December 24, 2015

Simple Joys

READY…  "We only need to open our eyes to see the gifts that abound all around us. These are the simple joys in life." ~ Genevieve Gerard

AIM… Christmas.  It brings out the “merry” in people.  It brings out the “humbug” in people.  It reminds us of the missing pieces in our lives.  It gives us a skip in our step.  It makes us feel like a child again.  It makes us long for the warmth and connection of family.  It gives us hope. 

Christmas is so many things to each one of us.  But today, I am overwhelmed with feelings that I need to share that I know, are meant just for you, this Christmas.  I need to remind you to forget about all the wrappings, and gifts, and cookies, and perfect decorations, and making sure you invited all the right people.  I need to remind you to take a moment to breathe.  Stand still.  Close your eyes.  Take a deep breath.  Breathe in the smells of Christmas.  Breathe in the peace of the season.  Breathe in the opportunity to rest and reflect.  Now, as you open your eyes, commit to finding joy in a simple moment this Christmas weekend.  Jesus was a mere babe.  A tiny wonder.  An explosion of joy wrapped in a simple package.  Look for the simple moments of joy that will explode in your heart this year.  They will become special memories for you every Christmas.  That one, simple joyful moment will allow you to recognize and treasure the true meaning of love, hope, laughter, promise and peace.  Those joys are the real gems at the heart of Christmas spirit. 

Simple Joys.  So easy.  So necessary.  So priceless.  

Merry Christmas, my friends!

FIRE!  Promise yourself you will look for and recognize your simple moment of joy this Christmas.  When you discover it, breathe in deeply so you can capture all the nuances of the senses as the joy envelopes your heart.  See, you’re smiling!  That’s real joy!!

Be Excellent!

April 23, 2015

Private Thoughts

READY…  Don't let people's compliments go to your head and don't let their criticisms go to your heart.  To the depth we do either of these things, is to the depth we'll be ruled by what other people think of us. And boy, is it dangerous to build the stability of our identity on the fickle opinions of others.”  ~ Lysa TerKeurst

AIM… Admit it.  You have private thoughts about people, their lives, what they do or don’t do.  As you encounter people in the midst of their circumstances, do you offer suggestions and actually share your private thoughts about what they are going through?  Maybe you share your private thoughts on social media, since you don’t have to see those people face to face.  I’m sure you know exactly what private thoughts I’m talking about; your judgments, comments and criticisms about someone’s personal choices, actions, conversations and the like.  Let’s face it, whether solicited or not, we all have private thoughts about other people. 

More often than not, however, there are moments when people’s private thoughts spill out of their mouths and sting our hearts, leaving us feeling inferior.  There are also moments when those private thoughts can actually give our egos a huge boost, but then we end up walking around with big heads.  Lysa TerKeurst’s advice in the “READY” quote above is great wisdom for us to tuck away in that safe place of our brains as an invaluable life lesson.  It is so easy to get caught up in seeking the approval of others that we can lose sight of our own motivation, drive and intentions.  One well-intentioned but negative comment is all it takes to derail us from our goals; and getting back on track is often a painful journey.  My friends, don’t let other people’s private thoughts about you determine your destiny.  Choose your direction.  Stay the course.  If opinions and comments pass through your ears, use a sensible filter as to how you choose to weigh those words.  Keep your eyes on the prize and move those mountains knowing YOU value the private thoughts in your own head and heart.    

FIRE!  Choose to filter what you hear today.  Be careful not to internalize those negative comments and gently balance those positive atta-boys and atta-girls.  Speak life into the lives of those around you so your private thoughts don’t become public thoughts toward those you love.

Be Excellent!

April 2, 2015

Turn Down For What

READY…  “Not merely an absence of noise, Real Silence begins when a reasonable being withdraws from the noise in order to find peace and order in his inner sanctuary.”  ~ Peter Minard

AIM… Turn Down For What is the title of a popular song by Lil Jon and DJ Snake that ended up being the 7th best selling track of 2014.  With its catchy dance beat and synthesized groove, you can’t help but turn UP the song in your car when it’s on the radio.  However, this song title also makes me think about all the “noise” we allow in our lives that inevitably drowns out the things that matter most.  All that extra noise causes stress, discontent and anxiety. 

So, why should we turn down the outside influences and eliminate all the distractions that capture our attention?  Let’s face it, we can all admit there are things in our world that cause us to focus less on our priorities and more on nonsense.  Agreed?  Need a few examples?  100 extra unsolicited email advertisements, vacation promotions and coupon offers in your inbox; every day.  Video games and gaming apps.  200+ cable or satellite TV stations (and still nothing worthwhile to watch.)  Facebook.  Instagram.  Twitter.  Google +.  Tumblr.  Snapchat.  Get the idea? 

When was the last time you left your phone at home (without feeling naked) and stepped outside to listen to the wind whisper through the leaves in the trees or the birds welcoming spring with their sweet songs?  Just that thought, brings a sense of serenity and peace to my soul.  So why in the world can’t we turn down the noise?  It’s a choice.  It’s the new phenomenon called FOMO - fear of missing out. What in the world are we afraid we are going to miss; Sweet Susie’s meatloaf dinner picture or an episode of Modern Family?  We must choose to disconnect and turn down or turn off the things that cause us stress and strife, and choose to plug into the means that enable us to feel joy and peace. 

Shhhh, listen!  It’s the sound of silence.  Ahhh…..

FIRE!  This week, choose one area where you can turn down the noise in your life.  Make a commitment to delete something unnecessary.  You will feel relieved and free, guaranteed! 

Be Excellent!

March 13, 2015

Are You A Leader?

READY  Become the kind of leader that people would follow voluntarily; even if you had no title or position.”  ~ Brian Tracy

AIM… Are you a leader?  It’s an interesting question.  Some folks might answer immediately with yes or no.  Other folks may need to ponder that answer due to the situations they’ve encountered in life.  

I attended two days of intensive training with my executive team at work this week, and one of the exercises involved sharing the characteristics of the person who has had the most influence on you (not including your family members.)  Here are the results:  

mentor, caring, approachable, motivational, responsible, encouraging, consistent, passionate, structured, sacrifice, teacher, integrity, good listener, instrumental, helpful, not afraid to get dirty, provides accountability, honest, character, dedicated, empathetic, courageous.”

The end result was the observation that all those influential people were leaders to each one of us in one way or another, whether they were teachers, coaches, friends, bosses, co-workers, advisors, etc.  I think you’d probably agree with that list and might even have a few more to add yourself. 

The characteristics that the people in our lives need most from us at home, at work, on the field, at church and at your social events are in that list above.  Take a moment to reread that list of characteristics and ask yourself, “Are you a leader?”  Why are (or aren’t) you giving people what they deserve; the very best version of you, their leader?  A good thought to evaluate as you continue to target excellence in all areas of your life.

FIRE!  As you reviewed the list of good leader characteristics, choose one in which you feel you need improvement.  Take the time to foster growth in that area by finding resources online, in a new book or ask YOUR most influential person to give your pointers and tips on being an excellent leader.

Be Excellent!

March 5, 2015

Bring Your Own Sunshine

READY  “Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”  ~ Anthony D’Angelo 

AIM… I’ve heard so many people grumbling about us having a long winter this year.  You know, I think, here in Ohio, it’s just been that we’ve had more larger snowfalls than normal, causing everyone to stay home, which leads to several severe cases of cabin fever.  The official first day of spring is always March 21st, so winter is no longer than normal; we’ve just had to stay indoors WAY longer than usual!  Winter is also tough because we have limited exposure to the sunlight, and feeling the warmth of the sun on your face is enough to brighten anyone’s outlook.  (I know my warmer climate readers will agree wholeheartedly!)

Interestingly, we may encounter seasons in our lives, when we feel like we are in a perpetual winter.  Some days you may feel like you just want to pull the covers over your head, snuggle down in bed and stay warm and insulated from our cold-hearted world.  However, as cozy and secure as that sounds, it doesn’t get us any closer to stepping into a fresh new season of life.  Sometimes you just have to make up your mind that you are going to create your own sunshine.  It’s not always easy, but you can CHOOSE to get out of bed and do something that makes you happy.  It’s not always fun, but you can CHOOSE to watch a comedy or read a few jokes to make you laugh.  It’s not always convenient, but you can CHOOSE to make plans with a friend to get out of the house, do something different and get some much-needed positive encouragement.

While we cannot control the weather, we can control our choices each day of our lives.   Today, I encourage you to choose to do something that makes you feel the warmth of the sun in your heart.  You’ll feel one thousand times better AND your light will brighten the day of another, guaranteed.
FIRE!  Trying to beat the winter blues?  Do something different.  Have an indoor picnic and eat your dinner on the floor on a blanket.  Have an indoor snowball fight with rolled up socks.  Got more ideas?  Share your sunshine with others and watch them smile!

Be Excellent!
Lori Bodkin

February 25, 2015

Following Your Dream

READY  “If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”  ~ Henry David Thoreau

AIM…  Hello, loyal AOI readers!  “Where in the world have you been?”  I heard that a lot during the absence of my weekly messages. Honestly, my radical sabbatical came from a divine order to follow a dream.  One day I’m writing inspiration for you, the next day I get connected with another writer and SHAZAM!  We’re off and writing a book together!  So, all this time I’ve been working on a book with another author and several contributing authors and trudging through the details of getting our book published, etc.  The happy announcement is that our book is published and is available in paperback or online as an e-book!  WOO HOO!  Talk about a labor of love!

Personally, I have been told many times that I would one day write a book…or at least, I should write a book. That dream laid dormant in my heart for many years.  There would be times when I’d walk by the book store and wonder what it would be like to see a book on the shelf with MY name on it. When the opportunity presented itself for me to pursue my dream, it exploded like a firework on the 4th of July!  So many elements fell right into place.  My co-author and I had never met before and after one connection by a mutual friend, our creative sparks ignited.  Our words and stories flowed into multiple pages of inspiration.  The publisher was able to jump several hurdles she had never encountered before through the process of getting our book in print.  It was all divinely appointed and directed and the evidence is my dream, our dream, come true as the final product to share with you.

So, what are you dreaming about today?  Are there desires deep down in your heart that you would love to see come to pass?  Perhaps, it’s not quite time for them to be fulfilled…yet.  However, what you cannot see are all the preparations that are going on behind the scenes of your life plan.  Maybe you recognize an opportunity to take a leap of faith and jump one step closer to making your dream come true.  Wherever you are on that path and whatever you are thinking about today, may you look to the future with great anticipation.  Exciting things are happening and I simply cannot wait to hear all about them and cheer you on!

FIRE!  Take just a few moments to jot down a couple things you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime.  (Some people call it their personal bucket list; others call it their dreaming list.)  Whatever you call it, commit your desires to paper and put it where you’ll be reminded of your goals on a regular basis.  As your dreams come true, write “VICTORY” on your list and then look forward to your next moment of fabulous success.

Be Excellent!




September 25, 2013


READY... “It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”  ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

AIM…  “Why can’t you just listen to me?”  Ugh!  It’s extremely frustrating to me when my children do not listen when told to do something.  Most days I just feel like the only thing coming out of my mouth is the droning sound of the teacher in Charlie Brown comics, “Whaa – Whaah,  Whaa – Whaah – Whaah.”  (I know you just sounded that out so you could recall the voice yourself.  LOL!)  But seriously, I just want my words to be heard and acknowledged.

It is just as frustrating, if not moreso, when adults don’t listen.  Humans have an innate need to be heard; whether it is to voice an opinion or to provide instruction. However, the receiver of that information must decide to hear what you are saying. Your need to be heard will never override a person’s decision to hear what you are saying. After all, we can choose to listen to music with explicit lyrics, or we can choose not to listen to our co-workers gossip.  We can choose to listen to the sounds of birds singing in the morning, or we can choose not to listen to the cricket chirping in the corner of the basement.  Listening can be good and listening can be, well, not so great.  What we do with what we hear makes all the difference too.

So, are you a good listener?  When having conversation with another person, do you look him in the eye?  Are you engaged in the details of her story or do you check out and look around the room?  If you desire to be heard when you speak, I urge you to become a good listener to others.  Perhaps you will find they will return the favor. (Now, how can I convince my kids to LISTEN to my advice??)

FIRE!  Today, instead of checking your email, texts or Facebook updates on your smart phone, give your friends, family members and colleagues your full and undivided attention.  You’ll be surprised at the positive connections made through this simple act of respect and good listening skills.

Be Excellent!