Holiday Gifts That Matter Most

Remember in this season of giving (and getting) that it’s the seemingly little things that matter most:
– Calling friends or loved ones simply because they cross your mind
– Offering words of encouragement when someone needs them most
– Giving random hugs to remind those you care about that they’re valued
– Listening fully
– Praying fervently
– Laughing with, not at, someone
– Crying with, rather than for, someone
–  Making time, even when you’re busy
– Telling the truth with sincerity and love (often it’s not what you say, but how you say it that makes all the difference)
– Walking in integrity, and in doing so, showing others the way
– Granting yourself grace, so that others learn that skill, too
– Loving yourself best so that you can truly love others better. For when your heart is full and you’re confident about who you are, what you stand for and how you’re called to serve in this world, you can easily open doors, hold hands and make room for others to flourish, too.
I’m sure there’s more. What intangible, yet powerfully valuable treasures will you add to your gift-giving list this year?
Stacy Hawkins Adams 
Stacy Hawkins Adams blog

Set Your Intention & Surrender

I launched this first day of September a week or so ago with a morning trek along a path that was brand new to me. It was beautiful and breezy and serene.

I talked to God, and then I stilled myself to listen, even as my feet kept moving.
Subtly, yet clearly, the answers I sought came.

Then I saw it – that juncture in the road where the paved pathway met gravel – leading to uncultured, unknown territory and to a bend in the road around which I could not see.

I advanced a few feet, then retreated, deciding to explore more fully on another day.

For in that moment, I had all I needed – fresh air, exercise, a lush green setting and a visual reminder that at every turn, I am loved, worthy and deserving of joy.

And guess what? So are you.

That walk reminded me that even when we’re on the right path, we’ll encounter some pebbles, stones, rough patches and dirt. We won’t always know the end before we begin or even when we’re mid-journey. Yet, that’s why it’s so important to enjoy and treasure each step of the journey itself, for all the worth each phase brings.

In the right season, at the appointed time, we will discover the beauty behind those bends and truly value the extra effort it required to get there.

Wherever we are on the path, we can trust God’s goodness despite what the world or our circumstances show, and lean into the truths of how He has already blessed us. Think about your past 90 days and count the ways.

I’m convinced that our trek into the final months of 2019 are gonna be better than good – paved roads, gravelly paths, wood trails and all. Are you ready? I’ve got my walking/running shoes on and I am. 👟🕶💪🏾

Stacy Hawkins Adams

 

Why Divine Timing is Always On Time

When I pause and reflect on my journey, I’m often amazed at how God fits together my life’s puzzle pieces in the just-right way to connect my part of His universal design to someone else’s puzzle:

  •  The brief but powerful encounter I had with a stranger last Tuesday, all because my girlfriends and I just “so happened” to reschedule our dinner date for the 3rd time and randomly choose “that” restaurant
  • The reconnection with a longtime acquaintance at a stage I can guide her through, because I’ve already successfully navigated it and it’s time to pay forward the support I once received
  • The mentors coming into my babies’ lives at just the right time and in just the right way to help them grow and thrive in independence while reminding me of the power of the village
  • The emails from readers about how the words I penned anywhere from last week to 15 years ago have somehow changed their lives for the better, at just the moment they needed the laughter or encouragement or understanding that great love is grace-filled love.

I could go on and on, and I’m sure as I shared my examples, a few well-timed miracles of your own came to mind.

Today, I give thanks for the opportunity to be a blessing while receiving blessings in ways that are simple, profound and often in between.

You matter and I matter, and our puzzle pieces are divinely designed to interconnect with others’ during seasons and in ways that we may never fully understand.

Just keep doing you, being you and loving you, and trust God’s timing. Our masterpieces are in the making, and it’s a bonus when we choose to find hope and joy in that process.

 – Stacy Hawkins Adams

Help the Kate in Your Life – Especially If It’s You

I own two Kate Spade purses. A dear friend gifted them to me a few years ago as a “no special reason – I just wanted to” present. So whenever I’ve carried them, she has always filled my mind with loving thoughts.

Now when I use those handbags, I’ll also remember that Kate Spade was a real person, in need of help. I’ll remember to continue looking past people’s automatic smiles to make sure their eyes are smiling, too. If the light seems to be missing, I’ll offer a hand, listening ear, the truth in love, a therapist or counselor’s contact info, or a shoulder to cry on.

Let those around you know that your shoulders, hands, heart and lack of judgment are available, also. We all need safe spaces to land every now and then. 

My thoughts are with all who are struggling with emotional or mental health challenges. There’s nothing wrong with seeking help; in fact, it requires a certain strength.

Do it today. Many, many of us are cheering for you.

~ Stacy Hawkins Adams

Why We Must Surrender to Wonder

Sometimes our dreams are so big that we tiptoe to the edge of them, then shrink away.

But what if we had the courage to actually follow where they lead?

To consider how leaning into them and falling forward allows the wind to buoy us and keep us afloat? 

To trust the lessons we’ll learn, the people we’ll form bonds with and the experiences that will shape us as our divine birthright?

What if we loved ourselves- and those in our care – enough to surrender to this way of being?

Wow…just wow. Wouldn’t our lives be a wonder?

15 Ways to Get Unstuck and Grow

It’s true: Growth requires change. This is how…

Seeds become flowers;

Caterpillars become butterflies;

Irritants in oysters become pearls.

So why can’t we – once babes in arms – grow into purpose-driven world changers?

With intention, discipline and greater expectations, we can, and so can the children we’ve been given the opportunity to steward.

Let go of your fears and grow.

Where to start? Right here, right now.

How to start? With every simple or significant opportunity that comes your way.

Try one new thing today and see how it feels. Say yes to something you’d normally avoid. Consider embracing hard truths rather than running away from feedback, even if it stings.

Listen more and learn from others.

Get comfortable with silence so you can both hear yourself think and give your heart the space to respond. Consider another person’s perspective and why their view matters.

When you can’t literally stand in another person’s shoes, do your best to find other ways to empathize. What if it were your sister, brother, mother, father, son or daughter, best friend or spouse facing what this other person faces? Would you care enough to help, be an ally or be an upstander?

Shed unsuitable labels that those around you have given you. Beginning today, define or redefine for yourself who you are, who you are going to be and why your life matters.

Dust off the dreams you once held dear, but perhaps gave up pursuing. If necessary, give yourself permission to dream new dreams.

Accept that age truly is just a number. Celebrate the wisdom that has come with maturity, yet remain young at heart and as optimistic as the bright-eyed youth who sees a goal and declares it a birthright.

If Vera Wang could become a fashion designer at 40, Samuel Jackson could achieve stardom at age 46, Laura Ingalls Wilder could write her first book at 65, and Etta Baker could record her first blues record at 78, what can’t you do?

Make up your mind and fix your resolve to do it afraid, if necessary. (You get to determine what “it” is, and you may have more than one.)

Implement positive and productive practices that become positive and productive habits. Tell yourself to keep going when it gets hard. Push through and pat yourself on the back.

Cry if you must, then regroup. Get back up each time you wobble, fall or fail. Practice makes perfect, and important lessons are often learned through trial and error.

Know that what you’re you’re sacrificing now is worth what you’ll eventually gain.

Someday you’ll look back with gratitude at the seed covering, caterpillar shell and irritated oyster bed you outgrew.

~ Stacy Hawkins Adams

 

 

 

 

 

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