Day 15- Bonus Spoke!

Photo from April 2019, taken at the Achieve Plant City Wine Tasting, raising funds to help empower families with literacy

Day: 15

Spoke: Bonus (Philanthropy)

Habit: Aligning Strengths and Service

The Ziglar Wheel of Life has 7 spokes. Over the last two weeks I have written about habits in my life I’ve created for each of these spokes. However, following Michael Hyatt’s Living Forward book, I realized I have an eighth spoke that when neglected, my wheel doesn’t spin. That spoke is philanthropy.

I have had seasons of my life where I turned everything inward and just focused on my personal well being, my family and my career. During those times I felt a void that I couldn’t define. Eventually, I realized that in order for me to thrive, I needed to be actively giving back in my community.

Having community is an essential part of life. Whether you find your community through church, organizations, a club, a sport, a hobby or something else, we have an innate desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves. Over the years, I have been involved in many different communities and filled my calendar with saying yes to anything someone asked me to do that I had a skill set to help…until I reached total burn out.

What I learned was that if I am going to give back to my community, it needs to be on my terms. I needed to find sustainable ways to contribute that were going to fit my family’s needs, my work schedule, and catered to my strengths. My top 5 strengths (using results from the Strengths Finder test) are Activator, Arranger, Connectedness, Futuristic, and Strategic. Ya know how some people despise meetings and just want to get to the front line and get the work done? Yeah, not me. Haha! I love the meetings. My brain is constantly spinning with ideas of how to make the future better. I love figuring out how to get the right people in the room together to make it happen.

So, let’s apply that to the non-profit space. I’ll use a hypothetical example. Rather than volunteering for a shift to work in a soup kitchen, my hour of time will benefit the homeless 100-fold if I use it to sit in a room and discuss ideas of how to make sure the organization is still here serving soup and growing in 5 years, making valuable connections in the community to help get resources, and brainstorming how to make the operations more streamlined. In the past, if someone asked me to help in the soup kitchen on the front line I would say yes because I could. Why not? Anyone could do that and it sounds like a great way to give back. However, just because it’s great doesn’t mean it’s the best place for me.

Over the last few years I have looked for holes in the community that were not being met and used my strengths to fill them. In my previous post on the career spoke I mentioned the strengths finder test. This is another great way to use those results. If you understand your unique abilities then you can not only use them to discover the best fit for you at work, but you can also use it to discover how you can best serve others.

Day 14- Family Spoke: Prioritizing Sundays

Day: 14

Spoke: Family

Habit: Prioritizing Sundays

In our family, Sundays are sacred. You will very rarely see us posting on Instagram with #sundayfunday. In our world, Sundays are for being at home.

We are a family of two full time working parents and small children in full time school and childcare. We have found the rhythm of the week works best when we have one day where we are home. For mom and dad, it’s filled with laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping and meal prepping. For the kids, it’s time to play with their toys and time to be bored.

That last one is actually really important to me. My five year old is allowed to play on her tablet using the approved apps before we wake up (this is how we sleep in) and then it has to be put away for breakfast. That’s it for screen time for the day. We want her to have time to be bored and be forced to get creative. Her defaults are swinging on her swing set, playing in her art station and dressing up to put performances on for us.

Most weeks my husband does the grocery pickup right after breakfast and then cooks two or three large meals that we eat off the rest of the week. On the week days, we pull in the driveway around 5:30, which is also the same time we have to eat dinner to keep the kids on the schedule that works best for their sleep cycles. So for us, dinner is a quick reheating of leftovers.

If we do not prioritize these sacred Sundays, then the rest of the week is chaos. That 5:30 arrival means we are just beginning dinner or possibly having to swing by the grocery store in between work and home. It means we may not have the clean clothes we need for work or school when we go to get ready.

We used to live that way and it was constant stress. Everyday at 4pm the discussion was:

“what are we going to eat for dinner tonight?”

“I don’t know. What do you want?”

“I don’t know. I just want food and a plan.”

“How about ______?”

“No….I was hoping for something healthy. How about _____?”

“We don’t have [insert ingredients] so we can’t make that”

And so on. You get the point. Every. Single. Day. We had this same conversation leaving both of us frustrated.

Fast forward to now, we have that conversation one time. On Saturday evenings. We put in the grocery pick up order and all the meals are set for the week. And because I know someone will ask, no, we can’t find all our ingredients on Wal-Mart pick up so there’s usually another store he has to pop into. When Brandon is gone, I’m not a Wal-Mart fan so I just load the kids into the car and spend a couple hours at Target. It’s more expensive but it’s usually the only place where I can one-stop shop for everything on my list. Ours is next door to a Bulk Nation, which also has a lot of great options.

For years I would fill Sundays with plans and commitments. I saw a blank spot on my calendar and I would say yes and fill it.

Now when I get an invite for something on a Sunday, I get a pit in my stomach, and I try to figure out the best way to politely say no. It’s not that I don’t deeply love the opportunities in front of me, it’s that I know my entire family will pay for it the rest of the week if I say yes.

Are there exceptions? Of course. Just last weekend my husband and I said yes to an invitation that involved us both being gone four hours on a Sunday afternoon. But the yes was very calculated and only chosen because he happened to have a work schedule that would allow him on Monday to do all the things while we were gone. We just had to have enough food and laundry to make it through Sunday night and Monday morning and then we would be reset.

I’m writing this post on a Sunday and he had to work today. I had to navigate through four no’s. It’s the holiday season. There were two Christmas parties, a dear friends birthday celebration, a special event at church, a friend had a baby I want to visit and another friend is in from out of town. I want so badly to say yes to it all. But with Brandon working, I’m the only hope for the family to have food and clothes tomorrow. So here I am, typing up my blog on the couch in my pajamas while the baby naps, and I listen to the background noise of my daughter singing karaoke, the washer refilling, the dryer spinning and the dishwasher rinsing. After my short break on this comfy couch it will be right back to cleaning up the lunch mess and solving small child crises.

Day 13- Career Spoke: Persistent Consistency

With my husband and daughter at the Dec 13, 2019 premiere of Bernie the Dolphin 2, a feature film of which he was the Director of Photography.

Day: 13

Spoke: Career

Habit: Persistent Consistency

In the book Choose to Win, Tom Ziglar talks a lot about PC. But it’s not in the context we’re used to hearing it (politically correct or personal computer), he’s referring to persistent consistency. It’s the secret to success in any spoke on the Wheel of Life. Making the decision that you are going to consistently perform a habit and persist in doing it even when it gets hard.

Early in our relationship my husband and I made the decision that we were going to be dreamers and then fight relentlessly to make them happen. He figured out his dream first, to be a Director of Photography in the feature film industry. About five years after him, I finally figured out my dream was to be a coach. The paths to our dreams for both of us were messy, unpredictable and filled with highs and lows.

I’ve developed a hobby of listening to the stories of successful people who achieved their dreams to discover the common threads. Without fail, there is always the pattern of “I got this idea in my head and had a vision of where I wanted it to go. It turns out it was much harder to make it happen than I realized, but I never let go of my dream. I was determined and I just kept taking the next step to get there. After a few lucky breaks and a thousand obstacles with a couple major failures, I arrived.” You can insert almost anyone’s success story into that template.

As I type this blog post, I am driving down the interstate (in the passenger seat) to a premiere for a movie my husband was the Director of Photography. This morning I did a strategy session with a new client and enrolled her in the 12-week Choose to Win Program. He’s shooting and I am coaching. We did it.

Twelve years guys. Twelve years of persistently showing up every day taking steps to create the life we want so we could both do our dream jobs. We are finally here.

What is your dream? What vision do you have in your future that you’re so committed to you are willing to be persistently consistent in fighting to make it a reality?

Day 12- Personal Spoke- Understanding Self Love

Day: 12

Spoke: Personal 

Habit: Understanding Self-Love

I’m so grateful that self love is getting more and more attention.

The first time I ever heard the concept of putting yourself as a priority above everyone else in your life was by Michael Hyatt in 2011 in his “Creating Your Life Plan” workbook. He discussed the “put on your oxygen mask first so you can then help others” philosophy. At that period in time I wasn’t anywhere on my own priority list. I felt guilty for the 30 minutes it took me to get ready each morning and didn’t know how to make that time more productive. Everyone else’s needs and my work consumed ALL of my time.

After running myself into the ground time and time again, I realized it wasn’t optional, but necessary, for me to figure out how to make myself the top priority in my life, second only to God. Yep. Above the husband and above the kids. A healthy version of mom is much more useful to them then any other scenario. 

I’ve heard multiple people think self care equals making time for facials and manicures. I mean…sure, those are self-care. But those are really low on my life on the most important self care. I can go without those items.

Here are my self-care habits that make it possible for me to stay in a healthy state mentally, physically and spiritually so I can care of others:

Proper sleep 

Scheduled rest time 

A day a week where I don’t leave my house 

Incorporating lots of whole foods, especially veggies, into my day 

Spending time with people who give me life 

Unfollowing accounts on social media that make me feel yucky inside or cause me stress 

Not watching the news 

Waking up before anyone else in the house 

Soaking in the bathtub 


Being involved in organizations that I love

Scheduling regular checks ups with the doctor, chiropractor and dentist

There are so many ways for us to love on ourselves. What do you do?

Day 11- Financial Spoke: Debt is not an Option

Day: 11

Spoke: Financial

Habit: Debt is not an option

I opened my first credit card when I was 18 years old. I was told I needed it to “build my credit.” I went to Best Buy and financed the purchase of a digital camera with all the accessories. I was so proud of myself and felt so adult for making such a wise move. And the habit was created.

Have more month left at the end of the money? Put some stuff on a credit card.

Can’t pay $21,000 cash for the brand new car you want? Take out a 5 year loan.

Don’t have the money for private school college tuition for your husband? Sign here for a student loan.

Want to start a business and can’t afford all the equipment? Borrow some money to get off the ground quicker.

What makes me feel the most stupid about all of it is that when we went totally broke in 2013 due to some bad timing on some business decisions, we moved in with my parents 7 months pregnant because we couldn’t afford rent. When I look back, we COULD have afforded to support ourselves but we had $1,300 per month in minimum payments on debts. I was so afraid of “destroying my credit” that I never once missed a credit card minimum payment, but we couldn’t support our family.

Unfortunately, we didn’t learn the lesson for three more years. We would make progress, pay a bunch of debt down, have an expected expense pop up and throw it on a card. We were using our business credit card for every business transaction so we could “get the points.”

Studies have shown that when you’re putting it on a credit card and not using cash or debit, you spend 12% more money. Emotionally, it doesn’t hurt as badly to let go of the money.

In September 2016 I started listening to the Dave Ramsey podcast. That fall we started using the app and setting a monthly budget together, but I was still so afraid to part with that business credit card. By January, I knew we needed to go “all in” on Dave’s plan. We didn’t have the guts to cut the cards up, but we did take them out of our wallets and hide them in the house. That was January 2017 and we haven’t swiped a credit card since.

We saved up our starter emergency fund and have been cash flowing every unexpected expense since then. We’ve paid cash for two vehicles. Thanks to the monthly budgeting, we’ve have money sitting in the checking account ready to go for most of the home, auto, medical and life expenses that have come up. We just plan better.

Twice in the last year the temptation was there to finance something.

The first was on an airplane. They have a direct flight from where we live to where my in-laws live and I SO DESPERATELY wanted to sign up for the airline credit card and use it for our purchases so I could earn a free flight, but my hubby talked me out of it. The risk was not worth the reward.

And then the second time was when I was researching coaching schools. The two I liked the most were both $18,000, which we didn’t have in savings. I wanted to justify financing them like people do secondary education, but I just heard Dave’s voice. “If you feel stuck with a situation that debt is your only choice then that just means you haven’t researched enough options. There’s always a solution that avoids debt.” I patiently waited and kept researching more schools. Like magic (but I just credit God) the Choose to Win coaching program crossed my path a couple months later and was a MUCH BETTER fit for the type of coaching I wanted to do AND was a price point I could cash flow.

My husband and I have just made the decision as a couple that debt isn’t an option for us.

If you still believe in debt as a way to build wealth, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND the book Everyday Millionaires. You’ll find that being debt free is one of the most common lifestyle choices people have in common that retire with at least a $1 million net worth or greater.

If you’re currently in debt and looking for a way out, I cannot recommend Dave Ramsey highly enough. A few good places to start are his book The Total Money Makeover, his podcast, or his course Financial Peace University.

Wanna hear something funny….everything he teaches goes right back to developing the right habits. Maybe there’s something to this habit thing, huh?

Day 10- Spiritual Spoke: Follow the Peace

Day: 10

Spoke: Spiritual

Habit: Follow the Peace

I’ve written and deleted this post three times. I can’t seem to find the words to explain this experience well, and I think it’s because it doesn’t take many words.

This quote says it all.

When I decided to find my peace and arrange my life in such a way that it’s conducive to maintaining it, I took control of my life. I work really intentionally on the habit to not allow the bad driver on the road, the attitude of another person, or someone’s behavior to rob my peace.

I am responsible for putting together practices and routines that help me maintain my peace. Beyond that, I am just observing others. When I’m tempted to allow someone else’s actions to rob my peace, I try to quickly regroup and reflect on how I can handle this to restore my peace and manage the situation, if taking action is even beneficial.

Day 9- Physical Spoke- Drink More Water

Day: 9

Spoke: Physical

Habit: Water

You’re probably saying “I know…I know…I know…” I need to drink more water. But if we’re going to talk about habits, this is one that cannot be left out.

There’s lots of info out there about how much water to consume. The guideline I use is your body weight in pounds divided by two, in ounces. So, if you weigh 200 lbs, drink 100oz of water per day. And then Floridians add an extra 12oz/day for the high humidity we live in. If you drink anything that is a dehydrator (coffee, alcohol, etc), add more by doubling that drink in ounces of water. Had a grande latte at Starbucks? That’s 16 oz. Add 32 more ounces of water to your regular day’s figure.

Whether this math is backed by tons of science, I haven’t even bothered to look. It’s easy for me to remember and works as a good guideline to help me create the healthy habit of drinking lots of water, which is backed by lots of science.

I started this habit in 2012, so I’ve had several years to watch how my body responds. I have found that this habit plus the sleep is THE GAME CHANGER in how I feel and my weight loss/gain.

A few side effects in my body that came as a result of not enough water:

  • Headaches
  • Chapped lips
  • Light headedness
  • Low energy
  • Weight gain (water retention)
  • Mindless snacking (often times dehydration manifests as the munchies)

Getting enough water in is ALL ABOUT creating the habits to set you up for success. Here a few habits I do without even thinking about it:

  • Carry water with me everywhere I go. Literally, I don’t leave home without my water bottle.
  • Trained myself to make my default response “water” every time someone asks me what I would like to drink. Occasionally I may be in the mood to add something else, but never without doubling the water of whatever the other drink is
  • Having a large glass of water as one of the first things I do when I get out of bed
  • Having a large glass before bed (I mix magnesium into it at night)
  • Have fun with it! I drink my water out of a wine glass to make it feel fancier. I makes me smile, and often times makes other people smile too
  • Adding things to the water if I need. BEWARE of the flavor water options at the grocery store. I downright refuse to put artificial sweeteners in my body and most are loaded in them. I will do liquid stevia drops, and I’ll do fruit as well. If you smoosh the berries a little before putting them in the water, the juices will sweeten your water deliciously. Lemons and limes are obviously very popular for this. And of course, if you’ve spent any amount of time around me, you know I add fizz sticks to my water regularly.

If you’re doing the sleep challenge I wrote about last week, try adding this water challenge to it and see how your body responds. Once I got a taste of the quality of life it offers, I’ve never looked back.

Day 8- Mental Spoke: Podcasting

Day: 8

Spoke: Mental

Habit: Podcasting

In 2016 I discovered podcasting. I had heard of it, but I didn’t realize the value it could add to my life. All I knew was my husband listened to a bunch of podcasts about fantasy football, film and some show his friend put out. He asked me to listen to an episode by his friend, and I didn’t know how. Like a little old lady needing help with her TV remote, he took my phone, opened the purple app that said “Podcasts,” and then showed me how to use the search.

Later that day I started typing my favorite authors into the search, and they all had been making podcasts! For years! Wait, these writers whose work I craved, who I would preorder every single release they put out had information I could have been digesting every week instead of every couple years? Mind. Blown.

I immediately started following my favorite authors. Then I literally sat down with the Wheel of Life. I had some significant discontent in a few of the spokes. I was struggling financially, spiritually and with my health (I was healthy but my weight was a constant yo-yo). I knew that quote “you’re a reflection of the five people you spend the most time with.” I decided I was going to spend a LOT of time with Dave Ramsey, Rob Bell, the Ziglar show and Ashley James (Learn True Health Podcast).

The habit I formed three years ago, that I still practice today, is to fill my mind with as many episodes as I can in down time. Driving five minutes down the road? Click play on a podcast. Washing dishes? Click play. Going on a walk? Click play. Cleaning the bathroom? Click play. Hour long commute each way? Click play.

Hours and hours and hours of allowing these leaders to speak into my life significantly changed me. I began to see the world differently.

Thanks to Dave Ramsey, I saw money in a completely different light. It took me about 8 months to get comfortable with the habits he teaches. Like any new habit, it was awkward for a while. It took lots of energy and effort; now it’s second nature and I don’t think about it.

Thanks to Rob Bell and some other shows I discovered along the way like the Liturgists, I have so much more peace spiritually. I felt so alone for so long. As my relationship with God grew stronger, my relationship with the church broke. I remember listening to some episodes while cleaning after the kids went to bed and something would be said that would bring me to my knees. I would find myself on my kitchen floor in tears, weeping with gratitude that I wasn’t alone anymore and there were thousands of other people having my same experiences, and it was okay. I was looking for a spiritual community locally, but I found it online.

On Learn True Health, Ashley interviews different people every week. I discovered Tricia Nelson with Heal Your Hunger there who helped me cope with my emotional eating habits. I gained lots of wisdom and insight from different naturopaths and experts over the years who helped me develop habits for my family that have been very beneficial for us.

Zig Ziglar always talked about “automobile university.” He was a motivational speaker and fervently believed that you should fill your mind with positivity and education that can help you grow. Hands down, one of the best things I have done for myself is to develop the habit of listening to podcasts that address the areas where I need help.

Day 7- Family Spoke: Respecting Boundaries

Photo by Deanna Hurley Photography

Day: 7

Spoke: Family

Habit: Respecting Boundaries

I could write a whole series of posts on family and boundaries. If you haven’t read the book Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud, it’s a MUST. He discusses relational boundaries, but today I want to discuss time block boundaries.

When I had my first child I chose to work from home so I didn’t have to put her in daycare. Every single day those first three years I weaved all the priorities together at the same time, and it was a hot mess.

By working from home, mostly my cell phone, I was always “on” for everyone. Small children have constant demands. I was working and living in a house that needed constant cleaning and picking up. And then I had the pressure and nagging feeling over me as a constant dark cloud of all the work-related things I should be doing that I couldn’t get to.

I was stressed and my body showed it.

My hips started hurting and it kept getting worse. I couldn’t figure out why until I went to a Japanese Acupressurist who completely cleared it up in one session, after a year of struggle for me.

I was carrying guilt and it was storing in my body. When I was playing with my daughter I felt guilty I should have been working. When I was working I felt guilty I wasn’t spending time with my family or cleaning. I was never present in the moment. I was constantly focusing on what else I “should” be doing.

The magical shift for me happened when I got childcare help. I was able to time block my entire life. This is my window to work. This is my window to do chores. This is my window to sit on the couch and do nothing. Sometimes they may bleed into each other a little bit, like I choose to answer a work text while at home, but I work very intentionally at keeping my time block boundaries as firm and consistent as I can.

Time blocking my life has been so beneficial because every time my mind starts to drift to something else that still isn’t getting done I can turn the chatter off in my mind and just say “I’ll get to that on Saturday morning, until then it will have to wait because these things are the current priority.”

Do you ever struggle with being present in the current moment? Do the never ending to-do lists overwhelm you? Have you ever tried time blocking?

Day 6- Career Spoke: Knowing Your Strengths

Day: 6

Spoke: Career

Habit: Knowing Your Strengths

The average American spends more of their time at work than anywhere else, and yet the statistics tell us that (depending which report you read) somewhere around only 15% of Americans love their job. This breaks my heart.

I know that pain. I’ve lived that pain. What I found was the best medicine was to get to know myself better. The more we understand ourselves, the more we know where we could best thrive.

A few years ago a friend highly recommended the Strengths Finder test to me, and I decided to invest in it. When I read my top five strengths I had two very different reactions.

The first was reassurance. I knew those talents and gifts were inside of me, and it was so encouraging to see words on a paper that told me I wasn’t making it up.

The second reaction was sadness. I read the strengths and realized I was currently in a role that left about 60% of those strengths on the table. I was using some of them, so I wasn’t a fish out of water, but I was not fulfilled.

Understanding my strengths gave me the courage to start looking for new opportunities. I wanted to use my gifts and talents to make my community better. It surprised many people when I walked away from seven years of entrepreneurship into a full time, M-F office job. I felt completely at peace because what I saw was an opportunity to get paid to use most of my strengths on a daily basis.

I was only two weeks into my full time position when I felt like I needed to pinch myself. I said to my boss multiple times “I get PAID to do this?!?!?” I was having so much fun and making an income at the same time. Many people would not love my job. It’s a combination of details and high level thinking, while managing a thousand hats and bouncing from one project to the next, often times in the same hour. My brain was wired for this type of work and it feels like a square peg in a square hole.

I believe the small investment of around $20 is worth it to find out what your strengths are. Once you’re empowered with that information, you can seek out opportunities that will help you use those strengths on a daily basis. It may mean looking for a new opportunity like mine did, or it may mean staying exactly where you are but experimenting wearing some different hats at the same company.

Creating the habit to always seek out opportunities that will utilize your strengths will greatly increase your overall satisfaction and fulfillment in life. If you are one of those people dreading the alarm clock every morning because your job feels like dying a slow death, stop. Just stop. Re-evaluate yourself. Learn a little about where you can thrive. Begin to seek out a career path or a specific company that will help you become the greatest version of yourself. You are worthy of a job you love.