Archive for May, 2014

30
May
14

The Hunger Games

Daniel FastOver the past year I’ve met a handful of people who have shared the transformative power of fasting in their lives. The more I heard the more intrigued I became. It was soon obvious that it was time for me to dust off this ancient spiritual discipline and put it to work in the here and now.

The timing couldn’t have been more critical. I was at yet another crossroads in my life and while this was not one of the many, previous radical shifts where tectonic plates buckled and shook, I knew something was bubbling beneath the surface that needed addressed. I had to motivate myself to move to the next level. Seeing as the level I was on was already tremendous, I knew this would take something new and transformative and I thought fasting may be the key. I quickly began exploring my options.

An attendee at one of our events extolled her experience with the Daniel Fast, a 21-day strict vegan plan to physical and spiritual health derived from Susan Gregory’s book, The Daniel Fast: Feed Your Soul, Strengthen Your Spirit, and Renew Your Body. As a 15-year Atkins proponent, this was going to be a radical shift indeed. The full range of restrictions meant no caffeine, no sugar, no sweeteners, no chemicals, no alcohol, no cheese, no eggs, no milk, and no meat. You are only allowed food that comes from seeds, and to drink water, lots and lots and lots of water. Talk about a throwback to Adam and Eve’s dining habits in the Garden of Eden!

I bought the book in April and picked a start date of May 1st. I had several high-visibility speeches scheduled in June and needed to be at my peak not just for the delivery, but the preparation as well. Lastly, I needed clarity and discernment regarding a business decision I had been mulling over for several years and was in the process of implementing.

Now my life is pretty tremendous because of the people I surround myself with and the fact that I read great books at least 75 percent of my waking hours. But I felt as if I wasn’t operating on all cylinders. I was going through the motions, but I felt somewhat distracted, fragmented, foggy-headed and unable to finish tasks. I also felt I was not achieving my maximum each day and was allowing too many time sucks to take away precious minutes. I was good, just not great.

So after two weeks of preparation, I embarked on my very first fast! The book is divided into three sections. The first covers the Biblical history of fasting and the impact it had on individuals as they were allowing God to fully work through them. It makes the case for fasting so beautifully that it made me excited to begin! And this was huge because the only time I had ever fasted before was for my colonoscopy, and I thought it was going to give me a nervous breakdown.

The second section of the book is full of menus, recipes, and wonderful tools to help you map out your eating plan so you can stick to it! If you love fruits and vegetables, you will be in Heaven with the amazing range of options she provides. Preparedness is one of the critical elements to getting the most out of the Daniel Fast and if you take the time to study the book, you cannot fail unless you chose to do so.

The third section is a 21-day devotional which dovetails beautifully with the journey. After all, the purpose of this partial fast it to gain spiritual cleansing and clarity and the author does a magnificent job of keeping the reader’s attention and heart focused on this fact. It even has a frequently asked questions section at the back which completely covered all my items.

I finished my fast on May 22nd and reflected back on my journey. First, I lost seven pounds. The removal of sugar and other processed carbohydrates from my diet made my face look so much slimmer that someone even asked if I had had work done! I felt more in tune with my body. When you cut out the preservatives, steroids, and chemicals, and ingest only natural, organic materials, you actually feel much more alive. I truly felt a sense of heightened wellness and increased awareness of my emotions, needs, and desires.

But the best was yet to come. With each day I felt my mind awaken. I actually felt the fog lift within the first few days and I began seeing things so clearly I had to almost pull back on the reins because I would began assessing situations aloud and needed to make sure I tempered my comments if necessary. My creativity went off the charts. I had speeches done weeks before they were due. My blogging picked back up. I did the outlines for my next two books. I even read four books that had been on my “Books to Read” pile for years.

But the spiritual benefits were the best. It was a truly soulful time for me to connect with God in a way that had been missing. My busyness had kept our relationship from reaching the heights I knew it could, but now, with such a more personal, meaningful reality in my life, I have a sense of peace that comes only from walking hand-in-hand daily with my Creator and letting Him unveil  His plan for me to flourish and prosper.

And there were other benefits, too. I also “fasted” with my time and what I allowed to enter my brain. I did not watch the news on TV. I stayed off the computer unless I was at work. When you get rid of all the things in your life that don’t add value it is amazing how much time you have in a day! I cleaned out my outdoor shed! I ransacked my closets and gave boxes and boxes of clothes and shoes to wonderful organizations. I cleaned out my summer kitchen! I spent time in silence just reading books that would magnify this spiritual cleanse. I saw the world in much more vivid colors and with a much clearer mindset.

So now that I am officially one week past the finish date, I have decided to remain on this path with a few tweaks. I have eaten some cheese and eggs in the past week. I also had a piece of salmon on a salad and a cup of coffee. But other than that, the journey and results have been so tremendous I won’t change much else. You see, discipline is hard, but I love the results more, so much so that it makes the work easy and the burden light.

In the end, only two questions remained: why did it take me so long to tune into the benefits of fasting? And when am I going to start again? I highly recommend the spiritual and physical cleanse of The Daniel Fast. When we treat our body, mind, and soul like a temple, we can truly and triumphantly assume our inheritance as children of the Most High God.

 

 

23
May
14

You Can’t Keep A Good Dog Down

Good DogThis past week I faced one of the greatest challenges I have ever had to deal with. My soul dog, Mr. Blue, has battled lymphoma for the past nine months and, for the third time, he is out of remission. The doctor said he wasn’t strong enough to begin his fourth drug protocol and sent him home for three days with steroids to get his strength up. It didn’t help. His platelets were too low and he was still in an anemic state. In a private room, the doctor told me that Mr. Blue was too weak and tired to continue treatment and was likely to go downhill fast. He advised me to spend the next few days with him and prepare to make every dog owner’s worst decision. Sobbing, I looked at my sweet boy and agreed. Mr. Blue was tired the disease was obviously taking its toll.

Somehow I made the 90-mile drive back home. I called work and asked them to notify Peaceful Pet Passage for an at-home euthanasia on Wednesday at 3 pm knowing full well that I couldn’t make the arrangements myself without losing it. I cleared my schedule for the next two days. That night was filled with the most painful emotions I’ve ever felt. One moment I would relish the life Blue and I had lived together and the next I would fall into overwhelming despair trying to fathom how I would go on without him. Mr. Blue has been my constant companion for thirteen years, ever since the day I picked him up as an abandoned five-week-old pup. I tried not to cry as I was sure that Mr. Blue could sense my grief.

That night I posted the news on Facebook to the thousands of people and animals touched by Mr. Blue over the years. Many have followed his journey from the start and were pulling for him, just as distraught as I was. The following day began a long and beautifully touching succession of visits, texts, calls, and messages as people offered their support and prayers.

That same day Mr. Blue also began a miraculous turnaround. He ate breakfast. He ate a second breakfast. He ran around the house as people came to see him. He ate lunch. He played with his toys. He was alert and he probably gave me close to a thousand strong kisses. Earlier I had asked God to just keep him comfortable and happy on that final day so I could always cherish the memory. I really thought this was his final rally before we said goodbye.

That night, Mr. Blue came even more alive. At dinner time he ate another plate of food, and then another. He even had treats before he went to bed. I was perplexed. I have never lost a dog before but I have always been told that I will know when it’s time to say goodbye. I couldn’t shake the growing feeling that this was not his time.

Mr. Blue was out of remission and the clock was ticking, but was this his time? I went to bed and prayed for discernment, for some kind of sign. I also made one last decision. I wrote his obituary earlier that day, trying to keep myself sane and occupied as the hours ticked by. I reopened the document and deleted the date: May 21st, 2014.

When I awakened the next morning morning Mr. Blue was already downstairs in the kitchen with the other dogs waiting for his breakfast. This wasn’t just a last-minute rally; Mr. Blue was back! I couldn’t go through with the euthanasia when he was in such high spirits.

I called the oncologist to see if there was any way they could immediately reevaluate Mr. Blue’s condition. I felt certain that if Blue had been this way 48 hours earlier, he would have been able to get his chemo. I just had to know what Blue was telling me. The clinic squeezed him in although they said his condition was grave and they were not optimistic.

Peaceful Pet Passage was fine with the cancelation (they said this happens all the time and were very supportive) and we made the long trek back to the clinic. Mr. Blue was a different dog when he walked through that door. He had his spunk back. His blood work and white blood cell count were good, but his platelets were still low. There were two options: go with the chemo which, in his current state, could kill him; or decline the chemo and make him as comfortable as possible until the end. I went with option one. We were not going to lose the battle to cancer unless we had exhausted every opportunity.

Mr. Blue received his chemo and we began the journey home. I immediately let his legion of adoring fans know the good news and they rejoiced! I felt a tremendous peace knowing that, with this chemo, we had truly done everything we could and the rest is in God’s hands. And while we are definitely not out of the woods, today was another great day for him at work as people came by to see the miracle mutt. He even had a big dinner with an Angus burger for desert. Next Wednesday we’ll know if Mr. Blue is back in remission. Until then, we keep our paws crossed and we stay prayed up.

This roller coaster of a week reinforced three critical life lessons for me:

1)      Trust your heart and trust your gut. If the timing of something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Wait. Take time for quiet reflection and pray for discernment.

2)      It ain’t over til it’s over. As Helen Keller said, “All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” You’ll know when it’s time to say goodbye or to let something or someone go. Until then, keep overcoming. Keep fighting.

3)      The power of prayer and pawsitivity. My life is a testament to the power of prayer and of God’s continuous unfolding of His tremendous plan for me. To see that He included my best four-legged companion in these plans takes our relationship to a whole new level! And why not? He knows even when the sparrow falls.

So remember, if you’re going through some ruff stuff, keep the faith! In the end it’ll be okay. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but this divine canine has taught me to live in the moment and I am furever grateful for each and every moment that we share.

15
May
14

How to live a Fully Mission Capable Life

TraceyMilitaryDuring my tenure in the Air Force I served as an Aircraft Maintenance Officer. My job was to ensure the fighter jets were in a Fully Mission Capable (FMC) status in order to fulfill the daily flying schedule. When the jets landed if there had encountered any type of problem they would be placed in a Non Mission Capable (NMC) status. The technicians were dispatched to trouble shoot the problem. When we briefed the status of the jets at our daily production meetings, we would review the corrective action by stating which part we had R2’Ed, pronounced “R” squared, short for Remove and Replace. In civilian terms; out with bad, in with the good.

If only life were so simple. If we could just take bad experience, poor decisions, and missed opportunities and totally eradicate them from our memory banks only to replace them with new and improved life choices wouldn’t it be grand! But unfortunately humans aren’t built that way. Wounds give way to scars but they are still visible. And we have this terrible compulsion to continuously turn ourselves into NMC status by living in the past.

But all is not lost. You can still soar with the eagles and slip the surly bonds of Earth; you just have to be a bit more creative about it. So since it’s impossible to truly Remove and Replace anything that’s entered our lives because it’s all made some type of a imprint on us, why not pull some of these corrective actions out of your tool box

Renew and Replace: By surrounding yourself with positive people and reading edifying and educational material, you can actually renew your spirit and attitude and replace that old sour one that was dragging you down. Get a lock on every negative thought and shoot it down!  Once the old way of thinking has crashed and burned, replace it with action that generates solutions, not excuses.  As Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we use when we created them.”

Renovate and Replace: Once we hit the age of accountability, everything in our lives is there as a result of our choices, whether it’s the state of our bodies, our homes, our finances, or our relationships. If you make small changes on a repeated basis, eventually you are going to have a complete renovation. Renovation means you keep the DNA and work to restore it to its natural beauty and splendor.  As Jack Dixon said, “If you focus on results, you will never change. If you focus on change, you will get results.”

Regain and Replace: Many of us have made choices from which the consequences are irreparable. That’s okay. Poor decisions do not have to sentence you to a poor life. You can regain your reputation, your job, your family, your self-respect, if you are willing to put some grease and sweat equity behind it. Read the manuals and instructions on how to live a tremendous life. There are countless people who have gone what you’ve gone through and worse and have recorded their struggles to victory so others may do the same. As Zig Ziglar said, “Failure doesn’t mean you are a failure, it just means you haven’t succeeded yet.

So there you have it. Once you return yourself to Fully Mission Capable status with these three sure fire fixes, you really will see that the sky’s the limit!

 

09
May
14

there’s nothing I can do for you

1558402_10152246465268552_539659896_nThere really isn’t. Happiness, kindness, sacrifice—all the elements that make us good global citizens are inside jobs. They cannot be mandated or regulated by any government or religion. Human nature is as human nature does. I look at some organizations that have well-meaning strategic tag lines such as Eliminating Racism, End Hunger, and Equality for All. We will never achieve these goals. And even if you believe we evolved from cosmic dust and fast forward millions of years, the heart of man is what it is.

One man’s kindness and altruistic intentions cannot transform another. Let’s face it, human love is not that strong or pure. Change can only come from within. So why even try to help solve the problems of mankind when it is a futile cause? We do it because that’s the only thing that gives life meaning until we shuffle off of this mortal coil. And in our efforts to live an authentic life, if we can be a walking, living, breathing billboard for accountability, and help just one person realize that the secret something that they are looking for is already within them, we have changed the course of the universe.

Being in publishing, a lot of people ask me if I think they should write a book. I tell them, “I don’t know, should you?” You see, if it’s not in you, it can’t come out. And if you have to ask, it probably isn’t. We are children of wrath and until you become a child of purpose your world will never change. Once we find our purpose, the answers become clear and we cease to ask useless questions.

When people came to my father with issues, he would stop the conversation and open a book. They would read together aloud. This tactic used to confuse and irritate me. After all, people came to him for input, not to read! But as I got older, I got it. Many of us have a terrible habit of not really wanting solutions. When we seek advice, we are really just looking for an ear to listen to our whining. We just keep talking with no intention of ever shutting up instead of inviting quiet so we can reflect, think or act.

The answers are already within you and you are the only person in the universe who can get you where you need to go. No amount of government intervention, money, personal relationships, or otherworldly trappings can ever release the real you. Only you can do that. And when your heart finally comes to terms with this life-changing truth you can finally do for you what no one else can.

Recommended reading: “That Something” by William W. Woodbridge. Get to download your free copy here!!




Tremendous Tracey


CEO Tremendous Life Books. Book Evangelist

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