Stay On The Wall - A Lesson In Distractions




Full Disclosure:

This is my loose interpretation of a sermon I heard. (So no plagiarism intended.) But a good lesson overall. 

Have you ever had a good intention? Maybe even a plan. You were so going to DO this. Whatever THIS was. And then out of nowhere, you feel like Dori in Finding Nemo and your attention is pulled in a dozen different directions. 

If you didn't get that movie reference, you are missing out!

So let me tell you about this guy in the Old Testament named Nehemiah. 

Now don't go all glazy eyes on me. The Bible is full of some pretty cool, flawed, dedicated, crazy and wonderful people. 

So this Nehemiah guy was a pretty normal dude. Nothing flashy. No great outwardly skills. He didn't walk on water or kill a giant. 

In fact, his life was pretty expendable. He was the cupbearer for the king. Which meant he had to take a drink of every glass before the king did. Just to make sure it wasn't poisoned. 

How does one explain that on a resume??

Anyway, Nehemiah's hometown people (The Jews) had been exiled, but were released to go home. Only their home had pretty much been destroyed and the walls around the city were torn down. 

Nehemiah felt really bad about that. He wasn't a leader or a priest, but he wanted to help. And he knew he could help build the wall back. 

So he did a scary thing and asked the king for some time off. The vacation plan for a cupbearer was not that great. In face, the benefits package was pretty slim anyway. Mostly death benefits. 

Anyway, God moved the heart of the king and he granted him the time to go build the wall. 

Sounds simple enough, right? 

Well not everyone was in favor of that wall being built. And that's where the distractions came in. One delay after another. People forming Facebook groups to oppose. TikTok videos protesting. Zoning issues. 

Even a group of so-called friends who tried to lure him off the wall to talk about the progress, but they really wanted to stall the process. 

It would have been easy for him to give up. Or decide to take a break. I'm sure there were days when coming off that wall sounded great. 

But he didn't. He chose to stay on the wall. To finish what he started. To do what he felt was the right thing to do. Despite the distractions. 

So let me ask you this. 

What is your wall? 

What do you feel strongly that you need to do? How can you make a difference? It doesn't have to be as large as a fortress around a city. It can be helping one person. Or fulfilling a dream. Or completing a goal. 

And you have to know, that as soon as you truly commit to your 'wall', the distractions will come. 

Things and people and circumstances will try to stop you. Now, you still have to be responsible and reliable. You can't forsake the rest of your life for one cause. But you can learn to limit the distractions. 

Turn off the phone (or the ringer). 

Limit the mindless activities that waste your time. 

Don't take on so many extra curricular obligations.

Learn the power of saying no. Without excuses. 

Don't be influenced by so-called friends who don't truly believe in you or your 'wall'. 

My Hopefuls, walls are not built in a day. They take dedication and preserverance. And you can't keep coming down!

I believe in you. In your abilities. In the drive to do something meaningful. You don't have to be powerful or famous or rich to make a difference. Even ordinary people like us can make an impact. 

You just have to STAY ON THE WALL!

And always

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

www.hopeboulevard.com

















 



Permission To Forgive Yourself Mom - A Mother's Day Gift To You

What do you want/need for Mother's Day?

Flowers are sweet. Dinners are special. Cards and calls are endearing.

A day at the spa, or the lake, or in bed (or fill in the blank for wherever you want to spend your day) is refreshing.

But my gift for you on this Mother’s Day is not tangible, frame-able, or even hash-tag-able.

It is, however, priceless. It can also be difficult, because it’s a gift you have to give yourself, and some of us are truly bad at that concept.

I'm talking about the gift of forgiving yourself. 

Do you know what I’m guilty of? Scrolling through social media and comparing my life to someone else. What? You mean, you don’t?? Well, good for you. (Even if I don’t quite believe that.)

I compare my social life. I compare my relationship (or lack thereof). I compare my contentment/happiness. I sometimes even compare my struggles.

And before you judge me too harshly, you know what many of you do? 

Compare your parenting style/skill/scorecard with the ‘other moms’ out there. And if you do that too long doubts will begin to form and guilt will soon follow.

You will start to ask; “Are my kids happy?” “Do I do enough with my kids?” “Should I enroll them in this/that/the other?” “Do they stay inside too much?” “Do they stay outside too much?” “What do they think of me?” “How can I buy them that outfit/phone/game that everyone else has?”

Stop already!

Are you a perfect parent? Probably not. Are the people you compare yourself to the perfect parent? No to that as well.

Here’s the truth. We make mistakes with our kids. I did. I did when they were small children and I still do today even though they are adults. I made the wrong choice. I was selfish at times. I just simply had no idea what to do in some cases. And that’s ok. Because I know I did the best I could, with what I had at the time.

And that’s really the key. Children are not fragile pieces of china that will break under the slightest of pressure. They are tough. They are resilient. They bounce back. And up. And down. Bouncing is literally something they do best.

The biggest thing your child needs to know is that they are safe with you, you have their back, and you love them unconditionally. The other highs and lows they work through.

Now, it is true, that kids will often push back. They will rebel, complain, pressure, use guilt tactics, and play one parent against the other. They are human, after all, and they want their way. They will be upset and angry with things that happen. It is ok for them to have those feelings.

What’s not ok is for you to take on the weight of all those feelings. If you specifically know of a mistake you made, and you feel it is important to own up to that, tell your child. It is a learning tool for when they have to admit when they are wrong and it will build trust because they will know you are being fair.

They will forgive you if you are sincere with them. You then have to learn to forgive yourself.                    

You are not responsible for every little thing that happens in their life. And you are not obligated to provide them with the life someone else photoshops onto social media or splashes across Tik-Tok.

You are only required to love completely and do the best you can.

Parenting is not a competition. Either with your neighbor or your partner. It’s a marathon that starts with the first cry and doesn’t end until your last breath.

Enjoy all the moments. The big ones and the little ones.

Celebrate the victories. Comfort each other in the losses.

And most of all: Forgive Yourself.

For being human. For being imperfect. For learning as you go.

I learned so many things from my mom, even though I didn't always agree or follow her advice. I have tried to teach and be an example to my daughters, even though they haven't always agreed or followed my advice. 

Consistency and communication are vital. Acceptance fits right in there too. 

My Hopeful Moms, it is my goal for you today to give yourself a break. Not just a physical one, but an emotional one.

Don't judge your life by someone else's Facebook cover. 

Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Believe in yourself. 

And have a:

Happy Mother's Day

And always...

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

www.hopeboulevard.com 



It's Time To Think About Quitting (And Feel Ok About It)

"No one likes a quitter." 

"Quitters never win and winners never quit." 

Those are two of the more well-known quotes, but there is a gazillion out there. All designed to motivate you to persevere, push through, never give up. 

You've heard these sayings most of your life. You've probably repeated these sayings to our kids or friends. 

We have all heard stories of someone just on the edge of a breakthrough that thought about quitting but didn't, and wow, look at them now. 

And to some extent, this advice has its place and purpose. We shouldn't go around quitting every time we have a setback or a bad day. There is no forward movement in life if we consistently hit the reset button. 

But there comes a time when a person has just had enough. Whether it was a misguided career choice, an unhealthy relationship, or a self-destructive habit.  Even things we start with the best of intentions and give our best shot sometimes go off the rails. 

It's a delicate balance between knowing what's worth fighting for and knowing when to walk away. 

Some of those decisions no one can make for you. You have to evaluate the benefit of the situation versus the cost it has on your mental, emotional, and even physical health. Your peace of mind ties directly into the well-being of your body. You need to seriously consider quitting anything that robs you of peace and joy. 

And here are a few other things worth quitting. 

Quit Living In The Past

We have all done and said things we wish we could take back. We have hurt people. We have made bad decisions. We may have even intentionally done something we regret terribly now. 

But you have to stop living with those regrets. If you need to go to someone and make peace, then do that. If that water is too far under the bridge, then find a new body of water for your future. 

Your past does not have to define or follow you. 

This goes for if you were the one hurt. Pain, grief, loss, betrayal. Those are difficult setbacks to overcome. Prayer. Time. Therapy. Ask for, and get, the help you need. But quit reliving the hurt. And quit expecting the next person down the line to do the same thing to you. 

You can push people away out of fear. And you might protect yourself from a certain amount of disappointment, but you will also miss out on a tremendous amount of love and friendships. 

Learn from your mistakes and the mistakes of others. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. Then quit living in the past and embrace your beautiful life. 

Quit Being Your Own Worst Critic

Trust me, there are enough people around to point out your flaws and shortcomings. You don't need to join in the chorus. 

Quit comparing yourself to others. Whether it is appearance, status, money, or position. Each of us has our own journey. You don't know everything they have gone through to 'get' what you think you want. 

Determine your own standards and ideals. Work on ways to fulfill your own dreams. Give yourself a break when you stumble. 

Of course, there will always be something you can improve. Make your health a priority. Get more organized. Make time for your loved ones. If there are legitimate things you can work on to be a better you, then make those choices. Not from the standpoint of a critic, but to improve your life and those you love. 

Quit Allowing Yourself To Be Manipulated

Maybe you are a people pleaser and have a hard time saying no. 

Maybe you feel trapped in a situation or relationship. 

The people on the other side of the equation will soon pick up on the fact that they can get their way. And they may even love you, but have learned how to shape the conversation to their benefit.

It might be passive-aggressive behavior, looking for sympathy, or even blatant manipulation.

And this, my friends, is a hard one. Once someone has used successfully used this tactic they will suddenly become confused and even offended when it stops working. They will ramp up their approach to get you back in line. 

I struggle with this one, I'll be honest. I can tell you that firm boundaries are a must. And the road to control did not happen immediately, and it won't necessarily be an immediate fix. Especially if your goal is to salvage the friendship/relationship. 

Start with the small nos. Work your way up. Have a hard conversation on the reasons you can no longer be their go-to for problem-solving. This may be your hardest quit, but I promise you the release from that burden will be the best reward. 

Quit Being On The Fence

The most confusing place you will ever be is on the fence. Caught in limbo about a decision. 

The origins of the phrase dealt with property fences. They defined ownership. So straddling a fence meant you were not completely on either property. There was no commitment to either side. 

We use this phrase today when we can't settle on a choice. We have weighed our options so long, it's just a weight now. 

It's time to quit sitting on the fence. Whatever 'it' is, make a decision. 

Maybe you have invested in a new hobby, but are afraid of failing. 

Maybe you have read a dozen self-help books, but not taken the steps. 

Maybe your goals haven't been reached and you are questioning yourself. 

Maybe you have filled out that job application but never hit the send button. 

Maybe there is someone you want to ask out, but you are not sure they will say yes. 

So, let's just be real. 

Your first attempt at a new hobby will probably not be perfect. 

Self-help books are suggestions, and they may not all work for you, but I guarantee none will work if you don't start. 

Even with hard work, some goals are hard to obtain. Never question your decision to start. If you want/need a break, then take it. It will still be there when you want to come back. 

Sending a job application doesn't mean you have to accept it. And even if they turn you down, it will feel good that you took the risk. 

The same about asking someone out. Yes, they may say no. But they could also say yes. And a no isn't an indictment on you. They could have a dozen reasons that now (or you) are not right for them. But you can't just stay on the fence. Either ask or risk never knowing. 

Life is lived once you get off the fence. 

It's Time To Think About Quitting

My Hopefuls, today I want you to seriously think about quitting. 

Don't hang on to habits or relationships that drain you and damage your well-being. Take charge of your happiness and live your life on purpose. If this means walking away, then tie up those laces and get moving. 

I would never encourage you to give up on people or situations that still need your patience and time. I'm not advocating for complete selfishness. 

I'm trusting you to analyze the dynamics in your life and move forward with the ones worthy of your time and commitment and to QUIT those that aren't. 

And as always....

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

www.hopebouleard.com 


 



Yes, It's Ok To Be Sad On Valentine's Day (But Only For A Minute)

There are few holidays more stressful than Valentine’s Day. 

There, I said it. 

Sure, it’s supposed to be the best one. Full of love, romance, and candy! 

But what if it’s not. What if Valentine’s Day stresses you out or makes you sad?

There’s a lot of pressure around this day signified by hearts and chubby cherubs wearing diapers with arrows. 

If you are in a good relationship there is an expectation to at least do as good, if not better, than last year. Even though your partner may say not to worry about it and don’t do anything – you know deep down they want some outward display of your affections. 

If you are in a new relationship – well that’s a whole new level of stress. How much is too much? How much is too little? Do you tip your hand and risk pushing them away? Do you hold back out of caution and risk pushing them away? 

If you are in a bad relationship it’s just another sting to the heart. Another reminder of the pain and disappointment of feeling rejected, unworthy, or discarded. Any gesture is suspect and feels like a show for the outside world but you know the true story. 

If you are single – then it’s easy to also feel defective. Or a failure. Even with the brave face and an independent spirit and even on days when you enjoy your freedom, Valentine’s Day can sometimes feel like an indictment of your self-worth or place in society. 

And – yes. All of those scenarios sound negative. And – no. Not everyone feels that way regardless of which situation they are in. There are those who truly are happy and content in either their current relationship or their current single status. 

BUT – there are those who aren’t. There are those who are sad. Confused. Anxious. 

And what I’m here to tell you today is that it’s OK to feel that way. 

You are not wrong, bad, ungrateful, selfish, or desperate if you are currently in a funky state about Valentine’s Day. 

I give you permission to feel your feelings. 

For a minute. 

But that’s all. 

Because there is so much more to this life (and relationships) than the actions and words expressed on this one calendar day of the year. 

If you are in a good relationship – be proud of it. They take work and dedication to sustain. Don’t get caught up in the hype to “prove” your love. It’s obvious you show affection and attention all the other days to reach this sweet spot. Yes – do something extra nice to honor the day, but don’t make it a competition between the two of you to see who does more/better. And if your partner somehow fails to meet your pre-conceived notion of what they should have done; cut them some slack. If you feel valued and safe in a relationship don’t ask them to jump through hoops one day of the year. 

Same advice if you are in a new relationship. Scale back the expectations. Stay off the social media posts where someone does a dramatic gesture just to pull at your heartstrings. Number one, you don’t know if it’s real. And number two, you don’t know the dynamic of their relationship. Don’t start keeping score at this early junction on their Valentine’s Day skills. (In fact, don’t start keeping score at all. It’s unhealthy and can easily backfire.)  

If you want to give them something or do something special, then do it. Be respectful of where you think they might be emotionally. But a simple gesture is perfectly fine. Don’t use this day to rush into saying “I Love You”. If it’s time, fine, but always know that comes with a risk and might be better saved for a different day. 

And if the other person doesn’t return with their own gesture or gift, try not to read too much into it. They were probably stressing (just like you) about what to do. Everyone brings their own fears and insecurities into new relationships. Don’t make a deal out of it. Don’t even bring it up. If they are a keeper, they will prove it in many more ways than a flower delivery or an overpriced, flashy card. 

It’s a little more complicated if your relationship is strained. This day almost feels like a betrayal. You put your hopes, dreams, and commitment into your partner, and now things are falling apart. Maybe they have distanced themselves, or you just don’t feel it anymore. The reasons for either are too many to mention in this post. All I can say is relationships are hard. And they will go through valleys and rough spots. If it is just one of those; push through. Talk it out. Go to counseling. Pray about it. 

Don’t do anything insincere or half-heartedly just because of the date. If you need to make amends, then do so. If you truly feel the relationship is over, then an honest conversation should take place. Ideally, not on Valentine’s Day, but don’t prolong the inevitable. And if the relationship has moved beyond strained and into abusive, then give yourself the best Valentine ever with the gift of loving yourself enough to move on. 

NOW – for those of us who are single – it’s usually a mixed bag of feelings. Yay – we don’t have to spend money on trinkets or elaborate gestures. Yay – we don’t have the anxiety of the what/when/how. 

BUT – there is also an inescapable truth on this day above all others, that we are un-partnered in this world. And that’s not always a good feeling. Sometimes it’s a downright rotten feeling. 

Most February 14ths brush right on by me. I am usually not phased or flustered by it. I have been single for quite a while. Not always by design, but for mostly good reasons. I have adapted and accepted my current status. I’ve even adjusted pretty well, in my opinion. But this year it hit a little harder. I’m getting older. Maybe more tired. I’ve recently experienced situations that would have been made easier (maybe), if I had someone to kick ideas around with, hold my hand, and help me with things I’m not particularly good at. 

This year I’m a little sad for Valentine Day’s to roll around. And, at first, I was mad at myself. Ashamed. How silly of me. But then I decided it was ok. My feelings were legit. Not terminal, but completely normal. And then I decided I couldn’t be the only one. 

So I wanted to take this opportunity to tell you that it’s ok if you are not thrilled with the upcoming lover’s holiday. Regardless of your relationship status, if you are just not feeling it this year, own it. 

Don’t wallow. No pity parties allowed. Your life (my life) is not defined by this one aspect. Take a moment (or two) to live in the moment. Then decide to move on to the next moment that is awaiting your attention. 

Whatever it is in your life that makes you happy, fulfilled, joyful – that’s where you focus. Surround yourself with people who love you. (Because love is not confined to a romantic connection.) In fact, you can use this day to tell anyone you love – just that. That you love them. Support them. Appreciate them. 

And then do something nice for yourself.  

My Hopefuls, I give you permission to be sad, but not to stay sad. 

Life is a beautiful, thrilling, one-of-a-kind adventure. Don’t let one day define you or your journey.

Be thankful, love others, and eat the candy!

And always….

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

www.hopeboulevard.com

Is Your Life A Circus? (Then Learn To Be The Ringmaster)

Do you ever feel like your life is a three-ring circus? 

And when you feel that way, does that make you feel bad, overwhelmed, or stressed? 

Why does the circus get such a bad rap? I mean, most people love a good circus and have for centuries. 

In fact, the Romans were some of the first to have a circus, which is where the name comes from. It is the Latin word for circle. 

What if I told you I WANTED your life to be like a circus? 

Would you stop reading and move on? No. Don't. Hear me out!

A circus is actually pretty amazing. It is a collection of trained individuals who present a precise, organized, and choreographed show. 

The key is to have an experienced Ringmaster to keep everything running smoothly.

That's where you come in! I'm betting you already possess the skills and wisdom to turn what you call a circus into a well-oiled life machine. 

Come see what I mean. 

I Bet You Are A Great Animal Trainer

Ok, I'm not going to call the children in your life animals, but I wouldn't be surprised if you hadn't thought it a time or two. (No judgment here, says the kettle.) 

And while the animal rights groups have fought (as they should) to keep the treatment of circus animals safe and humane, I'm talking about a different type of training. 

Our children (and grandchildren) do need training. The animals in the circus are taught to follow instructions and to heed certain guidance. They are given training and preparation for their moment in the spotlight. 

Your kids need that same training. I'm obviously not advocating for mistreatment. Just stay in line with the theme here. Children need to be prepared for their entrance into the world as adults. 

They need to be taught when to be polite, when to move forward, and when to stay still. They need to respect others around them and know when it is their turn to shine and their turn to help others shine. 

Discipline and kindness are not inherent traits. They must both be taught and passed on to our children while they are young enough to absorb and then emulate them. 

And speaking of training, let's talk about the other adults in your life. Friends, family, relationships. I don't expect you to try (or want to) 'train' or manipulate another person, but I am suggesting that we teach people how to treat us. 

Set boundaries. Be consistent. Never tolerate abuse. Know the difference between a welcome mat and a doormat. Welcome others into your life, but don't allow them to wipe their dirt and trash all over you. 

I Bet You Are A Great Tightrope Walker

I have terrible balance. I am not graceful. I can't skate. I can't dance. Walking the balance beam in high school gym class was something I hated, because I always, always, fell off. 

How those people get up stories high under a circus top and walk across on a rope is beyond me. Not to mention the turns and flips they do while up there. 

But I can tell you a thing or two about balance in the real world. And I'm pretty sure you can too. Today's world pulls us in several different directions. We have to work to stay focused on what's in front of us; the task at hand. Knowing what's important and what's foolishness. 

Yes, we all need a break to regroup and refresh, but the strategy is to balance the good with the bad. The work with the fun. We have to learn to turn on a dime to put out one fire and then get right back to another one. To keep the priorities in the right order. It's a challenging task for sure. 

And sometimes we slip. But we know we can't stay down. We have to get back up there. People depend on you. They count on you. And you do your very best to be there. 

I Bet You Are A Great Juggler

Along with being able to walk a tight rope, you must also be an accomplished juggler. 

Work, family, friends, finances, self-care time, how in the world do we all get it done and keep everything in the air? 

You find a way! You know when to ask for help. You know when to say no. You know when to let something drop, and when it is ok to add it back in. 

And the key is practice. Even the best jugglers in the world didn't start that way. They practiced, they dropped things, they kept honing their skill. You can do that too. 

I Bet You Are A Great Clown

Now at face value, I know that doesn't sound like a compliment, but stay with me. 

And honestly, clowns creep me out and on most occasions, I'm not a fan. 

But the origin of the clown is not creepy; we've just made it that way in modern times. 

And clowns were not jesters; which I did find interesting. A jester was someone who mocked or made jokes at their or others' expense. They were also typically thought to be fools. 

A clown, on the other hand, was a professional performer whose job was to entertain people and make them laugh. 

Now, again, I'm not saying it is your job to be a performer for the people around you, but I am saying that I'm willing to bet you do a great job at making people happy. 

There are a million things you can do to help someone, but making them laugh or smile is often more memorable than a completed task. 

Putting people at ease. Being kind-hearted. Being quick to offer a pleasant response. Being joyful. Always doing your best to spread happiness to those you love. 

Be Your Own Ringmaster

My Hopefuls, life is challenging. And stressful. And busy. And beautiful. 

You have opportunities every day to do/say something positive or do/say something negative. You can't always choose what happens to you, but your reaction to it is always your choice. 

Maybe your life does feel like a circus. Maybe the animals are restless and hungry. Maybe the tightrope is getting slack. Maybe your juggling skills need refined. And maybe your clown does feel more like a jester. 

DON'T GIVE UP!

Embrace the circus. Become your own Ringmaster. Take back charge of your life. If you need help with organizing; there are apps and other tools for that. If you need better parenting strategies; there are classes and books for that. 

If you've lost your own smile or happiness, then work to find it back. Through a break. Through counseling. Whatever works best for you. 

We all only get one life. Circus or not, we owe it to ourselves to make the best of it. 

I believe in you, and I look forward to seeing you under Life's Big Top!

And until then...

Always

Hope With Abandon

Hope Out

www.hopeboulevard.com 

 



Stay On The Wall - A Lesson In Distractions

Full Disclosure: This is my loose interpretation of a sermon I heard. (So no plagiarism intended.) But a good lesson overall.  Have you ever...