Monday, December 12, 2011

Gonna get started on my Resolutions NOW!

Resolutions are funny.  We have these GRAND ideas of what we would like to do.  We SWEAR we are going to get started on New Year's Day and really, this time, we are going to follow through. That is where it starts, and for the VAST majority of us, that is right where it ENDS.

So this year, I resolve to be realistic about my goals.  I resolve NOT to bite off more than I can chew.  I resolve to evaluate my goals, figure out my motivation for achieving these goals, and make a PLAN to reach them.

When I say I am gonna get started early, I mean the planning.  Goals and resolutions need a roadmap.  I need to know where I am going.  I need to know how long it will REALISTICALLY take me to reach the goal.  Where are the possible pitfalls?  Who are the people in my life that can assist me in this goal?  Who will help hold me accountable?  What is the benefit at the end of the goal?  Is it worth the sacrifices I will need to make to reach it?

Don't look for my inflated declarations this year!  This year, I resolve to set my goals in a manner that will allow me to actually stand a chance of REACHING them!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

My Home Runneth Over!


My Home Runneth Over!

Today, I was slogging through my home in an effort to purge all the unnecessary stuff that seems to accumulate and multiply when I am not looking.  It was a daunting task, but had to be done.  The house was in danger of reaching maximum density!  So much miscellaneous junk!  Broken toys.  Toys no one will play with.  Clothes like you would not believe.  Craft supplies out the wazoo.  All I could think was ‘Christmas is coming up and I have to get this stuff out of here before more comes in.’ The trash bin is now full.  Four trash bags made their way to the charity resale shop.  I am still not finished.

As I lamented the fact that my task was far from over, it occurred to me that I really had the wrong outlook.  Instead of complaining, I should be rejoicing!  What a problem to have!  How many people would trade places with me in a heartbeat?  How many children in this world have no toys to play with, much less extra that they just don’t care for anymore? 

So many of us are not merely blessed with plenty, but blessed with abundance.  Abundance we often take for granted.  Who are we to look upon the gifts given to us and regard them as a chore? 

As I went through the day, I changed my attitude to one of gratitude.  When I came upon an item I wasn’t sure whether or not to keep, I placed it in the donate bag with a little prayer that it would go to someone who needs it and would have no hesitation about saying that the item was wanted. 

I was able to offer up many thanks today.  Once I got started looking at my blessings – they were even more abundant that the ‘stuff’ I was getting rid of.   Instead of complaining about the constant stream of random items supplied to my children by their grandmothers, I gave thanks that my children have grandmothers in their lives.  Instead of complaining about finding more laundry when I thought I was finished, I gave thanks for my washing machine.  I don’t have to haul my laundry down to a creek and pound out the dirt on a rock! The list went on and on.  What you concentrate on really does multiply.

I will probably watch a little closer and make sure items coming through the door are actually needs instead of wants.  The miscellaneous stuff from well meaning family and friends will probably still get through.  From here on out, I am going to resolve not to get irritated, and instead get grateful! 

~Conia

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's 10:45 am. Do you know what your husband is doing?


What does your husband do?

I am constantly amazed at the number of women that truly have very little idea what their husband does all day.  When you ask them, the answer is ‘some kind of engineering’ or ‘he’s in the finance department at XYZ company’ or “I don’t care as long as he sends home a paycheck”

I am certain this empty portion of the marriage is a major contributor to a great number of divorces. 

As women, we need to have a greater understanding of what our partner is going through for the majority of his waking hours.  When you think about it, he spends MUCH more time with those people than he does with you.  They are an extended family of sorts.  They go through a great deal on a daily basis that brings them together whether they like it or not. 

We must also consider that the loss of a job is not merely the loss of the ability to provide, but also a loss of the wacky extended family that he has been living with for many years.  There will be mourning.  If you don’t know ‘who’ he has lost in addition to ‘what’ he has lost, then your ability to support your spouse in his time of need will be severely limited. 

My husband and I are coming up on our 19th anniversary.  (Would you believe me if I told you I got married when I was 8?! I thought not.  Oh well.)  The secret to our longevity is due in no small part to nightly “de-briefings”.  When he was working as a process engineer, I could hold my own when shop talk would begin at social gatherings.  The shocked looks I received from the other engineers were a clear indication that none of their wives spoke the language.  The point is that I knew what was going on in his life on a daily basis and could cater my support of him because I was in touch with things like deadlines, vendors and the quirks of a SEM.  (Engineer lingo for a Scanning Electron Microscope.) 

We all desire to be understood.  The dentist who runs off with the hygienist is not only attracted to her physique, he is attracted to her because she ‘gets’ him. 

Make an effort to understand your spouse.  You can bet they will do the same.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Are we Winning?!

This weekend was our semi-annual girlfriend’s weekend.  A time for relaxation, renewal, and a little (or a LOT) of tie-dye.  We are exceedingly blessed to have a retreat in south-east Oklahoma out in the woods. 

Friday night was a gorgeous, clear night and we sat out for quite some time in the hot tub.  We marveled at the difference a lack of city lights can make in our view of the sky.  Each time we looked up, the stars seemed to have multiplied.  At first it looked like just a few – then dozens, then thousands and tens-of-thousands. 

We began to contemplate the possibility of other planets and life similar to Earth.  Suddenly I blurted out – “ I wonder if we are winning?”  My friends looked at me in quizzical wonder.  I asked again  - “I wonder if we are winning?”  Things I never gave thought started occurring to me.

 I don’t think we are God’s only planet.  With all the stars out there, I just don’t see that as being possible.  If we are not the only planet with life forms, how do we compare?  My feeling is that we might be the stubborn child.  The one God loves with all his heart, but we just haven’t gotten the message yet. 

While the “winning” was a bit tongue-in-cheek, I don’t think we are living up to our potential and doing all we can with the gifts God has given us.

Think for a moment of our global society as a team.  We have all been drafted. There are team captains, those with more experience and gifted with insight.  These captains are challenged to bring the others along, help the rookies find their way and develop their talents.  There is no salary cap.  If we perform well individually, we will reap the rewards commiserate with our effort, but there is a limit.

Our contracts have provisions for team performance in addition to those individual clauses.  In order to get the most out of life, we have to work in concert with others.  If we don’t pull together, and help our fellow man, the whole team loses. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Be Careful Little Eyes What You See

When you have a 4 year old in the house, and she attends Sunday school and a church preschool, you’re gonna run into some Bible Songs.  My little one and I have been singing “Be Careful Little Eyes” lately.  The song tells us that the “Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes what you see”

I ran across this theme again in Matthew.  6:22-23 says “The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be sound, your whole body shall be full of light. The meaning of the eye in this instance is the lens through which we view the world.  Whatever we let through those eyes can either fill you with light or darkness. 

It occurs to me that as parents, we are not nearly as careful as we should be.  The mind is a steel trap, and whatever we put in is there for good.  I often wonder why I can’t get it out when I want to, but that’s another story altogether! 

Back to the point – be careful what you see.  We expose ourselves to explicit, amoral or simply hateful behavior in the form of movies, TV and music.  We allow our children to experience all of these things and sometimes role-playing video games as well.  All of those sounds and images cannot help but have an impact on the way we view the world. 

I got involved in that lovely FaceBook game called Mafia Wars for a while last year.  I gave that game up before the others in my horrible addiction.  The reason I could let that one go was that I finally started really paying attention to the ‘tasks’ that were required to get from level to level.  They were AWFUL.  Kidnapping, murder, theft on massive scales.  All in the name of fun and diversion.  Why on earth was I even participating?!

Our kids are so susceptible to outside influences.  There is more information out there and easily available than ever before.  We owe it to our kids to limit some of the rubbish that enters their lives.  These things cannot be un-heard or un-seen.  A great deal of the information is simply too much for children to handle.  Someone once described information as a suitcase you have to carry with you.  No more than we would give a child the giant Samsonite, should we burden them with information on topics they are not equipped to process.

Whether it is a computer, a fuel tank, a body or a mind, the same principal applies:  Garbage In, Garbage Out. As parents we must lead by example. Our children will model whatever we do.  We owe it to our children to feed them as best we can.  Their health and happiness depends on it.

~Conia

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Behind....again


I love Calvin and Hobbes.  There is a cartoon of Calvin that floats around with a caption that says- “God put me on this earth to accomplish a certain number of things – right now I am so far behind, I may never die.”  I am feeling every bit of Calvin today.  There are so many incomplete things in my life.  Add to that the things I have identified which I would like to do daily and have not, and there is a to-do list of MASSIVE proportions. 

It comes down to disorganization and procrastination.  I am THE BEST procrastinator EVER.  While Ben Franklin admonishes us, “Do not put off until tomorrow, what you can do today”, and I understand all the reasons why, I often cannot be compelled to save myself.  Intellectually, I know that my life will run more smoothly if I would just buckle down and do certain things regularly.  Somehow that which I know to be true in my head, simply has no power to compel me to take action. 

Often, I just do not have the mental stamina to do what needs to be done.  Sometimes it is the physical stamina.  I have identified a solution that I know works:  Work out every day and make sure to get my MonaVie.  (Good nutrition) It’s amazing what your body can do when you are healthy.  It is also amazing what your mind can do when you commit to a plan and are disciplined enough to carry through. When I do those two things daily, my life starts to resemble a well-oiled machine.  Because I have started my day well, one good habit leads to another and soon my list is getting done.

The problem is that I lose momentum.  I forget to drink my MV, or put off working out, and once I have done it for one day, it becomes easier to do the next time, and the next time and the next.  Once I lose the momentum, I get irritated when my day doesn’t go well.  Once again, I know in my mind what to do, but choose not to. 

A lack of accountability makes it super easy to get derailed, while being accountable to someone keeps me moving in a forward direction.  If I know someone is watching, or has expectations of me, I am almost hyper-motivated to get things done and done right.  Lose the accountability, and my whole life tends to go south. 

It would be unfair to place the blame on someone else for my own lack of motivation, so I can’t say “Well, no one ever held me accountable.”  Even when people try, I am often able to wheedle myself out of any negative consequences.  I CAN do this  - I have done it before.  I know My Heavenly Father is the best accountability partner I could ask for.  I just have to take his calls.


~Conia

Proverbs 12:15
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man is he who listens to counsel.” (NASB)

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Need a Little Therapy?



“How do I do it?”  Tin Cup demanded.  “Do what?”  “Therapy.  How do I do it?”  So adorably vulnerable sitting in the ‘therapist’s’ office, having absolutely NO clue what ‘therapy’ was about or how to proceed.  While excellent fodder for a movie, I am certain that a great majority of our society is just as in the dark as our golfing friend.

It occurs to me that ‘therapy’ takes on many disguises.  For instance – I meet several girlfriends for Friday Breakfast each week.  This meeting, while not in a clinical or office setting, absolutely serves a psychological need.  Few topics are off limits and we cover the spectrum from meals to teenagers all the way to investments.  There is a flow of ideas and concerns, followed by instant feedback and advice.  Viola! Group Therapy!

Date night is another time for reflection and planning.  It doesn’t matter where it takes place.  Could be Starbucks, the ice cream shop or a nice restaurant.  The important part is my husband and I spend some alone time in an environment without work or kid interruptions.  We look at where we are, where we are going, what went right this week, what was not so good and how to proceed.  Marriage Counseling!

Meeting with a mentor or superior in your company to discuss challenges and opportunities – Occupational Therapy!

God did not put us here to be loners.  He designed us as social beings, to rely upon and enrich one another.  Heavy loads are much easier to lift when we work together.  Sometimes merely being able to share a problem allows us to deal with it.  Often, a different point of view is all that is needed in order for a solution to present itself.  When we allow someone to be part of our problem, they become part of the solution.  Few things are as satisfying as working in cooperation and seeing the problem through to a positive result. 

There are certainly times when a professional is necessary.  When a situation goes beyond the normal day to day, you owe it to yourself and those around you to seek assistance. 

By making time to meet with others on a regular basis it might be possible to catch and address situations before they hit the crisis level.  As an added benefit, breakfast is MUCH cheaper than a therapists’ hourly rate!

~Conia

“For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them." 
Matthew 18:20


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Meditation?!?

meditate |ˈmedəˌtāt|
verb [ intrans. ]
think deeply or focus one's mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.
( meditate on/upon) think deeply or carefully about (something) : he went off to meditate on the new idea.
[ trans. ] plan mentally; consider : they had suffered severely, and they began to meditate retreat.

 Twitter led me to Deepak Chopra.  Deepak Chopra led me to https://challenge.meyouhealth.com/about_daily_challenge.  It’s a site that gives you small daily challenges meant to raise your awareness of healthy habits.  There are points and little awards involved, so the competitor in me loves it.

Today’s challenge was about meditation.  Meditation?  Really? Meditation is for crunchy people – right?  You have to go into some sort of sacred place, figure out what a lotus position is and do some kind of chanting – don’t you?

The daily health challenge just said to find a quiet spot and concentrate on my breathing for five minutes.  I could do that.  There were points to be gained and badges to be won!

The five minutes went by slowly, but I didn’t fall asleep! At first, I felt guilty because I had so many things that needed to be done.  I was eventually able to transition and just concentrate.  At the end of the 5 minutes, I have to say, I felt like I had hit the reset button.  Those of the crunchy persuasion might call it ‘centered’.  Whatever you call it – I felt better. 

Our lives have become fast-paced and busy.  I cannot remember the last time I was actually bored.  So maybe this quiet time needs to play a part in our lives.  When our children misbehave, we send them their rooms to ‘think about’ what they did.  That’s a form of meditation.  What if we took time everyday just to go to our room and think about it? 

Without labeling it as such, meditation has become a recurring underlying theme in my life lately.  One of my favorite “Zig Talks” includes a suggestion that I spend 15 minutes at the beginning of each day sitting, thinking and praying for my day.  I got a tweet the other day that told me it is in times of stillness that we open our hearts and God can speak to us.

Today’s challenge makes the third such suggestion.  I may be hard-headed, but I DO get it eventually.  So I think I will incorporate a little purposeful ‘time-out’ each day.  It might do this mommy some good.
~Conia

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Green-Eyed Monster

So, I was humming along the other day, feeling good.  I have been focused on my blessings lately, finding purpose, and generally positive about my life.  Then a series of events re-acquainted me with a family friend I had not heard about in quite some time. 

She is about 10 years younger than I am, and we had simply fallen out of touch. She is doing quite well.  Through the magic of Facebook, I now know many things.  She and her husband are fabulously fit because they compete in triathlons.  Their babies are adorable.  They could be poster children for Gerber.  The décor in their home is the stuff of House Beautiful.  All their family photos are professionally done and flawless.

I was suddenly hit by a case of jealousy the likes of whice I have not experienced since my best friend in fifth grade had Gloria Vanderbilt jeans and I didn’t!  I couldn’t understand it.  Usually I am able to be happy for someone who is doing well.  While I like ‘stuff’ I don’t feel the need to have it all.  I love my children and know that they are gorgeous.  Why, all of a sudden did this bother me? 

Then through more Facebook magic, I got my answer.  I posted how I was feeling.  A good friend responded to my post.   I understand. Living right next to (insert spendy neighborhood here), I struggle with house envy all the time. And it's not just the houses, it's my perception that they are all skinnier, prettier, more organized, etc.”

That was IT! It wasn’t the trappings, it was the story that the trappings represented to me.  Their life seemed easier than mine.  They seemed more organized.  Flawless complexions must mean flawless days.  Children with perfect curls could never throw temper tantrums like my 4 year old.  Dinner always tastes good, the dog never chews things he’s not supposed to and she never has a bad hair day.

Smiles frozen on the screen said ‘Yes, we have it all – don’t you want to be us?’.  My wise friend also said something else – but you never know what it's really like in someone else's life.”

There is no way to know what someone else is truly going through.  The chances of their life being as fabulous as it is in my mind are remote.  Even if their life is fabulous, the last line from my friend is the important part: At least we have enough self-awareness to fight against the green-eyed monster, instead of letting it consume us. :-)”

We choose how we are going to respond, we choose what we let affect us.  The Green Eyed Monster has only the power we give him.


~Conia

Proverbs 14:30 ESV 


A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot

Monday, September 19, 2011

My Vows didn't have a “Boredom Clause”


I am beginning to think that some marriages are coming with a 'Boredom Clause'. Somewhere in the fine print, whispered at the end, there must be one. “Til Death do us Part, or I'm just not feelin' it anymore.”

A wedding is not merely a reason to have a party. You don't get married because it is 'time'. Thousands upon thousands of dollars are spent for the extravaganza that is the bride's BIG DAY. Heinous dresses, gimongous sprays of flowers, battles over ivory or ecru invitations are seeming requirements these days in order for a couple to say “I Do”. Were these couples to spend one-tenth the time, money and planning it took to pull off the wedding on such endeavors as pre-marital counseling and discussing how they view life and the future, we could save a whole-lotta heartache.

I have recently run into several couples that have made the decision to get divorced. Most have children. One or the other of them has decided that this marriage was too constricting, maybe they could do better, or it wasn't quite what they expected. So, rather than re-examine how they got here, remember why they fell in love to begin with, and commit to ride out the tough time, they call it quits. The ones that irritate me the most are the ones who say “We're still great friends”. I see red just thinking about it. Don't degrade the term marriage with such a cavalier attitude. If you are still great friends, you really didn't try hard enough.

My marriage is a little over 18 years old now. I had NO IDEA the twists, turns and pitfalls we would endure. There have been many times when the ease of just being able to go-it-alone has crossed my mind. Yield and compromise are rare in my fighting style. Suffering through, asking for help, and coming to an agreement are a close second to walking barefoot on crushed glass. In the end, however the benefits of working it out FAR outweighed the alternative. I love my husband with a fierce devotion. Our shared experiences make us who we are and enrich our lives. We stay together because you reap the benefits of the effort. We decided to do that when we got married. It wasn't a whim, it wasn't a trial offer. It was a vow.

~Conia

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Links and Tweets and Circles – OH MY!


Over the past several weeks, I have been researching this whole idea of Blogging.  The blog itself is an effort to open my heart and fulfill the purpose for which I have been placed on this planet. (But that’s a whole other topic!)  What I have discovered is, the more I know, the more I find out I don’t know

Blogs are not merely on-line diaries, they are tools for education, support and networking.   So now, I have to figure out how to most effectively market the blog in order to reach the intended audience.  What a Pandora’s box!  There are some blogs that have 15 or 20 ‘buttons’ at the bottom for sharing their content.  There are blogs about blogging.  There are whole websites and businesses dedicated to getting followers for your blog.  How’s a girl supposed to choose?

MySpace never interested me.  I only got involved in FaceBook when my high school reunion came around and I wanted to see if everyone had aged as much as I had!  Until recently I had no use for Twitter – I really didn’t want to know when celebrities were getting their hair cut.  Call me a convert – I have found many worthwhile people to ‘follow’ and get a good bit of viable information from their ‘tweets’.  I was already Linked-In, but I wasn’t doing it right.  

Now I find out that I must Google+, but I have to have an ‘invitation’ and then form my ‘circles’.   It’s kind of like getting the nod from one of the cool kids to join their table at lunch.  All of these combine to form my Klout score, which goes up and down according to some mysterious algorithm, taking into account my likes, followers, network size, comments and retweets.  Effective use of these tools can mean the difference in a blog reaching your 10 besties or a world-wide audience.

I am at that crossroads in life - no longer young, but not yet old.  At this point one must make a conscious decision to keep up with the times or be left behind technologically.  I know now why my grandmother’s VCR always blinked 12:00!  This is going to take some real effort on my part.  I am going to have to consult with younger minds that will politely try to hide their incredulity that I do not grasp such seemingly easy concepts.

There is no choice but to forge ahead.  Achieving my goal of reaching out requires action.  Many years of viability lie ahead and I intend to make the most of them.  Staying relevant means staying current.  I don’t want to be the grandmother who has to ask what LOL means.


~Conia

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blind Date

I, for one, am always interested in the back-story.  I love the 'behind the scenes' on a DVD!  So, I thought I would post my reaction to meeting Jen.  (Maybe I should have saved this for a future mid-season slump!)

Enjoy!
~Conia



26 July 2011
  
Having never been on a blind date, I can’t say what it really feels like.  Today I came as close to a blind date as I think I will ever get.  It was definitely a set-up.  An old friend said, “ I have someone you HAVE to meet!”  So we did.  A mutually agreeable location was chosen and a time set.  We swapped background stories, shared hopes for the future and philosophies on why we are in our current places in life. 

This blind date however was not the romantic kind.  It was an arranged meeting for a new friend and colleague. Until Old Friend mentioned it, I had no idea that I needed a new friend or colleague!  What if I didn’t like her?  What if she didn’t like me?!?  What if Old Friend was wrong and we really had nothing in common?  This is where you have to trust your friends not to lead you astray.  Considering the source, I knew this was going to be okay.  Old Friend is not generally flighty or impulsive and has always been wise far beyond her years.  I was present when the idea of meeting New Friend occurred to her, and I am certain that it was somehow Divinely Guided. 

So I went.  New Friend is very much like me, but has an obviously better sense of style.  We chatted as if we had known each other for years.  We have common interests and common philosophies on life.  Then it was up to us to figure out why we had been thrown together.  Just like a blind date, we were brought together for the purpose of creating something bigger than the two of us could do individually.  

We both believe that everything happens for a reason.  Neither one of us is questioning the decision to go down this path.  We cannot see what is on the other side of the hill in front of us, but we are stepping forward in faith, knowing there is reward for forging ahead.

When I left I was satisfied, knowing all had gone well, that we would see each other again soon, and would continue making plans.

As with any new relationship, I am at once cautious and excited.   A relationship of any kind carries with it responsibility.  Expectations are bound to be challenged, and one day she will find out that I am even more flawed than I first appear!   We’ll cross those bridges as we come to them.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jen, meet Conia. Conia, meet Jen

There are people on earth who serve as God's Messengers.  We know, because one of them is our friend, Tyra!  This blog would not exist without her, so it seems only fitting that we reveal how it all began.  (It is also nice knowing there is at least one person on the planet who can validate our ability to write!)


July 20, 2011:


Hello, Jen and Conia!

I think the two of you need to meet.

1. You both are entrepreneurial.

2. You both are excellent, persuasive speakers.

3. You both have a passion for writing but need a little push.

4. You both seek and listen for God's guidance. And then you actually follow it. (Some of the time. No one is perfect.)

5. Among Jen's gifts: finding and sharing bargains, making a house feel like a home, advocating for children with special needs

6. Among Conia's gifts: sharing life skills with children and their parents, sharing the importance of financial responsibility

My big picture idea is that the two of you could co-write a book and/or lead workshops together. But at a minimum, you two should meet. So, how about lunch or coffee when it works with our schedules?

Also, I'm going to be emailing both of you writing prompts/encouragement. 

Love from your pushy friend,
Tyra