The Power of Words by Aimee Enlow

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What are the first words you hear when you wake up in the morning? It might be your husband who rolls over and whispers an “I love you” in your ear. It might be your 5-year-old who climbs in bed with you to ask about breakfast. Maybe it’s a teenager asking where his gym shoes are. It might even be that the alarm calls you out of bed, and you stop at the bathroom mirror and tell yourself how exhausted you look.

Sometimes I think the first words we hear in the morning set the tone for the whole day. An “I love you” that starts your day, tells you something important. It tells you that YOU are important to someone else.

But you really can’t control what others say to start your day. What you can control is your own voice. Your own words. You own perspective of who you are.

Women can be brutal. Most especially to ourselves. We look at the same face, hair, and body in the mirror. Every. Single. Day. We see every flaw. Everything we don’t like about our looks. And rare is the woman who has grown to the point of truly accepting herself. Flaws and all.

But I digress. Let’s step back to the mirror for a minute. What if you stopped and looked into your eyes. What if you could see your tender heart and your genuine concern and care for others? What if your words to yourself filled you with confidence instead of a doubt? What if you were intentional about finding your best features instead of focusing on your flaws? What if?

I wonder what your day would be like if your first words to yourself were an expression of the beautiful, unique, gifted, loving, caring masterpiece you are created to be. And maybe those positive words of affirmation will bring you one step closer to reaching your full potential. Potential is more easily attainable when you start from a positive place of confidence.

Think about the words you dream of hearing first thing in the morning, and let those be the words you speak to that beautiful woman in the mirror. See the beauty. See the potential. Tell yourself you can. Tell yourself you are…

The See-Saw of Life by Aimee Enlow

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I remember as a child, how much fun it was to go to the park with my friends. Swings. Slides. Monkey bars. And my favorite, the see-saw. I think these contraptions have been outlawed from parks because of their danger to young children. I think the caution is over-rated. There are some amazing life lessons that can be learned on a see-saw.

In case you’re not sure, a see-saw is a real-life example of a scientific concept we learned in physics class. According to the internet, it is a “rigid arm (like a board or pole), that hinges on a pivot point called a fulcrum”. In layman’s terms, it’s a long board with handles sitting on a big triangle. Two kids get on, one on each end, hang onto the handles and take turns pushing each other into the air.

So, what does this little trip down memory lane have to do with me, you may be wondering? Life is like a see-saw. Maybe not the stuff of “forest-gumpion-wisdom” but at least a good analogy. I’m a firm believer that all of life is balancing act. There is a center point that controls the activity on each end of the board. It is a scientific principle that applies to where we live.

You must be centered in order to remain balanced. The fulcrum pivot-point supports the board to let it move freely and effortlessly. What is your center? What is it that you can count on to provide the support you need for balance? Maybe you have friends or family that keep you centered. Maybe it’s your faith that provides that centered support for life’s ups and downs. And to that end …

What goes up, must come down. The board of your life is going to move. Sometimes you’re up. Up in the air. Legs dangling beneath you with the ground unknown. But up in the air you find excitement and freedom. You are at eye level with the birds and tree-tops. But for every up, there is a down. Feet on the ground. Sometimes stable. Sometimes stuck. But grounded.

You can’t go it alone. No one can ride a see-saw as a single. You must have a partner for it to work. The lesson? The best way to manage the ups-and-downs of life is to do it in community. Who encourages you when you’re down? Who provides you the momentum you need to rise above and soar? Who is it that gives you a stable ride when you need to leave the clouds and return to the ground. You need community. And you need a community you can trust. Who trusts you.

Nothing is forever. Whether you find yourself soaring or standing, things will change. Whether you’re panicked in the clouds, or planted securely on the ground, things will change.

Balance. Remember the principle of the see-saw. Find your center. Weather the ups and downs. Surround yourself in community. Hang on, because what comes up, must come down.

Just remember to enjoy the ride!

Date Night Boundaries by Aimee Enlow

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Okay. I know this sounds more like a video game than a date night how-to. But in reality, it is one of the most important things you can do when you are trying to prioritize date night with your spouse.

Having a weekly date night is absolutely essential to a healthy marriage. Like brushing your teeth is essential to healthy teeth. And actually, brushing your teeth is pretty important for a healthy marriage. But that’s another blog.

Just carving out a time for date night is a small victory. But setting aside time to date only gets you halfway to the goal. Now it’s time to focus on how you spend those precious, valuable moments together.

Setting boundaries in life are important. Setting boundaries for date night are imperative. Boundaries for date night can be the difference in accomplishing a great night of connection or ending the night in crumbling defeat. Here are some ideas to ensure date night success!

This is not the time to rehash last night’s argument. Before you leave for your date, do what you need to do with whatever is between you. Apologize. Agree to disagree. Call a truce. Whatever it takes to put the barriers to connection behind you.

This is not the time to discuss unpleasant issues regarding children. In fact, this is not the time to discuss children. Period. If you must debrief about anything related to your children, set a time limit and a timer. When the timer goes off, the discussion is over. This is a night for your marriage, not your children. And ask any family therapist. A healthy marriage is the best thing for your children.

Have some fun topics already in mind for conversation. Remember when you were dating? You talked about everything. Hopes and dreams. Excitement and anticipation of the future. So instead of letting the talk of finances and yard work dominate your conversation, why not spend your energy dreaming about your next vacation. And I mean the one without kids. Share your passions in life. Answer the question, “If I could work for free, what would I do?” Light and fun. That’s the goal.

Try something new together. I read one time that learning something new causes your brain to release the same chemical as when you’re falling in love. So, do it! Get a crush on your husband all over again! Brainstorm with your mate to uncover something you’ve always wanted to do. Rock-climbing. Indoor sky-diving. Outdoor sky-diving. Ballroom dance lessons. Attending a gourmet cooking class together. Painting. Be creative. And on that note …

Try a new restaurant.  What country would you like to visit? Find a restaurant that serves that cuisine and take a mini-vacation for dinner. Might be a great time to plan the trip, whether real or imaginary!

Setting boundaries may sound like work. And it sort of is, until you get used to it. Then you won’t want to date any other way.

No go have some fun together!

Dream Big Dreams by Aimee Enlow

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I recently heard a speech by one of my favorite actors. Denzel Washington was addressing a group of college students at their commencement ceremony. He said, “Don’t be afraid to fail big. To dream big. Remember dreams without goals are just dreams and they ultimately fuel disappointment.”

I found these words to be profound. Most of us are encouraged to dream big dreams. But his dreams were born out of failure. He had just flunked out of college. He had no ideas or plans or dreams. But, through the encouraging words of a woman sitting under the dryer in his mom’s beauty shop, he was challenged.

And then, he made a choice. He did not allow his failure to define him. He chose to leave his failure behind, and dream a dream to propel him forward. He chose to stand on top of his failure and be motivated to achieve his dream.

What about you? I think we sometimes focus so much on our failure, that we forget that failure is often life’s greatest stepping stone to achieve our greatest dream.

I found these words of his to also be encouraging: “Dreams without goals … ultimately fuel disappointment.” An interesting process he explores. Success can begin with failure. Failure, given the right environment, can fuel a dream. But the distance between a dream and its realization is measured in goals set and achieved. Someone once said, “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.”

Don’t be defined by your failure. Use your failure as a stepping stone to realize your dreams. Don’t allow failure to be the ending. Reframe it. Let failure challenge you to a new beginning instead.

Don’t let fear determine the size of your dream. Instead, let a big failure challenge you to dream an even bigger dream. Fear robs us. Overcome the fear, embrace the failure and let it launch you to new heights of dreaming!

Let your dream be driven by your goals. Put tangible, measurable, realistic goals to your dream. What will it take for you to realize the dream? Write down practical, manageable steps and keep a record of your progress. Be sure to give yourself deadlines.

Success is rarely an inclined plane. “One step forward, two steps backward,” isn’t just an adage. It is usually proven. Don’t be discouraged by setbacks. Know that you will have days that don’t go as you planned. There will be up’s and down’s. Your success will not likely be a straight line up.  

Keep your eye on the dream. Don’t lose sight of where you’re headed. Don’t let the momentary frustrations and fractional failures stop your forward progress.  Give yourself permission to make mistakes, to amend your goals and even tweak your dream now and then.

Perhaps achieving your dream is more about the process than the end. Keep the dream in view, but enjoy the journey.