Wednesday, May 23, 2012

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet" or would it?

A rose SHOULD smell sweet.  Or at least have an appealing fragrance of SOME kind.  In our attempts to make hardier, bigger, bug resistant, and bushes that bloom abundantly, roses have lost something - their smell!

When a bouquet of roses is delivered these days, there is no need to inhale appreciatively  - for there will be no discernible scent.  How will one stop and smell the roses if there is nothing to stimulate the olfactory? I embarked on a search for roses that do give off a lovely perfume and found the hybrid tea rose to be just what the Dr. ordered.  Filling that prescription, however was quite the feat.  I finally found what I was looking for!

Today, I cut my first fragrant bloom from the Firefighter variety of rose - I just had to share!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Give Thanks for the Fleas

I must have been around 10 or 11.  I was spending the summer with my grandparents in Mississippi, and was constantly hungry for something, anything to read.  I had mowed through the volumes of Reader's Digest Condensed books, and was looking for something new when I came across Corrie ten Boom's The Hiding Place.  I am certain that I had no idea what it was about when I picked it up.  


The book tells the story of Corrie and her sister Betsie.  Because of their strong Christian beliefs, they felt obligated to help their Jewish friends during Nazi invasion.  The Hiding Place was a secret room built into their home.  Ultimately, they were discovered to be aiding the Jews and were imprisoned.  Eventually, the sisters were transferred to Ravensbruck.  


At Ravensnbruck, the sisters shared their faith when they could.  It was difficult because of the constant surveillance of the guards and the beatings that would ensue.  The conditions were worse than any of us in our warm beds and freedom can possibly imagine.

"It grew harder and harder. Even within these four walls there was too much misery, too much seemingly pointless suffering. Every day something else failed to make sense, something else grew too heavy."
Then they were moved to a barracks with rank, flea infested straw mats for beds.  It seemed too much to  bear.

Betsie discovered God's answer:
"'"Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus." That's it, Corrie! That's His answer. "Give thanks in all circumstances!" That's what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!'

"I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room…"
They thanked God  they were together. They thanked God they had a Bible. They gave thanks for the horrible crowds of prisoners, because more people would be able to hear God's Word. And then, Betsie thanked God for the fleas.

"The fleas! This was too much. 'Betsie, there's no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.'

"'"Give thanks in all circumstances,"' she quoted. 'It doesn't say, "in pleasant circumstances."  Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.'

"And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong."
Turns out that the fleas kept the guards away.  The women were not brutalized or forbidden to worship because the guards would not come in.  

To this day, I am humbled and in awe of the concept of giving thanks for the fleas.  Because  Corrie went through that horror, and then honored her sister's memory with the writing of the book, I and millions of other have been inspired. 

So we must give thanks for the fleas in our lives.  God puts us where he needs us.  He uses our circumstances to mold and shape us.  He also uses them to teach and influence others.  Though we might not understand it, God uses ALL things for good. 

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Wish I had", or "Glad I did"?

When I decided to go back to school after the age of 30, I wrestled with the decision.  At the time, I was a stay at home mom with a husband who provided more than enough to meet our needs.  I had no driving passion to learn about any one thing.   Certainly, there was a cost involved and I just didn't know if it was going to be worth it.

To top it off, I would be attending classes with people whose sleep-deprivation was alcohol-laden and self-induced, as opposed to my sleep deprivation which was caused by an infant's hunger pangs, teething or just having no idea that midnight was a time for sleep instead of play.  

Beyond all the roadblocks, there remained a desire to reach the goal I had started so many years before.     My kids were little, so I would not be able to take many classes at once.  It was going to take quite some time.  At first, I would just be taking one class per semester.  Forget quite some time, this was going to take FOREVER!  


I decided the time was going to pass anyway.  Whether I took one class at a time or not, the days would turn into weeks, months and years.  My prevailing thought was  - "I will turn 40 either way". 

So I went back.  I thoroughly enjoyed my classes, professors and classmates.  I came away with a degree in Non-Profit Administration which is something that I found I had quite a love for.  All the while, my "I will turn 40 either way" mantra saw me through the times I thought the classes would never end.  I am proud to say I graduated with honors and crossed the stage long BEFORE my 40th birthday.  

Today, I reached a smaller, but similar goal.  I completed the 100+ hours of the Ziglar Success Institute online training.  I started back in September.  At the time, I had no idea how long it was going to take.  Life kept getting in the way.  I would get distracted, and stay off the site for days and sometimes weeks at a time.  There were times when I was sure I was never going to tip the scales on how many hours I had completed vs how many I STILL had left to do.  But I kept at it - and I DID IT!

We have two choices when it comes to seeing things through.  We can say, "I wish I had", or "I am sure glad I did!"  Today, I am very glad I did!  It is so easy to quit something that seems daunting, but it is infinitely MORE gratifying to get to the end.

I will be looking for my next challenge soon.  Accomplishment is addictive!


Sunday, May 13, 2012

May is for Milestones!

I decided that May is for Milestones today while perusing my FaceBook wall.  The last few days have brought many celebratory events.  There was a marriage, graduations from law school, seminary and undergrad, a charity 5K and a martial arts certification today ALONE! 

Several of my FaceBook friends are opening or expanding new businesses.  The common them of these businesses is following BLISS. Such an awesome and rewarding goal!


Congrats to everyone who is embarking on a new chapter today!  Studies show that because you set a goal and accomplished it, you are much less likely to suffer from poverty, depression and even physical illness.  

Fighting mediocrity is something we all must do in order to insure our own happiness and the stability of our society.  We set a good example for those around us by sharing our achievements  and constantly striving for excellence.

Acknowledge these events in the lives of your peers.  Not only will it make them feel great, but you will get inspiration!

If you or someone you know has reason to be proud - share in the comments below.  It's your chance to toot your own horn or spotlight someone you love!


Hooray for May!



Saturday, May 12, 2012

The Key to My Undoing

Superman has kryptonite, I only need a group of 5 year olds singing "I love you, Mommy".  That's all it took to reduce me into a puddle this morning.  

My daughter attends a church preschool.  Today was "Muffins with Mom" day.  I wouldn't have missed it.  Two classes of 5 year olds standing on bleachers, following the recorded music and the movements of their teacher.  Some swaying, some looking everywhere but forward, a few barley whispering while others belted it out with gusto.  

Priceless.  

I made it through the first number okay.  Somewhere in the middle of the second song, the tears simply started falling.  Sweet little voices, angelic faces and the most heartfelt expressions all combined with guileless preschool lyrics turned on the water works.  Thank goodness I grabbed a wad of toilet paper on my way into the Fellowship Hall.  Even now, the words on the screen are becoming blurry as I recall the morning. 

When my first child was 3, I attended a similar event at her church preschool.  They read Robert Munsch's Love You Forever.  I had never heard the story, and did not make it through the second "like you for always".  Eleven years later, I cannot even describe the storyline without falling apart.

I come from a long line of stoic Southern women.  For the most part, I am true to my heritage.  When it comes to my kids however, all bets are off.  

Today I was reminded of the only other woman I know of who responded this way to children.  June Thompson.  My elementary school principal.  A wonderful woman loved by all who knew her.  She was so beloved, the school district renamed her school June Thompson Elementary.

During assemblies, we always sang our school song (in a round, led by the all-powerful sixth graders)  a few of our school favorites and ended with "Let There Be Peace On Earth". Invariably, she would need to make some announcement or dismiss us at the end.  Several moments would pass while she composed herself enough to speak again.  Every time we sang, she was moved to tears.  She wasn't embarrassed.  She didn't try to hide it.  She was overwhelmed with joy and thanked us for singing such a beautiful song.  

Thank you, Mrs. Thompson for teaching me to feel so deeply and honestly.  I truly believe that I would not have the capacity to cherish these moments as greatly as I do were it not for your example.  



Thursday, May 10, 2012

Mawage is wat bwings us twogeva twoday....

I love the Princess Bride, and could not resist the opportunity to quote the minister!


So, there is a TON of talk about marriage this week.  Gay marriage, hetero marriage, yes marriage, no marriage.


I think the bigger question should be IF you get married, what plans do you have to STAY married?


Marriage is not easy, but it IS exceedingly rewarding.  In The Case for Marriage, Waite and Gallagher cite some of the benefits:

• Married people are much happier and likely to be less unhappy than any other group of people.
• Married people live up to eight years longer than divorced or never-married people.
• Married people suffer less from long-term illnesses than those who are unmarried.
• Married people are less likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors such as drug and alcohol abuse.
• Married people have twice the amount of sex as single people and report greater levels of satisfaction in the area of sexual intimacy.

So exciting!  Let's all get married!!!  Wait a minute!  Hold your horses!  What everyone needs to understand is you CANNOT reap the benefits without putting in the time and effort required to prepare the soil, sew the seed and tend the crop.  


I know a couple that recently divorced.  The woman filed for the divorce and then became very unhappy when she could not maintain the lifestyle to which she had become accustomed.  She wanted to keep her life the same, just have the guy exit the picture.  It doesn't work that way! Only by staying married can you have the happily ever after.  


Marriage is WORK.  It is also a LIFETIME CONTRACT.  Something we seem to have forgotten.  Until death do us part means just that.  (Please don't go to the extreme on me here, I am talking about the vast majority of marriages, and I do understand that abusive relationships must not be tolerated.)   It is not about a party.  You don't get married because 'it is time'.  It's not a test-drive to see if you like the way it runs.  It is a commitment to join your life with that of another.


Our society is suffering.  We place doubt in the minds of our children  - if we can stop loving our spouse, will we stop loving them, too? We are teaching our children that nothing is sacred.  They learn that if you don't like it - get out of it and go try something different.  


What about sticking with it? What about hammering out an agreement when we differ?  What about making the effort to understand the other person and put their needs before your own?  We have diminished the meaning of the word VOW to the point that it has little or no value. 


Let's encourage people to get married for the RIGHT reasons.  Let's encourage them to take a long hard look at the meaning behind those words we say in front of the officiant.  Take more time to plan your marriage than you do the wedding.  Commit to constant communication and improvement.  


If your marriage gets sick, take it to the doctor.  The marriage that has the BEST chance of survival is the one you are in right now.  The divorce rate increases drastically with each subsequent trip to the alter.  


Nurture your spouse, fight for your union and remember that love is a VERB.  







Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sometimes you just have to DO it!

"The exceptions will kill you."  The first few times I heard that phrase, I really didn't grasp the meaning.  I get it now.  When you set a goal or make a plan, you have to stick with it.

I am a natural procrastinator, so it is no wonder this exception concept did not compute.  "I'll do it later", "I'll do it tomorrow", "I'll just skip this one" - all thoughts regularly floating through my head.

Hopefully, I am getting better.  I have to get better in order to teach my children procrastination is a bad thing!

I promised that I would write a blog daily for at least a week.  I have a list of topics all ready to go.  I just couldn't get excited about any of them tonight.  I am sure that I will be enthused about them again at some point.  (There is one topic on my list that may never get written because I have no idea what I meant when I wrote it.)  Once again, the thought of procrastinating crossed my mind.  But I couldn't NOT post.  We all know that things are easier to do the second time.  Had I skipped tonight, it would have been really easy for me to skip tomorrow and then it might be another 3 months before I posted again!

I decided I just had to DO it.  Just like exercise, I am always thrilled when I finish, but have sure a hard time getting started.  Typing up the blog now is more about not having any regrets tomorrow as opposed to fulfilling a goal for today.  At this point, I will apologize for the content of this particular post, but i won't be sorry that I posted!

So, as you go through the rest of your week, any time you decide to just DO it - even if you don't do it well  - give yourself a pat on the back for keeping your momentum going.  There are days when that's all anyone can ask for.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Outta the Loop

Once again I find myself  out of the loop.  How does this keep happening?  I consider myself a pretty savvy individual - but there is just so much to keep up with!  I am not behind like I was in Behind...Again.  This is more like a Links and Tweet and Circles, Oh My problem.

I am specifically referring to Pinterest and Instagram.  Two more apps with which many seem to be enthralled.

I got the gist of posting my photos, but now I need to do the Instagram thing to make them better?  I am not sure I understand.  I have to do a double-take on my FaceBook wall these days to check and see if the photo is of someone in this century or not.

Pinterest I have yet to scratch the surface on.  From what I have observed, if you like it, you 'pin' it.  What does that mean?  How does the question of whether I like salmon with mustard sauce even come up?  Does anyone really care?  I am sure that I will find this to be an invaluable tool.  I will wonder how in the world I ever got along without it.

Part of my aversion is I have never been good with 'fads'.  The longer I live, the more I learn we are a fad-driven society.  I want things to last longer.  I like a great classic skirt or cute pair of flats.  I am getting a little tired of all things disposable and temporary.  Take the toaster, for instance.  No one repairs toasters any more.  Where would you even go to find someone to do that?  It doesn't make financial sense for toaster manufacturers to stock spare parts.  We just throw the toaster away (filling landfills), and get a new one.  But the toast is never quite the same.

As I get older, I also realize that I want to spend less of my time on frivolity (see the post on addiction!)  and more time investing in meaningful endeavors.  10 years from now will I still have my Instagram photos?  Will I be able to find the items I spent time pinning?  Who knows.

I won't let my fad-aversion make me eccentric.  So I will look into these new things and embrace them if I deem them beneficial.  I am always interested in improving life wherever possible!  Of course, now I will have to come up with yet another password........

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Name is Conia Sell and I am an ADDICT!

Not drugs, not alcohol, not even gambling - CastleVille.  Before you assume I am making light of addiction, I assure you nothing could be further from the truth. 

I have long known I have an addictive personality.  I can't even remember when I wasn't aware of my tendency to get hooked on things.  Somehow, by the grace of God, I have always known.  So I never - yes NEVER smoked the first cigarette.  If I had, I would probably still be a three-pack-a-day smoker.  Never tried drugs for the same reason.  I have a glass of champagne probably 3 times a year.  I only take $20 into a casino - must leave all other forms of payment in the car.  Really.  No Joke.  Mind you, although these issues are usually tied to morality, my aversion stems from a desire for self-preservation.

Never thought a silly FaceBook game would be the thing to get me.  Why can't I be addicted to something like exercise, or cleaning maybe?  These would at least make me healthier and my home more presentable! 

It started innocently enough - I was helping a friend.  She was searching for eggs on FaceBook.  Some ap way back in the day where you went to other people's walls in search of the elusive eggs that were the right color or had the right design.  If I joined, she would have somewhere else to look.  Then I started looking. 

A client and I were chatting one day.  She played Mafia Wars.  Now I had resisted Mafia Wars for quite some time. My sister and her friends played and needed more people in their Mafia to make it stronger and allow them to accrue more loot.  Something broke me - this lady needed just one more Mafia Member to reach the next level!  I had to help her!  My other Mafia friends were thrilled! This is where the addiction first reared its ugly head.  I counted the minutes until I my 'energy' stores would refill. 

I prided myself on the fact that I never spent real money on these games like some other people.  THAT would be an addiction. What I was doing wasn't really as bad as what they were doing.

Soon I added FarmTown.  I got my friends involved.  You needed the friends as 'neighbors' so you could work their farm and get points and they could work yours.  We would laugh and say we had carrots to harvest in 5 hours and needed to get home before they withered. 

Cafe World - So much fun!  Cooking virtual dishes - fulfilling challenges.

I got a co-worker hooked on CityVille because I just needed one more neighbor.  CityVille was my turn to the dark side.  I needed more neighbors!  My non-addictive personality friends had lost their enthusiasm for the games.  What to do?  I couldn't build my city as fast as I wanted to! There were so many other people out there playing, but I didn't know them.  I certainly didn't want them to have access to my FaceBook.  Then I remembered another friend who has a FaceBook account JUST for playing games!! That's it!

I created an alter-ego.  I dumped the other games JUST to concentrate on CityVille.  (I had actually dumped Mafia Wars much earlier because the "challenges", even though fictional were truly evil.)  I stalked the walls of people who played, found their friends and invited them to be my friend and neighbor.  Pretty soon I had 50 FB friends I had NEVER MET and they were all helping me with my game!  The best part was I could play BOTH my regular account and the bogus account. I could give points and prizes back and forth according to what I needed at any given time.  COOL!

Along came FrontierVille.  I got in at the VERY beginning!  What a BOON!  More friends!  I discovered the Zynga Forums.  There are hints and tricks out there!!!  I was the first to finish the challenges among my friends! 

At some point I realized just how ridiculous it was.  What on earth was I doing?  How much time had I stolen from my family and goals I have for my life?  I quit.  Cold turkey.  I blocked the games from my main account and didn't go back to the alter-ego. 

Then one of my gaming friends posted a request for CastleVille.  It popped up on my wall because it was new and therefor not blocked yet.  "What the heck" I thought.  I could play while fielding phone calls or listening to a book on tape  - yeah - I would just do a little bit. I didn't even play my regular account, because I didn't want anyone to see it on my wall.  I told everyone when I quit what a waste of time those games are.  I couldn't let them see me playing them.  I would hide the screen when others came around so they wouldn't know what I was doing.  I couldn't wait for them to leave so I could get back to collecting milk bottles or arrows or castle gates.

I stalked more walls, added more friends, searched the prize postings so I could collect enough prizes to fulfill the next challenge.  I would rationalize.  I could be watching TV.  I need down time.  Just 15 minutes.  Just 30 minutes.  Just an hour.  Just one more challenge.  Morning found me wondering at what point in the day I could get to my game to see what people had done in my kingdom and if I had gotten enough dragon scales to make the next potion. 

There is no telling the number of hours that I have frittered away.  I could have been sending encouraging notes to people that needed them.  I could have crafted more of the Christmas ornaments I love to make.  I could have been reading the stack of books on my bedside table.  My plans, dreams and goals could be much further along if I had applied my time.

Everyone needs an escape, but when the escape gets YOU, that's too much. 

I quit. Again.  Deactivated the alternate account. 

I have made a list of the things I would be proud to do with my time and will keep it handy.  The next time I am tempted, I hope my list will help.  If, however, you find me buried in glass-beaded ornaments, someone please stage an intervention! 

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Password!

I have not posted a blog since February.  Wanna know why?  I forgot my password.  Yup.  It is as simple and as COMPLICATED as that!


So - I changed my password, and then promptly forgot it.   I have a great little file in my computer with a totally random name that has all my myriad o' unimportant passwords on it.  Should be easy - HA!  Not so much!


My husband upgraded my laptop - and in the process, for reasons that remain unclear, I no longer have Word.  Sooooo I could not open my document.  I gave up, and thought I would get back to it.  Every time I went to open it, Sean was not around, and I thought I would ask him later.  


Tonight I decide that I am going to get back to it!  Sean is sitting here - it's a good time.  I find the document, get the error, and hubby says I have to right click and open with "pages".  There are 2 "pages"  are we 4.1 or 2.0.2?  4.1. Okay - got it!  


I didn't put the blog password on the document.   UGH.


Okay - I'll reset the password.  Log in - send the reset email with the link.  The e-mail comes across on my phone sitting next to me, but not in my inbox on the computer.  @#$$%^#$%$%&$


Finally find the email in the TRASH.  REALLY?!   I have no idea what rule I have set which dumps Google Emails in the trash......


So - move the file to the inbox, click the link and reset the password.  But I can't use my favorite password, it's too short!  #$^%$%^%$  It has a capital letter, a lowercase letter AND a number, what more do you want from me?!


I select my backup password - ERROR!  "Please select a password not previously used with this account"  #@$@#$@#$


Okay, fine - pick a new password.  FINALLY get in only to find out that I have reset my Google+ gmail account which is NOT the account with which the blog is associated.  HOLY CONNIPTION FITS!!!


Here we go again.  Back to Gmail.  Don't know this password either.  Send the email.  It goes to the trash.  Out of the trash.  Click the link.  Have to pick a ANOTHER new password.  


VICTORY!  I did it  - here's your blog!


Isn't it amazing how we let little road blocks keep us from achieving our plans dreams and goals?  We can come up with any 'reason' not to do the things that we should.  "My cat has a toothache"! (Sean's response when someone offers him a cheesy excuse)  Often we are only prolonging our own happiness.   I have allowed something as simple as a password derail me from my commitment to write.  I am so prone to procrastination that I used something tiny as a rationale for not trying.  I'll do it tomorrow.  Oh well.  Maybe tomorrow.  Oh yeah - I'll get to it soon.  


My challenge?  Identify these lame excuses and overcome them.  The little gremlins have no place in my life and will not be allowed to stay!


Now I should go put those new passwords in my password file.  If I could only remember what I chose.......