed us to gain a deeper understanding of one another as well as learn all of the things we had in common. It was also remarkable and inspiring to find out what the human spirit can endure and overcome, which is extraordinary! Story after story reminded me that everyone has a story, and that life is an infinite and inevitable roller coaster ride filled with exhilarating highs, steep lows, and sharp, sudden twists and turns. However, as Charles R. Swindoll reminds us, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react.” Just like an oyster, who after receiving an irritating and foreign substance between it’s mantle and shell works relentlessly to cover it up, forming a pearl, we too can make the choice to embrace the hard times, learn from life’s peaks and valleys and create our own unique and enchanting strand of pearls.

Dr. Cherie Carter Scott says it perfectly in her book If Life Is a Game….These are the Rules when she says:

As you travel through your lifetime, you may encounter challenging lessons that others don’t have to face, while others spend years struggling with challenges that you don’t need to deal with. You may never know why you are blessed with a wonderful marriage, while your friends suffer through bitter arguments and painful divorces, just as you cannot be sure why you struggle financially while your peers enjoy abundance. The only thing you can count on for certain is that you will be presented with all the lessons that you specifically need to learn; whether you choose to learn from them or not is entirely up to you.

Therefore, align yourself with your own unique path by learning your individual lessons. This is one of the most difficult challenges you will face in your lifetime, as sometimes your path will lead you into a life that is radically different from others. Don’t compare your path to those around you and focus on the disparity between their lessons and yours. You need to remember that you will only be faced with lessons that you are capable of learning and are specific to your own growth. If you are able to rise to this challenge, you can unravel the mystery of your purpose and actually live it. You cease being a victim of fate or circumstance and become empowered – life no longer just “happens to you.” When you are working toward fulfilling your true purpose, you discover astonishing gifts within yourself that you may have never known you have. This process may not be easy, but the rewards are well worth the struggle.

Interestingly, life is a series of fascinating and humbling events that bind us together as humans. Every sentence in our life story is valuable — even those of heartache, challenge, mistakes and perceived failure, as they gave us the opportunity for growth, wisdom to gift to others and a unique and special life to live and share. Therefore, rather than keeping your unpleasant life events to yourself and feeling ashamed, embarrassed or fearful of judgement, flip your mindset and see your experiences as an opportunity to help someone else. There’s no doubt that life becomes increasingly more meaningful when we open the door of vulnerability and share our intimate details and even skeletons with others. Always remember that your story matters and your shiny strand of pearls can be a source of comfort and encouragement for someone else!

Action Item:
Remember that your story matters and rather than have regret or wish things would’ve turned out differently, share your life’s heartaches, challenges and victories and view them as your gift to share with others.

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Quality Time – The Best Tradition

Our Favorite Holiday Traditions, Continued

christmasmemories

Point to Ponder:
What are you looking forward to most this Christmas?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

It recently occurred to me that I am responsible for creating my children’s holiday memories and traditions… which freaks me out! I am trying really hard to not make Christmas all about Santa, receiving gifts, etc, but I have found myself using Santa an an incentive to “be good and kind, listen to Mommy and Daddy and eat all of your food.” UGH! In moments of desperation, it’s nearly impossible to not. And while I haven’t mustered up the courage to go to the mall so Durant and Malaine can see Santa (and Malaine can scream her head off), or take them to the Trail of Lights (EEK!), it dawned on me that I can’t forget to leave milk, cookies and carrots for Santa and his reindeer. It’s all part of the magic of Christmas, right?…and it’s all up to me to not forget anything!!

However, after re-reading all of the beautiful and various traditions from our Leaders in last week’s journal, it occurred to me that everyone’s favorite traditions (including my own) are about how we spend time together, and nothing else. My holiday goal is to stay sane and joyful, so quality time will be my primary focus. I can definitely make that happen and will stay off of Pinterest and Facebook to avoid seeing all of the elaborate and creative things other moms are doing for their homes and children. Comparison is the thief of joy, right?! Yes!

For a few more of our favorite holiday traditions, leaders Sha and Jill share their favorites, which also happen to be time-focused. Here’s to quality time together, the most important tradition of them all!

“We love our very busy Christmas Eve tradition. Every Christmas Eve we travel to Waco for the Klatt family reunion. Sometimes it seems like a lot of effort, but once we get the 5 of us in the car, we love our together time. We leave early in the morning and always stop at Monument Cafe in Georgetown for a fun breakfast. Once we get to Ganny’s house (Mike’s mom), we each stuff something in the 10 stockings hanging by the fire, then we commence “opening” them. After the larger family reunion lunch, we head back to Austin for a wonderful, festive, delicious dinner/party at a neighbor’s house. At 10:30pm we head to Good Shepherd for the beautiful Christmas Eve candlelight service, where a lovely small orchestra leads us in gorgeous Christmas hymns. It is a long, full day, but we fall into bed after midnight filled with the love of family, friends, and Faith that this season brings.” -Sha

unnamed-70“One of our family traditions that we started when my girls were babies is before opening one gift on Christmas Eve, we gather around the Christmas tree to read “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.” Avery, my oldest daughter, received the book as a gift from grandparents her first Christmas, and it’s the same version we read together every year. It’s that special something that brings us all together for just a moment. We always do it right before bedtime. It is a tradition that they still enjoy very much, and will hopefully continue with their children one day.”
-Jill

Action Item:
Amid the holiday chaos, make a conscious effort to briefly stop and simply observe and enjoy quality together time with loved ones.