Creating Your Joy

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{This week’s God-sized dream challenge: Write a blog post that shares what brings you joy, especially when it comes to  your God-sized dream}

What brings me the most joy? Creating it!

The best part about being joyful, is the snowball effect that accompanies it. Whereas happiness is temporary and the result of some short-lived moment, joy is a state of being. An ever-growing, effervescent state  that once you attain it, multiplies outward sustaining your soul and all those you come in contact with.

The key to creating your joy is pin-pointing that which brings the feeling of elation the moment you come in contact with it.

For me, my point of joy is beauty. I am my most joyful and peaceful self when I am surrounded by beautiful environments. It could be the view of the river from our cabin, riding my horse around hayfields in the evening, sitting in my not-so-secret local coffee shop, flipping through lifestyle magazines or simply the contentment of being in a loved ones presence.

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Being in a beautiful environment does not necessarily mean a physical environment, but an environment  in which you feel you are you’re most peaceful, content, prosperous and joyful self.

Once I establish and place myself in a setting  like those mentioned above, joy simply radiates forth. I’m creating my joy!

Always openly heartfelt,
Courtney

 

 

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How Blogging Is Like A Conversation With Your Best Friend

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For those of you you have been reading and following my blog from the beginning, you know that I started it as part of my God-size dream for 2013. But let me back up for moment to when I was still trying to figure out what the heck I wanted to write to about.

You see, I had been wanting to start a blog ever since one of my best friends from college started one with her husband. It seemed like a great way to stay in touch and let people know what you were up to on a daily or weekly basis without feeling like a terrible friend for not picking up the phone.

I began thinking about what on earth my blog would focus on. Sure I wanted to have updates on my life (isn’t that kind of the underlying point of a blog?), but I also wanted it to have some unifying factor. For me that was to keep my writing style just like my voice. I wanted the blog to feel like I was sitting down with one of my closest friends for a heartfelt conversation about what happened or was happening that day.

If you lived in a sorority house like I did in college, every time you walked through the kitchen someone was having a heartfelt conversation that you couldn’t help but be drawn into. Ah, the essence of sisterhood…

So, I just started writing.

I pretended that MK, Erin or Sarah were reading my words and we were back at the house sharing stories and grumbling about the paper we hadn’t started. I was having a conversation with my friends, only this time my stories reflected life after college.

In the short period of time that I’ve been blogging, I’ve come to recognize that the key to being successful, and actually enjoying the process, is to write as if your talking to your closest friends. Your friends friends seek you out for a variety of reasons whether it be for your support, knowledge in your area of expertise or simply a great conversation about life. They come to you for your specific gifts and talents and so do those who read your blog.

Stay true to yourself in all endeavors. Whether it be a face to face conversation with your best friend or a new blog post. The joy that comes from being in complete accordance with who we’re meant to be is without comparison.

Happy Monday, friends!
Courtney

Indecisiveness Is Knocking At My Door…

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Okay friends, I need some Cam_Maxof my own advice today.

Remember how I wrote on Tuesday that in order to gain more adventure in my life I would need to let go of indecisiveness? Well… I’m struggling with that this. very. moment.

Several weeks ago I reached out to someone about a possible employment opportunity for the entire month of July working a horse show. I thought it would be a great “filler job” for my sister and I if we got it, because we grew up working horse shows during the summer. Long story short we were offered the job and I was ecstatic when I found out!

Days at the horse show would be filled with…

  • Sipping morning coffee and watching the sun rise over the arenas
  • Gravel crunching under hooves walking back and forth to the show rings
  • Muffled nickers from stablemates calling out to one another between rides
  • The smell of liniment and sawdust
  • Freshly polished boots and bits
  • Little girls in pigtails sneaking sugar cubes to their ponies 
  • Ribbons hanging from stall doors

I could picture my ideal summer day. And then it showed up. Indecisiveness.
Where will our horses stay? Will we make our annual family trip at the end of the month? Is it really worth it? What if another opportunity appears and I’m committed to this?

Then the counter argument appeared. What if you just said yes without hesitation for once in your life? What if you do find a place for your horses? What if you make a connection with someone who can help you find work in that field? What if it’s the perfect launching pad for that dream business that keeps whispering to you heart?

Do you see my thought pattern here? I ask myself a lot of what ifs… I’m stuck with more questions than answers right now. I’m being in indecisive and it’s driving me batty! (Insert violin music here…)

See, in Tuesday’s post I simply said I needed to let go of indecisiveness… not that I knew how to let go of indecisiveness. I’ll get back to you when I figure it out. In the mean time, your tips and advice on how you overcome indecisiveness would be greatly appreciated!

Always openly heartfelt,
Courtney

Gaining a Sense of Adventure

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{This week’s God-sized dream challenge: What do you really want more of in your life? Will you dare to say it out loud? Hint: it probably means having less of something too (ex: more joy, less stress).}

Kayak_picEvery week I mull over the God-sized dream prompts and think I know exactly what I’ll share the following week. However, this one had me plain stumped. I could name plenty of material objects I wish I had more of, but we all know that’s not what the prompt was about.

So, I tried really hard to figure out what intangible elements I would like to manifest more frequently in my life. I weighed my options, did a lot of soul searching and prayed in hopes to find my answer. It didn’t come. Well, not in one of those “Aha! I’ve got it!,” moments. No, I received a question to my question.

What have you spent your time participating in and seeking out through friends, books and travel sites? What’s the one theme that all of these seemingly ‘loose ends’ tie together?

Oh. I smirked to myself.

A sense of adventure.

So that’s why I…

  • Love running in the dead of winter through inches of snow and freezing temperatures 
  • Race across fields on horseback against my sister
  • Go snowshoeing when everyone else would rather sit inside
  • Am planning a road trip down south just because I feel like it
  • Looked at applying to jobs in Germany and Austria
  • Didn’t take more than a 10min break the entire 5 hours of night skiing
  • Have been reading every travel guide and website I can on South America
  • Decided to go kayaking in 30 degree temperatures in the middle of December
  • Began training for my first half-marathon in the fall (did I just admit that???)

It all made perfect sense. But remember the prompt also said we would need to let go of something? Well, to gain a greater sense of adventure, I would need to let go of fear and indecisiveness. Strange as this may sound, the fear is the easiest to let go of. Indecisiveness trips me every time. It sets in the minute I start thinking about every consequence that could come of accepting an adventure. Either good or bad.

You see, flipping the kayak wasn’t an option that day in Decemeber. It was 30 degrees out, the river was freezing and we were paddling around an island that had no houses on it. Staying centered and moving forward was the only option.

Dream-God-sized-Dreams-150x150God-sized dream translation: Hiding from life, dreams and adventure is not an option. Living and embracing every opportunity He gave us is the only option.

Happy Tuesday to all my fellow dreamers!
Courtney

Confession: Writing about faith can be intimidating

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I have a confession.

Ready?

Writing about God and faith places me outside of my comfort zone.

Yup.

I can talk about God and faith with my friends and family on a regular basis, but writing about it? Putting it out there for anyone to read? Well, that’s just plain scary sometimes.

When starting my blog at the beginning of the year, I had planned on keeping it about day-to-day events that were relevant and relatable to other twentysometings. Writing about faith was not on my blogging to-do list. To me, faith is a very private and personal matter. I certainly didn’t want to write about it on my very first blog.

Then I learned about the God-sized Dream Challenge for 2013 through author and blogger Holley Gerth. It was a challenge to write about how God works in our lives to bring the dreams he placed in our hearts to pass. I loved Holley’s book, You’re Already Amazing, and her blog…but this challenge wasn’t for me.

And then came the thought: You wanted to write about topics that were relevant and relatable, right? Can’t everybody relate to pursuing their dreams? Especially recent college grads?

Okay, I thought.

I’ll do it.

But… what if I sound silly? What if no one can relate?

Ever heard of people accepting a sales job just to get over their fear of rejection? Yeah, well, that’s what this challenge was to me. I accepted it, because I wanted to get over my fear of being able to write about how I live by faith day-to-day.

That’s my confession.

Anyone else ever feel timid when writing about certain topics? Would love to hear about them!

Always openly heartfelt,
Courtney

 

A Letter to God-sized Dreamers

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{This week’s God-sized dream challenge? To write “A Letter to the God-sized Dreamers” telling your sisters why who they’re becoming and what they’re doing matters–even when it’s hard.}

Dear Sisters,

He needs us you know. Especially you.

That dream in your heart? He put it there.

For a long time I used to think I had come up with my dreams all on my own. Pulled them out of thin air, looked at them and said: “Yes. This is my dream.”

And while dreams occasionally come into being because of moments like that, those aren’t really the ones He put on our hearts. You know the kinds of dreams I’m talking about don’t yoDream-God-sized-Dreams-150x150u? The ones that leave us unsure and with more questions than answers? Trust me, I’m right there with ya, sister!

But those are the dreams that only He can give us. And that is why it’s so important for you to listen, understand and carry them out. That dream He placed on your heart? Only YOU can share it with the world. He didn’t place it on my heart.

And that’s why we, all of us God-sized dreamers, need you. Your dream is unique. There is none like it. Even when the going gets tough, sister, remember that He has given you a dream and a role that only you can live out.

He needs you.

We need you.

Keep dreaming, sisters!
Courtney

A Sense of Belonging

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“If I ever left this town, I’d never settle down/I’d just be wandering around, if I ever left this town.”

I hadn’t heard the song (Makin’ Plans by Miranda Lambert) in a long time, but for some reason I let it play when it came on my iPod instead of jumping to my favorite band of the moment. While it is a love song, that line jumped out at me for other reasons.

Since graduating almost two years ago, I’ve been trying to figure out where I wanted to head next. Granted, job opportunities were going to be a factor since I didn’t have the luxury of being able to pick up and move just anywhere on a whim (having a horse will restrict your freedom to do such things from time to time). So, I began looking at places I thought I wanted to live and looked for jobs and careers in those locations.

The problem is, there are so many places I want to go! I would pick one location, research it and then start to talk myself out of it with questions like:

Could I really see yourself living here year round? (I’m a four seasons kind of girl…)
Would I really love the culture or just the idea of it?
Would my family want to visit this location?
Could I stand possibly settling here if I had a really awesome career?

In short, I had analysis paralysis.

In trying to find the perfect location , I was driving myself nuts finding all of it’s imperfections.

I realized what I was really searching for in all of those locations was a sense of belonging.

As I’ve written before, I’ve never felt any particular belonging to the area in which I live. I’ve always had a “grass is greener” on the other side mentality. I’ve wanted a place that truly felt like home.

As I thought about that over the weekend, I was struck by a thought that came through crystal clear: Home is where ever He is.

I had to smile to myself, because it was so simple. A huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. Here I thought I needed to research, research, research all on my own and then make a decision about where to go based on all of my ‘data.’ When all I really needed to do was to turn my attention back to reflecting His qualities and go about my daily business and act at His suggestion.

Several months ago I wrote down a quote I found that sums up the idea of Home perfectly:

“Pilgrim on earth, thy home is heaven; stranger thou art the guest of God.”

Pilgrim. That’s exactly how I have been feeling. A traveller seeking a Home amidst the daily struggles of life. And a guest of God? I can’t imagine a more gracious and loving host.

Always openly heartfelt,
Courtney

Welcoming Home A New Puppy

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I was apprehensive to say the least.

When my Mom asked how I felt about getting a new puppy, I wasn’t exactly jumping up and down with excitement. I was a little more curt and abrupt in my answer than most people would have been. But understand, there were many reasons for my reaction (that’s a whole separate story…).

We had just said goodbye to our beloved, rescued setter, Cosby. You can tell yourself all day long that they have lived a good life, they are in a better place, and He was there to greet them across the bridge. It doesn’t matter. There’s still a hole in your heart.

Add insult to injury, our 14 year old silky terrier was rushed to the canine emergency room for a mini seizure and major eye injury late last week.

Adding a puppy to all of that was not reason to jump for joy in my book.

But then he arrived.

On a one-way, nonstop, all the way from Seattle.

Yup.

Taggart

Taggart (a.k.a Tagg) bounced out of his crate, tail wagging.

He wasted no time in settling into his new home. He has already settled into all of Cosby’s favorite spots. His tail never stops wagging and his brown eyes hold nothing but love. Nothing shy about this little guy!

Something tells me Cosby sent this little guy to us…

“I want to be the kind of person my dog thinks I am.”

Lots of love,
Courtney

Life is Good!

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{This week’s God-sized dream challenge was to share a God-sized dream story that has inspired us.}

You couldn’t miss him. He was the one with the booming voice and jovial laughter. He wore a yellow helmet, Carrera goggles and only skied on Atomics.

“C’mon you guys, c’mon!!!”

He’d dart off the chairlift, do a 360 on his skis and check to make sure all of thDream-God-sized-Dreams-150x150e students under his charge made it off the lift.

“Life is good!” he would shout  in his native language.

Lenny was from Russia and moved here with his family almost 20 years ago. To learn English, they sat in front of the television with dictionaries every night. They shared a house with maybe five or seven other families and had one room of there own where they kept their belongings and slept. They were allowed one kitchen cabinet to store groceries for their family, often kept under lock and key.

Their modest family town home was a palace to him. He woke up every morning grateful to be living in a free country.

I realize every God-sized dream is different for each individual, but can you even imagine the kind of courage that one took?

Moving to a foreign country, knowing none of the language, in hopes of acquiring something as magnificent as freedom?

It’s staggering.

In the years since meeting and skiing with Lenny, I have never forgotten him. He became a close family friend and still resides in the west pursuing another one of his dreams: teaching individuals of all levels how to ski.

Unbeknownst to him, the greatest lesson he ever taught me (aside from perfecting edge to edge skiing), was to wake up everyday grateful for what He has provided you with.

жизнь хороша!
Courtney

Sometimes Real Life Happens

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So… it’s been almost a week since I posted anything. I’m kicking myself, because I said from the beginning that I needed to post at the very least every other day.

Well you know what? I’ve realized that occasionally real life gets in the way and we just have to go with the flow. Whether it be our blogging endeavors get postponed or some other plan we have setup.

Last week, our second oldest dog (a 14-year old Silky Terrier) had a mini seizure and lost  most of her sight in one eye. I won’t go into details, but needless to say there were lots of frantic trips and phone calls to the vets office in addition to my current balancing act of a new job. So by the end of the week I needed to escape. And that’s exactly what I did.

I took off ‘Up North.’

I took the time to chill out, unplug and watch the snow fall amongst pine trees in a little riverside cabin.

Did I mention there is no internet?

Yup!

I loved it.

Now, I’m home and trying to plug back into the tech realm and bring some fresh thoughts to the blogging world this week.

Just thought I’d let you all know that it’s okay when real life gets in the way.

It’s healthy.

It’s a blessing.

And the blogging world is still here when you get back. I dare you to unplug this week!

Always openly heartfelt,
Courtney

P.S.- Tomorrow I’ll be sharing this week’s steps to reaching my God-sized dream! Happy Monday!