Monday, May 14, 2018

Super Heat Waves

Once upon a time, I was sitting on the couch nearly dying of heat stroke.
It was March. 
We just had snow. 
And the rest of my family was shivering and under heavy quilts.
I, however, could've stripped down to my undies and sat on a block of ice, and I still would've been hot.
"Hey! Who turned up the heat?" I yelled to the quivering pile of blankets. Their only response is chattering teeth.

Humph.

I checked the thermostat to make sure someone didn't pull an 'I just moved it a couple of clicks' stunt, but it wasn't touched. Apparently, my hormones were raging again.

But I'd had a hysterectomy. There are no more hormones...right?

A word to the wise; hysterectomies don't stop menopausal heat waves!



Apparently estrogen is stored in the fat cells, to which I have a plethora. I'm just a big hormone bank that's been saving the stuff with each pound I'd gained, which is no small feat! And guess what happens when you start losing some of that poundage? No wonder the doc told me I wouldn't need supplements probably ever!

For the past few weeks my internal oven has been set to volcanic. It used to be a humid, clammy, ogre's armpit kind of heat, one that will melt metal chairs into puddles of aluminum and sweat. But since the surgery, it's been more of a dry, Arizonian desert kind of heat.

And my husband loves it. You know, the guy with the ice-cold everything adhered to as much of my person as possible so he stays warm at night. It's hard to sleep when you're nearly being strangled by the one you love.

Even my friends are wowed by the intense heat emanating from every pore of my being. They hold their hands out over my arm, expressions of disbelief turning to one of incredulity as they warm themselves by their buddy, The Organic Radiator. Hey- maybe I'm a superhero!

Save us Radiator! We're freezing! And with a wave of my arms, the house is now as balmy as Hawaii.

Then again, I could be a super villain. Maybe I'm the reason behind global warming!*GASP*

My villain name would be Solar Flare...give me chocolate- or else! The dark kind please, because the milk chocolate melts too fast in my hand- even those M&Ms would make a chocolaty rainbow in my palm- nothing is safe! Do this or I'll...um...melt your ice cream! 

Noooo!Anything but that!

I'd wear a cape, but that would be too many layers...I might go nuclear.

In the meantime my family will be spending the summer months grilling on my arms and toasting marshmallows over my head. We'll save so much on charcoal and wood this year!

Or maybe I'll hire myself out as a pool heater when the water's too cold. I like swimming!

The Organic Radiator to the rescue!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Rusty Gate Wisdom

God is amazing.

Have you ever been super busy? Like, crazy, off-the-hook busy> So busy that you heard yourself say (one too many times):
"I can't right now."
"Sorry, I don't have time.."
"Let me finish this other thing first..."

Yeah- me too.

Then God decided He'd had enough, and bestowed a boatload of wisdom on me that made my mind whirl.
I was busy, but not productive.
Relationships matter.
Being so busy made me miss chances to bless others.

I was busy doing 'things' instead of working on relationships.

But this week God decided to let a little light shine in through the tiny cracks in my thick head.

God is love. There is a verse that blew me away that went something like "You can make God's lessons as clear as day, but without love, your words are like the creaking of a rusty gate..." I never really understood what He meant by that. I always thought it meant you needed to speak with passion.



Passion is good, but relationship is better.

People listen more when they know you, love you, and trust you. In other words, your words have meaning when the person you're speaking with has a relationship with you!

God takes delight when I spend time with my family.
God loves it when I laugh and goof off with my friends when I need a break.
God is joyful when I open my house up to anyone who wants to come on Sundays after church.

I'm not saying forget responsibilities and goof off constantly- but there is a time to play and rest; I think all of us forget to have fun or just spend quiet time together with each other.

I may not get the laundry done when my daughter is sick, but she will remember the times I sat with her poor fevered head in my lap as I sang her to sleep. The same goes for putting off emails to play cards with my son, or a quiet evening at home reading books on the couch with my husband. These are the things my family will remember- not the fact that I always had clean socks waiting for them!

Yes it takes sacrifice and a big heart to forgo 'getting stuff done' to do these things sometimes. But the payoff is so much more rewarding when we do! Like the saying goes, "I have a messy house, but a happy family"- and what would make God happier than that?

Hug your kids, Kiss your husband extra awesome before he goes to work. Call your friend for a quick chat. Build those relationships and help make them strong. And don't forget to talk to God too- He's waiting to hear from you!


Saturday, April 7, 2018

Back to the Waves

As a child, my parents took me to the beach. It was my favorite place, and I loved playing in the ocean. Sometimes I would put my back to the waves and close my eyes tight, daring the waves to do what they will. 
The sounds of rushing water would always send my heart racing, wondering if the wave would tickle my ankles, or crash against me and knock me over. It really didn't matter which; both were unexpected and delightful!



God's blessings are much like the waves of the ocean.

When I stop looking for blessings and turn my back on the waves, I get so much more out of blessing when they happen. Big or small, it doesn't matter. If I can see the waves coming I don't react as strong. I might brace myself for the bigger waves, but it isn't as much fun.

And honestly, we all need to have a little more fun! I think God is immensely pleased when He sees us enjoying His blessings.

I have no idea when the blessings will come, or what size blessing will come first. I have no idea how strong it will hit me- will I be gently blessed or will the blessing knock me for a loop? There's a thrill in not knowing when or how God will bless you when you stop looking- and when the wave comes, your gratefulness and appreciation are tenfold because it's unexpected.

And much more joyful!

Will you come play in the waves with me?


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Icing Lifestyle

It's all over the internet:

Start Your Own Business and Become a Millionaire!
Be an Entrepreneur!
Be Your Own Boss and Make Millions!

Tons of people selling tons of programs- some good, some not so good. But the premise is the same. The ultimate goal is to become a millionaire. 

I jumped on this particular bandwagon with both feet. Of course I wanted to be a millionaire! They are self sufficient, can go on vacations- heck, most of their year is a vacation! Work less, make more...no, make tons more! Being a millionaire is the end-all, be-all everyone should strive for to be happy.

Or is it?

At first, that's what I believed had to happen in order to have a happy life. Happiness for me was finally getting to go on a real vacation, where money was no object, and we could eat out every day for every meal, we could go where we wanted without having to worry if the vehicle we drove would make it, or have to make a budget for gas. And when we came home, I could swim in the backyard pool while someone else would clean my house.

The Icing Lifestyle. 

It sounds great, doesn't it? But if you read that paragraph again, you'll notice something missing. Something big. There's no Godly purpose. This dream goal isn't a lifestyle, it's a prison of self-induced greed.

There's no cake. It's all icing.



There's nothing wrong with wanting to do all of these things, but if this is all you want out of life, that's a problem. And to be honest, this used to be my goal! I don't thinkI'd make a good millionaire. I'd be to prone to get lost in being spoiled and pampered, and not think much about helping others.

Oh, at first I thought 'When I become a millionaire, I can help people out of the same ruts I'm in. I can help a lot of people!' Let's be honest here- some people are worse off when handed a wadful of cash. Cash isn't the answer to everything.

Wow. 

Money isn't everything. 

Well, dip me in butter and call me a biscuit, this was a new concept for me!

I have three online gurus I listen to. One is a millionaire, one might be a millionaire (but doesn't state if she is or not), and one is more of a thousandaire or six-figureaire. And they all agree on one thing- you need to have purpose to live a happy life.

The money is the icing on the cake- not the cake itself. The cake is your Godly purpose. The icing is the blessings that come with the cake.

Have you ever had cake with too much icing? The first taste might be good, but after a while you don't want to finish it- it's just too sweet. Either that or you get a sugar rush the size of a small state, and wind up crashing in the middle of the birthday party!
But a cake that has the right amount of frosting not only tastes better, but lasts longer because you can enjoy it more. You can savor it. And when you're done, you feel satisfied.

It took a lot of prayer and looking deep within myself to realize I don't want to be a millionaire. I'd be perfectly content being a six-figureaire, and not a high six-figureaire at that. After talking with my husband, we both realized we'd be content with less than a third (or even a quarter) of a millionaires salary, so that's our new goal. Enough so we can do all the things we've been dreaming about, but also allows us to remain financially humble and help others wisely. 

Maybe you could handle more icing on your cake, maybe you'd be content with less. Just remember to make the cake the best it can be first, and God will bless you with all the icing you need!


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Limits Equal...Freedom?!?

I know- that sounds weird, right? How can limiting anything equal freedom? 

Well, if you limit your food intake, you're freed up from all that extra weight...
If you limit your time underwater, you won't drown...
And if you limit your work, you have more time to recoup and recharge.

Limits are starting to sound really good, aren't they?

I still have yet to do the first, I do the second one only when swimming, and the third? The third is what I've been focusing most of my attention on lately.

Lent allows me (since it's still going on until the 25th), to limit myself. I refrained from having a screen in my face for most of my day. Doing so lead to another limit- this one concerning time. I had to find a balance between work and relaxation that would make me a vegetable or a workaholic. 

Last week I had a plethora of time, but the total time spent wasn't blessing my family. Writing is my passion, but when I was honest with myself, not a full-time job- not yet. The two airport driving jobs I do weren't bringing in enough regular work, so I decided to take the plunge and drive for Uber.

At first it was great. Then I began tipping those scales into all-work-and-no-play mode. I had to limit my time so I could be a better blessing for my family at home. Money isn't everything, though I admit, it truly used to be for me!

By limiting myself, I found I had more freedom. I worked when the family didn't need me. I'm home when they do (for the most part- they've learned that me not being there 24/7 is okay too.) When I was home I was productive and even made time to play games with the kids. Yes- even teenagers (especially teenagers!) need some fun mom-and-dad time! 



Have you ever noticed when you have a lot of home time you don't feel like doing much else once the chores are done? Or working all the time makes work really boring and tedious? If you limit your time with both, the blessings are incredible!

If you're finding yourself tired or bored with life, see where your time is being spent. Find the places that might need limits to be more productive. I never realized that I could get more done in a limited time frame until I only had 'this much time' to get it done! 
If you have hours and the tasks takes an hour, you have all day to get it done. But if you limit yourself, things get revved up and you now have more of a reason to finish in the time allotted- freeing you up for the rest of the day!

Look at your day. Find places to limit yourself. Then get out there and be a blessing- and blessed!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Lent Life Lessons Part Deux- Slips and Stumbles

Two weeks into Lent...not sure if it's gone so fast or not fast enough!

Two weeks of no PC games and no Netflix. No TV at all, really- not even Youtube, unless it was educational, or something a family member was watching. I relinquished all control of the remote.

My family loved it. Apparently I'm a remote hog.

Ten days in was my first true stumble- I didn't even realize I'd done it until I'd clicked onto another video...and another. It started innocently enough- there was a post on Facebook that was interesting, and I played it. (And yes, it was educational!) but then, that sinister sneak of a sidebar had something that was tied to the video I just watched, so I clicked. Next thing you know, I'm watching clips from Jimmy Fallon.

I love Jimmy Fallon. He is such a kid at heart! But what I was watching was definitely within the No-No Zone for my Lent Media Fast.


Oops.

I barely lasted ten days!

I could have beaten myself up over it, but to be honest, I now find myself getting annoyed when I do. Mistakes happen- I fell back into a bad habit without realizing it, so it wasn't as if I twirled my handlebar mustache and said 'Yes! YES! I shall now intentionally do this bad deed and break my Lent commitment! MWAHAHAHAA!!'  

That was a metaphorical handlebar mustache, by the way. I hope not to have a real one for several years yet. But the metaphor is still valid.

So back on the Clydesdale I went, making sure this time I would behave myself. 

But I slipped again! Just an hour later!

Frustrated, I wound up turning the computer off after that and looked for something better to do- like wrestle greased alligators naked. At least then I wouldn't be able to click on any stupid distracting links!

Lucky for me I didn't need to go naked alligator wrestling. I had an entire house to declutter. I did that for most of the day until I had to make dinner- another great thing to do to keep from being distracted- and it blesses my family!

The rest of the week went well, and I learned a lot more from my gurus, including scheduling time for fun and rest as well as the busy must-get-done stuff. I'm even working on a calendar for the week, month, and year so I can plan fun things way ahead of time (like Creation, which always seems to creep up on us and we never have the money to go!) as well as bigger projects (like the cooking videos) and goals (like getting debt free ASAP). 
This scheduling project alone should take me a few days to a week to properly implement, but once I get the initial balls rolling, it will get easier and easier. My main goal is to have a plan in place by the end of Lent so I don't have time to binge-watch shows anymore- unless I plan them!

Fourteen days down, twenty-six to go. Twenty-six days to get my schedule and my Schmidt together. My muse has awakened from her coma, and pesters me with ideas all the time again. Frankly, I thought she was dead. I hadn't had a fast flow of ideas this much in ages, and it makes me excited for the future once more. 

I'm so glad I did this challenge for Lent!

Lessons Learned:

I'm a much happier person when I'm productive.
I'm a less happier person if that's all I do the entire day.
Fun times must be scheduled as much as work time- otherwise it might never be scheduled!
I found that when I'm busy I eat less and eat better- especially if I purposely heat up healthy dinner leftovers for lunch the next day.
Scheduling exercise is a must as well- and something I need to work on...badly.
I sleep like a brick at night after a productive and fun day- better sleep than after a completely productive one!

How are you doing with your challenges (if you made them)?

Monday, February 19, 2018

Lent Life Lessons

Lent started on Valentines Day this year. Weird. I only know that because someone said Lent fell on this goodie-indulgent day, and I know many people who usually swear off chocolate for Lent, aren't doing so this year!


This year I decided to give Lent a try. I don't normally do Lent. Ever. But this year I decided to see if I had the guts to give up something and stick with it.

And it had to be something big. Giving up small stuff wasn't going to cut it.

God and I have been at odds lately. I've found myself going to Netflix and PC games more and more, drowning myself in games and TV characters lives so I can forget the troubles in my own universe. Games let me attain goals. Attaining goals is good- though with games it's short-lived.
Very short-lived.
And once the Netflix show is over (or in my case, the entire dang series), there I am, back to my own life.
Back to life...back to reality... (I hear you humming it!)

I found myself unable to get out of the game/TV loop. Then along comes Lent. A chance to attain some real goals. But could I do forty days? That's a really long time!

I glanced at my messy writing desk, the piles of unfinished projects, the unread books, the cluttered craft table, and an email cache that could gag an elephant. Then I wondered if forty days was enough.

So I took the plunge. No Netflix. No PC games. I allowed myself games on my cell phone, but deleted the longer term ones and kept Solitaire and Flow Free. And the only entertaining screen watching I could do was if another family member was watching something on the big TV- which isn't often. Basically, when the family sits down to a show or movie, I can too- which is no more than twice a week, if that.

I woke up Valentines Day with an agenda.
I cleaned, straightened, and decluttered papers, and went through emails I've been meaning to read for almost a month. I barely made a dent in them. I also printed out recipes I'd been saving in my emails for months- which are now three hole punched and ready to go into my 'try these' recipe binders. Yes, binders. Plural. But that's a project for a different day.

I'll be honest here. I was sorely tempted to play some games when going through my emails. It was more out of habit than an actual desire, so I managed to squelch it quickly, but the want was still there.

By eight o'clock that night, I was nodding off. The day seemed to last forever!

Day two was interesting because after I was finished running errands, I was hoping the kids would want to watch something so I could watch too. My daughter was nice enough to offer to switch her choice of show (Transformers- anything Transformers!) to something I would be more inclined to watch- an animal program. We watched a single episode together before we both got back to chores.
I loved it, but part of me knew better that to sway my daughter's choice again- that was bending my own rule- a big No-No. So back to work we went.

I got through a few more emails- I'm involved with three guru type life coaches with free content, so most of these were newsletters or short videos of things I needed to watch. Not wanted to watch per se, but needed to watch in order to learn something. Learning videos are allowed because I'm not using them to escape.
I took a few more virtual comedy classes I'd paid for months ago, but never could 'find the time' to finish. I managed to read a little, but not as much as I should have.

My craft table was cleared off and sorted. I'd found half of a cookbook in the piles of crafting printouts- this half-book had the recipe for Pizzelles I'd been looking for since November! Lucky for me the other half (that was still downstairs where it should be) wasn't thrown out (though I almost did!) and the book is now whole once more. This was the only recipe I really liked for Pizzelles- I felt like I'd found buried treasure!

By the end of day two, I found myself nodding off again around eight o'clock. Why was I nodding off an hour before my actual bedtime?

Because I was active. 
More active than I was watching Netflix or playing PC games. My brain was more active too, because I was learning most of the day. I almost gave in to habit twice near the end of the day because I was tired and wanted to relax. So I forced myself to walk away from the computer, shut off the TV entirely (it's usually in sleep mode) and sit and read instead. I fell asleep- I mean checked my eyelids for light leaks- within a few minutes, then gave up and went to bed early.

I learned a lot about myself in just two days.

I learned:

I'm much more productive when not distracted.
I'm more physically active- I like to work a little upstairs and then go downstairs when things get tedious (and vice versa).
Emails don't seem as overwhelming, now that I see the numbers going down.
I see progress in decluttering my home and work spaces.
I feel more accomplished.
I also found myself sleeping more solidly than before.  A very nice side effect!

The rest of the week was interesting because the 'shiny' was beginning to wear off. What do I mean by that, you ask? It means I started something new, and the excitement was waning. Fast.

I began to realize that in taking out all of the 'fun stuff', I'd never added any non-screen fun stuff to replace it. It's draining to clean and work and learn all day long with no interlude to let the mind rest! It's also not good to find fun things to do, because forty days of nothing but work not only makes Jacqueline a dull girl, it makes her grumpy and not want to make it to the finish line.

I have to change things up if I wanted to keep things going!

So some of my reading material was switched out with books for purely entertainment purposes. I set aside some crafts to do once certain things were cleaned/cleared off in my sewing space (which also makes for good motivation to get the work done!)

I also programmed our entertainment system for different types of music to fit my changing moods- relaxing tones for reading or background noise, thumping, upbeat music when working, or silly songs when I'm doing something particularly hard or boring. And when it gets too much and I need some quiet time or prayer, it shuts off with the touch of a button.

I wish I could say everything is worked out or scheduled, but I can't, because life changes. I love having things all lined up in neat rows, but I know this is not the season for that- it's a chaotic season and I need to roll with the punches- and it's so much easier to roll when my eyes are focused on a PC game or Netflix!

Today is the sixth day. Just the sixth day. Six down (almost) and twenty-five to go. And I'm so glad you're here taking the walk with me in spirit! I appreciate you, my dear readers!

Are you walking down a similar path? Have you given up something for Lent- or just in general to see what happens or make a lifestyle change? Tell me about it in the comments!