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What a difference 7 days can make!

Last week we visited family in the Adirondacks to celebrate my grandson’s graduation – how this sweet baby grew up so fast is beyond me – but I digress. The mountains are known for delayed springs. I expected chilly weather and was not disappointed, yet when the spring snow came, however, it provided impetus to complain. Even the locals expressed their dismay. It was time for warm weather. This week, I am home in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the temperature is 84, and people are complaining that they are hot and uncomfortable because of the heat and elevated humidity. Isn’t there a better way to take action and expend our energy? Why, I wonder, are we humans so prone to complain about the weather and think it is okay?

ComplaintsAccording to Wikipedia’s Free Dictionary, the word complain is an action verb meaning to express dissatisfaction or annoyance about a state of affairs or an event and includes synonyms repine, grumble, lament and moan.

Although I have heard that several governments, including the US, are trying to control the weather by various means, obviously they have not succeeded to the point where everyone is satisfied. We still complain and regardless if we prefer cool or warm temperatures, we complain. It’s second nature to us. Yet it seems to me we are wasting our time. (Notice I’m including myself in these statements because I’m as guilty as anyone else.)

Wouldn’t it be more productive to complain about something we can change? What if we complained instead about the dirty windows in our house? We could get out the cleaning solution and rags and make them shine. Then we would have something to rejoice about. We could send out positive messages about shiny windows and invite our friends to rejoice with us. We could throw a party. If the windows were really bad to start with and obvious to passersby, we’d have no problem getting people to come. But no, we complain about something that it is impossible to change.

Perhaps we use the weather as a level playing field, a point of commonality, to initiate conversations – you know, break the ice. It does work because everyone will join in, yet grumbling and complaining are negative characteristics and instead of building people up, it drags people down. Who needs more of that?

It seems to me it will take an intentional effort to change my thoughts and expressions about the weather, but I’m going to give it a try. After all, it takes intentionality to do anything worthwhile. So here’s the deal. You have my permission to remind me the next time I complain about the weather that there is a positive aspect that I am missing. Who knows, it may filter down to other areas where I struggle to do better.

A blogger’s confession

who is a good blogger imageWhere have all the blog posts gone?

You may have wondered if I dropped off the side of the earth because I have not posted anything to the site – at least consistently – since working on my new ezine Golden Gals Only, an inbox magazine for women 50+. Now that it is officially launched and I am into the continuous improvement stage, I can get back to some things that were put on hold. You’ll also be glad to know that Columbus proved the world was not flat as the scientists of his day claimed, so you have no worries about falling off yourself. Makes you wonder what about the scientists of today, but I digress.

The encouragement to continue came from a blogging friend, who primarily but not exclusively writes movie reviews. Likely she has no idea how her Friday blog – Ramblings of a tired woman – impacted me and who knows how many others.

Experiencing a phenomena characteristic of most writers, a.k.a. writer’s block, she had the integrity to post her true feelings and let others know she was human and not a fabulous writing machine. Short and to the point, she still injected her delightful sense of humor as she further displayed her human side.

One of my goals for 2013 is to write quickly, concisely and engagingly. Not easy feats for any writer, but certainly something I can strive for. With Jane’s candor as my model, I plan to use this blog as an exercise to share some things that are important / interesting to me while working towards achieving my 2013 goals.

Thanks for letting me be open with you and don’t forget to check out janemcmaster – true confessions of another blogger.

Pride goes before a fall

pride-before-the-fallMaybe it’s because I was an only child and never had others to ask to pitch in and help me, but for whatever reason I find it hard to ask others for help. Bottom line though, it is an issue of pride, and we all know where that leads. So before I fall, I’m ditching the pride and asking for help.

For months, I have been working to prepare an ezine – an email inbox magazine – for women age 50+. Whether you recognize it or not, there are an increasing number of us, and we’re not ready to settle for the rocking chair. Yet most magazines target the 15 to 45 year olds in their topics. This leaves us feeling a bit disjointed because we have lots of things we’d like information on but eradicating acne is rarely one of them because we’ve been there and done that.

We’re looking for purpose for the second half and ideas and information about our health and wellness as well as weightier issues like dealing with aging parents, serious illness or a myriad of other topics. We also know that we’ve got a lot of experience that can be shared, but wonder how to share it; hence, the arrival of Golden Gals Only.

Here’s where I need to ask for help – there are three areas, really. Even if you don’t fit the category, there are ways you can render assistance.

  • Would you sign up for the FREE newsletter to help me out with numbers or would you pass the sign-up information on to those who are in this category and might be interested?
  • All you need to do to sign up for the bi-weekly newsletter (Monday and Thursday) is go to www.goldengalsonly.com and add your information in the blue box. You’ll receive an email with a link to click which will confirm your subscription. That’s it!
  • If you know of anyone in this age bracket with a great story or desire to contribute an article to the ezine, would you put them in contact with me via this blog or at my website?
  • Would you pray that this endeavor would bring honor to the Lord? This is of utmost importance to me.

I was touched this morning by a song sung most frequently by George Beverly Shea, who died this week at the age of 104. He is associated most often as having traveled with Billy Graham. His signature song gave me great encouragement as I venture out in what for me is uncharted waters, and I hope the lyrics of  His Eye is on the Sparrow may touch your heart as well.

How do you eat an elephant?

You’ve likely heard this riddle and may have even used the answer to inspire yourself or others to start something huge and eat one bite at a time, that is take on one small chunk of the project at a time. As great an application as this riddle provides, I think seeing someone who has not only done that but has lived an exceedingly successful life modeling this philosophy speaks volumes more.

nick-vujicicThis week I was listening to Family Talk and was reminded of the life story of Nick Vujicic. He is a man, who at this point may have crossed over into his thirties, yet he is succeeding in life and accomplishing much more than most others including me. His story is unique because of his birth.

While most parents reach for their newborn to count all of the baby’s finger and toes, in Nick’s case, the doctor hid him from his mother because not only were there no fingers to count, there were no arms or legs. Mr. and Mrs. Vujicic’s baby was born without limbs. Even ultrasounds did not reveal this possibility and everyone, including the medical staff, were taken by surprise.

The Lord had a purpose for this boy. At the age of 6, he had experienced an exceptionally difficult day at school. Kids continually bullied him so he tried to commit suicide but then reconsidered. At the age of 15, he realized that although no one else understood why he was born this way, God did. Nick decided to let God use him for whatever He had planned. And that is exactly what God is doing.

Today, Nick speaks to teens on numerous campuses and shares his story. He talks to them about bullying, directing his comment to both those who have been bullied and those who dish it out. He speaks to them about finding their identity in Christ. You cannot help but be inspired through his charismatic smile and personality, yet even more than that you’ll be amazed at what he can do and continues to do. Since a picture is worth a thousand words, check out this video and see for yourself.   

What happened to the best?

My daughter recently recounted an article she had read about a college professor who wanted to demonstrate the principles of socialism in his classroom. Although his students did not totally embrace this philosophy, they thought treating the rich and poor alike sounded good to them. He challenged their thinking and perhaps it will challenge yours.

College-Student2The professor announced his plan to treat everyone the same and outlined his expectations. “All of the students would come to class, listen to the lectures, do the assignments and take the tests.  That’s fair, isn’t it? Then everyone should get the same grade.”

They all agreed and nodded assent. The daily routine resembled the normal classroom experience until the professor announced the results of the first test. “Everyone received a B.”

The student responses, however, were mixed. Those who normally applied themselves, studied hard and did their best in the exam, felt they had done well. They were disappointed and claimed they should have gotten an “A.” Those who crammed the night before were satisfied with the “B,” but those who didn’t even crack a book were ecstatic. A “B” to them was wonderful. They liked the professor’s socialistic plan.

The professor announced the next test but this time the students approached the event differently. Those who previously had studied hard figured if they would get a “B” anyway, why exert so much effort? This thought process trickled down to the crammers as well, and it provided a wonderful excuse for the partiers to continue their tradition. This time the professor announced the class results. Expecting another “B,” the class was slightly disappointed to learn their score this time had dropped to a “C.”

When it came time for the next test, the diligent students were disgusted with the partiers and figured why should they study? They could go with what they had absorbed from class. The crammers also felt less inclined to cram and hit the sack at 10:00 PM instead of burning the midnight oil. The partiers maintained their course of action, and the professor announced that this time the class had earned a “D” and a low one at that.

Finally the last test of the course was at hand, however, something else had transpired. Some of the students were not only failing to turn in assignments, but now they did not always bother to attend class. When the professor announced the results of the test, everyone received an “F.” No one was pleased, but they were all treated the same.

The professor explained the same thing happens in a nation. People lose their desire to work hard if they are going to get the same as their coworker who sleeps on the job. Soon everyone becomes lazy and nothing improves and things begin to deteriorate. Soon the people don’t know anything at all and cannot think for themselves. This is when the government steps in to take over and the people become pawns in society and lives at a poverty level.

I’m not sure if the professor’s students got the picture, but I thought it was an interesting experiment.

Spring’s Redemption

Spring has sprung. The grass has riz. I wonder where the birdie is. 

cardinal-snow-snowstorm-red-bird-Favim.com-474579My son told me yesterday that he received 12” of new snow, and it was still coming down. He was expecting 6 to 10 inches more today. Not what I would have scheduled for the first day of spring. When I think of spring, I’m looking for warm sunshine, green grass, balmy days, new life poking through the ground, warm temperatures, and longer days. Did I mention warm weather?

Spring does draw my heart to consider these things, spring-flowers1 yet I think its true meaning is hope! With spring comes a full assurance I will see an end to winter with its cold and yes, snow. The daylight hours will increase and warmer temperatures will begin to lure me outdoors to enjoy the fresh air and sunshine. Yet here’s the looming question. If the daylight hours are increasing, will it impact the way I use my time?

No doubt spring weather also brings additional tasks to clean up from winter’s winds and wild weather. The flower beds will require planning and planting, and the lawn will need attention. Yet all of the indoor responsibilities still require time as well. Somehow it all gets done. The work level increases and yet the number of hours in the day remain static. I tend to think the difference is more of those hours contain daylight, and I can accomplish more outdoors for a longer period. Yet more likely the change comes from my perspective and the way I align my priorities. Instead of being enticed to sit by the fire and watch TV or surf the web, I need to begin now to redeem the time. If I can do it while it is still getting dark early (though daylight savings has already started), just think how much more useful I can be when the reality of spring and summer come to fruition?

Here’s what I’m learning that may also help you. When you redeem the time, it can be done in increments, and it actually works better this way because two benefits appear. First you tend to sustain your efforts because you’re not making huge adjustments, just small ones. You’re increasing a little more each day. Second, you compound your efforts, much like interest on your savings account and increase them consistently. In so doing, one day you wake up and look over your shoulder with amazement to see where you were and where you are now. The key is consistency.

I love spring and all that it entails. (My apologies to those who suffer from spring allergies. I no longer do but more on that on another post.) Today I choose to use it as my springboard to a better and more productive me. I will do better than yesterday and move forward step by step. I can’t wait to see what happens between now and the beginning of summer. Feel free to hold me accountable.

Happy Valentine’s Day

tullips t11z104aNo doubt Hallmark, FTD Florist and Hershey Chocolate stocks are up today as millions of men and women seek to honor their special someone with a Valentine. Other retailers and restaurants will also increase their business, yet these displays of affection beg the question, will my significant other feel loved as a result? In other words, does the gift given match the person’s personality and help them to feel loved?

My husband loves roses and though I don’t send him flowers for Valentine’s Day, he knows that I enjoy them, and he lovingly sent me some (Thanks, Honey! J). Valentine tradition says roses are the perfect flower to say, “I love you” and spark romance. Although I too adore their beauty, this time of year I’m looking for spring, and a bouquet of tulips perk me up. My dear husband looked at what I liked rather than what he liked and selected an appropriate gift. And, he chose my favorite color.

Dr. Gary D. Chapman contends that each person has a predominant love language that speaks volumes to his/her heart and when another person speaks their language, they feel totally satisfied. It’s like their gas tank is full and their engine is purring like a kitten. It makes sense. If someone tried to speak to you in Portuguese or Russian, you’d have little idea what they were trying to say, even if the message were critically important. Chapman lists the five languages as

  • 5 love languages communication04Words of affirmation
  • Acts of service
  • Receiving gifts
  • Quality time
  • Physical touch

Although each person has a combination of preferences, usually they have two that stand out. If the needs in these areas are met, the person flourishes and grows. Chapman has provided a free online assessment so that you can discover your own love language or that of your spouse or children. It’s especially crucial for teens. Check it out to see if you can find your spouse, kids as well as your own special love language. Be sure to let others know what it is so that they can fill your love tank appropriately.

By the way, have a super Happy Valentine’s Day!