Welcome to the adventure of the new (and unusual) year of 2021.

If you took an Advent Journey with me before Christmas, I’m excited to announce that I plan to turn those daily posts into an eBook for sale sometime this year. Stay tuned for more info!

2020 gave us, globally, some particularly challenging things to face. Early in the year, the novel corona virus upset a world that in many ways was already broken. Political systems, elections, power struggles, and racial tensions dominate the news.

As with everything in life, we must choose how we will react to change. Some of us are angry and rebellious believing that this discomfort is a plot for someone to gain control. Others live in fear of what will happen next and many of us aren’t sure what to think. Or even what to do now.

I live alone in an apartment building and as I look outside today, the rain is coming down heavily and everything is grey. Some might say that I have the perfect life with no family responsibilities, a small pension, good health and lots of free time but as with all of life, there are downsides.

I have to motivate myself to do something productive when I only feel like lying on my couch with a murder mystery! There is loneliness lurking at the edges of my days and often I have to fight my feelings to pray for others, or reach out to find friends who might also need support.

This series of emails will be filled with hope and encouragement and maybe some suggestions for what choices you can make to find shalom this year.

In Hebrew, shalom means much more than peace. It is used every day in Israel by shopkeepers and friends on the street to say “Hello” or “Goodbye”.

“Shalom is a blessing, a manifestation of divine grace.” (

When our circumstances are blemished by lockdowns, quarantines, pandemic illnesses, and deaths, shalom can feel as if it is an impossibility. Notice the above quote says, “Shalom is… a manifestation of divine grace.” It is an undeserved blessing from God.

For the next few days, look for opportunities to say “Shalom” to the people you are with. “Shalom, friend! See you next week.” “Shalom…how are you?” “Shalom. Have a good evening.”

If you really mean it, you will begin to feel the peace coming back to you.

Shalom in 2021 is possible. Claim the blessing and choose peace every day!

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The Path to Shalom

Did you know that it is possible to live your life with peace and fulfillment – every day? 

I don’t mean peace that looks like a quiet beach or a calm shady forest. I also don’t mean peace all day, every day. However, I believe it is a process that anyone can learn.

In Hebrew, the word peace is translated “Shalom” which includes harmony and tranquility.

The two hardest places to find real tranquility are at home and in the workplace. That’s because people are typically the cause of our lack of peace.

The Shalom that we all want (and need), can occur in the middle of an argument with your spouse, in the chaos of a classroom full of children, or when deadlines are looming at work.

When you are living a life of fulfillment and taking steps toward how you want to live,
you can choose to let others do – or say – whatever they want,
without taking it personally.

Sound impossible? It’s not as hard as you might think. You can begin to flourish with an inspiring life now. It takes a lifetime to get good at it! Why not start right now…choose peace today, instead of waiting for tomorrow!

Take a long slow breath in and hold it for a second or two then slowly let it out. When you feel yourself spiraling out of control, remember to breathe. Now find something that makes you thankful in this moment. Maybe the weather, your home, the person who annoys you…

In my years as a principal and teacher, at board and staff meetings, in my marriage, raising children, and in many friendships, experience taught me that I can choose my reactions to others. Through both failures and successes, I am finding my own path to peace each day. 

“Are you actively making choices for the life you want, or are you drifting along hoping someday things will get better? Or somebody else will fix it?”

It is my life purpose to help others to:

  • live a life of gratitude
  • find ways to forgive, and,
  • learn to accept others, without trying to change who they are.

I wrote a book called: Flourish in a World Full of People that is full of wisdom and experiences shared from my own life-long journey. You can find it here to read on your Kindle or why not send one as a gift to a friend?

To Flourish or Human Flourishing is defined 
as an effort to achieve self-actualization and fulfillment within the context of a larger community of individuals, each with the right to pursue his or her own such efforts. (Aristotle)

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Let it Go!

Are you a 10-gallon person with a 1-pint family?

On a YouTube video with Oprah Winfrey, Bishop T.D. Jakes says that some people have a 10-gallon capacity for love, but they grow up with 1-pint families. Your family may have given you all they had but maybe you feel like it was not enough.

“By holding onto your history, you could lose your destiny.”

Sometimes people experience pain caused by a parent and it still hurts many years later. Children understand things in their own way and often what doesn’t feel fair or right, can carry on into our adult lives.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • “He doesn’t care enough about me to even remember my birthday!”
  • “What gives her the right to tell me what to do when she is an alcoholic?”
  • “She gave me away and I can never forgive her.”
  • “He made me feel useless and stupid.”

What feelings do you have when you think about your mother? Or your father?

If you feel pain, anger, hurt, or criticism, you can change your story right now. Maybe you don’t think that it matters whether you forgive or not. Did you know that forgiving is essential for your own growth and health? We are all trying to manage in a broken and hurting world and no one is perfect – including our parents.

Your parent is an ordinary person who also struggles with pain, disappointment, and rejection.

When you were a child, your friends might have seemed to have the perfect life; happy and encouraging parents, homemade lunches with chocolate chip cookies, parents who got up early to take them to sport practices. Those families had their unique challenges too. Life, for everyone, involves times of disappointment, betrayal, loss and, the difficulties of dealing with other people.

How would your life be different today, if you found a way to forgive people who hurt you in your past?

What if you could… just let it go and move on?

“Forgiveness is not necessarily admitting the other person was right.
And it’s not about letting the offender continue to reoffend.”

“…it cuts the chain that ties two souls together in painful memories;
to set yourself free to live your own life.”

You can make a deliberate choice to take your hands off what should happen to that person or how they should act.

One way to let go of the pain is by writing down all the things that hurt you. List everything. Give yourself permission to feel the pain. But don’t stay there. Read it through once more, then rip it into little pieces and throw it away.

Take a deep breath right now. Make a choice to let it go and then exhale slowly! Sometimes the hardest part is reminding yourself to not take back any of the painful feelings. Letting go, allows you to live your own life without carrying around the burden of the old wounds!

There is one more step. Tell someone.

The Bible says to “confess your sins” (James 5: 16). Find someone you trust to listen without giving you their sympathy. Another person’s sympathy will only reinforce your feelings of being wronged.

Tell your Pastor (or a friend) that you are sorry for carrying this heavy burden of pain for so long. This is called repentance. It is a deliberate action to turn those feelings over to God; to be set free.

Today, it is time to let it go!
You are a 10-gallon person with love to give and a big life to live. Don’t lose your destiny.

God is big enough to go with you and He will…every step of your adventurous, wonderful life.

Forgiveness is an important topic in my book, “Flourish in a World Full of People” as quoted above. For more stories and tips to learn how to forgive, let go and be free to pursue your destiny, click here to order a copy of my book. If you would like to leave a comment, please click in the review section on Amazon, to encourage others.  

Do you ever feel like a fraud?

It was a challenge to learn and complete the many tasks necessary to write, edit, rewrite (many times), then publish my book. Writing the book was often difficult, but I thought that next part of blogging and social media posts would be easier! Not so.

Creating an online business involves new learning and challenges that I often choose to leave for another day; the way I sometimes left my homework to the last minute when I was in high school! While I have struggled with the “to do” lists, my emotions have gone up and down.

Several times I decided, “I am done! It’s all too hard and I don’t care if no one reads it!”

It was particularly bad one day when I suddenly felt like a fraud. What did I know that could help other people? What if people hated it? Or maybe worse, what if they loved it and I couldn’t keep up with the orders?! My headache kept me home all day feeling sorry for myself. 

A couple of days later, I attended a women’s conference at our church that was billed as “Flourish”! Even though I felt tired, I knew I needed to go. During the sessions, I began to feel as if some hard things in my heart were being blasted loose, like an iceberg breaking up. I was seeing places where I have been critical of others, had pride in my accomplishments, and most of all I was aware of fear.

This was one of those times when I realized that I needed to find a new perspective on my life. I needed to find a new purpose for why I was doing this work and to pay attention to those things that were holding me back.

Brené Brown has a video called “The Call to Courage” where she talks about the connection between courage and vulnerability. Sometimes I don’t feel very brave, but I am sharing myself in this book which makes me feel vulnerable. I know with God’s help I can learn to keep trying even in those difficult times when quitting seems so appealing.

Have you ever felt this way? Do you have a dream that you haven’t gone after because it feels too scary? Have you stopped letting yourself imagine that life could be better? I think we have all been there. You are not alone. My hope is you can begin to ‘flourish’ despite the challenges you face. Maybe you can ask yourself if you are letting any attitudes or habits cause you to feel like a fraud and make the decision to be brave. 

Order my book, Flourish in a World Full of People for more insights on changing your perspective by using this link.

Slow Down!

What one small thing can you change to improve your life? 

This week, while driving through rush hour traffic, I was feeling tense and impatient with other drivers. It occurred to me that if I would slow down, I might enjoy the drive more. So I stayed in the right lane for most of the way and every time there was a car wanting to merge in front of me, I waved them in.

This doesn’t sound like a big deal, but by doing this, I felt less tense and happier and maybe I blessed someone’s day. Slowing down a bit is not a new idea for me, but what is different is that I am making conscious changes in my thinking to find peace in my life. I am trying to stop the impatience I feel when I am in a hurry to get somewhere. This small attitude adjustment allowed me to notice my surroundings, breathe deeply, and relax my shoulders.

Many years ago, I decided that I wasn’t going to be that person who was always running late. (Notice the word “running”!) Instead of racing to the ferry or staying in the left lane to pass everyone while stressing about being late for a meeting, I would choose to leave home at least 15 minutes sooner than I thought was necessary, to get to my destination. If there might be traffic, I try to leave 30 minutes or even 45 minutes early, to relieve my stress.

Now, I make sure I take a book and my water bottle (or a cup of coffee), so if I do end up waiting for someone else, it will be an enjoyable and peaceful experience. And here is a radical thought…if I have to wait, I can just sit and do nothing!

How do you feel about time? Do you feel like you are always in a rush? Do you get impatient as I was when you are stuck in heavy traffic, knowing you are going to be late?

Time will go by no matter what you do. Worry and stress won’t change the outcome. As you read this, take a moment to start to notice how the passing of time affects your life. Are there any small changes you can make? When was the last time you just sat without even looking at your phone? 

Click the link to listen to a recent podcast where I talk to Alexis Newlin (The Brave Podcast) about living with purpose:

To follow me as I continue on this journey or find my first book “Flourish in a World Full of People”.  Click here@spencelayhmarnie