Author: Lara

Do you ever feel like life is passing you by?

You blink and another year, day, hour has passed—where is time going?! Two little words keep slipping out of your mouth: time flies!

In this SPECIAL EPISODE of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast, you’ll learn the 6 secrets of slowing down time and spending it like this is the only life you’ve got.

Get ready to laugh, cry (get your tissues ready—you have been warned!), and our whole family might have a surprise for you at the end. Today, we’re going to have a conversation that will change your life! You’ll be so glad you listened.

LISTEN NOW!

In this episode:

— You’ll hear about a few “tipping points” in my life, experiences that made me confront a freeing truth: life is finite AND life is a gift.
— We’ll talk about what it means to number our days (hint: that phrase isn’t something I made up—it comes straight from the book of Psalms!), and how that changes the way we live out each one.
— You’ll meet one of my “number your days” role models : )
— This is all sounding big and a bit scary, doesn’t it? Stick with me! I’ll share 6 practical tips for gaining this new perspective and applying it to your life.
— I’ll guide you through a life audit—a simple tool to assess how you’re currently using your resources.
— I’ll encourage you to embrace the freshness of this perspective and to “strike while the iron is hot!” You’ll also pick up a practical tip for keeping this perspective day after day.
— I’ll wrap things up with 3 ways to keep yourself accountable to this new way of living. They’re simple, and they’re good. I’ll also leave you with one simple action step so you can get started today.

Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!

— Take these two free life expectancy tests from the Social Security Administration and LivingTo100.com. Tell me in the comments what your life expectancy is!
—Enjoy our family’s favorite (and not-so-fancy!) Simple Mills Spice Cake mix.
—Reread this life-changing chapter of the Bible: Psalm 90 (pay specific attention to verse 12)!
—Subscribe to my 5-day YouVersion Bible reading plan GOD + GOALS: How To Set Goals As A Christian.
—Grab your Write the Word Journal (I’m currently using Cultivate Prayer!) to grow your faith in 2019. I’m loving the fruit that comes from writing the Word every evening. Bonus for my mama friends: there’s a Write the Word journal for kids, too!
—Get your 2019 PowerSheets Intentional Goal Planner!
—Tune into previous Cultivate Your Life Podcast episodes: 1, 3, 4, and 6!

I’m celebrating YOU with a fun giveaway over on Instagram.

READY FOR A GIVEAWAY? I can’t forget this! To celebrate YOU cultivating your lives and downloading the podcast over 100K times, I’m giving away: Apple AirPods, signed copies of my books Make It Happen and Cultivate, and a $50 Cultivate What Matters gift card. Read this post on Instagram for details on how to enter (it’s really easy)!

LOVE THE PODCAST? SHARE IT! Text, email, carrier pigeon—share this episode with friends however you like! This episode is really special, so I hope you’ll share it with someone you love! Feel free to grab one of these graphics to post about it, too!

WANT AN EMAIL WHEN A NEW EPISODE GOES LIVE? Enter your email address below, and I’ll send you a note when a new episode is up!

I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU! Come say hi on Instagram! I love sharing my life with you! And if you loved the outro, don’t miss the “Ari Raps” highlight on my Instagram!

SUBSCRIBE NOW to the Cultivate Your Life podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, please leave a quick review on iTunes—it helps other women find this free encouragement! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. I’ll be featuring some of your reviews in a future episode!

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Did you wake up on January 1 this year and think one of the following?

—I’m behind!
—I don’t know what my goals are yet—I feel like it’s too late.
—I haven’t followed through before, so why try?!
—I already messed up and I feel like a failure.
—I have to make perfect progress or I won’t accomplish my goals (spoiler alert: not true!).

Maybe you’re feeling these things right this minute. This episode of the Cultivate Your Life Podcast will be the biggest dose of relief because I have a lot of practical advice for you! Let’s talk — LISTEN NOW!

In this episode:

— You’ll feel so relieved when you learn how to get started on your goals—especially if you’ve had an imperfect start this year.
— You’ll find out the “third option” that allowed me to do less and make it mean more last year. Sometimes there are more than two choices.
— You’ll let go of feeling overwhelmed this year. It will feel so good!
— You’ll learn that it’s okay to grow slow—and 3 reasons why slow growth is better than fast by far.
— You’ll hear about a few of the easy ways I keep myself accountable to my goals. They’re practical and simple—you can do them right now!
— You’ll complete the one action step you need to do to make this your best year yet… no matter how it started!
— You’ll hear from some surprise guests. Just wait! 🙂

Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!

— Never heard of PowerSheets®? This is the tool I use to bridge the gap between where I want to be when I’m 80 and what I’m doing about it today. This is a system that works—you take action on the things that matter to you throughout the year instead of just setting goals once a year and forgetting about them by February 1st. Use code BREAKITDOWN for 25% off your yearly set!
Tim Herra’s New York Times article: Micro Progress and the Magic of Just Getting Started.
USA Today article by Joseph Luciani: Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail.
— Get all the details on my friend Nancy Ray’s Contentment Challenge and read how I’ve modified it for my life in the past.
— The Cultivate Sticky Note Set is just one of the ways I surround myself with reminders of where I’m going. These happy, cheerful notes will keep you motivated and organized!
— It’s not too late to join our Fresh Faith Challenge, where we’re writing out scripture each day in January together – the perfect way to start the new year! I’m using my Write the Word journal, but you can get started with whatever you have on hand.
Here are my four 2019 Goals for this year of HEART (I can’t wait to hear yours, too!). 
—One of my mini goals this year is to read God and Money with Ari.

LOVE IT? SHARE IT! Text, email, carrier pigeon—share this episode with friends however you like! Feel free to snag one of these graphics to share.

WANT AN EMAIL WHEN A NEW EPISODE GOES LIVE? Enter your email address below, and I’ll send you a note when a new episode goes live!

I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU! Come say hi on Instagram!And if you loved the outro, don’t miss the “Ari Raps” highlight on my Instagram!

SUBSCRIBE NOW to the Cultivate Your Life podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, please leave a quick review on iTunes—it helps other women find this free encouragement! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. I’ll be featuring some of your reviews in a future episode!

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Here we are—the first day of 2019.  A new year full of possibility is stretching out in front of us!

You may be telling yourself you’re behind or you need to accomplish it all now. Let me tell you, there is nothing magical about January 1st! But do you know what IS magical? Choosing to live what matters, little by little, over time. No perfect starts or perfect progress required. If you’re looking for clarity and a starting point, dig into Part 1 of the 2019 Goals Setting Series.

You’ll often hear us say around these parts “the past has a lot to teach us,” and in that spirit I’ve gathered up a few final lessons from 2018 for you—in the form of our top ten blog posts from the past year!

Here are your favorite posts this year from the blog:

  1. You have blown me away as you dig into your best goals in the 2019 Goals Setting Series! Get started with Part 1
  2. Gardening 101: The Story of an Unlikely Gardener 
  3. We saw that endings can be new beginnings when we let go of Southern Weddings
  4. 10 Tips for Starting Your 2018 Goals
  5. January Progress + February Goals from my PowerSheets
  6. Tips for Happy House Plants (I happen to have 28!)
  7. How to Get Unstuck with Your Goals 
  8. The Cultivate Your Life Podcast launched
  9. Behind the 2019 PowerSheets launch when Instagram shut us down and Oh Happy Day boxes were delivered in 65 countries
  10. And last, but certainly not least: The 2019 PowerSheets Goal Planner

Here are the top posts from the Cultivate Blog, too!

  1. Part 1 of PowerSheets Prep Week
  2. Your favorite PowerSheets Hacks
  3. How to Crush Comparison in Six Steps
  4. How to Make a Vision Board you’ll love
  5. 46 Things to do instead of scrolling social media
  6. The real cost of PowerSheets
  7. Why we love mini goals
  8. How to Celebrate New Year’s with Intention
  9. Using PowerSheets and your day planner together
  10. How to Make a Tending List

And now, a look back at 2018 from all of us at Cultivate What Matters. We are so grateful for this year with you!

WHOA that’s a lot of stickers! 🙂 And THAT is the number of emails we sent to subscribers this year! I also can’t believe this team launched 20 new products. In the midst of this, I led our 54th and 55th Making Things Happen Conference (join us this spring!), developed a free homeschool planner, and launched a new podcast (still pinching myself that we ranked in the top #15 podcasts last week!). These things seemed impossibly big on January 1st, but little by little, good things grow!

2018 has been a good year. Now, don’t let that statement fool you. “Good” didn’t mean easy. It was good because God is good because He was strong when we were not. It was good because He led us in challenges.

This was the year we lived out our word for 2018—“rise.” This was also the year we let go of Southern Weddings. It was the year we experienced pruning and refining in so many ways.

And from this vantage point, we know for sure that every challenge was a gift. Pruning is what makes a tree more fruitful, after all. My wish is the same for you—fruitful change that creates a ripple effect in the way you spend your time, your money, and your life.

Happy New Year, friends! If you haven’t already, buy your 2019 PowerSheets® Intentional Goal Planner NOW. We’re seeing lives changed as women all over the world use the right tool to make things happen. Join us!

The best is yet to come,

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In this special first episode, get ready for an adventure! You’ll finish this episode believing that transformation in your life is possible. I share my story—all the hard parts that led to the good parts—and I have a few surprise guests!

In this episode:
—I guide you through how you get from where you are now to where you want to be. And I share a real transformation story—my imperfect, messy story—to show you that transformation really is possible. I tell it all—the good, the hard, and everything in between.
—We talk about the things you’ve always wanted to do and the woman you’ve always wanted to be, and how those things might feel really far away. BUT, you’ll learn how to make your own transformation happen. (The first step might surprise you.)
—I unpack what the word “cultivate” actually means. Maybe you’ve heard the word before, or maybe you’ve seen it in my company’s name—but do you know what it really means and how you can actually do it?!
—You get to meet my favorite people! My kids—Grace, Josh, and Sarah—and my husband, Ari.
—I tell you about my untraditional college education (hint: it involves Carnegie Melon and a class in clowning, not a business class). I’ll also talk about why I left my first career.
—You’ll learn about the closest thing to an “easy button” that I’ve discovered in life. It’s life-changing, and it will set you free.
—We talk about a place a lot of us have reached in our life: when the pain and fear of staying the same start to outweigh the fear of change and the unknown.
—I tell you about a man named Ray—a trainer I met in New York—who totally and completely changed my perspective with four words that are a huge part of how I am where I am today.
—I flip the script on the old quote, “She believed she could, so she did,” to what’s true for my life: “She believed she couldn’t, so God did.
—We identify where transformation really begins. Here’s a hint: It doesn’t start with strength. Honestly, it starts in the opposite place—a place of weakness.
—I remind you (and myself!) that your past doesn’t define you, and that out of hard things come really good things.
—I share a story about how the secret sauce of PowerSheets—connecting the HEART to your S.M.A.R.T. goals—emerged from one of the clients I coached back in my hometown gym in Florida.
—We talk about how focusing on the big picture will truly change your life and the decisions you make today.
—I share the humble beginning of Southern Weddings, the magazine I started in my bedroom with my cat sitting next to me on my 13″ computer during my husband’s deployment to Iraq to keep my mind off bomb threats.
—Ari and I tell you the story of our marriage… a real, grace-filled transformation story. He even shares his new talent with you!

 Have I convinced you to listen? If not, what if I told you that at some point in the episode, my daughter Grace also tells you an embarrassing story about me ripping my pants… interested now? Ha!
 
Interested in some of the things I mentioned throughout this episode? Here you go!

—Read more about our Southern Weddings transition and how we let go of something good to make room for even better things to come.
—Don’t waste another minute of your life living on accident—get your PowerSheets® Intentional Goal Planner today! You’ll set good goals that are connected to a big picture that you can’t wait to get started on, and tend to them little by little all year long. 
—Follow along with my Eighth-Annual Intentional Goal Setting Series, starting with Part 1!
—To read the entire story I shared an excerpt from, grab this book (or digital copy for my tablet friends!)
—This Couples Goal Guide will help you and your significant other align on what matters most and start cultivating those things. Ari doesn’t love goal setting, but he’s gifted this goal guide to friends and coworkers!

LOVE IT? SHARE IT! Text, email, carrier pigeon—share this episode with friends however you like! Feel free to snag one of these graphics to share.

WANT AN EMAIL WHEN A NEW EPISODE GOES LIVE? Enter your email address below, and I’ll send you a note when a new episode goes live each week!

I’D LOVE TO MEET YOU! Come say hi on Instagram! I love sharing my life with you! If you loved the outro, don’t miss the Ari Raps highlight on my Instagram!

SUBSCRIBE NOW to the Cultivate Your Life podcast on iTunes so you won’t miss an episode. If you love the podcast, please leave a quick review on iTunes—it helps lots of other women find this free encouragement! Just click here to review, select “Ratings and Reviews” and “Write a Review” and let me know what your favorite part of the podcast is. I’ll be featuring some of your reviews in a future episode!

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I have been half-joking lately that my next book will be called, No. Alternate titles: The Year of No, All the Things God Has Told Me to Say No To, and my personal favorite, No, No, No. 😉

This has been a year of saying yes to the things that matter in the big picture and, inherent in choosing those things, is saying no to all the rest. No to doing it all. No to distractions and negative self-talk. No to worry. No to opportunities that would take me away from my family. No to doing the same things I’ve always done and getting the same results I’ve always gotten. Yes to cultivating the hearts in this home. Yes to doing the things I was put on this earth to do.

We loved apple picking in Morganton, NC, last month!

An excerpt from Cultivate that I keep coming back to and living out:

‘It’s simple gardening math: plants need space for roots to grow, and they need adequate nutrients. If you want them to flourish, then give them these things. Untangling our lives can feel more complicated, though. Relationships, expectations of others, deadlines, and dates press on us and feel impossible to unravel and unrush. So how do you do it? How do you know what to say no to when it all feels urgent? How do you simplify? A powerful fertilizer to nourish the things that truly matter in life is the word no. We often think of no as a scary and disconnecting word, but it has the power to be one of the most loving and connecting words you use. It’s okay to let go, not keep up, and not do it all. It’s okay to disappoint people in favor of growing what God has given you to grow. It’s okay to say no. We have only so much space, energy, and nutrients in our lives. I don’t know about you, but I do not thrive in an overcrowded life. Whether it’s too many dreams planted at once or too many social commitments, work projects, family activities, or unresolved conflicts, all those things take up space. When I try to do it all, nothing grows well.’

I had a life-shifting realization a couple weeks ago: perhaps I’m not just in a “season” of say no to make room for the things God has given me to cultivate. Perhaps, this is a lifelong commitment. Letting this thought take root has given me so much freedom to say no with joy and without regret. This commitment to “no” is where the good stuff is.

Happiness at the top of Grandfather Mountain!

So, you may be wondering…how can you say no when it’s so hard?

When your yes is crystal clear, it’s actually quite easy. Get clear on the yes, and you can’t help but choose it over all the rest.

Want a free printable to help you get there? Download the Intentional Life List and name your yes’s and no’s.

August was a month of getting clear on my yeses. A trip to the mountains—looking over the green valleys and expanse of God’s creation—put a lot in perspective for me, making my narrow worries seem so small. I came back ready for change, ready to make firm decisions to say yes to the things God has given me to grow.

In the Grandfather Mountain wildflowers with my favorite buddies!

August Monthly Goals Progress:

— Trust in the Lord. Over my own efforts and abilities and plans, my top priority is to trust the Lord with it all. / Yes, this was at the forefront of my thoughts as I waded through many unknowns and challenges in August. Trusting in His power over my own is a whole lot easier than feeling like I have to be in control all the time!
— Praise-ful night away with Ari. We are going “away” for one night—right down the road to a log cabin bed and breakfast. I am hopeful this is a time Ari and I can spend remembering God’s faithfulness and praising Him through our conversations. / What a fun adventure this was. We had a great time (loved eating at Vin Rouge as per Emily’s recommendation) and yet, after being away for less than 24 hours, we couldn’t wait to see the kids again!
— Cultivate my calendar. Rather than wait until right before the holidays to make meaningful plans, and to look ahead to 2019, I’m going to take a look now and cultivate my calendar. / Yes! This was simple and so helpful! I did this in 15 minutes from my phone. I went day by day through my iCal and wrote down action steps to prepare well for events and needs ahead—and some things I did right then and there! For example, I texted a babysitter for one event and made a gift list for another. I shifted some things around that didn’t work and made sure all of our ducks were in a row. 15 minutes of cultivating my calendar saved me so much time for the future! More below…
— Teach the Cultivate Your Calendar live workshop. This was one of the most popular webinars I did last year, and I’m excited to dive in again so we can all prepare well for the months ahead! / I highly recommend watching this replay—so many tips and aha moments from everyone who has taken this workshop! 
— Prepare well for the homeschool year! Wooooo! We’ve been doing a little homeschool here and there this summer, and it’s about to ramp up. Any other mom’s feeling the back-to-school crunch too? I had a great conversation over dinner last night with some wiser-than-me mamas and it was so refreshing. Their advice: You don’t have to do it all. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to be an expert. Little by little progress adds up. (Sound familiar?! 🙂 ) It was refreshing to be reminded of these truths as I prepare for the year ahead! / I may have a VERY EXCITING free download coming soon in regards to this one. I am feeling great about our year ahead!
— Record the Podcast. Yes! It’s happening! I’m a little scared typing this. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m doing it! Any votes for the name of said podcast or for episodes you’d like to see included? I’d love to hear! / We have a name! (Thank you for all of your suggestions!) And I start recording in a few days! Ahhhh!!!! Can’t wait to share more soon. If you have suggestions on episode topics, I’d love to hear!

Teaching my buddy how to feed chickens at Spence’s Farm for his birthday!

— Celebrate Josh’s 3rd year + life! Josh is our rainbow baby (we had a miscarriage before we started our adoption process and simultaneously found out I was pregnant). His existence is a miracle and I want to intentionally take time to remember and praise God for this! / So much praise! It was simple and sweet to celebrate his birthday with friends at the farm and then in the mountains on his actual birthday to remember God’s goodness!
— Family praise-cation. I know, I know—I have a thing for making up new words with “praise” or “pray” in them to keep me focused on what matters! (Case in point: Pray-oritize. Verb. To prioritize through praying about what He wants on your to-do list!) We are taking a week-long trip to Boone and Asheville. We’re going to Tweetsie (Josh can’t wait to ride the train) and Grandfather Mountain (I have been wanting to go for two years!) and the Biltmore. I can’t wait! / This trip. It was my favorite vacation ever—and not because it was smooth and easy. We had our meltdowns (all of us!) and challenges, but what was so sweet about this trip was having the time and space to love each other through the challenges in new ways. Time was the biggest blessing. Time to talk. Time to feel all the emotions. Time to take deep breaths of mountain air. It was so good for us all.

August Weekly Goals:

— Pray on my knees. I’m feeling a need for some extra surrender this month. / Yes, there was a lot of surrender and prayer time.
— Praise with the kids. I’ve already started this—intentionally voicing praise for God’s blessings or answered prayers, instead of just thinking them to myself! / Yes! Progress here too.
— Write the Word Wednesday + Bible journaling. Every Wednesday, the kids and I do our Write the Word journals together. I’m adding Bible journaling to this so I spend time praying over Grace and writing notes to her in her Bible in prep for this new school year. / We did our Write the Word journals but I didn’t do much Bible journaling.

August Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion. / Yes! We are in Ezekiel.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos! / Hooray yes! I did strength training a few times and lots of mountain hikes and carrying kiddos!

On to September! 

September Monthly Goals:

— Seek Him. This is my top priority for September (and always!)—to seek the Lord in my days, moments, thoughts, actions, decisions, homeschooling, parenting, marriage, and in loving others well. Practically speaking, this means stopping to pray, to ask Him what He wants me to do, and reading His word every chance I get. I have an open Bible on my desk, an open Bible on my dining room table, and the front page of my phone has the YouVersion Bible app right where it’s easiest to click with my thumb. The easier you make it to read the Word, the less likely you’ll be to choose something else! 🙂
— Begin our cultivated homeschool year. More to come here soon!
— Record the podcast. 
— Prepare well for the 2019 PowerSheets launch
— Love Josh + Sarah and my parents well on our trip to Florida. I’m taking the two little ones to see my parents for a few days while Ari takes Grace to visit her cousins in Omaha—I’m praying for smooth travels all around and opportunities to love others well.
— Celebrate Rosh Hashana. Our kiddos love this new year celebration with apples and honey—and Ari blowing his shofar.
— Have a surrendered quarterly sabbath. Out of all the action steps I took from the Cultivated Calendar teachings, this is the one I’m most grateful for. Last fall, I looked ahead at my 2018 calendar and went ahead and blocked off 3 days once a quarter to take off. Instead of letting my calendar dictate my life, I made the intentional decision to block off these days ahead of time. This has been helpful!
— Prayerfully lead the 54th Making Things Happen ConferenceThe fall conference is sold out, and spring tickets will be on sale later this month. I can’t wait to see everyone soon!
— Savor September. Forever ago, I started a hashtag—#SavorSeptember—to help my mind and heart enjoy the change of season. I’m picking it back up again this month to slow my thoughts and praise Him at every turn!

September Weekly Goals:

— Praise! My weekly goal is simply to praise Him! In song, dancing around with the kiddos, on hikes, in conversation, in art, in words, in prayer—in as many ways as I can muster!

Out on a prayer walk with my favorite sisters. Many of us have known each other for almost a decade. We’ve prayed together, studied the Word, enjoyed many a barbecue, and shared a lot of laughs over these years. It hit me as we were out walking together last weekend that these are my people. When I was in college, I would envision who my adult friends might be—the people who would be there consistently for years and years through ups and downs. I realized during this walk, that I’m in it. These (and more not pictured) are those people. I am grateful.

September Daily Goals:

— Chronological Bible. I’m continuing my number one goal with this daily Bible reading using the Blue Letter Bible Chronological reading plan on Youversion.
— Strength + Joy – This is my goal to strength train. I do abs and some free weights here at home with the kiddos! 

Verses I’m loving for September:

‘Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland’ (Isaiah 43:18-19).

‘But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit’ (Jeremiah 17:7-8).

A view from my first solo hike through Grandfather Mountain. It was hard and glorious, and so fun to see the kids and Ari cheering me on when I reached the end! (I have found a new passion in hiking! Any hikers out there?)

Your turn! What are your goals for September? What are you cultivating in this new month? I’ll pick one of you to send a special surprise box of goodies to from the Cultivate What Matters shop. I love sending real mail, and I love hearing your thoughts! Congrats to August’s winner, Cassie!

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