Tag Archive | journey to complete wellness

Share Your Wisdom

I have observed that life is simply a cycle of learning, doing, and then teaching.  We are all teachers.  We are here to teach each other.  Keep in mind that every person you meet has something to teach you.  Little children are experts in spontaneity and living in the present moment.  They are often placed into our lives to remind us to slow down and to learn to appreciate the moment we are in.  Seeing the world through the eyes of a child can also remind you of the perfection of nature and the gifts we often take for granted as we rush through our busy lives.

I believe we all share the responsibility to pass on our knowledge, wisdom, and stories to our descendants and to anyone else who is willing and open to receiving them.  Think about your ancestors who have passed on.  What is the most valuable thing they could have left for you?  I personally believe nothing is more precious than the pictures and documented stories from their lives, including the lessons they learned and the wisdom they gained.

We are all connected on this planet, and we were put here to help each other.  Just as parents have the duty of teaching their own children how to stay safe and how to care for themselves as they grow, I believe it is our duty to help each other by lovingly sharing any wisdom gained and knowledge in our areas of expertise.

We all have a story to tell.  It may be scary at times to put yourself out there and share your story, but you never know who you may help by doing so.  One of the main reasons you are here is so you can share your story and help others going through similar situations.  Your story is more valuable than you know.  Please share it.

 Question of the Day

Which pieces of wisdom have you gained so far in life that you would like to pass on to others?

The above excerpt is from Day 25 of the book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge.  I am currently taking the challenge and this question came up today.  If I were asked to share what I have learned so far in my lifetime, here are the bits of advice I would offer:

  1. Open your mind!  Don’t stay stuck in the beliefs you have been fed throughout your lifetime.  There are many other perspectives out there that are also right.
  2. EVERYTHING is a gift!  EVERY person, EVERY thing, and EVERY situation you encounter IS a gift.
  3. Everything happens for a reason, and always for the greater good.
  4. GRATITUDE is the secret to happiness!
  5. Use your gifts to help others!  SERVICE is the secret to joy!
  6. SURRENDER is the secret to peace!  There is no need for worry.  Let go of your worries, and let God take them over.
  7. LOVE is ALWAYS the answer!
  8. Regardless of the mistakes you have made, you are UNCONDITIONALLY loved…we ALL are!  We are spiritual beings in a physical body.  Since spirit cannot be destroyed, you are NOT broken, and you can never be broken!
  9. Nature is the only thing that is perfect.  When we interfere with the perfection of nature, we create problems.
  10. All of the answers are within you.  Find some time each day to be in silence and connect with God, and you will find them!
  11. Treat others the way you would want to be treated.  We are all connected.  What you do, say, or think about others, you are also doing to yourself.  Be kind always and extend love, not judgement!
  12. BE YOURSELF!  God doesn’t make mistakes.  You were created exactly as you are for a reason.  You are needed on this earth exactly as you are!  Your purpose in life is to spread love to others by being yourself and using your natural gifts and talents!  Share your stories and your lessons learned to help others.

What have you learned so far in life that you would like to pass on to others?  Feel free to comment and share your wisdom with the rest of us!

October Unprocessed 2016

october-unprocessed-2016

October Unprocessed starts tomorrow!

When I first decided to take the October Unprocessed Challenge 4 years ago, I had no idea what would come of it. I love a challenge (especially if it’s free), so I wanted to try it to see if I could do it (eating only REAL foods for an entire month.) I was also hoping to discover some new foods and recipes along the way so I could add more variety into our diets.  I did those things, but as I look back now, I can see that this challenge had so much more of an impact on my life than I realized at the time… it was actually life-changing for me.

Among other things, I learned that the body, mind, and spirit is much more closely connected than we may realize.  When we decide to honor and respect our bodies by fueling them with the foods nature intended for them, doors automatically open up to help us improve in the other areas of life as well.  It all comes back to self-love!

The first October Unprocessed challenge I took was a catalyst for so many wonderful things in my life. Immediately following that first challenge, I was inspired to start this blog, which has since led to even more amazing things! This will be my 4th year taking the challenge, and I can’t wait to see what comes of it!

If anyone would like to join me in this year’s October Unprocessed Challenge, you can sign up or find out more information about it here! It costs nothing to participate, but be prepared to spend a little extra time in the kitchen. The rewards are worth it, though!

My goal is to try to post on here once a week with updates on my progress and recipe ideas. On the Journey to Complete Wellness Facebook page, I will try to post daily recipe ideas and tips.  This blog is what is going to be keeping me accountable, and I hope you will join me on the journey and take one step closer to loving yourself more and becoming healthy in body, mind, and spirit.

Recipe: Strawberry Banana PB Smoothie

 

Straw banana smoothie2

This is my 13-year old daughter’s favorite smoothie.  I make this for her just about every morning.  One thing I love about smoothies is that you can adjust the ingredients to your liking.  Feel free to substitute your favorite flavor of yogurt, and also adjust the amount of milk to your desired thickness.  To make it sweeter, you may also add some raw honey.   Here is the recipe I use:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 cup milk (adjust amount to your liking to achieve desired thickness)
  • 1 ripened banana, frozen
  • 6 whole strawberries, frozen
  • 1 Tablespoon peanut butter
  • 6 oz Strawberry Yogurt (or flavor of your choice)

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a blender.  Blend until smooth.

Recipe: Avocado Smoothie

avocado smoothie jtcw

I love this smoothie!  To be honest, I did not expect to like this the first time I tried it.  I had an avocado that I wanted to use up, so I searched the web for a recipe, and I found this Avocado recipe from Allrecipes.com.   To my surprise, it was creamy, cool, and delicious!  Since then, I have made a few modifications to suit my taste and preferences, and it has become one of my favorite smoothies.  This smoothie is a nice change from my usual smoothies that contain banana.  My other recipes usually use at least one frozen ingredient, so ice is not necessary, but I think this one is perfect as is with the ice.  Even if you’re not a huge fan of avocado, I think you may be surprised.  Give it a try and let me know what you think! 🙂

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ripe avocado, halved and pitted
  • 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 6 oz. strawberry yogurt (or flavor of your choice)
  • 2 Tbsp raw honey
  • 8 ice cubes

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to blender.  Blend until smooth.  Enjoy! 🙂

 

How Our Attitude Affects Our Health

by Amanda Collier

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It is a true honor to introduce our very first guest blogger on Journey to Complete Wellness.  Amanda Collier is a writer and blogger with a public health background.  She has been at the helm of Murray Insurance Agency‘s Blog for the last 10 months.  Amanda is a talented writer with some very good advice, and I think you will like what she has to say.

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We’ve all heard the saying “attitude is everything,” but we rarely think of this in relation to our health. It is generally accepted that illnesses and injuries are something that happen to us, regardless of our attitude. Research and data is beginning to discount this outmoded belief, however. With the backing of studies, it is coming to be more widely accepted that attitude actually has a huge impact on resistance to disease, healing abilities, longevity, and overall wellness.

Attitude and Lifestyle

Your attitude has a direct impact on your lifestyle, but this may not be easy to see when you are living through it. If you feel positive about the day ahead and see yourself as competent enough to handle whatever comes your way, you may be more likely to engage in healthy habits. Walking, working out, drinking water, eating healthy, all of these behaviors seem possible and easy to do when your outlook is positive. A negative outlook may make these activities seem overwhelming and impossible.

Coping with Challenges

The way that we perceive challenges and the way that we choose to cope with those challenges can be improved by facing obstacles with a positive perspective. People tend to improve quicker and see better results when facing health challenges like illnesses and injuries with a positive outlook. While an optimistic approach can have some benefits in itself, people that have a positive outlook also tend to be solution focused and more committed to treatment plans.

Dealing with Emotions

It is impossible to bottle up emotions and stay positive. Freely expressing emotions can be therapeutic and can help individuals to live with a strong positive outlook. In some cases, it may be helpful to see an emotional counselor in order to work through difficult emotions and regain a bright outlook. Emotional counseling may sound like something that is out of reach, but many health insurance plans now help pay for these services because of the indisputable link between emotional and physical health.

Focus on Improving Attitude

A positive attitude is something that can –and should – be cultivated. Shifting to a positive outlook takes thoughtfulness and diligence, but can have lasting benefits on all areas of your life. Over time and with practice you may eventually find that you default to positivity, your first thought in any situation is a positive one.

The following are a few ways that you can work to shift to a more positive attitude:

  • Be conscious of your immediate thoughts and whether they are positive or negative
  • Identify some things that you think negatively about, such as body image or your job, and work on engaging in more positive thinking about those areas
  • Exercise regularly so that your excess energy does not turn into internal stress and negativity
  • Eat healthier so that your body feels better and your mind does not have discomfort to dwell on
  • Banish negative self-talk and work on replacing it with positive self-talk
  • Socialize often and make sure that your circle is filled with positive people

20 Ways to Love Yourself More

20 Ways to love yourself more short

Taking time for your own self-care is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself, for those closest to you, and for your community.  Once you are able to love and accept yourself unconditionally, that love eventually pours out to others in an authentic and loving way.

In the case of an emergency on a plane, you are told to put on your own oxygen mask first before you assist others.  That is because you will not be of any help to anyone else if you run out of oxygen.  The same is true in other areas of life.  Loving yourself is the first step to loving others.  When we care for ourselves first and make our own needs a priority, we are better able to help those around us.  Here are 20 ways to love yourself more:

  1. Make sleep a priority in your life.  Make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep each night, or the amount of sleep your body needs to wake up refreshed.  If you have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, here are some tips to help you get the sleep you need.
  2. Drink more water.  Water is required by every cell of the body and it keeps every part of your body working properly.  Do you get the amount of water your body needs?  Guidelines for the amount of water you should drink every day are controversial and vary depending on the weight, gender, and level of activity of each individual, but the old standby of 64 oz per day is still a popular recommendation.
  3. Take a yoga class.  Yoga is a fantastic tool to help improve your health in body, mind, and spirit.  In addition to improving your flexibility, building muscle strength, and perfecting your posture, yoga can help you in so many different ways.
  4. Go for a walk outside.  Go with a friend, go with your dog, or go by yourself.  What is important is that you get out in the fresh air and reap the benefits of nature.  Nature restores health.  From the sun providing you with Vitamin D to the minerals in the rocks on the ground and everything in between, everything in nature is medicine!
  5. Observe one day of rest every week.  On this day, you will do no work.  Instead, you will take the time to slow down, relax, live in the present, enjoy time with your loved ones, and be grateful for all of the blessings surrounding you.  Personally, I feel this practice is the best thing I have ever implemented in my life.  It is not easy to do in this world that promotes busyness 24/7, but the rewards are many!  Give it a try, and see what happens.
  6. Plan time for creativity.  We were put on this earth to create.  Whether you want to believe it or not, you ARE an artist.  We all are.  Whether you like to paint, sew, draw, write, take pictures, or create music, it is time to honor that artist within you and make the time to let yourself create.  Ideally, it would be great if you could set aside some time every day, but if that is not possible, schedule time at least once a week to let your inner artist come out and play.  Don’t worry, those things that you think you “should” be doing instead will still be there when you have finished.  Try it.  Schedule time on your calendar right now.  You will thank yourself later.    “Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.” ~Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way
  7. Embrace your uniqueness.  Accept yourself exactly as you are.  Recognize that you were born with the personality traits needed to help you fulfill your purpose here.  Nobody else is here for the same exact purpose as you, so there is no need to compete or compare yourself to anyone else.  Although our society praises some traits over others, know that your personality traits are not weaknesses.  Learn to accept and embrace what society defines as your “imperfections,” and use the natural gifts and talents you have to help make the world a better place.
  8. Take a Real Food Challenge.  You will be surprised at how much energy you will have.  100 Days of Real Food is a fantastic resource for some great real-food recipes!
  9. Practice Gratitude.  View every encounter and experience as a gift.  Even the seemingly bad situations are a gift in the end.  Try to recognize and appreciate these gifts every day.  Think of three things you are grateful for RIGHT NOW.  Keep a gratitude journal.
  10. Move your body.  In any way you wish.  Find something you love to do, and do it!  Dancing, cleaning, walking, gardening, hiking, or swimming are just a few examples, but it could be any activity you enjoy.  The important thing is that you get up and get moving.
  11. Surround yourself with those who love, support, encourage, and inspire you.  Be kind to everyone at all times, but spend the majority of your time with like-minded, positive people.  Let go of draining friendships, stop hanging out with people who are negative or those who spend their time gossiping and complaining, and do not tolerate disrespect from anyone.
  12. Practice doing one thing at a time.  Do not multitask.  Do one thing at a time, give it your all, and be fully present in everything you do.  Heaven on Earth happens in the moments when you are fully present.  I know this isn’t easy to do.  Especially if you are the primary caretaker of a young child who requires your care 24/7, I recognize that you NEED to multitask.  I’ve been there.  But even a few minutes of focused presence can make a big difference.
  13. Learn something new.  Make the time to learn something new that interests you.  Were you always interested in learning how to decorate cakes or Irish Step Dance, but you never found the time?  You need to MAKE the time.  Take one step toward that today.  Get a book at the library, watch a You Tube video related to your interest, or sign up for a class.  Get out your calendar now and schedule some time to do this.  You will thank yourself later! 🙂
  14. Keep a journal.  You may be surprised at some of the insights that go into it.  The wisdom is all inside of you.  You just need to take the time to be still and let it flow.  Writing in a journal can also be very therapeutic and help you to release some of your worries and fears.
  15. Forgive.  Let go of all bitterness you have toward others.  It is not hurting them at all.  It only hurts you, and the longer you hold onto it, the longer it eats away at you.  If you don’t let it go, eventually those emotional issues can manifest into physical illness in your body.  Choose to set yourself free and forgive everyone now, including yourself.  Remember, everyone is just doing the best they can with what they have in the moment.
  16. Practice Mindful Eating.  How often do you eat while doing other things?  If you’re like me, it is most of the time.  I find myself eating while I work or while I drive to save myself time and increase my productivity, and as a result I end up eating more than I realize because I’m busy doing other things.  I think a lot of health issues our society faces today are due to an unhealthy relationship with food, and I believe mindful eating could help with that.  When you eat mindfully, this means you are sitting down at the table and doing nothing else but focusing on the food you are eating.  The television is not on, you aren’t working or checking your phone or e-mails.  If you want to appreciate your food more and enjoy it more fully, give mindful eating a try.
  17. Say no.  And don’t feel guilty about it.  When you do anything out of guilt or obligation, that is not acting in a loving way.  Be honest with yourself and others.  Your time is precious, and it must be guarded fiercely and spent only on those things that are important to you.
  18. Spend some time in silence every day.  Meditate.  Pray.  Write.  Create.  Do whatever it is that helps you to be still and listen.  God speaks to you in the silence. Recognize that downtime is never wasted time.  Downtime is necessary to help you to develop your most important relationships of all – with yourself and with God.
  19. Stop trying to be perfect.  In this physical world, there is no such thing as perfect.  Just do the best you can, have a positive attitude, and view every mistake as a learning experience.  Every mistake you have ever made in your life has helped to shape you into the person you are today.  Recognize that as a gift!
  20. Plan your days, but not your life.  Remember, you do not set the master plan for your life.  Make daily to-do lists to help keep yourself on track and improve your productivity, but stay flexible.  Embrace distractions and view them as gifts.  Everything is happening in its own perfect time, so stop trying to rush everything.  Stop trying so hard and just let go and allow God to work through you.

BONUS idea:  Take a Self-Love challenge.  Get to know yourself, recognize your accomplishments, and learn to identify your goals and priorities and what is important to you at this point in your life.   Learn to honor your time and achieve the balance in your life that you have been looking for.

For more ideas on how to love yourself more, or if you would like help implementing some of these ideas into your life, check out my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge.  The book expands upon many of these ideas and provides step-by-step guidance to help the readers implement them into their lives. 🙂

For more self-care tips and inspirational stories and quotes, please like my Facebook Page, Stacy Rancourt

What is YOUR favorite self-care tip?  Please leave a comment below.

Random Acts of Kindness Generator and Additional Kindness Resources

kindness ripple jtcw

Random Acts of Kindness Generator

Being kind sounds so easy, but often we are so caught up in life’s activities that we forget to extend a helping hand. Simple things such as opening the door for someone, or helping a neighbor move are all opportunities to make someone’s life a little easier.

Random Acts of Kindness week is coming up on February 14th, and in order to prepare you for that,  Shari’s Berries has come up with a random acts of kindness generator.  Simply click on a category in the top row and their generator will provide a fun idea for the day.  There are over 50 ideas, so enough for being kind all year long!
RAK Generator preview 500

Additional Acts of Kindness Resources

Kindness Ideas

 

Inspiring Quotes and Stories about Kindness

Movies

  • The Letter Writer.   This inspiring movie is a great reminder of the impact our actions have on others, and the difference one act of kindness can make.
  • Pay it Forward

If you have some suggestions for more inspiring movies about kindness, please let me know about them in the comments below.

 

Coloring Pages

Be kind adult coloring page

From freelargeimages.com

kindness adult coloring page

From http://www.printablecolouringpages.co.uk/?s=kindness

Videos and Inspirational Stories

These inspiring videos demonstrate how a small act of kindness can make a big impact.

Do YOU have any kindness ideas, quotes, videos, or inspiration you would like to share? Feel free to leave them in a comment below or share them on the February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook support group. Thank you! 🙂

 

February Acts of Kindness Challenge

When I think of the month of February, the first thing that comes into my mind is Valentine’s Day.   And when I think of Valentine’s Day, I am reminded of love.  So, I thought it might be fun to challenge myself and my family to spread our love during the month by performing at least one act of kindness each day.

When I first suggested the idea to my family in 2014, they were all really excited. I’m sure their excitement probably had something to do with me mentioning a reward at the end if we were able to complete it, but the real reward turned out to be the experience in itself.  We have taken the challenge every year since, and I can see this tradition being one that we will continue for a long time to come!

I invite you to join us and many others in spreading love and kindness all month!  Feel free to make up your own rules, or follow our guidelines below.

Act of Kindness Aesop light

 

Act of Kindness Challenge Guidelines:

  1. Prepare.  Print out this February 2017 Acts of Kindness Log for each member of your family.  Use it to record your acts of kindness throughout the month.  Also keep track of the acts of kindness performed toward you each day.  You might be surprised to actually see how many nice things people do for each other each day. 🙂  We put ours on the refrigerator so it stays in view and is easy to remember.
  2. Identify a Reward to keep You Motivated.  If you are taking the challenge with others, take a vote to see how you want to reward yourselves once you have completed the challenge!  In the past, we have rewarded ourselves by going out to dinner together as a family (something we usually only reserve for birthdays or special occasions.)  Come up with something that works for you and your family and that will motivate you to complete the challenge.  Don’t skip this step.  This is the step that keeps my kids motivated to keep going throughout the challenge.
  3. Spread your love!  Each day in February, perform at least one act of kindness and write it down on the log.  Try to come up with something different each day.  My definition of an Act of Kindness is:  any action you take to brighten someone’s day without expecting anything in return.  Also, write down any acts of kindness others performed toward you.
  4. Encourage each other and keep each other accountable.  Each day, share your ideas with your family members or loved ones who are also participating in the challenge.  Talk about the acts of kindness you performed.  Also, feel free to share your ideas and inspiration in our February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook group so we can continue to support and encourage each other and keep each other accountable.
  5. When the month is over, share what you learned from the experience.  Feel free to join our February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook group and share your stories with us there as well!
  6. REWARD YOURSELF!!  Don’t skip this step, either.  For many of us, the real reward is the experience in itself, but make sure to recognize your accomplishment and follow through on the reward you set in step 2.

I invite you to join us in this challenge and spread your love. It only takes a small act to make a big impact. Let’s make a difference together! “Like” the Facebook page February Acts of Kindness Challenge for inspirational stories and quotes each day, or join the Facebook support group at February Acts of Kindness Challenge to share your ideas and inspiration. 🙂

Feel free to do more than one Act of Kindness a day.  Don’t be afraid to write them all down.  You may already do several acts of kindness each day without even realizing it.  The point here is to become aware of all the good things you already do and realize the impact it has on others.  You may also want to try to take it a step further and do some things you normally wouldn’t do.  When we make a small effort to brighten someone’s day out of love (not obligation), we are rewarded with happiness.  Anything done out of obligation is not an act of love and will only cause you to feel resentment.  It doesn’t matter whether your acts of kindness are random or intentional, but to honor your own self-care, please make sure they are performed out of love.

As you perform more acts of kindness, you may also notice yourself becoming the recipient of more acts of kindness.  Learn to accept these gifts with gratitude.  Many times it is more challenging for us to receive than it is to give.  We may resist acts of kindness toward us because we may feel like we will owe the other person, but when you let people do nice things for you, you are actually giving them a gift.  Learning how to let others help you might be just what you need to learn from this challenge…I know from previous years it was exactly what I needed to learn.kindness mark twain

RESOURCES

If you run out of ideas at any point during the challenge, this Random Acts of Kindness generator is fantastic!

Check out this link for some great Random Acts of Kindness ideas!

“Like” the Facebook Page The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation.

Check out the inspiring movie, The Letter Writer. It is a great reminder of the impact our actions have on others, and the difference one act of kindness can make.  If you have some suggestions for more inspiring movies about kindness, please let me know about them in the comments below.

Random Acts of Kindness week is a 7-day celebration of kindness.  This year it falls on February 10-16, 2017!

Check out this inspiring 5 minute video to see how one small act of kindness can make a big impact.  

Do YOU have any kindness ideas, quotes, videos, or inspiration you would like to share? Feel free to leave them in a comment below or share them on the February Acts of Kindness Challenge Facebook support group. Thank you! 🙂

Top 10 Inspiring Books I Read in 2015

top 10 inspirational books 2015 jtcw

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ~Dr. Seuss

Reading is something I am passionate about.  I never leave the house without a book.  You never know when you will have to wait, and I find that a book always comes in handy during those times.  There are so many interesting things to learn in life, and reading books is one of my favorite ways to keep life exciting and learn about those things I am interested in.  As 2015 comes to a close, I am reviewing the books I have read this year and reflecting on all the wonderful and exciting things I have learned.

I use Goodreads to keep a list of the books I would like to read as well as to rate, review, and keep track of books as I read them.  At the beginning of 2015, I had set a goal for myself to read 26 books.  I only finished 18 books this year, but I also wrote a book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge, so I’m not going to beat myself up for not reaching my goal.  Of the 18 books I read this year, here are my Top 10 Recommendations.  They are listed in no particular order.  Click on the hyperlink or the book image for my review of each.

  1.  A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

Marianne Williamson shares her reflections on A Course in Miracles and her insights on the application of love in the search for inner peace.  I loved this book!  Marianne is filled with wisdom about life and love, and I truly enjoyed reading it.  There is so much information in here about every aspect of life!  I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is open to hearing the messages in it.  It is the type of book that will appear in your life when you are ready for it.

A Return to Love Marianne Williamson

 

 

 

 

 

2.  One Month to Live by Kerry & Chris Shook

What if you only had one month to live?  How would you make each day meaningful?  How would you relate to others differently?  What would you do to make the rest of your life really matter?  This book helped me to realize the importance of living intentionally so I may make the most of my time, fulfill my purpose on this earth, and make the difference I was sent here to make.  This book reinforces what really matters in life:  relationships.  Relationships are eternal, but everything else is temporary.

One Month to Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron

“Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.”  That was a very powerful quote from the book that spoke to me.  We are ALL artists.    We were created to create.  This book will help you to unleash your inner artist and reclaim that creativity that you may have hidden deep down.  This is the book that gave me the push and the tools to help me write my own book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge, which was published this year.

The Artists Way

4.  Rachel’s Tears by Beth Nimmo and Darrell Scott with Steve Rabey

“The Columbine tragedy in April 1999 pierced the heart of our country. We later learned that the teenage killers specifically targeted Rachel Scott and mocked her Christian faith on their chilling, homemade videotapes. Rachel Scott died for her faith. Now her parents talk about Rachel’s life and how they have found meaning in their daughter’s martyrdom in the aftermath of the school shooting.”  This book had a huge impact on my life.  Rachel’s spirituality inspired me greatly.  After my first reading of the book several years ago, I began writing letters to God in my journal just as she had.  My letters to God have brought me to a whole new level spiritually, and it is all because of the influence of this authentic 17-year-old girl who just wanted God to use her to make a difference in the world.  She sure made a difference in my life, and I’m sure she has inspired countless others as well.  Her parents also inspire me through their positive attitude, their willingness to forgive, and their belief that God used the Columbine tragedy for the good of the world.

To anyone who has any interest in deepening their spirituality, I certainly recommend this book.

Rachel's Tears

5.  The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman

I loved this book!  I would highly recommend it to EVERYONE.  It may have initially been written to help improve marriages, but the concepts in the book can apply to any relationship.  Once we recognize the love language of our partner, friend, child, etc., we will be better able to show them we care and help to improve that relationship.

The Five Love Languages

6.  The Top Five Regrets of the Dying by Bronnie Ware

I loved this book and I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in living a happy and authentic life and having no regrets when they get to the end of it.  Sadly, death is a subject many people fear and they do not want to think about it until it is too late and they are forced to.  We are all going to die someday.  The sooner we accept that truth, the sooner we will be able to set our own priorities and live a life focused on the things that are really important to us.

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

7.  There’s a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem by Wayne Dyer

I love the teachings of Wayne Dyer!  If I had to describe this book in one word, I would say it is about LOVE.  Wayne Dyer passed away this year, but he knew about love and being connected to everyone and everything, and I’m so grateful he is going to live on through his books and teachings so we can all learn to do the same.  I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is open to embracing their spirituality and connecting more with everyone and everything in the universe.

There's a Spiritual Solution to Every Problem

8.  Weekends with Daisy by Sharron Kahn Luttrell

I would recommend this book to readers of all ages!  It kept my interest the entire time, and it was a fairly quick and easy read at just over 300 pages.  Whether you are currently a dog-lover or not, you will finish this book with a new appreciation for dogs.

Weekends with Daisy

9.  What Color is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles (Review not available)

After being a stay-at-home mom for 12 years, I went back to work for the first time this year, and I wish I had read this book before I tackled my resume and went on my first job interview in over 17 years.  I did get through it and found the perfect job for me (actually, two of them — both part time).  This book is filled with current resources and tips that can be helpful to anyone in search of a job.  This book goes further than general tips as it asks you to really get to know yourself and find out what you are really looking for in a job.  I especially enjoyed Appendix A: Finding Your Mission in Life.  A must read for those in search of a job.

What Color is Your Parachute 2015

10.  The Julian Chapter by RJ Palacio

Wonder and 365 Days of Wonder, both by R.J. Palacio, were both very inspiring to me.  They are some of my all-time favorite books.  The Julian Chapter is the final book that completes the story, and I love this one as well!

The Julian Chapter

For more inspiring books, here are the top 10 books I read in 2014.

Which books have inspired you this year?  Please let me know in the comments below.

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

Are you tired of making New Year’s Resolutions you can’t keep?

This year, instead of focusing on all the things you want to change about yourself, what if you made a different kind of resolution? What if the only resolution you made was to love yourself more, exactly as you are?

You are a perfect creation just as you are!  You were born with so many natural gifts to share with the world, but when you focus on all the things you think are “wrong” with you or that society tells you are “wrong” with you, your precious time and energy will be spent on the wrong areas and everyone will be missing out on the real gifts you have to bring to the world. Instead, why not focus on being yourself, discovering those gifts, and sharing them with those around you?

marie forleo

When you learn to love yourself unconditionally and live a more authentic life, all of the things you think are “wrong” with you will naturally take care of themselves. For example, if losing weight was going to be your resolution, that will naturally happen when you take the time to love yourself as you are and commit to discovering the emotional cause of your eating habits. Once you are able to deal with and overcome those emotional issues, you will naturally want to care for your body and fuel it with real foods that nature intended us to eat. Then, the weight will fall off naturally. The same goes for any other area of your life that you think might need improvement.  When you begin to live authentically, everything begins to fall into place and your dreams will begin to come true!

If you do want to live a more authentic life and get to know and love yourself more but you don’t exactly know how to do that, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge was written to help you do just that.  It requires just 15 minutes of your undivided attention each day for 31-Days. You will learn to embrace your uniqueness, discover your priorities so you can spend your time and energy on those things that really matter in life, and recognize your gifts and talents so you can share them with the world and fulfill the purpose that you were sent here to make.

The_31Day_SelfLove_Cover_for_Kindle

So, whatever challenge or resolution you decide to make for this New Year, I wish you much success!