3 ways to find clarity amid life’s chaos

First of all, let me offer a big “Helloooooooooo!” I am finally back home after eight long weeks of military training and I am so excited to reconnect with all of you and return to DIYing and blogging.

AMS graduation

Can you spot me in this picture? (Courtesy photo)

Stepping away from regular life for such an extended period of time has given me the rare opportunity to gain perspective about what really matters and what my priorities should be.

Today, I thought I’d share with you three ways I’ve found clarity through my experience and how I’m trying (yes, this is a lesson I re-learn every day) to make choices that will give me more peace and joy despite the struggles that come with a jam-packed life.

1. Embrace your insignificance. I confess that, as a wife and mom, I often have this notion that the whole world rests on my shoulders. It is my daily duty to feed and care for, clean up after, make happy, and instruct and correct all members of my family (spouse included). I guess I believe that, without me, nothing would get done … or get done right anyway. Admittedly, operating from the premise that all decisions should begin and end with me is an incredibly narcissistic – and anxious – way to live. And it can be really annoying for those who live with me. Being away for two months taught me that the show goes on without me around. People get fed, clothed and to school and work on time. Despite my fears, no apocalyptic-level crisis was triggered in my absence. ;)

Although this may seem like a depressing revelation, it’s actually very freeing because it reminds me that my family loves me and wants me around not for what I can do for them, but for who I am. And it’s OK to let go of my annoying perfectionism and let people do things their way. I really can depend on others to take care of important things. And I.can.delegate. I have smart and capable people all around me who will rise to the occasion. Who am I kidding? I never had the time or energy to do it all myself anyway.

2. Say yes to only the best. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve read in a self-help article that we need to learn to say “no,” I’d be a wealthy woman. I realize this phrase has become cliché. And I think we all understand there’s simply not enough time in the day to say “yes” to everything. The real problem is that we aren’t clear about how often we need to say “no.” In other words, we’re still saying “yes” to more than we can comfortably handle.

So the growth and change is not in learning to say “no.” Rather, it is in understanding what is really possible to accomplish well in any given day, week, month or year. The word “well” is the key. To gain clarity on what to say “yes” to, consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • What can I take on today that I can do well?
  • What can I devote the proper attention to and do thoroughly, using my best efforts?
  • If I say “yes” to this, will I feel good about the finished product?
  • Can I take this on without sacrificing my health or well-being?

This is one of the biggest struggles I deal with every.single.day. I have so many wonderful things I want to do. Awesome … noble … fun things. But the truth is, I can only devote 100 percent of myself to a few tasks. This year, my goal is to give 100 percent to my most important priorities and fuggetabout the rest.

3. Get comfortable with pain. Here’s a sobering truth: Growth and positive change in life rarely, if ever, happen without pain attached.

We all have goals and dreams we want to accomplish. Many of us even have detailed plans laid out for how to meet those objectives. Many times, however, we get derailed from our plans to improve our health, work, relationships, etc. because we haven’t come to terms with the fact that getting where we want to go will require ongoing discomfort.

Climbing-wallMe climbing a rock wall during training (Courtesy photo)

Simply put, if you’re not experiencing some discomfort or pain, you’re probably not growing. “Pain is weakness leaving the body,” as the old Marine recruiting slogan goes. We must push through discomfort to reach our potential in life; it’s the only way to get there.

The beauty is that what begins as discomfort or fear quickly evolves into strength, accomplishment and fuel for the journey.

Do you have any secrets for gaining clarity amid life’s chaos? I’d love for you to leave a comment and share the tips you’ve learned along the way.

2015 Word of the Year – What’s yours?

A few years ago, I began choosing a Word of the Year to guide and shape my actions for that particular set of 12 months. In 2012, it was “available.” In 2013, it was “build.” And in 2014, it was “push.”

These simple words have proven to be absolutely life-changing for me. It seems there’s something almost supernatural about speaking out loud and writing down our intentions that sets the wheels in motion to make great things happen.

That’s part of the reason I am such a fan of Michael Hyatt’s “Best Year Ever” course. I completed the course last year and met eight out of the 10 goals I set for myself in 2014. These were not rinky-dink goals, either. They were big, hairy goals, like tripling my speaking engagements, doubling my income and writing a book!

Needless to say, I’m keeping the Word of the Year tradition alive (and also going through Michael’s course again). I’m convinced that 2015 will be my best year ever!

After much thought, I’ve decided on the word:

SEEInstead of a judgmental, critical eye, this year I will:

  • See potential rather than problems
  • See progress rather than imperfection
  • See God’s provision rather than my own lack
  • See people with eyes like God’s, full of love, grace and compassion
  • See possibilities instead of past failures
  • See the beauty in everyday moments
  • See the hand of God working all around me

This is my desire for 2015. Now, what is your Word of the Year? I’d love for you to tell me by leaving a comment so we can encourage each other.

Cheers to 2015: Our best year ever! 

The hallway molding big finish

Like a lot of folks out there, I’m a great starter but a lousy finisher. Case in point: the hallway molding project I began last winter. Yea … until last night at 10 p.m., it was still not done.

But thanks to the BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish initiative going on right now, I was pretty much forced to get my tail in gear and get it done yesterday. The funny thing? It only took me one day to do it. I’m constantly amazed at how I will literally stare at something and stress about it for an entire year rather than just do the one day of work it takes to get the project finished. Seriously, I should probably see a therapist.

So this project started, ahem, last February, after we put in the hickory floors. I wanted to add some decorative molding to “class up” the entry hallway. I painted the lower portion of the walls in a semi-gloss white paint that matches our window and door trim. (In hindsight, when I do a project like this again, I’ll switch to Valspar’s soft gloss finish; it’s more forgiving than semi-gloss.)

I topped off the strip of white paint with chair rail molding, painted the same color.


And that is where the work stopped until last week when I accepted the BLACK+DECKER challenge.

I bought a handful of 8-foot strips of “picture frame” molding from my local lumber company. I used my paint sprayer to quickly spray them with two coats of Valspar’s paint and primer in one.


After that, I asked for help from my math genius husband. He figured out where each “box” should go and drew the templates on the walls. Each box was to start five inches in from the nearest edge or piece of molding next to it. I simply used his penciled templates to determine the molding cuts I needed to make on my miter saw. Every piece but the wonky one next to the staircase required a simple, 45-degree angle cut at each corner.

Picture-frame-molding-extreme-closeupI attached each piece of molding to the wall using a nail gun loaded with Brad nails.

Finally, I caulked the nail holes and used my paint sprayer to give the walls and molding a professional-looking top coat of the white paint. I taped off everything first.


I also taped craft paper to the floor. A few spots of paint overspray still got on the floor. But I quickly scrubbed it off; no permanent harm done.

Here’s what my new, finally finished, hallway molding looks like:




Notice how I had to cut around the air vents.


Here’s the wall before the molding:


And after:


So … what DIY project do you need to finish this holiday season?

BLACK+DECKER has launched a movement to get all your unfinished home projects moving again. You can join them for the opportunity to win $10,000 cash and products. Plus, they might put you and your finished project on a billboard right in the middle of Times Square! (I would seriously make a trip to New York if my project made it on a billboard!) So while our family may never notice that we finished hanging the molding, millions of others will! :)

For this campaign, there are weekly prizes, and one grand prize of $10,000.

BLACK+DECKER weekly prize packages are comprised of one of each of the following:
• BDCDE120C 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver with AutoSense™
• BDEMS600 Mouse Sander
• BDCS40BI 4V MAX* Lithium Pivot Screwdriver
• BDCDCMT120 Matrix 20V MAX* Lithium Drill/Driver
• LCS1020 20V MAX* Chainsaw
• BDCMTRS Matrix Reciprocating Saw Attachment
• BDCMTI Matrix Impact Driver Attachment

To enter, visit the campaign landing page, and enter your first name, last initial, email, city, state and phone number. Then upload a photo of yourself and your completed project. Or you could just head over to the landing page and look at the gallery of finished projects to get inspiration.

Please note: The BLACK+DECKER Your Big Finish contest ends Dec. 28.


Special thanks to BLACK+DECKER for sponsoring this post and inspiring me to FINALLY finish this project! As always, all opinions (and sweat equity) are 100 percent mine.