Monday, December 31, 2012

ARC- Acts of Random Chaos

Every year I do a lot of preparations for Christmas. I usually have most of the shopping done by Thanksgiving (yes, I'm one of those people!), handmade gifts are almost finished and I begin a huge bake-a-thon the could probably feed a  third-world country.

Think I'm exaggerating? Last year I filled six five-gallon buckets with three kinds of cookies. At twenty to thirty dozen per bucket, that's one hundred and twenty dozen to one hundred and fifty dozen cookies! Oh, and I baked banana bread too, but I forgot how many at this point.

What did I do with all those cookies? I gave them as gifts- after taking a share off the top for my family of course!  Now that my son is a teenager, that share has gotten monumentally bigger in recent years!

I was hoping to do something similar this year, but because of the late move I won't be able to do any baking- at least until January! I just tell everyone I'll be a bit late- and no, I won't be making as many this year- or should I say next year!

Comparing this year to last, things have still managed to be at the same chaotic level that they always are, but the priorities have shifted- there is no baking binge- I'm rushing to unpack. There is no present wrapping day- the kids are getting one or two gifts each and not a treeful. Time and money are just a little too tight because of the move. We don't even have time to decorate the tree we have on the porch- and I'm surprised we even remembered to water the darned thing, no less decorate it!

I miss the chaos of cooling racks all over the table and counters. I miss the smells of baking cookies while the Christmas music played, the arguments of who got what cookie and how many, and why didn't I bake cut-outs, because then they could decorate the snowmen as reindeer-saving, Star Wars Jedi Knight Commanders and sparkly, sugar coated Snow-Fairies.

Then there was the traditional Christmas Open House we would host, complete with homemade cheese and cracker trays, little finger quiches, vegetable trays, and other assorted goodies that almost made the kitchen table buckle. We still have the fifteen kinds of cocoa and assortment of thirty types of tea, but it's no fun unless you have twenty people wanting a drink at the same time!

But there is still time to plan my Acts of Random Chaos. We plan on having a house warming party sometime near the end of January. All that pent up baking and catering energy has got to go somewhere...right? Besides, I'm sure people will be suffering from Christmas withdrawals or the winter blahs, so I'll be helping them! Right?

Monday, December 17, 2012

Ditching the Emotional Junk Drawer

Since moving to a new house, I'm finding boxes filled with things I never knew I had- or wanted to have. All those doo-dads that fit into junk drawers all over the house, for no real reason except to have them 'just in case'.  In case of what? I seriously doubt any emergency situation is going to call for used birthday candles or those assorted screws I found five years ago!

I won't allow junk drawers in my new house. They have no purpose, and all they do is take up space. 

But wait a second- what kind of junk drawers do we have in our heads? All those stupid little thoughts that remind us of our failures, dumb things we did, and bad decisions we made throughout our lives. You know the ones- those thoughts that seem to come out of nowhere and sting nearly as much as the original event. 

Like the time I entered a Renaissance Faire Octoberfest contest and did so badly I won a prize for worst poem? I beat the guy who was half-drunk and ended all his poetry with 'And stuff.' I pride myself on spinning verse well, and even though that happened years ago, it still stings me to this day.

That's a junk drawer thought!

But how do you get rid of these thoughts? It depends on the thought itself. In my case, I plan on making it back to that contest and try again- even if I don't win, I faced one of my biggest fears. That's what matters!

Basically, if it's something I can change, I will. Forgiving someone who's really hard to forgive. Learning from mistakes. Letting go when you can't change something- this is a big one for me, because some things (like relationships, someone's cherished item I'd broken) just can't be mended, no matter how hard you try.

And when that thought comes back to haunt you, fling it back out into the trash. Tell it that it has no relevance anymore. You aren't like that now, you've left that behind- anything to turn that thought in the opposite direction- and out of your head.

These thoughts are like stray animals- keep feeding them and they'll never go away! Don't let these junk drawer thoughts stick around to clutter up your life. Fight those emotional battles! Challenge yourself! Change them from 'How could you have done that?' to 'I beat that!'

Declutter your mind, and stop tripping over your own thoughts!

Monday, December 10, 2012

New House, New Habits?

It's finally happened. We've moved!

The rental home we were in was a little bigger, but had a lousy floor plan. The only thing I'll miss about the old place is the storage space- it had cabinets everywhere, and a decent sized basement. Our new place is a little smaller (at least according to the paperwork we signed), but the floor plan is more open and brighter. It reminds me of a beach house, without the glass doors to the deck. And that's the way I like it!

After color coding my boxes and labeling the contents, the move itself went off without a hitch. Only three boxes were placed in the wrong areas! But oh, the stuff we've accumulated after living in the the old place after thirteen years! ('We' meaning me, by the way) And that was after I'd gotten rid of a ton of stuff! It was a sight to be seen.

Our kitchen is full of boxes. Full. As in 'barely can slide around all this stuff' full. Half of it is dry and canned goods, which had to go down the basement because there's no pantry. No worries- I plan on making one out of a closet. Either that or knock out the neighbors wall and use some of her space- I'm creative like that.

Mealtimes were an issue, because it's really hard to cook food in your bare hands. Luckily for me I'd made one-serving dishes within the two months before the move, so we had something to heat up for the past few days. Unfortunately, most of the meat-potato-and-veggie meals are gone, and all we have left is soup- at least four kinds.

It was like finding buried treasure when I found my frying pans! Yes, the box was marked, but they shoved it waaaaay in the back of the pile. Tonight will be grilled ham and cheese, to go with the soups. We will probably be having soup until Jesus comes at this point!

I was surprised at just how much stuff needs to be tweaked in a new house. Okay, new used, but new to us. I've also noticed a lot of stuff missing- like clothing poles in the closets, a missing shower curtain bar, and the fact that there are absolutely no cable wires anywhere. Not to mention the improvements we wanted to install, like cabinets, shelving and turning a closet into a small pantry.

I want a fold-up table with storage so I have a place to knead dough without pushing it into the bottom of the toaster on the counter. No one wants to knead dough on their counters anyway- it's hard to keep your buppies out of the way!

The kids have already unpacked their rooms. Of course they have clothes poles in their closets to do so. Mine will be done tonight, and I can finally get this ton of wearable fabrics off the foot of the bed. At this point, I feel like a hoarder!

I've adopted an attitude of 'If it Doesn't Fit, It Doesn't Stay'. The problem is I'm coming up with all kinds of ideas to store the stuff so it will stay. Like my sewing room.

The sewing room is even more stuffed than the kitchen. I probably won't have this space in order until January....2078. Instead of the mish-mosh of cabinets and dressers I used at the old place, I now have nothing to store the fabric. The dresser went to my son (who was the original owner until I nabbed it when it didn't fit into his attic room), and the cabinets were sold because they were just too darned big. Now I get to look at all the pretty things in the IKEA catalog and dream of a new-improved sewing space- like shorter dressers that will also serve as tables to lay out fabric!

Most of the pictures I had in the old place were so faded by the sun, we had to toss them. So I get to look for artwork too- or make some, when I get my sewing space in order. I already have ideas for home decor for around the windows and doors that just might be awesome enough to sell in the near future!

Until then, I make notes and unpack boxes. Lots of boxes.

Thank you God for your bounty! You brought us to this house and got us through a lot in the process of getting it. Thank you for a house that's warm all the time, for boxes filled with stuff that we need (for the most [part), and for friendly neighbors!

Monday, December 3, 2012

The Wisdom of Words

I love words. They can express all kinds of emotions and degrees of emotion. I love playing with words and using them in a way to both entertain and educate. Words can be used to make people laugh or cry in a good way.

They can also be used foolishly and stupidly. This is especially true of those who do not possess the ability to refrain their fingertips upon yonder keyboard when making certain statements. Like the one I saw today.

I have a few children on Facebook who are both relatives and the children of friends. That makes me very careful about what I post, because little rabbits have big ears- even if those ears are fourteen years old.

There was a post made by one of these kids, asking for suggestions for how he could bring in extra funds for his family. I was so proud of this young man, for this was not a plea for his own gain, but to better his struggling family. Everyone had made some great suggestions, and I had suggested maybe he start his own business. I wouldn't have suggested it if I didn't think he was capable. But the post below mine had shocked me:

Someone had posted, 'You could sell coke.'- and he didn't mean the soda.

I had to read it several times to believe it. I thought is was a snarky friend of his, but here it was an adult relative. Really? An adult put that as his response? I called his mom to give her a heads up. Apparently this relative thinks comments like that are funny, and it was dismissed as foolishness. But I had to many other kids would have been influenced by this post? How many other kids reading his reply might be influenced? Especially if they took it seriously, not knowing this guy was a butt-head. (the mom's words, not mine- though I couldn't agree more!)

Facebook has an age restriction of fourteen, but we all know there are kids a lot younger than that that have their own pages. And if you have children as part of your friends list, please, please be careful what you say. You never know when a joke will be taken seriously by a child.

I will not apologize for getting all mama-bear and watching out for posts like that. If you are my friend and I see your kids doing or seeing something that's inappropriate, I will let you know about it. And I expect the same from you- that's just how I'm wired. That doesn't mean I'll tell you how to deal with it- but I'll make sure you're aware of a potential situation.

We all know there are butt-heads online, and yes, even in our families (sometimes more than one!), so take care and watch over your children and make sure their influences are good ones. And don't forget, there is a reason Facebook has an 'Unfriend' button!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Dread vs. Tread

Have you ever put off something because you just knew it was going to be hard, boring, tedious, or all of the above? Even if putting it off makes that task even more difficult, boring or tedious? That's dread for you- a nasty little emotion that makes us panic for no reason- most of the time. And the times it does warrant a little distress, it's never the big hullabaloo we thought it was going to be!

Like doing dishes. or cleaning the oven. Or packing up a house. Not that I speak for myself, of course. I never dread or panic. That's my evil twin, Elizaboob who does that. Actually, she would make a good scapegoat for my next example. Let's call our ladies Elizaboob and Elizadidit. (think Highlights magazine here folks!)

Let's say Something comes up. It doesn't matter what that Something is, but it's Something that needs to be tended to within the next few days. Just enough time to dread doing it. How do these ladies handle it?

Day One:
Elizaboob would start off with a non-nonchalance bordering on laziness. 'I have plenty of time to do this' she tells herself, and feel relieved that she doesn't have to think about it until tomorrow.

Elizadidit sighs, puts on some good music, and gets it over with. Afterwards she realizes it wasn't nearly as bad as she thought, and has time to relax before everyone gets home.

Day Two:
Elizaboob wonders how she will get Something done, and needs to plan so things stay interesting. She makes lists, charts and even Googles information about Something so she's ready when the time comes. She winds up going to bed late because she had to finish re-writing the checklist for the seventh time.

Elizadidit was done yesterday and has time to spend doing other things, dread-free.

Day Three- Deadline:
Elizaboob has three hours to get Something done, and all her plans fly merrily out the window when Disaster Strikes, usually involving the kids. Now she is trying to do everything at once, missing the deadline by an hour, and the Something looks like it was thrown together by rabid guinea pigs. She is stressed, worn out, and bedraggled, regretting ever putting the darn thing off in the first place.

Elizadidit is sitting on her porch with a glass of iced tea and some homemade cookies fresh out of the oven because she made her deadline two days ago. She'd help Elizaboob, but they are opposite aspects of the same person, so her existential hands are tied. She eats her cookies and drinks her tea, so glad she wasn't dealing with Elizaboob's dread.

Maybe you're Elizaboob. Maybe you're Elizadidit. And maybe you're a little bit of both, like me. I just hope that we all see that dread isn't the answer- action is. The more we dread it, the faster and harder we should work to get it done, and get it done right. All I know is I'd rather be the chick with tea and cookies than the one who needs therapy!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Make Your Own Music!

Do you remember the saying 'He follows the beat of a different drum'? So why do we as individuals keep playing to other people's music instead of making our own? Especially when it comes to everyday living!

I can't tell you how many organizational gurus I've listened to, bought products from, and read. All I can tell you is their system, though it sounded good and seemed easy, just didn't fit my life the way it should have. There were some good ideas, and some I could implement into my time and energy levels, but as a whole the plan was a complete failure.

And when it didn't work, I felt like a complete failure!

I was like a classical pianist trying to play Billy Joel. I might get a few of the chords right, but the tempo and inflection of the notes I was playing were horrible! I was trying to write music for my life to someone else's sheet music. It just wasn't going to work!

Then that little light bulb went off in my head- why am I trying to fit this person's lifestyle into my own? Why am I trying to put a square peg into a circular hole? And do I have to carve my life to fit this particular style of organization?

I tried this also, and all it did was make things worse.

The problem was  that I should have been carving the mold itself. I need to be carving an organizational plan that fits me, not the other way around!

And I bet you feel the same way.

So how do we go about doing this? By listening to other people's music and picking out what works for us. There is nothing wrong with borrowing ideas to make your own plan! Plan number one might have a note or two that works for you, so borrow it. Write it down. Then do that with all the other plans you have stashed away on your bookshelf, computer, or wherever you keep your organizational stuff. Mine is in a neat pile on my desk- the only neat pile on my desk.

Now, take a look at your finished list. do the notes work together? Can you tweak this or that to make it work better? It might take a little time, but once you have your own personal plan in place, try implementing it to see if it works. Whatever does, keep, and whatever doesn't, toss. Pretty soon part of your organizing tasks will be to donate all those books and delete all those files.

Make your own music. Be your own guru. And dance to the drumbeat that only you can hear.

Just don't post it on Youtube!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Young at Heart, Old in Body

Let's get this straight. I. Am. Not. Old. Just because I ache from neck to knee from going food shopping, doesn't mean I have one foot in the grave. But it doesn't mean I can run a marathon either.

If I was fit it would be another matter, but I'm neither fit, nor a spring chicken. I just tell my kids to stop the the old lady jokes and pass me my darn teeth- because I forgot where I put them.

This is what I tell my children:

I am not old- my joints just need oiling. All those popping noises you hear when I stand up are just figments of your imagination- probably from having those nasty little ear bud thingies in your ears for too long.

I am Not old. So what if I have a few teeth missing and bad gums? That's because I didn't listen to my mom when I was little, and now it's payback time. Do you want teeth like mine? Then keep forgetting to brush your teeth like I did. This is the perfect time to prove to me that you are so not me. Be a rebel and brush, dagnabbit!

I am NOT old. I'm not even youth impaired. I am youth intolerant. Especially when  it comes to your music. Who sings that stuff anyway? Rabid weasels? And who writes the lyrics? Someone with absolutely no decent morals? Maybe you should go to your room and read your Bible until I find you someone nice to go out with who doesn't text when I'm talking to them.

I. Am. Not. Old. I am not slow, I am tired- I just unloaded the car of groceries to keep you metabolic super-brings from perishing of hunger. I'll make dinner after I take a nap. Go do your homework.

I am not old. I am well-seasoned. I am fine wine. (I was going to say well-aged cheese, but that stuff smells and gets moldy as it ages.) I am real chocolate covered cherries (the kind with the clear yummy stuff inside of it, not those cheapo knockoffs). It takes a good amount of time to become this wonderful.

Inside I am twenty-two. Outside, I am....not. If the mind truly did rule the body, my innards and outards would match, but they don't. They're not even close. But I am young at heart, and that will keep me alive longer than if I was an old curmudgeon who didn't smile at the irony she faces in the mirror each day.

So I'm not as young as I used to be. It's better than not getting any older...right? Sometimes it's nice to take a nap once in a bit. I think everyone should take one at least a few times a week- it might make the world a happier place. As for the noisy popping- I think I'll record it as a rap beat and make an album...oh wait, they don't make those anymore. Soundtrack? No. There's no record button on the computer, so now what? Bah! Maybe I'll just ask my daughter after she gets home- and I get my nap!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Truth Vs. Lies- What Words Do We Feed Ourselves?

I saw a post on one of my favorite Facebook sites that asked 'What words do we feed ourselves- truth or lies?' And I had me one of those WOW moments!

We've all heard the old saying 'You are what you eat', but do we really pay attention to what goes into our mouths? Speaking from experience (and taking a good long look in the mirror), I know I certainly don't give a flying fig what I eat, as long as it's tasty. (figs? Fig newtons...Mmmmm..)

Sorry about that. Back to the blog.

How much attention do we pay to what we tell our minds and hearts?

Let's dig deeper here- I know I can be quite negative about myself. I look at my body and joke about not just having buns, but an entire bakery going on around my butt and belly, and secretly tell myself that I'm getting older, and it will be harder and harder to lose weight. I don't have the guts to get thin. I don't have the drive. And I certainly don't have the time to waist- er..waste to get in shape. Besides, I'm in good shape- round is a very good shape...right?

The undercurrent of all those self-inflicted jokes tells a different story. You can't do it. You will never do it. Don't even bother- the second you'll do, you'll fail. Then I go find something comforting to eat and try to forget. I've lied to myself enough that  start to I believe the lies.

But what if I told myself a few truths? What if I told myself I don't need that second helping? That I could make that first mile in under twenty minutes? Under fifteen? (at least after I hit twenty minute mark first!) After a while, wouldn't I begin to believe those?

Yes, but only if I work at it until my positive self-talk becomes a habit.

We need to get into the habit that we can do things, that things will work out, and that you can succeed. You can have all the support in the world, but it you don't believe it yourself, you might as well be alone, standing in a room all by yourself. 

Does it matter what you want to do? Nope. It can be a diet, or a business, or a new career- and yes, even motherhood! Tell yourself you can do it and that nothing will stop you, and you'll begin to live it.

Look in the mirror each morning, and say something positive that you can do. Do it in the middle of the day. Every time you pass a mirror (or any reflective surface), tell yourself that you are fantastic and you can do what you need to do to get the job done. Or lose that weight. Or whatever. Even if you feel silly at first, keep doing it to stay on track. Or close your eyes and say it in your mind. Do it enough that you start to believe it!

And squash all those negative words you feed yourself!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Those Deep Breath Moments

Sometimes life is too hectic for us to slow down. Being a parent, spouse, child of an aging parent and keeper of the home or workplace, we tend to forget the during this race that we call life, we need to breathe. Not just the huffing and puffing needed for the run, but also that deep refreshing breath between races. We need those more than you think!

It was during one of these hectic times that I just stopped, sat down and really took time to breathe. Not in the physical sense (though we still need to do that because staying alive is a good thing), but in the sense of really paying attention to my surroundings and appreciating what I saw. Like the other day.

I sat outside next to my weed-rampant yard that sported a butterfly bush I had planted two years ago. Instead of focusing on the unmown lawn, I took a deep breath, and began to see the busyness of the local insects and fauna.

Bumblebees buzzed lazily about the flowers, and I was close enough to see just how fuzzy they were. It helped that they were a little torpid from the cool morning, which made me smile at their clumsiness. Clumsy bees don't sting.

A flock of starlings decided I wasn't a threat and began making all kinds of racket in a nearby holly berry bush. Then I saw the flick of a branch, then the squirrel that made it, as well as his mate, playing among the branches that haven't lost their leaves yet. Then I noticed how blue the sky was, the air cool and crisp as I took it in with one slowly drawn breath.

All this took place in less than five minutes, yet it was like I had taken a power nap. What would the world be like if everyone did this, a few times a day? Take a moment or three today during your race for one of those Deep Breath moments and appreciate what God has done around you. Even if there's no nature, you can still appreciate what you see but usually miss in your everyday doings.

True peace starts with a deep breath. It manifests after we thank God for showing us the things we've missed!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Gifts Versus Skills

So what is the difference between a gift and a skill anyway?

I'm a writer. That's my skill, not my gift. I had to work on my writing skills. It doesn't come natural to me, though I love writing! My gift is cadence. I can mimic any poetic style and have an 'ear' for the written word. When something is out of cadence, it rubs me raw and I must fix it- it's a moral imperative. Cadence is a gift that I use it to enhance my writing skills.

A gift is something that comes as naturally to you as breathing. You can't not use it. For me, cadence affects every part of my life, especially when I listen to music.

A skill is something you like doing or have a knack for, but it's something you have to study and practice to make better. Gifts are the batteries, Skills are the machines. You can run a machine without batteries, but it runs better with them. Try to ride a motocycle by just using your legs and you'll see where I'm going with this. Gifts lend power to the skills.

Take a good long look at what you like to do versus what you tend to do naturally. You might be surprised!

(this post was inspired by the writer Jeff Goins' post on his blog, Jeff Goins, Writer)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Ask and Ye Shall Receive(r)!

Even though we know what to do, we're so used to not doing whatever it is, we just don't think to actually do it when the time comes. Confused? Allow me to explain.

When I call a company with a problem, I hate getting computers that answer the phone. I hate the requests to push this option, speak that option, and still don't get my answer. Today was no different, except I was short on time and temper, and had enough of playing verbal ping-pong with a computer.

When the last option sent me right back to the beginning menu, I held my cell phone before me and yelled "I need a human!"

I intended to hang up right there. But then I heard the computer say "You would like to speak with a representative- is this correct?" I was somewhere between laughing and being flabbergasted. "Yes!" I exclaimed into my cell phone, still wondering if this was really happening. "Please hold..." was the reply, and darned if that computer didn't get me a real human being!

Even the people I got on the line (yes, even the humans felt the need to transfer me to other departments) laughed when I told them my story- and my issues were dealt with...eventually.

I hung up the phone (okay, it's a cell- I folded it) and wondered why I just didn't ask for a human in the first place. Why did I play button tag with the computer for over five minutes? Simply because I didn't think to ask until I was really, really frustrated.

It doesn't always work that way- sometimes you have to push '0' (a good tip for those that are not in the know), but the point is I only got through because I tried.

Then I began to wonder what God thought about all this. There He is, waiting for us to call Him, and all we have to do is ask and stop playing with the stupid buttons!

I'd have saved myself a lot of grief had I thought to call out "I need a human!" in the first place, instead of jumping through digital hoops.  The same goes for God. Stop trying to find the right buttons and just call out "I need God!" Believe me, He'll answer!

Remember these tips the next time you need someone (or Someone)- before you get frustrated!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Box Thoughts- Inside and Out

I saw a post the other day that said "Everyone tells me to think 'outside the box'- What's so wrong about thinking inside the box?" I posted something funny (as I usually do), but that comment got me thinking- what is so wrong about thinking inside the box?

Absolutely nothing!

Speaking as a mom with an Asperger son as well as being a creative thinker in my own right, I am quite familiar with 'outside the box' thinking. However, my husband is a well-grounded person, and tends to think more 'inside the box' than out. We make a well-balanced pair. He keeps me grounded, while I help him think creatively. Basically, we need both types in this world to have a good balance!

Imagine the inside thinkers as strings tied to solid ground. Imagine the outside thinkers as kites. A kite without a string just meanders around and sometimes crashes because there's nothing to guide it when the wind blows. A string without a kite just lays there unmoving, stagnant unless something comes along to motivate it. Together it's a good working relationship; the kite is grounded but can fly better, and the string helps control the flight. This is beneficial in any relationship including work, friendships, and family. Both thinkers need the other to become better.

Are you an inside the box thinker, or an outside the box thinker? Is there someone you get along with that thinks differently than you do? Try brainstorming with that person and see what great things you come up with!

Monday, September 17, 2012

He's Not Broken- Just Dented

If my husband were a car, he would be dented, not broken. The body is a bit shot, with a lot of dings in it, but the engine is still going strong. He can take in fuel, the exhaust system works, and so does the horn. All the rest is just surface damage.

People expected me to be devastated. I expected me to be devastated! I over-react to everything, so why would something major like this accident be any different? After all, this a lot worse than the small stuff...right?

The only answer could be God. He was keeping me sane and serene through it all. Yes, I did cry. Yes, I did worry if my husband was all right. But it wasn't the same anymore- it was like God came along and put His hand on my shoulder and said 'I got this.' The rest was easy.

Recovery is faster than expected, but slow when it  comes to the release date from the hospital. We have a lot to do- he needs to be busy healing, while I am taking care of the house and kids, managing visits and packing the house to move- we are moving at the end of October. I think his job is harder.

And if you've been reading this blog, you know I would have cracked by now. I'd probably be in a corner nursing on a chocolate and cream ring-ding and be humming show-tunes. But God had other plans. He hid my ring-dings and gave me the strength to move forward. 

I can't help but smile when I see my husband. He is alive and well (if dented), and in very good spirits. And when the docs are done fussing over him, he's coming back to me. That's all that matters.

God might have to give me a little more strength when he gets home because I'll probably have to hold my husband down just to keep him from trying to go back to work!

Yes, he's a nut, but he's my nut- cracked as he is.

We're not out of the woods yet, but I can see daylight. And it gets brighter every day. God is indeed good!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

When Superman Cannot Fly

It's hard to think of our heroes getting hurt. They are our protectors, our support, and help us through the bad times. But yesterday my hero fell from the sky.

My husband works with a chemical called caustic soda. The mixture reacted and splattered over his body. He now lies in a hospital bed with second and third degree acid burns on 35% of his body. 

And they are still flushing out his eyes with saline. It's been almost twenty-four hours since the accident.

I won't go into too many details, but he will need skin grafting and a lot of time to heal.

So what happens when your hero falls? You become his heroine.

You pick him up. You nurture him. You feed him, give him something to drink, and say things to make him smile. You never let him see you cry- at least in the beginning.

Yesterday I was the damsel in distress and he would come and save me from the kids, the repairman, and computer viruses. Today he's the one who needs me, and I will be there for him.

Yesterday he was my hero, Today I am his. And when we're through this, we will both be wearing capes.

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Cleaning Pause That Lasted Years!

There I stood amongst the debris of my life, wondering how things could have gotten so out of control. Of course, not having cleaned the house in forever didn't help- when was it anyway? Last week? Last year? A decade? From the coating of dust, it could be the latter- unless my cats decided to shed all at once and are running around naked.

I like clean and neatness, I just don't do clean and neatness. It's not my gift. It's not even in my vocabulary. At least until we decided to buy our very first house.

Moving does something to people. At least to us people here in Clutterville. We dream of a better, neater life where no clutter or junk drawer exists, and every bad habit we have will be eradicated the second we step into the new digs. But then I look at all the things surrounding me and wonder, "Who buys all this stuff anyway?" and I have no one else to blame but myself- and my husband. It's his fault for letting me have a bank card.

I know I cleaned this place before, I just don't remember when. There was a vague wisp of a memory about two years back, and something about cleaning maintenance, but that wisp escaped me when I saw I had email. Two-hundred and fifty thousand dollars of life insurance for only a dollar a week was worth looking into, after all! If I died, my family would have the funds to pay someone else to go through all this stuff!

But nooooo, I didn't get the insurance, and I didn't die. I have to put on my Big Girl pants- if I can find them- and get to work.

I started picking up the mess, dust motes flying about me like clouds of angry gnats, making me sneeze as I breathed them in. The cats (who weren't naked, after all) shot me looks of resentment as I removed things that made great kitty hiding places, as well as kitty obstacle courses. I'll miss their little antics, like falling off a pile of books when they misjudged a leap, or the surprised swipe of a paw from a concealed overturned box as his fuzzy brother walked by. Fun time was over, and it was time to get to work. The Cleaning Pause That Lasted Many Years was now over.  

I just hope I can get rid of most of this stuff before the move!             

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Homemaker- The Household Warrior

Back in the fifties, the homemaker was a mandatory job whenever a woman married. She bore children, took care of the house, and made sure her husband was fed and taken care of. Homemakers became anathema during the sixties, and were looked down upon until the turn of the century. 

Now? It's a mixed bag of nuts- some people admire or envy us homemakers for what we do, and some look at us with disdain and contempt for 'wasting' our talents on home and family.

I don't see it as a waste of our God-given talents. We sacrifice when we have to, use our skills to make the most of what we do have, and spend our time in growing a family instead of a bank account. Does that sound wasteful to you?

But what about the money? I hear some ask. Don't you want to live better?

Money won't keep me company when I'm old, it doesn't help me lick the frosting off the beaters, and it certainly doesn't hug me when I'm feeling a bit run-down. Money doesn't love me back- that kind of love is a one-way street.

This is the essence of a Homemaker:


We are Household Warriors. We are the pretend monsters to test our children's bravery when they bear swords made of vacuum cleaner parts. We are the healers of Great Wounds made by rogue bicycles, falls, and renegade children. We are the feeders of the masses, pulling sweet and savory delights from the fiery ovens so that hungry mouths are sated and bellies are filled. 

Our battles are not just in the kitchen. We fight the everyday invasion of dust bunnies and their musty ilk, ward off Great Beasts like spiders and other creepy-crawlies- sometimes uttering battle-cries when one of them dares land on us. Don't let those shrieks fool you- that is the cry of a true Warrior; courage is when you face your biggest fears- Even if the critter is the size of a gnat.

Gifted with senses beyond the norm, we know when our children are in danger, and when they are the cause of the danger. We sense trouble in the silence, or when the tone of a cry changes from want to desperation of services needed. We can tell if an injury warrants a kiss or serious tending, and can usually render that tending if need be. We are the sleuths of Great Mysteries, and are able to define any item in the house, no matter how small. And we know who took the last cookie in the cookie jar.

I am a Homemaker, tried and true. I am blessed to be home for my husband and children, and blessed to be able to provide good nutrition for my family, keep the house in order, and still able to use my talents to bless others. Being a homemaker is a gift, and a greatly appreciated one.

I am a Homemaker. I am a Household Warrior. And when the kids go back to school, I am a woman who needs a nap!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Spiritual Clutter

 We are in the process of moving, and as I go through all the things we've collected for the past thirteen years (okay, it's mostly me that has been collecting), this got me to thinking. I felt so much better after getting rid of bags and bags of clutter, I wanted to do that with my heart too. I didn't just want to move, I wanted to move on.

Going through things helped me to see just how comfortable I became with clutter, even though I had to move around it to get anywhere in the house. Oh, I'm not as bad as those on those hoarding shows, but I definitely had potential of qualifying within a few years! At first I didn't want to let go of anything- especially when my husband stated he wanted to make a fresh start and not take anything. After my initial panic (or perhaps because of my initial panic) I realized I'd been holding on to too many things. 

And you know me, I never do anything half-baked. So I thought if I had to change one aspect of my life, maybe I needed to change more than my environment. I needed to change my heart.

But how on earth does someone change their heart? Habits yes, environment yes, but my heart? It wasn't really that bad, was it?

Looking into your own heart is harder than trying to toss out your cherished things. It's harder than climbing a mountain on roller skates. It's hard, because you know what's there, and it's hidden for a reason. Just like that box of stuff you stashed away 'just in case'. 'Just in case' never comes, so why would you hold on to all that junk?

It wasn't easy getting rid of things, but after the bags were out of the house, I felt like the elephant that was sitting on my shoulders like a pet bird had disappeared. The same thing needed to be applied to my heart. It will take longer to let go emotionally, but I know I'll feel better for it!

The unexpected twist of letting go is it changes you for the better. I've seen people happier after they finally forgive someone that's done them wrong, or let go of resentment of someone- even if that person isn't in their lives any longer. 

Letting go means no resentment or anger towards anyone in the past- just learning the lessons given and moving on with your life. 

Yes, I'll be taking a lot less stuff with me on the move. Yes, I'll be trying to establish better habits. But I'll also be looking into my heart and getting rid of the clutter there too. The last of the three might be the hardest, but would definitely be the most rewarding!

Monday, August 20, 2012

It's a Big, Big House!

With lots and lots of room! Come on, sing it with me!

Why am I singing this song? Because this week we found a really nice house, and bid on it. Our bid was accepted, and now we are on our way to owning our very first house!

We haven't had a chance to get our own pictures taken of it, but I wanted to show all of you via the real estate pics. Please allow me to take you on a semi-virtual tour!

First, the outside. It's sunny around most of the house, and the front is mostly in shade. There is a shared driveway (which we can't park in because it's attached to everyone elses  parking spots, but is perfect for dropping off stuff into the yard. The street is a two lane street one way, so it's quiet, shaded and has decent parking. It's about five blocks from our church!

 Windows are all over! Here you see from left to right, the enclosed porch, living room and dining room windows, as well as the second story bedrooms. Did I mention there's a third floor? And a small attic? And a basement? Did I also mention we were thrilled when we found all that out?
 The backyard needs work, but my husband likes to landscape anyhow, so now he gets to play in the backyard along with the kids. Me, I'll be in the house. You'll see why in a few more pics. ;)
 This is the porch wall we share with the neighbors. No idea why they didn't get a pic of the actual porch, but imagine all white walls with a tan stone tile floor. Now imagine me sipping iced tea and reading a book here first thing in the morning!

*UPDATE- I took some extra pictures so you could see how awesome the porch is! Yep- that's stone tile on the floors!

 The living room is a lot bigger then it looks! Everything was redone and repainted. Move-in condition indeed! Of course, this will probably be the neatest it will ever be after we move in here.
 The dining room also has carpet- good that it's nice, bad that we will have to eat over it. Can you say 'area rug' and 'carpet cleaner' boys and girls? I knew you could!
 THIS is why I won't be outside much. Let him go play with weeds- I'll be too busy using my brand-new appliances baking bread and making all kinds of goodies on that new stove top!
 This is about all the counter space we have, but there is one wall next to the new fridge that I already have ideas for- like a drop-down shelf that can fold up against the wall until I need it- er..knead it for baking bread! It also has stone tile floors and the walls are tiled and easy to clean!

 *UPDATE-This picture and the next were ones I took during inspection. I love the natural light!

Now you know where the fridge is!Our old one is going to go in the basement for storage of the big stuff, since this fridge is smaller. My husband was the one who didn't want to switch them, stating that he wanted everything to match!

The best part will be whenever we make a huge pot/bowl/tray/container of something for a get-together, we won't have to store it in here and try to find our way around it all- they'll all be stashed downstairs!

 They didn't take many pictured of the entire master bedroom, and I wondered why, since the entire house was redone. From the left to the right is the door to the hall, a double closet, and what I thought was another closet....
 But instead of a closet, it was a bathroom, complete with shower! I will NEVER get interrupted again! Our current rental home has a single bathroom (and I act like that's a hardship, and I will be so happy when I can go in peace- especially since the bedroom door can be locked. Heh.
 Tiny, but private- just the way we like it!
 This is the bedroom next to the master bedroom. This sucker is going to be my new sewing/writing space!
 And yes, folks, there is a 'public' bathroom on the second floor also. The kids can get a bath or shower to their hearts content, without mom and her small bladder having to interrupt every ten seconds. And you thought it was the kids bothering me all the time!
 I think we need to get a shower curtain....maybe.
 This entire week my son was muttering..I can't wait to have a second bathroom! The surprise is, we actually have three- okay, two and a half. The third one is in the basement, where the realators apparently forgot to take pictures.
 This is the hallway on the third floor. I was surprised it was this big!
 I expected little dinky rooms, but they were almost as large as the ones on the second floor- and a lot more sunny! Even though this one looks shady, when we went in to look, it was like a sun room- my daughter claimed this one for herself. My son was going to complain (since he is older and claimed first pick), but then...
 MOM! This room looks just like the Titanic! The wood paneling sold him on this room in a half-heartbeat. Titanic is one of his focuses, and who am I to try to talk him out of anything? Especially when they chose their rooms without an argument?
 The best part about his room is there is a little pull-down staircase that goes into the attic. He's pretending it's part of the Titanic too. The attic is barely my husband's arm span, and will be perfect for those things we use rarely. The ladder needs replacing, but is usable.

Everyone has a closet, a decent amount of privacy, and the kitties will have a blast exploring once they get used to the space. We have enough room to entertain friends and family, and we are going to be getting rid of a LOT of stuff before the move.

There are a lot of kids just two blocks away. We know this because we've been looking in this area for two years, and these kid invited ours to come play with them while we looked at houses a year ago. My kids had a blast, for their new friends were not only friendly, but respectful and kind when my son explained his Aspergers to them. Now we get to be neighbors!

Two years ago we asked God for a house. We wanted a big, big house, with lots and lots of room. A big, big kitchen to make you lots of food. A big, big yard, where people come to chat. A quiet, shady street, where many kids are at! And after two long years (and learning how to listen to Him and be patient!), He finally gave us a house!

Inspections and settlement will happen within the next two months, and we should be in before November- a perfect time to get ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas! We already know what we're thankful for, who needs gifts when you have the best house ever given to you by God?

God is good!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Have a Life 'Do-Over!'

Back in the olden days there was no restart button- it was called 'do-overs'. Made a mistake? Do-over! Didn't make the basket? Do-over! Wouldn't it be nice if we could do that in our adult lives?

Maybe we can!

Our family is looking for a house, and one subject keeps coming up as we sort through things to pack.
I want to find a place for almost everything, and get rid of a few things- like that junk drawer and the extra fondue set. My husband said he wanted to go one step further- if it were up to him, he would leave everything but the necessities, and start over. Being the borderline hoarder that I am, my heart started immediately racing- give up everything? Before I went into total hysterical mode, I had to find out what he really meant. So I asked some poignant questions:

"Do you mean our five million books?" "No", he said. "We read those."
"Do you mean your model trains?" "Nope!" He said. Which was okay by me since that is his one and only hobby. "We're going to make a display in the house."
"The kitchen gadgets?" "Maybe- it depends on what we use regularly."
I had a bad feeling about where this was going.
"My sewing stuff?" He nodded. "Yep- that should be sold, or donated."
"All of it?" I asked, incredulous. "Yep- you haven't been in your sewing room since October."
"So you want to get rid of all my stuff, but none of yours." He smiled. "My things take up one box. Yours is taking over the house." Oh sure, bring logic into it, I fumed.
He saw my dismay and decided that an explanation would avoid him sleeping on the couch that night. "If you actually used all that stuff, I wouldn't care. But you don't, you haven't, and right now, it's taking up space. Space we can use as a family in the new house."
I snorted indignantly. Use my stuff? Why would I want to use it? If I used the fabric, beads, wire and everything else, it would be gone! All that fabric would become bags, quilts, wall-hangings, purses, and all kinds of cool things I would either sell of give as gifts. I'd have all these usable items all over the house, instead of all this pretty fabric in neat little piles for me to look at! Use it? That notion was as silly as trying to teach cows to play marbles!
He kissed me on the cheek. "You really need to start looking into your life and seeing what's really important to you." he said. "All this stuff is keeping you from your true potential."
"Fine." I said, folding my arms to let him know what I thought of his unreasonable advice. "I'll think about it."

I let the conversation drop until he came to his senses. In the meantime, I went to my sewing room to take a look at my glorious pile of treasures. Which now seemed less glorious. In fact, if I compared my sewing room to jewelry, I've been wearing a heavy gold chain about my neck without realizing just how much it was weighing me down. The hoarder in me yelled "But it's really nice stuff!" and the practical side of me said, "He's right, you know. You need a serious 'do-over'."

I really hate it when my husband is right. Well, sort of right. I planned on compromising.

In the end I agreed to get rid of at least half of the sewing items. More if it was possible. 
And guess what happened when I made that statement? I felt better! 

I began thinking of the new house as a chance to establish new habits- you know how something can make you think in a certain way? Whenever I think of sitting on a couch I want to turn on the TV- even if I have a book in my hand. It's a habit I've attached to that piece of furniture. But if I put a bookcase where there was once a TV, 'd probably be reading more. So having a house do-over would let me set new patterns, and establish better ones. Especially if I get rid of unused items.
It's funny how we tend to hate change, yet change is what we need to become better people. We resist it, but we love it too. It's just a matter of looking at things with a child's eyes and say 'Do-Over!'- and then go do it. Even if we weren't moving into a new house!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Professional Bread Anyone?

Just a little back-story here, to let the excitement build...

Once upon a time I went to a deli and asked if they made their own bread, since they had a brick oven on the premises. After chatting for a bit, he offered to let me look at his cookbook. Thinking this was the 'secret diary' of baking (complete with handwritten recipes), I was ecstatic.

The next day I stopped by, he handed me a book- it was not what I expected. It was not the hand-written Tome of Bread-making Knowledge full of secret recipes handed down from someone's great grandmother. It was a professional cookbook; one that didn't have recipes, but formulas. Yes, you heard me. Formulas. This was not an ordinary cookbook.

First, this book was over five hundred pages long, and wasn't just filled with bread recipes. It had everything from fish to desserts, from fancy pastry to how to properly cook different cuts of beef. And this man let me take the book home to study it for a few days. Study was indeed the correct word. You see, this book was used for big-time culinary school students. I was holding a book I would never have held without paying a college tuition!

After reading the first few pages on bread (yes, there was no tiny pre-paragraphs before a formula/recipe in this book), I'd realized that this was no book I could learn in a few days. I couldn't copy it either, since it had about a thousand pages of text to scan. So I did the next best thing- I took the ISBN number, copied it, and returned the book to the deli guy. I would buy my own book if I could!

The good news was that the book was available to buy- for one hundred dollars. Being the savvy shopper I am, I did a little snooping. It's a good thing I did too, because I found another book by the same author that focused only on the culinary arts of bread-making. Both were on some obscure site I'd never heard of, but that wasn't the best news- both books were selling for a whopping one dollar apiece! Shipping for each was about three dollars each. I couldn't hit the 'Buy' button fast enough! A few days later I was holding two professional culinary cookbooks worth a small fortune (at least to me!) for a paltry eight dollars total.

I was in pig heaven.

I flipped through the pages slowly, savoring the diagrams of the six-fold flaky pastry, the shaping of artisan breads, and even how to make hoagie rolls and other baked goodies. But there were two small issues. One, the formulas weren't in cups and teaspoons, but pounds and grams. Despite the wonders of the internet, no one could really fathom just how much flour was in a pound (the best guess was 'about'  four cups), and this was an exact art, so I couldn't just guess. Two, there was a secret ingredient that I didn't have, that made the bread rise better and make the crust softer. It wasn't essential, but I wanted to do it right- besides, who doesn't want a softer crust and better rise?

I got back online and ordered a baker's scale and the secret ingredient (malt powder, aka diastatic malt powder). They should be here in a few days. We also went to Lancaster and bought unbleached flour and unbleached bread flour (25lbs. each), so when my goodies arrive I can start the baking process! Of course I want to see if I can measure it out in cups and teaspoons if possible, as well as break down the amounts as well- after all this is not a restaurant and I don't need twenty loaves of bread at a time! Of course, if I made it all up and froze some, it would last longer....or had a bunch of friends over for sandwiches....or donated some to a shelter...the possibilities are endless!

I'm no longer in pig heaven- I am in bakers' heaven!

I can almost smell it baking...can you?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Intolerance- Thy Name Is...Misconstrued

Chic-Fil-A has been getting a lot of flak about their stand on heterosexual marriage. Gay rights activists are shouting about the company's intolerance and plan rallies and 'kiss-ins' in protest. I don't get it.

Intolerance means something won't be tolerated. Did Chic-Fil-A state they wouldn't allow gays to eat there? No. Have they gotten all of their employees together and rallied at the local gay support groups to protest? No. All they said was they support a man-woman marriage. They never said 'We Hate Gays'. Sounds to me like the ones who are suffering from intolerance are the very ones making these claims against the Christian-based company. Again, I don't get it.

They want the right of free speech. They want the right to their beliefs. They want to be able to promote their opinions (and their businesses opinions) the way they see fit- yet when someone else does the same thing- and it's against their own opinion- there is a great cry of 'Intolerance!' and they rally around the so-called offender until they see things their way.

Sorry, but that's bullying. Chic-Fil-A is not the one doing the wrong thing here. Those who are fighting Chic-Fil-A are the ones who show the most intolerance. Bullying is not accepted in our schools, so why is this type of behavior acceptable in society?

I encourage you who are supportive of a man-woman marriage to go to Chic-Fil-A and show your support- even if you can only afford the one dollar ice cream cone. Let them know that you're there for them, and you believe in a biblical marriage too. Write to the company president and tell him. Blog it. Facebook it. Share this post. Do what you can against this bullying that's being misconstrued as intolerance.

They are allowed their opinions, but by God's Will, so are we- and it's time to let them know we are done being bullied about our beliefs.

And to those at Chic-Fil-A...Don't let the bullies win!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Menstrual 'Pains'

This wonderful fact of life occurs from puberty to 'whenever it feels like stopping' regularly, or irregularly. But there's one rule that's consistent regarding this stage of life-  it never happens when it's convenient.

Why is it that:

We bloat like balloons for at least two weeks, then pee for two days straight after it shows up?

Even after all that water loss, we never lose an ounce?

When the sugar/salties hit us, it makes us eat weird things like pretzel coated ice cream or chocolate-covered potato chips?

It always shows up in the middle of the night, right before a big event, during a vacation, or when we're wearing white pants/shorts? Or when we're teens, and we have to do a problem on the blackboard?

We can never find the ibuprofen when we need it, even though we know we have an elephant-sized bottle in the house or in our purse?

Our body temperatures go from volcanic to arctic the moment we get the sheets off?

No one has invented a fan in the floor that will blow up our nightgowns to cool us down?

Just when we need the most comfort, we can't stand being touched?

We get an icky surprise when we sneeze or cough, yet we can't just bear down for a few hours straight and get it over with faster? (boy, if we could do this, we might not have problems with the 'night before a vacation/big event' thing!)

They make the pads so thin you can't feel them, but you also can't tell if you're totally protected? I want one I can feel, so I know I'm covered!

Certain companies added wings to the pads? Oh sure, they protect the underwear (sort of), but don't they curl around the panty and face the inside of your pants? That's a bad thing...right? (especially if they're white pants?)

The cramps can be so bad that even if you sat on a volcano, the heat wouldn't be enough to give you relief.

Just when you think it's done and relax, it decides to show up for one last huzzah- right when you have no backup in your purse?

And men wonder why we're so grumpy this time of the month. 

One of these days I'm going to write a spoof of 'The Twelve Days of Christmas' based on this (if it isn't out already, that is). I think the women of the world could use a good laugh!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Living a Nail Polish Existence?

For the past two weeks I've been having fun with my daughter painting our nails all kinds of interesting colors. Last week it was pearly pink with purple glitter, this week it was dark purple with purple glitter (yes, I like purple glitter on my nails!), and this week? I have yet to decide. 

I chipped off the old polish (which was chipping and falling off anyway), and began choosing my new color (one that will probably don purple glitter) when I noticed my nails. Stuff I didn't see after I don the polish.

There was a little dirt, some uneven spots, and a few nicks in my nails. Not big ones mind you, but enough that I knew I had to trim them a little and do that nail board thing to shape and smooth them. A nail goddess I surely ain't- I had to look up nail care advice on the Internet first!

God decided to turn this recent little vanity into a lesson. Only when I removed the pretty polish did I notice my nails needed work. How many times have we done this in our spiritual lives? How many times have we covered up some blemish in our hearts with a little purple sparkle? How many times have we quickly chosen another color to brush on so we don't have to look at the dirt under our souls? 

More importantly, do we even bother to try cleaning that stuff out before we add a new coat of polish?

Personally, I don't like the idea of dirt under my nails before I polish them. I like the feeling I get when I do a job well (like staying in the stinkin' nail-bed and not hitting my skin- which isn't often), and that means cleaning the nails, shaping all the rough spots and washing my hands before I start polishing them. If I don't, I feel like I have zombie nails under all that color. 
And no, I'm not a nail diva- the second the polish is dry I'm back in the kitchen getting chips in it by washing the dishes. 

I like the feeling that my nails are as good as I can get them before I make them pretty. I also like the feeling I get when I get rid of some soul dirt. That makes me feel pretty too!

Do your nails reflect your spirit? Do you need to trim this, smooth out that? Have you regretted doing something and feel a little grit in your soul when you think about it? You don't need colorful polish- just do your best to get your spirit right, pray, and let God's colors shine through you!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Seeing With New Eyes

I want you to do something for me after you read this paragraph. I want you to close your eyes for a few minutes. Why? For two reasons. One, I want you to use your other senses to 'see' your environment, and Two, to get a better perspective on things. Closing your eyes will allow you to imagine your life differently. I want you to forget what your messes look like, and allow yourself to create the life you really want in your mind. Not only your home, but your inner self life as well. What would you come up with if you could make any changes? Do this for at least two minutes, and remember to keep it positive.
Ready, Set, GO!

What happened? Did you imagine a life without clutter, or did you imagine the house smelling of fresh-baked bread? Was your life less stressful? Did you find joy in hearing your children playing in the background? Write down what you 'saw' in your mind. Does it compare with your current life? Can you look around and see what changes you can make for the better? Did you pray? Did your mind wander?

Did you do a little bit of everything?

This weekend God opened my eyes to many things- self reflection isn't always pretty, but can change your life once you realize that you are the one who can change things if you don't like them. That includes your environment as well as your inner being. 

If there's not enough joy in your life, you need to make room for it. It can be something small- for me it was an 'out of the box' moment- I bought nail polish for my daughter and I. One was pink shimmer, and the other was clear with purple sparkles. Both of us now don pink nails with the purple sparkles on top, and we look awesome! I barely have nails to paint (and it always chips off when I do the dishes), but it doesn't matter- when that sparkle catches my eye, it makes me smile. And my daughter loves to chip it off the next day so we can have another nail-painting session.

Don't get me wrong, she loves the polish- but it's the time I spend with her that matters. And yes, I'm going back to the dollar store for more colors so we can try new things!

When doing this self- reflecting, I've learned a lot about myself- and what I don't like I'm changing. You can too- just stop making excuses (like I used to) and do it. Make yourself and your environment better. Step out of that box - it hinders the view of the horizon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Change is never easy. 

If you're like me, you hate having to step outside of your Comfort Zone. It doesn't matter if the change is large or small- if you tend to resist change, your reactions will reflect in the size of that change, whether it be ant-sized or the size of an elephant.

Think of your comfort zone as a balloon. You leave it alone for a while and it starts to shrink- but if you untie the knot and blow fresh air into it regularly, it expands and widens your perspective. The problem is people are so afraid of popping their Comfort Zone balloons that they don't even try to untie the knot- and their comfort zone shrivels up like an old grape, with them feeling trapped inside.

We have to step out of our comfort zones on a regular basis- We become stagnant and afraid if we don't!

Let me give you a few examples:

1. We plan to buy a home for the first time. It will be cheaper than renting, but fear is causing me to hesitate. What if we can't handle the responsibilities? What if we miss a payment? What if the house leaks, or we have rats the size of horses? What if the place collapses five minutes after settlement?

This is how my thoughts run when I become afraid- they jump from reasonable to mind-numbing unreality. Here's another:

2. I'm working on becoming a public speaker. What if my topics are uninteresting? What if I stutter or my voice shakes during a talk? What if I forget what I'm talking about? What if they hate me and either fall asleep or start pelting me with fruit? What if my clothes decide to pop a button or rip during my presentation, and fall off because I'm shaking so badly?

You see what I'm taking about here? It doesn't matter if it's big or small, my fearful reaction to stepping out of my comfort zone will only yield one result if I let the fear take control. I'll stay in my Comfort Zone and do nothing, where my fear wants me to be. 

But that's not where God wants me to be.

When my thoughts run this little gambit, God tells me to answer in faith. He wants us to step out of our Comfort Zones. He wants us to expand as His followers. He wants us to grow, become confident, and face our fears, no matter how big or small. Why? Because He's right there beside us, egging us on or holding out His arms to catch us if we fail.

No, change is never easy. But it's necessary to become a better, more confident person. 

Face your fears. Step outside your Comfort Zone. Expand that balloon and see where it takes you. You might be surprised where you end up!