3 Keys to Transforming Your Life

Gabrielle “Gabby” Giffords didn’t get the choice as to whether she wanted to transform her life. A deranged shooter who put a bullet in her brain made that choice for her. She went from being a vibrant Congresswoman in the United States House of Representatives to being a childlike replica of her old self. She had to fight for the word spoon and how to say I Love You again. Oh, she’s coming back. She’s ready for the fight. But it’s not the one she would have chose. (Pictured left: the old Gabby and the new Gabby following the shooting)

The rest of us have a choice. We get to decide how our lives look. We wake up and decide whether we’ll do the same old thing we’ve been doing the day before, or if today is going to be different. Two weeks ago Monday I decided that I’d had it with my out of control eating. I didn’t like huffing and puffing up the stairs and I certainly didn’t like the eyes of my 20-year old US Army Combat Diver son as he watched me eating potatoe chips and dip.

In that moment, I decided to go from fat to fit. I’ve been overweight at least 21 years now. (Funny, my son is going to be 21 next month but I’m not blaming anyone.) Oh, at first it was a mere 20 pounds, then 35, then 50. Before I knew it my 5’6″ frame was carrying 207.4 pounds, at least 57.4 pounds overweight. This wasn’t the woman I wanted to be.

So I decided to change. In that one instant.

In the first week I lost 4.2 pounds. Mainly, I used Weight Watchers. I got up and moved 6 out of 7 days, even though I would’ve preferred lounging in bed in the early morning. I drank more water than I had in the past 10 years combined.

What do you need to do?
-Create more income
-Find your soul mate
-Change careers
-Get rid of your clutter
-Improve your finances
-Become a better you

It can be done. I will do it. And you can do it too.

The 3 Keys to Transforming Your Life:
Key #1: Decide. Everything starts with a decision. Write that decision down. My fat to fit decision looked like this. I will go from Fat to Fit at 50. Simple.

Key #2: Get help. You’ll need a support team. I joined Weight Watchers. I created my own blog, mainly to keep myself accountable.

Key #3: Create a plan, even if it’s just a sketch on the back of a napkin. What would this success look like? What are the baby steps you need to take to get started?

Making a lasting change, starting anything new…remodeling your life isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.


The Most Insane Reason of All Not To Work

I hear people who receive Social Security saying they don’t want to get a job because it’ll “limit their benefits”. I get this. It’s easier to sit on your butt and collect your Social Security check every month than it is to get up, dress up, make up and go out and make your mark on the world. It’s easier to walk to the mailbox every month than it is to go to work or start your own business.

But what is the cost to your mind, your body and your soul?

I’m convinced that retirement is man made. God gave each of us talents and pursuits and dreams that are part of our divine destiny. We’re never supposed to retire. The only thing is, some of us forgot them as we weaved our way through the life maze of jobs and taxes and doctor’s appointments and dinner. We got too busy with birthday parties and veterinatian appointments and retirement planning to take seriously the dream that’s buried deep in our soul.

It’s never too late. Never. We’re meant to expire doing and creating. We’re designed to use our wisdom for good.

Quit puttering. Quit waiting for the mail to arrive. Quit being comfortable and normal. Quit being average.

Surprise everyone and dust off your dreams. If that means going out and getting a job in a place you’ve never considered before, do it. If that means starting a business using some of your hard-earned cold hard cash, do it. If that means volunteering your talents or deciding to go against the flow of what everyone else is doing, do it.

It doesn’t matter how old you are. It matters how courageous you are.

Hitler wanted to be a painter. He attended Art and Architecture school. He defied his destiny of art and instead created one of the most hellacious holocausts our world has ever experienced. It was easier for him to create World War II than it was for him to fulfill his God given providence. (Source: The War of Art by Steven Pressfield) Hitler worked, he just worked on all the wrong things.

Allow yourself to let that tiny little piece of hope well up in your soul again. Dare to finish the sentence…”What if…” Be ready to fail. Because providence and destiny are built on the rubble of broken dreams.

Just don’t let the TV and the recliner be your excuse for not fulfilling your special place on this planet. Don’t let the pittance of Social Security you receive be your insane reason not to work. Don’t let your age be an excuse not to try.

Age doesn’t matter. You have a job to do. Get busy.

What Does a Well-Lived Life Look Like?

I attended my friends’ Dads memorial service yesterday. He was 75 and died watching Monday night football and reading the Wall Street Journal. Two of the things he loved most in life.

I watched as his 5 children shared their most poignant memories of life with their Dad. I kept hearing the same words…relationships, people, God, joy, happiness, sharing, cooking, travel and Kansas City Chiefs. They seemed to reverberate throughout every single person’s words without ever being said exactly the same.

The grandchildren shared. His grandson exuberantly and without tears said “Grandpa, you were a great Grandpa. I’m gonna miss you so much. You taught me how to fish, how to watch football, how to treat a woman by watching how you treated my Grandma.”


My 20-year old son leaned over to me during the service and said “Now that’s a man who knew how to live.” Which got me into my writer mode thinking…what is a well-lived life?

What will they say about me when I’m gone? My son filled that one in with he’s going to host a parade and throw candy and have Kansas City’s most famous marching cobras band lead the way. Whatever.

What is a well lived life? Ken Zagnoni’s life was a well-lived life. This is what it looked like.

The Well-Lived Life

When you spend your time working on relationships, making people smile and when your children and grandchildren not only love you, but respect you, that is a well-lived life. When you bring meaning to many simply by being who God designed you to be, that is divine. When you make people your purpose, your passion and your pursuit, life takes on a beauty that radiates like the sun. Life is messy. Bad things happen. But when you wake each morning focused on God and His glorious goodness, each day becomes a reason to celebrate. May the well-lived life be a light to many, a gift to the generations and a legacy to follow. Few complete the travels this magically. It is a journey worth remembering.
The Well-Lived Life is Copyrighted 2011 Cheryl Thompson, EncouragementToGo™

Thanks Ken for sharing your well-lived life with us. I could only hope to do as well.

Do You Know What Time the Mail Comes?

If you know what time your mailman comes, then you have too much time on your hands.

Getting the mail isn’t an event to aspire to, it’s a daily or weekly chore. I only get my mail once every 7 days. Probably drives my mailman crazy. But the point is, 90% of all mail is negative or junk and getting it out of the mailbox every day isn’t isn’t changing the world for the better.

I like getting the mail. Yesterday, I got a invitation to my grandson’s 2-year old Mickey Mouse birthday party. Now, that was worth getting the mail for. The rest of the stuff was unimportant or totally useless.

Allow yourself a one week trial of NOT getting the mail. Try it for just one week. Don’t get the mail, and then go get it all at once. It’s alot more fun.

Life Gives Do-Overs

Age is a funny thing. We begin to think that who we are today is who we are always going to be. It’s not. Who I am at 50 is a distant replica of who I was at age 30. What’s changed? Me.

I’ve had experiences that have transformed who I am and what I like. I have different goals today. I’m doing less and being more.

I know that having my husband as my best friend after being together for 36 years (married for 30) is better than winning the lottery. I’ve raised 3 kids and have learned that they are teaching me as often as I’m teaching them. I know that being a Mother is a lifetime event.

I’ve become a Grandma and look nothing like the Mother I was at 25. I never scream and I take time. Max is my joy, my tiny bit of Christmas that shows up 365 days a year. I never feel like my nerve endings are located on the outside of my body like I did while I was raising kids.

I’ve failed financially and am still making my comeback. I went from being a huge success in the world’s eyes to being a dismal failure. During this time, I’ve honed skills I never knew I had like perseverance and creativity and my ability to write. I still believe that a comeback is possible.

Professionally, I’m still deciding who I really am. Am I a marketing consultant, a professional blogger, an information-marketer? Am I an author or a speaker or perhaps all of the above. Can I possibly do all these things and do them well. Time will tell.

I’ve become more tolerant and less judgmental. I listen more and talk less (even though I still talk a whole heckuva lot). I laugh often and treat people kindly. I believe every single word of the Bible and am amazed at how little I know about it, despite sitting in a church pew every single Sunday of my life.

The point of all this is…life is teaching. I’m still learning. Are you? Life gives do-overs. All you have to do is start.

She Said "I Do" at 73

She was my Grandma GG. She married her second husband Jim at age 73, when many think she should’ve been done with romance and carrying on.

I’ll never forget the day she told me. We were sitting in my burgandy colored living room. I was 30 years old and had just delivered my 3rd baby. She told me there was someone she liked. I asked her if she loved him. She blushed and nodded yes.

I dreamily began planning a wedding that very moment. Her grandson could walk her down the aisle. I’d do the invitations. We’d reserve the small chapel at the First Baptist Church. The month of June would be lovely.

Grandma would have none of that. She eloped the next day.

Her daughters were furious. She hadn’t consulted them and they knew he (Jim, Grandma’s new husband) had to be a golddigger. Grandma had almost a million dollars worth of real estate and was doing quite well for a woman with an 8th grade education, a former alcoholic husband and 3 kids.

Grandma and Jim were an item for the next 10 years. They were rarely apart. Even when Alzheimer’s took over her mind, Jim loved her. They watched The Price is Right every morning and Wheel of Fortune at night and ate vanilla ice cream cones. He showed up daily when she was moved to the nursing home and when she didn’t recognize him anymore, he was still there.

Age doesn’t matter when you truly love someone. Grandma loved Jim. Jim loved Grandma. That was a fact. (Grandma never divulged her real age to Jim, even after they married…I think he thought she was 6 years younger than she really was. At birthday parties we were banned from mentioning it.)

How To Never Grow Old

The best way to grow old is to do nothing. The second best way to grow old is to do nothing new.

If you want to stay young, you must do these 3 simple things every single day.

#1: Learn
#2: Work
#3: Play

What makes me an authority? I don’t have an MBA or a PhD behind my name. I haven’t written a thesis on aging and you definitely can’t consider me a gegerontologist. The closest I’ve ever been to Ponce DeLeon’s Fountain of Youth was watching Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. (Highly recommended by the way.) I do consider myself an expert on people.

Retirement has a way of making people old and purposeless. I watch retirees every single day and I’m amazed at how little they ask of life. You’ll never have more wisdom, my experience and more money than you do in the last 1/3 of your life.

Last week I was at the library (where I do my best blogging) sitting in the bank of 12 computers. An unusually well-coifed woman was sitting next to me with the library’s computer tech beside her. He asked her to enter her birthdate for her password.

She told him out loud it was 7/24/24. I did the math in my head. She was 87. She looked 65. Think it has something to do with her lifelong learning?

It’s never too late to grow young. I’m not advocating plastic surgery or bungi jumping. You don’t have to sky-dive like former President Bush did on his 85th birthday at Kennebunkport.

Maybe it’s as simple as picking up a book on a subject you’ve always wanted to know more about. Or holding the jumprope for you 8 year old granddaughter.

Learn. Work. Play. The lifelong formula for success.