Archives For relationships

Dear Sister

Alana —  April 23, 2013 — 4 Comments

Dear Sister,

You are getting married in four days! The reality of how close this is is just beginning to sink in.

I remember when Mom and Dad told me they were pregnant with you. I was 3. I wanted you to be a girl [score!] and I wanted to name you “Margie Lucy”. Margie, because she was my favorite day care provider and Lucy because… well, I just liked that name. Mom and Dad didn’t listen though, [good for them] and soon they brought home a beautiful little girl named “Halsey Leigh”.

sisters2

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The Meat That Turned Me On

Alana —  April 11, 2013 — 13 Comments

I would say our marriage has become a little lackluster lately. Not necessarily intentionally. I think we just fell into the rut of experiencing minimum change in our lives, feeling drained by daily occurrences, the drudgery of the winter, and falling into the comparison game with other happy couples or fellow travelers in this journey we call “life”. Everyone seemed to be continuing forward movement while we remained… stuck.

Dinner

Dinner

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It occurred to me, as we sat cross-legged on his bed reading Song of Solomon, that it probably wasn’t the smartest thing we’d done all day.  We were 21, hormonally charged, in literal need of physical restraint, and counting down the days to our wedding day.  Okay fine, wedding night.

McMillan-Family-Photo_WEB
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I’m Feeling Strong

Alana —  July 13, 2012 — 7 Comments

Picture a moment in your life when you were feeling stressed, agitated, bored or anxious. What were you doing? Who was with you? Were you alone or surrounded by people? Were you talking or was someone talking to you? Were you working on a project? What type of project? What was your environment like? Were you inside or outside? Were you being bombarded with questions? :) Just kidding. Consider the vivid details of that moment.

Now, picture a moment in your life when you felt energized, happy, unburdened, or smart. What were you doing in this moment? Again, consider the vivid details. Were you reading? Cooking? Writing? Listening? Who was with you? Was it loud or quiet? A fast-paced experience or a slow-paced experience? Put yourself back into that moment and try to remember the details of what was happening.

Do you have both scenarios in your head? If not, try thinking a little longer. These moments will come to mind. To give you another tip: Think of a moment where you felt like if you had to endure what you were doing for even another 5 minutes, you would go crazy and lose your mind. Now think of a moment where you realized hours had passed but you didn’t even care because you so enjoyed what you had just been doing or who you had just spent time with.

Do you have your two moments now pictured? Okay, good. You have just determined the difference between your Strengths and your Weaknesses. A Strength is an experience that energizes you, and a Weakness is an experience that drains you.

I just completed a book called Find Your Strongest Life: What the Happiest and Most Successful Women Do Differently, by author and speaker Marcus Buckingham. Before you say it – Yes, I realize he is a man writing a book for women, but I can assure you, he knows what he is talking about. :)

His description of Strengths versus Weaknesses was an entirely new twist on the topic. Until now, I have always viewed a Strength as something one is good at and a Weakness as something one does poorly. I like his definition more. Since reading Marcus’ book, I have paid close attention to the details of the moments that make me feel energized or make me feel drained. His concept is that if we are aware of what energizes us and do those things, the things that drain us will begin to fall by the wayside. We will end up feeling happier and more successful. Sometimes it may involve actually quitting something we have committed to. I know! The horror!

I’m going to get real personal for a moment and share some of my Strengths and Weaknesses.

Strengths.
Listening to another person share his/her Story
Sitting in a coffee shop and writing
Making silly dance videos
Having someone tell me I inspire them
When I laugh so hard my cheeks hurt
When I am able to take charge of a group of people and raise their spirits
When I am starting something new
When I don’t know what is going to happen next – I love the mystery!
Doodling cartoon characters
Making faces
Crying – yes, I actually enjoy crying
Riding bikes with Josh – 35 miles or less

Weaknesses.
Dealing with the inconsistency of others
Being expected to do something in detail that I have never done before
Being expected to develop a system or a process to increase productivity
Maintaining a project – I love organizing the first time, but do not like the maintenance
Feeling like I am not allowed to say, “No”
Navigating for Josh while he drives
Cooking, baking, finding or shopping for recipes
Riding bikes with Josh – 36 miles or more – interesting… this was a Strength of mine, until it reached a certain point. Then it became a weakness!

A Strong Moment – Zumba Dancing @ Rosa Park Circle
– Outside in the sunshine
– Not alone – same goal/experience as those around me
– In public – bystanders present – I enjoy dancing Zumba much more in public when people are watching
– Feel the music and my body can’t help but move to the beat
– Doesn’t have to be perfect or rigid – no judgment
– Some moves make me feel sexy
– Fitness w/o feeling like work
Kate’s (instructor) personality: Energy; spunk; confident; attitude; joy

I have started eliminating the commitments or experiences that drain me and it has allowed more time to do what energizes me. I encourage you to pay attention to the details of these moments. As you begin to filter out your Weaknesses, you will naturally become happier and more successful!

What is a Strength or Weakness that you have realized in your own life? Please share in the comment section.

Simple Ways to Nurture Your Soul

Alana —  February 7, 2012 — 6 Comments

Nina Nelson with family

I met Nina through thenonconformistfamily.com. I immediately connected with her holistic approach on life. Nina recently released her e-Book titled Simple Natural Health and I am honored to have her share a few thoughts on what she has learned here!

When someone says health, the first thing that usually comes to mind is diet or exercise. But there’s so much more to wellness than food and activity. Nourishing your soul is just as vital to your well-being as taking care of your body.

Since realizing (and acting upon) this idea, I’ve enjoyed so many benefits: I feel strong. I’ve lost weight. My relationships are richer. And I’m pursuing a purpose that seemed so unclear until now.

Eating and staying active are still very important, but I’ve learned to pay attention to these areas as well:

Rest
When we sleep, our bodies repair themselves. So when we cheat ourselves on sleep, we’re really preventing our bodies from doing some important healing.

Rest during the day is important, too. Have you ever tried to keep pushing yourself to meet a deadline only to find that the harder your push, the harder it was to finish. Our bodies work in a natural rhythm, so try to remember that during the day. Take a brief break every ninety minutes or so.

Solitude
Sometimes we just need to be alone. For introverts, like myself, this is especially true. It’s good to take a little time each day to just regroup and breathe. Take a walk, a hike, sit in the sunshine. Or, steal away to a room with a locked door or the bath to enjoy some solitude.

Prayer/meditation
This goes right along with the solitude. For me, this entails going somewhere by myself, reading a bit of my Bible and just talking to God and listening. I need this. And when I can’t steal away I try to pray throughout the day. I give thanks, ask questions, surrender troubles and just try to stay connected.

Relationship
A rich life is one full of meaningful relationships. Marriage. Extended family. Friends. All of these connections are vital for your well-being. Nurture the relationships you have and build meaningful new ones.

Creativity
I think creativity is super important. No, it’s vital to our well-being. When I create, I feel better. It makes me more creative. It helps me to stay grounded. There’s just something about putting something beautiful out into the world, whether it’s a drawing, a beautifully presented meal or poetry.

Purpose
I used to struggle with depression, feeling meaningless and unfulfilled. I knew that I was made for something special; I just wasn’t doing it. Seeking out my purpose has brought about the greatest change in my life. I’m much more aware of myself – my talents, strengths, passions – and how I can positively impact this world.

Creating a life that you love – one that makes you come alive and blesses others – can’t be done if you don’t take care of yourself. Take some time right now and figure out what habits you need to incorporate to begin nourishing your entire being.

What aspects are you ignoring that need more attention? What habits have you created that nourish your soul?

Nina Nelson is a wellness advocate, mama to four and wife to one. She writes regularly at Shalom Mama, inspiring others to live intentionally. She loves reading, snuggling and giggling at miniature horses. She just released her new book, Simple Natural Health, a resource that simplifies intentional wellness.

But… He Said I Was Pretty

Alana —  February 6, 2012 — 18 Comments

Have you ever had a scent, a song, a taste or a location bring memories flooding back to you from your past?

I have, and it happened again this weekend. I went to Lansing on Saturday to spend time with friends and family. Lansing is about an hour south-east from where I live now in Grand Rapids… Lansing is also the city I grew up in. As you can imagine I have many memories from this town.

I came alone this time, so the commute and downtime in between meeting up with people allowed for me to contemplate. I drove past a couple of the locations I use to work – McDonald’s and what use to be, Circuit City. I really enjoyed both of those jobs, but they also brought with them memories of me at 16, 19 and 22. First a girl, then a young woman, greatly desiring to be loved and told that I was beautiful and worth fighting for.

A specific memory came to mind of a coworker I hung out with. We hung out at his apartment. He didn’t live in the greatest area. It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t good either. When it was time for me to go, he walked me to the front door of his apartment, but stopped there. I stopped too. “Aren’t you going to walk me to my car?” He laughed and said, “No. It’s cold outside.” I was stunned, but not feeling confident, I didn’t call him out on it. I just turned and walked briskly to my car.

As I re-experienced this memory, my heart sank for this girl who was looking for protection and not receiving it. That experience reinforced a message that had already been festering within her, “If you were worth anything to him, he would have walked you to your car.”

Growing up, and sometimes even now, I find myself engaging in relationships that are unhealthy and abusive. Sometimes I have chosen to stick around because the thought of being alone seemed more scary than the abuse.

What abusive or unhealthy relationships are you choosing to continue simply because you are afraid to be alone, to lose a friend or to have conflict? Maybe its time to step away from this relationship. You are worth fighting for.

Reasons for My Existence

Alana —  November 14, 2011 — 20 Comments

What is most important to me? What threads are beginning to reveal themselves through my musings?

I’m taking this cue from Ivan Bickett, who will be my first guest tomorrow on Musings of a Shiny Penny. The other day we discussed themes that he finds to be his own passions. After contemplating my own passions, I discovered the below 4 Threads:

Relationships.
Community. Family. Friends. I’ve always been one to appreciate relationships, (I’m a high “I” for those who are familiar with the DiSC personality test) but only recently have I realized their vitality. Despite how we feel or what we think, we need other people in our lives to support us and challenge us.

Passion.
Dan Miller, author of 48 Days to the Work You Love, recently said, “You speak because you have a message you can’t contain.” SHAZAM! I totally resonated with this! I can’t stop thinking, believing and hoping that we were all called to live amazingly fulfilled lives. Some of us are fortunate enough to have found our passions and begin living them in our daily lives. Others of us know there has got to be something more, something bigger to this life, but we don’t know how to get from point A to point B. We are miserable and cannot bear to get up in the morning, but do not know how to utilize the tools we have to escape Groundhog’s Day. The last group of us are poor, miserable souls but have zero desire to do anything to change. It’s our lot in life. Our cross to bear. (<– those are lies by the way).

My goal and desire is to help others realize their passions, talents and what makes them tick so they can lead successful and fulfilled lives!

Hope.
It ain’t over ’til its over. This is a phrase that Ed Dobson shares in his story at Edsstory.com. It Ain’t Over, the first film in the Ed’s Story series, reminds us that life isn’t over yet and that we don’t have to feel overwhelmed by the struggles we’re facing today. [1] It’s so easy to get overwhelmed by life. I can admit I get overwhelmed on a daily basis, but know this – there is hope for you. Your life is not over. I don’t care if you are 13, 53 or 93. You are still living and you do not have to live this way anymore.

Action.
This theme has been strongly embedded in my brain by Ivan Bickett. He shares his story of sitting around, wanting a different life but doing nothing to change it. You can view more of Ivan’s story here. He is finally doing something to change.

I am learning that we can dream and dream and dream … and things overtime may change. We may get a different job, meet that special someone, start a family. Whatever. Imagine the life you could live if you were intentional. I am working on a program to help others live intentional lives. It takes work, but OHMYGOODNESS the rewards are ::melodic sing-song voice:: AMAAAZING!

K. These 4 themes are shaping my message. I can’t wait for you to hear what some of my guests have to say!

Come back tomorrow for my first guest post from Ivan Bickett @ abetterwayofbusiness.com.

[1] Edsstory.com