Wednesday, October 30, 2013

We Talk About What We Know

Lately I've been a bit self-conscience. I sometimes think that when someone asks me a question I keep coming up with the same answers or referring to the same things. I worry that people may think I'm self-centered, that I have tunnel vision, or that I can only talk about certain things. I've been participating in an adult study group at church. We'll watch a video, then attempt to answer questions as a group from a corresponding workbook. We'll discuss questions about the video we watched or related scriptures that we read or then try to answer the really tough questions. The ones that ask you about 'what specific situations can you relate from your own life'. That's when it gets hard. No one wants to be the first one to answer. No one wants to be transparent or vulnerable by putting themselves out there, but after a long awkward moment of silence someone steps up to the plate and gets things rolling.

When the question is 'what has been a tough experience in your life when you felt you persevered?' it's only natural for me to talk about beating cancer. But then I wonder if everyone is tired of hearing about my past situation. If my 'thing' was beating cancer or coming from a divorced family then that is my story and my life. Someone else's may be dealing with grief or coming out of an abusive relationship or beating an addiction. Should we be quiet and not share our stories? I don't think so.

I learn so much about other people by listening to their stories, therefore learning more about myself. There are situations and relationships I can't talk about because they're not my life. I can't pretend to be something or someone I'm not, that's not God's plan for me. He made me who I am, He sent challenges my way so I could become stronger, He has put people in my life so I could learn, and He continues to help me find my way. I'm still unsure about things. I'm still impatient. I still have a difficult time not giving myself down time (but I'm working on it). But in the end I've come to the conclusion that we talk about what we know. That's when we'll be the most honest and real. Anything less than that is a waste and being phony. Not something any of us want to be. I'm thinking it's all about creating a balance. It's one thing to share what we know, but it's entirely another to stop and listen to someone else. That's when we really learn.

What do you think? Do you have a hard time opening up with people and being totally and completely vulnerable and honest?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Remember When ...

In a time when the world is constantly changing and evolving I think it's clearly time for a game of 'Remember When?'

  • Remember when you actually walked across the room to change the channel on the TV (or better yet your parents made you do it because you were youngest and thus had the lowest seniority)?
  • Remember when we used to play vinyl records? Before cassette tapes and CDs? Before IPods?
  • Remember when rather than emailing or texting someone you actually picked up a phone with a cord that was attached to the wall and called them AND if the line was busy there wasn't any call-waiting so you waited 5 minutes and tried again?
  • Remember when you were a kid and walked to a friend's house, knocked on the door and said 'Can so-n-so come out and play?'
  • Remember when it was safe to let your kids go out and play in the neighborhood and come home a few hours later in time for lunch?
  • Remember when it was acceptable to correct any of the kids in the neighborhood for cutting through your yard, driving too fast down the street, or saying something inappropriate where other people could hear it?
  • Remember when you wrote your homework and reports out BY HAND? If you couldn't spell a word you actually had to look it up yourself in a paper dictionary? When you researched your book reports and term papers you went to the library and used encyclopedias?
  • Remember when you ate dinner as a family every night of the week at a specific time AND you actually talked?
  • Remember when the best Halloween costumes were handmade not bought at Halloween City for $19.99?
  • Remember when you had a pen pal? You wrote letters (by hand no less) on stationary you received from your grandma for Christmas and mailed it?
  • Remember when writing in cursive was a required part of your education?
These are just a few of the things that come to mind for me. What about you? What do you remember doing when you were younger that's different from today? Some would say changes are all about improvement, others would suggest some things were simpler and clearer before change. Some changes make life more efficient and easier, but other changes seem to promote laziness. I've seen the handwriting of some high school and college students and let me tell you ... it's disgraceful. It used to be a joke that if a man's handwriting was bad he must be a doctor. My doctor has much better handwriting than a lot of last year's graduating class.
Tell me a favorite memory of yours. Did you used to do something that while it may have taken more time you felt by doing it you gained character?

Monday, October 21, 2013

CHANGE: Friend or Foe?

'CHANGE' ... Are you the kind of person who gets bored with things and is always seeking a 'change'? I don't just mean wanting a new hair style or new clothes for the next season. I mean bigger, more daunting life changes. Some people welcome change with open arms and actually go looking for it. Then there are others who work really hard to create a comfort zone; a place they can count on where they know what to expect, a place with few surprises. Life is always presenting us with challenges and change; sometimes good and sometimes not so good.

I guess I'm a middle of the fence kind of gal. Some times I welcome change, it can keep things interesting and fresh. Then there are those times when someone else decides to make a change for us because for whatever reason they get to dictate what is supposedly good for us (not that they always ask us). It's those times when many of us suddenly find ourselves on the defensive (like when the government starts to dictate our health plan choices, the economy forces us to make decisions we shouldn't have to make, or a school or job suddenly changes their expectations).

There are many things in our lives we can plan or try to oversee, but there are even more things in our lives that we have absolutely no control over whatsoever. That power is often just out of our reach and ultimately in God's hands. That in itself can be comforting, but since we're still human many of us are going to continue to struggle. We try to gain a better understanding of the 'whys' and 'why nots', but that can sometimes be really difficult.

So the question remains 'is change a friend or a foe?' Some change is healthy and some not so much. If a change has a solid purpose perhaps it stands a chance, BUT if someone presents you with a change just because they're bored or have their own agenda is that reason enough to force the change on you? I don't think so. I'm still of the mindset that God gave me a mind and voice. He didn't bless me with it so that someone else could choose how and when they would speak for me. Do I still want to hear the Pledge of Allegiance said in schools? -  you bet I do. Do I still want to hear people mention God in prayers in public places? - absolutely! There are a lot of 'changes' I see everyday that make me want to curl up and cry in disappointment, while fortunately others give me a glimmer of hope that there is still good out there in the world.

It's a Monday, what can I say? I blog, I vent,  I get to say what's on MY mind. Today, right now at this exact moment no one gets to speak for me, make a choice for me, or CHANGE what's in my heart. It's a good day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How Reliable Is The Internet?

There are some people who think technology and the Internet are the best inventions since Swiss Cheese; which is a good comparison if you like Swiss Cheese, but then again Swiss Cheese is full of holes. I'm all for progress and improvement but sometimes I wonder how far is too far. Technology is a growing concept with a lot of great things going for it; research, inventions, progress, and sometimes making life easier. Then again ... sometimes it makes me want to beat my head against the wall (or at least my computer screen).

I've known some people who have taken the Internet way too seriously and believed in absolutely everything it says. I've heard of people not going to the doctor because they self-diagnosed themselves through Web MD (often times incorrectly because while they did have certain similar symptoms their cause turned out to be something entirely different). Although I once got a 2nd degree steam burn on my wrist on Christmas Eve and was able to give myself some immediate attention because of the Internet.

Just about any time I use Map Quest it either gives me incorrect directions to my destination or takes me in such a roundabout way I may as well add an extra 30 minutes to my travel time. Just ask my family about the time we drove 4 hours to meet some friends at a brand new Cheesecake Factory in Dayton, Ohio and ended up in downtown Dayton at a field. We were definitely on the right street, but definitely no Cheesecake Factory. It finally took a mailman who knew the area to give us reliable directions to the new outdoor mall a few exits further down the freeway. Fortunately our friends were still waiting for us.

There's a certain State Farm Insurance commercial that I've seen on TV where the young lady insists the scraggly looking guy with the polo shirt and fanny pack is a French model only because 'she saw it on the Internet so it must be true'. It's a funny commercial but also makes a great point. That perhaps people should learn to better use the tools the Internet has to offer, rather than become dependent on them. And certainly to realize that behind every computer screen there was a real live human being entering in the initial information. Guess what? Last time I checked humans still make mistakes and that's o.k., but for some reason there's a part of us that still expects a man made machine to somehow be perfect and flawless. Imagine that.

So ... how reliable do you think the Internet is?

Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Battle Over Pink

October isn't just the 10th month on the calendar, it's also the month where amidst all the orange, yellow & reds of autumn you'll see a sea of pink. October is designated as Breast Cancer Awareness month. You'll hear about a number of fundraising walks being sponsored, like the one I was in last weekend. You'll see an endless variety of 'pink' items on the shelves that supposedly donate a portion of sales to breast cancer research. I'd like to think it's true that funds are being raised that support ground breaking research, create community awareness, and support programs that directly assist current cancer patients going through treatments. But there are times I wonder just how much of the profits of the commercial items ranging from water bottles & mugs to socks and t-shirts actually go where they're supposed to and what that actual percentage is. Just how much money are all of these companies making at the expense of breast cancer or any other cause for that fact? I would hope that some companies aren't just jumping on the pink band wagon knowing that if they donate even the smallest percentage to the cause that they'll be able to rake in some big profits during the highly publicized month. Don't get me wrong, as a 7 year breast cancer survivor I am truly grateful for every single dollar that gets raised in hopes that a cure can be discovered before my daughter or anyone else's daughter is affected.
If you have $25 to donate and want your $25 to have the most impact then you need to ask yourself an important question. Where exactly do you want to make a difference? Has there been a specific program you've seen in action that touched your heart? Do you have a relative or a friend who benefited from Meals on Wheels? If so, why not donate directly to their program? Do you know someone who received immediate care and support at a shelter? Then why not make a direct donation to them? There are so many great organizations out there that do exactly what they say they're going to do that I think it's great when they can get some support.
I chose to walk in a recent Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk because it's organized by the American Cancer Society and I've personally benefited from programs that they continue to offer. I knew where my donation and those of my supporters was going. I'll admit that I've purchased a pink ribbon t-shirt or two during the last 7 years and that's o.k. I just think that in a day and age when commercialism and making a profit are as predictable as the sun rising and setting each day, we need to all be responsible and be careful. 
Do you have a charity you feel strongly about? If you do and ever have an upcoming event you'd like to get the word out for - let me know. I have no problem sharing good information with my readers.

Friday, October 4, 2013

How do you use your time?

This has been an unusually busy week for me. I've spent time at work, I was video taped for a public service announcement for the American Cancer Society, I've trained for a Making Strides walk this weekend, I took my daughter to dinner last night, I've cleaned house, I've run errands, I'm at the library blogging, and I almost forgot ... earlier today I mended an injured decorative pillow for my couch.
Time is something that flies by too quickly, as well as being a commodity that I seem to run short on. If I could only figure out how to add an extra hour or two to my day or better yet, make time stand still or at least slow down I'd be a happy camper. Somehow I don't think any of these options are likely.
How do you fill your time? Time isn't just the hours and seconds that fill up our days - it's the area of our lives where we try to fit in as much as we can. On any given day we'll try to carve out some 'work time', some 'play time', some 'family time', some 'quiet time', perhaps some 'nap  time', a 'meal time', some 'relaxation time', some 'exercise time', a little 'me time', some 'God time', and hopefully some 'quality time'.
No matter what you're doing it's important to be on time and hopefully not a waste of time. It's also important to create a balance. No matter how we attempt to allocate our time we're always going to run short. So, what do we do to get the most out of our time? We set priorities and we make choices. Sometimes we may need to give up a little time in one area of our lives to make room for something else we feel is more important. The priorities and choices will undoubtedly change on a daily basis and that's o.k. We can't possibly do it all. For me it's hard to give up my lists. Sometimes I'm so busy I find out that I'm human ... imagine that. I find out that I don't have a flashy red & blue super hero costume in my closet with a shiny golden belt. Guess my bubble has now burst. I'm not Wonder Woman. Some days I look around and see what's been put on my plate for the day and I realize something is going to have give. The house may not get cleaned for a few days or I may not have time to run for groceries after work so we change our priorities and I pick up a carryout pizza. Guess what? When that happens the world does not stop rotating and lightning does not strike. The only thing that changes is my priorities. Isn't it amazing that while we don't have the ability to stop or slow down time, we do have the power to make of it what we choose.
How do you manage to budget your time? Better yet, if you had an extra hour in your day or even your week ... what would you do with it?