5 characteristics of life dreams

Characteristics of life dreamsHere is a question, what is the driving force behind your life?  Do you have life dreams and what are they?  I am convinced that everybody has at least one life dream, most of us have many life dreams.  Some of us have given up on our life dreams, others actively pursue them and then there are those that want to pursue their life dreams but find something is lacking in their ability to do so.

How do you recognize your life dreams?  I have found that the following are characteristics of life dreams:

  • They were created in childhood or as a young adult
  • They were the result of a fond memory or life changing moment
  • They have never gone away, it is always at the back of your mind
  • The themes behind the dream are intertwined with your personality
  • Choices you made that pulled you away from your dream are the ones you regret the most

Let me elaborate on the above points. Continue reading “5 characteristics of life dreams”

5 things you need to navigate your way through life

Mark Letley's Hobie Cat 14ft | AuthenticallyAsh.com

“The winds and waves are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” – Edward Gibbon.

When I first heard this quote, it sparked both my interest and that of my husband.  My husband, Mark, enjoys sailing.  He has a Hobie Cat 14ft.  The first time I went out on his boat I was amazed at how even a smallest wind would allow the boat to cruise steadily along, all it took was positioning the sail correctly.  This got me thinking, what does one need to do to navigate your way through life?

Continue reading “5 things you need to navigate your way through life”

Start a journal!

So often we find that we are caught in the rat-race of life, even if you are a homemaker!  Days and weeks seem to pass in a blink of an eye, and so often we miss (or forget) the special moments in our lives.

One of the greatest pieces of advice I can give anybody is to start a journal.  It is a key tool in knowing yourself and a wonderful method of self-therapy.  Not only that, but it can also be your personal biography and a history book of your life.  I started my first journal as soon as I was able to write complete sentences, and I have been writing ever since.

How writing in a journal has helped me

1. Improved Handwriting

When I was younger, my handwriting wasn’t the best in the class.  When I started writing in journals, I wanted to keep it looking neat and tidy, so I put a lot of effort into writing neatly.  I was able to write slowly, unlike in a class environment where there is usually a limited time to perform the exercises.  Over time this improved my handwriting to the point where I am now told my handwriting looks like that of a primary school teachers.

2. Writing as a form of therapy

I have found that writing has become a form of therapy for myself.  Sometimes my mind is racing at 100 miles and hour on an oval track, meaning it is going in loops.  Through writing I am able to slow my mind down, organize my thoughts, make plans and work through any issues I am experiencing in my life.

Writing in a journal provides a way for you:

  • Organize your thoughts by writing down everything that is on your mind and make action plans.
  • To do an emotional check-in with yourself.  How do you feel?
  • Look at your problems from an outside perspective.  If you were reading a friend or your child’s journal, how would you advise them to handle the problem written down?
  • Notice destructive patterns by reading back over a month or a year, or longer!  I noticed that too much social time would cause me to become drained and the smallest things would frustrate me.  I also noticed that not enough social time puts me into a mild state of depression.  Whenever I am depressed, it is when I haven’t had enough time with friends or family.
  • Calm yourself when stressed, angry or crying.  Writing has an amazing calming effect because you can only write so fast, you have to slow down in order to write out everything that is on your mind.  By slowing down, you also calm down.

3.  Keep track of important events

When important things happen in your life, you can write them down in your journal.  My journals are a record of when I met certain people, when I found out I was pregnant, the first movements of our baby, finishing university and much more.  If I am not sure when something happened, I will go back and look through my journal until I find the date that I wrote about.  This is how I know that I met Mark in September 2008.  I also got to see my whole thought process and why I decided we should date each other at that time.

4. Place to keep special papers

Journals are also great places to keep newspaper articles, photographs, birthday cards, and report cards you are especially proud of.  I often stick birthday cards, or love letters from Mark into my journal.  It isn’t clutter and you can go back at any time to look at them.

5. Thankfulness

Thank you for my beautiful house.  Thank you that I am able to do what I love every day.  Thank you for my husband.  Thank you…

It is so important to be thankful for what you have. There are also some schools of thought that believe that the more thankful you are for what you have, then the more you will receive.  Even if you don’t believe that, I can guarantee that by going back and looking through the things that you have been thankful for over the past week you can change a negative day into a positive one .  I made a habit of writing at least two things I am thankful for in my journal each day.  By focusing on positives, a person remembers that it isn’t so bad.

6. Dreams

I’m not talking about the dreams you have while you are sleeping (although you can journal those too if you want), I am talking about the dreams you have for your life, and for the future.  A journal is a great place to write down your dreams.  What does your dream house look like?  What about your dream job?  What sort of impression do you want to leave on your children?  Over time a person’s dreams may change, others will stay the same.  It is amazing to look back at previous journals and notice which dreams have become reality and which ones seemed so important once upon a time.

7. Stuff I have learned

A big part of my journal became my research into my own personality.  I also used it to keep track gardening tips, recipes, notes on book-keeping, organizing, and ideas I want to explore further.  Sometimes my journal looks like a school notebook for a few pages!  When I write stuff down, I remember it better.

8. Knowing myself

In the end, keeping a journal has given me a better understanding of myself.  I have come to know how I think.  I know my likes and dislikes.  I can monitor my progress, my behavior patterns and how I have changed over the years.  By knowing myself, I am better able to live to my full potential.

Journal options

A journal can be as simple as a standard notebook bought at any stationery shop, or it can have a beautiful design that reflects your personality.  It doesn’t really matter which you choose, it just needs plenty of space for you to write your thoughts and occasionally stick a special birthday card, letter or newspaper article.

My first diary can be seen in the photograph to the left.  My mom bought it for me, and my first entry was about a friend that slept over that weekend!

I had many journals between the first one and the gorgeous one pictured to the right.  I spent a lot of money on that one, it is by far my favorite.  I bought it because it reminded me of a spell book and I was going through a Goth phase at the time.

Recently I have just been using standard hardcover notebooks and writing the dates down the spine.

It is always nice to have a pretty one as your first journal, so maybe go and spoil yourself by buying something special from Etsy that reflects your personality.

Next Actions

  • Buy a journal
  • Add “Write in Journal” to daily checklist

Journal Page Printable

Here is a template that you can use as a daily reminder for what to journal about, feel free to print and share!  Click on the image to make it bigger.

Journal reminders page | www.AuthenticallyAsh.com
Journal reminders page

Why do I wake up tired?

Waking up tired

Not so long ago, I used to get 8-10 hours of sleep each night yet still have difficulty waking up with the alarm clock in the mornings.  I have heard from a few people that they have experienced a similar problem in their lives.

As a homemaker, wife and/or mother it is important for your emotional well-being that you wake up refreshed each morning, ready for the day ahead of you.  When you become grumpy, the negative energy flows into your family and your home.  You need to take care of yourself before you can start organizing your home.

In this article, I am going to discuss sleep patterns, the 90-min sleep cycle, your biological clock and give you some tips on how to get a good night’s rest.

Continue reading “Why do I wake up tired?”

A New You for 2015

“I can’t believe that he actually thought a baby would use 1 nappy a day!”

“Why am I the only one in this house that seems to do any cleaning around here?”

“My life is horrible, everyone is out to get me!  I’ll never have a happy Christmas!”

Would you like some cheese with that wine?  In all seriousness though, we all have our bad days where nothing seems to be going right.  It is okay to let it out every once in a while too.  But what you need to remember is that nobody enjoys being around a person who is negative all the time.

We all know that one person whose life seems to be one tragedy after another.  Maybe their life is genuinely traumatic.  They may have ill health, be in an unloving marriage or without work for over a year, but if you look carefully you will notice that there are actually two very different types of people in this world.  There are those who play the victim all their lives and their are those who say “Yes, it sucks, but I won’t let it get me down.”  My question is, which one are you?

Quit making excuses for yourself

I heard a story of twin brothers.  Their mother died when they were young and soon after that their father turned to alcohol.  These brothers were left to raise themselves.

The one made a choice to get involved in sports and won a scholarship to a prestigious college.  He graduated with a business degree and started his own business from scratch, with no bank funding whatsoever.  He actually worked two jobs, one at a corporate firm and the other running his own business for a couple of years.  This man went on to have a successful family life and got reasonably wealthy.

The other twin was failing at school and eventually dropped out.  His father’s drunkenness seemed to hit him much harder.  He had a string of low-level jobs, and eventually turned to theft and alcohol himself.

When these twins were interviewed they were asked the same questions “How did you get to where you are today?” both of them gave the credit to their father!

The first said “I didn’t want to end up like my dad.  I saw that the only way out was to get a sports scholarship, so I started sports.”

The second said “I saw what my dad had become, and I couldn’t handle it.  I had to get away so the first chance I got I left school and went out on my own.”

These boys grew up in the same environment with the same father and they had both seen what their dad had become.  The difference between them was that the first took stock of all his options and wisely chose the option that would take him furthest in life in the long term.  The second, took stock of all his options and chose the one that would benefit him in the moment.

The key is that both of these men gave their father the credit for the situation they were in today.

So often we say, “I wouldn’t be like this if… ” or “If only I had … then … wouldn’t have happened.”  We start throwing a pity party instead of looking for a way to get out of the situation.

You need to quit making excuses and shifting the blame.  Be like the first twin and create a plan to change the situation you are in.  You might not get it right the first time, but keep trying anyway.

I have also felt trapped in circumstances, like there was no way out.  I had bills to pay and had to work outside the home to pay them.  Eventually, after a long talk with Mark, we reviewed all our finances and one thing was clear… if we did without certain things, and were very careful with our money, we could live off a single income.  In a worst of the worst scenario we could move in with his parents and rent out our home.  Thankfully we haven’t needed to do that, God has provided.  We found a way out of our circumstances.

Change starts within yourself

How often have you heard the saying “You cannot change a man”?  The same is true with anybody.  Nobody is able to force another human being to change.  That is the joy of free will.

If you cannot change another person, then how can you expect anybody or anything to change you except yourself?  Yes, you can ask other people or God to help you change, but you have to be willing to change first.  If you are unwilling, then it cannot happen.

Once you have made the decision to change, then it takes support, perseverance and being willing to get back up again and try something else when you fail.

In the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen Covey explains the circle of influence.  In a nutshell, there are 3 areas:

  • Your Circle of Influence
  • Your Circle of Concern
  • No Concern

The Circle of Influence are the things that you can do something about.  Included in this is how you can influence yourself to change.  The more you work within your Circle of Influence, the larger it will get and you may find that when people notice the change within you, then they will start to change themselves too!  Live by example, your way of life is the best witness you can give.

How can I change myself to be more proactive?

Firstly, there is the word proactive.  That is what you use to describe people who “take the bull by the horns” or “make a plan and get stuff done”.

We all have different starting points, it all depends on where you are in your life journey as to where you will need to start the change.

The first thing we all need to do is to listen to the voices in our head.  What do you tell yourself on a regular basis?  Be aware of what you are thinking.  Look at it carefully, listen to it.

I noticed that my voice always said “I don’t feel like … ” or “I really don’t want to …” or “I am nervous about …”  For example, if I look at a messy kitchen sink the voice says “Ah, I really don’t feel like cleaning all this up right now.” or “This will take forever.” My problem is motivating myself to actually do the stuff on my checklists.

When I realized that this was my problem, then I started looking for ways to overcome that problem.  There is the timer method: Set a timer for 15 minutes and just get stuck in and do it, when the timer goes off then stop.  That one works well, but only when I am accountable to somebody or else I fall off the band wagon again.  I needed a person, or a group of people that I could talk to and brag to about what I had accomplished in a day.  That is when I joined the Homemakers Encouragement group on Facebook.  We play a game where we see how many things we can accomplish on a combined “Done List” in a day.  At the time of writing this, our record has been 156 items crossed off between a group of us!  Even though we are working in separate homes and countries, we are working together towards a common goal – beating our “high score!”

You need to ask yourself “What does my negative Nancy say to me?” and then you need to think of a way to either change it, or overcome it.

I still hear the voice in my head, but I have learned to overcome it (most of the time).

Conclusion

So, in conclusion, I think you should consider giving yourself and your family the gift of change this year.  Start noticing the problems within yourself instead of focusing on the problems in other people.  Then find a way to change or better yourself.  It may be a long term strategy, but you will notice that once you better yourself then more and more things will fall into place for you.

How to create a personal mission statement

 

The reason for this article

One of the biggest challenges that I faced on my journey was creating a personal mission statement to keep myself motivated on the “bad days”.  Many books and online articles preach the benefits of creating a personal mission statement, but most of the examples and exercises that I have found online have been directed at people who are in work-outside-the-home careers, or at people who are self-employed business owners.

After reading multiple articles and doing many exercises, I formed my own mission statement which can be found on my Mission Statement page.  This mission statement is vastly different from others that I have found online in examples, but it is Authentically Ash and that is what matters.

Below you can learn what a personal mission statement is, why it is a good idea to have one, some important guidelines for creating a mission statement, some exercises to help create a personal mission statement and how to maintain your mission statement.

I have taken care to create this in such a way that it is applicable to homemakers, but with some editing you can use these tips in any career choice. Continue reading “How to create a personal mission statement”

Visualization Exercise to find your purpose in life

About the exercise

I am still working through “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey. The next part of the book that stood out for me was the part where he asks the reader to visualize going to a funeral of a loved one 3 years from now. He guides you through visualizing it in detail, and eventually you discover that it is your furneral that you are visualizing.

Stephen asks you to imagine that 4 people are going to speak at the funeral. The first is a family member, who is going to speak about your family life. The second is a friend who is going to speak about how they saw you as a friend. The third is somebody that will speak about your work ethic, and the fourth is somebody who will speak about your community or church involvement.

At this time he asks you to think about what you would want each person to say about your character, contributions and achievements. Remember, this isn’t for you to think about what they WILL say about you as you are now (although that is also an important exercise that will help you figure out how what you are now is different to how you want to be). This is to dream about the way you want to be remembered, and in so doing, figure out what you value most in life and what your goals in life are.

What I discovered while doing the EXERCISE

This was a very important exercise for me, and it was the main topic of my thoughts for almost a week. Knowing what I wanted to be said about me with regards to family, friends and community was easy, and it only took me an hour or so to really flesh out the details.

When it came to what I want people to say about me regarding work, it was difficult. I knew that there were two characteristics that I wanted people to say. I wanted to be known as honest and trustworthy. The contributions and achievements I had an issue with.

As you can no doubt see from my previous blog posts where I worked through the “48 Days to the Work you love” book. I have been bothered by what work to do for some time. The truth is, that my heart has always known what it wanted to do, but what I wanted to do is no longer socially acceptable. Or at least it feels as though it is no longer socially acceptable.  The option on my heart, definitely wasn’t an option in the “48 Days to the Work you love” book, as in that book the author looks for ways to make money out of the skills you have, whereas the work that is on my heart doesn’t have a monetary reward.

For the first time in my life I had to be honest with myself. I thought “Do I want to be remembered for making that awesome computer game?” The answer was no. “Do I want to be remembered for writing that best selling novel?” Again no. “Do I want to be remembered for influencing the lives of hundreds of children through teaching?” This one was closer, but once again I wasn’t passionate about it.

So the question that came to my mind is what do I really want to be remembered for? What am I passionate about? Where am I when I am the happiest? The strange answer, and this I have known for a long time, is that I am happiest when I am at home and when I am talking to women who are also happiest in their homes.  I am happiest when I am encouraging other homemakers, sharing ideas with them and when I am working in my own home.

Could it be that I was made to be a housewife? This was a startling realization for me, but the moment I admitted it to myself, it made complete sense.

I researched quotes about homemaking, I read other people’s opinion blogs on the topic. I even looked up Bible verses about womanhood.

All my findings will be best left as a blog post for next week. For now I am going to stick to the funeral visualization and my answers. Please remember this isn’t how I am right now, but rather what I am wanting to aspire to be.

My Answers to the Funeral Visualization Exercise

Family

Character
Ashleigh was a loving wife and mother who valued her family’s well-being and happiness second only to her faith and relationship with God. She strived to model the character traits she valued most, and encouraged her children to develop them, following her example.

Contributions
Her home was always open and welcoming to family, friends and strangers. A person couldn’t visit without feeling as though they had found a second home in her house. She was the glue that held the family and friends together, making them feel as though they were one.

Achievements
She was a talented cook, and a perfect homemaker. She was filled with wisdom and managed her home finances devotedly. Her family never lacked any need.

Friends

Character
Ashleigh was an honest and trustworthy friend. She was always there to help and support those who needed her to. She was filled with knowledge & wisdom, and she was always reading to expand her knowledge.

Contributions
She was reliable and would always come through for others. Whether it was icing cupcakes or babysitting her friends children so they could have a quiet evening at home. She was always there for her friends.

Achievements
Her home may not have been the picture of beauty shown in magazines, but it was humbly welcoming and an easy-going household.

Church/Community

Character
Ashleigh had outstanding wisom and her faith in God and his provision was unequalled. She put God first in her life and went to Him & His word for guidance first.

Contributions
She was always present at any occassion in her church community and never failed to help where she could.

Achievements
Even though Ashleigh never organized any functions herself, she supported other people’s endeavours whole-heartidly.

Work

This was the difficult one that I wrote a few days later. I had spent a long time thinking about this one and working through a few things, which will be described in detail during my next blog post.

Character
Ashleigh was a diligent worker. She was always willing to serve others. She was trustworthy and honest.

Contributions
As her husbands helpmeet in his work, no-one could have been better. When she wasn’t helping Mark, she was working in her home, raising and teaching her children with special care.

Achievements
Her home was always clean and well organized. She was proactive and never failed to put first things first. She did any task set before her efficiently and effectively.

Conclusion

This is all I have for this week. I strongly encourage you to try this exercise, especially if you have that empty hole inside of you that you just can’t seem to find something to fill it with.

That was my problem, I had Jesus in my life, but I still felt like I was constantly searching for meaning. I’ve noticed that the hole inside happens whenever you have an unfulfilled purpose, that you are not acknowledging to yourself or openly.  I’m not sure if the meaning has finally been found, but that hole inside is definitely smaller.

Also remember, that your visualization can have results that are greatly different to mine.  Everybody has been created unique.  This is about YOU, not impressing others.  I constantly had to fight the thought of what is the right answer, the socially acceptable answer, and remind myself that the right answer for society is not necessarily the right answer for me.  Always ask yourself, “Is this what I want? Or is this what I feel is the right thing to want?”

Previous posts building up to this one

Developing Character Traits To Succeed in Life

Developing Character Traits to Succeed in Life

The Seven Habits of highly effective people

It started while I was reading the book by Stephen Covey called The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I am not finished with the book yet, as I am only on the 3rd Habit.

In this book Stephen Covey pointed out that he had made a remarkable discovery while doing research on “self-help” books of the past 200 years.  Around the year 1950, there became a distinct change in the way the books were written.

Prior to 1950, the self-help books detailed that the way to success was to build your character traits and to encourage your children to build their character traits.  After 1960, the self-help books did a turn and started encouraging people to build their Personality traits.

The difference between character and personality

Dictionary.com defines Character as “the aggregate of features and traits that form the individual nature of some person or thing.” And it defines Personality as “the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others.”

So we could say that Character is the way the person is, and personality is the way the person appears to be.

Examples of Character Traits

A few examples of Character Traits include:

  • Integrity – The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.*
  • Humility – the quality of having a modest view of ones importance.*
  • Fidelity – faithfulness to a person, cause or belief, demonstrated by loyalty & support.*
  • Temperance – abstinence from alcoholic drink.*
  • Courage – the ability to do something that frightens one
  • Justice – just behaviour or treatment of others.*
  • Industry – being able and willing to work hard, effectively and efficiently.*
  • Simplicity – the quality or condition of being plain or uncomplicated in form or design.*
  • Modesty – the quality or state of being unassuming in the estimation of one’s abilities.*
  • The Golden Rule – One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. (Wikipedia.com)

* Definition from Google.com

Examples of Personality Traits

Here are a few examples of Personality Traits that are encouraged during Personality Development:

  • Personality – the visible aspect of one’s character as it impresses others (Dictionary.com)
  • Public Image – the ideas and opinions that the public has about a person or an organization that may not be what they are really like (macmillandictionary.com)
  • Attitudes – a settled way of thinking or feeling about something
  • Behaviours – the way in which one acts or conducts oneself, especially towards others.*
  • Skills – the ability to do something well; expertise.*
  • Techniques – a way of carrying out a particular task, especially the execution or performance of an artistic work or a scientific procedure.*
  • Influence – the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behaviour of someone or something, or the effect itself.*
  • Communication Skills – The ability to convey information to another effectively and efficiently.  (businessdictionary.com)
  • Positive attitudes – A positive attitude is a philosophy of approaching life with optimism and confidence. (eHow.com)

* Definition from Google.com

Why should we build character and not personality?

Many people will argue that in this “modern” world we need our Personalities to succeed in life, that it isn’t our inward person that makes us move ahead, but rather our outward personality.

I argue that personality is only a short-term solution.  Once people get to know you, really get to know you, it is your character that keeps you ahead.

How many times have two people got married or started living together and after a year or two they get divorced or break up?  The excuse is usually “Person X wasn’t the person I thought he/she was.” Or “Living together in the same house made us realize how different we really are.”  I will make the bold statement that these people fell in love with each others personalities, not with each other’s characters.

We could take it to business level too.  You may employ somebody, or join a business that you were attracted to during the interview process.  A few months later (sometimes even a few years later), they don’t seem to be the person you hired (or the business isn’t living up to their promises).  Then there is that horrible “break-up”.  Like in a marriage, you were attracted to the personality, not the character.

Character takes time to develop, and time to reveal itself, especially in a world that focuses so much on the personality.   Developing YOUR character is beneficial though, because it is the backbone of personality.

If you develop the character trait of integrity, then your personality will always be a reflection of your true character.  What people see in you is not the public image you have created, but a reflection of yourself.  If you develop all the character traits mentioned in the example above, how can the person not like what they see (the personality)?

We all know that having people who like you for who you really are, is a huge boost to your own self-esteem.  Having a high Self-Esteem in turn will encourage you to keep building the character traits, which in turn will reflect in your personality, thereby increasing your self-esteem even more.

people don’t like me even with these character traits

Yes, this can be a problem.  Most of the time the people who don’t like you are the ones who lack these character traits themselves.  You may notice that the person who doesn’t like you manipulates other people and tells lies in order to get ahead in life.  They are building personality traits instead of working on their Character traits.

As I mentioned before, personality development is a short term solution.  We all remember that one girl from High School that would suck up to the teachers, tease the boys and spread nasty rumors.  While she appears sweet and innocent to many of the people who first meet her, at the end of High School most people realize what her true character is like.  Unless she changes during college or her adult life and starts developing her character, you will always find that she cannot stay long in any job or place without eventually showing her true self.  You may find that she keeps people at a distance, never getting too close to anybody.

Developing your character traits, is a process of building a reputation that extends over your whole life.  It may not be cool or popular in High School, and sometimes not even in college, but when you get to the age where you are looking for a job, getting married and having children, something switches in your brain and you realize that the Character Traits were the most important after all.