Author: Jenny K. Brown

Anyone can find success and happiness, but most of us can't seem to get around the obstacles and roadblocks that are keeping us from reaching our goals. Sometimes we just have trouble seeing the big picture and drawing out that SMART Action Plan. Together, we can create your SMART Action Plan - whether you need to get in shape, find a new job, get better control of your finances, or finally get that house organized. I will be your coach and mentor, uncovering those obstacles that are keeping you from your goals, and coaching you through strategies to overcome them. My sessions are both interactive and hands-on, allowing you to discover the root of your obstacles and to find personalized solutions that work for you.

Trust in “The Plan”

Yesterday I was reminded of a job I had for *just a minute* back in early 2009. About 5 months prior, I had been forced to resign from a company I had been with for 5 1/2 years – right at the peak (or valley, rather) of the recession in 2008. Because jobs weren’t plentiful at that time, I went where I knew they would be hiring (for the holiday season) – retail. And after spending a holiday season as a team leader in retail, I was looking for any way out. It came via a man who wined and dined me to join his small company – a local coupon/discount magazine – as his “Director of Operations”. He promised so many things that I yearned for at the time: money, status and a great title, and the ability to create and streamline business systems. Here is a post heading into that first day on the job:

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It’s funny. In looking at this post now, I can almost sense that I somehow knew something was “off” about this job. Sure enough, after just ONE DAY on the job, my post looked like this:

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(Remember back then that Facebook was like “Jenny……(fill in the blank)…” – hence why I posted in 3rd person perspective.)

Sure enough, about 5-6 weeks later, I went running out the door and into the arms of retail management. Mind you, I was thankful to have a job, but the next 2 years were some of the toughest of my life. I HATED the retail schedule. Working a different schedule every week that included some late nights, some early mornings, and days off that were in the middle of the week and didn’t coincide with my friends – was very taxing on me. (Of course, I know NOW that it’s because I’m BLUE – and BLUES like routine. To learn more about that, go here.) BUT, if I wouldn’t have left that awful 6-week job, and if I wouldn’t have taken the retail management job, I wouldn’t have met my husband, and I wouldn’t have my beautiful daughter. It means that I wouldn’t have moved to Bristol and made the connections that I needed to get my coaching practice off of the ground. It also means that I probably wouldn’t have this awesome house by the lake, and I wouldn’t yet (or maybe ever) have my own coaching practice.

We’ve all heard cliche statements about “fate” and “karma” or “God’s Plan”. People especially love to throw those phrases at you when you’re down and out and being kicked about by seemingly all aspects of life. It’s supposed to encourage us. And yet, when you are really down and out, it seems to have completely the opposite effect and makes us throw up in our mouths just a little.

Trust me: I get it. I know what it’s like to lose a job and struggle with finances and feel that there is no way out but bankruptcy. I know what it’s like to lose all grandparents before I even reached high school, and both parents before I even reached 40. I know what it’s like to wait for that “special someone” until you are in your mid-30s. And I also know what it’s like to lose a child. I get hardship and the emotions that come with it. And I wanted to throat-punch everyone that said something like, “Everything happens for a reason.”

BUT – I also know what it’s like to come out on the other side – stronger, wiser, and more resilient than ever. And when I look back on the experiences I’ve been through, each one equipped me with a skill, knowledge, or strength that I didn’t possess prior to that experience. Or maybe – in the case of that insane job I had for about 6 weeks – we need experiences to get us back on the track that is intended. Think of them as guardrails or those annoying ridges on the sides of the road that make that terrible noise when you veer off too far. These nasty experiences sometimes exist because we have veered off the intended path, and it takes something that loud or jarring to get us going back in the right direction.

Whether or not you believe in God….whether or not you consider yourself religious or spiritual…..you can’t deny that there is a greater force at work here. Civilization has been telling stories of “fate” or “the force” (for you Star Wars fans) or “yin and yang” or some other greater power or being for thousands upon thousands of years. There is a Greater Plan for all of us. We may not know what it is, and we may not know how we are going to get “there”. But we have to trust that the universe knows what it’s doing. It’s hard to trust – REALLY hard. But sometimes to fight against the intended path only creates more obstacles and distractions and loud noise.

Now, I’m not saying that if you go with the flow of the intended path that everyone will end up rich and famous. But I do believe that,when you are on the right path, things just sort of *happen* – in a good way. Proverbial doors open, opportunities present themselves, and life just feels more in balance. But we have to TRUST “The Plan”.

 

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Journey to Gratitude: Days 45-51

Still catching up from the past two weeks…

Day 45:
Today is Valentine’s Day. I learned a long time ago as just a little girl that this day (and the expectations that come with it) can be very disappointing. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve stopped expecting anything from the day. Instead, I have created my own traditions, which NEVER disappoint. 🙂  Every year, I make red velvet cupcakes, homemade chocolate-dipped strawberries, and enjoy takeout of some kind. I kick back with all of my treats and watch the ridiculous Valentine’s Day movie marathons. I know what you’re thinking: “You’re married now. Don’t you guys celebrate.” Quite simply, no. Since Blaine is a baseball coach, he usually has games, and might not even be home. If he does happen to play at home, he gets home late. So no, we don’t celebrate. We celebrate “our love”, if you will, at other, non-commercial times of the year. Trust me, it’s way less disappointing this way.

So today, I am thankful for simple traditions.

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Day 46:
For as long as I’ve known Blaine (going on 5 years next month), he has always had what I like to call “freak-outs” over major life decisions. At first, it was very frustrating. Five years later, I just know that it is bound to happen – and more importantly, that the moment will pass. Today, Blaine had his “freak-out” over the new house. Thankfully, I’m becoming a pro at how to navigate these moments, which require me to remain calm, drop nuggets of logic into the conversation at very choice moments….and then leave him to marinate. Once reason kicks in, he starts to realize how ridiculous he’s being, and we are able to move forward again. Today, I am thankful that I was able to remain calm and weather the new house “freak-out”.

Day 47:
The terrible winter that had been foretold finally arrived today. It came fast and hard – so much so that my boss decided to close the store early and send us all home. So first of all, I am thankful for the fact that my boss is able to put safety above sales.

Secondly, I finally caught a touch of whatever Bella had (or at least I think that is what has happened), and I felt AWFUL today. So I was thankful to be able to head home to my warm house, slip into my comfy clothes, and crash on the couch. Even more of a blessing, Blaine was also home, so he was able to help out with Bella so I could rest.

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Day 48:
Still snowed in, I was thankful to stay home and rest today. I think OJ and chicken noodle soup gave me life.

Day 49:
Today I was thankful that I awoke feeling MUCH better. Hallelujah!

Day 50:
We had a nibble and a showing on our house today, which is currently only listed on Zillow and Craigslist. Though it was just a nibble, I am thankful that someone noticed it.

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Day 51:
Today, we broke FREE! Having been snowed in all week, we were all getting a little stir crazy. So I dropped off Bella at school to play, and I went to Starbucks and the office to catch up on some work. Once I picked her up, we did a little shopping for some crafts and activities (because more weather is coming tomorrow), picked up McDonald’s for dinner, and headed to a friend’s house for a playdate. Today, I was thankful to escape the house – if only for a day.

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Journey to Gratitude: Days 38-44

Once again, life has deterred me from keeping up with my posts. I had a sick toddler for a week, then I got sick, and then Snowpocalypse 2015 hit. It’s been busy. But amidst all of that, here’s what I can be thankful for….

Day 38:
Now that Bella is getting older and understands and communicates more, I love our outings together. Today, we went shopping for some new appliances for the new house. While we were out, we also went and had lunch at Chick-fil-A. Just a fun girls day out and about (and apparently, very tiring).

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Day 39:
So a few days ago I watched a documentary on Netflix called “Vegucated,” which was about a 6-week challenge for 3 folks to try the vegan lifestyle. It was very eye-opening and really got me thinking. I’ve always been health-conscious, so I am always open to trying healthier options. That being said, I don’t know that I could ever go vegan or vegetarian indefinitely, as I do actually enjoy meat. But I am capable of eating vegetarian meals, or even going through short spurts of being completely vegetarian. In an attempt to try some new plant-based protein options, I bought some tofurky and soy burgers and what not on my latest grocery trip. I was amazed at how easy it was to find quick-serve options at even the local Walmart. So today I am thankful for how far we’ve come with vegetarian and vegan items, that they are easily accessible even in smaller towns where I live and without going to the local “health foods” store.

Day 40:
Today I got a call from Bella’s daycare that she was running a fever. Blaine had practice, so he couldn’t go get her. Fortunately I was able to get out of my afternoon meeting to go get her. Today I am thankful that I have a relatively flexible job that still allows me to be there for Bella.

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Day 41:
Bella’s fever got pretty high last night. Actually, perhaps the highest ever – 104. Though she acted like she didn’t feel well, she did still have bursts of activity, and she was eating and drinking just fine. I wasn’t sure at what point I should be concerned enough to take her to the ER. I ended up calling a nurse line, who gave me some helpful tips on how to keep her comfy and signs for which to watch that would signal an emergency situation. She slept with me overnight, and by morning, her fever was back down a few degrees and she was acting normal. So today, I am thankful that things didn’t escalate enough to warrant a trip in the night to the ER.

Day 42:
Bella’s fever spiked again in the night, so I ended up having to stay home with her again. Today, I am thankful for not one, but TWO, awesome teammates who were willing to cover my shift in the store so that I could stay home with Bella. I am also thankful that I was able to get some work done from home.

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Day 43:
Bella’s spurts of activity became non-existent and her appetite disappeared – signals I was waiting for to know that this was turning for the worse. So I took her in to the doctor this morning, and we found out that she has a sinus infection and the start of an ear infection. She was prescribed some antibiotics, and I gave her a dose immediately. Less than 12 hours later, she was up and running again. Today, I am thankful that Bella is on the mend. I am also thankful that Blaine was able to stay with Bella tonight so I could go into work for a few hours.

Day 44:
We had our inspection on the new house today. We waited with bated breath to get the results, as we were certain the inspector would uncover something HUGE – hence why we were getting such a great deal on the house. As it turns out, he found only minor things that Blaine and his rental renovation crew can easily repair. The biggest issue uncovered was radon detection – levels at four times the “allowable” level. (If you don’t know about radon – where it is found, what it can do, and how to repair it – I highly suggest looking into it. This is my new PSA mission, as I learned it is the second only to smoking for the leading cause in lung cancer!) Anyway…as scary as that sounds, it is also easily repaired with the installation of a mitigation system, which we intend to get. So today I am thankful for a good inspection on the new house!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 37

What a roller coaster week this has been!

As you know, we found a remarkable deal on somewhat of a “dream house” last weekend, and on a whim, decided to go for it. Our offer was considerably outbid by a cash offer, and though disappointed, we made peace with the fact that “it just wasn’t meant to be”.

I had moved on so much that I was exploring other options to supplement my career in the meantime. In fact, I just sat in on a webinar today and made a deposit on a training certification program for Color Code – a personality assessment of sorts that teaches ways to interact with others based on their “color” (and the motives behind that color). By getting certified as a trainer, I could go out and teach workshops about the Color Code – a perfect compliment to the coaching career that I’m working towards.

Literally within 30 minutes of wrapping up this seminar and paying my deposit (which – thank God – is refundable), Blaine called with unbelievable news. In fact, it was so unbelievable that it left me speechless and in shock: we got the house! I didn’t believe him at first, as Blaine is notorious for pulling pranks. But alas, he was telling the truth. The cash offer apparently backed out or fell through, and we were the next best viable offer on the list. So if the inspection and all goes well, we will be moving in one month to the lake!

I’m sure that I will have many more gratitude posts around this particular subject, but for today, I am just thankful that the house is even a possibility. With all of the hardship that we have been through the past few years (and usually at this time of year, in fact), it feels like a breath of fresh air to finally receive some good news!

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 36

Day 36:
When I accepted my current position with Chick-fil-A Bristol, I accepted it on the terms that I would not have to work in the store. My role was purely an executive one, overseeing and directing our marketing and sales growth. As we embarked on our journey of culture change and leadership realignment, my role also began to shift, and I found myself being pulled more and more into the “operations” of the store (i.e. working in the store serving customers alongside my team). Eventually, my boss, the Owner/Operator, decided that he preferred having all Directors in the operations 40-50% of the time. Initially, I fought this directive and even considered resigning. “This is not what I signed on for!” I kept telling myself.

You see, I have worked in the service industry serving customers for 20 years – whether in entertainment, retail, or fitness. Now I am venturing into the food industry. With this much experience under my belt, I am ready for the “next level” – where I can merely advise and consult with a team versus serving alongside them in an operational capacity. But as I began to let go of my ego and acquiesce to this new directive, I began to see the tremendous opportunity I had to coach and develop our new and young leaders “in the moment” of the day-to-day operations, which is where we need feedback the most.

Today, I had many wonderful opportunities to coach and develop several on our team – leaders and team members alike. I had a great deal of constructive feedback for one particular young leader. Not only did she take it like a champ, but she then sent a public shout out to me on our leadership GroupMe group, thanking me for leading by example and setting folks for success before I left for the day. You can’t buy moments like that. Not only did it warm my heart for the public shout out, but I love seeing these young folks growing into such great leaders! So today, I am thankful for the humbling experiences God sends our way, and the great lessons we can learn from those experiences once we get our ego out of the way!

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Journey to Gratitude: Days 30-35

Life happens. While I made a note of my gratitude items each day, I did not get a chance to post them. So here’s the past week:

Day 30:
Today, I saw AMERICAN SNIPER (which was excellent, by the way). I am always amazed by those who have the courage and passion to serve this country, as I don’t think I could stand on the battle lines. So today I am thankful for those who serve our country to protect our freedom.

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Day 31:
Bella just turned 2 a couple of weeks ago. While the time is going by so very quickly, I am also thankful for this age. She can finally communicate with words her needs and wants, she understands commands from me, and best of all, we can go “play”! She is at such a fun age where she is curious about everything and has such a great awareness of the world around her. I can now take her to playgrounds and kids’ museums and the zoo – so many fun places!

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Day 32:
This weekend, Blaine and I stumbled upon an amazing deal on a foreclosed house for ourselves. In talking about the possibility of pursuing it, I decided to bring up my credit score. For those who haven’t followed my story, I filed bankruptcy during the peak of the recession (following job loss and all that comes with that). Four years later, I am in a much better place, and have managed to pay off all remaining debt (the car and my hefty student loans were excluded from the bankruptcy). Today, I am thankful for second chances and the ability to rebuild after tragedy, as my credit score is the highest it has ever been!

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Day 33:
My work team has seen A LOT of changes over the past year. Namely, we have gone through an entire culture change, nearly a complete turnover of our HPLT (high performance leadership team), and turnover of a third or so of our team members. It was a tough road, but we are in SUCH a better place now as a result, and 2015 is already off to an amazing start! Today, I am thankful for the new faces at our HPLT table, as I think we have a strong, cohesive team to propel us to the next level!

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Day 34:
Blaine and I put in an offer for the house we found over the weekend, and I became so excited and fixated on it that I was already imagining where we would put things. I could just *see* and *FEEL* us in this house. Alas, it was not in God’s plan, as someone swooped in with a cash offer well above our financed offer. I was heartbroken. And yet, it was a reminder that I need to learn to trust in God’s plan for us. This house or this time just wasn’t right, and there is other business we need to take care of before we settle into our dream home. Today, as hard as it is to swallow, I am thankful for that reminder.

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Day 35:
I was pretty disappointed about not getting that house. Blaine was trying to be encouraging that we would one day have our house, but maybe the timing wasn’t right and we need to get some other business aligned first. This loss gave us an opportunity to discuss many things – our present, our future, and most of all, how fortunate we are to have all that we currently have. I love theses moments when we can really connect with emotional intimacy and have a great chat about life. We don’t get those moments often – mostly because life is so busy and we don’t take (or make) the time to pause and have these discussions. So today, I am thankful for this rare gem that has the power to refuel our marriage and remind us why we have chosen each other.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 29

The prevailing theme of today was “no stress”. I would not have been able to fathom this concept even as soon as a couple of weeks ago. But I’ve cut back my hours at my “day job,” things are going well with coaching, and I’ve exercised every day for the past week. It’s amazing the difference it makes when things in your life are in balance.

As I slipped into my bubble bath this afternoon – a luxury that many moms don’t get to experience on any sort of regular basis – I thought about how stress-free the day had been and how lucky I was to have this moment. Sure, Blues Clues was adding to the ambiance from the next room, but my two-year-old is so awesome that she can behave and entertain herself for the 20 minutes I needed for a bubble bath. Many moms cannot say the same.

Today, I am thankful for balance and contentment.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 28

Sometimes the Lord and/or the universe sends you signs that you are in the right path. Today, I received such a sign from a co-worker. This particular person confided in me, and did so because this person says he/she can talk to me. While I have actually been told this many times in my life (hence why I even began to research coaching), it is still always good to hear. Additionally, I took a personality test recently that said I am a Creator-Advisor…which essentially means that I like to create “things” and that people look to me for advice. Today was just further confirmation of that.

Additionally, I am thankful for a great work team. We were a little short-handed today, but we pulled together and still served guests well.

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Journey to Gratitude: Day 26

As I opened my email inbox this morning, this message sat at the top:

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What a great way to start the day! (By the way, the reference to the butterfly was an assignment; he was to find a butterfly that would symbolize strength whenever his inner gremlin would pop up and cause doubt in this fellow coach.)

Today, I am thankful for the awesome reminders that the Lord sends me from time to time to validate that I am on the right path with coaching. It is especially welcomed when the feedback comes from a fellow coach.