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Success Lessons Learned from a French Bakery

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hen & heiferToday I am singing the Hallelujah Chorus in praise of hen & heifer, the new French bakery that just opened in my town. I could go on and on about the mouth watering croissants, the silky yogurt parfait or the caramelized crusted sweetness of the cannele, an amazing treat from the Bordeaux region of France that to me tastes like a toasted marshmallow in cake form, but that would just be cruel to those of you who don’t live close enough to sample these delectable treats.

hen & heifer has become so popular in the short time since it opened that lines of croissant loving locals form at 6:30 a.m. in anticipation of the 7:00 a.m. store opening. By 8:30 most mornings the almond, traditional and chocolate croissants are gone and I think could be bootlegged for a street value close to that of heroin!

But as I said, to go on would be cruel! What I really want to highlight about this little gem of a place that has my heart and my town aflutter is its secrets to success. Some might look in and say, “Oh, I wish I could just do what I love and instantly have lines of people clamoring to throw money at me for the deliciousness I’ve created.” In fact, I’ve had many a life coaching hour spent with clients lamenting this very thing.

So what can be learned from the “overnight” success of the petit powerhouse that hen & heifer has become?

Whether you are seeking success in relationships, with money or in a career, you can tear a page from the hen & heifer play book and get about creating a croissant line, so to speak, for yourself.

3 keys to hen & heifer like success:
1. be a conduit for what wants to flow through you

This is sort of a version of “build it and they will come.” Obviously here in my town there was a huge hole in the market for quality French baked goods! Who knew? Nobody maybe, at least not directly, but the owners of hen & heifer followed their hearts and it turns out what wanted to be born through them was just the bundle of joy that townsfolk had been waiting for!

2. start small
Take another look at the picture above. It’s a shoebox of a place–an adorable shoebox to be sure, but tiny just the same. The owners wisely started small taking manageable steps to get to their destination. Whenever most of us try to start a new venture be it getting organized, losing 20 pounds or changing jobs, we take an all or nothing approach that quickly falls flat. Instead take baby steps and build momentum as you succeed. Organize one room per month, substitute a new veggie for your usual French fries or take a class to polish your skills while still at your old job. Small successes (or even setbacks) inform you about how best to move forward and which path to take next.

3. honor your calling
Obviously the pastry chef genius at hen & heifer loves to bake. But had he listened to conventional wisdom, which may have told him, “baking is a hobby, not a career,” or “become a doctor/lawyer/investment banker so you can make the big bucks,” the world would have been devoid of his particular gifts. When you do what you love, you come closer and closer to living the purpose for which you were created.

Life lessons come to us from many sources. Today I praise hen & heifer bake shop for the inspiration I see in their success. What about you? What lessons are you learning from sources in your everyday life?

No More “Daddy’s Little Girl”

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Daddy's Little Girl
The day my father died, I felt like my outer layer of skin had been peeled off. Not in the physical pain sort of sense, but in the fearful I-no-longer-have-anything-protecting-me sort of sense. The epidermis that kept me safe in the world was no longer present to do the job.

No more was I Daddy’s Little Girl. There was no daddy to run to when the car broke down, the bank account ran dry or things went bump in the night.

This feeling of abandonment was a surprise to me. While I loved my dad and know that he loved me, understanding which came only after having a child of my own, we were not close. Not close that is until some 10 years after he passed from this world, when he paid me a much-needed “visit.”

I was alone mid-day on the third floor of my house folding laundry when out of the blue a strong scent of cologne came wafting past my noise on a gentle breeze. I am very sensitive to smells and strong scents tend to give me a violent headache, but this one didn’t intrude, rather it captured my attention with it’s quite, yet urgent entrance and it’s familiar scent.

Instantly I lifted a freshly laundered towel to my nose knowing even as I made the gesture that the smell couldn’t possibly be coming from the laundry. With my aversion to scents I strictly buy all products fragrance free. It was really just a reflex, as it hadn’t yet hit me what was happening.

“No, definitely not the towels, not flowers from outside the open window, what could it be? Wait, I know that smell. It’s sooooo familiar, where have I smelled that before and where on earth is it coming from? It smells like a man’s cologne, is there an intruder in the house?” All these thoughts ran rapid fire through my brain as I tried to piece together this scent that had stopped me in my tracks.

Continuing to fold, I just couldn’t figure it out. Before I knew it, the scent had faded and I was lost in my mindless task thinking about what to make for dinner and when to pick up my son from school.

I finished my chore, picked up the laundry basket and headed down the three flights of stairs to put away the towels. Reaching the bottom floor I traversed the four-step expanse between the bottom stair and the guest bath doorway and flipped on the light.

Boom! It hit me again and in that instant I knew. I not only identified his Old Spice Cologne, I felt his presence and a wave of love. It was my dad, there in the doorway and even though not in the flesh, very real just the same.

As I drew in a quick breath and began to quietly cry from the overwhelming feeling of love I whispered, “Thank you for coming, I love you, too.” And it was over.

As quickly and mysteriously as he had arrived, he was gone, but with one very important difference. Never again have I felt unprotected or like we had unfinished business. All at once my relationship with my father finally felt complete. No more words left unspoken, no more hurts from words that would have been better left unsaid. Just complete.

Thanks, Dad. On that “Father’s Day” and this official Father’s Day, I celebrate the gift of your presence in my life and for you I give praise.

Your Beliefs are Your “Problem”

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It hit me this morning; we are all “Julie.” (If you have no idea who this Julie is or what I’m talking about, go back and read my last post, Stop Pushing Away Your Good. This is a sequel of sorts to that post.

What on earth do I mean, we are all Julie, and we all push away our good? Before I elaborate on that, let me ask you this question.

If we believe that God is continuously sending us only good, why is it that we experience so much “bad”? I think the answer to that is the same as the answer to the question, “How are we like Julie?”

We experience “bad” in our lives because we, like Julie, put up roadblocks to receiving God’s good. gifts And those roadblocks come in the form of beliefs—beliefs in lack, (as in Julie’s case, lack of time) trouble, challenge and bad.

As long as I continue to see/believe in any situation, person, place or thing as a “problem” or “bad” it will continue to be just that—a bad problem! As Wayne Dyer says, “change the way you look at things and the things you look at will change.”

This is really what this whole Praise Party project is about…to get you (me, too) to change the way you look at the circumstances in your life. If you start focusing on the praiseworthy or the good in each situation, person, etc., you begin building up your evidence that good does exist in everything. And the more evidence we have for something the more we BELIEVE it. And that’s a belief that will open the floodgates for good to flow your way, rather than set up roadblocks to keep it at bay!

One of my favorite movie lines speaks to this very issue of believing in your problems. In the movie “What about Bob?” Richard Dreyfuss’s character, who is a psychiatrist, gives Bob, played by Bill Murray, the prescription to “take a vacation from your problems.”

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And so that’s what I say to you with one slight caveat, “Dear Reader, it’s the weekend, take a vacation from your BELIEF in your problems.” Another words start exercising your belief that God only intends good for you and look for evidence of that.

Good luck and let me know how it goes.

My praise today is for my sister who has always been my best cheerleader. It was her encouragement today that made me keep at this Praise Party project instead of giving up! Thanks for BELIEVING in me, Trice.

Stop Pushing Away Your Good

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For today’s post I had another idea entirely, but a phone call from my friend, Julie
(name & identifying details changed to protect the innocent) sent this post in another direction.

Julie called to tell me she needed a good cry and wondered if we could get together to elicit just such a cleansing release of her pent up emotions.

She went on to explain that she had spent the last week dealing with a deeply troubled family member and was emotionally spent from trying to make all the right decisions in the face of extreme challenges. And as you may well image, this new stress didn’t come at a time when she was sitting around doing nothing. It came barreling in when her schedule was already packed with the details of caring for her own household as well as keeping up with her duties at work.

We penciled in time on our calendars for the good cry on Friday. No time like the future to let loose your emotions, right? Keep ’em all stuffed inside for a rainy day!

With that business out of the way, Julie had one other point to address,
“Listen, just one more thing,” she said
“about this Praise Party blog you’re writing everyday.
Do you think you could do it only once a week?
My life is so hectic I can’t keep up with it everyday.”

Whaaaaaaat? You don’t have time enough each day to notice all the praiseworthy good flowing your way?

Now while I can fully understand where my friend was coming from, her comment got me thinking. How often do we push away the good that is trying to come into our life?

“Listen, God/Universe/Grand Pooh-Bah of the World, don’t bother me today with something that will help. Don’t you know I’m too booked taking care of business to add anything good from you to my daily schedule?”

Think about it, how often do you push away a moment to laugh with a friend, hug your child or spend one minute contemplating the good all around you and all because “I’m just too darn busy, thank you very much!”?

So today, I take this moment to give praise for Julie, my dear friend who inspired this post and reminded me to STOP, take a breath and bring to mind for one minute out of the 900 or so I will be awake this day, just one thing that is praiseworthy in my life.

Besides, if I don’t enjoy having this blessing daily, I can always switch to praising only once a week, right? 😉

Shift Your Focus

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“ whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, let your mind dwell on these things.” Philippians 4:8

This is one of my favorite scriptures from the New Testament Bible and it sums up what I’ve been trying to do with the Praise Party—my 30-day practice of blogging about “anything worthy of praise.”

Today I encourage you to join me in seeing the praiseworthy in EVERY situation. By that I mean, let’s all choose to focus on only the good in things and totally disregard anything else that might want to draw our attention.

Examples:
1. Your son brings home a report card with a D (or even an F) and the rest As & Bs. Give praise to him for the passing grades and ignore the F. Besides, it’s not as if he doesn’t know that he got the D/F! In fact it’s very likely that despite his unconcerned attitude, he doesn’t like being a “failure” and belaboring the point of the less than stellar marks isn’t likely to increase his motivation.

2. Your co-workers constantly stand around and talk while you do ALL the work. Really? Instead of focusing on their chatty nature, which in your opinion equals loafing, look around for even the smallest evidence of work they have done and give genuine praise for that effort.

Choose your focus
Remember, what we focus on E X P A N D S!
If you choose to see even the minutest good in a situation and you do that consistently, you’ll be shocked at how quickly that situation will change to reflect your new focus.
Don’t believe me? Try it for the remainder of this 30-day Praise Party (22 days left) and see what happens.

And please share your experiences and questions below. I’d love to dialogue with you about how your personal Praise Party is going.

Rest

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Serenity
Today I give praise for rest.
I hope you, too have taken time on this Sunday to enjoy the
3-Rs–reflection, renewal and relaxation. 😉

If not, do it now.
Reflect on what is praiseworthy in your life,
Renew your mind by giving that praise in the form of a comment below, and then
Relax! Kick back and bask in the glow of the good feelings that come when you give praise.

The Illusion

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Unknown
It’s easy to sing the praises of something or someone when you’re feeling good, but continuing to notice praiseworthy things in your life when times are tough, that’s a bit harder.

Ever have one of those days when despite your best efforts not to criticize or complain, that seems to be all that comes out of your mouth? Today was that kind of day for me. Thankfully my favorite line delivered by Thumper in the Disney movie, Bambi kept ringing in my head. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”

Facing challenges to my commitment to make a positive change in my life, in this case to focus on the praiseworthy rather than to be critical, is nothing new for me. I’m a creature of habit and I find it easier to stay stuck with the status quo rather than move out of my comfort zone into a new way of being.

I bet you’ve experienced it, too. You decide you want to start a new diet, be friendlier to your annoying co-worker or carve out a few minutes of quiet time for yourself each day and WHAM! just when you’re on a good roll, the very worst in you rises up to make things difficult.

I call this the Illusion–that force that pops up to challenge you just when you’ve taken action toward living your positive new plan. Next time it happens to you, take it as a sign to double down on your efforts. No matter how tough it is to stay the course in the moment, remind yourself that this challenge to your resolve is just a temporary roadblock. Once you go over it, through it or around it, you’ll be stronger and well on your way to creating the positive change you’re wanting in your life.

Today I give praise for life’s challenges for it is in the overcoming of them that we are made strong.

Join the Party!
Share something praiseworthy in your life today
by leaving a comment below.

The Sun Always Shines Above the Clouds

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Rain, rain, go away, come again…NEVER! Wait, that’s not how the rhyme goes, but that thought certainly has crossed my mind today as Tropical Storm Andrea passes by. I’m not a fan of inclement weather, so days like today are less than favorites.

“But hey, this is supposed to be a 30-day exercise in praise,” you might be saying, “so why all the gloom?” Glad you asked…because that is a perfect segue into my favorite analogy of how our constant focus on our life challenges is like flying in an airplane under the cloud deck vs. rising above the clouds where you realize the sun is always shining.

All of us have “rainy days” in our life when things go wrong–we feel slighted by a friend, our anxiety is through the roof over a project at work, a bill is due next week with no funds in site to pay it or __________________ (you fill in the blank).

It’s easy to get bogged down in the problem du jour and allow it to ruin our whole day, i.e. it’s raining (insert your problem and say it with a whine) and that sucks and I don’t have any money and no one loves me and my kids don’t respect me and, and…now your mind is off and running.

But instead of getting bogged down in the doldrums of your woes, remember that just like flying on a cloudy day when everything on the surface of the earth looks grey and gloomy without a hint of sun, you soon see that it is all an illusion. Once the plane takes off and rises above the cloud deck, there it is! The sun! It’s still shining and always will be just above the surface of your gloom.

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The next time you’ve got the blues over this hurt or that fear, remember that all you have to do is rise above the cloud deck of your gloomy thoughts to reach that place of joy inside where the sun is always shining.

And PRAISE is the very vehicle to get you there. So try it. Lessen your worries and cares right now by taking a moment to notice and give praise for something praiseworthy in your life. And don’t be stingy. Share that praise with all of us by leaving a comment below.

My praise for today: I give praise for the soothing sound of the rain outside my window. While it’s true I’m not a fan of rain, I can still appreciate something about the rain. Choosing to rise above my limited focus on only the rainy parts of my life allows me to feel the warmth of the sunshine that is always available.

Teacher’s Simple Gesture

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Scan 19Today I give praise for all the people who have lifted me up over the course of my life and there have been MANY! Too many to name for sure, but I do want to single out one–Mrs. Cozette Campbell.

She will most likely not see this post as she is in her 90’s now and as far as I know does not frequent the internet, but I still want to share her name and give praise for her today. (And please rest assured that over the years I have shared my praise with her directly through our written correspondence.)

Mrs. Campbell was my third grade teacher and much to my surprise and delight, she has written to me every year on my birthday and at Christmas for the past 43 years!!! I cannot give due praise for what this simple act of hers has meant to me.

A teacher keeping up with a student for so long is remarkable on it’s own, but additionally, way back in 1970 when this all began, we were from different worlds.

You see, Mrs. Campbell was the first black person I ever knew because my public school did not integrate until my 3rd grade year. I grew up in rural Mississippi and most times now when I mention that fact, the first thing many people comment about is the racial divide and hatred that has been Mississippi’s reputation. But Mrs. Campbell didn’t care what color I was and for that I am grateful.

There have been numerous days in my life when I felt that no one cared and that I wasn’t worth caring about. I know you’ve had those days too, everyone does from time to time. But Mrs. Campbell’s cards have served as a yearly reminder that someone did care.

About 20 years into our yearly correspondence I asked, “Why me?” Her response, “Each year I choose one or two students from my class that I feel a special connection with and I make a point to keep in contact with them.”

Simple act with profound results. Thank you and I give praise for you and your heart full of love, Mrs. Campbell. Your kindness altered my life in positive ways.

Now dear reader, it’s your turn.
What/Who is praiseworthy in your life?
Leave a comment below.

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My Dog = My Guru

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My Guru
My praise for today:
I have praise for my dog.
He teaches me great things like
~Live in the Moment
~Do What Brings You Joy
~There’s No Need for Pretense,
So Always Be Yourself
~Take Every Opportunity to Play
~When All Else Fails, Take a Nap!

Now it’s your turn.
Leave a comment below.
What is praiseworthy in your life?
GO!

Join the party everyday.
Subscribe for blog updates in the box on the upper right!
Thanks and see you tomorrow.

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