Know Thyself

Have you ever taken those quizzes (on BuzzFeed, etc.) that tend to circulate around Facebook, promising to reveal certain aspects of your personality or character? Most of them are pure fluff. However… if you take enough of them, you begin to see patterns.

Know Thyself | Life, Unleashed

Being the “personality junkie” that I am, I can’t resist taking these silly quizzes. I’ve taken quite a number of them, actually, saving the results I get from each in a file on my computer. There seems to be at least a little bit of truth that can come out of them, to be honest.

For example, one thing I hadn’t noticed about myself, until I saw the same result pop up from multiple quizzes, is that I’m quite diplomatic.

{ DIPLOMATIC (adj.): having or showing the ability
to deal with people politely (Merriam-Webster);
tactful ability to avoid offending others or hurting their feelings,
especially in situations where this ability is important (Dictionary.com). }

This is very true of me, though. So, no wonder it came through in the quizzes!

WHERE TO BEGIN

One of my favorite tools is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). While I know there’s a lot of controversy out there regarding the validity of this profiling, I still feel that it’s one of the most accurate I’ve come across.

Through taking the free test at 16Personalities.com, I learned that I am primarily an INFP (60%), but that I’m also about 40% ENFP (an ambivert is someone who is both extraverted and introverted). Some aspects of each fit me better, yet other aspects don’t seem to fit me at all. Therefore…

A WORD OF CAUTION

I fully believe that no one test is going to be able to peg us 100%, spot-on. Reason being, we are all unique and complex individuals.

However, that being said, I think these are still highly valuable tools with which you can start getting to know yourself better!

WHY SELF-AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT

I believe that it’s important to take the time to be more self-aware, as it can help you to be better able to find what works best for you — whether that’s in your relationships, your health, your work, your hobbies, etc.

For example, by knowing that I lean heavily toward the introverted side, I know that I’m going to have to ensure that I get enough time alone to recharge, especially during busy seasons, like the week between Christmas and New Years. My hubby still doesn’t understand why I cannot do 4 days straight of back-to-back family gatherings in a row. But it’s true… I get seriously worn out and irritable, and I need time alone, in quiet, to just do my own thing, and not have to be “on”. It’s like a rechargeable battery: I need to be “put on the charger” to build back up my internal juices before I’m ready to go again!

Image result for quote + know thyself

Another example is regarding work.

Several years ago, I had just gotten out of a job that was all kinds of wrong for me, and was desperate to avoid landing in a similar position with my next place of employment. So, I sat down and made two lists: the parts of previous jobs that I had enjoyed (as well as some job “wishlist” items), and the parts of those former positions that I absolutely hated and didn’t wish to repeat. Then I took these lists into consideration while reading job descriptions in my hunt for work.

Because of this, my next position ended up being far better than anything I’d had up until that point. And I believe it’s very much thanks to my willingness to take the time to sit down and reflect on what does & does not work for me.

YOUR MOST IMPORTANT SELF

The most important part of yourself, if you’re a follower of Jesus, is your identity in Christ. By having accepted God’s gift of salvation (an eternity with Him, in heaven), you are now a daughter (or son) of the Most High God! And this changes everything.

This part of yourself is where you find your strength, power, and confidence. God in you is the source of all these things you cannot access on your own. You have the same power in you that raised Christ from the dead — how amazing is that?

Knowing who you are in Him — that He lives through you — is hugely powerful! A true game-changer! For me, it’s given me a confidence that I have never before had, and it’s increased my self-esteem exponentially. As such, I’m far stronger, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, than I’ve ever been, and that affects all other aspects of my life.

GETTING STARTED

There are a lot of ways you can get to know yourself better. To start, I highly recommend finding out your MBTI (here). Once you’ve got that, it will serve as a good foundation from which to judge everything else.

I also really encourage you to start a journal. Write down what you learn about yourself, and how you feel about those discoveries! You’ll be able to catch patterns, over time, and as you understand yourself better, it will help you improve all aspects of your life!

To help you out, here are a few of my other favorite resources for becoming more self-aware:

JUST FOR FUN…

Leave your MBTI results in the comments, below! I’d love to know what you found out!

Not My Kingdom

As an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to get caught up in building your business. There are a million moving pieces and, if you’re on your own, you are the one in charge of juggling all of those pieces, ensuring that you don’t drop any of them!

As a Christian entrepreneur, it’s even trickier, as you also need to be constantly checking your actions against God’s will and plans for your life and business!

Not My Kingdom - Life Unleashed

In recent weeks, I’ve made some changes to the side-gig I had going on — basically, I traded one network marketing company for another, and then regretted my decision. As such, I’m in the process of getting ready to return to the previous company. And, as I’m going all into “planning” mode, again, about how I’ll run things differently, this time, I hear God whisper a question to me: “Are you counting on this MLM to provide for you, financially? Or, are you willing to trust Me to provide for all of your needs?” Ouch.

God is basically warning me to be careful that I’m not trying to build my own kingdom, rather than helping Him to build His.

If I don’t seek God’s direction for my life and business, then yes, I end up building an “empire” dedicated to myself, and looking to take all of the credit. Instead, I need to remember DAILY — even moment-to-moment — that my true purpose for even existing on this planet is to know God, love God, make Him (and His kingdom) known to others, and to bring Him all of the glory!

The beauty lies in the fact that, by following God’s leading, and going with His plans for my business (and my life), things will then turn out far better {Eph.3:20} than I could even imagine, and I will be guaranteed to see “fruit” from my efforts {God promises us in Scripture that, if we follow His will, we will prosper!}

The best way I’ve found to be sure that I am remembering to choose God’s ways over my own, is to journal. I write out my ideas, and then “talk” to God (through the words on the page) about what He has to say on the matter. Sometimes He’ll lead me to expand on the idea, and other times He’ll point out things I hadn’t considered, leading me to realize that perhaps it’s not the best path for me to pursue. And yes, at times I don’t get my answers right away. Sometimes I need several days’ worth of morning journaling sessions — coupled with God’s Spirit “speaking” to me through various sources — before I finally “see” which way God wants me to go.

Regardless, He is faithful. I know that I can trust Him to guide me, and that He will provide grace and correction for those times when I stubbornly go my own way, or just plain forget to seek Him first.

“Whether you turn to the right or the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you saying,
‘This is the way; walk in it’.” {Isaiah 30:21}

 

Abiding In the Vine

Abiding in the Vine | Life, Unleashed

Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself,
unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
“I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit;
for without Me you can do nothing.”
(John 15:4-5, NKJV)

 

Have you ever read this passage, and felt a little bit lost, unsure of what it means to “abide”? I know I have.

Other versions of this verse substitute the word “remain”, and that helps, to an extent. But, I like to get really, really clear when it comes to instructional passages of Scripture — especially ones (like this one) that promise blessings for having obeyed them!

According to Dictionary.com, “to abide” is … “to remain; to continue; to stay or live somewhere“. The synonyms for the word also provide clues: “keep to; hold to; follow; stick to; acknowledge; respect; defer to…“.

I can break it down even further, just based on thinking through what these verses are describing.

Jesus is painting a word-picture of a vine and its branches… saying that He is the vine, and you and I are the branches. In order to produce “fruit“, we have to “abide” in the Vine. In other words, the branches have to stay connected to the vine. If you cut the branch off, it’s going to wither and die (verse 6). However, so long as the branch stays connected to the vine, and is taken care of by the gardener (God), the branch will stay health & vibrant, and can produce “much fruit“!

So, what does it look like to “stay connected to” Jesus?

Well, for me it means meeting with Him every morning, before I turn on my computer and “let the world in“. Mind you, I am definitely NOT one of those early birds who gets up before the sun to do my devotions! I’m lucky if I can pull my butt out of bed after the fourth time I’ve hit the snooze button on my alarm! (And yes, I have plans to read Mel Robbins’ book, soon! LOL). I then get my daughter off to school, too, before sitting down with my coffee & journal for my “quiet time”. But it has made a tremendous difference in my faith to give Jesus that first bit of every day. I also make sure to chat with Him throughout my day-to-day activities, asking for guidance, thanking Him for things that move my heart, etc. He says He never leaves us, so I picture Him always hanging out with me, wherever I’m at — on the couch, at the kitchen table, driving in the car.

Whatever feels right for you, to make sure you’re staying connected to (abiding in) Jesus, do that. I’m positive that God smiles when we make the effort to keep aware of His proximity.

Something More

Do you ever feel that restlessness inside? … The one that says, there’s gotta be more to life than this?

I believe that’s what is meant when the Bible says that God “has set eternity in [our] hearts…(Eccl. 3:11b).

Something More | Life, Unleashed

Too often, we tend to get caught up in our earthly life, and we forget that this earth isn’t our home. We are here for a purpose — one that’s so much greater than ourselves.

It’s easy, in the busyness of our day-to-day, to fall for the lie that our lives our all about us. But they aren’t. God placed each one of us right where we are, at this point in time, surrounded by these people, “for such a time as this“. We have a role to play for His kingdom… a purpose He predestined for us before we were even born!

So, that restlessness you feel? That’s your wake-up call, reminding you that you have work to do … that it’s time to stop living for yourself, and to start partnering with God so He can show you the special job He’s assigned to you.

Can this work get done without you? Maybe. But, it won’t be in the way that God originally intended. And, think about it this way: You’ve got a unique blend of your own style & experiences that, perhaps, can reach someone better than anyone else could. So, these people could end up missing out, because you neglected to take up the role you were created for!

Personally, I count it a privilege that God would want a messed-up gal like me to play a part in His kingdom building! You’d think that a perfect God would want perfect people to help Him with such an important job! But, nope … He recruits from the pit… from the mud & mire. While I may not see myself as equipped or qualified, God says, “Come on, girl! I’ll give you everything you need for the job. Just come as you are. It’s all good.” ♥

So, the next time you feel that restlessness within, stop and ask God to make it clear to you what He has for you to do. I promise you, He’ll show you the way.

What It Means to Live Free

I think it’s safe to say that every human being longs for freedom — some probably more than others.

For those of us over here in the West, we enjoy a lot of freedoms. And yet, we often let ourselves get into bondage.

What do I mean?

What it means to live free | Life, Unleashed

I guess I’m thinking mainly along the lines of mindset. We get “stuck” in certain ways of thinking, which leads to feeling stuck in certain behaviors… and we end up not feeling so “free”.

So, what does it mean to “live free”? When you read my site’s tagline (Dream Big … Live Free), what comes to mind?

Living free might look different to different people, as we all see things through the lens of our own circumstances, etc. For me, though, living free looks like this:

• It is taking ownership of your God-given identity, personality, and CHOICES.

• It is letting go of being controlled by others’ expectations of you… and the “shoulds” that try to run your life.

• It is letting go of mediocre, aimless living (life where you’re existing, rather than thriving).

• It is freedom of choice.

• It is finding what works for you, in all areas of your life.

• It is pursuing your purpose, regardless of how crazy it might seem to those around you.

• It is feelings of victory, boldness, and the confidence that comes from knowing who you really are.

• It is a soul-deep knowing that you are meant for more.

• It is living authentically true –without apology– to who God created you to be.

• It is intentionally designing your life’s path, in cooperation with God, embracing His plan for you, and learning to live in the freedom that that brings!

BE FREE • BE YOU • DREAM BIG

So, what does “living free” look like to you?

Like Little Children

Why so serious?” – The Joker (The Dark Knight 2)

Do you ever let yourself relax enough to feel like a kid, again? Do you splash in puddles, or do you complain every time it rains? Do you ever run away from your significant other, sing-songing, “You can’t catch me!“, or are you too worried about what others might think?

Like Little Children | Life, Unleashed

As adults, for whatever reason, we seem to lose our ability to play. Instead, life becomes serious, and we worry about keeping up appearances.

In Matthew 18:3, Jesus says that, in order to get into heaven, we need to become like little children {note: He doesn’t say become children, but become like little children}. And what I believe He’s getting at, here, is that we need a renewed sense of awe & wonder.

Have you ever looked at a gorgeous sunset, and marveled at God’s artistic talent? I like to think of the sky as His great big canvas, and the sunsets as His works of art displayed for us to gush over!

Have you ever laid outside at night and watched the stars, and felt overwhelmed by the wonders of how deep and wide the universe actually is? It’s so mind-boggling, because our tiny, finite minds can’t even begin to grasp its size!

When is the last time you sat down and did some finger-painting — just got all-out messy, without a care?

I honestly think that part of why we suffer from so much stress and anxiety is because we spend most of our time worrying, and not nearly enough time playing.

Dr. Stuart Brown has a book called, “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul“, in which he actually makes a scientific case about this… about how, when adults bring PLAY back into their lives, their health improves, their relationships improve, and more!

For me, incorporating “play” looks like taking time to color in my sketchbook, or getting creative with fingerpaints, or splashing in puddles after it rains, or climbing trees in my backyard, or rolling down the hill at the park with my kids.

Worried about grass stains, or ruining your clothes? Who cares?! Does a stain really matter in the grand scheme of things? Isn’t enjoying your LIFE far more important? Personally, I’d rather have ruined clothing and a carefree, relaxed spirit — a life full of joy! — than a pristine appearance, any day.

………………

How can YOU add more play to your life? What inspires awe and wonder for you?

Called To Be A Writer

Have you ever tried to ignore something, but just couldn’t seem to escape it? I most definitely have. Let me tell you a story…

Called To Be a Writer | Life, Unleashed

For my 10th birthday, an older friend gave me my very first diary. I still have that book today. It’s got a mint-green cover, and the pages are heavily perfumed. It has its own lock and key.

I remember, as a young girl, weaving stories in my mind as I drifted off to sleep each night. Often times they included living in a mansion, and/or horseback riding through the woods on my grandparents’ property.

Sometimes I would even speak my stories into my brown Fisher Price tape recorder.

In grade school, one of my favorite things was when the teacher would fill all three chalkboards with notes for us to copy into our notebooks… then erase it all, and fill all three boards again. I loved taking notes! And I still take notes from every nonfiction book I read, actually!

I completed NaNoWriMo in 2006. I wrote 50,911 words in 28 days. My novel still sits on my shelf, unfinished.

To this day, I keep a journal. I don’t write in it daily, any more — only when I desperately need an outlet for my emotions, and/or I need to sort through the tangled messes of my thoughts. Writing things out almost always brings clarity.

I oftentimes “pray” on paper, as well, seeking God’s take on the issues I’m dealing with. I’ll write out what I feel He’s saying to my spirit, in response, also. This practice has truly helped to deepen my faith, and draw me closer in relationship with my Lord.

Also, I’ve been a blogger since 2005. It started as a way to record the books I was reading, then morphed into a community of others who loved the book-related memes I posted each week, and then evolved over time into a place where I now teach others the things that I’ve learned, thus far… and what I am still in the process of learning.

pencils

You would think, on reading all of the above, that I’d classify myself as a Writer. Yet, for the longest time, I’ve fought that title. I’ve even told God that I don’t want to be a Writer. And yet, the thread of writing has been woven throughout the tapestry that is my life, and it seems that I, like Jonah, must surrender to the call.

I realized something, this past week, that has truly helped me to start the process of accepting this: that I don’t actually hate to write. In fact, I have to grudgingly admit that, yes, I even like writing. As I said earlier, writing is how I sort through my thoughts; it’s always been how I am best able to express myself.

The “aha!” came when I saw that what I don’t like is writing for others… and, in asking myself why that is, it all came down to one thing:

PERFECTIONISM (aka: Fear)

…I don’t like writing out posts for my blog because I feel like my writing has to be “perfect” and “polished”, or else I won’t be seen as the professional that I’m aiming to be.

Yet, every professional was once a beginner. And God even tells us to not “despise the days of small beginnings” (Zechariah 4:10).

I guess I need to learn to give myself more grace — to accept my “beginner” status when it comes to writing, and to not mentally kick myself for being so inconsistent.

After all, I teach others that practice makes progress… and I think progress is as close to “perfection” as we’re going to get, this side of heaven. So, if I want to feel more confident in this role as a Writer, I just need to keep practicing. The more I do it — the more I write — the better I’ll get.

::

I’m curious… is there some title or calling that you’ve been trying to run away from? Share in the comments. I’d love to know I’m not alone in this!

 

Sneak Peek: A Look Into My Journal (05/01/2017)

Here’s another look inside my journal… so you can learn what I’m learning, alongside me!

sneak peek

Lord, my problem isn’t trusting You that you CAN do things — I believe You are fully capable. My problem is that I always have a hard time believing in Your WILLINGNESS to help me, or to do anything for me.

I guess it’s because I view You as a parent… with human parents, I’ve been taught that I will be “rewarded” for doing things correctly; for obeying.

And while -yes- You bless my obedience… it’s what that obedience CONSISTS of that is different, right? Instead of me striving to earn “rewards” by doing things right, obedience (in Your eyes) consists of SURRENDERING to Your Spirit — correct? No more striving or doing… just releasing control to Your Holy Spirit (within me), trusting Him to handle things… Seeking You is the most important thing!

Have I got it, Lord? Is this the answer?

“Seek ye FIRST the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness,
and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

( ^^ this verse came to my mind ^^)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean 
not on your OWN understanding; in all your ways
acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths
straight.” (Proverbs 3:5,6)

“A mind set on the Spirit is LIFE and peace…”
(Romans 8:6)

So, if I stop worrying about ___, and instead just trust You, Lord, that You will provide what I need in Your timing… and I instead focus on both seeking You, and serving those I come into contact with, You will help me succeed? Is that what You’re telling me, Lord?

“Commit to the Lord whatever you do,
and all your plans will succeed.”
(Proverbs 16:3)

….Aha! Seeing this verse with “new eyes”, right now! Instead of it meaning “ask God to bless what you’re going to do“, that word, “COMMIT” means GIVE IT OVER TO THE (SPIRIT) — in other words, SURRENDER — and then, of course, “your” plans will succeed, because they’re really God’s plans FOR you, and He is the one accomplishing them … not me! Wow.

Thanks for these insights, Lord!

 

A Story of Transition

Finding one’s purpose in life is hard. Figuring out God’s calling on your life is also hard. This is something I’ve been struggling with, for years.

a story of transition | Life, Unleashed

When I started my self-employment journey in late 2013, I was mostly concerned with pursuing my life-long dream of being my own boss. And I chose to become a virtual author’s assistant, then, because it’s what I knew — I had gone to school for office administration, had worked in various receptionist positions since, and was an avid reader with a long list of authors with whom I’d already been building relationships. And while this niche proved profitable for a time, I came to realize that it wasn’t really bringing me joy… which is one of the reasons I was pursuing self-employment — so that I could love what I do for a living.

Next, I thought I’d pursue Life Coaching. I’ve always loved to advise, encourage, and support others, and I’m passionate about hearing of and seeing others’ transformations. Add to that my fascination with personal development, and it seemed like the perfect fit!

…That is, until I realized that getting my certification and training would cost far more money than I had or could come up with at that time. Needless to say, that idea fizzled out pretty quickly.

Around this time, God was really starting to speak to my heart about my motives. I started desiring to know what path He wanted me to take, and I agonized over the fact that it seemed like He wanted me to be a Writer.

To be honest, while I enjoy journaling, and do that for my own development on a regular basis, I have never really loved the idea of writing a book, or anything similar. I mean, sure, I participated in NaNoWriMo in 2006, and completed the goal (50K words in 30 days). But I had — and have — no desire to be a published author.

So the question, then, became, how can I fulfill this supposed “calling” to be a Writer, without actually having to write or publish a book?

Well, I’d already been blogging (as a hobby) since 2005, and had grown my following to over 1700 people. I knew others were having great success, monetarily, as “professional bloggers”, by way of sponsored posts, ads, and affiliate links. So I decided that was as good a solution as anything, and I opened up a new blog.

By this point, mind you, a lot of my previous followers were getting tired of my indecision. So they started leaving, choosing to no longer follow me. And really, I don’t blame them (I was getting frustrated with myself!).

I continued to try and figure out what God wanted me to do — what to write, who to target, etc. — and felt like the name I’d chosen (A Daily Rhythm) wasn’t the right fit; it was too mellow, and my heart was screaming for something upbeat and empowering. So, much as I hated changing things up yet again, I knew I had to — and the Life, Unleashed blog was born.

(side note: I’ve gotten several comments from new acquaintances, saying that they love the name of my site — so that has helped me to feel better about the decision!)

Shortly after opening Life, Unleashed in early 2016, I finally stumbled on what I believed was God’s plan for me… as well as my ideal reader, what I should write about, and my “niche”. I was super-stoked to finally feel I’d found it.

Through research, and through talking to various people, I realized that the best way for me to reach the most people with my message, and to have the greatest impact, was going to be through creating an eCourse. So, I did some surveys, and I started learning all I could about what would be involved in course creation. I brainstormed, and I created an outline, and I came up with some preliminary content.

I’ve always loved to share (advise, coach, teach, support, encourage), so teaching an eCourse felt like a good thing for me to do. However… as I was working on that, I was still hesitating. Partly out of fear of the unknown, sure. But part of it, I discovered, was because I have an issue with trying to teach something that I, myself, haven’t yet gotten at least somewhat of a grasp on. It’s hypocritical, and I can’t do it.

As such, when another job possibility came up that would allow me to continue working from home and still allow me to help others experience transformations in their lives, I couldn’t help but think that maybe another transition was needed … at least, for now.

healthy living

Long story short, I have decided to become a healthy living coach. Since I’ve previously had some success in this area, and since I needed the accountability that would come from continuing my own health journey alongside others who are looking to do the same, I figured this would be the best option.

What about my supposed “calling” to be a writer? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it’s something I still am supposed to do, eventually. Or, maybe I had it wrong all along. I don’t know, yet. But I do believe that God will show me.

In the meantime, the really awesome part about this new role is that it still fits with a lot of what I’ve already been sharing, here at Life, Unleashed. It encompasses mindset, choices, practice, and perspective… all of which are the foundational values this site is built on!

So, if you would like to join me in taking back your health, I have a free community on Facebook called Unleashed Nation, where I will be sharing motivational quotes, tips, and the occasional mini-challenge to keep things exciting. Hopefully I’ll see you there!

Seasons

// “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens…” ~ Ecclesiastes 3:1 //

seasons

I was talking with a new friend, today, and bemoaning the fact that I’m not very consistent with posting on my blog — something that really bothers me a great deal. I would love to post more frequently. I also commented that part of what has stolen my attention away from creating blog posts is the fact that I’m (finally) working on creating my first eCourse!

My friend was kind enough to offer the gentle reminder that it’s all about seasons … we can’t do everything, all the time. There’s a season for this, and a season for that — a time for this activity, and a time for that one. Perhaps I’m just in a season where I need to focus on creating my course, right now, and I can come back to blogging more regularly after the course has been launched.

Ecclesiastes 3:1Of course, this has made me think of other life “seasons”, too.

Some seasons are easy. Everything feels like it falls into place without much effort, and all seems right with the world.

Other seasons, however, can be really, really hard. They’re places where you struggle, and waking up every day is a chore. What gives me hope in the hard seasons are these 2 things:

1) Just like nature’s seasons (Spring, Summer, Fall, & Winter), this “season” will eventually end, and another will come. The hard seasons won’t last forever. (And, thank the Lord for that!)

2) Despite the loneliness that can often accompany my hard seasons, I know God still walks beside me, through each minute of each day. He has promised never to leave or forsake us, so I can cast all of my anxiety on Him, because I know He cares.

So, I am choosing, in this season of creating, to give myself grace and patience, remembering that everything will balance itself out over time. And I hope you’ll do the same, no matter what season you may find yourself in, currently. Remember, “This, too, shall pass.