Vision Quest

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The topic of today’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series is perspective.

Hopefully the Get Stuff Done & Have Fun 21 Day Challenge has prompted you to view what’s fun for you to do as something that’s also essential for you to do.

The 5-10 minutes it took to do something creative, thoughtful, or fun as part of your daily challenge most likely colored your whole day with a dollap of delight that just a few days ago you may have determined you didn’t have time for.

Think of all the joy you would have missed just last week alone!

By now you could be seven days into the challenge.  Even if you are only a day or two into it, how has challenging yourself changed your perspective?  What is possible for you now that you didn’t think was possible last week?

Here’s what I learned is possible for me.

I am smart enough to deal with IT issues by calling the help desk and patient enough to stay on the phone as long as it takes to resolve the issue. While this is anything but fun for me, it does give my inner geek a thrill to reconfigure my whole internet setup so that it runs faster and with less downtime. And there is a badge of honor that comes with surviving the on-hold hell of being transferred and re-routed and explaining your situation succinctly to each new agent.

Ironically, every time I uplevel my business or upgrade my skills, it’s as difficult as the first time. Sometimes, even more so because I assume I know what I’m getting into and the learning curve will be easier. But not having been at this level or having dealt with the difficulties that come with playing in a bigger arena, I can’t know what I don’t know until I’m faced with not knowing.

That’s where beginner’s mind is most helpful.

And tech support.

Since I got my first MacBook Pro in May, the Apple Care people have become my new BFFS. Yesterday is was the WordPress Happiness Engineers.  Today it was my foreign friends at Netgear who spent the morning teaching me about modems and routers and secret reset button that you press with a paper clip after entering a special code. (Not disclosed in the instructions.)  Tomorrow I suspect the people at Mail Chimp will be welcomed into the fold.

And what a curious fold it is!

“It takes a village” is all I can say.  To build a dream, create a life, find a tribe, or manifest a vision. It takes a pit crew. The kindness of strangers.  A treasure map. Some perspective. And a few good dogs snoring and farting freely at your feet.

Let me know in the comments below what you are dreaming up and how I might support you.

 

 

I Wonder If ….

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A curious puppy dog is looking up with wonder.

I love the description on this picture.  “A curious puppy dog is looking up with wonder.

That succintly sums up this week’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series topic and how I encourage you to look at life this week.

What if instead of being afraid of things, you were just curious about them?  What if instead of thinking you know how things are going to go, you just stay curious about how they may unfold?

Today’s video is all about allowing curiosity to serve you and open you to things that may  have stopped you in your tracks before.

I’d love to hear how staying curious influences you this week or how it has influenced you in the past.  Your comments are most welcome below.

Enjoy!

 

Rules of Engagement

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Today’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series topic – engagement – takes last week’s topic of Showing Up one step further. Because if you were at all impressed with what happened when you showed up and were present, you’ll be blown away by what happens when you show up and engage with others.

How many of you who are reading this – or any number of blogs – have left a comment? If you haven’t, what stops you?

  • You don’t want to take the time or go through the hassle of figuring out how to actually leave a comment?
  • You’re reading it from a location that doesn’t lend itself to responding?
  • You think you don’t have anything to share?
  • You assume other people will respond so you don’t need to?
  • You prefer to keep a low profile and keep your opinions private or anonymous?

I certainly have used every one of the above reasons for not engaging with someone whose insights have totally shifted my way of thinking, saved the day, rocked my world, or even irritated the heck out of me.  So I totally get it.

I once read a blog post that challenged readers to engage by essentially calling us out as a cyber-stalkers. A bit harsh? Maybe. But I had to admit, I could be a bit more involved in the communities I was claiming to be a part of.  I posted my first comment that day on that blog.

Carolyn See’s book, Making A Literary Life, hints at something similar. She suggests we write a “charming note” to someone we admire in the industry five days a week , every week, for the rest of our lives.

Now that’s a tall order, but I bet you can write a charming note, send a quick email,  leave an encouraging comment, or, at least very least, “like” something once a week.  Just this morning I responded enthusiastically to an email from someone who consistently sends out great content. It made me feel as good as it’s bound to make the recipient feel.

This easily executable action not only helps another person feel appreciated. It allows me to be seen as a player, a contributor, an influencer or expert in my field. I really cannot afford to miss an opportunity like this to engage.

But Penny,” you argue, “it’s easy for you. You do this all the time.”

Oh, not so.  I’m a strange mix of an extroverted introvert.

If I know my job is to be the Hostess with the Mostess, I will play the part with gusto. It does takes practice, however. And I’m going to need a long stretch of silence and solitude to recover from that enormous output of energy.

But I’ve learned this.

Until you’re all in, until you do that thing that you think you cannot possibly do, you’re never going to succeed – even on your own terms. Because your success depends upon you showing up and engaging with others as only you can.

You cannot hold back.  You have to put your whole self in. Whether you shake it all about is your business.

How do you do that?

Let me share what I call my Rules of Engagement:

  • Suit up.
  • Show up.
  • Share.

Until you apply these rules of engagement with other human beings, no one is going to see and respond to your light in the way you long to be seen, felt, or heard.

I guarantee this will make you feel vulnerable. So we’ll talk about how to work with your vulnerability in next week’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series.

In the meantime, let me know in the comments below (or send me an email at penny@wellpower.com if that feels safer) what you’d love to be – or already are – known for, seen as, or valued and respected for.

For example, I’d love to be known as the go-to expert in transformational coaching. I’d love to be valued as someone who *gets* you and helps you unleash that certain something that makes you, you!

Now it’s your turn.  I can’t wait to hear from you!

Also, head over to my YouTube Chanel, subscribe, and catch today’s video on Engagement.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Showing Up for Your Life

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Today’s Sunday Summer Stretch Series episode is all about showing up.

Yesterday Becca and I went on location to the site of our Tapping Into Your Wellpower retreat to film this week’s episode. Ironically we recorded twenty minutes of video that mysteriously did not show up in my iMovie library when I came home to edit, forcing me to use the only five minutes that did show up.

What I’m noticing as I produce the Sunday Summer Stretch Series is that the right (and often exasperating) experiences show up at the exact right time to illustrate the point I am suggesting you pay attention to.

Clearly, it’s a case of physician, heal thyself.

For example, last week we talked about structure. On the 4th of July – a day that had the potential to throw a lot of people’s structure out the window – I found myself feverishly outlining Sunday Summer Stretch Series topics through September and creating a structure for each episode.

Some might say that should have happened before I even started, but let me assure you, if it would have, you would not have seen Episode 1 until next summer.

Sometimes, I just have to “Leap,” as Les Brown says, “and grow wings on the way down.”

Showing up in Boston in the middle of a blizzard in March to attend Ignite Your Power was such a leap. At that event I invested in a year long coaching program that has transformed the way I show up for my life and the people in it.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t had coaching or heard similar stuff before.  Like you, I’ve  consumed copious amount of content either out of curiosity or fear of missing out.

However, I seldom contributed to these conversations or left comments, even when the information totally rocked my world or changed the way I looked at something. I figured someone else would surely comment and the author wasn’t interested in my opinion.

Until I started creating my own content.  Now I realize feedback and comments are the lifeline of a thriving community.

Writing can be a very solitary pursuit.  Or it can be a call and response feedback loop where I put out the call and you respond or you toss out a question or a comment and I respond.

Showing up changes everything.

You can stay in your head where it’s safe, you’re surrounded by intelligent life forms, and your eccentricities are considered charming.

Or you can risk being seen.

You can risk being exposed for being human, being a bit unorganized, messy, or otherwise imperfect. You can be accused of anything from fashion faux-pax to intentional ignorance of the laws of defensive driving or good grammar.

I used to lament that my superpower was invisibility.  Now I’m determined to turn that around and I am committed to showing up and being visible – imperfections and all.

As Barbara She said, “Isolation is the dream killer.

I used to pride myself on being fiercely independent. Now I know the real honor is to be a part of a community.  If you are reading this, please know I am thrilled to have you as part of mine.  Many of you have been quietly reading for years, never letting out a peep.

Today I’m going to nudge you to just check in and say “I’m here” in the comments below. Or simply like this or share it with someone who might benefit from reading this. Because showing up – even in small ways – matters immensely and I’d love to let you know.

Here the link to today’s episode on Showing Up in the Sunday Summer Stretch Series.

 

 

 

Freedom Through Discipline

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From fireworks to parades to hot dogs, apple pie, and baseball, many Americans will find a way in the next couple of days to celebrate the freedom this country was founded upon.

With the need to be free hardwired into our operating systems, it’s the rare person who willingly gives up that freedom without a compelling reason. Yet, to achieve almost anything worthwhile, sacrifice is usually required. At the very least, discipline is demanded.

Think about the last thing you wanted to learn, do, or achieve that you knew nothing about. Chances are you did not just do it and become an instant expert.

Say you want to get in shape to run a 5k race in October. If you’ve never run anything but late, then you’ll need a strategy, a training schedule, some dietary guidelines, and basic structure in order for your plan to succeed.

Too often we’re seduced by the idea of easy.

Now I’m all for things being easy, but the things that really matter usually do so because of the time, effort, and discipline required to call forth our commitment and courage. When we can conjure up those characteristics, then unlikely allies and opportunities also arise and ignite a spark we may not have even known was in us.

This summer and fall I am taking on a couple of things are way beyond my skill set. I’m making a video series called Sunday Summer Stretch Series (watch today’s episode here) and hosting a retreat in September called Tapping Into Your Wellpower. (Watch for details posted here this week.)

I refuse to let the fact that I currently don’t have the expertise I would prefer to have to boldly go where I have not gone before stop me from heading in that direction. I have traveled enough to know there will be rest stops, restaurants, and resources along the way. Consequently, I trust I will be okay.

If I let the reluctance to start because I have no guarantees I will succeed stop me, I’d never get anywhere. And, oh, the places I would like to go!!

To me freedom is always hard won. While I’ve never fought for my country as some of you have, I fight daily for my dreams and the privilege to help you realize yours as well.

I’d love to hear how you are not just celebrating your freedom, but finding it through discipline and exercising it by stretching your skill set this summer.

Tell us all about it in the comments below. (Accountability does wonders!)

 

 

 

Farewell to a Friend

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Yesterday I attended the funeral of a dear friend.  She was the first one to “like” a blog post or leave a comment on my “latest and greatest” idea, no matter how wacky or weird it was.

If we’re lucky, we all have at least one person like my friend Linda who makes us believe in our own brilliance by reflecting it back to us.

Ours wasn’t a likely friendship but one that developed by working together.  We didn’t work together for hours on end but in the odd hours when everyone else was asleep or had gone for the day or the week.

You see, Linda was the caretaker of our building.  She was the invisible hand that kept the floors and windows clean and everything in operating condition. She would usually come in around 4 in the morning and spend a couple hours at our building before heading to her full-time job to put in another 8-9 for the day.

In her “free” time she made quilts and took in sewing projects and did all kinds of odd jobs for others.

She was a worker bee.

About a year ago Linda got bone cancer and embarked on the only route she deemed acceptable – the grueling road to recovery. She was an extremely private person so at first she simply withdrew. I’m sure she thought she could handle it without bothering anyone else and be back to work in no time.

But that was not the case.  She had a long battle ahead of her and she was forced to fight it full time.

Once as I was driving her to the hospital I remember thinking, “This is really happening to us. We are no longer immune to cancer. It’s no longer something other people deal with.” 

I got a glimpse into the impact a diagnosis of a debilitating disease has on a person. She, of course, was not going to let it get the best of her.  In fact, like many people who have had cancer, it seemed to bring out the best in her.

Despite her declining physical condition, emotionally and spiritually she seemed to simultaneously harden and soften. Harden to take on the fear and uncertainty and soften to allow others to help. This brought about a kind of acceptance and letting go that comes with finally understanding what truly matters.

During the service, the priest admitted that he didn’t know Linda. I thought about how lucky I was that I did. As he fumbled his way through a reference to some Twilight Zone episode meant to comfort her family and friends, I consoled myself with what I did know and love about her.

While he surmised she loved being an aunt, he had no idea how much she loved her “kids” Rick and Rachael, the cats who shared her life.  He made no mention of how mechanically minded she was or how, despite her fragile physical form, she was in the midst of a full DYI home renovation that had her excited about her future again.  He failed to mention her lucky streak at the casinos or her love for Manny’s pizza.

He had studied her obituary but knew nothing of her life. He hadn’t had the opportunity the rest of us did.

As the priest offered the congregation communion, I imagined Linda finally communing with Michael Jackson, whom she admired more than any other performer.  She told me once she’d love to have his music played during her funeral service but didn’t think it would go over very well.

So I came home and honored my friend the best way I knew how.  “Alexa,” I commanded my AI device from Amazon,  “please play ‘Man in the Mirror’ by Michael Jackson.”

Let me just say Alexa has ever understood or responded to any of my requests before. I believe she’s in cahoots with Siri who has the same problem. But today she responded, “Okay, Penny.  Playing Man in the Mirror – the Immortals edition.”

Then I moon-walked around my kitchen, celebrating the life of my friend.

What Do You Do When Life Gives You Lemons?

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In my effort to be more visible, to show up more fully, and put my whole self in, I’ve decided to make a series of videos called A Penny for Your Thoughts.

Each week I will explore a topic and invite you to join me in this grand adventure.  You are welcome to send in topics as well as your own videos.

If you are under 30, I’m guessing you’re totally up to the challenge and wondering why it took me so long to ask.

I can say with some amount of certainty that if you’re over 40, the mere thought of making a video is enough to cause a panic attack.

I know this because making videos is terrifying for me.  It absolutely unnerves me. Possibly because the Invisibility Cloak I got for my 40th birthday has become a bit of a security blanket for me by now.  And most likely because when a writer becomes visible, it’s a total game-changer.

No one notices my crooked teeth, thinning hair, thickening waste, or messy kitchen when I’m writing.  Everyone notices when I show up on their computer screen.

Videos = Visibility = Vulnerability

You know those dreams – nightmares, really – when you show up to a big event but somehow have forgotten your shirt or pants or find yourself completely naked?  That’s what it feels like to make a video.

But it’s also the best way I know to let you see my passion, my quirkiness, my commitment to my craft, to lifelong learning, and to you, my faithful reader.

I’ve been blogging for 6 years now. I thought we might be ready to take this relationship to the next level.  What do you say?

Okay then. Strap in.  Adjust your helmets. It’s going to get interesting.  And hopefully, even fun.

I know it’s a little hard to hear the audio part with the music. I’m using Adobe Spark and tried to turn the music down as much as I could but I couldn’t figure out how to delete it during the video segments when I was talking. Clearly, I needed to use a microphone.

I promise the videos will get better as I learn! 🙂  I am also open to any of you video wizards giving me tips and suggestions.  You know who you are!  I’d love to hear from you. Contact me at penny@wellpower.com.

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Home on the Range

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My niece Kathryn is a college recruiter for SCAD.  Because she is a floater, most of her time is spent on the road or on a plane meeting with students from coast to coast. When she told me where she was heading this week, it didn’t take long for me to rearrange my schedule so I could accompany her to the place I called home for 14 years.

Although it’s been almost 7 years since I’ve been back to Santa Fe, I go there in my mind every day in some small way. From the architecture to the music to the art to the landscape, Santa Fe has shaped me more than any other place.

Walking into the lobby of our hotel (pictured above) it all came rushing back to me. This is my happy place. Everything is artfully designed, from the way a fire extinguisher is disguised behind an exquisitely woven twig panel to the details on the doors, the paintings on the walls, and sculptures and sconces that guide us around the grounds.

The curator not only payed attention to the craftsmanship in these pieces of art, but he or she fully expects us to appreciate it as well.

And I most definitely do. The city provides a smorgasbord of visual delights tucked in the most unsuspecting places.

More than any other place, this place holds the magic for me. Things happen here and conversations take place that don’t anywhere else.

Yesterday’s foray into my favorite shoe store, On Your Feet, was a case in point. I told Kat this wasn’t your average shoe store. It was a Cinderella shop where slipping into the right pair of shoes could shift your whole story line.

At first we were just caught up in the array of beautiful and comfortable shoes. Then we were captivated by our salesperson Jennifer who is as fascinated with self-discovery as I am and had a daughter who graduated from SCAD. We had an instant connection, became fast friends, and exchanged email addresses along with a promise to return later in the week. (So many shoes. So little time.)

It reminded me of a similar experience six years ago with another salesperson at the same store who sold me a pair of hiking boots and become a confidante and friend in the process. I wrote her a thank you note and was rewarded with a sweet response saying she received my note on her wedding day and it added to her happiness.

As we walked the plaza, we connected with a Native American named Noel who shared the story behind his jewelry pieces, what they represented, and how to properly take care of them. Instead of merely an exchange of money, our interaction was an exchange of energy. I will carry that energy with me each time I wear his earrings.

I told another vendor I lived here for many years and he said the words that melted my heart. “Welcome home.

Yes. My heart is home here.

While Kat met with students, I went to the Southwest Reading Room at the library.  I used to love spending time there writing. Yesterday was no different. I wrote until my computer threatened to lose power.

Then we went to Harry’s Road House where the roadhouse tostada and coconut cream pie were waiting patiently for me to indulge in their timeless appeal. After finishing 21 days of cleansing on Sunday, this was a welcome treat. I even got a glimpse of Harry. It’s comforting that some things don’t change.

The sun was shining, the mountains were majestic, and the pace of a tourist town in off season perfectly matched my mood. It made me realize why taking the time and making the effort to return to the City Different is so essential to my soul.

Today adventure calls so we’re off to the trails to put our hiking boots to good use.

What about you? Where does your heart feel most at home? Where is adventure calling you? I’d love to hear your story in the comments below.

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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – You've Got This

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Congratulations!
You made it through the Here to the New Year in Good Cheer challenge. Let’s pop the cork and toast the successful completion of this challenge and the good fortune that brought us together.
I look forward to supporting you in achieving your deepest desires in 2017 and having a whole lot of fun along the way.
Why does this template look like this and not numbered lists and boxes and categories? Because we’re starting with the basics. Feel free to fancy it up and add as many lists, boxes, and categories as your heart desires. It’s your field guide to use as you like. If you want to add some support materials like day planners and schedules, by all means do.
But let’s start with the basics.
What do you want and why? How do you want to feel? Underneath all the striving and longing is a desire to feel something. Feeling drives everything. So what are those feelings and what are you willing to do to feel that way on a regular basis?
Do you want to feel alive, free, vibrant, rich, confident, healthy, sensuous, brilliant, gorgeous, generous, passionate? What exactly? I want to know. I also want to know what you are willing to do to experience this regularly.
Who do you have to support you and encourage you to along the way? You wouldn’t climb Mt. Everest without securing a Sherpa, setting up base camps, knowing the terrain, or studying the weather conditions. Don’t go into this alone.
Gather your ground crew and intel. Hire a coach, a personal trainer, a chef, someone to clean your house or shovel your snow, get a virtual assistant, do what you can to set yourself up for success.
Build daily wins into your Name It and Claim It blueprint. Our brains are wired for winning, so I want you to sprinkle as many small victories along the way as possible.
Wins can look like anything from stopping to notice the finches have discovered a full bird feeder outside your window to savoring a home cooked meal to finally beating your brother at Euchre.
Here are 6 key concepts to keep in mind as you move into the New Year.

  1. Thinking your way into your goals or intentions doesn’t work.

  2. Feeling your way into them does.

  3. Large, grandiose declarations that you can easily put off don’t work.

  4. Small, consistent daily actions do.

  5. Complicating things distracts, overwhelms, and pulls the focus away from your goals.

  6. Simplifying and being specific about small, easily executable actions allows you to focus and build unstoppable momentum.

You can download the template here.
Please join me on Facebook Live on Saturday, December 31 at 10am CST or Sunday, January 1 at 2pm CST where I’ll be discussing the Year In Review and Name It & Claim It process.
I’m sharing some of our Here to the New Year in Good Cheer tips on Paula Sands Live today at 3pm if you happen to be in our QC viewing area.
I’d love to hear your responses to these questions in the comments below.  Or join me over the weekend on Facebook.
Thanks so much for reading.  Happy New Year!
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P.S. Did I mention I have a Resolve to Evolve journal with your name on it?  Just leave your contact information below and I’ll get one in the mail to you.
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Here to the New Year in Good Cheer – Take Your Time

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When I lived in Santa Fe, I used to housesit and dogsit for people. When a friend’s mother  passed away, she asked if I would stay at her mother’s house until she and her sister decided what to do with it.
This was no ordinary house. This was a gorgeous ranch with a guest house in one of my favorite places on earth. I was sure everyone was mistaken and I was really the one who had died because this was my idea of heaven. The days I got to spend in that home among so many beautiful things were unforgettable.
My friend’s mother was a remarkable woman who had crafted an astonishingly elegant life for herself and the friends, family, horses, and canines that kept her company.
One evening as I sat on the porch watching a spectacular sunset the idea occurred to me that I couldn’t hang on to this place or this experience any more than my friend’s mother could. The only thing I could do was fully appreciate the time I had there.
This is why I’m so protective of this time at the end of the year and seem obsessed with making sense of the year coming to a close.  I’m acutely aware that, as the classic Seals and Croft song goes, “We may never pass this way again.”
So I want to make sure I’m present for it. That I don’t rush through it in my desire to move on to bigger, better, faster, or flashier. I want to take my time and give it the attention a full year of my life deserves. I hope you’ll do the same with yours.
With that said, I’ll take you through the rest of the Year in Review template and tomorrow I’ll give you a different one to look at the year ahead.
What were the products that rocked your world? Every year there is at least one thing I wonder how I ever lived without. Usually it’s an upgrade or improvement to something I use every day. It could be as simple as a new electric toothbrush, slim velvet hangers, a new skincare product, or an app that reminds me to meditate, move, or feed the fish. What are those things for you?
Who were the people who rocked your world? Just as there are products you can’t live without, there are people who make it all worthwhile. It could be your yoga teacher, your rabbi, a rock star, a writer, your next door neighbor, Alexander Hamilton, or the dog-treat-dispensing bank teller. I was inspired by so many people that this will have to be a separate blog post for me.
What books, blogs, movies, music, concerts, conversations, or workshop/seminars/coaching programs/retreats changed the way you think and feel? The thing I like to remember is I am only one thought away from a new perspective and a few dance moves or dog walk away from a better mood. As much as I like to think about things, I don’t act on them until I feel something. Often times I need a nudge in the form of reading material, listening material, phoning a friend, or giving in to the unbridled enthusiasm of two dogs who think they are going for a w-a-l-k.
How did your relationships change or shift this year? Did you get engaged, married, divorced, have a baby, lose a loved one, start a business, hire a coach, fire someone, rekindle a romance, move to a new neighborhood, or retire from your job? When your circumstances change, usually your relations shift as well.
What health, fitness, food, or spiritual practices did you try, tweak, test out, or keep up this year? Maybe you took up archery or turned into a total foodie, much to your surprise and delight. Maybe you started a hip hop class or became a Buddhist. Maybe you did a 21-day cleanse or tried acupuncture. Or maybe you suffered a debilitating illness that turned your world upside down and forced you to do everything differently. How have these new practices defined you or allowed you to reinvent yourself?
What is the smallest change you made that had the biggest impact? Did you start meditating for 5 minutes in the morning or stop drinking soda? Did you start leaving love notes in your spouse’s lunchbox? Did you take up taekwondo with your kid? Did you give up lattes for Lent and never looked back?
And finally, what were your greatest contributions this year? Maybe you spent a Saturday afternoon being a bell-ringer for the Salvation Army. Maybe you took 3 carloads of career ready clothes to Dressed for Success. Maybe you sponsored a child, saved yourself and your children and left an abusive relationship, or fed some local families during the holidays. Whatever you did, make a note of it. It mattered.
Tomorrow I’ll look at what you want to call in for 2017.  But for today, take your time and tell me about your year in the comments below.
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