December 28, 2010


READY8 “An optimist stays up until midnight to see the new year in. A pessimist stays up to make sure the old year leaves.” ~ Bill Vaughn

AIM8 As 2010 comes to a close, many people are looking forward to a fresh, new start with a brand new year. Before you jump ahead to 2011, have you taken time to think about what you did this year? Pause a moment to answer these few questions about 2010:

- What was your most memorable moment this year?
- What was your favorite laughable experience?
- Was there a situation that made you sad? What did you do about it?
- What was your proudest moment?

As you reflect on your experiences and memories, is there anything you would have done differently? My hope is that as you look back through 2010 you enjoyed more blessings than regrets and more laughs than tears. If you aren’t happy with your reflection, take a look in the mirror. Only you can change the course of the new year. Let’s walk together and choose excellence as people of integrity in 2011. I’m looking forward to sharing many more merry moments with you and hearing all about your successes and triumphs. Cheers to us!

FIRE!8 Take out a sheet of paper, or open a new document on the computer and jot down at least 15 new things you want to try or accomplish in 2011. You can be practical or creative, big or small. Save your list and periodically check back to see what you’ve actually accomplished. What a great way to physically see your personal victories!

Be Excellent in 2011!

December 22, 2010

Winning Christmas

READY8 “Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.” ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

AIM8 Have you heard the Target holiday commercials about Christmas shopping and “winning Christmas?” The gal is talking about finding the perfect gifts for everyone on her list and implying that she’s going to secure the trophy for best present this year. Seriously? Is this what Christmas has come to? Sigh…editorial disclaimer ahead…

It appears to me that our society has gotten so caught up in materialism that Christmas has become nothing more than a commercial holiday. To some, it’s not a real Christmas gift unless it is purchased at a well-known department store and wrapped in expensive paper complete with required bow. Really? We’re not children any more; we’re grown-ups and we’re supposed to be mature and understand the true meaning of Christmas. I think there’s something about keeping up with the Joneses that gets into our heads (not our hearts) and we become materialistic maniacs during the holidays. I’ll admit I often get caught up in the hustle and bustle of holiday shopping as much as the next person. However, my eternal quest is to spend quality time with my family and friends during the holidays. This is a gift to me and to each of them.

So, if you’re on a budget this year, why not give homemade gifts? A homemade gift, whether it be food, clothing or decorations, is really a gift of your most precious commodities – your time, talent and love. Who wouldn’t want a gift that was handcrafted specifically with them in mind? Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that the true meaning of Christmas does not come with a price tag.

I propose to you that in order to “win” Christmas favor this year, you do the following:

1.) Give generously and sincerely no matter where you bought the gift, how much it cost you or how long it took you to make it.

2.) Be a gracious receiver regardless of how big, how little or how unconventional the gift is that you are given.

3.) Carve out a few moments Christmas morning to find peace in the midst of the hurried pace of this week. Let the birth of a tiny baby, Jesus, rest in your soul as you reflect on all the gifts you’ve been given all year long. More importantly, be thankful for the gift God gave you long ago…the gift of life.

FIRE!8 Have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and Joyous Winter Solstice! (Did I miss any? LOL!) Honestly, I truly wish you and your families the best of everything this year. As I celebrate Christmas, your gifts of friendship, loyalty and love are what I cherish most of all.

Be Excellent!

December 14, 2010

I Believe

READY8 “We are what we believe we are.” ~ C.S. Lewis

AIM8 Believe! I absolutely love the various connotations this one word implies. Right now, I’m seeing the word believe everywhere I go because it’s Christmas. So for this season, does believe imply to believe in Santa, believe in miracles, believe in Jesus, believe in yourself or just believe in the magic of Christmas? I believe it implies all of the above for the right people in the right circumstances.

What do you believe? Some time ago I received a very insightful poem from a dear friend and it seemed fitting for our questions about believing. See what you think…

I Believe...
That just because two people argue,
It doesn't mean they don't love each other.
And just because they don't argue,
It doesn't mean they do love each other.

I Believe…
That we don't have to change friends if
We understand that friends change.

I Believe...
That no matter how good a friend is,
They're going to hurt you every once in a while
And you must forgive them for that.

I Believe…
That true friendship continues to grow,
Even over the longest distance.
Same goes for true love.

I Believe...
That you can do something in an instant
That will give you heartache for life.

I Believe...
That it's taking me a long time
To become the person I want to be.

I Believe…
That you should always leave loved ones with loving words.
It may be the last time you see them.

I Believe...
That we are responsible for what we do,
No matter how we feel.

I Believe...
That either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I Believe…
That heroes are the people who do what has to be done when it
Needs to be done, regardless of the consequences.

I Believe...
That money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I Believe…
That sometimes when I'm angry I have the right to be angry,
But that doesn't give me the right to be cruel.

I Believe...
That maturity has more to do with what types of experiences you've had
And what you've learned from them and less to do with how many birthdays you've celebrated.

I Believe...
That it isn't always enough, to be forgiven by others.
Sometimes, you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I Believe...
That our background and circumstances may have influenced who we are,
But, we are responsible for who we become.

I Believe...
That you shouldn't be so eager to find out a secret.
It could change your life forever.

I Believe...
That your life can be changed in a matter of
Hours by people who don't even know you.

I Believe...
That credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being.

I Believe…
The happiest of people don't necessarily have the best of everything,
They just make the most of everything.

So I ask you again, what do you believe?

FIRE!8 Believing is half the battle in life sometimes. Choose one way you can be a believer this week. Whether it’s believing you can do something yourself, or sharing your belief in someone else or giving time to demonstrate that you believe in the spirit of Christmas; just BELIEVE!

Be Excellent!

December 8, 2010

Naughty or Nice?

READY8 “Somehow, not only for Christmas, but all the long year through, the joy that you give to others, is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing, the poor and lonely and sad, the more of your heart's possessing, returns to you glad. ~ John Greenleaf Whittier

AIM8 Children everywhere are double-checking their behavior this month. Santa will be taking an inventory soon of their actions to determine whether they were mostly naughty or mostly nice. If the children are deemed nice, they will receive toys and treats Christmas morning. If the children are deemed naughty, they will wake up Christmas morning to lumps of coal underneath their trees. Hmmm…seems like a pretty easy decision. Be nice!!

What if adults were held to the same naughty and nice standards at Christmas as our children? OUCH! That sure makes some of us wince when we think about our behaviors over the past year. Were we mostly nice? Doing activities to help others, speaking kindly to family members and co-workers and taking care of ourselves? Or were we naughty? Telling little white lies, giving in to addictions or shaking our fists and screaming in road rage moments?

There is good news, my friends! It is never too late to redeem your “nice” status before Christmas. Choose to be a person of integrity and make excellent choices with your behavior, actions and activities. Just think, if “he sees you when you’re sleeping and he knows when you’re awake” then I know I am going to make sure I’m nice even when no one else is watching. Wow, seems like a lot to change in a short amount of time. Even if you simply focus on changing one small action, your positive improvement will make you feel better, and if nothing else, you’ll sleep better at night.

“So, you better watch out…”

FIRE!8 Choose at least one thing you can do today to be NICE to someone else. Better yet, choose to be NICE at least once a day until it becomes a habit. What a fun challenge to bless others when they least expect it!

Be Excellent!

November 30, 2010

Bitterness Beware

READY8 “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.” Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

AIM8 I’m certain, at some point in each of our lives, we’ve each encountered a difficult situation. I don’t mean frustration at work or juggling life and school activities. I mean a situation that rocks the very core of your soul. A situation that makes you shake your head, questions your purpose and leaves you empty with no answers or direction. It is in times like these when we need to recognize our existence, plant our feet firmly on the ground and allow God to move in mighty ways. It’s times like these when the devil looks for a weak moment to get his evil thoughts into our heads and hearts. If we let those negative voices play over and over in our minds, what will results be? A life full of bitterness, resentment, anger, depression, isolation and a wake of disastrous relationships and loneliness.

When you recognize yourself in a soul-shaking situation, stop and recognize your thoughts and feelings. Don’t internalize the negativity that comes with tests and trials. Let God lead the way and give you grace to handle each moment of each day. Turn your thoughts toward positive and uplifting changes. You may not be able to control the situation; however, you can control your reaction to the situation. If you feel that all hope is lost and no one can help you…God will always be there for you and will never leave you. He is faithful, even in the midst of the most unbelievable circumstances. Trust Him and be free.

FIRE!8 Life throws us all a curve ball now and again. Put on your gear and be ready to catch the fly balls you encounter before they get a chance to become grand slams. Grab a Bible and a good friend for reference, if necessary and let God be the umpire of your life.

Be Excellent!

November 23, 2010

Remember Your Manners

READY8 “The hardest job kids face today is learning good manners without seeing any.” ~ Fred Astaire

AIM8 It’s Thanksgiving week! Folks everywhere are loosening up their belts for the big turkey day feast on Thursday. Some people are lacing up their running shoes to get ready for the super duper shopping day on Black Friday. What are you doing to prepare for the Thanksgiving weekend festivities?

Perhaps each one of us should take five minutes to sit down and write a list of a few things we are truly thankful for this year. To be honest, I’m thankful for good manners. I love it when I hear people using good manners with each other, especially in public. Sadly, good manners seem to have been lost in the shuffle from age three until adulthood. Even for some adults, good manners are a nuisance or an unspoken understanding. How in the world are our children supposed to grow up using good manners if they don’t even witness their parents, their teachers or the people they spend time with using good manners?

When we were young, our families reminded us regularly to say please and thank you. If we forgot to say either one of those words in the proper context, we were immediately reminded and promptly corrected. Nowadays, we’re lucky to hear people say thank you if we hold the doors open for them at the grocery store!

I am far from perfect and do not claim to be Miss Manners by any account. However, on occasion, I make using good manners a personal game. I will intentionally say thank you to my server every time he or she brings something to my table at a restaurant. As my server, she is putting extra effort into making my meal a great experience and because I appreciate her effort, I want to be sure to express my gratitude. It’s amazing what kind of response and attention you receive when someone knows he or she is appreciated. Have you ever tried it? What about the checkout line at the grocery store? Remember, we’ve had conversation about this situation before! Make the cashier’s day by saying thank you at the end of your transaction…especially if he or she doesn’t say thank you first!

What about good manners in your home? Do you tell your children thank you for listening and following instructions when you ask them to clean up their rooms? Are you making sure your spouse feels loved and appreciated for working to provide for your family’s needs? Play the good manners game at your dinner table, making sure each person says thank you after passing a requested item. Or better yet, making sure each person thanks the cook for creating a delicious meal to fill an empty tummy.

So, it’s Thanksgiving week. Make sure you don’t overlook the importance of being thankful for everything you are blessed to have and experience in your life. Use your good manners to express your gratitude with each person with whom you spend time with this weekend. Your expression of thanks will fill your heart with joy and the other person’s heart with kindness and love.

FIRE!8 Your mission this week is to say “Thank you” to each person who does something for you this weekend. Perhaps he may open a door or get you a drink; she might cook you a meal or bag your groceries. Whatever the task, take time to show your appreciation and say thanks!

Be Excellent!

November 16, 2010

Roller Coasters

READY8 “Never get on a roller coaster that leaves full and comes back half empty.” ~ Johnny Hart "B. C." Cartoonist

AIM8 Have you ever ridden a roller coaster? If you have, you know that there are going to be nerve-wrecking climbs up the clacking track and stomach-gripping drops down the steep hills. If you were brave enough, maybe the roller coaster you rode included butterfly-inducing double loops or even nauseating corkscrew rolls. Whew, it makes me sweaty just thinking about it!

Life is just like a roller coaster. Some days it feels like you’re climbing up an endless clacking track, wondering when you’ll reach the top of the hill. Other days your emotions may get tossed up and down, round and round and you are left feeling dizzy and nauseous. For most of us, life is blazing by at record speed, just like the drop of that first roller coaster hill.

So how do we survive this roller coaster called life? First, be sure to buckle up and grab the safety bar. Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. Safety and security in your home, with your job and your family relationships are vital to your personal success. Second, surround yourself with loving friends who will cheer you on to victory. Doesn’t it always make the roller coaster ride a little more exciting when you know you have other people screaming along with you? Finally, when all else fails, throw your hands up and enjoy the thrill of the ride. What do you have to lose other than your lunch?

So, hold your ticket firmly in your hand, take your place in line and get prepared for this bigger and faster than ever ride you’ll never forget called life!

FIRE!8 Having a rough roller coaster day, week or year? Grab a friend and throw your hands up, scream out loud if you need to relieve some tension, then enjoy a victory high-five knowing you just made it over the first hill.

Be Excellent!

November 9, 2010

The Stress Mess

READY8 “If you ask what is the single most important key to longevity, I would have to say it is avoiding worry, stress and tension. And if you didn’t ask me, I’d still have to say it.” ~ George F. Burns

AIM8 Long hours and difficult employees, financial and family issues that come with the holidays, children with their school requirements and endless social activities…Calgon, take me away! Stress is the result of the tremendous pressure we put on ourselves to be everything to everybody, do everything they expect, while keeping it all together at home. It’s enough to send anyone off the deep end at any given time. Here are a few ideas to help you keep your stress level in check.

1.) First of all, breathe. Right now, as you are reading this message, take a deep breath in, pause, and release it out. Ahhh…just ten simple seconds of tranquility will help your body take a much needed break.

2.) Second, escape the madness and give yourself five to ten minutes to refocus your efforts and redirect your plan of attack. You’ve probably heard that eating an elephant yard by yard is hard. However, inch by inch, eating an elephant is a cinch! Break down your stressful triggers into bite-size portions so they are easier for you to manage and experience small victories on a daily basis.

3.) Lastly, recognize that we are all control freaks at some level. Let go and let God be in control. We are not super humans and cannot possibly do everything. God can and will give us strength, patience, wisdom and peace to handle whatever life throws at us. Don’t forget: sometimes God puts other people in our lives to help.

FIRE!8 I am giving you permission for “me time.” Take a long hot shower or a bubble bath tonight. Let the stress of the day, melt away as the hot water relaxes your tense muscles. Then watch all your worries be washed down the drain.

Be Excellent!

November 2, 2010

That's A Mom For You

READY8 “Sweater, n.: garment worn by a child when its mother is feeling chilly.” ~Ambrose Bierce

AIM8 For some reason, I have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders this week because I’m a mother. I am so fortunate that my children are happy, healthy and hilarious. There is never a dull moment in our house thanks to my kids…and hubby! So in honor of all my friends who are moms, I thought I’d lighten up this week’s message with a fun little story I received from another mother. If you have ever read If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Numeroff with your kids, you will love the story that follows.

If You Give A Mom A Muffin
If you give a mom a muffin,
she’ll want a cup of coffee to go with it.
She’ll pour herself some.
Her three year old will spill the coffee.
She’ll wipe it up.
Wiping it up she’ll find dirty socks.
She’ll remember she has to do laundry.
When she puts the laundry in the washer,
she’ll trip over boots and bump into the freezer.
Bumping into the freezer will remind her
she has to plan for supper.
She will get out a pound of hamburger.
She’ll look for her cookbook.
The cookbook is setting under a pile of mail.
She will see the phone bill which is due tomorrow.
She will look for her checkbook.
The checkbook is in her purse
that is being dumped out by her two year old.
She’ll smell something funny.
She’ll change the two year old’s diaper.
While she is changing the diaper the phone will ring.
Her five year old will answer and hang up.
She’ll remember she wants to phone a friend for coffee.
Thinking of coffee will remind her
that she was going to have a cup.
And chances are… if she has a cup of coffee
her kids will have eaten the muffin that goes with it.

~ Author Unknown

FIRE!8 Hug a Mom! Being a mother is a BIG job that often comes with only a paycheck in hugs and kisses. If you are proud of your mom or a friend who is a great mom, be sure to tell her today. It might be the only formal confirmation of her hard work and efforts she receives.

Be Excellent!

October 27, 2010


READY8 “You be careful. People in masks cannot be trusted.” ~ The Princess Bride

AIM8 Trick or treat! Little super heroes, ghosts, goblins and princesses will don their masks and cleverly coordinated outfits to go parading around for a few hours this week. What is it that is so enticing about dressing up as someone else? How quickly we forgot about our imaginations? It’s fun to pretend! Somehow, once we grow up a bit, pretending you are someone, or something you are not, outside of Halloween, isn’t as enchanting as when we were kids.

Have you ever walked into work with that “fake it ‘til you make it” mask on your face, hoping no one asks you how you’re REALLY doing? Surely, you have put on a mask once in your life when you just wanted everyone to think you had it all together, when in reality, you world was crumbling around you. It is hard to present the real you; it’s easier to hide behind the mask. However, I assure you, once you are able to eliminate at least one layer of disguise, you will feel so much lighter. Baby step by baby step, I encourage you to uncover the beautiful person who hides behind the mask. Do not be afraid to show the real you, even if the real you hasn’t been seen in years, it will be refreshing to simply be yourself and to finally stop masquerading as someone you truly are not. Trust yourself. I believe in you.

FIRE!8 Find one person you can be completely real and transparent with about yourself, your past and your current feelings. Take off your mask once and for all and promise yourself that you will make every attempt not to put it on again. Be the person God created you to be.

Be Excellent!

October 20, 2010

Puddle Jumping

READY8 “When it rains, it pours; so grab an umbrella and jump in the puddles!” ~ Lori Bodkin

AIM8 Have you ever noticed that when you have a full schedule, there always seems to be one more meeting or activity that needs to be squeezed into your already jam-packed week? Or perhaps there’s a day when things just aren’t going well for you and then you hear more bad news or have yet another bad experience? Well, you know how the saying goes, “When it rains, it pours.” You know what I say during those times? When it rains, grab an umbrella and jump in the puddles!

When the weatherman forecasts a rainy day, some of us see the rain as water for our gardens and the grass and trees. Others of us view the rain as nasty weather that ruins our outdoor plans. Children see rain as a chance to splash, jump around, get wet and giggle.

If you have ever watched a child jump in a puddle, his eyes gleam and he squeals with delight as the water explodes all around his tiny feet. Kids don’t worry about wet shoes and pants. Kids just enjoy a simple moment of stress relief and pure innocent fun. Hey, clothes and shoes dry out, right? C’mon, have some fun and lighten up!

I think we can all learn a valuable lesson from our children. As life piles up, in good or not so good ways, remember to just grab your umbrella, find the nearest puddle and splash to your heart’s content. Ahh…I can see the stress and worry melting away from your face already. Now, don’t you feel like you can face your challenges with a fresh new outlook?

FIRE!8 Jump in a puddle this week! Give us your positive ideas for “puddle jumping” when there’s no rain in sight and I’ll share your ideas with our readers. Now, go splash!

Be Excellent!

October 12, 2010

Even There

READY8 “Even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” Psalm 139:10 NLT

AIM8 It’s not often that we take the time to stop and evaluate our lives, our jobs or our family situations. As you look at your journey through life, do you feel like you are really thriving…or are you just simply surviving? No matter where you are on this journey, “even there”, God is with you. Psalm 139:10 says, “Even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.” This Bible verse spoke volumes to me when I heard it in a leadership video recently. I can’t tell you how many times in my life journey that I have felt frustrated, elated, exasperated, overjoyed and even alone. It’s so easy to forget that God really is THERE for us; even in worst and the weirdest of times.

God is there to give you patience and peace for your rough days when even getting out of bed seems impossible. God is there to share your joy when you are celebrating the success of an important business deal going through. God is there to give you strength and assurance when you are cuddling a frightened and fevered child in the doctor’s office. Most of all, God is “even there” giving you love when you’ve given every last ounce of yourself and just can’t possibly muster the energy to do one more thing. “Even there…”

I encourage you to let God be your safe-zone, your recharging station, your sanity saver and your spiritual connection. You will definitely notice that your energy will be renewed and your outlook on life will improve. “Even there” God will strengthen your efforts at home, at work, at play and He will reward your faithfulness.

FIRE!8 Make time to be still this week. Give yourself five extra minutes in the morning before you rush out the door to pause and reflect on how things are going in your life. “Even there” God will meet you and give you energy and ideas for the new day.

Be Excellent!

October 5, 2010

Dare To Dream

READY8 “Never laugh at anyone’s dreams. People who don’t have dreams don’t have much.” ~ Anonymous

AIM8 When was the last time you found yourself daydreaming? Were you dreaming about a vacation, lunchtime, your warm bed at home, a new job or how to enjoy some quiet time? It’s not often that we daydream and then turn those dreams into realities. Why not? Are our dreams too far out of reach? Even if we think our move towards making our dreams come true. Sometimes all it takes is committing our dreams in writing or telling a trusted friend or family member to get the ball rolling. Who knows, once another person knows our dream, she may have contacts or additional information to help us take the next step towards our dream becoming a reality. It’s healthy, therapeutic and life-sustaining for each one of us to have goals and aspirations for our lives. Give yourself permission to find time to dream today. You and your future deserve it!

FIRE!8 Take out a piece of paper and start writing a list of all the things you’d like to do during your lifetime. Identify the ones that you can do immediately, in the next year and farther in the future. Give yourself permission to take the necessary steps to make at least ONE of those dreams a reality in the next year.

Be Excellent!

September 28, 2010


READY8 “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor. For if they fall, one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he has no one to help him up.” ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 NKJV

AIM8 Who remembers how to play the game Charades? It’s the game where you have to act out a word, phrase, or show title without using words in order for your teammates to guess the correct answer. Have you ever felt like your life is just one big charade? You know, you go through life from one experience to the next and after awhile, you are just going through the motions. It’s easy to put your life on autopilot and just let it all cruise on by one day after the next. It’s just as easy to play charades with your emotions. I’m sure we’ve all played this charade card before; you know the one, when someone asks, “How are you today?” and you answer, “Fine!” Are you really fine or is it just a good way to dodge answering the real question at hand? I would venture to guess that many of us have put our lives on autopilot so often that “fine” just becomes an automated response, when the truth of the matter is that we are far from “fine.” So why don’t we answer that question honestly? Perhaps we are in a situation where we just don’t have the time to explain why we aren’t fine. Sometimes, we truly don’t want to open up and be transparent to the person asking the question. More often than not, our life appears just like the lives of those around us and “fine” is as sufficient an answer as any. God doesn’t want us to live life on autopilot. He wants us to do life together and share each other’s burdens. If your life has been stuck on autopilot, or you’ve said you’re fine when realistically you are not, take a stab at being honest with the next person who asks how you are doing. You might be surprised at the advice you’re given or the empathy you’re shown. Remember, life is meant to be enjoyed together so jump in and buckle up! The ride might be bumpy but we’ll share some great stories, make some lasting memories and hopefully arrive at to the finish line together feeling more than “fine.”

FIRE!8 Call or email a friend and ask her how things are going in her life. If she answers “Fine”, be sure to probe for a more definitive answer. She may need to know you care and want to be there for her tough times, or she may need an extra cheerleader to help her celebrate life’s joys.

Be Excellent!

September 21, 2010

Today Is Special

READY8 “Start living now. Stop saving the good china for that special occasion. Stop withholding your love until that special person materializes. Every day you are alive is a special occasion. Every minute, every breath, is a gift from God.” ~ Mary Manin Morrissey

AIM8 How many times have you refrained from wearing an outfit or using the good china because it wasn’t a special occasion? I mean, after all, we only pull out those special items for the holidays or perhaps a milestone anniversary or highbrow event, right? Why? Who told us that the china we received as a wedding gift was only to be displayed in the china hutch or remain packed away in boxes only to be used for Christmas dinner? We get so caught up in the many demands on our lives that every day becomes a challenge where we simply make it through another day. We succumb to repetitive routines and schedules because they are comfortable, familiar and easy to remember. When our lives become mundane, predictable and ultra stressful, how exciting would it be to spend the day looking forward to something special waiting for us at home…just because? We all need a little sunshine and spice in our lives to shake things up. Today really IS just as special as tomorrow, and the next day, and the next day. It shouldn’t take much for you to find something small to get super excited about. Get the picture?

FIRE!8 Make yourself a promise this week: Do at least one special something each day for seven days in a row. Use your fancy china for chicken nuggets and french fries. Wear your favorite perfume or cologne. Watch your wedding or family videos. Put on that lacey piece of lingerie. Take a ride on your motorcycle. Wear one special piece of jewelry. Drink the vintage wine. Play a board game with your children. Eat pizza by candlelight. Slow dance in your living room. Whatever you decide to do, I KNOW, you will be grateful for the opportunity to have a “special occasion” on an ordinary day.

Be Excellent!
Lori Bodkin

September 14, 2010

Go Outside And Play!

READY8 “The human spirit needs places where nature has not been rearranged by the hand of man.” ~Author Unknown

AIM8 Over the weekend, our family spent time outdoors enjoying the beautiful weather. We have a place off the beaten path that’s been in the family for years that has an old barn, an old farm house and is surrounded by a yard, fields and woods with trails where you can run and play. Everyone enjoyed riding 4-wheelers, walking in the woods along the trails and building pretend campfires with sticks and stones. (Unfortunately, it rained and we couldn’t build a real campfire.) It wasn’t until the last few hours before it was time to leave that our children finally realized they could have tons of fun playing outdoor games such as: Hide and Seek, Tag and Swinging Statues. Unfortunately, they had been previously distracted by the modern conveniences of portable video games, DVDs and music players. Technology, while helpful, had captured the young minds of our children and flashy games and catchy beats had become more attractive than simple outdoor play. Once we insisted the electronics be put away, the novelty of finding acorns, hiding behind big trees and running through the crunchy leaves gave way to earfuls of giggles and laughter. It was nostalgic for me to open the house door and holler across the yard, “Dinnertime!” Yes, as a kid, I remember my parents yelling for me to come home for dinner because I was outside playing games with the neighbors or looking for pretty rocks and playing in the creek behind our house. Kids today cannot know and cannot appreciate the outdoors if they aren’t given the opportunity to be outside away from city or suburban life. Sadly, most of children don’t even know what they are missing. Simply going to one of the state or national parks is an excellent way to safely expose your kids to big grassy fields where they can run around, wooded trails to explore and ponds or lakes to fish. It is our responsibility, as adults, to provide opportunities for our children to experience nature in ways that are similar to our childhood. No, they will never see or do the things we did as kids exactly the way we once did. However, if you can unplug yourself and your family long enough to enjoy God’s creations, you will create family memories and instill a love of nature that your children will hopefully appreciate well into adulthood.

FIRE!8 As we enjoy the last few official days of summer, be sure to take advantage of the mild temperatures and climate. Put away your cell phones, computers, and modern conveniences. Recall some of your favorite childhood games, grab your family and go outside and play, already!

Be Excellent!

September 7, 2010

Making Mountains Out Of Molehills

READY8 “One way to get high blood pressure is to go mountain climbing over molehills.” ~Earl Wilson

AIM8 For most of us, we have recognized that “life happens” around us every single day. Some days, we encounter situations that can, and should, simply be shrugged off. However, depending on what kind of attitude you’re carrying, you can take those petty occurrences and blow them completely out of proportion. Don’t you remember your mother telling you not to make mountains out of molehills? The glass of milk that got spilled at the dinner table = a molehill. The driver who cut you off because he was going to miss his exit = a molehill. The mounds of laundry, sink full of dishes and cluttered pile of school papers or unopened mail = a molehill. Your efforts to be a stellar employee being overlooked for a promotion = a molehill. How many times has your attitude made the aforementioned situations major mountains to climb? Makes you want to check your emotional status before reacting to life experiences, huh? If you stop and think about your mountains, in the grand scheme of things, are they life threatening, an emergency or extremely vital to the success or failure of your day to day operations? I know I have days when I need to view life with a little more light-hearted approach. How about you? Next time you experience a situation where you become emotional, ask yourself if it is a simple molehill or worthy to be considered a mountain?

FIRE!8 As you approach life in a more controlled manner this week, frame every so-called disaster with these words ''In five years, will this matter?"

Be Excellent!

August 31, 2010

Life Happens

READY8 “The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.” ~ Tom Bodett

AIM8 You know, sometimes life just happens. Last week, my daughter woke up with extreme leg pain. She didn’t have any accidents, she didn’t have growing pains but yet my non-wussy girl was in tears. Needless to say, day three of the new school year was spent at the pediatrician’s office, getting an x-ray of her leg and resting on the couch. There goes her perfect attendance award! Yep, life happened. The good news is that they think she simply strained her hip and it was treated with ibuprofen, rest and hot baths. Great, it was totally manageable and her condition improved as the week progressed. Unfortunately, a dear friend of mine had a more serious “life happens” moment a few weeks ago. Her son is a senior in high school this year. He is a star athlete and a starter on a high-profile, Division 1 football team in Ohio. During pre-season practice, he was struck during a play by a teammate which resulted in a concussion. After six hours in the emergency room, they were faced with the reality that his football career was most likely over. He had just experienced his third concussion in two years and therefore, for his future health and safety, he was going to have to give up one of the loves of his life: football. Life happened for that young man.

Life happens to all of us every single day. It looks different to each one of us. It could be a flat tire, a bad hair day, a grumpy boss, a bad report from the doctor, an unexpected bill in the mail, a missed promotion; you name it, life looks like many things. However, it’s not so much what truly happens to us, as it is how we respond when life happens to us. When things don’t go your way do you throw a temper tantrum, have a pity party for yourself or scream and shout in anger and frustration? Or, when things don’t go your way do you reflect on the bigger picture, pray for God’s clear direction or cry it out and move on? More than anything, we simply need to understand that life is going to happen to each one of us at some point in our lives. How we handle ourselves may contribute towards the success or failure of the outcome of our experience. Not to mention, others are always observing our behaviors and how we react to the situations we encounter in life. Most of us would choose to respond in a positive manner if we can keep our wits about us and remember we are influencing others with our responses. Let me encourage you to see your challenges as opportunities to grow your character and develop the areas in your life where you are weak. Overcoming your character flaws will allow you to become a stronger individual, to become a better role model and to become a person of excellence. Yep, life just happens, and when it does, I hope you’ll be ready.

FIRE!8 When life happens to you this week, pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Put your life in perspective. More than likely, that brief, silent moment will allow you to keep your response positive and full of hope.

Be Excellent!

August 24, 2010

I Just Don't Want To

READY8 “Today is just a good day in disguise.” ~ Paul Venghaus

AIM8 Ever have a day where you just don’t want to do anything? That’s the day when you need that extra cup of coffee or for the radio to play a song you just have to sing along with in order to get that jump start you’re lacking. If we feel this way on occasion, then why do we question our children about why they “just don’t want to do things?” Truth be told, they are young, impressionable and are still learning what’s right, what’s wrong and what they can get away with in life. As adults, we know what’s right, we know what’s wrong and we know, mostly, what we can and cannot get away with. For children, their parents are their main motivators and the ones who keep them on track and moving ahead. For you, what, or who, is YOUR motivator? If you’re honest with yourself, you know that YOU are your own motivator. You cannot rely on others to keep you moving forward. So, what’s holding you back today? To quote Disney World’s Carousel of Progress attraction, “There’s a great big beautiful tomorrow, shining at the end of every day.” What are YOU waiting for? GO! Seize the day! You are the only one standing in your way, so step aside and look out world! Here you come!

FIRE!8 Put on your big kid pants, grab coffee if you have to, and step head-strong into today! I’m certain that whatever challenge you are predestined to face, or whatever opportunity you are attempting to unfold, you will approach it with enthusiasm, success and a silly victory dance will be in order this evening.

Be Excellent!

August 17, 2010

Am I Invisible, Part 2?

READY8 “Life is short, but there is always time for courtesy." ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

AIM8 Several of our readers responded with enthusiasm regarding last week’s message about cashiers acknowledging your presence in the check-out line. It goes without saying that our observations apply to anyone in a position who deals with the public on a face-to-face basis. Interestingly enough, it was brought to my attention that we must be aware of the other side of the coin. In other words, it’s possible that the cashier, or service employee, may feel invisible if the customer is not attentive.

Surely, when you approach the check-out line in a store, you have your items ready, your payment method is easily accessible and you are giving your full attention to the cashier. In a perfect world, you would have light conversation, all your items would ring up accurately (because you are paying attention) and both the cashier and you would part ways with a joyful farewell. However, it’s not a perfect world, and more often than not, the customer is the cause for a less-than-satisfactory experience. Why, you ask? Two words: cell phones! Oh yes, you know the ones, they insist on talking on their phones while the cashiers or fast food attendants are attempting to repeat orders or give important instructions for payment. Heaven forbid they ask the other party to hold on during their transaction, or better yet, call the other party back after they leave the store. Seriously, is there anything THAT important that it can’t wait an additional 2-5 minutes until you are finished with your business? Even if your phone rings while you are in the middle of a transaction, the person on the other line can leave a message or you can call him back when your business is completed. If there is an emergency situation, the caller will continue to reach you; guaranteed. Choosing to talk on your cell phone sends a loud and clear message to the cashier that you do not care about her enough to give her your full attention for the next few minutes, and now, she is more likely to become irritated and perhaps even, make mistakes. Hmmmm, sounds like an easy decision to make to me. When you are dealing with public employees in any venue, be polite. Use common courtesy and leave your cell phone in your pocket or your purse until you leave the store. All parties involved will be happy with your decision.

FIRE!8 The next time you are at dinner with your family or friends, leave your cell phone in your purse or pocket. Give the important people in your life your full, undivided attention. Resist the urge to text or talk during your visit. Your connection will be so much more meaningful as a result of your courteous choice.

Be Excellent!

August 13, 2010

Am I Invisible?

READY8 "There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." ~ Sam Walton

AIM8 As we walked away from the check-out line, my 10 year-old son commented to me, “Mom, that lady didn’t even say hi to us or tell us good-bye or anything!” Yes, right out of the mouth of one of my babes. The ironic thing about his comment is that his observation is one of my biggest pet peeves – not being recognized by the cashier at the check-out line. Come on, am I invisible?

I have a HUGE awareness about being recognized by my cashier because I WAS a cashier. Being a cashier at a local grocery store was my first real job after I graduated from high school. Funny, I learned early on that if you’re nice to the customers and make them feel good about themselves (and you make a conscious effort to be fast and efficient at your job) your line will always be full and your work shift will be over sooner rather than later. You have a captive moment when it’s only you and the customer, so why not make it positive? Yes, I know, not everyone thinks that way. Unfortunately, it seems the vast majority of the cashiers in this world fail to recognize that they are the face, voice and final marketing seal for their employers. What a huge difference it would make if the cashiers made it their mission to make you feel appreciated for shopping at their store and choosing their line for your final transaction. I seek out cashiers I have had previous excellent service from because I want positive experiences for myself and my family. Nothing gets under my skin more than a couple of cashiers and bag boys, or even assistant managers, carrying on their own personal conversations while I, their valued customer, stand right in front of them listening when they should be conversing with ME…the person that’s contributing to their paychecks!! Again, am I invisible?

Sigh…as I step down off my soapbox, I have to admit, I have made it my personal mission to mentor those uninterested cashiers, even if they don’t realize it. As I approach my turn in the check-out line, I wait to allow the cashier to acknowledge me with a simple “hello” first. If she doesn’t say anything, I promptly say “Hi there!” in an attempt to interact with her while we have our one-on-one time together. If further conversation is warranted, I’ll gladly oblige. You never know what kind of an impact you’re going to make on someone’s day. If she does not announce my final total (indicating the end of our transaction), I will ask for confirmation of my total. Again, asking about the total allows for additional interaction with the cashier; not to mention, gives me a chance to get my payment ready. Finally, with receipt in hand, I pause allowing the cashier to give me a farewell comment. If nothing is said, I simply smile and say “Thank you. Have a great day!” Hopefully, I will at least get a “Thank you.” However, there seems to be a day when even “thank you” is difficult for cashiers to say and that’s where my comment could actually make or break their day. I make it my mission to turn their frown upside down. Plus, it helps keep me in a positive frame of mind instead of focusing on my less-than-stellar check-out experience.

FIRE!8 I challenge you to make it your personal mission to acknowledge your cashier if she does not acknowledge you first. Your positive attitude and simple “Hello” might be the very comment that changes her outlook on life that day; not to mention keeping your own good attitude in check.

Be Excellent!

August 4, 2010

Extra Grace Required

READY8 “So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” ~ Hebrews 4:16 NIV

AIM8 Sometimes you just have to wonder why certain people keep popping up in your life. You know the ones; they don’t necessarily fit the mold as your ideal friends, neighbors or co-workers. I fondly refer to these folks as my EGRs; there is extra grace required!

Grace can be defined many different ways. However, in reference to our folks in question, we’ll define grace as “undeserved love and mercy.” Yes, it’s the same kind of grace God gives us without hesitation day after day. So, if God gives us grace every day, regardless of our mistakes, stumbles, and crazy life choices, then why do we have such a hard time offering grace to those folks in our lives that need it? I truly believe those EGR people keep popping up in our lives because God is giving us the opportunity to give grace back to those who we feel don’t necessarily deserve it, but who may need it to get back on their feet, or even to get through a rough day.

The next time you encounter an EGR person, rethink your response to her actions. You never really know what she is dealing with at home, at work, or personally. Your extra effort and gift of grace may be the very thing that keeps her out of trouble and on the right path in life.

FIRE!8 I challenge you to seek out that one EGR person in your path and show her some grace today. Believe me, it might be uncomfortable at first; however, you will make her feel better about life AND you will feel incredible because you did something amazing that will be a positive example to others.

Be Excellent!

July 26, 2010

The McMerge

READY8 “Courtesy is a small act but it packs a mighty wallop.” ~ Anonymous

AIM8 While on vacation this year, my husband and I encountered a familiar situation that some of us face on a daily basis. It made such an impact on us that we created a new word to describe our experience.

McMerge – the act of swarming the counter area at McDonalds while jockeying for an ordering position during a busy lunch hour (due to the absence of formal line queues)

Oh yes, you’ve McMerged too? There are many other venues where we are forced to McMerge, but I believe McDonalds is by far one of the most chaotic. Thankfully, there are folks who exist that exercise the act of being courteous. We’ll call them the Courteous Crew. However, there are also folks that exist who could care less about being courteous. We’ll call them the Crass Crew. Hopefully, you’ve met a member of the Courteous Crew during your last dining experience. She walks in the door, looks around herself, and lets the others who were present before her order first. Perhaps, while McMerging, you instead encountered a member of the Crass Crew. Oh sure, he recognized you were standing in the counter swarm before he arrived. It didn’t matter; he was in a hurry and chose to ignore you and just pushed forward and stepped right in front of you to order, totally disregarding your presence. McMerging really isn’t difficult and can be done in a friendly and orderly fashion. You must put on your nice hat and, whether you’re in a hurry or not, recognize and acknowledge the people who arrived before you. Smiling at the people around never hurts to help acknowledge your McMerge position in line too. Courtesy is a choice…just like deciding if “…you want fries with that?”

FIRE!8 Be a member of the Courteous Crew! The next time you are at the grocery store and you have a full cart of groceries, let the person behind you check out first. Chances are she will only have an armful of items and your courteous gesture will brighten her day.

Be Excellent!

July 20, 2010

Making Moments Matter

READY8 “You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again.” ~Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762

AIM8 Summertime is full of fun and frolic for most families. Vacations, relaxed routines and no homework assignments allow for opportunities to create lasting memories. How many times have you caught yourself saying how quickly the summer seemed to disappear? All too soon, you’re buying school supplies, new clothes and backpacks, and wishing you would have made more of an effort to enjoy the free time you had with your children. Good News! You can forget about all the ‘woulda, coulda, shouldas’ and begin today to capture those magic moments before your summer slips away.

Need some ideas to spark your creative brain? Here are a few suggestions to get you started so you can make those precious summer moments matter:

1.) Play with squirt guns, water balloons and run through the sprinkler together.
2.) See who can catch the most lightening bugs at dusk.
3.) Lie in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds.
4.) Look for star constellations such as the Big Dipper and watch for shooting stars.
5.) Make the most of a rainy day and have an indoor pizza picnic on the living room floor.
6.) Build blanket tents and make indoor s’mores snack mix. (Graham sticks, mini marshmallows and chocolate chips.)

Whatever you decide to do to make your moments matter, remember, the simplest things make a difference in the lives of your children.

FIRE!8 Let down your guard and be a kid again! Your children will giggle and laugh…and so will you! Enjoy the glorious memories you will make together.

Be Excellent!

July 13, 2010

Speak Kindly

READY8 “Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. Leave the rest to God.” ~ Ronald Reagan

AIM8 Each one of us has the ability to make a difference in the lives of the people around us simply by speaking kind words. It doesn’t take much effort, really. In fact, you can make a difference by speaking three simple words. Need some examples? Try saying a few of the following phrases:

“You are important.”
“I thank you.”
“God bless you.”
“I appreciate you.”
“I forgive you.”
“You are amazing.”
“I understand you.”
“I trust you.”
“You are talented.”
“I accept you.”
“You inspire me.”
“I will help.”
“I believe you.”
“You’re the best.”
“I am sorry.”
“I love you.”

Don’t be a “bubble popper” and stick a negative pin into someone’s enthusiasm balloon if she is excited about her life adventure. Speak kind words and send her self esteem and personal initiative soaring.

FIRE!8 Choose one of the phrases above and speak it to those people in your life who need to hear kind words. You will totally change their day!

Be Excellent!

July 7, 2010

Berm Drivers

READY8 “Perhaps there is only one cardinal sin: impatience. Because of impatience we were driven out of Paradise, because of impatience we cannot return.” ~ W.H. Auden

AIM8 Berm drivers. I know you have seen them in action. It’s the car or truck who, when stuck in traffic on a highway, chooses to drive up the berm alongside the parked traffic to attempt to jump ahead of the jam. Now, you and I both know there is no open space ahead for that vehicle to cram itself into the flow. However, even though what they are doing is illegal, some kind soul always let’s that impatient driver weasel their way into the front of the pack. Ugh, it’s so frustrating! Why can’t he or she just wait in line like the rest of us drivers?

It seems like our whole society is just so impatient with life in general anymore. We gotta have everything right away, this instant or immediately. Emails, text messages and phone calls connect us with others within seconds. At work, of course you needed to meet that important deadline yesterday so you have to overnight your order to get it as a “speedy delivery” to a customer who’s screaming because they can’t wait any longer. Rush, rush rush! Hurry, hurry, hurry! Why have we developed such unrealistic expectations? It’s no wonder we are stressed to the max and collapse on the couch at the end of the day when we finally get a chance to slow down or pass out in bed at night because it’s the only way to turn life off.

Take a breath. Life is too short to constantly be rushing through life that you just let it zoom right past you. When your routines are speeding up, slow down. When you are stuck in traffic or in a long grocery line, enjoy a few moments to simply breathe. Don’t be so quick to get impatient. Those breathing moments are built into our lives for a reason. Be aware, as you go through your day, to recognize the opportunities where you can shift your life into a lower gear…and enjoy the ride.

FIRE!8 Stop and smell the roses. What can you do differently to slow down today? Change the route you drive home from work or lie down in the grass with your children and look for shapes in the clouds. Whatever you do, remember to breathe.

Be Excellent!

July 2, 2010

Proud To Be An American

READY8 “Yet, for all of that the amazing American is still a pretty nice guy. Despite all that he is not, because of all that he is, calling anybody "a real American" is still the highest compliment you can pay.” ~ Unknown

AIM8 I was talking with friends the other day about how our society is suddenly worried about being politically correct. With Independence Day celebrations coming this weekend, it made us wonder Why isn't it politically correct to be an American? anymore. People are so concerned about their heritage, their ancestors, and discovering who they are and where they came from that it distracts from what's important; who they are today. YOU ARE AN AMERICAN!!! Yes, your grandparents or great-great-great uncles and aunts may have come to America from another country, but if you were born here, YOU are an American.

Take a moment to think about why so many people are clamoring to get out of those other countries and into America? Sometimes they even risk death to become American citizens because the United States of America is the land of opportunity. Hey, we are fortunate to live in a democratic society where we are free to choose how we live, who we worship, what jobs we work, how many children we have, what we eat, what we wear and where we go every day. It should be totally COOL to be an American!! And yet, so many Americans whine, cry and complain about this great country where we live. I understand we are enduring hard times as a nation and things are not exactly perfect or the way most of us would want them to be. However, the fact of the matter is this...we all need to stand together and remember, WE ARE AMERICANS!! We live in the country where so many long to become citizens. We live in the country with the biggest and the best armed forces protecting our freedoms. We live in the country where we can come and go as we please. I cannot imagine living anywhere else in the world, nor would I want to even consider that option. God has blessed us all with abundance in this land of opportunity. It's time we decide to be grateful and be proud to be Americans!

FIRE!8 Happy 4th of July!! Take a moment to watch this patriotic video. It will get your blood pumping red, white and blue!!

Be Excellent!

June 15, 2010

Take A Break

READY8 “Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip.” ~Author Unknown

AIM8 Ahh, summer. It’s time to relax our routines and enjoy a much deserved break from our crazy lives. We often hear folks talk about how stressed they are at work and how hectic their family schedules have become, even how the normal pressures of life have burdened them. Each of us needs to learn how to slow down and take a break. Summer vacations must have been created to fulfill that very purpose!

When you take a vacation, the intent is to get away from the responsibilities that crowd your lives. Vacations mean rest, relaxation, and recuperation so you can return to your responsibilities refreshed and re-energized. When God created the world and everything in it, He worked really hard for six days. Even HE took a day to rest after all that effort, toil and mental energy. I mean, can you imagine how He must have agonized over the decisions in creating the platypus…or a mosquito? What about the Grand Canyon, sheesh? Perhaps those were easy decisions, or made with a simple flick of His wrist, but they always make me scratch my head! Anyway, you earn your vacation time at work, you deserve a break, so take it already! More than likely, you will enjoy your rest and will come back a happier employee with a more positive attitude. Even if you cannot take a trip to a tropical paradise, a long weekend away doing something you love provides the same respite. You’re worth it, and you deserve a break today, so have fun enjoying life!

FIRE!8 If you haven’t scheduled a vacation for yourself yet, look at your calendar now and choose a day, a long weekend or a whole week to take a break. Once you’ve finished that step, get excited about what you’re going to do during your time off. Get creative and enjoy yourself!

Be Excellent!

June 1, 2010

New Beginnings

READY8 “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

AIM8 This time of year opens doors for many new beginnings; students are graduating from high school or college, couples are getting married, many people are looking to start new careers or beginning their military training. What new beginnings are happening in your life?

So many of us stay in the same places in our lives because they have become very comfortable places. We like the familiarity of our routines, paychecks, friends and living arrangements. However, God wants so much more for us! He really wants to provide us with a bright future and give us hope for an abundant life. Let’s face it; we are all cowards when we are standing at the starting line of a new endeavor. It’s taking that first uncertain step that will push us ahead to victory. Come on, what are you waiting for? No matter what new beginning you are facing, be it HUGE or small, let’s run this race together. With God as your coach pushing you along and your friends as your personal cheerleaders, you can’t help but win! I believe you can do anything you really want to do in life. All you have to do is dream it, accept it, and believe you can do it.

FIRE!8 Make a goal poster of the things you want to accomplish during your lifetime. Cut out pictures of your dream house, your ideal job, your favorite vacation spots or that outfit you really want. Add motivating words, such as “Just Do It”, or Bible verses, like “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13, to remind you that your goals are attainable. Put your poster in a place where you see it frequently to keep you encouraged and focused on moving forward.

Be Excellent!

May 26, 2010

A Refill Please

READY8 “When life gives you lemons, find a kid with a paper cut!” (OUCH!) ~ Anonymous

AIM8 Last week I shared my story of how I made lemonade out of the sour weather lemons I endured during my daughter’s zoo field trip. My “Fire!” challenge was for you to share your thoughts about how you make lemonade out of life’s lemons. As promised, I am sharing your thoughts in this week’s Arrows of Integrity and on my blog. Perhaps this refill of encouragement will inspire you to make excellent decisions.

Krystal shared – “LOL!!!! FYI--we "drank lemonade" at the Pizza Hut buffet that day.”

Julia shared – “That's my favorite AOI yet. Good one. I totally agree with you on letting those kiddos play and let loose (despite our grownup desires to be somewhere else!) Those are memories that didn't cost a penny and tell your children that their youth and silliness are not an inconvenience, in fact, their childhood is worth more than all the money in the world.”

Laurie shared – “I agree! I said to the other teachers "The kids got out of it what the parents put into it". If you went out and had fun, your child had fun too! My group had a great time. I have never seen Logan so excited or talk so much. That made my day. Thanks for sticking it out with us and supporting the teachers and kids!”

Dot shared - I really liked your "Lemons or Lemonade" article. While reading it I decided that I am a "Lemonade" sort of person. Sure, I have my problems but, hey, what good does it do me or anyone else really, to complain and moan and compare problems with others? There is a saying, and no I do not know where it came from, that I constantly remind myself of "If you don't laugh you will cry" and why spend your life crying? Better to go out and buy some sugar to make that lemonade. It will help you and those around you feel a lot better. (I get the feeling that God kind of likes Lemonade also.)

Anonymous shared – “I say we all just get together, bring salt, tequila, the lemons and have a margarita party!”

Thank you to everyone who shared their “lemonade” insights. Life is tough, let’s take those lemons and squirt life in the eye together!!

FIRE!8 The next time you find yourself in an unsatisfactory situation, pause, look at all the options and choose the high road. I’m certain there will be a lemonade stand along the way!

Be Excellent!

May 18, 2010

Lemons or Lemonade

READY8 “When life hands you lemons, make lemonade then give it to your enemies cause it will taste nasty unless life gave you sugar too." ~ Anonymous

AIM8 Yesterday was a glorious day…ok, where’s that sarcasm font? Truthfully, yesterday started out to be an interesting day; I volunteered to be a chaperone at the zoo for my daughter’s last-day-of-kindergarten field trip. Needless to say, it started raining before the trip even began. So here we are, several anxious parents gathered underneath our over-sized umbrellas, with extra umbrellas and ponchos in hand, waiting to get our chaperone assignments. Finally, the children were sent to their respective parents and we were on our way to ‘enjoy the zoo’ in the rain. Seriously?! Why didn’t I bring rain boots or galoshes for myself and my daughter? Oh, that’s because I never bought rain boots or galoshes because how often do you really need those useless foot coverings? Ordinarily, on days like yesterday, the answer to going to the zoo would have been a big, fat NO WAY JOSE! So, I put on my best “I’m going to enjoy this experience” smile and off we went, umbrellas in hand. Truthfully, the first part of our journey was manageable. I even thought, for a moment, that it wasn’t too bad after all. Yeah, I thought too soon. As we continued around the zoo, the rain started coming down harder and harder. Yes, the puddles became like land mines in our paths and the animals looked about as excited as we were to be out in this inclement weather. And yet, we trudged on, smiles on faces, umbrellas in hand, shoes and socks getting more soaked with each step. We finally arrived back at the entrance to the zoo, and headed to the pavilion to enjoy our brown bag lunches. As we munched on our lunch treats, I realized that more than three-fourths of the parents and students had bailed on this glorious adventure. What a bummer for their kids! I mean, how often do you really let your children play in the rain? How many times are they going to have an end-of-the-kindergarten-year field trip and lunch at the zoo? I found my attitude turning around and realized that I was proud of myself and the other hard-core parents who stuck it out and endured the rainy adventure at the zoo. Yesterday is a day we and our children will remember for many years. We will talk and share endless stories about the day we walked in the rain at the zoo. All in all, I took many fun pictures of my daughter and her friends laughing and having a great time with their umbrellas and puddle-soaked shoes. I must admit, I may have not felt like making lemonade out of the lemons we were handed at the beginning of the field trip. However, I am so thankful that I checked my sourpuss attitude at the door and had a fun adventure anyway.

FIRE!8 When life hands you lemons, what do you do? Do you wallow in self pity and despair or do you set up a lemonade stand? Share your thoughts and I’ll post ‘em on my blog.

Be Excellent!

May 11, 2010

Lighten Up

READY8 “Everyone has a photographic memory. Some just don't have film!" ~ Anonymous

AIM8 Sometimes life just gets too serious. Either that or we take ourselves and our lives too seriously. Regardless of the situation, every now and then you just have to lighten up. Come on, laugh a little, shrug off the junky stuff and look at the brighter side of life. Here are a few random thoughts that were shared with me by a good friend. I’m sure you’ll be able to relate to a few of these observations. I know I can totally relate to most of them!

Random Thoughts for the Day:

1. I think part of a best friend's job should be to immediately clear your computer history if you die.

2. Nothing stinks more than that moment during an argument when you realize you're wrong.
3. I totally take back all those times I didn't want to nap when I was younger.

4. There is great need for a sarcasm font.

5. How in the world are you supposed to fold a fitted sheet?

6. Was learning cursive really necessary?

7. Map Quest really needs to start their directions on #5. I'm pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.

8. I can't remember the last time I wasn't at least kind of tired.

9. You never know when it will strike, but there comes a moment at work when you know that you just aren't going to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

10. Can we all just agree to ignore whatever comes after Blue Ray? I don't want to have to restart my collection...again.

11. I'm always slightly terrified when I exit out of Word and it asks me if I want to save any changes to my ten-page research paper that I swear I did not make any changes to.

12. "Do not machine wash or tumble dry" means I will never wash this -- EVER!!!

13. I hate when I just miss a call by the last ring (Hello? Hello?), but when I immediately call back, it rings nine times and goes to voicemail. What'd you do after I didn't answer? Drop the phone and run away?

14. I hate leaving my house confident and looking good and then not seeing anyone of importance the entire day. What a waste.

15. And finally…I keep some people's phone numbers in my phone, just so I know not to answer when they call.

FIRE!8 What can you do to lighten up the mood of a friend? I suggest printing out Map Quest directions from work to home and ask a co-worker how you get from number 1 to number 5; which is out of the company parking lot!!

Be Excellent!

May 4, 2010


READY8 “Insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” ~ Albert Einstein

AIM8 Are you stuck in a rut? Do you find yourself doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result because it’s a different day? What’s wrong? What’s keeping you in this rut? Whether it’s a dead-end job, a disappointing relationship, a financial crisis, or just an emotional funk, you HAVE to start doing something different to change your circumstances. “But Lori,” you say, “You just don’t understand my situation. I don’t even know where to begin.” Well friend, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step. However, that first step is often the most difficult. Perhaps Kris Kringle from Santa Claus Is Coming to Town says it best: “Put one foot in front of the other. And soon you’ll be walking across the floor—orr—orr. Put one foot in front of the other. And soon you’ll be walking out the door!” It’s true! You have to take the first step in a new direction to ignite the spark that will lead you out of your rut. Get angry, get irritated, get annoyed, get sick and tired of being sick and tired – just get going! You’ll be surprised at how much better you’ll feel about yourself, your circumstances and your future. So come on, what are you waiting for?

FIRE!8 Stop the insanity! Make a promise to yourself that you will do at least ONE THING to change your circumstances today. Maybe you need to update your resume, or evaluate your family budget or maybe, you just need to talk to a supportive friend. Whatever you need to do, make today the day you stop living in your rut and start living for your future.

Be Excellent!

April 29, 2010

Capture A Moment

READY8 “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.” ~ Eckhart Tolle

AIM8 I feel like sooner or later I’m going to catch myself not knowing if I’m coming or going, or doing them at the same time. I realized yesterday afternoon that I didn’t get my weekly Arrows message out to your inboxes in a timely manner. However, I just had to stop and catch my breath and capture a few moments of life. So last night, instead of doing things on my perpetually long to-do list, I enjoyed time with my children. Occasionally, I’ll treat the kids to a pizza picnic and tonight seemed like the perfect night. They got home from school, did their homework and we promptly left to pick up a pizza. Once back home, the kids spread a blanket out on the living room floor and we ate pizza while watching a family movie together. Truly, our pizza picnics have been wonderful ways to capture a few extra moments with my children. I make sure to put away all of my other activities and I don’t multi-task when we’re together. We hang out, laugh, cuddle and just enjoy the evening without interruptions. What a refreshing break from my crazy, hectic, too-many-things-to-do life. So that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

FIRE!8 When life gets crazy and you catch yourself coming and going simultaneously, what do you do to slow down and capture a moment? If nothing else, take a hot bath. Perhaps Calgon can help take you away!

Be Excellent!

April 21, 2010


READY8 “Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend's eye.” ~ Matthew 7:5 NLT

AIM8 Is it just me, or does it seem like everyone is quick to criticize others and slow to compliment them? Life can be pretty depressing if we really sit down and look at everything we, as humans, are faced with on a day to day basis. Most folks struggle to find the right balance between going to church, working hard at their job, spending time with their family, volunteering for organizations, finding time for themselves and the countless other things that pull them in a thousand directions. Sadly, even when life appears to be in order, someone always comes along and points out our faults, inadequacies and failures. Why is that? No one is perfect. However, for some people, it’s so much easier to criticize the behaviors and actions of someone else rather than to speak words of praise over her. Does it really make you feel better about yourself to point out another’s flaws? If you are being honest, I hardly believe so.

Can you imagine what our world would look and feel like if people were kind to each other and spoke words of love and praise about each other? Who really cares if a little item was overlooked or forgotten? Did that person make a positive difference with her endeavors? Then have the courage to tell her! Simple words of encouragement are what turns around sour attitudes and changes negative behaviors. The smiles of acceptance and hugs of support will lift people up and carry them forward.

Friends, have you been criticizing in places where you should be praising others? Perhaps, we should first examine our own lives and actions to be sure our motives are genuine and our actions pure, before we speak out of turn. In these trying times, when it may feel like our very nation is crumbling around us, we need to spend more time building each other up, not tearing each other down.

FIRE!8 The next time you feel the urge to complain about someone or how she is performing an action, bite your tongue. Just pause, think about what you were going to say, and find something positive to compliment instead of making a critical remark.

Be Excellent!

April 13, 2010

Just Do It!

READY8 “You can’t move forward if you keep looking back to where you’ve been.” ~ Bob Bodkin

AIM8 Are you at a crossroad in your life and don’t know which way to turn? Have you felt stagnant? Like you know there’s something bigger and better you should be doing with your time. Perhaps you were offered an exciting job promotion, but it’s for a new area that is unfamiliar to you. Maybe you are in an unhealthy relationship and you know it would be best for you to step out. My friend, you cannot move forward in life if you keep looking back to where you’ve been. Yes, the things you’ve experienced in life help shape your character and assist you in making future decisions. However, if you hover in the shadows of your past, you will never get to experience the sunshine and abundance that come with your first step in a new direction. You know what they say, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” So, what are you waiting for? Just do it! Do you need trumpets to blow or banners to be raised with the answers to the questions about your uncertain situation? Well, consider me the instrument to give you the nudge you need to take that step in the right direction.

I know that your new decision may come with some growing pains, learning curves or uncomfortable circumstances. However, YOU know that you haven’t gotten this far in life by always taking the easy road. You have gone through difficult times, made tough choices and put forth hard work to get to where you are right now. Challenges, schmallenges – you can do it! Whatever crossroad you’re facing today, know that you have the courage to face every obstacle and turn it into an opportunity for success. Oh, and by the way, I believe in you…even if no one else does. Now, you need to believe you can do this.

FIRE!8 Trust. Have faith. Believe. You were born to succeed! Now…go do this thing!

Be Excellent!

April 6, 2010

Go Ahead, Laugh!

READY8 “Laughter is the best medicine” ~ Author Unknown

AIM8 Some days are better than others, agreed? On those yucky days, give yourself a boost by laughing. The act of laughing releases serotonin, increases endorphins and improves the human immune system. See, you will physically feel better after enjoying a good chuckle. So, what do you have to lose? Go ahead, laugh!

A Minnesota couple decided to vacation to Florida during the winter. They planned to stay at the very same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier. Because of hectic schedules, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules. So, the husband left Minnesota and flew to Florida on Thursday. His wife would fly down the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel. There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an e-mail to his wife. However, he accidentally left out one letter in her e-mail address, and without realizing his error, he sent the e-mail.

Meanwhile.....somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband's funeral. He was a minister of many years who was called home to glory following a sudden heart attack. The widow decided to check her e-mail, expecting messages from relatives and friends. After reading the first message, she fainted.

The widow's son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, and saw the computer screen which read:

To: My Loving Wife
Subject: I've Arrived
Date: 16 May 2003
I know you're surprised to hear from me. They have computers here now and you are allowed to send e-mails to your loved ones. I've just arrived and have been checked in. I see that everything has been prepared for your arrival tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing you then! Hope your journey is not as uneventful as mine was.
P.S. Sure is hot down here!

FIRE!8 Read the comics in the newspaper, search for an online joke website or recall a funny memory. Do yourself a favor and find a reason to laugh and feel good today. :-)

March 31, 2010

God's Gift

READY8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” ~ Ephesians 2:8

AIM8 Good news - spring is here! Woo Hoo! The sun is shining, the snow has melted and everyone seems to be in a much better mood. Finally, we are able to get out of the house and enjoy the fresh air again.

It’s funny, when people are asked, “What is your favorite season?” It’s rare to see spring as one of the answers. However, I have to admit, spring really IS a wonderful season. After winter, all the plants and trees are dormant, the grass is brown and everything looks dead and drab. Thankfully, God works behind the scenes and gives new life to all living things. As we look around we witness flowers starting to bloom, trees growing buds, and the grass becoming greener.

Take a deep breath. Ahhh, the smell of a fresh spring day; it’s invigorating isn’t it? There’s something about spring that flips the switch inside of us and sparks a renewed energy and increased motivation as we go about our daily life. It’s almost as if God recharged our batteries and handed us a new life too. Guess what? God really DOES offer us a new life. Every Easter, we are blessed with the reminder of the opportunity God provides us to have not only a new life, but also an eternal life with Him in heaven. How amazing is that? He sent his only son, Jesus, to die on the cross, to save all of us from our faults and mistakes in life, only to give us life everlasting. Wow, that hardly seems fair! Fair or not, it’s exactly what God wanted. He wanted to give us a gift that would last forever…but only if you want to receive His gift. As spring comes, it will fade into the other seasons and the life cycle will continue. However, God is the same today, tomorrow and forever. He never fades. He never changes and always waits to give us His love, His friendship and His eternal gifts. If you have never taken the step to receive this amazing gift from God, do yourself a favor and talk to one of your friends about this special gift. Perhaps you have a friend who doesn’t know about the gift of Jesus. No problem! Simply connect with a mentor, a Christian friend or a family member who regularly attends church. I just know any one of those folks would LOVE to share the gift of Jesus with you. Truly, it’s a gift you never want to pass up and all you have to do is accept it and say, “Thank you.” So, treat yourself to a new gift this spring or renew yourself again with the gift that keeps on giving all year long, far after the snow has melted… God’s love.

FIRE!8 Some of you feel that quiet voice nudging you to accept God’s lavish gift. Some of you have been enjoying God’s wonderful gift for years. Some of you may believe in other gods or other religious ideals, but are intrigued by this amazing gift. God knows your heart and is not so concerned with your words as He is with the attitude of your heart. Praying is simply talking to God and believing what you are saying.

If you want to accept God’s priceless gift, you can pray, in your own heart and mind, the following prayer:

“Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. Please forgive my sins and give me the gift of eternal life. I ask you to come into my life and heart to be my Lord and Savior. Amen.”

Yay, you! Now, share your good news with a friend (or me) so he can continue to encourage you and support your decision.

Happy Easter, Dear Friends. What a glorious time of year!

Be Excellent!