Christmas Craze!

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Can’t you just smell the gingerbread? My kids put that house together and we had a lot of fun doing it.
I love this season. Egg nog (lactose-free, of course), pumpkin pie, hot chocolate, chocolate, more chocolate. (Seriously, I got more chocolate as gifts from my students than any other year, but very little evidence made it back to the house…but I digress.)
Speaking of my students, I got so many Starbucks addiction perpetuators (aka gift cards) and gift cards to Target, Einstein’s bagels, Krispy Kreme, Panera and Jamba Juice. Sweet!
But one thing I look forward to every year is my mom’s Puerto Rican seasonal cooking.

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Mmmm! Yummy pasteles! Sweet rice! And, since I’m of legal drinking age, coquito. What is it about holidays and food?
Anyway, truly I want to share about how this Christmas sort of blindsided us this year. I guess, like many others, we just have been so busy with regular life. Or maybe the tragedies of this year just make it really hard to celebrate. I don’t know if you can relate, but this much I do know: we owe it to the loving people in our lives and the memory of those gone before us to make this one of the best Christmases ever. Not because of the stuff, but because of love.
The reason for the season may be Jesus, but what about him? Christmas is the miracle of a God, who in his infinite wisdom, gave us a living example of love, compassion, healing, overcoming obstacles, and forgiveness in a baby born in less than ideal circumstances who would eventually die in less than ideal circumstances. Why? Call me crazy, but I believe he did this because he knew that our hearts so easily turn dark, insecure and negative and he wanted to show us that it doesn’t matter where you come from, who your parents are (or aren’t), what you do or think. He gave us hope that you can always make a change in your life and you can always make a difference. This Christmas let this permeate your mind and every interaction. Let love, hope, kindness,forgiveness, and optimism be your Christmas craze.
And then make sure you pass the pumpkin pie, please. ;0)

Isaiah 9:6 NLT
“6 For a child is born to us,
a son is given to us.
The government will rest on his shoulders.
And he will be called:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”

Happy holidays. And please, have a very merry Christmas.

Joyfully,
Joyful Pursuit

2012 Recap: Apologies and Life Unedited

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I obviously must first start by apologizing for keeping my thoughts and lessons to myself. I apologize.

Whew! I feel much better. **Sigh**  I do promise not to make up for lost time with long-winded crazy details.  You’re too smart for that. ;0)

Well, much has happened since I last shared my toughts at the beginning of this year. While this page has been quiet, my life has been far from that.  This picture is of my now 6 year old daughter.  She is such an inspiration to me and yet can drive me CRAZY!!! Probably this happens because she reminds me so much of myself in many ways. Mirrors are often difficult to look into regularly.  This is especially true when they are haunting reminders of what you desparately want to change, but just haven’t made the valiant effort (yet) to follow through.

At the beginning of the year I was really excited about discovering what my true calling in life might be. My Joyful Pursuit. Little did I know that I needed only to look to my kids for the inspiration and motivation to do what I had already known in my heart I loved to do: share my voice.
I love to sing. I love music. I love teaching swim lessons. I love swimming. I love learning. I love coaching. I love solving problems. I love sharing what I’ve learned. I love people. I love to talk. I love to write. I LOVE TO EDIT. Huh? I know, I know: random, right? Well, it turns out this love to edit is not so random after all.  I do it every time I read a book, article, Facebook post (I know, sorry!), blog, or newsletter.  Now I know the purpose of this gift/thorn in my flesh:

My God-given calling is to help others find their voice…and use it to the best of their ability (or mine).

The reality is we don’t always know the best way to communicate our thoughts.  With technology and smart-everything we hardly have to think for ourselves.  Why remember when we can Google it or look it up on Wikipedia?  I love helping people figure out better ways to say what they are thinking without offending or confusing the other person. It’s like solving a riddle.

I had an amazing opportunity to work on a book project with a man who I met briefly in Los Angeles (through the network marketing business that I was in) and has become a friend, brother, and a mentor.  (He also happens to be a part of the entertainment ministry I was a part of while attending music school.  Small world right?) You have NO idea how much agonizing I went through just to even accpet the idea that I would be the final/main editor of his first, full-fledged book should I choose to accept this mission. At first, I assumed I would merely do a rough overview and just get it ready for a professional editor. No problem.  But after I kept saying, “until you send this to the editor”, he finally made it abundantly clear that he had no intentions of sending anywhere else afer I was done. What an honor. I thought I was going to throw up. But, you know, this strange thing happened: I gained confidence. I found a flow…momentum. I found my niche. Organic editing.

I’d like to think the way I work is very different than the big shots in that I like to go over the book live either over the phone or in person to get a real-time feel of what the person is wanting to convey to their audience and to get my questions about the text answered quickly.  The best part of this organic process is that the author has the authenticity of their voice without losing credibility, and I get to coach them through those moments when they either want to give up or hold back.  Their vision and dream of sharing the book within them comes alive! This is a win-win!

So now the question, “what does this have to do with your daughter?”  Great question. Do you see how free she looks jumping through the seaweed on the beach?  This girl is mostly fearless, extremely addicted to laughing and having fun and basically loves to enjoy life.  I was none of those things. Or was I? I watched her that day with a newfound respect for her freedom (which also happens to be what her name means).  Little did I know that by naming my children I was not only giving them a monniker to live up to, but that in those names I would find a reflection of a girl long ago enslaved by insecurity. A Dreamer. A Doer. A Bright Light. A Lioness of God. Freedom.

Ironically, through editing a book I learned to live my life unedited.

1st Guest Blog Post of 2012!!!!!

I am so honored to share this blog post with all of you!  A friend of mine from when I attended Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, Jason Dombrow, is probably the most charismatic, funny, and lively person that I know.  Jason is an accomplished actor/comedian and professional organizer (NAPO member).  He has pursued EVERYTHING under the sun from music to finance (He was even a stock broker!)….seriously, I don’t think there is much this guy has not pursued. This is exactly why he is the perfect person to have as a guest blogger and I couldn’t have asked for a better person/blog post to start the year!!!!

Well, without further delay, here is his short, but sweet, thought for the day (or the year!) with quite the clever title, I must say!!!! Thanks again Jason!!!!!!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Start

——

Love

By Jason C. Dombrow

I seem to be forgetting a little too often these days. Who was I calling? Where was I going? What was I doing? What did I want to be when I grew up? When “reality” sets in, and I open my eyes to look at the circumstances of my life (at 35 years old), I’m left with two questions. “What happened? And, “How did I get here?”

I have spent years trying to figure it all out. To get it right. To find the one thing that will make me, well, “Happy.” Is living a life to pay bills the life I want? Highly Doubtful! However, as much as I struggle and fight for the life I want, I’m failing and falling behind.

Now, I know this may sound depressing. However, truth be told, what I’m forgetting here is that it’s perfectly okay to “Start Over Love!” (Clever title, huh?) After all, I’m the one in the driver’s seat! I’m the one who’s gotten distracted, who’s forgotten to follow my passion. I’m the one who’s stopped taking the needed actions to attain my goals. And even if life has found a comfy little groove, and another year is over, it’s not time to give up! It’s time to BEGIN! Now is the time to refocus – To find a way. The way! It’s NOT too late. I’m not too OLD. It’s time to LOVE MY LIFE again!

And if I forget, I know I can always “Start Over Love!”

Jason Dombrow lives in Los Angeles, CA and has a thriving professional organization business called  “Under the Clutter”. He also enjoys planning live comedy events in the Los Angeles Area as well as performing and posting hilarious and thought-provoking YouTube videos. If you are interested in contacting him, or learning more about him, you can go to Jason’s Facebook Page, or check out his organization website, Under The Clutter. ~NM

Happy November Everyone!!!

Ok, so life has been very distracting and very busy…but I am still on a very deliberate Pursuit.  I apologize for not keeping my end of the bargain to be consistent in my blog posts.  So, to help draw you back in, I thought I would ask YOU what you would Joyfully Pursue (or are already, if you are one of the lucky ones).  Please feel free to choose more than one option and also feel free to leave your choice in the comments if your choice is not listed (I needed to keep the poll fairly simple).

HOPE In The Face Of Discouragement

“My enemies’ insults make me feel as if my bones were broken.They are always saying,’“Where is your God?”’ Why am I so sad? Why am I so upset? I should put my HOPE in God and keep praising him,my Savior and my God.”
http://bible.us/Ps42.10.NCV (emphasis added)

HOPE: I thought this scripture was an interesting twist on HOPE. When you feel beaten down, put your HOPE in God. Hmm, so when something physically/emotionally happens, do something spiritual in return. I don’t think David is trying to “Get over it”, but I do think he seems to realize that dwelling on the negative & destructive things in life only makes matters worse. Maybe he felt God could change his situation. Maybe, having seen God work in his own life, he knew God cared about him & what he was going through. All through the Psalms David is praising, complaining to, & petitioning God. Some of his situations changed for the better, but some, honestly, did not. Still he kept a positive perspective: he had HOPE.
Life is always going to have its ups & downs. Where your HOPE is what will keep you going.

I HOPE your journey is filled with HOPE. The kind of HOPE that is eternal & transcending.

Joyfully Posted from WordPress for Android

Hope!

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Whew! What a month so far! I finally am getting back into blogging mode. I have decided for this month’s theme to be HOPE.

This month’s word is inspired by the birth of my best friend’s daughter Sophie on June 1, 2011. Her diagnosis was so dire that the doctor’s did not give out much HOPE for her to live outside the womb for more than a day or 2. I’m happy to announce that she has survived beyond that & hopefully much longer. Many prayers & fasting went up for baby Sophie as well as love & well wishes, but I think the most inspirational part is the HOPE that her parents have for their baby to be able to thrive.

I have other friends with miracle babies & teach swimming to some of the most amazing miracle stories.  It’s so amazing to see their stories of HOPE unfold.  Preemies, Autism, Cerebral Palsy & other special needs kids that are accomplishing things that the “experts” said they could never accomplish & doing them well!

Today’s post is not one of long-winded philosophy. I merely want to acknowledge that there are some amazing stories of HOPE in this world & they live among us.  Let’s do our part to inspire & inject HOPE in the world around us, & do what we can to surround ourselves with it.  Your story & the stories around you depend on it.

Joyfully Posted from WordPress for Android

What is the PURPOSE ~ Of Faith?

So it’s been a couple of weeks since my last post & I’m really determined to keep to my once a week posting, even if it is a really short/long post….& late!

This last weekend is one marked with many different notable things going on around the world. The most laughable: Judgement Day, May 21,2011.  In keeping with the current monthly theme of “PURPOSE”, I felt it would be appropriate to say this:

For the record- not all Christians are loony. Not all churches teach the TRUTH. Not everyone who considers themselves a Christian actually is.

So what is the purpose of church, or even faith? Here is my humble opinion: we all need to believe in something bigger than ourselves. We were designed that way. I believe Christianity (at its core) is driven by sacrificial love & constant growth (maturity).  If you’re going to church & not digging into why you go there as opposed to somewhere else, you are probably compelled by tradition. If you’re not asking yourself, “would this action/thought make a difference in my life & the life of others?”, then you are probably just plowing through life trying to keep your head above water…existing, not living.

I’m not judging. I was just recently in that same spot wondering what happened to my life. We were designed to thrive & live a full life…not for life to live us!  (Hence this Joyful Pursuit)

“Live your life by DESIGN, not by DEFAULT.”~ Dani Johnson

So, what if (like the predictions of apocalypse) this God of Christianity is not really real?  Well, my friends, I can honestly say that the worst that can happen is that I lived a life focused on becoming a better person (wife, mother, friend, employee,etc.), that I did the best I could to treat everyone with respect & compassion, & that I worked hard to find & make peace in my life & the lives of others around me.  If all that happens when I die is that my flesh fertilizes the ground I’m buried in, then at least that flesh was living a life of love.  That gives me peace. Living a life honoring God, gives me hope. Hope that I really can be a different & better person. That is just the beginning of the discovery of my PURPOSE. What will my legacy be? For the record: I believe God is very real.

Why take that away from me? Or anyone else? Why take it away from yourself? Give yourself permission today to figure out what you believe in….& what you don’t.

Who cares what other people think…you’re just going to die anyway right? Live Joyfully…what do you have to lose?

Joyfully Posted from WordPress for Android

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