A Lesson Loss Gifted Me: Gratitude

Heard Family-063

Hi There! Today, I want to reflect on one of the greatest lessons I’ve learned from losing my young husband, Andrew. My hope is that you will be inspired by my experiences and what I’ve taken away from them, so that you can live a life filled with even more gratitude and love. First off, I want to thank my new friend, Lulu, for the gift of her creativity in coming up with the title of this blog.

A couple of nights ago I was reading Tony Robbins’ book, Awaken the Giant Within, and I came across a quote that really got me thinking, “Life doesn’t happen to you, it happens for you.” Immediately I went into defense mode because the last thing I wanted someone to say to me was that Andrew’s death happened for me. I don’t believe that the reason Andrew died was so that I could learn some major life lessons. However, when I peeled back the layers of the quote, I realized that as a result of Andrew’s death I could choose to receive or to reject the lessons from his loss. Now looking back, I see that choosing to embrace the lessons is the reason why I’ve been able to move forward and create a life that I love. I want to share one of those lessons with you.

  1. Gratitude: I can remember a season in my early twenties where cultivating gratitude was like pulling teeth for me. I knew it was important to be grateful, but as hard as I tried I couldn’t bring myself to feel thankful. I chose a victim mentality where I blamed the people I loved the most for my unhappiness. I took life for granted, treating it as though I was entitled to the things I wanted and shouldn’t have to put in the work to get them. Fast forward seven years later, to when my husband was diagnosed with terminal cancer. That’s when the process of gratitude began for me. Watching Andrew lay in his bed day after day, getting poked and having chemo pumped into his body, made me start to see a whole different side to life. I started realizing that just the fact I was healthy was reason enough to be grateful, or the fact I could get out of my bed and exercise was a reason to be grateful. Feeling thankful organically started becoming a part of my everyday life just through observing Andrew’s world and the lives of the many families at M.D. Anderson Cancer Hospital going through a similar experience.

One of my heroes is Mo Anderson, the former CEO of Keller Williams Realty. She’s a godly woman with the biggest, most generous heart. I remember hearing her say that when she steps out of her car each morning she talks to God about how grateful she is for the sunshine, for the breeze, etc. I remember hearing this story in my early twenties and wishing I could be that grateful. Now I can honestly say gratitude is the single most important thing I’ve cultivated to become the woman I am today. I have to thank Andrew for that lesson because watching him be grateful during his illness (when it seemed he had little to be grateful for) inspired me towards a new way of seeing life.

Each morning I wake up feeling grateful for every little thing. I find that when I am in the zone of gratitude I don’t focus so much on the negative aspects of life or on sweating the small things. I’ve experienced what’s truly important and the reality of how short this life can be, so I choose to focus on the things I can control: my attitude and my outlook on living. If you are struggling to feel gratitude like I did, I challenge you to see the world through the lens of someone else. Volunteer at places like hospitals, homeless shelters, etc. These experiences can help us shift our state of mind.

I would love to hear from you. What do you do to create more gratitude in your life? What life experience have you had that has gifted you with feeling more grateful? Looking forward to hearing your stories. If you want to do work around experiencing more gratitude, email me at baileyheard@gmail.com to set up a free coaching session. Thank you for spending time with me today! I’m blessed and grateful to have you in my life. Sending you love and blessings.

Bonus Ellie Story:

Yesterday I received an email from Ellie’s teacher with this sweet story (she gave me permission to share it with you). Below is the e-mail written by Ellie’s teacher:

I told the children this morning that today was Mozart’s birthday.  We listened/danced to his music during Music/Movement time.  We often listen to classical music, which the children enjoy.  During snack, we sang Happy Birthday to Mozart.  The kids asked several questions about him.  During our conversation, I mentioned that Mozart lived a long time ago.  Much to my surprise, one of the children asked me point blank if Mozart was dead. I answered yes.  At this time, Ellie told a friend, (sitting next to her) that her Daddy was dead.  She was not upset, or emotional in any way.  Then, I was asked by the same student where Mozart was.  I answered that he was in heaven.  Ellie turned to me with a lovely smile on her face, and said, “That is where my Daddy is”! I told her that yes, he was.  She then told me that he had died in Cuero. We went outdoors after our snack, and Ellie played and had fun.

Heard Family-117

One Step At A Time

my big why pic

(I look at this daily to keep me anchored and motivated towards my big WHY)

Hi Friends!

Have you ever felt so overwhelmed with all the projects you wanted to complete that you didn’t know where or how to get started? I asked my friend this question the other day and she said, “Welcome to being an entrepreneur.” It’s so true. As an entrepreneur you are a one-man show (until you can afford otherwise), and there are a lot of different hats you get to wear to run your own biz. I’m constantly challenged with new activities that aren’t particularly in my zone of genius that are necessary to build a successful entrepreneurship. The same friend I spoke of earlier (who owns her own successful business) also gave me great advice about how to deal with overwhelm. She said, “Take it one step at a time and get out of your head and into your heart.” Exactly what I needed to hear. As a single mom and business owner, I’m constantly learning how to juggle my home life with my business life. I’m always trying to figure out how to keep moving forward and not get stuck in the overwhelm zone. I wanted to share some tips that are currently helping me to keep calm and carry on!

  1. Download your projects - Write or type out a master list of every project you want to get accomplished. Then, be specific and write every step you need to take to complete each project. When we are clear on the exact steps to take, then eating one bite of the elephant at a time isn’t so overwhelming.
  2. Discover your specific WHY - A “why” statement explains why you are doing what you’re doing. In other words, what is the big reason/picture for why you are doing all of these projects? I’ve heard this saying so many times and for so long I had no idea how or why it was important to discover and specifically articulate a big “why” statement. I now see that it is massively important to tap into your big “why” because it’s the anchor and driving force that keeps you going when you don’t want to go anymore. It’s meant to be something bigger than yourself. When you say or read your statement you should feel an emotional connection to it so you can get back into the mind frame you need to keep moving toward your big “why.” For example, I didn’t discover my big “why” until after I lost my husband, Andrew. I created my business out of a desire to make his legacy known because when his book, A Gray Faith, was published (a month before he passed away), I felt it was my mission to share his words with the world. Andrew became my big “why.” All it takes is for me to look at his picture in my office (I’m looking at it right now as I write to you) and I feel anchored and clear about why I’m writing, why I’m speaking, and why I’m coaching. My WHY keeps me focused and motivated to keep going when it’s hard.
  3. Delegate when necessary – There are some things on my list that would take me 10 years to learn on my own (i.e. techie skills), so I’m choosing to hire someone to teach me how to use the technology I need to learn for my business. If money is tight, see if you can barter services with someone who is strong where you are weak. Where there’s a will there’s a way!
  4. Create a mantra - So my new mantra is, “Take it one step at a time.” I’m getting a sign made with that saying and putting it in my office, so I can see it every day. When I start feeling overwhelmed and begin pacing around my house, I repeat, “Take it one step at a time.” and (a phrase my gymnastics coach used to tell me), “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Can you tell I have a bit of a patience problem?
  5. Stay connected to God – On the days I make time to connect with God through meditation and prayer first thing in the morning, everything I do after that seems to flow from inspiration. Connection with God keeps me out of my head and into my heart, thus when I go to create (i.e. content for my blog, books, etc.) it comes from a place of inspiration. Some days I have to just hit the grind and force myself to do things I don’t want or like to do. It is on these days especially I find when I start my day from a place of peace and connection to God the rest seems to fall into place. I’m then in the mindset of having faith and trusting that what needs to get done that day will get done, all the while being proactive to co-create with the Ultimate Creator.

I hope you find these tips useful and encouraging when you feel stuck. The best thing we can do is to keep moving with purpose. If you’re connecting to what I’m saying and want to take it to a deeper level, shoot me an email at baileyheard@gmail.com to set up a complimentary coaching session. In the comments below, I would love to hear your advice on what helps you to move onward and upward even when you’re feeling overwhelmed and stuck. Also, I’d love to read your big WHY statement. Thank you so much for being willing to contribute. I learn so much from each of your posts and I’m inspired by your stories. I want to support and encourage you to continue pressing on even when it’s not easy. Keep the faith! Love and Blessings.

 

Finding Your Best Mentor

me and my mentor

(me and Christine Hassler at her Dallas book tour where I introduced her!)

Hi There,

 

I’m back from paradise! Read lots of books, spent time with family, and enjoyed some rest and relaxation. I hope you all enjoyed the holidays, too, and were able to spend some quality time with your loved ones. I thrive off of fresh beginnings, so it’s no wonder I’m feeling excited by this New Year. The opportunities to create the life we want are abundant. I’m especially looking forward to a new opportunity that starts tomorrow. In the morning, I will be flying to Los Angeles to start a mentorship with Christine Hassler. Reading her books and being coached by her has had a profound effect on my life. After finding her book, 20 Something 20 Everything, in my early twenties and reading her bio about what she did for a living (life coach, speaker, blogger), I knew that was the life and career I wanted to create for myself. Since that time, I’ve been personally coached by her, attended her seminars, went on one of her retreats to Costa Rica, and am now joining a small group of women who will be mentored by her. This opportunity is a dream come true. Many of the self-help books I’ve read encourage the concept of finding a mentor to help you grow your business, however that’s easier said then done. I wanted to share some tips based on my experience to consider when choosing a career mentor that is right for you!

 

  1. Are they a style match? After being coached by several different coaches I realized that each coach has their own style of coaching. For example, some may work with a personality test, some have a conversational style, some are completely goal oriented, etc.   What I realized was that some styles did not suit me as well as others. Once I realized Christine’s style of coaching was the style of coach I wanted to become, then I knew working with her, as opposed to others, was a right fit for me. Ask yourself the following when deciding if a mentor is right for you:
    • How does this person (mentor) interact with other employees or with their clients?
    • Do you connect with his/her style of working with others?

If so, he/she may be a good fit.

  1. Are they successful in their field? This one is a big one. It may seem obvious that you want to work with someone who is successful, but it’s also important to see yourself in their success. For example: Do they have the kind of success that you want to have in your business? When I envisioned my life, I saw myself doing what Christine has already successfully done- I, too, want to lead retreats all over the world, coach one-on-one, write books, do TV interviews, and speak all over the country. I knew that these were all areas of interest for myself, so the fact she has succeeded in creating a living for herself doing all the things I love to do was a good indication I would glean so much from her expertise.
  2. Do your values line up? I don’t exactly know what all of Christine’s values are, but from reading her blog and working with her our values are aligned enough where I don’t feel out of integrity when I am with her. It’s important to me to feel that I’m spending time with someone who is ethical and shares some of my top values, because no matter what their level of success, I’m not just looking at a successful career— I want a successful life and that comes down to who a person truly is inside.

 

I think one of the best parts about having a mentor is knowing that you have someone to help you when you get stuck. It’s also nice to know that the success you want to create in your life is possible, because you are partnering with someone who is already living the dream you both share. These are just a few of the criteria I used when deciding to invest in and be mentored by Christine. I’m sure that you have other tips on what to look for in a mentor and I would love to read your suggestions in the comments below. Hope you have a great rest of the week and I will catch ya when I get back! Love and Blessings.

El fast asleep with Winston

(Ellie and her best friend ,Winston, passed out after a long hard day of playing! Yes, she is still holding his leash :) )

A little bonus material here! I have to tell you a sweet Ellie story. We have been renting a dog (my furry nephew, Winston) since my brother and his wife have been home for the holidays. Ellie is attached to that dog like white on rice. She holds his hand, “reads” him the Bible, plays with him, grooms him, etc. A few nights ago out of the blue, she told me Winston reminded her of her daddy. In my head, I was kind of laughing because I thought it was a funny statement. Then I asked her why he reminded her of her daddy and she said because he kisses her a lot. (Ellie also told this to my brother and his wife a couple of weeks ago). My heart melted. She told me that playing with Winston was like getting to play with her daddy. It all made sense to me as to why she loves to do everything with him, and now when I look into Winston’s big brown eyes, I can’t help but think of Andrew!

 

Set For Success

The girls

Hi There!

Hope you are enjoying this holiday season with your loved ones! I’m getting pretty excited about the New Year (as in I can hardly sleep because I have so many ideas running through my head) and was thinking you might be too! I have a couple of tips and tools to help us start the New Year off with a bang!

  1. It’s Gotta Go- I’m constantly trying to live by the motto “less is more.” I like to blame it on my having A.D.D., but for me, too many choices overwhelm and paralyze me from taking action (and like you, I plan on taking some massive action this year). With that being said, I am taking some time to rid myself of clutter and keeping out just what I need, the rest has gotta go. I’m a fan of garage sales (I have one every 6 months). If I’m ready to get it outta here immediately I head straight to Goodwill. If you need to organize your things I love going to The Container Store.
  2. Thank Heavens for Dave Ramsey- If you don’t know about Dave Ramsey, here is his website: http://www.daveramsey.com/. If you’re like me and need to learn how to stick to a budget, but need it to be explained to you in layman’s terms, not alien, then Dave is your man. My dad is certified to teach Dave Ramsey’s methods, so yesterday he sat down with me and helped me go through my finances with some of Dave’s workbooks. I can’t begin to tell you how surprised I was by the simple process. It felt great to be in the know about my finances, and to be able to set a budget and to set financial goals for 2015.
  3. Put Your First Things First- Last week, I had a session with my therapist and I was venting about how I was having a hard time parenting Ellie. My incredible therapist told me that instead of avoiding the issues, I needed to put more focus and energy into my parenting. For me, this meant some other things in my life had to go. I had to take a good look at what was taking up my time and energy and reprioritize. Ellie is of course at the top of my priority list, but because I was frustrated and uncomfortable with my parenting I wasn’t making her my top priority. As hard as it was to let go of some of the other priorities that I enjoyed doing, it felt good to know that I was putting my first things first.
  4. Dream Dream Dream- One of my favorite things to do before the New Year is to take time to dream, write, and be creative—all in regards to what I want more of in the year to come! I’m a very visual person so sometimes I will create dream boards by cutting out images in magazines that inspire me, gluing them onto a board, and putting it somewhere I can see it. The images represent the life that I want to create in 2015 (some people love to do this on Pinterest). Other times I write out a list of all the projects I want to complete and then a list below each project of what steps I need to take each day to complete that project. Lastly, I love to get jazzed up for the year by reading or listening (I love audible) to a great biography about someone who overcame the odds to create the life of their dreams. Super inspiring!

I hope you found these tips and tools helpful for getting you set up for a successful 2015! I’m headed out on a family cruise tomorrow where I plan to apply these tips while on the sea! I would love to hear what you do to set your year up for success! Can’t wait to read your tips in the comments below. Thank you so much for reading my blog and I wish you a happy, happy New Year! Blessings.

I Want A Daddy

Ellie's school picture 2014 in color

Hi Friends! I hope you all are doing well and getting excited about the fast approaching holiday season. Although I do look forward to the holidays, there’s always a layer of sadness that comes with them. Mostly because a big part of the holiday season is being with the ones you love, and when you lose someone that was such a big part of your life, the holidays seem to highlight the gaping hole inside our hearts. With that being said, Christmas is such a fun time because Ellie is at the perfect age to be excited about Santa, although already at three she’s a skeptic. She asked me the other day, “How did Santa get that huge trampoline in our backyard last year?” along with a long list of other questions as to why Santa might not be real. Sometimes I envision Andrew in heaven, laughing at the thought that I didn’t escape his skepticism. Ellie is so her daddy’s daughter.

 

Last night, I had a conversation with Ellie that literally broke my heart, but also gave me a glimpse into her reality. We were watching the 1998 movie, Jack Frost, starring Michael Keaton and Kelly Preston. In the movie, the dad (Michael Keaton) dies in a car accident and leaves behind his wife (Kelly Preston) and son, Charlie (age 12). In one scene, Charlie and this bully are talking about how much it stinks to not have a dad. Ellie was lying on my chest and said, “I want a daddy.” Her words crushed me. I saw this as an opportunity to connect with her and also to apply what I’m learning as a coach, as well as what I’ve learned from child therapists that I’ve worked with. I want to share some of these tips with you in the hope that when you find yourself having intentional conversations with your kids (or anyone, really) these tips might help you to better connect and bond!

 

  1. Listen for the feeling. After Ellie said she wanted a daddy, I asked her, “What kind of daddy do you want?” She responded by saying, “I want a daddy that fights off dragons.” Inside, I kind of laughed, but when I asked myself what the feeling was behind what she was saying, I realized exactly what she was wanting. My intention from this conversation was to connect with Ellie, so I thought back to a time when I wanted to feel safe and protected. I completely understood where she was coming from because I slept in the middle of my parents until my little brother was born (we are 7 years apart) and kicked me out of the bed (still a little bitter). When I slept in between my parents I felt invincible, like no one could hurt me, and I didn’t have to worry about anything. Remembering this experience, I said to Ellie, “So you want to feel safe and protected?” She beamed when I said this and I could tell she felt understood. Remembering this time in my own life put me in the right frame of mind to be able to decipher what it was she was wanting.

 

  1. Put the ball back in their court. At first, I found myself starting to make her promises about what kind of dad that she would have one day: one that loves her like his own, plays with her, teaches her about God, etc. Then I realized that was the opposite of what the child therapist told me to do. She told me to not make promises I couldn’t deliver. The truth was, I wasn’t sure that Ellie would have another man in her life that would be like a dad to her. Seeing how excited she got about the dream of a dad just made me want to fill her with the hope that one day that would happen, but honestly, I shouldn’t have promised what I have no ability to truly know at this time. After feeling guilty for making these promises, I remembered what I’ve learned in coaching, and that is to allow the person to take responsibility for their dream. I said, “Ellie, why don’t you talk to your daddy in heaven and ask him to help find you the best daddy he can think of.” She smiled and said, “Yes, Mommy.”

 

  1. Stay out of judgment and into curiosity. I learned this one from my mom. She always told me this when she thought I was being judgmental. I find it hard to not get emotionally wrapped up and project my judgments when I’m talking to my daughter and I can tell that she is really hurt and there is nothing I can do to fix it. I’m not perfect at this one and fail a lot at it, but I know it takes work. What I’m learning, however, is that just being present, listening, and asking curious questions usually leads me to my ultimate intentions, which are for her to feel loved and understood by me. This leads to one of my most important values, which is genuine connection to people.

 

I hope you don’t find yourself having to have this particular conversation with your children, but I do know that all of these tips can help to enrich any conversation you have with anyone. I would love to hear your tips and advice for having intentional conversations with your children and others. Please leave your suggestions in the comments. Thank you so much for following my blog and I wish you the happiest of holidays! Blessings and Love.

Check it off

intotheblue

Hi Friends,

I hope you are all having a great start to your week! This week is a little strange for me because my little buggy bear (aka my daughter Ellie Grace) is visiting my in-laws (Andrew’s parents) for the entire week. It’s been eerily silent in my house this weekend, but I’m adjusting to it. I wanted El to get some time with her grandparents since they live so far away, and I also had several major projects to finish. I’m completing deadlines for The Ellie Project and working with my web designer to complete my new website! I’m also doing a lot of other things that revolve around starting your own business and, of course, buying and wrapping Christmas gifts. In the past, I would plan to do all these projects and then let my schedule fill up with lunches with friends, extra rest, reading a good book, etc. All fun things, but they were not helping me reach my goals.

This weekend as I was creating momentum in my projects I wondered if any of you struggle with the same distractions and frustration towards completing projects? I am always growing and learning in this area, but here are some tips I’ve come up with to help us really complete the many projects going on in our lives:

 

  1. Make sure you time block each task. For example: if I’m working on building my database, I will give myself one hour to work on that. After one hour, no matter how much I’ve accomplished, I will stop that task and move to the next one.
  2. Throw in some exercise. I like to start my day off with some movin’ and groovin’, because a.) if I don’t do it then, I probably won’t do it at all and b.) it gives me a sense of accomplishment, not to mention an energy boost. Sometimes in between projects I will take a lap around the block or hit a yoga class. It’s really important if all of your projects are inside to make sure to get outside throughout your day. Just make sure your exercise is time blocked, too, so you can get back on task toward achieving your goals.
  3. Vary your tasks from mindful to mindless. So for me, one of the projects on my list was wrapping gifts, which is pretty mindless, so I made sure to schedule creating content for my website right after. I do best when I switch back and forth between the two because I can’t personally do mindful tasks all day long, it burns me out. Another fun tip: listen to some upbeat music when you do the mindless activities. I’m currently listening to “Justin Bieber Holiday” on Pandora (don’t judge :) ). I will occasionally have a little dance party for myself and bust a move if I’m really feeling it. This keeps my energy high and my mood positive.
  4. Eat for fuel. Make sure and eat foods that are going to give you energy and not make you crash. Stay hydrated by drinking water throughout the day.
  5. Make time for YOU. If you have a project that will take several days to complete, make sure to time block for personal things you like to do (like read in the bath, watch E! news, catch up on people magazine— those are some of my favorite things). I find that if I don’t make time for me, I get burned out early on and lose momentum.
  6. Cut if off early. Pick a time that you want to stop working on your projects and do some wind-down activities like taking a bath or reading a fun book. I don’t recommend doing anything on your phone or computer. At least for me, it’s too much stimulation. Also, if I read one of my fave kinds of books, like a business book, I get all pumped and my mind will go crazy all night long. So keep in mind that you want to do things that will calm you down because getting a good night’s rest is really important toward helping you accomplish your goals.

 

These are all tips that I’ve found to help me stay in the game when it comes to completing various projects in my life. I would love for you to leave a comment on what tips help you to accomplish the many projects in your life. I hope this post helps you stay focused, have high energy, and build momentum as you knock out your projects over the holidays. Blessings and Holiday love.

Thirty, Flirty, and Thriving

30 bday

(Me and 5 of my besties at my surprise 30th b-day party)

One of my favorite movies of all time is 13 Going on 30. In the movie, a young thirteen–year-old girl, Jenna, hates being a teenager and makes a wish in her closet to turn her ideal age, 30! As she is making the wish she keeps repeating, “Thirty, flirty, and thriving, thirty, flirty, and thriving.” The next shot is of Jenna at thirty-years-old (played by Jennifer Garner), laying in her bed, and waking up to this new wonderful decade! I’m going to jump on that train and go ahead and welcome my 30’s as an opportunity to take everything I’ve learned thus far and to THRIVE (less emphasis on the flirty and all emphasis on the thriving).

So far, so good. Last night, one of my best friends threw me a surprise 30th b-day party with five of my besties! We had a blast catching up, eating sushi, and rocking out to T-Swift’s “Shake It Off” in the parking lot (I opted to bust a move while poking my head out of the sunroof of my friend’s car)! I feel so blessed to be surrounded by so much love in my life. I did, however, have a meltdown a couple of days ago about being alone on my 30th b-day. I was struggling with the thought that usually, if you were married, your spouse would plan something special for your 30th and feeling sad because he wasn’t here to do that. I took it out on my parents who thankfully forgave me. After allowing myself to cry it out and talk it through with my mom I felt so much better. Doing that enabled me to shift from victim mode to empowerment. Since then, I’ve planned a wonderful day for myself filled with all the things I love to do. I don’t have to have someone with me to enjoy my birthday, I have all the love I need inside of myself!

30 bday with Linds

 (Thank you Lindsay for making my 30th so special.)

So if you will allow me to be a bit nostalgic, I would like to take you back 20 years and introduce you to a younger me. I want to share some memories and highlights over the past 30 years. When I was little, you could say I was a bit of an attention hog. Not sure if that was middle child syndrome or genetics, but I was always putting on performances. It’s a huge joke in my family that if there was ever a camera, my face was in it. At one point, I would put on ballet shows for my parents, and somehow my adorable little brother ended up dancing and the camera angle went from my head to my legs (aka my little brother’s height). I would have to get their attention and remind them that this was my performance and that they were supposed to be shooting me, not Pres. Haha. Looking back, I can’t blame them because he was so stinking adorable, but at the time I wasn’t having it.

I decided early on that I wanted to be a singer. My dad owned a nightclub so I would go with him on Saturday mornings and dress up and pretend I was a professional singer. My dad’s side of the family are singers and I remember going to the Wylie Opry with my grandmother to watch my cousin sing and realizing I wanted to do that, too! There was one song that I particularly loved singing, “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” Not by Mariah Carey, but another song with the same title by Vince Vance and the Valiants. They used to come to my dad’s club and preform, and I would get on stage with them and dance and I loved it. I’m not sure how it came about (my dad probably asked Vince if I could do it), but I got asked to sing their famous song at one of their shows at my dad’s club. I practiced and practiced and practiced. I had three of my best friends as my backup singers. When the day came we preformed and it went so well, I was for sure this was what I wanted to do with my life. I think I was nine or ten-years-old at the time. This opportunity led to me getting to sing with Vince Vance at the Denton fair. It was all so exciting and I felt right at home on the stage.

Years went by and my love of performance never went away, but it ended up taking on different forms. Throughout the years I did ballet, gymnastics (which I loved the most and practiced four hours a day, five days a week, for six years), track, cross-country, and cheerleading.   I’ve always been a big dreamer and a multi-passionate person. Of all the loves in my life, finding Jesus Christ has impacted me the most. What it’s done for me is given me an example of how to live my life. It gives me purpose and meaning in my relationships and in how to treat others. Jesus is love and to embrace His love for myself, to show that love, and to be that love to others is what has made me who I am today. Here is to turning 30 and thriving! Love each one of you! Blessings.

Happy 32 Andy Roo

updated engagement photo

(one of our 2007 engagement photos by Joseph Mark Photography)

Today would have been Andy’s 32nd birthday! Ellie and I plan to celebrate at Chuck E. Cheese, sending dad a present (Ellie’s artwork) via a balloon and a birthday cupcake where El plans to blow out the candle!

A couple of days ago, I spent Thanksgiving with Andrew’s family and it was there that I was surprised with the most incredible gift. A couple of months ago, I sent Andrew’s favorite high school, college and tribute t-shirts, along with my Baylor Chi Omega and coed cheer shirts, to Andrew’s 96-year-old grandmother and asked her if she could make Ellie a quilt out of them. When I arrived at Thanksgiving I was immediately taken to a room where I got to see the finished product. (insert picture) I don’t know that I’ve ever cried when I received a gift, but I couldn’t help the tears from coming when I saw the quilt. My heart was flooded with emotion as each t-shirt brought back beautiful memories of Andrew. I love that Ellie has so many wonderful presents to reminder her about who her dad was and how much he loved her.

thequilt

Yesterday Ellie and I were in the car listening to a song by Taylor Swift. The song is called “Last Kiss,” and it’s about a relationship that ends and not being prepared for it to be over. I looked at Ellie through the rearview mirror and saw she was listening to the words of the song. I could tell she looked sad. I asked her how she was feeling and she told me in a sweet and solemn voice, “I miss my Daddy.” Once I listened to the words of the song through Ellie’s lens, I realized that she could have been feeling like she, too, hadn’t known when her last kiss or last moments with her dad would be. All she knew now was that he was gone. It broke my heart. She is such a deep thinker and is so sensitive. Sometimes I forget that even though she’s young she feels her loss so heavily.

In honor of Andy Roo (my term of endearment for Andrew), I would like to celebrate some special memories of him from over our six years of marriage. Where do I begin? I’ll never forget the time I really upset him (can’t even remember what I did), but he was so upset he locked me out of the house and I was forced to drive to my parent’s house. I was really angry that he locked me out, and my parents were kinda confused as to why I was hanging out with them in the middle of the day. When I told them what happened (which, by the way— one of the many lessons I’ve learned over the years is you don’t need to tell your parents about every fight; some things are better left to work out together. Learned that one the hard way) my dad texted Andrew and said, “Please call Bailey, no take backs!” Andrew thought that was hilarious and called me to come home!

One of the many things I loved about Andrew was that he could be super smooth, athletic, romantic…and then he could be kind of dorky and clumsy. I think the day I decided he was the one for me was at my nephew’s b-day party. He was trying to impress me with his roller skating skills and decided he needed to skate backward because of his pulled groin. I thought that was a load and that he just wanted to show off. At one point he started going pretty fast backward and as he dodged a couple of kids he lost control of his skates, his long legs flew into the air and he landed flat on his back. Then, as the high school student that worked there asked him if he was ok, he got back up and immediately the legs flew right back up in the air! There he was again, flat on his back. My brother, dad and I all saw this happen and laughed so hard we almost cried.  I knew right then and there, This is the man for me. It just cracks me up when someone tries to act so smooth and cool and then something like this happens. Maybe it’s because I have a goofy and silly side, too. Whatever it was, I found it extremely relatable and attractive.

Lastly, I’ll never forget going on road trips with Andrew. It was just him and me in a car with his scary brilliant and beautifully creative mind. I’ve never met anyone that thinks like Andrew. He was intriguing and had so much depth. I loved listening to his big dreams about leaving a legacy on this earth. I cherish those conversations and to this day when I take road trips by myself, I feel a sense of freedom, awe, hope and wonder because that’s how Andrew made me feel when we were dreaming together on the road!

Andrew, Ellie and I love you, and we are doing our part to keep your spirit alive. Your dreams of leaving a legacy are still being fulfilled through your books, your blog (andrewbheard.com) and through the lives you’ve personally touched. Thank you for teaching me how to live a life of purpose, meaning, substance and service to others. You are my daily inspiration. I love you always!

 

Food to my Soul

Fotolanthropy event

(That’s me hugging the incredible photographer Taylor Lord (who took our family photos) at the Fotolanthropy event.)

Hi There!

It’s been a little while since my last post, but there is a lot to catch you up on.  First off, this past Tuesday I was invited to be honored at a Fotolanthropy event of the screening of Travis: A Solider’s StoryFotolanthropy is a non-profit organization that chooses inspiring families’ stories and creates a photo album and documentary for the family to keep.  They created this amazing documentary for my family (along with the incredibly talented photographer Taylor Lord and the amazing videographer Claire Huntsberger) . Check it out at www.fotolanthropy.com/agrayfaith/

The event was held at The Majestic Theater in Dallas, TX. I got to stand on the stage with other families that have inspiring stories that have been documented by Fotolanthropy.  This event couldn’t have come at a better time as I’m going through a sad breakup.  I had no idea what this night would do for my soul!

The event was on Veteran’s Day and the man being honored was a Veteran and a quadruple amputee.  His name is SGT. Travis Mills (check out Travisthemovie.com).   Travis was married and had just become the dad of a beautiful little girl when, after dropping his backpack on a land mine received severe damage to both of his arms and legs. After serious medication, surgeries, and coming to the realization that he had lost parts of his legs and arms, he came to the conclusion that his family needed him and he wasn’t going to let this challenge define him.

I watched as the video took us through Travis’ time in physical therapy.  He talked about how his physical therapist told him that she would work as hard as he would and she wasn’t there to babysit him. He took her words to heart and instead of working out for his daily 1-hour time slot, he worked out for 4 hours a day.  We all watched as he learned how to sit up, walk with his new prosthetic legs, and learned how to use his prosthetic arm all while laughing, cracking jokes, singing, and dancing.

There were images of his daughter lying on his chest looking up at him, not knowing there was anything different about her dad, just content that she had him there with her! This brought up a lot of emotion for me, because even though the circumstances are way different than mine, Ellie was about the age of Travis’ daughter when Andrew got sick, and she was often laying on a hospital bed with him. Mostly it made me sad because the one thing Ellie wants is her dad and I can’t give her that. I could have cried for days, but instead I cried a little and allowed my heart to be inspired and encouraged by this man’s will to not just live, but to live life to the fullest.

The film showed him joyfully doing household duties. You could tell he loved his family so much and that was one of the motivations for him to keep going. At the end of the video, he told us to Never, Never, Never Give Up. I thought that was such a relevant message to all of us in that room, because whether it’s cancer, another illness, losing someone you love, or taking care of a sick child, what we all had in common was that we aren’t giving up. We will keep going for ourselves, for our loved ones.  I was so blessed by this video and it was just the reminder I needed to keep going, keep trusting God’s plan, and keep being of service to others.

Also, on my “what’s new” list this weekend I am starting a 7-month coaching certification program through The Institute of Professional Excellence in Coaching (IPEC). I chose this company as opposed to others because it came highly recommended by my life coach and I connect with IPEC’s style of coaching. I’m always looking to sharpen my skills as a coach and to learn how to better serve my clients.   I’m also excited to share that since launching my life coaching business, I’m finding so much joy and fulfillment through connecting, coaching and inspiring other people going through various transitions in their lives.

I’m looking forward to this new chapter! I’m ready for the time and space to continue the grieving process of the loss of my husband, to truly connect with myself and what I want and where I’m headed, to grow in my skills as a life coach, to learn how to provide for my family through pursuing a career I’m incredibly passionate about and to be in a place to fully trust God to take care of us.  It is when we stretch and challenge ourselves that we see the most confidence and growth in our lives. Thank you for being on this journey with me! It’s easier to go through the ups and downs when I have your love and support. Blessings.

What Might Have Been

AndyandBayweddingday

Today would have been seven years that Andrew and I would have been married. Sometimes I like to think about what our relationship would have looked like had he survived cancer for a second time. I truly believe those would have begun the best years of our marriage. If you’ve read Andrew’s book, A Gray Faith, or some of my earlier posts, it will come as no surprise that we had a rough start to our marriage. The odds were not in our favor.

I was young, insecure, and felt totally out of my element as a wife and as an adult. Andrew was still trying to find his path and wrestled with doubt and questions about his faith (which was a big deal because he had recently graduated from seminary and was looking to serve in the ministry). The combination was pretty turbulent. Add in some depression on both sides and a lot of sleeping on the couch and you’ve got two pretty unhappy people. Part of the reason I believe our relationship struggled was because our personalities were polar opposites. I think it’s what initially drew us together, but it’s also what drove the other one crazy. Many times our communication toward each other was lost in translation. It didn’t help that we were raised in a completely opposite way when it came to money. We felt like we were from two different planets, which made it nearly impossible to understand where the other person was coming from.

After Andrew passed away one of my initial coping mechanisms was to focus on all the reasons we were wrong for each other in the relationship. How frustrated we made each other feel and how we always wished the other person would change. Needless to say, my initial reactions to his death were denial and anger. It somehow made me feel temporary relief to focus on the negatives or the hard parts of our relationship. I guess I convinced myself it would make me miss him less. Well, that worked for about a year, but now all I feel in my heart for Andrew is love. I feel a profound appreciation for his caring heart and deep soul, and all of the other reasons I was drawn to him in the first place. As I’ve shifted my thoughts toward love and gratitude for Andrew I’m finding that, yes, it does make me miss him more, but in feeling the pain of missing him I am on the path towards healing and acceptance of our loss.

I imagine had he lived, he would have found his true calling. I envision us at Oxford University (one of his dreams), Andrew pursuing further education, writing fiction novels, and speaking all over the world. I’m pretty sure I would be on the same path as I am now (coaching, writing, and speaking) and that Ellie would just be happy to be with her mommy and daddy. I think the cancer would have been a wake-up call for both of us to not waste another day just merely surviving, but living each day with purpose, meaning, and impact. I think our love would have grown closer knowing that we had come through one of life’s greatest challenges and that we stayed by each other’s side.

Since that dream will not become a reality, I will continue to live my life with purpose, meaning, and impact regardless of the naysayers and negativity of others. Because my heart is filled with the inspiration and the love of a man who changed my life by being true to who he was. A man who always sought truth regardless of what anyone else told him. He was brave and his bravery changed my life. I will thrive because of his love. Blessings.

prayerwithrooonweddingday

 

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