I’ll Hold The Umbrella

I’ll Hold The Umbrella

Tennis is a fascinating sport.  I seldom watch it at home but ironically it is the one thing I leave on the hotel TV when traveling.  I love watching all the court staff, ball boys/girls, and referees that surround the 2 marquee players in any given match.  There is so much going on before and after ever set in order to maintain order, etiquette, and minimize downtime between serves.

In 2014, there was a rain delay in the first-round match at the 2014 French Open that lasted for just over 10 minutes.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  But what happened in those 10 minutes is something that any leader, aspiring leader, husband, wife, or friend can learn from.  One of the world’s best, Novak Djokovic, sat down to tend to his gear while the ball boy silently held an umbrella over Novak’s head to keep him dry.  Without hesitation, Novak broke from typical tradition by inviting the boy to sit with him and reversed roles by holding the umbrella for him.  The boy’s countenance immediately changed, and his elation could no doubt be seen in the farthest seats of the arena.  Small, private discussions continued as Novak handed over his racket and a water bottle from his bag.  The investment made in that boy will be felt for his lifetime.  It’s a story he’ll never stop telling.  In that moment, the leader, the global icon, and arguably one of the most powerful people in that arena took on the role of a servant.  He held the umbrella.

I’ve listened to business executives say that they’ll take hire candidates out to dinner in order to solely watch their interactions with the restaurant staff and servers.  How we treat the people around us says a lot about our character.  Have you paused recently to look around at all the people who are holding the umbrella for you?  For me, it’s my wife… first and foremost.  There are so many things (both visible and invisible) that she does on a daily basis in order to remove barriers and distractions so i can accomplish my goals.  My boss.  He holds an umbrella for me and my teammates while simultaneously shielding us from situations and communications that could be stressful and burdensome.  My family, mentors, church leadership, and friends do this as well.  Not to mention the restaurant servers, dry cleaning people, car washers, mechanics, financial advisors, baristas, plumbers, gutter cleaners, law enforcement, teachers, lawn maintenance, trash people, and babysitters that take care of the rain so I can focus on the match ahead of me.

When’s the last time you have held the umbrella?  When’s the last time you’ve done it for your wife?  What a crazy, cool ting to actually serve the person that thought they were serving you.  I make it a priority to look for ways to serve Kate that she is not expecting.  She gives 110% every day to our family, friends, community, and ministry.  It is so rewarding to hold the umbrella for her so she can take a break, sit down, relax, and get a reprieve from her duties.  Jesus said that He didn’t come to be served, but to serve (Matthew 20:28).  This is a value we should embrace daily.

I challenge you to become more aware and to notice the hundreds if not thousands of things done for each of us every single month by people whom we may never know their names or stories.  Make an effort to go out of your way to be appreciative.  And for those individuals who are intimately involved in our daily lives, the onus is even greater to find ways to humble ourselves, and place those people’s interests and needs above our own.  True leadership is modeled by servanthood.  Follower-ship is gained by selflessness and service.  Who are you going to hold the umbrella for this week?

SD

Boredom in Marriage

Boredom in Marriage

As a lifestyle coach and former athlete I am all about efficiency and schedules. But that can get boring real fast. The pain of regiments and disciplines becomes the pain of regrets. It can become so monotonous to do everyday life that one day we wake up and cry from the dullness. Unaware of how we got from burning passion to “Did you feed the dog?”,  we except it as is.

We crawl into the ho-hum of routine and settle in for consistency and average mediocrity.  This does not have to be you.  This is not what you were made for.  This is not the standard you should hold yourself up to. It is not what God considered good when He made man a partner in the Garden. This is not acceptable. 

We were made to be in God’s bigger picture and our marriages are the foundation of that.  Making sure we are focusing on developing our romantic dreams can keep us excited for creating something extraordinarily above average. Stepping up and raising our standards to live boldly and fearlessly can create immense drive. Despite all this encouragement on dreams and romance, you can still become bored. How? Two things, you’re either living life too fast or too slow. The pace of your marriage is crucial in creating excellence. 

Are you so busy you’re losing your wonder and curiosity for what it could be?  When was the last time you paused just to give a soft kiss? How many times have you promised you’d be somewhere or do something for your wife or kids only to allow situations to derail that commitment?  Sure, there are always exceptions that cannot be avoided (like a flat tire, emergency, or sickness).  I’m not talking about those.  I’m talking about the times you failed to prioritize, failed to watch the clock properly, failed to account for traffic, failed to close the laptop on time, or failed to tell someone else the word “no” rather than your spouse.

Exhausted from the normal speed of our existence we squash out any fire. If you’re so busy and you’re so overwhelmed in your day to day that there is no margin for dreaming, or engaging, you lose all zeal. You only have room for flipping the television on, maybe not even that. You find yourself out of energy to engage in anything. Game night, laughter, special plans for date night, gifts, and deeper conversations have no place because you physically have no band width for thinking of it.

On the flip side of this, perhaps your dreams are so slow at coming to fruition you’ve lost hope of reaching it entirely. Some dreams are life dreams and it’s a long time coming to make them happen.

To wait it out is really hard and very daunting. It’s much harder if your also not focused on smaller dreams during the wait.

When your timeline isn’t God’s, unfilled desires are painful.  

During a particular season where we were at this point we studied Paul, the apostle. Paul, who spent the better part of his last days in prison. He managed to stand fast despite beatings and massive persecution. How could he write such passionate and inspirational things while going through so much pain and so much boredom? Prison, (I am guessing) is very boring. I believe it was because he knew the bigger picture, his purpose, and the part he played. Do you know the part you play in you marriage? Do you know the bigger picture? God said it was not good for man to be alone in the garden. It was the only thing “not good” before the fall of man. We were created for connection with God and our spouse from the very beginning of time. 

For us to get out of bordom and the rutt we decided to create a vision statement that we both could stand on for our relationship. That no matter what, in the up’s, the downs, the storms and the calm, we would hold fast. We didn’t want excess, we wanted excellence. We wanted to continually be Creating Exceptional. We wanted to guard the good deposit that we had been given. (2 Timothy 1:14).

Do you have a vision for your marriage? Is it written down? Do you both take ownership of it?

Psalms 23:7 For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.

Creating Emotional Health in Your Relationship

Creating Emotional Health in Your Relationship

According to Manslow’s hierarchy there are nine top emotional needs that every human being needs in order to manage life well.

The top nine are, security, volition, attention, emotional connection, connection to the community, privacy, a sense of status, a sense of achievement, and meaning.

If we are low in any of these areas we can become depressed, have anxiety,  possible turn to abusive and destructive behaviours and even have strong addictions.

The beautiful thing that My husband and I have had the benefit of living out is that we have found that in relationship you can create peace, joy, and fulfilment in all of these. You just have to know how to do it.

If you are feeling run down and thin in your emotional health here are some ideas that can help create stability and the most effective route back to a beautiful romantic relationship and good mental health.

1. Security:

If you find your need for security isn’t being fully met, make a list to show your significant other what is making your feel insecure. As a team identify action steps you can take to change that. Perhaps you would feel more secure if you equipped your home with burglar alarms or found a solid consistent babysitter for you children. If you need to feel your relationship is more secure, ask why you are feeling fearful that it is not. See if you can create a foundation of security in your relationship for the other person. The reminder that you are for them and always have their back is a comforting reminder to give each other regularly.

2. Volition:

Have a frank conversation with your partner about where you need to have more control or clearer boundaries. Do you need to create boundaries with extended family or with screen time? Do you need to have greater control over bedtime routines and date nights? It’s time to be lovingly assertive about this. Lovingly being the key. If you are more of a peacemaker being assertive can be scary. It can seem confrontational to do this. however, it is more of a discussion if you remember to do it in love. If you are more aggressive the “loving part” can be a reminder to be gracious and gently in your deliver.

3. Attention:

Prioritize quality time with your spouse. And your friends! So often we make it a priority of one or the other of these but you need both for healthy balance. Realizing that your spouse can not meet all of your needs is crucial to emotional health but it is also crucial that they do not take a back seat to friendships and social situations either. Set aside time for it in your calendar. Just because we have these special people in our lives doesn’t mean we are meeting their needs for attention or that they are meeting ours. It takes an alluring effort. I tend to personally see saw in this department a great deal.  I have to make a conscious effort to ensure I am reaching out correctly and evenly in this area. I know the busier my schedule gets the less focused I am of meeting this need for others.

4. Emotional connection:

Make it a priority to make couple friends. Creating a circle where you both have connections can be a bigger ordeal to under take than first looking at it. This one idea however, deepens your relationship in ways you can’t even imagine. You are creating bonds together as you also create bonds outwardly.

What kinds of people do you want to bond with? For us our favorite people are diverse, joy filled, go getter’s and readers. They are health activists, travelers, and Jesus followers. They also prioritize their marriages. Hunt these people down and be diligent in finding your group. Make time for it. Doing life in circles is so beneficial! This is essential nourishment for your emotional well-being.

5. Connection to the wider community:

Arrange a regular coffee/Bible group in your home. Can you mentor someone, volunteer for less fortunate, give into an organization that speaks to your soul? Can you check in on an elderly neighbor, mow a disabled persons yard, read a book to kids at your local school area? Being active in your community and world creates the bigger picture and is crucial to your emotional well-being. For my husband and I, we have even gone a step further by doing these things together.

6. Privacy:

Block out an hour a day, for you. Take a walk, read a book, get in a bubble bath. Mentally refreshing from everything in this world of hustle and business is even greater demand in our emotional wellbeing than  50 years ago. Pace as evolved and so this need as become a top one for most people because there is so much lack for it. If you are using your time to scroll social feeds you’re not giving yourself privacy because you are still engaging in the outside word. They say that the more sensitive you are the more time you need to fully digest the overstimulation of the modern world. mothers and fathers of toddlers and young children are probably the most deficient in this area, because there is very little if any privacy at these stages of parenting.

7. A sense of status:

Where do you see yourself when it comes to your marriage? Are you the first person your spouse goes to or does she call her sister first? Can you be the go-to guy for specific information and a listening ear? Perhaps you can be the captain of a group in your profession or lead the way when it comes to connecting to the wider world. Can the two of you be an inspiration for someone else? What kind of status is your marriage in? Where do you want it to be?

8. A sense of our own competence and achievements:

Make a list of all your achievements—awards, qualifications, languages, promotions, , losing weight, physical therapy after a sports injury, delivering new life into the world, or even all the rough periods you’ve survived as a couple. Remind each other of the skills and strengths that you have. What more can you achieve as team? What new goal can you set? What is the five-year plan?

9. Meaning:

You can choose to find meaning in anything or choose feelings of apathy. You can feel the pleasure of a cup of warm coffee in your hand or sand between your toes or a giggle from your spouse. These moments are as meaningful as you want them to be. But in order to see the you must choose to see them and give them the noted attention that is due to them.

As humans, we seek these nine emotional needs as much as we seek water and light.  Instead of pointing the finger at our upbringing or spending hours analyzing every quirk our spouse has, we can now ask a more valid questions: Which of the emotional needs am I not meeting? What emotional need am I lowest in? 

SEXY

SEXY

We make this so much harder than it needs to be.  We silently suffer through things that could be cleared up very quickly with a few questions or explanations.  Instead we choose to stay silent around our significant other and our group of trusted peers.  Choosing to suffer, to stew, and to be secretive.  Let us not complicate this.  All we need is to ask the real questions on intimacy, even the hard ones.  Going to work at understanding the deeper more unique nature of each other will create the most incredible dynamic. It will give you freedom that you could only imagine about in your wildest dreams.

What I would tell my young married self:

  • You are responsible for you.  Your body is His and He is yours but you are responsible for communicating correctly about it and what you need from the other person.  If he needs something from you He is responsible to tell you.  Trying to anticipate and guess and be in front of it will only wear you both out and leave you unsatisfied.
  • Make your bedroom a haven. So often the bedroom is the last room we decorate, finish and use. It should be the opposite. This is the haven for your marriage. It is the place to escape chores, work, devices, and the outside world. For years, and I mean years, I would haul the laundry baskets into our bedroom. My mistake was realized only after running ragged one day and coming upstairs to rest. There on the bed sat three loads of unfolded laundry. I could not even lie down. I urge you to make this space work for you and your significant other. Let it be soothing, and romantic. There is nothing sexy about piles of laundry and stacks of clutter. I suddenly saw the problem and the solution that day with the laundry. Our room needed to be a place that spoke to us and that encouraged connection. almost over night, I realized our room was the tone for our romantic life. I changed everything. I wanted my husband and I to walk in to our bedroom for the space to breathe life into our relationship. No harsh colors, no clutter or distractions. Everything we had, we had to love. The bed sheets were upgraded, candles were bought, visual space was marked out and no devices became a mandatory rule. I still struggle with the habit of throwing all the clean laundry in the bedroom but I am doing better and it is doing wonders for our marriage and romance.
  • Choose to have a no shame and no blame policy.

    When someone is opening up to you on the topic of anything sexual you do not want to shame and blame them.  By all means we are called to hold each other accountable.  We are all better human beings when we rise up in all of life and we do this unwaveringly.  It just means no condemnation.  In shaming someone, It will create a closed off and painfully negative experience.  They will never approach you again about it, and silently struggle to a dangerous zone.  To be a safe place to land about this struggle is sexy in and of itself.

     

     

    Proverbers 5:19

    May your fountain be blessed,

        and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.

    A loving doe, a graceful deer—

        may her breasts satisfy you always,

What’s Certain About Uncertainty

I read a great article the other day from the Atlanta Business Chronicle called “7 Habits of Amazing Successful Sales People (Terry Brock, Contributing Writer)”and one of the habits seemed to jump off the page at me: Hustle when others hunker down.  When uncertainty or tough times come about (and they always do) the winners and leaders take a different approach than the average person – they jump into hustle mode while others want to stay under the radar and not rock the boat.

We all like certainty and security.  It makes us feel good, relaxed, and less anxious.  Predictability is a good thing and the desire for comfort is fundamental to our human nature!  However, one of the only certain [assured/guaranteed/definite]things in this life is that uncertainty will always be present! The deal fell through, the boss you love has left, family relations took at drastic change, sickness struck without warning, a friend left you hanging, that promise was broken, the money didn’t come in, that trip didn’t happen, that dream won’t be fulfilled.  What do you do in this moment and how do you react when met with hardship and unexpected circumstances?  Do you retreat, let life beat you down, dwell on the negatives, assume the worst, abandon your dreams and aspirations?  Or do you get back on your feet, look at what you can control in your life (emotions, time, energy, thoughts), fight, work hard, keep the right attitude, and determine to move forward?  The latter find a way to use their challenges as a springboard to success. Don’t allow it to crush your spirit or discourage you from using your gifts and talents.  Success can mean a lot of different things to a lot of people – only you can determine what that looks like for you personally.

Those of us who have faith in Christ Jesus know that His ways are above our ways and that we should count it all joy when we fall into various trials.  This doesn’t mean that we should be happy about the hardship… it means that we can get excited about what the trials will produce in us ifwe allow God to work through us.  Just as you go to a gym to workout and literally tear your muscles in order to get stronger, so God allows/uses the trials and uncertainties of this life to build character, perseverance, and spiritual faith.  When we are weak, He will be strong in us.

Don’t take your foot off the accelerator, don’t hunker down, don’t look for an easy way out, don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, and don’t throw away your dream.  Uncertainty is certain, but what you do during those uncertain times will greatly alter the outcome of your life and those around you.

-SJD

http://www.bizjournals.com/atlanta/how-to/marketing/2014/12/7-habits-of-amazingly-successful-salespeople.html

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“Remember who you are” –J. Mingee

 

Productivity

Productivity

“Some days I feel like the internet is 100 versions of “strive for greatness!” and “how she’s killing the game and you can, too!” and “these are the 64863 things successful people do before dawn.”  But how about this: you don’t have to crush or kill or slay anything today. You don’t have to strive or wrangle or hustle or do anything violent today. You can just be a human, in a quiet and honest way and that is good.” – Shauna Neiquest

January is the month of goals. It is also the month of freezing rain, gloom, and darker nights. Very challenging for this florida girl to manage! What I have personally learned thismonyh is the opposite of what many of us are told to do for the first month in the year. I would love to share my insight with you.

Over the summer and the holiday’s this past year I read three books on personal development.  These books gave me incredible clarity when it comes to goal setting and more importantly,  productivity. I wanted to finish out strong for those goals that meant something to me but, somehow I was putting off. I wanted to complete things and to end the year well.

Many of us set goals, aspirations, and healthy ideals yet few of us reach our true potential. Why? I believe after reading these books I have uncovered one of the leading causes of this problem and have been ecstatic to see incredible things happen.

If you would love to read these books, I have placed pictures of each one for your benefit at the bottom of this blog but here are my personal cliff notes and insight. These practices have transformed my January blues and winter hibernation to something extraordinarily valuable.

Book 1 Notes:

I first learned that in order to truly achieve great things you need to rest. And just because you get your 7-9 hours of sleep a night does not mean you are rested. You may still be depleted in your emotional rest or spiritual rest or even relationship rest; which is then making you tired. Reading all of the different areas we need to have rest in was exhausting! To be honest I was less hopeful that I could ever achieve optimal recovery after reading this book but it did remind me that there is more to rest than just sleep. The American culture of hustle, making your dreams happen, and the “be more and do more”mentality is burning us all out. If we focused more on the areas of resting our very souls from striving we would all be in a better place.

Book 2 Notes:

I also learned that watching tv, playing video games, surfing the internet, and even social media scrolling is not considered restful. For our minds do not get a break. Even reading a magazine was more restful and star-gazing and even walking better options from there. Therefore, these activities should be considered non-restful things. They can be classified as fun, and even entertaining but not restful. This was big for me because the average american uses these activities to “rest”, check out, zone out, and decompress. I can’t use this as my downtime and expect my mind and body to be restored.

Book 3 Notes:

It might seem weird that I read books on rest and on high performance at the same time but they go hand in hand actually. Rest play’s a vital role on productity and motivation. If your not resed your not able to be diciplined enough in life to make it really count. What I know to be true, when it comes to productivity, is that the silent killer is focusing on what you don’t like. These are the complaining master minds of our world. You know what I’m talking about too. The silent complainers and the obnoxious Debbie downers that no matter how great things are they can find what went wrong. And we all have been both of these people at some point or another. Instead of that, instead of complaining, the experts were saying to focus on what you like. Then go and do more of that!

So instead of fighting the winter hibernation effect and the feelings of exhaustion that surround me in January and February, what if I embraced it? What if instead of pushing back against it I learned the rhythms God has placed on this world and I followed suit. How would it look if I learned to rest correctly and completely. To do this without guilt of falling behind or of being lazy.

This month I have not put a deadline on my “book reading” but instead pulled out a childhood set I loved.  No deadline in sight. I haven’t put a deadline on my health, but instead gone on longer walks. I have watched more tv but I have not called it “down time”. I have reminded myself of what I love and have chosen to do more of it. Bubble baths, hot tea, snuggling with my children, a new eye cream, an awesome music mix, and even staying up late just hanging with my husband.  The best part of this is learning to be grateful, and enjoy it fully. No more complaining, or guilt of what I haven’t done this month.

Releasing your role as CEO of doing it all, making it happen, and that it is “never enough” is freeing and a giant exhale that we should take in life. I am not saying go home, raise your hands and say, “God’s going to provide while I watch Netflix” but I am saying run your role and don’t over step it. Average people work too much, are depleted, depressed, and bone dry. Average people complain and never know peace. You and I are capable and even called to be at rest. To choose exceptional rest in Jesus. To see how precious it all is, and to enjoy life to the fullest, is our blessing. This can free you from guilt, from expectations, and from winter exhaustion. Take your vacations, take your snow days, say “no” to all the fluff, do more of what you love, and appreciate your now.

– What do you need to release today when it comes to your life?

– Are you striving to much? Why?

– Do you need to put boundaries in place for you to cultivate rest? What are they?

– Do you need to replace restorative rest over laziness in your life?

– Do you need to trust God more with your future?

– Do you need to change jobs? Change your circle? Change your mindset? Make something simpler?

– What is something you can do to clarify your vision for yourself?

– What is one thing you can do to cultivate rest in your life right now?

 

 

Improve Your Relationship Instantly

Improve Your Relationship Instantly

As I lifestyle coach and excellence motivator, I am often asked for the quick fix when it comes to a number of issues and situations. Often I don’t have it. Almost everything in life takes small steps and time to create waves and impact. Very few people can see instant results and massive accomplishment just by shifting one thing. In other words You have to work at it and do it often to see the benefits. Just like exercise, You won’t see muscle and a healthy heart just by doing one workout (although the benefits are there in one session, it is hard to see it until you have done the routine for a while).

In a world that we call the “microwave generation” it is a hard reality to hear. Who doesn’t want instant and easy results? Often times it can be daunting for us to wait it out and to see the fruit of our labors.

When it comes to certain things, I do have to have a short list for my clients on making your life better – instantly. These are things that are tried and true.

For example: You want more energy?

  1. Drink more water
  2. Get to bed earlier
  3. Hire a babysitter
  4. Schedule a massage

Most of the time people know what they should be doing. However, hearing someone speak it, motivates us to continue to jump all in. So today, I am giving you my list. The top things that will transform your relationship to a better place.  The very things that we do that creates instant energy, joy, and connection in our marriage.

Date – Go on a date. Not just any date. You must go and do something you’ve never done before. So often as time goes on date night becomes either none existent or it becomes the same old, same old. Spice it up. Cooking class, mountain biking, drive in movie theater, painting class. You can’t just go to dinner or the regular dive bar you always go to. You must be creative. This has everything to do with your romance. Let the sparks fly!

  • Place – Pick your next vacation. The destination that you want to go on together. Dream it up and talk about it. What do you want to see, experience and accomplish. This as everything to do with being in and on an adventure together.

 

  • Position – Well this is pretty self-explanatory but once again try to get out of the rut and have fun. People in general don’t dream enough as a team, when it comes to their sex lives. So often these things are kept quiet and then the frustrations come out on the golf course with buddies, or at the nail salon with the girls. I am shocked at how many times I ask a person who is venting about their desires in this area and often they haven’t talked about it to their significant other at all! This is not a bashing time about what is not being met in this area but a brainstorming time as a unit of what you want. It is super fun!! Don’t forget to then implement what you’ve talked about and agreed on. This focus point has everything to do with your intimacy.

 

  • Goal – Don’t pick 37 goals and don’t pick a personal goal. Pick one goal as a team that you are going to work on as a team.
    • You want to pay the house off earlier?
    • Do you want to start a company together?
    • Do you want to run a marathon as a team?

Pick one thing that you can do together. This has everything to do with your purpose as a team and reminding yourself that two really are better than one. (Ecclesiastes 2)

You can accomplish so much more as a team. Steve and I have said it for years and years and it is not a new phrase but, it bears repeating.

“We make each other the best versions of ourselves.”