Monday, February 22, 2016

Give Up Counting

Last week I had a very productive day at work (not that I don't have productive days every This particular day, I was working alone (for the most part). So, I live-streamed some music on my computer while I worked for the sake of company. At one point, the music stopped and the talk segments began (for about 4 hours). A few of the segments were intriguing and moving, but when they switched to analyzing politics I finally turned it off. All was not lost, though. I did listen to a great 15 minute segment from Dr. Joyce Meyer. There are times when just a simple sentence or word can inspire me. Dr. Meyer talked about 'giving up counting'.

Counting is a mathematical way to solve mysteries and situations. If I have a dozen apples and Joey takes two to school for lunch and dad grabs three for work, how many will be left for Suzie and her friends for an afternoon snack? With just a few precise calculations, you can have your exact answer.

However, counting does not always help or solve some real-life situations. In fact, counting can sometimes lead to stress and more questions.

If you're planning a fundraising event that needs to be well-attended in order to succeed, predicting the number of people that will or will not show up is crucial. Starting to count the attendees as they enter the room can be nerve wracking.

If your faith journey has you committing to prayer every day, how long is long enough? What if on Tuesday you only have time to pray for 15 minutes - is that enough? Will God understand that your time was limited that day because your plate was full?

If you're working on making lifestyle changes and trying to commit to an exercise regimen, do you have days when you ask yourself 'Did I walk far enough?' 'Did I stay on the bike long enough?' 'Have I lost enough weight?'

There are days when I ask myself, 'What is God's plan for me?' I may think I know where my life is heading, but MY plan and God's plan could easily be different. MY plan and YOUR plan may be as different as our needs. We all need different things and have different ways of going after them. That's more than okay because everyone is different and unique. Ultimately, YOUR plan won't work for me and MY plan won't for you, especially if God's plan is different than both of ours.

What's the answer? Only God has that answer, but my suggestion would be to give up the counting. Let nature take its course. Quit counting the number of pounds you've lost or the number of miles you've run. Let your faith journey endure the twists and turns that present themselves; what we learn along the way may be the lesson that was waiting to be learned. Maybe it's not all about the number of minutes we pray, but rather what we say to God when we're praying. There's something to be said for quality over quantity.

Counting works great in math equations and scientific formulas, but real-life situations ... maybe not so much.

Monday, February 15, 2016

It's Never Too Early To Take Your Life Seriously

Some people live life way too seriously; they're workaholics, they read EVERY newspaper article and Internet headline before their second cup of coffee, and they're planning next week in great detail while forgetting about tomorrow. Then there are other people who never take life seriously in the least. Their idea of planning for their future revolves solely around the dinner menu.

So what has me contemplating life choices? Like others, I read headlines about a 21 year old shooting a roommate over a minor disagreement. I see daily selfies being posted on Facebook by 12-15 year old kids that make me wonder where their self esteem is. Do they really need to post a new staged selfie 3-4 times a week? What's the point? Have they evolved that much in 24 hours?

I'll admit I ponder through Facebook and my limited Instagram connections to see what's going on, but I often see stuff that just makes me wonder. I'm not writing on my blog to bash anyone's choices or try to convince you of my viewpoints on piercings or tattoos. My views are my views. My point, though, is that I wonder how many people ask themselves how some of their spontaneous choices they make today will stick with them for the long haul. Will they be happy with their trendy tattoo when they're 65 or even 80? Will their fellow neighbors in the senior living center think to themselves, 'WOW, YOU ROCK'? Or will they have to put their glasses on to look at it and say, 'What the heck is that?'

Will posting that picture of yourself today wearing the low cleavage dress while holding a cigarette in one hand and a drink in the other scream out to a potential employer, "Choose me for the job. I promise to represent your company with nothing but pure professionalism."?

This post isn't meant to be a rant or imply that all morals and self-respect are falling by the wayside. I am merely suggesting, by my observations, that it's never too early to take your life seriously. When making the short term decisions, take a moment to look forward at the long term picture. If your current decision doesn't look like a good mesh with the long term goal, maybe take a step back and rethink the drinking and driving idea or the texting or driving without a seat belt thought. Remember that the choices you make today can easily stick with you forever.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

How Do You Rank Yourself?

Sometimes we all have crazy weeks. Okay ... sometimes those weeks can drag into months. We aren't unique though. We may be running low on sleep, energy, or even motivation. Our lists may be long and the needs many, but we're driven so we learn to prioritize. Maybe you're working with deadlines. Maybe you're working towards a goal and wonder if you've plateaued. Maybe you feel like you're mostly moving backwards instead of forward. You are most definitely not alone. We ALL have days when we feel like the fan has been turned on and the proverbial crap is flowing.

So, how do we cope? Take a step back and take a deep breath. We go into a closed room and have a minor meltdown. We shed a few tears when someone asks how we're doing because we are feeling overwhelmed. However we respond, it's okay. Why? Because we're human and these are all real, raw human emotions. Sure, we can try to brush off our super powers. We can build our protective walls a little higher and a little thicker, but in the end they will most likely come crashing down.

I am notorious for talking about 'lists'. Lists for shopping, lists of projects to get done, things we aspire to do, goals we want to tackle, places we want to go, and things we want to see ... the lists are endless. Then reality hits. We only have 24 hours in a day and seven days in a week. How can we possibly get it all done if we want to do it all well? I heard someone say the other day, "There are people who can't help but give 100% and then there are people who don't know how to give a 100%. I prefer to surround myself with the people who can't help but give 100%." On one hand, it's a complicated quote. On the other hand, it couldn't be any clearer.

If we're going to do something, we should want to do it well. Overextending ourselves doesn't help anyone. At some point we need to add taking care of ourselves to our lists. The question is, "Where do you rank yourself on your lists?" Too often we push ourselves to page two - or even the bottom of the list. How can we realistically tackle #1-10 if we are #11?

Today's lesson? It's all about finding a balance and it's okay to put yourself toward the top of your list.

Monday, February 1, 2016

It Should Come From the Heart

I am not sure where the month of January has gone, but surprisingly it's already the first week of February. I kind of feel like I've been in hibernation and just woke up. Today I looked at the calendar and noticed that Valentine's Day is only 2 weeks away. So what does that mean? Well, it most likely means you've been seeing festive heart cutouts in the stores since the day after Christmas (if not before). You're surely seeing store shelves now fully lined with heart-shaped candy boxes, cute little teddy bears ... everything and anything red and pink. You'll see ads from florists for expensive flowers, commercials for sparkling jewelry, and restaurants promoting 'special' menus for the upcoming holiday.

You may wonder how I feel about Valentine's Day. Truth be told, I love it! I love LOVE. I love Hallmark movies with predictable happy endings and I love romance. But Valentine's Day, to me, is a lot like New Year's Eve. It's a day that's gone completely commercial. Society has somehow convinced us that if someone truly loves us they can only show it with candy or jewelry or flowers. For me, personally, I think Valentine's Day can put too much pressure on people. It forces people to say something maybe they aren't quite ready to say. It can rush things for some people.

I would much rather get a $5.99 bouquet of friendly flowers on the 13th or 15th because someone was trying to encourage me or lift my spirits. I would much rather take an evening stroll with my husband and stop off at Sanders to share a hot fudge sundae 'just because'. Don't get me wrong ... if he wants to share an ice cream sundae on February 14th I certainly will not say no.

There are many ways to enjoy the spirit of the holiday without depleting your wallet or feeling coerced into emotions. You can send your 'significant other' a text message that simply says, 'I am thinking of you today and it made me smile. I hope you have a wonderful day.' You can surprise them with a cup of coffee prepared just the way they like it. You can leave a hand-written note in their briefcase or lunch bag or even on their windshield tucked under the wiper for when they get out of work. You can make them their favorite dish for dinner and avoid the crowds and the over-priced 'special' menus (been there, done that). You can make a bowl of popcorn and invite them to watch a movie of 'their' choice.

The possibilities are endless. If you're a romantic and love Valentine's Day, that's perfectly o.k., but find a creative way to express yourself. The important thing to remember is that whatever you do or say it should come from the heart (and it doesn't have to break the bank). That way the other person will know it is genuine. Then, make sure you remember to express yourself with the same gestures on random days ... just because.

How have you gotten creative on Valentine's Day?