The Productive Woman 015 – Dealing With Discouragement [podcast]


We'll pick up in a future episode on our mini-series on decluttering, but this week I thought I'd share a little of my heart on something I've been dealing with lately–discouragement. It can interfere with our productivity and our quality of life in general, but there are some things we can do to disable its power over us.

Tool of the Week:

The Ben Franklin Day Planner Template for Moleskine; created by Bob Stanke based on the day planner method reportedly used by Benjamin Franklin. Check out the YouTube video explaining what it is and how you can use it. You can buy the template for $1.99 at Bob Stanke's website.


Topic of the Week: Dealing With Discouragement


Why do we get discouraged?

An article by Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in California (see the reference below), suggests:

  • Fatigue
  • Frustration
  • Failure
  • Fear

And I toss in another one: hormones.

What effect can discouragement have on us?
  • It can derail us from accomplishing the things we care about
  • It can isolate us
What are some steps we can take to overcome discouragement?
  • Rest
  • Reorganize our lives to get a better handle on the overload that's getting us down
  • Ask for help
  • Take some time to journal how we're feeling, what's causing it, what we might do to change those causes
  • Stop comparing ourselves to others!
  • Focus our thinking on positive, encouraging things – check out the quotes at the Facebook page
  • Cultivate a grateful heart – celebrate the small accomplishments
  • Turn your focus to someone else – find someone to help or encourage

Some great resources to look at:


Your turn: Do you feel discouraged sometimes? How do you deal with discouragement? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook. And don't forget to check out the other podcasts that make you think, laugh, and succeed at!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

What If You Fly?

I've started a collection of inspirational quotes I find on Facebook. Lately the ones that have caught my attention relate to overcoming fear and stepping out in faith toward accomplishing my dreams.

IMG_0486As I've written before (for example, here), most of my life I've been afraid to try new things for fear of failing, and even more, fear of looking foolish in front of other people. I've missed so many opportunities because of fear.

IMG_0485The older I've gotten, though, the more I've realized life is too short to sit on the sidelines, watching everybody else have all the fun. So although I'm still afraid a lot of the time, I've been trying to drag myself out of my comfort zone, swallow hard, and try things instead of just dreaming. Like the podcast I launched earlier this month.

IMG_0506It sort of comes down to this question: Am I more afraid of failing, or more afraid of reaching the end of my life, looking back, and saying, “If only . . .”?

IMG_0509For now, it's the latter.

It's still easy for me to think about the things that could go wrong, about the ways I could embarrass myself, especially when I choose to attempt something new in a public arena. But I'm trying to remind myself to focus on the positive–the wonderful things that could result, the joy I could experience (and maybe bring to other people).

IMG_0773Yes, when we dream big and step out in the direction of our dreams, failure is a possibility. But oh . . . what if we succeed?


What about you? Is there something you've dreamed about but been afraid to try? What amazing things could happen if you try and succeed? What could I do to help you take a step toward giving it a shot?

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me

**Honor and credit are due to the unknown artists created the beautiful graphics in this post. I only wish I could be that artistic.**

Gratitude on Purpose

The last couple of years I've seen what appears (to me at least) to be a new trend of replacing new year's resolutions with a “word of the year”–a word that creates a focus for the year. I don't go out of my way to look for one, but rather suddenly in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day I felt like a word had been given to me for 2014.

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That word is gratitude. But I haven't really told anybody or talked about it. Yet in the last few days I've had more than one reminder to be grateful. At one point when I was struggling with sadness and frustration, a friend reminded me to not focus on the things I lack, but to instead be grateful for the blessings I do have. At the end of his text message he said this:

“Then, just focus on all the good you have in your life. Be grateful for all your blessings. . . . If you want more then that's ok. However, one doesn't usually get more until they accept and appreciate what they already have.”

This was a profound and much needed reminder at just that time.

Then as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed Sunday morning, I came across a tweet with this question:

“What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”

I couldn't help wondering what would be left in my life. What did I thank God for yesterday?

My inclination is to look at what's missing in my life. Not so much in terms of material things, because I'm well aware that I'm blessed. My focus tends to be on the intangibles, including what I lack in terms of character, what I need to improve in my mind and behavior, what perhaps I feel I'm missing in terms of friends and free time. I have to be reminded constantly to be thankful for what I have. To look for something to be grateful for in every circumstance and situation. I tend to see how far I have to go and forget how far I've come.

A few years ago when I was in that frame of mind a friend assigned me the “homework” of starting a list of things I'm grateful for, and look at it every day for a month. The exercise changed my attitude and my life. I still have that list. I don't look at it every day, but from time to time, especially if I'm feeling down, I pull it out, read it over, and add to it.

No matter the situation, there is always something to be grateful for. As Abraham Lincoln supposedly once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”


This year I am on a quest to look for the roses, even when I'm feeling the thorns.

Your turn: If you woke up this morning with only what you'd thanked God for yesterday, what would you have left? Does that question change your thinking about what to thank God for today? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you have any secrets for remembering to be grateful no matter what, I'd sure love to hear them.

Best wishes to you in the coming year. Let's keep in touch.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me

Only For the Weak

I've been thinking lately about what it means to be a Christian, and what it takes to be a “good” Christian. I've spent a lot of time in church from my childhood, been involved in ministry in one capacity or another for a lot of years, listened to a lot of sermons.

100_1458One of the things I've struggled with over the years is finding the right balance between “works” and grace. I believe we are saved by grace alone, “not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:9). But I've heard it taught, and I believe, that those who've accepted that grace have an obligation to “live a life worth of the calling . . .” (Ephesians 4:1). And sometimes–maybe not for you, but certainly for me–it's hard to live that worthy life.

When I struggle to be the kind of person that I long to be, I appreciate the lyrics of a song called “Only for the Weak,” recorded by Avalon (click on the title to hear it in YouTube):

“Some say it's rules and regulations, and trying to always be right,
No room for mistakes in the choices we make,
Only the strong survive.
But it's not about perfect performance or resolution of will,
It's all about surrender,
Giving up, being still.

It's only for the weak, for the faint of heart,
Those driven to their knees, those who live with scars.
There's power from beyond, we're certain where it's from,
And that's our source of strength.
Before we follow Christ, we need to be advised
It's only for the weak.”

I guess the point is that while what we do matters, Christianity is based on grace. And grace means that ultimately it's not about what we do, but what He's done.

I am grateful that I don't have to have it all together all the time.

How about you?
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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

Is It Ever Too Late?

I've had many conversations with women about the things they wish they had done. And often they lament the fact that it’s too late now.

But when is it really too late to start something you’ve always wanted to do?

Writer and speaker Michael Hyatt offers a response in his book, Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. He asks these questions: When is the best time to plant a tree? Twenty years ago. When is the second best time to plant a tree? Today.

The same is true of our dreams. Maybe the best time to start was five or ten or twenty years ago, but the second best time to start is now. And really, as long as you’re still alive, it’s never too late to start.

I’ve written elsewhere about how my husband and I married at eighteen and had our first child when we were twenty. By the time I was thirty, we had three children, and I was pregnant with our fourth. I was busy homeschooling our children, teaching childbirth classes, and serving in music ministry with Mike at our church. In my mid-thirties I began thinking again about a longtime dream of going back to college (I had taken a few semesters of college classes in my early twenties). With my husband’s encouragement and support, I went back to school to get my bachelor of arts in political science. I still remember the day I walked across campus to attend my first classes. Looking at all those young people, I distinctly remember thinking, “What in the world am I doing here? I don’t belong. I’m too old to be a college student.” But with a pounding heart and shaking hands, I started anyway, and two years later (one month after the birth of our fifth child) I graduated from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. I might have been one of the oldest students graduating that day, but my degree was just as good as those earned by those youngsters–and my husband and children celebrated the milestone with me!

222659_1032295458668_2757_nAs if that wasn’t enough, a few weeks later, I moved with my family from Nebraska to New York, where I started law school at age 35. This was something I’d dreamed of as a teenager, but life intervened and the dream got put aside for decades. Interestingly, I wasn’t the oldest student in my class. One of my classmates was in his late forties! Maybe because I’d waited so long for this opportunity, maybe because I’d lived in the real world before getting there, but I felt like my age actually was an advantage, both in law school and when I started my legal career at age 38.

I could point to any number of people I know who’ve started something new and challenging “later” in life–like my friend who married the summer after she graduated from high school and then many years later went back to school after she’d raised her children. She recently earned her master’s degree with her adult children and their children there to cheer her on. And there's my amazing husband, who just earned his master's in mechanical engineering this spring and started a brand new career–at age 52!

My point, of course, is that it’s never too late to start. If there’s a dream you’ve discarded because you think you’ve missed your chance, please think again. Pull that dream out of the trash, brush it off, and think for moment: what’s one little step you could take today (or tomorrow) to move in the direction of that dream.

What about you? Is there a dream you’ve set aside that maybe deserves a chance? What small step could you take toward making that dream a reality? Perhaps just the small step of saying it out loud? Feel free to share it in the comments below.

**Housekeeping note: I published an “extra” post last Friday, but due to a technical glitch it didn't go out to my subscribers. Bad news, because it included a giveaway of four great novels. If you haven't seen that post, be sure to check it out here (AFTER you leave your comments on this post below) and get your chance to receive a free copy of one of the novels I wrote about.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me