Be who you are

These are me today (2021). And me years ago when I wrote the book , around 2001 (a very touched up old photo).

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 45 and Chapter 8 of my book Keep up the pace.

I am so excited that we have made it to the end. I have had such a good time sharing the way I felt years ago and the things that I was experiencing in that time. It has made me realize how far I’ve come and in some ways, habits that I need to re-adopt. At the end of today’s chapter I leave an Epilogue which was added a few years after the book was written. I would like to do an Epilogue to the Epilogue in the next few weeks where I share where I am at today and the things and ideas that have changed. So hopefully I can put that together soon!

Thanks so much my friends for tuning in and supporting me. It really means the world to me! Without any further ado, let’s jump into the last chapter!

Chapter 8

Be Who You Are 

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” Ralph Waldo Emerson 

When my daughter, Mckayla, was in Chicago competing for the National title of Miss Teen International she met some really amazing young women. One of the girls that she became close friends with, taught her some really great lessons throughout the week of the competition. It was funny that these two were able to bond as they did because McKayla was the youngest competitor and her friend, Kim, was the oldest competitor.

Having experienced more than McKayla, Kim became the source of much inspiration. McKayla learned first hand what it means to surround yourself with positive energy. But one statement in particular really stuck with McKayla and helped her to be more confident even though she was the youngest competitor and lacked the experience some of the other contestants had. Kim told her, “Always be the best version of yourself, not the second best version of someone else.” I was so impressed that at the age of 19, Kim already had a firm hold on who she was and she wasn’t going to compromise that for anyone or anything.

One of the greatest Challenges that the youth of America face today is the struggle to find out who they are and what their place is in this world. Not only do the youth struggle with this concept, adults do too, especially adult women. I have found through my own experiences of working with youth, that the most noticeable changes in self-acceptance for girls, happens between the ages of 12 -15. And unfortunately the opinion that we form about ourselves when we are that age sometimes continues on through adulthood. So how do we as adults learn to accept and celebrate who we are and teach our children to do the same? That is the million dollar question.

I have a couple of suggestions that seem to be working for my family. Most of these stem from personal experiences, and the journey towards self-acceptance that others have made. I am still learning and I am sure there are many things that could be added, but here are just a few to get you started.

First of all, learn to celebrate your uniqueness. Isn’t it just incredible that out of the billions of people on this Earth, there is not one single person who is exactly like you? Sure we can have a lot in common with others and there are certain people that we just seem to bond with easily from the start. But, there is not one person who has your eyes, your smile, your personality, your zest for life!

It is unfortunate that most of us will never live up to the great potential within us. However, we can start striving toward that potential by understanding that you have just as much right to be great as the next person. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is, or how thick or thin you are. It doesn’t matter what circumstances you were born under, or the cards that you have been dealt in this life. You still have a choice, you still “drive your own car.”

You can choose to change the way you view life! Is the glass half empty or half full? If you don’t like what is going on in your life right now, only you have the power to change it. If you look in the mirror and you don’t like what you see or the person that you have become, make the choice to change.

Realize that along with change comes fear, and taking risks is never easy, but only you have the power to change you! Celebrate that fact! Joy in knowing that no one else has your little turned up nose, or your ability to see the good in others. Be grateful that God made you. . .you!

Second, just because there isn’t another person just like you, doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from others. In fact, the only way that we can achieve our full potential, is to learn and grow from our experiences with all the people in our lives. Some of my very best friends are the ones that are very different from me. I have grown to love them despite our differences and they have helped me accept myself for who I am.

If we can forgo the instant stereotyping and really try to give others a chance to make an impression in our lives, we will all be better and stronger for it. I believe that God places us in the path of others so that we, in some small way, can help them along their way and vice versa. We will never know what joys we could have had or what great qualities we could learn from, if we never give anyone a chance.

Next, be fiercely loyal to yourself, your family, and your friends. Dishonesty and deceitfulness are on a rampage in our world. Don’t buy into it! Nothing can do more damage to a family, a business, a friendship or your character. Lying, backbiting and gossiping, and sharing confidences that were not meant to be shared, will become a heavy burden in your life that will only serve to bring you and others down.

When my husband was in college he had roommates that liked to drink and get a little crazy. Although that is not my husband’s lifestyle, he would go with them so that he could be the designated driver and make sure that they all made it home safe and sound. He never once belittled them for how they lived their life and he was always there for them when they needed someone to talk to.

We have bumped into some of them over the years and they always comment on how much they respected him for sticking to his values and standards but never making them feel inferior because they didn’t have that same value system.

Finally, when you are wrong about something don’t be afraid to own up to your mistake. When you are quick to admit your wrong doing your mind and soul will be free from unneeded baggage and guilt. You will be able to move forward with a clear conscious and renewed motivation. People will think more of you, for your honesty and forthrightness and your unfailing dedication to your own personal values and standards.

As you continue on your path in your life, I hope that some of the experiences that I have shared with you have made you laugh or cry. . I hope that you have seen yourself in some of the stories that I related. But most of all, I trust that you have become motivated to set a new PACE for your future and that you have gained a greater understanding of how important it is to set that PACE in your life.

Whenever you are feeling down, or circumstances just aren’t what you hoped they would be, remember Positive Attitude Changes Everything!

Your Assignment: Never stop setting the PACE! 

EPILOGUE Shortly after the completion of this book, I was hospitalized for a short period of time. My priorities had become hazy. I was not eating well, and I was spending many sleepless nights worrying needlessly over events that were beyond my control. I was operating on over load with nowhere to go but down.

Our bodies and brains are complex entities and just like a computer if you overload it, it will crash. If you don’t learn how to slow down, your body will do it for you. Crisis such as this can be avoided.

I share this experience with you to help you understand how critically important it is to constantly re-evaluate your priorities and where you are at in your life. You may think you have it all under control but if you haven’t been diligent in keeping balance in your life, sooner or later it will catch up to you.

At the same time, don’t let fear keep you from moving forward. Keep setting goals, dreaming big, and reaching for the stars! I wish you all the best in your future endeavors and as always remember Positive Attitude changes everything!

XO Wendy

Work Hard

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 44 and Chapter 7 of my book Keep up the pace.

Chapter 7 Work Hard

“The only place where success comes before work is in the dictionary.

(Tiffany wiley, Mckayla Carter, Mallory Hamblin)

 Being involved in the pageant industry for six years brought many new experiences into my life. Some were difficult to handle and others were simply beautiful to be of a part of. But if there is one thing that I have learned, whether it be winning a pageant, getting a job, losing weight, or raising children, if you put in the work you will definitely reap the benefits! I saw work in action happen time again in the pageant industry.

As my daughter set out to compete for the title of Miss Teen Utah International, she was not afraid to work hard. As soon as she came up with her goals of what she wanted to achieve and how she wanted to make difference she started working hard by getting more involved in her community.

She wrote a children’s book about her platform, “Kindness Counts”, that she could take into elementary schools to help the children learn how to be more kind. She worked on her walk, her speaking skills, and her physical appearance and when it came time to compete she was able to win the title even though she was the youngest girl competing.

As her mother, I seen her go from a shy, quiet, very reserved little girl, to a confident young woman not afraid to express her ideas and share herself with others.

My first year Directing the teen pageant, I had a contestant enter the competition that wanted to learn how to overcome her shyness, and fear of public speaking. Having never competed in a pageant before, she really didn’t know what to expect or how to prepare. Though we had workshops and appearances to help all of the contestants prepare, she really didn’t put a lot of effort into the competition. When the big night came and she walked out on stage, she was scared to death. She even had to run off the stage at one point because she felt as if she might pass out. She had a fair experience that year, but had she worked a little harder and put a little more effort into it she may have had an even more positive experience.

The following year, I was shocked when she decided to compete again. I figured that as painful as it had been for her to be in front of people on stage, that she would probably never try it again. However, she had seen the growth in herself and knew that if she put more effort into it she could conquer her fear of being on stage and speaking in front of people. I don’t think I have ever witnessed anyone work as hard as she did that year. She literally blossomed into a more confident young lady. With the help of her mother, she was able to set up seminars and gain some experience in public speaking. She went to every appearance and workshop that we held and even scheduled extra time so that she felt strong and ready to compete.

She worked on every area of the competition because she understood the importance of being well-rounded, and she practiced hard. She was committed to finding the perfect wardrobe. One that complimented her physically, and radiated her personal style. When it came time for the competition she felt more confident and ready for the event than she had for anything else in her life.

The competition started out with personal interview. She had practiced and prepared and she was ready. She looked amazing in the suit that she had chosen to compliment her personality. When the interview ended, she felt positive that she had done well. She even commented that she had fun! What a difference she had made in herself and her attitude by committing to put her full effort into this.

I wish that I could say that she went on to win the competition, however after the interview ended, tragedy struck. She was contacted and told that her grandfather had suffered a heart attack and it didn’t look good. How could she continue the competition? It all seemed so trivial now. She decided that even after all her hard work and effort that she needed to withdraw from the competition. I fully supported her in that decision. That decision, in and of itself, proved to me how much she had grown throughout the past year.

A few hours later as rehearsals were being held, this strong, beautiful young lady returned to the competition. Her grandfather had passed away and after much deliberation, tears, and heartache, she and her family felt that it was the right thing to do. The competition took place and she was able to complete every area with ease and confidence. She was able to show commitment, dedication, and drive in a time when it seemed her world had come crashing down. It would have been so easy for her to give up. But because of what she had learned through her hard work she was able to overcome an obstacle in her life that was very difficult.

I found out a few weeks later that she had actually volunteered to speak at her High School graduation! I was so glad to hear that she was continuing to set goals for herself and that she had not let hardship defeat her.

An important concept I have learned through being involved with pageants, is that it is imperative that we continue to set and achieve goals. When I competed in the State, as well as, the National competition I seen contestants who would invest all of their time and effort in to the competition with the expectation of winning. When it was all over and the title was awarded to someone else, they would have such a hard time accepting it and moving on with their lives. I believe that it was because they hadn’t looked beyond the mark.

What happens when you put everything you have into achieving a goal and through your hard work you are finally able to achieve it, or possibly fall short? Is that the end? It absolutely is not. We have to remain in a constant state of setting and achieving goals in order to progress in life. If we give up after one failure we never truly learn what it is to work hard and be successful.

One of my favorite quotes is by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but that our power to do has increased.”

I have always been one to believe that everything happens for a reason or put another way, there are no coincidences. We may never know what the lesson is that we are supposed to learn from a given situation. Especially, when that situation is emotionally and physically difficult to endure.

Life is full of lessons to be learned. Never ever give up! Keep pressing forward, working hard, and setting new goals and you will become stronger and more capable of maintaining a positive attitude in all areas of your life, regardless of the circumstances.

Your assignment: Read over your list of goals again from chapter 1 and make sure that you are putting in the work to have to the outcome you desire. If not, make some short-term goals that will help you get back on track and get your head back in the game!

XO Wendy

Surround yourself with positivity

Hi friends, and welcome to pointing toward hope. I am your host, Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to follow and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 43 and Chapter 6 of my book Keep up the pace. Surround yourself with positive energy.

Chapter 6

” Avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits.”

One of my all time favorite movies is Forest Gump. If you have seen the movie, you will recall the statement that his mother taught him to help him overcome the teasing and bullying that he endured throughout his childhood. “Stupid is as stupid does.” She taught him very plainly that people will become what they repeatedly do.

For a period of time, I had a quote hanging on my refrigerator that I wanted to instill in myself as well as my children, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then is not an act, but a habit.” by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

I’d like to put those two concepts together and give you a mantra that is super easy to remember and will change your life if you choose to believe it. “Positive is as positive does.”

When I decided to compete in the Mrs. Utah International pageant, I needed positive thinking more than ever. I had been a stay-at-home mom for almost 12 years. After spending my days changing diapers, reading children’s books, and watching Sesame Street and Barney with my little ones, I was badly in need of something to get me out of my comfort zone. My youngest child had recently started school, so I found myself with a few extra hours to myself.

When I first heard about the competition I was still learning how to live with and manage depression. I knew that if I didn’t find something constructive to do during those hours, I could easily fall into some old negative habits, such as sleeping in instead of working out, eating when I became bored, and the worst habit of all, negative self-talk. So the pageant became a vehicle to motivate me to stay on top of my depression, while at the same time, work on some skills that needed to be dusted off a little. If you spend your days talking to toddlers and building bird nests out of play dough, you will understand what I am talking about. Not exactly the best interview techniques!

I am a great believer in mentoring and being mentored, so I sought out previous pageant winners and asked them to share their secrets with me. The positive energy and motivation that I came away with was incredible! Consequently, I had the tools I needed to achieve my goal. I just needed to learn how to put those tools into action. My first task was to post positive quotes on little post-it notes all throughout my home. As I was working out I would read, “Think lean and strong!”. As I applied my make-up, “Believe in yourself” was instilled in my mind from it’s position on my mirror. When I fixed breakfast, cleaned the house, turned on the television or got into the car, there was one positive message after another. Though the changes weren’t immediate, I did find that slowly I was evolving and changing into a more confident woman! Not only were the changes happening on the inside, but on the outside as well. Of course some of the physical changes could be attributed to eating better and exercising. But for changes to become permanent, they must happen from the inside out.

The most remarkable change was what began to happen in my home with my children and husband. They were visibly happier, more confident, and a lot more willing to help out whenever asked. Instead of the usual “Do I have to?” or “I don’t want to!” statements, their answers became “Sure! No problem.” As a family we were constantly surrounding ourselves with positive sources, people, places, things, and habits. Obviously, we all still had our moments, but for the most part our home life became a much richer and enjoyable place to be.

Surrounding yourself with positive energy can be one of the most powerful steps you can take to gain a happier more fulfilling life. Again, there are times when we can not control the experiences that happen to us, but we can control the attitude with which we choose to face those experiences.

The following are a few ideas that can increase the positive energy in your life.

1. Cleanse your inner spirit. If you have things in your life that are bringing you down or have left you with feelings of guilt or resentment, take care of it! Nothing can lift you higher than offering an apology where one is warranted. Let by gones be by gones. Forgive those who have wronged you, even if they won’t accept your forgiveness. Holding on to grudges only brings you and others down. Start living in the present and let go of the past. I know it is easier said than done, but taking that risk will greatly improve your quality of life.

2. Simplify your life! In the world that we now live it is so easy to fill your life with unnecessary clutter. I was talking to my little sister the other day and she made a comment that reminded me of how my parents had raised us. She said, “It just wasn’t a necessary expense.” How many times do we spend “unnecessary expense” on trivial, unimportant things? It’s easy to do. I’m not just talking about spending expenses. Gaining the discipline to free yourself from “unnecessary expenses” whether it be material items, or time-wasting activities, will make your load lighter and your life much more enjoyable.

3. Consistently avoid negative sources, people, places, things and habits. If you can steer clear of negativity in all forms you will find a change taking place in your life that is very noticeable. You will become more positive, more confident and a lot more attractive (both physically and mentally) to those around you.

4. Laugh often! Zig Ziglar once said “Laughter is the best medicine.” I can’t think of a better way to remove negativity than to laugh.

Laugh at yourself when you do silly things. Laugh with your friends and family and become closer together. My daughter Saydie, was born with an innate ability to make people laugh. She would be practicing her many faces in the mirror behind us as her Dad and I were reprimanding her for something that she had done. We could never keep a straight face and by the end of our speech we would be laughing so hard we would have tears in our eyes. No matter what is happening, if Saydie senses sadness she will do whatever it takes to make you laugh. Laughter definitely creates positive energy!

“Positive is as positive does.” I challenge you to try it!

Your assignment: Get on the internet or go through books of quotes and positive affirmations. Pick out your favorite and make post-its that you can place in conspicuous places throughout your home, car, office, etc. Read them and re-read them until they are ingrained in your brain and have become a part of your life! You are welcome to use the ones that I have used in this book if you like (they are some of my favorite).

Strength through adversity

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. I am your host Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 42 and Chapter 5 of my book Keep up the pace.

Strength through adversity

You never really lose until you quit trying.Anonymous

I would like to tell you about an experience I had that tested my ability to maintain a positive attitude. My husband and I had just given birth to our fourth child.

Because my three previous children had been born with the help of a physician through induction, I had prayed long and hard that I would be able to give birth to my last child on my own. I also dreamed, as every woman does, that I would have this child a little early.

I am sure you have heard the statement, “Be careful what you pray for because you just might get it”, well, I was about to find new meaning to that statement. Two weeks before my due date I awoke to a lower back ache. Having been through the process of child birth three times I knew right away that something was different and so I called my doctor’s office. My Doctor had gone on vacation but his nurse encouraged me to come in and be checked. Upon arrival at the office, the nurse checked me and determined that indeed I was going to deliver a child sometime soon.

After a long day of walking the malls and the halls in the hospital, I was finally admitted into the hospital that was filled to capacity with women waiting to deliver (12 to be exact!). Our baby boy was born at about 5:30 p.m. that evening. Things went relatively smooth with the birthing process considering I had a Doctor that I had just met. But, within minutes the nurse noticed that Cody was not breathing properly.

He was quickly whisked away to the nursery where they began a series of x-rays and tests. There were twelve babies born that night and only two nurses were on duty. The hospital was sorely understaffed, especially with an infant that required minute-to-minute monitoring. Consequently, my Doctor chose to have Cody transported to Primary Children’s Medical Center where he would be able to get the intensive care that he needed.

X-rays had revealed that his lungs were clouded and they seemed to be getting worse instead of better. Before transporting, a breathing tube was inserted and Cody was put on a ventilator. I was actually so relieved to see him breathing normally and finally sleeping, even if it was with the help of this machine. My husband checked me out of the hospital early the next morning and we drove straight to Primary Children’s Hospital.

The doctors and nurses had held a conference and decided to treat our son’s condition as a virus and had already started him on antibiotics. They also determined that because he was a little early, his lungs were not quite developed enough to fight off the infection, so they began giving him a drug called Cerfactin to help his lungs develop more quickly. He was showing improvement and the staff encouraged us to go home and get some sleep. I figured that would be a good idea since we had three other children who were still young and needed our attention.

That evening I received a distressing phone call from the hospital. They informed me that our little boy had taken a turn of the worse and that things did not look good. They felt that we should know that they had tried nearly everything and were not receiving a response. They encouraged us to come to the hospital in case the unthinkable were to occur. I did not feel strong enough to endure the possibility of losing him. I just couldn’t do it. So my husband went with a very dear friend who also happened to be our bishop.

While at the hospital they were able to administer a special healing blessing. They called upon God to heal his little body if it be His will. After standing helplessly by for a little while they decided to return home and hope and pray for the best. As my husband and I cried together that night we felt sure that our son would not make it through the night.

We talked of our great love for this child who was not yet forty eight hours old. We both felt it a great privilege to have him as a part of our little family, if only in spirit, for the past nine months. At about two a.m. that morning, we had heard nothing so we decided to call and see how he was doing. The nurse explained that, as a last resort, they had removed the breathing tube and to their dismay found that the cerfactin (the medicine they were administering to help his lungs develop) was clogging the bottom of the tube. The nurse said that they rarely ever changed the ventilator tube from an infant because it was so hard to re-insert, but they were out of options.

There is no doubt in my mind that angels were watching over our son that night and the Doctors as well.

Over the next twelve days it was a roller coaster ride. One day Cody would be improving and next he would slip back. It was very discouraging but I was determined to maintain a positive attitude. I visited him as much as I could but it was very difficult to see him in that environment.

The doctors had decided to put him on a temporary paralysis drug because he was bigger than most of the infants there and he would continuously pull the monitors off as he moved around. It was very difficult to see him lying motionless in the incubator.

We were unable to hold him for seven days, it seemed like an eternity. I will never forget the first time I was able to hold him, still attached to all the monitors and wrapped in a sheepskin blanket that made it hard to feel him in my arms, but I was in Heaven! The next few days became a sort of game as we would try to get him to eat enough and improve enough so that we would be able to take him home. I felt very fortunate to be able to take him home after just two short weeks, when some of the preemies that were his roommates had been there for months.

It was heartbreaking to see the parents come and go each day looking for any sign that their nightmare would end soon. I know it was hard for them to maintain a positive attitude day in and day out as they would receive the same bleak reports. I was amazed to hear their stories and listen to their determination as they would relive their experiences. “How do you get through it”, I remember asking one couple that had spent the better part of three months living at the hospital, a day’s drive from their home. “You get through it one day at a time . . . and you hope and pray for the best!” was their reply.

Positive attitude changes everything! No, we can not change the outcome of a situation. But we can certainly change the attitude with which we choose to face it . . . one day at a time. Not one of us is exempt from adversity. Every single person, at one time or another in their life, will face an illness, the death of a loved one, a divorce, etc. Granted, some people seem to have many more hardships placed upon them than others, but from my experience these people are the most tender, caring, and sensitive individuals I know. They can relate with others on a level that many of us can not. They help many to overcome and rise above the adversity that is placed upon them.

God gives us these trials to make us stronger and to help us learn more about ourselves and others in the process. We can choose to rise above adversity and be better for it, or we can let it control us and ultimately break us down. Most importantly whatever it is that you have been through or are experiencing this very moment……never, never, never, give up! 

Your challenge this week: Write down your experiences of trial or adversity that you have had or are having in your life. Record your feelings and be blatantly honest.

If this is a past experience, reflect on the things that you learned from the experience and how you re-acted at the time, and what your feelings are now.

If it is something you are experiencing at this moment, record what you feeling and what you hope the outcome will be. Resolve to look at all of your trials as learning experiences. I have started to do that, while it is not easy to say to yourself while you are in the midst of a trial, “What am I supposed to learn from this?”, (or can I learn)it definitely helps you look at things with a new perspective.

By the way, for those of you that don’t know our son is now a thriving almost 16 year old with loads of energy and love to share. We are so grateful to have him in our lives.

Side note: he was 16 when this book was written. He is now a happily married 27 year old!

Thanks for reading. Have a great week!

XO Wendy

Believe in yourself

Hi friends, Welcome to the Pointing Toward Hope podcast. I am your host Wendy Bertagnolli. This podcast is filled with positivity for anyone seeking to find more hope and joy in daily life. The goal is to reach as many people as we can to help them to overcome and find joy even in the midst of extremely hard adversity. Thanks for listening. Be sure to subscribe and leave a review so that we can help as many people as possible. If you or someone you know has a trial that you have been able to get through or are working through with the help of our Savior, please contact me so we can get you on the podcast. This is episode 41.

Chapter 4

Believe in yourself

“ Magic is believing in yourself, if you can do that, you can make anything happen. Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Take control of your destiny! Believe in yourself! Those are two of the most powerful statements I think I have ever read. I am going to tell you something now that I think you will find most profound. You know yourself better than anyone else! You are the only one that has spent every waking second of your life with . . . YOU! Who could possibly know you better, with the exception of God?

Why then do we tend to doubt ourselves so much? I believe the reason we do so much self-doubting has to do with many factors. It could be the way that your parents raised you. Maybe you came from a very emotionally or physically abusive home. It is possible that you suffered many tragic losses throughout your life. Maybe you have had to endure a physical debilitation or disease, or mental illness.

Regardless of the circumstance, we are all capable of change. We all have the ability within us to take control of our lives. It is true that sometimes we cannot control the circumstances that happen to us, however we definitely can control the attitude with which we choose to face these experiences. I know that there will be many that will want to argue this point, but the fact is we “drive our own cars”!

Sometimes I think it might benefit us if we could take a step back from our life and view it from a different perspective. We are so good at looking at another person’s life and providing a solution to all of their problems. If we could use this same objectiveness in our own lives, we could solve a lot of crisis before they arise.

Have you ever felt restless? Like you were supposed to be doing something else with your life, or something is missing? I like to think of this restless feeling as God’s way of helping us to realize that we still have room to grow (and I don’t mean in height or weight!). Another way to view this feeling is to look at it as “growing pains”. Remember when you were a child and you would get stomach aches the first week of a new school year? Or maybe you just started a new job and you had those anxious butterflies in the pit of your stomach . . . Yes, I would have to say those are “growing pains”.

A few years ago I was able to attend a convention, the keynote speaker happened to be Sharlene Wells Hawkes, Miss America 1985. She discussed a technique that I feel is imperative to making your life what you want it to be. It is relatively simple and really does not take a lot of effort . . . once you get used to it!

I am sure that many of you have heard of the “comfort zone”. This is a place that we make for ourselves that is easy to be. We rarely take steps out of this safe place because it is hard or maybe a little scary. We stay in the same routine day after day and never do anything that feels uncomfortable, thus we have created our “comfort zone”.

But there is a very interesting fact about our comfort zones and that is that they never stay the same. It is either growing or shrinking! Sharlene goes on to discuss that the only way we can make our comfort zone grow instead of shrink is to consistently take steps outside of it. This means doing things that are hard or maybe even a little scary. But each time you do this your comfort zone will grow.

Rest assured I am not telling you that you need to do anything that is risky or dangerous. I am talking about setting small goals for yourself on a daily or weekly basis that you may find a little difficult. These might include: Getting up a little earlier each day so you can get more accomplished. Or parking your car a little further out than normal so you can get a little more exercise. Maybe you could try choosing carrots instead of cookies if you are trying to lose weight. Each time that you take a small step outside of your comfort zone an amazing thing happens . . . It grows! And it also gets a little easier to take that next step.

Unfortunately, the opposite is true when we choose to remain inside our safe little place and don’t take small chances on a regular basis. It is not easy. And very often, in fact more often than not, our chances will be accompanied by failure. But as Sharlene would say, “Failure doesn’t keep you from success, it leads you to it. . . if you are willing to learn.”

Some of the most successful people I know did not realize their dreams by mere happenstance. It takes effort, it takes desire, and it takes a willingness to learn from our failures. When we choose to let our failures defeat us and we shrink back into our comfortable place it becomes harder and harder to venture out again and our comfort zone gets smaller and smaller. The fact is, that we have all been given special gifts that are ours to develop if we choose. We can use these gifts, not only to improve the quality or our own lives, but also to help others around us. However, we can only do this if we learn to develop these gifts by taking consistent steps outside or our comfort zone and believing in ourselves.

I once heard someone say that in order to be a winner you have to ACT like a winner. I honestly believe this to be true. Our actions speak louder than our words, we can voice what we intend to do but until you take action there is no meaning behind the words. When we are doers our emotions will follow suit. It is hard and scary to attempt something new that is uncomfortable and no doubt our emotions and thoughts tell us that we won’t succeed, that we shouldn’t attempt the unknown. But, it is only in attempting or taking action that we find out what our abilities are and how good we can feel when we achieve a dream.

If you are anything like me, and I believe you are, you are probably saying to yourself right now, “How do I find out what my gifts are?” Or maybe you are thinking, “I don’t have any gifts.” Finding out what your gifts are is much simpler than you may think. Start by making a list of things that you are good at. Maybe you enjoy reading or listening to music. Who knows, you might just have a gift for writing poetry or music.

Second, start listening to, and accepting compliments. This is a great way to discover hidden talents. For example, people consistently comment on how great your hair always looks or what a snappy dresser you are. You might have a real talent in the cosmetology industry or maybe your gift lies in retail sales.

Has anyone ever told you what a great listener you are, or that you are very caring and sensitive? This could lead one to believe that you may be great in a field of social work or another related field. My point is, that sometimes we spend so much time complaining about the gifts that we don’t have that we lose sight of those gifts that are uniquely ours. There is not another person in this world like you , so why not celebrate that fact by being all that God intended you to be and by doing that, we not only help ourselves but, we help others along the way.

Finally, don’t be afraid to dream big. We are the culmination of our dreams put into action. If we stop dreaming we stop living. Don’t let anyone tell you can’t. If you can dream it you can achieve it!

I remember when I was a little girl and my mother gave me a necklace. On the chain was a heart-shaped locket made of glass that had a mustard seed inside. It was accompanied by a little metal plate with this inscription on it: . . .if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, “Move from here to there”, and it will move. –Matthew 17:20

At 5’3” the shortest player in NBA history, Tyrone “Mugsy” Bogues, believed in himself against all odds. He said, “You can do anything you want to do in life, if you have a fierce belief in yourself, a strong will, a big heart, and some role models to inspire you.”

Don’t ever give up on yourself. If you have faith, belief in yourself, the patience to persevere, and most importantly, a positive attitude, you can make your dreams a reality.

Climb ‘Til Your Dreams Come True

By Helen Steiner Rice

Often your tasks will be many, And more than you think you can do . . .

Often the road will be rugged And the hills insurmountable, too . . .

But always remember, the hills ahead Are never as steep as they seem,

And with faith in your heart start upward And climb ‘til you reach your dream,

For nothing in life that is worthy Is ever too hard to achieve

If you have faith to try it And you have the faith to believe . . .

For faith is a force that is greater than knowledge or power or skill

And many defeats turn to triumph if you trust in God’s wisdom and will . . .

For faith is a mover of mountains, there’s nothing that God cannot do,

So start out today with faith in your heart And climb ‘til your dreams come true!”

Assignment: Make a list of the things that you feel that you are good at, or that you have a desire to become good at. Then write down some small goals or steps that you can take outside of your comfort zone to achieve those goals. Record your steps. Start with the small things and soon you will be leaping out of your comfort zone and growing consistently.

Remember, you are doing this for you! Don’t let anyone keep you from your dreams or tell you that you aren’t good enough. Believe that you can be all that God wants you to be and you will become better and stronger than you ever believed possible! Go now, and start expanding your comfort zone!

Thanks for reading! I hope you are enjoying it.

XO, Wendy

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