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By Michele Howe.

Taking a misstep here would be fatal.

Taking a misstep in daily life happens more often than we realize (with perhaps not fatal results, but otherwise unhealthy ones.)


It’s so easy to lose our focus (lose our orientation) because of the demands placed on us by others (and ourselves.)

Keeping your orientation is one principle that crosses over into every area of life.

Home. Work. Health. Play.

Not convinced?

See how this phrase, “Keeping Your Orientation” put me on notice after a fast-paced morning in the operating room.

Not too long ago, I was given the opportunity to observe a shoulder surgery operation. While the entire morning was riveting, I keep recalling one specific step the surgeon performed at the outset of the procedure. Before the doctor could begin to repair his patient’s injured shoulder, he needed to correctly identify and mark the places on her body where he would make the necessary cuts. As he carefully felt around her shoulder, I later found out he used her bony anatomy to “keep his orientation.”

Interesting phrase, and what a great parallel to everyday life.

As busy adults, we’re frequently sidetracked from our main purposes because we have lost our orientation.

That is, we become so bombarded by overwork, busyness, and the stresses that deplete our emotional and physical reserves, that we lose sight of what’s most important. Our visual clarity becomes blurred, we grow unsure of what’s the next best step to take, and we grow so desperate for relief we end up simply living in survival mode.

Said another way, when we’ve lost our primary focus, we often relegate our decision-making to whatever’s easiest, closest at hand, or requires the least amount of resistance. Which, over time, can quickly become problematic on multiple levels.

In the same way a surgeon takes the necessary time to deliberately study his patient’s injuries, illnesses and weaknesses before carefully mapping out his plan to correct, so should we similarly take the needed time to plan our days, weeks, and months (to ensure optimal home, work, health, and play environments.)  Staying on task (while moving toward our main objectives) grows simpler when we routinely keep an eye balanced between today’s immediate responsibilities and tomorrow’s more flexible expectations (and we make adjustments accordingly).

Keeping Your Orientation in Three Easy Steps (So as not to misstep)

Take a brief glance to the month ahead – know what’s coming, but don’t spend too much time mulling over the details.

Keep an eye on the week ahead – make it a habit to do a cursory review of the next seven days at the beginning of every week, then issue verbal/written reminders to each family member.

Pay careful attention to the following day – every night before bed make all necessary practical preparations for the smoothest possible transition into a new day.

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Michele Howe is a reviewer for Publishers Weekly,, Retailers + Resources, Foreword Magazine,,, among many others national and international publications. She has published over 3000 reviews/articles and has been featured on numerous radio shows across the country speaking on topics such as parenting and a diverse range of women's health issues. Her work has been published in MORE, FIRST for Women, Good Housekeeping, Christianity Today, Discipleship Journal, Midwest Living, Parentlife, Fullfill, Christian Single, Single Parent Family, Focus on the Family, PRISM, and Connections. She also does manuscript reviewing for several publishing houses including New Growth Press.

Michele is the author of twenty books for women. Her first book, "Going It Alone: Meeting the Challenges of Being a Single Mom" (Hendrickson Publishers), provided hope and practical helps for single moms new to parenting solo. She has also authored "Pilgrim Prayers for Single Mothers" (Pilgrim Press) and a third book of helps for single mothers titled, "Successful Single Moms" (Pilgrim Press.) In addition to these resources for single mothers, Michele wrote four separate titles combining real life stories with inspirational prayer retreats. These titles published by (Jossey-Bass) include: "Prayers for Homeschooling Moms," "Prayers to Nourish a Woman's Heart," "Prayers of Comfort and Strength" and "Prayers for New and Expecting Moms."

Her more recent books include a follow-up resource to "Going It Alone" titled, "Still Going It Alone: Mothering with Faith and Finesse Once the Children Have Grown" (Hendrickson Publishers) and "Burdens Do a Body Good: Meeting Life's Challenges with Strength and Soul" co-authored with orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Christopher A. Foetisch (Hendrickson Publishers).

One Size Fits All: Making Meaningful Choices, Stepping Into a Meaningful Life was released in early 2013 by Lighthouse of the Carolinas. Burden Lifters: Every Woman's Every Day Resource Kit for a Healthy, Happy Life was released by Bondfire Books in late 2013 and ACTA Publications released, "Faith, Friends, and Other Floatation Devices" which is a compilation of stories, quotes, and practical lifestyle recommendations for "staying afloat" during life's toughest times. Her newest book, Empty Nest, What's Next? Parenting Adult Children Without Losing Your Mind was published fall of 2015. In the fall of 2016, "Caring for Aging Parents: Lessons in Love, Loss, and Letting Go" was released by Hendrickson Publishers. Summer of 2017, her sequel to Empty Nest, What's Next? was published, Preparing, Adjusting, and Loving the Empty Nest. In 2018, There's a Reason They Call It Grandparenting and Navigating the Friendship Maze were released. In September 2018, Living Bravely: 52 Week Super Incredible Faith Devotional will also be published.


Read more of Michele's work at and contact Michele at: [email protected].

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. LOVE this – keep your eyes on the future and keep moving. That’s my way of life and keeps me going. Thank you for the great refresher. 🙂

    1. Thanks Marcelina…sometimes it’s hard to live “beyond survival”…but it’s always better for us (and others) when we are able to see further than just today. 🙂

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