Too many times I rely upon my own strength to get through difficult situations and the stresses of life. I have struggled with perfectionism since I was a child. I tell myself that if I just work longer, push harder, or stay later I can get it all done. Too many times I tell myself that I can do it all, just to get someone else's approval.. In case it isn't obvious, this is an exhausting way to live, and even though I say "I'm fine," it turns out that all I am saying is that I am Frazzled, Irritated, Neurotic, and Exhausted (thanks for that Renee)! Do you ever feel this way? I am learning that this is not the way of life that Christ has planned for us.

Hey friends and newcomers to my blog! If we are Facebook or Twitter friends, then you have seen my recent posts about starting an Online Bible Study (OBS) through Proverbs 31 Ministries. This is my very first OBS, and I am excited! We are reading the book A Confident Heart: How to Stop Doubting Yourself & Live in the Security of God's Promises by Renee Swope. What's interesting is that before I signed up for this study, I stumbled across Renee's blog and found a video series talking about how to build confidence in God. When I saw the OBS was using her book, I knew I had to sign up! I felt my heart saying "this will be good for me!" Yesterday I spent time reading chapter one and reflecting on my story, and I know that God will guide me through this study and teach me what I need to know. My goal in this study is to grow closer to Him and trust and believe HIM for His word that He has promised! I want to learn to stop putting hope in man(kind) and hope in Christ. Our memory verse for the week, Isaiah 49:23b, speaks directly to this desire of my heart. I look forward to sharing my discoveries on the blog, and I pray you will be encouraged by reading my posts. If you are interested in learning more about and/or joining this study, please visit www.proverbs31.org or click on the radio button on the right. Please feel free to comment and share stories as well! Make it a great day!
Then you will know that I am the Lord. Those who hope in me will not be disappointed. 
Isaiah 49:23b
Greetings blog followers and readers. I have had an extended absence from La Mia Passione due to my busy summer. Summer this year included two trips home to visit family. That was followed by my first international mission trip to Honduras and a trip to Virginia Beach! This fall I am excited to get back to writing, and I cannot wait to tell you all about my adventures! But first things first...here's what's currently on my mind. Today I had the rare luck of being able to squeeze in two health appointments in one day, and in so doing I was able to take the day off. This morning I had an appointment bright and early with the Sleep Center to talk about how I have been doing with my weight loss and CPAP Use. My CPAP use is up...and sadly so is my weight. I've gained 3 pounds since my last visit to be precise. That probably does not sound like much, but for someone who's goal is to lose weight and say goodbye to the CPAP machine forever, those 3 pounds were discouraging.

GM! Currently writing today's post from the airport in Memphis. I rose early today, just before 5:15 am. I didn't take a photo, so you'll have to take my word for it. I can barely keep my eyes open as I wait for my flight to board. Praising God that the airline employee switched me to a non stop flight...such a blessing!Key point from today's reading: be a blessing to others. The purpose of this challenge is to work on self so that one can help others. Because the airline employee blessed me, I will be able to make it to work earlier than if I had taken the previous flight, which will give me more time to pour into and bless the students that I work with.Be encouraged today, and find small and big ways to make an impact on those around you today. Make it a great day!
Happy Monday! 

Update on my Early-to-Rise Challenge. Although I did not post on Friday, I did rise early. 3:oo AM to be exact. I had to catch the shuttle for my super stealth flight to Memphis. I surprised my family for the weekend. So please forgive me for not being coherent enough to post at that hour of the day!

Key point of the day from Friday's reading (which I did complete!): Our best ideas come to us early in the day. Andy Traub encourages us to wake up early to meet our good ideas. My ultimate goal is to rise at 5 AM on Weekdays to do prayer, devotion, breakfast & coffee at home before work. So far I am up to 5:45. Woohoo! Baby steppin' with Bob!

I am not doing the challenge on weekends, and I took today off for vacay, so I will pick back up with the readings and posts on tomorrow morning when I am back in DC. Enjoy the day!
Morning. Having trouble uploading my picture today. I did not rise from bed until 6:20 AM, twenty minutes after my target wake up time. I wanted to stay in bed longer than that but I finally pulled myself up. Today's reading is right on point. Andy talks about the spirit of the Challenge. He says not to be legalistic about getting up early. Some days it just won't happen. For me, today rising at 6 am just didn't happen. The lesson of the day is to allow yourself grace when you don't meet the goals you set for yourself. 

If you know me, You know I am a planner, so meeting my goals and sticking with the schedule I set are important to me. But over the last six months I have learned that it is not about the plan, the schedule, the bed time, or any of those things. It is about becoming the best me I can be. So I didn't rise early today. I'll make the most of my early morning time and try again tomorrow instead of making myself feel bad for not rising early today. My coffee is perking and I am ready for my blueberry waffles and another great day. 

Do you allow yourself grace when things don't go as planned?

 I have been overcome with grief recently with the upcoming Father's Day holiday. It is difficult to watch all of the commercials and advertisements for Father's Days gifts and showing your dad you appreciate him. I cannot even open my email, watch the news, or look at the paper for all the ads screaming "buy this for your awesome dad!" There are never any news reports or commercials on what to do when the holiday is celebrating a person you have lost. Last night I wondered how people before me have dealt with this. The silver lining is that I know I am not the first nor the last person to deal with this, and that offers me minimal solace. Thanks to a good friend, I have started brainstorming ways that I can remember and honor my dad on Father's Day instead of shrinking and ignoring it, which was my previous plan. 

Sitting here with my cup o' joe thinking that but for the grace of God am I out of bed today. And on time!  Day 8 of the Early to Rise Challenge and I am sticking to it. But truthfully, it is not easy. 

Today's key point from Early to Rise: We are all artists, whether our art is parenting, writing, or encouraging high school students to make a plan for their lives post-high school graduation. The goal of the next few weeks is to ship something. Ship is another way of saying create something. The term was coined by Seth Godin. Andy Traub, author of Early to Rise, says "It is not shipping unless you get it out into the world. Get it out of your head and into the world." There are several things I have been meaning to ship since I began this challenge for the first time. I plan to write a book (more details on this later), write my hair story, launch other parts of my website, and improve the way I do my job. I also plan to reintegrate art into my life through learning to crochet/knit and taking up painting again. All things that I am excited to do and share with you!
What will you ship over the next few weeks?  Here are some ideas. Please reply and add to the list!

Draw something.
Write a letter. 
Write the book you have always wanted to write. 
Listen to others.

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one. - Mark Twain

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
Morning fellow early to risers! Hope your day is off to a great start. I actually woke up around 5:30 but I admit I chose to stay in bed and catch up on Facebook instead of using my extra time wisely. But I finally got out of bed and got my day started at 5:54, which is 6 minutes earlier than my goal.

The topic of today's reading: How long does it take to build a habit? Different sources suggest different times. The shortest is 30 days, but others suggest that it may take longer. Regarding this Early to Rise Challenge from my experience, it will take longer than thirty days for me to build the habit of rising early. Maybe habit building differs from person to person or varies by habit. How long does it take you to build a habit? To work on building my habits, I signed up for Lifetick, and more recently Lift. These are websites that allow you to check in daily on habits that you want to build, such as making the bed, eating breakfast, etc. Lift was not available to android or online users when I first started this program, but now that it is available, I prefer it over Lifetick. Lift is a quick way to track habits and see tangible evidence of habit building. They send you a daily report on how you're doing. As of today, I have made my bed for 30 consecutive days. Go me!! If you want to try Lift, send me a message with your name and email address. I still have a few referrals left and I can send those out. Hopefully, it will be available as an Android app soon and not just online.

Today I am listening to the Pine Forge Academy Choir to get me ready for the day. How Can I Keep From Singing is one of my faves. The video below is of another choir, sung just as beautifully. What do you listen to in the mornings to get you ready for a powerful day? Make it a great day, y'all.

As you can see, I rose at 6:06 today. Took me a little longer to pull myself from the bed. This is probably due in part to the fact that I was so dehydrated over the weekend and felt very sluggish. But I made it up relatively on time!

Recap of the weekend Early to Rise: Few things are within our control, but rising early is one of them. This is a challenge. If it were easy, everyone would be doing it. Glad that I am revisiting this challenge so that I can make rising early a habit that lasts beyond 30 days. 

Today's key point: Adjust your attitude. Distractions will probably occur, but adjust the way you deal with them by adjusting your attitude. My attitude problem around rising early is generally the same. I whine to myself, saying "I don't want to get up, I want to stay in the warm, cozy, comfort of my bed." I have to remind myself that this, life, is an adventure. And we only get one life, so we better make the most of it. Today's adventure: starting senior clearance week at the high school. Praying for peace and God's grace. Translated: I 

Make it a wonderful day. :)