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}

 

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?

Hiding

Remember playing “Hide-and-Go-Seek” as a kid? My favorite part was finding the best hiding place: As an introvert, it was even more fun, because it meant I got to be alone for a longer time before the “seeker” found me!

Hiding | Life, Unleashed

Until recently, I didn’t realize it, but I’ve still been “hiding”. And, as an online entrepreneur, that’s not exactly the best practice… you actually want people to find you.

Some of the ways I’ve been hiding include:

  • not writing and publishing blog posts
  • not following my friends’ posts on Facebook
  • not commenting on others’ Facebook posts
  • not promoting my services everywhere I can

Part of the reason for all of this “hiding”, I believe, lies in the fact that showing up requires vulnerability and courage. I’ve been far too much of a perfectionist, as well — for example, I usually feel like, if I can’t get my posts to come out as “perfect” as I picture them in my head, then it’s pointless to even write them. Obviously, that’s completely false, but that’s basically how my mind works.

Thankfully, I have come across something that’s helped me to shift my perspective on this, and I’m finally working past these obstacles that have been tripping me up.

In his recently published book, “Authentic Content Marketing“, George Kao shares his three (3) stages of content creation. Stage One involves creating a ton of posts and such, without putting in too much effort. Then you publish that content — with zero expectations about how it will be received (I know… crazy, right?). George’s second stage is to go back through all of your ‘stage one’ content, after about a month, and look to see which posts got the most (if any) engagement from your ideal audience. Then you take that content, and re-do it, adding even more value to it, and you publish it again (either in the same format on a different platform, or vice versa). Later, you take the best of that ‘stage two’ content, and compile it into some kind of infoproduct (be it an eBook, eCourse, or something else)… that’s Stage Three.

That concept of pushing out a ton of content that you neither slave over creating, nor stress over its outcome, that was truly “revolutionary” to me … a mindset shift. George even went on to say that our job is to publish our message… and it’s our audience’s job (not ours!) to determine which content is worthwhile. Too often, though, we — as creators — are biased, and think that most of what we publish is awesome. We’re too close to it to be objective.

Anyway. All of that is helping me to step past my perfectionism and fears, and to just start showing up — no more hiding.

Two other things are helping me to move forward, as well.

The first being that I need to practice what I preach — if I want those I work with (via mentoring, etc.) to be vulnerable and courageous, then I need to be modelling that, myself. I need to become the best version of myself, in order to be able to genuinely encourage others to do the same.

And lastly, letting my fears keep me from sharing my message is not helping anyone! It doesn’t help me, but it also keeps my message from helping those whom I’m meant to serve!

So, that’s it. I’m done hiding. No longer am I going to let my fear or perfectionism keep me and my content locked away. Playing small serves no one. I have a message to share, and it can no longer be held back.

……………………….

Tell me… How have YOU been hiding? What could you do to become more visible?

How Can I Be a Health Coach?

I don’t look like a “health coach”… I barely act like a health coach (yet). So, why do I call myself a Health Coach? Isn’t that a bit hypocritical?

Health Coach? | Life, Unleashed

These are the thoughts that run through my head. But, to answer all of the above…

(1) I deeply care about the health & well-being of others, and want to help them (you!), learn what I have learned –and am still learning– about eating, exercise, and mental health

(2) I am a Health Coach because I am actively working on improving my own health and well-being, while I work to “pay-it-forward” and help you to improve yours.

The way I see it, I’m walking this path ALONGSIDE those I’m helping, fully able to relate to and understand where you are at.

I can sympathize with my clients, because I have (& have had) the same kinds of struggles.

However, I have also learned a lot about how to overcome the challenges and obstacles that get in the way of us becoming our healthiest & best selves, and I am passionate about teaching these things to those who are willing to join me (while I continue to practice these things, myself!).

So, yes… I am a Health Coach. I help women (and men, if any choose), to become & own who they were created to be, through health, faith, and fun, by working together to design a plan that is simple & unique to them.

Wanna join me?

Losing My (Fake) Identity

From about 2002 to 2012, I was immersed in the book blogging world. It started with a Yahoo! group I’d joined, called “Book-a-Week”. Its participants aimed to read 52 books per year (a “book-a-week”). One of the Book-a-Week group’s rules was that you had to keep a record of the books you’d read. So, I’d started keeping a book journal then, but only a paper version. In 2005, I decided to start keeping an online –blog– version, as well.

Losing My (Fake) Identity | Life, Unleashed

For the majority of my book blogging years, I was a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM). As such, I had plenty of time to read and blogging became my place to connect with other adults.

As for the book-a-week goal, I managed to hit it almost every year. And then I started to exceed it. I talked books, read books, researched books, collected books. My collection grew from approximately 300 books to over 1400 books!

Because I’d started several book memes that my readers came, weekly, to play along in (on my blog), I was becoming known in the book blogosphere. I’d taken on the alias of “Mizbooks”, which my readers shortened to “MizB” — something I was fine with. Friends and family even came to know me as “Mizbooks”, and called me “the crazy book lately”.

And so, that’s who I was — who I became. My identity was caught up in my love of books and reading.

Then came the 5 years of being back out in the working world. When I landed a busy, full-time job, my time (and mental capacity) for reading greatly diminished. All-of-a-sudden, I found myself in a sort of identity crisis. If I couldn’t read, then who was I? I’d been the “avid reader”, “MizB”, for so long… now I felt lost.

And I felt ashamed …like I was betraying my blog readers by no longer being this woman who read 80 books per year.

Fast-forward five more years. My reading has dwindled to about 12-15 books read per year. My book blog is barely hanging on, with just two memes left, and about 1/3 of the readership.

I no longer feel as bad for my lack of reading time; but I do still wish I could (would?) read more. Really, it’s now more an issue of time-management and priorities.

The book blog… well, I’d been questioning that aspect, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to keep going with it after the new year (2017). I plan to either hand my two memes over to other bloggers or just let them go, entirely. Part of me doesn’t want to do either, as they feel like my “babies”. But another part of me knows it will be a relief to let them go.

Regardless, this whole “crisis” has taught me something. And that’s that we shouldn’t place our identity in what we do, or in the roles we play. Our truest identity (if we’ve accepted Jesus as Savior) is as daughters (and sons) of the King of Kings, and all that that entails. It’s the only thing that will not change. We’ve been adopted into God’s family, so we’re now set apart and He calls us His own.

I’m still learning to accept myself as who God says I am. But already, it has been both peace-giving and empowering.

So, who do you say that you are? Do you know yourself as a child of God? What do you need in order to make that mental shift?

 

The Hole In Our Faith

I believe there is a serious hole in our Christian faith, today. Too many people become a “Christian” in order to avoid hell, or because someone convinced them that they needed  to commit their life to Christ. However, these same people are then left without any idea of what they just got themselves into. What did you really just sign on for?

The Hole in Our Faith | Life, UnleashedSure, these people can go to church (or a church group). They can learn the “lingo” and rituals. They can hear the Bible stories. And they can “mimic” what they see the more “seasoned” Christians doing. For many, this is what happens, and what they settle for.

But here’s the real question:

DOES ANY OF THIS CHANGE YOU?

Because it should. Your life, when compared to that of someone who isn’t a Christian should look radically different. Life with Jesus should spark an authentic, genuine change of heart and behavior. Jesus was –and IS– compelling! Christianity isn’t a set of rules, and it’s not supposed to be boring. Jesus died to set us FREE — to enable us to live life to the fullest! (John 10:10)

Over the next little while, I hope to show you the transformation that I, myself, have gone through — how God showed me more of who He is, and what He’s taught me, thus far. I want to inspire you to live out what you believe, to seek God more & more in your everyday, and to show you that life with Jesus really is far from boring!

“My heart has heard You say, “Come & talk with Me.” And my heart responds, “Lord, I am coming!” (Psalm 27:8)

On Being Real

I’ve played the game. I’ve attempted to do all of the things that others say are “best practices” (do this, not that), and I’ve carefully organized my information, and only shown what (supposedly) needs to be shown.

On Being Real | Life, UnleashedAnd I was miserable.

I was dizzy from all of the conflicting advice. One site said to do it this way, while another said that that way is wrong, and I should do it the opposite way. No one could seem to agree.

My gut led me here … to radical authenticity, regardless of what “they” say.

People can always sense when you’re putting on a “mask”, or pretending, or trying to be someone you’re not. And they tend to walk away from that — they are repelled by it.

When you let go of others’ expectations and let the real you shine through, people gravitate toward you. They, perhaps, don’t yet let their own real selves show through, so they are therefore drawn to those who have the courage –the audacity!– to take that risk. To be free!

It is, too — it’s completely liberating to stop pretending, and to just be you. Faking it takes far too much energy. I’d rather be genuine and attract those people who like me as I am, than be the “proper” lady who attracts other stuffy, fake people.

When you choose to be real, you free yourself to be of more help to other people. You’re no longer constantly concerned with keeping up appearances, and can just serve other people, meeting them where they’re at.


I believe this world would be a much better place — and a lot more fun! — if everyone would just give up the act, and be truly themselves.

Essentialism: A Review & Thoughts

I finished reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown*, a bit ago (thanks to seeing that one of my favorite bloggers had it on her shelf), and I’m soooo glad I checked it out! It was exactly what I needed to read.

Essentialism: A Review | Life, Unleashed

However, the book has also sent me into a bit of a questioning place, as well — which, I suppose, is the point.

The basic premise of the book is “Less, But Better“.

Essentialism is not a finite action or a single decision to live with less. Becoming an Essentialist means embracing a lifestyle to always seek out what truly matters and let go of everything else. {source}

There are a ton of great quotes and ideas throughout the book. What it comes down to, though, is what the quote says (above) — asking yourself what TRULY matters in your life, and then choosing to make trade-offs (a whole chapter of the book is dedicated to the idea of trade-offs, and it really struck a chord with me).

I’ve been researching Minimalism for a while now. In June 2015, I basically “Kon-Mari’d“ my bedroom, and it felt amazing to have done so! But, the idea of going completely “minimalist” didn’t sit right with me. I need color and variety in my life, and from the pictures I was seeing on Pinterest, I wasn’t ready to become a true (or “extreme”) Minimalist. Capsule wardrobes are not my idea of a good thing, let’s just put it that way.  But, to each her own.

Yet, when I read “Essentialism“, I realized that minimalist living isn’t so much about getting rid of things, as it is about learning to make intentional choices about what truly matters… for you, and for the lifestyle you want to live.

Essentialism by Greg McKeown | A review (adailyrhythm.com)

I also found Jennifer’s blog, “Simply & Fiercely” through Pinterest, as she has a series about how she’s become a Minimalist. And, her posts made more sense out of the whole idea for me. They reminded me that — as with anything in life — you should take the basic concept, and then modify it so that it works for your own style.

So, when I took all of this information and started to apply it to my work (my blog, basically), it actually helped clarify for me what I hadn’t been able to figure out for the past 3 years … which is what my main “niche” is supposed to be. As a multipassionate individual, I don’t like to box myself in too tightly, and so the idea of picking “just one thing” was torture for me! Recently, I’d chosen to identify myself as more of a “lifestyle blogger” — wherein, all I meant by that was that I had multiple topics I would be writing about — and this helped. But it still wasn’t quite the right fit. The categories I’d chosen didn’t seem to be “right”, just yet… some of them, yes; but not all.

One of the questions the “Essentialism” book says you should ask yourself is, “Is this the most important thing I should be doing with my time and resources, right now?” And, when I thought about what is that “most important thing” for me, right now (for my business, anyway), it was to be creating content. So, I started making a list of things I wanted to write about and offer… but they all seemed so scattered (I love a lot of things, after all! See, again, my “multipassionate” nature!) So I asked myself (for probably the millionth time), “What ties all of these things together?” And, I wrote down “whole life”… and then — AHA! — “Authentic Living“. And, all-of-a-sudden, I felt I had figured it out… this, intuitively, felt completely right. After all, “authenticity” is my #2 personal core value! So, it makes sense.

Thinking about my past 3 years in business (for myself / being self-employed), I realized that I keep coming back to these two concepts:

  • Being free to do what you love (and, freedom is my #1 personal core value)
  • Discovering who you truly are, & using that to build your ideal life

I love to teach, and I love personal development. As you may know, I’m a big-time nonfiction junkie. I actually prefer reading nonfiction over fiction, truthfully. I soak up knowledge like a sponge (which is just part of the “Input” part of my personality, and maybe a bit of the “Intellection” side, too — both of which I learned from reading Tom Rath’s book, “StrengthsFinder 2.0“.) I long to teach others what I’ve learned through both my reading, and through my life experiences (and also, to teach what God has taught me, too!).

So, that brings me to what I do here at Life, Unleashed … and why I blog about being who you were created, uniquely, to be. It’s so important to be who you are, even (maybe, especially) in business. Don’t ever hide your true self! There are people out there who need to see the real YOU.

Definitely check this book out for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!