Life’s Calling – Pay Attention

Today, pay attention to the little things – words spoken or unspoken; gestures rendered or withheld; opportunities offered or missed; your struggle between fear and confidence, or maybe a focus on all that’s wrong instead of dwelling in the beauty of all that’s right.

Watch yourself and others, and consider the consequences of words and actions;  listen with your heart as well as with your ears; assess whether being glass half-full or glass half-empty serves you best. 

Change whatever you must to grow and be content; and give others the space and the grace to do the same.

Stretching and growing isn’t always easy, but having the courage to embrace the process (while being thoughtful and respectful of others) can guide you to greater places, both within and without. 

Love Deeper

Love is a word that’s often misused or misunderstood. But it’s also a reflection of giving, serving, leading, and leaning into doing your best to be part of others’ peace, fulfillment, joy and growth.

Love is hard, especially when it’s being executed by imperfect beings. Yet, given that it’s the foundation of all humanity, it’s also worth it – even when it means persisting at it, or letting go, or being more vulnerable, or standing tough.

Work hard at loving yourself more deeply so that it becomes effortless to give the best TO yourself, and in the process, pour out a more authentic, loyal and lasting love to others. Hate won’t end until we push harder to help love win.

Twin Opportunities

Our two greatest opportunities in this life are to love unconditionally and to discover our purpose. 

In discovering how we’re meant to move through the world with our gifts and talents, we also discover how we’re meant to serve; and embracing this revelation is also an act of love. 

So live, love and laugh. Look within and keep stretching past your comfort zone. Be a reflection of what you want to add to the world and what you want to receive in return.

50th Plans…And Then Came COVID

Celebrating My 50 While 50 – Update #1

Nearly two months ago, in mid-January, I celebrated the Big 5-0. Like many people do as a milestone birthday approaches, I’d begun pondering months earlier just how I would celebrate.

I was super excited about this birthday, because 2011 – the year I turned 40 – had also been a big year of a big change in my family dynamics. I spent the decade between then and now leaning into my new role as single, co-parenting mom of two adolescents, making sure they had the nurturing, the education and the extracurriculars that would help them thrive and be prepared to discover their purpose. The choices and sacrifices I made during that season were more than worth it; but I was looking forward to launching this new decade with a special trip somewhere in that world that would serve as a kick off for more opportunities to explore never-visited American cities and states, and places around the globe.  

Then came COVID. The world stopped, and along with having to help my son celebrate his high school graduation virtually and my daughter celebrate her college graduation without a formal ceremony, I had to abandon my looming 50th birthday plans. 

Trust me, I know how minor these and a few other very disappointing setbacks were, given the tumult and loss unfolding every single day. I couldn’t complain (then or now), and I continue to seek ways to offer help and encouragement to friends and many others who are in need.

My past 12 months of pandemic living have been graced with many blessings, including a new job filled with meaningful work; settling my son into a college where he gets to run track; watching my daughter practicing “adulting” in a way that has made me proud(er) to be her mom, and everyone in my immediate family remaining healthy.

I know this hasn’t been the case for many people, including some of my closest friends and loved ones, and I don’t take it for granted. So, being the optimistic person I am, I turned my attention to creating a Plan B. For me that is my 50 While 50 List – i.e., a list of 50 things to do while I’m enjoying my 50th year. 

I asked readers of my author newsletter to chime in with suggestions, and boy, did they answer. Between the 30 or so ideas I already had on the list and their wonderful ideas, I’ve now got a lineup of 67 things to do! Lol And if you know me, you know I’ll fit at least 50 things in during 2021 and “carryover” the other 17 into 2022, if necessary.

I promised my newsletter readers that I’d be sharing periodic updates on my progress in this space and this is my first 50 While 50 installment. 

I’ve spent January, February and some of March keeping promises that are fun, practical, fulfilling and maybe a bit uncomfortable enough to stretch me, including:

  • Treating myself to a few favorite “non-everyday” foods whenever the whim hits me, including calamari and German chocolate cake. I haven’t gone overboard, but I’ve enjoyed leaning into those “why not today?” urges when they’ve randomly occurred.
  • Getting a colonoscopy. Not a fun task, but not a necessary one! It was uneventful, and it gave me peace of mind to check this off my list of responsible things to do.
  • Sitting in silence more than usual. As a writer, I often ponder and create in silence; but these particular quiet times have been filled with more intentional journaling, meditating, letting my thoughts roam free, praying, and envisioning some of my goals and dreams as reality. The process has helped me refine my goals and know myself even better.
  • Buying two instead of one. I’ve bought myself a bouquet of fresh flowers every two weeks, just because, for years. Since January, I’ve sometimes made it two – one bouquet graces a vase on my dining room table and the other is placed where I choose – my living room or family room or bedroom.
  • Taking time away. I spent a few days on the Chesapeake Bay, leaning into long walks, prayer time and socially distant meals and laughter with two of my closest sisterfriends. The experience was fun and gave me the clarity and courage to say yes to a few new things. 
  • Spa-ing. I treated myself to a mid-week facial with a fun millennial esthetician, whose chatty style and excellent work left me refreshed and renewed.
  • I sat in on a virtual masterclass about the book-to-movie process, with goals of learning how to someday see my novels on the big screen.
  • I secured three sessions with a life coach to help me refine my short-term goals and to create an accountability plan. This has been a worthwhile investment!

These are just a few things, and it’s only mid-March. I’m enjoying this process and along the way asking myself a question that a professional acquaintance posed to me in a recent conversation: What will you do differently? 

I’ve been leaning into that query in every area of my life, to ensure that I’m not just going through the motions or simply checking things off the list to say I’ve gotten them done. Either I am leaning into doing things the same as always because there’s a reason this way is best, or doing them differently because making slight changes will get me closer to the joy, the journey and the results that I want to be most impactful and lasting.

What about you? How’s your start to 2021? What are you leaning into? What are you willing to do differently? Regardless of whether this is a milestone birthday year for you, this can be a year that you set and reach new milestones, just because you’re worth it.

Share your plans in the comment section, and thanks for reading and cheering me on. As we all move forward and evolve as best we can, may we also remember our simple and significant blessings and pay them forward as best we can.

Appreciate What Remains

Reflect for a moment where you were this time last year, about a month before the world plunged head first into a pandemic.

I’m sure that for each of us there have been losses and gains, and some wonderful milestones and not-so-great moments; but the beauty of reality is that you’re. still. here.

Trust the timing of your life. 

Take care of your heart. 

Lean into joy.

And as you look back over the year, do as a wise dear friend of mine recommends: Take the “meat from the bones” and be grateful for the goodness. That’s what should remain. 

Bitter or Better?

We’re all works in progress, serving as “general contractors” of our very existence.

Managing your “life project” may be daunting or complicated or lead you down some unexpected paths;

But don’t dismiss opportunities to change and grow, love and serve, appreciate others’ gifts, and be good to yourself along the way.

Only you can decide whether your experiences will make you bitter or better.

Choose the latter and you’ll make the world around you better, too.  

Finding Something to Celebrate

As we enter a holiday season like no other, it is my hope and prayer that despite this legendary year of stress, trauma and loss – whether collective, personal or both for you – you’re able to find a few reasons to anchor yourself in gratitude, generosity and love. 


For some of us this may be easier said than done; yet  I invite you to join me in treating ourselves as the gift that keeps on giving, understanding that as long as we practice self-care and takes steps to get whatever rest, support and care we need to shore ourselves up, we’ll be better able to show up strong, healthy, helpful and loving to and for others. 


Consider what positive thoughts and actions most often bring you hope, peace and enjoyment, and allow yourself to revel in those simple and significant pleasures during this season, without guilt or hesitation.

Hold onto something good and know that greater is coming. 

I’m sending you a virtual hug, heartfelt prayers for healing and hope, and a wish that you cling to your dreams, no matter what.

Wishing you a meaningful Thanksgiving, filled with a few things that make your heart smile.

 

Trust Yourself, Treat Yourself

You are the captain of your ship, and therefore of your wellbeing, your purpose and your journey.

Love without condition while still exercising wisdom.

Give generously while setting appropriate boundaries.

Dream big and don’t settle. It may take time, but the time will be just right.

Say no when doing so gives you the space to practice self-care.

Lean into “not now” when this will keep you safer rather than sorry.

Say yes, always, to honoring your heart, character and integrity, even if this means sometimes standing alone.

Be willing to sacrifice short-term rewards in order to experience long-term gains.

Know that you are worthy and embrace that truth with peace, confidence and joy.

Words, Indeed

I had such a thoughtful conversation with my 19-year-old son recently – about really seeing and hearing each other as human beings, worthy of uniquely full lives and flourishing dreams, and deserving of respect.

He is my introverted, yet self-confident “thinker” who uses words sparingly. So, whenever he launches into conversation with me, I listen – to hear what’s on his heart and mind, and to learn more about what he values and how he’s navigating life. It’s amazing to witness the man he is becoming and to learn from him as he grows.

When we, the teachers, are also open to being students, we stretch beyond our comfort zones, lean into unconsidered truths, and perhaps come out on the other side wiser for the journey.

Which do you prefer – flattering words that charm you or insight that informs and refines you?

Which do you believe will make for a better you, and as a result, a better world?

Perhaps this next generation has answers for us to consider. We’re never too old to evolve and appreciate the process.

Stacy Hawkins Adams

The Anatomy of Gratitude

For every opportunity there is to complain, hold a grudge, or judge without knowing the whole story, there is an equal opportunity to let go, adapt and expand.

Embrace experiences that strengthen your wisdom and empathy, and help you grow in grace, joy and hope.

You are the best possible person to be you – no need to imitate or compare yourself to others. Be grateful to be alive and able to try your best another day.

Stacy Hawkins Adams