Tag Archives: Neissa Brown Springmann

Love Yourself! Inspiration for Your New Year

jan15_2017

Point to Ponder:
Do you love yourself as God loves you?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Since the New Year, I set a soft goal to find new and meaningful content that would not only challenge, encourage and inspire growth within myself, but that I would also want to share with you. I didn’t take formal goal action, like write it down and visualize finding this information, but instead, I set an intention. Excitingly, the intention started to bear fruit last week when iGnite’s wise and wonderful Amy Younkman shared 4 Yogic Tips to Make Your Resolutions Stick. Amy’s advice was perfect, as it was important and bite-sized holistic information that is realistic to achieve.

Then, more inspiration came again last night in the form of a text message from the always spunky, and never-met-a-bad-day or stranger, iGnite member, Lisa Wade. Lisa shared an article by Simone Talma Flowers that was featured in the Austin American Statesman. Simone is the Executive Director of the Interfaith Action of Central Texas and this spiritually-based article may be one of the greatest articles I have ever read. Simone speaks beautifully to every woman’s heart and tendencies: care giving, selfless, critical of oneself and even insecure. Most importantly though, Simone shares her experience with hearing God and His encouragement: for her (and us) to not only love others, but for her (and us) to love herself and ourselves, like He loves us all:

Selflessness is a virtue admired by many. It is an aspiration countless try to achieve. We often praise acts of selflessness, as great human achievements. Witnessing the acts, the dedication and commitment by others like Martin Luther King, Mother Theresa or Gandhi, we have great admiration for a life dedicated for the advancement of others.

Selfless acts are perceived as acts of graciousness, discipline, humility and hospitality. The person who receives this grace knows how powerful an act of generosity is; and the person who is engulfed in the act of serving, knows the power of this experience, the energy, the flow, the connection to God, to source, to the universe. It is a powerful feeling of blessedness, that makes you want to continue to do even more.

Living a life of purpose, a life of selflessness in service to others, is what I aspired to. Growing up, I saw people like Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa as examples of living purposely and selflessly in this world. I appreciate people in my community who are gracious and hospitable.
Hospitality is another virtue I admire greatly and associate with selflessness. Hospitality is being welcoming, generous with an unwavering expression of love and acceptance, making sure others are taken care of. So, in a recent conversation with God, I was shocked at what He revealed.
Enjoying a few days of rest, one morning after I finished my morning prayers and meditation, I had a conversation with God.

I was in a very relaxed state, a state of stillness, in tune and conscious of everything around me. I told God how much I love this feeling of peace, well-being, love and kindness I felt for myself and my surroundings. I told God how I appreciate my purpose here in this world of loving and serving others. I love going beyond myself to serve and share love, without effort. It is as natural to me as breathing or drinking water. Yet, it is common for me to delay taking time for my needs, and neglect to give myself the luxury of pacing or caring for myself. These unhurried moments of pure blessedness were rare.

What I heard in answer from God, really shocked me. God said to me, “You are here on Earth not only to love and serve others, but to love yourself as I love you.” I wondered if it wasn’t selfish to love myself that much. God said, “No, you are here to love yourself – like I love you. Loving yourself like I love you is just as important as your other life purpose of loving and serving others. You are perfectly made, in you lives my light that can give you everything you need in this life. As you love yourself, you love others more, as you care for yourself, you care for others deeper, as you speak kind words to yourself, you speak kind words to others gentler, as you think loving thoughts of yourself, your loving thoughts of others increase.”

Living this life, loving myself is just as important and necessary as the gift of purpose in this life. So, why did it take me this long to fully realize this? I always knew love is the key, however, the extent of the love I have for myself, has limits. What God is saying to me, is that I need to remove these limits and conditions that I set for myself, and love all of me, wholeheartedly.

As I look in the mirror, I sometimes do not like all I see, especially if I see myself in comparison to others. Yet when I see and conceptualize that God’s creations are perfectly made, beautiful, whole, this gives me a different perspective, a perspective, that I am one of these creations. I am included in that: I am beautifully made.

How am I whole when I look at myself and see so much that needs fixing? Loving yourself is embracing all of you, knowing that God loves you, for who you are, and forgives you in spite of knowing what you have or have not done. God is not conditional. God forgives us, so we need to forgive ourselves. If we think we are on a wrong path, we can always try again; we can make amends. We can start over.

In my conversation with God, I realized that what I say to myself, I say to God. I love God, and I want to deepen my relationship with Him and enjoy God’s love. So I am going to speak kindly, and speak with the love that God has put in my heart.

As I live my life, selflessness, has a new meaning to me. It means I live fully, I live wholeheartedly, I live nourishing myself spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically – so I have more of myself to share with others.


Action Item:
Make a list of the ways you can begin spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically nourishing yourself.


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Why We Should Celebrate 2016, First

jan1_2017

Point to Ponder:
Have you taken the time to say “thank you” for all that 2016 gave you?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

The night before the kids and I left San Diego to spend the holidays in Texas, I drove and walked around our neighborhood delivering Christmas goodies. Amidst the deliveries, I also contemplated my “going out of town for two and a half weeks” to-do list, which loomed heavily over my head. I also felt overwhelmed by everything that I had to get done between then and our 6:30 a.m. flight while also feeling resentful that I was living so far from my family, Christmas is no longer easy and once again I was traveling by myself with Durant (5 yrs) and Malaine (3 yrs). This is no fault of Russell’s (my husband), it’s just the nature of his job and our life.

As I drove, eager to check off items on my list, I tried numbing my to-do’s by listening to Christmas music and looking at all of the decorated houses. While my hopeful distraction did work (kind of), I still felt pretty sorry for myself until I clued into the significance of what I was doing. Unlike one year ago, I actually have friends to deliver Christmas goodies to and I have relationships with our neighbors! Having moved to San Diego last August, last year I didn’t have any friends in our neighborhood to deliver Christmas goodies too. What a difference a year makes?! I must admit, I did feel a bit like a 7th grader who was so thankful to finally have friends, but none-the-less, this was a big moment and one that I would for sure acknowledge, give thanks for and celebrate in the New Year– before going into goal and planning mode for 2017.

Two years ago, my business coach and iGnite member Martha Lynn Mangum taught me this very valuable celebration exercise. It is exactly as it sounds, which is before setting off to accomplish new goals for 2017, we must first take the time to say “thank you” to 2016 and celebrate all of the goodness and blessings from the previous year. A new year is always very exciting and it’s human nature to want to move forward rather than look back, but in this instance, it’s necessary. Really, it’s the power of gratitude and the law of attraction. The more we say “thank you”, celebrate and count our blessings, the more readily they will flow in our life.

And, if you have a terrible memory like I do and can barely remember what you ate for breakfast, remembering one whole year’s worth of celebratory material is impossible. However, because every single one of us have a smart phone, a day planner and pictures on social media, it’s a cinch to walk down 2016’s memory lane and see all of the fun, blessings, accomplishments, and successes (big and small) that occurred in our life.

To go one step further, unlike the past two years when recommending this exercise, this year I encourage you to also celebrate the painful, challenging and bitter moments (as mentioned in the quote), as they have helped shape you into who you are today, which has prepared you for what’s to come. This is also something that Martha has helped me see and do — rather than get frustrated and then dwell on situations or even people who challenge me, I’m learning to say “thank you” to them, as they are developing my character and enhancing my growth.

So, let’s do this by setting aside time to focus on all of the goodness and celebratory moments from 2016 and write them down on this simple printable. Celebrating, saying “thank you” and writing down the information is the best and most productive formula for saying goodbye to 2016 and welcoming in brand new year–your blank and full of potential canvas!


Action Item:
Set aside time to focus on all of the goodness and celebratory moments from 2016 and write them down on this simple printable. Celebrating, saying “thank you” and writing down the information is the best and most productive formula for saying goodbye to 2016 and welcoming in brand new year–your blank and full of potential canvas!


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Portable Joy

dec18_2016-5

Point to Ponder:
Do you share your joy everywhere you go?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

At times I find myself living in my own idealist world, but really I am an optimistic realist. My idealist world does not exist of unicorns and rainbows and everyone frolicking in flower-covered fields with linked arms. I’ve experienced and seen enough life to know that bad things happen to everyone, life is filled with countless trials and struggles, people aren’t perfect and therefore our actions hurt others. I believe this is and will always be life on Earth, however the world I find myself giddy over is one where we realize the life-size impact that our small yet intentional joy-filled actions can have on the lives of others and the butterfly effect that follows. This is why I love the quote listed above, “Joy is portable, so bring it with you.”

If you are unfamiliar with the butterfly effect, by definition it the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere. I think that our lives can be lumped into the complex system category, and yet complex, there is an opportunity to find joy in every moment, bring it with us and pass along to others. It’s the complex and unique ability to constantly look outside of ourselves and recognize how sharing our heart with others can change the life of someone else.

In last week’s journal How to Have Joy in 30 Days Experiment, the focus was to find joy in the ordinary. This week we’ll continue the experiment with finding joy in the ordinary, however I’d like to take it a step further by making your joy portable, bringing your joy with you everywhere you go and sharing it with others.

Unlike the definition of idealistic, which is to dream of perfection, I don’t dream of a perfect world. I dream of a world where we realize the significant impact that we can have on others by doing small things, such as the free gift of sharing our joy everywhere we go.


Action Item:
Find joy in the ordinary and share it everywhere you go.


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Focus on the Truth & What Matters Most

dec4_2016

Point to Ponder:
Are you over-committed, too busy and experiencing stress?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

To piggy back on last week’s Journal, “No More People Pleasing & Holiday Have-Tos,” I have been thinking a lot about Have-To’s deceptive twin sister, Guilt. Guilt is that nasty and wasteful emotion that takes us into a downward tailspin and negative place. Personally, I experience the most guilt when I feel like I am not doing enough. Admittedly, one of my struggles is acknowledging that I am enough (with or without doing) and when I start listening to the deceitful voice who tells me that I am not doing enough and therefore I am not enough, my first reaction is to overcompensate. I go into an unsustainable “like-me” mode and start doing things for people due to lack of confidence rather than my heart’s desire.

Over a year ago I purchased an excellent book called Lies Women Believe by Nancy Leigh DeMoss. As I recently thumbed through it, I was reminded of the power behind lie #18: “I Don’t Have Time to Do Everything I am Supposed to Do.” Interestingly, this is the #1 lie the women surveyed for this book identified with. As a result, I felt compelled to write about this because I absolutely think this is a lie that we can and should support one another in combating and overcoming. I also feel like it’s especially relevant during the holidays when we are trying to make our houses look perfect, buy the ideal gifts, send beautiful Christmas cards, and attend every party—all the while never missing a workout, tending to the ongoing needs of our family, keeping our house clean, working and or volunteering. It’s just too much!

In summary, here is what Nancy says, “More often than not, I find that women feel overwhelmed by how much they have to do, how much they feel they are supposed to do and how little time they have to do it. As a result, many women are living breathless, frazzled and discouraged lives. Ironically, we have more conveniences available to us that were unknown to women of past generations (dishwashers, washing machines, gadgets, devices, etc) yet our lives are more harried, hurried and stressed than ever before. There are probably a number of explanations, however, one reason is that we have accepted the lie that we don’t have time to do everything we are supposed to do. The fact is, we have no more or less time than any other human being who has ever lived. No one, regardless of his/her position or responsibility, has ever had more than 24 hours in a day, 168 hours in a week, 52 weeks in a year. The truth is, no woman can wear all hats effectively. Sooner or later, something (or someone) is going to suffer. Frustration is the by-product of attempting to fulfill responsibilities that God does not intend for us to carry. Freedom, joy and fruitfulness comes from seeking to determine God’s priorities for each season of life, and then setting out to fulfill those priorities, in the power of His Spirit, realizing that He has provided the necessary time and ability to do everything that He has called us to do.”

What I find so ironic about the twenty-first century female dilemma is that every single one of us is busting our tails trying to do good and have meaningful impact for our family and community, yet our efforts often backfire because we are trying to squeeze too much into one season of life. Just as Nancy reminds us, we can’t do it all and wear all hats effectively without something breaking, such as our health, our relationships, our families, our jobs. Not only can we not do it all, but we can’t do it all alone. I feel as though we have fallen into to a sinkhole of thinking that asking for help is a sign of weakness. The truth is that not only can we not do it all by ourselves, but we were never intended to anything alone. And so, the million dollar question is, “How do we stop our busy and possibly out of control lives? From the wise words of my business coach, friend and iGnite member, Martha Lynn Mangum, the questions that I encourage you to stop and take the time to answer is, What is uniquely mine to do?, What do I need help with? Who do I need to ask for help from?”

As you begin to answer your question, I want to remind you that you are not responsible for your family or friends’ happiness. You are only responsible for your joy and happiness, so if your joy and happiness is being compromised because you are over-committed and your life is feeling out of control, take the first and very important step by saying “no”. What will make your family the most happy is that you are not stressed and spending quality time with them. And if you find yourself afraid of disappointing someone because you need downtime and therefore need to send a regret email to the party that you have already RSVP’d for, I can’t imagine that anyone who really loves you will do anything more than applaud you for taking care of yourself. In order to stay healthy and well, we must be “selfish” and do what’s best for us.

As Dr. Riga Hancock reminds, “Stress increases your susceptibility to illnesses, physical pain and unwanted behavior through its effects on your posture, muscle tension and immune system. It leads to back pain, muscle spasms, migraine headaches, irritable bowel and ulcers. Stress also decreases your ability to fight infections like the flu. No matter how beautiful a Pinterest pin or Instagram picture makes something look, you are not required to bake one single Christmas cookie or hang one decoration to be good enough.”  So, in order to stay healthy throughout the holidays, I encourage you to keep your stress level low by only saying “yes” to who and what matters the most, ask for help, drink lots and lots of water, exercise, indulge but be sure and counter that with plenty of greens, vitamin C and protein, along with plenty of rest and washing your hands often.

In closing, as you begin decommitting to the things that are not uniquely yours to do, I encourage you to start considering an action plan for 2017. The goal to not let the whirlwind of life pick you up and and take you where it wants to take you. Instead, the goal is to land where you want to land, leaving room for spontaneity and surprise, of course! Therefore, I encourage you to start thinking about how you will intentionally celebrate 2016, while creating an intentional plan for 2017. Whether that be asking for time off from your job or from your family, it is essential that you carve out the space that will allow you the time to consider exactly what you want and desire in the next year. It would be the greatest treat to have you attend our January ‘Rise & Shine’ ReNew Year Retreat in San Diego (LaJolla). However, if that’s not a possibility, something as simple as time alone with a new journal, a cup of tea, coffee or glass of wine with your favorite music will do the trick. Not only do you need this time, but you deserve it!


Action Item:
Determine what is uniquely yours to do, and decide what you need help with who can help you. De-commit to what is not uniquely yours to do and commit to what is uniquely yours to do, as well as your health and quality time with the people and things that matter most.


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No More People Pleasing & Holiday Have-Tos

nov27_2016

Point to Ponder:
Do you struggle with people pleasing?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I’d like to think that I am a recovering people-pleaser, meaning that I no longer run in circles striving to make everyone happy, however that’s unfortunately not the case. For as long as I can remember, I have worked to please people, but with maturity, awareness and coaching I have definitely made improvements. With that being said, today, when my step-mom began asking me questions about our visit to Texas for Christmas and when and where we planned to spend our time, I felt my breath shorten and my shoulders draw up and into my shoulders. I immediately deflected the question.

Though my parents have been divorced since I was in the second grade, everyone gets along wonderfully and our family does not put any pressure on me, I really struggle with our visits to Texas and the holidays in general because I so desperately want to see and please everyone. The idea of not equally splitting time between family and friends is a definite source of unnecessary stress.

Ironically and thankfully, today I stumbled upon a much needed and excellent article from Darling Magazine titled, “I’m Good with Whatever: The High Price of People Pleasing.” And, with the arrival of the holiday season and everyone being pulled in a myriad of directions, along with feeling confident that I am not alone in the people pleasing category, I too hope this article will inspire and encourage you to let go of the have-tos during the holidays (and beyond) and create the space for the things that bring YOU the most joy.

I’m good with whatever. This phrase has been a mantra for the majority of my life. When I am at my best, I can be adaptable, spontaneous, and free-spirited. At my worst, I am a relentless people pleaser.

In my work as a counselor, few clients come to me with the primary goal of working on their people pleasing. And yet, I see its fingerprints on the lives of nearly every woman I work with. On the surface, it often presents itself as a fog of emotional fatigue resulting from the constant work of balancing the needs, wants, and expectations of others. It fuels many struggles with depression and anxiety. It colors relationships with underlying bitterness and resentment.

At its core, people pleasing is rooted in fear. We worry about how our choices might impact or inconvenience others. Instead of asking the people in our lives for what we need and desire, we say no for them. We find ourselves settling for a role as a background character in others’ stories because we’re scared — often for good reason — to show up in our own.

My people pleasing journey began early. Like many young children of divorce, I entered elementary school with an extra dose of insecurity. To top it off, I was a super sensitive kid who did not cope well with even the mildest disapproval or casual mistake. Classrooms and playgrounds provided the perfect environment for me to hone the skill of perception management to avoid that stinging shame.

Today, my husband has most often been the recipient of my people pleasing efforts — which has only intensified since becoming parents. He works hard, is a wonderful, attentive father to our two little boys, and carries a big chunk of the household duties which keep our world functional. When he checks in with me about doing things during a morning, evening, or weekend — going for a run, meeting up with some guy friends, getting some extra work done — I almost always say yes. No problem. I’m good with whatever.

Throughout the decade we’ve been married, I’ve begun to notice a pattern. It most often begins with feeling anxious and overwhelmed by the “Have-Tos” of life. I then respond by checking out emotionally when it all just feels like too much. This typically follows with passive-aggressive behavior, complaining, and — every once in a while —rounds out with a nice, tear-filled breakdown in which I spew blame upon my poor husband.

We recently had a conversation in which I bemoaned the lack of relational connection in my life. As I processed this, I found myself saying, I would have more time for friends in my life if YOU didn’t spend all of our free time running, working, and spending time with your friends. The second these words escaped my mouth, I knew just how wrong I was. It wasn’t his fault. I was bitter that he had the courage and the forethought to ask for what he needed and wanted and I didn’t.

What I discovered was this — my knee-jerk yeses and whatevers often become excuses to not take ownership of my own life. Managing the expectations and anticipating the needs of others is a full-time job that has robbed me of a full life and meaningful relationships. It’s too high a price to pay.

I also have learned that self-care isn’t enough. While I’m all for a good bubble bath and glass of wine, I think what we people pleasers need most is a supportive shove. We need people in our lives who will cheer us on as we commit ourselves to some of those things we always say we’d do if we had more time. We need to be held accountable to making space for those dreams that perpetually remain on the back burner. The fact that you are reading these words today is the result of a handful of people who have lovingly pushed me to take a risk.

The truth is, the people in our world will gain far more from our courage to live with authenticity and purpose than they would ever receive from our mere accommodation and fear of disappointing them.

It’s time to be done with someday. It’s time for the world to stop missing out on us. Let’s make some waves today.


Action Item:
Let go of the have-tos during the holiday season (and beyond) and create the space for the things that bring you the most joy.


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Always Grateful

nov20_2016

Point to Ponder:
Who or what do you need to be grateful for?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

With family coming to visit for the Thanksgiving holiday, I hired my friend’s housekeeper to clean our home. We haven’t had our house professionally cleaned since June and it was in desperate need of a good scrubbing. Erica, my friend’s housekeeper, let me know that she was going to get a friend to help her, and to insure that the house got as clean as possible, she was going to take her time. From 7:45 a.m – 5:30 p.m., Erica and Anna cleaned! I never imagined that they would or could clean for so long, but they did. Needless to say, the house is spotless and orderly- like a model home. It looks wonderful and feels even better! However, while our houses cleanliness is a delightful thing, is it temporary. It will soon look like a jungle gym and a stuffed animal, marker, crayon and Lego bomb exploded. However, what is permanent is Anna’s impact.

Prior to yesterday, I had only met Erica once and I had never met Anna at all, so throughout the day I would strike up various conversations. I tried not to bother them, but I wanted to get to know them. By their actions alone it was clear that they were both extremely hard workers and take pride in their work, but as so often occurs when conversing with people, it doesn’t take long to be reminded that everyone has a story and the human spirit is nothing short of incredible!

As soon as Anna finished up cleaning the very last thing, we began talking and she let me know that twenty-five years ago she moved from Mexico to San Diego. She became a US citizen, got married and had three children. Her children are twenty-two, twenty and sixteen. To use her words, she is unfortunately divorced from her children’s father and while he is a part of their lives, her children live with her, she is the provider and she is their rock. Her twenty-two year old son is in the Navy, her twenty year old daughter is in college and her sixteen year old son attends a high-school academy in San Diego. And, as I continued to ask her questions, she let me know that after dropping her son off at school every morning she goes back home to prepare meals for her family, studies and then works as a custodian at a middle school, from 2:30 – 11:30 p.m. When I asked her what she is studying, she let me know that she is striving to get her GED (her high-school diploma). As I nodded my head in disbelief and amazement of the character and strength of this woman, she let me know that she is fifty-two years old and that the only thing she can attribute her strength to is God. She is faith-filled, grateful and she blew my mind!

When Erica and Anna finally finished I gave them both a hug for all of their hard work, but more than making my house look amazing, I was thankful for the opportunity to get to know them. Not only was I reminded of the blessing of being able to afford someone to clean our house (something my mom or my husband’s mom, both single-moms, never had the luxury of being able to afford), but most importantly, I was reminded that despite life’s disappointments and challenges, the blessings of each day outweighs the burdens, attitude is everything, having faith is essential and living with and in gratitude is the only way to live.


Action Item:
Whether it be verbally or in a hand-written note, thank someone you are grateful for and/or give thanks for what you are grateful for.


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Why Gratitude is the Best (and Only) Option

nov13_2016

Point to Ponder:
Who or what are you grateful for?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

This summer, during our Banff, Canada iGnite Escape, each evening we found ourselves relaxing in the outdoor hot tub that overlooked the mountains while playing a get-to-know-you card game. One card with a random question would be chosen and each of us would have an opportunity to answer it. The questions were innocent, fun, thought-provoking and a great way to learn more about one another. A few examples of the questions were: “if you got a tattoo, what would you get and why?; if you could choose to be a different ethnicity, what would it be and why; and when feeling down or depressed, what do you do to boost your spirit? My answers were I’d get a cross tattoo, I’d be Brazilian, and when I feel down, I write gratitude notes.

Keeping a gratitude journal or writing gratitude notes are two of the greatest antidotes to the blues. Personally, they pull me outside of myself and allow me to shift my focus to a person or persons who I am thankful for as well as for the blessings in my life. And, while life stressors are intense and heavy, what we focus on is what shows up, so to me, focusing on who and what we are thankful for is the only viable option. Or, if you need more proof to the power of gratitude, check out the scientifically proven benefits of gratitude from a 2015 article from Psychology Today.

  1. Gratitude opens the door to more relationships. Not only does saying “thank you” constitute good manners, but showing appreciation can help you win new friends, according to a 2014 study published in Emotion. The study found that thanking a new acquaintance makes them more likely to seek an ongoing relationship. So whether you thank a stranger for holding the door or send a thank-you note to that colleague who helped you with a project, acknowledging other people’s contributions can lead to new opportunities.
  2. Gratitude improves physical health. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains and report feeling healthier than other people, according to a 2012 study published in Personality and Individual Differences. Not surprisingly, grateful people are also more likely to take care of their health. They exercise more often and are more likely to attend regular check-ups, which is likely to contribute to further longevity.
  3. Gratitude improves psychological health. Gratitude reduces a multitude of toxic emotions, from envy and resentment to frustration and regret. Robert Emmons, a leading gratitude researcher, has conducted multiple studies on the link between gratitude and well-being. His research confirms that gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression.
  4. Gratitude enhances empathy and reduces aggression. Grateful people are more likely to behave in a prosocial manner, even when others behave less kindly, according to a 2012 study by the University of Kentucky. Study participants who ranked higher on gratitude scales were less likely to retaliate against others, even when given negative feedback. They experienced more sensitivity and empathy toward other people and a decreased desire to seek revenge.
  5. Grateful people sleep better. Writing in a gratitude journal improves sleep, according to a 2011 study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. Spend just 15 minutes jotting down a few grateful sentiments before bed, and you may sleep better and longer.
  6. Gratitude improves self-esteem. A 2014 study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology found that gratitude increased athletes’ self-esteem, an essential component to optimal performance. Other studies have shown that gratitude reduces social comparisons. Rather than becoming resentful toward people who have more money or better jobs—a major factor in reduced self-esteem—grateful people are able to appreciate other people’s accomplishments.
  7. Gratitude increases mental strength. For years, research has shown gratitude not only reduces stress, but it may also play a major role in overcoming trauma. A 2006 study published in Behavior Research and Therapy found that Vietnam War veterans with higher levels of gratitude experienced lower rates of post-traumatic stress disorder. A 2003 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that gratitude was a major contributor to resilience following the terrorist attacks on September 11. Recognizing all that you have to be thankful for —even during the worst times—fosters resilience.

iGnite believes in gratitude- living in and with it as well as expressing it. As a result, over the past four years and during the week before Thanksgiving, in all of our classes we have provided gratitude note cards for our members to write to anyone they want. As a result of our feel-good gratitude initiative, iGnite has mailed over 1200 gratitude notes that are delivered during the week of Thanksgiving, and after this week, we hope to make that number at least 1500.

Throughout this week, you will be given the opportunity to write a gratitude note or notes to anyone you’d like. All you need to do is have their addresses and we will make sure they have postage and are mailed by next Monday and received the week of Thanksgiving. If you can’t make it to class, I invite you to join our important and impactful gratitude initiative. Not only will your effort and words lift you up, but they will for sure lift up the receiver, and therefore the butterfly effect, the concept that small causes can have large effects, begins.


Action Item:
Use this week, the week before Thanksgiving, to write gratitude notes to those who you are grateful for.


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Letting Go

nov6_2016-2

Point to Ponder:
What changes in your life do you need to make and what do you need to let go of?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

A few weeks ago I took Malaine, our three year old daughter, to get a much needed hair cut. Her hair had grown to the middle of her back and from her oatmeal breakfast to her ongoing play date with playdough, her hair became a catch-all for everything (yuck!). Like many three year old girls, her sweet, funny and very loving nature can be overtaken by an extremely feisty, salty and disagreeable teenager. So, as I stood close by (mostly to make sure she obeyed the stylist), I witnessed a literal transformation in my little toot. While several inches were cut and her hair was very cute, most interesting was the change in her demeanor, posture and attitude. Morphing right in front of my eyes was an agreeable three year old with a big smile and an added skip in her step. While she couldn’t articulate what had occurred, I recognized what Mother Nature so beautifully models for us from season to season, which is how cleansing and essential change and letting things go is.

Like leaves on a tree, not only during the fall season do they drop to the ground and then bloom also from spring to summer and summer to fall, they are constantly changing form and color. And, if Mother Nature doesn’t stay the same, it leads me to believe that we too are created to regularly evolve and let go of the things that we cannot control, are weighing us down and therefore stunting our growth and ability to live in gratitude.

Next, and to go another mind-blowing step further, according to National Wildlife Federation Naturalist David Mizejewski, “Fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Leaves form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and fertilizes the soil as it breaks down.” The way I see it is that is if it weren’t for the change in season and the trees letting go of its leaves, the weeds would overtake the ground, therefore stripping it of it’s potential growth, beauty and the perfect cycle would end.

With Mother Nature being our greatest teacher and so eloquently demonstrating the absolute need for change and letting go, my question to you is what changes in your life do you need to make and what do you need to let go of?  Furthermore, what changes can you make and what can you let go of that will allow you to experience greater satisfaction and more gratitude?

For change, it doesn’t have to be anything dramatic, as a little change goes a long way. Like Malaine, maybe it’s a hair cut, a color or new style, rearranging your living room or painting your walls a new color. Or, maybe it’s something more bold that requires a giant leap of faith and extraordinary courage, like changing jobs, careers or moving.

As for letting go, I believe it is the key that unlocks our greatest potential, beauty and life. Just imagine how liberated we would be if only we let go of “our plan,” the extremely high expectations we have placed on ourselves or feel that others have placed on us; what if we were able to let go of the “should have’s” from our past that paralyze us, the self-judgement that keeps us from focusing on our immensely blessed life or let go of judging others all together. What if we let go of the need to please, the desire be someone we aren’t or the need to be approved of. What if we let go of the ridiculous assumptions that take up prime real estate in our mind and keep us spinning. Finally, what if we let go of worrying, let go of relationships that no longer serve our souls and let go of the need to control what is not ours to control. Instead, what if we allowed God to do for us what nature allows Him to do and He so perfectly does for nature? It’s the ability to recognize that we don’t have all of the answers and we can’t fix everything. It’s the simple act of gratitude–saying “thank you,” not blocking the blessing and letting go and letting God do what only He can do in your life.


Action Item:
Create a list of things that you need to let go of.


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Are You Listening to the Signs?

oct30_2016

Point to Ponder:
Is your antenna up for signs that are around you?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

As you may know, in April 2015 my family learned that we would be moving from Austin to San Diego. My husband accepted a new job and although the thought of leaving Austin was devastating, once I embraced it, I became excited about the adventure and possibilities, such as expanding iGnite and inspiring, empowering and enriching the bodies, minds and spirits of the women in Southern California. Upon confirming that we would indeed be moving, I sent an email announcement to iGnite members, family and friends. In it I included my iGnite expansion hopes (ugh..my optimism and idealism got the best of me–why did I put that out there?!?!?). However, because I don’t know what I don’t know, once we moved I was overwhelmed and spun in so many different directions that it became obvious that my focus could only be on the needs of my family, remotely leading and supporting iGnite Austin…and finding the grocery store, a babysitter and a place to get a good hair cut, etc. etc. etc.

While I realized that my focus needed to be on supporting Russell in his job and getting our small children adjusted to our new life, I severely struggled with my purpose, relevance and a plan. For the first time in fifteen years I was broken, confused and lonely and I found myself in daily prayer — asking God to show me what He wanted me to do. Frustratingly but also thankfully, I heard crickets–SILENCE!!! On one hand this was a welcoming sign because I didn’t have the mental, spiritual or physical bandwidth to take on anything new, but on the other hand, I felt like one of the reasons He sent us to San Diego was so that I could share iGnite. I was feeling like a failure and fraud because I wasn’t doing what I said I would do.

As I wrote in a previous journal, How Well Do You Rest & Receive, I met a faith-filled and wise friend who encouraged me to use this time to pour into my family, to rest in God’s presence, receive His love and enjoy this unique time with my children. And so I did. I relinquished my self-imposed expectations and began appreciating our new and different life. I did, however, continue to pray and ask God to show me how He wanted me to use my time beyond what I was currently doing, and if it were to bring iGnite into San Diego, to please make it obvious. Until I heard Him or saw specific signs, I remained content and knew that He had me exactly where He wanted me.

And then, one day in May, I met a mom in my son’s karate class who also had just moved to San Diego from Northern California. Because we were both with our children, our conversation was chaotic, however once she found out what I did, she instantly encouraged me and told me that iGnite would be a hit in our neighborhood. “Hmmm,” I thought, “That’s interesting. She just met me and she’s encouraging me to start iGnite.”

Then, summer came and went and I put the idea of expanding in the back corners of my heart. Honestly, I pretty much wrote it off (for the time being, at least). I hadn’t received any real signs (except from the karate mom) and it didn’t feel organic or like it fit….until mid August. While playing at one of our parks, a woman who lives across the street from the park came outside to let us know about rattlesnakes that had been spotted close by. As we talked, we realized that our children were classmates and as one thing led to another, we learned about one another’s professions. She asked if I was going to lead classes in our neighborhood and I told her that while I had considered it, right now the answer was “no.”  She then let me know that she and seven of her friends were going to be having their babies in December and in January they were going to want to get back in shape. Her request to me was to “let the idea of providing a class for her and her friends, marinate.”  I thanked her for the encouragement and promised her that I would think about leading the class. Meanwhile, I ran the class idea past a few friends in our neighborhood and they encouraged me to go for it. More signs…..

A few weeks later I made three consecutive trips to Austin, and I was asked many times of my plans to expand iGnite to San Diego and again was encouraged to do so. Pretty quickly I realized that God was speaking through all of these people, my angels, and they were delivering the answers and signs that I had been asking for.

All of this took place during iGnite’s 10th birthday celebration as well as during our Fall Body Re-Boot, and due to October being iGnite’s 10th birthday month, upon arriving back to San Diego with the abundance of signs, I decided that as an extension of our birthday celebration I would use October to test the waters for our new community as well as for myself and family by offering twelve complimentary iGnite classes.

With the help and support of angel friends, we have had an super fun month and starting this week, a 6-week iGnite session will be held in our San Diego neighborhood-yahoo!!!

Of course I am thrilled to make this announcement, as this means a new iGnite community is being formed where friendship can be developed and women’s health can be nurtured, but more than anything, I’m sharing this story to encourage you to patiently wait and watch for the answers and signs that you are asking for, as they are being delivered everyday and in a variety of ways. Even if the sign is silence, the answer isn’t “no,” it’s instead “I’ve got something much better for you” or “not now.” And, as we have all experienced, God speaks through music, people and even random billboards. Our job is to ask, diligently pray, wait and watch. The answers will always come and then we have to boldly walk out in faith and go for it! In addition, never underestimate the power of your words and encouragement. While you may not realize it, you are someone’s angel and your words can be the difference between them stepping out and pursuing their dreams and making an incredible impact in the lives of others.

There are more layers to this story, so it will be continued. Until then, I invite you to be someone’s angel while also watching for, listening to and acknowledging all of the signs that you are being given, including your own intuition, as that’s your best message deliverer!


Action Item:
Be someone’s angel while also watching for, listening to and acknowledging all of the signs that you are being given, including your own intuition.


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Health Is Your Greatest Wealth

oct23_2016

Point to Ponder:
Do you celebrate your health?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Whether it be suffering from the common cold, ailing from the dreaded flu, or experiencing something much more serious like cancer, addiction or a mental illness such as depression or anxiety, when our health is compromised the universal thought is how we’d give anything to be free of pain, feel good and be healthy again.

Despite being coined over 2000 years ago by the Roman poet, Virgil, his quote that “health is our greatest wealth” continues to ring true. Without our physical, mental and spiritual health, the fullness that life offers us is limited. This is not at all to suggest that we cannot experience great joy and happiness when ill, but I am confident that everyone would agree that our health is a delicate and precious gift that should not be take for granted and needs to be celebrated each day.

Due to October being iGnite’s 10th birthday month, for the past six weeks we have put a great emphasis on celebrating the people and things that iGnite our lives, such as the friends and family who encourage and lift us higher, those who love us radically, saying “yes” to ourselves and our passions, and Mother Nature.

To finalize our celebration series, this week I encourage you to commemorate your health! Maybe that’s by waking up every morning and giving thanks for your health. Or, in the event you aren’t feeling well, giving thanks for the health that you are experiencing is always a spirit lifter that will positively effect the body and mind. Also, because iGnite’s focus is on holistic health, I invite you to celebrate your physical, mental and spiritual health in the following ways:

  1. Celebrate your Physical Health– Nourish your body with water, sunshine, fresh air, movement/exercise (iGnite!), adequate rest/sleep and clean food–but don’t forget to enjoy an occasional and indulgent splurge, too. Life is not a celebration when living in deprivation.
  2. Celebrate your Mental Health– Nourish your mind by filling it with wholesome, educational and/or empowering and inspiring books. Turn off your devices, sit in silence, and pray and/or meditate, step outside of your comfort zone by doing something that you have told yourself you can’t do, create a list of all that you are grateful for.
  3. Celebrate Your Spiritual Health– Nourish your spirit by accepting compliments with a “thank you”, speak kindly to yourself and others, accept the truth that God created you as His masterpiece and you are breathtakingly beautiful, listen to uplifting music, sing and dance, have lunch with a friend, write a thank you note, light a candle and take a bubble bath, encourage and/or help someone, invite a female friend to iGnite with you, offer a smile and “hello” to a stranger.

Your health is your greatest wealth and is worthy of continual celebration. So, however you choose make it your duty to give thanks for all the health that you experience.


Action Item:
Celebrate your physical, mental and spiritual health.


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