CHANGE and CHOICE

Do you ever want to change something about yourself?  Your hair, your laugh, have more self-discipline, read less,  fell more confident, parent more wisely?  I can honestly say that if there were an easy way I would change a lot about myself—probably everything about me would get a little tweak.  The catch?  There is no easy way!

To initiate change requires making choices– choices that are different than the ones I have been making.  Establishing a new habit or behavior pattern, requires consistent perseverance.  To maintain and sustain changed behavior I must be aware of and deliberate in every decision I make.  No more robotically going to the cupboard grabbing a snack; forget mindlessly driving through any place for dinner;  shopping therapy is out.

What is on the list of changes you want to make in your life?  What do you do out of habit that could be sabotaging your progress?

This year I am focusing on being more responsible in  my nutrition, finances and time management.   Whatever progress I manage will positively impact other areas of my life

Last year I maintained a healthy eating plan for eight months.  I had increased energy and interest, slept well, reduced pain, and oh yes, lost weight.  Was it easy?  Heck no!  Can I do it ?  Absolutely !  Increasing awareness of the choices I make  about  what, where and how I spend my money will put me in control and eliminate the wonder “about where did it all go?”.

Being accountable for how I use my time means I am responsible for each day I have been given to enjoy.  What I choose to do with my twenty-four hours is totally my call.  Unlike with food and money, I have no control over how many hours are in a day nor how many days in my lifetime.  Using my minutes, hours and days wisely requires deliberate choices that balance self/others, work/play, relaxation/stress, mind/body/spirit  and the many other competing priorities in our society.

Since this day matters,  I want to make it matter in the most efficient and enjoyable way I can.  Wish me luck.

HERE COMES THE SUN

AMEN!  HALLELUAH!  This is why everyday matters – each day is full of blessings, challenges, surprises, beauty. Today I am celebrating two days of sunshine and 60 plus degree weather. Tuesday,  I met a friend for lunch dressed in a short-sleeved top, leggings and ballet flats.  Yesterday I worked outside trimming trees that are leafless and very dormant from the freeze of last week. I wore a t-shirt and jeans.  NO tights, gloves, sweater, hat or coat.

I don’t know where you live but in North Caroline we have weather.  A natural occurrence unless you live in California where I lived most of my life.  Here, we have rain all through the year, thunderstorms, heat and humidity,  snow, sleet and black ice.  I love it all!  I have to check the weather report before scheduling a hike.  I own actual “winter clothes”, like a full-length wool coat and flannel-lined jeans.  I never knew those even existed.

I could go on about keeping a jacket and umbrella in the car and gloves always in coat pockets.  The point is not how much work it is to have various weather conditions.  The point is that I enjoy the changes.  The Fall is even more beautiful than any picture I have ever seen.  The snow falls once or twice a year, stays for a few days and hopefully returns next year.  The rain and humidity create green in innumerable shades and forests everywhere.  Beauty is worth inconvenience.

When I am not sure what will happen.  When I am unable to predict events.  When I am not in control.   I have to be alert, aware and paying attention.  That’s how I notice the good.  I look for it.  So can you.  I am grateful for new blessings everyday and the awareness of their presence.  I am glad God is in charge.  His creativity is amaxing.

WORD OF THE YEAR

Feast or famine.  You’ve heard the phrase.  My current area of too much or too little is ideas for this blog.  Some days (or middle of the nights) I have several topics I can’t wait to write about, others not so many.  Today I do have a couple ideas, but there is one I have been avoiding, STEWARDSHIP.

This is my “word of the year ” for 2015.  The purpose of this word (the same as it was for Health and Service in previous years) is to provide a focus and to guide my choices and decisions through this year.  The purpose is NOT to dictate or orchestrate my behavior:  no rules, timelines or regimes.  I discovered that when I have a goal, a change I want to make in my life, the goal often turns into a hammer I beat myself up with.  If I don’t accomplish it – I FAIL.  Not the best way to make changes or feel good about yourself.

Let’s get the thinking part finished so I can start living out what this means to me. Stewardship is defined as looking after, managing or caring for something.   I am responsible for all the blessings I have; to make sure they are maintained in the best condition possible and used for their best purposes.  I am a steward.

In some churches, when they talk about stewardship,  they include time, talents and treasures.  This is short and simple. These are my resources.  My job now is to decide what belongs in each category.  If I am doing well taking care of something I will maintain it.  If an area needs improving I will focus on improvement.  Here’s one example:  my body is a treasure (can’t do much without it)  so I must protect my health.

Your turn!  What are you a steward of?  How are you doing? Where could you improve?    Ill let you know what I come up with.

 

Here I am, two weeks and six posts into writing a blog.  Pretty amazing after ruminating about the idea of a blog for two years I am actually doing it.  The unknowns scared me off each time I considered it:  what to write, how often ,what focus, who would read it?  Even when I could get past these obstacles the monster still loomed – TECHNOLOGY.  Stalled by fear, my interest would recede and I would focus on other projects less threatening to my ego.  Less challenging.  Easier.

Three months ago I took a challenge to write an article every day for thirty days.  In what would become the “last recycling” of the blog dream, it was time to just do it. The fears were still alive and well.  The computer still terrified me. The difference this time was that my need to write,and the encouragement of a friend, tipped the balance.  I set the date of January 1,2015 and as they say the rest is history.   Thanks Traci.

Not knowing how to do a task, not feeling confident and having no guarantees  lures us into staying where we are.  Safety is in doing what we already know.  Jumping out of our comfort zone  pushes us to learn, which pushes us to grow, which pushes our confidence.  Risk opens the way to a fuller life.  Take a risk everyday.  Try a new food.  Walk a new path. Say hello to someone you don’t know.  Dream.  Eventually the dream may just become a reality like this blog.

ENOUGH

In any new endeavor there are “unintended outcomes”.  No matter how well a project is researched, planned and organized unforeseen issues arise.  Writing a blog is not exempt from these “pop-ups”. like the “pop-ups” on a computer it’s not always certain where they come from, it’s not always certain what to do with them but it’s usually pretty certain you want them to go away.

The unintended outcomes I am experiencing writing this blog are not technical, those I expected.  These are personal.  They are feelings, thoughts and insights that shake my confidence and comfort.  So, for today, I’m sharing three pieces of encouragement to remind all of us we are enough.

Daily Affirmations by Stuart Smalley, SNL: You are good enough. you are smart enough, and doggone it, people like you.

Abilene, The Help (book and movie) : You is kind, You is smart, You is important.

Psalm 139:14, The Bible :  I am fearfully and wonderfully made

Now say out loud  I AM GOOD ENOUGH!  Repeat as needed.

PASSION

Today. I am exposing some of my less than stellar traits.  Don’t judge me please. Remember that no one is perfect.

Yesterday I did not blog because I finally undecorated my house from Christmas.  I had taken the outside lights down on New Year’s day so the neighbors didn’t think I was going to leave them up all year.  The inside stuff didn’t bother me. and no one was coming over, so I took a few extra days of vacation.  Now you know I can procrastinate. You might also infer that I don’t like to clean house  You are correct,

The second secret  I‘m revealing is that I LOVE fast food.  I am only admitting this because what I want to write about today I found on a packet of hot sauce from Taco Bell.  Inspiration is all around us!.  The phrase on the packer read “do it with passion or not at all”.  I must admit that my first reaction to the word “passion” had to do with lust.  Once I moved away from that train of thought, I saw passion  as a gift of character that expresses itself in energy, creativity, focus, perseverance and joy.  The focus could be anything:  art, parenting, politics, service, making money, being healthy, religion.  Passionate people discover something they love, work hard at making it their life’s work and are fulfilled in that process.

I think of Mother Teresa serving the poor in India, Bill Gates developing computers and then  becoming a philanthropist, Billy Graham preaching about salvation, YoYo Ma playing his cello.  These are all famous people whose gift has led to fame.  I can also think of ordinary people, in my life, who are focused and making a difference in their world.

Who do you picture when you think of a passionate person?  Have you found your passion?  What is it?  I am disappointed when I ask myself these questions. While I like to think of myself as passionate about several issues, my behavior doesn’t portray that energy.  If I were to ask family or friends what they believe I am focused and excited about I wonder what they would say?  I’m a little afraid to ask.

S0, what are the implications when a person has a gift, a talent or a skill and doesn’t use it?  Since my word for this year is “Stewardship” I need to pay attention to that question.

    

MY WORD

TheI still make New Years Resolutions, sort of.  I began in my mid-teens when I realized I was not as pretty, bright, popular etc. as some of the other girls.  I saw the new year as a clean slate, as a new beginning-HOPE!  We all need hope don’t we?  The process worked for a few years as I imagined (key word) I could change myself and therefore my environment.

Eventually I recognized a pattern had developed.  Every year my goals were about the same four areas:  me physically, finances, organization and relationships.  You probably have some areas that recur on your “Things I’d like to change” list too.

Then, for a period in my late twenties/early thirties I didn’t even think about resolutions.  Life was difficult and making it through each day successfully was a feat.  A lot in life needed changing but not the kind of changes I could make.

It was during these years that a spiritual part of me began to develop.  I learned the “Serenity Prayer” which says;

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,    the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  Knowing the difference is the critical element.  Do you see it?  IT’S YOU!  The only thing we can change is ourselves..

About six years ago I began to use an approach to setting goals I loosely call “the one word” method.  The first three years the word was HEALTH  (I was pretty much of a mess when I moved to North Carolina).  Then the word SERVICE was added so I focused on restoring my health so I could serve in some capacity and have a purpose.  For the last two and a half years it has been GRATITUDE.  This year is it STEWARDSHIP.

The neat thing about the one word approach is that every aspect of my life fits, in some way, within the larger concept. If you pay attention, look for clues, listen to your heart, you just might find the word for your new year.  Let me know if you do.  I’d love to hear about it.

 

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