Tag Archive | personal growth

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Each Morning to Help You Live Intentionally and Create Your Ideal Life

Do you want to live a more intentional life?  Do you want your days to be happier?  More exciting?  More productive?  More meaningful?

To achieve our ideal life, we must first recognize that each of us is the creator of our own reality and we are responsible for our own happiness.  In each moment, we have the ability to choose love and happiness.  Although we are not the master planners of our life, we have the opportunity to create our lives through intention and our daily practices.

intention leslie schwartz

Each morning, I begin my day writing in my journal.  This practice brings me a peace that I have never experienced in any other way.  When I write, I connect with my soul and I feel a deep connection to God. Writing has helped me to realize that the answers are ALL within us. We do not need to look to others or look outside of ourselves for the answers.  We just need to allow ourselves to be silent and to listen.

When I do not begin my day writing, I often feel scattered and rushed, and my day often feels unproductive.  When I do write and set my priorities for the day, I find that I am able to stay focused throughout the day. Throughout my years keeping a journal, I have discovered that there are a few things that I write about each morning that set the tone for my day and get me off to a great start. Specifically, there are 5 questions I find myself answering each morning:

1. What am I most looking forward to today?  Life is short, and we need to make the most of each day we have here.  If you want your days to be exciting, you need to make that happen.  There should be something in the day ahead to look forward to every single day.  Something other than your alarm clock should be getting you out of bed each morning.  If nothing comes to mind right away, be intentional and come up with something to be excited about for the day.  Maybe you could plan to do an act of kindness that will brighten someone’s day.  I guarantee that will make your day as well!

2. What are my top 3 priorities today?  List the 3 things you would most like to focus your attention on today.  If you are looking to make your days more productive, I would definitely recommend setting your top priorities at the beginning of the day. I have found this practice to be especially effective in my own life.  When I do not set my priorities at the beginning of each day, I find myself feeling scattered and often running around in circles.  When I do set my priorities, I feel more focused, and as a result, I get much more done.  Do recognize that life and distractions do happen, and even your top 3 priorities may not get completed.  I find that it happens often that I don’t accomplish everything on my list, especially with it being summer and my kids are home with me.  I have found that it is important to remain flexible and to think of these things as a guide for my day rather than a rigid task list that must get completed.  Also, I have learned that it is important to recognize distractions as a gift, because they are.  It’s great to set goals for our day to help us remain focused, but ultimately, we need to recognize that we are not the master planner of our lives.

3. What am I most grateful for right now?  I personally believe that gratitude is the secret to happiness, and it is essential to spend some time in gratitude each day.   It is so important to stop and recognize all of the blessings in our lives each day.  We are ALL surrounded by so many blessings.  Many of us take so much of what we have for granted, and we often don’t recognize the gifts in our lives until they are gone.  I try to come up with something different each day, and I try to include those things that I often take for granted. (i.e. a warm bed, the cool breeze of a fan on a hot summer day, etc.)

4. What would I like to learn today?   I love to learn new things!  I think life is so exciting, and there are so many things to explore and learn about.  We all learn new things each day, but every morning I choose something that I would like to intentionally learn how to do, or something I would like to learn more about. (YouTube makes this very easy.)  I have found that this practice makes my days more exciting.

5. How could I spread love into the world today? / How may I serve?  We are here on this earth to love one another and to help one another.  We were all born with unique gifts and talents.  They were given to us so we could use them to serve and to help make the world a better place. We need the help of others to survive, and others need us and all of the gifts we have to offer.  Our actions do not need to be complicated to be effective.  A simple offering of a hug or a compliment can make someone else’s day and have more of an impact than you may know.

Other ways to phrase this question might be:

  • What are some acts of kindness I could do today?
  • What are some things I could do to help others today?
  • How could I use my natural gifts and talents to make a positive difference in the world today?

“I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”  ~Rabindranath Tagore

If you begin your day after answering those five questions, your day will be off to a great start!

If you would like to start your days with these questions but find yourself intimidated by a blank page in front of you, I have created a Daily Planner and Journal that will ask you each of those questions. You simply need to fill in the blanks.  (It is currently available on Amazon for only $3.99)  This daily planner and journal prompts you to answer the 5 questions each morning so you can live your days more intentionally and more productively.  It also provides a nighttime review to help you review your day and to keep a log of some of the activities that are essential in living a healthy, balanced life.  Click the book cover image below to find out more about the Daily Planner and Journal.

August 2016 Daily Planner and Journal Cover

Click cover image to learn more


May all your days be filled with love, excitement, learning, living, laughter, kindness, and all things good!

Peace, Love, and Blessings


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.


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

The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge Is Now Available!!

Do you want to live a more authentic, peaceful, and purposeful life? Do you want to live your life to the fullest and use your natural gifts and talents to make the world a better place?  If so, I am SO excited to introduce you to my very first book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge!


This 31-day guided journal will help you learn to recognize your worth, identify your purposes in life, and develop the habits necessary to become healthy in body, mind, and spirit.  It is intended for anyone who is starving for a little bit of alone time, or anyone who is willing to dedicate a little more time to get to know and love yourself more. If you know anyone who could benefit from this book, I would be grateful for your recommendation. It is currently available through Amazon here.

Also, if you enjoy inspiring quotes or would like to follow my journey as an author, please “Like” my FB Author page Stacy Rancourt.

A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep: Do You Want to Love Yourself More?

What if the only resolution you made this year was to spend some time getting to know and love yourself so you could live a truly authentic life, using your natural gifts and talents to make the difference you were sent to make in this world? On a scale of 1-10, how much do you love yourself?  How well do you know yourself? If your answer to either of those questions is not as high as you would like it to be, I invite you to download my FREE e-book/journal to participate in my 31-day challenge beginning on January 1, 2015. You will need 15 minutes of uninterrupted time each day to focus on yourself.  Turn off the phone, television, and get away from any distractions.  Each day, you will be asked one question that will help you get to know and love yourself more. At the end of the month, the desired result will be a deeper connection to yourself, more inner peace, love, and acceptance of yourself, and hopefully a clearer vision of your priorities and where you are going in life.  You will not need to reveal your answers to anyone. If that sounds like just what you need right now, you can download my e-book/journal The January 2015 Love Yourself More Challenge  for FREE.  The e-book will only be available for free for a limited time, so click on the book cover below to download it, and join me in working toward becoming healthy in mind, body, and spirit! lym cover2 resized updated

How Daily Time for Creativity Can Improve Your Health

“Creativity is God’s gift to us.  Using our creativity is our gift back to God.”

~Julia Cameron, The Artists Way

“Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.”  ~Pablo Picasso

It’s school vacation week here, and in an effort to minimize screen time for my kids this week, I have been scouring Pinterest for some good craft ideas.  My kids love to create things, and I encourage them to do something creative every day (especially during school vacation.)  Here are just a few ideas we have come across so far:

On Friday, my 11-year old decided to attempt to make a wooden rocking chair out of clothespins.  She was beyond thrilled with the end result!  She modified the original instructions and used popsicle sticks as well so she could fit her Beanie Boos in the chair.  She was so proud of herself that she decided to make another one for her friend and she taught my 9-year old to make one, too!

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Check out the complete instructions to make the original version of this chair at Crafty Corner.

My 11-year old also went to a cake decorating class on Friday and made this bunny cake for Easter.  Again, she was super proud of herself.  It makes me happy to see my kids happy with the results of their hard work. 🙂

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On Saturday, my daughters wanted to make this cute rabbit fruit platter for Easter.  I let the girls cut the fruit and arrange the design by themselves, and again, they were very proud of the final result.

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Here are the original instructions for this rabbit fruit platter from Worthpinning.com.

On Monday, my 6-year-old decided to make this “Our Family ROCKS!” rock garden.  She wrote “Our Family Rocks” on the big rock in the middle, and wrote the names of each family member and pet on a smaller rock around the big rock.  She was proud of her creation as well, and now everyone who comes over our house will be greeted by this rock garden.

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Here is the original picture that inspired us from Pinterest:

family rock garden

I don’t know what else is in store for the rest of the week, but I do know taking the time to be creative each day is good for the kids and it has many benefits, so I will keep encouraging it!

Creativity is good for our health, too!  It can help us to become healthy in mind, body, and spirit.  It is great for our emotional health because it is a great stress-reliever.  As a result of less stress, it may improve our physical health.  Creativity connects us with our source, so it is a wonderful way to improve our spiritual health as well.  Here are a few benefits of creativity that I have personally found:

Benefits of Creativity

1.  It’s fun!  It’s relaxing and is a great way to relieve stress and get our mind off all of our problems.  Don’t you always feel better when you just sit with a child and color?  I find it therapeutic, and it makes me happy 🙂

2.  Freedom!  There are so many ways to express our creativity.  Whether it is writing, cooking, baking, photography, drawing, painting, music, sewing, wood crafts, or whatever it is you like to do, there are so many ways to put our personality into our creations.  In art, there isn’t only one right way to do something.  Just have fun with it and find what works best for you and add your own style.

3.  Creativity helps you to discover your true self and allows you to express yourself in your own unique way.  When I started writing in my journal years ago, I would simply write about the daily events that were happening in my life at the time.  As I wrote more and more often, I would get insights on certain things and I started to discover who I really am.  I began to develop my own beliefs and form my own opinions on many topics rather than just believing what I had always been told.  I also began to come up with many new ideas of my own and I started to become more passionate about many topics.  In my writing, I found my true self.  And in that self, I found God.

4.  It keeps you aligned with your source.  When you use your creativity, you are allowing God to work through you. Sometimes when I write, the words just flow onto the paper without me even thinking about them.  It doesn’t happen every time I write, but when it does happen, I feel it is God working through me.  During those times, they are God’s words, not mine.  I felt that happen when I wrote my very first post on this blog “Secrets to Happiness on the Lifelong Journey to Complete Wellness.”  I literally woke up that morning, and the words just flowed onto my paper in about 45 minutes.  Then I got the idea to start this blog.  To this day, that post is still the most popular post on this blog.  It’s funny how God works sometimes.

5.  Serenity.  Whenever I feel stressed out, I stop what I’m doing, sit down with my journal, and write.  Just me, God, and my journal.  This immediately brings me an immense amount of peace and all my problems seem to melt away.  I am sure this would work with other forms of creativity as well, whether it be music, dance, drawing, etc.  Whatever your preferred method of creativity is, I urge you to try it next time you are stressed out.

6.  A finished project gives you a feeling of accomplishment and pride in your work.  When my daughters finish an art project that they are happy with, I love seeing them light up and filled with feelings of joy and pride for all the time and effort they put into the project.

7.  It can connect you to others with common interests.  My 11-year-old started taking a woodworking class this past year.  She is in a scroll-sawing club, and has made new friends who are always ready and willing to help her out and share their ideas with her.  Joining that club has been one of the best things she has ever done.  It gives her something to look forward to, and is consistently the highlight of her week.

Making daily time for creativity a priority is a great self-care tip!  I believe we are all artists.  I love Julia Cameron’s quote above where she says “using our creativity is our gift back to God.”  When we are gone from this earth, our creations will still live on.  Our creations are our contribution to this planet and a true expression of our uniqueness.

As we grow up, responsibilities seem to take over and we put less importance on creating and having fun (I know I do, anyway.)  I do take the time to write each day, but I also enjoy doing crafts and making photo books for my girls.  When I take the time to do those things I enjoy and actually have some fun, I feel guilty.  I feel like I “should” be doing something “more productive.”  I feel like my house “should” be cleaner.  I feel like my husband is working so hard to support our family, and I’m doing something I enjoy?  Those are just a few things that run through my head when I’m feeling guilty about taking the time out for me to create.  I need to work on getting over those feelings of guilt because I know creativity is good for me AND my family.  Whenever I am creating something, I feel relaxed and more connected to my source and I am happier and more at peace.  After all, when mom is happy, then everyone is happy, right?

I am going to make more of an effort to follow my own advice, set a good example for my kids, and make it a priority to take the time to create something every day.

What are you going to create today?

October Unprocessed Results – Eating only Real Foods For 1 Month

Over the past month, I have been taking the “October Unprocessed” challenge. I pledged to eat only REAL, unprocessed foods for the entire month of October. Many benefits resulted from this experience, including the inspiration to begin this blog, Journey to Complete Wellness. Read on to see the other benefits and challenges I encountered. 🙂

Secrets to Happiness on the Lifelong Journey to Complete Wellness

Our Journey to Complete Wellness is one we are on for our entire lives.  Since none of us are perfect, there is always room for improvement and growth in different areas of our lives.  Here are some secrets I have found to happiness during the past 38 years of my journey so far…


1.  The attitude of gratitude will ALWAYS bring you happiness.  Find something to be thankful for.  We are all constantly surrounded by so many gifts and blessings.

2.  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.

3.  Be kind to everyone, but spend the majority of your time with like-minded, positive people who are also committed to improving their personal and spiritual growth and are willing to support you on your journey.

4.  Fill your mind with only positive, inspirational and uplifting ideas and thoughts.  Turn off the news and leave the disturbing books at the library.  “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” ~ Philippians 4:8 (my favorite bible verse)

5.  Eat real food!! (It’s amazing how much energy you will have!)

6.  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.

7.  Do not judge others.  You have no idea what anyone else is going through.  Everyone has reasons for their beliefs and actions.  We are all unique and just want to be allowed to be ourselves and be accepted for who we really are.  Only then can our true gifts shine through.  “If God is infinite, then nobody is wrong.” ~ Panache Desai

8.  Think before you speak.  Is it true, helpful, inspiring, necessary, or kind?  If not, keep it to yourself.

9.  Forgive.  Holding onto anger never hurts the other person.  It only hurts yourself.  Let it go and let God take it from there.

10.  Do not gossip or spend your time consumed with other people’s lives.  Put your time and energy into improving your own.

11.  Practice acceptance.  Everything happens for a reason, and always for the overall good.  Even the most tragic situations result in more good than bad over time.  Unfortunately, sometimes it may take years to see the good, but just trust that it is for a reason.  God doesn’t make mistakes.

12.  Go for a walk every day.  Outside!

13.  When you’re feeling stressed, go outside.  Take a deep breath, look up at the sky, admire it’s beauty, and say “Thank You!”  An instant moment of peace!!

14.  Spend some time alone every day.  God speaks to you in the silence.  “The morning breeze has secrets to tell you, do not go back to sleep”~ Rumi

15.  Do less.  Downtime is NEVER wasted time. (It took me a very long time to learn this!)

16.  Do something creative every day.  Write, draw, cook, paint, anything.  Just create!

17.  The answers are all within you.  Stop looking outside of yourself for them.

18.  Focus on cooperation rather than competition.  There is an infinite supply of love and abundance in the world.  Collaborate with those who have common goals rather than competing with them.  Working together will benefit everyone!

19.  Stop trying to mask your true self.  Learn to fully love and accept yourself as you are.  If you NEED makeup to feel good about yourself, or you NEED substances (like drugs, alcohol, coffee, or even sugar…yes, sugar is a drug) to keep you going or wake you up each day, those things need to be eliminated from your life.  Your passion for life should get you out of bed each morning, not coffee!

20.  Embrace who you are and stop worrying about what others think.  Once you do this, others who are like-minded will enter your life.  You are never alone. (Although you may feel like you are for a while…just hang in there.)

21.  Go on dates with those closest to you (your mom, your spouse, each of your children individually, etc.)  Let them know they are special and worthy of your time and undivided attention.  Remember that the best gift you can ever give anyone is your full, undivided attention.

22.  Remember, you do not set the master plan for your life.  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.

23.  Don’t do anything out of guilt or obligation.  Only do things out of love.

24.  Have no expectations.  You will never be disappointed, and you will begin to view everything in your life as a gift and blessing.  Every day is full of wonderful surprises!

25.  Recognize that the best things in life are free!!

26.  Treat others the way you want to be treated.  We are all connected.  If you love yourself, that love will pour out onto others.  If you hurt yourself, you hurt others.  The opposite is true as well.

27.  Every action is a choice toward love or away from it.  Always choose the path toward love.

28.  Guard your time.  Only spend it on things that are truly important to you.  Don’t ever feel guilty for saying no.  Doing something out of guilt or obligation is not an act of love.

29.  Dedicate one day a week to rest and to be fully present with those you love.  Turn off the technology on this day and enjoy your time together creating, exploring God’s wonderful creations, and just enjoying life and making memories together. (For me, that day is Saturday and is ALWAYS my favorite day of the week and always filled with love, blessings, and gratitude!)

30.  Let go of your attachment to your possessions.  Nothing really belongs to you.  Rather, view everything you have as a temporary gift from God that can be taken away at any moment.  Stop to appreciate those gifts often.

31.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  In the end, nothing really matters except your relationships…with yourself, with God, and with others.  Spend time on what really matters.

32.  Listen to music!  Dance!  Sing!

33.  Keep a journal.  Write in it as often as  you can.  You will be amazed at the wisdom inside you.

34.  Never stop learning.  Read, read, read!  And take advice from those you admire.

35.  Clear out the clutter in all areas of your life.  Clutter drains energy.

36.  Get adequate sleep so you wake up feeling fully rested each morning.

37.  You are not an accident.  You are here for a purpose.  Turn within, learn to love and accept who you are and identify the gifts within you.  Use those gifts to make the world a better place.  🙂

If this list resonates with you and you want to learn to implement some of these ideas in your life, check out my book, The 31-Day Self-Love Challenge.