2011 Resolutions

I’ve thought a lot about my 2011 New Year Resolutions. And keeping in my own special style, I’m a little late in coming up with the answers. Better late than never, right? I had a crazy long list of resolutions last year. I started with high ambitions and lots of motivation. And I did pretty well for a while. And then Ben was born. Josh and I were both amazed at how Ben moved right on in to our family. With our first two, transitioning to our new responsibilities was…well…let’s just say challenging. But with Ben, we hardly noticed a hiccup. But as I was reflecting on the last year and evaluating my success at my previous resolutions, I realized just how drastically my daily habits did change with his arrival. This year, I’m not quite up to the challenges I posed for myself last year, but I definitely want to stretch and grow, so here is what I came up with:

  1. I will compliment my sweet husband every day.
  2. I will get and stay fully hydrated. Hopefully, this will give me more energy and focus, as I know I’m technically dehydrated.
  3. I will go into the Church for a minimum of 10 minutes of prayer at least twice each week, aside from Sunday.
  4. I will make sure everyone in my household, myself included, goes to the dentist twice this year.

And there you have it. Nothing glitzy or bold. But, for me, each is a challenge that I believe will make me a better version of myself. Here’s to another glorious year of memories and challenges and growth!

Moringa World Tour

If I ever win the lottery, I plan to travel the world planting Moringa in impoverished areas and teaching the locals to harvest and use it. The clip below is from the Discovery Channel documentary about Moringa. I don’t know anything about the website promoted below the video. Just sharing the knowledge. Want to buy me some lottery tickets or open some kind of account to get my world tour started? :)

Come Blow Your Horn!

Too many times, we don’t take the opportunity to share our accomplishments and other positive experiences. We don’t want others to think we’re bragging because for whatever reason that has such a negative connotation. Or maybe we’re lacking self-esteem and think that we don’t really deserve the success we just encountered. Whatever the reason, I think it’s foolish. If we all took a little more time to talk about the good things in our lives instead of complaining or recounting discouraging news headlines, we’d probably all be a little better off and a lot happier. To rectify this situation, even if only slightly, I’ve added a new page to my blog. Drop by and crow about your accomplishments, tell about your wonderful day, share a resolution you’ve made to improve yourself, your family, your world. Come by and tell about anything positive going on in your life. I can’t wait to start reading all the positive, uplifting and inspiring stories!!

Digging Deeper with Allison LaMarr

Allison LaMarr is one of my favorite motivational speakers. She writes a weekly blog, Digging Deeper, and I have learned so much from her! Despite the fact that we’ve never met, she is one of my mentors and has made a huge impact on who I am as a person. I don’t intend to use my blog to just copy and paste other people’s thoughts and ideas, but in this instance, I couldn’t help myself! This is exactly what I was trying to accomplish with my New Year Resolutions and much more eloquently said. I hope you enjoy her as much as I do. If you click the link at the bottom, you can register to have her blog delivered to your inbox every Wednesday. It’s totally legit, no spam or anything. I seriously want to be just like Allison when I grow up!
January 6, 2010
2010: The Hero Within
Happy New Year, my friends!  I’d like to personally thank you for carving out a few moments to dig deeper with me each week. This is our chance to dig a little deeper into life on a weekly basis…to stop for just a few moments amidst all the hustle and bustle to take a deep breath and make sure that our perspective is clear, our priorities are in order, and our mindset is healthy.  Whether you are a working professional, a full-time parent, or an aspiring dreamer, the objective of our weekly discussions is to help empower you to wage war on mediocrity and achieve a life of daily excellence!

The launch of a brand new decade has no doubt caused us all to stop and consider the crazy phenomenon of the passage of time.  What were you doing a decade ago?  Where were you a decade ago?  Who were you a decade ago? A decade = 10 years = 120 months = 520 weeks = 3,650 days = 87,600 hours = 5,256,000 minutes = 315,360,000 seconds.  This New Year’s Eve as James and I sat on the couch in our pajamas watching Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest host the Times Square happenings, we couldn’t help but laugh at how different our celebration was 10 years ago.  Not three feet away on a bookshelf stood a framed picture to commemorate the moment.  I was a senior in college, we were 6 months from being married, and we were all dressed up in a roomful of friends, wearing party hats, dancing and singing along at the top of our lungs to Prince’s famous words, “Tonight We’re G onna Party Like It’s 1999”, with silver metallic numbers “2000” decorating the entire room. 10 years ago, the future was bright, the world was at our fingertips, and we didn’t have a care in the world.

Now, we’ve got a house payment, a toddler, and a closet full of clothes that used to fit.  Yes, we partied our way into 2000…and we yawned our way into 2010.  But the funny thing is, I wouldn’t go back and trade it for the world.  As I watched my son sleeping on the monitor and my husband “tweeting” his New Year wishes, there wasn’t a place I’d rather be.  If we could rewind and do things differently, I think we would all make different choices, based on the lessons we’ve learned.  I’ve made more stupid mistakes than I can count, and some of them cost me dearly – both financially and emotionally. Some of my mistakes hurt other people, and some of my mistakes I’m still paying for.  Of course, we can’t go back, but we can choose to move forward. We all have a clean slate before us, beginning in 2010.  What will you ch oose to write on yours?

This is so much bigger than the cliché of annual resolutions that are forgotten by Valentine’s Day.  It’s about a deep-seated desire to continually change and grow into our potential, into our purpose, into the person God created us to be.  The challenge, of course, is that becoming that person depends on our choices.  We must make the proactive choices that defy human nature.  Remember, human nature isn’t on our side. Human nature is lazy, apathetic, narcissistic, naïve, and always takes the path of least resistance.  Human nature’s inclination is to do as little as possible to get what we want. So, to combat and overcome those internal inclinations, we must be aware of and alert to the fact that living in response to our feelings and emotions will lead us straight to destruction.  I have rarely felt like getting off the couch or turning off the TV.  I have rarely felt like getting up at 5 AM or passing on chips and queso. I have rarely felt like lacing up my running shoes or making one more business call.  I have rarely felt like saying “no” to the stores and stores of beautiful clothes, shoes, and purses that call my name from the mall.

Gosh, when you stop and think about it, it would practically take a hero to make those kind of iron-strength choices every day.  But, guess what?  That’s exactly what you can be.  A practical hero.  An everyday hero.  A hero within.  Sound silly?  Of course it does! But wouldn’t you feel more inclined to make the right decisions if you were running around with a red cape and super powers?  So, throw on the cape – at least at home – and step into that power of potential that already lies within you.

Last week, James and I conducted our third Annual Review.  (For more details on conducting your own Annual Review, see the 12/24/08 edition of the Digging Deeper archives.)   There were two things about this particular session that stood out to me. First of all, heading into a brand new decade caused me to go back and analyze what I want to change from the past one.  Of the past 10 years, if I had to give a painfully honest assessment, I would say that I lived four of them proactively and six of them reactively.  The sad – and shocking – piece of that revelation to me was that I easily thought that at least two more of those reactive years were proactive while I was living them.  But, from a hindsight perspective, the results of those years speak for themselves.  It really is sho cking to see how blind we can be to our own naïveté and apathy.  And, the second thing of note that struck me during our Annual Review was the insight that tracking can provide.  Because we had now conducted this session for three years in a row, we were able to go back and document our performance against our plans in 2007, 2008, and 2009.  We were able to see patterns and trends of poor decisions along with wiser ones.  And we were able to learn from those patterns and trends as we head into 2010.

As we looked back at our past three years of documented goals and activity, it was rewarding to look at our progress and humbling to study our errors.   But, the thing that stands out to me most about the past decade is the wonder of Father Time. We’ve all ticked through the past 5.2 million minutes, and God willing, we’ll tick through at least that many more.  So, when this decade winds to an end, what story do you want yours to tell?  As those seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years tick by, a few of them will be momentous and noteworthy.  But most of them will be humdrum and forgettable. And believe it or not, it’s those most forgettable days that define an everyday hero.  It’s the most humdrum hours that separate a victory from a loss.  Because in those un-notable moments, we either get swept away by the current of human nature – or we don’t.

The past decade may have been horrific, fabulous, or just so-so for you. You may desire a complete turnaround in this new season.  Or, perhaps you just want to keep building on your progress from the past. To create different results, we must approach our situation differently.  Whether you need a quantum leap or just incremental improvement, your future results depend on how you handle you.  How you handle yourself today, and how you handle yourself tomorrow, and the day after that. There’s no magic formula or magic pill.  The cape may give you confidence, but the hero is already there.  You hold the power of change, but you must turn the key daily to unleash that power.  Ignore the naysayers, and stop playing that broken record of past defeats and unkept promises to yourself in your head.  My prayer for all of us this year is Deuteronomy 33:25.  May God work such steadfastness of mind in you that “the bolts of your gates will be iron and bronze, and your strength will equal your days”.


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New Beginnings

sunny beginningsWhen I was younger, one of my favorite times of the year was back to school or the beginning of a new semester. I relished shopping for school supplies, often coordinating my pens and folders by color or theme, and the potential for success that lay before me. I made similar resolutions each time usually related to organization, time management, and procrastination (or more specifically, not procrastinating). I absolutely adore new beginnings of any kind. Naturally, celebrating New Years and making new year resolutions is something I really enjoy.

This year I put a lot of thought into what my resolution would be. I’m not really a fan of the generic goals like lose weight, get finances in order, get healthy, etc. All of those are great, but they basically predetermine your failure. They’re just too generic. There’s nothing measurable or concrete about them. Yet, I kept coming back to the same generic statement. I just want to be a better person. I’ve been hovering around this thought for a little over a year, but haven’t done much about it. Why? My guess would be because it’s too generic and I never formulated an action plan. So, to make my new year resolution, I decided to break down this concept of being a better person. If it goes well, perhaps I’ll continue expanding and elaborating on the same theme each year. For now, year one of becoming a better person, here’s what I’ve come up with.

I took a look at my life and picked out the major pieces that define who I am as a person. After all, how could I improve who I “am” if I don’t know who I am to begin with. I came up with these subheadings to “me”: spiritual, personal, wife, mother, entrepreneur, friend. I ultimately decided to sufficiently improve me, I would make a small, daily goal for each of these categories. In effect, instead of making one broad resolution, I’ve made several small daily resolutions.

  1. I will pray the Rosary each day. (This will probably require getting up a little earlier so I have the time to myself.)
  2. I will read the chapter in Proverbs that corresponds to the day of the month. For example, today is the second so I read chapter 2. Following my chapter I will play a round of “Bible Roulette” to allow the Lord to speak to me/learn a little more about the Bible.
  3. I will read at least one chapter of something I enjoy each day. (This one kind of stresses me out. I have no idea when I’m going to sit down and read for pleasure, plus I’m really bad about not taking time out for me, but I think this will be a much-needed daily “recharge” time for me.)
  4. I will greet Josh with a smile and a kiss and tell him I’m glad he’s home each day. (This sounds obvious but after several years of marriage and dealing with kids all day, Josh doesn’t usually get the welcome he deserves when he walks in the door.)
  5. I will spend individual quality time with each boy each day. (Research shows that just 15 minutes of quality one-on-one time with a child does wonders.)
  6. I will do one proactive activity for my business each day. (I’m not focusing so much on building new business right now, since the baby will be here before we know it. However, I definitely don’t want to lose all my momentum in the meantime, so this is what I’m starting with.)
  7. Each day, I will attempt to brighten one person’s day.

So those are my 7 daily goals. I got a new planner (the kind with both a monthly and a daily view) to help me track my goals. Each day, as I complete each goal, I will write the corresponding number in my planner. This will allow me to see which goals I’m struggling with and help me get back on the proverbial horse after I fall off. For me, tracking it the most important part of goal setting. It’s really easy to set goals, but sticking with them and eventually achieving them all comes down to the tracking. I think I’ll also report my progress here in my blog, since its important to have some accountability. It’s much to easy to make excuses to myself, but if I have to tell someone else what a slacker I’ve been, I’m much more likely to stay focused.

It takes 21 day to form a habit, so if I find I’ve accomplished (accomplished meaning successfully made it a true daily activity…like eating) one of these goals, I may replace it. I may also modify these goals as needed. My tracking sheets will speak for themselves.  But, for now, this is my plan to become a slightly better person this year.

Here’s to a great 2010!

To work or not to work…

youth-villages-logoI got a phone call from Youth Villages the other day asking me to come in and interview for a position in their research department. I am beyond excited because I am IN LOVE with Youth Villages and everything they stand for. I’m passionate about children, and seeing them live successfully with their families is indescribably rewarding.

During college, I did four internships with YV and anxiously awaited the day I would have a full time position. But life happened. Between Andy’s arrival and moving to Texas, I haven’t had the opportunity to be involved with them since my last internship.

The most exciting thing about the position I’m being considered for is it’s part-time. I’m really reluctant to leave my babies, so that’s a major benefit. Being a part-time position at a nonprofit organization, the pay is practically nonexistent. More than likely, once we pay the childcare expenses we incur, we’ll be bringing in the exact same amount of money we are today. Basically, if I were to take this on, it would be solely for the personal satisfaction that comes with working for an organization you believe in. I have no problem with that because I love Youth Villages that much. I would volunteer my time to mop their floors if it meant it would benefit the children in direct care.

Anyway, what it boils down to is I have to chose between my babies and this job. I know that’s sounds a little dramatic, but that’s what it feels like. When I consider the list of pros and cons there’s really only one of each.

Pro: I’d be working at further improving an organization that already does a stellar job of improving children’s lives.

Con: I’d be missing precious moments with the boys.

When I was working Texas, leaving Andy was the worst part of my day. Now that I’m home with Jack, I see how many little moments I truly did miss with him. I feel like I cheated Andy and myself out of time we could have been spending together.

I have every intention of pursuing a masters degree and going back to work one day. I’m just not sure if one day should be today.

I hadn’t intended on going back to work until Jack went to kindergarten. I’m not worried about the care they’d be receiving in my absence. I feel like we have some good childcare options and for the first 4-6 weeks Josh’s mom will be keeping them. I just don’t know if I’m ready to give up all of those little moments that make my heart smile. I have until Thursday to decide. What’s a mom to do….

It’s a Brand New Day

new-dayI’ve spent my whole life keeping most of my thoughts and feelings tucked deep inside, fearing that their escape would cause others to dislike me. I’ve avoided much needed confrontations, missed many opportunities to share my thoughts, and allowed others to make false assumptions about me. I’ve spent my whole life trying to be whatever it was that I thought everyone else thought I should be.

While I accept full responsibility for all of the things I did and didn’t do, I attribute the cause to my childhood. In my house, we were taught that we were always being watched and judged by others. We were taught that our opinions were only right if they were the same as our mother’s. We were taught that voicing our own opinions was actually attacking the opinions of those around us.

I’ve come to realize that none of that is true. People are supposed to be different. We are all individuals, including me. I don’t have to agree with someone in order to have a meaningful relationship with them, and the same is true in reverse. It is ok not to agree. It is ok to say something that might upset someone else. It is ok to be who I am.

I fear that I actually don’t know who I am at this point. I have been too busy trying to be what I thought I should be instead of discovering who I am. I fully intend to change that.

My first step in that direction is to be honest, both with myself and those I care about. Hopefully, I won’t loose anyone I love in the process. If I do, I will know that they didn’t actually love me but the person I allowed them to think I was.

My current goal in life is to detox all the false assumptions I’ve been living under. My new battle cry shall be: OUT WITH THE FAKE AND ACCEPT WHAT’S REAL! Perfect doesn’t exist, therefore I will no longer measure myself against an unattainable standard.