Thursday, December 29, 2011

Loud and Proud

In my last blog I talked about Living Out Loud and now I guess this blog is really to explain what that happens to look like in this moment in our lives. Its my way I guess of showing you that I don't just blog to tell people what they should be doing with their lives. I actually attempt to practice what I preach. Of course sometimes I fail but even then its ok because sometimes we learn more from our failures than we do from our successes. In this case I hope that its a success and not a failure but only time will tell.

My bucket list grows more and more each week but I'm happy to say that I'm checking things off every chance I get. I marked 3 things off on Halloween night alone. I took my girls trick or treating which also happened to be my first time going as well. Later that night I went to my first haunted house and also shot zombies with paintball guns. Ok so shooting Zombies wasn't really on my bucket list but it was so much fun that I added it after the fact because frankly I think it should be on everyone's list lol. I told you my list was full of fun not so serious things and these are just a couple that I have crossed off my list.

There are of course bigger more serious things on my list and I'm proud to say that one is quickly becoming a reality. There are several things on my list that are things I used to dream of doing and I realized that there is never a better time than now. I tried to figure out what stopped me from doing all these things. Sure there are a million excuses, time and money are the biggest two but really neither of these or any other excuses I came up with really explained what was stopping me. You see thats part of goal setting. You have to think up everything you can that might get in your way and then find a solution. Becoming a photographer has always been a dream of mine. Long before I ever really knew how to work a camera. Now part of this was because I wanted to be like my uber cool Uncle Tim. He is the reason I have done many things like learn to play drums and be adventurous. Then in high school I had the chance to actually learn photography. OK sure it was one class and it certainly didn't make me an expert but it sure made me realize how much I loved it. Then life happened. I grew up, got a job, and got busy with life. While going through Chemo I promised myself I would write down every dream I had and I would think back to old ones. If I still had a desire to do them I would see to it that it happened. Photography was the first on that list the only things stopping me was a camera. Then as a gift from my in-laws this summer I was given the camera of my dreams. So I set out to make it happen. Shawn encouraged me supported me along the way. I'm happy to say that one of my biggest goals on my bucket list is quickly becoming a reality. I have officially started a photography business. Shawn just finished my website last week. You can view my work at and you can also find Beal Photography on facebook. This is what we hope is the first of many changes we are making to our lives. Remember what I said about goal setting. Its not about the future. If it was I never would have taken the first steps to having my own photography website. Its about what you can do right now to make your dreams come true. What that meant for me was going out and taking pictures. It meant setting aside time to read about it, to learn my camera and about editing and most importantly it meant taking pictures as often as I could. I love capturing life! As I said if Loving Out Loud means having compassion than Living Out Loud means having passion and photography is my passion. Its not my only one though so expect to hear more on this topic in the future. Sometimes compassion and passion join forces and I'm hoping that in the not too distant future my passion for photography will join my compassion for something else. More on that if and when it happens.

Many of my past blogs have been about finding purpose and giving back. There are things on my bucket list regarding this as well and I'm hoping that one of them will be a reality in the very near future. This has nothing to do with what I mentioned above with photography. I have been trying to find ways to give back to the breast cancer community since my diagnosis. To use this disease to also give back to God and serve him. Now I won't go into a lot of detail because frankly I'm still working those details out and trying to recruit the people needed to get it started. I will tell you that I'm working on starting a non profit organization for breast cancer survivors. No this isn't about raising money to find a cure. There are already organizations out there that do that and do it quite well. If you would like to help raise money or support one of these organizations the two I recommend are the Susan G. Komen foundation and the IBC Network Foundation This new organization I'm working on is a faith based organization for survivors and their spouses. Its more about healing the soul than the body.There is a lot of work ahead of us. So why blog about it at this stage of the game? Well because for the past several blogs I have talked about reaching out and and seeing the bigger picture. About making a difference in this world while we are here and have the chance. I believe so strongly in finding Gods purpose for us and seeing it through. I want want readers to understand that I don't just talk a big game but try honestly to live by my words but the results are not always immediate.

This is only one part of why I think He put me here but I feel like my readers should know that I don't just say things because they sound good. Things like this take time though and I can assure you that when the time is right there will be more information to follow. In the mean time we will continue to follow God's purpose in our lives however that may look. I'm hoping that overtime there will be more blogs about not just how we intend to live our lives but on how we are actually doing that. I'm not big on new years resolutions because I think that we should be daily living our lives to the fullest and following our dreams but as this year draws to a close I encourage you to think about this next one. Think back on your dreams from the past. Did you see them through? If not what stopped you? Would you still like to see it happen? If so then there is no better time than this moment to commit to doing it. Weather its something silly or serious set out and make it happen. While you are at it look at the bigger picture. What is Gods purpose for you life? What are you doing to for Him today? Maybe its time to make some changes. Think big, dream big because with God all things are possible.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Live Out Loud

Its not often that my house is quiet and I have a moment to sit and write. Don't get me wrong I love the noise of my girls playing, of laughter and giggling coming from their playroom, of children singing or even the fact that I'm still here to hear them fighting but its not often that I can sit in the peace and quiet. When it happens I try and take advantage of it. With Shawn gone and the girls watching a new movie. For once most of my household responsibilities are done I have no excuse to not sit down and fully enjoy this moment and spend it writing. I have been telling myself that I need to make more time to write and I will but I have had to set it aside for a while in order to focus on some other things. In fact that's part of what this particular blog is about and I'm glad I have a chance to sit down and write it. Back when I wrote Love Out Loud I fully had this blog in mind to follow it but then after writing that one I thought this would be over kill. So I let it go...except that it didn't let me go. Every where I turn, every conversation I have had every day since then I have been reminded of this thought of living out loud and not just about doing it myself but about how I must get others to do the same. If Loving Out Loud is about compassion than Living Out Loud is about passion. Its about being mindful of each moment, its about following our hopes and dreams, its about boldly going about our lives and not tip toeing around things, its about sharing our hopes and our dreams and our beliefs with the world.

Living Out Loud means so many things to me but those words has become my overall motto for life these days. Carpe Diem....seize the day. How many times have I heard that saying and never really understood what it means. It means living every single moment of life to its fullest. No it doesn't mean you have to spend every moment doing something exciting like bungee jumping. It means being mindful. Instead of just driving to work and not even remembering how you got there because of the trans you are in or because your mind was so busy thinking about your day and all the things you have to do; being mindful means that you enjoy your drive. You notice the changing colors of the leaves or the music on the radio. You notice how tight your grip gets on the wheel as you sit in traffic frustrated that the person in front of you missed the green light and you now have to wait longer. And instead of getting angry or frustrated you simply take that extra cycle of the light to have a conversation with your children or to hit repeat on your favorite song. Being mindful means making yourself notice whats happening right now and enjoying it. Not spending your time wishing you had done things differently yesterday or worrying about tomorrow. You can't change the past and you may not even have a tomorrow so take the time to enjoy the very moment you are in.

While Living Out Loud means enjoying the moment and being mindful of it it also means setting goals. Now I realize this might sound somewhat in contradiction to the last paragraph but stick with me. Setting goals doesn't mean that you have to spend all your time worrying about them and they don't need to take away from your today. The goals I'm talking about are a little different than planning your future. In a way setting goals helps us figure out who we are in this moment as well. I recently took a workshop during and HR conference at work and one of the classes I took was on goal setting. I heard the coolest thing in that workshop. I can't remember if it was something the speaker had read or if it was something she came up with and I don't even remember her name although I need to go back and figure that out because it was a great class. She said that goal setting is important because even if we fail at a particular goal its OK because as we look back at old goals it reminds us of who we are and what our values were. She said it much more eloquently but that's the basic point she was trying to make. Sometimes we get so caught up in life and what we want or dream of and if you put your goals in writing and find them years later most of the time even if you goal has changed it will remind you of who you were and what your values were. Its nice sometimes to be reminded of that and sometimes we find out that we like that person we used to be and not necessarily who we have become. Then again sometimes we find that we have come a long way and our goals are in conflict with who we have become. OK so if you ware still thinking that setting goals conflicts with living in each moment I can tell you that its doesn't and here is why. Just because we have a goal for the future it should never really be about the end result. It should be more about the process. Each goal we set is really about today. For instance. Someday I would like to be a writer. Now that's all fine and dandy but will I just become a writer because I made it a goal in life? No. You see goal setting is really more about today. What can I do today to make tomorrows goal come true. Will I ever become a writer if I don't write? No. So what can I do about it? Well that's part of the reason I blog. Now at the rate my blog is going I will never become a writer because I hardly ever blog. Honestly though I set this goal aside because I wanted to see a couple others through first. I have a lot of goals and sometimes we have to prioritize them. This one is making its way up the list so don't be surprised if you start to see more blogs in the near future. You see one aspect of Living Out Loud has been figuring out not only who I am but who I hope to be. Its about not wasting this life we have been given. Of course now your probably wondering what was on the top of that list of mine right? Well Shawn and I have been very busy lately that is what my next blog will be about. It will be about more of the results of Living Out Loud rather than the process. Why? Because if I tried to put it all in this one blog it would be crazy long (I'm sure it will be long enough already). Lets just say I have checked a couple more things off that bucket list of mine.

Speaking of that bucket list Living Out Loud also means living boldly and doing things that bring us enjoyment. Its not only about setting goals and seeing them through. Sometimes living out loud means riding the wave of life. Its about not letting opportunities pass you by. This is so important for those of us who are Christians. I think its so important that we live out loud to show others in the world that we don't have to live stuffy lives full of bible study and prayer. Not that I'm against those things but really sometimes we give others this idea that a christian life is no fun. That we aren't allowed to have fun. We act like letting our hair down (OK mine still isn't long enough to go up but you get my point) and doing something nuts like cliff diving or windsurfing would be a sin. Maybe its about concurring your fears and walking through a parking garage or petting a turtle (hey don't laugh those are ligament fears that some unnamed people may or may not have). Or maybe its just about doing something you have always wanted and maybe sometimes its even about doing something so off the wall that the thought never even crossed your mind until now.

Finally Living Out Loud means speaking boldly even though it may surprise or even upset people BUT not BECAUSE it will upset people. Now I say this and most of my Christian friends and followers are nodding their heads in agreement but my guess is your not thinking along the same lines as I am. You see I'm not talking about boldly speaking our beliefs to non Christians. Thats more about the Loving Out Loud. Ya know that song that says “and they'll know we are Christians by our love, by our love”? Well I think our actions should speak to the world but to our fellow Christians sometimes we let things go that we shouldn't. Maybe we just let them believe that because we attend the same church, love and follow the same God and read the same Bible that we believe the same things. I'm pretty guilty of this. Of course I also don't go offering my opinion for no reason either and that's not what I think we should do either. Its about finding that balance between taking an opportunity to speak up and speaking up for the sake of an argument or because we are stubborn. Its a lesson I'm still learning. I seem to want to speak up to argue and not because I feel people should know that many of the things we get so worked up about are not really salvation issues and that many of them are the very things that tend to drive non Christians away for God instead of to him. Now I won't go into what I think those things are here because I don't think upsetting a great deal of people on a blog does any good for the Kingdom of God. Religious discussions/debates are some of mine and Shawn's favorite things to talk about between the two of us and with our close friends. I can tell you though that the best conversations that I have are with our non Christian friends for two reasons. First because they don't just tell you want the want you to here and keep quiet about the things they don't agree with and because they are also much more open to hearing your side of things instead of shutting down because its simply “not what they believe” or because its outside of their tiny conservative box.

This idea of Living Out Loud is one of my favorite things that I have learned from my time fighting cancer. Sometimes I think that I need to move away from talking about cancer and not mentioning it because I don't want to to be one of THOSE people who make everything about cancer. At the same time I feel like that would be short changing myself but more importantly it would be short changing God. I mean after all he choose me to have this cancer knowing full well that I would use it to serve him. By not acknowledging it or shying away from mentioning cancer would be like shying away from the purpose He put me here for. So if you tired of hearing about cancer or religion or find my antics offensive then you should probably not follow this blog. I say what I think and sometimes that upsets people from all walks of life.

I hope after reading this blog you will take a look at your own life. That you will start enjoying each moment of your life and being mindful of all that goes on. That you will seize opportunities that come your way. That you will take some time to set goals both big and small and not just do it to plan out your future but then to figure out what you can do in that moment, today, to make your dreams of tomorrow come true. That you will use those goals to figure out who you are and who you hope to be. I pray that you will Live Out Loud by boldly doing things that bring you enjoyment. That you will make a bucket list and set to marking things off on a regular basis and show the world that we as Christians know how to have a good time and lead adventurous lives. Finally I hope that you will step up and speak boldly to others even if it means that you may be an “outcast” among fellow believers if it means helping to build the Kingdom of Christ which is why we happen to be here. So go live out loud whatever that may look like for yourself and stay tuned for scenes from our next episode in which I tell you about what living out loud has been looking like in our lives for the past few months.