Tag Archives: positivity

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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Member Spotlight: Taylor Parsons

iGnite - Taylor ParsonsiGniter of 3 years

Roots:
I was born in Corpus Christi, moved to Austin at age 7, and went to elementary, middle and high school here. I moved back after graduate school in 2011.
Family Life:
I am married to Rob, who I met when I was 18, and we have a little girl, Zella Marie! She was born on April 3rd this year!
Work life:
I am a perfusionist. I operate the heart/lung bypass circuit during open heart surgeries for adults and pediatrics in Austin area hospitals.
Biggest lesson learned through my iGnite experience:
You are living the one life you are given by God, so make it great! Watching and listening to other iGnite members talk about their lives, their trials and triumphs, and their personal goals inspires me to be the best version of myself. Staying active, positive and involved in the lives of loved ones are just a few of the ways I see iGniters spreading joy daily!
Who inspires me most and why:
My mom, Barb McTee! She is the definition of a Godly, selfless, hard-working best friend. She is the first person to cry with me, laugh with me (or usually at me), hold me accountable if I am in the wrong, and talk for hours on end with me about nothing at all. She is the example of the mother and wife I look to when I need encouragement. Above all else, she always puts herself last.
Something people may not know about me:
I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do! I got it many years back and truthfully don’t remember many “moves”, but it is an accomplishment I am proud of!
If I were an ice cream flavor I would be:
Amy’s Ice Cream Mexican Vanilla with sprinkles and Reese’s in a waffle cone! Why? Mexican Vanilla sort of looks like me and my freckles (white with little dots), I love anything colorful (sprinkles), I can be sweet (Reese’s)—all wrapped up in a spunky tomboy shell (crunchy waffle cone)!

Entering a Gossip-Free Month

Loving Yourself & Others, Part I

Speak Positively

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
Ephesians 4:29

Point to Ponder:
Are your conversations about others wholesome and beneficial?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Have you ever gone shopping and purchased something that was impractical, impulsive and too expensive? Then, as soon as you arrived home you hastily ripped off the tag, tossed the receipt, and fully expected “it” to make you feel happy and satisfied…but within less than 24-hours, you realized that “thing” that you are now stuck with is something you don’t want, can’t return and as a result, have buyer’s remorse?!  This is how I feel after I’ve shamefully engaged in gossip. Upon the initial engagement of gossiping, it can feel harmless and even fun, but afterwards I always have ‘gossip remorse’ and wish I could take it all back. However, the damage to my heart and to the heart of the person I’ve talked about is already done. It’s gross, nasty and immature, and makes me want to soak myself in bleach and ask for forgiveness.

As you are aware, Valentine’s Day is on February 14th.  While I think Valentine’s is sweet and I do participate in the sweetness of it, I also think it’s a silly scheme to make us spend money on superficial love items that men feel obligated to buy women. And for women who aren’t in a relationship, it’s just a depressing day. Furthermore, it’s like New Years Eve or the prom, it’s over-rated and more disappointing than fun because it’s glamorized and expectations are unrealistic and too high. I promise I’m not jaded (even though my first Valentine’s with Russell came with diamond earrings, and now I get roses because those were his mom’s favorite flower — even though I have communicated to him that they are my least favorite flower…). Instead, I’m just proposing we use the month of February for a purpose that will provide real long-term emotional and spiritual fulfillment to ourselves and others, which is loving ourselves and all people by avoiding gossip, not engaging in gossip and when in a circle of gossip, courageously suggesting that the conversation end.

In addition to the month of Valentine’s, February is also American Heart Month. Heart month is intended to raise awareness of the prevalence of heart disease awareness, which remains to be the #1 killer of women. When I think of heart disease, my tendency is to think one-dimensionally: diet and exercise.  However, stress of any kind affects the whole body and heart, and there’s no doubt that gossip absolutely has an effect on two hearts: the person gossiping and the person who is being gossiped about. I love visuals, which is why I love the picture above. We may not be able to make someone change their diet or exercise, but we can choose to hold both of our hearts responsibly, with kindness and compassion.

I really do feel like Ephesians 4:29 (the verse above) advises perfectly.  Just think how good we will feel and the goodness ripple effect that will take place as a result of us not engaging in unwholesome talk, and only talking about what is useful for building others up according to their needs so that it may benefit those that are listening. This also includes people we don’t even know but like to talk about anyway — like celebrities. We’ll be counter-culture, total misfits and oh what a good month this will be!

Action Item:
Avoid all gossip and instead choose words that are useful for building others up and will benefit those that are listening.

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Speak Life

Raise Your Words

Point to Ponder:
Imagine a world where the words you speak appear on your skin.
Would you be more careful of what you say?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

I’ve heard the song “Speak Life” hundreds of times on the radio, but last week its words pierced my heart more than ever before. I suppose I was feeling exceptionally vulnerable and likely powerless, which must have been why my eyes welled up with tears and I was given hope at the same time. More than anything, the song reminded me of the power of my words and forced me to look inward and analyze the words I speak to and about any and everyone, including myself and people I don’t even personally know but have an opinion about. What’s that all about?! Ultimately I determined that my words and tone are power, and they are either speaking life into someone or taking heartbeats away.

Also, you know how sometimes we’ll say more hurtful things to the people we love most or participate in gossip as long as it’s with trusted friends? While “quote shopping” I ran across the following question that brought me to my knees in shame and for forgiveness: “Imagine a world where the words you speak appear on your skin. Would you be more careful of what you say?”

Moving forward, this is absolutely going to be one of the ways I choose to consider my words. If they aren’t kind and life-giving enough to be tattooed all over my body for the world to see and read, then I don’t need to be speaking them.

And so, not only do I invite you to read the song lyrics and watch the video below, but if like me you believe that words are power and you want to be a positive and life-giving force, I also encourage you to join me this week in our self-improvement series by only speaking uplifting words. And, like we’ve always been taught, if we don’t have anything nice to say then we don’t need to say it at all- even if they’re spoken “in confidence” or in the privacy of our own home. They all have power. Just imagine if we all only spoke life?! The outcome would repair damaged relationships, heal hearts and I think, change the world.

“Speak Life”

Some days, life feels perfect.
Other days it just ain’t workin.
The good, the bad, the right, the wrong
And everything in between.

Though it’s crazy, amazing
We can turn a heart with the words we say.
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die

So speak Life, speak Life.
To the deadest darkest night.
Speak life, speak Life.
When the sun won’t shine and you don’t know why.
Look into the eyes of the brokenhearted;
Watch them come alive as soon as you speak hope,
You speak love, you speak…
You speak Life.

Some days the tongue gets twisted;
Other days my thoughts just fall apart.
I do, I don’t, I will, I won’t,
It’s like I’m drowning in the deep.

Well it’s crazy to imagine,
Words from our lips as the arms of compassion,
Mountains crumble with every syllable.
Hope can live or die.

Lift your head a little higher,
Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the words you say.

Raise your thoughts a little higher,
Use your words to inspire,
Joy will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the things you say.

Lift your head a little higher,
Spread the love like fire,
Hope will fall like rain,
When you speak life with the words you say.

You speak Life….Some days life feels perfect.

Action Item:
Join me this week in our self-improvement series by only speaking uplifting words.

– – – –

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Happy Talk

“Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.”
Philippians 4:8

Point to Ponder:
Do your words tell the story of who you are and how you view life?

Action Item:
Choose a word to eliminate from and/or add to your vocabulary to better portray who you are and how you view life.

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

A few days ago, I read an article in SUCCESS Magazine titled “Happy Talk.” The author Patty Onderko, a busy mom who writes from her home in Brooklyn, NY, instantly grabbed my attention with her subtitle: “Why you should–like the song from South Pacific–“keep talk’in’ happy talk.” As I’d hoped, the article was thought provoking, research based and made the important connection between the words we speak and the effects they can have on our overall health and well-being. Clearly, it was “iGnite material” so I thought I would share it with you.  So even if you don’t use social media (which is referenced in the article), I encourage you to read it anyway, as it’s a good reminder that the words we speak about ourselves, as well as how we speak about others and life in general, are either working for us or against us:

You got to the town parade on Sunday and want to share your weekend adventure on Facebook. Which of the following is more likely to be your status update?

A. “I’m loving the marching bands! So blessed to live in this wonderful town!”
or….
B. “Drinking a bottle of beer at the parade. I hate bagpipes!”

It’s no surprise that different people can have vastly different experiences at the same event; or that people who are negative pick up on the downsides, and vice versa. But recent research suggests you pin down someone’s personality traits–and how positive they are–by the words they use on Facebook, Twitter and other social media.

Psychologists from the World Well-Being Project (WWBP), part of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, examined 700 millions words, phrases and topics in status updates from 70,000-plus willing Facebook users who also completed a personality test. Participants’ personality traits were plotted on the five-factor model, or Big Five, which measures levels of extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism/emotional stability and openness to experience/intellect. Using computational linguistics, these traits were then matched with distinguishing words and phrases that can effectively predict personality–and hopefully, levels of overall well-being.

Past studies have highlighted the connection between language, personality and health outcomes. Facebook and the like, however, offer a new playing field for computational linguistics. “Before social media, we didn’t have the data size to fully leverage language associated with people in a data-driven fashion,” says H. Andrew Schwartz, lead research scientist at the WWBP. “There are so many words in our vocabulary that it really takes an enormous database to find statistically meaningful patterns.”

The goal, ultimately, is to track the psychological and physical well-being of humans through their language. “Behavior, psychological states and traits, and health manifest themselves so well in language” Schwartz says. Do people whose social media utterances reflect their emotional stability live longer? Are they healthier? Happier? That remains to be seen, and it’s what’s next for WWBP, headed by the famed positive psychologist Martin Seligman, Ph.D, from the University of Pennsylvania.

In the meantime, the “meaningful patterns” that they found can help you convey a more positive online image and possibly boost your outlook.

1) Count your blessings. Did you pick “A”, the first Facebook status? According to your word choices, you are highly agreeable (meaning cooperative, trusting, modest and altruistic), conscientious (thorough, careful, efficient, organized) and emotionally stable. Blessed in the hallmark for all three traits. You’re also likely to be quite extroverted, with most forms of the word love being strongly associated with the trait.

Even if some things about the parade bugged you, choosing to talk about the positive parts can not only alter people’s perception of you, but also your own perception of your experiences, says Todd Kashdan, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA., and author of Curious?: Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life. He subscribes to the theory that language dictates consciousness. In other words, the more you mention things you like, the more likely you are to focus on those things and find them in your future, which is why, regardless of your religion, the quote from Philippians is good advice.

2) Recognize your themes. Is the second Facebook status more your style? If so, you are probably more extroverted than introverted, Schwartz says. While you may not have loved the parade, the fact that you mentioned a social, community event is evidence enough, according to his research. Introverts don’t write about parties, sports or parades. While you may be extroverted, though, you may not be particularly agreeable. More than that, though, Kashdan advises being aware of what we regularly mention: “The real patterns are seen overtime. The themes you talk and write about most often become your life narrative. If someone were to write a biography of you based on what you talk and write about, would you like it? Would it be accurate? If not, change the way you communicate.

3) Avoid absolutes. Those inthe “B” camp might also score low on emotional stability. Emotionally unstable folk tend to swear and complain more, using phrases such as “I hate”, “so annoying,” “tired of’,” fed up,” and “for once.” Absolute statements such as “I hate bagpipes” or “I am terrible at math” are language traps, Kashdan says. The more you connect the words terrible and math in your conversation, the more wired together the ideas become in your brain. While you may have trouble understanding complex algorithms, you can probably manage your personal budget. But your verbal absolutism may convince you otherwise over time, and your language can have real-life consequences: You begin to believe your repeated “bad-at-math” slogan and avoid balancing your checkbook, leading to late payments or overdrafts.

4) Be inspired. Other words that positive, open, emotionally stable people use are: universe, dream, music, writing, and books. So if you heard about a great band recently, why not share it and talk about it? Talking about new things (if, say, you always post about your kids or your business) opens up your world to expand your opportunities, Kashdan says.

As for new things, talking about new things is great, but doing new things is even better! And so, during the month of July (only one week away) and in the spirit of summer, we will be encouraging you to shake things up and suggesting new things for you to try in iGnite and around the city. After all, and as the article says, “new things open up your world.”

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This Will Put a Smile on Your Face

On this beautiful spring day it really is difficult to not feel optimistic. But, in the event the bight blue sky, glorious shades of green and bluebonnets aren’t doing it for you, check out this a-maz-ing video. And, we dare you not to watch it at least three times and pass it along to other friends. Actually, do watch it several times and pass it on to as many people as possible. This optimistic video is addictive and your cheeks may hurt from smiling so big.  It’s that good, so consider yourself warned!

Video not working? Watch it here on YouTube

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Where are Your Shoes Taking You?

So maybe you don’t feel like you are “climbing a mountain,” but just think of all of the places you go everyday. From the inside, the daily grind might not seem exciting or adventurous, but if your shoes could speak, we’re pretty sure they’d say, “We love all of the places you are going. Don’t stop living and GIVE ME MORE!”

And, if it’s an athletic shoe that you iGnite in or work out in, but haven’t replaced in the past six months, we’re pretty sure your shoes are saying, “Please replace me! I can’t keep up with your pace and if you don’t replace me your body will soon be hurting!”

Use this Luke’s Locker coupon by April 30 to replace your old shoes, and watch this week’s video to learn what other people’s shoes are saying to them:

Click image to watch video

Click image to watch video

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