This past weekend was one of my best ever since in the "me-time" sense. Once I got married and especially once we had kids, there have not been many days, particularly consecutive days, that have been all about doing things that I want to do. Don't get me wrong, I would not trade my life now for the world and I love being with my family more than anything else, but gosh it feels good to be a little selfish from time to time, right? So on Friday I headed south to Tennessee, did a little shopping (well, a lot of shopping) sans kiddos, and then headed to Gatlinburg for my best friend's bachelorette weekend (more on that to come later). Then on Sunday morning I woke up not-so-bright and very early (after a late night of course!) and drove back to Lexington in the rain to attend Delta Gamma's Founders Day brunch for the University of Kentucky. I was a DG at Tennessee and was so incredibly honored to be asked to be the alumni speaker at UK's event this year. I can still remember thinking how awesome it would be to speak at one of these someday, but I'm not sure that I ever thought it would actually happen. Fast forward to 2012 and a DG alumni from UK began coming to TurningPoint Church and since the theme of this year's event was "Bloom Where You Are Planted," she thought what better than a church planter to speak on the topic?
After sharing a bit of our church planting story, I expanded on the topic of not just growing, but truly blooming throughout your life. I firmly believe that we should all be committed to growing constantly, always bettering ourselves and striving to do more good in this world and in our own personal lives, but to bloom is to find true happiness. People who "bloom" have that extra little something- that thing that you can't quite put your finger on, but it's an outpouring of joy from the overflow in his or her own life. A person who blooms is living on purpose, has generally found the thing he or she was made to do and is pursuing it passionately. I'd like to think that I am that way, or at least on my way there, and I shared a few things that I think help a person acheive this. And to break it down even further, I compared it to what an actual plant needs not only to survive and grow, but to truly bloom:
1. The Seed - What are you trying to grow?
In order to expect flowering results, you need to know what you're growing, as in, what do you want the final product to look like? Essentially, if you were to set goals for what your life would look like in one, five, and ten years, then that would be the plant that you would want to cultivate. Throughout the days of your life, any decisions that would take you off of the path that would get you to this end-result place would not be worth pursuing. For example, a farmer planting corn does not take care of that crop the way he'd take care of a tulip, or he would not produce fruit. And a gardner planting tulips would not tend to them the way he would tend to corn or he would never see those beautiful blooms. You have to know what you're growing to know where you're going.
2. The Soil - What is surrounding that seed?
We've all heard that there is such thing as "good soil" and "bad soil" for gardnening, and the same is true in this case. For a plant, soil is what surrounds, protects, and nourishes the seed, so for us, the soil is essentially who and what we have surrounding and nourishing us. If we surround ourselves with negative nay-sayers who do not encourage us or challenge us to meet our goals, then chances are we will never accomplish them. Likewise, if we surround ourselves with positive people who lift each other up and motivate one another, it's more likely that we'll find success. Find people who are ambitious, loving, encouraging, and want to help you get where you're going in life. Also, if you meet someone who seems to have what you want in your life, whether it be the career, family, or habits that you would like to see in your future, ask him or her to be a mentor. Mentorship is seriously underrated and underutilized in our culture and chances are that this person could probably give you some great advice on how to get to where you want to be if he or she has already walked that path. As my husband oftens says: show me a picture of your inner circle and I'll show you a picture of your future. Have you ever considered that maybe you need to weed your inner circle?
3. Water - What are you pouring in?
Everyone knows that a plant needs water to grow, just as our own bodies need nourishment. But not only is taking care of our physical bodies important, which it most certainly is, but being aware of what we're putting into our minds is equally as important. Since graduating college I have pretty much been able to choose what it is that I'm going to study on a day-to-day basis. Sure I can (and have) twiddled away my time by perusing Facebook and celebrity gossip magazines, but at the end of the day I realize that there is really no benefit in it. I may have seen someone's awesome vacation photos, but that still doesn't mean that I got to benefit from that at all and probably just envied it if I was really honest. Or I could use that same amount of time to open up books about being a better wife or parent, a better leader, a better friend, or just to read someone that encourages me. Don't get me wrong... I think there is a time and a place for the "fluff" and I love a good fiction book as much as the next person, but we all need some heartier stuff in our lives to really enrich our minds.
4. Sunlight - Everyone needs a little sunshine!
You will never fully "bloom" to your full potential if you don't believe that you will! If you have a dream for your life, even if it's a big, crazy, scary dream, believe that you can do it! If you know what you're growing and you know what you need to do to get there, don't stop until you accomplish what it is that you set out to do! It won't always be easy, and you should not expect it to be, but being positive and getting back up when life knocks you down is essential to see these things happen. And don't keep that sunshine to yourself... be a friend that is a light to others, reminding them that they can get to where they're going, too. Not only will you spread positive energy, but people want to be around that and will be drawn to you, which certainly helps! Be a person that people want to have around and that company will more likely want to hire you or that person will want to ask you on the date or whatever it may be... it's that extra little something that other people notice.
I cannot tell you how much fun it was to share this stuff this past weekend to a room full of 200 young women. I never really pegged myself as one who was a great public speaker (that's my husband's job) but I get it now- when you're passionate about what you're talking about, it gets easier. I tried to say the things that I wish I had been told when I was in college and share that. Now whether or not I would have listened is a different story entirely, but I wanted to let them know that they can get where they're wanting to go as long as they keep a big picture in mind and work toward that. It takes time, it takes work (lots of work), it takes endurance, and it takes a "can do" attitude, but nothing is out of reach if we don't allow it to be. I hope you get a little something out of this, too. So get out there, refocus on what lies ahead, and get after it! In a world full of people just going through the motions, take the steps to ensure that you will bloom where you are planted!