Thursday, March 29, 2012

What would you do?

There's been A LOT of talk lately about the bigger than ever 'Mega Millions' growing jackpot. I've heard that whether the jackpot is $12million or $400million any one person's chances of winning remain the same at something like 1 in 175 million (based on the # of number combinations - not the # of tickets sold).

They say money can't buy happiness and that is most definitely true. On the other hand money can often times eliminate stresses, give people financial security, enable people opportunities to help others, award people the chance to go back to school if they want, or even start a business. Winning a lotto jackpot (either way) changes peoples lives ... the question is 'what would you do?' Would you do nothing more than go on a spending spree buying ridiculous things that you don't need? OR Would you set yourself up for a financially secure future that would allow you to do things you never thought possible ... travel ... spend more time with family and friends ... volunteer or start a non-profit that would help others?

You've probably seen one or two of those reality TV shows about people who have won 'millions' ... they show everything from one extreme to the other. There was one family you won the lotto. They paid off their farm and expanded it by purchasing the adjacent 40 acres, bought the best tractors and equipment there was, refurbished their farmhouse, set up college funds for their grand kids and then the man splurged on one item just for himself  ... 'a shiny red Corvette convertable'. He said he'd always wanted one. He drives through his small country town and waves at every person he sees (of course he's wearing new denim overalls now). He said he'd fulfilled every dream he had and couldn't be happier.

Then there's the opposite extreme (perhaps the one who gets sucked into the excitement and the glitz). There was a man who lived in a run down trailer with no heat or electricity. He most likely spent his last dollar buying his ticket. What did he do with the money he won? He bought an outrageously big house with 8 bedrooms and 8 bathrooms (but he still lived by himself). His bathrooms had gold faucets and he hired a butler and a chef to serve him everyday. Everyday, that is, until he went bankrupt within a year.

So who was the 'richer' of the two? Of course, I'm not just talking about spending the money wisely. I'm also talking about the choices they made and how they chose to set their priorities.

If I won the lotto I'd have some definite plans that like a lot of people would involve paying off any debts, taking care of education needs for my children, helping out family and friends, donating to my church, starting a scholarship fund, and more. If I were to splurge on just one thing for myself what would it be? Hmmm... probably figure out a way to add a Florida room to my house, a place where I could sit on a comfy cozy couch, plant some flowers and green plants in colorful pots to scatter around the room, soak up the warm sunshine as it came in the windows, a maybe buy a laptop & a Kindle so that in my spare time I could read and blog ... and then blog and read.

What would you do if you won the lotto?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Try Not To Worry

I attended a Midweek Lent Worship service this week. It was a small service - but packed a big message, one that hit home for me. The scripture basis was Matthew 6:25-34 which discussed 'not worrying' for God was in charge. The last part of the scripture said "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."

In a nutshell ... anxiety and worry are human traits. Most of us have been brought up believing that we have to be in control and be responsible for those things that affect our lives. The reality of it is that we can't do it on our own. Some of us get support from our friends, a sibling, a parent, perhaps a spouse ... but God is the one that gives us the most support whether we realize it or not. God's love is infinite - He will take care of us forever. The opposite of anxiety is trust, which is obviously more productive.

Question for the day: What do you worry about? Everyone worries about something ... their health, their finances, their children, their parents, the world, terrorism, etc.

Next question: If everything you worried about was suddenly fixed would you be less stressed or would you find something new to worry about?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are you having trouble finding your voice?

I read something the other day that talked about blogging. Someone asked an established blogger how he could find his 'writing voice'. The blogger replied, "Just write." Sounds simple right? Yes and no. The writer in question thought that he needed to have everything completely figured out first BEFORE he could actually set his thoughts to words. I understand where he was coming from. I've been there. I've often thought that unless I was a 'paid' writer, then I couldn't possibly write a blog. Well guess what? I've finally gotten past that stereotype. I write for the pure enjoyment it gives me. I write because I enjoy hearing responses and feedback from readers. I write because I want people to think about different things (whether those things are serious, funny or trivial doesn't matter).

The truth of the matter is your 'voice' will only materialize when you actually start using it.

Do you have a dream of being a master gardener, but don't have a fully developed landscape drawing set to paper? Who cares? Find your gardener's voice ... scatter some seeds and see what happens. You can tweak your garden when the seeds start to grow. Half of the fun is being surprised (I know that comment sounds strange coming from a control person like me, but I love gardening).

Do you have the makings of being a leader? Find your leader's voice and start a small group (of any guide).

Deep down do you want to be a chef? Then find your cooking voice and start trying out some new recipes. I'm sure your friends and family would love to be your guinea pigs to help you get started.

Do you want to find a new fulfilling career? Doesn't matter if you're a new college graduate or if  you're just ready for a change. Find your ambitious voice and start applying for some new jobs. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Do you want to be an artist? Then find your painting voice. Pick up a brush and just attack the canvas. You may be surprised at the outcome.

My question to you - what is your inner voice telling you to do and how can we help?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Are you ready for spring?

I don't know about you but I feel like I skipped right over the month of February - like I played leap frog and went from January straight into March. This week there's a bit of spring in the air. I took an outdoor walk with my husband yesterday afternoon AND we opened a few of the house windows as well. Tonight I wore a sweatshirt in lieu of a coat. The temperatures will be at or near 60 all week, which I admit I am more than ready for. Trust me I'm not complaining. This winter has probably been the mildest I ever remember for Michigan. This Saturday will be St. Patrick's Day so I'm hoping the nice weather holds out just a bit longer. I REALLY don't want to have to cover up my green apparel with a coat. That would just be unfair!

Maybe I have a case of spring fever? I'm not sure. Could be. It might be contagious so you should be careful (lol). I know a lot of people who normally struggle during the months of January & February. They need warmth and sunshine to keep their outlook in check. Hopefully it's been a bit easier for everyone this year. Truth be told, I don't think any of us will pass up a week of warmth.

So are you ready for spring? I know I am!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Spring Forward ... Fall Back?

Tonight marks Daylight Saving's Time for 2012. Before heading off to bed tonight we will switch our clocks forward one hour. What does that mean for you and me? Well, in the mornings when my husband or I drop our high schooler off at the bus stop (6:45 a.m.) it will go back to being dark again. On the other hand, we'll have an extra hour of daylight in the evenings after work which is nice because I can stop off for groceries and get home without having to turn my headlights on. That itself is gratifying on many levels.

Let's take a moment and try and relate the whole 'spring forward, fall back' concept to our personal lives. It's not just about light and dark in the sense of sunshine and warmth - I think we can relate to it on a different level. Do you ever have moments when you feel like for every step you make going forward, life throws obstacles at you forcing you to take two steps backwards? I know I have times like that. Many in fact. I suppose it's normal and just a reality we all must face at one time or another. Is there anything we can do to prevent it? Probably not, but that doesn't mean we don't still have some level of control. We can control how we choose to deal with those times and we can control how long we allow ourselves to dwell on the 'backward steps'.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not insinuating that it's easy. I'll even go out on a limb and admit that I feel that way quite often. In my heart I know the positive, productive moments will return - so I try to hold on to that. I am human and have my less than productive moments like everyone else. I can get frustrated and angry and discouraged, but I can also choose to dig a little deeper and somehow find the strength to get going 'forward' again. What's my secret? Sadly  I don't have any real magical advice other than giving myself the grace and the time to get over and get past whatever I'm having a hard time dealing with at the moment. There's no set timeline and there's certainly no directions on how to live a perfect life, but I do think trying to find the positive in any given situation will be a good place to start.

Ultimately spring is a time of sunshine, warmth, blue skies, flowers, and singing birds. It's a time of rebirth and energy. Join with me and embrace life as we 'spring forward' together.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Welcome to March !!

I don't know about you but I couldn't be happier to flip the calendar today. February always seems to throw me off a bit since it's shorter; granted it's only by a couple of days - but sometimes that's all it takes. Then 2012 threw in an extra day for leap year. For me that just messed things up a little more.

So why am I anxious for March? Not because I'm trying to rush anything, that's for sure. Truth be told, I would prefer to slow down time if I could. And certainly not because my husband will say he's closer now to putting the Christmas tree back up. It could be because I'm Irish and like wearing green for St. Patrick's Day. It could be because the first day of Spring is in March and I get anxious to start planning the color schemes for my garden areas at home and at church. It could be because it's my birthday month and I get coupons in the mail from DSW, Vera Bradley and my favorite restaurant (Pasquale's). Let's face it .... March is just an AWESOME month.

What's your favorite month of year? Let's be fair - now you have to tell us all why.