Video Viewpoint: How Storytelling Helps You Grow

Whether personally or professionally, may this brief video inspire you to write a vision, life strategy, book, blog post, journal entry or essay about your experiences and set a new resolve to thrive.

 

Why Pushing Yourself is Worth It

On a scale of 1-10 (with 10 being the best), are you pretty satisfied with life?

Wherever your gauge lands, I hope you’re somewhat content, because the fact that you’re breathing and able to read this is a sign that there’s more to do and be and experience.

Whether you’re in a season of 1 or 2 on the scale (life is really hard right now) or clicking on all cylinders (10 – couldn’t get any better), the reality is that all of us experiences ebbs and flows, ups and downs and swings of the pendulum that leave us struggling to get by or enjoying bounty beyond measure.

With each shift, however, comes an opportunity to be grateful, and in the process, an opportunity to grow. May sound trite, but it’s also true.

So today, assess where you are and where you’d like to be. Instead of beating yourself up (or gloating), challenge yourself to be braver or kinder or more strategic or more laid back.  Don’t stop when you find yourself uncomfortable, afraid or tired. Winners push through, and I believe you’re here to win.

Here are some tips that you and I both can practice until we hone them….

  • Don’t let your motivation to do well or do the right thing be driven by what others do or don’t do. Be excellent and operate with integrity regardless of how it’s received.
  • What others think of you truly is their business; respect yourself while respecting their choice to choose.
  • Lead with love, because this is still what we all need most.
  • Remember that what you see isn’t always what it is. A fleeting perception or assumption about someone or a particular circumstance could be completely wrong. Base your opinions instead on that person’s repeated actions and attitudes, because who they are will spill out over time. Accept that truth whenever it’s revealed, and be okay either way.
  • Choose joy. Life is too short to let grudges, gossip, guilt, greed, jealousy or the like derail you. Joy is the secret sauce that keeps you going and gives you hope.
  • Speak your vision for your life and prepare for it. Instead of wishing your circumstances were better or different or easier, embrace what they are currently and trust that the better experiences of which you speak will someday become your reality. Then get busy creating a better, different, more meaningful life for yourself and your loved ones.
  • Have fun and go for gold; but don’t “get yours” and leave others to fend for themselves. When you open your heart enough to care about and make sacrifices for the benefit of all humanity, you’ll enrich your own world more than you could have imagined.
  • Decide to get uncomfortable enough to try something new. You never know what opportunities, blessings and growth are just waiting for you to show up.
  • Take time to be kind or to simply be available. You are the gift someone needs today.

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When Change is a Gift

Research shows that most people dislike change so much that they’d rather stay in unfulfilling, stagnant or unstable circumstances rather than risk the unknown or stretch past what feels safe. It’s human nature, it seems, to “go with what you know.”

Over the course of my personal and professional journey, however, I’ve become convinced that the different or the uncomfortable (or even the heartbreaking) can sometimes be a sacred path to purpose.

For it is on this fresh course and in unfamiliar territory that we learn more about ourselves, discover strengths we might not have otherwise realized, and connect with ideas, skills and relationships that are meant to play pivotal roles in our destiny.

Yet, if we’re not open to change, or avoid accepting its unexpected arrival, how will we ever know our other (possibly wiser, stronger, happier) selves?

This is my sentiment as I bid farewell to readers of Life Notes, the parenting column I’ve had the pleasure of writing since July 2007 for the Richmond Times-Dispatch. Yes- more than 10 years! (Read my farewell column, in today’s newspaper, here.)

Life Notes was actually my second venture as a columnist for this daily newspaper in Richmond, Virginia: From 2000 to 2006, I wrote a weekly column for the Saturday metro section called Inspirations, which acquainted readers far and wide with the uplifting and resilient journeys of metro Richmond residents and with their explorations of faith and personal growth. It had a tremendous following, and according to Times-Dispatch reader surveys, was a primary driver for Saturday newspaper sales during that time.

Both columns were meaningful to me, as was my connection to their readers.

I retired Inspirations, however, when I “retired” from my daily journalism career to focus on penning books and freelance writing. Not an easy decision since I loved my work, but an exciting and necessary one, in order to fulfill the other dreams on my To Do list. I never regretted the choice.

This time around, with changes abreast in newspaper column inches and editorial direction comes the opportunity to take another leap that has long been on my To Do list: expanding the genre of books I write to include more nonfiction (in addition to my women’s fiction) and perhaps some young adult reads.  And while I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to blog for the Huffington Post, I look forward to penning more essays and profiles about the power of story and the relevance of our individual journeys for additional national publications. (Stay tuned!)

So yes, this is a goodbye of sorts to one platform for my writing, but a hello to all of the opportunities and open doors on my uncharted path. Will you celebrate with me?

I hope you’ll follow this blog to see where the written word takes me. Feel free to comment below and share ideas about what you’d like to learn about personal growth, matters of faith, living your best life, walking in purpose or writing your way to joy. I look forward to exploring these themes and more with you, and to growing with you.

 

Stacy Hawkins Adams ~ Author, Essayist, Journalist, Blogger

How to Refine Your Reading List in Ways that Refine You

By Stacy Hawkins Adams

Every successful organization or business has a mission statement or brand statement that drives its leaders’ decision making and direction – why not you?

I shared this perspective recently with a group of women and men that I led through a series of teleconference calls about purpose, goal-setting and faith; and during our discussion, I offered to give them a peek at my personal library – the one filled with books that have guided and shaped my perspective on life, living with intention and executing with excellence.

As we sit on the verge of a new year, which always brings with it hope for second, third or any number of new chances and possibilities, I decided to also share these literary gems with you.

I’ve read the books listed here over a 15-year (or so) period, at various stages of adulthood and maturity; so you may find a few of the titles too elementary. Perhaps you can recommend those particular books to young adults you’re mentoring or helping raise.

Yet some of the books I’ve chosen may indeed pique your interest, grace your reading list and help you grow, too.

Vastly more important than having you embrace the topics and authors that have resonated with me is for the list to serve as a catalyst for you becoming a version of yourself that you can consistently honor and love.

Indeed, all of these books have been foundational in some manner to the expansion of my heart, my vision, my perspective, my dreams  and my faith:

  • Listen to Your Life: Following Your Unique Path to Extraordinary Success by Valorie Burton
  • Making Life Work: Putting God’s Wisdom into Action by Bill Hybels
  • The Measure of Our Success: A Letter to My Children and Yours by Marian Wright Edelman
  • The Life God Blesses: Weathering the Storms of Life that Threaten the Soul by Gordon MacDonald
  • Wouldn’t Take Nothing for My Journey Now by Maya Angelou
  • If You Want to Walk on Water, You’ve Got to Get Out of the Boat by John Ortberg
  • In Search of Satisfaction by J. California Cooper
  • The Testament by John Grisham
  • Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
  • The Color Purple by Alice Walker

I could include quite a few more! This is just a start, to jumpstart your efforts to embrace reading that can help you wake up, get up, trust yourself, believe in your dreams and stretch to new heights.

Buy a new journal to record your thoughts from the books you choose to read. Use that same journal to craft a personal mission statement or brand value, based on who you want to become.

As a man (or woman) thinketh, so is he (or she). The words you ingest matter, and so do you. Read your way to wholeness, joy and purpose, then write that vision – with tangible steps and timelines – to ensure that your goals become your reality.

I’m rooting for you.

Chat with the Author: Transporting Readers to New Worlds Is Her Goal

Meet beloved New York Times bestselling author Adriana Trigiani – a writer who has regaled millions of readers with her engaging stories of strong (and often hilarious) women – who I consider a friend and mentor.

Adriana’s 17th book will be released later this month, on June 20. Enjoy her Q&A with LifeUntapped, in which she details her author journey and shares about her books and characters.

In what genre do you write?  I write fiction – big, noisy, lush novels about love, work and family. I’ve also written a non-fiction memoir, young adult novels, screenplays, teleplays and plays for the theater.  I consider myself a dramatist, first and foremost, as the characters and the worlds they inhabit are alive to me, and hopefully to you the reader.

What is the title of your most recent book? Kiss Carlo [Scheduled for release on June 20, this novel has been described as “a delightfully sprawling comedy full of extended families, in all their cocooning warmth and suffocating expectations” by Kirkus Reviews.]

What is your primary goal as an author – What do you want your readers to gain from of your books?  I hope my reader is transported to another place and time, where she takes her mind off her work, challenges and troubles and has a few laughs, connects to characters she can relate to, and finds some beauty and truth in the language.

What has been the most surprising feedback you’ve received from readers about your current book or another recent title?  Some of my readers thought All the Stars in the Heavens, about the golden age of Hollywood, was a biography. It was not. It was historical fiction.

What has been the most surprising aspect of your author journey?  I am always surprised at how energized I become in the company of my readers. They are my focus and the ultimate joy of writing anything. It’s their connection to the work that connects me to the work, too. That has been wonderful, and I didn’t anticipate it!

How do you continue growing as a writer?

 The only way to grow is to put in the time.  It’s hours in the chair- after hours of ruminating, gestating and thinking. It’s a funny job.  It doesn’t look like a writer is doing anything, when in fact, she is building a world.

Who are two or three writers you admire or consider mentors?  Ruth Goetz trained me as a dramatist when I moved to New York City. Prior to that, my mother, a librarian was and is my first and best teacher. She taught me to revere books, knowledge and the sacred act of reading.  My teachers were fundamental in my development as a writer; Sister Theresa Kelly, Thelma Carter, Grace White, Elizabeth Callahan, Langley Flannary, Grace Skeens, Basil Walker, Dorothy Carter, Arline Sharpe, Iva Braly, Gary Willams, Greg Cantrell, Sigrid Holloman, Frances Lewis, Bernis Zander, Theresa Bledsoe, well, I could keep going, and forgive me, the long list would overwhelm your site!  And, of course, my librarians, James Varner on the county bookmobile; Ernestine Roller at Big Stone Gap Elementary and the great Billie Jean Scott at Powell Valley High School.  All were essential and beloved.

What else are you passionate about, i.e. if you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing?  I’d be an interior designer.

What do you like to do for fun?  Get ready for this one…. R E A D!

More About Adriana Trigiani: Adriana Trigiani is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books in fiction and nonfiction. She is published in 35 countries around the world. Adriana is also a playwright, television writer/producer and filmmaker, and received accolades for the documentary film, Queens of the Big Time. She wrote and directed the major motion picture Big Stone Gap, filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. The movie spent 11 weeks in theaters in the fall of 2015 and was the #2 top-grossing romantic comedy of the year. Adriana co-founded The Origin Project with Nancy Bolmeier Fisher, an in-school writing program which serves over a thousand students in the Appalachian mountains of Virginia. She lives in New York City with her family and their rescue pets. Adriana speaks to book clubs and classrooms regularly. To invite her and schedule a Skype, please reach out to her at adrianaasst@aol.com, join her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or visit her at her website: adrianatrigiani.com. Adriana’s new novel, Kiss Carlo, is available for pre-sale online and wherever books are sold.

Lifestyle Notes: Why A Little Red Does a Woman Good

By Guest Blogger Tawyana Athey

The most universal lip color I know is red. The color red is worn all over the world and is one color that can be worn all year round. The spectrum of the red lip can range from the truest red to a warmer red with hit of orange or a cooler red with hints of purple.

Women sometimes shy away from this color for various reasons, such as old-school connotations of “You look like a floozy,” “a loose woman” or a “street walker”—which are all false. A nice red lip can emanate confidence, sexiness, power and boldness.

Other women have the idea that “I am too fair to wear red” or “I am too dark to wear red,” when it’s not the color red itself that should be the main focus, but the SHADE of red that will look good with your skin tone.

One of my favorite go-to looks is to pair an ombre red lip with lashes (I wear it at least 2-3 times a week). So ladies, the next time you are feeling a little adventurous, step out in your red lip and own your fierceness!

“Beauty, to me, is about being comfortable in your own skin.” ~ Tawyana Athey

Tawyana, wearing an ombre (red) lipstick.

Tawyana Athey is a Virginia-based makeup artist specializing in beauty, editorial, runway, film and bridal makeup. She has a natural affinity for putting the “!” on her clients’ natural beauty, in a manner that sets the tone for the client’s specific occasion and fits with the client’s personality or needs. Her major projects have included serving as lead makeup artist for the independent film “Reap What You Sow” and serving as the onsite makeup artist for Full Figure Fashion Week in New York during its June 2013 showcase of Ashley Stuart, Old Navy and Lane Bryant fashions. Tawyana enjoys spending time with her young daughter and using her gift of makeup artistry to serve her community. She has provided makeovers for breast cancer patients and for women inmates who are scheduled for release from the Virginia Department of Corrections. She loves opportunities to bring out “The Glam” in those she serves and considers herself your beauty belle of the South. Connect with Tawyana at blushoutloud.com or on Facebook at Blush_Out_Loud, Instagram @blushoutloud or Twitter @blushoutloud.

 

 

 

Her Story: Pain and Purpose

By Guest Blogger Alexis Goring

My mother recently told me that when I got sick at age 16, she asked God why at such a young age I had a nervous breakdown of epic proportions and had to be hospitalized.

The doctors diagnosed me with a chronic illness and prescribed a medicine that would help me be restored, but would  wreak havoc on my weight.

I gained 100 hundred pounds within five months of starting this medication; however, the medicine also helped me get better. And I eventually realized that a main reason I may have gotten sick at such a tender age might be so that God could birth my writing ministry.

You see, a few months after starting to get better, I found an online Christian community that spurred me to write. Other members’ comments moved me, and I felt nudged by God to start writing devotionals for the people who posted messages. Soon after, I began sending inspirational emails to friends and family, and that blossomed into a blog I titled “God is Love.”

About five years ago, I launched a Facebook community page called “Hope in My Heart,” which I borrowed from the title of my first book, Hope in My Heart: A Collection of Heartwarming Stories, that I self-published in September 2013.

Most recently, God answered a prayer of my heart when He allowed my second book to catch the attention of a traditional publisher, and in January 2017, I became an author with Forget Me Not Romances.

Did I mention that for five years, I also served as the “Growing Up” columnist for a faith-based publication called Collegiate Quarterly? Or that God enabled me to get my bachelor’s degree in print journalism and a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing?

None of this would have been possible without God leading and guiding me. Looking back, I see how He was there all along. Even at my lowest point, He was still there, and He used my pain to birth my purpose.

Some days, I think about what I lost by missing traditional school for almost two years when I was sick. But most days I realize that with God, I gained so much more, and that is a beautiful thing.

God restored me and made living worthwhile. He’s a miracle worker. I’m living proof.

Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in print journalism and an MFA in creative writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ. Visit her at website, www.screenwriteralexis.com, on Facebook or on Twitter.